GO WITH THE FLOW
a short story by Harry Rogers
Maurice Warwick (Mo to everyone who knows him) sat on a stool at the counter in the saloon bar of The Prince of Wales with a pint of Guinness and a copy of the New Musical Express. This had been a typical 1970’s day for him. In the morning he had visited a couple of friends in Blackheath Village for breakfast where he had managed to sell a couple of rare Buddy Holly CDs he had bought at the Deptford record fair thus making a profit of £15. At midday he had gone to The Three Tuns for a lunchtime livener where he met up with a couple of members of local punk rock sensations The Prannits who were rehearsing in a famous rock stars rehearsal studio just around the corner. After a couple of pints he had gone with them for their afternoon session and watched them lay down two tracks for their next single release. The session finished at six thirty and Mo walked to the Prince of Wales where he was looking to meet up with a journalist who he hoped was going to buy one of his photographs for an article about Deptford Fun City, as the South London music scene was known. A typical day for Mo who always knew how to go with the flow. The bar was empty save for one geezer sat at the other end of the bar. Mo looked up to see him looking at him in a strange way, kind of eying him up and down.
Mo said “Hello, is everything OK here?”
“I’m sorry,” the stranger said, “I was deep in thought.”
“I thought you were looking at me.”
“Well I was but not in any threatening way, I’m sorry if you thought otherwise.”
“Oh OK, that’s alright then.” said Mo and returned to the article about Bruce Springsteen in the NME.
“Let me buy you another pint,” offered the stranger, “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“Well that’s very nice, I won’t say no.” answered Mo
The stranger came over and sat on the nearest empty bar stool “Guinness is it?”
“Yes Thanks, cheers.”
He ordered the beer for Mo and then introduced himself, “My name’s Billy Bleasdale.”
“Do you live near here?” asked Billy
“No man, I’ve got a short term flat in Deptford on one of those estates that the council are going to demolish soon, so they say.”
“I live in Kidbrook with my wife. Would you like to see some pictures of her?”
“Yeah, why not.” said Mo
Billy handed him a Kodak paper envelope containing half a dozen photographic prints. He took them out and looked at the first one. There was a portrait of a pretty, dark haired, young woman of about 25 years of age looking confidently out at him. He slid the picture to the back of the pile and looked at the next one, this time she was standing outside a low level block of flats wearing a mini skirt and smiling in a very beguiling way. As he shuffled through the pictures he was getting more interested in her. Then he reached the last one in the pile. This time she was standing in front of a fence at what Mo guessed was an allotment. This photograph was noticeably different to all the rest in that she was standing there with her skirt pulled up to her chest and wearing no underwear. Mo carefully replaced the photographs into the yellow envelope and handed them back to Billy remarking “Hmmm, very nice.”
“Would you like to meet her? My wife, would you like to meet her?”
“Listen” said Mo, “What is this all about, eh? What’s going on here?”
“Oh I’m sorry” said Billy looking a bit sheepish, “I suppose I had better explain.”
“Yes” said Mo, “That might be a good idea.”
“Well, as you can see, my wife, Jamie Lee, is quite a bit younger than me.”
Mo looked at Billy and guessed he must be about 35 years old.
“Yes, I can see that.” said Mo
“Well the point is, I won’t beat about the bush, we have been together since she was sixteen, in fact I married her at sixteen when I was 24. She is 26 now and we have been happily married for ten years.”
“Yes?” queried Mo
“Well about a fortnight ago we were sitting up in bed, you know, talking, like you do, and she says she wonders what it would be like making love to another man. I was a bit taken aback I must admit but she said I wasn’t to think that she was unhappy or anything but she just wondered, that was all, especially seeing as how she had never been with anybody else apart from me. So I kind of looked at her and thought to myself, well you know, I thought, I’ve had other women before her, and it just didn’t seem fair, really. Her not having had any other experience, what with being so young at the start and all.”
“I see, or I think I do, go on”
“Well I thought about it and then a couple of days ago I said to her that I thought it only fair that she should try making love with somebody else, just so that she could put her mind to rest, so to speak. She said that she wouldn’t want to go out and find somebody herself because that somehow wouldn’t seem right. So after a bit more chatting we agreed that I would go out and find someone who might do the trick for us. So here we are and I ask you again, would you like to meet my wife.”
Mo picked up the fresh pint of Guinness and took a long swig of it before looking at Billy, who was staring at him in an earnest way. He thought to himself why not, after all he would be doing them both a favour and she was very attractive, in fact he felt kind of flattered at having been selected for such a task. He thought to himself, go with the flow.
“OK” said Mo, “you’re on. When do you want me come round?”
“Well, I was wondering whether you might make it tonight actually.” said Billy
“Well I haven’t got anything else planned, so the answer is yes, why not tonight.”
“Great,” said Billy, “I’ll just give Jamie Lee a ring and let her know we are on our way.”
He went over to the payphone in the passageway near the toilets and made the call home whilst Mo finished off the Guinness.
Billy came back and said “My car is parked up just outside, my place is only a few minutes away, Jamie Lee says she is so excited and will be ready and waiting for you.”
They left the pub and climbed into Billy’s slightly battered two tone Austin Cambridge car. Twenty minutes later Billy parked up outside the flats and they walked up the stairs to the first floor balcony where he lived with Jamie Lee. It was just after eight o’clock and the sun was almost gone, the sky turned that wonderful streaky red colour that you only get in cities with a lot of particulates in the air.
Billy opened the door and called out “We’re here Jay.”.
Mo followed him into the flat and the first thing that struck him was the smell of strong bedroom joss as he entered the hallway. It was sparsely furnished with a small telephone table and wooden chair, a set of cast iron Victorian coat hooks and a Paul Klee framed print on the primrose yellow painted wall.
Billy asked Mo if he wanted a cup of tea before meeting Jamie Lee but as he had not long finished drinking Guinness he declined the offer. “Oh OK then, well she is waiting to meet you in here.”, and he ushered mo into the first door off the hallway. The scent of the joss was much stronger, almost cloying but not unpleasant, as an established hippy Mo was used to the smell of incense and liked it very well. He looked into the room which was lit only by three large multi coloured candles and as his eyes got used to the low level of light he saw that this was in fact a bedroom. The walls were papered with a deep red paisley patterned paper by Osborne and Little and there, in an ornate brass fluted bedstead, naked and wrapped in a white cotton sheet, Mo made out the face of Jamie Lee looking intently at him.
“Come in,” she said, in a matter of fact way. Mo shuffled his feet a bit before Billy gently eased him forward. Jamie Lee looked at Billy and nodded her head approvingly “He looks good Billy, real good, you chose well.”
Mo felt very awkward but before he could say anything Billy said “Well I’ll leave you both to get to know each other, I’m going to watch the rest of the European Cup match on TV. Have fun.”, and with that he backed out of the room, gently closed the door and left the two strangers looking at each other.
“Well don’t just stand there,” she said, “take your clothes off and come over here.” , and she peeled back the bedclothes on one side off the bed and patted the sheet. Mo was still a bit flustered but he took off his shoes and socks, dropped his loons and pants and stepped out of them and pulled his cheesecloth grandad shirt over his long hair and dropped it onto his trousers. He walked across the room and carefully slid into the bed beside Jamie Lee. He started to say something but before he could utter a word she put her forefinger to his lips and slid her arms around him pulling him towards her. He put one hand on her back and was immediately aware of a lissom body that was electrified with erotic expectation. They spent the next hour and a half making exquisite love three times and she was ecstatic in her satisfaction and whispered “Thank you Mo, that was just wonderful.” He asked her if he could light a cigarette and she said he could and she would have one too. He got out of bed and took two Marlborough from his pocket and lit them both. As they lounged in bed quietly smoking the cigarettes there was a soft knock at the bedroom door. “Come in Billy” she said, and the door opened and Billy came in carrying a tray with a teapot with a cosy, two cups and saucers and a plate of chocolate biscuits.
Billy looked at Jamie Lee in that hopeful kind of way that pet dogs do when they are looking for approval. She looked at him and smiled broadly and just slowly nodded to him. He left them to the tea and closed the door behind him again. Mo drank a cup of tea whilst Jamie Lee made small talk with him about his love life. Mo got dressed quite quickly and he leaned over and kissed her passionately. He knew this was the last time he would see her as it was crystal clear to him that she was totally in love with Billy. Billy came back in and Mo was dressed and ready to go.
Jamie lee looked at Mo and smiled at him as she said, “Thank you so much for a wonderful evening, I’ll never forget you. I just had to make sure I am with the right man, and now I’m certain of it.”
Mo smiled and Billy said “OK then, where would you like me to drop you off?”
There was a late night gig starting at midnight down in Deptford so Mo said “Take me to The Albany Empire please.”. They traveled in silence to Creek Road and as Mo was getting out of the car outside the venue Billy handed him an envelope and said “Thank you very very much for doing that for us, now we can get on with the rest of our marriage with no ifs or buts.”
Mo smiled and looking clearly at Billy he said “No problems, the pleasure was all mine.”
As Billy drove away Mo opened the envelope and inside he found ten crispy five pound notes.
He entered the gig grinning and muttering to himself “Go with the flow, always go with the flow.”
(Any resemblance to anybody living or dead is entirely coincidental.)