Dominika looked lovely, in yellow, with a red cold sore on her lower lip I advised sunblock for if readily to hand . She thought I must’ve been at the Wigmore Hall before the way I talked to the floor manager. “I talk like that to everybody.” We had a glass of champagne. I gave her a clipping on the imprisoned Italian seismologists to give to David who’d unfriended me because “I pressed his buttons – not consciously deliberately,” I hastened to add but on losing a Facebook friend I looked for David so I knew that’s what I’d done. I’d thought of erasing the wording but instead added what was meant to mitigate though probably made it worse. “I play music on people they like or, more sophisticatedly, that they can’t stand.” Dominika had a frisson at the idea, “You make music with people.” I know all their stops. I told her I was emotionally disconnected. I hadn’t been in love for I didn’t know how long. She said so was her best friend, Quentin, disconnected, though he and I were different. I couldn’t pinpoint the difference.
I smiled through the first contemporary quartet’s patterned screechings. I had to keep swallowing through the second to assuage the tickle in my throat. The third, Fletch, was nothing like an arrow so I assumed fletch had something to do with paring flesh from bone. I nearly fell asleep.
She wanted red wine in the interval. I learned something about her I didn’t know. “I’ll ask him,” I said. She didn’t want me to. “Then I won’t,” I said. “It was only intellectual curiosity on my part.” I’d’ve thought she wanted to know. “You’ll ask,” she said. “I’ll have to be careful what I say to you!” a problem every friend has ever had with me who am without shame, am truthful and tell everybody everything.
The fourth quartet was probably the best.
Concert over at nine twenty-five, there was time for Dominika to lead me to Dalston before I headed home. “Where’s Dalston?” By the time we got almost there by tube and bus it was after ten and there in sight was Dalston Junction at which point in space and time I baled, “I’ve probably had enough music for the evening.”
A girl’s face was beaten up and her thighs red-scratched until I remembered Halloween. My eyes fixed on the bared back of a Roman soldier at the far end of the compartment but he got off at London Bridge.
It was eleven ten. I could’ve gone with Dominika to whatever musical event she was going on to, stayed a polite ten minutes, and still got securely home but would’ve missed what I wouldn’t’ve known I missed.
My street is a one-way narrow thoroughfare made narrower by a building site at the bottom, which pushes the buses and their winged mirrors going up it very close to the one usable pavement which is also narrow. A shop’s recycling took up half that pavement and a bus was coming up behind while two boys were coming down. I stopped before the pile, taking to the wall. On the other side the boys stopped, the inside one telling the other to let me go first. The bus mirror passed. I thanked the boy. The other turned tail after the bus, banging on it to stop for him between stops which are very far apart, there being none on Eton St for obvious reasons. His friend proceeded down. The boy fell at the bus wheel. The bus stopped. So far as I could see no part of him lay under the wheel. Before I put hands on, I asked, “Are you all right?” He took time off from his drunkenness to say he was and I left him to get up himself to continue his clamour to get on the bus. I gestured to the driver to let him on but the door wasn’t released on the boy’s pleading he wanted to go home.
I went on home. The boy was more trouble than he was worth, I thought with the driver, and though it wasn’t me who’d be taking him in, continued as if it were: he’d probably cause chaos, piss the bed and in the morning deny the night before. I hurried in though, not to miss the actual denouement, catching from my window the boy giving up and the bus moving on.