No title for this as yet, and as ever, its an alpha draft of the thing. C&C always welcome.
“You’re coming right?”
I took the flier from the beautiful young woman, stammering, “err, sure,” without thinking.
“Don’t just say it,” she pouted, “you have to mean it, Francis.”
I shook my head but felt myself smiling.
“You promise me, Francis?”
I couldn’t help looking into her eyes. Their dark depths kept me standing in the rain for longer than even her soft skin and perky breasts should have.
“I promise,” I said.
“Great, see you there,” she laughed and before I could ask her name she was jogging off into the press of people.
I turned, looking at the flier she had given me, wondering how she had known my name.
At home I find my keys won’t turn in the lock. After half an hour of the intensifying rain and shouting ineffectively at the windows of my neighbours I manage to sneak around the back and get in through a window.
My flat is cold.
I know I should eat but nothing in the fridge seems appetising. I wander the flat, picking books off the shelf and putting them down after the briefest of glances. I normally love to read.
The image of the young woman pops back into my head; strong looking arms and shoulders, pale skin, dark makeup, plump breasts. Nice, very nice.
But how had she known my name?
Someone knocks on my door.
“Mr Buchannan?” It sounds like the building’s superintendent. She’s old but her voice sounds older than I remember.
She knocks again.
“I am here, Mrs Gun, the door doesn’t open.”
“Hello? Mr Buchannan?” The door lock rattled and I hear keys clink as they go into the lock. Just like mine, they fail to unlock the door. I hear Mrs Gun mutter to herself before turning and walking back down the hallway.
She must be going deaf I thought.
I have to get ready for the party tonight. I have no idea what had made the beautiful young woman hand me a party invitation and beg me to come?
I’m a little too old for late night parties with young women on a weekday. I’ve seen the memes on the internet about older men going clubbing and how they are reviled by the women they tried to pick up. Would I just be another one of those old men trying to recapture a sexually promiscuous past I never really had?
I probably looked like I had enough money to pay for a few drinks. Bars use hot young ladies like her to pull in old letches like me so that we can prop up the bar all night buying drinks for the young hot things that would stumble home with someone their own age.
Maybe I shouldn’t go?
I’ve got nothing better to do.
It’s a nice little flat. Tastefully decorated. I’m let in by a guy that I swear I’ve see somewhere before. He’s actually older than me, balding and dressed in a business suit that makes him look like an undertaker.
There’s music playing in the living room and as I drop my coat onto the pile in somebodies bedroom I can hear people talking. Lots of people in fact. Big crowd tonight.
I walk into the living room and someone hands me a drink.
“Francis, you came!” The young woman hugs me and laughs as her breasts crush against my chest. “I started to worry that you weren’t coming,” she says, her black lips pouting like the coquettish schoolgirl she must have been not a few years ago.
“I thought, I mean, I knew I’d have fun,” I stammer out, failing to keep the lie casual and trying not to look down her top.
She laughs again and pulls me through to the kitchen where more people are standing, chatting and picking at the snacks. Bottles and jugs filled with a Technicolor rainbow of liquids are being handed back and forth, emptied and replenished in almost an unceasing fashion.
“I’m so glad you came,” she says, her hands holding mine as she leans back on the fridge door. I can feel my mouth go a little bit dry. It’s been a long time since any young woman has shown this much interest in me for a while. I swallow. Her huge dark eyes are looking up at me from that starkly pale face, both wanton and innocent in a manner that seems genetically crafted to excite me.
“It’s my pleasure.”
“You know I’ve wanted you to come to one of my parties for a long time.” I have no memory of her, her parties or being invited to them beyond today, but why the hell would I have said no.
“Look, I’m not sure, but I don’t know how we met.” I feel wretched instantly.
“Silly, we’ve know each other about a month now, but not remembering is fine.” She puts her arms around my neck and I feel my hands on her flanks, placed there almost without my knowing.
“I’ve wanted you for a long time.” Her lips look soft and I can feel myself moving closer to kiss her.
“Mingle,” she says, and before I know it she has slipped away from me, pulling another party guest aside and almost skipping out of the room.
I feel light headed.
What the heck just happened?
I end up standing with a group of men, mostly my own age, doing what all men of a certain age do at social gatherings.
“Three times a month,” the man called George says. He is the tall dark suited man that I took for an undertaker at first.
“Twice, but I have to have a great big handful of pills to go along with it,” Sebastian tells us.
“Hip operation?” I ask.
Both men nod.
“The wife has me see a specialist. She worries.” George sips his drink as he says it. I still think he’s familiar, although I can’t tell where I know him from.
“Mine passed,” I tell him.
“Sorry to hear that, Frank.”
“It’s alright. She went peaceful.”
There’s an uncomfortable silence, broken by the young woman suddenly linking arms with Sebastian and whispering in his ear. She pulls him to one side.
“How’d you know her,” I ask George.
“Met her yesterday. Handed me a flier for this party. I don’t even know her name.”
“Neither do I. She’s… very, err, flirty, isn’t she.”
George nods and then goes to get us another drink.
The young people are dancing now, listening to some sort of music that seems made out of the scrap pieces of other bits of music. It’s not unpleasant, just not something I’m used to. I watch for a little while, seeing the dance floor swell with bodies. Some of the older people are being dragged over to dance as well. I see our host, her outfit preplaced now with something even more revealing and impractical intercept George as he comes out of the kitchen, dragging him across the floor and dancing with him in a way that looks like it might only be found on niche websites.
I guess I’ll get my own drink.
In the kitchen there are more people serving themselves from the fridge and its collected bottles. The music has infected the mood in here as well and I find myself trying to squirm through the press of bodies, all of which are getting more and more interested in each other, to get to a can of beer.
The only other person not dancing is a young woman holding a baby. She is standing sadly looking at the others, holding her little bundle close to her chest.
I reach out to touch her, wanting to ask her why she brought a baby to a party and to check if she is alright, but as I move she vanishes.
I’m left looking at empty air. No woman and no baby. It’s as if she was never there. I leave the kitchen and head to the door. I don’t know what I just saw, I know I’m not drunk or mad or hallucinating. I get to the front door. I push it and the door clunks against the jam with a solid metal on metal sound. I shove it, my hand rattling the nob. Nothing. Its locked.
The place has thinned out now. The clock says it’s ten thirty, but the night feels old. The music still plays, but it’s a softer, more sombre tune. More people have vanished before my eyes.
My young hostess is dancing with an older woman. They hold each other in a tender hug, swaying to the music, both of their eyes closed and expressions peaceful. Slowly, the old lady fades from sight.
“What the hell is this?” I ask her.
She looks up at me, her eyes red and her makeup streaked.
“This! That woman? This party? People have been vanishing in front of my eyes all night.”
She smiles, not the immodest hungry smile from before, but a brief and sober curl of lips.
“They’re dead, Francis.”
The room is quiet. The music has stopped. I look around me to see that we are alone, surrounded by empty cups, plates and the lonely silence of the empty flat.
“They’re dead. Everyone here was.”
“Really? You’ve been saying that for the last month.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“You’ve been dead a month, Francis. George ran you over in his car. Your body died but your spirit just sat back up and went on with your life.”
This is ridiculous.
“You tried leaving earlier, didn’t you?”
How did she know?
“I know everything, Francis.”
She sits down on a small stool, her eyes tired and red, her clothing less revealing than before, shapeless and indistinct.
I look at her. I look around the room. I try to understand.
“Yes,” she smiles, finally.
“George ran you over. He died too.”
“But George was here.”
“Yes, Francis, that’s the point.”
She gets up and guides me to a chair. She perches on the armrest, gently stroking her hand through my hair. It is the most intimate and tender experience I have had since my wife died.
“She’ll be there.”
“Will she?” I feel tears in my eyes. I haven’t seen Claire for so long.
“Who do you think gave me the idea of the low cut top this morning?” She smiles and laughs again, but they are gestures born from weary sadness.
“I don’t know what to do. I want to see her again.”
“I know Francis. Just close your eyes and I’ll do all the rest.”
I close my eyes, and…