1.7 - A STRANGE ALLURE
Nick and Craig’s friends were waiting in the bar and they greeted the plague doctor and Dr Frank N Furter with a cheer. The couple proceeded to introduce Becky to the group not only by telling her their proper names but also their ‘labels’ - “Straight”, “Bi”, “Gay”, “Undecided” and “She’ll Shag Anything With a Dick”. They all laughed and welcomed her with gusto then ushered her into the middle of the group.
When asked what her ‘label’ was, she answered without thinking - “Broken.” Their looks of pity and concern soon made her regret the utterance, so she turned it around. “Hoping to become ‘Fixable’ by the end of the weekend,” she offered, with a tentative smile. They all relaxed once more, and the fun got underway.
The music was loud, the beat deep and sultry; addictive - it was impossible to stay still, although Becky was not quite as demonstrative as the others. They gyrated and swayed to the rhythm allowing it to entice them and draw out their ‘darker’ sides. It was harmless enough, almost bordering on lewd at times but contained within their little group no-one else ended up thinking they were being hit upon.
Boisterous, outlandish, and as camp as they were, Becky’s mind had been held to ransom by the tall, gothic male she’d encountered at the door on arrival.
She was positive it was the same man she had seen earlier, standing at the harbour-front beside the railings. He was dressed better. Perhaps he’d done the same as she had and headed back to his hotel to change. Whatever, she found her eyes drifting to the door every now and again, just hoping for another glimpse.
She sighed and pulled her gaze away from the entrance, a determined effort not to give in to her dangerously reckless notions. This isn’t good, she told herself. I’m hurting like hell and yet already I’m behaving like some desperado, looking for the tall, dark and, no doubt, Mr Nasty Number 2.
Disgruntled by her pathetic musings, she looked down at the empty glass in her hand - her sixth empty glass at that. They were going down rather well, which heralded a bitch of a hangover in the morning. Yet oddly, she felt no effects of the alcohol. Nothing. Normally by now, her vision would be blurry around the edges, her eyes feeling as if they were in custom-made little hammocks.
“C’mon, Becky!” Nick pulled her into the middle of the group again and started jumping up and down as the music changed tempo; a livelier thrum with bluesy connotations.
She joined in and for the most part, enjoyed her time with her flamboyant new friends. They were funny, friendly, positive people. Eventually, however, she started to tire of having to be constantly upbeat. While she did not feel particularly inebriated three hours down the line, she was nonetheless, becoming a little morose.
Her feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness seemed to be looming up from behind, like a shadow of unforgiving gloom, threatening to blanket her completely. Widening the lens that focused on her life, she found other imperfections.
Her job had started becoming tedious a couple of years ago. Her clients, all the smaller car dealers, family-run businesses and independent tradesmen meant she was limited in drawing up advertising campaigns. Their budgets were small, they could not afford a big splash and then pay the price tenfold if things didn’t work out as planned.
It gnawed at her inner creative self. There were no openings though for the bigger, better patches where she could exercise her imagination. She wanted to be lavish, sensational, but her ideas had been met with scorn and indifference from her clientele.
Life became humdrum... until Michael appeared on the scene 11 months, 16 days and - she looked at the clock above the bar - seven hours and thirteen minutes ago. Or thereabouts.
She had fallen fast, although she’d tried not to. But, he was witty, charming, passionate. Now she wished she hadn’t met him, of course. Cheating bastard!
Her emotions were fluctuating between anger, hysteria and morbidity. It was time to leave, return to her room.
Punch the pillows, maybe.
And deny her tears as they mingled with the water from the shower when she washed away her make-up.
Having said her farewells to the party-animals, assuring them she would be fine, she left the bar and headed along the street. She shivered a little from the cool night air, but it was bearable. The walk up the hill would soon warm her.
The pubs and clubs were still busy, people wandering from one to the other, sampling different music and enjoying new banter and company.
A few said hello, smiling as they could not help but adopt the salutations indicative of Victorian etiquette. She returned such greetings, but her smile was forced.
Rounding the corner, she began the stroll up Skinner Street to Belle Vue Terrace. She stopped outside the White Rabbit, a gift shop which carried a large stock of Alice in Wonderland-style merchandise.
She stared in the window for all the interior was dark and she couldn’t see much beyond the wide window sills. Regardless, her eyes traced over their themed clothing, embroidered with fanciful haberdashery and surrounded by intricate candles, bath bombs, figurines and a myriad of souvenirs.
So engrossed had she become that she did not notice the youth loitering nearby; at least not until he snatched her bag and started off at a run. Startled, she teetered slightly but found her voice to shout after him.
Before she found a spark of momentum to try to chase him, she saw another figure dart out from one of the side streets. This one grabbed the youth’s arm almost pulling him off the ground.
Becky stared in awe as the figure seemed to whisper something to the thief before taking her bag and shoving him forcefully away.
The youth stumbled but wasted no time in leaving the scene.
Rooted, Becky watched as the figure approached, his strides long and steady. Her heart started to pound as she recognised the mysterious man. He stopped in front of her and handed over her bag.
“Thank you,” she said, a little breathless.
“You are welcome,” he replied with the hint of an unknown accent.
Words escaped her. There was a very strange allure about this individual. Whether it was just the effects of the alcohol which made her find him so, she wasn’t quite sure, but she found him...unique. She blinked, stifling a guffaw at her rather strange asservation of the man.
“Hurry home,” he said.
“I - I don’t come from...” She was distracted by his sudden alertness of something behind her. She turned to see what had grabbed his attention. “What is it?” she asked, panicked again, eyes darting. Turning back she was met by an empty space. She spun around, looking in all directions. He had simply vanished.
Unnerved by the whole incident now, she picked up her step and hurried to the guest house.
Once in her room, she made doubly sure the door was locked before flopping on the bed, her heart hammering.
As she concentrated on regulating her breathing, his face swam before her eyes. Who was this man? How was it they had crossed paths, so-to-speak, 3 times in one day?
And how could it be, that amid all her agony, she found herself inexplicably drawn to him?