Jerome: part five
“Mr. Ebrach, I have learned something.” Jerome drew his napkin across his lips. “I wish to discuss our plans with you. You may please join me.”
Already, Ebrach’s generosity in tips had become a byword at the Columbia. As he lowered himself onto his chair, a waiter appeared. “You do not have musk melon in season, do you? I am fond of musk melon. Yes…”
He glanced over the menu, and with a back-handed wave at Jerome’s plate, added, “I will have coffee, bacon…and flapjacks, rather than biscuits.”
Content, he turned to Jerome. “Do you find your room comfortable, sir?”
“Mr. Ziegler has explained…”
This adhering to topic returned with the least hint of grievance. “That you have some arrangement which will not be suited…”
“Suited,” Ebrach hazarded, “to your purposes?”
“I will tell you plainly. I cannot be away for so many hours. This is my own fault that I have misunderstood you, sir.”
Jerome stopped, and waited for Ebrach’s answer. Ebrach glanced across to the window. He considered the weather as a subject of diverting small talk…he might repeat some variation on his comment of yesterday. He suspected Jerome would grow angry with him if he did, but saw benefit in Jerome’s sour mood. He had good news for this fellow traveler, news which should buck him up nicely, and which Ebrach would deliver in time.
The waiter arrived, placing Ebrach’s plate and pouring his coffee.
He lifted his cup and sipped.
Jerome drank his own coffee. Ebrach seemed to have no business other than his breakfast. A waiter appeared with flapjacks, and while the seconds ticked past, Ebrach ignored Jerome’s watchful stare. He sat instead overlooking his plate with brows drawn, as though taking stock of what he’d been given. He then lavished each flapjack with butter and syrup. He cut a wedge and chewed.
“So… You will visit the Gremots alone. In any case, they did not expect me.”
By this, Ebrach guessed that Jerome had indeed misunderstood. But the future foretold, though it approach by such deviating paths as were the divinities wont to choose, must be a thing worth witnessing. Ebrach felt that he would persuade Jerome. This balking was a factor of Jerome’s weakness; but it was his weakness that would force his concession.
Therefore, meeting his new friend’s wary eyes with a serene smile, Ebrach said to himself, “We are not in contention, you and I. I will bring you round shortly.”
(2017, Stephanie Foster)