I have horrible earth shattering theory that maybe just maybe Iíve developed not mild but chronic personality disorder. Yes its official. Iím now a person possessed with two separate and distinct thought forms that seem to belong to two different Annas squashed into the one me. It is too much for my fragile and very possibly dividing and even perhaps sub dividing ego. Thereís the good Anna, responsible celibate career girl climbing the corporate ladder, sparkling and shiny like a well cut diamond. And thereís the bad Anna, the sluttish whore from Babylon, only sheís not from Babylon, but Dingle, dirty and cheap and common as muck.
This morning I am in the process of reverting back to the good Anna after scrubbing myself raw in the bath tub. If only I could stay here locked away in this bathroom, turn into a wrinkled prune and then evaporate slowly into the bath water. I would never have to think or worry or torment myself again. You know some people are scared that once they die thereís nothing. What is wrong with that? Iíd love it. Finito. End of the line. The ultimate cosmic cul de sac. Think of it, no more work, no more obsessing about relationships or having to work. In actual fact I fear not death but life and the repercussions of what I do and what I did last night. The shame of it. I remember the look of surprise on those Japanese men as they gapped at my half naked body in the lift. At the time uninhibited from too much champagne it was hilarious and daring. I was after all celebrating the re emergence of my womanhood. But now sobering up in the bath I want to disappear and fade away. Melt you stupid body. Melt and die.
Its awful realising that Iíve no boundaries. Absolutely none. My behavioural pattern hasnít changed no matter how lofty or well intentioned my thoughts have been. Prior to last night I was me, Anna Moran in the driving seat, making my own decisions, sending out the right vibes for a suitable mate and feeling I was right on track. But for one night of passion I overthrew my entire Grand Plan. Just like that. I wonder if its possible that my psyche needed more time to process the new me cos the old me, the one that I had tried to kill off resurrected with a vengeance. Hah. Hah. Hah. My false laugh tries to exorcise actions of the previous night. Hah. Hah. Hah. Laughter therapy sucks.
For I Anna Moran am just like a doll, an Anna doll that anyone can take out to play with whenever they get the urge. And Iím not an innocent rag doll either, probably a Barbie with pointed tits and fish net stockings. Maybe it serves me right for trying so hard to be stoic and resolute but I guess faced with temptation I lost the plot. Back to square one, sexually available to whoever wants to play with the Anna doll. When I feel bad I like to shift the blame or at least let someone else take some of the rap. Today its Noah. Stupid politically correct Noah and his two X two formula for his arc. "Come aboard," said he encouragingly to the animals. "Step this way, two by two. I said two. Not you old biddies, Iím talking male, female, young virile, about to be very sexually active people. No you cannot take your male lover. I want no homosexuals, no lesbians, no transvestites and for Gods sake no frigid Normas or anyone over 30." See? He started it. Whew. I'm beginning to feel slightly better already.
Last night I was the bad Anna, the horned and sluttish one whose fantasy found reality through the intervention of a second party. Exposed to the cold cruel judgmental light of the day Iím not so sure anymore about that fantasy. Yes that was me last night, all those incredible feelings, wanton desires and erotic actions yet now if truth be known I feel lost and alone, a bit scared. Its like there was this amazing sexual experience and now there is nobody with whom to share the aftermath. I thought I could just walk away but its not as simple as I thought.
All my troubles really began in the town park where I was due to meet Nero at one o'clock. As I was running late I decided to head straight there cos I was sure thatís where he would be. The stench of cow dung at this stage seemed to have permeated through my suit but I had no time to change before our lunch time rendez -vous. I could see Nero in the distance feeding a group of what seemed to be overweight ducks who waddled and squabbled amongst themselves. From where I stood the early spring light seemed to absorb his silhouette, blurring his features yet high lighting his presence. He appeared so serene and peaceful that that for a few moments I was reluctant to intrude upon this impressionistic spectacle. I like a man who shows kindness to all creatures great and small. According to Grace it reflects a kind heart and a gentle spirit. Grace loves theories.
And so I entered this other worldly scene, having no idea, absolutely none that late on that night I would commune with a sexual beast that would match my own. Maybe thatís the danger with celibacy. Rigidity keeps the lid on the pot but when the lid comes off take care not to be around.
"Hi there, enjoying yourself?"
"Yeah sure, hey whatís with the smell?"
"Itís a long story. Lets just say I had to go cross country to get to my last appointment. I got lost and had to virtually swim through slurry to get to my clients house. Thereís nothing in the manual about possible dangers that we can encounter en route. Iíll just have to buy some new clothes soon. Bloody cows. You donítí mind too much do you. I could go to the shops before we eat"
"Donít be daft. My Dad is a farmer so I Ďm used to good old natural smells. Beats perfume any day. I can tell you."
"You have got to be joking!"
"No way. I hate the strong smell of perfume. Itís a big turn off. It overpowers your natural pheromones that us males go wild for."
I make a mental note to flush my Channel and White Linen down the toilet. I like that word pheromone, got a seductive ring about it.
"Hmm Interesting thought. Right Iím starving after all that fresh air. Where would you like to eat?"
"Leave your culinary needs to the great Nero Mulcahy madam. How do you feel about a picnic in the open air?"
"What right here in the park?"
"Yeah, over there by the bench and table Iíve prepared a gourmet lunch pour deux, if that is ok with you."
"Thatís fine by me," I say, surprised that he had gone to so much trouble for lunch.
Nero had organised everything from the food to a paper tablecloth and plastic cups. We ate on little wooden tables next to the pond which was so sweet and romantic with the little ducks quaking and splashing and diving. I love picnics with lots of happy bread rolls stuffed with real chicken pieces and coleslaw and some red and green peppers. I especially loved the selection of Belgian chocolates that melted indiscriminately in my mouth. Mmmm happy now, very happy.
"Some wine Anna. I took the liberty of buying an Australian wine Jacobs Creek."
"Oh yes please, just a glass or two otherwise I wont be able to function for the afternoon."
This was indeed a little snippet of heaven sitting here sipping wine as the sunís rays stole furtively around our table. I turned my face toward the gentle warmth and for the first time that day allowed myself to relax. Nero was nice company to be with and a natural born storyteller. He spoke about the Australian outback home to the original inhabitants, the Aboriginals. He himself had worked on back to work programmes for the young abos and spoke passionately about his relationship with them. His words faded into the background and I watched him become more and more animated as he related tales of their spiritual nature and of their respect for the natural environment. I closed my eyes and was transported there by his descriptions of Australia and its ancient culture that he was trying to preserve. Suddenly his voice changed as he outlined his sadness at the destruction of the environment there, the pollution of the rivers, toxic chemicals that were being pumped into the atmosphere and the psychological damage that had been inflicted on the Aboriginals under the guise of civilisation.
"It's us whites who are fucking it all up. The abos are a bit like the American Indians who had enough vision to see for seven generations ahead and if their actions were to negatively affect people done the line it wasnít taken. These days the politicians are so short sighted they only see three months in advance. I despair sometimes. I really do."
Nero seemed so dejected and downcast as he spoke that I decided to lighten our conversation and for some strange reason someway perhaps related to my sexual frustration at being a born again virgin I burst out with.
"Nero what is your fantasy?"
"What kind of fantasy?"
"Um. Err. Sexual?"
"Fantasy. Gee Iíll have to think about that. I guess I have lots. You know the classic being covered in something gooey and tasty like chocolate and cream and having it licked off. Or sex in train as it whizzes through the countryside. Iíd also quite fancy doing it on a ghost train or a cemetery."
"Cemetery? Now what would that tell you about the relationship? I ask a slightly bemused Nero.
"That itís dead?"
We both laugh until the tears are streaming down our faces.
"And have you done all these things?" I ask incredulously.
"Except for the cemetery one. My girlfriends always refused this one. Except this one girl, Sabrina who had a remarkable resemblance to Mortisha Adams, she wanted to do it on a grave but I chickened out of that one. Bit too tasteless for my liking. Too macabre. What about you Anna?"
"Bit mundane like sex in the shower or on the kitchen table or being fed strawberries and chocolate before I am ravished. Nothing too risquť but Iíve done them. " I laugh. I hope he doesnít think I am boring old fart so I add " Although there is one that Iíve often thought about but never did. "
"Go on you can tell me. Cross my heart and hope to die."
"I would like to have sex with a stranger, just one night with no strings attached, no worries about commitment and for him to disappear in the morning never to be seen again. Almost as if it never happened."
"Itís not too uncommon you know, I think it allows you to have uninhibited sex, wild and primitive. But absolutely no reality, no strings attached. Sounds ideal. I'm sure it happens all the time," Nero says as he digested my fantasy and was secretly incubating it as his own. As for sex in a cemetery no way. Bit too Stephen Kingish for my liking. Sick. Sick. Sick.
"Where are you going from here? Nero asks.
"Onto a school where Iíve made an appointment to see a teacher. I have to stay here overnight as I need to see Mrs Carmichael, the lady I saw this morning again tomorrow. There is no point driving back to Dublin as Iíd be caught in rush hour so Iíll stay in one of the hotels here and put it down to expenses."
"I want to meet some friends of mine later 'cos Iím staying with one of them tonight. We are driving across to Galway tomorrow as Sean has a car. Should be a laugh. Well Anna, I enjoyed your company. Perhaps our paths will cross once more if kismet so decrees. "
He kissed me on the cheek and I wanted to say on my lips, on my lips. I think you know if you feel it on the lips. But he denied me that so I said goodbye and left what has got to be the best looking guy I have ever seen on Irish shores. The Irish men are so ugly in comparison, big potato heads on them, freckled skin and bat ears. I know theyíre not all like that but believe me there is a large percentage of them. My eggs reject such ilk and crave impregnation preferably by a non freckled foreigner. People donít realise the importance of the mating game. In one of my favourite books "The little Prince" there is a saying that one only sees with the heart, all the rest is invisible to the eyes. Very sweet but I think us women see with our eggs. For we seek not just a mate but a possible fertiliser.
I managed to find a nice cut skirt in a small boutique called Moniques. The assistant an incredible sylph like creature with cheek bones to die for was entirely sympathetic to my plight and helped me to choose a replacement skirt. The fact that she looked like a model herself gave her the confidence to cast judgement and to tell me what it was I also needed to buy." This is you, definitely. Youíre a cream person. "
I am? Its ís the way she says it that I end up colluding with her thoughts and the cream jacket with humongous lapels suddenly becomes an absolute necessity to wear over the navy skirt. The enthusiasm in the waiting room is infectious.
"Divine absolutely divine. Clara come over here. Isnít she a star? Look at the way it is cut out for her."
I attune to their admiration and begin to see myself as they saw me or should I say let on to see me. I am grateful and glowing under their approval.. All that I am short of is applause. Without any further deliberation I just whip out my credit card and sign my name. Not even half way to the car, when I have escaped the energy field of Miss Helpful with fantastic cheekbones and persuasive assistant I hate what Iíve bought. In fact I hate it with the same intensity as I had previously liked it. But today what with the cow shit saga I had neither the energy or the balls to ask for a credit note. Shopping assistants must be trained to detect vulnerability, in fact they can smell it a mile off and zoom in for the hard sell.
"That is fabulous on you. It really suits you. Going anywhere special?"
I get roped in every time because I never feel confident enough to repel their advances. If only I could achieve perfect hair, that just groomed look the look that says I am as perfect as you are then maybe I could save myself a fortune. Why oh why canít I be someone who is immune to dog hair and whose own hair is so perfectly coiffured it has the glued look. Every little hair follicle, assured and confident in its resting place. There are people in my life who are role models for the eternally perfected groomed look. Not for them the casual, je ne sais quoi style. God forbid. Theirs is the world of the confident follicle who stays static and undisturbed. The presence of children does little to intrude upon their outer poise and perfect faÁade. Whereas I am so at one with the universe that I look like it, dishevelled, messy and ultimately chaotic. Yet I aspire to perfection, to the glued look but deep down am aware it is a tragic unattainable goal.
At least I have a smell less skirt to wear to my next interview. And I also bought some hideously over priced black underwear because at that point in time I needed them even though I have so much black underwear I could sell them. I bundle the old clothes into the boot, spray myself with body perfume and set off to find the local comprehensive school where I had made an appointment to see Mr Horgan to discuss his pension details.
Puckety puke. This has got to be as exciting as being drilled by the dentist. Itís the paperwork that drives me insane. Now who are the stupid people who devise these forms? I mean what is wrong with these people? I wonder and this is not beyond being possible, in fact the more I think about it the more I believe its true. In fact it must be true. You know the way some people weave baskets as part of their rehabilitation program, well maybe itís the same thing with people in the insurance field. They are merely being rehabilitated and part of their work to prevent them from going into full blown psychosis is to make up forms. And so the rest of us who donít need rehabilitation have to suffer from their insanity. I have to breathe deeply to try to go beyond my growing need to ram the next car. I know I have to try to curb my temper but there is no need for all the forms. Chemically adjust those people by all means but for our sanity tell them keep them short and simple and consisting of one page max.
I hate the school smell of stale sweat and disinfectant. As it was between lessons I was ushered into the staff room by seemed to be the school secretary only you never know these days. There was nothing to do but make myself a cup of tea and crunch on a dry Marieta biscuit. I like to crunch or chew when I need to think as it helps me to focus and stay calm. Right, chew, chew quick glance over the forms and my spiel about the pensions available. Whatís that Connor said " Sow the seed" as in present the initial idea." Leave them dangle" as in "keep them in the dark as to what it is really about and just before they start asking too many questions." "Full penetration" as in tell them how wonderful the pension plan is how much as in the big lump sum they will have at the end, only theyíll be too old to enjoy it anyway. Ha Ha. I hoped Iíd be able to constantly refer to the manual for the little details that sieve through my brain.
A stout lady in her fifties with vice principal on her lapel swept into the staff room. "Hello welcome to our school. You must be the tampax girl," she yelled in her teachery voice. Sweet divine Jesus do I look like a tampax person when I am trying to be a professional person.
"Err no Iím from Apine insurance. Iíve an appointment with Mr Horgan today at three o clock."
"Have you seen the tampax girl then?"
"No I donít think so," I say wondering if she expected me to make some effort to look for her.
"Well if you do can you send her straight up to the office," she barked as she left the room. Suddenly feel like Iím back in school and am programmed to obey and follow orders. If truth be known Iíd prefer to seek out the tampax girl than to explain this pension shit. Iíll never remember the details. Iíll die if Iím asked any questions. I wonder if I can say pass or ring a friend.
"Ah. Anna Moran. Eugene Horgan, pleased to meet you. Would you like to go somewhere more private?"
We retire to what seemed to be a small library full of musty books that caused me to sniffle and sneeze and I am sure that this was a contributory cause to my amnesia. Can memory be erased just like that? Eugene Horgan a tall pale slightly anaemic looking man in his fifties launched straight into what he needed, firing questions at me in machine gun fashion, so much so that by the time I got around to thinking about answering one he was on the next one. I could see he was getting frustrated with my somewhat slow nature so in desperation I decided to adopt a different strategy.
I took out the forms and got him to answer my questions. Name. Address. Date of birth. Profession. This bit was easy. I felt super confident about myself until the fucker started asking me about tracking index linked funds that cut out the middleman and so was more cost effective in the long run.
"I'll answer that question in a moment please. Now can you tell me if you have every taken any medical drugs that I need to know about?"
"None. Iím never sick a day in my life," he boasted.
"Not even a flu?"
"Of course I get the flu, but I never take a day off."
"Maybe you should consider taking some time off when you have a flu. Youíre too hard on your self." And on me. What in Godís name is trecking index-linked funds? Maybe this is a trick question.
"Anna how long have you been selling insurance? " said Mr so incredibly know it all that why not just read the stupid manual yourself and be done with it. Calm. Ten deep breathes. Thatís it. Time for a new diversion. This bastard is too cute for me. I slowly open the top button of my blouse to enable Mr Horgan to get enough of a glimpse of cleavage to lure him onto another track. He coughed discreetly as his fixated upon my breasts. He too began to breathe deeply but obviously for different reasons to my own. His eyes began to glaze over and he began to loose his sense of focus. Great that shut him up. I leaned over towards him and asked him about his marital status. Single with no children. Not even a girlfriend.
"No," he whispered hoarsely.
"An attractive man like you. You must be joking," I said in extremely exaggerated tone. In the meantime the poor guy not only is deathly pale but with his teeth one wouldnít know whether to shake his hand or give him a sugar cube. He also has severe halitosis.
"Do you think so?"
"Of course. You have lovely hair."--If hair be wires, then black wires grow on his head.
He rubbed his head and ran his fingers through his hair and began to smile which could only mean I was on top.
"So you see Eugene, can I call you Eugene," I said as I leaned closer to Sir Dragon breath, "the more you save the more your pension will have swollen by the time you need to use it. You would be looking at a figure of £75,000, a nice lump sum to keep your happy in the twilight years. You could perhaps travel, buy a new car, clothes, meals out or (as I saw the look of horror on his face at the thought of squandering the money ) keep it, maybe reinvest it and see it grow even more." His greedy eyes lit up as he mentally calculated his profits and he smiled.
"About needing to talk to my supervisor Eugene," I say.
"No need Anna. No need. Only can you find out about tracking index links for me and see will they make a difference to my policy. Right where do I need to sign?"
Eugene, half man, half horse, the centaur leaned over and eyes fixed on my breasts he signed the policy. I immediately withdrew.
"Now Eugene," I say in my best mummy-will-look-after-you voice, "I will personally look after your policy and if you have any problems, any at all, donít hesitate to call me day or night."
"Pleasure doing business with you Anna. Thereís the bell, must dash off to the third years." He gushed as he left me leaving it til the last moment to take his eyes away from my wonder bra popped up mammary.
"They must all be after you, I would be," I add with such insincerity that I feel I will choke.
The poor man left the room, his low sex esteem boosted no end, reassured of his desirability and attraction to the female species, only sheíd have to belong to the Equine sort. But I had sold my first policy and it felt good. In fact and if the truth be known I Anna Moran am just great.
There must have been some conference or some mass migration into Wicklow as most of the guest houses and hotels were booked up. I only needed a room for the night and after an hour of looking and feeling sorry for myself I found a place in the White Swan hotel not too far from the town centre.
"Is it just for one night Miss?"
"Single room comes with a surcharge of twenty pounds. Is that ok with you?"
"Sure," I say as I sign the register and collect the key to my room which is on the fourth floor.
"Do you want the porter to bring up your luggage to the room?"
"Err no I donít have much luggage. Bit of an impromptu visit," I say as I grasp my plastic bag containing all of my current worldly goods. Iím lucky that I carry a spare make up bag in my hand bag so at least I didnít have to buy any. Might treat myself to a silly magazine, some choc chocs and some new perfume. As a treat.
"Hi diddle di di the Corporate life for me," I sing as I showered and used the hotel gel and shampoo. I even decided to finish with a cold shower. Its supposed to cleanse my aura and expand my consciousness but no one mentions that youíve got to freeze to death in the meantime.
I put new black underwear that I had bought for an extortionate price Chez Monique's. I look at my reflection in the mirror, not bad at all, knickers a bit thongish but sure Iíll get over it. Thankfully I had the sense to pack a small black Gucci dress that I like to keep in the back seat for emergencies like this, even if its a cast off from Grace but it accentuates and flatters my figure. Even though I say so myself, today is my good day, all my body rhythms must be peaking making me feel sexy and desirable and I might add desiring. Mmmm hope my nipples arenít that obvious.
The foyer was packed with tourists arriving with all their luggage and armed with a litany of questions for a receptionist who looked completely inundated by their queries. Despite the notice that she gave the times for breakfast they seemed to insist on checking each detail as if their lives depended on knowing what was going to happen in advance. I couldnít do her job because Iíd speak my mind and on a bad day would tell them all to fuck back to where they came from.
So many tourists get so engrossed in the minute details of their stay that they fail to just stop a while and just absorb the atmosphere of the place. I had to escape the constant chatter and made my way through an archway into the residentís bar. Sweet Jesus it was populated by Americans but at least they werenít talking cos they were singing.
"Oh Danny Boy the pipes, the pipes are calling. From glen to glen..."
Their voices were surprisingly good and not wanting to be too conspicuous on my own I found myself joining in with them. A few drinks later, I was performing solo numbers, getting louder and louder the more I drank. The men were loving me while their wives regarded me with derision but I was in flying form and there was no stopping me.
"Gee honey "one guy said "you must join me and Nora for dinner tonight. Isnít that right honey weíd sure love your company."
So on that fateful night I ended up dining with Lou and Nora, Americans that had spent all their lives saving for a trip to dear old Ireland, home to their ancestors the Mulraines from Donegal. The conversation was carried mostly by Lou and occasionally interjected by Nora when she spoke about her family who by all accounts were majoring in something or another in college. Easy get into college in America if you can do multiple choice but I refrained from sharing my view point. Their trip was two weeks travelling the length and breadth of the country so much so that to me it was more like an endurance test than a holiday. Maybe the American vacation really is different to a holiday which to me means permission to be a blob, stay static and if you Ďre lucky get a bit horizontal.
"So tell us Anna about the history of this Olí sod. We love Irish history donítí we Nora" he bellowed. When I told him I had studied Celtic mythology and ancient history Lou gathered a group of about ten people to our table to listen to what I had to say.. The respect for the history of Ireland and the interest shown by the Americans was quite touching. I began to say that my ancestors were direct descendants of the Tuatha De Danann you could hear a pin drop. I know, I know this was major poetic licence on my part but I could have been for all I know. Anyway these are my adopted ancestors so I am related to them.
I created tales of magic and sorcery that held the Americans spell bound. Tales of the little people, the fairies, the leprechauns and the crock of gold at rainbows end. Their faces were radiant with delight, their belief palpable as I plucked out enrapturing mythological creatures catapulting them into a fantasy world they so wanted to believe existed. Once the magic spell was cast I entered into medieval Ireland, to a time when we had our own laws and sense of justice, my favourite era in Irish history. At that time the rules were based upon the Brethon laws which allowed for divorce every year if you fancied a trade in. Illegitimate children were regarded as special and were welcomed into the community, some were even ordained as bishops. See how advanced we were before we got retarded by Christianity. For alas after paganism was ousted from this fair land the magic died and was replaced by doctrine and dogma that suppressed the wild spirit of our land. When I finished on this powerful emotive statement I swear to you right now that there were tears in their eyes, a dawning realisation that they were for the first time encountering the real truth about their darling Eire. The applause was deafening. In their eyes I had become their vehicle to their past and for that very reason they wanted to claim me as theirs for the night.
I sat with Lou and Nora and we ordered our food. I ate just a main course and desert but they ate the four course set meal that was included in their stay. They choose the lamb as it had Irish prefixed before it and I had crabs claws sauteed in garlic butter with a salad. Lou spoke throughout about his work as a policeman in Virginia, about the extension he was having done on his house and his new car. By the time I finished my death by chocolate gateau I thought I was suffering from brain damage. My head was reeling from their booming voices that by now were getting too much.
"Nice meeting you." I say as I get up to escape. I trust youíll enjoy the rest of your stay here."
"Stay a while and have a drink with us in the lounge. Mildred would love to hear about the tales of the Fianna. Wouldnít she Nora?" said Lou who seemed very put out that I was leaving.
"Iím sorry but Iíve arranged to meet a friend in a nearby pub. I might see you later," I say as I kiss them both and wish them well.
"Well goodbye Anna, sure was nice knowing you, youíre a swell kid." said Lou.
"So long sweetie," said the women.
The night air causes me to sober up immediately. I breathe deeply, relieved to be on my own again. Never underestimate the emotion of relief. There are times when I cannot cope with people in too concentrated a dose. Americans especially invade my energy field, sucking me into their dramas and sapping my life force. On my own for a while I can recharge and begin to feel human again. I shivered in the night air and started to walk towards the town centre.
The neon lights lit my way and cast a somewhat seedy glow to my silhouette. I suddenly felt very exposed, my dress was too tight, too clingy to feel comfortable. I felt or at least I imagined that men were looking at me leeringly, wanting to touch, to own, to possess me. In a way I felt insulated as I knew that they could look but they couldnít touch. So I tottered along on my black strapless sandals and began to enjoy my sense of sexual power and abandonment. I hadnít felt this good in a long time and in fact it reminded me of the thrill of the chase that I would experience when Assumpta and I went out on the town in search of men. Those were the days I thought to myself wistfully. I was happy and carefree, with no thoughts of consequences or a beckoning future. Tonight, well I guess you could say I was in a similar state of mind and boy did I feel good.
When my toes began to scream stop or I will really bleed I looked around for someplace I could sit down. Traditional music was blaring out of Mulligans but as I had enough Irish culture for the night I decided to opt for the quieter bar second next door to it. I opened the saloon like door and made my way into a dark rather cavernous establishment. Some old men gazing expressionlessly into their pints looked up momentarily as I passed them by to a stool at the top end of the bar. There were a few younger men in the corner playing a game of cards, I think it was poker and were staring at each other in the way that men do when they are trying to pretend that something is something else. There was an older man flirting outrageously with a younger woman in her forties who was laughing hysterically at something he said. I closed my eyes and began to wonder if they were lovers, or strangers who had just met and gravitated together just for the hell of it.
A piano player played softly in the background, almost as though he was reluctant to intrude upon the lives of those present. I ordered a glass of hot port from a young bartender whose streaked pink and green hair glowed luminously in this dark lugubrious atmosphere.
"That will be 2.75," she said slowly and deliberately, like a record that you put onto a slow speed by accident. Perhaps she was numerically dyslexic like me and needed to think slowly about numbers before they registered in her brain. I handed her a five pound note which she examined under a light to check its validity. Painstakingly she clocked the money into the till and waited for it to tell her how much I was owed. Her movements were so slow that I began to think that either she wasnít the full shilling or that she was so tired that simple movements rendered her incapable of normal response. I should know as that is the way that I feel after my brain has been minimised by alcohol, slowing down my reflexes to such an extent that I am virtually the walking dead. I tell her to keep the change but she seems surprised, rather discomfited by my gesture which obviously isnít the norm in a pub like this. She places the coins carefully into the top pocket of her dungarees and ambles off to wipe down the beer stained counter.
I sipped my drink and felt its warmth suffuse through my body. I closed my eyes and let my mind drift as I listened to Casablanca being played sensitively and gently by the piano man.
"And what do you do when a stranger calls and raps on your mind."
I open my eyes and turn to face Nero who has appeared before me, smiles of amusement dancing on his lips.
"Well that depends on the stranger of course. Anyway youíre not a stranger. I already know you," I retort.
"Stranger, one who is not known, as opposed to familiar and intimate. So in a way I am a stranger as you were are not yet intimate and hence remain unknown to one another," he laughs.
"You just have a way with words and twisting meaning. Besides what are you doing here. I thought you were off to Galway with your friends."
"Kismet decreed otherwise because Jeremy and Peter met some English girls and so my path takes another route and it led me to you," he said as he stared into my eyes.
"Get away you bull shit artist."
"No Anna Iím being seriously truthful. My friends left a day earlier to travel with the girls they met. Iíve called them on their mobile and have arranged to meet up with them the day after tomorrow. Itís no big deal. We often make loose arrangements that can be changed according to what happens and so thatís why Iím here," he said almost trying to justify his presence.
"Ok I believe you. Look do you want a drink or something."
"Yeah sure. Iíll just drag over a stool to join you."
Nero asked me about my day and when I told him about my actions with the not so delectable Mr Hughes he laughed and called me a scheming wench.
"So thatís how you con people into buying your policies you scheming wench. It calls for a celebration donít you think?"
He calls the girl to get him a bottle of the best champagne and I protest that it will break him but he insists as he won over £350 on the horses and so it was a cause for a double celebration. Some old men looked at us regarding the extravagance sullenly and begrudgingly. Nero expertly opened the bottle and poured us both a glass of laughing tinkling bubbles that went straight to my head and made me smile, really smile for the first time that day.
"Hereís to Anna, chief insurance sales person who uses every means she has to affect a sale. To you my darling girl, the insurance temptress."
"Cheers but Iím not that bad," I say defensively.
"Ah the lady doth protest too much. Way to go Anna. Way to go."
"Hey you make me out to be some sort of corporate whore which Iím not."
"Anna, you are a beautiful woman and if youíve got it use it and flaunt it. Men do it the whole time with their soft words and charm. Relax, Iím not condemning you. I applaud you " he says as he raises his glass into the air and tips gently off mine.
"Hereís to Nero who destroyed my parental credibility with his honesty and dare I say sheer stupidity," I add a bit too maliciously.
"Youíre not still going on about that are you. Itís over so forget it. Make me a proper toast."
"Ok hereís to Nero who insists he is a stranger because he fails to understand the nuances of the English language," I said jokingly.
Our night went on like that with silly toasts that made us laugh at ourselves and our lives. I was thoroughly enjoying myself when the bar girl announced time up. I had been so unaware of the passage of time with Nero that I felt slightly disorientated by my disconnection with the outside world. I went to the ladies and washed my face to bring me back to the land of the living but try as I might I remained detached and remote from any reality other than this. I felt like I was on the edge of some precipice that was opening up beneath me and I was powerless to stop my fall.
Nero offered to walk me back to my hotel as it was too late to go on my own. The streets on Monday night were largely empty at this time of the night. I was aware of the tottering sounds of my sandals on the pavement as we made our way up the street. Nero put his jacket around my shoulders making us appear like any normal couple on our way back from the pub. Suddenly a wave of desperate loneliness engulfed me so much so that I had to choke back a sob. My heart began to beat wildly in my chest and my breathing quickened as we approached the entrance to the hotel.
"Here we are. This is where Iím staying," I say as cheerfully as possible trying to hide feelings that were threatening to invade my armour and chip it away mercilessly. My heart told me what was coming next but my mind screamed out and tried to stifle its stirrings.
In the night light Nero loomed tall and handsome above me. His blond locks fell onto his forehead as he bent over and whispered into my ear.
"What do you do when a stranger calls?"
He didnít want me to answer initially as he placed his finger on my lips and kissed me gently on my forehead. I had a second to decide but there was a part of me that knew that the decision had already been made by a force outside of me, beyond me that was influencing what I felt and what I thought. I looked into his eyes as a frisson of excitement flooded through my body.
"When a stranger calls, I welcome him into my home," I manage to say huskily.
"Which is where?" he asks gently.
Nero opened the door and we stepped into the foyer together. Thankfully Lou and his friends had already gone to commune with the angels and perhaps a fairy or two. A disinterested receptionist yawned behind the desk, filing her nails while reading some article in Hello. She reached behind her and gave me the key without looking. Nero held my hand as we made our way to the lift together, and to all the world we were a regular couple returning to our room after a night in the town. Without speaking we stepped inside. The door closed. I pressed the button for the fourth floor. The lift groaned into action and began its ascent Between the second and third floor the lift shuddered and then stalled. In panic I pressed all the buttons and the leaned heavily on the emergency one. No response. Was this a sign from the Gods that my plans were to be aborted and instead I was to be trapped in a no mans land perhaps until the morning, by which time I could have expired from claustrophobia. Thank you very much.
"Hey Anna maybe this is a sign."
"Of what?" I answered maybe a bit too sharply.
"Me, you, together here. Beats a cemetery don't you agree?"
"We are stuck in a fucking lift Nero and we could be here until morning," I said by way of explanation to this most amazing creature who by now had drawn me towards him and started to kiss me softly on the lips. Ahh who cares about the lift when opportunity knocks? Divine intervention can cause elevators to stop you know. I could hear the sound of voices above or was it below me, murmurings too distant to penetrate this metallic cocoon. Just for now we existed in a vacuum liberated from timeís shackling restraints and realityís perimeters. A web was spun, entangling our energy fields, thrusting us together leaving us with little choice but to conjoin our bestial forces. After all anything was now possible.
Nero was a good kisser, not one of those vicious tongue wrestlers that not only make you gag but also make you have to set up some form of defence strategy in your mouth to avoid choking to death. Not a bad way to die but nonetheless a rather tiresome exercise that prevents the relief of surrender. I for one do not like to wrestle or defend. I like to kiss and be kissed and I like my kisser to be sensuous enough to know what to do. In the beginning were the lips and the lips were made flesh with a sensory radar second to none, capable of igniting sexual chemistry and paving the way to true intimacy. A lot of prostitutes donít kiss for that very reason for lips are what make us respond with love, tenderness and true passion. Not kissing allows for detachment and in a certain sense dehumanises which is why I couldnít do it, well not unless I was paid a phenomenal amount of money, maybe a million pounds or look Iíd settle for a few hundred thousand. Disperse you useless mental chatter and allow me to get on with this lovely wonderful melting sensation. Love lips. No adore lips.
My body began to respond with such a mounting urgency that Nero seemed to be taken by surprise. He smiled for in that second he knew. Look I know I wanted to play hard to get but here the rules change, proximity alters reality. I was guided to the back of the elevator all the while our mouths glued together and now my back, neck, breasts and buttocks were being caressed in slow circular movements. For a while we stayed locked together, gyrating, simulating and arousing. Neroís hands explored and taunted my sexually starving body. My mind and reasoning went south while instincts arose from the recesses of their limbic abode resurrecting feelings that I had once tried to submerge and kill. Enforced celibacy had done this, for deprivation surely is the precursor to an un containable explosion. The beast within could no longer be contained, the serpent uncoiled itself, extricating itself from its dusty cave.
This was forbidden, this was dangerous, this was exciting. The electricity between us fuelled a sexual charge that took over to orchestrate and dictate our every move. Nero intention to take me right then jigsawed my over riding desire to be taken and ravished and...
Nero covered my mouth with kisses that gained in intensity. He sucked my tongue, bit my lips and licked my face. Even had I wanted to I could not stop this avalanche of wanting him wanting me. This was possession. This was surrender. Oh this was so me. I was aware of his hands fumbling with my dress as they went inside it and made their way to my breasts. He stopped momentarily and looked into my eyes. I swallowed hard, aware of my rapidly beating heart and my laboured breathing. His blue eyes glinted darkly in the artificial light, asking my permission to continue his journey downwards. He looked down at my breasts and with his two hands caressed them until I groaned. He raised my dress higher and started to suck hard on my nipples. Oh my sweet Lord and all the saints this side of the Atlantic. This was anticipation unbearable foreplay. Bliss. My nipples became tiny power houses generating surges of sweet desire that undulated and rippled throughout my body.
I wanted him now inside of me despite the fact that I had no condom. Absolutely none. No pill for what does a born-again-virgin have need of such like. Zero protection. The words Aids and pregnancy and freckled throwbacks temporarily entered my mind to be dismissed and deleted as Noah fumbled with my underwear and ripped it off with his teeth. His fucking teeth for Christ sake. Instant inhibition meltdown. La.la like who gives a shit? I could die afterwards but at least I would have been to heaven. There are those of you who condemn girls that appear to irresponsibly fall pregnant but there are times when there truly is no choice. This is what happens when our primitive selves are unleashed, there is absolutely no stopping, no holding back, and no thoughts of consequences, like greeting the thin blue line on a cold bathroom floor.
I unfastened the buckle of his belt and he quickly undid the buttons on his levis allowing them to slide down his legs.. All the time Nero maintained a penetrating eye contact with me, seeing me and seeing beyond me. With one movement he lifted me up and entered me so quickly that I gasped with the sensation. Again he looked into my eyes and bored his way into my soul. He kissed me as he thrust his way into me like a man possessed, his eyes now closed, his breathing laboured and heavy. I wrapped my legs around him to allow him to go deeper and deeper so that I could felt a sharp pain as he aimed higher and higher his movements becoming more forceful, more intense. I was riding high on the crest of a wave that was just peaking as he squeezed my buttocks hard and shuddered his way to climax, making one final plunge, emptying his seed into my body as I too was released from my earthly abode, crashing through to nirvana.
Our moans and groans sliced through the silence, giving us temporary amnesia from where we were and what we were doing. This was undoubtedly the most exciting and exhilarating sex of my life. I felt the most incredible sense of abandonment as we both spiralled together outwards and upwards reaching total abandonment and true release. The thought of being caught had fired my sexual neurones, captivating the inner heart of my very imagination. Had it ever been as intense as this with any other man. For a while I felt disorientated as the spell wore off and I deflated. While I momentarily baked in post coitus bliss Nero busied himself pulling up his trousers and fixing his dishevelled hair, preparing to re emerge into a world we had left behind. All too soon the lift reincarnated itself with a groan and within nano seconds as in within a time space that did not allow for any reaction on my part the door swished open. Nero exited non chalantly, leaving me sitting there with a dress half way up my back, an exposition of vaginal flesh to two Japanese business men who glared at me transfixed and bemused with their eyes rendered more slant like by the sight of Anna, the corporate whore. I did what any normal woman would have done in those circumstances, I waved and told them both to fuck off.