a boy called alex
It was Susan’s first time of bringing a young man home and Eddie had been well prepared. His cricket bat was propped up in the corner of his study – his thinking bat – the plan being to idly swish the air with it as he gave this Alex his first interrogation. So you’re the chap who hangs around the school gate waiting for my daughter? You’re the long-haired guitar crooner who plays folk songs in the classroom instead of reciting an essay on the topic of slavery like all the other kids?
Alex long haired all right, down to the shoulders, but these were bare and they were skinnier than Susan’s.
Alex leaned forward, bright scarlet lips pursed to meet the soup spoon. Once again the loose front of the dungarees bloused into a deep triangle revealing depths of smooth pink chest skin. Eddie could not tear his eyes away, and this time Alex leaned a little deeper, enough to hint at darker skin…
Eddie shot back his chair and lumbered into the kitchen where his wife was at the stove. He slammed the door and leaned his back upon on it.
‘Oh God, I can’t stand it,’ Eddie said. ‘I swear it, I saw nipple that time.’
His wife banged at the saucepans. ‘That’s disgusting. And would you leave the poor girl alone – she’ll be self-conscious enough as it is.’
‘Me? Disgusting? Who wears dungarees to someone else’s house with nothing on underneath?’
His wife rolled her eyes then turned back to the stove.
‘Oh my God,’ Eddie said. ‘How am I going to tell the boys in the pub? There’s never been anything like this in our family.’
His wife clanged the soup label till he looked through his fingers. She held up a finger of her own.
‘One – you and the “boys” in the pub? What about all those videos you said they put on your laptop? Didn’t seem to bother them any.’
She raised a second finger.
‘Your Aunt Irma.’
‘What? Aunt Irma wasn’t…that.’
His wife sighed. ‘Aunt Irma who always brought her “friend” Judith to every family thing. Did you ever visit Aunt Irma when Judith wasn’t there?’
Eddie said, ‘Mum said…they lived next door to each other.’
Eddie grinned. ‘Of course, Mum!’
He raced back to the dining room and when he took his chair he was sure to nudge the table hard enough that the glasses rattled. He mother woke, peering sleepily up from the soup.
‘Mum,’ Eddie said. She stared vaguely at him.
‘Mum, Kate’s just said the silliest thing! She said that Aunt Irma and Judith were more than friends, they were two women who, uh. They were, uh…’
His mum smiled dreamingly. ‘That’s right dear, they were lovers. Not a winkle between them!’ She chuckled, top set of false teeth flopping gummily. ‘I asked them how they managed. Judith smirked and told me they did very well with something called a ten-inch gorgon.’
The soup spoons of Susan and Alex rattled into their bowls. Eddie began to coalesce into a hot ball of red hot embarrassment.
His mum continued. ‘Ten-inch? I said, ten-foot, more like, that’s what I’d need with that Judith! The face on her, like acid it was!’
Susan’s face was flaming scarlet; Alex was head bowed, face almost in the soup.
Through gritted teeth, Susan said, ‘You. Are. Horrid!’
She jumped to her feet, quick enough that her chair tipped over to the carpet. She tugged Alex’s hand from beneath the table to clasp hold. Alex was still resolutely staring into the soup.
‘I wish he didn’t have a “winkle”, just to shut you up! But he does.’
Susan smiled sweetly at her father.
‘I think I’ll take him to the park and let him show it to me. Hopefully twice!’