|I Am Gone
THE ACCIDENT WAS a fortnight ago and I havent
been able to leave her side since. Apart from some new dirty plates on the carpet, Sue
hasnt moved anything. The flats exactly as it was when I left that morning.
Perhaps by keeping things the way they were she can pretend nothings happened.
Shes seen nobody since the funeral and is still acting almost as if shes only
just found out. There is solace in her grief though.
Any time in the past Ive seen her upset like
this I just couldnt handle it. Id get so wound up Id have to lock myself
in the spare room till she calmed down. Over the past two weeks though Ive studied
every tear, relishing them almost. If she doesnt cry for a while I start to worry
shes getting over it. Before, her hysterics would have driven me out the door; now,
I thrive on them. They justify me being here. They are all that justifies me being here.
Each night I sit on the end of Sues bed and
watch her sleep. I can recall everything we ever did together, every taste, smell, touch,
stroke, argument, cuddle with total clarity. Just by bringing an incident to mind I can
happily replay it in Sensurround as she sleeps.
When shes awake its even better. All the
crappy TV programmes she either wouldnt let me watch or slagged so much I went off
them, she now views religiously - Home and Away, Blind Date, This Morning. If truth
be told though, she still doesnt actually watch them. They are just on at high
volume while she gawps at the walls, or sobs over photos and letters whilst devouring
packet after packet of Hobnobs.
For the first few days the phone didnt stop
ringing. I had to watch her sitting, dumbstruck, listening to all these people whod
been avoiding us for years pretending they were sorry. Even that bastard Grant had the
nerve to phone. Sue and I first met just after he dumped her. It was easier to make her
see the light when hed already switched it off. It was during his last call that she
pulled the phone out the wall, much to my delight. She only plugged it back in last night.
Im lying on the bed watching a chink of
sunlight through the curtain snowtip the dark mountain of her face. The slow crescendo of
the bus engines outside heralds the morning rush hour but the room retains its silence.
Im back to the day I put the note in Sues drawer at college. When she went out
shopping and didnt come back to the halls of residence till nine that night. Then
she came to my room and started giving me all that just-want-you-as-a-friend,
dont-talk-about-it-itmakes-me-uncomfortable rubbish. Her hair was pulled up in a
band and she had on her Aran cardigan and Cockburn Street Market hippy skirt. There was
that strong smell of Shalimar that seemed to pervade everywhere she went. For an hour I
let her try and talk her way out of my life, then I just started necking her. She loved
it, just like Id told her she would.
Im getting to the best bit of this glorious
thought when the bloody phone starts ringing. Its only 8.45 so it must be her
mother. Nobody else would be selfish enough to phone at this ridiculous hour. I watch
Sues face come to life as she fumbles about in confusion then lunges blindly through
to the living room. Five sharp yess, each about a minute apart, then a clutter of
OKs, two numbers (ten and thirty), and a couple of whining rights and I sense that we are
going to see her mother this morning.
Sue rather thoughtfully switches on the TV before
skulking off to the bathroom. I decide Ill just watch a bit of Chain
Letters till she switches on the taps then Ill go and watch her wash. The taps
arent switched on though. Instead I hear several thunderous farts followed by such a
seeming volume of skitters I fear shell need a plumber. This comes as a bit of a
shock as Ive only heard her pass wind once before when she was choked with the flu
and bending over for a hanky. That was little more than a sigh in comparison. We never
fell into that letting-it-all-out-shows-youre-comfortable-together lark that so many
of our friends got into just prior to their sex lives breaking down irretrievably. The
toilet was a place we both went to spray air freshener.
My illusion of her remains unshattered. When she
emerges from the toilet, still unwashed, not giving a fuck because of me, I forget about
it. If only I could speak to her. Its stupid but Kilroys on the other side and
its annoying not being able to watch it. Its lack of control over stupid
little things like this that are irritating, like they were the most important things
about being alive.
As I sit on the bunker watching her make a cup of tea
I notice a photo of us on the fridge. The one outside the hostel in Amsterdam with the guy
that wore the nappy with the teddy-bear and dummy. Where did she dig that up? We went
there for a week about three years ago but had to come back after two days because we were
so paranoid. Im so touched shes put the photo there though, it sort of makes
me realise she really did love me.
As she finishes her tea and starts climbing into her
trainers I begin worrying about seeing her mother. Mrs Todd never acknowledged we were a
couple. She was forever trying to fix Sue up with one man or another in front of me. She
probably hoped Id just disappear. Theres no way out of it now though. If I
dont go wherever Sue goes thatll be it, thats the deal. Its
probably some kind of test to discover just how inseparable we really are. A morning with
her mother will certainly be that.
As Sue opens the door to the flat, the neighbour is
loitering with intent outside as if shes maybe been waiting there several days.
I was awfie vexed to hear about your friend,
Thanks Mrs Anderson, mumbles Sue, trying to squeeze past her.
Old hypocrite. It was she who informed the whole
stair we were a couple. Not that I minded anybody knowing but she must have been listening
to us through the wall. Theres no other way she could have known. Its not as
if we walked about in combat gear and when we had sex it was always embarrassingly quiet.
She must have been earwigging twenty-four hours a day.
The old vulture blocks the way, wanting some further
scraps of information to regale the rest of the neighbours with; an exclusive of some
It said in the paper she didnt suffer.
That must be a comfort to you.
Sue is still trying to escape, flustered by her
sudden false concern.
Is that what you want to hear? That
doesnt comfort me in the slightest, you know?
As the neighbours jaw drops, Sue pushes past
and makes her getaway. Im so pleased with her. As I follow, I punch the old
cow in the tit but sadly she doesnt notice.
We walk down through the Links. Being invisible is
cool as I could walk about with my finger up my nose and a splayed beaver and nobody would
notice. Ive never felt so safe. My only concern is that we get separated somehow
because I know if I lose her thatll be it. Since theres only people walking
dogs and a few students cagily sunbathing around a joint this doesnt seem likely.
Im slightly annoyed that I cant go into our favourite baker and buy a box of
gorgeous french pastries - but annoyed in a Prozacked, what-the-fuck sort of way.
Sue stops to look in the bakers window. Is she
thinking the same thing? For her too itll be silly wee things like this that are
hardest to take. Her skin looks jaundiced through lack of daylight. I notice a hint of
crows feet cracking beside her eyes, which Im sure she didnt have
before. They make her look even better.
As we walk down past the Methodist shop I get this
strange feeling that Im being watched. I begin checking the faces of the people
around us and I realise that every now and again Im getting a little knowing smile.
Some of these people are like me, I sense, but seem to manage holding conversations with
their mortal companions, people I thought were just talking to themselves before. We pass
about six of them on this one stretch of pavement. How can they communicate? Will I be
able to eventually? Just as we cross the road next to Woolworths, Sue suddenly turns and
looks right through me.
What? she says cautiously, then
immediately looks embarrassed and carries on across the road at speed. I run, shouting
after her, but either she cant hear me any more or didnt really hear me in the
Surely Ill be able to talk to her soon though,
that has to be why Im lingering like this. She has to know theres more to
dying than a banquet for the maggots. I have to tell her Im waiting, not to worry.
I feel an overwhelming rush of pity for Sue and take
her hand. It lies limp in my grasp but I keep holding on to it as we turn into her
mothers street. Mrs Todd is so off with me at the best of times Im worried
what she might say about me now Im out the picture. Surely out of respect, at least
till they get the headstone up, she wont be too unpleasant:
When she opens the door Im taken aback. She
looks , even more haggard than Sue. Though smartly dressed and clean-looking as usual, her
face has a now-familiar magnolia pallor and the undercarriages of her eyes have darkened
with worry. The two women embrace tightly for what seems like ages. It looks completely
natural but I know it is a first time for them both. Sue was forever complaining about it.
That Mrs Todd should finally choose to do it now, about me, in public, shocks me to such
an extent that Im soon in tears myself. Stepping towards the huddle I extend an arm
towards each of them but they disperse instantaneously and hurry into the house. I only
just make it into the hall before the front door is closed. God, that was close. Another
second and Id have lost her.
Sue follows her mother into the kitchen. Theyre
both in tears but struggling to go through the usual motions. Sue is offered and declines
tea, coffee, a wee cup of cocoa, a nice biscuit, a little sandwich, a super Lean Cuisine,
a bit of last nights stew microwaved, a look at her sisters wedding video, a
candlewick for the bed (could this be a final acceptance that we slept together?), a wee
drinkie and her old room back before her mother finally starts to wind down. On the way
through to the living room Mrs Todd suddenly goes completely gaga, wailing in a really
bizarre, uninhibited way, rocking on the spot like Arthur Fowler when he stole the Xmas
Club money. Could this possibly be about me? Did this woman actually like me despite
Sue holds her and slowly calms her down. They stand
gently exchanging the role of comforter until they have pulled each other together
sufficiently to make it through to the settee. I watch them watching each other, not
speaking but saying lots. The closer I look the more similar they seem to be, like mirror
The last weeks been like a really long,
horrible day. Sorry Ive not phoned. Its not even hit me yet, properly, you
know. I know its not. I just feel so angry.
Mrs Todd kisses her daughters fingers.
Shes honestly not usually like this, she never has been.
Shell be watching over you somewhere,
dear. I think your dad watches over me. Just light a little candle in your heart for her
and keep it burning. She wont go away if you want her there.
Why was she never like this before? What an absolute
dear. I feel like Jimmy Stewart in Its a Wonderful Life. It goes on like this
for about an hour as I listen on absolutely gobsmacked. She has me in tears about a dozen
times with all these brilliant wee anecdotes about things shed remembered and I
By the time we leave, Sue and Mrs Todd are both
glowing slightly having seemed to resolve a lifetime of petty squabbles and loose ends.
Its sad it takes something so extreme for people to sort things out. When we get to
the front door Mrs Todd produces a candlewick bursting out of a Sainsburys bag.
Youll need a wee extra something to keep
you warm at night now.
Sue chews at her bottom lip to stop it trembling as
she kisses her mum goodbye.
If you see wee Shona tell her she can come back
now. I sent her out to play so we could have a wee while alone together. Im looking
after her for Alison.
I will, mum. Look, thanks. Youve been
Tears drip off Sues chin as we walk down the
street, leaving her mother standing on the path, huddled alone, looking small and
Its almost unbearable not being able to discuss
how incredibly nice her mothers being about us, finally. And when they cuddled it
looked so strange but so normal at the same time. Who can Sue tell about it though?
Whod really understand what a big deal it was except me? Fuck.
We give Mrs Todds scarecrow silhouette a final
wave as we turn into Grove Street. Sues sisters wee girl is sitting on the
pavement, scraping cartoon faces onto the slabs with a stone. Shes so in her own
little world she doesnt realise theres anyone there.
Hiya Shona, whatre you drawing, you wee
As the child looks at Sue, then me, her face takes on
an exaggerated expression of fear and confusion. A terrified scream fills the street.
Sues down on her haunches, trying to calm her down.
Whats the matter, Shona? What is it, pal?
Has someone hurt you?
The wee girl wrenches herself away, petrified, and
runs round the corner screaming at the top of her lungs, Scary man. Scary man.
Sues off after the frightened little thing with
me in tow. When Shona realises were behind her it makes her worse. What the fuck am
I going to do? I know she can see me. Shes never believed I was female. Maybe Sue
and me being a couple confused her. My short hair and flat-as-a-pancake chest probably
didnt help either. I remember going on a downer when she said to me, the first time
we met, lknow you ie a man. I can see through your wee mask. She was only about
four at the time but no amount of coaxing has ever managed to convince her otherwise.
Why cant we just go back to the flat? Shona
mustnt see me again. Shes already probably scarred for life. Sue is right
behind as we reach the gate. Shona kicks and bangs at her grannys door, shrieking,
trembling, absolutely crapping herself.
Squeezing past a baffled-looking Mrs Todd she escapes
up the hall, still screaming about the bad man. Sneaking in behind them I slip behind the
curtain in the living room. Eventually mother and daughter manage to coax the child
through to find out what the hell is wrong with her.
Someone must have had a go at her. I turned the
corner and she was just sitting there, hysterical, going on about a scary man. It must
have just happened.
The phone is pinged and dialled as Mrs Todd takes
control of the situation.
Billy, its mum. Get round here as quick
as you can. Someones just tried to snatch Shona. He must still be nearby.
Sues brother Billy lives just round in Morrison
Street. We used to buy our blow off him and hes as rough as the dogs bollocks.
Can this really be happening? I cant even explain, I just have to stand and watch.
They sit Shona down on the settee, facing the chink
in the curtain Im staring through. Mrs Todd tries first.
Where was the scary man, Shona? You can tell
granny. What did he try to do to you?
Nodding her head wildly she keeps on crying, eyeing
Sue with utmost suspicion.
Aye cmon, Shona, itll be OK. Just
tell us who it was. Was it someone you know?
The child cant seem to decide whether to trust
Sue or not.
The scary man was there. He was coming to take
me away. Dinnae let him get me, granny, please. Dinnae let him get me.
The doorbell goes and Mrs Todd lets Billy in. His
eyes are wild and watery and he looks ready to kill or maim. Whats going on?
Who was it? Ill kill the bastard. Whats he done to her, eh, whats he
fucking done to her?
Sue shrugs at him as he collapses on the floor in
front of his beloved niece.
Cmon, pal. Uncle Billyll get him
for you, dinnae you worry, darling. Just tell me who it was. Was it that dirty old bastard
that looks like the Dunblane man at number thirty-three?
Shona doesnt know what to say.
You wont get into trouble. Youve
got to tell us though, we cant let him get you. Did he try and touch you? Did he try
and do something dirty to you? The baldy man with the glasses?
Sue gasps and her eyes bulge slightly.
Oh God, Billy, I think youre right. She
was just outside his door when I found her. Hed probably just let her go.
Was it? Was it the bad man?
Yes, the bad man, the bad man. Dinnae let him
get me, she keeps repeating.
Fucking right! roars Billy and barges out
the house. Poor Mrs Todd is hyperventilating into a cupped hand. Her skin is now the
colour of concrete and she keeps muttering to herself, Its all my fault. Why
did I make her go out?
What was I thinking? What have I done, Susan? What have I done?
Sue tries to phone her sister at work. They seem to
shunt her about for ages before she finally gets through.
Alison, thank God. You have to come to
mums, theres been a bit of trouble ... no, no, its all right now ...
yes, shes fine ... yes ... really ... here . . . and she beckons to Shona
. . . its mummy. Come and speak to mummy.
The child edges over reluctantly and takes the large
receiver in her tiny hand.
Mummy, mummy, the scary man was there.
Hed come back to get me.
Sue quickly retrieves the phone and relays the
incident in slightly less alarmist tones before her sister has a nervous breakdown.
Clicking the phone back down she looks at her mother
who is still mumbling away to herself with her head in her hands, Why did I let her
outside? He could have killed her.
Sue gives her a squeeze. Dont worry, mum.
The main thing is shes safe now. Alisonll be about an hour. Ill wait
till Billy gets back then Ill have to go. Im not up to a big family crisis at
They have another cuddle then Mrs Todd trembles off
to make a cup of tea. When she returns the atmosphere of anticipation is so strong that
neither of them seem able to even speak. How can this be happening? Shona sits watching Scooby
Doo, stroking the dachshund draught-excluders ears. Fifteen minutes pass in this
suspended animation till the front door goes and all three seem to levitate off their
seats. Billy comes tanking into the room, breathing heavily with a small gash in his
cheek, gleaming with sweat.
Mrs Todd notices the blood and starts fussing.
What happened? Did he attack you as well? Whats he done to your face?
Billy puts his fingers to the wound then checks the
blood on his hand.
The bastard came at me with a pen. Fucking
He isnt exactly haemorrhaging but he certainly
acts like he is. My God, hes attacked some poor unsuspecting wee man who just twenty
minutes ago was probably feeding his budgie and looking forward to the midweek lottery
Mrs Todds whole body is trembling as she hovers
hopelessly beside her son.
What happened? Did you hit him? Have you hurt
him? Billy grins proudly down at his freshly grazed knuckles. What did he say?
Did he admit it? Maybe we should get the police, suggests Sue, a little timeously.
Billys eyes widen in disbelief.
Not now, you cannae. Ive sorted the
bastard. Its the only way, mum. Emergency justice its called, there was a
thing about it on a programme about Muslims the other night.
Mrs Todd sits down again, trying to take it all in.
What did he say? Did he tell you what happened?
Of course not. He denied it. Whos going
to admit to something like that? I had to start hitting him to stop his lies. My
God, hes almost foaming at the mouth. I want to run round to number thirty-three and
check the poor wee mans all right but I cant leave Sue. How can I cause so
much trouble when Im not even here?
Billy is spitting his words out, savouring this
moment of glory. What must the poor man have thought? What if hes seriously injured
him? What if hes killed the poor bugger? What if I get lumbered with his eternal
spirit for being the cause of it all? Shona stares up at her uncle with a look of utter
infatuation on her face. Can she even remember what all this is about? Billy gets down on
one knee in front of her like Superman before he fell off the horse. Youre
going to be fine now sweetheart. Uncle Billys scared away the scary man. If he ever
even looks at you again tell one of us right away, OK, its important.
Shona strokes his scarred cheek. Sue and her mother
sit in stunned silence as if its just starting to sink in. The phone starts ringing
and this time all four of them jump.
Mrs Todd answers it with the back of her hand
melodramatically brushing her forehead. Listening with a look of dread, she quickly gives
a little smile of relief.
Oh Grant, thank God its only you. .
Grant! Sue looks momentarily startled when she hears
. . . no, were just having a bit of a
crisis here at the moment ... no, shes all right. Shes here just now ... yes
... yes ... sorry, I forgot to tell her ... here, Ill let you speak to her . .
Sue waves her hands about in front of her, not
wanting the phone. Mrs Todd tells her not to be silly and makes her take it. What does
that bastard want? Whats he phoning her mother for, its been three years.
Sue reluctantly takes the phone and says his name,
then theres a long silence as she listens to him ramble on. What the hell is he
saying to her? Hoi, she smiled there, whats she playing at? Come on, here. Pull
yourself together, woman.
Maybe another time Grant. Were really in
the middle of something at the moment. Give me a quick tinkle at the flat tonight ... yes,
its plugged in again, and theres another little giggle as she puts down
Give me a quick tinkle? How can she even speak to the
guy after the way hes treated her? How can she be so friendly towards him? And when
did he get all pally with her mother? She better not see him, she better not fucking see
Billys gone through to the kitchen to clean his
wound with Shona still following him like a limpet. Sues getting her things
together, plumping up the carrier bag which is overstuffed with the candlewick. Mrs Todd
is looking a semitone calmer following the distraction of the phone call.
Hes nice, that Grant, she smiles at
Sue with a hopeful look on her face I well remember. What a traitor! What happened to all
the candles-in-the-heart stuff?
You just dont know him well enough,
I forgot to tell you hed been trying to get in touch. He was really worried.
He phoned here several times. Seems quite keen?
Mum! Not now, please, and she gets up and
puts her coat on. I really want to get back. Phone me as soon as you hear
anything, then she points through to the kitchen and whispers, Hes going
to be in the jail the morrow.
Mrs Todd looks convinced, but tries to be positive
Not at all, dear. The man cant go to the
police after what hes done. Ive read what they do to people like him in
Sue looks impatient.
If he did do anything, mum. What if it was someone else?
This is obviously the first time Mrs Todd has
contemplated this and she bites at her thumb instensely. Sue squeezes her shoulder.
Ocht, it probably was, she was right outside
his door. We can only wait and see. I hate leaving you but Im really not up to this,
mum. It was only two weeks ago. Mrs Todd scrunches up her chin in solidarity then
shouts to Billy and his number one fan thát Sues leaving.
Running outside I hide behind a car. Im
terrified the wee girl will see me and start up again. Theyre only about ten feet
away at the end of the path. Sue is clutching Shonas hand. As she bends down to give
her a kiss, the child grips on to her lapels.
Auntie Sue. Is Karen really gone now? Sue
forces a thin-lipped smile.
Im afraid so. Shes died and she
wont be coming back again.
The wee girl looks aghast. What, did Billy kill
All three of them have a little laugh. No,
silly, her car was in an accident with a big lorry. Shes in heaven now though, you
dont need to get upset.
In some cryptic way this seems to satisfy Shona so
they say their goodbyes and we leave. Waiting, crouched behind the car until they all go
back in the house, I bolt after Sue the instant the door shuts. She seems a little less
defeated now, not quite as wounded-looking as she did. The idea that the last hours
excitement has managed to take her mind off me a bit makes me gladsad. She hesitates for a
second as we pass number thirty-three, then scurries off towards Tollcross.
My desire to communicate with her is more intense
than ever. If Shona could see me so clearly why cant anybody else? Will it be the
same with other children? I cant believe I was mistaken for a bloke, even after
death. It has seriously dunted that feeling of well-being I was hoping would be eternal.
Watching Sue walk up the street, I feel incredibly
protective towards her. No matter how difficult it gets, I have to stay with her, look
after her. I have to stifle the creeping resentment Im beginning to feel about her
having a whole separate life without me.
Damn it. Shes cutting up Grove Street which
means we wont pass that section of pavement again. Running ahead I gesture
pointlessly, try to bar her way, make her turn around. She blusters onwards in ignorance,
snorting loudly in the empty street. Then theres a loud gargle at the back of her
throat. Casting a wary eye around her she lobs phlegm into the gutter and continues with a
demure Sunday school smile. Im still too busy trying to entice her round to the
Twilight Zone to try and speak to her to worry about how gross this is. Oh come on,
Sue, I cant go there without you, I scream at her but she cuts behind the
Cameo and I just have to follow her, shaking with frustration.
As she dawdles across Home Street in a dream, a van
swerves to avoid her. The driver glowers through the window, beeping so excessively that
Sue gets a terrible fright and almost stumbles in front of a bus. I feel guiltily
disappointed when she eventually makes it safely to the other side.
She buys two bottles of Chardonnay and sixty Silk Cut
in the off licence, which pleases me. Sue stopped smoking six months ago so it suggests
shes cracking under the strain. It sounds selfish but how else do I know she really
wants me here?
As we cut up Melville Drive I hear childrens
voices. A man is pushing two young girls on the swings, they are screaming to go higher.
Instinctively I worry about them seeing me, then I start to think it would probably be
better if they did. Give Sue some sense that I might be here. Surely that would be better
than having another helpless pensioner battered senseless. As we approach them I wave my
arms, jumping up and down,
Hello, hello, over there . .. The two wee
girls are too engrossed in their quests to go higher to notice. Just as we pass though,
one of them glances at me briefly but seems decidedly uninterested and is soon
concentrating on the swing again. Maybe I just look perfectly normal to them, because they
dont know me. I give up.
When we get home it feels so safe. Sue leans back on
the door to close it and gazes along the hall into the living room. She looks almost
apprehensive to go in, like shed forgotten until now. How can I let her know
Im here, not to give up? Eventually she grudgingly throws her jacket on the hall
carpet and goes through to the kitchen to open the wine. Drinking alone was never her
forte, it makes her maudlin. Maybe shes planning on getting deliberately lachrymose
to punish herself for not thinking about me for a while. Cant it just be natural?
Going through to the living room with the bottle, she puts our Suzanne Vega tape on. Oh
God, shes really having to force it, I know she is. A few gulps of wine and a puff
of Silk Cut is all it takes to get her howling again. Her sorrow is so obviously genuine I
feel rotten for thinking she had to bring it on manually. Its such a painful,
heartbreaking noise shes making. If only there was some way I could let her know I
was with her. Push a penny up a door or something. Isnt that what they do? Kneeling
at her feet I put my head on her lap and tell her I love her over and over again. She
forces back the wine, lighting up cigarettes, taking a few puffs then stubbing them out.
She still does that. It used to drive me mad.
As I sit there, singing along to the tape I gradually
feel the alcohol starting to relax her tensed up little body. This is nice. This I can
handle. If she could just stay in for the rest of her life things would be fine. But the
phone rings and Sues face takes on that other-worldly look again. I know immediately
its Mrs Todd as the word police is included in Sues opening sentence. It
doesnt sound like Billys been locked up yet but most of her side of the
conversation is limited to uh huhs and well-keep-me-posteds. Surely theyll lock him
up over this one. We all know hes going to end up there eventually. Its just a
matter of when. I ask you, beating the crap out a helpless old man, what a macho arsehole!
Sue is still trying to wind down the conversation
with her mother when the doorbell goes. Who the hell is this now? Surely not Alison and
the wee girl, God no. Maybe shes come round to pay her last respects and get the
truth out of Sue about this scary man. I dive through to the bedroom and hide under the
bed as Sue says her goodbyes to her mother. Ill be safe here till I decide how to
play this. Then I hear the door open and a male voice, not Billy though.
Grant! Sue exclaims. As do I. What the fuck is he doing here?
Whats going on, Sue? Ive been up to
ninety since I spoke to you, whats happened?
Im up from under the bed and in the hall beside
them to see what sort of a fight she puts up to keep him out. By the time I get there
hes already barged in and walking towards the living room. Sue follows him
helplessly, gesturing towards the door, in other words she puts up no real fight
This is the first time Ive ever seen the
bastard in the flesh. It strikes me how unnattractive he is. After all the shit Sue put up
with I thought he might at least be reasonably dishy but hes gruesome, like Lyle
Lovett only uglier. He pushes his way into the living room and throws himself down on the
couch like theyve been married for years.
Grant, please. I dont want to see you. I
would have answered the phone if Id wanted to. Please go.
Plug doesnt listen to a word.
Look, tell me whats going on. Ive
just been round to your mums and she wouldnt tell me. I thought youd
tried to top yourself.
Naw, you know what I mean. With the Karen thing
and that. I know how much you loved her.
Oh no, not him now.
I thought you didnt believe it. I thought
you thought I just did it to try and turn you on.
Dinnae. I understand, I know you think I
dont but I do. Whats happened though, tell me, Sue. Your old dears in a
Sues still standing in front of him gesturing
towards the door.
Please, Grant, honestly. Ive had enough
today. I cant handle being with you, I dont want to have to handle it.
Grant fumbles inside his jacket and proffers a half bottle of Grouse, trying to look
boyish and failing by about forty years.
Lets just have a little drink. I just
want to know youre all right, Ive been worried about you. I have, and he
pauses to ponder what a wonderfully sensitive guy he is. I stare intently at the glass
ashtray, willing it to jump off the table and bang him in the mouth. Get rid of him, Sue,
get rid of the bastard!
I cant, Grant. I just cant,
she says flatly, already exhausted by her own protests.
Just one tiny drink. Just to put my mind at
rest, please, for me. I wont molest you, honest.
Sue stomps over to the unit, yanks it open and pulls
out two glasses.
There! she snaps, slamming them down on
the coffee table in front of him.
He pats the cushion on the settee beside him.
Come and sit here. Dont be silly,
My heart is going 190 to the dozen. How could she?
How could she let this happen? Hell think hes on a promise now, dirty fucking
Sue edges into the far corner of the settee, legs
clenched with hands squeezed tightly between them, as far from him . as possible. I sit
down on the floor on the other side of the coffee table. What can I do? Even if he grabs
her I wont be able to do anything. Grant hands her a huge measure and they clink
glasses. He stares into her eyes, bottom lip out, slimy as fuck.
Are you still my pal? Eh? You dinnae hate me,
do you? Sue tries to avoid his helpless puppy look and stares into her drink.
Are you? Are you still my pal? and he
touches the side of her chin, trying to get her to look at him, so he can try and
hypnotise her with his smarm. I bang his glass but it doesnt budge. I punch the
bastard in the face but he just continues looming towards her.
You know I am, Grant. I just cant see you
any more. Its nothing to do with Karen, its me. Im just not strong
God, Sue, nobodys expecting you to be
strong at the moment. Itll take time.
Not that kind of strong. You dont
understand, and she - puts the glass down. Really, Grant. You should go before
its too late.
What? Are you going to axe me? What do you
mean, before its too late? Before you give in to me, is that what you mean?
Crawling under the table, I try to knock it over on
Then I just go on a spree, sweeping my arm along the
cluttered fireplace, kicking things, but especially kicking that bastard. I
dont know. I dont know what I mean. A fortnight ago I was sitting here with
Karen, you know. Now shes gone and Im sitting here with you. Shell be
turning in her grave, she hated you.
I never even met the woman.
She knew what you were like. She was the only
person I told.
What I was like, what I was like! Ive
changed, I told you.
Dont, Grant. Karen was so pleased. She
really thought shed made me see the light. Now look at us. Shed be
He still hasnt budged but at least shes
standing up to him. Just get him out now, tell the bastard youll call the police if
he wont go. What if I have a breakdown with all this? Do they have lithium on this
Were not doing anything wrong. You
shouldnt feel guilty about it.
But I cant help it.
If she really loved you she wouldnt want
you to feel unhappy like this, dont you think?
Shed want me to grieve for her though,
not just splash some water on my face and forget it ever happened.
Im not going to tell you what to think,
Sue. You have to deal with it your own way, Im not going to lecture you. If you want
to talk to me then you can, if you dont then you know Im here if you change
your mind. Im not going to force anything. If you just want me as a friend,
thats OK. I missed you, thats all. Im worried about you. Im really
really sorry about Karen and everything, I know the pair of you had something. . .
He looks relieved his crawling has been curtailed as
his vocabulary of concern was no doubt almost depleted. When their eyes meet she looks
down, ashamed, at her lap.
What, what is it?
Will you hold me?
My only solace is in the stiff, awkwardness of their
initial embrace but then it just seems to go on and on and shes rubbing her arms up
and down his back and his foul face is polluting her hair and whispering sweet somethings
in her ear. OK, Sue, enoughs enough. Youve had plenty cuddles for one day.
Stop it, just stop it. Shes letting out this low, moaning sound but I dont see
any tears. Then suddenly theyre fucking kissing. Did she kiss him first? Im
sure she did. She did.
Jackets and blouses are sweeping onto the floor. Belt
buckles are rattling. Its happening about four feet away from me but Im not
really taking it in. This is just not happening. His arse is bared now, right in front of
me, four feet away, so close I can almost smell it, but I cant, I cant really.
This is not happening. Hes trying to get it into her, muttering obscenities in a
horrible growly gremlin-type voice. Sues grabbing at him like she cant wait,
panting out his name like something out of one of the porn films he probably watches. Sue
is grunting her head off as Grants buttocks jab between her thighs. Cunt,
cunt, right up your fucking cunt, aw baby, aw baby, fucking baby. The most hellish
sounds imaginable and so loud, so fucking loud.