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The 192 was always packed after one in the morning, and that night was no oddity in that respect. I was with Marnie. Marnie, a goddess in purple polyester and white, four-inch heels. I was obsessed, obsessed I tell you, determined, a Captain Ahab in skinny, dark canvas pants and a battered denim jacket, but the lass was no whale, she was, and had, everything I ever yearned for. I was lost, lost in her sighs, wrapped in her everything completely. A swaddled stag. Even now my pulse quickens when I think of her. . .Oh Marnie.

As she climbed the mucky, goz-stained stairs I watched her swaying perfection from behind, fixated, brimming with the fizzing vim of an ardent young man – ogling no less, and I wasn’t brought to ogle easy either, but Marnie . . .Oh Marnie.

People behind us milled and muttered, drunken curses exchanging hands with riotous laughter; she rose to a step that brought the back of one sweet knee directly into my line of sight and . . .I couldn’t move to follow. Not one inch. Two Doc Martin boot-clad feet, size tens, nailed to the floor fast with toes supplying a shivering, hot tingle of racing blood that journeyed speedboat-style on full throttle from calves, to thighs, and straight to my crotch. Fucking hell. Her arse slowly rotated in the air and she turned, catching my eye briefly, resulting in a small giggle with a wiggle, her skirt stretched taught as a drum skin, encasing those legs, those perfectly pale pins mid-thigh. My glance parachuted lower, past the gentle lines crossing the back of her knees, (a place later that I was always wont to kiss, knowing the surprised thrill it caused her every time), to one firm calf raised shoulder height to me, the other standing straight with the slim black silhouette of a rose inked upon it, like an eternal stocking line running from heel  to heaven, the black fiery winged flames that flanked its petals caressed my eyes and dragged them willingly, up, up, upwards and onwards into her skirted shadows. My imagination filled the gap admirably, leaving this private moment standing stiff on parade, he was a general nuisance though, for I could hardly follow her now, me seeing the last of her block heels rise to the top deck, her wondering what’s taking so long as I’m reluctant to set up tent for the gaggles of gutter sniping teens, possibly taking out an old lady’s eye as I turn the corner at the top.

I think foul thoughts recalling horrible visual surprises from the past; catching my auntie Flo and our fat Postie Bob, doing the dirty round the back of the Roxy, my eyes spinning round her wide rosy ankles, clad in lace-edged knickers big enough for a family of four to set up home in, Postie’s in return, cloaked in swathes of grey, stained y-fronts…oh the humanity…and oh how my plan worked, my personal tent pole shrinking and slinking away in horror faster than Mo Farrah past another kind of post.

But not for long, for she was still there when I came back to the here and now, here and wowzer boy. Yes. And I took the image of her swinging her hips, gliding from side to side as she danced to some silent beat in her head, and then decorated it liberally with my hands, snaking fingers upwards, ready for a swift thumb hook aside of soft cotton, the subsequent surrendering elastic hems, and then. . .Ooooooo. Resistance is useful, but I’ve never had much, and would be no kind of adequate Borg material. I never cared anyway when Marnie was there, in the moment with me.

Suddenly I come to as the sound of the meal trolleys clatter past the bedroom door – a sharp knock and a dull voice intones – “Dinner in fifteen Mr Jones”

Fifteen minutes. Shit! I’ve been working at it for almost a full hour now, bent on success, and I’m definitely getting there this time. Sometimes there’s no joy, no happy ending, despite the greatest of efforts, for whilst the mind is as willing as it has ever been, the body won’t play balls at all.

Oh Marnie.

On I go, determination married with a keen urgency this time, for I want Marnie, I want her here again with me – Jonesy – a spring in my step and stars in my eyes, a force to be reckoned with in Towyn town centre of a Saturday night, vital, alive…alive… so back to the bus, where my fingers were on a mission – keep prying eyes away whilst slipping into that velvet heaven . Oh Marnie. My peaked peak finally gives Mount Everest a run for its money, and as the avalanche breaks I have just enough time to shove the incriminating evidence of a now floppy semi that’d be ashamed to claim the moniker ‘meagre mound’ let alone bloody mountain, and I’m back, back, back, sat in my faded, striped pyjama bottoms on the old sagging bed – a swift cover-up of the dirty deed by employing a copy of Gardens Illustrated, as Emma the youngest nurse knocks briefly and enters the room, tray in hand. Thank fuck for cheap magazines borrowed in utter boredom, Charlie Dimmock’s bra-less  grin beams innocently out from the front page at the nurse, sheltering a satisfyingly sticky mess below. (Sorry Charlie).

Emma asks if I want the beef and onion pie or mushroom omelette for tea. I’ve had my meat good and proper, so make some noises on the egg front. She smiles kindly at the liver-spotted, wrinkled old man of eighty-two she sees in front of her, never guessing for one moment that he still feels all he’s ever felt, loves all he’s ever loved, doesn’t recognise one iota the doddery old sod in the mirror, and has a dogged appetite for that which he lusted after once and still does, just as much as she loves and lusts, more so no doubt. I’ve been at it considerably longer . . .

So that’s where I’ve always kept her, my Marnie, pinned forever up those grimy bus stairs of the 192 late bus – her flashing eyes, my mind on the prize.

We did get together after that, a few drunken snogs and a month of slow, fast and wonderful deep shagging in her step-mum’s shed, the park in the dark and other clandestine hideaways. We fell out over something daft, some foolishness I can’t recall and she can probably recount in deadly detail to this day.

Not long after she ran off with the local butcher’s son, little Malcolm Tethers. Malcolm Tethers, the smug, plum-cheeked, shorty twat, she married him too. Last I’d heard they’d moved to the Isle of Wight, him still chopping up his victims and selling them on offer, her selling homemade soaps to the summer tourists. That was forty odd years ago now mind you.

But she’s still here, in my head.

In more ways than one.

Oh Marnie.

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