Sunday, July 01, 2007

It Came from the Sea


That much booze undressed everything. Almost everything. It was three months before I saw you completely naked. Three fucking months. What were you thinking? What was I thinking… I was a literate malcontent with a water-damaged book collection. You were drug-skinny with a taste for anything I could get my hands on. People said that you were too short for me. I tried telling them that you started smoking when you were nine but they wouldn’t listen. Nobody seemed to care. Not even your mother.

From where we were laying the sea looked grey and empty. When I kissed you I could taste broken heart on your cold lips. It tasted sour like winter apples. I needed a drink to take the taste away. On the way to the Cavendish the sky above the petrol station looked orange. You spent the evening putting on lipstick to smoke cigarettes. I spent the evening shrugging off the attentions of my fellow scum-bags and upstarts, soaking up sin in a manner not dissimilar to us. You were fascinated by the wet-look perms and raw violence on offer. I was fascinated by you and your surreal promises. A watery looking guy with a greasy pork-pie hat tried to sell you a shoe-box full of unconvincing photocopied banknotes for a tenner whilst I was in the toilets. There was anguish in his yellow rheumy eyes when I threatened to fuck him up slowly if he didn’t leave you alone. Illiterate Paignton scam-scum like him were just an outline to me. Nothing but a box of bones blowing smoke in my direction. Later that night when we leaked back towards the beach we saw him in a shop doorway with his cock hanging out, pleasuring some misshapen man or other. Sex and territory. Cash and cock. Sad, horny dreamers always find a way.

The next morning the daylight seemed so serious. One by one my dreams were reclaimed by grey skies. I retrieved my old camera from your wardrobe and took a picture of you before I left. Just the one. You never took any photos of me, I remember that as clearly as I remember the shape of your teeth. I walked out of your head and only turned around once, when I was far enough away. Get far enough away from Paignton and it almost looks pretty. Pretty like a blood-bubble. I wanted to be the photograph sellotaped above your bed. You just never gave me the chance. If I wasn’t that photograph then I knew that this motherfucker would swallow me whole. You and I both know that I couldn’t allow that to happen.

Looking back, the light was too dim when the photo was taken. The shutter speed was pretty slow, too - probably only 1/15th of a second. I think the camera moved, too, but I’d put that down to an early morning piss shiver. The picture ended up blurred irretrievably. When I finally found the negative it had been stored rolled up. There were fine cracks all over it – a bit like on an old oil painting. But it’s you. I can still tell it’s you. There’s no doubt about it. You were asleep, but you looked sad. When I show people they never really understand. Not really. I know that that summer, me and my baby were hotter than the Paignton asphalt. Hotter than a gutter-dog in the sun. Hotter than lipsticked cigarette on skin.


Tom Leins

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