The not so secret emails.., p.17
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       The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard (A Romantic Comedy), p.17

           Robert Bryndza
 
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  I said I didn’t and she rung off. Whilst I was on the phone, Rosencrantz had gulped down a whole pot of coffee and was leaving the house with bloodshot eyes and a silver left hand. He had hacked the end off one of my long silver evening gloves. Not that I can see myself ever wearing them again, unless I am transported back to the eighties, but he could have asked.

  Could Adam be grief stricken like Rosencrantz? Will he still want to go on a date? You just can’t tell with people these days, I remember Ethel’s histrionics when Diana died, and she is a Republican.

  Would it seem insensitive to phone and check if the musical is on? If not is your friend still in The Lion King? Could he wangle some back-up tickets?

  Friday 26th June 09:33

  TO: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  Are you okay? Your reaction to the death of Michael Jackson seems to be without proportion to how it really affects your life. Is this because I am going on a date? Or are you working too much? You haven’t been yourself for ages. Please, let’s have a chat later.

  Mum x

  Saturday 27th June 11:36

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Are you still asleep? You’re not answering your phone. Marika is here and has heard all the gossip.

  Adam phoned, just after lunch on Friday. He is not a Secret Agent; he works in Health and Safety for the Civil Service. He only received my email on Friday morning. The Civil Service’s Anti-Terrorist screening software had intercepted it, because I had written the word ‘bomb’ to describe the special effects in Thriller: Live!

  It just goes to show, the government is right. Terrorism affects society as a whole, even arranging a date.

  Thriller: Live! was going ahead so he suggested we met for a drink before.

  I was beyond nervous. We met half an hour before the show at the Gin Bar near Embankment tube. I dressed in black to be safe, but instantly regretted it. Adam had his work suit on and was nervous too. I kept asking him questions when there was a silence, so it felt like I was interviewing him for a job.

  I did find out that he is also divorced, he married Holly’s mother when they were sixteen, but he found her in bed with another woman, so we do have something in common. It’s just a shame we spent what little time we had filling each other in on the baggage of our previous relationships.

  The theatre was manic when we arrived. Hysterical Michael Jackson fans with candles, and pictures of the King Of Pop stood vigil outside, and several Television crews were filming.

  The show was great, but it was three hours long. Then there were speeches and a minute’s silence at the end so when it finished it was very late. We only had five minutes to talk in the taxi on the way home.

  I stupidly set the conversation to small talk, by asking him what he was up to tomorrow at work. Ugh! I also chickened out about inviting him in. When the taxi pulled up at my place, I thanked him, we said goodnight and he was gone.

  It feels like I am back to square one.

  Sunday 28th June 12:30

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I just had a phone call from Daniel. He saw me on CNN News, outside the theatre going to watch Thriller: Live! Holding hands with a tall handsome black guy.

  “Who is he?” Daniel demanded. I said it was none of his business.

  “I don’t like it!” He said petulantly. “Turning on my TV and seeing you cavorting with some hunk! It put me off my egg white omelette!”

  I said I wasn’t cavorting. I was walking into the theatre.

  “Anyway, you’ve got a girlfriend,” I added.

  “Not anymore,” he said. Apparently Kendal’s religious beliefs came between them, she is a Scientologist. He refused to be hooked up to an E-Meter and be de-programmed, so she dumped him. I laughed.

  “What’s funny?”

  “Oh the egg white omelette, the Scientologist girlfriend. You’re living the American dream.”

  “I miss…things,” he said. “I miss you.”

  “No, you don’t.” I said. “You’ve hit a bump in the road, and seen me moving on. You’re jealous.”

  He asked all about Adam, what he does, and if I had slept with him. I told him where to stick his egg-white omelette. It was quite a nice feeling, after I put the phone down.

  Rosencrantz is still on the sofa, still intercepting the post and not talking. I managed to get him to eat some super noodles.

  Tuesday 30th June 10:18

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I had a horrible shock this morning. I was finishing my toast when there was a knock at the door. I opened it and there stood Christian! He was dressed in his emerald green suit. A tiny trilby with a Mallard feather was perched on his head. His handsome face was set into an odd look of fear and pity.

  “You’ve got a nerve showing your face on my doorstep.” I said, only a set of Carmen rollers and a housecoat away from being a character in Coronation Street.

  “I haven’t come here to fight,” he said raising a patronising hand. “I just came to give you these,” he handed over three credit cards. I said cash would be better.

  “Do you know how much money we spent to get Rosencrantz home? You broke his heart.”

  “I’m sorry, truly sorry, about all that happened,” he said, the Mallard feather blowing in the breeze, “but I’m merely giving back what belongs to Rosencrantz.” He turned, picked his way down the path and out through the gate.

  I turned the cards over in my hand and there was Rosencrantz’s name, on all of them.

  “Why does Rosencrantz have so many credit cards?” I yelled as Christian climbed into a waiting taxi.

  “I am sorry Coco,” he said. He closed the door and it drove away.

  I’m just sitting staring at these cards and contemplating ransacking Rosencrantz’s bedroom, something I promised myself I would never do.

  July

  Wednesday 1st July 11:43

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Last night I waited up for Rosencrantz. When he came in from work, he was pale and drawn with huge bags under his eyes. He saw me sat at the kitchen table with the credit cards.

  “Tell me what’s going on,” I said. He flopped into a chair and started talking.

  Back in April, a couple of young edgy producers from the Carnegie Theatre in Edinburgh came and watched Anne Frank: Reloaded and offered Rosencrantz a slot for the play at the Edinburgh Festival in August.

  They said the show was ‘edgy’ ‘now’ and with the press interest it attracted, it could be a big hit.

  Christian negotiated a deal, with himself and Rosencrantz as co-producers. He also said he would design the show. Many successful careers have been launched at the Edinburgh Festival. The only problem was that they had to find five thousand pounds to book their slot at the Carnegie Theatre.

  Christian said he couldn’t ask his parents for any money, he had already maxed out credit cards after maxing out his trust fund.

  Rosencrantz didn’t want to ask me, because of the money worries I had with the divorce at the time. So, he agreed to apply for a credit card.

  In the euphoria of accepting this ‘offer,’ they didn’t think about all the other costs involved, and Rosencrantz ended up putting another ten thousand pounds on credit cards for accommodation, advertising, and numerous other fees.

  Then America happened, and Christian vanished. Rosencrantz said he tried to keep everything going, but most of the other actors involved with the show were ‘Team Christian’ and jumped ship when Christian did. Rosencrantz has been working flat out just to cover just the minimum payments. He has been waiting for the post most mornings so he could intercept the credit card statements.

  “It’s such a mess mum,” he said and laid his head on my shoulder and sobbed. I was relieved I finally knew.

  When he had stopped crying I asked him to give me all the paperwork to look at. He came back with a bulging folder. I told him not to worry and get some sleep.

  This morning Ros
encrantz looked like he had slept well for the first time in weeks.

  He asked what I was going to do. I told him I wasn’t sure yet, but when he gets home from classes he should quit his bar job. He hugged me and told me I was the best. When he’d gone I made a big pot of coffee, took a deep breath and opened the folder.

  The first receipt was for £7,500, to rent three four-bedroom flats in a building called Palace Apartments. At that price, I had to see them so clicked on Google Street View. Palace Apartments are far from palatial, in fact they are far from anywhere. They are bedsits in a tiny terraced house in Leith, several miles from the centre of Edinburgh. I recognised it as the road Ewan McGregor runs down at the beginning of Trainspotting.

  I phoned the number on the invoice and an old Scottish lady called Mrs. Dougal answered. I asked how each bedsit could sleep four people?

  “Och, they’ll all bunk doon together,” she chuckled. “Actors aren’t shy.”

  I apologised and explained I would have to cancel. She told me that Rosencrantz had paid in the knowledge the £7,500 wasn’t refundable.

  “How can you justify charging so much?” I said.

  “Leith is very cosmopolitan now,” she said. “The Royal Yacht Britannia is permanently moored here. It’s very reasonable.”

  She said I should log on to edfringe.com. I did and she was right, she is reasonable. A coffee shop on the Royal Mile is renting out its stock cupboard to the Cambridge Footlights for ten grand.

  Thursday 2nd July 19:58

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Rosencrantz went to see Ethel last night in her new flat. He told her everything, and she gave him a thick ear!

  When he came home and told me, I phoned her up furious.

  “Well someone’s got to give ‘im a thick ear,” she said.

  “What exactly is a ‘thick ear’?”

  “Well, it was more a clip round the ear, a wallop…” she said.

  “You hit him!”

  “Is there a mark on ‘im?” she said.

  “No, not that I can see.”

  “I didn’t do it ‘ard… You think ‘ed dare run up all that debt if you’d threatened ‘im once in a while with a thick ear, a clout or a wallop? I always say, walloped kids are ‘appy kids.”

  Can she be right? Rosencrantz did seem happier when he got home. Once the physical violence was over, Ethel had made him his favourite; salmon sandwiches with the crusts off and Angel Delight.

  After another day on the phone, I can’t get any of the money back. I have two days to pay off these credit cards before even more interest is added. The APR is 22%

  Also, three missed calls today from Adam.

  Saturday 4th July 13:15

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I didn’t sleep, so I came down to the Allotment early, put the kettle on, and sat on my bench chain smoking. It was hot and sunny, which made me feel a little better. Around nine Adam came tramping up in the heat, the dust swirling around him. Tight white t-shirt and football shorts. Woof! I realised I hadn’t called him back.

  He came and stood by the bench and asked if I was ignoring him. I said I was sorry and that things had been manic. He sat down, and I told him what has been going on. To my horror, I began to cry.

  “I’m not turning on the tears!” I said, mortified.

  He put his arm round me. I put my head on his shoulder and we watched some crows pecking around in the dust. He smelt all fresh and showered.

  “I’m reading your book,” he said. He undid his rucksack and pulled out a copy of Chasing Diana Spencer.

  “Why didn’t you tell me?”

  “I tried to. Three times,” he grinned.

  “Sorry, again” I said wiping my eyes. “Where did you get it from? It’s out of print.”

  “The Library,” he said.

  “What do you think about it?”

  “Could do with a lick of paint but it does have free parking.”

  “Not the Library, my book.”

  He leaned towards me, his nose touching mine, “I’ll tell you, if you kiss me.”

  “No! Tell me first,” I said.

  “You’re interrupting our first kiss?” he said smiling.

  “I’m an insecure creative, tell me!”

  He leant in and kissed me. He tasted delicious. “Sorry I’ve been smoking,” I said weakly.

  “Shh, don’t spoil it.” he said and kissed me again.

  It’s funny how you just know how to kiss…I mean, if someone asked me to break down the process of kissing on a diagram I would have a hard job, but our mouths instinctively worked in unison, just enough tongue and tenderness, he even gave my lip a little bite which was a thrill. He pulled away giving me his dazzling grin.

  “Ten out of ten, and your book is brilliant.” He hugged me tight. We sat in silence for a moment.

  “So you’re stuck with this theatre?” he said. I told him that we had nothing to put in it.

  “Well, what about turning Chasing Diana Spencer into a play? I saw The Woman In Black. It was incredible, and they did it with virtually nothing, a bare stage, and a few props. It was all about the story. If you’re going to lose fifteen grand,” he said. “You might as well take a risk and have a ball doing it.”

  We stayed chatting for a couple of hours. He is so much fun to be around. He asked me over to his place for dinner on Sunday night. What do you think? About the play idea? And him kissing me, of course.

  Sunday 5th July 12:34

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Marika told me to phone Angie and make sure I know where I stand. If I want to go ahead with this play, I need her to formally release me from our contract.

  Angie’s response was a pleasant surprise.

  “Oh babe, that is thinking outside your box,” she said. “A Coco book I can’t sell, but a Coco play, at the Edinburgh Festival could be lucrative. Hey! How about a Coco musical?”

  “A musical?” I said.

  “God, yes!” she said. “Musicals make tons more money than plays. You know Jerry Springer: The Opera? I was stood round the piano in the Battersea Arts Centre bar when Richard Thomas was composing it. If I’d known how huge it would be, I’d have invested, but back then I just got pissed and screamed at him to play Lady In Red.” I didn’t know what to say.

  “Coco,” she said excitedly. “I’ll go in on the costs fifty percent, that’s seven and a half grand, in return for a fifty percent stake.”

  “But, I’ve never written a musical,” I said taken aback.

  “Course you can,” she said. “I was looking again at your Greg-O-Byte proposal. It’s brilliant, and you did that in an evening.”

  We are having coffee tomorrow to talk about it. I came off the phone excited, then realised - I can’t write music.

  Monday 6th July 00:01

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Thank god for Chris. He has seen virtually every musical at least three times. I went over to his in a blind panic.

  “This is huge,” he said.

  “I know.” I said pacing up and down. “And I can’t do it!”

  “What do you mean you can’t do it?”

  “I can’t write music.”

  “You know you only have to write the book and lyrics,” said Chris.

  “Haven’t I already written the book?” Chris explained that the script of a musical is called ‘the book.’

  “You see. I don’t even know that,” I wailed.

  “I’m talking to a guy on Gaydar at the moment who is in his last year at the Royal Academy.”

  “Don’t change the subject,” I said helping myself to a glass of his expensive decanter whisky.

  “No,” said Chris. “I mean we could get him to write the music. He’s a student, he needs credits for his CV.”

  He logged onto MySpace, and played a song from this guys musical, called Jackie Stallone’s Psychic Arses. It was very good and before I knew it, Chris was instant messaging him
to come to the coffee meeting tomorrow with Angie. He poured me another whisky and cleared his throat awkwardly.

  “Coco,” he said. “Would you let me be the director? I will do it for nothing; you can use my house to rehearse…You loved the British Airways Air Steward Charity Panto I directed, and they’re a bitchy lot to co-ordinate, what with all their layovers.” He looked at me pleadingly. “I need a career… I’m going mad with nothing.”

  “Okay,” I said.

  “Really?”

  “Yes, I would love to have you involved.” He hugged me, and then he reminded me I had a date with Adam at seven, and it was already six fifteen. I raced across Regent’s Park, wellies flapping and into the Baker Street Tesco Metro. I grabbed a basket and was working my way through to the wine section when I ran into Adam. He was reading the back of a ready prepared Moussaka and had frozen Lasagna in his basket.

  “Damn,” he grinned. “Busted. What would you prefer, Greek or Italian?”

  I said Italian. He then went on to ask what dessert I wanted and before long, we were food shopping together.

  When we reached the wine aisle there was a middle-aged woman running a sampling promotion. She gave Adam a sample of Bordeaux then asked if his ‘lady friend’ would like some.

  “Here you go lady friend,” he winked. She looked at us both, and her look didn’t seem to judge that I was out of my league. When we got outside we realised we had spent nearly an hour shopping, and our date had begun.

  We both stood there.

  “Look,” he said. “Do you just want to come back with me? Not that what you are wearing doesn’t look great, but I presumed you weren’t going to come to mine in wellies,” I looked down and laughed.

  “I’ve got a great outfit laid out on my bed,” I said.

  “The Wellington boots are actually doing it for me, you look like a girl who…”

  “Likes getting dirty,” I said. “I mean, muddy.” I blushed.

  “Come back to mine,” he said. “We’re having fun.” There was a real sparkle in the air. I said okay.

 
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