Excerpt from Small Town Nocturne - the hook      Home  

I jumped up and looked at my watch, ‘Bugger, see you in the morning.’

An appointment to keep with my doctor. Of course, I needn’t have worried, surgery running its customary forty minutes late. I sighed and sat down in amongst the sick and the lame. I felt the woman’s presence close by immediately, nothing like the one that I’d followed a few days previously. This woman was different and I peeped over the top of my three year old Country Life, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She had a four year old girl on her lap, one that swung her legs freely as she stared up at the adults surrounding her. The child looked intently at me and I gazed at her mother and experienced that first judder of excitement.

A doctor’s surgery was an incongruous place to meet a stunning looking woman, not the more usual bar or night club. Sat in the doctor’s surgery, me waiting for more knee surgery, sat huddled amongst the sick, the impoverished and the hypochondriacs. People sneezing and coughing, despite the sunshine outside. I nodded to the many people that I knew. Exchanged the usual pleasantries, how are you? Very well thanks, Empathetic feelings with fellow sufferers, like sat in a social club or more appropriately, a day centre.

I sighed, a deep, shoulder heaving sigh. Why do we do it? I didn’t think that I was emotionally weak like a lot of men; I did like to indulge myself however and be close to members of the opposite sex. It doesn’t mean that there was anything going on, just the proximity did it for me. I’d been married for twelve years and I always told my wife about my encounters. Whenever I bumped into other women, I told Kathy what we talked about, how they looked. I always noticed an attractive woman; I’m no different to most men in that respect. More importantly Kathy knew that I was safe and didn’t mess about.

Although the woman sat opposite might be a different proposition, with the daughter perched on her lap, both with jet black hair, olive skin and the darkest of dark green eyes. The child’s eyes remained locked into mine and she smiled before saying, ‘I’ve got a bad eye.’

I leant forwards and gave her the most solemn of replies, ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’

She pointed a stubby little finger my way, ‘What’s up with you?’ The child tipped her head to one side and gazed up at me.

‘I’m so sorry.’ The woman whispered as though an apology should be a prerequisite in these situations. Not embarrassed however, but her eyes betrayed fatigue somehow and they fluttered down to the floor to avoid mine. I couldn’t help but notice her mouth; someone knew how to apply a deep red lipstick to those full, sensuous lips. She whispered into her daughter’s ear and the child looked at me as the instructions kept coming.

Then I experienced the second judder of anticipation, her voice so deep and throaty. I couldn’t get the image of those full lips whispering into my ear in that sexy voice. Did she smoke too much? Was she a jazz singer in some dingy little late night blues club? That might explain the tired eyes, but such an unlikely enough reason that it made me smile. The woman smiled back at me, just enough to expose small, even white teeth. Then the next judder as I imagined her in the throes of orgasmic delight, lips stretched back exposing not only her teeth, but soft pink of her gums as well.

She glanced around the room, probably anxious to avoid the village idiot’s stare that I fixed on her face. Chiselled cheekbones, strong jaw, thick black hair held up with two hair clips, pulling her hair away from the face making her look like a flamenco dancer. A passionate Carmen, her ethnicity Mediterranean surely with that skin colouring?  Her obvious affluence and self-assurance meant that she was a woman comfortable in the plush surrounds of somewhere like the Savoy, directing the porters, sending them this way and that with her luggage. This woman exuded money, not like the usual dark skinned scrubber always out prowl in town. Wearing the customary denim mini skirt and white high heels, looking for a casual fuck. This woman had another tale to tell and I felt that instant urge to know the story behind this face of a stranger. Was I wrong to feel like this? Wrong to need the story behind her exhausted splendour?

I shook my head, looked away although she never appeared suspicious at this impulsive consideration from a stranger. I glanced down to my Country Life all the time speculating on how such a splendid woman had become so exhausted. Was this tiredness caused by hurt inside? In her late twenties, she twisted away at her wedding ring. A pretty obvious signal sent my way to halt my musings and my staring.

Being married struck me as a desecration somehow; I didn’t want her to be emotionally and financially dependent on a husband. Although she gave off the impression of being unloved and uncared for. After all great beauty was neither a guarantee or a qualification for love and contentment. Was I way off the mark? Quite likely, my assumptions over the years were generally off target, why should this one be any different?

The child spoke to me again, ‘My eye hurts.’

‘Are you seeing the doctor?’

She nodded, ‘It got bad on holiday.’

‘Conjunctivitis?’ I said this to the woman. ‘You’ll be next.’

‘Spoken like a man with children.’ She sighed, the merest phantom of a smile, ‘On holiday, we only got back this morning, Spanish doctors missed it yesterday and now…’


There goes one assumption, colouring courtesy of a hot sun, not as I wanted to believe. It made me laugh, ‘I thought you were Italian, both of you look so Mediterranean.’

She tipped her head a touch, mirroring her daughter’s gesture of a few minutes ago, ‘It’s dangerous to make assumptions.’

But the inflexion she put on the words avoided any humour or tease, just a self-assured statement. I smiled and nodded my head as if in confirmation. Despite my assumptions about her ethnicity disappearing in a puff of smoke, my original feeling about exhaustion and being unloved held true. I pondered more, the clear enunciation an indication of a good education, the clothes a signal of a healthy bank balance. The sort of woman that I had never become involved with.

Perhaps that was another hook somehow?

I heard a name being called and the woman stood, gathered her daughter’s hand in one hand and her crocodile skinned, Gucci handbag in the other. I jumped up, feeling the immediate and unfathomable worry that I would never see her again.

‘Just a second.’

‘Yes.’ Spoken in this beautiful, self-possessed voice.

‘Take my card.’ She frowned, I ploughed on. ‘I work for the local paper, don’t worry, I hand them out to everyone in town.’

They turned and slowly walked away from me. One tall and statuesque, the other with one arm up at forty five degrees holding onto her mother’s hand. The shorter one toddled on small legs, the other glided like a panther. I experienced something close to collapse, emotional burnout from a woman I had been sat next to for barely ten minutes. The woman turned back looked through the door’s glass window, she stared my way, her sensuous lips pressed together, her expression giving me nothing.

All the way home I thought about this dark haired woman as I walked through my front door, fantasised about the dark eyes and the full lips. Two of my children shouted their greetings from the sofa as they watched the television. My four year old daughter rushed up to me, fair skinned, blonde and blue eyed. The opposite of the woman I’d been thinking of.