Thursday, March 09, 2006


Dinner with the Fenbys

Once she had added the peppers, butternut and aubergine to the roasting pan and turned down the heat a little, Lucinda stood at the sink to rinse the chopping board and, this done, treated herself to a small glass of burgundy. She gazed through the window at the lengthening evening shadows and noticed that Victoria hadn’t put her bike away as she had asked. Too distracted to bother about this now, she gnawed on a knuckle. Genevieve, their 18-year-old, was bringing home Clive, her latest crush (Lucinda still saw the heady swirl of infatuation in each of her daughter’s affairs, despite the girl’s protests that she was deeply in love), for the first time, and both Lucinda and Colin wanted everything to be just right. By all accounts Clive was a hunky specimen, scrum-half for the university rugby team, and his photograph in the email Gen had sent had radiated easy charm and confidence.
Little Vicky, their seven-year-old, skipped squealing in, chanting “Supper soon, supper soon.” Lucinda turned to her and groaned at the mess.
“For goodness’ sake hold your tongue, child.” But her enthusiasm was endearing.
The gravel crunch in the forecourt announced the arrival of Colin and Vicky raced to greet him. He wandered into the kitchen, heaved the carrier box of wine on to the counter and put his arms round Lucinda.
“Good day, love?”
He grimaced. “Bloody accounts department. I’ve had a bellyful.”
She smiled and kissed him. “Hope you’ve still got an appetite. Dinner in an hour.”
“Great.” He busied himself with the salad things. “Rupert about?”
“Upstairs.” They both knew he was up there with a joint, but they also knew that a little tolerance would stand him in good stead. He was only 15, after all, and needed to find his own way in life.
They chatted about her day: the door-to-door salesman pushing household cleaning products whom she’d shown through to the chaotic kitchen for a demonstration and eventually left there to stew in his own juice, the visit from the Jehovah’s Witness who, Lucinda concluded afterwards, was half-baked in his ideas. Afterwards Colin went upstairs to change and shower while she set the table for five. It was a special occasion: quite apart from the new boyfriend, it was the first time Genevieve would be home since the beginning of term. Damned if the girl wasn’t turning out all right, she reflected warmly. There had been a time two years ago when she had been running with the wrong sort of crowd, some boys and girls from the estate (a council estate, for God’s sake!) a few blocks away, and one of her friends had ended up in a pickle; but Gen herself had matured since leaving home and was if anything better adjusted than Lucinda herself had been at that age.
Rupert was still a worry, for the opposite reasons. He didn’t run around with any crowd at all, rarely went out at all in fact. He had even flirted with vegetarianism at one point, though thankfully he’d outgrown that. He’d had one good friend, a nice boy called Roger, but he didn’t come round any more. Roger had been full of life, an active ebullient sort, and had his fingers in many pies.
Colin appeared again, refreshed and groomed and wearing his best shirt. He uncorked a bottle of Rioja to let it breathe, and together they tended the vegetables and sipped the rest of the burgundy. At six-thirty precisely (Gen was always a stickler for punctuality) they heard their daughter’s voice as her open-topped Mercedes cruised down the driveway.
“Rupert,” yelled Colin, “your sister’s here. Drag your carcass downstairs.”
Muttering and cursing, the lanky boy complied, the head banging on each step. Colin sighed and went to help him with it. It was time to throw it out; he’d had it up there for a week. Lucinda glanced around in a final automatic check, tipped the knuckle bones into the bin, picked up the tongue Vicky had dropped on the hallway carpet, and, Colin at her shoulder, the child squeezing between their feet, opened the front door.
Genevieve, blonde and radiant, leant forward and kissed all three of them. “Mummy, Daddy, this is Clive.” He was big, oh yes, and hearty, and shook hands all round; and as they ushered him into their home and Lucinda closed the door behind him, even Rupert, who had been standing sullenly at the dining room entrance, began to slaver.

You are a sick, sick man.

You truly need help.

So... Whn's the next installment?
This is shaping up to be a lovely Arlington like clowan tale.
HA! Now that's funny!
Very good! Took me completely unaware.
Clive's a scrum-half, eh? Please make him a South African who talks funny. Up the Springboks!!
"...had his fingers in many pies." Yes very good. But a Rioja?
Wait, yes maybe with the sweetbreads.
Thanks for your comments, everyone. I never meant it to be the first part of a serial, but rather a self-contained story; after thinking about it I do have a way to continue it, however.
Arf!! Very funny Footie. When I have a son I'm going to call him Rupurt. My sister says that it is the gayest name she has ever heard but my sister is a fool and engaged to a man called Kevin who looks like he could have piles.
If you think Rupert's a gay name, FMC, you ought to hear mine.

Anyway, you should all stop wasting your time here and head over to Hotrocks, 'cos Brewski's back.
I don't, my idiot sister does. I like the name.
Is it Tristram, footie?
I had to read that last paragraph twice.

Thanks, Footie. Very good indeed.
FMC: yes, of course, I hadn't read your comment properly. Sorry.

SB: nice try, but it's neither as butch nor as posh as that. I just remembered a bloke at my high school called Lance Gay. Came in for no end of stick, he did.

Andraste: there are contrived clues throughout the story, several of which don't work, I think.
Ah, Foot, they were all clear in the cadaverous end!
Footsie, an excellent effort! Nicely done... I liked it even more when I read it again this evening... (this morning was a rough one, so it was kind of a buzzkill)
Brilliant! I nearly choked on my Rioja and the ribs I was chewing on, when I got to the last paragraph!

Didn't see it coming at all. When I read it back to my husband though I noticed you had peppered it with clues. Great story! Looking forward to the next installment.
Excellent story. You blend casual and mundane with psychosis extremely well. I am not sure I would want to read another installment, though.
Lindy, Sam (welcome) and JG: thanks. Originally the family was going to be a clan of inbred hillbillies but I thought a nice upper-middle-class family of cannibals was funnier. I'm in two minds about another instalment.
Another instalment - yes please, Footie. I had to read it twice to realise how macabrely good it is.
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