‘Shaz’s made some tea,’ Stell said. ‘She used to work at the hospital.’
‘I’ve put two sugars in and a drop of brandy,’ Shaz said. ‘Sip it.’
She handed him a mug with a graphic of a young, auburn-haired nun on the side. They watched him sip the tea. Ruben cupped the mug in his hands and let it work its magic. As he sipped, the same nun on the inside of the mug was revealed without her habit. Bare shoulders at first, then pumped-up breasts with prominent nipples, a wasp-like waistline. A gush of tears came on a wave of emotion and his body shook for a few seconds. He wiped his face.
‘You’re looking better, isn’t he Shaz?’
‘I don’t know,’ Shaz said. ‘Shall I ring the doctor?’
‘No.’ Ruben didn’t want to see a doctor here, in this strange house with these two women looking on. ‘I’m OK now. Thanks. There’s just this street, then I’m finished.’
He got to his feet and knocked a line of empty coke cans off the mantelpiece.
‘Don’t worry about them,’ Shaz said. ‘I can put them back later.’
Nothing seemed to have a reason, Ruben realized. Reason and meaning were empty concepts. When you thought for a minute about reason or meaning they didn’t have substance. Music and war and empty coke cans and milk and blue dumper trucks with three wheels. There was no Kitty and life was stretching away into infinity without her and bottles bounced around in the back of his truck without the common decency to break and shatter.