I can hear Rosie screeching even before I get out of the ute which Dan has parked in the vacant block across the road from the pub. I’m not just being bitchy because she snogged Jim all into the New Year. She does screech. Of course no-one notices or cares when she’s strutting her stuff.
Dan’s mates are propped up at the bar as we walk in. It occurs to me that I’ve never seen any one of them in the company of a female. Like on a date. Isn’t that odd? They’re not as good-looking as Dan but they’re not bad. They can’t all be as picky or nursing lost loves, can they? Here they are, four of Mundoo’s finest, slipping into middle age without having found the love of their life to share it with.
The way they’re looking at me, grinning, makes me think I was right about this bloody dress and boots combo. Dan’s saying something to me but I can’t hear a word through the racket Rosie’s making. Someone turn down her mike, PLEASE! Or better still, disconnect the bloody thing altogether. “Sorry?” I yell, cupping a hand to my ear.
I’ve got a headache coming on. I blame Rosie. Alcohol’s not going to help my head or my mood. “Just a green tea drink, thanks Dan.” Mary keeps a jug of iced green tea under the counter. It’s amber colour makes it look like something much stronger. She shouts patrons drinks of it when they’ve had more alcohol than they can handle. By that stage they can’t tell the difference.
“Glenfiddich?” he asks.
“No. Green – tea – drink. Oh, never mind,” I shake my head. “I’ll get it myself.” I catch Les’ eye. He has no trouble hearing; must come with the job.
I get my drink, lean back against the bar and glower at Rosie. The odd word from the four alongside me catches my ear. Not really paying attention to them until Dan growl’s Joe’s name warningly and when I look Joe is doing that apologising-with-his-hands gesture. Can’t hear what he’s saying but it looks apologetic as well. Dan sees me looking and smiles. He asks if I want to dance and I say, sure.
The dance floor is about the size of your average pocket handkerchief and there are four other couples already squeezed on it. There’s a smoky haze we have to cut through and I don’t know where it’s coming from because there’s no smoking allowed inside the pub. I suspect it’s all the sweat and perfume and beer and cooking smells combined. I’m not enjoying this at all. Dan holds me loosely as we shuffle up against the other couples. I move closer to him to give us more space.
The shrieking and thumping stops at last and we go back to the bar where there’s a fresh iced green tea waiting for me, a fresh beer for my dancing partner. We gulp it down. Dancing is thirsty work but, hey, someone’s got to do it. When the band starts up again I’m ready. I strut to the dance floor in my boots and girly white dress, Dan right behind me. I know this because I turn around to check that he is. While I’m looking over my shoulder, grinning at Dan, I catch Joe watching us, a big grin on his face as he gives me a little wave. I wave back and nearly hit Dan in the face which we both think is funny.
“Joe can be quite nice when he wants to,” I say to Dan as we face each other on the dance floor.
“What?” says Dan, leaning his head towards me.
I go up on tip-toe and whisper into his ear, “I said ……. Joe …… can be quite nice ……” Dan giggles and rubs his ear. I think my breath must have tickled. “Oh, you!” I giggle back, and snuggle into him, swaying to the tune Rosie’s Thorns are belting out. You know, it’s rather nice now. They must have turned their amplifier down and as for Rosie …….. I drift by, swept lightly along like a feather on a breeze, and give her a little wave with my fingers, both hands being clasped around Dan’s neck ……. Rosie looks awfully nice tonight – awfully nice, and I mean that in the nicest of ways. And she doesn’t sound bad, either; not bad at all. Whatever was I complaining about earlier?
“Dan? Don’t you think Rosie looks awfully nice tonight?” I ask, tugging Dan’s head towards me. He smiles and nods; I don’t think he can hear a word I’m saying. “Awfully nice. Awfully, awfully nice,” I continue to myself and it occurs to me …… that I’m using a word I never ever use ……… an awful lot tonight. Get it? Using ‘awfully’ an ‘awful’ lot? Oh, I’m so funny sometimes!
But seriously ……. Rosie does look good in that black velvet mini-skirt and vest with the red sparkles sparking off them like electricity in the air. Her blouse is red and that’s sparking too and pushing her boobs up and up and up – my goodness but she’s got big boobs, hasn’t she?! – and her red high-heeled boots are so, so glossy I can see myself reflected in the leather as I spin by. Rosie waves back and her fingers radiate sparks like she’s some Eastern goddess. Her blonde hair is haloed and sparking as well. I squeeze Dan. “Isn’t this great?” I beam at him. He beams back happily.
When the music stops I go, “O-oh!” and frown my disappointment at the band. Rosie looks straight at me and grins. “Back shortly, folks,” she tells me then winks. “A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do, if you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, Rosie! I know what you mean!” I reply. Somebody laughs. I didn’t think I was that funny that time but there you go. It doesn’t take much to amuse some people.
Back at the bar there’s been a debate going on in our absence and, guess what? I can hear! It’s a bloody miracle! A debate about dogs, is it? I like dogs. I jostle myself into the group and listen intently to Matt who is holding the floor on this one.
“I tell ya, that was no fucken dog!” he declares.
It wasn’t? Pity. I like dogs.
“What was it, then?” Joe wants to know, and so do I now.
“Not a fucken dog, that’s for sure!” asserts Matt, and takes a much needed slurp of his beer.
“Looked like a fucken dog to me,” snorts Joe. To me too, if I’d seen it, because I like …..
“Dingo,” says Matt, then looks around furtively like he’s just let slip a national secret. I look around furtively too. You never know who’s listening these days, do you?
“Dingo?!” splutters Joe and his beer goes everywhere because he had the glass to his mouth when Matt said, ‘Dingo’ and made Joe say, ‘Dingo?!’ right into his full, foam-headed glass of beer. Foam everywhere. A dollop lands on my face. I giggle. It’s so funny. I’m having so much fun! I should hang out with these boys more often. “No dingoes here, mate!” goes Joe and gulps down half of the beer. He’s right; no dingoes here. I give Matt a perplexed look.
“Yeah! Like there’s no foxes!” growls Matt derisively.
I think there’s a flaw in Matt’s argument but for the life of me I cannot pinpoint it.
“Nah, mate. You’re up shit-creek without a paddle on this one,” scoffs Joe. I couldn’t have put it better myself. “It’s a bloody dog, mate.”
I’m nodding at Joe. “I agree with you, Joe.” The band starts up. My face lights up. “You want to dance, Joe?” I ask. Joe gives me a funny look, like he’s a little boy whose Christmases have all come at once. Before he can answer Dan whisks me away. “Oh! All righty!” I giggle.I’m feeling really, really good tonight, just bubbling with energy. I must be sparking like Rosie, that’s how good I feel. How good everything feels. What was I complaining about earlier, old misery guts me?
“Isn’t this great, Dan? Don’t you think it’s just great?” and Dan’s nodding and smiling like he thinks it’s great too. And you know what else is great? Dan! His hands are clasped around my waist, my hands are clasped around his neck and he’s smiling that great smile of his and ……
Dwayne’s violin cuts right through me with its first long, sad cry. I blink and bite my lip and press my body into Dan’s. It’s so sad, what that violin is crying about; so sad. I cling to Dan while we sway a little without going anywhere. This isn’t a tune to dance to, that’s for sure. Then the violin jumps out of that dark hole of sad rememberings and my heart jumps with it into a fiery gypsy dance, all wild and wanton and full of wicked promises. That’s better, isn’t it Dan? I smile up at him.
Ooh, but that violin is good! One minute it’s got me crying, the next minute it’s got me wanting to do wicked things with Dan. And if I’m not mistaken, it’s working the same magic on Dan. Naughty violin, but oh so nice! How come I’ve never noticed how sexy Dan is? His eyes, the way he looks at me; his lips and that irresistible smile, his body gyrating against mine …… Ooh! Is it hot in here or what? I slide up against him and press my lips to his ear. “I want to go home, Dan,” I tell him with some urgency.
I’m feeling a bit wobbley as I turn to go but Dan’s got his hand around my waist so we make it to the bar okay where I smile at Dan’s nice friends and we say, ‘See ya later,’ and Joe hands me my denim jacket which he’s been minding for me, the sweet man. I’m too hot to wear it so Dan carries it for me, the sweet, sexy man. Outside the cool air hits me and just for a second the nice, floating-in-warm-water feeling is gone and I think, ‘something’s not right here …..’ but then the warm feeling’s back and I let myself fall into it because it’s so nice and I don’t care ….. I don’t care about anything!
In the ute I don’t put on the seatbelt because if I did I couldn’t cuddle into Dan. That makes me think of Jim and what he would say and that makes me giggle like the naughty girl I am and Dan wants to know what ‘s so funny and I tell him and he says ‘Fuck Jim!’ and that makes me sad because I didn’t and now Dan’s sad as well so I snuggle into him and give him a kiss to make him feel better and then we both giggle because the ute goes off the road a bit and just misses a post. I can barely control myself for the next long minutes till the ute stops at the gate and I can crawl up onto my seat and kiss him again and this time Dan kisses back and I have to give him an A+ for starters and then my grading goes all to hell and off the scale and I’m thinking why haven’t we done this before? I mean, what a waste of nine months!!
We cuddle our way onto the verandah and I’m fumbling through the denim jacket for the keys but I can’t find them which is annoying because I’m sure I zipped them up inside this little pocket here and the little zip is real fiddley at the best of times and after all my struggling with it the damn keys are not in here. I try the pocket on the other side and, hah! here they are, the sneaky little buggers, playing hide-and-seek. Next I drop them and then I bump heads with Dan who’s bending down to pick them up for me and we giggle and I tell Dan he can open the door because I’m having troubles, I don’t know why, but he wants another kiss and his big hand is cupping my breast and, um, wait a minute …… how come my strap’s off my shoulder and my breast’s out in the open air? But Dan’s covering it with his hand so that’s all right ……. um ……
“Um …… Dan? ….. “
It’s hard to say much when your lips are locked together. “Dan?” And your breast is being fondled. “Uh ….. Dan?” And a hand is making its way under your dress, up your thigh …. “Dan, what are we doing?” I ask. I’m curious, that’s all. Because this is nice but, seriously, what are we doing? Because this is Dan and me and we don’t do this. Are we drunk?
“It’s all right, Lucy. We’re not drunk,” Dan assures me.
He’s right. Because I didn’t drink. Maybe it’s all those anti-oxidants in the green tea.