Anne and Martin
By elsie katz
'Anne, where are you off to tonight?'
'I'll not be long, Marie.'
'She's out a lot these days.' She's always busy, always happy.'
Marie returned to her evening bookwork. The new database she had put together made it easy. She loved the small kingdom of her office after dark. While the rest were settling to their beds, ships docking into port, she was the night captain, the wakeful guardian. A middle aged woman, her grey hair short, her smart but unshowy skirt suits clothing her spreading stomach she ressembled a squishy sofa. A cosy yet alert squishy sofa offering friendship, security and unbiassed trust to those close by.
'When I am sure, then I shall tell her. But when will that be?'
Anne walked through the wrought iron gates of the enclosed sanctuary. The traffic light shone green as she made her way down the street of tenements and small shops. Few people were about. Those who chose to worship the god in the corner were glued to the semi-final of 'strictly.' The pub-goers still had a couple of hours before closing was called on their allotted escape.
Would he be there tonight? Yes there he was, well wrapped up for pretty much anything Glasgow could throw at him. From the black beanie covering his bald spot, to his Barbour jacket with the pure wool scarf beneath to ward off chills, down to his sturdy boots, Martin Kleineman knew the value of the reliable labels in the charity shops. He was seated in the doorway of Rachelle's fashions, the shop around the corner from the main road, legs in his sleeping bag. For the past three weeks this had been his nightly home.
'You again!' The clocks change on Saturday.'
'Have you though any more about booking in to St Josephs? I spoke to Andy. He's agreed to be your key worker.'
'You can stuff St Joes and your wee pal Andy where the sun don't shine.I'd sooner die. No offence, by the way.'
'Martin, if you sleep rough much longer you might die sooner than planned. Here, get this down you.'
Martin extended his fingerless gloves outside his jacket, poured the soup from Anne's tin flask into the cup and drank.'
'Mmm cream of tomato. You're a wee star.'
'So what you been up to?'
'Since last night? Ach, same old, same old. In the library working on my project. See with space...'
'Martin, we can all build spaceships in the sky.'
'Not a spaceship, ya donut, a telescope. You know with Fibonacci numbers..'.
'No, I don't know. I used to teach the primary ones. That was as far as my maths went.'
'Annie, Annie ma wee angel, come here...'
Yes, no, maybe. Martin's warmth, his urgency, his bright blue eyes, his intelligence, his survival skills, his maleness...
Anne gave her friend a short sharp squeeze of the hand. Her heart hammering she turned at right angles, ready for the journey back whence she came. She wanted to run. But which way?
Anne Macluskie's matins and evensong the following day held a luminosity matched only by those of her first time. Marie was sad, yet pleased to see her friend of ten years standing leave in this way. Ever practical, she zipped through the essential paperwork in minutes. Now she handed back the hundred and forty pounds Anne had brought with her when she entered the Order, counting the notes out into her hand.
'Good luck.' she called to Anne's retreating back ' Don't be a stranger.
That night, as Anne came toward him, Martin saw her flame red hair loosed to her shoulder.
'Martin tonight you can listen to my project. Andy has organised a room-and-kitchen flat for me under the new rent deposit scheme. it's five minutes from here. I picked up the keys this afternoon.'
'You're coming with me!'