After Brock

After Brock by Paul Binding Read Free Book Online

Book: After Brock by Paul Binding Read Free Book Online
Authors: Paul Binding
Tags: Fiction
bay tree in a tub, and often I like to rub my fingers against its leaves and then hold them to my nose.
    â€˜Hi Matt,’ said Josh’s older brother, Rollo, as he let me in. Rollo often calls me this, not caring what his brother’s (in fact step- brother’s) best mate is really called. From the little sitting room at the back of the hall came the strains of a violin playing the kind of music I think of as ‘mathematics made sound’. It nearly always turns out to be Bach. The violinist had to be Josh’s (real) sister, Emily, who doesn’t go to our school but to a private all-girls’ one nearby. Though younger than Josh and me, she can do many things very well – talk away in French and German, execute classical ballet steps – so that, for all her quietness, she intimidates me. And guys mustn’t be intimidated, ever. I intend some time to do or say something that impresses, or at least surprises, her. Hearing this music had the same effect on me as seeing those ducks upending themselves in the water; it refreshed me, eased my tension a little.
    â€˜Josh, you know, won’t be free to come downstairs for at least a quarter of an hour,’ Rollo told me, ‘he’s busy.’
    I went up to the bay tree, doing that thing with the leaves that I like, ‘By the way Josh did text me just now saying come right over!’
    â€˜I know, I know,’ said Rollo, ‘I was there. He’s finishing his black belt practice, his test’s next Thursday.’ He looked me up and down as if to ask where my training and ambition had deposited me . ‘But Emily’ll be finishing any minute now.’ He gestured in the direction of the door from behind which the sweet mathematical sounds were still coming. ‘She’s having a private lesson with – with Dr Pringle, no less!’
    â€˜Really?’ Only thing I could say.
    â€˜Many, Matt, would give their eye-teeth – and maybe their pudenda as well – to have Dr Pringle teach them. He’s consulted by God knows how many high-profile musicians and organisations all over the world,’ his voice lingered a little on these words, like it was he who was so famous, ‘but he prefers just being a wandering violin teacher, bringing out his pupils’ gifts to the full wherever he goes. So it’s great for Em for him to be giving her lessons.’
    Listening to too much brother and sister talk is a pain in the arse for an only child like me.
    â€˜Well, it sounds… er, beautiful. Bach?’

    â€˜Matt, who the hell else could it be? It’s the Chaconne from Partita Number 2 for solo violin. In D minor.’
    Was there anything this guy didn’t think he knew? Standing opposite each other on the marble tiles of the hall floor, we both seemed to realise that the chance of the two of us having a good conversation was zero, so we listened in silence to the music for at least three or four minutes until it came to a stop – like some formula worked out to its close, or bird song that could end in no other way… Rollo, I should have said at the start of this page, must have timetabled leisure for himself this hot afternoon, because he was bare to the waist, and below that wore blue-and-green striped shorts.
    â€˜Em will be out now,’ he said, ‘maybe you’ll get a chance to talk to her, Matt.’
    â€˜ Nat! ’ Well, I owed it myself to remind him once, didn’t I?
    â€˜Sorry?’
    â€˜Nat, N.A.T., short for Nathaniel. Not Matt, short for Matthew.’
    Rollo threw his head back in amusement. ‘I know,’ he said, ‘it’s just that you don’t look like a Nat – and I happen to know quite a few – whereas you seem like a Matt in every move you make.’
    Luckily for him, the door opened, and first Emily, in jeans and a blue-and-white tank-top, and then this great Dr Pringle stepped into the hall, the latter

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