“And you are?”, the security guy behind the reception desk asked me.
“Tony Bolson”, I told him.
“And from which department?”
“The Production Department.”
“OK then”, and his fingers busied themselves around his keyboard until they reached their final flourish of the index finger’s final dive down to the return key. “Not listed here”, he said, “What do you do?”
“I’m a cameraman, but I work as a freelancer, which may explain why I don’t appear on your screen, but I’ve been working in Studio A since it was built in the eighties. If you issue me with a temporary pass, I can sort it out when I get into the DANCING WITH THE CELEBRITIES studio.”
“And you say that you’ve left your pass at home?”
“That’s correct”, which was a stretch, because I’d left it at Celeste’s flat, and had neglected to take it with me when she had told me to piss off due to some lack of preparedness on my behalf in lying to her about asking my wife for a divorce.
“Have you asked her yet Anthony?”
“I was going to last night” I said, “But she had to visit her elderly neighbour to sort out some problem with her pension.”
“Oh, would that be the one in the flats across the road?”, she said in a seemingly nice genuine way, “The one who had a fall and you took her to casualty and had to miss my birthday party? Is that the one Tone?”
I wasn’t very good in these moments requiring rapid fire excuse patching. I faulted, and fell.
“Alrighty then, I’ll issue you a temporary pass today Mr.Bolson, and assuming that you’re back here tomorrow for the dancing show you can show me the pass then.”
Highly unlikely I thought, because although I did have the presence of mind to ask if she wouldn’t mind just grabbing it for me as she was angrily shoving me out the door, it was when even angrier, and she rhymed pass with arse that I decided instead to concentrate on holding on to whatever dignity I had left before I reached the emotional safety zone of the Subaru.
But before I had time to take back control of my breathing, my mobile rang.
“Greetings husband, how much longer will you be? I’m assuming rehearsals went late. Was it that NEIGHBOURS actorine again? Hey we’re starving here – oh yeah, mum’s staying for tea. Where are you now?”
“Still in the car Debbie, not far away now traffic permitting.”
“OK, see you soon darl, love you. Roast beef by the way.”
He started the car, and on checking his rear view mirror before pulling out, he caught sight of himself; a loathsome creature, a two-timing prick, an ungrateful arsehole who promised Deborah the world when she gave him his second chance after she found out by an undeleted email about his carry-ons with Sarah, the pretty barista from their corner cafe eighteen months ago.
He turned off the engine. Thirty-nine, he thought, thirty-bloody-nine and he was still behaving like a dickhead. He’d almost lost Deb once, and here he was at it again. She wouldn’t forgive him a second time that’s for sure and where would he be without her after fifteen years.
The night she discovered his unfaithfulness was still the worst in his living memory. Debbie was inconsolable, the face that he truly loved now a darkened mess of mascara run, tear-soaked grief, with only one question, “Why Tony, why? I thought that we loved each other, and were there for each other, but apparently I was wrong about that, was I, was I wrong?”
But as he reached out to comfort her she jumped to her feet and in a most un-Debbie like rage told him NOT TO DARE TOUCH HER BUT TO FUCK OFF TO GET THE HELL OUT AND FUCKING NEVER COME BACK YOU LYING TWO-TIMING PIECE OF SCUMMY SHIT AND HOW COULD YOU TONY HOW MANY LIES HAVE YOU TOLD ME HOW MANY SHITTY HORRIBLE HEART BREAKING LIES
A tirade that continued even through the slammed bedroom door that was briefly thrown open for her wedding ring to be ripped off her finger and flung at him with a JUST GET THE HELL OUT!
The thing was, if he didn’t finish up with Celeste, he would end up like two of his colleagues, guys who had lost their wives and children through their empty, short-lived sexual quests, that amounted to little more than an unneeded ejaculation in a place they never needed to be.
The time had come to sort out his life before he turned forty, once and for all.
So, he would call in to Celeste’s flat on his way to the studio tomorrow, and end it there and then, and thank Christ it would not be too late to actually carry out his role of a loving husband as Debbie believed him to be. Perhaps they could have the baby she had always wanted.
This time, before he joined the traffic for his journey home, the mirror reflected a changed man, a man with a new beginning.
In the morning, Celeste answered her door wearing her dressing gown that barely covered his favourite satin negligee. She wore his pass around her neck as if it was her trump card, and said in that voice of hers, “If you want it naughty boy, then you’d better come in and fish it out”, and she pushed it under her negligee, and beckoned him inside.
Tony’s resolve lessoned with every foolhardy footstep down her hallway, to further squander what remained of Debbie’s forgiveness, seeking again the ‘thing’ that had always alluded him.