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Seven of Seven

by jim60 

Posted: 31 August 2010
Word Count: 2001
Summary: Okay, this is it. The "thing" I've been playing about with.

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August, 2009...

The article is in The Sunday Telegraph. In one of the supplements. She’d nearly missed it in her rush to put the magazine in the bin.
A small review of the latest showings in Chelsea, and more precisely, at the well known gallery of Collier and Young.
The exhibition is called ’Fine definition’ and is taking in work from various collections and some of these are famous but what catches her eye is the work of Joel Hasford and a painting of his in particular.
Hasford wasn’t noted for his oil on canvas work, he was more guided by his neo-gothic structures and highly collectable pottery.
He also disappeared a few years ago and his work is on display around the world and all together, his paintings number no more than seven.
This one, is number seven and at 12x18, one of the smallest on show.
There quite naturally would be paintings by Elizabeth Bradley, simply because she can paint like a demon and her work although excessively expressive, is loved by those critics who wouldn’t look at anything else anyway.
Peter Howard, of The Standard, is an absolute admirer, as far as he’s concerned, Elizabeth can walk on water and be an absolute darling.
She folds the magazine and reaches for her diary. Collier and Young have this exhibition running for three weeks and it’s the middle of week two already.

The phone buzzes on the table, reaching for it and trying to flick open her diary, ’Terri Hasford.’ Her voice sounds bright and cheery.
A crunch, followed by, ’Hey, why haven’t I received your wedding invite?’
The diary flops open on August, ’My what Mum?’
‘You are getting married?’ Somewhat indignant statement, but mum is sometimes like that.
‘Since when? Hey and what was that noise?’
Mum laughs, ’That my darling girl was a box of Walkers prawn cocktail that I got shipped in and I dropped it. Now, your wedding!’
Terri checks the dates in the magazine, scrabbling to pick up a pen, ’Any thoughts about me getting married are completely farcical.’
‘Oh and I thought ..’ From indignant to unhappy and that’s not too bad in the space of a couple of minutes.
‘Mum, think again. Did you know about Collier and Young’s exhibition?’
Now the line goes very quiet, like Terri’s said something that mum doesn’t or can’t answer.
The only person who has painting number seven is mum and she promised.
A loud sigh, ’Yes, okay. I did. They said they’d take care of it. It’s just a painting Terri.’
Terri pulls a face, holding the phone away from her mouth. Seven was never supposed to be shown anywhere. ‘You forgot your promise, Mum.’
‘I am sorry darling. But I just thought it was time, that’s all.’ Mum tries for the ’go softly’ approach and this feels more like getting a hot needle shoved in her ear.
‘I don’t think Dad would agree with you.’ Her voice that was bright and cheery at the start certainly isn’t now. Terri snaps the phone off and puts it back on the table.

Sorting out her bag and picking up her phone and then that pause, wondering if she should call her sister, perhaps, she might have known as well.
Terri stands cross legged at the table, her eyes fixed on the floor, pondering the idea that the only one who would have done this is mum, Jasmine wouldn’t have, she was all too clear on the promise and in any case, she hasn’t an interest in anything arts related.
Terri drops the phone in her bag and grabs her coat.
A little drive to Chelsea is in order.

Bare floorboards, plain flat white walls and ten pounds for a show guide, but what you do get is complimentary tea or coffee. Nothing more on offer. Terri walks straight passed all of Bradley’s work, two of Savini’s huge canvasses, the three by Ted Baker, who in some regards, is almost as bad as Bradley in terms of what he throws up. Towards the rear of the gallery and where number seven should be, is an empty space.
‘I’m very happy to report that that’s been sold.’
Terri turns and sees the self congratulatory smug shit head that is Martin Collier, ’What?’
‘Yesterday. It went for a very handsome price.’
Terri shakes her head, telling herself to just keep calm, ’It wasn’t for sale.’
‘Not according to your mother. It was her desire to see it sold.’
Oh and if she could hit him, she’d have… Terri turns away, stops and turns back on him, ’Who’s the buyer?’
Collier smiles, then puts a finger to his lips.
Her hands go on her hips, at least doing her best to look defiant, ’I would like to know.’
‘Yes, I’m pretty sure you would, but it was a very private sale, as I’m sure you can understand.’
Terri looks at the blank space on the wall, ’Martin, it should never have been sold.’
‘Discuss that with your mother. Excuse me.’ A nonchalant turn and he’s gone.
Terri drops the guide in a waste bin, refusing the offer of a tea or coffee from the hawk-like woman standing at a long table.
A soft whisper escapes her lips as she walks towards her car, ’Sorry Dad…’

Gently closing her front door and trembling at the knowledge that number seven is gone and she’ll have a hard job finding out who bought it. There’s no way she’ll find out from Martin, but he knew didn’t he? Mum would have said something to him, and maybe, he was doing his best to just piss her off and that had certainly worked, Terri Hasford isn’t happy and she drops on the couch, her bag next to her and closing her eyes. Now really wouldn’t be the time to lose her temper.
Instead, she thinks about calling mum and finding out just what she was doing.
The phone is placed on the couch, Terri gets up and makes a really strong coffee. Mum can wait. Terri needs to calm down before she goes anywhere near her.

Elbows on her desk and holding her head in her hands and today is one of those days where if anything could go wrong then from what she’s seen on her screen, then wrong might just not really cover it.
Slow breaths and doing her best not to have a heart attack, Jasmine pushes herself back, her hands slapping against her desk and her eyes drawn again to the screen, seeing those numbers and perhaps, making the whole thing worse.
From somewhere distant, she hears beeping and it won’t go away, and as a sound in her ears tells her that it’s her own phone, she picks up, seeing a number on screen and her single worded greeting, ’Mother…’

Celia Hasford stands by the sink. A rather tense phone call to Jasmine and done in the hope that at least the older of her two daughters might just understand what she’s done. Jasmine didn’t really say a lot, a few grunt sounds and then her typical ’Ah ha,’ and that about summed up the conversation, leaving Celia wondering why she’d bothered to phone her in the first place.
Jasmine, with all due respects, is nothing like Terri. Her temper is held within, while Terri’s is that much more ferocious and sometimes, just a little too ready to want to leap out and do some real damage.
Politely put, Terri Hasford is a bit bonkers.
Celia fills the kettle, switches it on and gets another packet of prawn cocktail crisps.
Is she the only one who’s bonkers?

AHP has slumped again. Almost a record. For the last eight months in a row, AHP has proudly gone from three hundred and fifty seven to a rather unhealthy twenty three and a half.
Not figures that Jasmine wants to see, but she knows she can’t offload it and it sits there on screen and almost laughs at her.
AHP isn’t her only account that’s turned out to be a worthless pile of shit, but in it’s own right, the biggest.
Armand House Publishing was doing quite well, up until late last year, then all of a sudden it nose dives and as hard as Jasmine tried to pump it up and sell it on, no-one wants it and because AHP produces a range of hardcore pornography, along with it’s ‘lifestyle’ and ‘DIY’ publications, you couldn’t touch it without wearing gloves or at least some other form of protection.
Some bright spark obviously thought that curtains and porn was a brilliant idea.
From what she can see, it’s just too late and AHP is taking its last breaths.
Then, the delight of her mother and a rather difficult conversation about number seven. All Jasmine could see was those numbers on screen and not really interested in that bloody painting at all, even though mother had promised, it didn’t seem to matter.
The only scary thing here is whether or not Terri would phone her and there would be more shit for her to deal with.
However, as yet, Terri hadn’t called and maybe, she’d escape it.
This time…

Having her ex-husband for lunch, figuratively and not literally, and seeing his rather stiff way of wearing a suit and listening to the way he talks, Jasmine is quite happy that she had divorced him and even though he’s living with Melanie, she doesn’t miss him and this lunchtime rendezvous isn’t her idea.
They had remained friends, albeit somewhat apathetic, Colin isn’t the kind of man you could really say anything bad about.
Okay, he had gone off and shagged Melanie, but he wasn’t the only one. Melanie was codenamed ’The Raleigh Chopper’, because everyone wanted and got a go.
Since she and Colin had got together, there had been no more tales of riding the company bike and Colin did sound very happy and even more so, when Melanie told him she was pregnant.
Jasmine listens to his news and can’t quite swallow the small piece of chicken stuck in her throat.
Reminiscent of AHP, her mother, Terri and all sorts of other wonders, the chicken refuses to go down.
Reaching for her glass of water and that doesn’t really help, either.

Travelling at a reasonable speed across the northern French countryside with the CD player almost on full blast didn’t stop her from getting pulled over for speeding. Then, Terri explaining in perfect textbook French that there was a full moon and her mother would turn into a werewolf didn’t give the tall man in a short sleeved shirt any reason to smile.
Another mistake and an on the spot fine didn’t make Terri smile either.
Wheel spinning away from the scene after and Terri uttering the commonly used four letter word that rhymes with duck.
That did make her smile…

A warning light flickers on. Low fuel and now Terri starts looking for a petrol station. In her haste and a lead foot has slowed her down. From Calais, she’s been virtually non stop, excusing the police officer for the moment, now looking to fill up, because she’s not there yet.
From Saint Quentin, there isn’t much and a succession of ’D’ roads to contend with.
Terri sees a sign that reads ’Vervins 14km’, meaning that mum’s isn’t too far away and on her left, a nicely lit petrol station.
A matter now of a few kilometres and then, well, to quote a well known phrase, ‘Anything can happen…’
Just that narrow uphill drive and a few goats to get around. Not to mention those sheep.

The thing is, after filling up and paying, Terri thinks about what she said to the policeman.
More than just a different sense of humour, he clearly understood every word she’d said and to make matters that little bit more controversial, Terri Hasford wasn’t joking at all.
Mum isn’t the only one…

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Comments by other Members

Joella at 09:04 on 01 September 2010  Report this post
Jim, I really enjoyed reading this. I was hooked from the beginning. The style is engaging, not too heavy and it builds perfectly in the mind. If I have to be picky, then I felt the change from drinking a glass of water to driving in France, was a bit unexplained. The ending is intriguing- not what I expected and I'm still not sure of the connection between Terri's mother and the painting. Is there one?

Regards, Joella.

jim60 at 10:49 on 01 September 2010  Report this post
Hi Joella, thanks for commenting.

There is another part to this, which I've just started.

Hopefully, it'll be in the same "fun" tone as this part.

Thanks again,

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