Friday, 23 May 2008

The end of summer

He’d been seeing her for a month now.
Though he had difficulty remembering the night they met, he felt he could remember every moment of his life since then.
Juddering, sensual moments in her company; anxious tedious times without her. Each second of this month seemed engraved upon his mind, and would be forever after.
Long summer nights spent wrapped together. Closeness, he always wanted her nearby, despite the humidity and the natural heat. She told him once that she liked to sweat. She told him everything he’d ever wanted a woman to tell him.
And, on balconied mornings, watching the sun rise over the city, he’d open himself up to her, pouring it all free, bathing her in himself to see if she could stand it.
When she went, his sweat would turn cold. His mind raced with fear. Would she return that evening? Why would she come back? Why did she ever have to leave?
That evening he resolved to remedy this issue. His was a turbulent mind, but within it he saw a straight line heading towards clarity and followed it there. Followed it to the roof terrace with a glass of 30 year old Macallan in hand, sullied by a single ice-cube.
When she arrived, she followed his hand-drawn paper signs and arrows, through the apartment and out onto the roof terrace.
The garden was blooming with lavender and hydrangea bushes, the drone of insects was louder than the traffic, up there in the clouds.
He said he had something important to ask her, so she sat upon a low brick wall. She lit two cigarettes, one for each of them, though he set his down on the brickwork.
Then he poured himself upon her once more. He gushed, he cried a little, he got on bended knee before his proposal was done.
And she accepted, with crystalline tears streaking her own beaming face. They stood and embraced as the sun dropped lower behind the skyscrapers.
They talked and drank for the rest of the night, though she said she couldn’t stay with him - she needed to go home. To go home and pick up some things. She could not be dissuaded.
He held onto her company for as long as he could. She unclasped herself around 3am.
The CCTV cameras in the lift recorded her face, smiling broadly for the entire duration of her ride to the ground floor.
One also recorded the moment when her face turned to horror, upon the opening of the lift doors onto the lobby. A different camera watched as one gunshot pierced her breast, and another struck her temple.
Her fiancé, high up in the penthouse, was already sweating without her near. He had resolved to go after her, to retrieve her and he was already punching the button to call the elevator.
He was already watching so eagerly as the blessed machine joyously counted the floors - up, up, up - up to his high apartment.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

The mother lode

A cringing performance, but she felt she was in. Now she just needed to seal the deal, so to speak, and she could think about asset stripping.
It doesn’t matter where she met him, a bar, a party, a hotel lobby, they were all the same to her - all places where she might meet the rich.
She almost let him go. She almost sidled by, without even allowing him the pleasure of her smile. Just as she approached she heard him order surely the cheapest scotch they had on the bar.
What kept her interested was what was clamped to the arm he used to point out the bottle of Chivas Regal, sitting forlornly at the side of the Johnnie Walker. She admired the man’s gold watch for a few seconds. Certainly his attire spoke of money, but why go for the cheapest drink? Was he simply putting on a front? Was he grifting too?
She had to ask about the drink. Unembarrassed he laughed and said he hated it. The conversation continued and he explained that he loved fine Scottish single malts, that he loved them a little too much, on occasion. So he would always start the night with the cheapest blended whisky he could find, something to make him feel a little ill, in order to remind him not to over-indulge.
The story was good enough for the woman. She invited the man to a booth and eyed him carefully. Not bad looking, not too old, in good shape. Better than so many others. She listened to him intently and played with the collar of his shirt, almost out of gratefulness.
He overindulged that night and she took him home in a cab. Wondering if it was worth playing the long game over this one, she insisted on helping him up to his apartment. He’d said it was the penthouse, but she had to see for sure.
Sure enough, the button press came with the turn of a key and the lift doors opened upon a lavish and spacious apartment suite. She put him to bed, left her number in eye-liner on his pillow, and exited with a feeling of elation which she tried her best to dampen. She kept it in check until she opened the door to her own apartment, but by then the scream could be suppressed no longer.
The mother lode. The mother lode was going to call her in the morning.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Before calamity

At street level, everything is different.
The cars whiz by like they’re trying to achieve take-off. The people zoom about like they have mere seconds to live and need to achieve their personal goals, before calamity.
She walks among them. Quite different, a purposeful stepper, stalking among the trees and bushes as she deftly moves in the direction of her target.
Spying a man waiting at a crossing, she is almost upon him when she feigns a small trip. He moves to grab her, to halt her fall. She reaches her arm about him. She peers up at him, smile prepared, no matter what he looks like. She is confident in her beauty, her radiance. It will take him in like any other.
Somehow, in that split-second, in that Gorgon-glare, she is able to reach inside the pocket of his jacket and retrieve the wallet that is bulkily protruding.
She pockets it herself as the man helps her upright. The unspoken code of personal space already broken, the man feels free to touch this woman a little more, brushing lightly at her coat as though it might somehow have gotten dirty during their collision.
Another smile, this time with a brush of the hair. Magical pheromones must dance from her curls, because the man can do nothing now but beam at her, this woman he’s saved.
Can he buy her a coffee? No. Thank you, but no. She is busy and has an appointment she must reach.
Perhaps he can split a taxi with her? After all, he has caused her lateness! (What lateness? It’s been a matter of seconds since they met!)
No, thanks all the same, but she is merely a few blocks from where she is headed.
She thanks him and bids him a good day. He shakes his head as he watches her cross the road. He can’t believe she’s walking away. Walking away from this fate, this kismet.
She can’t believe she let him look at her face for that long. Idiot! Amateur! She is chastising herself and picks up the pace. Ducking around a corner, she decides to get into a taxi after all. She feels like distance between the mark and her is what is required now.
‘Downtown’ is her spoken destination. The cabbie nods. She has no money on her person, but for whatever she finds in the kind man’s wallet.
She opens it, impatiently. It is stuffed with twenties. She allows herself, at last, a smile. She may be getting sloppy, but her instincts are still strong.
She sits back now, crosses her legs and plays with the hem of her skirt. Confident again, she’ll flirt with the taxi driver now, from here until her apartment.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

High Apartment

The cheap scotch nearly knocked him sick. He opened his wet mouth wide and allowed one ice cube to slide down the tumbler glass and plop perfectly between his teeth, onto his fat tongue.
There he held the cube for a moment before sending it, with a flick of the neck, to the back of his throat. The shock of the snap from the ice alleviated any feeling of nausea.
He glanced over the transcript of the latest dream. He had taken to getting up and writing down immediately, everything he could remember from his dreams, before consciousness wiped them out and they became relics of memory, or the stuff of déjà vu.
His desk, his room, was a mess. With a slight kick of his heels the chair rolled back until the hard wall stopped it. A path through the clutter had been cleared to allow this regular smooth meeting of chair and wall.
Standing, to pull up his pants, the man knocked the blind which flowed upwards, accompanied by a razzing sound, and away. Moonlight bathed the room.
The man moved a few steps, switched off his desk lamp and just enjoyed swimming in this new spotlight, this fresh ambience.
He barely touched the blind. He wouldn’t have touched it tonight, on purpose, but now that it was open and redundant he was struck by its pointlessness as a visual barrier.
No buildings were level with his floor, none higher. He could wave his penis at the window all night and who would care?
“Probably why I keep it closed,” he said aloud, tending to the fiddly process of closing the blind before he bothered to pull up his jeans.
Then he shuffled on, towards the fire-escape; towards the roof and the air.
The cool night air relaxed him and he sucked it in to his lungs. He enjoyed the sound of the traffic far below, and the hum of planes far above. He enjoyed the fact that he could hear no human voices up here; no people talking inanities, discussing the weather (which was pleasant this evening), and re-arranging the minutiae of their lives.
He thought about throwing a small piece of broken brick from the roof, or maybe a coin. He could imagine it hitting something below. But he reconsidered, as there were few people on the streets at this time of night.
He lit two cigarettes and laid them down upon a low brick wall. The man was standing amid the remains of a roof terrace that had been ripped up and conquered long before it had the chance to become overgrown. All that was left now were memories of the life that once grew here.
His thoughts were stuck on falling, that sucking hungry pull that mankind fights so hard against; the benevolent force which keeps us standing still on this ridiculous spinning flying rock of ours.
He’d read, just last week, of a woman who was killed by a man who fell through her skylight. If he wandered to the edge of his building, he wondered if he might see a skylight window below, someone who might be able to see him, or something to aim for.
He decided against looking. The wind was getting up and he hadn’t brought his shirt, he saw goose pimples on his arms and rubbed at them. The two cigarettes were about burnt out. He took these one by one, dropped each on the flagged floor and crushed them under his sandaled foot.
Then he headed back inside and down the short flight of stairs to his apartment; remembering, of course, to shut the fire door behind him.
“One more, before bed,” he said, passing into the lounge and moving towards the drinks cabinet.
He treated himself to a large one, an expensive one. With two ice cubes.

Monday, 19 May 2008

A dream I had last night…

“I’m looking at a scene. A quiet scene. Everything is quiet.
It’s a hotel lobby and my view is trained on the closed lift doors. These doors take up the centre of the lobby.
I guess it must be early in the morning. A night porter shuffles bags and a trolley. The man on the reception desk is almost drifting off to sleep, yet the lighting is not subdued. People may come and go all night. That’s their prerogative.
My position is filmic. I am like the camera, the floating ghost, observing the scene passively. My view rotates, eight feet above the ground.
A couple enters the building through revolving doors. I feel like I am in an elegant hotel - perhaps in Paris or London in the 1950s. The couple laugh between each other. The man holds his woman very close to him. They wear clothes (overcoats) to protect them from the wind and rain, yet they appear dry. It will not be raining now, perhaps it threatened earlier?
Nobody in the scene has noticed the lift’s arrow is counting down the floors to Ground, but I am somewhat aware.
‘Bing’ - the bell signifies the lift’s arrival and the doors slide open. A man in a trench-coat steps from the lift. His eyes are wild, he carries a shotgun which he is pumping.
Nobody reacts quickly to the situation. I hear the first shot fired and my position moves from observation to action. I swoop into the body of the young male in that happy couple, the man with the raincoat. And I feel the shotgun blast hitting me from just a few feet away.
Perhaps it is the extraordinary surprise of being thrown into the action so suddenly, but I seem to feel the huge force of the explosion, the heat and the pain (at least some of it).
Slammed hard into my chest, I am physically moved by the blast and I see the ceiling of the lobby thrown into view.
Time passes now in slow motion, I think it has done ever since the first shot was fired.
I’m soaring on a cushion of air and I am aware of the woman who accompanies me (she is my young wife) and can tell that her mouth is hanging open, in anticipation of the fall.
Confusion reigns, for her. Which noise, which impact came first?
As my head crashes headlong into the clean marble floor, my point of view switches to the night-porter and I am feeling the blast smashing into my chest yet again.
In all I am shot three times. The animosity then fades as darkness seduces.”