Tilting his seat back as far as he dared and tweaking a sprig of lavender from the tub,
contentedly across the lawn, happy to be on home ground after yesterday's
upheaval. Lazily he lit a cigarette and watched Paddy trail happily after Jane, an empty tray suspended from each hand.
'I need the nicotine.'
'What about the charity?'
'To hell with the charity.'
'He's not actually.'
was at the door, holding a lighted Norman Dingle-Jones Churchill cigar.
looked shamefaced. Ron
Ron, Bill cried, 'You dog. You might have told me.' He
turned back to Brian. 'See what you've
started? I suppose Fred's fallen as
well.' He went suspiciously quiet for several seconds, then sneaked an artful
glance at his pals. 'Anyone got a fag?' he asked, and promptly ducked so that Brian's empty packet missed its target.
Depositing a tray of drinks,
said, 'Thank goodness that's over.' Peter Fleming
As she closed the cutlery drawer,
sniffed the beefy aroma with juices running amok in her mouth. Quickly she
ladled vegetables alongside the steak pie then sat in her usual place. 'Thank
you, Gladys,' she said as she unfolded
a starched napkin.
And that was how
felt. She had been welcomed to this house for so many years it seemed she was
part of the furnishings, comfortable, at home.
As they ate,
reviewed her fortune telling venture, imparting interesting snippets about the
customers. 'Most of them were gullible,' she said. 'If I supplied them with a
letter from the alphabet they clung to it like they would a life raft. But they
went off happy.'
'That reminds me,'
said, 'you didn't have your fate dealt with.'
'Don't suppose you had chance this year.'
'They were quite friendly.'
'By friendly you mean…'
forked another portion of pie, blowing to cool it. ' Kate
overheard Diane say that Len was only
interested in her money. I can't remember what she threw back, but it hit
'I bet the lad who tried pinching her money box got a mouthful,'
Audrey said. 'It probably
cured him of theft for all time.'
easy demeanour subsided and a cloak of secrecy settled over her, guilt and
shame blocking all discussion. Taking a deep breath, flushing slightly, she
forwarded the false explanation that someone had played a practical joke.
'That's all right then,'
said, though she continued to explore Audrey's
Coming up behind her,
placed a hand on her shoulder. ' Brian
loves you, you know.'
Indeed, until yesterday
had believed he cared a great deal. Fishing her cigarettes from her pocket, she
lit one without transferring her gaze. 'Fifteen years,' she said in a cynical
voice. 'Fifteen years of being the other woman and in all that time there was
no progress. Oh, I always knew there could be no future, yet deep down I hoped
for one.' She puffed at the cigarette, then veered round. 'He would never have
left Maggie. It took me long enough to
find that out.' She faltered then, poignantly remembering her decision to end
the affair. 'It was up to me to reinstate him with his wife. How could I have
known she would find out and quit.'
was hosing his lawn, the noise
of spouting water acting as backing to Ron
tuneless chirruping. A distant car backfired. Tomcats hissed and spat. Life's
normal sounds. Audrey's vision blurred
as she pondered on everyday situations and familiar things. Brian and I were familiar with each other, and look
where it got us.
'Come on, love,' urged
'Finish your coffee.'
She switched off the television. Sunday programmes did not stimulate her and even if they did she wouldn't be able to concentrate. It was five to eight. Five minutes to go and already her loins ached. She jumped at the introductory ring.
say she had found her cigarettes on the floor, with the matches.
(to be continued)