I suppose my sub-conscious did wonder about Deanna Macpherson's sister. My conscious decided unanimously to forget it. It wasn't any of my business. It was just plain weird, and in that decision I can regretably be compared to the people of Douitchurch.
I concentrated on the last picture for Dad's competition. My collection had to be ready for the first week in February.
I began to notice things over the next week. Perhaps my mind was coming out of hibernation, and observing things that hadn't occurred to me before. Or perhaps it was that there were things to notice.
I hadn't seen Mum since New Year. I noticed that. Also, there was no Calpol left in the medicine cupboard. Thirdly, Dad was spending a Hell of a lot of time out of the house. Was he on painting expeditions? I raided his studio, and discovered that he didn't take anything at all on his outings. Just himself, and, I began to see, a brown briefcase he always seemed to be holding as he went out. I wondered where he kept it, if not in his beloved studio.
He also seemed very grave when closed the door to go out. He didn't slam it, as usual. He shut it carefully. He didn't want to disturb his thoughts. Or was it his thoughts that he was not anxious to disturb? Did he have a headache? Or did Mum have a constant headache? That would connect the three things I noticed. But they didn't explain overly much. I didn't know, and judging by a short conversation I had with Dad one day, he wasn't likely to confide in me. By the way, I deleted or replaced the adverbs.
"What's the matter, Dad?"
"What do you mean? Nothing's the matter. Why on earth should anything in this frickin' world be the frickin' matter?"
Something was definitely the matter.
"You keep going out."
"And, what? I'm allowed to get some peace from this damp dark house once in a while, aren't I? Or would you rather I stayed in and caught the plague from the rats in the loft?"
That wasn't fair.
"There's a reason."
"Isn't that good enough for you? Curiosity is no virtue. Why does there have to be a damn reason to go out the house? And what makes you think I'm going to tell you anything at all, boy? You're a kid, and there ain't no damn reason."
I hated being called a boy and a kid. Dad didn't have a clue.
"I'm your son, and I'm fifteen. If anything's the matter, I can help."
"You shut up, brat! Nothing is the bloomin' matter, and you can't bloomin' help at all. Stop bloomin' bothering me, and if you can possibly bloomin' excuse me I have a bloomin' appointment right now. Don't say anything bloomin' else, either, twit, till I'm outa here."
Hell! Something's the matter. And Hell! There's a reason. Insistence and rudeness serve more to prove that than to make a persecutor back off. Yup - there was something up, and I, the persecutor, was going to discover what.