Things were going well for Monica, until a middle aged stalker took an interest in her.
September 1973 East London.
Monica looked over as Anne walked into Benito's Italian restaurant and stood posing at the door.
"Go on then," Anne said. "Get off and get ready for your karate."
Monica gave a smile. "You didn't have to come so early. It don't start till seven."
Anne grinned back and walked across towards the staff changing room with Monica following. "No, you done me a right good turn yesterday, so I'm returning the favour."
"You've already done me a favour getting me this job. Working at that Gallaher factory was the worst job I've ever had, and it's great coming to work dressed up and wearing make-up."
Anne took off her cardigan and stood in an immaculate black waitress outfit. "Yeah, but can you cope with the drop in wages?"
"I can manage and anyway, the tips nearly make it up."
"I don't think so. You'd have to serve in the nude to earn that much."
Monica laughed. "Now there's a thought."
Anne looked around the room pretending concern. "Don't give that Tony any ideas. My Eddie would go mad if he walked in and saw us strutting about starkers." Both girls laughed before Anne continued on a more serious note. "Still haven't heard from the nutter then?"
Monica's expression changed as she was thrust back into reality. "No. It's been over a week now and I've had no phone calls. Hopefully, he's given up on me."
"Probably found out that your boyfriend's a karate instructor."
"Maybe." Monica kicked off her flat shoes and started putting on her platforms, preferring to walk out in them because the little extra height made her taller like most other people. "I'll get off then. I'll have a good soak in the bath. It's been so hot in here this afternoon. They say it's been the hottest summer for twenty years."
"Yeah, been great, hasn't it?" Anne gave a laugh and stood in thought for a moment before continuing. "I love hot sweaty sex, don't you? With the moisture matting your hair and trickling down behind your ears. Just think of it, me and Eddie's hot moist bodies slipping against each other."
"Anne! Someone might hear you."
"I'm off. I don't want to listen to the intimate details of your sex life again."
"Bloody spoilsport," Anne said and returned a grin as she walked out to check on the customers.
Monica looked towards the mirror. The white painted letters at the top read: "Do you look as good as you should?" She smiled into the mirror like she often did because she liked the smile that was returned by her reflection. Her short mousey hair needed no work on it. It was always tidy, even when training at the karate club. She saw it as her best feature, not fully realising the attractive look of her innocent child-like face. She tried to stick her chest out, disappointed that the breast enhancement exercises had not worked. The course she had purchased from an advertisement in the newspaper, had been just a scam. She considered her breasts to be small, and always felt envious of girls with a fuller figure. She treated herself to another smile before setting off home, knowing she had plenty of time to relax before her session at the karate club.
She arrived home in obvious high spirits and began to make a pot of tea while her mother went into the passage to retrieve the laundry basket from the cupboard under the stairs. "Son of a gun," she whispered the opening words of a Carly Simon song as it began to play on the radio, and she happily sang along with it. The trouble that she was having with her stalker was far from her mind, but then the telephone started to ring in the living room. Although a normal occurrence in many households, it sent a chill through her; her pulse rate increased and she felt a churning sickly feeling in her stomach as she looked towards the kitchen door. The ringing stopped and she held her breath as she waited to hear her mother talking in the living room and then sighed in relief when she realised the conversation was obviously not hostile. A few minutes later her mother walked in with the laundry basket and smiled towards Monica.
"That was your father on the phone."
"Yeah, I know, but I still get nervous when the phone starts to ring, in case it's him again."
"It's a while since we've heard from that pest, for the want of a better word. He's probably given up and pestering somebody else. We may have heard the last of him."
"I hope so. He's ruining my life, Mum. It doesn't matter how happy I am, as soon as the phone rings he's in my mind and it scares me that he's out there somewhere."
"I know, darling, but after tomorrow no one will be able to get our new number. We'll soon forget about him." Her mother started taking some clean washing from the washing machine when the telephone began ringing again. "It's all right, it's your father. He said he'd phone back to say what time he'll be home."
Monica walked into the living room and looked at the ringing telephone. "Are you sure? Are you sure it's Dad?"
"Yes, but leave it. I'll dry my hands and get it."
"No, no I'll get it," she called and then muttered to herself. "Just being daft, paranoid." She gave a sigh, took a deep breath, and then blew the air from her lungs as if miming a whistle. She picked up the receiver, but because of all the nuisance calls she wanted to let the caller speak first, so she continued to hold onto the receiver, but knew by the silence that it was not her father and then she heard a voice that she dreaded.
"Hello, Monica. I know it's you. Have you missed me?"
Monica's heart sank as she realised that her tormentor had not given up on her after all. She wanted to hang up but knew he would call straight back. "Why? Why are you doing this to me?"
"I love you. I want you. I can satisfy your needs more than any of those silly boys can. A girl like you needs a man, a big man and I'm a big man where it counts."
He gave a laugh, a deep rasping laugh that she had heard many times. "I can picture you here in my bedroom, gasping in pleasure as I slip your panties off and..."
Monica slammed down the receiver as her mother rushed into the room. No sooner had Monica put the handset down when, true to form, the telephone began ringing again.
"Let me get it," her mother said, upset by her error.
But Monica picked up the receiver and shouted down the telephone. "Why don't you just piss off and leave me alone?"
"What on earth's going on?"
The call was from her father and when she realised it, her heart sank again because of her error. As she continued she glanced at her mother with the expression of a naughty child. "I'm sorry, Dad. I didn't mean to swear…"
"Don't worry yourself about that. Has he started again? Has that bloody pervert been on again?" But Monica didn't answer. "I'll kill him," her father said. "I'll bloody kill him if I ever get my hands on him."
Monica passed the receiver to her mother and walked off to the kitchen. She sat at the kitchen table and leant forward resting her elbows on the table with her hands to her face.
Monica's mother hurried the conversation and followed Monica to the kitchen. "Are you all right, Love?"
Monica gave a large sigh as she looked up. "Yes, I'm okay, but I don't understand, Mum. Why me? Why is he doing this to me?"
"Who knows? Just picked a number from the phone book and you happened to answer. They'll get him. The police will get him. It's just a matter of time before he makes a mistake with someone and they'll have him. They always do."
Monica smiled, trying to show that she was not too distressed over the matter. She knew that the calls were upsetting her mother as much as they were upsetting her, but her mother always tried to put on a brave face so she felt she should do the same. "I'd best pour out the tea before it gets cold."
"You sit there," her mother said. "I'll do it. You've been at work all day."
They sat and talked about Monica's new job, trying to dismiss the telephone call from their minds, but Monica kept glancing over to the living room door.
"It's all right. I've left the phone off the hook until your father gets home."
Monica smiled at her mother, relieved that the man couldn't harass her any further. "What time will Dad be home then?"
"Not till after six."
"Good, that means I can relax in the bathroom without him banging on the door telling me to hurry up." Monica went upstairs leaving her mother feeding the washing machine again. She closed the curtains of her bedroom window and got undressed before going to the bathroom. She was soon relaxing in the bath daydreaming about her boyfriend Alan.
"Have you got any washing?" her mother called from the landing.
"Only what I've just taken off," Monica called back.
"Might as well get it," her mother said and went into Monica's bedroom to clear her washing basket.
When Monica got out of the bath she could hear her mother working in the kitchen and because her father was still out she hurried to her bedroom wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around her hair. She opened the bedroom door and dashed in, looking straight through her bedroom window to the flats opposite. She was horrified that out of habit her mother had tidied the room and opened the curtains before making her way back down the stairs.
"Oh, Mum!" she shouted out as she hurried back to the bathroom. She re-appeared in her bedroom wrapped in towels and walked across to close the curtains. "I wish she wouldn't keep doing that," she muttered to herself, but she saw the funny side and showed a huge grin as she pulled the curtains together.
* * * * *
After her evening Karate training, Monica walked out from the church hall that was used by the club. She was annoyed because Alan had stopped behind to help with the full-contact group again. It was only supposed to be the occasional Tuesday, but it seemed as if it were every Tuesday.
She walked past a telephone box towards a bit of the road that ran between an old Victorian school and a cemetery. It was the only bit that made her nervous, even though she had never heard of anybody having trouble there. The high yellow brick wall of the school yard and the trees on the outside of the pavement made it a bleak place and it always seemed that at least one of the two street lights were not working.
She saw someone ahead looking round from a side gate recess in the school wall. He moved back out of sight as she slowed her pace. It worried her and she wondered if she should go back to the club, or just cross the road and ignore him. She had never liked walking on the cemetery side, fearful of a hand reaching out through the ivy-covered railing, but she thought it a better option than passing by the man in the recess.
A car turned into the road behind her and two high-powered spotlights and a fan of light from the headlights suddenly began cutting into the darkness. The car slowed and pulled alongside of her. She looked at the familiar Hillman Hunter and smiled as the driver pushed open the passenger door. "Want a lift, Monica?" the lad called.
"Hello, Demo Dave," she said. "What are you doing round here?"
"Just passing, but I was going to ask you the same."
"I've just come from the karate club." She glanced back down the road as if to give an indication.
"Oh, I didn't know you were in that one," he said unconvincingly. "Don't they do all that kickboxing in there?"
"Only a few of the older lads do that." She got into his car relieved that she didn't have to worry about the stranger anymore, and also noticing the huge grin on Dave's face. Monica knew that Dave fancied her, but then Dave fancied anyone in a skirt.
As they drove past the side gate, Monica looked at the man as he stood lighting a cigarette. He stared straight back at her and she felt a sudden chill as if his stare had cut into her. She looked away wondering what he was up to and thinking that maybe he was planning to break into the school, or maybe not, but she thought that he was certainly up to no good.
She glanced at Dave and thought it couldn't just be a coincidence that he happened to be driving along this back street as she left the hall and she wondered what he really wanted.
"So," Dave said. "I hear you're working with Anne at that Italian place?"
"Yeah," Monica said. She didn't think the question that important and her thoughts went back to the sinister appearance of the man in the recess.
"Nice girl Anne."
"If you fancy her you're out of luck. She's going steady," she said, speaking as if she had finally dismissed the man from her mind.
"Oh yes, I know. She goes out with a mate of mine. I was just wondering if you had her phone number. Joy was asking me for it."
"Anne's not on the phone. I'd have thought your friend would have told you that."
"Yeah he did, but I thought he might be lying."
"Why would he do that?"
Dave chose to ignore the question. "Joy's having a party next Friday and she wanted me to ask Anne to go."
"We know about the party. Anne's not going; she has to work Friday night. I've already told Joy that."
"Oh, so you're going then, are you? I'll see you there then and we can have a dance and that."
"Alan's going as well."
"Maybe we'd better forget the 'and that' bit then," Dave said and then laughed.
"Yeah, maybe we'd better," she replied and laughed with him.
After Dave dropped Monica home, she began thinking of the man in the recess again and wondered if she should call the police, but she thought she may look foolish if she did. She thought it best to just forget about him, after all, whatever he was up to, it was nothing to do with her.