Art Pact 58

Daniel was woken up that morning by his host treading on his bed.

"What the hell, man?" Daniel grumbled, but Peter stood there and swished open the curtains, letting the bleak low light of the November morning into the room. Now there were two unwelcome inhabitants, and Daniel pulled the duvet up over his head and continued his complaints from within. "Hey, I'm still in here."

I guess he wants me out for some reason, Daniel thought, but Peter said nothing, merely continuing to bustle around the room, tidying things up. He even straightened the duvet, which Daniel found rather uncomfortable.

"Hey, what gives? Hey! Hey!"

No matter what effort Daniel went to to attract his host's attention, Peter continued to give him the cold shoulder. Daniel thought back to the previous night and tried to work out whether he'd said or done anything that might, in the cold light of day, have given offence.

Christ, I hope I didn't make a pass at... no, I couldn't have.

He felt oddly constrained, and feeling around realised that he was still almost fully dressed - the only thing missing being his left sock. He shuffled to the edge of the bed, stuck one leg out and discovered that he was wearing his work trousers. Definitely not what he'd been wearing when he got here the previous evening.

"Did we go out last night or something?" he asked, but Peter continued to ignore him. He pushed back the duvet. A collar shirt, even a tie (although it was not done up tight), if he'd only been wearing a jacket as well he might step straight into the office quite respectably. "Come on, man, help me out here. If I've done something wrong I'm sorry, but I can't really remember it. What's the deal?"

Peter, apparently satisfied with the fussing he'd been doing, left the room. From downstairs Carol's voice called up, asking if he wanted any tea.

"Yes please," called Peter.

"And one for me too!" Daniel added. There was no response.

Having emptied his bladder, which he'd found on standing to be uncomfortably full, Daniel hunted around without success for his missing sock. He gave it up for a bad job after a few minutes, and hearing the sound of a kettle boiling, padded down the (thankfully carpeted) stairs and into the kitchen. Peter and Carol were standing at the breakfast bar, Peter propped up against it while Carol leant into him.

The kitchen, looking onto the front garden, was an airy room - light surfaces, white appliances, and a clean marble floor that was extremely cold under his exposed toes. Daniel lifted his left leg and stood like a flamingo while he looked around for his cup. Nothing. So Carol was in on this too. Perhaps he had made a pass at her.

He watched his hosts for a few seconds. They were both still in their dressing gowns, bright splashes of colour against the pale background of their kitchen. They were quiet, relaxing into each other's arms and occasionally reaching out to one or other of the teas to take a quick sip. A thin haze of steam hung over each mug.

"If this is about something I said, or did..." Daniel tried. No response. "Look, I'm sorry about this, but I genuinely do not know what went on last night. I think I might have had a bad"--what did I eat?--"..maybe I drank too much. But I can't remember anything, so I'm really sorry. I'll just apologise now, and I really mean it."


He flicked the switch on the kettle, took a mug off the little tree by the sink, dropped a tea-bag into it. Peter and Carol, still caught up in themselves, ignored him. He stared straight at them, waiting for a response, but the kettle - still hot from before - interrupted his glower by boiling and clicking itself off.

"So what about Dan last night?" Carol asked. He froze, the freshly-made cup of tea halfway to his lips. Carol was smiling, her left hand resting just inside the right pocket of Peter's dressing gown.

"God, yes - typical Dan," Peter laughed.

"OK, this is getting a bit much-" Dan started, but Carol talked straight over him.

"When he called Joan in to check that thing on the back of his neck - I thought I'd die laughing."

I remember that, he thought. Why don't I remember anything else?

"Shame he left so early this morning," Peter said. "I was going to see if he wanted to come out to lunch with some of the guys from work."

"With Lisa, you mean."

"I think they'd get along, so sue me."

Daniel had stopped paying attention. He walked around the counter to look at the microwave. It was nearly ten.

Left so early?

An odd sensation began to crawl up his back.


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