Concerning the Events in Leinster Gardens
(Title story from Leinster Gardens & Other Subtleties (c) Jan Edwards)
The paving under his feet rumbled, setting shivers up through the soles of his boots. It was the Tube; only trains, he knew that. The ginger-moustachioed officer told him, as he’d sold Archie his ticket, how the Metropolitan Line ran right through the street, and laughed as he spoke of it. Archie had laughed along with him, though he felt less than amused now.
‘Number twenty-four.’ He checked the card again, sure that he had come to the right place. The door was solid enough beneath its ionic portico. The perfectly normal balustrade on either side of the perfectly normal step was all perfectly normal for a Regency terrace. But unlike the other residences in Leinster Gardens, there were no lights showing in any of its windows. Even without a Ball, and even if the family were not at home, servants would keep lamps burning in this kind of household. The only sign of life was a small tabby cat perched on the end of the balustrade.
‘This is all a bit wet,’ he told it. ‘Dashed poor show.’
The cat only stretched onto its toes and pulled its lips back in a silent hiss before slinking into the basement stairwell.
Archie looked at the lit windows all along the row, noting how a few drapes had been left daringly undrawn, the better to show off electrical Christmas lights; welcoming beacons for the late-night walkers. When he turned back to his dark destination he almost fell off the stoop, because in that short moment all things had changed. Continue reading