The Kippses? asked Zora loudly, coming back through the
hallway. Whats going on did Jerome move in? How totally
insane . . . its like: Jerome Monty Kipps, said Zora,
two imaginary men to the right and left of her and then
the exercise. Jerome
. . . Monty
Living together. Zora shivered
Kiki chucked back her juice and brought the empty glass down
hard. Enough of Monty Kipps Im serious. I dont want to hear
his name again this morning, I swear to God. She checked her
watch. What times your first class? Whyre you even here, Zoor?
You know? Why are you
here? Oh, good morning, Monique,
said Kiki in a quite different
formal voice, stripped of its Florida
music. Monique shut the front door behind her and came forward.
Kiki gave Monique a frazzled smile. Were crazy today
late, running late. How are you doing, Monique you OK?
The new cleaner, Monique, was a squat Haitian woman, about
Kikis age, darker still than Kiki. This was only her second
the house. She wore a US Navy bomber jacket with a turned-up
furry collar and a look of apologetic apprehension, sorry for
would go wrong even before it had gone wrong. All this was made
more poignant and difficult
for Kiki by Moniques weave: a cheap,
orange synthetic hairpiece that was in need of renewal, and
seemed further back than ever on her skull, attached by thin
to her own sparse hair.
I start in here? asked Monique timidly. Her hand hovered near
the high zip of her coat, but she did not undo it.
Actually, Monique, could you start in the study
my study, said
Kiki quickly and over something Howard was starting to say.
Is that OK? Please dont move any papers just pile them up,
Monique stood where she was, clutching her zip. Kiki stayed in
her strange moment, nervous of what this black woman thought
of another black woman paying her to clean.
Zora will show you Zora, show Monique, please, just go on,
show her where.
Zora began to vault up the stairs three at a time, Monique
trudging behind her. Howard came out from behind the proscenium
and into his marriage.
If this happens, said Howard levelly, between sips of coffee,
Monty Kipps will be an in-law. Of ours. Not somebody elses
Howard, said Kiki with equal control, please, no
Were not on stage. Ive just said I dont want to talk about
now. I know
you heard me.
Howard gave a little bow.
Levi needs money for a cab. If you want to worry about
something, worry about that. Dont worry about the Kippses.
Kippses? called Levi, from somewhere out of sight. Kippses
who? Where they at?
This faux Brooklyn accent belonged to neither Howard nor Kiki,
and had only arrived in Levis mouth three years earlier, as he
turned twelve. Jerome and Zora had been born in England, Levi in
America. But all their various American accents seemed, to
in some way artificial not quite the products of this house of
wife. None, though, was as inexplicable as Levis. Brooklyn? The
Belseys were located two hundred miles north of Brooklyn. Howard
felt very close to commenting on it this morning (he had been
warned by his wife not to comment on it), but now Levi appeared
from the hallway and disarmed his father with a gappy smile
biting the top off
he held in his hand.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...