Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Guilty, Moi?

Just two days without Gavin had left me like a drug addict craving a fix. He hadn’t phoned since our night together, but since he hadn’t promised he would, I couldn’t exactly chastise him for breaking his promise. All he’d left me with was the vague suggestion that maybe we’d catch up with each other tonight, after the show taped. Since it wasn’t much to hold on to, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high.

Since that night, the days had passed in a haze of lovely long sexual fantasies about Gavin. The only time I’d been pulled back down to earth was when I’d made lots of lovely long phone calls to Connor, to assuage the sense of guilt that had started to plague me.

This morning, as usual, I had The Curly Mackaw Show on while I drove to work.

“So Curly, I hear Sachiko Fiorelli’s in town,” said Billy Bonzo, Curly’s side kick. “You’ve been telling me for years you reckon you could turn her straight. Do you think you’re up to the challenge?”

“Easy peasy,” bragged Curly. “I’m going to bet you five hundred quid, right now, that I can land a date with Sachiko. Are you on?”

“I’d have to see it to believe it.”

“Put your money where your mouth is.”

“All right. I don’t mind taking five hundred smackers off you. I know you’ve got this thing about her, but I can’t see it myself. For one thing, her tits are too small.”

“You know me, Billy, I’m not fussy. Big, small, silicone or saline. I love ‘em all. ” I chuckled to myself. Curly really was a Grade A asshole.

“All right Curly, steady on. We’ve got to go to a break now, but when we get back we’ll be meeting Fiona French, the new starlet who’s currently setting the adult film world alight.”

“Ooh,” groaned Curly. “I can hardly wait.”

The familiar tune of the Villorex jingle pinged into life: “To zap haemorrhoids fast, just say ‘Villorex please.’ In a flash sitting down will be comfort and ease.”

Every time I heard that jingle, Connor popped into my head. I really should call him, I thought. Anxious to hear whether his Dad had reappeared from his drunken binge yet, I reached for my phone.

“Hi Connor,” I said. “How are you?”

“About the same as I was when you called me yesterday afternoon.”

Okay, so maybe I was overdoing it just a tad, phoning him three times a day. If I didn’t ease off a bit, he’d start thinking I was psycho.

“Is your Dad back yet?”

“Oh yeah, crawled home with his tail between his legs early this morning, looking like a tom cat that had been in a fight. I had a right go at him, and he started crying. Said Mum having the accident had been too much for him to cope with. He’s just now gone off to the hospital to see her.”

“And how are the Evil Twins? Behaving themselves?”

“Hardly. Sean was caught shoplifting at Ann Summers the other day. You know, the sex shop.”

“Oh no.”

“Oh yes. Burst into tears when they nabbed him. Said he was short on cash and had wanted to get a present for his sick Mum. He might have got away with it too, only the pants were crotch-less and the bra wouldn’t have covered two cherries.”

I chuckled. “Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh, but you’ve got to admit, that is funny.”

“I know. What an idiot, eh?”

“What about you? Have you had a chance to relax at all?”

“Well, I did manage to fit in a drink with some old pals last night. They’re a great bunch of lads and I know I’ll really miss them when I have to come back to London. Not as much as I’ll miss the Guinness though, which is way superior than the stuff they serve in England.”

“I think you might have mentioned that before.”

“I did?”

“Yeah, only about four hundred times,” I said, and he gave a hearty laugh.

This was the weirdest relationship, for want of a better word, I’d ever had. We’d gone straight from nothing to the sort of easy intimacy that takes years to develop. That counted for something, didn’t it? I kept telling myself that this thing with Gavin, it was crazy, it was nonsense, that it was nothing compared to the bond I had with Connor.

Unfortunately my subconscious didn’t give a fig about the altogether more wholesome Connor. Later that morning, as I sat in a meeting with a couple of Flowerette’s marketing people, tantalizing bits of Gavin’s body kept flashing behind my eyes like a slide show. Their presentation about projected sales figures and profit margins might as well have been held in Norwegian for all the impact it made. As the meeting concluded I looked down at my notepad to see what l’d written, but all it contained was a big G surrounded by dozens of tiny hearts. I told myself to get a grip, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything for the rest of the day, until Tanya called, which was something of a surprise, since she hadn’t said two words to me since our spat on Saturday night.

“Hi,” she said, breezily. “I just remembered, isn’t that taping of Genderblast


“Is it?” I said, pretending I’d forgotten. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“Look, I’m sorry I’ve been a bit of a cow recently, but I just had to know whether you’d managed to get Sachiko tickets?”

“Well, I did phone Gavin in the end. I also asked for a ticket for myself, since I’ve sod all else to do tonight, and mine’s arrived,” (no need to mention he’d delivered it personally before ravishing me on the sofa), ”so my guess is that hers probably have too.”

“And during this phone conversation, I suppose he asked if you were interested in coming round to his for some rumpy pumpy on his polyester sheets, to which you replied that it was quite impossible, because you couldn’t climax on anything less than six-hundred-thread-count Egyptian cotton?” She started to laugh hysterically.

I hesitated. Part of me was absolutely dying to tell her everything. About my night with Gavin. About how I hadn’t even noticed how damn uncomfortable her sofa was because the sex had been so amazing. But I couldn’t. Talking about it would mean I couldn’t pretend to myself, as I had been doing up until now, that he’d just been a Robolover and that all those screaming orgasms had just been, if not a mistake, then of no real consequence. No, until I had worked out what, if anything, I did feel for him, apart from a throbbing ache between my legs, I wasn’t going to blab.

“We didn’t talk at all, I just left a message on his voice-mail.” I knew exactly what she was up to. Any moment now she’d ask me to get her a ticket. “Now look, sorry to be rude, but I’m really going to have to get back to work.”

“Actually, I was wondering if you could wangle me a ticket for tonight. I’d be awfully grateful. I don’t know how you put up with me, really I don’t. With my moods and my slobby ways. If you get me a ticket, I promise to scrub the shower every day, and I’ll even do the washing up for a week. Please?”

I enjoyed feeling her squirm. She was obviously desperate.

“Look, of course I can get you a ticket.”

“Ooh, goody. Thanks so much for this Scarlett.”

“But I’m not going to. It’s for your own good. This Sachiko obsession has got way out of hand. If you turn up in the audience, she’ll just think you’re stalking her.”

“No she won’t.”

“Goodbye Tanya.”

As I walked across Soho after work, my thoughts veered towards Gavin. The weather had hotted up again, and the streets smelt of rotting vegetation. I began to feel light-headed, partly from the smell, but partly too, because of the mix of anticipation and anxiety churning about in my stomach.

Sitting in the studio audience waiting for the seats to fill up, I felt antsy. I told myself to stay put, to wait until after the taping, but suddenly I knew I had to see him.

I was just about to go backstage, when Sachiko and Chad sat down beside me. And then pretty soon there was no chance to slip away because Helenka had walked onto the studio floor in a tight white pantsuit, and had started to interview the famous transsexual lawyer, Carla Kraus.

Sachiko was utterly transfixed, her eyes wide. She was equally mesmerized by a flame haired lesbian actress who had a lisp, whose name I forget, and a gay porn star called Dorian Dong, who’s tale of rising to the porn firmament from a trailer trash childhood seemed a little too melodramatic to be believed. By now, all I was thinking about was Gavin and how soon we could have sex.

When the show was done, Sachiko jumped up, pulled her tiny orange dress down over her thighs and said, “Look, can you do me a favour? Do you think we could go backstage and you could introduce me to Helenka?”

“Sure, why not?” I said, smiling to myself. This would give me the perfect excuse to seek out Gavin, I thought, leading Chad and Sachiko round to the back of the studio floor. There was a badly shaven guy guarding the door, who shrugged when I said I was a friend of Helenka’s.

“Look love, I’ve let through her quota of girlies for today. You’ll both have to come back tomorrow. And you, mate, have got no chance,” he said, pointing at Chad, who looked relieved. “Strictly no one with balls. Them’s my orders.”

“Hey Sachiko, maybe we should split,” Chad ventured.

“Look honey,” Sachiko said softly, stepping up to the guard, and placing her hands on his shoulders. “We really need to go see Helenka, okay?”

He looked up at her, his expression a mixture of lust and fear. “’Ere, aren’t you that Japanese model bird?”

“I am. And if you don’t let us through this instant, I’ll see that you’re fired.”

Which did the trick. He ushered us in. Soon we were walking down the crowded corridor. I was frantically looking round for Gavin’s blond crop, without success.

“This is such a bummer,” said Sachiko. “Wait. Maybe you could call her, tell her we’ll meet her after the show next week? See if you can organize it.”

“Sure,” I said, scanning the corridor for Gavin as we headed towards the exit. Not catching sight of him made me feel utterly depressed. Once we got outside, I told them I was going to head off.

“Hey, don’t go just yet,” said Chad, as he pulled open the door of the glossy black car that had been waiting for them. ”Is there any chance you might be able to hook me up with Malc tonight? I really liked the look of him, from what I saw on the show.”

So, Chad fancied old horse face. It just went to prove there really was someone for everyone. “Let me think. He usually goes to this club called Fred’s on Wednesdays. You could try him there.”

“Great. I really fancy a club,” said Sachiko. “You’ll come along too, won’t you?”

“Actually, no, I’m really bushed.” I gave a big fake yawn. “But you two have fun.”

“Don’t be such a party pooper,” Sachiko said, playfully pushing me into the car. As she pulled the door closed, I realized I was trapped. Trapped between a supermodel and her PA, whose eyes were all lit up expectantly at the prospect of seeing Malc, like a kid who’d been told Father Christmas would be popping in on his way back to the North Pole. The sad bastard.

Fred’s is in South Kensington, an infamous, low-key gay venue where lots of media types hang out. Although the queue to get in was a mile long, Sachiko sashayed her way to the front, and after a brief chat with the bouncer, was waved through.

Every eye in the house swivelled in her direction as she made her entrance. The walls were mirrored, and I watched as dozens of Sachiko’s did their haughty catwalk strut across the dance floor towards the tables at the back of the club. Shaking back her bob, she lowered herself onto a chair, propped her face up on her elbows, and gave her public a tiny smile of acknowledgment.

“I wish someone would look at me the way those guys look at you,” said Chad huffily, as we sat down beside Sachiko.

“If you like, I can hire you a male escort,” said Sachiko, grinning.

“I don’t need an escort. The guy I want is right here. Somewhere.”

“While you’re waiting for lover boy to show up, go get me some Cristal,” said Sachiko, and Chad hurried off to do her bidding. Cristal champagne? I’d thought these LA types only drank wheatgrass. Maybe the night wouldn’t turn out to be a total disaster after all.

Glancing around, it was clear that there was a definite lack of breasts.

“Sorry there aren’t any girls here tonight.”

“That’s okay, I don’t actually pick up women at clubs.”

“So where do you pick them up?”

“You know, if two people are meant to be together, they just find each other. They’re drawn together like powerful cosmic magnets. That’s what usually happens to me. You know what I mean?”

“Actually, I do. The first time I first met Alistair at a party, it was pretty magnetic. We were both dating other people at the time, but as soon as we grazed fingers while reaching into a bowl of peanuts, the drone of the party faded. As we gazed into each other’s eyes, I knew I’d found my soul mate. A few months later we were married.”

“Oh? I didn’t know you were married. I actually thought you were …” She stopped in mid-sentence and shook her head.


“It doesn’t matter. So, are you happily married?”

“Not exactly.” I ended up telling her everything. About the trial separation, about leaving Ivy behind to move in with Tanya, and about how I didn’t know how I was going to resolve this great big mess I’d created.

“Sounds like a real downer. Still, you’re lucky to have a daughter. I’d love to have a kid some day with Natasha. Not that I ever will. She never wanted us to be out as a couple. Wanted to keep it a big secret. Said it would damage her career if her fans knew she was gay. You know how it is.”

Well, no, actually, I didn’t have a clue.

“Oh absolutely,” I said, not knowing what else to say. By now I was beginning to feel genuinely tired. Chad too was beginning to wilt, because his dream man appeared to have given Fred’s a miss tonight. Minutes later, however, I bumped into old horse face himself outside the Ladies.

“My God, how the heck did you become friends with Sachiko Fiorellli?” he gushed.

“Nice to see you too Malc.”

“No really, how did you?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know? Actually, I know you’re massive ego’s probably going to explode, but her PA Chad has the hots for you. He’s with her now. Why not come meet him?”

“Some Californian air head. No thanks.”

After much persuasion, I brought him over to Sachiko’s table.

As soon as Malc laid his eyes on Chad, and took in his well-muscled arms and tight white t-shirt, he beamed. Evidently, the fact that he might be an air head was no longer an issue.

Once Malc had sat down and poured himself a glass, Chad leaned in towards him and said, “Hey, did anyone ever tell you have a really cute fanny?”

“What?” Malc spluttered into his drink.

“I think he means bum,” I said.

“Yeah, I mean bum.”

“Well, thanks,” said Malc, and he and Chad exchanged soulful glances.

The atmosphere was getting a little too throbbing with sexual tension for me, so I suggested to Sachiko that we hit the dance floor. She really went for it, closing her eyes and shimmying her shoulders to a James Brown number, totally unaware that every guy in the house was staring at her. That was the awesome power she had. The power to turn the most committed gay man straight, at least for one night.

Once we’d got back to our table, where Malc and Chad were whispering to each other, I took a good look at Sachiko, and wondered if she was actually human. Her skin didn’t seem to have any pores and she wasn’t sweating at all, which, after all that dancing, was pretty amazing. I wiped my own sweaty forehead with the back of my hand and took a deep swig of Cristal. Feeling energized, I decided I’d soften her up for a few more minutes, and then tentatively slip in the idea of her being the face of Fondantdew.

“So how’ve you been dealing with your break up with Natasha? Are you over her?”

“I’m getting there,” she said, forcing a smile. “There’s a part of me that still hates her, of course. Hates her for denying that I existed in public, for so long. I mean, I tried. I really tried. But there’s only so long you can tolerate a situation where someone loves you in private and not in public. It’s just crazy.” I nodded sympathetically. This probably wasn’t the best time to mention that Natasha had actually finished with her, not the other way around. “I’m over her, of course I am, only, I just wish things had been different between us. The real trouble with the relationship was …”

Well, without going into too much boring detail, I pretty much found out everything you’d ever want to know about Natasha Jones, like that she’s allergic to dairy, hates wearing socks and is scared of lifts. Oh yeah, and that she’s the most wonderful woman on the planet, as well as the world’s biggest bitch. I chipped in with the occasional sympathetic comment, but it was pretty much the Sachiko show.

“Oh Scarlett,” Sachiko said, leaning her head against my shoulder. “Where did I go wrong? I mean, you tell me. I couldn’t go on living a lie, could I?”

“Of course you couldn’t,” I said, helping her to her feet. “Maybe we ought to get you home. Where are you staying? The Park Lane Sheraton, isn’t it?”

She nodded. “When I gave that interview to People magazine without consulting her first, I thought she’d be delighted, but boy was I wrong. You should have seen her, she was so mad and, hey, where the heck is Chad?”

I scanned the dance floor, which was now almost empty. Chad, as well as Malc, were nowhere to be seen.

“They must have hooked up,” I said, as I escorted her to the exit. Her car was waiting for her outside, and I eased her into her seat.

As she rolled down the car window, I bent down so I was face to face with her. I was wearing high heels and was finding it hard to balance, and must have tumbled forward, because suddenly my face was squished against hers. I pulled away an inch, placing my palms against the car, trying to regain my balance.

I was staring at Sachiko, at her gorgeous eyes, watching them roll back in her head, when she kissed me.

She reached out of the window and, wrapping her hand around the back of my head, pressed my lips hard against hers. I wanted to ask her what the heck she thought she was doing, when she probed her Cristal-tasting tongue into my mouth. At that point, I surrendered. I opened my mouth a little more and leaned into her, and mmm, the way she was teasing my tongue with hers was, well, as a matter of fact, it was hot. I mean, God, who wouldn’t want to kiss Sachiko? She’s just so … perfect.

And then there was the click of a camera, the flash of lights. Flash, flash, flash. I jerked away. Glancing over my right shoulder, I saw a figure hurrying off down the street. As I straightened up, I watched Sachiko give a final wave, before sinking back in her seat.

As I clambered into a cab and headed home, I kept telling myself it was no big deal to kiss a girl. But this was a big deal. This wasn’t just any girl. This was Sachiko Fiorelli, and someone had taken pictures.

By the time I got back to the apartment, I was bursting to tell Tanya all about it, so it was quite disheartening to find her zonked out on the sofa, with the TV still running. As I switched it off, she stirred and said sleepily, “Oh hello. Is it morning?”

I glanced at my watch. “No, wow, only two o’clock. I thought it was later. I am so out of it.” Plonking myself beside her I said, “You won’t believe what just happened to me.”

She sat up and pulled her pink dressing gown around her. “Won’t I? Actually, I think it’s pretty obvious.”

“Is it?”

“Course it is. Your lipstick’s all smudged. And its pretty damn obvious who you’ve been kissing. It’s Gavin, isn’t it?”

“Gavin? Why on earth would I—“

“Oh, give me a break. You can stop pretending. I do know the effect he has on you. What’s happened to you Scarlett? It seems like these days, one slice of pizza, and you’re anybody’s.”

“What? I didn’t even talk to Gavin tonight, and what does pizza have to do with anything?”

“You can stop fibbing. I know.”

“Know what?”

“The other night, I could smell pepperoni in the air, so I followed my nose and ended up in the living room. I was going to ask if I could have a slice, but you two looked kind of busy, so I helped myself.”

I felt sick. “Oh God Tanya, why didn’t you tell me?”

“I was waiting for you to tell me. To tell you the truth, I’m pretty hurt you didn’t confide in me.“

“There’s really nothing to tell. It just sort of happened. Call it a temporary loss of sanity.” That wasn’t really the truth, but the way I felt about Gavin was confusing, and I was very tired and drunk and really didn’t feel like going there. “In any case, I’ve told you, me and Connor are practically dating. I know its only phone calls for now, but it kind of feels like we’re getting serious.”

She gave a sharp blast of laughter. “Since you two haven’t even kissed yet, you can hardly call it dating! Whereas Gavin and you have exchanged more than just saliva. I’d say if you’re dating anyone, it’s Gavin.”

“So you reckon you can only be going out with someone if you’ve kissed them?”

“Well yes, I mean, some kissing has to take place before one can officially declare oneself an item.”

“So,” I said, trying to act cool. “If Sachiko kissed me this evening, does that mean we’re an item?”

Tanya’s eyes flew open. “You’re having me on!”

“I’m not. We went to Fred’s, and at the end of the night she gave me a goodbye kiss, which turned into something a bit more.”

Tanya leaned over, grabbed my face and plonked a kiss on my cheek. “You know what this means don’t you? It means Sachiko likes you. No, better than that, she lurrves you.”

“Steady on. I don’t think—”

“And that you’ll be able ask her about Fondantdew any day now.”

“You have such a one track mind,” I said, yawning and heading for the door.

“I guess you’ll be dreaming about Sachiko tonight,” Tanya called after me.

As it happens, I didn’t dream of anyone that night, I was in such a deep stupor.

I groaned when my alarm woke me at seven. My mouth tasted like a rat had died in there, and my head was filled with a searing, high pitched pain.

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