Friday, 30 July 2010

Proof positive 1

The Angel was waiting for Jennifer in the kitchen. It stood by the freezer, casting a golden luminescence over the Aga. It looked somewhat tired around the eyes but Jennifer didn’t register this. She simply dropped the bottle of vodka she had brought back from the supermarket, which fragmented on the Tuscan tiles, and gave vent to a soundless scream.

“I got here as quickly as I could,” the Angel explained apologetically, “But there’s a lot of traffic over the Near East and I had to reroute.”

Jennifer clung to a stool by the breakfast bar and gaped at the ineffable splendour of her visitor. She could hear her cutlery, her crystal glassware and her bone china vibrating inside the fitted cupboards.

The Angel gave her a slow sad smile, “Precisely three hours ago you found out your husband Keith has been having an affair with his partner George. They are moving into George’s apartment. And are commencing proceedings against you for drunkenness and other supposed domestic derelictions. They will be claiming custody of the children. An unlikely eventuality, but one that could have a major bearing on any settlement you might expect. The children have gone to his mother’s, and are understandably distressed.”

With one foot, Jennifer stirred disconsolately at the broken bottle in its plastic bag. She gave a sniff.

“You then said...” the Angel put his fingers to his temples and closed his eyes to summon up a perfect recollection, “’Oh, My God! Has it really come to this?’”

Jennifer made a feeble gesture of acknowledgement with one hand.

The Angel gave her a kindly smile, “I’m here to tell you, Jennifer, that yes, it has.” He gave his wings a little loosening stretch, “Now, any other questions I can help you with before I go?”

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Friends in low places 4

Mrs Crabtree allowed her maid, Edie, the morning off. The whole village would be at St Botolph’s for the wedding and Mrs Crabtree thought it would both educate her and remind her of her place.

Sir Heston Blissett was marrying the Honourable Cynthia Butterwick; they were the shire’s most eligible couple. Edie had for a time served as an upstairs maid to the Butterwicks, followed by a sojourn with the Blissetts before Sir Heston offered her to Mrs Crabtree, a cousin of sorts, in the weeks leading to his marriage.

So, on a gorgeous summer’s morning, in a packed St Botolph’s, Major Butterwick gave his daughter away, with the County looking on in fervid admiration.

“If any man knows of any just cause or impediment why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, may he speak now…” rumbled the Reverend Smiley.

“Please Vicar, I do,” came a diffident voice from the last pew.

There were gasps and mutterings. The bride-to-be blanched, her porcelain complexion now chalky. Sir Heston turned with fire in his eyes. The Major’s monocle hit the flagstones. Lady Blissett sat heavily enough to cause her stays to squeak.

“What is the meaning of this, child?” the Reverend’s voice was cold.

“I’ve attended Miss Butterwick in her bath a great many times, Vicar, “offered up Edie helpfully, “And I have to say she is not blessed with a comely appearance below.”

“What are you saying, girl?” bellowed the Vicar. As the bride-to-be pulled her veil back over her face and collapsed into her father’s arms.

“Well, Sir Heston said I had the prettiest part he ever did see,” Edie continued to discharge her religious duty, “And I should hate his wife to be a disappointment to him.”

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Friends in low places 3

The Fourth Murderer was understandably peeved. When he’d signed on for Macbeth he’d been assured of his place at Number Three. But some footling friend of the director had turned up, all lace and pomade, powdered and primped like a Bishop’s favourite in a Molly House. This posturing Ganymede had spent but ten minutes closeted in the director’s cubbyhole, and Third Murderer had slipped down to Fourth Murderer, with scarcely a please and thank you.

He sat sulking in the wings as the gentry and the groundlings massed the other side of the curtain, the orange girls plying their trade, oranges now and hot fumblings later. A burly stagehand eased him to one side as he clambered on stage with a chunk of wayside tree under one arm. Then noticing his forlorn aspect, stopped to enquire, “What’s awry with you, you big Jessie? Someone stolen your hairnet?”

The Fourth Murder tried to maintain a dignified silence, but dejection got the better of him and in a flurry of exposition, he filled the stagehand in on his dwindled fortunes.

The stagehand was a kindly man. “Which one is it?” he whispered, peering into the knot of players as they gathered off stage, ready to depict Banquo’s untimely demise.

“The one with the fat legs and smug expression,” replied the Fourth Murderer spitefully, following that with a stab of his finger.

The stagehand disappeared back stage again and returned with a sturdy length of tree trunk to complete the set. Passing the Third Murderer, he inadvertently caught him a crashing blow to the back of the head with it, felling him instantly and comprehensively.

“What have you done?” the Fourth Murderer stared down, aghast, at the insentient form at his feet.

“A slight rewrite,” muttered the stagehand. “Now make the most of it.”