Being The Beginning Sunday, January 23, 2011
1 The Exchange Sunday, January 30, 2011
2 bildende Kraft Saturday, February 5, 2011
3 Gossamer Wings Friday, February 11, 2011
4 Nemesis Saturday, February 19, 2011
5 Odd Shoes Friday, February 25, 2011
6 al-Rûh Friday, March 4, 2011
7 A Love Supreme Thursday, March 10, 2011
8 The Three-Cornered Light Thursday, March 24, 2011
9 Serendipity Tuesday, April 5, 2011
10 The Watchman Friday, April 15, 2011
11 The Upright Way Sunday, April 25, 2011
12 Angels Wednesday, May 4, 2011
13 The Cave of Montesinos Tuesday, May 10, 2011
14 Idols Tuesday, May 10, 2011
15 Nightingale Sunday, May 15, 2011
16 The Perfect Square Sunday, May 22, 2011
17 Haunting Thursday, May 26, 2011
18 The Uncontainable Wednesday, June 1, 2011
19 The Ear of Malchus Monday, June 6, 2011
20 Mauvais Pas Wednesday, June 15, 2011
21 Sinan Qua Non Saturday, June 25, 2011
22 Spirit-Level Sunday, July 10, 2011
23 Witness Saturday, July 16, 2011
24 Alcibiades Friday, July 22, 2011
27 The Vanishing Point
28 The Cat Walks
29 The Approximate Likeness of Being
Becalming Unscientific Postscript
“The observer should be an eroticist, no feature,
no moment should be indifferent to him . . .”
The Concept of Irony
The cold wind that whipped up the dead-dark waters of the canal beside the brooding figure funnelled the spray into icy needles that pierced into his skin and froze one side of his face. They forced him into pulling the parka hood tighter around his head as he gingerly stepped over the detritus of earlier junkies to slide deeper beneath the shelter of the bridge where, in the shadow cast by the streetlights, only his exhaled frosted breath gave any sign of him actually being there. Bloody typical, he thought. Defined by what we give back not what we take in. He dug deep into his pocket and pulled out a bottle. Having unscrewed its cap with fumbling, numbed fingers he lifted the bottle to his lips and drained its last measure. He looked at the bottle in distaste, before tossing it into the water.
From where the man stood he was still able to see the door of the ground-floor apartment in the expensive new development on the opposite bank. Above him, at street level, the estate agent’s sign was rocking wildly in the wind, and proclaimed the availability of Phase 3 and the development’s name, in big, bold letters: THE LACEWORKS. He knew that the name derived from the old canal-side building on the site and watched with some amusement as the letters were dissected by the wind into an open mesh of cardboard mush. He smiled at this, knowing that inside Apartment 2, she was likely to be wearing lace. She liked to make love in its mesh, leaving its invitation on, pulling them, him into the cobweb of her entrapment. At that point he felt his testicles lift with the thought and hoped all the drink he had taken would not interfere with his laceworks. Should have popped a Viagra, he thought, as he felt his crotch.
Reassured he held his hand out into the beam cast by the nearest streetlight and looked at the face of his watch. It was 11.10 pm. Just then, from the corner of his eye, he saw the light over her doorway flicker into life. The door opened and the huddled figure of a man exited, stooping low before he furtively walked away at speed. The door closed and the light went out. He decided to remain hidden in the darkness of the archway for a few minutes, hoping to see her shadow, hoping perhaps that she would come to a window and would look out, look out for him. Time passed as only the time of waiting passes: slowly; defying physics with its laws of expectation. She did not appear as a window-shadow and, disappointed, he stepped out from beneath the archway, climbed the wet steps with some difficulty, crossed the bridge, approached her glossy, blue door and pressed the bell; once, twice before keeping his finger on it.
The light overhead eventually flickered on and the door opened slowly, partially. ‘Quit with the bloody noise,’ her voice said through the gap.
He pushed against the door but it only opened inwards a small amount. The latch chain was still in place, he realised. An eye appeared and then disappeared again. ‘Less me in, Angie,’ he slurred.
‘You’re early, Mac. I said 11.45,’ a young woman’s said dismissively. Smoke from a cigarette escaped through the gap.
‘Jasus, girl. Only by ten minutes or so. Let me in, will ya. It’s an awful night out here.’
‘I don’t want any of my clients bumping into one another. You know that! Those are my rules.’
‘Fuck the rules, Angie! I saw your last trick leaving. Poxy looking character! Whatever do you do for him?’
‘Wouldn’t you like to know? How long were you watching?’
‘Twenty minutes or so. Whass diff . . . difference does that make?’
‘You sound pissed, Mac. I think it would be better if you went away.’
‘Do you mind if we discuss this inside? It’s fuckin’ freezing out here!’
There was a long pause and then, ‘Take your foot out of the way.’
‘Sure,’ he said and did. The door closed again and he could hear the latch being removed. He pushed against it and it opened.
The girl retreated in front of him but hesitated half-way down the narrow hallway to stub out her cigarette in an ashtray on a small table. ‘Go on through, Mac, you know the way,’ she said indicating a doorway to his right. ‘Pour yourself a drink, if you must – though by the smell of you, you have probably had enough already. I’ll be with you in a minute. I want to grab a quick shower.’
As he closed the front door behind him she turned and walked towards a bedroom at the very far end of the corridor. He had never seen inside that room, as it was not the space she used for clients. He watched her disappear. Tall with natural blonde hair falling onto her shoulders she was wearing a silk, embroidered night-jacket that just reached the curve of her firm buttocks. A chain dangled below the hem of the jacket, disappearing into the cleft of her buttocks and a needle-worked dragon near her shoulders appeared to be laughing back at him. She had Mickey Mouse slippers on her feet. He wanted to follow her but instead turned right into the small living room and poured himself a vodka – neat – before he sat down on the soft leather-covered couch. Like a glove, he thought, moving his hand over the surface.
Frozen faces and fixed smiles stared at him from across the room. He stood up to look at the pictures in their silver frames on the mantelpiece: a first holy communion photograph with her parents and younger sister, all golden hair extensions of her; a school holiday photograph with friends, their faces gilded with the freedom of it; her eighteenth birthday party and long-legged exuberance; the night she received her degree in Philosophy and Economics and . . . ‘It is all so fuckin’ normal,’ he said aloud before downing the vodka in one. The white spirit seared his throat. ‘What the fuck are you doing here Mac,’ he asked himself, staring at the pictures.
‘What the fuck are you doing here, Mac?’ a voice asked, from behind him.
He jumped. He hadn’t heard her come in and wondered how long she had been standing there. He turned to face her. The silk gown was still in place but loosely wrapped to reveal a bodice of black lace. The slippers were gone and replaced by high-heeled red boots that lifted her higher, pushing her chest forward and bottom back. ‘You star . . . startled me,’ he said, slurring the words.
She smiled, a thin smile. ‘What do you want, Mac? I’m already in enough trouble for coming forward to say that you were with me the night of the robbery.’
‘I really appreciated that,’ he said. He instantly sobered, knowing what was coming next.
‘You didn’t give me much choice, threatening me with telling my mother, about what I do,’ she said coldly.
‘I’m sorry about that, Angie. I was in deep shit and didn’t know what else to do. I really am very sorry.’ He moved to touch her but she pulled away.
‘You’re always sorry, Mac. For yourself and . . . Forget I said that.’
‘No you’re right. You are always right Angie.’ Cormac McMurragh slumped down into the couch again. Tears coursed down his cheeks.
‘Would you like a coffee?’ she asked kindly.
‘How about doing a line?’ she invited in a matter-of-fact way, as if one was as convenient as the other.
‘Well I do. Excuse me a minute?’
‘Sure,’ he said watching her leave.
He continued to stare back at the pictures until she returned. Her face was flushed and her eyes glistened. ‘Anyway it wasn’t all that bad,’ she giggled. ‘That cute detective, Flatley was very nice about it. I told him that you were my sugar daddy and that I only did it now and then to help with college expenses. More of a gift than a service, I told him, from desperation. He said that he understood and that if I cooperated he would not pursue it any further. Is he a man of his word?’
‘I . . . I think so,’ he reassured.
‘Good,’ she said teasing him with her eyes. ‘Because I might just, accidentally bump into him again, some day. He has a cute bum.’
‘I didn’t notice,’ he growled.
She sighed deeply as she combed her hands through her hair to lift it before letting it fall again. Her chest rose higher and the loosely tied belt undid spontaneously as she pirouetted in front of him. She stopped suddenly and rested her hands on his knees. ‘You’ve always said that you can only afford me once every two months or so. What are you doing here again so soon?’
‘I don’t know,’ he said, leaning forward to pull her gown open and stare at her breasts, crosshatched beneath the lace bodice. He touched a pink nipple, which became instantly erect, before moving his hand down towards her crotch, where he knew the lace ended. ‘I thought we might –’
She pulled away from him and took the glass from his hand. ‘No freebies, Mac! You know that.’
‘Yes.’ He pulled out an envelope with crisp notes in it and placed it on the seat beside him. ‘I thought we might just talk and then perhaps . . .’
She waited for him to finish what he had begun to say and when he didn’t, she picked up the envelope and counted the notes. She smiled. ‘Up to you, Mac! It’s your money and you can spend it any way you like. There’s about an hours’ worth of my time here.’ She held up the envelope, waved it in his face before she put it in the pocket of her gown. She then moved back towards him and taking his hand guided it back to her crotch. She held it there and moved against his fingers. ‘Oh God, that’s nice. What did you want to talk about?’
‘I . . . I . . .’ he began.
Her rhythm against his fingers got faster and faster, her breath came in short fast bursts that blew warm on his face. She curled his fingers into a fist and pressed against him even harder. She was laughing…Mac suddenly pulled his hand away and interrupted in her reverie she glared at him. Wanting to continue she instantly brought her own hand back to her crotch. Her glare changed to a first a look of frustration, then annoyance. ‘I’d actually like a fuck, Mac . . . then we can talk,’ she said harshly.
‘What do you mean?’ he asked, threatened by the demand and the brutality.
‘I’ve had a really weird sort of day, all fetishes and S&M stuff. Distance fucking, I call it, most of it being in the head. It pays well but leaves me randy but frustrated, all that giving. What I’d like right now, Mac . . . What I’d really like right now is a simple straightforward ride, your kind of riding. Fast and furious! Besides which you have a dick the size of a donkey and I need that inside me right now.’
‘Don’t say that. Say it like . . .’
‘Say what, Mac? Like I enjoy it?’ She started to laugh. ‘Come on, man. Get real. Of course I like it. I love fucking, any which way, size or sequence, and getting paid into the bargain makes it even better. This is not some Freudian fantasy, Mac and I’m not your mother. I’m not some ideal, a random dream that you somehow hope we will both wake up from and think it never happened. This is what I am, Mac. This is my being and I love it, love myself for it. Either ride the wind or get blown away!’
‘Shit,’ was all he could say before he got up from the chair. He made for the drinks cabinet on the far side of the room but suddenly and desperately unsteady had to lean heavily against the mantelpiece. His hand stretched out to anchor himself and pushed against one of the smiling frozen faces. The picture of Angie in her communion dress and hair-extensions clattered to the ground. The girl instantly rushed over to pick it up, and then replaced it, carefully lining the frame up with the others.
A chain-gang of smiles, he thought.
She turned to him, her voice softening. ‘Please, Mac. Fuck me first and I’ll then give you two hours of my time. All the time in the world to talk.’ She let the robe fall from her shoulders and stepping forward quickly pulled at his trousers zip until it gave. She pushed her hand deep inside his trousers and whispered, ‘There you are my donkey, come to mama. Mama wants to ride you so hard that you’ll bleed.’
Mac watched as her eyes suddenly glazed over, the line of cocaine kicking in even more. He was having great difficulty focusing. She was looking up at him and whispering the words but it was like she was staring at a nothingness: his nothingness. Like Rio, he reminded himself. He had come to Angie’s looking for some sort of harmony, some sort of understanding, some sort of anything tangible and now, as he watched her suck his cock, all he felt was indifference. It was as if she was, as Rio was, no longer there to sense. ‘Fuck you,’ he suddenly said, pulling away from her. He pulled up his zip and headed for the hallway.
There was a brief moment as she stared blankly at the spot where her hand still is and where he had been. Her pupils oscillated from side to side at first but then steadied as she turned to call after him. ‘Bu . . . but, Mac,’ she slurred. ‘What about the money?’
‘Keep the money, Angie. You’ve earned it,’ he said quietly without looking back.
The door opened and the light above flickered on.