Treslove shook his head. But he liked the sound of it Julian and Judith. Hulian and Hudith Treslove.
"Well, she"s waiting for you, this Julie or Judith or Juno . . . I do still see a Juno." Treslove closed his other eye. Juno, Juno.
"How long will she wait?" he asked.
"As long as it takes you to find her."
Treslove imagined himself looking, searching the seven seas. "You said you see danger. How is she dangerous?"
He saw her rearing up at him, with a knife to his throat Addio, mio bello, addio.
"I did not say it was she who was dangerous. Only that I saw danger. It might be you who is dangerous to her. Or some other person who is dangerous to both of you."
"So should I avoid her?" Treslove asked.
She shuddered a fortune-teller"s shudder. "You cannot avoid her."
She was beautiful herself. At least in Treslove"s eyes. Emaciated and tragic with gold hooped earrings and a trace, he thought, of a West Midlands accent. But for the accent he would have been in love with her.
She didn"t tell him anything he didn"t already know. Someone, something, was in store for him.
Something of more moment than a mishap.
He was framed for calamity and sadness but was always somewhere else when either struck. Once, a tree fell and crushed a person walking just a half a yard behind him. Treslove heard the cry and wondered whether it was his own. He missed a berserk gunman on the London Underground by the length of a single carriage. He wasn"t even interviewed by the police. And a girl he had loved with a schoolboy"s hopeless longing the daughter of one of his father"s friends, an angel with skin as fine as late-summer rose petals and eyes that seemed forever wet died of leukaemia in her fourteenth year while Treslove was in Barcelona having his fortune told. His family did not call him back for her final hours or even for the funeral. They did not want to spoil his holiday, they told him, but the truth was they did not trust his fortitude. People who knew Treslove thought twice about inviting him to a deathbed or a burial.
So life was still all his to lose. He was, at forty-nine, in good physical shape, had not suffered a bruise since falling against his mother"s knee in infancy, and was yet to be made a widower. To his knowledge, not a woman he had loved or known sexually had died, few having stayed long enough with him anyway for their dying to make a moving finale to anything that could be called a grand affair. It gave him a preternaturally youthful look this unconsummated expectation of tragic event. The look which people born again into their faith sometimes acquire.
Excerpted from The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson Copyright 2010 by Howard Jacobson. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury USA.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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