Purple Rinse at Dawn

Lil had called last Friday to catch up on Breakfast Club and we’d been missing each other’s calls. To be honest I wasn’t looking forward to telling her about Mavis’ guest attendance.

We eventually caught up on Monday and as expected she hadn’t taken the news lightly. She was quieter than I thought she would be. I didn’t know whether this was a good or bad sign.

Thursday morning came and I was looking forward to seeing Lil. I’d missed her the previous week. I also wondered whether I’d get the chance to finish the conversation with Armando, which Mavis had interrupted.

Lil was there as I opened the café door. Armando saw me come in and signalled for me to come to the back of the café.

I greeted Lil with a gentle kiss and excused myself due to an urgent call of nature.

‘What? You only live two minutes away. Why do you need the loo already?’ Lil enquired.

‘Sorry Lil I should have gone before I came out. You want to pour me an Assam. I’ll be back in a flash.’

‘This pot is stewed. I’ll get fresh,’ Lil said.

Armando met me in the corridor.

‘She already been here 45 minutes and asks lots of questions about how much times Mavis has been in this week. You think she going looping the loop?’ Armando asked.

‘No, I don’t think so.’ I tried not to laugh at Armando’s interpretation of what is, let’s face it, a rather odd sounding expression. ‘I think she’s put out and a little jealous. I think Mavis pulled a bit of a fast one, and was out of line, but we need to stay out of it.’

Lil was decanting fresh cups of tea when I returned. I looked at her and noticed that she did seem to have an overly made-up face for Breakfast Club. I wondered whether this was war paint, and hoped it wasn’t.

‘Are you having a full English today Lil?’

‘Yes. Have you seen that bloody Mavis this week Wayne?’

‘Of course not –’ Lil hushed me mid-sentence and got up. She moved to the side and stood between the tables with her hands on her hips and a murderous look on her face.

‘Morning Lilian.’

I turned to see Mavis Bellamy a few feet away. What was she doing here?

‘Don’t morning me you manipulative, interfering old biddy,’ answered Lil.

‘Sit down Lil. Please don’t upset yourself,’ I said.

‘This is between me and her.’ Lil didn’t turn to me as she spoke and kept her glare forwards, maintaining eye contact with Mavis.

‘What are you so upset about dear?’ asked Mavis. I could hear smug oozing from her tone and moved side on so I could better observe the proceedings. They were standing six feet apart, scowling flagrantly and wearing ‘don’t mess with me’ expressions. It was like a duel at dawn; pistols were drawn.

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‘Oh nothing Mavis, you sad, pathetic, interfering old cow,’ said Lil in a rather childlike tone.

‘Well really Lilian. Have you lost all your senses or just your manners?’

‘Neither. Why did you change the date and time of the charity meeting?’

‘What’s that got to do with you? I had to attend another appointment and needed some of the members of your sub-committee at that too.’ Mavis accentuated the word ‘sub’.

‘You re-arranged my meeting for the same time as Breakfast Club.’

Mavis went to speak but Lil immediately spoke over her. ‘And then you came to my Breakfast Club. Don’t you have your own friends?’

‘Are you paranoid Lilian? Do you think I have the time or energy to engage in such juvenile behaviour?’

‘Did you or did you not turn up and force yourself upon Wayne and Armando last Thursday morning?’

‘No I didn’t force myself –’

‘that’s not what I heard,’ said Lil

‘Don’t interrupt me,’ Mavis was starting to get flustered, ‘and I happened upon the café for a mid-morning tea and was pleased to find these lovely two gentlemen enjoying each other’s company. I honestly don’t understand why you’re getting your bloomers in such a twist.’

Mavis was good at being passive aggressive – I had to give her that – but I was rooting for Lil.

Lil preferred the direct approach. ‘My knickers are fine. It’s you who doesn’t seem to be able to keep her drawers from drooping.’

Lil’s stare was relentless. Mavis’ face imitated faux shock.

Lil continued, ‘although that’s not surprising in the circumstances. Perhaps I should actually feel sorry for you.’

‘You seem to have lost all sense of decorum Lilian. How dare you insinuate that I have loose morals.’ Mavis grabbed a chair to steady herself.

‘Don’t act as if you’re shocked Mrs Bellamy.’ Lil’s tone was more settled and firm. Her enemy was on the ropes. Mavis’ performance might be BAFTA worthy but didn’t deter Lil.

‘From all accounts Mr Bellamy struggled to keep his trousers on when in the presence of other women. Have you taken a leaf out of his book?’

Mavis grabbed the chair for real this time. She raised her finger and pointed at Lil ‘Who the fuck do you think you are?  Don’t you dare speak ill of the dead and certainly not of my late husband.’

Lil had her now. Mavis was rattled and had let her guard down completely. Lil smiled knowing she’d won this battle and turned and sat down. I did feel a little sorry for Mavis but she had been trying to goad Lil about our Breakfast Club for weeks. Her smugness had evaporated and her raw language was exposed.

Mavis stood static. She looked a little shaky and I wondered if I should go over and guide her to a seat on another table.

‘Let’s not fall out now Mavis. Why don’t you join us for a cup of Assam. I hear it’s your favourite.’ Lil delivered her killer blow.

Mavis stood up and brushed down her jacket. Her composure was regained but she knew this mêlée was over and that she’d lost. ‘I’d love to but I have a busy morning. I can’t stand here quarrelling with you all morning Lilian.’

They both let out a simultaneous, false laugh.

‘I’ll see you next week at Age Club.’ Mavis delivered this last line with a threatening tone.

Armando appeared from the kitchens. I hadn’t noticed him slide away.

‘Our coffee supplier is no more. What am I going to do? It’s best importer from Brazil in London.’

The drama shifted. This was not to be a normal Breakfast Club.

Mavis took her opportunity and scurried from the café.

‘Sit down Armando. Let’s see if we can sort this out too.’ Lil sounded confident.

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