The

Evening

Party
Filed under — 
JOURNAL


THEN STREET-LIFE


Fig.XX — SEPTEMBER
(2019)




Against the velvet seats usually saved for Miller and pantomime, we are told—‘Everything ends,’ by a most nervous and shrill comedian; and he is right. The audience laughs and the lovers lock fingers and it ends, just like everything else has ended, and I could leave it there.

The exact point when it ended is vague, like the point at which a jumper may become unwearable, first by a loose thread, then a hole, until finally it falls apart at the seams and, no matter how fondly it was once regarded, it will no longer do. The tenth is a date when perhaps the first thread popped out; the thirteenth, a hole. In the backstreets of South London the first thread came loose by the side of the road. The hole formed (or unformed?) on a slab in Spitalfields amongst the lunch rush hour, over a pot of biryani that wasn’t as good as my uncle’s, but my aunt divorced him back in the early nineties.

I am too comfortable with this loneliness! so that now I am here, putting it all down, dressing it up, falling short; the music caresses. (It strikes me how similar the words carcass and caress look next to each other, but I smile and digress.) It has been this way for so long now that to be in company is the rarity, the occasion; by myself is the norm and understand that I don’t mind it that way! No, I am not melodramatic nor a sad figure! You know how things can be, or maybe you don’t. To sit in silence and think — impossible! If there is silence then there is no distraction, just thoughts: thoughts I would do better to turn away from. I listen to music I haven’t heard in many years. Youth is a vinyl record.

Our last time stained the bedsheets. How poetic! For hours now I have sat before these keys and I remain wordless. I am not stunned, I am wordless. The cum ran out of her. A slim band of latex hung like seaweed, swaying sort of, not really doing anything. A ring remained, holding the seaweed in place. She leapt up and ran to the toilet. Falling down, I wrapped the ring & seaweed in some tissue and put them in the bin. There was a big puddle of cum & blood where she had lain. She was sat on the toilet, staring down—

‘What the fuck?’ she said, neither to me or the toilet but somewhere between.

The conclusion, by both parties, had been that, romantically, we were not right for each other, that we were at stages in our respective lives where it would not work in that sense; right people, wrong time. I had come to terms with the fact it wasn’t going to work, and, already entrenched again in the sour fog of renewed despair, had settled back into being alone. She suggested we be casual, and with it I felt all the weight the word pretends it doesn’t have. It had all seemed quite casual, enjoyable even, until it all went quite wrong, and I was stood there in the bathroom door, flushed, panicked, pink, and all I could think to say was—‘That’s never happened to me before!’ It was midnight when she left. There had been popcorn for dinner and my skin smelled of her. The drying puddle in my bed smelled of both of us. I showered, put a kitchen towel over the puddle and tried to go to sleep, avoiding the dinner-plate sized patch. Days were difficult. They had been okay but then they became difficult again, unwanted, forgettable. Saturday was brutal; plans were cancelled and served to exacerbate a misery that confined me to the sofa, in a sunken nausea, where one relives past shortcomings, failures and takes a dim view of everything besides their own pitiful state and the attention it deserves.

Completed Ruffatti Organ, 1974

‘What’s going on?’ A vibrating phone is a bad sound. ‘Why don’t you text me like you used to? … I’m depressed about you.’ It would not do, I replied, I cannot talk right now. Another time. She called me but I wouldn’t pick up. ‘You’ve never not picked up my call before.’ She called me but I would not pick up. You push the plunger down on the cafetiere, then it drips down the throat. ‘Please speak to me.’ And that evening as I clawed and sobbed—‘We can meet tomorrow if you’re still up for it?’

Work was a relief, a release, and how despicable for me to consider it as such; when I told my colleagues how I’d been looking forward to the office they did not believe me and laughed. ‘This isn’t going to work, not romantically, not casually, nothing. It won’t work. I’m sorry.’ Some hours later.

More hours later—‘The thing is, R—, I’m in love with you.’
Message deleted.
The sauce in the pot was simmering. The wooden spoon left a scratch of red mess on the lid where it rested, hanging on. There is a group of organs nestled below the diaphragm that tense at certain times, feel like they’re standing on tiptoes to get a better look out the periscope of your throat or forcing enough air out your lungs to suffocate you. Love was not a word to be used after a full-stop; it never helped anybody. The food smelled good and yet I could not make good food, that was a fact. The recipe called for sugar to take the edge of the tomatoes; there was no sugar in the flat. Usually I took sugar from a cafe in town, gave it to a friend and told her I wouldn’t forget her sugar, and then, when she wasn’t looking, poured it onto her desk in a brown envelope. I was startled by how easy I found it forgetting people. They came & went, they belonged for the moments they hung around, filling time & life with a beautiful presence, until they were no longer; the curtain fallen, the theatre emptied. I had done the difficult part without her supervision; now I was entirely alone to retreat and light candles for the death of summer.

Organ Installation, Sun-Sentinel, August 24, 1975

It had been another tough day. On the walk home I could feel the quaint orange edge of autumn brush against my bloated brown arms, which didn’t know whether to sweat or bristle. Just to be in my flat again, away from the world, where things were clean and the quiet that existed there settled my stupid bones. Occasionally there are homeless people sitting on the building steps, or roadmen; the former speaking, the latter not. A figure sitting on the steps as I walked up and readied things to go inside and smell the smell of my home these days; waving; headphones out; the sound of me dropping out and then streetlife. 

It’s her.
‘Can we talk?’
‘What are you doing here?’
‘Can we talk?’
‘... I ain’t talking on the fuckin’ street. Come upstairs.’

She climbed the stairs behind me as though this was okay behaviour. To this day I don’t know whether a U belongs in behaviour. Three floors is a lot, but from the outside, with the windows and all, it looks four. The stairs were four. I dug my nails into my palms. She came in one last time, taking her trainers off, politely, as she always did. She put her hand against the wall next to the washing machine, behind the shower, to remove her worn & sympathetic trainers, to steady herself, where we had shared a moment a month ago, a moment that leant itself to complaining neighbours and buttocks against the engorged veins (blue), where we wanted to be, where fuck pronounced itself in lamps, a shoe horn, gasps; even the minutiae of breezes are felt across wet organs. That seemed so long ago. We’d had three relationships between then and now. I tried to sort my things out: set my fan off (speed 2), put vegetables in the fridge, remove my wristwatch. She lingered in the centre. I sought to keep my mood together. Nothing like that had happened before; I was learning as I was going. Reiterate. ‘Kiss me. Tell me you don’t feel anything.’ I ain’t kissing you. ‘Hug me.’ I hugged her, and hard; she had been so magnificent. Without sex or gender, she had been spectacular, but then it all fell apart like old jumpers. I missed her company more than the sex, and that felt like something, something grander than the terrible good-bye we were slowly playing out in the middle of my flat. It didn’t seem right for all we had choreographed to come tumbling down on a Tuesday afternoon in the most tepid of atmospheres. Such things never end properly. ‘We can change.’ We can’t because three months is too small a number, and there are small numbers everywhere. I want long numbers if I’ll have numbers at all. ‘We can change, R—.’ Some pronunciations of sadness are so overwhelming that you remember them for for the rest of your life. You fold the corner of a page to bookmark, and forever, even under the simplest and softest of fingers, the paper is scarred. ‘If you want me to go… if you tell me to go, I will.’

Breath—‘I want you to go.’ Her eyes so big & painful.

Afterwards, the silence that I had looked forward to was a little disrupted; what had once been such a perfect scene of sex and friendship, thirty-three years of wonderful human, was now disabled, clawing its way out the door. The way we finished our laugh in bars or panted paragraphs into night-time no longer had any say in the affair. It happens. When she was gone, I sat down on the ninety degrees of my rented bed. I undressed and stood before the fan (speed 2); felt every bit of air across my softest of wet, the wetness of soft. Then I sat down. I pulled my socks off my skin, to which they had stuck and stung to. It was okay. The silence of everything was a church organ. It bellowed over the drink I poured. Finally she stepped out over the street, blocking me on her bus journey home like a thirties’ eclipse.







— a collection of writings, poems and stories by the anonymous author

︎  t w i t t e r
︎  i n s t a g r a m
︎  e - m a i l

UNLESS NOTED OTHERWISE, ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE TAKEN BY THE AUTHOR

Ah, we’re an ungrateful race! When I look at my hand upon the window sill and think what pleasure I’ve had in it, how it’s touched silk and pottery and hot walls, laid itself flat upon wet grass or sun-baked, let the Atlantic spurt through its fingers, snapped blue bells and daffodils, plucked ripe plums, never for a second since I was born ceased to tell me of hot and cold, damp or dryness, I’m amazed that I should use this wonderful composition of flesh and nerve to write the abuse of life. Yet that’s what we do. Come to think of it, literature is the record of our discontent.

T H E   E V E N I N G   P A R T Y  Virgina Woolf