Monday 5 – Tuesday 6 October 2015
Spring was the season Beth loved best, and she always had. The heady mix of warm sunshine, aromatic flowers, and gentle breezes made for perfect days in Beth’s mind.
‘What’s on your mind, bonehead?’ Martin Gates’ voice drifted to her ears from somewhere behind her.
‘Who are you talking to, shitface?’ she replied. It was through many years of friendship as children, and now as work partners that she and Martin were proficient at insulting each other without either one taking it seriously.
‘You’re sitting out here in some sorta trance, so I wanted to know what you’re thinking about.’
‘Nothing much. Just enjoying the weather.’
Martin appeared with two cups of coffee, and handed one to Beth. He stepped over the retaining wall, and sat down next to her.
‘You know, I do find it a little odd that when I need to find you, more often than not, you’re hiding away here . . . in the cemetery. What’s with that?’
Beth took the paper coffee cup, pulled off the plastic lid, and blew gently on the liquid inside. She sipped the coffee and savoured its flavour, then turned her attention to Martin’s question.
‘I guess I like the atmosphere here. It’s peaceful, serene even. I like the solitude. And I come to visit my mother. I mean, why else would I be in a cemetery, bonehead?’ She pointed at the headstone directly in front of her. ‘Martin, meet my mother, Sally Corwin, nee Heston.’
* * * * *
‘We’ve done it, Lonnie. We’re married,’ Sally called out as she practised writing her new surname. Lonnie’s head appeared around the corner, a smile spread from ear to ear. He sauntered into the room, and placed a flute of champagne on the desk in front of her.
‘What are you doing, woman?’ he asked. Lonnie peered over her shoulder to examine what his bride was writing. ‘You’re practising your name?’
‘Of course I am. I have to get used to writing Mrs. Sally Corwin instead of plain ol’ Sally Heston.’
‘Honey, put the pen down and drink the champagne,’ Lonnie replied.
She replaced the pen in the holder, skolled the champagne, and then held the glass out to Lonnie.
‘Fill ‘er up, Mr. Corwin.’
‘It’s champagne, Sal. You’re meant to sip it, to enjoy it, not inhale it,’ he replied.
‘Just take the glass, and pour some more champagne in it, Lon. Please.’
Lonnie skolled his own champagne, and took the glasses. Mere seconds after leaving the room, he returned with two full glasses, and a bottle of Dom Perignon. Sally reached out for her glass.
‘I promise not to guzzle it this time.’ She smiled, and instantly disarmed Lonnie.
‘You better not. I wanna make a toast . . . raise your glass please . . . to my Sally. Everyone said we’d never get here, and yet here we are. And to the life we’re gonna have, and all the lil baby Sally and Lonnies that we’re gonna make . . .’
The knock on the hotel door that interrupted Lonnie’s toast was unexpected, especially after midnight, and especially on their wedding night. Lonnie slowly walked to the door. He peered through the peephole, and then turned his head to look at Sally.
‘It’s Bart Price. What the hell would he want?’
Sally’s facial expression changed from elated to high concern. ‘Don’t answer the door, Lonnie. Any time Bart Price turns up in our lives, bad stuff happens.’
‘OPEN THE DOOR, CORWIN, BEFORE I SMASH IT DOWN!’ He thumped repeated on the door.
Lonnie jumped back from the door. ‘I don’t know what’s ticked him off, and I don’t wanna know. I’m with you on the not answering the door. I’m also thinking it’d be a great idea to call hotel security right about now.’
Sally was one step ahead, already having made the call to hotel security. She spoke quickly and decisively, detailing Price’s aggressive demand to the receptionist. She hung up the phone, and whispered to Lonnie, ‘Security’s on the way.’
‘I’M NOT GONNA TELL YOU AGAIN, CORWIN. OPEN THE DOOR.’ Price continued to thump on the door. ‘SALLY’S NOT YOURS, CORWIN. NEVER WILL BE. GIVE HER UP.’
‘Who the hell does he think he is?’ Sally asked.
Before Lonnie realised what she was doing, Sally had pushed past him, and opened the door. She was staring down Bart Price. ‘What the hell do you want, Bart? This is my wedding night, and my husband and I planned to spend it entirely alone.’ She opened the door wider, and stepped aside so that Price could clearly see Lonnie behind her. Her name was all that Bart could say before he was overcome with embarrassment, turned on his heels, and ran back down the corridor towards the elevators. As the lift doors opened, Bart Price was met by hotel security.
. . . To be continued . . .