(OJ Note: This is a forthcoming novella, currently in progress. Please excuse any grammar/speeling errors as part of the WIP nature. Either way, hope you enjoy…)
1 – Buns in the Oven
The month of February was, dare I say it, a damned curious one.
It all began, as this tales do, when I returned from my work at offices of Bounder, Bounder & Hyde, to find my wife Beatrice greeting me with a glee that was radiant. Why, she was almost glowing in the doorway to our abode. Come to think of it, maybe she was glowing. It certainly would explain a lot, primarily the bright yellow aura about her person.
That wasn’t important then, as instead she greeted me with the most joyous news.
“Darling, I’m pregnant.”
Why, I nearly dropped my briefcase was joy, something I would rarely do. A man’s briefcase was his primary weapon in the fight against communism, and I wasn’t about to relinquish for no Jerry St Russki. But a child? To adorn our happy home? Why, that was such top news that I felt like romancing Beatrice on the very spot.
Fortunately, my animal urges remained intact, and we instead shared a hearty handshake over the splendid news. A child, a bouncing baby, introduced into our very lives. It was the pinnacle of fine living that was expected of us from our elders; they had passed down to us the good, old-fashioned living techniques that had made our quaint town of Little Thwopping the powerhouse that it was. At least in this section of the county.
I had been born Simon Forthwilly before the Greater War, which was far bigger than the Great War. My parents, Hyacinth and Trevor, raised me in a firm, but fair, household. I ate a 5-a-day diet of gruel and sand, whilst also enduring nightly thrashing from my father. Did I turn out OK? Did I ever! And I was sure to adopt the same parenting skills to Beatrice and I’s bundle of forthcoming joy.
We had met as young folk, just after the Greater War had ended. Bonding over a chocolate tart made by the local bachelor, Edward Groper, we were giddy with emotions and became quite close during his photography sessions. After some quite risque shots, and Mr Groper’s subsequent disappearance, we made our love official and enjoyed a chaste courtship over many years. I yearned to marry her sooner, but my climb up the corporate ladder at Bounder & Bounder – Hyde was yet to join – was in it’s infancy.
Ah, infancy… how I looked forward to seeing my little one emerge from his mother’s lady-parts. What smiles and toasts of fine whiskey would be made, as she would push blood and faeces to produce life into this wonderful world. Why, I remember the first time we made love; it was the most erotic 2 minutes of my entire life, outside of the locker room at St Seville’s. Even then, we had hoped for a little one, but were always cursed against such things. Beatrice, bless her soul, thought she was the one to blame, being barren as a Russian’s soul. I, being a loving husband, told her that while this may be true, a good bit of cake-making would sort her right out.
Let me tell you, the custard tarts back then really hit the spot!
I digress. After celebrating our good fortune with a cheeky drop of ginger ale, I announced my plans to head to my local drinking hole, the Paterson Arms, and engage in a spot of revelry with my chums. Beatrice was all too happy to oblige, and promised a might ham on my return.
What a woman.
With a loosening of my tie, and a fresh skip in my step, I had headed to the tavern to find it chock-full of my good chums. There was Stan Bodger, Bob Collins, Dennis Ramsbottom and even dear old Yuri Romanov – who assured us the name and strange accent were all just bizarre happenstance. Each one of them had a tankard in hand and a cheer in their voice, as Brian, the curmudgeon of a landlord, saw me enter. He gave me a mean old eye, before announcing his suspicions.
“You duffed her and all?”
I couldn’t contain my glee one jot, as my poker face broke in an instance. The gents all cheered with me, beckoning me into their celebrations, while Brian poured me a hearty ale.
“Beatrice preggers too eh, Simon?”
I couldn’t say no, and took my drink in hand and rejoiced in the notion that a family was starting in my own home.
“Then join the club, all our wives have buns in their ovens,” Bob said.
I didn’t pick up on the strange coincidence of this, for I was already inebriated by happiness and, soon enough, Brian’s potent ales. Looking back, maybe I should have questioned the reality of this scenario. For all of us, including those outside our social circle – one oik was swiftly transferred outside when trying to slovenly join in our cheers – had suddenly become fathers. It was a wild fall of the cards, and one that, if I were a betting man, would gain me substantial odds.
The mere fact, to boot, that Beatrice and I rarely engaged in intercourse these days also added to the perplexing nature of her condition. But in that moment, none of it mattered, as I was too flush with frivolity to care.
Dennis already had 2 girls, while Stan was blessed with a young scallywag named Tim, with both men confessing they had no interest in further children. Still, they all confessed on their shared joy, with many tears flowing along with the ale.
“I wonder what I’ll call it?”
“I’m gonna make mine a singer!”
“Children good time, yes!”
“How am I gonna support that many kids?”
Oh, the chat was boisterous as it was hopeful. And make no mistake, we were hopeful men in that time. The prospect of being a parent, whether new or old, always makes one feel alive, feel like a man. We had sown our seed, and were about to gather the crop.
Despite, as I say, our seed rarely being sown.
We all drank to the early hours of the morn, until our bladders were bursting and our wallets were empty. After Brian urged us all to leave at closing with a well-aimed shotgun blast, we all fell outside and went our separate ways. Dennis joined me in a stagger, for he lived just around the way from I. As we lumbered along, urinating in the odd flower pot, he felt the urge to share a confession with me.
“I have to say, Simon my man,” he said, “I haven’t touched Violet in many a moon. Barely flickered at her nipples. Dunno how I done her one.”
“Maybe she had her way with you whilst you slept?”
Oh, how we laughed at that. I do not laugh now, though, recalling these words from Dennis. For, and my knowledge of the female bodily system is light, if he had no sexualised her in recent times, how was his wife pregnant?
Again, we were drunk on merriment, and exotic liqueurs, to care about such details. Maybe if we had, we would not be in the pickle we are today. Wiser men would have known that the only touch they would have given their lady would be a four-penny one for her poor culinary skills. And yet, none of us were wise enough to see the signs.
Even as I drunkenly entered my abode, and fell about on our hallway floor, the questions I have now were mere shadows in the synapses. They were there, but they were eroded by far too much pleasantness. For I was to be a father, and that was all that mattered right now. Even the thought of securing the deal wasn’t enough to rise me from my stupor.
Oh, and how that stupor has continued, and damned my quaint little town.