Art Pact 212 - Eviction


We'd come to the last branch of the tree, standing underneath it in the remotest outpost of shade that the plant could offer us, and turned to look back at the house. Marshall Flowers was still standing there - still looking at us with that mixture of pity and conviction that he'd had from the moment Justice had opened the door. He nodded, just the very slightest tip of his head, but he did not look away from us for all the time that we were stood there. I don't know what he thought we might do. Assume that he'd gone and make a beeline back? There was no hope of us getting back inside, and even if we did the bailiffs would just have him break in again. It would be a kindness to him, I thought, not to make him go through all that again. Besides, it wouldn't be good for the children. Just more false hope for them. They'd lost so much, it wouldn't be fair to make them go through it all again. They'd need their strength, I supposed.

"Remember it, kids," said Molly. She had a strange tone in her voice, and I raised an eyebrow. She shook her head, mouthed: not now. I nodded.

I realised, looking back, why it was the picture had been so bad the last few weeks - the wire that should have been attached to the aerial was flapping loose, frayed or cut about a foot along its length so that it was dangling over the utility room window. We hadn't opened the curtains in the utility room for three years, not since the Murcheson's moved onto the next lot and we discovered that they liked to have sex with their own curtains wide open. We didn't want to risk awkward questions from the children, so we'd never opened the windows on that side - the kitchen and the utility room. If we had I'd have seen the aerial lead drooping from the gutter (of course, that wouldn't have been the only thing I'd have seen drooping from that window, so in the long run it was probably worth the inconvenience). The signal we'd been getting must have been picked up in the metal of the lead itself, making me wonder at how surprisingly good the picture had been, considering. Ironic, I thought, that I would realise that when there was every chance that I might not see the house again for a long time (perhaps forever, I thought, looking over at Molly. She was staring back at me with a cryptic expression which broke into a cheery smile when she saw me looking). Still, it had been my firm believe that the house could function only when there was something wrong with it, so my not solving the picture problem had probably saved me a lot of worrying about whatever broke to replace it and keep the house not quite ship-shape.

We took the opportunity to rearrange our bags. Marshall Flowers had said that he'd arrange for our furniture to be sent on to us or stored (at our expense, of course) in the lock-up business in the lot across from his office. There wasn't all that much that was ours, though - we'd been renting most of the furniture just as sure as we'd been renting the house (in the case of the bunk beds, indeed, from the same person). There was Grammy Pueller's old kitchen table, there was the couch that we'd found outside the dorm building back when Molly was in college and I'd been working at the copy place, that was about it. Everything else we had was either food or in the various collections of bags, school satchels, and boxes that we'd assembled to hurriedly stuff our clothes, knickknacks, toys and so forth into. I had the two biggest boxes, but when we juggled them around it turned out that they weren't the heaviest (by quite a long way, in fact), so we shuffled stuff around and arranged matters so that I was carrying the bulk of the things, Molly the next biggest bundle, and Aiden and Chick were just carrying their own toys and some of their own clothes - the sort of things they couldn't complain too much about having to carry. Aiden did kick up a bit of a fuss about having to carry his toy truck (I knew that thing was too big), but Molly gave him the option of leaving it by the side of the road and that shut him up pretty quickly. You can take the boy's house away, that's one thing, but take away his truck? I could have guess that.

Neither he nor Chick, in fact, were taking it as bad as they might. They'd cried when the bailiffs came in, of course - that had been bad, the men pushing their way past Justice and without a word beginning to pile our stuff out in the front yard. Chick was yelling that we were being robbed, and Molly had to take her to one side and try to calm her down while I was doing just the opposite, shouting at the bailiffs, getting in their way, anything I could do to try to make their life a little bit harder without actually having Flowers arrest me for assault or something like that. Eventually he had to call me outside and tell me that things were going to happen whether I shouted or not, so I might as well calm down and get out of this without a burst blood vessel. I didn't want to calm down, but I could see which way the wind was blowing, and I figured it was best to stop while Flowers was still on our side (well not quite, but sympathetic at least).

We let the kids walk on ahead while I craned my head around looking for Justice.

"Where the hell did she get to?"

"She'll turn up," Molly said. "Listen, I found out something." She put her hand on my arm, stopping me. "Something important."

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