Observatory Mansions

Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey Read Free Book Online

Book: Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Edward Carey
was a child. I was there, the streets were not. It was all my home once.
    The Ormes had lived on this land for centuries. They livedin a house not far from this park: when I was young the building called Observatory Mansions had a different name, it was called Tearsham Park. Tearsham Park was a large eighteenth-century building. There had been an older Tearsham Park, a sixteenth-century manor house, but this had been destroyed by fire. Many objects had been rescued from inside it, but the building itself had been lost for ever – its beams and oak floorboards had ignited so easily. The new Tearsham Park, built on exactly the same spot as its predecessor, was a large grey cube with a central courtyard and, unusually, an observatory built into a domed roof directly above the entrance hall.
    When Tearsham Park became Observatory Mansions, the centre of what was once the courtyard became a lift shaft. In the remaining space of the courtyard, square passageways were constructed on each floor with stairs connecting them, all the way to the top. The original grand mahogany staircase and the back servants’ stairwell were both pulled out. Where windows had once looked into the courtyard were now doors around landings. The building was divided into twenty-four flats. The observatory, in shape though not in purpose, remained. I recalled large spacious rooms: the library, morning room, drawing room, smoking room, dining room. They had all been divided up, segmented by plasterboard. But I had remembered how it all was once. The park remembered. Father remembered too.
    It was in this park, the reduced version, that my father had a stroke. People brought him home. His skin was lime-coloured. Ever after, one of his eyes drooped, the lower lid showed its pink inside. On that day Father was sitting on a bench observing the small part of park that he was once master of. He saw people, heard noise. He had a stroke and tipped off the side of his bench on to the ground.

Dogs and the Dog Woman .
    In the park worked the Dog Woman. The Dog Woman smelt of dogs, a smell like ammonia with a little vomit and urine and shit added in. The Dog Woman wore a dog’s collar around her neck and clothes (old, greasy) and was clothed with the hairs of dogs. She had many friends, all canine. Her clothes were ripped, as was the skin of her hands and thighs and ankles and breasts, by the clawing of dogs: memories of other times. Some were fresh, still blood-coloured, others were old, almost skin-coloured. Happy times, heavenly moments.
    In the city there are many dogs. They have worked themselves into a social order, into different castes: those with collars and those without. The Dog Woman, greasy, matted hair like an old mongrel, breath smelling of a dustbin diet, loved all dogs without collars. Pissy knickers. Dribbly mouthed. Dog lover. She fed the dogs in Tearsham Park Gardens. In return they whined at her, scratched her, licked her, bit her. She fed them with disowned morsels; she, in an understanding with them, shared the same diet. She barked too, and growled, and rolled on the ground and sniffed under dogs’ tails.
    She was the Dog Woman of Tearsham Park, loyal to her brood, huge and breasty like some great whelping bitch. That day I sat in the park, she wound her large-hipped, hairy way across the nearly beautiful angel of the beautiful girl that I had known for two years. The girl said nothing, immediately repaired her angel’s smudged and swollen-looking face, made her thin again.
    The Dog Woman had another name – she was also called Twenty. Two names never to be written in a passport. She was also called Twenty because she lived in flat twenty of Observatory Mansions. A convenient kennel, so close to the park. It might be considered that Twenty would surely havepreferred to sleep outside with the dogs. But she chose not to, since she didn’t want to wake with one of her dog-friends pulling her insides out, since she needed somewhere to lick her

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