When he arrived at the house, Freddy stashed his pistol and box of rounds under the porch in an old tool box. In the twilight of the evening, the air was cool enough to give him goosebumps, even under his jacket. He went around to the front stairs and noticed one of the railings had come loose and one rusty nail jutted out of the top of it. He wiggled it a little and frowned and inspected it from various angles. Tomorrow he would fix it, first thing.
He double-stepped up onto the landing and opened the fly-screen door. It creaked once and then again as it closed behind him and he walked through the hallway carrying his suit case and as he passed the room on the left he threw it with a nonchalant toss and landed the suitcase on the bed. He continued through the house and into the kitchen where a woman stood over a stove. The kitchen was small and crammed in it was a refrigerator, a stove, sink and a rickety table in the middle. On the table was a vase with a pathetic bunch of wild flowers that added only a dash of colour to the otherwise grey and brown interior of the kitchen. The floors were unpolished boards which, during the day shone a sliver of sunlight from between them and at night blew a trickle of cold air.
The woman turned as he entered and smiled a little. Her stomach bulged with pregnancy. Her black hair clung to her face and small droplets of sweat beaded around her forehead and behind her smoke rose from a frying pan, which sizzled and popped. The air smelled of meat. Freddy cracked a small smile and moved to her. He leaned in and hugged her and kissed her lips once and then twice and she stood regarding him, smiling, her hands on his shoulders. He met her gaze, smiled weakly and kissed her forehead and broke away from her. Still looking at him she said,‘How was work?’
‘Yeah, you know. Good I s’pose.’ Freddy dug into his pocket and pulled out a bunch of notes and put them on the table. ‘Here you go.’ She turned and looked at the pile of notes. Freddy pulled out his packet and shook it until a cigarette popped out the top. She looked back at Freddy smiling. ‘How much is that?’
‘Fifty? So work was good then?’
‘Beats diggin ditches I guess.’ He mumbled around the cigarette he held in his lips.
‘Sorry?’ She ducked her head into his field of vision. Her eyebrows knitted together and she half smiled.
‘Nothin.’ He sparked a match and lit it and blew the smoke from his nostrils and then looked her in the eyes, ‘Don’t worry about it. Its just a saying, is all.’
‘Ok.’ she turned back to the stove and continued to cook. They shared a long moment and the sizzling and popping of the stove and the cigarette smoke and the aftermath of words that hung in the air between them, that seemed to have a weight of their own. After what was only a few minutes but felt much longer she said ‘Didn’t think traveling salesmen made that kind of money. You must be a natural.’ He tried to decipher any note of sarcasm from her tone but couldn’t find any. She had never been the cruel type. He sat there staring at the wall. She turned back to him. ‘This little fella is kicking hell outta me tonight.’
‘You wanna feel?’ She poked her stomach at him slightly. Freddy reached over and placed his hand on her stomach. Her hand touched his and moved it around her bulge and stopped and he felt movement and took his hand away. ‘Not long now Rosy.’ He said and leaned back in his chair and loosened his tie and unbuttoned the first two on his shirt and turned back to stare at the wall. Rose’s eyes lingered on him and her smile melted back into her face and she swallowed and turned back to the stove, her head down. She twirled again and said, ‘So tell me, did anything exciting happen at work this week?’ Freddy frowned a little, squinted against the thin string of smoke that crept towards his eyes as he took a deep drag on his cigarette, held it and then blew hard, almost filling the room with smoky breath. ‘How far off’s dinner?’ He said. Rose stood staring at him only a moment and then looked down and said as she turned back once more to the stove, ‘Not long.’
part 3 and the end. I think.