Nancy and Dale now revealed back home. Dale was seated and watching Nancy, who was on her feet, fuming, her boisterous personal encounter with Richard, responsible.
“Tell me!” She snapped for Dale’s undivided attention. She had no need for all that effort. She did not know she already had all Dale’s attention in the first place. “Who does he think he is?” Nancy went ahead to snap again. She was not yet done. “He talks as if he feeds the whole world. So what if he gives us plenty of money?”
Dale offered no verbal response as he believed Nancy was just fretting over trifles that would do her no good. The non-verbal response he gave was to yawn, a yawn full of callousness that obviously got Nancy feeling disappointed. She threw a glance at Dale in return, anger on the verge of getting the better of her.
“Silence is what I get?” She said. “Dale, sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with you.”
“No need to go wondering because I’m sound.”
Dale sprang up from his seat. The way he stood up was so abrupt, as if his buttocks were stung by fierce bees desperately looking to attack a bear that had stolen their honey. Dale now strode hands akimbo, and puffed out his chest for Nancy to see, in his bid to make a point. “I’m sound,” he said. “You see it?” Dale got seated again.
“His guts irritated me,” Nancy uttered, choosing to ignore Dale’s little theatrics.
“What the hell are you saying?”
“Can you imagine that so-called man of games telling me to my face that he can get any woman he desires?” Dale laughed before he spoke in return.
Now Nancy could not help but explode in anger. She felt Dale had placed laughter where it should not.
“Wake up, Dale!” She screamed. “This is not something to be taken lightly!”
“He will never top playing games.”
“Then tell him to keep his games away from me! Can you imagine the implication of what he said? He meant he can have me if he desires.” Nancy sauntered for a while, stopped and continued. “I’ve never been so insulted. Please, Dale, tell him to keep a lengthy distance from me.”
“That game player is my meal ticket.”
“Who cares?” Nancy’s retort was quite loud. She then went on to scream. “He can be your soul as well.”
“He is, as you can see.”
“I don’t care!”
“Stop screaming like a rock star.”
“You know what I’ve found out about that game player?”
“What is it, darling?”
“Give that game player a chance to take just a step and he will go a mile before you know it.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I know you don’t believe me.”
“Why should I?”
“Stop being supportive of his dirty acts. Allow reason to prevail.”
“Oh…Why are you being so harsh, Nancy? What evil has my meal ticket really done to you?”
“Don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy the drinks and the wonderful atmosphere his presence provided.”
“Relax. Everything is fine. Stop sounding alarm bells.”
“Everything is not fine because I know his next move will be to ask me out.”
Dale laughed in response and gazed at Nancy as if she were Nostradamus, the man that saw tomorrow. “Since when did you start seeing tomorrow?” Dale said in response after laughing. He got to his feet and went to Nancy, and patted her shoulders in an attempt to calm her down. “Come on,” he urged. “Nothing can go wrong.”
Though Nancy got pacified, she still had flickers of doubt in her mind, as she went with Dale for a seat.
“My instincts are never wrong, Dale,” she said gently, in a tone so low, but far from being a whisper. “Shut him out before his games erode what we have,” she said, after she and Dale got seated, her mind heavy with concern. But Dale was not a man to be convinced that Richard was bad omen. He rather saw Richard as a heaven-sent Messiah whose mission was his redemption from life’s horrible hardships. To Dale, Nancy was just wasting her time, trying to paint Richard as a wolf in sheep clothing, and as red juicy carrot whose interior was nothing but a twig full of thorns and prickles.
“Don’t say that, Nancy,” his defence of Richard emerged. “That is not the picture I see,” he ended in a slow soothing calm tone that instantly began to dissolve the remaining wax of doubt that had built up in Nancy, who was now beginning to despise all voices of her instincts that had all along painted Richard in bad light, and branded him a scoundrel. And this was when Dale had flaunted some money after quickly reaching into his pocket. Nancy was awed as she caught sight of the money. Her heart was also, so carried away that it almost forgot to make its next beat. It was a case of never show the poor so much money, so you do not end up distracting their hearts from carrying out their duties. Nancy couldn’t believe her eyes the more, as Dale flaunted the money with all pride, with a broad smile on his face. A smile that was only a brick-wall strong enough, to push away anybody who would dare to tell him Richard did not mean good.
“You see it?” He said to Nancy, who had remained speechless, as she wallowed in awe. “This is five thousand pounds. This is the picture. More of this is in the future.”
“He gave you that today?” Nancy recovered to say.
“Who else? You can’t imagine I picked it up in the streets. Can you? It’s all about staying in the game.”
The phrase, staying in the game, got Nancy to smile for the first time since her encounter with Richard.
“That is so nice of him anyway, but I still think he went too far by speaking belittling words to me.”
Dale’s initial response was that he kissed Nancy on her forehead before he said, “You leave that to me. I can assure you that it will never occur again. That man is full of mind-blowing acts.” He kissed Nancy’s forehead again and went on to say, “He was just kidding.”
Dale smiled at Nancy like lovers do. Nancy smiled back like lover’s do too. And a hug ensued, which Rooney, carrying his ball, saw in effect, as he entered. He watched his parents unnoticed for a while, though with some discomfort, until he finally decided he had seen enough, and invited distraction by coughing, as if nature had called him to do it. He succeeded. His parents quickly realised that they had been wrong by thinking all the while that they were all alone in the world. Rooney the intruder left them with no choice than to perform the task of disentangling. Loosening up deprived them of some warmth they both nurtured while the tight hug was on. Both Dale and Nancy now turned to Rooney.
“Rooney, you’re back,” said Nancy.
“And for how long did you watch the show?” Dale asked Rooney.
“Don’t tell me you saw no exciting show. Your Mother and I hugging.”
Nancy laughed in response. “Give the boy a break, Dale,” she said, and took two steps towards Rooney.
“I’ve not told you the recent news from Katy. You remember her, Rooney?”
“I do,” Rooney replied with a flash of quick interest. “What’s that?” He hurriedly asked.
“She sent words.”
“Is she married?” Dale queried. His question got Rooney half tensed up, his breathing laboured, though not obvious for easy discovery. He could not wait to hear from his Mother. He very much dreaded the very thing he did not want to hear.
“No,” Nancy’s reply came. Rooney got relieved a little. Only a little because Nancy was not that quick in disclosing the message, as her suspicious stares crawled from Rooney’s head to his toes.
“Are you getting worried, Rooney?” she said.
“For what? I’m just fine.”
“Fine. Here is the good news. Katy is engaged.”
Rooney just wilted like a flower that had lacked the treat of water for so long. But Dale thought it was great gist, and sought to know the man that got Katy to commit. And life was beginning to be dark, to lack fun, form, void and meaning, as far as Rooney was concerned. Spurts of anger drove him before he knew it, to smashing his ball hard on the floor before striding away. Neither Dale nor Nancy understood Rooney’s reaction. They simple stood, wondering what had triggered it. Nancy turned to Dale after a short while.
“Did you see that?” She began. “Each time he doesn’t get picked up by a scout he puts up a wrong attitude.”
“Well, chances are there is still a chance that he will get picked for Manchester united.”
“Not with that losers’ attitude.”
“Did you say Katy is getting married?” Dale asked and yawned. He yawned again.
“Engaged. I’m worried about Rooney.”
“You may keep doing that while I find time to savour the fortunes that have come my way for staying in the game.” Nancy watched Dale get up and yawn again.
“Who yawns more?” She asked Dale. “You or dogs?”
Dale’s response could not be audible at all, for the surrounding faded at once, for a cascading descent of voices in a new setting that came to be Katy’s home.
“So this is it? You finally decided to push me out?”
“It’s so clear what you want is never going to work out between us.”
“So this is it? Why are you doing this to me? Playing with my heart.”
“Nobody is playing with anybody’s heart. Just accept the reality about the two of us and start moving on.”
“Reality is what we make it.”
“Rooney, there is no us, Okay?”
“I love you, Katy.”
“Yes. Feel free to exercise your privilege to love me, but what I beg of you is to . . . .”
Katy who stood face to face with Rooney paused. She then held her head in thought, and took three steps away from Rooney. “I think it’s now time for you to leave,” she continued, took her hands off her head, and went closer to Rooney, picked up his right hand, and started pulling him away. But Rooney resisted, snapped his hand free, and looked at Katy in the eye. He badly needed what he could do to get the engagement ring off Katy’s finger, and replace it with his. He asked Katy what that would be.
“This boy is funny,” said Katy, who laughed before she continued. “I admire your courage anyway. Why me? Millions of other women exist in this world. Take your pick.”
“You’re the one I love and I’ve always known it.”
“Come on, Rooney. I see a future Barclays English premiership star when I look at you. You will have enough of very young women ready to do anything just to have you.”
“No way, Katy.”
“Just let me be!”
“I will not miss out on you, Katy.”
Katy brandished the ring on her finger with a smile, in response.
“That ring will not stop me. I feel it deep inside me.”
“Stop treading on a path that will leave you hurting.”
“I will not miss out on you, Katy.”
Katy picked up Rooney’s hand again and began to pull him away.
“Mummy must be expecting you back home now. Don’t you think so?” Katy said, as Rooney gently followed her, shaking his head in the process, while he uttered, “I will not miss out on you”, again and again.