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Naked Flame
by Oonah V Joslin

Sybil and Frank’s garden was the largest in New Villas Park. It could accommodate a small marquee. Being new to the neighbourhood it took several seasons to get invited to the really posh Dos. I’d heard about Frank’s sauce – a great secret by all accounts. And Sybil’s syllabub was to die for. When she asked me, I rather gushed and then naturally I blushed at my lack of propriety. ‘I’ll ask Deacon if we’re free.’

‘It’s bring a bottle,’ she said.

I thought I’d better get something a bit good. Gewürztraminer. A few real ales to happify the men.

Deacon can be socially awkward.

‘Why do we have to go to someone else’s house to eat when there’s food here and you can watch the cricket on your own telly?’

‘You’ll enjoy a barbecue for a change,’ I say. ‘Frank has a simply enormous one and Sybil’s syllabubs are legend.’

He enjoys meeting new people really but he can be hard work at times.

‘You don’t dress up for a barbeque,’ said Deacon.

‘We always have this argument,’ I said, ‘and I’m always right.’

I persuaded him at last into a crisp blue shirt and whites. I wore my floaty Laura Ashley with the big pink and white carnations on a duck egg background – it suited my colouring so well. Deacon never notices these things. Chilled drinks in hand, off we went – seven o’clock sharp.

Sybil came to the door.

‘What a ravishing gown,’ I said averting my gaze. It certainly was a distinctive shade of peach but practically see through and she wasn’t wearing anything underneath. ‘Drinks’ I said, handing over the carrier.

‘We’re allowing guests to use the cloakroom at the end of the corridor to… freshen up.’ She indicated the door. ‘Then just come through.’

I gave Deacon a warning look not to stare.

I could see through the French doors, Frank attending to the cooking - bare-chested. I’d never seen so much hair. He wore one of those pinnys with legs in suspenders motif. I hoped his sauce had better taste. Sybil approached with Lizzie Dawlish from number 17. At first I thought the outdoor light had rendered Sybil’s dress totally see-though. Then of course I realised she’d removed it and Lizzie too… In fact, nobody was wearing a stitch.

‘You know I think I’ll help Frank with the cooking,’ said Deacon stripping off.

‘Oh do,’ said Sybil. ‘He’d be glad of the assistance,’

‘Deacon! We’re not staying…’ I muttered but he marched off. I followed trying to look inconspicuous in my Laura Ashley.

‘Best put this on, Deek,’ said Frank. ‘An apron is all important. It covers so many… practicalities when one is cooking sausages.’

Huh! The sauce! And Deek!

I remonstrated later. ‘Why Deacon Dangerfield, I’m shocked. I believe you enjoyed that.’

‘Well seems you are always right dear,’ he said. ‘Frank did have a big one and Sybil’s syllabubs may be a bit on the small side but they’re very tasty.’