Helmand turned to Max.
I suppose you know what it is, don’t ye?
Am I supposed to answer?
Ah, feck off.
Very well then, replied Max. I’m going to head outside for a little sun.
And what’ve you got that needs sunning, eh? Tell me: Are ye goin’ to follow her around like a puppy everywhere she goes? That the deal, then?
Max made a sighing sound, and stood up all the same.
Now that was balletic: not the tiniest bit of energy wasted, not a creak… not even the movement of air. Max turned and headed toward the sunlight. His gait, manly and smooth and un-lilted, was gut-wrenching for Helmand to behold.
He considered joining them.
He would have, too… But imagine: the neighbours peering down from their bedrooms to see beyond the shared fence and finding them – all three of them – pottering about in the back garden. The imagined sight struck him as being odd beyond compare. He’d have no part of it.
He’ll let them alone to talk about early planting. Let him quiz her about bonsais and geraniums as if he didn’t have a goddamn thing in that head of his and let her pander to it all.
He found that his grip had tightened around the small joystick in his left hand. He pulled back with his fingers and reversed slowly out of the living room, turned and went past the dining-room too and down the small ramp to the garage.
A disembodied voice: Would you like some assistance, Helm?
Helm. Jesus wept. And he was goddamned everywhere.
Fine! Heading out!
Not that it’s any of your business, Helmand muttered under his breath.