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datatime: 2022-12-03 10:29:39 Author:VwfssCof

"Dear old Geoffrey" He spoke it aloud this time as he stepped into the huge and stuporously warm West Country kitchen.

"Did ye speak, young sair?" Mrs. Ramage, the Carmichaels" crotchety but lovable old housekeeper, asked him as she came in from the pantry. As usual, her mobcap was askew and she smelled of the snuff she still firmly believed, after all these years, to be a secret vice.

Writing does not cause misery, it is born of misery.

"Just a minute longer, Paul, and you can take a snooze."

"Of course. I'll just put a few things away and come right back." As soon as she was out of the room he was reaching behind him, bringing out the boxes and stuffing them under the mattress one by one. The layers of gauze kept thickening, moving steadily from gray toward black.

"Annie, could you wait five minutes?" he managed. She looked at him, gaze narrowing slightly. "I thought you were in a lot of pain, buster."

He shoved the last under the mattress, then leaned back and looked up at the ceiling, where the W's danced drunkenly across the plaster.

She took the urinal away from him and set it carefully on the floor. "Now let's get you back in bed," she said. "You must be exhausted . . . and your legs must be singing grand opera." He nodded, although the truth was that he could not feel anything - this medication on top of what he'd already given himself was rolling him toward unconsciousness at an alarming rate, and he was beginning to see the room through gauzy layers of gray. He held onto one thought - she was going to lift him into bed, and when she did that she would have to be blind as well as numb not to notice that the back of his underwear happened to be stuffed with little boxes.

"Of course. I'll just put a few things away and come right back." As soon as she was out of the room he was reaching behind him, bringing out the boxes and stuffing them under the mattress one by one. The layers of gauze kept thickening, moving steadily from gray toward black.

He shoved the last under the mattress, then leaned back and looked up at the ceiling, where the W's danced drunkenly across the plaster.

She got him over to the side of the bed.

"All done?" she asked a few moments later.

Now I must rinse, he thought.

The moisture running down his cheeks now was not rainwater but tears.

"Not on purpose, Mrs. Ramage," Ian said.

The moisture running down his cheeks now was not rainwater but tears.

"Just a minute longer, Paul, and you can take a snooze."

"I am," he said. "It hurts . . . too much. My knee, mostly. Where you . . . uh, where you lost your temper. I'm not ready to be picked up. Could I have five minutes to . . . to . . . " He knew what he wanted to say but it was drifting away from him. Drifting away and into the gray. He looked at her helplessly, knowing he was going to be caught after all.

Geoffrey was right, of course - dear old Geoffrey was rarely wrong - but sometimes when he was alone, the Gearless of Misery's escape from the Grim Reaper came forcibly home to him, and it was nearly impossible to hold the tears back. He loved her so much; without her he would die. Without Misery, there would simply be no life left for him, or in him.

"By the sound o" ye coat a-drippin" out there in the entry, ye nairly drowned between the sheds and the hoose"

Writing does not cause misery, it is born of misery.

There was an old strip of towelling hung from a hook in the entryway, and after hanging up his dripping coat and removing his boots, he used it to towel his dark-blonde hair dry.

"Just a minute longer, Paul, and you can take a snooze."

Geoffrey was right, of course - dear old Geoffrey was rarely wrong - but sometimes when he was alone, the Gearless of Misery's escape from the Grim Reaper came forcibly home to him, and it was nearly impossible to hold the tears back. He loved her so much; without her he would die. Without Misery, there would simply be no life left for him, or in him.

Now I must rinse, he thought.

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