49. Behind That Locked Door

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And if ever my love goes
If I'm rich or I'm poor
Please let out my heart, please, please
From behind that locked door


'It's cold out today,' Bobby says, loitering in the doorway of the theatre dressing room, neither entering nor leaving the room.

I look up from where I'm writing my diary, resting on the dressing table and smile at him in the reflection of the mirror. 'It is February.'

'Mmm,' Bobby responds, not listening to me, distracted. 'I... uh...' He looks down the corridor, moving his head back and forth as if he's looking for something. 'I have to stand you up for dinner tonight.'

'Oh?'

Bobby and I usually have dinner at the restaurant on the top floor of Esmeralda's Barn before he takes me home. We're here from 4 o'clock in the afternoon and I can never bring myself to eat anything before a performance. There isn't anything worse than trying to sing with a heavy stomach. Ricky joins us sometimes, but rarely. He usually goes out to eat elsewhere.

Bobby turns back to me. 'Yeah, sorry, darlin'. I have to do something. Joey will take you back tonight, or else he could...' He falters and checks down the corridor again, looking both ways this time.

'What is it?' I ask.

'Nothin', darlin',' he replies, quickly, loudly and checks the corridor again quickly before finally stepping into the room and closing the door. 'Your old man,' he adds in a low voice.

'Ricky?'

Bobby smiles tightly. 'No, not him. The other one.'

I turn around in my chair to face him.

'He wants you to meet him. At the flat. Tonight.'

'George does?'

'Yes. Why he can't tell you that himself, I don't know.'

He can't because I haven't seen him. I haven't heard a whisper from George for over a month. I saw him occasionally through December and over Christmas, but the last time we were together at the flat was the first week of January. I've still gone over to Elysian House, but George hasn't come. I haven't told Bobby. I'm too embarrassed, and hurt. I made out that George and I were this great love affair, because I thought we were. It's why Bobby let us borrow his flat. But it's just fizzled out. Faded away. There was no big fight or passionate argument to end our relationship. George has just forgotten about me, like some girl he met one night and can't recall the name of in the cold light of morning.

'I'm not making a habit of this either, I'm not your bloody go between, you know.' Bobby smiles to show he's joking, although I think he means what he says. I return his smile faintly. I don't think he'll be passing me many more messages from George anyway.

'I can't go there tonight. I'm singing...' I say, vaguely.

'Yes, he knows that. He said he'd wait for you.'

'What does he want?'

'I don't know, do I?' Bobby replies, looking strangely at me. 'You'll have to go and see him if you want to find out.'

To tidy up, perhaps. To divide the things at the flat between us. To give his key back. Tell me he's going back to his wife now. So long, farewell... I can't allow myself to hope it would be any more than that.

'I won't finish until past midnight. I wouldn't be able to get out there until one at the earliest. Why has he decided he has to see me now?'

Bobby shakes his head. 'Don't shoot the messenger, girl. I'm just tellin' you want he said. Don't go if you don't want to.'

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