It was one of those days, lots of people have them, you know what I mean: you wake up feeling like shit, and then it's down hill all the way!
Now I have to confess that it was a totally self-inflicted wound that I was suffering from: I told my wife that I was stopping off at the pub after work for a swift half, but then I rolled in after closing time having passed my quota by several hundred per cent. I didn't have a leg to stand on—almost literally—and I was in no fit shape for an argument, so I just crawled up the stairs to bed.
I knew what sort of mood Rose was in the next morning, when the bedroom door opened at some ungodly hour of the night, or at least it seemed like that to me, and she started to vacuum clean the carpet. Burying my head under the pillow didn't help, because it, along with the duvet, were snatched away and disappeared out of the door, faster than my wife said her father shot out of their back door when the rent collector called, leaving her to stand on the front step and having to tell the rent man that her Pa was out and she didn't know when he'd be back. Yes, that was the type of life she used to have: her father was a lazy good-for-nothing piss artist, who drank away most of whatever money he could scrounge. No wonder she was on my case for coming home plastered.
In my defence, however, I'm not a big drinker; which is why having perhaps a few pints over my, admittedly low, limit had had such a big effect on me. I tried reasoning:
"Look, Love, you know it's not something I do very often: it was Jimmy Swain's daughter's first baby—you remember young Monica—and Jimmy's first grandchild, and I kind of got sucked into the celebration. I swear on that baby's head that I'll try never to let it happen again! Can't you cut me some slack just this one time."
"It's all right you standing there swearing, but I've never allowed myself to get in that disgusting state. Is that all you have you do, Kevin Donaldson: stand there and promise never to do something again and that makes it all right?"
"Well, yeah, I was hoping—" She looked at me kind of strangely I thought, then: "Okay, Kevin, if that's the rules!"
"—Well, I don't know about it being any rule—" I started to say, but Rosie had turned and walked out of the room. At least peace was restored to the Donaldson household, I thought.
I should say at this point that I have my own business: just a small garage where we do general mechanical work and carry out Ministry of Transport roadworthiness tests. There's me and Chris and Neville who all do a bit of everything, but I do all the paperwork and pay the bills. I started off on my own, but then as business picked up I took on Neville and then Chris. I'm 38 by the way, the same as Rose, Neville is 33, and young Chris is in his late twenties. We all work well together, although saying we were good friends would be stretching things, but if we happen to have Saturday evening when everyone's free, they'll come round to my place and we'll a few beers and talk about that stuff that never gets talked about at work. We had arranged for one of those evenings the day after my piss-up with Jimmy, so I asked Rose if she wanted me to cancel. All she said was: "No, but you better stay sober!"
"My word is my bond, Precious!" I came back with; but from the look she gave me, I knew I shouldn't have bothered. Then the next thing was, Chris rang me to say that he was at the hospital, where his girlfriend was in A&E, having had a nasty tumble. I said that I hoped it turned out to be nothing serious, and that I'd see him on Monday.
Neville showed up around eight with a six-pack of his favourite beer. I explained about Chris and his girlfriend, but said that he might as well stay, and I offered to stick the beer in our fridge, as there were already a couple in there. I even offered to make Rose a coffee, but she said that she was fine, and when I came back she was chatting to Neville about something.
"You not having one, Love?" she said when she saw I only had the one can. "Well, I thought—you know!" I replied. She looked at me and smiled: "I said don't get pissed, not don't drink!" So I made the return journey to the kitchen, but I only took a small bottle of my personal favourite Belgian beer.
The rest of the evening was actually going quite well, until about ten, when Rose suddenly said to Neville: "So, Nev, you've been staring at my tits and trying to look up my skirt all evening—do you want some?"
"Rose!" I exclaimed, and Neville nearly choked on his latest beer: "You're kidding, right?" he asked her.
"No, Love—we both want the same thing, so why not?"
"Oh, don't you worry about Kevin, Neville, Love—we both know the rules!" She looked at me with that same look she used earlier. I wasn't drunk, but my head was spinning and I tried to put together a coherent sentence, but nothing was working the way it was supposed to. "Well, Nev—" Rose asked him. Neville looked at me and I could see the lust in his eyes: my Rose was still a head turner, and I knew that Neville fancied her, but he would never have done anything about it. "I don't know, Rose—" My wife smiled.