Sabrina Orah Mark

Walter B.’s Extraordinary Cousin Arrives for a Visit

When Walter B.’s extraordinary cousin arrived for a visit, Beatrice and Walter B. were in the bath reciting scenes from their favorite sentences. “What’s that?” asked Beatrice, pointing at the thin white hands reaching in through the window. “Oh,” said Walter B., “that’s my extraordinary cousin.” Beatrice and Walter B. continued to recite, but it wasn’t the same. “Should we lend him a bicycle,” whispered Beatrice. “Should I cook for him an egg?” “No,” said Walter B., “we do not have time for his particulars.” “Go away!” shouted Walter B. with a splash. “Go away!” Walter B.’s extraordinary cousin dropped his hands over the ledge like two dead flowers. “We haven’t the time for your threats, or your untouchable thighs,” shouted Walter B. “Can’t you see we are trying to make a living here?” And with that Walter B.’s extraordinary cousin was gone. “Thank heavens that’s over with,” sighed Walter B. relaxing back into the warm water. “He has already cost me the earth.” Six days went by undisturbed. But on the seventh day Walter B.’s extraordinary cousin returned. His thin white hands reached in again through the window. “What’s that?” asked Beatrice. “Oh,” said Walter B., “that’s my extraordinary cousin.” “I see,” said Beatrice with the feeling that something like this had happened once before. “Go away!” shouted Walter B. “Go away!” shouted Beatrice. “Go away!” shouted Walter B.’s extraordinary cousin. It was not yet time to drain the bathwater. It would be years before it would be time to drain the bathwater. And it would be longer still before it would be known far and wide that those hands were draped in accusations even Walter B. could not forgive.