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Chapter 5 Mad Things

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Marion heard the front door of the big house as it closed. Moments later she left her room and met Norman, who was standing nervously outside her door.

'I made trouble for you. I'm sorry/ Marion said.

'No. It's my mother, that's all. She isn't well today. I'm sorry. I can't take you to the house. I've taken the food into my office. Would you like to come in there?'

Marion followed Norman into a small room behind his office. It was a strange room, full of old clocks and stuffed birds.

Norman watched her quietly as she began to eat. Then said: 'You eat like a bird.'

'Do you know a lot about birds?'

'I don't know much about them. I just like stuffing them.'

'That's a strange thing to do,' said Marion.

'I enjoy it.'

'Is your time so empty?'

'No. I'm very busy. I do everything in the office, I clean the rooms. I look after my mother.'

'Have you got any friends?'

Norman looked surprised at this question. 'A boy's best friend is his mother.'

Marion looked at her bread and cheese. She couldn't think of anything to say. The room was quiet. Just the sound of the clocks.

'It's stopped raining,' Norman said.

Marion smiled politely and continued eating.

'Where are you going?' Norman tried to start the conversation again.

'Somewhere nice,' said Marion.

'What are you pinning- away from?'

This time, Marion was surprised. ' Why do you ask that?'

'Oh, people are always trying to run away from something,' Norman replied. 'But people can never really run away, can they? Sometimes, when my mother talks to me like that, I want to run away. But I know I can't. She's ill.'

'She didn't seem ill to me,' said Marion.

'I mean ill in the head,' said Norman. 'My father died when I was five. She was alone with me. Then a few years ago my mother met this man. She loved him. I think she loved him more than she loved me ...' Norman's eyes darkened as he looked past Marion at the wall. 'When he died,' Norman said slowly, 'and the way that he died ... That's why my mother became ill...'

Marion felt sorry for Norman then. He was like a lost child, spending all his life in a small motel with his mad mother. 'Why don't you leave here?' she asked him.

'If you love someone, you don't leave them.'

'Then why not put her somewhere like ...'

'Like a hospital, you mean?' Norman looked at Marion angrily. 'A hospital for mad people?'

'I'm sorry. I didn't want to be rude.'

'My mother isn't mad,' Norman said, his eyes still burning. Then suddenly, without warning, he became calm again. He smiled. 'I know,' he said, in a soft voice. 'I just hate thinking about it. My mother really isn't dangerous. She doesn't hurt anyone. She just does mad things sometimes. We all do mad things sometimes, don't we?'

His eyes met Marion's and he seemed to look straight into her heart. 'Don't you do mad things too, sometimes?'

'Yes, sometimes,' Marion smiled. She thought about the $40,000 in the newspaper in her room. She did a mad thing yesterday afternoon, when she put Tommy Cassidy's money in her handbag and ran away with it. 'I must take it back,' she thought. 'Tomorrow morning.'

She stood up. 'Thank you for the meal,' she said to Norman. 'I'm tired, and I have a long journey tomorrow. All the way back to Phoenix. You see, I made a bad mistake. I want to go back and put everything right before it's too late.'

Norman gave her a warm smile. 'I've enjoyed talking to you,' he said. Til bring you breakfast in the morning.'

'You'll have to be early,' Marion said.

'I wul, don't worry,' Norman replied. 'Sleep well.'


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