The rain pelts down on the window with a
fury and car horns blast into the air as their drivers become frustrated with
the lack of movement in traffic. Kids
are screaming as they jump in puddles and just outside the flat, two men are
having an argument as one man complains about the other’s wet and muddy dog
creating a mess in the corridor.
However, all this escapes one man who sleeps on soundly in his bed. That is until he is disturbed by the humming
noise of a hoover going back and fourth outside his door.
With a groan, Lee slowly turns over onto his side to stare at the bedside clock.
‘Bloody woman,’ he mumbles before kicking back the duvet and slowly dragging himself out of the warm cocoon and pads his way into the living room to find Lucy, hair in disarray and still in her pyjamas, battling with the hoover across the floor.
‘Lucy,’ he calls, but gets no reply. He tries again to the same effect, but nothing. He shouts but it falls on deaf ears. Already pissed off at the rude awakening and now being ignored, he reaches his limits and storms over to the socket and pulls the plug. Lucy finally looks in his direction.
‘What do you think you are doing?’
‘It’s called cleaning, Lee. It’s something us women do more than once a year.’
‘But why are you doing it now? It’s seven thirty in the morning.’
‘Thought I’d get a head start.’
‘On what? The world hoover championships?’
‘I’ve got a client coming around tonight. He’s important and I want to make a good impression. He already has his own business and highly regarded in the agricultural commodity.’
‘So he likes to spread sh…’
‘Alright.’ She holds up her hand to stop him.
‘What does he do that’s got you cleaning this early in the day?’
‘He specialises in wine and has his own vineyard in France. He’s coming over at eight tonight so please don’t ruin this for me. He has a lot of connections and he could be the chance I need. It’s a great opportunity for me to stretch myself in a new direction.’
His eyes wander up and down her body. ‘Didn’t we do that last night?’
‘And none of your jokes or double entendre. I need him to like me.’
‘Fine, but I don’t see why you needed to invite him to dinner.’
‘It could seal the deal. If he sees that I’m a good host he might allow me to hold his wine tasting evenings, which helps promotes his produce.’
‘I don’t see the point in wine tasting. It’s just a load of idiots talking nonsense, before wasting the good quality produce by spitting it back out again. I can get that down at the pub.’
‘Lee, promise you won’t mess this up for me.’
‘Fine, I promise.’ Lee turns around and starts to head back into the bedroom.
‘Where are you going?’
Lee pauses and says over his shoulder, ‘I’m going to stick on a beret and find some snails.’
‘That was delicious, what was it again?’
the young man asks.
Adam, the new client, was everything Lee despises in a man, especially one that keeps on eyeing up his wife. He is tall, athletic build; dark floppy hair with hypnotic eyes to match and to top it off, he is young. What is worse is the way Lucy laps up the compliments and hangs on every word he says. He is educated too with a posh lilt to his voice that could capture any woman’s interest. It’s safe to say that Lee hates the man.
‘Chicken,’ Lucy replies with a smile. Lee can only roll his eyes.
‘Where did it come from?’ Adam asks.
‘That chicken never did make it across the road,’ Lee says.
‘More wine?’ Lucy offers her guest while simultaneously sending annoyed glances towards her husband.
‘Only a little, thank you. I need to be up early to catch a flight to France. I need to check on how the vineyards are going.’
‘Oh yes, and how’s the crops and soil and windy plants?’ she dwindles off awkwardly.
‘Very well. In fact, we’ve just finished working on a new wine, which is to go on sale in three weeks. It’s a delicious red that fills your palette with an abundance of flavours.’
‘So do wine gums,’ Lee interjects.
‘What’s it called?’ she asks.
‘Anon Amour. I like to call it my double A concoction.’
‘You have to be careful Adam. Some people may be offended,’ says Lee.
‘It could be considered a hypocritical advertisement for Alcoholics Anonymous.’
‘Don't listen to my husband. He still thinks drinking a can of beer through a straw is the height of sophistication. Anyway, tell me more about this new wine of yours. Why that name?’
‘Well, I wanted something that would capture a person's eye.’
‘A coat hanger could do that,’ Lee mumbles and gets a swift kick on his shin for his troubles.
Adam continues unawares. ‘Something that could flow freely off one's tongue.’
‘Should have called it spit,’ Lee interjects earning a quick glare from Lucy.
‘Those very words are the eponym of danger itself.’
‘So is a punch to the face, but you don't see many wines called that.’
‘You know, this wine has a lot in common with you, Lucy.’
‘Really? In what way?’
‘Please muck this up and say it's cheap looking and easily pissed,’ Lee says under his breath.
‘It's silky smooth with an elegance that leaves you wanting more. Its rich blackberry flavours lingers on your tongue and the body deserves to be savoured.’
Turning red at the comment, Lucy stutters through her reply. ‘That's a bit forward of you Adam.’ She glances quickly towards her husband before averting her eyes.
‘I only call it how I see it.’
‘Do you know what wine best suits you, Adam?’ Lee interrupts. ‘Sauvignon Blanc.’
‘Because it's dry, crisp and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.’
‘Right,’ Lucy says as she abruptly stands. ‘It looks like we’ve all finished. Do excuse us Adam while we take the plates into the kitchen. Please, make yourself comfortable on the sofa.’
‘Not too comfortable,’ Lee says only loud enough for Lucy to hear.
‘Come on Lee, grab those plates.’
Sighing, he does as he’s told and once they are in the kitchen and plates in the sink, Lucy slides the doors closed and turns on him.
‘What do you think you are doing in there?’
‘Oh come off it Lucy, that man’s been ogling you all night.’
‘No he hasn’t.’
‘He couldn’t take his eyes off the breasts and it weren’t the ones on his plate!’
‘You’re being paranoid.’
‘Am I? How old is he anyway? Is he out of school yet? You sure he's qualified?’
‘He's got an MBA in Wine Business Management, he spent two years travelling around the world sampling various wines and their vineyards, and has featured at least five times in Esquire in the last year. Now he’s got his own business and is on the rise.’
‘I bet it’s not only his business that’s been rising.’ Lucy just pinpoints him with her stare.
‘The only qualification you have is that certificate you nicked from your mate for the 100 metre breaststroke, you spent the last two years rummaging around the fridge sampling my food and drink, and the only time you’ve featured in a magazine is when you placed an advert in the Lonely Hearts column.’
‘I have my own business too.’
‘Oh yes, Mr. Whippy comes out five times a month. Six if it’s a heat wave.’
‘It would come out more if you…’ his eyes flicker southwards.
‘Enough,’ and she turns around to place the dishes into the dishwasher.
‘Well at least I’ve hit puberty. What’s he? Twelve?’
‘You're sure that's not his IQ?’
‘He’s not the one behaving like an immature, spoilt little boy who’s had his toys taken away from him.’
‘Well I know what he would rather play with.’
‘Just shut up Lee.’
‘I’m a man, I know what he’s thinking.’
‘That’s not true.’
‘It’s been written across his face all evening.’
‘I meant the man part.’
‘Lucy, you cannot go into business with him.’
‘Just because you’re my husband, it doesn’t mean you have the right to tell me what I can and can’t do.’
‘That’s the student and teacher role play out of the question then.’
‘Can’t you support me for once?’
‘Thought that was what bras were for.’
‘I do support you, I just don’t trust him.’
‘You trust me though, don’t you?’
‘Of course I do.’
‘Then trust me when I say I think you’re wrong.’
‘How can you expect me to sit in there for the rest of the evening and watch him flirt with you when I’m sitting in the chair opposite?’
‘What? You want me to cover my eyes? If he covers his mouth and you cover your ears, we could be a matching set.’
‘I mean go to the pub or something. Anything as long as you’re away from the flat.’
‘Fine,’ Lee huffs one last time before storming through the doors, passing a startled Adam and then out of the flat altogether.
has once again retreated to the safe haven of the pub, now currently sitting at
the bar and twirling his pint around in his hand, watching as the amber liquid
His peace is disturbed as Daisy enters his perimeter and dumps several boxes of condoms onto the table. Slowly, Lee turns to the distraction.
‘What are you doing with those?’ he asks.
‘Tim asked me to pick up several on the way home.’
‘Yeah, I thought it was a bit weird too, especially when he mentioned the flavours. I couldn’t find a salt or pepper anywhere.’
‘He needs some seasoning.’
‘I think he meant condiments Daisy, not condoms.’
‘Oh.’ She pulls herself up onto the stool beside him. ‘We’ll never get through all these, do you want some?’
‘Thanks, but I’m trying to give them up.’
‘Oh, I get it. You’re taking a vow of celibacy.’
Lee simply stares at Daisy with raised eyebrows and then takes a sip of his drink.
‘Where’s Tim anyway?’
‘He’s at home stuffing the bird.’
‘So would Adam be if he got his way.’
‘Oh, I heard about this Adam guy. He’s the new client Lucy’s going after. What’s he like?’
‘He’s dark haired, fit and when he smiles it lights up the room?’
‘No. He’s got one of those faces I want to slap.’
‘I take it you don’t like him.’
He swivels on his stool to face Daisy.
‘He’s all over Lucy like a dog in heat. Practically drooling in her lap. Lucy says he’s going up in the world. I wish our place had stairs.’
‘So I could knock him down a step or two.’
‘Are you jealous?’
‘Of course not! Should I be?’
‘Well, he’s a successful businessman in his prime. Young, probably single, educated. Lucy is the perfect candidate for him.’
‘Am I just being paranoid?’
‘Of course you're not Lee.’
‘It's obvious that this guy is trying to steal Lucy.’
‘I knew it!’
‘The question you got to ask yourself is, are you willing to destroy Lucy’s chance of success because of your green eyed monster?’ Lee thoughtfully gazes into his pint. ‘It’s like the saying goes; you can’t have your eggs in one basket and eat it.’
‘Don’t you mean cake?’
‘Fine. You can’t have your cake in one basket and eat it.’
was lovely Lucy,’ Adam says as they sit closely on the sofa, his arm resting
along the back, hand inches from touching her shoulder.
‘I think you’d be a great asset to my team.’
‘Really?’ Lucy beams.
‘Definitely. You’ll be the ripest grape amongst the bunch.’ His fingers begin to caress her shoulder. ‘I’m swelling with the idea.’
‘You sure it’s not an allergic reaction?’ Adam leans in to kiss her, but before he has chance to get within a hairs breath of her lips, Lucy pulls back and jumps off the sofa. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’
‘I thought it was obvious.’
‘Adam, I’m a happily married woman! Well, I’m a married woman.’
‘You can’t tell me you are happy with him? We could be so good together and your so called husband is only holding you down.’
‘I have asked if she wants to swap positions, but she insists I go on top,’ Lee says as he stands in the doorway.
‘Jesus! Lee!’ Lucy exclaims.
‘No, just Lee, though if you give me a false beard, long hair and stick me in a dress, I could be. Then again, if I did that I could also be my Mum.’
‘What are you doing back early?’
‘I was talking to Daisy when something she said reminded me that there was still a dick at my flat trying to chat up my wife.’
‘Come on, man, it was only a bit of harmless flirtation,’ Adam says as he holds up his hands. ‘We were just talking about wine.’
‘And doing a bit of tasting too by the looks of it.’
‘I think I better go.’ Adam skirts around Lee, picking his coat up from the peg and heads towards the door, but before he can disappear altogether, Lee halts him.
‘Just before you go Adam, I have one question for you.’
Lee casually walks over to him. ‘Have you ever tasted Thunderbird wine?’
‘Can’t say I have.’
‘It’s a cheeky little number. At first you get this syrupy flavour that’s sweet before turning sour, then it feels like your mouth has been washed in bleach and just when your taste buds thinks the torture is over, you get a good punch at the end. It’s the punch you have to watch out for.’
‘You never know when it will hit you,’ and before anyone can react, Lee’s fist comes out of nowhere and collides with Adam’s cheek, knocking him clearly out the door, to which Lee slams behind him and then wipes his hands together as if he were getting rid of dust. Turning around, he comes face to face with a frowning, hand on her hip, Lucy. ‘What? I did warn him.’
‘What happened to the promise of not mucking this up for me?’
‘Disappeared the moment he tried to get a good taste of your tonsils.’
‘It wasn’t like that.’
‘What was he doing? Trying to resuscitate you? Check your airway for any blockages? I guess it was only a matter of time before you ended up choking on all that crap he was feeding you.’
‘God Lee,’ she throws her hands up in the air and turns to walk into the kitchen. ‘You’re impossibly hard to deal with.’
‘Why thank you,’ he replies trailing in her wake.
‘Not that.’ She reaches for a bottle of wine from the fridge and pours herself a glass before turning around to face him.
‘Sampling his goods already?’ Lee stares at the bottle.
‘You might as well be. He’s been sampling yours.’
‘Can’t you get it into that thick northern skull of yours, nothing happened!’
‘Bet you were thinking about it.’
‘Oh don't be stupid. So he’s a young and handsome man with a real go-getter attitude and heading towards big things…’
‘A bus with any luck,’ Lee mumbles.
‘…And yes, maybe he’d have been exactly the type of man I would have gone for a year ago, but things have changed. Why would I want a man like him? I’m happy with you.’
‘Is that meant to be a compliment?’
‘Well it sucked.’
‘If you applied yourself to a job like you do to your sarcasm, you’d be a CEO by now. You have potential…well, you have something, and if you stuck at a job long enough I’m sure you’d be able to prove me wrong.’
‘You stuck to Adam and proved me right. You sure you don’t want to run after him? Sample his collection?’
‘Right.’ Lucy grabs hold of his hand and drags him out into the living area. ‘Come with me.’
‘Come with me.’
Begrudgingly, Lee treads after Lucy as she drags him over to the stereo and turns it on. The soft mellow tune of the piano drifts through the air around them. She places one of his hands gently against her lower back and then takes up his other firmly in hers. As the music plays on she encourages Lee to move his feet and soon they are swaying in time with the song.
‘What are we doing?’
‘It's called dancing. Down south it's a form of exercise, not a drunken competition.’
‘Why are we dancing? Last time I danced I ended up being punched twice in the face by your father and discovered your mother likes to go commando.’
‘As you won't believe me about what I’m trying to tell you, maybe you'll listen to Mr. Nat King Cole.’
In the silence that follows, the soulful voice of the man himself falls upon their ears as they stare into each other's eyes.
‘Unforgettable, in every way, and forever more, that's how you'll stay.’
‘Do you mean that?’ Lee asks as his eyes soften as he glances down at her.
‘Of course I do. I love you,’ she smiles to which he returns.
‘I love you too.’ Lucy’s smile widens and she goes to rest her head against his shoulder and he pulls her closer to his body.
‘Mmmm,’ she replies without moving from her position.
‘I was thinking. You know how you said that if I stuck to something and worked hard enough, I’d be able to achieve anything I wanted?’
Lucy pulls her head back a bit to stare up at him. ‘Yes?’
‘Well, Mr. Whippy has risen to the challenge.’