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Listening to Clare Grogan

Short story By: PlotTracer

Listening to Clare Grogan

Submitted:Apr 17, 2010    Reads: 110    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

"Don't talk to me about love..."

Clare Grogan's catarrh laden voice fills the small living room. Eugene is sitting on the settee watching Teresa, Grainne and I fling ourselves around the room to "Altered Images". My eyes flick up and down at the two girls. Grainne is wearing a white, embroidered summer dress and dancing in an affected Clare Grogan manner with her arms raised, her head bowed beneath her unruly hair and her lips pushed out and slightly apart. She is skipping bare-foot around the room and wiggling her hips. Teresa is standing in the one place, pushing her lips out in the same seductive manner, but just making her body undulate, turning her head and closing her eyes in mock ecstasy. She raises her arms, snake-like to the melody.

The record stops and we laugh. Grainne floats over to the small, very old looking, mono-record player in the corner, and places on another black, shiny single.

"I would like to climb high in the trees...

I could be happy, I could be happy...."

Clare sounds melancholic, while the beat and circular guitar is upbeat. The effect speeds everyone up. My head seems lost. Both girls seem to be competing. They watch each other show off a move and then try to better it. Grainne closes her eyes and shakes her wild horse mane almost in slow motion, then Teresa, but Teresa snakes her hands down her body. Grainne twirls around, revealing her long, tanned legs and sensible white knickers. Teresa slides down the carpet into the splits and then pushes herself up again.

The eastern girl in the picture above the brick fireplace looks down, bemused, from under her large floppy hat. She is trapped behind a heat stained, glass window, pretending not to want to join in, but in reality she has been captured by the artist picking flowers, sealed in a brown, plastic frame. Eugene sips on his beer and shakes his slow head, muttering his hatred of 'girlie pop'. His trousers make farting noises as he shifts himself further into his worn red plastic seat.

I feel like I am the greatest dancer in Northern Ireland. I bounce up and down, kicking my legs out to the music, but what do you do with your arms? I copy some of the girl's less feminine moves, clasping my hands together and moving them to the swirling, grinding guitar. The room seems much bigger Trimble seems so far away. I don't know who this is, but I like him, the person I am, it seems, for the first time. I smile and laugh, though the sound seems labored and my jaw hurts. I close my eyes and move my head to the beat, predicting it and following the funk of the guitar and saxophone of the third record, "Bring to me Closer".

"Again and again, I lose myself again......

Bring me closer.....

Something that you do to me....do to me....aaaahhahhhh!

The small, glass fronted china cabinet chinks to our pounding feet, the static filled nylon carpet insufficient cushioning from our clowning. The music is loud and crackly, the needle jumping now and again as our feet fall in abandonment.

Teresa's breasts move but seem to have their own enertia; pulled and pushed unwillingly like two captured wild animals. They are disproportionate from the rest of her small frame, the effect of their round, provocative, pertness is one of giving her a delicateness, accentuating the fineness of her structure. Her midriff and belly button are revealed often, when she raises her arms or spins around. I try not to look, but every flash of white flesh draws my eyes. The curve of her tummy and the crease of her belly button freeze my bones.

I hadn't realised how much I liked "Altered Images". It is such a girlie group, not at all like "The Jam", "Blondie", "Souxsie and the Banshees", "The Pretenders" or "Dexy's Midnite Runners". I guess I have been putting Clare Grogan out of my mind. She is so perfect. Mother would love her. She smiles and dances and sings "nice wee songs". My da' would say that with a name like that, she must be a fenian. She is not at all like my current pin-up, Chrissie Hynde. She's goin' to use her arms and legs to make me notice. Who do I choose? Clare or Chrissie Hynde?

Someone grabs my hands. I snap out of my mind wander. I open my eyes. It is Chrissie. She smiles and leads me to the beat of "Don't talk to me about love...." Clare has taken charge of the records, obviously. She seems to have only four. They have been repeated and repeated over the course of two joints and three cans of Harp. I laugh and we pull and push each other around the room. I can't understand where my rhythm has come from. I can't usually dance very well, but I seem to know every move the older woman is going to make. We twirl and funk and my eyes stop darting back and forward. Theresa/Chrissie's deep, infinite eyes have pulled and set mine, unblinking at their mercy. Our bodies jerk and gyrate, but our gaze never leaves each other. My jaw relaxes and I feel wonderment. She smiles, touches my cheek with the back of her cold fingers and turns and walks away leaving me stranded in mid air.

I stop dancing, our link broken. I look over to Grainne who has stopped dancing and is looking at me, unsmiling. She turns away as well, but her turning doesn't give me the same expectant thrill as Teresa's. It feels as though she has slapped me in the face. I feel guilt and I don't quite know why.

"Let's get a bit of rock on and another wee joint!" Teresa stops Clare Grogan mid-sentence.

"Get away run away far away how do I....

Escape from you..."

The room rings in silence, the sun blasts through the wide open venetian blinds. Eugene has been sitting in glassy eyed silence staring into the brightness, transfixed by the music he had fought and lost over. He blinks and stretches.

"Anybody want a cup of tea?" Grainne goes into the kitchen. The magic seems broken. I want it back.

"Na. I'll have another beer!" The bringer of magic.

Teresa laughs at my flippancy. I feel great by the way she is looking at me, turning her head from her bent position over the silent record player, sending an electric shock up my body. I feel I am moving into a new world, one where I have respect from others as well as for myself.

I turn and sit beside Eugene, slapping his leg.

"Well mate, are you all right?"

His eyes look as if they are searching for me. "I feel a bit fucked, but I think it's because you'se bored me with that shite on the record player."

"Well, mate, you should put a bit of your stuff on now, shake everybody up!" He has wanted "Joy Division", but Teresa and Grainne ganged up on him, shouting 'depressing!' and pretending to slit their wrists. I'm easy, as I would like to hear this stuff he has been going on about so much.

Teresa has overheard us.

"No way! We want to party, not cry!"

Eugene seems to have shaken the mellow veil off and is sitting up.

"C'mon, give the lads a shot! We don't want to listen to girlie stuff all day!"

"Fuck sake, Eugene, we want to party - you'll bring the whole mood down!"

Teresa seems to be more serious about the music than anyone. I like that. She is opinionated and seems to know her mind. I sense that Eugene doesn't want a fight and he offers a compromise.

"OK. One Joy Division record to let Trimble hear, and then you can put on what ever shite you want, so long as I don't have to listen to "Altered bloody Images" again."

Teresa smiles and turns to the record player again.


Eugene pushes himself up from his throne and leaves the room and his heavy feet can be heard climbing the stairs.

I sit down in his place and stare at Teresa's black jeans enclosed bottom. She is a lady. A real woman. She looks like a pop star, and dresses as such; a woman of the world. She has introduced me to 'blow' as she calls it. I laugh at the thought. I'm now into drugs. I think of the scabby, crew-cut and flared trouser world of the TV documentary.

"....introduced to drugs by a friend and has served time in a borstal after mugging a First World War veteran and selling his medals in order to feed his habit...."

"What are you laughing at, Trimble?"

I look up and Grainne hands me a cold, blue can. I suddenly feel tired, my eyes heavy and my words stuck somewhere in the middle of my tongue. The only response I can muster is another laugh without laying my head on the inviting pale blue cushion beside me.

"You are stoned!" Grainne laughs. In the distance I can see Teresa snigger over her pieces of paper and broken cigarettes. I give in to my desire to lie down. The cushion feels cool and soothing as the weight of my head presses on the synthetic fabric. My hand flops down the side of the settee and I let go of the closed tube of beer. Grainne sits on the settee, her thigh brushing my behind. I close my eyes and listen to their distant voices discussing our next move. It's only mid-day and after I have a rest we are going to the park to drink and smoke the day away.

"Aww, c'mon Trimble. Don't conk out on us!" Eugene's voice cuts through my sleep, "I want you to hear this song."

I force myself to lift my hand and give him a thumbs up.

"He's fucked."

I hear him crossing the room to the record player. The clicking of the stylus arm and the slap as the record hits the turntable seem miles away.

"The guy who wrote this committed suicide, ye know." Eugene's knowledge is imparted in order to give his choice more depth.

The record begins with a slow beat that is then joined by a slow, whining lead guitar.

"What the fuck are you doin', man?" Teresa is laughing. Her ashtray snigger forces me to let the light into my tired eyes. I look at her, her porcelain, blonde framed face is looking at the floor beneath me. She has a lit joint between her long, white, thin fingers, holding it close to her open, wide mouth. I look down to where her gaze falls and Eugene is lying on his back writhing on the floor, playing an imaginary guitar.

The voice, stark, depressed and full of deep secrets, whispers the first words of Eugene's favourite record.

"A change of speed, a change of style, a change of scene with no regret..."

Eugene starts to writhe around the floor, enjoying his audience, his face creased in mock ecstasy.

"...A chance to watch, admire at a distance, still occupied, though you forget,

He closes his eyes and mouths the words delivered in soft staccato. Teresa's laughter melts into a smile and she draws on the joint. Grainne is telling Eugene to get up. She seems embarrassed.

"...Different colours different shades, over each mistakes were made

I took the blame...."

Eugene grabs his crotch and starts to thrust his pelvis up and down, fucking some imaginary oriface, his tongue wriggling in an imaginary french kiss.

"EUGENE! That's disgusting!" A roar of gruff laughter from Teresa concludes Grainne's disgust. I snigger.

"Directionless so plain to see, a loaded gun won't set you free, so you say...."

The whining guitar rises slowly to a plateau of a note quickly repeated, followed by a higher note. The phrase is repeated, but followed by the two notes played in quick succession. The whole phrase is repeated and then everything drops in one passing car horn chord, Eugene reaching his zenith of rapture.

"Aaaahhh!" His pelvic movements get slower and his hands trace the flow of his imaginary cum. He lies down in exhaustion and closes his eyes. Teresa is in tears of laughter. I smile and close my eyes.

"Eugene, you're an arse!" Grainne's voice is tinged with amusement.

I smile and close my eyes. I succumb to the wave of sleep, our new dead hero sings into the distance and the past. Voice's echo and laughter is sucked into the black and then shapes and colours beckon me into a perfect world.


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