Saturday, October 13

Positively October

A back room where they all sit and stand, flashing blades and blowing hot air. The front of the shop is quiet. For a moment I linger in the sunshine, because I am invisible and outstanding. It is mid-October, but the warmth and the days are positively September. I sit down under the hands of some young girl. My neck is all wet with sweat (not from lust) and I admit that I am ashamed — but what am I to do? Yes, I perspire. As she drapes a towel around my shoulders, tucking it into my collar, she says—‘Hot outside, ain’t it?’ I tell her, yes, it’s very hot and I pull a facial expression but she cannot see my face. Her fingers are slender; blurred to me. She went to the other side of the room and pulled on some latex gloves. I have not seen that before. She does not want to touch me. The water runs across my skull, drips loops into my ears, gurgling, the water drips into my shirt; underneath her gloved hands we are distanced by a thin sheet of latex, terribly alone. There is another girl and they look alike, indistinguishable, twins. A third enters. She turns to me—‘My eyebrows are bushy.’ I tell her—‘No, they’re perfect.’ A loudmouthed woman sits down; the girl removes her latex gloves. Up above, the skylight shimmers. ‘She has such pretty feet,’ said the man. His blade shines. I do not look at the feet. I enjoy trying not to look at her feet. I am alone, I feel so unbearably alone. The man leans in close and his breath smells of tea.
It is so hot. My family is so far away. There is nothing I am in love with. I am a human with nothing in love. It is coarse to think of things but I am not top of anyone’s list. For twenty months I was my mother’s only child and maybe then I was number one, uncontested, a miraculous beam of perfect light; things done changed since then. I cannot bring myself to go into the café and buy a can of coke. It is useless of me, but I walk past, so thirsty, so hungry, trembling. Instead I find a café where there is no queue. The man behind the counter has what they call ‘piercing blue eyes’. I put my eyes into his, engaged in a form of contact.
The coffee is hot. I wish I could bathe in the coffee. On the empty platform like a west end stage a girl removes her leopard skin coat, and sits down upon it, stretching out gym’d legs and daylight splattered, a billboard overhead like a bastard halo. Without much to regret, I catch myself staring at her. Maybe I will urinate to pass the time. She crosses her legs. I watch. I watch. Forgive this pervert. I do not think of sex.
A man sits next to me. Is he the man from my office? I cannot look, for if I were to get a good look then our noses would be an inch apart. He is playing a colourful game on his phone (the kind of game that reminds me of the mobiles that hang above a baby’s crib).
It is the 17:08 into London.
Dressed to the nines, a bustling carriage of those spending a night out in the capital; a place I am tired of, and being so makes me feel more dead than alive. The girl opposite is dressed in black silk. She stares at me, or perhaps she stares out of the window, but the window and I are good friends, so she regards me as she regards the window, both of us with sun upon us. With her jaw elevated, she turns and reveals that there is no bra, not a line of cloth to separate her naked back, or part it like Moses; only a plain of beautiful spine muscle. I stare out of the window. There is some food in my bag that I wish to eat but I daren’t amongst the other passengers. My stomach rumbles. I tremble.
Everyone else has company.
When I get home, I do not turn on the lights, but I do sit down and eat the sandwich I bought a while ago. All my furniture and possessions are not quite catalogue. Someone is staring at me! I look out of the window but, no, there is no one staring at me. Silence. There is a lump of lettuce on my hand, between the fleshy tendons of thumb and finger; I scoop it up in my mouth.
My phone.
It vibrates.
A message.
An unknown number with a kiss at the end of it.
‘Haha, I’ll be there around 11 x’
Who is this, I wonder? I am very anxious that they will turn up at my flat at eleven. Nothing is prepared. The palace is in ruins! There are balls of dust and hair on the floor, brown paper bags are scattered here and there. Why, only this morning I threw some underwear in the bin. Please don’t tell anyone this is how I live! I have three condoms left and that might be enough but what woman would hang around in such a ghoulish place. This stranger caused me all sorts of problems. A visit at eleven o’clock, though? I had beer, tequila, and no intention of being sober at that time. My heart was set on being alone for double-digit hours. If I had been shunned, I would stay shunned. Although it would be good to fuck. I was in the right mood to fuck, to fuck like someone raised by wolves. I added this stranger as ‘No You Won’t’ and looked at their picture. It was a blonde woman without eyebrows who had no idea of what made a good camera angle. Who was she? I had never seen her before. I responded—‘Wrong number.’ And then, she—‘Sorry.’
How polite of her to apologise! Her apology sang into me. How kind of her that she should apologise to such a lonely soul. I wished to respond. We could make ends meet. We would make do, by accident, lovers, and I would have company and she would never text the wrong person again.
I sat down and put a cushion into the small of my back. A lamp blew. Darkness. I watched the clock tick towards eleven.

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