Lee is still
lounging around in his pyjamas and half way through eating his cereal at the
table when Lucy comes up behind him and shoves a small red box in front of his
‘Here you go Lee.’
‘Thanks, but you did know it’s not my birthday?’
‘If it were, I would have given you soap to go with the bath. Just open it.’
Sighing, Lee puts down the spoon and takes the gift from her grasp. Slowly he unwraps it and opens the lid. On peering inside, he pulls out a pair of silver cufflinks.
‘They’re lovely Lucy, but what’s the occasion?’
‘Don’t tell me you don’t know what today is?’
‘Worship your husband day?’
‘It’s Valentine’s Day.’
‘Oh,’ Lee replies and then goes back to eating his cereal.
‘Is that it? “Oh”.’
‘Come on, Lucy. Valentine’s Day is just a commercial exploitation ploy to make couples waste a load of money on pointless tokens of affection and for single people to end up in a depressed, diabetic, alcoholic coma. I could achieve all that with one night of losing bets on the Grand National.’
‘It’s a day you can express your feelings to the person you love.’
‘And what’s wrong with the other 364 days?’
‘Go on then. Tell me. What’s the most romantic thing you’ve given a girl for Valentine’s Day?’
‘That’s not romantic.’
‘It would be if you saw the price they charged me for it.’
‘Lee. A tyre is not romantic. It’s practical.’
‘I was thinking practically about her safety. How would I have forgiven myself if something happened to her when she was driving?’
‘How old were you both?’
‘She was sixteen and I was seventeen.’
‘She wasn’t even legal to drive.’
‘Not to drive, no.’
‘Do you have a romantic bone in your body?’
‘I was romantic last week.’
‘Offering to help me do the washing while playing with your tackle does not constitute as a romantic gesture.’
‘I was trying to be a gentleman.’
‘As much as I appreciated it, I think I can wash myself when having a shower.’
‘I can be romantic.’
‘Prove to me that you can be romantic.’
‘I don’t know. Why don’t you use that brain of yours.’
‘I do. Nightly.’
‘Not that one. How about trying something you haven’t done before.’
Lee sighs and goes to stand. ‘I’m going to get dressed.’
‘I get changed everyday, Lucy.’
‘Not before mid-day you don’t.’
Lee simply huffs at her comment and walks off into their bedroom, leaving Lucy to stand there with a smile on her face.
Lee finds himself once again at his local with a comforting pint in one hand,
his other playing with the beer mat, when Tim walks in.
‘What are you doing in here?’ Tim asks. ‘Or is your Valentine’s gift allowing Lucy time by herself?’
‘Don’t you start.’
‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘Lucy doesn’t think I can be romantic.’
‘So? That’s true isn’t it?’
‘I can be romantic when I want to be.’
‘What did you used to get your ex-girlfriend?’
‘And what were they?’
‘A flower symbolic of death. Good choice.’
‘And happened to be her favourite.’ Tim glances at Lee with a lifting of the eyebrows. ‘All right, so I had to cut through a graveyard on the way to her house. It was the thought that counts.’
‘That’s the problem Lee. When it comes to you, no thought is required.’
‘They also symbolise purity, I have you know.’
‘Your girlfriend wasn’t pure.’
‘Well she wasn’t by the time I finished with her.’
‘With charm like that, who needs poetry?’
‘I can do poetry.’
‘Go on then.’
Lee looks about him, struggling to come up with even one simple sentence. ‘There is a young woman called Lucy, who is not particularly choosey. Her eyes are like two pools of blue, that melt me like glue…’
‘A real Casanova. Move out of the way Shakespeare, Lee is coming through.’
‘Okay smart arse, I’d like to see you try.’
‘Erm…Roses are red, violets are blue, I just want to make love to you.’
At that precise moment, a barman walks past with empty glasses in his hands and gazes at Tim peculiarly before walking away.
‘You see, it’s not that easy. Valentine’s Day is just a load of bollocks anyway.’
‘Lee, it is one festival where you can express your feelings and commitment and your appreciation of who they are to the person you love.’
‘I could do all that with a quick shag during the commercials.’
‘You really do have the morals of a hormonal teenager.’
‘I’m not the one who thought a cock ring was something a chicken was kept in.’
‘I lead a sheltered life.’
‘Yes, all the way up to your 26th birthday. Even that stripper didn’t work. I’d admit it would have been better if the 30-year-old woman called Bella didn’t turn out to be a 40-year-old man called Bob.’
‘If I ever get married, remind me never to let you organise my stag night.’
‘Come on then. How can I show Lucy I can be romantic?’
‘You can try doing the washing for once.’
‘I tried. She told me to get out the bathroom and put some clothes on.’
‘You could give her flowers.’
‘Yes, but this time get her a bunch from a florist. Not ones that have either been stolen from a graveyard, lamppost or taken from a hospital bedside where the patient had his eyes bandaged up.’
‘He could still smell them.’
‘Only because Lucy was in the bed next to him with a broken arm.’
‘I don’t know, flowers seem so boring. I want to do something special.’
‘How about cooking her a candlelit dinner?’
‘I wouldn’t know where to start.’
‘Follow a recipe. Just remember one thing about the oven.’
‘I don’t know. What if I burn the meal?’
‘You could always take her out.’
‘That seems a bit harsh. There’s no need to kill her over a bit of burnt meat.’
‘I meant take her out to a restaurant.’
‘Then there’s the hassle in choosing what to wear.’
‘I guess it doesn’t matter as long as it’s clean.’
‘What do you take me for Tim? I do have some standards you know. I can dress for the occasion.’
‘Says the man who once wore the same outfit three times in a row to three separate dates.’
‘Why change something that works?’
‘The only time you washed it was when you dropped tomato ketchup down the front.’
‘My theory is: if it doesn’t smell, therefore it’s clean.’
‘I wondered what the smell was.’
‘Anyway, it’ll be too late to book a table now. Everywhere will be full. I’ll just have to try and wing it and hope Lucy doesn’t make me sleep on the sofa again.’
‘You mean suck it and see?’
‘That’s how I ended up on the sofa.’
Lee goes to put
the key in the lock and pushes the door open to reveal a barely clad Lucy
standing in front of him.
‘Bloody hell! Have I just walked into Ann Summers?’
There, standing a few feet in front of him is Lucy, clad in a red and black lacy Cami Suspender accompanied by black fish net stockings and topped off with red kitten heels.
‘Why are you dressed like that?’ Lee asks.
‘I’m going to do a bit of moonlighting. Why do you think?’
‘I know you’re on the look out for new clients, but isn’t this taking it a step too far?’
‘I’m not trying to re-enact a scene from Pretty Woman.’
‘That’s true. You’re no Julia Roberts.’
‘And you’re no Richard Gere. For one, he’s romantic.’
‘You’re not still going on about that are you?’ Lee moans as he chucks his jacket onto the sofa and makes his way into the kitchen, pulls open the fridge and grabs a can of beer.
‘I wouldn’t have to if you showed a bit more appreciation towards me.’
Lee’s eyes caress her up and down, taking in all that’s before him. ‘I’m showing my appreciation now.’
‘I see no evidence.’
‘Give it a chance, it’s building up to it,’ Lee adds as he gazes towards his crotch.
‘Tim doesn’t have a problem.’
‘Yes he does. It’s called Daisy.’
‘He doesn’t have a problem with being romantic.’
‘We all know how in touch with his effeminate side Tim can be.’
‘At least he has a soft side.’
‘I have a soft side too, but I prefer to sit down on mine.’ Lee smiles and pushes past her with beer in hand. He slouches on the sofa and switches on the television.
‘God, you’re impossible.’ Lucy throws her arms in the air as she follows him in.
‘That wasn’t a compliment. I thought marriage would change you…change us, but it hasn’t.’
‘That’s not true. This time we have sex.’
‘If you carry on the way you are, sex will be off the menu. Is this what you’re going to do for the rest of the day?’
‘What can be more romantic than a quiet night in with your loved one?’
‘There’s no way I’m staying in watching people getting shot and cars being blown up.’
‘I was talking about the beer.’
‘That’s it, I’m going out,’ and with that, Lucy grabs her coat and storms out the front door, slamming it behind her. However, a few seconds later and she returns.
‘That was quick,’ Lee says as he looks up from the television.
‘I’m going to change first,’ Lucy replies as she walks off into her bedroom.
yells as he bangs on the front door.
Once Lucy had left, Lee immediately picked up the phone and rang Tim’s mobile, but it went straight to voicemail. He then tried his landline, but that rang out. Giving up, he decided to go round to his friend’s house instead.
After a few more attempts at banging the door down, it finally opens to reveal Tim dressed in a Tarzan loincloth outfit, holding a plastic spear and wearing a brown dreadlocks wig.
‘I should have brought some bananas.’
‘What are you doing here?’
‘I came looking for Jane.’ Tim crosses his arms. ‘Why are you dressed like that? I thought you and Daisy were going out for the day.’
‘We decided to stay in.’
‘Is it a swingers’ party?’
‘What do you want Lee?’
‘I was going to ask you for some advice, but I think I’ll pass.’
‘You could have used the phone.’
‘I did but I couldn’t get through. The signal must be terrible in the jungle.’
‘Either ask what you want to or go away. I’m busy.’
‘I guess those tree houses don’t build themselves. I need your help to get a few things for tonight.’
‘I’m planning on cooking Lucy dinner but I need you to hunt the woolly mammoth.’
‘Go away, Lee.’ Tim goes to shut the door in his face, but Lee sticks his foot in the way.
‘Come on Tim, I really need your help. Lucy has put me in the dog house.’
‘She should have tied you up.’
‘She’s saving that for later.’
‘Tim, have you got the whipped cream yet?’ Daisy calls, shortly followed by her appearance. ‘Oh, hello Lee.’
‘Daisy.’ Lee’s eyebrows crease inwards as he gazes up and down her choice of outfit. ‘And you’re meant to be…?’
‘I told her to dress up as Jane,’ Tim comments.
Daisy is once again dressed in a regency outfit topped off with a pale blue bonnet.
‘I meant Jane as in Tarzan and Jane, not Jane Austen.’
‘Am I dreaming or have I just walked onto the set of a bizarre porn movie?’ adds Lee.
‘It was Tim’s idea. He wanted to broaden our horizons by acting out our fantasies.’
‘Dare I ask what your favourite fantasy is, Daisy?’
‘Ooo, that’s a hard one.’
‘I’m sure Tim will be happy to play that one out for you.’
‘I do love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.’
‘Now I know what the whipped cream is for.’
‘Right,’ Tim interjects. ‘I’ll help, but we’ve got to be quick.’
‘Is that what you say to Daisy?’
appreciate you agreeing to help me shop, but when you said be quick, I didn’t
expect you to walk out of your house in your Tarzan get up and a trench coat.’ Lee glances towards his mate as they stand in
an aisle of Tescos. ‘You look like you’re
wearing nothing under that.’
‘I wouldn’t even be here if you had already planned something for Lucy.’
‘I don’t know what’s worse. You looking like an oversized baby of Del Boy’s or that I’ve got this unnerving feeling you’re about to flash anyone who walks by.’
‘Can we please just get on with it?’ Tim snatches the list from Lee’s grasp.
‘Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to grab?’
‘Yes, unlike yours Lee, who taught you to run afterwards.’
‘What’s first on the list?’
‘How am I meant to read this? A five-year-old could do better.’
‘Next time I won’t write it in crayon. Give it here.’ Tim hands it back over. ‘Right. Steak. Where is that?’
‘In the vegetable aisle?’
‘Just push the trolley and guide me in the right direction.’
‘What is this? Supermarket Sweep?’
‘If it were, I’d stay clear of the sausages.’
‘What are you planning on cooking anyway?’
‘Steak, sautéed potatoes and some green beans with a red wine sauce.’
‘Get you, Jamie Oliver.’
‘I know some kids who’d like to. Eating chips at my school never did me any harm.’
‘Didn’t you once end up in detention for throwing a potato at the cook?’
‘I was making sure it was hard boiled.’
‘I seriously do worry what goes on in that head of yours.’
‘I’m not the one who looks like an extra from George of the Jungle.’
‘Let’s get on with this shall we?’
‘Blimey! I didn’t realise there’d be so many,’ states Lee as he eyes up the arrangement of steak types on offer. ‘How am I going to choose?’
‘I’m not filling the trolley with all that meat!’
‘It’s a tenderloin,’ Tim sighs.
‘It is when Lucy strokes it.’
‘Is there nothing you can’t turn into a joke?’
‘It’s like verbal diarrhoea. When it’s on a flow there’s no stopping it.’
‘That’s disgusting. What my sister sees in you, I do not know.’
‘Must be my ready made wit and irresistible good looks.’
‘How about sirloin?’
‘You can call me that if you want, but I don’t think Lucy will agree to it.’
‘Just grab something.’
‘Oooo cheeky.’ Lee’s eyes scale up and down Tim’s person. ‘There’s a time and a place, Tim.’
‘Yes. Tomorrow and away from you.’
Lee reaches in and pulls out a pack of two filet steaks and chucks them into the trolley. ‘They’ll do. Now where?’
‘Onto the frozen goods.’
‘Which yours will be if we’re out for much longer.’ They start to walk off into the next section. ‘Oh, I need you to do me a favour.’
‘I’m not buying you condoms.’
‘There are some things I can do myself, thank you Tim.’
‘Washing not being one of them.’
‘I need you to invite Lucy over to yours later.’
‘I need her out the flat so I can get things ready.’
‘You mean so you can cook dinner?’
‘No, so I can get out my gimp mask and leather straps. Of course dinner.’
‘With you Lee, there’s no knowing what you may get up to.’
‘As long as they don’t involve your fantasies I can say I am safe.’
‘Fine, but you owe me for this.’
‘Deal. Now let’s get a meal Lucy will die for.’
‘For your sake, it better not be food poisoning.’
ready ready, let’s get ready ready, let’s get ready to rumble.”
Lee is at the counter chopping up the potatoes and scrapes them into a pot to boil. He also seasons the two steaks ready to put onto the grill.
“I’m too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it hurts.”
He stands in front of the bedroom mirror admiring his choice of crisp white linen shirt and his smartest navy denim jeans.
“Burn baby burn…Burn baby burn.”
The pots are boiling over and Lee rushes around to turn them down while lifting the lids. He then notices that the steaks have somehow caught alight and threatening to become cremated. He yanks out the tray and shoves it in the sink.
“Don’t give up, please don’t give up.”
The steak is burning away in the background why Lee finally succumbs to the efforts of cooking a meal for Lucy and is now sitting on the floor with his back against the counter. He downs the tumbler of whiskey in his hand and then goes to pick up the phone. With his other hand, he lifts up the takeaway menu for Deliverance.
‘Hello. I’d like to order a set meal for two please.’
As soon as Lucy walks through the door, her ears are caressed by the romantic melody of a saxophone. She takes a breath and gets a whiff of a raspberry scent and when she casts her eyes downwards, she sees a pathway of red petals scattered across the floor leading all the way up to Lee, who is standing there in his white shirt with the top few buttons undone and navy jeans. In one hand he is holding a bunch of stems.
‘Is this for me?’ Lucy asks as she places her bag on the floor and makes her way over to him.
‘I’m actually waiting for Julia Roberts to walk through the door. She’s entertaining the man upstairs first.’
‘And his wife doesn’t mind?’
‘She’s joining in.’
‘What are they?’ she asks eyeing up the stems in his hands.
‘I suppose they were once upon a time. Is that where the petals came from?’
‘The “she loves me, she loves me not” game got out of hand.’
‘I see you managed to pull apart a dozen roses.’
‘I didn’t like how the game ended.’
‘I see one petal has managed to cling on.’
‘You can pick that one,’ and he pushes it towards her. With a smile, Lucy reaches up a hand and plucks the remaining one.
‘She loves you,’ she whispers and lets the delicate object float towards her feet.
‘Lee, that was delicious. I never knew you could cook.’ She places her knife and fork down on her
plate and takes a sip of her wine.
‘It was nothing.’
‘You must give me the recipe some time.’
‘It’s an old family secret.’
‘I thought your family existed on bread, water and anything that came in a can. So come on, what’s the secret.’
‘If at first you don’t succeed, give up and order a takeaway.’
‘I should have known. The clues were there.’
‘It tasted good for a start.’
‘I could have easily whipped that up.’
‘The only Italian dish you’ve whipped up is a pot noodle.’
‘So? Have I proven myself?’
‘Hmmm, you’re no Gino D'Acampo, but you’ve proven you know how the shower works and that you can navigate my CD collection.’
‘I can show you how I can navigate your wardrobe later.’
‘Thank you, Lee.’ She leans forward and places a quick kiss on his lips. ‘You can be romantic if you put your mind to it. Happy Valentine’s Day.’ With smiles, they lean into each other for a more passionate kiss.
‘You know,’ Lee pulls away slightly. ‘The saxophone isn’t the only thing that can produce harmonious sounds when blown.’