Past spinal, the last door on the left.
The box was just another remnant of a failed relationship, filled a few days earlier with a small percentage of his life, packed away and transported somewhere else. Never again he thought, not that this was the first time his whole life added up to just a few piles of boxes, belongings garnered over the years. In this case it was his love of football, fighting and other people’s women that led to this round of unpacking, but that wasn’t strictly true, she was always working. It was hardly surprising he had drifted back to his old ways, his single ways. C’ la vie he said to himself as he came across an old book. Wow this takes him back, as a couple of photos dropped out, he mused aaarh the summer of ’99…………….
…………It had been coming, he wasn’t surprised, relieved if truth be known. The past six months had been akin to a living hell, trying to talk to someone only to find no response, this from a girl you thought was the one, one you would have taken a bullet for, now you would duck and not think twice. Countless times the subject was broached, countless times rebuffed with what was always pretty much Bull Shit, he knew it then and knew it now, but what could he do?
He no longer loved her, he hung around, not out of hope, he had to know, had to hear it from her mouth and then ask…… Why ?
Why had she allowed this to drag out so long, if she felt this way why not just say it, come out and make a clean break?
Still he was no angel, roof over his head, free board and had had the luxury of having no one to answer to, for the past three months although sharing the flat, he was living pretty much the single life, boozing and whoring, no, he was no angel.
After getting confirmation of the situation, the only thing he could think of was getting away, anywhere, he did not care, just anywhere but here. He was surprised that he felt anything like this; it was so over anyway, what was he fretting over? A whiskey or two and it was put down to a generalisation of splitting up and feeling rejected. Fuck it, and a phone call later it was booked. Seven days on Rhodes, no idea where, it was that kind of deal.
He had 24 hours to pack, raise some cash and sort out shit for the week ahead, wasn’t going to be a problem, she was good as gold like that, they may not have had a conversation for weeks, but she still collected his washing, cleaned and ironed, if it wasn’t for the lack of affection, a bit of a sweet deal this. So with bags packed ready and waiting, it was just reading material to go, a glance up at the bookcase…Dovetosky….to heavy…. Hiaasen…. perfect….Behan…..yep…… Tressell…spot on ….. Haley….perfect for the flight, lastly he came across Salinger, always a favourite of his. Plenty of material there. As he made to book a cab for the ride to the station, she showed him why he had thought so much of her as she insisted on dropping him off at the station to begin his journey.
The lateness of booking had its drawbacks 10pm flight begot a 4am landing, beer and wine were not his best idea. The last thing he remembered as he hit his room was a midday meet and greet at the bar and how crap this hotel seemed to him, never the less it had a bed, a big one at that.
Even on holiday Sundays had an air of disappointment around them, maybe you could sense it in the poor fucks that worked in the hotel, but as he dragged himself down to the bar for midday and 30 minutes of pointless bollox, you usually got a free beer out of it, at the very least a coffee. As the rep droned on, he immediately thought happy daze as the waiter headed over with two pints of freshly poured, ice cold Mythos. The euphoria was short lived as a pint was deposited on to his table, the other headed behind him and a female voice promptly thanked the guy in his native tongue. As the rep came to the end of a well-rehearsed spiel and looked round for any punters willing to pay three times as much for a waterpark trip than can be sorted with the waiter, she gave out an interesting titbit of information……. Do not ask for a large beer in the Gavros bar as it comes in a ‘yard’ glass and you are expected to at least try to neck it in one. At this the Greek speaking woman behind whispered , loud enough for him to hear ” sign me the fuck up”, he glanced over with a grin on his face and smiled. Late 20’s all the bits in the right places and proportioned accordingly, in the Yorkshire accent he had just heard her use ,he thought to himself very tasty that, very tasty. As seven days is a long time, even in Rhodes, and by her side was a bag of beach gear, he hit the shops to get some supplies, as he spent an hour or two hitting a few coffee houses and even locating the ‘Gavros’, always found it handy scouting the local area out, he knew from experience that you never know where you may find yourself in the middle of the night.
As he made his way back to his room he spied Blondie, lounged out by the pool, a quick shower and he was at the bar, small beer, and a sly check for a vacant sun bed in her vicinity. Pleasantly hot but not sweaty , he adjusted his towel, checking everything was as it should be he lounged away with Haley’s Roots and jumped in from where he left it on the plane.
It took her about 5 minutes to comment on his choice of reading, he was two sunbeds away in the full sun, while she had chosen a bed under an umbrella. Few of the other tourists were within ear shot, it was the end of season, early October and the hotel was probably half full at most.” Great book that”. “Thanks” he replied “always like reading it when flying, you get so in to it time flies and your landing before you know it”.
With his glass now empty and spotting the B&H packet on the table next to her lounger, he invited her for a beer and a smoke at the bar. Her name was Jo , she was from Tadcaster and was amazed that not only had he heard of it he had actually stopped there on the way back from York for a few beers after a night game, the story of him throwing bits of hashish on to the open fire and taking deep breaths as he had ran out of Rizlas brought a cheeky smile to her face, it was a few years ago he explained. Jo had never heard of Aldershot and sometimes he wished he hadn’t either. They retreated back to their respected lounges and made small talk, chit chat really, she was here on her own, just split up from hubby and getting the last of the sun, not wanting to seem overly keen he made his excuses and retired.
That evening he headed off to the local town , bite to eat and a few taverna’s .
Deliberately getting back to the hotel early, if gave him time to check out the other guests and make out the lie of the land, he had found ambiances everywhere are difference, this one had its own make up of guests, he was the only single guy and with 3 or 4 singletons of the fairer sex it was fair to say result.
Within an hour Jo had returned with a French girl and a couple from Manchester, he spent the early hours of Monday with introductions and drunken talk and as the late night flight took its toll he hit the sack.
The next couple of days followed the same path, shower, afternoon by the pool close but not pushing it , conversations , sun worship and more conversation. Delphine came over said hi and in her French way we made the quintessential three some, even better she picked the bed next to me which drew Jo in to moving her umbrella in to covering all three of us.
All day Wednesday was spent by the pool as 4 o clock came Delphine said her goodbyes and left, at this point he reached into his bag and pulled out Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the rye’. It was his favourite read every question led to more questions, it’s such a great read, as she caught the title her eyes lit up and she reveals she is an English teacher back home .He wasn’t overly educated, what he lacked he made up with belief. Belief in his opinions, they would be tested now. What do you get from that book she asked ? Well he replied throughout, Holden Caulfield rails against what he sees as frauds, everyone he doesn’t like …fraud, people he doesn’t agree with…frauds. Yet I have read this and the biggest fraud in the book is Holden himself! Jo smiled, it’s a good read and everyone who reads it comes back with a different opinion on what it means to them. The early evening drew in and with it came debates on Voltaire’s black humour , Nietzsche, Kafka and Dickens. They both thought Shakespeare was ok for the 16th century and Irvine Welsh was a god. It was then, as they packed their towels away that Jo invited him for a meal with Delphine and the Manc couple, the guy was Greek and had been told of a great taverna up in the hills , he readily accepted and arranged to be at the bar around 9pm.
The meal was a roaring success , seated next to Jo the Retsina flowed, Meze kept coming and the conversation was not dissimilar to 5 old friends catching up after months apart . A few rounds of Ouzo, toasts and plenty of Yammas the group returned back to the hotel. As the boisterous group told stories of shite , Jo pulled him to one side and enquired as to his plans for the following day he lent back on his chair and calmly, even soberly told her. He had found a fishmongers and a shop selling portable BBQ’s, the plan was, weather permitting , to hit the beach with some Sardines , Bass, garlic, lemon, bread and olive oil for an Al Fresco meal , a few beers, some wine and a swim in the Mediterranean. Nervously he awaited her response…. Got enough for two she came back with? Of course, meet me here about one and we will hit the beach.
He was there, knowing he had achieved enough he made his excuses and bid goodnight. It was dark as he exited his stairwell turned left and headed towards to his room, he was not alone.” Hi” she said and gestured to his room. He had not spoken to this girl at all but her intention was made clear as they entered his room. Drunk but not bolloxed, he made a decision….. the next morning he awoke very early, there was a shape next to him, rushing to the bathroom he felt wrong, bad as well but very wrong. So wrong he woke her up and pointed to the door, she smiled, got dressed and left. Something was wrong, but only 8am, he went back to bed and slept. Waking up at midday he showered and hit the bar. It was empty ,he was alone, 1pm came and went, 45 minutes later he hit the beach.
The next two days passed with no sight of Jo, but he had bigger fish to worry about, it did not take a lot of working out. As he hit the departure coach he was full of reflection, it was 10pm , something was wrong and then she was there, “ sorry about the BBQ, been busy ” she walked past him and took a seat at the back of the coach.
He never saw her again, he landed and got home very tired, but home, for now at least, but something was wrong, very wrong.
The following Monday, he walked past spinal injuries and took the last door on the left, as a pair of surgical gloves and the Q-tip reached the required depth into his urethra………….
……………. it hit him , and hit him hard.
The four days of pissing razor blades…………
………..And as he sat in his new loft with a book, the book in front of him, J D Salinger’s ‘Catcher In The Rye’.
It hit him again.
He was the one that had fucked up.
He was the one that always fucked up.
So who was the biggest fraud now?