Public notice: what is love? Don’t arse me. Geddit!

From solid.passage by Leon Bogrush

(Punctuation and geddit added by editor)

Laurence said we should go away for the weekend. I was terrified. It’s been such a long time since I’ve done that kind of thing. You know what kind of thing I mean so don’t make me say it.

I told Peony about it.

“Eurgh,” she said. “I feel sick now. Thanks for that.”

All I’d said was that we fancied a city break. I never even alluded to that kind of thing. You know what kind of thing I mean etc.

I mentioned my possible absence to Mother.

“Oh good. Charlton can have your room while you’re away. I miss that beautiful boy. I need him like a cat needs air.”

(A cat needs air? Might she have meant hair?)

Well that was the decider. I wasn’t going anywhere, certainly if the thought of it induced nausea in my daughter and gave my feckless brother a foothold in my home once more.

So Laurence said: “Then come to mine for dinner. I’ll pack my mother and sister off to their folk night.”

I must say his sap seems to be rising a bit since he was offered his old job back. He’s also seeking compensation for wrongful dismissal, which is a bit rich given that not all that long ago he was trying to dissuade me from running to the lawyers.

And so last night I removed all extraneous hair and put on the black dress with the Grecian neckline that Mother always says should be draped on a coffin, and arrived at his door step at seven on the dot as arranged.

But a woman of about my age, with very raw pink skin and black bobbed hair, opened the door.

“Who are you?” she growled. “No hang on.” She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “You’re Imelda.”

“No,” I said.

She opened her eyes.

“Oh you’re the other one.”

Laurence came rushing up behind her. “Oh God, oh God, oh God.”

“Who’s Imelda?” I asked him.

“What?” he asked. “Who’s Imelda?”

“That’s what I just said.”

“This is my sister, Vanessa. She wasn’t supposed to be here. I took her and Mother to the pub and she came straight back.”

Vanessa moved aside to let me in. She eyed me suspiciously as we brushed up against each other.

“You’ve got a writer’s nose,” she told me.

“Have I?”

“I’m fascinated and yet repulsed by writers.”

“I don’t consider myself a writer,” I mumbled.

We all three sat down in a too-clean, oatmeal coloured living room. The silence was awkward so I broke it.

“Wow, that’s a potent aftershave.”

“Thank you,” said Vanessa.

A little more silence.

“Let’s go out after all,” suggested Laurence.

Vanessa stood at once.

“Great idea,” she agreed.

You could tell that he was suffering, poor chap, that he was frustrated and angry and helpless and never did I feel closer to the man than I did at that moment. We are soul mates, I thought.

“We can discuss literature,” announced Vanessa, as she fetched her jacket. “I only read proper, difficult literature. Life is too short for anything less.

I smiled at Laurence.

“Then you might like this,” I said, rummaging about my bag for the bogbrush manuscript, as Peony and I call it. (If you’re wondering, I’d brought it with me to entertain Laurence with it in case of flat moments.)

“Love the title,” she said, marvelling at the top page. “Leon Bogrush. Is that you?”

“No!” I shrieked, perhaps a little too hastily. “Fancy having a go at editing it?”

She swayed a little.

“Me? Are you serious? It would be an honour. What should I do?”

“Oh we’ve all had a go at it, my daughter, my daughter’s young ward, my mother. We’ve decided that throwing the odd geddit? into every page suddenly makes some sense of it.”

She looked from the manuscript to me and narrowed her eyes. I heard a clock. I heard the rumble of a plane.

“Right well,” she announced at last. “I can’t join you for dinner then. I have serious work to do.”

And she left the room.

Laurence put an arm around my shoulders and squeezed me with overwhelming force. “My God but you’re good.”

“You see,” I told him, gasping happily. “I know exactly what we’re dealing with here.”

*

We ate some chips on a bench and well… we kissed.

Oh stop gagging.

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