EVENING OUT FOR INGRID.

EVENING OUT FOR INGRID.

A Story by Terry Collett
"

A BOY AND GIRL IN 1950S LONDON AT A FUN FAIR.

"




The fun fair was on the bomb site off Meadow Row. Ingrid waits on the corner of Rockingham Street and Meadow Row for Benedict. He said he'd take her around after tea. It was getting dark; the cold air was creeping up on her. She had on her old coat with the missing buttons, her hands in the pockets, collar up to keep cold from her neck. The street lamps lit up circles of light, leaving shadows of darkness. She looks up the slope to see if he is coming. Her arms hurt where her father had gripped her tight and shook her. He didn't want her to go to the fun fair, said she didn't deserve it, anyway, he said, I don't have the money to waste on such stuff. Then he'd gone out up West, to meet friends, drink and see a show (strip show more like). Her mother said she could go, but to be home before her father got back and gave her 2/- to spend. One of the last horse drawn coal carts went by, the horse weary, the driver sitting up on his seat, half asleep. Benedict came around the corner of the flats and down the slope, riding his invisible cowboy horse, slapping his thigh to get it to go faster. Sorry I'm a bit late, he says, we had rice pudding for tea and it was lush and I had second helpings. I haven't had rice pudding for ages, she says, I had bread and jam and a mug of warm tea. Should have come to my house and had rice, he says, Mum would have given you some; she likes you (and feels sorry for you he thinks, but doesn't say). They walk up Meadow Row, he talking of the Lone Ranger TV programme and how he thought of making a mask like the Ranger wears out of cardboard and crayoning it black. She listens to him in silence, looking at his cowboy hat pushed to the back of his head, his 6 shooter imitation silver gun tucked in the belt of his jeans, his old brown mucking-about-in-shoes(as he calls them), the jacket and grey shirt unbuttoned at the neck. Come on, he says, let's get to the fun fair, putting his arm under hers, making her wince. What's up? He asks, as she rubs her arm. She bites her lower lip. Don't tell me, Benedict says, your old man's been having a go at you again? She looks down at her feet, her shoes leak, her toes feel damp. It's nothing, she says, just a bruise. What a git, Benedict says; if I was older I'd thump his head with my gun butt. She looks at him. His eyes gleam in the street light. His hair is short and   tidy. I've got 2/-, she says, Mum gave me. He taps his jean pocket. I've got 1/-6d from my mum and 2/6d from my old man, Benedict says. They walk onto the bomb site. The noise of laughter and machines and calling voices and screams of girls on the Big Wheel or Dodgem Cars. Ingrid follows Benedict, traces his footsteps over the uneven ground, the puddles, the wires and cables. The lights flash on and off, faces loom out of the darkness, people pass by, noises whoosh by her ears. Benedict goes to the air rifle range with its metal ducks going along at the back of the tent. He pays the man and picks up a rifle and aims at the moving ducks. She watches, draws nearer, senses his excitement, his determination, one eye shut, the other following along the barrel. Thud, thud, it goes, one duck falls from sight, the other moves on. She waits, feels the cold, rubs her arms with her hands, feels the pain in her arms, her father's grip ghostly still there. After a few hits and an exchange of coins, Benedict wins a furry toy and gives it to her. She looks at it, a dog, brown with a red ribbon around its neck. She holds it close to her chest. They move on to the coconut stall, where coconuts are in a line on holders which you have to knock off with small balls. Here have a go, he says, handing Ingrid a ball. She aims at the coconuts, but misses. Sorry, she says, not much good at throwing. He smiles at her. Not to worry, it’s the having a go that matters, he says, taking another ball and aiming and throwing. He misses. Tries again, misses. There you go, he says, even I'm not much good at it. He gives the woman another coin and grabs a ball and aims and throws. The coconut is knocked from the holder onto the uneven stony ground. The woman gives it to him with a toothy grin.  He puts it in his jacket pocket and they walk on and around. Ingrid hugs her toy dog close to her. She'll have to hide it in her bedroom, in case her father sees it and asks where she got it from, and she is too frightened to lie to him, and if he found out she'd been to the fun fair, when he said she couldn't, she'd be in for it then. She'd tuck the toy dog inside her bed and hope he didn't see it. Then Benedict takes her on the Dodgem Cars and pays the youth by the side and they get in a car and sit waiting for it to start. She senses him next to her, his eyes lit up with excitement, his hands gripping the steering wheel, his foot on the pedal. She feels safe beside him. Safe and sound. When her father smacked her the other day for spilling milk down her school blouse, it stung for what seemed hours, holding back the tears until it seemed they would burst from her eyes in bucketfuls, she thought of Benedict, wondering what he'd say if he knew, if he saw. I'll plug him full of cap smoke, he said the other day, when he saw a bruise on her thigh which caught his eye. After the Dodgems, he takes her on the Big Wheel, which makes her feel sick, then they have a go throwing plastic rings over ducks in water for a prize, but didn't win, despite Benedict's good efforts and aims and misses. She has no money left. It has all gone. I've got a 1/- he says, enough for some chips from the chip shop, if you like. She nods. Warm her up; she thinks, inside and out, hot newspaper wrapped hot salty vinegary chips. They walk off the bomb site and over the crossing to the fish and chip shop with its bright lights and smells of frying and fat and vinegar and salt. Benedict buys two bags and they stand by long table at the back with a green and white wall, with pictures of fishes and ships at sea, and eat the chips with their fingers. She looks at him as he eats, his way of holding chips in his fingers, the way he lifts them to his mouth, tossing the hot chips around to cool them down. He studies her as she eats. There is something sad about her, her eyes seem fearful, her mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water, her thin fingers taking one chip at a time, wincing when she moves an arm. He knows other boys at school and round about call her names and say she smells or has head lice or stinks of piss, but he likes her, thinks she has her own beauty, like to feel her warm hand in his when they walk together or when she rides her invisible horse beside him across the bomb site plains in pursuit of Injuns or baddies. Having finished the chips and thrown the paper in a bin and walk out into the darkness of an October evening. Time to go home, he says, money's all spent, chips all gone. She walks beside him, hugging the toy dog, wondering where to hide it, fearing her father discovering. Benedict runs a hand over his toy gun, feels the smoothness, the sense of cold steel, Ingrid beside him, his cowgirl moll. The moon is a big silver dollar in the blackening sky; the stars are spun silver coins on a table in a gambling game. He thinks of home and TV, then bed, snuggling down with his Rob Roy book before lights out. She thinks of home, her mother in front of the black and white TV, laughing along with the canned laughter, shouting at the people who don't shout back, and she Ingrid, saying good night, sneaking off to her room, undressing in the cold dampness, seeing the bruised arms, black and blue, turning greeny yellow, folding her clothes on a chair, take grips from her hair, holding the toy dog near to her chest, hidden from view, snuggling down, listening out for her father's return, the slam of door, and the loud rows as loud as they were before.
















© 2013 Terry Collett



Author's Note

Terry Collett
ART WORK BY MICHAEL WARREN

My Review

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Featured Review

You paint a very vivid picture with your detailed description. Very poignant too. I would have liked to read more! I would be interested to know if your lack of paragraphs was intentional? I found it physically quite difficult to read on the screen ... kept losing my place! But perhaps the uninterrupted flow was necessary for the story. It did make a good read!

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Terry Collett

1 Year Ago

Thank you.



Reviews

Tony Jordan recommended you and your writing to me as I expressed a keen interest in "slice-of-life" pieces, what some call Flash Fiction.

This piece has so many "pictures" and "colors" that come immediately to mind upon reading your words. That's a talent and skill I very much admire.

As an Ugly American, we have no "bomb sites" that are now carnival grounds. I had to stop and think about the era in which this took place. I also liked that the girl is not named - it's not important to the story - only Benedict as he is a plot element. When I write Flash, I seldom name my characters or describe them fully as the event is the story. I am anxious to read more of your work. I read your profile and will be looking up your work on the sites mentioned. Very happy to have found you and I will properly thank Tony.

Posted 2 Months Ago


Melancholy. Beauty in simple things. Life as it was.

Well done.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Terry Collett

1 Year Ago

Thank you, Philip
I guess you have to be of a certain age to really appreciate this piece - and I am! Though I was never a cowboty fan until Audie Murphy. Our fairs were on St Georges Field. Thanks for revisiting the memories Terry.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Terry Collett

1 Year Ago

Thank you, Irwin.
You paint a very vivid picture with your detailed description. Very poignant too. I would have liked to read more! I would be interested to know if your lack of paragraphs was intentional? I found it physically quite difficult to read on the screen ... kept losing my place! But perhaps the uninterrupted flow was necessary for the story. It did make a good read!

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Terry Collett

1 Year Ago

Thank you.
This is a very well written story, very sad too. I felt a great deal of empathy for Ingrid. That's what good writing does, it stirs the emotions.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Terry Collett

3 Years Ago

Thank you very much.

Thats how it was and thats how it will be remembered. You have captured the past and brought it back to life with all your accurate and colourful details. This story is one millions of people can relate to.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Terry Collett

3 Years Ago

Thank you, Leigh
I found a lot here including shared memories. Personal yet universal. True yet filtered through subjective memories. Very well written

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Terry Collett

3 Years Ago

Thank you, Ken.
"She watches, draws nearer, senses his excitement, his determination, one eye shut, the other following along the barrel. Thud, thud, it goes, one duck falls from sight, the other moves on. She waits, feels the cold, rubs her arms with her hands, feels the pain in her arms, her father's grip ghostly still there."

You are a master of descriptive story-telling...Bravo

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Terry Collett

3 Years Ago

Thank you, Semi.
Sami Khalil

3 Years Ago

You are welcome...:)................
Like this, my time, I grew up in London at this time ; a well penned piece of prose, anecdotal but never trivial, full of details and well written.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Terry Collett

3 Years Ago

I write how it was(at least as far as my memory recalls). I lived at the Elephant & Castle which is .. read more

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Added on October 15, 2013
Last Updated on October 15, 2013
Tags: BOY, GIR, 1950S, LONDON, FUN FAIR

Author

Terry Collett
Terry Collett

United Kingdom



About
Terry Collett has been writing since 1971 and published on and off since 1972. He has written poems, plays, and short stories. He is married with eight children and eight grandchildren. on January 27t.. more..

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