Friday 19 December 2014

Day 19: Someone Like You by William Wilson

When I saw him he was standing smack in the middle of the grand foyer of The Plaza, shoulders hunched like a bear as he tapped on his Blackberry. Other hotel guests, celebrities, politicians, high class call girls, bellboys and porters jostled round him like flotsam swirling round a rock. It was five years since I'd last seen him. He looked up from his phone, raised a hand to stop my advance.
"Just a minute," he said, and finished his email, then threw a heavy arm around my shoulders.
"Phil, thanks for coming old mate."
His accent had changed, now a strange mix of Scottish and South African, but you still had to wait for him to finish whatever he was doing before you got his attention and then the same affectionate familiarity. He looked tanned and prosperous but different somehow, older.
"Thanks for inviting me." I responded.
His big frame was bunched up in a coat.
"I thought we were eating here," I said, "Are we going out?"
"They're keeping me a table here, but I thought we could have a walk before dinner. Is that OK? I need some air."
We headed across the road and down the steps to the beach. It was cold and starting to rain. Hunched up against the wind and with the sea crashing over the shingle it was difficult to hear each other speak. He was staying at The Plaza overnight, thought he'd "look up an old mate."
I let his bonhomie wash over me. Living on my own and short of company I'd jumped at the chance re-living the good times, even if only for an evening. Campbell and I had worked together for nearly twenty years back in the '70s and '80's. I'd had to save his skin on many an occasion.
We had reached the steps by the pier.
"Come on," he said, "let's get out of the rain. I could do with a drink." And he hustled us along the boardwalk and into a great barn of a place, strobing lights, a smell of beer, sweat, cheap perfume.
"Hey, this is something, isn't it?" he shouted above the noise.
A fat blond woman in gold heels and a shiny red evening dress was crooning lustily into the microphone.  Sweat stained her armpits.
Campbell banged me on the back. "What's your poison nowadays? Don't tell me it's still Campari soda."
"I'll have a small lager thanks." 
The carpets stank. Campbell ordered a pint and a whisky chaser for himself. He'd commandeered a small table beside the stage steps. He took off his coat to reveal a fine Italian suit, crisp white shirt open at the neck, gold cufflinks. His shaved head glistened beneath the disco lights. He gulped back his beer. His bulk swamped the chair as he leaned backwards to take in the stage. The fat woman had removed her dress to loud jeers revealing lacy underwear and fishnet tights. As she left the stage Campbell grabbed one cheek of her backside. She gave a little gasp, looked down at him, liked what she saw.

About the author:
William Wilson pursued a business career until 2003 when he decided to go travelling and then to take a BA Fine Art degree course. He graduated from Brighton University in 2010. After spending a few years painting he took up creative writing and is on a two year Creative Writing Course with New Writing South. He is married, with two daughters, and lives in Hove.



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