11:21: The town centre is absolutely heaving. There were crowds outside the IMAX theatre – not because they were going to see a film. I don’t think they’ve shown anything there in a decade. In fact the only other reason to be there besides to queue to get on the simulator ride or get some mini-fairground action, or maybe to head along the pier is to demand to have the building condemned and torn down. I headed from there to town through the park which contained yet more half-naked sun worshippers and ice cream purchasers. The hot air balloon was still there, sponsored by one of the town’s six local radio stations. Everyone was staring up at the wicker basket as it slowly descended on a pillar of hot air as one of its passengers wailed and screamed. I think people were trying to figure out if he was upset at returning to earth or annoyed that the chain which keeps the balloon Bournemouth bound didn’t snap and set them free.
The bookshop is a welcome haven away from the heat and bustle outside. People haven’t come in here to buy stuff as much as they have to cool down – ironic considering most of them are now queuing for piping hot coffee. I’ve been sat at the table for a good twenty minutes now; a table which I had to practically enter hand-to-hand combat for. At least fifteen people have asked if anyone else is sitting in the spare seat. I’m trying really hard not to lose my temper.
I catch a glimpse of Max walking through the bookstore from my position on the balcony. He looks hot and flustered, and a little out of breath. By the time he’s climbed the stairs and sat down I’m half convinced I’m about to witness a heart attack. “Shit dude sorry. It’s a bloody nightmare out there y’know!”
“In a rush were you?”
“Yeah, I just walked down from the office. No point in driving, you wouldn’t get a parking space!”
“True. Least you could do is dress yourself properly though!” He stares at me confused. I subtly point southwards. He’s clearly oblivious that he’s just walked through town with a gaping hole in the crotch area of his trousers. “Didn’t know you were such a fan of Danger Mouse!” I say, relating to his frankly poor choice of underwear. Still, it’s better than him going commando like in the old days. (Please, don’t ask me how I know that!)
We shoot the breeze for a few minutes over a couple of mocha’s (no sugar at all this time!). We ask about each others families, joke about the state the country is in. He asks me about work, I’d rather not talk about it. I ask him about his and he’d rather not either. We reminisce about the old university days for a bit, chat about the impending nuptials, and then he says “Yeah, so I wanted to talk to you didn’t I”.
“Um, yeah, there’s no real way of getting in to this subtly...”
“Since when were you worried about that?”
“Ha, yeah! Um, so...” His pauses are more excruciating than a Russell Brand stand-up routine. “So, did you see it?”
“See what? The news? Last night’s episode of EastEnders?”
“No! The...” He leans in a little closer and lowers his voice. “The...thing!”
“Well, no ’cos you’re wearing Danger Mouse boxers. Thank you by the way!”
“No! Last night. On the computer?”
I’d forgotten about that. Those messages. What’s he doing? “Yeah, um...saw it!” Oh crap now I’m pausing! “So, what’s that about then?”
“Christ don’t ask me, ask her!”
“Um, I don’t know her!”
“What? You fucked her!”
Now people are really looking. A cross section of angered parents disgusted at the puerile language and intrigued onlookers/Gossip Monger readers clearly wanting to know who (else) I fucked.
“What? Who? When?” Now I know I haven’t slept with someone who sends random messages to people I used to know through some random sex website. Have I?
“You were with her for ages man. You never told me about this side of her!”
“Okay, I officially have no idea what you’re talking about!”
“The...film man! The film!”
I shrug my shoulders.
“The fuckin’ home made porn film!”
“Oh. Yeah, I watched it again. What can I say? I like to see myself in action.” There’s a kid in the corner clearly transfixed by the conversation. His parents are trying desperately to distract him with a colouring book.
“Not you, you self-obsessed prick. Rita! Rita did a porno man!”
The whole world falls away. The polystyrene coffee cups, the sticky, stained tables, the lingering, inquisitive audience. Who’s Rita? they’re all asking. Who the fuck is Rita?
* * *
12:07: To say I’m disturbed is an understatement. At least Max was decent enough to drag me out of the coffee shop when he saw my reaction. He clearly didn’t know that I didn’t know. We left the other coffee shop consumers on the edge of their seats. They must’ve felt like they were watching a soap opera; the name Rita a cue for a knee-jittering cliff-hanger. The credits rolled as we walked out. There was short preview of the next episode as the small child in the corner asked “Mummy, what’s fucking?” The parents stared at each other, concern in their eyes. Cut to black.
We tried to find somewhere a little more private. But that was never going to happen. We’re currently sat in the park, just across from the hot-air balloon as it gears up for another ascent. Everyone’s sat around in the sun, just talking – some smoking. God I could use a cigarette right now! There’s a small band of street performers putting their body in positions I haven’t seen since that night with Vicky Yates. She was a dancer, very flexible. She was one of the subtle ones.
“So, what do ya think?” It’s a stupid question, even by Max’s standards. Shit, even Marcus wouldn’t be so stupid. No scratch that, he probably would.
“I have no words.” It’s the only reply I can muster. Ignore, just for a second, that I’ve just discovered that my ex of two years has done a homemade porno with some random guy, maybe her boyfriend at the time. Shit, maybe even her husband, I don’t know. Now think what you would say if you had just watched said porno on your former-best-mate-from-university’s mobile phone. Really think about it..........Yeah, told you. Disturbed!
“Why the hell would you carry that around with you?”
“Oh, I got yours on here too!” Max says, far too proud of his collection for my own liking.
“Why? What is this? You go around showing everyone with a big I knew them when story?”
“What’s your fuckin’ problem? It’s just sex man!”
“No it’s not. It’s my ex getting boned by someone I don’t know!”
“Yeah, emphasis on the ex part! What’s wrong with that? You did exactly the same thing!”
“Oh that was so different!”
“How? How was it different?”
“This is weird for me!”
There’s a strained silence between the two of us. Neither of us know what to say. One of the street performers is apparently able to bend forward enough to be able to lick his own arse!
“Look, I’m sorry. I figured you’d seen it!”
I shake my head.
“I’ll delete it now I guess.”
Don’t you just hate it when curiosity gets the better of you? “Oh give me the bloody phone!”
I pop open the screen again and press play. First thoughts: it’s a terrible set up. The camera has been set up at the bottom right corner of the bed. It’s zoomed in way too tight so you spend the majority of the time watching the guy’s hairy backside go up and down at various speeds and rhythms. Only when the girl in question lifts her torso up on her elbows can you identify her. Well, that and the occasional moan and scream, but only those who’d been in a similar position to the constantly moving hairy backside would know from that!
“You’ve gotta admit, she still looks fuckin’ fine!”
I mumble a small agreement.
“She doesn’t look to have aged a day there does she?”
“No, I guess not.”
“And those tits man...!”
I snap the phone shut. “No, no that’s enough.”
“What’s wrong with you man? Why you so bloody protective over her after what happened?”
A few people have asked me that question in the past. I’ve always tried to change the subject and up ’til now it’s worked. But here, now, there’s no getting away from it.