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Experiment 5

The Trouble with Lofty

page 28

The Trouble with Lofty

(A practical lesson in how to write the New Zealand Short Story.)

I always say some jokers get on well with the women only because of their fast line. It's not the looks or the money that count all the time 'though most of them'd cotton-on to a bloody draughthorse if he's got a roll. As far as looks go I wouldn't say I was anything to write home about, but compared to this Lofty joker I was telling you of, I know I've got it over him. Old Lofty now, six foot two, with a great big jaw on him and a nose like a fishhook. Quite a good joker mind you - I'm not running him down - but what I mean to say is as far as women are concerned he can never go wrong. Whether it's a schoolgirl or some hot widow, or anything on two legs for that matter - he'll be after it and he makes it plain it's not for talk. Always a great one for the sheilas, I've never seen him knocked back, and I've been going 'round with him ever since I can remember now.

It was just the same when I was up town with him last Friday night. I run into him outside a milk-bar. He was standing there rolling a smoke and watching all the crowd go up and down. I yarn with him awhile then he tells me to come along to the Regent to meet some new crow he's picked up. Well we get along there and hang around for a bit, but no sign of this Sheila he was talking about. 'It doesn't look as if the bitch is coming he says, but it didn't worry him I could see for he just starts to roll another cigarette and watch the legs and behinds of all the young ones going past. We stand around for a bit more and then he says it wouldn't be a bad idea if we bowl along a bit further and see whats around.

We'd just moved off when two passed us, both about eighteen or so and quite good looking except for one on the side. The good looking one smiles at me and moves on along. 'Did you see that?' I said to Lofty but he's watching the ankles of another one coming our way. I could see their heads bobbing ahead of us in the crowd, and just when I get Lofty to see which ones I mean the goodlooking one turns and gives another smile. Lofty sees it and gives a wave. The goodlooklng one stops her cobber and points back, they talk together quickly, and then stand waiting. Well there's the usual talk about, where've I seen you before and all that and all through this I can see the goodlooking one is pretty fast. But her cobber was different. A bit on the fat side, harder to talk to. And when she does talk, a bit of a drongo. They usually get into pairs like that.

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We get walking along together and Lofty says how about coming to the pictures. They look at one another y' see and the fat one starts to giggle. But the other one said it would be O.K. and she wasn't fussy what she did up till eleven. 'What happens at eleven ?! Lofty says, and she tells him they're both from out of town and they have to catch a bus. So off we go to the pictures. And all the way down Main Street this goodlooking one makes eyes at me. We get tickets for upstairs, and cart the two crows up the back where we can have a decent all-out session. Up there we find its a bit crowded. Quite a lot of the chaps who used to be in the same team with me get up there with their sheilas on a Friday night. So we had to split up. And sure enough I get landed with the big fat bitch even though the other one had been making eyes at me all tte way down Main Street. That's the way it always seems to happen with Lofty. Ah well I says to myself I'll Just have to make a go of it with this one. All the same I couldn't help feeling glad the lights were out so's I couldn't see too much of her. We clump down into a seat and I get going by putting my arm around her. This went O.K. She put her head on my shoulder, and I start smoothing my cheek against hers and stroking the outside of her Charlies a bit. She laps this up and after a pretty long session of this she seems to be heated up enough so I put my coat over her knees. No complaints. But as soon as I get going properly she pushes my hand away and says no. This is all right, I give her time to go through all the usual sheilas paces, but Christ it looks as if she's bloody well determined. So what do I do ? I bugger about for hours on end and don't get anywhere worth speaking of. And all the time I can see Lofty further along the row properly acclimatized with this other one. My woman goes on with this business right until the end. And Just before the lights go on, and everybody stands up I see Lofty's woman get up, fix the top of her stockings, and button-up the domes of her dress. Down we go and see them off, and that's the end of my night-out. Lofty's woman is pretty keen, and fixes up about seeing him again. I couldn't help noticing this after seeing the way she made eyes at me all the way down Main Street. My one doesn't say a word and I certainly wasn't worried. A man'd need rope and grappling hooks to get anywhere with her. Lofty says to me afterwards he hoped I didn't mind about him taking the best Sheila. He must have seen it too.

The way she made eyes at me all the way down Main Street, I mean. I nearly laughed my head off when he said it.

It'll be a great day when anyone sees me getting upset over a thing like that ...