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Standing By The Record Machine

Series: The Adventures Of Cindy George

Chapter 6

Then it was here again. Clubbing time. Dancing time. It was time to get out and have another party. There was a heatwave over the next few days, a proper one, the sort where you could almost kid yourself you were living somewhere tropical and glamorous, and not a small town in the middle of England.

The Ship was packed tonight. Absolutely rammed. It was the last day of exams for some of the colleges. They were all out, celebrating the start of a summer of freedom. She saw Donna and the rest at the end of the bar and weaved her way through and joined them.

"What are you having?” she said.

"Vodka and coke.”

"So what's on tonight?” asked Cindy.

"Think we're going clubbing,” says Donna. "Ritzis is being talked about as the place to go. Or the Bull. Both will be packed.”

Cindy leant back against the bar and surveyed the scene, the throng of bodies in front of her. Then she saw him. There was a guy standing next to the jukebox. He had a fringe that came down to his eyebrows and dreamy eyes that looked like they were somewhere else. He was wearing a cap-sleeved t-shirt and skinny jeans and was leaning with one foot against the wall and hands in his pockets. She kept looking over at him. He was glancing back.

"Why don't you go and put a record on the jukebox?” said Donna, who noticed immediately where Cindy’s attention was focused. “Say something to him.”

"I could.”

But on this occasion, Cindy was disappointed. She was about to look in her purse for some change when it was time for him to leave. His friends went up to him and said they should go. He moved away from the wall. He glanced back and gave her a half-smile and they left. That smile would have to be enough for now.

"That's a shame,” says Donna.

"Tell me about it.”

For a moment, she thought about following him out and asking him if he wanted to take her for a drink somewhere else. But she put it out of her head as soon as she had thought it. She didn’t do things like that.

So she turned to the bar and finished her drink. Then she bought another for Donna and her and made it a double.

For the next couple of hours, they did their usual thing in The Ship. At the end of the night, Marie had a suggestion.

"Let's go to Ritzi.”

It was as planned and they agreed. Cindy wasn’t arguing, it would meet her needs for now. Ritzis was the local cattle market, a den of iniquity that her goody-two-shoes friends like Ann would never go in. It was all right for getting drunk, dancing round your handbags, meeting someone you had never seen before and would never see again. And fighting. It was good for that if you were in the mood.

At half-past eleven, they left The Ship and tottered down the street in their heels. As usual, they were in good voice, treating the town's residents to a chorus of various tunes that had been playing on the jukebox. They went down the main street, round to a back alley, and made their way to the door. There was a queue. They stood and waited and tried to behave themselves until they were in and paid their money and went through.

It was packed in there as well. They knew it was going to be. It was an odd mix. There were gangs of boys and gangs of girls, eyeing each other up, looking for trouble. You knew something was going to kick off at any moment. Then there were the students, celebrating the end of exams. The girls went go straight to the bar and had a drink, surveyed the crowds. They decided to have a dance for a couple of songs, watched jealously by the factory and office girls who were standing round uneasily alongside the newly free college students. After a while, they went back to the side of the dancefloor. Then she saw him.

He was standing next to the railing next to the dancefloor. He was standing the same way as he was before, hand in one pocket and his foot against the railing. His fringe was flopping forward over his face.

"Have you seen who it is?” said Donna.

"Yes,” said Cindy.

"You going to talk to him? Because if you don't I will.”

"No I will,” said Cindy. "Try and stop me.”

Hands off, she thought, as she threw her hair back and walked off in the direction of the guy. She was going to have him if anyone was. No one else had better try to muscle in on him. There would be trouble if she did, even with Donna.

But there was no chance of that happening. The boy was ready for her.

"All right mate,” she said, walking up to him. "Didn't I see you in The Ship?”

Conversation ensued. She took the lead, led him off to some secluded seats at the back of the club, where she sat down on his left. He slid in next to her. They had a bit more conversation. Then the night quickly proceeded to take its course.

His name was Justin. She would see him again.

 

She did see him again. On Summer nights when the moon was full and the sky was clear. They went on surreptitious dates and met after the pubs closed, when they went back to hers or somewhere else and spent the night together. There always seemed something elicit about their meetings. Something dirty. Undercover. She liked that. It made it fun. She sometimes wondered what would happen if Greg turned up. Justin said he always told his friends he was "on a promise.” He was.

 

Over the last few days, some graffiti had appeared on the wall outside Ritzi. It was obviously written by young males and Cindy was featured in it, in complimentary, if graphic, tones. It made her smile. The wall had long been used as a record of the exploits of the town's more colourful characters. It was nice to think that they considered her to be one of them. And that they liked the way they looked so much. In a few days, new additions appeared. There were more entries, more graphic and descriptive. "One day people will write books about your exploits," said Donna. She smiled and took it in.

 

On Monday afternoon she saw Justin in the park. He was lying there, sunbathing when she arrived. She joined him for a while and they had an ice cream and soaked up the sun and took in the atmosphere of a long, hot summer day. Then she suggested they go back to hers. Her mum wouldn't be home until later and she had the house to herself.

He was impressed with the idea. She thought he would be. She had brought her mini and would drive them home. They left the park, got in, and both lit Consulates. Then they headed back. She drove the long way, through town so everyone could see, with the windows open and music blasting out. She was showing him off to the world.

They arrived back and she parked the car outside her house. There was a postcard on the mat when she opened the door. Greg was in Barcelona. That was what it said. He was having a good time, was hanging out with some locals and the rest. She picked it up quickly and put it at the back of the letter's rack. She didn't want Justin to see it. He didn't ask about it. She didn't think he even noticed. He wasn’t the sort who would. She would put it with the others later.

Then they went up to her room and put on some music. It was high summer and the air was heavy, the window open and a slight breeze wafting through. He left before her mum arrived home. She had arranged to meet him that night. It didn’t go quite the way she expected.

 

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