Western Lane

Western was not born in Western Lane but was in fact conceived there. Lucy Lane was much keener to remember the conception rather than the birth of her only son, not so much as for actual love-making – which was rather awkward in an aging Morris Minor belonging to her dad – but because the lane was adrift with mayflowers and wild roses and it was impossibly romantic for a first time. Afterward, they drifted along the hedgerows which hummed with life, his hand coiled around her waist. They ducked into a field where they lay and kissed under poppies and cow parsley.

Nine months later, Western was born howling into a cold, wet late February. Western Lane would have been a barren quagmire at that time of the year but when Lucy looked into her son’s eyes, she saw butterflies and dropping petals, the confetti she would never experience.

Western was raised by Lucy and her parents, Bernard and Mary. The aging Morris Minor continued to age and the new car that had been promised never eventuated. Lucy suspected they used the money to pay for the new addition to the household, yet Western slept in a second-hand cot and wore clothes donated by the church and played with toys scratched and scuffed from the toy library.

Western was much loved, not because he had the most adorable dimples and an infectious smile, but because he was ‘a good boy’. Bernard and Mary liked ‘a good boy’ as they had liked Lucy until she became a ‘bad girl’ for having a baby out of wedlock. Western soon learned to charm the knitted tank top off his grandad and to sweet talk his Nanna like a ninja.

Western never asked about his father. The subject had been shut down from his gestation. All he knew was that his father had died. His mum had never re-partnered or married. Single dads from school had tried to court her, but she had declined and often went into a state of mourning after such a proposal. She would clutch Western tight and wash his hair with her tears.

The boyhood charm increased in his manhood; his boyish dimples, cornflower eyes and mass of dark curly hair meant he got noticed. Western became a model and soon London called. He left the three aging parents in his MG and took off without so much as a glance down the lane he was named after as he careened out of the village towards the motorway.

His career in London took off and his handsome face could be seen on billboards and magazine covers across the world. The major concern about being a model was keeping the body fit and healthy, and one of the habits Western took seriously was dental care. His smile was making his fortune and he had to keep on top of it. He had been recommended a very good dentist and we find him reclined on the chair awaiting his clean and polish.

“Good afternoon, Western. My name is Dr Nigel Clark. OK, let’s have a look. Open wide.”

Western nodded and opened up.

“You have an unusual name. Western. Western Lane. It has a ring to it and I’ve just remembered why.”

“Ahhh ahhh,” Western said.

“Yeah. Twenty odd years back. There was a little lane outside my village, and I used to go there with my girlfriend. Western Lane! Never forgotten it. Boy, what a summer that was. Summer of youth and all that. Made hay while the sun shined. Left me broken-hearted. I’m a dentist not a poet. Forgive me.”

A weird bolt went through Western. He must have tensed.

“Relax, Western. I know it’s a bit uncomfortable, but we just need to get this plaque off.”

The dentist’s assistant must not have heard this story before.

“What happened, Nigel?”

“Oh, she dumped me.”

Western frowned.

“Does that hurt? Not much longer,” Nigel said.

“Why?” the assistant asked.

“Well, she never told me herself. Her father came to see me. She told him I’d forced myself on her. He wasn’t happy we’d been at it in his car. He told me to clear out or he’d get the police involved. He was a respected man in the village, knew a long-haired hippy like me didn’t stand a chance against the law.”

The assistant giggled. “Can’t imagine you a hippy!”

Nigel chuckled.

“Didn’t you try to get her back?” she asked.

“The thing is, he gave me a big wad of cash with a final threat of police action. I came to London and paid for university, and it made me the man I am today. Life’s a funny thing.”

“Arh as ar amjh?” Western gurgled.

“Hold on! There you go!” Nigel said, taking the remaining wads of cotton out of Western’s mouth.

Western’s mouth slackened and he ran his tongue over his remarkably smooth and white teeth, before saying, “What was her name? The woman you went to Western Lane with, what was her name?”