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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life

My Girlfriend is Becoming a Bloke
by Lee Coombes ||
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My girlfriend is becoming a bloke. All she does is go to work and go down to the pub with her mates. She turns up whenever she pleases and abuses me something terrible.
      I've come to dread the sound of her feet on the stairs, her beery breath, her drunken bonhomie, the way she pushes her fat fingers into my ribs.
      If I don't respond to her advances she makes cruel jibes about my weight. She tells me I don't meet her needs - which are many and varied - and never fails to remind me that, "there are always plenty more pebbles on the beach!"
      Perhaps in reaction to her butch blokiness, I find I am cultivating the feminine side of myself: I take a pride in my appearance, I rub apple-balm moisturiser into my face on a daily basis, I leave cucumber slices over my eyes to give them that cool pellucid look, I treat myself to fresh flowers, I like to keep my flat tidy and attractive, I am sensitive to moods and atmospheres and I have difficulty dealing with conflict. I feel my girlfriend is uncaring. I cry quietly to myself most Sunday evenings ('our night').
      "Go on have a drink!" she'll shout, standing up now and swaying by the fireplace, whisky tumbler in one hand, cigar in the other.
      "You know I don't like to drink on weekdays!" I reply, watching the colour rise in her face - any refusal annoys her intensely.
      I busy myself with my sewing and wince as I hear her slam down the tumbler on the mantelpiece.
      "Damn it man! Get a life for Gods sake!" She moves across the room and crushes me in her arms.
      "You know I love you, you sexy little thing!"
      I break away from her sweaty clinch.
      "You don't mean that! I know what you're after - you've just got a one track mind!"
      "Go on you know you love it!" she pants as she sticks her huge wet tongue into my ear.
      "I've told you before I don't like it when you're drunk," I scream, trying to talk some sense into the woman, and anyway," I continue, "what were you doing at Scotties the other day?"
      She ignores me then. She changes the subject: she always does that: change the subject to light; the quality of the light: In Brazil, how she missed it, she says, "There was a certain quality to it." And she pronounces quality like 'qwaulity' with a 'w,' pulling out the 'w' and the 'a' and the 'u', slowing it down, giving it an inflexion, a cliched exotic twist that it didn't have in English English.
      I ask again: "What were you doing at Scotties?"
      She throws her long raven hair over one shoulder and smiles with that lop-sided smile of hers.
      "I was sucking him, what do you think I was doing?"
      "Were you?" I shout, beating my fists into her chest. " Is that what you were doing?"
      "What do you think?" she says, pushing me away from her, "as if I would."
      I embrace her. Her body feels limp and strangely cold, her breasts rub up against my chest. She turns to me, kisses me on the cheek and whispers in my ear:
      "You think you're the only one, don't you?"
      "What?" I shout.
      "Nothing," she says, before turning around.
      "No go on! Tell me!" I demand, standing there arms akimbo, full of righteous indignation.
      "There's nothing to tell." She turns towards the wall. She starts picking an imaginary hair from out of her eye.
      "That guy who stayed here?" I shout at her back.
      "Sergio?" she turns slightly, even her shoulders look guilty.
      "That's the one. The Italian one with the airs and graces."
      "What about him?" she snorts
      "You do him?" I ask, no illusions left now.
      "What?" She turns, wrinkles up her nose and shrugs her shoulders.
      "I'm not even going to answer that."
      "You did him!" I say flatly marching towards her.
      She re-lights her cigar. She doesn't budge. Her features, suddenly illuminated in the flash of the lighter, look older.
      "You did do him didn't you?" I demand.
      "I didn't do him!" she looks at me. She blows smoke into my face and adds: "Why would I do him?"
      Flabbergasted at her audacity, I find myself backing away and coughing. "I don't know, I don't know why you'd do him."
      "He's gay anyway!" she snaps.
      "He's got a girlfriend!" I say. "How can he be gay?"
      "They're just friends."
      "But they live together."
      "So!" she says, jabbing a finger into my solar plexus.
      "Well if he was really gay," I shout triumphantly. "why would he live with a woman?"
      "How do I know?" she snorts stubbing out her cigar in the decorative pot plant. "Ask him!"
      "I'm not asking him. I'm asking you!" I scream. "And don't stub your stinking cigars in the plants! I've told you a thousand times!"
      "Oh God!" She turns wearily and blows on her fingers. "Why are you so jealous and possessive all the time?"
      "Because you're not being straight with me!" I shout growing bolder by the minute.
      "Darlink!" she says turning to me and placing one plump curiously pale hand on my arm. "You know you're the only one."
      Carefully, I take her hand and drop it, away from me.
      "What am I?" she asks in her ridiculous foreign accent. "Radioactive or something?"
      "You're poisonous! That's what you are!" I say, turning away from her.
      "Darling!" she moves up closer to me and breathes in my ear. "My little milky baby darling."
      She licks my earlobe with her long pale tounge.
      "Tell me we won't go on forever," she says.
      "What!" I say, concerned that she may leave me before she sees the error of her ways and changes.
      "Tell me you heard what I said!" she snaps. "You know how it is, on the billiard table of life."
      I nod then. I bite my lip. Quietly I say, "It won't go on forever, if that's what you want. I promise."
      "That's what you say now," she says. "You can't go on without me."
      "We'll see," I say.
      "You got someone else better?"
      "I might have."
      "You won't get anyone better than me." She spits. "No-one as exciting as me," she says moving towards me now.
      "Yeah, yeah," I say, all Mr. Nonchalance.
      Her face crumples then.
      "Get out of my house!" she shouts. "You lay-about! You do-nothing!"
      "Hey!" I shout.
      "Hey yourself, you breeze-block! You piece of tin!"
      She was over me now, fists at the ready. I try to catch one of her arms but she beats me to it and punches me in the mouth.
      "You bastard! I'll kill you!" she screams.
      There's a struggle before I manage to get hold of her arms, but not before she bites me in the neck. There's blood and then there's pain.
      "That really hurt!" I whimper, clutching my bleeding neck.
      "Good!" she snorts.
      "It's not funny anymore!" I cry.
      "It's not meant to be funny. I'm going to kill you. I'm going to cut you first, though, and then rub salt in your wounds."
      "You're unstable!" I tell her.
      "Sure I am. I'd have to be to go out with you!"
      It was often like this at bed time.
      Finally she settles down to sleep.
      I murmer something like, "It'll all work out in the wash," and I hear her say:
      "Yeah, right baby, you're lucky I bother with you!"
      I lie back in the bed, grateful that my head could disappear into the soft pillow, and I wonder how much longer I must put up with this abuse.
      "There's plenty more where you came from," she hisses. "Don't think you're so special."
      Time moves on she sleeps....
Suddenly an inspiration hits me! I get out of bed, creep down the stairs, remove tomorrow's tiger prawns from the regrigerator and run back up to our bedroom. Careful not to wake her, I take out my sewing kit and sew a line of prawns into the hem of her dress. Taking my keys from out of her pocket and removing all her spare cash, I arrange for an urgent, early morning phone call that will force her to leave the house in five minutes time. One thing is certain -- I will have to pack my things and get out soon, before the stench of seafood becomes overpowering.
      I watch as a little silver snail-trail of saliva trickles from her mouth. Later as I regard her somnambulant form crashing around the room, a feeling almost like pity rises from my stomach.

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