Sequence: Give a Dog a Bad Name (part five)
Rascka cut him short, speaking in a level, warning voice. Through the open door Rob could make this out, but not the words. Magda began to laugh.
He’d gone then, to see for himself. He saw Ethan at the corridor’s other end…on the landing, leaning over its rail of shellacked log, watching something beyond the foot of the stairs.
“Hey!” Rob yelled. “What is it, Ethan?”
Magda was behind the curtain and stood cloaked, singing “S’wonderful”, pivoting on one heel. Rob, at an amble, called out his question again, heard Ethan hiss through his teeth…as though he shushed. That, Rob could hardly believe.
He found himself enveloped in a pair of arms.
“So…it was a guy with a camera.”
“No! That was Magda. I got rid of her.”
“I’d just like to know what you did with Mary.”
He had twisted left, twisted right. She was inches taller and an uncomfortable weight for him to bear, and she giggled like a flirt, clinging on. Ethan stalked round them without a word, gone before Rob could ask for the third time, what’s up? Rascka jogged from the staircase, to pass the couple with only an affable curve of the lips.
Left to it, Rob walked Magda in reverse, bumping her through the unlatched door. By almost sitting on her lap, he managed rolling her off onto the bed. A hand plucked at his. He tugged fingers from his belt. He reached the window beside Rascka, and for safety put his back to the wall.
He heard only the end of Rascka’s talk. “Your face has been seen a few times in the newspaper of late. No, the one I saw could not have been Oliver. Ethan! Very likely it is mere coincidence.”
Bragg’s face, drained of color, was…more or less ordinary in appearance, though faintly sheened. The doctor skimmed off and crossed the room, putting a hand on each of Magda’s shoulders. He bent his head next to her ear, and whispered. Whatever pill or injection she’d taken, her metabolism must by this time have assimilated it. She neither laughed nor pawed at Rascka, but spoke in a lucid whine. “But I can’t go to the dining room by myself!”
“No,” he said. “Of course, Magda, I do not suggest it. I will introduce you to Alfred Oliver. It has been hardly any time since I’ve spoken with him…he himself dines alone, you see. He will not yet have got to his cake and coffee. Mr. Oliver will be flattered to meet a friend of Mrs. Bragg.”
At the shutting of the door, Ethan said, “When we came out here, did you have the impression someone was following us?”
For Ethan’s sake, Rob thoughtfully fingered his chin.
Give a Dog a Bad Name
(2016, Stephanie Foster)