Orange book group
Chris Border knew no one, had nowhere to go, except home, and nothing to do there, except read.
Today he ventured out to hunt down the book he had hungered to read.
Such excursions were rare, so he had to remember how to get back home, to his cold empty flat in Shoreditch. From Green Park, along the blue line to Warren Street, walk to the pink line at Euston Square, until Whitechapel; walk along the Orange line until home.
As he stood waiting for a seat, he thought how reassuring to live so close to the tracks, aside from its underused logistical commuting convenience.
He finally finds a seat, and starts reading. Moments later, he notices a woman peering at him. Chris also does that whenever he sees someone with a book, just to get a sense of the person, to make a quiet judgement, and think of it no more. However, she was more persistent, and she even looked a little familiar, like a woman he had seen on Late Review a few times. However, people are many, faces are few and bone structures are largely uniform.
Too many ugly people, not enough pretty skulls…
He would often change the words to songs in his head, which intensified and changed the value of the words for him, by making them more in tune with and pursuant to his own morbid and decadent aesthetic sensibility.
He flipped over his book and, on seeing the photo, the penny dropped, it was...
She had seen the book he was reading and used it as an invitation to start talking to him.
She invited him over to her house, and even offered to cook for him, if he agreed to give her feedback on the book, when he had finished it. Like some literary form of regurgitation, only with Penguin books instead of actual Penguins.
So it was agreed. That made a date of it.
When he arrived there, she was not alone.
“This is Patricia,” announced the authoress, in a bellowing tone.
A scary looking woman with dark hair, a ball breaker, he decided. He was sure to be careful what he said, lest he be pounced upon.
However, she turned out to be cordial enough, flirty even, which intimidated him a little. He was not accustomed to the attentions of the scarier sex. For this, he started to wonder if he had been invited there under false pretences. When would this writer start prompting Chris for his infinite wisdom and critical expertise upon her novel?
Over dinner, he presumed. He waited patiently, wondering whether to launch prematurely into his pre-planned lecture, without being asked. Well, she had invited him, and even cooked a meal, the least he can do is wait.
The wine came out, bottle after bottle, and all this before they had even started eating. This is a recipe for disaster, he thought; but they were paying for it so he just went along.
Too much alcohol on an empty stomach fills one’s bladder all too quickly. He asked to be excused, then stood up, looking lost as if to ask: so where are the toilets?
“They are down the corridor, second on the left,” dictated the authoress.
He took a few more moments than were strictly necessarily to collect his thoughts, as he often did when in no great hurry. However, something important was missing from these musings: a rare and priceless edition, he thought.
It was the answer to his preoccupying question: just what did these women want with him?
He flushed, and made his way back to the dining room, whereupon his question may be answered. However, so shocked was he by the sight, that no such thought arose.
During his bemused pondering in the bathroom, they had stripped down into their birthday suits and started eating their food off each other.
How disappointing, he thought, this was not a proper meal; uncooked, like all the food on display - just fruit, oranges mainly.
“So tell me, how did you like my book?”
“No time like the present. Besides, if you are too harsh, I will not be so upset; I will be distracted.”
Not knowing where to look was a feeling he dealt with on the tube by concentrating on his book. In the absence of such comfort, he settled for a fixed spot by the window. This way he would not be overly distracted by their proceedings, yet he would still be looking in their general direction. He did not what them to think he was impolite; he was their guest. Moreover, if he was too standoffish, he feared they would be more inclined to invite him to their party of two, just to torture the poor soul.
Nervously, he started his lecture:
“Well, it was an expression of Cixous’ Écriture féminine par excellence.”
“Really, I have never read her,” she interjected abruptly.
“And you manifest the feminine voice Woolf described, in her seminal study on women’s literature.”
“I am not a big fan of Woolf to be honest; she is a little too tame for my liking. I prefer someone with a little more passion, you know what I mean?”
“Like her, I suppose,” he said, while looking at Patricia; who was too preoccupied and engrossed in what she was doing to notice any acknowledgement of her presence.
“Anything else?” asked the authoress, curtly.
“I did have more but it has slipped my mind. I should have written it down.”
“Oh well, there is always next time. We will have to do this again sometime. Just tell me when you finish another one of my books. Then ‘shall we three meet again’.”
“You must be hungry, take some fruit for the road, we have plenty, take whatever you like.”
“Um, ok, well I will just take a couple of these.”
“They are not the only fruit you know.”