He met the next day as a different person. No, mister Thurlow's appearance has not undergone any changes at all - he was still a dystrophic man with consumptive breasts - but it was like a switch went off in his brain. Jo seemed to be attacked by euphoria, it seemed as if he was beaming with energy. At breakfast he wondered what to do with himself. Having outlined the plan by which he would act today, mister Thurlow finished his meagre meal and headed to the bathroom. There, holding his face under a stream of cold water, Jo rinsed off a little and looked in the mirror. His unruly hair was disheveled in all directions, and coupled with his somewhat crazy gaze, he looked like an angry and hungry student. "So", he thought, "Should trim his hair, otherwise with such a hairstyle he will only scare folk..."
Without thinking twice, Jo went into the office and, grabbing his wallet from the table, put it in his pocket as he walked. Already closing the wicket, mister Thurlow remembered that he had not fed Buffalo since yesterday. "It’s okay, chum, I’ll grab you some food today, I won’t forget", he thought. He put the key in his shirt pocket and, slightly straightening his hair, went on a hike to the hairdresser, which was located at the other end of the Parkrose Neighborhood. However, Jo did not forget to note to himself that cheerful female screams were heard from the yard of his new neighbours - one voice was older - as he understood, it was missis Yonce - and the second was younger. He already knew the owner of this voice by sight since yesterday.
Mister Thurlow thought that the female half of the Yonce family was enjoying their first day in a new place and, mentally imagining their walk around the yard, continued on his way. It seemed that the thought of those two only made Jo feel better. Without stopping for a second, he began to quietly whistle a melody, which, as it seemed to him, was suggested to him by the singing of birds that he had accidentally heard last night. It was more fun to walk this way, and besides, concentrating on trying to reproduce that song, he finally got rid of obsessive thoughts about his new neighbours. Carried away by this matter, Jo did not notice how he had already approached a residential building, on the ground floor of which there was a hairdressing salon. Having finished with his aria, he briefly admired the flowering bushes that grew near the entrance, and, taking a deep breath, entered the room.
In the tiny foyer, which preceded the hall itself, his modest person was immediately noticed by guy sitting on the sofa. It was Kelsey Pettipas, the son of the owner of this hairdressing salon, who, in fact, served as a barber in his mother’s establishment. Seeing Jo, he jumped up and he and the client shook hands, after which the latter began to say that, in fact, he needed - just remove excess hair on the sides and front so as not to look like some kind of garden scarecrow in public. The hairdresser laughed at these words and got down to business.
Mister Thurlow watched with interest in the mirror as the skilled hands of Kelsey Pettipas brought his hair to a civilized look. It was a real pleasure to see how scissors in the hands of a professional saved Jo from the bristling tangles that so disgusted him and made a bad impression. Despite the fact that he soaked in the bathroom almost every day, he almost never thought about his hair, which is why it, one might say, lived its own life. Jo recalled that in his childhood he did not like to get his hair cut, allegedly because the scissors would accidentally touch the skin on his head. Be that as it may, childhood phobias have finally disappeared from his mind...
When Kelsey Pettipas finished his business, Jo, paying him, asked if he remembered the last time he came to him for a haircut. The guy, after thinking a little, somewhat hesitantly stated that up until that moment he had seen mister Thurlow a whole year ago.
- By the way, did anyone get your hair cut today? - unexpectedly for himself, Jo decided to follow up with another question.
- You are the first client, calm down, - said Kelsey Pettipas cheerfully. - For at such an early hour few people bother to get a haircut, - added the hairdresser.
Mister Thurlow looked at his watch - it was ten minutes to nine o'clock in the morning. It turns out he woke up a bit early today... Jo left the hairdresser somewhat gloomy from the thoughts that had washed over him. "Did moving his family with a little girl", he thought, "Really change me so much internally?". There was no logic to it, but it happened. He spat angrily to the side, thinking that in this way he expressed contempt for common sense. However, it so happened that the lump of saliva landed not on the asphalt, but on a wooden cart, which was being driven by some old man, who immediately began to angrily express his displeasure to the young man, and Jo had to apologize profusely to him, but even this incident could not drown out the confusion in his head.
Soon the old man rolled his cart as if nothing had happened, and mister Thurlow, stopping near a building with a bookstore window, wondered what else he should do today. Jo remembered the evening phone call. He should exchange his work materials with his colleague, otherwise this would be an awkward situation... When leaving the house, he forgot to take the folder, so now, without delaying the matter, he ran back. The barber shop and his house were separated by quite a long distance, so mister Thurlow, who was not accustomed to physical activity, was exhausted already a third of the way. "Alas, you can’t jump above your head", he recalled his own thoughts. Therefore, he had to get home at a slow pace, which did not seem like a good idea to him - because he felt that until he gave Japhet his things, these shackles of promise would never fall off from him...
After some time, Jo was already in the area where he actually lived. He noted that only now people began to go out into the street (and it was already about twenty minutes to eleven), and he suddenly, for no apparent reason, wanted to take a roundabout route in order to approach his house from the other side, without being seen new neighbours. But Jo remembered how yesterday he punished himself for cowardice, and, having overcome this stupid desire, he boldly headed towards the house along the route he had walked a million times. Peering into the faces of passers-by who came across his path, mister Thurlow thought that he would certainly meet mister Yonce or someone from his family.And so he was not at all surprised when he noticed that near the gate surrounding their site, there were two human figures. From a distance it was clear that one belonged to a portly man, and the second to a little girl. Jo[, as he had done at the barbershop, stopped for a moment and breathed more air into his lungs.
Well, now he will see with his own eyes the person who last night so greatly changed his inner consciousness. Jo suddenly felt cheerful - he found it funny that he, a grown man, was so impressed by some peanut. It would be nice if some respectable gentleman or lady could give such an impetus to his mind, but the child... When mister Thurlow reached the father and daughter, he was already laughing out loud. He caught displeased glance of mister Yonce and decided that it was worth stopping not only his laughter, but also his movement. Jo stopped a few steps away from his neighbours, turning over the words of greeting in his mind.
For some reason, he couldn’t quickly figure out how to greet this family. He seemed embarrassed about something. The three of them stood opposite each other for half a minute, and mister Yonce himself was the first to break the silence. Unable to hide his contempt for this inappropriately cheerful young guy, the huge man muttered through his teeth:
- What kind of behavior is that? Laugh at the top of your voice. What are you, a horse?
It was a great mystery whether he had such a sense of humour or whether he was trying to tease the impudent young man, but the fact remained a fact - his little daughter, hearing this words, burst into laughter. The father began to hiss at the girl so that she would stop doing this, and Jo was finally able to collect his thoughts. He waited until mister Yonce finished scolding his daughter and turned his attention back to his neighbour. When he finally raised his head, mister Thurlow immediately blurted out the speech he had prepared.
Jo could no longer remember with what words he had greeted them, but the memory of what he had received in return was fresh in his mind. The head of the Yonce family sullenly listened to his greeting and, as if doing a favour, introduced himself to his neighbour as a pharmaceutist. Then he lightly pushed his daughter on the shoulder with the words "Well, go ahead, tell him what your name is, keep this civil". The girl took a small step towards Jo and, taking the hem of her dress in her hands and, bending slightly, complied with her father's demand. How easy it was to guess, mister Thurlow heard only one word from her lips - Delia...
Hearing her first word, addressed directly to his modest person, Jo was again for a moment seized by that strange sensation, as if the gaze of hundreds of people were directed at him at the same time. Fortunately, he quickly got over this feeling and, without hesitating in answering, addressed her a compliment, something like "Very pretty name". The three of them stood there for a couple more seconds and then went about their business. Mister Yonce and his daughter headed to the car - apparently they needed to go to the city - and Jo, still holding in his head image of Delia's crimson cheeks, went to his house to grab a folder with Japhet's materials. It seemed a little strange to him that the girl was embarrassed when she met him in close proximity to her. Mister Thurlow had cut his hair this morning, so it was unlikely that his appearance had anything to do with it. Maybe this was her reaction to the laughter that had overwhelmed him before?
Covering the wicket behind him and at the same time waving away the hungry Buffalo, Jo almost ran to his room. He began searching for the folder. For some reason, it slipped his mind where he had put it yesterday under the influence of fatigue.After spending about three minutes searching, mister Thurlow finally found the item he was looking for on the floor near the mirror in the hallway. This is what he screwed up yesterday - he usually always puts things away neatly when he returns home... Picking up a slightly dusty leather folder swollen with papers, Jo suddenly remembered that this happened because before picking up the dried clothes from the street, without thinking twice he threw them over the door to free his hands. The only thing he couldn't understand was why the door was open. Did he, when leaving for work five days ago, forget to close the front door of the house itself? Thank God he has a dog to guard his property, otherwise this could have ended badly.
Clutching the folder between his legs, mister Thurlow closed the door properly. Then he walked up to the gate and, looking at his faithful dog with a knowing glance, stepped over the threshold. Turning the key in the keyhole, with peripheral vision he saw that there was no longer a car near the gate of his new neighbours’ house. Clearly, he thought, the pharmaceutist and his daughter were really going to town on business. Jo thought that they had left too late - his logic told him that if mister Yonce was going to arrive at his workplace on time, he should have left about the same early as mister Thurlow himself that day, after all, in order to get to the center in a small car, needs to spend at least forty minutes - the bus, led by old Martin, rode for about that long.
Putting the key in his shirt pocket, Jo repeated to himself what he needed to do - now he must fulfill the promise made to Japhet, who last night asked him to drop by to exchange materials. The walk to it was a little less than to the hairdresser, but mister Thurlow, knowing his body, discarded the idea of running and, wiping his hands on a handkerchief, slowly directed his steps towards the only area in his village, where once upon a time ten multi-storey buildings were erected. This time Jo no longer whistled to himself after meeting the Yonce family - with the possible exception of missis Yonce herself - he was in such a state of mind when there is no desire to waste energy in vain. When he finally approached the third entrance of house number one hundred and fifty-four, mister Thurlow almost completely lost all his gaiety, and, dialing the apartment number, waited for the door phone signal with a feeling close to the one in which he met mister Yonce himself today.
So the door opened. He almost ran up to the fourth floor landing. His friend had already opened the front door, and Jo, without much warmth, said "Hello" to him and entered his apartment, which was filled with the aroma of fresh baked goods. Japhet was somewhat embarrassed by his colleague's gloomy appearance, but, wisely deciding that if a person was not in the mood, then he should not pester him with questions regarding this, he accepted the folder from mister Thurlow's hands and invited him to follow him to the kitchen. There he proudly pointed to a dish on which lay a small pile of shortbread cookies. Jo remembered that his friend loved to cook himself, and noticed that he was lucky to be visiting him at the very moment when he had just finished his next "culinary experiment". Sitting down in the seat offered by his friend, he watched as Japhet poured boiling water into the teapot. He decided that now it really wouldn’t hurt him to eat, considering that he didn’t even have any eggs left in his house - mister Thurlow finished the last four of them this morning.
Waiting for the black tea to brew - Japhet did not recognize another because of his principle of being a lover of Indian life - the owner of the apartment shared with his guest the recipe for today's dish. According to him, he simply beat three eggs with a mixer (oh, it's them again, thought Jo) and half a packet of sugar, poured a glass of sunflower oil into this mixture and, having kneaded more flour into it, immediately put the resulting dough in the oven, without even trying to give it any beautiful shape. As Japhet said, this is because it would be a shame to spend time on the beautiful design of a dish that had a high chance of turning into a completely inedible substance after baking.
But apparently the gods favoured the cook, so his first attempt at making shortbread turned out quite edible. Jo chewed with great appetite the fruit of his friend's culinary labours, not forgetting to wash it down with tea, which, if it had been his choice, he would have replaced with coffee. Looking at the owner of the apartment, mister Thurlow noticed that his heart seemed to lighten - Japhet was no longer embarrassed in appearance as he was when he met the guest, now his face was glowing with happiness. "As I understand", Jo noted to himself, "Like any person interested in the art of cooking, the opinions of other people were always important to him, not like me..."
Jo didn't notice that the pile of cookies was gradually reduced to a small amount of crumbs. He was still hungry, so he asked Japhet to give him something from the refrigerator. He, pleased with the assessment of his culinary experiment, walked past the guest and, opening the refrigerator, began to list to his friend what he could treat himself to. Of all the above, mister Thurlow liked most the can of canned fish, pea salad with sour cream, as well as store-bought sandwiches, which Japhet, returning home from work, grabbed at some eatery located just across the road from the parking lot. Taking the food from his friend’s hands and laying it out on the table, Jo read the inscription on the packaging of these sandwiches - yeah, that means friend Japh decided to treat himself to some junkfood!
Apartment's owner, having transferred the dishes chosen by his friend to the table, closed the refrigerator door and did not deny himself the pleasure of joining the meal. So they sat opposite each other, devouring all this culinary splendor by both cheeks - Jo opened the can of tuna with a kitchen knife and both of them, armed with forks, took turns putting oily pieces into their mouths. Mister Thurlow managed to grab the last piece before Japhet did, and, taking a spoon, began to eat the salad, while the latter opened one of the sandwiches. "Tuna and after it pea salad..." Jo thought to himself. "Yes, this is far from an exemplary change of dishes, but does my friend run a restaurant in his apartment? No!". Besides, at the moment he was more concerned not with any rules for serving dishes, and their own calorie content. Therefore, he, without hurrying anywhere, sent this salad into his insatiable mouth, spoon by spoon...
The owner of the apartment has already managed to finish the first sandwich, and has already started the second. The third was the last of the food remaining on the table. Mister Thurlow put the now empty salad plate in the sink and picked up this piece of fast food. On the wrapping paper he saw the mark "Chicken". Looking at the labels of the sandwiches his friend had gotten, he noticed with some annoyance that, as it turned out, Japhet had taken both beef sandwiches for himself. Oh God, there's that chicken again... First, scrambled eggs at breakfast, then eggs in shortcrust pastry, and now the meat of this bird itself... "What the chicken's curse?" he thought to himself, holding a sandwich in both hands.
- How's it feel? - asked Japhet, who eating faster than his leisurely friend.
Jo, whose jaws were currently chewing a mixture of two rolls, a leaf of lettuce and a chicken cutlet, could not give him a word, only nodded in the affirmative. Japh's face lit up with happiness again - it seemed that he was glad that the guest liked everything that was in the master's refrigerator, and not just the work of his own hands.
- I actually took these sandwiches by accident, - he began to tell the guest. - I leave the boss all cheerful, go down to the street and feel like I want something harmful. Remembering that there was a diner next to the highway, I got on my motorcycle and went. I’m driving in general, and, noticing a sign, I stop. At the checkout I say "I’ll have two beef and two chicken", and, having paid with what I found in my pockets, I continue on my way home. But, having already entered my apartment, I realized that I could not cope with everyone, and I satisfied my hunger with only one. Anyway, - he said with some sympathy, stroking Jo. - But he fed you. There's nothing to eat at home, right?
Having already finished with this invention of the hands of cooks unknown to him, mister Thurlow replied that yes, Japh was right, he has serious problems with food at home.