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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes: Guy Block Adventures

Mark Cunliffe

If marriage is an institution, then it must be the only one that celebrates its incarceration each year.
It was Guy Block’s wedding anniversary.
He was late.

She watched her estranged husband as he brusquely made his way towards her at the reserved table. It was the very table; the very restaurant where she proposed to him, after informing him she was expecting his baby…babies as it turned out. Francine Block recalled he was late on that occasion too. Hurrying towards her, with his duellist like manner, his natural twitchiness all feints and flinches at imaginary attackers. She found him immensely attractive back then to this great Englishman; a lecturer, her lecturer and a writer of some renown too, though admittedly a one hit wonder in the fiction world. Nevertheless it was a palpable hit, as a modern day duellist should indeed make.

She noted he looked wearier as he came closer, too many dawns defending his honour she smirked keeping up the analogy. She knew that dawn always brought dishonour to Guy Block. That the consequences of who he impaled the night before became all too real and often too farcical. Why did she still put up with him? He was serially unfaithful; they no longer lived together; why?

Why? Why is the bitch smirking? Guy thought as he reached the table. That is what happens when you marry a French lady. There will always be a barrier that you are unable to transcend, be it language or behaviour.
In typical Block mode, a waiter came to pull his chair out for him just as Block was about to himself. There then followed a socially inept moment as they bowed and doffed for each other to take over only to both attempt to move the chair at the same time.
"Merde" Francine Block uttered a little too loudly to be under her breath as she placed down her wine glass. The two men looked at her and she produced a sweet smile for them in reply. Finally, the chair was produced and Guy took his seat. He straightened his tie and threw a hand though his fine long hair before attempting to smile and proffering "Happy anniversary darling"
Francine bowed her head and replied the same. Now with the formalities out of the way she asked, why he was late or rather who made him late.
"I don’t understand?"
"My dear it is simple, who were you fucking?"
Guy looked around furtively in case any neighbouring diners heard, "Francine please, I was doing nothing of the sort"
"No?" she said innocently, "It did not stop you on our first anniversary, nor our second nor"
"I haven’t ok! If you must know I was marking several dissertations" Guy said defensively.
"Well that makes a change" Francine bitchily cawed.
It was going to be a long night.

With the impeccable timing that waiter’s have, he returned to enquire about their orders just as the temperature grew frosty. As Guy clumsily made his way through the menu, Francine made her way back into the past, to the 1990s once more and the night she proposed.

She was a clever student, a French girl in a foreign land, but with enough about her to make friends and influence people. She was beautiful, at the younger end of the mature student scale and very popular with strong views on politics, literature, love and life. The world was at her feet. Then she met Guy Block, her lecturer. The two of them impressed each other. Francine was impressed by his knowledge and his tales of the British cultural shifts in the 1960s and 1970s, how he first got turned on to LSD by The Rolling Stones own drug dealer, Spanish Tony Sanchez and how he sniffed his first white powder thanks to an enigmatic American road scholar/draft dodger known as The Cocaine Cowboy. He regaled her with tales of sit-ins and the notion that education was key, how it could change everything. She was immensely attracted to him, he may have been fifteen , sixteen or so years older, but that only served to heighten his appeal and their romance. She was hooked on his personality and became a mini fan of him and his ally in the English Dept, Emma Latimer. Following them around. It was bizarre behaviour, for she never followed anyone, she led, but these, these were people to learn from. And learn she did.

In turn he was besotted by her Gallic flair, her ability to have several hang on her every word. Her strong willed nature, her staunch feminist views were clearly a result of her rebellious parents stance at the 1968 Paris riots and their ongoing political activities. She was brought up on Marx at breakfast, Oakley at lunch and DH Lawrence at supper. And of course, it helped that she immensely attractive. With her tawny hair and boyish frame she was the epitome of the beautiful girls her home country produced.
And she had an excellent bottom.

It was the mid 90s and Guy Block had felt love, real love for the first time since the 70s. Nevertheless this did not stop him uttering these words those years ago when Francine offered this over the main course;
"I am pregnant with your child Guy"
"I think we should wed"
"Marry? Bollocks to that, I mean to say I’m in my prime!"

As she downed her wine she recalled how much hurt those words caused her. Guy was a pig. A man who wanted to have both his cake and eat it. Well, let him eat cake she thought. And she spent the rest of the meal in silence before hurrying out into the night the minute the dessert plate was take away back to the kitchen by the superbly timed waiter.
It was only the following day when Guy Block visited her at her dorm and offered to do the right thing by her. He confessed his love and that maybe it was time he grew up and stopped trying to be the oldest swinger in town. And that was how it was for a while. They married and were happy, fantastically so. Guy even started to write again and then came the news that Francine was not expecting a child, but was in fact expecting children, twins. They were overjoyed; it was the best news, doubled. And as she gave birth, no two people could have been happier.
Francine wisely put her foot down to the proposed names for the boy and girl Guy had, namely Jagger for the boy and Faithfull for the girl. Instead opting for the very English Jeremy and Jemima.
Then the problems started.

Guy’s feet grew itchy and he began to take up his old ways as Francine stayed at home all day playing the dutiful mother. And of course, the twins, born on a full moon in the midst of a terrible thunder and lightning display, grew to be little terrors that even Super Nanny would be afraid of. In short, Jeremy and Jemima, with their similar looks and synchronised actions were nothing short of frightening, even a Mother as loving as Francine would admit that, and certainly a Father like Guy Block would confess to be a little spooked out by his own offspring. Of course it did not help that they were prodigies, far too clever for their own good and light years ahead of children their own age.
The marriage inevitably broke down, as more and more extra curricular relationships became more and more obvious."So what I’m saying" said Guy, bringing Francine back from her trip down memory lane, "Is why don’t we give it another go, for the kids sake, I mean they’re getting older now, it isn’t fair they live how they do" He placed his hands across the table and took Francine’s "lets get back together, see how it goes eh?"
"Bollocks" said Francine
"What?" Replied a startled Guy.
"Bollocks, I’m in my prime" she replied.
For a moment, Guy Block’s world stopped dead. He felt woozy, stunned and sick. It was a feeling Francine Block knew only too well from the past.
"I-I-I" Guy stuttered
"I’m seeing someone darling, a wonderful man, Mike, a rugby player, oh he’s so muscular and masculine"
"I-I do not wish to know! Jesus, a rugby player." Guy could not believe his ears.
"Come now, you cannot be angry, I mean how many blind eyes have I turned to your affairs" Francine reasoned
"I know it’s just, well I didn’t expect," Guy started.
"What? That I would block your proposal," she laughed at her little joke, "Or that I am still attractive enough to have an affair?"
Guy was lost for words.

"Darling, it would never work. We have proven it before, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. You would soon go chasing girls again just as you did before. I mean you may be in your fifties but that means nothing to someone with a lifelong attitude of self justifying adolescence like you have"

He had to admit, she had him sussed. And she began to explain her reasoning, and Guy could not object, for she was right, and what was more she was right in her beautiful accent. She explained how they were happy for a time but that ultimately their relationship was wrong. Guy Block was always about the chase and if she was honest, so was she. She had loved loving him, having a crush on him, being ‘Blocked’ as she called it, but she could not cope living with him day in day out anymore than he could not. She loved him, yes and continued to do so, but for what he was, not what he thought he should be.
"Its not your fault" she reasoned.
"No…its’ the twins" he said morosely.
"Guy! Do not blame our children!" She said shocked, before adding with a wry smile and a wave of her hand "Well, maybe a little bit."
And they both laughed.
"Guy, lets face it, you will never change, and I don’t want you too. You are always at your best being the rock and roll lecturer, delighting people with your tales and your intellect, making a fool of yourself, shagging students and you and Emma Latimer acting like some modern day Valmont and Merteuil"
"We do not!" Guy said only half objecting, causing his estranged wife to raise an eyebrow. "Come on, are you telling me Emma did not goad you into action by saying that you would not ever marry me?"
"I wanted to marry you" Guy reasoned
"And I wanted you to marry me, and I still, still want to be married to you, I just don’t want to live with you, it would be hell!" she explained with a laugh.
"Very well" Guy replied.
"How is Emma?" Francine asked
"Well, very well, she sends her fondest regards"
"You’re a liar," Francine shot back
"I know," Guy added quickly.
A moment’s silence passed as Francine commenced eating her gooseberry fool; "Who was you shagging tonight?" she asked finally.
"A delightful first year who goes by the name of Amy, so sweet so virginal, well she was beforehand" Guy relented
"A bet with Emma?"
"Oh yes"
They both smiled.

And they resumed eating their dessert. Finally after several minutes silence Guy began to talk about a subject entirely unbroached. " Have you noticed, there’s a big advertising campaign to raise the awareness of STD’s?"
Francine looked at him dumbfounded as Guy nodded eagerly, forked up his Tiramisu and continued regardless. "The walls of every corridor on the campus, chemist windows, they all have posters up about it. It seems the medics want syphilis on everyone’s lips!"
And with that they laughed aloud, causing several diners to turn and shoot them daggers.
They left the restaurant a little later, went home and fucked.
Well, they were man and wife.
It wasn’t a reunion, far from it, it would never happen, but it was their anniversary and they wanted to enjoy it

© Mark Cunliffe. September 2007
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