Heading downstairs to grab a coffee when a parcel flops onto the doormat in the front hall. The chipped white paint and the grotty carpet of bedsit land. Never mind, it’s Brighton. I’m by the sea and it’s a summer Saturday. The soft parcel’s label has that logo in the corner. Wohoo! It’s my teeshirt!
Tearing open the large paper envelope in the airy back kitchen. There’s just enough room for my mug on the countertop in among the jars, pans and pizzas. The kettle sings. A teaspoon of coffee, three sugars and pour on the water. It smells dull and fudgy.
I take a sip. Why do we drink this stuff?
Spread out, the teeshirt isn’t much better. That design looked so cool on my computer upstairs. It’s sort of flat and uni-dimensional like the coffee. Ah! Soddit. I pull my teeshirt over my head, dive into this new one. Crisp cool of the cotton makes me realize my jeans need a wash.
The coffee sits on my computer desk. Pull on some fresh jeans as I stare across the rooftops where the grey sea is sparkling. Buckle the belt to the seaside sound of seagulls. I love being by the coast, I love Brighton! Take a swig of coffee. Ugh, it’s like gruel. I do need coffee. Why not? Dino’s. He’ll be open for lunch.
In the half lit hallway “MARK!!”
I bang on his door
The sun hits me as the front door slams behind me.
Sitting outside with an expresso. It grabs my tongue and channels itself down my throat. There’s that girl! That one who’s always got paint on her slacks -but boy, does she move. I give her a whistle. She turns to me, flashes me the sort of look that wipes out entire armies.
“What the fuck is that?” she points to my teeshirt.
“I guess the design didn’t quite work this time”
“And you call yourself a designer?”
“Everybody else does, so why not?”
“And they pay you?” her eyes flash.
“Would you like an expresso?”
“I’d kill for a cappucino!”
Now that I can believe.
“What induced you to come up with that pile of spaghetti?”
“It kinda looked good on the screen”
“Oh. I know all about that. Give it to me”
“Give it to me. Now. I can do something with it.”
“Like – right now? Like, here”
“Dave” how does she know my name??? Girls … “This is Brighton, not Eastbourne. Take it off” bloody hell, she’d make a good Nazi. The warm air against my skin as I pull it off. She’s pulling off her own now. Her bra’s white against her still pale skin. Holding hers it’s got that faint girly smell mixed with a musky cologne.
“There! Does that look any good?” she demands “You have to see these things out of context.”
I have to admit that it doesn’t look any better on her. Only her eyes: she really is a vixen.
“Another coffee?” I ask.
“No time. We’ve got work to do”
“Wake up, Dave” I pay for the coffees and we set off down the back streets. Pansies cascade out of her garden, the house itself is tatty.
Her studio has paintings stacked everywhere. I gasp.
“They’re crap” she says before my acclamations even leave my mouth. She’s got my teeshirt stretched on an easel with a few clamps. A brush in her hand. Mixing a little black.
“My favourite colour” she says in a way I find menacing. The stiff brush pulls at the soft fabric draws a line into focus. Three more strokes and … it’s alive. She’s cleaning the brush. Deep crimson, an ochre and some brown. Ten minutes and the celtic knotwork vivid on the scarlet background.
“That’s … ”
“I know. Want to go to the beach for the afternoon? Grab an ice-cream?”
I mean, am I going to say no to a girl like this?