Wants and Wishes
by Peter Lingard
It’s a beautiful day; golden sunshine, a fiercely blue sky, and flowers blooming, their scent pervading the air. A kookaburra laughs as I stroll along the street toward the boardwalk, thinking of Reena.
A dishevelled man approaches me. “Ya gotta cigarette, mate?”
“Sorry, I don’t smoke.”
“What’s that packet of fags doing in yer shirt pocket then?”
“That? That, my friend, is there to remind me not to smoke.” I take out the pack, rattle it, then open it to show him a rainbow of M&Ms inside. “These M&Ms act as an effective deterrent. Perhaps you should try the same?”
“I don’t think so. Lollies are fattening.”
“Oh, I don’t eat them, well, maybe one or two a week, but, if I did, fat is better than cancer, wouldn’t you say?”
It was Reena’s idea, the M&Ms. I used to smoke more than a pack a day until she told me I tasted like an ashtray. Now my breath is sweet but she isn’t around to test the evidence. Could I tempt her to kiss me again if she were here today? To be brutal, we only kissed once and that was beneath a sprig of mistletoe. I tempted her with plastic mistletoe. Plastic. It’s a bit desperate to have to tempt a woman to kiss me. Simultaneous spontaneity on both our parts would be preferable. I can see her, in my mind’s eye, running toward me with a smile on her face and her arms spread wide. She calls out to me. ‘Stephen, it’s been so long.’ After we kiss, (semi-long, lips almost closed/almost open, but definitely without inducement), she says, ‘Your mouth tastes so much better. You did what I suggested. Well done, you! Let’s go to yours so I can discover the rest of you.’
“How about a coupla dollars?” the dishevelled one asks.
“A coupla dollars. Don’t be a tight ass.”
“So you can buy cigarettes?”
“Food, mate. I’m dyin’ of starvation ‘ere.”
A can protrudes from a grimy grip that dangles from his filthy fingers. “Looks like you’ve got food in your bag.”
“That can’s not even labelled, mate. Someone just gave it to me. She said it was soup but for all I know it could be dog food. What’s the cost of a hamburger ta someone like you?”
The thought of Reena diminishes everything, like the perfect wave to a surfer, the guitar riff in ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, like the vagrant finding lobster thermidor in his unlabelled can. Reena’s nibbling her bottom lip. Is she hungry? What should I do? Sex followed by dinner, or dinner before sex? Better get her while she’s in the mood; experience a crescendo of ecstasy together. “Yeah, let’s go to my place.”
The kookaburra laughs again.
“Your place!” shouts the beggar. “Ya got the wrong one ‘ere, ya sick perve.”
◊ ◊ ◊
When a youngster, Peter Lingard told his mother many fantastic tales of intrepid adventures enjoyed by him and his friends. She always said, ‘Go tell it to the Marines’. When he asked why, she said, ‘They’ve been everywhere and done everything, so they’ll want to hear about what you’ve been up to’. Of course, Peter joined the Royal Marines as soon as he was old enough and now has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of tales to tell.