Last Night’s Lover

(this is the last excerpt from Horrendum Pudendum before publishing, later this year)

  • Are you really on OnlyFans as Kinky the Curious Clown because I couldn’t find you?
  • No, I don’t need to be.

The above bit of dialogue was the last thing he remembered saying to Percy before his memory blacked out. He’d asked the question not long after getting back to her place from West Seventy6, which meant a large portion of the night remained unaccounted for.  

In the morning, he woke with clogged nostrils. Beside him lay Brittany, softly snoring. She was turned away, sleeping on her side, and her short black hair, an inch long at most, made her unrecognizable in his groggy state. Who is she and where am I, were pressing questions that didn’t get answered until he saw the rainbow wig on the floor. Moments later, the red ball nose shot out from under the bed, followed by a black cat, not much bigger than a kitten.

Breathing through his mouth, along with the dehydrating effects of alcohol, had turned his tongue into a desiccated, foreign object. It wasn’t until he went to the bathroom for some water that he noticed the dried blood on his face and penis, the sight of which jogged his blacked-out memory. Are you brave enough to get blood on your sword? This question was accompanied by an image of Percy on all fours, looking back at him with taunting eyes. After rinsing off in the sink, he returned to bed and attempted to cuddle with last night’s lover, waking her up in the process.

  • Please, don’t.
  • Okay… I—I just thought…
  • You thought what?
  • Nothing. I’m sorry.

She wearily raised herself up to the sitting position, swinging her legs off the side of the bed. A glass of stale looking water sat on a cluttered nightstand and she drank from it, wetting her lips before setting him straight.

  • Hope you’re okay with the mess.
  • I’m definitely okay with it.

The eager sound of his voice grated on her ears and she felt a cruel anger lick at the inside of her chest like a cold flame.  

  • Bash, you’re talking to Brittany now, not Percy. I’m not as fun as her… And I’d appreciate it if you left as quick as possible because I’ve got a phone call to make, and then I need to get ready for work.
  • Uh, can I see you… I mean, does Percy wanna hang out again sometime?
  • You’d have to ask her.
  • How do I do that?
  • Instagram.
  • Oh, okay.

The musky smell of sex, clinging to his stubbled face, aroused him with each whiff and soon his erection was hoisting the blanket, so he held it down with his hand, despite her back being turned.

  • Last night’s a blur. I can’t remember if I got around to saying why I wanted to meet at the bar.
  • Doesn’t it kinda go without saying?
  • Well, that part does, yeah. But my reason for setting up the meeting in the first place was to thank you for calling me Bash because now I use it on a regular basis. And the colours of your Harlequin patterned costume inspired a lighting palette that’s become my personal trademark at the theatre… I’m about to become the head lighting director there.

Annoyed, she stood up and turned to face him, momentarily forgetting she was naked. Without the wig and red ball nose, she struck him as familiar, like he’d seen her before, possibly in the theatre, but this thought left him when his eyes fell on the slash marks crisscrossing the insides of her arms. Some were fairly fresh; others, scabbed over. There were also what looked to be puncture wounds, a few of which had developed the hard, purplish-black appearance of scar tissue. He’d never been intimate with a junkie before, so intravenous drug use didn’t immediately come to mind. Besides, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because he was already infatuated, and maybe even in love (although admitting this to himself would take a while longer). After glancing down desirously at the pink folds of her shaved vagina, he took in her long, skinny legs, and a number of bruises thereon.

She’d quickly folded her arms over her pendulous breasts because, in her angered state, he seemed to be judging with his eyes, assuming the moral high ground, but he wasn’t. To him the slash marks were scrapes from some kind of accident, and the puncture marks were spider bites, or possibly eczema itched raw. Nevertheless, the sight of him still lying there in her bed, chatting away after she’d asked him to leave was itself enough to make her lash out.

  • For the last time, I’m Brittany not Percy. If you want, I’ll pass your thanks along but right now, I need you to go!

He shrunk out of her bed, got dressed, and headed for the front door, stopping abruptly at the sound of footsteps pattering up behind him.

  • Wait, Bash! Sorry, if I sound like a bitch. I’m not a bitch but I’m also not Percy… Look, you know a bit about acting, working in the theatre like you do, so you’ll understand me when I say that when I’m not in character, I need a lot of personal space. It’s—it’s a professional thing. Don’t be offended… I like you, and we’ll see each other soon.

A night of soft warm flesh brightened into a hard new day as he left Brittany’s house with a smile curling the corners of his mouth. Telephone poles lined her quiet street, exactly like they did on any other street, and the wires between them held starlings that resembled other starlings he’d seen, yet everything was different because now it served as the setting for a story about two people instead of one, both practising the art of dying like a Zen exercise in futility. She knew better than him how the story would go, but they were dual protagonists and the denouement was sure to be poignant, perhaps even beautiful.

Through her bedroom window Brittany watched Bash. She smiled to herself at the spring in his step. It was a genuine smile that flattened back into an indifferent line when he rounded the corner at the end of her street and disappeared from view. Then she turned and headed for her late father’s bedroom.

The room itself looked unchanged by the passage of twenty years. It could’ve easily been a museum exhibit recalling the day she dialed 911, minus the gory mess. Plump pillows and taut blankets were genuine artefacts on a single bed. Neatly folded socks, underwear, T-shirts, and jeans filled the drawers of a dresser. Button-down shirts and three-piece suits hung in a closet. An electric razor sat on a sink counter in an ensuite bathroom next to a toothbrush, a tube of hardened toothpaste, and a yellowed bar of soap. There was even a roll of toilet paper brittled with age, hanging on a holder.

Only keen eyes would’ve spotted signs of more radical change. Foremost of these came from a carpet looking much newer than everything else because the original had been permanently stained by blood, followed by the fluids of putrefaction. Above where the stains would’ve been, there was a section of ceiling that’d stopped the bullet after it exited her dad’s skull. This was patched and repainted by an expert who pitied his client, and therefore did exceptional work for next to nothing.

A white bedside table held a brass urn of ashes and a black, touchtone phone that rarely gathered dust, despite the fact that the lines in the house had been dead for years—ever since she’d gone wireless. This phone still worked when she needed it to, in its own special way.

With the receiver in hand she fell back on the bed and began exactly like she always did: Dad, I hate you as much as ever but I’ll always love you more… It’s been a week or two since we talked. You know I’m gonna be thirty-seven soon? I was a perky seventeen-year-old when you left and now my big dumb tits are threatening to drop down to my bellybutton. Under the dye my hair is pretty much all grey. And my face is beginning to harden, like an old whore’s. Y’know sometimes I feel like a whore? I’m not, but when I’m making those dying kids laugh for a paycheck, well, fuck, I know it sounds crazy, but every now and then I get to feeling like the grimmest whore in the history of whoring… I guess these track marks don’t help. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can hear you calling me reckless and ungrateful like you used to, and I suppose all junkies are. I mean, we’re given these bodies and all we seem to wanna do is kill them. You can relate to that, though, right? Sorry… Actually, no, I’m not sorry. You blew your fucking head off and I didn’t know until you started dripping onto the kitchen table, ASSHOLE… I—I’m in a bad mood right now, dad. I’ve gotta go to work and I barely have enough stuff to get me through the day, let alone the week. I really hope Bash can help me out. He seems like he’d be willing to. I just need a bit more time with him, and don’t you dare go judging me. The stuff on the street these days when I can find it is full of fentanyl. It almost killed me once and I’m not gonna let it happen again. Yes, I’m your daughter, but unlike you, I’m in no hurry to die. I like making those doomed little sweethearts laugh and I wanna keep doing it for as long as I can. Anyway, I’ve done my research. Bash’s parents own and operate a pharmacy and like most pharmacies it’s got a big ole bin full of meds that’ve been returned for safe disposal. Inside that bin there’s gonna be a treasure trove of leftover opioids returned by old folks who’ve had hip surgeries or hernia operations, and why shouldn’t they all be mine? I mean, they’re just gonna get thrown out and that’s just a shameful waste… I—I only need him to do this for me every now and then, so I have a safe stash to fall back on when the stuff on the street gets laced. I’m positive he knows what the alarm code is, and if he doesn’t, then he’d be able to figure it out. He’s smart, dad—smart and a little nerdy and you know that’s what I go for. Sure, it’s a long shot but I’ve gotten guys to do crazier things. Plus it’s ethical. And besides if he gets caught his parent’s won’t prosecute their own son. He seems like a sweet guy and sweet guys come from good, loving families. Okay, that’s my rant for today, dad, because I gotta go do my medicine and then head off to work… I still hate you as much as ever but I’ll always love you more. Bye for now.

She left her dad’s crypt, closing the door softly behind her, before hurrying off to the main bathroom, where she kept her works and stash well hidden. In quick succession, with the hands of a seasoned pro, she cooked up the last of her medicine and through a cotton ball filter, drew the hot brown liquid out of the spoon with a hypodermic. After flicking the barrel with her finger and purging the bubbles gathered at its top, she set the syringe down, and synched one of her dad’s silk ties around her thin bicep. Then came another fruitless effort to find a non-collapsed vein, so she pressed the tip of the needle against a patch of purplish-black scar tissue and pushed harder, and harder, and harder, until she broke through into the mainline at the crook of her elbow. A quick plunge of the plunger sent her floating off to Clown Town where nothing much mattered. In Clown Town pain was an abstraction/a toothless nuisance/a bother that bothered no more, and she slumped a little as tension and discomfort left her body, making way for the beautiful nothingness/the divine emptiness/the holy desolation/the godlike vacancy she needed for getting into character. With a deep breath and a slow, rapturous blink of her eyes, Brittany waved goodbye to Percy who stepped in and took over, once again piloting their shared vessel through the wreckage of a world being destroyed a little more everyday by billions of amateur clowns.        

7 thoughts on “Last Night’s Lover

  1. Wow – a lot to digest. I am going to have to reread. The use of bullets instead of quotes makes these conversations clinical – like a doctor’s notes. Interesting technique. Is there another POV about to emerge? Perhaps from the crypt?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jan. Thank you. No, the bullet points are simply a quirk of the wordpress word processor. I use a small dash/hyphen to indicate the change of speaker, and for whatever reason they get turned into bullet points, which do have a very different feel–sorta clinical, like you say. If you’re wondering, I made the decision a few years back to do away with the conventional he said/she said dialogue tags because I found them to be grating. It was a choice influenced by Cormac McCarthy’s streamlined approach. I can see how it might be off-putting to some readers but I haven’t had any negative feedback about it yet, and this’ll be the third book done in that formatting style. Regarding an added POV, I did briefly toy with the idea of inserting the ghost of her father into the cast of characters but couldn’t bring myself to follow through. I think, effectively, he’ll still be a character via her regular dead-telephone talks with him. Besides, I’m not big on the supernatural despite it being an element of Gothic lit. My ‘gothic’ relies solely on the grotesque aspects of life; the more believable the better, IMO.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder how prevalent schizophrenia becomes with heavy, hard drug use? Alcoholics often become other people when drunk. Is it a side effect, or desired intent? Given the choice, and it seems to be true, Brittany would prefer to be Percy. Now, does Percy ever yearn for Brittany’s life?
    Some say, write what you know. Any truth to that here?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Anony, I seem to write a lot about schizophrenia in one way or the other. A few members of my extended family were afflicted, so I suppose it’s somewhere in the genes. Did I get a touch of it? Maybe. It would explain some things. Anyway, thank you again for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Aaron,

    Well, this reminded me of scenes from Drugstore Cowboy. I’ll send you one clip of just William Burroughs from the film. It is if he was doing his best David Lynch, but, of course, it was his best William Burroughs. Anyway, I kinda liked the bullet points for dialog. You might consider that, but it totally depends upon how you read the dialog in your mind. Which raises another point I’ll write you about. Not this one. Marks on women’s arms and legs, etc. When I would have a relationship with a woman who did a lot of drugs, I always felt like I was never really there and my mind would wander, wonder and time would pass. Then one day, I’d be gone and later I’d hear she died or was in an accident or in jail. It was the consequences of our relationships that I used to build my own life. Last night I woke up with a revelation: women often give themselves unto us for safekeeping. I didn’t really understand that. Never did. They had an expectation that if we were intimate, even when everybody was high (maybe more so when high) that there was a commitment and future and when it didn’t work out, they were hurt way more than I was. I never understood that, since I’d always been honest with them. But that was not really the point. The point was the life between men and women is all about the woman giving herself unto you for safekeeping. I really believe that even the strongest woman has a little part of her that wants protection from her partner. It is certainly true for me. As a man it helps to have a woman who’s got your back and is alway there to help. That’s the important part of the whole scene that I never got until much later. Fucking idiot, it was about safekeeping. Sometimes terrible problems have a very simple answer. Good luck on the new book. I’ll send you the email now. Duke

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.