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BARRY PRITCHARD CAKE-EATER DREAM Jabez Madoc sits on his father's lap, the two of them endlessly rocking in the old chair by the window that overlooks the street. The man in the grey cap and long grey coat sitting across the room from them nods, smiling off and on, saying little after climbing the three flights of stairs to arrive at the door of their flat-through. "It'll just be a minute to catch my breath," brief flashing smile and nodding. Dave moves his hand slightly as if to say take your time and continues humming softly to himself, eyes closed, rocking slowly, Jabby's father often sings to him the song he now hums. In Welsh it is Ar Hyd Y Nos but in English it is called All Through The Night. But his father doesn't hum like his father since the other man came in and maybe he isn't his father anymore and Jabby is afraid to look up and see. "When is your wife coming back?" the man in the cap says finally, breathing back to normal. "Oh, no special time." Dave says in his sing-song. "Soon, I suppose. This one has a birthday in December and she'll want to be back for that." Jabby feels something go through him hearing about his birthday. He knows it is in something called December which is near now and he will be five years old. "She's visiting in Wisconsin," Dave continues. "She enjoys that," he explains after a pause. "She has the other one with her?" "Glynn. Yes." They are speaking of Jabby's brother Glynny. Glynny won't be three until after Jabby is five. The two men don't talk again for what seems to be a long time and Jabby feels there is something wrong in the room. He moans and squirms a little on his father's lap. "Do you have to go to the tybach?" his father asks. Jabby shakes his head no and leans back against his father's chest. Now his father and the man begin talking in Welsh which is what everybody always does when they don't want him to know what they are saying. But hearing Welsh spoken so often in this way, Jabby knows some words and sometimes he understands part of what they are saying. Diod. Drink. Drinking.Drinking what? 29 The man smiles, then laughs and says something that Jabby doesn't understand. He feels his father's arm grow hard where he is leaning against it. "I can take it or leave it alone," Dave says in English, not sounding to Jabby like his father again. He pats Jabby, squeezing him a little. "It's for them I made the pledge." "Sure." Jabby watches the man's hat bobbing up and down, nodding with his head. "Hell - I can take it or leave it - it doesn't matter to me. God knows if anybody had reason ..." Dave trails off. The man laughs again, softer now, shaking his head. "Ahhh Dai ..." he says. "Well ..." Dave says and shrugs. A moment later he says, "I suppose you're after that pack of Luckies I bummed from y' ". "I forgot clean about it," the man answers. "I only came up t' chew the rag." "Like hell you forgot," Dave says, moving Jabby off of his lap and rising from the chair. He goes into the kitchen and Jabby can hear him open a cupboard where there is money in a jar. "We'll have to go out and get some. I'm all out," Dave calls from the kitchen. The man looks at Jabby and smiles. "Can't you smile?" he asks. People are always telling him to smile. Sometimes his mother tells him that if the wind changes when he is frowning he will look that way always. Before he can decide what to say now, his father comes back into the room wearing a long grey coat like the other man, but bare-headed. "We're just going overto Roberts' to get some cigarettes . . " Dave explains to Jabby. "You'll be all right here for a few minutes...


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pp. 29-37
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