Its Friday. Rent day. The worst day.
Gerald slouches on the shabby two-seater staring at the wall,
contemplating what is to come. He can hear Angie, the landlady, moving around
downstairs. His stomach lurches the inevitability of the situation makes
him queasy. He doesnt have the rent. He seldom does.
Downstairs Angie takes a dress out of her wardrobe, looks at it,
makes a face and puts it back. She repeats the ritual several times, ultimately
going back to the original one. Its a long, green acrylic number, the
type thats alive with static. She puts it on, ignoring the hole under the
left armpit concentrating on the taught material stretching across her midriff.
She caresses the bulge sighing as she does so, resigned to her expanding girth.
She sits in front of the mirror. Her cheeks are sagging, the
skin around her eyes drooping, her brow alive with wrinkles. She applies the
foundation liberally in an attempt to suffocate them. She succeeds only in
making herself look older than her 43 years. The makeup is so thick that cracks
appear as it dries.
Red lipstick next, layer upon layer. It makes a shocking
contrast to the paleness of her face. Mascara, eyeliner, some blusher and a dab
of perfume behind each ear. She looks at herself critically. Through the makeup
in the tarnished mirror, she can just about make out the woman she once was.
She squints her eyes, pouts, smiles. She drops the smile. Her skins sags once
more. She sees herself for what she is. She sighs, takes a deep breath and
heads through to the kitchen.
Gerald hasnt moved, paralysed with inertia. Theres
no avoiding the situation, he just needs to deal with it. No rent. No nothing.
His pockets are empty again. He knows what this means. But he just cant
seem to control his money. Drinking is expensive even if he sticks to the cheap
brands. He finds that he needs more and more as the years go by, as his life
offers less and less promise. He tries hard to put the rent money aside but he
often drinks himself to sleep, washes himself clean of the day, of his life.
Theres not much to wash away hes only 32 but
feels 62. The constant disappointment and unfulfilled aspirations have taken
their toll. He seldom sees more than the four walls of his room, a fact
reflected in his pale pallor, the red rings that circle his eyes, the thick
stubble on his face, the dirt under his yellowing fingernails. It costs money
to drink the way he does and more often than not he finds himself in this
situation. Friday. Fear. Rent. Resignation.
He hears the key turning in Angies door. Every step she
takes on the stairs resonates in his guts. Closer and closer. Theres a
pause when she gets to the top. It feels like five minutes but finally the
knock on the door comes. Hes been expecting it but still he jumps. He
ignores it. It comes again.
Gerald. Its Angie. Ive come for the
He can hear the rasp of countless cigarettes behind her
high-pitched voice. It sounds forced. He sits, not making a sound.
Gerald, its me, Angie. I know youre in there.
I heard you going to the toilet earlier. Come on, let me in.
He draws air into his lungs, pulls himself off the sofa and
heads towards the door. He opens it. Angie is standing there looking tired,
worn out. Her smile reveals a row of uneven, yellow teeth.
Hi Gerald. I thought you were ignoring me.
She lets out a nervous laugh.
Not at all Angie. Id just dosed off on the couch.
Come on in.
He opens the door wide letting her past him into his dingy
little room. She notices unwashed pans and plates on the kitchen counter. The
stove is thick with grease. Newspapers, beer cans and empty bottles litter the
floor. The curtains are drawn. The room smells dank. An oppressive depression
You been drinking? she asks him.
I wish. Dont got the money for it.
You want to join me in one? Angie asks producing a
bottle of gin from her handbag.
Listen Angie, Im really not in the mood for company
today. Im tired and I need some space. Its nothing personal. I just
need to be alone today.
But the bottle sings to him all the same.
The smile on Angies face vanishes. She tries not to look
hurt but her shoulders have drooped. She stands there cradling the bottle in
her hands like a precious vase. She stops to think.
Fine. No problem, she says curtly.
Her lips have thinned; her face has become pinched.
Well Ill just get the rent and go then, she
Listen, I dont have it. Ive had a bad week.
Not much call for an odd job man at the moment. Ill make it up next
He looks at the bottle. She watches him eyeing it, recognises
the hunger. A smile creeps across her face. Her shoulders rise again.
Well in that case, youll join me for a drink
Im sure, she says.
Gerald contemplates a protest but that old futile feeling
returns. Theres no point resisting. He knows the score. Knows how much he
needs that drink. The one that will steady him, ease him through the rest of
the day. He looks at Angie and knows that the bottle she holds can free him
from the rent and get him through another day.
Well are you going to get some glasses or what? she
asks with a smile.
Gerald gets them, fills them with ice. Angie pours two large
ones and they settle on the couch. They say nothing for a while. Just drinking
in the silence, staring dead ahead. Angies the first to break the quiet.
You ever get lonely up here on your own Gerald?
Weve been through this before. I like my own space
and my own company. Everybody gets lonely. Silence again.
I do, says Angie.
Yeah I know. Youve told me. Angie gives him a
stern look. Theres hurt in her eyes. He tries to hide his discomfort at
the situation, his irritation. He needs to keep his emotions in check.
Im sorry. I just a bit low at the moment.
Whats wrong? Youre a fine young man, what you
got to be down about?
I dont want to get into it Angie. Im just down
Well maybe I can help with that, she says attempting
a coquettish smile.
She pulls herself closer to him. He instinctively recoils but
remembering the situation relaxes and lets her push her thigh up against his.
He knows whats coming. He shuts his eyes waiting for her hand to creep
over his thigh. There it is. Cold, stiff and needy.
Youre wasted up here all on your own honey,
she whispers. He can feel her face drawing closer to his. He can smell the
stale cigarettes, the coffee and the gin on her breath.
Its a crime to keep yourself locked away like
this, she breathes in his ear. He feels her hand run over his crotch. Her
fingers search for his cock through the thick denim. She struggles.
Theres no response from him. He sits there, stroking the glass with his
fingers, eyes shut. He remains rigid on the couch letting her grope.
Suddenly she starts tearing at the belt and buttons of his
jeans, pulling them open violently, desperate to get at his cock.
Finally it flops out. Limp, lifeless. Small and terrified.
Awww. He needs a little attention, she says in a
baby voice. He winces.
She grasps it roughly, squeezing the head. Gerald lets out a
little gasp but otherwise remains motionless. Takes a large gulp from his
drink. She slides off the couch positioning herself between his legs. She goes
down, taking his still-limp cock in her mouth and starts working on it
furiously, desperately trying to give it some life.
Gerald opens his eyes. He watches her working on him. Notices
the beginnings of a bald patch at the crown of her head. Where theres
hair, theres dandruff. He can see the bulges of flesh around her waist
desperate to break free from the confines of the dress. Her ass seems to be
twice as wide as her shoulders. It dominates the scene. Still she works away
fruitlessly. Theres no response from his cock. Nothing.
No response. Bobbing and slurping.
Angie! he says firmly.
She stops, his wet cock flopping from her mouth, and looks up.
Whats wrong? You not enjoying it honey?
no, its great, he stutters. I just need a
drink. Can I have another?
Of course, of course. Whatever you want. She gets
up, reaches for the bottle on the table and hands it to him. He tips the bottle
almost vertically into the glass, filling it. Angie reaches down to the hem of
her dress and starts to pull it up and over her head. She reveals a stained
slip, frayed at the edges. That goes too as do the large, shapeless panties and
miss-matching bra. He looks at her sagging, lumpy form. Her bush is untamed and
spreads down to her inner thighs. Her tits are tired, sagging to the bottom of
her rib cage. The thighs are large, dimpled and broad.
You like what you see?
Gerald takes a large gulp from his glass, winces and stares into
the distance. He looks down at his cock. Its shrivelled and cold from the
Now where were we? she simpers.
She gets back down on it. Gerald closes his eyes again trying
desperately to get turned on. The sooner this is over the better. Hell be
left in peace for another week. He rakes through the wank bank in his head
trying desperately to find something that will turn him on. He can feel her
working away trying to get his cock hard. Finally he latches on to a distant
memory of porn. The images pour into his mind like a waterfall, fresh and
invigorating. He focuses intently on them. He can feel his cock start to
Thats more like it, she says through a
He concentrates on the images. He hardens. Its almost at a
respectable size now. She stops suddenly, pulling herself off, looking up at
OK lover boy. Give Angie what she needs.
Gerald drains his glass, eyes closed.
Can I get another? he asks opening his eyes.
She looks at him trying to look confident but the desperation
leaks through her eyes, betraying her.
Sure, help yourself.
He pours four fingers out of the bottle. He watches her as she
stands before him rubbing her clit. Shes trying to look sexy but her
natural awkwardness dominates her movements.
You like that, huh?
Gerald takes another swig in response. Angie starts to climb on
top of him. She pushes his rapidly-softening cock into her trying to work it
into something useful. He closes his eyes again, glass in hand, still
motionless. He lets her work herself up and down on him. He feels very little.
Either he is too small or she is too loose. He cant figure it out. He can
smell her breath again. Sour. Stale. He goes back to the film in his head. He
cant bear to touch her. The feel of her sagging flesh would shatter the
fantasy in his head. He grips his glass, caressing it with his fingers,
savouring the cool condensation that has formed on the sides.
Angie starts to moan, working faster. Despite himself, he starts
to feel something. He can feel his cock getting harder, stiffer, reacting to
her repetitive strokes. He takes another swig, the film on a loop in his head.
Angies getting closer to climax. Her breathing getting faster. Hes
getting close himself. He hates himself for it but his cock knows no different.
Finally, she comes with a screech followed by a slow rasp at the back of her
He looks up. Through the makeup he can see her face is flushed.
She looks down at him with that yellow smile.
Did you make it?
No he replies, monotone.
We need to fix that then dont we?
Honestly Angie its fine. Its OK.
Ive never left a man dissatisfied yet, she
says with mock pride.
She pulls herself off and starts to stroke his cock. She spits
in the palm of her hand, rubbing vigorously. Again Gerald takes a swig and
closes his eyes. She works her hand back and forth spouting cheap dirty talk in
an attempt to get him going. Gerald caresses the glass. He stiffens. He drains
the glass. He arches his back and empties himself into her hand. A small,
lifeless orgasm but one he knows will liberate him.
Angie gets up and wipes her hand on a dishcloth. Gerald grimaces
at this but says nothing. He watches as she puts the bra and panties, the
stained slip and the green dress back on.
Listen, about the rent
Dont worry. I know things are tough. Well sort
something out, she says with a smile.
She leans down and kisses him on the cheek.
You want me to leave you the rest of the bottle
Yeah if you dont mind Angie. That would be
Gerald gets up, puts more ice in his glass and fills it with
gin. He settles back on the couch. The same spot. He watches as she heads for
Ill see you next week OK?
Gerald raises his glass. The cool condensation runs onto his
fingers, soothing him. The gin is taking effect. He feels soft, mellow, like he
can handle things. The sharp edges have been shaved off. He even manages a
See you next week Angie. And thanks for the drink.
She looks at him. Her smile is gone. Her jowls hang heavy with
the weight of years. She looks down, pauses, looks back up.
You do like me dont you Gerald?
He looks at her with gin-drowsed eyes. He raises his glass and
winks, kisses the glass and takes another gulp. Angie forces a smile, turns and
walks out the door.
Upstairs Gerald does up his jeans, looks at the bottle of gin.
Its half empty. He thinks about what he has done for that bottle but he
loves it nonetheless. He takes it in both hands, holds it, hugs it, knowing it
means he will make it through another day.
Downstairs Angie is slumped in front of the mirror. It taunts
her, reflecting her shame, her desperation. Once upon a time she turned heads.
Now she is reduced to bribing alcoholics in return for momentary love. She
wraps her arms round herself as the uncontrollable tears make a mockery of her
makeup mask. Her body convulses with emotion.
Outside a dog barks, a siren sounds and the sun sets on another