“It’s so easy when there is something you want, just press the ‘confidence’ button and off you go. It’s always been like that though I usually push the button when I don’t really know what to do. Or say. I just let it burst out, I suppose.”
She stared back at the dog-eyes. Chocolate brown with black centres and a thin whirl of white at the edges. As she stopped talking the dog cocked it’s head by fifteen degrees and grinned slightly.
“More eh?” she ruffled the wiry hair of the terrier and it swayed it’s head to the opposite angle, kept its grin and lolled a tip of tongue out between its canines. “That’s it, really. He was just an exciting looking bloke. Never met him before. Talked to me, asked about me, made me laugh. Had a couple of drinks. Said he would walk me home. Outside, when the air hit me, I just lost it.”
She lent forward and put her hands round the dog’s head, rocked it gently and stroked, massaged, round the dog ears. Leaned closer and whispered as her cheek brushed the soft jowls.
“It got crazy, all those colours whirling round me, I thought I was walking on the ceiling. All those women coming at me, trying to take my clothes off. You know, those mannequin things, all acting like scary puppets. I was burning, just letting them. Their hands all over me. You know, it was like I was on heat. Jeeze, never felt it like that before. So good, so scary, I was just shaking. ”
“I know what you mean.” replied the dog silently.
“Dad said he found me and walked me home. I know it was a long night and I kept having awful strange dreams. Mum said she put me to bed with a struggle and had to sit with me for hours keeping me in my room and trying to calm me down.” She sat back on the big square cushion of the big square settee. “Mum told me what was happening when he found me. Dad hasn’t, thank goodness.”
Angel hoicked her legs up onto the settee and the dog licked at the frayed line of the denim shorts. The girl pushed his head away with a moan at the warm, damp tickle and scratched under his chin to keep him off. “Trouble is, I remember bits like a dream. Like the man slobbering over me, unless it was me being loopy, and the shop and all those people looking at me, from inside the windows. ”
She hugged herself. “And that policeman shining his torch on me, well, us”. Hugging more tightly as she remembered the anger of the moment but felt again the flush of embarrassment as the man had relinquished his place and scuttled away. She could have been hidden, protected from view had he stayed but once she spoke, (she recalled yet again) saying she knew the policeman, he recoiled away from her.
She remembered almost collapsing against the door and the rattle of the chain-lock inside as the door juddered with the surprise of her weight. The light from the torch had stabbed at her eyes and how the spotlights of the shop joined-in making white globes in her vision as she tried to look into the dark of the road at Walter. Briefly she was aware of what had almost happened, maybe had, through the buzz of the lights and the noise of the dolls and the man she was with. And the embarrassing ridge of dress round her waist.
Angel had needed to escape the light, the haze; her numb, brightly lit brain and the heat and itch of her body. So she looked at the policeman as she dragged at her hem then hurried away with her best daring, defiant, teenage glare at the young man dressed like a policeman with strange white blobs glowing round his head.
And here she was, Angel Lamb, talking to the dog, remembering chunks of the evening up to when she had been whiskedinto the house from the Vicarage gate and into bed by her mother. A night that still reared and flashed in her dreams. She had spoken to Walter the following day. Repeating, “P.C. Walter Copper”, she smiled and shook her head slightly at the thought of him discovering what was going on. Dear Old Walter. Not that he was, but he was, sort of, compared to her. Several years makes all the difference. But at least he hadn’t said a word to her father. He might be a vicar but she knew he could get angry and she couldn’t bear it if he knew the truth. Even if she didn’t, really, of what happened.
She coiled fingers gently into the hair of the dog. “It’s bad he died though. He must have had even more to drink than I had. And I can’t even remember his name.”
The dog raised its muzzle and snuffled into her face with wet nose and tongue licking at the salty cheeks. “Oough! That’s too much.” She shut her eyes and the white globes appeared briefly, like will-o-the-wisps, before fading once again.
notes from Burnthorpe
Copper Man, Jolly Puritan