Diary 14: Arrested Development

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The wheel’s come off the wagon. I come apart. That pretty much sums it up. My life.

The End.

Reader:            Hang on! Back up, Louis, you’ve some explaining to do. Give us the why?

Me:                  Why? Get lost, reporting is boring. I’m tired of it.

Reader:            Louis, if you disrespect me the way you treated Saucy Susan I’m not reading your blog anymore. Learn from your mistakes!

Me:                  Sorry. The New Year’s resolution bug is on me; I’m not in the mood. Plus, I’ve a New Years hangover. Ok, the truth I owe you. It’s my New Years resolution. Yesterday I tweeted it; my 2014 resolution. So, here goes. Let me back-track a little and find myself. But maybe I can’t, can’t find myself. Maybe I can’t reorder it. The alcoholic haze. I’ll try. See, here’s the thing, down and out is nothing, on the up and up is infinitely more detrimental.

Reader:            Louis, cop on and get back to normal please. Planet earth.

Me:                  Oh, ok….

 

Enough said. Enough preamble. Try this. But buckle up and fasten your seat-belt or stop me if it gets too heavy. Or if I get too horny.

 

So.

 

I’m in a bar. It’s a tattoo party. Miguel, one of the tattooists, is out of his tree, pissed. His tattoos are a mess.  Luckily those taking ink are also blotto. They don’t notice the childish scrawls working their way onto their skin. It’s a permanent mess. A psycho on the loose. In the morning, well, Miguel will be gone. €500 for a night’s havoc thank you very much.

 

‘They’re class tattoos Miguel. You’re a real artiste.’

 

I’m lying though my beer-goggle eyes. Miguel is putting the finishing touches to a bright green Christmas tree on the underbelly of a biker’s forearm.

 

‘One more Christmas light and its done’ Miguel says. ‘For me, its art – doing tattoos. It’s not work. It’s love.’

‘Love pays well’ I say. ‘I mean, that’s a lot of love you’re needling on folks’ bodies.’

 

I’m not going to pretend my thoughts are pure. I like Miguel only because I adore his sister, Mafalda, also a tattoo artist. Miguel and  Mafalda are the night’s attraction. Drunken people queue up and Miguel and Mafalda tattoo them. Regret is morning’s child. A still-birth.

 

Although I suspect most female tattooists are muff-munching dykes, Mafalda isn’t. How do I know, you ask? Well, earlier Mafalda met my hungry stare and smiled. So now I’m plotting a flight path across the room to Mafalda. To join the queue for her. Only there’s a problem. Tiago, a French frog intercepts me and some-why decides to tell me that he’s with her, with Mafalda. Oh, yeah?, my look asks. Yes, ya, his stare replies. I look him over, up and down, and smile into his vegetarian face as though he matters. He doesn’t. He’s not human or part-human at best. An anus. An asshole who’s stealing my ride.

 

‘I’m just admiring the view’ I say. ‘I didn’t know Mafalda was anybodies. Free love and stuff.’

‘No offence that I have her. She is very beautiful, non?’

 

I refuse to indulge him. The frog. Tiago. The asshole.

 

‘Long way from home? Paris?’ I say.

Oui. I drove down.  L’interior de France is cool.’

‘So is the interior of Wales.’

 

Not! Everyone knows Wales is a shit-pit full of ugly savages. Anyway, what I’m really thinking is why we’re even chatting, Tiago and I. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-social. It’s just I’d rather discuss a different subject of mutual interest such as a terminal illness he might have. It’s preferable to discussing Tiago’s joie de vivre.

 

‘I split up with my Italian bird and, well, here I am with Mafalda’ Tiago says.

 

Mafalda fans her ass on cue. Twerking. There she is, bent over some guy’s back, tattooing, what? I don’t know. I’m not looking at her art-work. God’s handiwork is distracting me: Mafalda’s glorious ass. It’s more sculpted than her face and should be on her passport photo. Its hard to replicate and easy to ID. Few have such spherical perfection in their rear. Although Mafalda is spoken for, as a token gesture, I allow her tattoo my foot.

 

9.81ms2 is the message.

 

Mafalda doesn’t give a shit why I want numbers. She grips my foot and pummels it with an electric needle. She catches me off guard as the drill bites into flesh and gnaws on my bone. Aaagh. Focus. Breathe. Visualise. I stare at Mafalda’s face and relax into the pain. Aaagh. Sweating. I will suffer for you Mafalda. Thank you. I think of Jesus on the cross and say, thank you. I think of Mr von Sacher-Masoch and say, thank you. And nobody wipes the sweat from my brow. Aaaaagh. How exquisite, the pain, Mafalda’s touch, leaving marks, branding me. Aaagh. Mafalda speaks. Steady she mutters into my ear. Steady. Obey, Louis, I urge myself. And I steady for her. Like a steady stallion. Trojan me. Steady boy. Steady.

 

‘Why 9.81ms2?’ Mafalda asks.

 

She asks but I know she doesn’t really care. She’s too focused on stitching numbers onto me. Making art, on me, of me.

 

‘9.81ms2. It’s all that keeps me grounded’ I whisper into her ear.

 

Gravity.

 

Know what she replies?

 

‘Death sees to us all. It is all that sees. Death.’

 

It’s what Mafalda says. Honestly. I know it’s weird and I catch a weird look in her eye before she returns her gaze to my precious foot.

 

‘That’s heavy philosophy’ I say.

‘My dad said it.’

‘He sounds wise.’

‘He’s dead. He wanted a tattoo but was afraid of needles so I tattooed him dead.’

‘That’s cool.’

 

I’m trying to get intimate; to share secrets. I smile a knowing smile as sweat rolls down my face. Still, the situation isn’t serious. Nothing can happen. Nothing does. I go home and wank off to the sound of Mafalda. Steady tiger. Steady.

 

Thank you Mafalda. Aaagh. Thank you for steadying me, stenciling me. Until death. https://vine.co/v/hL51BYwzqgP

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Diary 15: The Other Half

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It blinds. The light. Delight.

 

Look up, look down.

 

Check. Check to see if it’s real.

 

Look up, look down. I squint again.

 

Check. It’s real. The sun is. Sunshine in winter.

 

I dilute it down and look at the sea. Again I squint; the glint of the sun, reflecting. Now, I reflect. On me.

 

Note to self: buy sunglasses. My Christmas present.

 

I’m strolling the beach, my feet in the water. I kick it, the water. It’s real and wet. I laugh. It’s January 2014.

 

Check. Dilute it down; the voice in my head. The what, the where.

 

Oh, yes. That. Manners. I promised didn’t I? To introduce the virginal new me. See, it’s all about change. I’ve turned a corner, rolled the dice, and left the old world behind.

 

I do as I like. So then live where you like and like where you live. I do, thank you very much. Ireland had me by the throat, the balls too, so I upped and left to reinvention city.

 

And then…

 

Someday and somewhere else life begins anew and a new dawn too. On that day I can’t get up. I’m late. First day of being me and I sleep in. I’m wrapped up in a foreign world, dreaming of a beach in a distant land and the sound of gentle surf.

 

And then…

 

I wake up in my penthouse. And its real! Check. From my seafront bed I can see the sea and hear the surf. I squint my morning eyes through the sunlight and notice palm trees out the window. They barely stir; they’re deferential to me, to everything. And it’s winter. Although winter is mild, the storm in days past being an exception.

 

I’ve arrived. Check.

 

Overnight, there’s freedom to arise; to loaf. I can’t get out of bed. Not even for €100k. Not even when an exultant seagull mewls from the balcony. Paradise has its way. Days are largely white, bright and sunny. Tan follows. Tanfastic!

 

I nip it in the bud and install a system. Not exactly to get up with the sun but to be vertical by 9. Nine becomes 10. And 10 isn’t strictly so. Who’s counting?

 

I read up on writers’ routines. Everyone is different and I’m no different. I conspire to making my new trick just that: my very own. I make plans. I decide that when the writing phase begins, I’ll write a 1,000 words a day five days a week and, once done, it’ll be ok to ponder the remaining months (aka ‘dossing’). Discounting time spent interviewing Jeff (aka ‘hanging’) I figure that I’ll have a first draft in 6 months, easily making the 9 month deadline. Of course, this is the theory and, of course, the plan only becomes operational when the writing phase begins.

 

Meantime, I set out my stall on Facebook, posting my New Year’s resolution:

 

‘… to celebrate beach-barbecued lobster on the beach in Cape Verde before the end of the year. Culinary tips welcome.’

 

It’s good to have a target. Kind strangers email me practical tips about how to hold a lobster and tackle it onto the flames.

 

Que vadis?

 

Where am I? The land of little people; not Lilliput but Portugal.

 

_______ to be precise, a fishing town half an hour from Lisbon. After cutting a line through miles of woodland, one arrives at a hilltop where a windy road rolls down to the ocean.

 

I’m in the habit of living at land’s end, on seashores.

 

Portugal is asleep. Nothing much happens. The national hobby is waiting, hanging around. People lie about hoping that somebody will get off their ass and entertain them. Maybe they will….

 

Amanha.

 

Tomorrow is always tomorrow. Something might happen then. Tomorrow.

 

Though the country is at an economic stand, unemployment rife, the Portuguese remain stubbornly ineffectual. And opinionless. I almost miss being hated. Only the most cursory of attempts are made to lend an impression of working. Lilliputian men, tiny though tidy, with weathered skin and flat caps, loiter, sitting on the promenade wall, waiting and willing for something to happen. It never does. And so they stroll the beach or catch fish, the town’s restaurants sizzling the fresh catch on barbecued coals street-side. Pisciculture is on my tongue, literally. It’s always fish I’m eating. At the weekend it’s fashionable for rich Lisboans to visit and dine.

 

Eating fish and sitting quietly: that’s me. The peace of it all, things standing still: outdoor kitchens, tables, chairs, plates and glasses. Nothing shifts. Everything taking a breather. The stillness. Nothing moving. People neither.

 

The Portuguese are like lizards, only emerging in the sunshine. They’re also, like me, a skeletal people, finding it difficult to put on weight. Women’s limbs are light and not hammy. I spy a girl from behind – great ass and legs – then, once up close, oops, she’s a granny. In the dark, who cares?

 

From my apartment the winter sunlight glitters off the sea. It invigorates, the brightness does. By the time I’ve brewed a cup of tea, the sardine fisherman, alone in their wooden boats, are clocking off, dribbling back to port, their morning catch making lunches in Lisbon. By late afternoon, when the sea has become a gun-grey colour, the larger fishing boats head out to deep water until they become little specks on the horizon. The trailing seagulls eventually give up and return home.

 

Kids surf near-flat waves. Amateur photographers gather about willing the surfers to ‘do something cool’. Idle men flock to the seafront to beat samba drums in preparation for Carnival.

 

The town, _______, is trying to grow, to fight its way back from the sea. From future tsunamis. From the recent storm. Unmanned building sites are dotted around the town’s perimeter, concrete jungles on the rise.

 

Life is quiet, the town small, and the people intimate. As I walk Jeff’s life around inside my head, I feel the source of attention as locals wonder if I’m not crazy then what business I might have. They stare, wondering. Do I tell them I’m the new President of me? In a way I wonder about me too. You see, I’m fascinated by my possibilities, of being a blank page, of starting afresh, of inventing, reinventing, myself. But just as I’m about to morph into somebody new I haven’t quite decided who to be.

 

2014 Resolutions?

 

What will define me? A little bit of this, a little bit of that and, hey presto, a new life? Though I’m unsure of what course to steer, I make a conscious choice: now that there’s no more struggling with myself I decide to be an appreciably nicer person. Charming even, yes, to you, my reader, my only mate.

 

All the same, out goes the rule book; there are no corridors to live between. I’m going to become the Adventure Man I read about.

 

Still, I’m at a crossroads; who to impersonate – I’m imagining outfits, what to wear? Before leaving Ireland I ditched all my suits and out went 25 work shirts and 30 ties. Everything gone with the tide. My new life is in the future. Now. Here. I’m back at ground zero: rebirth. To go semi-formal or casual, that is the question. Tough choices. Eventually I opt for red sneakers, jeans and cardigan. Yes, cardigan, the writer’s choice of attire – just like a dowdy college professor. A bohemian Noddy.

 

I’m still cool, albeit in a less formal way. I mean, I wear skate-shoes. Always. Ok, I must remember you’re a stickler for facts? Ok, right now, as I pen this, I’m in my slippers but I’m talking about when I go outside. Then the world can admire me.

 

Check mate.

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Diary 16: Point of No Return

Bitstrip - Diary 16

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I thought I went home.

But I didn’t.

At least, not for a week.

 

It’s New Year’s eve and I’m in Lisbon; not _______. Did I forget to tell you that? Now you know. Cities are for winter. Anyway, here I am, in Lisbon and not in Smallville.

 

Got it?

 

The days are a blur, days of daze. I’m going nowhere so I decide to go somewhere. I rock up at Miguel and Mafalda’s tattoo parlor. I tell the receptionist I’d like another tattoo, thank you very much. Only who comes out from a back office to tattoo me? Mafalda’s lover, Tiago. Unbelievable! Tattooists flock and it seems the French frog is also one. Tiago knows I’ve come for Mafalda. He says she’s not in and that he’ll gladly stencil me. He plays my friend but takes out big needles.

 

He’ll show me.

I’ll show him.

I’ll take the pain.

 

‘Where you want tattoo?’ he asks.

‘Know what Tiago, I’ll actually have two.’

‘Ok, where else?’

‘Well, lets see!’

 

We begin drinking at two in the afternoon, Tiago and I, whiskey and beer. When Mafalda tattooed my foot I swore I’d never do it again. Now my shoulder stings and my head pounds. The alcohol is a medical necessity. An insect is being stenciled onto my arm and another one is permanently etching its way onto my freshly shaven skull.

 

Yes, my skull is being tattooed.

 

First blood then ink runs out my pores. I’m bleeding blood and ink all at once, from head and shoulder. I press a cold beer to my violated flesh. I feel a pulse, a heartbeat, on my shoulder. Tattooing the underarm almost makes me cry. The skin is tender. The needles dig.

 

My head: well that feels like I’ve volunteered for brain surgery without an anesthetic as thousands of drill-bits pound into my shrinking brain. Now look who’s the boss Tiago’s eyes say as he fixes me a look. I’m weak but just about last.

Fuck him.

 

Days of late, oh I already said that didn’t I, that thing about daze?

But bear with me.

This might go somewhere.

 

After the tattoos and I’m drunk and late. Or late because I’m drunk.

 

I’m late for a New Year’s party. I met someone, somewhere. An invitation is in my pocket. From Someone to be Somewhere. Into the GPS the address goes. I drive though I’m in no state to. It’s a crate of Mini-Sagres I’m guzzling, a fresh beer bottle in my hand every few minutes and the old ones tossed out the window, smashing on the road. Whoopie, the lawlessness.

 

Drink-driving is ok in Portugal. Apparently, bottles of Mini-Sagres are designed for drink-driving: drink one every hour and you can drive non-stop while hovering just below the legal limit. Apparently, your body assimilates the alcohol as you go. Apparently. But apparently I’m too sozzled to figure out what is and isn’t apparent.

 

I could be anywhere. Apparently, I am.

 

The GPS lady has a go at me. She bawls me out, the lecturing cow. Turn left. At the next intersection turn left. Turn left. I said, turn….

 

‘Fuck you bitch, we’re going right’ I shout. ‘Get a real job, loser.’

 

Around and around the roundabout we go, she pulling one way, me the other. Turn left, turn left. Fuck off, bitch. And around and round we go.

 

We’re speaking different languages, the lady and I. I toss the GPS out the window and the bitch lands on her ass. That shut her up. Now I have control. But I’m still lost and getting real dizzy going around and round a roundabout.

 

‘Hey taxi, stop!’

 

I almost crash into him. He pulls up. I explain the problem and pay him to drive in front of me and lead the way. Hey presto and I arrive Somewhere and walk into a restaurant to applause.

 

They know nothing about my tattoos, now they do. One or two nobodies, who are my new Somebody friends, pat my bald pate. My crown is smooth like a baby’s bum. They shrink away as they get ink or blood on their hand. Seems I left my skin back at the tattooists. The arm of my tee-shirt soaks up the concoction. I dab a napkin to my head. Bloody. My eyes bulge. Fiercely.

 

‘I’m out. Give me a cold one’ I say.

 

Someone hands me a new beer.

 

‘Thanks’ I say.  ‘This is some Somewhere to be!’

 

I hold it to my head, the bottle, to where the damage is. The world in my brain needs cooling. I douse beer on a sleeve so I can pull apart the fresh tattoo scab from my tee-shirt.

 

I’m babbling.

To them.

To you.

Bear with me.

This might go somewhere.

 

‘Does it burn?’ a girl asks.

‘What?’

‘Your head, silly.’

 

I think she’s kind of cute, this Girl Thing, but then I think further, for a minute or so, or at least it seems that long, and then I think, what is this, a confessional?

 

‘Wow, the rush. A lesson learned’ I say.

‘It never is. You’ll always go back for more!’

‘Not me’ I say. ‘I fly away, like a bird. Christmas Eve and vamoose! Whoosh! And out of a spot. A hole. Now I’m here, my beer and me. And know what? I’m more gone from myself than ever before. Naked man; yes I am, beneath these clothes. The beginning. Again. Prehistoric me. But without history!’

 

The Girl Thing smiles in understanding. At least that’s what I decide her tight smile means.

 

‘It’s a choice to be different. Freedom is cool’ she says. ‘Louis, right? Have another beer ‘cos I think you might be fun for a while. Hey, fancy a little something else?’

 

The minx, she needles me. Me and drugs? Outraged, I stall a moment to fix her a look. My looks name? Cannibalism, after first burning her at the stake. Life gives me all the highs I need, bitch. I discharge a cynical smile and let her have it: I can stand on my own two feet. My look says it although my body wobbles. She gets it, my message. I think. We’re back to talking. Or at least, someone is yapping. I think it’s my new friend, Mr. Someone, who invited me Somewhere although I don’t have a clue who he is or indeed where I am. Anyway, we laugh, Mr. Someone and I, as the Girl Thing falls hush, observing.

 

‘Three’s enough’ I say. ‘Tattoos I mean! Not us three if you know what I mean.’

‘I don’t’ she says.

 

The Girl Thing pipes in if only to make the point that she’s not meat that can’t speak. She smiles again or winces. Mad, sad or bad? Fucked if I care.

 

‘You know what..?’ I say if only to interrupt my thoughts. ‘Oh, forget it, I’ve forgotten what I was trying to remember to say.’

‘No, go on’ she encourages. ‘Tell me the what.’

 

Everyone loves the what. But there’s none. Really. I have that habit, of needing to be heard. Maybe it explains this blog. But then there’s no what. No point. And that’s the point. What’s the point anyway I think! See, there I go again; it’s the pseudo-cryptic bull-shitologist in me. I reverse out of myself and make good, trading on my looks and showing my teeth. Ching! We chink beers. Only mine is empty. It rings hollow. No ching. The Girl Thing hands me another. I look at it. Who are you, I ask the bottle. She nudges me.

 

‘Go on. Live!’

 

I shift the look I was giving the beer to her – who are you? Wowa, ease up, Louis!

 

‘You only die once! Happy New Year’ I say.

‘Most people avoid pain.’

 

What’s she on about? I’m done playing with, with, with the Girl Thing, whoever. Oh but, ah, its the tattoos? Tattoos + pain = why? Why on earth?

 

‘You mean the self-preservation instinct? Like, why we avoid pain, like?’ I ask.

‘Conservation instinct!’ she says.

‘Conservation? Isn’t that for wildlife and stuff?’

‘And stuff? We too are animals! Louis, you always burn it up this hard?’

‘You know what, you…you…you’

‘Vanessa.’

‘Van-essa, you know what…like, what what. Like, really what what! I’m ashamed of my morals, that I have them, of having any. They embarrass me!’

‘What stands in your way?’ she asks.

‘I do!’

‘Oh, have a touch of faith.’

‘Faith is only for sinners!’

 

My back is up. She notices and reads the play.

 

‘An Irish Catholic upbringing?’ she says.

 

Spoken like so and I find myself sulking back into my childhood for which I hold unresolved sympathies. Humpf! An easy analysis: the evolution of man’s retardation is due to forever hiding behind his portrait as the boy with a wiener. Excalibur!

 

No matter.

No matter.

 

Back to where we were.

 

Where were we?

 

She’s talking; the Girl Thing is.

 

‘A gentleman never regrets! They’re self-inflicted, man-made, your morals are.’

‘Morality? A human invention – true. But still, Pen…Pen..Pen-el-e’

‘Van-essa!’

‘Vanessa, morality is my crime. My morals, they stop me doing things, things I like. I mean, things I think I want.’

‘Like?’

‘Ya, things I think I’d like. Oh like, what like, like? That would be telling! And so I drink to tell those things to fuck off. Until breakfast. Then, in the morning, oh… the night, last night, in the dark. The shame is restored and the angel is back on my shoulder, the nerd, policing my daylight hours until nightfall. Then, once again, its the devil driving me. The detail is in the darkness. Over and over, the same cycle recycled. Virgin, killer, virgin, killer.’

‘Some people got a wish that you just can’t kill… so let it kill you. Maybe it’s the way!’

‘Urges. Dying for them? Or killing? I suppose its better to die for something than nothing. But what kind of things?’

‘Everyone is different Louis. But chill. Things have a way of becoming clear on their own.’

 

Who is she? Pen… Van…Whoever. The Girl Thing. I have no answer – to her statement, to who she is. I don’t care to ask her name. Again. She humpfs when I do. And that reminds me of what I’m hiding from. Humpfing does. Apparently. Instead, I start over. I dive in and make a new entrée.

 

‘You look nice’ I say. ‘You…’

‘Vanessa!’

‘I know, I know. I’m just verbalizing…Van-essa.’

‘Looks can deceive’ she says.

‘Still.’

‘Still?’ she asks.

‘Ya. Still. I like ending things that way. With still. Stillness….Hey, you look like the colour blue sponsored you.’

‘I could live in the clouds’ she says.

 

I’m nodding, agreeing with her. I failed to mention the obvious. You see, the Girl Thing, Vanessa, she’s decked out in blue, head-to-toe.

 

‘You could be a mermaid in the sea’ I say. ‘Or an extra in Avatar!’

‘You think I should colour it?’

 

She’s on about her hair. She’s touching it.

‘A bit of blue wouldn’t go astray’ I say.

 

She mentions something about hair dye being bad for animals, how they go about testing it or something. It limits her blueness. It gets her down; being unable to have blue hair. I try to relate, to console. I tell her I love writing in blue ink and only ever swim in blue water. She gives me a look that I can’t interpret. I bet she thinks I’m a phony want-to-be-blue-sort-of-person or some cod.

 

Anyway.

 

I give up listening and wonder how she got her tan. In winter. I reckon she’s the type who doesn’t have tan lines. I’d ask if I could be bothered.

 

She smiles. I don’t know why. Chemical attraction? A blue gene thing? Or maybe it’s because I’m staring. Blankly. She shakes her frock at me. The blue distracts; stops me from spacing out. It looks like she took a few days to parade herself in public. She’s doll-like: blue dress, matching shoes and then there’s the blue eyeliner and nails. And not forgetting the tan although that isn’t blue. Yet it distracts, attracts, the tan does.

 

I spot a bandage stuck to the underside of her left wrist – from a watch-strap or a razor? She eyes my discovery, smirks, and shrugs defiantly.

 

‘What’s wrong?’ the blue Girl Thing asks.

‘Beauty in Ireland is always deformed’ I say.

‘You’ve no woman?’

‘No, but I have hope!’

‘All alone, in Portugal, for Christmas?’

‘I lone it a lot. I’m Irish. I must have my island.’

‘You’re strange .. but interesting.’

‘Rape is strange’ I say.

 

I say it because I shouldn’t. Only it doesn’t work. She’s unafraid. She stares; holds my eye and adds flames to my fire.

 

‘Rape can be a term of endearment… if the girl half wants it’ she says.

 

She smiles like a slave who doesn’t understand their master. Dutifully. With a nudge she parks herself beside me. Get physical? Sure, a guy needs tail only I ain’t buying. Not her. No offence to blue but petite blonde – forget it. I never was into straw [1]. Or into midgets for that matter. And she keeps touching it, her blonde hair. She’s up against me now, like a cat, a blue one. I feel bullied. She persists feigning interest in me so I jingle some coins in my pocket, just because.

 

Ok, I confess, I’m scared what she might be into. I imagine she’d like to put plastic between us and it gets me thinking what it takes to die of asphyxiation?

 

Sex is usually what to do when there’s nothing left to say only she wants it too bad. She’s sending out the wrong message: desperation. And she’s running on empty without a life-story. Momentary distraction is her gig. Flirtation. Ordinarily I’m down with that – being a bridge between nothingness – but not now. I wouldn’t feel right milking her. Not in this mood. There’s time yet. I can be cheap later on. Now I need mystery.

 

‘So why the tats?’

‘Because. Just because’ I say.

‘Because, the tattoos, what?’

‘The fizzle’ I decide.  ‘It’s like being a kid – the kick you get from sherbet or the effervescent fizz from a vitamin C tablet.’

‘You really are a baby.’

 

The Blue Girl Thing is trying to tease us to intimacy as she nudges me in the ribs once again.

 

‘I like fizzy water if that’s what you mean. Bubbly water makes me feel like I’m getting value from rainwater. It went through a process to get the bubbles. Manufactured. Then I feel ok paying for the air squeezed into water. Weird, huh!’

‘You sure you ok?’ she asks.

‘Too right. Onwards and upwards. It’s maturing I am, on to the next rush of bubbles.’

‘The eternal learner driver’ she says. ‘Ever consider giving back more than you take?’

 

I don’t know what she means but there’s conviction in her. How to respond in the face of belief? A spanking or gissum on her face or death by asphyxiation? I’d say she’s up for two of the three.

 

I nod sagely and throw her eyes. Because. Just because I can. Because I’ve two spare. Anyway, I’m too manic to get romantic. And anyway, I’m kind of nostalgically reminiscing about girls with spray-on suntan from back home. The leggy kind with saggy bums.

 

And anyway, in a twisted irony my sick urge tonight is to keep my cock clean. It will only be used to funnel out the guzzle. Tonight.

 

It’s getting near that time when I should take a closer look at myself. But not yet. There’s no mirror in sight, so I push all notions of being Howard Roark from my mind. For now.

 

Anyway, there’s time to change. I’m coaxing myself to complacency. New Years Resolutions blah dee blah. Fuck that, there’s time. It’s early: early night; a far cry from early morning. Curtains are a way off. What’s more, I don’t feel human tonight. I’m charged. Gabble away then lad.

So on I gabble.

Gobble.

And guzzle.

Sssshhh. I spray the plants.

Fertilizing.

 

More empty words follow each and every empty beer. Then. Some-why I make an excuse to move on. Before leaving, she, the blue Girl Thing, Ben, Van…?, whoever, slips me a business card saying it’s an old one and mentions something about setting up on her own or some shit.

 

‘Call me sometime’ she says.

‘Sure. Sometime. I’m a sometime kind of guy.’

 

I say it solemnly, kind of, or cynically, maybe, while giving her the very same smile I gave when she first asked if I needed a little something extra. Then I’ll be calling her. Never.

Fucking vegetarians!

 

Feo carajo! Verbalise that’ she says to my back, the blue Girl Thing does.

 

It leaves me thinking that I must remember NOT to learn Portuguese lest all mystery disappear. I hate it when I can read life.

 

The night, it gets faster and faster as I feed the madness. Things speed up. Blur too. I don’t know how I got here. Whosh. The GPS lady? Hardly, she’s screaming at stray badgers from a ditch. Turn left, turn left, at the next junction turn….

 

I must have teleported. Everything flashes by. Then, whosh, and it’s gone, I am. The ‘Speed Kills’ signs are hazy. I’m racing fast. I drive as though I’m in a computer game and on my last life. One glitch and I’m gone. Really. I’m doing 180. Life in the fast lane. One slip up is all it takes.

 

Amen.

 

Then.

 

Suddenly, I’m at a trance party in the woods by Cascais. Tundra I thought one said. But no, its thunder. Thunder: yes, I’m verbalizing it, for me. It’s pissing down. Raining by the bucket load. Then sunrise. Christ! Yes Sirry, you’ve come round fast. Another year. Another life.

 

Someone

Somewhere

Sometime

 

Humpf!

 

It’s the story of my life.

 

And when it all collides it’ll come together. And make sense.

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[1] Perhaps Susan left me psychologically disturbed. Ok, maybe it’s why I’m freaked out by the Girl Thing.

Diary 17: “Lunicidal” – OD to 21

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[Puzzled how I might set-down Jeff’s life-story, I introduce the pop-star at His 21st birthday when an OD brought on a heart-attack and His ex-girlfriend oblivious.]

I

 

And maybe its incidental, or not,

and maybe its beside the point, so what,

maybe you should know, your a, b, c.

 

(a)

 

Is the what.

 

Its over.

Over

Everything is.

You follow?

Over.

 

She registers little

Listening she’s not.

‘Not now’ she mouths.

Later, she thinks

Distress.

 

Nothing fits!

 

II

 

And my pupils dilated.

And she on my lap.

Who seconds earlier

was on my tongue.

 

A tongue paralysised.

Unable to speak.

Or name the hate.

Yes.

I can’t.

 

 

III

 

And yes,

I’ve been here before.

Playing at not playing.

Playing beauties.

Playing unboring.

As though for real.

 

As if.

And the words don’t come.

As if.

So instead, a nod.

 

Yes.

Bowed head.

Yes ‘twill do.

Stall the vacancy.

Girls tut tut.

 

IV

 

And she kisses me briefly,

all lip and gloss,

and pulls back to assess,

her majesty.

 

The lot.

Indifferent.

Us both.

 

Yes

she’s done good,

yes, she thinks

My eyes want more,

She thinks, if she can,

And whispers

 

‘The trouble with you …’

 

V

 

Proposals, propositions.

Positives too.

Only I can’t reply.

So smile I do.

To put us behind us.

 

Blind.

 

Doing it, doing it.

Carrying us on.

Over and over,

And under too.

Crooked and drunk.

More or less.

 

More not enough.

Til now.

 

‘A drink?’

 

VI

 

A shock of reality.

Coping is hoping,

for freshness and new.

There being none,

We’ll do.

 

She catches that look.

And stops drinking me up.

 

Yes.

 

‘Back in a minute.’

 

Yes

 

We’re onto point…

 

(b)

 

VII

 

And all grown up.

Full of non-serious stuff.

The shackles are off,

this coming of age.

 

My heart in my mouth.

Yes

Something the matter.

Yes

I’m about to die.

Yes

Nobody knows.

 

Yes

Over it is.

Yes

Over

 

Yes

I am.

Yes.

Too much happened.

Living too fast.

 

‘Everything ok?’

 

VIII

 

And she’s back.

And she’s on me.

And don’t it feel good?

Ok?

 

And I can’t say it

Or nothing.

So don’t.

And stay put.

 

Yes.

Ok.

Nodding, she thinks.

Fine that I am.

 

Though I’m not.

I’m bad.

 

I kick the daze,

if only to kick,

and step to it,

marching two feet.

But feel ten foot under,

as horizontal I’m put.

 

IX

 

Unwinding.

Unfolding.

The dizziness too.

 

‘Ah!’ she cries.

Help.

Ah, and a little shriek more. Ahh.

Before she’s back to herself.

 

Ignoring.

 

That it’s…

Over.

Over.

I’m about to be under,

the End.

 

But wait,

she’s off her perch.

Tripped, by concern?

Or misunderstanding?

 

X

 

Yes

We’re back, to desire?

Yes

She’s swimming on me.

On the floor.

Today’s menu,

Lapping me up.

 

‘Get up!’

 

Do I like it?

Yes,

my look says.

There’s pulling and yanking.

 

But she leaves me be.

Floored.

As I look square,

She taking in her glass.

 

‘The flute makes me sing.’

 

XI

 

Yes

And she’s off,

Singing.

Auditioning.

And do I wish she’d stop?

 

Yes

The reality dawning.

Faces I’ll never see.

And I’m upset.

 

Yes,

We’ve come to a point …

 

(c)

 

It’s the trouble with me…

 

And her flute crashes to the ground.

As she bends over.

Claiming:

 

‘Trying to be interesting!’

 

XII

 

Yes

Its what she says.

Laughing as she does.

 

And although I can’t love,

I’m looking at the ceiling,

seeing only my heart.

 

Hearing the pumping,

the din no matter.

And as I think,

the last sign of life

is the loudest cry.

 

Yes

Its the end.

And how it looks.

Smeared in shame.

The blame on me.

 

And my legs not under me.

Colours gone black,

And the taste of water,

And the smell of air,

And this paradise,

All going.

 

One but gone.

 

XIII

 

Yes.

Going

About to be gone.

And I’m frightened.

Feeling alone.

Imagining me stiff.

 

This image of me.

Getting what I want.

And wanting mistakes.

Punished for fun.

No harm intended.

 

Christ have mercy.

Yes, please do.

 

I want to apologise.

To have the forgiveness.

Asking to get.

Is the way of me.

 

Yes.

To anyone I wronged.

Yes.

To her too.

 

But

There isn’t the time.

For all the sorrys.

Destruction eruption.

The proof is coming.

A defibrillator too.

 

But ‘D’ is for death …

 

(d)

 

XIV

 

Yes

In the hospital

it’s needles I’m eating,

And just deserts too.

 

Reality injected.

The selfish world clear.

Into the greedy me,

the order of things.

 

And with all I have.

Can’t I just be mine?

It’s the pill I swallow

The get-over-me pill.

 

Just as its over.

I am.

 

 

XV

 

And someone is calling it.

Not my name.

But over and over.

Over is speaking.

 

193 beats per minute

Over

Anaphylactic shock

Over

Premature annihilation

Over

Departing myself

Over

And skipping my future.

Over

And unentitled to me.

Over

 

Then

Shock of all shock

Electric too.

Over and out?

No.

Not yet.

 

Work to be done.

 

The world isn’t over.

As consciousness comes.

Heavy eyes looking,

Questions get asking.

Who would I be,

If I could be again.

 

Unsunk I’m promising,

A civvie I’ll be.

Rolled into me,

I get to spelling.

Memories of life.

Song and alphabet too.

 

XVI

 

Cooked, your cooking,

You live as long as you do.

A to Z.

Only then are you done.

 

Promises, promises.

And stable they say.

I’m back on my bike.

And onwards I go.

 

Unfinished above,

I’m digging below.

The earth, air and all.

Looking back at me.

 

The world the same,

But innocence is lost.

And I wonder what it means,

To be over but not out.

 

Respect the remainder.

The rest of me.

 

Time to decide,

The habit I’ll be.

And remember my learning.

Yes,

Boring is brave;

Fun is for fruits.

Or forgive and forget?

 

And before you know it,

before is back in front of me.

Coked out of my tree.

Content with my a, b, c, d.

 

So pass me an E.

 

(e)

 

It’s the trouble with me.

My story starting over.

Again and again.

Over and over.

Til over and out.

 

XVII

 

(f)

 

Is for fuck it.

I’m keeping my spots.

Playing for keeps.

 

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Diary 21: Abstract Bull

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A strange development. On the 3rd and 9th January, comments were posted in Diary 13 by someone calling themselves “Choir Girl USA” [1]. It’s a cumbersome name so lets just call Her “Q”. Ok?

 

There followed a telephone call with Q. Yes, your humble narrator went covert and a little off-blog. Apologies. So I’m now blogging to fill you in; to air my laundry; to ensure we’re all rowing in the same direction.

 

So.

 

Here’s the bones of our chat:

 

‘I met this guy’ Q says.

‘When?’

‘A while back. He’s beautiful.’

‘Where? Where did You meet him?’

‘On-line.’

‘Hang on, so You’ve never actually met him?’

‘In the flesh? No.’

‘So how do You know he’s handsome?’

‘Louis! He flies this plane….’

‘What plane?’

‘He’s training to be a pilot.’

‘Or so he says’ I say.

‘Anyway, the plane. It’s a small one, the kind you train in, but soon he’ll fly a big one, the commercial ones.’

‘Hang on. You’re talking about a guy You never met, or only met on-line, who You think is good-looking and You might be in to?’

‘Yeah’ Q deadpans.

‘And he may or may not fly a plane?’ I say. ‘And You want me to put this in Your biography? That is of course if I was ever stupid enough to ghost for You… whoever You are, or say You are.’

‘No stupid.’

‘Ok. So why are You telling me this?’

‘I dunno.  Maybe ‘cos he’s cool’ Q says.

‘Let me get this straight, this stranger is the guy You’re bouncing Your personality off?’

‘What do you mean……bouncing my personality?’ Q asks.

‘This guy, who You don’t know, is shaping You!’

‘It’s no different to talking to you, right? Everyone wants something!’

‘Touche! Ok then, so, You know the way You think about him…

‘Ya?’

‘Well, am I beautiful?’

‘Fishing for compliments?’

‘Maybe. I just want to know if You think I’m cool the way he is?’

‘Fucked if I know. I never met you.’

 

Yet.

 

Meantime my people are talking to Her people. To check one another out. To see if She really is a drop-dead gorgeous A-list Hollywood actress!

 

Then.

 

A future job? Perhaps.

 

But understand I can’t prejudice matters by expressing my wishes while behind the scenes negotiations are on-going.

 

After all, I’m a lawyer = poker face.

 

But if Q is going to be part of my writing then She belongs in our world. Here. I.e. Blog-worthy.

 

So.

 

Lets have a big welcome for Q….

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[1] To track back and view the comments at Diary 13  go here: http://www.louislaroc.com/?p=223

Diary 23: Yearning

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Let’s get back to Christmas. I think I left you there. If I repeat myself I’m sorry, you see, I’m a bit all over the place, a bit jumpy. I’ve had a few jars, every day. I’ve taken to living on benders, spilling drink down my throat.

To make things better.

To make things go away.

 

I’m that kind, the type who wears life on his skin; raw and without protective gear. But it’s dangerous; it can trip me up. And it does. Like now.

 

I open my eyes and reality is odd. Its not the vomit on my pillow that upsets. Its something else. From my bed – yawn – I’m befuddled. I see clouds despite the curtains being drawn. I’m a mess. Yes, again. There’s always again! Oh yes, the big-bad-never-ending-again, time and time again.

 

I squeeze my eyes to blink it away but it’s still there: daybreak burning my eyes. Louis, I call out. Its said so weakly it’s but a whisper. Louis, what happened, I croak again. A right muddle I’m in; the world and me floating. My head’s spinning. Am I in heaven? As if!

 

Groggy is an understatement. I’m strung out. The world is fuzzy. My eye-balls itch. Things move about, furniture is displaced or else my head is. I can’t figure which. If it’s in my head then the DTs have brought on a delirium where chairs and lampshades sway like on a boat. Perhaps I’m at sea! Doubtful, I’d remember stepping off land. Still. In this room, within these four walls, its too close to call. The only solution is to nod off for another while and things might realign when I reawake.  

 

Ding dong.

 

Second time round. I’m awake again and still feel a little mortal but at least I know where I am. I get up and put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door and remain in bed a week.

 

Yes. Another week.

In Lisbon. Ya.

 

The hotel becomes my apartment. Somewhere along the way I must have checked in. Weeks ago. I think. If I could think back. No reason why; why I’m here. Its just ‘cos. Because I can. I think. No, maybe it was to get better. To unblock? To sober up? I think. But it mustn’t have worked out. I think. I’m either plain sick or hung-over. Oh, never again. Never. Again. I promise. Only I’ve promised once too often before. I think.  

 

Lets get it out of the way: yes, I’m a disgrace, yes, I’m misbehaving and yes, I hate myself.

 

Still. It doesn’t help.

 

I groan up and get up, marveling at the body’s ability to recover. Being all hygienic, I wash my bits in soapy water and then I’m back, a man once again, albeit looking like road-kill. Suntan hides everything except how you feel. What a machine we humans are; German engineering? Spend all night knocking yourself senseless and then, all on your own, you arise. Without willpower. I’m good at that, focusing on things that require little willpower.

 

I’ve long been lectured (by whom?) that if I keep acting the same way I’ll only ever get the same results. Same ingredients, same outcome. Ok, but how do I say to these prudent forward-planners that living in the moment is infinitely better than the promise of a distant future? Bloody after-lifers! A bird in the hand, I say. Plus, why fight temptation when the things I want are irresistible? How can they (my lecturers?) not understand this? They say it’s me who can’t understand. That I’m burning out. That I can’t have every girl in the world.

 

Oh ya, I forgot that! Muff.

 

It’s odd as, believe it or not, I’ve been diving in and out a bit. Ya, of totty and doing the mechanical act – does the screw fit? All loved up and getting mixed up and all for a short cute while. Then it stops. Then repeat same. It’s been like that for the past two decades, stop-starting since my teens. Ok, maybe I lied about now. There’s a drought; the well has dried up and, against the run of play, I haven’t got any for a while. But this you know, that I’m chasing pleasures and getting none. Feast or famine, you say. Sure, but I’m neglectful of myself, of my needs, of my scorecard, my putting rate. Maybe I should give it a thought; my latent heterosexuality.

 

At the hotel bar I make an effort with a waitress whose interest in me I’ve overlooked. A bottle was in the way. I have that habit: of putting things in my way. Obstructions, distractions, boilermakers and screwdrivers.

 

‘Maybe you should self-analyze?’ she says.

‘Analyze WHAT?’

 

I get narky. She gets offended. The waitress does. Me too. I’m offended that she treats me like an amateur drunk. She gives me a tired look. She’s seen it all.

 

‘I’m Irish’ I say.

‘I’ve seen those too. Lots!’ she says.

‘What barmaid hasn’t?’

‘It was just some helpful advice’ she adds.

‘To get psychoanalysis? If I wanted some I’d ask.’

 

I’m out of line. She bites her lip. Wow, its sexy. What’s more she’s a lithe brunette. My type. How blind I am. I back up.

 

 ‘Look, sorry’ I say. ‘I don’t mean to be snappy. Can we start over? You like whiskey? Lets drink and tell lies.’

‘I can’t. I’m working.’

 

Then.

 

All on its own, my beer topples over. Mysteriously. Instinctively I lunge for it. Now I’m wrapping my hand around hers as both our hands cup the pint glass. She was quicker on the draw. Got there first. Her hand is soft. Our eyes meet.

Beer is saved from spilling.

 

Now it’s me who’s gushing. I halt that too.

 

Then.

 

The drink interrupts. I go back on the jar for the day. And the night too. And all the while she’s sitting there. Sitting in my head.

 

Then.

 

The next day and I’m awake. Alone. I wonder if it happened. I look around the room for my boxers. Who would rob them? A little shit? No, there’s nothing untoward. I really am all alone. I find my boxers scrunched up at the end of the bed and put them back on. There’s no evidence of congress down there, at the bed’s end. No used condom(s). I check my phone. It never lies. A girl’s name is saved with the surname “Hotel”. Nadia Hotel. I send Nadia Hotel a text message: “hi, you; its me”. It’s weird, Nadia Hotel responds. From where? I look around the hotel room.  I’m all alone. 

 

Are you real?

 

I ask the empty room.

 

Are you real?

 

I have a sneaking suspicion you exist and that the previous night happened. Yes, you, Nadia Hotel. I look down at my underpants. Then inside them. My cock is raw. I feel butchered. A cat fight? I can’t fathom it. I never get dick-rash wanking. I know how to handle myself.

 

Another text message. Yes, she’s definitely real! Nadia Hotel agrees to lunch in an up-market part of Lisbon. I’m still playing flash. Flush. It’s the same conveyer belt I’ve been on these past few weeks: talking to no-bodies, knowing no-one, yet living it up and in the mish-mash trying to reach out. To be saved. Before the New Year.

 

We’re the youngest in the restaurant by a stretch. Nadia – Ms Hotel to you – orders for me. Only days earlier I learned what Bollinger is, now its Vino Verde’s turn: sparkling Portuguese white wine. I tell her I like bubbles. She understands fizz; Nadia Hotel does.

 

I’m in my other person, the other me, the ex-lawyer: cold, detached, serious and shy. Nadia is also shy but only as a reaction to my (false) shyness. Was there a last night? I can’t possibly ask but knowing would help as then I’d act like I got lucky.

 

            ‘Happy New Year’ I chance.

            ‘Its only tomorrow you can say that!’ Nadia says.

‘Ok, so it’s a pre-happy New Years Eve then! You seem fidgety. You about to leave?’

            ‘Yeah, it was only a stage’ she says.

            ‘A stage? Me? I was a phase you’re going through?’

            ‘No, a stagé.’

 

She laughs as she thinks I’m being funny. I’m not. I just don’t get it. So she gets serious.

 

‘Work experience! Then I go home’ Nadia says.

            ‘When?’

            ‘Tuesday.’

            ‘When’s that?’

            ‘Tuesday? It’s next week.’

 

Trust my luck. She’s foreign to me. One of those stunning but cold and grumpy types. Eastern European. Something-kia: Slova-kia, Chechni-kia, Ukraini-kia. Whatever. She’s the polar opposite to Brazilians; to warmth. Trust my luck!

 

            ‘Nice for you’ I say. ‘To be going home I mean.’

            ‘Louis, you like Christmas alone?’

 

It’s more a statement than a question.

 

            ‘But you’re alone?’ I say.

 

Nadia smiles again.

 

            ‘Working’ she says.

 

I nod. I pour her more wine. I wonder how to take her; to be moody or not, that is the question. I could as easily be on great form. I haven’t yet decided. I switch to the real me. The better me. My other. The man I’m hiding from you. To show her the artist, not the lawyer or wanna-be entrepreneur or or… Or what? Oh, look, it’s just I’m more theatrical this way, the on-stage me is. 

 

            ‘Nadia, you look great.’

            ‘Thanks.’

            ‘You lost weight?’ I ask.

            ‘Since last night? No.’

            ‘Well… wow.’

 

And wow! Maybe last night did happen! I’m scratching my head: did I sleep with her? With Nadia Hotel, although her surname is actually Stroganoff or Stroganof-ski or something alpine like that. You see if I did already bang Nadia it’ll be a given that I get some action tonight.

 

Nadia goes to the bathroom. My eyes follow her ass to the toilet. Now there’s time to recap; to fill you in. You see, Nadia made a point of telling me that her station in life is actually at the hotel reception. She was only filling in at the bar. Had I not noticed her at reception? Like I care. The thing is, most staff are on Christmas holidays Nadia says. Trainees are bottom of the rung. She makes her point, makes a play for professionalism and boasts that she’s entitled to wear her own clothes. On Fridays. Whoopie.

 

She returns. We’re talking again. Conversation is light. Our guard is down. I’m not as reticent as the me of a few minutes ago.

 

            ‘New York?’ Nadia asks.

‘It’s my New Year’s resolution. Of course, not forgetting I also have to eat lobster on the beach in Cape Verde. I’m falling behind’ I say. ‘So travel-wise, ya, I’ve two objectives this year. And you? Any resolutions?’

            ‘I’m going to give up chocolate’ she says.

‘That sounds like Lent, having abstinence as a goal. But I see where you’re coming from. New York for me is going to be a monastery. I’ll abstain from alcohol. But I’m also going to take up smoking. One resolution to give up something and the other to take up a habit. It’s all about resolve and balancing addictions. But I know I’ll fail. The motive is there, to smoke, to be unclean, but I always lack the execution. I’ll continue drinking and forget to start smoking. I haven’t the dedication to be someone else.’

 

Nadia laughs. My perils of wisdom I now see in her mouth! She has a dentist’s smile. But of course I’m being stupid, that’s half the point; aren’t all resolutions. Although, that said, last year I began insisting on only drinking hot drinks, like latte, out of a mug rather than a glass and I’m still keeping that pledge. [1]

 

Sorry, but, no offence to you, avid reader, but I’m bored of this chit-chat. Of yapping about Nadia Hotel; of explaining bull-shit. Time to change the angle.

 

‘Nadia, I’m sworn off cocktail waitresses. Did I tell you that? In fact, all bar staff actually.’

            ‘No. Why?’

 

The plan hatched! Nadia’s eyes narrow, becoming the size of peas. Her ego is bruised. It’s odd as technically speaking Nadia Hotel isn’t a barmaid or so she said! Whatever. What’s more curious is how upset she’s become which reveals that she fancies me so who really cares if I can’t remember what did or didn’t happen last night.

 

            ‘Nadia, scoring the bar staff is too cliché and I declare war on cliché. Actually, no; actually I did have an event… or a non-event. I did fall for cliché. I was in Madrid recently. That did it; it put me off waitresses for life.’

 

I tell her about Madrid, about Maria in Madrid. Madrid Maria. I was on a writing assignment. Yada yada. Maybe I should tell you about it. Hold tight for now and show me a little slack.

 

This might go somewhere.

 

But no.

I’m tired.

It’s late.

And.

 

Know what, you and your impatience, I feel it, I do. I feel we’re grating on one another or that you don’t get where I’m going with all of this or, worse still, you don’t care to know. Pity, because if you did then you’d know what I know! That much I know for sure. Anyhow, as I was saying, I give up, and anyway, there’s a mouth-quenching distraction in my hand so lets call it quits for now. But I’ll be back.  

 

Later.

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________________________________________________

[1] Remember back in the restaurant when I was negotiating a settlement with fat-head Mr Murphy after I beat up his son? Did you notice how particular I was with the waitress, insisting my latte should be in a mug and not in a girlie glass? See Dairy 9 : http://www.louislaroc.com/?p=179