Sunday, April 01, 2007

Armchair Brutality

She sounds like she’s reading her lines from a booklet. His blues are so blue they’re black. They are each other’s shabby consolation.
We’ve abandoned the afternoon streets to dust and heat. An oppressive blend of retina-scorching sunlight, grit and grace. Through the open window I can smell shoe-polish mixed with petrol; city sex and impossible things. I leave my sunglasses on and pour myself a drink. I don’t offer them one. Instead I pass around a blown-up photo of a diseased lung that I found in my brother’s room last night. Rico holds it upside down and scrutinises it. He shows it to Carole, but she acts like she’s not interested. He reaches over and jabs a cigarette hole through her paper dress, playfully. She leans over him and whispers something into his ear in her sandpaper rasp. He grins and laughs dirtily. I can’t hear what she’s saying. The deaf lady next door has her TV on loud again. Sometimes when it’s at top volume I have to sleep in my car.

As the theme tune to a once-popular TV quiz-show seeps through the wall Carole starts to dance in front of Rico. She’s twisting like she’s in a 50s grindhouse – all hips, tits and hushed lust. I make myself comfortable and ease back into my greasy armchair. In her eyes there are glimpses of something a bit like love. I fucked an older woman once. She didn’t look as good as Carole though. Her legs looked like chicken drum-sticks. She was my primary source of sex for over a month, but eventually I got sick of her regular hepatitis injections and walked out.

Carole struggles to straddle Rico’s slumped form, and stands hunched like an old woman defecating into a plastic bag. It isn’t a good look for her. As she swivels lamely, the TV-din next door crackles into raucous applause. Rico is grinning uncontrollably. Carole sways slightly and almost loses her balance. Blood drips from her left nostril and splashes onto her paper dress. I know what that kind of blood tastes like. Rico notices too, and stops laughing. Carole turns and croaks something at me urgently. The fat, detuned TV next door drowns out her words. Suddenly everything stank. A torrential nosebleed erupts, and Carole sounds like she’s gargling blood. Rico looks furious. I scratch my face and re-adjust my sunglasses. Blood splatters his jeans. The room stinks of rotten meat. Carole’s brown watery eyes plead with me. I walk out of the room and leave the door open behind me.

Tom Leins

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