… Another Door Opens

In which The Author meets an attractive young lady
with a strange past

I can’t remember exactly when I first met C—. It must have been a couple of years ago, maybe less. I can remember where it was. We were in the pub one afternoon, each of us on our own, sitting on adjacent tables, both sipping soft drinks. I was struggling with a crossword and not really paying much attention to what was going on around me. I was vaguely aware that there was a very attractive woman with dark hair and glasses sitting nearby. I think she was reading a magazine. Suddenly she called over to me and broke my concentration.
‘Why are you wearing gloves?’
‘Why not?’ I replied with a wink.
By this stage I’d been wearing gloves regularly for months, and I was used to people asking me about them. That was my standard reply. She gave me a lovely smile.
‘I used to wear white gloves when I was dancing.’ She gave me a brief demonstration of her rave dancing style.
It didn’t really surprise me to learn that she was a raver. After all, she was in her late twenties and that’s the sort of music which people that age like. We chatted for a minute or two and then she said she had to go. She was softly spoken, intelligent and very pleasant. At this stage we still didn’t know each other’s names or anything else.
The next time I saw her was a few weeks later. I was walking to town through Tesco’s car park, when I caught sight of her a short distance away, also heading to town. Without seeing me, she cut across the flower beds and walked into the offices of the local drug and alcohol counselling service. That shocked me.
I knew full well that Aberdare and the surrounding area has more than its fair share of addicts. A number of my friends and many acquaintances have been down that route over the years. I’m pleased to say that a lot have emerged the other side, older, wiser and cleaned up. A good percentage haven’t. Aberdare’s current crop are mainly are in their twenties or thirties. Some of them are older, but the average smackhead doesn’t get to worry about the value of his/her old age pension.
They’re skinny, pale, heavily tattooed, often scarred, and largely unattractive individuals (both male and female) who form little clusters in town. They wear knocked-off clothes, imitation designer tracksuits, Elizabeth Duke bling and baseball caps, and some of them have emaciated-looking dogs. Every so often you’ll see one of them lurking outside a shop, keeping watch while his mates are on the rob inside. More rarely you’ll see one of them being put in a police car. The desk sergeant at Aberdare nick probably knows them as well as the landlord of a pub knows his own ‘regulars.’
One of their favourite haunts is the seating area outside Shepherd’s Pharmacy in Whitcombe Street. They gather there every afternoon and sit swigging Special Brew directly underneath the sign warning of a fine for drinking in public. Someone with a warped sense of humour has opened a studio an empty can’s throw from the dispensary counter and called it Tattoo Junkies.
By about 4 p.m. they usually start arguing among themselves and frightening passers-by, while the town’s little female PCSO tries to disperse them. Sometimes a full-blown fight erupts in Commercial Street in full view of shoppers and staff alike. We get to hear the running commentary over the town’s Storenet radio system in the pub.
I hardly knew the woman whom I’d seen, but somehow she didn’t strike me as belonging to that crowd.
A few months later, she came into the pub again one afternoon. She was with a chap I knew vaguely, so they came over to chat. She was wearing a work uniform, so she was obviously well on the road to recovery. I gathered that they were an item, but we chatted anyway for a while. C— was on her way to work, so she’d called in for a coffee beforehand. She was definitely not what most people would expect a recovering addict to be like. I suppose it just goes to prove that addiction can affect anyone, regardless of their background.
Over recent months we’ve seen quite a lot more of each other, usually in the pubs. C— tends to call in before or after work, and if we’re both on our own we’ll have a chat. She’s very intelligent, but sometimes her train of thought gets a little bit delayed at the signals. When she found out that I had my own library, that made her day.
She’s extremely pretty, with curly dark hair, slim, and above average height. She’s got great style, too – she likes to wear striking clothes and shoes, and always looks great whenever she’s dressed up. Sometimes, though, her addictive personality breaks through.
One evening over August Bank Holiday weekend, she staggered into my local pub absolutely steaming, having been out all day with a mutual (female) friend. She looked amazing, wearing a tight black dress and an elaborate black hairpiece piled up on her head, and was just about coherent when she collapsed onto the seat beside me. She did her best to talk to me for a while before disappearing to get a taxi home. I still tease her about the night she turned up and tried to pass herself off as an Amy Winehouse tribute act.
She came into the pub in town about a month ago, and this time she had a pink hairpiece in. She was really sexy. She told me she was looking for her husband. She’s getting divorced at the moment, and it seemed as though they’d had an argument on the phone. We had a good chat again, and this time we exchanged phone numbers (at her suggestion.)
We’ve been texting each other fairly steadily since. Most of it’s just mundane stuff, but last week I remembered that there was a make-up party in the pub in the evening. I texted C— in the afternoon to see whether she fancied coming along for an hour.
Sure enough, she did. She bought some make-up and we had a couple of drinks together. I was potching on the Netbook when she came in, and she asked me what I was up to. I showed her a few odds and ends – Facebook, my blog, some photos I’d taken – and she asked me to tell her more about Facebook. She couldn’t see the point at first, but I showed her some of the features and she quite liked the idea.
It was karaoke night in town, and she was meeting a friend later, so we walked into town together and parted company by the church. Afterwards she texted me and thanked me for inviting her. She said she’d enjoyed my company. I returned the compliment and told her she made a nice change from the usual pub idiots – as well as being much more attractive.
The following night C— came into the pub straight from work. I wasn’t expecting to see her, but she said she’d called in on the off-chance. She’d brought a change of clothes with her, and put her glad rags on in the Ladies’ before getting a drink. She was heading for the Con Club in town, and for a moment I toyed with the idea of going there as well. But I remembered the one and only time I’ve been upstairs in the place (an awful night!) and decided to stay put.
C— sat beside me and announced that she wanted to join Facebook. She’d decided overnight that it looked like fun, and as she could access it via her phone she’d be able to use it regularly. We spent half an hour or so setting up her email account, making a basic profile, and trying to send me a Friend Request from her page. She wrote down her passwords and I explained how to log in when she was at home. She had a fantastic sexy outfit on that night, and I had my camera in my pocket. I told her I could take a lovely profile picture. I was just lining up the shot when the batteries died. Typical! She stayed for a while until her friend rang to say she was on her way to the club, and then she headed off.
We texted a few times that night, exchanging notes on the pub and club. When the singer started, I really regretted staying there. But even with C— for company I couldn’t have faced the Con Club.
We were both busy over the weekend, so we sent a few texts just to keep in touch. On Monday I was in town when C— texted me, wondering if I was around. She was working in the afternoon, so she had a couple of hours to kill. I sent a reply and it failed to go through. My credit had run out. I decided not to top up, as my free texts were due to go in today. I decided to ring her and just give her a quick update.
I was making my way towards the phonebox when I spotted her by the cashpoint. It was perfect timing. I suggested that we could go to the pub and use the wifi to finish her Facebook profile before she went to work. We set up the Netbook, C— tried logging in, and nothing happened. We checked her passwords and tried again. Still no joy. I tried resetting her password, but we couldn’t even get into the email account. (I suspect she’d tried to log in after the Con Club Friday night and locked herself out.)
I took a nice profile picture of her anyway, and saved it for later. She’d only just left to walk to work when I finally cracked her password. I ran after her, told her I’d write down her new ‘temporary’ passwords, and give them to her when I saw her next.
Between the fact that she’s been working odd shifts, and the weather’s been terrible, we haven’t seen each other since Monday afternoon. I found a handy free text message service online, so we’ve been keeping in touch that way instead.
I’m not getting my hopes up too high, of course. I’ve had too many disappointments with women over the past couple of years to get carried away at this early stage. (By sheer coincidence, I saw Jenny on the other side of the road today. It’s the first time I’ve set eyes on her since New Year’s Eve 2009. I don’t know if she saw me or not. I don’t really care either.)
But C— is on the dating scene, and I really wouldn’t mind if we got closer. In the meantime, I’ve got the photo I took of her on Monday set as my Netbook wallpaper. It’s not as good as being with the real thing, of course, but it’ll do for the time being.

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