Chapter two of the ongoing saga of Jamie and Lola, continued from Spaggers & Lola (Book two, Small Change)
Okay, so Jamie has a bit of a temper. Well, more than a bit. Actually, he could be a pain in the arse. But, deep down, he didn’t want to be.
Jamie lives further up the hill, just before the street curves around the end of the park, before that strip of shops. He lives, for the time being at least, with his mother.
The reality is that he has always lived with his mother; but that’s your reality, not Jamie’s. In Jamie’s reality, he is just living there for the time being. Yeah, I know… so far his ‘time being’ has lasted for thirty two years.
Jamie has two sisters, both of whom left home years before. His mother didn’t want them to go, but they couldn’t face it any more, and as soon as they could they found partners and left home, each of them glad to get out of the smothering life they had led up to then. Needless to say, that put even more pressure on Jamie.
Jamie’s mum lives at number three-hundred and twelve Franklin street, just past the bus stop and opposite that little shop on the corner of Franklin and Turner. The one that was a hairdressing salon for a while. Jamie’s mum used to work there, very handy until it went bust and closed down. It’s a second-hand furniture shop now. Says it’s antiques, but it’s really just second hand furniture.
Sandra Fleming is Jamie’s mum. She’s a bit of a pain, too, from what I’ve heard. Gives herself airs and graces. Jamie’s dad is Italian, so Sandra, who went to Italy with him for a month just after she married him, reckons she knows all about Italy. Europe too, come to that. Uses a lot of Italian words, cooks mostly Italian food, speaks with what most people think is a posh English accent, but is really just copied from the television.
Anyway, the Italian connection is why Jamie had become so excited about Lola’s spag bol not being up to scratch. And, incidentally, his undeniable good looks came from his dad, who was a looker too, but much darker than Jamie. His name was Gianni, but he was third generation and was always called Johnny. And because his grandfather was called Rossi, Johnny was called Ross.
To be fair to Sandra, Johnny Ross was one of those blokes who just couldn’t keep it in his pants, and didn’t really care that Sandra found out about his philandering early on in their relationship.
So it lasted ten years, ten horrible years for Sandra, during which the two girls were born and then she became pregnant for the third time. That was quite enough for Johnny, and he went out one morning and never came back. Sandra, once she had got used to the idea, breathed a sigh of relief, reverted to her maiden name, and got on with her life. Well, I say got on with her life, but she does go on about things, which is why I say she’s a bit of a pain. Smothering. Never leaves Jamie alone.
Jamie got to work late the following day, the day after the spag bol affair. He had a wide cut across his forehead where the edge of the plate had struck him, not deep but a bit ragged. With the same airs and graces that his mother had perfected, he had abused Lola shockingly for not making spahetti Bolognese in the Italian way, not realising that the Italians make it in thousands of different ways, depending on the region.
And Lola, not being one to take abuse lightly, had thrown the whole plate at his head with force and accuracy, and told him to get out, and she never wanted to see him again.
Sandra had wanted him to go to the hospital to get it stitched, but Jamie looked at it once it had been cleaned, and decided that even if it left a scar, it would soon be hidden by the natural crease across his forehead. He had a strip of sticking-plaster across it.
Chas took one look at him and started chuckling. ‘Got your comeuppance, then?’
Jamie took off his jacket and hung it on a hanger behind the office door. ‘What?’
‘Your comeuppance. Or did you trip on the stairs?’
Jamie looked at him as though he had no idea what Chas was talking about. He shrugged, and went to his desk.
Say what you like about Jamie, but he's a sticker. Once he makes up his mind about something, that's it. He never changes it.
And what he had made up his mind about was Lola.
He had been attracted to Lola because of her hair, long and lustrous, almost black but, in certain lights, a touch of auburn about it. Jamie loved long hair. He loved the feel of it, clean and warm and soft, especially when it was long. He understood only too well that it was because his mother was a hairdresser, and made a great deal of fuss about the hair of her three children, treating them like customers, forever making a fuss of it.
Before he started school she had kept Jamie’s hair shoulder-length, with carefully maintained curls and ringlets. On his first day in the classroom all the boys had laughed and pointed at him, and that evening he found his mother’s scissors and lopped the whole lot messily off while she was getting dinner. His sisters were shocked, his mother furious.
So anyway, it was Lola’s hair that first attracted him, but it wasn’t about that that he had made up his mind.
Lola had been the first girl to reject him, and he was going to get his own back on her for that. Or get Lola back… but at the moment that seemed problematical.
Lola had known from the look in Leezah’s eye when she had told her about the spag bol affair that despite her report of a certain violence in Jamie’s behaviour, Leezah was going to have a go at him herself, sure that she could charm the pants off him, literally, and so score a bit of win in the romance stakes.
So when Jamie sidled up to Leezah at the bar on the Saturday she was pleasantly surprised, but ready for the challenge. ‘So, fancy taking in a flicker some time?’ he asked her quietly. Lezzah scanned the bar, checking where Lola was. She was with a group by the door, all girls, having a good laugh, by the look of it.
‘What's on?’ she asked him.
‘Don't know, actually,’ but he took out his phone and called up the cinema’s page, leaning towards her and showing her the screen. ‘That one looks okay, and maybe that one.’
Leezah peered at the screen. She wasn't very interested in the sort of action films he was referring too, preferring a good romantic comedy herself. She took the phone from him, and scrolled down through the remaining films. ‘There,’ she showed him. ‘Me before you. I’ve heard it’s really good. Wouldn’t mind seeing that.’
‘You sure? I heard it was all about a bloke topping himself.’
‘That’s what I heard, too. But it’s really a smashing love story with a tragic ending. Right up my ally, that is.’
So that’s what they decided. Leezah made sure Lola knew about it, but Lola didn’t say anything, not even a warning. It’s true she smiled rather oddly, which sort of spoiled the triumph, really. But Leezah was going out with him anyway.
As he had thought, Me Before You was a load of tosh, but he watched it through and held Leezah’s hand and when she leaned her head on his shoulder, he kissed her cheek and she turned and kissed him properly and they missed about five minutes of the film, which he thought was alright, but which she regretted. Oh, he was an okay kisser, but not truly remarkable. Needs quite a bit of practise to take him to a higher grade, Leezah thought.
After the film they went back to the bar, and again Lola was there with her group of friends, and Jamie made a big thing of being with Leezah, really piling it on.
Leezah was sometimes a bit slow to pick up the nuances, but she noticed Jamie was being most attentive when Lola was watching the two of them, and it slowly dawned on her that things weren’t all what she had thought they were.
Thirty minutes of this farce were just about the limit of what Leezah could take, and, looking daggers at Jamie, she took her bag from the back of the chair and stood. ‘You really need to pull yourself together, Jamie,’ she said quietly, her eyes blazing. ‘I thought you were here for me, but it's pretty clear you're just putting on a show.’
‘What the...’ Jamie protested, but he didn’t have a chance to say any more. Leezah flounced away from their table, and made a bee-line to the table where Lola and her friends were smothering laughter.
‘Looks like I made a fool of myself,’ she said. ‘Thought it was bit odd of him to ask me out.’
Lola smiled in friendly manner. ‘Not your fault, Leez.’
‘Not yours either,’ Leezah realised. ‘He was just trying to make you jealous.’
‘That’s the sort of prick he is,’ Lola agreed. ‘Anyway, sit down and I’ll get you a drink.’ Leezah smiled in gratitude, and Lola went to the bar, ordering another round for the six of them at the table. She took the schooners, on a tray, back to the table, but Jamie followed her. She sat, and Jamie loomed over her, clearly furious.
‘I told you I never wanted to see you again,’ she told him.
He grew red in the face, and it looked as though he was going to blow his top. Lola stood and picked up her beer, and slowly raised it above his head and turned the glass over.
Jamie was rooted to the spot, saturated.
‘Now piss off out of here,’ Lola said.
‘And don’t come back,’ Leezah added.