Chapter Two of “Lie”: “Put the Kettle On”
As our riders exit the bridge, the typical bursts of conversation and silence keep them company during the hour-long ride. You can imagine which Fantine prefers. Not many cars are on Archibald Way, something Veronique is grateful for. She hates smoking in her car and traffic brings her hatred to light, and puff. To the left, the green hills of Sebeas undulate at a steady pace. Weste Lake dominates their right-side peripheral, and a tiny refinery exists along its horizon.
Quinevere breaks up the binary repetition by telling Veronique to drive onto the cobblestone path that’s approaching. The driver says that she doesn’t remember one on this road as a surprise creeps up to her left at a steady 50kph. “My father had it paved a month ago,” a delicate voice says. Idette giggles to herself, her titters resemble Greta Garbo’s, as Veronique wonders aloud how the fuck candy pays out so much. Fantine stares at the swaying grass, noticing its change from Autumnal orange to the red of Red Baron as they go deeper into Lily Valley.
Idette takes a few shaky photos along the way and Quinevere wonders why, she’s been here plenty of times. She says it’s for her pen pal. “The one from America?” She confirms and says that, a few months ago, they thought it fun if one bought a disposable camera. One would take a few snapshots of random things and mail the camera, with a new letter, to the other. This would go back and forth until it was full, and the following letter would have their copy of whatever the camera contained. She steals a freeze-frame of Quinevere eating a pretzel.
Driving on the cobblestone that follows Melody River, Fantine sees two hills in the distance and more crimson flora. As they get closer, more becomes clear. Melissa would know that the flora are flowering cherries and sycamores, and that the u-shaped forest of Alafamly is filled with them. And if she asked Quinevere, she’d know that the two-story Tudor revival cottage is indeed Dragonspire. Surrounded by lily-of-the-valleys and sweet autumn clematis flowers, near the branching drainage basin of the river.
Beige, stucco walls with red half-timbering, a jettied second floor, and a thatched roof with solar panels are what make its intriguing exterior. The goils get out of the car and are greeted by the sound of swishing grass in the midday air. Quinevere has an unexpected reaction: she vomits. A quick bark and a loud splat. “Because of the bumps.” Amazingly, none got in her hair. Veronique offers her a wad of cigarette paper to wipe her mouth and she embarrassingly takes it. The elder Karoly tells her not to worry and points out that she managed not to tag her pretty coat. She then stops everyone and tells them to give her their phones. That this is a getaway and as such, can’t be bothered by the outside world. They awkwardly reply and she stuffs them in her glove compartment. Then Quinevere mentions that her father forgot to install phones.
“Even better,” Veronique purrs.
Everyone relieves their bags from atop the car. Avoiding Quinevere’s fresh mess on the cobblestone, they walk to the odd entrance of Dragonspire. The steps go down instead of up and cascade about two feet. The sole Ainsworth checks the pockets of her buttoned coat, finds the keys in the rear one, and begins her long introduction of Dragonspire to the Karolys.
The first thing noticeable once inside is that there’re two feet of mahogany steps to climb, the same mahogany that makes up all the flooring in the cottage. Also, it’s very dark despite the time of day for the only window is upstairs. To either side of the steps are short walls that become part of the floor as you go up. On either side of the bi-level entryway, once at the top of the steps, are small closets. The right side, however, exclusively has the light switch. In the form of an awkward pedal on the floor. Quinevere makes it to the top first and the rest follow her lead, in a blind-lead-the-blind sort of way. The Karolys put their luggage near the left closet as Idette stands on the top step with arms outstretched. Quinevere shakes her head and smiles as she steps on the pedal.
Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, shouts “FLASH!!” as the capodimonte chandelier mounted on the floor ignites. Veronique jumps, Idette sighs, Fantine smirks, and Quinevere explains: “My father is a king of Queen.” She then twists the pedal with her foot until the lights dim to a comfortable level. The elder Karoly comments on the lack of Queen things, seeing only a stereo by the staircase and a bookcase filled with CDs that have nothing to do with the band. The albums are varied, but there’s an “Idette” section that can only be described as a medley of electronica. Fantine suddenly wonders if Mr. Ainsworth gave his daughter that name because it sounds like “queen”. Quinevere thumbs toward the doorway to the left sealed off with a velvet rope. “Mum could do with out them.”
The Karolys peek into the dark room. Idette reaches twixt them and flicks the wall switch. Mr. Mercury chimes in again with the operatic part of “Bohemian Rhapsody” as the lights flare. The three are blinded by all the memorabilia, it’s all too much to take in, and Idette makes all the fabulous disappear.
Still by the closet, the sole Ainsworth explains that the room used to be the library but since her mother wouldn’t let all of Dragonspire be a shrine to Queen, she let her father have one room. Of course, he chose the largest one. Quinevere points to the room directly across from them and says it’s the theatre. She then goes up the staircase near the three and they follow.
The main room downstairs seems to have been inverted in this main room upstairs, minus the lack of an outside door and the light source being where it should. Everything looks basically the same: big, open space, a door to the immediate left and right, and stucco everywhere. Idette runs to the right door, pulling the light chain above the stairs that ignites the square source above, and claims it for herself. Quinevere continues her tour by going left.
They walk into a small bedroom, stepping on a light switch, that’s shades of Victorian and modern times. The sole Ainsworth then leads them through a door to the left, into a bedroom that looks exactly like the one behind them. She stands in the membrane as the Karolys look at the canopied beds. Idette walks in as Veronique walks into the new room and notices yet another door to the left. “The bathroom.” Fantine asks if it’s the only one and Idette confirms. Veronique tosses her sweater on the bed and claims the current room.
Quinevere approaches the bathroom door and feels the need to explain the neo-history of Dragonspire.
How it was a glorious mess when Harold found it, which is why he bought it in the first place. That and the lilies (one of Queen’s songs is titled “Lily of the Valley”). How he “designed” the interiors with boxes he had lying around. How he wanted to stay green, which is why Dragonspire is solar-powered and why all the soap, even for dishes, is natural. How the plumbing cost a fortune to do properly, but he had more than one fortune to spare. How, as she walks into the rather large bathroom, staying green meant no toilet paper, meant a bidet.
Idette interjects, “How there’s a beautiful hot tub but no laundry room so we can either wash our clothes in here or with the trout…”
How the bathroom is the only room with a window, a circular thing with a webbed design. How there’s no basement, and so on.
Back to the first floor they go and through thick curtains into the cavernous theatre. Mrs. Ainsworth’s dominion. Fantine becomes noticeably excited at the sight of walls filled from floor to ceiling with Amaray cases and digipacks. Veronique raps her niece’s shoulders and asks if there’s anything she likes. “…all of it.” Quinevere smiles, but she can’t figure out if it’s because of Fantine or what her mother would say about her. There aren’t any seats, not in the traditional sense. The room dips in the center and in the crater, a half-circle sort of couch is planted.
There’s a Blu-ray player in the center of the room, with wires disappearing into the floor. There’s no TV, no screen: in their place, an anal-retentive rectangle is painted on a wall the perfect shade of white to watch things on. Janice doesn’t care about the HD revolution, but her daughter mentions that the ceiling-mounted projector runs at 1080i. Whatever that means. “Blu-rays can hold more film and ‘I’m too ornery for getting up to change discs during a four-hour thing, have pity.’” Idette giggles at Quinevere’s perfect impression and they all move through the other curtained doorway to the kitchen, the final room of the tour.
If the theatre is a cave, then the kitchen must be a tunnel. A white-tiled tunnel. With a long, granite counter in its middle that also serves as the dinner table. Diner stools surround it. The quite modern refrigerator sits near this entrance “because I don’t wish to traipse around through Sturm und Drang for a bit of rye before me flickers start, have pity.” There’s a velvet-roped entrance on the far-left wall leading to that royalty shrine. The stainless steel, electric stove sits in the corner next to the fridge. The porcelain sink is camped next to the stove. The walls have pots and pans and silverware and things hanging and dangling. All the cabinets hang doorlessly from the ceiling, and something becomes immediately apparent. Dragonspire being, essentially, in the middle of nowhere means that food isn’t easy to get to. Knowing that his little girl would be going there with “that Rudelle brat”, Harold took it upon himself to stock up on food.
His heart was in the right place… but his brain lied somewhere in the nursery. I suppose it’s hard for some fathers to let go. Even when their daughter’s 31. Naturally, and quietly, Fantine doesn’t see a problem with acres of junk food and a fridge full of frozen pizzas. However, Veronique and Idette recoil in terror at the negative calories. It’s swiftly decided that, after tea, Veronique and Quinevere go back to Edithshire for proper food. Idette asks Fantine to help her hunt for cups as her aunt turns on the tap and Ms. Ainsworth gets a kettle.