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Joe gets Dixi-fried
(or How Ms D. Lochlan persuades a friend to join her in a great adventure)

by Phil Gaston


   
They parked the heap off the road and out of the way in the overgrown entrance to a derelict cottage. She led him from the path, through trees and down the steep slope of a green glen, quiet, deserted, known to her from childhood as a secret place, behind the old farm.
   
Hand in hand they picked their way through waist high bracken and around thick-scattered, thin-trunked trees. Gradually it got a little quieter and a little darker. After several minutes silent walk they heard, close by, the ripple of a falling stream, and presently emerged from the woods onto a flat little space of clear river bank.
   
All about them masses of bluebells coloured the bank among the short grass and the yellowgreen young ferns. The leaf canopy of the trees on either side of the stream completely overarched their little bower. The air was trapped and still here; set apart and almost…with the rays of sunlight playing through it as a breeze rustled branches high above…almost tangibly fluid.
   
Dixi let go his hand, walked a few paces from him, stopped and turned towards him. As he stood watching she slowly unbuttoned her dress and stepped out of it. It was all she wore.
   
Her skin was white like oneday snow; her hair black like raven wings shining in a clear blue sky; her eyes vertiginous, ebony welldeeps contained by wide emerald circlets flashing bright like a jeweller’s opened and shut case; her lips were the red of berries or cherry, cherry wine.
   
Ever after he would say that he had never seen anything a half or a third as beautiful as she was that day, taking the few short steps to him over the soft grass.
   
She walked to him and put her left arm along his shoulder. Her palm, at the back of his neck angled his head downwards and onto her mouth. She circled her right arm around his waist and pulled herself into him…and the kiss on her lips was … quite … continental.
   
“I was hot,” she said, then tippytoed to his lips for another long sweet kiss.
   
Drawing back a little she two-lipped his nose, eyes, cheeks, brows, ears, chin and neck, till they both breathed hot and hard. She nipped a little fold of skin in her teeth and he squirmed and broke away and held her at arms length and laughed and looked at her and laughed again, softer, and pulled her close and tight and lifted her naked body high, his hands on her hips, and kissed her soft, taut, white belly, and set her again on her feet, and she asked, “Aren’t you hot too?”
   
All that long afternoon they spent on the lonely riverbank. Playing all the games they knew, or could imagine, or had ever heard of, or could invent.
   
They played Bruise the Bluebells and Flatten the Ferns, Two in the Bush, Head Over Heels And Toe-Tickle, Push me Pull you, Dipstick and Lipstick, Dunkin’ Donuts, Suck it and See, Pot Black, The Handful of Buns, Bell Ringers and Well Diggers, Shove if you Like, Pussy Go Backwards, Trains and Tunnels, Moon Kong, Pogo Pogo Touch and GoGo, Look up in Wonder, Blow Me Down Easy, The Cherry on the Top, SkinSlippy, Two Handed Poker, The Strawberry Milk Shake, Come Dancing, Rotha mór a tsaol, The Shot in the Dark, Thread the Needle, The Ace of Spades Jump, Five Finger Exercise, Custer’s First Stand, Only the Flakiest Tastiest Chocolate, Valley Hi, The Butterfly Stroke, Do as you would be Done by, The French Open, The Pint of Harp, Saturday Grand Stand, The Big Match, Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!! Gooooooaaaaalllllllllll!!!!!!!!!
   
It was an afternoon like a sunlit, sleepless, sweetdreamfilled night.
   
They catnapped, naked, in each others arms for a little while, then both woke in the later coolness and pulled on clothes.
   
Dixi sat up and turned to Joe with her best serious face.
   
“Joe, we have to talk.”
   
“Well Dix’, that I can still just about manage.”
   
Joe laughed but, catching Dixi’s tone, added, “What about?”
   
“Us,” answered a still serious Dixi.
   
“No kidding!” Joe made a grab for her, but she moved away.
   
“I want us to put our own band together Joe.”
   
‘Jus’-like-that!’ Joe had known there was something in the air for a couple of weeks but, he thought, he hadn’t even been close.
   
“Jeez Dix’, what are we gonna be? Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnston, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Porter Wagonner and Dolly Parton, Ray and Philomena?”
   
She said. “I mean we get a real hot rockin’ band together. I know a guy will stick us in the studio. I’ve been writing stuff, we can easy do a high class demo - try for a deal - or maybe do an indie album first. I know we can do it Joe.”
   
Joe - not convinced.
   
“Aw c’mon Dixi. Get real. You know what you get from that kind of set up? Zilch. Big fat Circle Circle Circle. We are working! We are making M.O.N.E.Y!”
   
He spells it out.
   
“Good money!”
   
Dixi, now up and pacing the clearing as she talks, comes back with a bang and Joe starts to get the message that this is ‘No Joke’, ‘Serious T’ing’ time. He starts to listen, and think … both at once…‘cause by now he can see she isn’t going to let him walk away from this one. Some hot words.
   
“Christ Joe, I am killing myself out there six nights and every Sunday for that M.O.N.E.Y.”
   
She too can spell, “Beating my gums together in front of that frigging showband night after night. Same old, same old ‘All the Hits that Fits’ in every hotel ballroom and crossroads dance hall from here to Aughnashittery. ‘TONITE. BIG ED and the ESKIMOS, featuring DIXI LOCHLAN Ireland’s Teenage Songstress Supreme.’ - Bollocks! - and the entire sentient, single, male population under ninety, within an ass’s bawl of the place - wherever it is - with a respectable set of teeth, twenty or more acres, their very own E.E.C. pig subsidy and a bought and paid for Massey Ferguson - trying to negotiate me off Big Ed as if I was related to bloody Arkle.”
   
Dixi paused and calmed down a little. Joe said nothing; waited. She started off again, sensible voice.
   
“I do care about the money. I’m not stupid. I know what happens in London. I know about tramping round in grotty Transits, playing toilets and splitting a fiver between the entire band. I know there are a million stories in the big city and all of them are incredibly boring. I also know I can sing as good or better than any bitch here, in London, in Nashville, in Detroit or in Kalamabloodyzoo. I know that, at the moment, I got looks and a bod’ that don’t allow me to enter for Crufts. I know that as a musician you are bloody amazing - and talking about looks and bods” - nods Joey’s way - “well, beam me up Scotty. I got dreams, I got ambitions, I got energy - and if I keep doing what I’m doing for the next couple of years, I know for certain that, item by item, piece by piece, one day at a time sweet Jesus, I am going to watch every one of the aforementioned goodies sink slowly but surely, waving sadly as they pass out of sight - down the plughole - finito, zilch - you want to talk about zilch? - super zilch - for ever and ever. Amen.”
   
“Now the question is …”
   
Here she came to sit beside him and say, softly and close to him
   
,”… do I got you? Josephito, Sweet thing, Honeybunch.”    
   
Closer.
   
“Ssh. Ssh. Don’t say anything.”
   
Kisses.
   
“Don’t say a word. Let me whisper. Let me snuggle up and whisper sweet somethings in your alabaster auditorios.”
   
She does just that, “You really are good, Joe. You have class, honey. Now, don’t we have times together, huh? Doesn’t your Dix’ take good care of her baby, and don’t we make just the se-weetest music together?”
   
Joe starts to say something, but she places a finger to his lips.   
   
“Ssh. Ssh. Don’t say anything, not yet, and don’t think I’m trying to influence your own free decision, made of your own free will and in the light of your own personal reasoning and good judgement freely exercised and all that, but I tell you straight, I don’t have a choice. This is something your little Dixi has just got to do. I never meant to join the damn showband anyway; only you were so enthusiastic about not being broke all the time and getting out of the coffee bars; and I never intended to stay this long, and I won’t be trapped by a few quid in my pocket. I’m too young to lie down and roll over every time some fat old fart waves a dog biscuit at me - maybe (God help me), maybe later - but right now we have it all to play for. I want to do this with you Joe, but believe me, if I have to, I’ll do it without you….”
   
She looks at him straight and hard.
   
Before Joe can speak, Dixi jumps up, takes a couple of steps off, turns her back to him, and bursts out, sobbing the while, “You’re going to say ‘No’, you bastard! You’re going to break my heart and let me piss off all alone, and go to London and get mugged and raped and gang-banged by hordes of speed crazed, anarchist, punk, acidfreak, skinhead, yo’boy animals, you bastard, you bastard…!!”
   
“Jesus Christ, Dixi!” Joey hops up beside her, trying to talk his way through her tears,
   
“Give us a break, will you? Can I get one word in edgeways here? Stop crying for God’s sake. Look at me, will you… and take your fingers out of your ears. For crying out loud woman, wise up … the answer is ‘Yes’. Can you hear that, eejit, head-the-ball? Hey brainless! Gorgeous! I said ‘Yes’.”
   
He turns her by a shoulder, her fingers still firm in her ears, to look at him.
   
“Y.E.S. Can you see my lips move?”
   
She closes her eyes. Joe bats the side of his head with his palm and falls back in a collapse on the grass.
   
“I bloody give up. I’ll not bother. The woman’s cracked. I’ll stay where I am.”
   
Above him he hears her laugh, then feels her weight as she jumps him, straddling his body like a wrestler, pinning his arms and hands back on the grass. She bends her face into his. She fixes his eyes with hers in the shaded tunnel made between them by the swing of her long, black hair.
   
“Oh no you don’t. I heard you. You said you’d do it. I heard. Cross your heart and hope to die.”
   
Joe pushes his arms full out beside him - crucified - stretching Dixi’s with his, drawing her closer to him, watching the happiness sparkle in her great green eyes.
   
“Uh Huh,” he said.
   
Once more silence fell on the river bank.
   
They dressed again and left just as the midges began to bite; climbing back up the glen to where the car was parked by the old cottage; up in the hills; above the city. The early evening sky was clear and pulled like a cornflower blue windowblind down to the horizon below them, silhouetting the city.
   
“Y’know something, Joe?” says she, with a big grin.
   
Joe opens up the car. They climb in. “…and what’s that?” - matching grin - kiss on the cheek as they settle.
   
“I could murder a big fish supper and a pint.” - both laugh.
   
“Now you’re talking girl!”
   
Dixi digs a sweater off the back seat … puts it on … leans forward … radio on … and
   
” … Turn it up - just enough - so you know - it’s got soul …”
   
… car gets started … ride … down the hairpin bends into town.

 

________

Taken from ‘Viewpoints’ (1995), pages 36-40.



Phil Gaston
 

Frank Golden