More bad news for Gloria.
Chapter 29Early Monday evening, Gloria was sitting on a bench in her front garden listening to her transistor radio. She had secretly started on some arrangements about her future and was trying to gain the courage to go to Ellis's house to talk to him about them. She was thoroughly depressed, worrying about her father and badly missing the support that she wanted from Ellis. She heard an approaching motorcycle and knew by the sound of the engine that it was Gordy. He pulled up and walked to her front gate. Gloria looked at him and then got up and began walking towards her front door, but Gordy rushed across and grabbed her arm before she could get inside.
She wrenched her arm away and stared at him. "You're all I sodding need, just when I thought things couldn't get any worse."
"You've heard then?"
"Don't you speak to me, just go away. I hate you, Gordy; I really hate you for what you did to me."
"I told you the other night; I didn't mean to leave you there."
"Oh yeah, you just rode off and forgot that I wasn't on the back."
"If that copper had pulled me with no tax, no insurance and no licence, as well as being drunk in charge, they would have locked me up and thrown away the key."
"Well, that might not be such a bad thing, and why the heck did you leave me there in the first place? That was a really nasty thing to do, even for a low life slug like you."
"Don't talk like that, we grew up together, we're mates."
"You make me sick, just go away."
"No listen, Glor, there's something down them woods, they reckon it's haunted. All right I take a few liberties, but I would never dream of leaving you there. Something seemed to be controlling me, some force making me leave you."
"Yeah ghosts and goblins. Nice try, Gordy, now sod off." Gloria thought of the things that had happened to her in the woods, the sights, the sounds and the strange behaviour of the woodland creatures; were there really ghosts down there or had it just been her imagination. She dismissed the thought, walked into her house and was about to close the door on Gordy.
"You don't know, do you? You don't know what's happened?"
"Gordy, if it's anything to do with you then I don't want to know. If I never ever see you in my life again, I will have missed nothing." She looked away from him and slammed the door.
Gordy shouted towards the closed door. "Ellis could have died, you know. Some people are saying that it wasn't an accident, that he deliberately crashed his motorbike because he was depressed at splitting up with you." Gordy stood looking at the door. He didn't have to wait long before Gloria opened it again.
"What the heck are you talking about?"
"That's why I'm here, Gloria. I didn't just come here to be abused. Ellis crashed his bike on Saturday night. He was taken to hospital in a bad way, smashed all his face up."
"Oh my God, no! Where is he? What hospital?" She said, full of panic.
"He's at home now. I went to see him this morning."
"Why the heck didn't you let me know?"
"I'm here now, ain't I? Come on I'll drop you off." He gave a smile. "See I'm not all bad, am I?"
* * * * *
Ellis was sitting on a sofa at home resting. He heard Gordy's motorcycle and remembered when he had called earlier, teasing him, saying he would come back with a camera for some monster shots to show the lads. Ellis took his remarks in good fun and although he was depressed about the loss of his front teeth, he knew that vanity was not his only problem. His bike was wrecked and would cost a fortune to repair. He thought that it might be cheaper to buy another one, but he had not even finished paying for that one. Then he would lose money for being off work and the police had said that he might have to pay for the ambulance. Worst of all he had seen the state of his face in the mirror and he wondered if he had any chance of ever getting back with Gloria.
"Ellis," his mother shouted. "You've got a visitor."
He was expecting Gordy with his camera, but he heard the motorcycle pulling away just before the living room door opened.
"Oh dear, you have made a mess of yourself."
"Gloria!" Ellis sat up straight, buttoned his shirt and ran his hand across his hair in a subconscious attempt to look better. "Oh, Glor, it's so good to see you."
"Don't call me Glor." She took hold of his hand as she sat beside him. "We've been a bit silly, Ellis, haven't we? Gordy came round to see me and when he told me that you'd had an accident I almost died." She sniffled as the first teardrop began to trickle down her cheek. "Look at your poor face. Oh, Ellis, Gordy told me that I might be to blame for the accident, he said it might have been my fault. Please tell me the truth, was the accident because of me?"
"Of course it wasn't. A bloody squirrel darted out in front of me and when I swerved to miss it, I came off." He put an arm around her. "Please don't cry."
Gloria wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry, I'll be all right. It's just that I love you so much, Ellis, I really do."
"What even with my front teeth missing?"
"Well at least you can't bite me." Gloria gave a laugh before continuing. "Anyway, Gordy exaggerated a bit as usual, you don't look half as bad as I was expecting."
"Gordy tends to alter the truth a lot, but he's a good mate, I'm lucky I've got a friend like him."
"Yeah." Gloria stared at his face. "A few false teeth and whip out the stitches and no one will notice the difference in a week or so."
"Let's hope so. I have been trying to see you, Gloria; I called round your house a couple of times."
"I know. To be honest I was a bit surprised when my sister told me you were necking with her."
"But it was..." Ellis stopped himself from mentioning her sister's name. He knew how close the sisters were and he thought it best not to lay all the blame on Evelyn. "We were not going out with each other then, and…"
"It's all right. She was only testing you, see what sort of kisser you were, or so she said, and at least you didn't follow her in the house."
"She took a risk there, inviting people in."
"I think she was quite safe with you, anyway, my mum was in the kitchen."
Ellis took hold of her hand. "So can we carry on as before, before my stupid accusations that is? I'd really like us to get engaged if you still want to. We can give it a couple of weeks, hopefully I'll have my teeth done by then."
"I don't want us to get engaged."
"Oh! Well I suppose it's all I deserve after the way I behaved. But..."
She put her free hand up to stop him. "I just want us to get married."
Ellis stared at her, looking mystified.
"Not this Saturday, but the Saturday after."
Ellis was still and silent as if frozen to the spot. There was a look of disbelief and shock on his face and he just stared at her until she continued.
"You don't want to, do you?"
"Don't want to, of course I want to, but bloody hell, as you can imagine it's a bit of a shock. I know that we love each other, but why the sudden rush? What's going on?”
"Ellis, we were going to get engaged and I think we both know in our hearts that one day we'll get married. Two weeks, two years, it will happen. Do you believe that?"
"Yes, yes I do." He brought his other hand over and rested it on hers. "Gloria, you look as if you are about to burst into tears, but it doesn't look like they'd be tears of happiness. Please tell me the truth, what's the matter?"
She pulled one of her hands away and wiped her eyes. "It's my dad, he's dying."
"Oh no. Oh, Gloria, I'm so sorry to hear that."
"I want him to be at my wedding. I'm sorry to put on you like this and I'll understand if you don't want to. I know it's not fair on you and I've no right to ask you like this."
"Fair has nothing to do with it and you've got every right, because you're in love with me and I'm in love with you." Ellis sat forward and took Gloria into his arms. "Like you said, two weeks, two years, it will happen and the sooner the better for me, but let's do it proper." He pulled away from her. "Gloria Dawn, will you marry me?" He started to laugh, but soon stopped. "Will you marry me in two weeks time?"
Gloria gave a laugh as well before answering. "Oh yes, Ellis. Thank you so much." She reached forward and kissed his cheek, but he pulled away from her again.
"Ouch! Watch my face." Gloria laughed again and Ellis grinned back at her, both of them feeling highly emotional, and both of them wiping tears from their eyes. "So we'll have to book the registry office."
"No, we'll get married in the church."
"But I thought you had to give notice, and banns and all that."
"No, I've been to see the vicar and he's gonna sort it all out for us."
"You have been busy; you haven't told my mother have you?"
"No, I'll leave that to you. Do you think she'll be angry?"
"Gloria, she'll be over the moon. Can you go to the kitchen and tell her that I want to speak to her?"
"Just think, it won't be like Blackpool, the next time we spend the night together we'll be married. I'm glad we've never done it, it's something I'm really excited about."
"Yeah," Ellis said, a huge toothless grin on his face. "I can't wait either."
"Oh yes you can, and then when we're married you'll have new avenues to explore." Gloria became flushed. "I didn't mean... oops."
"You rude girl. What a thing to say."
They both laughed as Gloria stood up. "I'll go and get your mum."
Gloria spent the day with Ellis and his mother. Ellis's mother had taken to Gloria the first time that they had met and she was saddened to hear the news about her father. Gloria was relieved as well as overjoyed when the woman gave them her blessing.
She got home early in the evening and her parents and her sister were sitting watching the television. Gloria stood in front of the fireplace waiting until the commercial break came on and then she walked over and turned the television off.
"Oy!" Evelyn yelled. "What do you think you're playing at?"
Gloria turned to face her parents, but ignored her sister's protest. "Mum, Dad, I've something to tell you," but she hesitated and stood looking at them.
"Well come on then, girl, out with it."
"Me and Ellis are getting married."
"Wow, golly gosh." Evelyn started clapping for some reason known only to her.
"Well that's great news dear," her mother said. "Ellis is a lovely boy. We'll start making arrangements for an engagement party for you, when you are ready that is."
"No, Mum, we're getting married the week after next."
Her mother remained silent, slightly stunned, but her father got up from his chair and glared at her. "What!" He said, and then turned his attention to Evelyn. "Get up to your bedroom."
"Just do as you're told."
Evelyn stood up and threw the TV Times onto the floor before walking to the door. "I'm not a bloody child you know."
"And less of your fizzing language, young lady." Evelyn stormed up the stairs, but crept back down again and stood outside the door. Her father looked back at Gloria, coughed, wheezed a few times and then coughed again before speaking, as if he were clearing his chest. "Don't you think, don't you think that this family has got enough of a problem, without you going and getting yourself pregnant?"
Gloria's mouth dropped open. She glanced at her mother before looking back at him. "I'm not pregnant."
"Do you think we're stupid? Have you thought about us? Have you thought about your mother, the gossip and looks she'll have to put up with when you have the baby?"
"I am not pregnant!"
"If you're not pregnant then why are you giving us such a burden at this time?"
"It's not a burden, don't call it a burden." She looked at her mother. "Please, Mum, tell me it's not a burden."
"I don't know, Gloria. I don't understand, you've not known him that long."
"Since I was a little girl, I've dreamed of marrying someone I truly loved and I believe I've found him." She turned to look at her father. "And since I was a little girl I've dreamed about being walked down the aisle of our church, with all our friends and family looking on, and my proud father on my arm walking by my side. I want you there, Dad. I want you to be there with me when I get married."
Gloria was full of emotion and her mother rushed across to her. "Oh, darling, don't get upset."
Her father sat back down in his chair, took out his handkerchief and wiped his eyes. "But there's other people to consider. What about him? What about his parents? What are they to say about all this?"
"Ellis is okay, we love each other, and his parents are really happy that we're doing this."
"Well we need to sit down with his family to talk it over and to make sure."
"That's not a problem, Dad."
"Have you been to the church, have you spoken to the vicar?"
"Yes, it's all being arranged, but he wants to see you."
"Have you told him I'm dying?"
"Don't talk like that, Dad."
"Did you tell him?"
She looked at her mother. "I had to tell him, Mum, I had to. He wouldn't do it otherwise."
"It's okay, love, you did right."
"Yeah, I suppose so; trouble is now he'll be around all the time till I've gone." Evelyn walked into the room with tears flowing down her cheeks. She stood by the door looking at her father, unable to fully take in the words that she had heard. Her father looked over at her. "Come over here and sit down, sweetheart, there's something I have to tell you." Evelyn walked slowly across the room, wiping the tears away with her sleeves and she sat on the arm of her father's chair looking at him, waiting. They heard a car pull up outside, her father leaned over and looked out the window. "It's the fizzing vicar."