Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Ch 31: I Can't Make You Love Me

Ch 31 I can’t make you love me

“Mary!. Maggie! Whatever you’re really called….” Gene looked up at the vision before him, through cloudy eyes.

“I’m back Gene. Back for good.”.

Gene couldn’t quite take it all in. First the damn letter from Alex declaring undying love, and now this.

Mary walked towards him and bent down to remove the letter from his hands, her golden curls brushing against his face.

“So, you found it then?” She looked questioningly at Gene. He nodded.


“And what?” gene replied, a little too sharply, then apologised.

“Sorry, it’s not your fault.”.

“I’ll put the kettle on! Mary offered.

“I need something stronger” Gene replied

Spotting the half empty whisky bottle Mary continued to get some cups from the cupboard whilst she waited for the kettle to boil.

“I think you have had enough”.

Gene simply sat with his head in his hands, until Mary sat down beside him on the sofa and placed two steaming mugs of coffee on the table.

Gene took a sip, almost burning his tongue. He could smell Mary’s subtle perfume as she stirred her own drink. Gene could feel something else stirring too. Oh God what the hell was happening?

“Where have you been, all this time?” Gene looked at her.

Mary smiled that smile.

“I had to go, and see my brother. He wasn’t too well.”

“Where? Ireland?”

“No. Blackpool actually.” Gene froze. Blackpool.

“Yes he needed me.”

“I needed you Mary. You just vanished. Do you know what that did to me? Just vanishing without so much as a goodbye. After what we had between us…..”

“And what did we have Gene? What exactly did we have?”

Gene looked at her and put his cup on the table, and took her hand in his. It felt soft, so soft, and cold.

“You’re freezing” he said, rubbing it between his own hands, trying to warm her up. He looked up into her eyes, those cat-like eyes.

Her hand touched his face.


“I thought….oh I don’t know, Mary. I don’t know what to think any more. I know that night, we shared something. I felt real again you know. We had some kind of connection I thought, maybe a chance of happiness, if I was stopping here.”

“If you were stopping here…so, if you didn’t plan on stopping, what..you would go to HER?” Mary waved Alex’s letter in front of him before standing up, a little annoyed.

“Second best, is that what I am Gene? You can’t have Alex, so you may as well have me? Great. How do you think that makes me feel? I won’t be used Gene.”

“I didn’t mean that. I just meant…”

“What? What did you mean? You spend the night with me. I thought we had something starting to grow. I don’t know what you felt , were you just using me? I won’t be used Gene, or strung along”.

“I didn’t use you. I thought, well, we would be a kind of work in progress thing you know. I needed you. You were there. And then you weren’t. Remember you were the one that upped and left.”. Gene was shouting now.

Mary started to cry.

“I had to go Gene. My brother needed me. He was sick.”

Gene’s mood softened on seeing her tears.

“Hey, come here” he pulled her towards him, taking in that perfume, stroking her silky hair, and feeling her slender body against his.

“Is he better now, your brother?” His voice was full of concern.

She looked up, tears trickling down her face.

“It’s not…” he couldn’t bring himself to say the word….”terminal?”.

She shook her head.

“He’s..well it’s his mental state. He went to war. The Gulf. He saw some terrible things. He has Post Traumatic stress, well Gulf War Syndrome they call it. He has flashbacks, sees terrible things, reminders of his time in the Falklands. The nightmares….most of the time he is fine, but it only needs a trigger to set him off. You know, he is such a gentle chap, considering he was out there on the frontline, killing people. He just likes the quiet life, doesn’t like to upset applecarts. Yet it only needs one thing to spark it off and he is like a , welll , red rag to a bull. Somebody upset him and he flipped out. “

Gene listened. It sounded like himself.

“The Falklands eh? 1982.…”.

Mary’s voice was a little calmer.

“Yes the worse thing anybody can do is upset him. People just do not understand. They are cruel, and viscious. There is no need for nastiness. Life is too short.”

Gene wiped away her tears. He brushed her hair away from her face, and then, as she stared up at him, he brought his lips down to hers and kissed her tenderly. They stood there for a few moments, motionless until she said

“But you love her Gene. You love Alex. You are choosing her over me.”

“I …oh Christ, Mary, I don’t know anymore what I know, who I love. I thought I loved Alex, but, hell , what is she putting me through? I don’t know if I can go on? I am exhausted. It’s been such hard work you know, and maybe it still will be all for nothing. Will I ever ever see her again?”

“You didn’t think you would see me did you?” Mary asked.

Gene shook his head.

“What if you were to stay here Gene?. Stay here, with me. In this life?”

Gene just stared blankly. What if he did? What would have been the point in all these months, or years rather, all the hell he had been through, waiting for Alex as the end result. What if it really was never going to happen. What if Alex had been stringing him along, winding him up….but she wouldn’t , would she…surely….?

“She could have another guy Gene, you do realise that. She could have moved on, and then where would that leave you, if you do persue her to the end…”

Gene still didn’t know what to say. He knew the thought of Alex with another man, in another’s arms made him seeth with anger.

“You can stay here with me. I can’t make you love me Gene, but, well we could try, make it a work in progress and all…..”

“I….I don’t…”

“Sssh.” Mary placed a finger across Gene’s lips. She began to kiss his face, ran her fingers tenderly through his hair, whilst he did the same. Within minutes they kissed more passionately, and suddenly clothes were coming off, being flung across the floor, and they both collapsed on the sofa, and their coming together was hot, and urgent as they clung together as though for dear life.

After it was over, Gene twirled a strand of Mary’s hair round his finger.

“What if I were to stay……”

“Hush” Again Mary pressed a finger to his lips. “ Don’t give me your answer just yet. Think about it. But if you are even contemplating staying, well there are things you need to know, about me”.

Oh here we go, thought Gene. The bombshell. Sleep with them, then comes the skeleton out of the closet.

“I see you also found the Womble.” Mary pulled the tatty toy from the cardboard box. Gene watched her nakedness in the glow of the moonlight from the window. Her body was perfect.

He thought of the little girl. Maggie. Or was it Mary. Jesus he really couldn’t remember. Somehow suddenly something felt a little odd, especially given what they had just done.

“Here, put this around you” Gene handed Mary his shirt. As she buttoned it up, looking annoyingly even sexier, he pulled on his own trousers making himself decent. Father Daniel, and Sister Maggie could return at any time.

“I know if you stay Gene, I need to tell you the truth. It’s the least I can do. I owe it to you.”

“Don’t. Don’t spoil it. Let it be.”

“Gene. I can’t . There’s stuff, something you really need to know.”

He watched the way she played with the Womble.

“Is it about little Maggie?” Gene was guessing.

She nodded.

He should have guessed. The resemblance was uncanny.

“Come here” He held her against him, her head on his shoulder while she sobbed once more.

He cooed, and murmured soft words, surprising himself. Once her paroxysms stopped she cleared her voice.

“it’s not what you think.”.

“What happened? If you want to talk about it, babes, I am right here. Was, was she taken? I think that’s what happened isn’t it? She was your daughter, your little girl? I could tell. She looked so like you. It freaked me out. Was this hers?”

Mary remained silent.

Christ. What a thing to happen. Your kid to go missing. A pang of guilt soar through him. Jesus, could he have stopped it from happening? Is that what all this was about now? He really didn’t know. Maybe it was some random connection with Alex, Molly, Mary and Maggie….but what…?

“Oh Gene…..”

“I know you said you can’t make me love you, but I think I do already Mary. I feel something, deep, here, in my heart….. Whatever happened, I will make it right for you, make you feel better. Just say the word. I will lay down my heart for you”.

“Oh Gene, Gene!” Mary grabbed his shoulders.

“You are so wrong. You just don’t understand…. I am afraid if I tell you, you may go…. I don’t know what to do…..

“Hush…come on…I am here now, I am not going anywhere….”.

At that point Mary led him into the bedroom. Gene’s eyes lit up, thinking it was time for round two, only stopped when he watched her pull out a shoe box from under the bed.

She pulled put some photographs, some black and white, a few colour, Polaroid snapshops. They looked to be dated around the late 60s, early 70s. There was one of little Maggie, clutching her favourite toy Womble.

He watched carefully as Mary’s eyes filled with tears.

“She was so innocent there, Gene., Just a kid.”
“And cute too, that button nose, just like yours….” He playfully touched the tip of Mary’s nose.

“Such a shame. A deep tragedy that she should become what she did….”

Now Gene looked confused.

“What…. What happened to her Mary. I think I need to know…. Tell me.”

“What became of her?” He repeated himself.

“Oh Gene. She was so so innocent in this one” she pointed to the Womble photo again, before picking up another. She handed him one of the coloured poloroids.

Gene noticed a young girl, a few years older with curly hair like Charlies Angels, and wearing a camel coloured jumpsuit over a blue and white stripey polo neck. More typical early 70s fashions.

“This is her?” Gene looked surprised. She looked to be around 14 possibly.

“And then this is when it all went wrong”. Mary handed him another photo. The girl in this one looking very familiar. In fact, she was sitting right on the bed next to him.

“Christ. Mary. What the fuck is this? I can’t make it out.”.

“It was just a party. That’s how it all started. You know. I was only fifteen. We were drunk, somebody had some speed or something. I can’t really remember. They were punks. You know, New Wave stuff playing downstairs, Sex Pistols”.

Knocked up at fifteen eh? Gene was thinking. It happened. It happened then, it still happened now, always would.

“There was one guy. He looked a bit like Gary Numan. I liked him. He was cool, wore black eyeliner. He took me afterwards to a club. I would have got into a lot of trouble if my parents had known. Anyway it was fun, dancing and he bought me more drinks. I looked a little older than I was . There were some other guys there too, from a band…can’t remember some new upcoming on the Punk scene, and a couple of Mods too. I remember laughing, drinking, dancing. Then I felt strange. Obviously I know now somebody had spiked my drink, blobs or something. I don’t know how I ended up in a dark room upstairs. I just remember this guy on top of me. I think it was Gary Numan lookalike, as I recognised his aftershave in the darkness. I felt his weight. I knew I should have asked him to stop, but somewhere I felt excited too, that was probably the effects of the drink. So I let him do what he wanted with me. And he did. He took my innocence, right there and then. They say it’s supposed to be special, your first time. But it didn’t end there. There was another guy. A punk. I could tell because his spike hair was so gelled it stuck in my face. And then his friend had a go….”

“Fucking Hell!” was all Gene could say, as he watched Mary continue her story.

“The drink, the drugs, well they blotted out the pain of it all. And that’s how it all began. How I ended up on the road to debauchery”.

“Whhat?” Gene was a little unsure what she was saying, where the story was actually going.

Suddenly the penny dropped not with a ping but a bloody loud BANG! He picked up the black and white faded photo of Little Maggie.

“Jesus. This……was.. was you?”

She nodded.

“I just got sucked into the world of drugs,and of course I needed to feed my habit, get some money for dope, and coke. So naturally I turned to prostitution.”

“So…let me get this straight….you had no kid, no daughter…”

“No. I was so lucky not to get caught given ….”

Gene ran his fingers through his hair in disbelief trying to take it all in.

“Then I took up the dancing in the clubs and well, Gene, as they say, the rest is history…..”,

“And Father Daniel took you in?”

Mary merely nodded.

Gene sat with his hands on his chin. What did he make of it all. He didn’t really know. Yet he felt he couldn’t leave her. She might have been a tough little nut then but she was deep down vulnerable, and he believed she needed him. How could he possibly go, and leave her now? He couldn’t For some reason….he just couldn’t. This had changed everything. She needed him. And if the truth were told, he needed her. Alex, well, she was a tough cookie. She had put him through hell, and she was still teasing him, as always, as she always did. Prick-tease, yes that’s what she was, whoever she was…….

At that point the made a decision. Gathering all the photos together he placed them back in the old Clarks shoe-box and returned it under the bed.

Taking Mary’s hand in his, he led her to the bed. She got in beside him and lay her head on his shoulder, holding him tightly. He pulled her closer to him until her breathing subsided and he knew she had fallen asleep.

Happy in his thoughts, he believed he had made the right decision. For once in his life, he as going to do the right thing. He would stay here, with her, look after her. This was his life now. He would let Alex go. Move on.

He thought he heard a door slam, and voices. It must be Danny boy and Maggie May.

He closed his eyes and drifted into a sleep of his own, and surprisingly a slumber not racked with his usual nightmares, he thought on waking some good seven hours later.

The room was quite and he felt the body next to him in the bed stir.

He reached across in the early morning light, and rubbed his eyes. It was quite fully light, but Mary’s face looked a bit odd. He rubbed his eyes again, moving her hair gently away from her face.

To his horror, he found a handful of auburn locks in his hand, come away from her head.

“Fuck….” he cried, throwing them across the pink candlewick bedspread.

He pulled some more, which revealed Mary’s face, all crinkled and shrivelled up, not from sleep, but like that of an old old woman.

He blinked his eyes shut tight thinking it was just a trick of the light.

Yet when he opened he let out a cry, jumping to his feet. He felt his heart beating and that his legs would buckle beneath him.

For all that remained on the bed was a bundle of bones, and the smiling skull of a skeleton staring back at him.

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