Have you ever pretended you were not in the house when someone was knocking on your door? That’s what Audrey and I were doing at 7:45 this morning when arch joker Reg, fulfilling the promise he made me last week, arrived to accompany me to Sunday Services at St Michael’s Church in the village.
Well, I was pretending. Audrey was barking and bouncing around like some kind of female-madman-dog. When at last I was happy she wasn’t about to to have a fit or begin frothing at the mouth, I pathetically set about trying to position myself between doorways in the hall so that I could monitor Reg’s silhouette through the lounge window while still hopefully remaining completely hidden from him.
‘I know you’re in there, Davy-boy!’ he shouted through the letterbox.
I gave up and opened the door. ‘Sorry, Reg. I was in the studio with headphones on.’
‘Of course you were,’ he smirked. ‘I saw you hiding. I saw your big feet sticking out.’
I wasn’t embarrassed: I was mortified. ‘’Look, Reg,’ I began, ‘I’m just too busy today – and anyway, I can’t really go to church at the moment, I’m allergic to candle wax.’
‘Lies make the Baby Jesus cry.’
‘He feels your pain.’
My mouth opened but nothing came out. Reg had turned into a Jehovah’s Witness. I feared my body would spasm due to shock.
‘I’m joking,’ he said finally. ‘To tell you the truth, I’d planned a whole morning for us. I thought you could come back to mine and have some rum and biscuits with me. And if we meet some ladies of easy virtue after the service, we can invite them round, too. We can have our evil way with them.’
‘Reg, I –’
‘I’m joking again,’ he said.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
‘Anyway, how do you think I look – pretty snazzy, eh?’ He held up his arms and did a girly twirl on my doorstep. I allowed myself a glance up and down the street to make sure no one was watching. I’m sorry to report he cut quite a pathetic figure, standing there in the morning sun, waiting for me to tell him how good he looked.
He had obviously made an effort to look his best but had failed miserably. He was dressed in a grubby brown suit that was too small for him; his trousers stopped six inches above his ankles and the sleeves of his jacket were half-way up his heavily-tattooed arms. He was wearing a white shirt, the frayed grey collar of which was curling up at the edges as if trying to reach his neck and attach itself there like a nylon limpet. It was obvious his wife had been gone for many years. He had also shaved badly leaving patches of salt-and-pepper whiskers high on his cheeks and under his chin. ‘Snazzy, eh?’ he asked again.
‘Irresistible, Reginald.’ I thought it would be cruel to disabuse him of the idea.