A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Taylor finally meets Angela in the flesh


So where’s that lifetime fan of mine?” squeaked the girl.

That was the first thing he noticed about her, besides the peaches and cream beauty of a face that had haunted him in black and white for years.

The second thing he noticed was the bump where her slim stomach had been. Angela Hardacre was as pregnant as any young woman could be, and it shocked him. In not one of his fantasies had she been swollen like this!

Louella reached for his hand and held it firmly.

He’s here,” murmured Ricky, beckoning her, “this fine young fellow, besides being my best man in a couple of days, is your lifetime fan, Taylor to everyone who cares.”

And also Taylor to those who don't give a damn,” smiled Taylor, squeezing Louella’s fingers gently.

I’ve been told you took a snapshot of me years ago?” queried Angela, walking up to them. “I’ve been intrigued,” she added. “I don’t actually remember either of you. I remember camping, of course, with mummy and daddy, in an awful cramped tent on a grotty patch of grass, and I’ve been told you asked me to snap you in front of your tent, but I’m afraid there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then and it’s completely gone.”

It was years ago,” agreed Taylor.

He worshipped that picture of you, and then he met me,” put in Louella, making a point.

Let me sit down,” murmured Angela, her voice still prone to squeaking, “you can see I’ve got myself into the family way, and to be quite honest it’s a blasted nuisance. It gets my back, you know, and a girl needs a strong back on the courts. If I could find the moron who did it to me I’d screw his genitals off!”

So you’re not married then?” asked Taylor, unnecessarily.

Me? Married? That’s a fine one, that is! None of the boys down the club are good enough for daddy to give his permission to, and those he might like can’t tell a backhand smash from a lob!. Daddy wants Mr Perfect for his little girl even though she is twenty and quite grown up enough to know who’s best for her. No, I’m fancy free and pregnant because one of the boys thought it would be fun to have his wicked way with me at the Christmas bash last December, and then disappeared into the blue when I told his of the consequences. The sod said I agreed, but what’s that got to do with the price of meat? It’s a good job I’ve got understanding parents or I’d be in all sorts of trouble. But mummy is helping me along, and daddy’s so sweet about it.

What club?” asked Louella, “you talked of boys down the club?”

Angela heaved herself into a seat and Taylor could tell that she was can’t have been too many weeks from giving birth to an offspring she didn’t seem to want.

That’s better,” she squeaked, “the sports club that I belong to. That’s where all the boys are in their squeaky clean shorts and naughty desires. You see, until I started swelling I played a bit of tennis. Quite a bit, actually: daddy will tell you how much if you ask him. One of the reasons I look back on that camping holiday with distaste, you know, the time when you say I took a photo of you two lads, is because a nasty little pervert of a kid stole my racquet, and it was a special one. It’s even signed by the great Fred Perry himself, and I know it was him because I was there when he signed it! And the brat actually pinched it and probably sold it for pennies when it’s worth pounds!”

You know Fred Perry?” asked Ricky.

Well, daddy does, though Freddie boy is my hero too. It was daddy who got the racquet for me. I’ve been in tears ever since it was stolen. Daddy chased the kid up when we discovered the theft but he reckons he never had it, then he changes his story and says he gave it to someone on the road, a tramp probably, then he clams up. The brat! I only put it down for a couple of minutes to frill up my tennis panties and he took it!

Very sad,” murmured Taylor, his mouth suddenly dry.

It’s more than very sad!” screeched Angela, “daddy even put a reward for it’s return in the papers, a hundred pounds, would you believe it!”

And you say a tramp’s got it?” asked Taylor, “you know that for a fact?”

Tears were beginning to form in Angela’s eyes as she nodded. “Of course do!” she squealed,of all the nasty things, for a tramp to have it,” she said in a voice that Taylor was already beginning to find annoying.

What made you think it was a tramp?” asked Ricky.

That’s the kind of creature who’d take it,” sniffed the girl. “You can’t imagine anyone decent stealing it, can you?”

I’m not a tramp,” said Taylor, “am I?” he added, teasingly.

Well, is this why I’m here?” asked Angela suddenly of Ricky. “I’ve let your boy see me, but I don't really understand it! Anyway, I’ve done what I promised and shown myself, daddy’s in the car waiting for me and I’ll go if all you can do is make fun of me, joking about smelly old tramps!”

Although she had only just sat down and before the champagne was poured into the five glasses, she stood back up and prepared to bustle out of the bar.

Wait,” said Taylor, “You shouldn’t jump to conclusions. I may be nothing like a tramp but the truth is I’ve got your tennis racquet. The vicar’s boy gave it to me years ago, when we were going back home after that holiday, and I didn’t know it was stolen. You can have it back if it’s yours, of course you can, and I don’t want any reward!”

She looked at him through suddenly huge eyes.

You’re not just saying it?” she said, “Say that you’re not lying to me?”

What is this girl like, thought Taylor, of course I’m not lying to her…

I never lie,” he said, “if you want it, it’s in my suitcase, and that’s in the boot of my car in this very pub’s car park. Wait here and I’ll fetch it.”

i’ll come with you, mate,” suggested Ricky, and the two of them made their way out of the bar and towards the car park.

So that’s been your heroine all these years,” grinned Ricky as Taylor unlocked his car. “By the look of it you got off lightly, only having the picture of her!”

You can say that again,” agreed Taylor, “and that voice! Thank Heavens for Louella, that’s all I can say. Come on, here it is. One signed tennis racquet, hardly used.”

Okey-doke, then. Let’s give it to the girl and she can go back to daddy’s car! I wonder if that’s it, that Jag over there? There’s a miserable looking bloke sitting in it. Probably daddy waiting for his precious pregnant daughter and hoping she gets lost on her way back.”

Taylor followed Ricky’s eyes. Yes, he thought, it must be Angela’s father, or ‘daddy’.

The man looked as if he might be about to burst into tears as he climbed out of the car and stamped his feet irritably on the gravel surface of the carpark.

© Peter Rogerson, 19.08.19

© 2019 Peter Rogerson

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Added on August 20, 2019
Last Updated on August 20, 2019
Tags: photograph, public bar, champagne, racquet


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

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..