The Night of the Lovelies

By D.F. Lewis

Every month there was a day when Bob and I met to talk of life, the universe, everything. My dear old mother would have had kittens had she known the places we ended up. Yet there was one occasion where I had my own doubts. In fact, wild horses could not drag me to the venue Bob had suggested.

“If not wild horses, how about some loose-limbed lovelies, eh?” said Bob, as if he had read my mind.

I looked at him askance, or at least I think I did. As usual, what had started off as a serious dialogue between deep-thinking individuals about the State of the Nation had quickly degenerated into ludicrous pub-talk and tasteless smut. However I still retained scruples enough to respond: “Bob, I wouldn’t be seen dead in such a place, even if one of your so-called loose-limbed lovelies tugged me there by the short and curlies!” I could not believe my own ears. Had I really said that? Or was it purely the shallow imagination of a hard-pressed narrator?

Bob laughed in an uncivilised manner, with spittle-bullets rattling out like a Lewis Gun. During the rump end of our conversation, there had arrived a third party: a wide-skirted female by the look of it. She sat amongst the other shadows at the back of the otherwise deserted coffee bar. I could sense her eyes boring into my neck. I saw Bob once or twice glancing over in her general direction. We gave each other knowing looks, in some pretence of macho coolness, each hinting to the other that the situation, albeit mysterious and pregnant with unpredictable possibilities, was one that we surely could keep within the tolerances of control. He took to whispering, so that the shadow could not hear, whilst the sounds of her fidgeting on her chair indicated to me at least that she believed that even the slightest change in her stance would bring improved acoustics into play, thus enabling her to gain purchase on our words and, by so doing, to affect their meaning by the simple method of misinterpretation. But the Wurlitzer Juke-Box in the corner seemed to have other ideas, taking on a life of its own, since it abruptly rotated through a number of clicks with, finally, the grating noise of the sapphire stylus dropping neatly into the dusty leader-groove of what transpired to be an ancient Buddy Holly disc.

Then, even Bob and I could hardly hear each other speak. And, with the music, the western-style saloon doors of the coffee bar swung wide, to reveal a giggle of what I could only describe loosely in Bob’s terms as – what was it? – lick-limbed lovelies, dressed in an attractive Fifties mode, who forthwith commenced dancing a rather suggestive form of Rock and Roll. I glanced at Bob to see if this was what he had meant. As he stared glassily straight ahead in front of his face, I saw the jitterbuggers reflected in his engorged eyes. I mouthed a remonstration to indicate that this was not my scene at all. My mother would not only have kittens, but tigers, too. But Bob’s mind had decided to go walkies. Nervously, I clutched my coffee cup and hunched my shoulders as a carapace of protection.

One ‘lovely’ approached our table and, beneath the music, muttered a few words to me, trying at the same time to drape her length over my lap. I was paralysed, but the shadow in the corner bellowed some innard-clogged gutterals which, despite their bestial incomprehensibility, the ‘lovely’ seemed to understand and she withdrew from my vicinity. I returned my attention to Bob, relieved to see that he was back from his skull-out. He leaned across and tweaked my shoulders, as if he wanted my ear nearer. The Juke-Box stopped suddenly (as they sometimes did if a coin of too low a denomination was used) and his whisper becmae louder than intended: “I’ve got a hard-on!”

The dancers freeze-framed. I grimaced, as embarrassment seeped up from the pit of my stomach – bringing with it a prurient froth to the roof of my mouth and rancid bile to my nose and nostrils. “Bob, for God’s sake!” He blushed, as I must have done, too, and tried to stand up. However, the ‘lovely’ lurking at our periphery loomed to the very edge of our table territory. I could hardly bring myself to look up, whilst Bob, now forced back into the bottom of his coffee cup, desperately scried the pattern of its dregs.

The shadow’s voice was simply a series of tongue clicks, throat grunts and belly laughs. The lights were doused, as if the meter yearned another shilling. I heard a sound that was too obvious to be implied: a crunching-off, like celery, a splitting asunder, a tearing-out of a fibrous root from the body-grabbing earth. And the she-shadow was now touchable terror: harnessed to such a root, as she jigged and jived, in the flickering of her own luminescence – like a jester on heat. The dream-eyed ‘lovelies’ gave grudging welcome to the jump-lead she now wielded, as they were in turn short-circuited to the very bottom bone and hell of the she-shadow’s searing soul.

The lights flashed once and then came on permanently. The Juke-Box completed the Buddy Holly disc – but it now seemed to be a different song altogether, reminding us that love is getting closer, going faster than a rollercoaster…

Bob was slumped across the table, his head lolling, thick coffee drooling from his lips upon the formica. And there was a slurping noise upon the floor from somewhere below the table, a spilling that became a splattering. I shrugged. I could’ve wept blood. I’d taken Bob out on the wrong day of the month – yet again.

There was no sign of the ‘lovelies’ anywhere. Loose bits, all of them! I cursed my mother, for not warning me about life and its pitfalls. All she ever did was irritatingly twiddle her whiskers as she nagged me to keep clean by licking my underparts and always to help the earth to gobble up my doings.