Jonathan was strolling through the town centre. He kept thinking about “The Molly Kingston Story” and was thrilled that she had agreed to work with him on it. He had bought some printing paper, a note pad and a dictaphone to help get things started. He was aware that he didn’t want to intrude on Molly any more than necessary and they had agreed that he would come to her flat on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at ten in the morning until midday. Jonathan would ask a few questions and Molly would simply talk into his Dictaphone. In the afternoons Jonathan would type up the interviews and start compiling a rough manuscript. The first half hour of each meeting would be devoted to Jonathan reading the transcript from the previous session to ensure that Molly was happy with it. It sounded like a great arrangement. He had something to get his teeth into and Molly had a bit more company than usual.
As he walked, his head lost in thoughts and plans for the book, he was unaware of a series of accidents that would ensue. Oblivious to his surroundings for a second or two, Jonathan fell over an advertising board outside a café. The board with him on top of it crashed onto a sleeping dog’s tail causing the poor animal to leap up yelping and barking in a blind panic. The dog proceeded to jump over one of the café street tables, clattering cups of coffee and plates of toasted teacakes onto the pavement. In a flash, the dog had disappeared up an alley, no doubt wondering what had just happened and who that clumsy idiot was who had attacked him. The teacake couple, a smartly dressed man of years and his lady friend looked at the Jonathan who was sprawled in an ungainly heap on the ground next to them.
“What on earth do you think you’re playing at?” shouted the man. “You could have killed that dog.” Jonathan stood up, patted himself down to tidy up his clothing, picked up his bags of stationery and approached the couple.
“I am very, very sorry about that. It was totally my fault. I wasn’t looking where I was going. Please, let me replace your drinks and food.” At this point the café owner walked came out to see what all the fuss was about. Jonathan explained, apologized and offered to pay for the broken crockery. The lady at the table was still shaking as Jonathan stealthily moved away from the chaotic scene. It was probably the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to him, apart from the time the elastic waistband on his shorts gave way during a school relay race many years ago. He had to finish the race by clutching his shorts in case they fell down in a Norman Wisdom comedy kind of way. His pace quickened as he headed home before anything else happened, taking a short cut down a side street.
As he turned the corner into Maple Road, he looked over to his building. Outside, a removals van had parked up. Jonathan was intrigued. He was not aware of anyone moving out but maybe the second floor flat above the grocery shop was getting a new occupant. He crossed the road, walked around the back of the van to have a peek inside. He noticed lots of expensive, modern furniture.
“See anything you fancy,” said a voice behind him. He turned round and the blood drained from his face. There standing in front of him was Annie, the Cow, his wife for God’s sake.
“Annie,” gasped Jonathan, “what on earth are you doing here?”
“I’m moving in to the vacant flat with Chico.” Annie said it as a matter of no consequence, a done deal, as if it was the most uncontroversial thing anyone could say at such a moment, in such an awkward situation.
“What?” Jonathan could feel something volcanic beginning to stir inside him.
“Well, I know this area and this place and I’ve always liked Maple Court. It was just us that didn’t seem to fit into my life plans anymore.” Annie’s voice had changed. It was posher, her attempt at trying to sound more intelligent but in a hippy kind of way. Jonathan had never heard her use the term “life plans” before.
“Chico is a life coach,” she said, “and this is a great location for clients and running our business from home. I’m his PA, as well as other things of course.” She giggled.
Jonathan shuffled from one foot to the other. “Have you thought this through, Annie? How it will affect Sophie?”
“Oh, time is a great healer and she’ll come round to the fact that life is a challenge. By the way,” Annie moved a step closer, “it’s not Annie anymore. If life is to change then some things have to be put in place to illustrate the new road taken. It’s Angelica, from now on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get on.”
Jonathan walked slowly, his pace curtailed by disbelief. This was punishment from the god of dogs for the incident of the café. The lift doors opened and a young man, muscular yet trim, dressed in a tight black tee-shirt, blue jeans and Nike shoes bounded out.
“Hey, how’s it hanging, neighbour? Catch you later.” Chico, for it couldn’t be anyone else surmised Jonathan, skipped out into the street in the direction of the removals van and Annie. He picked Annie up, kissed her full on the lips, swung her around and let her down gently with a tender hug. They both cackled like kids. Jonathan had the double urge to vomit and to punch his lights out. He did neither but his head was scrambling around for some sense of reason in all of this, some indication that it wasn’t really happening. All the way up in the lifet, out on to the landing, through his front door, Jonathan was digging deep for the right words to use to explain all of this to his daughter. Whatever he said and however he said it, Sophie would go ballistic.