Near Mablethorpe

Wednesday June 6, 2012 § Leave a comment


The dress was probably spoiled. She winced as she pulled it up and straight, almost standing in the cramped space, feeling the crown of her head brush against the fabric of the roof. Rain fell darkly against the windscreen. Then she saw him emerge over the shallow rise above the dunes, and the start of the narrow track that ran right the way down to the beach. The dog followed behind, half-galloping, half-falling against the wind.
        -You know what I love most about blowjobs? he said, winding down the window with one hand, while in the other he held the half-rolled cigarette.
        She smiled, and he laughed a little, a silent, airless little laugh. He smelled of tobacco and dog. Turning to look out of the window she regretted the dog hair that matted the upholstery and stuck to her clothes.
        -What? he said.
        They ate with the radio on. The sea moved gravely before them in grey lines. Along the coast the empty smoke of the refinery puffed on the wind. She watched in the mirror as another car pulled up, and then as quickly pulled away. Darting from the car she threw their rubbish over the brow of the hill, watching it fall amongst the tall grass.
        That night they ate at the hotel. The rain now fell in watery sunlight and from their table near the bar she was overlooking the golf links, while Dick had his back to it. A thick brocade curtain lay against the window. She ordered another Bloody Mary.
        -Will we go to Mablethorpe tomorrow? she said, fingering the rim of her glass. She had in mind her holidays there as a child. A girl came by to close up the curtains, even though it was still light outside.
        Dick was still eating.
        -What will we do with the dog?
        -He can run around on the beach, she said. Like he has every day. There’s a beach.
        They agreed they would go, depending on the weather.
        -I should probably teck him some water, he said. The dog was in the car, sleeping on a blanket with Dick careful to ensure the window was open, just a touch. Here, he said, you want that, a piece of steak. It was mostly gristle.
        -No, she said. I’m going to the bathroom.
        When she came back Dick was at the bar, talking with two Australians they had met the night before. They were on the way to King’s Lynn, but were enjoying a diversion. She walked right past them on purpose, and when they beckoned her over, after she had been sitting a few minutes, she made her excuses and went back to the room.
        Dick stayed in the bar until last orders, when he ordered a brandy, no ice. He was alone by now, perspiring heavily under the hot, close lights of the bar. The manager had stood him the last drink, and they talked until all the other patrons had gone, Dick leaning across the narrow counter, the manager standing in the opened bar-flap supping on a half. When it was time to leave, the manager gave him a bowl for the dog’s water.
        Outside, Dick stepped heavily into the yard. Mary had been stirred awake by another guest and had lain awake for several minutes. She was hot, and had pushed open a window. Now she heard him moving about on the cobblestones, talking softly to the dog. It must still have been raining because when he came to bed his clothes were wet.

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