It was about this time I started writing what you are reading now. I asked Sonia if she could get me some paper and pens and, as an after thought, maybe some paints and things. I said something about paying for it but she just hushed me with a swish of her hand. ‘It’s ok’ she said. ‘Don’t worry about it.’
I’d like to be more relaxed about it but I seem to be a bit anxious about money. Ross has commented on it. Must be my upbringing (about which I still remember nothing). This is why I wanted to write things down – to try to keep things straight, try to work out what has happened.
Some more things happened in the night. When I woke up someone was sitting on the foot of my bed. He smelled of fish and the sea. I was absolutely terrified until he went down to the pantry and came back with some lemonade. Somehow that didn’t seem a very terrifying thing to do so I quietened down.
‘You were shouting’ he said after I’d had a drink. ‘I came in to see what was up.’
‘And you are?’
‘Name’s Kevin. I was just on my way back from the beach. Fishing...’ he added, miming casting a rod. I could make out his face now – weather beaten and hairy and deeply tanned, although I could tell he’d been a white man once. His eyebrows and beard were very white. I passed him the empty glass. I don’t know why. I could have put it on the table like I normally would. He seemed awfully familiar somehow.
‘Anyway’ he said, turning to go. ‘I’ll bid you a good night.’
‘Oh I’m getting up now. It’s nearly light anyway’ I say. ‘Fancy a coffee?’ He looks at me doubtfully and then I follow him down. I tell him to make himself at home and he flops down onto the right hand sofa. For some reason I feel the need to talk to him. It’s only when I’m taking his mug over to him that I realise my legs actually feel more or less normal. Ross said the walk would do me good. Well well.
I start off by asking what he heard – what I was shouting about. At first he’s very vague about it and I suspect he’s not being entirely honest with me, or perhaps that he doesn’t want to get involved. The truth is though that I remember quite a lot of it myself. What I want is to know what it means.
‘It was fairly confused’ he says. ‘A lot of “No no no!” stuff going on, like someone was trying to force you to do something you didn’t want. Mean anything to you?’
‘You seemed pretty angry, but scared too. You were saying something about something being wrong. You were saying “It’s just not right” a lot, over and over...’
‘Didn’t you used to be a guide?’ I say – again, something out of the blue. He sits forward now, on the edge of the chair, cradling his coffee in huge hands.
‘That’s a very long time ago’ he says.
‘Do you remember me?’
‘I remember you.’
We sit and look at each other for a long time and a smile slowly moves across his face, like it’s suddenly safe to do so. ‘I’m sorry I don’t remember your name’ he says.
‘Me neither’ I say with an apologetic smile.
‘You must have really been through it this time I guess.’
‘I think so.’
He stands up and goes over to the window, bends and looks up at the lightening sky, still gripping his mug in both hands.
After a few more minutes he tells me he needs to get his catch home to chill but he reassures me he’ll be back. I wish him a good morning and watch him lead his horse off up the path toward the town. I look about me at the deep shadows under the trees and the giant ferns on the far bank, and the darkness makes me quiver. Anything could be hidden there.