The not so secret emails.., p.12
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       The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard (A Romantic Comedy), p.12
 

           Robert Bryndza
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  “I did too,” she said wistfully. “But don’t you worry. He gonna be just peachy with a momma like you.” A BMW came roaring into the car park and tooted its horn.

  “I gotta run,’’ she said checking her huge beehive in a tiny mirror. “Thanks for the smokes Cokes.”

  “That’s what my friends call me,” I said. We hugged. Then she was gone, running admirably down the stairs in six-inch heels and into the car. I never saw who was inside. The windows were blacked out.

  Friday 1st May 13:03

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  There was a knock on our door at nine this morning. I thought it would be the Mandarin cleaner turfing us out. She had been banging on doors and pulling drunks out since seven. When I opened the door, stood on the communal walkway, zipped up in his finest daywear was Chris! I screamed and launched myself on him in a big hug. He glanced over my shoulder at an old guy in a cowboy hat sleeping in the next doorway.

  “I have a cab with the engine running, let’s get you out of here.” It took us about three-seconds to pack. In the cab, Rosencrantz just stared out of the window bleakly, but I couldn’t contain myself.

  “How did you find us?’’ I said hugging him again. He told me he had spoken to Tammy, from the Bail Bond Company.

  “You’re both to stop worrying,” he said. “I think I have a way to get us all out of the country safely.”

  “I can’t believe you’re here,” I said. “I won’t forget this.”

  “I had air miles… and my life needs some excitement,” he said embarrassed. I jabbered away, not taking much notice as our surroundings changed, until I saw the taxi approach the Chateau Marmont Hotel. It looked like a fairy tale castle, or, Chateau; whiter than the whitest American teeth with little turrets and arched windows.

  “No way,” said Rosencrantz. “This is like the coolest hotel in Hollywood!”

  “My Mother had an old voucher she didn’t need,” said Chris.

  “My Mother used to give me Green Shield stamps.’’ I said.

  “I see it as compensation. You’ve met my monster of a Mother.’’

  It was so wonderful to be in a clean room after days of smelly motels. Rosencrantz and me had a twin; Chris had booked himself the room next to ours, with an interconnecting door. He buzzed around, tipping the Bellboy who only really had my Teflon suit to bring up, and ordered us breakfast. Rosencrantz didn’t take much notice of our surroundings and just sat on the bed and clicked on the television.

  “You fancy going for a look round?” said Chris to Rosencrantz handing him twenty dollars.

  “Um, like, okay,” said Rosencrantz, and slunk out of the door. Chris poured us both vodka from the mini bar.

  “That was the most he has spoken in days,” I said. “He’s been listless. Well, you know from all my emails.”

  “I’ve got a plan,” sai

  Monday 4th May 11:56

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Sorry hun. My phone battery died as I was writing my last email. It’s all over. We are just in the Virgin Lounge at LAX waiting for our flight home. They have lent me a phone charger. This is what happened. As you know Chris is Rosencrantz’s Godfather, what you wouldn’t have known, along with me, is that every Godchild in Chris’ family is left fifty-thousand pounds in the Godparent’s Will. He explained that it’s Cheshire family policy, mainly to assist in tax avoidance. His father actively encourages Chris and his siblings to be Godparents.

  “Not that I did it for that,” Chris added. He went on to say that he had looked into our Lawyer, Gregory Kaplan and that he is a big charity giver, especially when his clients need to get off drug charges, and all donations are put through Gregory Kaplan Associates. It’s legal, but it makes him look like he runs a highly philanthropic firm.

  “This is good for him because he is planning to run as a Senator next year,” finished Chris, sitting back triumphantly with his vodka.

  “I don’t get it,” I said.

  “Gregory Kaplan will be keen to make sure Rosencrantz’s case is steered toward a sympathetic Judge,’’ said Chris. “When he hears that Rosencrantz is donating seventy- five thousand dollars to a drugs charity.”

  “Seventy- five thousand!”

  “Yes,” said Chris. “We tell Gregory that if he doesn’t get the hearing scheduled a.s.a.p, well, some other Lawyer gets the case… And the donation.” He looked at my face.

  “Coco, this money goes to Rosencrantz, whatever. Instead of waiting until I die why not put it to use now? If he gets sent to jail, it could destroy his life.” It didn’t take me long to agree. Chris picked up the phone and dialled Gregory Kaplan Associates. Within seconds, Gregory was on the phone and within seconds, he was gone.

  “What did he say?”

  “He said he’ll ‘make it happen.’” We had barely topped up our quivering vodkas when Gregory rang back. He had scheduled a hearing for nine on Monday morning.

  We spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday relaxing, as much as we could. The Chateau Marmont is very low key, old Hollywood/ Film Noir. Lots of leather arm chairs, wooden floors, and ceiling fans. We lay by the pool, drank cocktails, and ate some truly delicious food, but none of us slept soundly and it all went by with a ceiling of dread. The court case could have technically gone either way.

  However, this morning we were barely in the courtroom for ten minutes. A stern but disinterested female Judge heard the case and ordered that Rosencrantz pay $75,000 to the Winding Pathways Drug Treatment Centre, $2,000 to the State of California and that he had to leave American soil by 6pm.

  We shook hands with Gregory on our way out, an entourage of assistants, mostly young women of attributes surrounded his blindingly white smile, and he presented us with our bill for five thousand dollars. I paid it and we got into a cab. I was glad to leave. It all felt very, very grubby. What about the poor kids who don’t have money?

  I am relieved, but I don’t know how to deal with Rosencrantz? Do I need to dole out some punishment? He looks like he has suffered enough. I was caught smoking weed when I was fifteen behind our shop by my Dad. I was lucky enough just to be walloped with his slipper.

  We’re about to board. Cannot wait to be home. Looking forward to seeing you.

  Coco xxx

  Tuesday 5th May 02:14

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Just sorted through a pile of post and found my decree nisi.

  I am divorced.

  Tuesday 5th May 17:56

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I was asleep on the downstairs sofa, when the bell woke me. I staggered up and opened the front door. Meryl was standing there with Ethel.

  “Oh there you are Coco,” she said, as if she’d been searching the doorstep for hours.

  “As you haven’t answered any of my messages, I thought I would bring Mohammed to the mountain. Not that you look like a mountain,” she added quickly.

  “Looks like she’s lost a bit of weight,” said Ethel peering at me with a surprised look on her face.

  Meryl pushed past clutching her driving gloves with Ethel in tow. I was left to bring in her suitcase.

  I followed them into the living room where Meryl was poking around the wilted plant pots and Ethel was sat trying to make the television work.

  “What are you doing?” I said.

  “I told Christopher to come over every day and water,” said Meryl, yanking the head off a dead Amaryllis. “How was America?” she breezed as if I’d been on holiday. “Daniel told me all about Rosencrantz, what a scamp!”

  “Why ‘int yer Sky box plugged in?” said Ethel, jabbing at the buttons with a dismayed face. “You’ve wiped everything!”

  “Oh Coco,” said Meryl, “she’s been looking forward to Celebrity Wife Swap all week.” I asked why she’d brought Ethel back.

  “Now come on Coco, be fair,” said Meryl in a condescending tone. “We’ve all got to pull our weight.”

  I explained, as nicely as
I could, that I am barely home myself, and I’ve already pulled my weight, looking after her for two months.

  “Her? “ said Ethel, looking up from the leads at the back of the television. “What am I? Chopped liver?”

  “Look,” said Meryl grabbing Ethel and planting her back on the sofa. “She’s settled here.”

  “No,” I said, helping Ethel up. “She’s been settled at yours for two weeks.”

  “Exactly,” said Meryl pushing Ethel back down. “Coco you have a responsibility too. We’ve driven all this way.”

  “And an ‘ole series of Watercolour Challenge has gone down the tubes too,” said Ethel jabbing the remote again. They both looked at me as if I had done something terrible.

  “GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!” I shouted. Meryl’s mouth opened and closed, Ethel looked at me for a moment and then tried to get the batteries out of the remote. Rosencrantz stumbled in wearing his pyjamas with his hair on end.

  “Is everything all right?” He said. “I like heard some fucking mad woman screaming.”

  “Could we watch the toilet language, thank you Rosencrantz,” said Meryl. “Come on,” she said, prizing the remote out of Ethel’s grip. “I don’t think Coco’s very well.”

  “I’m fine!” I said catching sight of my mad hair and knackered face in the mirror, “I just object to … I’m tired and, Meryl. If you were Indian, you wouldn’t object to caring for your own Mother.”

  “I’ve never heard anything so silly,” said Meryl. “I think you need some rest.”

  She strode out of the door pulling along Ethel and the suitcase. I sat on the sofa as I heard the engine rev up and the Hearse pull away. Rosencrantz sat down and asked if I was okay. I shrugged.

  “I just like, played the answer-phone messages,” he said. “There were five from Auntie Meryl, and one from your new Agent, Angie. She’s reminding you about some deadline tomorrow.”

  My book outline is due tomorrow and I had completely forgotten about it! The reason we have no television is that the electricity has been cut off. Daniel has stopped all our direct debits. Chris, ever the saviour has come to the rescue again and offered me bed and Motherboard. I am tapping away frantically on my laptop in his spare room.

  Wednesday 6th May 09:01

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Just home. Just sent outline to Angie. I am worried. I did rather pull it out of my arse at the last minute, well 4.15 this morning. Got sidetracked watching Battlestar Galactica with Chris, hence it ended up having a science fiction theme.

  Rosencrantz has paid the electricity bill from his own money and left me a lovely note saying how he wants to make me proud and he is turning over a new leaf.

  I’m off to bed. Love you.

  Wednesday 6th May 17:46

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Was up at 2pm woken by the doorbell, I had fallen asleep on the sofa in my coat and shoes. Outside was a horsey woman in her sixties wearing dungarees.

  “Ah you’re ready,” she said. “Good girl. Come on.” I stared at her for a moment.

  “Come along,” she said. “I haven’t got all afternoon.”

  I followed her out shutting the door behind me. I am not sure why. Luckily, I twigged half way down the road that this was the meeting I had arranged in April about having an Allotment, and the woman must be Agatha Balfour of the Augustine and Redhill Allotment Association.

  Did you know that hidden away from the bustle of London, there is a whole group of little Allotments, just past the Outer Circle of Regents Park? Thirty long plots surrounded by tall trees and populated by a load of wild haired old men digging in trousers held up by string. I couldn’t work out where they’d come from. I had never seen them before. The streets around here are full of tourists, businessmen, and alpha mother’s power-pramming.

  As Agatha strode ahead up the hill, I struggled to keep up. My heels kept sinking in the soft earth. A few of the old men stopped gardening to stare at me in my floor length fake cow hide coat, and a couple made mooing noises. I caught up with Agatha standing on the brow of the hill. The land sloped away showing off a wonderful view over Regents Park, the lake, and metropolis beyond.

  “Wow,” I said out of breath.

  “Yes,” she said, “and your patch looks over it.” She indicated an overgrown strip of soil with a yellow shed at the end.

  “Right. Tea,” she said bustling toward the shed, pulling a key out of her overalls, and inserting it in the lock.

  Inside it has been beautifully kept, with neat wooden shelves. In one corner were two fading deck chairs and a little table. On the workbench in front of the window sat an old Paraffin Stove and lots of clay flowerpots.

  “Now,” said Agatha handing me a little kettle. “Water.” I looked for a tap but she rolled her eyes. “Water Butt, outside.”

  Whilst I filled the kettle, I looked at the Allotment next door. It was well tended with a smart shed, but the best feature was its Scarecrow.

  A dressmaker’s mannequin was buried in the earth up to its knees. Stuck on its head was a black beehive wig and glued underneath was a cut-out of Amy Winehouse’s face.

  When I came back Agatha had lit the stove and there was a warm smell of paraffin and used matches.

  “I like the scarecrow next door,” I said. Agatha produced milk and digestive biscuits out of her dungaree pockets.

  “Yes, Terrifies the birds nicely,” she said. I said it really captured Amy Winehouse.

  “Who?” said Agatha. I explained who Amy Winehouse was. Agatha’s face clouded over.

  “That doesn’t sound very appropriate,” she snorted.

  “Well, you didn’t know who she was until just now,” I said. “It’s funny, ironic.”

  “Hmm,” she said. There was a pause. Agatha gulped her tea and took out some paperwork. It was a contract, which she asked me to sign.

  “I’m very glad this patch is going to someone younger,” she said. “Old Mr. Bevan found it all too much in the end.”

  “Was he ill for long before he died?” I said.

  “No, it was all quite sudden,” she said. “He’d only just been saying to me, that morning, that he was trying to get on top of the weeds, and ironically, he did. Keeled over just beside the shed. You can still see that little flat patch where they found him, still clutching his hoe.” I looked through the window and saw where the long grass was bent round in a small body shape.

  “Right,” said Agatha. “That’s us done,” she gathered up the milk and biscuits, and handed me the key. “Happy gardening.”

  I only stayed for ten minutes after she had gone. I don’t have a clue about gardening and I was so Jet lagged that my mind began to play tricks. Amy Winehouse was being buffeted by the wind and she looked like she was eyeballing me, and the thought of Mr. Bevan lying dead outside gave me the shivers. What will I do with an Allotment?

  When I got home, I had a text from Angie at BMX. It just said;

  Pls. cum 2 my office 4 meet tmrw @ 9am.

  I am looking back over my proposal. What was I thinking?

  Wednesday 6th May 23:48

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I can’t sleep, it’s dark and a little cold, but my body is still on LA time and ready to eat a nice lunch. Marika came over tonight, she is very unhappy. She has just been turned down for a Key Worker Mortgage because she has never taken UK Citizenship, even though she has paid fifteen years of Income Tax and National Insurance here. She wants to buy her flat in Dulwich from her Landlord who is selling.

  “I’m going to have to bite the bullet and move further out,” she said with a shudder. I offered her a room here, but to get to Dulwch by 7.45am she would have to deal with The Tube/Overland and a bus five days a week. It’s a shame, as I used to love it when she was our lodger.

  In other news… Rosencrantz went back to The Dramatic Movement Conservatoire today, and found that no one had really noticed his absence. Artemis Wise was picked up in Calais trying to
board a ferry and is now in custody. There is a witch-hunt on as to who knew about his embezzlement. Rosencrantz quite innocently asked his singing teacher if she could give him an update on what he has missed, (in class) but she got very flustered and dropped a Metronome on her foot.

  Anyway, you are probably fast asleep. I should have taken some of those Melatonin pills you offered to get my body clock back on track.

  Thursday 7th May 11.04

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  After only an hour of sleep I had to get up for my meeting with Angie. When I arrived at her office, she was on the phone and motioned me to sit.

  “Listen,” she said. “You shouldn’t have signed the bloody contract if you knew he had commitments with the Cub Scouts!” she slammed the phone down.

  “Bad day?” I said.

  “What’s that phrase?” She said leaning forward to light my cigarette. “Never work with children or animals? It should be never work with parents. One of my new authors, who’s seven, is writing a book on Higher Mathematics … Autistic as hell, but a nice kid, however the Mother. Ugh… Anyway,” she said. “We’re here to talk about your book proposal; ‘Greg-O-Byte: Some Androids Are Different,’” she looked at me and raised her eyebrows. I explained that it might be a little radical, especially as a children’s book.

  “I know you wanted Literary Fiction,’’ I said. “However, I thought if kids could read about being gay, under the euphemism of being a robot, not fitting in. My son is gay and I think, well, I am proud of my reaction to him telling me,” I gabbled. “I’m sorry if it’s not marketable.”

  “Not marketable? You’re kidding?” she said, her face lighting up. “It’s fucking brilliant. We love it. Funny, fresh, fucking great.”

  “Really?” I said. Angie pressed a button on her desk,

  “Celia, tell Coco what you thought of her idea.”

  “Fucking brilliant,” came the voice through back the intercom.

  “See,” said Angie.

  “But it’s a kids book?”

  “Kids is a great market to tap, all those little fuckers with pocket money and pester power. Do you know how much the Tooth Fairy pays these days?”

 
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