by Clive Gresswell
cappuccino deep and frothy
Freezing up on the inside Dr Sloan Jones was always alone. He couldn’t exactly remember, but thought it was as long ago as last December, when he last mixed with any other Homo Sapiens. Naturally enough that was at his sister Ruth’s Christmas party. Even then he had to go through the humility of her warning him to be on his best behavior. Ruth watched him like a hawk as he mingled with her neighbors. He was so embarrassed it was almost as painful as being in labor, Dr Jones thought to himself.
This year he considered he wasn’t going to gatecrash. Even if it meant spending those special Christmas days, those wonderful giving days of joy, at home he was determined not to force his company on anyone else this festive season.
There must be a reason I’m so unpopular he told the vicar and the doctor. They grimaced and offered platitudes – not relinquishing that it was his attitude. How now was he to show his gratitude to others if they gave him no latitude, Dr Jones mused.
Once long ago, he had lived a different life, in a semi-detached with three children and a wife. She was called Gloria and for a while brought him constant joy and euphoria. But after several years of marriage, she ran off with a tax inspector from Leicester.
She took the children, and Dr Jones became lonely and bitter. But he was determined inside to show he was no quitter. Dr Jones gave up smoking but began drinking liquor. He got grumpier and grumpier and a good deal un-fitter.
He would see the kids briefly over the holidays and they always had the power to rejuvenate and amaze. He’d also find out what toys were the latest craze. Time had distilled the sting of Gloria’s betrayal, but the hurt was still deep and disturbed his sleep.
Dr Jones knew there were things the vicar and doctor had not revealed. He suspected they still saw Gloria in her new life and probably sided with her against him. But what was it he’d done?
He really didn’t know that the way he had to rhyme all the time drove others up the wall and was in no way benign.