Sins of the Father(3)

By: Hannah Howe


In reply to Faye’s question, I nodded and said, “He’s on his way; next stop, Australia.”

“I suppose he’ll behave himself while he’s away,” Faye said, her pretty face still swathed in a saucy smile. Before I could reply, she added, “I’ve received confirmation from the venue and registrar. You pull out now, you’ve lost your deposit.”

As well as organizing our office duties, Faye had the immediate task of organizing the wedding.

“I’m not going to pull out, Faye; I love Alan; come hell or high water, I’m going to marry him. Anyway,” I complained, “why are you casting this pall of doom and gloom?”

“It’s a wedding tradition,” Faye said simply.

“Since when?” I scowled.

“Since Adam and Eve and the apple.”

I placed the bills in the pending tray and thought about that. “Did Adam seduce Eve, or did Eve seduce Adam?” I asked. “Or did the apple seduce both of them?”

Faye shrugged. She picked up a pen and scratched the top of her head. “You’re not big on religion, are you, Sam?”

“Only when I’m trapped in a tight corner,” I said; “then I pray like hell.”

Faye examined her pen. She pursed her lips then placed the pen, neatly, on her desk. “Anyway,” she said, “everything’s booked. I’ve sorted the guest list. From your side I have Sweets, Mrs MacArthur, Mac and his boyfriend, and me.” She glanced at yours truly then frowned. “Sure you don’t want to invite anyone else?”

“I just want a quiet wedding; I don’t want a fuss.”

“From Alan’s side, I have his parents; they’re travelling over from France, right?”

I nodded; Alan’s mother was French; his parents had retired to Brittany.

“I also have Bernie Samson, Alan’s best man; his psychology mates and his ex-rugby playing pals. And Alis, of course. Is Alis bringing a boyfriend?”

“She’s not romantically attached at the moment,” I said.

“Good for her,” Faye said. Incongruously, given her good looks and sensual appearance, Faye managed to sound like a crusty maiden aunt. “So that’s the guest list sorted then.”

“Do you want to invite anyone?” I asked.

Faye scoffed. She swivelled in her chair then turned away, to gaze at the wall. “An old client, perhaps; or my mother?”

Faye had spent time on the street, as a prostitute. And she was estranged from her mother. Both actions were linked to her childhood trauma. Money represented no problem for Faye’s mother and, every month, she sent her daughter a ten-figure cheque, which Faye promptly shredded. Their estrangement was sad, but understandable. Maybe one day they would reach the point of reconciliation and forgiveness, but not yet.

“I’m serious,” I said. “Invite someone if you like.”

“I’m on my own,” Faye said, “and I like it like that.” She swivelled in her chair again, only to pause and face me. “Shame you can’t invite your mother though.”

I nodded. My late, alcoholic, mother would have enlivened proceedings, if nothing else. “If she were alive, she’d probably talk Alan out of it,” I said, “over a bottle of gin. ‘When she was a little girl, Samantha dropped a dozen eggs on to the floor to see if they would bounce, did you know that. When she was six, she used to play suicide with her dolls; she’d place them on the window ledge then talk, to stop them from jumping. When she was sixteen, I caught her reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover...’”

Faye laughed, “Sounds like you had an interesting childhood.”

I nodded. “My childhood was interesting, to say the least. Is it any wonder I am who I am?” I walked over to the window and gazed down to the street. Children were wandering around, though few were playing; games involved computers and gizmos these days, not sport or hide and seek. “Still,” I reflected, “it would be nice if my mother were alive to see my happiest day.”

“I’m sure she’s looking on from somewhere,” Faye said. Then, abruptly, she went off at a tangent, “Now what about the hen night?”