Simon admired the view before him with very little surprise. Charlie was steadying himself against the door frame while a very drunk girl was throwing up on the pavement outside.
‘Simon… I err…’
‘Brought a date with you?’ Simon offered.
‘Yes! A date!’ said Charlie, and then leaned in in an attempt to seem sober, ‘I hope that’s ok.’
‘She looks like she’s going to die.’
‘She’ll be alright.’
Simon smiled, a small part of him enjoying the mayhem that Charlie brings into his life, ‘At least you’re on time.’
Charlie grinned and entered the house. On passing Simon he leaned in to whisper in Simon’s ear, ‘I think I love her.’
Simon walked down the steps and helped the young girl into the house.
Charlie wandered into the lounge where he was greeted by a very happy Jane.
‘Charlie! So lovely to see you again.’
They gave each other a peck on the cheek.
Simon entered the room with the massively inebriated girl and sat her on the couch. Jane continued to smile but with that contorted smile you only ever see on aristocratic women veining delight at seeing a photo of one of her slave’s children.
‘Oh. And who’s this lovely young lady?’
Charlie tried to remember her name. The girl put her arm up in a drunken proclamation and stated with confidence.
‘Yes!’ Charlie grinned, ‘Amelia! Amelia Heart! Her and I,’ pointing vaguely where she sat, ‘would like to thank you for the invitation to dine with you.’
‘My pleasure,’ Jane replied, ‘Simon, could I see you in the kitchen.’
‘No,’ said Simon, with an air of “I told you so”, ‘I think we should have a drink.’
It wasn’t long before Jane was lubricated enough to begin enjoying herself. The vomiting had sobered Amelia up enough for her to continue drinking and she was currently in the kitchen helping Jane prepare dinner. Jane poured the last few drops of Zinfandel Rosé into her glass and clumsily set the bottle down on the side.
‘So, Amelia, how do you know Charlie?’
Amelia looked at her glass. It was nearly empty.
‘More wine!’ She declared.
Jane opened the fridge and took out a fresh bottle and Amelia struggled to remember the last few hours of her life.
‘Err… he was sat on his own at the pub and I was like “heeey! I’m your biggest fan!”, oh god, I’m so embarrassing, I think he told me to piss off.’
Jane laughed and filled Amelia’s glass.
‘And now I’m at your house getting drunk with strangers!’ Amelia added.
‘Well,’ said Jane, ‘I’m glad you’re here, I haven’t had a good drink in a long time, and you seem like a nice girl.’
‘Thanks,’ Amelia beamed, ‘I like you too.’
They clinked glasses.
‘When you came in I thought, Oh god, Charlie’s picked up some bar skank to ruin the evening.’
‘Oh thanks,’ Amelia said.
‘No, I do like you.’
Jane looked at the pink wine in her glass and felt the warm feeling of alcohol swim around her body, I am drunk, she thought to herself.
A pan on the hob started bubbling over and Amelia went over to turn off the heat. Jane watched her with drunken eyes and felt mesmerized.
Outside, Charlie and Simon sat on the patio furniture. A small crate of stubby French beers sat ripped open on the table. Charlie was smoking a cigarette. Simon opened a small tin of Café Crème cigars. He took one out, studied it for a moment, and lit it with a match. They both sat there for a while just staring into the garden. Not because they had nothing to say, just because serene moments like these come too occasionally to ignore. Finally Simon spoke.
‘Apparently Ben Shepherd went on twitter after the interview yesterday and called you a massive cunt.’
This bought a smile to Charlie’s face.
‘And now he’s facing disciplinary action from ITV.’
‘You know,’ Simon continued, ‘I don’t know why you don’t like him, I think he’s alright.’
Charlie ignored him. He sat there in his chair, trying to navigate his way through the complicated maze that is the drunken mind, hoping to find reason to confide in Simon about his daughter. It’s not really something he ever intended to keep from anyone he’s just never been able to talk about it.
‘Dinners ready!’ came an enthusiastic shout from inside, bringing Charlie, quite suddenly, away from his thoughts.
‘Come and get it!’
Simon and Charlie managed themselves out of the patio chairs and stumbled into the house with the exaggerated concentration of alcoholics and sat/fell into their designated seats around the dining room table.
Jane and Amelia had put on quite an exquisite dinner. The lights had been dimmed and candles lit. A large roasted bird of some description, probably turkey, steamed tantalizingly in the centre of the table. Various delicate bowls held potatoes and vegetables. There were even two types of gravy. Put simply; all the stops had been pulled out.
‘Dig in,’ said Jane.
After a few moments of drunken slicing, dishing and spooning, plates were full and the cooked bird was now just bones. Jane poured the crisp white wine she had chosen specifically to complement the meal and a warm and friendly evening was about to begin. – That is how Jane’s mind perceived the whole thing anyway.
Charlie and Simon’s thoughts on the matter were slightly different. For instance the first thing both of them thought, thus proving they’re not so different after all, was “wow, that’s a big chicken”. Charlie’s second thought was “I want to undress and fuck Amelia right now on this table”. Simon’s second thought was “Is it me or is there some serious sexual chemistry between Amelia and my wife? Amelia is damn sexy though”.
Amelia did appreciate the food and the wine but her thoughts had been distracted. When Jane stood to fill everyone’s wine glasses Amelia noticed Jane’s legs, her perfect legs and her tight dress moving with her body so perfectly that every small movement became a luring dance of pure erotica. Since then she’s been finding it difficult to keep her eyes, or mind for that matter, on anything else.
‘I saw you on GMTV the other day, how exciting that your book is being made into a film!’ said Jane.
‘I’m only doing it because the director’s daughter invited me to her next slumber party,’ said Charlie.
‘Charlie, there are limits to what is acceptable, even for you. Specifically age limits!’ said Simon.
‘Calm down, she’s 23. And anyway I’m not going ahead with the film.’
Simon put his fork down.
‘What? You have to we’ve already signed the contracts. Even if you say you don’t want to they’ll still make it anyway. They already own the TV and Film rights to the book.’
‘They want Owen Wilson to play the main character!’ said Charlie.
‘I love Owen Wilson, he was so good in Marley and Me,’ said Jane.
‘Which is exactly why he’s wrong for the part, it’s not a book about a coy, soft spoken floppy haired bum! The guy in the book kills one of the Queen’s Corgis with a harp! Can you see Owen Wilson doing that?!’ said Charlie.
Amelia rested her hand on Jane’s leg.
‘I loved Marley and Me,’ she smiled, moving her hand gently.
Jane rested her hand on Amelia’s and looked up at her seductive smile. Images of new and forbidden pleasures filled her thoughts. She looked over at her middle aged husband. Anything sexually risqué with Simon seemed pretty unlikely. Ever again. She had been looking for something exciting to fill the daily boredom of life for some time and today the two and a half bottles of wine she had consumed were pleasantly nudging her in Amelia’s direction.
‘It won’t be Owen Wilson, or, it might not be, the filmmakers have agreed for you to be present at the casting auditions,’ said Simon.
‘Really? How did you swing that? You can’t even swing, a, err, a swing! HA!’ said Charlie.
‘And you call yourself a writer,’ muttered Simon.
‘Can I be in the film?’ asked Amelia.
‘Yes,’ said Charlie, without a thought.
‘Really?!’ she squealed.
Charlie took a silent moment to examine Amelia’s various talents; her mousy features and dark hair, her slightly tan skin, her perfectly crafted more-than-a-good-couple-of-handfuls-size breasts; her slim waist. His trousers began to tighten and he looked back up to her eyes; her big inviting eyes. He hadn’t realized until then how perfect she was.
‘She would have to audition,’ said Simon, knowing Charlie was probably serious.
‘When are the auditions?’ asked Charlie.
‘Tomorrow, didn’t you look at that schedule I gave you? It only had two things on it.’
‘Cool, come to the auditions tomorrow then, I know the perfect part for you!’
‘Eep!’ she squealed.
Jane clasped her hands in excitement for Amelia. Charlie increased the pressure to his stiffening penis; the power to choose the cast for his own film made parts of his brain ping with a new type of sexual ecstasy.
There really was a perfect part for Amelia.
‘Camille Tearheart,’ said Charlie, ‘she’s the Queen’s personal secretary. She’s also a double agent, a closet serial killer, and a sexual blackmailer.’
It’s a combination that doesn’t arise too often in fictional writing but the character, Camille Tearheart, has often been described as the most alluring character in the history of literature.
Simon’s mind wandered back to those most vivid and controversial passages of Charlie’s last novel. Most men keep that book close to a box of tissues and a self help book. It’s truly thrilling stuff.
Simon forced his mind back to the dinner table. The conversation had moved on now and it seemed like more time had passed than he’d realized. That’s the problem with Charlie’s writing; it really takes you somewhere your mind shouldn’t be allowed to go. It traps you, new taboos are formed and exploited, layout and plot beckon to the will of the characters darkest fantasies, his books take over you and force you to enjoy the most horrific of things with a feeling of joy and unnerving sexual pleasure. It is a confusing and wonderful experience. So when you remember a particular scene, like Simon just did, time slips away and doors to parts of the mind (that would disgrace even the darkest mind of any animated Disney teapot) open up and suck you in.
Simon finished off a glass of wine and ate a piece of potato soaked in gravy.
‘Why don’t you two ever go out together? It would do Simon the world of good to get out of the house occasionally,’ Jane was saying.
Amelia’s body had become a magnet to Jane’s body and mind and forces beyond her control were trying to get Charlie and Simon out of the house.
Simon frowned, ‘I like it here. I don’t need to go out and get drunk all the time.’
‘Why don’t you boys go and have a good lad’s night out this evening,’ said Jane, ‘You both deserve it.’
Simon took this with a pinch of salt.
‘You want me to go out with Charlie?’ he said.
He narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously.
‘Yes. Don’t worry, I trust you,’ said Jane.
‘You see what I said about her acting strange,’ he whispered to Charlie.
‘Strange is good. Come on, the Black Keys are playing a small gig at the Basement tonight. I can get us in.’
‘What about you two?’ asked Simon.
‘I think I’m in the mood for a more girly night tonight. It’s been nice having a girl around the house. I don’t think I’ve met a girl I can let my hair down with since my college days.’
‘I don’t know. Charlie what do you think?’
Charlie was already putting his jacket on, ‘About what?’
‘Yes. Let’s go.’
Charlie downed his wine and stood up. Simon noted Charlie’s eagerness and wondered why Jane seemed so suddenly happy about him going out with Charlie; the worst influence on the planet.
‘Ok. I guess. Where are we going? The cellar?’
Charlie smiled at the girls and left the house.
‘Ok. I guess we’ll see you later,’ said Simon.
Simon gave Jane a quick peck on the cheek and then went out after Charlie.
‘Have fun!’ shouted Jane from the house.