‘You know what it is that bothers you?’ I said to her.
She looked at me. Didn’t speak. Just looked.
‘It is that, if you are honest with yourself, you actually enjoyed it’
Rebecca had been in my room for the past 3 hours. Dawn light was just starting to crack above the line of the houses outside my window and beyond the yard. The sound of the occasional ambulance could be heard, no doubt returning with the booty of another night of alcohol fuelled carnage in London. I was getting out finally, getting away, making my long overdue escape. I lay watching the light change, my arms behind my head. I could feel her eyes looking over my face. She touched my cheek lightly, I didn’t move, just stared out of the window, half closed eyes. There was a sadness on me, I was tired of the way life treated people. There just was no cure.
‘How was your party?’ She asked me, changing the subject to lighten the mood.
‘Ha. Yea that was something.’ I replied recalling the night. ‘I should have known everyone would turn up with cocaine as a parting gift. Most people get watches or something, don’t they?’ I turned to look into her eyes and as I did I saw that the subject hadn’t really changed at all. I smiled. She was good looking. I was so tempted. It was tough. I placed a kiss on her brow and went back to watching the light change. It was going to be a beautiful clear morning.
‘Anyway, what are you doing in my room in the middle of the night with your boyfriend away and me on the tail end of a couple of bags of coke?’ I said
‘Don’t you know who I am? I have a reputation to maintain Missy’ I finished.
She had invited herself in. I had noticed this effect in the last month or so of my being in England. I suddenly became safe ground, people seemed to open up to me in ways they never had before. I guess they knew I was leaving and probably would never return. There was an excitement in that. It allowed room for a certain honesty that normally would not be able to be present.
‘I’ve been drawn to you since we met’ She said
I paused thinking how best to reply. She spoke before I could.
‘You know I am attracted to you’ She said.
‘Oh Jesus’ I breathed out heavily. ‘Look, I have been holding that side at bay, especially given what we have been talking about for the last 3 hours’
‘I know.’ She replied. ‘Thank you.’
That almost annoyed me. There was no thanks to be had, it was fucking frustrating. I was starting to feel tired finally, the coke wearing off. Thankfully the usual drop into a psychotic comedown hadn’t been coming. I guessed I had pushed right through and out the other side, it did happen sometimes. It had been a big night. It surprised me that I was being so conservative where she was concerned. It wouldn’t have taken much. In a way she was open to it, but I knew something else was at work. She was broken and that just made it wrong to me. I actually cared.
‘Don’t tease’ I said and I meant it. I was running out of reasons to control myself.
‘You are right though’ she said. Turning over and moving a little closer to me for the warmth. We both stared out the window. The colours were beautiful and you could see a light frost on the glass.
‘I did enjoy it.’ She said confessionally. I thought that was probably a good thing.
‘That’s the part that fucks us up’ I replied and sighed.
Then she kissed me and I fought the urge to throw myself onto her. It made it worse. Desire resisted driving me crazy. Just as I was about to give up and tear into her like a savage, I heard a noise downstairs. The front door, and then a voice.
‘Oh fucking shit!’ she said.
‘Damn right’ I said. ‘ I thought you said he was away’
She didn’t reply, she didn’t need to, he was clearly back.
Footsteps on the stairs coming up. I knew they would go past my door. I held her still, she was in complete panic. I whispered quickly.
‘Look nothing has actually happened, you have done nothing wrong here, lets just chill out a bit.’ I said to her almost laughing, because it was true.
‘He won’t see it like that’ She said. Fear in her eyes.
‘What have we been talking about all god damn night!” I said. ‘If you act guilty for this you are just creating the whole drama into something it isn’t. You have a choice.’
I desperately wanted to believe myself but I knew there was absolutely no hope. As I realised this, so I realised that I needed to act.
I got off the bed. Went over to the door. Pulled a cigarette from my sideboard as I did. I pushed the door quietly to a complete close. I had left it ajar as much to advertise to others in the house that I was not taking advantage of her, as to offer her a constant sense that there was an escape route if she needed it. I could have played it all very differently. The time for being nice was over. I was starting to feel annoyed now that she had put me in this situation and with her current fearful behaviour, it was only going to make him worse when he found out she was in here. The door clicked lightly and I leant my back against it, held the lighter up to my face, lit the flame like a fuse, stared at it for a moment, and then puffed the cigarette alight.
I could hear him outside down the hallway knocking on the door of my flat mates, where Rebecca should have been staying. I heard voices. Then I realised they were not letting him in. That was pretty good of them, I thought. I then heard footsteps returning. He was leaving. The footsteps paused by my door for a little longer than was comfortable. I didn’t think he was brave enough to try, but he knew, some part of him knew she was in here. The moment was frozen, hanging on a breathless still, none of us moved. Not him, not her and not me. She sat on the bed, staring at me, looking like a kid expecting to be whipped at any moment. It was quite telling really. I shook my head, raised my eyebrows, pulled a funny face at her then sucked on the smoke. She broke into a muffled laugh then. That was good. The footsteps carried on down the stairs, I heard the front door open and shut. We were safe. But whatever came next was going to make all the difference.
She handled it badly. Told him I had got frisky with her but she had resisted my advances. All the kind of stuff I expected after seeing her reaction. Their relationship wasn’t that honest. She hid a lot of her true feelings. I didn’t hold it against her. There were reasons she was the way she was. In my defense, I had done two grammes of cocaine and copious amounts of booze that night, and still I had resisted. It was un-fucking-heard of. I deserved a damn medal of honour not the shitstorm she was likely to unleash on me with her unwillingness to admit to the truth. I wondered how bad it was going to get. But I still didn’t react or blame her. The reason? The reason was the conversation we had in those three hours. She had opened up to me and in doing so, it had opened me up too. To something I realised I had never spoken to another living soul about; childhood abuse. In talking to her I saw that, quite by accident, over the years I had somehow managed to resolve it in myself. I was cured of any malaise it might have caused me. She, on the other hand, was a total mess.
She had been through much the same experience, abused by an older man, then forced into bringing other people into the situation. The key. I had found out, was admitting to yourself that, yes, the body had experienced it as pleasure, and yes, there had been some element of enjoying it, of wanting it, of seeking it more. And it was that which grew into the sickness inside as you got older and came to understand just what part you had played in the whole depravity. You just couldn’t lie to yourself. We were guilty of sinful and sick pleasure, our bodies just didn’t know there were rules to the game. And that was the crux of the crisis. In her case, it had started to break her, turned her inside herself, made her hate herself, made her hide, made her beat herself up with the guilt. It was all very Catholic and wretched. The truth was an ugly thing and she could not bear to face it, she didn’t know how, and that twisted her all out of shape. It had all came out that night. And as a result I understood better why she was the way she was. I also now knew why she was going to act the way she inevitably would with her boyfriend. I couldn’t hold it against her under those circumstances.
In my case. Well, I was a druggie, a confirmed loser with not a lot of hope of achieving much of anything, and I certainly didn’t have any reputation left to protect. My experiences, were just that. If anything, I found them almost comical in their retardedness. I certainly wasn’t willing to have a guilt trip about it all. Fuck ‘em. I’d tried to share that lightness with her. It was a heavy subject and one neither of us had ever shared with another person before. She liked my perspective, it let her off the hook, and she had confessed to some pretty weird and honest feelings that night. I felt humbled, but I also felt wary. I knew people didnt just get better when they opened up, usually it made them react much worse later. But it had brought us close that night, so close that sex seemed inevitable and yet, and yet. My sense was that right then it would have been the most damaging thing to do. And I was right. Her reaction when her boyfriend showed up proved it. I was proud of myself for resisting. It really was some kind of small miracle. My mistake was thinking anyone would give a shit.
I was cooking dinner the next night when it came. The knock at the door. I opened it uncertain what to expect. He seemed calm but determined. The Spaniard in him came to the fore. He had dark eyes. He reminded me of a horse. I felt, well, I felt quite scared truth be told.
‘We need to talk’ He stated.
He was likely to be fuelled by the wrath of the God’s of Jealousy and I was armed with only a frying pan full of sizzling chicken. I let him in carefully and we went into the kitchen. He stayed by the kitchen door, in the shadows. I stood by the stove tossing it in the gas flame as he spoke. Keeping a careful watch on him from the corner of my eyes. The distance was enough to give me room to manoeuvre if it came to it.
‘You know why I am here’ he said in a judgemental manner but I let it slide, I knew he must be hurting. I remembered all the times I had been cheated on. Besides, I liked the guy. I felt for him. She was, in truth I felt, acting a bit of a spoiled bitch.
‘Sure I know’ I said. I’d let him vent for a bit then be honest, hopefully it would get through. I wasn’t sure.
‘I need you tell me what happened’ he said. ‘ I spoke to Rebecca. She has told me but I need to hear it from you’ I could tell then that he didn’t know we had spoken further. I’d rung Rebecca half way through the day, knowing she would be in a state. Trying to be a voice of sanity to her in the midst of her coming apart. I’d told her it was ok, whatever she told him as long as it wasn’t a blatant lie, it was ok. She had warned me that she had told him about the ‘frisky’ business. I thought she was digging a hole but so long as she didn’t cry rape, it was her problem and not mine.
‘I didn’t know what to say. I am so sorry, I am just scared, he will go crazy if he thinks it was me.’ I listened, and though a sense of anger descended on me for a moment; a hatred for all the times women had shown themselves willing to damn a man, yet unwilling to stand up for the truth. I hated them for that power, so many times I had seen it and been victim to it. But I knew I had to take it, to flow with it. What did I care anyway, I would be gone soon. I wanted to help her. This was, I felt, the way to do it.
‘Don’t worry honey, I understand’ I said.
‘Thank you’ She said. But her weakness was starting to piss me off. She was making the situation worse.
He stared defiantly at me. I stared at the sizzling chicken. I didn’t want to compromise her, but I wasn’t about to accept the Spanish Inquisition either. I felt caught in the middle of a relationship that needed to be more honest to survive. I knew where this went. I was going to end up the scapegoat. That started to fire me up. I listened to him for a while. He was hurting, I understood that. He was a nice guy. I started to feel sorry for him. It dawned on me that she was running circles round him and he just didn’t see it. I turned to look at him and saw myself. I felt more akin with him than with her then. He was a still a brother and suffering, in part because of me, but really this was his issue and he was projecting it onto me. I felt he was looking for a way out, an excuse to blame someone else.
‘Listen, Steve, I hear what you are saying and I actually know exactly how you are feeling right now. All I can tell you is this. I haven’t done anything. Nothing happened between me and Rebecca. She says I got ‘frisky’, well hell, yea maybe in some way because what sane man wouldn’t. I’d been out at my leaving party for Chrissakes, I was stoned and drunk. But. But, I resisted, and truth be told, not just out of respect to you but because ....well...you need to talk to her man, you two sort this out. This isn’t about ME, Steve, it is about you two.’ I thought I had put it pretty well.
I turned back to my chicken that was starting to look pretty black but I still wasn’t sure if I was going to need that frying pan.
‘You have got a nerve mate, haven’t you.’ he said.
‘You trying to put it back on her, you are just a lascivious selfish bastard who preys on other men’s girlfriends. Don’t give me that horseshit about respect. You couldn’t give a fuck for anyone but yourself’
This was not good and, well, to be quite honest I had had enough of the both of them. I didn’t feel I deserved to be taking crap off either of them any longer. But before I could politely attempt to get him to leave, he ominously finished his sentence.
‘You want to be careful someone doesn’t knife you mate’
Tumbleweeds rolled across the room. Nothing moved in the world. All that could be heard was the subtle sizzle of over cooked chicken.
It was the way he defined the actual weapon rather than the act, that disturbed me. My hunch had been right about keeping hold of that frying pan. I wondered if he was carrying the knife he had mentioned. I turned back to him, it was time to change tack and deal with the situation somewhat differently. It had just taken an unexpected turn
‘Do not threaten me in this house Steve. That’s it mate. This conversation is over. I have told you what happened, nothing fucking happened. Got it? Go speak to your girlfriend. Go sort it out with her. Don’t come fucking threatening me with a knifing! How the hell do you expect me to react to that right now?’
I was off the leash, ready to go. I could feel it. I felt threatened and I knew what passion did to men when they were under the control of stupidity. The frying pan angled just ever so slightly towards him was enough for his senses to pick up the reality of what was brewing here. I was happy to go with it if he really wanted to. And I had to assume he was armed with a blade now. I was serious. He wasn’t the fighting sort, he just had heat in his blood. I was born rabid. He knew it. I saw something click in his eyes, and I breathed easy again. He backed off, walked to the door and left.
I stared at the cremated bits of chicken for a moment. Then just smashed the shit out of the frying pan on the sideboard. Bits of chicken flying into the air. Black oil spraying my face and t-shirt. ‘FUCK FUCKING FUCK !’ I shouted. I really didn’t need this shit off people at all.
She rang me two days later. I was still pissed off with them both. It was like being caught in a kindergarten play that you couldn’t get out of but obviously didn’t fit into. She wanted to see me. I wasn’t sure what that meant. We met on the hill. It was another sunny day. I was making the final closes on all the accounts in my life. 18 years I had lived in London it had been a wild time but had slowed down to a stop and was really becoming quite unhealthy for me in other ways too. I needed to get out for so many different reasons. The drugs, the greyness, the concrete, the anger in the people, the claustrophobia, the failures and to some extent the successes, all added up to time for me to leave. I had three days left, and I knew I may never be coming back, not in this lifetime. This was a time of goodbyes.
‘How's it going?’ I said when she reached me. I was sat basking on the grass some way up. It was a beautiful view out over the West away from London. A flat panorama. You could see over houses and across semi-woodland as the city limits ended and on a really clear day you might spot the towers of Didcot blowing smoke into the distant horizon. To the left you could see the planes that flew out in constant streams from Heathrow bound for exotic destinations. I always loved sitting on that hill wondering about the future, watching those planes flying away knowing one day it would be me. I always knew. Now that day was here. I felt freedom in my veins and it felt good. I felt young again, alive, burning with the fire from within.
‘He is so jealous, I am sick of it’ she said.
‘You going to leave him?’ I asked
‘ I don’t know’ she replied looking down. I didn’t think she would, not now. Not unless someone came along. It struck me then, maybe that was what she was thinking.
‘Have you ever had an affair?’ I asked her.
‘No, only ever been with him really’ she said.
‘Jesus, you serious?’ I was shocked.
‘Yup’ She looked at me. I didn’t know what to think. I guess I believed her.
The situation reminded me of mine way back when I had been with the same girl for 5 years and it had just become a claustrophobic lie. It was sad really. Love did that. You sank into it, gave yourself away to it in trust, only to find yourself smothered by it in the end. It killed one of you, and the one that got it would never be the same again, the devastation was total. This time, it was going to be him. There was nothing I could do, I was right, this wasn’t about me, it was about them, or rather, it was about her. Then unexpectedly she threw her arms around me and kissed me. I didn’t resist this time. I think it was the way he had been. I had tried to be honourable. I had really gone out of my way to be right, to hold off. Either way you couldn’t win. He had condemned me in my innocence. It wasn’t the first time people had done that to me, now I didn’t feel the urge to care anymore. I let the sense of honour go. And to hell with it.
I pushed her down into the long grass, pulled her belt undone, tugged at the top of her trousers to reveal her soft pink skin, it always looked so fresh and luscious in sunlight against nature. I loved that. Her kisses smothered my neck, her eyes, pupils dilated in long overdue release. She was completely open, days of this had been working on her, turning the female inside her, tempering it, forming it and now she was letting go of it all, to me. I felt like a wild animal, released, uncaged. Let loose to be what it really was; a killer, a savage. A brutal, thoughtless, guilt-free force of nature bore through me. I knelt above her. Looked around for moment. Felt like a lion pausing over its kill. I could hear the jungle drums. She looked up at me, the sunlight glistened in tears in her eyes. I smiled knowingly, then dropped upon her and tore her away from the places she had come to know as her own.