Topsy Turvy Ch. 04byElleMunro78©
It's been so long but I am giving this a try again - lack of confidence and writers block be damned! Please do comment and vote, it's a great way to learn and I hope you enjoy it.
"Kidnapped?" Tori and Greg cried in unison.
"Yes!" Mike cried indignantly. He sat up from his lounging spot on the leather sofa, annoyed to have been woken up so inconsiderately. He took a moment to get his bearings taking in the manic grinning of Tamara bearing down from the walls. He shook his head failing to believe that he was here and squinting against the afternoon sunlight streaming through the glass doors.
Everyone in the room turned towards the suckling pig which was making its way into the room. Tamara's head popped over the snout to show her disgust at her reluctant houseguest's words.
"I didn't kidnap him – don't be ridiculous, how could I? Look at the size of him!"
They all turned to survey that indeed it would have been difficult for Tamara (five foot) to sequester Mike (six foot three) against his will. She continued,
"I simply advised him that it was in his best interests to come with me rather than to continue flashing the neighbours."
Tori bit her lip to hide the smile, "Flashing the neighbours? Oh Mike, you didn't? You know how they hate you already!"
Michael shook his head reassuringly at his sister-in-law whilst everyone laughed and he wondered yet again at the cheek of the interfering little woman who in the past couple of weeks had been the architect of the most embarrassing incidents of his life. Tamara was like a mini Medusa who had everyone in her spell. He found it quite disconcerting.
His time at her house had been revelatory. She was bossy with everyone it turned out – not just him. The house had been a state of organised chaos with his two kids and her baby, and the dog running around, but she seemed delighted with it. Her husband who it seemed had the patience of a saint merely laughed at her or agreed or kissed her if she got too ornery. Her crony, Isabella, who it seemed, loved a drink more than anything had cast a quick glance from head to toe at Mike upon his arrival, and had placed him in charge of popping the caps off the beer bottles and passing them to her to drink. Mike had all day been shifting furniture, hanging up balloons, reaching top shelves, killing spiders along with answering questions from his kids about why they couldn't have a dog and didn't he think that this was the best place ever – his answer to that was no.
By the time Tamara had relinquished her grip on him and let him sit down for five minutes, Mike had all but forgotten his despondency about his life, and could only think about getting some sleep. He was dreading the party which was to come.
Somehow, during his plot to escape, he had fallen asleep. He was stunned that her Highness had let him, and now here he was, explaining his presence to his best friend and ex sister in law.
"So what are you doing here? Why didn't you wait for Greg and me?"
Tori's insistent questions brought him out of his thoughts and led him back to telling the story.
"As I was saying - this morning..."
Mike's tale was interrupted yet again by two little bundles throwing themselves on to their father.
Tori looked from one child to the next, back to Mike and then back to the children. Ava spoke first,
"Hi Aunty Tori, what are you doing at the crazy lady's house?"
Tori frowned at her niece, "Ava, that's not polite, you shouldn't speak about people in that way – you know that."
Tori turned back to Mike
"Now, am I going to hear this story at some point in time today or -"
Tori stopped mid sentence and focussed her attention back on her niece
"Hold on - Ava, why aren't you at your Mummy's? Aren't you supposed to be seeing her this weekend?"
Everyone watched in horror as Ava's lip started to tremble and Mike sighed exasperatedly gathering his little girl to his chest.
"In a bid to avoid World War 3 – I'll tell you what happened."
And so the story was told.
Earlier that day
Saturday morning. Mike could tell it was Saturday because he had woken up of his own accord, in his own bedroom (thank God) and not to the sound of two little voices begging telly and breakfast simultaneously at 6.30am. He turned to look at the alarm clock – 8.45am – a veritable lie in. Much as he hated the fact that his wife had left him, he couldn't deny that her weekends with the kids were lovely at wake up time. It was only once he was compos mentis that he realised how much he would miss them, how long the weekend actually was and how much he hated cleaning the house.
He decided to roll back over to sleep to try and recapture the dream he was having of Miss Alanna, his grumpy Disney aficionado saviour of last week who had locked him in a hall cupboard in a bid to make up and make out with her boyfriend. He knew he should be fuming and he was, not least because it and he had been the joke of the office for that week. But he also couldn't deny the fact that he found her extremely attractive, and was pretty irritated that his bid for freedom had done nothing to upset her newly restored romance. And of course, he hurriedly reminded himself, he hated women.
To be honest, he was grateful for the change in subject as he was sick of the dreams of his wife, or rather soon to be ex-wife who had chucked him away like a pair of last season's shoes. Despite the fact that Alanna wasn't even available, she was fodder for his thoughts and that suited him just fine. He closed his eyes remembering the look on her face when he had jumped out of the cupboard. He hoped he hadn't made life too difficult for her with her psycho boyfriend, but he couldn't have stayed in that cupboard forever. God only knew how far it was going to go - he didn't want to catch them in flagrante. He thought for a moment – actually he wouldn't have minded catching her in flagrante, it was her brute of a boyfriend that he could do without seeing.
Wondering what she would have looked like naked, Mike settled back into bed, a smile spreading across his face at his train of thought. As he got to the point where she was asking if he would like her to take off her Disney heels, he was interrupted by the sound of the letterbox rattling. Furrowing his brow, but set on not losing this thread, he closed his eyes and vowed to ignore it.
That didn't work and he swore violently as he heard the letterbox rattling again.
Flinging back the covers and planting his feet on the cold hardwood floor, he swore as he searched for a t-shirt, which he couldn't find, and swore again when he couldn't find his slippers. Bloody woman had insisted on tiles and wood when they had moved in and right now he would have killed for shag pile carpet. Failing to find slippers or a tshirt, Mike ran to the landing and leaned over in a bid to see if he could identify the perpetrator of all that noise. Nope, still couldn't see anything and yet the banging continued. Fucking postman – what a cheek! He'd have his guts for garters.
Cursing with each step he made down the stairs, Mike flung the door open prepared for fury and was stunned to find his six year old daughter and three year old son waiting very impatiently for him on the doorstep. He frowned,
"Hey guys, what are you?"
Sebastian barrelled past while his daughter twinkled at him adoringly.
"Hi Daddy, can I have a biscuit?"
"What? Where's your mother - and no you can't it's nine o'clock in the morning. Where's your mother?"
"She's there – look!"
As Ava pointed, Mike's attention turned to where his ex wife it seemed was waiting for the kids to get in safely from half way down the drive. Ava took the opportunity to take advantage of her father's distraction and raced to find the stool in the kitchen on which to perch to reach the biscuit tin.
He called her. "Roni!"
She didn't respond, she simply raised her hand in greeting and turned away from him to make her way down the driveway. Oh no she didn't – he wasn't having that. Begging Ava to leave the biscuit tin alone at least until he returned to the house, he shut the door and jogged to Roni. It was only as he jogged and shrivelled at the same time, that he realised that April mornings were not ideal for bare feet and boxer shorts.
"Hey!" he called to her retreating back, but it seemed there was not stopping her
"Hey!" he called a little louder.
He ran faster cursing the fact that their house was so big that their driveway was long enough for her to escape him.
"Hey, wait a sec."
She continued on but as she couldn't move as fast in her four inch heels as he could in his bare feet, he caught her in time.
"Veronica, didn't you hear me calling you?"
She turned to him, plastering on a smile as though nothing had happened.
"Hi Mike, how are you?"
There it was the beautiful engaging and fake smile. Bitch!
"Hi yourself - don't you give me your politician's smile, what do you think you're doing? You can't just leave the kids on the doorstep like that - It's your weekend with them – they've been looking forward to seeing you and going to Land of the Teddy Bears for weeks. You've promised them a trip, remember – they'll be devastated."
She rolled her eyes,
"Well they didn't look too devastated to me; all they could talk about when I told them they were coming home was Pokemon and biscuits"
Mike rolled his eyes,
"Come on, that's not the point and you very well know it. You can't just leave them! What if I hadn't been here? If I hadn't been able to answer the door? What would you have done? And where are you going anyway?"
She tutted and folded her arms,
"Well in answer to your plethora of questions; One, you are here so I don't have to worry, two, I would have taken the kids to my Mum's and left you a message, and three, it's none of your business where I'm going."
Mike opened his mouth to remind her that she was his wife, but he supposed that wasn't really the case anymore so he shut it to avoid any further humiliation at her hands.
From the bottom of the driveway Mike heard the tooting of the horn, Roni turned back to him - he could see she was a little embarrassed.
"I have to go, Luke's waiting for me"
"I'm sure he is."
Mike stared at his wife's back trying to remember the woman he had fallen in love with all of those years before but came up empty. He made a move to follow her down the driveway but she turned back to face him placing her hand on his chest. Even now, he could feel it race a little and he was disgusted with himself,
"No Mike, not after last time"
Mike smiled, "How is his nose, is it still broken?"
"How was your stay in the police cell, cosy?" She retorted quickly.
Trying and failing to find a response to that; she always was smart; he shrugged helplessly and watched as the love of his life walked away from him yet again into the arms (or the car) of the man whose face he just couldn't help wanting to destroy.
And it was like this that Tamara found her colleague on her way back from buying enough alcohol to sink a ship for her party that evening. Mike was standing on his very proper road in his very proper postcode where people behaved properly all the time and yet there he was dressed very improperly in his boxer shorts and bare feet staring into the distance.
Slowing down the car, she had the same internal war she had with herself every time; to interfere or to not interfere.
Her angel's voice whispered,
He already doesn't like you after the debacle at Alanna's, and you know he doesn't want to go to your shindig tonight so spare him some embarrassment and leave him be.
However, the devil's head said,
There's obviously something wrong, he wouldn't be standing out here in his underwear unless something had happened, maybe he needs some help.
She looked at her baby boy gurgling happily up at her from his car seat.
He's happy as anything but he's due for a feed soon so you really should be getting home, her angel voice cooed.
But then again her devil's head whispered,
You have a bottle in the bag so it doesn't matter how you feed him as long as you do - and anyway, it won't take two seconds to simply stop the car, or even to slow down and wind down the window to simply ask if he's ok.
"I really shouldn't interfere should I Junior?" - she said to her baby as she stopped the car and wound down the window - the devil's voice ringing out loud in her ears
Tamara couldn't help herself. Whenever people commented on her meddling, she said it was an illness, a compulsion that she couldn't shed. She had to know what was going on, and she had to help. And it was with this thought that she called out to him
"Hey there Mr – you selling something?"
Mike was dislodged out of his thoughts by Tamara's wolf whistle. Jesus, of all the people to run into, it would be this one. Mike figured that if he went for nonchalance she'd probably leave quicker.
"Hey Tamara, how's it going?"
"Yeah good – how are you?"
"Well listen, I can't stay, the kids are in the house. It was nice seeing you."
He turned to walk away but was stopped by,
"Ah ah ah, not like that Mr. There has to be a reason that you're standing outside in your underwear staring into space. Your neighbour across the road has been checking you out for as long as I've been sitting in this car."
"Her across the road with the twitching curtains" Tamara gestured over her shoulder to the house where the curtains were indeed twitching rather rapidly.
"Mrs Ramsbottom? Don't be ridiculous – she's happily married and about 65!"
"Mmmm - She also has a healthy interest in young men who stand on the street in their boxer shorts."
"Maybe I'm bringing down the neighbourhood again."
"Or maybe she's elated that she doesn't have to look at Mr Rambottom's saggy arse when she could be looking at a prime piece of beefcake like yourself?"
Mike frowned and rubbed his hand over his brow. "Are you all like this?"
"Like what? And who all?"
"You La Las or whatever gang you lot are a member of. Speak your mind as though there are no ramifications to what you're saying? Your friend Alanna was the same."
"It's these traits that have bonded us since primary school – I'm glad you've noticed. Now, back to what we were talking about..."
"I wasn't talking about anything."
She ignored him, "What are you doing out in your boxer shorts?"
"I don't want to talk about it – nice talking to you." Not really he thought to himself. Honestly, of all the people.
"Well it's all very well that you don't want to talk about it but it doesn't negate the fact that I am stopping out of the goodness of my heart to tell you that you're flashing your bits and pieces to the world and this is the thanks I get."
Mike looked down at himself in horror and realised that everything was in its place where it should be
He looked up to find her smirking,
"See it could have been though, and then you would have had to charge Mrs Ramsbottom for the free show."
He shook his head
"Well thanks very much but..."
She could tell he was about to brush her off,
"Hey, can I ask a favour, my little one is hungry and in need of some food, do you think that I could come in and warm up his bottle."
Mike remembered all of those lessons his father taught him about how it was wrong to hit women, and then he tried counting to ten. He realised that his efforts were futile as she was already out of the car and walking around to the passenger side to free up her baby.
Fuck! No getting out of this now.
He trudged his way back up his drive with Tamara trailing after him, after having waved to Mrs Ramsbottom who waved back enthusiastically for the first time ever and who also, he was sure, winked at him. When he got inside, Sebastian was painting the floor with permanent marker while fixated with Pokemon and Ava was perching precariously on a stool, her mouth covered in chocolate.
Tamara followed him, still talking, "I can't believe you live here - to be honest, I only ever drive up here when I'm feeling wistful - Brad and I can't afford one of these although we'd love to one day. They always seem so big these houses, and imposing – but because we want quite a big family, it would be the best bet really. Do you mind if I have a bit of a nose around when we get inside?"
He wanted to respond to tell her that yes he did mind very much and that he would much prefer it if she didn't but he realised as he stepped in through his hallway that he was now about to address her back. It seemed that somehow she had overtaken him and was now on her way to her first stop which was the kitchen.
"Who are you? "
Tara's nosinesswas brought up short by the question. She hefted Junior into a more comfortable position and looked at the question master,
"Who are you?" Tamara responded calmly.
Mike watched Ava jump down gracefully from her perch and smooth down her tutu and fix her fairy wings.
"My name is Ava Maria Collins, I'm six years old." She took a moment to collect her thoughts and shouted,
Tamara watched as a mini version of Michael skidded around the corner in a Batman suit with muscles, his cape flying behind him.
"This is Sebastian, I can't remember his middle names, he lives here too. He's three."
"No!" he responded indignantly, "I'm fourteen."
Ava leaned forward conspiratorially to Tamara,
"Actually he is three but he's just learnt the number fourteen at nursery so that's the number of the week."
Tamara nodded sagely.
"So who are you? And is that baby yours or did you steal it?"
Mike took a breath to stop the unwieldy friendship that he could feel burgeoning but was cut off by,
"My name is Tamara, I work with your dad and Greg. You know Greg don't you?"
Ava squealed excitedly.
"I love Greg." She stopped and thought for a moment,
"I love you too Daddy, but I really really love Greg. When Aunty Tori gets bored of him, I'm going to marry him."
Tamara looked over her shoulder slyly to find Mike watching the exchange – she had him now.
"Well it's such a shame that you won't be coming to our house later, Greg will be there with your Aunty Tori and some of my friends will be there and we're having lots of food too. I did invite your Daddy but he says that he can't go."
Ava tilted her head to one side and gazed at her father intensely
"Why aren't we going Daddy?"
Mike scratched his head, searching for a response
"Well you were supposed to be away with Mummy this weekend"
"Yeah, but we're not now – so we can go." She hit him with a bright smile and then turned back to Tamara. There was no question - only statement.
Mike had always found it difficult to tell his little girl no but in particular when she was backed up by this menace; he knew he didn't stand a chance.
He raised his hands in surrender
"Ok, ok – we'll go. I think Tori and Greg are going to come and get me, well us now, anyway."
Tamara didn't want to give him the opportunity of bailing out, and moreover, she wanted to know what had prompted his foray into underwear modelling in the street. It was obviously something juicy about the ex wife and although she desperately wanted to know what was going on, she did more than anything just want to help.
"No, no, it's fine – there's plenty of space in my car – you should just come along with me now, and then Tori and Greg can give you all a lift home afterwards."
Mike could feel his semblance of control leaving his life rapidly
"No, honestly – you go on. We'll come to you later."
Tamara clutched at straws trying to find something that would hook them – and then it hit her,