Dan pulled a chair up to the window, sat down for the thousandth time and stared straight ahead, at the building directly across. The window was old fashioned, long, with an inside ledge it was possible to sit on. The window overlooked a large part of the town but not quite to the harbour.
Dan got up, cursing, knowing he’d forgotten something. He returned after a quick run downstairs to the kitchen and sat back down and cracked open his beer. He took a long slurp and made the noise of a thirst quenched, burped loudly and proudly and sat the beer on the chest of drawers next to him. With a swift motion of his arm, he picked up the binoculars, untangled the leather carrying strap and put them up to his eyes.
He felt. like he was some general on a hill surveying the battlefield below. As he looked around he read out instructions in his head, “mortar, no. 19 hill street.” He focused on that area with the binoculars and imagined it blowing up, killing the innocent family inside. “That’ll teach those bastards,” he thought, “for not accepting my quote.” “There’s a man walking his dog in the woods, I can see ya, you goddamn spy,” suddenly the woods were aflame with napalm and the man was dead in Dan’s eyes.
As the sun faded from the sky and grey clouds moved over the light began to fail. This was the time Dan liked best. Now the explosions of bombs were far more exciting and they lit up the night sky for brief moments like lightning flashes from a wild and vivid thunderstorm. Of course, as soon as he put the binoculars down everything was normal, but Dan enjoyed these couple of hours of using his imagination. Sometimes, though not very often, he would miss some TV to do this. Dan got most of his ideas from the tube. Tonight he got bored quite quickly and stopped his observations when he’d finished his second beer. He went downstairs feeling slightly disappointed, grabbed another beer from the fridge and sat down in his chair to watch TV for the rest of the night. Kelly knew not to say anything to him.
Kelly went into the kitchen wishing she had someone to talk to. She turned on the radio, it seemed like her only friend on nights Iike this. Sometimes the cheerful songs picked her up but tonight they had the opposite effect. She sensed Dan’s mood and kept the volume down, this simple little restriction frustrating her more. She felt like she was tip-toeing through a mine field. She pulled a chilled bottle of sweet white wine from the fridge and poured herself another glass. She could feel herself getting slowly drunk already.
Kelly looked through the kitchen window into the blackness of the night, pondering her situation for the thousandth time. She still loved Dan a hell of a lot despite the way he treated her. She did feel a barrier between them and wished for something to bring them together. She walked back through to the living room and sat down adjacent to Dan in front of the TV. She set the bottle of wine down beside her, now half empty and warming up. It was her only cure.
They barely passed polite conversation about the usual run of soaps but when it came to the news Dan became very vociferous in his opinions. He spoke in a tone that denied reply. Though he sat quietly through the images of war beamed into their living room from around the world he haboured a desire to be there. Not a secret desire either. Kelly would nod and agree with everything Dan said not wishing to cause any friction. It was easier that Dan’s opinion was her opinion and she ended up believing it.
Time passed slowly, Kelly now on her third bottle of wine. She was feeling very drunk despite her system being used to the intake. It wasn’t a happy drunk but morose and sombre, a blanking out of desire and feelings.
When they went to bed they slept in foetal positions, Kelly tucked up behind Dan, holding on. Alcohol assured them instant lapse into unconsciousness.
When day dawned the sun shone across the city. Dan woke alone, Kelly already in the kitchen making breakfast. He sat up and yawned then got up and stretched shaking off the night. He walked towards the window, moved in front of the chair and looked out like he was a god surveying his creation. Suddenly aware of his nakedness he backed away and pulled on some shorts returning for one more shot of sunshine glory he saw a figure in a window a couple of streets away. In the brief moment that he was looking he could tell it was a woman’s figure. He wondered if she might’ve seen him naked at the window and wasn’t sure whether to blush or be proud. He quickly forgot about the incident but did make a mental note to look there that evening.
Dan turned and picked up the empty beer cans and dropped them into the waste. He went downstairs where he could hear and smell cooking going on. As he entered the kitchen they exchanged pleasantries, the sun bringing out a subconscious optimism in them both. For the first time in a while, Dan noticed how pretty Kelly looked, the sun illuminating her hair like a halo, as it streamed in through the kitchen window. He made the effort to pass comment on this, which brought a big smile to Kelly’s face. Just that one simple comment made her feel a whole lot better about herself.
Dan kissed Kelly on the cheek as he left, feeling rejuvenated, feeling like something good was going to happen to them. Kelly too felt a whole lot better and decided to spend a few hours walking in the park, thinking of ways of improving her relationship with Dan.
Dan was a painter and decorator by profession, he wasn’t a particularly good one but there was enough work to keep them going. It paid the bills and paid the mortgage and gave them a roof over their heads. That morning he was painting the hallway of some middle-class suburban house, not too dissimilar to their own. His mind wasn’t on his work, he was thinking about his wife and his future. He decided that he would take some flowers home that evening, foregoing his usual lunchtime drinks in the pub. He did still feel some attachment to his wife despite the loss of their baby.
The married couple
The spied couple
Character one. The married man. Dan.
Dark, broody, well built, slightly unbalanced (have to demonstrate this in some way) macho but developing toward feminism i.e., not a total asshole, short hair not meticulous in appearance though can be when trying, enjoys rough things like slight interest in guns and knives, patriotic, believes what the papers say, hard-working, painter and decorator (enjoys his ability to go into other people houses, feels like spying), age 28, likes packet food or traditional food, interested in more extravagant food, kind of scared of trying new things, hobbies, not much, though did enjoy making rabbit hutch for sister’s son, has to be asked to do things like that, not much get up and go, a lot of time spent watching tv and videos, enjoys suspense thrillers, gets a kick out of people being frightened by a killer etc in a film.
Character two. The married woman. Ke11y.
Rather quiet, not opinionated though would like to be sometimes, overwhelmed by Dan’s loudness sometimes, medium height and build, dark. hair, pretty on occasion though bland otherwise, average dress though well dressed when going out, only goes out with Dan, most friends are mutual though Dan takes control most of the time (could possibly introduce one of their friends into the story too), she likes to drink fairly often more so than Dan, she likes to keep Dan happy, she had a distraught childhood, parents divorcing, stepdad nasty, somewhat insecure, she is presently unemployed.
Got married after she found she was pregnant but lost baby soon afterwards, he has held it against her secretly, he promises to start a family but keeps her hanging on cos he doesn’t actually want to at all, in some ways he feels trapped, he wanted to get married for the child’s sake and now would prefer to be single again, they bought a house in a residential area, on a slight hill, overlooking other houses but some wooded areas close by, he always wanted his own home so is quite happy with that, though not wealthy they can afford to live comfortably.
3rd Apr 2021 – I’m guessing I wrote this sometime in early 1995. I think I had some more ideas about where this story might go but obviously never got back to it. Dan and Kelly are lightly based on a couple that Bronwyn and I lived with. Even though this part of the story ends quite upbeat it still feels really dark to me – I know it wasn’t going to end happily and it brings back immediate visions of English streets for me. Feel free to have a go at continuing the story in the comments!