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The International Writers Magazine
:Hot Gossip -A Dreamscapes Moment

Hot Gossip
John Bradshaw

The burger was rubbery and I wasn’t speaking to my wife. So I was glad to hear another voice at the table behind me.
“Must be back by 2:15” she whispered.
I glanced at my watch instinctively - 20 minutes. We had another house to view at 2.30, and the pub lunch was a time filler before undoubtedly another colour scheme nightmare, another Llewellyn-Bowen’s granny influenced, flock wallpaper monstrosity. I was on holiday and I was fed up.

So the velvety middle aged voice behind me had opened my fantasy tank. I glanced around the pub, from left to right; you know the kind. Brass chimney blower thingies hung from the walls (too high up to actually reach to blow your chimney), alongside pictures of nautical nightmares and self-help graffiti - the “best” being “A friend is just a person that you haven’t met yet”
Do me a favour. I certainly wouldn’t want to be friends with the person who designed this carpet; were those really swans twisted around rose bushes?

“It’s ace to see you, you know”.
He sounded much younger. Rosie’s raised eyebrows confirmed this.
“It’s been murder finding time” she smouldered.

“They could find time here?” I thought. The pub was quiet, and big. A snatched moment could be found, definitely. Playing with my food, I ran through the options. A trip to the toilet, her first. They could pass in the corridor. A brush of wool skirt against his thigh, a knowing look in the alcove next to the disabled toilet. Better still, VERY knowing looks and more in the disabled toilet. I remember going in there a couple of weeks ago (the burgers really are rank here and the gents cubicle was lockless). Loads of room in there, and a wide seat. Plus the added advantage of metal holding bars on either side.

“How are Alfie and Betty?” wool skirt enquired.
Shit, she knows his parents! The plot thickens.

Another “Rosie intrigued” look. She was enjoying this too. And it meant that she didn’t have to talk to me. The student and the teacher. Detentions…..wool skirt and long, long legs just visible underneath the school desk……blonde hair swept back by an elegant, nail painted hand….an accidentally dropped pencil as she walks past. I spun my beer around the glass to keep it’s head, although my imagination was losing it’s.

“Alfie’s fine, he’s eight on Tuesday. And Betty’s crawling now, into everything!”

Youngster sounded every inch the proud Dad. I couldn’t believe it. But now I understood. Young dad, proud dad, randy dad. He’s got the home security of his family, but he still has needs. He wants the danger. The thrill of the chase. He can have two kids, but he’s still got it. But he still thinks of his wife when it matters. Birthdays, Christmas. So that’s OK isn’t it?

“What are you having Steve?” velvet voice purred. God, she sounded good. A Jessica maybe. Daddy Steve must be a lager man I decided. “Pint of Dragon Slayer”. A real ale man. I was disappointed. Real ale meant safe, honest, dependable, older. Not young, proud Dad who had a result a few weekends ago on a night off and pulled the bored, older, slightly classy divorcee. Jessica's time at the bar gave me time to answer some questions in my head.
How old are you? Where do you shop for those sexy wool skirts? Where do you get your amazing stamina? Would you be partial to some disabled toilet shenanigans?

“There you go sweetheart”. I heard the plonk and spill of Dragon Slayer, and nearly turned around. I caught the whiff of wood spice mixed with smoke as she sat down behind me. It cheapened Sara in my head, but not enough for me to a: finish my dinner or b: talk to Rosie. And they could now share a post coital fag, Steve sat on the baby changing table and her on the disabled loo (maybe her legs could be draped over the arm supports). “Are you ready for next Wednesday night?” Sara said. I knew it! They were having an affair! I had a smug look on my face, satisfied that my fantasy was right, but disappointed that my short lived interception in the toilet corridor now wouldn’t happen. “I’m really looking’ forward to it!” Steve said excitedly. “It’s such a good read. The way that Hornby has got into the mind of a woman so effectively; it just left me begging for more! How to be good? How to be bloody marvellous more like!!”
“Oh you’re so right Steve! I couldn’t put it down! I rang Trevor at work yesterday to get chips on the way home; I didn’t want to waste valuable reading time cooking!”

Hornby? Chips? TREVOR?????” I couldn’t believe it. Again. They were in a bloody book club. I finished my pint, chewed my dog burger and went to the toilet. On the way there I passed the disabled toilet, (vacant) sighed an unrequited sigh and went into the gents. I could see that the table next to ours was empty when I came out of the toilet.
“Ready to roll love?” Rosie chirped as I trooped back. Maybe I was back in her good books. Maybe she had been thinking about a real ale drinking stallion who could ravage her whilst viewing a flock wallpapered house……. As Rosie and I got into our car, we heard two familiar voices opposite. “OK Phyllis, see you next Wednesday” Steve said politely. No chance of him ruining his chinos in a toilet! He looked almost sensible as he lightly kissed the rather portly, flame haired woman in a supermarket uniform on the cheek.
Phyllis? That‘ll teach me.

© John Bradshaw December 2004

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