“Yes, how may I help you?” a short heighted lady, probably in her mid forties, inquired politely through the narrow slit in the wooden door.
“Good Morning, I am here to see Mr. Clive, I am Rachel from ‘The Reader’.”
“Do come in, It is a cold morning.” She said as she opened the door to let Rachel in.
“Thank You, you must be Mrs. Clive, if I am not wrong. Pleasure to meet you Ma’m”
Mrs. Clive smiled warm heartedly.
“I’ll let him know that you have come, please take a seat.” She went upstairs leaving Rachel alone to look at the room.
It looked like a spacious manor from the outside. Probably a one and a half storey house, it bore an ordinary look from the outside. Interior was contrary to expectations. The door led into a hallway. It was warm inside. In the center were sofas arranged in a circular pattern. All seemed to have chestnut framework with weaved cane and jute. Cushions and pillows with circular and square shapes were neatly placed in a circle-diagonal-circle pattern. A small fireplace was placed to the east with two thick deep brown coloured cozy sofas facing it from the opposite ends. The cover of one of the sofas was ruffled and a small bundle of stapled pages lying on the peg table alongside. The lady must have been sitting by the fireplace. A big portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Clive and their daughter adorned its mantel. Colours near its bottom had started to fade a little from the heat. Netted curtains of yellow hues intricately embroidered with wool, beads and small shells tied neatly from the waists to the hooks nearby allowed filtered ambience into the hall through the full sized polished windows. Walls were painted in matte off white. To the west was a short flight of staircases leading to the upper rooms. Doors were polished lustrous deep brown just like the windows with scales of jute to artificially recreate the threads of a raw tree. They looked like blocks of wood that had just been carved and put in place. A wide alley concealed by heavy dark curtains divided the lower block wall lining. On its one side were shelves neatly stacked with varieties of alcohol, all locked inside sliding glass, Wine, Champagne, Sherry, Amontillado, Bordeaux, Cava, Martini, Chardonnay, Marsala, Rioja, surprisingly, all varieties of wine, no whiskey or beer. It seemed like someone here was an oenophile.
Mrs. Clive returned with the same warm smile on her face. “This way please!” she said escorting Rachel to Mr. Clive.
“You have exquisite tastes.” Rachel complimented her. Being a reporter and the best interviewer in ‘The Reader’, noticing minute details in an instant was second nature to Rachel. That is why she had been sent here. People often remarked that when she put on her Spectacles, meant she was ready to dissect and operate the subject and that the victim would soon be oozing out its secrets.
“Oh I don’t know much of it, its Richard who handles it. He has an eye for detail and beauty.” She answered gracefully.
Looking at Mrs. Clive, Rachel answered without hesitation coyly, “Of Course, it shows, he sure has seen the gardens and picked only the best.” Mrs. Clive blushed and smiled as they moved on.
Richard Clive had been a late bloomer, but what an explosion he had made with his first creation, as if it was his only shot to survival, which eventually made him a sensation. He’d been an auditor for most part of his previous life, working in a modest auditing company. Dealing with technicalities had been his daily routine, accounts, people, little scams and basic arithmetic; this was what he dealt with from 9 in the morning through 5 evening. Probably this was where his want for detail had stemmed from. He travelled to different places auditing, until one day when he decided to call it quits. His daughter was well settled and he had saved enough for himself and his wife to start a bookstore nearby and live a modest life. He loved literature, and his job had made him neglect his hobby of reading. But when he quitted, he found an opportunity to start anew. In the bookstore, he started writing casually, but on his wife’s urging, he completed the story and published it. Today, the same bookstore has emerged as the biggest in town, and people often come hoping to get a free autograph on the front of the book they buy.
As they climbed the staircase, Rachel notices that the frame too looks wooden, but is much too colder to be wooden, iron probably. She looks up to the ceiling and notices the meandering leaves made of plaster of Paris in dull gray on the edges and the huge chandelier hanging majestically the center of the ceiling. Rachel was getting a little impatient with the speed they were advancing.
“Richard does all his writing in the attic. He says he gets a better perspective from up there. His mood can be unpredictable sometimes. Some things of his stories reflect in him.” Mrs. Clive said, sensing her impatience.
“Oh!” replied Rachel, as if she knew what Mrs. Clive was talking about.
On the attic staircase, Mrs. Clive took her leave. Rachel climbed the staircase and turned the knob to the door. It was cold.
She was taken aback by what she saw…
(To be continued…)
P.S. This ain’t any horror story. It is just another simple story which is too long to be accommodated into a single post. Do bear with me, please!
P.P.S It is the first time that I am giving names to characters. So if you can relate the characters to some movie or serial or a person, go on, maybe I was having a déjà vu.