Şubat 14, 2021

Caitlin Writes Ch. 03

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Blonde

The Red Dragon is, I suppose, my local, in that it’s the closest pub to my house. Saying that it’s not actually terribly close, being about a fifteen minute walk away, and I didn’t frequent it a great deal. Richard loved the place though, being equidistant from his house in the opposite direction, and hence we spent a few Sunday lunches there followed by a nice walk back to his house. I wasn’t all that keen on eating there, what with owning my own restaurant anyway, and I always felt a little put out that Richard knew all the other patrons so well, whilst I often felt like an arm-adornment. I’d arranged to meet Richard – no, it had been arranged by Richard for me to meet – there.

Swirling the ice cubes around my diet coke, I waited for the inevitable text message to say that Richard would be late. Even the text message was late this time. When it did come through – at 8:45 it arrived fifteen minutes after Richard himself should have – I merely glanced through for an indication of when he would be here, not bothering with the excuses. Sighing to myself, I smoothed down my dress and prepared for the wait.

“What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” came a cheeky voice from behind me. “No, that one won’t work on you. How about, call heaven quick, there’s an angel missing? No, wait, I’ll get it in a minute. Get your coat, you’ve pulled? What’s a worm do? Any of them likely to let me buy you a drink?”

He was tall and athletic, not bronzed exactly but with a weathered look, the sort of tan you only get from working outdoors, and I had a vision of him digging holes in roads for the council which instantly made him less attractive. Still in muddy shorts, so probably a stray from the boisterous group of young men that had obviously just finished football training (although I suppose it could have been rugby. Wasn’t cricket though, I could tell that much). Nice smile and cheerful eyes. Reasonably gorgeous, actually, but a little too pretty for my liking. Listen to me, I sound like a connoisseur of young men already.

“You could have just said, ‘may I buy you a drink’, and then you wouldn’t have had to stand there and sound quite so stupid.” Ouch. I didn’t mean to sound so harsh, but you’ll appreciate that this is not a normal period in my life. I’m still dealing with the aftershock of cheating on the aforementioned absent boyfriend.

“Okay, okay, I take the hint,” he said, turning to go. What the hell, I figured, I’ll only be sat on my own for another half an hour.

“You don’t want to go back to your friends having completely crashed and burned, do you? Mine’s a vodka and diet coke.” I motioned to the stool beside me at the bar. “Best make it a double. You don’t have a chance, by the way, but a little company would be nice seeing as my date is going to be late. Just wanted to clear that up.” I don’t know whether he was as stunned as I was by the authority I managed to project into my voice, but there it was. He ordered the drink and set it down beside my other.

“I’m-“

“What makes you think I care?” I replied, haughtily, with a questioning stare at him over the rim of my glass before sipping demurely. I don’t know whether it was guilt going sour in my system like unused adrenaline, or the fading of the buzz the encounter had given me, but something had certainly put me on one.

“So what’s with the noisy boys over there?”

“It’s er, we are, uh, I’m-“

“Jesus, do you need a bib or something? Are you trying to chat me up or do you intend to stutter and dribble your way into my knickers?”

“But, all-“

“Let me ask you; do you find this the most effective way to approach women? What sort of success rate do you anticipate when you set out of an evening, intending to employ this approach?” I let him sit there in silence, manifesting both confidence and disdain that I didn’t really feel. “Is this a routine that would normally find success with ladies of your own age? Or perhaps this is not your normal approach, but rather one of your rugby chums over there put you up to this, sent you on a dare, as it were.” Placing my glass down gently on the bar, I swung my foot gently whilst humming a completely different tune from the one on the sound system. He was silent for a moment, and I let the silence hang between us. I was only having a little fun with him after all. His despondence was almost tangible, and when he turned his head and made to have another go, I looked up and opened my mouth to let him have another broadside, but he was no longer looking at me. Richard was standing beside him.

“Hello Caitlin, sorry I’m late,” he flustered, pecking me on the cheek. He turned to the young man beside me and smiled.

“It’s okay Ben, I think I can take it from here.”

“You two know each other then?” I asked, too surprised to worry about the blindingly obvious answer to the question.

“You could say that, yes,” said Richard, in his slightly slimy, patronising-students voice. “Since he was about, ooh, so high,” indicating with his hand. I have to admit I was starting to panic a little, casino şirketleri despite the fact that there was absolutely nothing to panic over. Knowing my luck, this young man would turn out to be the son that Richard is always talking about and that I have yet to meet. In fact, did he not just call him Ben?

“I take it you’ve had a match tonight?” enquired Richard.

“Sorry,” I interrupted, “I was just wondering how you two gentlemen know each other.” Disturbingly, they glance at each other for a second before breaking out into an ‘all-lads-together’ laugh.

“Well, you could say we go way back!” laughed Richard. So this must Ben. Terrific, I mused, even different generations of Richard’s family find me attractive. I must be cursed. Thinking so, and musing on the possibilities of breaking said curse and the part that silver bullets and moonlit cemeteries might play in this process, Richard finally put me out of my misery.

“So where is my son?” he asked, and suddenly everything was sunshine and swallows and half-price summer sales.

“Ummm, he’s around somewhere, surprised he’s not over here actually, trying to get round one of the barmaids (further conspiratorial chuckling). Maybe he’s in the loo. Shall I have a look for him?”

“Caitlin, seeing as I finally have Ben here, would you mind if we said hi? If you don’t feel up to this, we can do it another time. We’ve spoken on the phone but I haven’t seen him lately. Is that okay?”

“Sure, whatever,” I huffed, indignant at not actually receiving even a perfunctory apology for his being late. Glancing over at said noisy boys, I wondered which one was Richard’s son. There was one that would soon need a comb-over, he was a contender; a portly fellow, stout of tum and sure of fetlock, was another; and there was one who was clearly slightly older and displayed the same genetic oddities that other mobile phone salesmen I’d encountered had. He was practically dripping with sleaze, self-importance and sweat. I almost shouted him over there and then. Summing up, there was a fat chap who I assumed was the goal minder, or whatever they’re called, someone with legs like a giraffe, a wheezy youngster sucking on an inhaler, my new friend Roger ‘Skipper’ Thornhill whose semen had splashed across my boobs just so recently, and a tall coloured man whose laugh was so deep it sent seismologists into a panic.

Trying hard not to do a slapstick comedy double take, complete with incongruous cartoon klaxon noise, I looked at him again; the beautiful stranger, who’d played havoc with my imagination since I last saw him, was here now. You know the cliché about panic tasting like steel? Actually, it’s true. It’s a hard-edged, metallic taste, which rises from the depths of your stomach was devastating speed whilst simultaneously draining the blood from your legs. To encounter him again was difficult enough, after the way we’d parted. To encounter him whilst I was with my partner was indescribable. When they manage to come up with a word to describe how I felt after seeing him again while I was with my partner, and his son, and after being hit on by one of his mates, I’ll let you know. Leave me your email address or something.

“Ben? Ben!” shouted Richard. I tried hard to look disinterested at which of the young men replied. Had I been standing, my knees would have buckled with relief when comb-over stood up and came over to us.

“Ben, it’s my round. What do you want?”

“Same again Dean, cheers. Will you get Ben one as well, he was in our round.” The newcomer looked over to the group, proclaiming to Ben that he had got the next one in. The man whose tongue had been in my bum-hole straightened up and acknowledged the shout with a wave of his empty pint glass. Then, with a look of cheery recognition, he saw Richard and ambled over.

“Hi Dad!”. Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up. “Who’s this?” he queried innocently, flashing me a toned down version of the same smile that dazzled me before. I opened my mouth to respond, but his father cut me off.

“Ben, this is Caitlin. Caitlin, my son Ben.” I tried to return the similarly downplayed smile whilst hiding my indignation at not being allowed to speak for myself, the level of which was matched only matched by my confusion. This is the famous Ben? What about the name I saw, Roger Thornhill, in the wallet? Whoever he was, he extended the same hand from which the waitress had licked his spunk a few days ago, which I shook limply although I assume he’d washed it since then. He kept smiling at me.

“Hello Caitlin, how are you? Dad has told me so much about you, blah blah blah.” I managed a polite laugh at his almost-a-joke. Terrifyingly, he then followed up with the seemingly innocent “I’m sorry, this sounds very trite, but don’t I know you from somewhere? Do you think we’ve met before?”

Apparently, in Australia, they don’t have the saying about rabbits caught in headlights. They apply the cliché to kangaroos, who are seemingly similarly certain to stand statuesque as oblivion hurtles headlong towards them. I imagine that had casino firmaları they been there, or indeed had they actually existed, the Royal Society for the Preservation of Clichés would have been forced to drop clauses involving rabbits and kangaroos for all time and replaced it with the far more poetic ‘caught like Caitlin in an, oh I don’t know – some word beginning with C that describes my sexual faux pas’, in honour of my reaction at that point. Rabbits would bow before me, kangaroos would doff their caps. My blood congealed, my synapses ceased firing, and indeed time as Stephen Hawking and I understood it failed to have any significance. ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere?’ Why didn’t he just say ‘don’t you think my cock is a lot bigger than my Dad’s?’ and to hell with it?

The question hung between us. Very slowly, it seemed, Richard turned his head to face me. It was an action loaded with malice, like when the little girl does it in The Exorcist. Still caught in slow motion, I could see Ben opening his mouth with a follow-up as my life and its collection of perfectly inadequate men rippled past my eyes.

“On the tram! With the blonde with the loud laugh! Of course, I’ve seen you all getting off the tram at West Street, haven’t I?”

“West Street?”

“Yes! You catch the tram with the blonde girl, the one with the really loud laugh! You should tell her discreetly to tone it down a touch.”

“Down?”

“She can be a little loud, don’t you think? Very pretty though!” and again, they all laughed the boy’s own club laugh.

“Caitlin, Ben and Ben have been friends since they were toddlers. They became friends because they both had the same name. Played in the same football teams together their whole lives,” smarmed Richard.

“Football?”

“Caitlin, whatever is wrong?” he asked.

“Sorry,” I stuttered, shaking my head a little. “I was thinking about who you mean. Jenny, obviously, the other two are reasonably normal.”

“I haven’t offended you, have I? I never thought, I mean obviously they’re your friends, I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“No, no, it’s quite okay. Not a problem. We all tell her she’s too loud anyway, but that’s just how she is. You, er, do you work on West Street?” Subtle, Caitlin.

“Yes, well, just off it actually.”

“Ben’s a social worker,” his obviously proud Dad interjected.

“Really?” I offered, actually quite interested. “Unusual choice of job for a man, wouldn’t you say?” I said, stereotyping him nicely.

“Not at all. I did psych and sociology at uni, this just seems like a natural progression. I enjoy the job a great deal.”

“Doesn’t it get you down though? You don’t find you end up taking the job home with you, as it were?”

“Ah!” interrupted the hitherto forgotten other Ben. “That would be where we come in. He comes and kicks seven shades of shit out of us, and he’s all sweetness and light after that. Or rats and snails and puppy-dog tails, whichever it is.” We all sort of stared at him for a minute wondering what the hell this last was all about, and he gratefully resumed his forgotten role before eventually wandering off.

“Well, it does sound very interesting,” I smarmed, doing a very passable impression of Richard. “You must tell me all about it some time.”

“Of course he should,” said Richard excitedly. “You practically work around the corner from each other, you should have lunch one day! You can keep Ben out of trouble!” he laughed as Ben looked dutifully bashful. “What do you say? Look, I have to nip to the loo. I’ll leave you to discuss it!” Obviously, I was looking for an awkward opportunity to be on my own with him. I decided to be upfront about it.

“What happened to Roger Thornhill?”

“Who the devil is Roger Thornhill?”

“I thought that was your name, I thought… I saw the name in your name in your wallet.” He looked puzzled.

“Sorry, must be a case of mistaken identity.” A pause, then a light bulb flashed on suddenly above his head. The bar manager returned the lighting to the previous dim setting, and a eureka look crossed Ben’s face. “Oh, you mean the wallet I found at the restaurant! It was left on the seat where I sat. I was trying to return it to the waitress before she hurled orange juice at me.”

“About that morning, in the-” He cut me off with a laugh.

“Yes, that was rather good fun! Cute little thing, wasn’t she?”

“Did you know her?” I asked, regretting such a naïve question the instant I’d spoken it.

“Of course not. We were just talking-“

“Yes, I saw you ‘just talking’ beforehand!” Early barbed comment dispatched, I moved onto the main question. Err, except I didn’t really know how to phrase it.

“You’re wondering about the fact that you’ve slept with both father and son, and what’s going to become of it.”

“I was, except of course nothing will come of it. I’m with your father, and despite what happened between you and I-“

“-and Asok-“

“And Asok, I love your father. What happened happened and I can’t deny that, but your father must never güvenilir casino know.” I was never happier than at that moment to be rescued by Richard’s return from his ablutions. “So how are you two getting on? Planning to meet up for a sandwich or something?”

“Well, I don’t mind if Caitlin doesn’t?”

“Ah, no, that would be very nice…” I soothed. What else could I say?

“Well then, that’s great. I suppose the nearest place to us is the burger joint on West Street-“, he said, trying not too hard not to grin.

“I think I know which you mean.” Oh, but he’s good. The force is strong in this one all right.

“Shall I give you a call?”

“Ummm, I’m not always the easiest to get hold of,” I murmured in a placating tone. “Why don’t you drop me an email instead?” Emails are far easier to ignore, I thought, fishing a business card out of my purse for him. It seemed the most painless way to fob him off. He took it from me and looked it over, turning it over between his fingers two or three times.

“An email it is then. Say Dad, Christian is about somewhere, mind if I take this young lady off your hands for a moment to introduce them?”

“Not at all, I’ll see you later.”

“Come on then!” his grin made you think he was the boy who spent most of his school days standing in the corridor, banished from the lesson. “Hey, do you think I could call you mum yet?” he laughed, winking at his dad. They both laughed, and we left him talking to Ben.

“Only if you want a stiletto heel through you eye socket,” I grimaced, as he took my hand and dragged me to the far end of the bar where a sullen looking young man was drinking alone, away from the masses in a dark corner, his elbows resting on the bar with a cigarette in one hand and a tumbler of clear liquid in the other.

“Caitlin, this is Christian, my best friend. Chris, parle-tu bonjour a Caitlin, s’il te plait,” Ben chided. The young man reluctantly spun his bar stool to face me. Shaven-headed, his face was tanned and his eyes were exactly the right distance apart. He extended an arm, tightly packed with muscle that represented the rest of his body well, and I was left with an impression that this boy could be both the start and end of a lot of trouble.

“Caitlin,” he said with a French accent that made him sound, bizarrely, tougher and somehow schizophrenic. “Irish name?” I nodded, and he continued. “Fucked an Irish girl once. Wouldn’t let me come in her ass,” he laughed slyly. I ignored his attempts to rile me.

“Ignore him, he has a hang-over and he’s sulking because he’s been watching me play football and he hates it. He’s a rugby man. Prefers more male contact, I think!” Ben dodges a punch, laughing. It’s clearly a well rehearsed routine. I attempt to be pleasant and sociable, which is more than Christian did, spinning his stool back to the bar so he could resume his slouch whilst watching the barmaids.

“Where did you two become friends?” I ask, aware that it makes me sound what I am, roughly the sum of their combined ages. It’s a feeling I’m getting a lot lately.

“At University-” Ben started to say, but Christian interrupted. His voice was quiet but carried an unmistakeable menace that Ben seemed oblivious to.

“Ben and I like to fuck the same girls,” Christian explained, as though he were discussing the weather. His nonchalant attitude to coarse language in the presence of a stranger bothered me. Ben and I both made to say something, but Christian carried on without stopping. “That’s how it was, non?”

“Well actually,” Ben said with awkwardness, “yes, that’s how it was.” I looked back at Christian, who was looking at me the same way as I imagine lions look at wildebeest, for an explanation.

“Ben and I were both seeing the same girl, though we didn’t know. By chance we found out, a mutual friend confessed they had known all along,” Christian explained. I was surprised, I thought that would make them enemies and said as much.

“We wanted to make sure, oui, confront her about it? I arranged to be with her, in her room. I would leave the door open, and Ben would come in and catch us.” I could see Ben looked a little uncomfortable, but he made no move to stay the story’s telling. “The time comes and I am set. The mademoiselle in question is eager for some action, but I am unsure as I know Ben will arrive. She grew more eager, so in the end I though, what the fuck? We may as well have one last fuck while we are waiting for Ben to come.”

“So what happened?” I asked, finding the story more compelling than it should have been.

“Ben had already come!” Christian laughed. With furrowed brow I indicated that I didn’t follow. This piqued Christian’s attention, and he spun his stool round to face us again. “You do not know mon ami Benjamin’s ‘special interest’? How long have you two been together?”

“Christian-“

“Ben and I are not together, and we only met recently – earlier,” I falsely corrected myself. “I am in a relationship with Ben’s father.” Christian actually threw his head back, laughing. It wasn’t an unpleasant sound and made me warm to him. “Madame, I am sorry, I assumed that you and Ben were fucking.” Nervous glances on my part; nothing registered on Ben’s face. In a conspiratorial way Christian leaned forward to elucidate.

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