Perfect Family Tales And Other Trivia

The art of the short-story writer is that of the cartoonist. It is the magical craft of creating entire worlds with a few simple strokes of a pen. Tales told by an idiot? Maybe! But my tales are also a mix of reality and fantasy; truth and lies; some based on my own family; others, not. Readers must guess which characters are real; who are inventions - and who are an amalgam of both. Please draw the boundaries for yourself.

Friday, 12 October 2012

‘Bill And Monica Lived Here’

Monica.BillThere were some differences, admitted Monica Sherwin.

First, she told her friend, Gloria Adams  as they discussed the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, her trophy was a cheap, red pull-on skirt. Not a blue designer dress.

Second, she’d never be able to prove anything, as she’d had the skirt dry-cleaned.

Third,  continued  Monica,  she’d    been enjoying  a  simultaneous        ‘relationship’ with Bill Roberts’s son, Matt.

“Anything else?”, gulped Gloria as Monica paused for breath.

“Yes! When Matt realised later  what had been going on, he told several people that I deserved ‘to be raped’.”

But I must ask,” said Gloria. “You hinted you wanted to get something off your chest about events from the 1970s. Why now? Why me?”

“Good question, Glo’,” grinned Monica. “Potty, but the stories about showbiz guys abusing young girls seemed reminiscent of what happened to me. Anyway, you’re my dearest girl friend so I reckon you’re entitled to know.

“Of course the situations aren’t parallel and you’re probably thinking that as a 22-year-old professional, I had much more in common with posh American Lewinsky than any  disturbed, sometimes disabled British kids in the clutches of people like Jimmy Savile.

“But still, I was woefully immature, rather lonely and allowed both of the Roberts to abuse my trust quite shamelessly. And don’t forget, when I wasn’t servicing them personally I was working my butt off 25 hours a day, eight days a week for their ruddy business.”

“How did it begin?”, asked Gloria.

“Good question! With Matt, it had been the mid-life ‘my wife doesn’t understand me’ twaddle which I’d devoured whole like a chocolate orange.

“But the old man … that was strange. I don’t think he ever had an inkling about Matt and me. His own marriage had  been rotten for years and he simply wanted a soul-mate. Occasionally, I’d do some work for him. Then one day, when quite absently I quoted some verse as he commented on the weather, he looked at me hard and quoted something back.

“At first it was  unrequited love – on my side, anyway. Despite being well into his sixties, Bill still bore the traces of what had once been slightly raffish good looks. I was hooked. A bunny ensnared by a snake ...

“Things moved on. One day I was treated to another old man’s cliché: ‘Y’know Monica,’ said Bill, ‘I’ve not felt like this for a long time.’

“He leaned over me, locked the office door and told me to put away my notebook and switch off the dictating machine. Then he held my hands briefly and kissed me. Most tenderly.

“It was so sweet that I broke down. I felt as if I were centre-stage in a home-grown TV soap. It was an unnerving experience because I’m sure I could have stymied it all at source. But something stopped me.”

“Curiosity?”, said Gloria.

“’Fascination’ – much more than wanting to know what would happen next.

“Then things hotted up. But Bill was canny. We never went the whole hog. No penetration – no adultery. In fact he’d call our sessions ‘a spot of the orals’ and any local difficulty his ‘building problems’.”

“Yuck! And then?”, asked Gloria, fairly bolted to her chair.

“One day we forgot to lock the office door. I was standing with my back to it. Some of my blouse buttons were open. We were about to get cracking when Matt burst in, knocking a hanger off the coat-hook which hit Bill on the nose as I dived aside.

“Matt didn’t notice my appearance because he was concerned for his dad. So that day we got off scot-free.

“I suppose there’s a bit of Napoleon coming next. Like many short men, Bill was fanatical about his personal ‘dignity’. One day he had a spill. Down the front of my skirt. He couldn’t apologise enough. But really he was trying to justify what had happened to himself. He asked me to leave the room so he could have a brush up. But I never saw him again.”

“What?”

“Yeah! He’d not told me he was ill. Angina or something like that. It seems the episode upset him so much that he became over-agitated and had a heart-attack.”

“How was he found?”

“He’d locked his door after I left and a little later a junior tried to enter the room with his afternoon drink. When she couldn’t, she  called for help and you can imagine what happened next. Personnel from the Emergency Services found it difficult to keep straight faces when they examined Bill’s body and found he had been somewhat playful just before his demise. They related this to Matt who was as much bewildered as enraged.

“The burial was delayed slightly as the Coroner was involved. All staff attended. But Bill’s wife, Helene had been suspicious about me and I was told specifically that I was not ‘obliged’ to attend the funeral tea. I took the hint and stayed away.

“I was also in mourning but it was worse for me because I couldn’t confide in anyone. Then I made a terrible mistake.”

“How?”

“The bloody skirt. In the flurry of that awful day I’d barely sponged the stain and didn’t realise it was still visible.

“Then I wore it one evening some weeks later when I went out with Matt. He noticed the mark  and immediately put two-and-two together. He called me a slut and then stalked out of the bar where we’d been sitting. I never saw him again either.

“Next morning, there was a  ‘redundancy notice’ on my desk with a cheque representing six months’ salary. However, Matt’s every bit as cute as his father. He gave me  the customary written references but followed them up with chatty phone-calls to everyone in the trade. He had me black-listed and I never worked in the building industry again.

“Oedipus, Shmoedipus,” said Gloria, a great fan of pop psychology, “as long as you love your daddy.”

Natalie Wood

(Copyright, Natalie Irene Wood – 12 October 2012)

 

 

 

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