Warning: Contains no terrapins.
The Weekend, Here It Comes
The 5.14 from Redditch is always a surreal experience, not least on Thursdays, so it was with some trepidation that I took my seat - checking, as ever, for suspicious stains or residues. I had barely swept the last of the croissant crumbs from the worn velour when my eyes were drawn to the tall stranger sitting opposite. He was dressed in dark clothing, which gave him an aura of power and gravitas, but it was not that which drew my attention. There was something hauntingly familiar about those smooth features... something recognisable. For some minutes I hesitated, but then the compulsion within me grew irresistable, and I spoke to him.
"I should imagine you hear this all the time, " I began, not at all hesitantly now I had broached my initial reserve, "... but you are the spitting image of Roy Orbison".
The stranger replied almost instantly, as if he had been anticipating my comment.
"As it happens," he said smoothly, his voice as velvety as mango Panne Cotta, " I AM Roy Orbison, hence your sense of deja vu."
"Roy!" I could no more prevent my exclamation of surprise than I could have knitted a green fair-isle sweater. "By Anne Widdecombe's virginity! That we should meet thus, on the 5.14 from Redditch on an otherwise unremarkable Thursday. How strange the world has become."
I was suddenly seized with an unaccountable shame that I had taken him for a mere facsimile, when in actual fact he was the geniune article, and I apologised, profusely and over-emphatically, until he raised his hand and put paid to my clumsy stutterings with that graceful, yet enigmatic smile of his.
"It's nothing, " he demurred "Ca ne fait rien." I thrilled to hear him utter the French with such eloquent insoucience.
"It was your skin," I explained, now more in control of myself. "It is so smooth. Rather as if you had been wrapped in clingfilm"
At this, he gave me a strange, sideways look, checked around the compartment to ensure that he could not be overheard, and then leaned over and spoke to me in a low, yet commanding voice.
"As it happens," he intoned "Clingfilm is the very secret of my baby-smooth complexion. I sleep wrapped in it every night, and it's constant nocturnal presence acts as a wrinkle -inhibitor"
I could only sit there, on the 5.14 from Redditch, dumb with admiration and a giddying sense of excitement.
But then Roy's perfect visage seemed to crease, ever so slightly, as a hint of a frown spread across his features, like margarine across very lightly toasted bread.
"I am taking you into my confidence in telling you this, " he said "...but recently, I have begun to notice that the effects of the clingfilm are not as pronounced as they were. Some mornings, when I awake, I have the distinct impression that I can see the odd crease and/or line on my face."
Excitement grew within me, like a courgette plant within a Fison's grow-bag, yet I tried not to show it, and when I spoke again, I managed to control the quaver in my voice which threatened to betray me.
"I have a cousin," I said, smoothly (or so it seemed to me, anyway). "...who works in the petrochemical industry. Prior to that, he had to leave the RAF under a cloud, after an incident involving a fork-lift truck and a bomb, but in his subsequent employment he has been developing new types of clingfilm, made from both polytetrafluoroethylene, and polyvinylchloride. As it happens, I have some samples of these new types of clingfilm at home. Perhaps you would care to alight with me, as I see we are now approaching my station, and we could return to my home, take some tea, and investigate the properties of these new clingfilms?"
I held my breath for what seemed like an enternity, and then he nodded, almost imperceptibly.
"Yes," he said "I will go with you.
We stepped off the train some minutes later, and I raised a hand in greeting to an elegantly-dressed gentleman who was boarding the same train. Roy looked quizzically at me.
"That is my very good friend Steve K," I informed him "Brother of the rather-more-persecuted Josef."
Roy nodded, and I was once again grateful for his intuitive understanding.
It took no more than 8 and a half minutes for us to reach my home. I turned the key in the lock, opened the door, and we both entered. Claudette was there, as always.
I did not introduce them, as I was in a fever of excitement to reach the airing cupboard and bring out my new type of clingfilm. Roy magnanimously overlooked this oversight, but his dark glasses reflected my anxious face as I led him through to the sitting room.
I brought the tea and the clingfilm simultaneously. Perhaps this was a bit hasty, but my manners seemed to have deserted me in the intensity of the situation. Roy politely drank three fourths of a cup, and then gestured to the roll of clingfilm which I grasped tightly in my hand, the knuckles showing white against the greeny-grey plastic.
"Now it is time," he announced. "Please wrap my face in this new formula clingfilm, that I might determine its efficacy as a wrinkle-deterrent. If the effects are pleasing, I will allow you to wrap the rest of me as well, since I wish also to maintain a smooth skin on the rest of my body."
With trembling hands, I wrapped his face. The years seemed to vanish, and once again I saw before me that youthful performer of yore. He nodded his assent, and I took the clingfilm and wrapped the rest of him, being sure to pull it tight for maximum wrinkle-negating effect.
He looked so young, sitting there before me, wrapped entirely in new-formula clingfilm. It did something to me, to see him like that. I was filled simultaneously with a rush of pathos, and a desire to giggle helplessly, which I suppressed ruthlessly.
"I feel... I feel a sense of anticlimax," I said "Almost bordering on ennuie, one might say. I do not know what to do, now I have wrapped Roy Orbison in clingfilm"
"If I were you, " said Claudette (elegant as ever, in her air of mystery) "I would bite him between the third and fourth cervical vertebrae."
I sighed "That's what you always say, Claudette"
"I know. That is because I am a cat"
"Yes, that's how it is"
"That is how it is."