Tony was standing there with his hand outstretched. Liz could hardly snub him, could she? His grip was firm – Liz liked that. She hated those insipid handshakes of women who just rested their fingers, like a limp dead fish. The only thing she hated more was the air kisses of the ladies at the tennis club. ‘Daaaahling, you’re looking so well!‘ . . . mwaahh, mwaahh, blowing one towards each cheek, as if they were European socialites. Liz was tempted to kiss them three times, Arabic style, muttering ‘Father, Son and Holy Ghost‘ under her breath. That would rock them. And she knew damn well that ‘looking well,’ was their code for ‘have you put on weight?’ She was sick of the whole damned scene.
‘. . . and . . . you?’
Oh my God – she was still holding his hand. His eyes were dancing, teasing her. He was waiting for her to introduce herself.
‘Missus . . . uh . . . Liz . . . Liz Thurlow.’
‘Well, I am pleased meet you, Missus Liz Thurlow. Maybe we see some more of each other, ne? If Jan, she like my quote.’
He was still staring at her with those teasing eyes, his mouth curling in a smile. ‘Uh . . . okay. Yes . . . maybe . . . if Jan likes your quote,’ she was standing there awkwardly, flustered for no good reason, ‘well . . . okay . . . uh . . . well, things to do, you know. So! . . . well, perhaps we will meet again . . .’
As she walked away down the side of the house, she could feel his eyes following her. Damn me if she didn’t wiggle her hips a little.
She paused at the rear of his ute, memorising his mobile number which was painted on tailgate. ‘Just in case‘, she told herself. Back in her house, she added the number to the note with his vehicle details.
– – – – – – – – –
Bob was home on the dot of 6.30pm, the same as always. He greeted her with a peck on the cheek and poured them each a drink. ‘Did a builder come to Jan’s today?’
Liz took a gulp of her drink. ‘Yeeeessss.’
‘Oh good! She wants to get some work done while she is away. Hope his quote is good. Did he look professional?’
‘Yeeessss . . . How do you know about it?’
‘Jan emailed me at work.’
‘Why you? How come she didn’t email me? I’m the one who’s home.’
‘Beats me. S’pose she could be sure I saw the email. You wouldn’t always have the computer on.’
‘Well why didn’t she text me? it would’ve been helpful to know he was coming.’
‘You’re asking me how a woman’s mind works? How would I know? She just did, that’s all. I’ll let her know tomorrow.’ Bob had already turned away, was switching the TV on for the seven o’clock news. ‘Dinner on time?’
Bob liked to watch the news while they ate, and he didn’t like chit-chat, especially not during the sports report. Then he would switch to the living room television while she cleaned up and he drank a few beers. Tonight was just the same as always. It wasn’t long before Liz heard him snoring. He’d start with the snuffling and snorting, and work up to the chain saw rattling. Usually she sat with him in the living room with the television sound full up, but somehow she felt that tonight she couldn’t bear it. Everything was just the same as always, except that Liz felt different, unsettled somehow. She couldn’t put her finger on it.
She’d go to bed with a good book. The women at the tennis club joked that was better than sex. Liz didn’t have much to compare it with. Hadn’t been much sex in their house for months – she couldn’t rightly remember the last time.
Her handbag was on the kitchen bench. As she reached for it, her eye fell on the note with Tony Babic’s details. ‘So much for neighbourhood watch,’ she thought, ‘Jan could have saved me the bother.’ She screwed it into a ball and threw it towards the bin. She missed.
In the next room, Bob’s snoring was like an out of tune orchestra. She felt a rush of irritation. Every night the same routine.
My bloody crap boring life. My bloody, bloody, oh so crap life.
The note was lying on the floor. She stepped over to pick it up and throw it in the bin. But she didn’t. She picked it up all right. But then she lay it on the kitchen bench, smoothed it, folded it, and put it in her purse. She didn’t know why. She just did, that’s all.
This is thefourth part in a story building exercise for character, Liz Thurlow.