Jesus, I saw the vendor pick that up with his hands, his raw hands, not with the gloves like he's supposed to. She shouldn't buy that one. I could tell her, but I won't. It's best that she doesn't know, not now anyway, it would be so difficult to explain! At least she wore the purple overcoat today. Even if she gets sick from the vendor man, at least she won't get a head cold. It's just about the only weather-proof thing she has, what's she like? I should tell her about the sale in the little outdoorsy shop near where she works. She'd be able to pick something decent for the chilly months. That wouldn't be a great idea, not now anyway. Fuck, that would be so difficult to explain.
Think she'd have correct change for the bus? She should have used the 5er in her pocket when she bought the wrap. I haven't been close enough to say for definite that it’s a 5er, but I know she took €20 out of the ATM beside the station this morning, and after her two iced coffees, panini, lotto quick pick and the €2.20 she gave to that homeless man on Nassau Street, she should have about €6 left. Bank notes are no good on a Dublin bus and the €1 wouldn't get you a child fare these days!
A man's giving her the change now, anyway. Most of me knows he's helping but a lot of me doesn't give a fuck how difficult it would be to explain the clawing I'm holding back. I'd use my fingers to take his eyes out, then I’d like to see him count the change or spot his damsel in distress or match his fawn, old-fuck-looking overcoat with those expensive brogues.
The cats and dogs and children aren't really bothered with me. Big people take a quick look, only from the white of their eyes. I look back at them. They don't look back at me a second time, thank goodness.
I'm far enough away now, but I'm getting a bit tired. She hasn't turned back. She hasn't once had a glance around to see if I'm there, waiting, impatient, growing slightly tedious of her teasing indifference.
She's been home.
She's ditched the purple overcoat and her work ponytail. She didn't have to. She's beautiful either way, but the man she wants to meet tonight isn't as accommodating or nice or accommodating or loving or accommodating as me. She won’t take him back tonight, but he'll try it. She's such a fucking slut, she's so cute like that.
It's approaching fast. I'm a playful amount of dangerous. I’m a sheet of cling film in a swimming pool. A pin among spaghetti to tear throats. The thought makes me smile. The light bounces purposefully off my jacket in the exact way it's meant to. I'm the single most spottable human on this high street, she's the most anonymous.
Yet, she stands out.
Necks crane and flop to rubber in her wake. The less courteous heads drop and swivel. Lips loosen, then pull wide, then pucker, then whistle, then pull wide again, then talk shit. I'm the most visible and the least present, she's the opposite. It's difficult to explain.
The darker it gets, the wider my smile. The dimmer the lights, the happier the skip. The louder the revellers in the bars that bookend my alleys and cobbled closes, the better I can laugh from deep in my chest.
She's just up ahead now, it wasn't even a date. It couldn't have been. He doesn't know how to kiss her – not like the way dead Kevin or limp Alan or blind Jason did, with one hand on her hip and the other on her face – and certainly NOT the way Tony or Greg did, with their anonymous, sinful, exploratory tongues laying siege to her beautiful mouth.
“Excuse me, Missus? You dropped your glove.”
“Sorry? I wasn't wearing one.”
“Oh! My mistake. It must have been some other fuck tease.”
It's not the blood or the hair or even the vomit that's on my clothes that's confusing and troubling me. But in the morning, when I get back to the station, they'll ask me how I got the bite marks – there's even a bit of tooth, I can feel it under the tattoo! I could say it was a junkie, but I would have called it in. There would have been another car in the area to pick me up.
They know I know that.
I can’t go to the hospital - they'd have to take the jacket off. The jacket off, and the jumper off. The jacket off and the jumper off then the t-shirt off.
Then they'd see the name.
Not just her first name; the whole thing.
Not just once; the whole body.
Not just ink; flesh calmly severed and flayed and healed in thin, glossy pink lines that would be so very difficult to explain.
Anthony Deane is a writer of the macabre, the disturbing and the jarring. He lives and works in Dublin, Ireland, where he writes for newspapers and magazines as a journalist.