You can’t say that anyone was to blame. Not really. It all got a bit out of hand – kind of snowballed, if you see what I mean. You never know what Weird Jane is going to do. Which is why Ev and me kind of like her. Well, not exactly like her, but being around her, or having her around. You know. Stuff kind of happens. Like it did that night in the Crown and over the weeks and months that followed. No-one meant for any of it to happen. It all just kind of happened, you know.
To start, we’d been at the pub in the village – not the poncy one with the carvery and the big car park where all the nobs go. They don’t fancy letting the likes of us in there, especially on a Friday night and especially if Janey’s with us. She can be a bit unsettling if you don’t know her – or if she’s in one of her really weird moods, and decides to start … well, you know, you’ve heard what she can get up to – and I’ll get to that, later.
We’d been at the Crown, which is where we usually go on a Friday. Val isn’t too fussed about what goes on as long as you can pay for your drinks, and she’s got two big lads at the weekends who can sort out any trouble for her. Not that she needs any help dealing with some ****** up ******. I’ve seen her with some ********* face crushed up against the fruit machine, and him crying, please, please, no, the little *******.
Anyway. Ev and me and Janey were at the Crown, like I said. We started off in the taproom, mainly to **** off the old buggers in there who still think women should stay in the Lounge. And Janey was hurling darts into one of the boards and yelling ‘Double Top’ until Val took them away from her. Someone usually complains sooner or later – it’s just a matter of how soon the screams get on someone’s ****. So we sat and had a few pints – Ev had her usual cider and black, and I was alternating pints of bitter with snakebites and black (I was wearing this tight denim skirt and I get too bloated if I’m on snakebites all the time). Janey’ll drink anything we give her, but we weren’t messing her around just then. No funny mixtures, just straight lagers.
Then, at about half past eight, Val comes over to where we were sat. “They’ll be on in a minute if you want to go through into the Lounge, ladies,” she says. By ‘they’ she means Ron and Betty who play at the Crown every Friday, so Ev and me and Weird Jane, we all collect up our things – our drinks, our jackets and scarves, mine and Ev’s handbags with our **** and lighters, and Janey’s got some kind of kiddie’s plastic handbag with Barbie or something on it. **** knows what she’s got inside it tonight, but she gathers it up, and we troop through into the big Lounge with its patch of dance floor and the tiny stage where Ron and Betty and their drummer are sitting ready to start their set.
They normally get a good crowd at the Crown on a Friday, bu****tays quite quiet until about half nine. Ev and me and Jane like to get ourselves a table near the dance floor where Ev and me can keep an eye on Janey if she gets up to dance. Most of the tables only start to fill up properly after nine thirty, but this Friday – the one I’m talking about – there’s already a big crowd in, and we realise that’s it’s a lot of the teachers from the school just outside the village. The big boarding school where Ev and me and Janey all work. And, of course, we recognise them all, and they recognise us as we walk into the Lounge.
“Hello, Sal,” one of them says to me as we walk past his table. “I didn’t know you ladies came in here. Or are you moonlighting and doing a bit of cleaning for Val on the side?”
The cheeky little **** thinks he’s said something funny, and grins round at the other knobheads at the table, Mr Knight, Mr Lowell, the two French teachers, Smith and Foyle, and the creepy old ******* with the dyed hair who teaches one of the sciency subjects. They all laugh as though he’s made a hilarious joke.
“No, Mr Barnes,” I say. “We’re just out for a drink, and to listen to Ron and Betty.”
“Ron and Betty! Ron and Betty!” yells Janey. “Ron and Betty! Ron and Betty!”
Ev pulls her away over to our table, and I give Mr Barnes and his mates one of my smiles. “Hope you enjoy your night out,” I say.
“Celebrating Mr McGuire’s promotion,” says Barnsey, raising his glass. “Though he won’t be in till later. It’s his duty night.”
For some reason, this makes all the table laugh. The creepy science one splutters into his pint. I give them another of my smiles.
“Fair enough,” I say. And I **** off over to where Ev and Janey are waiting at our table.
I won’t bore you with details of Ron and Betty’s set. It was their usual mixture of country-and-western, soft pop, and soppy love songs, but Betty’s got a nice voice, and you can tell that Ron knows his stuff. Anyway, they play and we drink, and Janey gets up a few times to dance, but we pull her off the dance floor when she gets too mad – you know, windmilling her arms and making other folk sit down. It’s a laugh to watch her, but we don’t want to get chucked out. But, she keeps on getting up and running back onto the floor because the ******* teachers from the school start egging her on. “Come on, Janey. Go it, girl.” You know, that kind of thing. And Janey doesn’t need much encouragement to do something ******* bonkers. So, eventually, some of them, mainly Barnsey and the ****s at his table, are chanting – not too loud – Janey, Janey, and Janey gets up (Ev had gone to the bar to get another round in, so I was by myself with her and she’s a slippery little ******) and she runs over to the teacher’s table. Ron and Betty were playing their version of ‘9-to-5’ by Dolly Parton, which they always play fast and raunchy. Betty likes to strut a bit, even though the stage is too small for that and she looks like she’s in danger of falling off when she gets going.
So, Betty’s singing “Nine to Five, what a way to make a livin’”, and strutting from side to side, and Ron’s bashing away at his keyboard like he means it, and their drummer’s doing all these twiddly bits on his drums and hitting the cymbals, when Janey gets up off her stool and rushes over to the teachers, ‘cos of the Janey Janey thing. Like I said, she’s a slippery ******, skinny like a whippet and she can move fast. And I’m – well, I’m not the quickest on my feet, let’s say. Before I can haul myself up and pull her back, she’s at their table.
Betty’s giving it all the “Nine to five, you got passion and a vision” stuff, and Janey … well, Janey pulls up her top – she’s wearing one of those strappy little tops and no bra – she doesn’t need one, really – and she starts waggling her **** at the teachers, right up close. You should have seen their faces. The sciency one’s mouth was hanging open with a handful of peanuts halfway to his lips, and all their eyes were out on stalks. The two French teachers, Smith and Foyle who, I think are a bit, you know … they’ve got a kind of horrified grimace on their faces and they look like they’re going to be sick. Not because of the sight of a girl’s ******* wiggling in their faces, though. It’s probably seeing the scars all across Janey’s stomach and ribs. It’s not a nice sight and it can be a bit of a shock at first, especially the recent ones that haven’t healed properly. Barnsey doesn’t look too well either, but he’s trying to make out that he’s into watching Janey’s squirming. But he’s not. No one could be, unless they were a real sicko perv.
Anyhow, I manage to get across there before anyone actually throws up, and I pull down Janey’s top, and try to get her back to the table. I’m pretty strong, but if Jane doesn’t want to move it’s impossible to shift her. She kind of goes all rigid and makes herself seem twice as heavy as she is. I pull at her and say “Come on, lass,” or something, but she doesn’t budge. It’s like she’s glued to the floor, and she’s staring at the creepy science bloke, who still hasn’t got the peanuts to his mouth.
“Give us a nut,” says Janey, and her eyes go all big and wide. “Give us a ******* nut.”
Well, instead of offering her a nut, and you would, wouldn’t you? Even if she is off her head. Instead of offering her one, the bloke just stuffs the whole handful into his gob and starts chomping. Maybe he didn’t hear her, or maybe he was still in shock from the tit-wiggling, but it was a bit – I don’t know – a bit insulting, like? I’ve got my hands on Jane’s shoulders still, but she lunges forward and clamps her mouth over the creepy science bloke’s mouth trying to get to the nuts, like she was French-kissing the *******. There’s a load of crashing as he flails about and the pints and empties on the table all get knocked over, and then Ev’s there and the two of us manage to prise Jane’s mouth away from the bloke’s face. And we drag her back to our table. Betty finishes off her song with a big finale: “Crayzee if ya led it – nine to fi-i-i-i-vuh!” and there’s a bit of applause, but most of the punters have been watching Janey for the last bit of the song.
After a few minutes, Val came over and told us that we’d better go, which was a shame because it was shaping up to be a good night.
“Sorry, girls,” she says to us, as we’re draining our glasses and collecting up our stuff and pulling on our jackets and scarves. “I can’t have that in here. You’re welcome to come back next week, but try to keep her under control, eh? Sometimes, she just gets too weird.”
She was right, of course, well within her rights and we didn’t argue. But as far as weird goes, she didn’t see what happened later on. That was when things began to get really weird and out of hand.
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