“You get under my skin, I don’t find it irritating, You always play to win, But I won’t need rehabilitating, oh no, I think I’m on another world with you, with you, I’m on another planet with you.” Another Girl, Another Planet. The Only Ones.
Pete and Christine were a couple. They were also junkies. They loved each other, in the codependent way that heroin addicts do. Christine worked the streets at night to earn the money. Although I never used needles, end of the seventies, early eighties, if you smoked weed you inevitably came into contact with a harder scene. Each evening she would paint her face heavily with make up, sometimes with shaking hands, pull on a low top, a short skirt, scuffed heels and leave the house to stand on a street corner, probably hoping to make it back with cash and in one piece. I never asked.
The two had been together long enough that each set of parents knew each other. Out of the blue I was handed a wedding invitation. The parents had gotten together and come up with a plan to save their kids. They talked with them and said if they gave up drugs, and got married, they would give them six thousand pounds to start a new life with. I have no doubt whatsoever that Pete and Christine believed that they could give up anything for such an offer, and in turn would have persuaded their folks of the same. There is nothing as convincing or believable as a junkie who is about to give up and get their life together, they will have you believing black is white. Whether or not any of Christine’s family knew that she was a prostitute, I don’t know.
It was a registry office marriage. Pete in borrowed suit, and Christine in a long-sleeved white satin dress, chosen to cover the needle marks on her arms. There was a mix of guests, from their parents and relatives, to their friends and neighbours. Those who knew could see that the couple were shaky from lack of drugs, and those who didn’t would have assumed shaky from nervousness. Despite this there was still an air of happy anticipation and the registry was signed.
We went off to a local hall of some sort, where the reception had been booked. There was a buffet out on tables, and someone playing the music. Christine disappeared at some point and was gone for a while, but not quite long enough for everyone to notice.
Having slipped off for a hit, she returned heavily stoned, a few drops of blood along the long arm of her satin dress.
“Golden brown, finer temptress …… never a frown with golden brown.” The Stranglers.
CQ of APJ
This is the first Strange Tales that I have felt a need to add something to after the Tale. I have never forgotten the feeling I had when I saw this junkie-bride return to her reception. It broke my heart and the scar has never quite healed. I left their reception and I know that they moved into another place. I doubt that there was any kind of happy end to the story; but perhaps Christine was able to quit her street work. As I have said before I am thankful for the religious teachings I was brought up with, and the strong foundation that it laid. It prevented me from going too deep into a dark scene, so that a story like this did not become mine. As a parent now I can only imagine the desperation that their parents had, willing to do anything to rescue their children. Nearly forty years on, Christine will sometimes appear in my dreams. I hope that she got out of the scene and found happiness.