UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION - 01/2011
She picks him up between the half price tangerines and the farmers
They walk back to hers in the dark.
She struggles with the key in her stair door. Joint clamped in her mouth, she shoves until it gives. Shadows dance across her red hair. The stairwell echoes with the click of her heels. He wonders if she's ever murdered anyone. She looks like she could. She leaves her lights off in her flat, gestures at a sofa and he sits. She puts a record on, sixties psyche. He wonders how she knows about sixties psyche. She pours a glass of Vermouth and he takes a tin of lager out of his bag. Her living room smells of cigarettes and something else. Traffic purrs outside. Car headlights slide along the wall, across the TV then the carpet and disappear under the window.
‘You do this much?’ he asks.
‘Uh-huh,’ she exhales disinterestedly.
‘Always in Lidl like?’ he takes a long drink.
‘Sometimes Somerfield,’ she says, ‘once in Tesco.’
‘I like your honesty’ he nods solemnly.
‘I can’t be bothered lying,’ she pulls her top off, ‘it bores me senseless,’ she puts his hand on her tit, ‘perfection bores me, pretty leaves me cold, healthy people,’ she pants ‘revolt me.'
‘A-fuckin-men!’ he says as she rubs against his crotch.
‘I bet you’d stick it in anything’ she says.
‘What about a watermelon?’
‘Done it,’ he strokes her nipple, puts a hand round her neck.
‘A slab of raw steak?’
‘Crap friction, an’ it fuckin’ stinks.’
She grabs at his button, undoes his fly.
‘A dog?’ she whispers.
‘Depends on what breed’ he mutters and she tries to pull off his woolly hat but he yanks it back down. He wriggles out his trousers.
‘You’d fuck a dog?’
‘I’m fucking you aren’t I?’ he says and she goes to push her socks down and take her heels off but he stops her.
‘Leave them on,’ he says parting her legs, sticking her hand between them ‘would you fuck a dead man?’
‘I only fuck dead men’ she says as he pulls his knobbly knees up, straddles her face and sticks his cock in. Saliva drips off her chin and her eyes water, the record ends and she slaps at his thigh until he takes it out.
‘Would you’ she pants sitting up, ‘fuck a fish?’
‘Definitely,’ he says masturbating slowly. With the other hand he pulls her head back until her neck exposes like bone in the dim light. He leans in to suck on a nipple.
‘What, you'd catch it, kill it, fuck it, eat it, shit it out?’ he nods and sucks harder. She grabs his head back by the hair and his mouth lolls open still slick and wet and pink.
‘Why?’ he squints at her ‘you going to hold it against me?’ She shakes her head slowly and turns so they can see themselves in a long wall mirror.
‘No, I don’t wan to see that’ he says pulling her between himself and the reflection, ‘I’m a bit broken that way,’ he adds.
‘I only like broken men’ she replies.
‘Yeah, well, I really, really, really fucking hate my body,’ he says looking her in the eye.
‘I hate your body,’ she says and drags her nails down his back.
‘No, seriously, I'm disgusting.’
‘Fucking repulsive,’ she whispers, ‘tell me something filthy.’
‘I want to see you fucked by a horse,’ he groans throatily ‘a big black one.'
‘So stop fucking me’ he says but tries to grab her back as she rises up off the sofa.
‘No,’ she says, ‘I like to be disgusted, it turns me on’ she picks up a roach, lights it.
'Bad fucking manners' he admonishes, gesturing at his apologetic looking semi. It curves flaccidly to the right, still moist.
‘I skipped etiquette,’ she exhales and walks out the room.
‘No fucking shit’ he murmurs checking out her flat. It’s alright, clean-ish, shit TV, he could get a TV though, he could live there he reckons, he wonders how long the tube would take to work.
‘You live with anyone?’ he calls out.
‘Martin,’ she muffles and he can hear her rummaging through drawers.
‘He your boyfriend?’
‘Nope,’ she calls from the kitchen.
‘What are you doing in there?’
'Just a minute,' she calls. He eyes her stereo, his is a better make, he'd have to shift his in.
‘Alright’ she calls, he ambles through, jolts to a halt and blinks hard.
Their is a tank on top of her fridge. It has a catfish in it. The catfish has long whiskers, they unfurl like art deco spaghetti on the dirty glass. It lurks in the murky water.
‘Meet Martin,’ she says.
‘Why is Martin wearing lipstick and a blonde wig?'
‘Martin would like you to do him,’ she says, ‘so he’s made an effort.’
‘I’m not fucking that.’
‘I prefer the natural look,’ he shrugs looking at the wet synthetic blonde hair.
Martin opens and closes his big red mouth.
'You've hurt his feelings,' she says.
He begins to snigger. She does too. He catches his reflection in the window, his long neck, too long arms, too wide shoulders, pin head, long horse face. His face is so long it alarms small children, it alarms his Mother, it alarms security men. He’s never done a woman straight or sober, they too, when they wake up the next day are usually fucking alarmed. She doesn’t seem alarmed. Neither does Martin.
‘They steal cichlid eggs, eat them, then they leave their own in their nests and the cichlids incubate the catfish, hatch em out, they have 27,000 taste buds.’
‘What do you do again?’ he asks.
‘Anthropology,’ she says and lifts the catfish out its tank and strokes it’s mucous covered skin; he watches the gills open and close. Its long whiskers lay flapping across her pale arms. She slides the blonde wig off and the catfish looks too bald, like it’s been exposed out of drag. It’s red lips open and close and she lays it carefully back in the tank, washes her hands at the sink.
‘What do you make of this neck,’ he gestures at his long neck ‘and the pin head’ he demands aggressively, yanking the woolly hat off.
‘Preposterous,’ she says seriously and walks through to the living room.
Suddenly he feels lighter. He almost feels like fucking Martin just to be hospitable. He follows her through, lays down on the sofa next to her. He lights a cigarette and she takes it out his mouth and smokes it. They hold hands, listen to a record, watch the headlights slide along the wall.
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