Late of This Parish

Late of This Parish by Marjorie Eccles Read Free Book Online

Book: Late of This Parish by Marjorie Eccles Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marjorie Eccles
she’d once thought might well drive her mad but which she’d grown used to and and would have missed had they gone. The evening shadows growing long in Miss Vickers’s garden below and the scent of the wallflowers her brother had massed into the borders wafting in through the wide open windows. The flat had a different look about it. Not noticeably tidier, mind, but warmer, more personal, less of a bachelor pad. Julie had departed northwards again only yesterday but she’d left traces of her presence. Records, magazines ... there were even some fresh flowers inexpertly stuck into a vase, certainly not Mayo’s doing. One bloom is worth a thousand words – a bunch of daffodils to express regret: I’m sorry, Dad, I love you but ...
    Alex knew that all these authoritarian father noises Mayo was making were no guarantee that he wasn’t deeply worried about Julie, though she thought there was no need. She herself thought that Julie would probably regret later what she was doing now, but there was a core of good sound common sense in the girl, which he’d admit to when he’d had time to come round. Meanwhile, a daughter apparently hell-bent on wrecking her chances, as he saw it, was something he regarded as unfinished business, which wasn’t in his book.
    â€˜Half your problem is you’re going to miss her dropping in and stocking up your freezer with all that delicious food!’ she teased, trying to lift his mood.
    â€˜Not if it’s nut rissoles, I’m not – and half way to Australia’s a bit different from college, two hours up the motorway, you must admit.’ He leaned back, rolling the malt round his tongue, savouring it before swallowing. He looked tired as well he might, having been out catching thieves until dawn, but he was used to that and a good night’s sleep would make up for it. His big frame sagged in the chair. She must remind him to get his hair cut. It was beginning to curl up at the back in the way he hated. Suddenly he grinned, looking ten years younger. ‘Hell, no. To tell you the truth, for the first time ever I’m not sorry to see the back of her for a while. I’m not sure I can take any more at the moment. I’ve had vegetables and peanut butter and going green rammed down my throat till I’m up to here! What in God’s name’s got into her? She never used to be like this.’
    â€˜Oh come on, if you don’t have ideals at eighteen –’
    â€˜It’s not just ideals. I could understand that – or try to. But she’s in a funny mood. Dangerous. Dammit,’ he said, sitting up again, ‘I won’t let her go traipsing round the universe!’
    â€˜She’s not under age, Gil. Nothing you can do, though I suppose you’d feel better if she wasn’t going on her own.’
    â€˜She’s not going on her own, that’s the whole point! Didn’t I tell you, there’s a boy – a man – another student anyway. Some sandalled weirdo who’s put all these screwy ideas into her head.’
    â€˜Ah.’ So that was what had really been bugging him. ‘No, you didn’t tell me. That does make a difference.’ She looked thoughtful but before she could elaborate on what the difference was, the telephone rang.
    Mayo swore and let it ring.
    â€˜It won’t go away.’
    Muttering under his breath he got up to answer it. While he listened to what was being said at the other end, Alex heard the clocks begin to chime in unison, one very slightly off-synch with the others. Like their relationship, she thought. Just one degree off being perfect.
    â€˜Just a minute.’ Mayo held his hand over the instrument until the chimes stopped, using the time to gaze thoughtfully at the wall in front. ‘Go on.’
    By the time he put the receiver down, Alex knew that this was destined to be yet another evening gone for a burton.
    It was a thwarted

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