First of all, let me say I have no illusions that I can explain myself any better – everything’s already been said, I don’t recognise the facts as described, no weapon was involved, a weapon is hard and dark, this was desire, unadulterated desire for an escape route, I want to take the opportunity to test my memory for watertightness, here – the old staircase to her front door on the second floor, a filthy, kitschy spiral staircase, on the first-floor landing an old man was rolled up roughly against the door, he mumbled something, I don’t think he saw me or spoke to me as I stepped over him like a muddy puddle, each of us in our own feverish dreams, and then further up, with the third step from the bottom that was still missing, then I was on the second floor, and as usual I looked out of the small oval window onto Long Street and I saw a group of people saying goodbye to each other with lots of gestures, outside The March of Time, not The Coco Nightclub like the report says, I remember thinking how I wished I was one of them, how resilient I’d be, the door of her little flat was open, the testimony doesn’t match on that point either, she and I had a appointment that evening, she was unemployed and so was I and she’d said don’t come too early, I won’t be alone yet, you know where to find me, and I did, three years earlier I’d hidden away in that same little room, for the same reasons as she was doing now.
I didn’t call her name as I went in, and in the semi-darkness I was seized by a furious sense of melancholy at the sight of the decorative plastic beams that I had personally sealed to the ceiling, the framed poster of a young Grace Jones that I’d hung up next to the toilet door; and it was above all the smell that shut off my mind, the overwhelming wet smell I’d had to manage without for so long, a scent of stagnant water, sex, weed and roasted peanuts, my whole body started to tremble, with desire and disgust, I thought I could hear her somewhere, in another room, the trembling kept on, I walked soundlessly back out of the door and on the landing I began to pray, to pray as I’d never done before, very loud and without a sound, for suddenly it was all about to go wrong, I really don’t remember how long I stood there, I could hear the man making gasping sounds in the stairway, and apart from that I was alone.
When I’d calmed down I plucked up my courage and went back in, in the doorway I quickly undressed, you must be wondering what had got into me, and I crept into the tiny living room, like a giant lizard, growling softly, all muscle, I couldn’t hear her any more but I could smell where she was, the metallic stink of blood penetrated my nostrils, I slipped into the little bedroom and yes, there she was, in bed, well, a mattress on the floor, naked in the artificial light, her back to the wall and her knees pulled up so I could catch a glimpse of her snatch, she was smiling a pitying smile, seemingly unsurprised, her flashing teeth and blood on her breasts, in her pubes, thin dark-red stripes from her legs down to her lovely slim feet, the sweet shock that she was naked, I could smell her sweat, taste my own horniness, like a head cold, and I wanted to lick her clean and I knew she knew what I wanted, and she knew I knew she wanted the same thing, it made our conspiracy complete, she opened her legs a bit, making me feel utterly dizzy, then I straightened up.
She was so close and yet she was already dead, Your Honour, a bit later I was bleeding too but she wasn’t injured, like me she was unarmed, she and I, we just couldn’t cope with the knowledge of a new beginning, of the sunlight, of the terrible dazzling, of the aimless expanse between Long Street, Bree Street and Adderley Street, day after day, hanging round at the end of platform 22, sheltering beneath the rumbling viaduct, like cockroaches, you don’t know what it’s like to be so invisible that people give you a wide berth, then all you’ve got left is your body, then there’s just skin and skin, blood and blood, my fingertips stroking the insides of her thighs as I bury myself in her, her feet caressing my back as I make her forget ourselves, bent, concentrated, this is heaven, I lick her toes, one by one, as she lies on her back with her legs raised and I thrust into her – please tell me if I’m going too far – her firm, small breasts jiggling up and down, then she crawls on top of me and she rubs blood over my belly, into my hair, I can taste her saliva and she slurps and it lasts so gloriously long and we gush, our pelvises crashing together like antlers, the soupy sounds are only hers and mine, and she looks at me and I keep looking at her and I recognise her and I remember I’ve forgotten to shut the front door – sleeping, dreaming, sweating – I hear a siren wailing, somewhere near Lower Long Street, louder and louder, and I think how much I love this life, and she screeches, as shrill as a fruit bat, one day I’ll forget her and day after day I feel no regret.
Click here for more Short Stories