LEN BLOOM KNOWS it isn’t far off now so he gets down on his knees and watches. He feels taller than usual, over-sized, a giant. Raizy’s lying on her side on her bed in front of the fire, looking large and long, her legs out in front but bent as if she’s been caught running, her eyes are closed. Len looks at her chest to see if it’s moving. He’s sure it is. The house – he listens to it. Except for a crackle and hiss from the hearth there’s only a stiff quietness around him as if no one has ever lived here, as if he and Raizy had needed shelter and found a stranger’s place, no furniture, no electricity, somewhere a dripping tap, a broken window.
But there are no broken windows here, no dripping taps, there’s plenty of furniture, every room packed. Especially the bedroom, that antique bed, the imported Italian sheets, the bed spread he and Julian had bought during a holiday in Hawaii, their ‘honeymoon’ they’d called it, the bed that’s empty now but for a suitcase on top, open and waiting. And Len has all the lights on, except in the loungeroom where he and Raizy are lit only by the fire, the glowing coals rendering them both orange. He didn’t want to annoy her but he did want to have bright light not far away, like a lighthouse on a wild coast, for her, for him.
Where is Julian tonight? Is he burning the midnight oil, earning the big cash? Maybe he’s at a bar, propped up beside a schooner, thinking he still has a chance with the eighteen year olds despite being over three times their age. Will he come home late, rejected, dejected, fists clenched waiting for a reason to use them? Lately, perhaps for months, maybe years, Julian hasn’t been – he hasn’t been Julian. His chicken run, that beloved place once chockers with prize-winning hens and that rooster he’d named Little Johnny because the bird had eyes that wouldn’t know truth if it poked him in the face, is now filled with knee-high grass and the old washing machine. And Raizy – has he forgotten her? Seventeen years ago they’d carried her home, their first anniversary gift to each other; from top to tail she could fit into one hand. Yes, where is Julian, that man who once had designs on being a vet before he succumbed to accountancy? At the baths, refusing to believe that his once beautiful frame is now bloated and blank like a dead animal’s?
Gently Len puts a hand on Raizy’s shrunken stomach, smells her faint breath, feels her rise up a little then release. He looks at the dryness of her nose, the surf-break of white around her mouth, her black lips falling away from her teeth. Soon she will give up, she will leave.
And Len Bloom will pack the suitcase.
And he will turn out the lights.