By Rob Plews.
Back late from the all-night beach disco, Sheena – every girl’s best friend, kicked open the front door and slumped herself straight onto the living room sofa after clearing off all the junk with one sweeping arm stroke. This place is a flippin’ mess, she said out loud, taking the sandy sea-salty hair out of her eyes. It would need a lot of combing later. What the hell is a plastic dog doing here pretending to be a Labrador? It must be Chereena’s, I’ll kill her when I get my hands on her. Where is she anyway?
The last time Sheena saw Chereena, she was by the pool with some topless guy who was looking for a shirt. He rummaged in the pile of girly clothes scattered in the grass and soon gave up. They were all too skimpy and impractical. Chereena invited him to sit down next to her, and he pulled up his trousers and together they dangled ankles in the pool. They turned to each other and smiled. They couldn’t stop smiling, it was that hilarious, until Sheena burst in on them as they were just about to kiss. She was in her Summer Medley blue kimono and yelled the place down, ordering him out, out, out! He went running barefoot and Chereena tottered after him. It’s my house, bitch, Sheena hollered behind them.
Sheens took her hand away from her throbbing head, got up from the sofa and started putting things back into place. She pressed a few buttons on the jukebox and remembered the batteries had run out. She would have to get some more of those from somewhere, and anyway, the darn thing always played the same tunes. She started humming one to herself as she took out the vacuum cleaner and blitzed the living room. Do you know the way to San José?
The place was always in such a mess, Sheena lamented. She had too many gadgets in her life to deal with. The TV was face down on the floor for a start, and she couldn’t get the nozzle under it, so she picked it up and put it back on the stand, along with the DVD player and surround sound system. Not that it had ever worked. She straightened the coffee table, hung up the strewn handbags, then fed the fish in the aquarium. You don’t move much do ya? she said, tapping the Perspex.
Now that the living room was back in shape, Sheena hopped into the kitchen where she turned the oven on to brown her quiche. She opened the cupboards with the thought of maybe rustling up a salad, taking out bowls and cups, but when she got to the fridge, all she had was cartons of juice, two dozen eggs and dog food. For the Labrador, no doubt, she sighed. Sheena decided on a simple slice of quiche that was doing nicely in the oven, and looking at the clock on the wall she remembered Bobby. Bobby would be here any minute, she gasped – and jumped into the shower to wash the beach out of her body. Bobby, Bobby, Bobby she went over again and again with the nightmare of not knowing what to wear. I’ve got so many clothes, she said to herself, just dressing myself lately has become a real hassle.
Most of the time she went around the house naked. She didn’t care. Clothes were an inconvenience sometimes, but she settled on some purple boots and a glittering miniskirt with wraparound silver top. The make-up and jewels were waiting in the boudoir. She selected diamonds as usual. She didn’t want to give off the notion that she was cheap or easy, though she knew from Dynasty re-runs that too many diamonds could turn a man off all together. She clipped on the dangly earrings and studded necklace, tying her hair up into a simple bun and applying some lipstick that was a bit too red – so she rubbed it off and selected purple to match her boots. Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, it was Bobby at the door.
‘Hi Sheena, wanna come out driving with me in my sports car?’
Bobby looped her arm awkwardly, and Sheena couldn’t help thinking how tense he was. Rigid was more the word. The car was convertible, and she didn’t think about looking at the make, but it was fast. Bobby grabbed the wheel with a wicked look on his face. It was his concentrated driving look – trying to squeeze vision out of his pupils since he had lost his glasses, and Sheena was wondering how he had managed to get a drivers licence as she closed her eyes and prayed when they bumped onto the sidewalk and began cruising along it, knocking everything in the way out of the way.
‘That’s nothing,’ he replied as he revved the engine fully and yanked the steering wheel, causing them to strike the wall sideways on, sparks flying. ‘Now we’re driving!’ He changed gear and accelerated up the wall of the building.
Sheena screamed, opening her eyes again or she would vomit. ‘Stop! Stop driving me up the wall. I’m scared!’
‘Oh come on now baby,’ he tried to comfort her, but it was too late – she was no longer in the car. ‘Shit,’ he said as he slowed down and came down from the wall. He looked in his rear view mirror and decided to stick to the road after all, turning and going back for Sheena.
‘You fuck!’ she said, sitting on the pavement, nursing her sore knees, scratched. She was missing an earring.
‘I’m sorry, I was just having a bit of fun.’
‘You men are all the same.’
‘You women are all the same. You never put your seatbelts on.’
‘Just, just take me home,’ she wept. He picked her up in his arms and plopped her into the passenger seat.
‘Ouch!’ she said as he adjusted her knee joints.
Back at the house Sheena fixed herself up and decided to call a tea party. The quiche was still in the oven, cooked to perfection and Bobby helped put the chairs around the table in the garden. She called Chereena on her mobile, forgave her for the mess she made and invited her and topless boyfriend over for the tea party. She could also take that blasted dog back with her afterwards. Chereena agreed. Sheena changed clothes once again, this time something for the late afternoon that was pink and fluffy on top and navy blue and figure-hugging below. She put on a pendant and some sparkly wristbands. This time she changed the lipstick for a more natural peach colour and sprayed on some perfume.
‘Isn’t life all so facile?’ Bobby said as he put on his suit and checked the gelled sides of his hair behind his ears.
‘You know. Shallow.’
Sheena went into the kitchen to check on the quiche.
‘I guess. It’s funny, I’ve never been able to get the oven door open.’
‘Are you trying to avoid the question?’
‘Question? What question?’
‘The are-you-really-happy? question.’
‘Huh?’ she played with her pendant and paced out of the kitchen into the garden. ‘We’ll have to call out for pizza. Yes, that’s what we’ll have to do. Now where’s my mobile?’
They hunted for a moment. Bobby found the phone and handed it to her, but as she tried to take it out of his hand, he clenched the phone tight.
‘Sheena, it’s OK, you can tell me.’
‘Flippin’ heck Bobby, you can be so morbid sometimes. You want me to admit that deep down I’m not the happy girl who has everything she needs at the touch of the button. I mean, what more can a girl want, it’s true, and yes, I guess I’m not happy. So what? Is anyone really happy? What the fuck is happy anyway? Just leave me alone!’
Chereena and the pizza turned up while Sheena was in a wreck, shaking and crying profusely on her hands and knees in the Astroturf.
‘Maybe what you need is a boyfriend,’ suggested Chereena, looking over and winking at her topless hunk who was making small talk with Bobby in the swimming pool, sipping on daiquiris. ‘Bobby is handsome and rich, why not go for it? And just look at his smile of white.’
‘I want a guy with a beard. I’m sick of these smooth guys.’
‘Well have you kissed him? You know it’s all in his kiss.’
‘No, I don’t think it’s a man I need. You know, something has been eating inside of me for many years. Chereena, can I tell you a secret?’
‘Of course you can, girl. I love secrets.’
‘I think I’ll find the key to my happiness when I find out who my parents are.’
‘Woah! Where did that come from? I mean, that’s just… too deep.’ Chereena scratched the back of her neck. ‘Uh-oh, I think, I think I need to go for a dip.’ Chereena broke herself off sideways, looking straight ahead to avoid any eye contact with Sheena. She dived into the pool with an ungraceful splash.
‘Bobby, I think you need to go and talk to Sheena, she’s bringing me down.’
‘And turn up the wave machine while you’re at it. Me and hunky guy want to have some fun.’
Bobby pulled himself out of the pool, and dripping he sat next to Sheena who was now lying on her side in the foetal position.
‘I was fine until you started messing with my head,’ she said, rotating her head and staring into space.
‘Listen, I could tell something was wrong, I just wanted to help that’s all.’
‘I want to know who my parents are. All my life it’s been eating away at me and I’ve tried to find out to no avail. I was orphaned.’
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know.’
‘Well no one does. People see me and say – hey look at Sheena, she’s got everything. She has no right to complain.’
‘Hey it’s OK, I’m here.’
‘Thanks, I really appreciate that.’ She sat up and hugged him.
‘I’m all wet,’ he tried to make light of the conversation.
‘Just kiss me,’ she said.
They kissed and rubbed their bodies together.
‘You know, one day you’ll find your parents, but have you ever considered that they might not want you to find them?’
‘No!’ she turned angrily at him. ‘I’m going for a swim, and you can turn down the wave machine setting.’
As the water splashed her face, that’s when she felt this so-called happiness. The water was cool and caressing. Happiness was being a mermaid for a moment.
The next time Bobby came round, Sheena was in her wedding dress and was looking more beautiful than ever. She really looked happy under that lace, clutching the bouquet of flowers while Chereena adjusted the veil. The wedding was going to happen in the garden and the chairs had been arranged in rows. All the guests had brought presents and were in their best attire and wishing Bobby all the best with his wife to be.
‘We’re going to have a baby,’ Sheena cooed.
‘But Sheena, I’m not going to marry you.’
‘Listen Bobby, you made me pregnant, it’s the least you could do.’
‘Sheena, you’ve got it all wrong, I’m sorry.’
‘What?’ she said with a quavering voice, drawing attention to the situation as the guests fell silent and focused on her. ‘What’s all wrong?’
‘Sheena, there’s no easy way to tell you this.’
‘Tell me what.’
‘You can’t get pregnant just by rubbing bodies together. And anyway, I’m not in love with you.’
‘Oh no? Who is it then? Chereena?’
‘I’m in love with G.I Joe.’ The guests gasped. ‘And I’m not ashamed.’ Sheena dropped the bouquet and ripped off her veil and wedding dress, struggling as it was so well attached. Naked now, she threw the clothes at Bobby, who was holding his hands out in plea. They hooked onto his fingers while Sheena ran and jumped into the pool where she remained face down, in a star shape. For hours. She would have drowned if she hadn’t been made out of plastic.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Plews used to be Peter Pan. Now he lives in Lisbon, Portugal. Other short stories have appeared in Word Riot, Tenemos, Foliate Oak, The Thing Is and Thieves Jargon.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, July 20th, 2012.