“I’ll have a Crownie,” John said when the bar tender finally moved to serve him. He’d been waiting for more than ten minutes, watching the young guy in the black and whites, flipping his ridiculous hair while he flirted with women old enough to be his mother.
Mr Ridiculous-Hair spun to open the fridge behind in a flurry of activity reminiscent of a scene from Cocktail and a voice chimed in, “Make that two.”
John glanced sideways, taking in the trendy black suit, red shirt opened a couple of buttons, hair full of product and the nonchalant lean. They both wore the pre-requisite name badges but it was impossible to tell if this guy was a graduating class member or like him, a bored husband.
“Toby Strunk,” the guy said, extending a hand.
“John Lewis.” Long cool fingers closed around his slightly sweaty stubby ones.
“Ah, Lily Grenville’s husband. Hi, great to meet you!”
“Lillian Lewis,” John corrected and pulled his hand away.
“Yeah well, she was Lily Grenville 20 years ago and that’s what we’re all about tonight.” Mr Too-Cool-For-School stuck the hand he’d just shook into the pocket of his trousers.
The Crownies landed on the bar and John reached into his suit jacket for his bill fold.
“No let me,” Toby said, handing over a fifty dollar bill. “So you married Lily.” He shook his head slightly, as though it were the most amazing fact.
“Lillian.” John took a long swing from the tall elegant bottle to avoid any chance Lillian’s classmate might want to clink bottles in some chummy sense of reunion camaraderie which seemed to have infected the entire room.
John searched the crowd of half-drunk middle aged people, cringing at the way they yelled into each others ears over the music and clamped over-friendly arms around shoulders. All that unnecessary body contact.
Lillan was gone. She’d promised to wait there by the table while he went to the bar, but just like her, she’d snuck off.
“I thought they’d be playing all that crap music from the late 80’s, you know Bon Jovi and Belinda Carlisle, all that stuff Lillian still likes. But it seems like they went all out to just find crap music.”
“You’re not a fan of Primal Scream?”
John shook his head. “I bet they paid someone a ridiculous amount of money to choose this moronic stuff .”
“Yeah, me. That’s one of my guys up there spinning the records.”
* * *
John wandered aimlessly looking for Lillian. Eventually he gave up and took up a spot by the dancefloor to watch the embarrassing displays of spasticity others called ‘dancing’.’ That’s when he saw her, with him. Lillian in the embrace of Mr Too-Cool0For-School.
The Crownie slammed down on the nearest table, startling the woman sitting there, saggy boobed, staring out through glazed eyes to the dance floor. For a second John wondered if Mrs-Pathetic was Toby’s wife, watching the two of them cavort on the dance floor, her heart torn apart by the display, dancing close, whispering in each other’s ear and laughing.
The skin tightened across his face and his heart hammered in his ears watching Lillian make her way through the other couples at the end of the song, her eyes sparkling, reluctant to relinquish Mr Too-Cool-For-School’s hand at the edge of the dance floor to make her way to where he stood storming. No wonder she’d made an effort not to be found. She didn’t want to be. Not by him.
He met her halfway, fingers digging into the flesh of her upper arm the moment she came close enough and dragged her away from the dancing and the horrid music, off into the corridor of the toilets where he’d told her to wait.
“I told you to wait for me here,” he pointed to where she’d been standing. He didn’t know that while he’d been taking a slash, Toby had walked out, found her there, spinning off her favourite line from Dirty Dancing and whisking her out to dance. “I come out and find you’re gone… off dancing with that lecher.”
“Lecher… oh come on John, this isn’t Hawthorne’s New England.”
“You may as well be wearing the scarlet letter.”
“We were just dancing.”
“I saw you.”
He was close enough for to see his spittle darken spots on her foundation, but she didn’t move away.
“You saw what? Tell me John, just what did you see?”
“The way your face lit up when he spoke to you. How close you let him dance with you. How you didn’t move his hand when it slipped from your back and onto your arse.”
He had lowered his voice and the final word came out as a hiss.
“And what if Toby did?” She squared her shoulders and pulled the thin strap which had fallen off as he’d dragged her through those hanging around near the dance floor. The little back dress he’d never seen before. Mutton dressed up as lamb. “What are you going to do about it?” she asked.
“I’m not leaving.”
“You will do as I tell you.”
“No more, John,” the words tore from her, tears pooling in her eyes.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to say. NO more of this. No more of you. It’s over. It’s finished. You and me.”
“But I don’t understand.”
“Of course you don’t.”
Image Mirror Ball Amsterdam by Yozza, via Flickr