The coco pinchard boxset.., p.4
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.4

           Robert Bryndza
 

  Chris glared at me.

  “A nice thing to be,” said Regina, shaking his hand. “What do you do?”

  “Um… I’m between jobs,” said Chris.

  “He’s just come back from Christmas on his parents’ private island,” I gushed, sounding horribly like Meryl. “It’s near Hawaii.”

  Chris looked at me and tried to change the subject.

  “It’s a relief to finally get a Cathedral membership, the hoops you have to jump through with the application.”

  “I didn’t have to worry about all that,” she laughed. “My friend Stephen recommended me… You know. Stephen Fry? We often meet here for a drink and a mutual Twitter.”

  We all laughed falsely.

  “One more thing, Coco,” she said. “I just spoke with Dorian.”

  “Really?” I said.

  “Yes. Bad luck and all that, but at this crucial time, we can’t have you throwing up balustrades in front of the Anne and Michael Book Club.”

  “Balustrades?” I said.

  The groomed young man whispered something into her ear.

  “Of course, I mean bollards… The things, you know that stop…”

  “I know what a bollard is,” I snapped.

  “Well, don’t be one then,” she said coldly. “Good afternoon.” And with that, they were gone.

  “What a bitch,” I said.

  “I know,” agreed Chris. “But what’s a bollard?”

  I told him.

  “Ooh. She is a bitch.”

  “Order more drinks,” I said.

  Saturday 10th January 17.45

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I didn’t sleep. I have just got back from helping Marika out at a car boot sale in Crystal Palace; she thought fresh air would lift my depression. It didn’t. January is not a great time to be standing outside on a frozen football pitch.

  Marika’s stall was impressive. She has been watching a lot of Mary Queen Of Shops on BBC2. She had her clothes rails sorted into sizes and a two-man tent as a changing room. Crowds of people who wanted to try on her old Per Una underwear mobbed us. Some didn’t even bother to use the tent.

  On the way home, we stopped at a McDonalds and talked about my situation.

  “You write a new book and you find a new man,” said Marika, through a mouthful of French fries.

  “It’s not that black and white,” I said.

  “Why not? You live in London, with huge amounts of opportunity. You own a house, you have talent, and you are attractive… People make the mistake of thinking things are hard. Where is Daniel?”

  “Staying with Ethel. He hasn’t even contacted me.”

  “Doesn’t his pantomime finish tomorrow?”

  “Yes.”

  “We’re going to the after-show party,” she said. “You need to go in there and make him, her and everyone feel uncomfortable.”

  “I don’t know about that,” I said.

  “He brought another woman into your bed,” she said. “You need to get him where it hurts. Right now, he is taking you for a fool. He still sees this Snow White every day, and you do nothing?”

  I looked at my sad face reflected in the dark window.

  “Chuck him out properly,” she said. “His clothes. Dump them on the street.”

  “No.”

  “Yes,” she insisted. “He needs to know not to screw with you, or at least not to screw other women and expect to get away with it.”

  I was all psyched up to do it when Marika dropped me home. Then I opened Daniel’s side of the wardrobe and stared at his clothes.

  My face is still streaming with tears. How has my life ended up like this?

  Sunday 11th January 17.44

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Well, we went to the party.

  “You just have to be strong for ten minutes,” said Marika, as we pulled up behind the theatre. “Say your piece, and we go.”

  I’d managed to accommodate Daniel’s clothes, after folding them, in five bin liners. As she loaded the car Marika had pulled out the lily-of-the-valley-scented drawer liner I had placed in each bag, saying, “What are you, his dry cleaner?”

  We went in through the stage door and up to the green room. Daniel was sitting with some musicians and a couple of the Dwarves. Big chunks of scenery were being carted out. The room went very quiet when we entered and his mouth fell open.

  “Coco, Marika,” he said. “What a surprise, you look…”

  “She looks bloody amazing, considering. Because of you she hasn’t slept,” said Marika.

  “Did you have a nice Christmas, Marika?” said Daniel, attempting to change the subject.

  “Piss off,” she snarled, grabbing a can of lager from a bucket on the table.

  “Um…” he said, his eyes darting around. “Shall we go and talk?”

  I heard myself say, “Okay.”

  The plan had been to drop some witty line, slap him round the face, and then walk out, but it seemed ridiculous now we were here.

  Marika glared at me as I followed Daniel down a murky corridor and into his small dressing room. He closed the door.

  There was a picture stuck to the mirror of me, him and Rosencrantz taken last summer at Thorpe Park. We were grinning in those plastic rain ponchos after a ride on the Log Flume. The water had made them stick to our bodies, and next to Daniel and Rosencrantz I resembled a rather quirky frozen turkey.

  He went to say something, but the door flung open and Snow White burst into the room.

  “As promised, I’m not wearing any…”

  The colour drained from her pale face when she saw me. Her bottom lip began to tremble and she put a hand up to it before running out. Daniel looked past me anxiously.

  “What? What?” I shouted, shaking him. “You want to run after her? What about ME!”

  I shoved him out of the way. He followed down the corridor, shouting for me to come back. I carried on through the green room, taking Marika with me.

  He emerged from the stage door as I was throwing his clothes out of Marika’s car boot into the wet street.

  “To think I folded these!” I screamed at him.

  It wasn’t the most inspired parting shot, I thought, as I slammed the boot and got in the car.

  I looked back at him as we pulled away. He was trying to get his clothes out of the rain. I wanted to help him. Even after what he had done to me.

  “Coco,” said Marika, stopping the car by a bus shelter. “This is not a good situation. You have to be strong.” She wiped a tear from my cheek. “For years my mother turned a blind eye to my father’s cheating and it nearly destroyed her. You can’t stay with him.”

  I came home and stared at the ceiling in the spare room for hours.

  Tuesday 13th January 08.48

  TO: clivethenewsagent@gmail.com

  Please can you cancel BBC Music Magazine, BBC Proms Magazine, and Keyboard Companion.

  Thank you, Coco Pinchard

  Wednesday 14th January 23.47

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Daniel has been round repeatedly. I ignored his knocking. On his fourth attempt, I opened the front door on the latch. He stood in the rain unshaven, looking annoyingly handsome.

  “Can I come in?” he said through the gap. I was about to say “no”, when Rosencrantz arrived home from college, and I had to open the door.

  “Hello,” said Daniel, following Rosencrantz into the hall.

  “Yeah, like, whatever,” muttered Rosencrantz fiddling with his iPhone

  “I’m still your father!” yelled Daniel. “And speak properly!”

  “Don’t you shout at Rosencrantz,” I said, stepping between them.

  “I think Dad needs his passport,” said Rosencrantz, looking up from texting. A flicker slid across Daniel’s face.

  “Is that what you’re here for?”

  “Well, that. And other things,” he said. “It’s not my fault. I need i
t for work!”

  I pushed him out, slammed the door, and locked it. Daniel stayed banging on the door for a few minutes, then it was quiet. The rain began to fall harder, pinging off the roof. Rosencrantz made coffee and lit me a cigarette.

  A couple of hours later the phone went. It was Ethel, moaning about Daniel sleeping on her floor on a lilo.

  “I know ‘e’s me son an’ all that but ‘e’s so noisy, tossing and turning,” she said. “Surely you can make it up? ‘E needs that passport.”

  “Ethel,” I said. “Daniel brought another woman into our bed and I saw them at it.”

  There was a pause whilst she covered the phone, and I heard her muffled voice shout at Daniel, “You never told me that’s what yer did!”

  Then the receiver began to clatter as she tried to put it down, still shouting. In all the years I’ve known her, she’s never managed to replace her phone back on the hook in less than a minute.

  I am going to eat a Peppermint Aero and go to bed.

  Thursday 15th January 11.01

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk, chris@christophercheshire.com

  Daniel came round. I caved in and let Rosencrantz poke his passport through the letterbox. He only has ten days to get his visa. I stayed upstairs in bed. I just want to sleep. Thanks for your messages.

  C x

  Sunday 18th January 16.45

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk, chris@christophercheshire.com

  Ethel came walking into the spare room this morning and plonked down a cup of tea on the bedside table.

  “’Ere, get this down yer,” she said, leaning on the bedpost to catch her breath.

  “How did you get in?” I asked, pulling the covers up to my chin.

  “Yer son. ‘E’s worried about you,” she said. “And yer neighbours are going to wonder why you’ve got your curtains shut in the afternoon. People talk.”

  “It’s not the 1950s, Ethel,” I snapped.

  “If it were 1950, you and Daniel would still be man and wife,” she said. “If I’d ‘ave chucked out my Wilf whenever ‘e gave some woman the glad eye, I’d never’ve got any shelves put up.”

  I looked at her.

  “‘Ere love, ‘ave some tea,” she said pushing it up under my nose. I took a gulp and choked.

  “It’s got whisky in it,” she said. “Perk yer up.”

  She crossed the hall and began to run a bath.

  “Danny’s comin’ over and I want you two to talk,” she shouted, clanking around in the bathroom.

  “Just leave me alone,” I said, sinking below the covers.

  Ethel came back in, wiping bath foam off her arm, and perched on the end of the bed.

  “’E’s gutted for what ‘e did,” she said. “’E’s been in tears in the residents’ lounge all week. One of the women told ‘im to shut up during Emmerdale. Why throw away twenty years in ’aste?”

  I agreed to have a bath and get dressed.

  When Ethel had gone downstairs, I looked at myself naked in the mirror. I think I may have lost some weight, but I’m no Snow White. That girl had such smooth, taut skin. That has gone from me and I will never get it back.

  When I came downstairs, Ethel was leaving on the arm of Rosencrantz.

  “We’re going to Soho for a coffee and a look at all the poofs,” she said, straightening her hat.

  Rosencrantz gave me a hug, saying, “You know, I think heterosexual men are like stupid, as a race. I hope he like knows what he’s throwing away.”

  “Come on, stop talking shite,” said Ethel and pulled him out of the door.

  When they’d gone, I perched on a stool at the breakfast bar, waited for Daniel and began to think. If this turns out to be an apology, a sincere apology, maybe it could work if he wants to try again. I thought I could make him sleep in the spare room for a few months… Maybe I haven’t lost everything.

  When I opened the door, he looked so good. He pecked me on the cheek, handed me a bunch of roses and we went through to the kitchen. I got this warm feeling and realised this maybe was just a horrid blip and somehow our relationship might gain strength from it.

  However, he told me he’d not been happy for a long time. That we got married too young and he wants to separate. I sat there with my mouth open.

  “Coco,” he said. “I’m giving ‘us’ a gift if you will. We can move on to pastures new. You’ll thank me one day.”

  “What?” I cried, feeling my face getting redder. “A gift? I’ll give you a gift,” and I hurled the coffee pot at him.

  He ducked and it burst down the kitchen wall.

  “That could’ve killed me!” he shrieked.

  “You’re only here because you’re scared of Ethel,” I shouted. “You just want an easy life with her for a few days until you skip off on your crappy tour.”

  “Crappy tour?” gasped Daniel.

  “Yeah! Crappy tour!” I screamed. “I’ve had your fucking mother telling me how upset you are, that you want to talk, and all she’s done is make it easier for you to dump me!”

  I started to beat him over the head with the roses.

  “Don’t be rude about Mum!” he shouted. “I’m going upstairs to get my stuff.”

  “You’re not!” I said, pushing him.

  He pushed me back and I crashed into the table. With strength I didn’t know I had, I dragged him by his hair down the hall. Opening the front door with my free hand, I shoved him out, slamming it behind him.

  The letterbox opened.

  “You pulled some of my hair out,” he protested, shocked.

  “Well, I don’t want it!” I said, pulling the little wisp of black and grey hair from between my fingers and shoving it through the letterbox.

  I came up to the spare room and stared at the ceiling. After a while, my rage subsided and it sunk in. I’m going to be alone.

  I heard the door go and Ethel and Rosencrantz chattering, which subsided when they walked into the kitchen.

  Rosencrantz came up but I pretended to be asleep.

  Monday 19th January 10.07

  TO: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  Hi love, I just woke up and I see you’ve gone. I hope you don’t mind me emailing. I would rather write this than have to tell you.

  Your father and I are separating. I am so sorry. He’s coming to get some of his stuff tonight. I’m going over to Chris’s whilst he is here.

  We both still love you so much. Please don’t take sides.

  Mum xxx

  Tuesday 20th January 11.38

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk, chris@christophercheshire.com

  Daniel took the blender! He has moved to a Travelodge in Peckham to rehearse Whistle Up The Wind. What does he need a blender for in a Travelodge?

  Rosencrantz is furious. He is halfway through Katie Price’s juicing diet. He wants to fit into some twenty-seven-inch-waist jeans he has seen in American Apparel.

  Ethel evicted Daniel from her room at the Rainbow Nursing Home now that he is an “impending divorcee”. She says she might die of shame.

  If only.

  Friday 23rd January 13.34

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I am not ignoring you. I switched my phone off and made a nest in the spare room to watch The Sopranos.

  Marika just came round in her lunch hour. Rosencrantz had been updating her via Facebook. He asked her to make my favourite cauliflower cheese, which she brought with her.

  “This is not constructive,” said Marika, surveying the sweet wrappers and mess in the spare room.

  “It is,” I said. “It’s taken my mind off things.”

  She picked up The Sopranos box set. “Where are you up to?”

  “The fourth series,” I said.

  “You’ve got till Monday. Then we need to get you back out there. Me and Chris are arranging something.”

  Where are you taking me? She wouldn’t say. I refuse to go to an over-forties disco.

  Saturday 24th January 11.33


  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Chris came over and watched some Sopranos. He admitted he was rather thrilled by Tony Soprano. I am too. He’s so greasy and corpulent. It must be the power thing. Are we all that predictable?

  I decided I might try to move back into my bedroom. Chris helped me cart the duvet and TV through, but I found an earring by the bed, which wasn’t one of mine.

  Chris, with his expert eye, identified it as from the Coleen Rooney range in Argos. It brought back images of Daniel and Snow White in a state of ecstasy. He flushed it down the toilet.

  I’m staying in the spare room for now.

  Sunday 25th January 20.08

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  AAGH! I was just watching the final episode of The Sopranos with Rosencrantz when the screen went blank. He’s ferreting around the back of the television to try to see what went wrong. I have to know how it ends. Don’t tell me!

  Sunday 25th January 21.34

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Why didn’t you tell me that’s how The Sopranos ends? After forty minutes spent faffing around with Scart plugs, I pressed ‘play’ on the remote control, and the screen jumped to life with the credits rolling. I’d sat on the pause button. That’s how it ends, with the screen going black.

  I put in so many hours with that box set, and like everything now, I feel cheated.

  Rosencrantz thought it was “like genius”.

  Monday 26th January 10.30

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Daniel flies to Chicago at lunchtime. He phoned Rosencrantz this morning to say goodbye. Apparently, Whistle, as he is now calling it, is going to be a huge hit. He invited Rosencrantz to see him off at the airport but he declined. We are still without a blender and Rosencrantz hasn’t made it to a twenty-seven-inch waist. I told him to get the jeans in a perfectly enviable size thirty. However, he said that thirty in indie boy terms is obese.

 

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