“I know, I know.” Spencer replied, nodding in agreement. “It’s just I need to show you something. And I hope you won’t be upset. Actually, I hope you’ll find it as interesting as I did then, and it’s cropped up again now.”
“What are you talking about, pal?” Brent asked, curious, as Spencer was usually a bit on the lazy side, and a little mischievous, but never quite as animated as now.
“Well, it’s like this.” Spencer got up to walk over to his old wooden cabinet to open a drawer. “I have had this for three years now, and have never had the heart to tell you, though I have been meaning to, for sure. I’ve been looking after this, from when your Dad passed away, Nina.”
And there it was, the very feather that had laid on Greg’s chest, right under his nose in hospital, that had upset Mary so much at the time. Nina gasped, she had often wondered what had happened to it, hating it more than anything. To her, it had seemed like some cynical souvenir, left by someone, or, something that had taken her Dad away.
“How on earth?” Nina glared at him, not quite sure what to think, clenching her fist.
“Well, when we all went to see your father, Nina, I was the last one to visit, remember? I came in late? I asked the nurse, at the time, what would happen with the feather. And, as she didn’t seem very keen to touch it, I decided to take it. I thought that maybe I could figure it out, where it came from or something.” The old man shuffled about a bit, looking at his feet, not sure how to come out with it. “Actually, I’ve become really quite attached to it, and didn’t want to give it up after that. Really, I think it’s a bit magical.”
Nina couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She hated that feather. It brought back all the memories of losing her Dad so unexpectedly, seeing him lying there like that, he who had never hurt a soul in his life. And Old Spencer called that thing magical? “Well, you’re welcome to it, I don’t want to come near it. And I have no idea what you should find magical about it.”
Brent had been watching the old man, who had obviously been expecting all this. He was curious. “Why are you telling us about it now, Spencer? Just when we’re about to leave for the hospital?”
“It seems a bit tasteless, doesn’t it.” Old Spencer replied now very quietly. But I think it’s important. You see, I went to the bus crash site, too, and collected all the feathers I could find there. I found five of them. All are the same, and all do the same. I thought they might help your Mum and the others, maybe? They make me feel good, give me energy, I don’t know how they do it, but they do, though I handle them as little as possible, their effect is very strong.” Again he shuffled from one foot to the other, knowing full well that it all sounded very strange, and probably very ironic, too.
“They didn’t make my Dad feel better, did they!” Nina spat out.
“Hang on a sec, calm down, Huskie, Spencer wouldn’t just talk rubbish, would he? He’s a friend. Give him a chance, eh?” Brent looked at her with that gentle focus in his voice Nina liked so much, it made her listen, made her feel his sincerity. And of course he was right, Spencer was a good man, trying to help somehow.
“All right.” She sighed. “I’m sorry for snapping at you, Spencer, it’s just, I don’t understand. How do you mean, they make you feel good?”
“Well, if you’d like to just touch it, this is your Dad’s. At first I thought it had to do with him, that somehow it had taken on something of your Dad, you know I always liked him. Anyway, that’s what I thought, but it was more than that. I’ve only ever touched it really gently, not to rub off whatever is on it, perhaps your Dad’s DNA or whatever, and have just been keeping it in the drawer, and I’ve got the others in this one.” Spencer pointed to the drawer next to the open one. “I didn’t want to mix them up, but, the thing is, they feel the same. Like a really good shot of great coffee, but better.”
“Can you see what I see, Nina?” Brent had been staring at Old Spencer holding that feather, and Nina, following Brent’s eyes on the old man’s face, looked again. He looked incredible. He was still wrinkled, but the greyness had gone from his skin, the slightly red bulbous nose from too much drink and a bit of heart trouble seemed to look more normal, and there was a more youthful look to his eyes, the white age rings almost disappeared. He looked happy, if somewhat embarrassed.
“How is this possible?” Nina whispered.
“Wow, Spenc, you look amazing! Can I hold it? One of the other feathers maybe, rather than Greg’s? Watch if something happens to me, Nina?”
Old Spencer opened the drawer, took another feather, let the other one go quickly, almost as if holding them both would be too much. He handed a slightly larger feather to Brent, watching him very carefully as he took it, holding it gingerly at just one end, not quite sure if he should dare. It was the strangest thing Nina had ever seen. As Brent’s eyes lit up, in an expression of pure pleasure, she looked at Spencer to see if he was witnessing it, too, only to see him reverting back to being just the Old Spencer they knew. Looking back at Brent, however, he looked stronger, more substantial, as if he had been on holiday, maybe working out a lot, looking well and healthy, and very confident, happy somehow.
“How are you feeling, Carrot Face?”
“Great!” Brent beamed at her. “I feel like after the best sex ever! Sorry!”
He laughed, looking pretty pleased with himself rather than apologetic. “But boy, I feel hot! This is great stuff!”
Nina saw Spencer nodding knowingly, was it some man thing then, some testosterone kick of some sort? “Let me have a go, see if this is just something for the boys.”
Brent didn’t look in any mood to give his feather up.
“Seems like we need another one for me, Spencer, can I have one?”
“Be careful, don’t sniff it!” Spencer warned. “It gets a bit trippy, I’ve tried it. Got a bit scary, though I was a bit drunk at the time, but I wouldn’t advise it anyhow, not before seeing your Mum. But you’ll probably see why I thought it might help her get better? Maybe it was there to help your Dad get better but was all too late? I don’t know, been thinking all sorts, really.”
Nina took the feather, still afraid of it, it had meant heartache until now, but she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t look to see what would happen either. And it was there. The surge of love traveling through her arm, up her shoulders, into her neck, chest and face. “Oh god, Brent, you’re right, this is totally orgasmic, wow!” She laughed and felt her blood circulate through her veins as if it had been made fresh, it felt incredibly good! Unbelievably fabulous! “What is this! Oh wow!”
Brent and Spencer both laughed, this was almost too intimate to share, definitely some great druggy trip this was, but how could it be? How could touching a feather feel that good?