Antique Den

Kismet and the Kit-Kat

by
J M Curry

I’d had enough of antique furniture and wanted something modern. (Oh! How we regret some of our more youthful decisions!) I was so pleased when a lady rang to enquire about the condition of ‘the set of Queen Ann dining chairs.’  We arranged a time for her to come to view.

     She arrived in a flurry of garments, bags and umbrella that seemed to occupy the whole space as she squeezed her plumpcious frame through the front door. She was garrulous from the off, her tongue tripping over her syllables faster than a greyhound out of a trap. I was giddy before we made it into the hall.

           

     “Well hello there” the stranger greeted me like an old friend. I managed to duck the looming cheek kiss and responded with as warm a welcome as I could, given her overpowering presence. She wittered on and on about nothing in particular, only pausing for breath when she laid eyes on the chairs. She proceeded to give them a thorough examination and the three minutes twenty-seven seconds of contemplative silence was magical. Then she was off!

         

     “Mmm! Right I’ll have those. Do you have anything else?” She cast an evidently experienced eye around my ‘best room.’ I wasn’t affronted but really did not want to be parting with my grandfather clock. Yes, I was quite sure.  No, really…really ...quite sure. No, no the mantel clock was not for sale either. Nor the painting. No, I didn’t have the table to go with them, just the chairs. Yes, absolutely sure.

 

       In an effort to distract, from these glories, to which I was hitherto obviously blind, I made the mistake of offering her tea.

    “Oh! That’s marvellous deary. I’m fair parched. Coffee would be lovely, milk no sugar would be nice. Do you have a sweetener?” I opened my mouth but she was in there before I could utter a word. “Great if you do. Not to worry if not. You wouldn’t have a biscuit too by any chance, feeling a bit light headed; got to watch my blood sugars you see, and silly me I came straight here instead of having my lunch. Hmm! Like your ornament cabinet, some nice models there. Great original pen and ink that- good frame too. Are those solid silver candlesticks-very nice. Love your collection of bronzes. Is that you on your wedding day? My, that looks lovely where was that? Abroad by looks of it. What a great idea. Lovely day was it?” She paused long enough for me to call my husband, as much as I wanted some space to figure out which question to answer first I realised the woman was a complete stranger with an over enthusiastic eye for my Royal Doulton!

      Hubby came and took the order. I invited her to sit, gesturing to one of our sturdy wingbacks. Instead, she flopped down on our Edwardian chaise, ordinarily reserved for light use by light people! I grimaced as the wooden expanse bowed in the middle as she wriggled into her comfort zone. I sat on our more substantial leather chesterfield opposite her.

      “Oo! He’s not changed much has he? You’re like me though aren’t you love, added a few pounds. Made for comfort not for speed us, eh?” She gave a friendly snicker, pushing back her greying ringlets. She made me feel like a pack mule! Nevertheless, I found myself agreeing and wondered if I really should be offering her a Kit-Kat; given our already mutually ample girths!

My husband returned quickly. He’d obviously used the instant coffee!

       “Oow! Lovely. I adore Kit-Kats.” I was amused at her habit of starting every sentence with a variant exclamation.

       “Aww! Thank you. What a lovely man you are.” She called as my husband retreated through the door.

      “Muh Huh! She chuckled. “I had a bit of an experience with one of these in Marks and Spencer. You know the café in town; they’d just finished the make-over. Very modern! Well, I’d just got my pensioner bus pass and stepped out with me old mum. She’s not too bad on her pins, bless her and she wanted to see the Christmas market, so we took it steady around town. Lovely market it was. Then we had to go to Boots. Sciatica! Do you know how difficult it is to get anal pessaries?”

       I had to admit, it had never been a priority item on my Christmas wish list.

     “Anyway! We had been for a little shop and she had an appointment at the optician; she was going to be half hour so I decided to have a break. Well, that’s where the chocolate bar comes in see. I got myself a coffee and a Kit Kat. Given the time of year the cafe was pretty packed. So I saw this one man at a table and asked could I join him.”

       I doubted that the poor chap was able to give an answer before she descended!

      “So! ‘Yes,’ he says ‘please do’ as I’m putting down my coffee and Kit-Kat on the space opposite him. I noticed he had one of them rock cake things you know and he was just stirring his tea. So, I asks him if he knew where the sugar was. I really meant sweetener but it’s no use asking a man about sweetener, they’ve no clue- so I says sugar to keep it simple for him. They’re always kept in the same place anyway. So, as helpful as can be, he indicates the direction of the condiment station. I thank him and off I toddle. ‘Nice man’ thinks I. Well, I revised that opinion when I came back. What do you think he was doing?”

       If I could have got a word out in the nanosecond she allowed for me to answer, I wouldn’t have been able to hazard a guess.

 

       “Huh! Only sitting there bold as brass eating me bleeding Kit-Kat he was!”

       I part chuckled, part snorted in disbelief at this. “No, surely not!”

      “Yep, bold as brass he was. I couldn’t believe it. So, I don’t say a thing. I sit there and just stare at him. Until he looks a bit uncomfortable and asks, as nice as you please: ‘Did you find the sugar?’ Oh yes, says I – sweet as syrup like. Cos I don’t want to make a scene, do I!”

       In the short time I had come to know this lady I’d already concluded her very presence in a room would create a scene fit for Fawlty Towers, but I nodded sympathetically and kept my views to myself.

      “So! He goes back to sipping his tea and eating my Kit-Kat. He hadn’t even touched his rock cake. Anyway, I finished my coffee sharpish, intending to leave. And then it happened. I just couldn’t control myself any longer. As I stood up, the Devil got me, and I called him a ‘Greedy Sod!’ picked up his rock cake and took a huge bite and plonked it back on his plate!”

        I nearly spilt my tea at this, a mixture of laughter and astonishment walloping me in equal measure. “What did he say?”

       “Huh! Nothing! He just looked pretty shocked. His mouth fell open; revealing the remnants of my Kit-Kat and I stomped off. I collected mum; they’d given her a cuppa in the optician so we decided to head home.  Anyway, we goes to the bus stop and as I got onto the bus I reached into my handbag for my bus pass… and guess what was in there? Yep, my bloody Kit-Kat! True as I’m sitting here.”

        She was very good about the tea I sprayed over her.

       “I know. Terrible ain’t it. That poor man. Must have thought I was a lunatic. Anyway, thanks for the refreshments deary,” she said heading for the door. “My husband will come by later to collect the chairs. Nice to meet you. Byeee.”

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J M Curry is a lawyer living in Wales who enjoys the short story as a vehicle away from the formality of legal language and as a channel for the myriad of ideas that bombard the creative side. J M Curry’s main writing focus is on criminal thrillers and a second novel is in progress.