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Clement's Corner: The Uninvited Guest

David and Dawn Clarkson are giving a party when an uninvited guest arrives. And David sees trouble ahead... Owen Clement tells a tale in which a man's past catches up with him.

At first David and Dawn Clarkson did not see the intense frail young man enter their crowded living room. The eyes of their guests following him as he walked across drew him to their attention. Occasionally he acknowledged someone briefly with a crooked smile.

“Hello old friend,” he said as he reached them. Dawn became alarmed when she saw her husband’s obvious unease.

“Am I to take it that this is your lovely wife?” he asked draping one arm over David’s shoulder as he turned to face Dawn.

“Dawn, I’d like you to meet Julian Smythe, an old acquaintance of mine.”

“How do you do,'' Dawn said, turning on her best hostess smile.

“What brings you here Julian?” David said as moved over beside Dawn.

Before Julian could respond, Dawn cut in, “Come along Julian let me get you a drink,'' Ignoring the other guests’ inquisitive glances and still smiling she hooked her arm into Julian’s and steered him through into the kitchen. When she saw that they were alone, she let go his arm and swung around her expression now grave.

“You know Julian, my husband is so important to me that I would not hesitate to destroy utterly anyone who threatened him in any way.”

Julian, blinked in surprise at her hostility and was about to respond, when she cut in raising her index finger, “Not that I think for a moment that you are a threat to him. You, if I may say so, seem genuinely fond of him, and would whole-heartedly back me in protecting him, would you not?”

Julian, equal in height to her and fully aware of her implied warning, flicked a few lank strands of hair off his face with the shake of his head. “David chose well when he picked you for his partner, Dawn; I wish I had as loyal a partner.''

The irony clearly apparent.

The kitchen door bumped into Dawn’s back as David followed came in.

“Sorry Darling,“ David said as he edged past them.

“I was just saying to Dawn,” Julian continued "that you are very fortunate to have such a loyal partner and how I wished I had one - as loyal.''

“Julian,'' David said, ignoring the apparent sarcasm, ” ’m afraid your timing could not have been worse. Why don’t you leave me your phone number and I’ll get in touch, hmm?”

Julian grinned but said nothing.

David looked over at Dawn and with a brief jerk of his head indicated that she should let him deal with Julian.

She picked up a plate of savouries and, glaring at Julian, left the room.

As soon as they were alone, Julian grabbed David’s arms saying, “I had to see you.''

“What is it you want from me?” David said, angrily breaking away

“I have something important to tell you.. .''

David was about to interrupt when Julian raising his voice said, “... let me finish.”

David glanced at the door before turning back to Julian. “Keep your voice down.''

They faced each other in silence until David eventually said, “Well?''

“I know you’re angry with me for leaving and taking our savings, but you gave me no choice.”

“Balls!”

“Do you deny that you wanted to end our...?”

David suddenly shoved his face to within inches of Julian’s “You saunter back into my life after running away and leaving me in dire straits... what, ten years ago... and suddenly you pop up on my first wedding anniversary making out that I’m the guilty party. God! Look, say what you have to and then get out.”

“It’s difficult...”

“Get on with it, man.” David moved away and started striding around the kitchen.

“I’m dying, David.”

David stopped and swung around, “I don’t believe I’m hearing this.”

”Here I am telling you I am dying and you show no reaction, what sort of a person are you? Do you hate me that much?”

David slowly shook his head.

Julian looked away.

“God, Julian. Can’t we discuss this another time?”

“I just wanted to tell you, that’s all.”

‘Why?” David’s exasperation grew.

“To explain.. and to say goodbye.“

”I don’t believe you. You could have explained a long time ago. You came to cause trouble in my marriage, didn’t you?”

“No... but...does your wife know about us?”

”I haven’t mentioned you to Dawn and I don’t intend to either.”

“It would be best to tell her don’t you think?”

“Tell her what, the truth!”

“It would be best.”

“Best for whom?” David glared at Julian. “Did you know I once wanted to kill you?”

“I sometimes wish you had,'' Julian said softly and sat down.

“Yes, well, that was years ago. Our friendship is well and truly dead and has been for a long time.”

At that moment Dawn returned.

Julian turned to Dawn, “You’ve got a great guy, Dawn. Look after him. I know you don’t like me or trust me, but I assure you, I have always been very fond of him. He blames me for what happened, but he gave me no choice”.

Dawn looked from one to the other.

Julian stood, slowly moved to the door, turned and looked at them.

“Dawn’s bound to want some explanation when you become my beneficiary.”

David looked stunned by this revelation.

“I’ve done very well with the money I took, you’ll see.''

‘I don’t want or need your money.”

“When it arrives, you can do with it whatever you like. A few hundred thousand dollars is not to be sneezed at, lover boy.”

”Don’t call me that.”

Julian chuckled and yet he looked sad as he opened the door and left.

David slumped down in a chair. Dawn moved over, pulled his head to her and started gently rocking him back and forth.

The sounds from the other guests suddenly got louder as the door opened and a couple entered the kitchen and laughing said, “Well lover boy, how goes it?”.

© Clement 2006.


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