Back by unpopular demand.
Luanna was attractive. She had that eastern European attractiveness which until recently was only seen in spy movies, but she wasn’t from eastern Europe. She had a very pretty face: blemish free, high cheekbones, pouting lips and the clearest blue eyes Craine had ever seen. Her accent was very cute too, that was, when she spoke English. When she spoke in her native tongue; however, Craine got the sneaky suspicion she was a bit of a bitch.
Her phone was her constant companion. Apart from showering and making love, it was always there. The rare occasions when she left it on a table or the arm of a chair, her eyes flickered towards it with anticipation. One time Craine gave her in two plates of toasted cheese and tuna sandwiches (her favourite). When Luanna began to tuck into the second plate he stopped her. ‘That’s for the phone,’ he said jokingly. She didn’t even smile.
Her phone, in truth, was his arch nemeses. Perhaps it derived from the fact he spent all of his working hours answering calls. When he returned home to his flat all he wanted was an evening of hush. But such a notion was not within Luanna’s reasoning. The never-ending beeping, ringing, calling, texting, scrolling and downloading niggled away at his core. But he had to admit she was a skilled artist in its usage. She swished her fingertips across its screen demoniacal quick and stabbed the keypad with razor sharp nails which warned him never to interrupt.
Craine’s ignorance of her country was exactly that. He totally lacked any knowledge about the place that gave birth to her. Although he asked about it i.e. scenery, economic state, festivals, religion, popular music, food and all the rest, its people as a race were harder to pin down. The only other of her ex-pats he knew was her cousin. At least she said he was her cousin. His name was Del, not his real name, but an accepted form for the tongue-tied. Del was also serial phone-a-holic. He spoke in his mother tongue during every conversation, and why shouldn’t he? That was ok too, but Del sounded like most people did: normal. Craine had no problems with Del and his phone addiction. What kind of scared him, though, was how Luanna talked to other people in her own language. It was borderline threatening at times. She always seemed stern or sinister as far as he could tell. Sometimes her words snapped sharply or the more guttural comments came across as a bit creepy. He could not believe everybody from her country addressed each other in such a severe manner. Up until they met they had lived entirely different lives. And if truth be told, there was a kind of harshness or bluntness to her that he could not put his finger on. A coldness almost that presented its ugly head unexpectedly. Maybe, he thought, it was her way of protecting herself from a cruel world. Or, maybe, just maybe she was a spoiled brat who always got her own way and couldn’t handle being told “no.”
On the morning after the chair incident Craine woke up to the sound of George Michael’s greatest hits blasting out of the kitchen. The clock read six twenty in the a.m.. He fought with all of his might to yield to the last strands of sleep from under his pillow, but it was pointless. Staggering from the bedroom, he showered, dressed and entered the kitchen.
Luanna was yapping on the phone while brushing her bleach blonde Debbie Harry hairstyle when he entered. After barking out a few chocking syllables to whoever she was speaking too she hung up. Crain could feel her staring at him while he was waiting for the kettle to boil for a coffee. Turning, he found his psychokinesis ability true. Her blue eyes seemed void of warmth as she looked at him beneath neatly trimmed puppy-dog eyebrows. Slowly, her slim frame snaked across the room towards him. The wrists of her bare perfect arms rested on his shoulders. Her lips pressed gently and mostly against his in a kiss of fondness. Then she broke away leaving him open-mouthed with his eyes momentarily closed. Then, as plain as the brown linoleum floor of the kitchen, she said, “I think I won’t see you for long time.”
His puzzled expression won little by way of an explanation. He watched her perfect ass wiggle within a pair of tight nineteen eighties blue, blue jeans as she crossed the small room to retrieve her electric lime overnight bag. When she opened the door she looked back at him with a hint of pity. Her exit was calm. No door slamming. No flurry of curses as her trainers squeaked towards the elevator.
The blissful fuzziness of a hangover disabled Crain’s usual overdrive of thought and emotions. That would come later. Right then he didn’t know if he felt stunned, maddened with rage, in denial or relieved. Opening the kitchen cabinet draw he searched for a blister pack of headache tablets. Once the two bullets were digested, he waited for them to earn their keep. After washing down a third of the coffee, sober sparkles latched onto Luanna’s departure. ‘Okay, Okay, think…’ He took a deep breath.
Not always, but sometimes, Crain was glad to suffer with bouts of insomnia. The extra time awake prepared him for the possibilities of Luanna leaving. Having planned, rehearsed and figured out mock protocols in case such an event was to happen he reflected on their time together.
For seven months they had been “an item.” She had her own flat which she shared with a Polish girl and her Lithuanian lover and a middle-aged woman from Portugal. U.N.ish to say the least. She lived on the other side of the city close to where she worked as a waitress for three days of the week, as a nanny for two, and not far from a small club where she held a regular DJ slot. They met up four times weekly. She stayed most of the nights, but not always.
Craine knew the details of how they hooked up in the first place would run through his head over the following days, so he opted to overlook it right then. With a determination that surprised him he managed not to dwell on the finer points she brought to their relationship, the things he’d miss most and, more so, how he felt emotionally without her companionship.
More pressing matters troubled him. His main concern was (not from a lack of trust, but from hearing, reading and seeing so many con-jobs in the media) being fleeced. While slurping on the drags of his cold coffee, Crain turned on his mobile and rang twenty-four-hour-banking. After multiple options and digit pressing, he sighed with relief when the virtual voice recited roughly the amount he believed was in his accounts. Although he only had modest savings, they were all he had put by for a rainy day. Next, the credit card company. He hesitated before pressing number four: lost or stolen. A kind voice asked the usual questions. ‘No, I don’t remember the last time I used my card…yes, it’s normally with me all the time….No…No…as I’ve explained already my account number is on the card.’ By then he managed to find his wallet. His card, thankfully, was stuck to the back of an organ donor card. Crain thought the voice on the other end of the phone would have been delighted that he found it, but no. ‘Still she only had to get the details and I’d be fucked…no…just cancel any further transactions…No, I don’t want a replacement….How long?…Ok send me a replacement.’
Despite the voice assuring him he did do the right thing by contacting them and that he certainly was not wasting their time, he had a niggling feeling they were spluttering out such jargon to everybody. It was, after all, not too dissimilar to his profession. As the discussion continued Crain admitted to himself he definitely was untrusting. He knew why. He had known he was for a long time. Having traced the reason back to many, many years before.
About two years after his dog, Peddler, chucked down on something rancid, his folks were throwing a shindig for their friends. (see Crain part 1 regarding the death of his dog) He was condemned to his room earlier than usual with strict orders not to go moping down stairs looking for attention. With little else to do, he decided to star-gazer. It was a beautiful summer evening. The velvet sky held a hint of a chill when the sun went down, but it felt good against his face as he leaned out of his bedroom window which overlooked the back garden. By then, Peddler was all but forgotten.
The garden was converted from the mut’s yard into a super barbecue and patio lover’s dream. Reclining on the decking, his father was in his element as friends and neighbours admired his work. One such friend, who Crain could not make out other than him having a cat’s arse bald spot on the top of his wavy grey hair, was in loud discussion with his dad. ‘Beautiful, really lovely,’ the man remarked to Crain’s father. ‘It must have taken you a lot of time to do. Was it hard to convert?’ Crain could feel the goose-pimples rushing over his body at his father’s reply. ‘The hardest part was killing my son’s dog, Peddler!’ The two men burst out laughing. ‘No, but really, turning over the…’
The rest was lost to young Crain’s ears. He knew it was said as a cruel jest. Although he never mentioned it to anybody, he never quite trusted his father thereafter. It was the bond between father and child never to be breached. The holy line never to be cross. The fleeting acknowledgement shared in a passing glance or shrug which spoke of so much. Despite telling himself it was a mere joke and no truth lay behind it, a part of him often wondered.
With the memory freshly set, Craine, just to be sure, re-entered his bedroom. Over by the radiator where the cheap carpet was slightly stained by water damage, Craine rapped on the skirting board. It sounded as he had hoped. Deciding it was best not to take chances, he slid a fingernail between the wall and wooden board. A segment of the skirting tilted forward slightly. It was enough for him to see his second master-card, the one Luanna, never knew about, was still in its place.
Only then did her departure begin to grip him. ‘Damn it! She wasn’t a thief.’ Suddenly, he felt the first pangs of separation grab hold. He did not feel so up set about her leaving, but did feel down with the knowledge that if he trusted her more¸ well maybe, he’d be in tears about then.
With a sigh he left his apartment. When the door closed behind him, he paused and looked back while considering if he should have the locks changed or not.