Saturday August 10th 2013
He’s been staring at the blonde for ten minutes now. He can’t tell whether they’re making eye contact – she’s wearing sunglasses – but he’s sure she just raised an eyebrow. And those tiny shorts … it looks like she’s applied them with a spray can, one that didn’t contain much paint.
‘Target engaged,’ he says to the friends by his side, bumping fists, then pushing his way across the crowded dance floor.
He leans on the bar next to her, chest slightly puffed out. He purchased the T-shirt this afternoon – tight over his slim waist and white to show off his forearms, tanned and toned from working on the site. In heels, though, she’s taller than him.
‘What you drinking?’ he shouts over the thudding bass line of a generic RnB track.
‘Really?’ she says. ‘You came over to ask me that?’
He frowns and glances at his pack of leering friends. One of them smirks.
His gaze returns to her, his mouth slightly open, nothing but air coming out. Other men watch with interest – there are five for every woman in the club. The place is stuffed with cheap-looking expensive clothes, slick hair and testosterone.
‘No more lines ready, no Plan B?’ she says. ‘Do I seem like the kind of girl who can be bought with a vodka and Coke?’
‘What do you want for breakfast?’
The creases in his forehead deepen; still no words. He can’t see her eyes and that question leaves him shaking his head.
‘To have breakfast, we’d need to spend the night together, but that’s only implied,’ she says. ‘It’s clever – subtle. That’s how to impress someone.’
‘Breakfast … So–’
She grabs him by the waist, leaving him no time to react before she leans in and firmly presses her lips to his. When he moves his mouth, she’s already backing away, smiling. She lowers her sunglasses for a second. Perhaps it’s the lighting, but her eyes – he can’t quite tell whether they’re green or blue.
‘School’s out, home time,’ she says. ‘Are you coming?’
He gulps, suppressing the urge to salivate.
‘Follow me,’ she whispers in his ear, grasping his wrist, guiding him from the bar, out of the doors and up the stairs to the cloakroom. She collects her coat and they walk out together into an evening that requires nothing more than short sleeves.
‘What’s your name?’
‘I’m Sarah,’ she says. ‘Want to tell me yours? You don’t have to.’
A tentative smile spreads across his lips. ‘Gary.’
They walk silently up Dean Street and out of Soho, dodging groups of boys brawling and laughing, stepping off the pavement to move past slow-moving couples with arms around each other, heads resting on shoulders. Past the shuttered chain stores and souvenir shops in Oxford Street now, the hordes of bargain hunters long gone. And Fitzrovia, with its office buildings old and new, is deserted, just the odd drunk stumbling home or bewildered tourist searching for their hotel. A tatty green Nissan Primera approaches. It slows and the driver lowers his window.
‘Minicab?’ he says. No phone number on the doors, no sticker in the window.
She looks up and down the street, hesitates, then gives the driver a nod.
* * * * * * *
V.R. Stone loves crime stories – The Silence of The Lambs, The Sopranos, American Psycho, Pulp Fiction, Shutter Island – movies, TV shows and books featuring cynical cops, femmes fatale, gangsters and serial killers. Thrills, twists and violence – that’s what he craves. Give him a well-crafted tale featuring compelling characters on the wrong side of the law and he’ll be a happy man.
He really does have an unhealthy fascination with people getting shot, stabbed and strangled. But he doesn’t have the guts to set up a protection racket in his leafy London suburb, rob a bank or follow you home at night. So he sits alone in a room making up stories.
When he’s not busy with that, he works in the City of London and spends time with his very patient wife and very impatient children.
You can connect with V.R. at: