Felix in the Underworld

Free Felix in the Underworld by John Mortimer

Book: Felix in the Underworld by John Mortimer Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Mortimer
turn up at my class on the Moving Image until I discovered he only wanted to be an accountant on a film unit and I chucked him out. Have you come across him lately?’
    â€˜Quite lately, yes.’
    Gavin had rung him the evening of Miriam’s lunch. She and Ian had left without trouble when he had given them money for their fare and a ‘spot of cash for gas bills and boring things like that’. She had promised to have a word with Ken Savage at PROD and calm him down: ‘I think he fancies me just a little does our Ken.’ When Felix put them in a taxi for the station, Ian had looked at him and said, ‘Thanks for a great meal, Dad.’
    Gavin’s call came while Felix was watching an adaptation of Vanity Fair. The persistent, always slightly hurt voice said, ‘I’m so glad you hit it off with Mirry and Ian. I hear you gave them lunch and helped them out. It’ll be a new interest in life for you, won’t it, Felix? See you at your next event.’ Felix was about to say he didn’t want to see or hear from Gavin again, ever, when the phone clicked and he was left alone with Becky Sharp. Now he stood on the beach with Hotchkiss, staring at the scene of whatever crime he had committed. ‘She says I gave her a child.’
    â€˜Who says that?’
    â€˜This woman, Miriam.’ And Felix winced as his arm was punched again. ‘I’m happy for you, boyo! It’s great news.’
    â€˜Is it?’
    â€˜It’s the future, Felix. You’ll push yourself out into the years to come.’
    â€˜It couldn’t have been done at the party. Not with anyone except Anne, that is. Dammit, my mother was there.’
    â€˜So far as I remember your mother was paddling in the sea with a couple of queens. Later on she was dancing with both of them. How can you be sure what happened?’
    â€˜I suppose I can’t.’
    â€˜We were drunk on youth and love and Carafino red. That’s what we were, boyo. You know, come to think of it, Anne never gave either of us a child.’
    â€˜No.’ Felix had a horrible suspicion that there were tears in the Welshman’s eyes. Then Huw burst out laughing, punched him in the stomach this time, and shouted, ‘I’m happy for you, Felix. Sincerely happy.’ Then he vaulted over the breakwater and ran away fast across the sand as though he were carrying a ball and scoring a try at Cardiff Arms Park.
    It was a sunny day and Felix smelled once again the sickly sweet, disinfected air of hospital corridors. But this time he was in the Evening Star Rest and Retirement Home, seven miles to the west of Coldsands. He was following Miss Iona Wellbeloved, the perpetually anxious head of the establishment, down a corridor in which the sunlight dappled the linoleum and burnished a vase of plastic daffodils. Miss Wellbeloved knocked and opened the door to a small bright room where his mother lay, propping up the mountain of bedclothes and smiling perpetually. ‘I’ll leave you two alone together, although I’m afraid, Felix, you still won’t find her exactly chatty.’
    He sat by the bed and took his mother’s hand but got no answering squeeze.
    â€˜Well,’ he said, as usual hopelessly, ‘how are you, Mum?
    â€˜Treating you reasonably, are they? I believe Out of Season’s doing quite well. I’ve been on a book tour. Did I tell you that?
    â€˜Mum, I’ve been meaning to ask you this. You remember being at a barbecue on the beach? A party given by Huw Hotchkiss? Please listen, Mum. Do your best. It’s important. Do you remember a girl hanging about there called Miriam Bowker? Please can you hear what I’m saying?’
    There was still no reply, but Felix tried anyway. ‘I need to know. Urgently. Was I ever on a lilo with Miriam Bowker?’
    Mrs Morsom smiled and kept her counsel, as she had for six years. On the way out Miss Wellbeloved asked Felix if he had

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