When Lennox Johnson opened the door, it was quite obvious that something especially extraordinary had happened. Even without directly facing the man, Walt could gather as much - being Others living in an island and regularly receiving summons to the strangest parts of the Empire, they were by now used to the strangest of events. And thus, judging from Johnson's sweaty palms and blanched face, today's news must have been a personal event, for Walt knew that little could bother his colleague more than worries about his family. As soon as Johnson had sank into the armchair, Walt decided to impose his first conclusion:
"Was it Catherine?"
Lennox Johnson's eyes popped open, for apparently he had shut them only moments ago. For a few moments he looked completely flustered, but he soon managed to regain some of his composure - enough, at the very least, to shake his head.
It was the dazed manner in which he reacted that roused Walt's curiosity. While his first induction was proved wrong, he was determined to find the cause of his friend's intense distress. Of course, Walt being Walt, he would not do it by simply asking.
"You met a woman in Birchwood, did you not, Johnson?"
Johnson looked up at him, though his eyes had for the moment lost their characteristic brightness. "Wh- how did you - ?"
"You've been gone since nine in the morning, and as I did not chance on you the entire day, I concluded that you had went to the city. There's chalk on the front of your jacket, which means that you went to play billiards, which in turn means that you went to Birchwood, most likely The Three Hounds."
"But," Johnson managed to stammer, "the woman?"
Walt shrugged. "A guess," he finally admitted. "Though you did have a faint smell of perfume, it could have been anyone. I just took a chance. But you did meet a woman at Birchwood?"
Johnson made a limp nod. Again the colour drained from his cheeks, if it were indeed possible, so paper-like did he look already. After a few minutes, though, he finally decided to reveal the root of his distress.
"I met a girl - a young girl. Her name's... Jeanie, I think? Yes, Jeanie." He was talking, Walt thought, more to himself than to anyone else. "She couldn't have been older than seventeen - still a youth. Still - oh, Lord!"
"Why? What about her age?" Walt leant forward from his chair. Johnson's eyes were alarmingly wide open, and Walt feared, not without reason, that his friend would soon fall back into his armchair and faint.
Johnson pursed his lips for a few seconds, perspiration visibly gathering at the top of his forehead. "She's dressed - exotically, you get it? Colourful bodice, open ankles, all. And she's - she's still a youth." He paused for a moment, as if regaining his breath. "Her hair, her grey eyes - even her nose..."
After Johnson failed to resume where his voice trailed off, Walt let his eyes glance downwards for a few thoughts. Finally, he offered to say it for his colleague. As gently as he could, he asked:
"Is Jeanie your daughter?"
Johnson said nothing, but he nodded.
Glossary of La Reinaisms
Aheheh: onomatopoeia for a chuckle, esp. a mischievous one
Hurm: onomatopoeia for thinking; a standard reply when all else fails
Spam: an all-purpose word
This message was edited by the author on January 22, 2012 at 9:19:05 AM