Ellis arrives in town.
I am what is called the new boy in town. We moved here from Derbyshire only two weeks ago and I am missing all my pals as well as a few girlfriends. After a few days, I began calling at the local nightspots, where others of my age gathered, hoping to make new friends. I visited The Coffee Bar in the town centre a few times, but this night I chose to visit The King's Arms public house first. The choice proved to be a good one for me.
As I approached the bar entrance, I saw a local lad arguing with three other lads in the car park. I recognised the lad as someone I had seen leaving the Coffee Bar one evening and heard someone call him Gordy, but I had never spoken to him. One of the lads began shouting at Gordy and it looked as if things were about to turn nasty. Although it was none of my business, I was thinking of making my way over to improve the odds a little. Three onto one was just not right.
"I'm warning you, Gordy," the lad yelled, "keep away from my sister or else."
"Or else what?" Gordy yelled back.
"Or else I'll bust your fucking nose."
Gordy gave a short sarcastic laugh. "Here's the nose," he said, tapping his nose with his index finger. "Get busting, if you think you can." There was a pause, but no one moved. "Yeah, all mouth you little mob."
"I'm just warning you. Keep away from my sister or there'll be trouble."
"I'll tell you what, the three of you. Let's have it now. Let's have some trouble."
Despite the anger and aggression, the three seemed reluctant to take up the challenge. "Why don't you leave my sister alone and just carry on screwing your so-called girlfriend, that old boot from the bakery?" The youth spoke the insult with a cocky attitude.
"I like to put me self about a bit and anyway, one old boot's as good as another and your sister's no glass slipper, is she?"
I shook my head as the lad foolishly walked towards Gordy and raised his arm as if advertising he was going to throw a punch.
Gordy easily blocked and deflected the blow and followed with a powerful and well-aimed straight punch, catching the lad square on his mouth, splitting his lips, and sending him tumbling backwards onto the ground. His companions helped him back to his feet while he held a handkerchief to his mouth. He was slightly shocked, but regained his aggressiveness and began verbally abusing Gordy again while spitting blood from his mouth.
The three of them began to close in on Gordy, circling him, causing him to keep changing the direction of his vision as if he were wondering which one of them was going to start their attack on him. They were about to move in when I decided to step out of the shadows behind the girl's brother. I grabbed his hair, pulled him back slightly, and then raised my leg and put my foot on the lad's rear. I shoved him with great force sending him sprawling onto the ground again.
The other two looked at me, surprised that Gordy seemed to have company. Now it was two on two, the idea of confrontation looked even less inviting. "You're not worth soiling my hands," one of them said to Gordy. They went over to help their friend up from the ground for the second time and walked off turning back every so often to shout abuse.
Gordy ignored the taunts and walked over to me. "Thanks for your help, mate," he said, "but I could have managed those three idiots."
"I'm sure you could, but I thought it would be a good way to introduce myself. I'm Ellis. We just moved into town and I'm trying to find my feet, I suppose."
"Well you came to the right man, Ellis. And I'll buy you a pint next time and maybe show you around."
Although Gordy offered to buy me a beer, he walked over to his Tiger Cub motorcycle and kick-started the engine.
"I'm just going in the pub," I called over. "If you fancy buying me that pint?"
"Just come outta there. No one in, it's a bit early yet. I'm popping down The Coffee Bar, see who's about. Tell you what, get on the back and I'll buy you a coffee instead."
I was glad of the offer, thinking it would make a better impression to walk into the Coffee Bar with Gordy instead of walking in alone like I usually did. I got on the pillion pleased I had perhaps found a friend.
It was not far to The Coffee Bar and we soon pulled up outside the huge front windows. A young local girl, Evelyn, was just leaving as we made our way towards the door. I smiled at her. She had chatted with me briefly on the few times I had called there and I thought how pleasant she was towards me. She seemed to have a permanent grin on her face. The type of grin that made me wonder if she was pleased to see me or was laughing at me.
"Hiya, Ellis," she said cheerily. "What's a nice lad like you doing with the town rat?"
"Oy, watch your mouth you grotty little cow," Gordy said.
I raised my eyebrows as I looked at Gordy, wondering how he could say such a thing to this lovely young girl. I looked back at Evelyn to see her smiling at me. I felt relieved knowing she was less bothered by the comment than I was. "Have you got time for a drink?" I asked.
"No, I've already had two Coke's. I've gotta get home anyway, got loads of homework to do. Maybe another time, eh?"
I felt disappointed as Evelyn turned and walked off without another word, but I thought it best to just follow Gordy inside.
The Coffee Bar was light and spacious with plate glass windows to the front and down the side street. It looked much as it must have looked in the forties and fifties, with huge mirrors on the party wall and lots of plaster and Formica giving an art deco type of style. There was plenty of room to sit at the tables, with still enough space should anyone wish to dance to the sounds from the jukebox. There was further seating on some vinyl-covered pedestal seats at the bar by the far wall. The long bar was also mirrored at the rear and had a great line of Crusha optic bottles displaying every kind of milkshake flavour ever known.
"Two coffees," Gordy shouted to the Italian looking owner as we sat by one of the front windows. "Proper strong coffees, not that milky crap."
I noticed how the few people in the place smiled, nodded, or put a hand up to Gordy. He was obviously a well-known character in town. I turned to look out through the window, watching Evelyn as she made her way towards the bus terminus. Her hips and pelvis swayed across and then her perfectly formed bottom seemed to rise for a fraction before her pelvis swayed back on the next step. She walked confidently with her arms swinging gently at her side, each shoulder easing forward and back again as her upper body pivoted in motion with her hips. Her whole body moved in perfect repetitive harmony. I wondered if she practised the way she walked or if she were just a naturally sensual girl. Whatever it was, it captured my attention.
"We'll have a coffee and then shoot back to Kings for a few beers," Gordy said, breaking my concentration. "What do you say, fancy a session?"
"Not really. Not a session. I have to be at work for five in the morning." I only started work at the depot the previous week and couldn't risk turning up late, or worse, not turning up at all.
"Sod that. You can stay for a couple though? A few of the lads'll be turning up soon."
"All right, but just a couple, or I'll never get up in the morning."
"What's happening? Where is everyone tonight?" Gordy seemed almost concerned as he glanced around at all the tables, most of them unoccupied. The owner brought the coffee over, but Gordy seemed to be losing interest in staying.
I noticed a young girl sitting on a pedestal stool at the counter looking over at us. When Gordy briefly glanced at her she used it as a cue to walk over. "Hiya," she said, obviously wanting to sit with us, but seeming afraid to make the move without Gordy's permission. "Do you mind if I join you?"
I thought the girl looked a bit false in a biker style leather jacket and ice-blue jeans. The clothes looked out of place on her as if she were wearing them for effect, but didn't feel comfortable in them. Nevertheless, she was a pretty girl and seemed pleasant and friendly.
"Piss off, Brenda," Gordy said and he turned his back on her. The girl took the rejection without any comment and walked back to the counter.
I looked over and smiled at the girl. She gave a slight smile back but looked away and I realised she was only interested in Gordy. I picked up my cup, but the coffee was scalding hot and I quickly put it down again. "I like Evelyn, I think I'll ask her out," I said.
"Don't be silly, jail bait. She's still at school."
"I'm not that much older than her. She told me she's in her fifth year at school."
"Doesn't matter. She's not sixteen yet, but don't worry, I know when her birthday is and I'll let you know when she's ripe for plucking. You can be first, after me, that is." Gordy looked out at Evelyn's distant, but still noticeable, teasing walk. "Look at her, turning into a proper little baby machine. I knew her when she was flat-chested with holes in her shoes and candles hanging from her nose." Gordy laughed but stopped suddenly. "You want to see her sister Gloria, now there is a peach. Only trouble is, she seems to have a padlock on her knickers. Goes to church every Sunday, no sex before marriage, and all that crap. What a waste. Let's hope Evelyn don't turn out the same."
"I can still take Evelyn out," I said. "We don't have to have sex or anything."
"Don't have to have sex or anything, well what's the point of taking her out then?" Gordy tutted and shook his head. "Look, I'll take you to Crewe tomorrow night. There's a disco I go to down there full of Martini girls who are going nutty for it now that they're getting hold of the pill, and the place don't close till one. You're not working Saturday, are you?"
"I am yeah, but I'm not on till late."
"Right, we'll meet here and go on the bike. Can you ride a bike?"
"Course I can. Passed my test on my cousin's Bantam. Just can't afford a good bike yet and I don't want anything too old-fashioned."
"Nah, there's a lot of Bantams in the local paper, but most of them are the old one-two-fives with the chicken on the side. Who wants to ride a bike with a chicken on it?" Gordy looked down at his coffee for a moment and then pushed it away as if he didn't like the look of it. "So, new boy in town, eh. Where do you come from then?"
"Oh, Derbyshire. So what brought you over the Pennines to God's finest pastures?"
"My dad's a train driver and we transferred over here so he could get his promotion from passed-fireman to driver."
Gordy pulled a face after taking a sip of his coffee, and he put it back on the table. "Oh, you work down at the train shed. That's why you do those funny shifts then?"
"Yeah, but I don't mind shiftwork. I wouldn't like to work eight till five every day."
"Cor, neither would I. I'm quite happy being paid by the government." Gordy stood up. "Come on, let's get back to King's. The coffee's shit anyway."
The owner looked over and, raising his hands, he called out with an almost rhythmic tone to his voice. "Money, Gordy, money."
"No change, I'll pay you tomorrow, just slate it for now."
"You're a bad man, Gordy," the owner said, shaking his head in frustration.
"Bloody cheek, the money I've spent in here," he replied, but ignored the request. I would have paid myself but it might not look good in Gordy's eyes.
Brenda smiled at us as we left and I smiled back, but Gordy ignored her. Gordy was about to start the motorcycle when we heard someone shout his name. I looked along the street and saw a girl hurrying along the pavement towards us.
"Oh shit," Gordy said, obviously recognising her voice.
"Gordy," she repeated as she got near and puffing as she spoke. "I thought I'd find you here."
Gordy put his motorcycle back onto its stand before looking round. "What have I told you about snooping?"
"I'm not snooping. You haven't been near all week. I want to know what's going on that's all."
"I've just been showing Ellis around. He's new in town."
"Oh really." She smiled and eyed me up and down. "Well, are you gonna introduce me?"
"Course. This is Ellis." He looked at me. "Ellis, this is the old tart."
The girl pushed Gordy's shoulder feebly. "Oy watch it you. Anyway, are you gonna run me home? My mum and dad have gone out to a show in Manchester, so we've got the place to ourselves."
"What, do you want to have it off with the both of us or something?"
"Don't be so bloody rude, Gordy," she said. She looked at me and grinned. "He's a sod, ain't he?"
I didn't answer. I just smiled at her politely, feeling a little embarrassed by their remarks.
"Anyway, I'll call round later. We're just calling for a pint. You can get the bus home and have a bath, you stink." Gordy wafted his hand across his face in an exaggerated gesture. "Phawrr."
"I've just bloody finished work. You'd stink if you worked in that bakery all day."
"But I don't, do I?" Gordy looked at me. "Get on then, Ellis, you can drive." He looked back at the girl. "Well get going then. I'll see you in about an hour or so."
We walked into the bar of The King's Arms and the place had started to liven up. I looked to the end of the room towards a group of youths. "Who's that rowdy crowd down at the end?" I said.
"You don't want to hang about with them, bunch of no-hopers. Their only interests are getting drunk and losing their money backing horses. Don't know what they're doing in here. They're usually down at the Nelson with the local slags." Gordy bought the drinks, but as we stood at the bar, he seemed to be rushing to finish his pint. "So where do you live then?" he asked.
"Top of Warwick Hill."
"Drink up then. I'll drop you home."
"I thought we were stopping for a couple."
"Nah, not if you're on at five in the morning. I wouldn't want to make you late."
I realised that despite his remarks to his girlfriend, Gordy was eager to go and visit her. Perhaps Gordy thought more of the girl than he would admit. "I suppose you're right and it'll leave me more cash for tomorrow."
We left the bar and as we accelerated away on the motorcycle, Gordy raised his hand to a young couple who were making their way towards the public house. The boy waved back, but the girl ignored him and looked away.
Gordy shouted back to me. "There she is, that's Gloria."
I glanced back. I thought Gloria looked nice like Gordy said, but she also looked ordinary; not having the same teasing and eye-catching appearance as her younger sister. Yes, Evelyn looked much better, from the back anyway.