Jean Gabin in Scotland

20 March, 2012

The short story I wrote for my Genre and Publishing class. We were supposed to write romance.


Oil Spill


’Cunt!’ She shouted at the wind while failing to light her cigarette for a fourth time.

She always thought that hand rolled ones tasted better than your usual Marlborough, which lead her to situations like this; cigarette but no fire. She was standing on cliffs looking down a rocky beach in northern Scotland gazing at the ocean. She had no idea why she went here on this particular day as it was windy as hell and the beach was covered in oil as a Russian oil tank had done a bit of a leakage a few days earlier. She watched the poor sods cleaning up the mess the tank had left. The black thick oil and the bright red jacket’s of the men and women that was working down there was the only thing that broke off the complete grayness of the scene. The sky melted into the ocean as the clouds rolled in over the landscape.

She had felt a similar grayness inside herself lately. The colour in her now was white though, it brought a sense of clarity when she came back here. It had been years since she last stood on this beach. Seemed like another life. It was late summer then, it was spring now. She has lost those round cheeks and soft eyelashes. Her face was sharper now with those famous cheekbones as a top act. Her constant use of purple lipstick gave her face a nice last detail. Gray matched with purple. She was way happier with herself now, like it had taken a few years to find your comfort zone within that room which was her own body. She liked her sharpness.

She also liked the look of the man working furthest out on the beach. She couldn’t see his face properly but she saw an attempt for a beard and black cap. He had chinos and boots. Most off all he had a certain way of holding himself when walking along the shore, a walking conflict between self assurance and insecurity. He was young of course. She studied him and for a split second he might have looked back at her but she wasn’t sure. There was something there, warmth which didn’t exist in the harsh wind. She still couldn’t light her cigarette. She swore when her dirt blond hair flew into her face as she turned around to walk back to the village five minutes down the road.

The high street was completely empty except the local drunk which happened to be her uncle. He shouted something at her but there was no chance of hearing what he said. She opened the door to the local pub and sat herself down with a pint at the big table in the back. Everyone stared as they had done every time she had visited the pub in the past week. The reason this afternoon was that she passed the projector on her way in and made some people miss a few frames of the Sunday French which was the local film club’s recent project. It was usually a couple of old men watching American westerns but Sunday French had proven popular with the women of the village that day. They all wanted to see Jean Gabin. The 30’s was the theme that afternoon and certain ladies got very upset by missing just a second of his French frown.

‘So how is it being back then Vera?’ It was the local stud who asked. They had gone to the same primary school sometime the previous millennium.

‘Oh fine thank you dearest. I feel so welcome.’ She answered sarcastically.

He didn’t say anything and just returned to his drink and the quite intense scene happening on the projector. Gabin was going very fast down some train tracks, an old lady hissed with excitement. Vera giggled quietly at the scene. She couldn’t stop thinking about the young chino man down the beach. She wanted to go back there and maybe go down and talk to him but she couldn’t bring herself to go out in the cold wind.

Luckily, the cold wind did bring the chino man into the pub as he and the rest of the voluntary oil sanitarians came in to warm themselves up. He was taller than she thought he’d be. His beard was a bit pathetic but at least his mustache almost covered his thin, now blue-ish shaking lips. Vera couldn’t stop looking at him, at his dark brown hair which now was wet from the ocean, his angular body and long neck. He had not seen her gaze. He was just standing with his colleagues at the bar and told a guy in the group what he wanted to drink. His job was to find a table. Vera moved to a smaller table to make the large one available for his company. When she stood up with her drink he saw her. He looked at her as if he recognized her, trying to place her in his mind, then realizing and flushing a bit.

‘You can have this table if you want.’ She said smiling at him.

‘That’s very kind of you. Thanks.’ He said returning her smile curiously.

Vera sat down at the small table next to him and she could smell the sea air and salt when he passed her to sit down. She saw the goose bumps on his neck.

‘Or how about me joining you lot? I know all about oil spills and Jean Gabin.’ She suggested while leaning towards him.

‘We’d love to.’ He said while looking up from underneath his black cap.



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