They had met in another life…and besides it reminded him of the Marlowe…the Jew of Malta, but in reverse. Let it all happen and none of it can touch you, Why interact when passive non-acceptance is so much easier? Then it started to return as memory overcame consciousness and forced the first recollections of the night before, somewhere towards the front. Damp them down, think about something else it is always so much easier – he’d said that to someone in a corner of a room at 3 o’clock. He didn’t bother to remember why or to whom, but it had raised a wan smile of measured acceptance after a momentary pause for thought. It wasn’t so transitory, maybe, it formed part of the shadow to the evening as the lights, dimmed to allow shrouded visibility, shone constantly on them. How long had he been there? Who did he know? He had been there and he had listened to everyone and nothing, as voices cut across each other to form long strings of white noise, punctuated occasionally by further discordant clarity and the occasional intelligible word. Stay in the corner and observe everyone observing everyone, but no-one looking. Pairs of people standing, sitting, or lounging like renaissance statues, outcasts from Bacchus’s last feast.
Time to do what? To get up? To stay? All felt equally uninviting. More options. She had said that thinking didn’t help her too much, but he couldn’t remember why, he was looking over her shoulder at something. She had a cross and a loop in her left ear like some casual(ty) from the eighties and its incongruity jarred with The Smiths Meat is Murder t-shirt, the Dennis the Menace tights and all of the regulation piercings. He would like to reel around the fountain. “Are you f*cking listening to me?” She had said it so quietly, she wasn’t looking at him. Was she even talking to him? Did she even say it? He said nothing, but changed the subject to the Ecstasy and Wine test pressing he had picked out, with unblinking eyes, from right under the unknowing eyes of those that thought they knew anything about anything. It wasn’t anything. He went there every day, he knew their names, but never said anything. They all understood that words would cheapen it for them. Of all the segues he had chosen or could have chosen, he chose that one. Time to pull it back, find some safer, more precarious ground. Don’t think, feel.
“What did you say? Sorry, I was thinking about that passage in the Imperfect Enjoyment.”
“Oh John Wilmot…Rochester…I love him…proper rock and roll poetry, like John Cooper Clarke…”
‘“Naked she lay, clasped in my longing arms,
I filled with love, and she all over charms;
Both equally inspired with eager fire,
Melting through kindness, flaming in desire.
With arms, legs, lips close clinging to embrace,
She clips me to her breast, and sucks me to her face.
Her nimble tongue, love’s lesser lightning, played
Within my mouth, and to my thoughts conveyed’”
A bit like John Cooper Clarke, maybe. She can quote Rochester. That wasn’t the bit I was thinking of, but she can quote Rochester. Who quotes Rochester at a staid, superficially Chi-Chi, party in suburban South London? On a Wednesday, with children asleep upstairs? Not just mouthing the lines, but Rochester quoted, with every comma, semi-colon, and full stop, every nuance and inflection unprescribed, but jarring as they fell into their rightful places, the space between them where they had momentarily, but could forever, reside(d).
I had been thinking that,
“All this to love and rapture’s due;
Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?”
But, the opening stanza fitted and the dance had begun, I knew where it led and so did she.