We were about four hours into the second half when Elvis had his accident. My side including Gilbert and Bumper was in quite a commanding position with us leading thirty-five goals to twenty-four. This was mainly due to Elvis’ team including Gilbert’s older brothers Gerald and Bernard Douglas. You would think that experience would have given them an advantage over us however they seemed to have just learnt more mistakes and clumsy challenges. Whilst most of us attempted to wear some sort of football kit, Bernard took us all by surprise with his outfit. He wore a patterned, woollen sweater, paisley boxer shorts, the like of which we had never seen, we were used to Spiderman y-fronts, and a pair of navy socks and brown brogues.
“What’s he come dressed as?” asked Elvis.
“His todger’s going to come out of those shorts if he’s not careful,” observed Bumper.
We just shrugged and got on with the game. I had run down the right wing and chipped the ball to Gilbert who attempted what could only be described as a tricycle kick with arms and legs flailing everywhere. The ball, which should have been nestling in the imaginary net at the back of the bush end, had flown in quite the opposite direction and had gone out of play on the Tate side. Elvis chased after it.
He wasn’t looking where he was going when he slipped.
That’s when the car hit him.
“Are you all right Pete?”
My head was thumping and my eyes were just about focusing. I felt the back of my head and there was an egg-sized lump but luckily there didn’t appear to be any blood. I could make out two fuzzy faces, they started to become clearer, and I was starting to remember. Claire and Kev. Yes, that was it Claire and Kev. The slow realisation didn’t do much for my bad head. I was beginning to feel nauseous; the salty saliva was now forming in my mouth. I was going to be sick.
“Can’t take his drink, that’s his problem. One sip of whisky and he’s on his arse.”
“Shut up, Kev. He’s not well.”
“I’m Ok. It’s just a bit hot in here,” I was starting to come round.“ Can I use your bathroom?”
The cold white porcelain in the spacious bathroom had been a relief. I threw up once, seeing Marie’s lovingly cooked meal in front of me again. I got up washed my face and drank a glass of water, noticing the photo of Kev and Alvin Stardust on the wall.
I realised that last night had taken it’s toll. I’d stayed up all night with Elvis making the invitations and we managed to polish off best part of a bottle of Bells along with the Boddingtons and wine. We even drank the Liebfraumilch. Marie had gone to bed and left us to it. I’d felt a bit sheepish when she woke me up on the couch in the morning.
“We don’t see you for fifteen years and then you come here, get drunk and fall asleep on the couch. What impression is that to give Declan, or Elvis for that matter?” Marie gave me a telling off.
“I’m sorry, I think we got a bit carried away.”
“Don’t worry about it. Elvis seems happy to see you and that’s good enough for me. He’s been a bit down lately.”
Why hadn’t Elvis and Marie warned me about Claire and Kev? It wasn’t that I hadn’t asked. I’d mentioned Claire a couple of times to both of them. They just avoided the question, saying that they saw her about occasionally but didn’t speak much. They were even less forthcoming about Kev I’d put it down to the fact that there wouldn’t be anything interesting to tell about the ape-man. Even if he had been inside it wouldn’t have been newsworthy. It was the least that was expected of him.
“So what’s this Kev was saying about a school reunion?” Claire sat me down on the sofa. “Sounds like a good idea. I get to see quite a lot of people from school but they never really have the time to speak. You know how it is, everyone lives their life at one hundred miles an hour now.”
“I’m off to do some business. Don’t give him anymore to drink; we don’t want him to be sick on the carpet. Cost me a fucking packet, well it would have done if I’d actually paid for it.”
“See you Kev, be careful.” Claire waved him out of the door, eager for him to go to work.
“So what business is he in then?” I asked.
“Oh just this and that, you know. Do you want a coffee or something? We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”
“No thanks, not at the moment. I’ve got quite a lot to do, people to see. Maybe catch up later?” I wanted to get out and clear my head. I needed some time to take everything in. “Maybe another time.”
“Yeah, everybody lives their lives at one hundred miles an hour.” I noticed a sadness in her voice that hadn’t been there before. “Do you need a taxi?”
“No, I’ve got the car thanks.”
“And you’re sure you are all right to drive?” Claire looked worried. Her concern was justified seeing as I collapsed as soon as I walked through the door then threw up in her bathroom.
“Yeah. Sorry about earlier. I think it’s the jet lag and late nights catching up with me.”
“Well make sure you get some rest before the reunion because I’ll be expecting a dance from you. Great invitations by the way.”
“What? Oh yeah Burnsy, excellent aren’t they? I’ll see you later then.”
“Take care.” Claire gave me a peck on the cheek and opened the door. The smile that I remembered returned to her face.
“See you later.”
I noticed the garden as I left. Despite the lions and the fountain it was really impressive. Maybe Gilbert does have his uses. I thought to myself.
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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