Cocktails At Dawn

“Oh, don’t mind if I do! Thank you very much. Isn’t that just a sight for sore eyes? A Black Russian in the a.m. Vitreously fleshy. Caffeine intake at its smoothest. For nudging you back into the daylight. A tender kiss of life, to expel the deathly, dried spume from the small hours dousing. Nyx you utter tart, I salute you! For guiding me home once again and delivering me safe and sound into the arms of dowdy old Eos! A toast to … Priapus. God of the vineyard and the other thing of course. Double bubble. All my hobbies rolled into one figurehead. My ideal consort of an evening. A Greek God to top all Greek Gods. Top of the morning after the night before to ya! Na zdorovia! Eis igian!”

 

Present company excepted of course, but I find revenge is a dish best served flush across the bloke’s cranium. Well, the Greeks are all for cracking the crockery. So when in Rome and all that. Besides, they were the first ones to craft an art form from vengeance. No wait a tick, it was my second husband Damon, who really elevated it to Olympian heights. The final word in retribution. Where they look in his unblinking, guillotine eyes and heed there’s no coming back at him. Nipping any escalation in the bud. A la thalidomide.

 

An avenger therefore, ought to be up close and personal. Doesn’t merit the soubriquet, if the recipient is ignorant as to who’s responsible. Nor on what grounds. Eyeball to eyeball, Damon’s was a pinpoint perlustration. The polygraph of his blue ice chip eyes, needling whether a man was with Damon or against him. His laser red sight, locking on to the cornea’s yellow spot. Myself, I was granted more biddable access, always with a lascivious wink. Yet even cherished in lodestone adoration, I never located the bottom of those frozen pools. And when I reversed my polarity through betrayal, I bailed out of my own ducking stool ordeal and skipped the concrete verdict.

 

So you see I had a good mentor. Since when immersed in an alien culture, you can’t help but have some of the local custom rub off. But I suppose I must also bear a propensity for it. Damon always said I fucked like a woman but fought (and thought) like a man. A heady cocktail. Diamond cut diamond. That’s what made me attractive to him. How I could gain privileged entry into his fierce Brotherhood. Honorary member without member. Looking back though, it was merely as some cloakroom attendant, charged with holding the coats. Despite my full VIP laminated pass cutting a swathe, it was certainly not access all areas. God, I am a long way from home. Amaranthine love lies bleeding. Apply a compress soaked in alcohol to staunch it. So then, back to the dish of the day. Garçon?

 

In the beginning and I make no apologies for saying this, but I seem to remember wanting, no needing, total immersion. Held in the elective captivity of loveless matrimony for so long, I’d forgotten how to fly. Squab me, looking to the skies for my saviour. Some bright spark to reanimate my life. A charioteer of the sun, though back home in soggy Britain you don’t get many of those to the pound. Besides I was wrong aspected for any heroic lover. Icaruses tumbled out the sky like moths before a flame, long before they flapped over my horizons. I would have to lower my sights and settle for a pelagic rescue. To plunge part way out into the waters knowing that I couldn’t swim. Hopefully to be borne aloft upon the waves and swept along with the dolphins. Instead, shiftlessly I propped myself up on one elbow, popped my plea into a pinta bottle and plopped it pondwards.

 

I did have a few tugboats give me a pull. The odd adoring Steve here and there. But they inevitably Petered out. Since in my marriage quarantine, I was out of bounds and out of practice. I was washed up, washed out and hung up to dry on a deserted island. Make no bones about it, I’d irrevocably quaffed from the River Lethe. I was a shade of my former self in limbo. (Was it therefore so surprising, I’d eventually recruit someone entirely comfortable in the underworld?) I recall looking at myself in the mirror. Eyes deep-sunken shafts almost mined out. It was so dark in there, the region of sight. Of light. The windows on to the soul so people say. Well at that time, mine were all boarded up.

 

Then enter an older Daedelus, (Daedelus is next to Daemon in the dictionary, it aids my mental structuring of events). With both aerial and sea-borne assaults. Claw hammer and crowbar in hand, the architect of my redemption. Atop his griffon steed, wings displayed so as initially eclipsing the sun. Bearing down on me, til perspective was rendered and the sun in splendour blindingly re-emerged as if tethered in tow. You see how easily I was deceived as to the presence of an Apollonian charioteer? Thanks to Moira’s cataclysmic typo, or Eros’ dyslexic misfiring, I was sent abyssal Apollyon instead. Swooping down, he clamped a talon (Damon that is, not the griffon) on my muff hair and offerred me immortality. An iron grip but no pain, I was hooked alright. Simultaneously, he drew up at my quayside bearing the original bottle, proffering usurious interest on my return from emptiness. Oh he’d refill it alright. My ship truly did come in. A juggernaut which didn’t stop. It ran aground, flattening me in the process. All the inflatable masts and rigging hinged, ripe for insertion. In I willingly popped. Via the neck as per usual. Back into an airless oubliette, only without the William Morris wallpaper. Hey, hey! I’m ready to have my drawstrings burned off now Damon. Set me up proud and tall. But no. Only a whittled vessel in a demijohn. Me up on rails in dry dock. A reberth rather than rebirth.

 

For Damon, revenge was indelicately distilled, distributive justice. Sword, scales, the world and his wife, whatever slid down easily. Anything which was expeditious for extortion. Everything, and I mean everything, was enumerated as front and bottle. Twin gold standards underpinning all of his stock exchanges. The memo-random and articles of association. Innumerable transactions, clinched by forcibly unclenching the other side’s buttocks. Insertion of an assurance clause per third party (any possible insertion to hand), fire (the old red hot poker routine) or theft. Grand larceny of face and the loss of bottle. Broken and entered, or re-entered. The countenance not just shorn of features, but obliterated. Torn off and relocated to that orifice where the bottleneck was currently bobbing in and out with each spasm of fear. While its body is recessed out of sight further within the interior. Vacant with possession. No further endowment required. They’d be shitting shards of glass for a lifetime.

 

Of course I’d never observe any of this first hand. Damon shielded me from it, his very own witness protection scheme. So how did I discern any of it? I mean apart from when he arrived home erection in hand, snaked all round his arm? I’m still not quite sure. I just knew it wasn’t meant for my consumption. Neither the racked human capon back at the abattoir, nor the elongated cock brought home to drain. That was marinading piquant for his trenchermen cohorts to dine in on.

 

See ordinarily, revenge is the farthest thing from my mind. You can sail into my island sound and behold any of the Wonders of the World, ancient and modern. Hanging gardens laden with fruit; the gamut of Sphinxish minxish mystery; even the Temple of Artemis, virgin goddess, if that’s your package deal. Let my clitoral Pharos guide you in. I’ll take you there. I am anything you want me to be. Except a victim. Attempt to gain any other method of docking and vengeance is mine saith this lady. For, though propelled by all things anal as he undoubtedly was, Damon never, ever brought his work back home with him into our bedroom. (A change being good as a rest as they say). Yet the same could not be said for that bloke Georgios, from this so-called cradle of European civilisation.

 

I don’t know if he was trying to get some pre-emptive revenge, or he was just missing his goats back out on the hills. But that final night together, I was not having it. Any of it. The restored me, blackballed from myself, was to be the only one disposed to fuck like a man. And I was highly capable of fighting like one to keep it that way. A revenant from my long-abandoned past. To Damon, revenge was a vindication of his rule of law. Mine is just vindictive. A sudden, spontaneous surge from the seething cauldron. A kicking out against the pricks. A hen party with my witchy friends Nora Pinephrine and sisters Mel and Sarah Tonin. Modern day Graeae.

 

Alright, with Georgie-boy trying to cast a new intagliated relic, henceforth to be called the Corfu shroud, by drilling my face into a pillow, I’ll own that the notion of revenge didn’t spontaneously leap, surge or combust. I mean our consubstantial faculties were otherwise engaged. What with the trial of sequestering oxygen from already inundated muscles, which explained Nora’s dereliction of dragon-slaying duty and Sarah’s noble yielding. While Mel bless her, just raised the drawbridge. And dropped the portcullis. ‘Vagina dentata’? Oh please, not you as well? What is it with you – Oh really? Do I look like I’m smiling on the other side of my gritted labia?

 

No, George wasn’t about a frontal sally. I’ve already stated how accommodating is my port of Piraeus. But a man wants anywhere else in my archipelago, then I will dash him on the rocks of Scylla and Charybdis. A frigid ice maiden that will hole any man beneath the water line, since he is patently unable to navigate her sister’s unruly waters. But we are most definitely talking about one monster igneous incisor, not rows and rows of sharklike teeth, snapping him in half once he is flailing in the depths. You’ve drowned long before that shipmate. Through your own uninformed helmsmanship. Irrefutable proof I think you’ll find, that there’s no such thing as ‘vagina dentata’. Besides, all us middle-aged women have gynaecological-lovers. Modelled after Larry Olivier’s Doctor Szell in “Marathon Man” (which seems to be shown once a month on local television. Something to do with modern day Greek revenge fantasies I think).

 

Damon with his daemonic energy was a marathon man. Fortunately George, despite being native, was no Spartan. Silly sod just collapsed on top of me and passed out. A deadweight pinning me to the bed. Sowing our once lush field with slabs of stone. Like some smooth deathmask being pressed down, over the gnarled cortex of our relationship. Thus interred, with my face chafing to bits on the stubble of the floral mattress, the cicatrix of revenge began to sprout. By dawn that next morning, I had what you could term, an almost fully-fledged, scion of a brainchild. And I ain’t talking about no olive branch either. (See how easily I morph in and out of the various cultures?) I was most definitely going in for a spot of haughty culture on Mr Fetid Cheese, lying there bombed out on Ouzo. There’s graft that takes and then there’s graft that don’t, as my Damon was fond of saying.

 

*   *   *   *

 

 

My name is Karen Dash. Not a patronym sealed in my father’s loins. Nor the title conferred by either of my husbands. No, my assigned identity was forged for me by someone I’ve never even met. Karen Dash. My new moniker. A bit of a giggle. An in-joke on my way out the country. Something the counterfeiter just dashed off the top of his head. My signature by his hand, underscoring another fraudulent black market-rate masterpiece. My moody, as it is known in the argot, passport to limbo. All that was required of me was a likeness captured on film. That image trace in itself, made me nervous. While the word ‘captured’, did little to underpin my equilibrium either. It’s not called a mug shot for nothing.

 

So that’s not a (non-argot) moody pose I’m pulling on the 3 1/2 by 4 1/2. It’s sheer bloody terror! Since dodgy passports was more your filagree sort of work, Terry assured me that was his department. Accordingly, sheet-steel Damon would exhibit no interest or knowledge in it. Nothing that could be tracked back to him. Not like a bleedin’ photo could lead anyone slap bang to me! Yeah right Terry. Terence. Tel. Tezza. We all know the tendrils of Damon’s grapevine possess tentacular reach. Yet he has no reason for asking in the first instance. After all, he believes me to be dead. That Terry killed me for him. Hence Karen _______ . Time to fill in the blanks. Ah here comes my refreshment. A libation to Melete it is then. Or should it be Clio?

 

So you will have gathered that I’m on the run. In a standing still, sitting on my arse, or stretched out on a sunbed, sort of way. Black Russian chased by the first White Lady of the morning. (Between The Sheets seemed profane, given that I’m toasting revenge on a curetted lover). It’s not even noon yet. The dawn of the morning after the night before in these parts. A deserted watering hole in Kavos town. The locust swarm probably now having realighted upon the resort’s poolside bars. But they were here. Witness the chaff of crushed beercans. Broken glass. And vomit stains almost indistinguishable from the trampled food packaging whence they’d germinated, with scarcely a nod in the direction of the gastric middle man’s cut. The unmistakeable slug trail. Leading all the way back to ceded sex. I mean I’m a guest here too, but had to right my own table before I could get served here today for godssakes.

 

I’m used to detritus. The Horse of The Year Show could resemble a warzone. Not in the seats, where all we nice little girls (see I was one once), were far too rapt on some hot horse action to let even a breath pass our lips. Never mind food and its corollary the discard of litter. (A war-crime in the little girl world. Solely superseded by, well the heartless spurning for adoption of the runt from a litter). Only when the power, grace and beauty of these divine horsemen no longer touched us, did the secundines emerge from the shadows as we donned our outdoor livery. Shorn of its arclight radiance, the whole arena seemed to collapse in on itself like a black hole. Over the event horizon, the crushed foliage, trampled into the sand like rank seaweed. The outsized lego bricks of dismantled and buckled fences, having just recently presented such seemingly insurmountable groynes. And of course, the steaming piles of equine shit and urine-darkened sand. The whole thing pretty much resembled a scene at the British seaside actually. Which presumably accounts, for why a myriad of hoarse British lads and lasses of the apocalypse, migrate out here in the Summer. Devil choirs bellowing out their stadium chants and tilling their terraced imaginations, for what passes as entertainment. Entombing their youth and raising our dead. Fresh-faced they ain’t, I can tell you.

 

What we survey before us, approaches your classic gladiatorial arena. Blood included. The starving lions and lionesses thrown to each other. If they don’t sport the three lions of England, or the Scottish saltire upon their polyester and cotton breast, (sensible attire for such a hot climate), then they have it branded into their skin. The cross and downright angry of St George. Rampant astride conquered prey. In the land of the blindly legless, the one eyed trouser snake is king. My people. The people who make me feel homesick and sick of that very selfsame home.

 

Oh yes I’ve had plenty time to compose all this. Since I am in Hell. Cast down, smack between the 18-2-30 plane of Hades. Somewhere in Greece. Couldn’t have been Spain now could it? Damon has too many fingers in too many paellas down there. What with the old lag retirement penchant for the Costas. I have to be (un)seen to cease to exist. Italy was too damn dear. Could have gone to ground in Belgium, become Flanders moll, but I don’t think I could have stood the excitement. So Greece it was. Ricocheting through the verbal brochures of Terry’s quickfire Hobsons. While making a beeline for the airport, in the back of the limo that was imminently to become my purported murder scene. ‘Mykonos for the queers and fag hags. Kos for the hippies and infectious diseases. Or there’s Corfu’. An island that supposedly provided refuge for the fleecing Argonauts. Immutable, mythic Greece. A chance to catch my breath.

 

Turns out Cor Phew’s! emblem is a rudderless boat. Instead of putting daylight between me and Damon, I’ve been plunged into Cimmerian gloom. I’ve attained my immersion now. In the effluvia of a cisternal existence. Playing muff-ti hostess to the invading host of my juvenile compatriots. All of us here, are out on license from mothers or child-hood sweethearts. Pitch(fork)ed forward by our inner daemons. Pissed and peevish. Thereby consigned in Acheron, I will pluck out and tear at my own liver from the inside thank you very much. Spraying my throat daily. Til my urine turns agented orange. A spot of defoliating the lapsed marital paradise. A toxification of my own future landscape. Mutating all non-forthcoming progeny. I need to catch somebody’s cyclopean eye here.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *

 

The piggy little smile on his bovine face didn’t exactly mitigate his cause, seeing as I was already half-way through my animal husbandry. Still, I did pause momentarily, to wonder which little love ewe had parted George’s lips. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. And thus another percolation of garden soil described its path from my fingers, like a grated (dead-)stock cube. This goose is cooking George’s gander. Let’s him soil his own bed for once. I say garden soil, but of course all I had recourse to, were the potted plants in his third floor apartment. A thin, powdery loam, like all the earth in this scorched land. I recollect scanning my cull of cracked and upturned earthenware, back through the bedroom, along the hall and past the living room, all the way back to the bathroom. Some still cupped their blooms bereft of plot. Others had already lost the will to live, limply prostrate on the carpeted desert. The desiccated marrow of life trodden into the pile beneath my frenzied perambulations. My very own slug trail. I exhumed the dustpan and brush, but was able to cull very little. So deeply was the soil piledriven into the warp. Reverse mining. Lead-lined, radioactive revenge. An aptitude that had lain as an untrodden seam. Until I’d met a quarrier like Damon. Just can’t deduce, if it was tapped through the shared aspiration of the good times, or the lonesome desperation of the bad.

 

No time for recriminations, I hurtled pell-mell around the apartment in search of fresh supplies. Yet even now I cannot recall the precise moment of epiphany. When I stood stock still in awe at my own prowess, before fouettéing into the kitchen. (Ballet, another throwback from my nice little girl incarnation). Flinging open the cupboard and there she stood, in all her shiny, reflective glory. Entrée, an industrial size, catering tin of coffee. Or what passes for coffee in these parts, but which I believe to be the slag collected from inside the walls of all the pottery kilns in this clotted country. Its  dimensions were appropriate, given the magnitude and frequency of hangovers the coffee was intended to countervail. Doubtless he’d pilfered it from his internet café. Well now my friend, let’s put it back to work. Slag to slag. Cull to cull. Skull to skull.

 

I can’t even remember going back into the bedroom, I must have glissaded there. Back to gorgeous, glabrous George and the sleep of the dead. A glance over to the bedside table. The digital figures on the alarm clock, indelible bright red, burn into my mind like the eyes of a salivating Cerberus. Soon, soon my lovelies. I picked up another of the long-stemmed roses from on top of the clock and carefully laid it on the surface of the soil mound. So that the flowerhead gently corniced his chin. Three others intertwined on the pillow, skullcapping his shiny pate. He looked so peaceful. Without a care in the world. A slight adjustment, and I gently prodded the stem back down into the earth, until only the flower was visible. Yes, just so. In turning round for the coffee cache, my rear must have clipped the table, as the cackling flibbertigibbetry of two empty bottles seared through my whole being. (Did I not mention? I was jetéd headlong from the ballet, for being too tall, too plump and too clumsy. Once my distending twin orbs ineluctably realigned my gravitational pull). I shot George a frantic look, but he was in a parallel universe. Where the only report delivered by two empty bottles of ouzo was a ‘must try harder’.

 

I steeled myself back into the present and gathered up my whole body in order to regain it. The clock blinked a bloodshot eye as it outlined a new digit, licking its lips in anticipation. I carefully knelt down to the coffee tin and began to lever off the lid with my nail working the groove. Keratin versus cheap metal, a patent mismatch of impatience. The lid took a dive as I frisbeed it away. Hurriedly  I gnawed the sundered frangible, scarcely noticing the sensation of blood welling up beneath the trepanned cuticle. And then it struck me.

 

Saying it with flowers by all means, after all I had bought the roses two days before in a foolish, one-sided proclamation of love. (Albeit he unwittingly provided the funds). Yet while the garland and the one under his chin were spot on, the composition would have looked just ridiculous with flowers popping out all over the earthen mound itself. For this jarred horrendously with revenge’s nihilist nub. Such iconography rather lent itself to George being laid out in state, before his big send off. It bestowed upon him a fecundity that went against the grain. Other than the chin strap, I deadheaded the other eleven roses. Thus wreath became a crown of thorns. No, that doesn’t count you see. Not my symbology. I don’t believe in god. But a yet higher power.

 

Almost time to spill the beans, but hey George, you’re a really lucky guy. Damon would have had you spilling your guts. Sans aesthetical tableau too. A ripple of coffee granules slid down my palm and on to the burgeoning barrow. (I’ve since discovered, that ‘barrow’ has an additional arcane meaning of a castrated pig, what more need I say?) Ersatz coffee made for an ersatz topsoil, ironically of thicker substance than the real thing below. The idea of brewing the kettle briefly flittered behind my eyes, but one of the heads of the chronological Cerberus flicked out its tongue and haltered my attention. Simply not favoured with the element of time. My palm releases another ripple, with gentle cascade by way of a response from the mound. Then another. And another. Til the receptacle was drained. George was just about sufficiently shrouded. Up to his neck in it you might say. I patted the coffee into the configurations I required, before gently threading each decapitated rose stalk into some strategic salient, thorns primed to press the flesh. Dug in, and out of sight. Cameo-flagged, in order to carve my relief on his body. The siege is about to be lifted. All eyes on Chronos now, I didn’t want to make a mess … Of my delivery. This was the big one, when all three LED digits would abseil down the clock face and usher in the coup turning twilight into a new dawn. Here it comes. George, oh Georgie-boy … Wake up and smell the ro- uh, er coff -

 

Coda. The unchained melody of quavering voice and rasping alarm, called forth a minutely tremorous upthrust in his torso. Enchaining a pas de deux sur la pointe for thorns and skin. The downdraught, a pas de chat, a cat’s cradle clawing criss-cross over a man’s membrane. A hundred tiny ploughs foraging furious furrows, in his to be hopefully forever, fallow flesh. Fashioned in an iron maiden of my own devising. Soft spun of tissue, but hard of heart and spine within. The balled fist inside the velvet glove, with just one broken fingernail casualty. The imprint of a good hiding. Some flower re-arranging of his features. I planted one on ‘im. Delicious! George you old fraud, you never were an oil painting. But now I’ve applied some craquelure to attribute you some authenticity. One great big desquamation mark! There’s some punctu(r)ation for you. Hey sieve face, riddle me this. The only thing you are going to be able to pull from now on, is your own perforated sprinkler! Fizzog lit up like a Belisha Beacon’s gonna warn all the little girlies to stop, look, listen and then look again. And then safely cross to the other side of the road. Mourning glory! After my night of the long knives. Or tiny stabs. One slug of ouzo too many, led me to slug that slug of a boyfriend. Well not slug him so much as pour salt in his wounds. Shrivel his manhood. His night of the short, sharp surgical scalpel. This blow-up doll, puffed herself up and stuck it to him. Psss. Down he went. Chronic deflation and devaluation of the drachma. Damon taught me all about rates of exchange. No tete-a-tete-anus, just a straight right jab for lockjaw. Where’s your vagina dentata now, my Ionic man? Self-impaled, hoist on your own petard. You were the one armoured up to the hilt. Torso dentata, chained male. I’ve extirpated you from the tyranny of invulnerability. You’ll have to wear it on your skin from now on. I’ve planted a little canker and it’s taken root. So now you know what it feels like. What it fucking feels like George. Shit! My cup so runneth over that it’s completely drained. The price you pay, for a bit of idle diversion.

 

Cos I can never be free from the tyranny of Damon’s invunerability. A man with the power of life and death beneath his snapping fingers. Veritably a lord of vengeance. And I know no woman can aspire to that level of savagery. That he will always out-trump in depravity. That there are no limits. Though a diamond may well scratch sheet steel, a light blow along a plane of its crystallization is sufficient to dissever it in turn. Therefore I fled such an unequal match. Washed up here, only to be followed by this endemic, pestilential plague to persecute me evermore. Eureka, I couldn’t escape through displacement. No latitude for expiation, only the goading taunts of those unbounded by responsibility. To compensate, I get drunk on this intoxication, til I pass out. Whereas Damon used just to lap it up. I wake up nauseous and remorseful, while he would still be fermenting for maw. A further disparity between the sexes.

 

Of course the seamless gloss of it all only comes from considerable contemplation, long after the event. Sat at bars like this, devising cocktail-fuelled mnemonics. A reconstruction purely in words. A reportage, since the pictures had flashed by far too quickly for me to even catch a glimpse. (In fact, having sown the wind, I didn’t hang around to reap the tornado. As appears to be my wont). I can recall almost everything about the preparations, but the eruption was so rapid, so explosive, that recollection slips through my synapses, my own colander head. Damn. Let me at least dine out on it a little while longer. A liquid lunch.

 

I tried to savour the thought of George down the hospital. Waiting to be stitched up, along with half the population of Kiddy-minster. But even the merest sip of that would soon steal away, as my brain countermined with him using his parochial knowledge to jump the queue. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine him trying to live daily life, reeking of coffee from his every pore. ‘Fancy some eleveneses? Well just lift up your armpit George and decant some instant! Filtered you say?’ But that was too big a vertical leap to hold in focus. Another, dredged up from god knows where. A classic British literary reference, germane to a real life Hellenic tragedy (we’re all in the European Union now, so why not? Though the Euro Zone means I can no longer maintain the deflated drachma conceit); ‘George, you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards’. ‘No mate, the haw hawthorn came to me, unto Dunce-in-name’.

 

I wish I had choreographed it all out in advance. Then all the witty barbs I’ve since projected, could have perpetuated the onslaught. A sort of unfolding radioactive poisoning, after the initial mushroom cloud type of deployment. Maybe a treasure hunt of little ditties placed throughout his apartment. Just to keep pricking the scabs. Tipping the heaped scales, for that bit longer. Closet conference to have read: ‘Love lies bleeding, love lies limp. Forehead’s receding, you dress like a pimp.’ Bathroom meditation: ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. Always said you were anal, now you’re flushed down the loo’. Kitchen corkboard, affixed with pins: ‘Love lies bleeding, love lies limp. Get some other scrubber, dirtying her hands in your sink’. Required bedtime reading: ‘Roses are red, violence black and blue. To the pisshole in your prick, figured to add just a few’. You simply never think of it at the time do you? Just as well really. Don’t even scan properly. All this is pure embellishment anyway. After all, in the final execution, I mixed my bleeding metaphors didn’t I? ‘Wake up and smell the-’, oh never mind. All that remains now is the perhaps misguided notion, that in extremes of weather be it hot or cold, the little red scars will angrily rear their heads all over George’s flesh and remind him. Of what I don’t actually know. Of some makeover woman’s empty handed revenge. Or empty-headed. There again, you don’t really get variegation of temperature, or anything much, down here in Corfu.

 

That’s one thing I could never fathom in Damon. His pornography of violence. How he could be both inside the brutality and also outside preserving it for posterity? I used to think that you merely had to have yourself think like a man to unravel that stumper. But unfolding before my very eyes, maybe I am being presented with evidence empirically to the converse. For in beating a retreat out here, far from eluding violence, rather every day I am compressed behind a cordon sanitaire. Transfused directly into the heart of the contagion, that is my people abroad and away from home. An epidemic that used to be just about held in check back in Blighty, by flimsy anti-rabidity restrictions. But now unleashed here, under grant of charter holidays. Disposable income, disposable attitude towards other people. Across the Square from me, right over there, is the sort of cut glass they don’t show in the tour brochures.

 

Normally about this time they catch the sun’s rays and put on a spangling floor show. But not today. The lustre has probably been dulled by the blood glaze lining it. Boys and girls making out from here and straight into Casualty. And for what? A bonk? A shag? What the hell is a bonk? A bank that’s gone wrong? Like a liquidity crisis or something? A bonk. Sounds like a gentle prang at two miles per hour, rather than a full head-on collision. I’ve heard of a bunk up, when space was at a premium. Where there was no privacy. When there was no alternative but to do it on a street bed of glass, but no one should need recourse to it anymore. Especially in this flush neck of the woods. And I thought shag was either a type of pile, or pipe tobacco. As in carpet burns. Or pubic hair getting caught in the teeth like, well, pipe tobacco.

 

Rumpy-pumpy, there’s another one. What on earth is one of those, or is it a pair, when it’s at home? These words mean nothing to me. I am only acquainted with them, since nightly they are trumpeted at the top of screeching lungs along the Strip (large ‘S’, yet mean spirited). By the women! Gaggles of female press gangs, impressively transacting non-pecuniary pledges. And then I realise, these terms have been instituted by my fairer sex. Softer, gentler words to replace the workaday terms like nailed, banged, laid, screwed, drilled, pumped, balled, or poked. The doing words. Grindstone honed, that building site of our bodies. Upon which was erected the domain which our manual trades-men built for themselves. Work and play, mutual and reciprocal, to the exclusion of their spouses. So I am moved to applaud silently. Admiring the reflexive litheness of our language. Cheerleading their wresting back a vestige of control. Before you can put yourself in the position of a man, you have to have some conception of being a woman.

 

But as I peer closer at the clinches, they are just girls, or girlies after all. At play, or playing at it. Judging by the preponderance of faux bridal veils. While caricature devil horns and angel wings, further undermines any cogency they might credit they possess. Though they may brazenly take to the street in crop tops and bikinis, still as they walk they hug their own elbows or shoulders. Forearms threaded across their midriffs, as if to reconceal all exposed flesh. As if they are trying to hold themselves together entirely. Up front in one dimension only. Their self-esteem is all shot. Their salty swagger peppered with the shrapnel of anxiety. The exclusively female markets for enhancements, fake tans and accessories, are still predicated on an adjudicatory male nod and a wink. It’s still women dancing up there in cages in the clubs. Our mammaries may now be to our spec, but they are forever fashioned by the male blue pencil.

 

So in fact they are not laying any foundations of conscious change at all. Not ladette so much as laddered. Tight. Binge drinking is just bulimia for those too squeamish to put their own fingers down their throats. What with their demure paunches and their chary beer-bellies. Watch them wobble past. That flesh jiggle corona, in the no-man’s land between abdomen and hips. ‘Love handles’ being just so wide load of the mark. The ensemble rounded off by the peeping thong. An inverted arrowhead, directional rather than warning. ‘Hanky-panky, now we had that one back in my day (as I’m saying it, is ‘my day’ finally over?) Only now, hanky panky is a willowy white slip, raised in utter submission. A wispy cotton-brief lowered in abject capitulation. Bonk must stand for bonkers. A boozy out-of-their-mindedness, bankable sure thing. While the only fibre that is shagged, is their resistance. The bars of their inhibitions jemmied apart by Jim Beam or Jack Daniels. Or a baby-fucking-sham (the very designation of empty sex)! No jiggery, just pokery entailed. The boys are back in town and I’m old enough to be their mother.

 

They can’t quite carry it off. Not like me. Back home, I was more self-possessed and more blokeish than any of these prim whims. I’d lived it for real. Rode the bucking bronco, steered the raging bull, muzzled the untamed mustang. Bareback, not sidesaddle like these prissy missys. I’d broken bread with the Minotaur and demanded my slice of tribute too. Alright, more like crumbs then. Though Damon had tempered me as cast iron, still there were adulterations. Part of me remained feminine and weak. That sweet ingle pincered in the achilles heel of his hand, when he first swept me off my feet. My very own magma chamber. My salve and my kneadiness. My extinction. Hankering after some true emotionality back in the real world. Pre-fall Eden is mind-crushingly humdrum and graceless. Be it lording over terrified toadies in London, or serenaded by wastrel wraiths out here in paradise. Each entails a paucity of feeling.

 

See, I certainly know about alcohol and I know all about making dangerous love too. Christ I’ve spent a good part of my life being boned on the edge of acuity. And over there, broken glass and all, that’s not it. That’s sex for sale so cheap, they’re giving it away. The bottom’s dropped out the market. A perfect knicker-elasticity of supply and demand. So much so that when it’s served up on a plate, ungarnished, it mocks me with its bilious mouldering. See Tantalus, since it was in front of you every day, you should have just abstained. Then you would have observed through its decay, that it just wasn’t worth it in the first place.

 

This kid, one May it was, early in my season, late in his. In fact some football showpiece final. He couldn’t believe he’d got his dates wrong and flown out on holiday before the FA Cup had been played out at Wembley. Never missed one yet he claimed. Still, neither was he coy at all about the chance to get all coital. And here I was offering him the chance to make the beast with two backs, rather than watch a couple of flat-back fours. He protested that the match was more like a tradition with him, so if I could just see my way to sitting on the love bench for ninety odd minutes plus extra time if necessary. Sure why not, the pace of life out here was slow enough, (Greece’d lightning it is not), that one was always waiting for something. Even if it was only your own expiration. I held out for what seemed like an eternity, but was in fact til just after half-time, before deciding to spring his off-to-one-side trap with some defence-splitting ball control and some keepy-uppy.

 

But as we fought each other into a bore-draw stalemate, our post-match analysis concluded that it had only served to detach him from the experience of the game. While in turn, the game had detached him from the blow by blow sensations of the blow-by-blow job. He could remember the result but not the goals. And while he could recall peaking, he could not recollect whether he’d Jackson Pollocked my face or Jasper Johns-ed the back of my throat. (My phraseology rather than his, which was somewhat less decorous). The real condemnation lay however, in that since he was committed to neither team, nor as to me, he scarcely registered irritation at forfeiting the passions of any kind of partisanship. For as he postulated, chips are beezer and bread can’t be bettered, but a chip butty was a monstrous sacrilege of both. (Again I paraphrase, for though certainly abstracted, he lacked the means of even rudimentary expression). But what really relegated him to a notch below a notch, was when he said the whole thing could have been worse. He could have accidentally Jackson Pollocked that nice David Beckham on the telly. In your dreams mate, when we’re talking about his focus being glued to a giant-sized screen mounted above head-height. Even if a portable had been strapped to the end of his flaccid prick, he would have struggled to push the on button.

 

So, I’ve had my fill of glacé eyed, maraschino cherry pickings. Under-ripe I might have expected. But I was appalled to discover that, despite the callowness of their youth, necrosis has already set in. The wormwood gall of woodwormed aspirations, it colo(g)n-ises my perspiration every day out here. I blend in perfectly. That’s why I languish on their side of the cordon. Besides, I know it’s for my own protection.

 

Never mind eh, nil desperandum. But moreover, definitely not nil by mouth. Rather, omnis ver mouth, a salute to omnia vincit amor. A ver-mouth drink, therefore, must now be called for. English Rose or a Creeping Death. Which is it to be?

 


 

 

Black Russian                           White Lady                           Between The Sheets

Coffee Liqueur                           Gin                                          Brandy

Vodka                                         Egg White                             Light Rum

Light Cream                               Triple Sec

Sugar                                            Lemon Juice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

English Rose                          Creeping Death

Apricot Brandy                      Vodka

Gin                                            Dry Vermouth

Dry Vermouth                        Salt

Grenadine                               Orange Juice

Lemon Juice

Cherry



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