Exit | Entrance | Living it up | Living it down | Waking up is hard to do | Stress and distress | Spring green and mushrooms | Depressing stuff | Deliverance | Departure



©Marcus J Brierley, 1999

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2 - Entrance

Damian awoke with a jolt. His neck hurt from lying ina twist; his arms hurt from having them up behind his head for so long, and hisbum hurt from lying on the hard floor. He sat up, scratched his head a little,then got up. He looked at his watch and gathered his thoughts. It was onethirty. There was a lot to be done if he was going to sleep in the flattonight. He rubbed his stomach. He was absolutely starving hungry. He wanderedout into the hall and then into the kitchen, sniffing and gazing round. Heturned on the gas of the cooker to see if it worked. There was a hissing soundand the smell of coal gas filled his nostrils. Yes that was gas alright. Heturned it off and tried the taps over the sink unit. Water came out. Yes thatwas water.

"I wonder how you get hot water?" hemurmured to himself.

He opened various wooden cupboard doors and looked atthe shelves, under the shelves, round the sides of the shelves and on top ofthe shelves. The cupboards were completely empty and there was no sign of anyswitch for an electric immersion heater for water heating. He pulled open thedrawers in the sink unit and then pulled open its cupboards too. It certainlywas an unfurnished flat. There was not a single item of kitchen ware orcrockery in sight, not even a tin tea spoon. Jesus there was a lot to do, a lotto get to equip it for living.

"I must have something to eat," said Damiananxiously, and he turned out of the kitchen and hurried towards the Fiat.

He pulled out one of the three cardboard boxes fromthe back of the car which contained the entirety of his worldly possessionsonto the driveway. He shook it to check which one it was and then assured,carried it into the house. Dumping it down on the kitchen side-board, herummaged through the contents, pulling handfuls of eating utensils out onto thekitchen work top.

A tin of Carnation evaporated milk and a one of bakedbeans with pork sausages presented themselves for immediate use. He selected ateacup with a broken handle, a teaspoon and a camping style metaltin-opener-combined-with-corkscrew.

Stabbing at the tin of beans with franticdetermination and then at the tin of carnation milk, he succeeded in piercing aworthwhile hole in the tin of sweet thick milk and drank from it extensively. Hepanted somewhat from the exertion of this on an empty stomach, then resumed hisattack on the tin of beans. He prized a jagged opening in the tin, into whichhe shoved his finger to pull out one of the sausages.


Damian instantly cut the inside of his rightforefinger on one of the sharp edges of the lid and dropped the tin. Thecontents spilled onto the kitchen floor.

"Shit," he said, "shit, shit,shit."

He tugged at the hanky in his right hand trouserspocket with the opposite hand, while turning on the cold water tap with theother. He ran the water over the cut and watched blood swilling around the sinkbowl.

"Fucking great start!" he said aloud.

Managing to wrap the hanky around the wounded finger,Damian began to scrape up the spilled beans from the kitchen floor with histeaspoon and into the tea cup. Leaving behind him a pool of tomato sauce, beanand blood on the kitchen floor, he went through the double doors into the bigroom, sat down by the fireplace and facing out towards the wintry garden,tucked into his lunch.

Within a minute he had finished. He stood slowly,strolled to the French windows and gazed from side to side of the vast gardenthen returned to the kitchen and dumped the cup on the sideboard. He lookeddown at the mess on the floor one more time.

"Shit," he said aloud. Shaking his headwith self disapproval, he turned and made in the direction of the Fiat to bringin the rest of his possessions.

The other two cardboard boxes contained his clothesand his records and record player respectively. The only other item ofimportance to him, and this was possibly the most precious thing he possessed,was his guitar and he brought that in last. It was as if he had systematicallylaid claim to his territory and now he could bring in his best friend topresent the territory to the guitar. Indeed, Damian's guitar was his bestfriend. No female or male friend could hope to satisfy Damian the way hisguitar could or give him such endless pleasure. That was his opinion.

He carried it through the front door, down the halland into the room in its heavy custom-built case in triumphal procession. Hesat in the centre of the room under the huge white alabaster ceiling sculptureand the bare, empty light socket and took out the instrument. Crossing hislegs, he strummed a chord or two. The hanky round his finger got in the way andhe shook it off impatiently, oblivious to the possibility of blood dripping onthe guitar face. The guitar, which had been hand-built for him by a maker inthe suburbs of north London some while ago, sounded alive and well. Itreverberated powerfully amid the unfurnished acoustic of the huge space. Damianpaused to roll up, light up and then resume the steady beat of that twelve barblues all guitarists in search of their muse begin to play.

Suddenly, reminded of other things which neededdoing, he glanced at his watch and stopped. He reluctantly put the guitar intoits case once more, leaving the lid open so that unsteady daylight coming viathe French windows reflected off the guitar's face. He looked at it and admiredit for an instant longer then he glanced at his watch with that perpetualnervous tick of his and headed for the bathroom.

Pulling down the wooden toilet seat, he dropped histrousers and sat down for yet more luxuriating. He gazed around the bathroom,marvelling at its size. He imagined how long it would take to get from the doorto the toilet if he were in a hurry. He was about to settle back into achristening crap when his eye caught the toilet-roll holder at the side of thewash bowl. No paper.

"Shit," said Damian.

Applying a rapid handbrake turn on the sphincter, heyanked up his jeans and headed for the Fiat. No more time to lose.

Damian considered priorities as he motored in thedirection of college. Clearly he would have to obtain a large number ofhousehold items to make life at St Joan's tolerable, even possible. This was arequirement he had not fully assimilated when either committing himself to thelease, or negotiating his overdraft. Clearly, some kind of bed was definitelyat the top of the agenda because that could also double as seating in the eventof better being unavailable for the foreseeable future.

Next would have to come cooking utensils, crockeryand eating irons. Toilet paper was a must, he remembered. He wondered if Bertieand Dave had any ideas on these subjects. In any event, involving them in thefurnishing arrangements made a lot of sense, because there was no way he couldafford any more than he had so far committed to.

He turned into the college grounds but then recallinghis last encounter with Mrs Brownsmith thought better of actually taking theFiat into the grounds in case of being instantly identified, so he backed outagain and parked up in the street in a place identified for strategic getaway.

Now pulling his jacket collar up round his ears, thelate December chill was beginning to penetrate his euphoria, he hurried downthe drive to the student room where his friends were expected to be, probablypretty much as he had left them.

They were sitting with Patsy and yet more chicks whohe didn't know. "Hmm."

"Keys!" Damian shouted triumphantly."Look at these!" he sai, holding up the bundle and jingling themprovocatively. "These are the keys to your new pad, guys."

Dave and Bertie beamed inanely and said "Wowman, far out," and other such expressions.

"So we've got a lot of thinking to do,"said Damian, "For a start, there's no beds or bedding. And then there's nocooking stuff, so we've got to get all that shit. And some food to cook in it.And by the way there's no heating or well I haven't discovered it so it's goingto be cold tonight, OK?."

"Is there a cooker?" asked Dave, who wasthe least likely to be able to get anything together today.

"There's a cooker, there's a kitchen, there's abathroom, a bath, a loo, but I don't know how you get hot water yet. There'selectricity and gas already on, but I've got to sign something on Monday to saythat it's us who's going to be paying for it. I even think there's a phone, butI don't know if it's connected, I guess not, but we can get it on."

"Wow, man, far out," said Dave.

"What are you going to do about beds?"asked Patsy, putting at the top of the list something she liked.

Damian ignored this for the moment and continued withhis immediate theme.

"Do you guys want to stay there tonight?"he demanded. Dave and Bertie looked doubtful.

"Maybe we should do something aboutthings," mumbled Dave.

"Like money."

"Like money, like bedding, like stuff like yousaid," said Bert8ie getting the idea. "Don't worry man, you've donelots. We can do stuff too! Look we can. This time tomorrow!"

"I'd like to come tonight, what do youthink?" said Patsy.

"Great, man, I like it." said Damianenthusiastically. "Then we'd better get some of this stuff organised orwe're going to freeze and be dead by morning, I promise. So listen guys - thinkabout pots and pans and plates and stuff and something for yourselves to sleepon? I've got to figure something for us for now."

"Me gran's got lots of stuff, I know," saidBertie. "She just sold up her corner shop and moved to one of themaccommodations. She's got stuff in a lock up. I can help meself."

"OK, so let's go then Pats. You wanna?"

"I wanna!"

Down the Lee High Road, there were second hand bedshops a plenty to meet the needs of immigrants and exiles. Damian had drivenpast them many times. This would be almost next on the agenda.

They stood and looked smiling round from face toface.

Arm in arm, Patsy and Damian hopped and skipped tothe car. Patsy shivered in the night air.

"Look, let's collect some stuff from your roomin case we don't have any luck findin' stuff to buy at this short notice?"suggested Damian. She nodded "yes", and climbing into the Fiat, theywhizzed down to the halls of residence together to find booty.

Walking into the common room, Damian took in itscontents at a glance. Anything here to liberate for better use?. A good sizedrug looked as though it would look well on the floor of the his room at StJoan's and he swooped on it and swiftly transformed it into a roll.

"God, Damian, what are you doing?" shriekedPatsy.

"Well, our need is greater than the good girls'of Lady Jane. I just thought this would keep us a bit warmer than what we'vegot at present, which is absolutely nothing at all. We'll just borrow it forthe time being." said Damian. "Let's collect your bedding stuff aswell and then we can at least make up a nest until there's more time to getthings organised."

They ran up the stairs two at a time and into room206. Damian did not pause for Patsy to consider any pros and cons of hisarrangements on the hoof. He just scooped up the entire lining of Patsy's bed,sheets, blankets, pillows, coverlet, nightie, Kleenex, and rolled it into asingle roll. He unrolled the common room rug and rolled the rest up in that.

"Need anything else?" he said,"Toothbrush, knickers, Tampax, coat?"

Patsy right away got into the swing of things andmade equally sweeping movements as she gathered her bare essentials together,lipstick, hairbrush, scarf. She threw the things into a canvas shoulder bag andarmed with essential booty, they made it back to the ship.

On the way down, Damian also picked up a loaf ofsliced bread from the kitchen, an unopened pack of margarine, a table knife anda battered saucepan.

"More emergency arrangements!"

They drove down the High Street and towards Lewishamin the Friday rush. It was already nearly dark and everyone had their lights onand their exhausts smoking.

Damian made a couple of roll-ups at the trafficlights, lit up and handed one to Patsy as they moved off again.

In Lee High Road, the second hand furniture shopswere closing down for the night and bringing in their stuff from the pavements.Damian stopped opposite the one he had pictured when he'd had the idea aboutbeds. Like the others, the shop guy was getting his stuff in for the night.Damian and Patsy approached the dealer.

"Got a decent bed cheap?" asked Damian,walking quickly right up to him.

"I got decent beds and I got cheap beds and Igot decent cheap beds. How much did you have in mind, mate?" said thebloke, eyeing Damian and Patsy and judging them to be toffs on a shoestring.

"Five quid?" said Damian hopefully.

"You must be jokin'," said the guy,"Decent bed for five quid. I s'pose you want it deliverin' too? You won'tget a bed in that little bugger," he spat in the direction of the Fiat.

"That's right, mate," said Damian, unfazedby the indifference, "Will you deliver?"

"Let's see what we got first," said theguy.

The three went inside the shop and amid piles andpiles of mattresses, bed frames, head boards and other assorted junk, thedealer pulled out a number of bits that at least he seemed to recognise asbeing part of a single unit even if Damian didn't.

"There you are mate," he said at last, "There'sa lovely bit of a bed for you. Get some good nights in that, mate." Heeyed Patsy up and down with inference.

"How much?" asked Damian.

"Ten quid the lot," said the dealer.

"I thought I said five," retorted Damianwho was not easily beaten down in any negotiation on second-hand property.

"Alright mate, seven pound twelve and six andnot a penny less," said the guy.

"Look mate," said Damian, "I don'thave a lot of time to bugger around arguing with you. I don't have any sparebread either. It's five quid for the lot or I go somewhere else, alright?"

"Alright mate, keep yer hair on. Just tryin' toearn a livin' that's all, mate," he said.

"What about delivery?" asked Damian, takingout his cheque book.

"You ain't goin' to give me a cheque?" saidthe dealer, ducking the demand on delivery. He was a cash man himself. Didn'tlike doing anything with cheques.

"I haven't got any cash on me right now,"said Damian, but if you deliver it tomorrow, I'll make sure I've got the cashfor you in hand. Is that OK?"

The dealer weighed the odds. Damian seemed a straightenough sort of bloke. His bird was better though. "What about adeposit?" he asked for one last try.

"I'll give you a cheque now and when youdeliver, you can return the cheque to me, and I'll give you the cash, how'sthat?" said Damian considerately.

"Alright mate, give us the cheque; give us theaddress," said the dealer.

The deal was concluded. Patsy and Damian set offtowards central London.

"Not going back to flat?" asked Patsy.

"Town! Something to celebrate!" saidDamian.

Hunger was beginning to gnaw at Damian's stomach andprey on his mind. He began swearing at every other motorist as they cut in andout of his path on the journey up the Old Kent Road. By the time they got toWestminster Bridge it was all Patsy could do to stop him hanging out of theFiat and laying one on somebody. They raced along the Embankment and aroundTrafalgar Square. They crawled up Charing Cross Road, then darted off to parkin Soho Square. Damian and Patsy frog-marched each other down Frith Street andinto Dino's for a taste of Italy. Eating out was not Damian's usual habit. Onhis kind of money, it was hardly possible, but tonight, celebration, why not!

He skip-read the menu and did small sums. He toldPatsy what they could afford and what they could not. They ordered two timesspaghetti bolognaise and a half carafe of house red. Mercifully, the meal camequickly and they stuffed solidly with hardly a pause for breath. In a fewminutes it was over. Patsy poured the wine and while Damian knocked his glassback in a mouthful, Patsy sipped more delicately. Damian sat back and stretchedout his long legs under the narrow table. Patsy looked at him a while, thenstood up and slid around the table so as to be on the same side as he. She puther arms round him to snuggle up and rested her head on his shoulder dreamily.

They remained motionless like this until a last, awaiter appeared at their table. He muttered to them in broken English aboutwanting something for dessert. Damian and Patsy were both drowsy with themixture of fatigue and warmth of the wine and couldn't immediately follow him.When the penny dropped, Damian shook his head from side to side. More wouldhave been good, but more could not be paid for tonight. They sat snuggled nextto one another, Damian in particular, enjoying the sudden slow down of the day.The waiter came back with the bill on a saucer. He wasn't rude or pressing,just politely emphasising the need for the table to be returned to him forfurther use. Damian breathed out slowly and reached into his jacket for theinevitable cheque book.

"Thanks, that was great," he said to thewaiter as they stood to leave. Patsy nodded too and flashed a smile to him inlieu of a tip. It was enough. The Italian waiter said, "Ciao, see youagain soon!"

Damian and patsy slipped out of the door onto thecold dark street and walking in step, intertwined, they made their way round toGreek Street. Les Cousins, Damian's folkie haunt was opening up. Joey the Greekwas already seated in his position at the bottom of the stairs, coat collarround his ears, waiting to take seven and sixes to let folk in. Damian neverpaid - he played. Sounds were coming from the room beyond.

"Who's in tonight?" asked Damian.

"Some American guy," said Joey, "Neverseem him before. He just turned up tonight and asked to play. No-one else washere so I let him."

"Name?" demanded Damian.

"Sandy something," grunted Joey. It couldhave been Bob Dylan and Joey the Greek would not have known the difference.

Damian and Patsy went through the door and sat downnear the edge of the room. There were about twenty or thirty people spreadunevenly around on a variety of chairs and benches and Sandy something withlong straight fair hair and round steel rim spectacles was playing wild strangeIndian sounding things on a Martin 0028 tuned in lots of fifths and fourths.His right foot was working up and down in time on the pedal of a high-hat setup in front of him. The rhythmic "tsh" and "gha" ofhigh-hat and bass strings provided a carpet underlay to hammering pentatonicsup and down the guitar neck. Sometimes the beat speeded up, sometimes it sloweddown and almost came to a halt. On and on it went. Twenty minutes or so wentby. Damian didn't notice the passage of time. More folk came into the club.Some talked to each other in whispers. Some said "hi" to Damian - henodded by way of answer.

This guy Sandy something was something else. Damianwatched and listened intently. A whiff of spliff drifted by Damian's nostrilsencouraging a faint acknowledging twitch. The music was more arresting.

He himself had been trying out ideas like this. Notwith the high-hat, that was a nice touch, but Damian really liked the drone ofthe open tuning and the steady rhythmic pulse. Suddenly, without warning, themusic petered to a halt and Sandy something stood up, turning round and backagain like a dog looking for a special spot on a mound of grass, while theaudience clapped appreciatively.

Damian went over to him and put his hand on hisshoulder.

"Nice work, man,' he said.

Sandy something managed to grunt, "Gee,"and "Awe."

"I didn't get your full name," said Damiansociably.

"Bull, man," said Sandy and turned towardshis job of tuning his guitar into a different tuning for another piece.

Damian shrugged at Patsy. They sat for a few momentslonger. Sandy began playing a second opus. It was pretty much the same as theprevious one but in a different key.

Damian glanced at his watch in the shadows.

"Let's split," he said to Patsy.

They stood and slipped out of the door. Sandy Bull,without stopping,  stared hard intheir direction.

After a couple more words with Joey the Greek on theway out, Damian and Patsy sauntered up Greek Street towards Soho Square and theFiat. Damian picked a random encounter more or less in the centre of the roadwith a gentleman of African extraction with whom a small transaction took placeinvolving the transfer of two round silver coins in one direction, and a halfcentimetre cubed silver parcel in the other. Damian dropped it into his shoe.He grinned at Patsy, who was not sure what had gone on because it was so quickand silent.

Once in the Fiat, she came close up to his ear andwhispered, "What did you get? Was it…"

"Just a little something - to celebrate,"he said.

At nine thirty at night, there were plenty of cornershops and mini-markets still open on the streets of south east London. Theypicked one and went in to buy milk and tea. Some firelighters too. Damian hadnoticed, earlier in the day, logs neatly stacked around the outside wall of StJoan's. He wasn't sure who owned these, but they looked as though they couldcome in handy for heating.

Damian bought some Players. Rolling tobacco was toodamp for his joints.

As the Fiat crunched into the forecourt of the house,Patsy's stomach did more than a skip with excitement. Damian had told her abouthis amazing pad, but any descriptions paled alongside the reality.

There was a small light above the porch, enough tosee the keyhole by. He turned the key, grinned at Patsy and they entered.

A stream of very cold air engulfed them as theygiggled and tripped down the corridor. Damian threw open the large oak doors tohis room and turned on the single bare light which hung on a wire from thecentre rose.

Patsy was already shivering substantially. Nothingcould stem her astonishment at the room's proportions.

"Damian! It's incredible!"

Damian's nods of agreement were accentuated by hisown involuntary fit of shivering.

"Better get some heat going, or we'll die beforewe get to enjoy it," he quipped. He headed back out to the front of thehouse and started to bring in a broad selection of the logs from the stashoutside. He got the bag of shopping from the car and the various rolls ofbedding and dragged it down the hall bit by bit.

"Here, wrap yourself in that," he orderedPatsy, throwing the bedding down. She pulled out a blanket, tugged it tightlyround her and sat down to watch Damian's firelighting performance.

He had never actually lit a fire before and was onlyvaguely aware of what the procedure might be. He'd seen his father do it longago in one of the Victorian terraces that they'd lived in when he was a child.But now firelighting was his own responsibility. He looked closely at thepacket of firelighters and studied the small illustrations on the back of thepacket. They showed a little firelighter with paper around it and lumps of coalbalanced on the top, with little flames coming out on all sides. Damiansupposed that logs would burn in much the same way as coal, but he hadn't anynewspaper. Anyway he put a quarter of the packet of firelighters in the grateand balanced three logs at angles to one another like a wigwam. He struck amatch, tentatively held it out towards the firelighters and watched carefullyas they caught fire. Then he stood back and admired the results. Flames spreadquickly and in no time at all the logs were burning just as shown in thepictures on the packet.

"It's a fire!" whooped Damian.

The two spread themselves on the college rug pulledclose before the hearth and they gazed as the fire developed and rose higherinto the chimney breast. They felt the powerful heat as the logs took on atheir fiery glow and Patsy and Damian began to feel at home. Patsy stood andwent to the kitchen to have a go at making tea.

"OK, so I've got some water boiling on thiscooker," she called out, "If I make some tea, what are we going todrink it out of? Oh, I see, you've got one cup!"

She was referring to the dirty mess of beans leftover from Damian's attempt at lunch.

"God you are a pig Damian. You've managed tomake a shit-heap of it in here already."

Damian followed her into the kitchen.

"God I wish we could find how we get hotwater," he said.

Patsy turned from the pan on the cooker to seek out asolution. She closed the kitchen door, to retain the heat being generated bythe small gas flame on the hob. There was a full length cupboard set into thewall which had been hidden by the open kitchen door. She pulled on its brassknob. They both looked closely at the interior. It appeared to contain a verylarge copper water cylinder wrapped around with thick woven woollen blanket. Tothe left of was the switch they were probably hoping for.

"Well what have we here?" said Damian asthough it was his discovery.

"I think this is my find if you don'tmind," screamed Patsy as Damian drilled at her chest with a pointy finger.

"OK, then you can switch it on," he said.

She glanced gleefully at him and threw the switchlike the queen with a keen sense of triumph. There was neither sound nor flashof sparks. Nothing spectacular to behold, however, a small amber light on thehousing glowed meaningfully.

"Well all we can do is wait and see," shesaid.

The saucepan of water was now bubbling and Patsyadded a tea bag to the pan to make the brew. Highly unusual. They took the pan,the bottle of milk and the tea cup with the broken handle, though now washed,back into the room to play mummies and daddies.

To Damian's horror, the fire which had been busilygetting under way just a few minutes earlier was now looking gloomy. He proddedthe logs gingerly with the tow of his boot and then kicked them a bit harder towhich influence they re-ignited somewhat. But the picture was none too healthy.

"I better get some more logs," he said.

He struggled into the icy outside world once more viathe French windows. A few moments later, he re-appeared burdened with half adozen or so fresh logs which he threw onto the floor and closed the window doorbehind him. He put a log onto the fire and stood back to see what would happen.It didn't instantly spring into flame and he tutted to himself anxiously. Hetook some more of the firelighters out of the packet and threw them into thehearth in a fit of panic. They blazed immediately. Better.

"God it's hard controlling this fire stuff.Either it's out or it's in. God however did my Dad manage it all those years?He just seemed to do it. I used to love that."

Patsy smiled at Damian's simplicity. "I expectit was practice my love."

Damian looked back at her quizzically. He hadn'tnoticed Patsy use that particular word 'love' before - not in that way.

He pulled the stolen college rug further into thefireplace while Patsy was sitting on it and she fell back laughing. Then heorganised the sheets on top of her. Finally the blankets. Patsy leaned out ofthe 'bed' to pour tea into their cup. She added milk from the bottle and passedthe cup to Damian.

"After you," he said with a mild flourish.

He watched her as she sipped at it and he consideredhow beautiful she appeared in the flickering firelight.

He stretched towards her and began to nibble at herear-lobe. His kissing lips slithered down the side of her neck and she turnedher head towards him to meet his lips with hers. They kissed for a while andpassed the cup to each other to sip in quiet contemplation.

Suddenly Damian stood. He felt around inside hispockets and about his person. A look of recollection formed on his face and heprised off his boot with the toe of the other. Putting his hand down the leg hegroped about to Patsy's fascination and then pulled out the small silver parcellike a rabbit out of the hat.

"We forgot this!"

Patsy grinned and propped herself on her elbows asDamian gave his attention to finding the pack of Players that he'd bought andthen some ciggie papers from his jacket pocket. Taking an LP from one of thecardboard boxes of his treasures on the floor, he sat cross legged facing thefire, placed the LP sleeve on his lap like a desk and began the ritualpreparation of the joint.

When Damian inhaled the first blast of hot smoke,Patsy gave an involuntary glance around the room in fear of their beingsecretly observed. Realising that every window, and there were quite a few, waswithout curtain, she went to the light switch and turned it off. She crouchedbeside Damian and took the joint from his fingers in the dim glow of thehearth. They passed it to from one to another, filled lungs with smoke and heldit as long as possible before breathing out. Together they got sweetly stonedin the firelight. Finally, they took off their clothes and did their absolutebest to snuggle naked under the sheets and blankets of their makeshift bed,pressed tightly together. Despite everything, it was still bloody cold.Nevertheless, they did fall asleep almost instantaneously.


At around nine a.m., Patsy woke up and peered outfrom under the sheets. Her nose was icy cold. She gradually focused in on wherethey were and gazed thoughtfully around the room. Apart from space, there was nota lot to be seen. Walls, ceiling, windows, whiteness, empty space. It was goingto take one hell of a lot of furnishing, she thought, and decorating, andheating. God, yes heating. That was a nightmare. She shivered and ducked downunder the sheets and blankets again. Damian stirred.

“Mmm,” he said.

“It’s morning,” said Patsy as shecombed her fingers through his chest hair.

“Mmm,” he said.

Damian tentatively allowed his head to protrude abovethe blanket line. Bright light was shining in through the windows. He countedthe windows. Four enormous sash windows plus a pair of French windows on theside wall. Three on the back wall. It was a lot of light. Of course, hehadn’t seen the flat in daylight before. He had still not begun toassimilate the extent of the curtains which he would require to shut it out.

Damian sat up in bed and started to observe his newsurroundings in more detail.

“It’s fantastic,” he said.

He rose, stood and walked, still naked, over to thewindows to gaze out on the garden. He sauntered to another window and peeredthrough that one too. He attempted to open the French windows and would havesucceeded if Patsy had not yelled,

“God Damian, what are you playing at,it’s freezing out there!”

“Oh, right,” he said.

He wandered out down the hall to the bathroom and dida pee. He tried the taps. He came back with wet hands and rubbed them dry onthe sheets. He looked at the grate and at the cold grey powdery embers.

"There's hot water you know. It worked!"

"All's not an iceberg then?" said Patsyruefully.

The fire had burnt out all right. To get warm, he wasgoing to have to build another one. He rummaged around in the carrier bag withthe shopping and pulled out the loaf of sliced bread. Tearing open the packet,he held out a piece to Patsy.

“Breakfast?” he said. He tore the centreout of a slice of bread and stuffed it into his mouth, knocking back mouthfulsfrom the milk bottle to make it palatable. Patsy now sitting naked,cross-legged in front of the dead fireplace, picked up a couple of slices anddangled them in front of her breasts in mock modesty.

Damian said, ”Mmm, breakfast!!,” andstarted to nibble away at the centre of one of them. Biting through enough toreveal a nipple, he nibbled at that and pushed her over onto the top of the bedclothes. He pinned her down with one hand to prevent her escaping and startedto bite into the slice over the other breast. They laughed and giggled androlled, pressed together on the bedding and gradually began to make love.

Within moments Damian peaked and subsided flat out onPatsy with only bread-crumbs separating them. He lay still for a few secondsand then rolled over to look at the ceiling. Patsy looked at Damian andwondered why men came so fast women didn’t.

“Do you think that water might be hot enoughfor a bath?” he enquired after a lengthy silence.

“Well, there’s only one way to findout,” Patsy replied and sat up, pulling a sheet all about her. She stoodand set off in the direction of the bathroom.

Damian considered life a few moments longer then setoff in pursuit. In the bathroom there was already steam rising from the bath.Patsy was sitting on the lavatory, the sheet round her ankles. She waved in thedirection of the bath with the panache of a magician’s assistant.


“Bloody hell. Hot water! This is thelife,” he said as he dipped a toe in to test the temperature. “Shitman, it’s bloody hot,” he said and stepped back to survey the sceneonce more. “Shall I run cold?”

Patsy was already at the controls and leaning forwardto adjust the flow, she stirred vigorously to mix it up. Very quickly, the bathwas full and one by one they lowered themselves in.

Sitting at opposite ends, Patsy had the tap end ofcourse, they splashed with their hands like tiny children might, only occasionallymaking definite washing actions. But of course they had no soap. Yet morethings to buy today.

 “What time do you suppose that guy will come with thebed?” Patsy enquired.

“Dunno,” said Damian, “hedidn’t say did he? Let’s hope it’s soon ‘cos we need toget out and get some stuff in quick. Jesus, I’m really starving,”he added.

As the water cooled down, Patsy decided to get out.They had forgotten to bring a towel with them to the bathroom fromDamian’s box of possessions and Patsy wrapped the sheet round herdripping body to go off and get one. She returned moments later and handed itout to Damian. “Damian, these stink,” she said, “Do you everdo laundry?”

Damian shook his head, “Once a term I take ithome to mum.”

“I think you’re big enough to do it foryourself now,” she said. “We should find a laundrette somewherenear and take the lot. The sheets are soaking wet now, and the rest are coveredin bread crumbs. I can’t think of any other way of getting it all dryagain for tonight.”

Damian nodded. How did girls know all these things,he wondered.

They quickly dried and dressed and Patsy made someattempt to tidy up the muddle they had made overnight. Damian made more muddleby starting to unpack his boxes. But as he had no shelving or cupboards to putthings in, he had to give up and put it all back in the boxes again.

“God, this is going to be a job,” hesaid, looking up and around at the size of the emptiness. “How ever am Igoing to get this place liveable in?” he asked himself aloud. His voicesounded so full of despair that Patsy had to stop doing what she was doing andrush to him to put her arms round him. They looked at each other and theirnoses touched. Their cold noses touched. “Bloody hell, Pats - have I madea terrible mistake?” he asked.

“Well, maybe a small one,” she answered.“Maybe you have. It’s just so enormous, Damian. I’ve neverseen anything like it. It’s going to cost a fortune to get it fixed, youknow.”

“Gee thanks a lot,” he said, feeling evenmore depressed. He put his head in his hands and sighed. A big sad sigh.

Just as he was about to consider ending it all in agiant overdose of cannabis resin, the door bell rang. “It’s got adoor bell!” he shouted with renewed energy. He ran down the hall to seewho was visiting them on a Saturday morning.

Joy of joys. It was the second-hand dealer arrivingwith Damian's bed. He man-handled the parts into the hallway and handed Damianhis cheque, “Cash?” he asked.

Damian’s stomach churned once. He had made apromise, and now he hadn’t remembered to keep it. “Jesus, I’msorry man,” he said in all honesty. “I’ve forgotten,forgotten I had to get the cash. Look I’m sorry, I really am. I’llgo right now, down to the bank and get your dough. It’s OK, man, I canget it now.”

“Please wait, “ said Patsy, trying tobeam reassuringly.

“Alright,” he grumbled.

Damian pulled on his shoes and ran out to the Fiat totrack down the nearest bank. He didn’t even know which direction to headin, but somehow managed to correctly choose the High Street first. Parking on aSaturday morning was not easy, but he managed and the bank was open till noon.He withdrew a small sum, sufficient to pay for the furniture delivery andprovide for basic food purchase, after they had made a phone call to his branchto check that he was who he claimed to be. Once they had got used to his face,there would be no further problems like this, they assured him. Within a fewminutes he was back at the flat and handing over five one pound notes. Therewas a faint pause at the end of the count. Two eyes met in synchrony.

“Er, and here’s erm, a bit extra forgetting it over here, thanks very much, mate,” and Damian added two bobas a tip.

The man was impressed and signalled gratitude with agrin. Damian showed him the door.

“What did he do all the time he washere?” Damian asked Patsy, “He could’ve put the damn thing upfor us while he was waiting. Have you checked it to make sure it’s allthere?” he asked.

They dragged the components into the room and spreadthem out on the floor. There was a frame with wire springs, a wooden headboardand a tailboard, and a thin looking Dunlopillo mattress. “Well it’swhat we bought,” Damian said.

They examined the mechanics of assembly and withinfive minutes, with the aid of the tool kit from the Fiat, the thing wasstanding ready for testing in the centre of the room.

“Do you thing it ought to be nearer thefireplace?” said Damian.

“Well if last night is anything to go by, itought to be actually in the fireplace,” said Patsy. They shoved it closer.

Patsy sat on it and bounced up and down on the edge.Damian got on too. He pushed Patsy over on it and began fumbling under hersweater for booby. Within seconds they were bed testing in time honouredfashion, with jeans and panties down round ankles. The bed was highlycompliant. It had seen this sort of thing before.

Just as they were coming to the exciting bit, thedoor to the room opened wide and in strode Bertie, Dave and one of the chicksfrom the coffee lounge.

"Hi, you guys," shouted Bertie withoutregard for, well, anything.

Damian stopped in mid thrust and looked over hisshoulder.

"Fuckin' hell, Bertie, don't you guys ever knockor something?" Patsy decided the testing was at an end and struggled toget her knickers up. They all wandered in and perched on the bed.

"You've got it looking good already," saidDave, who was easily impressed. He immediately began rolling a joint.

"Look, fuck this," said Damian, pushing theactivity to one side. He was still ruffled by the interruption to his lovemaking. "We can't get stoned now, there's too much to think about."

"Well you looked like you had a lot on yourmind," retorted Dave, already high on the buzz of arrival and erotica.

Damian zipped his trousers and turned to Bertie fromwhom more sense might be possible.

"How'd you get on with stuff for thehouse?" he enquired.

"Fantastic!" said Bertie. "I got loadsof stuff from Gran, and then we went to see me Dad. He said me Aunty'd gotstuff I could have and we've even got carpets!"

"Bloody amazing, Bertie," said Damian,showing every sign of forgiveness. "Why don't you guys take a nose roundthe pad and decide which rooms you want, then we'll get the stuff in. By theway guys, did you get your bread sorted out. I need to get it into the banklike now!" The 'now' was really loud.

"Yeah. I've got mine. And Bertie's gothis!" Dave glowed with achievement. He handed over forty pounds in cash.Bertie wandered out with his arm round the chick.

"Did she go with you to Bertie's Gran's andeverything, or did you get her this morning?" said Damian to Dave.

"Hmmm, she came along. We all kipped together athis Aunty's. Great old girl."

"Do you mean the aunt or the chick?"

"Well both really," said Dave.

"Is she with you or Bertie?" asked Damian.

"Do you mean the aunt or the chick?"

"Don't be a prat, Dave," said Damian,"What's her name?"

"Do you mean the aunt or the chick?"

Damian and Patsy together pushed Dave off the bedgiggling onto the floor.

Bertie came back into the room and said, "WellI've chosen my room, Dave, it's down to you now. Bloody fantastic place,Damian. How'd you do it?" The chick wandered back in from the bathroom tothe sound of toilet flushing, "Do you guys know each other?" Damianand Patsy shook their heads.

"Hello, I'm Sheila," said she.

"OK, so we'd better get sorted then," saidDamian and he got on his feet to mean business. Bertie and Damian went out tothe van. The girls followed. Dave came wandering out, absolutely last, trailingclouds of green smelling smoke.

Over the next ten minutes or so, they dragged andcarried a fair amount of useful objects from the van and into the flat. Twolarge tea-chests contained a variety pots and pans, mainly  battered, aluminium and grubby; anassortment of plates and bowls; several quite good mugs; a heap of mixed knives,forks and spoons; two large rugs; two actual carpets, one with an under felteven, and three pairs of curtains. All this was brought into Damian's room andspread out on the wide, wide floor to display it to the full.

They gathered round and examined the items withinterest.

"Well all this kitchen stuff'll go in thekitchen," declared Dave, profoundly. They looked up at him and noddedslowly.

"It does seem, "said Damian, "thatyour good relations have managed to provide us with pretty much everything thatwe need to set up house. This really is excellent, Bertie, you should get areward. By the way you still owe me forty quid for the rent."

"That's the sort of reward I'd like," saidBertie, but he took out his wallet, signed on the back of the cheque which hadbeen made out to him and handed it over. "There you are, dearest, no moreneed for panic!"

Damian glanced at his watch, a perpetually nervoushabit he had acquired since early youth, and started at the sight of the time."Got to get down to the bank right-a-way," he said and shot out ofthe room.

By the time he returned, all the kitchen equipmenthad been stowed in appropriate places, courtesy of Patsy and Sheila. Somediscussion was ensuing regarding the prospective ownership of the rugs andcarpets. Dave was laying claim to the rugs and a carpet on the basis that none ofthem would be big enough to cover the floor in Damian's room and as aconsequence would look ridiculous and be wasted. Bertie was saying that he hadbrought them for everyone and everyone was entitled to an equal share even ifit meant cutting each of them into three parts. Dave was rejoining that such anidea was completely and utterly without reason and as such, the person who haduttered it should be disregarded indefinitely.

Damian looked at them both and at the assortedcarpetry. "I say, Bertie brought them, Bertie should decide which one hewants and then we'll think about ourselves."

Bertie went to pace out his room and returned to paceout the carpets. "I'll have the green one," he said, "then itwon't show up if I puke on it."

Then they all went to inspect Dave's room. It waslong and thin and not too big anyway. It looked as though it could be easilymade warm with addition of fire in the hearth.

"I'd like to suggest that you have the two rugs,Dave," said Damian, "that is if you're happy with that idea. Because,they're both quite narrow and if you put one here and the other there," hewent and actually stood over the areas he was indicating, "then I thinkyou'll more or less cover the whole floor and if you can get a mattress at oneend to sit on and stuff (sleep, have sex, read, smoke dope), you'll have apretty comfortable room. And if you don't like it, we can swap over lateron."

Dave nodded sagely and said, "OK, man."

The curtains were easy to deal with. None of them waslong enough to cover the drop in Damian's room, but between them, they justabout covered the requirements for the other two rooms. Damian would have towait for another solution for his.

"OK, so it's dinner time!" said Davetriumphantly.

"We've not got any food," said Patsyanxiously.

They moved by degrees into the kitchen. It turned outthat the eponymous Gran had provided a box of goodies to set them on theirculinary way. "Gran's portable pantry!" said Bertie.

Only Damian had any experience of 'actual cooking'which must have been based upon 'the youth hosteler's guide to coping withcalor gas cookers', so he utilised his major speciality, frying, to produce ameal out of whatever was handed to him. Fried eggs with pineapple is not such abad thing.

They sat in the Room on the carpet, on the bed and onthe hearth, ate, smoked and drank - the first festivity of a new era.