The coco pinchard boxset.., p.73
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.73

           Robert Bryndza

  ‘He was found semi-conscious in the foyer of Coptic Studios, Coptic Street. You know it?’

  I said I didn’t.

  ‘He had a great deal of alcohol in his blood, mixed with anti-depressants.’


  ‘We don’t know if it was a suicide attempt; he says he was about to go into a casting.’

  ‘My son wouldn’t do that,’ I said putting my hand over my mouth in shock.

  ‘Are you okay love?’ she asked, eyeing my bump. She filled a cup from the water cooler behind the nurses’ station. I sat down on a plastic chair and drank.

  ‘You should go and talk to him,’ she said kindly, putting a hand on my shoulder.

  I put my cup in the bin and went back to the cubicle. Rosencrantz was sitting up in bed with his arms crossed. I noticed the hospital tag on his wrist.

  ‘I’ve just been told a load of stuff, which doesn’t sound like you,’ I said. He shrugged and his bloodshot eyes filled with tears. He got up and went into the men’s toilets opposite. His clothes were piled on a chair by the bed, and his phone started to ring. I pulled it from his jeans, WAYNE MOBILE flashed up on the screen, and I answered.

  ‘Hello Wayne, it’s Coco… Mrs P. I have to tell you Rosencrantz is in hospital.’

  ‘I’m not surprised,’ he said coolly.

  ‘Why not?’

  ’I don’t tell tales,’ he said haughtily. ‘I do have a message from our landlord. Rosencrantz needs to get his stuff.’

  ‘Why does he need to get his stuff?’

  ‘As I said I don’t tell tales…’

  ‘Wayne, please, I don’t know what’s happening.’

  His voice thawed a little.

  ‘Mrs P, Rosencrantz has completely gone off the rails. Last night he had a terrible fight with Oscar.’

  ‘Is that who punched him?’

  ‘After he broke Oscar’s nose…’

  Rosencrantz came back from the toilet.

  ‘What are you doing on my phone?’ he demanded.

  ‘Love, it’s Wayne…’

  Rosencrantz got back up on the bed and folded his arms. I didn’t know what to say.

  ‘Charming. Well I don’t really want to speak to him either,’ said Wayne and put the phone down.

  The doctor came through the curtain. He was very young and seemed sympathetic.

  ‘You’re free to go Rosencrantz,’ he said. ‘Be a bit more careful next time, alcohol and anti-depressants don’t mix.’

  We came out to let Rosencrantz get dressed.

  ‘Doctor, what can you tell me?’ I asked. ‘I’ve gone from knowing nothing to all this information. I didn’t know he was taking anything, or drinking.’

  ‘I’m not sure what I can tell you,’ said the doctor.

  ‘Is he suicidal?’

  ‘I don’t think so.’

  ‘What kind of a diagnosis is that?’

  ‘I am here to treat patients. If Rosencrantz wants to see someone, the nurse can give you some NHS-approved psychologists.’

  Rosencrantz came out of the cubicle, and the doctor handed him some leaflets about drug addiction.

  ‘He doesn’t need those,’ I said. ‘I’m taking him for a nice cup of tea!’

  We came out of the hospital on to Warren Street. People streamed past us on the pavement, enjoying the summer sun. We crossed the road and walked down a little way to a Starbucks. Rosencrantz grabbed a table with two squishy chairs by the window, and I went and bought the drinks.

  ‘I got you a cake pop,’ I said when I came back with two milky teas. He stared back at me. His bruised eye was now turning a purple blue. He didn’t touch the cake pop and took a sip of tea.

  ‘I’m going for a fag.’ He pulled a packet of cheap cigarettes out of his jeans and went outside. He stood with his back against the window and smoked two cigarettes. He didn’t look round.

  ‘Why are you buying such horrible cigarettes?’ I asked when he came back.

  ‘They’re cheap.’ He sipped his tea again. Some young men walked past, tanned and handsome in their shorts. Rosencrantz looked sickly in comparison.

  ‘You always liked Marlboro Lights. Marika smokes those. Chris has always liked Benson and Hedges.’

  Rosencrantz looked at me and drank more tea.

  ‘It’s probably cold love. Would you like another?’

  ‘Are we in a Pinter play Mum? Talking banalities whilst wading through the subtext?’

  I looked out of the window and blinked back some tears.

  ‘Ok. Why were you found drunk this morning? Why have you been chucked out of your house? And why have you been fighting with Oscar? And why are you on anti-depressants?’

  I noticed a lady sitting to the left of prick up her ears.

  ‘Got nothing better to do than wig in on a private conversation?’ I asked her. She looked surprised.

  ‘Yeah, you, big ears.’ She looked embarrassed, got up quickly and left.

  ‘I wasn’t listening,’ she said as she passed.

  ‘Pull the other one love,’ I said. Despite himself Rosencrantz laughed.

  ‘What?’ I said joining in.

  ‘Pull the other one love, You’re so quaint’

  ‘It’s more polite than bugger off you skinny cow… Please, talk to me.’

  Rosencrantz shifted uncomfortably. He fiddled with the hospital tag still on his wrist.

  ‘I dunno, things have been tough. I haven’t been getting any of the castings I go to… yet Oscar has had five commercials, he’s done ‘Emmerdale’, ‘Hollyoaks’ and he’s just got a small part on ‘Eastenders’.’

  I bit back the impulse to ask when it would be broadcast.

  ‘He’s got more money than me. He’s more successful than I am. He’s just a lucky bastard.’

  He pulled a face, sort of a bitter grimace.

  ‘I used to breeze auditions, now I get so nervous. I’ve just been having a little drink before I go in,’ he admitted.

  ‘A little one?’


  ‘And you’ve been having a lot of castings?’


  ‘Why didn’t you talk to me?’

  ‘You’re about to have a baby, you’ve got your own shit going on.’

  ‘Anti-depressants too?’

  ‘Loads of people take them.’

  ‘Not my son. You should talk to me. I’ve always taught you to talk about your feelings. You’re normally very good at blurting things out.’

  ‘What am I going to do?’ he said wiping a tear away with the sleeve of his jumper.

  ‘We’ll go and get your things, and then you’re coming home with me,’ I said.

  We came back home. I fed Rocco, and then we took my car over to Lewisham. Rosencrantz drove. With my bump it is now impossible. He found a parking space out front, and went up the steps to the house he shares with Wayne and Oscar. He took a deep breath and rang the bell.

  ‘Where are your keys?’ I asked.

  ‘I don’t live here anymore, remember?’ Wayne opened the door dressed in a character turban and housecoat. He held a long thin cigarette in his hand.

  ‘Hello Mrs P.’

  ‘Hello Wayne,’ I said.

  He cast his eye over Rosencrantz. Much like Bette Davis does to Hercule Poirot in ‘Death on the Nile’.

  ‘Oscar is convalescing,’ said Wayne bluntly, not breaking his Bette Davis stare. Rosencrantz edged past him and up the stairs.

  ‘Where is he?’ I asked.

  ‘His mother took him back to the Cotswolds. He’s devastated.’

  ‘About splitting up with Rosencrantz?’

  ‘No. He was meant to be filming a small part in Eastenders. Thanks to Rosencrantz breaking his nose, they’ve recast.’

  ‘That’s terrible.’ It was all I could say.

  ‘It was a good role too. Someone who robs Dot Cotton, or the policeman who takes a statement from Dot Cotton after she was robbed. Either way it was two days and two grand plus another
twelve hundred for the omnibus.’

  Rosencrantz came back down the stairs with his laptop and a bag.

  ‘I’ll be in the car,’ he said and skimmed past us out of the front door. Wayne took a drag of his thin cigarette and raised his eyebrows as the door closed.

  ‘Why didn’t you tell me Rosencrantz was feeling low?’ I asked.

  ‘Oh we all feel low Mrs P. Rosencrantz has decided to push self-destruct, without so much as a care for any of us. We were so happy in this house.’

  ‘Can’t you talk to the landlord?’

  ‘Mrs P. I don’t want to talk to the landlord. Come with me.’

  He hitched up his long housecoat and I followed him up the narrow staircase. Wayne’s tiny room is at the top. It was a mess of broken china. It was all over the bed and across the carpet.

  ‘Your royal wedding collection,’ I said picking up a small shard of china bearing Princess Diana’s optimistic smile.

  ‘I tried to stop him when he hit Oscar, but he came in here and went berserk. I had every wedding from the Queen and Prince Phillip to Kate and Wills. I even had the original Charles and Camilla – which is rare. You know they had to move the date when the Pope died.’

  I was horrified.

  ‘Mrs P, he’s been drunk for the best part of the last four months. And he’s not a happy drunk. I’m surprised Oscar stuck it for so long. Rosencrantz couldn’t bear the fact that Oscar was more successful than he was.’

  I thought back to all the times I’ve seen Rosencrantz drinking, why didn’t it ring any alarm bells?

  ‘Did you know he’d been taking anti-depressants?’ I asked.

  Wayne looked surprised.

  ‘No. That I didn’t know, but it explains a lot…’

  I offered to pay Wayne for the mugs but he refused. I promised I would try and make it up to him.

  I came back outside. Rosencrantz was sitting on the bonnet of the car smoking.

  ‘Don’t sit on the paintwork,’ I snapped. He got up with a surprised look and we got in the car.

  I really let him have it. I told him I didn’t bring him up to lie and be violent or break other people’s things, and that drink isn’t the answer. He just sat there and looked at me.

  ‘Have you finished? You’ve always been blessed haven’t you Mum? Rich kid. Never really had to suffer,’ he said it with a nasty grimace. I’ve seen Daniel with that look on his face, and seeing Rosencrantz pulling it horrified me. I slapped him. Hard. He looked shocked.

  ‘Don’t you ever speak like that to me again.’ I said. ‘Now drive us home.’

  We drove home in silence. I despaired. Despaired that I didn’t have the energy to deal with this. Rosencrantz drinking. Please God don’t let him be an alcoholic, I prayed.

  When we got home, I heard a banging sound followed by a plinking. It was coming through the kitchen door, which was closed. Rocco lay patiently outside.

  I opened the door and the smell of beer hit us. Every surface was covered in beer bottles, little groups of shiny brown glass bottles with red lids. Adam had pushed the kitchen table and chairs against the wall, laid a big tarpaulin on the floor, and had the forty-litre container of beer in the middle of it, where he was siphoning it off into bottles with a clear tube.

  He finished filling a bottle nipped off the flow of the tube with a clothes peg, then banged on a red lid with a hammer.

  ‘Our first brew! Ninety-seven bottles and counting… Hey Rosencrantz, fancy a drink?’

  ‘Adam!’ I said.

  ‘I know, I said I would wait for you, but you have to suck when siphoning. Hey Rosencrantz, where did you get the shiner?’

  ‘Rosencrantz, go upstairs,’ I said panicking.

  ‘I’m not a fucking alcoholic, Jesus!’ he said. Then he left the house slamming the door.

  ‘Which means he is an alcoholic,’ I said sinking down in a chair.

  ‘What’s going on?’ said Adam.

  ‘I need a beer,’ I said. Over a rather flat and flavourless beer I told Adam everything.

  ‘Oh Lord,’ he said when I’d finished.

  ‘What should I do?’ I asked wearily.

  ‘Bringing him here was a good call.’

  ‘And? He’s out there now doing God knows what.’

  ‘Has he got any money to buy drinks?’

  ‘When you look like Rosencrantz you don’t need money to get drinks.’

  Saturday 9th June

  Rosencrantz got in just before midnight. We lay in bed listening. There was a bit of a stumble, but we heard him make it up the stairs and into the bathroom.

  ‘Does he sound drunk?’ I whispered.

  ‘I don’t know. Shhhh,’ whispered Adam. We listened for a minute, the toilet flushed, and then the taps ran.

  ‘I should go and talk to him,’ I said.

  ‘No. Let me.’ Adam got up and went out to the landing. I listened with bated breath.

  ‘Hi mate, you okay?’

  ‘Yeah,’ said Rosencrantz.

  ‘You got enough blankets?’

  ‘Um, yeah.’

  ‘Ok, well, night.’

  ‘Night’ said Rosencrantz. Adam padded back in to the bedroom.

  ‘That was hopeless!’ I hissed when he climbed into bed.

  ‘What was I supposed to say?’

  ‘I would have found out where he’d been, I would have smelt his breath.’

  ‘Coco. He’s in one piece, as far as I could tell he didn’t smell too bad. Just leave it. You don’t want to push him away. Get some sleep.’

  Of course, I didn’t get any sleep. I started going through the family tree, trying to remember if there was an alcoholic in the family. The baby kicked and wiggled about under my rib cage. What if I’m growing another little alcoholic? I thought.

  Adam went to get the papers this morning and I was eating toast when Rosencrantz came down. He sat and I poured him some tea. I didn’t say anything. He buttered some toast, fed a little to Rocco.

  ‘I just can’t hack my life, no structure,’ he said breaking the silence.

  ‘What do you mean?’

  ‘My life. Being an actor. It used to be fun… I went to Ginger’s last night.’

  ‘The gay bar on the high street?’

  ‘The tragic gay bar on the high street.’

  ‘Did you have a nice time?’

  ‘This guy offered me three hundred pounds to have sex with him.’

  I choked into my tea. ‘You didn’t?’

  ‘No, of course not… but a part of me wished I had. He was so sexy, mid-thirties… an amazing body. Fun to be with. Three hundred for an hour of fun. I haven’t earned that for acting in ages.’

  ‘Why did he offer you money?’

  ‘’Cos I was indifferent to him. I said no a few times.’

  He sipped his tea again, he didn’t seem concerned.

  ‘It would be prostitution!’ I said.

  ‘Would it? I would have done it anyway. Isn’t it just sex with expenses?’

  ‘And stealing is just shopping without going to the till.’

  ‘A few months ago, this same guy took me out on a date. He ordered expensive wine, three courses. The bill came to nearly three hundred, and afterwards I shagged him.’

  ‘But that was a date Rosencrantz.’

  ‘What’s the difference between being bought dinner and then sleeping with someone, or sleeping with someone and being given a similar amount in cash? If you ask me I’d rather skip the calories and have the cash… And didn’t you have that old prozzie renting Adam’s flat? You seemed happy enough to take her rent money.’

  I felt a bit like I was on that Radio 4 programme ‘The Moral Maze’. He almost had a point. But I couldn’t lose a debate with my son about whether he should dabble in prostitution.

  ‘Morning. What are we talking about?’ asked Adam coming back in with the newspapers.

  ‘I’m just discussing with Mum whether or not I should sleep with a hot rich man for three hundred quid.’

  ‘You’ve arranged this?’ said Adam.

  ‘Of course not!’ I said. ‘What kind of mother do you think I am? The guy asked him.’

  ‘Rosencrantz,’ said Adam. ‘You are a handsome and talented lad. It would be a very slippery slope if you even considered this, and it wouldn’t just be once. You’d get trapped in what seems like easy money. The acting work you love would lose any value, and I believe you can earn money from it. You’re just going through a rough patch. Most of the fun is in the struggle and makes achieving it all the more special.’

  Rosencrantz nodded, he appeared to be taking it in.

  ‘Prostitution isn’t a career. Acting is, and building a career you love is one of the most rewarding and exciting things you can do.’ Adam tousled Rosencrantz’s hair and sat down beside me.

  ‘Thanks Adam,’ said Rosencrantz. His phone rang and he excused himself.

  ‘That was amazing,’ I said. ‘Where did you get that from?’

  Adam shrugged. ‘He’s a good kid. Just confused about life,’ he said kissing me the top of my head.

  ‘What about me? I’m just as confused. I’ve been his mother for twenty-two years and I was about to lose that argument. If you hadn’t walked in, I’d have sent him off to shag older men for cash. I’m a terrible mother. I haven’t learned anything.’

  ‘You’re a wonderful mother. Although I wouldn’t want you to work as a careers advisor.’

  He leant in and kissed me.

  ‘What do I do?’ I asked.

  ‘Be there for him,’ said Adam.

  Sunday 9th June

  Today we took Marika and Milan to see Strangeways Farm. Chris had to go away on business, but he said he’d leave the key under the mat of the house. Milan and Marika were bouncing with happiness at the prospect of coming to see it. I really wanted Rosencrantz to see it too, but he said he hadn’t been sleeping and just wanted to chill in front of the TV. I reluctantly left him.

  The Kent countryside looked even more stunning – green and fresh, bursting with life. The long driveway had dried out and we bounced along in the car. Marika kept giving Milan an odd look and squeezing his hand, but I couldn’t work out what was going on. Did they think we were stupid, doing this?

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