Blue and Green
by Brenda K
Yes, Marge, I decide. You look good, girl. He deserves that.
The scarf was a nice touch, with royal blue but mainly green, like the boy's eyes. Green like the extra-large glass of Marge's Lightning I treated myself to just before, with a little more gin than chartreuse in it than usual. A girl needs a little courage sometimes.
I hope this new mascara is as run-proof as they say. Can't be letting the side down, I mutter to myself, fiddling with the slippery silk in the vanity mirror as we approach to make sure the folds fall well.
I get out, telling the boys to be discreet with all these CI5 people around, and take a deep, deep breath. Head up, shoulders back. Sock it to 'em. I'll even try and be polite to the other one. I've promised myself that. Marge, I said to myself, even louts have feelings.
The lout, in fact, is standing there in the middle of the pub with a pint in his hand. Typical, really. A few of his mates are urging him to do... something, judging by the yells of 'C'mon, Bodie.' Some of them are just so coarse. Where's their decorum? What do they want him to do? Tell jokes?
Oh, charming. They're doing limericks. And yes, that's his name. Bodie.
'There was a young agent named Ray," he starts, "whose wallet in pocket would stay,"
A few of them guffaw. I don't appreciate this much but at least it's not obscene. Yet, anyway.
"When it came to the beer, he'd pretend not to hear," Bodie adds. Then there's a silence and he sees me. He's obviously struggling on the last line, and then he sees me and his eyes widen a bit.
"And..." he gets out, before taking a huge and most inelegant swig of his own beer. It makes me remember Doyle drinking my Lightning so ... so elegantly, and tears prickle my eyes.
"And his mates were all welcome to pay," he finishes triumphantly, and there are a few more bawdy laughs. It makes me shudder, but he's seen me now and waves his glass.
"'lo, Marge. Somebody get Marge a drink. Anson - get 'er some gin and... whatever it was."
He's drunk as well. I can see it in his eyes, which are bluer than I remember. Mind, I never used to look at his eyes, now did I?
I don't know why I came now. And, of course, I have to give instructions to the stupid barmaid who seems incapable of understanding how to mix three ingredients in a single glass. Anybody would think they'd never heard of cocktails.
I do hope this mascara's bearing up because I'm now surrounded by dozens of louts, and they're all yelling and swapping stories, breaking off when they see me. I feel quite overwhelmed, and make my way to the beer garden behind. I really didn't expect it to be like this.
I'll just sit down, I think. I'm so shocked by this behaviour I don't think I'll stay. I'll just finish my drink and then I'll go.
Oh, the lout's here. All on his own, suddenly. His head's down and I don't think he sees me at first, but then he does. He notices me after a minute, and - about time - he actually looks as though he's sad. So he should be.
"Nice of you to come," he says, mechanically, but I'm not going to be brushed off like that.
"So uncouth," I tell him sharply. "I would have though you could have found something a little more... flattering than stupid limericks."
Bodie grimaces, which makes him look very loutish indeed.
"It's... shallow," I add. He's not going to get away that easily.
"I know. What would you prefer, Marge? Keats?"
"As if you'd know that," I sneer, although I'm not quite sure what Keats wrote anyway. Never had much time for literature.
He starts quoting, in a slow, serious voice. At first, I think he's sending me up, but no, I don't think so.
"Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell:
No God, no Demon of severe response,
Deigns to reply from Heaven or from Hell.
Then to my human heart I turn at once.
Heart! Thou and I are here, sad and alone;
I say, why did I laugh? O mortal pain!
O Darkness! Darkness! ever must I moan,
To question Heaven and Hell and Heart in vain."
Then he stops, abruptly, and grins a little wryly.
"Sorry, got a bit carried away there."
He looks serious and thoughtful now.
"It was lovely," I say. Because it was. The way he said the bit about 'sad and alone' makes me want to cry as well.
"God, I miss him," he says, almost to himself.
Motherly-Marge takes over without thinking and I pat him on the shoulder.
"There, there," I soothe, although it sounds a bit... well... pathetic, really.
"'s OK," he says, although he's shaking a bit. "Has to be, well... not too sad, all this, y'know? Can't imagine Ray wanting some sort of a miserable send-off. He's probably up there watching us, reminding me to tell you how good you're looking."
"Pull the other one, love," I say. "Black never was my colour."
He tries a chuckle and fails, and somebody inside calls him.
"Better go." He takes a long, deep breath and pastes a smile back on his face that doesn't reach his eyes.
"Off with you," I tell him. "And go and get me another one of these. A big one, this time. Tell them it's my round, but no more limericks that put my lovely boy in such a bad light."
"He wasn't that mean," Bodie says, suddenly. "I didn't mean it. I'd buy him drinks for ever more if it'd bring him back."
"I know, love," I say, realising that his eyes are full of grief now. They're the same blue as the one on my scarf.
Blue and green. My lovely boy's eyes and those of somebody who loved him. Not like I did, but loved him anyway.
"You know what?" I say, dredging up a smile. "You might still be a lout, but you had good taste in friends. And he could have done worse."
I hope the mascara's holding.
"Thanks, darlin'," he grins back. "Appreciate that."
He gives me a kiss, briefly and jerks his head. "Come on in. No point brooding all on your own."
Oh, to hell with mascara. I follow Bodie back inside.
"And when I said big," I inform him, "I mean a BIG drink."
-- THE END --