Pat Dingle

     I smelt her before I saw her. The scent of roses blood red, full with fragrant life drifted to my upturned nose. Soft and pleasing, her perfume filled me with a warmth and wonder that I had last felt some distant time ago.
     I breathed deeply, half closing my eyes, focusing on her, drinking her in. A musty underlay hung around her causing me to smile a secret smile.
     The smell of sex is unmistakable on a woman I find, and although just an underbelly to her delightful aroma the smell on her was recent. I smiled my conspirator grin again. We had some secret shared knowledge now. We were connected already.
     My penis twitched.
     I turned to see her, my eyes snapping open in anticipation.
     She stood level with me in the next till line. She was constantly moving, jogging on the spot like a very young child desperate for the lavatory. She craned her perfectly smooth, pale neck in a gesture of impatience but one of exquisite beauty, trying to see where the end of the queue was. When all that met her cold blue eyes was chaos I saw her decide to do a spot of cheating. After all a goddess such as her shouldn't be made to wait in line like a commoner. Tossing her blond mane behind her she made her move, confidently floating towards the till.
     As she moved I narrowed my gaze, shifting my bag laden pushchair so I could get a view of the magnificent vision that was passing me by. I barely registered that the pushchair’s occupant was not at all happy and was busily screaming the place down.
     All I could behold was she. The way she moved. The shape of her hips as they swung to and fro. The artificial light shone off her perfectly cut hair. The swell of her belly showed itself, porcelain white below her cropped T-shirt. I noticed the small butterfly tattoo just below her navel, how mystic it was. How terribly trendy.
     An iron bar was now living in my trousers.
     She came past me ignoring all the grunts and groans of the other shoppers. Interestingly although some complained quietly about her brazen disregard nobody moved to stop her progress. The men mostly drooled and the woman generally muttered and then went back to discussing that Friday night's meat bingo.
     She approached where I stood her pretty nose in the air, a determined look in her eye. As she passed me she turned and I thought my heart would burst not to mention the monster that was lurking below.
     She regarded me with complete disdain, and looking down at my by now hysterical young daughter said in a clipped accent “can't you get that brat to shut up.”
     She didn't bother to wait for an answer just continued her progress up the line.
     I grinned. I felt the familiar warmth start to burn in my chest.
     We had connected her and me, right there in the supermarket. Funny how life can be isn't it One moment all you can focus on is that night's dinner party and what your wife's boss would like to eat and then suddenly you meet that someone special and your destiny is clear.
     We would be together I knew that then, I don't think I had ever been so sure of something than I was in that moment. We were soul mates.
     She belonged to me.
     I attended my daughter, quietly humming to myself.
     Shopping lists, interesting things don't you think? You look at someone's shopping list and you can almost know what type of personality they are by the products they purchase.
     Take my own for instance. Vegetables, organic of course, Maddie would not tolerate anything else. The best fillet steak for the important meal ahead. I had been detailed to be shopper, chef and no doubt chief washer up at this little shindig. I didn't really mind after all Maddie’s position at the firm was considerable and her salary did provide us with our pleasant home and affluent lifestyle.
      However sometimes in the dead of night I lay awake in our king-size bed listening to my wife's shallow rythymic breathing wondering what colour her face would turn if I leant over and took her slender throat lovingly in my hands. How her blue eyes would bulge as I slowly squeezed the life out of her egotistical gym slim body.
     On these occasions my excitement grew too much and I would quietly slip into our en suite bathroom and silently masturbate. Returning to bed I would gently kiss my wife's forelock only to receive a scowl. Even in sleep Maddie was able to express her utter contempt and revulsion at my very existence.
     Anyhow I digress. Where were we, ah yes shopping lists. Simple things like you could tell whether it was that time of the month for a woman. Not just whether she was experiencing heavy flow or just a steady trickle in the bleed department if you know what I mean? Thick panty liners for the more liberal blood flow, tampons for the dribblers. God I should have been a professor of human behaviour. My lecture on the significance of the shopping list in modern life would have been a sure-fire hit.
     What interests me most about these secret lists is the important documents that people more often than not leave at the bottom of their empty shopping trolleys.
     As I sauntered into the rain filled car park shopping bag hung safely slung over the push chair handles I cast a lazy eye over the most recently parked of the trolleys. I could spy electricity bills; scrap paper all scrawled on in spidery writing.
     No one took any care with things in these modern times, they were always in such a hurry scribbling like badly taught children. My own script was deliberate and elegant rather a good summary of myself. Maddie always said she would rather do things herself than wait to die of old age before I reacted. I would laugh good naturely at this, shaking my head kindly, my guts twisting in a burning heap deep inside.
     How dare the bitch speak to me that way doesn't she realize who I fucking well am!
     I would swallow hard and bring my inner wall down blocking any anger or negative thoughts. After all I did love the darling woman.
     I paused by a trolley sticking out at a peculiar angle betraying the fact that its last driver had dumped it in a hurry. Smiling I reached a long fingered hand towards the printed piece of paper lying forlornly in the depths. I allowed myself a chuckle receiving a perplexed gaze from a geriatric couple shuffling out of the downpour.
     My baby had left me a message, as I just knew she would. Her old bank statement glared up at me, her address shining in the gloom like a flashing neon sign. I carefully placed the paper in my trouser pocket and in my considered way strode back to my car.

     What colour do you dream in?
     Its an odd question I grant you but one worth a moments thought.
     I always dream in black and misty red. My dreams are of a shadow world where silhouettes smoke and unseen woman scream.
     I have a permanent resident in that dark place. I call him phantom boy and he sits black and motionless at the edge of my conscious seemingly watching, judging, but most of all knowing. He terrifies and thrills me. In my fish bowl mind I’d like to rip him to bloody pieces feeling his flesh tear as my needle like nails dig ever deeper searing into his body as if God himself had struck. Yet my full heart feels soul-wrenching love for him I want to reach my arms towards him and gather him in protecting him from the cold and dark of our shared murky land. I could sense great sadness and vulnerability in him but whenever I tried to reach out his empty black gaze stopped me dead.

     What colour do you dream in? I hope its clear crisp whites and blues.
     I dream in a shroud of death.

     I drove around for awhile listening to my Huey Lewis tape. I just love that mid eighties middle of the road soft rock. With its forgettable melodies and mindless lyrics it fills me with sunshine and even though it may have been pouring outside in the cocoon that was my vehicle it was California. I drummed my fingers in time to the beat humming softly along. Safely ensconsed in her car seat Maddie junior happily burbled. She was the image of her dear mother and at eighteen months old she had her mothers unshakable belief that she was always unequivocally right. That's what made me love Maddie so.
     We had met at university, her an out going party student myself a quiet unassuming academic. We complemented each other well and were married soon after we graduated. Beyond that my memory is vague. I did have some sort of employment but of course Maddie had her career to think of and it was only right I give up work to clean house and change nappies.
     Didn't she realize I was a man for God's sake with important man stuff to do. The frigid bitch!
     I drove for some time enjoying the peace, the warmth of the car and the music which had now moved on to REO Speedwagon, my absolute fav.
     Eventually I checked my rear view mirror and saw that the baby was sleeping uttering soft snoring sounds. I smiled. How sweet and how damn convenient. Glancing at the paper in front of me, I quickly took a right and drove sedately to my beloved's arms.
     When I reached the street she resided on the sun burst through the clouds like a beacon of hope. How poetic, how absolutely perfect. As I pulled the car to a quiet stop it seemed that the day could not get much better everything seemed to be preordained, just right.
     I checked Maddie junior for the last time covering her with a blanket. Satisfied she was now deeply into her regular two-hour daytime nap I climbed out of the car.
     I stood stock still in the sunlight studying my surroundings.
     The street itself was typical of student land. Row upon row of slightly looking dilapidated terraced houses that had been bought for one purpose rental. Students that came to our towns university were seldom bright just lucky enough for daddy to be absolutely fuckin' loaded. These dwellings were perfect for the rich kids who wanted to slum it for a couple of years safe in the knowledge that if one needed a new car or an endless supply of booze and drug money then their dear parents would instantly provide.
     I grinned as I loped up the street. The shiny Peugeot 205’s grinned back seeming to realize there was a stranger in there midst. I looked at all the curtains drawn and the careless way that most front doors stood invitingly open. One of the most admirable qualities of the young and rich they tend to think that they're invincible.
     Reaching her gate I knew her door would be welcoming, after all she was expecting me. I felt the electricity from the upper window where I could just make out the latest Cold play record. She was in there panting with anticipation at my arrival, I could feel her all about me and my heart leapt.
     I entered the house.
     Inside it was quiet and musty. The house gave the impression it was sleeping after a heavy nights boozing. I could smell stale cigarette smoke coupled with semen. Underlying I could smell the roses pungent and cherished. Following my nose I padded quietly into the kitchen. Here her presence was tangible she must have been there very recently. I could tell which cupboards she had placed her shopping in. I could almost see her bend down by the fridge smooth buttocks moving fluidly in her tight denims. I opened a draw raised my eyes to the heavens and gave thanks to the Almighty. Christ, I was a lucky guy!
     I moved quickly to the stairs concentration knitting my face together in a mask of determination. Removing my shoes to remain quiet on the almost certainly squeaky floorboards I climbed towards my very own Rapunzal. Reaching her door I leant my sweaty brow to its surface. Closing my eyes I sniffed breathing her in. I listened to the melancholy music drifting like smoke through the crack in her door could hear her pure slightly out tune voice singing along in the intense way that most eighteen year old students do when they are going through their “dark” periods. I could see her life in that moment. Crouching sweaty and hard in the dim hallway I was granted a type of second sight. Here she was a little girl, frilly dresses and curls, huge house, toys aplenty but no one to share it with. Many times she cried herself to sleep crushed by her parents total indifference towards her. As woman hood beckoned she tried to gain their attention. Booze, drugs and sex took hold of her and by fourteen she could not remember how many greasy dicks shed had inside her. Not looking for approval or even disapproval she was just looking to get noticed. Just a nod or a comment so shed know that her parents were aware that she even existed. But none came so she turned to study and a way out of the misery that was her house. Shed ended up at university unable to relate, alienated by her peers and lonely, a home from home you could say.
     As I crept into her light airy room my heart broke a tiny bit for her. She like all of us desperately wanted a little recognition from those dearest to us.
      I could relate to that.
     Entering my dazzling grin dropped for a moment as my gaze told me that she was not amongst the new age posters and the potted plants. Then I saw the door opposite and heard the seductive hiss of the shower. An ensuite student room. Things were certainly different from my day.
     I padded silently across the room carefully removing my clothes. Once disrobed I folded my garments and placed them neatly on the bed, giving it a jolly pat. Taking a final look around I gently eased the door open.
     It was time to get wet and wild.
     In bed our lovemaking was at times frantic and at others slow and tender. Her stare was fixed and slightly off putting and the ugly slash across her throat sometimes put me off my stroke. She had been surprised and I would say excited to see me in the shower and use of the kitchen knife had been nescessary. A bit messy for a time but, hey, after all we were exchanging bodily fluids.
     When we had finished fucking she was strangely quiet and I was more than a bit disappointed. Our connection had only been about lust never about love and now an embarrassed atmosphere swirled around us.
     I wanted to run back to my wife, back to my life and put the sordid little episode behind me. I explained this as I dressed taking her silence as mutual understanding.
     As I stood at the door to leave I glanced back to say something complimentary, something polite. She stared glassy eyed slumped forward. Dark bite marks adorned her nipples and her lips seemed to glisten with blood.
     I sighed and walked quickly away. She looked like a piece of rotten meat and I wanted to be as far away from her as possible.
     On the drive home baby Maddie woke up in a much more positive frame of mind. Journeys Troubled Child came on the tape and I sang at the top of my voice all the way.

     What colour do you dream in?
     I dream in black and blood red. Last night my phantom boy visited again. Except he wasn't just an observer more like a guide really. He put his smoky hand in mine and led me to the edge of a river of fire. I could feel the heat so intense it singed my eyebrows.
     Once there he settled down on a black rock and smiled a nothing smile. He then produced a box dark and solid. Grinning again he opened his eyes. A light so blue and cold shone out of him that I crouched towards the river preferring the burning than his terrible gaze. Then he opened the box.
     Out flew millions upon millions of delicate, yellow butterflies. I stood mouth agape as they fluttered towards me tiny wings batting against the wind. Before I knew it they were on me. In me and around me. Tickling my eye socks, entering my ear canal. I opened my mouth to scream and they were down in my throat choking me.
     I woke gagging, sweat pouring.
     The smell of roses rotting and dead surrounded me.
     I screamed into the night.

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