dessert fox

Rose is slumped in her chair, asleep.
‘She just finished a big, big lunch,’ says Pearl, the live-in carer. And to emphasise the point, she puffs out her cheeks, widens her eyes and makes a ‘heap’ mime with her hands.
I know what she’s had for dessert, at least, because Rose’s husband Lonnie is still patiently working his way through it, his bulbous nose a half-inch from the skin of the custard. He’s chomping and lip-smacking so loudly I could shut my eyes and imagine I was in a stall with a donkey – that, and the range of other farmyard noises that roll out of him every now and again.
Pearl shakes her head.
‘It is always the same at mealtimes,’ she says. ‘Loud.’
I stroke Rose gently on the hand to wake her up, then set to work taking her blood pressure, temperature and so on. The whole while, Lonnie shovels his way through his bread pudding and custard. He finishes about the same time as me, wearily pushing the bowl aside, leaning back in the chair, sighing and belching and pawing at his straining belt like a sad troll who’d eaten one too many villagers.
I sit down to write up my notes. Rose is asleep again.
‘Exciting life, ‘ain’t it?’ says Lonnie, staring at me with a pouchy hang to his face.
‘Depends what you’re used to.’
‘Desert fox,’ he says, tapping his chest.
‘Dessert fox?’
‘What?’
‘Nothing.’
He stares at me balefully, then carries on.
‘He was a madman, n’all’ he says at last.
‘Who was?’
‘Montgomery.’
‘Oh?’
‘He comes strutting up like the cock o’the walk, and he says to us Good news chaps. You’re going home. Only trouble is, you’ve got to fight your way through Europe to get there, starting in Sicily.” Mind you, they were all like that. You had two enemies, the Germans and the officers. And of the two of ‘em, the officers were the ones you had to watch the most. Thing was, if you was rich in them days, you had three ways to go. If you were bright you went in the Church. Not so bright, the Civil Service.  Absolute idiot, your family bought you a commission in the army.’
‘Nothing changes.’
He laughs, but I’m not sure he heard me.
‘I was a gamekeeper before I got called up,’ he says.
‘Good shot, were you?’
‘What?’
‘Gamekeeper. A good shot. I bet they liked that in the army.’
‘I shot a few people. We all did. It was the war. That was our job.’
‘Must have been awful.’
He sighs again.
I carry on writing.
‘Someone said I should write a book about the whole thing,’ he says after a while.
‘Why don’t you?’
‘Why don’t I?’
‘Yes.’
‘Nah!’ he says. ‘I don’t want to get anyone into trouble.’

2 thoughts on “dessert fox

  1. I don’t think Lonnie has to worry too much about getting people into trouble,most will be long gone.Although I’m sure it would be an interesting read.

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  2. It was amazing how he perked up when he started talking about his experiences. Rose was still half-asleep, but then she was ahead of him on the lunch front (and wasn’t wearing her hearing aids).

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