The word ‘devious’ was never in Bruno’s vocabulary, until he came under Barbara’s care. When in his mid to late teens he devised ways to avoid Jack’s anger and violence. That trait was now the influencing factor whenever he thought of Katherine’s photo, and he was willing to use it to his full advantage. Gaining Barbara’s private phone number had become a priority.
“If I want to slice my arm open with a knife on the weekend, how do I contact you? Hurtin’ myself isn’t a nine-to-five job. I can wake at three in the mornin’ with the urge. Who do I talk to? My drunken uncle? How do I contact you if I’m in trouble? Do you know anyone I can ring who’ll stop me from needin’ a fix? What’ll I do?” He wanted his questions to have an urgency about them. Appropriating her would be important for any plans.
Should I give him the after hour’s number? Barbara felt trapped. She had readily given it to her other patients, but was hesitant when it came to him. Although she felt uneasy, she relented. By showing him some trust she was hoping he’d reciprocate.
“I’ll give it to you, but you must promise you won’t give it to anyone else.”
That evening Barbara told JM of giving Bruno her number.
“I don’t find him menacing. I think he is shy and because of it he rarely speaks, but I have to admit his vocabulary appears to be rather limited.”
Because she respected his opinion, she felt absolved, and relieved.
The snow and bitterly cold wind were embracing everything they contacted that Saturday evening. The traffic had thinned, and so had the pedestrians.
With Katherine at Molly’s house, Sophia, Barbara, and JM were more liberal with their discussions. Their overriding protection for the teenager had made some news subjects taboo.
The unexpected ringing of Barbara’s private phone not only punctuated their discussion, it startled them. It was rare for that particular phone to ring on weekends.
“I’ll wash-up,” Sophia said. She rose, and with her plate in hand went to the kitchen sink. JM rose in response to Sophia’s actions, and of Barbara wanting to answer the phone.
At the mention of Bruno’s name JM walked to the living room’s doorway and looked at his wife. Are her instincts about him correct?
“It isn’t the right place, nor the right time,” Barbara said. She placed her hand over phone’s speaker, then whispered, “Bruno wants to come to the house, now.”
“No,” JM said, in a low voice as he shook his head.
Bruno, suspecting he was not welcome in Barbara’s home, was not about to take no for an answer. Wanting to see where and how Katherine lived had become a part of his obsession. It was imperative he gain Barbara’s confidence. He knew if he stopped pleading, she would reject his request.
Barbara felt helpless against his connived but emotional appeal. Again, she gave in. First the phone number, now the house call. What is coming next? she thought.
Sensing the development of an unwanted tension Sophia quickly washed the dishes, while JM wiped.
Her instincts were telling her not to be in the presence of an unwelcome guest.
As Bruno looked at the building, he realised that Katherine’s living standards would be beyond him.
If we’d worked harder and Jack hadn’t drank away whatever money we made we could’ve like this.
Again, his mind was fantasizing of something they would never have. It would only ever be a dream.
With an image of the trailer flashing into his mind, he realised just how poor they really were. To justify their humble abode, he thought, at least we own it.
The cold swirling snow whipped against his body as he stood on the sidewalk, but the coming event was all he could think of. His heart raced as he thought of being in Katherine’s presence for the first time.
He rang an illuminated buzzer displayed on a speaker system to the front door’s right.
“Who is it?” asked the forewarned JM.
“It’s Bruno.” The door unlocked automatically, allowing him entry. As he entered the vestibule, the generous warmth coming from the building’s heating system welcomed him. While his ever-darting eyes took note of the other doors on the ground floor, one attracted his attention more than the others did. Probably belongs to the janitor.
Just as he reached the upper landing, JM was standing in his open doorway. “Hi, Bruno, come in.”
Bruno had already inserted his black balaclava into his coat pocket.
“Would you like a cup of coffee?” JM asked, as he relieved Bruno of his thick coat.
“I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me,” JM said, to his wife. Her anxious look was a sign, stay close.
“I had to see you,” Bruno said, immediately after JM had walked from the living room. The connotation was deliberate.
She’s not happy about somethin’. “I had to call, because I’m havin’ these crazy thoughts about cuttin’ myself. It could go wrong.”
Pretending to be someone other than who he was had given him the courage to continue with his plan. His audacious lying had him one-step closer to his dream. He was in the apartment of the one he desired.
In reference to his, ‘it could go wrong’, Barbara asked, “What do you mean when you say … it could go wrong?”
“I have these strange feelin’s . . . to end my life.”
“Are you saying you want to commit suicide?”
“Yes.” He had a strong urge to laugh.
“If you need someone to talk to, ring me. I’m here for you.”
“It’s good to know I can ring. I can be asleep and I’ll suddenly wake up because my mind’s tellin’ me to cut myself.”
Having walked into a treasure trove of photographs of Katherine, he decided to change direction with his conversation. “You’re lucky to have a caring family. Is that your daughter?” He pointed to framed pictures of Katherine.
“Yes.” Barbara’s wariness was on full alert. He has seen the photo at the office, and the one at JM’s surgery. Why would he ask?
“She certainly is pretty.”
While Barbara was feeling uncomfortable, his frustration was increasing by Katherine’s absence.
His incursion into their domain had proved fruitful. He now had first-hand knowledge of how they lived. Envy was new to his feelings.
“Try not to worry too much. We can talk more at our next appointment.” Barbara had risen from the armchair. She wanted him gone from the apartment.
“Thanks for invitin’ me into your home. I’ve enjoyed it.” His gratitude was deliberately deceptive.
It was only after walking him to the front door and seeing him descend the steps to the sidewalk did her shoulders slump from relief.
As she locked the front door, she thought, why do I feel so insecure?