Bishop takes Queen
Here we are. Have a look in this store window. Show some interest in those wares. Look harder – spy her between the mannequins sitting behind the counter reading. Scribbling. Reading. Florida Müller.
She glances up and outward and squints a little with pricked interest at a possible discovery, and I am loath to see her wait one moment longer. The game commences.
“Isn’t the world a small place!” I exclaim, conjuring up a fountain of surprise. “What a wonderful coincidence.” And I’m snail pacing over the parquet with opened arms.
“Alex Ferry!” Gasp of surprise receding into bright, exuberant smile. On her feet. Meet me halfway. Throwing herself. And I making the catch.
Hugging, like we’ve just cheated death. Exchanging kisses on both cheeks – this is Berlin. The prize flicking blonde hair into place around blue eyes bristling with new purpose. It’s warm in Florida.
“It is I, Leclerc.“ Raising my eyebrows to reinforce the impression of the ‘Allo Allo‘ character known for his abject failure in the art of disguise – one of her favourites – sharing the hearty laughter which his stupidity always induces.
Soft hands over mine guiding me behind the counter to plant me down on a little stool next to her chair.
“I ran into Avery recently,” she says, still standing, all flustered with excitement and delightful pressure points straining inside buttoned shirt. “Did he tell you?” That mouth. Mm. Dope & Drakker jeans caressing perfect hips. Naughty me zooming in everywhere.
“Avery!” Of course he did. “No; we haven’t spoken recently. But here I am anyway.”
“Yes, here you are, and probably in a rush, as always, I presume! Look.” She motions to a note-filled pad, course materials and text-books laying on the surface under the counter. “Exams coming up. Non-stop studying, even here.” The paper chase – tax law.
“You’re exactly what I need right now, the perfect distraction. So no rushing off!”
Nodding my head as she beams and tip-toes backward into the storeroom with index finger held up in command for me to stay put, returning all smiles with an espresso, and an apology for her inability to indulge my habit of tequila on the side, with a reminder of ‘no such discrepancies if we were at my place’, but I don’t mind and she knows I don’t, and proceeds to employ the moment to bring me up to date regarding the things I should know, such as, ‘Paul is gone and it’s great to be single again are you still with that Irish girl!’
“Indeed. Can Robin be without his Marion?”
“She was the death of him.”
“A sweet and honourable death.” And we laugh silly like two kids who just got away with breaking the china.
Our last encounter was just before Christmas, at Paul’s birthday bash, where she, with abundant finesse, fulfilled her function as lady of the evening, while concealing her intention to discontinue the relationship. However, some days later, as the pleasures of celebration subsided, so did the obligation, and Paul’s house of straw crumbled in a heap of heartache, as the beautiful wolf huffed and puffed her way to the exit.
A tall beautiful woman in a bowler hat examines the leather bags. She’s particularly interested in the green one, because it matches the shoes on her feet. I’m a sucker for nice shoes – 35 pairs in my closet.
Florida skilfully navigates the way to her ego like butter on hot toast, while I sit – with the latest issue of Cathy Boom’s Style Magazine – on a well padded circular leather sofa in the middle of the room, enthralled by her beauty, and fantasies of those stunning legs bearing nothing but nakedness and that leather bag.
American Express closes the deal, twirling between rich slender fingers as she takes ownership of the bag and one of Devaki’s hand-made hats. And as she leaves, atheist me is praying secretly to see her again.
Florida and I resume, on the sofa, with another espresso, whereby I probe with delicate diplomacy her level of intent, aware that even in friendship, the man-woman paradigm is ever present – the theoretical possibility to engage sexually!
I’m no Einstein, but I’m capable of juggling the numbers; this equation cries out to be solved, and can be, if we allow ourselves the pleasure of becoming… the common denominator.
Paul is still heartbroken, she tells me, and that’s sad for him but she has moved on with her life, off to Spain in the summer, in search of naughty pleasures on new horizons.
Am I still breaking the law, she wants to know, enjoying my ill-gotten gains and not giving the state its fair due!
Who? Me? A law abiding citizen such as myself! You are, most certainly mistaken, I jest. But that’s gotten us laughing some.
I regale her with tales from my last trip to Ireland: people eating breakfast repeatedly throughout the day, which is easy, because after midday it’s called a fry. Dublin’s worst restaurant – Eddie Rockets. A night spent in an Irish cottage down in Cork. A castle for an entire weekend in Drogheda. Parties with Provo-IRA sympathisers on Laytown beach where ‘The Crying Game’ was filmed, which in turn got us talking about said film, how IRA Fergus escapes to London and falls in love with the girlfriend of the hostage British soldier who died in his custody. So intriguing, the way Fergus makes his move when it’s time to bed her, kissing, gentle, loins rumbling with want, exploring downward, but instead of a swollen mound brimming with moisture, tough guy finds himself buried nose-deep in Captain Haddocks beard eyeballing a one-eyed Bishop, the shock, and him running to the bathroom to throw up, with the she-man crying ‘I thought you knew, I thought you knew.’
Our insides are torn from laughter, and we could talk forever, but today there is no time.
excerpt from current manuscript©A.N Herbert
Lead Photo: H-E-R-O#13©John van Fleet