Monica gets more annoyed at Alan's attention to the new girl.
Monica arrived at the karate club on Tuesday night and was surprised to see Jean already there and making a feeble attempt at doing some stretching exercises, but at least she was wearing her karate suit and looked like a proper student instead of a sporty model. She thought perhaps the girl was beginning to take a bit more interest because she previously only bothered to turn up on Thursdays.
She didn't feel jealous of the girl at first, but she was annoyed by her absenteeism especially as she received a strict telling off from Alan once for failing to turn up on just one occasion, but she was pleased Alan had not caused her any further humiliation like he had at the time of Jean's first visit. She thought perhaps he had actually started listening to her and maybe now they were to be engaged he would become more affectionate towards her and stop treating her just like one of the students.
The session would proceed as normal with stretching and warming up exercises followed by katas and sparring with spells of fitness training whenever the instructors felt the need. Monica always enjoyed the sparring and found it fulfilling.
The class performed their individual kata routines, an area Monica was proficient in, but she noticed Alan spending time with Jean, too much time she thought. Alan was standing behind Jean holding her wrists and positioning her arms correctly for the moves and stances. Monica was slightly disturbed by how close he was to the girl. His body was against her, he seemed to be pushing his pelvis against her rear, and all the time that pathetic grin was beaming across her face. He was whispering something to her and they both began laughing. No one else seemed to be taking any notice. They all thought it was just a bit of tuition given to a beginner, but Monica was disturbed by their giggling. This was obviously not tuition, not in karate anyway. She lost her concentration and as she carried on sparring, her foot came up and crashed against her opponent's chest sending him forcefully sideways to stumble and fall to the floor. She rushed over to him.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she said.
"Phew, that was some kick," he replied.
"Are you all right?"
He smiled as he got up. "I'm fine, just a bit shocked that's all. You should consider joining our full-contact group you know."
"No thanks," she said and laughed when she realised her opponent was not hurt.
"It's not the least bit funny, Monica."
She turned around and looked at Alan. "I'm sorry, Sensei."
"And so you should be." Alan was not shouting, but he was talking loud and a lot of the students stopped and were looking over. Jean was standing next to Alan with the grin still across her face.
"I expect that sort of lack of control from the lower grades. At your level you should be setting an example in Kumite."
"It was partly my fault," her opponent said. "I walked into it."
"Was I talking to you, John?"
Alan looked back at Monica. "John is a real person, you can hurt him, he's not an imaginary assailant."
"What the hell do you mean by that, Alan?"
Alan put a hand up as if warning her about her lack of respect. Her reaction was immediate and she stepped back and gave a bow to him. "Maybe, Monica, you're not quite ready to take your three KYU grading." Monica stared at him, her expression clearly showing her anger and obviously upset by his remark. "All right, the show's over, all change partners."
Monica deliberately walked towards Jean. "No, Monica, John can pair up with Jean. You're sparring with me." The sad look left Monica's face to be replaced by a smile that broadened even more when she saw the look on Jean's face. They sparred for a while before Alan stopped her. "Monica, I'm really proud of you. You just get better and better. You're one of the best students, so what was all that about with John? Did he do something to annoy you?"
"No, of course not."
"Well why did you strike him like that?"
"I wasn't concentrating. I was watching you, playing with, That Girl."
"That girl's name is Jean as well you know. She needs a bit of help with her basics and we are all meant to be of help to her, not just me. I'm a bit disappointed you allowed an outside event to influence you. You mustn't lose your concentration and you know that. You lost it again when I spoke of an imaginary assailant. You should have seen it was a deliberate attempt to see what sort of response you would give."
"And I gave the wrong one."
"Yes, you did, but at least you know you did. I want you to spar with Jean now. And remember that she's a beginner and she needs all the help and encouragement you can give her. You spar with her and show me you have the ability to become a brown belt and not a jealous alley cat."
"I love you, Alan."
"Not the time or place, Monica," he said, but then he moved closer and whispered. "And I love you too, and I really am proud of you."
"Any time, any place."
Alan clapped his hands and called out to the group. "Okay change partners again before we get on and do some fitness training."
Jean was a bit worried when she realised she was being paired up with Monica, but she felt reassured when Monica began teaching her moves as if she were her friend. The talk from Alan seeming all that was needed to remove the aggression from her.
At the end of the training Monica walked across to Alan as he stood chatting to the other instructor. "I suppose you're stopping behind again to help with the pugilists?"
Alan laughed at Monica's attempt at sarcasm about a branch of karate she was not fond of. "The full-contact group, yes, but I've asked the four beginners to stay behind for a while so I can give them a bit of personal attention as well."
"I'll stay and help if you like."
"No, you get home, it'll be late by the time I get through. Anyway, I've asked Abby's mother if she can drop you off. She said she can go past your street."
"Is Jean one of the beginners that's staying behind?"
"Yes, does that cause you any concern?"
"No. I just wondered. I thought we were going for a drink tonight that's all."
"Thursday, we'll have a drink with the crowd on Thursday. Then afterwards I'll take you to The Golden Bird for a Chinese, just the two of us."
A huge grin filled Monica's face at the thought of dining out together and removed any jealous thoughts from her mind, temporarily at least. "Oh, guess what came in the post this morning," she said and continued almost like an excited child. "My provisional driving licence."
"What on earth do you want that for?"
"So I can drive and get a car. I thought you might like to take me out in your car for some lessons."
"Don't be silly, Monica, I don't have the time and I don't need you wearing out my clutch."
"Oh, don't be so mean."
"I'm serious. I teach karate not driving and if you have any free time at all then you should be going over your katas. Get your brown belt and then if you want you can save up and take the driving lessons properly."
Monica left the hall feeling disappointed that Alan had no interest in her driving and she knew it would be hard for her to pay for a course of proper driving lessons.
* * * * *
Early evening on Thursday in The Burger Bar, the girls were looking forward to the end of their shift. Anne looked at her watch as Monica tidied up a table that had just been vacated. "Only an hour to go. I don't like this poxy job. I wish I'd never started here. It's not like I need the money anymore, Dave gets right good wages."
"Well at least it's quiet now, before the evening rush."
"That's not our problem." Anne plonked herself down on one of the seats. "So do you think you've heard the last of the nutter?"
"I don't think so. He's started phoning again, but it's different, no talking and no laughing at me, just the damn heavy breathing. You know I think that's worse somehow."
"I thought it would have been all over when you changed the number."
"I can't understand how he got the number. I've been onto the operator and they said they were sure the number wouldn't be given out. It's a mystery. You don't realise until it happens to you. You don't realise how it destroys your will knowing he's out there and he can ruin your day any time he chooses. I get nervous every time a phone rings."
"Well at least you can look after yourself. You saw him off that time when you were walking home from karate. He hasn't tried that again, has he?"
"Oh yes he has, Anne."
"Can we just change the subject, I'd rather not talk about it."
"Yeah, brings it all back I suppose. Talking of nutters, did you hear the news about that bloke up north? Shot that young couple with a gun."
"Not with a gun surely. Why didn't he use a mop?"
"Don't take the piss." Anne gave a laugh. "No, he shot them late at night while they were parked near a beach or something. Never took anything, never interfered with them, just shot them as if he were practising or something. Makes you shiver that there's nutters like that about. Still, at least your prowler hasn't got a gun, at least I hope not."
"What, are you trying to cheer me up or something." Monica looked towards the front of the shop as a man turned to sit down with his back to her; a stout middle-aged man with grey hair. "That's him," she said. "That's the nutter." She rushed down to him. "What the hell are you doing here?" she shouted and then noticed the man's bewildered look. "Oh, oh I'm sorry. I thought you were someone else. I'm really sorry."
"That's all right," the man said. "Can I order, or do I have to go to the counter?"
"I'll take your order." She glanced at Anne who had her hand over her mouth, laughing. Monica smiled back, but she felt foolish and started shaking as if she were slightly shocked by the mistake. When she had taken the order she walked back over to Anne. "I felt a right bloody idiot," she said.
"Well, no harm done. He's been in before and I think he's a bit Mutt and Jeff. Probably didn't even realise that you were having a go at him. Anyhow, we're supposed to be changing the subject. I see you've brought your sports bag with you. Got karate tonight, haven't you?"
"Yes, but I don't know if I want to go."
"That's not like you."
"There's a new girl there and Alan is ogling her all the time, ogling and touching and it's getting right up my nose."
"I didn't know he was an oggler."
"Oh yes, he's known for it. Alan the oggler they call him."
"I think I've read about him in the Readers Digest."
"I didn't know you could read."
"Course I can, went to Hay Currie secondary modern, didn't I mate?"
"Seriously, why do all the girls make a play for him?"
"Let me think. It could be that he's a black belt karate instructor, he runs his own karate club, has a flash car, has lots of cash, has a body to die for, and he looks like a film star. Do you think that could have something to do with it?"
"Don't be daft; he's only a partner at the club." There was a brief pause before Monica continued. "We're supposed to be going for a Chinese later. I might just meet up with him in the Globe and say I'm not feeling too good."
"Chinese eh! I suppose it's like a celebration for your engagement?"
"Not really. Are you going to the Bingo tonight?"
"Yeah, I'm going every Thursday now; it's better money."
"I might come with you."
"It's Thursday, Thursday is members only night."
"Well you can sign me in."
"No, like I said it's members only. No signing in."
"All right, I'll join then."
"They won't let anyone join on Thursdays."
"Well I've never heard of that before."
"It's a new thing, all the bingo clubs are doing it."
"I don't think so. It seems to me as if you're hiding something; as if you've got something going on." Monica began laughing, but she stopped when she saw the look on Anne's face. "Oh Anne, you're not?"
"Don't say nothing, but it just seemed to get…"
"Hold it, Anne, don't tell me any more. I don't want to know, I just don't want to know, and you're pregnant as well."
"Yeah, but I'm not showing yet."
"And that matters does it?"
"Hey, Anne," the owner called out. "It would be nice if you were to do something for a change."
"Take the rubbish and stick it in the bin."
"Hey, Martin, it would be nice if you were to have a bath for a change. Take your job and shove it up your fat arse."