>A CARTOGRAPHER’S NIGHTMARE

>We were sitting in a room very similar to this one. Three of us: Henry, Colleen and I. Henry’s this pouch-faced fellow who looks as if he’s stepped out of the 1500s and Colleen’s been the object of my sexual fantasies since I was 15. As I said, the room was remarkably similar to this one, right down to the dubious objet trouvé that seems to have so enchanted the decorators.

In fact, Henry’s eye was immediately caught by some painted driftwood-and-wheel-spoke number and he went over to it and remarked on its “naive beauty”. Colleen and I shared a look and then she snorted with laughter. Henry reeled around, as he so often did, with an imperious air. Henry was always reeling.

“Oh come on,” said Colleen, “you surely can’t think that this is art?”

“As a matter of fact,” said Henry, “I think you’re missing a lot.”

“I think you’re missing a lot,” I said, tapping the side of my head. Which was a far less clever line when actually said out loud.

“Anyway,” said Colleen. “We’re waiting for him here, so we’d better get used to it.”

This “him” Colleen was alluding to was her so-called partner. When Colleen first used this word, I had hoped it referred to either a business associate or grizzled cowboy. Unfortunately it meant neither. His name was Jack, but out of respect for me (I like to think) she just called him “him”.

Henry pulled out a pack of cards—pretentious gold-leafed cards and shuffled them in what he hoped was a nonchalant way. In fact, bug-beads of concentration sweat grew noticeably from his temples. “Can’t be long now,” he said.

“Can’t be long,” I agreed.

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