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Swear She'd Be a Better Man

Swear She'd Be a Better Man

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Published by Jude Ellery
Nigel Interlude #7 -- originally appearing in Man and Ball Issue One
Nigel Interlude #7 -- originally appearing in Man and Ball Issue One

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Published by: Jude Ellery on Oct 08, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Now, this was a bit more like Eng-lish weather. Nigel had coalesced onthe edge of a grassy park during alight drizzle. The sky was cloudy but not too overcast and sunlight was breaking through the shower inspots. The air was cool and the tem- perature mild. Not far off, the Cas-cades were holding the rain clouds between themselves and the mightyPacific Puget’s Sound was a far cryfrom the sweaty rainforest of Colom- bia.A shrill sound caught his attention.There was a pitch marked off with bright orange cones in the center of the park, with a goal set up at either end. The American goddess wasstanding to one side of the pitch,now dressed in navy sweatpants anda white long-sleeved kit, trimmed
Swear She’d Be A Better Man 
Illustration:CHRISTOPHER LEE >
with navy and gold. It was her whis-tle which had startled him. Now, shewas shouting encouragement to agaggle of young girls, probablyeleven or twelve years of age, whowere attempting to dribble through aseries of smaller cones laid out onthe grass.Where was hubby? Nigel lookedaround and saw a man reclining in afolding chair under a large willowtree. He was gently rocking a per-ambulator and cooing to the infantapparently inside. Nigel strolled over. The man lookedup and smiled disingenuously. Hewas wearing a lime green kit with an‘X’ emblazoned across his breast.‘Sounders FC’, the crest read.“Hello, friend.” Nigel nodded and smiled back.Friend? With someone who haddealings with Manco? Not bloodylikely.“Boy or girl?” he asked, trying tokeep his rising temper in check.The man laughed. “Girl,” he replied.“She’ll be seven in January.”Seven? In a pram? He movedaround to the other side, curious butcareful to peer into the carriagewhile simultaneously keeping an eyeon this lunatic. When he focused onthe tiny passenger, a hairy little face,all brown, black and white, with beady little eyes stared back at him.Then it snarled, showed its tinyfangs and began yapping at him in ahigh pitched squeak.By the Dragon! It was a bleedin’dog. What the bloody hell was itdoing in a pram? He backed off andtried to get out of its line of site butthe little bugger wouldn’t shut up.The man cooed at it urgently androcked the dog house faster. Thatonly made it yip louder.He heard footsteps behind andturned to find the missus hurryingover.“What’s going on?” she asked, atouch of concern in her voice. Be-hind her, the young girls were goingthrough their paces as though shestill had her eye on them.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” the man an-swered over the increasingly insis-tent barking of the miniature houndfrom hell, “Toto was just startled bythis gentleman. Nothing to worryabout.”The woman looked back and forth between her husband and Nigel, be-fore sighing and reaching into the pram and removing ‘Toto’. Thescrabbly little thing fit right in her hand. It immediately stopped bark-ing and embarked on a serious questto lick its mistress’ face. The womantolerated it for a moment, then kissedit on top of its scruffy head and placed it back into the pram.Straightening, she put her hands onher hips, fixing Nigel with a sterngaze.“And just what do you want?”“Honey, that’s no way to talk to thegentleman. He didn’t mean to startleToto. You know she’s just highstrung.”“Oh, do shut up, Todd.” The scornwas dripping from her voice. “Iswear you don’t pay attention to any-thing. Don’t you recognise him?” Nigel tensed. Todd gave him a goodonce over, with a bemused look onhis face.“No Tail, I don’t. Should I?”‘Tail’ nearly screamed in her frustra-tion.“How many times do I have to tellyou not to call me that in front of other people?!”Todd’s face went red.“Sorry, honey.” He turned towards Nigel, holding out a hand. “I’msorry if I don’t remember you, buddy, although I can’t think why Ishould. The name’s Todd and this ismy wife, Taylor. And you are?” Nigel was confused. Was this fellowthat dense or just trying to throw himoff? Taylor’s exasperated voice cutthrough the haze.“His name is Nigel.”Todd’s face still didn’t register anyrecognition but Nigel spared aglance at the woman. She was wait-

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