That night, Martin did his best to placate Ness. She was royally fed up about his treatment of her daughter, and acting miffed. He shut the typewriter away in one of the drawers in what he had been told was ‘the study’. Then he went back out onto the terrace to smooth things over with his fiance. After some nice smooching, and a few passionate kisses, Ness calmed down. But she hadn’t let it go completely. “What is it with that old portable, Martin? Why the hell is it such a big deal, when you can afford to get the latest and best computer money can buy? I just don’t get it. You never mentioned it before”.
He poured her another glass of red wine, and smiled to himself. Tell her the truth. She will never believe it, and it might make her laugh. Once they are laughing, the worst is over. “The thing is, Ness, and you will think I am crazy, but that typewriter changes my future. Whatever I type on it one day, comes true the next. Once I have gone to bed, and woken up again. How do you think I got all this money?” As expected, she laughed. “Yeah, right. Pull the other one, Martin. A magic typewriter? Do you think I am some sort of impressionable kid?” Martin took his time. He told her the whole story. Pablo, Chloe, changing his life on a daily basis, and how he had been a famous novelist. For a while.
She listened, drinking her wine, and shaking her head. She had laughed, but the worst wasn’t over. “Honestly, Martin. I thought you gave me more credit. You tell me a fairy story, and expect me to believe it. I am very disappointed in you. I thought we had trust. I thought we had something special, I really did”. She grabbed the bottle, and filled her glass to the brim. He could see she was past tipsy, and feared that it would all turn nasty. “I will prove it you, honey”. We will type something on the machine tonight, and it will come true tomorrow. Whatever you want. You can tell me. Dictate it, if you want”. She waved a dismissive hand at him, and continued to swallow the wine. They sat like that for some time, both smoking heavily, and staring at the starry sky.
It was getting late when she finally slammed down her empty glass, and turned with a spiteful look on her face. “Right. Let’s go into the study, type something on that bloody thing, and we will see if that happens tomorrow. And when it doesn’t, I will have some choice things to say to you, believe me. I absolutely hate being treated as if I’m stupid. I had enough of that with Richard. You know that already”. He followed her into the room that was close to the size of his old flat. She marched over to the desk, and yelled, “I’m waiting!” He retrieved the Remington from the drawer, unzipped the case, and carefully inserted a piece of paper, taken from the printer next the the desk lamp. He turned to her. “What shall I type? You say”. She shrugged, suddenly less confident. “Something stupid. Something that could never happen. Surprise me”.
Martin hesitated for a moment, and a vision of Melanie came into his mind. He typed the sentence quickly, then slid the machine sideways, so that Ness could read what he had written.
‘Vanessa decided to go to Spain, and to live with Martin. Not long after that, her daughter Melanie abandoned her university degree, and left home to join them. She was nothing like her mother. Her fair hair was lank and greasy, she was very spotty, and considerably overweight. Martin estimated she must tip the scales at close to three hundred and fifty pounds. which for a woman of her height made her seriously obese. She cared little about her appearance, had no ambition, and had not even bothered to learn how to drive. Living in the sunshine of Spain was torture for her, as she was too shy to swim in the pool or the sea, and was too self-conscious to ever wear anything other than jeans, and an over-sized t-shirt’.
Ness read the paragraph, and looked over to Martin. “So you have written about my daughter being the total opposite of what she is, and you’re telling me that when we wake up tomorrow, that’s what she will be like?” He nodded. “But if you want, I can write something else. I could write that you are a natural blonde, or that Consuelo is only twenty-five, or that you have a Rolls-Royce limousine. It’s up to you, Ness”. Her eyes flickered. A moment of alarm, overwhelmed by disbelief. Martin kept her gaze, his mind turning over the fact that he had finally revealed his secret to someone else, and wondering if that was going to affect the outcome. Ness sat back, and folded her arms. “No, leave that in. Because that is never going to happen, not in a million years”.
Before they went to sleep that night, the atmosphere in the bedroom was strained. Ness was going through everything in her head, and firing random questions at him. “So you typed about winning the lottery, and it just happened? He nodded. “Yes, I never even bought a ticket”. After she let that sink in, something else occurred to her. “Did you type me into it too, into your bed, and being in love with you?” He reached for her hand, but she pulled it away. “I promise you I didn’t. I only met you that one time in the bank, but when I typed about the money and moving abroad, I woke up the next morning with you in bed next to me. I didn’t even know I was in Spain, did I?”
It was too much for her to take in, he knew that. She turned over, showing her back to him. As she reached to turn out the light, she spoke again, and her voice sounded different. “Honestly, Martin, I think you must either be going insane, or thinking you can treat me like a complete idiot. To come up with all that crap just to explain why that bloody typewriter is so important, instead of just telling me the truth. I have to tell you I am disappointed in you. Really.” As the light went out, he spoke softly to her. “You will see. Wait until tomorrow love”.
He woke up feeling extremely cold. He was alone in the bed, and it was almost nine. He checked the control for the air-conditioning, and saw it was on its lowest temperature setting. The room was like a fridge. Martin put some shorts on, and walked through to the terrace. The morning heat took the chill off his body immediately, and he continued in the direction of the pool. Ness was nowhere to be seen, but as he drew level with the dining room, movement inside attracted his attention.
A large woman was sitting at the table, eating pancakes and syrup from a plate in front of her. Another plate loaded with the same things stood next to her elbow, waiting to be consumed. He opened the door, and walked in. She looked up at him, swallowed the mouthful, and smiled. “Morning, Martin. Do you want some pancakes? There are more on the way, when Mum’s finished doing them”. Behind the swollen cheeks, and a double chin that looked like a medical collar, Melanie’s voice was still recognisable. “No that’s alright, Mel. I’m not hungry”. She shrugged, and continued to eat, slopping syrup down the front of the massive t-shirt, that was displaying the logo of ZZ Top, of all things.
Martin headed straight for the kitchen, keen to hear what Ness had to say about her daughter’s transformation. He guessed she would be angry, but she had to be convinced now. He would calm her down, and write Melanie back to her old self later. She was standing at the cooker, and smiled warmly as he came in. “Morning love. Do you want some pancakes? I’m just doing some extra for Melanie. She’s hungry, poor thing. Plenty for us too, if you fancy some”. Martin didn’t reply, and he felt his mouth drop open. Leaning on the counter for support, he looked her up and down.
Her hair was unwashed, and tied back in a pony tail that hung over one shoulder. She wore no make-up, and her huge arms wobbled as she flipped the pancakes around in the pan. She was wearing an unsuitable bikini. Unsuitable for a woman of her size, anyway. Between the two halves of the garment, rolls of fat cascaded down, like lava flowing from a volcano. Hips and thighs merged, hanging out to the sides like overstuffed weekend bags. Her swollen feet were jammed into some flip flops that were almost invisible under the painfully tight skin. She looked away from the hob, raising her eyebrows. “Did you hear me love? Want some of these or not?”
Pulling himself together, Martin gave her a weak smile. “No thanks, Ness. I’m not feeling hungry this morning”. She flapped her eyelids at him. “Well I’m feeling hungry for you, lovely man. Wait until I have had these pancakes, then I’m having you”. She mouthed a pouting kiss at him. Without replying, he turned to head for the study. He had to get to the Remington, and fast.
As he walked away, she called after him. “And what’s with the Ness’? You know I hate anyone shortening my name”.