A Week in June: Part 14

Cesca, rushing to the cafe, shakes Jacob’s hand and leads them to her favourite table, where they take their seats.

 

Cesca:

Sorry I’m late, I had some business to

Attend to at the bank. Even on my

Days off, Daddy has me working! Also,

I can’t stay for too long, I’m expecting

A package to arrive in two hours.

 

Jacob:

Not a problem, I’ve just seen Eve and her

Mum, so I couldn’t have got here sooner.

 

Cesca:

Oh? How is she? I hear she’s going back

Today. They all had an opinion

Down at the bank, bunch of busybodies.

 

Jacob:

Church of England Bible-bashers, you mean?

She’s a little giddy and her broken

Arm’s in a sling, but she’ll survive, thank God.

 

Cesca:

That’s a relief. When Clara told me what

Happened, we feared the worst, and what Joseph

Might do if he ever caught up with you.

 

Jacob:

I’m staying with her parents this weekend.

 

Cesca:

Oh, wonderful, I bet her father will

Appreciate another pair of hands.

 

Jacob:

That good doctor wants to adopt me, too.

 

Cesca:

Congratulations! I’m made up for you,

I really am. I was wondering what

Might happen now … which reminds me… no wait,

Let’s get something to drink, then we can talk.

 

Waiter:

Are you two cool cats ready to order?

 

Jacob:

Is it still your all you can eat hour?

 

The waiter places the lunch menus on the table and takes out his pen and pad to jot down the orders.

 

Waiter:

Yes, sir, for another forty minutes,

Ten pounds. The drink is a selection from

This menu here. As for the food, you can

Help yourself or order from this menu.

 

Cesca:

If you don’t want anything too filling,

I recommend the duck liver salad.

Maybe a pint of Oxford Gold to start.

 

Jacob:

I always take a lady’s sound advice,

It helps keep me out of trouble that way.

 

Waiter:

So, that’s two duck salads, one Oxford Gold …

 

Cesca:

And a large Chianti.

 

Waiter:

Coming right up.

 

The waiter places the cutlery then walks away.

 

Cesca:

My father has nothing but good things to

Say about you. And the fact that you stood

Up to Joseph for these years ticks so

Many boxes. When I told him your real

Surname, he said that he knew your parents.

 

Jacob:

What a small world indeed! Were they good friends?

 

Cesca:

Fairly, they even went to the races!

 

Jacob:

My word, so that’s where we got it all from!

 

Cesca:

Precisely, it’s all in the mental genes.

Anyway, they gradually drifted

Apart when your parents moved, but … he was

Truly sad when they died. Same with Clara’s

Parents, too, that’s how she and I got to

Know each other. I didn’t know …

And neither did Clara unti, I mean

She always knew that she had one, but she

Wouldn’t have guessed it was … or don’t you know?

Father only told me after breakfast.

 

Jacob:

That we’re cousins?

 

Cesca:

Yes, how …?

 

Jacob:

It’s long winded.

 

Cesca:

OK, just so long as you know. Back to

The point, because of your parents … I guess

You’ll be considered more respectable

Now as Doctor Hawthorn’s adopted son.

 

Jacob:

That’s like finding a diamond in the rough.

 

Cesca:

He’s not to blame, really, just protective

Of my … or his, interests … but to be

Honest, my choice in men is poor. They’re just

Interested in my money.

 

Jacob:

And your body.

 

Cesca:

Aren’t you?

 

Cesca starts to rub her leg against Jacob’s thigh.

 

Jacob:

Sadly, I’ve found someone.

 

Cesca moves her leg back.

 

Cesca:

Oh? That’s sudden.

 

Jacob:

I only met her this morning, her name’s

Angelica Manford.

 

Cesca:

Ah, the painter? I’ve been to a couple

Of her exhibitions. She seems quite sweet.

I thought that you and I … oh, but I guess

You’ll be modelling for her quite a lot.

 

Jacob:

I have a few bookings lined up. In fact,

Her studio’s not far from here, also

There’ll be sculpture and life drawing classes.

 

Cesca:

Oooh, nude posing, now that I’d like to see.

 

Jacob:

I’m sure Angie can book you in for a

Private lesson.

 

Cesca:

I should think not, I’m too important to

Pay for the privilege.

 

Jacob:

So … what are you studying at Uni?

 

Cesca:

English Lit, I want to work in archives,

Or be a book historian, something

Along those lines. I have one more year to

Go at Oxford, then I’ll take a Masters.

 

The waiter arrives with the two drinks and places them on the table.

 

Waiter:

Here’s one Large Chanti.

 

Cesca:

Thank you.

 

Waiter:

And here’s a pint of Oxford Gold. Enjoy.

 

Jacob:

Cheers, mate.

 

Waiter:

And your salads will be ready shortly.

 

They both smile and nod at the departing waiter.

 

Jacob:

Now, to what shall we toast?

 

Cesca:

To our friendship!

 

Cesca takes a small sip, and Jacob downs a large gulp. After a few minutes, the waiter arrives and serves the salads.

 

Waiter:

Here are your duck salads. Enjoy your meal.

 

Cesca:

Thank you.

 

Jacob:

Thanks, cheers. Well, this looks so moreish.

 

They both take their first bites of the salad as Jacob looks over to the brook.

 

Cesca:

Mmmm, yes, my God, it tastes delicious, too.

 

Jacob:

Mmmmm, such a concoction of so many

Oriental flavours. Overlooking …

Oh look, there, two kissing mallards, hmm, I

Feel a bit wrong, tasting this tender meat!

 

Cesca:

If you didn’t eat it, someone else would,

That’s what I think. Now, how about your bets?

 

Jacob:

Oh, I almost forgot. I’ve only bet

On the first two races today. I had

A good day yesterday, I won five grand.

 

Cesca:

Oh my, you said that as if it were just

Par for the course, I would throw a party!

 

Jacob:

If I’m to take it all seriously,

Then I must look beyond my emotions.

 

Cesca:

Maybe that’s why many maths grads do well.

 

Jacob:

Right, I’ve bet on Silver Line in the first.

His maiden win was impressive last month.

 

Cesca checks for the result on her mobile phone.

 

Cesca:

Yes … but … hold on, let me try to update

The page, it’s slow as … Oh.

 

Jacob:

Oh, what?

 

Cesca:

It finished third.

 

Jacob:

Hmmm, oh, indeed.

 

Cesca:

Can’t win them all.

 

Jacob:

No, well that’s three figures down the swanny.

 

Cesca:

Now now, I know you won big yesterday,

But it doesn’t mean you can start betting

Like the big boys. I better look after

You tomorrow.

 

Jacob:

You’re right, I’ve much to learn.

 

Cesca:

Too much. What have you backed in the next race?

 

Jacob:

Abdon. Stoute and Frankie, normally a

Winning combination in these contests.

 

Cesca:

I wish you luck. Another you’ve lumped on?

 

Jacob:

Hmm, yes, I’m starting to regret that now.

 

Cesca:

A fine lesson, my boy, if it loses.

 

Jacob:

It may lose, but today I’ve gained a jewel.

 

Cesca:

Awww … I presume you mean Angelica?

 

Jacob:

Yeah, and you as well, my racing buddy.

 

Cesca:

I’m glad, or you’d have to pay for the meal.

 

Jacob:

I can cope with a loss, but that? Never!

 

Cesca:

Oh, you stingy old sod. Anyway, I

Bet you’re glad that Clara’s your cousin?

 

Jacob:

I’m so happy … I mean, real family

To love and confide in. Sure, it’s great

To find someone with whom to go racing,

But this means so much more to me than that.

How did Clara take it?

 

Cesca:

Oh, she doesn’t know yet …

 

Jacob:

Would you …?

 

Clara nods and smiles at Jacob as the waiter arrives to clear their plates.

 

Waiter:

How did you find your meal?

 

Jacob:

That was the best salad I’ve ever had.

 

Cesca:

And still the best café in town. Can we

Have the same drinks again?

 

Waiter:

That pleases me a lot. I’ll get your drinks

Promptly. Would you like a dessert, perhaps?

 

Cesca:

Oh no, I couldn’t, that was too filling.

 

Waiter:

And for your friend?

 

Jacob:

Erm, no, thanks, just a drink.

 

Waiter:

That’s fine. Happy Hour is almost up.

 

The waiter wipes the table, takes the plates and goes into the bar to pour the drinks, prints out the bill, and quickly returns, placing the drinks on the table and passing the bill to Cesca.

 

Waiter:

And here’s the bill, all included.

 

Cesca:

Thank you.

 

Cesca takes £20 from her inside pocket, and a £2 coin for a tip.

 

Waiter:

Thanks for the tip, enjoy your afternoon.

 

The waiter departs with the money in his pouch. The two drink larger even slips than before.

 

Cesca:

Tell me, who’ll win the Gold Cup tomorrow?

 

Jacob:

Tough race to call, I’d bet on O’Brien

And Moore if my life depended on it,

So Order of St George. If it wins then

I’ll treat you and Clara to afternoon

Tea at the Ritz.

 

Cesca:

With cakes?

 

Jacob:

A whole cake tin.

 

Cesca raises a glass to that suggestion. They both finish their drinks. Cesca looks at her mobile, notices the time, and the racing result, and downs the rest of her glass in one.

 

Cesca:

It’s been such a lovely hour, but I

Really must be going. I’ll pick you up

About ten tomorrow? It’s not far on

The bus and train, no more than two hours.

You don’t need to wear a top hat and tails.

 

Jacob:

Thank God for that, best to avoid the toffs,

The atmosphere would be far too stuffy.

 

Cesca:

Ha! I’m a toff so I should know, cheeky

Devil. I’m sure you’ll be smart, all the same.

You really don’t want to know the result.

 

Jacob:

That bad?

 

Cesca:

Eighth out of nine.

 

Jacob slams his fist on the table.

 

Jacob:

Tomorrow will be different, trust me.

 

Cesca:

And if it’s not?

 

Jacob:

Then at least I’ll have someone to talk to

On the ride back. I hate going on the

Train or bus on my own, it’s depressing.

 

Cesca:

I’ll bring a pack of cards, we’ll play blackjack

Then you can try and win your money back.

 

Jacob:

I’m so glad you’re my friend.

 

Cesca:

Me too … me too.

 

They rise from the table, hug each other, and walk their separate ways. After a short while, Cesca breaks into a sprint.

 

 

About an hour later, Clara, having just finished her shift for the day, rings up Cesca to see how it all went. Cesca answers, slightly breathless, with lots of background noise.

 

Clara:

Hi Cesca, it’s Clara … Hi, how did your

Lunch go? … Oh, that’s sounds nice … You had to leave

Early? But why? … A visitor? I see …

Oooh, sounds like you’re having fun there. Is that

Jacob with you? … Hang on, Jacob isn’t Italian.

What’s going on? … You dirty slut! … Oh, yes,

You are! … Oh, Jacob’s found someone, I see,

I didn’t know … He’s bringing her tonight?  

That will be fun, but that doesn’t …  Listen,

What about tomorrow? … What?! Oh my God!

Jacob will be very disappointed …

Oh, your father’s idea …  good for business?

Sure it’s not just good for pleasure? …

And what about us, then? … You don’t mean that,

Surely? … No, don’t bother, enjoy yourself,

I don’t give a … Oh, I hate you … you and

Your damned ignoble race! … I’m proud to be

Common, thank you! … I never want to see …

Wait, why? What’s that about Jacob? … We’re what? …  

And he knows already? … You don’t know how? …

No they weren’t, you know that! …  You lied to him! …

I’d rather he told me, than some dirty

Hussy! … Only for my body? You bitch! …

No, I don’t care about your lot either!

It’s far better to be an orphan than

A vamp! …  No, I’ll tell him myself, tonight …

Too late, Cesca. Good day to you, for good!

 

Clara slams her phone in her bag and breaks down in tears, shivering, at the bus stop.

 

© 2017 AGP

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