Hi ol lady - I'm sorry it took ME so long to come back and thank you for your lovely compliment. Been very busy - and have not even had the urge to write one single line until today.
I'm glad you like Justin - I do too. Yes, he's quite a character and a very entertaining friend. He's doing well, by the way, I'll tell him you said hello.
LUNCHING WITH JUSTIN (cont).
I woke the next morning with a stiff neck having fallen asleep in the deep and comfortable arm chair I'd been sitting in. Pearl was curled around Justin, her head tucked into the crook of his neck, and as I stirred and struggled to turn my body to rise from the chair, she looked at me defiantly.
'Pearl,' I whispered, hoping to move her without waking Justin.
She remained where she was. 'Pearl,' I whispered more emphatically and slightly louder, and Justin stirred. He looked over Pearl's head and smiled at me. 'At least somebody loves me,' he said patting her haunch, as he whispered into her ear, loudly enough for me to hear, ' don't you move a muscle...she's just jealous.'
I smiled as I rose from the chair and moved to gather Pearl's leash from the hook beside the door.
'So nobody slept in the bed after all- what a waste.'
'Yes, three beers and one game of scrabble and you were out for the count,' Justin advised. 'You looked so snug and comfortable, I couldn't bear to move you.'
'That is a great chair - I wouldn't mind having it,' I said, bending to put on my shoes.
'Looks made for you- right size, complementary color. I'll ask my friend if she'd part with it. Maybe you could buy it off her.'
I snapped the leash onto Pearl's collar and opened the door.
'We'll be back within the hour. Feel free to go back to sleep- I may- after I walk her.'
'I need to get some practice in,' he said, throwing off the blanket and rising from the cushions on the floor. 'And I need a cigarette and to clean my teeth', he grimaced as he pulled one of Pearl's hairs from his mouth.
'See you in a bit.'
As we approached the house after our walk, tremulous notes poured through the open door and into the morning air.
Justin was standing in the middle of the room, violin at his chin.
'Practising your vibrato?' I asked, kicking off my shoes.
'What do you know about vibrato?' he asked, obviously taken aback.
'I told you - I took lessons for a while-'my teacher advised vibrato as a technique to loosen my wrist.'
'And so she should have,' he nodded to me, holding out the violin.
'Play something for me.' He motioned for me to take it.
'You have got to be kidding,' I said, shaking my head and refusing to take the instrument. 'Like I'm going to play the violin for a professional violinist? No, thank you.'
'Go on. You can't be any worse than my seven year old beginners,' he encouraged, continuing to hold the violin towards me. 'You play the piano, you can sing- I've heard you. You're obviously musical. Play something.'
I was tempted. I hadn't held a violin in years. I wanted to see what I could remember. I took the instrument and held it to my chin. The fingers on my left hand instinctively found the second string. The bow felt comfortable in my right hand. I played Mary Had A Little Lamb without a hitch. He clapped. I continued with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. I could feel myself beaming.
I looked up at him, he was beaming back at me. Without thinking, my fingers found the notes for Full Moon. I played it twice. It had always been a favourite.
'Will you give me lessons?' I asked as I reluctantly handed the violin back to him.
'It would be my pleasure,' he stated. ' A mature student who already reads music and has a good ear is a boon to any music teacher.'
I made pancakes that morning and he insisted on washing the dishes. He didn't rinse. Appalled, I took each dish from the drainer and rinsed the soap off before drying them.
'Why are you doing that?' he asked, watching me.
'You have to get the soap off Justin -or the residue will affect the way the food tastes on the plate.'
'I didn't know that,' he conceded. 'I've not washed very many dishes, ' he explained. 'Will you give me lessons?
'It would be my pleasure,' I answered.
As we left the cottage that afternoon, we stood surveying the view of the mountains in the distance. I held Pearl on the leash as Justin finished a last cigarette before getting into the car.
' I'll never forget this place,' he said.
'Yes, me neither - beautiful, isn't it?' I responded.
'Certainly, beautiful yes, but that's not why I'll always remember it,' he sighed, exhaling smoke.
I looked at him curiously, waiting for him to explain.
'I'll never forget this place,' he said mashing his cigarette between two fingers before looking up at me and continuing,-'I'll never forget this place, because it is here, in this very place- that I learned how to rinse.'
Laughing, I put Pearl in the car and we drove down the mountain.