The Odd Couple

Jayne Marshall

I really like that people look at us. We have come to the bar we always come to and, as always, it is busy everywhere with people. A small group of musicians are playing in the back room. We have squeezed in behind the saxophone player. He is showing off, performing, and all eyes are on him. Because I am directly behind him, almost as if I were inside of him, it’s like all the eyes are for me. For a few moments, I know the lure of the stage.

A space opens up to our left and we move into it, so as to be more comfortable. All the pairs of eyes move with us, like one of those paintings in a Hammer Horror movie. I almost think I hear the click as they lock into place. You are talking to me about that famous film, The Odd Couple, which I’ve never seen. You are telling me that two of the characters are English sisters, they share a flat and are always laughing. You say that when you first met my sister and I, that is what you thought of immediately. This makes me laugh. So we are talking and laughing, our audience beyond us, and it is then that I realise that that is exactly why they are all looking at us. That is what we are: the odd couple.

One woman is subjecting me to that clear, summing-up gaze that women have. In the end it is me they are most interested in – it always comes back to the woman. The curiosity giving way to evaluation, bleeding into judgment. What could I be getting out of this? Even; what is he paying me?

If anyone were to ask, I would tell them the simple truth. That the oddness of us lies in our unlikeliness – that which can be told, and more significantly, that which cannot – the numerous obstacles, which could have prevented our flourishing, but didn’t. Order, disorder, order restored.

I would tell them how you know the whole world. Well, the whole of Madrid, which is all either us care about anyway. And when you introduce me to people, you push me forwards, making me important, making me feel you are proud of me. I would tell them there isn’t a building in the whole city we can walk past without you telling me an astounding story about it. Or about that time I cried on the phone to you and you came straight over in a taxi and took me to the theatre. The taxi smelt of you already, that particular mixture, of cigarettes, leather and garlic. I might, or might not, mention that usually you do not allow such signs of weakness as tears, but that you always cry when you listen to Flamenco – a double standard! You have lots of those. I would also probably leave out that we argue as much as we laugh and in our three years we’ve had two near fatal fall-outs, that you make me feel beautiful, but culpable for the desire that awakens. I would tell them that when you know that I’m only pretending to understand you, you laugh and pinch my cheek in a specific way that let’s me know I’ve been caught out. They won’t know, unless I tell them, that your life story makes my fingers itch with writerly anticipation.

Pushing back the thick velvet curtain that covers the door of the bar, we leave, our audience left to create their own version of what we are. We part at the street corner. I go left to my house and you go right to yours. Odd, unlikely, we might be, but then love is strange, so maybe in that way we aren’t all that extraordinary.


Jayne Marshall decided to trade her grey, rainy hometown in the UK for sunny Madrid. Since then her creative life has opened wide and now her spare time is almost fully spent reading and writing. She has started sharing her work in magazines like, Brittle Star Magazine, Litro and Pikara Magazine and will soon expand her horizons further with a Masters in Creative Writing at Oxford University (without leaving the Spanish cañas and tapas).

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