Rain fell seldom here, once in a blue moon. When it did rain, the skies opened and the waters fell in sheets. Gutters filled and down pipes cascaded in a waterfall of sodden debris; a miasma of dirt washed clean in moments; most of the time the sun hovered imperial and omnipresent like Zeus guiding the hand of Odysseus. Time ran at a different speed here where the rules of the clock were bent into a surreal fabric that defied the passing hours, holding them back with harness and reins; stallions whose necks pulsed with throbbing veins, eyes bulging with effort as the fists of Apollo held them fast. It was as if some mighty powers were playing chess but without the use of the regulatory timepiece while the contestants mulled over their next move: a slow process of thought and imagination.
A sly dust flew with powdered wings, coating the streets, tables, chairs, plants, window sills and ceramics with a fine film. The dust was practically invisible knowing if it were seen that some widow would wipe it away with a flick of a cloth. The dying breath of the ancients closed the day while the warm wind wafted fresh with bright light each morning. It was a different world here, an old, forgotten world of grapes and dates, sullen days filled with hospitable heat, a Mediterranean solstice.
She recalled the last time it had rained; it had been three weeks ago, a sudden downpour late at night. She had been watching a lizard, a small luminescent green thing as it clung to her wall quivering like a spent arrow when suddenly the rain had fallen on her roof, a rattle of violent drops as they flung themselves against the corrugated roof; the sound of gravel thrown against a steel drum.
She had lain in her bed, drowsy with sleep but shocked awake by the electric sound of the storm. Still drowsy but aroused by the sounds of rain, by the threat of the storm but cocooned by the warmth of the night. She could hear the rain fall in thick drops outside on the patio, a comforting sound that was both melancholic and erotic; raindrops crushing the dust, ruining the dry day’s collective process.
Tiny pinpricks on slate grey concrete.
Leopard skin spots that fall soft and dark onto pale grey slabs.
That cover the pavement like desire, like shadow.
That flicker and fade and lick the walls with tongues of shade that dance like shifting veils.
Above her the ceiling fan rotates a lofty breeze that drifts down humble and soft and kisses her skin with a promise of chill air.
That rise and fall, rise and fall like the claws of ancient gods or the boughs of banished trees or the fingers of spectral lovers.
That haunt her mind in vague whispers.
The sultry heat confines her movements to languid stretches and holds her lust in supine relief.
Naked and salacious she curls her lightly sweat covered frame around her hand and squeezes it between her amorous thighs like a victim of a constrictor. The fan throbs a tuneless rhythm, a pulsing ache that beats a singular motif of nebbish tepidity.
It calls to her.
In sounds of smoky saxophone blues.
It calls to her.
And with thighs spreading like lotus blossom she receives the thief of her fingers that steal in snake-like stages down her belly and through the grove of her lurid growth.
And over the mound of her pensive vulva that tingles with urgent expectancy her hand slides into dark contours and her thumb trails a pink fold.
As she peels the fruit of herself with a delicate, deft touch and with urgent probes releases the winged demons to burn her with carnal avidity that ravish her being.
The blade throbs. The raindrops fall.
A sweet scent of orchids from bruised lips floods the room
She sleeps then as the rain falls, despite its constant thrumming, with its solemn tattoo that gives the night a new sonic, a low murmur of wind-washed colours set to dream tones. Her sleep takes her down avenues of wonder where she chases a child across an empty field into a street filled with cattle that low a coarse vocal. A man guides the cattle; he wields a large stick that he switches in the air for encouragement. He smiles at her, a toothless, lopsided grin that gives no encouragement, no sign of recognition just an empty gesture from a vague man. The cattle herd together in a tight group and no matter how she tries to to get beyond them she is thwarted at every attempt.
She sleeps through the storm only waking when the rain stops with a finality that acts like an alarm. The quiet after the downpour is like an epiphany of silvered silence, a silence so absolute that it breaks into dream startling her awake. Sliding from the bed she walks gingerly to the toilet where she hunkers down to urinate then, having completed her ablutions, returns to bed and falls into an instant, dreamless sleep.
There is no rain now, just sunshine and heat with a division of light that moves stealthily along her walls and floor until it touches her pillow casting her face in a halo of fragile light. Her eyes flicker then blink as daylight invades her vision; she throws a protective arm across her face, yawns, stretches then clambers from the bed where she picks up a cotton robe that she puts on, tying it around her waist.
Outside, a lone dog barks, a sound of warning and of fear. The bark reverberates around the village and is met with a bell ringing a gentle, single toll. This in turn finds a response as a rooster crows a greeting to the dawn, even though dawn broke hours ago. It is warm here now, a steadily increasing heat that will climax at around two. The sun is warming the hills and the island lies basking in its rising glory. The blue of the ocean steals its colour from the blue of the sky.
She looks down from her balcony at the patio below with its ornate, creative pagoda that she built with her own hands, an absurd, quirky area where passers-by stop to look, smiling at her ingenuity and wit. Taking a pan she fills it with water then starts to boil it to make coffee. It is only instant but she doesn’t care, she is too lazy, still too sleepy to be bothered with grinding now. The milk in her fridge is old; she lifts it to her nose, pulls a face then tips the contents, in turgid lumps of clotted, watery fat into her sink deciding to have black coffee with sugar rather than her usual latte.
A clinking of a bell downstairs alerts her to someone opening her shop door. No one locks their doors on the island as there is no theft. All the islanders share the same lives, remotely and with a degree of insularity that prevents the need for robbery. She calls out a greeting while pouring the heated water onto the coffee granules. She stirs in two spoonful's of sugar then sips at the mug clutching it firmly in both hands. Stepping to the iron stairs she gazes down. The door to the shop opens a crack letting suffuse light sprinkle the ground and furniture before it. He stands there silhouetted by a glow of sun, dark skin bronzed by days spent serving at tables on the nearby beach, hair a tangle of curls, brown almost black to match the depth of his hazel eyes.
“The door was open.”
“It always is.”
“Yes, of course. You slept well, the heat didn’t disturb you?”
“No, the heat didn’t disturb me. Would you like some coffee?”
“It is only instant, sorry.”
“Instant is fine. I haven’t seen you lately, have you been busy?”
There was a rattle of mugs, then a saucepan being filled with water. He could hear the slap of her naked feet on the tiled floor as she moved about the kitchen.
He moved nearer so that he could see her,
“I asked if you had been busy.”
“A little, you know what summers are like here; plenty of tourists. They come into the shop, browse a bit but seldom buy. I have sold one or two things but not much.”
The saucepan came to the boil, a spluttering hiss of foaming fury. She poured the hot water on the granules.
“And you,” she asked, “have you been busy?”
“I spend my days waiting tables and like you, it is the tourists, they pay my wages and keep me busy. Trade has been good. I have worked hard. At nights I go into town and DJ at the nightclub. I can earn more doing that than I can waiting tables. To think I studied, got a degree and for what? To work tables and DJ.”
They drank their coffee, each taking little sips; she with both hands wrapped around the mug like sleeping cats, he with one hand around the mug the other in the pocket of his jeans.
There was something about him, something about his fingers; something about his hands. They were elegant and tapered and reminded her of a pianist’s fingers long and slender. She remembered his fingers on her skin.
He had taken her to Sami, to a street side café where he bought her Campari. When she spoke, he listened attentively; butterfly words that flittered around the periphery of their conversation. The evening had been the thing of a fairy story, a tale told by the dream makers of
after the aperitif a meal, Thai, sumptuous, sensual, foreplay with charm and
When the meal was over they took a cab back to her apartment where he opened the door for her in that mild mannered, old fashioned way that made her glow. She wanted him then, she wanted him to take her where she stood but he didn’t, he sat down in her lounge chair and looked at her.
"I want to see you. I want to see the heart of you that opens for me."
She felt herself flush with an erotic thrill at the words spoken, those words that said so little but imparted so much; profane and profound. She felt a desire, a deep desire, to have him do precisely what he wanted with her; anything.
She stripped for him, peeling her clothes like a tree sheds its leaves in autumn, the fall of garments rustling silk soft onto the tiled floor. She stood naked before him, Nervous but excited.
There was something about him, something dark, sinister, satanic, sexual, something holy; Alpha male personified. He led her by the hand and put her in the chair he had been sitting in. He made her lie back and part her legs.
“It is so beautiful, you are so beautiful. Your cunt looks like hope and salvation
May I touch you? May I touch it?"
When he had finished with her on the chair, when she ached for him to deliver her they had gone to her bed where his hands had played her again, his pianist fingers gliding assuredly over her flesh She knew almost as soon as their love making had finished that there had been no love involved during their union, certainly not from him although he was attentive, sensitive and gentle. This realisation made her tremble a little and he held her thinking she was trembling from the final throws of passion.
They slept as spoons with him tucked up behind her, his knees pressed against her thighs, his flaccid penis warm against her buttocks. She held his hand tight against her chest seeking to capture the magic it had held when it floated over her abdomen, her scent remained on his fingers but wasn’t as unpleasant as she thought it might be, aromatic, potent but not unpleasant. She clung onto his hand until morning arrived.
He left shortly after. There was no more love making, no sex just a neat kiss placed upon her forehead with the words whispered in her ears that she had heard before.
“I’ll let myself out.”
Then he was gone. She watched him leave, tall, handsome, devil-may-care shoulders.
There was something about him, something about his fingers; something about his hands.
From outside came the clip-clop of hoof beats. The sound arrived from faraway but was still distinct and instantly identifiable. A sound of soft whinnying carried to them. The couple moved from the kitchen to the front door to see what the sound meant. A horse was being lead by a young girl who was no more than twelve. Round the horse’s neck was a length of rope which hung loosely and looped around the girl child’s wrist. The horse, a grey mare, was large, its neck thick, its shoulders broad.
It towered meekly above the girl who seemed so small and fragile compared to it. Its head hung down as though resigned to the heat which had grown to parch the day. The horse’s flanks were solid as though carved from marble, thick sinews curved around its shoulders, its belly round, its waist narrow, its rump large and decorated with a fluster of small dark spots that closed around its tail like freckles about a child’s nose, a swarm of small horseflies floated behind. As the girl and horse passed by the man called out a greeting.
The horse ignored him keeping its head down low. The girl looked up but with glazed eyes, assessing who had called out before deciding not to answer. The girl and horse moved on, clip-clop, passing two parked cars that lay abandoned by the kerb.
“Keep out of the sun!” cries the man, knowing full well that the girl would still not answer. She didn’t but kept on walking with the horse.
From somewhere hidden a Cicada chirruped. It was an uncomfortable sound as of metal on teeth, like fingernails being dragged across a chalkboard. The heat began to shimmer as the morning moved on. It became increasingly harder to see the ocean as a faint mist had started to hover over it. The mist reminded her of them, of their brief relationship and the clumsy embarrassment that clung to their conversation now, a fragile, fragmentary thing; an amorphous emotion that had no real substance in either of their hearts, a need perhaps, a physical longing but bereft of any depth of feeling. As the girl and the horse faded from view he moved behind her.
He placed his arm about her waist. She instantly felt affronted by his arrogance, by his sheer audacity to take such a thing for granted, without seeking any acknowledgement that to embrace her was permissible without the need to ask her first. She felt him move his body closer to hers, felt his erection through her robe. A basic need erupted within her pushing all annoyance away with a rush of its insincere emotion and she pushed her buttocks hard against him.
“Let’s go inside.” She whispered.
He gave her his warm, sultry smile, a male movement of muscle and teeth. She took him by the hand into her shop, past the elegant bric-a-brac of art and seashore designs, through the arched door into her small lounge where together they climbed the stairs that led to her bedroom. It was then, as they walked up the short flight of stairs that she realised that perhaps the fleeting sensations of sexual congress are more real, more substantial and lasting than the intangible emotions of the heart; that love is but a luxury like the lustre of topaz.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.