FICTION IN THE POST-PANDEMIC WORLD – Episode 19
Boy, it’s almost Christmas….that time when we madly research ham-glaze recipes (and end up choosing the same one as last year — maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, port, mustard and anything else in the cupboard) and make speedy entries and exists from shopping malls, least we hear yet another rendition of Maria Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you.” And yes there are the gifts.
Over in London Mrs Mac is in a generous mood as well. She’s been considering spending some of her not-insubstantial wealth on a world cruise and treating her loved ones to the experience as well. Naturally, she’ll take Tiffy with her – the two gals are a team and where would Mrs Macphillamy be without the services of her maid/housekeeper/occasional confidante, Marjorie?
But what of Henry, you may ask? ….the man who seems to have stolen Mrs Mac’s heart and perhaps a few other trinkets as well. Can he be trusted….is he the real deal or just a cad in an expensively cut suit?
As you know I write my fictional pieces, following a stimulus provided by the Australian Writers’ Centre. And the challenge for this month’s story was this:
- Your story must open with a 12-word sentence
- Your story must include the sale of a second-hand item.
- Your story must include a least five (5) different words that end in the letter ICE (e.g. nICE).
So folks – happy reading, and now it’s time to get back to Googling glazes and fabulous summer salads!
Mrs MacPhillamy had to make a decision but needed to be sensitive.
For most of her life, she’d done exactly as she pleased; this consideration for others was an entirely new practice.
She’d been poring over cruise brochures for weeks, dreaming of a voyage on Queen Mary 2. She had promised to take granddaughter Tiffany and her maid Marjorie once Covid was over but now that Henry had moved out of potential paramour status and they were ‘dating,’ she wondered if he should be invited. The cruise was three months – nothing shorter would suffice. And she had to admit, she’d miss him.
But should she pay for them all; what luxuries would she sacrifice to afford it?
Yes, Henry was a retired ship captain – he’d retired twice in fact from Cunard. He had said they needed him desperately so he’d returned to the bridge, but she doubted it. He was quite frugal and double-checked the price of everything. But he was charming, despite being a little light-fingered.
But they had overcome that hurdle. Once Mrs Mac was certain he had been pilfering the silverware, she challenged him after the dinner party and he freely admitted he’d slipped the silver Cunard napkin ring into his pocket.
When pressed, he also confessed he’d nicked one of her 56-set of Villeroy & Boch cake forks and when she gave him a steely gaze, said he had made off with the silver Queen Mary 2 tag on the whiskey decanter in the drinks cabinet.
Mrs Mac was relieved. His behaviour was certainly odd, but was their malice? Her new-found faith in humanity included charity. She decided she might as well give him the stuff including the decanter. It’s not like it was the Holy Grail or a prized chalice. Anyway, she only drank gin these days.
Now that she’d made up her mind, she would give him a call and gently ask what, if any, cruise discounts a retired captain might qualify for.
She would take all of them with her. What fun it would be; leisurely sun-filled days and nights of dancing and who knows what else…
She got up from the sofa just as Tiffany bounced into the room, carrying her device – no doubt in search of the perfect selfie spot.
“Grandma!” she cried. “You wouldn’t believe who’s on Facebook Antiques Marketplace!”
Mrs Mac stopped in her tracks.
Marjorie also entered the room, carrying a pre-mixed gin & tonic.
“It’s Henry, grandma – your boyfriend! He’s trying to sell your Queen’s Golden Jubilee plate. The price has sky-rocketed since, you know, Her Majesty died.”
“Oh, poor man, he really must be hard up.”
Marjorie approached and handed Mrs MacPhillamy the drink.
“I’m sorry madam, I fear Henry doesn’t work alone.”
“Oh – meaning?” Mrs Mac asked, taking a sip.
”He has a Facebook accomplice. She’s selling the napkin ring. Her code name is…umm.”
“Well spit it out Marjorie dear!”
“Sally Below Decks. She’s a retired Cunard cocktail waitress.”
Well fiction fans, that’s a real turn-up for the books. One minute we’re prepared to give Henry the benefit of the doubt, and before you know it, he’s blotted his copybook. Any woman who’s read about ‘red flags’ – those early warning signs that let you know that a man is not he’s all he’s cut out to be – will clearly see this flag flying and flapping in the breeze.
But what will Mrs Mac do? How will she handle this petty pilfering that has now escalated into downright treachery?
You better stay tuned!
Will Mrs Mac take him on? Will she call the cops? One thing’s for sure, she’ll pour another drink.
If you’d like to enter Furious Fiction, check out this link: https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/
Many thanks to photographers Debby Hudson, Louis Hansel and Hennie Stander for their photos – from the Unsplash Free Images site. https://unsplash.com/
As a bonus this month, here’s the link to my sister Gemma Gladstone’s (along with business partner Justine Corey) website and podcast. Clinical psychologists Gemma and Justine have an awful lot to say about Red Flags. It’s fascinating, so why don’t you have a look at their site and download their podcasts? https://www.goodmood.com.au/podcast/