I haven’t posted anything for a few weeks – and to be honest I wrote this story a little while ago for a local writers group. It had to contain the line “I can’t believe he said that!” However, I think it still fits with this weeks topic ” Write about a misunderstanding between three people.”
It is a bit different in genre from my usual stuff – slightly chick lit – but don’t let that put you off !!!!
Here we go then:
“I can’t believe he said that.”
Julie looked at Carol, knowing full well that whatever she said in reply was going to begin a one sided conversation, with Carol taking the opportunity to go off on one of her rants.
Carol stared at her, demanding a response.
Julie gave in. “Who?” she said, trying to be as non-confrontational as possible.
“You know who,” snapped Carol.
“Well, to be honest, I don’t. You could mean Gordon Brown, George Bush or the Dali Lama for all I know.”
“Don’t be stupid. I hate it when you are trying to be smart. Why can’t you just have a normal conversation?”
“I wasn’t trying to be smart,” said Julie. “Just tell me who you are talking about and then we can start the conversation.” Although she already had a fair idea who was going to be the brunt of Carol’s verbal tirade.
“James of course.”
“Oh, why didn’t you say so?” James was Carol’s new boyfriend. They had been going out together for a month and gave the impression that they were totally loved up. In fact this evening was the first time Carol had come out to the pub alone since James had appeared on the scene. But there was always the chance he was going to turn up later to join them.
Julie thought she better clarify the situation. “So what did he say?”
Carol took a large gulp of her Sauvignon Blanc and sat forward so she could speak more directly to Julie.
“Well, yesterday,” Carol started, “We were walking in town together and I went to cross the road. Of course I was looking at James instead of at the traffic. I had only stepped out off the kerb when this maniac in one of those stupid little two-seater town cars nearly mows me down. I mean she must have driven straight at me. Well I jumped back of course and I must have just got out the road, but she hit my handbag.”
Carol paused for effect and to take another gulp of wine. She was doing her best to look distressed but Julie was having none of it, she has seen it all before. Before Julie could say anything, Carol carried on where she had stopped.
“So I yelled at the bitch, but she just kept on going and ignored me. Well, I was raging and when I looked at James he was just laughing. That made me even more annoyed, so I shouted at him ‘Why didn’t you stop me stepping out?’. And do you know what he said?”
“No, I don’t know what he said,” sighed Julie.
“Well, you won’t believe this. He said, and I quote, ‘If I wanted to get rid of you, I would get more sympathy shags if you were knocked down and killed than I would if I just dumped you.’”
Julie was taking a sip of her wine at that point, but she spluttered it out as she tried to stop laughing.
“What are you laughing at?” demanded Carol. “It isn’t funny. He either wants to dump me, but would prefer it if I died so he could shag his way through the funeral party!”
It took Julie another minute and a few paper handkerchiefs to wipe up the wine she had spluttered on to the table before she regained her composure.
“Well, I think you are taking it too seriously. He didn’t say he wanted to dump you, and I sure he isn’t going to push you under a bus.”
Carol sat back in her chair, obviously distressed by the fact Julie couldn’t see the enormity of her predicament. “Don’t you see? I’ll need to watch my back all the time now. All it would take is a slight tap of my ankles when I least expect it and I would be squashed under the wheels of a number 13 bus. He doesn’t want me as his long term lover and life partner. He wants to get in the pants of all my friends, and getting me killed by a number 13 bus is the ideal way for it to happen. I mean, sympathy shags. Who would ever do that?”
“Do you not think you are being a bit melodramatic? I mean, it was just a turn of phrase. I’m sure he really likes you and has no plans for sending you to an early date with the devil under the wheels of a bus. You two seem to be getting on like a house on fire, and I assume he doesn’t have any need for sympathy shagging, does he? From what I can gather you have been at it like the Duracell bunny for the last three weeks. He can’t have any energy left for sympathy shags!” Julie tried to make it sound like Carol was being, well she was being Carol. James is not the first boy she has had a seemingly fabulous first month with before finding some random reason to think he has ulterior motives and then dumping them. But murderous tendencies is a first, even in Carol’s weird and wonderful repertoire.
Carol looked hurt by the suggestion that she was reading too much in to a single comment. “But there have been other things, now that I think about it.”
Julie knew that random connections were about to be made, and Carol would now believe every date for the last three weeks had some element of James trying to plot her path down a slippery slope to an early grave. She gave in again. It was going to be too much hard work to stop the juggernaut that is Carol’s imagination once she is in this mood. “What kind of other things?” she said, immediately regretting it and wishing she had made a dash for the toilets at that point.
Carol leaned forward again, as if to bring Julie in to her confidence. “Well thinking about it, last week we were in a pub that we don’t usually go to. It was a bit rough, lots of shady looking characters and they didn’t even know what a white wine spritzer was. I ask you, some places just haven’t come out the dark ages. Anyway, we had a drink and he wanted to play pool. So he went over and asked they guys who were playing, and it all seemed fine. He kind of ignored me but he kept chatting to the guys at the pool table and they kept looking over and laughing at me. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so vulnerable. I mean, they all had skinheads and tattoos. So when he had his game of pool he came back over to me and I said I wanted to go. He said fine, but he had to take care of a bit of business with these guys. He went back over and I could see him take his wallet out his pocket and hand over a big wad of cash to the toughest looking one. They then both looked over at me and smiled and nodded.”
Carol took another gulp of wine, finishing her glass off, but Julie could tell from her eyes that she was not to be interrupted and the story would go on.
“So James came back over and I asked him what that was all about. He just said he was buying the services of one of the guys and it was nothing to worry about.” Carol was now speaking very quietly and Julie had to lean forward to hear her. “I think he was taking a contract out on me.”
Julie tried hard to keep a straight face. “What do you mean a contract?”
“You know, a hit. He’s going to have me killed.”
“Oh, come on now,” Said Julie, trying to bring the conversation back to reality. “You think he has taken out a contract for someone to kill you just so he can get in the pants of all your friends for a sympathy shag? I really don’t think so. Anyway, I would shag him if he asked, even if you are still alive.” Julie decided to get mischievous.
Carol thumped her empty glass on the table, attracting the attention of the other drinkers nearby. Her face was turning a beautiful shade of red with rage. “I can’t believe you said that. How dare you…”
“Woah, woah,” said Julie, holding her hands up and smiling, trying to defuse the situation that her misplaced humour had got them in to. “I’m only joking, just trying to bring you back to reality. I mean, do you really think that goes on in this day and age?”
They sat in silence for a minute trying to work out what to say next. Julie took a brave pill and went first.
“So are you going to dump him then?”
Carol looked shocked. “Dump him, you must be joking. I’m having the best sex I’ve had in ages, he keeps buying me dinner, taking me out to the theatre. He’s so lovely.”
Julie sighed. Carol was so fickle, but she had grown used to that over the years. She was debating whether or not to ask when she was going to meet Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde when it was answered for her.
Carol’s mobile phone rang and her face lit up. “Hi honey,” she gushed. “Your coming over, that’s great. You can meet Julie, she’s dying to meet you.” Julie thought there was a little too much emphasis on the word ‘dying’. “Ok darling, see you shortly.”
So I guess I’m going to meet him now then? I thought this was going to be just us tonight?” said Julie.
“I know, honey, but he is in town and I so want you to meet him. He is just around the corner and will be here in a minute.” Carol’s mood had now changed to one like a schoolgirl going on a date with her first love. She delved in to her enormous handbag and started to apply various layers of make-up and lipstick.
Julie looked on in amusement. “So should I keep an eye out for anything in particular. Perhaps him dropping a potion in to your glass when you’re not looking, or see if he has a concealed weapon about his person?”
“Don’t be silly. I was probably just imagining it all. Just be yourself, I’m sure he will love you too, and I hope you like him.” Carol had locked her gaze on the door, waiting for James to make his appearance. Julie imagined him making a grand entrance with a spooky cape billowing behind him, a freezing cold wind blowing through the door as he stood there, laughing his best Dracula laugh.
Julie followed Carol’s gaze as her face lit up with a smile as bright as a super nova. Julie was taken aback. Walking through the door was the most handsome, debonaire and frankly shaggable, man she had seen in her life. He stood there in the door looking for Carol (well he was actually pausing to let everyone in the bar realise he had arrived), his six foot two frame blocking out the glare from the street lights beyond. He was wearing a long grey dogtooth pattern coat cut perfectly to match his frame. His dark trousers were the perfect length, and he had on shiny, expensive looking loafers. Having worked her way up, Julie now sat with her mouth agape at his drop dead gorgeous face. His strong chin, perfect nose, and piercingly blue eyes were complemented by his dark hair, which was neither too short or too long. He was gorgeous.
Carol stood up and waved towards him. He smiled back, and Julie almost went in to her handbag for her sunglasses. His smile was dazzlingly white – straight from a toothpaste commercial.
He acknowledged her wave with a nod and started coming towards them. Julie just about found enough strength in her legs to stand up to greet him as well. Carol couldn’t wait and almost ran towards him, clasping him in a bear hug so tight you would have thought she hadn’t seen him for five years. They exchanged lingering kisses before Carol remembered they were in a public place and her friend Julie was watching with her mouth open in astonishment that Carol had pulled such a fantastic looking guy.
Carol led him to their table, and James immediately held Julie by the shoulders and kissed her on both cheeks, continental style. “You must be Julie,” he said, stating the obvious.
“Well if I’m not, I sure would be happy to be her if that’s how you greet all the girls you meet for the first time.” Julie couldn’t believe she had just come out with such a flirtatious line. She caught Carol giving her dagger eyes so she sat down before her legs collapsed from under her.
“So ladies, can I get you another drink?” His voice sounded just husky enough to give off an air of confident sexuality, as if the rest of him wasn’t enough.
Carol was keen to have cocktails, but Julie was worried she would lose the ability to control her mind and start to make a fool of herself in front of this dreamboat of a guy.
“Oh, come on,” insisted Carol. “Let James buy you a drink, I’m sure he would be offended if you refused.”
Julie relented, ordered a cosmopolitan and James headed off to the bar.
“Well, what do you think?” asked Carol, already knowing what the answer was going to be.
“Bloody hell, he’s gorgeous. How could you ever think he had an ounce of badness in him. If I was you, I wouldn’t let this one out of your sight.”
“I don’t intend to. Oh, by the way, forget all that rubbish I was talking about earlier, I was just blowing off steam.”
“Okay, enough said.”
James came back to the table and they all took a sip of their drink before indulging in small talk. Julie was beginning to get some of her confidence back and was feeling more comfortable talking with the two of them, even though Carol was draped provocatively over James and obviously hanging on every word he said. She was laughing a bit too loud and a bit too often, thought Julie. She better watch she doesn’t over play the doting girlfriend bit or he’ll get bored with her.
Carol announced quite matter-of-factly that she was going to the loo, and she instructed Julie to stay with James to make sure no other ‘vultures’ came to try to pick him up.
As Carol left, James smiled at Julie and said, “So what were you two talking about before I came along.”
Julie tried her best not to melt under the glare of the million watt smile. “Oh, nothing much. You know, girly stuff.”
“I always like to hear the girly stuff – it’s much more interesting than talking about football or rugby.”
‘Oh my god,’ thought Julie, this guy is really too good to be true. She decided to chance her arm.
“Actually, Carol told me a couple of disturbing thing about you.”
James was taken aback by this. “Disturbing? What do you mean? I’ve never been called ‘disturbing’ before!”
“Well, she told me about the comment you made about sympathy shags when she nearly got run over by the car, and then there was the episode in the pub with the pool table. She is convinced you were handing over money to put a contract to get her killed so you could get a load of sympathy shags.” Julie kept as straight a face as she could.
James looked at her intently, clearly disturbed by the way the conversation had gone. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he said. “You mean she thinks I’ve got it in for her and I’m going to get her knocked off so that I can get sympathy shags from every girl in town, including you, by the way.”
Julie could feel the blood rising in her cheeks as he looked directly in to her eyes. She wasn’t sure if she had just been propositioned, but she decided to play it cool. “Yes she does, and frankly I’m inclined to believe her unless you can tell me differently?”
“Well, firstly, I could have any girl in town if I wanted, I don’t need sympathy to get a shag. And secondly, the guy in the pub had offered me a knocked off plasma screen telly for cash, so I bought it and told them I wanted it delivered to Carol’s house. That’s why I came here tonight, to let her know it is turning up tomorrow.”
Julie laughed, trying not to feel like a complete idiot, and thankfully James joined in the laughter too.
“What are you two finding so funny then?” asked Carol as she walked towards the table.
James and Julie looked each other in the eye and implicitly agreed not to disclose the content of their conversation.
“Nothing dear,” James said, smiling at Carol and giving her his best flirting stare.
Maybe it was the look in his eyes that distracted Carol, because she didn’t notice that her silk scarf had fallen on the floor in front of her. As she went to lean forward to kiss James, she stepped on the scarf. Her weight, the silk and the polished floor combined to make her foot slip viscously backwards, sending her sprawling forward headlong towards the table. With a sickening thud, her head hit the edge of the table and she flopped to the floor unconscious.
“Bloody hell,” shouted James, impressively taking charge of the situation, a fact nor missed by Julie who was standing helpless over the prostrate Carol. “Quick, phone an ambulance,” he shouted to the bar staff. He bent down over Carol and moved her to the recovery position, checking her pulse and breathing.
“You look as though you know what you’re doing,” said Julie lamely.
“Spent two years in the army a while back, the basics never leave you,” he said without taking his eyes off Carol.
One of the bar staff had brought some ice and a towel, which James expertly applied to the large bump that was forcing it’s way out Carol’s forehead. He nodded to Julie, “Here, keep this on her, gently not too hard.” Julie had to put her hand on top of James’s to keep the ice in place and she felt he left his hand there just a little too long, enjoying the contact. They looked at each other, and gave each other a shy smile.
“So what was that you said about me trying to get rid of her?” asked James jokingly.
“Well this is a bit drastic, but not quite at the sympathy stage quite yet.”
“I’m sure she’ll be fine,” he said as Carol began to come round, making small groaning noises.
Julie became aware of a couple of ambulance men at her side, and James told them what had happened. The two of them stood up and watched in silence as the ambulance men got Carol on a stretcher with a head brace and wheeled her out to the ambulance.
James turned to Julie, “ I better go with her, otherwise she will think I planned it all to do away with her.”
Julie just nodded. “Yes, I think that would be good. I’m sure she’ll be fine, but you better take my number in case you need anything.”
“Good idea,” said James, with just the hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth.
They exchanged phone numbers and James climbed in to the back of the ambulance where Carol was already calling out his name.
He smiled at Julie, and looked over his shoulder at Carol. He turned back with a mischievous grin on his face. “So at what point does sympathy kick in?”
Julie thought she better not make it too obvious that she fancied him, but her mouth engaged before her brain. “I don’t go big on sympathy, but I have a great shoulder for crying on, if that’s what you need?”
“That might just hit the spot, I’ll call you later.”
Julie stood there as the ambulance door closed and it made off taking Carol and James to the hospital. James’s last smile was etched on her retina, and she knew she was going to be a naughty girl.
Out loud, and to no-one in particular she said, “I can’t believe I said that.”