The spirit of his youth

by Dan

“Baby can’t you see I’m calling”

Last number at the school reunion disco. Was supposed to be 80s but never mind.

She looked over at him, eyes as big as saucers and mouthed the words.

“A guy like you should wear a warning”

Paul had fancied Debbie since school and now, forty years on and after 6 pints of lager sipped from his “devil’s cup” of Dutch courage, his moment had arrived. Time to show the spirit of his youth!

He had only come to the school reunion because she’d be there. Facebook had told him she was free and single again.

He stepped creakily on to the dance floor.

He arrived near her with his best “Dad dance through the crowd” moves just in time for her to point at him and say “You’re dangerous I’m loving it” in time to the music.

Same blonde hair, could pass for forty.

He held his belly in.

Didn’t he deserve some fun after all these years with Laura, “Her indoors”.

“My head spinning round and round” said Britney. Debbie made a sexy face.

At that moment Paul felt another presence dancing beside him on the dance floor. Muscling in!

He looked round and was suddenly face to face with what appeared to be his younger self, dressed in his wedding suit. This apparition, invisible to Debbie, was not leering at her but looking sternly at Paul, who averted his gaze.

And instantly he spooled back 36 years to his own wedding day, he and Laura sneaking up to the wedding suite to consummate the marriage.

Opening the door and discovering Uncle Derek, naked except for a string vest, with lipstick on his cheek and his toupee hanging limply below his chin. Then seeing Laura’s mum’s old friend Pam, who was unsuccessfully trying to squash herself beneath the bed.

“With a taste of a poison Paradise”, Debbie was moving in closer, arms around his neck.

The thoughts jumbled his drunken mind. Uncle Derek’s gratitude that he never told Auntie Jean had been embarrassing. He’d liked Uncle Derek, his jolliest relative. But that day he had reduced instantly in Paul’s mind’s eye from great guy to pathetic old creep. Debbie’s face got closer

“Too high can’t come down it’s in the air and it’s all around” panted Britney breathlessly.

Uncle Derek with his trousers round his knees.

He looked back at Debbie and saw her through the eyes of the young Paul, and of course instead of the sexiest girl at Barnfield High, she now appeared to be a wizened, over-processed, old crone, like Laura’s mum’s mate Pam.

And that made him Uncle Derek!

He mouthed an apology at her and sadly but firmly, the slightly smug ghost of young Paul led him back to his plastic chair beside the monkey bars while Debbie stood in the middle of the dancefloor looking understandably confused. Britney, warming to her theme, declared “I’m addicted to you, don’t you know that you’re toxic!” to no one in particular.

Paul put on his coat and looked around the room as the lights came on and the song ended. “I’m ready now!” he said echoing it’s last line before looking his own youthful spirit firmly in the eye and watching it dissolve into the dispersing reunion crowd.