Meyrick Lewis stood at the oak plank bar of the Griffyn’s Nest, surrounded by a dozen of his closest friends. He’d once thought that perhaps his buying the occasional round was all that framed his popularity, but only once; as popularity is a relative thing and only worth having, not worth discussing.
“Tell us about the missus again” Jenkin Burke said, and the boys all smiled and nodded their slightly tipsy heads.
“She’s as fair as a bowl of fresh drawn shimmering cream” he began, choosing a different metaphor each time he was asked (and he had been asked each Friday night for as long as he could remember) “Her hair is a lustrous mahogany, smooth as a babe’s and smelling of orchids and ginger.”
“Ahh” moaned William McGee, “If only my wife had silky hair I’d want to tangle my fingers in it,” he paused for dramatic effect, “rather than keep them in my pockets guarding my paycheck!”
“Aye!” The boys agreed, some laughing but others grimacing and shaking their heads at their bad luck.
“She’s a regular chef you know” Meyrick continued; “why tonight when I get home she’ll likely have made me a rack of lamb with potato and leek pie with a lovely Snowdon pudding for dessert.”
Those assembled made smacking noises, as if tasting the delicacies through thin air. “You’re a lucky man” Rees Blom said as he patted Meyrick on his back so hard the man had to stop to catch his breath.
“And what will she be wearin” Robert Hopkin wanted to know.
“The usual” Meyrick said, as he had a hundred other times he’d been asked this delicate question; “You know, a gauzy material cut down to here and up to there. A gown that would appear as if nothing more than angel hair.”
The resultant oohs and ahhs were interrupted by the clanging of the console clock that stood over Griffyn’s Nest’s fireplace hearth. It was ten, and well past time for a miner to be home and preparing for a night’s rest. Meyrick took his leave cheerily, accompanied by well wishes and confessions of envy. The bicycle home was a whistling affair, a favored reel of his Irish grandfather.
His house was dark as he’d hoped. He climbed upon his stoop as quietly as he might, but still the moment he touched the door handle a light went on in the parlor. She would be awake then, there was no denying. He steeled himself and thrust the door open, stepping inside with a whoosh and slamming the door behind him. The clomp of the six panel was followed by a loud crash, and a spray of malted liquid spattered across his chest and face.
“At least she’s missed” he thought to himself, though never saying a word. “My bones are still intact and I feel no blood oozing.”
“Get your arse in here” the crone shouted, waving a second bottle in his direction, “and make me supper. You’ve been out late again and left me here to starve you no good, rotten, less than a man!” She’d been at it again Meyrick noted; found the sauce he’d carefully hidden and worked herself into a lather.
“Yes my love” he answered as he slipped off his waistcoat and walked toward the kitchen. He hadn’t made it halfway before she was on him, punching and slapping until he could hold her tightly around the arms.
“As for your note” she spit through those teeth she still had within her wrinkled mouth, “I will bathe when I please and not before! If you don’t appreciate my aroma then I suggest you wear a noseplug in my presence, you self righteous bastard!”
“I’m so sorry my sweet, I don’t know what got into me. Perhaps the coal dust in my lungs made me dizzy and near out of my mind. It won’t happen again I assure you. Please forgive me will you? And I’ll make you a nice bangers and mash.”
She fell limp in his arms at that, and he let her free very slowly, setting her into an easy chair, keeping his head turned as he did in case she went for his eyes next.
“Be quick about it then” she croaked. “I’ll not be treated like a common strumpet by my own husband!”
“Surely” Meyrick answered as he backed away and into the next room. There he closed the panel door and set about the business of boiling water and frying onion, all the while thinking of his next Friday adventure and the beautiful lies he’d tell, and all the smiles that would surround him.