The following week proved to be a slow and boring week for Riesling and Walter. Riesling however was deep in thought about her relationship with Walter. She felt strangely attracted to this oddball of a man who was obviously bright but completely hopeless and vulnerable. She wasn’t sure whether her feelings towards him were sympathy, pity, or LOVE pure and simple. That last thought scared her; she never loved another man except her father, which was a different kind of love, isn’t it
As for Walter, he had no doubts at all about his feelings towards Riesling; he was caught hook, line, and sinker! His only doubts centred on her feelings towards him. But being an eternal optimist, Walter focused his energies towards this coming Saturday, which must have fallen asleep on the way because it was taking its time arriving!
For the first time in 18 years, Walter’s work seemed dull and boring and the only notable thing about it was the submission of yet another application for a device called BedComp that seemed familiar to him on two counts. First, the invention was remarkably similar to his TummyTop idea he had over 10 years ago. The BedComp application was for a small computer to be used while lying down. The device will have a clever rotating screen that automatically pivots to give the user the same angle of view no matter how upright or slouchy he/she was lying. The specification was almost identical to Walter’s design for the TummyTop. The second familiar thing about the application is the name of one of the two named inventors. The first applicant, Caroline Aloy was not familiar but the second one rang a faint bell in Walter’s mind but he couldn’t work out why it was familiar. He made a note of the name in his notebook and felt mildly irritated that yet another invention of his has been scooped by other people.
On Friday, Riesling did something for the first time in her life. She went to a trendy beauty salon on the High Street which is part of a new and successful nationwide chain of salons called Leila’s Boudoir and asked for a complete make over. She had very little idea what that entailed, she just remembered hearing the phrase on television and the person who had it went in looking like a boiled chicken and came out looking a right stunner!! Two and a half hours and a£195 later, Riesling came out a right stunner! They cut and blow dried her hair but, being unruly and wiry hair, the result was questionable; they manicured her finger and toe nails, which tickled like mad; exfoliated her face which felt lovely; waxed her legs which hurt like stink; plucked her eyebrows which made her cry; and finally, they put on loads of make up on her cheeks, eyes and lips. When she looked in the mirror, she blushed with embarrassment but liked the way she looked and hoped Walter will like it too. In the evening, she decided to sleep in her father’s big armchair to avoid messing her hair and make up. She had a dreadful night sleep, what with the uncomfortable armchair, Izha sleeping on top of her and her mind racing at 100 miles an hour fretting about tomorrow.
Walter slept even less. He too was fretting about Saturday so, he spent most of the evening working on his next big idea writing new thoughts and features in his notebook. It was his way of keeping his mind off tomorrow. He came across that name again. He flicked through his notebook and discovered that he made a note of the same name on no less than five different occasions but he always forgot to look into it! At around 2:00 a.m. he was so exhausted, he closed his notebook and went to bed for a few hours sleep.
Finally, Saturday arrived. Walter and Riesling met at Cardiff bus station at around 11:00 a.m. Walter hardly recognised Riesling with her make over and had to do a double take when she approached him. For his part, Walter shaved extra close today and managed to nick himself in seven different places on his face. He nearly fainted with surprise and delight when Riesling gave him a little peck on the left cheek between two shaving cuts. He only thought of reciprocating when she had already finished delivering the kiss and was pulling away, so poor Walter ended up air kissing, like those trendy celebrities, without intending to. Riesling wore a black skirt and a yellow top with black spots. She also wore her name tag again, which pleased Walter so much he was sure she felt something for him. As it was a cool day on Saturday, Riesling had her brown duffle coat on.
They walked to the shopping mall in the city centre to look around the various shops. Walter said he needed a new pair of trousers and a warm coat. They walked into Burtons and found a nice pair of trousers but no suitable coats. They tried Debenhams and BHS without success. Finally, they walked to the “Welsh Dresser” gentlemen outfitters and found a good range of coats. Twenty minutes later, they walked out with Walter proudly sporting a brand new brown duffle coat and a flat cap! Riesling slipped her hand into his and they walked together looking for somewhere that served bacon butties. Walter thought Cardiff was heaven and he was one of God’s chosen children. Riesling was on cloud nine too. All and all, there was more contentment and happiness in the hearts of these two people than had been experienced by the entire Welsh nation after Ryan Giggs had scored a hat trick against Brazil in the World Cup Final; Ian Woosenam putting at the 18th against Tiger Woods to win the British Open; and Wales scoring a last minute try against England to win Rugby’s Triple Crown and the Six Nations Championship, all on the same afternoon. Not that such a combination of events had actually ever happened but, if it did, there wouldn’t be as much joy in the Welsh Valleys as there was in Walter and Riesling hearts on that Saturday lunchtime!
They had their lunch, walked around town and went to the cinema to see a James Bond film which Walter enjoyed more than Riesling but she didn’t mind. They held hands and shared a huge bucket of popcorn! James Bond was playing cards with his enemy and Walter thought of a new invention for James Bond to wear as a pair of glasses that would enable him to see all the other players’ cards. He couldn’t wait to start working on this new idea.
When they came out of the cinema, it was passed 7:00 p.m. and they went straight to the bus station. Walter had a thought.
Walter: eh, Riesling, why don’t you stay over at my place? I have a nice spare bedroom where you will be very comfortable
Riesling: oh I am not sure about that pet
Walter: honest, I do have a nice spare room and you won’t be bothered or anything, I promise
Riesling: it is not that pet, I haven’t brought change of clothes or a toothbrush or anything
Walter: there is a Tesco Extra down the road from my house, we can go and get you anything you need
Riesling: mmm, alright then pet!
They jumped on bus number 30 and smiled at each other all the way to the bus stop near Harlech Retail Park. They crossed the road to the Tesco Extra Store where Riesling bought herself a nightie, a pair of pants, shampoo, conditioner, a tooth brush and, while she was at it, she picked up six bars of Turkish Delight, a packet of Tesco’s quality bacon and a loaf of sliced bread for their breakfast. Walter offered to pay but she wouldn’t let him.
Walter opened the front door, turned the light on in the hallway and went ahead of Riesling to have a quick inspection of the place to remove any potentially offending items that might be lying around such as his underwear or socks! Luckily, there was none. Not that the place was tidy or anything; Walter was not dirty, but he wasn’t tidy either. He led Riesling to the lounge and offered her a seat, went straight to the gas fire and turned it on to make sure Riesling was comfortable. Riesling took her duffle coat off and laid it across the back of her armchair and sat down. Not used to having visitors, Walter stood in the middle of the room not knowing what to do next and finally, he remembered:
Walter: would you like a coffee or tea or something else?
Riesling: do you have Guinness pet?
Walter: no, no, no but I can run to Tesco and…
Riesling: don’t worry pet, I would love a cup of tea with milk and 3 sugars please
Walter: you mean 3 spoons of sugar?
Riesling: yes please?
Walter: what size?
Riesling: just a normal cup
Walter: I mean what size spoon?
Riesling: have you ever made tea Walter pet?
Walter: yes, yes, yes, many times eh, Riesling, why?
Riesling: I would like three small spoons of sugar please Walter pet
Walter: right you are eh, Riesling
Walter disappeared into the kitchen leaving Riesling sitting by herself with a black cat which was asleep on the big sofa when they walked in and now the fire was on, the cat got up and walked over and went back to sleep in front of the hearth. Riesling got up and went over to the cat to stroke it. She said: “hello pussycat, I have a black pussycat just like you, what’s your name then?”, the cat lifted its head, yawned, miaowed an answer, licked its paw and went back to sleep again. Riesling spotted a round metal disk round the cat’s neck, which had a name of “Zatar” on it. Riesling said: “hello, Zatar, I am Riesling”. The cat felt it had already done enough polite chat for one evening and ignored the last attempt at socialising by the strange wiry haired woman in the house.
Riesling straightened herself up and looked around the room. The lounge was fairly large and very busy. At one corner, there was a television set with a sofa and two armchairs surrounding a coffee table cluttered with many books but no magazines. At the other end, there was a desk and a chair. That part of the lounge was a complete riot of papers, files, folders, books, a computer, a printer, a scanner and many empty cups of tea and coffee! In between the two ends of the lounge was a gas fire place on one wall. On either side of the fire place and on the opposite wall, there were five book cases filled from floor to ceiling with dozens of books which were randomly placed on the shelves and on the floor in front of the book cases. Riesling guessed there must have been at least a thousand books in the room. Riesling looked at some of the books and they all seemed to do with science and technology, which wasn’t her bag really. The other thing which attracted Riesling attention was a group of three pictures over the fire place. She walked over and inspected the pictures more closely. The one on the left was of a gentleman with thick glasses an army moustache and ginger hair. He didn’t look too pleased with having to have his picture taken. The other picture on the right was of a woman in her thirties or possibly forties, it was hard to tell. The interesting thing about the woman is that if you were to shave her head round the edges, remove the make up and give her a few extra kilos of weight, she would be the spitting image of Walter himself! Riesling guessed the two people were Walter’s late parents. The third picture was a school picture of class 6 of 1970. Riesling wondered if she could guess which one was Walter without looking at the list of names below the picture. There were 30 boys and girls in four rows with a teacher in the middle of the front row. Riesling couldn’t make out which of the boys was Walter so she gave up and looked for clues. Below the picture some text declared in large letters: “Newhaven Southdown Elementary School” and below that in smaller typeface it had the list of names. In the back row of the picture, she read the names of Linda Jones, Adrian Smith, Gill Bates, Claire Hiscott, Walter Patch, Sally Stevens, Alan Wells, and Andrew Pickles. She looked at the picture again and was surprised how different Walter was aged 11 from the way he looks these days. She wondered if either Claire Hiscott or Sally Stevens was Walter’s girlfriend, she had a twinge of jealousy at the thought. At this point, Walter walked in with two cups of tea on a tray with some Turkish Delight.
They chatted for a while and agreed to go for a long walk tomorrow. Riesling asked Walter if he kept in touch with any of his class mates but he said no. Walter said that one of the boys is now a very rich and famous businessman in Australia. They finally decided to go to bed and Walter showed Riesling to her bedroom, which as he promised was nice and warm if a little plain. Riesling was happy enough with the room. She went to the bathroom, brushed her teeth came out, kissed Walter goodnight and went to her bedroom. Walter was a happy man. He never had a woman in his house before and it felt great. He went to the bathroom, brushed his teeth, gargled noisily and went to bed in a state of ecstasy.