“C’mon Brightie, we’ll be late,” Arthur pleaded with his wife as she slowly traced the outline of her lips with lipstick. “You don’t need all that muck on, you’re always the prettiest girl in the room.” If they didn’t get a move on, they’d still be here at Xmas Arthur thought worriedly.
“And you are the most charming man,” Brightie replied. “But it won’t hurry me along anymore now than it did fifty-four years ago. I suggest you just go and wait quietly if you want me done any quicker.” Brightie’s smile softened the rebuke. Arthur left muttering under his breath about the unaccountable amount of time it took her to look precisely as she did without makeup. Before he had time to sit down, Brightie bounced into the room. “Okay lovey, shall we go then?”
“All the best tables will be gone by now,” Arthur grumbled. Brightie laughed and shook her head at her husband, while Arthur held open the door to their small apartment. He stepped back to allow her room to pass, waving her through with a gallant gesture. “Mother was right you know. She said you’d be trouble.” Smiling to herself Brightie wiggled her bottom suggestively at Arthur.” As they headed off down the stairs Arthur reached out and took hold of Brightie’s hand.
“I rather thought that was the attraction, besides my horoscope said I should take care with my appearance today,” Brightie said as she squeezed his hand. “After all, it is Allhallows. Reaching the floor below, they made their way to a large hall. Inside the hall tables were filling up fast. Under a large bay window a man stood searching the crowd. Spotting Arthur and Brightie he began waving at them. “All that fuss you made. Silly man, you should have known old Bob would hang on to a place for us Arthur.”
Making their way to the table Brightie was dragged along at a decent pace. “Arthur, for goodness sake. If you keep pulling me like this I’ll break something. I’m not as fleet on my feet as I used to be.”
“That’s not the only thing failing you these days,” Arthur remarked.
“If you are talking about my problem, well it’s not my fault,” Brightie answered. “I can’t help it if I am unable to be continent anymore.”
“If you did those bloody exercises…” Arthur began.
Cutting him off Brightie’s voice lowered. “I blame it all on those fella’s,” she said.
“Give it a rest Brightie. Genetic engineering has nothing to do with it.” Arthur had heard this argument from his wife at least once every day for the past five years. He knew that if he wasn’t quick she would start blaming electromagnetic radiation as well for her troubles. He really had to stop letting her read all those articles. Luckily they were almost at the table, she’d shut up about it in front of Adele and Bob.
“I wondered if you were coming,” Bob rose from his seat and pulled out a chair for Brightie. Arthur walked Brightie away from the chair Bob offered and seated himself between her and Bob. He was wary of Bob, his being known as a dyed-in-the-wool womaniser.
Brightie and Arthur had first met Bob and Adele at the local Jai Alai tournament. Arthur had offered to help Bob in marking the wall for the players. The basis of the game seemed to Arthur to be similar to what he knew as squash. Arthur was however, not one to obtrude, and kept his thoughts to himself. Very unlike Bob, who professed himself to be extremely knowledgeable about the game, its rules and its origins.
Once settled at the table, Brightie began to look around. “Oh Arthur, look outside. The pier is covered in lights. Doesn’t it remind you of the vacation we took by the sea.”
“Yes it does,” Arthur agreed. “You were still a Wren at the time.”
“What was that?” Adele asked. “I never knew you were in the service Brightie. You are a dark horse at times.”
“Yes, I guess I forget sometimes,” Brightie remembered how she and Arthur had danced to the music. The band had played long into the night. She’d found herself completely taken over by the feel of Arthur’s arms around her. “Do you remember the drummer?” she asked Arthur.
“Right,” Arthur smiled at Brightie. “Tall fellow from Africa. Zulu wasn’t he? On some sort of quest to be a famous musician.”
“Yes, you were jealous, thought I had an eye for him.” Brightie was enjoying the discussion.
“Okay, that’s all very interesting but don’t you think it’s time we got on with the game?” Bob was ready to turn the discussion away from the past. Next thing you know they’d be hauling out their old yearbook and this discussion would go on forever. Perhaps he should have taken an extra dose of laudanum to get him through this evening.
“Sorry, old man,” Arthur surveyed the table. He reached out and began picking up the upside down pieces. “I’m starting, if I remember right.” The others in turn reached out and picked up their pieces.
“Brightie, I think you have one too many there,” Bob tried to peer over at the number of pieces Brightie had on her plank.
“I don’t think so,” she replied. “Besides who made you inspector? No. I’m perfectly fine thanks,” she added giving Bob one of her brightest smiles.
“I’ve never said I was anything like that,” Bob seemed a little offended, and quickly renounced any inclination to be anything other than a player. Adele looked slightly amused as she watched Brightie put her Bob in his place. She enjoyed these moments as they happened infrequently.
“I believe I’m going to make a good start,” Arthur began laying down his letters. “T,I,D,D,L,Y, not a bad start.”
“Very good Arthur, now If only I had one more letter I could make tiddlywinks. What a score…”
“Brightie darling, you are not supposed to give away what you have,” Arthur admonished.
“Now Arthur, don’t have an attack.” Under the table Brightie reached across and ran her hand up Arthur’s leg. Tickling his inner thigh, she watched as he squirmed. “The game has only just begun. Right, my turn. R,O,U,B,L,E. What do you know, I’ve got trouble.” Bob and Adele looked on bemused as Arthur laughed so hard his chair fell over.