Peas in a Pod: part one
“…is deeply appreciated.”
Gremot had a leg up on the lowest of the steps leading to the bedroom that belonged to Richard’s parents. Gremot had emerged, it seemed to Richard’s mind, like some creature from the forest of folklore, upending all the rooms of his house. He had come to a standstill here. Richard had only ambient starlight and the gibbous moon by which to see, but clear enough to him were the patterns of shade against shadow, the whiteness of Gremot’s human shape. He saw a floating pale orb rise from the top step; after a moment, he recognized this as his mother’s yellow cat. He saw Gremot bend to scratch its head…and still, he showed no sign of hearing Richard, as Richard strode up behind him.
He clamped a hand heavily on Gremot’s shoulder.
For this, his quarry emitted not a sound, no cry of pain or surprise, but at the impact flung out his arms, falling back against Richard. Taken at this accidental intimacy by a fit of rage, Richard shoved him away. Gremot hurtled forward this time, falling over the steps, landing on his elbows and knees. Richard watched as he lifted himself by inches to a seated position, crossed his arms tight over his chest, then turned to huddle against the stair rail. All this in utter silence.
“Jerome. Is that your real name, or are you one of them Gremots?”
“I am called Jerome.”
“Well, I didn’t ask you that. You come here to swindle Mr. Gremot?”
“Sir, I am here for no reason. I am here because I have been lied to.”
Richard felt an impulse to use his boot on Mr. Jerome, who, he felt, rather than being lied to, told nothing but lies. And who would not look at Richard when he spoke. But Ebrach would have the sheriff out, and his father, set to despise Ebrach, would under pressure of this embarrassment despise Richard.
His anger died; his better nature began to reassert itself. “You don’t want anything, do you?”
Jerome did look at him now, and with, it seemed to Richard, from the way he cocked his head, incredulity.
“Well, I told Mr. Ebrach I’d see you got here safe.”
“Then you must tell him so.”
Lawrence had crossed the road and gone down along Sanderson’s Run to the riverbank. He would have been guided by the smell of the water and its shine under the moon, by the leaden ooze of current reflecting the glint, where overhanging trees parted, of a thousand stars. Richard could do the same, but this book of nature was not a thing he read by heart, sub-intellectually. He could smell from where he stood that Lawrence, putting a light to his store of driftwood, had got a fire going. By the odor of smoke and, when this came into view, by the glow of the flames, Richard would find his way; he could dispense, then, with the reading of tokens.
Peas in a Pod
(2017, Stephanie Foster)