57: A Barrel Sailing Over A Waterfall

Katerina hovers while John drinks the tea she’s made. Her cup is on the desk. She is letting it cool. Garry and Rosalyn have cups too. Garry sips his quietly, but Rosalyn is slurping hers loudly, like only a person who’s lived alone does. Garry beams at her. He finds the noises she makes endearing. This impromptu tea party is a singular point of normality in the timetable of the day’s events. The fact that they are all still at work, well after hours, in various states of shock and confusion is by the by. The tea is a magical elixir, making everything fine for the moment.

John uses the sleeve of Katerina’s cardigan to wipe the teardrop from the horse book. He is relieved to find no permanent damage has been done. The book will still be able to go out into stock, where it will stand spine outwards or maybe even face on, until it is checked out by an adolescent girl. Suddenly self conscious, John shrugs the cardigan off his shoulders and hands it back to Katerina.

‘Thanks. You feeling a bit better?’

John nods. His head hurts. He thinks all the blood vessels have burst. He can feel tiny gunpowder explosions behind his eyes. It’s preventing him from thinking straight. But he does feel a bit better than he did.

Bob, the only one at the tea party not actually drinking tea, paces behind Garry. He is bothered by the fact that Rosalyn is sitting on his desk, and by the presence of Garry in his chair. Bob’s territory is being violated, but he is impotent. He is not himself. He wants to tell Garry to shift, and to shove the hairy bint off so she falls on the floor, but he doesn’t say a word. He can’t even bring himself to glare at Garry. He fixes his eyes on his stapler, marooned in the river of Rosalyn’s hair. It’s like a barrel about to sail over the edge of a waterfall. A hairy, cascading-over-the-desk waterfall.

Katerina catches Bob’s eye and mouths,’Who’s she?’

‘Trouble,’ Bob mouths back, shaking his head.

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