At the time I was living in shared accommodation, separate single and doubles rooms, paper-thin walls, a radiator system that leaked once or twice a month. Water seeping onto the carpet. Water running down the walls. A communal kitchen and bathroom. The worse bathroom I ever saw. Permanent **** rings in the toilet basin, black matted pubic tangled around the bath/shower plughole, and the occasional trail of hardened vomit plastered on the wall. But oddly nobody ever complained about the mess, except this one time, one of the tenants had deposited a rather solid looking turd in the toilet basin, which on a cold January morning, when you’re tired, irritable and being tortured with a murderous hung-over, seeing turds floating in the lavatory, at seven O’clock is hardly a positive way to start the day. I had just broken up with the girlfriend and I was feeling sick and melancholy and spending far too much time alone, listening to old cassettes. Barry White, Marvin Gay. Reo Speed Wagon-You know it’s you babe…blah blah blah. Sentimental love songs, along with classic smoochy hits, we’d ****** along to during our nights of passion, when times were good. And I was doing a job that I hated, working in an office from 9 to 5.30 every day, and I was surrounded by people I hated, who no doubt hated me with equal venom, though none of them would say as much, since in their eyes I probably wasn’t worth the effort. I didn’t go along to get along. I didn’t laugh at the manager’s dull obvious jokes, or tag along with the usual crowd of spineless drips to the Old Red Lion Pub to talk shop or stab their fellow colleagues in the back, for no good reason, except that it got them in good with the bosses. I didn’t show any willingness to cosy-up with these people; those dead-dehumanise-soulless robots, repeating over and over again, the same worthless management-newspeak… while they sat in front of their computers, for hours at a time, humming along the AC, as if Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor where their God and messiah. I had no real desire to have my name put forward for promotion, when the suits with the shinny boots upstairs were deciding whom to advance, and whom to show the door. (I was frequently shown the door). I had no aptitude for sucking dick, and taking it up the arse, while grunting and grinning like a chimpanzees for peanuts and the privilege of making some guy I’d never met, and had no idea I even existed, rich beyond his wildest dreams. It’s probably safe to say, that I never really learnt to play the game, which I accept was probably my biggest downfall. Well, the phone rang and as usually nobody else in the house would get off their arse to answer it, so I went out to the passage and picked it up. May I speak to Mo please? said drunken female voice. Hold on, I said. And I ran up stairs, knocked on Mo’s door, but after the fifth or sixth knock, I gave up the ghost and came back down again. He’s not in. Do you want to leave a message? I said into the phone. Who am I speaking to? I gave her my name. Have you got a girlfriend? No, I said smiling into the phone. Can I meet you? she asked. I don’t know, I said. Why not? I really didn’t have a genuine excuse, but since I was still feeling extremely fragile after the break-up, I told the girl my room was a terrible mess and that I needed to tidy it up. (not entirely false) How long will that take? she asked. An hour, I said. Ok, she said. I’ll meet you in an hour. Then to my horror, she hung up the phone. I ran back to my room, pulled back the duvet and the sheet was lying there, looking up at me, and I began to feel embarrassed and partly ashamed, knowing that in my grief I hadn’t bothered to change my beddings in almost a month, and the bottom sheet was covered in toast and biscuit crumps, dry flaking come-stains, dribble spots from my nightly emissions of saliva, and a large white wine stain, which at first glance resembled a gigantic piss patch. I opened the window. The place stank. I had locked myself away from the world, and the consequence of a room strewn with unwashed clothes, plus despair, plus anger, plus resentment, plus my rancid body odour, had produced such a foul and sickening funk, I was surprised the other tenants hadn’t requested my eviction months ago. Fortunately I still kept a can of air-freshner in my room, which I sprayed liberally about the room, causing me to cough and spatter and finally rush out of the room for fear of being choked to death in the name of personal hygiene. I rarely went out except to go to work, go to the gym, or to visit the petrol station at the end of my road, in order to replenish my stay-at-home supplies. I’d turn up at odd times, wearing a NY baseball cap and sunglasses. The sunglasses were to hide my eyes, but at 12 O’clock at night, I probably looked more like a stick-up merchant. Nether less, I liked to think that myself, and the guy that worked the counter, had an understanding. I was carrying a torch for my ex and pain is a strange thing, because while I continued to wallow in my grief, she on the other hand, gave all the indications of someone taking the whole thing in their stride, as if she’d chosen a particular colour of stockings and was trading them in for a slightly different look. No doubt it is always better to dump than be dumped. Let down gently, Chucked. It all amounts to the same thing. A bruised ego and an immediate desire to exact revenge…After it happened I was in a temporary state of shock. Well, shock in the sense that even though you know its going to happen, the final blow still hurts…much like death I suppose. You can’t prepare for something like that. She was now living with some guy she given head to, in a nightclub cubicle, while I was at home, lying in bed with the flu. And though it broke my heart, I also felt some admiration for her (yes it’s strange I know). Mainly because she was able to do the thing I knew had to be done, but couldn’t bring myself to do. i.e. Cheat. Not that I am to be counted among the innocent. We all lie, deceive, and betray those close to us, for whatever reason. But saying that, feeling such a strong pull of affection for someone, can affect one in strangest of ways, and I was trying to hold on to what? A relationship-which in all honestly-had probably been doomed from the start. I threw the dirty sheet in the washing machine, took out another and spread it over the bed. I hovered the room, picked up piles of clothes and stuffed them in the drawers, not caring where they went. Then I walked out to the hallway, and peered out the window beside the door. I repeated this three or four times, hoping that perhaps my mystery date had changed her mind…Women do you know. It was hard, since even being in the company of another female was still quite painful, and then in a moment of paranoia, I began to wonder whom the girl on the phone was. I mean who she really was, and I began to suspect that my ex had put her up to it. Though I couldn’t exactly say why, except that my ex could be extremely manipulative and controlling, (and slightly mad, if the truth be known) and for example would call up intermittently, giving me the low-down on girls she knew or had recently met, whom she felt would be an ideal companion, leaving me to wonder what kind of scheming madness was at work. Suffice to say, I never took her up on any of the offers. Would you? This time as I stared out of the window I saw a car come to a stop. The door opened and a small Filipino girl got out and came clicking up the garden path. Hearing her heels on paving stones, I began to sweat and loose my nerve. We headed to a bar close by, and this girl could drink. She explained that she was friends’ with Mo. Mo being one of the other tenants in the house. An ex girlfriend? I enquired. No, she said, just a good friend. But her smile seemed to hint at something else; or at least that’s the way I interpreted it…once the trust in one relationship goes, paranoia often follows. We were both very drunk and she kissed me and I kissed her back and the next thing we were all over one another, making a silly exhibition of ourselves, while the other patrons, stared, whistled or made the type of indecent comments that would make a sailor blush. Back in the flat we fooled around for a while and I excused myself, and then went up to use the toilet. I needed to get my head straight. Figure out what was going on, and what I had let myself in for. Things like this just didn’t happen to me. I came back from the toilet, and there she was lying on my bed, naked, (I hadn’t expected that) with her knees in the air, her light brown belly rising and falling quickly…excitedly, and a little dark triangle of hair covering her ****. I walked towards the bed and she sat up and began to unfasten the buttons of my jeans. She took out my penis and began beating me off, squeezing the top, and pulling viciously, like a milkmaid in the throes of an amphetamine rush. I was too embarrassed to ask her to stop. We kissed some more, and afterwards I climbed on top, but very little happened. I couldn’t get hard, and when I pulled out and peel off the wrinkled condom, she tried to blow me, and accidentally grazed me with her teeth. At that point I asked her to stop and she simply laughed, and then she began tickling my arse and playing with my balls; that didn’t work either. She got dressed and asked if I’d like to see her again, and being a coward, of course I said yes. I’ll tell my husband I mean my cousin to bring me. Your husband? I asked. It turned out that she had married some guy, in order that she could stay in the country. Apparently he was gay, so if we decided continued our liaison, it wouldn’t be a problem, she informed me with a wink. What do you do? I asked. I’m a student. We’ll next year I will be. It suddenly occurred to me that she looked fairly young. I was 27 and she couldn’t have been more that 22. Anyway I didn’t ask. I felt better not knowing. She gave me her number, which I stuffed in my pocket, while she stood in front of the mirror adjusting her hair. What did you think when I phoned? she asked, staring into my eyes. To be honest, I thought it was a joke. Do you like me? Off course, I said. Which wasn’t a lie. She had a certain, how shall I put it, fearless quality about her. I got the impression that the moment she decided she wanted something; she took whatever steps were necessary to make it hers. It was as if doubt had never entered her mind. That she’d never suffered from a crisis of confidence, or even knew what it was to fail. She went out to the passage and used the phone. Two minutes later she was back. Call me, she said. She kissed me on the lips and I stood there staring down at the top of her head hair, wondering if I’d ever see her again. The whole episode seemed very bizarre. Like and episode from the Twilight Zone. An X rated version. She left and I walked back to my room. Upstairs my Chinese neighbour was practicing his violin and I could hear the young Algerian waiter and his Polish girlfriend in the room next door, arguing as usual. I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. Then all of a sudden, despite my melancholy mood, I broke into a grin and began to laugh. My ex, I thought, shaking me head. I bet she did it. I bet she set the whole thing up.