Andrew James

12 septembre 2010



Ophelia Bernicle didn’t always have fat fingers. She used to be simply Ophelia Clark, a blithe young thing filled with beauty and nonsense, and Andrew James was deeply in love with her. Their last names had brought them together in their first years of school, fancy that, theirs could have been first names, how silly was that… 

They grew from carefree children to careless teenagers, and then light headed young adults. Life was easy and in front of them, they owned it, they had yet no regrets nor ghosts crossing their paths as they looked back on their short existence.

She already had a heavy hand on peroxide regarding her hair and a taste for flashy jewelry, but she was beautiful and spirited and she could get away with it. Andrew loved everything about her, and that was that.  

He had it all planned out in his head, and one day he even had the courage to talk to her about it. About owning a pub and spending a life together. Ophelia wasn’t against the former, but the pub was a deal-breaker. Come on love, a pub, really? We’d have no life, we’d be tied every lunch and dinner and night. She tried to persuade him otherwise but Andrew had set out this path for himself and he was as pig headed as she was… 

They tried to reach out to one another for several months to no avail, and then Thomas Bernicle intruded in their lives. From the moment he set his eyes on Ophelia Clark, she wasn’t Andrew’s anymore. Thomas was unreliable and exiting and handsome and the last one leaving the pub after the call for the last drink rang. He would never look at anyone exactly in the eyes and Andrew found that unsettling. He knew he was wrong for Ophelia, but after all these days of yelling and pulling weight and being angry with one another, Andrew had given up. He didn’t put up a fight, he let Ophelia go and pretended he didn’t care anymore.

Within days, twenty year old Ophelia was out of Andrew’s life. She was soon married and pregnant with little Tom. It wouldn’t be until Melissa, her second born, and Andrew’s son Matt went to school together that they would see each other again. Life and Thomas Bernicle had taken away her joy and laughter. She had become heavy and sad, with a bitter mouth and suspicious marks on her arms that she tried to conceal with tired lifeless clothes.

Happiness doesn’t always find you, you have to make your own happiness. Andrew  firmly believed that. So Ophelia was gone. So he was left on the curb. It didn’t mean he didn’t have the right to go on and build a different kind of life for himself. And Rose and himself were very happy. She worked as an accountant in a small firm downtown, and took care of Andrew’s paperwork after he was granted both his business and his liquor license. 

He opened his own pub, like he’d set out to do. They called it the Sherlock Holmes in homage to Rose’s passion with the stories. She was good with the customers and the staff, and once nature granted them their wish, she was a very loving mother to their two children, Matt and Violet. 

Rose was a petite yet strong woman, with a very white creamy skin, dark hair and navy blue eyes. How quickly pneumonia had snatched her seven years ago and left Andrew a widower took everyone by surprise. Matt was twenty-three and Violet twenty. Both helped their father with the aftermath with sadness yet efficiency. Rose had taught them well. Yes, it was sad, but life would go on and time would soothe their pain.

It was ironic how both Andrew and Ophelia had became widowers. Though Thomas Bernicle’s death had happened much earlier in their lives and had left Andrew with a sour guilty taste in his mouth… If he hadn’t been so strict on his car key policy towards drinkers, Thomas wouldn’t have walked home… And yet, who knows, had he taken the wheel, someone else might have ended up dead in the gutter like he did. Thomas Bernicle seldom came into Andrew’s pub, probably because of Andrew’s stern management of drunks and fools. Andrew suspected he’d been thrown out of a couple pubs before trying his luck at the Sherlock Holmes. He had let him in that night, had taken his car keys in exchange for a pint, and then had sent him away for his last walk home before a car hit him and left him for dead, his head and feet in the gutter.

Little Tom Bernicle was an agitated thirteen year old when the tragedy occurred, and Melissa was but eight… She was a quiet reserved girl that one… Not anything like her parents, whereas Tom seemed set on following his father’s foot paths. 

When Melissa was eighteen, she applied for a job as a waitress at the Sherlock Holmes with a timid yet determined voice. She was capable and discreet and Andrew was soon glad he’d hired her. He never told her the confrontation he’d had with her brother Tom, though he suspected she knew. The useless Tom Bernicle had dared walk into his pub one morning and ask for half of Melissa’s wages. « It’s for our mother, Ophelia, I think you know her… Mel’s to give her half her earnings to keep us going, it’s only fair that she pays her share now that she’ old enough to work, right mate…« . 

Andrew had replied very coldly that he would come for tea at Ophelia’s and discuss the matter with her. Tom wasn’t all too happy about it. He’d raised his voice and tried to throw a punch. He was obviously inebriated early in the day, and it didn’t take much to throw him out. 

Later on that very day, Andrew knocked on Ophelia’s door. She was surprised to see him, she said, but why don’t he come in. They drank tea and he didn’t stay long as Rose wouldn’t appreciate the gossip that would inevitably occur. He didn’t need to stay long anyhow to reach an understanding. « It would be nice to see more of you at the Sherlock Holmes, » he said, « you could perhaps come in every Thursday and have a glass of sherry, and if by any chance Melissa has decided to contribute to the expenses in your household, I could give you what’s to be yours then. It would be handled discreetly between friends, would it not? »

And thus Ophelia came into the habit of coming on Thursday nights for a while. The pub was lively though not too crowded and she would often meet old friends and chat with them. The sad lines under her eyes became somewhat lighter weeks after weeks, and she continued to come in after Rose’s death, and after Melissa was long gone to London. 

Andrew was glad. Sometimes, though not all that often, Ophelia would laugh or tilt her head in a way that reminded Andrew that they’d been young fools once. But it was such a long time away… Too long away…


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