It was only when he told her his name that Joy knew who he was.
Before then, he was just “nice”. An obvious sexual predator, but at least his talk and manners were polite.
A little too polite.
A little creepy, but “nice”.
She was drunk, half a bottle of Bacardi and two pints of Guinness will generally do that to a human being. When he told her his name, he stared at her in the eyes and she hid her fear and revulsion. She was a good actress, she masked it with the other feeling she felt. It was curiosity that showed in her eyes. She had never met a man who had wanted to kill her before.
That’s what he called himself, such a cuddly name. A name from a bygone time, it was the name that stopped her smashing her pint glass in his face and running.
No, she had never met a man who had wanted to kill her before, she had met many who wanted to dominate her, who wanted to stick themselves inside her, who wanted to lie on top of her and half heartedly grind as if it was better than television, some who even wanted to rape her and the odd one or two who just wanted her as a friend to talk to.
The last time she had known Teddy, he had been a small, dumpy and very spiteful human being. Now, here in this dingy working man’s club with a garage rock band on stage playing MC5 covers, he seemed so different. There was an intensity about him, a self righteous character and an evilness that was downright sexy. She was intrigued, she had to admit. She knew it was dangerous to even communicate with him but curiosity and cats were only for people who were not aware of the danger they were in.
And she was drunk and hopelessly bored.
She wanted to see how far she could take it.
Joy had been driving herself mad for the last couple of weeks, listening to dear old Sam worrying about her, telling her to be careful, being the big brother. She needed to go out and enjoy herself, to let her short hair down, to get a shag, to not listen to her flat mate’s Alice’s turgid account of her work on the cancer wards, to meet people and to not be afraid. She knew that Sam was more scared than she was, she didn’t know why that was. She had not asked too much about his past life since their reunion but there seemed to be a lot of death in his head. She thought that his obvious paranoia was nothing more than a state of mind, like his visions. Special and possibly a different state of consciousness, but all in the mind nevertheless. She sensed a fear in him that bordered on the pathological. Maybe he was some kind lightning rod for bad luck? It didn’t matter because they were friends and he hadn’t spoken a word and the character in front of her was the only one she knew that remembered that awful time. Except her mum who was killing herself with booze and pills in a pub in Weymouth with her packet of Butler’s and her vodka shots.
What mattered in life?
She had been in dangerous situations many times and had always come out smiling. Why should this be any different?
Joy smiled at Teddy as she noticed him gazing out at the band on stage and all the other lost punters in the club, trying to grasp at life if only for a second. She was sure through the suffocating smoke and dry ice she saw a single tear flow down his cheek. This made her feel sorry for him. She saw him wipe away the tear and stare at the smudged salty fluid on the arm of his sleeve. He can’t be all bad. Or maybe it was just a reaction from the perpetual roll up in her hand.
Joy may have been drunk but she wasn’t about to allow him to buy her a drink. Date rape drugs could be bought by anybody. She bought the drinks and thought to spike his pint of coke with a double vodka. She stopped herself thinking that he would notice and she would learn nothing.
After a while the weight of drink in her belly was pushing on her bladder and she excused herself and went to the toilet. She didn’t expect him to be there when she got back.
The naked light bulbs in the grotty lime green corridor hurt Joy’s eyes. There was no queue but at the entrance to the gents a long haired sleazy mess of a creature in a purple velvet jacket whispered “acid” as she passed.
Joy stopped and thought “Why not? Let’s see ’ow Teddy weddy deals with this”.
Her paranoia about a date rape drug had given her an idea.
“’Ow much?” she asked conspiratorially.
“For you, my little acolyte, five of your earth pounds. This stuff is gooood.”
“Bonus!” she smiled the harsh light stinging her eyes, making the man shimmer and worked a little paper note out of her purse and he passed two small square pieces of paper to her.
“Thank you and see you again soon, my friend.”
Joy smiled but felt a sudden uneasiness envelope her.
Did she really know what she was doing here?
Getting into a cubicle, she pulled her jeans and knickers down letting her waters splash into the dirty unclean mess beneath her. Joy looked at the little square pieces of paper in her hand. They had a little goat imprinted on them.
“I shouldn’t be doin’ this” she thought “Not now”.
Then all her frustration at the situation welled up inside her. She felt as if she would explode as waves of tension flowed up and down her back.
Irrationally she made a sudden decision. She delicately palmed one of the tabs and necked the other one straight away. She finished pissing, wiped herself and finding a seconds pleasure in feeling the tissue rubbing against her brown pubic hair she sat for a full minute and enjoyed herself. Then she stood up.
She headed out to spike her enemy.
When she got back Teddy was still there staring at the band. He was determined fucker, she had to admit. Maybe he was secretly enjoying himself. He was clutching at his drink and it was almost finished. The look on his face seemed to have changed. He was whispering to himself and there seemed a malevolence in his smile when she returned. He had revealed his true colours in that look. She told him to drink up and went to the bar. Buying herself a gin and tonic and a small Coca Cola for him, she dropped the small unobtrusive piece of paper into the black liquid tooth rot and swirled the glass. He wouldn’t the little piece of mindfuck flowing sinking into his drink.
He grabbed his drink and took a big healthy glug. Then another one, the smoke was making him thirsty. He suddenly began coughing as something stuck in his throat. He swallowed the irritating thing thinking it to be a fly. He never took his eyes off the band with their cacophony.
They stood at the back of the hall in silence.
Time moved on.
Joy felt an itch slowly start to appear down her spine.
She felt the drug slowly but surely flowing around her bloodstream.
The band finally finished playing their retro noise and the lights changed. Over the sound system the windy and psychedelic intro to Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine” whirled and groups of females and lone men clutching their drinks as if they were a baby’s bottle headed for the open space that served as a dance floor. They began swaying awkwardly and frenetically as the primal beat washed over everyone. Joy squealed, grabbed Teddy’s arm and ran pushing all out of her way. Teddy jumped at this sudden activity spilling the rest of his drink down his front shirt. He was pulled onto the dance floor and surrounded by people moving, watching Joy dancing, her breast heaving and her waist wiggling and her arms flailing.
He began to feel light.
His neck was unusual.
He kept trying to massage it.
“I, I JUST TOOK A RIDE…”
He didn’t know what to do and dropped his glass onto the floor. He couldn’t remember how to hold a glass. He didn’t know what to do and realised that he had to pick up his glass. How did he do that? He must pick up the glass, his life and safety depended on it. He leant down to pick it up but it was kicked across the floor to under a table. He felt sad and wanted to find his glass. It was his glass and he was a chosen one.
“…AND I’M STILL FEELIN’ MEAN!”
Teddy began to feel a pressure on the top of his head. It was the Devil, he couldn’t see him but he knew. He started saying the Lord’s Prayer to himself.
“Our Father, whoar tin ’eav…”
He had forgotten the words.
He never should have approached the bitch. The succubus was here surrounded by all the other souls of the damned (sudden flash of colour, red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue) and he was here amongst them and they did not know who he was. He was there to save them and he knew that, even demons could be saved. But (there it was again) he had to find that glass. He sat down amongst the dancers and felt people’s eyes upon him. He felt their eyes had little colourful threads that were attaching themselves to him. The threads were taking him away from his glass. They wanted the grail for themselves.
Teddy looked up and saw Joy far above him in the sky. She was smiling and holding his glass. He leapt up into the air where she was and grabbed it, pulling it to his body, protecting it from her.
He stared at her and ran through the mess of smoke and beer and lights and dark corners.
He could not breathe.
He had to get out of the inferno.
He needed air.
He was going to die.
Joy followed Teddy up the stairs that led onto the streets. She was aware, being used to the alcohol and knowing that it was keeping the acid subdued, for now anyway. As she reached the world above, she saw the dealer waving at her through the window. His hand seemed to be moving very slowly leaving little trails of wine in the air as it moved side to side (or was it up and down?).
“It’s the acid” she thought, “…just the acid”.
She didn’t know what she suddenly felt about this man.
Why didn’t she just leave him to his bad trip, he was after all stalking her to kill her?
But was he?
What if Sam was wrong?
What if this human being just needed a friend?
Sam had told her about the insanity that his brother had inflicted upon his wife. But hadn’t he gone to prison for his transgressions?
Joy looked around her and saw a stumbling figure in the distance. She recognised it as Teddy and walked towards it. She began to feel guilty as she saw him collapse in a puddle and vomit on his shoes in a shop doorway. She was jogging now. She was running towards him. He was human and he was suffering.
Her trip had been rather pleasant until then. She had laughed when he was crawling about on the floor. He was funny. She could feel the sensation of the chemicals in her brain, but it didn’t make her afraid. She would leave the fear to Sam. She was done with fear. She told it so.
Teddy looked up and muttered something unintelligible as he saw her. She came over and began to stroke his hair.
“Hey Teddy, what’s goin’ on? You okay?”
“Leave me alone, woman!” he muttered weakly, trying his hardest to form each word properly as he spat out a piece of half digested cheese sandwich that he had eaten while following Joy home from her work earlier that day. He was still holding his glass and the light glimmered and pulsed as he moved it around in his hand. He swore to the Archangels in Heaven that he had not seen such a beautiful glass before. It shone. What was he doing? He had never lost control like this before. Something was very wrong. He was still thinking about Joy dancing when he began to cry. He felt defiled, dirty; the succubus was manipulating him, getting inside his brain, his soul. He felt all those feelings of weakness and inadequacy that he had tried to hide his whole life come blasting into his soul. He had kept them well hidden for so long, the shock made him vomit again and he forced back the tears, forced back the convulsions in his arms and legs. He saw his wife on the bed and felt her death like a kernel growing inside her. He saw his congregation, lonely souls, listening and relinquishing their wills to him as he chewed them up and spat them out.
He was special.
He wasn’t special.
What was he?
She was after his soul.
He felt like offering it to her.
For then, it would all to be over.
All the screams and the pain would be over, he would feel the colours shining off his glass forever. The threads would have him and would be happy. Everybody would be happy and he would be a martyr and sit at the right hand of the Lord.
He looked up at the woman stroking his hair and smiled.
“Why don’t ya come back with me? Come back to me ’ouse. I’ll look after ya.” Joy continued stroking his hair.
“Yes.” said Edward, “Yes, I will. I’ll come with you.”
“Good. Come on, then.”
Edward struggled to pull himself off the floor and he rested his hand on Joy’s shoulder to steady himself. They started walking and Edward turned to Joy and whispered “Thank you”. Joy looked at him without smiling and continued walking, the momentum of her body carrying him onwards.
They passed through the backstreets of London in virtual silence, the shadows interspersed with harsh street lights lighting their way, passing people returning home from a night out and others on to another club. They saw dodgy looking men wandering to god knows where to visit god knows who, who walked around them with faces that had never known smiles. Every time another person approached them Edward would squeeze Joy’s shoulder a little tighter. He was placid, a little lamb, a teddy bear.
They finally reached Mornington Crescent tube station, one way pointing towards Camden High Street which was still bustling with life outside the Koko club. Joy saw her house in the distance, on the corner of the crossroads. Edward saw it, too and began to pick up speed. He wanted to sleep, if he slept the threads would leave him alone and he would be alone with the shapes and colours. He let go of Joy’s shoulders and hurtled towards the house tripping as he did and at the crossroads, he fell down on his knees.
“’Ow did ya know I lived ’ere?” asked Joy with a twinkle of mischievousness playing in her eyes.
“I… I didn’t, it just seemed right” said Edward meekly, still keeping up the pretence but now he was starting to believe it. Things were different now. He didn’t know anything just now. He didn’t know who he was and what he believed in. He just wanted to sleep and there had been enough noise in his life. He wanted silence. If he must sacrifice himself to the succubus, so be it.
Joy pulled open the heavy iron gate and walked through the entrance.
“Come” she said holding her hand out, beckoning him in. He crossed over the threshold and stood still for a second. He was breathing very heavily and felt sweaty and dirty, the clubs cigarette smoke still clung to him and his throat. His mouth felt metallic and he touched his teeth to check if they hadn’t fallen out when he was sick.
In the living room, Edward was sat on the raggedy sofa. He was nursing a cup of hot steaming tea in his hand. He had never tasted soya milk before, but he had to admit that it wasn’t bad. Not quite as full as the milk from a sheep’s udders but not bad. And neither was the living room. With its plants, muted lighting and colourful band posters on the wall, it was not at all what he expected. He didn’t know what he expected. The room was quiet, in spite of being on a busy crossroads. It was peaceful and happy. It felt like a womb that welcomed him and all the colours around him seemed to meld into the shadows. The plants would gently move with an unseen and sneaky breeze that flowed through one crack in a floorboard or window frame. The solitary ashtray was filled to the brim with cigarette ends like a monument to moments in life. Everything in the room was alive and not just ornaments. He had to admit for the second time that evening that he was impressed.
Joy appeared in the doorway with an armful of duvets and pillows. She dropped them on the sofa next to Edward and sat down on the floor, crossing her legs as she eased slowly and tiredly down. Edward pretended not to watch her as she sipped almost secretly at her tea. She blew quietly on the liquid in the cup and seemed not to notice or care that this stranger was there, watching her.
Edward nonchalantly wondered what she was thinking of, he imagined it was of the past. He felt like admitting who he was, he was sure that she didn’t know. Still, she was a woman and which man truly knew what went on inside the mystery of their heads. She caught his eye and blushed. He continued staring and she responded in kind. Then she stood up and sat on the pile of bedclothes, pushing them until she had made herself a nest. Again she sat cross legged, her knees lying on top of his legs, her head resting on his shoulders. Edward froze and then felt sensation overcome him. He had no way of controlling the aching pleasure that was flowing through his body. It was delightful and painful all at once. It was not dirty but colourful like a patchwork quilt and he heard a joyful echo of a giggle emanating from the back of mind.
He did not remember when they started kissing, it just happened naturally, with ease.
Edward fell into it.
He was clumsy and childlike.
It was the first time he had kissed a woman since his wedding and even then it had been a peck on the lips, a puritan of a kiss.
A kiss to ban dancing to.
This was different, he abandoned thought and dived in.
He was sticking his head in a wedding cake and licking all the alcoholic icing away.
He was aware of the bitter taste of cigarettes on her saliva as he widened his mouth to take in more of the sensual feeling that covered his lips in spit.
The next thing he knew Joy had stopped kissing him and was clawing at his trousers.
He let go of everything.
He couldn’t stop her.
He didn’t want to.
He closed his eyes and greeted the kaleidoscope shapes as friends.
He felt his sweet and swollen member get pulled out of its hiding place and for a second he was cold in a place he had hardly been cold before.
Then something happened, he was propelled into the shapes, he became afraid and opened his eyes.
The succubus was eating him.
She was licking and sucking and her blond hair entwined with his dark mass of pubic hair.
They had become one, an androgyne.
Then the convulsions started that sent him flying out into her.
And she didn’t stop swallowing.
He was nothing.
He, Edward was striped away.
It hurt so nicely.
It didn’t stop.
Joy took his hand and led him towards her bedroom. Her air of seriousness overwhelmed Edward, he felt that this was a rite. Rite is not too serious a word. She certainly took her deflowering seriously.
She parted the beaded curtain with her free hand and turned on a lamp that was dressed up as Saturn. He was being initiated into something natural. It was something that he had always known was there but had been too afraid of. Something tangible and powerful. She threw him on her bed and he was naked within a minute. As he lay there on the soft sacrificial altar he realised how ridiculous it all was.
How ridiculous he had been.
He watched as the woman in front of him took her clothes off one by one. It was fascinating seeing flesh revealing itself for him. She then crouched down and delicately placed a CD inside a CD player that was on the floor half covered by a growing tangle of purple and green knickers and party tops.
“HEY, HEY, MOMMA SAID THE WAY YA MOVE, GONNA MAKE YA SWEAT GONNA MAKE YA GROOVE!”
Music started playing; he had never heard the song before but wished he had. It was indeed groovy. It was religious. The laughter inside his skull was growing louder and Edward started to join in. He began chuckling as he watched the succubus stand up, he felt himself get hard again, felt his balls creaking back into life, sore and ready for more.
“… GONNA MAKE BURN, GONNA MAKE YOU STING!”
Joy leant over him kissing his neck as she reached out to take a condom out of the box on the small bed size table next to Edward. He had never seen a new one before, only ones thrown into gutters on the sides of roads. He had always considered them to be little abortions. The death of tiny lives that were there to populate Heaven.
Now, he wasn’t sure.
“… DREAMS OF YOU ALL THROUGH MY HEAD!”
Then Joy was gently cooing his name.
“Edward, Edward. It’ll be fine, sweet.”
Edward remembered his dreams and the laughter bubbled up like a thousand Coca Cola bottles being opened at the same time. She was on top of him and guiding him in, he was crying with laughter into her breast as she rode him.
She was Babylon.
He was the Beast.
He began to join in and he and she were fucking, fucking like there was no tomorrow.
Grinding and sweating together.
Their grunts and howls were building to a crescendo together and as he shot his soul inside the little rubber sock, he saw her glow-in-the-dark Christ on the wall. He stared at it as the sad weeping figure stared back.
While Edward was sleeping, Russia and Iran were turning nasty. America was blustering and bullying and all their hands seemed to be hovering over the big red shiny buttons. It wasn’t so much a question of “if?” anymore, just when or where.
In his mind Edward saw Bronwyn in the kaleidoscopic geometrical shapes. She was dancing, twirling as light as a sparrow. She was happy. He floated off into the atmosphere. He could leave her alone now. He would see her in Heaven, for he knew now that that was where she was. Heaven.
It was still dark and most of Edward was back now. He was Edward. He was not Edward. All that he assumed he was had gone. It was nothing more than a fuck away. The music had stopped playing and he felt a slight wooziness and headache. He turned over onto Joy. She was not there. He squinted his eyes at the lamp that was still blazing with its rings turning around and around. He was disorientated and felt aches in legs and arms. A shooting pain shot down his back, the muscle memory from his previous sexual exercise. He vowed to start exercising himself.
He remembered the shelter he was staying at, they would be looking for him. He should phone them. He was in trouble now. He grinned, thinking that the trouble that he was in had been worth it. Images flooded his brain of the previous night. He remembered everything. Turning over he looked at the Christ on the wall and smiled.
“Don’t worry” he whispered, “I’m still here.”
Where was Joy?
Searching on the floor he found his underpants and sat on the edge of the bed while he awkwardly put them on. His crotch was throbbing and sore and he felt disassociated from everything. It seemed as if he was in shock. As if he had seen a different way of things. He felt the calmest he had felt since he could remember. The colours were still there at times, but the sacrifice had left him reborn. He could taste Joy’s body cream on his tongue, but the metallic taste no longer lingered and he could definitely feel his teeth. He wiped his hand across his face and realised that he needed to go to the toilet.
Where was the toilet?
He would ask Joy, she would know. It was after all her house.
Standing up, using the bed to steady himself, he opened the door into the living room and opened the beaded curtain. Joy was sat on the sofa and she was drinking from a bottle of Bacardi. It seemed like she had already gotten through a third of it. The room stank of old cigarettes and the ashtray seemed as if it would burst.
In Joy’s hands were an ever present roll up and the photocopied notes that Matthew had given to Edward the previous day. She was still reading them when Edward walked into the room. She was crying. She turned her head slowly up from the notes at the sound of the man entering.
“I, I need t’go to th’ toilet, Joy” he smiled weakly. He had been caught. He was willing to talk about it, but he really needed to go to the toilet before.
“You were really followin’ me, weren’t ya?”
“YOU REALLY WERE GOIN’ T’KILL ME, WEREN’T YA!”
“Look, I need th’toilet. Where is it, Joy?” he was desperate now, he could feel his piss was starting to leek out.
“Just tell me th’ truth, okay” she whispered. She seemed so different to the lover in bed the previous hours before. If she had been drinking since then, she would be out of control by now. He had to be careful. He didn’t want her to hurt herself.
“Can we talk about this after I’ve ’ad a piss, please?”
“NO!” she screamed and Edward heard movement downstairs. The other one must be in. She would know where the toilets were. He could hear her coming up the stairs.
Edward moved towards the corridor door and Joy leapt up off the sofa.
She dropped the papers on the floor and picked up the heavy ashtray, scattering its contents all over the room and half stumbling, swung it in the direction of Edward’s head. She saw her stepfather falling down the stairs again.
The last thing Edward ever thought was “It’ll all be okay now.”
The last thing Edward ever saw was Alice’s face at the door recoiling in shock.
The last thing Edward ever felt was his warm piss trickling down his leg.