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FANCY FREE

By Fred Piechoczek

 

I’m quite lucky where I sit in the office. The clock is just across from me, so I can watch it; OK so it just creeps, it’s electric, but it always moves towards five o’clock. Ten to five. I’m meeting Steve this evening. Steve. Steve and Steph. Funny, a match really. Better look busy. Ten minutes to go.

“Stephania.”
Oh no, please, not now. I hate him, he’s a Pisces. Imagine having a Pisces as your boss. Make it quick, please, but I know he never does, as I obediently follow the passageway behind the filing cabinets to his office.

By the time I leave it’s nearly six, curse him, and I just know the train’s going to be late, unless I get to the station late, of course, the only time they ever leave on time. But it is not late and yes I get home by seven. I should have been here at six. I hope they wait. I call Steve, but no one answers. He’s already left. I can’t get his mobile, so I try Mary but she’s not there. Where were we supposed to go? Well, I guess we meet at the Gate as usual. 

Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, I think as I slip on a pair of shiny black high tide trousers. Purple lips tonight, bit of glitter. Wow, look at this, Steve. Phone, keys, here I come. 

The Gate is swarming, cool. Friday, I guess. I work my way to the bar. No Steve, but I’ll have a vodka and orange, well, a double vodka and orange.
“Keep your hands off me mate.” God, these guys. They’ll try anything. Still no Steve. Not many places they can go. I guess I’ll have to try Cool Doods.

Getting chilly. Should have brought a jacket. I can’t believe it, there’s a queue. But my shiny black trousers give me the edge and I’m through. Steve, the man of my dreams, my very own pop idol, except of course he’s not gay. Mr Stud they used to call him at school, but that was ten years ago, long before I knew him, and I don’t hold that against him. I mean, it’s not like... well, you know what I mean. 

“Over here, Steph.” His voice gives me a kind of shiver down the spine. He’s in a group in a quiet alcove, well, nowhere’s quiet in Doods, but you know, you can talk. I just get that  feeling like I’m skipping through a field of daffodils as I cross the hall to join them. Steve stands up and I slot in beside him at the table, like we kind of fit, Steve and Steph. Steve motions to the girl across from him, petite, fake blonde, not my type really, but I smile. She has a giveaway bulge around the waistline.
“This is Carol,” he says.
“Cool. Hi, Carol.”
Steve looks all serious. I just love this guy I really do.
“The point is,” Steve says, “Carol. You see, well, I know I’ve never mentioned this, but you see, Carol is my wife.”
At first I don’t understand what he means, but it kind of sinks in and he’s still talking, but I don’t know what he’s saying. Just this one word rings in my brain, pregnant.

I just sit there, as an old childhood memory forms in my mind, and I see my teddy bear floating away in the floodwaters.

A Painter's Apocalypse

The Gates of Hell

Fancy Free

Coming to London