I must unconsciously have picked Thomas out in Waitrose because I thought it was him I saw in the library being aware of me. At any rate, in the shop I asked had it been him I saw. He denied any association with a library but my mistake was simply a way for my unconscious to get me talking to him and he was subsequently most forthcoming. We liked each other.
Having arrived at the fish counter in order to speak to him, I found I didn’t know what to say. All that was coming to mind was the controversy over a word I’d used in notes to the book being published which editor and publisher didn’t want used, so I launched into that, using the word a lot. He didn’t seem to mind.
Another time we were exchanging phatic conversation about our weekends when he admitted actually there had been an event during his and I admitted the like of mine, going back to propose we exchange events. His was sex with his Portuguese girlfriend, mine with John. We knew where we stood. What I don’t know and of course what interests me is why we are interested in each other, or rather why my unconscious wants me to be interested in him since apart from his forthcomingness he seems quite normal.
Although Thomas was talking to me, keeping his body facing, he addressed his remarks to a girl colleague over his right shoulder until, not willing to wait upon him, I walked off and got entangled up with another acquaintance.
I didn’t recognise him coming towards me but that I thought him gorgeous I was able to pin down to before I recognised him, as I then did from the passing smile of someone I must know and the explanation he was in a hurry to start work. That, by the way, was another device of my unconscious to make me aware objectively how beautiful Thomas was if small. The girl liked his eyes. I agreed and said he looked gorgeous but that she wasn’t to tell him; I would. I did. “You looked gorgeous,” I said, “in mufti.” He blushed, “I thought you liked a man in uniform.” “Not a Waitrose one.” He giggled.
But next time of seeing I was repelled by him, something to do with embarrassment at saying he was gorgeous, not so much that I said it but that I had in front of the girl. I wasn’t embarrassed at having said it. Why would I be? If the alternative was to be clandestine, I wasn’t interested. The embarrassment and repulsion I was feeling were his at me, I concluded, though some would be mine at his. Whatever, it was increasingly difficult to get to the counter. I heard, or it might’ve been spiritually conveyed along with his feeling I was picking up, his words to her, ‘You serve him.’ Fortunately there was nothing I wanted at the counter and I could wave his accomplice onto a convenient other customer and hive off. I couldn’t look at him. I deduce: nor could he.
I thought I’d have to broach this with him but, when it came to the bit, simply ignored him, returning to ignore him again, therefore pointedly.
We’re fine again. He’s twenty, belatedly doing A-levels, having wasted his time at school on rugby. I’ve remembered what first attracted me to Thomas, his hairy arms.
Yvann is twenty-two and my downstairs neighbour. Drunk and drugged he came up to borrow £40. I beat him down to twenty. He pays back. Last time he was worried I wasn’t in for him to pay me back until I told him he’d already done so. He insisted I drink from his bottle and take a drag from his spliff which predictably made me cough my lungs out indefinitely. He was boisterous in his expression of affection and I didn’t like it, however much it might be acceptable to his friends and girlfriend. I was to forget her. There was a moment I was worried he was going to use physical force to make me do what he wanted. ‘So soon after the last time,’ I meant the assailant, ‘people are not going to believe it wasn’t…’ and I couldn’t remember how the thought ended but something like ‘down to me’, not an expression I would readily use. It may be that, as with the assailant, it was a thought in two heads. At any rate, Yvann left instead and found he’d locked himself out but that’s anmother story. There was no point referring to the near-rape next day because he would be unconscious at the time and have no recollection of it sober.