I thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proof reading, editing skills. I have to add my thanks to JB for his heads-up on something in this one; he knows what I'm talking about.
It seemed to me like I'd known Joe all my life. His family lived next door but one to mine; looking back I'd say Joe and I spent all our spare time together as kids. We didn't actually go to school together because Joe was American and he was sent to the nearest American school, somewhere in town. Maybe that's why he never did lose his Yank accent although he spent nearly all his spare time with us Limeys, as he insisted on calling most of us, in jest of course.
You know the sort of thing. He'd refer to us as Limeys and we'd refer to him as the Yank; it was all in good fun. As we got older Joe and I developed a special kind of bond. Something like some brothers have between them. I knew that I could rely on Joe to back me up in an argument or ruckus, and he seemed to know by instinct that he could rely on me, up to a point.
That one point was to develop when we got older, and it concerned females. When Joe and I started dating girls I soon learnt that Joe had no morals whatsoever where the female of the species was concerned. It seemed that Joe's one purpose in life was to lay any bit of skirt he could talk into bed, or into the woods in the park, or just about anywhere else that was handy. And, boy, was Joe good at the old chatting the birds up bit.
Even when he did have a steady girl he was still shagging anything else he could lay his hands on. Joe wasn't choosy either; any old bike would do for him.
Anyway fast forward a good few years and Joe's father had finished his stint in the UK and the whole family had moved back to the US. I can't say that I missed Joe that much, because I felt his antics with women were beginning to get embarrassing. You know as we were on the face of it good friends, I was beginning to get painted with the same brush in some peoples' eyes.
Joe kept in touch with me, by mail, writing surprisingly regularly and giving me the sordid details of his sex life, whether I wanted to read about it or not. I wasn't in the least surprised to hear, about a year after he'd returned to the US, that he'd put a bun in some bird's oven who he'd met at college. I think he was at what we'd have called university by then.
Much to my surprise I learnt that Joe was going to do the right thing by her and he invited me over to the States to be his best man at the nuptials. As, back then, I couldn't afford the airfare, Joe's father - who had some influence with the US forces - fixed it for me to travel on a US army transport plane, FOC as far as I was concerned. I was to fly back two weeks later, the same way.
I'd been surprised by the invite, because, as I said, where women were concerned Joe was a complete arsehole and I'd expected him to cut and run. Look, just because I liked the bloke, it doesn't mean that I liked or agreed with his attitude towards women.
Mind you, I figured that Joe had fallen on his feet when taken up with Winnie (Gwendolyn). Talk about wet dream, the girl was absolutely gorgeous. Long blond hair, a beautiful face and figure, and what I thought was a wonderful personality. Yeah, well, there was a slight protrusion in her stomach that was just beginning to show, but that would only be there for a few months, wouldn't it? I know that I would never have kicked her out of bed in a hurry. I do believe that I was envious of the man, for the first time in my life.
As I said, I thought Winnie's personality, was wonderful. She was very quiet and reserved, actually not really Joe's type at all; but knowing Joe as I did, I doubt he was thinking about a long-term relationship when he took Winnie's virginity.
Shit, if I'm being honest, had I been asked, I'd have changed places with Joe at that altar without a second's thought. Winnie was the girl of my dreams.
I seemed to get on pretty well with everyone over there. I think most folks were fascinated by my accent, although my London colloquialisms appeared to cause some confusion on occasion.
Of course there was Joe's Stag Night about a week before the wedding. The Yanks appear to refer to them as bachelor parties, by the way. Anyway the one for Joe - as I had assumed it would - featured several very questionable strippers and I'm pretty sure that Joe laid them at one time or another all during the evening. And maybe the bird that had been on reception at the hotel the party was held at as well. I can't be positive, but when Joe vanished for a while and I went looking for him, no one was on reception and there was some familiar and curiously interesting noises coming from behind a locked door marked "Office".
The wedding went off fine. Except for the fact that I knew Joe very well and I could see the lustful looks he was giving Winnie's numerous bridesmaids. Personally, I was quite taken by one of them myself and, as she was giving me the old googly eyes bit, I thought I might have a chance with her later. But I hadn't figured Joe into that equation!
I don't think the dancing had been started for more than ten minutes when Joe came over and asked me to dance with Winnie for a while. "Do me a favour, Ray, and keep the little lady occupied for a while. I got something I got to do," Joe said to me.
Like a complete moron, I assumed that Joe had some kind of a surprise that he was setting up for Winnie. It was only when he didn't reappear for half an hour or so and I realised that one of Winnie's bridesmaids was also missing that it struck me what Joe was really up to.
I do believe he pulled the same stunt with his younger brother about an hour or so later and using a cousin of his later still.
Well, that fucked my chances (literally) with the bridesmaid that I fancied, because I never was partial to following anyone else down the highway of pleasure. Especially if they were as promiscuous as Joe was. Christ knows what you could pick up. Although AIDS wasn't around back then. Well, we'd never heard of it anyway.
I seemed to spend quite a bit of time in Winnie and her family's company that evening, as I had done for most of the time I'd been over there. Although I'd told Joe that I wasn't covering for any more of his exploits after I'd realised what he'd pulled the first time he'd asked me to dance with Winnie.
Winnie's father was a great bloke. He'd spent a lot of time in the UK with the USAF and we seemed to get on quite well. It was pretty obvious to me that he wasn't keen on Joe and possibly had a good idea just how much of a little shit Joe could be.
Winnie's mother seemed to spend a lot of the evening crying. Whether because she thought she was losing a daughter, or because she had a good idea about Joe's true personality, I don't know and didn't ask.
Winnie herself was obviously crazy about Joe. You know for a lot of the time I really wished that I'd refused to go to that wedding. My conscience was telling me that Joe was never going to change, and she was in for a big disappointment when she eventually found out about his character and exploits.
I had three days in the US after the wedding before I was due to fly home again. Joe and Winnie had gone off on honeymoon somewhere, so at first I thought I was going to be at a bit of a loose end. But of all people, Winnie's sister Tammy and her boyfriend came to my rescue. Although at the time I'll admit that I thought that they were looking to make some kudos with her friends by having this English bloke along with them.
Tammy introduced me to her friend Sam and the two of us hit it off like a house on fire. Now hold on, there's no point in not being completely honest here. Sam and I shagged away most of my last three days in the States. I had to wonder why I hadn't hooked up with her earlier in the trip; Sam had been around all the time.
My only surprise was how hard it was to lay my hands on a re-supply of condoms in their small town. The other thing that shook me was that you weren't supposed to drink until you were twenty-one. Christ, you can legally drink in pubs in the UK from the age of eighteen and I'd been frequenting them since before I'd turned sixteen. Depends on how old you look whether you get challenged and thrown out.
Mind you, I thought American beer was crap. Most of it sterilised chilled, and had a head put on it with CO2. Back in those days all English beer was cask conditioned and sold at cellar temperature. Did you know the colder beer is, the less your taste-buds work, so they can serve you up with any crap that they fancy?
Not surprisingly, British pubs went the same way as the American bars a few years later, when the big mutli-nationals took over all of the breweries and using TV advertising, pushed the lager habit big time. Never mind the quality, look at the alcoholic content became the watchword, and they wonder why we have all these lager louts around nowadays. Those wankers wouldn't know the flavour of a good beer if you gave them one.
Anyway I've digressed, where was I? Oh yeah, Tammy's friend Sam. Well, Sam and I hit it off quite good together. Sam was never in Winnie's class. I'm taking about the chemistry that Winnie had stirred up in my loins here; she was a real looker. But beggars can't be choosers and what with Joe's antics over the proceeding week, my hormones were giving me some real strife.
.... There is more of this story ...