Jo greeted the new day with a severe headache - having not yet really woken up from sleep, he, wincing from the spasms running through his brain, barely got out of bed and sat down on the blanket that had been crumpled during the night. Soon, when his eyes were finally able to focus, he was able to roughly understand the cause of this illness - outside the window the rain was pouring down like buckets. Mister Thurlow read somewhere that with the change of weather, certain magnetic storms pass over the territory, which in people with poor blood circulation cause pain in the brain, similar to what he is now experiencing.
In any case, for Jo, who, in his own words, was a professional procrastinator, the headache was not any serious hindrance, because he had to turn on his brain very, very rarely - he even forgot how to solve arithmetic problems from the moment he finished his studies at High School. Even when he had to deal with paying for some services he needed, he used to honestly declare that he hardly knew how to count, and as a result, this could sometimes result in sellers cheating him, as he once had with the purchase of Buffalo through Nuell Saberlow. But Jo has long lost any pieces of pride that anyone who lives in society should have.
Be that as it may, the headache, although it did not interfere with his business, was an obstacle to a happy pastime - it’s not so easy to even just walk when there is a risk of falling somewhere with blackness in eyes. So Jo decided not to go anywhere today, but just sit quietly with some reading material in his hands. Rinsed lightly under running cold water, he wrapped himself in his battered green bathrobe and, looking in the mirror, thought that before he could take in the food of his mind, he also needed to provide food for his stomach.
He didn't even need to open the refrigerator to remember that there wasn't a single crumb of food in his house. It’s sad, he thought, he’ll have to wait out this ill and then go to the store to buy something... Slightly shivering from the cold, mister Thurlow went into his office and began to look for some interesting book in his small library, which was located in a bookshelf that occupied the entire wall - all the inheritance that he received from his maternal grandmother (like this house itself).
His eye caught the strange name that intrigued him - "The Book of Light". The hands themselves grabbed this book in a hard blue cover. Plunging into a chair, Jo prepared to read this manuscript, which, for some reason, it seemed to him, could tell the reader about the lives of the servants of the Templar Order and their infamous curse - he himself could not explain why this name evoked such associations in him, apparently his hunger for information about the novels of Walter Scott and similar authors he loved as a child affected him.
Sitting by the window, he involuntarily plunged into memories of how this book got into his house. It was just recently - last month, when mister Thurlow, having finished his short work day, walked out of the door of his place of work and, taking a deep breath of the warm July air, leisurely walked along the wide sidewalk towards the boulevard, which he could see from his office window. He had not yet walked a few steps when he caught the eye of a man standing near the wall of a building decorated with decorative tiles. Jo was immediately struck by the fact that despite his good build and youthful appearance, the stranger’s long hair was completely silver, as was the thick beard that covered his entire face. Mister Thurlow walked past him, but the stranger suddenly moved away from the wall and followed him.
- Take a book! - the silver-haired man spoke inaudibly, but loudly enough.
Jo, without slowing down, looked back. The stranger, stretching his arm forward, somehow strangely minced his feet, almost dancing as he walked. His voice sounded too young for his aged face - apparently he used some kind of hair bleaching product. But at the moment that was not the point at all - the crazy light that burned in the man’s eyes testified to the extent to which he was out of his mind.
- Take a book, take-a-book, takeabook!... - raising his voice, he muttered, jumping with every step.
- What's the matter? - mister Thurlow asked sternly, trying to break away from his pursuer.
- Let you take a book! I'm has good book! - the whacky said, shaking his whole body.
Jo quickened his pace a little, hoping that his shadower would leave him behind, but where there! This silver-haired man, dressed in denim overalls, has become even bolder - his movements became even more fussy, and the whacky began to mince his feet even more energetically, continuing to repeat the same word, which now sounded like "takabuk", he pronounced it so incoherently. This was starting to get on mister Thurlow's nerves, but his upbringing didn’t allow him to start running. Eventually the crazy man overtook him and stopped on the road, blocking his path.
- What's the matter, I said? - Jo repeated his question even more sternly.
- Take one, just one book! - said the pursuer, mumbling lips.
With these words, the whacky grabbed him by the sleeve and pulled him towards him. Mister Thurlow silently shook off his hand and walked forward, but this only provoked the silver-haired man in denim overalls even more, who, without stopping for a second, began to pursue him again, coming in from one side, then from the other, like an annoying jackal. Jo was already starting to get angry, but the stranger, dancing around him, pressed harder and harder, as if trying at all costs to prevent him from passing.
- Get lost! - Jo replied through clenched teeth, looking with hatred at the insane smile on the face of his pursuer, covered with thick silver hair.
- Take a book and I'll go away! - the whacky was already screaming, continuing his attempt to grab his hand.
Meanwhile, mister Thurlow had already approached the store, which at that time was crowded with quite a lot of people. The people gathered at the showcase looked in bewilderment at this strange dance of the silver-haired man in denim overalls, until some tall, thin man in a tracksuit decided to intervene. Grabbing the madman by the shoulder, he tried to pull him away from Jo, but he stubbornly resisted his strong hands.
- I'm has good book and he have none! I beg him for take a book! - the silver-haired man shouted loudly.
- Chill out, gaffer! - the sportsman tried to calm him down.
- I follow him for half an hour already! Let him take a book! - the whacky in denim overalls did not stop
The madman lied - he chased mister Thurlow for about three minutes, God willing, but for this he managed to bring his victim to such a state that if it had not been for the intervening athlete, the silver-haired man would probably have had a hard time. Jo walked through the crowd, but felt an object hit him in the back. Turning around, he saw the whacky remove his hand from the pocket of his denim overalls, while the athlete continued to tenaciously hold him by the shoulders. Mister Thurlow looked down and saw an open book lying in the dust - it was not difficult to guess what the madman had thrown at his back. Bending down, Jo picked her up from the asphalt and, holding her under his arm, continued his way to the bus stop, while a policeman appeared at the store window and began to perform his duties - namely, to detain the silver-haired madman in denim overalls.
Jo was distracted from his memories by a phone call - fortunately the telephone was right next to the chair, he didn't even have to get up to pick up the receiver, although the very fact that he was disturbed at a very inconvenient time for him made Jo mentally say goodbye to the prospects of overcoming his headache. Stretching his hand towards the telephone, mister Thurlow began to turn over in the back of his mind the people who might disturb him at such an early hour. He was sure that it could not be his boss, Ruth Vardiel - for all who were under his command were well aware of two facts from his life - First of all, mister Vardiel liked to lie in bed with his wife Camille until lunchtime (which is why he didn’t show up at work until twenty-two in the afternoon), and secondly, he was not one of those who needlessly disturbed his employees during non-working hours. Besides him, Jo also immediately dismissed Japhet - after their get-together yesterday, his not very sociable friend hardly wanted to call the person with whom he spent almost the entire day.
So who called him? Clutching the telephone receiver, Jo still wincing from his headache, held it some distance from his eyes for a couple of seconds, as if trying to mentally transport through the speaker holes to the distance to the subscriber’s device at the other end of the line, and, deciding that it was enough to hesitate, he brought it to his ear.
- Mister Thurlow, did I disturb you? - Jo heard a voice unfamiliar to him, clearly belonging to an adult woman.
- Hello, with whom do I have the pleasure of speaking to? - he asked politely
Jo decided that since the person was unfamiliar, it was better to speak in much the same way as when working with clients.
- I apologize that we were not able to meet with you yesterday, unlike my husband, - the stranger answered as if apologizing.
- I'm not sure what you mean, madame? - Jo asked.
Mister Thurlow was already beginning to lose his temper a little, because he hated it when people, instead of immediately telling him what they needed, began to evade his questions.
- Sorry, I forgot to name myself. I'm Ivette Yonce, your new neighbour.
Jo was numb. The moments of yesterday’s incident that occurred between him and the young representative of this family flashed feverishly through his head, like pictures in a kaleidoscope. Trying not to show fear - although he already felt how his unfounded ligaments were beginning to stiffen - he asked:
- How can I be of service to the wife of the esteemed mister Yonce at such an early hour?
- Oh, there’s no need to be so familiar with me, as in anyway we don’t live nearby.
Mister Thurlow heard his interlocutor burst into laughter. He almost physically felt as if a stone had been lifted from his heart - the tension preceding it was so strong. He laughed in response, although his laughter was not so much from joy as from nerves. When, as it seemed to him, two minutes had passed, the voice of his interlocutor reached his ears:
- Could you do us a favour, mister Thurlow?
- Uh, what, excuse me?
Jo, who had not expected such a development in the conversation, immediately suppressed his laughter.
- I would never have asked you about this if my husband had not said "Okay, my joy, I agree" at yesterday’s family council, - answered the woman.
"More riddles", thought Jo, "How much beat around the bush..."
- Hmm... And what is your request, missis Yonce?
- Ivette, please call me Ivette, - his interlocutor corrected him
- Why should that be? - didn't understand Jo.
- You know, - she began to explain. - First names are much more friendly, and since we are neighbour, then...
- Well, - mister Thurlow interrupted her. - So what do you want, missis Ivette?
- Finally, - he heard a sigh.
Apparently, the woman on the other end of the line was tired of delaying this conversation. After being silent for a couple of seconds, she continued:
- It's all because of Delia. Baby tried to persuade us to let her look at your dog, that we, knowing full well what everything could lead to if we refuse, not only allowed her to enter your yard, but also allowed her to visit your home.
Mister Thurlow felt the fear that he had managed to calm down begin to devour him from the inside again. He, rubbing his forehead with his left hand, on which drops of sweat appeared, slightly removed the pipe from his mouth and turned his head to the side, let out a wild cry, which seemed to combine the headache that had been consuming him since the morning, the desire to escape to the ends of the world and this strange feeling of regret for the wasted years of his life.
- Pardon me, what did you say? - missis Yonce asked with some surprise.
Coming to his senses, Jo realized that he had just made a mistake by giving vent to his feelings. He said:
- All right, missis Ivette, I said "all right".
- Well, okay, otherwise it feels like you dropped the iron on your leg.
She laughed at her own joke, and mister Thurlow decided not to be left out and joined his neighbour.
- Okay, laughter, of course, is the best medicine, but you still shouldn’t abuse it, - a woman's voice reached Jo. - Now I’ll boxing my daughter lunch so that if she suddenly gets hungry, she can have a snack at your house, and we’ll come to you soon.
- So... - mister Thurlow said thoughtfully. - How many minutes should I expect you in? I just, how shall I say this...
- We are going to leave the house in half an hour, - the neighbour answered immediately. - But if you're not in the mood to see us today, then...
- No-no, I just wanted to say that I don’t really have any clean clothes, - Jo interrupted her. - I wouldn't want to...
- Don't worry about your appearance, mister Thurlow, - his interlocutor began to calm down. - Just behave with dignity, that's all that's required of you. Oh yeah, regarding clothes, - after a pause she repeated. - I was just getting ready to do the laundry after lunch, and since we don’t have a lot of dirty laundry at home, then I can, as a neighbour, do you a favour for a favour - for the fact that you sit with Delia, I will wash your things. This is okay?
Mister Thurlow was digesting this long tirade from his new neighbour. Why on earth would she is so eager to gain his trust? Is this all really on the initiative of their daughter? Unable to find answers to the pile of questions that had piled up on his poor head, Jo said only "Yes" into the phone. He received a chuckle and a cheerful "Até logo" in response.
- I'm sorry, what did you just say? - he asked.
- See you, - missis Yonce explained and hung up.