The Editor's Wife

The Editor's Wife by Clare Chambers Read Free Book Online

Book: The Editor's Wife by Clare Chambers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Clare Chambers
unsuspicious nature that it took quite a few fruitless minutes of waggling the key and reassuring myself I’d brought the right one, before it dawned on me that the lock had been changed. Gerald had changed the lock! Now that I came to look more closely I could see it was rather shiny and unscratched.For a moment I was too staggered by the hostility of this manoeuvre to do anything but stand and gawp at the now obsolete key in the palm of my hand. I felt a sense of indignation at being shut out of my boyhood home that was thoroughly at odds with my earlier determination to spend as little time there as possible. If there had been a piledriver to hand I would have battered the door down without remorse. As it was, I would have to call out a locksmith.
    Before resorting to this time-consuming measure I decided to check the back of the house for any vulnerable points of entry. The gardens on our side of the row gave onto an alleyway which had once served me and other local kids (Gerald excepted) as a cycle track, smoking area and loitering point. I walked between the houses to our gate, my mind still turning on the implications of this latest development, and when I tried the latch the answering clunk of a heavy padlock didn’t come as any surprise.
    In clambering over into the garden I caught my jacket pocket on a nail and tore it loose so that all my change fell out into the alleyway. I suppose it was my own carelessness that was to blame: I didn’t want anyone mistaking me for a burglar, or seeing what heavy weather I was making of getting over a six-foot fence. The back door was no less fortified than any other and there were no windows ajar – it was January after all.
    I retraced my steps to the street. The immediate neighbours were out, but in the third house I managed to raisesomeone: a woman in a nylon overall and rubber gloves who looked Greek or Turkish. She answered my polite request for a look at her local phone directory with an apologetic murmur. I wasn’t sure if she was the householder or just the cleaner, but my presence was clearly making her nervous, so I backed away, smiling.
    It was the newsagent on the corner who finally lent me a Yellow Pages when I’d explained my predicament, but the locksmith was not nearly so helpful.
    â€˜Got any ID with your address on it? Driving licence or something?’ he asked. Reception was poor and he kept breaking up. I was having to walk further and further from the house in search of a signal.
    â€˜What? No, no, I don’t live there.’
    â€˜I can’t get you in if it’s not your house, mate,’ he said, reasonably.
    â€˜Well it is my house, technically. Half of it. It was my dad’s, but he’s dead and now my brother lives there but it was actually left to us jointly . . .’ I blethered. I could tell I was losing him.
    â€˜Yeah, whatever,’ the man said. ‘I can’t do anything without ID. It’s illegal. Anything with your name and address on – council tax bill, gas bill . . .’
    â€˜I don’t carry my dead father’s gas bills around with me,’ I said indignantly, thinking
you bastard, Gerald.
‘All that stuff would be in the house. If you let me in I can get you one.’
    He laughed thinly. ‘Sorry mate,’ he said, and hung up.
    Fifteen minutes later I was standing in an inch of water in the wreckage of my former home.
    Having come this far I had to satisfy myself that Gerald wasn’t inside, dead or injured, however unlikely that was. I suppose I was motivated, too, by the less noble impulse to assert my right of entry and find out just what was going on in there. Back I went to the alley, and over the fence, taking care this time to avoid the protruding nail. It was easily visible this time, now that it had a scrap of my pocket hanging from it. I looked around the garden for a suitable tool. It would have been too much to expect to find

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