Mad Dogs and Englishmen...

Mad Dogs and Englishmen...

A Story by Sean M. Palfrey

An ex-pat living in 1930's Alexandria meets an old friend and collegue, and is introduced to his new wife...




The intense heat of the midday sun would have been enough to drive most people into the safety of their own homes, but like myself, there were always those people who chose to brave the sun day-to-day on the dusty streets of Alexandria, in order to make their way through the marketplace. Said marketplace was usually the quickest and most direct route to my destination, but as my indolence had increased, the days had become indistinguishable from one another, which lead me to wrongly guess what day it was. Therefore the quickest route, today, had become the longest. I fought against the traders on my flanks, firmly declining the spices and trinkets thrust under my nose. After an eternity I emerged from the crowd, soaked in sweat, for the close proximity of people in such a confined area had served to increase the already unbearable temperatures to new heights. My walking had become laboured, and my vision was slightly blurred, and I felt faint from the smell of street cooking and baking camel s**t that had saturated my lungs. But I was close to my destination.
As I approached the shaded seating area of the bar I signalled to the barman for a pitcher of ice-water, and took a seat. Three tables over, an old man in the customary off-white safari suit complete with garish medals and sherry stains on the lapels, was talking loudly at the backs of a couple of soldiers stood at the bar, who in turn sang a round of Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out in the Midday Sun, louder and louder in order to drown out his rambling anecdotes. Rejected, he then forcefully grabbed the arm of the Egyptian boy who came to refill his glass, and began to subject him to his life story, still maintaining the volume he had adopted to use against the young riflemen at the bar, as if he were a radio broadcasting his story to all in the area hoping someone would make note of it, spread it, and give him some degree of the immortality his old age had created a craving for. However, in spite of his volume, his accounts of his time in India and South Africa would often become a drunken slur, interposed with comical statements such as: “And the dogs went mad in the heat. So we shot them!” Yet all the while the Egyptian boy always kept a polite smile on his lips, even though his eyes betrayed the occasional wince of pain, caused by the old man’s unusually strong grip. Eventually, the old soldier’s attention, conviction, and grip on the boy began to decline, until the boy was able to gently release his arm, leaving the old man alone once more, and staring blankly into his drink. Finally my ice water appeared on my table, complete with a tall glass, and an apologetic Egyptian boy.
Eventually, after regaining my composure, I was joined at my table by the one responsible for this trying rendezvous and therefore the day’s traumas thus far. George Folkestone had been a colleague of mine at the BBC during the First World War; our mutual ‘conscientious objections’ to the slaughter in the name of empire wouldn’t stop us making a living from it. But unlike me he had turned it into a career and became a top war correspondent. It was actually his time as a war correspondent in Russia during the civil war that had led him to become fascinated with socialism (despite his impeccable bourgeois credentials), and upon his return to England, becoming a member of the Labour party. This move had in turn led him to buy arms for the Spanish Republic during the 1936-1939 Spanish civil war, and it was for these two reasons that after world war two he was banned from touring war torn Russia. Between 1947 and 1960, we lost contact, but in 1964 I received a letter from him that revealed that he was in Cuba and had dictated the letter due to a case of gangrene in his right arm, brought on by his alcoholism. I set out to Cuba to meet him, only to find out that he had died the day the letter was sent. He was aged 76.
George sat down, ordered a bottle of dry gin, and a short glass. He then took out an already yellowing handkerchief, and wiped his brow. I looked at him wearily across the table.
‘Hello George…’ I leant over and shook his hand ‘How have you been?’
‘Busy as usual, how is the book coming along?’
‘Nearly finished… I just need an ending.’ A half true statement that made me dig my nails into the palms of my hands. In truth, the book was all but finished… but it had remained all but finished for nearly a year.
‘Good! You will send me a copy when it’s finally done?’
‘Of course.’ I thought I detected a hint of sarcasm in his voice, making me more self-conscious than before, and causing me to dig my nails further into my dry palms. George leant back in his chair, wafted air at his face with his hat and took a long gulp of his gin.
‘So… Why did you want to meet?’
‘Oh, you really are impatient. Just sit back and enjoy the sun for a little while.’
‘I’ve been enjoying the sun for the best part of six months. Besides it is the hottest part of the day.’
‘Just relax, sip your water and enjoy the sea breeze then.’ I conceded with a resentful sigh expressing my displeasure. George was always quite controlling, relentless in asserting himself in any social situation he found himself in. When the Egyptian boy finally returned with a fresh pitcher of water, George restarted the conversation.
‘I want you to meet my wife tonight.’ I was about to laugh, but caught sight of his eyes, fixed on me, waiting to gauge my reaction. In the end, I thought better of it.
‘Surely not. You’ve always been the quintessential bachelor!’
‘It’s true.’
‘Two weeks ago.’
‘I must say I’m shocked.’
‘So was I.’
‘You mean it was on the spur of the moment?’
‘Sort of…’
‘Well, it either was or it wasn’t.’
‘Ok, it wasn’t. I mean, I didn’t realise how serious she was. I met her last Christmas in Turin, and we fell into a relationship. Then two weeks ago she said we should get married and I…’
‘Sounds like you rushed into it to me.’
‘This is why you have to meet her. You’ll understand when you meet her, then you can help me convince my mother it was a good idea.’
‘Oh, dear.’ I groaned ‘You haven’t told her yet?’
‘No.’ George’s mother was universally feared by everyone who had ever met her. Even her late husband, George’s father - a Lieutenant-Colonel with the household cavalry, had made it his business to be on campaign for ninety percent of his married life, until his death from dysentery in India in 1904. His death had in turn made his wife very rich, and she was determined to keep the family estate intact (a modest estate compared to many of the aristocratic families at the time, but one that had been painstakingly built through private enterprise and strategic marriages since the early eighteenth century, and therefore felt more valuable than it actually was). This meant George would have to marry well, in exchange for which, he would then inherit his mother’s entire estate. However, if he married without her approval, he wouldn’t get a penny. Yet, there was still a glint of hope in George’s eyes that seemed infectious.
‘Is she from a good family?’
‘They were good once. Her uncle still has land and as he is childless, and she is his brother’s only child, so she will most likely inherit a large portion of this when he dies.’
‘So there is still hope.’
‘Oh yes.’
‘So much for socialism!’
‘I was wondering when that would come up.’
‘Well George. You’re looking to become a card carrying member of the bourgeoisie!’
‘Well you can’t be influential without first having money… especially in a country such as England. Besides, Marx was middle class.’ I would often engage in heated political discussions as much as the next man, but trying to argue the point of non-compatible ideologies to George, was as futile as being an “Anarchist-Quaker”, so I decided to side-step the entire tangent and return to the main subject.
‘So when am I meeting her?’
‘In the bar of your hotel, at nine this evening?’

‘Very well.’ I leaned forward and finished my water. ‘Will you have eaten by then?’
‘Most unlikely.’
‘Then we’ll make it dinner. I’ll make a reservation when I get back to my room.’ I stood up to leave.
‘… Don’t you want to know what she’s like?’
I looked back down at him. ‘The question is; are you eager to tell me?’ His face had lit up at the mere thought of her. I sat back down. ‘… Oh, go on then.’
‘She’s … very Italian’
‘What, a fascist?’
‘No, no! I mean she’s fiery, and passionate!’
‘What does she look like?’
‘Tall, athletic and healthy.’ This was a change from the small mousy English and French women that I would usually associate with George. His last significant other having been a quiet girl from Toulouse whom he had met only a couple of days after he had grown bored of his previous two month relationship to a quiet girl from York.
‘That makes a change.’
‘What do you mean?’ He pulled his face, an obvious signal for me to elaborate in a manner that would not offend him.
‘Well you usually go for easily dominated women - the exact opposite of your mother… but this one sounds as though she could lock horns with the old trout quite easily!’ George pulled his face into a smug grin, and sat back in the tall wicker chair.
‘That’s just it, that’s why I love her! She’s so powerful that she makes me feel like I could take her on!’
‘I would like to see that!’
‘Yes well…’ His face became slightly flushed as the hypothetical scenario played itself out in his mind.
‘Well George.’ I stood up once again, this time with conviction. ‘If we are to have any hope of eating tonight I will have to return to make this reservation.’
‘Very well, until nine this evening - chin-chin!’ He swiftly raised the glass to his lips and took a big gulp that finished off what was left. I returned my hat to my head and waved at him as he began to re-fill the glass.
The walk back to the hotel took just as long as the walk from it. The flow of people beginning to spill out of the market place saturated every possible alternative route I could take. Fortunately the heat of the midday sun was beginning to subside, and with the growing sea breeze the day had finally become bearable. However my clothes were still soaked with sweat, so the fans in the hotel lobby had caused my shirt to start sticking to my skin. I made my way over to the sycophant behind the reception desk to make my dinner reservation.
‘Very good sir! Would you like your usual bottle of wine bringing up to your room hmmm?’ He spoke through a ventriloquist’s static smile that never failed to un-nerve me.
‘Not today. Thank you.’
‘Very good sir! Will that be all hmmm?’
‘Yes, that’s all.’
‘Very good sir! Have a pleasant day!’ I shuddered off his demeanour and hurried towards the stairs. By the time I had returned to my room, the sweat had begun to dry and turn my white shirt a sickly yellow. I shut the door behind me and threw my clothes off, before getting into the shower. The maid hadn’t been today, or the day before, and the cockroaches that were usually hidden away in the wall cavities were walking about in plain sight, hissing loudly to each other without a care. I would have complained, but dealing with the receptionist more than once a day never agreed with me. Besides, my shoe or the maid’s, it makes no difference to the insect that you’re stepping on. I let them be for the time being and lay on the un-made bed, that stank of two sweaty, sleepless nights before a knock at the door startled me into dressing myself.
In the doorway stood the diminutive figure of the bellboy - under his arm he clutched a bundle of various international newspapers. He smiled sincerely as he handed them to me, and apologised for the late delivery in broken English laced with a Pseudo-American twang, probably picked up from too many sensationalist American radio programmes. He beamed another brilliant white smile at me, not bothering to make the standard “Tip me!” gesture, and ran-off down the corridor. I closed the door, breathing a sigh of relief, and made my way over to the table opposite my bed. I sat down and thumbed through the various papers - The Times (three days out of date), Le Monde (one week out of date), Der Spiegel (four days out of date), and the Tribune (the same edition as the one in my bin). I sat scanning the headlines in each paper for a paragraph, a sentence, a word that would provide the necessary catalyst for inspiration to finish the book that sat in a pile of well-thumbed sheets of cheap A4 paper by the typewriter. I tore out random articles and columns in sheer desperation - my eyes hard-fixed on the metallic lump on the desk that, in my heat exhausted state, twisted and contorted into a monstrous mocking visage. I tore out the single sheet that sat in the typewriter that bore nothing upon its surface other than the three-digit page number 239, and screwed it into a ball before throwing it at the closed window. George’s cynical and sarcastic tone when the status of the book came up had caused my numbed feelings towards the work to inflame. I felt sick with my inability to form my native language into fiction. My years as a correspondent, my boasts to my various editors and ultimately my publishers, the speed at which I’d written the majority of the book all came flooding back to me and heightened the already crippling sense of inadequacy I felt in my chest. I took out a scrap of paper and an old silver fountain pen from the sandy, leather bag by my feet and scribbled out a private curse before consigning it into my painfully overflowing note book.
The sun was growing a bloody red colour in the Mediterranean sky, but what should have been the beautiful cliché of watching the sun sink into the sea was stolen from me, as the hotel was located far back from any water and therefore was subject to a landlocked view of tightly packed, flat-roofed houses. Soon the sun was also obscured by the ancient urban sprawl, and its light was snuffed out by the horizon. Torches, fires and vehicle lights now dominated the streets in the twilight as people emerged from their houses to descend on the street cooks in order to take part in the nightly affair of communal eating.
It was still unbearably hot inside my room without the luxury of a natural breeze. The dry ground and buildings absorbed the sun’s heat over the course of the day to gradually release throughout every single night, turning the dry heat of the day into an oppressive humidity. The only breaks in this cycle were the occasional storms that formed over the Mediterranean and made landfall on the Nile delta. Rain like God’s own tears, the sweetest of all of life‘s infrequent mercies. However there was no chance of rain tonight; the voice of the empire - the BBC World Service - had decreed it. And I didn’t dare to open the windows to channel the breeze into my room the biting insects always came in force off the water in the twilight hours, and the risk of mixing blood with the parasites and diseases they carried was too great. So for the moment I was trapped in this reptile house, and found myself unexpectedly looking forward to what would be the undoubtedly awkward meeting of my best friend’s new wife. At least I would be out of the cell of a hotel room and safe from harassment, if only for one evening.
I made my way back into the bathroom, undressing myself as I walked. I opened the medicine cabinet and liberally rubbed myself down with talcum powder, before washing the sludgy excess from my hands. I studied my chin in the mirror, I hadn’t shaved in a couple of days and I was stubbly. My vanity told my I looked rugged, and I believed it, so I left my shaving kit where it lay. I only owned one dinner suit, (the other I had sold in Morocco about a year ago, in order to pay a disgustingly over-inflated bar tab at the hotel where I was staying) and this one was in need of some repair - There was moth damage on the seat of the trousers (which luckily was covered by the length of the jacket), and the jacket’s lining was frayed and torn in places. I’d never considered having it repaired before now, as company was always few and far between, but as it was only George and he had already seen me in far worse states over the years, I decided it would be adequate for tonight. At least it was still nicely pressed, and didn’t smell like stale cigarette smoke. I lay the suit on the bed along with a clean white shirt and black bow tie. I picked up my shoes and gave them a quick spit-shine before dressing myself. After several unsuccessful attempts to tie my bow tie the phone rang. I shuddered as the receptionist’s voice erupted into life on the other end of the line.
‘A Mr and Mrs George Folkestone are awaiting your presence in the hotel bar. Would you like me to tell them you will be with them shortly hmmm?’
‘No, thank you. I shall be there imminently.’
I slammed the phone down to cut-off any further correspondence with that man. I decided to leave the bow tie hanging undone around my neck and unbuttoned the top of my shirt as I left my room, to complete my rugged semi-formal look for this evening.
In the bar George was still wearing the same clothes as when we met earlier in the day. He clutched a glass of gin in his hand despite already being drunk. There was a glass of red wine on the table, however he was alone. I made my way over to him, exchanging knowing glances with the barman who had memorised my habit - Whiskey sour, on the rocks, no bullshit. George gave a lethargic blink up at me. I grabbed his hand and sat down before he could try and get up.
‘You’re drunk George.’
‘I’m on holiday and I’m enjoying myself.’ He sat back.
‘Your drinking will be the death of you.’
‘Maybe so, but at least it’s not opium.’
‘Touché.’ The barman brought over my drink. George’s eyes fixed on my glass as I took a sip.
‘Hypocrite,’ He scoffed. I decided to move the conversation on.
‘So where’s this wife of yours?’
George gave me another long blink and shifted his weight to look around the room. ‘She’s around here somewhere…’ Then he remembered what she had told him. ‘Oh! She said she had to go and “Powder her nose.”’ He chuckled to himself, and I smiled in return. I would always tell myself that George drank to keep himself sedated, and sane in a job that exposed him the absolute depths of human suffering and the unspeakable evil that men do.
During our time with the BBC in the First World War, George and I had been visiting troops on the frontline in order to gather propaganda stories (as that was all the army censors would pass onto our employers). When war broke out in 1914, there was laughing and joking in the ranks - another great boy’s adventure: “God save the King!” and all that. But when we returned in the February of 1917, there was no laughing. A melancholic cloud hung over the trench as fatigue, bitter cold and years of almost constant shelling - that were only briefly interrupted by random intervals of mindless slaughter - had taken a massive toll on the nerves of the ranks. We, for the most part, as journalists had been sheltered far behind the lines in Paris with the architects of the mayhem. But on that day a stray shell landed in the trench just around the corner from us. We were lucky enough to have been protected by a mound of dirt, but the huddled mass of soldiers on the other side of it had taken a direct hit. George and I were left covered in mud, shreds of khaki material, and chunks of flesh and offal. George got drunk that night.
I motioned to the barman once again and he nodded towards me.
‘Here she is!’ George said in a drunken volume. A smile stretched across his face and he held out his hand. A tall, slim woman with tanned skin, that had a sheen to it like olive oil, and long dark curly hair sauntered over to where George and I were sitting. She didn’t take his hand. I stood up, but she blanked me and sat down. She was obviously frustrated at being shown off to me in such a manner.

‘Good evening Mrs Folkestone.’ She smiled, half humoured and half embarrassed.
‘Please, call me Cristina.’
‘Very well.’
‘Oh my! You really are very English aren’t you?’
‘I try to do my best.’ I found her impertinent. She found me quaint. George smiled like a damned fool, clutching his drink in his chair. I sat back down and took a large gulp of my drink. I studied her out of the corner of my eye as all three of us sat in an awkward silence sipping our drinks; eventually she began to study me back.
‘So when are we going to eat?’ George took out his pocket watch futilely trying to focus his eyes on the small dial. I took mine out instead.
‘The reservation is at nine, so we have another five minutes.’ I watched as George’s face hardened at his watch.

‘Must be broken,’ He mumbled before forcing it back into its pocket.
Cristina and I stood up simultaneously to walk over to the dining room. George struggled to lift himself and followed behind us, carefully watching his feet lift and land on the thick red carpet. Cristina hung back, linked arms with him and led him to where I was standing with the head waiter. He led us to a table by a large window that provided a panoramic view of the city. He handed us all a menu and I motioned to him to give the wine list to Cristina.
‘Thank you.’ She smiled at me and then the waiter. ‘I’d have thought you would know the wine in this place like the back of your hand.’
‘I’m a creature of habit; I only ever order the same bottle of wine everyday. So I thought I’d let you break my routine.’ I felt a blush rise from my stomach. If my face hadn’t been permanently red from the sun I might have felt embarrassed by it. She pointed to a name on the menu and the waiter nodded before quickly walking to the bar. We sat in an awkward silence. I looked to George to re-start the flow of conversation, but he grinned into his drink. Cristina and I made simultaneous eye contact, and both self-consciously turned our heads towards the menu.
‘The fish is very good. It’s caught literally a few miles away, and wouldn’t be fresher even if you’d caught it yourself.’ I choked on my own small-talk as it struggled out of my dry throat.
‘Um, that sounds quite nice.’
‘It is.’ We both turned back to our menus and I scratched at the point where the leather cover of the menu joined itself on the corner. After a futile attempt at trying to make out the cursive font of the menu, George finally decided to join us in polite conversation.
‘What’s the special? I want something vaguely familiar as I’m in familiar company for the first time in months.’
‘It’s usually something overpriced.’
‘Ah well, that’s familiar enough!’ All three of us shared the first genuinely un-awkward laugh of the evening. The wine appeared on the table, and both Cristina and I made an effort to join in with George’s inebriation. When the food finally arrived I leant across the table to order a second bottle so we wouldn’t run out between courses as I did, I inadvertently brushed my hand against Cristina’s leg. I sat back in my chair with my spine rigid. She pretended not to notice, but a hint of a blush was evident on her cheeks. I drank some more wine and we ate in silence.
In the intervals between the courses, George would fall in and out of sleep, leaving me and his wife alone to seethe at him under our breath for placing us in what was becoming an awkward situation. We sat talking about anything we could to drown out any other thoughts that might enter our heads. Soon we had exhausted every topic from the weather through to the décor of the restaurant.
‘So how did you meet George?’
‘Well we were colleagues in the BBC…’
‘That I already know, but what were the details: where, when, who introduced themselves first?’
‘I’m not sure. It was a long time ago.’
‘I would like to know. George talks about you a lot. But never about you and him.’ She sat back in the chair. Her light dress clung to her breasts. I shook the thought out of my head and tried to force my mind back to 1914.
‘It was in Paris I think. I’d been working there just prior to the outbreak of war, and George had got a job literally the week before. As I knew the ropes but wasn’t important enough to be left to my own devices, our editor decided that I should take him under my wing.’ I caught sight of Cristina‘s legs and cleared my throat. ‘And really all the ups and downs of the war cemented our friendship.’ She smiled. George snored loudly and woke himself up. He yawned.
‘I think I drifted off.’ His eyes closed again as he spoke, and I looked at Cristina.
‘I think we’d better get him into a bed.’ She looked at her watch.
‘It’s already eleven thirty. We should pay the bill and get out of here… Could we get him up to your room to sleep it off? Our hotel is a long walk away and we couldn’t get him there by ourselves until he sobers up.’ I nodded, not giving much thought as to where I was going to sleep that night.
George fell onto my bed with a heavy thud. His body twisted in protest and he rolled onto his side, but he didn’t wake up. Cristina and I made our way out onto the balcony of my room. She leaned against the railing and playfully swung her leg behind her as she peered down into the street below whilst I sat on one of the old iron chairs in the corner. What little breeze there was that night would occasionally lift her dress to reveal the tops of her stockings. She caught me staring, and I quickly averted my eyes and scratched at my hands as she turned to face me. I looked back; her skin sparkled in the moonlight. I could hear George snoring loudly from behind the thin glass. I had to drown him out along with the thoughts of his wife in my head.
‘How long will he be like this?’ What little worry I had for my friend had been replaced with frustration.
‘He’s usually out for the night when he gets like this.’
‘How often does he get like this?’
‘He has good periods and bad periods that can each last for weeks at a time.’
‘What sets him off?’
‘He never tells me.’ She sat in the chair next to me and put her hand on my leg. ‘I wish I knew him like you do.’ I swallowed hard and put my hand on top of hers.
‘I don’t usually have anyone to talk to when he’s like this…let alone some one who is closer to him than me.’
‘I wouldn’t say we were closer than you and him, after all you are his wife. Besides we sometimes go for a good year between speaking.’
‘He’s never far from your mind though is he?’
‘I suppose not. We have experienced a lot together…’
‘Don’t worry I won’t pry for details.’
‘Thank you. But still, you should hear the way he talks about you. He does love you very deeply.’ She sighed to herself.
‘I love him too. I just…’ Her eyes filled with tears that shone in the moonlight. I instinctively gripped her hand tightly and leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. She turned her head to meet my lips, and I pulled back in shock. I heard George grunt in my room. I looked over my shoulder towards him, and then back at Cristina. There were tears running down her face.
‘Please…’ She half sobbed, half gasped. I leant towards her and we kissed.
‘This is wrong; he’s in the next room.’ I breathed heavily in her ear as her hand ran up the inside of my leg.
‘He’s dead to the world.’
She kissed me again and my protests ceased. She moaned as I grabbed her by the hips and began to kiss her neck. She moved her hands under my jacket and dug her nails into my back. I winced, bit into her neck and she gasped. A feeling of guilt in the pit of my stomach caused me to turn my head back to face my room, but she pulled me back to her lips. Slowly we stood up together. I pulled her close to me and ran my hands up towards her breasts before pushing her up towards the wall. We fumbled with each other’s clothes until both my trousers and her knickers were on the on the balcony floor, and I lifted her so she could wrap her long legs around my hips. I felt I had to make an insincere attempt at stopping this before it went too far. If George’s snoring from the next room hadn’t sounded so judgemental then I probably wouldn’t have bothered with such a formality.
‘You realise won’t feel closer to him by f*****g me…’
‘This isn’t about George. This is about me.’ She began to buck her hips and breathe shallowly as I gripped the back of her hair. ‘I just need to feel…’ She winced and whimpered in pain as the rough façade of the hotel wall scratched the skin of her back. I shifted her weight and moved her towards the railing of the balcony. She read my intentions and turned to face the skyline of the city, whose populace was gradually returning home. She was moaning now, and drowning out the snores from the next room. People in the streets below were looking up towards the balcony, and complaints (that I would become aware of the next evening), were being made in the rooms that bordered mine. I was lost in her; her scent in my nostrils, her moans in my skull. My knees buckled and soon I was sat back in the chair. She then sat on my lap with her arms around me. I didn’t want this feeling to end. I knew tomorrow morning she would leave with George and I would only see her in brief awkward glances across the rooms at George’s parties. I was sick with jealousy. I was angry that he was with her and not me. That pathetic drunk. I briefly considered rolling him onto his back in the hope he would choke on his own alcoholism in his sleep… Then I remembered his face when he first told me about her, and then when he introduced her. I sighed defeated. At least this would be my stolen moment of happiness - One that nobody could take away from me - One that I could privately relive without anyone else’s permission.
The sun began to rise in the east and my heavy eyes slowly blinked open. Cristina was purring to her self with her head on my shoulder. I leant over and kissed her. She stretched and smiled at me. She got up, kissed me and picked up her knickers.
‘We’d better wash before we wake George.’ I nodded and put my trousers back on. We walked into the bathroom and washed away our post-coital glows. Cristina sat next to George and gently began to wake him, like the mother he should have had. He rolled over and groaned in pain.
‘Oh, my head. How much did I drink last night?’
‘Too much… as usual dear.’ George sat up and laughed to himself and Cristina blinked back a couple of tears.
‘Sorry I wasn’t very good company last night.’
‘I’m used to it George.’ I held out my hand to help him up. He grabbed his head and massaged his temples.
‘Are we going back to the hotel then?’ He looked at Cristina who nodded without looking at him. He smiled at me and went into the toilet. Cristina looked up at me and forced a smile.
‘Thank you for last night.’
‘You…’ I coughed ‘You don’t have to go back with him.’ She stood up and took me by the hand.
‘You and I both know that it would kill him if I left him for you.’ We sighed in unison and kissed deeply. The toilet flushed and Cristina sat back down on the edge of my bed. George came back into the room.
‘So what did you two do last night?’ Cristina and I exchanged a forlorn look.
‘We talked about you George.’ I sighed. He grinned at us and slapped me on the back.
‘Nothing incriminating I hope, ha-ha!’
‘Nope, just the usual tales of us against the world.’ I was dying inside as I pandered to him. He put a hand on Cristina’s shoulder and then held it out to shake mine.
‘It has been great seeing you again. Will you be back in England for Christmas?’
‘I should think so.’
‘Great! I will call you this evening and I’ll get your opinion on that thing we were discussing. I sighed.
‘Okay,’ I turned to face Cristina and took her hand. ‘It was a pleasure meeting you Cristina. I hope to see you again very soon.’ I kissed her hand and inhaled her scent.
I walked them to the front of the hotel and waited while they got into a taxi. The walk back to my room grew more painful with every step. I blanked the Sycophantic receptionist’s early morning enquiries. I slammed the door of my room hard behind me. I walked in a daze over to the typewriter and sat down. I sniffed the palm of my hand and thought of Cristina. I pulled the typewriter towards me and began to write.

© 2008 Sean M. Palfrey

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Like it Sean. Silly question but how do I join up to this forum. New to this site and can't work it out. Am based in York.

Posted 13 Years Ago

This was beautifully written and easy to read.The dialogue is spot on and added a real depth to the characters.

Posted 13 Years Ago

I had to read this! From the title alone I knew I would like it and I more than liked it I loved it.
I love you style of writing and I will come back to read more of your work.
Great write!!! Thanks for sharing.
Kelley Frost

Posted 13 Years Ago

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3 Reviews
Added on April 14, 2008


Sean M. Palfrey
Sean M. Palfrey

Scunthorpe, United Kingdom

I'm 21, and am a former Creative Writing and English student at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth where I was fortunate enough to be taught by (among others) Jem Poster, Matthew Francis, and Tiffan.. more..