Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Pauline's Peculiar Predicament, a short story by Anthony Farmer

Pauline, perched primly at a table in Pandora’s Pantry perusing the menu with her secret paramour Peregrine Pargetter. She didn’t love him though she liked the odd glass of Pinot but she was no potomaniac. Pauline loved presents of pearls and put up with the well-practiced performance in the back seat of Peregrine’s pretentious Peugeot parked in a puddled parking place somewhere in Peckham. He pursued her in private and was particularly persuasive. She, in public particularly prudish, but in private a passionate Pussycat with a propensity for peculiar. Peregrine prattled on about his parents plan for a pre-retirement party at their pretentious pad in Portugal.

‘Please place your order, madam,’ proposed a waiter like a policeman on point duty, pen poised, pad in palm.

‘Perhaps the pate, then,’ she paused, ‘pullet or pork? No, partridge please,’ adding, ‘perhaps a Pinot Grigio and Perrier with my partridge?’

Peregrine, a partner in pensions, was more positive. ‘Mine’s prawns,’ he pronounced, ‘in the parcel of pastry, then pork and Provencal Palette.’

He passed the menu to the patient waiter.

Peregrine placed his palm on her pale wrist. She pursed her perfect lips and blew him a kiss. He wasn’t in love with her. Peregrine, too parsimonious to pursue a permanent partnership, played his part with prudence.

She had a husbandly partner with a pad in Putney. Pauline, with a pretty face and penetrating eyes, had a penchant for pearls. She dressed in pencil thin skirts, tailored pastel or paisley jackets and patent leather heels from Prada; all put together properly. She preferred the possibility of a more permanent prospect and at present played hard to get. After all, her partner Peter Piper is a prospective Parliamentary prospect for Pease Pottage.

The waiter appeared and placed the prawn and the pate in position on the placemats. Pauline pecked at her pate while Peregrine pursued his prey around his plate and was near to finishing when he noticed his paramour’s paralysis and unusually pale complexion. Following her piercing gaze, he picked up her peculiar predicament.

Pandering to a pair of pensioners, the waiter noticed Peregrine’s precipitous pitch. Peregrine had begun to slide down his chair with the precise actions of someone plunging down a precipice until he disappeared under the table. Pauline was unperturbed and continued to peck her partridge like a pigeon. In a pair of purposeful paces the puzzled waiter was at her table.

‘Please, madam, permit me to point out that your husband has plunged from his perch and now lies prone beneath the table.’

She looked up and pronounced: ‘Young man, I applaud your perspicacity and professional propriety. This is not my husband,’ she pauses and points under the table and pauses again. ‘My husband has just walked in.’

Flash 500 Winning Story Fourth Quarter 2013
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