“They weren’t there,” said Kelly, lighting a cigarette.
“Well wait a minute,” Marian said, catching his arm as he swayed through into the living room, “what do you mean they weren’t there?”
“The flight was cancelled. The airline said we have to wait for confirmation.”
“Confirmation of what? What does that mean? Are they going to call us? Kel?”
Kelly had swung one leg over the other, lay boots outstretched before him on the shag carpet, leaning against the coffee table. The kids were arguing in the next room. He reached behind him awkwardly for the remote.
Marian went to him on the floor. Her face was twisted involuntarily into a grimace of perturbation. She carefully lifted the big glass ashtray from the coffee table, placing it next to him.
“Kel, please talk to me, what does it mean?”
Kelly turned to her and recoiled, whether mockingly or not she couldn’t tell, then grinned.
“You scared me, honey, look at that sad mug, no cause for that.” He caressed her cheeks and chin gently with his large hand, thumbing her bottom lip. “We’ll find out more about it. You know the old song,” he said.
“Okay,” said Marian, smiling. A small tear shimmered and dropped onto her cheek. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I feel so awful.”
“It’s because you’ve got a good woman’s temperament,” said Kel, forcing off a boot with the pointed steel tip of the other.
“That’s mine!” shrieked Katy, and Marian as though inspired took off her own shoe and stormed into the kitchen.
“Now what’s going on here?”
“He took my toy!”
Lip downturned, pouting and scowling, a caricature of her own child, Oliver was turned into the wall, petting and coveting some small orange thing.
“What is it, Oliver? Give it to me please.” After a moment Oliver thrust the toy into his mother’s hand.
“This is a clothes peg, Katy, why are you in such a huff? Where did this come from?”
“It’s mine! I found it!” moaned Katy as her mother slipped her other shoe off, straightened up.
“It’s not fair!” said Oliver, storming out of the room.
“Well it’s not yours any more, Kiddles,” Marian said to Katy, “but you can play with it again when you’ve finished your chores.”
“It’s not fair!” Katy said, mimicking her brother, storming out behind him.
Marian took a beer from the fridge, opening it before taking a sip, then padded to the living room.
“They can’t get enough of see-through things,” she said, handing Kelly the beer, sitting beside his shoulder on the coffee table.
“What’s that, hun?”
“These little things they find to play with, just like us when we were kids.”
“I was playing with engine blocks and torque wrenches…” said Kelly, not finishing his sentence. He took some pleasure in gazing into the smooth, new-looking perspex peg, the way Oliver must have. “Ya, she’s pretty,” he said, handing it back, “probably came from next door.”
“Why do you say that?”
“She’s got a whole studio there for her photography, that woman; Katy was telling me about it yesterday when she came home. They hang up the photographs.” Kel made a clicking noise to accompany his gesture.
“Oh. Any good?”
“Very sexy,” said Kel. Marian bridled, crossed by sudden and vivid imprints of Kel in “that woman’s” house; a voluptuous, thick-hipped woman alone with him in the lurid red of an artist’s secret suburban darkroom.