Couldn’t sleep for resenting John’s foisting himself on me for Xmas to avoid providing for himself in his new home which has had a fridge with nothing in it and a cooker unused from the beginning of the week while he brings glutenous fish pies and a liver and bacon I can’t eat for me to bake in my oven! and complains the top isn’t clean.
I put this and more to him as lightly as I could when he called in next morning, Saturday. He described it as an attack which might drive him to heroin and shoplifting. He’d brought the fish pie to save me the expense of feeding him. “I know that.” He thought he was doing well, acquiring furniture and such. “You are.” He was. He wouldn’t visit me again. I was to be banned. His cutting off his nose to spite his face I could accept though it meant my failure too to keep him out of prison but I didn’t want not to see him again unless he was reincarcerated whereupon I wouldn’t. Tears came to my eyes I thought sincerely since I hadn’t cried in ages but could prove all the more effective for that. It was hard to say, put on by my unconscious anyway, whether it was being deliberately manipulative or not. Knowing my unconscious, probably. My eyes wet a second time as John back-pedalled, if not without a look of animosity, and I was going for a third when he asked what was wrong. “I’m sad.” To sum up: I’d confronted the issue without any really bad consequences. He would ask his mum and friend about it. “Should you do that? They’re going to agree I’m right,” he shouldn’t bring food I can’t eat with him for me to cook when he’d an oven of his own. He’d start providing for himself beyond coffee and honey, buy another pint of milk to put in the fridge. Even buy bread? Have breakfast. Go back for lunch between times I suggested. Finally there was eight weeks to go before Xmas, time enough to see how well he was doing and if he was up to having Xmas in his own home. The foisting was rescinded.
We took his kindle he’d been given to communicate with the landlord online to the library which had wifi to see how it might be worked. His favourite librarian facilitated. After, we wandered through town and into Virginia Woolf’s old garden, finding the gate to it open. A neighbour other side the wall surprised us in it.
Adrian texted me: could he visit with Oleg? Sure. He brought two bottles of what he called Spanish champagne. Prosecco. I hadn’t, John had, met Oleg before. Oleg couldn’t remember. Adrian explained where, at a bus stop, when they were going to the pictures. Oleg remembered enthusiastically, shaking John’s hand. Shoes were doffed out of respect for my new rug. They smoked outside on the balcony, Oleg told just to flick the ash on to the gravel beneath. In the room I said John had only just learned he’d German antecedents despite having an uncle, Fritz, and aunt, Heidi, as well as a dog called Heinz. John got back with my being Scottish and not British as I am. Oleg thought if I spoke like a cultured Scot, I was, despite being born in England. He thought the Scots pronounced bus boos. Born in Latvia, he didn’t speak Latvian. “You’re British,” I said to Adrian, born in Cuba, “like me,” near enough. I said Adrian had unfriended me three times on Facebook. Oleg said he’d been unfriended twenty-five times and had a friend request. We were getting on so well we were planning to go to Liverpool, Oleg driving. John didn’t have a licence. Adrian answered his phone and asked could Manuel join us. Sure. He went off to meet him and did on the street outside.
I asked Manuel if we’d met before. I’d met a Manuel with Adrian in Richmond station. He said not. I didn’t pursue it. Oleg criticised Manuel’s poor English. Adrian texted me from the balcony Oleg, with me inside, was hungry. I read the text out. Oleg denied he was. I provided smoked salmon with a dill sauce, beef pieces and biscuits. Oleg wasn’t hungry. I also provided more sparkling wine and vodka from the wine cellar or shed. John said what a good host I was. Adrian dispensed the spirit from plastic shot glasses straight into one’s mouth and a sniff of cocaine from the end of a stick to one’s left nostril, to no discernible effect. He wanted a coffee, with milk. I made him a cappuccino and whenever I saw it neglected insisted he drink up. Adrian told the others to look how slim I was. I wished I’d shaved. I reciprocated how slim he was though I also liked his belly plump, how slim Manuel was, Oleg. Manuel spilt John’s red wine on my curtain Adrian promptly salted with cooking salt from a kitchen cupboard, and the carpet beneath. No glass was broken. Manuel then stayed in the swivel chair he’d presumed to move for his and social convenience. John said he’d be staying the night.
Oleg outside on the balcony said he wanted hash but Adrian didn’t whereas inside Adrian did, saying Oleg didn’t and its being bought was to be kept secret from him. John was to buy it on my assurance he could be trusted and Adrian gave him card and pin no to extract the £40, surprising me he did so with such ease. I’d expected money drawn from pocket. John also otiosely assured him he was to be trusted, casting doubt. John went to pick it up from an East End dealer driving in to supply Richmond.
Manuel was ensconced semi-comatose in the swivel chair, unmoving apart from when he leant forward to be sick on the rug and sideways to be sick again on the carpet and rug. I swept the small-grained spew into a pan, none of the salmon or beef bits evident, and applied Vanish, as much as I could quickly do, reassuring Manuel it didn’t matter. It didn’t, and not because I was anaesthetised, though it might later. He wanted his phone recharged, leaving it on to play pop music or something in conflict with the music I had playing. I wanted it off. Manuel shook his head. Adrian didn’t know how to switch it off either.
Adrian, from the balcony, had blood on his shirt from god knows where I diluted with cold water in the bathroom sink before consigning it and white undershirt to the laundry basket and supplying Adrian with a black silk t-shirt from the airing cupboard.
Oleg and Adrian, coming in, were verbally spatting in the hall or little lobby between outside door and room, with bathroom one side and doorless kitchen on the other where Adrian was standing, telling Oleg, “You’re a loser.” Oleg went for him and they fought in kitchen and minuscule hall while I interposed my person, emitting “Stop it,” reminiscent of what I’d told the psychopath fracturing a friend’s skull before thinking so to act; I must’ve judged this was a lot less dangerous, and did succeed in holding Oleg to a halt, whereupon Adrian, taking advantage of the opportunity, from where he was then, in the room doorway, launched himself at Oleg and they were at it for a second round of the kitchen and maybe hall because I subsequently saw an oblong of black silk on the floor though that could’ve been detached during the first round. Again I stopped the fight. Adrian went off, bare flank showing. I recradled the entry phone.
Oleg was weeping from a bruised eye I put ice cubes in a plastic food bag for but he refused to use it and threw it into the hedge bordering the gravel pit of a garden. He went off. Adrian came back. I applied dermatological cream to his face and neck, and the lump on his forehead. I asked if he’d call the police, saying the first thing they’d ask would be had he retaliated, so avoiding having to charge anybody. He didn’t know how it’d started. I told him what I’d heard. See above. “Did I!” he said. “You did.” He said John had been gone two hours and wouldn’t be back, implying with the money. That long?
He moved Manuel who was promptly sick again on the centre of the last stain. I said to leave him. In which case, Adrian made sure I’d condoms. I did have though couldn’t offhand think where. Adrian, however, persisted with moving Manuel as far as the kitchen. I looked at the two shoes, thinking he’d have difficulty getting Manuel in them. I was wrong. I saw John below sitting on a tenant’s garden chair berating the dealer by mob as Adrian was escorting Manuel down the stairs. I went down myself, going out the back, to ask John for the money to give back to Adrian who was going out the front door of the block. John was reluctant to since the dealer would be arriving in ten minutes and from his swift departure with Manuel I could tell Adrian wasn’t interested in getting his money back.
We passed a stationary car on the way to the station John wasn’t recognising but went back to. Two girls were having a contretemps with an occupant who parleyed with John on the pavement as I strolled back, watching them embrace. The Pakistani returned to the car on a friendly leave-taking from John. “That was not what he was saying earlier.”
John took a small cut and asked for a bag to put the drug bag in, unnecessarily as I thought. It’d be otiose to use ‘otiosely’ there. I put this through Adrian’s letter box after getting no response. A light went on. I returned to address not Adrian but Rich, his ex, “It’s for Adrian.” “What is it?” “Hash.”
The kitchen sill was full of empty wine bottles, two vodka and a whisky, a tonic and a plastic soda.
Coming back with the Sunday paper I noticed underfoot was gravel, all along my bit of the balcony. This concurred with the thump from the stairwell and tapping on the door during the night though I’d seen nobody outside reflected from the windows opposite or anybody through my own door. We conjectured Oleg had come back and not known the no to buzz.
On putting them away, I noticed one of my glasses was missing in action, presumed dead.
Behind the cushion of the swivel chair, I found an emptied packet of Kamiagra – the name suggesting viagra – lozenges. Had he taken all four? Could they make someone sick?