…in half an hour. Go read short stories by:
The telephone rang again.
I needn’t have answered. It’s partly the volume that seems demanding and a level of curiosity leaks in and there was a tiny chance that something important, some assistance, might be asked of me.
So, “Hello.” Quite an abrupt tone from me, nonetheless, no more time for nonsense.
“Ah…I’m sorry.” A man speaking, blurry with some kind of personal dark, but sounding quite regretful and there’s this other voice, shrill and digging behind his, “Go on. Tell her. Her.” A woman shouting, “Go on! Try it—as if…” and slightly in the distance, “As if!” although not so far away that she has to shout, “Go on! You called her, you tell her, you just fucking tell her.” She is plainly screaming because she wants to, because her emotions are leaning that way.
It had not occurred to me, either, that the undressing might be a prelude to rape, or to any ceremony but supper.
Are you on your mobile? she said. Don’t, Ali, it’s expensive on this system. I’ll call you back.
No worries, I said. It’s just a quickie. Listen. Is the short story a goddess and a nymph and is the novel an old whore?
Is what what? she said.
An old whore, kind of Dickensian one, maybe, I said. Like that prostitute who first teaches David Niven how to have sex in that book.
David Niven? she said.
You know, I said. The prostitute he goes to in The Moon’s a Balloon when he’s about fourteen, and she’s really sweet and she initiates him and he loses his virginity, and he’s still wearing his socks, or maybe that’s the prostitute who’s still wearing the socks, I can’t remember, anyway, she’s really sweet to him and then he goes back to see her in later life when she’s an old whore and he’s an internationally famous movie star, and he brings her lots of presents because he’s such a nice man and never forgets a kindness. And is the short story more like Princess Diana?
The short story like Princess Diana, she said. Right. OK.