Diary 1: Exhibit “A”

Bitstrip - Diary 1(ii)

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Guess who’s fucked? You’d be right: me.

 

Today another Moan-day and I’m running late. I slide my feet into my slip-ons feeling yesterday’s dampness and no sunshine to ease matters. With a look of rain I button up and shovel off to work feeling cursed. I’m in a rut, feck-arsing about, vegetating like a prisoner. Sinfully, I’ve become boring. Uneventful. At a standstill.

 

It usen’t be so; being nobody.

Despite my inner turmoil, I harbour dreams of conquering the world. Truth is, a reality check is only around the corner then depression will have me in its grip. I feel its onset. The start of the end. The end: a shotgun in the mouth and a sidebar news-story in a regional newspaper – 70 words? Meanwhile I’m playing survival as I look for a way out. An excuse. An exit.

 

But isn’t everybody? I’m no dim-wit; I know a thoroughbred doesn’t stand still. A guy has to shake a bone to be remembered. As I make over the bridge and work coming into sight, I egg myself on, screaming at my lot. You see, today I’ve come to a momentous decision: I do not belong here.

 

I roar into the blustery wind again: I DO NOT BELONG HERE.

 

It’s absurd, if not illuminating, for this reason: right now, at this precise moment, I begin thinking of myself as somebody else, as an entirely different person, a different life-form, a passenger no longer and instead at the wheel, driving my life. Perhaps something might happen, something good, a bonanza of some kind. Now I’m trucking along, growing in confidence, imagining my hour has come.

 

Only it hasn’t. False alarm, a false dawn. Reality hits. Nothing has changed. These past few years I often have the same escapist urge and do nothing about it. My mood dampens in keeping with the foul weather. There is no life-changing event. In fact, nothing has changed save for a revelation: mortality anxiety. I’m timing out; dying by degrees. My life is a wasteland. I’ve peaked. It’s downhill from here and I never made a jot of difference.

 

I’m appalled. By me. By my everyday. Feeling more antsy than usual, I dwell on it. When an idea takes hold how can it sit quietly, at odds with the body’s goings on, living a lie, mind and body, the self divided, acting in concert as one? Faking it.

 

Opinion has it you stop feeling things after a time, only I don’t. I’m uncomfortable in my skin and I’ve grown more conscious of it, of my existence: how peripheral, parochial, its become. Maybe it’s what made me lash out and deck someone. Oh, then there’s that. The fight and its consequences. I’m staring down the barrel of a gun.

 

Dad, he wants me to stick, to establish continuity. To invest in a life. One life. He knows I’m the eternal stop-starter, that I’m in the habit of discarding my life every five or so years. Nine is nothing, me, I’ve lived a dozen lives. I’m this, I’m that, then, hey presto, vamoose. I disassemble and restart in a new location with a new career, culture and friends, wandering the world to find home. It’s my reoccurring life-cycle, people and places always failing me. Or vice-versa. And I think if I start over one last time I’ll stop looking, a make-over bringing rebirth, bumping into the real me, finally. This dad knows, that if it’s stick or twist, I’ll always twist. Well, not always, see, these days I’ve lost my bottle; all will power is gone.

 

Instead I’m being pushed. This dad doesn’t know: fight then flight.

 

Or go to jail.

Yet, nobody is on my case.

Nobody knows I’ve a problem.

Yet.

 

Folk even think a guy like me has something. Sure, I’m a flash git in a suit but everything is relative. I’m being pulled under, caught in a world of ifs.

 

If only I was somewhere else I’d be doing something else.

If only I hadn’t taken so many wrong turns.

If only I bucked the trend.

If only I wasn’t everyman.

If this and if that.

 

Fucking ifs.

 

I start to wonder about it.

About regaining my individuality.

About becoming someone different.

 

Different to this ……

 

A snap-shot of us.

 

There she is at my door. In a skirt. A tight little number. Sexy brat. I wish I had it over her head. Instead:

 

‘You OK?’ I ask.

‘Just a little tired.’

‘Late night?’

‘Don’t start.’

‘What’s up?’

‘Notalot.’

 

I think she might strut. But no, she just stands there toying with me. I hold my own. With hands behind my head I bask, leering with fuck-you abandon. My x-ray eyes are on her, counting how many items of clothing she has on. Four. Maximum five (including panties). I’m allowed; I pay her wages.

 

We know what we’re doing; circling, sniffing. I’m like a five year old looking for hidden sweets. Perhaps she’s imagining me naked. She draws first.

 

‘What you looking at?’

 

She runs a hand over her blouse then paranoia climbs over her face. She goes to rub it off; she’s pawing at it, at her mug. There’s nothing there but it’s good because she submits to my stare.

 

I’m in control. And although the dominant one, I can’t condense it down. How do I explain I’m wondering what kind she is? Would we sleep as spoons? Would she wake me up with eggs Benedict?

 

‘Would you mind…’

‘Mind what?’ she asks.

 

She almost stops me; I almost turn away. I torch the idea but can’t be bothered making something else up. This is how it went down. Period.[1] We’re breathing it out. Making fists. Pissing the poison from our minds.

 

‘Oh, nothing’ I say.

‘Everything is nothing with you. You’re such a child.’

‘The way it is.’

‘Why?’

‘An exit is an exit!’

 

We keep saying nothing though she wonders about this. Deal with it, I think of saying.

 

‘Exits! Louis, what’s that supposed to mean?’ she asks.

‘Know what, I’m free-associating!’

‘… to dig yourself out of a hole?’

‘Like I’m in one?’

 

We stare. She’s only arrived and already acts bored. It’s true, she’s the only stimulus around here.

 

‘You do know I don’t take you for granted.’

 

Is it a question or fact? She awaits clarification, going limp, lifeless, praying on a confession. I continue:

 

‘You know sometimes ….’

 

Sometimes, I interrupt myself; cut myself off. Like now. She releases a huff. A sour face. A look of dislike. Meaningless questions; meaningless answers. And we’re only starting; warming up. I’m frustrated, fucked off I didn’t jerk-off last night. Then I might have slept. Now I could forcibly rape a sheep.

This is it, this is us: the waking day. Our everyday. The more I question the more alert she becomes. It’s our natural rapport, our intimacy. At least that’s how I have it in my head. Us, waking up in the office. Together. Courting.

 

Today her blonde locks are pinned back. Tightly. Her forehead is higher up. It’s how I like it. She’s quick to advertise her strengths: the acres on her face. Some famous ballerina said lashing her hair back was the cause of headaches. I suppose her suffering is fine with me especially if it’s for me. I’m down with penance.

 

She lingers. I register awe. Lust. I look. Gawk. Longer. Harder.

 

‘I look ok?’

‘Ya, fine.’

 

I don’t say ravishing. Instead.

 

‘Panadol in the canteen.’

‘I don’t have a hangover’ she says.

‘Wowa, frosty, hold up. Don’t pin anything on me!’

 

I’m holding my hands up. She draws breath. I like that she’s overstepped the mark: it shows how close we are; that I’m big enough to let it slide. She thinks I care about rank. I don’t. It’s why I passed on joining the army. Now there’s one General less. https://vine.co/v/hH1HMQLrn3z

 

‘You know the root cause …’

 

I’m swirling a hand between us but pull myself up mid-twirl, holding myself in check. Refraining. After all, why bother, why confess? She doesn’t care for my feelings, she only wants dirt. Gossip. Maybe she’s laying a trap. Tick tock, the sexual harassment clock! No more complacency for me, thank you very much. I change tack.

 

‘I thought you might have replied.’

 

It doesn’t need explaining. She ignores my text messages. I’m sending them into thin air. At least feed me a lie.

 

‘I swear I have this mobile that writes slower than me’ she says.

 

We’re looking at the guilty phone in her hand. It becomes a person. We’re having a three-way conversation. It’s what 22 year olds do. Discuss their mobiles.

 

‘Are we chatting about your phone?’ I ask.

‘Yeah. Why?’

‘I don’t do that.’

 

It shuts her up; stops her in her tracks. Now we’re back on track: back at work, all the while sailing away from nine o clock. She makes to leave. I pull her back. Pulling rank.

 

‘Any chance of a bagel. You don’t mind, do you?’ I ask.

‘You’ve never cared before.’

‘Well, what with your headache. Would make anyone narky.’

‘I’m not narky.’

‘Jumpy then.’

 

A huff.

Then.

 

‘You really should look at your diet’ she says.

 

Instead I look at my belly. And smile. I can easily see my dick over it.

 

‘At your age diabetes is likely’ she adds.

‘I’m sporty.’

‘More risk then.’

‘Is this you plugging your thing?’

‘It’s not a thing. I’m a celiac.’

‘Thought that was a type of car! You should try one – a sandwich; not the car.’

‘I only eat for one.’

 

She’s snappy and won’t let up. I’m not fat so it’s a wasted energy trying to pin a complex on me.

 

‘And eating three meals a day is feeding a family?’

 

She knows I’m right. But she has her ass to think of. Anyway, she can’t afford my diet. It’s rich in every sense.

 

‘Bacon and brie?’ she asks.

‘How you know me. Oh, and a latte. Thanks.’

‘No pastry?’

 

She thinks she’s being funny. Facetious is actually the word.

 

‘No thanks, though it beats eating tofu as a treat! I’m thinking of going celiac. A two litre diesel.’

 

I smile, patting my gut. She makes eyes at me – this isn’t her life. But it is. I go to reply but she beats the rush. She has already turned tail.

 

In her wake: a floral waft.

***

That was first thing in the morning. At 9am. After an hour I’m bored waiting for events to happen; for things to brighten up the day.

 

Then, later on. At 10:26am. My office. There she is, framed in the doorway. Again.

 

‘Maybe you shouldn’t be like, I dunno, so familiar with me.’

‘How so?’

 

She’s in the habit of saying no without actually knowing how to. I play innocent. We exchange nervous glances. A thought courses through my mind: what does it take to be a pervert? Is there a test of some kind? I go to pin her back, deliberately misinterpreting while revealing my bargaining chip.

 

‘Don’t be your boss?’

‘No! God no. That’s great, Louis. Really. That’s not it. It’s just …’

 

She stamps a foot, revealing how misunderstood she feels. Neurotic cow! The thrust of it is that I’m crossing a line. But I won’t let her say it.

 

‘Go on’ I say.

‘Hey, you seen the You Tube video about work practises?’

‘What? I’m not with you.’

 

I give a blank look. Yawn. Boring. You know sometimes, in ordinary day to day life, I die a little. Like now.

 

‘The video. I posted it on Facebook.’ she says.

‘Oh, ya! I’ll take a look later on.’

‘Ok. But I posted it two days ago!’

 

We’ve jinxed ourselves on Facebook. Cross-pollination. First week in the office and we’re FB friends. It would be unseemly to unfriend. I act like I don’t stalk her on-line. Of course I’ve seen her stupid video I just thought she’d keep us privileged. Instead twenty-six of her friends ‘liked’ the link. That really pissed me off. I know what she’s doing: they’re ganging up on me. All of them have me under suspicion.

 

Know what I’m thinking? How to make us an ‘us’. Why not? Aren’t we already involved? Otherwise this – work, training period, whatever – is pointless. I mean, why bother sleeping with her in my dreams if she’s going to carry on like this? https://vine.co/v/hHmYtIWPE5i

 

‘It’s good stuff. You should check it out’ she says.

‘You trying to educate me? Remember, I’m in law, not HR!’

‘Still.’

 

And ‘still’ sticks in my head. Still, it’s a warning before she drops me in it. Still, maybe I should keep a distance. She could pull reassignment. She could. Yeah, she might. I’ve mucked up before putting things in writing – those emails which I know she has kept – and now she’s saying …

 

Enough.

Still.

You.

The cheek!

 

I’m not desperate; at least I don’t have to be. I get a lot of come-ons so this is a mite unfair. Remember, it’s not me that’s supposed to be auditioning for something. So why am I under the kosh?

 

She finishes her little ditty. It’s rehearsed no doubt. Her Facebook friends put her up to it. But she’s holding back. She’s gone all squirmish. Girlish. Is it to protect her career or is she hiding her true feelings for me? Or else, maybe, just maybe, it’s a me thing?

‘You look crazy!’ she says.

‘Crazy?’

‘Ok, crazed. Louis, mind if I ask you something?’

‘Sure. Try me.’

‘There’s something wrong with you.’

‘That a question?’

‘Ya.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘You should see a doctor.’

‘For what?’

 

My lust? For losing my mind?

 

‘Being retarded!’ she says.

‘That’s not cool… or PC.’

‘Ok, sorry, for having a mid-life then.’

 

I let out a laugh, ok, its a ridiculous high-pitched squeal.

 

‘I’m only in my 30s! Oh, I get it – is it because I’m not brazenly hounding you!’

 

Now I’ve put it out there, she’s speechless. She watches me, horrified.

 

The pathos. Still, what do I care? Contrary to social etiquette I’m happy to sit out the performance. I button up. Spectate, watching her silently self-combust. Staring. Carnivorously. Disrespectfully. Are we terminal? She holds my gaze. Resolutely. We are sexual equals her look says. I cede ground. Blink. Withdraw. Retreat. Still, it’s not her, at least not the real her. She isn’t bred so. Bred posh. Assertive-like. Or defiant. It’s an act. The staring. An acquired put-on. She probably adopted it from some dopey character in a TV box-set. https://vine.co/v/hX35AYq21gX

 

‘It’s just everyone wants, you know …’ she says.

‘No, I don’t know.’

 

Truth is, I’m irritated. She’s such a hit with herself. She’s the kind of girl who volunteers she’s intelligent, the real blue-stocking, only she’s a phoney. She’s not hitting high IQs.

 

‘Well, you know, everyone …’

‘Ya, everyone – I got that bit. What is it everyone wants?’

‘Oh, nothing. Forget it.’

 

But I know what she means… So do you.

 

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[1] The events described herein are all real save for a few parts that aren’t. I’m cataloguing events as they happen unless amending bits of legal necessity.

Diary 3: Saucy Susan

Bitstrip - Diary 3

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Everyone wants to be wanted.

Wanted in a non-Interpol way.

 

Shes a product of good genes. Her looks define her. It brings privilege. Desirability. Wantability. But there’s a catch: she doesn’t understand time. One day she’ll be caught out when nobody is running around trying to sniff her ass. You see, mingers, ugly girls, they have that over her. They’re always resistible and accept they’ve to get low to get any: S&M, anal, asphyxiation, dogging, locked in dungeons; basic things like that.

 

As for me, I’m no longer in my prime but get this: I’m wanted.

 

‘You’re wanted. So-and-so is here to see you.’

 

It’s how she says it, how she phrases it, spits it actually. My apprentice. Susan [1]. Her words hit me like she’s flinging stones at me. There’re no limits. She’s as nasty as… I don’t blame her. I overstepped the mark.

 

Today clients will arrive and there’ll be no warning. It’s Susan’s prerogative. See, yesterday, her demanding boss – me – sent her on too many errands. Now she’s exercising control. Earlier this morning I had control. At 9am. Ours is a game of power relations: a Cold War. I’m America, she’s Russia.

 

Susan’s my go-for. It must be hell. Go for my coffee; go for my bacon and brie toasty; go for my dry-cleaning; go bring me my clients. Officially, I’m her master. Officially, she’s my bitch.

 

‘Put Hello magazine in the canteen. Only Intelligent Life should be out.’

Instead of saying good morning, I’m shaking Hello magazine at her.

 

‘Do we really subscribe to working-class tastes?’ I ask.

 

Rhetorical question. She’s in charge of subscriptions. I don’t press – the point is made. I’m her boss so technically I control Hello, not her. Still. Although she can’t sue me any more I tread carefully. She could tell Dad [2]. Plus, I don’t want her spitting in my coffee.

 

‘Nobody reads it’ she says.

Intelligent Life? Sure they do. I do.’

 

Only I don’t. She gives me that look, Medusa-like. I can’t tell if it’s a compliment about being smart or a warning to stay clear. She doesn’t hold my gaze long enough for me to tell which way her mouth curls. She has no lines on her polished face. It’s like porcelain.

 

Once, I used fall into it.

 

***

 

Three years.

In my first year I’m trying to hide my sex life from my secretary. Girls call and she vets them. My secretary disapproves but is curious nevertheless. That dies down and lo-behold in year two my blonde bomb-shell arrives, sent from heaven: Susan, my petite 22 year old apprentice from Leitrim. McGahern country. I imagine she’s a cheap date: so small she gets smashed on a beer. Bantamweight. Low-carb. The insufficiently nourished kind. My kind. Heroin-chic. Finally, I have my own (non-doughy) play-thing. This becomes the year I master sexual harassment; get a PhD in it. I was bored. She was the object. I deliberately weakened my hand and emailed my lust:

 

‘The things I would like to do to you. I adore your ass. And your tits – OMG. You would fit beautifully on my desk. Can I nail you to it?     ps. I shout when I shoot. pps. Stuff bog-roll in my mouth when we do it and nobody will hear! Ppps. Really’

 

Slam dunk. Documentary evidence. Fucking myself is the only fucking done. My colleagues would laugh. I should know better. The golden rule is to harass other firms’ apprentices, to piss on their turf, not your own. Then you’re only sleazy. My only option is to play time. Not long out of university and unfamiliar with legal procedures she can’t know sexual harassment suits have to be processed within six months. For six months she had a hold over me. I obeyed her every whim. I even fetched her coffee. Master and slave, the roles reversed. She became my overlord. I loved it.

 

The thrill.

The risk.

I beat off more.

And more.

 

Year three and Susan is part of the furniture. She’s always fighting me off. By the way, I don’t think it’s a big deal – the age gap. Thirteen years. She disagrees. I argue the point. I know I’m right.

 

‘In many movies, the lead is paired up with a lover 13 or more years younger!’

‘You’re no Clint Eastwood’ she says.

‘Thank fuck! But you seen Tom Cruise lately?’

 

There’s no witty riposte. I throw her a Hollywood look. She just stares. I think she might suck her thumb but no, she squints, her eyes becoming half-slits, then she nods her head side to side before marching off. That shut her up. Anyway, back to my point. From the get-go, we bother one another. Now we’re reduced to squabbles. It’s how it begins. Today’s weirdness. Why I’ve no sentinel. Why the knock on my door. Knock, knock. Frantically I scan the desk.

 

For what?

 

For anything incriminating. It’s in my blood. It wouldn’t do to be caught with my pants down.

 

Naked is other people.

 

‘Sorry to barge in. Don’t mean to disturb.’

‘Not at all. Come in’ I say.

 

I go to stand but with a raised hand he motions me to stay seated. He leans across the schoolmaster’s desk and I shake a glove. He points to a chair. A file is on it. His eyebrows ask the question. Sure, I say, move it. He carefully places the file on the floor. I think it’s Quillinan’s irrigation problem [3]. Stagnant sewage. I feel slightly embarrassed.

 

For whom?

 

‘The receptionist? There was no-one outside’ he says.

‘I have an apprentice.’

‘He’s not outside!’

‘It’s a she. She’s …. She’s…’

‘Gone on an excursion?’ he asks.

‘Yes. That’s probably it.’

 

I stiffen in unfamiliar company. He ignores. He’s already at his mitts. He’s holding his hands to his face, picking at the finger tips, first one and then the other – all ten – and removes his shiny black leather gloves. And it’s only October, albeit cold.

 

‘Call me Martin. And you … I do have you right, don’t I?’

‘Oh, sorry, yes. Louis.’

‘That’s right. We’re ok then.’

 

Well-dressed and suave, I admit I’m curious. Though we have English clients who live in palatial homes this fellow is definitely a blow-in. Martin doesn’t fit in precisely because he doesn’t try to fit in. Still, they’re much alike, all with a touch of King Henry about them; the English. I like it as it must be reassuring to have a sense of belonging, to be rooted. And to be okay with your roots.

 

I find myself inspecting his green silk scarf thrown over a beige gabardine. Self-assured and audacious: an Indian-Irish touch, yet so out of place in ________. I feel I can relate. I don’t know why. Instinct perhaps. I feel a meaningful message coming on. I’ll be disappointed if there isn’t one.

 

Perhaps it’s as well to explain. I’m holed up in an Irish backwater called _______. I presumed I’d only be buried in this flyover-ville shit-hole but never actually live here. Now I’m one of the living dead.

 

‘I have been sent by …’

 

And it’s here Martin inserts His name [4]. He says it while admiring his fingernails.

 

‘I’m His agent. Not in a legal sense. I manage His affairs. Business affairs that is’ he says.

‘Of course. I understand.’

 

Martin starts up again. But I’m not listening. I’m floating. He has just named a world-renowned pop-star, a modern-day Elvis. I’d love to say I just read about Him and His latest lover in a back-issue of Hello in the bog. Come to think of it, in my lifetime I’ve seen more photographs of Him than I have of myself.

 

‘A friend of His came upon your dabblings.’

 

Proceed.

But no.

He delays.

How many control-freaks do I have to go through in a day? As though choreographed, Martin takes a time-out to savour my stuffy office.

 

‘You see, I do the leg-work, donkey work’ he says.

‘Hardly.’

 

I’m used to doling out charitable utterances. He ignores. He picks up a book off my desk: ‘Adventure Man: How to become a man of action’. What did he expect – ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’? He rifles though it and spots the underlined sections. He smiles to himself and places it back on my desk.

 

‘I only read it during lunch break’ I say.

‘Of course. Any good?’

‘In parts. It talks about shifting the axis of play. Taking no prisoners; risk versus reward. Of jumping off cliffs. Of deep-ending oneself into strange things, foreign lands. Of leading ones own life and all that jazz. But other than that, it’s a bit iffy.’

 

I’m a lawyer; I’m paid to have doubts. He doesn’t care. He’s scanning the wall. I follow his eyes and judge my choices. There’s an enormous map of the world: revealing worldly ambition? A framed poster of Che Guevara Lynch: a sign of clinging to rebellion? Then, nestled on the mantelpiece, the family boast: a photograph of Dad doing something great. And then there’s me: all said, a collector of dubious oddities.

 

‘He asked me to check you out.’

 

He, God, Elvis, Wacko?

 

‘He checked me out?’

‘Yes, well, He actually asked me to check you out, to see where you are, what you are at, what you are like – that kind of thing. And so, here I am.’

 

I wish he would stop being surprised by himself, by where he’s at. It’s effortless how he dents my ego. Simple words or a look and he shoots down my life. It’s time to give him the sales pitch. I feel Dad glaring down at me from the mantelpiece. I must remember to give just enough as the truly able never boast. Or so they say.

 

‘We have much experience’ I begin. ‘My father, Dr. La Roc, and I cover a range of legal matters. Of course, we’re a small-town firm but we’re full service. And being in the countryside, probate and trusts are a particular specialty.’

 

Overshot? The things we do, the lines we sell, the lives we live, the people we are – all in a days work; non-stop throughout a lifetime.

 

Can he tell my heart isn’t in it, that I don’t give a fuck, that I’m an illegitimate lawyer, an imposter, a hoax? Truthfully, I’m more tourist than career solicitor.

 

‘No please. Stop. Perhaps I haven’t made myself clear’ he says.

‘Oh!’

‘He thought you mightn’t be up to much.’

‘Sorry! Actually I’m very busy.’

 

I look around the desk for something to cling to. My eyes settle on the book, ‘Adventure Man’.

 

‘I don’t mean legally. Sorry, if I’ve offended. It wasn’t intended.’

‘It’s ok. Did you say not legal?’ I ask.

‘Yes. You see, it’s you He wants.’

‘Me!’

 

Nobody comes for me unless clown school has an emergency. Now I’m beginning to wonder if I’d make a good back-up singer. In his own time Martin explains.

 

‘It’s more your writing. He thought you mightn’t be doing much on that front. You see, He has a unique life-story that needs telling. He’d be honoured if you’d consider writing it. But under His own name, you understand? Be His ghost-writer.’

‘Oh!’

 

It’s all I can manage.

A random stranger has my ticket…

and is scratching at my soul.

 

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[1] She once explained the meaning of her name, Susan, some historical gunk about it but I don’t remember. Or care. You don’t either. To sail the legal waters, Susan is a kind of fictional composition, a mix of other non-people and peppered with things strange, and accordingly, the usual rules apply.

[2] ‘Dad’ might not be the real thing and instead be a paternal figure like the partner in the law firm.

[3] The client’s name has been changed; the legal issue too. Know what – the same goes for all clients, files and people named. Ok.

[4] Although presented as a Blog about things largely real, I’m compelled to maintain certain confidences and unable to outright name the celebrities I represent. To the Stars to whom I am a confidante and contractually bound, monikers aside, you’ll note I’ve doctored key facts and timelines. Furthermore, I shy away from describing physical characteristics or commonly known ticks while, perhaps, muddling nationalities.

 

Diary 12: The Soup

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I’m up against my own questions. Truth or dare, what’s it to be? Both. Then, suddenly, I enter a new mode of existence; only willing to do things that matter.

 

The office are told. All hell breaks lose. Things spiral out of control. Not only are other people’s jobs on the line but there’s the matter of educating and feeding their children. The multiplier effect weighs heavily on me. I’m increasing Irish unemployment and starving kids.

 

What, closing up shop? Why, they ask? Anger brews and, hey presto, persona non grata. That’s me. The enemy within.

 

Their enmity doesn’t shake me. The opposite: I hang tough, unbending. I go raw. Think Chuck Norris. Feral. I even stop wearing a tie. Dad is caught in the middle but hides his disappointment. He doesn’t do theatrics and puts on a brave face. In the lifetime I’ve known him he’s never shown a mood shift. He doesn’t do highs or lows. Polar extremes isn’t his bag. Nor is he ever outraged. And so he doesn’t say I’m at fault for bringing the legal dynasty to an end.

 

He wouldn’t understand were I to explain that in quiet moments I laugh aloud to myself, at myself. At how serious I take myself. At my pomposity. He thinks his own dad’s life well spent: in the office until the grave.

 

Still.

 

Morale is low. I’m bleeding him. It’s not right. I was born under him. Still. We have to go on; to find a way. Our way. But what does a son do if there is no objection? Answer: feel more guilty. And I do. I feel obliged to sell him my dream.

 

‘Dad, I’m single, without family, mortgage or kids. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bolt and open up a new career path.’

‘I’m happy for you if it makes you happy’ he says.

 

It’s the best he can muster. He pretends to take the hook but must be at the end of his tether, his patience worn thin. It’s fair to ask if I was genetically engineered. Maybe he blames himself for allowing me so much rope to dream. Of course he disapproves but won’t say it. He would never trample on my feelings or stand in the way of my ambitions no matter how capricious. Deep down he knows what I’m banking on: that departure will save me.

And define.

 

Below the surface, the burden is heavy on me. Dad’s disappointment is; me, Mr. Transient. I’m always monkeying around, tinkering with careers, dead-ends. Yes, no, do, don’t; always fighting with myself. Always this. Then that. Still. By practising law Dad is proud of me and I suspect boasts about me on the golf course. But now, by calling time on my legal career, there’s a resident fear that I may cease existing in his eyes. It complicates. He only gets conventions. By stepping into the void, diving off a cliff into the clear blue nothing, I’m no longer in a neat box. No longer holier-than-thou.

 

Perhaps as he watches my exodus he wonders how much growing up I have left to do. How retarded I am: in my thirties and still my own – my only – child, not having grasped the boy to man thing; the transition to maturity. Will I ever stand in a father’s shoes he must be given to wonder. [1}

 

***

Susan thinks she’s onto me.

 

‘What you thinking?’ she asks.

 

What it would be like to break sweat together? She’s wearing a cling-film dress. Cling-on. It reveals her roving hips and makes me loin-hungry. She looks at her dress, then at me, then at her dress again, then back to me. I give my eyes a rest and remove them from her. By the by, and for the record, I don’t take my clothes seriously. Cloth hangs well on me, although silk is better.

 

Anyway, so there she is, glistening like a goose on a carving tray and ready for eating.

 

Then, the weirdest thing, the muscle in my pants gives way to the muscle in my head. Thinking trumps testosterone; a first! I wonder if I owe Susan a responsibility. Loco parentis, me being her master and all. I push that nonsense aside and trade different notions: I could influence her! Corrupt her. Ya, I might. I could poison her mind, teach her how not to become a lawyer. To live instead. To fuck life. To live to fuck. But why enlighten? To amuse me? To kill her? Or would it be simply to display my skills at play-acting? The snake slithers, my eye turns sly…

 

‘Susan, you know the way you are or think you are? … No, actually nothing, can that thought. I’m just day-dreaming.’

‘Don’t clam up on me now. It sounds interesting!’

‘Lock-jaw’ I say.

 

I rub my chin and Susan gives a curious smile. Warm and welcoming. Today the perfume is mystery and its me who’s wearing it. Issey Miyake for men. And it draws. Excites. Teases.

 

‘You going soft and romantic or talking through your ass again?’ she asks.

‘Forget it, my advice is best avoided.’

‘Let me the judge of that’ she says.

‘Oh ya?’

‘Louis, maybe I can decide things for myself, so shoot, what’s up?’

 

Though Susan has plenty of issues of her own what she can’t abide in others is equivocation. She prefers clarity. Black or white.

 

‘What am I thinking? Actually, there’s no telling’ I say.

‘It would be nice to understand why you’re leaving.’

‘To become an astronaut.’

‘Come on, really.’

‘Don’t poo-poo the idea; I’d be good in outer space. They’re my kind of people.’

‘Is it ‘cos you want to sniff a whale’s breath?’

‘Smell a what?’ I ask.

‘To get close to nature and stuff. What? What’s wrong?’ she asks.

‘It’s just the effect of laughing gas. Nothing serious.’

 

I’m giggling now.

 

‘Seriously though?’ she asks.

‘No Susan, I don’t fancy whales.’

‘Ok then, is it because you’ve no one?’

 

I’ve stopped giggling.

 

‘Is what WHAT?’

‘You know. Why you’re upping and leaving.’

‘Susan, I don’t follow.’

‘Well, because you have nobody.’

‘How do you know I have nobody?’

 

Susan blushes. Maybe after all she does care about me.

 

‘There is life after you Susan.’

 

I’m lying and act so nonchalant it surprises me. She dies before me. She too can fade from memory I’ve said.

 

But it’s true: nobody defines me; I’m without reflection. I’ve nobody to write home about, no serious love. Well, aside from the unrequited one standing before me. Opportunistically viewed, I’m carefree or an open book. Under closer inspection, I’m washed up and empty or, as some begrudgers stuck with fat wives would have it, gay.

 

Not so.

 

I could try marriage, for a while, but I chose not to carry anybody. Yet. And maybe it’s a bit of this:

 

‘Susan, this may come as a surprise but I don’t take life for granted. Life speaks, it asks things of us, and I appreciate my contract with life isn’t open-ended. Time is a precious resource. We must dive in, seize it. Self-fulfilment. Fulfil ambition. Things don’t come undeserved. To thine own self.’

 

I’ve resuscitated her. She’s gob-smacked. I’ve never talked meaningful. I wonder if she sees through me: that I’m a windbag drowning in passivity and tired of being unremarkable. She looks at me, differently – sees me in a new light – like the way she looks up to Dad. I’m heartened and, full of heart, onwards I march.

 

‘Susan, what I mean is, I must act now, live on the edge, keep my hand on the throttle, vroom vroom, scorch onwards, full steam ahead, maximum velocity, never stand still and conquer the mountain I am.’

 

I didn’t intend this: to pontificate, to be weighed down by lofty ambition. I mean, for her, for Susan, her remaining dream, marriage aside, is probably to stand on her head in yoga class. So ya, sure, she’s in awe. And ya, I’m playing a game. Ya, I’m sailing close to the wind. Ya, to get her onside. Ya, to get inside her. But no, I’m not barmy. Technically.

 

‘This is in that book, right? You’re quoting it.’

 

She’s nodding to ‘Adventure Man’. It’s on the desk. How can she know? Fuck. I’ve no choice but to call her bluff.

 

‘No Susan, it’s called life. Living.’

 

Still. I’d like to have said more. The truth. The whole truth and nothing but. About getting the pop-star gig. But due to onerous confidentiality clauses I can’t reveal my good fortune.

 

‘Susan, here we do a job. A job. It’s what we do. We job it. But maybe I want some success.’

‘You can’t get that here?’

‘Superficial success maybe! I want wider, broader success.’

‘To row your own canoe?’ she asks. ‘You need to wipe the slate clean to do that? You’re withholding aren’t you?’

 

It fucks me off hearing Dad in her.

 

‘Withholding? No I’m not.’

‘Louis, I thought you said you didn’t lie.’

‘Withholding isn’t lying!’

‘Technically! So, you admit you are withholding .. the whole story … rather than fabricating a lie?’

‘Susan, you ever considered that the things we take serious, aren’t?’

‘What things?’

‘Ourselves!’

 

There, I said it. Said what matters. Living real. Ego free. Susan loses my eye and adjusts her dress. Fucked if she’s taking me seriously.

 

‘Oh, Mr Profound now. You thought about Dr. La Roc?’

‘What about him?’

‘What he’ll do.’

‘Potter around. As ever.’

‘I mean as a parting gift.’

‘Oh. Right. Any ideas?’

‘Get high!’

‘Get stoned … with Dad? You dabble?’

‘Me? In drugs? No, honest, I don’t.’

‘Pity. It’s a good idea but its not going to happen.’

‘You’re lucky.’

 

There’s a hint of jealousy in her parting words as she no sooner pirouettes out of the room. This time, in her wake, confusion.

 

Susan leaves me thinking how terrible it must be not to know oneself. Then again, she isn’t old enough to have issues to get behind. She’s still a blank page without life experiences. For now, her life is an act. A put on. And as for the hot dress she’s wearing, let it be said that for the truly average, work is a girl’s only fashion parade.

 

Away from the office, not even friends know my plans. I try not to be smug, preferring instead to undersell my future. But a few mates read the smirk on my face and guess I’m cooking something up.

 

‘I want to try my hand at something else’ I confess. ‘Oh, and I’m leaving Ireland in the New Year.’

‘What about your pension?’ a colleague in a rival law firm asks.

‘Ditched it. I’m going for broke.’

‘To be poor?’ he asks.

 

He thinks he’s being funny as us lawyers always laugh at poor people. We only pretend not to.

 

‘Actually I’m gambling on being rich: the all or nothing approach.’

 

I see it in his eyes; the slog of the dog. He looks with horror, like I’ve fallen off the wagon, before glancing at his watch and scuttling back to the workings of the machine. The grind. He thinks he’s on the road to being someone, the wage slave. They all think the same. Partners too. Battery hens don’t jump; there’s no room to; they cluck obediently 24/7.

 

So.

Lets get back to Susan.

 

I’ve been holding out, hoping that she and I might get to do some drinking. To romp. I don’t know if she plans it but late one evening we’re in the office, call it a night-time rendezvous, just she and I. [2]

 

‘A sneaky one?’ she suggests.

‘A pre-Christmas drinky or two!’ I say.

 

She whips out a pre-rolled joint and I take out a bottle of twelve year old malt. It starts off predictably enough.

 

‘What’re you going to be doing two weeks from now?’ she asks.

‘Lots. Still, what I’ll be doing isn’t ever going to be the sum total of who I am.’

‘Come on, Louis, not more ‘Adventure Man’ shit!’

‘Susan, it may come as a surprise but I do actually run my own life.’

‘Go on, I can keep a secret – what’s the next move?’

‘Justice’ I say.

‘More law? Elsewhere?’

‘No, Susan. Justice for me, for my life. I’m killing this habit. The all-day dog. I’m done faking it.’

‘Three letters spring to mind: WTF. Explain!’

‘I’m chasing a birth certificate!’

‘Whose?’

‘My own. I want to be born! Susan, I’m after anything, everything actually, or at least everything in the world except law.’

 

She’s embarrassed. I’ve insulted her life’s choice. She feels boring and wishes she was a hippy. Everyone carries their own tragedy! Still. The horror. The horror of being adventureless. The horror. Not to dream. I stay mum. Dumb. Watching. Holding her eye. My finger is hovering over an ant. Her. The ant. Its cruel. I relax my finger. Call it compassion. Not standing on an ant. Dead ant, dead ant. Her. See, I’m charitable. I go to dig her out.

 

Here goes.

 

‘Susan, I’m sorry but I just don’t want what others seem to want.’

‘Pray enlighten: what do we, the masses, want?’

‘Dunno. Stability? Respect? Money? Manicured lawn?’

‘And you’re the exception, right?’

‘Long-term: not a clue. Short-term: ya, maybe. I’ll start living more day-to-day.’

‘While we carry on with our quiet lives of desperation?’

‘I didn’t say that.’

‘You didn’t have to. It’s pretty cool. Free-styling it. You should post stuff on-line. A blog. Never know, it might gain traction.’

‘No way. Forget it. Who’d be interested? Anyway, I’m a Luddite. But ya, packing in law – what a relief. Hey, you ever read this?’

 

I’ve picked ‘Adventure Man’ up off the desk. Ok, I’m suckered.

 

‘Isn’t it just for guys?’

‘The name is off-putting. Deliberately. It’s called that to deter women from knowing the secrets to life, to men. Stop being so …’

‘So what?’

‘Natty.’

 

She bursts out laughing. Even gives a snort. I’m smitten. I love the way her face scrunches up.

 

‘Natty?’

‘Ok, precious.’

‘But really – you and the law?’

‘What about it?’ I ask.

‘Does it have to be an either-or?’

‘Me or it? Ya.’

 

Susan smiles at my resolve and taps her empty glass with a French nail. It lets me know I should keep filling it. I go downstairs and raid a colleague’s stash of whiskey. It’s a farewell gender concession that I don’t ask Susan to fetch it. Everyone has to have a bit of give and take.

 

Making downstairs I realise my thinking is a little hazy. Did I really just ask Susan the question: would you shag me if age weren’t an issue? Did I? Back in my office I continue making eyes at her. Then I enter her personal space, to let her know I’m here. Then I lunge. Lob the gob.

 

Know what?

 

Suddenly we’re snogging. I’m feeling flesh, a boob too. I unclipped her bra. After a while, just as my fingers are worming their way down her skirt, she breaks away.

 

‘But Sean! I love him. If he… Louis, we shouldn’t.’

‘Oh yes we should. Live it up a little’ I say.

‘Seriously, stop.’

 

A hand is on my chest. Objecting. Yet I know her panties are wet. To me what just happened was cosmic but for her I’m just a lecherous drunk. Come on, it’s not like I’m a red-head like what’s-his-face. [3]

 

‘Louis, promise you won’t tell Dr. La Roc.’

‘Don’t tell God!’ I tease.

 

I’m tired of Dad always getting in the way of progress in my life. Plus, am I going to jump all life long at mention of his name? Don’t I belong to me? Grow up, I scold or Freud’s acolytes will get rich off me. I try thinking of something witty to say but Susan gets in first.

 

‘You swear, not a word?’

‘Not to tell Saint La Roc? Course not. I’m a gentleman. What do you take me for?’

 

She gives me a searching look, insistent and doubtful of my conduct. Of course I won’t tell anybody. Still. It’s a start.

***

 

Tick tock.

 

More time flies by. Whosh! Then Dad asks if he can take over my apprentice, Susan, the corporate queen.

 

‘But she qualifies next month’ I say. ‘You don’t think I haven’t thought it through. I wouldn’t abandon her before qualifying.’

‘I know. I know she qualifies. That’s what I mean – when she has qualified.’

‘What, you want to take her on? As a proper solicitor?’

‘Yeah. What do you think?’

 

I think, you can’t shoo her into my office. I think, the firm is staying open? I think, you can survive without me? I think …ugh, I didn’t realise I was so replaceable. I thought everything might crumble in my absence.

Even the cosmos.

 

‘I don’t know Dad. I mean she’s keen as mustard, sure. And good. It’s just sometimes she’s naïve.’

‘She’s new! She’ll learn.’

‘Yes, but, well, you don’t want to get in trouble with the Law Society’

 

I put a fire under his arse. It’s like saying Susan is a murderer. How dare the bitch think she can slide into my chair. Dad withdraws. I can see it: he’s already swallowing the offer, back-tracking.

 

‘You didn’t say anything to her yet, did you?’ I ask.

‘Not fully.’

‘So she just has hopes?’

‘I imagine so, yes.’

‘Ok, so no firm offer then. It’s just I thought you were going to retire and enjoy life. I mean, do you need to take on such a liability? And for what?’

 

He knows I’m right. That’ll show the bitch for upstaging me in the canteen and for going behind my back and coaxing Dad to carry on working so he can employ her. Still, by suggesting she’s not up to it I’ve given Dad a bum steer. She is good for it. I’ve just cost Susan a job. I feel good about it, kind of.

It’s name?

Revenge.

***

Tick tock.

 

One night I have a dream. I’m a knight on a horse about to leave a castle on a lone journey. Dad comes down to the fort wall to see me off. He’s dressed as an old man in the non-descript attire from way back then, wearing only a coal sack. I must have come good as I’m a knight while he’s only a filthy peasant.

 

‘Sometimes we must kill to prove we are right about certain ideals’ Dad says.

 

I register confusion but he doesn’t care to explain. My horse is rearing up as the draw-bridge is lowered. I’m tugging at the nag, spinning him about, and trying to look back at Dad for answers. There are none. Then I leave.

 

‘Enjoy your journey’ Dad shouts.

 

I’m all alone in the world as the draw-bridge slams shut behind me. The weird thing is I don’t know what my mission is. Maybe I must tackle an army, kill a wild beast, or rescue a princess.

 

I’m galloping across an open stretch of grass to the distant forest. It must be some important errand I’m on as huge hopes are resting on me. It seems that if I fall flat on my face that at least I’m going to be an ambitious failure. And this makes it all the more worthwhile. Its real champion jockey stuff. But still, it’s kind of weird because in real life Dad never meddles in my life. Yet now, in my every waking moment and unbeknownst to him, he’s my driving force.

 

***

Tick tock.

 

Next stop: the promised land. Escape. Destination the real me.

 

I’m slowly getting there despite the time it takes to extract myself from the office. Christmas is almost on us so I play low-key, trying not to be smug or over-cook things. Nevertheless, there are repercussions. Susan bursts into my room. It’s after coffee so she and Dad must have talked. Oh, maybe I skipped telling you that we’ve cooled, Susan and I. To make a long story short, it’s like the night we snogged never happened and we’re all fight since, venomous, pheromones and testosterone colliding.

 

‘Louis, did you say anything to your Dad?’

 

Ya, you’re right, I do flinch on mention of him. Anyway.

 

‘What about?’ I ask.

‘About me.’

 

I spit out a laugh. She’s unmoved. She stands there, statuesque, permanent-looking, her mouth agape, conically, roosting a hand on a hip. She’s going nowhere without answers.

 

‘Get over yourself’ I say.

‘I mean about a possible job.’

‘No, why? And where?’

‘Here.’

‘Nope. Shur, isn’t Dad retiring?’

‘Last week he said he was keen to continue.’

‘That was last week.’

‘And?’

‘And the world changes every day! Anyway – continue, without me? Get real. I don’t think so.’

‘You know something Louis, you’re a fucking prick. An arrogant slime-bag.’

 

I consider the insult. It’s not rehearsed enough to be a full-on shit-fit. It’s more improv spur of the moment stuff. Handbags.

 

‘Susan, go brush your fucking hair before you say something you regret.’

 

She already has. Now I have too! I’ve put it out there. Both our little secrets. She musters a weak squeal.

 

‘What? My hairbrush… you!’

‘I’m only jostling. Stop being so quote – unquote – precious!’

 

There’s a heavy silence. There’s no calming us. Hate is in the air. Susan winds out a middle finger and with pursed lips fixes me a fuck-off look before wheeling about and steaming off. I’d like to sketch her so, with that stern look framed on her juvenile face. In charcoal. Make art of her, history, although we have none.

 

I look around. All my files are gone. My office is empty. My obsession is over. There will be no more awkward Valentine Days. No more denying me; no more withholding.

 

Susan leaves me confused: confused about her; confused about me. As she presents her alluring ass for the last time I wonder why I never pinned a sticker to her back reading: ‘I’m uptight. Fuck me hard please.’ You know, looks aside, she really has few other attributes.

 

We’re finished just as I’m starting to think that all along I never really liked her. Like, really really. As a real person.

 

‘I’m leaving.’ I shout. ‘Have a good one. Oh, by the way, there’s a note stuck to your back!’

 

Time served.

The gates open.

Release.

A new beginning.

On foot.

Without a horse.

Without a knighthood.

(Yet)

 

I heave myself from my chair one last time and leave the building, walking into the next phase of my life.

Unapologetically.

Ho ho ho.

Merry Christmas.

 

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[1] I know what you’re thinking: I’ve no co-creator; no girl. Ok, lets solve it: apply within, scaredy pants.

[2] Ok, we won a big case. It’s the 3rd case Susan’s hairbrush helped me crack and because of its assistance I’ve been nice to her and all gentlemanly in case I jinx the hairbrush voodoo.

[3] As your trusty chronicler I must distinguish my bewilderment from the facts. Fact: she frenchied me. First. Kind of. I think. Remember, my thinking is a little hazy. Whiskeyed.

Diary 14: Arrested Development

[CLICK ON AUDIO BAR TO LISTEN INSTEAD OF READING. POST COMMENTS AT PAGE END.]

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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