Glenn was sharing a room with Lorraine. It was the first time he had lived with anyone other than his family. Twenty years old, and this was the first time he had awoken with a woman sharing his space…. Without a mad scramble to hide the fact that they had been in the same bed. An ecstasy of fumbling and ferreting around… But not here and not now. It had happened as a matter of expediency, he had needed a flat to live in, and Lorraine had needed a person to share with. They had been introduced by mutual friends, and Glenn had been game… Lorraine was not so sure, but when Sue, the girl who had let her sleep on her floor for the last few weeks, kind of insisted, Lorraine had agreed to give it a go.
They found a room in a semi-detached house at the top of La Pouquelaye, although it was quite a walk from the centre of St. Helier, that was probably a bonus. Both of them had felt stifled living in the town, all of the friends led a very incestuous life, living in each others shadows night and day, Glenn was quite pleased to have space to breathe and Lorraine was always over-shadowed by her more gregarious friends.
The room consisted of two single beds and a t.v. set. A small two ring stove and grill sat precariously underneath it.
So they moved in on a Friday night, had a few drinks and went to bed quite early. They sat watching a horror film, and talking across the divide of the chimney breast. They did not flirt, though Glenn was quite keen… She had a lovely Glaswegian accent and once she got over her shyness, she could be quite funny.
Come Saturday morning, Glenn was awoken by a fully dressed Lorraine and a nice cup of coffee.
“Come on Lazy Bones, up you get, We have things to do.”
Glenn groaned. He looked across at his travel clock and saw it was only 9:30.
He rolled over and turned his back to her, he didn’t usually get up until 12 on a Saturday.
“Hey you wee scabby b’stard, Get the fuck up! We need to go shopping, right? It’s all 50/50 right? So that means we go shopping together. I’m not playing Wifey… I’m not going on my own!” He rolled over and took up the coffee cup. He gulped it down. Then he rolled over again… Within seconds he was asleep. A minute later he was awake again.
“What the fuck?” he spluttered. She had rubbed a wet cloth across his face. She looked very wifey, he thought as she stood over him with her hands on her hips. He looked closely at her face. She was cute when she was annoyed! her page-boy cut black hair with its long fringe… She had a mannerism, she kept brushing the fringe out of her eyes…
He felt a frisson below the duvet… Olive brown eyes, large lips and freckles… For Fuck sake… she had freckles. Again, She pushed away the fringe, she looked stern,
“Are you getting up or do I have to pull your duvet off?”
“I wouldn’t. You might get more than you bargained for?”
“Down below… The old man is awake…” he smirked.
“Oh My God, Men! one track mind. I told you we are not having any of that! You promised, strictly friends, you said, your very words… I need a friend more than a shag…You said that just last night… When You were talking about some Cathy or whatever.”
“Katie. Her name was Katie. I’m not hitting on you Lorr, just telling you of my state of arousal. I have no control over the little man.”
“You and every other man I ever met! And don’t call me Lorr, my step-father used to call me That! If you have to shorten my name it’s Raine. Ok?”
They went shopping. Raine met a friend in the market, and started making out that she and Glenn were an item. Most peculiar. She invited her friend and the boyfriend she had with her to come up to the flat for a drink later. Glenn said nothing. He thought maybe she did want to play wifey after all.
Before the couple came, Lorraine asked him to pretend to be her boyfriend, as her friend was always going on about having a boyfriend… So she had lied. Just to shut her up for a bit. Glenn went down to the off-licence and bought a bottle of Vodka, his own tipple and orange squash.
The couple came with a cheap bottle of plonk. Blue Nun. They drank that, and half the bottle of vodka… And seemed settled for the night. Lorraine sat next to him on his bed. She draped an arm around him, and pointedly said that she was tired. The couple took the hint and made excuses. When Glenn had seen them off the premises, he returned to the bedroom to find that she was asleep in his bed.
Now… What to do? She was in his bed, that must be an invitation surely? But what if she was just trolleyed? What if she had snuggled down because she was drunk? He didn’t want to make an ass of himself, and he didn’t want her screaming blue murder because of a misunderstanding. He turned off the light and stripped down to his jockeys. He climbed into her bed. he lay there in silence. Looking at the orange glow on the ceiling, from the street light outside. He listened but he couldn’t hear her breathing. Was she really asleep?
“Glenn.” A small voice called.
“What the fuck are you doing in my bed?”
“I was about to ask you the same question.”
“I don’t know about you, young man, but I’m lying her thinking what’s wrong with me? Doesn’t he fancy me?”
“Then what are you waiting for?”
“Do you want a written invitation?”
“Verbal will do fine.”
“Glenn get your arse over her now!”
“That will do it.” He leapt across the three-foot divide like Nijinsky on steroids.
Sunday morning, the anticlimax. Saturday night she was a live electric eel, all sensory and sensual desire. A flagrant and fragrant departure from the shy girl that Glenn had met just a couple of days before… She was a shocking sensation. The sex, it was always the sex… it was beyond the aching amateurish first-time delving of all his prior attempts.
So beautiful, so soft and tender, but also something else, something broken. He didn’t think this at the time but… in the morning when the madness had faded he realised that She had a need. Put Glenn in mind of the line in the song Dossier (of Fallibility) By The Skids.
He played the album just to hear the lyrics.
I never said never
I only said can’t
Move over move over
It’s unjustified romance
No more affair
It went on too long
No more communication
Time I was gone
Put down receiver.
Time I was gone.
Move over move over
Time I was gone.
The blood lay spilled on the receiving end
The wrists were cut unseen to all
The blood lay spilled an ancient blend
The wrists were cut during this call.
You are such a martyr
You leave such a taste
You are a disciple
You are such a waste
No more intimacy
Only footage news
Rejection of religion
Cascaded with blame
No stricken conscience
Attendance at the ashes
Sorry for the family
See you at your grave
A situation built round this plight
I no longer seem to require my greed
All these ambitions severed in flight
Just realised love’s more than a need
Inside and outside
Caught in between
The method that killed you
Was mine it would seem
A situation built round this plight
I no longer require my greed
All these ambitions are severed in flight.
I’ve just realised love’s a need
Should I endeavour to reset the wire
To reset the wire of life
This mental torment with nowhere to rehire
Please let my Dossier-grind-shoot-and
The blood lay spilled on the receiving end
The wrists were cut unseen to all
All these ambitions are severed in flight
And I’ve just realised love’s more than a need.
Why did he have time to contemplate? Because when he awoke on Sunday morning, she had flown the nest. there was no sign of her. He got up and went to the toilet. She was not in the bathroom. She was an enigma. She had issues, that was for sure. Glenn went back to bed. He slept. He woke again. It was lunch time, she was still not present. He got up and went down to the town, in search of food and hopefully Lorraine. He went to the cafe and ate a hearty all-day English breakfast. He went to the flat where Lorraine’s friends lived. She was not there. No-one had seen her. Now, he was worried. He went to the bar and drank. He was alone on this Island, he had found a girl he liked and promptly lost her again. What is wrong with you? He didn’t understand anything.
He went back to the flat. It was still empty. He went back to bed, switching tapes in his tape deck. He played Bowie Live at Philadelphia. He drifted in thought… and then sleep.
When he woke up again, it was dark. He didn’t know where he was. He had a stiffness in his member. He couldn’t remember what had caused it? Was it a dream? No. It was a full bladder. He got up and turned on the light. She was there. Sleeping in her bed. He went to the toilet. Cleaned his teeth. He turned off the light and went over to her and kissed the top of her head. She screamed.
“It’s ok. It’s only me. Go back to sleep.” She grunted. She turned her back towards him. He went back to bed. He lay on his back, and stared once more at the ceiling. She was totally weird.
A small voice.
” Glenn I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok. I get it. You don’t want me.”
“I do want you… but not yet. Let’s forget last night. Start again. Start slowly. I will be fine eventually. I’m just not ready yet.”
“Where did you go?”
” I just took a trip around the island. I needed space to think.”
“The island isn’t that big that it can take you all day!”
“I sat on the beach, had a drink in a bar. And I walked. Then I got another bus home.”
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Male EGOS! You were fine, a masterful performance. I give you a ten out of ten… It’s not you! It’s me!”
“Really ten out of ten?”
Lorraine laughed. A bitter all men are such idiots kind of laugh, that Glenn had heard before.
” I don’t know what to tell you… But I’m damaged goods, Glenn. I like you, and I know you have a good soul in there somewhere but I haven’t got the energy to find out where. So it’s back to the start ok? We are flatmates not lovers.”
“Really? Ten out of ten.?”
” I can’t tell if you are joking or are really that fucking crass… Either way, I need to sleep! I have to go to work in the morning!”
6 a.m. Monday morning. get that? 6 a.m.! Lorraine has to be at work for NINE. Now Glenn never got up before twelve unless he had to go to work. If he had to go to work he got up ten minutes before he had to leave… Quick swill, smell the clothes to see which are the cleanest… Grab a cup of coffee, and the sandwiches left out for him by his Mum, and he was away. A simple routine. Lorraine was up at Six to leave at eight thirty. What was she going to do with one hundred and fifty minutes? He groaned. She ignored him. She made tea. She sat watching him as she drank her tea.
“You need to find a job. And quick, the way you drink your money will be gone in no time!”
” I will look for work later.”
“You need to get up early and look properly. you won’t find one in the pub.”
” What about bar work?”
“Too easy. Get up and go find a job… Pronto!”
“Is this you taking a backward step? Just Flatmates? Jeez, Not even bloody milkmen are up at this time of the morning.”
” You know I’m right. And as a flatmate, I need to know you can pay your half of the bills… I’m not going to have you sponging off me.”
He rolled over to face the wall. She went into the bathroom. She took a shower. He rolled back on to his back and looked at the ceiling. She was right, he did need to find a job. he was shedding cash like a dog sheds hair. She came back into the room, hair wet and dressed in a toweling dressing gown. She took out her hairdryer and began to dry her hair. Glenn watched closely the ritual. She brushed with one hand and dried with the other. The noise of the hairdryer went through Glenn like a dentist’s drill.
“Thank God you have short hair!”
“THANK GOD YOU ONLY HAVE SHORT HAIR!” he shouted.
She turned off the hairdryer.
” Sorry if I’m disturbing you, sir!”
“Not at all… Your dressing gown is gaping, and what I can see is most interesting.”
She looked down and saw her breasts were peeking out.
She hit him over the head with the back of her brush.
“Turn the other way you pervert, I don’t have time for your nonsense.”
He turned away but as soon as the hairdryer started again, he shifted around to get a better view. The hairdryer stopped and she put the kettle on for another tea.
“Do you want one peeping tom?”
“Coffee please, Mata Hari.”
“What does that mean?”
” Come on you must have heard of Mata Hari, she was a spy for the Germans in the 1st world war. Don’t they teach you scotch anything?”
” Ok Clever bugger, firstly, scotch is a drink, I’m a Scot. Secondly, the first world war was 60 years ago, so why would I know of a spy from the dark ages?”
“Good Grief, there is no talking to this girl.”
She sat on her bed. She looked so cute, he wanted to eat her. He drank his coffee. He thought, is this what it’s like? To be married? To live with someone? A constant back and forth… It was not what he’d expected. In fact, he didn’t know what he expected. He just walked into situations blindly… Fatalistic to the nth degree. No wonder his life was never plain sailing. That and the fact he was drunk most nights.
She got up and painstakingly began to put on her make-up, in the mirror which was set upon the chimney breast. Fascinated as if by a boa constrictor, Glenn watched as she put on her foundation. She then rouged her cheekbones. She put on her blue eye shadow and finally stroked her eyelashes with mascara. It was a long and laborious campaign. She cursed when the mascara smudged on the corner of her eye. She took out a cotton bud and slowly and carefully, stroked away the smudge. It was as if she was creating a mask.
Hiding her youthful looks for what reason? To make herself look more professional?
“You don’t need make-up, you look beautiful naturally.” He said earnestly.
” It is expected. You have to look the part when your job is dealing with the public. You should take note, you need to smarten up if you’re going to get a job!”
“Don’t you hate it? I mean, taking 2 1/2 hours to get ready? Do you go through this rigmarole every morning?”
“Yes. I do it every morning, and no, I don’t hate it. It helps me prepare for meeting people. I feel I am at my best.”
“Dear GOD.You are only shop assistant !”
“I have a job, you do not. So fuck you!”
“Sorry, didn’t mean anything against you Raine, just that the job is not what you are worth… You are much better than being a shop assistant.”
“It is a job. A start. You have to make concessions, you can’t just walk into the job of your dreams. Now, go and have a piss or something so I can get dressed in peace.”
Glenn got up and walked across the room. He paraded his erection proudly, pouched in his y-fronts.
“For god sake, boy, stop swinging that thing in my face!”
” That’s not what you said Saturday!”
“We’ve forgotten Saturday, remember?”
“Very Irish, you sure you’re scotch?”
She smacked his arse with the hair brush and he scooted out of the room, sharpish!
When he came back, she was fully dressed and stood in front of the mirror, applying her lipstick. She left at 8.30. am. Glenn had a leisurely stroke and thought about her naked.
THIS IS HISTORY -1980. MOSTLY TRUE. FUNNY TO THINK OF YOUR LIFE AS HISTORY…
FORTY YEARS ON.
LIFE IS STRANGE.
DALE BELOVED PARTNER OF ‘M’