It was a few hours later that Lucy found out what Maddie had done. Appalled, she immediately rang Ruth to ask if she had Richard’s phone number, so she could check out that he was back home safely. Ruth passed the phone to Bob who volunteered to call Richard, promising to be back in touch with Lucy when he had some news.
Richard answered in Monkey Mead with a cheery, “Happy Easter. He is risen indeed.”
“Maybe not time for the Alleluias yet, pal. Maddie’s given James the elbow again this morning and Lucy thinks he’s driving back home pretty distraught. Has he arrived? If not, can you ring his mobile to check out how far he’s got to?”
Helen’s ‘Find Friends’ app located James’ phone as somewhere near the cemetery on the edge of St Chad’s. It wasn’t being answered. A very few minutes later, Bob’s tyre wheels skidded through the gates. Fortunately, it being Easter, there wasn’t a hearse arriving at the same time or he might have tried to overtake it. There were though a few folk paying their Easter respects. As he pulled up behind the chapel, he could see James stooping over Paul’s grave.
James didn’t look like he was about to thrust a knife into his own chest or collapse from hemlock potion, so Bob was able to walk briskly towards him rather than run. He even wondered if he should pretend that he’d come to see his parent’s grave but decided that the entry velocity into the cemetery of his car, that of a bat into hell, would then require an explanation he didn’t have. The tears on James’ face had dried. He looked up at Bob and smiled blotchily.
“I’ve seen a couple of graves in here with Swarbrick on as I’ve walked round,” he said.
“That will be my parents and grandparents. Why seek ye the living among the dead, lad? Come on back to Ruth’s place for a cup of tea and a piece of cake, and then get home to your parents. They’re worried sick about you. Where’s your car?”
James took one last look at Paul’s grave. “He was another victim of the Fishwick curse,” he said. “They seem friendly, but they cast a witches’ spell on you.”
Bob told him he must have read too much Harry Potter when he was younger. I’m writing this conversation as remembered by Bob. I bet it’s close to word perfect.
“Maddie’s not the one for you,” he’d continued. “I married someone who wasn’t quite convinced I was the one, but she was a damned sight better fit for me than Maddie is for you. I got her pregnant, we married, and she’d been right. We weren’t suited. Your Dad pined for that Emma Greenwood for twenty years. She’s Lady Norman now…”
“They still exchange Christmas cards,” said James, with a little break in his voice. “Always with two kisses.”
“Of course they do, and that’s what you should do with Maddie. You can go as high as three kisses if you like. You don’t have to forget her, just recognise her as another flawed member of humanity like the rest of us, and one whose needs will always carry her away from you. The first cut is the deepest, but it’s a cut all the same, not a kiss. There’ll be other times for you. Your Dad found a proper match in your Mum, and I did with Wendy. Neither of them is perfect either, but both suit us down to the ground. Do your Mum and Dad proud and get that distinction. Let time look after the rest.”