Rosy ferried the drinks back to the table, slid the Guinness his way. 'You said you have a show. Is it a comedy?' 'No, but you will laugh, I hope, after hearing my qualifications.' His eyes glittered. 'I do magic, with a twist. The twist is, my clothes are the first thing to disappear.' Rosy gaped. 'Yes. I do magic... naked. I not only have a big ego.' Marek wiggled his middle finger. 'I have a big wand.
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Franny?' Rosy held up the four little Franks. 'Could I keep one of these?' Franny looked at her hard for a moment then nodded. ''Course you can, hen, ' she said, 'But that's not your daddy.' Rosy gaped. 'It's not?' 'That's my wee darling. That's my wee Frankie before the devil twisted him into a monster.' She poked her finger into another hole where Frank's face should have been. Her eyes glinted.
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Rosy lifted her arm, tried to say something, then pointed at the cafe, held her head, covered her mouth and-humiliation of humiliations-she began to cry. Right there in the street. 'I'm so confused, ' she said but it came out as a great honking wail. 'Come here, you silly girl, ' Phyllis said. The woman put her arms around Rosy, patted her back, and for the first time in forever, Rosy allowed herself to just cry. A young mother with twins in a pram passed them. The children's eyes tracked Rosy for a second before their faces crumpled and they started to cry too. 'I'm sorry, ' Rosy said, and flapped her arms. 'I'm sorry.
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Frank treated customers with the contempt Rosy had only seen before at airport passport control. Even then, she'd never heard an immigration official refer to anybody as baldy. 'Hey, baldy, ' Frank had said and whistled to call a customer back as though he were down in the paddock with an unruly herd. 'You forgot your juice.' Frank held up the bottle of Tropicana orange juice. And when... baldy came back, Frank slapped the bottle into his hand as though passing him the baton in a relay race, then waved the man aside-'Go!'-and pointed at the next customer. 'What do you want?' Frank said. 'Cheese? Again? That's three cheese you'll have had in a row. Are you eating right?' The customer stammered. 'Eh-but-eh-but-eh-but, ' Frank mimicked. 'Never mind. But think up a different filling next time. And not cheese and tomato.' He shook his head and made up the roll.
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Rosy's mummy hands Franny a clear plastic bag full of reject biscuits, then Rosy holds her cheek out for Franny's wet kiss. Rosy wipes the slime from her face and Franny cackles, then shows them both into the lounge. There on Franny's coffee table is a biscuit tin with a Christmas picture on the lid. Proper shop-bought biscuits, not factory rejects. 'Please, may I have a biscuit?' Rosy says. 'Oh, there are no biscuits in that my darling, ' Franny says, and pulls the tin from Rosy's prying fingers. Franny holds open the bag of crumb-speckled chocolate digestives. 'Help yourself, my wee hen.' Rosy settles for a reject. Franny puts the Christmas tin up high, way up high, way out of reach.
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