A Small Victory
Goldie flung open the door.
"Hi. Hi! You must be Nije!" she shrieked.
Her arms were raised, elbows out, her plump hands open. On tiptoe, she proffered a cheek adjacent to his.
"Nigel," he murmured. "It's Nigel."
She abandoned him on the doorstep, slingbacks clattering her along the hall and into the kitchen. "Come in, come in!" she called to the air.
He stepped inside.
She shouted over her shoulder as she basted a rack of lamb. "Lovely meetin' you at last. Good journey? Take off your coat. We'll have jinkies in a min. I hope you're hungry, there's lashins here, simply oodles. I hope you like roast. Jools told me all about you."
Goldie slung the roasting pan in the oven, slammed the door, reset the dial, whipped off her pinny and glanced in the mirror to pat her hair, check teeth and gums for traces of stray juniper, lick her pinkie and run it along her eyebrow. Then, having cast a nod towards her reflection, smoothed her top and fixed a big, big smile, she turned and presented herself, framed in the kitchen doorway, right forearm high against the door jamb, left wrist over the door handle.
"Did you manage to ditch that dreadful girl, after all? She sounded such a pathetic waif. The funny little veggie. What was her name? Something very quaint: old fashioned, like some Victorian cat or a shrivelled maiden aunt."
"Er, this is Tabitha," mumbled Nigel. He was standing very still and straight. The ribbed soles of his walking boots had shed regular wave-patterns of black on the plain oatmeal carpet. His rucksack remained high on his back, his woolly hat crammed over his ears. His spectacles were clouded with steam. He blinked.
"Oh!" screamed Goldie, so loudly and suddenly that Nigel's scrotum retracted to greater safety. "Oh, you must think me so rude!"
Goldie charged at Tabitha for an embrace and the heel of her right slingback lurched inward, flinging her against the fleshless bone of Tabitha's left shoulder. Tabitha lost her balance and fell back against the welsh dresser, wedged between the hardwood and the carnivorous bosom of her hostess. Tabitha's lean vertebrae took the force of both the women's bodyweight. She winced with pain.
Goldie gained her equilibrium, bangles clattering.
"I didn't see you there! Nije is so tall and, look at you, you're such a tiny piece!"
Tabitha smiled in apology.
Julian bounced into the room. "Ah, jolly good," he roared, clapping his hands and then rubbing them together. He grinned and nodded rapidly. "I see you're making friends already."
Nigel broke wind silently. For the moment, it was the best he could manage in the way of revenge.