So Much Blood

So Much Blood by Simon Brett

Book: So Much Blood by Simon Brett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Simon Brett
for the revue at eleven—if I’m sober enough.’
    â€˜Come and have another drink. That’ll sober you up.
    She giggled. ‘Everywhere’s closed on a Sunday.’
    â€˜No. We can go up to the Traverse.’
    The Traverse Theatre Club had moved since Charles had last been there doing a strange Dürrenmatt play in 1968. But he found the new premises and managed to re-establish his membership. (The girl on the box-office was distrustful until he explained his credentials as a genuine actor and culture-lover. Too many people tried to join for the club’s relaxed drinking hours rather than its theatrical milestones.)
    The media contingent from the Royal Mile Centre seemed to have been transplanted bodily to the Traverse bar. But the crush was less and Charles and Pam found a round wooden table to sit on. He fought to the counter and brought back two glasses of red wine as trophies. ‘Cheers, Pam.’
    â€˜Cheers.’ She took a long swallow. Then she looked at him. ‘Thank you.’
    â€˜What for?’
    â€˜Bringing me here.’
    â€˜It’s nothing.’
    â€˜No, it’s kind of you. I know it’s only because you feel sorry for me.’
    â€˜Well, I . . .’ He was embarrassed. He had not done it for that reason, but his real motive was not much more defensible. ‘What do you mean?’
    â€˜You’re just being kind. Taking me out of myself. And I appreciate it.’ She spoke without rancour. ‘I know I’m not very attractive.’
    He laughed uneasily. ‘Oh, come on. What’s that got to do with it? I mean, not that you aren’t attractive, but I mean . . . Can’t I just ask you for a drink because I like your company? Do you take me for a dirty old man? I’m old enough to be your father.’ (And, incidentally, old enough to be Anna’s father.)
    He was floundering. Fortunately Pam did not seem to notice; she wanted to talk about her predicament. ‘I never realised how important being pretty was. When I lived at home, my parents kept saying I was all right and I suppose I believed them. Then, when I went to Derby, all that was taken away. What you looked like was the only thing that mattered and I was ugly.’ Charles could not think of anything helpful to say. She seemed quite rational, not self-pitying, glad of an audience. She continued, ‘You had to have a man.’
    â€˜Or at least fancy one?’
    â€˜Yes. A frustrated romance was better than nothing. You had to assert yourself sort of . . . sexually. You know what I mean?’
    Charles nodded. ‘Yes. Have a sexual identity. At best a lover, at worst an idol.’ He played his bait out gently. ‘A public figure, maybe . . . A symbol . . . Perhaps just a poster . . .’
    Pam flushed suddenly and he knew he had a bite. ‘I found the poster torn up in the dustbin.’
    â€˜Ah.’ She looked down shamefaced.
    â€˜Did you love Willy Mariello?’
    â€˜No. It was just . . . I don’t know. All this pressure, and then Puce came to play at the Union and I met him. And, you know, he was a rock star . . .’
    â€˜Potent symbol.’
    â€˜Yes. And lots of the other girls in the hail of residence thought he was marvellous and bought posters and . . .’ She looked up defiantly. ‘It’s terrible emotional immaturity, I know. But I am emotionally immature. Thanks to a middle-class upbringing. It was just a schoolgirl crush.’
    â€˜Did you know him well?’
    â€˜No, that’s what makes it so pathetic. I mean, I knew him to say hello to, but nothing more. He didn’t notice me.’
    â€˜You never slept with him?’
    Her eyes opened wide. ‘Oh Lord, no.’
    â€˜So why the rush to get rid of the poster?’
    â€˜I don’t know. That was daft. I was just so confused—what with the death, and the police asking all those questions . . ., and then you asking

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