by glamour girl
Fictional short story of two lads in Liverpool
|Fiction involving the character from ‘Guess Who’ assignment
(Character based on Robbie Williams: Raymond Chalmers.)
Love and Lager
It was just beginning to go dark as the taxi pulled onto Allerton Road. Two girls stood side-by-side at the kerbside. One, with thighs like overstuffed sausages spilling beneath the hem of a pale-denim miniskirt, shoved her hand, salute-like, into the road, to hail the taxi as it approached. The taxi didn’t slow and her hand became a v-sign. Raymond, the young, handsome occupant of the taxi’s back, turned his expertly preened head a few inches to peer through the rear-view window. He watched her huge and un-tethered breasts bounce within her spaghetti top with mesmerized revulsion.
“Fat chance, love.”
The taxi driver mutters then catches Raymond’s eye in the rear-view mirror. Raymond laughs.
“Yeah, fat chance. She’s what you’d call an eight-pinter, maybe even a ten.”
“What do you mean, eight-pinter, like?”
“Ah, you know. Me and the lads say it: she’s a ten-pinter, she’s an eight. How many pints you’d need till you even went near her.”
“That true, la?”
Raymond stared out of the cab window, caught his reflection and ruffled his own hair. He laughed, pleased to have won the driver’s approval so early in the journey.
“Eight pints, that’s all you’d need for that? Jesus. Don’t know if I ought to take you into town. Not safe to be let out on your own.”
Raymond laughed harder and relaxed into the back seat. As he did so, he spotted Chris waiting for them by the bus stop.
“Here are, mate. Pull over here.”
Chris, his arms hugging himself against the still-chilly early Spring, ran over to the taxi and yanked open the passenger door. He landed heavily onto the car seat and turned his face eagerly to his friend.
“Alright, mate?” he rubbed his hands together. “Looking forward to tonight. Into town, getting bevied, nice one.”
“Hey!” said the taxi driver. “I’ve been hearing about you fellas, not sure I should let you out on your own. Not sure it’s safe.”
Chris rubbed his hands together again and shifted his weight in the seat.
“For the birds, like?”
The taxi driver laughed and pointed his finger towards them.
“No, for you fellas. Apparently, the birds would only have to buy you a few drinks. You’ve got to watch these girls nowadays…only after one thing.”
Chris turned round to stare at his friend.
“What you been saying?”
“Just been saying about ten-pinters.”
“Ten-pinters? Or ten-tonners?”
The taxi driver laughed again.
“Aw, you don’t need to worry about Ray, mate. Never been home alone, this one. Never once. Like flies, they are.”
“Yeah,” said the taxi driver, “that’s what I’m afraid of.”
“That’s a boss shirt, Ray, bit flash aren’t you?”
Chris attempted to keep his tone teasing, but it hid much by way of admiration. He turned again to the taxi driver,
“That’s why he gets away with it with the laydeez, like. Snappy dresser. And his model-boy good looks.”
Ray laughed, pleased.
Raymond knew he looked good. He’d thought the same as he’s shrugged the freshly-ironed shirt over his tattooed biceps. He looked so good, he thought as he stared at himself and moulded his jet-black hair with a precisely-measured amount of Dax, he was in danger of sending himself gay, or something. He slicked his eyebrows (secretly pruned earlier that day with his mother’s tweezers) with the last of the Dax and then pointed a finger at himself:
“Better watch it tonight, Ray-boy, better watch it. The gay-boys will be after you, Ray-boy.”
It amazed him that people sometimes thought he was gay. He supposed it was because he was good-looking. He liked to make the best of himself, present a bit of an image to the world. Well, he was Ray, people expected a certain style from him, a certain je ne sais quoi, couldn’t let his public down could he.
He struck a pose in the mirror. A bit suave, a bit 007.
“Ray Chalmers, lad. Chalmers by name, charmer by nature.”
He winked at himself in the mirror and turned to run downstairs at the beep of the horn of the waiting taxi. His mum was waiting for him, ready to peck him on the cheek as he opened the front door,
“Bye, love. Have a good time, won’t you?”
He smiled at his mother as he opened the door, in the way that he hoped was devilishly, charmingly cheeky. He always knew how to charm his mum.
He walked out to the taxi and lent into the taxi before opening the door fully and jumping in.
“Alright mate. Town, please. Tea Factory, you know, on Wood Street. One pick-up on the way, thanks.”
He picked his mobile phone out of his pocket.
“Chris! Alright? Where are you now? Oh right, well, listen, right, change of plan. Can’t be arsed with the bus, got us a taxi instead. Going to Tea Factory, yeah?”
The pair stayed in the Tea Factory for precisely five minutes. This was the time it took for Chris to push open the heavy glass door, whilst Raymond walked through, executing a carefully nonchalant pose. This was the time it took to realize that the leather sofas, which Raymond so loved to lounge upon, were already occupied by an earnest looking group of young friends. (“Freaks,” muttered Raymond, glancing in their direction.) It was also the time it took for Chris to lead the way to the bar, parting the throng and the time it took for Raymond to spot Tammy at the opposite end of the long, cream bar.
Chris didn’t notice Tammy at first, he was too busy with the cocktail menu. Chris couldn’t decide if it was soft or not for men to drink cocktails. He knew girls liked them, heavens knows, he’d forked out enough for them, but the only man he knew who drank cocktails was Ray. Ray’s cocktail of choice was a vodka-martini. Sometimes he even ordered it with his Sean Connery impression. The girls seemed to like it, well, girls seemed to like everything Raymond did, he was the only person Chris knew who could ask a girl if she fancied a ‘nice, creamy, Screaming Orgasm,’ without getting slapped, but Chris couldn’t shake the thought that the was something, well, just not right about a bloke standing round in bars drinking cocktails. Chris flicked through the menu, four pages of it. Four pages of cocktails and all he wanted was a beer: there was an entire page devoted to beer. Belgium, Czech, French, Chris wondered….
“Let’s go,” Ray nudged Chris hard, just below his lower rib. “Just, let’s go. Let’s not stay. Let’s just go.”
Chris raised his head to look at the bar. Ray’s tone told him not to turn to look at him. Chris saw the outline of Tammy’s straight, long, blonde hair in the mirror behind the bar. Chris emitted a grunt.
Then a sigh.
“Ray, mate, bothered, yeah? You know, whatever? Yeah? She’s just a girl, she’s just, well, just ignore her, yeah?”
“Yeah, but, I can’t be arsed. I just can’t be arsed with it tonight, you know what I mean? Let’s just go, yeah. It’s crap in here tonight. Just full of freaks. I mean, look at her.”
“Ah, mate, we’ve just got here. I was just getting settled. Gonna get a pint in.”
“Nah, let’s just go, yeah? She’s not spotted us yet. She does, it’ll be Hell to pay…”
Chris felt irritation surge up his spine, making his scalp tingle.
“Let’s just have a pint, yeah? Can’t spend your life avoiding her, you can never avoid anyone round here, mate.”
“She’s, she’s, she’s just a psycho-bitch, Chris. A bunny boiler. I am not having my night out ruined by some tart like her. Way she was the last time, I’m telling you, Chris, proper bunny boiler, like, you know, a proper Fatal Attraction job, her.”
“Mind you,” said Chris. “You did shag her sister.”
Ray frowned at himself in the mirror and swung back on the silver rail that ran beneath the edge of the bar. He then turned violently and marched toward the door, back onto Wood Street. Chris followed him, quickly and unbidden.
Chris almost had to skip alongside Raymond like an excited puppy as the pair made their way toward Concert Square. A poor facsimile of Raymond, Chris was slightly shorter, slightly fatter and slightly scruffier. Chris was also slightly nicer and slightly more charming than Raymond Chalmers, but who would ever know? Chris let Raymond do all the talking.
Raymond seemed to spark and crackle with irritation as the soles of his shoes slapped onto the pavement.
“Fancy letting the likes of her in there!” Ray kept his head looking straight ahead. “Used to be nice in there Chris, proper nice, like. They’ve let the freaks and the scallies in.”
Chris nearly tripped over his feet in his effort to keep up. Somewhere before Concert Square, a seed of a feeling of something began to stir within Chris. It couldn’t be said whether this feeling was good or bad, but it was the seed that prompted him to say:
“Aw, mate, come on. She was nice enough. You liked her at one point. You know, you did, like, hurt her feelings. You did play her off against her sister. You know…”
Raymond stopped and stared at Chris.
Chris swallowed. The seed may not have been killed in the rising bile, but it was certainly rendered dormant. At least for the moment.
“Well, yeah, but, well, Ray, I say that, but, you know, it’s not like she didn’t know the score. Didn’t know the rep like. Know the rep of the charming Ray Chalmers…”
Raymond rolled his shoulders, swelled his chest and visibly calmed.
“Yeah, mate, exactly. Spread the love, yeah? Spread the love. We’re not selfish, are we? Too many birds, too little time…”
Chris laughed, ran his hand through his hair.
“Where now, then? Concert Square. Bit of Lloyd’s Number One. Get us bevvied, like.”
Raymond made a face, wrinkled his nose.
“Lloyd’s? Lloyd’s? That place?”
“Well, yeah. What’s wrong with Lloyd’s? Always go there, cheap beer. Get bevvied. Go Modo’s later, what we always do.”
Raymond pointed at Chris.
“Exactly mate, it’s what we always do. It’s what everyone always does in this town. This town, well, this town, it’s dragging me down, man, dragging me down.”
Raymond ruffled his hair, glancing in a nearby window. “I’m not like everyone else in this town, mate, getting bevvied, pulling girls, no class. That’s what I am, mate, class. I’m too good for this town. The likes of us, we don’t belong in Concert Square. We belong in the Living Room, or the Docks or some classy private member’s place. We belong in this place, mate.”
As Raymond had been talking, the pair had approached Alma De Cuba, a new restaurant- bar, converted from an orthodox church. Raymond transformed his pace to a confident swagger. He hoped it made him macho, sexy, classy. It was the walk he practiced in the mirror. He walked past the bouncers, pleased to observe that he was entering the sort of establishment where the bouncers, or rather doormen, wore ties.
The place was filled with candles. The church had been converted in a manner that the property developers might describe as sympathetic. The candelabras stood in front of religious icons. Chris was uncertain if they were original, but he decided he liked them nonetheless. He peered about him, drinking in the vision. It calmed him and impressed him.
“What you doing?” Ray frowned. “Go round gawping like that, they’ll think you don’t belong, that you’re not used to a bit of class.”
Something boiled within Chris and the dormant seed within him began to stir. This time the bile didn’t kill it. Realisation, insight and resentment toward Ray nourished the seed and allowed it to grow.
Chris turned half-heartedly toward Ray and said:
“I’ll get the drinks in, coming?”
Chris started toward the bar. He didn’t turn back, didn’t check to see if Raymond was following him. Chris realized that he didn’t care if Ray was following him and the seed began to unfurl its roots.
She was beautiful, the girl at the bar. It wasn’t just the drink and it wasn’t just the candlelight, she really was beautiful. As Chris stood next to her at the bar, he suddenly realized what they meant by ‘breathtaking.’ He couldn’t breathe. He really couldn’t, not next to her. His lungs just wouldn’t behave the way they were supposed to. He took a deep breath, then stopped himself. Even his breath sounded ugly next to her; she must have heard him, heavy breathing like some freak. Ray appeared by his side. He must have spotted her too.
There was a mirror behind the spirit bottles. Chris glanced at it. She was looking. She was looking in their direction. God, she was beautiful. All eyes and hair and lips. Chris just loved how girls did that, it was just great. Chris wondered whether he should look down further, but he immediately felt a surge of shame. She’d see him in the mirror, wouldn’t she? Think he was a perve. Besides, she’d be looking at Ray. She wouldn’t notice him. Not when Ray was stood there.
Ray had seen her. He stood slightly taller, adjusted his hair in the mirror and rolled back his shoulders. He winked into the mirror in the girl’s direction. Chris sighed. That was one of Ray’s techniques. It seemed to make the girl feel special, as though she and she alone had been invited to join an exclusive joke. They loved that. The seed of resentment, with its rapidly growing roots, jabbed at his insides. Chris grunted, Ray’d start talking shite in a minute.
“I’ll have a Mojito, thanks, Christopher.”
“Christ!” Thought Chris, with the help of the seed, which was now beginning to bud, “where the hell has his accent come from?”
“What?” he said, aloud.
“I’ll have a Mojito. It being a Cuban bar, we have to have Mojitos.”
Ray turned his head in the beautiful girl’s direction.
The buds of the seed grew, put cynical thoughts in his head. It said, you’ll talk some shite now, Ray, but loud enough for her to hear. Loud enough to impress her.
“Mind you,” said Ray, leaning back on his heels, “once you’ve sampled Mojitos in Havana, you doubt that anything else can compare.”
The shoots of the seed gripped around his stomach, winded him, then made his ears ring. When had Ray ever been to Havana? Never, that was when. Chris’s thoughts fertilized the seed. The seed, which still hadn’t decided if it’s intentions were good or bad, flourished with every stupid word that Ray uttered.
She smiled. She had a nice smile, Chris thought. For a moment he thought he saw the suspicion of laughter. It was something about her eyes and something about her lips. He liked how her lips looked, like they were used to smiling and laughter. She had big, open eyes. The pupils caught the candlelight and shone; they were trained entirely on his face. Chris felt slightly uncomfortable and confused by the attention. He inhaled. Her perfume smelt of summer flowers. His heart rate slowed. He rested his hand onto the bar, just adjacent to hers.
“Hello,” she said. Her voice was soft, but it sounded close to a giggle. She smiled at him.
Chris wasn’t sure what to do. He kept quiet.
She searched his face. He felt a spark of something. This time it wasn’t the seed, it was felt slightly deeper than that and slightly lower.
“You, err, want me to introduce you to my mate?”
“What?” She looked surprised. “No.”
She smiled and looked bashful. He liked the way she looked when she lowered he head. He liked her hair.
“No,” she said. “I’d, err, I’d like to be introduced to you, really.”
Chris raised his eyebrows. He was aware of Ray bristling beside him.
“I’ll get the drinks in, shall I, mate? Seeing as you’re busy, like, Chris.”
Raymond sounded bitter. The seed grew to a sapling, and Chris realized he didn’t care.
“Chris,” He said. “My name is Chris.”
“Sam. Well, Samantha, but everyone calls me Sam.”
“Oh. Right, Sam. Hi, I’m Chris. Umm, err, listen you want a drink?”
Beside him, Raymond grunted and marched away. Chris turned his head slightly to give a slight,
but he was too busy staring at Sam. It seemed more important to him that he memorized every contour of her face. She looked at him, like she was trying to do the same.
“Thanks. I’ll have a bottle of Stella.”
“Stella? You not want a cocktail or something? One of them Mojitos, like Ray was on about?”
“Your mate’s a bit of a prat, isn’t he? Sorry, I know he’s your mate and that, but, well, us girls can spot fellas like him a mile off.”
“What? What you talking about? All the girls like Ray. Ray Chalmers, the charmer.”
“Yeah? Really? Nah. Some girls maybe.” She shrugged. “Fellas like that, though, too much in love with themselves to make room for anyone else.”
“Oh. Right. S’pose.”
“Anyway,” she said, bumping her hip toward his leg. “About that drink…”
The sapling continued to grow. The tingling in Chris’s stomach may even have been the first of its blossom. Like Chris, it didn’t need Raymond anymore to grow. It had something else. Something good. Chris stared at Sam as the barman totted up the cost of their drinks on the till. The tingling soared within his chest. He hoped, Chris just hoped, that this feeling growing inside him would flourish to something like love.
Sam sipped from the Stella bottle and peered at him beneath her eyelashes. If he’s asked her, Chris would have known that the gulp of lager was to quell a tingling feeling that was fast growing in Sam’s chest, too. If he’d asked her, Chris would have known, that she too was feeling the first shoots of something. Something she’d heard the romantics describe as love at first sight. Chris didn’t ask though, he just smiled and so did she.
Somewhere, at the other side of the bar, Ray preened his right eyebrow in the nearest reflective surface and winked at a pretty girl.