Doors of Tunis

Nick holds a cup with his left hand, although he’s mostly right-handed. He always leaves an inch or two at the bottom. He sleeps flat on his back, arms folded on his chest like a stone effigy. In the mornings, he pretends not to be awake. My fingers creep gently round his thighs then he groans, ‘If I must – you’re insatiable – I know I’m just a sex object.’ On the night the clocks went forward we passed dark chocolate between our mouths like a bird feeds its young. We fed on one another.

‘It wasn’t going anywhere, was it?’ he says. ‘Come on. Be honest. I got on your nerves. You were bored. You hated staying at home watching telly. You despise television, in your heart, admit it. I don’t mind the cinema once in a while, but all this gangster stuff, it makes me sick. It’s degrading. Let’s face it, Nancy, we’re incompatible.’

‘What’s the television got to do with anything? You just don’t fancy me anymore.’

‘No, that’s not it. That’s not it.’

‘You’d sooner fuck someone else. What’s the point in going over things? It’s finished. You dumped me. So what if you feel guilty? Don’t rationalise.’

‘Do you want me to go?’

‘No, it’s okay.’ How else to kill time? Nineteen minutes left, then I’ll step in front of the class, trim and sharp and on the spot. Oh, I’ll be good tonight. For two short hours this dream will be suspended.

‘What’re you doing with them this time?’

‘You’d love it,’ I tell him sarcastically. ‘It’s right up your street. Hitchcock, Vertigo, remember? Jimmy Stewart forces Kim Novak to dress up like another woman. Then he drives her to her death.’ To my surprise, he does remember; Nick’s film taste coalesced in the film societies of the Sixties, with fuzzy prints of Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa. I don’t quite believe him when he tells me he saw Vertigo when it came out. It seems far too long ago, another age. He was alive before I was born.

‘My father took me – must have been in the Fifties some time.’

‘1958. You were seven.’ Suddenly I’m looking at him, Nick – not some man, some stranger, but Nick, Nick, don’t you know me? ‘That’s a weird thing to take a child to see.’

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One Response to “Doors of Tunis”

  1. October 31, 2008 at 2:05 pm, rob said:

    good read!
    im just like nick – mayb all blokes r!


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