The crisp air assailed them as they stepped outside. Dawn had not yet appeared, and the sky was glass clear, the moon a citrus wedge in the highball of morning. He drew her closer, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. She clasped her arms about his torso, and they staggered along the streetlights like a pair of clumsy mating insects.
At the corner they paused, swaying like reeds in a breeze. She blinked heavily and looked up at him with a foggy grin. He meant to guide her on to a fence, but faltered, and they stumbled on to the grass verge. She giggled as her back hit the wrought iron bars and they kissed. Her mouth was hot with liquor and the late hour, and he pressed his body against hers diligently, until a feculent stench interrupted them.
She squirmed out from under him and tripped over to the streetlight to inspect the soles of her boots.
“It’s you,” she declared. He was holding on to the finials which topped the fence, his head slumped groggily between his shoulders. He turned to look at her. “You stepped in some dog poo,” she said.
Letting go of the fence, he rose to an uncertain vertical and said, “Show me your tits.”
“Clean your shoes,” she replied, “then maybe.” With one hand he gripped the fence to counter the vertigo as he looked down at his shoes and pulled up his right foot. Nope. He changed hands on the fence and lifted his left foot across the opposite knee, where it displayed the unwanted smear on the arch of his shoe. He let it drop and began wiping it on the damp grass beside the fence, loping about in circles as if his leg had gone to sleep. When he was confident he had finished he stepped carefully back on to the concrete path and looked blearily at her.
She wore a loose singlet beneath a black bomber jacket. A floral cotton skirt hung below; a clutch bag and calf high boots completed her ensemble. Her arms were ensconced inside her singlet, and he watched her furtive contortions as they made their escape. Like a magician pulling a ribbon from a hat, she pulled out her bra and waved it in the air theatrically.
“Come on stinky boy,” she called, “time to go home.” He regarded her with a muddied eye, trying to keep a clear head. She reminded him of the tour guide they had in the Louvre during last year’s trip to France holding up a flag for her flock to follow. Except the tour guide didn’t sway so much, and had better focus. What was she doing now, he wondered? The tour guide that is.
“I’ll make it easier for you,” she said, and reached up under her skirt. She pulled her knickers down to her knee and lifted a leg up. The heel of her boot caught on the thin material, forcing her to spin about on one foot. She squealed, and ended up with one hand and knee on the grass next her, her backside in the breeze and her foot tangled in her panties. She collapsed on to her back, laughing. He made his way over to her and smirked. His head was thick with alcohol and his gaze faltered as she attempted to smooth her skirt down.
“I’ll give you a hand,” he said and bent to grab her knickers. But as he did so his balance failed, and he lurched forward and plummeted headlong into another fence, brick this time. His head hit the brick with an earthy thud and he collapsed on to his knees. He swore, but as he picked himself up he discovered he had successfully dislodged her panties, which he used to mop the blood from his bruised forehead. She was laughing at him and battling to get up. He was upright, if unstable. Swinging her knickers above his head he announced,
“This is the Louvre, come along now, follow me.”
“This is the what?”
“The Louvre,” he said.
“Vre. Lou-vre.” He turned and danced along the pathway, holding her panties aloft and singing “Lou-vre, Lou-vre,” like he was cheering for a sports team.
“I’m in loo-vra with you too baby,” she called after him. “What are you talking about?” Finally on her feet, she clambered up to him, and leapt on to his back like a child seeking a piggy back ride. This sent them both crashing on to the nature strip. His knees hit the edge of the path and his face smashed into the grass. He spat grass and blood and dirt and coughed. She cackled and pulled him close. He went to move, but she slumped on to him, her head heavy on his shoulders. He felt her inertia on his back as he strained to get up, and the entanglement of her hips and legs as he struggled beneath her.
“Gerroff,” he murmured. His head swam darkly. Pain nipped his head and snout.
“Doan wanna”, she murmured. “S’nice.” She leaned over so her face was next to his and grinned. “I like it here.” She smelt of sweat and turf; she licked him behind his ear. Her deadweight was upon him, and he felt her smaller size relative to his. It stirred a strength in him, muddled with grog and bravura. He felt the throbbing of his head and snorted a blood clot from his nose. The cloud of alcohol helped keep real pain distant. He needed rest. He felt her chin resting sharply on his spine and her hand as it reached beneath him between grass and jeans and closed on the lump beneath his crotch. He sighed and thought of her nakedness beneath her skirt and top. He pushed up his hips to relieve the discomfort caused the ball of her fist.
“Oh goodie,” she said, and hugged him harder. He closed and opened his eyes. She kissed the nape of his neck. He arranged his arms as if to do a push up.
“Carry me home, loover boy.”
“Gotta get up first.” He levered her off him and jumped to standing, reeling in the morning air. The sudden ascent made his head spin and he almost fell again, but caught himself on the cold metal pole of a street sign. He looked at her spreadeagled on the ground, and blinked twice. She was still holding her bra; she was waving it drunkenly above her head. His eyes itched; it must have been the grass. He noticed she was holding a lump of grass and dirt in her other hand. She rose slowly, dusting herself off. His knees hurt, his scalp hurt, his head throbbed, and his hands smarted with the fall. A trickle of blood from his nostrils had coagulated around his upper lip. His face was spattered with dirt. He turned to her, and poked out his tongue. She returned the gesture as she got up, and they bumped foreheads, tongue to tongue, blowing raspberries. Saliva flitted about their faces as they laughed and sank into a succulent drunken kiss. Then he bent his shoulder to her waist and slung an arm about her hips. In one movement he lifted her up over his shoulder. She squealed.
“I’m upside down!” she said. He felt for her bare thighs under her skirt with his grubby hands, reaching up as far as he could without upsetting the balance of her weight across his shoulder. She kicked her legs. He began twirling in a wide circle.
“How’s this,” he said, “we’re spinning!” He rotated in precarious circles, his legs shaking and his vison blurred.
“Stop!” she called, “or I’ll be sick.”
He stopped and began to lean over with great concentration. At one moment it seemed like she was about to fall off, and he tossed her backwards on his shoulder like a side of beef in an abattoir.
“Just gettin’ your undies,” he said.
“Keep me covered up,” she said. Then they were off, her legs outstretched like a bowsprit on a sloop, as he cut a dogged tack across the path, her arms and torso flailing behind him. One hand was around her knees, the other firmly on a buttock. He didn’t make too great an effort to prevent her skirt from flying up and exposing her, but it was dark, and he felt a sense of abandon. Her skin felt smooth and fresh on his hands in contrast to the heat within him. He found it exciting, and it titillated him. He felt her face rock back and forwards at his butt, and her hand reached around with her bra hand to grab his belt to steady herself. She laughed and squealed again.
“What’s up?” He said. He was puffing now. His brow leaked sweat, and his damp shirt was jammed down tight with her weight. His movements were ungainly, but he was proud, and he strutted on with faltering steps. Her skin on his hand aroused him. She was his conquest and he was taking her home. She was his willing captive, and he was taking her to what she wanted. He smiled and his jeans pressed against a stirring erection.
“Your bum,” she replied.” It’s upside down.” And then he felt her teeth sink into his buttock.
He lurched forward, just managing to avoid falling. “Ow!” She nuzzled into the pit of his jeans, feeling for the pendulum of his buttocks. He was relieved to reach their terrace. He swung her upright and set her down unceremoniously on to a cement pillar at the front gate. She yelped with the touch of the cold bristly cement on her bottom.
“Get me down,” she demanded.
“Jes get m’ key,” he explained, reaching into his pocket. Then he flung her overhead again and she squawked parrot like again. He staggered up the stairs sluggishly, grunting with each step. On the porch he jiggled her unevenly as he kicked off his shoes. “Leave ‘em outside,” he explained. He fumbled the key in the lock, and swore. The door was intractable. Tiredness was seeping into his limbs, and he fought it and the door with a drowsy determination. Then it swung open, and the warmth of the hallway embraced them.
Inside the hallway he placed her upright. She wobbled unsteadily, and smiled giddily at him. She shoved the door shut and reached up to fix a greedy mouth on to his, their tongues gyrating leech-like on each other. She was hopsy and winey and festering. He returned her fervour, grabbing the back of her tousled hair to clamp her to him. It was a long and gluttonous. Their breathing was loud, it helped keep him awake, and they pressed their bodies with tight intent. He tasted her liquored saliva, the soil on her cheek from the fall. He reached beneath her skirt and grabbed her buttocks to pull her up to him. She reached for his belt buckle and undid the clasp. She struggled with the top button of his jeans, kissing him frantically between downward glances to see what she was doing. She eventually succeeded, ripped his zipper down and pulled his pants to his thighs.
Then she leant back against the opposite wall and began slowly lifting her skirt to reveal herself to him. His eyes followed the seductive rise of the flimsy cotton material, up her thighs and then higher. He looked up at her face and caught her mid yawn, her mouth agape and eyes strained.
“Oops, busted,” she said. “Come on.” She turned and flounced down the hall into the bedroom.
“Gorra take a piss,” he mumbled after her. His copycat yawn had begun and, hanging on to the wall for support, he waddled drunkenly down the hallway with his jeans at half mast, his mouth stretched open and his erection bobbing before him like loose timber on a roof rack. Up the stairs in the bathroom, the light spat in his eyes. He grimaced and glared at the mirror as he waited for his erection to reduce. He was a mess. His nose was bloodied, blood from his cut scalp scoured his forelock, his lip was distended and his face covered in dirt. His knee was grazed and angry. He smiled proudly. He lifted the toilet lid and began urinating. Some splashes bounced off the rim and smarted his graze. He chuckled and fumbled to take better aim. After, he splashed water over his face and watched the grime funnel down the lines of his face. He scrubbed his hands and tossed water on his groin ‘just to be sure’. He raked his pants off with his feet and retraced his path towards the bedroom. He closed his eyes and let his legs take him where they might. Truthfully, what he needed now was sleep.
What he got was her naked backside suspended on the bed in front of him. She lay with her face turned away from him, her skirt tossed up above her waist and her knees tucked under her. Her feet were still in her boots and overhung the edge of the bed, and in one hand she still held the clump of earth and grass she had collected earlier on. In this posture, the twin orbs of her buttocks appeared to pendulate mesmerically in his groggy and fatigued field of vision. It was all very hypnotic. He recalled a nature documentary he had seen where a moose on heat had drenched herself in a pool of her own urine, and positioned herself upwind of passing bulls. He gazed at her, and willed his faltering erection to reassert itself. He thought, ‘this is why we have two brains.’
He paused a moment as he registered a low rumble emerging from under her crouched form.
He leaned over her shoulder and looked down at her face. She was snoring.
He chuckled wryly, and resigned himself cheerfully to the fact that their night had come to an end. He reached under her legs and unzipped her boots tenderly, placing them in a neat pair at the side of the room. As he did so, she stirred fitfully and stretched her legs out before resuming her sleep. He put her skirt back across her bottom and placed a sheet over her. He went to the other side of the bedroom, drew the blinds and clambered into bed. They slept, like two shipwrecked bodies.
A shaft of daylight pierced his eyelids from beneath the blinds and a savage ring of pain stung his head. He had no desire to check the time. He looked about himself in slow movements. She lay asleep in pretty much the same position as he had left her. The rise and fall of her breathing had an even and comforting rhythm.
He decided he was awake and so swung his legs out of the bed and pushed himself to a seating position. Again the headache whipped across his forehead. He closed his eyes while it passed and steeled himself to stand. He rose with a breathy groan and stepped tentatively out of the room.
The man in the bathroom mirror was in a dreadful state. He hadn’t done a thorough job at cleaning himself up at all. His hair was still matted with blood, his knees still raw and weeping, and his face still smeared with dirt and the odd blade of grass. His eyes were bloodshot and ringed by dark shadows. He could smell his alcohol reek, combined with sweat and the dense heaviness of sleep. He showered, gingerly washing his knees and the graze on his head. He scrubbed his hair clean and his whole body, and shaved. To finish, he placed a cold flannel over his face to draw it a bit tight. Some after-shave, which stung his cuts, a comb and he felt much improved. He took a Berocca and Panadol from the bathroom cupboard. He bent over and picked up the clothes he had left there before going to sleep.
The hem of the bathrobe scraped the grazes on his knees so he fished some clean boxers and a t-shirt from the laundry pile and put them on. In the kitchen he poured a glass of water for the medicines and made a pot of tea. He drank the tea while seated at the table checking the news on his phone. It was 11.45. He figured he’d had about six hours sleep.
He made a fresh pot of tea and prepared a tray with a Berocca, two Panadol, a glass of water and a tea cup to take into the bedroom. The bedroom was hot and stuffy. He placed the tray on the table next to her and opened the blinds. She stirred.
“I’ve brought you a cup of tea and a Berocca”, he said softly.
She turned her head in his direction and grimaced. “Oh my head.” She held herself still for a moment and then asked, “What time is it?”
She stirred and a rank draught escaped from under the sheets, all alcohol, sweat and bodily grime.
“You stink,” he said. She pushed the covers off and soil and grass fell on to the floor.
“Why is there dirt and grass in our bed?”
“I’m not sure,” he replied. “How much do you remember?”
She toppled back on to the pillow. It was rank and clammy. She said, “Leaving the pub, not much after that.”
He popped the Berocca into the glass of water and watched as it fizzed in clouds of orange.
“Why are your knees so red?”
“Probably fell over.”
“How come you’re so chirpy now?”
“I’ve showered and shaved.”
“I’ve had one of these, and two of these,” he replied, handing her the dissolved orange liquid and two white tablets. She sat up, tossed the pills into her mouth and drank the glass of orange water in one go. He poured her a tea and sat on the edge of the bed.
She smiled at him. He felt a surge of happiness.
“I like you,” she said.
“I like you.”