YOU’LL HAVE TO RUN, BERYL.

YOU’LL HAVE TO RUN, BERYL.

A Story by Peter Rogerson
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A tale of geriatric lust....

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You’ll have to run, Beryl!” shouted Billy Tomkiss as Beryl pulled her coat on.

Beryl frowned at him. She knew she’d have to run, of course she did. There was rain about, and thunder and lightning, and if she didn’t run she’d get wet. But it was how far she’d have to run that troubled her. She’d have to run down the street " and Billy, who’d fed her and watered her, with muffins and coffee, lived on a very long street, and to make matters worse his house was at one end at No. 1 and hers was as far away as it could be whilst still on the same street, at No. 193.

And Beryl couldn’t run.

There was no way she could do more than stagger snail-like, what with her hip and a bad back and all the years piled like a ton weight on her.

I’ll have to stay till it stops, Billy,” she told him, pulling her coat back off. “And I don’t want you to think I’ve got any interests in your body ‘cause I’ve not, but I’m not getting wet, not with this downpour and not with the half mile I’ve got to walk. So get that kettle on again, and where did you buy those muffins ‘cause they’re damned nice?”

There was a rancid moment’s silence, and...

What do you mean, you’ve got no interests in my body? What’s wrong with it? I reckon I’ve got a perfectly acceptable body, taken all in all,” muttered Billy

I’m getting wet out here. I’m coming back in!”

Who says, Beryl? Who says you’re coming back in after what you said about my body?”

I didn’t say anything...”

But I heard you plain as plain, plain as I’m standing here in the dry and you’re out there in the rain!”

I just said I don’t want you to think I’ve got any interests in your body, because I haven’t. After all, I’m a married woman with a husband whose body I am interested in!”

And you want me to give you another cup of coffee when there’s nothing in it for me? No half hour spent in ecstasy embracing you on the settee in front of a nice warm fire, no sweetness and light in the twilight of our years, no intimate cuddles, nothing like that?”

I don’t even want another cup of coffee!”

But you told me to get the kettle on again. You said you would have another coffee. Why should I give you one?”

Why should you? Because it’s raining enough to drown a cat in and I’m your friend….”

Were. You were my friend!”

Why were?”

Well, because I thought there might be something in it for me. Some little bit of intimacy before we’re both too old for intimacy, some little sign that there’s a light in my life, that you’re a light in my life and that there’s a great deal of joy that two souls like us could have even though you are married.”

I don’t know where you got that idea from!”

Digory told me, you know, Digory your husband. He said that he’s sure we’re having an affair behind his back and that if he’s right he’ll divorce you quick as winking because that would leave him free to carry on with Mary from number 46 on the other side of the street, and she’s a widow.”

What? My Digory and that trollop?”

She’s all right, is Mary. And she’s been widowed for ages. More than ten years.”

More than twenty, the trollop, and they say she’s done the rounds in that time! And she’s set her sights on my Digory, has she? Well, he’s mine and that’s all there is to it. I’m not having an affair with you or anyone else, and you can tell Digory that if you want to!”

What’s wrong with me, then? I’m not so bad as to be spurned at first glance, am I?”

I always thought you were on okay guy, Billy. It didn’t matter to me that you’re slightly hunch-backed and have a limp. Of course it didn’t! It’s what’s in the heart that matters.”

And you don’t like what’s in my heart?”

Of course I do! Though after this chat and with me still standing in the rain I’m beginning to have my doubts!”

It’s just that you said you didn’t want my body...”

I’ve had enough of this!”

Well do you or don’t you? I mean, I can still manage most of the things that the youngsters get up to when they’re in pairs. I can still dance...”

I don’t like dancing!”

I can kiss. I can cuddle. I can whisper sweet nothings. I can even mean it!”

And I’m thoroughly wet! A gentleman who cared for me wouldn’t have left me standing in this rain for so long! A gentleman would have offered me shelter until the rain stops.”

And a lady would have been kinder about my body.”

What did you want me to say? That I really fancy you, that you’re special and I find you so attractive that I can hardly contain myself…?”

Something like that, I suppose.”

Well, I believe in the truth, Billy, and I don’t find you attractive. You’re deformed, man, with that back of yours, and the squint doesn’t help. It’s not because I want your body that we’re friends any more than it’s because you want my body...”

How do you know I don’t?”

I’ve got mirrors at home, Billy. I know what I look like, and I never have been an oil painting.”

And you’ve got that bad hip and an even worse back, Beryl. You’re almost eighty married to a man who hasn’t been able to … you know what he hasn’t been able to do, not since he was fifty! He told me that much himself. He said limp was limp and had to stay that way. He said his wife must be an angel for staying with him, what with what he can’t do.”

What he can’t do doesn’t matter, Billy! And you should know that, what with your tendency to philosophise. What he can’t do is nothing compared to what he can do!”

And what’s that?”

He can tell me he loves me, Billy, and mean it. That’s what he can do and it’s more than you or any other man can do! He can tell me that he loves me, and mean it.”

And I don’t? Not if I say it to you, that I love you, Beryl?”

The look she gave him was contemptuous.

I’m wet and I’m walking home, Billy,” she said, “and we’ll probably pass each other on the flaming streets of Hell because there’s no way someone like you will ever find his way to Heaven. So there!”

You’ll have to run, Beryl,” he called to her departing, limping self.

Or walk, he added silently as the sun broke through and lit the way to the other end of the road.

© Peter Rogerson 14.07.17




© 2017 Peter Rogerson



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Added on July 14, 2017
Last Updated on July 14, 2017
Tags: disabled, limping bunch-back, squint, conversation

Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 73 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing