(published 'Exuberance' 1990)
He came into the room expecting to find his fiancee. Imagine his surprise when he saw me sitting in the armchair,by the log fire, where she usually sat.
“I’m sorry, Bill, she’s not here, she’s upstairs, and would like you to go without any fuss and bother,” I said.
“But, why?” He was crestfallen. “She’s not in love with you any more. Not since,you know...well, I’m told she’s very disappointed with what you tried to do to her last night, to be blunt.”
“You mean...well, whatever it is why couldn’t she have told me herself? I could clear up any misunderstanding.”
As if automatically, he went to the window and drew the curtains across, as the street lamp just outside had just been belatedly lit by a man on tiptoes. He stood there for a few seconds, as if gathering his thoughts, staring at the floral pattern in the curtains that he’d man-handled, no doubt seeking some inspiration in the weave. He then turned, expressionless, having regained his composure and said:-
“It’s you,isn’t it? You’ve turned her against me. I’ve always seen it in your eyes, now I know it’s true...”
Any outside observer would have described my face as turning white as a sheet. I could not even bring myself to believe I heard what I heard him implying. Then the door to the room opened and in she came, tears streaming down her uncannily young face.
“Bill, just go! Make it as easy as possible. We can’t go on, and that’s that,” she sobbed.
“What did I do?”
I had ceased to be party to the gathering; I slipped into the shadows and just watched.
“Fancy saying you could pretend to be a doctor and that you would give me an internal examination!”
“But it was a game! You agreed, darling.”
“But you didn’t do it right, Bill.You only used your finger!”
Hearing a smart knocking at the window, I went over and undrew the curtains. It was now completely dark outside, but one could see that there was the lamp-lighter with his face squashed up to the glass, flecks of drool rhythmically bubbling at his nostrils.
He shouted something like:
“Doctor,come quick, there be an accident down the road...”
I immediately grabbed my coat and ran out to help, leaving my daughter to deal with her ex-fiance herself.