I was of course lying when I said that my mother was one of the great doyennes of the theatre world. I do however maintain there can be a sort of truth even where there is a complete absence of facts. In any case it can hardly matter to you, as she is my mother and you will never be invited to meet her.
So I rolled over to my sweet mother’s house in A- Park. She has lived there for thirty years barricading herself up inside concentric circles of magnificent junk which I won’t care to sort through once she has passed, furniture and paintings and statuettes and vases and so on and so forth, room after room after room of it, every shelf stacked with two rows of books, and mirrors, mirrors everywhere, glinting in every dark corner, doubling, tripling, quadrupling the junk. At this point I should like to point out that what is “junk” to me is the ancestral silverware to you honey, but I digress. The old bird won’t part with a stick of it, for any reason or for no reason whatsoever, so there it sits and there it stays sheltering mice from the dust storms, but that just adds up to dollar signs in my eyes on the day I walk out of the solicitor’s office, newly made executor (or would that be executioner). I should like at this point to add that I had to take a break from recording my life’s adventures on a public blog because it was becoming less of a blog and more of a body count. But again I digress.
So I told you anyway that I had not seen mother for about five years. Even then there was a lengthy pause between the time she answered the intercom, (I said, “Hello Mother!” and she said, “Who is this?”) and the time she buzzed open the gate.
“Hello, Mother!” I exclaimed, at the threshold, with some quiet and unfounded desire to be clasped to the maternal bosom.
Now in regards to the lies I am occasionally forced to tell. Well nevermind. I will point them all out presently in a kind of postscript. Mother is approximately one hundred and sixty years old (or thereabouts) and has smoked like a cowboy for the best part of her life with no apparent consequences.
She was sitting in an armchair in the middle of the room, so still – she could have been dead (except that she’d answered the intercom.) Her arm was over the side of the chair with a cigarette pointing towards the floor, and the smoke from her cigarette went up and up and up while the cigarette ate itself down and down until it was an ash as long as the cigarette itself. Then the ash fell off. How I yearned for the vanilla scented days of my youth (tho not so long ago) when she appeared to have had some affection for me (at least I assume so). A raven was perched on the back of the chair quothing “Nevermore”. (This is one of the lies I told you about. It is intended to produce a gothic effect. I suppose her slippers were grotesque enough, but she is quite an old lady and so such lapses in taste need to be politely overlooked.)
Well. I moved towards her and bent my weary head on my sweet mother’s knee. She had a paper spread out on her lap and was finishing off the crossword puzzle. All of the 9+ letter words she had got, but none of the names of sportspersons. After a while (c-l-a-u-s-t-r-o-p-h-o-b-i-a) she noticed me there and said,
“Am I to suppose that is a posture of desperation – disappointments – perchance depression – at the state of affairs you find on your return from…” and suddenly stopped.
“From where, Mother?”
“From – ”
“From where, Mother?” I was interested to know whether she had been reading my blog.
She blinked at me. Then she said, triumphantly: “A European tour! Goat-herding in Italy! ” Then her eyes went slitty. She looked back down at her paper. Now she was bored. “I mean counting staples at TIMR.”
“I was sacked from TIMR,” said I.
“Oh,” said Mother. “…I was so sure it was staples.”
“It wasn’t staples.”
“But that’s what I’ve been telling everyone!”
“I was in Texas,” said I.
“Oh,” said Mother.
“I said I was just in Texas. I thought you might care.”
“To care,” she said ponderously. “—In the sense of concern for one’s welfare or to care as in to feel interest or liking?”
I decided the raven had been quite correct in the Nevermore thing. So I got up and went and sat in the armchair opposite & lit a cigarette. Then I decided it would be prudent to change the subject. We don’t all, afterall, have the time to sit around reading our one and only daughter’s one and only blog. “It is nearly Christmas,” said I.
“I loathe Christmas,” said Mother. “I can’t stand the sight of children weeping.”
“But the weather has been nice. Sunny every day.”
“Sunshine brings out the worst in people. You can see their flaws quite clearly.”
“I suppose that is why you’re sitting in this dark room, Mother.”
“Cannot stand the light being on. It attracts all of the flies, and you know I don’t like being reminded of your father.”
“And how is aunt Rosemary?”
“Dead,” said Mother.