Just Another Friday Night at the Pub
“It was Friday night. I watched her, peeped from behind my curtains. She waved- friendly enough; looked as if she was getting over the death of her mother. Getting dark it was. Shouldn’t be out that late, I thought to myself. And what of her father, on his own in that cottage? They’re so careless, teenagers these days; take no account of other people’s thoughts and feelin’s. An’ ‘im jus’ lost his wife! I have to say though, she looked beautiful -sort of gypsy-ish. Her hair back combed an’ frizzed like. She was wearing a sea green topped draped around her front with just a pair of straps tied behind. No wider than shoe laces! How these girls can wear tops like that in cold weather, I’ll never know.”
“I saw her too. I’d been to the garej for fags an’ a magazine. And there she was, striding down the main road confident and smoking!”
“Shouldn’t be smoking after the way her mam died.”
“…I watched her! Top ripplin’,’eels more like a dangerous weapon. How these young girls can walk in them ‘eels I’ll never know. Shouldn’t be smoking she should, not with that chest of ‘ers. Doreen, her mother’d, be mortified if she knew, turning in her grave no doubt. Poor bugger.”
“Yes. But don’t iw think ‘at Emlyn should know? P’raps ee does! ‘Tisn’t right, mind! He should do more for his daughter – sort her out like; take more of an interest.”
The women gabbled, as Emlyn sat in his living room nursing his whiskey glass in front of a blazing fire, the 1812 shaking the window frames. “Bitch Bach Blin!” He thought to himself. “She hasn’t got an effin’ clue. No bloody idea!” He clecked the tumbler, and poured another, larger whiskey. He clecked that too while the bells and guns of the 1812 clanged in his head. ‘Dressed like a bloody tramp she was. Doreen bach, what am I going to do with that girl of ours?
His wife’s framed image smiled at him from the top of the sideboard. ‘That was one of the good days.’ He mused. They had a lovely long walk over Penmaen Mawr; a September walk, Doreen’s favourite time of the year, when the heather covered the mountains, bruising the landscape. It was the last walk they had taken, just him and her -though he hadn’t known it then. To celebrate the fact that she had been well enough he had captured the moment as she hung on to the stile. “Couldn’t tell she was sick, really,” he mumbled into his tumbler. Her hair, thinner, curlier and brighter auburn, was hidden under her floppy, fleece,cap. It made her look arty, trendy, and confident;it disguised the fact that she was ill. Emlyn’s eyes filled with tears; a combination of whiskey, self pity and grief.
The noise of the 1812, gave him impetus. Emlyn lurched to his feet and igam -ogammed up the narrow cottage stairs. He slipped. Banged his elbow on the white – washed stone wall. Swore violently. Swept into his daughter’s bedroom. Stopped. Whiskey woozy he swayed from side to side; intoxicated and uncertain in this girly territory. Sian’s room was stuffed with soft toys; littered with dogs, sheep, teddies, and ducks: A rainbow coloured, kapok stuffed, and furry, pastel, zoo.
The bed springs creaked as Emlyn sat down. He caught a whiff of Sian’s deodorant. He picked up the bear – Sian’s companion since babyhood. A matt, pointed nose and eyes like blackberries stared back at him; concern stitched all over his brown, dusty, face. ‘Oh Harri,’ he murmured to the bear, ‘what is our Sian up to tonight?’
Sian was not thinking of teddies. She patted the condom in her pocket, freshly dispensed from the ladies’. She had no intention of using it tonight unless she met ‘The One!’ Highly unlikely in The Llew, but she felt better it was there, just in case: Anyway, it was what all responsible teenagers did, wasn’t it? Keep a condom at the ready.
Sian swigged her WKD and lit a Marlborough in exasperation. Llinos was still texting Tomi who had gone to watch Man U that weekend. ‘Look!’Llinos beamed. ‘Dwi’n dy Garu di! It looked more liked dwdygrd to Sian who squinted at the text message, nodded then smiled inanely at Llinos who was busy thumbing a ‘Luv iw 2 babe! XXX’, to Tomi. Sian rolled her eyes. God! It wasn’t worth the hassle.
The volume of the music increased as the football boys walked in. Litres of body spray wafted beneath the low ceiling of the cellar, as the freshly showered and gelled lads strutted towards the bar and Steve, the bar man, perked up. ‘Takings’ll be good tonight,’ he thought. Glain, who made up the trio with Llinos and Sian, sat up, pulling her Babylissed hair straighter and adjusted her v – neck top so that its scarlet folds teased the top of her camisole. Llinos flicked her shoe-string emerald straps, lit another cigarette and exhaled as she has seen Sandy do in ‘Grease’. Her stilettos were just fine. She crossed her legs lifting her shoulders. A tiny wave flickered from her hand as she smiled at the boys.Tonight was the night. Sian patted her pocket again.
‘Iawn, Daf?’ Sian singled out Dafydd the centre forward who beamed. ‘Iawn, doll. You ok?’
‘Better, now that you’re here. Tyrd. Come and talk to the three of us. Bring your mates.’
‘What the hell do you think your doing? Be ddiawl ti’n ‘neud, y lembo?’ Llinos hissed at Sian. ‘I can’t afford to be seen with other blokes, yeah? Tomi’d go nuts, yeah, if he thought I was looking at another boy -especially if he’s centre – bloody – forward. I’m going home.’
Sian grabbed her. ‘Paid! Don’t go yet. We might have a bit of hwyl. Anyway it’s only a bit of harmless fun. Have a chat with the footie boys, flirt with them a bit. You might be missing something.’
‘Oh, yeah,Tomi’s really going to see it like that, yeah? Du –uh. Talk to the …’ Llinos placed her palm in Sian’s face; who turned and hooked her fingers lightly in the waist of Daf’s jeans. Sian smiled at Dafydd. ‘Take no notice hon. Llinos may be on a lead but I’m not.’
Daf could hardly believe his luck and readily put his hand in his pocket to buy the girls a drink. Sian switched from WKD to white wine as it was cheaper. She clecked it; and had a momentary vision of her father with his whisky glass and raised her glass in a silent toast to his image. She swallowed a few times then held out her glass to Dafydd and smiled. She twirled her stilettos at him. Dafydd, mesmerised by her blue eyes and blonde hair, willingly paid out yet again. ‘Tonight is looking good,’ he thought giving the thumbs up to his team mates. They lowed in reply. He bought Sian another WKD, and for her, the music and conversation became louder, and the Llew became more exciting.
Tina Turner, Elvis, the Bee Gees, Mcfly – a mix that reflected the ages of the pub customers. Anthems and favourites certainly, just not the chapel kind. A few drunk souls began to dance, -the married mothers mainly. ‘I’ll never be like that,’ Sian yelled at Glain and Llinos. ‘You won’t see me pissed in a pub and drinking to forget some brat that I had.’
‘Nah! Just pissed to forget er Mam. Bechod!’ Glain retorted silently.
Llinos slipped away when Glain and Sian began to dance in the centre of the floor; cigarette ends and beer splashes were spongy and wet beneath their feet. Sian moved her hips, swayed her arms in time to the music. Daf could scarcely believe that this beautiful girl had grown up with him in school and chapel. He was sorry about her mother. It couldn’t be easy for a young girl to lose her mother, like that. He’d heard his mother talk about it with the rest of the women from Merched y Wawr – The dawn ladies, who sipped tea, cappuccino and baked Bara Brith for funerals; and occasionally organized trips to eisteddfodau and the Chippendales. He watched Sian dance in her sea green top. Not a mermaid or anything like that just one hell of a sexy girl -a real pishyn.
Dai Williams thought so too -her Dad’s friend. Dai had been watching her worriedly. He decided that she would need a fatherly eye as she walked home. As far as he was concerned, it was Emlyn’s bad luck if he didn’t know what his lovely girl of a daughter was up to in the pub. Dai wasn’t one to go telling tales. The rhythms on the juke box changed and the boys ranged around the pool table wielding their cues like spears. Sian continued to dance, twining her arms in a Celtic knot pattern around the football team; flirting with each one, inviting each one to show that he cared for her.
She was oblivious of her effect. Each pair of male arms seemed strong and muscular- welcoming even. She felt safe and supported by each one. She held on to Huw first of all who grinned delightedly, and placed his Half – a – Carling on the rim of the pool table. Her body draped over his wrapped him in the smells of turquoise silk, Calvin Klein. And Marlboroughs. It felt great to hold Sian, but Gwenno, his girl, would give him hell if she knew. Huw kissed Sian and gently set her in Deio’s arms.
Deio, the best goal keeper since Dewi Rhys left for uni, displayed his talents by netting Sian as she tripped over his trainers. ‘Prat.’ She mumbled and theatrically lit another cigarette. Two lighters dazzled; flickering in her eyes as she attempted to light one of the two cigarettes held between four fingers. Four Fingers! Four? The noises in the pub became indistinct and rang like sea – water in her ears. A longing for Emlyn, her dad, overcame her and Deio was the surprised recipient of a fierce hug. A cheerful faced boy, with auburn hair and freckles, Deio was tall with pale blue eyes -striking and combined with a genuinely kind nature made him the ideal friend. He was worried to see his mate, Sian, in such a state. She could hardly stand and was making a fool of herself. Sian clung to Deio, slurping her Smirnoff Ice and slurred, ‘I love you. You’re special. Be special’ nice to me tonight.’
Deio stared down at Sian as she insensibly muttered the words he’d wanted to hear since the end of year eleven. She puckered her lips and gently kissed him only to miss. Deio knew she’d have a head in the morning. ‘I love you. I do. Why don’ you look after me? I miss my mam. Dwisho Mam. Dwisho hi ‘nol.’
Meanwhile, Emlyn, lay on his daughter’s bed clutching Harri who smelled Sian’s perfume and shampoo. Emlyn wished fiercely that the evening could rewind to seven o’clock. Over and over his words echoed around the empty cottage shot with Sian’s stinging replies. Emlyn cringed. ‘Nothing but a bloody slag. No way you’d go out looking like that if your Mam were here.”
‘If Mam were here, I wouldn’t be going out. I wouldn’t need my friends as much. If Mam were here she’d take me shopping, and you’d say my choice of clothes was ok. If Mam were here, you’d say I looked nice – you wouldn’t call me a slag or a bitch bach blin. How could you? I hate you! I hate you! I wish it was you who died and not Mam. I want her back. I want my Mam. She didn’t deserve that. But right now, you do! Calling me a slag! Mam wouldn’t. I want Mam.’
Sian slammed the bedroom door and white plaster dribbled off the landing wall onto the carpet. She cried. Her sounds were muffled by a pillow and her stuffed menagerie. Later, slammed the back door and march off down the lane as quickly and as elegantly as she could manage in her unfamiliar heels. ‘Oh Sian, what have I done?’ Emlyn had held his head in his hands and stared at his wife’s picture. ‘She’s right, Dor. The child is right. You’d have known what to do, where to go for clothes. You’d have known how to handle her. I can’t even hold her. It’s confusing. She’s my child, so young and beautiful and so much like you Doreen. So much like you when we first met in school.’
Emlyn sat in Sian’s pink room holding Harri, the toy and companion she had held through childhood, through the long nights of her mother’s illness and the confusions of teenage life. He wept. Elsewhere, Sian hung onto the lads, her exploits filling the chapel and Merched y Wawr mouths with self satisfaction. Downstairs the CD player was dumb. Emlyn opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out a packet of Resolve. Only one sachet left. Good job for him it was Saturday tomorrow. Sian would need this more than him. He placed the sachet with a pint glass of water on her bedside cabinet.
As he put out the light, to listen and wait for his daughter, Sian was escorted home – Deio on one side, Dai Williams at the other. It was a moonlit night and the sky was peppered with dim stars. Wisps of air, the hint of autumn, formed in their mouths as they spoke. Sian’s feet were freezing but she was too drunk to care. Her shoes dangled like broken limbs from her wrist. She sat down on the stile to rest. The path led to the mountain that hovered as black as judgment. She sang:
Dacw Mam yn dwad ar ben y gamfa wen,
Rhywbeth yn ei ffedog a phusern ar ei phen;
Y fuwch yn y beudy yn brefi am ei llo,
A’r llo yr ochr arall yn chwarae ‘Jim Cro’.
Jim Cro crwstyn, one, two four, a’r
Mochyn bach yn eistedd mor ddel ar y stol.
‘Ond ‘di Mam ddim yn dwad dim mwy.’
Sian’s voice floated out of tune into the chilly night. Dai swallowed. He would have to have a talk with Emlyn tomorrow. Deio shrugged off his hoodie carefully placing it over Sian. ‘Iawn from here, boy?’ Dai was anxious to get home. He had a hobble at seven in the morning.
‘Iawn. We’ll be fine. I’ll make sure she gets home and I’ll lock the door behind her and put the key through the letter box.’
‘Ok. Nos da. Nos da, Cariad’ Dai ruffled Sian’s hair and turned into Ty Gwyn Lane.
Deio watched Dai walk down the lane and Sian leaned her head on his shoulder. ‘You Ok, Deio? Deio, be’sy’? What’s the matter? Are you cross with me?’
‘No cyw. Not cross just worried, yeah! You could have got into big trouble tonight.’
‘But you looked after me and walked me home. You’re my mate! Ti yw fy ffrind.’
Eventually Deio shushed her singing and managed to bundle Sian through the cottage door. Emlyn heard the key rattle on the flagstones in the porch. He heard both Sian and her bed groan as she collapsed fully clothed. Emlyn punched his pillow and turned over.‘Yes, Sian, I’m your mate.’ Sighed Deio as the gate clicked behind him.