24 May 2004

Groupies, right, groupies. Originally solely the right of the sweaty rock star, now there have evolved many more types of groupies. The only type that I encounter, unfortunately, are the lesser known video shop groupie. These are people who spend a disproportionate amount of time in the shop in relation to the actual amount of films they rent. They are all friends, but friends whom I only ever see when I am sat behind the desk being cynical and becoming drunk on the power.

The lovely Joe is one such groupie. Admittedly she does rent a few films occasionally but she is most certainly a video shop groupie. About two years ago I started to get to know her, as she was talkative and opinionated whilst she was searching for a suitable film to watch. Most of her opinions were wrong, of course, because they disagreed with mine. And I am a ‘professional’ video guy, it says so on my card, so my opinions are, for want of a more accurate word, fact. Anyway, we steadily got to know each other, starting with our history of drug abuse, which is always a great way to get on a level with someone new. She was very open about it all as well as her periods of self-harming and things were very nice between us. Very nice and platonic.

Then, one Sunday about a year ago, Joe came in whilst I was deeply engrossed in Donnie Darko. This is a great film and although I had watched it once before in the seclusion of my pit, I really could not stand any major disturbance to the audio-visuals flowing into my cranium. Ten minutes later, which were full of Joe talking, me nodding absently mindedly whilst playing with the rubber buttons on the remote control and glancing anxiously at the paused image on screen, my patience had evaporated. I interrupted her story about her caravan to say:

“Joe, I really want to finish watching this….”

“…and the door hinges need oiling…”

“…and I’m sorry your kettle is knackered but this film…”

“…so when it’s windy I can hear the sheep bleating…”

“…What?”

“…but the stove is really great…”

“Excuse me Joe….”

“…tweed. What Bruce?”

“Fuck off will you.”

She looked at me with the beginnings of a small grin playing on her lips, ready to blossom into a laugh when I lightened my expression and laughed myself. I didn’t because I was quite serious. Her grin died, she turned to go and said ,”Goodbye then.”

I did not see her for about nine months. To be honest, I did not miss her much because the groupies are legion, but I ran into her one night in the Globe. I was filling in for a friend who could not play in a darts match. She was there working in the restaurant. It was a very pleasant change to be meeting in a different place to the shop and we smiled at each other immediately. Ten minutes later she had given me the requisite hard time about my telling her to eff off and I had been satisfactorily self-recriminating. After I had won at darts in an awe inspiring demonstration of beginner’s luck, I became deeply embroiled in an argument with some wanker who was supporting Bush and the war and wanted to move to the good ol’US of A just as soon as he had graduated. Now, I was not arguing because I felt that strongly about whatever it was we were raising our voices about, purely because this twat could not maintain a rational chain of discussion and was so sickeningly self-righteous that I felt compelled to wind him up until he had a coronary.

When Joe joined in the argument he lasted for about one minute and then fled in tears to the gents, whining as he left,”You’re supposed to be on my side!”

I could only presume that he was talking to Joe and she confirmed this presumption when she said, ”That, Bruce, is my man.”

“Nice.”, I said and we laughed.

Ever since then Joe has been a regular groupie again. About a month ago now she came in and we nattered and she told me that she had given Will the boot. That day, when she left, she came around the counter as per normal for a hug and a peck on the cheek, but as our heads closed in she suddenly changed trajectory and we kissed lips on lips. The next day it was lips on lips and I pressed on her butt, the next day all of the above and we pressed our hips together and I stroked down the side of her breast.

Recently, amidst all this groping, she came in with a friend and we chatted and then as they left, after we had pressed the flesh, I said:

“Have a good night Joe.”

“I always do,” she replied and then, before she could help herself, added,”Even if it depends on batteries.”

Her friend gasped, I smiled a deep, deep smile, and Joe added as she left,”I’m never coming in again.”

Now I know that all I need to do is grab her as, as per normal, look into her eyes and then snog her socks off and everything will be sweet. However, Bude is a small town and there is a chance that Anna might hear about this and then, especially after my recent behaviour, that will be that will my chocolate-honey-dream-girl. This is something I am not really prepared to risk although I know I am weak and if Joe and I keep up this friendly-yet-possibly-much-more approach to hanging out, it cannot be long until I falter.

Yesterday Joe came in and we chatted. For some reason the right hand side of my back was assaulted by an evil itch that I just could not extinguish with my frantic scratching. Whilst talking Joe realised that my attention was mostly elsewhere and so came around the desk:

“Hold still you. I’ll zap it for you.”

“Ooooo, yeah, yeaaah, up a bit, yes! Yes! Do it! To the right, oooooh, nice.”

She scratched my back through my t-shirt and I arched my back slightly and enjoyed it a lot more than I possibly should. She finished and went back around the counter.

“Thanks Joe, that hit the spot.”

“No problem Bruce.”

“You know, you’re really very good at that.” And I started scratching my back again. “Christ, what is wrong with it?”

Joe looked at me from under her eyebrows and with her arms folded across her chest and then strode around the counter again. ‘Game on!’, thought I as she lifted my t-shirt and put her warm hands onto the cool flesh of my back.

“OooooooaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAHHH!” my moan of satisfaction turning to a poorly contained whelp of pain as Joe used her nails, all of the entirety of her nails and with great fervour.

“Ah, ah, ah, ah!” said I.

“This..will..sort..it..out…ugh.” grunted she with the effort of shedding my skin.

I am always banging on about the thin line between pleasure and pain with, what I hope is a knowing look in my eye, like I am an initiate of some secret order of perverts who translate agony as ecstasy, but I could not take any more of this. This was simply very painful pain.

“Okay, okay,” I said as I moved forwards out of the reach of those talons, “I think you’ve got it.”

She skipped around the counter again and smiled at me before picking bits of Bruce from out of her fingernails.

“Jesus Joe. Fuck.”

“I bet you can’t feel the itch anymore, right?”

“Well, no, but Jesus Joe.”

“Well, I gotta go Bruce.” She walked around the counter again and I leant against her as we kissed and she rubbed my t-shirt into the bleeding wounds. “See ya babe!”

And she skipped off. There is no mirror in the shop so I couldn’t see how much damage the minx had done. I felt my back again and there was a smattering of blood on my fingertips as I looked at them, appalled. Jack came in a little later and he had a look at my back. His facial expression confirmed my fears. The bitch had done me! This morning it looked like rugby boots had been grated along my back. Great big slug-like welts.

I have never wanted Joe so much. I am consumed with a fearful amorosity. We will fuck like demented bunnies. Sorry Anna.

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