Making friends. Part 1.

Jeff sat on the arm of the sofa and glared at the new friend Susan had acquired. She was a worryingly frail, goblin like creature with disproportionately long arms that unnerved him. She wore glasses and an expression of unwavering enthusiasm. She went to scratch his head but he recoiled and frowned. He was unimpressed. She had boney little fingers and he’d really rather not be fondled by them. He’d eaten a Twiglet once and the unpleasantness of the experience never left him, so rather than bite marmite flavoured digits he opted to move away and scratch his post.
Jeff was only vaguely aware of the concept of evolution (he’d seen Richard Dawkins on TV arguing with a Vicar like he does), he understood it in as much as there was a food chain of which he was head. He’d use his raw power and intuitive hunting techniques to slay creatures smaller than him and his raw sexual power to extort food out of larger creatures, such as Susan. He pondered that, in the case of this woman, an allegedly superior being, why didn’t all of it’s teeth fit inside it’s mouth? She didn’t appear to be an elephant or a wild boar and yet she had a whole row of tusks protruding from her bottom jaw. Regrettably, that also meant that a lot of saliva would collect on her bottom lip and hang there, just threatening to release itself and drench whatever was beneath it. Potentially him if she got a hold of him.

“That’s it” said the friend in agreement to some bullshit that Susan was banging on about. Something to do with having a bizarre fantasy in which Keith Chegwin takes her on a weekend break to Centre Parcs. They’d stay in a villa and lounge on the sofas listening to 80’s pop and marvelling at how close the squirrels get to the patio doors whilst suppressing the knowledge that the squirrels go there for food not companionship.

He decided he’d had enough of looking at this monumental meeting of minds and retired to the kitchen to only eat the brown variety of a bowl full of multicoloured biscuits.

“That’s it” he heard again, this time in agreement with some rubbish about ghosts. He could hear Susan mumbling away about a haunting she’d experienced, the story seemed to be going down an absolute storm as all Jeff could hear was “that’s it” said repeatedly and excitedly in reply. This was enough to pique Jeff’s curiosity. Can’t she say anything else? Just what is it that “that” is? He returned to the doorway of the living room and peered in, after about thirty seconds and hearing the phrase “that’s it” eleven times, he realised it was just a reflex. She didn’t care what Susan was saying, she was just ecstatic that whatever it was, it was being said to her. It was almost as if “that’s it” was encouragement, this woman actually wanted to Susan to talk.
The realisation was enough to baffle the fuck out of Jeff and he went back into the kitchen to mull it over.

Susan first met Julie in a charity shop. Neither of them had gone in to buy anything, it was just pissing it down with rain and neither of them wanted to get wet. As they both made it inside, Julie said “that’s it” and Susan nodded and tutted as if to say “bloody weather”. She contemplated shaking her fist at the sky until she realised it wasn’t 1804 and such a gesture could me misconstrued as an act of aggression.
Susan immediately noticed just how difficult Julie was to look at. She was like a Magic Eye picture, she almost felt as if she should squint in the hope that a normal face might suddenly appear through the Dodge RAM of a grill she had going on. They stood for a while in politely awkward, quintessentially British silence whilst Susan repeatedly reminded herself not to stare. It slowly became clear that one of them would have to speak lest they stand in the doorway of a charity shop for the rest of their lives.

“That’s it” Julie said

“That’s what?” enquired Susan, smiling as politely as she could

“Rain” said Julie

“Yes. It is. They did say it would rain” replied Susan, using ‘They’ to describe the seemingly anonymous group of people that make weather predictions

“They did. They said we’d see some hail at some point” said Julie, immediately understanding ‘They’ and their role in weather prophecy. In their world, ‘They’ is any large group of people, the name and function of which they cannot be bothered to learn/remember.

At that moment, it began to hail.

“That’s it” said Julie

“Still, it’s always good to have a bit of rain. If you don’t have rain, you don’t get the grain” continued Susan, not a having a fucking clue what she was talking about.

“True” said Julie

It was narrow in the doorway and, as it wasn’t Susan’s shop, there was a constant stream of customers ready and willing to rummage through mothballed clothes and old books that smelled like dust. A man with a swollen neck entered and there was an awkward shuffling as the sheltering women rearranged themselves, their bags and their umbrellas. He politely excused himself and made his way to the counter.

“That’s it” said Julie as if to signal that the rearrangement had successfully come to a close and that both her and Susan were happy with their new positions.
They resumed their silence.
“He’s got a big neck” she noticed loudly “could be a goitre”
Susan nodded politely, worried that the man heard and saw her nodding at the suggestion, she looked over at Julie but as she was staring out of the window, she was unsure whether the comment was for her benefit or not so she just said “yeah”.

The back and forth of stunted politeness continued until they eventually ended up in Susan’s living room. Susan couldn’t ever recall actually inviting Julie back to her house but there she was, sat on her sofa, dribbling like a child with learning difficulties. She offered to make them both another cup of tea, something which Susan readily accepted.

Jeff sat on the sideboard and watched like a scientist studying a lab animal. Julie had, of her own volition, decided to make a cup of tea. In someone else’s house. Susan didn’t tend to have that many guests, she’d get a weekly visit from a medium but that woman always drank some kind of homemade brew out of a floral thermos and would always decline a cup. Jeff was aware of the social convention with regards to tea making but, on second thoughts, it didn’t really surprise him that much to see Susan content to sit on her arse whilst someone else did the work for her.
He was intrigued by Julie’s technique. She seemed to find it necessary to narrate every step in the tea making process, signalling the end of each process with “that’s it”.

“Yep, just get the cups out, that’s it, put them down there. Got to get the milk, pour it in there, yeah, that’s it. The kettle’s boiling, DON’T PUT YOUR FACE OVER THE STEAM JULES, that’s it, wait for it to click”

The kettle clicked.

“That’s it, pour it in the mugs, give it a stir, THREE DINGS ON THE SIDE OF THE MUG JULES, ding, ding, ding, that’s it, DON’T FORGET TO TAKE THE TEA BAG OUT, that’s it, remember what happened the first time? Thought it was a little meal but it wasn’t, no. Take the cups into the living room that’s it”

Julie returned bearing two freshly made cups of tea, she gave one to Susan “that’s it” and sat down with one herself “that’s it”. They sat in silence for a moment whilst Julie tentatively sipped away at her boiling mug of tea. It didn’t occur to her to wait until the liquid had cooled slightly, no, she’d much rather get her massive gums around it whilst it was still molten regardless of whether the slurping was rude or not.

Jeff sat in the doorway observing, waiting for the conversation to resume, intrigued as to how it was going to play out.


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