Emile tidied the mess of papers on his desk and tried to concentrate. He reminded himself that he had an institute to run and started to focus on that. Despite his manner and demeanour he had a tidy mind when needed. Although recently it had deserted him a little.
As he looked at the pile of investigations and reports his hand went reflexively to the brandy decanter. Almost absently he poured himself a glass and he sat back reading the first report. A junior investigator was waxing enthusiastically about a haunting he was investigating. He had added a daguerreotype and mused that a small white blob in the corner may yet be proof of supernatural creatures. Emile snorted out loud and lit a cigarette.
This whole business with the Marie and Sir John had driven him crazy he was sure of that. And yet, something else was on his mind too, a strange urge he could neither define nor resist. He wanted to do something new, different. He wanted to create something, to paint, to sing, to write poetry.
“Mon Dieu!” he said out loud. “What worse fate can befall a man than to become a poet?”
There was a knock on the door and Emile dragged himself up with the enthusiasm of a schoolboy. It was probably the landlord again, hoping for rent.
“I’ll have it Tuesday,” said Emile as he opened the door. Sabine stood behind it. She smirked.
“Have what exactly?” she said.
“The rent,” said Emile. “I thought you were the landlord.”
“Do I look like the landlord?” said Sabine, pouting a little.
“Not even remotely,” said Emile. “Come in. Do you want some Cognac?”
“No, no it’s far too early,” said Sabine. “I’ll have whisky.”
Emile poured a generous glass for her and sat opposite. Sabine pouted again and Emile looked away.
“Still angry with me?” she said.
“Yes, no, I don’t know,” said Emile. “Not you, or not just you.”
“You feel you’ve been hoodwinked?” said Sabine.
“No, I understand, more or less,” said Emile. “I just feel….”
“That you’re not special?” said Sabine.
“Have you been talking to Sir John,” said Emile.
“No, but I encouraged him to talk to you, as a friend, to clear the air,” said Sabine.
“Ah!” said Emile. “That explains it, poor man, he’s not very good at expressing his emotions, it was quite the trauma for him.”
“How about you,” said Sabine, “can you express your emotions?”
The sun set a little deeper and the room went quiet. Emile looked at his shoes.
“You know,” said Sabine. “You are wrong. You are special.”
Emile glanced up at her.
“Come back to the church. Come back to me,” she said.
“All right, you win, I’ll come back.” Emile said. “But look, I need to finish up here. Let me sort things out, set things up to take some time off. I’ll be there in a day or two.”
Sabine smiled and stood slowly up.
“Don’t take long, it’s too quiet without you,” she said and slinked out the door.
Emile took a long drag on his cigarette and exhaled loudly. He took a big swig of his brandy then looked at the next report, a smile forming on his face.