Sitting up on the side of the bed, I put my shoes back on, and walked over to the bureau. The clock gently chimed the hour. It was four and I needed to wash my face before going out. Picking up my comb from the bureau top, I left the room and headed down the hallway in search of a bathroom. Apparently, I was to share it with the other tenants in the house; so far I had not met any of them. I wondered if I were the only one here. At the end of the hall, the door stood open and I could see a wash basin through the doorway. Ah! Success!
I walked in and shutting the door behind me, I inspected the rather spacious room. The tub was claw-footed, and deep, offering a luxurious bath, and I was sorely tempted, but restrained myself. That would come later. Right now, I needed to just use the facilities and wash my face, comb my unruly red hair, and get ready to go meet Glenny in front of that small restaurant.
The mirror over the basin covered a medicine cabinet, and being the curious person that I am, I opened the door to the cabinet. Inside it lay a Gillette safety razor, accompanied by a can of lather, and a bottle of Aqua Velva aftershave. That told me that at least one other man was a tenant here. 'He must be at work right now,' I deduced.
There was also a small jar of Mum deodorant. Ah, ha! A lady dwelling in the house as well. Maybe it was a couple... Well, I was certainly interested in finding out who else lived here. I might inquire of the lady who rented my room to me. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn't even know her name. I had to assume it wasn't Grogan.
After I completed my ablutions in the bathroom, I went back to my room, collecting my overcoat and hat, I locked the door and went downstairs in search of the landlady. I finally located her in the kitchen, where she was preparing food for her and her family's supper. Three children were seated around the kitchen table with open books, and applying pencils to papers, apparently busy on homework. When I entered, they all looked up, then went back to their work. Apparently, they were used to strangers entering their kitchen; it was an everyday part of their lives.
"Howdy, ma'am, I thought I ask a few questions of you, if you don't mind. First, I don't think I caught your name, when I came here today."
She nervously wiped her hands on her apron, and apologetically replied, "I'm Henrietta Walsh, and these are my other three children: Henry, who's twelve; Clara, who's nine; and Paul, who's seven. Say hello to Mr. O'Halloran, children."
"Hello. Why is your hair so red?" asked the 7-year old.
"Paulie, you're not supposed to ask questions like that," said Clara.
Henry spoke up and said, "Were you in the war?" Apparently he noticed the scar on my neck. He thought I had gotten it in the war.
"Yes, I just got out a few months ago, and I used to live next door, in that house with the picket fence around it. In fact, I was close to your age when we moved away. I'm very pleased to meet you all. I hope we'll be friends." I shook each of their hands, and nodding to Mrs. Walsh, I took my leave of them. "I'll see you all later. Goodby for now."
Well, they were certainly an interesting group of people, and I liked them tremendously. As I walked through the hall to the front door, I wondered what little Katy had gotten up to. Why wasn't she in the kitchen with the others? I peeked into the living room and there she was, over at the big picture window, playing with a doll. Looking up at me, she waved. I waved back and left the house. She watched me through the window, and I waved at her once again.
I realized as I left that I had forgotten to ask about other tenants in the house. Oh, well, I would no doubt meet them later on. I didn't plan to be out very late that night and probably would meet them at breakfast in the morning. I reflected then that Mrs. Walsh was most certainly one busy woman. Perhaps I could be of help around the place while I was there. It looked like there were some loose boards on the front porch that could be nailed down.
Going down the walkway, I began whistling, and realized how very content and happy I felt. Then I heard shouting coming from the house I was passing. It was the fellow who now lived in our old house. What should I do?
(To be continued)