The Sociable Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A sad fantasy, in fond memory of my favourite brother-in-law and his wife.

Submitted: April 17, 2016

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Submitted: April 17, 2016

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THE SOCIABLE MAN

 

Juan clambered up the gangplank to the cruise ship for older people, dragging his bright pink and grey trolley behind him. The aged bent-over figure was painful to look at, in reality.

 

 Many elderly people, maybe more men than women, are usually quite fit until they reach what is officially recognised as ‘old age’. Nobody knows when it actually occurs, but it does. Everyone goes from being a young carefree man or women, but then, one day an extra cocktail at lunchtime won’t give the buzz it once did. You might try fooling yourself, but the ‘miniatures’ in a cruise ship don’t do much to mitigate the boredom. The general idea of leaving one’s home is to meet new people, but if you’re the only new person there, you can have some very strong surprises. There are others, of course, those who keep their loneliness under control. Juan was always very popular, because he was well-spoken and was very well-dressed in ‘country English Gentleman’ style - comfortable rather than fashionable.

 

At the top of the gangplank was a wide open doorway. The two young officials stood ready and smiling, as the passengers passed through the entrance. There was a long trail of passengers behind Juan. Just inside the entrance, a large table had been set up, with early evening cocktails. Also, there were waiters walking around with trays of drinks and canapés.

 

There were all kinds of people present, men and women who like to impress, knowing full well that the likelihood of meeting up with an old flame is hardly likely. The clothes they were wearing that night, had seen far better days, but then, so had they.  Some people were trying to behave like the magazines thought they should. They were all doing their best to circulate. Even on that first evening, just as the ship was setting sail, passengers were to be seen all over the ship.

 

The kitchens were being fired up for the first sittings of meat and fish. The passengers were unaware of all the behind the scenes activity .There were those, of course, trying to get to grips with a reluctant sunset.

 

During the night, the kitchens were cleaned from top to bottom. Most passengers were all wrapped up in bed, and had a totally worry-free night. Some of them lay snoring from all the alcohol they had imbibed. Others were fast asleep with the television screens shining in front of their eyes.

 

Juan met Pat on the deck where there was a meeting to try to get new cabins. The problem with travelling on a cheap cruise, is that some cabins are all squashed up together, and suffer intolerable noise from the engines of the ship. The best cabins are not only better appointed, and have no comparison with those for the lower echelons. They were demanding a better place where they could sleep comfortably.

 

For some days, Juan and Pat were inseparable. Until one day, she complained of not feeling well. Juan took her along to the on-board infirmary, and waited to hear the results. Just a few minutes later a nurse, beckoned to him, and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid your friend has just passed away.”

 

 

In the morning, Juan was lying in bed, still in a dreamlike state. He thought he saw Pat. She was looking at him, and she held out a hand to him. He made an effort to stand up, but lost his balance, and fell down, banging his head.

 

He was found later - dead - with a slight smile on his face. He knew it would be his last cruise.

 

Without her - there was no point.


© Copyright 2017 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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