Monday, 26 October 2009


June— and the bodies swell together in the gloaming, swell together in the chestnut drunk dark passageway, swell upwards in the foam dark mild and Anaglypta to part before the spark before the spark-bright swing-door to the gentlemen’s lavatory. June— and the CD in the jukebox skips kiss you're giving me is ae is me is me is…n my crown, and the gas needs changing in the pump room downstairs. June— and leaves scuttle upwards, crisp and pale as sackcloth against the pitch blue of the dressing-gowned sky; rising in the first of the autumn’s great breezes, hurdling with the crisp packets about the legs of the beer-garden’s benches where smokers huddle in the light from the back door—June—a queequeen in all her majesty stutters Helen Shapiro—Is it? June?

And he drops another coin into the payphone. June— I can’t quite— It’s very noisy here you’ll have to speak up— June? Are you there? Pressing one finger into his free ear hole he asks June— June— Are you there? I’ll call back, June. I’ll call back when it’s less noisy.

She catches him later. Joe, she says.

His eyes are red like flecks of bacon.

Joe, she says, you use the payphone here don’t you?

He fumbles in his palm for some pence. I phone my June, he says.

It is you then, she says.

I just phone my June, he says.

It’s about that, she says, I had a call. A complaint.

Oh, he says.

That’s not your June, she says, that’s not her number. It’s a club, she says, a club in town. And the man, the man who runs it like, he’s phoned me. He says it’s always this number, the pub number, and messages on his answer phone. You’ve been filling up his answer phone, she says, every night he says it is, with messages for your June.

Oh, he says.

It has to stop, she says.

He nods, he mostly ever nods.

It’s unpleasant for her, you see, having to tell him this. It’s unpleasant and it’s not really her job to. It should be George by rights, only George has the night off and so it’s her telling him this as she gathers beer-downy glasses, and it sets her wondering: who is this June? A wife? A daughter? A friend? Some woman perhaps who gave him the wrong number on purpose, who gave him the number to get him off her back know I’d die for you, now y now y now ygone that’s What’ll it be, love? She asks and the bodies swell in the passageway; leaves stirred up beneath the hand-drier.

And he drops another coin into the payphone. June— he says, June—