Brian gets a bit out of his comfort zone.
Chapter 1I stood looking around the main hall of The Labour Club feeling more than a bit apprehensive. This is, after all, a working men's club and not like the dances which I'm used to at the youth club. A lot of the people here are middle-aged or elderly and I think some of them might know my parents.
My friend, Tommy, was looking out at the dance floor towards two girls he had been trying to dance with most of the evening. When the two of them began to dance together Tommy turned to me. “Come on, Brian, they’re on their own now,” he said.
I looked over at the two girls. “No, I think I'll leave it, Tommy." Tommy is an older workmate from the locomotive depot where I work. He asked me, or should I say persuaded me, to go to the club with him tonight. I wondered why he hadn't come here with his best friend Badger. I also wondered if it had been such a good idea to join Tommy in his adult social activities. "They're not really my type," I said, "and they're a lot older than me.”
“No, they're not. Amanda's only a couple of years older than you and anyway, she’s a dead cert'. You’ll be all right with her later.”
I looked back over at the girls wondering which one was Amanda but I knew I was not happy to go out with girls like them. The way they looked made me a bit nervous. I wondered if it might be best to leave and go down to meet my friends at the youth club who were sure to be wondering where I was tonight. I needed a believable excuse to get out of the situation, “I'd like to, Tommy, but I can't tonight. I’m on a really early shift in the morning and I'll have to go home and get an early night.”
“Don’t be silly. You’re not scared of her, are you?” Tommy looked at me and gave a short laugh. “Don't tell me she's gonna be your first time.”
“Course not,” I said, but I had to look away as I felt a flush rising in my face. I wanted to walk off but, knowing how persuasive Tommy was, he was not about to let that happen.
"Anyway, I've been planning this for ages," Tommy said, and he called over to the two girls. “Oy, Vivien.”
Planning this for ages; planning what for ages? Planning to have me seduced by a girl with loose morals? Why would he want to plan that?
The girls walked over grinning as if to show they had been teasing Tommy by ignoring him all night. The smaller of the two I found the most attractive but I thought the taller one resembled an Amazon warrior and looked aggressive and intimidating.
“Babysitting tonight, Tommy?” the smaller girl remarked?"
I resented the remark but tried to appear unconcerned.
“You’re a right tease, Viv." Tommy said. "You know I’ve been trying to get a dance with you all night and you kept dancing with the old boys.”
"It all comes to those who wait and besides, the old boys are good fun. You should hear some of the things the randy old sods come out with. Amanda likes ‘em older anyway.”
“Amanda likes them at any age," Tommy said. "As long as there’s a dangler between their legs.”
“So funny, Tommy. You're about as funny as a boil on the bum.” Amanda said, without any sign of a smile.
"Well, I think that's quite funny," he replied. "As long as the boil's on your bum, Amanda."
Amanda ignored him and gave a hostile look towards me. "So, are you still at school then?"
"No, I'm sixteen. I left school a year ago. I work at..."
"Yeah!" She cut me off mid-sentence and looked at Tommy. "Like Viv said, you're babysitting."
I didn't like her attitude or the way she seemed to put me down. I felt uncomfortable by the way she looked. The provocative way in which she was dressed and presented herself was something I was not used to. I wanted to leave and wished I hadn't come here at all. I could ignore Tommy's protests, walk out and go home knowing the youth club would be closing soon. If I did I would look immature and would be sure to get a ribbing from Tommy and probably the lads at work on Monday. Tommy would be sure to exaggerate and tell the lads I ran away from Amanda's advances.
“Let's have a dance,” Tommy said and took hold of Vivien’s hand as he led her out to the dance floor, leaving me standing awkwardly with Amanda.
“Do you, er…” I hesitated as she seemed to stare at me.
“If you ask if I come here often, I'm walking off.”
“No, do you want a dance?” I said.
“Not really, but I suppose I’m stuck with you now.”
We walked out to dance and it was a relief that it was not a close dance, giving me time to perhaps lose my nervousness a little. I noticed her sometimes smiling at the older men and I wondered if she had any interest in me at all.
The music stopped and although it was just a pause it seemed to be longer than it actually was. I stood silent knowing I should be saying something to Amanda but I was lost for words. Amanda filled the pause by laughing at something one of the older men whispered to her. I looked away over towards the small stage as the two guitarists, a drummer, and the lead singer began to perform the last song of the night: their rendition of Crying in the Chapel.
Amanda suddenly pulled me close to her as she began an intimate dance. She forced her ample breasts against me. I felt uncomfortable and I tried to pull away but she held onto me. I didn't know how to react and gave a deep nervous inhale of breath as I tried to pull my upper body away again.
"It’s all right, Brian, you don't have to keep pulling away from me while we're dancing. My tits aren't balloons; they won't burst if you press against them."
Her words further unnerved me. Tits, she said tits to me. What sort of girl says that to a boy she's just met? Amanda is in a different league to the girls I usually date. I only ever date nice girls, playing rounders girls, kissing, holding hands, and going to the pictures girls.
The dance finished and we followed Tommy and Vivien from the dance floor. I was swaying a little as I started to feel the effects of the two pints of beer Tommy had illegally smuggled over for me during the evening. I felt an urge to take hold of Amanda’s hand and when I did I thought I could feel her pulse although I was not sure it was not my own as my heart thumped in my chest. Her hand felt soft and cool but I was far from cool myself and my face glowed in the knowledge my life was taking a new direction. Amanda soon broke our hand contact as if it were suddenly un-trendy to hold hands in public.
“Can I walk you home?” I muttered.
“I’m not going home yet, you idiot, it’s only half-past ten. I’m eighteen, not fourteen.”
I felt as if Amanda was talking down to me again, but I let the thought pass.
We left the hall and I felt a little anxious whilst still trying to show a relaxed attitude. Would we be going to the park? I’d heard the stories of what some couples get up to in the park at night. Was this it? Was this the time when I would be thrust into adulthood and with a girl like Amanda? The man in me would be happy with that, but the young boy was not so sure. “What are we doing now?” I said. “Shall we call at The Coffee Bar?”
"No, they’ll be kicking out soon,” Tommy said. “Let's go down to the railway sidings for a bit."
"What for?" I asked, wondering why Tommy wanted to mess about around the railway sidings when we had the girls with us. People only went there at night to steal from the trucks. Not a very romantic place to take the girls and even the park seemed a better option.
Tommy glanced back at me. “Just told you. We’ll go down the sidings, for a bit." Tommy and the girls laughed at his innuendo. I wondered if Tommy were just having a joke with me, or was I about to get involved in something I felt I wasn't ready for. Tommy walked off with his arm around Vivien's shoulder. Amanda and I followed behind and copying Tommy, I put my arm around Amanda, relieved that she showed no protest.
We arrived at the sidings and climbed through a hole in the fence. We crossed over some railway tracks and began walking in the semi-darkness between two rows of goods wagons.
“Should’ve gone to the park,” Amanda said. "Can’t see where I’m treading and if I trip, Tommy, you’re for it. Bit spooky in here anyway and what if someone catches us?"
"We can soon lose them in here," Tommy replied. "We'll just duck under the trucks and go through to the other side. Watch out for the dogs though."
Amanda stopped walking. "What bloody dogs?"
I laughed at Amanda’s sudden fear. "There's no dogs in here," I said, although never having been here before I was not sure if it were true.
“Cor, what did you have to spoil it for?" Tommy said. "We could have kept her worried all night.” He stopped at a guard’s van and helped Vivien up the steps. He climbed up after her and Amanda started to follow them. "No, this is our van. You two can go in that one," he said, pointing to another van further along. “The one with the guard dogs in.”
"So funny, Tommy!" she shouted. "You’re about as funny as a pilchard."
Vivien laughed at her comment and I gave a laugh as well still trying to appear relaxed. I was far from relaxed though as we made our way towards the guard’s van where I would be alone with the promiscuous Amanda. We reached the steps, climbed up to the veranda and walked into the gloomy compartment. Amanda sat in one of the seats and looked out through the small side observation windows as if she were making sure there was no one about.
I stood by the cast iron stove in the middle of the van looking over at her in the near darkness and wondering how I should proceed. "I work on the railway," I blurted out. "I'm a fireman at the locomotive depot. It's a good job, and I get cheap train fares."
"Oh really!. Look, Brian, are we gonna sit here discussing your career, or are we gonna have sex?"
I drew my trembling hands down my cheeks before gripping them together in front of me, realising Amanda was removing her pants. "Bloody hell, I, I didn't think we..."
She fumbled about in her handbag and reached over to hand me a Durex. "Come on, we ain't got all night. I've gotta be home by midnight."
I looked at the contraceptive in my hand, knowing what it was, but having no experience with its use. My shaking hands took off the wrapper while Amanda sat looking over at me. I undid my zip and tried to force the rubber on. It was hopeless and although I felt my mind was willing, nothing else seemed to be.
Amanda got up and walked over towards me. "Let me have a go," she said.
"No, it's all right. I can do it," I muttered while trying to back away from her, but the stove stopped my retreat as I backed against it.
"I can't believe you've never used one of these before." She took the rubber from me and put her hand between my legs. "Great, it's not even nearly there. What bloody use is that, apart from peeing from?"
"It's never happened before. I know I can do it. The time’s not right that’s all," I said. "I’m not ready for all this." I should be able to do it but it was not happening. Arousal had never been a problem, even when in a heavy kissing session with the nice girls, even happening sometimes when it was not wanted.
"You'd best just carry on playing trains," she said angrily. "You're no use to me or any other girl for that matter."
“Hold on a minute,” I said, feeling I should speak up for myself. I had suffered her put-downs long enough, but then I heard Tommy shouting. I looked through the veranda window and saw the beams from two approaching flashlights.
Tommy shouted again. "Quick, Brian, it's the police."
Amanda and I rushed out onto the veranda and scrambled down the steps as the beams from the flashlights got closer. We heard a large dog barking and Amanda sprinted ahead of us more afraid of the dog than stumbling in the dark. We made it back through the hole in the fence and, now we felt safe, began laughing as we set off for the nearby housing estate.
We stopped at the girls' road and stood on the corner chatting for a while before Tommy began kissing Vivien. I knew I should be doing the same and moved forward to kiss Amanda, feeling nervous she might shove me away while making some derogatory remark. It was a relief when she responded, if only briefly, before moving away. I thought this the perfect time to ask her out again. Perhaps if I had time to prepare myself for her brash sexuality things would be different. "Can I see you again?" I asked.
"I don't think so, Mister Softee."
I laughed. "That's not very nice, is it? I've had too much drink that's all and it was cold in that van."
"Or maybe the tool is just not up to the job, eh, Mister Softee?"
"Yeah, or maybe the tool has no interest in an unattractive ole trollop."
I could see the anger rise in Amanda’s face as she stepped forward and gave me a shove. "You cheeky bastard. I've a good mind to give you a slap."
"And you'll get one right back," I said, although I knew I wouldn't do that.
Amanda took a deep breath, almost snarling at me, before looking towards her friend. "Come on, Vivien, I've gotta get home." The girls walked off and were only yards away when they began laughing.
Tommy looked towards them. "What are they laughing at?"
"Blowed if I know," I said, but I thought I did. Although I thought it might be the drink, the cold, or the girl, I wasn't sure why I failed.
We carried on walking. "Did you get it then?" Tommy asked. "Did you have it off with her?"
"Nah, didn't really have time."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I was banging at Vivien like a fiddler’s elbow until those bloody coppers spoilt it." Tommy looked at me with a huge grin on his face. "See, my planning worked. I can't wait to tell Badger, he'll be pig-sick."
"Why would he be bothered?"
"He was carting Vivien out and was having it off with her, but now I am." Tommy looked away and began laughing.
I thought I should laugh with him, but I was far from happy thinking what an embarrassing disaster this evening was. I'll be happy just to date nice girls again from now on, for a while anyway.