Taylor and Katrina in Retirement
By John D Robinson
Bruckner had been a long time favourite; the “First Symphony, Second Movement” eased out of the small portable radio and drifted through the garage. Taylor Andrews was cleaning the interior of his car as he listened to Bruckner. Taylor no longer drove the car and hadn’t done so for several years due to illness; but all the same, he cleaned and maintained the vehicle as he had always done. Taylor is sixty-seven years old and has a very progressive and inoperable cancer moving through his body; he was recently given a year to eighteen months of life to live. Taylor, in his mind was a strong and stubborn individual and as much as he could manage, he lived his time as he was accustomed.
Mrs Katrina Andrews was also sixty-seven years old and had been Taylor’s wife for thirty-nine years. She and Taylor had, for what seemed like endless years, worked hard and both had retired almost two years ago. Katrina missed the company and friendship of her work colleagues and the purpose that the job had provided. She now found the days to be long and empty; she could not seem to summon the energy to make changes and the everyday worry of Taylor depleted her brightness even further. Katrina’s head was constantly filled with a relentless white-noise; Tinnitus. There were days when she wasn’t aware of it but these days were all too rare. She spent long periods of time sitting in the lounge looking at a silent television; knitting was a hobby that she had recently begun and as she idly stared at the flickering screen she knitted and thought of Dominic, her dead son.
Bruckner’s First Symphony had been replaced with Mozart’s “Symphony No. 40, First Movement”. Taylor had finished cleaning the interior of the car and was sat behind the steering wheel; he closed his eyes and leaned comfortably back into the padded seat. He began to think of Katrina; she had been a little distant of recent months, she had become increasingly forgetful and on numerous occasions Taylor had found Katrina wandering around the house in the early hours of the morning; later she would remember nothing of it. Katrina was reluctant and frightened of visiting a doctor; she was fine, no need to bother anyone; strong and stubborn like her husband.
Taylor opened his eyes, leaned forward and pushed in the release catch of the glove compartment and reached inside for a small leather wallet containing his driving licence. As Taylor opened the wallet, a small photograph of Dominic fell into his lap; he looked down at the photograph, the picture was thirty years old, the boy would have been just five years old and it was one of the last photographs of Dominic ever taken.
Katrina Andrews was staring at the silent images moving before her on the silent television screen; she had earlier discarded the knitting upon the floor in a surge of confused frustration. She rose from the sofa and walked over to the large bay-fronted window and looked out into street; nothing, it was deserted, disappointing. Katrina turned around and made her way to the back of the house and looked out into the large back garden; it was wildly overgrown and unkempt, an ugly eye-sore for some but Katrina found it to be endlessly fascinating and exciting; it was busy with birds and insects and the frequent visits of foxes, that she regularly with fed scraps of food; she stood steadying herself up against the kitchen sink and gazed, transfixed, through the window.
Although Bruckner had been a firm long standing favourite, Mozart, was without a hint of doubt, considered Taylor, the master. Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart; genius; dead at the age of thirty five. Taylor climbed out of the car, closed the door and stood motionless for a few moments. He moved around the car and switched off the radio. The instant quietness drew the attention of Taylor; he sat down upon a tool box and listened for a few minutes to the occasional passing car and a distant siren wailing and a gentle breeze moving around. He reached into his top shirt pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes; as far as everyone else was concerned, including Katrina, he had quit smoking months ago; but every now and then, he could not resist the urge to indulge. His hands were trembling as he lit the cigarette, soon after inhaling he felt a rush to his head, he leaned forward and rested his palms against the side of the car, and a thick cloud of smoke floated in the garage and snaked its way and disappeared beneath the garage doors.
The soft cries of Katrina Andrews were heard by no one. From the kitchen window as she had looked into the thick mish-mash of brambles and weeds and wild flowers and tall grass, she thought she could see something, a small animal perhaps, trapped and struggling deep in the undergrowth; but she couldn’t be sure. Again she called out for Taylor, but again there came no response.
Katrina unlocked the back door and with an unsteady gait moved towards the garden; she had taken just half a dozen steps when she lost her footing and fell into the dense and sharp undergrowth, thorns ripped into her fragile skin and for several minutes she screamed and cried out in pain, the more she struggled to free herself the more entwined and ensnared she became within the wooden barbed wire. After several minutes she stopped calling out and lay still and silent.
Taylor had regained his composure and had switched the radio back on; the moving, haunting sounds of Arvo Part’s ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ crept into the smoky garage. He tossed the cigarette to the floor and crushed it beneath his feet, thinking and promising himself, that that had been the last cigarette he’d smoke. Suddenly he became aware of the loud panic knocking upon the garage door, puzzled and startled, he moved quickly and opened the door; he found an anxious and frightened looking neighbour, who explained that just a few moments ago when she was opening a back room window, she had seen that Katrina had had some kind of accident and it looked serious, she needed help urgently.
Taylor stood speechless for a few brief moments; he then reached into his top pocket and pulled out the pack of cigarettes, he lit one whilst he telephoned for the emergency services and then he made his way quickly to the back garden.