This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 754 words.
As expected, Susan agreed to change the day of our date. I didn’t go with working late, as she knew that never happened. I told her that some old bloke was retiring, and I was expected to go to his leaving drink.
There were now three women to consider. Helen, the typist at work, Susan being my actual girlfriend, and Janice. I can be honest now, and say that I never really fancied Janice. Before she started seeing Johnny, she had been around a bit, and it showed. I wouldn’t say she was known to be ‘easy’, but some of the much older boys in the area had definitely sampled her charms.
My anger at Johnny’s attitude to me might seem misplaced, in current thinking. But you have to remember that I was still young, and such things held an importance to me far beyond what they actually represented. We had been the Four Musketeers, and he had considered himself to be the best of us.
And he still did.
Even though he worked a market stall, and his girlfriend had a dubious background. The fact that she wouldn’t go all the way until they got engaged spoke volumes to me. I wonder how many others had promised to do just that, then dumped her when they got what they wanted.
All of this was happening in a very different era. Most kids of that age these days would still be at school, and not really thinking about having a regular girlfriend or boyfriend. They would be playing video games, chatting on mobile phones, thinking about where to go on gap years, and be determined not to get involved with anyone too soon.
For us back then, we were expected to act like adults. Get a job, bring in the money. Settle down with someone, have kids, and repeat the cycle we had observed in our families. And let’s face it, we were keen to do that. Being thought of as immature was one of the worst things that could happen to us. The faster we grew up the better.
Friendships mattered to me too. I had stuck with all of them, only to find that Terry was a clown, Johnny was a big-head, and Keith wanted to be posh. So I reasoned that if that was how it was going to be, then I would get one up on all of them. Hopefully without any of them ever realising. Then I would revel in my secret satisfaction that none of them were better than me, whatever they might have thought.
It was going to be a long process, but I thought it was worth the wait.
Helen was an impulse. She didn’t owe me friendhip, or anything else to be honest. But she had simply irritated me by going on about the wonderful Trev. He was a football fan who had qualified as a lift engineer. He spent his days driving a van around North London fixing or installing lifts. He went out with Irene because he had known her a long time, and because he thought he should have a girlfriend. He would sooner be out drinking beer with his mates, or watching football at Arsenal.
But like the rest of us, he was a product of his background.
Not that I meant him any harm, I didn’t even know him. But if I got my way with Irene, then Trev would have the wake-up call he so badly needed. And Irene would discover that there might be more to life than a lift engineer who lived in the same postal area.
Janice came first, purely by chance. I jumped off a slow-moving bus on my way home from work that Wednesday, and almost knocked her over as she walked along the pavement. Whe she saw it was me, she softened. “I was just about to have a right go at you. Just as well it was you, Danny”. I walked along with her, even though it was the wrong direction. I asked her how Johnny was, casually conversational.
“I hardly see him these days, Danny. Once a week if I’m lucky. If he’s not on his stall, he’s out with his dad buying stock. I’m starting to think he takes me for granted, I really am”. It was like taking candy from a baby. I suggested we go and have something to eat at the Wimpy Bar, then a drink after. Her eyes lit up.
“Yeah, why not? That would be lovely”.