Friday 28 November 2008

The Jilting of Carlotta

This Short Story is a sequel to the previous one. As before, all resemblance to characters living or undead, is purely coincidental.

He had felt in a curiously good mood all day. Last night's conversation with Carlotta had seemingly gone remarkably well. He had manage to avoid speaking to her till he got back in from the pub, having evaded speaking to her all evening. So when he finally rang her, he was well lubricated. And for once she seemed reasonable. Well, kind of. He'd actually heard her use the words 'I think we should stop talking'. Woohoo! Not just me then, he'd thought! He'd vague memories of her wittering away about 'bitches online' out to get her before the phone battery mercifully died and he'd turned over to go to sleep without thinking anything more of it. He doubted he'd heard the last of her yet, but surely, progress was being made.

This unjustified optimism was brought short on the way home. Up came 'Douglas calling' on the screen of his mobile.

Him: Yes mate!

Douglas: What the fuck have you done now? I am not happy with you!
Him: Slow down, slow down. I'm not a mind reader. What am I supposed to have done now?

Douglas: This woman off the internet! The one you talk to!

Him: Carlotta, yes.

Douglas: Well, when you were out last night she rung and Diana answered the phone (Diana was his flatmate and Douglas' girlfriend)

Him: O---kayyyy.

Douglas: She went off at Diana, Diana was quite scared really. This Carlotta or whatever her name was was going off about how she knows loads of stuff about me and Diana, our full names, stuff about us, that she knew you and I liked the odd bit of Charlie, loads of stuff. And she was saying how you've used her and how you've promised to go to Canada with her and you're going to Paris with her at Christmas and how she thinks you treat her like shit.

Him: Douglas, Douglas, slow down. None of this is going to happen. I am NOT going to Canada. Nor, to be honest, do I think I want to go to Paris.

Douglas: Well, that's as may be, but I kind of got the impression from Diana that she was pretty much threatening that things could come out if you don't honour your promises to her.

Him: Well, yes, I think this is undeniably true. This is a problem I've faced for a while, but I don't think she'd go for you two. But I AM worried she'll go for me. It's my blog I'm worried about, so I need to find a way to get her out of my life in such a way as that she doesn't turn on my blog.

Douglas: Look, I think I'm being pretty patient here. Your women related fuck ups should not affect me and shouldn't affect Diana, who is not only my girlfriend but YOUR flatmate. She shouldn't have to put up with this shit from people we don't know and haven't asked to be involved in our lives. Deal with it.

Him: I know, I know. I'm sorry you got dragged into it. But really, it's not my fault. I've tried to get her off my back, but she seems to have- got the wrong end of the stick about a few things.

Douglas: Don't give me that! I can work out exactly what happened. Because Diana has filled me in on these little phone conversations. You did your usual thing of being interested and lovey dovey and spouting romantic shit and you probably DID say you wanted to go to Paris and go to Canada and all that. And then when she got all clingy and you found her a nuisance, you got bored but couldn't get rid of her. This is what you do time and time again. Only this time you probably went extra overboard because she was at the end of a phone and not in reality.

Him: I guess so. I guess it never quite entered reality for me. Just some fantasy at the end of the phone. Like a chatline or something. But not the sort of thing you want in real life. You're right of course.

Douglas: (Calming down) Only because I know you. I know how your mind works. Because I see similar cycles over and over again. Ok, right, well no point me getting angry at you, we just have to be about decisive about this. Decisive. You know, that thing you are incapable of doing most of the time.

Him: Ok. What do you suggest?

Douglas: Ok. Well- you went it over with her, yes?

Him: Yes.

Douglas: Go home, write her an e-mail. A nice e-mail. Explain the situation and say that in view of how Diana took that call last night, you want that to be an end and her not to contact you again. No open ended maybes or anything. Thankyou, but goodbye. But do it NICELY. And then change your numbers.

Him: I only need to change the landline. I got a new mobile two weeks ago when I lost the other one. She keeps asking for the new one, I won't give it her.

Douglas: That's one less problem then.

Him: Right. What do I say then? How do I word it?

Douglas: You're not a fucking idiot, you're a salesman for God's sake. And you write posts which, from the odd one I've seen are well written. Surely you can write a goodbye e-mail?'

Him: Douglas, I tend to end it with people by sending them one line text messages. Or meeting them in crowded pubs, saying it's over, and then making a sharp exit. I finished with a woman who may actually have subsequently given birth to a child of mine, by downing my pint, saying 'Goodbye' and running. Does this strike you as someone who does these things very well?

Douglas: Ok, well for once in your life, just once, you can try rise above the generally inept and incompetent way you ditch women and try and use your charm skills, you know, the ones you tend to use to get the women in the first place, actually use them to get rid of them for once?

Him: Ok. I'll call her when I get in and say all this.

Douglas: Are you sure calling is the answer? Wouldn't a mail be better? Isn't the problem with the phone that you can't do it?

Him: No, because this time I'll say Douglas and Diana want us to stop talking.

Douglas: You can't phrase it like that! Bring it in, maybe. In a subtle kind of way, make it clear that what she did last night was not well received and you can't really carry on talking after what happened last night, but don't phrase it that we demanded you don't. We'd both rather you stopped talking to her yes. But so would you. From what I see, none of this is doing you any good.

Him: Ok, ok. I'll ring you when it's done.

Douglas: Good. I'll be waiting to hear how it went.

He went home, but found he had a problem. The landline phone still lay on his pillow, uncharged. That left his mobile. Could he 141 a mobile? He'd never tried and now wasn't the time to see if it worked. Payphone then.
He tried using a payphone, but she didn't answer. She knows what this is about, he thought. And she knows this is a payphone.

He went home and considered the e-mail option. Then it occurred to him, there was a better solution yet. The problem after all, was related to his blog. If he didn't have a blog, the problem wouldn't exist. He would have just not taken her calls, period, as soon as she started to annoy him.
The whole thing was about the fact that he had to keep her sweet, to make sure she didn't cause damage to his blog in her anger.

So- wasn't the answer to simply state the situation on his blog? Not name names. Preserve her dignity, but simply say he no longer wanted any communication with her, and describe the fact she had called his flatmate and spoken to her in a manner his flatmate had found threatening?

He smiled. That, surely, was the answer.

That, surely, preserved him. It preserved her dignity, yet if she then started to reveal all his dirty laundry on her blog in her anger, it would be seen for what it was. Her anger at her rejection. If he put it on his blog, then if she had any sense, she wouldn't want anyone to know it was her referred to.

So that was what he did.

Of course, he had a made a classic mistake. Assuming jilted women are rational people. Because she commented- twice, in fact. He pointed out to her in replies, that he hadn't revealed who she was- she herself was doing that.

And he hoped FINALLY, she was going away.

The following evening, he and Diana were watching Eastenders. He was the happiest he'd been in a long time. It had got to almost eight O'clock, he'd been home two hours and not seen or heard anything from Carlotta. What more could he ask for.

As the phone began to ring in the background, he settled down on the settee with a contented purr 'That'll be Douglas for you, I expect'.
Bliss. But he was wrong. Diana returned to the living room holding the handset so he could see the number. 'It's Carlotta. Do you want me to take it for you?'
He breathed out. 'If you wouldn't mind, hon bun. You're a star'.

And he listened. 'Hello, Carlotta. Mmhmm. Mmm. Well, that's what you said. No, I never said you threatened to go to publish our names, I said that you threatened that you knew our names. The way it was said....Well, that's what it sounded like...Carlotta...Carlotta. Ok, well maybe that's not how you meant it to come across, but it did. Well yes, it is my business. Not from where I'm standing. What do I mean? Well, you're saying you're in a relationship with him, well, from where I'm standing you aren't. Well, because I live with him. Carlotta, whatever you had, it seems like it's over to me. Yes, he is here. (Diana held the phone to him, he declined) No, he doesn't want to talk to you. How do I know? I just asked him. Ok, I'll ask him again. Do you want to talk to Carlotta?'

He shouted 'No, I don't. Go away you psycho! Leave us alone!'

Diana resumed 'Did you hear that? Well, I can't make him, he doesn't want to. That suggests to me, it's over....Well....Carlotta, these things happen. I'm sure he did, he does that. Well, I'm not saying that was right either. But you have to let these things go...He doesn't want to talk. Yes, I think I do have a right. Well, I think I know him better than you. I'm not saying he does. Well, I've never been his girlfriend, so I don't need to worry about that. No, I wouldn't put up with it in my boyfriend, but he isn't my boyfriend.'

In boredom, she held the earpiece away from her ear and carried on watching Eastenders whilst deranged rantings came out into the air. He got up 'I'll leave you to it, shall I? I'm going for a fag.'

When he got back, Dianna was still sitting there, holding the phone away from her. She did the crocodile snapping gesture with her free hand. He took the phone 'Carlotta, why are you bothering us? Can't you just go away now? You've already interfered in our home life enough!'

Carlotta: I had a right!

Him: No. Since when did my home life become something you should stick your nose in and start threatening my flatmate? And threatening to tell my mate's firm shit about him?

Carlotta: I never said that, didn't you hear? Diana misunderstood what I was trying to say.

Him: Well, then you expressed yourself quite badly. Either way, you didn't endear yourself to her, and now Douglas has got in on the act, and he don't want you calling here. Simple as. Diana shouldn't have to put up with your crap.

Carlotta: Diana is a twenty three year old chit of a girl! What would she know?

Him: More than you in many ways. She's a solid, sensible, working class girl. With a good head on her shoulders. With a grip on reality.Diana can see when someone is being over the top.

Carlotta: OVER THE TOP???? IS THAT WHAT YOU TOLD HER??? I bet you told her you never planned to meet me!

Him: Well, the thing is, I'd never discussed it with them. Had it come nearer the time, I'd have asked approval from both of them. And after last night, that approval is unlikely to be forthcoming. Understandable, really. We've already got Ben about to marry someone the rest of don't approve of, and it's me that's kind holding the moral highground there, so I'm CERTAINLY not going to meet up with someone who the general feeling is, wouldn't be a welcome addition to our group.

Carlotta: But the conversation wasn't like she said it was! She misunderstood me! You're going to take the word of an insecure girl over me? Your 'soulmate'?'

Him: Yes. My experience of the two of you is, Diana has her head screwed on, you are not good generally at seeing how you come across to others. I can well believe she found you scary. And that's what matters. Because I live with Diana. And she is seeing my best mate. In fact, I'm not even that bothered WHO is right. The important thing is, I'm not having relations soured with the people in life that are important to me.

Carlotta: That should be me! Douglas and Diana will go off and have a family and they'll leave you.

Him: Ah, I see. So try part me from them now, is that it? Well, you're wrong. That might be how it works in Canadian bourgeois culture, not in British working class culture. A man's best mate is his best mate for life, women, women come and go. I always told you, never try pick a fight with my friends, I'll pick them every time. Now I'm hanging up on you. Goodbye.

He literally bounced back into the living room 'It's over, Di! Over!'

Diana: You sure? You said that a few weeks back, after that blog club thingie.

Him: Ach! I'm sure she won't call again.

Diana: Do you want to talk about it?

Him: I don't know. Usual shit, but nastier this time. Like Sarah, but with Sarah I could just ignore her texts. Di. Tell me honestly, am I total bastard, or do I attract nutters? What I mean is, do I turn them into freaks, or were they freaks to start with, just I'm crap at detecting it?

Diana: I don't think you turn them into freaks, I think they are freaks to start with. BUT. But you need to look at what you do. I think you bring out the freakiness.

Him: Explain.

Diana: Because you attract women with needy qualities. Because in a sense, you don't want to bother actually doing the hard work and finding someone really suitable. So you latch on to lapping up attention from needy women. And then they get too much for you. All you actually want, is their attention. You don't want- the rest of it.

Him: Well, no. Not when it's freaky. I just want someone NORMAL. NOT FREAKY. Someone a bit more like you and a lot less like Carlotta. A down to earth girl who doesn't take things too seriously. Someone who'll just leave my tea on the side and then go back to watching the TV. (He smiled) Like you do. That's one of the things I like about you. Why though? Why do they go so freaky?

Diana: Because you don't give them closure. Yes, she's being freaky. But she wants closure. Any woman does. Men don't see it. And you, well, you don't give it, ever.

Him: Because I don't quite get the whole thing. What do you need, an autopsy? A fucking inquest? It was fun, it ain't, let's stop. Problemo? Ok, point taken, it's something I clearly need to work on, for next time. Plan for closure as well as having clear exit strategy planned. Still Diana, I'd like to avoid these types of women generally. I need to be better at spotting the smell of Lagomorphs in saucepans.

Diana: What are Lagomorphs?

Him: Douglas would have got it. Sorry, I'm doing what I usually do. Use grandiloquent language to emphasise my detached contemplativity. Lagomorphs are the Order to which bunnies belong.

Diana: One day you're just going to have to bite the bullet and let someone past those walls. That's the problem, really. That you're scared to really let someone in.

Him: What, now you're saying I should have let her in?

Diana: No, not Carlotta. But someone. Some day.

He looked at her and looked away again.

Him: Maybe. I don't know.

Diana: Douglas said earlier, he thinks you should go up to Manchester this weekend. Because I'll be babysitting my brother. And he thinks really, you need to be away from the flat. Away from the PC. Away from the threat of phones ringing.

Him: That might be an idea, yes.

Diana: Go. You should. You two need time together right now, after this.

He felt a curious warm feeling. Douglas would always be there to look after him. Douglas would always be there. He would be safe from Carlotta and any other person who ever tried to force their way into his life as long as Douglas was there. Safe.

His world was not yet broken into.
Not yet.

Maybe his chance to find happiness in life, could yet be.


Anonymous said...

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Anonymous said...

I agree. And, unless you're trying to be amusing, your disclaimer is a bit redundant.

Crushed, people are fragile creatures. You may have been able to escape relatively unscathed up until your last experience. But you can't promise the world to someone and then not expect consequences when the promises are broken.

It seems that she was under significant stress and this whole situation is the straw the broke the camel's back and she has had a breakdown. I suspect that she had an enormous amount of other stress in her life before you, and I also imagine that you knew about it.

You keep saying how hard you are done by but you keep throwing fuel on the fire. Stop.

Anonymous said...

That is one scary picture of an angry woman!

Anonymous said...

...p.s I know that you are writing these posts in response to what she is putting up about you, but it IS fuel to the fire in a way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments, peeps.

I guess since the thin veneer of a 'short story' has kind of been shot down, I'll just make the following remarks.

I don't intend to allude to any of this ever again.
Believe it or not, I do actually still find it in my heart to feel sorry for her at some level, it's just she drives me mad.

And I shouldn't rise to it, I know.

I actually often think sometimes, that's its a shame my memories of her are so- bitter. Because at one time I didn't see her that way. Not at all. I think if we'd talked for a few months and then it had just ended, I'd remember her in a very positive light today, no doubt about it. Maybe we'd actually even mail eachother from time to time.

I guess I just find it hurtful being portrayed as a vindictive, unfeeling person when the reverse is true. Many people would say I can be quite oversensitive and sentimental, in some ways. I'm just not a very patient person. Frankly, I'm temperamental and bloody minded as hell.

I'm not going to allude to any of the events following this as far s her and I were concerned, but I will let you in on the conversations myself and the Baker (For obviously he's Douglas), had in Manchester on the subject, and subsequently last Christmas. We only ever discussed it in depth twice, actually.

The first time, he was actually more pissed off I'd not discussed it with him before. After all, that's always kind of been the deal. He does get annoyed when I keep more serious problems from him, because I guess he feels I shouldn't be that cagy.

His main comments were that the whole thing was more about me being indecisive. He thinks that's my main flaw, which it is. I put off decisions hoping that they'll kind of make themselves.
He also pointed out much the same things D said.

At Xmas the conversation was more actualy comparing notes.
He actually brought up a similar problem he had- one which, irony of ironies, I had lectured him all the time it was going on. Guess he got his own back, eh?

What had happened was he'd got drunk, and slept with the woman who he liased with at the chain of supermarkets his firm sold to.

Only he regretted it in the morning.
Thing was, she wanted more.
Big supermarket chain, small supplier.
A little thing like her getting a fit of pique really could affect his career.
So for almost two years, he had to take her to dinner and sleep with her every time she came to Macnchester.

He reminded me how I'd pilloried him on this...

La Femme- I think she had been under stress of some kind, yes. In spite of what she thinks, I've not actually betrayed any of the things she told me, except once in a comments section where she made my an untrue accusation about me, and I'm sorry to say I refuted it with a fact I actually knew about her. It was ill tempered, I realise.

I think if people were aware of the full facts, they would see how remarkably restrained I've been in fact, and this is partly because I THINK I actually understand her, in a way. When we did talk, she did tell me things about her life. A part of me thinks she blatantly makes up elements of mine for fear I might be spreading salacious stories about what I know about hers.

Yes, I believe there are burdens she carries.
No, I don't think everything she ever said to me was true. Because I noticed over time, she'd start telling me long in depth stories about things. But extra facts used to appear over time, all of which made me wonder what was at the centre of the onion.
I didn't find out, but I think she did want to show me. I don't think she's shown anyone else.

I didn't find out, but I have certain suspicions, and I don't actually voice those, and I'm not going to now or at any other time either.

But sometimes when she's really vindictive, sometimes when she really seems to have lost touch with reality- or even just plain truth- I try remind myself that if my theory is correct, then I should perhaps make allowances.
Hard when you're on the receiving end though.

It was a huge fuck up on my part, I'll put my hands up to that once and for all, and I do sincerely apologise to her for any pain she went through and I hope she can find peace, somehow, I really do.

And not peace that involves dancing on my grave.

She won't be posted about again.

Believe it or not, I actually only checked this comments halfway through a post I'm on explaining a new departure for this blog- part of which involves finally and truly drawing a line under all of this.