Gloria's boyfriend' goes too far.
Upset, yes I was upset, but also angry. Angry at Simon for being a liar and a dreadful, nasty, pig, and angry at myself for allowing this to happen again. I got off the bus and walked to our house noticing the living room in darkness so my parents possibly had an early night. I could see through the glass on the front door that the kitchen light was on and thought it likely my sister would be waiting to get some gossip from me. I walked down the path to the back gate and sure enough, I saw my sister sitting at the kitchen table doing her school homework. As the back gate slammed she looked through the window at me and gave a huge grin as the back door flew open.
I stormed in and threw my handbag onto the sink draining board before dropping into the chair opposite my grinning sister. "Arrhhhhhhh," I yelled.
"Trouble with the pig again?" Evelyn said.
"Trouble, yes I had trouble all right. He started groping my breasts in front of everyone and tried to pull my skirt up as if he wanted to show all my knickers. One minute he's fine, the next he's trying to humiliate me. He's drunk again. He promised me we would only call at King's for a couple of drinks, but when we walked in, all his mates were there, as if he had planned it. When I saw them I knew what would happen and I seriously thought about walking straight out again."
"Well, why didn't you then?"
I stared at her but ignored the question. "Why is it that when he's on leave he thinks he has to get drunk every time he goes in a pub?"
"I don't suppose he's any different when he's back on camp. Finished with him then, have you?"
"I'm meeting him in The Nelson tomorrow."
"The Nelson! You can't go in there. That's where all the whores go."
I knew it; I knew she'd say that. Why didn't I keep my big mouth shut? After all, it was me who told her only whores go in The Nelson. "We're only meeting in there before we go off somewhere quiet. I'm gonna tell him I'm not putting up with his heavy drinking. We'll have a sit-down talk about our future, while he's sober."
"If he's sober, he might be already pissed up when you get there."
"He'll be sober, he promised me."
"Oh, if he promised it's all right then. He wouldn't break a promise would he?" Evelyn gave a sarcastic before she continued. "You should give him the old heave-ho. You know he's weird. Look at when he was home last time and he got his thingy out at Jackie's party. He's a creep."
"It's the booze. He's all right when he's not had a drink."
Evelyn let out an exaggerated sigh and shook her head. "Anyway, it's a good job you were out. There was a call from the doctors' surgery. The other receptionist wanted you to cover her evening session. Her canary died or something."
"I wouldn't cover for her anyway, the stony-faced wazuk."
My sister laughed. "Where did you find that one?"
"Dunno, I must have read it somewhere. She's always blaming me for the filing mistakes and it gets right up my nose. The doctors know it's her, but they won't say anything to her because she's been there longer than the 'lectric lights. They just tell me, me, to be more vigilant, as if it's my fault."
"Well, never mind about that," Evelyn said. "Let's take a walk up to the chippy, see if them lads are hanging around."
"No!" I said. "I'm not going up there tonight."
"That lad you fancy from the art school, he was up there last night. He's a really good kisser, but he keeps asking about you all the time."
"Does he?" She knows full well I fancy him and if he were there maybe, just maybe, I could get a date with him and then give Simon the old heave-ho as my sister suggested.
"Yeah. Just getting stuck into a good old necking session when he breaks away. 'Is Gloria coming down? Is she still courting?' and stuff like that. It's so annoying I've felt like kicking him in the shins a few times, I can tell you."
I raised my eyebrows and rapped my fingers on the table for a moment. "All right, maybe I do fancy some chips. Might even cheer me up a bit."
"Yeah, it's amazing how chips can cheer you up."
When we got to the fish and chip shop, the only people there were Evelyn's school friends. They chatted for a moment before Evelyn bought a bag of chips with my money. I glanced around, looking disappointed. "What time was he here then?"
"The art school lad."
"Oh, him. He wasn't here. I made it up. I didn't want to walk up here on my own."
"You little sod." I looked at the smirk on my sister's face. "Don't worry, you can grin now, but I'll get you back."
"We can hang about till the lads come out of the tavern if you like."
"No, I've had enough of drunken boys for one night." I took a chip from my sister's bag. "Might as well get back home then."
We began to walk back towards our house, but I stopped and looked at Evelyn as she walked ahead. "Sodding heck, Evelyn."
My sister stopped and looked back at me. "What?"
"Why have you started walking like that?"
"Walking like what?"
"Like a prat."
"I'm not walking like a prat. It's natural, it's feminine, it looks sexy."
"No it doesn't. You're walking like the back end of a pony."
"I know I tricked you about the lad from the art school, but that's a bit over the top, isn't it?" She began to laugh.
"No, I'm serious. It makes you look like a right tart."
"You sound just like dad. You'll be fizzing next. Fizzing at everyone."
"No, I fizzing won't."
"Yes, you fizzing will. Anyway, talking about tarts. You wanna be nice to me, or I might tell Dad you're going to The Nelson tomorrow night. What do you think he'll say about you going in that den of ill repute?" Evelyn laughed and threw a chip at me before running off.
I chased after her in a friendly pursuit, wanting control of the chip bag.
Friday evening, I got dressed up ready to set off to meet Simon. I was hesitating, staring at my new hairstyle in the hall mirror, and wondering if I done the right thing. Suddenly the front door opened and Evelyn walked in. She was laughing after messing about with her school friends and gave a wave to them before closing the door. I looked over at her, waiting for her reaction.
Evelyn dropped her school bag and raised her eyebrows. "What have you done to your hair?"
"Don't you like it? You don't, do you? It looks stupid on me, doesn't it?" I looked back into the mirror, pressing my hair in by my ears.
"No, it's great. I just can't believe my frumpy sister has gone all trendy that's all." She came over and eased my hands back down. "Let me get a proper look." She gave a smile. "Wow, you look fabulous."
I felt a huge relief and smiled back. "I went round Bab's house thinking of having it dyed black, but then I saw this impish, bob style in one of her fashion books and I just went for it. I was still going to go for black, but Bab talked me out of it."
"I should think so as well. It's perfect. Listen, if you want to hang on a little while, I'll have a bath and come into town with you."
"I can't, Eve. If I don't get down there soon Simon will get bored, then he'll start drinking heavy again."
Evelyn looked at her watch. "You're a right optimist, aren't you? He's probably already drunk by now."
"No, he won't do that; he knows I'm serious this time. I told him if he gets drunk again, then that's it. I'm finishing with him."
"Right, well I'll see you later in The Coffee Bar then."
"Oh, ye of little faith." I gave a laugh, took a final look in the mirror, and set off to catch the bus.
I got on the bus and noticed Brenda, as usual, wearing her leather jacket and ice-blue jeans. She always dressed the same, in hopeful anticipation of being the girl riding on the back of Gordy's motorcycle. I dropped down on the seat next to her. "Where are you off, Brenda? Got a date?"
"I'm just going down to The Coffee Bar to see if Gordy's in."
"Isn't he still going out with that girl from uptown?"
"Yeah he is, but he don't like her much. She won't go in The Coffee Bar, she's too snooty. I don't know who she thinks she is. She only works in the bloody bakery. At least I work in an office and I can type."
I could not understand why such a lovely young girl could have a crush on the town rat, but I knew better than to try to put her off. "I think it's Gordy. He probably tells her she's too good for the place so she doesn't follow him down there."
"Yeah, but I'm glad really, cause when he's in there, he sometimes sits with me. He likes me more than her I know he does. He just goes with her because she lets him go all the way." Brenda went quiet before changing the subject as if she had embarrassed herself. "I haven't seen you in The Coffee Bar lately. Are you still with that soldier? Is he on leave again?"
"He's just had two weeks leave, but he's going back to the barracks on Monday. And he's another one who doesn't like The Coffee Bar."
"He'd make a good match for Gordy's old tart then."
"Brenda! You can't call her that just because she's going out with Gordy."
"Why not? That's what he calls her."
I gave a short laugh. "Anyway, I don't need you matching my Simon up with other girls thank you."
"So you'll be all lonely again, once he goes back?"
"I suppose so, but thankfully it won't be too long before he gets home again. Anyway, I'm thinking of getting a flat in London. Simon said there's lots of places to let just across the river. He's got another week's leave in June, so if he can sort a place out for me, I might even go back to London with him and set up home down there." Although I liked the thought and often imagined doing it, it was just fantasy. I would never leave home to live in sin with Simon, or anybody else, no matter how pleasing it seemed.
"Wow, that's fantastic, and me and Gordy can spend weekends with you."
"Err, yeah, well let me get the place before we make any plans."
"And you might live next door to a pop star or something."
"I don't think there's many pop stars living in Battersea." I ran my fingers through my hair, lifting and then flattening it at the back. "What do you think of my new hairstyle?" I said, feeling disappointed Brenda had not mentioned it.
"It's dead good. I think I preferred it longer though."
I was further disappointed with the comment, but I shrugged my shoulders and tried to look unconcerned. "Oh, well thanks anyway."
"No, it still looks nice, and I've always liked the colour."
The bus pulled into the terminus and we walked into the town centre together before saying our goodbyes and going off on our separate ways.
I arrived at The Nelson Hotel just as two women were entering the saloon bar. They were stout big-breasted women and I thought their skirts were too short because of the huge mass of their thighs. They were heavily made-up and wore their hair in beehive styles. The women smiled at me and I smiled in return, but as I followed them in, I felt dismayed at the thought I seemed to be a regular. A regular in The Nelson. I spotted Simon at the far end of the room with a crowd of his friends. He stood out in his army uniform, still looking immaculate, if not slightly drunk. He wore his uniform most of the time when on leave and I thought how I always felt good to be seen out with him. He gave me a silly grin and I smiled back as I walked over, but I was annoyed he had obviously been drinking all afternoon despite his promise to me he wouldn't.
"What on earth have you done to your hair?" he asked as I sat down next to him. He peered at me, swaying while leaning forward. "You look like a bloody school kid."
"Why is it you only pay me compliments, when you're not with your mates?" I asked the question but didn't bother to wait for a reply. "Anyway, I thought you weren't going to the Rec' today?"
"Thought wrong then. Anyhow, I only went for a game of snooker." He stood up and swayed unsteadily for a moment. "Hang on, I'll get you a drink."
Simon walked off to the bar, leaving me sitting with his friends. I felt uncomfortable sitting with the gang of semi-drunk young men, but I felt worse when I saw three girls returning from the toilets and realised they were in the company. They were not the kind of girls I would usually spend time with. I knew two of them vaguely, but I had never been friendly with them. The oldest, Sheila, was nineteen, an unmarried mother with two children, though her mother looked after them most of the time. Lucy was the youngest and like her older friends, was known to be of loose morals. I liked Lucy the least, knowing she often made a play for my boyfriend Simon, but I was confident Simon would never return any interest in someone so common and immature. Despite Lucy's make-up and revealing clothes, she very much underage for her drinking activities.
I hardly know the third girl, Rosie, at all, although I remember seeing her with Gordy once or twice.
The girls smiled politely at me, and to my relief, they sat the other side of the boys and began to chat amongst themselves.
"Here's your Babycham, Glor," Simon said, plonking the drink onto the table and spilling some of it in the process.
I smiled at him before taking a sip of my drink, hoping I could coax him away from his friends. "Can we have this drink then take a walk down to The Coffee Bar or something? I'd like us to be on our own so we can have a chat about our future."
"No, we're all right here. Unless you fancy a walk in the park." He gave a laugh. "For a chat."
"I don't think so, not after last time. It was bad enough when you were sober."
Simon stared at me and shook his head. "It's the last chance for you tonight."
"Last chance!" I gave a laugh. "Last chance at what?"
Although the crowd pretended to take no interest, they were all listening to the conversation, knowing how easily he could turn abusive towards me when he had too much to drink.
"I've been having a good think about our future myself, about our relationship, and how I don't seem to be getting anywhere with you. We've been going together for ages and you won't even let me get your tits out."
That was it. He had started. The sensible thing to do now would be to get up and leave, but as usual, I would try to reason with him. However, once he started, his insults nearly always became too much for me and I would usually end up walking out on him anyway. One of his friends was sitting close by with a huge grin on his face as he listened to every word. I stared at him for a moment causing the lad to look away like a scolded child. I looked back at Simon. "The drink talking again. Come on, let's go somewhere else. You need to sober up a bit."
"Cheeky bitch. Who the hell do you think you are?" He stood up and shouted across to Rosie. "Oy, Rosie, this is Glorious Gloria, the bible bashing virgin. I've tried my best to rectify the situation, but sod it, I've given up on the goose. Too much like hard work." Some of the crowd laughed, but some of his friends were fond of me and were embarrassed by his remarks. Those who did laugh soon dropped the grins from their faces when I looked at them.
"Come on, Simon, you've had enough. Let's get you home," I said.
"Look, she thinks she's my mum." He leaned over to whisper to me. "I'm serious. If you don't let me have something tonight, then I'll go out the back and have it off with Rosie."
"Why is it you have to talk so stupid when you've had a drink?"
"Stupid am I? One of us is stupid and I don't think it's me." He turned away and looked over to the girls. "Rosie!" he called again, but this time he walked over to her. Taking hold of her hand, he tried to pull her up out of her seat, but she pulled against him. "Come outside a minute," he said, "I want a word."
She yanked her hand away from him. "Forget it," she said. "Go and play somewhere else. Anyway, Tony's coming to pick me up soon and he won't be too pleased with you trying to chat me up, especially if he's got his mates from the coal yard with him."
"Oh, I'm so scared."
"You'd better be as well."
Simon laughed. "Trained I am. Trained in combat. Coal-jaggers, what are they trained to do? Carrying dirty sacks of coal, that's all."
"Yeah, and thumping piss-head squaddies."
"Sod you anyway; you've had your chance." He turned to Lucy. "What about you, Lucy? We've always had a bit of a thing between us, haven't we?" He had more success with her and managed to pull her to her feet. "Come on, let's go outside?"
"No, Simon, you've got your girlfriend with you."
"Who Glorious Gloria? Don't worry about her. She's not my girlfriend anymore, and anyway, I only want to ask you something." He turned and gave an obvious wink to his friends.
The girl glanced over at me but quickly looked away again. "No, I don't know. I don't want to."
"It's all right, look." He turned to look at me. "Oy, Gloria, you don't mind if I take her outside and give her a good..." He stopped and gave a short laugh before continuing. "A good talking to?"
I felt horrified at what was happening. "Don't do this to me, Simon. Please don't."
"We're finished, Gloria. It's all over between us. Hallelujah, I've seen the light." He laughed again, at his attempt at humour. "So it's nothing to do with you. I can do what I like, with who I like, when I like." He led the partially drunk girl out through the back door. All the time the girl giving a token resistance verbally, but not physically.
The two older girls looked at each other, more amused than shocked at their young friend's foolish attempt at being adult. The lads whispered amongst themselves with huge grins on their faces. I looked on with mixed feelings of anger and despair, feeling hurt and disgusted about what was happening. Still, I thought he might be bluffing and if I followed them they would just be talking, and having a good laugh at my expense. He often humiliated me, but, bluff or real, this is the worst thing he has ever done. I felt like running from the place but thought it would make me look weak and foolish. I would stand my ground and face him when he returned. I would remain calm, hide my true feelings, the hurt, the humiliation, and tell him, yes it was over between us and I didn't really care. Then I would walk out proudly and confidently, out of the bar and out of his life.