Hunched over, barely visible in the dark room, standard lamp flickering in the opposite corner. She was wearing that saggy old stained dress which she virtually lived in.
‘I’m dying, I’m dying’ she declared breathily, eyes theatrically wide in what I assumed to be feigned terror. It was comical.
’What’s wrong with you?’ I asked flatly. We’d been there so often.
‘I told you, I’m dying. Call the doctor, quick!’
Doctors tend to resent being called out in the night. This one was furious, but I managed to persuade him over the phone, feeling a bit of a fake myself.
‘Where is she?’ he said sharply as I let him in.
I wondered why he was wearing a suit and thought perhaps we’d dragged him away from some fancy evening out. I caught a faint whiff of alcohol, which I found rather shocking for a doctor on call.
I sent him in to her and hid in the kitchen, embarrassed, knowing he was going to be really pissed off.
I pressed my ear against the door.
‘Do you think it would be all right if I had just a little drop of brandy?’ she was whimpering. I pictured the pleading tilt of the head and groaned.
‘I think that would be very unwise’ came the caustic reply.
He called out to me and I sheepishly went into the room.
‘Take this prescription to the all night chemist in Piccadilly Circus, straight away’.
The chemist was miles away and I was convinced he’d written out a placebo. He stomped out into the night, mouth set hard, eyes glinting in irritation.
‘Go, go now. Take the car keys’ she shrieked. Amazing how her voice could so instantly recover its volume.
She knew damned well I was over the limit. No doubt hoping I’d be breathalysed and lose my licence. It was the sort of thing she would have enjoyed.
You probably think I hated her but I didn’t. I still loved her but I just didn’t like her any more.
I found her dead in her bed the next morning. It was the first time I’d seen her smiling in years.
A Chance Encounter
‘Yes, do I know you?’
He looked puzzled, embarrassed.
‘Err, hang on..’
But why would he after so long? We were both drunk, it was a one-off, and it was dark in that cramped car.
He still didn’t register.
‘Don’t worry, it’s been a long time. I take it these boys are yours? They look just like you, that pudding bowl haircut you used to have.’
He didn’t have much hair left now but he was still clearly very fit and looked rather cool in his battered leather jacket and scuffed boots. I was wishing I’d made more of an effort but who dresses up for a school run for god’s sake?
He shifted uneasily. I think he was trying to get away but didn’t know how to extricate himself.
’Is this your son?’ he said, trying to appear interested.
Bobby was 10 by now, spitting image of his father. This was getting really embarrassing. I was now the one who wanted to run away.
‘Yes. Say hello Bobby.’
‘That’s funny. He has the same name as me.’ He saw me blushing and looked puzzled, eyes delving into mine.
‘Come on Bobby, we need to go. We’re late’. ‘Late for what mum?’ I gave him a glare.
‘Good to see you again Robert, been a long time. You’re looking well’ I muttered, scuttling away, holding firmly onto Bobby’s wrist.
‘Mum, you’re hurting me.’
‘What’s your phone number?’ I could hear in the distance. I looked firmly ahead.
‘Mum, he wants your phone number. I like him. I think he’d be a nice boyfriend for you.’
A Night to Remember
We played that game, two truths and a lie. We were drunk of course. Red wine rings on what had been a spotless white linen tablecloth, ash strewn where ashtrays had been missed. Someone had stabbed their fag into the butter. Lesley’s eyes flashed. No-one admitted to it. Not so funny now was it.
I went first. ‘I fell off a cliff, I pushed my mother down the stairs, elves don’t have a philtrum.’ No one got the right answer.
‘Someone stabbed their fag into the butter and I’m not amused.’
Well that was a bit pathetic. The butt was poking up, eyeing her resentfully. She continued,
’I hate sushi and I hate my mother’
Another pathetic attempt – she’d served sushi as starter. I had never realised she hated her mother, but it figured. She probably also hated the way she resembled her mother with that frizzy hair and hooked nose. Lesley was definitely not attractive.
Oliver next. The right side of his face had slumped. Red-stained lips, eyes sunk into his head, God he looked drunk.
‘My mother hates me, I hate my sister, I’m having a stroke.’
‘I know your mother doesn’t hate you. She’s all over you and you love it. Creepy if you ask me, but that’s the lie’ barked Lesley.
Chuckles all round.
Rasping sound from Fred, who’d stabbed that fag out in the butter. He seemed to have a mini fit as he gasped for air.
‘Come on Fred, your go.’
‘I can’t think of anything’ he wheezed. ‘Lesley, do you have any more of that calvados?’
‘I think you’ve had quite enough Fred.’
‘Fuck you Lesley, you patronising bitch.’
He got up, tottered slightly and lurched towards the door, clinging onto the handle to steady himself. I heard a faint groan as he hit the floor, vomit all over the front of his Ralph Lauren shirt. He’d be annoyed about that in the morning.
‘Chuck him in the bath’ shrieked Lesley, eyes bulging. ‘Give him a good dowsing and get him out of here. He’s revolting.’
’Come on Joe’ I whispered. ‘Let’s leave before it turns really nasty. We can take Fred home’.
I wasn’t sure I could cope with the smell of sick but I needed an out.
‘Bugger off the lot of you. I’m going to bed’, Lesley shouted, stomping up the stairs.
Oliver’s body wasn’t discovered until the following morning. His spindly legs were sticking out from under the table. I expect Lesley was rather irritated. Oliver too had thrown up over himself. At least he wasn’t wearing an expensive shirt.