You’ll like this one. Twelve years old. Water?
He takes it neat. You’ll have some. Yes? Slange.
So. Have you heard from Katie?
Yes. She e-mailed. Katie was Ben’s first wife.
What did she say?
It was a bit confused. I’m not sure she said anything.
That sounds like Katie.
She asked how I was doing.
Jerry met Katie a couple of times.
That was a long time ago,
When we were married.
And then afterwards, a couple of times.
I never really knew her.
Don’t take any notice of him. He always gets defensive when Katie crops up.
I do not. How did she seem?
Confused, like I said.
I heard from her too.
You did? When?
So what did she say to you?
She was remarkably lucid, for Katie.
She’d had some trouble.
What sort of trouble?
Snowden’s her present husband. I never met the guy.
So what sort of trouble?
He locked her in the basement for two weeks.
She finally got out through the old coal hatch, while he was at work.
You’re kidding. She never said anything about that.
She wouldn’t. Not to you.
Katie always picks the wrong guys. I told her that, years ago.
Jerry doesn’t mean me, do you Jerry?
No. I don’t mean you, you know that. Have another?
You? Ben’ll knock it all back if we let him, but I’ll stick with this for the moment
Jerry likes to keep a cool head when we’re talking about Katie.
Not that we do that often.
Ben hasn’t moved on quite as far as he ought to have. It’s been been how long Ben?
Fifteen years, three months and two days.
See what I mean? I thought she left in the spring?
I wasn’t counting from when she left.
So, what did she want? A shoulder to cry on?
Something like that.
And what did Alice have to say about it?
Alice was very understanding.
I bet she was. What did you tell her, Alice?
I told her I’d put Katie onto you.
Did you now? That was very thoughtful of you, Ben. Sorry, did you say yes to that? Slange.
Jerry’s always had broad shoulders.
Look, that was a long time ago, What was I expected to do? Steady with that, its sixty pounds a bottle.
Jerry can be very sympathetic when the situation calls for it.
That’s what friends are for.
Jerry can very discreet.
What else could I do? It was after Ben and Katie had had this row. She came round to my place. What the hell else could I do? She was in tears.
Jerry always keeps a good supply of tissues in the house.
I had to ask her in.
Sure you did. Come in Katie, step right through to the bedroom, that where I keep the tissues.
It wasn’t like that, and you know it. Ben came round after her, well, not exactly after her. He came round to see me, to talk it over. He had no idea she was there already.
No fucking idea at all. Can you believe it?
We didn’t know. I didn’t know who was at the friggin’ door, so I said, just step in there for a moment. I mean, you don’t want wash your dirty linen and all that. Do you?
A proper Brian Rix farce it was.
You would never have known if you’d kept your mouth shut. He was calling her all the names under the sun. I was trying to tell him. Keep your voice down, I said, keep your voice down, but no, Ben had to shout it all over the rooftops. I’m surprised you didn’t open the fucking windows and tell everyone in the street. Lay off that fucking whisky Ben, if you’re not gonna drink it in a civilised manner.
Civilised? What do you know about civilised?
I was being a friend, to both of you.
So that’s why she came out the bedroom with her blouse half-off, I suppose.
Hey. Look. I’d done this massage course around that time. Therapuetic massage. Don’t look at me like that. I’m telling you. I’d done it up in Scotland, with this American woman. She was a Buddhist for Chrissake. I was trying to calm her down, Katie, when the doorbell went.
Yeah, Jerry’s got a real soft touch.
I thought you’d got over all this.
Over what? Hey, why should I care you gave my ex-wife a little fondle fifteen years ago?
I did not giver her a little fondle.
Oh, a big fondle, was it?
Look, this isn’t the time or place.
No, you’re right. Let’s have another. Anyway, what did she tell you, if it wasn’t about Snowden?
Oh, come on, it’s all water under the bridge.
She must have told you something. She didn’t just write, Hi, it’s Katie, how are you after fifteen fucking years?
Three months and two days.
I guess that was a bit anal.
She told me what she’d come round to tell me.
All those years ago. She told me what she’d come round to tell me. Ben got his arse round my place so fast, you’d wonder how he knew that’s where she was coming to. I thought it was because we were friends.
That’s why it was. We were best mates, still are. That’s why I wanted to talk to Jerry. I knew he’d talk some sense into me.
That’s what you said.
You said you’d come around to talk, about you and Katie.
Well, that was it. Where are you going?
To get another bottle. This one’s a bit darker. Never mind the water. Here. Please yourself. Ben and I’ll have one, for old times sake.
She’d come around to tell me what you’d been arguing about.
One of those things married couples argue about.
Was it? I never got to hear. You were round so fast. She’d barely got in the door, and you were hammering on it. It was only later, much later, I began to ask myself if you’d come round to my place ’cause you thought that that’s where she’d be. There was nothing between me and Katie back then. He knew that. I was happily married. You remember Joan, don’t you, Ben.
You won’t have met Joan, I don’t suppose. I haven’t seen her for, what would it be Ben, fourteen years, thereabouts?
Something like that.
Ben’ll probably find it as hard to forget Joan as I do, isn’t that so Ben?
So what did that lying fucking bitch tell you?
Wouldn’t you like to know?