Monday, 11 July 2011


Jonathan couldn’t sleep.  Every once in a while he would have bouts of insomnia and no matter how much he tossed and turned and tried to blank worries and concerns out of his mind, sleep failed to overtake him.  He had developed a system though, his alternative version to counting sheep.  So, with his head pressed into the pillow, Jonathan, lying on his back, flat out, legs straight, breathed in very deeply and exhaled, relaxing himself as much as he could.  Then he began reciting his list quietly to himself.
“The Kirkoff Case, The Dark and Bloody Ground, The Countess, Exit Prentiss Carr, Tall Woman in Red Wagon, This Case Is Closed, The Big Rip-off, Find Me If You Can, In Pursuit of Carol Thorne, The Dexter Crisis, Caledonia - It's Worth a Fortune, Profit and Loss, Aura Lee, Farewell, Sleight of Hand, Counter Gambit, Claire, Say Goodbye to Jennifer, Charlie Harris at Large, The Four Pound Brick, Just by Accident, Roundabout.”  Jonathan yawned and could feel himself getting drowsy.  He continued.
“The Aaron Ironwood School of Success, The Farnsworth Stratagem, Gearjammers, . The Deep Blue Sleep, The Great Blue Lake Land and Development Company, The Real Easy Red Dog, Resurrection in Black & White, Chicken Little Is a Little Chicken, 2 Into 5.56 Won't Go, Pastoria Prime Pick, The Reincarnation of Angie, The Girl in the Bay City Boys Club, The Hammer of C Block, The No-Cut Contract, A Portrait of Elizabeth, Joey Blue Eyes, In Hazard, The Italian Bird Fiasco, Where's Houston?, Foul on the First Play, A Bad Deal in the Valley.”  A speeding car outside destroyed completely any meditative state that Jonathan had created.  He stretched out again, relaxed and carried on.
“The Fourth Man, The Oracle Wore a Cashmere Suit, The Family Hour, Feeding Frenzy, Drought at Indianhead River, Coulter City Wildcat, So Help Me God, Rattlers' Class of '63, Return to the 38th Parallel, Piece Work, The Trouble with Warren, There's One in Every Port, Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, But Waterbury Will Bury You, The Trees, the Bees and T.T. Flowers, The Becker Connection, Just Another Polish Wedding, New Life, Old Dragons, To Protect and Serve, Crack Back, Dirty Money, Black Light.”  His drowsiness was beginning to feel pleasant again.  Jonathan could feel himself almost floating into the comfort of sleep in a warm bed. He was nearly there.
“Beamer's Last Case, Trouble in Chapter, The Battle of Canoga Park, Second Chance, The Dog and Pony Show, Requiem for a Funny Box, Quickie Nirvana, Irving the Explainer, The Mayor's Committee From Deer Lick Falls, Hotel of Fear, Forced Retirement, The Queen of Peru, A Deadly Maze, The Attractive Nuisance, The Gang at Don's Drive-In, The Paper Palace, Dwarf in a Helium Hat, South by Southeast, The Competitive Edge, The Prisoner of Rosemont Hall, The House on Willis Avenue.”
In the morning, Jonathan opened his eyes slowly and smiled to himself.  He had managed to sleep soundly in the end and was very pleased with himself that he could remember the episode titles of “The RockFord Files” in order.  He reckoned he had dropped off with “The House on Willis Avenue”, the end of the fourth season.
But the thought of Molly’s death wiped the smile from his face.  He felt sadder than he had done in a long, long time.  The party, just one week earlier, had been an opportunity for the Maple Court residents to get to know each other but all that remained now was a collection of neighbours at war or ignoring each other.  He had arranged Molly’s funeral and despite many telephone calls, internet searches and death notices in some local and national newspapers, he could not locate a single relative or friend from the past to attend and pay their last respects.  For someone like Molly with her long life and career in showbusiness, it was a dismal and ironic way to end her life, no family, no friends and in the middle of a trivial domestic fracas.
Jonathan had gone to the cemetery with Sophie, as much to be there because he wanted to be and because he felt a personal responsibility to Molly.  He was conscious at certain emotional moments that Sophie was squeezing his hand in reassurance.  He wanted his daughter to become independent of him but, at the same time, he wanted her close by because she was the most precious part of his life.
Dot had looked forlorn, still embarrassed by her part in the party fracas.  She had stared at Molly’s coffin and seemed to match the despair etched on her face with the chagrin in her heart at the death of this lovely lady, a person she envied because she had attracted the attention of Jonathan, but a person she admired because her life seem fulfilled.  Unlike Dot’s which seemed devoid of any chance of a lasting meaningful relationship.
Annie and Chico stood side by side, with Annie in full Alexis Carrington “Dynasty” pose, big black hat and all the trimmings.  Chico rested his arm on her shoulder and, to complete strangers, they looked like a Z-list celebrity couple desperate for a front cover of Hello magazine.  They were an emotion-free zone, only attending because they liked to pose at any occasion, no matter how sombre.
Maxine came to the funeral and she brought the dog with her.  She was oblivious to the glares of the other mourners.  At one sensitive moment, the dog cocked its leg and relived itself on another grave.
Matt had his arm round Cass’s shoulder for much of the time because she was sobbing, distraught for some reason.  She wasn’t particularly close to Molly, as far as anybody knew but she looked distressed.
Tom and Jennifer had at least two feet of grass between them and their body language confirmed that something was wrong.
Whatever the troubles and traumas of the assembled group, their common bond was sadness at the death of a lovely lady, one of their neighbours, one of their friends.  It was the end of another chapter for Maple Court and the beginning of another.  Each time a new resident arrived, the chemistry changed, life moved on in a new direction, for better, for worse.
Maple Court seemed to operate like a static bus with residents as passengers getting on and off as the years rolled by.  It kept life interesting but Jonathan was at the stage of his life where he wanted stability, and a little piece and quiet.  He would continue to work on Molly’s story but, perhaps now as a novel rather than a biography.  He wanted to do a good job for her.

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