Roberto is flummoxed by what to buy his wife, Angelina de Castiglione, for Christmas, a decision made more important by the fact that she is also his employer. His dilemma is complicated, as usual, by his fear of being caught in his serial infidelities and losing his position. Naively, he believes overwhelmingly extravagant presents will convince her of his undying devotion. The best, or worst, example of his stupidity was the Triumph Herald, wrapped in a huge pink bow. Her reaction confirmed his mistake: If I want to go anywhere you drive me there, and why on earth would I want to travel in a toy car? He excused himself by thinking, No one knows how hard it is being married to a bossy old cow; no wonder I need a bit on the side.
Once again, they are spending Christmas at home, alone. Breakfast is taken in the lounge in front of the twinkling tree. He serves her champagne and canapés as the B&O sound system plays Christmas songs. From behind one of the many chintz sofas Roberto retrieves her present and coos, Close your eyes. He sets the gift on her lap. Open them now. Happy Christmas.
Angelina opens her eyes and sees a large oval silver platter covered in small plastic moneybags. Gosh, she says. Money. That’s a new idea.
Not just money. They’re all gold sovereigns. There’s ten grand here. Aren’t you pleased?
I’m astonished, Bobby. It may have escaped your attention but this is my money that you’re giving back to me in sovereigns, as if, somehow, by magic, it wasn’t still my money…. Your turn, Angelina says, pointing at a large parcel beside the tree.
Roberto unpacks the parcel and squats back on his heels, incredulous. Is this my suitcase? He asks.
He opens the suitcase. These are my old clothes. I don’t understand.
You’re leaving with what you came with.
What? You’re divorcing me?
No, that would require a settlement and these days that would be fifty percent of my fortune and you’re not having a penny of that.
Why did you marry me?
Marrying a bit of rough gave me a pleasant sort of notoriety among the other families; they gossiped about me.
Jesus, what a bitch. Why now?
It’s not because you’re a philanderer; I knew that from the outset and you were good in bed – but not anymore. Your paunch is off-putting and you fall asleep like an exhausted goat. To be frank you are a bit thick and you’ve become crass as the years have passed. Did you think I didn’t know about you taking ten grand from my current account? She laughs. Oh dear, I can see from your face; you thought it would be a surprise. God, Bobby, you really are very thick. Take the Peugeot runabout with you and keep the sovereigns as a parting gift.
What if I won’t go?
Don’t be a silly booby, Bobby. Off you go. Happy Christmas.
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© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.