by Stephen Tuffin

Lenny loved Linda and Linda loved Lenny. That was all there was to it. They had lived next door to each other since they were snot-nosed kids playing in the green-stuff that grew shoulder high on the wasteland near the gasworks. But, as befits all self-respecting star-crossed lovers, both sets of parents despised the living-sight of the other set. Why that was, no one could remember. And, like all good angry people, Lenny and Linda’s parents had worked hard to keep their hatred alive.

So Lenny and Linda had found themselves facing what at first appeared to be an insurmountable dilemma. They wanted, more than anything in the world, a place where they could do what all star-crossed lovers want to do. They wanted to consummate their love for one another – and they wanted the consummating to be the kind that would leave their teeth rattling in their gums. And the sooner the better!

And then one night as Lenny lay rock hard and lonely in his single bed he had a brainwave: a first for him and the last, by all accounts.

Three nights passed and as the world slept, Lenny shouldered his duffle bag and climbed out of his bedroom window and silently scaled the concrete porch that was beneath Linda’s. He didn’t have to tap on the pane, Linda was right there waiting for him, her chest pressed up against the glass in anticipation of the coming consummation.

A short while later the two lovers were walking, at a great pace and hand in hand, away from Dunstan Avenue towards their very own love nest. Rounding the corner, they passed Pete Adcock’s house on their left before Lenny brought them to stop outside a tiny structure located on the corner of Warren Drive. Linda, who had not been privy to Lenny’s brainwave, was momentarily lost for words. But then she said, ‘Are you bloody joking?’

Lenny’s face dropped. ‘Well, I just thought…it’s dry and warm and…’

Linda glowered. ‘You want to do it in there?’

Lenny looked perplexed.

‘You are asking me to consecrate our love in a bloody phone box?’ Linda often got her words muddled up, but she was a kind and gentle soul.

‘I brung wallpaper with me,’ Lenny said indicating the contents of his duffle bag. ‘Three rolls left over from when me Dad did the front room. I thought I could hang it over the glass – no one will be able to see inside. And I got this too.’ Lenny produced a red sock from his pocket.

‘What’s that for?’ Linda said. ‘Don’t tell me you ain’t brung no projection.

‘Course not, you dozy mare. It’s for the light bulb, see,’ Lenny smiled gently. ‘I thought we could dim the light with it.’ He had his hand in the sock now and made to peck at Linda’s neck in the same way Rod Hull’s Emu pecked at TV celebrities whenever the chance arose.

Linda giggled and Lenny winked.  

Five minutes later, hidden behind a wall of wallpaper and bathed in warm red light, they fucked like rabbits.

And so the consummation happened despite the cramped conditions and the fact that the cold and sharp edge of the phonebook shelf sliced a ‘thanks for the memory’ scar into Linda’s right bum cheek, a scar that would forever remind her of him.

Nine months later Lenny signed up and joined the Army and so set out to see the world. And Linda? Linda reluctantly married one of her Dad’s mates, Harold, a man twice her age but with a steady job and the elevated position of driver of the dustcart.

‘Lenny and Linda Were Lovers’ is from Stephen Tuffin’s collection of flash fiction titled A View from the Gasworks. He has an MA in creative writing and teaches creative writing with the Open University as well as working freelance as a creative writing teacher and mentor.

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