If I Could Only Be Sure

The recent storm blew the warm air away, and now the overcast humid skies give way to ice blue, still like a garden pond.  A few nights ago, I stood on a high place and watched the total arc of a rainbow enclosing a group of brawling clouds.  As jet fighters boomed overhead, it felt like the end of days.  So I left this dim half-light for the sickly neon of the hotel back corridor and shivered, waiting for everything to go out.  Which, of course, it didn’t.

When I get tired or anxious I go quiet.  I internalise, put up barriers behind the existing barriers, those that are padlocked, with keys only handed to those whom I feel I can trust.  Those whom I would cross the road to greet rather than avoid.  I’m not sure when being quiet and thoughtful was a social faux-pas equivalent to deliberately shitting yourself in the middle of a wedding, but then I’m thirty four in less than a month, and therefore not down with the kids these days.

This past week I stalked the hotel corridors, always stumbling towards the light, registering the faces that I see and usually forget.  The stories that are replaced with others like a slide show that you can’t turn off.  Working as a housekeeper, often for twelve hours a day, you see everything and you hear everything.  In one room, a couple have noisy sex whilst listening to Tom Jones’ DelilahI hear people having sex all the time, but this song doesn’t seem appropriate.  In another, a man groans because he’s squirted contact lens fluid in his eyes.  Couples argue.  Couples cuddle.  One man is about to propose and he greets me, pale and sweating.  Another guy slams a door in my face, takes the piss out of my accent like I’m Prince Fucking William, and then tells his wife about the posh homo he just answered the door to.  I’m neither, actually, but what would it matter?  I laugh, just as I would’ve laughed if he’d called me a working class hetero.  It’s either that or I channel Jack Torrance and fire-axe his door down.

I’ve tried to improve my sleep.  No smart phones after nine, bed with a book and candles, lights out at ten.   It has worked, but as a consequence of the longer nights I’ve had every anxiety dream ever.  I’ve also slept with past friends and partners in a concentrated burst of subconsious fucking that has surpassed not only my unconscious adventures but also my real life ones too.  In a weird way, I like these chance meetings.  I’d be happy to just spend some time with these that I’ve lost.  Perhaps in a moment of lucidity I could say; let’s put our clothes on, stop kissing, and talk about why we stopped talking.  

I thought I’d break from the usual fiction with a dose of Real Life.  It’s been a long and hard summer, and I’ve never been so glad to feel the chill of autumn, to smell those decaying leaves and to see my breath in front of my face as I walk to my car every morning.  Or tomorrow, when I have a day off and I’ll take my camera around this seaside town that shuts down for the winter and turns into every sun and rain faded postcard you ever found tucked in the weeds of an alleyway.  There are little fishing villages around here where you can walk in the dead of January, past empty holiday houses and narrow ginnels, and feel like the last human alive.

I feel alive tonight, albeit tired.  I’m looking forward to my dreams – whether I’m fucking, talking or – yet again – failing to control my car and crashing into everything.  I’ve turned up the heating, lit just a single candle so the tall roof of my house disappears into a warm gloom, and played some Northern Soul through my stereo.  So, in place of a picture, I give you something by Nolan Porter…. with all rights obviously reserved and not by me…

 

5 comments on “If I Could Only Be Sure

  1. S_MW says:

    This is so bloody good that I read it twice. I know that I’ll come back and read it a third time, because it’s that good. I tried to pick out a paragraph to copy and paste, so you’d know that it was my favourite bit…but I liked it all.
    I did laugh out loud at the inappropriateness of Delilah though.

  2. Fantastic writing, love the music too.

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