JANE GASKELL ~ THE SHINY NARROW GRIN

I

The car cornered like crazy. Got back on at least three wheels again. Slade’s hand came over for her hand, but found her knee instead as the car juddered. She smiled at Slade. But he couldn’t see. The car was in a state of visual negation. Only cats’ eyes on the endless twist of lane tarmac popped on ahead of them. “I’m smiling at you,” she said. “I wish I could see that. Darling smile, I’m sure.” Slade’s hands passed each other on the wheel. The tyres screamed, companionable sound. Headlights ripped towards them. They seemed not to be on the opposite side of the road, but on the same line of tarmac, collision certain. Whoosh in her ears as they passed close and clever. “Narrow lane,” Slade said. “Yeh,” she said not to leave him in his own hesitation. “Suppose I shouldn’t be cornering at 60. So many sharp bends.” “Yeh, it said Deceptive Bends back on the sign,” she said, agreeing again to be cosy. “I’d better give it a rest.” Slade’s boot lost tension on the accelerator. Terry’s mouth pulled down in a grimace she wished he’d seen. “Oh, up to you, isn’t it,” she mumbled. The mumble stung him as the grimace would have. He started to apologise to her, explaining again the danger of the blind speed she’d girlishly requested. Terry wanted to hump her shoulders and yell to give over, she didn’t rate apologies for his choice of pace in his car. “You’re a luv,” she said, and kissed his ear to make up to him for the irritation he didn’t know she’d felt.

Feeling all warm towards her, he opened up again as soon as the road straightened. “Nice?” he yelled at her over the soundswoosh. “Let’s put the hood back.” “Freeze your ears off,” he said, and refused to do it. “You’re so bloody fatherly,” she said, but was pleased. She felt little and cherished because he was guarding her from possible bronchitis or double pneumonia. She snuggled up, bringing her knees into the fold of her arms, and watched the glimmer of his profile. His profile swung at her. Her forehead hit the windscreen. As her body followed, gravity gone, she thought I must be great to watch, concertinaing like a cat in a cartoon. Nobody watching though. Am I hurt, is this blood, are we maimed, shall we die? “Slade are you OK Slade?” she screamed. The sound of machinery conking out in violence covered her scream. Wheels and cogs and batteries and all those things were spinning and grinding. “We’re in the f. . . ing ditch,” said Slade. Cor, he swore, Terry thought poetically. Shows he’s shaken more than anything would, swearing in front of me. The lorry driver who’d pulled out of the invisible sidelane tried to open Slade’s door. The side of the ditch, and the way it had twisted as they crashed, stopped it. “You raving idiot,” Slade yelled at the bloke outside. “Can’t you look before you pull out on a main lane? I’m in smithereens. I warn you, I’ll have you for this.” He was trying to yank open his door. He couldn’t. The lorry driver paused. Slade seemed, at least for now, well trapped. The lorry driver swung up back in his cab. Gears grinding like mad, he drove off. The black night indulged him, received him. “Couldn’t even see the bastard’s number from down here,” grunted Slade, furious. He pulled her against him. “Did he hurt you, little Terry?” “I don’t hurt that easy.” She didn’t bother asking was he hurt. There was no blood gouting about. The creases were still in his trousers.

“God,” Terry said and changed it to “Goodness” because she knew Slade hated ‘blasphemy’ from her. “The windscreen’s all fractured, look, Slade, look.” “I’ve noticed, sweetheart, don’t you worry.” “The car’s a mess. Isn’t it?” she said. “Do you reckon it’ll go again?” “Try your side.” She pushed her door. “It opens--straight into a hedge.” “See if you can squeeze out.” Slade was revving. The tyres were turning and turning like prayer wheels in the mud. “I’ll try to ease her out of the ditch,” Slade said, hoping merely. “Hey-- Terry-don’t try to get out there, the twigs will scratch your eyes out--” The twigs might at that, she thought as she struggled against them. They tore her shirt, stung blood past the skin of her arms. She drew a deep breath as she stood upright in the dark ditch. She loved her father: she was excited every time he turned up to take her out; she got a physical thrill from being driven fast. But she hadn’t realised till now how enclosed she’d felt in the Sunbeam, how stale the air in it had got even with the window down. The air out here was dear, sharp, and the hedge that had just nearly blinded her smelt fresh as green vegetables. He’d had to get used to the fact that she smoked, so she’d been poncing cigs off him all the drive. But she felt the smoke from her own mouth was OK. His was heavier, she realised now she was out of it, not only with tobacco but with all that Take Courage he’d taken. “Terry.” Slade’s voice had ‘authority’ she’d never before been heartless enough to show him she could disobey. “Back in here this instant. Where the hell do you think you’re off to?” “Get help. You can’t even get out. I can’t shoulder you out. My PT isn’t that effective.” “Back in with you. We’ll wait till someone passes, thumb him to--” “I’ll knock up those cottages we passed.” “We passed them minutes before this fiasco. You don’t realise they must be miles behind us. Dangerous bloody lonely unlit country roads--” “See you, Slade.”

“Hey.” Slade tried to struggle out of her door. He was lean, but his shoulders were wide and he wasn’t supple-- agile, she thought with automatic pride, but not twistable like cats and her that could get in and out of anything. Not because she was nervous or cautious, but because it would have pleased Slade if he knew, she walked on the side of the road where she’d be facing oncoming cars, .not have them zipping at her back. She walked leisurely, relaxing, digging her hands in her poncho pockets except she kept remembering she mustn’t drag them baggy. Not one car passed, not one either way. And I’ve been walking a while now, I spose. I’d better start walking backaways now then. As she turned, and the moon sailed behind her, she realised she had two shadows. Identical height (or length), on they trotted before her, indelible on the smoke-violet tarmac. She turned sideways, her heart hooking into her throat. “I’m Jack the Ripper,” he said. “Well, who the heck are you? How long you been beside me?” He shrugged. “Where did you come from?” she insisted, though already more at ease because he was her own age and not huge. “Side of the road? You might have said something, not just let me discover you and get such a shock. You wearing rubber sole sneakers?” “I’m going your way.” “How far?” Terry asked. “Have you seen any cars or anything about? AA boxes or anything? My Dad’s broken down in a ditch.” “What’s wrong with him?” “I mean his car has and he’s sort of-- trapped in,” she said casualmelodramatic. “How far away?” the boy asked. “Oh, I’ll know it when I see it again won’t I. How do I describe a ditch to you? You know this area, do you?” “Not well,” the boy said. “I’m London. And you are, I know.” “You’re a long way from home. Got a car or bike somewhere?” He shook his head. The moon caught light in his bare hair. Wonder ‘is he that

old fashioned arrow-point collar open showing his strong smooth pallid young neck. still he is on a rave. His lip lifted. If he’s after company. “What’s your part of London?” “Brompton Road. “I’m Wesken. he should talk. By Olympia. “You’re ruddy icy. Even out in the wilds of Middlesex you nobble the only spot of talent going. “Feel. They’ve got my Dad out and the car on the road . “My sort gets around. and his teeth glittered too. He had long fingers.” Terry said. only thing his shirt isn’t neat. “just near me.” she said. a vertical dimple like a cleft appeared one side of his mouth.” said Terry. But alone. No move to hit her on the shingle and rob her.” But he didn’t ask where she lived. “Raving? Alone or what? Got any mates hidden under handy hedges?” Again the boy shook his head. dead pale skin but not very spotty. they’d turn emerald.” Terry said again. short tight dark jeans showing his ankles in his soft-soled elastic-side boots Spanish heels dinting the country road. OK then. as far as she could see in this shady moonshine. “Look. Terry thought. If she could get him back to show the girls. Oh. mate. His eyes glittered like he had a temperature. “Collar open and all?” He turned to her to smile for the first time since he’d latched on beside her.” he said. not very tall. “I’m always cold. his lip lifting.” the boy said. she disliked tall boys because they seemed to make it a rule not to dance lively. no tie. but glad of it. he should try and get to know me. up to you. he nodded.” he said.” He put his hand on her neck. But freezing. Bit surprised she wanted to. So she told him. “There’s my Dad’s ditch. “Aren’t you cold?” Terry asked in a wide-eyed voice. and he had good gear. There’s an Anglia drawn up beside. You know. someone came.’ He was all slim and lovely. No move to rape her.” He seemed perfectly willing to talk. he did. He just walked along beside her. ‘Cow Terry. he was a bit of all right mate. “Are you all right?” “I’m always icy. vibrant. I’ll just have to get to know you then. One of those weird types. “Ho. black leather jacket good soft grainy leather with lapels. oh he must be smaller than me with those heels off.blond when you see him in normal light “You’re a long way from home.” Yes. Oh.

” “Yeh--” Terry ran forward. She likes company.” . Terry giggled and giggled till she knew she was putting Slade in a filthy temper. he’d come in for a coffee thank you. he’s guaranteed not a sex maniac?” Slade. “Did you see that feller with me?” “What fellow?” Slade jerked his head to look around in new tension.” “Slade. She was already devoted to individual things about him.” “Homework keep you up?” “You could call it that.but he’s sloped off--” “Just because he’s your age.” said the boy. got the car going as good as new. Shy. I’d no idea how long to wait for you. Slade said. He smelt quite darling. A loner.” Terry hugged him round the chest which was all she could reach when they were both standing. “Don’t fret.” “Kathy.” “That’s nice. then.again. that selfsufficient type. Don’t ever slip off like that again. his jaw tight. He turned all relieved at Terry’s appearance and snapped. She won’t mind. “Into the car at once.” “At 2 in the morning?” “Oh. But the needle stayed on 30. “That is. just my age. *** Yes. He wasn’t in sight. can we give someone a lift?” She got in beside Slade who was thanking the Anglia for the last time. She looked for her Mod. I’m back. I’ve plenty to say to you on the way home. Annoying. “We hardly ever go to bed before 1 anyway. so she’s chuffed when mine turn up. if you’re sure I won’t disturb poor little whatser-name. luv! Good work eh? We back on the road eh?” Slade was lighting a farewell fag for the Anglia driver who’d helped him back on the road. She doesn’t have that many visitors. not a sex maniac or any thing-. “Slade. when she bothered to cuddle up to him and ask in a pretty voice for a cig please luv please. or when to call the police out after you. love you.

Before Slade could stumble over anything. pale yellow hair swinging just above her Viyella nightie shoulders. She sat up. nightie all long sleeves and smocking.” “Any success?” “Quite. “Snakes alive. but you couldn’t see the darns in this dim. “We worked you out quite like you are. doesn’t it?” They got into the room.” “Of course you will. the evil paperbacks. “Sallright. Even the shadows ~nder her eyes looked like a blush.” Kathy said in a just-woke voice like a sleepydove going coo.” Terry ducked her head in genuine confusion and choked on digestive crumbs. and she looked demure and good. the teddy-bear nightie-case out of which spilled Terry’s transparent pyjamas. ‘the Daz roses and Omo daffodils with the toothbrushes in the plastic mug with the . She bought that pinafore specially. She looked rosy under the tinted light bulb. Terry was so thrilled going off to meet you at the Airport. She’d had it since she was twelve. “Do you have to wake the house?” “Gives Kathy warning I’m entering. his eyebrows going up fondly but with care not to grin patronisingly as he noted the Beatles in Edwardian bathing gear over the gas-ring. Terry snapped on the red light. He meant to drink his coffee and munch his digestive biscuit and get away quick and let little Kathy get back to sleep and his own little Terry curl up too and get some of the rest she needed.She juggled the key in the lock in the dingy narrow second floor passage. Terry. “Terry and I talked about nothing but you all this last two months. It was Kathy who wanted to talk.” Slade said amused and shocked. the Beatle calendar.” he said. though. “I’ll have some coffee too. She took hours dressing. Kathy rolled over under her divan blankets. We worked out what you’d be like to the last details.” she demurely stated to Slade over her coffee-cup rim. Fanny Hill leaning against Algebra Grade m. but taking in every detail of Terry’s abode. . She looked nice.old transfer of Donald Duck on it. blinking at them. He looked round. “I’m excited to meet you. “Last thing I wanted was to wake you up. Slade cleared his throat all guilty. un-made for days and twiddled his coffee cup without spilling any.” Slade sat on the extreme edge of Terry’s bed. not talking much. Terry had those old photos of you-” Slade had noticed the blurred images of himself younger sellotaped in pride of place beside Paul McCartney. love.

” said Terry. Mod. I met the most gorgeous boy.“Terry looks like you. And draughty. And take Kathy. It was a lorry. His voice rang too casual. “Mmm?” “You too sleepy to talk?” “Mm. She keeps an eye on us.” “And now you will too. All stars shooting off it under the street-lightings.” Terry said as she snuggled her pillow. and I’ve got the habit. .” Terry said.” “You know Terry’s mother?” Slade looked up in surprise. nothing like you at all. “I’ve met Angela several times-do you mind if I call her Angela? Terry always does. flicking ash in the plaster shell by his foot.” “It’s far from my business what you call Terry’s mother. Bet he’s a fabulous love-biter.” Slade said and kissed Terry and patted her and couldn’t keep the smile off his handsome fortyish features. I went for a walk. “Nothing could keep me away now I’m back under the same sky as my infant. Slade in her at all. “I can never see Mrs. She hid in her coffee. Poor Slade’ll have to buy another. “How often do you see her?” Slade asked conversationally. Won’t you?” Kathy emerged to say. from the hole Slade had to punch to see through.” “When you seeing him again?” . doesn’t she?” Kathy said. Well. “Angela thinks I look like her. Kathy’s eyelashes batted nervously. “You wrote and told me she said you needn’t bother ever seeing her again when you left home. “And she drops in with nourishing carrot-juice and frilly hot-water-bottle covers and things. not when it saw we were too trapped in a hedgey ditch to take its number. Could hardly see through it coming home. it didn’t stop. *** “We had a smashing crash tonight.” Terry took that as a negative. “Windscreen all shattered.” Slade said.” “I go to tea there often. Shiny teeth.

and busily proceeds to sketch Terry’s father for her informant. Miss Sampson was chalking the morning’s geometry theory on the blackboard. she raises her desk-lid so the Beatles sellotaped on its underside face her surreptitiously. who wanted a grubby gymslip behind. They weren’t allowed to sit cross-legged when all the 300 other girls subsided on the boards. She loathed late girls blotting up the school arrival registers. Her trim back was at the class. “Terry was in a crash with her father last night. The tatty bit of paper had been nearly right round the classroom and had come across to Terry. and the elegant sophisticated way she turned one toe in while she intoned the Creed. “Oo. when Sampson’s hand descended and gripped it. crumpling it.” “Have you seen him. Kathy’s mouth is open to speak and automatically she shuts off the sound and lets her mouth hang in a sort of matter-of-fact adenoidal idiocy. All through Prayers the headmistress was obviously aware of them from the side of her eye. They had to wait at the side by the teachers.” Terry breathed silkily back. word wafted almost inaudibly from corner to corner of the class. Unable to describe Slade vocally. “You’re late. There was a gasp in the class throat. “Ugh. What’s he like?” Miss Sampson turns. defeated. Kathy?” Nod from Kathy. with theirs looking bodingly at them over her hymn book. Behind the Sampson back.” Terry said.“Yaah.” Kathy whispered. . They weren’t in time to get in line for Assembly. it never seemed to spatter on what she wore even when she wore black. *** They were late for school next morning. They could see the thick stockings she wore over her incipient varicoses. aren’t you?” purred the girls fore and aft of their desk. No dandruff either. her silhouette hardly distinguishable from the blackboard-no matter how she scratched the chalk. “Do you think if we were near enough the bottom of the platform we could see up to her drawers?” Kathy’s breath just grazed Terry’s earhole. “Terry’s father brought her home late last night after a crash in his white Sunbeam car. her eyes glinting to match the gilt lettering of the book. Down by the platform they could see the head’s legs foreshortened and close to. but so what.

Sampson fury-flushed. “In my class.” Sampson went that turkey-wattle colour again. Sampson turned the drawing. Miss-don’t crumple it.” Terry burst out laughing. That’s enough . She learned that sterile old-spinster sarcasm from her own teacher I spose. is a drawing of your father doing circulating behind the desk-lids in my geometry class?” Audience-titters. Let down is hardly the phrase one uses for an association of this sort. An hour’s detention tonight. “I am aware that you have (rather misguidedly in my opinion) been allowed by your mother to leave home and set up in a room of your own. haven’t you? It’s not my Dad of course. Can’t she think for her little self? “All right. “girls do not repeat not circulate doodles of whoever happens to be the latest teen idol.” “Date!” repeated Sampson who probably wished she had one of her own. “I’ve a date tonight I can’t let down. may I ask. She rapped with her fancy bamboo ruler on the front desk.” she enunciated with Sampsonneat clarity. exactly what you find so amusing?” “The drawing’s my Dad. “It’s Dracula.” “Can’t you make it dinner-time I have to stay in instead?” Terry asked humbly. And what is she. her bra perking out her twinset all triumph. holding it between finger and thumb as though it were pornographic. In all her terms here. “Kindly explain. “Now.” she remarked. “He’s meeting me from school. So what? It needles me the way she does it.said. won’t he?” Miss said sweetly. There is certainly no question of your being unable to let this boy down. Sampson raised her Liz Taylor-pencilled brows. I deserve to be picked on. “Then he’ll just have to wait in suspense.” Sampson stood straighter. Teresa. She plays to the gallery. Teresa.” Terry capitulated. I haven’t seen it. Miss. But this little one really needles me. She always draws titters from the class at the expense of the one she’s picking on.“Oh.” Terry cried. she’d regarded each mistress with the same bored contempt.” “I’ve got no way to get word to him. but I am quite sure your mother has no knowledge that you see boys. Quite suddenly Terry realised she hated this teacher. Teresa.” Terry. “for one hour until I have finished marking my exam reports. “You’ll stay in tonight. only 20-something I spose. “You’ve seen through me. “And what.” Terry said in a small voice.

not a strand out of place. But the prospect of Kathy’s relieving her of Fishfinger was rather a sweet one. If he takes on Kathy. Straight as the zip on Fishfinger’s tangerine jeans. That should use up a few seconds. Imagine Fishfinger kissing me. “You will study your morning’s geometry.0 everybody swung out. And I shan’t have him back.chit-chat. I should care. And pencil in a line more arched. She may have demure true-colour hair. At your usual desk. No. Think I’ll shave my eyebrows right off tomorrow. The last. Wonder if he does offer to to take Kathy out. And his hands of course. Not by the window. One good yawn. Wonder if he’s at the gates now. That’ll use up a good few. she isn’t my standard of looks and I look a right darling beside her. All thought-out technique of course.” Terry said conversationally. instead. and she’s a rotten snogger from what I can make out. The leaves of the scrubby trees in the school yard were turning their silver bellies to the wind. That clock must be crazy. Outside the sky had gone ugly. “Hands off. “And if I see Fishfinger at the gate. “I’ll get supper.” “He’ll never wait.” Terry mooched. But why did I choose her for ‘my best-friend in the first place? Because. now I’m cut off from them. Miss Sampson’s bent head faced Terry from the teacher’s desk. . Neat parting. Nice polite way that boy has of being absolutely insulting. he’ll soon wish he was back with someone like me who’ knows what it’s all about. and much higher. arching. sort of dramatic-swoopy. I’ll tell him you’re slightly detained.” Miss Sampson said. and she’s not a dresser. Teresa. so as to look natural. “Perhaps an hour’s contemplation will show you where you are going wrong. or for a coffee while he waits for me. “Perhaps he’ll take me out instead.” Kathy said. He knows if he’s sort of respectful about it. he’s nice-looking but there are plenty more exactly like him. Teresa. Perhaps now that Teresa’s lovelife has been aired we can get down to a little geometry. her gymslip-seat right off the bench. And he’s welcome to my Kathy. Well-behaved way he has of taking liberties. I’ll laugh at him.” Kathy said. apart from the fact her sole aunt was willing to let her share with me near school.” Terry stretched in her desk. All that thinking I’ve done and I’ve still only been here 4 1/2 minutes? Suddenly Fishfinger’s arms and neck and mouth seem the most languorous fascinating things in West London. she’s got no instinct about dressing. Kathy’s welcome to Fishfinger. And kind of feathery of course.” At 4. please. Wonder if Kathy’s telling him I’ll be an hour in here with my wardress. Can’t stand those old-fashioned thick-darkened brows she must have started doing on herself when she was a promising student-teacher in the ‘50s. you won’t feel you have to protest to show you’re used to respect from fellers. girls were leaving.

” Sampson said ‘levelly’. Can’t even clean my nails or anything. her voice actually shaky. Miss?” “My name is Miss Sampson.” Terry said. well. She clenched her nails in her palms’ as she’d read you have to do so as not to move and alarm any rattle-snakes inching over you when you wake up in the desert.” Sampson said. at the teacher’s stupefaction of extreme outrage. and not dreaming?” Terry instantly snapped the page over.” Terry agreed. Terry made faces. And the whistle of exasperation in Terry’s earholes.” “Miss?” “You haven’t turned the page yet. She squeezed her thighs together in a final fury of boredom. twisting her mouth and crossing her eyes and she double-dared Sampson to look up and be terrified. Her short crimson nails tapped the old incised initialled arrow-hearted inky chalky elbow-slippery wood on which Terry leaned. Are you quite sure you’ re studying.” “Oh. “The headmistress shall hear of this. The yard practically resounded now to the shooshashoosha of the silver leaves. She curled her toes in her mock-croc shoes. “Did you want something. Terry thought savagely. and already her eyes felt fatigued by the intensity of boredom.” Sampson’s voice cut the leaf-storm. She decided to pull up her gymslip under the-desk and yank the suspender round. She came and stood over Terry. She’s not in control of my thoughts too. Fifty screaming-silence minutes to go.Their ever-excited giggles receded.” Terry glanced up. Sampson’s Liz Taylors rose. A quarter-hour detention. Boredom and resentment were boiling into a fever. not to worry. “I suppose it is. . Supposed to be studying. through puffy lids. “Teresa. Teresa. grimacing. In the classroom there were no sounds at all except the scribble of Sampson’s Biro ticking and crossing out and writing snide little marginnotes. Sampson left her desk. The suspender of her girdle was irritating her flesh. “Miss. “Teresa. Things can always change. “what are you dong there?” “Adjusting a suspender.” “Your tone is insolent.

She turned the corner and raced for the bus just about to trundle off. It scraped her backbone through her serge gymslip and Aertex blouse. seen and nobbled. I’m a right nit. chock-full of Fishfinger’s absence. “You on the look-out for that haddock of yours?” Bern asked as for the dozenth time Terry answered Yeh when she was expected to say No. Oh. The sky blew in. laughing. Good thing I can do the splits. “Tereser!” thinned across the yard. almost. Terry threw back her head. She strolled to the window. “ Sampson strode to the door. Terry put her hands under the bottom window-frame.” “I’ll be seeing about it this instant. She lost balance. She considered the window of the next-door classroom. The drainpipe rust powdered off on her hands.“I’m sure you’ll be seeing about that. She crossly requested it to eff off. mad. The classroom smelled of purple wind as well as of chalk and ink and giggly girlish sweat. Terry put one foot on the broad sill. Scrunching herself up. It faced directly into the over-ripe sky like a stew of prunes above the tossed trees. If you get back in the building. Of course he won’t be hanging about in his suit. Shredded nylon mixed in with scraped skin and a sting of blood-ooze. She reached the gateway. The wind was muscular. cor. Behind her a window-squeal. School-dinner sky. Terry ricked her neck to glimpse Fishfinger among the packed dancing heads. a loose button clicking off her cardigan and splishing into an inkwell. She fell the last bit and stumbled into a flowerbed of daffodils. It squealed like a hog or something. my fine young lady. She climbed the two storeys down. No. . wouldn’t it be loverly if he’s still waiting. There are even dollops of rain now. on the sill. Do the thing properly once you’ve started it. . She slammed the door behind her. She wasn’t particularly good at it. you’ll only be caught. There was a cracking tearing mess as the £lowers broke in a minor gold cataclysm. Fishfinger will throw back his shaggy head and laugh at me when I scurry up to him in this state. buffeted by the prune-dark wind. She’d grazed her knee. she was able sinuously to screw herself under the window-frame. *** Down the Cayf. The veins stood out violet in her wrists as she eased it up. And rather audibly locked it. Talk about calculated ruddy insult. Suddenly she wanted Fishfinger violently. exchanging ~ affectionate punches with Bern the bouncer.

rolling his eyes up. into the loo. skipped detention. He was stroking Terry’s knee under the table. Bern?” Terry asked in a pathetic starving voice. The loo was dead silent. Honest. Terry pushed after the girl. and might was right. then?” “I’ve only got tomorrow’s fare. “He’s got himself a bit of all right. Probly be expelled for it. A snide grin oozed across his face. But Terry deftly dropped hot sauce on his wrist and he yelped. Quite Mod really.” “Came straight from your seminary. lovely adorable Bern eh. ordered a spaghetti which looked more like writhing worms but which he got on the house. didya? I dig the navy tunic. “That stuff must be practically transparent-. Just a plate of spaghetti or a little teeny hamburger. we’re like that tonight are we.” she said suddenly. Bern.” Terry said.or rotten-. “Oh. He turned and regarded Terry. “Perhaps he reckons it.” Bern said. but packed to saturation or bursting with females grimly bent on perfection which nobody would see in the candle-dusk outside.“Can you possibly wangle a meal for us. and his hand went up under her pleats when he thought she was fully occupied eating.” Fishfinger felt the stares on the back of his neck.” Terry sniffed. Leaving Bern to guffaw all he liked. . Except for the stew-stains. Girls were shouldered aside in the queue for the 1 mirror. Go on.” Bern. I’m dying of hunger. or rather on the hair flopping over the back of his neck. Fishfinger was entwined pretty close with the dark girl and seemed reluctant to unwind even when she wanted to go and safety-pin together a tear in her white shift which a passing dancer’s charm-bracelet had ripped. Missed supper tonight. avoiding predatory hands. “Haven’t seen her around before. He waved and continued crawling to the beat to which everyone else was Blue Beating and hitch-hiking. “What’s wrong with your money. hasn’t he. through the jukebox serum.to rip like that. “Perhaps he’s playing his get-Terry-jealous game again.” Terry flicked spaghetti into her mouth.” “Yes.” Bern said rapt. “There’s my feller. his fingers catching in her ladder and graze.

Little nit. “You’re with my steady. And I’ve got a broke nose.” “At the moment. She smiled into Terry’s gaze. And at the moment. and victorious. “Here. just to study It was lovely when he-. which were slow with passion. could read any girl like a book so he often said. you giggle husky in your windpipe.There were even girls shoved 1/2-into the grubby basins out of which the water couldn’t seep because combings of back-brushed hair had sogged in the plugholes. nuzzle my ear or run a tickle down my hand. Suddenly Terry felt nauseated. He can gloat and think he’s making me jealous all he ruddy likes. and saw Terry and his eyes flickered. so informative that at one time Terry and Kathy used to come here just because of their thirst for knowledge.” Terry said into her ear.” Terry said. almost as’ though it were natural shadow. There was something about the girl. poison ivy Terry wittily thought.” Terry stared.” the girl said. I’m over 18 and I’m over five foot. “I’m not interested in whether you like him. She was waxily pale. The girl looked up. “I’m interested in whether he likes me. as though she never breathed air outside jazz-cellars.and Girls why not try--? Momentarily. Fishfinger opened his eyes. There was a yellowish rim around her eyes and the eyeliner outside that had smudged. he’s my steady. Bern. no sounds at all except the steady scrape of back-brushing. She looked troglodytic. Terry lost the dark girl in white. holding Terry at arm’s length with one hand and continuing to caress her with the other. Terry amazed Bern by quite suddenly beginning to flirt with him physically as well as verbally. But back in the candle-hazy alcove where Fishfinger was only just visible leaning’ back eyes closed while the girl clung on him like a creeper.” . “Every time I say something even I don’t think is all that witty. Determined to prove she wasn’t jealous.” she said. Then she located her in a corner quietly pinning her rent. pat my arm playful. punctuated by the occasional squirt of a deodorant or a hate-sharp Doyoumind from a girl pressed against a wall. Her eyes stared totally un-blinking. Fishfinger’s not worth the ruckus. and quick as a flash he saw through her after only half an hour. You like these little Mods. which widened with a shock of revulsion. Terry presently remembered. “I like him. He looks objectionable. “he likes me. The girl’s scent was overpoweringly sweet. what are you up to?” Bern growled. There was almost un-breathable fog of hair lacquer. bosom heaving against the cold pencilled and Biro-scrawled tiles. Terry thought. I’m not even your type. No conversation. she thought. the girl looked across at Terry and gave a dazzling tellycommercial toothpaste-sneer.

” “You swine! I was born with these.” Bern said fastidiously. “I know.” said Terry. it’s sudden. Up in the abrupt chill of the city. “Let’s go up to my place and relax. She’s chewing him some. “But not with these. checking herself from saying lying because Bern would just think she was flashing her grammar school education. hurt.” Terry said. their steps clacked on the shinespecked pavement. we can . “Lashes you got. “Dance with me in front of their corner.” Terry murmured.” “What do you mean. Sure they’re false. “ Terry said.” “We can go back down the Cayf for their nice lovely coffee with all cream laying on top. It’s so noisy and smoky down there. leave me alone. peeping up at him through her lashes. you get it free.” Bern said. Bern. I am.” “I’ll take you home.” “What do get out of all this shaking? You know I don’t like dancing.” Terry looked. you aren’t half an ape.“I’m flirting with you. Bern.” “Then how about around here?” “Oh. “I mean. “My place is just around the corner. eh?” “Less liberty-taking around here. “Just since your feller and his girl started snogging over in that corner. the sweat drying heavily under their clothes. “Are you fed up?” “If you want to know. and he added. “Why don’t you come up for a coffee?” Bern suggested. She stalked to the cloakroom and handed in her ticket without glancing over her shoulder to see if Bern were loyally behind her. “Besides. What I mean is.” Bern said with vicarious relish.” “I’ll kiss you goodnight. his girl?” “That’s some love bite.” Terry slapped his hand away.” “Nah.” Terry hesitated.

even notice.” Bern said. this Fishfinger?” Bern asked. he apparently decided.” Sipping coffee on the bed. She was able to pretend at first she hadn’t noticed. Bern’s hand changed course and he caught hold of the end of her school-tie and tugged it quizzically. “Couldn’t care less about him. “Ah. get the coffee going. “I skipped detention last night. “There are plenty more Fishfingers in the sea. anyway.” Terry carolled. “I won’t turn the light on. he tactfully did it so gently.have a talk about you and this Finger of yours. lovey. exploring her mouth. He got ready to counter-move as he sensed her arm moving-but she was simply moving her coffee. You need to unwind. “A welcome for whatever you picked up tonight?” Terry asked. Two perfect pairs. snicking safe the last suspender. come on.” he took time off to breathe into her lower lip. .” Bern threw an avuncular arm round her shoulders. And what the eye doesn’t see-.” Bern’s room was cosy as a cave.” “What for?” Terry said indifferently. “Forget that burk. up. Kathy wouldn’t. “Ah.” “Sampson will be livid. “After all. she thought she’d better move restively. Well. Immediately. Terry leaned against Bern’s wrestler shoulder. “Mustn’t be late for expulsion-day.” “What day?” Kathy rolled over and pulled her pillow into her arms. using vaguely different phrases. “It’s nice in just firelight.” They said the same things again. He’ll be back. “Up. on which the skin had hardly yet formed. He pressed her firmly back on to his slightly Brand X pillow. *** Kathy was still breathing sleep. was suddenly ripe. left me fire on-” he cried as they entered the glow. Terry swiftly lifted one pair. smoothly. The moment. out of harm’s way.” Kathy sat bolt upright.I’ll wash them and put them back later. “So?” Terry began removing red and blue wire rollers off which her hair jumped in lively new morning curls. “You keen on. Kathywathy. as his hand grew less tactful. He kissed her. Terry scurried quietly as she could to the cellophane brussels-sprouts bag in which Kathy rolled her stockings.” Terry shrugged. you know I’m not going to rape you. Bern’s hand began gently to follow the curves of Terry’s blouse. Then.

But it wasn’t just that. about being a salesman. “He stayed and talked a bit. She wanted. Good old snog. Boys Terry wanted.” .” Forestalling questions about what became of Fishfinger.” “Well. When I got in last night you were asleep. He says he’ll call in at the school fete-worse ‘n-death today. . He says you meet such funny people. That’s it. Come on. would have a use for Kathy. Round shoulders and tobaccodappled moustaches.” Kathy said. he did mention. she’d be more a rival. Somehow Kathy wouldn’t be the same if she started thinking--un-Kathy. I’m not all that thrilled about last night myself. Trust Bern. In dressing-gowns. Kathy always told Terry the truth about her own incidents. Dear lickle Teresa. It’s just that I’ve never before slept with a bloke I’m not keen on.” Terry said briskly. “Out of bed. Bern’s room. If Kathy lost her virginity.” “Did you have a nice time last night?” Kathy asked.“Your lovely father called last night. just as Terry always asked after Kathy’s nights out.” “Women. Just look at everyone’s Dads. He told me all . “Slade! What a treat for jaded gazes you are.Terry disappeared to the bathroom. You’ve had plenty of sleep. You look more like a boyfriend than a Dad. Slade found her. Terry hardly ever told Kathy the whole truth.” “Fine. Everything was safe and so on. “Cayf. He. Besides. II Terry was on the cake-stall. to protect her reputation in her room-mate desk-mate’s eyes but half simply to discourage Kathy from following example. Isn’t he nice? He’s so fatherly. half. . Everyone knows people sleep with people on the rebound.told me how when he last saw you you were all chubbly and couldn’t say your r’s. I was on the rebound I suppose.” Terry hitched her bra-strap-buckle and licked a finger to scratch off a toothpaste stain. Invite him in for a cuppa. though he can’t be very used to being one. “He left a gorgeous box of soft centres.

For impertinence. She stopped quickly.” “No.Teresa was gone.“Many boyfriends here?” “Load of old rubbish.” “Very flattering. “Miss Sampson thought a drawing I had of you was a pop-star.” Slade demanded urgently. Nothing.” Slade remarked. not even tottering baby brothers clutching lollies about her hemlevel.” Sampson said.” Slade said. I’ll give you a bob for it.” Slade rattled her cardboard box of coins.” Terry found her fingers were picking off the chunky icing of a choc sponge. could deflect her course. “I locked the classroom door on her while I went to find the headmistress.” Terry laughed uproariously till Slade weakly smiled. “I remember the drawing--” “That’s what it was all over. When the head and myself returned-.” “Doing much business?” “Have this brandysnap on the house. “Who’s this approaching?” “My dear teacher.” “What were you seen doing. She flushed carrotish. did you?” . He thought Sampson was attractive? Sampson was bearing down on her anyway. She floundered.” Terry explained. “Who’s been passing off Irish pennies on you?” “Some nit of an Irish copper. to rebuke Teresa. Then she got trapped in Slade’s mesmeric concentration on her.” “You teach them to fly on your curriculum here?” “I climbed down the drainpipe. Teresa?” Slade asked. “Teresa was given detention yesterday. “You drew me for the class. “Teresa--” Sampson shrilled. “Wow!” Slade slowly said. Terry stared at him. not pet dogs muddily gambolling. For further insolence. “Teresa--the head and I are gravely annoyed by your behaviour yesterday evening. I spose. They’ll never notice. “This is your father--” Sampson said suddenly. “Naughty Teresa.” “Introduce us.

Slade. “She’s an enchanting child.“No. but the breeze can’t do a thing to my stiff helmet of lacquered auburn-tint. I couldn’t have shinned down the drainpipe. you have still not come round love alltho you told my Mum how . your little friend Kathy. I’m young and dead live. Vibration of vast life thrumming the air against me. Off you rumble.” Terry said magnanimously. “If I were awkward.” Slade’s eyes narrowed. Teresa. Oh. Or late Spring really I spose. My silky rayon petticoat slides across my calves inside my tight skirt. still tanned from abroad. Not yet late enough. how difficult it is I looking after girls at the awkward stage--” “I understand only too well.” Sampson conceded. But that doesn’t alter the fact that--” “No hard feelings. I won’t lollop for that bus. I told the nit.” he said. He looks fabulous.30. brows slightly puckered. That’s triumph. No wonder Fishfinger has spent the last three days phoning and leaving notto-be-ignored messages. eating up the road and indigestion-rumbling. Early Summer. But neither heard her.” Terry muttered. on my shoulders in the French thin blouse glad I didn’t wear a coat feel so live a little chilly.” Slade gave his man-of-the world smile. Smell of life in the air. “Well. that’s humanity conquering the elements. Kathy did. ‘‘Darling Terry. Must keep him waiting. she remarked in her head glancing at her watch. My little crystal earrings tremble tentative as tear-drops. “I’m sure you understand. No wonder this soppy spinster is goggling fascinated. it was his putting pen to paper that got me. it seems. that our little fracas” (she had a flamboyant French accent.” “She is a good girl. I can feel the city-smoke breeze on my face. I can feel the folded re-folded missive against my heart just tender-trapped under the wire of my bra. Mr. who needs you. Nice. bus. Do him good to do a bit of agonising. Terry reckoned. *** Terry scuffed down the street. Not a 1/2-hour late yet. Sampson stifled a gulp in the interior of her twinset. “I’d like to see this drawing. all breathy r’s and nasal snap) “took place over a misunderstanding. I’d be along at 9. clockwatching and door-watching and Is she coming. Miss Sampson. maundering down a street in the evening.

” Was that me stammering? Well. “You must think so. He had nothing to do all day in bed eh. How often have I thought about this blond stranger. And I only saw it once before. “I don’t drink. The Spring wind had got rid of two match-flames for her.” “Temperature makes no difference to me. She had also long since perfected the art of commanding attention with her gaze at least when her gazee was a stranger— staring . that smile’s biting my heart. Oh. It was the last bit that had determined Terry not to run round early. “Oh--” she stammered. She knew she didn’t know him but he had a pleasant voice and the street lamp crystallised his blond hair..Terry thought approvingly. Terry had perfected the art of getting one’s fag in the offered flame without even glancing at the flame itself. so as she passed in haughty silence she looked sideways to suss him between her lashes.” the boy said. Flash big ‘ead. willing him to stay with her. Your collar’s still open. Warm blood you must have.I don’t. and he stepped close to her and hand-cupped a new flame into which she poked the filter-tip between her lips. “Thanks-. so he kindly condescended to think her presence might be enlivening when he got fed up with his transistor and his MAD back numbers. “I-. How can I stop him walking on and out of my everyday life again? “Fag?” she offered.I know you.” he said.” said the seventh boy she’d passed in this street alone.you would wen she phoned you and ast you please to come round love as I miss you and spend all my time in bed just waiting you to turn up. the amused smile lifting his lip. “What’s your favourite vice if you don’t smoke then?” she nattered. “Good evening.” Terry giggled. Your own FISHFINGER” and big scrawly kisses and SWALK surrounded by kisses on the envelope. I really miss you love. without letting your gaze stray a fraction from the gaze of the boy. “You’re still wearing no tie.. while always taking it for granted I’d never run into him again? “Lovely evening. I am overcome. “Alcohol or coffee?” Perhaps he’ll suggest a pub or expresso-bar. There is nothing to do here all day in bed though the doc says the blood-poisoning is clearing up well that’s all for now..” “Mind if I do?” He bowed.” the boy said. I wish you would come round and cheer me up. See you soon.

Wrigleys Spearmint suited the boy best. could you hypnotise me even if I was resisting you?” I wouldn’t resist.” he said. “One of your eyes is much narrower than the other.” he gestured hospitable. “This marble strikes a bit of a chill. mate-. you name it and I’ll succumb. just interested.” she said. “In your opinion. “Sit down. it was hard to make out . But his shapes’ and planes were arresting.” the boy said emphatically.” “No. “Yes. luv. Owing to the vivid changing neons.” “No.” . changing from ghastly green to vivid cerise to twinkly tangerine. thinking I must make my way on to Fishfinger’s bedside I spose really. “Let’s see. I’m London. “You’ve got hypnotic eyes--” she winced. She lost a shade of her fascinatedness as she supposed he must be denying the truth that he was at least a pep-pill taker. let me assure you. “You are very analytic.impertinently and almost without focusing into his pupils till his stare dropped and he reckoned.his colouring and in daylight she might have passed by not recognising him.hypnotized or not hypnotised.” Terry muttered humorously but it didn’t seem to impinge on him. alarmed she thought. But this other gaze overpowered her instantly. are you foreign?” “I told you before. I’ve run into a cool one here. They balanced together on the rim of the horse-trough. “These shadows under my eyes aren’t vice. Behind them the rows of crosses and angels and whited sepulchres stretched between the vistas of the giant jetty arches and into the velvet invisibility of the cemetery’s far reaches. “What are your vices?” she asked politely.” “You mean-you can truly put people under? I mean. More likely it’s tea and tequila. I don’t touch drugs. just reflections. You could do anything with me. a boring little sniff-kid whose face was only interesting because he never got enough good Horlicks-type sleep. You look far too debauched to be a non-smoker and nonboozer. must I be as riddled with vice as with bullets?” “You mean you’re bullet-riddled too?” she laughed. Sodium streetlighting and neon advertising-lights flickered over their faces.

Terry thought sulkily. Your eyeliner is far more careful then when I met you the other night out with your father. “Where are you off to?” If I say nowhere. “ I dislike clever girl-reading boys. and let’s face it that’s only respectable when you’re with another girl.” “Silly sort of thing to be an epidemic of. Until the doctor’s cleared all the trouble up. Don’t let him kiss you. But he’ll wonder why I’m out on my lonesome wandering nowhere. this condition is contagious. “not to let him kiss you?” “How do you know he’s a kissing-type friend?” “You are wearing ear-rings.” “Now I think I can place you.” Terry said. he’s ill in bed and I haven’t seen him since he went ill.” “Was she tall. Do you think I should stop prying?” “Not at all. “When you see your frierid tonight.” the boy said decisively. he got blood-poisoning from lovebites off a female who uses the wrong toothpaste. “If you ask me.yes-. smiling briefly this time no more than a stretching of closed mouth. he’ll ask me out. “Let’s see now.” he said.how do you know--?” “Just.” “No. “You’re not wearing socks. It’s your ankles that are showing ‘ .” Terry giggled. “Long straight black hair. is it blood-poisoning on the throat?” he inquired. a thin white shift?” “Why.” “Or no toothpaste.“You don’t seem to communicate very readily actually. Medical student?” “Why should you want to place me?” “I’m a nosey-parker. elegant?” the boy suggested. “Well-. was it her bit your friends as well?” “Do me a favour. but it’s my turn. I just noticed--” Terry said. “I’m on my way to visit a friend. “Will you promise me. don’t kiss him. Her teeth were like Alps. she uses some all right. “it’s happened to two friends of mine lately. Seems to be going round. He’ll think I was out looking for a one-night stand.” he said. slim.” Terry confided.” he said earnestly. “Oh.

“Hope it’s not damaged. One of its ton-up wings tip-touched his face as it wheeled and made off above the cemetery arches. “Obwhat’s that?” She clung quite involuntarily to the boy. .” “I’m sorry I chucked you off. Just--what you said--it shocked.” “I already have. I’d better mush.God Almighty-. His cold hands were strong and protective. “I never saw such a big one--” Terry said.” the boy said. momentarily blacking out the moon. and hovered entirely silent above them. . He shuddered. She’d have fallen. A chill seemed to linger on Terry. Something huge.it’s staring at us-” The boy had gripped her as she clung to him.” He yanked off his elastic-sideds and dabbled his feet in the horsetrough.knees struck the pavement. She said uncertainly. slightly. his face rigid. had flapped out of the cemetery. Moons. Off you go. animate darkness it seemed for all she could see was its gliding blackness. otherwise. off. .” He fished out her hand-bag. and her fakesnake handbag splashed into the trough. .” “Well. I’m sorry I hung on to you-the thing startled me . The thing beat leathern wings.between your jeans and your boots. it’s staring at us?” The boy was shaken indeed. “It’s-.” “True. above them. sailing the wind. and one of her. . Wrigleys Spearmint glinting on sharp teeth and tiny eyes. shook me--” “You mean when I said God Almighty. bat. I had better. “Well.” She swung down from the cold marble. “Haven’t you got talon toe-nails?” “That’s because I forget to cut them. But now he flung her from him. “Are you all right?” “Of course I am. Fishfinger has probably given up hope of me ever turning up. “You’d better not keep your friend waiting. violent tremors taking him. and Wrigleys Spearmint flashes lilted away on brokensilver ripples punctured by his long toes.” . .” Terry admitted. “A big bat-” Terry muttered valiantly.” “Logical. “F . stars.

“Yes, yes--” She turned quickly and made off towards Fishfinger’s road, her handbag dripping plink at every step, leaving a shine-dot trail.

III

Fishfinger’s Mum was pleased to see Terry. “Oh, he’ll be so pleased you could make it, Terry love. He’s been hoping all evening. Mum, he’s kept saying to me, Mum, do you suppose my Terry will make it this evening? Hours he’s been saying that.” That’s the nearest you feel you can get to reproaching me for being an hour later than I promised. So Fishfinger must be desperate-- or you’d never stand by and let me muck about with appointments. Terry’s heels clicked as she scurried up the familiar oilcloth stairs. “Fishfinger,” she sang as she swooped through his door. “It’s me-ee.” “About time’n all,” grumbled Fishfinger propped against his pillows and unable to keep the beam off his face. “Sorry I never thought till too late to bring you grapes or a picture magazine or a jigsaw or peppermints or ciggies--” Instead of the usual greeting-embrace, they stared awkwardly at each other’s chins. Fishfinger especially avoided Terry’s eyes. “Haven’t seen you since the night down the Cayf,” he remembered. “‘Stright.” “I meant to take you home,” he stated. “But I missed you.” “Possibly because I went back with Bern.” “Bern?” “Bouncer.” “What-- what for?” “I didn’t want to come between you and your dark friend. After all, you’d have felt irritated if obliged by conscience to see me home when you were having such a good time with her-”

“Conscience my arse!” Fishfinger said energetically, bouncing off his pillows. “If didn’t want to see you home, I wouldn’t, don’t you worry.” “So. You didn’t.” “Hell-” he leaned back, disgusted, lines cross-hatching his fevered brow. “And anyway, what do you mean, you went back with this Bern?” “For coffee.” “To his place?” “Mm.” “What time did you get in?” “I was in bed at eleven,” she said virtuously. After all, I was, even if it wasn’t my bed. “Gosh, look,” she added. “I never realised before. You live across from Simon.” “Who’s Simon?” “Don’t you know him? Well, look, you’re neighbours. You can see right across from this window into his. I never realised you were just back of his house.” Fishfinger struggled across the quilt to look. “Poky room,” he said. “Bedsitter? That the bloke you mean? All hands, snogging that bird?” “That’s Sime, yeh. Don’t know her, still I wouldn’t want to. Look at her Rocker shoes. Cor, the times I’ve sat on that rattly old bed of Sime’s. Peer. Can you make out the thing drawing-pinned hanging under his collection of beer-mats on his far wall? It’s my nylon stocking I lost one night. “ “Oh, it bleeding is, is it?” Fishfinger said. He was still reclining across his Mum’s quilt and his spine showed between his pyjamas. It looked remarkably un-sexy, Terry decided. Knobby and un-inviting. Simon, over the girl’s shoulder, glanced up and separated by cabbage-plot tinshed backyards his eyes met Terry’s. He looked delighted and pulled one hand from under the unsuspecting girl’s rumpled suit-jacket to thumb-up a greeting at Terry. Terry waved back. Fishfinger savagely shoved Terry back out of sight. His hand slapped across her jaw. Terry sat meekly rubbing her jaw, automatically smoothing back in place the disturbed powder. “I’m sorry,” Fishfinger said. “I shouldn’t have done that.” “Oh, I dunno.”

“I honestly am sorry.” “Don’t mention it. By the way, how are you?” “Getting better, the doc says. Still need this gunge on my neck.” “I met a bloke who knows the girl you caught it off. You’d better keep away from her.” “I only went with her because I wanted to needle you,” Fishfinger confessed. “Really?” Terry pretended amazement and pleasure. “Come over to me. I want to show how I feel about you.” The proud expectant gleam of a boy about to prove yet again what a master of technique he can be entered Fishfinger’s eyes. Tonight it stiffened Terry. “Oh, don’t maul me,” she mumbled. “What’s the matter with you, anyway?” “Nothing. I’ve got homework waiting at home, that’s all. I’d better get on.” “Don’t bother ever coming back,” Fishfinger yelled after her. *** Terry’s eyes opened. She realised she was awake and was floating languorously between her womb-warm sheets. She felt remarkably sensual. She also felt she was being watched from the darkness. “Kathy?” she called. “Awake?” She lifted the sheet and looked through the moon-soft room. Kathy’s bed still neat. No beam from the kitchenette. Kathy still out. “Hey,” someone breathed. Terry turned like an electric eel. Silhouette on the roof outside her window. “Who is it?” she called. She peered at the silhouette, a slimly male blackness. Her heart double-taked. “The window’s open,” she said. “Invite me in,” he nevertheless remarked.

“You’re welcome.” So he put his boots on her bed and next thing, there he was sitting beside her. “Eyelashes you’ve got,” he said. “Oh, I forgot to take them off.” “Did he kiss you?” “Who?” She was devouring him with her eyes and her awareness of his close presence, and at first she couldn’t remember any other boy existed. “Oh, Fishfinger-- as a matter of fact, not.” “Thank the dark angels for that.” He sighed so the air in the room shifted. “I just felt sexless about him,” Terry shrugged. She thought, this is more than concern about my possible contamination. This is jealousy. Gawd. Just let him get his hands on me. But though she made coffee, and they talked on and on in the dark, he came no closer. He did not even slip a casual arm across her waist. When he took the coffee from her, their fingers touched. “You’re icy,” she said. “I know.” “How long were you up on the roof?” “Not long. I watched you sleeping. I didn’t want to call you, you looked so snuggled, but in my head I was willing you to wake yourself.” A belated amazement took Terry. “How did you know where I live? My house? How did you know my window even?” The boy evaded the question. “I nosed about.” “I can’t turn the fire on for you. I haven’t a shilling for it. Come under my covers with me. The coffee won’t spill if you hold it on the pillow. You’ll only have to take off your boots and jacket--” She didn’t have to urge him on at such reasoned length. He chucked off jacket, boots, and joined her inside the covers. “I really feel most at home in wombish tombish places like beds,” he said inside her ear. “Places normal people feel claustrophobic in. Tunnels. Caves. Beds. Archways. Beds.” Yet still, when he could make it seem so friendly and natural, he didn’t take her in his arms. And he’s not shy either. So what’s wrong with the soap I slosh on every morning? “What do you do all day?” she asked, able to talk into his breath, and taste his tang now they were so dose.

I realised it wasn’t a leather collar.” “Have we got mutual friends. Oh. just greasy He was awful.your father. had his shirt on and no trousers in evidence flung out of bed. Terry. Terry. “I went down the.?” “Well--” Kathy looked edgy. She felt ill. We went to his place for coffee.” Terry said in a grim voice. “Were they out together?” “Yes.” Kathy said rather breathily.” Kathy said scornfully. he actually touched my knickers. “Come in. I thought at first. I didn’t half have a job getting away. but-” “Go on. I wished I was dead. she’s so--” “I know what you mean. I thought you’d be there. I could see she was longing to give me lines I must not accompany the opposite sex back to its room for coffee.you didn’t--” “Oh. . hand reaching to switch the light off again. It’s sort of obscene isn’t it.“Lay about. I’m so incompetent. He had one of those suede Modernist jackets with a leather collar. I was crying. And Miss Sampson. after all. and saw the boy beside her smiling. “Where’ve you been till I a. Can’t even get raped efficiently. gosh. too nervy on her own account to be too shocked at finding Terry in bed with a boy who. besides the dark succubus? Who told you about my house?” “I know all I want to know about you. Terry. I started yipping again. relieved. I mean. I mean. honest.” Terry said airily. My girdle bruk. I ran down the street. and suddenly she found she was gazing into his own sudden white face. seeing the colour of his eyes for the first time.” he said.” “Kathy-. “And I explained a bit. “Oh-” said Kathy at the door. luv. I don’t know what Lew sees in her.” “Well. who do you spose was walking towards me? Your father.m. course not. “Lew said Why was I crying?” “Lew?” “Your-. I know she’s neat and lipsticky.” Terry leaned back. “But nearly. He said I must call him Lew. Her face was turned in his direction. and of course that twin-peak bra. But Sampson was looking at me in disgust. There was this ginger boy. Cayf. then I remembered I’d left my bag in this beast’s room when I ran out. I liked at first.” “What-?” Terry’s stomach turned over.

Would you like a Terry-omelette?” she asked the boy. When we got into the street. and told me to check nothing was missing. and shaking. Terry. he said Show me the house and I’ll take you back in.“Then Lew. Kathy.” “Cor. And saw me home. Well. who’d noticed nothing. he mumbled. him using language like that in front of your father. picked my bag off the sink.” “All the more reason to eat when it’s offered. .” “More likely. Lew took me up .” “Well. she just turned on her heel and clacked off.” Briskly Terry corded her dressing-gown. you are lucky having a father like that instead of my rotten useless one that ran out on my Mum before I got born. Sampson glared. you can just pee off. continued. Have you eaten? I’ll make you an omelette. Or I’ll kick the door in. Oh. he didn’t want me to see him bringing you in late after all he’s said to me about late dates. Kathy. Isn’t it horrid? He just laughed in a She’ll-get-over-it way. Me. Terry. he’s so lovely. Terry. Then he told the beast never to treat a girl like that again. smashed the eggs. He was so white he was blue. “Lew strode in.” “What sweet luck possessed him not to come in and find us in bed?” “He said he didn’t want to disturb you.” “I spose she thought Slade was corrupting you. So she must think she has some claim on Lew. He put his arm around me to keep me quiet. and we knocked on the beast’s door.” The boy in Terry’s bed shuddered and pulled away.” “Sampson stayed outside. I said. She glanced aside at him in surprise. practically holding her nose as though the area stunk of all vice and so on. she thought. “I never eat much. Must get like this on pills every so often. but he didn’t say a word. And took me for a talk and orange juice. “So Lew said You open up. luv? he said. There was an astonished pause from the door. Then it opened quick. He chewed gum at us with his mouth open. “On the stairs I was saying Sorry for dragging Lew into this. Sit down. Ooisit. Thank God Sampson wasn’t there. Forgot something. and comb your hair. I felt so dreadful. beat them with a fork on a plate.

*** Terry’s pen spluttered across the page. “Well. “Don’t try to cover up for your friends.” Sampson’s voice sharpened. What I did on My Summer Holidays. “Yum. Miss. “We didn’t have anything for a filling. “Here. “I’ll turn the fire on. annoyed.” Terry said. Smells of burnt cabbage from the dining-hall. if you think I’m a rotten cook just say. hoping the switch is . Terry. It was only eggs. She wiped his mouth with her face-flannel.” he muttered. Terry?” “The gas-fire spluttered. She butters me up. Still offended. The boy pushed his plate away. She was just in time with the wash-up bowl. which meant she appeared to be filling more pages of Eng Comp than in fact she was.” She pushed the succulent oval at Kathy. “Whyever didn’t you think to do that before. Terry stood up. “Kindly control the squeak of your nib before all our nerves are shattered. “It was my pen. and slapped Kathy’s hand away from the wall where she was absent-mindedly tearing strips off Ringo Starr beside Prince Buster.” Kathy’s bent face rosied. The boy groaned like an animal. Terry thought he might have tried after I went to all that trouble. She had ruled her margin too wide.” Kathy said.” she said. Wouldn’ t your handsome eyes flutter if I wrote the truth.” Sampson’s tone was blander. Then suddenly he doubled up and retched. Fingers blue from the leaky ink. his eyes unseeing slits like a mange-sick cat’s. “I can’t eat anymore. Kathy’s the one she picks on now.” Kathy remarked through her forkful.” he said after two chews. “Katherine. greased and garlicked the fryer. “No-not that-just I feel sick suddenly.fished out the bits of egg-shell. Sampson. She’d taken care to stun him with her skill. “Funny-” Terry said. salt and garlic. She held his head on which stood great river-pearls of icy sweat.” “Garlic-” he doubled up again. and so her exercise bookpages too narrow.

small and distant but clear and vibrant with existence. for the very first time. over -the glass-spiked school walls. squinting to see out the window. of soggy linen. They had wan gums. the teeming London. Ho well. Two fairly gorgeous blokes yawned at the secretary-types. “You’ve never met Theo. bright and neat as Sampson.unobtrusive. yawned earnestly into paperbacks. and there in the centre was one clear figure alone. In Terry’s mind’s eye. If only he hadn’t left in such a fever last night. Fat negresses yawned into space. Like traffic lights or new threepenny bits or cat’s eyes on a white night road leading over hills into adventure. wrapped their arms lovingly round themselves and wandered about kicking the base-marks. over the waving trees and church spires. I’ve formed an opinion of your boyfriend. eyes lack-lustre as if they were on Purple Hearts. Hardly . If only I could fly out of my bench and the chalky stagnant classroom. but really on them? Somewhere out there he is. whistle poking from her mouth like a cheroot. Is he on peps. Terry subsided. millions swept into a mass like fog or porridge. “And up” honked the mistress in a windcheater. of bleach. Infatuation makes the world go round. is that it? Not just to keep awake for an all-night party like most of us. His jazzy striped socks. “You know. The Boy. The mistress was grief-stricken. Forty pairs of gymshoes hissed on the marked rounders pitch. I “No. and wondered had their Mum noticed. But the girls. IV Terry squinted as Angela shoveled the lot out of the flower-speckled pillowslip into the glugging washing machine. but I’ve seen you launderetting his things. The launderette smelt steamy yet antiseptic. well dawnlight then. over Big Ben and St. Oh.” Terry yawned. furtively kicking away two infants toddling screaming round her ankles. Paul’s and land beside him and melt into his cold hard arms. The ball missed the net by a yard.” Angela said. Secretary-types. Gold eyes they are. just before he was convalescent enough for me to demand his name and see his eyes in daylight. Two teams of navy-knickered girls shivering in the yard under the baby-leafed trees.

Might be dead as far as I’m aware. if you mean physically-. Where’s the microscope to see the tidemark inside the collars.” “Well.” “Oh honey. yes. No frayed cuffs.” “Not so shabby. I’ve been sleeping with him months.” Angela went dimpled. the size of handkerchiefs. I couldn’t. Nice underpants. Your father and I have never been able to see eye to eye on anything. We’ve always just left it at the separation bit. the mad fool. You ought to marry him. then. And aren’t they magnificent cuff-links. Angela?” “Oh pet. They know any little present they give me makes a big difference to my budget. love. He just sees me as his shabby laundress-coffeemaker-bedwarmer. “Oh Terry. bows hold back my curtains~ But my boyfriends don’t respect me. well. “You and Slade should get together and discuss divorce proceedings. “Not getting ideas. do you think so? Of course.” . I’m not divorced from your father.don’t be crude. you see him quite often don’t you? Does he live near you?” “By Sunbeam. He often goes weeks without dropping in on me or phoning. And he never remembers to take out his cuff-links.grubby. Every one brand-new. Relies on you to do it.” “Pretty appearances. Oh. You keep up appearances splendidly. Must you go into such detail?” “I wasn’t going to say more.” “Never?” “Not even before we were wed off.and when I do them credit on an evening out.” Terry said. I always poke flowers in the old preserve-jar. it’s been a wage-packet effort for me. what conclusion have you reached?” “He’s rich and careless and he may not be young but he’s bright. His shirts. with little tartans or dogtooths on--” “Terry. They know I can’t afford for myself the sort of dinners they get when they’re expected. Teresa. Why not concentrate and really work on Theo?” “Oh sweet.” Angela said in a far-off voice as though from beyond hazy hills.” “Seems to me.” “So.” “He’s doing well.

are you?” “Yes I am. “Yes. waited for Angela’s carefully-camouflaged look of shock. Angela. Bored wives have fallen so happily into his lap for so long. “And we’re keeping him out of harm’s way too. We go to the Palladium and Cleopatra and things and have ices and juices and chocolates. “How’s nice little Thing getting along?” Angela asked. respectable but sure of her standing with Slade. Terry!” Angela couldn’t camouflage the shock. Sure of herself.” Angela said firmly.sort of-like incest or something. You’re not getting the picture. And she’s loathsome. definitely virgin. I dunno. For the room.” “But neither of you is old enough for drinking in public houses.” “He’s corrupting innocence.” said Terry who knew Angela’s mind was at rest about her if she acted as if she led a life of vice. now he reckons he’s got a bit of class with a single ‘professional’ girl and he’s patting himself on his very tweed back. Terry thought. Angela leaned forward. In boxes. “No. “It’s-.” “Good God. night after night. don’t you feel that?” “Not really. I just despise his taste. Poised-crossing legs and lifting shoulders. as Angela reasoned that if Terry were really leading a life of vice. She’s my teacher at school.Teresa smiled and lit a fag. sedate. cross my heart. walking down the road neatly arm in arm with Slade. he’s out with a vile woman. And a West End pub after. . And now and then flowers.She’s--” Suddenly Terry couldn’t find words to express the distaste with which Sampson filled her. but this one’s regular.” “Slade reckons we look it when we’re dressed.” “He meets plenty of suburban married hussies in his job. think what orrible dives we might be in if he weren’t with us at pubs.” Angela said virtuously. “She’s going out regularly with Slade.” “Married?’ “No. she’d pretend to be sweet and pristine. Because when he’s not enjoying himself treating us.” Terry said. and added “and me. “Niggly. as ready as women always are. so Terry knew she was supplying for herself a vision of some woman she herself disliked. I’m not just jealous-.” Angela sighed. to believe another woman loathsome.

Will I ever see him again? Why doesn’t The Boy react properly. He’s so-. but he’s still being faithful to some soppy fiancee. They’re so easy for girls to get on with.Terry slumped on the little chair. to me? And would I like him still if he did? Cor. I could convert him easy. without being absurd. though. Even the bitchy ones are. that most girls shudder off from. “This is about my grubbiest Quickie ever. There’s something so clean about the idea of sex without me. I’d quite like to make off home if you’re ready. revolving like cosy bitter chocolate in the sour greed of her marriage-part of her mind. tried to squint over the ten shoulders in front of her. I like queers. well he does. And this bedroom. I can still taste his breath that was only nearly kiss-close. Or he’s queer. Would I. I even like lesbians. teetering on her low heels. not in any of the three segments like torso. Perhaps he likes me. knowing this vision would keep Angela occupied for some time.” . It would be like with a live statue. Unless that was her chin? No. eh?” Terry.” “Just a dirty party. but I could piece hardly anything of herself together in the mirror jigsaw. Terry’s fingers and thighs clenched. “But we haven’t been offered a lift by any fellers yet.” Kathy said tentatively.textural. Only the big lounge. “And we’ve hardly been in the street or anything. He’s like marble. He’d be male. and arms enfolding the serum of dolly-dressed rears. the new spot was missing. V Kathy savoured the pure simple pleasure of smoothing a Quickie across her face and then gloating over how much dirt it had wiped off. I want him.” she said. “I’ve had about enough.

where we went with that motorbike crowd. I just won’t slink home. “I don’t want to go back in there. An insult to be expected to bother about them. Not a thing I feel like concentrating on. So she gripped Kathy firmly by one wrist and marched her back into the party. Well. Anyway the boys are too wet to do anything about any girls who might be darlings. They’d done . One in ever such a posh dress. Someone else passed pills round.” “Tell me what’s live then. No one we particly want to know. hurt. Kathy slapped away his offering hand. aren’t I. Schoolgirls’ elbows are always grinding on desks. isn’t it?” Terry said briskly. She started to dry her hands on a nymph’s-blush towel but discovered that someone else had smeared vomit on it. “Oh. As for the competition. “Not a soul we know.being cutting and contemptuous and completely anti-social. But I’ve got to admit there’s nothing here.” “Anything. She’s having a cow night. Someone passed round a fag packet: Kathy took one and viciously nostrilled smoke. Uniformed Mod birds in those floorsweepers already out of date. Shoulderblades bulging like bosom over the back of it.” Kathy said with a rare flash of rebellion.” Kathy murmured disconsolately. you’d think a morgue was better than a night in. “Better than a night in. Cor. “Giving them free. So Terry wandered over to Kathy who was sipping lime faint vodka and glowering past the points of her bob.” she said. Terry thought.“The last bus hasn’t gone. Or the parties we used to go to. She’ll never go on her own. So no talent. We don’t need a lift. claims she’s 15. He was surprised.” Terry bullied in an unencouraging voice. bit of excitement.” “Better than moaning in here. The best is that little actressy ginger one. Just let her sweat it out. “How can I here? It’s dead. The other towel was under the couple on the bed and they probably wouldn’t hear a request to shift. always grey and crunchy like Ryvita. “Cheer up for Gawdsake. her bosom like shoulderblades over the front. But her elbows are soft dimples. That bloke who brought us from the Cayf has effed off with that Mod in the white socks. pigtails. A happy pub-crawl with your father. Not a thing I want.” he said.” “Bus instead of a lift? No tbankyou.” Terry settled the matter. My eyes are tearing from all the fag smog in there. at least. not even for the time-killing pastime of flickering me lashes at it and getting it all sure it is on to a good thing and then letting it down with a bang-.

you never asked for a dance of my girl. But it’s only old Fishfinger. It must just be that The Boy was at my window the night Fishfinger chucked me-the last time I saw Fishfinger. she thought. He’s not remote as a very young stone angel on a high lean tombstone.” “Gloria fairly liked being raped. “You are in a mood.” Terry blew smoke. His hair isn’t even blond. Ruddy immature. Terry thought amazed. you begged we get in with someone else.” “You know you didn’t like that mob at the time. They did marvellous things every night that could kill them if their judgment went one tiny bit wrong. She’s never done anything but follow my lead before. You thought they were violent and sex-maniacal.except sneering at everyone who doesn’t want to get blocked on stupid little lacklustre pills. with Fishfinger. She’s getting above herself. Think they’re everything. Let Fishfinger think she had picked a steady . When Cliff raped Gloria you were so sickened by the whole lot. she lifted an eyebrow at a sharp Mod beside her who immediately signalled her to dance. that there were no solid bodies. did you?” “Your girl.” Kathy shrugged.something. There were other boys. His tight hold. to stave off the imminence. Terry let her mouth stay open. To feel solid herself. seemed home re-found. all newcomers. “Why?” she said. It was sickening.” “They like sex. But to Terry it seemed as Fishfinger walked forward. This lot don’t like anything-. “Well. his eyes taking in the room after one glance her way. So in walks Fishfinger. But at least they did enjoy things. She almost panicked. Fishfinger disengaged her from the Mod’s clutches.” Kathy rejoined.” “Like is about the strongest word for anything they feel. Yet they didn’t pretend to be all bored and world-weary like this lot of zomby Mods that don’t know any world to be weary of. They hadn’t got farther than this when the displaced Mod said. “Here. “Surprised to see you here. only space.” he said. is it?” Fishfinger said. So why does my heart flip like an egg? He’s not pallid as paper. “And Cliff definitely enjoyed it.” Kathy heaved a sigh. Watch her. lessening between herself and Fishfinger. The last time I saw The Boy. his movement close against her.

. ing didn’t.” Terry said. to lend drama to the proceedings.” Kathy dithered. “Well.” said the dignity-conscious Mod. “Who asked you lot here anyway?” drawled another Mod. She swung round. I never realised before. bouncy. Some of the girls started screaming as a matter of course. Ah. but by blood and hair-oil from some little Mid’s head mingled on the wallpaper. . You can’t leave him. “No one. Immediately everybody was using everything. moist airs like crazed kisses. “Oh. Fishfinger is one of those pretty boys. Thought we’d give your poor cows a break. Uneven steps behind her.” “Aren’t you going to wait in case he’s hurt?” “He won’t be. “You might have asked. ‘ n it pathetic?” “That’s right. bottling. who were going to be nauseated on their return not only by smeary French letters and spilt wine under the stairs.” replied one of Fishfinger’s friends. Terry. But even Kathy had seen better fights. as though painted recently on blotting paper. what a rosebud snarl he’s got. The place belonged to someone’s parents. hi.” “I jolly well will then. “Oh. Suppose he’s bashed?” “You wait. “let’s mush. “Then why did you come. So someone missed someone else’s head with a Pepsi bottle. Nobody really knew what he was doing. They were basing their wild abortive swings and jabs not on personal know-how but on a confused image of telly brawls. “Kathy. Can’t you get girls of your own. her back against the harsh brick wall.” . Aureole-ringed lights. shooting eye-corner looks at Terry.” Outside.” said Fishfinger. Fishfinger was The Saint and kept his profile high. Kicking. Heavy breath.” said a witty one.since their parting. I just f.

is she? She left me. his mouth-corners curling.” “She’s a helpless toddler. No little haddock is going to make me look ridiculous. “Look at those stars. lit a fag without offering. Terry’s eyes burned at their own vision. and blew smoke just past his ear.” “Who says?” “I say. is it?” Fishfinger grabbed her shoulder.” “Then why did you leave?” “Why shouldn’t I?” “You left Kathy on her own. reluctantly eased his fingers. I’ll get him for this.” a quiet voice said.” Fishfinger said sulkily. after a moment her head was wobbling like a rag doll’s. apparently under pressure. You can tell they’re planets. Fishfinger. “Maybe you could get back to your merrymaking? And leave the little angel in peace?” The Boy suggested. “Can’t you get it in your head I love you? Doesn’t that touch you?” “Anyone who had a heart--” Fishfinger shook her so that though at first she clenched her teeth and kept her neck-muscles rigid. Don’t you forget it. his own eyes sparking. There was an oozy cut drying on his jaw. she vowed from her blur.” “How do you make that out?” Terry yawned.” “You off to meet someone?” “Your business. No one else is going to have you. anyway.” “You’re my bird. Quite suddenly Fishfinger’s own head was yanked back.“Why did you leave? In a hurry?” “Not particly. which she didn’t mention because he was probably already proud enough of it. “I suppose you’ll give me an exotic scar so no one but a pervert’ll like the look of me?” “I’m not being melodramatic so don’t make out I am. . “Loose her.

Look at him in his suit and his shirt that is already last week’s fashion. to make people stay away the night with you. Here goes on the brightest planet. I want that boy. “Couldn’t we sit cosy somewhere?” “The River is not far. and started walking. There was this marked antipathy Fishfinger was showing The Boy. The Boy smiled.” The Boy said at once. his lips writhing wryly back from the pale gums. Something in The Boy’s face changed. Terry giggled at Fishfinger.pleased. a light-trick sliding across the pavingstones.” They climbed over the fence-sign that trumpeted TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. Not just the usual aggressive jealousy. The moon zoomed through vast clouds. It was bitty. Then I’d know what things I you do. Tonight. Terry laddered her stocking but didn’t mention it. Wish I were superstitious. “Sure of yourself. Oh you blond beacon Terry’s heart said as The Boy stood there and sneered short replies to Fishfinger’s fury. But there was some reaction. “I want to walk with you till cockshock. she noted-. and followed The Boy. He stepped nearer to Fishfinger. throwing exsteadies over your left shoulder or something.It interested Terry to know what Fishfinger thought of The Boy. Fishfinger pulled his own hand back as if it had been burnt. Aren’t you?” Fishfinger said. Terry thought almost maternally. Doesn’t my Fishfinger look a baby. and stammered in the middle of the sentence. He laid his hand on Fishfinger’s. She didn’t precisely expect him to cry out exclamations of admiration. as though his clothes were throwing shadow but he wasn’t. A sort of wary distaste. a tattered shadow. She didn’t want . nor to stare mesmerized by The Boy’s glory. motioning her with his head. The Boy’s shadow netted Terry’s catching-up feet. and he’s hoping nobody will notice till he can afford this week’s which will be Out next week. daring him to interfere. He turned to Terry. Look at his little round insolent eyes that are glazed half the time from pills and the way he stares all bored and knowitall and his slack little mouth that knows a deal about french kissing but let’s face it not much else. A respect.

pushed saliva across his bright and beautiful teeth. “Why do you like me?” “You’re dead. “Why do you like me?” Terry asked. “I know no other girls of this age. “Dead?” “You’re the first living girl I’ve ever met. Terry’s heart genuinely turned over at his profile. I’ve never seen that before in a living girl’s eyes. her bare arms prickled.” “I’m interested in you… have been nearly a month. “who is bright as the living and inconsequent as any elemental.” he said in a slow melting glad voice. They had gone like points of diamond. pointed and pink as lamb’s liver. His tongue.” he said lightly but in a constricted sort of voice. His gaze swam into hers.” Terry whispered. Slockslock went the tide against the uprights. which in the last month had lost its shop-stiffening and gone as thin and limp as its fashion value.” Terry said modestly.” “Incons-. there’s a lovely shallow hard shelf just below them.?” “You stay interested in one thing no longer than a few minutes at a time. How are they?” “Me-. Inside the now despised old poncho. intent. Terry lit a fag and The Boy refused one. He stopped.to seem at all nagging. “somehow. The little pier resounded to their heels. while still the breath flowed across Terry’s own. “You look dangerous. His lips moved back. Drizzle sleeted 1000 pinpricks against Terry.” “When I look in your eyes. moved nearer. What age do you usually know girls?” “I like you.even in dresses and hair and eyebrows and all.” The Boy’s profile jerked up. “That’s because I like you. His eyes almost dazzled her. His breath was mellow wine. The Boy’s profile communed with the Danae shower of neon reflections on the wind-pimpled waves.” The Boy.” he said. The boat rocked and they found a corner in the stern out of the wind. He looked like Adam Faith only more subterranean. the central part of her . invisible just beneath their feet.” “Why did you pick me out from other girls? I’m just like all my friends. Terry bit on the harsh smoke.

” “Let me rub your poor hands. he watched her while she caressed his hand. The hand remained icy. or worse than ice. Teresa. short for Terence. I mean. Terry thought they must look idyllic as a fag ad in the gusts of neon needles.” the breath dizzied her from between the teeth.” he said softly. I know you haven’t an accent? I like foreign boys. “Sod your girl friend. Presently she realised she was freezing too.” she crooned.” she cried. “Don’t ask me. though she felt her bra contained flames. It’s one up on having an English boyfriend. I’m Terry. from her neck to her thighs.” With a half-smile. but savagely.body. They’ve got that class.” “Tel. He wouldn’t be nuzzled and his marble jaw arched away from her. . “Why don’t you kiss me?” Terry suddenly demanded in a quick anguish of frustration. a cold not only tenacious but insidious. “Tell me your name. “I wanted to know. A patina lay across the decks now. as if she were whining at him to do something he longed with violence to do.” Terry suggested. tried to nuzzle her Boy.” “Are you foreign? Your mother or something I mean. “Let’s talk. feeling out of things. He hesitated. “Slip your hand inside my coat. “Oh. Terry. I’m perished.” “How have you found out so much about me?” He shrugged. Prom the dark of the other moored boats came giggles and murmurs and blowlamp breathing and the ping of elastic and the zip of jeans and occasional un-rushed to screams all under the cacophony of waves wind drizzle and Embankment traffic. short for--” “I know. Her poncho smelt of stinging wet wool and Angela’s cat which she’d let snore in it. You know. Even against her breast it did not kindle. isn’t it?” “I’ve never in all the years I’ve been looking met a girl like you.” “That’s my name too! Nearly. flexed the fingers.” “I’ll only make you colder. hold me. to have a foreign feller. Put your arms round me. tried to coax it to warmth. tightened. Slade. taking one of his between hers. The Boy leaning this near though still no farther. I found out.

” Terry whispered.” she said bravely.” “Yeh?” “I could eat you. Slurp me up.” “My father’s accident--” The drizzle deepened. “F . Tel darling. ing hell. Terry shivered as he drew electrically closer. swung like hurdy gurdy . “Law. You who could think of one thing only at a time and didn’t even see me go. You could smell slime-coruscated wood and the ocean miles away.” “I don’t mind.” Light flashed on them.“I’m no different than anyone else. hit. . I don’t want to start.” said a voice as the torchlight. “ Terry said. “What a lovely Summer night. “Lovely like you are. as far as my plans for you go.” Go on.” “There’s nothing to save me up for. and watch you don’t mate. . too thin to be police.” The light was thin. “Fishfinger!” Terry lunged forward. hoping she wasn’t destroying anything. “Yet I would destroy you. Bright and desolate.” he said. “But I have not met the anyone elses.” “You are. . cold yet cosy. “Odd--?” His teeth bared. eagerly. Tel. “Don’t move.” “You’re odd. The rain slashed at the river. Presently feet clambered the plank no one had bothered moving.” she invited. crawled sadistically across their eyeballs. “Aren’t you sexy?” “What’s that?” “You don’t want to make love to me?” “I want to make you part of me. The lights on the tide. It became rain. “It was you who materialised before me on the lonely road. though to start will be the fiercest of all delight. I’m not inexperienced or anything.” Terry shrugged one shoulder. Wild yet artificial. “I want to save you up for it.

“Fishfinger!” she said through the soggy sounds. All the lacquer on his collegeboy was sliding with stiff rainbeads.” Fishfinger lunged at The Boy. Even the nylon fringes round her eyes felt sticky now. darlin’. she could glimpse his heroic menace. Fishfinger! Let him alone! I’ll go with you. The cold pale Boy stood waiting. He had the torch raised like a bludgeon. he kept them at bay with a flash of the smug cruel torch. Fishfinger advanced nastily. You know you can handle him. He’s shittin’ a brick. “She’s not going with you.“Took me long enough to find you.” Terry stated after waiting in vain for Tel to settle the matter. From ricochet-reflections. “Sasay that again!” Fishfinger stammered and stumbled forward on his builtup heels. I’ll deal with you later on.” Tel’s voice said quiet into the flashes. “Why don’t you shove off?” “I told you you wouldn’t never belong to no one else. You’re blocked!” “Blocked or not. He didn’t look heroic as the rain darkened his lampflame head and the strips flattened like grease down his forehead. His eyes brought tears to Terry’s. I’ll decide here. Terry. Now. “Fishfinger! He doesn’t want to fight you. “He doesn’t want to fight you for me. Behind the torch. so she supposed her own lacquer must look similarly appetising. Look at him now. Tel. staring into the light with pupils . I’ll show you-.luv. let me decide when I want to stick up for me rights. Don’t be hesitant. “I’m seeing Terry home. “I don’t want to go with him. Fear that he might be impossible to admire chilled Terry’s own intestinal furnace roar. Boy.” “He reckoned he could just march you off with a toss of his bleach.” As both T~rry and Tel rose.” The Boy backed again.” Fishfinger’s steps squelched on the sodden deck.” The Boy backed round a bench-corner as the dazzle advanced. The Boy. darlin’.” Fishfinger said. Don’t be afraid. “You thought I was copying telly didn’t you. He looked afraid. Moisture dribbled down his black leather arms. He’s terrified. You want him? All I got is a torch now. His hands hung limp from his shoulders. You’ve had one bundle tonight already.

came The Boy. don’t you?” “Better not to have them at all. and he couldn’t resist a swift upward jab from his present position. his mouth a square.” “Please don’t class me as an interfering parent. whether from the gash already in his jaw from his neck--Terry hadn’t time to tell. With her spirit sinking. watched her face. had been feinting. The Boy guzzling like a young pig suckling from Fishfinger’s throat.” Fishfinger and the light leaped over a bench-back. threw into a haze-edged cameo the two horizontal heads. *** “Have more tartare. her expectation vaguely of a vague something obscene. Fishfinger!” “Let him come at me. the blood a drunken stain on the teeth. With a howl The Boy threw himself past the light. He’ll get slosh on his suit. not hand in hand. . avoided the blow at once but like a dreamer. nauseated by bewilderment. but why don’t you cover your neck while you’re at it?” . howling. Now he was panicky. She beat the torch against the bright cameo. shoulders up and hands out to clutch and keep. The Boy was still on top of Fishfinger. but The Boy’s eyes widened on the mesmeric light. Blood streamed on to his shirt collar. Terry yelled as Fishfinger clumsied into an iron girder diagonally bulwarking the upper sightseeing deck. The torch caught The Boy’s stomach from below. “He doesn’t want to fight you. But now opportunity presented itself to him as skill. Fishfinger fell to the deck. Terry screamed. hoping only with the blow to smash the vision out of her own head.dilated. Or something’s happening. Terry picked up the rolling torch. up on the slats of the wharf. Fishfinger sprang up. Terry thought in compassion. up the plank. Fishfinger had missed his objective. they bruised themselves against the benches.” Slade shoved it against her plate and. An odd sound. The light scintillated.. but shoulder to shoulder in twin panic. “Your chin--” The torch swung. gasping like a snorer. “It just makes me spotty--” “You just cover them with that pancake and powder. He’s hurt. Terry thought. hair flying back in the neon tawdried elements. Still he hadn’t got up. She saw the evening’s half-healed cut on Fishfinger’s jaw gout blood all over again. amused. I’ll warm his little cold slimy hands. Together. Mixing of groans and a sucking hissing sound. He’s hurt. Fishfinger. Terry thought. Behind them.

His mouth she’d tempted to come on to hers. Like that bloke who flashes himself in the tube. made her feel sick.” . “Yes. that’s why she wants freedom. Serves them right for taking his interest that I had. Anyway. she won’t want alimony. She didn’t want to do him the dishonor of covering up that mark. That Boy wasn’t just kinky.” “You mean she wants alimony. She wants to be free.” “So she wants a divorce. nor to dishonour the time-honoured tradition of getting as many mementoes as possible on one neck to compare with the number on other girls’. Never take sweets from strangers. sort of disloyal. Let any silly nits in future danger look after themselves. all evading Sampson’s suspicion. has he?” “Well--” Terry gulped pomme croquette. There are always nuts. We know now. Should tell the law. she thought. “Angela wants to meet you and talk about divorce. “Angela doesn’t mess about. Don’t know his surname. Just one of those— “Slade-” she stabbed butter on her knife and watched the ice roundels roll and ping against each other like a game of marbles private in the butter dish. “She’s happy. to cover a lovebite given in affection.” “You mean she’s got another sucker lined up?” “A prospective husband. “ Terry speared a feather of broccoli.” Slade said crudely. since last night. All that blood dripping. But we got away OK. “Poor bugger.” Terry said uncomfortably.” “So you see--” “He’s actually proposed.too quizzical. which had been given in a particularly molten way. Yet any talk of necks or bites. Pervert.” “A real divorce?” His brows went up in the Clark Gable way she resented-.“It seems impolite. Maniac. She still remembered with pleasure the one-night stand three nights ago who’d not only given her the now fading bite but had also gone to quite some trouble to give her a night out in the best seats in the flicks even though he’d had no money for tickets and they’d had to bunk in.” “She must be chuffed. nothing about him to tell them.” “She’s got prospects.

as they settled back against the slidey leather.” Angela protested. Still. All the translucency of that sketch of Grunewald’s for the grieving hand at the Crucifixion. “He wants to be.” “That’s what he wants to see you about. ducky. The matter was settled. Except for the fag. floating like a spike-stamened lily in the driver’s drab coat. in The Kings.” *** “Angela. In the taxi. To settle once for all about a divorce--” “You’ll get alimony.“Of course. Slade.after pursing her lips all sophisticated. both of you mind Terry. Thin column spectral smoke. isn’t he?” Theo’s cheroot right-angled from his mouth.” Stuff the cellophanesparkly in the cab ash-socket.” “My God. what on earth for?” “Slade’s your ex.” Terry blew a smoke-ring by accident. . baby. she could see her back-arched hand.” Slade signalled for the dessert. “And here’s a box for little Kathy. all long and slender.” Slade said. Chocolates with walnuts like wing-wide moths just alighted on top. Terry didn’t like their simultaneous fleshiness. “I’m sure I don’t want to stand in his way then.” Theo nudged Angela and she spilt coffee on the white cloth and bit back her lamentations. “Oo. You’ll meet me. “Here. love. Though they were clean cut lean lips. Terry noted with annoyance the cab driver’s white muffler which cut across the reflection of her face so she couldn’t admire its monochrome beauty.” “Tell her I’ll see her tomorrow night. Slade wants to see you tomorrow night in The Kings. “He can have his splendid freedom.

Terry knew she was hating the girls every time she looked across at them. Look at the glossy picture on top. No. She had never before been in The Kings. I guess. Terry. here’s a box of sludge-centres Slade gave me for you. “No harm in seeing him. Cor. talk about massive.” Angela said in a mature considering voice. Everything she saw. the blaring Group.” “Don’t thank me. the smoky space.” VI Angela looked round nervously.“Probly. in case they were regulars and Slade admired (from far or even near) their prettiness every time he came here. The noise. Terry could see her summing up the pub as part of Slade’s life.” Angela said in a hard brisk businessbeforepleasure voice. Thank me Dad. I will.” “Oh.” Terry said with a wise-child nod. Slade must have left it when he brought you home last night.” “Oh. Oh. It wasn’t there this morning. .” “Darling Terry. I’ve only just come in.” “No. *** “Kathy. Isn’t it gorgeous. What message?” “In the old steam on the bathroom mirror. the dancing. the group-singing to the piano which was thumped ruthlessly while the Group rested. Not that way.” “I’m not kinky. I didn’t. “Those are pretty girls over there. thank you. you must have written it yourself.” “What does this message mean you left on the mirror?” “No. she was seeing in connection with Slade.

Theodore. But he was so silent about Angela--she had counted three occasions only on which he’d ever spoken Angela’s name.” “Howya going. meet my-. Nevertheless. Angela Slade. he’d think he was being stampeded. this Mister Slade of yours?” Theo asked as he bought another round.” Theo guffawed. it wouldn’t be mechanical. How could she brief him to be as sweet and attentive as possible to Angela? Or should she inform him outright that he was supposed to be Angela’s fiancee? No. as far as his ‘masculinity’.“Is he generally late. I presume. “Terry baby. . patting her. “Pleased to meet you.” He kissed her warmly. Angela gasped and some of her gin spattered the counter. His ego. She peeped up at Slade. He’ll turn into one of those dirty ole men if he isn’t hung first. when he usually clammed up anyway.” Slade said. Terry had been prepared for Angela and Slade to find out. It was stony and hearty and false as her back teeth. He had no sense of humour. who was usually called ‘bird-boned’. And if the divorce happens and this absurd hero Theo doesn’t make an honest woman of Angela. “All right. Terry hadn’t noticed Slade till he stood beside her. backseat-driven. But probly. She was bitter and selfconsciously ‘cynical’ but very emotional about him. Slade. “He’s no Mister Slade of mine. and so his ‘independence’. And then only when she or Kathy had mentioned Angela first.” Angela sipped her rosy gin. went. all right-. I wonder if he was the product of a broken home.Mrs. Terry had known Slade only in the few months since he returned from Jersey and started taking herself and Kathy out. Terry wished Theo hadn’t come. “Meet Theo. of course. Then I’ll be the child of a broken home. as they talked. I’ll-. was gargantuan.er-still my husband officially. the only result will be the rotten divorce. Slade. “You’re the lucky blighter. Slade. “Well. near the mouth.” “Mrs. Terry kicked the mellowed mahogany bar.” Theo and Slade lunged instantly to pump each other’s hand and form opinions of each other’s grip. to which neither would ever have agreed except to show how willing and eager they were to get clear of each other for ever and a day. and hugged her to him. before he straightened and stared at Angela over his outstretched hand. eh?” Theo extended an arm which could have gone twice round Angela. Theo Aldritch.I’ll find The Boy and set him on him. That the meeting had been engineered. There should be some reaction from this upside-down inside-out mirror-meeting of long-losts. I can go psychopathic then if I like. She had known Angela all her life and Angela hated Slade. Lew. that she had misled each. With a long lank blond beard. Lew?” Terry didn’t like Angela’s voice.

glitter eternally in the dishwater-swollen flesh.” Slade said. “Isn’t she the one you wanted to talk about then?” Angela twisted the eternity ring above the wedding and engagement rings.” said Slade who didn’t pretend he could take his eyes off her. half-wavered up to pat her curls.teacher. She’s a lovely little buddy. yet Terry had ended in a Grammar. thought Terry abstractedly greeting several Ginges and waving to Connor smearing the glasses behind the bar. Muriel Sampson. “Lovely bonny girl.” “Little Kathy. Terry watched the words shy off her lips.” she said in a voice that meant to hold one expression and expressed another. no help from him. not even from the corner of her gaze.So far so good. “The little girls are my best pals. fresh pristine nail-varnish. all the sleek details he couldn’t know were party trimmings. But I’d better cut Theo loose soon. Angela’s eyes wouldn’t come up long at a time. “Just think. his mouth folding on the savour after his long draught of Guinness. either?” She meant to sound as if she were working round to his reasons for wanting at long last to push the divorce. Yesterday our Terry here had two boxes of chocolates and said you’d given her one for little Thing. “Not half as prosperous as you. Lew. He was taking in every detail.” “And little Whatsername too. not a false eyelash out of place but all fluttering and falling and lifting. “Haven’t seen each other for how long?” “Since your mother had red hair.” Slade agreed.” “And a-. Don’t you like my bubble cut rinsed black. watched the small shine-nailed bump-knuckled hand descend. aren’t you. Our Terry here. she called it.” Terry raptly accepted a sparkling orange from her father and tried not to sneeze the bubbles down her nostrils. “I’m doing nicely.” “Not lonely. She daren’t even sneak looks here and there. Angela’s hand. isn’t it? A Miss at Terry’s Grammar?” She was so proud that Terry was at Grammar. She was too afraid of being thought interested. I won’t deny. Bubble cut. I hear. Then my mam and pappy can wade together knee-deep in all their misunderstandings completely undisturbed by clear thinkers. “Doing well though. she wanted to say. . She’d looked after Terry on her own.

There was a frenzy of cherry-blossom on the trees down the street. it’s easy enough just to jog along like me and your Ma.” “Don’t you think she is still?” “Ah.Angie love. you got a lot to discuss.” Theo turned up his astrakhan collar against the balmy airs. arming a basket absolutely full . eh?” Oh shut up. it was all solid muscle. “Must be odd. Still. The Summer winds lifted her hair like an Indian knife scalp-seeking. paler than marshmallow. Terry swiftly swigged the last of her bubbles. “Handsome bastard he is begging your pardon love I’m sure you know how it is it just slips out. eh. me and Terry. eh?” Wink. Otherwise yours truly wouldn’t be around now. “After all. Good lookin’ he must have been when they first got hooked up. Terry’s shampoo was due. nylon Persian lamb coat. Off went Theo with the little girl. Slade meeting each other after all these years: Eh? Last time you saw them together. Even Sampson is Good Taste. Whatever it is. what a smashing jacket. the pad didn’t sag. “Come for a walk. Knowing grin. good looker your Ma is all right. shall we?” Terry nodded.Look at her. Slade is used to better now. into which your eyes melted. Slade nodded gravely and Slade clapped Theo on the shoulder and no.” Both Mrs. I suppose his young lady wants it all settled like eh? Make for the Wimpy. I’d better nobble Theo and get him away. The two of you. Oh. Sensitive is the word I spose. leave them to it. But thoughtful. a gypsy passed. We’re off. Take it as it comes. Pink. simulated something collar. and Mr. “Is it real suede? Can I stroke it?” Boldly she reached to caress it. Better leave them to it.” said Theo. All tossed and tousled. for a little saunter.The misunderstandings are teetering nearer and nearer a clash. is he. Plastic alligator bag. On the other side of the road. just a nipper. Leave them to it.” Terry said in her nice little voice. “Must be keen on his bird to want to go through all that legal argie bargie. Even marble boys-.” said Theo. Terry nodded big-eyed. Must’ve got me love of textures from Angela. Not a very possessive fiance. “Theo. Oh. “Er-. “After all. seeing your Ma and Mr. aha.

sensing interest in her wares even across the road. Perhaps it was the fleeting contact with the gypsy he’d coveted. You did really want one. look. and as often with her was too embarrassed to get out the actual words Thank you. Theo lingered by her throat and blouse as he fixed her buttonhole. She felt the bunches were little and lovely as kittens cuddling in a basket-. “Nice?” Theo asked. But Terry and Theo walked on. Her head swung to follow the gypsy’s passing. and Terry too.” Terry remarked.” Terry said over Theo’s head. “Oh. Theo bent to smell as he poked the bunch through her buttonhole. “The gypsy interrupted what I was going to ask you. Terry buried her nostrils in the soft trembling leaves and petals. and his sallow pores breathe in her nearness simply because she was young and female. under the blossom paused so that her ear-rings dangled haloes of reflection on her neck. She flourished a bunch. ducks. “Go ahead. Terry felt guiltily that he’d interpreted her gaze at the violets as a hint.no-. “Oh-. “No--” Theo grasped her arm and propelled her across the road in the proudly gentlemanly manner of a man who doesn’t realise he’s too tall and strong for this courtesy to be comfy for his courtesee. But there was none of the fragrance she’d voluptuously expected. “I spose even gypsies sell flowers forced in hot-houses now. frowning.” he informed the gypsy. to bless them with sweet lives as she palmed Theo’s tanners. Crossing back between the Jags and Minis. and she laid vibrant nicotine hands on Theo.of violet-clumps nestling against each other. “I’ll take a bunch. The gypsy. darling. Terry gazed.” . She was young. didn’t you?” Theo said. it?” she said. Michael cardigan with a missing button showing her Aertex vest and the grubby subterranean cleft. She watched his nostrils widen for her own smell. breasts sharp as termite hills twinning up the St.all intense blue stares with little yellow bits and curvy green leaves and pert little kick-up stalks. “There’s no smelL” He was disappointed. “Beautiful. Being a greedy little cupboard-love girl was not part of her role. What would I do with. “Shall I buy you a bunch?” Theo asked.” she said.really.

darling. don’t take it like that--” “I don’t mind. I genuinely don’t know where. didn’t he?” “They broke up by mutual agreement. I’m already wed. “Moral courage.” “Only one that makes the first push ever. After all. I’m just saying--” “Well. you know.” He twitched his tie.” “Does Angela know you’re married?” Theo’s effort to part his foot and the pavement resulted in a sickly sound.” “Anyway.” He guffawed in a conniving way and ran his fingers up Terry’s palm.” “Now. “And once a man knows he’s got his freedom and a woman.” He picked blown cherry blossom from her hair. But I’m not having you on. isn’t it?” “You know how nice she is. he left her. Terry girl. Scruples.“I’d like you for a step-Dad. Already got a missus. his eyes dilating. Makes it nicer for Angie. though. I did before. think what a rotten husband I’d make. Oo I was a devil. now? You see. ducky. “ “Now.” Theo stepped back. You’ll be the same one day. Didn’t you see them bracelets I bought your Ma? And that fur choker?” “And the bruise under her eye the other week. You’re practically living with her. d’y’see. his brothel-creepers squidging a discarded chew of gum. Choker’s right. Somewhere. “Let’s go back to the pub. now. “Well. once a woman knows she’s got you she doesn’t half take liberties. he takes liberties that break her heart.” “You have?” “Somewhere I say. “Now. And she can’t be too good. Nice like that. I did tell her we was divorced like. I’m telling you. is it. your Ma. “ . Now. living’s not marrying. Makes her feel she’s not snatching another girl’s husband.

“That’s the first I heard. twenty-five minutes’ conyersation is enough? Slade dances well. You’re giving an unsatisfactory impression. old chap.“You’re a fly little one. Anyone would think you’re pleased she’s getting on well with her ex-husband. Was the conversation going so badly? Wasn’t there any more to say? Is their relationship now so stilted that after all those years of silence. Hot with horror. Luckily. Rotten fiance you make. You should think of Slade as a rival. . enthusiastic and also elegant. Angela and Slade were among the twisting couples. *** The pubpiano tonkled across the road.” But Angela was absolutely sparkling: Radiant as a bride. gallant ballroom smirk. He seems perfectly pleased with Angela as he leads her pink and panting to us. Oaf. You’re not a bit jealous and possessive are you. Oh. Why do women always think that’s the authentic daring twist? Even Chubby Checker didn’t look particly fetching squatting inches from the floor. Head high.” Slade said. Slade paid for the round. Lithe. But he had panache. But Angela’s dancing like any middle-aged female in a pub. Arms flailing like pistons. Even her simulated collar could have been mink now. then?” “A pub’s no place to discuss the things that involve changing two entire lives. In the Saloon. her bottom waggling from side to side. all but visible. Why did he invite her to dance? They should still be talking. Doesn’t she look pretty?” Theo said. Shoulders back. where is your panache? Slade’s taste is really not what I give him credit for.” Theo was told by Slade who did have that nice tinge of acrimony in his voice when he spoke to Theo. Terry watched Angela twist down towards the floor. “How’s that. you’d think she was at riding school. tenderly closed her fingers round the stem of the glass for her. “I’m afraid I’m taking Angela off from you tomorrow night. Ange. “Dancing suits you. He put the gin before Angela and deliberately.” he said admiringly. all those Prince of Wales checks light and well-cut and his shoes are nice too and he’s still got his tan. Angela.

tonight. sitting with cooling coffee. “With Mr. “Here’s one in the million. gorgeous-candlelight.” Slade promised.” Terry said with dignity.” “Well.” Theo added. Angie?” “He takes out for lovely dinners.” Theo said. “Waiters to bring you another fork the instant you drop the last.” Girl. “After all.” “Fingerbowls?” Angela said. “But we really just make our own enjoyment. I don’t know about that--” Angela began. with school a few hours in front of you.” Theo’s guffaw corrected. “Lots of hectic dates?” Theo hinted.” Terry groaned. “as you take the little girls to. gathering shadows under your eyes when you should have been in bed hours ago if your parents had a say.” Theo said.” “He helps. Ange. Or their teachers. just talking and talking and talking about the big world-.” Slade said warmly.” She’d seen Angela’s radiance dim. then.comparing notes on minions of things you hardly knew about last year. Slade. ice in the butter dish and all.” Terry said at once. “I never knew a girl like Angela for dropping restaurant forks. folds came round her eyes again. And she realised that anyway Angela did look too young. a tremor she was unable to control in her voice. “Make a nice change for you. so the. I mean-.” Please don’t suspect this flash oaf doesn’t value our lovely Angela. full-stop. It’s just that he wants you to get the divorce arrange quickly so he can wade in and make her his.” “Comparing notes on millions of lads. Ange. “You’re telling me we have. “Neither of you can talk satisfactory in an old boozer atmosphere. Slade back from the Continong. And she felt a fairly genuine distaste as . “Sounds great. “My flat-mate and I like each other. those outings for Kathy. smelling of warm nylon and cleansing cream.” Terry admitted. and knew she was silly but miserably suspicious of those boxes of goo.” Angela insisted on pretending still to hold out. knowing you’re making the best of yourself for tomorrow’s boys. to be a Mum or a laundress-coffeemakerbedwarmer to a married boxing manager. “You two must have so many old times to talk over. “Come out for a first-rate dinner with me tomorrow night.life’s swinging.” Can’t you sound a bit jealous or scared of losing her? “It must be a dinner at least as nice.“Slade’s right. Terry’s mind mimicked indulgently.” “Life must be swinging for these little girls now?” Theo winked at Terry. “There’s just nothing else in the world quite like being one of two girls in nighties and curlers. “Oh.

” “I’m with friends.” Terry said. You’re annoying the young lady.” Theo said. came straight across to Terry. We’re just drinking a bit of nerve. “If you’d been alone with him much longer on that boat. wasn’t he. isn’t it?” Fishfinger smugly demanded. he might have just turned round and bit you to death. The collar lost shape. turned up that night. Come over. then. I’m going to help them on a little job later. that instead of being now vaguely repellent to her. he was as repulsive as he had been fascinating.” “I’d say he was. filthy lunatic. Meet me mates.” “He was a bit more exciting than you.Fishfinger and two mates entered the pub. “Why don’t you run away and play. “Don’t you want to know?” Theo said all understanding. feverishly. “You might have let me know if you got home all right after that maniac went mad and we lost each other running. Theo. don’t you?” Terry shrugged. muttering some thing to the Mids with him. he’s OK--” .” Terry cast up her eyes. Terry?” Theo inquired. “Terry--” Fishfinger grated. Theo paid no attention. I never even knew if you were in strips in some gutter till I walks in and see you just this minute. “Have you seen him since.” “Well now your mind’s at ease. Fishfinger luv?” Fishfinger laid a hand curled tight over Terry’s shoulder.) Fishfinger’s mouth hung. “Hello. Fishfinger bought his brown and then. he’s all right--” Terry said as Theo seized Fishfinger’s immaculate collar. She had been so keen on Fishfinger at one time. “Gawd. . no. “Terry. She tried angrily to shake it off but succeeded only in nearly tearing her blouse. Theo. then?” Fishfinger cried.” “No. “No.” Fishfinger said. . “You still like him.” “Lucky I.” (Terry hoped none of the adults could hear. a couple of months ago even. “Oh. “p . “Is this young feller annoying you. off. excuse the language ladies but we can’t have this.

Slade’s aquiline nose started spurting red. but he looked at Theo and Slade. After all. The bar tender. Angela burst into wracking sobs. hit Theo and Terry’s heart was gladdened. She couldn’t find her hanky and when Terry handed her hers. getting in a few punches on the way. same respectfully over to throw Theo and Slade out. dirty bastard!” Angela shrilled. “Like old times. luv. some starved schoolboy who’s got to take it when he can get it?” “When you can get it! Don’t categorise me there. Theo was cut to the quick.“Don’t try and be altruistic. I never mentioned sleeping with you. Terry wrung the gin out of the lace for Angela who snuffled gratefully. futile.” “Money’s worth! You grudging. for no apparent reason.” Theo was loudly surprised.” Slade grinned.” Theo butted in. “But Angie started off calling your Dad bad names.” he lit Angela’s cigarette. query. Angela snatched her cigarette away.” Angela’s voice-tremor was almost a sob now. “You just can’t see any woman without considering whether she’ll do a turn. brushing at himself. she dropped it into her gin. Theo put Slade’s. you are still my wife-. “Fiance here is more interested in defending Terry’s shoulder from some scrubby brat than your virtue from me. “Can’t you stick up for poor Angela. Slade laughed. now. Angela. “Don’t you try to old-times me. not me!” Terry hissed in the ear convoluted like Swiss roll.” “Now let’s not get hysterical about this.” “Now. Theo and Slade allowed themselves to be propelled towards the swing doors.” Slade acidly said. His mates looked up. Terry. Angela. his eyes slewing apologetically to Terry who was a regular. Now off with you-” Theo heaved Fishfinger against the bar and knocked beer dribbled down his Madras jacket amongst the stripes and squares. fiance? Whose virtue? If you think--” “For all he knows. let’s have it. I’m interested in getting my money’s worth tomorrow night. Slade. but the light in his eyes had got harder. Fishfinger muttered. “But why-but why--” he thickly stammered as he punched Slade here and there. “What do you mean. Louis Slade dear. and glowered darkly at Terry and slouched away. that’s what you are. and shook his head. do us favours. altruistic. head back and . remember your little girl’s present. What am I in your mind. “Let’s get things just that little straighter.legal.

” she said comfortably. just a bit un-subtle. The GS was really going. “Can you find me my keys. He’s hardly even mentioned that it’s obvious I’ve just gone back . Terry helped Angela off the bar stool. it’s a right old drag being at any kind of party. “Can’t open my car. The blossom billowed. All very fine. And he’s been trying to get me back some while. I know it might be better than usual. But you could tell Fishfinger was an L. every other pillion passenger with the wind up her skirt. “Take a turn. Finger. Hope I can slough off Fishfinger and nobble something nice. while he’d sit on the back and hold on sexy and make her lose balance while he thought it was hilarious to inch his hand under her sweaters.” “Thought you said as you’ve got the confidence in your own driving more than what you have in mine?” “Oh. Terry thought affectionately.tried to slip his keys down his collar. attack roundabouts before the cars first in turn. He might sort of appreciate me more than usual. Slade cursed. Theo’s keys went down with a jingle. with your steady. “No. Vast blue bat. Hope this thrilling houseboat party isn’t too dead phoney.” Theo said mildly. Terry?” he yelled kindly back at her. The shiny material kept suffering little belches in the wind. After all. Terry thought. Mr. thanks. A leather-beating bat ton-upped overhead. She slipped a few fingers in the open pocket of Fishfinger’s anorak. look at everyone elses’ nice fox-tails. keep on the crown of the road. you won’t kill us. flatten against the road when you corner and nearly scrape me toe-less in the process. Clouds frothed above the cherry trees. and he could leer at. boy. Hope we have a fair time when we get there. The sky is free-wheeling. Slade?” *** The sky wheeled overhead. Not arrogant and daring. seeing as how he’s got some loot off his big grand job I’ve heard every detail of forty times. luv. She’d exhaust herself between the handlebars and those daft Abacus strings of plastic bobbles whipping off his handlebars. even a seaside rave. Lovely driver you are. What a treat. Keeping up well with this Attila horde of yipping Mods on scooters scourging the motorway. he had removed his plates but they were still flapping fore and aft of the GS. Soppy little Fishfinger. The doors bumpbumped. even though they were invisible.

But he’s with Kathy. See where his finger’s all . when does Fishfinger ever know if a girl’s hair is really that colour? He’s easily impressed by anything new he doesn’t know about. the girl winked at Fishfinger in an extremely wide-awake way. the easy-to-examine girls round about.with him cos he’s all ill-gotten gains and a new GS. He’s got to show he doesn’t care. He looks a right ‘nana. I think he should be glad enough of a nice little change. The minute. for industrial use. what is a steady at a party except a sort of take-off base from which to gain your impetus as you try your wings with whatever you fancy new? You dress for the party. not for the steady. Beside you in the bus. She yelled into his ear. Terry thought. so that their clothes seem as much a part of them as their hair and he gets the impression fine. 11d. He shook his head irritably.” Fishfinger whistled the wind-stung knees. but we aren’t going to think about that are we? Don’t reckon Jeff’s soppy bird. So what can I see that I like? I like Bern there in front on his Tiger Cub. No good expecting your steady to pay any attention to you at a party. Besides.” Satisfied that she had no ulterior motive in asking about Jeff. of the girl behind Lennie as Lennie’s Lambretta passed. easily put off by anything he knows any details of. Unseen by Lennie. it’s not you he ogles but the birds opposite. I can’t always grab everything off the child. Look at those boots. nothing like That Boy of course. the colour of icing on a pink Lyons cake. Fishfinger told her. or in front of you on the scooter. he knows your blouse was 15s. Hair in a long crewcut. and she repeated more seductively: “What’s that bloke Jeff doing with us?” “Why?’ “He doesn’t seem to fit in. Terry closed up behind Fishfinger. I mean. “He’s in a factory that sharpens diamonds. creeper-winding her arms around him. He looks a right old rocker to me. But I know him. last Summer and your shampoo and set kept him waiting a half-hour. the instant I’m back going with him. I like that Jeff there. not the sort that goes in the sort of ring you’ll never get off me. Let Kathy keep something for a change. He doesn’t notice what you look like. to whom she clung with her face and bosom boring into his leather. The wind yanked at her voice. After all. he’s got to— “Pheeeee. and your shoe-strap is set underneath with Sellotape— he doesn’t know these truths about the mysteries around.

yeh. . Screams and candyfloss.” “Flash c . actually. But all the floral prints look like balloons this windy weather. and were very reluctantly brought to attention as the girls screamed and wailed. “Right. . And Fishfinger can have Jeff’s soppy bird since he thinks it’s such a darling.” Fishfinger agreed. “He reckons Lennie’s bird more--” which wasn’t. so the girls all look grandmothers and the grandmothers look pregnant. And cold light from a sun behind clouds grey as dental filling. You watch. VII Brighton looked as welcoming as a French town on a Sunday. or tight pants or anything) (or nothing) and as long as it smiled to make him feel wanted. “Do you like his bird?” “Right little darling. Terry thought.blistered from the furnace.” automatically replied Fishfinger to whom anything was a darling as long as it wore skirts (or tights. soon as Lennie parks his Lambretta. Pier. But wind what they call bracing in the brochures. Stamping their pins-and-needles back to life in their boots. Holidaymakers. untying their roadscarves to reveal their weekend sets and then hastily flappily knotting the scarves back on again. It’s Summer. I’ll get that Jeff away from that Lennie’s bird tonight. .” “He should wear scooter gloves. or looked haughty to make him try to feel wanted. you watch.” No. “Does Lennie’s Moira reckon Jeff?” “She’ll be off with him like a shot.” said Fred. . “Where’s the nearest boozer?” The boys all surged to follow him. “But he don’t reckon it much--” which was what Terry had wanted to hear. the girls stood whimpering into the wind while the boys parked their bikes. of course. A frozen grin of noonday.

ing houseboat. that is. All the times she swore she never would. would they? “Isn’t it funny.or she’s broken her rule. She smiled at Lennie’s bird’s look of bewildered offence-taken which swiftened into Hate.” they said in awe. “Oh. .” he yelled to his girl. I spose we better make along the pebbles and find this f .” Only the Jeff she’d picked out for herself quietly hopped from foot to foot as he walked with the crowd. . and socks too.“We’ve not come all the way down here just to go in some stinking smelly old pub we coulda gone in back home!” “All you think of till midnight is BEER.” Terry said. climbed over the promenade rail and picked his way with a grim satisfaction across the pebbles. “Come for a paddle. Once we’ve found the houseboat. Jeff!” begged the little Betty who had to walk all on her own without him. He wants Moira. More than Kathy usually gives. “What!” everyone else jeered. Bern still lumbering Kathy?” mused Lennie’s bird. falling behind with Terry as Fishfinger and Lennie marched ahead discussing important masculine technicalities like How much Brown and How much Light? “Don’t see why. I only mean. “Come on Betty. we’ll get the beer in on it.” They straggled along. “All right. “What about you.or they wouldn’t be together. fellers. isn’t she?” Terry said disdainfully. I wonder if--?” “Kathy isn’t like you. . “Let’s go on the beach.” His girl shuddered. “A choice of pneumonia or broken shoes. removed his chukkas. luv. either Kathy or Bern has broken their rules-. darlin’?” Fred said. Bern usually demands more than Kathy gives. Bern had his big arm round Kathy. Either he’s really keen-. Lennie and Moira?” he yelled then. She’s good enough for him. Quite smart blokes do like her. “He’s mad. Ho.” hollered Fred. Why doesn’t she look happier? He’s the best-looking bloke who’s ever taken any notice of her for more than a couple of dates.” “Can’t you wait that long. Lennie and Moira laughed at him. “Come back up here. most of them with arms entwined. Terry believed Fishfinger. but when they find she hardly plays at all they find someone as pretty and sweet who will. she’s nice. Bern isn’t the type generally to put up with her graces. Well.

Jeff. putting an arm about her. Owowow went Terry in her head. and once as she lurched he touched her up and she slapped his hand at once to show that she wasn’t that sort. His eyelashes were raggy. He responded readily. Gripping on the pebbles. she clambered over the rail and ran down to meet him. Then she realized she now thought of utter sexiness as a chill touch ready to be thawed by no emotion she had so far called to bear on it. saffron-nailed.She can’t be the only one without a boy’s arm for her. even teeth. but the pebbles were so uneven and ill-balanced and jutty and sharp and there was sticky tarooze. She almost turned back.” he said. Cinder-betty. But I’ll have him. So that’s why he didn’t look as Mod as the others. all right. “Isn’t it bumpy?” She exaggerated her difficulty with the pebbles so that she could keep losing balance and clutching him. and slivers of broken bottle. Sod this for a lark mate. and smiled up at Jeff. as her feet were bare under ski-pants. “Terry!” Fishfinger turned from his important manly discussion. . You shall go to the ball. The instep-strap of her ski-pants must be filthy already. her prize.” she dared him. At first she didn’t know what disappointed her about his touch. with tiny round glaring eyes. He had such small. You can have Fishfinger. And he laughed and he had the nerve to touch her. “We’re the only ones with a spark of adventure in us. Terry thought kindly. Nice accent. “Let’s paddle. “I’ll join you. He put out a hand to steady her. Jeff’s smile of surprise and admiration was getting nearer as he stood waiting for her under his crewcut. They continued to walk hand in hand. his toes were long and loose and corned as beef. and slithers of seaweed. As her reward. and slinging off her shoes. But getting nearer ruddy slowly. And I only launderetted and ironed them last night. Educated. And Lennie’s bird Moira was a white little oval of face up there among the others. I don’t really want him. like a donkey’s.” Terry called. She had no stockings to ladder. Just fancy. It was male. But Betty was with Fishfinger who doubtless thought he was showing Terry she couldn’t ditch him with impunity and expect him not to get together with a plump giggly bosomy little darling like Betty. Close to he was less enthralling. But she swung her shoes by their laces. The in-step of her ski-pants must be filthy already. His hand was warm. Just to upset that Moira.

Most of the girls were wearing skirts. Stew?” Terry asked as Stewart swung her off the ladder-foot. Because the ones who were really doing it for experience were the ones who swore blind they needed the bread. they’re like weak iced coffee or something equally vile.” Stewart said cheerfully. “Look! Look! There’s the houseboat.” “Just don’t think of that. He pointed to the friendly plank which spanned the wallow of waves. “Those creepy-crawly waves. because they reckoned them more fetching on a windy scooter.” One by one. “No. a laughing scamper in the wavelets and creamy spurls of froth (just like on coffee) and the tar and the floating cans. and led from the beach to a big flat rock which in turn led to the dangle of rope ladder. “The ropes’ll hold it clear. Jeff looked up with an Esquire smirk. hang on. all rusty rungs. Quite some yards of heaving wet separated them from their neighbours.” Terry said.” There were few other boats anyway. flattering. and though Terry would swear he couldn’t see more than murk-obscured stocking-tops. the others spidered from the wharf to the deck via a perpendicular metal ladder. so you didn’t suspect them of slumming. then down like the others. I can’t move away-there’s no other mooring-space with rings.” Jeff said. “We’ll watch the others descend first. “Welcome aboard!” Stewart cried from his deck. Rugged I may be. he started Ho-ho-ing and making sly remarks. a few ropes green with rot (and any minute about to snap) attaching it to a few immense rings rusted into the wall above the big grey of the sea. so they could look like they were having a fab time to the walkers above.” She wanted to needle him into a paddle.” “What’s an educated intellectual like you doing in a diamond factory?” That would show she’d done some research on him.” he said lightly. it must be!” It rocked ickily against an outcrop of harbour wharf. “Let’s not go over that beastly plank. “But they could break any time.” “Doesn’t your boat ever get too near that rock in rough sea. you can see.” he cravened out. “I freely admit it. but not Spartan. near here. so she knew he must have failed all sorts of exams. look.” “Chicken. “I’m doing it for experience. .“I’m not that mad. and clanging nastily. “We’ll climb up. with many protests and much dismay.

she don’t get wages.” Kathy said. The girls stayed behind packing the length of the cabin almost solid. The other girls. but Bern turned Kathy to his chest and cuddled her on his knee. But none of them made a move to hand in money. “Have you all brought your whips like good children?” said Stewart who was 21 but looked avuncular through his beard. “After all. The boys trooped loudly off with Stewart to collect the drink. and I only drink just tomato juices. Terry thought. “All the way to Brighton. stepped’ forward with 15s. “You can have ten bob off of me.” She stepped back with a halo shimmering over her shingle. dear. . The boys all counted in their pound each. feeling murderous. No one’s boyfriend dared to agree with Fred.” What about me. so Terry. “and might as well have stayed home. Then Moira said. rocking the Pernod-green Kathy on his lap. and Fishfinger who was with Betty. *** It was after closing-time when all the boys eventually returned and they brought with them Brighton girls who’d been on their own in the pub. I’ll put in half a bar for Kathy. The Brighton girls clambered down the ladder far more expert than the London boys (though all were equally giggly and ebullient and wobbly after the pub) and you could tell they were used to being invited to parties by almost every gang of visitors. luv?” Terry ran to see to Kathy. however. they’re going to have their vodkas and gins aren’t they eh?” The girls all looked either outraged or guilty.” sighed Fred’s girlfriend. There was the usual Fredsuggestion that the girls pay too.” Jeff had returned ages before. Lots of them greeted Stewart as an old friend. “Here. and Bern said. continued to look mutinous. in time for the sausages. who was with Moira. she’s only at school. He claimed he had been a snakein-the-bosom companion of Royston Ellis in Royston’s Brighton prime. and Bern stayed too. But so had Lennie. pulling out their combs and mirrors and lacquer spray the instant the boys were gone.“Oh. Not even a Tunnel of Love ride or a rotten old icecream. poking each other with their right-angled elbows. “Do you feel sick.

Lennie was being his loveliest to her so she shouldn’t feel bowled over by Jeff. At first she suffered this. Something in his babyhood had made him twisted and misunderstood and mixed-up. Any sympathy from any boy was a kind of scalp in one-upmanship for her.” said Fishfinger’s voice. “Why aren’t you over with us? We’re finding Luxembourg on the transistor.. the burning sausage fumes. Fishfinger tenderly smoothed her brow. She knew it was a boy because of the Old Spice. and seemed almost to have forgotten Terry. she knew he had. But her distaste of Fishfinger presently made her jerk her head free. “I’ll get it open. Well. She loathed having him near. she wanted Jeff who had yet to become a conquest.” she said in a pathetic voice. She tried to open one of the windows. She would understand him. That was all. and roars of laughter at the quips getting cruder and so louder. She could lead him back to the even more delicious paths of normality. He hadn’t really been licking and sucking it. She’d had enough of him. The seasmell and seadarkness rustled in.Betty was now officially with Jeff again. His mother had never properly understood him. the sweat. .” “I have a headache. the mingling scents and Old Spice. Moira’s eyes were glittering with popularity. though Fishfinger kept pinching her waist and chucking her under the chin. Poor little blond pervert. Or her Boy. “Ta. Jeff. She leaned her forehead against the pane as though to cool it. There’ll be dancing in a minute. she willed. there was something in his background that accounted for it. Jeff kept poking sausages at Moira and laughing. and the alcohol-weighted breath were bashing a headache into Terry’s head quite apart from the giggles. though the waft of sea had eased the taut feeling. he now seemed an irritant like gravel against her.” she said shortly. screams. The fag smoke. She couldn’t stand his touching her now. Fishfinger had felt it. Someone came up behind her. He banged at the little window. the incense Stewart had kinkily lighted under the stern. Oh. Fishfinger’s blood breaking from the jaw-wound had just got on The Boy’s face that night on that other boat. and told her.

He was back on his own ground again. “just a little one. They were being remarkably demure and head-ducking. the party swung circle as she looked to locate Jeff again. “You’re the cow . Bern was paying compliments in a long stream to Kathy. “The local talent is a whole lot better than our lumber.” “So the lady don’t want a nasty crude scene? I’ll make a darling scene if I feel like I want to. But Jeff was not among the prizes for the locals tonight. “Just do a little memory-trick. and at her other side Lennie was hanging on grimly. “Stop messing round me!” He looked stricken. I used to think. “You’re not even listening to me. whom they suspected as ominous. She didn’t even pretend attention to Fishfinger who carried on being tense and rather desperate beside her. And their smiles. then venomous. “You’re a whine and a bully. attempting to. and had been found in a pub anyway and easily persuaded (with many reassurances of safety and promises of protection) to. the younger and noisier ones who said this religiously every time there was a rave outside their usual stamping-ground. more than once. “And of all the snotty cows I’ve been out with. because after all the London girls were sort of hostesses of the party and mustn’t notice that their guests were also thieves.” said Fred and several of the London boys. though lilting promise to the boys. You’ve begged me.” Fishfinger said in a low Billy Fury growl.” But no amount of yelling. her nipples lifted. Her hair-roots scorched. So they had their image to think of.” Fishfinger’s voice was an odd combo which she presently analysed as a bullying whine. Terry looked round.” he said. all under. swaying her gently as if he were a rocking-chair. to do a good deal more than that. More than once you’ve been on your knees for it. ‘come back to the boat. Terry herself could feel the Whisky Macs flaming through her like bush-fire. He was inching nearer and nearer to Moira. The Brighton girls were country girls compared to this lot.” He was pleased. the guise of animated party-talk.“You aren’t half moony these days. massage her bra peaks. The London girls were making up for the quiet threat of the locals. Swopping insults was more than half of the entire conversation of their entire association.” “Don’t make a scene. eh. were shy and deferential to the girls.” he sneered. by yelling and screaming and flinging arms and legs wide whenever they sat or walked or talked. Like the Blackwall Tunnel. could have impinged on the party as it was. not even of obscenities.

“Can she swim?” Kathy asked timidly. now began again to fill. Up the companionway. his mouth forgetting to click closed. He probably thought this sexy job would incite her. she walked over to Jeff. The cabin. exerting herself to the full. “Towel me. Splashes and gurgles and imprecations and now the boys started stripping off and diving in. two strides across the deck and into the water. . now looked all suave and sophisticated by the shivering tousle-topped bodies. The hand-towel he handed her was limp and ragged and said HOTEL METROPOLE and several other people had already dried themselves on it. Hurled into the sparkling blue mist.” Bern growled. buried her face in Bern’s shoulder. Jeff. Kathy. Three or four minutes in was enough for everybody. Fishfinger stopped in mid insult. Wasn’t his much smaller than the other boys’? How could she have? Had she ever really been excited about this capering idiot? Without bothering even to say “Dry yourself. “Mind the rock--” Betty cried. So the boy she’d set her sights on now grabbed round her under her armpits. A wet bent head-top flanked by a pair of wet carrot-colour ears and a pair of eaudenil shoulders with water-drops and goose-pimples indistinguishable from each other. Terry knew she’d never before seen a boy without clothes on. Sea water sputtered everywhere. For a moment Terry regarded the gay sputtering daredevil before her. There was a sudden hush. lugged her up the brief companionway. With whoops and yells. Fishfinger turned from Terry with a false yell and also galloped off to show how he enjoyed what would have been torture to lesser males. as though sleepy or still sick. Naked boys and shine-clothed mermaids rushed in roaring for towels. had progressed from flirting to showing-off and thence to fullscale needling. “You’ll all catch bronchitis. brushing drops off Kathy. “Sea’s warmer at night. ‘n it?” some fool said.” reluctant to soil her voice by allowing it to enter his wet carrot ears. who had been called Chicken by Moira for not joining the divers. “Watch it.fancies herself the most. suddenly breathable.” One of the London girls. girl after girl was passed kicking and struggling from hand to willing hand. appeared in front of Terry.” Stew indulgently remarked.” Fishfinger invited.

” he said in a suggestive growl. If only to impress Moira. Moira and Lennie each took one. As she followed Jeff off to the dark farther end of the cabin. . Miss Slade. was pulling on his trousers. iog walk back. so my valuable fags are going for nothing. he guided her up the companion-way. Terry thought. “Oh. . “They’re drowning the sausages with this shower of spatters…” Terry observed.” Fishfinger struggled within himself. Jeff replied to Terry in the same light intellectual tone.” Jeff used the time-honoured phrase as if they were at any party in any house. Jeff didn’t smoke. “Immature horseplay.“It’s like being in the statues museum at the Tate. with the gas-ring and the lower beams. Terry thought. Terry thought. she threw a friendly farewell glance over her shoulder at Lennie and Moira. “Let’s get out of here. “Or the Elgin marbles. just tell me whose petrol you came down on? You’re not using it on the way back. we’d better rescue the sausages. But she’d chosen the right line.” Jeff said to Fishfinger as he saw Terry’s look of dismay.” he said. Easy. knocking Moira’s hand off his knee.” “If you take Betty. “I suppose they’re all enjoying their little selves. “I’ll be glad to take Betts.” worldwearily sneered Terry who had heard Moira urging Jeff to join them. How was sbe to know they weren’t an integrated couple like everyone else? Fishfinger. He’d said such a lot to Terry about Betty being a darling. “I’ll take Terry. Jeff jumped up. And he knows it. genuinely amused. Just sulky and furious and waiting for Terry to push off.) “Here.” Jeff again matched her tone. He confronted Terry and Jeff who looked all dry and neat. Moira looked up at her with a basilisk-look. . His arm snaking Terry. who’d had to dry himself. He can’t very well say he’ll leave her to walk rather than cling round his waist homeward. Terry offered her a cigarette. You can f .” Moira didn’t look impressed. isn’t it?” Terry remarked and arnusedly offered him a cigarette. But he’s the loser. (Like vodka.

Still. *** Terry couldn’t keep her eyes closed any longer. She could also smell Jeff. or anything. It wasn’t that he was too sweaty. The Brighton girls. I think I know that face-but from where? The face was set. feet. had looked extra appetising to the emerged divers. He just had the wrong smell. so Terry had been certain of nothing. She felt the rungs sway past her hand each time she reached. rungs. Once more they rail-clambered.On deck. it’s the wrong texture. stop as it passed-. eh?” Entwined. some midnight moper. from below. started rather familiarly assisting her up the perpendicular iron ladder. Now they were reaping what they’d prettily sowed. His arm is the wrong weight. The pebbles were like Everests under her spine. I can’t run my fingers through his hair. She was astonished to find she was at top on the wharf. The figure strode on-. he’s my spoils of war. they began to sway to a quieter stretch of beach. As they prepared to seat themselves. who’d been striding alone up the shore. the Brighton girls still had dry blouses and dry perms.dark against the stars. A dazzle occupied her till she had lick-fingered and scraped her eyes clear of blindness. heavy as a side of beef at every point he touched on her. “We managed that rather well. They also had time to towel and tease the heroes.and turn on Jeff and Terry a long white face framed in even longer black hair. The sea showshowed like continuous distant rain. there was hardly foot-space between the horizontal pairs. too respected and cherished to be chucked in the water. She opened directly into the sun. She couldn’t co-ordinate hands. did Terry realise she was drunk. think of Moira and I won’t find him too distasteful. She could smell the morning sea. Jeff breathed moistly into her neck. but the hand raised as in benediction. They found a pebble-patch actually with some sand in it. The stars struck little whirples and whorls of tinsel off the waves and pebbles where they met and stirred and sucked each other. Unlike the London victims. Only when Jeff. Last night she’d been . instead of having to get out of their own drips of garment. “Isn’t it romantic?” sighed Jeff as they sank together. Terry saw or thought she saw the dark figure.

with an eager expression. Jeff smelt sweetish. And he was away for the weekend just as Betty’d been-. “Ah. eh. More sausages? Jeff had grown some fluff on his chin.” he said. Musta been one of the Brighton birds. The atmosphere in here was pretty sour. There was the boat. “The Brighton girls left before morning. It wasn’t her idea of the sexy boy-smell.” Bern said placatory. How far away their shoes were. Fishfinger took care to handle her a bit. In front they were sticky where Jeff had come. behind they were sticky with beachtar. “No. Not usually. Terry could still hear them when they stopped together before the traffic lights went turquoise. He laid a hushabye hand on Kathy’s hair and took her on his knee and this time he was more a swinging hammock than a rocker chair. “Seems a shame to mess up her father’s place. Betty clicked sympathy. carried round cups of China tea in cups my gosh the stupid child she’s using Crown Derby on us. She’d tried to Quickie them without success. as he helped her on. proud of her new bright friends. Smoke. some smelt sweetish. It turned out Betty’s father was a Hadey Street surgeon who’d have thought it. She glanced down at the legs of her slacks. “Three f. Or Bern.” Kathy said. . Lennie’s me mate and he was with Moira. yeh.too whiskeyfied to notice. . intrinsically. “So we can’t go anywhere without lousing it up. hush.” Betty remarked. ing quid lifted outa me pocket while I was having that dip.and they parked the scooters and the Tiger Cub in a long travel-grimed line along the sunny dean kerb. Signs of life. Fishfinger kept grumbling. Other girls might find it lovely. Some boys smelt skin-salt. and Jeff was there while we was gone. Not Lennie. She barely touched him. Terry wearily got on behind Jeff. Betty clambered on behind Fishfinger.” Bern demanded with a sardonic glance. even when he revved to outpace the others. Everyone’s girlfriend was still sulking . it’s so nice:’ Kathy said as Betty. *** The bikes kicked into life. Oh.

” Kathy said. I do--” Terry cried. for heavensake. This’ll be softer.” Jeff was hurt.after last night. How many times had he said this and made Betty giggle? Bern came in with Kathy. “My slacks are orrible.” Terry said gladly. “This whole orgy’s been a bore from start to finish. and you should see the marks on my back.” Jeff said. fuss. “Terry.” “The pebbles.” Terry said. nit.” “You still feel seasick. Terry giggled dutifully. “This is where the abortions bring the un-stated income of Betty’s papa sky-high. “Oh. you’re like my aunt. Jeff took Terry exploring. “Oh.” “Even when Lennie got entangled with that lorry on the way home? And his . He tried to lead Terry to the couch.” “I want to go home.” Bern brought Kathy a glass of Betty’s milk.” “Oh. “I poured it from the top of a new bottle. “How’s about you and me and a consultation on the couch?” Jeff said roguishly. apparently decided they wouldn’t object to non-privacy. Terry thought behind the beam she couldn’t keep off her face.” he said all motherly.” “I don’t mind. He’s renewed my faith in human nature. Which is nice-. did you expect to be on your own? We’ll go back in--” “No. you gallant git. come on. give over. “You were keen enough last night. watching Bern and Kathy rubbing noses over the sharing of the milk. Terry.” “Maybe. He showed her the consulting room with its rococo couch and its French windows and shimmer of instruments. my love.” “I didn’t scratch or anything. sweetheart?” “Fuss. “Bern just brought me for some cool and quiet. He’s adorable to Kathy.” “Oh. “Hi.” Terry cried.whether or not he’s getting something from her… Jeff. no.

“Shall we collect our bags. “That was too nasty to be exciting. He’s really looking after our Kathy. no pawing me behind Kathy’s back. had caught her stiletto in the groove of the escalator. Terry was finding him obstreperous and a bore. I’ll tube.handlebar was ‘caught in the lorry backflap as they both cornered the roundabout.” said Terry. The other passengers looked at him with apprehensive disgust. waited for her to right herself. “There’s no need for you to come. into the glass the milk had been in.really has.” said Bern. He teally has restored my faith in human nature.” “You two go on Bern’s Tiger. on that silly boat. “Bern can only take one on the back anyway. “I’ll come back for the bike some time. he tried to ride the moving banister. He was pouring some of Betty’s father’s champagne. and over. and tumbled. And not a wink at me. He put his foot in the door to try and stop it shutting. He swung from the strap in the tube. and we all thought he’d bought it?” Jeff recited with relish what they’d all seen anyway. Terry?” “Off you go.” He’s a real Iuv. Kathy. girls. Terry thought. Down.” “We’ll all tube. She lost balance. and over again.” Jeff shrugged.” Kathy insisted. she rolled a descent of the upward gliding machinery while Londoners ascending in a queue the other side of the same steps stepped smartly out of her way. he. and tried to raise himself by his arms to the ceiling bar over the sliding door. *** The party spirit still glowed in Bern. He toasted their going. Kathy. then. and stared blankly when she didn’t. no hands round my shoulders as he helps me on with my jacket. “I’ll stay here.” Bern said.” “I’ll see you home. and it dragged him along at 49. with a sharp cry. clutched at an ad of a slim smiling lady in an unnecessary corset-cage for outsize figures. “Help her! Help her!” Terry cried in a panic. “So long.” Kathy stood up. Then her heart nearly stopped. He was nonchalant. Some people know how to enjoy themselves. So did Kathy.” said Jeff who was still there. Escalating. from Betty’s father’s cocktail cabinet. So sweet to Kathy. and felt her face must be jet- .” “I want to go home to bed. You and Bern stay. if you don’t mind. I just couldn’t. He’s my little goodbye present to Moira. “I couldn’t sleep last night.

But it’s a fast escalator and she can’t— A gentleman reached over from an adjacent staircase and tried to hook her with his umbrella handle but was borne gliding away. Bern’s face was white. they could both have sworn something flew out of the open window. “He’s all right. They all think she’s sure to regain balance at this step.” Terry said.black with fury as not one middle-aged gentleman did more than stretch a tentative hand to the terrified child.” Terry accused. and made progress. you’re hardly sloshed are you.” he said. Kathy nodded mutely. “You’re both too whacked even for coffee. “I won’t come up. Kathy was whimpering. Later they clubbed.” “Nor drink too much.” *** They pubbed. “Isn’t he nice?” echoed the narrow walls. “You left the window wide. two at a time as the steps moved up. He was really scared for her. we’d have a lake instead of lino by now. He reached her before she reached the bottom. luv. Bless old Bern.” . Little cuts.” Bern said. Shredded stockings. What a tramp I look. He’s really shaken. and scampered down the neighbouring one. Beddybyes.” “Isn’t he nice?” Terry said as they climbed the stairs. “At least he didn’t make me dance in those clubs. “All right.” Kathy mumbled. “It could have poured. you can change first. Later still Bern left them at their front door. Terry reached the top. Bern bounded down after Kathy. “Are you all right? Are you?” Terry demanded. “Come lets have a drink. “Sure? Are you sure?” “Only bruises. babies. which smelt cold and stale after two days’ nonhabitation. she thought.” “We’re twins then.” As they entered their room.

One of the Market cross-currents caught them up and shoulder to shoulder with millions of other people well scores. “Here. it was just like the incident last week on the escalators. after all. eh? Hahah.” grunted Fred who’d not even had time to pay for it before he was shouldered away into the marker maelstrom. How can he? In the same arms Angela’s been in. I always wanted a sprig o’ lucky heather forced on me free. “when are we going to share another pub night?” Terry avoided the stare of the woman with Theo-. “Ho well. the zebra-blonde gazing quite piteously at Terry to see what she had she hadn’t. ducks--” said Thea as they were carried inexorably towards each other soon to pass and part just as inexorably. Time for bed.“It must have been you. Bern was in front.m. .seems we can’t be sociable at the moment. Terry-. twotone. Silly sausage.” Kathy replied. so everyone splashed their faces with cold warer. each member of the crowd equally helpless and each equally responsible for the packed shoulder-serum. and Terry wondered at it and then thought Quarrel. long perm like corrugated chrome. But wear this till next time--You’ll have to thank me for it.” *** The Saturday night party lasted into Sunday a. doesn’t know when she’s got a boy out of the box. primtose from the ends. I wish Slade had flattened him.shiny blue plastic mack. “Wish it had of been something more valuable. and drifted off to Petticoat Lane. and Kathy kept shaking off his arm. they were pushed down a side-road they’d no intention of traversing. “Here.” “Terry! Hey! Terry!” a jolly voice was shouting. complete strangers smiling and shrugging at each other. “it’s dawn leaking over the dew now. “Anyway. handed something and grabbed something. black from the roots. Over intervening heads. “Theo!” But she couldn’t get out of the crush and slowly they were being borne past each other. he passed a package to Terry.” Terry leaned out. Theo said something to a stall-holder he was passing. except now their feet were hardly touching the ground.” And the crowd swayed them past.

” “A month! Why. Hadn’t you better go and see a doctor about that one in a million chance?” “I’m scared to go to our GP. luv.” “Go to one of those confidential clinics they advertise in public loos.” Kathy said wretchedly. *** “Kathy. you’re welcome. I mean. I haven’t started yet.” Kathy mumbled. That settles it.” “Blimey. if you’re worried. Terry. . it doesn’t. you’re late. I’ll chuck it in a drawer and forget it. I mean. I just think it’s been near me.” “It’s pretty. aren’t you?” Terry trotted back from the loo. that means-” “No. I might be making myself late by worrying so hard. glinting in your keyhole blouse. you know. I think I am still what is called technically virgin. I don’t need mine at all. luv? I know yours are a different kind from mine.” “Crucifix. I think there’s a million to one chance it might have happened.” “Oh. you all right?” “I don’t know.” “Go to a hospital.” Fred advised. I keep just waiting and hoping it’ll be all right. wear it.” Bern said.” Terry groaned. Kathy. “A month actually. “Nice little crucifix.” “That’s for VD!” Kathy wailed.” Kathy managed to turn to watch. can I have a lend of one of yours. “You know how Presbyterian she is. I just couldn’t face telling her. Fred thinks it’s got class. But I’m afraid I didn’t get any in ready and now I’ve started.” “That’s why you’ve been so quiet and snappy lately! But. “to be honest. Not for certain. “Worth a couple o’ nicker. my love.” “They won’t take you with out a letter from your GP. goes with your gear. “anyone would think I was fervent or something.” “Well. I just couldn’t.“Open it. Oh.

Within moments her eyelids had puffed and she could see . I won’t get you them till you’ve been to the clinic in case you’re worrying yourself for nothing. But it--” Terry felt stiff with fury. she thought to say something. God. if I have it. It’s Bern. who is the bastard? Do I know him?” “Oh. metal.“But once you’re there. my Kathy--” “Oh. Terry. if you say you’re probably-” “I didn’t say intact. Take the day off school and go tomorrow. so awful. “You’re the Iast Iuv I’d’ve wanted this thing to happen to. Terry. You haven’t had all the desperarion and praying. I feel so awful.” “Kathy. You don’t know how to look after yourself.I think they’ve got filings or something in them. It’s all my fault.” Terry stared blankly.” “Kathy. What shall I do if the Clinic says I am?” “I’ll get you some pills.” “I’m not boasting. Terry. what?. for heavensake. I’m just still technically virgin. I can’t. Terry. You never mixed with callous little beasts till your aunt said you could come and share with me. isn’t it?” “I can’t tell you. You’ve left it too late to just take Salts. it’ll be your brother or sister. I can’t. darling. you’re just talking nonsense because you’re under such a strain--” “Must you keep on talking down to me?” “I’m bloody not--” “Oh. you only have to say you’re worried stiff and they’ll examine you in strict confidence. You’re OK Jack aren’t you. Stop trying to make out I’m some infant in arms and you’re a femme fatale of the Big City. and they scrape you inside and--” “Oh. You’ll never forgive me. Then she started blubbering. I expect you’re all right. You can afford to sit back and be patronising. and the tears were rolling down her face and chin like grease. But I don’t want to get you those pills ‘less I have to-.” “Don’t be so high and mighty.” “I do then? Don’t bother protecting his name. She opened her mouth. honey--I just--” “Don’t bloody honey me. It’s my fault. God.” “Forgive you? Oh. you know.

for three. “Oh. He’s the most important thing in your life. “I was sure it must be Bern--” it still might be if I suppose hard enough? “No. This is an Aspro. please please God forgive me-” “Forgive you? Oh. Terry rocked back and forwards. you love him.I mean. I was ashamed because I was wearing my school uniform bloomers--” Choking. He says it’s important to space them out. In the box was an envelope. nothing will.” “When did you have the last one?” “I’m having the last one tomorrow. Then she crouched and fished under her bed and pulled out a scarf folded round a little box. Kathy cradled Terry. gulping. did I? How could I know he was like that?” “He didn’t really-. their throats aching too fiercely to permit words out.Kathy only as a spark-shot blur. In the envelope was a packet of tissue paper. they clung together facing an end to personality and to the world. he’s just been getting me pills. the last nudity. Rather as though it might explode if handled. Haven’t they done anything?” “I gave him all my savings. But they haven’t done a thing.I don’t know why.” . Terry. I didn’t say when you offered to just a minute ago-. he’s filth. He said he’d cut the price right down for me.” “I didn’t know. I didn’t want to anyway. I suppose.still a bit of the A and the O. I hate him. she placed it in Terry’s palm.” “Let me see it. So ashamed. Terry. And he says if they don’t work— oh. You can see where he’s filed off the word on the top of the pill-. he’s vile. oh my Kathy how could he?” “No. “How much did he charge you for the three?” Terry asked. I’m sorry-I’m sorry. She unwreathed the tissue paper from round a white pill.” “Did he warn you to say Abracadabra before you take it?” “What--” “Kathy.” Kathy’s lip trembled as if revealing the actual pill would be the last humiliation. “Ten pounds.” “He has? The good boy.

” Kathy said reproachfully. hungry for dates. I like him. “See you. If only I’d had the sense to talk to you. he’ll be waiting-. He is. What good can his knowing do?” “He’ll realise he’s wrecked a life. I dragged you into all this. that much.with Lew--” “After-. And half. I’ll tell you if you like. I don’t want to leave him waiting by the station. I know what I’m doing. you’d still drag a Kleenex over your face with your burning arm.if then. Kathy looked at the dock. sentimentally and sloshily. and tell you things. I sleep with someone practically every month. He didn’t want to hurt me.” Terry said. He’ll buy it any way he can-. because you’d think you could get away with it. properly..he said he’d wait outside the station--” “If you were in hell. Often I mean not to.soft centres. really. with an automatic gesture dragged a Kleenex over her sodden swollen unrecognisable face.” Kathy said quietly. and dab on some scorched pancake. “Oh. As sort of promiscuous but pure. not till I know-. “Nor even. “It’s girls like you. But there it is. thinking I’m an irresponsible youngster who’s found someone of her own age and is tired of the old man even though he has got a car with a hood.” “That’s good?” Kathy walked out. for affection. I’m not blaming you.” “No. But I know what I’m doing. “Oh-. Only.” “I’m not hungry for dates. Terry. Bur an even stronger and . He doesn’t know I’m scared. and there was a date waiting. brazil nut-centres.” “Can’t he even call for you from here?” “He was afraid you’d get suspicious. of pitchforking you into a life you’re not the sort to cope with. I was so scared of shocking you. He adores affection. Don’t hate anyone--” “Promise me you’ll tell him tonight. or truffles.” “And shouldn’t I? Shouldn’t I?” Kathy buttoned her gaiters.Kathy’s eyes were dead. Terry thought she’d hardly registered this new development. who get in the trouble. wouldn’t you?” “Terry.I’ll be late--” “Where in heck are you going?” “Out-. of spoiling your image of me. And half. Terry had an impulse to jump up and kiss her. selfishly.this--?” “Oh. no.

Terry? I hope you’re not washing your hair. She heard Kathy’s little heels click down the stairs. Then she thought. busy with homework. Not quite two hours later. She stared blankly into the bland visitor-smile under the crisp bouffant of hair. who’s come all the way on the bus in the Summer chill?” “All right. She is smarming. At first she didn’t recognise the smart young woman between the peeling pillars of the porch. gripping the banister. Up the cornering flights again. he was going to see your Mum the other night. I’m afraid--” “Oh. of course.as they seem to. the shrill of the bell raised Terry’s face out of the cushion.” She remarked eagerly on the wall pin-ups. After all. still not many more than five years Terry’s senior. that’s what you’ll always be calling me. I still haven’t heard how it went--” . “What if it’s an ambulance? Or Angela. that makes it look the more lived-in. like an old invalid’s. it suits you. I understand you have quite an influence with your Mum. Miss.” Sampson accepted a cup of coffee “as long as you’re sure it’s no trouble.” “Well. “Terry. Out of school. radiating girlish enthusiasm. She was making it clear she was still young.” “Please call me Muriel. don’t worry. no. Terry. or anything?” “No. Sampson exclaiming as they entered “Oh what a cosy little cave you’ve got!” “Bit untidy.” Simper then. well. not always a teacher. her knees about to give at every step.” Terry said with an inflexion Sampson couldn’t have noticed. I’m coming. your Dad told me. At first she refused to answer.“Miss Sampson!” “Can I come in. not always in authority. “Terry. I’m coming. Terry.” “My mother and I are quite good friends.” “That’s hard.” She spidered down the stairs. I’ve come about a personal matter.as they quite likely-. if things go as-.I don’t want you to think of me as your reacher at all.suddener physical loathing of Kathy made her realise she couldn’t have touched her father’s work. I don’t-. Then she said-.

I can’t blame her. You’ll find that as you mature. a woman who has once loved a man and worn his ring--” “You appear. “My mother contacted my father to ask him for a divorce. Lots of people say teenagers should be ready right away for lasting relationships.” . Terry.and then Daddy’ll be free.” “Oh. it needs it. is that what she’s told you? Hurt pride. I mean to say. “can you prevail on Mummy to give Daddy up-.” “He doesn’t think. Lew told me--” “I gather what Slade told you. I mean?” I suppose Slade calls it a ‘vivacious’ voice. Sampson twirled the coy whimsical bunny-fur pompoms on her gloves. somehow.after all they haven’t been what you could call man and wife for what is it a decade-. what they were meeting about. you may feel mere’s nothing to compare with sweeping infatuation that prickles you like little hot’ n cold pins. with her coat. have you? I mean. Nonsense. I was just wondering. you mean?” Terry said. Daddy and I simply find we are honest friends. “Daddy intends to marry me. I suppose even now she doesn’t want to appear unwanted by Daddy. though of course I am nearer your age than I am Lew’s. you haven’t really had a real Mum of your own for years. there’s no relationship to compare with real friendship.” Sampson said all confidential. that she’ll give him one. And that’s as it should be for a young teenager. She obviously wants to cling on. of course. After all. Really. which always sounded as if it could get quite hearty and crude at any minute if it weren’t for the habit of gentility. dear. to have got rather a garbled version from someone or other. It could be ever so much fun. really.” there was a girls together lilt in Sampson’s admittedly pretty voice. let’s not get all sort of traditional and conventional about this-but. she still wore because Terry hadn’t offered to take them from her. Excitement is what youth thrives on-when it’s immature. And needles. As a man should. though. “My father was discussing a divorce with my mother.” “To offer a decent girl the life any girl has a right to expect.” “So. I won’t say the usual things about being more a sister than a step-ma.“Haven’t you?” “Your Dad told me. Terry. “Why do you want to marry Slade? Are you pregnant?” “Terry. Terry. which.” Terry said bland. Off-duty voice. Terry. At the moment.

All like you say. The calves pudged out her stretch-slacks that were cut tapered which meant they were triangular at the thigh. There’s nothing Lew and I can’t tell to each other. You were just made for each other. But you’ll like being married to my father. “So. If you .” Sampson crossed the thin legs with the welldeveloped calves Slade always called sexual. and he’ll be a father for me. watching her face light up when he gives her chocolates. I’d be only too glad. not good enough for him. I’ll do all I can to get you hitched to each other. Terry. yes.” “It’s all my father’s business. You’re just the type he needs. what can a child think she holds for Lew? He’s just amusing himself. to emphasise her girlishness. Her gaze kept flickering to it and shying from it. yes. He’s gone through life admiring nice girls. And he’ll value you. Angela is my mother. I’m sure Angela would say so. When their fathers talk of you know remarriage.” “I don’t think Angela can be bothered with him anyway. if you could just mention to Mummy--” “Oh. but I suppose she’s taking it all so seriously. “But. He doesn’t like the other sort. You’re a nice girl. and that’s what Slade’s always admired. I know. Miss Sampson.” “Well--” “Oh. Miss. what can I say.” Terry became aware that Sampson was fascinated by a portion of empty space in the room. You’re welcome to my father. He’s considerate and thoughtful. Mature. To be honest. it’s to Angela’s advantage to be free of my father. I don’t want my father to go back with Angela. Well-balanced. He’s so mature. I mean. I know he’s been going around a bit with that silly little Kathy.“You don’t find Slade exciting?” “I find his company exciting. Faithful.” “Why. Miss Sampson. He’s so affectionate. I will do all I can to point out to Angela how much to her advantage it is to leave Slade to you. none of mine. so balanced. Terry could imagine her. gaily slyly choosing slacks to visit Terry in. aren’t you.” “That’s nice. I thought you might resent me because I’m taking Lew’s interest completely away from our Kathy.” Terry said sweetly. I know such a sensible girl as you are for your age won’t mind me calling your room-mate silly. Terry? So many daughters are you know jealous. I really think you’ll have just the life you deserve with Slade.” “Oh. an awfully nice cosy sort of man. that’s all right. Angela can do much better now that she’s older and warmer and more experienced. She’s got a much more interesting offer from a boxing promoter. and rich and kind.” “I find his mind so exciting.

The mote-beam became The Boy. who would have ordered Terry to the headmistress if she smoked in school. “You’re mine and I want you. “Neither of you is dreaming. Please. Terry--?” asked the democratic Sampson. He turned towards Terry. but got muddled.” “I am un-dead. leather gleaming. Presently the mote-beam became corporeal. nothing.a pervert. gleaming in that horrible reality.” Sampson gibbered slightly. I distressed you by controlling myself. as of a sunbeam shimmering and growing in the electric-lit room.” Terry said. The night on the water told me you wanted me. “How did you-. Your roof is my roof. Sampson started glugging.” the apparition stated. He kissed them. . and then she blinked and winced and made no move to her Olivier. I have the entree. it was a gathering disturbance.looked straight there. My control snapped. I can come to you any time. .” “I thought you were a lunatic-. as of motes. I saw the blood on the male’s face. “I am your friend. She tried to remember how to make the sign of the Cross. I am yours. “Will you have a cigarette. . recovering from his wincing at the name she’d used. “Dear God. touching the violets withered to a frizzle in the gherkin jar. about the room. “Get out. But if you eye-cornered it. But you invited me in. Shimmering and growing and shaping. She wallowed back as far as her chair would take her. Please. though at dawn I must go.” “Please. there was. smiling as once Slade had smiled at the teddybear nightie-case.” said Terry who was loudly intellectually agnostic. courteous. You know me for what I am.” The Boy said. darling Terry.” “I’ve decided I’ve come for you. The Boy’s cold fingers took her fingers from out of the muddled sign. grin gleaming.” The Boy was walking.get in?” “I couldn’t get in the first time. Once I’m in.

” The Boy’s strong breath grazed her inky fingers. she doesn’t go to Hammer films or read horror comics. Sampson fainted.” Terry explained. “Your lovely little human hands. I cannot destroy you without your permission. You’d float on the night light as I do. across the ceiling.” The ice seemed lapping Terry as she had heard that snow lapped travellers at night in mountains. I could go over there now and sink my incisors in that female’s jugular.” Terry turned to him and clasped him close and buried her face in the musky musty chilly leather. “You’re like my own self. “Yet I can’t. the skin under his cheekbones sucked inwards.” the Boy. “She’s not a teenager. Terry. Don’t ask me any more. I can’t enter you without your permission. Come with me.” Terry choked. that you’ll come to me. “You don’t know how I ached to take you that water-night. how human you looked. “Please let me be. go. his lip lifted from the long sparkling eye-teeth. “Please. up the walls. Terry. I’ll only .” he said. In the wild artificial lights.” The Boy conversationally remarked. The air had grown chilly and the gas-fire roared hollow and the electricity flickered as if there were a powercur and giant peaked shadows gloomed in the room. You are as empty as 1 am. been as sweet as you. The Boy’s face paled. Terry. closer and closer. please get out of here and never bother me again. “How can something like you use a word like that?” “Come to me. How sweet and light and insubstantial your blood must be.” she sobbed.” “Yes. in all my haunting. But say. But her blood would suffocate me when I thought of yours.” The Boy seated himself beside her.“I worship you.” “I’m an ordinary human teenager. Tell me I can have you. let me hold your wrist and feel the blood beat. The others were all easy. “You adore me. “The idea of a vampire comes more of a shock to her than me. yourself.” With the intensity of his concentration. “For God’s sake. Yet I knew you’d understand the essence of me. couldn’t take his piercing eyes from the pulse of her throat. I can’t destroy you as you are.” “Adolescents have never. Half of me wants to keep you just as you are. Oh. It’s enough of a shock to me--” “I enjoy horror comics.” “Oh. and she felt drowsy and lulled by seeping cold.

I hardly want anyone now. I made sure he couldn’t infect you while he was still capable of it. I looked so odd. you know.” “I don’t. If I’d bitten that boy that night-. I know. And now. You want to hypnotise me into following you.” “I haven’t met many. No one wanted to know me. I mean.” He rose to go. never to be harmed from your intrinsic human self. my leather coat.” “You’re wrong. I want you as yourself.” “I can show you the bullet holes. It was so indigestible I expected I’d end with ulcers. Now I can mingle. I’ve seen lots of vampire films. You can peer into them and see my heart beating for you.” “You poor love. . He has been bitten.” “How trivial you are. “I don’t want to be left on my own with her lifeless sprawl.” he said lovingly. 1959-ish. my fringe. I’ll leave you. “Just sit and talk a little. The blood was always heavy. You’re too precious to change. And I made sure he simply healed.” “I want you--” “I know all about your sort.” “It was what put me off you at first. No appetite left. by one of us. Tell me how it all happened. Terry. I realise you’re the least human type I’ve ever found. then.” “I’ve been such a misfit ever since I died.say yes. .just because I couldn’t help myself I’d’ve left him to heal.” Terry besought. I like a feller to wear fashion-clothes. I’ve never met anyone my age much different from me.” “How what happened--?” “You. But I just lifted the blood already showing on his chin. They could sense I was no longer part of this spinning world. It’d be creepy. Not Edwardian or Mod at all. You lull people and fascinate them.” “But your shirt is so old-fashioned.” “I didn’t want him. no death. no coming to join us.” “Your batty girlfriend. my elastic-sided boots. Till now. I wanted you. I got hold of a new one some time ago. Now my clothes are right again. my side-whiskers. They like my velvet collar. No one would talk. .” “Mine with the stiff collar rotted in rhe grave.

actually. he’ll expect me to rush and hug him. and stood against him. Cor. I must fade now. I’ll come again. I love you. I’ll look after you in the glimmering skeleton-delicate nights you were made for. She rose. he would have faltered and fled. Bur I never met anyone yet. the narrow shiny grin. What can I say when she wakes? I’ll have to convince her she suffers hallucinations. I’ll come back for an answer. Tomorrow night. Maybe I’ll be asleep. People go on about teenagers. The last she saw of him was the eyes.” “Give me your answer tomorrow night. and I’m asleep. I forgot it till this instant. just because he’s out of this world. The shine of his eyes. There’s a Crucifix in the drawer over there. .” “Oh. Terry?” “Nothing really. around my neck always? The crucifix is what they call Good. He’ll be in this room again. If you are not here tomorrow. If he gathers. .” “Oh. I’ll gather again in your room. the room shivering.” “I don’t want to press you now. this business that it’s my choice. You should see the people I’m supposed to revere and grow up worthy of. “What is keeping you in your world. in which the electric light bulb was a withered juiceless orange. who’d stick to their ideals when it’s really easy not to. I suppose The Boy is… Evil. A bit of fever searching in dark cellars at night. Next time I see my father.He took her hand again. If I had lifted it between us. . All zombies. I hope I never set eyes on my father again. not in this world. Terry. Shall I wear it now. He has all these ideals. he has only to bend and kiss my neck oh I love him I’m scared and I let his teeth pierce the kiss and draw the blood our of me and put his own un-life into me . really. And again--till you are here for me. Kathy calls us--” “Those you love?” “I hate or despise those I love. my Boy--” He faded into the murk the room had gathered. No reason to suppose he’s different. Just the same as your life. His breath. your death I mean. don’t leave me alone with that breathing carcase. That’s true.

The cold stars nipped the night.His un-life. a crescent. bur I never try to hurt or alter people.with the good and safe in this world-home. She raced to the window and looked out. The crucifix will keep me--if I wear it-. is a greed that makes a mockery of life and the free will of his human choices-. Out there. dear little. friends.victims. anyway. teachers. Something vague made off. Behind her. gliding amongst the foliage. I could never be called good. parents. The cherry blossom melted her eyes. cool and pale as a beckoning hand. . her teacher moaned as she must moan in the arms of Terry’s handsome virile father. thank God. flapping. the moon was pale.

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