Book Jacket

 

rank 4024
word count 20731
date submitted 21.10.2008
date updated 29.10.2010
genres: Fiction, Romance, Popular Culture, ...
classification: moderate
incomplete

Best Man Falling

Patrick Driscoll

Probably the worst best man in the world...

 

When career slacker Eddie Corrigan is asked to step up to the plate and be the best man at his friend's wedding, he knows he should feel honoured like any normal person. But therein lies the glitch: Eddie is not a normal person. So begins Operation Understudy - Eddie's plan to shirk responsibility at all costs.

Along the way, he encounters the beautiful and complex Marla DiMitri, and after a night of complicated, all-strings-attached sex, finds himself embroiled in a tangled web of family deception. Eddie just doesn't have time for tangled webs of family deception; the wedding is drawing closer, and his responsibilities remain firmly unshirked!

But also along the way, he finds solace in Marla's company, and learns to come to terms with the death of his mother and the gap it has left within his own family.

Best Man Falling is a raucous, knock-about comedy of embarrassment, set amidst the sizeable Anglo-Irish, working-class community of Northampton. But it is also a story of redemption, of a man overcoming the dark obstacles of his past and discovering that, sometimes in life, you just have to let go before you can get a grip.

 
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tags

best man, comedy, complicated sex, friendship, guinness, wedding

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5.                                                            Dancing Indiscrete

 

3.)    Skip Town

I sit looking at what I’ve written, playing the scenario over.  I couldn’t just disappear, of course.  That would be awful.  But I could book a holiday somewhere and throw my passport into the sea, tell Dave I lost it.  By the time they repatriated me it could all be over and done with.  Not Europe, mind.  You can fly Europe on a library-card these days.  They’d have me back in no time.  But nowhere too dangerous, either.  I saw a documentary on Channel Five about Thai prisons the other night and it was enough to put a person off for life (which, I suppose, is the whole point).  Or was it Malaysia?  Probably best just to cut out the Oriental places altogether, play it safe. 

America, perhaps.  Good old Uncle Sam.  They speak English over there, at least.  Fewer complications with the officials.  Although don’t they still execute people in some states?  I should probably find out which states execute people and which ones don’t before setting off.  But then, why would they execute me for losing my passport?  Seems a bit harsh.

Christ, I’m a selfish bastard.  A horrible, selfish bastard.

I’m lying on my sofa in my favourite slouch clothes, my cotton trackie-bottoms and hooded jersey.  I don’t wear the hoodie out and about these days.  People tend to think you’re going to steal something.  But it’s probably the most comfortable piece of clothing I’ve ever owned, so I saved it for my Saturday afternoon doss-abouts.  The Cobblers match is playing in the background: Carlisle away.  The Internet connection isn’t so great here, and the radio-feed keeps interrupting, but I’ve learned that if I put the laptop on top of the fridge I catch about fifty seconds of every minute, which is about as good as it gets.  IT Pete nearly shat a baby when I told him I thought it might be the fridge keeping the laptop cool.  I’ll never hear the end of that one.

The intercom chimes and I go to answer it.  It’s Kate, presumably with Jess and Dad in tow, so I buzz them up.  Whilst I wait for them to come up the stairs, I give the place a quick once-over, check there’s nothing embarrassing lying about.

“Hellooo,” Kate coos cheerily as she comes through the door.  She hurries over and hugs me, rubs her knuckles gently against my head.

I give Jess a hug too, but decide to draw the line at hugging Dad.  Bit too weird.

Kate’s looking pretty as usual, wrapped in a grey winter coat and scarf.  She has these great tumbling curls of hair, chocolate-coloured, and she’s forever throwing them about, tucking them behind her ears, an infectious kind of liveliness always buzzing around her.  It’s fair to say that most of my mates fancied Kate growing up, with Dave fronting the queue.  Of course, Kate didn’t have the slightest of interest in any of them (although at time I put this down to the fact that they were all knobs rather than the fact they all had knobs). 

I suppose Jess is the guy of the two, if that’s really the way it works.  She’s certainly the most tomboyish of the pair, although oddly she wears a lot of pink.  Her hair is kept in a neat little bob, and she looks quite short and squat when standing next to Kate.  If it were a straight relationship you’d probably say Kate was out of Jess’ league, although perhaps the leagues work differently for lesbians – like in rugby union, or cricket.

“Good to see you, Eddie,” Jess says, in her light Edinburgh brogue.

“You too, Jess.  How’s London?”

“Yep, still there.”

I always ask Jess how London is, and she always tells me it’s still there - a pretty stupid habit on the part of both of us, I suppose, but a little ritual we’ve come to enjoy over the years.

“What’s the score, son?” Dad asks, noticing the commentary coming from the kitchen.

Dad’s not wearing his cardigan today, I notice.  Maybe Kate made him take it off before coming out.  Today he’s wearing a white shirt, a pair of reasonably new-looking jeans, and his favourite pair of John Lobb’s, which he’s even gone to the trouble of giving a good polish, by the looks of things.  He’s left the shirt un-tucked, and it covers up his beer-belly quite nicely.  Kate and Jess most probably did a ‘Trinny and Susannah’ on him before leaving the flat.

“Nil-nil,” I tell Dad, and he gives a no-news-is-good-news kind of nod.

Kate starts to walk about the flat, picking things up - a plate, a fork, a cup of tea that I hadn’t quite finished, actually – before taking them through to the kitchen.  I like to think of myself as pretty house-proud these days, but clearly not quite house-proud enough for Kate.  To be honest, if the place was immaculate I guess she’d still find something to pick up.  She’s been playing mother for so many years now that I suppose it’s hard to let such a thing go.

“How was The Boathouse?” I ask Dad.

“Pretty busy.”

“Saturday afternoon,” I say.  “Gotta expect it.”

“Yeah.”

“Food alright?”

“Yeah, nice steak.  Cooked it just right.”

“Good.”  I don’t really know what else to add to this, except to perhaps tell Dad not to bother applying for the Sunday Times food-critic position any time soon.

“Listen, Eddie,” Kate says, coming back in from the kitchen.  “We’ve got some news.”  She looks to Jess, grinning wildly and clapping her hands together.  “We’re going to be having a baby!”

Adopting a baby,” Jess adds quickly, before I can make a wisecrack about it.

Although really I’m too stunned to be wisecracking.  Kate having a baby?  I didn’t see that one coming.  I wrote that one off back when the Tories were still in office.

“Really?” I say.  “Well, that is some news.”

“I didn’t want to tell you over the phone.  But we’ve been so excited about it.”

“And they…let you do that these days, do they?” I ask.

“Yes, Eddie,” Kate sighs.  “They let us have bank accounts now and everything.”

“I mean, I just wasn’t sure…you know, where the law stands, I mean.  Not really been keeping abreast of the news lately.”

“It should all be fine,” Kate says.  “Not to say there won’t be some obstacles in our way, but as long as we can prove we’re decent people I don’t see what should hold us back.”

“And if all else fails,” I suggest, “you could always adopt a baby from one of these third-world countries like the movie-stars do.  Scotland, say.”

“Oh, fucking hilarious, Eddie,” Jess sighs, but she’s smiling.

“No, well, that’s good news, guys,” I say.  “Great news.  I’m really pleased for you.  Hey, I could be like the father figure!”

Kate and Jess are looking at one another dubiously.  “Well, they do say that’s important,” Kate murmurs.  “And, of course, there’ll be Dad, too.”

I look to Dad, who appears mystified by the whole thing.  He’s wearing the kind of expression you see on soldiers of the First World War in those old, grainy newsreels.  He’s got trench-face.  I can’t imagine how he must have taken the news the first time around.

“So, when do you get it, then?” I ask.

“Oh, it’s a long process we have to go though,” Kate explains.  “And we’re still only at the beginning.  It’ll be ages yet.  But I thought you should both know from the outset.”

“Well, yeah.  You know, good luck with it all and everything.”

“Thanks, Eddie.  I knew you’d be pleased for us.” 

Kate and Jess both hug me, so that I’m sandwiched between them. 

Dad makes his way unsteadily over to the sofa and sits down.  He’s probably had a few bitters in The Boathouse to calm his nerves.

“Tea?” I ask, once I’ve been released.

I receive an order of two teas and a coffee and go through to the kitchen.  Kate follows behind me.

“So, Dave’s getting married, eh?” she asks.  “Has he asked you to be the best man?”

“Yep,” I say, flicking on the kettle.

“That’s great.  You must be excited about it.”

“Yeah, it’s…pretty exciting.”

“You out tonight celebrating?”

“No, I’ve got this thing.  A dinner thing.”

“Like a date dinner thing?”

“No, not really a date.  More like a…well, I’m not sure what you’d call it, actually.”

“But with a woman?” Kate asks.

“And her parents.”

“Her parents!  Sounds pretty serious.”

“Oh, yeah,” I say over the roaring of the kettle.  “It’s pretty damn serious alright.”

 

 

Marla was right; Benedict’s is a bloody nice restaurant.  So nice, in fact, that it’s not altogether apparent what style of cuisine it provides – just something vaguely European and served with an element of disdain.  I’m glad I put the shirt on now – my proper going-out shirt.  Yet still I feel broadly inadequate.

The restaurant itself is traditional fare: a small room, low-roofed and heavily shadowed, with orangey orbs of candlelight emanating from the six or so tables dotted about.  Intimate, you might call it.  Too intimate, if you happen to be dining with the Dimitris.  The windows are draped with thick, ornately patterned curtains that belong to another century.  Decorating the walls are curious instruments from a lost age, the kind you can only hazard a guess as to what purpose they ever served all those years ago.  The one above my head looks disconcertingly like a Victorian bedpan.  Who puts bedpans where people are eating?  I don’t care if it came off the bloody Ark; it’s still a place where a people used to crap.

“Nice, isn’t it, Eddie?” Marla says, rubbing my knee.

“Yeah, it’s lovely.”

“Would you believe you can actually get frogs’ legs here?” Jean asks, flipping through the menu.  “Have you ever had frogs’ legs before, Eddie?”

“Can’t say I have, Jean.”

“I’ve heard they taste like chicken,” she advises.

“Really?  They’re always saying human beings taste like chicken, aren’t they?”  It’s supposed to be a quirky little conversation starter, but it just comes out sounding deranged.

Jean peers over the top of her spectacles at me.  “Is that so?”

“So they say,” I mutter, floundering under her glare.  “Cannibals, I mean.”

“Like those rugby chaps in the Andes,” Robin chuckles, grinning mischievously.  “Ate the buttocks first, you know.  Makes sense, I suppose.”

“Robin, really!” Jean gasps.  “Hardly talk for the dinner table, dear.”

I share a little conspiratorial glance with Robin, and we smile at one another.  Getting in there with the old man.

The place seems remarkably quiet for a Saturday night.  On the table next to ours is a young loved-up couple, leaning into one another and whispering sweet-nothings back and forth.  Two middle-aged men are stationed tightly in the corner, one playing a keyboard and the other a guitar.  They look bored and actually in pain, as though each note they play is another death-knell for any dreams of a real career in music they may have been falsely harbouring.  I guess they never figured it would turn out this way.  The guy next to me is flirting and giggling, like he’s fallen out of the love-tree and caught every ounce of sap on the way down.  He’s staring deeply into his girlfriend’s eyes, playing footsie, and generally making me feel like I should be doing things a little more boyfriend-ish rather than just sitting here like a spare part.  But I’m hoping to warm to the role as the evening progresses.  I owe it to Marla, after all, what with the price I’m coming at tonight.

“So, Eddie, what is it your parents do?” asks Jean.

“My dad’s in the construction business,” I reply.  “Although he’s semi-retired now.”  I feel like the biggest arsehole for lying, but out it comes anyway.

“I suppose that’s where you picked up the bug yourself.”

“I suppose it is,” I agree.  “Dad’s always saying he couldn’t keep me off the Lego bricks as a kid.”

Jean and Robin laugh graciously at this.  It might be bullshit, but it feels good.  Feels like I’m finally getting into my flow.  Anyway, what does it matter?  This whole situation is bullshit, after all.  What harm will sprinkling a little more on top do?

“And your mother?”

“My mum, she…err…passed away.”  Passed away.  Like I’m a bloody priest or something.

“Oh, gosh, I am sorry, Eddie,” says Jean, and she seems quite genuine about it.  “Was it recently?”

“No, no.  I was nine.”

Marla’s looking at me strangely now.  I guess she’s trying not to look shocked, because it really is something she should already know.  She reaches across and squeezes my hand, and this seems perfectly genuine too.  I squeeze back and give her a little smile. 

Marla’s looking incredibly good tonight.  She’s put on a little black sparkly number - for whose benefit, exactly, I don’t know, but I had to refrain from appearing knocked back when I first set eyes on her.

“That must have been hard,” Jean says.

Trying not to look knocked back at the sight of your pain-in-the-arse daughter, Jean?  Yes, I suppose it was.

“Oh, you know, I was young,” I reply.  “I think it was harder on my sister, really.”

“Your sister’s the eldest?”

“Yes.  By three years.  She lives in London these days, so I don’t see so much of her.  I saw her today, though.  She told me she’s having a baby, in fact.”

Really?  Oh, that’s fabulous news.  How far gone is she?”

I consider this one.  “Only a few weeks, I think.”

“Saw this documentary on TV the other night,” Robin pipes up.  “This man was allegedly having a baby.  Of course, it all turned out to be this enormous whopper.  But he had the lot of them going!  Reporters from all over the world had come to see him.  Ha, what a wheeze!”

This pretty much kills the conversation of Kate’s baby, and we get on with the business of ordering our food.  I pluck for some kind of chicken dish cooked in a mystery sauce.  From the prices on the menu, I see how they can afford to be so empty.  A meal for four should just about cover the month’s rent on the place.  Then Robin orders up a bottle of champagne and I decide not to worry about the cost anymore.

An hour or so later, and things are going swimmingly.  Everyone enjoyed the food, and the second bottle of champagne is well on its way down.  Even Jean is getting a little light-headed and giggly. 

I’ve been finding out a lot more about Marla.  It’s odd doing things this way around, like taking a crash-course in ‘Girlfriend’. 

Marla’s something of a budding artist, it seems.  She’s been painting since she was a child, and she once spilt a pot of acrylic on the Dimitris’ brand new cream carpet.  Robin seems to be in full support of her artistic tendencies, although I get the impression that Jean, without fully coming out and saying so, would rather she put her efforts into something more practical.  She’s sold a few of her paintings locally – a long time ago, from what I can gather - although not anything like what she’d need to sell to make a career out of it.  I haven’t been able to glean what it is she actually does for a living.  Perhaps nothing.  Maybe Robin and Jean still help her out.  I get the impression they’re pretty well-to-do, after all.  I really should have investigated these matters a little more deeply back at the coffee shop.  It’d be a fine set of circumstances if Robin and Jean cottoned onto the fact I had no idea what Marla went out and did every day.

As well as the painting, Marla also had a pony when she was a kid.  The only time I’ve even seen a pony in Northampton before is when the Gypsies come to town.  Maybe she didn’t grow up around here.  Again, I should’ve asked.  Her pony was called Twinkle, but one day she fell off Twinkle and after that developed a pretty insidious fear of anything hoofed.  Twinkle had to go, and so he was sold back to the pony club.  This is all told with great relish by Jean, whilst Marla squirms away with embarrassment.

“Do you do any sports yourself, Eddie?” asks Robin.

“Oh, I play a little football.”  Playing a little football actually amounts to a Sunday afternoon kick-about I had down the park with Dave and the boys maybe six months ago now.

“Enjoy a spot of the old tennis myself.  We’ll have to have a game sometime.”

I look to Marla uncertainly.  “Err, yeah, that sounds good, Robin.  Look forward to it.”

Besides from the painting and the pony, I also manage to determine that Marla is an only child, that she once played Mary in the school nativity play, that she once dated a Welshman called Gavin who played for Northampton Town Rugby Club (and might have gone on to play for Wales were it not for an unfortunate calf injury), that she nearly died scuba-diving off the Egyptian coast in 1998, and that she went through a bit of a ‘grunge phase’ in her teens, wearing her hair in dreadlocks until she grew sick of not being able to wash it anymore, much to Jean’s overwhelming relief.  By the time the drinks are finished, my head is so full of Marla’s formative years I feel as though I’ve read a triple-decker biography of her life in one sitting.  It’s just a shame I’m learning so much about her at the time when I’m going to need it least.

The evening seems like it’s drawing to a pretty satisfactory close when lover-boy on the table beside us, who has by this time done just about everything to his girlfriend short of impregnate her, stands from his chair and goes over to talk to the musicians in the corner.  After a short discussion, they bring the manager of the restaurant - a short, Gallic-looking man - into the conversation.  The manager is shrugging extravagantly and looking about the restaurant.  Then he comes over to our table.

“Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen,” he says in a heavy French accent.  “The couple ’ere are on their anniversary.  They wonder if they will be able to dance before they leave, and I wanted to check that this would not be disturbing you.  They ’ave been practicing their salsa dancing since their ’oneymoon, you see.”

The blood drains from me.

“Ooooh,” Jean coos.  “My daughter and her boyfriend here do salsa dancing.  Of course it wouldn’t be a problem.  Why don’t the two of you join them?”

“Ah, no,” I protest.  “I’m a little-”

But the damn Frenchman is already scuttling excitedly over to the couple to explain.  The boyfriend breaks into a smile and approaches us.

“You guys do salsa?” he asks. 

He’s a bronzed thing, tall and statuesque.  He looks like he may actually come from the place salsa dancing originated, wherever the hell that might be.  Probably the same place as the dip.

“They met at salsa class,” Jean gasps.  The woman’s half-bloody-pissed

“Really?” the bronzed statue asks.  “I haven’t seen either of you around.  Where do you go?”

“Daventry,” Marla quickly replies.

Daventry?

“Daventry?” Jean asks.

“They were oversubscribed here,” Marla says.  “Couldn’t get in.”

The bronzed statue looks confused for a while, but then waves it aside.  “Anyway, come on over, guys.  We’d love for you to dance with us.  It’s always more fun with a group.”

“Happy anniversary!” Robin cheers, raising his champagne glass.

Marla cautiously stands from her chair. 

I try to think of any way I could just not move, just stay here and not move.  Perhaps if I shut my eyes for long enough it will all just go away.

Marla takes my hand, squeezing it in that same way she squeezed it after finding out my mother was deceased, and I realise I have no choice but to join her.  She leads the way over to the musicians and I follow with heavy steps, slouching like a man on his way to the gallows.  Before I’m even there the guitarist is counting us in, and then we’re off, like horses out of the traps.  In my case, I’m actually dancing like a horse – one that’s stuck in the middle of an ice-rink.  I’m trying to watch what the bronzed statue is doing, but it’s hard because my limbs are flailing and getting in the way.  He’s gyrating his snake-hips around his girlfriend, so I’m trying to do the same to Marla, but somehow my version seems far more lecherous and uncoordinated, rather more like a public assault than a dance.  The hideous charade goes on for five or six minutes, and rather than improve I seem to be getting worse.  I’m praying for the band to stop, but on they go, endlessly round and round with the same maddening chorus. 

The bronzed statue’s girlfriend is looking at Marla sympathetically, as if she’s wondering how it’s possible for a woman to be with an abomination like me.  I can free you, her eyes seem to be saying. There are many more men out there, men who can dance the salsa like lions!  It doesn’t have to be this way.  But Marla, God love her, is not even looking at the woman; she’s looking at me.  She’s watching me dance like a freak and she actually seems to be having fun – or, at least, she’s displaying no outward signs of humiliation.

When finally and mercifully the music comes to an end, I turn to the bronzed statue and his girlfriend, sweating and breathless.  I feel like I’ve been through hell, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got the look to match.  My squashed foot is hurting like buggery again.  The heat from my body has turned my shirt into a crinkled mess, and catching a glimpse of myself in a nearby mirror, I see my face has come to resemble a boiled ham. 

“Thanks guys,” I say to the couple, as though addressing fellow professionals.  “Appreciate that.”

I take Marla by the hand, determined to salvage one small iota of masculine pride from the wreckage of what has just happened, and storm back to the table.

    “Well, that was very good,” Jean says on our return.  She says it in the tone of a primary-school teacher addressing the class dunce.  At least you tried, she might just as well add.

    “Mexican variation of the dance,” I mutter.  “Probably a little different from what you’re used to seeing.”

    “We’ve ordered the bill,” Robin explains, as though sensing I might want to make a sharp exit.

    “Eddie’ll get this,” Marla offers, slipping a hand up the back of my shirt and rubbing my sweaty back.

    My heart lurches up into my throat.

    “Oh, no, no, no,” Jean says.  “Don’t be silly.  We can’t let Eddie pay.”

    “Mum, calm down.  It’s alright.  We agreed before we came out.  Honestly, it’s our treat.”

    “Oh, well, really Eddie.  That is kind.  Of course, we must take you two out soon.  Our treat.”

    “Bu-”

    Marla looks at me imploringly, a quiet murderousness in her eyes.  “Just pop it on the card, Eddie,” she says steadily.  “It’ll be alright.”

    Whatever fight was left in me has gone.  I just want to get out of the place.  I just want it over with.  But I make a mental note to add the cost of the bill to the three hundred pounds she already owes me.

    “Of course,” I say, barely able to conceal my disappointment.  “No problem.”

    I walk over to the bar in a daze to square-up the bill.  There’s a slightly worrying moment when the card-reader seems to be creaking and groaning forever without spitting out the receipt, and I’m thinking the account just won’t take it, but it eventually relents and the card is handed back to me still hot from the punishment.

    We order a taxi for Jean and Robin whilst putting on our coats, and I try to avoid the puzzled glares of the bronzed statue and his girlfriend as we shuffle out into the street.  Even the mournful expressions of the musicians seem to deepen as I pass.

    “Are you sure you don’t want to share our taxi?” Jean asks outside, a little wobbly on her feet.

    “No, Mum, we’ll walk.  We’re not far from here, and you’re going a different way.”

    “We’ll have to swap numbers, Eddie,” Robin says.  “About that tennis match.”

    We exchange numbers awkwardly in the cold, and just as we’re done the taxi pulls up beside us. 

Before getting in, Jean totters over to me and gives me a big motherly hug, rubbing my back vigorously.  “Oh, I’m so glad Marla has finally found one she’s sticking with for once,” she whispers into my ear.  “You seem nice.”  She kisses me wetly on the cheek.

Sticking with?  For once? 

We say our goodbyes and wave them off, and then it’s just the two of us. 

Alone.

“What the fuck was that?” I ask.

“What the fuck was what?”

“With the bill.”

“Well, I don’t want them thinking I’m going out with a stingy bastard, do I?”

“You owe me, like…I don’t even know how much you owe me now.”

“Well, I don’t just walk around with that kind of money on me, Eddie.”

“There’s a cash-point over there.  I’ll happily escort you.”

“Look, give me your bank details and I’ll transfer whatever I owe you tomorrow.  Honesty, anyone would think I asked you to re-mortgage your house.  It’s only money.”

“Yeah, it’s only…”

I fumble around in my pocket and find the receipt

…two hundred and ninety-six pounds and thirty-eight pence, Marla.  That’s all!”

“Now you’re just being a prat, Eddie,” she says, turning and walking away.

I limp after her as quickly as I can.  “You had this planned all along, didn’t you?  Have a dessert, Mum.  Just order another bottle, Dad.  Jesus, I should’ve seen it coming.  You’ve taken me for a right royal ride here, haven’t you?”

“Well, you weren’t complaining when you thought my parents were paying.  Couldn’t get it down you bloody quick enough.”

“That was the deal.”

“Yeah, well, maybe I’m not so hot on the idea of my parents thinking I’m going out with you anymore.”

“Oh no, Marla.  No way.  You’re not turning that one on me.”

“I mean, what was all that talk about eating people, for God’s sake?  You were supposed to be making an impression.”

“Well, your mum seemed more than impressed.”

“My mum was three sheets to the wind.”

“And that’s my fault now?”

“What I mean is I could have brought Mr. Bean along tonight for all the difference it would have made.  He might have salsaed a little better, after all.”

“Ow!  Wait!” I cry.  “Stop walking so fast.”

We’re passing a bus-shelter, so I hop over to the bench and sit down, catching my breath.

Marla stops and turns.  “What’s wrong with you?”

“My foot.  It’s killing me.”

“Why?”

“Because your bloody dad used it for a door-wedge the other day, that’s why.”

“Don’t talk about Dad that way,” she says, walking back and hunkering down before me.  Then she’s actually fighting to get the shoe off and rolling down my sock.

“Ow!  What are you doing?”

“What do you think?  Trying to get a look at it.”

“Why?  Are you a nurse now?”

“I work part-time at the vet’s.”

“You’re a vet?”

“Receptionist.”

“Oh, a vet’s receptionist!” I gasp.  “Thank God you’re here.  And what does a vet’s receptionist know about the human foot?”

“A damn sight more than an insurance…whatever the hell you are!  Now stop being a baby.” 

She yanks off the sock.  The pain causes me to convulse and bash my against the Perspex glass of the shelter.  Whoever said you can’t feel pain in two places at once hasn’t met Marla Dimitri.

“Ow!  Fuck!”

“Christ, your toenail’s black,” Marla gasps.

“I think it might be falling off.”

Suddenly, inexplicably, Marla is laughing: actual proper belly-laughter.

“What the hell are you laughing at?” I ask, incredulous.  But then it catches hold of me too, and I’m laughing along with her.  I don’t really know what either of us are cackling at, but there’s just something intrinsically funny about the pair of us at this bus stop, me with my bare foot out and Marla staring at my blackened toenail, which may or may not be falling off.

Right on cue, a bus pulls into the stop and its doors open with a hiss.  The driver peers out at the pair of us, craning his neck to get a better view of what’s going on.  It occurs to me that from where he’s sitting it must look as though there’s something pretty untoward going on with Marla down there. 

I wave a hand in the air.  “I think we’re okay, mate,” I manage between the laughter.

The driver shakes his head in disgust and pulls away from the stop.

Marla’s still laughing hard, her head practically in my lap now.  She puts her hands on my thighs and hoists herself up, sitting down on the bench beside me.  We sit there just chuckling away for a while, encased in our fogged-up Perspex cocoon.

    “You’re a fucking idiot, Eddie.  You know that, right?”

    “Funny,” I say.  “I was just thinking the same about you.”

    And before I know it, we’re kissing in the bus-shelter like a couple of teenagers, kissing for a good ten minutes until our lips go numb with the cold.  It’s as much catfight as canoodle, with Marla pushing me back against the bus-shelter one minute and me pushing her back the next.  She alternates between domineering and submissive as though some kind of psychiatric condition may be involved, but it doesn’t bother me because I feel the same; sometimes it’s nice to have Marla clambering all over me and other times it’s nice to throw her back and let her know I won’t be bossed about.

    When it’s over we sit for a while in silence, both a little embarrassed and confused.  Then we take a slow and breathless walk home to Marla’s place, where I kiss her goodnight at the front door and don’t even try to come in for sex.  It’s probably the most gentlemanly thing I’ve achieved in my life so far, and on the hobble home I don’t know what surprises me more: the fact I forgot to give Marla my bank details or the fact I’m fairly sure I actually had a pretty good time tonight.

Chapters

5

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sestius wrote 1950 days ago

Paddy - one of the funniest things I have read on Authonomy. No word of a lie. Cracking pace, great characterization; fast, witty and sexy to boot. What would be the male equivalent of 'chick lit'? 'Git lit'? Whatever, this is it. There are only two or three books on Authonomy that I have read that I would buy in real life (and that's not a disservice to the great books on this site, just a comment on my buying trends) - and this is one of them. Your tone of phrase is the best. A few of the greatest hits:

- comments on 'full beam' and 'fish fingers' and the Glade plug-in in chpt 1;
- "there follows a short silence while we both try to work out the relevance of this statement": legendary;
- "short enough to get me thinking" re: Marla's skirt: such an insightful comment.

This *shall* rise up the charts. Look out for my 'comedy push' thread in the next week or so (a resurrection of the one I did at the start of November): this'll be on it. Needless to say, this is going on my shelf. Best of luck with it (and thanks to Frankie for pointing me in this direction).

- sestius

suecroz wrote 1958 days ago

Patrick this is the funniest piece I have read on this site! When it got to the salsa I was laughing out loud. I read all of it and would buy the rest. I can see this as a movie. Your characters and the dialouge are perfect. I don't have to know the ending to tell you that this must be published.

milliepod wrote 1955 days ago

Have just mistakenly read chapters 2 - 6 in one sitting. After Ch 2 my face was hurting from laughter and now I can't believe I've just run out of chapters. My sides also hurt.

Dude, this is fantastic. I agree with MM - this could be a movie: it definitely needs to be published. It's really up-to-date (PS3, outdoor smoking and a slalom of patio of heaters - excellent) which somehow makes it snappy and effortless reading. It's funny (have I mentioned that?) and I want to read more. Please let me know if you put more chapters up!

CC

PS - Hope this isn't the wrong question, but was Marla inspired by Fight Club?! She's fantastic. So's Eddie. And Dave. And Dad. They all are.

Michael Jones wrote 550 days ago

Just read the first chapter - this is brilliant! I haven't got time to read the rest now but I'll be back to finish it, make no mistake :D

Laugh out loud funny in places:

‘Last time a female of the species walked into the place, Vic turned on the glade ‘plug-in’ in celebration’

‘Dave scheduling his life like the Christmas tele, in the Radio Times’

‘He’s just installed a heated towel rail.’ There follows a short silence while we both try to work out the relevance of this statement’.

The above are just a few of my favourites but there were really too many to list.

Ed is a great character. Love the photocopier scene – a bloke’s gotta do what a bloke's gotta do … and I know exactly what you mean re: turning thirty - the mystery of a women is just a fact of life!

Well written, moves at a good pace and polished to perfection. Can't say enough good things about it, mate.

Some stars and a shelf space. Kudos.

Mick

silvachilla wrote 553 days ago

Paddy,

Please, please slap me. I am SO sorry it's taken so long to return the read, and annoyed because I really LOVED this! OK, your pitch felt a little bit clumpy in places, but that's the only bad thing I have to say. I've read all 5 chapters and you literally had me laughing out loud in places - trench face, the morning with Marla's folks, the salsa - just so funny.

You write incredibly well. Your descriptions and attention to detail are so effortless and they really help to pull me into the situation - Pete tapping the partition, the pencilled 50p inside book covers...fab. I particularly liked the football analysis dream sequence and the description around his mums funeral. Jamaicans have the same tradition as the Irish when it comes to burial. The exchange between him and his dad made ME feel inexorably sad. The conversation was exactly how I'd expect it to be between those two. Also loved the game room scene. Again, great attention to description, I felt like I was in the room, reminisching with them. And yes, the Dreamcast was vastly underrated.

I honestly have no bad words to say. Except that I'm annoyed there's no more. I really, really want to read the rest. I can so easily picture this as a film, it has all the makings of a really good romcom. This is one of a handful of books I've read on Autho that I'd actually pay money to own. Love your writing style, the familiarity of it, the dialogue, description - just fantastic. I saw you've found representation and I'm not in the least bit surprised.

Fabulous. Unsurprisingly, a full smattering of stars and shelf space too.

Silva
x

Rebecca Rohrick wrote 578 days ago

Very funny! Great to read. Thanks.

femmefranglaise wrote 804 days ago

Hi Patrick

I noticed your link on the Dick Lit thread and thought I'd give it a read. I thought it was brilliant written and can't understand why it isn't higher up the charts. It's so nice to read a book that doesn't take itself too seriously. Your comic dialogue is excellent, the characters are well drawn and your MC is... well, everybody knows an Eddie! I love some of your descriptions, 'face set to full beam', etc. I'd buy this if I saw it in a bookshop..

If you fancy having a read of mine and passing on any comments I'd be grateful but in the meantime I've highly starred Best Man Falling and it's on my watchlist waiting for some shelf space

Melanie
La Vie en Rosé

Lockjaw Lipssealed wrote 1278 days ago

Straight up, good writing.

Lockjaw

Jedah Mayberry wrote 1291 days ago

Finally, a likeable protagonist who is not also simultaneously too perfect to have ever existed in real life. Side descriptions of Vic The Barman and Helena add color and texture (though I don't know that you need to address him as Vic The Barman after you've just introduced him as Vic The Barman. As some point he becomes simply Vic.) Likening the clock with no second hand to the passage of years as one gets older is expert as is the soccer match announcers creeping into his thoughts as he doses off. Really expert. In talking about smokers, Ed says he can "reasonably asses what percentage of those ten years have been chipped away..." I suspect you mean assess instead of asses. One last, I might suggest italicizing or in some other way highlighting the text associated with his online research on being a best man to avoid confusing it with his narration. Overall, liked and backed.

Jedah Mayberry
-Slow Train Comin'

Wilma1 wrote 1306 days ago

You have the ability to write material that amuses, not everone can do that but you pull it off effortlessly

I hope this does well for you.

Wilma1
Knowing Liam Riley- I hope you enjoy it

Andrew Burans wrote 1342 days ago

You have finely crafted a most interesting and funny storyline and your use of short paragraphs and crisp, well written dialogue keeps the pace of your story flowing nicely. I do like your choice to use the first person narrative voice as this allows you to fully explore Eddie's feelings and thoughts and you build his character solidly. All of this coupled with your descriptive writing makes your work a pleasure to read. Backed.

Andrew Burans
The Reluctant Warrior: The Beginning

Ben Hardy wrote 1344 days ago

I was getting a little bored with Authonomy, and you may have just brought it back to life for me. Your first chapter is terrific. I can certainly imagine reading this in a published book. The characters, particularly your narrator, are engaging and believable. There is a huge amount of humour, but nothing forced. You do the right amount of showing/telling (though I wince as I type that, as I dislike the concept). The dialogue reads well. This has to be a winner. Send it out to publishers and agents - don't wait for them to discover you here. (And I don't usually gush this much). Ben

klouholmes wrote 1346 days ago

Hi Patrick, Fine comic dialogue and the improvised boyfriend bit with Marla’s parents was really funny. Eddie comes off as bumbling with her when he’s really the type to think ahead of the game. The scene in the pub was well-wrought too with the quiz going on. With all the confusion, it’s not very clear if Eddie wants to see Marla again and that, with the synopsis events, stirs the curiosity. Well-done! Easily shelved – Katherine (The Swan Bonnet)


Barry Wenlock wrote 1363 days ago

Hi Paddy, excellent work. I laughed a lot.
The initial conversation is so funny. I liked the ref, to Amsterdam and 'yeah, who'd a thought it? Brilliant.
Highlights included full beam and the ref to kidnap (still a common practice in rural Nepal).
The paper jam testo-fix was also good and the hilarious letter to Dave. Conversion to Judaism was my favourite in this section. Then, home living and watching the footie, meeting kate and hearing about Badger the dog. This is building wonderfully and I'm convinced you have a winner.
Backed with pleasure,
Barry
LITTLE KRISNA AND THE BIHAR BOYS

Famlavan wrote 1402 days ago

This is a great twist and brilliantly told!
Little phrases like face set on full beam, bunched fingers of a perfectly manicured hand. Fantastic characterisation makes this a special read. – Good luck!

yasmin esack wrote 1405 days ago

Enjoyable read. Well written


bacled

Burgio wrote 1408 days ago

This is a funny story. There are many tales out there about a groom or a bride trying to get out of a wedding. This is unique because it's the best man who is trying to avoid a wedding. You have a good mix of characters. Your dialogue is good. In many places, it's laugh out loud funny. I’m adding this to my shelf. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

delhui wrote 1412 days ago

Dear Paddy --

God, this is funny, but not just funny -- it's incredibly well-written. We hope to take a page from your book (no pun intended) regarding the whole show-don't-tell argument. One example: You weave in Eddie's backstory re: his Dad's job and his own shortcomings with cooking and manual labor seamlessly, showing us important bits of Eddie's life without a lengthy explanation. And you manage this consistently throughout the chapters.

Mechanics aside, however, we love the story for its cheek, charm and authenticity. Neither your characters nor your situations come off as forced. We can see you've been on for awhile and don't know what that means for Best Man Falling, but we hope it gets the attention it richly deserves. From what we've read, we could find no fault. Backed with joy. -- Delhui, The Long Black Veil

Luk7 wrote 1427 days ago

I love the resigned tone of this narrator 'no way of putting this that will soften the dull thud or make a woman want to sleep with you' as he explains he works in the insurance section of a local council, his fear of being too old, and worry over how much it;s going to set him back to be a best man - all so very very English.
Ah, and 'London has a way of sucking people up and erasing the memory of any kind of former life they may have had.'
Anyway, I'm hooked. So, is there any more of this to post? -- Luk

Colin Normanshaw wrote 1432 days ago

I really like this. It puts me in mind of a film comedy, but much better written than most! Your witty dialogue and good pace keep the reader engaged throughout. Backed with pleasure. Colin

A Knight wrote 1436 days ago

Fascinating. There's a sense of immediacy to this piece, and it's not easy to write in a consistent present/future tense as you have done, but you have pulled it off with skill. It makes the comedy sharper to me, and gives your tone that extra edge.

Backed wth pleasure.

Abi xxx

carlashmore wrote 1447 days ago

I have to say I love the pitch - 'all strings attached sex' - well, you just know there's trouble ahead. The prose certainly didn't disappoint. eddie is so well crafted and realised and you use first person narrative in an excellent way. Your dialogue is just spot on and I have no hesiation in backing this.
Carl
The Time Hunters

Amylovesbooks wrote 1449 days ago

Very funny stuff. Shelving this little gem.

Amy
Love Match

Marija F.Sullivan wrote 1462 days ago

Fun! Backed with pleasure,
M (Weekend Chimney Sweep)

lionel25 wrote 1464 days ago

Patrick, your first chapter is a smooth, entertaining read. Good job overall. I can't fault anything in that section.

Happy to back your work.

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

RichardBard wrote 1468 days ago

Absolutely hillarious. I'm glad I stumbled across this. There's no way a reader can stop reading this after the first chapter! Backed.

Richard Bard
BRAINRUSH (2010 ABNA Quarter-Finalist)

SusieGulick wrote 1491 days ago

Thanks for your amazing story, Patrick. Hope you'll read mine, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not & my unedited version, Tell Me True Love Stories of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.
Please back my TWO books.Thanks, Susie :)

Carla_Anne wrote 1497 days ago

Hi Paddy, this is excellent, I've read the first two chapters so far, and find it funny, very well written and an abso-fuckin-lutely great read ;) I'm gladly putting your book on my shelf, and hope that it propels it a tad higher up the ladder. It's the sort of book that readers want, therefore I don't think it'll take long before you get to that ubiquitous and grand position of published author.
All the best,
Carla

lizjrnm wrote 1497 days ago

So very well written and polished - you are truly gifted my friend!!!

Liz
The Cheech Room

lizjrnm wrote 1497 days ago

So very well written and polished - you are truly gifted my firend!!!

Liz
The Cheech Room

MarkRTrost wrote 1501 days ago

Readable and enjoyable. Terrifically paced. And funny. No, it's actually funny.

I liked it.

Mark R. Trost
"Post Marked."

Jared wrote 1506 days ago

Patrick,I started reading this a while back and returned to read all you've posted. For some reason I can't find a comment or a backing, sorry, here they (both) are now. I'd forgotten just how funny it is. You use present tense which I usually find can go either way, but which I didn't even notice until Chapter Three. Sorry, I didn't notice any nits in grammar or whatever, I was just having too good a time reading and laughing. 'Somewhere in my head I'm still 19' - oh yes, think we can all relate to that... 'Probably just rather move straight into the sex' had me splash coffee over the keyboard.
Marla says, 'I like you Eddie... You're funny.' She's right, he is - you are, it is. Love it and backing it.
You know what's really clever? I think women would like this as much as men.
Backed.
Jared (Mummy's Boy).

DKTD1 wrote 1512 days ago

Funny, action packed and wasting it's time on here... Send this to a publisher, man. It's good stuff.

Dan-
Eunice Stubbins, among others.

Jesse Hargreave wrote 1527 days ago

Backed January 18.

Jesse - Savant

http://www.authonomy.com/ViewBook.aspx?bookid=14062

Jupiter Echoes wrote 1543 days ago

BACKED

I get very little from comments about my own book, nowadays. Some people like it, some don't. Some people are too frightened to leave genuine feedback, while others seek to enforce their own style upon me. I want to get to the Ed's Desk to get professional comment. I would rather spend 30 quid than do all this reading and backing. I have got everything I want out of Authonomy community already. So I am backing your book so that you can reach the Ed's desk and get professional feedback, instead of the platitudes and devious backings that account for 80% of backing you receive. Only 20% of comments are genuine, and will add value to your work.

Now, who am I not to back you? I am not godlike. Your work might be flatly written, unoriginal or even down right bad. It could be wonderful. But in my experience, only you can be honest with yourself about your writing... and that is what matters.

So, I am backing you so you can reach the Ed's desk.


There you are.

BACKED
Hope you reciprocate.

eamonn walls wrote 1579 days ago

I liked the opening very much, it's simple writing and it gets to the point straight away, emotional engagement is high with the reader because you don't waste any time messing around. This is efficient writing and I am more than happy to back this one! :)

bonalibro wrote 1601 days ago

You've got a fine and funny piece of work here that you really ought not to give up on. I know the feeling well of wanting to quit, But the slope does start getting really steep for another 300 places. Keep at it, Pat, and you'll make it.

Angela Lett wrote 1608 days ago

A very polished read. Down to earth & funny in exactly the right way. If I have one niggle, it's the present tense. I don't know why (gut feeling, I suppose), but I was left wondering if it would work better in the third. Anyway, what do I know? All the best & on my shelf. Angela.

felicity potbottle wrote 1609 days ago

I think it's another one of those Dick Lit books that we all love. Eddie is a realistic anti-hero, working in insurance in local government (could it get any worse?) and a bit of a shirker. Funny too, backed.

jfreedan wrote 1609 days ago

I've only read the first chapter so far, but I want to say this is a good piece of writing. I enjoy your casual humor and the way things just flow smoothly-- as smoothly as the characters gulp down beer after beer in the first part. I have noticed no errors, and Eddie is a very interesting character, a good mix of pessimism and intelligence. I do hope this finds a publisher. Backed.

paxie wrote 1610 days ago

Patrick

Dick Lit at it's best.....I'm pushed for time at the moment,,, this is on my shelf, I read down to 'Home is''''......Please make sure Dave is a ride before I read on....... He's quite self depreciating, not sure I like that, happy in a mundane job, no proper valid reason why he doesn't want to be best man, OK he comes across as shy,,,,not sure I like that either......I'd have liked him more if he'd told Cynthia to get the fuck off the phone.....

Glade Plug-In in celebration........how about....Glade Plug-In to celebrate......easier that 2 'ins' together...
Loved.......abuso-fucking-lutely.............

Well d'you think your doing the right thing? this made me laugh, none of the guys I knew were ever than diplomatic.....I can just see Dave, eyebrows creased as though asking someone very stupid, something very simple.......Seriously, brilliant, I'd buy it.....Read mine, it's incredibly insightful.....I'll come back to this promise....

I think we could banter ideas off each other.......

Shelved.

Anna Pescardot wrote 1611 days ago

Paddy

I loved this right from the start. It's so down to earth and the humour is great too. I could also identify with some of the things you wrote from the boredom of working for the local council to the cute jack russell! I am shelving and I hope you continue to upload more. I am shelving and I wish you good luck with it.

Best Wishes

Anna
(Always the Bridesmaid)

tamaraB wrote 1611 days ago

This book should get publish. It's well funny. I just wonder why I did not spot it earlier.

Good luck with it.
Tamara

andyroo wrote 1613 days ago

Cynical, dry wit and quick fire writing make this a fantastic read, and I really mean that. I found it so easy to slip into the writing and felt so at ease with the characters that it was like I was watching it on TV. You have a gift for just getting the writing right, you know, making it work. That, and you have an impeccable sense of humour that is nicely original.

Andrew

Leigh Fallon wrote 1636 days ago

Hi Patrick
This was so funny, I havent laughed so much at a book in ages. I loved the glade plug in comment and the puking episode in the kitchen, absolute class. Honestly. I reckon if you put more of your book up here that the little red arrow will turn back into a green one.
Well done.
Leigh Fallon
The Carrier of the Mark

T.L Tyson wrote 1652 days ago

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA
THat said, this is hilarious.
Right from the beginning. The whole deer in the headlights this is too much of a commitment for me and too much work attitude that your MC has. And then he goes on to try to come up with excuses!!! How brilliant is that.
I love this because I know KNOW KNOW KNOW this is how people think, for heaven's sake I thought it when I was asked to be a maid of honor.
I love this. Your voice for your MC is amazing, it is endearing and yet has this edge to it that makes it to real.
On my shelf.
T.L Tyson_Seeking ELenaor

Jane Alexander wrote 1657 days ago

What is it with this site? I never normally read funny books. I don't LIKE funny books. Except, since I've been here, I do, I do. And I like this one very much indeed. You have the knack of taking the incredibly ordinary and making it extraordinary. The office banality had me thinking right back to some hideous jobs.....you catch it perfectly.
I know those pubs, I've been in those pubs. And those flats.
Then the scene with Marla's parents when she tells them he's an architect. Just lovely.
Backed instantaneously. Not sure why I haven't come across this before as it's a cracker.
Jane
(Walker)

Richard Maitland wrote 1658 days ago

Oh, this is an absolute corker. So wonderfully written, I wasn't even conscious it was in the present tense (one of my pet hates).

Bang on the money and, quite frankly, the best thing I've ever read on the Authonomy site. Backed without hesitation.

Richard Maitland (The Sex Stone of Agassia)

Kim Jewell wrote 1658 days ago

Hi Patrick!

First thing's first - I love the cover of your book! Simple, effective, eye-catching. Perfect!

Your pitch and story read like a movie - a comedy that will sell out theaters for weeks! It's perfect for both men and women, and will appeal to a huge audience, young and old. Brilliant! Not to mention totally hilarious. Good stuff - popping it on my shelf and will be back to read more! Great job!!!

Kim
Invisible Justice

Lorelli wrote 1675 days ago

Hi Patrick

This is brilliantly funny. The first person pov works well, i love the inner dialogue which you use very effectively to give lots of clues to Eddie's personality and motivations. The bit where he says 'cool' and then cringes inside is fab.

The dialogue and banter is great, and you keep the story moving on with entertaining scenes coming in rapid pace. There are so many funny bits that it's hard to pick a fav, but if i had to i think the 'meeting the parents' bit might be it.

Shelved :-)

Best wishes
Lorelli (The Man Whisperer)

scottkenny wrote 1703 days ago

Hi Patrick,
I have only just stopped sniggering long enough to start typing. This is brilliantly funny, pacey and true to life. Wonderful descriptions of the colourful characters, I can see them all exactly. What's the male equivalent of Chick lit? Dick Lit?. I would love to add a sage word of advice or constructive criticism here, but hey, It's perfect just as it is.
Definitely going on my shelf and I can't wait to see the movie.
Scott.
Congratulations and good luck!

Ariom Dahl wrote 1707 days ago

I read the first chapter of this and enjoyed it, so I'll be back to read the rest. No terrible typos or horrible grammatical glitches, and the dialogue sounds natural. Later, you might want to look at making the chapters shorter, but that's up to you. It's believable - I can see this as I read it. Loved the tone of the narrator.

Pat Black wrote 1709 days ago

Hello there - very funny start to your book, packed with endearing characters. The great thing about Eddie is that he's so obviously a lad, but he's not a twat - he's recognisable and likeable, and that's a major plus point. The horrendous thing about a lot of lad-lit books is that the narrators are such unreconstructed muppets, without a trace of irony. This was very well written with some great lines. I loved the Steve Ryder-Andy Townsend debate at the end. I would buy and read this book; it'd make Tony Parsons and James Delingpole seem like they were just a bad dream after all!

P

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