Monday, April 27, 2020

drinkdrankdrunk: "CHURCH-GOING IDA" by Keith Dersley

In my long history of bedsit bachelorhood there’s the occasion when I had the December sads and happened to mention it to Rick.  He thought it was terrible that I intended to celebrate the 25th and 26th with a kettle and a hotplate.

To me, a quiet break was no big deal, should even be enjoyable, but Rick said to his wife, ‘We’ve got to see if we can find a lady to get Keith over Christmas.’

He soon came up with the name of a grandmother, one of the young ones, called Ida. 

‘She’s a looker. I even contemplated her for myself when she came onto the ward,’ said Rick.

I knew he was kidding, as he was now happily married.  It was during his separation from his first wife that he had dallied with a domestic in the broom cupboard, holding the door shut with one foot while he sported his oak.

‘This young lady’s church-going but broad-minded,’ said Rick.

She was a nursing assistant type, working on the ward.

‘Unattached.  Just moved into a flat in Burlington Road and wants to build up her social circle.  Upgrade it, like, with the Right Stuff.  And here YOU are, not far from Burlington at all, and ready to meet someone eligible.  Coulda been meant, boy.’

Next evening I called at Ida’s flat.  It looked pretty good, and so did Ida.  She was dressed in jeans and a woollen sweater with an arty design showing zoo animals.  Grandmothers can look great these days, but even so you would not have thought her kids had kids.

‘What do you think of the place?’ she asked after she had led me to the sofa and put the kettle on for coffee.

‘It’s great.’

‘There’s still more to do, of course.  One of the girls from work, Karen, do you know her?  She helped.  My son came round and said, “Mum, you’ve got it looking wonderful.”  He hadn’t seen that new chest of drawers or the shelves.  I don’t know if he expected I’d just be living out of cardboard boxes or what.’

Over coffee she pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

‘Do you?  No?  Do you mind if I have one?  I’m getting off them slowly.’

‘That’s all right.’

I tried not to look disappointed or disapproving, but if she smoked, forget it. Though she was sexy, intelligent and a caring, decent woman, I didn’t want to get hooked on a smoker.

At one point she came close, and I could have grabbed her and made my play and I didn’t think she would have hated it, but I was undecided because of the clouds of tobacco, so the moment passed.

‘Ah, she frayed your nose, did she?’ said Rick when I explained.  ‘She told me she’d be giving up the fags.  I don’t blame you though.  I jacked in the old rollies, as you know.  I’ve got enough health complications already.  It’s amazing how many health care people still smoke, they oughta know better.’

‘Anyway, I’ll get through Christmas on my own resources. Won’t be the first time.’

‘Yes, well, maybe it’s best you rule Ida out.  But it’s not only Christmas, is it?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, who’s gonna get you through the rest of your LIFE?’

I've been reading Keith Dersley's (or as I like to call him, The Derz!) work for two decades now, from poetry to fiction to memoir.  There doesn't seem to be any literary genre or media he can't do.  His latest novel, By The Time I Get To Pellax, is science-fiction!  I am happy to feature him on drinkdrankdrunk!  You can check out more of his stuff on his website, Derzville
 

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