“Red wine? We’re white wine and champagne people, Chico.” Where did this come from? Angie was in the lounge and calling to Chico who was in the bathroom.
“I must have made a mistake at the off licence,” he answered. “My head must have been in a whirl knowing you would soon be back from the spa.” He looked at himself in the mirror hoping that his explanation was plausible.
“You’re a silly sod sometimes. Any other woman would reckon you’ve had a fancy piece round here while I’ve been away,” she chortled. Chico realized that he had never seen himself blush before. His neck was moist. He put his hands together in a praying pose and waited for Angie to speak. She was silent. Chico walked into the lounge and saw that Angie was asleep on the sofa. He looked at her and felt a rush of guilrt run through him. She had been good to him, even though she treated him like a puppy sometimes, but she had given him some stability. He brought a light blanket from the bedroom and placed it over her. Then he blew her a kiss, a hypocritical kiss, he thought after his session with Maxine but as sincere as he could make it. He took the red wine bottle and placed in a cupboard under the sink to avoid it prompting any more awkward questions. As he sttod up from the sink, he heard an unfamiliar mobile phone ringing. It was coming from the bedroom.
“Strange noise,” said Angie, rousing from her brief nap, “I’ll get it.” As he rushed from the kitchen Chico knew that Angie would beat him to the bedroom door. She entered and located the phone.
“I don’t recognize this phone, do you?’ she asked. Chico shook his head, aware that beads of sweat were forming above his eyes.
“Hello,” asked Angie.
“Is that Maxine?” asked a voice on the other end.
“No, it’s not. I think you’ve got the wrong number…….or I’ve got the wrong phone.” She looked at Chico with question marks all over her expressions. He shook his head, shrugged his shoulders and tried to take the phone away from Angie.
“I’m her father. John Webb. Who is this?”
“Oh, I’m her neighbour. She must have left the phone here the last time she visited.” Pennies were dropping all around Angie’s suspicious mind.
“Well, when you return the phone, tell her I called and ask her to give me a ring when she’s got a minute, if that’s okay.”
“I will Mr Webb. I will. Bye.” Angie pressed the off button, looked at Chico and threw the phone at him with all the force of an old-time thief hurling a brick at a jewellery shop window. It hit him on the nose.
“How many times?” shouted Angie. “How many times?” Chico emerged from the bedroom with blood oozing from his nostrils. He looked close to tears.
“Just one time, baby,” he blurted, hands held out in a begging pose. Angie waved him away.
“Don’t call me baby, you bloody toerag.” She picked up several magazines and threw them at him. They scattered on the floor.
“When?” Angie squared up to Chico, about a foot from him. He could smell her perfume, one of his favourites. When he failed to answer, she slapped him so hard that he fell over the coffee table, almost flying, before landing against a wall. “When?” she repeated. Chico rearranged himself and sat on the floor.
“Today,” he whimpered, “while you were at the spa. She knocked the door. I had just come out of the shower and one thing lead to another.”
“How many other times? How many other women?”
“I..it..it was just her, the once, only her, only her.” Chico’s head was bowed so low it was as if he’d broken his neck.
“Pah,” sneered Angie. She picked up two oranges from the fruit bowl and threw them in Chico’s direction. One hit him in the chest, the other bounced off the wall.
“I’m sorry,” Chico sniveled, “I’m really sorry.” Angie maintained the sneer as she looked at him.
“Get out of my sight,” she bellowed. “I’m not ready to forgive and forget. But I might need you for something later.” Chico perked up a little and tried to feign a twinkling eye.
“Not that, baby,” smirked Angie, “the bedroom is out of bounds for you until I decide otherwise. No, I might need you to move my plan to the next stage.” Chico dabbed his nose.
“Do you think it’s broken?” he asked like a toddler after a tumble.
“Not until I say so,” said Angie as she glided off to the bedroom.
“What do you want me to do?” asked Chico, standing up unsteadily and checking his shirt for bloodstains.
“Just stay out of my way for a while. When I want you, I’ll whistle.” She came out of the bedroom. “Right now, I’m going to return this phone to the little madam upstairs.” Chico stood in the furthest corner of the room away from Angie and nodded.
A few minutes later, she was banging on the students’ flat door and shouting at the top of her voice.
“Come on out Maxine dear. I’ve got a few things to say to you. Come on, come on, get your arse out here.”
“What the hell is all that noise?” Jonathan’s head was poking out from his front door. “Angie, what on earth is going on?” At that moment, Matt and Cass appeared at the top of the stairs.
“What’s up?” asked Matt. Jonathan detected some distress in Cass’s face.
“Where is she? Where’s this Maxine tart?” growled Angie. Matt and Cass looked at each other.
“She’s not here,” said Cass, “can we help?” Angie squared up to Cass.
“It’s her I want. It’s the little whore I want.” Cass pushed Angie away.
“Are you okay?” asked Jonathan. Cass glanced at him briefly and swallowed hard.
“Get out of my face. I’m in no mood for stupid people,” said Cass sternly to Angie.
“Where is Maxine?” Angie was screaming. Matt stepped forward.
“She’s in intensive care.”