Helen - Friday
“Thank fuck for Google Maps,” Helen said aloud as she crept from a stranger’s bed not knowing where in London she was. She hadn’t meant to go out for the night, it had just happened, it was bloody Ben’s fault, Ben E Fit as she had him stored in her phone’s list of contacts.
After a pretty shit day Helen had called Ken, she knew he had left London yesterday, going to Amsterdam for two nights before heading home to San Francisco, and she knew there was no possibility of hooking up, but she missed him and wanted to hear his voice. He’d been evasive and cagey, not in the least bit pleased to hear from her, “I can’t talk now I’m with clients,” he had said but she could hear laughter and music in the background.
“Where are you?”
“With a client, gotta go, bye then,” and he was gone.
She called back and it went directly to voicemail. “Bastard,” she muttered to herself as she dug out her ‘special purse’, she needed to brace herself for what she might uncover. What if Ken had a girlfriend in Amsterdam? Or worse, a girlfriend in each of the places he had to travel to? What if he was with someone else right now? Was she ready to fight for him? The answer to the last question came easily, yes she was ready to fight for him and she would destroy anyone or anything that stood between them. She had another line and logged into Facebook. She’d tracked down Ken’s wife months ago and often looked at her and wondered what she had that Helen didn’t, she’d seen all their photos and had even printed out a couple of Ken that she kept next to her bed in a drawer.
“Let’s see what your sorry status is today Jodie, are you missing your old man as much as I am?”
With Facebook revealing nothing and the best part of a bottle of white wine consumed Helen was restless and feeling jangly. She scrolled through her phone for someone to play with. Ben. Yes, Ben would do nicely, it had been a while but Ben was unable to resist her.
“Hi Ben,” she purred, “how’s things? Or should I say how’s your thing?” she giggled mischievously. Ben was a friend with benefits, a trusty sort who could be relied on for a good time with no crying or whining after. Ben had a special place in Helen’s heart, and the fact that he was young and pleasingly endowed helped a lot.
“Oh hi Helen, how are you?”
“I’m wet,” she could picture his face smiling. “I’m waxed and I’m wet and I need a good servicing from a very hot car mechanic I know.”
“Helen. Can I stop you there. I’m flattered of course but I’m with someone now.”
“Well, I really like her and I’m being faithful.”
“Being dull you mean. What’s wrong with friends having a nice time together? Ben, we’ve been friends longer than you’ve been with your bird, surely that counts for something.”
“Sorry Helen,” said Ben, “bye” and he was gone.
Helen was enraged and stamped her foot like a small child. “Fuck you,” she screamed at the phone, “Fuck the fucking lot of you.” She went into her bedroom to apply some more make up and got changed to go out.
By the time Helen arrived at The Parrot & Punchbowl she was pretty hammered and in the mood to party, unfortunately the pub was holding its monthly quiz night, which although wasn’t an evening for a serious quizzer, meant the music was quiet.
“Well this was worth coming out for. I’ll have a large glass of white,” said Helen to the barmaid while her eyes scanned the room. The barmaid knew a pain the arse when she saw one.
“What wine would you like. I’ve got Chardonnay, Pinot or Sauvignon?”
“Whatever’s the best one, not Chardonnay, that’s for Chavs.”
Fortunately, ‘The Claret and Blues Brothers’ who knew close to nothing except for sport trivia, and only as long as that sport trivia was football, were more than happy to include Helen in their team.
“We want to win the third prize,” said their Captain.
“Aim high why don’t you?” smiled Helen when she realised that on closer inspection the Captain wasn’t too bad.
“We want the case of beers. I hope you’re as bright as you are fit.”
“I’m very clever actually,” she said eyeing him up and down before giving him a mental 7/10 and leaning in to him to allow him to peer down her cleavage if he so chose.
“I bet you were excellent at school,” he smirked revealing a set of perfect white teeth. “Oh I was,” she positioned her back to his team mate, “except when I was very, very naughty,” she whispered.
“What film saw Sharon Stone holding an ice pick?” read the Quiz Master.
Everyone in the room knew the answer. Helen parted her legs, even though she was wearing jeans, “I’m not sure, are you…”
“Simon,” he said.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen that film Simon, tell me about it.”
Simon touched her inner thigh, “I’ll show you if you like.”
Helen laughed a little too loudly, “naughty boy,” she smacked his hand, “I’m going to the ladies.” As she walked away, she knew Simon was looking at her bum so she wiggled it for good measure. “Fuck Ken,” she thought as she racked up a line on the toilet seat.
Getting home from Simon’s hadn’t been the ordeal she had expected, thankfully a cab had driven past that she was able to nab, and it was only a fifteen minute ride. If she hurried she knew she would only be about forty five minutes late for work, that was until she saw the love bite on her neck.
“You div,” she screamed at Simon while looking at herself in the mirror, “you proper arsehole, who does that?” Make up only covered it so much so she had to wear a scarf. A black pencil skirt, white blouse and a LK Bennett scarf she’d bought in the sales last Christmas and never worn. In her mind it looked ok until she looked in the full length mirror, “great, I look like a air stewardess.” She quickly stripped off the shirt and put on a push up bra, put the shirt back on and left the first three buttons undone, “better, and it’ll have to do.”
“Did you win the beers?” said a familiar voice from behind her on the westbound platform.
Helen turned to face the voice, it belonged to Emma, an old friend, an ex boyfriend’s friend’s girlfriend to pinpoint it. “What beers?”
“Last night at the quiz, I saw you in the Parrot and Punchbowl?”
“Oh yeah sorry, I was a bit merry,” replied Helen racking her mind for the memory of seeing her and drawing a blank.
“A bit,” laughed Emma. “How do you know Simon then? Is he your boyfriend?”
“Christ, no. I was just in there and they needed another team member.”
“I was going to say, Jesus times must be tough if you’re going out with him. He’s a proper prat.”
“How do you know him?”
“He used to be mates with my brother, until he came out as a proper bullshitter and complete prat. Anyway, I don’t usually see you here.”
Helen pulled the scarf up a bit. “No, I over slept,” said Helen making a mental note to never, under any circumstances get the, she looked at her watch, screwed up her eyes and realised she still couldn’t see the hands clearly.
“Still pissed then?”
“No. I’ve left my glasses at work.”
“Here are,” said Emma handing Helen a polo, “for the fumes. We’ve all done it, don’t worry.”
“Done what?” Helen’s mind was running through the scenarios Emma may be referring to.
“Got para on a school night,” she rummaged in her faux leather handbag and produced a packet of tissues, opened them and handed one to Helen.
“Bit runny this morning too?” she winked.
As the train pulled into the platform Helen watched as Emma’s lips moved.
“Lizzie will be in this carriage. Follow me,” she yelled over her shoulder as she barged into the open door. Helen could think of nothing worse than sitting with Emma and her mate jabbering all the way to work. She stepped sideways and went into the next carriage. She looked through the door and saw Emma wildly gesturing. Helen shrugged, pulled a sad face and then found a seat. The sugar from the polo trickled down Helen’s throat and into her stomach waking it up. It had been days since she’d had a decent meal, her stomach made such a loud noise it could be heard over the sound of the train, or at least Helen could hear it. Running late or not, she’d have to get bacon rolls en route, and that meant she’d have to get one for Claire and Abbie as well, even though after yesterdays performance they didn’t deserve it.
“Thanks,” said Claire taking the bacon roll, “you’ve got ketchup down your scarf by the way.”
“For God’s sake,” snapped Helen marching off to the toilet. Claire bit into the bacon roll and flicked two fingers at Helen’s back. If she thought buying a bacon roll was going to make up for her shagging Michael she had another think coming. The internal line lit up, “Yes she’s just arrived, I think she’s having a poo…yes, I’ll let her know when she comes out…Thanks.” She hung up feeling pleased, knowing she had no intention of telling Helen that HR wanted to see her urgently. Claire looked at the sign that her mum had bought her that stood on her desk, it read: No responsibility can be taken for actions taken against those that mess with a Receptionist. She loved that little sign.
Helen sat on the fire escape having her mid morning cig. She’d deliberately gone out earlier than usual as she didn’t fancy chatting, she needed space to think. It hadn’t gone beyond her notice that there seemed to be a lot of meddling in her deals lately. Legal had been poking around from well before it was necessary for them to do so, she wondered who was trying to pinch her commission. They were all against her, she knew that for sure, all jealous that she was able to sign the deals, make her target each quarter and walk away with big healthy commissions, it was a dog eat dog world and Helen knew she was the Rottweiler.
“What’s up?” said Abbie before she sparked up.
“Are you alright Helen? I’m worried about you.”
“Yes, I’m really very fine. Honestly.”
“Helen, don’t take this the wrong way, but, there’s no easy way of saying this.”
“What?” said Helen turning to face her for the first time.
“HR have asked me questions about you, about your drinking.”
“What?” shrieked Helen, “what the fuck?”
“Calm down, Helen, they’re concerned too.”
“Right, more like they want to fire me so that when I sign the CP deal they will just have to tie up the legals and won’t have to pay me the commission.”
“Helen, please. It’s nothing to do with money.”
“Don’t be so naive Abbie, it’s always about the money. I fucking knew there were plans being hatched.”
“There are no plans Helen. Stop it. Why don’t you calm down, go home and get some sleep, then you’ll see.”
She didn’t get to finish her sentence, “I will be going no where and you can report back to HR that I am absolutely fine, ok?” She ground the cigarette butt into oblivion.
Helen sat on the closed toilet with the cubicle door locked, when she heard someone enter she lifted her feet.
“So, that went really well,” said Abbie.
“Don’t cry, it’s not your fault. She’s got problems,” replied Claire.
“I know,” sniffed Abbie, “I know she thinks everyone is against her, and I know most people don’t like her, but I do. I don’t know why, I feel sorry for her I suppose.”
The tap went on followed by the hand dryer and Helen couldn’t hear, she had a good mind to burst out of the toilet, “feel sorry for me do you, you fat mess,” but she didn’t. She was shocked, truly shocked, who didn’t like her then? She thought they all really liked her, she thought they all thought she was pretty marvellous in fact. Despite herself Helen felt her eyes burning, she quickly delved into her bag. Her hand touched her ‘special purse’, but she knew it wasn’t the right time, and it was most likely empty. She found her phone and scrolled through it for a friend to call, she needed a pep talk that was all and then she’d be fine. She could call Sunny, but after last time perhaps she should call someone else. She scrolled to the end of the contact list and realised most of them were associates at best, she put the phone to her ear as Sunny’s number dialled.
“Leave a short message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks,”said Sunny’s husky voice.
“Hi it’s me, give me a shout when you get this. Speak soon Hun,” said
Helen with the last bit of false cheer she could muster.
“Everything alright?” smiled Claire from behind the reception desk, as
Helen finally emerged from the toilets.
“Brilliant thanks,” beamed Helen, “I’m just going out for coffee, want anything?”
“No thanks,” she smiled.
Helen walked towards the front door as fast as she dare, the small of her back arched as if propelling her forwards, a single bead of sweat trickled down her spine, she knew Claire was watching and was going to report back to Abbie at the very least and she didn’t care, she needed to breathe.
“HR called for you,” called Claire to Helen’s back, “What shall I tell them? That you’ve gone to the pub again?”