This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 1930 words.
The Birthday Meal.
(A longer episode)
In the days leading up to the night out, Finn had deliberately avoided asking Roland to come round. He made excuses about needing to catch up with school-work, said his mum wasn’t feeling good, anything he could think up. He had been embarrassed to admit to Roland that his plan had failed, and told him that the Italian meal was already booked and arranged. To make his mum pay for her stubbornness, he deprived her of his friend. Even though that meant depriving himself.
She had noticed of course, but refused to allow herself to ask Finn why Roland hadn’t been round at all, since they had that chat. She also tried not to miss the presence of the cheerful, good-looking boy. But some of the evenings seemed to last far too long. Finn stayed in his room after dinner, and Anthony retreated to his laptop. At times, she felt like someone living alone.
That Saturday was actually the day after Finn’s birthday, but the best night for them all to celebrate. The Friday had been pleasant enough. A few cards arrived, and there were some phone calls from distant relatives. Finn enjoyed receiving his presents, and he placed a card Roland had given him right next to the TV. But he had gone up to bed almost as soon as dinner was over, soon followed by Anthony shutting himself up in the spare room. Roxanne spent the rest of the night of her son’s birthday sitting alone with a bottle of wine, wondering where her nice life had disappeared to.
The Italian place in the city was popular, and expensive. One of those old-school places where people dressed smartly, and elderly waiters wandered around with pepper-mills the size of cudgels. Anthony had decided that the grey suit he had worn for work yesterday was good enough, and Finn insisted on wearing a new polo shirt and black trousers that he had asked for as presents. Roxanne was dressing to impress. A black cocktail dress with see-through sleeves, decent size heels, and high-gloss tights that Finn joked would have everyone needing to wear sunglasses. She had luxuriated in a bath for far too long, and shaved off any hair still remotely visible on her body. By the time Roland arrived thirty minutes before the taxi was due, she had enough slap on to pass as a nightclub entertainer. Anthony thought she had overdone it, for an Italian meal with two boys, but he said nothing. Roxanne had already drunk two large glasses of wine before six, and she seemed to be in a funny mood, best left alone.
When they got near the taxi, Finn shouted “Shotgun!”, and leapt into the front, next to the driver. His dad looked miffed, but tolerated the birthday boy on this occasion. That left Roland having to squeeze into the back, with Roxanne perched between him and Mr Mellor. He tried not to look at her, but couldn’t avoid it. Besides, her leg was jammed up against his for the whole journey, and the feel of that was making him uncomfortably hot. She also seemed to be acting strangely. When he got into the car, she had winked at him, and put her arm along the back of the seat, so it was around him as he shuffled across. He could smell that her perfume was mixed with the aroma of white wine, and he wondered if she might be a bit drunk.
The taxi had to drop them off a couple of hundred yards away, and as they started to walk the short distance to the restaurant, Roxanne held Roland’s arm, seeming taller with her high-heeled shoes on. Before they got to the door, she spoke in a voice that was deliberately too loud. “Well Roland, I hope that when these two disappear upstairs later, I can at least count on you to keep me company?” She turned with a smile, and planted a big kiss on his cheek, far too close to the corner of his mouth. She seemed to be waiting for a reply before walking in, so he said the first thing he could think of. “Of course”.
As the waiter brought the menus, Roxanne immediately ordered a bottle of Soave. She had pulled Roland around to sit next to her on the banquette, leaving Finn next to his dad on the chairs opposite. Mr Mellor looked very uncomfortable, and studied the menu extensively, so as not to have to look up. Finn waited until the waiter had brought the drinks and poured her wine, then smiled. “You alright, mum? You seem to be in a funny mood”. He looked very nervous, most unlike him. Roxanne grinned back, and flamboyantly draped an arm around Roland as she replied. “Funny mood? Not at all. I have never been in a better mood. Here I am, out with my loving husband and devoted son, sitting next to the most handsome boy in town, admiring his lovely blue shirt and matching trousers. I couldn’t be happier. Then when you two are not around later, we can watch a film or something”. She turned to Roland, her mouth so close to his, he couldn’t focus. “That will be nice, won’t it? That OK with you, Roland love? Still having no idea what to say, he just nodded.
Finn nudged his dad, hoping to prompt him into saying something. If felt as if his mum was having a nervous breakdown. But Anthony didn’t look up from his menu. All he did say was, “No starter for me this time, I think I will have the Veal Milanese”.
Roxanne was finally having some real fun, after all those years. Under the red and white checked tablecloth, she had grabbed Roland’s hand by the wrist and was sliding it up and down her thigh, even sneaking it under the hem of her dress. She knew it would get him in a terrible state, but she didn’t care. Time for some payback. She had ignored the menu, and when the waiter arrived, she said, “We are not having starters apparently. I will have the Chicken Parmigiana, with a side of garlic bread. Oh, and another bottle of Soave. They will tell you what they want”. After mumbling his order, Roland actually thought he might pass out. Roxanne had pushed his hand all the way up to what Finn euphemistically called ‘the forbidden territory’, and her husband was sitting right opposite him. He would loved to have just got up, excused himself to the toilet, anything to get away from the table. But he sensed something about Roxanne’s mood, and he thought it best to stay put.
At least the arrival of the food gave him a chance to move his hand out from under Roxanne’s dress. He ate slowly, watching Finn get more withdrawn as the evening went on. Mr Mellor avoided eye contact with anyone, looking for all the world like a stranger who had joined them at their table. When the plates were being cleared away, Roxanne grabbed his hand again placing it back where it had been earlier. Then she squeezed her legs together, trapping it there. She grinned at the waiter. “No desserts thanks, we have a birthday cake arranged” He nodded, and turned to speak to a colleague walking past.
The lights were dimmed briefly as the cake arrived, with its fourteen candles flickering. Three waiters stood around singing ‘Happy Birthday To You’, but nobody had told them Finn’s name. So when they got to that part, they substituted ‘Young Man’ instead. As the oldest waiter produced a huge knife to cut the cake, Roxanne called out, her voice too loud. “No that’s OK. Just put it back in the box, and we will take it home”. Nodding at her husband and son, she added with a sneer. “Seems these two are keen to get back and look at their computers”.
Mr Mellor had a red face, and he didn’t wait for the staff to bring the bill. He went to the bar to pay, and returned with the cake, standing by the table. Roxanne poured some more of the wine into her glass. “Why don’t you two go home, Anthony dear? You can take the booked taxi, and Roland will look after me. We will get one from the rank when I am ready”. He didn’t reply to her, instead turning to his son. “Come on Finn, I think it’s best if we leave mum to it”. Finn was outraged at his weakness, but stood up to leave with him, giving Roland a look that could cut glass. When they had gone, Roxanne put her hand onto Roland’s thigh, and gave it a hard squeeze. “Well now it’s just me and you, honey. As it should be, according to Finn. Pour me some more wine will you?” Roland was overwhelmed by the whole evening. He should have left with the others, but could hardly leave Roxanne in that condition. She had been so obvious, he was sure both Finn and Mr Mellor had seen what she had been doing with his hand. As much as he wanted her, he had never wanted it to be like this. It was all wrong.
On the way to the taxi rank, she hardly looked at him, and didn’t say a word. She had made him stay for almost another hour, but it still wasn’t that late. He didn’t know why she was behaving like it, and was worried she was going to turn nasty.
Roxanne didn’t know what to say, and that was why she hadn’t spoken. She had no idea what had come over her. Although not as drunk as she was acting, she felt a strange sense of freedom. To hell with all of them. Boring Anthony with his working late, and computers. Her calculating son and his devious plans. Even this good-looking boy who apparently talked the talk, but couldn’t do what he boasted about. She would show them all. In the taxi, she sat in the back, close to him. Close enough to feel his discomfort and confusion.
Back at the house, both Finn and Mr Mellor were upstairs, as predicted. Roxanne took Roland’s hand, and marched him into the living room, kicking off her high heels in the hallway as she walked along. Once in the room, she switched on a side-lamp, and closed the door. Roland stood awkwardly, his hands by his sides. He was supposed to sleep over that night, but he was trying to think of a good reason not to. “I should go upstairs, be with Finn”. She shook her head, a wicked smile spreading over her attractive face. “Oh no you don’t. Not tonight”, She pulled him toward her and kissed him passionately. Despite everything telling him to pull away and run for the door, Roland didn’t want to move. He didn’t really know how to kiss properly, but was happy to let her show him.
Then she leaned back, bending an arm behind her. Roland stood fascinated, as he heard the sound of the zip sliding. Roxanne pulled the front of her dress down, displaying an overflowing half-cup bra, in matching black. Her large breasts bulged out of the top, like huge white marshmallows “This is what you want, isn’t it?” She reached a hand forward, and slid it between his legs. “Oh yes, something tells me you do”. Roland stared at what she had revealed, like some ancient tribesman watching a miracle happen before his eyes.
He wondered if it was possible for the human body to just explode.
Then the doorbell rang.