California, tequila and a blonde called Marlene - it was a powerful cocktail for Jimmy Kelly
We'd arrived in San Francisco and quickly hit the No-Doze - Bob's idea to beat our jet-lag from our 11-hour flight. There'd been a one-hour stopover in St Louis, Missouri, spent shuffling in slow queues through US immigration, where surly officials made us feel like criminals.

"What is the purpose of your visit?" the fat official said, with thinly disguised disdain.

"Pleasure," I replied. "You were in the US only four months ago. Was that for pleasure too?" "Yes," I said.

After a couple of more leading questions, my passport was handed, reluctantly, back to me.

Pleasure was the reason for this excursion. I was returning to take off, where I'd left off, with Marlene, a Californian blonde I had met on my previous and first visit to the wild West Coast. I'd left her with a tearful farewell and put our romance on the back burner on my return to England. Keeping in touch by letter and phone, she promised she'd wait. So here I was...

Stumbling through North Beach, San Francisco, we were fuelled up on No- Doze, coffee and Mescal Tequila - a restless caffeine-and-cactus high. We drank in a bar on the corner of Jack Kerouac Street, which was really just an alley, next to the City Lights bookstore. A lane filled with the unwashed and unwanted.

A Tequila chaser to my beer sent me hurtling out the doors, to throw up on the sidewalk. "I wonder if Jack had done that?" I asked Bob later. "Probably," he said.

I'd arranged to meet Marlene in her home town, San Diego. Taking in Las Vegas on the way, Bob and I trundled through tat, clambered over kitsch and played the slot machines, until I got thrown out of a casino, for falling asleep drunkenly at the 25 cent slots.

After a few beers in San Diego, I went back to Marlene's new apartment, the one she'd told me about during our late-night conversations. I was hornier than Satan and had saved myself the last few days, by thinking of bad sit-coms and taking cold showers.

I thought I took it well when Marlene told me that she was having her period and so any kind of sex for her, was completely out of the question. We could kiss though, that was OK. My frustrations continued for the rest of the week. I was coming to the end of my stay and tether. My attempts to rekindle our previous romance were failing fast. The day before I left Marlene finally cracked.

"Do you want me to lay down right here now?" she screeched. "Because, if that's what the way you feel, you can get some whore back in England."

I didn't know whether to slap her or burst out crying. Instead we went out that afternoon and I renewed my friendship with Tequila and slurred out some home truths at Marlene. The next morning, I woke up and missed my connecting flight. I finally arrived at San Francisco airport to meet Bob, hung over, sweating and loveless. I'd turned the last page and the romance was over.

Comments