His wife is fluttering around telling him he has to wear a tie — because of the important meeting.
A thumb inserted between shirt and neck, trying to ease.
Should be like geisha fingers, a silken delight, unless his wife is in earshot,
—You need to look smart.
Or ‘At your smartest’: that phrase rang a bell for him.
He hates wearing the necktie, symbolises the empty bourgeois consumption. He might as well have a yacht at the yacht-basin, and foreign holidays.
That today is also a day when he is going to shake away the tensions of career shit by a dalliance with his lover.
Also, quite often, when she’s finished checking his morning appearance, his wife is prone to say: —There’s you.
Flick and pat twice a lapel. There’s you.
Elliptical for: “There’s you looking good in your tie, all done up smart.”
And this also brings back a lot.
—You know… I’m a bit sad because of MH dying, you know. All our youths gone and all that, his Wife says, a little embarrassedly, nervous at revealing herself.
—It is a pity.
—Perhaps I’ll have a girlie afternoon, get out the old songs.
—That’s ok by me.
̶—Maybe Linda can come round this afternoon, we’ve been meaning to do something.
The pathologist’s wife being a heterosexual woman, not too old to or far enough away to have forgotten her adolescence, in which said MH had featured, only towards the end, but quite prominently, when she was old enough to understand better the nature of those feelings.
When MH is dead, you need to look smart.
Far too much to extrapolate that she might be ditching him shortly, all on account of this trauma, having been shaken up and energised by it.
—Do you know why, she asks.
And he has to ask what he is supposed to know. He’s actually quite late now, what with everything, and she’s still stopping him getting out the door, off to an important day at work.
—Why can’t they cure it? You often see cancer of the pancreas, in quite young people.
Now that they seem to be able to cure most things, children with leukaemia, they all used to die when we were young, now they seem to survive…
And the pathologist, who obviously began his working career as a physician, has to give some kind of answer.
—I don’t know he says,
Feel guilty for not knowing. Pancreatic cancer, you’re supposed to know, aren’t you.
—They do well with all sorts of cancers, but there are still some they can’t do, cancer of the gall bladder, the bile ducts, are the same at the moment, I think.
And now he finds out she has sat around all day weeping uselessly into a cushion over someone she’s never met. He’s quite jealous of the dead MH, and also her friend, this Linda, is definitely a bad influence on her. But it is clever of him not to have it out with her directly.
Wear the tie without dwelling on it.
Stop fidgeting. You are not a schoolboy now.