Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Crowd - Later Draft

I can hear the car horn screaming, a constant. Faces swarm, buzzing about me, encircling like vultures. Several people ask if I’m okay, they’re spoiling the enjoyment of the clouds scudding across the sky but I don’t say that; I sense in the disquieting looks that it’s bad form to do so. Right now, at least.

There is a sticky wetness around my head and I reach with my arm to brush it away, but someone tells me to stay still. Without being told I know it’s my blood, it’s something I can sense but I’m unsure of how it came to pillow my head. I imagine it as a red halo, a radiance of my life as it flows from an unseen wound.

It’s then that I look at the faces crowding around my prone form: a woman with a shriek of red in her hair; a man with testudinarious specs on, their stippled form catching the rays of the morning sun and forming macula on his face – they look like liver spots although he can’t be more than twenty years old; an old couple, holding hands as if to stop them falling into the abyss that contains me, their lachrymogenic faces a mixture of pity and shame. I also see angry faces, a gamut of visages irritated at my holding them up, my getting in the way of their daily routines. My first thought was fuck ‘em. I could feel the shudder of laughter travel through my body, but tight-lipped kept it down like the sickness of pregnancy.

Can you talk? What’s your name? Can you hear me? A barrage of questions. I think: at least I’m wearing clean knickers.

Of course, it’s all Jeremy’s fault. I mean, if it wasn’t for him, his actions, I wouldn’t be here lying in the road wondering if my brain is going to stay inside my skull. The fucking deadbeat. I imagine him now, sitting at his desk toying with his bloody Blackberry – about the only tool he knows how to use properly. Actually, that’s unfair. I used to think Jeremy was amazing, the clichéd best thing since sliced bread, et-cet-ter-rah. And he was.

It’s true to say that Jez – he likes it when I call him that – and I have history. Goes back about 18 months. I’d just started at the publishers where I’d been employed to be his personal assistant. I had no previous experience, but I obviously struck a chord with Jeremy because he hired me there and then, no second interview, no meeting the partners, HR or anyone else. Just said to me: you start tomorrow, unless you can start right now? When I asked what he meant, he asked me to follow him.

I got up to walk out after him, but he stopped me short, told me to wait two minutes and meet him on the corner by the Starbucks – he held up two thick fingers in a victory sign; that’s Jez, he likes to gesture to make his point. Well, intrigued as I was, I knew where this was leading and I wanted to be led.

Within ten minutes of leaving the office I was naked on a bed, Jez’s head buried in my crotch. Afterwards, I asked if this was paid overtime. Jez laughed, said he knew he’d hired the right girl for the job and that the job was right for me: I was good at it. Then he smiled; a twinkle in his eye, a wrinkle in his jaw. See you Monday, he called.

I’d fallen on my feet. Or rather, my back. Either way it was good.

Friends were monitive. That I expected. But the ferocity some displayed, well, it was almost as if I’d committed some heinous crime against their children or something. I steered clear of a few people, shall we say. Shame I hadn’t steered clear of the car that’s currently casting a shadow across my prone form. Bloody Jez, the bastard, I completely blame him for my present predicament.

You see, all had been well. I knew about his wife. Admittedly, finding out about his kids had been a mule-kick to the stomach, but I’d hidden my dismay and surprise well, considering he had me pinned to a hotel bed in Soho.

1 comment:

purplesimon said...

Following on from previous draft, added some paragraphs, removed some words.

purplesimon out...