Chaz is at the door and beckons me outside.
I got the job, hen. He beams so hard his dimples cut his cheeks in half.
That’s fucking fantastic Chaz! I say. Chaz is a hard worker. I mean we both are, we got no real chance otherwise, but I reckon he has a better chance than me being in the construction business. I just make sandwiches.
Mr. Shah’s signed me on for a preliminary project, not far from your fancy sandwich shop. He reckons there’s place for me to grow at Beauville Constructions. Said I look like a lad that’s going places. He grabs me by the hips and thrusts himself into the small of my back. You and me hen, he whispers into the nape of my neck and licks my ear. We’re on our way out of this place. He is going to want sex tonight.
Chaz and I have been together since our GCSEs. He doesn’t smoke or sniff or shoot up, and unlike a lot of the other boys from school who ended up on ASBOS or living under the Tulsey Bridge or being wankers who beat their girlfriends, he’s got backbone. And them dimples, they get me. Mum thinks I’m lucky and I agree.
Chaz says what with all the planning permissions and the Grade 2 listings, he reckons it’ll take at least a year. That’s more for the down payment on the flat.
Flat? What flat? Mum calls out, looking up from her paper. We’ve been standing too close to the door.
Chaz looks at me a didn’t you tell her look in his eyes. I stare back at him, I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to and I didn’t want to upset her.
Mum looks up at us, glasses falling off her nose. She’s on the Sudoku in the Daily Mail. She can’t do much physically anymore, but she spends hours on puzzles- Sudoku, KenKen and the (easy) Crossword. I just wish it wasn’t in the Daily Mail with all its banging on about Brexit and immigrants. But it’s the only paper Mum and Chaz agree on so I let it go.
Fucking lack of privacy, Chaz hisses. Our flat, Jean. Lucy’s and mine. I reckon, in a year, eighteen months tops, we could have our own little place. Lucy was supposed to tell you… He glares at me.
Oh well, it’s out now, and I prepare for the waterworks.
You’re leaving? Mum’s voice wobbles. Where you going?
But that’s way out east.
Only by fifteen minutes Jean.
Why didn’t you tell me, Luce? There they come, the waterworks. Suddenly, I feel terrible.
I was going to Mum, honest, but it never was the right time. Mum, please don’t cry… I look up at Chaz. We’ll come and visit every day, won’t we Chaz? And I’ve spoken with Dr. Vedantham about getting you proper care.
Yeah Jean, one of us will check on you. He smiles at her, and I can see Mum melt a bit. She’s a sucker for kindness that one.
Yes, Mum, we will.
And the doctor’s looking into care, as Lucy said.
And Chaz and I will be fifteen minutes away. It’ll be well over fifteen minutes, but I don’t say that.
Mum nods. She’s trying her best, poor love and I put my arms around her.
After a while she calms down. Your own flat and a nice man to take care of you, Mum looks up between sniffles. I’m so happy for you pet. You’re a lucky girl.
The door chimes open at 12:30 P.M. on the dot.
Hey hen, fancy a cheeky pint? I don’t have to look at the door to know it is Chaz. He has an hour off for lunch and the construction site is two tube stops away which means that he and I travel to work and back every day – me to my job at Au Petits Fours and he to the construction site at Kings Cross station.
He comes in during his lunch hour and we both eat at the café. I make him a cheese ploughman, sometimes with the fancier cheeses, Raclette (which he likes), and once a gorgonzola from Milan that a new supplier had brought in. (For fuck’s sake hen, smells like the devil’s fart!) But today, he came in asking if I fancied a pint.
Course I fancy a cheeky pint. It’s been a while.