Agramonte was her playground when she was a child. Hand-in-hand with her mother, wearing her Sunday best right after church, Ines would arrive. Her mother would wash three gravestones while she used the time to stroke cats that she had named, treated them as she would any friend, talked to them as equals.
I shall call her Janet because I have forgotten her name, if I ever knew it, and because the name has acquired over the years an erotic charge. It suggests suburban tidiness, make-up and artificial manners, designed as a surface to disguise lively desire living beneath. This Janet was no prim one. She came from the edge of the estate, noted for broken windows out of which shouts and screams often issued, and front gardens loaded with cast-offs and heavyweight litter. She nevertheless qualifies for her suburban pseudonym because she was neat, groomed and sexy, and didn't shout.
It was like belonging to a sect. There were rules, there was doctrine, there were obligations. There were more things not to be done than to be done. Sin hung over us like English weather. It burrowed into us like a slow death. We were mauled inwardly and outwardly. We didn't have a chance.
The smell of wedding fever is a heady melange of sweat and a cocktail of perfumes gone stale. This church is an ancient place which has become the final rest of figures notable in their day, names now forgotten by most, their engraved tablets dulled with age.
'Parking' was their thing. Parking meant driving to private or not so private places for sexual activity. It was a common practice in the USA, of necessity as sex was almost forbidden to anyone under 21 and unmarried. Cars parked adjacent to one other, sometimes a dozen or more and all attending to their own business, windows steaming up and never a sight of them. There was an ever-present threat of a visit by cops with large torches to disperse loving couples. They had once seen such an intervention and it made them wary.
Werner was younger then, 17, and always on the look-out. He had long been a walker, a flâneur, a seeker from an early, an earlier age. Although Weehawken, and Boulevard East where he lived, looked directly across the Hudson River to Manhattan, it was merely the outlands of urban adventure, a tame suburb with neat spacious houses down tree-lined side streets. Its big lure was its entry to the Lincoln Tunnel, under the Hudson, three tubes for traffic, directly into the Port Authority Terminal on 42nd Street, centre of the city. Board in Weehawken, alight on 42nd Street: a change of gear was required. One night, alone and bound for home from an evening with a girl in Manhattan, he missed the last bus through the tunnel.
Back at the motel she invited me to her room for a nightcap. She was an attractive woman without being showy. Tall and athletic looking she had a relaxed directness I found appealing and wondered why her husband had dumped her.
There was no boat and after ascertaining that it was safe to swim out beyond the rocks, Giorghios thanked the fishermen and returned to his friends. They all plunged into the water and swam away, striking out confidently to the rocks and beyond. Hidden from view, they stripped off their clothes and bathing suits and laid them on the rocks.
Paul himself said nothing. He knew, of course, that the fact that he had a life-size marble statue, looking almost like an ancient Greek sculpture, lying on the floor of his workspace in decorative fashion was bound to upset people. It was also obvious, however, that it was difficult for people to take their eyes off of the figure. He had had a group of friends over one night – well, acquaintances, really – and the situation had been almost surreal. Everyone’s eyes kept wandering back to the composition of exquisitely feminine limbs…
Apart from the two dentists and the patients she didn’t meet many men, and it was hard to find someone attractive when you knew about their gum disease and congenital halitosis. She had friends from school whom she kept up with, and occasionally went to the pictures with a lad, a brother of a friend, but on the whole her life trotted along fairly efficiently without a boyfriend.