Dreamlike quality to the morning, a distant view of a power station sending a towering white cloudstack up into a blue grey sky.
The carriage is quiet, no-one standing but I look out for him again just like every morning since I first saw him. In my headphones Cannonball Adderleys’ sax slides around Miles Daviss’ trumpet. I picture that face trying to conjure the sensation, waiting for the lurch of excitement in my stomach.
Tonight is Halloween and Emilys’ party. I’ve pretty much gone off the idea.
At around midnight on a cold wet friday I found myself dressed as a half arsed vampire rocking up to one of those huge victorian mock mansions built by the upper middle classes in the 1850’s, as they sought to aggrandise themselves and stage their pretensions and fantasies in displays of ostentatious neo-neo-gothic.
The main crowd were crammed into the cavernous entrance hall where a fivepiece band was in high swing, playing some old big band stuff dressed in steampunk Victorian get up.
‘Josh you gorgeous fucker!’ Emily burst out of the crowd like a mad jack-in-a-box, electric blue hair topped off her punk fairy get up. ‘Where’ve you been hiding yourself?’, ‘Oh here and there’, I suddenly felt underequipped for the situation but as ever Emily was talking for two. ‘Anyways I’ve missed you, you haven’t been out all Summer, not even to the garden party. There’s a shitload of new people, Taylor’s got a post at the art college so that whole crowd is around. Do you like my outfit? It’s like based on Tinkerbell but sluttier, I think I went a bit crazy with make up though’. She had. I thought it but kept quiet.
An hour later and somehow I’ve ended up walled into a corner by a fat goth girl making a decent stab at flirtation but who is seriously unaware that she’s into the wrong fish. A polite excuse for a gracious exit is proving elusive and the claustrophobic panic building in me is starting to get uncomfortable. She won’t stop talking and doesn’t seem to have noticed that I’ve stopped hearing any individual words in the rapid fire babble she is rattling out. ‘Fuck!’, my blurt stops her short, ‘What?’.
My salvation had come from an uncovered and unexpected quarter.
Rapidly running my eyes over the crowd that spread up the wide sweeping staircase and onto the galleried landing, I did a double take back to a figure leaning over the bannister. Something in the angular jawline visible beneath the hooded cowl of the mask of the werewolf costume made my breath stop. ‘Fucking fuck!’. Fat goth, unable to stop her mouth from getting back into motion as quickly as possible was staring wildly around, ‘What?! What is it?’. My heart was smashing into my ribcage, ‘I’ve got to go, I’ve…’, the last word hung awkwardly in the air. Over her shoulder I could see him at the foot of the stairs, he is coming over.
‘Hello…’, Wolf costume appears from behind her. He is standing square in front of me and I realise we are same height. He pulls back the cowl and there is the face from the train, twice as stunning as I remembered it, ‘…You were looking at me, on the train…why?’
No introduction, no acknowledgement to fat goth, just a wry smile and bang. ‘You caught my eye…’, I faltered, ‘…you interested me’. Dammit, he had me backfooted, I was supposed to be the fucking cool one. I felt the prickly sensation of a blush rising over my face.
The absurdity of explaining myself to this boy in a werewolf suit suddenly made me laugh. ‘Are you laughing at me?’ His voice was quick and showed a hint of hurt and agression. I was back on top, ‘No, not at all, I just didn’t expect to find myself talking to you like this, here, in the costume I mean’. To my relief his face cracked and softened into a smile that was all teeth. ‘I’ve been watching you too’, my stomach jumped ‘Oh yes?’, ‘You take the train for an hour and a half. You sit in a park for a while then you walk around doing nothing in particular, except for that old book place you go into every Thursday…’. ‘I wasn’t aware that I had a stalker’, I think I managed to cover the indignation.
‘That is my job, I mean that is my work’, ‘Why? What are you? A shoe tester’ ‘Look you cheeky little fucker, I’m a writer, that’s my routine, that’s what I do to make it work’. It sounded absurd but it was true, for seven going on eight years I done exactly that, day in day out.
‘What do you write then?’. He was enjoying my discomfort and making no secret of it either, ‘Porn if you must know’. I wanted to outplay him, I failed. ‘Coooooool’, he drew the word out with cocky deliberation, ‘Maybe I could help you?’.
I was disarmed, the flash in his eye was sharp enough to be a cheesy cgi effect. ‘Well maybe we should get another drink, bloody mary?’