In the foyer, mock candles switched to night mode. A shadow reared within. Nighttime always did this. Where did she now belong, but the limo on the night side of the train station? To her, Weaver’s Street represented a past she could no longer touch. The crash felt real and it was still happening somewhere in her head.
Behind Vince’s desk, she noticed a walnut door bearing carvings which blended into a panelled wall. She reached for the doorknob and pushed the trolley before her. A flame-effect fire sent capering shadows around what appeared to be a drawing room. Vince’s crutches rested against the edge of a red couch in front. The upright axis of his head implied vigilance. She wheeled the trolley into the room and pulled level with the couch. Vince had changed into a grey sweatshirt and slacks. On him, even the baggiest attire creased at the right places. She surmised he had scaled the stairs to shower or perhaps used another washroom on the ground floor. Either way, she would refrain from praise or even an acknowledgment. Vince slowly turned his head and his shadowy eyes brushed against the revised contents of his drinks trolley. No scotch, no bourbon, but antibiotic cream, scissors, bandages and hand-wipes. On top he would find fish-fingers, chips and mushy peas; digestive biscuits would provide a suitable dunker for a glass of milk – all her own offering. Disdain skewed his face as his eyes levelled with hers. ‘Where’s my scotch?’
Nancy replied only by wheeling the trolley beside him.
Vince’s tone gathered menace. ‘I said, where’s my scotch?’
‘I will be back once you have eaten, Mr. Jonas. You wounds are overdue a fresh dressing.’
His jaw clenched. ‘Sure thing, Nora...’ His eyes narrowed. ‘…once I’ve stuck pins into my eyeballs.’
Nancy guessed Vince had yet to grow accustomed to her officious tone. She quietly left the room.
Nancy vowed she would impose upon Vince only as an employee here and she kept to her word, finishing off her ham baguette and a flask of coffee prepared at the Cheap Sleep. But in disabling the automatic mode of the gates, she had rendered her device useless. She could no longer enter or leave the premises. But Henry had the override code. Nancy finished her coffee and approached the window. The wheel of Henry’s truck could still be seen behind Vince’s garage. Nancy encountered a thousand questions on Henry’s reasons for not raising the alarm. Was he pretending all was well in a fit of indecision? Was he pretending he hadn’t seen her in fear he would lose his job? Had he retired into that naïve side of himself that could cope only with pruning the trees? Their meeting in the maintenance room meant his word against hers.
Nancy cleared her leftovers and returned to the drawing room. Dusk had closed in and Nancy should soon be heading off. Her final check on Vince presented a setting as before, his form unmoved, his supper untouched. Nancy grasped the handles of the drinks trolley, deciding to forgo the leg treatment this evening. ‘Not going to bed?’ she asked.
Vince’s face, immobile, glimmered in the half-light. Nancy nudged the trolley forwards which sent the castors rattling out of the room.
The Punto grunted into life. Beige headlights warned a new battery overdue. Worn tyres crunched up the drive. At the gates, Nancy pointed her device. To her bafflement, the gates opened. Only Henry could have done this. Would he grant her access tomorrow? Their meeting in the maintenance room left her uncertain. Either way, Nancy would not be stopping the night; she was here as a nurse after all. Oncoming headlights blurred her vision but no rain smattered the windscreen.