So I started seeing J a few weeks after he first drove me home that night.
The week after he'd first driven us home, I saw him among the gaggle of drivers outside the club again, but pointedly steered a protesting Mocha away from his car and into another. I mean, a fucking cab driver! It didn't bear thinking about. As our car pulled away, I saw him glance over at us and we made eye contact; that lopsided grin I remembered from the week before lurched my heart again. He broke eye contact and I saw him laughing with a couple of other Asian drivers as we turned off up past Aldgate station.
The following week, he wasn't there when I left the club alone, and then the week after, a friend offered Mocha and I a lift, so it wasn't until the fourth week, that I found myself in J's car again.
It had been a testing evening. Fucking Mocha had disappeared into the bog with Smiles, our dealer, at about eleven, and not reappeared. I later found out she'd got off with one of his friends in a cubicle and they'd left to go to some party in Marylebone while I was chatting to some ferrety bloke about Big Brother at the bar.
I left the club at chucking out time in a furious mood. It had been talent night and one of the acts, some fucking god awful noise of a tranny rock band managed to nick the one cab that was waiting. I lit a ciggy and stood there fuming, watching the dark blue of the summer night lightening into dawn over the city.
Mel and Pierre, one of the bouncers, came up the stairs behind me and started locking up. After a while, Mel came and stood next to me, lighting one of her long cigarettes.
"S'going to be a nice day today," she said. I nodded. We looked up at the pinkening sky together in silence for a while. Pierre was on his mobile talking in French to someone. He hung up then asked, "you two OK?"
We nodded. He smiled and strode off down the street. I watched his huge black frame recede into the distance.
"Well, I better be off too luv," said Mel. She parked her Mondeo round the corner, usually. But she never offered me a lift. Which is good, really, as I know that a ride with her would involve uncomfortable silences and awkward rejoinders. She lived down in Kent somewhere anyway. completely the opposite direction.
"Will you be OK?" she asked as she turned to walk off, noticing a noisy, boozed up bunch of blokes crossing the street a hundred yards up the road in the blue and orange light.
"Yeah. I'll be fine, I'll start walking and get a black cab when it comes."
She nodded and I watched her scurry off round the corner.
I took a last couple of puffs of my fag, looking up the road to make sure the drunk young men were safely gone, then started off, fumbling in my gold ho bag for my iPod and my phone. I stuck the buds in my ears and scrolled up the Klaxons album. I quickly checked my phone for any texts or voicemails but there were none.
It was only after about two hundred yards that I noticed J's car keeping pace with me, the music was so loud. I stopped the music and pulled out the earbuds. He was grinning, leaning out of the window in an open-necked burgundy shirt and mirrored aviators.
"Hi," he said.
I folded my arms across my fake chest. "Don't you know it's illegal to pick up fares in the street?" I asked, deliberately not making eye contact. Not that I could, through his shades.
"Ah," he said, "but i'm not picking up a fare." He had one of those nice rounded Asian accents. Quite posh. Pakistani, I think.
"What exactly are you doing if you're not picking up a fare then?" I rebuffed, making to move on.
He smiled that melty smile again. I saw my reflection in his glasses and hated myself for the meltyness.
"i was actually just going to ask if you wanted a lift home." He tipped his glasses down his nose and looked up at me, adding, "don't worry. I'm not going going to try anything unsavoury."
He kept glancing at me in the rearview as we drove home.
"What?" I said after a while.
"Nothing. You're very beautiful. I can't help looking. Sorry." He looked away.
We drove on in silence for a while.
"Do you mind me asking what you do apart from work at that club," he suddenly asked.
I lit a fag. "I'm an art student," i replied, winding down the window. The streets were still quite empty, the orange streetlights still lit, but not really needed any more.
"Oh really," he said. "What sort of stuff do you make?"
I looked at him in the rear view mirror. He was looking back at me. He was right. Nothing unsavoury. He seemed genuinely interested.
I shrugged. "Video art, mainly. Performance, installation too." My mobile pinged. Low battery. "Mainly video art though-"
We pulled into my street. "Sorry - I forget," he cut in," which is your house again?"
"A little bit further", I said, leaning forward, "about here is fine, by the yellow van." He pulled into the gap by the Transit van and I got out.
"Thank you," I said smiling at him as I turned and walked up the steps to my door.
I realised my heart was pounding as I fumbled for my keys. I turned and looked back. He was still sitting there in his car, the engine idling, looking at me with his lovely lopsided smile and his eyes. In the trees, birds were singing.
"Oh for fuck's sake," I muttered under my breath, rolling my eyes, as I found myself supermodelling back down the steps towards him.
I got in the passenger seat next to him and said, in a shaky voice, "if you go a little bit up the street and turn right, there's a sports ground car park. It'll be deserted now..." I touched his bare arm. "Let's go up there and park for a bit."
He nodded, looking suddenly serious, which made me regret what I was doing. Just for a moment. Then I saw his eyes again, and nose and lips and chest. And it was OK. We drove up the empty road in silence and he swung right into the car park opposite the little parade of shops. The newsagent would be opening soon. i could see lights on inside already.
He parked in the corner nearest one of the goals of the football pitch and switched off the engine.
He turned again, and just looked at me.
He wasn't about to say anything, but I said, "shut up", anyway and pushed him back with the soft palm of my hand on his chest. Then I leaned over and kissed him.
It was like his looking was like a loud voice in my head, and I had to stop the voice talking so loud. It was a good kiss. He closed his eyes, and after a while, so did I, and we kissed.
He was caressing the back of my head with one of his hands, his fingers twining in my long black hair. I slid one of my hands down his chest onto his lap, fiddling with his belt and fly, trying to unzip him while keeping his lips and his eyes locked shut.
I freed his cock and broke off the kiss, giving him one last nibble on the lower lip as I moved down, tucking my hair behind my ears, and took him in my mouth, wetting him and angling my head slowly up and down, making those yummy sounding noises that I know men like.
He was moaning too now as I looked up, his eyes tight closed, one hand clamping the back of my head, one hand gripping the handle tight above the driver side door.
It didn't take long. To be honest it wasn't the best blowjob in the world. But it was just that - a job. We needed to get it out of the way.
After I redid my lipstick, I turned to him and smiled.
"Take me home now please, J."
After that J and I started seeing each other. He'd drive over and pick me up from college sometimes. He didn't seem to mind if I was dressed up or not, which was nice. We went out to bars around Bethnal Green where he lived, or around Archway where I came from and he'd treat me the same if I looked like a scruffy gay art fag or a dolled up trash goddess. Gigs and plays, comedy and clubs in Shoreditch, art openings of course. We fucked an awful lot.
Of course he was mad.
He sold Mosque clocks from his flat just off Bethnal Green Road. He had a website and apparently he made quite a tidy sum every month from selling the funny Mosque shaped clocks he imported from Pakistan.
"I'm a lapsed Muslim," he'd say (which explained his freeness to booze), enigmatically adding that he lost his faith after reading The Day of the Triffids as a child, "but the Mosque clock is a sound business venture in this area. And the website is very secure." And that grin. He made me laugh a lot. He was a nutter. I cared for him very much, his physical beauty and his bizarre imagination and skewed outlook.
That summer I was very happy.
I saw less of Mocha and more of J, whom Mocha loathed with an unspecific and childlike hatred and jealousy.
We drove to Norfolk and watched birds. Another of his interests. Yes, I felt that strongly about him.
When he did nights, I'd fall securely asleep in his bed dressed in my most beautiful lingerie and he'd delight in coming in and waking me up in the morning with a kiss and a firm hand on my crotch. He said my cock in black lace panties was one of the finest sights he could imagine.
Of course in hindsight I realise now that I become too dependent on people. My relationships end up being clingy, not to say obsessive, and it did of course all end very badly with me and J when it all fell apart so spectacularly.
But for a few short months it was good.
Even my sleep problems abated for a while.
For the June and July that I started seeing J, I didn't have a single episode of insomnia, sleep paralysis or anything. I'd entered a state of serenity that I'd hardly experienced before, and with a minicab driver, no less.
Then towards the middle of August I had another bad episode.
J was away on a "business trip" to France. I'd been on a 48 hour gigs and clubs bender with a couple of girlfriends from college. The amount of coke and cheap vodka sloshing around my system, I guess it's no wonder that my sleep would be a little bit disturbed, but this was a humdinger. Probably the worst I'd had since the one just before I left my parents' house to come to London.
I was at home. It was probably about four in the morning when I awoke. I was lying naked in bed, having thrown off my duvet when I woke up. My eyelids were gummed together with mascara and my mouth tasted horribly and predictably awful. I reached for the pint glass of water that I always kept by my bedside.
Or rather I tried. As I realised with dread that my limbs were once again not obeying my brain's commands, I began to hear the footsteps in the landing outside.
Footsteps is perhaps the wrong word. These were more like soft, muffled thumps, as though something heavy and covered in cloth were being repeatedly dropped onto the carpeted floor of the landing from about two feet in the air.
The thumps came nearer the open door. Through the corner of my eye I could see a misshapen shadow approaching the threshold of my bedroom.
Then the... thing came into my room. I couldn't scream, I couldn't move a single muscle. A great deadness had fallen over my body, like a heavy, dull sack of potatoes, peeled and greying from age.
I realised that whatever it was that was poking into my room was a "head".
It was perfectly spherical, about the size of a beachball. Pale blue like cornflowers, and covered with a soft, undulating fur about half an inch in length, that looked like it would be givingly soft to the touch. It glowed softly from the inside, and the glow undulated with the fur, casting an aquarium ripple on my bedroom walls.
About half way down what I took to be its front - though the sphere was otherwise completely featureless - was a small mouth, with blue, cherubic lips fringed by slightly longer fur that rippled slowly in the direction of the mouth, like the fronds of an anemone. The lips had a pronounced underbite, so that a set of pointy, conical white teeth jutted out in front.
The mouth looked horribly wet and was working soundlessly, the lips forming bizarre shapes as though it was trying to speak.
There were no eyes. No other features.
As the "head" poked further into the room, it was followed by what looked initially like a strange collection of jointed sticks covered roughly in a misshapen piece of tarpaulin. I soon realised this was the creature's "body".
It was hard to make out, as the organisation seemed chaotic, but there seemed to be seven dry-looking sticks, or "legs", about six inches in diameter and six feet long, that reminded me queasily of stick insects from school Biology lab. Each leg terminated in a soft, pompom shaped clump of brown fur that caused the soft thumping noise on the carpeted floor.
The legs disappeared under a loose, leathery sheet of green, tarpaulin looking material that appeared to contain no other organs or material inside, except whatever mechanism the legs attached to and articulated with. It looked almost like a walking tent. With a furry beachball head on top.
Once the "creature" had fully entered the room. It stopped for a while by the door, casting its silent rippling blue light over me. I suddenly realised that the light was how it "saw".
Gradually, the blue light passed over me, then passed back to focus on my face. It was looking straight at me.
The thumping started again as it gathered up its loose tent of a body and flowed slowly towards me. I couldn't even close my eyes.
The tent engulfed my bed and body, and the last thing I remember is the furry face looming right up to mine, inspecting me with a teriifying curiosity, the mouth working inarticulately on the verge of vocalisation.
Far away, I could hear my mobile phone ringing as I once again lost consciousness.
I woke up. It was bright daylight outside. Hot again.
I felt sick, and I managed to gulp down a few mouthfuls of tepid water from my bedside glass before running to the bathroom and puking up my guts into the toilet bowl.
I stayed knelt on the floor of the bathroom for a while, just trying to breathe, before having a perfunctory wash and trudging back to my room.
On my bedside, the mobile beeped. There was a message. I picked it up and looked at the time. It was gone 11am.
The missed call was from a withheld number. I dialled my voicemail:
"You have one new message, received at 4am on Thursday 16th August. Press '1' to listen to your message"
I pressed the key on my handset.
There was a pause, then a rush of static in my ear which resolved into a hollow, distant echoing noise punctuated by loud clicks, as though someone was turning a light on and off in a huge, empty warehouse.
Then I heard J's voice, faint and disconnected, as though it was being played on an old tape machine in the same warehouse. The clicking intensified, seeminly coming after each hesitant word that J spoke, rendering his voice weird and mechanical.
"I CLICK need CLICK to CLICK need CLICK to CLICK see CLICK you CLICK straight CLICK away CLICK the CLICK CLICK CLICK it's CLICK started CLICK it's CLICK started CLICK I CLICK need CLICK I CLICK need CLICK I CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK..."
to be continued...
Originally published 11 February 2007 on draGnet 4.0, this is the second part of the novella, 'Transformer', which is itself part of the Transformer series, a loose cycle of semi-autobiographical, semi-connected short stories, which I am presenting again in its entirety.
This part (2 of 5) is unchanged except for a few small grammatical and style changes, and the removal of an original framing intro passage which now appears in a more relevant context in the upcoming part 4.
'Transformer' was incomplete in the previous version of my site, with only the first two instalments of the novella completed. Having finished the story now, I'm very happy to be able to publish it in its entirety over the next few days. Enjoy.
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