The Jolly Boys

Shirley Stephenson is a bored housewife who never stops day in day out, its the same humdrum existence. Bob her husband is a lazy good for nothing. who lost his leg in an industrial accident and is claiming benefit fraudulently. he keeps her short and moans because she goes to the bingo. Shirley finds the courage to file for a divorce and free herself. her life is suddenly transformed after she finds all of the compensation that Bob has been hiding from her. she orders a taxi she takes £30.000 and takes a box with some things that her gran had left her.

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12. 12

"Would you excuse us for a moment.'

"Yes of course.'

The two women went to the toilet and once inside checked to see if anyone was around.

"What are we going to do Joyce, if you want to go home I’ll go with you.'

"I don't know, what would you do?'

 "If it were me I would dump Roger the lodger and get someone who doesn't just use you for sex.'

"Do you think that Roger is just using me?'

"Yes, I do Joyce, I'm telling you that as a friend.'

"Right then let’s go.'

"What are we going home?'

"No stupid, to Shiremoor.'

"Give me a minute to fix my lippy and I’ll be right out.'

Shirley pursed her lips together then added some new lipstick called "seductive peach."

She rolled her lips together to spread it. The no smear lipstick was the perfect shade for her. she didn't like the darker shades of red. She combed her hair then took out the mini can of hairspray and set her hair before checking herself over in the mirror. Joyce too was making herself look presentable.

"Come on let's go get these men before they both leave.'

They walked out of the ladies’ room to see he two men sitting waiting.

"I've called a taxi said Gary.'

"Not Westholme I hope?'

"No,' Blueline is that alright?'

"My man works in the taxi office for Westholme and all the drivers know me.'

"I see, well we don't have to worry then do we.'

Shirley finished her drink then they made their way outside.

The taxi pulled up a few minutes later and Ritchie sat with his arm around Joyce as the cab pulled away.

"Shiremoor, Bywell Grove please said Gary who was sitting up at the front. the taxi set off along the high street then turned up Station Road it drove all the way up towards the Benton Hypermarket then turned right.'

"Had a good night then asked the driver to Gary, trying to make polite conversation.'

"Yes, very nice.'

"Don't I know you, your face looks familiar.'

"I drive the 340 around what they call the Magic Roundabout in Holy Cross.'

"No,' I'm sure that I've seen you somewhere before.'

"They say everyone has a double.' Gary was hoping that he wouldn't mention the parachute regiment during the Falklands when he was interviewed after the death of Lt Colonel H. Jones VC on Goose Green.

"Aye that's true, I've been mistaken a few times.' Shirley kept her head down just in case the driver recognised her. She was glad when they got out and the taxi pulled away.

"Well this is it, welcome to my humble abode said Gary as he placed the key into the lock and opened the front door. he went inside and put the living room light on.

"It's a lot bigger than I expected said Joyce.'

Please take off your coats and make yourselves at home. Ritchie, you know where everything is please pour the girls whatever they want to drink, I’m going to use the loo. on his way Gary shouted down the passage that there were some ice cubes in the freezer.

"Vodka ladies?'

"I'll have a Bacardi and coke if you don't mind.'

"No bother at all Joyce, would you like ice?

"Yes please.'

"Ritchie poured out the drinks then went to get ice.'

The bungalow was spotless which surprised both women. it had been tastefully decorated and had a sort of minimalistic feel to it the floors were not carpeted but were made of polished wood. the kitchen was fully fitted with a smoked glass dining table and six chairs. The tiles on the floor were black polished slate as were the bench tops. Everything a cook would need was there. copper based pans, and utensils and every mod con from a coffee maker to a food blender. both Shirley and Joyce were well impressed. the bungalow was cleaner than both of their houses.

Gary came out of the toilet he'd washed and dried his hands before showing them where the toilet was if they needed to use it. he turned on some light music not too loudly so that they could talk without having to shout.

Ritchie poured a Bacardi for them both then handed one to his friend with some ice.

"I was just saying to Joyce how tidy you keep the place.'

"In the Paras' you have to keep everything spotless and in order. old habits die hard.'

"What about you Ritchie?'

"My house is nowhere near as clean as this I’m afraid, I mean it's not dirty or anything. but not as posh as this.'

Both Ritchie and Gary had removed their shoes at the door and Gary had unbuttoned his shirt and removed his tie.'

"Come let's dance said Gary as he took Shirley by the hand and then slow danced around the living room. He was a very good dancer.

"Where did you learn to dance like that?

"It's just a sign of a misspent youth Shirley said Gary as he spun her around.' My mother sent me to dancing classes when I was a little boy. I didn't like it a first but then we got to dance with some pretty girls, so I stuck at it.'

"Did you dance in competitions.'

"Hell yes, I have danced in the ballroom at Blackpool.'

That doesn't surprise me, you're very good, I bet you can jive very well.'

"I know all the moves Shirley.'

"I bet you do and I’m looking forward to seeing a few of them in the bedroom.'

"Well then, no time like the present, follow me and I’ll give you your first lesson.'

Gary led Shirley to his bedroom and then closed the door leaving Joyce and Ritchie alone.

Shirley turned on the bedside light as they stood together then Gary came closer and kissed her. His lips were soft and inviting and she completely lost herself in the arms of this man. His body was firm underneath his shirt as she undid the buttons from it. he unzipped her dress and she stepped out of it then kicked it to one side as they fondled each other. Gary removed his shirt and white vest; his body was an olive colour, tanned from active service in Gibraltar.

He unhooked her bra then let it fall onto the rug he took her breast in his hand and she gasped. it had been so long since Bob had made love to her. Since his accident he just sought his own pleasure and it was over all too soon. Shirley savoured every moment as Gary kissed the softness of her neck. Her senses were in overdrive as he touched her gently. His hand slid under her briefs she was wearing and he grabbed her rounded buttock.  Shirley undid his belt and unzipped his trousers and the parted for the briefest of moments as Gary took of his boxer shorts she looked down at him and noticed a huge scar on his left thigh and another down the middle of his knee cap.

"Don't worry Shirley, they are only war wounds.'

Shirley pulled down her briefs and stood naked before Gary who looked like the statue of David. his biceps and powerful pectoral muscles of his chest stood out. he was not fat at all the abdominal muscles like a washboard were hard. Gary must still go to the gym she thought as his hands and lips explored the intimate parts of her body and she could feel everything, her body awakened to his touch and she responded to him as the made love on the bed.

"When it was over she lay back breathless and contented. she buried her head into his chest and closed her eyes.

Gary was quiet as he let Shirley sleep, he put on his track suit and then his training shoes. He looked in the spare room to see Ritchie and Joyce sleeping soundly he smiled then closed the door and slipped outside. Every morning Gary ran down to St Mary's light house and along the beach. He enjoyed the freedom it gave him, It was exhilarating. His left knee still ached afterwards but it was better than losing the leg as he thought he might after the machine gun bullet tore through his flesh and out of the back of his thigh. It missed the femoral artery and the femur, however upon his retreat with blood pouring from the wound he fell into a ditch and badly twisted his knee. The pain of both injuries was excruciating. He lay in the ditch for what seemed an eternity. looking round he saw the body of Tommy Harris from his regiment. The left- hand side of his face had been shot off and it looked grotesque. The right eye stared out blankly in a deathly mask. Gary could not bear to look at his comrade who was only twenty- two years old. it was a sight that would haunt him for a long time. It wasn't the first body that he'd seen. Lots of badly wounded men called out for their mothers as they lay dying. The horrors of war were all too apparent and it was nothing like what he envisaged it would be like. The darkness was lit up with enemy fire; the sound of mortar fire and machine guns penetrated his eardrums. Every part of his senses was awakened and his survival instincts kicked in. He was alert, vigilant and he heard the most minute of sounds. Fearing that he'd be discovered by the enemy and shot. He crawled through the mud and the shit from the sheep back to his base camp. He'd used a tourniquet to stem the flow of blood coming from his thigh. When he was discovered they quickly took him to the camp hospital for surgery.

It took six weeks of intensive physiotherapy before Gary could walk again and he thought that he'd be able to return to active service. The surgeon told him that his soldiering days were well and truly over and he was to look for a position elsewhere within the Barracks. Feeling deflated and depressed Gary decided if he couldn't be a para' then he would leave the forces.

He was duly discharged after receiving some of the highest bravery awards. he was awarded the George medal, the Military cross, the Distinguished conduct medal and Service medal apart from the Victoria Cross these were the highest awards presented for bravery to a soldier. They were little consolation to him as he'd known little else since joining up as a teenager. the adjustment into civilian life would take longer than he thought.

The seagulls screamed above him as he ran across the beach near the water’s edge. He saw the Tynemouth open air pool, it was no longer in use. the waves crashed over the top and there were huge rocks in the pool now to deter people from using it. He sprinted up the bank then stopped at the top until he'd recovered his breath then ran back the way he'd come.

Looking at his watch it was seven fifteen as he let himself in then went into the bathroom and took a shower he used his shower gel to wash himself then he cleaned his teeth and shaved.

he cleaned up and then went into the bedroom and took out some clean shirt and black trousers.

Shirley woke then called for him to come back to bed but Gary told her that he had to go to work.

"I've left my number on the dresser Shirley, sorry I’ve got to run. Help yourself to breakfast.' He leaned over and kissed her then he was gone. She heard him start his car and drive off as she got up and went to the bathroom. Joyce and Ritchie were up shortly after as Shirley had made a pot of tea.'

Joyce quickly got ready and drank her tea as Ritchie washed his face then put on his clothes that he'd worn the night before. Look I'll go and change and bring the car over and run you both home.'

"We can get a taxi you know.'

"I won't hear of it. I won't be long said Ritchie as he crossed the road and into his own house.

"Well how was your night then asked Joyce?'

"Bloody hell Joyce, he's got me knackered; what about you?'

"Well I gave him nine out of ten for effort.'

"The two women laughed before Shirley asked if Ritchie wanted to see her again.'

"Yes, he's taking me out to the Shiremoor house farm for dinner tonight, what about you?'

"He's left me his phone number.'

"Are you going to ring him.'

"After last night's performance, I think so.'

 "Right let's wash up and leave this place tidy before we go.'

"I have to comb my hair first said Joyce.'

Shirley took the tea cups and washed and dried them and put them away. She cleaned the sink and then looked around to make sure everything was tidy.

Ritchie knocked fifteen minutes later. The girls came out and got into his silver coloured Renault. Ritchie dropped Shirley off first and she opened the back door to the house and went in.

Bob was still in bed but Jimmy was just on his way to the gym; Margaret had left for work.'

"Where have you been mam.'

"Oh, I went around to Joyce’s after the bingo and we had a drink and I just slept at her house.'

"Right then I've got to go mam.'

"Have you got your bait?'

"I'll just buy something mam don't worry.' Jimmy gathered his kit bag and hurried out for the bus.'

It was just after nine o'clock when Bob got up Shirley heard him in the bathroom as he cleared his throat. Since he'd gained weight he'd started snoring badly and he also had sleep apnoea. She steeled herself for when he came down passage. He went into his walk-in shower with his shower leg as he did every morning after using the toilet. Then he would brush his teeth. Bob hated shaving but could not grow a full beard because it left his face patchy. He usually shaved every three or four days.

He came down stairs wearing a clean tee shirt with Pink Floyds dark side of the moon album cover on the front and a pair of baggy shorts. which made him look like Don Estelle from “It ain’t arf hot mum with his glasses on.'

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