Monday, 7 March 2011

Journey III – Teenage Kicks

It must have been about midday when I awoke again. I went back down to the kitchen and slumped on the sofa in my shorts. I had toast and peanut butter with a cup of instant coffee for breakfast, then thought I might do some washing up but on closer inspection thought better of it. As the morning progressed I saw most of the people from the night before come in and get something to eat. Some took their food back where they’d come from, others sat blearily in the kitchen to eat and flick through a magazine. As the afternoon wore on, the booze and the dope came out (it never seemed to quite run out) and I was content to sit about in a warm aromatic haze.
That was my first day, and pretty much indistinguishable from every other day for the next few weeks. I stopped keeping track. There always seemed to be something to eat in the fridge – not necessarily something appetising, but something nevertheless. As for the washing up – like everyone else, I just rinsed off the utensils I needed and left the rest. There was conversation but generally I couldn’t hear what they were talking about because they tended to mumble among themselves and the music was always on quite loud in the background. They didn’t so much ignore me as not notice me. It was intriguing but there didn’t seem to be any malice to it so I had to accept it.

Eventually the monotony was broken with news of a party that weekend. (I had no idea what day of the week it was.) I asked the buxom girl, whose name was Maureen and who had been the most approachable of them, where it was and how we were going to get there. She shrugged and laughed and said something I couldn’t make out. ‘I’ll follow you then’ I said loudly in her ear and she gave me a look that suggested I’d finally realised something important but I couldn’t imagine what that might be. She wasn’t terribly pretty and looked a bit too young for me but I certainly wouldn’t have said ‘no’ at that stage. Maureen’s hardly a young girl’s name after all. She might have been even older than I was when she died for all I knew.
Anyway, Saturday night came and they put on some loud music and smoked and drank quite a bit before leaving and we were quite raucous by the time we set out. I hung back a little to watch and see what would happen - fully expecting to see the group whittled down as we wandered the streets aimlessly all night. I was apprehensive to say the least.

The streets were empty as before as we noisily made our way. Somewhere a dog barked. Somewhere I could hear the unmistakeable sound of partying, but all the houses we passed were silent and dark as before. We lost a couple of our group at some point but had gained three others by the time we arrived. Nobody seemed much concerned about it.
When we got there I was surprised to find there really was a party going on. It was in a tall Victorian house with high ceilings and huge windows and a basement lit with red bulbs. That seemed to be where most of the action was. The whole place had much the same neglected charm as our place, but much more spacious and with no furniture to speak of. We came in the front door and looked in on the lounge. It was dark and nobody was in there, despite the fact that the windows were wide open and dance music was spilling out into the front garden and across the street. We went down a narrow staircase to the basement to find something more melodic playing and everyone sitting around on cushions on the floor or leaning against the walls. We settled in amongst them, squeezing into the gaps and taking our turns on the ever-circulating joints and wine bottles. I felt warm and oddly at peace despite the fact that I still couldn’t hear a word of what was being said, even when the bloke with dreads next to me talked directly into my ear. I just smiled and nodded, which seemed to be the right thing to do. Later on I went for a wander and found a bunch of lads had congregated in the back room to look at torture porn on the TV. A naked girl was strapped to a chair and apparently having her face cut away. I quickly went through to the lounge and had a look at the record collection, then stood in the bay window looking out at the night and took some deep breaths. It was all so familiar – this noise, this light, this smell. What was that smell? There was a couple just along the wall near the stereo. They were mostly in shadow but I could see enough to know she was down to her underwear and he was working hard on her breasts with his mouth and on her crotch with his fingers. I decided to go downstairs again and give them some privacy but found that now a few more people were up dancing and that at least one of them – a small dark girl, had taken all her clothes off and was moving about among the others, apparently oblivious of the fact that she couldn’t dance. I couldn’t help but watch her nonetheless. I found myself an unopened can and settled down on a beanbag by the stereo to observe the fun.
It occurred to me that I’d never really understood what this ‘having fun’ business was all about. I understood pleasure and excitement, beauty and awe, humour and fascination, but not ‘fun’. Everyone here was laughing but nobody was doing anything particularly funny. People moved on the dance floor but none of them danced well. A few people seemed to be getting off with each other but there was nothing very erotic about it or even particularly illicit. Every record sounded the same. I longed for punk and techno and psychedelia. Even a bit of rock ’n’ roll or jazz wouldn’t have gone amiss. I felt somewhat superior and hugely inadequate at the same time. They knew no better and they were happy. Envy and contempt – how typical!
I leaned back and watched the girl stumble about.

I’m not sure when we got back to our place. It was getting light but I was still half expecting never to find it again. We sat in the kitchen having toast and coffee (I found some real coffee and a coffee pot, which I was fairly sure hadn’t been there before) and then we retreated to our rooms to sleep for a few hours. Later it stopped raining and I went out for a walk through the willows, down to the stream, and along the path to where the road crossed it at the far end. I still didn’t entirely trust that I could find my way back or that I wouldn’t be snatched by something as I passed but I got back ok, and just in time for the start of the evening session.

And that was more-or-less how things were. The weather got somewhat colder and damper and the days shorter, and an increasingly stale humid brown fug hung over the kitchen. People came and went and nobody seemed to wonder where or why. There was music on most of the time and either a spliff or a pipe doing the rounds to accompany it. There was a TV lounge further up the hall but it was not really comfortable and I didn’t go in there often. Mostly it was the boy’s room where they played computer games or watched horror movies on video. I found the violence in both seriously disturbing. The only relief was the parties. I liked to pretend I was above it all but I always went along hoping things would get interesting, and sometimes they did. Sometimes one or two of the girls would begin dancing close together, ‘inadvertently’ showing their knickers to us ‘boys’ sitting on the floor. Or there would be a game of dares – an obvious excuse for people to take their clothes off – usually the girls. (Why was it usually the girls? Not that I was complaining.) Later on there might be someone streaking through the house and out onto the street. That was more of a mixed event.

I wish I could say I knew how to handle the situation, with all my maturity and wisdom. I was at once disappointed in myself for not being able to just let go and join in, and disgusted with myself for not being able to tear myself away. It was not even especially sexy for much of the time. The girls were silly and giggly and ungainly on the dance floor. Very few of them would have turned my head under any other circumstances and the real exhibitionists were often the least attractive. I’m sure that wasn’t a coincidence.
The boy’s reactions (our reactions) were invariably crass and laddish or mumblingly self-conscious and we very seldom joined in with what the girls began. The most we’d do was take off our shirts and jig about ineffectually in the girl’s general vicinity, trying not to look too keen and in fact looking totally inept. As a result, much of the sexual activity, faked or otherwise, was among the girls. The only regular exceptions to this were when a few mean looking dudes with crew-cuts, tattoos and scars turned up. They’d be all but stripped and on the dance floor the moment any of the girls looked like they might try some of their routines. The men’s grimy or tanned arms seized the girl’s soft white bodies like a gang of snakes setting about a pet shop. We could do nothing but watch as they moved in on them, puppies and kittens, bunnies and chicks – powerless to save themselves.

Those occasions were unusual though. Generally the action was altogether less hard-core and I told myself that I was a voyeur – Lautrec at the Folies Bergere or some such. I even took to carrying a small sketch pad with me. (Quelle poseur!) But in truth, no matter how arrhythmic their routines, no matter how artless and staged the amateur lesbo porn – breasts nonetheless wobbled in low-cut tops and bottoms jiggled under short skirts. Tongues still writhed together and fingers explored and I throbbed fit to burst. You couldn’t fake that. I was at once sardonic and detached and hugely turned on. Disgusted as I would have been with myself, the fact is that I would have stripped off too and made any of those girls submit to me, if I could have, using nothing but raw self-confidence. And I’d have done it right there, shameless, in front of everyone (but perhaps with a little more dexterity.) Superficially I looked a lot like the mean dudes – mature and somewhat swarthy and grizzled from the streets. I was not an awkward youth any more, not like these numpties I hung around with most of the time. Was I a snake or was I a puppy? The truth is I was neither. I was a tortoise or an axolotl perhaps – peering out at them from my tank at the back of the menagerie.

One night two girls, one topless and hugely over-endowed, the other more slender in her bra and knickers, fell on top of me on the sofa. They’d been slow dancing and snogging in front of me for a while and now they were lying all over me, kissing and writhing, using my face as a pillow and my legs to rub themselves against. I suppose they were aware that someone was underneath them and perhaps found using a human being as a couch more interesting than just lying on an inanimate piece of furniture. It should have been a fantasy come true but I couldn’t see anything or hear what they whispered to each other. My hands could only reach their backs and they didn’t seem to want my lips to join theirs so there I was, squashed. Not wanting to poop on their party, I waited for them to finish. When they finally got off me one of them gave me a very lascivious smile. I suppose she thought they’d given me a very big treat but in fact by then I was as limp as a used condom. I found a book and went and sat on the stairs and waited for morning.

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A life backwards

It's in the nature of blogs of course that you come across the latest postings first (or you find yourself in the middle.) Normally it doesn't matter but if you want to read my novel in order, the first installment is as you'd expect, the oldest posting.
Thanks for your patience.