Dave stumbled in through his front door, dragging his petulant and slightly injured suitcase behind him. At some stage between him depositing it in Bonn and him collecting it in Melbourne it had managed to lose a wheel. Strangely, this seemed only to improve its handling. It was still petulant and refused most instructions, but was more like a absent minded four year old rather than a tantrum throwing child of three. It was possibly the one upside of his ordeal of a return trip. Given the chance to leave his training session early, Dave decided to scarper and get home a few days early to surprise Erika. Of course, reorganising the flights left him with a 27 hour trip from Germany to home, but 2 days early was 2 days early. It was worth it.
Dave dropped his keys in the bowl and slung his backpack onto the rack beside the door. He was concentrating on kicking his shoes off and about to shout out a decidedly cheesy Honey, I’m home! when he was surprised by a quite manly voice that he didn’t recognise.
“¡Oye! ¿Quien diablos eres tú?”
Dave looked up mid shoe removal to see a shirtless and quite well defined man standing just down the hall.
“I’m Dave, I live here … no wait, who the hell are you? Erika?! Are you okay?!”
Dave stood up awkwardly, nearly falling over the luggage that seemed to be clinging onto his leg as the well built and hefty intruder came towards him with his arms outstretched.
“Dave!” exclaimed the intruder. “I have heard some things about you. I am Alessandro, El marido de Erika! Erika’s husband! It is good to meet you!”
Dave gave up trying to not fall over his luggage as this Alessandro bloke continued towards him. It was all to much. He was only gone three weeks, but here was some bloke in his house claiming to be his wife’s husband. Lying on the floor, legs entangled in his luggage, all he could manage was a plaintive cry of “Erika!” before Alessandro was looming above him, hand outstretched. Dave was starting to get the distinct feeling that he was still 30,000 feet above Eastern Europe and having a bit of a nap.
“Dave. What are you doing on the floor? Let Alessandro help you up.”
Erika’s voice cut through the pretence of a dream. Nope, I’m not napping, this is happening. Dave looked cautiously at Alessandro’s hand, not entirely sure that Erika’s new husband wasn’t about to slap him with it. He looked up at Alessandro, saw him with a slight look of – what? – concern on his face and figured that at least being in a chair was better than being on the floor. He moved his hand towards Alessandro’s and Alessandro grabbed it and hauled him up.
Erika came over and hugged him. “What are you doing home? You’re not due back for at least two days.” She stepped back, held him by the shoulders. “Did the presentation go bad?”
“No, the presentation went well. I just thought, you know, I’d come back early and surprise you. Thought it would be nice.” Dave quickly glanced over at Alessandro and hissed, “Who is he? Where did he come from? What is he doing in our house? What is he doing with you? To you? Should I defend your honour or something?”
Erika smiled at Dave and shook her head, “Dave, it’s all okay. He’s from the library.”
Dave looked dagger across at Alessandro.
“Library? You picked him up at the library?”
Alessandro grinned at Dave. “Yes, I’m from the library. Look here. I have a barcode.” He twisted around and pulled the top of his pants down just enough for Dave to see a small white tag attached to him. Dave leaned in for a closer look and read “Whroo Regional Library” just above what appeared to be a legit barcode. Dave’s legs decided that lying on the floor was probably the safest place to be again. He looked across at Erika.
“Library? You borrowed him from the library?”
“Uh huh. He’s due back today, god knows what the fines are if you don’t return him on time.”
“I don’t see what’s so difficult about this, Dave. The have books, magazines, DVDs to help you learn things, now you can borrow people. He has quite the waiting list.”
“Is he a librarian?”
Alessandro laughed, “Dave, true husband of my wife. Do I look like a librarian?”
Dave once again looked up at Alessandro. He had to concede that no, Alessandro did not look like a librarian in the slightest. Not unless the library also had a gym. Maybe what some librarians wished the looked like, or had at home, but not an actual librarian. Once again, Alessandro’s hand was there, waiting to help him up. Dave took advantage of it.
“I just don’t understand. Why did she borrow you from the library?”
Alessandro looked across at Erika, who grinned back at him. He leaned in towards Dave and quietly replied, “Why Dave, look at me. Why do you think she borrowed me?”
Dave looked at Alessandro and then across at Erika, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He looked down and began to mumble something about being away on business a lot, and Erika being lonely, and understanding that maybe as a husband he perhaps wasn’t great, when Alessandro roared with laughter, slapped him on the back, and cried out “No! Dave, no. My husband would be furious with me.”
Dave felt the world just drifting away. Everything was shifting and the was nothing but Alessandro to grasp onto. It was like grabbing hold of tree trunk. Alessandro’s husband had quite the catch.
Erika went over and took hold of Dave, her real husband. “No Dave. It’s not that.”
“Spanish cooking and language lessons, Dave.”
Dave looked into Erika’s eyes to see endless amounts of mirth in them.
“¿Paella? Should be about ready.”