A saga of everyday life in the Big L and a wry look at contemporary culture
By Tony Carden
Episode Forty Seven
‘They hate me!’ Mary threw the copy of the newspaper she held towards the fireplace. She missed.
‘Now, Mary, calm yourself.’
‘Don’t give me that tone, Des.’
‘Well, if that’s how you feel…’ His words trailed into silence.
She looked at him.
He frowned back at her.
‘You don’t understand, do you?’
‘Yes, I bloody well do understand.’ He stomped over to the drinks cabinet and flung it open. It banged. There was a crash and one of the doors came loose from its hinges.
Des gazed down at the door. ‘Cheap IKEA rubbish. You’d think Number Ten would have decent furniture.’
‘That’s an antique you just broke.’
‘It broke because it’s antique, you mean.’ He gestured at the drinks. ‘One for the night?’
‘Oh, very well. A small sherry might be nice. It’s been another of those terrible days.’
‘Sure.’ Des busied himself with making her drink.
Moments later, he trotted back to her a glass in each hand. ‘By the way, whatever happened to that robot thing that was here? We could have got it to make these.’ He held up the two glasses.
‘It broke. I sent it back.’
‘Another cheap import, I dare say.’
‘No. Designed and built here in the UK. It’s part of the plans to deal with the care worker shortage. You know, all that money we’re putting into social care and the NHS.’
‘It’ll be like that records system then. A money black hole that produces nothing.’
‘We’ll fix healthcare this time round.’
‘I’m sure your predecessor said the same thing.’ He lifted his glass. ‘Cheers to whatever!’
Mary noted the size of his tumbler. It would leave change to a half pint.
‘You can cut the euphemisms. It’s Brexit, Des.’
‘That again. It’s your albatross.’
Mary got up from the chair she was sitting in and took her drink from Des. She went over to the sofa and sat down.
‘You helped me before. What should I do?’
‘I’m just a plumber, remember. You’re the politico here.’
‘I need a watertight Withdrawal Agreement, but Parliament won’t see fit to pass it.’
‘Indeed, a problem.’ He rubbed his chin with his spare hand. ‘A bit like matching an old imperial measurement pipe to the new metric ones. It’s got to fit both ends.’ He grinned at her. ‘You need an adapter.’
‘How would it work?’
‘You have the two pipes. One of which is your Agreement, the other is what Parliament wants. You connect the two.’
‘But Parliament doesn’t know what it wants.’
‘You’ve got to tell them.’
‘But that’s my Agreement, the one they rejected.’ She turned away from Des momentarily before looking back towards him. ‘It got slaughtered.’
Des used his hand with the drink in to gesture at their surroundings. ‘But you’re still here. You’re still in charge.’’
‘That’s the weirdest part of it. Massively crushed on my Plan, I still survived the vote of no confidence.’
‘Hence, now you need the adapter.’
‘I’ve no idea what that is, Des.’
* * *
Quinn gazed at the dancing reflections in her drink. The firelight effect lights turned the pink gin into a rosy-gold colour. Is that the idea? She had asked for a G&T and been served this weird drink with strawberries and raspberries rather than lemons or limes.
She turned the glass with her hand. Then took a sip. Sweet. It’s an alcopop. Give me a proper tasting brew every time. Her thoughts drifted back to her time at university. Ah! The Milton Nero. Loved that one. You could get a real beer. She gazed towards the bar. Why don’t they serve something like that here? It would be better than this saccharine popsicle.
Her eyes wandered to the other patrons of the place. That they could have been acquaintances from university reflected the theme. She had shuddered when Clarissa had suggested they meet at a place called The Firepit. Pit. Full stop. There’s no fire here.
Then her gaze strayed towards a young man deep in conversation with a woman. Quinn could only see the woman’s red hair and her back as she was facing away from her. The man she could see. Apart from sporting an unshaven face, he bore an uncanny resemblance to Aiden. Seeing him with a date made her uncomfortable. Why does he bring out these feelings?
She shifted on the stool. None of the seats had backs. She had been sitting for all of ten minutes and was now seriously uncomfortable. You either sat up—with no support—or you leaned forward using your elbows or hands to prop yourself up. She had tried both and both had quickly become excruciating. Perhaps I should be doing more exercise. But when do I have the time for that?
Quinn broke her observation of the doppelganger and fixed them on the entrance. Come on Clarissa don’t keep me waiting. She pulled out her phone and activated the screen. Quickly glanced at it. 8:21. If you don’t come in five minutes, I’m off. I can think of several good things I could do this evening. Even doing the washing would be better than staying here. Her eyes flicked back to the man. He must have spotted her watching him for their gazes met.
She guiltily turned away. Saved!
Clarissa was making her way towards her. A thin man trailed behind. Her beau. Duane was dressed in a weirdly cut suit and tee shirt that sported a European Union flag but with a missing star.
Duane smiled when he noticed her examining him. He pulled his jacket open to reveal the full image. The picture had in one corner a bloke busily removing the missing star and shredding it.
‘My protest at Brexit.’
‘And is it effective?’
‘Yeah. Gets a laugh or two.’
‘I see I don’t have to introduce you two.’
‘Now, Clarissa, I was just showing Quinn my tools.’
‘If you go on like that, I’ll show you my clippers.’
Quinn grinned. This is more like it. But even so, she looked past Duane at the Aiden lookalike. That’s my kind of man.
‘Duane, I got one when you arrived.’ Quinn nodded briefly towards Clarissa. ‘I thought I might have a long wait.’
‘We said eight fifteen.’
‘And what time is it now?’
‘Just after eight thirty.’
‘Perfectly acceptable. Besides, Quinn, you’ve often been late for our get togethers.’ I suppose I have. Why do I now feel the need to be on time. She knew. Aiden.
Clarissa took a seat on one of the stools. She rocked it back and forth.
‘This isn’t particularly steady.’
‘Wait till you’ve sat on it for a bit.’
‘Clarissa, what would you like to drink.’
‘Just surprise me, Duane.’
He grinned and made off towards the bar.
‘So, what do you think?’
Quinn feigned ignorance. ‘Duane?’
‘Of course, you pea brained newt.’ She paused a bit then burst out laughing. ‘You’re winding me up!’
‘Good on you, Quinn. I’d forgotten your dry sense of humour.’ As have I! ‘But do you like him?’ He’s not what I expected for you. So what do I say?
‘He’s got a good sense of humour.’ And with you, he’s going to need it.
‘He can be very funny when he wants to.’
‘Is tonight a want to night?’
‘Every night except when I have my period.’
‘What about you? Anyone new on the dating horizon?’ No, don’t ask me!
‘No. I’ve been happy just going it alone.’ Where are you Aiden?
Clarissa tilted her head a moment in disbelief. Then grinned.
‘I admire you, Quinn. It’s not everyone who can go months and months being totally single without dating anyone.’ It’s not through choice.
Quinn made a face at her.
‘Oh! I hope I didn’t say anything wrong?’ No, just prying into my private life. As always.
Quinn smiled. ‘Nothing another gin can’t numb.’
Duane arrived with a drink in each hand.
‘Here you are, your gin & sin.’
Quinn burst out laughing. He must have been listening to us. Somehow.
‘What is this thing?’
‘I think it’s gin with lemon and orange. Also, something else. Can’t quite remember what.’
‘Well, it’s red. I think they only serve drinks that go with the décor.’ Quinn waved around the room at the flickering torch effect lights.
Duane sat down. ‘Let me tell you, the funniest thing just happened!’
Quinn could not resist pulling his leg. ‘Wow! I guess now all the professional comedy writers will have to retrain as personal advice columnists.’
‘Your sarcasm is telling.’ Duane roared with laughter. I like your sense of humour. Perhaps there’s hope yet.
Clarissa sat there unsmiling. ‘You really think that’s funny?’
‘Of course, it is.’ Good on you Duane! Come on, Clarissa, see the funny side! Quinn was reminded of how her friend didn’t take kindly to being teased.
‘Now, tell me, how are the wedding plans proceeding?’
‘We’ve settled on a date. September the 25th, which is kind of special because it’s dad’s birthday.’
‘Well, we had to bring forward the date because otherwise Duane would have to go back to Ireland.’
‘Ah.’ Quinn considered this a moment. ‘Why?’
‘He’s not been here long enough to automatically able to apply for residence.’
‘That’s right, I haven’t the five years that’s needed.’
‘If we get married, we’re pretty sure he’ll be allowed to stay.’
‘There’s something else. Go on, Clarissa, you ask her.’
Clarissa hesitated a moment. ‘It’s just…it’s.’ She paused. ‘I wonder if you’d be my maid of honour?’
‘Oh! Clarissa, I’d love to!’
To be continued…
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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