I spent most of the weekend doing a drawing for free for somebody's Mum. Originally I thought it was for Kelly's mum. When I found out that it wasn't for Kelly's mum but an altogether different mum, a mum that I had never met, I carried on anyway - I could do with the money. It was only when I was half way through doing it that I found out there was to be no money - Kelly had waived the fee on my behalf!
I continued. It felt good to flex the atrophied pencil muscles. I hadn't had a drawing to do for a long while and it was gratifying to see that after initial rustiness the "mad skills" returned. And the drawing was a good one: flattering to the point of deceit and containing all the required elements: a roast chicken, a gin and tonic, coronation street and the mum's children. I messaged the recipient telling her that it was ready. I heard nothing. And then Kelly's health went tits up and we were at panic stations for a couple of days. Last night, past midnight I received an e mail again saying "let me know when I can pick it up". I didn't answer, figuring that yes, I'll let her know when to pick it up - but she can wait till morning.
In the morning I decide to run a bath - a luxury these days. And I think, I'll have a cup of tea while I'm in the bath! Outrageous decadence, I know. It had been a rough night, with Kelly in extreme discomfort and me barely sleeping, but she was much brighter in the morning and happily engaging with the "Gilmore Girls". Her sister Dee asks if she can come round but Kelly says no, come round in a couple of hours - she's better but not necessarily up to visitors. I nip down to the kitchen in my voluminous leisure knickers and put the kettle on. The doorbell rings. It's the friend! She's just decided to come round anyway! I'm trapped! Kelly leaps up, the most I've seen her move in the best part of a week, to answer the door. The first thing I hear is "Are you not well?" - the friend is a fucking genius.
I look around for something to put on - the layout of the house means there is no way upstairs without passing the front door and I'm stuck in virtually nothing but body hair, water-weight and a wisp of gauze hiding my shame. Usually there are clothes on the radiator or in neat piles on the kitchen table but no, because we have been more than usually inundated with visitors I have been more than usually house-proud and have put them away. There is nothing but tea-towels.
"Where is the drawing John?"
It's Kelly, her voice breathless and weak. I can already tell that she has been up and down the stairs looking for the fucking thing; she has been practically comatose for a week and she's expending her energy on this.
"There's a Gene Deitch book on the bed," I shout back, "tell her to go. It's in the spare room, look in the year "1945"
These instructions aren't quite as confusing as they seem. The Deitch book is big and flat and heavy and an excellent place for storing delicate pen and ink works. And it is divided into years: the drawing is resting at the memorable year 1945. There is silence. I decide to make a break for the living room, hoping there are some clothes I've missed lying around. I open the door. The friend is sitting on the sofa. I stand framed in the doorway, aware that there is hardly any negative space between me and the door-frame. She grins up at me and my fat naked hairiness.
"What are you doing here?" I say in an odd strangulated voice and rush through. I meet Kelly on the stairs, wheezing, my trousers and shirt in her arms. The beautiful silly idiot.
I dress. By the time I come down again the friend is gone. I start crying like the big fat Mary I am.