Chapter 2.3

Henri noted the slight flush in Ryan’s cheeks when he mentioned Eliza’s name.

“So you no come see Henri last night anyhow.”

“I was coming down here to get you to come up to the music hall with me, then lunchtime Mr Higgins comes in and suddenly I’m  shaping, building hammering, sandpapering all night.”

Henri shook his violently, his pony tail whipping from one side to another. “Henri no go to music hall. Bad place for him.”

“Not if you were with me. I’ll look out for you Henri.”

“Why take Henri to music hall?”

“To show you Eliza.”

“Ha!” Henri bought his hand down on the table top and the tea set jumped.

“Ryan tired enough to tell Henri interesting things tonight. You like Missie Eliza.”

“I think so Henri. Did you ever, you know… like someone.”

“You ask if Henri ever think of marrying. Yes and no.”

“Were you ever married Henri?”

“Sadly no.” For the briefest moment, grief rippled through Henri’s sunny expression. “Henri never marry. If Henri married wife take care of tea and Henri and Ryan sit and talk, no worry about making tea.”

“Why didn’t you marry the woman you loved?”

“You assume Henri want to marry someone.”

“Of course you did. You are being cagey.”

“Cagey. Henri not understand.”

“When you come close to telling me something about yourself, something important or something you don’t exactly want to share… you talk around or away from it. So who was she Henri.”

“Henri meet Lily on the beach. Henri no free to marry Lily. Lily no free to marry Henri. So Henri choose no marry anyone.”

“But you’re free to marry someone now.”

“Henri too old to marry now. Henri set in his ways.”

“But you just said a wife would take care of us. I mean, you.”

“And wife also want Henri do stuff, Henri no want to do. Henri happy. Henri happier now Ryan here.”

“You must have other friends here.”

“Plenty customers. No friends.”

“Why not?”

“Henri no fit in. Bit like Ryan, eh?”

“I work too hard to make any proper friends.”

“Henri work hard too. But Henri and Ryan friends now. Proper friends.”

Henri poured more tea and then standing, stretched for a moment and went to an ornate set of drawers by the wall. Henri’s furniture fascinated Ryan… all the small drawers, the intricate carvings and inlays. When he had money he intended to ask Henri to find him a piece like the one he was at now, though it seemed an extravagance in his simple canvas home.

Henri lay an old book on the table, three ancient coins on the top, scraps of paper, a quill and ink.

“Book of Changes… Chinese book like bible. Time Ryan look through see truth.”

“What are you talking about Henri. I’m not interested in any Bible. I had enough of that with my mother.”

“No like Christian bible. Henri gift to you.”

“You’re giving me an old book and some odd coins.”

“No… Henri give  wisdom. Ryan ask question and flip coin six times. Book guide you.”

“I’m not sure Henri. I don’t think my mother would approve.”

Henri laughed. “You think devil in here.”

“My mother would. She believes it is the devil’s hand in cards, dice, palm reading… all that gypsy stuff.”

“No gyspy stuff. No devil. Just wisdom. Chinese long tim use Book of Changes. Bring new perspective. You need new perspective.”

“I need sleep.”

Ryan began to rise and Henri’s hand shot out to hold him down.

“You sit and listen Ryan. Henri no kook. You no see clearly. Tell Henri about ice and steam.”

“Why don’t you tell me about the book and the coins.”

“This here change way you think.”

“Maybe I don’t want to think like you’re God.” The tiredness made him irritation and the talk of bibles and Gods rankled him. He wanted to be home in bed asleep.

“No, no no.” Henri shook his head and yanked at his ponytail. “Ice and steam. Tell Henri about them.”

“I don’t know Henri. One’s hot and one’s cold.”

“What else?”

“I’m tired Henri and I’m not good at rhymes. I don’t know.”

“Look differently. Ice. Steam.”

“I don’t know Henri.”

“Ice. Steam. Water… different states. But water. You not see big picture. You need look differently at bad boss and Missie Eliza. Here,” Henri passed the three coins over to Ryan. “You throw coins. Six time.”

“And what are you going to do?”

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4 thoughts on “Chapter 2.3

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Chapter 2.3 « Writing in Black and White -- Topsy.com

  2. I never thought of Eliza in the dichotomy of ice and steam… but it is quite possibly fitting, as you’ll see when she does make her grand entrance.

    But I can tell you – she does love Ryan with all her heart, even if she makes a dreadful choice. He’s probably the only one she allows herself to just be ‘water’ with… no need for altered states.

    Now must get a new episode up.

    Like

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