Jacqueline didn't look at all surpsied to see us, she simply stood to one side and we walked silently past her. We then followed her into the kitchen and she made us some tea.
'I told you you couldn't leave,' she said, sweetly.
We were speechless for a while.
Eventually, I related the key story to her.
'Hmmm,' she said when I had finished, 'come on Ralph, let's go for a walk.'
I had just finished my tea as she said this and James and Dan looked at me expectantly. They wanted me to go for a walk with her, no doubt.
We walked mostly in silence, it was a warm, sunny day by now and the sun gave me a new energy. I began to relax. Jacqueline chatted away about her chaos and my clam and outlined some tremendous plans for the future for us. She talked about her past lives and past boyfriends (in this life), about her abusive childhood in grisly details. The neighbourhood changed slowly, becoming more ghetto-like and funky. Grafitti began to appear on walls - small tags at first, growing into full wall designs of monsters, needles and insects. Music played in the streets, old cars rusted peacefully in the road.
'I love this area,' she told me, 'it's so….' She looked for the word, '…Real!'
She led me along some thin streets and back alleys until we arrived at a roughly painted door. It reminded me of the bathroom door that the madman across the street from me as a child had put up in place of his conventional front door. It had the tiny lock on the outside.
Jacqueline banged on the door and we heard approaching noise from within.
'I wanted you to meet Gil,' she said, and then added, just as the door was opening, 'we were lovers.' I shot a look at her. 'Hello Gil!' she said to a tall, thin, hollow eyed German who was now standing in the doorway, looking at Jacqueline with a complex look. He glanced at me.
'Come in,' he said, retreating into the gloom.
Gil made coffee while I felt self-conscious and they chatted. They talked about his art and people I didn't know.
Suddenly Gil was on his feet, shouting as Jacqueline, 'Not your father again Jacqueline!' He swore and then continued, 'I don't want to hear this crap any more!'
He quickly deflated and then handed me a cup of coffee. The grinds were floating on the surface as it had just been made in a pan on a stove. Unfamiliar with this particular coffee technique I took a brave mouthful and sat there chewing away on the grinds.
Gil looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, 'Perhaps you should leave it to settle a while?' He climbed up a ladder and into a room above us.
Jacqueline pressed her lips to my ear and whispered, 'He's very sick, he's going to die.' She then bounded up the ladder after him, leaving me alone in the kitchen.
'Gil? I'm going to take a shower, okay?' she shouted. I heard the soft thump of her clothes as she peeled them off above my head and let them fall onto the floor.
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