9. THE LAD NEXT DOOR

9. THE LAD NEXT DOOR

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Time can pass as if it had wings. That’s something we all learn sooner or later, and Taylor learned it as he packed his most precious possessions into a suitcase, ready to leave home for a college residential room, and take his most precious possessions with him.

He’d been on a camping holiday with Ricky twice since the time he’d snapped his photograph of the girl, and both times he’d hoped that she’d be there too, in her tennis dress and carrying a new racquet as she jauntily made her fragrant way to the tennis courts.

It would have to be a new racquet because he packed her old one in his case with the picture. Not that he’d stolen it, he argued when the notion of theft seemed an option: the theft had nothing to do with him but the kleptomaniac of a vicar’s son who had seen it and picked it up without knowing that finders doesn’t necessarily mean keepers. And then that same boy had offered it as a gift to Taylor, and who was he to turn down such a generous thing?

The picture that he’d snapped, the large copy, was still pristine. If gazing at it could wear the image from the paper then it would have been worn out long ago, but gazing at pictures can’t do that.

The odd thing was the way he felt about it. To start with it had been a chance snapping by a teenage boy of a girl he saw, but the photograph, once installed on the wall in his bedroom, rapidly gained in importance to him until it almost gained the qualities of a Madonna, an angel from beyond the realms of life, a star-woman with eyes that conveyed both truth and love to her believers. And he was like one of those. Without forming the thought into words, without even believing it, he knew that she was a goddess and he her High Priest on Earth. It made so much sense. It reflected the oddities of his own heart so properly.

Over the past three years he’d had two girlfriends, but no matter how much they liked him (and one of them even proclaimed her love for him, tearfully as they broke up), they were as nothing to the girl in the photograph. It was she who wandered with him in his dreams at night, she who led him from shadows into light, she who turned her precious lips towards him and kissed his brow. And it was all so innocent. This love he felt was spiritual rather than of the flesh, and all the better for it.

I‘ll be off then, mum,” he said when his case was stacked in the boot of his elderly Ford Popular (ten pounds from a small ad in the local paper). Oh yes, it may still have been the nineteen sixties, but he’d had driving lessons and passed his test and could drive himself into his own future.

Be careful won’t you, Taylor?” she called anxiously from the front door as he slowly drove off.

He waved back at her, and smiled. He was slowly and rather majestically aiming his elderly and somewhat smoky saloon car towards the future, and that future, he could tell, was bright.

His room at college was small with a desk, a chair, a tiny wardrobe and a bed. But it was home, at least for his first year. He looked about him, and sighed as he undid his suitcase and started unpacking.

The first thing he did was carefully take his photograph of Angela (that’s what he called her when he thought about her on the wall, not the picture of a stranger but a portrait of Angela.) He carefully put her on the dead centre of a small notice board and sat back on his bed and stared at her. The feelings he’d experienced that first time he’d seen her came flooding back. She had been perfect then and even though her image was monochrome, she was perfect now.

His door opened. No knocking, just a stranger barging in, a lad of his own age with a sloppy grin on his face and the smell of cider about him.

Thought I’d introduce myself,” he said, “thought I’ll let you know who lives next door!”

Sometimes, thought Taylor, you take an instant dislike to a person, and I might take an instant dislike to this one any moment now.

Come in,” he said, pointedly.

Oh. Yes, sorry and all that. It’s the thrill of the moment,” apologised the other, and Taylor would never have forgiven him but for the suggestion of sincerity in his slightly slurred words.

I’m Taylor,” he said.

Oh yes. Bernie,” the other introduced himself, and then he paused mid-movement and stared, stock-still at the photograph on the small latticed notice-board.

My God,” he breathed, “she’s special!”

Yes,” acknowledged Taylor.

I mean, really special,” repeated Bernie, clearly captivated.

It’s Angela,” Taylor told him, and then he began an invention that would go on and on and on, “I met her on holiday...”

You lucky sod! Being with a bird like that! Look at those legs!”

It had never been the legs for Taylor, though he’d noticed them, of course. But it had been the girl’s hair, her wonderful, even-featured face with its friendly, open smile. And that little tennis dress teased by shadows in its folds and creases and almost inviting.

She’s a good friend,” he lied. Lied, because she wasn’t, was she? He’d never spoken to her, didn’t even remember the sound of her voice, but she had handled his camera, no, his mother’s camera, and taken that one picture of Ricky and himself by the tent before she skipped off across the field.

I’ll bet she doesn’t half go… Grrr!” grinned Bernie, “I’ll bet there’s no holding her down when she starts, there’s no stopping her when she wants it! I’ve got a girl back home and there’s no stopping her, either, she’s up for it morning noon and night. I’ll bet your Angela’s like that? Hey? Morning noon and night?”

Especially night,” said Taylor for no better reason than he needed experiences in the vacuum of his life, and those experiences must at least measure up to those of this Bernie creature who, by the sound of it, was some mighty sexual predator. After all, isn’t that what invention is for, he asked himself.

Well, I’m Bernie and it’s nice to know you,” grinned his visitor, and he slowly reversed out of the door he’d entered uninvited by, “we’ll have to have a get-together some time, you and your Angela and me and Josie. Yes, that’d be good, that would, the four of us and then, afterwards, the four of us, nice and snug and cosy on one of these beds...”

Then he was gone. He even closed the door, quietly as if he knew doors should be shut quietly, and Taylor was suddenly very much alone.

I’m sorry, Angela,” he whispered, “I’m very, very sorry...”

© Peter Rogerson 13.06.19



© 2019 Peter Rogerson


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Added on August 13, 2019
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Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing