Wednesday 9 August 2017

Bus Stop

Robin Wrigley

pink gin and tonic

The moment Sharon turned the corner from the tube station her heart all but stopped. Standing at the bus stop no more than fifty yards away was her husband Robert and he was not alone. Stepping back around the street corner she leaned against the sandstone wall of the bank, close to fainting.
     She closed her eyes, took several deep breaths and tried to arrange her thoughts into some sensible order, willing herself not to cry. With grim determination she managed this and opened her eyes.
     Her first thought was one of complete incredulity; the man she had been married to for twenty-five years and listened to, pontificating about how he would never ever catch a London bus  for some snobbish, stupid reason, was round the corner about to do just that with an attractive woman half his age.
     By the time she had composed herself sufficiently to confront the pair the bus stop was empty and the bus was disappearing down the street. ‘The bastard. The lying, conniving creep,’ she muttered under her breath. ‘Just you wait my darling; talk your way out of this if you can.’

He was home on time a little after seven, announcing his arrival from the hall that he was going to change before dinner; just as he always did.
     ‘Something smells good,’ he said as he entered the kitchen, kissed the back of her neck and headed for the wine glasses.
     ‘Red or white darling?’
     ‘Please yourself – it’s not important,' she replied noticeably curt.
     ‘Something wrong? You sound a bit out of sorts. What have I done this time? ‘He turned to regard her while pouring two glasses of red wine.
     ‘All in good time Robert, all in good time,’ she replied testing the potatoes with a fork.
     This last remark was very unsettling and Robert almost spilt the wine he was pouring.
     ‘Go and sit at the table this will be ready in a jiffy and then we can have a nice little chat, you and me. A nice little chat.’ She steeled herself to keep calm.
     Robert carried the two glasses of wine through to the dining room and sat down. Experience had taught him over the years that there was no point in trying to carry on a conversation in the kitchen when Sharon was like this. He would be lying if he wasn’t concerned, but there was no point in pursuing this until she was good and ready.
     She came into the room carrying the two plates of dinner carefully placing Robert’s in front of him before sitting down with her own. Once she was fully seated and after taking a sip of her wine, she looked directly at her husband.
     ‘So how was your day Robert?’ She took another sip of wine and sensed his obvious discomfort; at charged moments like this the roles were normally reversed and invariably about credit card expenditures.
     He averted his gaze and began to eat pausing after the first mouthful he said. ‘Not much really, same old crap same as a normal Tuesday. Why d’you ask?’
     ‘Go anywhere at lunchtime?’
     ‘Only to the corner pub for a sandwich with Will.’ His discomfort moved up several notches up and it showed.
     ‘So you didn’t go on one of those horrible red buses that you’ve been telling everybody you’d never ride on then?’
     ‘No,’ but his voice faltered and he again avoided looking at her by concentrating on his meal.
     ‘You’re a damned liar Robert. I saw you getting on a bus with some tart around midday and don’t you try and deny it.’ She had stood up and placed both hands on the end of the table glaring at him.
     At the utterance of the last remark he also jumped to his feet. 'Be careful what you say and who you label Sharon. You are moving into deep waters. You might not like the answers to your extremely offensive line of questioning.’ He took another, deeper drink from his glass and moved to the kitchen for the bottle.
     ‘So who was this tart who has managed to get you onto a bus, something for some utterly stupid reason you said you would never, ever do. So many times I could have screamed then and I still could.’ She held her glass out for a refill and with a slightly shaking hand he obliged.
     ‘That tart is my daughter.’
     Sharon fell back in her chair spilling half of the wine on to the tablecloth creating a series of red splodges all around the tablecloth in front of her plate.
     ‘What did you say?’
     ‘You heard right, she is my daughter; it was her thirtieth birthday so I took her for lunch.’
     It was as though Sharon had been hit between the eyes with a hammer. They had spent a fortune on getting the pair of them checked out in order to start a family. She proved to be eminently fertile but his results always turned up negative.
     ‘But you’re sterile; you cannot produce children. All the reports said that.’ Sharon’s control now failed and she started to cry. How could this be?
     ‘She was conceived when I was a sixth former at grammar school; her mother was a taxi driver I met in a coffee bar. She simply fancied me and one thing led to another.’ He explained it as though he had simply helped an old lady to cross the street. The man who had denied her motherhood.
     ‘So how come we couldn’t have children? The clinic all said that I was perfectly capable. Yet your tests came back negative didn’t they? She looked at him closely; this was unbelievable.   
      I had a vasectomy after I graduated. I never wanted kids. Don’t like them.’ He sat back down in an attempt to carry on eating. 
       He never saw the plate coming for his head.

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