With a white stick of a fag between two fingers his companion pointed to a wooden crate while she sat with some ease on a blue plastic crate. It was the kind used in industry so it was large and gave her height. She could look level at the man taking his measure as he sat opposite her, very close, huddled in the seclusion offered by the wall.
“And ‘prey’ she stressed the word as if to mock him, “ do tell why ya have no idea who ya are?”
Without waiting for an answer to she again supplied one , “is it insomnia like were ya get hit ontu ead and can’t remember anythin?”
“The word you want is amnesia “ he corrected her and notice it had the effect of first deflating her for she was trying to be clever not witty and then a red rush of anger flashed cross her face.
He wanted desperately to placate not offend, so soothed her with
“Insomnia can cause amnesia I think, for in my case it was no blow to the head but a nervous breakdown, possible caused by insomnia, at least the medics said.”
She smiled, a face of satisfaction turned towards him, eyes wide with anticipation but her lips giving him only a morsel of a smile.
“Well, then” she prompted him after they fell into a small puddle of silence.
“Well, what?” he countered trying to decide if he should ‘confess’ to this stranger.
“Ya must have some idea of why ya cracked up, some idea of who thee be.?” her tone reminded him of the police questioning him when he first sort their help. Their help was to send him away to casualty, not their problem they decided.
His right hand, like a terrier trying to enter a rabbit hole, ruffled through his clothing and produced a scrap of a newspaper cutting.
“All I have is this.” he offered it to her but she declined, commenting,
“Me don’t read too good.”
“Oh!” he said realising the education system had failed yet again.
He started to read although he knew the words off by heart. It was the only tangible connection he had with a possible past.
“ A company director was being investigated after a female member of staff.” he paused to explain,”Most of the article is missing , I only have this bit.”
“Go on” his audience prompted.
“A female member of staff complained of being fondled and of other inappropriate behaviour.”
He paused again looking at his companion for any reaction but there was none.
‘Police have been contacted by the company and the director suspended pending an inquiry. The young lady involved is reported to be in her early twenties and according to witnesses had been drinking heavily at the companie’s Christmas party. Neither the victim of the alleged crime or the company director were available for comment.’
“That is it, That is all I have.” said the man folding the paper but without replacing it in his clothing.
Instead he opened his hand and let the paper drift away as if he could no longer find a use for it.
Flicking the end of her cigarette towards the water she smiled at him,
“And what makes ya think this be thee?”
“I have snatches of memory. A party, a woman in a tight fitting dress, great cleavage, a stumble and many hands upon me.”
He stopped as if ashamed.
Suddenly the girl laughed outrageously so much so it aroused anger in her companion.
“It is no laughing matter in today’s world.” he stabbed back at her with force.
“Sorry , sorry “she said, then regaining her composure asked,
“Did ya bed her, this filly, at any time?”
“I do not think so , I cannot even remember a face.”
Before the girl could speak he added, “Surely I would remember what a lover looked like?”
“Hell, no” smiled the girl before requesting, in a more serious tone “Well, did ya rape her?” .
“Nope, the police have no record of me being wanted for anything, that is one thing I checked when I discovered I had no memory.”
“To wake up on a railway station not knowing who you are or where you came from is a frightening experience.” he stated flatly.
The girl agreed then in way of explanation offered,
“When ya hear what I have been through the idea of thee putting a hand on a bitch’s arse and getting the sack , well it is so outrageous in comparison to my story ya have to laugh.
Now the man took a keener interest in his companion, studying her as if for the first time.
‘What has someone so young been through he thought?’ noting that while the face was young it did not have that free spirit , that zest for life he associated with the young. Indeed , with her cheap clothes and unkept short hair she had an aura of defeat about her. A defeat echoing from a battle lost long ago before her youth had had chance to glow. He sensed rather than observed her hopelessness and why the half demolished car stacker held such an allure.
“Tell more” she demanded leaning towards him as if to catch every word or offer encouragement. “got a missus?”
“I... think.. so, “ the man was hesitant.
“A red head with a pointed nose and very small mouth comes to mind. Quite pretty and well dressed, and always wanting money. Could that be a wife.?”
“Sounds very much like it “ answered the girl.
“I see he her in snatches like in a fog that lifts every now and then. The doctors said I would remember more in 12 months time but that was 14 months ago.”
“Bairns?” quizzed the girl like a KGB interrogator the word spat out as if this meant something more to her than merely a question.
“Yes, I think. I see two boys, young and every time I remember them I get a great feeling of weight, of crushing weight as if I am responsible for all they do. They are both a delight and burden and a feeling they are a trap. Does that make sense?”
“Sort of “ said the girl as if she now had her own memories to contemplate.
Breaking out of a self imposed reverie she said, “Sorry, I ’m sorry but somehow I canna believe ya have nowt of an idea who ya are.”
“Alas young lady, it is true except “ he stopped abruptly as if he had pulled something out of his memory that should not be disclosed. He was about to force this back into the box when she pleaded,
“Please, go on. Ya…. may be the last human... I speak to. Please tell me more about ya’sell.”
Such was the softness in her voice, a sincerity of sound of reaching out, a human thing when one person desperately needs to communicate with another. It was there surfacing from beneath this strange relationship like a submarine rising and crashing through ice.
“Well, “ he started leaning forward to conspire with her, “it is a smell really and it brings back one of the few clear memories I have.” He paused either for effect or collect his wits.
“The smell is that of a woman’s perfume. I have smelt it twice in the last year or so and it brings back this intense memory. Just the smell stops me in my tracks. There, I am young, about your age . My guess is I was between school and University for as you say I am educated. I am in a room with a large photocopier, a huge beast of thing of bye gone days, like a woolly mammoth they are extinct now. Feeding it paper I am lost in thoughts when someone enters the room closing the door behind them. Not looking up the first thing I know about who walked in is the smell.
“It is a delicious rose like smell, delicate put strong if that is possible. It causes me to look up and the perfume belongs to a mature woman just under 40 I would now say. She is very smartly dressed in a pristine while blouse with some frill, a tight black office skirt and gold on her hands and around her neck. She unbuttons her blouse slowly grabbing my attention. She does not smile but smirks like a cat looking at its prey.
I am both terrified and entranced.”
He stops to look closely at his companion who is hanging on his every word.
“Go on” she says prompting him.
“She closes on me with a sure steady step of a superior being. Now she kisses me lightly on the lips stealing my breath , breathing my air, in exchange sending me fragrances of perfume and woman.
My heart is pounding and I have no idea what to do.
“Close you eyes” she commands rather than requests and I obey without hesitation. Those are the only words she ever speaks to me.
I feel her hand in my trousers and my trousers fall around my ankles.
She breaks into peels of laughter and leaves.
I feel humiliated.” The man falls silent.
“that’s it?” shouts the girl , “is that all?”
“Yes. I don’t think it is a dream or fantasy, I am 100 percent sure it happened. And what if it made me a womaniser. Is that why I was fooling around at that party all those years later.? What if” the man was talking rapidly now, “What if I was subconsciously trying to fulfil the desire that woman had aroused, what if all my life I had been looking for her!”
“Bullshit” barked his companion, “Me donna believe in all the subconscious crap.”
“You didn’t tell anyone this did you?” she asks.
“N...No” stammers the man.
“I doubt if they would believe ya, even if ya did. Now , if a man did that to a lassie today well,” said the girl, rolling her eyes, “except if that girl was someone like me.”
“What do you mean ‘someone like you’ ?” the man started another thread running.
The girl laughed in a painful way, “My story Is a bit more ‘earthy’ , shall we say than yours?
“Earthy” echoed the man and then asked again, “Why except someone like you?”
“cos I is white trash, the only thing lower than mi’sell is male white trash it strikes me, cos female white trash is valuable and male white trash is no good for anything bar trouble.”
“How do you mean?” said the man mystified.
“I suspect before your ‘accident’ shall we say, ya had no notion of my world , no idea it existed.”
“Perhaps, I cannot say what I thought or believed in or what worlds I traversed.”
“There”, she speared him, “‘traversed’, no one in my world would use such a word. You are a f..
frigin educated liberal with posh dinner parties and so, so correct.”
“Not now if ever I was” he corrected her.
“Shit no”, she sympathised and her anger rose again against his class, “Fuck I ain’t telling ya owt.”
“Why ever not?” he seemed genuinely puzzled by this change in attitude towards him.
“Cos , cos you would not understand the rules by which I live.”
Before he could speak she muttered to herself, “Well, I intended to end that.”
“I am sorry but if you don’t tell me I will have to resort to the cruelty of bribery.”
“Shit, what ya got?” she ask with the conviction of a sceptic but with a smile.
“From somewhere he produced a tube of wine gums.”
She looked at them in silence then breaking into a peel of laughter took a sweet.
“Ok, I will talk.”