Prelude 80

Aaron gazed dreamily at the rolling waves crashing endlessly like a nagging wife on uncaring rocks, battle after battle only briefly interluded by the sea’s sulky withdrawal. He liked this place: desolate and alone, it was unfrequented by all except that occasional startled cormorant, and he came here to escape, to think. He sat hunched over, braced against the icy wind, drawing his knees together below a great white beard, his deeply creviced face crumpled in contemplation around two intelligent eyes that shone like forgotten pools of youth in an ageing desert.

Prelude 79

Aaron woke with a start and listened, his body immediately taught with war-trained anticipation. A soft clatter sounded from the kitchen.

Fiona stirred next to him, but he put his hand gently on her shoulder.

"Shhh," he hissed, throwing off the covers and getting out of bed. "It's that neighbour's cat in the kitchen again - I'm going to get it this time and wring it's blasted neck"

Fiona giggled sleepily. "Looking like that?"

Aaron looked puzzled at first but then saw his naked, pale, moonlit frame standing in the cupboard mirror. He stroked his long beard thoughtfully, examining the lean, muscular lines of his body with not a little satisfaction.

Then he grinned defiantly back at his wife. "Definitely!"

He crept out of the bedroom, along the dark passageway towards the kitchen, careful to avoid the familiar creaking floor boards past the girls' bedrooms. Finally he reached the door and paused, listening to the further clanking that could be heard. Slowly he crouched, preparing his body like a coiled spring, then with a mighty roar he leapt through the door, waving his arms like a great white bearded banshee.

The "cat" turned out to be a solitary man wearing a dark balaclava who turned to face him, his face full of panicked incredulity, before dropping his bag of stolen silverware and fleeing, screaming, through the open window.

Prelude 78

Aaron pushed the reluctant door to his new home open to reveal a wall emblazoned with startling graffiti: "Fuck the counsel", presumably written by some embittered and illiterate previous tenan1t.

"Fuck the counsel!" screamed the graffiti emblazoned wall, the enraged residue of the previous evicted tenants of his new home, a "room with a view" according to his sardonic soup kitchen mate - very funny.

The door opened fairly easily, revealing a debris-filled room - the discarded remnant of previous tenants' lives - surrounded by walls emblazoned with foul graffiti and dimly lit by a dust encrusted window that opened on to the alley below.

Aaron surveyed his new home with a wry smile; this littered, graffiti besmirched hovel was the "room with a view" his soup kitchen mate had mentioned?