Louis Van Gaal sat on the settee in just his pants.
His face was lit by the blue glow of the TV, a bucket of KFC clutched between his naked thighs. He took a nasty bite from a chicken drumstick and tossed the ravaged bone over his shoulder. Flecks of sweetcorn dotted his chest hair, a dropped bean slithered across his navel, his face was smeared with chicken grease. His normally proud quiff was plastered to his damp forehead. He put a hand in the bucket and grasped around but found only the curled, flaccid corpses of dead fries, he snarled and threw the bucket over his head.
The cat, sat by the fire, sensed its outside chance of scraps had passed. It stretched, yawned, walked off. As it passed, Van Gaal lashed out a socked foot and kicked it up the arse, forcing the cat into a brief jog.
Van Gaal tore open a small packet and carefully unfolded the little lemon scented wipe. He placed it over his face like a caul and slowly lowered his head until it rested on the back of the settee. His fingers slowly retracted into fists, his knuckles flushed yellow, the veins in his arms began to pop up, his toes twisted into talons beneath his socks and his whole body began to shake. The sky remote rocked on the arm of the settee, trinkets and ornaments clinked in glass cabinets, tight concentric circles shimmered through the murk of the single malt sat on the coffee table, as if a train were thundering through a subterranean tunnel deep below. The center of the lemon scented shroud sank to form a large crater which delineated a violent, but entirely silent scream. Suddenly spent, the shaking stopped.
In the hallway, Mrs Van Gaal, on her knees, quietly swept up bits of discarded chicken carcass and bones with a dustpan and brush.
She hadn’t even had to ask what the score had been.
By now she could tell. By the way he’d screeched into the drive, by the malevolent crunch of the handbrake. Through a gap in the blinds she’d seen the colonels face smiling stoically on the side of the carrier bag as her husband stormed up the path leaving a wake of scattering gravel.
She knew her words could do nothing. She’d gone into the kitchen, flicked off the oven and silently scraped the Risotto she’d prepared into the bin as he burst through the front door and began stripping off.
The cat sat before her now, watching her wipe grease stains from the laminate floor with a cloth. They looked at each other for a moment and something passed between them.
The cat stood, walked down the hallway and slipped through the cat-flap, disappearing into the night.
Mrs. Van Gaal flinched at her husband’s feral roar. A single tear slipped from her eye.
She stood and went to the freezer.