Bitter Sweet | Iain D Chalmers

It’s time to make some changes.


Bitter Sweet

Iain D Chalmers

Romance Alliance Award


 

I had been her personal chauffeur for nearly two years courtesy of her smarmy manager, Simon Keen. She was ‘much too valuable to be driving herself around London and getting lost- better she had a chauffeur.’ It allowed him to keep tabs on her. He needed to know where she was every second of the day- didn’t want her to move out of his sphere of influence or get notions that she could manage without him. He got twenty percent of everything she made, a real money spinner.

She had had a chauffeur before, a big strapping guy, ex-army type, but she began to get too attached.  Better with a female chauffeur. Less complications.

The first time I drove her I thought she was the archetypical dumb blond. I heard she wrote for Vanity Fail and Cosmopolitan, and had her own music blog. However, it wasn’t until I started reading her stuff that I discovered I had misjudged her. She was talented; she was the real thing. Her writing was always insightful and thoughtful and she never failed to put her own quirky spin on a story.  Her only problem was that she didn’t have a clue just how amazing she really was. It suited smarmy Simon to keep things that way.

He managed everything for her; what she would wear, the men she went out with. They were always pretty boys; footballers or rock stars. Rumour has it he liked the pretty boys himself. On one occasion a footballer started slapping her about in the back seat. She was in a right mess. I stopped at traffic lights and got out and opened the door.  I dragged him out by his hair and smacked him hard and showed him who was boss. The guy about crapped himself.  She took notice of me after that; began to trust me a bit.

She confided in me that she did writing for herself, short stories mainly, and she would let me read them. I loved them and my enthusiasm spurned her on. She plucked up courage to show them to smarmy Simon.

‘They’re crap love! No one would want to read this stuff. Stick to what your good at’

But I could see she was outgrowing him. It was only a matter of time before the penny dropped.

Last night I drove them both to some big showbiz function. She looked totally stunning in a black sequenced dress.  The place would be swarming with paparazzi and he had written her speech for her. Like he said, she needn’t worry her pretty little head about anything.

He sat in the back of the limo eating a tray of chocolate fancies. She reached for one herself.

‘I like the little plane ones the best. They’re bitter sweet.’

That was a no-no. He smacked her hand away.

‘You don’t want to get too fat love…’

Too fat! She was like …perfect.

He became ill during the ceremony and spent the whole evening on the toilet. Every time he tried to stand up he would only get a couple of steps before he would have to run back.  She walked onto the stage herself and he was forced to listened to her speech over the Tannoy. Her speech was well received, not the speech smarmy Simon had prepared, but one she herself had written. She thanked her manager for all his guidance but said that she needed to move on; she wished him well; then walked out of the function.

I had been sat in the car listening to the big breakup on the radio.  There was no going back now.  I was pleased for her, but the reality was that smarmy Simon was my employer.  I would be out of a job come morning.

She was very quiet as I drove her home and I kept glancing in the rear-view mirror to see if she was OK.  She had that sad far-away look on her face she wore when she was alone.

She picked up the box of chocolates but most of the little square ones were gone. She removed the few that were remaining and tossed them through the window.

‘But I thought these were the ones you wanted?’

She sighed.

‘You really have no idea what I want, do you?’

I was confused. She stared back at me through in the rear-view mirror. She really did have the most gorgeous eyes…’

‘…anyway, they weren’t proper chocolates. They were laxative chocolates. He had been pestering me to take them to keep my weight down. He told me that Just half a tiny square will work a treat’

‘But he must have eaten a dozen pieces. He’ll be on the toilet for a week.’

‘Yes, he most probably will.’

I drew up outside her flat and opened the car door for her.

She reached out so I could help her out and she stood stared into my eyes and held my hand warmly.

‘I think it’s time we both made some changes, don’t you? Perhaps over a glass of wine?