Saturday, 22 November 2014


The next afternoon Simon came home early carrying a silvery suit bag, and whistling cheerfully. He was feeling confident; confident and bold. The shop in Rosebank had been everything he'd hoped for. His suit was sharp and -according to the salesman, a very friendly but somewhat twitchy young man called Al- sexy.

Al had exclaimed in horror over Simon's serviceable cotton boxers - “Darling! I wouldn't be caught undressed in THOSE!”- and firmly demanded he buy some silky things in a dark plum colour.

He had bought not only the suit, but a shirt, a thin tie (“NO BOW-TIES! Did you see Javier Bordum at the Oscars in a bow-tie? And that there is a hunk with style!”) sharp narrow shoes and silky cobweb-light socks. And of course, the silk boxers...

He'd made a stop at his barber for a quick clip, and had, besides, a slim volume tucked into the back hip pocket of his jeans. The first salvo in his counterstrike. He was going to be “To die for, darling!” as Al had exclaimed.

He arrived home just as Pearl was preparing to usher the children out of the house and upstairs to Mrs Marcovich.

“Pearl! Children! Hello!”

“Good afternoon, Sir. You are very cheerful today!”

“Indeed, Pearl, indeed! I had a very good day!”

“We did too, Papa Simon,” said Thalie smiling. “Is that your clothes for the ball?”

Simon smiled “Yes indeed, Miss Thalie. A man must look sharp when he is going to be escorting a lovely lady, don't you agree, Isaiah?”

Isaiah winked at him in approval and smiled. “100%, Papa Simon. Sharp, mean and lean!”

“I don't know about the lean, the way Mama Pearl's been feeding me up these last months, but I will do my best!”

Simon cleared his throat, “I have something for you, my family, so gather around.” 

He reached into his coat pocket and drew out a tiny box he handed to Thalie. “For my Princess!” Thalie opened the box and exclaimed over a pink Swarovski crystal heart on a silver chain. From his other pocket Simon took a Swiss Army knife that had Isaiah shouting in delight; and then with his best suave smile he added “And I wouldn't want you to feel left out Pearl...” He handed her the slim case that had been burning a hole in the back pocket of his jeans.

"Just a little something to add some sparkle to your outfit for tonight."

Pearl held the case in her hands for one long moment, then turned up her limpid gaze to his face. Her tone was perfectly polite. "Thank you, Sir. As always, you are very thoughtful and very kind."

"Well? Aren't you going to open it?" Asked Simon, surprised.

"Yes, oh, of course..." And Pearl opened the case to reveal a pretty red-gold and garnet antique Victorian choker. 

Thalie, jumping up and down with excitement peered into the case and exclaimed in disappointment.
"Oh no! It won't go! It's the wrong colour!"

Simon stared at her "Wrong colour?"

"Don't you know ANYTHING about accessorising Papa Simon? It doesn't go with what MamaPearl is wearing tonight." and then she added kindly, "But it's very pretty."

Strike two.

"Come along children. Let's leave Papa Simon to get dressed up! Let's go to Mrs Marcovich's."
Pearl turned at the door with that terrible polite smile.
"I will see you in an hour, Sir."

"Pearl!" Simon cried out, "Wait!"

She paused, hand on the door-knob. "Yes Sir?"

"I don't know why, but I keep doing and saying the wrong things. I wanted to give you that gift. From the heart. And the flowers, Pearl. To thank you..."

"What do you thank me for, Sir?"

"For being in my life." 

There was absolutely no politeness in Pearl's dazzling smile. "It is I who must thank you, Simon. I will see you in an hour."



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