When Sean met Trudy,Carole’s rather voluptuously healthy cousin and friend the day of the charity do,he would have never made the connection in a thousand years. She was the total opposite of her cousin,in character and appearance. Despite the fact that he had only given her a passing look and only said hello out of politeness,she surprised him the next time they met by calling him by name off a crowded street.
He had just had lunch with JP, John Peter, as they called him and he was walking back to office. JP, former classmate and friend of ten years had mentioned her a few times before. But it was just that -a mention- to him. Besides all he needed as warning to stay clear of anything,including people wad to have JP endorse them. He picked the worst possible shoes,had the most absurd of flowery shirts and God knows where he dug up his drinking buddies.But the they had stayed close despite their differences.
Besides his sorry taste,he had the most lethal humor any one ever encountered.He could charm a snake out of its skin in minutes and he could lie you out of your pants while looking you straight in the eye and gently setting you up with statements like;’You know I can never lie to you”.
Now getting into step he noticed he had misjudged her. She was chatty and very friendly for a second if only passing meeting. And she was nicely large. Which explained JP’s interest.
She asked him about his girlfriend,tongue in cheek and he had almost replied-‘still single’ if he hadn’t quickly figured she meant Carole.
“You guys going strong?” Fora four weeks’ relationship, that question was premature,so he only mumbled and replied; “Taking it a day at a time”.
“Sure I can tell. With week- end sleep ins, you are”. The sarcasm didn’t escape him.
“Whatever you are feeding her on, I want my girlfriend back. You are all she ever talks of.”
He could have prodded for more information,seeing as she was only too willing to share;if Carole hadn’t called that very moment. As if sensing who the caller might be,she gayly scampered off,mouthing a bye as she crossed the road.
“Hey lover boy.”
“Hey you. Can’t I stay out of your mind even for a second?”
“Don’t flatter yourself.I just dialed in error.”
“Saving you airtime and switching off now…”
“Hey,are you that dumb you cant get a joke?”
“So I was right you missed me?”
“May be. By the way, I called to invite you to a family thing this Sunday…”
“You still don’t think you are good enough for this princess!” Guttural laughter on the line. “After all my efforts to upgrade you! You need Jesus.” Sensing a battle he couldn’t win,he asked instead.
“Can I come with JP?”
“That drunk friend of yours? Seriously I need to do a background check on your person. How do you have such friends!”
“He is intelligent. And I know how a sucker for intellect you are. Yes or No? And I hope there will be alcoholic beverages in attendance.” JP would only too happy to oblige,when news of alcohol ;and by extension family do gets to him.
He called JP to discuss the invite and relay his good news.
“You are going down,” was his answer.
“Even the hardest of them finally goes down. You may just have found your match.When you survive three ex girlfriends in three years,some one stronger is wont to come by.”
“Thanks for a lesson of my history. You can stop now.But I would have smelt it coming.”
“You are losing your nose old boy. Look at the bright side,you will be drunk so losing your freedom wont hurt as much. Don’t worry, I will give you away.”
No help there. He decided they had to attend.
JP called him right back.
“I have just got an idea why so soon… May be they eat people-like those neanderthals in amazonian forests movies…or may be she is planning a sex party…like in the movie Eyes wide Shut.”
“Stupid. With her parents in attendance?”
“No, that is just a decoy. With Trudy.”
“You would love that, wouldn’t you!”
“Don’t blame a guy for trying to help.”
“Baaba, is he your new boyfriend?” Tom, Carole’s seven year old brother asked her, happily swinging off Sean’s arm.
She blushed, a little embarrassed. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the bouncing castle?” She attempted a mean look. He run off,giving Sean a HI5 as he giggled away. He liked him. Engaging him in childish chit chat since he arrived. Carole took Tom’s place on his arm protectively nestling into a hug of sorts. He was yet to get used to the fact her parents were just a few meters away, chatting with other elderly attendees.He only realized it wasn’t really a family do per se, more like a neighborhood excuse to have fun and catch up on drink. He had been relieved her parents were not expecting him. He had also noticed the lanky young man who seemed familiar with everyone at the party . Now he paid more attention when Trudy led Carole away and he joined them in the house. “Family business?” He asked her when she returned, face flushed and obviously angry. For a moment she thought to lie then decided against it. “Ex boyfriend.” She blurted. He disengaged himself from her arm and a shadow seemed to cross his face. “And you have the nerve to hold court in my presence!”
“I didn’t invite nor expect him. But he stays in the neighborhood.”
“You obviously aren’t over. He calls and you run…”
“He is just a friend.”
“Wow! The classic!”
“And don’t do that?”
“Do what ?”
“With an ex of mine,perhaps? In the house?”
“I wanted to avoid a scene. But he insisted we needed to talk. I told him, we are done…”
“Oh, now we are done?”
“Not us;”she beseeched ;lower lip trembling. “Me and him.” JP joined them at that point. Two beers under his large clasp. “Please tell him not to be mad.” She addressed JP. ” “I came with a mad man?” He joked. “Are you going to help me or you are enjoying my misery?”
“I can successfully multitask. Let me take a sip first. Aaah. Now,Iam all ears.Trouble in paradise?”
“Lets go JP.”
“Noo,the beer is just getting chilled.”
He turned to leave. JP picked the cue. Grumbling, he put his beer down and with a shrug followed his friend.
“Drinkus interruptus.” He murmured as he got in step.
Carole’s dad almost bumped into the duo. They stopped to say farewell. He gestured for her to join him.
“Friends of yours?”
“And why are are you gentlemen leaving so soon?” Before they could form an intelligible answer,he continued. “I refuse my guests to leave before we eat. Please come back. We shall serve shortly.” He was the kind of man who treated all people his children’s age as children.They followed his orders.
She stifled a smile. JP led the way back. They both knew he wouldn’t stay mad in her presence.When the old man got out of ear shot,Sean turned to her.
“Remind me to dump you.”
“Yes sir, lover boy. She said with a grin.”