Chapter 22: Henri the Third’s Funeral.
Edna had not spoken to Madame Genevieve Dubois for about a year, on account of her eventually ignoring Edna’s calls. It had all come to a head when Genevieve had a massive argument with her adopted son, Matteo. Genevieve is now a fugitive living somewhere in rural France, allegedly with a new lover and Edna is here, somewhere in Curmudgeon Avenue, heartbroken, her ex-partner’s legal fees are now her legal fees. Mme Genevieve Dubois was always a slippery one. Edna picked up the telephone. Her mouth was dry, her heart thumping in her strapping ribcage. She has a legitimate reason to contact Genevieve, her cat, Henri the Third has died, although Edna found out by stalking Genevieve on Facebook that she now has a dog, a French Poodle no less when Edna had been led to believe that Genevieve preferred pussy cats! The telephone line sang the exotic international dialling tone, Edna almost returned the receiver in fearful reaction when the call clicked and was answered.
‘Hello,’ a distinctly Lancashire lady answered the phone. Edna slammed the phone down in shock. Had she got the wrong number after all? Had Genevieve moved on again? Edna wiped the nervous sweat from her top lip with her turtle neck jumper, while clutching her pearls in the other hand. ‘OH!’ She cried out in shock as the telephone screamed.
‘ ‘Ello?’ A distinctively French accent purred ‘ ‘Ello, oo is this?’
Edna’s heart burst, feelings of warm passion radiated within her, her mouth dry with nerves, lips sticking to her teeth.
‘Genevieve? Is this you?’ Edna said. There was a long pause, then the recipient of the question knew there was no point putting the phone down, she had accidentally spoken to Edna.
‘Oh! Oui! I saw thee numbrrr on my caller display, and it looked familiar… Manchester…’
‘Yes, Genevieve, I’m living at my parent’s house now on Curmudgeon Avenue, it’s where we first met, can you believe it?’
‘Ah! You have moved without telling me?’ Genevieve teased. This time the pause was on Edna’s end of the line.
‘Well, I thought you didn’t want to speak to me. The thing is, Henri the Third has died, so I thought you might want to come to the funeral.’
Both parties were silent on either side of the English Channel. Phone calls like these are expensive, so eventually, Edna blurted out:
‘Who answered the phone before?’
‘Pardon?’ Genevieve said.
‘Before, the first time I rang, I thought I had the wrong number?’
‘You must be mistaken.’
‘No, Genevieve, you said you got this number off the caller display because you … you know, before when I rang the first time.’
‘Yes, Genevieve, whoever she was, she sounded very Mancunian’ Edna did not even want to know, but she was curious.
‘Listen, Edna… I will ‘ave to let you know about zee funeral’ Genevieve said, changing the subject and her tone to that of a cold day in the Northwest. And with that, she put down the telephone.
Now, pet funerals are not uncommon in the Northwest of England. Usually performed if there is a child in the family, heartbroken and often inconsolable at the sudden lesson in mortality that their beloved familiar had provided. Children, on their knees saying a few words of sympathy around a little patch of dug up garden, concealing the corpse of any number of goldfish and hamsters. Henri the Third was due to have a funeral, it seemed the right thing to do, and the most childish person in the house, Edith had decided to write down a few words to say at the ceremony.
‘He was a French cat, so he was most likely Catholic…’ she said to Edna, who was not really listening. ‘I know that’s a bit of a sweeping generalisation, but well we can’t ask him, and I never saw him go to church. He did seem to like fish on a Friday- so that’s something to go off.’
‘Who are you talking about?’ Said Edna, (and who are you talking to?)
‘Henri the Third, of course!’ Said Edith.
‘He liked to eat fish on any day of the week, and of course, he didn’t go to church, Edith, he was a cat!’ (YOU IDIOT) Edna thought to herself. ‘I’m expecting an important telephone call, Edith, and I don’t think we should bury him until … I’ve got a definite from Genevieve if she is going to attend – he was her cat originally.’
‘I thought tuna butties and after dinner chocolate mints – he liked those’ Edith said to herself, forgetting that it was the after-dinner delights that killed the cat. Edith’s undersized brain then caught up with the conversation ‘GENEVIEVE’! Madame Dubois? Here? On Curmudgeon Avenue, where it all started?’
‘Well, nothing’s certain, It’s of no consequence to me, I just thought I would do the honourable thing and invite her’ Edna’s nostrils flared, she stuck her nose in the air.
‘Oh! We’ll have to get the emergency chairs out of the shed! I’ve invited Ricky Ricketts, and he’s bringing his on/off girlfriend Wantha, her sister Toonan – depending on if she is in prison or not and their mother, Patchouli. Oh, it’s a good job we didn’t get a lodger after all!’
‘It’s only a cat’s funeral, Edith!’
‘Any reason to get wasted they said’ Edith reported, quite innocently.
Just then, the telephone rang.
‘Oh, this will probably be Genevieve!’ Edna flushed she cleared her throat with an air of nonchalance before picking up the receiver ‘Yeeeeees’ Edna said, in her telephone voice.
‘Edna! Is that you? You sound different!’ Harold did not sound different, and even though Edna recognised his voice both disgustedly and disappointedly.
‘Who is this?’ She lied.
‘It’s me! Harold! The old dear at the corner shop told me you are looking for a lodger. Look no further, Edna – I’m your man!’
It was a combination of the ‘old dear’ description of Mrs Ali, one score younger than Harold at least – not to mention the shock of hearing his voice all these years later that did it.
‘OH! You animal!’ Edna play acted the victim of a funny phone call. ‘Do not ring here again… You pervert!’ She slammed the phone down and ran upstairs to her attic boudoir.
‘Who was it?’ Edith asked. It took her the best part of an hour to work out that Edna had been on the receiving end of a telephone sex pest. And even though Edna had been lying, what lay beneath was the ugly realisation that Harold was about to return to Curmudgeon Avenue.
Join me next week for chapter 23 where we go back to the past and find out about Edna’s revenge plot against Harold.
Until then, happy reading, Samantha xx