Shut Up and Drive!
Chapter 2: Estelle's Parents
Copyright© 2014 by Denham Forrest
It was with more than a little apprehension that Ted parked his Ford alongside the Bentley and BMW, that were strategically positioned -- to display the owner's affluence -- on the driveway in front of the Warender family seat.
Ted rarely felt comfortable around -- what he himself described as -- "upper class gits!" Especially, if they tried to come-on too-strong for him to stomach. In the past it hadn't been unknown for Ted to lose his cool and tell them exactly what he thought of them. Although, if there was likely to be a large cheque in the offing at the end of the encounter, Ted had been known to summon up enough self-discipline to bite his tongue.
However the two people Ted was about to be introduced to were the parents of Estelle; the woman he'd secretly worshipped since he'd first clapped eyes on her - some fifteen or sixteen years before. And whom -- since her sudden self-proclaimed change of perspective, (in the past a famously stuck-up bitch herself) had implied to Ted that her parents (well her mother at least) was an even worse snob than she'd ever been.
Oh, not for one second did Ted believe that Estelle was the new woman she claimed that she had become. Ted was quite sure that Estelle would very soon revert to type, even if just superficially. But he was pretty convinced that she had fallen in love him and he knew that he loved Estelle. Ted's attitude was, that Estelle might be a stuck-up bitch, but she was going to be his damned stuck-up bitch; no matter how much Estelle claimed otherwise ... Well, a leopard can't change its spots, can it?
As Estelle slid out of the passenger seat, it struck Ted that the outfit she was wearing might not have been such an appropriate choice. It was something Stella had "found" upon Ted's models' outfit rack and he thought that maybe it was a touch too revealing for the occasion. Perhaps it might have been better if they'd called into Estelle's house so she could change into something more fitting from her own wardrobe. But not knowing if Estelle's soon to be ex-spouse was still in residence ... well it had been decided that there was little point in inviting a punch-up.
Ted caught a glimpse of a shadowy figure moving behind the net curtains as Estelle sashayed her way towards the front door on those exquisitely long legs of hers. Shown-off to perfection as they were, by the briefness of the dress's hemline and the height of the stiletto heels on her shoes. He was quite sure that Estelle knew exactly what she was doing to the inner Ted when she walked like that.
Trailing along (somewhat) reluctantly, Ted was gazing around at the overt opulence of the abode and it's immaculate gardens and wondering whether the house was going to be even worse on the inside, not even daring to contemplate the reception that he was about to receive.
Opening the front door with her own key, Stella called out, "Come along, darling!" and then very pointedly she winked at Ted and added, "Please?" before disappearing inside. That was the first time Ted could recall that Stella had addressed him as "Darling!" and it did further strange things to his psyche.
Ted stopped on the threshold, reached up to straighten the necktie that he wasn't wearing and inwardly cursed himself for neglecting to put one on.
The fact that he didn't habitually wear a necktie, added to the point that Ted had not the slightest clue as to where his meagre supply of ties could be located, did not enter his thought process. All that did, was to highlight the fact that he was about to meet the parents of the woman he loved for the first time, and he knew that he should be wearing a bleeding necktie.
From some folks' perspective it might look like Ted had been dragged-up and he'd always enjoyed playing the bad-boy. But when the occasion demanded it, Ted could display impeccable manners; it was just that he selected very carefully to whom, Ted would or would not display those manners.
As Ted had suspected it would, the inside of the house had the look of a show-home about it. Not a place many people would choose to live in, more a collection of carefully selected, expensive furniture, on display to be gazed at and admired.
Estelle led to way into the lounge where her mother was waiting ... positioned, seated on a chair for effect. Estelle's father was ... hovering over near the window, from where he could make a choreographed advance towards Ted as Estelle introduced them.
"Mother, father, this is Ted, my soon to be new husband." Estelle casually announced as Ted followed her into the room. "Ted, my mother and father!"
Estelle's father timed his move to perfection. The grinning man advanced towards Ted proffering his hand, but addressed his daughter first. "You've got to divorce Roger first, Topsy. That'll take a couple of months I'm sure. I'm very pleased to meet you young man!" Estelle's father said, switching his attention to Ted as he spoke and shaking Ted's hand ... maybe a little overenthusiastically. "You do realise what you're taking on here, don't you, young man?"
"I believe I do, yes, sir." Ted replied. A little surprised by Estelle's father's seemingly relaxed and enthusiastic greeting.
But then Mr Warender fixed Ted with a stern expression. "I'm Norman, Ted. I'm sure that we're going to get along just fine. But I'll point out that Estelle here is the apple of my eye and I'm not someone you'd want to get on the wrong side of."
"I understand you perfectly ... Norman. Estelle has been the apple of my eye for far longer than I care to remember: I would never like to see her upset about anything!"
The two men smiled at each other. A mutual understanding reached and agreed between them; even if only a perfunctory one.
While Ted had been talking to Estelle's father, her mother had risen to her feet and had been studying the interloper in the life she had planned-out for her daughter, with a critical eye, plus a healthy measure of inherent disdain. Not that Daphne Warender's plan appeared to have been working true to course of late.
Theoretically Roger Cooper should have been perfect: he had the breeding, all the right family connections and he certainly had a very healthy bank account.
Had Roger and Estelle produced grandchildren for Daphne, he would have been able to afford to send them to all the right schools. However Estelle had been somewhat intolerant, and shown a marked reluctance to ignore Roger's little peccadilloes.
Now suddenly -- and completely out of the blue -- Estelle was saying that she was intending to divorce Roger Cooper and marry this long-haired hippy painter, or whatever he was. Daphne Warender was not impressed with the plan.
On feeling Daphne Warender's hostile gaze; once again the lack of a necktie entered Ted's thoughts.
"I'm pleased to meet you Mr ... I'm sorry, my daughter has been a little remiss."
"Harper, Mrs Warender. Ted Harper at your service, ma'am!" Ted replied, immediately wishing he could withdraw the statement. Mrs Warender had not looked best-pleased with his words.
"Take a seat please, Mr Harper." Daphne Warender invited.
Ted, Estelle and Daphne Warender, seated themselves, while Norman Warender strolled back over to a window at the other end of the room and stood there, ostensibly gazing out of the window, his hands clasped behind his back. However every few seconds or so, Norman Warender would turn, glance over at Ted and Estelle, before turning away again and secretly smiling to himself.
"Estelle would you please explain what's going on?" Daphne Warender demanded. "Your father has been somewhat obtuse and rather vague about events over the weekend. Purposely so I suspect!" Daphne threw a withering glance at her husband's back.
"I'm going to divorce Roger mother, and then Ted and I are going to get married as soon as we can arrange it."
"But Estelle..." Mrs Warender began to reply until her husband interrupted her.
"Daphne, maybe some tea would be a nice idea, about now!"
Oddly, Ted thought -- he'd got the impression that Estelle's mother was about to ... go-off on one! -- Mrs Warender instantly acquiesced to her husband's suggestion.
"Yes Norman, I agree!" Daphne replied, then stood to leave the room.
However Daphne Warender delayed just long enough to suggest that Estelle went to her old room and found something "more appropriate" to wear at that time of the day.
"Good idea, Topsy!" Norman Warender agreed.
Ted mouthed the word "Topsy?" to Estelle as she went to follow her mother from the room. Estelle shrugged, smiled back at him, stealing a glance towards her father's back as she did so, then was gone.
Ted found himself sitting alone in the room looking at Estelle's father's back while he continued to gaze out of the window.
Norman Warender smiled inwardly as he heard the door close behind Stella.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, Ted. But you have a studio on Bell Lane, don't you?" Norman Warender asked
"You are correct S ... Norman."
Norman Warender smiled again, and silently chuckled to himself; satisfied that Ted was who Norman had thought he was.
Estelle's father had recognised Ted Harper's name the instant his daughter had mentioned him the previous day. And he'd remembered how in her younger days, Topsy had ranted-on about the insolent fellow college student.
As a child Topsy had always been her "father's daughter". It was to him she taken her troubles and for a while -- as she grew older -- those troubles had included Topsy's romantic problems as well. However as her teenage years progressed his Topsy, had morphed into Estelle, as she'd fallen more and more under her mother's influence.
However Norman Warender could vividly recall -- many years before -- that one of Shakespeare's famous quotes, "Methinks the lady doth protest too much!" had crept into his mind when his Topsy had complained to him about the handsome young hooligan at college, Ted Harper, who had accosted her.
What's more, Norman Warender had noted that it hadn't been Estelle he'd just watched climb out of Ted's car and walk to the front door. It had been a sudden and unexpected reincarnation of his Topsy returning home. Norman Warender had been forced to conclude that the young man sat on the sofa behind him, had to have been the catalyst for that sudden and instantly recognisable change in his daughter's demeanour.
Still keeping his face adverted from Ted's sight, Norman Warender asked.
"Do you still ride that infamous motorcycle of yours, Ted?"
"We... , well no sir." Ted stuttered in reply. Completely taken aback by Norman Warender's question. "I still have it though, tucked away in the back of the garage." Ted was somewhat concerned about what Estelle's father was about to say next. Especially taking into account that Mr Warender had blatantly engineered it so that they were alone in the room.
Norman Warender spun on his heel, looked Ted directly in the eye and smiled at him.
"Ted, the local college has a governing body as you know. On which, I -- for my sins -- had the dubious honour of serving for a few years. I vividly recall your infamous stunt with the motorcycle ... most entertaining, that meeting was as well. However there were many of the faculty who were convinced your antics were just a case of misguided and/or slightly over-enthusiastic ingenuity on your part; more than a case of devilment.
"You're reputed to be a very talented artist young man; even if a little outlandish in your behaviour at times. However, you will find that even the most conservative of people..." Norman Warender's eyes moved to the door and then back to Ted. "will overlook almost any eccentricity, in favour of talent, and her daughter's happiness. Just you make sure that Estelle stays happy, young man; do you understand?"
"I believe so S ... Norman." Ted replied.
"Very well, but until my wife understands exactly who you actually are Ted. This might prove to be heavy going today. We are unable to convince Daphne of anything though: that realisation will have to be her own."
In truth Ted had little or no idea of what Norman Warender had been talking about. Ted assumed that Norman had been trying to explain to him the same thing as Estelle had: that his wife, Daphne Warender was a raving snob and would very likely to turn out to be the bane of Ted's life.
A few moments after her mother carried the tea tray into the lounge, Stella, returned dressed very much like a teenager. Resplendent in faded denim jeans, that Ted truly did wonder how Stella had managed to squeeze herself into, and an extremely tight fitting tee-shirt.
No one could possibly the mistake the fact that Estelle was not wearing a bra. Although from personal knowledge, Ted was well aware that Stella did not require artificial assistance to keep those remarkably ample breasts of hers under control. Estelle's nipples though ... now that was a completely different matter. They were -- what Ted was sure her parents would consider -- obscenely prominent. On her feet Stella was wearing a pair of well-worn trainers.
"My God Estelle, what have you got on?" Daphne Warender demanded, the instant she turned around and saw how her daughter was attired.
"Mother, you wanted me to change out of Ted's lovely dress and this is about all I could find up there that fits me. Well to be honest these jeans are a little on the snug side, I'm not too sure I'll be able to sit down in the buggers. Mind you, I'm quite proud of the fact that I can still get my bum into them; I haven't had these things on since I was eighteen."
Stella's mother had reacted saying "Estelle!" as her daughter had said the word 'bugger', but Stella had ignored the rebuke.
"Surely you could have found something a little more..." Daphne Warender began to insist.
"Mother," Stella interrupted, "I haven't lived in this house since I before got married. There's nothing much left up there! Just a couple of evening dresses really! Oh, but there are a couple of my old school uniforms, however they're so short they've got no chance of covering my arse!"
"Estelle!" Both her parents admonished together." Her father adding, "That's enough!"
"I'm sorry, daddy. But until Roger gets out of the house I'm stuck with this and the clothes Ted's got on his rack. I thought that dress I had on was quite cute ... alluring actually. Maybe more suitable for a fun night-out on the town than day wear, and possibly even a little risqué, but great fun to wear all the same. Now would you like me to pour the tea mother?"
"No, I can manage, thank you!" Daphne Warender replied.
Placing one hand on Ted's shoulder and the other on the arm of the sofa, Estelle rather stiffly and somewhat gingerly lowered herself onto the seat beside him.
"Crikes that might have been a big mistake, lover. I'm not so sure now, that these jeans were such a good idea. They're nigh-on cutting me in half. I'll never be the same again!" She giggled to Ted."
Her mother threw Estelle a withering glance as she handed Ted a cup of tea.
They certainly show off your figure, Stella." Ted commented.
"Yeah but they were far too tight when I bought the things years ago and I've put on a few pounds since then, Teddy."
"Instead of talking utter nonsense, Estelle; you might explain exactly what has happened over the weekend." Daphne Warender chided.
Estelle had a decision to make: exactly how was she going to explain the weekend's events to her parents? For a few moments she did and said nothing as she contemplated her options.
Then she glanced at Ted and decided that his no-nonsense approach to life was the way to go.
Stella conceded in her own mind that it possibly wasn't the best approach she could use with her parents, but she thought that it might prove something to Ted. Even if she wasn't exactly sure, what it would prove.
Stella kissed the new man in her life on the cheek and then fixed her eyes on her mother.
"After my last ... confrontation with Roger over his extramarital activities, which, if you recall mother, happened here in this very room not seven weeks ago. I told my husband that if he ever even thought about straying again, our marriage would over. You do remember that, mother?"
"Yes dear, but you were..." Her mother began to say
"Mother, I was pissed-off with it! That was the third different tart I'd learnt that Roger had been ... associating with, this year alone!"
"There's no need to use coarse language Estelle." Her mother observed.
"Coarse language doesn't worry me, mother; Roger's coarse tarts do! Or did anyway."
Estelle calmed herself, by giving Ted a hug and kissing him on the cheek again. She would have liked to feel his lips against her own, but thought that might be taking things too far for her mother's ... constitution to handle.
"Anyway I recently received information that my so-called reformed husband wasn't as reformed as he claimed to be. I learnt that he had taken to the habit of partying with a particularly low moral'd hussy in a certain public house on Saturday evenings.
"Last Saturday evening, I planned to lay-in-wait and ambush them together when they arrived in that bar.
"However I miscalculated. I arrived at the bar far earlier than I needed, and what's more my cheating spouse and his tart didn't show."
"Your information must have been incorrect then, Estelle!" Daphne Warender suggested.
"No it wasn't incorrect, mother; Roger had just changed his modus operandi. A two timing conniving bastard he might be; but daft, the bugger isn't! He knew that I'd eventually discover where and when he was meeting his bit of stuff."
The word "bastard" had prompted a sharp intake of breath in Daphne Warender, but somehow she'd managed to refrain from making comment.
"Anyway while I was waiting for Roger, not to show; I made the mistake of taking-on a little too much Dutch courage and the next thing I know I was complexly legless ... rat-arsed ... absolutely falling-down drunk, mother!"
"Estelle how could you? that's no way for a lady to behave!" Daphne Warender chided, a shocked expression on her face.
"Now hold on there, Estelle." Ted intervened. "One of those numpties might well have slipped something into your drink."
"My god, what kind of a place is this?" Daphne Warender demanded.
"A rather un-salubrious establishment near the railway station, mother; that purports to be a singles bar. One of my soon to be ex-husband's favourite hunting grounds, as I understand it! Anyway, fortunately Teddy here recognised the predicament I found myself in and rode to my aid like a knight from King Arthur's court."
"And just what was Ted doing in such an disreputable establishment?" Daphne Warender demanded.
"Ted is a professional artist, mother!" Estelle ranted. "A very good artist and he was supposed to be meeting a prospective client in there on Saturday evening. It's very handy for the railway station. Besides, Ted was unattached, he was perfectly entitled to be in a singles bar, alone!"
Ted was somewhat amused to hear the overt untruth effortlessly flow from Stella's mouth. Designed -- he was sure -- to divert Estelle's mother's attention from the true reason he had been in the Pig and Whistle on that fateful evening.
"Ted noticed that I wasn't looking very well and took me directly to the hospital. I had my stomach pumped, mother, and I'm rather pleased to be able to report that I cannot remember very much about it. I get flashes now and again, and they are not of an experience that I'd wish to be able to recall in detail.
"Ted sat by my hospital bed watching over me all night long and then he wet-nursed me through Sunday. Even supplying me with clean clothes to wear, my own being somewhat stained with my own vomit. I'm ashamed to have to admit that I vomited inside Teddy's car as well. However Ted behaved like a perfect gentleman and he supported me during a somewhat ugly and distasteful confrontation with Roger."
Stella's gaze moved to her father.
"It was really quite funny, daddy! Roger suddenly lost all of his usual bravado when he was confronted with my guardian angel. Handsome isn't he, mother?"
Then Stella kissed -- the slightly blushing -- Ted on the cheek again.
To say that Daphne Warender had been shocked by her daughters admission, would be putting in mildly. However her main concern was the family's public standing. She felt that it was extremely unlikely that anyone of consequence would frequent the sort of establishment her daughter had just described, and therefore it was similarly unlikely they would have witnessed her daughter's indiscretion. Well, she could only hope that they hadn't.
What was worrying Daphne Warender, was the fact that Estelle was talking of marrying a man she had apparently met just a couple of days previous. And with whom -- as Daphne Warender understood it -- Estelle had been apparently having a non-stop liaison -- most probably sexual -- ever-since she had met him.
Daphne Warender took a long slow breath.
"Estelle..." she said and then immediately moved her attention to Ted. "I mean you no disrespect, young man." Daphne then moved her eye-line back to her daughter again. "But you've only just met this young man, Estelle. You know nothing about..."
"I've known Teddy since we were at college together, mother!" Stella ranted back. "However I made the mistake of not getting to know Teddy as well as I should have done ... when I had the chance! This weekend I have fortuitously corrected that grievous error of judgement"