Kenny returns from National Service and takes an interest in Judy. Retro fiction.
Locksford, Cheshire. 1961.
Lynn and Kathy remained best of friends through their early years. They were thirteen when they arranged a double date with two grammar-school boys. They often chatted with the boys on the bus but this was the first time they had met out of school times. After meeting at the bus terminus they walked to the Coffee Bar in town, a popular place for the local teenagers.
When they sat at a table the owner walked over to get their order.
"Four bottles of 7up," one of the boys said.
"No," Lynn said. "I don't want fizzy pop, I'll have a coffee."
"Water or milky?"
"Err, I'll have a milky coffee, please."
Kathy gave Lynn a look of surprise. Lynn had never ordered coffee before, so it must be for show as if she were trying to impress the grammar-school boys.
The drinks arrived and the two couples chatted for a while. Lynn lifted the coffee to her mouth but because the coffee was made with all milk, a skin had formed on the top. When the slimy milk skin went into her mouth she panicked and spat the lot out into the aisle, causing a great deal of laughter from the other teenagers in the coffee bar. But not from the grammar-school boys who made excuses and left.
"So, that went well then," Kathy said.
"I couldn't help it. It was horrible."
"Our first potential boyfriends, but they'll never ask us out again."
"I'm sorry, Kathy."
"It doesn't matter. I didn't like them that much anyway and your one had loads of spots."
"No, that was your one."
"Oh, no it wasn't, Lynn. Bloody snobs anyway, they were the only ones in here who didn't laugh."
Lynn suddenly jumped up and dashed out of the Coffee Bar.
Kathy stood up and followed her, although she didn't know why Lynn had rushed out without a word.
"Kenny!" Lynn called along the street.
Kenny turned and walked back. "Well, look at you."
"It's so good to see you, Kenny. We have all missed you so much. Have you finished with the army? Have you been to see my dad? Will you...
"Whoa, hold up. It's good to see you as well." He looked at her friend standing quietly next to her. "And this is your friend Kathy isn't it?" His recognition caused Kathy to smile and blush. "Anyway, I finished my national service last week and I've got a couple of rooms at Meadowview. I've not had time to see your dad yet but I'll call in one day in the week. I can't stop, I've got a job interview at the foundry but it's great seeing you." He gave Lynn a hug before walking off.
"I think I fancy your friend, Kenny," Kathy said.
"You can't go out with him. He's about twenty. Your dad would go mad."
"No, I wouldn't go out with him. I just fancy him. Why can't lads our age be like him?"
Lynn gave her a sideways look. "Maybe you should stop drinking that fizzy pop."
* * * * *
The following Saturday, Kenny walked into the dance studio. He noticed some new faces and it looked as if some of the old regulars had left.
Tommy saw him and walked over. "Hello, Kenny, on leave again?"
"No, I'm out now, de-mobbed. Penny's not in. Is she on holiday or something?"
"She's not been here for ages. She got married."
"Married! I didn't think she would get married, not just now anyway."
"Oh! Well, she was getting on a bit, I suppose. Pity though. So who is that jiving with Stan the dance instructor?"
"That's Judy, she's from Barfield. She's a good dancer but will only dance with a few of us. Once you've been here a few times and she gets to know you, you'll be all right with her."
Kenny looked at Tommy and shook his head while giving out a grin. "Well, Tommy lad, I went to see Martyn today and he said you had quit the gym."
"I was there for a while after you went into the army but it was not the same without you there."
"What! Was you getting bullied or something?"
Tommy gave a laugh. "I don't think so, Kenny."
Kenny was noticeably taking an interest in Judy and the conversation stopped briefly.
"I can try and fix you up for a dance with her if you like?"
"No, you're all right, Tommy lad. Anyway, I'm starting at the gym next week. Martyn said that he can get me a fight in Manchester in a couple of weeks. It would be great to have you back at the gym as well."
"Of course, it'll be like old times. But you won't be ready for a fight; you've been out of training for two years."
"Tommy, I was the regiment and battalion light-heavyweight champion and nearly won the joint services tournament. Cor, that did me a lot of favours I can tell you, I was like a bit of a celebrity." Kenny noticed Judy at the tea bar with a bottle of Coca-Cola. "I'll see you in a bit, Tommy lad." He walked to the tea bar and smiled at Judy. "If you put that drink down you can have a dance with me, Judy."
"Oh, can I really? And how did you know my name, new boy?"
"Tommy, he's a friend of mine."
"He's a friend of mine as well, a bloody good friend an' all. But I don't know you, do I?"
One of the girl students was passing. "Hello, Kenny," she said. "Good to see you back and you still owe me a dance." She glanced at Judy. "Later will do."
Kenny laughed as she walked away. "You've got a bloody good memory, Rachel." She turned her head and grinned at him but carried on walking.
"Oh, so you are Kenny. I've heard a lot about you. You were supposed to be a terrific dancer."
"Still am and if you stick with me you will be too."
Judy gave a laugh. "Bit of a big head aren't you?"
Stan, the dance instructor walked over. "Hello, Kenny, good to see you back. Judy, are you ready for another dance?"
Kenny looked at him. "Piss off, Stan."
"Oh, okay. Maybe later then, Judy." Stan gave a laugh, shook his head, and walked off to find another partner.
"You want to be careful," Judy said. "He's a bit of a tough guy."
Kenny glanced at him and then looked back at Judy. "He's a mouse. Do you want to dance with me, or do you want to dance with a mouse?"
"I wonder if you are as good as you seem to think you are?"
"I wonder if you are good enough to keep up with me, Jude?
"My name is Judy, don't call me Jude."
"Very funny, Kenneth."
"Don't call me Kenneth, I don't like it."
"Well, don't bloody call me Jude."
Kenny started to laugh and Judy just grinned. "Right then," Kenny said. "In the words of Yul Bryner, shall we dance?"
* * * * *
Kenny and Judy hit it off right from the start. They developed their dance moves together over time and became a very popular couple at the dance studio.
As their relationship developed Kenny often called at Judy's family home in Barfield.
One night, Judy's brother Steve came home with blood down the front of his shirt. "What the hell's happened to you?" Judy yelled.
"It's nothing. Someone was having a go at me so we had a fight but he must have had some training and I came off worst, but only just."
Kenny looked at the state he was in and shook his head. "Maybe you should join our boxing club?"
"Locksford, that's too far away."
Judy looked at Kenny. "You could teach him some moves here?"
Kenny laughed. "It's not dancing lessons Judy, although maybe...."
"I can look after myself."
"Yeah, it looks like it," Kenny said. "Look, I can train you a couple of nights a week if you like."
"I suppose, I wouldn't mind that."
Kenny jumped up. "Come on let's have a spar." After a few minutes, Kenny sat back down on the sofa. "No wonder you got beat up. You have no co-ordination and not enough aggression. But that's all fixable. A couple of weeks' training and I'm sure you'll be a more formidable opponent."
"Yes," Judy said. "But that doesn't mean you can start throwing your weight around, you do need to calm down a bit as well." She put her coat on." Enough about fighting," she said. "Come on, Kenny, let's walk down to The Black Swan. That singing cowboy is on tonight. Do you want to get cleaned up, Steve, and meet us there?"
"No thanks. Singing cowboy, not really my scene."