Bad Company

He shows up at five when you’re just home from the office and dog tired, unannounced and uninvited, a smile on his thin lips as you open the door.

“Sorry to stop by so late, old chum,” He says, “But I have something I’ve just got to show you.”
You wave him in with a forced grin, cheerily inquiring about his health as you shoot an apologetic look to your wife. She knows, and you know, that he’s always been bad company.

Dinner’s in the oven, of course, and there’s just enough for an extra mouth. She sets the third place at the table and checks the wine cooler – should be fine. He notices, you’re sure, that he’s straining for three an ample meal for two, but he’s never perturbed. Bad company this one, mark your words.

Dinner passes with merry laughter through gritted teeth, you smile and chortle while shooting daggers. He, oblivious as always, makes subtle passes at your wife. She tactfully demurs, ever the hostess, ever the sweetheart. You make a mental note to pick her up something nice on the way home tomorrow. You might even find the energy to make tonight special, if he’d just leave… But that would be far too easy, especially for someone who’s proving himself to be very bad company.

After dinner it’s coffee and dessert in the living room. The sponge cake was for your mother; your wife baked it last night for the special occasion of her arrival. Now, forced into the social corner, it serves as sacrificial lamb to appease the intruder in the cheap blue suit, his greasy hair and well-worn smile bleeding into your immaculate sofa as he gabs incessantly about nothing at all. His behavior is barbaric, the true mark of bad company.

He asks to see your new ratchet set, so you reluctantly lead him into the garage. You feel a slight migraine headache coming on. You’ve got to get him out of here, and soon. You steal a glance at the clock on the far wall, half-past ten. He grins enthusiastically at your gleaming collection of shiny tools, a practiced eye skimming over their chromium surfaces. You display the ratchets with a faint flicker of pride; bad company like him doesn’t know quality when he sees it.

In the living room again, half-past twelve, you finally shed the vestige of propriety and announce you’re going to bed. If he doesn’t take the hint, he can damn well sleep on the coffee table. As your wife follows you down the hall you hear a faint thud from behind. You turn to see her head open like a wet paper bag upon the sudden intrusion of your new wrench, swung swiftly by the pudgy arm in the cheap blue sleeve. He advances with an apologetic half-smile.

“Thanks for the pleasant evening, chum… I know I can be bad company.”

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