Chef Jakub – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 41

At first we were going to leave Sabine Manor. But we stayed that first day and then another. And then another. There was a power which that place held over me. It drew me to stay there, close to the Madam. Luke offered no argument, seeing my suffering and longing. But I knew, as did he, that we would have to leave before others came and found us out. It was inevitable.

So, for a week I traipsed about the Manor and took my meals in the garden next to the petunias where I buried Zarinah. I wandered, aimless, night and day, not sleeping and not thinking of the danger of are lingering presence. Nor did I think of the plan Luke and I had to acquire more of the serums and then leave our homeland again. But on the eighth morning I awoke to Luke dressed and packed, ready to leave. I refused and rolled over to where she had slept that last night and fought to find a remnants of her scent upon the linen, but there was none. Luke said nothing, waiting, but I could feel his eyes on me. Without rolling back over to look at him I scolded Luke and barked and pleaded and kicked and cried out. But still he stood silent, his coat buttoned, a suitcase in hand. Then, after one more vain effort to retrieve a piece of her from the cotton and sable, I rolled over and stood. Then I dressed. I thrust my belongings into a case and then let Luke led me downstairs and out onto the street. I did not look back. I couldn’t. Before I knew it we were in the centre of the city and I was leading us to the office of the Doctor. I felt nothing. No joy or pain. Nothing.

Instead we found the office and entered without appointment, startling the Doctor who had been busied with some work at the time. As he bounced from his huddled position over his desk we caught each other’s eye and he relaxed into his chair, recognising me. He tried to ask had what brought us to him, but instead I took the remainder of the bag of jewels that Ahmed had paid us with back at the Bay of Ferns and placed it on the desk next to him. He looked down at it, opened it further with his pencil and then stood and walked across the room to a filing cabinet. Once he had found the appropriate papers he turned back to begin his work at a nearby workbench and waved us down onto the shabby sofa on which it appeared that he slept. We sat. He worked. Luke leered at him and I rested my hand on my brother’s shoulder to prevent him from exploding. That night we left, stocked with several litres of the two serums. It was so precious, so innocuous, so delicate and yet so powerful that we scare dared to leave the steps of the Doctors building, but we made our way to the local market and found a crate with which to better protect the colourless and odourless liquid.

That same night we left the capital by train. We passed our hometown as we headed for the docks where Christof had run his business. I didn’t wake Luke as we passed it, thinking that if it haunted him as it haunted me then he wouldn’t want to see it. But as we arrived at the docks I woke him and we departed, then made our way to Christof’s residence. It had been a modest yet fascinating place, as I have mentioned, but when the door was opened by a servant I could see that the walls where bare, no longer adorned with the vast trappings and tokens of a well-travelled man. Gold leaf decorated the coving while some large paintings hung on the cream coloured walls. Fearing that Christof had died or moved away I requested an audience with the man of the house at once and we were permitted into the lounge. Again, sparse décor defined the room, with plush and expensive furniture strewn with silk throws. Across the back of one such gilded seat a fur coat lay slumped with a casual disregard. It caught my eye as a stark young woman entered the room, followed by the servant who had led us to the lounge. She did not speak at first, but rather waited for us to stand and then sat down on an opposing sofa, crossed her legs and then place one hand atop the other in her lap. She was quite the sight. Educated in the womanly arts and a most striking delight to the eye. But when I introduced Luke and myself in a flash her demeanour shifted to one of suspicion. This unsettled us both, or course, but when I further inquired as to Christof’s whereabouts her veneer slipped.

Small tears dripped from that small woman’s cheeks as she unloaded the weight of her late husband’s death. Lost at sea, his body was never found. All she could do was await death itself and lived alone with her servants in the hope that Christof would one day make a miraculous return. There was such a profound sorrow to her and it was inconsolable. I pitied her in that moment, as I do still. For as far as I know she is still there, aging alone.

After a brief conversation the Widow Christof led us to a room at the back of the house. It was Josef’s study. There were mounted animal heads stacked on top of books and framed pictures. There were carvings and animal skulls cluttered on the windowsill and a desk smothered in documents and files and a locked box. Christof’s wife gave me the box, admitting that she had no idea where the key was, and asked us to leave. Confused, I took it and Luke and I departed, leaving with a dulled feeling of empathy for that woman –myself having only buried Zarinah.

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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