Friday, 19 February 2010

Samantha and Selby

Pritchard Selby? Why can’t I remember this name from before?

“No. Nothing. What does he do again? Degree, uni? Taste in music?”

“Data entry clerk: in limbo. Economics, Durham. Early punk-rock mainly, New York Dolls and Sex Pistols, but recently into Black Eyed Peas and wearing a pink floppy beanie for want of eclecticism and pussy. Went out with Shannon Taylor in Year Eleven. He’s looking for a path into writing, and now me apparently”.
I laugh a small laugh:
“That path’s pretty crowded.”
“Which one?”
“Both”. I get a nasty kick in the shin. “And give him a break about the headwear: it is winter after all." Inside, I’m thinking
wanker. "And stop being so crude, it's so unattractive in a woman”. Which I mean.

The tube pulls in, and as the driver breaks, the metal of the underground screams fire and rape just as my grandfather’s watch - permanently buckled or tattooed around my wrist - ticks past another hour, and daylight emerges at the end of another tunnel. “Where are we headed then,” I ask, wanting to either walk or snack in silence, “Marco’s?”
“Why? You hate coffee and capitalism!”
“I want a slice of coffee-cake and an orange juice.”
Nothing beats fresh orange juice.
“Fag”, Samantha mock-laughs, lighting her first cigarette of the evening, a tiny burning in London. The twentieth hour of the first day in the twenty-fifth year of my life is colourless. Then she’s kissing me on the cheek - a sincere “Happy Birthday Fred” - and maybe, for a few seconds, her unsarcastic smile plugs me in, and I’m ready as a brimful kettle on an English Christmas Day.

Soon we’re indoors, God-forbid, beside a pram of hysterical newborn twins. There are suited men and women on work calls and a familiar or unfamiliar - I don’t know - black cleaner mops up a puddle of frappachino and, from me, warmth departs again. I have no direction, nor hope for anything other than a hope. If I try hard enough, I can picture them together, Samantha and Selby -
Why can’t I remember this name from before? - fucking one another drunkenly. Their predictable shadows, like pornography, have been witnessed before. I am no boy, these are no longer cruel thoughts. I am locked-in, an anonymous Jean-Dominique Bauby - a ridiculous analogy - and the door to my stomach and its lame butterflies is black and takes inventiveness to open.

I swallow the last of my prescription, drink up and make for the fire exit (there is a young couple at the entrance demonstrating love). "Meeting the boys in an hour." Then I say thank you to Samantha for a lovely afternoon and because I described it as lovely the look in her face says
I know you're lying you fucking liar. Meanwhile, in an aquarium somewhere, a five-year-old me is thumping a shark’s window, whistling, starting an earthquake.

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