Wednesday 23 January 2013
I wrote this piece whilst waiting at the departure gate for my flight home from Melbourne. 😉
‘It’s inevitable, Denby, that things change. Bertram Russell once said –’
‘Don’t you bloody Bertram Russell me. I’ve had it up to here with Bertram bloody Russell,’ she interrupted, punctuating her statement with a few grand hand gestures. Her companion, stunned into silence by the ferocity of her outburst, appeared to be on the edge of tears. Of course, Florence Denby knew better.
Wallace Fisher was a master manipulator when the feeling took him – which was often. Denby had known him since childhood and was more than adequately prepared to crush him when he tried it on with her. His looming tears were the latest trick he was employing with her. He’d never been forced to pull them out at any point prior in their nearly forty-year relationship, but thought he might give it a go this time. Apparently, it wasn’t going to work. Florence Denby was almost immune to his wily ways.
‘Oh, for God’s sake, Fisher, suck it up and deal with it. You’re a jolly big boy now and you can cope with me rebuffing your stupidity. Grow a set will you?’ Florence snapped. He lowered his eyes to the floor and melodramatically wiped away the non-existent tears.
‘Can’t you let me get away with it just once, Florrie,’ he whined.
‘Not on your life you silly little man.’
The waiter that had been attending to the pair made yet another pass of their table. Florence leered at him with contempt. Realising that the waiter was about to disappear again, Wallace motioned him closer.
‘I say, old chap, how’s about a fresh pot of tea and another couple of those delicious little sandwiches that you rustled up earlier? And another two slices of that splendid sponge cake.’
Taking his leave as quickly as possible, the young waiter hurried off in the direction of the teahouse’s kitchen, relieved to be away from Florence Denby. The woman frightened him senseless.
‘I simply don’t know where you put all of that food, Fisher. You’re a damned skinny little runt and yet you devour food as if you haven’t eaten all day.’
Fisher smiled, ‘It’s my constitution, dear Florrie, and you’re just jealous that you can’t do the same thing.’
He was right, of course. All Florence had to do was look at food and she gained an untold number of pounds. When it came down to things, she envied Fisher’s ability to eat and maintain a wiry little figure.
‘Anyway, Fisher, you’re just avoiding the topic of conversation.’
‘Avoiding? Yes, I suppose I am, Florrie,’ he wistfully replied. ‘Old girl, I don’t understand what’s gotten into you. We’ve been friends for positively ages, all of our lives, in fact, and now you want to throw all of that away? It’s not right, not right at all.’
‘Simply put, Fisher, we just don’t work anymore,’ she said.
‘Work? Work? What, by George, are you on about? A friendship isn’t a job, Denby, it’s a friendship.’
‘Come on, old boy, you have to work at a friendship to keep things on track. They don’t flow smoothly all the time,’ Florence lowered her voice so that the approaching waiter couldn’t hear their discussion. She waited for him to place Fisher’s order on the table and leave before she would allow her friend to speak.
‘I’m starting to think that you’re not right in the head, Denby. You say the damndest things. Of course, one must work at a friendship, but the way you deal with them is as if they’re chores that you must attend to. Friendship is not like that. It shouldn’t be like that.’
‘But ours,’ she started, ‘has become like that, Fisher. You continue to try to manipulate me, I continue to disparage you, and we’ve never moved beyond that. You’re not a friend, Fisher, you’re a pain in my arse.’
Wallace Fisher was surprised to learn his friend’s point of view. He’d never seen their relationship as she’d described it. Okay, all well and good he’d always pushed her more than he’d dared do to any of his other acquaintances, but this was Florrie Denby, the woman he’d known since birth.
‘So, where do you . . . what is it that you want to do now?’ He fingered through the sandwiches on the Royal Doulton plate in front of him. Suddenly, his desire to consume the gastronomic delight he’d ordered had all but disappeared.
‘Well, Fisher, simply put, I have no desire to remain in contact with you.’ She was cold and unrelenting in her speech, and her clinical solution left Fisher rattled with no witty or manipulative comeback.
‘As such,’ she continued, ‘I’ll bid you good day, we shall part ways, and I’d appreciate if you left it at that, old boy.’
Florence did not wait for Fisher’s reply; instead she excused herself from the table at left the teahouse without so much as a glance back at him. Fisher, stunned by her prompt exit, fought the tears that he knew were not as easily wiped away as those earlier that day.