This is an excerpt rather than a chapter. Part of the modern-day Phil chapters, it will be inserted early in the novel, probably after Vic’s explanation of ‘manifestation boxes’ to Phil which comes in the chapter ‘Boxes & Boards’. ‘Boxes & Boards’ is the chapter in which Claire is hosting her friend Kaz’s hen night at 17 Sorely Lane and Phil comes home to find the chef/dancer performing his routine on the staircase for the women. This excerpt ties into the next pending chapter I’ll be posting.
As Vic sang the praises of his manifestation box, Phil couldn’t help but to think of the boxes Claire had stacked on the top shelf of their closet which, sliding mirrored doors and all, ran the gamut of the wall space at the foot of the bed. There were four boxes in all: his and Claire’s memory box filled with paraphernalia from their 1980’s courtship, a box for James and another one for Nico stuffed with letters for their futures in case Claire died (her words, not his) and she’d forgotten to tell them that she loved them (which was preposterous in Phil’s books as she told them she loved them every single day) and a fourth box, a smaller one, marked PRIVATE which had a the tinniest padlock in the world on it and could be opened with a hairpin if need be. BUT, as tempted as Phil was, he’d never tampered with Claire’s private box, his rationale being that everyone, especially spouses, needed special compartments, psychological or physical, to guard their personal secrets.
Phil had been much cleverer with his box, though, adhering to the motto ‘out of sight, out of mind’ by keeping it in his brain, hidden behind all his other mental baggage. It was safer there. I mean, seriously, did he really want Claire stumbling on his fetish for vintage porn? Or his ‘on-again-off-again’ adolescent crush on colleague Jeannie Robbins? Or on his imaginary dates and make-believe vacations with Jeannie which he took behind Claire’s back, generally when she was droning on about saving the world from men like him? Or even worse: did he really want Claire to know of the gazillion mini experiments he’d endeavoured over the years: like tasting one of Mendelssohn’s organic dog biscuits to see if it was worth the price, or sneaking a sip of Claire’s breast milk back in the day when she’d been pumping it for the boys, or watching re-runs of The Wombles on Youtube, or opening the medicine cabinets in other people’s houses, or seeing if he could wank off to opera music in the shower whilst on a mental holiday with Jeannie? The answer being – NO, HE DID NOT. And seeing as he did NOT want Claire getting a hold of his box of secrets, he respected hers, even though it glowered at him every time he pulled a piece of clothing from the closet. That wasn’t to say that he hadn’t itched like mad to know what the hell she had in there. I mean, Christ, it could’ve been anything from a secret mobile telephone for hook-ups on the sly to a state-of-the-art dildo. In the end, he’d discovered it was none of the above; the contents of Claire’s PRIVATE box were far worse and a gazillion times more painful. As such, Phil had quickly dropped them in another of his mental compartments and shoved it in the back of his head.
“Are you even listening to me, Owens?” Vic said, annoyed that Phil was drifting.