Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Senach

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2013

     Non servitum

     Senach Henri Roussecut celebrated his six birthdays since his twenty-first in what was, to him, the brightest manner possible: hitchhiking from Redferne, Sydney, Aus, to Melbourne, likewise within the domain of charming Aus and to Redferne’s distant south.
     ‘Chilly, chilly, chilly,’ he said to himself. He had spent the night in a gazebo atop Mount Macquarie Pass and he was keeping south in an old East German overcoat and a thick cotton blanket wrapped around him. It was still bitingly cold though.
     ‘Chilly, chilly, chilly.’
     ‘You’ve said that already.’
     It was looking up for more diversion that Senach noticed the crumpled envelope. It was apparently a windowed envelope, with an enclosed crumpled sheet, pale yellow at either the head or the tail, and sticking out invitingly. Senach stopped his trek and looked at the letter a little ahead and across the road.
     Senach approached the missive.
     It was addressed to Senach H. Roussecut.
     ‘Senach!’ exclaimed Senach. Senach is a very rare Gaelic first name and so to meet with one’s own namesake in the middle of nowhere is fairly miraculous. Not to mention that he had the same initial as Mr Roussecut as well as the same surname. Senach proceeded to read the note.
     It was a form letter from the Commonwealth Bank of Aus asking Mr Roussecut if he wanted to rollover or withdraw his two hundred and ninety thousand dollar term deposit. Assuming no correspondence from Mr Roussecut the term deposit monies would be rolled over. The Commonwealth Bank of Aus thanked him for his investment and remain open to further business.
     ‘Sounds like someone I should get to know,’ said Senach. He looked at Senach H. Roussecut’s address:  La Belle, Mauriton.
     Finding Mauriton on the GPS of his phone he headed off to meet what had to be a new relation.

*

     Monsieur Roussecut was just as run down as ‘La Belle’, if indeed it was Monsieur Roussecut who answered the door.
     ‘What!’ roared the man who answered Senach’s loud knock. ‘No hawkers!’  Senach felt his vehemence as a fine mist. Unobtrusively wiping his visage Senach asked,
     ‘Are you Mister Senach H. Roussecut?’
     ‘What!’
     ‘Are you Mister Senach H. Roussecut?’
     ‘No hawkers I said!’
     ‘I’m not a hawker, my name is Senach Roussecut too, we must be related.’ Monsieur Roussecut adjusted his rags. They looked to be once white, or of a pale pastel, but were now begrimed and distinctly malodourous.
     ‘Senach!’ exploded M. Roussecut. ‘Rare old Gaelic name that; are you sure you’re not a hawker?  How do you know my name?’
     ‘I found this letter and since we have the same first and last names decided to visit you.’ Senach handed over the letter. Senach pointed out that it had already been opened. M. Roussecut briefly perused it, crumpled it and the envelope together, and threw it away again.
     ‘Do you mind if I step inside for a while?  After all we must be related with a rare first name like ours, not to mention having identical surnames, and it’s always good to know family.’ M. Roussecut begrudgingly grunted, allowing Senach inside the hovel.
     And it was indeed a hovel. The place was cold, lightless except for a fire in the hearth of the living room, and the walls were obviously darkly layered. There was also the unmistakable odour of vegetables passed their prime. Senach could see the barren kitchen down the hall and he walked passed the only bedroom with a lone single mattress and a thin disgusting quilt. The room with the shut door was probably the parlour and was as likely to be infected as the rest of this house appeared to be. M. Roussecut led Senach to the fire.
     ‘So you’re a Senach, eh?’ asked Roussecut when they were seated, companionably enough.
     ‘Yes. Senach Henri Roussecut.’
     ‘Is your mother’s maiden name Roussecut?’
     ‘Yes, Marionne Roussecut.’
     ‘She’s in her mid-forties by now?’
     ‘Forty-six, just after New Year’s eighteen months ago, 2011.’ M. Roussecut looked from Senach and gazed into the glowing fire for some moments. ‘Marionne is my elder sister. She never could stand my daring thoughts.’
     ‘Mama has never mentioned a brother.’
     ‘I became dead to your family when I got hooked on harry.’
     ‘Harry?’
     ‘Heroin. That’s what happened to all of the furniture; I sold it off a bit at a time for shots. And it was a real bastard transporting it all in to Mauriton to the pawn shop.’
     ‘Are you still addicted to harry, to heroin?’
     ‘Not at all, now I save my pension, off the horse for over twenty years. I own this house, inherited it from a rich underworld junky who had a grain too much one day, and I keep my expenses to fifty bucks a fortnight. I grow my own fruit and veggies, only needing meat and the incidentals.’
     ‘How older is my mother than you?’
     ‘Five years. We’ve always had opposite tastes. She probably named you after me because she could never help but look out for me. She must have never really given up the hope of me getting off the junk. She probably meant to somehow influence me by bequeathing my name on her innocent newborn, somehow channel its newfound possibilities for me. Does Marionne still avoid alcohol?’
     ‘Religiously.’
     ‘Well, we’ll have a sup to renew the family ties,’ said M. Roussecut while chuckling to himself and groping under the only armchair in the living room. Senach was precariously perched on a three-legged chair. ‘Just hang on,’ said M. Roussecut, ‘I think there’s still some Merlot around here somewhere.’ M. Roussecut not finding the promised bottle under his armchair went into the adjoining kitchen. ‘Finally!’ he said after locating a corked half full bottle of red wine. ‘Here’s to Marionne!’  He had brought the bottle back into the living room, but with no glasses. ‘We’ll take swigs at the bottle,’ he informed Senach.
     Roussecut explained his most shameful memory of the junk was missing his sister’s wedding. Marionne was married on her twenty-first, to a respectable gentleman, while M. Roussecut was hunting for junk. He didn’t turn up to the wedding, which had started a half hour after he shot himself a nice shot of harry. He had been clean now though for twenty-five years, completely clean with the help of the methadone (a medical substitute for heroin) program, and revealed that he had gradually become obsessed with relapsing, saving all of his money in case of ‘an event.’ Thus the rags and littered home. M. Roussecut did not spend his pension but saved most of it and the term deposit was the result of over twenty years of saving and investing. His pension he had received under absolutely false pretences, having for six months faked being schizophrenic (after researching into schizophrenic symptomology) and being granted a federal disability support pension in consequence.
     After this history M. Roussecut followed up with this question of Senach,
     ‘You wouldn’t have a place to let in the big smoke, would you?  I presume you’re from the big smoke?  That big, fancy backpack says you’re heading either to Sydney or from it.’
     ‘From it. To Melbourne.’
     ‘Would you have a room to spare at your place when you get back to Sydney?  Like I said I get a government pension so money is little worry for rent, and I really hate having to clean this place.’ The place was putrid; M. Roussecut probably meant that it was an impossible house to clean.
     ‘Ok,’ responded Senach to his uncle’s enquiry. It was only polite; Roussecut’s place was a carcass. ‘I have a two bedroom flat but we’ll have to go halves on everything: rent, electricity, food, everything.’
     M. Roussecut looked around his squalid abode, imagining the cleaner bliss he had recently begun to dream about.
     ‘Let’s head off now,’ said Roussecut.
     Well, why not, thought Senach. M. Roussecut simply stood up and was ready to leave. The fire was low so he could afford to leave it safely.
     ‘Ready,’ he said. Senach picked up his backpack again. ‘Ready,’ he said. They headed out of the door of the decrepit house and off to Redferne via Melbourne.

*

     Senach was duly lauded for returning this sheep to the family abode, bearing the lamb come through adversity. M. Roussecut’s mother, meeting him the day after his reunion with his sister, prayed a Hail Mary over him at this returned good fortune. Hallelujah!
     Roussecut now lives in Chippendale, having sold his house for a one bedroom flat, and just recently become a complete teetotaller. But he doesn’t live at home; more often than not he’s at Marionne’s or Senach’s soaking up all of the healthy family years he has missed. He still gets the occasional cravings for junk which he repels with the clear realisation that his hovel would easily welcome him back. Life will just as easily let you slip as let you bloom, Senach.
     ‘Cheers, Marionne!’

     ‘Cheers, Senach!’


***

     If you've been enjoying Denis' stories on this blog you may also like his debut novel, This Mirror in Me, available on Kindle at http://amzn.to/16p4XDn for $3.87. It tells the story of a mathematics professor's highly unusual Saturdays ritual. It has been given a five star rating, received shortly after its release. If you don't have a Kindle you can download the app for free on your smartphone or tablet.

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