I shift the battered leather suitcase from my left to right hand, take the half smoked Lucky Strike from my lips and exhale, walking, cowboy boots kicking the litter that blows across the oil-stained bus station forecourt from the stinking, shouting maw of Leeds Market.
People are shuffling.
They shuffle looking up at bus numbers, terminal numbers. They shuffle looking down at tickets, coins, notes, purses.
I’m walking, striding out, boots making a satisfactory click and clack across the cracked tiles of the bus station, head and shoulders taller than everyone else, confident, young, cocky.
I am in my pomp.
Just turned twenty one, thick dark, curly hair falling over my shoulders, leather jacket, tight jeans over cowboy boots that cost me two weeks wages, their heels pushing my height close to six foot six. I am an exotic bird compared to the dull bus station plumage, a peacock amongst pigeons.
I am would wear sunglasses but even I can’t pull them off in an early nineties Leeds. Sunlight is a rare visitor, the North being smothered by constant cloud and the last remnants of two century’s of smog. Wearing sunglasses in such low light might end in an ugly demise beneath the wheels of a National Express coach destined for Darlington – a most un-Rock ‘n’ Roll way to die.
With unhindered vision and a sense of purpose I find what I’m looking for. Gate 3, the 9.45am National Express Coach to Newcastle.
I check my watch.
It leaves in twenty minutes.
I think about refreshments, then I think about coffee and the effects it might have on my notoriously fickle digestive system, then I decide to pass.
I don’t want anything to go wrong.
I climb onto the coach, slide my case into the overhead compartment and settle into my seat.
As I stare out of the window I hear a wheezing and mumbling in the isle. I glance up at a young couple, a similar age to me yet somehow infinitely older.
Heavily anoraked, matching haircuts from a market barber, dumpy and dull, they shuffle and mutter and mumble their way into the sets across the aisle from me.
Carrier bags bulging with clothing and tat are squashed overhead before they ease themselves into their seat with faux-octogenarian groans.
She says, “Are you alright, love?”
He says, “Ooh, I think so, love. I think so.”
She says, “Is it your back, love?”
He says, “It’s my feet, love, my feet.”
She says, “Ooh, not your feet, love. You’re a martyr to your feet.”
He says, “I know, love, I know. But what about you, love? Are you alright?”
She says, “Yes, love, I think so, love. But my hips, love. Ooh, my hips…”
He says, “I know love. You and your hips. You’ve suffered, love.”
She says, “Eeh, love, what with my hips and your feet…”
He says, “I know, love, I know.”
These people are Nana People, brought up by their nanas. I know the type. They’ve spent so much time around OAPs they’ve become weird young-old hybrids, possessed by the spirit of the pensioners who looked after them throughout their childhood. They are infused with an odd mixture of infirmity and Dunkirk spirit, both feeble and stalwart.
Wincing then sighing, treating one other to slightly pained but affectionate smiles, they each produce thin carrier bags, filled to bursting, half transparent with thick blue and white stripes.
In the market bags are market biscuits, market snacks, broken things and food just past Sell By, familiar crisp brands in Arabic script, bottles of lurid green pop that look as palatable as Paraquat. Before boarding the bus they browsed the stalls of Leeds Market for cheap treats and now they settle down to systematically plough through them.
A steady barrage of rustles, crunches, pops and fizzes begins.
“Fucking Hell…” I mutter under my breath.
There’s a loud hiss, the doors of the coach close and the heavy diesel engine kicks into life. With a beep..beep…beep the coach reverses.
Across the aisle, He says, “Ooh, we’re off, love!”
She says, “Yes, love, we’re off!”
He says, “Are you alright, love? Are you?”
She says, “I’m coping love. Coping.”
He says, “Get comfy, love. Get comfy.”
She says, “Yes love, I will, love.”
The smells of salt and vinegar, chocolate and cola are joined by a new odour. Ripe and pungent.
I glance across.
They have taken their shoes off and the thick reek of unwashed feet gently permeates the back of the coach.
It’s going to be a very long trip.
I decide that I hate the Nana People in the seat opposite. I hate who they are and what they represent. Wallowing pigs, content in their own shit, snuffling though bags of leftovers.
I’m not them, I’m better than them. I want more. I’m young, I’m good looking, I’m going to Newcastle to have sex with a beautiful woman.
I get an electric tingle of excitement, a stirring of the loins.
I rummage in the pocket of my jacket and take out a torn envelope. Inside, two pictures and a note.
The first picture is blurred.
It is me and a blonde girl. We are smiling. We are laid on a bed in a hotel room, our hair spilling around us.
We had met a few hours before the photo was taken in the Mayfair nightclub in Newcastle, a legendary Northern rock club that I’d save up to visit every month or so. My mate and I would stay in a half decent hotel then go out on the town, prowling the rock bars and clubs, chatting up the lasses.
This particular night was a little hazy.
Drinks, pubs, clubs, dancing, drinks, then…
The blonde girl was there in a dress with fruit printed on it, which I thought was a bit strange. Her hair was long, all the way down her back, and she had… well… there’s no subtle way of putting it, massive tits.
You really couldn’t miss them. They were like a dead heat in a Zeppelin race.
She said her name was Tanya.
We danced, we drank, we went back to my hotel room.
But… I didn’t get in.
We made out but Tanya said she’d never do it on a first date.
I was left wanting.
I took a picture of us together on a disposable camera, a blurred photo of a blurred night.
we talked on the phone and she sent me a letter, along with another photo.
A sexy photo.
In the picture Tanya is scantily clad, showing lots of cleavage and stocking. Her long hair cascades down her back.
This picture is slightly blurred too, but clear enough.
The letter is a saucy letter.
In it she describes what she wanted to do to me in great detail, and asked me to visit.
Naturally I accepted.
That’s where I’m going.
I’m going to Newcastle to have sexy time with a girl I met at a rock club.
I cannot wait.
I lean away from the fetid reek of the Nana People’s feet and look out of the window as the streets of Leeds become dual carriageways, then motorways, the houses become fields.
It’s going to be a long journey.
About four hours later the coach wheezes into Newcastle Coach Station.
The Nana People put on their shoes and sweep thick drifts of crumbs from their cardigans onto the floor of the coach.
“Are you alright, love?”
“I’m alright love, I think. Bit stiff. Are you alright, love?”
“I’m alright, love, I suppose. Bit stiff.”
I stand up, grab my case and stride down the aisle of the coach, down the stairs and into the cold Newcastle air.
I light a cigarette, take a drag, look around.
It’s a similar scene to Leeds.
Shuffling, shuffling. Two people hugging, someone’s mum waving, a tramp looking through a bin.
I look again.
The mum is still waving.
Waving at me.
Do I know her?
She looks vaguely familiar.
Tanya comes clip clopping across the car park on impossible heels, her massive tits bouncing alarmingly under her sweater.
People stop and stare.
I want to crawl back onto the coach.
Her hair is scraped back into a messy ponytail and she has no make up on, which is absolutely fine, but it reveals that she is older than I originally thought.
By about twenty years.
“Yoo hoo! Luci pet! Over here!”
An old man wheezes behind me. “You lucky wee cunt!”
“Yeah…” I reply.
Now, I know it’s a popular fantasy – the older woman, Mrs Robinson, Milfs, cougars – and I’m definitely up for it, but something doesn’t feel right. I knew she was older than me, but I’d thought by five or six years.
This woman is over twice my age, and she looks hungry.
I gulp, stepping forward.
“Now then, love…”
She lunges at me, pressing her tits against my chest and pushing her tongue down my throat.
She tastes of chips.
She pulls away and grabs my bag, swinging it around as if it were empty, and pulls me towards a battered Volvo parked illegally in a bus bay.
“Safe journey, pet?” she asks, grinning an impossibly wide grin. “All good? Y’eaten yet, pet? No? Y’need y’strength, y’know?”
She winks at me.
Everything she says is a double entendre. I find it confusing, not knowing wether to drop into the Carry On vibe or just answer honestly.
So I say, “Erm…”
I’m not often lost for words but I’m all at sea.
She winks at me again and licks her lips, bats her lashes.
It just looks ludicrous.
There’s food crumbs on her sweater. A coffee stain.
She giggles, “Hey, me eyes are up here, cheeky!”
I realise she thinks I was staring at her tits.
I feel myself blush. “Oh, no, I was…”
“Don’t worry, pet. I’m used to it!” She winks again, slides a hand behind me and nips my arse.
I accidentally let out a rather camp, “Ooh!”
She giggles again, opens the Volvo and slings my case in the back.
“Hop in, pet!” she says, climbing into the drivers seat.
I get in, and barely get the door close before she floors it.
I fumble with the seatbelt as the Volvo lunges into traffic, screaming brakes and beeping horns coming from left and right.
She presses a cassette into the tape deck and hair metal blasts out, Mötley Crüe or Poison or some other shit.
I shout, “SLOW DOWN A BIT!”
She winks again and shouts back, “I’LL SHOW Y’THEM LATER, CHEEKY!”
I give up.
We hurtle over the Redheugh Bridge and I can see the Tyne Bridge in the distance out of the passenger side window.
We are leaving the city.
I shout, “WHERE ARE WE GOING?”
She just grins and winks.
She changes gear, leaves her hand on the stick for a moment, then moves her hand over onto my thigh.
Her hand creeps, finds my crotch and begins to gently rub.
Despite my worries I’m instantly hard.
I see this as terrible treachery on my penis’s part.
There are problems, things occurring that are out of my control, yet my cock behaves like a stupid lap dog, panting and wagging at the slightest attention.
We are now on the A1.
I still don’t know where we are going.
I wonder if I’m being kidnapped.
She’s still rubbing my crotch.
There’s a little wet spot of pre-cum soaking through my jeans.
I feel wretched.
Without slowing, we veer off onto a slip road.
I grab onto the door handle to steady myself and attempt to hit brakes that aren’t there with both feet.
Tanya nods at something up ahead. She shouts, “THAT’S WHERE WE’RE GOING, PET!”
I blink at the horizon.
Oh, good, I think. We’re going to IKEA.
I’m a bit past caring anymore.
I wonder if I’m going into shock.
The car sails past IKEA and swerves hard left.
We shudder to a halt in a parking space.
She kills the engine and the stereo goes quiet.
My ears are ringing. My heart is hammering and I feel like I can’t breath.
I manage to stammer, “Where the fuck are we??”
Tanya giggles again. It’s already getting right on my nerves. Middle aged people shouldn’t giggle. It’s creepy.
She says, “Open the glove box.”
I pause, shake my head, then open it.
There’s a photo inside.
I take it out.
It’s blurred photo of what looks like a valley, taken from over head, maybe from a plane.
I look puzzled. I say, “Where’s this?”
More giggles. “It’s my foofee, silly.”
I say, “What… what’s a foofee?”
She waggles her eyebrows and winks. Again.
I look at the picture again.
I sigh. “It’s your fanny, isn’t it?”
She laughs loudly. “Yes! You can have that, pet!”
She get out of the car.
I sit a moment longer and look at the photograph of a woman’s fanny I just got out of a Volvo glove box and wonder if I have in fact gone mad.
I reluctantly put the photo in my pocket and get out of the car.
It’s freezing cold.
The wind moans over IKEA and hits me side on.
We are stood in front of the Marriott Hotel.
Tanya is already walking towards the doors. She shouts, “Grab y’bag, pet!”
I do as I’m told and trot after her.
I ask, “What are we doing here?”
She says, “It’s where we’re staying tonight, pet.”
I say, “I thought we were stopping at your house.”
She says, “We can’t stay at mine!”
I say, “Why not? Wait… you’re not married, are you?”
She laughs. “No! I live with me parents!”
She says it in a way that suggests she’s far too young to have moved out yet, but this is clearly bollocks.
I say, “Oh.”
We enter the hotel lobby.
It’s warm, and for the first time since I got off the coach I feel a little less tense.
Tanya says, “Wait here, pet.”
I do as I’m told.
She walks over to the desk and talks to the receptionist.
She is given a key.
She walks to the lifts and beckons me over.
The doors open.
We get in.
The doors close.
As the lift rises I’m suddenly slammed against the wall.
She is on me.
Kissing, grabbing, mauling, I feel like she’s trying to eat me.
I reciprocate as best I can but it feels like it wouldn’t matter if I fought back or went limp, it was going to happen anyway.
The lift stops, there’s a pinging noise, the doors open.
She releases me.
She takes my hand and pulls me towards a door at the end of the corridor.
We go inside.
I look around and say, “What the fuck is going on?”
The room is… ridiculous.
It is decorated like a Bedouin tent, with tasselled ropes and swags of embroidered cloth covering every inch of the room. The huge bed has an enormous canopy of sheer white material over it, and all the furniture is ornate and gilded.
Tanya is delighted. She skips around and twirls, laughing. “Isn’t it MAGICAL, pet! It’s the Arabian Nights room! It’s like a scene out of a FILM or something! Isn’t it AMAZING!!”
It’s ridiculous, but I also imagine it’s very expensive, so I don’t complain.
I say, “Yeah, it’s quite something.”
Suddenly she’s on me again.
I think, here we go.
She mauls me for about ten seconds then jumps up.
“Right!” she says. “I’ve got to go but I’ll be back in a bit. Bye!”
She runs out of the room and slams the door.
I get up, confused.
I open the door and check the corridor, wondering if it’s a joke, but it’s deserted.
I go back inside.
I look out of the heavily draped window onto the wind blasted car park and see the Volvo racing away to the main road.
I let go of the curtain and mutter, “What the fuck is going on?”
I light a cigarette, tap the ash into Aladdin’s lamp.
She is gone for hours.
I have no way of contacting her.
I am abandoned in an strange, twilight existence of Sahara indoors, Siberia outdoors.
I contemplate raiding the mini bar but I worry that,
It will be exorbitantly expensive, and
I won’t be able to get it up after a dozen miniature Jack Daniels & Coke.
I prowl the room.
I’m considering fucking it off and getting a taxi back to the station when the door suddenly bursts open.Tanya staggers in, but now she’s transformed.
She has poured herself into a skintight minidress and her hair is down. She has full warpaint on, expertly applied, and I can see how – after a skinful – you might mistake her for someone considerably younger.
She is laden down with a ridiculous array of items so I rush to help, grabbing armfuls of equipment and paraphernalia.
I say, “Where have you been? And while we’re at it, what’s this lot?”
I notice a cloud of annoyance pass over her face, a slight iciness in her perma-grin.
I take note.
In a slightly brittle tone she says, “It takes time for a girl to look this good, y’know, pet.”
I say, “Sorry, yeah. You look fabulous, by the way.”
She brightens instantly. “Thank you! And all this is my camera equipment!”
She proceeds to erect a tripod in the middle of the room and lock a large camcorder to the top.
I frown. “Camera equipment? What do you need camera equipment for?”
She turns to me with what is supposed to be a smouldering expression.
“To record our love, of course.”
I feel a terrible lurch in my stomach.
I say, “Beg… beg your pardon?”
She slides a mini cassette into the side of the camcorder, snaps it closed and presses a button.
A red light goes on.
She whispers, “To record… our… love.”
She pushes me backwards onto the bed.
Two hours later I’m in the bathroom, catching my breath.
I look at the face in the mirror and struggle to recognise him.
I’m trying to get my head around what has just happened.
Tanya had started by stripping me down to my pants before stepping back, turning on a CD player she had brought with her, and, to the sounds of Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’, she performed a striptease.
It was very awkward.
I lay there on the bed and watched, glancing occasionally up at the red light on the camera, as a woman in her mid-forties performed a dance she’d probably learned in her mid-twenties, but now she’d become somewhat heavier than she once had been.
The furniture rattled as she thundered around the room and I wondered what the people downstairs thought was happening.
I wondered what I thought was happening.
The camcorder bounced on the tripod alarmingly and I imagined the ‘recording of our love’ would probably resemble shagging during an earthquake.
The dance finished with her naked at the end of Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’ which was immediately followed by Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’.
At the third playing of Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’ I commented on this.
It turned out that she really really liked Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’, and as such she’d recorded it onto a CD, over and over, for a full ninety minutes.
After the dance she told me she was going to give me a sensuous massage.
With her tits.
To the dulcet sounds of Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’.
She made me lie down and she poured essential oils over her truly titanic tits.
Then, starting with my feet, she rubbed her oily tits all over me.
It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was a bit odd.
I lay there, face into the pillow, as her huge orbs slithered up and down my back.
Then I had to turn over and it all started again.
Yes, it was lovely and everything, but it was still bloody awkward. She kept grinning at me, then I’d kind-of smile back, then look at the camera, then look at her again. Her huge tits kept creeping closer and closer to my face, up my body, until her grinning face loomed over mine, then went past, and suddenly the lights went out as the tits arrived.
It was a bit like being in a carwash.
After that we did all the other stuff.
To the sound of Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’.
Whatever we did, no matter what position – and please brace yourself for this – she kept putting her fingers in her own fanny and slurping her fingers.
It was pretty grim.
I know they do it in porn films but when confronted with the bleak reality of someone incessantly pushing their fingers into their own fanny before slobbering them, it’s a bit stomach churning.
I lost my rag. I said, “Do you want me to call room service for some bread to go with that?”
She said, “I love the taste of my own foofee!”
I thought, ‘You’re Radio fucking Rental’ but kept banging away.
Every position was performed.
It was very orchestrated.
It’s the reason I didn’t climax sooner, what with all the moving around, lifting legs, putting THAT just over THERE, no, not THERE, I mean THERE, yes THERE now DO IT!
When i did finally finish after a full hour, none stop, it was with a sense of exhausted relief, more surrender than triumph.
I lay there, a sweating, wheezing, trembling mess, and I feel her whisper in my ear, “How long before you’re ready to go again?”
I said, “Wha…?”
“How long before you’re good to go again, pet?”
I said, “Dunno… maybe a week.”
She laughed. “Ha ha ha! You’re funny, pet! No, seriously. We haven’t even started with the toys yet!”
She pointed to a black hold all on the floor.
I make a worried croaking noise.
She walks across the room to the mini bar and pulls out a bottle of champagne.
She pops it and pours me a glass.
“Get this down you, pet.”
I neck it.
She pours again, and as I drink, she reaches down and slips a finger up my arse.
I blow champagne everywhere. “Fucking Nora, love!”
She wiggle her finger, and I get an instant hard on.
“There we go, pet! We’re off!”
I’d been hot wired.
I stare furiously at my erection.
‘You fucking Judas,’ I thought, as Tanya straddled me and lowered herself…
So now I’m looking at a pale shadow of my former self in the bathroom mirror.
There’s love bites all over my body, my back is a mess of scratches and my cock looks like it’s been trapped in farm machinery.
“Serves you right,” I whisper at it.
I could cry.
There’s a tap on the door. “Run us a bath, pet! I need to get ready for tonight!”
I forgot that we’d probably be going out to the bars and clubs, Trillions and The Mayfair.
I wearily put in the bath plug and run the taps.
I just want to go to sleep.
The door opens and Tanya is prancing around, naked. She looks as fresh as a daisy. I look like I’ve been in a car crash.
She adds bubbles to the tub and slips in.
She bats her lashes. “You joining me in here, pet?”
I look back at the mirror. The bedraggled, haunted person looking back at me shrugs, climbs into the bath, and it all starts again.
An hour later and I’m dressed, smoking a cigarette, waiting for Tanya to emerge from the bathroom.
I’m wearing standard rock regalia, mostly black, band t-shirt, leather jacket.
I look sharp but I don’t feel it.
She comes out of the bathroom wearing a skin tight cocktail dress that finishes only just below her knickers, fishnet stockings and six inch heels.
I complement her.
She beams that insane beam of hers, and within minutes we’re in a taxi.
Heading away from the city.
I say, “Where are we going?”
She giggles. “My surprise, pet!”
In the darkness of the back of the cab she fumbles with my fly, unzips me, and goes down.
I’m thinking she’s flogging a dead horse, but no.
She does something, I don’t know what, and I’m instantly hard.
I catch a glimpse of the taxi driver waggling his eyebrows at me in the rear view mirror.
I mouth the words, ‘fuck off’ at him.
He goes back to watching the road.
I stare out of the window with an empty gaze until it’s done.
We arrive at another hotel.
There’s a function on.
Men in smart suits escort women in frocks through the main doors where they are greeted with a glass of bucks fizz.
I say, “What are we doing here?”
She says, “It’s my company dinner dance. That’s my surprise!”
“Dinner dance?” I hiss. “These people are suited and booted and I’m dressed like Jon Bon fucking Jovi! They’ll never let me in there, and even if they do, I’ll look like a proper tit!”
She grins that huge, mad grin.
“You’ll be fine, pet! Trust me!”
It isn’t fine.
There’s an argument with the door staff and if it wasn’t for Tanya’s gigantic tits they would never have let us in. The bouncers are mesmerised by about a foot of incredible cleavage, and when they drop their guard I hustle in.
Tanya appears with two glasses of fizz.
I neck mine.
Then I neck hers.
I say, “Where’s the bar?”
The evening is a long, slow nightmare.
No matter how much I drink I cannot get pissed.
Tanya drags me around all her friends and colleagues, introducing me as her ‘Toy Boy’. She doesn’t seem to notice the pitying glances.
They seem to think I’m some sort of rent boy.
At one point, at the bar, a drunk man in a suit nudges me and asks, “Come on then – how much is the old tart paying you?”
I pick up my drink and empty it. “Not enough,” I reply.
I decide I’ve had enough.
I try to slip over to the reception desk to get them to order me a cab, when suddenly Tanya is there.
She hurries me along a corridor, then into the bathroom.
I know what’s coming.
Before I know what’s happened she’s bent over a toilet with her skirt up.
She’s not wearing any knickers.
I say, “Woah, now wait a minute…”
But it happens anyway.
As I kick her back doors in I wonder if I’ve actually been trafficked. Maybe this was it. My days would be spent mindlessly shagging until I’m all done in, like a knackered race horse, and I’ll welcome the man who comes to pitch a tent around me and finish me off with a shotgun.
From the other toilet cubicles I can hear stifled giggles.
I realise she’s told her friends this was going to happen.
I finish the job, pull up my trousers and head back to the bar.
There’s a buffet on the go but I’m not hungry.
Tanya, however, is insatiable. She keeps going back for more, ploughing through quiches, scotch eggs, piles of rice and pasta, cocktail sausages, cheese. More and more food disappears down her gullet and I feel queasy.
Then she starts on the cake.
I’m morbidly fascinated. How can one human being eat this much?
I say, “You do know that’s the eighth slice of cake you’ve had, don’t you? You’re going to fall into a diabetic coma at this rate.”
She just laughs and takes to the dance floor with another drunk executive, who’s wife glowers at her.
I realise the mood of the room has changed somewhat.
She’s been doing this all night, dancing and flirting with all the men, but now their wives are a few glasses deep they’ve started to get fired up. Some are muttering together and I fear there might be a lynching.
Part of me wants this to happen.
When the song finishes I grab Tanya’s arm.
I say, “I don’t want to be a party pooper, but it’s time we left.”
She grins. “I know what you’re after, you randy sod!”
I grimace. “Yeah. That.”
We take a cab back to our ridiculous Arabian tent room.
I sit on the toilet for a while, just to get a bit of peace, but when I come out of the bathroom I see she’s dressed as some sort of mad dominatrix and she’s pressing the record button on the camcorder.
I say, “Oh no.”
She says, “Oh YES!”
I think about locking myself in the bathroom, or bolting for the corridor, but it’s too late.
I little while later I catch sight of myself in the wardrobe mirror shuffling around on all fours as Tanya rides me around the room and whips my arse with a riding crop.
And of course, Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’ is playing for what feels like the one hundred and thirty seven thousandth time that day.
Tanya was having the time of her life.
I was dying.
I wonder how this happened.
What went wrong?
I had done things in the last twenty four hours that I would never have consented to in a sane world.
Everything was sore.
All I wanted to do was sleep.
Eventually I did sleep.
It was the sleep of the dead, interrupted only by occasional dark dreams of bizarre sex and by Tanya waking me up for some more bizarre sex.
She was utterly insatiable.
I was utterly spent.
Dawn filtered through the tent flaps of our Arabian encampment, and I winced as the dried blood from the scratches on my back pulled away from the bedsheets.
“Morning, lover!” Tanya is sat at the table devouring one of two gigantic Full English Breakfasts.
Bile rises in my throat.
“Hungry?” she asks.
“No,” I reply. “You have it.”
Waste not want not!” she giggles and pulls my plate towards her.
I mumble, “I’m going for a shower…”
“Oh, good!” she says. I’ll join you in a min…”
I slam the bathroom door and lock it.
I take a long, long shower.
I hear her try the door handle a couple of times and shout my name, but I ignore her.
When I open the door she is pretending to sulk.
In baby talk, she says, “Why did you lock the door? Have you fallen out with me and foofee?”
I dry my hair with a towel, mutter, “Sorry, I thought I’d left it open.”
I see both plates are empty, all the toast is gone.
Tanya has no make up on. She looks her true age. Talking baby talk… it just seems ludicrous.
I walk over to the window as she heads for the shower.
“Don’t get too dry, pet!” she shouts as the water starts to run. “Why don’t you join me and you can… scrub my back?”
“In a minute,” I reply.
I start to get dressed.
She keeps talking. “I thought this morning we could go to the aquarium, maybe a pub lunch afterwards? I’m already starving! We’ll settle the bill here first. I’m happy to go Dutch, unless you feel like being the gentleman and paying? I don’t mind! Ha ha!”
Did I just hear that right?
She is still talking in the shower, planning our next date.
But I’m thinking, Dutch, on a room I didn’t know we were taking? Dutch, on a penthouse suite? An Arabian Nights themed penthouse suite, at that??
I spot the empty bottle of champagne from the mini bar and flinch.
Dutch, or do I feel like being the gentleman?
My boot heels clatter crazily across the hotel car park and my wet hair feels like it is freezing in the wintry air as it whips behind me.
I run past the Volvo, vault a low hedge and keep running, my leather bag swinging in my hand and banging into my shins.
With my other hand I try to zip up my jacket and soon give up, preferring the biting cold to the prospect of being caught by Her, the succubus.
I’m exhausted but adrenalin drives me on, dashing blindly across the slip road and around the side of a huge shopping centre, just trying to get as much distance between me and Her as I possibly can. I run and run, gasping and wheezing, checking behind me every few paces to make sure I don’t get mowed down by a speeding Volvo.
Up ahead I see a row of buses.
I run faster, almost sobbing, legs buckling like a boxer on the ropes, just wanting to get away.
I stumble along the row of buses, trying to fathom numbers and street names, then I give up and just jump onto the one that is about to pull out.
Heaving and coughing, I gasp, “Anywhere near the coach station, mate.”
He nods. “Aye. Two quid. Here, you alreet?”
I say, “Yeah, why?”
He say, “Well, y’cryin’, like, an’ y’ look like y’been in a feet.”
I shake my head. “Rough night. I’m alright, thanks.”
I get a ticket and go to the back of the bus.
All the way into town I keep my head down, occasionally glancing out of the back window.
My ticket back to Leeds is for four o’clock.
I’m six hours early.
They don’t mind, there’s space. The driver asks me if I’m alright. I say I’m fine. He gives me a tissue anyway.
I find my seat, pull the curtain half closed and shut my eyes, but jerk awake as the engine fires up.
The coach slowly pulls away, but not before I see a blur that could have been a Volvo heading into the coach station.
Or I could have imagined it.
Then I realise I’m being watched.
From across the aisle, he says, “Hey, love, are you alright?”
She says, “Yeah, are you alright, love? You look shocking, love.”
He says, “He does look shocking, love, doesn’t he? Are you alright, love?”
“No,” I sniffle. “I’ve had a bit of a bad experience, and, and my back hurts.”
The Nana People look at each other. She says, “Ooh, not your back! My hubby’s a martyr to his back, aren’t you love?”
“Ooh, I am love. Nothing hurts like it. What have you done to it, love?”
I say, “I girl rode me like a donkey and put things up my bum at two o’clock this morning.”
She says, “Ooh, not your bum as well, love. My hubby’s a martyr to his bum too!”
He says, “But to be fair, you don’t put stuff up it, love.”
She says, “Only your ointment, love.”
He says, “Oh yes, there is that, love. Only my ointment.”
She says, “Listen love, you look shocking. Would you like a biscuit?”
I nod my head. I reach into the market bag and pick out a broken biscuit and I take a bite.
She says, “Have another, love.”
I take two.
I say goodbye to the Nana People and they head off to catch another bus.
I loiter for a minute, look round, then reach into my pocket.
I find the letter and the photos and I tear them up into tiny little pieces, drop them into a bin.
Finally I take the little camcorder cassette from my pocket, drop it on the floor and stamp on it over and over again with the heel of my boot until it is utterly shattered.
I carefully collect all the bits and drop them in the bin.
Then I walk through town, heading for home, feeling tired, weak, and flinching at Volvos.