50 - Maud

      

         Maud was sitting on the huge squishy sofa leaning against the arm cushions with her legs spread out along its length. She was comfy. The cushions were plumped and her right foot, the one with the crepe bandage wrapped around the ankle, was raised on a large, dark orange cushion slightly damp from the after effects of the ice pack. Naturally her right leg had no stocking and a slight discolouration, blue maybe, showed just above the bandage. The cream, silk negligee with the frilled banding was loosely covered with an equally silky pale blue dressing gown slightly ruffled around her waist. She had been in pain. Quite a lot of pain in fact but that had dulled thanks mainly to a copious supply of gin. The discomfort she is feeling in no way detracted from her natural beauty. In fact the effects of the gin and her slightly revealing apparel make an incredibly sexy picture. The silk brocade curtains were thrown open as wide as possible, flooding the spacious sitting room with rays of sunlight light from the tall, elegant Georgian windows.

Billy, her husband's valet stiffly, said, “will there be anything else madam?”

To which she replied, “Oh Billy, please don’t be so bloody formal. I’m not worth it. You’ve been marvellous and thank you. I think you’ve thought of everything.”

“That’s very kind madam and an intriguing thought. I’ll bring your five o’clock gin at the appropriate time.”

 Her book, a long boring novel with way too many words, the push button wireless telephone and her fresh four o’clock gin and tonic with slightly squeezed lemon were within easy reach on the long glass topped coffee table. The extremely cool gin in her favourite glass with cats in various poses etched around the rim was sitting on a silver mat dappled in droplets of condensation. Billy had just cleared her empty three o’clock gin glass that had followed not her two o’clock gin but her after lunch gin, served at two o’clock.

Maud picked up her glass and twiddled the silver swizzle stick with a lucky enamelled horseshoe top. The horseshoe had no meaning for her. She was not in any way superstitious nor did she believe in fate. As she sipped her drink she fiddled with the long string of natural pearls that hung around her neck. She never took them off. They had been a gift to wear on her wedding day when she had dismissed her friend Issy’s persistence that they were doubly unlucky being both gifted and worn on her special day.

“Phooey,” she had said, “I don’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo fate stuff as you well know Issy.” She had no time for black cats, magpies and hooting owls and certainly did not hesitate about walking under ladders.

 Her ankle was throbbing and she was thinking about yesterday and how stupid she had been. She was bored and disappointed. Her best friend had not returned her call yet. Then the phone rang.

The familiar beep, beep and she put down her drink and pressed answer to hear, “hello darling, got your message. How’s the ankle today?” No more need be said. The voice so distinctive with a kind of stuttering almost laughing lisp.

“Hi Issy. It’s OK I suppose. Could’ve been worse, I could’ve broken it.” she replied, “Billy’s taking good care of me though and the gin’s taking good care of the pain. Billy prescribed one an hour, not too strong though. Just enough. He’s a marvel but so upright and proper. I’m trying to get him to relax a bit but it’s a struggle. He’s too professional. Could you not have called earlier? I’m so bored.”

“Struggled to get up…...you know. I’m sure you remember how it is with a new man. Then we went to lunch at Gino’s place and…. well, that place is just so infectious, time absolutely zooms by. Still I’m here now. He’s a hunk though - Billy. Isn’t he? Have you ever thought….”

“What…..No. Certainly not,” she almost stammered. She could hear the taunting chortle in Issy’s voice. “How could you think such a thing? You know I absolutely adore Tommy.”

“Well Tommy’s away a lot isn’t he? and…. well, you know how it goes. There’s time for play when he’s away and all that.” Issy said laughing out loud.

Stop it or I’ll hang up,” said Maud with some passion.

“Oh darling don’t be so serious I’m only playing. You know what I’m like. Trying to cheer you up. But all the same…...”

“That’s it. That’s your last chance. Anymore and I will hang up.” But she said this with a small laugh. Then said, “You're right though, he is a hunk and perhaps if it weren’t for Tommy who knows.” Disappearing into a small daydream.

Dropping her voice to a more serious tone, Issy said, “so how’d you manage to do it then? How’d you manage to get yourself another lazy time on the couch? I assume you’re on that squishy sofa of yours?”

“Of course I am. I struggled down at midday with the help of Billy of course. He wrapped my ankle in ice but that has gone now. How’d it happen? Well, I was meeting Twizzle in town for lunch at the Brasserie on the High Street but was late as usual. I had left the Merc in the car park behind the supermarket. Luckily Twizzle had managed to get a parking space on the High Street opposite the restaurant. I was rushing, almost running as I came out of the alleyway. I stupidly did not look where I was going and caught my stiletto in a drain cover just as I stepped into the road. You know my bright red pair with the six inch heels. The heel….”

“Haven’t I told you before those heels are lethal? I don’t know why you persist with them. This isn’t the first time, is it?” Izzy exclaimed.

“I know, I know and that I’m stupid to wear them. Anyway the heel snapped and I twisted my ankle as I fell over on the edge of the road. And that was that. Twizzle saw me through the restaurant window, came out and crossed the road. She got me to her car and took me home where Billy assumed command. Tommy is away of course. This morning Billy went to collect my car but it was not there. He thinks it has been stolen and reported it to the Police.”

“Well that was stupid wasn’t it? And just another stupid thing you’ve done. You are always getting into one sort of fix or another. We all worry about you being so accident prone. I bet Billy’s fed up with putting you back together. A shame about the car but it’s about time you changed it anyway.” Issy said. “Still a few days on the couch and you’ll be fine. Then we’ll go shopping for a nice new racy number. Anyway I’ve got to go, I do believe I am wanted if you know what I mean. Will phone tomorrow and say hello to your gorgeous Billy for me.” Then she hung up. 

 Yesterday at twelve thirty Benny and George were in the car park just waiting, Benny standing by the middle pay machine and George near the alleyway to the High Street. They steal cars to order. A very lucrative and largely risk free business - the cars are stolen shortly after the owners arrive so plenty of time to get away. They see the Mercedes enter, which parks not too far from Benny who moves in the direction of the car as the owner gets a ticket, locks the car and heads for the High Street. Benny then moves to the car and turns on his relay. George, by the alley, turns on his relay as the lady passes which clones the car fob signal and sends it to Benny’s relay and the Merc’s doors unlock. Key-less systems are a boon for thieves. Less than a minute and Benny is picking up George and they are on their way.

They exit the car park turning left onto the High Street and accelerate rapidly reaching high speed as they come upon the lady who is running out of the alleyway and about to cross the road but suddenly catches her heel and falls just as they zoom past. George looks back to see her sprawled on the ground but is satisfied they did not hit her.

 The next morning Maud is back sitting on the couch.

“Is there anything you need madam?” asks Billy.

“Please, please call me Maud Billy. I cannot cope with all this formality. It’s simply not me. And no thank you. You have been brilliant as usual. I have everything. Oh and no gin today. I think I overdid it yesterday.”

“Thank you …..Maud. I will address you as …..Maud as long as your husband is not here. Otherwise I prefer to be formal.” Then the phone rings.

“Hi Maud,” says the familiar giggling voice, “how’s everything today?”

“Much better,” replies Maud, “I think I’ll be OK to walk about tomorrow. The swelling’s gone down.”

Issy says, “seriously though you were really lucky. I bet you don’t know how lucky you’ve been. Do you?”

“What do you mean?” said Maud, “I think I’ve actually been rather unlucky to have sprained my ankle and broken a heel of a favourite shoe.”

“I thought so. I spoke to Twizzle a few minutes ago. She said she saw you out of the restaurant window and saw your car go flying past just as you were about to step into the road. If you hadn’t stumbled Twizzle said you would have been hit for sure. And that would have been something wouldn’t it? Killed by your own car. How ironic that would have been. Must have been the car thieves.”

“Do you know I didn’t even notice? I was so intent upon not being late. Seems I might have had a lucky break after all.”

“Fate, that's what it is. Fate. Pure and simple. If you hadn’t fallen you would most likely be dead. Twizzle said the car was really travelling fast.”

“But I don’t believe in fate and all that stuff. Do I?”

“Well, maybe it’s about time you did.” Issy said, “and start to take things a bit more seriously. Then perhaps you will stop having all these mishaps and we can begin to sleep a lot easier. One downside if you did though. Billy would be out of a job not having to routinely look after you. You would not have that gorgeous hunk of man to dream about anymore would you? And I know you secretly do, don’t you?” 

 

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