A Bit of a Bastard

He was a new boy in town. By town he meant a city, Melbourne was then a couple of million plus. By boy he had to remember he was in his late twenties. It was a warm overcast November Saturday and he’d no place to stay. He didn’t fancy repeating anything like last night sleeping in his beaten up old Jag in a field halfway between Colac and Geelong. He bought an Age and scrolled down the columns of Flats to Share. ‘Female 20s’ sounded promising. He didn’t know South Yarra from a bar of soap but it too sounded promising.

They met in a ranshackle triple-storey pub in Toorak Road at five o’clock. She was a tall, slim olive-skinned brunette wearing a navy blue blouse over tight jeans.

He was nothing remarkable.

He bought her a white wine and a pot of beer for himself. There was some tinny rock n’roll providing ambient sound.

She supposed he’d like to see the place so they walked around the corner to a four-storey 60s concrete block. The flat was two bedrooms part-furnished first floor. The part meant he needed to get a bed, the robes and dressing table were built in. She provided a three piece vinyl lounge suite and a coffee table.

Two issues of Cleo magazine lay on the coffee table.

She asked what he was doing for dinner and he noted that she said ‘dinner’ and not ‘tea’. He didn’t have any plans so she said he could share a tuna mornay she’d cooked up. He appreciated that.

They ate the tuna mornay.

She asked what he had planned for the evening.

Nothing.

She said she’d like to catch a band back at the pub. He thought that sounded OK. She said she’d take a shower and change.

He rifled through the Cleo’s wondering which footballer/actor/stockbroker/winemaker would be the Most Eligible Bachelor of the month.

She emerged from the shower wearing a short sky blue towelling robe. She was free if not easy this girl. He was aware of her ease

He freshened up without changing his clothes. For the sake of description a blue linen shirt, cotton trousers, a light wool jacket and desert boots. He didn’t exactly qualify for the Most Eligible Bachelor class.

She dried her hair and slipped into ‘something comfortable’, a short light green frilly dress which accentuated her best features, her lovely, long tanned legs.

(They’d only just met for Chris’sake. There were two million stories in this city and this was one of them.)

The pub was pretty packed but the band was shithouse, poor men’s Status Quo and he was never a Quo fan in the first place, crap speaker system and all. They danced a bit and while she drew a lot of male glances it wasn’t for her dancing which was strangely subdued. They didn’t talk. In this atmosphere there was little to say. He bought here a hock, lime and lemon. They left at eleven.

Back at the flat she poured an ouzo – two glasses – and they each had seconds. She said her flatmate had moved out the previous week, scooted off with a boyfriend leaving her share of a month’s rent owing. She herself worked as a secretary for a real estate company but had been put off. She wasn’t quite sure where the money was coming from.

She poured him a third glass and said she was turning in. He could spend the night on the couch. She tossed him a pillow and a rug. There was a Sunday market down the road where he could find a well-made bed for a good price.

She turned in.

He couldn’t sleep. She had a good heart (and great legs) but this money thing started to get to him. He’d yet to find a job, he had limited cash and didn’t feel disposed to alleviate someone else’s debts, someone he’d just met, no matter how good her legs were. He’d be out of there. First light. Out.

He wondered what she thought when he was gone the following morning, no message and failed to return during the day. He imagined her telling a girlfriend about this bloke rocking in from out town, eating her mornay, drinking her plonk, dossing down for the night and then pissing off before the crack of dawn, no note, bugger all. He reckoned she’d say he was ‘a bit of a bastard’.

And she wouldn’t be far wrong.

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