The numbers, names,
facts and tunes, are all in my head, in meticulous rows, waiting to be called
upon. My brain is such a well-ordered machine and I am most proud of it;
treating it with respect and care; an alien being, that has appeared within me,
and enables me to work miracles.
The hall was cold
and there were only a couple of hundred people in the audience; I had hoped
that we had moved on from such pitiful numbers but travelling in the North, was
akin to when I first started in London, seven or eight years ago. However word
would soon start to spread throughout this Lancashire town and its vicinity and
the people would come flocking; wanting to be amazed or to try and catch me
Mary pointed at an
elderly woman in the audience.
And you madam;
what question have you got for the great memoriser?
She shuffled and
looked embarrassed, and Mary smiled at her encouragingly. Shyly smiling, she
stood up and looked directly at me; but with all the palaver it was a
disappointingly mundane question.
Who lives at
36a, Inchbald Close.
I could picture the
Accrington Street directory; page upon page, which I had memorised last evening
whilst Mary bustled about the warm room before settling down to her darning.
For a moment I could not quite read the page I needed; it was blurred, but
gradually it came into focus, until I could it clearly.
nodded, and then I paused for a moment, just for the effect a Mr John
The woman almost
curtsied and smiled.
She said, and as the people round about her applauded, she sat down, looking
embarrassed but pleased.
Is that your
son? I asked kindly, understanding that she was a proud mother.
She smiled again,
And I am sure
he does you proud.
She said something
else, but it was lost in further applause.
madam came Marys voice again, to my left. I could see that she was
feeling confident now, the audience may have been relatively small, but they
had been convinced that there was no trickery going on and were settling down
to enjoy the show. Having Mary as my assistant was such a boon; we were
such a good team, it was as if I had known her forever.
A younger woman
stood up, at first I thought she was in her mid-twenties; about Marys
age, but as she spoke and I saw her clearly I realised that she was very young
indeed, fifteen or sixteen, just very weary and possibly something more.
Where is my
Johnnie? She cried, her voice plaintive and sad.
There was a titter
from the audience, but I waved them into silence, and then I looked at her and
it was as if there was only her and me in the hall.
mother everything I said to her as she looked at me, scared and angry,
dont chase after him, he is worthless. She continued to stare
at me defiantly, and I knew that she would ignore me, but I had to try.
In the name of
G-d, do as I say girl, it will not end well otherwise, he has gone and he
isnt coming back for you, not now.
And then as she sat
down, glowering at all around her, I shivered; I could see him, standing right
at the back of the hall in the act of leaving; just a glimpse before he headed
into the summer evening. But then that is all it ever was, a figure in a crowd.
This was the third time now; a half-remembered echo that even my meticulous
brain could not remember. As Mary found someone else and the questions
kept flowing; names or addresses, dates, songs and quotations, at the back of
my mind, my brain was working trying to find a name or something but for once
in my life it was helpless.
The fire in the room
was far too hot - it was July for goodness sake - but Mary seemed to enjoy the
heat, luxuriating in it, perhaps she had spent her life in the cold and damp
and was making the most of this comparative luxury. I sat in a comfortable
chair whilst she massaged my head using olive oil and spices. Slowly her
fingers stroked my scalp and I relaxed, feeling my brain soaking it in, oiled
so that its facts and figures remained supple and unclogged, like a well-tended
machine. Look after my brain and it would look after me, except that this time
it had failed and I did not know why.
You did well,
Mr Farthing, she told me as she continued to massage my head; it felt
most sensual, with her bust occasionally brushing the back of my neck, and her
breathing heavy. She worked hard at her task, knowing that both our
livelihoods depended upon it.
Mary. This trip is proving to be most successful, I am so glad that you
suggested it; and I am sorry I doubted you. Sometimes it does to eschew your
usual habits and try somewhere new.
And then, realising
that I was sounding like a teacher, I reached up and stroked her hand, to show
her how much I was grateful for her being there. For a moment her hand lay limp
in mine, but then she squeezed it back, and lightly kissed the top of my head,
like a mother to a rather clever child.
She was my third
assistant, and by far my best; kinder and more in tune with my sensibility. She
had appeared out of nowhere, coming to my lodgings, when I was staying in
Walthamstow, and asked if I needed an assistant, telling me that she had heard
that this might be so. And indeed it was, as the exotically named Sheba
had told me two days ago that she was leaving, that her (so far unmentioned)
husband did not approve of her working for me. I suspected that she had had a
better offer and whilst she had not been great; forgetful (ironically) and
sulky, she was attractive which helped attract the men, and our occasional
romantic interludes had been most pleasurable and educational.
At that first
meeting Mary, had appeared quiet, with little to say for herself and I had
doubts about her suitability, but there was nobody else and as I had an
engagement in two days time I decided to risk it. During our intensive
rehearsals she soon picked up what she needed to know and indeed admitted to
having seen my show a few months earlier. Even so I was not convinced, as she
seemed most constrained and quiet, but as soon as she stood on stage, in
Shebas costume, which was only a little too large for her, she lost her
shyness; rather exuding glamour and confidence, but without taking over the
show, she controlled the audience from the start. I have never regretted taking
her on, and I just hoped she would not leave me; get married or get a better
someone I told her after awhile, just for a moment, and then he
it? Presumably you remember. She continued to massage my head
as she spoke, but more slowly as if in thought.
thats the thing I cant, this is the third time, and when I first
see him there is a flash as if he is on the edge of my memory and then it is
I am sure you
will remember, sooner or later. Maybe in the morning after you have
And then she dried
my hair and left me to my prayers and to sleep.
I dreamt that I was
a child, still living in Acton, my father holding up the Torah the magnificent
scrolls, and asking me to join him, but I refused. And there was my mother, who
I did not remember, but I knew that it was her in front of me, a haunting face
in tears, calling my name and reaching for me. But I pushed away and ran out of
the house into London, but it was not London at all, but a city with ancient
buildings and I realised that it was Jerusalem. And women dressed in black
reached for me and I pushed past them. And then in front of me, was an elderly
man, looking at me with hatred and it was him and I knew that I had done
something to hurt him, but I did not know what.
And then I woke with
a cry and there was a smell of vanilla, and someone was lying beside me.
I felt confused for my dream and frightened and held her tight, not sure if she
was real or still a part of my dream.
But you are so
think we are man and wife anyway and you will never find anyone else; there is
no good Jewish girl waiting for you.
But she was too
strong for me and with her beside me I slept more easily; her smell of spices
and sweat and the softness of her body, which seemed magically to fit so
closely to mine, as if we were one being.
And the next
morning as I bound my phylacteries to my arm and forehead and prayed, I heard a
voice from my bed.
What are you
doing? I had forgotten she was still there.
And I continued to
pray whilst she lay in bed completely covered up, the ancient words giving me
comfort and a sense of permanence. Mary must have fallen back asleep because
when I had finished praying she was snoring gently, so I left her whilst I
washed and dressed slowly and then went out into Accrington to buy food and
necessities for the day ahead, whilst trying to remember the man from last
night, but again without success.
The schul was only
small and hard to find, hidden away in a side street off The Headrow in Leeds
but once inside it seemed larger and it was the familiar ritual and gossip,
that reminded me of home, even though the names were different. Afterwards the
Rabbi spoke to me; a broad Yorkshire accent although there was an ascetic look
your father is Moshe?.
No Jacob is my
father, Moshe is my Uncle, my fathers older brother. They work together
after coming over together from Russia.
The Rabbi nodded,
and I thought that this was the end of the conversation, but the Rabbi kept his
hand on my sleeve as he nodded at members of his congregation.
So you are an
Of a sort; I
have a wonderful memory, so people come and watch and try to catch me
As I told the Rabbi
about my work, not for the first time I felt that what I did was trivial,
especially compared to my father and Uncle; who had come to England from the
East to escape persecution and who had begun a new life; setting up their shop,
making and repairing clothes and working all hours to be successful and provide
for their wives and their children. Even now they were settled they still had
to work long hours, with the Sabbath, the only day of rest. And what was I?
Just a performer, like a sideshow in a travelling fair, going from town to town
back in the old country. I must have been a disappointment to them; a step back
to the past that they had hoped to leave behind.
Of course, as
Jews we are not supposed to dabble with the occult the Rabbi mused, as if
It is not the
occult; it maybe trivial but it is my memory, I do not pray to Devils or to
The Rabbi smiled
If you need
anything, please come to me. If you want to settle down in Leeds, I can find
For a moment the
offer was tempting; a new city and a new start, but then I thought of Mary and
I knew I could not abandon her. As I talked to this man who seemed more of a
business man than a Rabbi, I wondered where she was and what she was doing. She
was probably in our lodgings sewing or asleep before the fire, keeping her warm
from the cold Yorkshire summer. My heart stirred at the thought of her, and as
soon as I could, I headed towards the door to find her. But just as I left the
building, and headed out into the city, somebody turned to me, also on his way
It was just a
statement, no question or the prelude to anything else, the accent southern,
and from an older man. And then the man was past me and away down the
I hurried after him,
all thoughts of Mary forgotten. But it was the Sabbath morning and the Leeds
streets were busy and I could not catch up with him, despite his walking
slowly; an old mans pace. As I hurried along, I could see him just in
sight but always on the verge of disappearing from view. I pushed past what
seemed like the whole population of the city, and yet in my heart I knew that I
would never reach him.
And then I barged
into a middle-aged lady who berated me, in the strongest Yorkshire dialect,
before recognising me, and instantly becoming polite and apologetic, and her
accent easier to understand.
Oh me and my
husband saw you at The Palace. You were wonderful; how do you do it? We were
trying to work it out; my husband thought that there must be someone behind the
curtain whispering the answers, he said that he could hear
I laughed, before
trying to assure her that there was no trickery in my show, whilst at the same
time trying to see the object of my chase, who I could just spy in the
distance, becoming smaller and smaller, before eventually disappearing into the
I have just
trained my memory, from my youth, I told her, resigned to having lost my
wonderful, she responded, but I felt that she did not believe me, and I
wondered if in fact, it was all trickery, or as the Rabbi had suggested a
compact with Dark Forces.
I realised that not
only had I lost the man I was following, but that I did not know how to get
back to our lodgings. Fortunately Mrs Smythe knew the address where we
were staying, and the two of us walked the streets of the city, whilst she
talked, apparently having nothing else to do on this Saturday morning, or else
she relished being escorted through the Leeds suburbs, by an exotic-looking
Everyday he is
there. Just a glimpse, or sometimes he says my name. I saw him again
Mary continued to do
her hair, perhaps he is just a regular, who cannot get enough of your
feats, but I could tell that she was worried, perhaps worrying that I was
losing my memory, and with it our livelihood.
But he knows
my name and I saw him at the synagogue and in the city centre; in Leeds and now
here in Keighley.
Point him out
to me when you see him next.
But you are
never there; I only see him when I am alone.
What does he
look like? she asked.
And I concentrated,
trying to picture the man; I could remember that he was always smartly dressed,
perhaps a bit flashy, but good clothes, well-made, and he seemed
confident and yet when I tried to picture him there was nothing special about
him; an older man, but with authority about him.
I think that
he looks like my father. But I am not sure.
So he is old;
I didnt realise. And she seemed to be thinking to herself, as if
this made it more serious.
need a holiday she suggested after a few moments; return to London
and see our families.
I felt that she only
half-meant this; that she seemed very happy and growing more so every day, and
she never talked of missing London and her family. And lying together at night,
holding and being held; it was as if we were married; whispering our secrets
and talking of the future, a future always together. Physical love I knew of,
but not this calmness, this belonging
perhaps this was love, and once we
were back in London, with family and tradition this intimacy would
I thought about it,
and wondered if perhaps she was right; the man had only appeared since our
travels, and in truth he made me frightened, as if he were someone from my past
had, come to claim me; perhaps from Russia, a dybbuk or a demon.
are right. Once we have fulfilled our engagements in Bradford we can return. I
dont want London to forget us. We can get rooms away from my family, be
Do you want me
to stay with you?
I shrugged with
feigned diffidence, unless you have somewhere else to go.
No, no I
You have seen
him again havent you.
How do you
nervous; always looking around you. I know you, more than I have ever known
anybody. I can see that you are frightened.
I am not sure
if he is here
can he really have followed us to London?
But yes I
have caught glimpses, but maybe I am imagining it, just a fantasy in my
We were quiet for a
moment or two, and then she spoke cautiously, as if she did not want to scare
something that I need to tell you, and she looked down at her stomach and
then our eyes met and I understood.
It was bound
to happen she said. Do you mind?
No, not at
And I didnt;
it meant responsibility and that this illicit union was real, but I was glad
nonetheless and I could tell that she was too.
I heard that
you were in London.
I hugged my brother
David, who seemed to have aged, but in a good way; more mature, a man of
sensitivity and intelligence.
Yes the North
was too cold and empty; I needed a break.
Are you still
doing your magic tricks?
course, and I laughed, because what else could I do?
David had caught me
in a café, drinking coffee, having bought a street directory and other
items to memorise.
you come back home? You know there is a room for you.
She is called
Mary and she is going to have my child.
David swore in
She was my
.well now she is my responsibility.
Although she had
always been more than my assistant and was more than my responsibility.
We talked; he told
me of his family and our father, and how the family business was thriving. But
then I became aware of somebody in the corner.
someone over there; he must have just come in. I am sure I know him.
your infallible memory is proving uhm
fallible. How ironic.
dont recognise him? I asked, hoping that David would know him, and
end all the mystery.
looked, I dont think he is from hereabouts; he looks much too
wealthy and distinguished for us; perhaps he goes to the Bevis Marks synagogue.
You could always ask him.
Not so easy, I
have tried to, but he just disappears into the mist.
Well come and
see the family; they miss you and I wont tell them about your little
I will do. I
She looked at me
strangely, pale and frightened.
Are you okay
Yes, just a
little unwell. The baby.
But she seemed
frightened and later when we went to bed she clung to me.
should tour again she suggested timidly, abroad, maybe Europe or
But you are
expecting our baby.
and she snuggled closer, and then later I woke to the sound of
We had a residency
in Highgate Apollo, and Mary carried on, seemingly unaffected by her pregnancy,
although I knew she could not go on for much longer. Already she had had to let
out her costume twice.
the man? I whispered, as we bowed at the end of the show, right at
the back, just turning away.
But she refused to
look and then when she did, she flinched.
You know him
No, it was our
baby, it moved.
And as the audience
continued to applaud, I forgot about everything except the child in her womb.
But then I caught her looking in the direction the man had stood, and she was
most frightened, and remained so for the rest of the night, and I realised that
she had lied and I wondered if he had tried to get to me through her.
Two days later I
received a telegram; Father is dying,
I will have to
go I told Mary, who held me tight looking worried, and for a moment I did
not want to leave her, was scared to, but he was my father and I felt guilty
having not seen him since my return to London, although he knew I was here.
I arrived at the
house I remembered so well; the smells, the sights and I wondered why I had
left it. I felt a nostalgia for my youth; it had been hard but then so was my
life now, and at least I had been surrounded people I knew and was secure,
whereas now I felt rootless and as if I did not know what I was doing. I should
be here, working in my fathers shop and living at home, with the familiar
food and conversations. And then I remembered the claustrophobia and the
tedium; everything ordered, and the lack of femininity in our household; with
just David and my father. A cold and austere life, and now I had Mary and our
child and they were the most important thing in my life.
I walked in without
knocking, expecting the house to be full of my relatives, but there was just my
father sitting, as he always did, at the kitchen table writing down figures. He
looked up and I realised that he had become an old man since I saw him last.
we hugged and kissed; he barely reaching to my shoulders.
I was told you
were ill, dying.
His father smiled,
I was a little ill, a touch of flu maybe. But I will live for a few years
I sat down and we
talked, as if I had never been away, never travelled and never argued. I told
him about my tour in the North.
you come into the firm? You cannot do these parlour games forever, and we are
very successful but could do with someone like you, your Uncle and I are
getting old and are wanting to take it easy.
I thought that he
was probably right, that I needed to create something that would last,
something for my child. But that got me thinking about Mary and I wondered how
I could work in my fathers business with a gentile lover.
My father saw me
hesitate, yes I know about your mistress, but this is business, I
wont interfere. I never have, you should know that.
We made no firm
arrangements, but I promised to visit their shop the following week, and I felt
happier than I had done for awhile, even though I knew it was going to be a
difficult decision to make.
I am so glad
you sent that telegram, otherwise we never would have talked.
I hurried to our
rooms; worry threatening to overwhelm me. I was breathing heavily, daring not
to think of what I might find; Mary dead or being held with a knife to her
throat. I burst into the door of our rooms, but Mary was not there, the only
reminder of her presence was an empty cup and the fire that was still warm, as
if she had only just left.
I hurried out again;
to the shops that she frequented, and then Heaton park where she would walk for
exercise and peace, but there was no trace of her. I hoped that when I returned
that she would be there, cooking or asleep having exhausted herself, and then
she would wake up and take me in her arms. I slowed down to give her more time
to return, but the rooms were still empty and the fire was now cold.
By the time the sun
had set, and the lamps were lit she was still not there, and I walked the
streets of Leyton knowing that she was not coming back and that wherever she
was I could not find her.
And then a
week later - he appeared one morning and talked to me. Since Marys
disappearance I had done little except walk in the area around our lodgings;
and in particular Heaton Park. I had cancelled the two shows I had booked,
realising that I no longer wanted to do my act. Whether Mary returned or
not, that part of my life was over with.
As I walked I tried
to understand what had happened, and why he had taken Mary. The guilt
overwhelmed me; if she had never met me, she would have been safe at home.
Despite the cold
weather, he was sitting in the outside café, drinking tea; wearing an
expensive looking coat and hat. But underneath all his wealth he was old and
frail, and I wondered why I was so scared of him. I could see the tan and dark
features, that made me think that he was one of us, however much he might try
to hide it. He gestured for me to join him, and as if he controlled me, I sat
down opposite him. A waitress came over to us, shivering slightly, and I
ordered some orange juice. I stared at the man as I waited for my drink and
even though I was a close I had ever been I still could not remember how I knew
What have you
done with Mary? I asked once my drink had arrived.
Oh Hannah? She
is perfectly safe, back where she belongs.
call her Mary if you wish, if thats what she called herself, it
doesnt much signify.
But why did
you take her, when it was me you wanted?
you? What on earth would I want with you?
There was a silence
between us; I could smell his expensive scent and the autumn wind.
or Mary was my mistress, and still is of course, he looked at me
as if amused, I had to go abroad and when I returned
well she was
gone. It took me awhile to find her, and by the time I discovered that she had
run away with a Yiddisher trickster
well you were up in the provinces, so
I followed you; neglecting my various projects to do so. You cost me a lot of
money, more than you will have ever seen in your life.
When I had first sat
down he had appeared calm and polite, but now he seemed disgusted with me, his
face pale and cross looking, as if it was beneath his dignity to deal with the
likes of me.
take her I said, frightened but angry, she is mine, and she is
expecting our child.
willingly, she knew that you could not protect her, not really. I have money
and power. What are you? And he spat between us. I only came to
tell you, because she insisted upon it. She wanted you to carry on with your
life, and not pine for her.
isnt. She is safe and she is happy.
And we continued to
sit and sip our drinks, whilst I tried to gather my thoughts.
But I knew
you. I recognised you.
Well we went
to see your stage show a couple of times, perhaps you remember me from that,
although we did not speak to you. Perhaps you are not a charlatan after
slightly, that is how Hannah got this fanciful notion
I wish to God
that we never went, then none of this would have happened. Now I really must
go, I have wasted enough time with you as it is.
And he was
gone. In the distance a carriage was waiting for him at the edge of the
park, and I watched his coachman help him in and wrap him in a cloak.
It took me weeks to
find out who he was. Lord M-, a business man with powerful friends. Discrete
and wealthy. And it took me even longer to find out where Mary was,
hidden away in a small flat in Highgate, but if you persevere you eventually
discover things, and I had nothing else to do with my time.
One Sunday morning I
knocked at the entrance.
I have come to
see Hannah. I am her brother, I told the slatternly woman who answered
the door. She glared at me and then without a word she went upstairs, and
eventually she returned looking at me very suspiciously, but she let me in, and
I went upstairs, and there she was, pale and tired but Mary.
I knew it was
you, she told me, I knew that you would come.
I held her tightly
and she seemed to collapse into me.
Come and see
And there he lay in
the next room, dark and beautiful, lying quietly in his cradle.
Come with me,
come now. I told her.
cant, he will find us.
We are opening
up shops in Italy I told her, I am going to Napoli, I can go next
week, it is all ready for us.
But he will
find us; he has men everywhere.
keep running forever. One day he will be tired of you and will leave you. Come
with me and start a new life, whilst we can. He is old and feeble, you cannot
stay with him.
She looked shocked
at my description of the man, as if she had not realised, how he appeared. And
suddenly she seemed to make up her mind and packed a bag whilst I gathered up
our son. We hurried out of the flat, the old woman shouting after us.
Where will we
go? she asked, as we sat together on the omnibus.
I have a
friend who will let us stay I told her, we will be safe from him at
least for a few days and then we will be off.
We got on the ferry
at Dover with no problems, although Mary was convinced that we were being
stared at, but there was nobody I recognised. We had borrowed clothes from my
friend Nathan and his wife and looked like Jewish pedlars back off to Eastern
Europe. And we spoke little and tried to hide amongst the other passengers, but
in the end if anyone was after us, they knew that there were three of us and
our ages, and no disguise could hide that.
She huddled close to
me, whilst I held onto Moshe; a suitable composition for one of those
sentimental painters which are so popular.
worry; we will be met in Calais and then by coach to Italy.
But as France drew
nearer, she became more and more nervous and so did I, pacing about the deck,
and looking into the grey sea below us. And then as drew into the harbour at
Calais I could see three figures staring out to sea, waiting for the boat to
land; and I knew that they were Marys lover and two other men, standing,
watching the boat intently. And then Mary saw them too, and clung to me with a
What shall we
cant just take us. I said, not truly believing it, having invested
the old man with the same powers that Mary had.
We saw an old
couple; French by the look of it who looked friendly or at least kind, and we
stood close to them as we disembarked. They seemed a respectable and wealthy
couple, and after glancing at each other, they allowed us stand closer to them,
as if realising that we needed help. We left the ferry together and were
on French soil and there were the three men stood waiting for us; Lord M-,
looking old and tired, and two younger men, glancing at each passenger as they
walked past. And then they saw us coming towards us.
me Lord M- called out, with a voice redolent of privilege and of getting
what it wanted, but also shaky and aged.
These two and
their baby, they are wanted.
For a moment there
was silence, and the bored looking customs officials, stirred and as if unsure
what to do, and before they had chance to make up their minds the elderly
French man looked at the three English men with impressive hauteur.
monsieur. And then he pushed us past them, with his wife glowering at
them most fiercely.
But Lord M- made a
run for us, no longer the respectable English squire, get the man
he shouted, the girl is mine.
They came at us, and
for a moment he had her, and I watched in horror as he manhandled her away from
us, whilst the two men grabbed the baby and me. But then I watched as Mary
seemed to embrace him and they stood glued together for a moment, until she let
him go; he made the faintest of sounds and fell backwards and she let him fall.
His two men, stood still in shock and then ran towards their master, forgetting
all about Moshe and me.
In the confusion the
Frenchman pulled Mary away from the prone figure on the ground, as she stood
there in shock, and I followed them, the baby asleep in my arms. His carriage
was waiting, and we were helped aboard, and were gone into the foggy morning,
leaving behind chaos.
I had a knife,
I knew that I would need it. I could not let him take me.
Mary was shaking,
looking scared, slumped in my arms. Monsieur Alarie, looked at us, and in a
mixture of French and English I told him what had happened. He tutted whilst
his wife saw to Mary.
I think your
wife killed him, he told me. It was all confusion, but they
will try to look for you, but there is nobody behind us and Philippe rides
We are heading
for Napoli I told him.
good you might be safe there, I know of somewhere you can hire a
.But for the moment just rest.
Perhaps it was too
good to last, perhaps the happiest days of our lives were roaming around the
North of England; free and full of excitement; falling in love. But even
then he had been following us, ready to pounce. Now in Napoli there was a
shadow and Mary continued to be frightened, convinced her pursuer was not
The shop did well,
or at least enough for us to make a living and pay our three workmen, but soon
Mary was asking to move.
settle here; you are amongst your own people, but I am a gentile and so is our
But nobody has
been rude, they have tried to make you welcome. You will get used to Italy, and
at least it is hot. And you have talked of conversion.
She looked at me;
they will never accept me. The looks they give me
, it is just that
you dont see.
I wondered if this
was true. Everything had been ready for us when we arrived and the tailors in
our shop were polite and hard-working. I had enjoyed working hard and setting
up the business, meeting our customers and selling our clothes. My previous
life as a travelling showman seemed long ago, a youthful folly that I looked
back on with embarrassment. But she and the baby were on their own during the
day and perhaps she needed distraction to help her forget the past and man who
had kept her and did not want to let her go.
When we explored
about Napoli I saw her looking about her; nervously.
dead. I told her.
She just shook her
head, but refused to talk about it. The city was beautiful and I loved walking
around, far more than I had done in London, and I wanted this to be our home,
to settle down. Moshe seemed to be thriving in it too; becoming brown and
healthy, a little bambino. But Mary, just looked frightened all the time,
frightened and scared; nothing like my sexy and confident assistant from her
time on the stage, but then that had only ever been an act.
Oh Mary, you
are safe here, I told her later in bed.
Why do you
call me Mary? she asked, my name is Hannah.
But that is
the name you chose, and that evil man called you Hannah.
But Hannah is
the name I was born with. When I was with you I was living a lie.
There was silence,
and I felt her anger and sadness.
I want to
leave here she said after awhile, take my son and go. You do want
dead I told her, we watched him die.
No we watched
him stumble; people like that do not die like that, if ever. He will find us,
we need to keep one step ahead.
I tried to console
her, held her close, but then Moshe started crying and she went to him and by
the time she returned I must have been asleep.
looking for you Andreo told me, An Englishman. A Lord.
missed him. He said he would go to your apartment, that he knows where you
live. Dont you know him? He asked seeing the expression on my
Without thinking I
ran back the few streets to Hannah, remembering that time in London, when she
disappeared. It was only when I reached our apartment that I realised I had
been stupid and that he had no idea where I lived but had followed me to get to
Hannah. And then I heard a noise behind me, and then the largest pain in
my head and I fell.
When I woke Hannah
was sitting on the chair, whilst Moshe lay in her arms, trying to escape.
He is in
there and she pointed to the bathroom, I didnt realise that
he was so weak, you were right. He was so easy to kill this time.
She looked at me
calmly and with a faint smile on her face. And there in the bathroom he lay, so
skinny and pathetic, but with more blood than I imagined that a thin old man
could contain, spread out over the cold marble floor, already beginning to
told her, we need to move him, I will get a couple of the boys from the
shop. Then all of a sudden, my head felt heavy and I sat down feeling
sick, unable to move for a moment, but she looked at me.
No, we need to
leave him, I need to know where he is.
But he is
dead, he is just a dead old man.
No my love, he
will never die and I need to stay for when he rises again, and I will stab him
again and again, to protect us all.
And then, as I took
our son out of her arms, she shivered violently; unable to ever get warm,
despite the warmth of Italy and despite the warmth of my love.