The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 73… The Return of Herbert Marks… (Part One)

Esme has returned to Charles in Bayswater and their reunion affords a dear friend of Charles…

It was late that following morning when Charles awoke, he glanced wearily at the unwound clock, its alarm had retreated some hours earlier. Esme lay gently sleeping beside him, it seemed little had disturbed her through the night. Downstairs he could hear the faint sounds of Toby or Barney moving around, perhaps even dealing with a client. He smiled to himself, perhaps they were tiding up for once. Lunch saw them all in the Parlour and enjoying a chicken casserole with some fresh crusty bread, all procured, cooked and provided by the brothers.

‘We thought, after your traumatic and welcoming night. You might both like a square and fulfilling meal.’ Toby looked at the others around the table and Barney nodded agreement.

‘But, how did you know?’ inquired Charles.

‘My dear friend’ replied Toby. ‘I have an insight into these things, or perhaps you are not so quiet as you think you are, when you move around at night.’ he winked and then smiled. ‘Please enjoy the chicken and vegetables.’

There were a few customers to the shop that day, they occupied Toby with studio portrait bookings and an occasional wedding appointment. It was around 4 o’clock when Barney took a telephone call from a man who gave his name as ‘Er’bert Marks and insisted on speaking to “Charlie or H’esme”

Charles had forbade disturbance that afternoon, had closed the door to the small middle floor studio and sunk his mind into doing the monthly accounts for the business, therefore when Barney tapped gently on the door and announced that an “Er’bert Marks” was on the phone it came as a sheer release for him. He almost tumbled down the stairs to the shop with anticipation, this was a man who in the past had offered him the most fascinating of picture endeavours.

‘Herby’ he claimed with enthusiasm, almost dropping the receiver. ‘How are you, it’s been a while.’

‘Charlie my boy it’s you.’ The fractured voice of Herbert Marks was unmistakable. ‘O’ws that lovely Es’me of yourn. It’s good to talk to yer. Here listen, I’s want you to do something for me Charlie, just for you O’l mate, do yer understand, for ol times sake.’

‘Esme is fine Herby, just fine, of course I will help you. What is it I can do for you?’

‘Well, Charlie, I got me self in a bit of a pickle, you might say, and I need your ‘elp. I knows you’ll understand. You got a really kind nature.’

‘Herby! What is it. Spit it out?’

Well, if I ain’t gone and got me self in a bit o’ bother, Charlie me boy.’ Herbert’s voice paused for a moment as if unsure what to say next. ‘ Its a woman yer see. A blooming woman Charlie! You’ll have to come and sort it out for me. She’s gone and talked me into a binding, would yer believe. A blooming binding Charlie.’

Charles could tell he was clearly upset and asked gently. ‘Do you mean Marriage?

‘Yea, yea… Marriage! You gotta sort this out Charlie. You gotta sort this out for me. I can’t be tethered to no woman.’

‘Ok, you can tell me all about when I get there and don’t worry Herby, it’s probably just some misunderstanding.’ Charles looked at his watch, he could be there in fifteen minutes. He would ask Esme to accompany him. She would have a woman’s perspective on dear Herb’s predicament.

Intrigued thoughts now crowded Charles mind “What on earth had Herbert got himself into this time?”

About Patrick

a photographer, writer and blogger, a studio and press photographer since the mid 1960's, first published writings in 1974
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