Gertrude was not really my type of girl. She was dressed in a purple overall and had short brown hair. She looked like the stereotype of a lesbian girl. So it was very surprising to see her standing in front of my door on this Sunday afternoon. She said that we agreed to meet. I thought very hard but it only brought back the terrible headache that started my day. My own fault of course, I had no clue when I had come home that night. But I was a gentleman and of course. I let her in and lead her upstairs to my apartment.
She sat herself on the couch and I offered her coffee or tea. Like I expected she wanted tea, so I made coffee and tea and sat myself next to her. She wasn’t about small talk, started to kiss me immediately and I was glad that I had brushed my teeth. Before I could say something in between the kisses, her hand was in my fly. I fumbled with some of the buttons on her overall and I knew it looked very clumsy and inexperienced. But I never had girlfriends with clothes like this.
She got impatient and with only two buttons loose was able to undress. There was no underwear, she probably had plans with me all along and there was nothing wrong with her body.
The five steps to my bed were made in no time. She proved to be very greedy and was able to find ways to get me going over and over again. I almost fainted the last time she forced me to come.
It was 5 AM and I had to get up 6:30 and I begged her to let me have some sleep. While I collapsed I could feel she was doing things to me again.
I still don’t know how I managed to get up that Monday morning, but I did. I got picked up by colleagues at the normal time. In the office it felt like I had been dreaming all of this. The soreness proved to me all had been real.
When I came home she was waiting in front of my door. She had bought groceries and insisted to make me a decent meal to keep me strong. But first she said I had to lose the tension of work. So we sat on the couch and she did incredible things to me with her mouth. While I still was grasping for air she called me to have my dinner. She even did the dishes for me and on my question if she wanted to go to some place nice, she just pulled me to the bed.
Later I tried to have some sort of conversation with her, I hardly knew anything about her. She told me some things that I just could listen to in disbelief. She told me she had been in an institution for a few years because she had a tendency for self mutilation. (I did not see any scar on her.) And she had been living in a squat house for some months and had been raped by three squatters. She even told me their names (I knew them all three, two of them were homosexuals.) And she was a lesbian, her girlfriend lived in a city nearby.
My parents visited one evening and she sort of scared them away with some weird stories. Within an hour they were gone with blood red faces and it was not because of the heat.
She started to call me in the office, demanding me to come home early. She threatened to cut herself if I didn’t hurry. The lovemaking made me lose weight and almost ill. People at the office were worried because I looked awful. I couldn’t see any friends, when someone was at the door she would open the window and shout that we were busy. And yes, she didn’t lie about that.
At a certain moment she told me a new unbelievable story. I didn’t even listen any more and I realized this all was no basis for a normal relationship. I never really trusted her, so I never had given her the key for the front door. I told her this and dried her tears. I suggested that she could have loads of other boyfriends. She denied this: she was a lesbian and the only male she loved was me. I did like her, she said and she would force me to get to love her. She would visit me as a friend till then.
The routine stayed almost the same after this and I started to make excuses to be out of the way. She started to stay away days in a row and then suddenly would reappear again.
When I came home one Friday after work she was waiting in front of my door again after I didn’t see her for almost a week. I suggested to have a meal outdoors because the weekend had started and she agreed. We enjoyed Mexican food and went afterwards to the bar next door.
She gave me a little kiss to thank me for her drink and there were more to follow. It looked like she was showing the world I was hers. I was trying to have a normal talk but she just kept staring in my eyes. All of a sudden a girl I never saw before, showed up. She had long blond hair, green almond eyes and very full lips, a dream girl. According to her we were not very social. I asked what she meant and she said she wanted to be part in our kissing. She felt left out. I thought this was a bit weird, but Gertrude already kissed her full on the lips. So they wanted triangle kissing, I thought. When the girl came with her lips close to mine, I didn’t want to be childish and accepted her kiss.
When I got new drinks some guys asked me to leave or stop this disgusting behavior. I told the girls what they told me and Gertrude gave them the middle finger. The kissing went on until Gertrude saw a woman walking in the bar. This was Jeanne and she needed a talk with her. So she went, but not the kissing. The almond eyes were almost glued to mine and I felt her tongue exploring my mouth. She was really breathtaking and I felt like falling from the world.
Jeanne woke me from my trance, she warned me that my girlfriend was drinking very heavy now. She almost drank half a bottle of gin already. I told Jeanne that Gertrude was a big girl and that she wasn’t even my girlfriend. I could swear I saw disappointment in the almond eyes.
Not much later I was called over by the barkeeper. Gertrude had gone sick and they had pushed her out of the door. Maybe I could better check on her. Jeanne was gone and I did feel responsible after all. So I asked the man to order a taxi. I would take Gertrude home. The girl with the almond eyes said she would wait for me.
I found Gertrude on the pavement, making choking sounds. She pushed a finger in her throat and splashed right in front of me.
The taxi driver told me there would be no vomiting in his car. I assured him she was okay now and we drove away. She managed to give him her address. It was in the outskirts of the city. The taxi driver stepped on the gas for sure. He probably was afraid for odours in his car and wanted to get rid of us as soon as possible. But all went okay. I paid and told him to wait for me.
Gertrude could not find her keys and emptied her pockets in front of the door. The taxi went away.
Finally she found the keys and opened the front door. “Shhh, my parents are asleep!” she said and started to climb the stairs. She fell down and I was lucky to catch her and even managed to get her in her bedroom. I decided that I should remove the blouse that she was wearing, to prevent that she would strangle herself in her sleep. She had her eyes closed and I loosened the buttons on top. But her arms came around me and she forced her body up and said she wanted a kiss. The smell of vomit and cheap liquor came very near and I shivered. I wrestled myself free and told her to sleep, we would talk later.
I rushed downstairs and closed the front door silently behind me. On the street I saw that the whole neighborhood had gone to bed. I should have phoned a taxi in the house of Gertrude. It was too late now, so I had to walk back over to the bar. It was not my lucky night, I thought. The girl with almond eyes would have left for sure. Maybe I would never see her again.
But she still was there! We kissed again and she got her bicycle. She insisted to have me on the luggage carrier. Her apartment was near, so we went over there. It was in a sort of mansion and there were lots of bicycles in what used to be a garden. Her apartment was on the first floor.
Her big bed took most of the room and she was nude and in it before I could look around me. I asked her her name, she never had mentioned it and I didn’t want to make love with a girl of whom I didn’t even knew the name. She just told me to speed up a little, she was waiting.
When I undressed I saw I still had vomit on my shoes, but I couldn’t care less.
“Alice”, she said when I entered her.
After a very sweaty session of lovemaking we were just lying there and trying to recapture our breath. When Alice found it, she wiped away her blonde hair from her face, looked at me and said: “I came for something else, I wanted to invite you to my birthday party. It would have been very rude to have refused, so the next day I was sitting next to her while she was planning the celebration. It was meant to be in her apartment and she was making a list of guests that was growing and growing. I questioned the availability of enough room for all these people, but she simply answered that there always was a certain amount of people that would not show up. Still I did wonder how more than fifty people could be squeezed in her tiny apartment.
In my case an invitation meant I was to do part of the shopping. So the celebration day was quite heavy on me. She wanted to be certain that there would be enough drinks and food, so I kept dragging crates of beer along the endless looking stairs. After getting some bags with stronger liquor and wine upstairs I went to my own place to have a shower and dress for the party. I had chosen to wear my normal jeans, matching jacket and a white shirt.
Alice had asked me to be early: I might have to help preparing snacks for the guests. So when I re-entered her apartment, she was still on her own. While we were having coffee, a bearded guy came at the door. I had never seen him before, I thought. From the talk he had with Alice I understood that he had helped her move to this place. He settled for tea and sat down next to me while Alice changed. He looked familiar after all, his name was Herbert and he had been in the same class in high school with me for one year.
I got bored by his stories about the dance group he was in. Traditional dances were not my cup of tea. His moaning about his back was not interesting either. So I was very relieved when Alice showed up again. She looked gorgeous in her Indian gown, I had never seen this one before. She kissed me on my mouth and sat next to me and showed interest to Herbert. He almost grew with the attention.
next to my girlfriend on the spot I just left. After giving her a wine I settled with a beer on a chair and looked at the scene. Both girls were very interested in the troubles of my former classmate. His stories became more and more painful.
Alice had gone to the kitchen to prepare a little bite; Herbert was now suffering in silence. It was like his mind had left the building while he sipped his third tea. Carol came to me with a new beer and bent over to give it to me. I already knew she was not wearing a bra. She sat down on the armrest of my chair and sipped from her wine. She wiped away something from my legs, dust maybe and her hand just stayed there. Before my unrest got too big, Alice called for help from the kitchen. I wanted to get up, but Carol pushed me down and went instead of me.
I tried to get Herbert back to earth because I really got bored. I sat next to him on the sofa and I heard some more stories about his dancing. He was even an instructor, how interesting! The girls came back with stuffed eggs and we ate in silence for some time. Carol asked if she should make some phone calls. Maybe the friends had forgotten, we knew where they would be at this time of night. But Alice was still convinced they all would show up within the hour.
We all sat down with a drink and discussed how the world was run, friendships and a lot more. Carol wanted to know what we thought about living together with a loved one. Herbert assured us he needed his privacy and his individuality, he could never live with anyone. Carol thought she would love to be with her boyfriend and enjoy each-others company as much as possible. Alice said she would never like to share her things and have someone around her all the time. I myself had never been thinking about this theme and told them this.
Herbert drank a beer and after that decided to go. His back was killing him. Alice brought him to the door and they said goodbye over there quite a long time. Carol had taken his place immediately and I felt her warmth through my jeans. She reached for her drink and showed me her belly button and a lot more. Alice came back into the room, gave the music more volume and wanted to sit on the other side of me. The neighbours downstairs started to bump on their ceiling immediately. So she uttered some really rude words and put the volume down again.
After another beer I said, I decided to go home. I was very sorry for Alice, but sometimes parties never really start. I made a lame excuse about my parents that needed some help the next day. Alice understood and Carol asked me if I could bring her home on my bike. Alice pleaded her to stay and spend the night at her place. She had some real good stuff, she said. That was a bit late for me; I decided to stick to my story. Carol decided to stay.
Whistling I rode to my favourite bar, maybe I could still find some friends over there.
It had been a lovely evening in the bar with all of our friends. Not only did we all drink quite a lot, we had enjoyed some nice snacks too. There’s no need for an excuse to have a good time. But it was too bad that it showed on the bill. The last round was announced, so I got it together with Alice’s wine and my beer. I had to swallow a bit and it showed. Alice started to think out loud.
She said that we were not very smart keeping on two apartments where we easily could share one.
I thought that she didn’t want to live together with someone else, she had told everybody about this so many times. But now she was convinced we could do it. I had my doubts, but she made a calculation and it sounded a lot that we could save in one year. I would live in her apartment, she would pay the rent and I would pay for groceries and such.
Within weeks we organised this, I found a new renter for my old place and that person wanted to take over almost all my furniture and such. Everything that I took along fitted in one car, my record collection took up the most space. Alice had made room for this, she was more than happy with this. For my clothes she had reserved a corner in her closet and I needed not much more. She showed me her happiness and we spent the whole next weekend in bed, surrounded with nice snacks.
Things looked very fine and we had some nice weeks. But it was hard for me: unlike her I had to get up in the morning and go to work. So I was forced to leave parties before she wanted to go, not going to the bar that late during the working week and waking her up because I had to get up. More and more I would come home to an empty house. Even the nice welcome home letters were not to be found any more. I would spend evenings on my own and she would come home in a taxi in the small hours of the morning.
But when we were together things were fine. We would cuddle up and even during the week we would end up in making love for hours accompanied by a nice bottle of wine. I would have trouble getting up in time, but somehow I always managed to do it. It helped a bit that I sometimes would go to sleep on my own right after a lonely meal. It made it possible for me to sometimes get up again and have a drink with Alice and sometimes with people that she would bring home for a nightcap.
One evening she came in very late and I doubted for some moments to get up again. She took Carol along this time. I didn’t feel like dressing again, so I stayed in bed and tried to sleep on. But she put some music on and quite loud. In her apartment there were no doors, so I could hear everything loud and clear. The way they were talking I could hear they had already drunk quite a few. But they still seemed to be thirsty. I could hear Alice getting a bottle of wine and glasses. She was searching in drawers for the corkscrew and cursed a bit because it wasn’t there.
“It must be in the bedroom!”, I heard her say. “I will get it!”, Carol said and she showed up next to my bed. I drew the sheets to my chin, felt a bit uncomfortable being nude under them. She found the corkscrew and came to me. She bent over me and I thought she was going to kiss my forehead or cheek. But she planted her lips full on mine and gave me a wink. Then she was gone.
“He’s asleep”, she said and she turned the volume of the music down. Even the talking was not as loud any more.
I felt restless and it took quite some time before I really fell asleep.
To celebrate her passing the exams Alice and her friend Carol thought it would be nice to make a little trip. Alice had got an advance on her income support and Carol’s parents gave her some money for consolation for her lost year. Carol thought it would be nice to take her boyfriend Bob along and I planned a nice goal for a little trip.
Because I couldn’t get days off from my job, it should be something not too far away. It should be a trip for a weekend. Oostende in Belgium is not that far. So I booked two rooms in a hotel with a nice view on the North Sea at the Sea Boulevard.
We left on the first train Saturday morning. During the ride Alice was very sweet and we kissed a lot and held hands. She promised me the best night of my life. Bob was studying in Amsterdam, he was a blond guy and quite athletic built. Carol and Bob were a very joyful couple. There was a lot of romp and sometimes she really hit him with her plastered leg. She used her long black hair to give him a fake moustache and we all had a good laugh. Even the manager of the train had fun because of them and made a few extra holes in Carol’s train ticket when he came making his round.
The rooms were adjoining with a door between them on the fourth floor. They proved to be twin rooms with the promised view on the North Sea. We settled and went downstairs, with the ball Bob had taken along in his suitcase. Next to the hotel was a restaurant/bar in which we ordered tea. Bob had taken some more along, he crumbled in each cup a little hashish. I already didn’t like tea but this made it almost a bitter pill to swallow.
There was most of the afternoon left for a nice walk on the beach while playing the ball. Taking it along was a brilliant idea, end of May it’s not really possible to lay down on the beach and over there you can’t go into sea anyway. It should be dangerous because of currents, but I suspect that the city empties the sewers right over there.
We had fun with childish games and just kicking the ball as far as possible. When Bob kicked it real hard at a certain moment, the wind got under it and it plunged into the sea. Disappointed we saw it moving towards England.
Hunger made us forget this feeling and we walked back in the direction of the hotel till we saw a nice restaurant. Over there Carol, Bob and I ordered a cheese fondue and Alice mussels. It was quite good and we had a nice wine with it.
I remembered a very typical Belgium bar and we went over there. Every table had a tablecloth, there is always an old musician playing standard songs on a keyboard and they have an excellent choice of beers. We sang along with the old fashioned songs and even started to dance on “Dance in the old fashioned way”.
Alice told me after some time that she felt sick. Her face had turned very pale and so I asked her if she rather would go to the hotel. She did, Carol and Bob wanted to stay.
We just made it to our room when she ran towards the toilet. She threw everything out and I felt really sorry. There probably had been a wrong mussel in her dinner. After she was done I helped her to the bed. She fell on it like she was half dead and I didn’t want to bother her with undressing. I draped a blanket over her, so she wouldn’t get cold. She was already asleep.
While busy with this, Carol and Bob tiptoed in our room and asked how she was. I didn’t really have to answer that. They told me they were sweaty and needed a bath. I locked the door behind them and decided to go to bed. Before I stepped in, I wanted to plant a little kiss on my poor love.
The smell that came out of her mouth made me shy away.
I was in bed and listened to the sounds coming from the adjoining room. I could hear the water of the bath running and their laughter. The bath was obviously filled very quick. I could even hear them going in and very soon other sounds. They were making love in the bath and her plastered leg was banging against the wall of the bath. I started to wonder how they managed all this without getting Carol’s plastered leg getting wet. I tried to get this out of my mind and to sleep but this was impossible. She was very loud and even screamed. I studied the ceiling even without being able to see it.
I must have been sleeping after all, because I woke up in the room on my own. The door to the other room was open. They were probably having breakfast.
I took a quick shower and went to the dining room. Alice’s face was almost grey and she was drinking coffee without anything else. Carol and Bob had sandwiches overloaded with scrambled eggs. That looked nice and I got a plate like theirs first. After this was safe on our table, I went for coffee. I felt like needing loads. Carol came after me with her empty cup. When I tapped my coffee, she whispered something. I looked questioningly and she repeated: “When Bob made love to me, I imagined it was you. It never felt that good!” I grinned sheepishly and almost ran away from her with my coffee.
On the train ride back the girls were sleeping on the shoulders of the men. We too were quiet and I sometimes even doze away. The sight through the windows is not always very inspiring.
I had taken the Monday afternoon off from my job to celebrate. Alice had invited me to join her and her classmates and partners to have a good one, or more, on their passing their exams. Some of them already had jobs waiting on them.
I entered the café at the moment that everybody was congratulating each other. There was a lot of kissing and embracing for the successful candidates. And I had my share.
Carol, the best friend of Alice, exclaimed that she wanted an embrace too, even now she had failed to pass the exams. She was a gorgeous girl with raven black hair. And we all knew she had no chance to pass because of the skiing accident that forced her to miss classes a few months. She still had plaster on one leg, but she was very fast on her crutches.
I took her in my arms and I could feel she was pressing her body to mine. Her mouth was in my hair and I thought she was crying. I was very wrong, she whispered in my ear: “If you ever need variety, come to me.” I was flabbergasted and it even seemed not to have happened at all, because the next moment she was already making a sort of Indian rain dance with one of the other girls.
We all had our drinks and made some toasts. After emptying her glass Alice told me she had to go to the city hall. Her study allowance had stopped, she didn’t have a job yet and was going to try to get income support. Carol went along to give her mental support.
When Alice came back a few hours later, only the real party people were still with me. She came in like a football player that has scored a goal. Everybody wanted to know about the results. Normally the city would force you to take a job, even when it’s not in the line of education.
She explained that she had made a big scene, had been crying a lot. She told the person who handled her case that she felt shattered because of her youth. She had been neglected as an infant, been placed in a foster home and the foster father had abused her. Recently it all had come back to her, so she felt inert and not able to function in whatever manner. It had been a miracle that she had passed her exams despite of the mental problems.
volunteers to help her moving to the new place in the next days. I had to go a bit later and Alice invited me to come over to her new address the next Friday.
And so I did, I even managed to go over there early in the afternoon. The flat appeared to be on the top of the building and there was no elevator. But she had managed to make it quite nice. There was a living room, a little kitchen and a room meant for storage. The ceiling in there was very low and I had to bend a bit to enter. In here she had created her bedroom, the mattress on the floor was very convenient.
She made coffee and I congratulated her again. Now she had everything she wanted. But Alice broke down and was in tears. I was very much surprised. Were these tears from joy?
Finally she told me she felt threatened. A man she considered to be a good friend wanted to get a loan back before Monday. She didn’t have the money, this would take some time with her low income. And she was very afraid he would cause problems.
I heard myself offering to help her, wanted to know what the amount of money was that she needed. She assured me she could not ask this from me. It would take a long time before she could give it back. But I insisted and she told me she needed three thousand immediately for this man. We raced to the bank and I managed to send the money from my account to his by telephone. They charged me extra for this.
When we came back in the flat, Alice started crying again. I kissed her tears away and we became very passionate. She wanted to give me a thousand kisses! She tore herself from my arms and asked me to wait a few seconds and disappeared in the bedroom.
Totally nude she came back and threw herself in my arms again. We didn’t make it to thousand but went to the bedroom instead. It was lighted with a few candles and I got on the mattress having hit my head only once. Almost fully dressed I made love to her.
I felt like I had exploded afterwards and she gently undressed me. That weekend we stayed on that mattress. Lovemaking and sleeping were the only things that interested us. In between she went to the little kitchen to spoil me with nice snacks and wine.
The next Friday there was a party organised by some of the people I had seen on the day we started to celebrate. We had another round of congratulating, but there were some other people I hadn’t met before. A man and a woman who were a bit older came over and kissed Alice on her cheeks. They seemed quite nice and when they were introduced I immediately recognised the name. This was the man that made my love so afraid!
We had a little talk while she went over to some other people. They told me that Alice was very special to them. They asked me to take good care of her. She was very vulnerable according to them.
When we got in my apartment for the night, I asked Alice about them. He didn’t look scary to me at all, I told her. She said: “You’re so naïve and you’re lacking any knowledge of characters of people. Can’t you look through the façade?”
I got fed up with being showed as a sort of trophy after some time and convinced Alice it would be better to give each other some breathing space. We had enjoyed a very wild first week in which we hardly left the bedroom. But telephone calls and sudden visits by friends had brought us back into the real world. We had paid everybody a visit that needed one, and did go to the parties we were invited to. But this resulted in something I didn’t like. It felt like she would nail my head on a nice plate, a deer head to be admired for the antlers and the skill of the hunter. And as a contrast I did feel the silent rejection of Alice by my family and friends. I didn’t always care for her relations and she didn’t like mine. But we struggled to do what was expected of us. A sort of exhaustion took possession of my mind and her enthusiasm had faded too. Very eagerly she agreed with my proposition to stay away from each other for two weeks.
I tried to restore the relations with my friends, told my family about how wonderful Alice was and resumed writing the novel the whole world was waiting for. The first goal went well, it resulted in spending almost every night in bars in Amsterdam, but the last goal disappeared beyond the horizon. I had a great time, but withstood every temptation my friends offered me. I really didn’t know they knew so many nice girls! The two weeks were gone in almost a flash.
When Alice entered my apartment I immediately noticed the ridiculous scarf she wore around her neck. The colour and pattern were a total mismatch with the rest she was wearing. I couldn’t help making a remark about it. Reluctantly she took it off and tried to rearrange her hair to hide something. It was too big and striking! A huge love-bite showed on her white skin.
She struggled to try and convince me that this thing had no meaning at all. She had been at a party with Curtis and John and they had played a game. This was not exactly giving an innocent image to me. I had known Curtis for some years. He was a very sweet talking Irish guy who had told me himself that he could get every girl in his bed. And I had heard enough to believe him. Alice made the picture complete when she told me there had been three people at this party.
There was no time to start a fight over this as we were expected at yet another party. Sulking I went along, not spending more words. Alice had put one of my scarves around her neck and it really suited her; there would be no questions at the party. She did her utmost to show that we were a couple, but as soon as I saw that there were friends of mine on this party I left her with her best friend. Vernon, Cathy and Marianne were there. Till then I had thought Vernon was with Marianne, but it showed now he was with Cathy. They were holding hands most of the time.
I always had liked Marianne like a friend would do, but after a few beers she seemed more and more attractive. She was quite a tall girl, not slim with a very sweet face, brown hair and big brown eyes. It was very disappointing to hear that she would leave next week. She had agreed to work for Doctors without Borders for two years in Niger in Africa. We talked on and on and more and more, and we came to the conclusion that we had missed the boat. Nothing to do about it, we both knew that waiting for each other would be hopeless. In two years a lot can happen and by the way I was with Alice. Marianne knew already and she said we were a mismatch. I told her about what was under the scarf and that we would have a talk about this later.
After a few more beers I only saw these brown eyes. I told Marianne I had always wondered how it would feel to kiss her. “I wouldn’t stop you now”, she said. I took her in my arms and kissed the cherry brandy from her lips. I felt my knees go wobbly and a hand on my shoulder. Alice wanted to go home. On the way back home her tears mingled with the heavy rain. She assured me she had never felt so humiliated in her life. And I told her that this might come close to what I felt.
That night we went our separate ways. It took one common friend and two nights of talking to get together again.
When I opened the door I never expected to see Alice standing in front of it. Immediately she took hold of me and gave me a big kiss that made me stagger on my feet. “I missed you!” she said and pushed me inside while kissing me again. My words got lost.
I managed to lock the door while she got my fly undone. She still knew her way and that included the way to the bedroom.
While I was still searching for my breath, she started to speak already. She needed a favour, not to my surprise. She was going to visit her biological mother in Amsterdam and really, really needed some moral support. She hadn’t seen her for some 18 years.
I remembered the stories I had heard from others about her. It was a sad story about being neglected , being sent to children’s homes and foster parents. And even about abuse by them who should be trusted. What else could I do than agree. So we made an appointment for the next Saturday.
So when she rang my doorbell again, I was ready for her. This time I only got a little peck on my cheek. I expected her to be nervous. She had a bicycle to get to the station. Just nicked it, so she told me.
Her silence during the train ride was not surprising. It didn’t surprise me either that I had been paying the tickets. We got off on a small Amsterdam station and walked from there to the house of her mother.
The lost daughter was welcomed with open arms in her small filthy house. It was amazing how many children were in the house. Some were neighbour kids, but still there must have been eight or nine who lived there. I was introduced as A friend and Alice looked at me to see if her message came through. I tried to look back at her with a complete blank face.
She had talks with most of the people in the house. An older man came in, must have been her stepfather; he went very soon again, was going to his work.
I talked a bit to the oldest boy about football, cars and pop music. Once in a while one of the others said something.
It must have been one or two hours later when Alice said loudly that it was high time we went, there were other appointments. So we said our goodbyes and the whole gang waved at us from their doorstep. “Bye, bye”, I said, “see you later!”
During the walk back to the station she was very silent again, I tried in vain to start a conversation.
Our train came immediately and we got on. While we were getting seated she did start to talk.
“What was that show about?”, she asked on a sharp tone. I didn’t understand, looked at her in amazement. “See you later!”, she imitated me. “I probably will never go back and CERTAINLY not with you!”
I didn’t react, picked up a newspaper from the luggage rack and pretended to read it. Behind the paper I heard her starting to sniff and a moment later starting to cry. I didn’t move a muscle, not even when I heard her packing her handbag and walking away. I put away the newspaper and looked out of the window while thinking things over.
In my home town I didn’t see her on the station, was not especially looking for her very much. I decided to walk home and not to take a bus. After a while I saw her passing by on the bike on the other side of the street. On a corner she tried to look through the windows of a bar while going on.
She had quite a pace and soon she was gone, out of my sight.
I decided not to pass the bar. I had a filthy taste in my mouth and I wanted to get rid of it.
The way my bank account became emptier by the day was very disturbing for me. I started to work out how we were doing with the money. Alice was still paying the rent, but the groceries had changed in costs of outdoor meals and taxi rides. And I was paying for this. It was clear that much more money was going out than coming in. So I made it clear that something should change.
Immediately Alice had a bright idea: I could do less filling on the sandwiches I took along to my work. This made me furious and she disappeared very soon. When she came back at 3AM she woke me up and said that we needed a talk. I became angry again and demanded this talk the next day.
We went to sleep and the next morning I dragged myself out of bed and went to work anyway. Alice was very much asleep, so I just left her where she was. The day in the office was endless, but finally I could go to what I still considered as home. I came in completely worked up, this trouble was not easy to get out of. I was ready for a hearty talk. But the apartment was empty. There was a note: “I’m at a friend’s house, I’ll call you”.
I found a deep freeze pizza and ate this in silence while my mind sped around in circles. What was this all about? She did phone me. Said she had a long talk with friends and knew now what to do. She felt really awful by the way I treated her. Before I could tell her I was exploding with my anger, she told me she would stay away from me at her friend’s home. She planned to write a letter to me to explain things. I was speechless and I listened to the tones from the phone for minutes after she had hung up on me.
After two days there came a letter. She wrote that she was fed up with me. Not only was I mean with money, I also wasn’t faithful. She stated that I was after Carol. Carol even told her this. I was a lousy kisser, a lousy lover and I tasted awful. She was going to France for three weeks, to her friends Jean and Marie. They cared about her a lot, they would even sleep in one bed together.
Jean was such a lovely friend. She reckoned that I would be gone out of her apartment before she would be back. The sight of me would make her vomit.
I decided not to react at all and started a search for a new place to live in. I found a lovely old house in the inner city. With a lot of difficulties I bought this place. I had to spend every last penny that I had. With pain in my heart I thought of the money I could have used but that was spent on taxis and drinks on this dreadful girl and her friends. I hated them all!
A friend helped me getting the few goods I had to my new house. My furniture existed of a mattress. Next to that I had my record collection, my audio installation, a few plates and knives and forks. Because water and such was not available, I had cleaned the place with water from the toilet.
In the next days I got second hand furniture from friends and colleagues. Slowly it became a worthy place to live in.
I got a letter from France, I never gave my new address to her but it found its way to my doormat anyway. Someone must have brought it to me. It was a lot of moaning about me and praising the wonderful Marie and Jean. They suggested to her that she should ask rent of me… I wrote a last letter back to her in which I declared her insane. If I ever had thoughts that things would become okay again, I could forget this for sure!
Reopening a Closed Book
My life had changed quite a bit. I had to be very economical with my salary. Bit by bit I paid off debts and bought some furniture to make the house a bit liveable. I hardly went outdoors but going to my work. I had some real friends who understood this. Sometimes my doorbell would ring and I would find crates of beer or bags full of wine in front of my door. My visitors brought their own drinks.
I had to travel by train to my work. I started to go to and from the station on my bicycle, but after a few weeks it was clear that someone else needed my bike more than I did. Sometimes bikes pop up after being stolen, but not in this case. So now I had to walk, there was no money for a new or a second hand one.
Normally it wasn’t so bad to have this walk for almost half an hour. But sometimes the rain would pour down heavily. Halfway my walk was a little bar and I sometimes went in to wait the worst of the rainfall to stop. I would drink one or two beers in silence. I didn’t know anybody over there and wasn’t really tempted to try to meet new friends.
One day I sat at the bar, the door opened and I saw every man turning around to the door and follow that person with their eyes. The person walked right up to me. I didn’t turn around, was sure it would be some girl.
She said: “It’s really you! I looked through the window and thought it was you!”
It was Carol. Even dressed in a raincoat she looked smashing. She took it off, kissed me on both cheeks and came sitting next to me. She looked even nicer in her tight jeans and sweater.
I checked my money and saw that I could offer her one drink. She refused and ordered a drink for her and me herself. She started to tell me what she thought I should know.
She broke up with Bob and lived with her parents again. Her study was going all right.
Alice now was living with William. I knew him: he could have been my twin brother. I felt the urge to warn him, but immediately decided not to. Nobody had warned me for this shark either.
She told about some more friends and I listened half to her stories.
I asked her why she had told Alice that I was after her or made a pass at her. She looked at me in disbelief. She thought about this a bit longer and then said that they had been discussing the possibility. It made me wonder at first, but I couldn’t be bothered any more. It was all water under the bridge now.
Carol looked through the window and on her watch. She had to go. But first she asked a piece of paper to the barman. She wrote down her address and phone number and gave the piece of paper to me. We kissed on the cheeks again, she grabbed her coat and went outdoors. I didn’t have to check to know that every men’s eyes were on her back.
I looked at the little paper in my hand and drank the rest of my beer. When that was finished I tore up the paper in very small parts and put it in an ashtray.
A man sitting near me shouted out that this was very selfish of me. I could have given the note to him. He would have been pleased to have it.
I made a face to him and left the bar.