Then it came:
in Liverpool Street,
he came too.
She knows he can not pay. Her door remains locked. A student with no cash, he is depositing the memory of her perfect curves within his wank-bank, so can splash out later. Yet she puts on a show.
She pulls at her nipples, teasing them hard. Running her hands over her firm breasts and down over her flat stomach. She gives a wiggle, then turns. He can see thin black material circling her waist then disappearing between the cheeks of her petite ass.
Why? Maybe she hopes that in a few years this boy will return to her, a man with disposable income and energy to burn. He will come back to this very window, remembering her as she is now – perfection. Not the Amsterdam relic she will soon become, ignored for not being young enough, or beautiful enough. With her wider hips, and softer breasts. Too old for this job at the age of twenty-eight.
Or perhaps she is performing this routine for the benefit of the man with the camera. He stands across the street, staring, as he has done for the last hour. He is too old to be acknowledged by someone as young and beautiful as she, not without payment. But how much will she cost? Two hundred Euros, and a lifetime of regret and shame.
She unlocks her door. He steps inside, pocketing his camera as she takes his hand.
Part 1 can be found HERE and should be read first.
I didn’t believe her at first when she told me, but that was guilt suppressing her words. I knew, I think. I mean, it is fucking obvious when you play the record backwards; you can hear the sound of the devil emanating from the vinyl.
I looked up the old newspaper records at the library. Vast numbers of microfiche, slipped under a light, seeking out the confirming article. It took time, but I found it. A tiny box, hidden away at the bottom of page eight.
“In [withheld] Court, yesterday, Charles Hamilton Grant, was sentenced to prison for eight years on the charge of Paedophilia. His child abuse history had gone back five years, starting when his wife died. His known victims numbered six during this period. Families of the abused shouted as the Judge read the sentencing.”
Six. Six that came forward, anyway. My Sister was a seventh. She pleaded with me not to tell my parents, or anyone. I could see the shame etched on her face. I only felt anger. Once again, I didn’t understand her emotion.
It was easy to track him down. A run down flat on an estate, built on the edge of the spreading town. The door gave easy enough, cheap wood splintering as the sturdy lock remained intact. I stepped inside and the smell of cheap aftershave took me back through the years.
He had grown old, and frail. The eight years inside had not been kind to the man. He didn’t recognise me at first. When I told him my name, his eyes widened, then a strange calm fell across him. He was compliant when I asked him to sit down. I took the bulb from my bag and held it out to him. He frowned as he did my bidding, reading aloud the etching upon the bulb. All throughout, he was calm, accepting. Right up to the point when I forced the bulb into the socket of his eye.
I still remember Uncle Charlie. He is dead now, just over ten years. He was not our real uncle, which always confused me. I guess sometimes people use family labels to simplify relationships for the sake of the children. Charlie did that.
He lived across the road from our house. He would make an effort to come over and play with my sister Lizzy and I whenever our parents went out. He would bring cans of fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate. He would not stay long, maybe half an hour, but he said that was time enough for fun, and that as an adult he had responsibilities.
He always made us play “musical chairs”, but with just the one seat occupied by uncle Charlie. The music would play and me and my sister circle him like predators. He would stop the music and we would fight over who got to mount his lap. First to five was the winner. My sister always won.
Her prize was to go upstairs with him and play a special game, a game only winners were allowed to enter. As the loser, I would be shut in the garage where I would stare at the solitary bare bulb in the ceiling, until I went blind to my surroundings.
CLASSIC ECO 230V 20W Made in France . h328
Their game did not last long. He would soon return downstairs and let me out. He would ruffle my hair and say goodbye, promising I would win next time. I never did. After he had gone my sister would stay in her room until Mum and Dad got back, while I watched cartoons on the television.
I remember the police cars outside his house. My dad broke the news to us that he had died. I was sad. Also angry at my sister for not being as upset.
Last week something strange happened, but I am certain, I saw Uncle Charlie in the supermarket.I must remember to tell Lizzy.
Sorry it has been so long, Bro, but there’s been lots of shit happening down here. I promise I will be in close contact soon.
Do you remember I said that I despised my job? My mind numbing, soul crushing position at the the data analytics firm in the City? Well, I can report that this no longer an issue. One Friday I finished my espresso and made my way with ant colleagues, through the rain, to the office. When I got there I found the the doors bolted. The company had folded, disappeared from existence, along with my job. A group of us hung around outside for a few hours, demanding answers. None came, so we conceded defeat and found a nearby bar. Oh, how we drank; hard and long.
The sun was rising above the rooftops as I forced my key into the door of my house. When I entered the home, Nicole was waiting. Shouting and screaming, telling me how I was a shit husband, and father, and son. Telling me I was a lazy fucker, who didn’t deserve loving children, or a beautiful wife, or a caring mother.
I decided not to tell her I had lost my job. It didn’t feel like the right moment.
Instead I endured and survived a weekend of silence punctuated with harsh glares. On Monday I donned my suit, kissed the kids’ foreheads as they munched on cereal, and left for the office. I hung around in coffee shops, and book stores, and then bars when they opened. A slow burning of the hours until it was time to commute home. I have a theory on elasticity of time when bored, how it stretches and hours become longer. I’ll save that for another time. And yeah, I still commuted to the City. What a dick. I could have just walked to the coffee shop around the corner from our house, then ambled back at dusk.
It was inevitable she would find out about my fake trips to work. It took about about three weeks and one phone call. She discovered my subterfuge, along with my infidelity. Did I ever mention the brunette who worked in my department has the most perfect tits you could imagine. That night confirmed me as shit husband, and father, and son. Fact-based, not emotive opinion – irrefutable when proven by a female data analyst.
My marriage has disintegrated. I am jobless. And homeless. I have moved in with Perfect Tits, not because I want to, but out of necessity. On the surface she’s my perfect woman. She hates sushi takeaway, preferring red meat and red wine, and adores a big cock in her ass. What more could the shallowest of men want? But even amazing breasts get boring after a while. Imagine eating a fillet cut of steak every night, and after a while you want a bit of basic skirt.
At first, the only other option I saw was to return home, to Mum. Well fuck that. Then I saw there is one more possibility, another way out of this mess. I will return home, in a geographical sense. Not to our old house and Mum. Under the light of the new moon, I will walk through the cemetery to the cottages. To your cellar. It makes perfect sense.
Even if I get it wrong and survive the immediate drop, nobody will discover me at the cottages. It will be slow, but I will ultimately die, hanging in the dark. Time will correct my fuck up. Weird that. It is rare that the passage of time makes things right. In my experience the movement of time concentrates the feeling of failure, boils despair down to it’s constituent components.
And as I hang naked, my skin, caressed by the darkness and the cold air, will be barely able to contain my soul.*
My body will lie undisclosed by my loved ones, maybe forever. Strike that, I have no loved ones. I have pushed everyone away. They will forget me quick enough. Will I remember any of those I leave behind? You never answered my question. How, or indeed do, memories work where you are? Where I am coming? You can tell me when I get there.
As an aside, I have found my perfect song to play myself out. You see, I told you I would be in close contact soon.
See you soon J. Missed you, Bro.
* Reproduced with kind permission. 😉
This post is the last in a collection, so you may want to work your way through in sequence if you’re not familiar with the back story:
You are lucky you are dead.
Monday begins, as it always does for me, jammed into a metal can with eight hundred other poor fuckers. We are burrowing our way through tunnels hidden deep beneath the streets of London. Going nowhere fast, as usual. The weight of the River Thames rushes unheard, somewhere overhead.
The early commuters respect the edict of absolute silence, following its doctrine as if the carriage were unoccupied. No tourists are present at this hour to break the unwritten law. To speak on the London Underground is a distinct, un-British activity, don’t you know.
In the crush of bodies, there is no room for accessing my own entertainment this morning. I am apathetic. So I resign myself to Fleetwood Mac, leaking from cheap headphones somewhere behind. Or snatching passages of Dickens, from the dog-earred paperback of a passenger in front.
A man to my left grows more tomato-faced by the minute. What little hair he owns is splayed across his damp scalp. The buttons of his shirt strain across his girth. Sweat marks have appeared at the pits of his suit jacket. On the spot I make a promise to myself. I am going to eat healthier, drink less coffee, resume my running and make sure I sort out my work to life balance. In truth I will commit to none of these; again.
I exit the station and am confronted by an Autumn London morning. The street is a bobbing sea of black umbrellas, each attached to a scurrying commuter beneath. I push open the door of the coffee shop and run a hand through my slick hair. Over an Espresso, I check the news and the sport on my phone for overnight updates. I ignore the missed call from our Mum, opting to text Nicole to say I love her. I think for a moment about perusing my work email, but resist. I put my phone away. From my regular seat by the window, I watch the world pass.
The rain stops. Ants fill the streets, a series of black dots scuttling towards offices. They cross at designated spots, neat lines of regular purpose flowing in every direction. Hurry ants, quick, before the clouds rupture once more. I too live this familiar routine of torpor. The daily routine where the direction I take is against my own will. I am not sure if this is coming across, but let me be clear: I am dissatisfied with my job.
My desk is in a room with no windows and no doors. The colleague with which I share the space is one of the most flatulent men it has been my displeasure to know. My work is not exciting. I am in a lull between deadlines, so the craziness of last month is unremembered. My emails are clear by lunchtime so I can take myself out for a languid sushi. My colleague asks where I am going and in fear of him offering to join, I tell him I am going to the dentist. ‘Again?’ he asks, and I nod in affirmation as I leave.
The afternoon passes with interminable slowness. I spend it plugged into my headphones, searching for the perfect funeral song to which I can take my leave. My colleague watches shemale anal porn on his laptop in the corner, demonstrating a careless abandon for which I feel deep jealousy – of his balls not her balls, to be clear.
Nicole texts to ask what time I will be home tonight. I tell her I must attend drinks with the team after work. She asks if I can I pick up some dinner on the way home, suggesting sushi. I say of course, but resolve to pretend they are sold out, and instead buy steak and a nice red. I text to ask if I can take her up the ass tonight. She replies, asking if I can also get some gyozas.
And so the days go. I get through to bed time, which itself is a form of success, I suppose. Each morning I wonder if I will triumph again, and so far have I always have done. That said, I am uncertain I know what appearance failure takes.
We are all contemplating there must be more to life. Yet ‘more’ is unachievable without effort on our part, and that is too exhausting to undertake. Especially as there are drinks with the team after work.
Fuck. I wish I were dead too.
Do you remember when Dad used to drive to the next village, and deposit us in front of Aunt Jane’s television set? He’d go to the bar with Uncle Derek, drink all night then drive us home. The olden days, where drink driving was acceptable.
Do you recall the stretch of twisting road that separated the two villages? The windows wide open, cold air doing it’s best to keep Dad alert, or at least awake. The stench of alcohol still filling the car from his laboured breath. The sound of the cassette player banging out Fleetwood-fucking-Mac. The terrifying darkness. The the sight of rusted crash barriers, lit up by our headlamps, accelerating at us like a video game.
Then you died. And he stopped taking me with him on Sundays. Left me at home. Relieved, I no longer had to run that drunk-driving gauntlet of inevitable death.
Then he died. I remember the call.
The phone rang. Mother shuffled to the bottom of the stairs and lifted the heavy receiver from it’s cradle. The colour drained from her face. I looked at her, then walked to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of milk.
For months afterward I would lie awake at night, the house silent save for Mother snoring next door. She used to be a light sleeper. Catching us as we crept across creaking floorboards, seeking out midnight snacks or television. Remember? Now she had stopped coming to comfort me, like when you and I were young. She was dead to the world on a cocktail of downers and uppers. Busy dealing with these tragedies in her own way, I guess, so I resided in her peripheral vision.
After the crash I gained a week off school on compassionate leave. Truth is, nothing much changed for me. As a Dad he had been absent since your death four years earlier. We were a single parent family, pretty much. Rumour was Dad had taken to visiting a woman at the other end of the village, and it was a small village. He reduced Mother to the role of his personal Cafe and Dry-Cleaning service. She seemed content with the arrangement. Mother, in turn, took solace upon the shoulder of Uncle Derek. To this day she swears blind they never did anything until after both Dad and Aunt Jane died. I never believe her.
They are married now, by the way.
It was Uncle Derek who took me to the site of the accident, the next day. A gleaming new crash barrier stood out like a neon sign. Beyond this a slope led down to the riverbed. Gorse bushes had been ripped out of the ground, creating a path the width of a medium-sized Ford. We descended. The twisted shell of the vehicle was still there. Paint licked clean by the intense heat, the interior melted, tyres blown out. He had parked it nose-first against a rock outcrop. A perfect circle of scorched earth. When they finally removed Dad’s car it was all that remained as evidence. Later, nature reclaimed the spot, as it would his body. As we walked back to Uncle Derek’s car I found a cassette tape on the floor. Fleetwood-cunting-Mac.
Shit happens, you know, but the future is not fixed. I have acute awareness that my own life is starting to look like a fucking car crash.
Yours (in desperate need of his own, personal airbag),