Monday, April 21, 2008

The Crowd - Final 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 clich├ęd 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. None of that prepared me for the bombshell which led to me being surrounded by strangers, my brain leaking on to a London street during the lunchtime rush.

I’d gone into the office as I usually would. I knew there was nothing on my agenda – and soon to be nothing on me whatsoever, apart from a sheen of sweat and a naked Jeremy. As soon as I stepped through the swishing glass doors I knew something was up. There was a charge to the atmosphere, beyond the normal hatred directed at me by other female employees – and a couple of male ones, too; seemed Jez was more metrosexual than even he’d considered. I tried to ignore it, head held high, stilettos striding forward, back straight, skirt smooth. I poured myself a coffee from the percolator in the staff kitchen and took it through to my desk in Jez’s office. Before I even had a chance to take off my coat, sip my coffee and place my pert bottom (Jez’s description, I hasten to add) on my seat when Jez came in. I smiled, but he told me to meet him in the usual place. While Jez wasn’t one for routine, even I sensed something – it was rare that Jez wanted to screw first thing in the morning, preferring to take long lunches over which to savour my body.

And that’s why I find myself here, lying on tarmac instead of silk sheets.

I gulped my coffee down, grabbed my purse and mobile and headed out after Jez, not wanting to keep him waiting if he was feeling needy. I got in the car, no word. It was only after we’d been in the usual room for twenty minutes that he broke the news: it was over. I didn’t know what to say, found it difficult to speak – mainly because I had a mouthful of Jez’s cock. I’d blotted that out before, only remembering it as the ambulance man pulled out a piece of flesh stuck in my teeth
You’re lucky we were here, love, he said. We were responding to a call over at the hotel when we saw the crowd. Seems some bloke got his just desserts, he chuckled, glancing at his partner. Hang on, love, what’s that? Say again.

Can you get someone to turn that bloody horn off? It’s giving me a headache.