Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

‘The Companion’: chapter 33

I fear for Kelvin’s sanity.  The pressure and excitement at the prospect of our landing are making him behave strangely.  He is working increasingly long hours, sleeping less, and eating less.  At least I now always know where he is and what he is seeing and hearing. 

Because we spend such little time together now, I think it is very important for us to share things before we go to sleep.  I have worked out a two-course meal that is very quick to prepare and very nourishing.  The main course is carp in spicy batter with chips and peas.  The first course is a Thai-style soup with herbs, ginger and chillies and a very concentrated and flavoursome stock that Kelvin doesn’t know is made out of fish-guts.  It is really nourishing, and Kelvin likes it.  I know if he is in a good mood when he eats it, because he tells me about all the things that the undertones in the flavour remind him of, that he is looking forward to eating again when we have established the new colony.  These are moments of reprieve, but they do not stop me from worrying about Kelvin’s state of mind. 

I need to think of something to absorb his energy and, at the same time, bring us closer together.  It needs to be something completely unrelated to work.  We have been running our businesses at maximum capacity for months now, and have plenty of cash in reserve.  Kerr McLean has been talking to Kelvin about starting a bank, but I hope they will leave that until after we land.  James Holt keeps bothering him with more and more ideas for engineering projects, but those also need to wait until after we land.  The filling-in activity I have in mind needs to be something crazy but not harmful to Kelvin’s health.  Something sensual, not intellectual: something not physically or mentally arduous.  Ideally, it needs to be something that would be sustainable over several weeks, to take us right up to the landing preparations. 


My name is Lucian McGonnell.  I was in O’Mally’s last night, having a few pints of stout, and I met a very remarkable woman that I had never seen before.  She was tall.  She had long auburn hair.  Her skin was pale; her eyes grey-green.  Her eyebrows and eyelashes were dark, which made her skin look even paler.  She was wearing a long-sleeved, crimson, silk dress with lace above the bust and tassels round the hem.  It was drawn in at the waist and complemented her figure very well.  She had see-through, lacy crimson silk on her hands, but bare fingers and red nail-polish.  She had red stockings with black seams and shiny black Mary-Jane shoes with high heels.  She had a platinum pendant on a chain around her neck, which she kept playing with.  The pendant was an elongated, slender V-shape with a single diamond in the middle of it.  O’Mally’s was mostly in darkness, except for a few spotlights that moved slowly across the booths and tables.  The diamond kept catching the light and it sparkled.  I could not stop myself from gazing at it.  The woman kept giving me side-long looks as I was talking to her, and putting the chain of the pendant in her mouth.   I asked her what her name was.  She looked at me studiously, as if deciding whether to dignify my question with a reply. 

‘Elvira,’ she said, at long last.  She spoke in a really sexy voice.  Quiet and carefully-spoken, but strong in undertone.  It was the sort of voice you could never imagine nagging you or rowing with you.  It was a voice made for long phone calls and pillow-talk. 

Elvira certainly was a good listener.  She looked at me very intently, as if she was studying my every move.  She kept playing with that pendant and I was worried that her thick,  bright-red lipstick would get in among the fine links of the chain.  Every so often she opened her handbag, took out a powder compact, and studied her face in the mirror.  She flicked her hair around, and once or twice re-applied her lipstick.  It was very sexual, the way she did that.  It made you want to be the lipstick.  Most of the women I’ve known carry all kinds of stuff in their handbags: timetables, textbooks, toilet rolls, takeaways, but Elvira’s handbag was small and feminine.  It was dark green.  Viridian, I would say, and it had little gemstones on it in a lattice-work pattern, and a gold clasp.  All it seemed to contain was her make-up, a small white handkerchief, a fountain-pen and a notebook.  How I wanted my name and cabin number to be written in that notebook. 

She was with a friend, who was talking to another woman with whom I gather she did not see eye-to-eye.  The friend was a plain-looking woman who had evidently spent a lot on her wardrobe.  She had on a black trouser-suit with big buttons and gold, ‘Sergeant Pepper-style’ edging to the jacket, a Nehru collar, and a black bow in her hair.   The other woman was loud in her appearance as well as her speech.  She was wearing a two-tone magenta and midnight-blue silk cocktail dress with a great big ribbon at the back that looked like a parachute.  She had bright pink, dyed hair, and 1950s-style spectacles with pink plastic frames.  I looked at these three ladies and, being rather drunk as I was, my eyes alighted on their bust region.  I noticed that Elvira was about a ‘D’ cup, and therefore the largest among those present, followed by the magenta woman, with Elvira’s friend last.  I allowed my mind to speculate on what Elvira’s nipples might be like.  I hoped they would be prominent and cylindrical when erect, with a big circle around them, just like my dear Mother’s.  I’m sorry.  Did I say that out loud?  Anyway, I really fancied that woman.  Especially when her friend got up to go to the bar, and she had to shuffle along the seat she was sitting on, and her dress got caught up against her thigh.  I could see the imprint of her suspenders under her dress.   It made me want to trace that imprint with my fingers and my tongue, and to lift up her dress and do the same. 

Elvira truly had my heart beguiled.   I wonder when I will see her again. 



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