‘Why’s everybody suddenly calling them mimosas?’ Eddie mumbled at the nursing home Christmas menu. ‘It were Bucks Fizz in our ‘ouse!’
‘Shut up,’ Hilda whispered, quiet as a gale. ‘You’ll wake up Nurse Ratched!’
It was 5 am. Eddie and Hilda had got up early to claim the prime spots at the recreation room’s viewing window. They called it the recreation room, but it was also the TV room, the dining room, and the medicine room. It was basically a one-room affair at the Elmtree Retirement Village. The floor-to-ceiling window gave the best option of big-screen entertainment for anyone sick of staring at the TV in their room. The security light flashed outside, illuminating the pre-dawn garden and exposing a pair of breasts flattened against the double glazing. A half-trousered man stood behind the owner of the glass-pressed glands, rutting away to his own reflection in the window’s privacy coating. A half-eaten samosa rested on the woman’s back.
Hilda ran her rosary through her fingers.
‘Told you it’d be a shaggers morning!’ Eddie barked in triumph. He held out his hand to Hilda. ‘Hand it over!’
Hilda rummaged through her purse and passed Eddie a screwed up fiver. She hated losing a bet, especially before breakfast.
‘That’s trouble with today,’ Eddie continued, not removing his eyes from the show. ‘It’s all so immediate, there’s no… what’s the word? Eroticism.’
‘Five syllables? Calm down Eddie, you’ll have an embolism.’
‘Funny,’ Eddie tried to suppress a grin. ‘You know what I mean though.’
‘Eddie Wade, you wouldn’t know eroticism if it smacked you in your weathered old face.’
‘I’ll smack y…’
Hilda coughed sharply,
‘When we were young it weren’t like that,’ Eddie persisted. ‘Slapping away at each other on way ‘ome from wherever. It were more subtle. Y’know. I bet you’ve dropped your pencil more than once, given a cheeky view of your thingamajiggers.’
‘Aye, and I reckon you were a right one for brushing your hoo-ha up against someone’s leg at the bar.’
‘That’s what it were all about. The thrill of it. Those split skirts! Swishing about so you felt like you were just a sharp breeze away from an eye full of whatchamacallit. Jesus, there was this girl worked at butchers…’
‘Is that what erotic is then, Eddie?’ The couple outside scuttled away as the sun lifted over the horizon. Hilda searched through her handbag.
‘I bloody would, yeah!’ Eddie confirmed, adding a little sniff ‘What would you say it is?
Hilda smiled and pulled out an age-tinted envelope. She handed it to Eddie, who opened it carefully and removed the sheets inside.
‘1964,’ Hilda said. ‘My boyfriend’s first polaroid camera, he asked me to model.’
Eddie’s pupils had dilated so wide he was temporality dazed when the recreation room’s main lights went on above them. He was coughing and thumping at his chest when the morning nurse called over.
‘You two are up early, everything OK?’
‘I’m gonna need me ‘eart pills,’ Eddie wheezed.
Hilda smiled to herself.
‘I’d kill for a cigarette,’ she spoke under her breath.