Gordon's Breakfast - 41
I can see Susan's place from the front and all the lights are out, but the lack of light does not deter me from continuing to pressing the buzzer a few times. I don't get a reply, but this doesn't surprise me as I really didn't expect to. After trying Susan's buzzer I try a couple of others shouting "pizza" into the speaker box until someone buzzes me in.
Inside I climb the slippery ceramic tiled stairs to the second floor where I walk around to Susan's fire engine red door. I ring her doorbell, but like the buzzer I don't expect to get a reply. I press it a couple more times before I sit down outside her door and I start tapping with my fist on the hardwood.
"Suze, I know you're in there."
Again there is no reply so I tap with my fist a few more times and listen out to see if I can hear anything as I am absolutely certain she is in there. I'm certain not just because I saw Adam earlier this evening, but for other reasons as well and it clicked in the pub when Rob was talking about the Caribbean holiday Adam and Susan were supposed to be taking. It all fell into place then.
I worked out, of course, that Adam wasn't coming around to see me. He had been round on a fruitless mission to talk to Susan. It was for him just a happy coincidence that he happened to bump into me on his way home.
"Suze you'll like this, I saw Adam today, I know he came around to see you as he almost bumped into me on his way home. You probably heard him screaming down the street. You'll also be pleased to know that he chased me down the street and tried to catch me, but of course failed miserably in this endeavour. Second thoughts, you probably won't be pleased to hear me. It's just that while we both run like girls, I'm definitely the faster of the two girls among us. I think that's important, I might swing my arms around a bit, but I always get away."
There's still no answer and no movement from inside of Susan's flat, but it doesn't matter I am still convinced that she is in there so I just keep talking.
"It's not the fact that Adam came round that tipped me off, you know that don't you? It's because I know you would never go on holiday on your own. Just in case you thought I was never paying attention, I really was, and now I have this big arsenal of Suze knowledge that I can call up on at will. That's how I know that you wouldn't have gone. You don't see the point.
"This is why we have been on holiday three times in the last five years or so. I also know that you would certainly never go on a beach holiday on your own. You'd be bored rigid, you know that and I know that. Maybe Adam doesn't because he is lacking in Suze knowledge. I could have told him that, of course, but as I've been ignoring you for the last six months pretty solidly there really hasn't been a moment where I could have passed on that useful knowledge onto Adam.
"The Caribbean holiday had to be Adam's idea. He would see it as two weeks of beach sex and the ideal clichéd honeymoon destination. That's not a Suze holiday. Your ideal honeymoon destination on the other hand would be the Florida Keys, because of Humphrey Bogarde and Lauren Bacall in Key Largo, well that and the fact that you could stop on the way back in New York and intensively post wedding shop and visit friends. Thereby fulfilling all the elements of a classic holiday: shopping, scenery and romance in reverse order. That's where I would have gone."
There's still nothing and although I can't believe I got it wrong it looks like I might well have done so. So I just sit there for a little longer and don't move when finally my heart skips a beat as I hear some shuffling on the other side of the door.
"Suze? You know I'm sorry, you know about the not talking to you, the generally ignoring you and cutting you dead in the street. Not to mention not returning your telephone calls, emails or text messages. I really am sorry. Truth is, and you know it's true I missed you. I just wanted to say that. So that even if you don't answer the door at least you will know that."
I hear a little more movement, but still Susan isn't saying anything. I knock a couple more times on the door. I don't mind really, I'm here for the duration. I'm not going anywhere, I'm staying for as long as it takes.
"What?" says a sour sounding voice.
"Open the door."
"I said I was sorry."
"What about my wedding?"
"I'm sorry about that too, but to be fair…"
I'm about to tell her that I was doing her a favour with my wedding intervention come grand romantic gesture, but then I think better of it. At the end of the day a girl's wedding is still her wedding even if she plans to dump the groom at the airport.
"To be fair?" she says raising her voice.
"I'm really sorry about that as well, honest."
"What's wrong with a little holiday shopping? I ask you."
She makes me smile, "Nothing at all, it's totally essential."
"Hmmm, it's not that easy."
"I'm kind of pissed off."
"Thought you might be, but why don't you open the door."
And then she does and we're sitting on either side of the door in the darkness looking at each other, me backlit by the communal hallway light, and Susan silhouetted in the dim light like a girl in between.
"So what are we going to do?" Susan asks me.
I shake my head, "I don't know, we could see how it goes."
"Okay, she says, "that sounds like a plan. I'm worn out getting married is tiring."
We both laugh at this, struck by the weirdness of the situation.
"They should mention that in the brochure," I say.
"Gord, there is no brochure, I think that's part of the problem."
"Really? Damn them and their lack of brochures."
Susan smiles, again, "Look, we can talk later."
"We could go out for dinner tomorrow? Anywhere you like?"
"Anywhere, I've been saving."
"Oh I like a boy who plans ahead," she says.
I nod and with that we get up and stand facing each other for just a little while. Suddenly we are both aware that we're in new uncharted territory and we're about to go boldly or boldly go, definitely one or the other and I suddenly worry if there's a difference and maybe it's really important in a way that it all comes down to the final emphasis and spin that you apply.
We're aware that there are new rules to play that we should now be enacting them. Susan underlines this as she offers her hands out and shrugs her shoulders, smiles, and the moment skids along bathed in an uncertain glow a little longer.
It's like she is asking what are we now? Have we crossed some finishing line?
That's the question waiting to be answered. I'm not sure what the answer is and I find myself grimacing, nodding, and then I step forward and kiss Susan on the cheek.
Susan nods, smiles, but doesn't say anything in acknowledgement that I seem to have answered the question for the both of us one way or another. For a little longer it seems that we stand as we stood, as it is when it was.
Susan give me a wave of her hand and I likewise and then I turn for the stairs and she closes the door to her flat behind me. I head down the stairs taking each step in turn, one at a time, in absolutely no rush and I head out of her building and begin making the short walk up the street that spells home.
Back inside my flat the lights are out and Johnny and my sister are not around. I turn on the stereo and select my mellow indie play list and the iPod begins to crank out the Foo Fighters who sing "...When I talk about it, it carries on…".
In the kitchen I take a beer from the fridge and crack it open. Back on the couch I lay back and listen to the music. Thinking about what I've just done and I just don't move and I'm sitting there going nowhere.
I've been sitting for an hour or more, and have drunk several beers just listening to the music and thinking over the weekend by the time the phone rings. I've kind of been expecting it and so when I lean over and lift the handset from its cradle I know that I don't even need to speak as by the time that it reaches my ear Susan is already talking.
"I've been thinking, about what I said."
"Oh really, which part are we talking about?"
Even before she tells me I know what she is going to say. I'm having one of those moments one of those sudden rare flashes of certainty that feels quite true. Susan is about to tell me that she wasn't exactly being truthful about this time not needing to be desperately in love. I just know that this is what she is going to say.
"The thing about being desperately in love. I was lying before. I don't know why I did that, I suppose I was having a funny turn, do you have any idea?"
"No," and I shake my head as I say this, "No I don't why you did that either."
"I thought that I would tell you so that you knew what was on my mind."
"Thanks…yeah," I say.
At this point it feels like I should say something else, rather than keep my answer staccato and short but I don't say anything. I close my mouth and sit there on the couch waiting for Susan so speak again.
"I was thinking that we could go for dinner tomorrow to that restaurant that you like so much. What do you think?"
"I think that's a very good idea."
"Okay, shall I meet you there?"
"You want to meet me there?"
As I say this I am tempted to add, but Suze we live on the same street as each other, doesn't it make sense to go together, but somehow I don't. Maybe it's for the same reason that I didn't keep talking before even when I felt that I should.
"Don't you think that's best?" Susan asks me.
"Yeah, I guess you're right, that's probably the best idea."
"I thought as much," she says.
And with that Susan hangs up just as she always does.