This week Moville writer Sharon Thompson shares another tale exploring the life of local people.
Each Sunday this series will showcase works of literature written by local women for readers to enjoy.
Sharon first introduced us to the 68-year-old gentleman who is looking for love and life again, following the death of his wife Milly. In the first instalment of this excellent short story series, he went golfing with his close friend Malcolm.
Sharon gave us a deeper insight into Arthur’s family life last week when he paid a visit to his son and daughter-in-law’s home on Crescent Close.
This week, the details of Arthur’s recent spending spree at the pharmacy leaves him feeling red-faced when his friend Malcolm discovers what was on his shopping list.
All Arthur Needs: Part Three
Malcolm has plonked himself into the seat of Arthur’s car, his blue ‘Computer Class’ folder under his arm. Malcolm’s damp cap is all tilted with his enthusiasm. ‘Awful day today eh?’
The windscreen wipers are all that answer him. Arthur is staring ahead, pushing his driving glasses back to the bridge of his nose. A few, long, grey hairs at the end of his nose catch Malcolm’s beady eyes.
The swish of the wipers push the deluges of water from the windshield. It’s only the start of Autumn and yet the weather is fierce. It’s enough to depress Arthur as he sniffs the air because Malcolm’s clothes reek of damp chips.
‘Desperately hard to see tonight, eh?’ Malcolm squints. ‘Did you practice on the computer?’
‘I don’t think any of us practice? We want that lovely Sky, to show us everything.’ Malcolm grins. ‘What da ya think, she’ll be wearing tonight?’
‘You make out to be such a sleaze. June would kill you! Sky’s our teacher, stop that nonsense.’
But Arthur knows exactly what Malcolm means. He’s harbouring a deep lust for the younger woman and she does perk up his week considerably, especially when she leans over his shoulder to show him something on the computer.
‘What’s in the bag?’ Malcolm stretches to investigate the chemist shop bag on the floor. Arthur slaps his hand away but knocks the bag open. Out falls Lynx deodorant, a sparkly tweezers, cream for piles and a packet of condoms. (Large, rippled and strawberry flavoured.) Malcolm of course picks the condom packet up. He starts howl laughing at it. The rain continues to drench the wind shield as Malcolm’s cheeks get soaked with happy tears.
‘Oh Jasus. I canna stop.’ Malcolm is drying his face and gulping. ‘What on earth do you need these condoms for?’
‘I think I may have a heart attack I laughed that much.’ Malcolm rubs his chubby chest. ‘It’s good for us to laugh at life I suppose.’
‘Laughing at life is one thing but laughing at me is another. By the way you stink of chips.’
‘You stink of Lynx. And haemorrhoid cream…..And strawberries.’ He’s choking now at his own joke.
Both men are laughing as they pull up outside the community centre. Its yellow paint is almost grey in the torrents of rain gushing out of the gutters and old metal drainpipes. The drains are overflowing and the car park acts like a waterfall onto the footpath and out onto the road. The few spaces in the car park are already full and Arthur pulls up onto the footpath, down the street a little. The lights are on in the computer room but the men know the ICA ladies use it for their website design class. The smell of sickly perfumes takes a while to leave through the windows they open.
‘We’ll not be able to open the windows wide this evening.’ Malcolm moans. ‘We’ll wait until we see them leave? Then make a dash for it?’
‘Did you contact that woman we found online?’
‘I did not. I don’t need an escort!’
‘You might need escorted somewhere?’ Malcolm looks giddier. ‘And you might get to use those condoms?’
‘Arah stop that now. I need companionship. We’ve talked at length about this. It’s hard to explain to a man who’s still got a lovely wife at home.’
‘You’ve more on your mind than holding hands,’ Malcolm taps the packet on his knee.
‘A man dating, needs to be careful.’
‘Dating are we? Who are we dating?’
Malcolm’s grin is so huge his usually invisible teeth are starting to come into view. Car lights are passing and an odd glint of white can be seen amongst the hairs on his lip.
‘No-one yet and I haven’t the heart to admit, that all of ‘that’ – is a long way off in my life.’ Arthur’s bottom lip moves outwards like an annoyed child.
‘There’s many women looking for love. Sure the world is full of romance and books on the subject.’
‘None seems to want me.’ Arthur is genuinely feeling a deep loneliness. There’s a huge gaping hole in his heart and it’s something men don’t talk about and certainly not something he finds easy to explain to Malcolm.
‘Awh poor Arthur,’ Malcolm teases. ‘Sure there’s heaps of women who must want an Arthur in their life?’
‘Nope. Not that I can find anyhow.’
‘Did you not ask the lady in chemist to go out with you – like Johnny suggested?’
‘I did think about it. She’s a fine looking woman. But no, I didn’t have the confidence.’
‘You not confident?’
‘Well…. after buying that pair of sparkly tweezers I was a bit embarrassed.’
Sharon is the co-founder of #WritersWise a trending, writers’ tweet-chat (www.writerswise1.wordpress.com).