Kathy rows with her dad, Lynn meets Brian to say why she's not coming .
Sunday afternoon, I went to spend a bit of time with my parents at my grandmother's house before setting off back home. My grandmother only lived in the next street and I was soon back home. As I walked into the living room at home Jackie jumped up off my brother Carl's lap, both of them seemed embarrassed at being caught in an embrace.
"Kathy sent me round, she wants to borrow your white crepe blouse," Jackie said, avoiding my eyes.
"Right, I'll go and get it but I've got to put the kettle on first. My mum and dad will be home in a minute. Do you want a brew, Jackie?"
"I'll make it if you want to go and sort out the blouse for me."
I looked at my brother Carl. "Have you been kissing my friend's sister, you little smoothie?"
"No, I haven't. She fell over and I caught her and then you walked in."
Jackie looked at me and laughed before walking out to the kitchen.
I grinned at my brother. "I can't wait to tell Dad," I said. "He'll be over the moon."
"Lynn, don't say anything. Promise me you won't say anything. I'll go to the shops for you. I'll even tidy your bedroom up if you like."
"You keep out of my bedroom. I'll tell you what. I won't say anything if you come over and give your big sister a sloppy kiss on the cheek."
"You must be crazy. You're my little sister anyway, the only thing big about you is your mouth." I winked at him, puckered my lips, and pointed to my cheek. "You can tell him if you like," he said. "I'm not kissing you. I'd rather kiss a camel's arse."
"Oy, don't get nasty now. I'm only joking. Your secret's safe with me, Casanova," I said and walked off to the kitchen.
My parents returned home and my mother stood in the kitchen chatting with us. Jackie finished her tea and looked at the clock. "I'd better get off home." She looked over at me.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Jackie. I forgot all about it."
I went upstairs to fetch the blouse and Jackie walked over to get a cuddle from my mother. My mother was fond of Jackie and always gave her lots of attention when she called. Especially since the time when Jackie's mother died and Jackie had ran into my mother's arms crying hysterically when she opened her door.
I smiled as I walked back into the kitchen and saw my mother cuddling Jackie. "Oh I see, not content with kissing my brother," I said jokingly, "now you want to nick my mum as well." My smile dropped when I saw the sorrowful look on Jackie's face and the stare from my mother. "Oh my God?" I said. "I'm sorry, Jackie, I didn't mean that. I just didn't think. I'm so sorry."
"It's all right, I know you were joking. Look, I've got to go. Kathy's waiting for the blouse."
Jackie left the house and I looked over to my mother. "How could I have been so stupid? I've hurt her. I've really hurt her."
"She knows you didn't mean it. Don't worry about it. She's a strong girl."
"No she isn't, Mum, you know she isn't."
Jackie got home from Lynn's house and took the blouse up to her bedroom.
Kathy was downstairs. She looked at her father asleep on the sofa after his after-work drinking session at The Crossways Tavern. He looked peaceful. Kathy had been close to him before her mother died but the death of her mother was something he couldn't cope with. They had been a close and happy family and she thought of all the good times they spent together before the tragedy. Kathy's eyes started to glaze a little and she shook her head knowing she would have to change her thoughts before her mascara started to run.
She walked upstairs to the bedroom that she shared with Jackie and as she opened the door and looked in, she saw her sister quietly sobbing on the bed.
"Whatever's the matter, Jackie?" she asked.
Jackie looked over with tearful eyes. "It's not fair. I want my mum."
Kathy knew how she felt. She cried herself many times while sitting alone and she rushed across to cuddle and comfort her distressed sister.
Kathy redid her make-up, got changed, and persuaded Jackie to do some work on one of her art projects before going back downstairs. She had just walked into the living room when Jackie dropped something heavy onto the bedroom floor causing a loud noise below. Kathy's father stirred. She stood still, watching him, hoping he wouldn't wake. He would be going out again that night, but she wanted to wake him when she was leaving and then he wouldn't have so much time to moan at her. His eyes opened and he rolled back and forth slightly like an old walrus.
"And where do you think you're going?" he asked, staring up at her.
"I'm just going out for a drink with a friend."
Her father looked at the time and then stood up. "Have you done my shirt?"
"Yes, it's on the back of the chair in the kitchen."
"I suppose you're going out with that blonde tart from down the road."
"Lynn is not a tart, Dad."
"No? Look at all that shit she wears on her face."
"She only wears lipstick and a bit of eye makeup the same as me."
"Well, that says it all, doesn't it?"
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
"Look at you. Look at that skirt. You and that McLean girl walking down the street like a couple of whores."
"How dare you say that?" Kathy shouted. "I'm your daughter for Christ's sake."
"Don't you raise your voice to me, girl," he shouted back. "Sometimes I wonder if you really are my daughter."
Kathy took his remark as a disgraceful slur on her mother, although she was not sure that the unthinking man had meant it that way. "You bastard," she said in no more than a whisper.
The back of his hand caught Kathy with a savage blow. She screamed as she tumbled to the floor. She was trembling as she tasted blood and felt the swelling of her split lip. She began pushing herself back against the wall, trapped and in fear as her father moved towards her. She flinched and put her hands over her head as her father raised his hand again.
Jackie hurried down the stairs and rushed into the room. "Leave her alone," she shouted and threw herself between the two of them.
The doorbell rang. The man looked down at his daughters huddled together, crying. Kathy was still shaking as the blood dripped from her cut lip onto the white blouse.
I heard a scream as I walked up to Kathy's house, as had a woman working in the garden opposite. I shouted across to the woman asking if she would call the police. The woman hurried to the telephone box as I rushed to Kathy's door and pressed the doorbell. I pushed the doorbell a second time but this time I kept my finger on the button until Kathy's father came to the door.
"Kathy, I want to speak to Kathy," I said before he had time to speak.
"She's not going out. Go away," he said.
"I'm not going anywhere till I've seen Kathy. Kathy, are you all right?" I shouted through the open doorway but there was no reply. "If you've hurt her, you pig." He raised his hand but hesitated. "Go on hit me, hit me. My dad will get down here in two minutes flat and he'll knock your sodding head off."
He knew my father and stepped back. "Clear off," he said before slamming the door. I walked back up the path and stood at the gate. I saw Kathy's father look out of the window. The door opened again. "Go away from my path," he shouted.
"I told you, I'm not going anywhere till I've seen Kathy. You are though, the police are on the way and you'll be locked up this time."
"Huh!" he remarked and closed the door again.
It wasn't long before the blue Morris Minor pulled up outside Kathy's house. The police sergeant and his constable got out and stretched themselves before ambling to Kathy's door. I was already there and had rung the bell. Kathy's father opened the door and I noticed the smug look on his face.
"We've had a report of a disturbance," the sergeant said.
"Oh, yes, my daughter had a bad fall but she's okay now."
"We'd like to come in and speak to her if you don't mind."
"Of course," he said. I started to move forward but her father put his hand up. "I don't want her in my house."
The sergeant looked at me. "You'll have to stay out here."
"I want to see Kathy."
"You'll have to wait here," he said with a bit more emphasis. When they closed the door, I walked back to the gate and stood waiting. I hurried over to the police officers when they came back out. "What's happened then, is she all right?"
"She's had a fall. Hit her face on a table and split her lip but she seems okay otherwise."
"Had a fall! He's belted her more like. You don't know him."
The sergeant stopped as they got to the pavement. "Oh, yes I do, love, but what can I do? She said she tripped."
Kathy's father shouted from the door, "I don't want her hanging around here causing trouble. You should do her for wasting police time."
"Can't I see her?" I said to the sergeant.
"She doesn't want to see anyone right now. The best thing you can do for her is to go home."
I saw the estate bus coming up the road and remembering Kathy's date with Brian I thought I had better go to meet him and explain what had happened.
I arrived at the bus station and walked across to the telephone box at five to seven. I was genuinely sorry about Kathy but I could feel my excitement rising at the prospect of a meeting with Brian. I thought we could go for a drink in the small bar just up from the terminus and then I could sit and talk to him about Kathy. I wouldn't stay long. It wouldn't be right. Just one drink, I thought.
The church bells started to chime and I double checked my watch. A bus had just pulled in and I checked every passenger as they got off. He wasn't there and I wondered if he had missed the bus. I stood waiting for the next one to come in but at ten past seven, I started to walk along the pavement, trying to look unconcerned. I turned and walked back to the telephone box thinking that I wouldn't hear the telephone if he called. At twenty past seven, I had checked every bus that had pulled in, even those from the other side of town.
"Damn him," I said to myself quietly. A girl who was passing overheard me and looked at me knowingly. It embarrassed me and I turned away to look into the telephone box. Why doesn't he ring? I thought. If he just lets me know he's coming then I'll wait for him.
Seven twenty-five, well that's it, I thought. How could I have been so wrong about him? Sod him, I'm not bothered. Pat and a few girls from work will be in Kings at half seven. I'll take a walk down. I was about to set off but then I thought that Mike could be in there. I wasn't in the mood to see him and I thought that I would give Brian a few more minutes, until half-past. If he didn't show then I would just go home.
I arrived back at Meadowview disappointed that Brian had not turned up again and I was walking past the green when a friend of my brothers came running up to me. "Lynn, Lynn," he called with some urgency. "Your dad's just walloped your Phil and Carl 'cause they were giving cheek to that Mrs Garrity and your dad caught them and I think they've had to go to bed."
"Dear, oh dear. I'd better see what's happening," I said, trying to look as serious as him. It amused me how the boy always ran to me telling me all the gossip. I knew he had a crush on me and my brothers had told me that he wanted to marry me.
My father looked up from the television as I walked into the living room. "What's up, girl, you haven't been out long?"
"I was fed up. I went into town but I wasn't in the mood. Kathy's dad has beaten her up again."
"Poor kid. I don't know why those girls don't go and live with their aunt."
"Nor do I. Their Aunt Sheila would be over the moon. Isn't Mum in yet?"
"She's gone straight from your grandma's to the bingo at the social club."
I went upstairs, cleaned off my makeup, and changed into my nightdress and dressing gown. I looked in on my brothers on my way back down. "Good night boys," I said mockingly. They didn't answer, pretending to be asleep and I laughed as they blew raspberries at me when I closed the door. I went downstairs and sat on my father's lap putting my arms around his neck as I snuggled into his shoulder.
He was a little surprised, I had always been affectionate, but it had been a long time since I had cuddled up on his lap. I could sense his surprise and raised my head to look at him. "You don't mind, do you? I just want a cuddle."
"Of course I don't mind, but are you sure you're all right?" he said. "Is there something you haven't told me?"
"I'm just a bit upset over Kathy that's all. If I hadn't asked her out it wouldn't have happened."
"Hey, don't blame yourself. She should be out at her age. It's his fault, not yours, you did right." He paused for a few seconds. "What about you, Lynn? He didn't have a go at you, did he?"
"No, Dad, of course not. He wouldn't dare."
"You've not been happy since you split up with Mike, have you?"
"It's nothing to do with Mike and who cares about him anyway?"
"Yeah, who cares?"
I looked up at the shelf with all my father's boxing trophies. An old pair of my boxing gloves was hanging from a hook and I thought of my father teaching me when I was a child. The left jab, the straight right hitting him square on the nose. He fell pretending to be hurt and I ran over to him, but then he picked me up and lifted me towards the ceiling. "Lynn McLean, champion of Locksford."
I smiled to myself and then reached up to kiss my father on the cheek before settling back down. "I love you, Dad," I whispered.
"I know, princess. I love you too."
I smiled as I closed my eyes.