Gloria runs into her ex in the café.
I went into town the next morning to buy myself a frock for the party. Although I felt no need for any refreshment, it seemed as if I were being drawn towards The Coffee Bar. Indeed, I arrived at the place and wondered what I was doing there.
I got myself a coffee and walked towards one of the tables by the front window. The place was crowded with shoppers, but my ex-boyfriend Simon was sitting to the rear of the place and I ignored him until I sat down. I glanced over and saw him smiling at me. I smiled back, more a smile of acknowledgement than of pleasure. I turned to look out of the window, but I was aware he would probably come and sit with me. If he did I knew I wouldn't send him away this time. Time had healed the bitterness towards him and I could not help feeling curious about what he would have to say to me and how he was getting on with his life in London.
"Hi, Glor. Can I join you?" he said, and without waiting for a reply he sat on the seat opposite me. "It's a bit cold over there for some reason."
"Yeah, it's chilly here as well. It's such a nice day as well; weird." I felt a little uneasy, although I didn't really want his company, I could not help thinking that he still looked very smart in his army uniform.
"It's a long time since we've spoken to each other," he said. "Why didn't you answer my letters?"
"Yeah, I heard you were courting strong now."
"I am, and I'm getting engaged next week," I said proudly.
"Well you just beat me; I'm getting engaged in July. There's no holds barred once you're engaged, he's a lucky man having you." He lowered his voice slightly. "I always hoped it would be me with you on your first time."
"Getting engaged doesn't mean that you have to..." I smiled at Simon realising that his opinion really didn't matter to me anymore. "Oh never mind."
Simon took a photograph out of his wallet and showed it to me. "There she is my little Chelsea tart." I gave a look of disapproval at his lack of respect for the girl. "No, it's, just a bit of fun, like a nickname. I call her Chelsea tart and she calls me Northern stud."
I laughed. "That's nice," I said sarcastically.
Simon took hold of my hand. "It should be you, Glor. You should have given me another chance. We looked good together. Lost it all over a stupid row."
"Oh come on, Simon, we didn't have a row and if we did it wouldn't have been a problem. I could have forgotten about it, and the names you used to call me when you were drunk I could have forgot about as well. But I could never forget you having it away with that dirty little tramp round the back of the pub and all for a Bacardi and Coke, that's all it cost one sodding drink. She was some classy dame wasn't she?"
"It cost me more than a drink; it cost me the nicest girl I've ever been out with." I gave a stern look to show I was not impressed, but I didn't pull my hand away from his. His hand felt familiar and I thought of all the times we had held hands; the times when he had been loving, gentle, and sweet towards me. If only he had not had the drinking problem, things may have worked out differently. "Look, Gloria, you were young, and I was frustrated that was all. You don't know what it's like being a young man, getting urges."
I heard the familiar sound of Gordy's motorcycle. I eased back a little, partly concealing myself behind a window frame as I looked out, hoping Gordy wouldn't be stopping, but he rode on past and I assumed he had not seen me. I suddenly thought of Ellis and how he was now the love in my life. What if Gordy had walked in and seen me with Simon. There is no doubt he would have told Ellis; he wouldn't be able to stop himself. This meeting was not worth the risk of upsetting Ellis. "Look, I've got to go," I said.
A young girl got up to leave. She was one of Evelyn's school friends and she said "Hello," to me as she passed. I gave a smile back out of courtesy, but I didn't speak to her and I pulled my hand away from Simon's.
Ellis called for me just after seven, but I was not quite ready and he sat in the kitchen waiting.
My sister walked into the room in front of me grinning and pleased with her work. I was also pleased because she had done a job on my make-up any professional would be proud of. I followed her into the room in a red Chinese-style dress and a pair of red stiletto sandals. "Well, how do I look?" I said confidently."
"You look superb, absolutely gorgeous," Ellis remarked.
"I didn't know if you would like the dress, it's real silk you know, cost a fortune. I only got it in town this afternoon."
"Were you in town on your own then?"
"I was yes, Evelyn had other things to do."
"No I didn't. You buggered off without me while I was getting ready."
"Well I didn't know you were going to town, did I?"
"Yes you did, I always go to town on Saturday."
"Are you sure you were on your own?"
"Of course. Why, what's the matter?"
"My motorbike ran out of petrol on the way home from work and I had to get the bus to the petrol station. I overheard two young girls talking about a soldier and a girl holding hands in The Coffee Bar and they mentioned the girl's name as Gloria."
"Coincidence," I said. "I haven't seen Simon in months." I regretted saying it as soon as the words left my mouth. Why did I lie, after all, I had done nothing wrong up to that point, but by telling him a lie it would look suspicious if he found out.
"Probably another Gloria then," he said. "Come on we'd better get a move on."
"It's not that far to the party. You don't mind if I walk up, do you? It'll be a bit tricky trying to get on your bike with this dress on."
"Of course I don't mind. I'll ride slowly alongside you, proud as Punch."
"Pleased, it's pleased as Punch."
"Yeah, that an'all."
Gordy and his friends were already at the party busily disposing of the alcohol when we got there. Gordy had brought Brenda along, continuing to take advantage of the infatuation she had towards him. Ellis took a bottle of Martini over to the hostess and chatted to her while she mixed him some drinks. I remained in the living room and looked around, acknowledging people that I knew. I made eye contact with Gordy and he smiled and walked over to me. "You look absolutely gorgeous tonight, Gloria."
"Thank you," I said, trying not to look too enthusiastic about his compliment even though it made me feel good.
"No I mean it, you look really horny. When I saw you walking in I felt all the blood rushing to my groin and I got this stirring in my underpants. I had to adjust myself or people might have thought I was a coat hook."
"There's really no need for that sort of talk, is there, Gordy?"
"Well that's the sort of bloke I am, always telling the truth."
"Tell me, what do they call a male whore anyway?"
Gordy gave a laugh before answering. "They call me Gordy." He laughed again. "Well, I'd better get off and find Brenda just in case someone's shagging her."
"She's not that sort of girl Gordy and you know it."
"Well what's she doing with me then?"
"That's what I can't understand either." I watched Gordy as he walked off, wondering again if Brenda was aware of what sort of person she was getting involved with. I thought by the way Gordy had spoken, he had maybe turned from a rat into a pig. Then I wondered what pigs had ever done to me to make me liken him to them. Perhaps he was more like a rabbit, a rabbit with a permanent erection trying to service as many young does as he could before he dropped dead. I knew I should not be having such wicked thoughts and I looked away from Gordy and continued trying to spot people I knew. I saw Ellis walking over with the drinks and I smiled at the hostess who had walked in the room with him. There was quite a crowd in the house and I was expecting it to be a good party, but the hostess was looking a bit worried and I hoped that the rowdy ones would not cause any damage. But I thought too soon.