We’re having a lazy Sunday…..
So here’s a story (BHD made earlier)…
All In A Row
And you know what he said to her, when I introduced them? He said of man’s desiring? Joy Of Man’s Desiring. It’s from a hymn. And he did that thing with his voice at the end, to make it a question.
Mary smiled, and bit her lip gently.
And what did she say?
Well, she was all over him, metaphorically. She was like a school girl. Well, perhaps not like one of today’s school girls, but you know what I mean.
You do have to give him full marks, for effort, she said, tilting her head and looking at Martyn over her glasses.
Do you? I thought it was all rather cheesy.
Lighten up, Martyn. Harry always flirts, with everyone, you said.
Martyn shot her a glance. She hadn’t met him, had she? He’d always tried to keep Mary and Harry apart, keep her in reserve, so to speak, keep her clean.
You’re better off without her. If she can be won over that easily.
Won over by Harry, Martyn thought. Not won over by him, by Martyn. She hadn’t been a pushover for Martyn. He rubbed the flat of his palm around the rim of his wine glass, and it squealed delightedly.
I suppose so.
No suppose about it! Drink your wine. Relax. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.
Well, Martyn thought, I don’t know about that. In fact, from what he’d seen on the news and read in the papers that was the last thing there was. The trouble was, the sort of fish Mary was talking about weren’t on quotas. They were fair game for anybody, even for each other these days. They were fair game for the Harries of this world. But it was just a metaphor, a dead metaphor, a worn out, used up metaphor.
There are plenty of other pebbles on the beach, he said out loud, not meaning to.
You’re right. I shan’t worry about it anymore.
But he couldn’t help worrying. Wasn’t anybody safe from Harry? Wasn’t there anyone who Harry wouldn’t have a pop at? And always some clever little witticism, popping off the top of his head. Martyn wondered if they really were that spontaneous. Did he rehearse them beforehand, work them out in advance? He’d known Joy’s name in advance. Martyn knew that, because he’d made the mistake of telling him. I’m going out with that girl, he’d said, from the Health Club.
Oh? Which one’s that? Harry had asked, all innocence. Joy, Martyn had said, and then, and this was the really stupid thing, he’d said, why don’t you come and join us for a drink; because that’s what he always did, with Harry. He always asked him along, because Harry was Martyn’s sidekick. Or was it the other way around?
Well, he’d not made that mistake tonight. He’d said, we’re going for a quiet little drink together at the Curwen Arms.
What? That little place out in the sticks?
That’s the one. A little, quiet, tete-a-tete- for two.
And Harry had said, I thought you and this Mary weren’t like that?
You know, an item.
We’re not an item, Martyn had insisted, and they weren’t either. They were just good friends, and, so long as Harry kept his nose out, good friends they would stay. Unless of course they became an item, which Martyn hadn’t got around to testing out just yet.
Maybe he had a little book of them, Harry: those clever little things he said; ready to fling into the conversation when the chance arose. Women liked that sort of thing. How many times had he heard them say, because he makes me laugh. Bastard!
At least Mary wouldn’t fall for something like that, even if she did give him full marks for trying.
He took a long drink of the wine, tilting his head back as he did so, which brought the foyer of the hotel into his line of vision. Harry was standing just inside the revolving door, looking around. Martyn choked on the wine and two red dribbles like tinted tears ran down his chin.
Steady on Martyn. No need to drink it quite that fast.
Harry, he said.
Let’s not think about Harry any more, she said, reaching forward and laying her hand on his arm.
No! Harry, he said, nodding towards the door. At which point Harry spotted him, put a broad smile on his face, and crossed the room towards them. Bloody hell, Martyn said.
Mary twisted around in her seat. A rather good looking man, in a very well cut suit, that somehow seemed as casual as jeans and a T-shirt, was striding towards them with a cheeky grin on his face.
Martyn, you sly old thing, Harry said, thrusting a hand out.
What are you doing here? Martyn demanded, ignoring it.
And you must be? Harry said, and the hand twisted, into an open palmed gesture of supplication into which Mary, without thinking, laid her own palm. Harry’s palm ascended, carrying the back of her hand to his lips.
Mary, she said, half-amused.
He brushed the back of her hand with his moustache, his brown eyes gazing into hers. Quite contrary, I’ll bet….
You can find other BHD stories in The Writer’s Secret. Just click on the image.