Trouble in Store by R.T Hardwick

'Too late, he saw me.' 

There was panic in Rosie's voice. She tried to hide behind a menu as big as a blackboard. 'Who saw you?' 

'Jonny, my husband. He's here, in the restaurant.' 

I felt one of my hot flushes coming on. I knew this restaurant was a mistake. It was on the main street, for heaven's sake. Any Tom, Dick or Harriet could look through the window and see us, sitting there, smiling, whispering sweet nothings, knees coyly touching. 'Are you sure?' 

'Of course, I'm sure. I've been married to him for fifteen years.' 

'We'll just have to bluff it out, then.’ 

'Jonny, how can we bluff it out?. Look at us, in a romantic restaurant, having a little dinner a deux when I'm supposed to be baby-sitting.' 

'I suppose I could be your insurance man. They say I look a bit like an insurance man - rictus grin, soothing words and all that.' 

'What would I be doing in an intimate restaurant with my insurance man?' Rosie asked. 'Pet insurance?' I hear that's all the rage.' 

'I haven't any pets.' 

'A work colleague, perhaps, from the council offices?' 

'Jonny, he's seen you before. He knows you. You work in the library. He goes there every week to change his books. I've never known a bloke like him for reading. How can I pass you off as a colleague when you've been stamping his books on existentialism for goodness knows how long?' 

'I know. I'll make a bee-line for the toilet and escape that way. He might not have seen us together yet.' 

‘Just a minute,’ said Rosie. ‘Who’s that floozy coming out of the cloakroom? Jonny, he’s taken himself a lover, the cheating swine.’ 

‘At least we can get on with our meal in peace,’ I replied. 


Published in Issue #17

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