Tuesday, 3 August 2010

THE VISIT - a short story by GC (part1)

“Try to keep calm but Tony’s outside in his new car and he wants to take you for a drive.”
Sue Woodley had come in to the lounge minutes before. Her husband Donald had remained deep in an armchair barricaded behind a Sunday newspaper.
Her son had phoned his arrival from his mobile. She was in no mood to suffer one of her husband’s rages directed against their only son.
If their third child had been another girl life would have been so much easier. Donald had no idea what to demand of daughters. Almost without him noticing Julia and Lisa had grown up to have good educations, sound jobs, and successful marriages.
Tony, however, was the black sheep of the family before he was out of primary school.
Her husband lowered his paper. More than forty years of marriage had attuned him to sense when his wife was trying to manipulate him. Where Tony was concerned that invariably meant bad news.
“Why can’t Tony take us both for a drive?” he asked as he carefully refolded the newspaper pages to their original state.
“Because I’ve got things to do before Julia comes over with the children. And anyway there wouldn’t be room. Donald…”
Her husband’s face had contorted into a grim mask of anger as he brushed passed her. She caught up with him peering through the net curtains of the hall window.
“I told him; I told him not to,” he said.
“It’s not new. It’s second hand.”
“It’s still a bloody sports car.” Her husband only came near to swearing when he felt under extreme provocation.
“It’s something he always wanted. Don’t spoil it for him.”
“What do you mean spoil it?” He’s not a child. He’s 30. He’s going to be a father.”
“He can afford it.”
“Not the point. Not the point at all. There’s something called responsibility.”
Woodley opened the front door, took one pace from the Welcome mat, and was frozen by the visual offence.
Sunday mornings in the quiet street of respectable terraced houses were for tidying front gardens, washing cars, and, for some, going to church. It was not for ostentatious displays of wealth that flouted the code of conformity that allowed so many families to live alongside each other in general harmony – save for the occasional noisy party, smoky barbeque, or errant tree root.
Tony would never cease to disappoint him. Now a flashy red sports car was parked outside the house and inside it was his smart alec estate agent son.
Sue had followed him out of the house with his jacket and slipped it on her husband without him hardly noticing. When he turned she was already back in the house and the door shut.
He patted his pockets. His keys were gone. Just as he was considering whether the neighbours would notice if he tried to negotiate with Sue through the letter-box, the sports car gave a short but piecing blast on its horn.
Woodley was forced to walk towards the car to prevent any further embarrassment.
To be continued tomorrow

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