If you’ve read both of my books, you’ll maybe recognise this snapshot into Abner, the first time the grown man meets his love, even if he doesn’t really know her yet
Happy New Year my arse, twenty six years of age and stuck with Marcia, smoking like a chimney to get away from her while she tries to slink her way around my brother, angling for a midnight proposal. I haven’t the heart to tell her that theres no way it’ll happen, even my family agree, but Mum slipped and told her I’d inherited one of my grandmothers rings and she is now convinced, or so she tells my sisters, that I will propose over the festive period. I finish my cigarette, drop it to the floor and stamp it out, noticing the white toes of my converse could really do with a scrub and not really giving a shit either way, Marcia will no doubt tell me to throw them away because anything that isn’t bright, shiny and new is out of favour with her, I just wish the shine had worn off me for her. Neds is jammed, after struggling my way downstairs past couples practically screwing on every step, I make my way through the crowded bar, past a group of friends who are squealing at a video camera, with no choice I rudely push past the guy holding the camera, ruining his shot, then someone shouts nice arse and for some reason I know its about me, turning I see the caller. She’s tiny and seems to be restrained by a much taller girl in a bright orange gaudy dress, the girl looks mortified, her pale face reddens and as she turns away I see her shoulder length copper curls bounce, I give her a grin and head back to join Ned, Andy and Marcia nearer to the stage.
“Ignore her, she doesn’t drink much and when she does she has a very naughty side” my brother tells me when I glance back and the little redhead, she has her back to us now, an emerald green dress is fit to her generous curves, she’s rounder than I would usually be struck by, but there’s something about this girl that’s caught me.
“You know her?” I look to my brother who has a smirk on his face, he nods.
“She’s a friend, sweet kid, the whole gang of them are great, been coming in here a couple of years now I reckon, she’s looking over again” I turn to look at her, catching her eye for a moment, she’s beautiful, she clearly doesn’t know it though, her boyfriend obviously does, a stocky dark looking bloke I wouldn’t want to cross, has his arm around her shoulders and then she’s delivering some sort of speech into the camera in a very animated fashion. Someone must have spotted me staring at her because suddenly their entire party, camera included, are pointed my way, I look away quickly and down at my feet, the dirt on the toes is annoying me now.
“They look like a bunch of chavs if you ask me, what did the dumpy little redhead shout at you?” Marcias disdain for ‘commoners’ irritates me enormously and despite my best efforts can’t be quelled, she looks down her nose at them and I feel a burst of protective instinct for the girl and her friends, they look like the sort of people I’d enjoy hanging around with.
“Nice arse, have to agree with her, to be fair, I do have a nice arse” I laugh at Marcias face, Ned doesn’t look happy at all, probably my arrogance.
“Um Marcia, that bunch of chavs as you put it, are my friends and for your information, the black guy, the blonde fella and the ‘dumpy redhead’ work in media, graphics design, very good at it too, she does a lot of my menus and stuff. The blonde girl manages the Grosvenor Hotel in Piccadilly, the guy with the dark hair is a pretty prominent session musician, none of them are ‘chavs’” he really does know them and yet I can’t bring a single photo of her to mind, physical ones in his flat above the bar, or the experience of having come across her before. It’s strange, I’m here a lot.
“Oh, well, I suppose, the redhead shouldn’t be wearing that dress, she’s too fat for it” she casts her eye over the girl, who is dancing up against the boyfriend and squealing something that makes the others laugh with her, there’s always one of them focussed on her, she’s clearly the middle of the group.
“I think she’s beautiful” the words are out of my mouth before I can stop them, Marcia looks incredulously at me, oh well, I’m a man of the truth and that girl is gorgeous.
“Well said Abe, she is beautiful, inside and out, I can introduce you later if you like?” my brother offers me the very thing I was considering asking of him, I smile back and he gets it, he knows where my mind was.
“Sure, if they’re friends of yours”
“Excuse me, am I invisible?” she couldn’t be more obvious if she tried, tonight she decided an outfit made entirely by Burberry was required, meanwhile I wore a nicer pair of jeans and tucked my Thomas Pink shirt in, barely running my hands through my hair or shaving before leaving.
“Who said that?” Andy says with a booming laugh, receiving a grunt from Marcia in response, I steal a glance at the girl again, she spots me and yet again I look away. I don’t know what this game is that we’re playing, but I’m enjoying it immensely.
“Come on guys, it’s a minute to”
“Yeah” I’m enthralled by the girl, shes now attempting the can-can, being supported by her boyfriend on one side and the guy with the wholly impractically large afro hair on the other, she might be as drunk as me. They’ve formed a circle, the blonde in orange has the camera and is panning the group from the centre, they’re having a ball and I wish I could join them.
“Five, four, three, two, one. Happy New Year” Ned shouts and before I can turn to my girlfriend, little red appears, she jumps on me out of nowhere, wrapping her arms around my neck and her lips on mine, for a millisecond I’m in shock, the my body takes over, I wrap my arms around her waist and whole-heartedly involve myself in this midnight kiss. She goes as quickly as she arrived, I catch her arm for a second, not sure what I’ll even say but I don’t want this moment to be over yet and she spins, flashes me a gorgeous smile and winks before running back to her friends who all collapse laughing around her, leaving the taste of her on my lips.
“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?” Marcias overly manicured hand swipes across my cheek, it feels as if hes scratched me, I look at her and see her widened eyes looking my secret kisser up and down.
“Wasn’t that you? Sorry had my eyes closed” Ned and Andy are slack jawed behind her, I do my best not to laugh, it is funny, she thought midnight was going to be her proposal, hell I don’t even like the woman, she’s alright for someone to keep the bed warm at night, but she doesn’t give me the tingles like Little Red.
“You know full well that wasn’t me Abner, how dare you kiss another woman when we are out, celebrating New Years Eve?”
“Technically I didn’t kiss her, she kissed me” I reply with a shrug, I want another of those kisses, there was an electricity I’ve never experienced before and its intoxicated me.
“Appauling behaviour, I think you were wrong Ned, your little friend is clearly of a very low moral grounding” Little Red is now wrapped in the arms of the guy I thought was her boyfriend, surely not, he wouldn’t allow her to kiss a complete stranger would he? If she was mine I’d never let her out of my sight.
“Jesus Marcia, pull your head out of your arse, this is my bar, she is my friend and you are welcome to leave any time you like”
“Abner! Come on, we’ll go to my apartment” she actually clicks her fingers at me, I shake my head, the woman is insane.
“I’m staying at Neds tonight”
“If you don’t come with me now, then mark my words, this is over and you wont be able to cope without me, I am the love of your life”
“Lets not say anything we’re going to regret huh?” is all I can muster because this isn’t the time or place to correct her.
“Oh you disgust me, right, happy new year” she flounces off, barging past Neds friends as she goes, I look to m brother and Andy and shake my head. She can’t wander Camden alone, she has no clue about the real world.
“I’d better go, just to make sure she’s ok”
“You have an out Abe, take it, she’ll be planning the wedding by summer if you don’t”
“Nah, I think she gets the hint”
“No mate, she gets what she wants, that’s her trouble, go on, I get it, its comfortable. To think, I was going to make the introductions”
“Whats her name? Little Red over there?” we all look over and she’s on the shoulders of the black guy, arms in the air, singing along to the music, its clear that everyone loves this girl.
“Doesn’t matter now, does it? I like Little Red, she’d like that name too, I think”
“She’s really something, isn’t she?”
“Yep, I love her to bits, sure you’ll meet her in here again some night, when you’ve been released from her talons”
“God help me” I say, taking one more look at her before reluctantly going to find Marcia. Happy New Year to me, my night was definitely more than I’d hoped for.