Gordon Ferris is a Ballyshannon writer, originally from Dublin.
He has had short stories and poetry in A New Ulster, Hidden Channel ezine, The Galway Review and Impspired Magazine.
By Gordon Ferris
There was a slight drizzle as Desi and I left the pub with clouds darkening the tree-lined avenue. You could smell the freshly cut grass as we made our way, talking nonsense, the few pints taking their effect.
Before long we were heading up the path to the double door made of the newly invented unbreakable glass, that on a previous occasion was proven to be very breakable by a patron who didn’t notice the clear transparent door and walked straight through it.
We both made special efforts to straighten up as we approached along the curved path from the road to the queue at the door, which was manned by two off duty Garda as bouncers. We chewed cloves to kill the smell of drink, a trick I’d learned from my uncle Ned, a seasoned drinker. The head bouncer flanked by his almost seven-foot-tall right-hand man was stopping everybody asking for Membership. We approached him, he stopped us, “Membership,” he said authoritatively. We produced our well-worn cards, he waved us on, we were in without any commotion. Don’t know why I always expect the worst.
The first place both of us urgently had to go was to the loo. One thing this new drinking experience does is go right through the system like lighting. Relieved and refreshed by water splashed on the face and dried with the roller towel that sticks, the trick is a little tug in the opposite direction to free it.
Out of the loo now I could see our other pals had arrived. They consisted of a group of fellow students from the tech in Finglas, Desi was the exception, he left school at 13 to avoid being expelled. The rest of our group were from the other side of the city, students from Drimnagh. We all met in St Michael’s and become good friends over the years. In all there were about twenty of us, rarely were we all there at the same time. Maybe at Christmas or other holidays when the committee would have a special night. This was one of those nights, the end of term night, last dance till September.
They always had good bands playing, mostly rock music. Tonight’s band were called Alyce, one of the most popular that played there. They played heavy rock music, Deep Purple, Free, Led Zeppelin with a sprinkling of their own songs thrown in. They hadn’t started yet; DJ Dave was playing some tunes and talking gibberish. Nobody understood a word he said except when he introduced the Slow set, these were the only two words that could be understood by the crowd, particularly by the young men in attendance, chauvinist pigs even at that age.
Some of our gang were just inside the entrance to the dance floor, “There they are over there” I said to Desi, pointing to them. “Where, I don’t see them” Desi replied, irritated, he’s always irritated, even when he’s having great crack, He’s irritated. “over there by the door, ya blind fuck, if you’d just wear the glasses you have, you’d see them no problem,” I said. “You must be joking, I’d never attract the women with those prescription yokes on me,” Desi replied in mock seriousness. “Makes no difference, you’re an ugly bastard anyway”. I answered.
This kind of chatter kept going as we walked the twenty or so steps to where our mates were, excusing ourselves to some, and letting others pass us, pushing our way past others who just stood there ignoring us, hate that. Looking down on people as if they were something they had just trod in. I once saw a blind woman excusing herself and being ignored by such a person, he turned aggressively on the poor women when she tapped his shin with her cane, he was mortified when he realised she was blind. If he had more regard for people around him, this wouldn’t have happened. Manners are a light load to carry.
Four of the lads from Finglas and six of the girls from Drimnagh-Crumlin, including the girl I was to meet were there. Anna was the girl’s name; she was engrossed in excited chatter with her pals and didn’t notice us at first.
I was always surprised by her being interested in me, always felt as if I wasn’t good enough for her. She was so beautiful in my eyes. The fact now that her face lit up when she caught sight of me and headed instantly in my direction, leaving her friend talking to herself, amazed me.
As she approached me getting closer, I could get the whiff of her distinctive scent. I could almost feel the touch of her hair before she was in my radius. She wore a thigh-length dress made from a cheesecloth type of material, flowery lilac in colour suggesting a lavender fragrance. She reached me, we embraced, her arms around my waist, kissing me softly, whispering how she had missed me, I told her blushing how I missed her too and had her in my thoughts all week. It’s strange the effect she had on me.
I always was shy with girls, had to plan what I was going to say to them, build up the courage to make an approach and talk, I don’t know how many times I would take that approach, and keep walking past, or made the embarrassing retreat with the words stuck in my mouth. I have a slight speech impediment when I get nervous, which made it harder.
With Anna, there were no nerves, we just seemed to fit together easily. Conversation seemed to come naturally to us, we made each other laugh, liked the same things. We could talk of our secret passions like poetry, art, things our other friends had no interest in, some even sneered at such interests.
We also had similar taste in music. As soon as the band started we were out there going mad, not dancing just reacting to the music until we had to fall in chairs at the side of the floor from exhaustion, getting our breath back and starting again. I suppose that is one definition of dancing, maybe. This is exactly what happened as soon as the band started.
When the bands set was finished, we sat down and we kissed. We spoke of family, exams, how we felt out of place, different to our peers because we didn’t need to get drunk or cause hurt to other people. All this spaced out with interludes of embrace and kissing passionately. We talked nonsense of how our parents didn’t understand us, two generations vastly different from each other with big changes taking place in every way.
The night was over too quick; it was time for me to walk Anna out for her lift home. She was to be collected by the minibus or her dad, mostly it was the minibus. Occasionally her Dad turned up un-expected to pick her and her friends. The cloakroom had a few people gathering forming a queue. Anna had her coat to collect, I had none, just a denim jacket which I was wearing. She leaned into me as we queued.
“What are you doing tomorrow, we’re going into town for a ramble around, might go to the dandelion market to see what it’s all about, I was never there, were you?” She asked me.
“Ye I was there a few times.” I lied.
Why do I have to lie about such silly things? What difference does it make if I have never been there?
“I can be there, what time,” I added.
“We plan to go around ten so we’ll be there around eleven, is that all right, will your Mammy have you breakfasted and your hair combed by then.” She joked.
She was always slagging me about being a typical Irishman.
“You boys can do nothing for yourselves.” She would say.
“This attitude you have is because you’re the only girl in your family. While I, on the other hand, have three sisters and three brothers, three older and three younger, right in the middle the hinge in my family.” I said.
“Yes I’ll be there before you arrive with your hair undone, after rushing to get the bus, your mates gone on before you.” She said, referring to the last time we met when I was dead late. “That was just a once-off “I replied.
“Sure we only met up twice so far this summer.” She said as I handed in the ticket for her jacket.
I retrieved her fur-lined denim jacket. “A once-off” she remarked mimicking my accent, or so she was told when she bought it in O Conner’s of Capel Street. I called it her badger jacket and got a dig in the ribs for my trouble. I held the jacket for her, touching her soft silken hair with the back of my fingers as she slipped her arms into it. Her aroma surrounded me as we walked towards the exit, I loved her scent, it reminded me of lilacs and roses. Somehow Anna’s essence always ushered in a light purple colour in my head. I always seem to do crazy things like this, associating colours with scents, or colour with sound.
Out now into the cool eyes wide open night air, just what we needed after the hectic sweaty night of frantic jumping around, I’ll call it that because it certainly wasn’t dancing. Anna moved closer to me as we walked down the path I put my arm around her shoulders. There was great heat from her fur coat, I was thinking to myself how we seemed to fit together, like two parts of a jigsaw. Even more so when she slipped her arm under my denim jacket, I could feel her slender body under her soft dress press into my ribcage, her fingers caressed my body through my t-shirt. We eventually got to the front gate not noticing the hustle and bustle of people leaving, some in groups of girls or boys, some couples, at arm’s length or holding hands. There were a few skinheads hanging around at the gate, they gave us dirty looks but said nothing. We walked on towards the next corner to be alone. We had a half hour to spare. Against a three-foot-high wall with a ten-foot hedge growing above it, we settled and embraced, me half sitting on the wall.
I loved the way her soft perfumed hair brushed against my cheek as she leaned in against me. I noticed how we were about the same height. I wondered if this was how I imagined my romantic life was to play out based the images created in films, stories and poetry that formed in my head.
I was about to say something, she stopped me with her index finger to my lips, moving her head in to kiss me passionately, our tongues entwined like snakes wriggling in a pit of pleasure. I moved my hands up to caress the back of her head, the fingers of both hands moving through her long blonde flowing silken hair. We moved apart, just enough to talk, both speaking at the same time, I could feel my cheeks blush. “You’re embarrassed, you mustn’t be used to close contact.”
She said with a gentle smile.
“I am a bit, not so used to close contact, why don’t we practice some more” I said. Kissing her neck.
She responded by moving her body in tight to mine, getting me excited. I caressed her back and moved my hands all over her, resting one hand on the base of her spine, while moving the other hand inside her jacket feeling the outline of her smooth body under the soft blouse she wore. We pressed our bodies together, getting more carried away, but as soon as I put my hand on her breast, she pulled away, saying.
“That’s far enough, for now anyway, let’s not get carried away “Kissing me now gently, “You don’t mind, do you” she said softly.
“No, don’t know what I was thinking. What could we have done here anyway “I said pointing to the hedge and houses around us.
“Yeah, and I have to be going, my lift will be here soon,” She said as we pulled apart and headed slowly back towards the gate of St Michaels.
“I hope you’re not too upset.” She said, cuddling into me as we walked.
“Not at all, I thought you were annoyed with me for trying it on,” I said in reply.
We reached the gates and sure enough, her dad was there, sitting in the driving seat of his red Cortina. We pulled apart, I was hoping he didn’t notice our being wrapped up in each other. When he caught sight of us, he stuck his head out the window, shouted in a thick, mock posh Dublin accent.
“Who Is this young man then, aren’t you going to introduce me. “
No avoiding this I thought, so I headed straight to him, hand outstretched to shake his gigantic hand, more like a ham than a hand.
“I’m so glad to make you acquaintance, Sir,” I Said, as nervous as fuck.
“I hope you’ve been treating my little girl with respect young man.” He said, trying and succeeding to be intimidating.
“Oh for sure, your little girl wouldn’t let me away with anything, she has some left hook on her.”
I had said without thinking, words gone before I could retrieve them. Hope he didn’t pick that up the wrong way ‘I thought to myself.
To make matters worse, when Anna was saying goodnight to me, she put her arms around me and kissed me full on the lips in plain view of him, “Ten in the morning don’t forget “She said, getting into the car. I could feel his dagger-like eyes digging into me, mouth wide open in shock. She got into the car and blew me a kiss from the seat, a sarcastic smile on her face. I was left standing there, stunned.
Desi appeared from nowhere, suddenly standing beside me, no visible approach from any direction, just materialised from empty space.
“Where the fuck did you come from,” I said to him, amazed.
” Sure, you’d notice nothing around you with your wan ating the face of ya, I could have got off a space ship and you wouldn’t notice, are you ready now or what,” he said.
The red Cortina was departing, I waved to Anna noticing her dad’s eyes glancing menacingly in my direction.