Friday, 25 January 2019

Anna

by Roger Noons

a glass of Pastis.


The woman who answers the door is fat, untidy with a pouchy, sagging jowl, like a toad; a chest on which she can rest her forearms.
    ‘Anna invited me. ’ I smile.
    Obviously not a lady to rush, she studies me, thinks about it, then stands aside. As I pass her aura of garlic and sweat, she mumbles, ‘Up the stairs, second door on the left.’
    I tap on the designated door three times before it is opened sufficiently for me to identify a single eye. ‘Anna invited me, I—’
    ‘Wait next door.’
    I step into a large room, obviously for ablutions. A bell-shaped boiler in copper and brass throbs on it’s plinth. A free-standing, cast iron bath sits atop a platform so high there are three steps to provide access. The other half of the floor supports a high level cisterned lavatory and a wash basin. Above me suspended from the ceiling, an airer displays a range of women’s lingerie and hose. Sitting on the toilet seat cover I find the pull on the chain is a ten-inch high, ceramic Napoleon.
    Hearing a door open and voices, I stand up, but am surprised when a door in the wall between lavatory and basin opens and Anna enters. Her perfume engulfs me as she approaches, wearing a mini, silk robe displaying tigers.
    ‘Cherie, you should have made an appointment. I have lots of clients, you mustn’t walk in from the street.’
    ‘You said to come and see you, you didn’t tell me … you gave me no telephone number.’
    Frowning, she studies me. ‘Where did I see you?’
    ‘In the book shop, last week. Thursday, I think it was.’
    She shakes her head. ‘I don’t go in book shops, is not necessary.’
    ‘But it was you,’ I pleaded. ‘You told me your address.’ 
    Still shaking her head she says, ‘You must go now, I have a gentleman due.’

I become more annoyed as I walk back down the hill. At the bus stop a woman is attempting to control a toddler. Instead of sympathising with a smile, I turn my back and sulk. I try to analyse what upsets me most, being put in the wrong, or suggesting that I would need to seek the services of a prostitute. When the bus arrives, I am still undecided.
    At the supermarket opposite my apartment I stock up for three or four days. I will assuage my mood by writing. I begin a story with :

The woman who answers the door is fat, untidy with a pouchy, sagging jowl, like a toad; a chest on which she can rest her forearms.

It is Friday and I have completed the story, sent it off to a magazine. Needing to escape, I walk into the centre of town, sit at a café, order coffee with croissants. I am just paying the waiter when Anna walks past. If she recognises me she offers no indication. I follow and watch as she enters the book shop. Taking care, using a newspaper to shield much of my face, I go in; find her standing in a corner studying a child’s picture book.
    Her words come back to me. ‘You are a writer? How wonderful. If I give you my address will you come and read one of your stories?’ 
 

About the author 

 Roger is a regular contributor to Café Lit.

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