The next Friday, having arrived early, Carlo sat on the same bench in that same park, his right hand in his pocket holding tight the money he had brought for her. It was chilly. Unwell clouds had been coughed into the sky, smokers splats to block out the sun. Behind him a line of terraces that were blue, into orange, into red, into white, two tall rooms high with skylights scattered into the roofs. Ahead of him young kids with their mums on the slide and swings. A little monkey on the climbing frame.
Fidgeting he looked for her, scanned all the entrances to the park in between continual glances at his watch. She had been on his mind all week. Every word they had said to each other he played out all over again. She had talked about the fella on the telly that had whipped his troozers off en front of dat crowd, an the judges belled im owt, an et was funnee as fuck, and he had asked why, and she had said, cos folks can be right fools, I mean dat cunt were a dad, jus fink wot his kids muz fink on im now.
As the week went on he began to change what he had said. This meant that he changed her answers too, so she said, that maybe they shouldn't have let the man on in the first place because it was clear that he was not right in the head, and he was so nervous, and how desperate he was for some bit of fame that he could humiliate himself like that.
And then Carlo created new conversations with her, sometimes stopping in mid flow to repeat a bit or to change the direction of what they were saying or to alter the meaning. When he was talking to himself the voice he heard in his head mutated from hers to his as they discussed the issues that he believed were important in life, declaring that she was the reason for his living, over and over again, and this would bring her out in a smile, but not before she looked at him strangely because his words were touching her in a place that no one had ever reached.
Carlo had never kissed a girl before, not properly in the flesh, but Daizee he showered in kisses. There was never any fantasies of sexual intercourse with her, even though the desire was there, Carlo felt that he might bedevil what they had and he wanted her to know that his intentions were honourable that he would act with decorum, having been brought up to behave in such a manner. When he got to that moment of his fantasy he would replace her with someone else. His French teacher usually, a petite woman of the Dordogne. She would wear a sleeveless blouse that, when she wrote on the blackboard, would reveal her unshaved armpits that looked liked vaginas. In the summer, when it was hot, her pits would glisten like nectar rich flowers.
Carlo took another look at his watch, it was still early. His hand held her cash tightly in his coat pocket, as if it were a magic charm to summon her. Stretching his feet out he stared at the little children playing on the swings. Mothers were pushing them or standing around talking. A boy fell from the climbing frame and started crying, his mother rushed over and picked him up and the boy was crying uncontrollably so his mother held him tight and spoke to him softly. Carlo could not hear what she said, instead he looked at his watch, stood, walked the circumference of the park, looking at the houses, with their coloured graffiti painted on. Dawdling along he fancied that he was late and she was early, framed her sitting on the park bench waiting, dressed her in a white skirt, then a black one, then jeans, always in the t-shirt with the heart cut into her breasts. When he arrived at the bench he was no longer early but bang on time, looked to each of the entrances to the park to see if he could see her. But she wasn't there.
The traffic piled up at the lights at the junction on the main road, before changing. Vehicles came and went. For ten minutes there was an enormous queue that stretched back 100 metres, which dissolved as quickly as it appeared.
The boy that had fallen from the climbing frame was yelling at his mother because she wanted to go home. She snatched him up and bundled him off screaming. Carlo turned away he saw a red car pull up at the lights. Daizee got out of the passenger side, said something to the driver and shut the door. The traffic lights were still red. She ran in front of the car and crossed the road.
She was only an hour late. She had a black eye.
What happened to you? he asked.
Nuffen, perk o the job, and putting her hand into his, said, shit appenz.
She hung out with him for more than the hour, at one point putting her head on his shoulder, which floundered his conversation causing him to sit stiffly, in a formal Victorian black and white mode, so she took his hand and raised his arm around herself. They sat quietly watching the kids playing as she smoked a cigarette, and when they were done she said, same time, same place, next week?
No, he said, I've got somewhere special to go.
He told her with a smile.
She winced before she said, shure, wotever.
It was then that he thrust the money into her hand, said this is for you and she looked at him like he'd said something hurtful but she took the cash anyway.