Marsha's existence boiled down to her pitiful sexless relationship with her husband and her vacuous relationships with her middle-class friends. A surprise holiday for one of these friends affords Marsha the opportunity to spend some time away from her husband and experience something new.
“You spent two hundred pounds on a pair of fucking shoes?!”
“And how much do you spend on Sky fucking Sports, watching golf…FUCKING GOLF!...’til three o’clock in the morning? Golf!” It was almost as if she had just realised that golf actually was a ‘sport’.
“You can watch the sports too.” His voice had lowered. He knew he was already losing the argument and as soon as it had started his heart was no longer in it. He turned his back on her and skulked off to the kitchen. She shouted after him.
“Tiger fucking Woods gives you more of a hard on than I do! I bet you’d be well up for it if I was fucking Tiger Woods or blowing him while he was taking a crucial putt to win the French Open, but no. What do I get? A limp-dicked, golf-loving, homosexual of a husband.” These little episodes were a frequent occurrence in the Thorpe household. No children, a hill full of disposable income and a casual disregard for each other had, along with the passing of time, helped pull apart the fissure that existed between them into a chasm of spite, anger and bile.
“The French Open is tennis,” he muttered under his breath. “Stupid bitch.” He was about to take a beer from the fridge when the phone on the wall rang.
“Hi, it’s Sally. Is Marsha there?” Alex raised his eyebrows. Ignorant bitch, he thought.
“Oh hiiiii Sally, it’s Alex!” he squealed in feign joy and surprise, “How are you?” Before Sally could even begin to respond, if indeed she was going to, if even, she was listening at all, Alex bellowed down the hall, the receiver barely removed from his mouth, “MARSHA! IT’S SALLY!” Sally winced at the sudden shout, then listened again. “I DON’T KNOW!” shouted Alex in response to Marsha’s question. “Oh sorry!” exclaimed Alex to Sally. “Goodness, what am I like?” He smiled as he could almost hear Sally scowling down the phone. He so wanted to call her the worst thing he could think of and the word cunt formed on his lips. Maybe another time. Hopefully.
Marsha came in and gave her husband a withering look as she took the receiver from him. He pouted at her like a catwalk model. He wasn’t sure why and he suddenly remembered his beer in the fridge.
“Hi Sally!......Yes, of course…..Oh, really? Oh you jammy cow!.....Well, no, but I’m sure that won’t be a problem…...No, I don’t think so……Golf!.....” Marsha giggled and Alex thought he could hear Sally laughing too. If I had a five iron now he thought. “Yes…..Yes……OK, I’ll pop round in say…” Marsha looked at her watch. “Half an hour?......OK, great. See you then. Bye!”
She put the phone back in its cradle, turned on her heels (not the two hundred pound ones. They were still wrapped in silk, encased in a box and wrapped in a bag in the hallway), sneered at the husband she loved, yet pitied and left the kitchen the way she had come.
Alex put down his beer and picked up his imaginary five iron. Sally’s tiny head replaced the ball on the tee jammed between the tiles on the kitchen floor. He took his stance, waggled his hips a couple of times and began his backswing, drawing all the way back only to slowly revert to his starting position. Savouring the moment. The third backswing went further. He imagined her face looking up at him, eyes pleading. “No mercy,” he whispered. The metal club swished through the air and smashed into her cheek sending her head spinning through the air, smashing through the patio doors and beyond the tall pines at the rear of the garden.
“Pathetic.” Marhsa walked in catching the end of Alex’s majestic drive towards Laburnum Lane. “I’m going to Sally’s in half an hour. She’s going on holiday tomorrow and the kennel she was going to leave the dogs at has….well, the owner has died and they’re closed.”
“So Sally wants me to look after the dogs. Go round, feed them, let them in and out yadda yadda yadda.”
Alex grabbed his beer and took a sip. “Well, you enjoy yourself darling. I am having no part of it.”
“Well, what a fucking surprise,” sneered Marsha. “The opportunity for you to help friends out comes along and you spit in their faces.”
“They are no friends of mine. Sally is your ‘friend’, she fucking loathes me…”
“I don’t fucking blame her!” interrupted Marsha
“…And,” continued Alex, “Her husband is a dick.”
“I bet he fucking has one too!” Marsha screamed in her frustration and stormed out. Alex chuckled to himself. This oneupmanship had become a defining part of their relationship and he figured he was definitely even this afternoon. Well, perhaps. Almost. Two hundred fucking pounds! He shook his head and prepared to putt his imaginary ball into the gap between the stool leg and the breakfast bar.