He appeared that very same evening, when Juno and Aurelia were strolling along the beach towards the wrestlers practising for the competition that was imminent again. Mom carried me in her arms. I was less than one month old. Dad lay in the sand following the fights with mild interest. In the past year he hadn’t shown much enthusiasm for his old pursuits anymore. He spent a lotta time watching his wife and sister like a wizened lion watches a bunch of cubs lay waste to the savannah from the shade of a baobab tree. He wasn’t saying that much these days.
A split second before Rolf showed, Juno knew what was coming. Everything sharply tightened and bulged. Human wax figures were all around her. Aurelia squeaked. And there he was, standing tall in the sand, cloak, staff, beard and all. Clearly the look still hadn’t been modernized.
His green eyes glowered. ‘Well, ladies,’ he said, and added to Juno, ‘We meet again.’ He sounded wrier than Jackson ever had.
Behind his back Demetrio had leapt up and was now approaching, quickly but warily. ‘Ah. The invincible man,’ said Rolf without turning. ‘Do join us.’
When dad reached all of us he put one arm protectively ’round mom and, after a moment, the other one ’round his sister.
‘Heart-warming,’ said Rolf, his eyes still shooting sparks.
‘Spare us the chit-chat and tell us why you’re here,’ replied Demetrio harshly.
‘You know exactly why I’m here! I’m used to you by now,’ – he glared at mom – ‘you’ll end up in the red before long if you keep going the way you are. And so would you have.’ Here he eyeballed dad. ‘But you…’ His eyes met Aurelia’s for the first time. He seemed to lose his track a moment before blinking and continuing, pretty lamely all of a sudden, ‘… you were, ahm, doing really well.’
There was a pause.