It's strange, isn't it?
The effect a girl who you really dig has on the male mind, I mean.
You'll willingly go through any hardship, all manner of personal shit, mental and physical, just to please her.
Go down on hands and knees on vicious broken glass, use her shit for toothpaste...
You name it, if you, like myself, have an obsessive nature, you're there.
No problems, no questions asked.
If it pays off, you feel like you've won the World Cup, Mr Universe, Wimbeldon and an Oscar combined.
If it don't, you feel like a rusty wreck on the scrap-heap, with all the empty, better designed yet ultimately soul-less slick vessels passing you, mocking you, all your failures and faults, when all your endeavours and energy have gone in the wrong direction.
Wasted journeys to meaningless destinations.
Jumping on that bus to Bootle, was an experience in itself.
Didn't mind the driver smirking at me when I passed him the £1.70 fare. I was on a mission, and didn't have time to step aside and analyse my behaviour. A couple of old dears near the front of the bus looked at me with misty eyes, spotting the flowers and whispering to each other, their voices covered by the rumbling diesel engine.
I was almost proud of the fact I was heading into unknown territory, with no real plan of action.
Sometimes, I reasoned, you have to wing it and be impulsive.
Heroes and winners take chances.
Losers sit alone at home and rue their lack of ambition.
I had no script in my head of what I was going to say to her.
But then again... that's what makes it exciting, isn't it?
The bus zipped through the city, Sunday hangovers helping the journey no end, and the traffic lights pleasingly accommodating.
Before I knew it, I had jumped off at Bootle bus station, the Triad tower and the Strand shopping centre looming around me.
I made my way out of the complex and headed up-hill, towards Vaux Crescent.
It was a brisk 20-minute walk and I was mindful of the awful fine rain spitting down on me, the type that caught you off-guard - one minute you thought it wasn't that bad but the next you were absolutely drenched and sneezing.
I arranged myself and my clothing, took a deep breath and steeled up as I reached the front door - it took me a moment to remember which house it was - It had been a long time.
I knocked lightly three times on the letter-box.
Almost immediately, a dog started barking and scratching wildly, making me jump up back in shock as it threw itself against the other side of the door. At that moment I remember thinking of those cliched old stickers that you would see in the grimy front windows of terraced houses with the cheap, ugly type-faces - usually a grainy photo of a slavering Rottweiler or pit-bull, above the slogan "I LIVE HERE".
Although meant to be a deterrent to potential burglars, I always thought it actually meant:
"POOR WHITE TRASH".
I waited there for perhaps a minute, although it felt much longer with the soundtrack of the animal hurling itself against the entry-point, the door-frame rattling. I thought about leaving the flowers on the step - then went against it.
She'd have known who they were from, surely - yet I wouldn't have been able to tell her exactly what was the sketch was. Maybe knock back later? It WAS a Sunday, after all....Maybe she was out?
I turned away from the door and started back down the front path, when I heard the hinges creak open and a stern female voice call out.
I turned back to see Linda's mother standing in the doorway. It was half-open as she gripped the handle with one hand, and the collar of the dog, which was only a small colly terrier. The dog frantically struggled to break free, it's claws clattering and slipping on the front step as it grunted, snorted and whined in protest.
Unconsciously I hid the flowers behind my back.
Linda's mother eyed me up and down with unrestrained suspicion
I had to collect my thoughts for a second before I replied.
She didn't seem to recognise me, which would make things a lot more awkward from here on in.
"Erm....Is your Linda there...Please?"
She shot me a quizzical look. I was dumbstruck for a moment. I didn't expect one-word answers.
Did she mean "Yes, she's here" or was she simply repeating the original "Yes?" question?
"So who is it??"
Right. Now we're making some progress. Not liking the piece-of-shit attitude on display here though, mind....
"It's....Fred" I replied shakily.
"WHO??" She barked her face screwing up, head tilted to one side towards me. Maybe my sense of body language was messed up, but generally when people act as such and make you repeat yourself, it's because hey want to soften you up before they deliver snotty one-liner to which you cannot retort. I smiled back through gritted teeth.
There was a flash of sudden recognition in her eyes and then her glare hardened, her stance going stiff. I'd no doubt been bad mouthed for years under her roof, called all the cunts under the sun.
Not that it bothered me of course.
It was for others to lose sleep about me.
"And what D'YOU wanna see her for?" She snapped, the dog still in her grip, gasping for air as it strained against it's collar.
I looked down to the floor for a moment and then lifted my head back up, a wistful smile on my face coupled with languid, dilated eyes.
I was sorely tempted to to unleash my barbed tongue on her in a savage response to her bullish, childish and patronising attitude. I knew I could have her in tears within a minute, given the opportunity. I could crucify her and her daughter purely through the power of speech. I could expose her behaviour and draw parralels from her upbringing - put her mother on a real guilt-trip.
Having half-anticipated such a negative response, I had memorised a spiel that I could hit her with.
Well, actually I'm here on account of your daughter ignoring my phone calls and text messages. Which is strange actually, because just hours ago she was ready to have my kids.
Yeah, really. She was all over me. This was after she was provided (from an unknown source) with a big bag of beak, which she consumed like a pro over the course of the other night.
Now as someone who perhaps in a naive and misguided sense, cares about and feels affection for Linda, I feel I should inform you, her mother, of the situation. If you were to ask her about it I'm certain she would tell you all about it. Really, go ahead.
"I SAY AGAIN. WHAT DYER WANNA SEE LINDA FOR??"
I snapped back to the present,shaking my head as I focussed on the moment.
No. Show a bit of dignity and self-control. To lose it is to play straight into their hands....
"It's just....I'd very much like to speak to her right now, if at all possible".
That's it. Play it polite. Best way to handle it.
There was a long uncomfortable silence.
The mother regarded me with a dark, lingering look that suggested she had just scraped me from the sole of her shoe. For the first time, I felt a REAL sense of self-satisfaction that I had slept with this woman's daughter.
"A MINUTE". She slammed the door shut, dragging the dog back inside with her.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spied one of the curtains in the window directly above the front door flicker for a moment.
I brought the flowers up from behind my back. Quite why I was hiding them, I didn't know. I composed myself, adjusted my sweater and took a few moments to reflect.
I could actually understand why her mother had been so ratty with me. I remembered the story of how Linda's father who had three children - had suddenly came out as gay and split after maybe 20+ years of marriage. That's pretty lame in my book. You would have thought he would have at least fucking mentioned it before having three kids with her, likes.
A rough hand to be dealt with, no doubt. I supposed that in her shoes, I probably would have been rabidly anti-men as well, after such shocking treatment.
Then again, what was she like during the marriage? Did she drive him towards such action? Who was to know? The mind boggled, totally.
I felt a light touch of rain on my head and looked up to the skies.
Bootle isn't one of the most picturesque areas within Merseyside, but under black skies it's downright ugly, man....