This is the seventh part of a fiction serial, in 756 words.
Things didn’t work out as I had expected with Janice. She was happy to eat a Wimpy cheeseburger and chips, then drink two vodka and limes in the pub after. But when I said I would walk her home, she was prepared with her answer. “That’s okay, Danny. Thanks for the dinner and drinks, but you live in the opposite direction. I’m only a couple of minutes from home, and it’s not that late. I’ll be alright. We should do this again sometime though, it was nice”. Then she kissed me on the cheek and walked away without looking back.
Unconvinced, I still felt sure she was interested. But lots of people we knew might have seen us in the Wimpy or the pub, so she was probably worried about someone telling Johnny before she had a chance to concoct a story. Janice could wait.
My Friday night date with Helen didn’t go that well either. She seemed keen enough in the pub, and expected me to see her home all the way to Islington. But when we got close to where she lived, she pulled me into an alleyway between two houses. “Better not come all the way. My mum loves Trev, and is friends with his mum. She wouldn’t be pleased if she saw me with you. It’s been nice though. Maybe we could do this again when she goes to my aunt’s caravan? I’ll be in the house alone then”. She sealed the offer with some snogging that took my breath away.
It was a long haul home after that, but I was happy with the promise of more to come once her mum had her holiday.
When I went out with Susan on the Saturday, I had to have a story ready about the leaving drink. Naturally, I told her I was bored to tears. Everyone had been at least forty, and of course I would much rather have been out with her. She seemed to accept the lie, as when we were in the cinema we only saw about ten minutes of the film, with her snogging me like a maniac in the back row. Back at her place later, her mum had stayed up late to make sure there was no hanky-panky. She made me a ham sandwich and gave me a cup of tea, but there was no chance she was going to leave us alone together.
On Sunday afternoon, I was sitting on my bed reading when my mum came to tell me that Johnny was downstairs. I hadn’t even heard the knock on the door. I said to tell him to come up, but when he walked in the bedroom, he had a face like thunder. I knew immediately that someone had told him about me and Janice. What I didn’t know until later was that it was Janice who had told him. He couldn’t shout, but his soft voice was very threatening.
“Honestly Danny, I could slap you. What are you doing up the pub with my bird? I mean to say, we are The Four Musketeers, we don’t mess around with each other’s birds, do we?” I knew better than to deny it, so just shrugged. I said how I had bumped into her getting off the bus. I was on my way to the Wimpy Bar, and it seemed to be the decent thing to ask her to join me. He shook his head. “That’s not how she tells it. She reckons you followed her along the street asking her to go to the pub. She said no, but you kept on. So she agreed to go to the Wimpy, then you pestered her to go on to The Anchor. That’s how she tells it”.
The advantage on my side was that Johhny was well aware of Janice’s past. Even as he raged at me, I knew instinctively that he didn’t believe her. So I told him that she was trying to make him jealous. It was just a burger and two drinks with my mate’s girlfriend. I didn’t touch her, didn’t even walk her home. He knew he had overdone it, but his pride kept him going. “Well I have to take her side, you know that. But what you say sounds fair too. Let’s leave it at that, but don’t try it on with her again, or there will be trouble”.
After he had gone, I went back to my book.
But I was going to have to have a word with Janice.