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Rose Lane Ch20

by Jubbly 

Posted: 09 February 2004
Word Count: 2491

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Chapter Twenty

Dear Melanie,

Oh you won't believe this, but I was out walking the dogs on the beach when I saw this guy coming towards me, about my age, he had two poodles as well. So we got talking and I thought he looked familiar so I told him my name and the dogs names and he said his name was Douglas and his dogs were called Zippy and Godfrey,
(unusual) then I said, Douglas? Cause he looked very familiar. You're not Duggie Warren by any chance are you?
Turns out he is. I went to school with his sister Susan Warren and he was in the same class as your mother. I told him she'd passed away and he said he was sorry but I don't think he really remembered her very much. He lives up here now, been here about 6 months but I've never seen him. Said Susan's moved up to Cairns, I couldn't bear to live up there, too hot. He's a widower , wife died in her sleep two years ago , I wouldn't mind going like that, a heart condition apparently, and his kids are in Sydney. He's offered to come round and mow my lawn, I said I'd do him a cold meat salad if he did. Quite exciting all this at my age, we're just acquaintances of course. I don't want any of that nonsense at my time of life. It's been a good ten years since my Nevill passed away and I hadn't seen him for 7 years before that, not with his wife being so ill, it was always so difficult for us.
Anyway look forward to hearing from you and hope you're having a good summer. Love to the boys.

Oh I nearly forgot. They think they might know who that dead body is. Process of elimination apparently, after checking the missing persons records. Now they're waiting for forensic tests to confirm, anyway they think it might be a young girl called Cheryl Burgess, been missing for years but her family reckon they thought she was in India. Bit strange if you ask me, I mean you've been away for years now but we all know where you are, imagine not even knowing where your niece or daughter is? They interviewed her sister on the news, she was a bit off her head probably a drug addict, looked like one. They reckon she's been buried there for about 25 years. Did you know her? Don't remember a Cheryl at all, there was that other girl, what was her name? The one with the twin brothers, I remember her, you said she was a bit stuck up.

Melanie was relieved, yes tragic for poor Cheryl Burgess who ever the hell she was but at least it wasn't anyone she knew. Melanie thought hard, she trawled through her old programmes and put her memory through back flips in an effort to recall anyone called Cheryl Burgess, but no, nothing. Good, at least it was all over, surely she wasn't disappointed, deflated now that she didn't know a real live murder victim as Jean would say. And what of Jean so thrilled to have met a man. Melanie thought back to the young Jean of her early childhood, the bleached blonde, bronzed Jean who zipped all over town in her stylish White VW Beetle, always a dog in the back and at one stage, albeit briefly, a very small surfboard strapped to the top. Jean lived the sunny life in those days, she wore bikinis in deep contrast to Pattie who wouldn't be caught dead with out a full piece with attached frilly cotton skirt. Jean used to be such fun always organising family games and outings, cooking up impromptu BBQs and forever baking cakes for all occasions. But somewhere down the long and often badly drawn line of life, Jean had lost her light.

It was time to move on thought Melanie and time to get out of London, Melanie's plaster had been taken off a few days earlier and her skinny white arm deserved a break, pardon the pun.

"This won't hurt", said the Asian doctor as she sawed through the plaster weighing heavily on Mel's arm. The mummified sleeve broke in two releasing her scrawny pale sun starved limb, Mel was reminded of the cocoon wrapped around silkworms , protecting them from the world until it was time to fly away free as a moth straight into any beckoning light bulb and instant death.

"You'll need to get regular physio , looks great though, keep off the roller blades for a while though." The doctor winked and Mel gave her a big cheesy grin. "Sarcastic bitch." she thought.

Melanie pulled into the drive of Sarah's cottage and surveyed the welcoming sight. The building dated from the 16th century, though naturally Sarah had the whole house restored to her taste.

It was after nine when Mel arrived but still quite light, she took her luggage out of the boot and walked up the little crooked path to the door. One over night bag, once upon a time it would have been impossible for Melanie to go anywhere, even for just one night with so little luggage. The make up bag alone weighing in at a normal persons entire baggage allowance . Her hair dryer, curling tongs, electric curlers, then there was the assortment of clothes, day wear, night wear, special occasion stuff, shoes, shoes and more shoes. Then she had the kids and it was all baby bags and travel cots and numerous changes of baby clothes and sick cloths, then toys and games, and videos, and gameboys and nintendos and playstations and anything Matthew wanted of course. But here she was all alone for a couple of days with one nightie, one pair of jeans, a pair of shorts , two summer dresses and a light denim jacket, damn she thought remembering she'd only brought the Nike sandals she stood up in as footwear.
Sod it, I'm not going anywhere anyway. The village pub was only a quarter of a mile away but Melanie was quite contented to stay put.
She wrestled with the clunky key in the latch and finally after kicking the door hard it sprung open. A musty smell welcomed her into a small lobby where an ancient wooden settle greeted her.
Old hats, wellies and parkas were draped over it and when opened it revealed an assortment of shoes and gardening tools, alas none were her size. To her left was the living room, two old worn sofas and a couple of armchairs made up the furniture. A round wooden coffee table littered with books and magazines in one corner while bookshelves lined the walls, sadly very few books occupying them. The room directly off the lobby was a walk through dining room, with an impossibly large table taking up most of the space and a clutter of different types of chairs - none matching, lined themselves up on each side of the table in readiness for the next diner party to commence. She followed the door into a tiny country kitchen leading to the backdoor and garden. A light and airy conservatory had been converted from a former scrappy side garden which served more as a storage area for rusty wheelbarrows and orphaned soccer balls. Several cane armchairs and a television set occupied the space now.
Upstairs there was a fairly basic bathroom and a corridor with three bedrooms leading off it. The main bedroom smelled of Sarah, her perfume lingered long after she'd left the room, in this case weeks. The two guest rooms were about the same size, one had a double bed the other bunk beds, for when Alice brought a friend to stay. Mel set up her canvas and paint box in the child's bedroom, it had the most light and the least clutter.

She brought in her box of groceries from Waitrose, milk, coffee, chocolates, cheese, bread and several bottles of good Australian wine. She drank so much of the stuff she felt it was her way of paying tax to her birth country. One packet of 10 Marlboro lights in yet another pathetic attempt to give up smoking and her mobile phone charger. Mel decided to sleep in the second bedroom, as much as she loved Sarah she didn't want to breathe her in night and day which is exactly what would happen if she stayed in her room.

She popped a CD into the stereo, one of Sarah's or was it Pete's, Santanas most recent album drifted out of the speakers. She opened a bottle of wine, not exactly chilled but not bad all the same. Then she sat back on the soft comfy sofa , closed her eyes and allowed the ghosts to visit.

Brian's curly dark hair was starting to grey at the sides, just above his ears. He was in his late thirties now, or so he said, you could never really be sure about anything with Brian, least of all his total devotion and commitment to the Rose Lane Musical Society.

On this very sombre occasion he chose scarlet crushed velvet trousers and a black, calico smocked shirt , after all he still had his reputation to think of. The members took their seats on the narrow hard backed chairs provided and waited. They didn't know what for exactly but when they arrived for rehearsal and Maureen said Brian would be making a little speech first, they knew.... they would have to pay attention.

Brian paced up and down in the corridor outside the rehearsal room, puffing furiously cigarette after cigarette. Occasionally he'd stand still, very still and look up at the ceiling as if waiting for some sort of divine inspiration, then when none came he'd begin his solo march of anxiety all over again . Finally, his fourth cigarette flung to the floor and stomped out with panache, he entered and strode purposefully to the centre of the room.

"Uhem, mm." after just the right amount of affected throat clearing, he launched into his address.
"As you all know I've been with the Rose Lane Musical society for a number of years now and throughout that time I have been very happy indeed. I have cherished every single production I've had the great fortune to over see."
His voice caught in his throat and for a split second Melanie thought he was going to cry, but then he took a visible, deep breath which strengthened his resolve and he continued.

" Over the years, the many years, there have been so many marvellous shows, Half a sixpence, Gypsy, the King and I, Carousel, Music in the air, to name but a few."
"Oklahoma!" shouted Mr Fletcher, desperate the production featuring his cameo as 'the worlds oldest blacksmith' wouldn't be omitted.
Brian, smiled and nodded, "Of course, of course, so many, and so appreciated by so many. Indeed those of you who recall our review of Mame in the Wentworth courier will be proud to call yourself members of the Rose Lane Musical Society."
He was in his stride now, he'd grown accustomed to defending the society over the years, fielding sarcastic remarks at work and even at home. He was their campaigner and still loyal despite the wounds from the many Ceasars knives that had rained over his compact body these past few weeks, metaphorically speaking of course.
"Why do we go on when all the odds seemed stacked against us? When we're so tired we can hardly get up in the morning, when our bosses are threatening us with dismissal if we're late again or fall asleep at our desk just once more, our families sick of not being able to see us because we've a rehearsal, our friends and loved ones impatient when we choose the society over their birthdays. I'll tell you why, because we have to , we have no choice, just like the poor unfortunate sod who had the great mishap of being struck in the head by a pair of false teeth dropped from an aeroplane, we too have been bitten from a great height."

The members tittered and looked to one another for some sort of reassurance that this was all a big joke, but none came.

"Now I don't know if any of you have heard , but in case you haven't - this show, this stupendous production of Sweethearts is to be my last."

Brian paused for the audible gasp amongst the assembled and sure enough it came.
Chloe from the chorus sobbed and Christine Maguire, wailed 'No, no, over' and over again into her hankie.

"But I'm off to greener pastures Duckies, and for any of you who are interested in following me and my so called unorthodox methods of artistic creativity in this circus we call show business," He flashed a look of derision in Maureen's direction. "Then you'll be thrilled to hear I'm starting drama workshops in my studio in Randwick. If you'd like to be a part of this new innovating and exciting project then please feel free to take one of my leaflets. , Philip if you please."

Well, well, what a performance, now we know what happened to Eve Harrington.

Maureen's tight little mouth pursed and the veins in her neck leapt out, so visible they looked like they could suddenly burst through her skin and take on an independent wriggling life of their own. Her piggy eyes narrowed and if a small child was told Maureen was in fact a dragon dressed as a lady, then no doubt the child would cower in preparation of the lethal fumes which would surely spurt forth from her mouth and engulf them at any moment .

Brian carried on unaware or perhaps absolutely aware and lapping up every minute.
The leaflet, typed up by Philip of course, read.

The workshops stress performance skills acquired through psychophysical processes. The performer will be stripped naked, metaphorically and everything will be exposed for the sake of attaining the perfect structured improvisation.

Blah, blah. What the hell? To most, it looked as though Brian was going to be teaching an intensive course on absolute garbage.

"I'll be in contact just as soon as things are up and running and once more please let me remind you what a pleasure it's been working with such a talented, group of selfless people. Au revoir."

He bowed in an extreme token gesture, taking the time to engage everyone in his leave-taking. When done, he and Philip left, just like that. He was gone and so was the soul of the Rose Lane Musical Society, gone.... forever.

"Well" said Vera, tilting her eye glasses forward so that they came to rest on the bridge of her nose. "Have we got anyone else who can direct?"

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 22:07 on 09 February 2004  Report this post
You see, if you didn't say Brain was leaving in the last chapter, his speech would have a lot more impact as the reader would learn at the same time as the cast.
I can't believe we don't know who Cheryl Burgess is! I'm sure you've got something clever up your sleeve.
The Jean bits (hi out there!) are great fun. Did that guy call his dogs after the characters on Rainbow!!

I like the luggage descriptions - so true! + Sarah's smell + this line:

Then she sat back on the soft comfy sofa , closed her eyes and allowed the ghosts to visit.

pardon the pun.= this is funny but who is saying it?

Bonne nuit

Jubbly at 06:58 on 10 February 2004  Report this post
Hi Elspeth, we didn't get Rainbow in Oz. The pun line, is my invisible narrator I guess, I'll check. Take your point about Brian leaving etc, I did notice that when I read it back. Oh yes, lots of tricks up my leotard sleeves, will post tomorrow at this rate you'll have read the whole book by the end of the month.

Cheers to you


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