The Living and the Dead in Winsford

The Living and the Dead in Winsford by Håkan Nesser Read Free Book Online

Book: The Living and the Dead in Winsford by Håkan Nesser Read Free Book Online
Authors: Håkan Nesser
Tags: Detective and Mystery Fiction
and methodically to trunks and branches. Water trickles under dense rhododendron thickets, and the smell of decay is everywhere.
    I made all those observations during the first thirty or forty minutes of our walk, as we were making our way down a slope on a very muddy path, apparently used recently by both sheep and ponies: it seemed to be the very same slope we had contemplated from our bedroom window that morning. And sure enough, one of the very rare signposts indicated that the path went all the way to Winsford. However, when we came to somewhere apparently called Halse Farm, which must presumably have given its name to the road up to Darne Lodge, we decided to turn and go back home. It was four o’clock, and dusk was already beginning to fall: no doubt it would be best to walk all the way to the village the next morning or afternoon. Neither I nor Castor would want to be stranded in the dark in this magnificent, bewitching landscape. The word bewitching really does seem to be an accurate description.
    When we got back to Darne Lodge we spent a few hours dealing with household chores. Yet again I feel linguistic uncertainty when I use the pronoun we . Obviously I was the one who lit the candles and the fire, and who chopped up greens and onions and slices of lamb for the stew I eventually ate myself. I was the one who did the washing up, wiped clean various drawers and cupboards, and packed away my clothes in the wardrobe and the chest of drawers in the bedroom. Castor’s only contribution was to eat his evening meal – Royal Canin Maxi for dogs over twenty-six kilos – and lap up rather noisily the water in his usual metal bowl. He spent the rest of the late afternoon and evening on the sheepskin rug in front of the fire.
    Needless to say my urge to cling on to the plural form is not all that difficult to understand. I have lived under the same roof as my husband for over thirty years, and that has left traces deep down in the grammar of my language. Perhaps it is just that I’m scared. A we has so much more weight than a mere I , even if it is only a dog that justifies its use. And it is the elder twin sister of Independence – Loneliness, the one who carries herself awkwardly, has skin scarred by scurf and very bad breath, who I have to kill and bury. Over and over again; that’s life. She is the monstrous enemy, for both Castor and myself – I don’t know why I started going on about this. Bugger it all! To hell with all this nonsensical analysis! I believe in individual human beings. I must believe in individual human beings.
    As an antidote I drank two glasses of the excellent port I had bought in Dulverton, and took out my computer. Martin’s can stay inside his black briefcase for now, the one with that irritating sticker from Barcelona. I suppose I’ll get round to opening both of them eventually, the briefcase and the computer: but this evening didn’t seem to be the right time. I established that there was indeed no internet connection here, as I had already been told. If at some future point I feel the need to link up with the outside world – for reasons that I can’t really imagine at the moment – I can either drive to Minehead on the coast, where there are several internet cafes, or to the library in Dulverton. Or at least, I assume that’s what I would need to do: perhaps there are possibilities closer at hand. Attempts to use both my mobile and Martin’s in various parts of the house were also in vain: I decided that tomorrow I would try the location Mr Tawking had mentioned – that grave on the other side of the road. In no circumstances am I going to try to phone anybody – or to send an e-mail or a text message: but it could be interesting to know if anybody has been trying to contact us.
    There again, perhaps it would be risky to activate my mobile. I don’t really know how they work. But if somebody should try to contact us – I mean really try – somebody like Interpol or a

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