Good morning (if you’re in the UK)!
Serial Saturday again and time for another instalment of ‘I’m Watching You. Last time, after leaving work, MIKE had dropped into a local shop for some beer that he thought could be the answer to his problems, only to encounter the EYE staring back at him from a painting. Increasingly confused, Mike is well on the way to getting himself very drunk, but has decided to head back home to his wife. On the way, there is time for one more encounter…
Now, on with the show…
Mike popped the cap off a fourth and slipped the remaining two into the pockets of his overalls. By now he realised he was already on his way to a hangover and probably headed for a night on the sofa as soon as Gloria smelled him. This, he realised, was not as unpleasant a thought as it might have seemed yesterday. Gloria was becoming a pain in his backside. She offered little in the way of support for him in his efforts to get his new business up and running; there were no words of encouragement, no ‘It’ll be alright’ after a tough day. She offered little in the way of running his house; she didn’t make him a lunch to take to work and if she had a hot meal on the table when he came in, it was because she had leftovers from what she had made herself. As for the bedroom, Mike
thought that if he got home tonight to find Gloria wearing something alluring, before she took him by the hand and led his upstairs, removed all his clothes, even if she did all that, Mike wasn’t sure he could remember what to do. The sofa would do just fine. If she was in bed when he got back, he wouldn’t even wake her. She was probably having an affair, he reasoned. All the evidence pointed to it. She had plenty of time to carry on while he was working these long hours; she was always too tired for cooking when he came in; her sex drive had dwindled to almost nothing; she was getting it somewhere else. Must be.
He drained the bottle he was carrying and dropped it to the pavement, where it smashed. A young couple was approaching him and stopped.
“Nice mate, real nice,” said the man. Mike put him in his early twenties. A student, no doubt. He looked like he could use a good meal, Mike thought. “What happened to recycling?”
“You can recycle it if you want. I’m done with it.” He pulled another beer from his pocket. “I’ve got more. If I’m still drinking this when I get home, I’ll recycle it, I promise.” He licked his index finger and drew a cross over his chest. “Promise.”
“Someone needs to clear that up,” student said, pointing at the broken glass strewn across the pavement.
“Why don’t you and little Miss whatever, just fuck off back to Studentville? I hear they have books.”
Student looked shocked by this turn of events. Mike noticed he had let go of his girl’s hand and his own hands were beginning to form fists. Mike looked across to the girl. Her blonde hair flowed over her shoulders in tight ringlets. Her bright red lipstick was visible even in the poor light. She wore a button up blouse that was unfastened down far enough for him to see her bra. His eyes lingered on the swellings under the blouse, before he looked up. Her mouth was open slightly, revealing a perfect set of white teeth. Her tongue played over the teeth and she raised her eyebrows at him, letting a finger drop to the topmost fastened button on the blouse. She started to unfasten the remaining buttons.
“What are you looking at, dick. You’re old enough to be her dad!”
Mike looked back to student, then back to the girl. She was standing close to her man, clutching his arm. There was no blouse now, instead, he saw the blue sweatshirt she wore, with some logo or crest that he didn’t recognise. There was no lipstick, and her hair was brown, cut off at shoulder length.
“How did you do that?” said Mike.
“How did I do what?” the girl said, moving closer to her student boyfriend.
“The blouse. Where did it go?”
“I’m not wearing a blouse,” the now clearly frightened girl said.
Mike looked at her face. Her eyes were yellow, Mike was certain. He leaned closer to see, which was when the student stepped towards Mike and pushed him. Mike had him outweighed by perhaps two or three stone, so the push didn’t move him far. Mike regained his balance and pivoted back towards the young man, striking his chin a perfect blow with his balled fist. Student went down, unconscious before his head hit the pavement. The girl screamed and knelt down alongside him. Mike watched for a moment or two as the girl started crying and began patting Student’s face , pleading with him to wake up. Just as Mike was about to walk away, he turned to the girl and for a moment, just a moment, he thought he saw a yellow eye swivel and face him. He strode off leaving the crying girl and unconscious boy behind.
He walked with purpose now, looking back over his shoulder until the pair were out of sight. He turned a corner and came to a stop. He leaned against a wall and waited for his heart rate to slow, which it did, but not until several minutes had passed, and he had drained his sixth and final beer. He was tempted to smash another bottle – it had made a great sound – but chose instead to lean over the wall and deposit the final two empties in the garden beyond. He pushed himself away from the wall and began to walk up the street.
As he approached his house, he could see that the lights were on and that meant that Gloria was still up. He dropped his keys as he tried to pull them from his pocket. As he tried to retrieve them, the front door opened. Gloria stood in the doorway looking down at him, scrambling around on the floor, trying to collect his keys.
“What are you doing?” She had assumed her hands on hips stance.
“Looking for the keys. I dropped them,” he said without looking up.
“Have you been drinking?” Her voice set Mike’s teeth on edge and he winced.
“Just one or two.”
“You stink of alcohol. I can smell it from here. Get in the bloody house before someone sees you.”
“My keys.” He didn’t want an argument.
“Here.” Gloria bent and picked up the keys. “Get in.” She turned and went back into the house. Mike staggered to his feet and followed her in, closing the door behind him.
Gloria was waiting for him when he walked into the living room.
“I hope someone else drove your car, idiot.”
“Didn’t bring it,” he said, falling into an armchair. “What’s to eat?” He didn’t really expect anything, and he wasn’t disappointed.
“I’ve eaten. Where’s the car?”
Mike seemed to consider the question for a minute, running his hands through his hair as he did.
“I think I’m having a stroke or something.”
Gloria made no effort to move.
“I said, I think I’m having a stroke.”
“I heard you. What do you want me to do about it?”
“Call an ambulance?”
Gloria got up and walked over to the phone. She plucked it out of its caddy and tossed it to Mike.
“It’s 999 you’ll need.” She sat back down.
He looked across the room at his wife and clenched and released his jaw. The thought of her wearing something alluring seemed like a lifetime ago. She wore black leggings that made her look fatter than she was; her T-shirt was big, perhaps two or three sizes too big. It had a faded picture of the Beatles on the front. A large streak of what Mike could only assume was ketchup, scared the face of Ringo. To top the outfit off, she wore fluffy pink slippers, which dangled from her toes as she sat cross-legged. At some point in the past, Mike had been attracted to her. Physically attracted to her. He stared at Gloria’s face and tried to think what it was that he had seen. Even the six bottles of beer weren’t helping.
“Can I at least get a cup of coffee?”
“You know where the kettle lives.”
We’ll leave Mike and his confusion there for the moment. More next week…