Down in the Cesspit

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 As always, I had been the first one to utter misgivings, and as always, I’d been called a pessimist, a naysayer who didn’t believe in anything. There was an abundance of platitudes — if you’ll never try you’ll...

 As always, I had been the first one to utter misgivings, and as always, I’d been called a pessimist, a naysayer who didn’t believe in anything. There was an abundance of platitudes — if you’ll never try you’ll never know and the like —and when the shit hit the fan in the end, no one came and acknowledged my premonitions. As always.

      It had started off pretty well, admittedly, especially if you consider the idea’s humble beginnings. It came to us in a haze of weed smoke, one Saturday night at Lilian’s and my place. Jez was over because his girlfriend Samantha — Sammy, whom he lived with two blocks away — was busy gorging down Tarte flambée and Pinot noir with her colleagues, celebrating sales record or something like that. Fancy stuff. We settled for cheap beer and frozen pizza while we waited for her to return and join us for the after-party. After the third joint and the second case of beer our conversations drifted away from mundane issues like work and everyday trivialities and became more ravishing. Travelling was the eternal topic. Each year, when summer was around the corner and the world went from dreary gray to lively viridescence, we felt our vital spirits thaw and once again realized that we needed to get out of dullsville and see the world. What we wound up with every time, though, was two weeks of camping vacation less than fifty miles away. If we were lucky, that is. But we weren’t complaining. That summer the year after Lilian and I got together was the greatest time of my life. I hadn’t been with a girl before (except for that one time during a house party of which I remember nothing but the way her breasts felt — seventeen year old, porn-crazed and deceived by the treacherous industry of Adult entertainment I had them expected to be a whole lot more taut — and the look of pitying disgust she gave me after about sixty-four seconds that ended with a great mess on her belly and the sheets) and I was overwhelmed with the feeling that someone was there for me wherever I went, who shared her life with me. I loved her with everything I had, for her simplicity, for her wit, for the way she always had her head up and her neck craned to see over the smog of the world and tell me about the beauty beyond. She wasn’t what I would’ve called my dream girl, what with her chubbiness and the way she always appeared a little careless, but in that first phase of unalloyed love and unity, I neither wanted nor needed a beauty queen. In fact, I was happy that she didn’t expect me to inundate her with jewelry and cosmetics, that she didn’t apply three layers of varnish before she went and brought out the garbage. We were content with everything that came that first summer, driving down the country for two weeks, from camping site to camping site, each day an epitome of spontaneousness. Two years later we still didn’t ask for much more than that. Our consensus was that life wasn’t about things but about experiences. The only thing was, we felt as if we were working our backs off without ever climbing even one step up the ladder as if all the possible experiences of our youth rushed past us like an express train heading towards Utopia and we couldn’t jump on because we were busy earning money for other people. And that evening, when we mused about ways we could save up some cash and travel to Europe, hike across the land from France to Sweden with nothing but the gear we wore, Lilian, among some other things, suggested that we could move to a smaller apartment that would save us some bucks each month. And that was when Jez proposed flat sharing. 
      “Why not,” he said, the smoke trapped in his lungs, making him sound like the Godfather impersonating Darth Vader. “Together we’d save tons of money. Half the rent, half the supplementary. Buying family-sized groceries. Maybe we could even share the car.” 
      “You don’t even have a license,” I said. 
      Lilian, always eager to embrace silly — excuse me, adventurous — ideas, immediately jumped on the bandwagon, though. Jez hadn’t quite finished talking when she was already up on her feet, darting across the room in an exuberant frenzy. Her limp hair flew, her arms flailed. I considered her for a moment as she danced her girlish jig of glee and thought she had become a little plumper somewhere along the course of the past twelve months or so. “Yeah,” she lilted, “That’s right! Plus, we wouldn’t have to wear out our shoes by all the walking back and forth anymore!” She had a point there. For the past year and a half, hardly two days passed by without either Jez and Sammy or us coming over for a quick beer, a shared meal or a couch session. We had known each other for five years, met as four individual parts of a much, much larger circle of friends and acquaintances. Neither Jez and Sammy nor Lilian and me had been a couple. Two years later we were, and the clique we’d deemed indestructible and as essential to our lives as oxygen had begun to disintegrate insidiously. Quarrels emerged, and the amount of parties thrown declined proportionally to the number of people that turned their backs on us. Friends moved abroad to study, they started to work, minds drifted apart. Some engaged in multitudes of sexual liaisons among each other that ultimately led only to more animosity. The decline came slow, rendered almost imperceptibly by the treacherous fog that shrouds the vision of those who start taking good things for granted. In the end, the world is a shithole and every single one of us is zealously engaged in ignoring the smell or calling it a passing breeze. 
      Sammy and Jez were good people and I liked them more than anybody else I’d ever called my friend. Jez was full of the kind of laidbackness I missed in most other people, including me and Lilian. Sammy was the utter opposite, a textbook hipster. They calmed us when we were down on the ground, shuddering under the crushing weight of routine. They always knew a way to distract you. They were the kindest, sweetest people in my life. The only thing was, they could also be kind of hard to endure. While I was at war with the world, striving for progression and in constant search of a way to live life within social bonds but without having to deal with humankind’s bullshit, Jez was content as long as there was a beer and a burger in front of him when he fingered the buttons on his controller. I was learning foreign languages, Spanish and Dutch, the faint idea of moving to Amsterdam to live the good life lingering in the back of my head, while Jez opted for trashy TV shows or cheap comics. Sammy was a little more of a, let’s say cultured aesthete, but she had her drawbacks, too. Of course, I could always flee home when I had enough of the mindless drinking, the dulling TV, the dumb talk. You couldn’t do that when you lived together, though, as I had already discovered when I moved in with Lilian. Things were all fine and dandy when you liked someone and could decide when to see them, but as soon as you decided to share a loo seat, it was an entirely different story. Did I want to glue myself to the PlayStation controller for five hours each day, each week, like Jez did? No, I didn’t. Would I find it delighting to listen to Sammy’s stupefying talk about her work at the hipster drugstore — vegan and green and world-redeeming — every waking hour of the day? Probably not.

      Jez and Lilian had pointed out about a dozen new grandiosities — never ending weekend parties, the fourfold love the cats would receive from twice as many can openers, even the fact that we’d be able to munch down breakfast together every morning was like the ultimate bliss in their euphoric state of mind — when they suddenly turned their heads in my direction, noticing that I hadn’t joined in the jubilation. I could watch the exhilaration vanish from their eyes like kids who run after the ice cream wagon only to find that they’d lost their money along the way. Being what Sammy called the reasonable pillar of our clique, I knew what was coming. 
      “Well,” I said, “Ah, this sounds like a lot of fun and all, but don’t you think we should maybe think things through a little, ah, more profoundly?” They stared at me as if I had just asked if they were capable of reading the watch. “Well, ah, do we look like we’re already packing boxes, or what?” Lilian mocked me. 
      “No, but from the way you’re talking about it, one could think that you’re already positive that this is going to work.” 
      Another puzzled look. “Well, I am,” she said. “You heard it, didn’t you? It’s a great idea. We could save tons of money. We’d always have our best friends around. We could reach the next level and finally live, instead of work, eat, sleep, repeat.” 
      Jez nodded wildly. “Just think about it, mate! Games! Good food! Parties! Man, we’d be ripped 24/7!” 
      I guess Lilian must have deciphered the look on my face, because here she interrupted Jez, waving him off with a casual fling of her wrist. “Don’t listen to this fuckhead,” she said. “He’s prattling. We could do this.” She cocked her head and sneered at Jez. “Besides, we’d have Sammy to keep everything in order, huh?” 
      Jez answered with a snicker, but there was an ever so faint trace of bitterness to it. Which was justified. Sammy was a cute, nice girl, and when you saw her for the first time, you’d never think she could transform into a harpy. She was five feet and half an inch tall, weighing approximately a hundred pounds (two-thirds of which were accounted for by her boobs). Her hair was a neat pack of half-length dreadlocks, aflame with a natural red that looked like it would incinerate your hand if you touched it, and there was a profusion of freckles that started on her pale high forehead and ran down her face to her cleavage which she displayed in a confident manner. Few girls that height are also that curvaceous. Her voice was a sweetish exuberant soprano that heavily underlined the overall impression that there was a beehive hidden in her guts. In one word, Sammy was lively. What she was not, was shy. While her job clearly was her favored topic, she talked about and had an opinion —however unfounded — on pretty much everything, and when you dared to contradict her she didn’t hesitate for a split second to raise hell. She railed at the patronizing government and the wicked spawns of capitalism, ranted about vivisection, real-fur garments and caged animals, attended anti-war rallies armed to the teeth with slogan-promulgating signs and loudhailer, advocated civil disobedience and the sovereign citizen movement. Being a renegade myself, I liked that side of her, or mostly so, because she was an extremist and I was contrarian towards anything that tied people together through a worldview. If you ask me, every time more than three people come together to live an idea, the idea is bound to turn out as bad. I vividly remember how once, early in our friendship, I got in an argument with her over vegans — you bet your ass she was one — after she had complained about a recent court decision to convict a group of hard-line animal rights activists who had raided a supermarket armed with five-gallon jugs of blood-colored dye. They’d lavished the fresh meat displays and counters with colorant as well as some of the vile customers who happened to show interest in the carcasses, ululating utterings of acrimony and contempt and threatening carnivores to slaughter them the way they allegedly slaughtered the poor creatures that lay sprawled in the freezers. In the end, one of the Amazons took a blow to the nose bone by an incensed aficionado of fine meat who didn’t like the new scarlet hue of his Armani shirt, the police assailed the place with three cruisers and one bus and the whole market looked as if it had been the scene of a mass murder. The activists were charged with assault and battery and willful damage. Sammy raged. When I commented that I was glad that such aggressive behavior was not tolerated and the meat-fascists were turned in, I was faced with Sammy’s unrestrained, rampant ire.

      As Lilian had just insinuated, she was also sort of a cleaning and control freak. Whenever we came over to visit, their apartment was as immaculate and gleaming like any pristine room display at IKEA. There were no dishes standing around, not even a single tumbler, be it dirty or clean. There was no dust on the shelves, no shoes or clothes lying around or hanging over chair backs, not a speck to spoil the perfection. Occasionally, we would involuntarily witness one of the quick, tense arguments that passed between Sammy and Jez like nuclear warfare: swift, merciless and efficient. The topic seemed to be mostly chores (Sammy had worked out an elaborate schedule to arrange and time everything there was to do, from vacuuming the apartment every other day to buy fresh vegetables each Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. The majority of work was assigned to Jez while she was the sole planner, if I got the whole mess right). They were unpleasant, intimate altercations and being exposed to their disclosure made me feel mortified and ill-placed. Now I wondered if I could stand Sammy breathing down my neck seven days a week. Moving, yes. Saving money, sure, count me in. But putting our friendship at stake over some inane, beer-soaked, pot-shrouded idea? I had to speak up. 
      “And what if we fuck up?” There I was. The party pooper, the killjoy, the coward who asked about the ramifications before the fun had even started. I held the four-eyed accusatory gaze. 
      “Well,” Jez commenced, “If we fuck up, we have to start over. If we indeed can’t manage to live together even though we already see each other almost daily, then we can break the whole thing up and everybody goes back to their sad little lives. I mean, what’s to lose?” 
      I thought time, money, nerves. I thought friendship. I pictured us, six months into the bargain, and saw euphoria perish, backstabbed by quarrels over chores, money, noise. I saw myself schlepping out what I had hauled in half a year earlier. And I imagined us scattered across the place in defiant solitude, mute and belligerent. But I didn’t want to give it to them in this Hegesian perspective; I didn’t want to be a pessimist. So I tried a more rational approach, dodging Jez’ question — I couldn’t think of a reply that wouldn’t imply I was sure we’d screw up. 
      “How about we keep our eyes peeled for two apartments in one building or something?” I suggested. “That way we’d avoid getting in each other’s way, keep a little personal space, dig?” 
      Jez looked offended. He was a wannabe leader and if you insinuated that you didn’t quite like one of his ideas, he got moody fast. He kept at it. Lilian kept at it, too. In the end, I got tired of the discussion, of trying to argue with reason where there was only zeal without knowledge. I gave in, and we agreed that we would try to find a suitable place if Sammy was for it as well. I hoped that tomorrow — sobriety, that is — would bring prudence, if not oblivion.

      I was disappointed. Sammy came in around two, already exhilarated beyond what a single beer or two could do, and she was received with a lit spliff and a glass the size of a watering can, filled to the rim with some obnoxious liquor, a girlish drink the color of nail polish that put her in a state of rapture within the first two or three gulps. I watched her with intent from the corner of my eye as Jez and Sammy introduced her to the plan, trying to gauge her reaction, hoping for a word of reason, a slight objection, as her expression went from inebriated bemusement to sluggish consideration and then locked in utter exultation. In the days after that night we argued, discussed and hassled, the three of them versus me. The atmosphere grew increasingly glum. I was accused of multiple sins, from despondency to fatalism, I called them blue-eyed hedonists, incapable of looking into the future for more than two days. Then I caved in. Failing together was better than ending up right alone. To cut a long story short, three and a half weeks later we had our first viewing appointment. It was a shithole perched on the top of a dross-strewn hill that accommodated about two hundred such dumps, a place so squalid and drear you half-expected skag dealers to openly put on advertisement signs on the roadside. Even the others agreed with me that this was about the last place on earth where one should dwell. 
      The next three places were of equal substandard type but they never lost their high spirits. In the end, we found ourselves in a small but sufficient duplex apartment amidst a huge complex. The place featured a large living / dining room, two bathrooms, a cozy little kitchen and two bedrooms. There were no other apartments in the building; basically, the complex was a cluster of tiny houses, built wall to wall. The stories were conjoined by a flight of spiral stairs which was declared the apartment’s highlight, openly by Jez and Lilian and secretly by me — they were already planning to install a swing and a slide on the staircase while I surreptitiously thought of multitudinous lewd acts to perform there. Plus, there was a patch of backyard for every apartment block, reachable via a patio door and that was a real convenience because we could let the cats out whenever they felt like it. I liked the place. And I had reconciled myself to the whole thing. It’s easy to block out the things you don’t want to see and I didn’t want to see failure anymore, I wanted to rest and have time again to work on the goals we set ourselves. After three weeks of planning, reckoning and dreaming, after multifaceted visions of communal life and the prospect of mountains of cash to save, after firmly put resolutions and solemnly made promises, I almost looked forward to it.

      We moved in on Saturday, the first of July. It was hot beyond tolerability, beyond what I had expected and hoped for through the everlasting cold of the deadening winter. I hauled furniture with Jez, expecting the wood to become moldy with all the sweat I poured in through my hands. We schlepped, we drilled, we assembled and cursed. And we drank. In the evenings we sat on the patio, befuddled by the abundance of beer and lack of nutrition, worn out, devastated but filled with the sense of accomplishment. We laughed and smoked and had a good time, planning and finding solutions to major and minor difficulties. For the first week or so there was no routine, no cohabitation, only work and suffering and a perpetual stream of ideas and compromises. Then came Sunday and we rested. The cats, haggard-looking and alert, emerged from their refuge under the bed, lured by the hush. From that point on, normality set in. Or what we’d call normality, anyway. I didn’t know it back then, but that was the point where we started to take things for granted, where decline set in once again, unnoticed and sly.

      It was Monday morning, eight o’ clock, and I was sitting amidst a clutter of half-empty boxes filled with all kind of tripe — about a million pots, sieves and glasses, slathers of body cream, hair conditioner, hair wax, hair oil and hair color, not to speak of the heaps of books, piles of CDs and DVDs and undifferentiated stacks of outright rubbish that found its way into our lives, mainly due to Sammy’s affiliation with the cosmetics and housewares sector. We had all taken a week off from work to acclimatize ourselves to the new surroundings, the new lifestyle and all the small and big consequences and repercussions it brought in its wake. Jez was in the kitchen, hunched over a pan of scrambled eggs. I tried my best not to doze off after one of the worst nights of my life when Lilian came staggering down the stairs prematurely. She normally didn’t lift a foot from the bed before the clock hit eleven when she had a day off, and she looked like it, too. As she descended, I eyed her with nothing less than shock. She looked like a sack of flour, dressed in her eight-year-old ragged pajamas, her hair a mess, to say the least, the mass of her body sagging and appearing bigger and plumper than ever before. I felt embarrassed. Mortified. I stole a glance in the direction of the kitchen to see if Jez was already done and about to behold her in all her shabbiness before I turned my head and peered at Sammy, my guts flooding with envy. She sat there barefoot, barelegged, dressed only in a pair of panties the color of angels’ wings and a sleeveless, skin-tight top. She had her legs drawn to her chest, the flesh of her thighs firm and perfect, her butt small and round like something extracted from a book about geometry, her skin soft-looking and smooth. I got a hard-on. 
      “Morn’,” said Lilian and I looked up at her, startled, realizing that I had stared at Sammy’s legs and behind for the past twenty seconds or so. I averted my eyes and mumbled a reply, wondering if she’d caught me. I was thinking for a reason to lure her upstairs then, so I could get her to change (and maybe take a shower with her to come down a little) when Jez popped out from the kitchen, wielding plates of eggs and bacon, yelling “Diner’s ready!”.

      For a while, everything went relatively fine. We started working again, routine set in. We would watch TV together, or engage in mindless idle chatter, play video games and devour lazily thrown together meals as I had envisioned, but I also found time to study, to read, to be for myself. Sammy didn’t turn out to be the imperious demon I dreaded her to be and I think it’s only fair to say that we even benefitted from her presence. Had Lilian and I formerly — and most often tacitly — agreed to ditch the dishes in favor of parking our asses on the couch, or waited a day or two too long before we condescended to sweep the floor, we were now actively engaging in household tasks of any kind and overall improving our feeling for tidiness and a decent way of living. Jez, on the other hand, spent far less time idling away in front of the TV than I had anticipated. He even began to pick up practice on his guitar after two years of excuses and delay. As for Lilian and me, things went better than expected at first. Two days before we moved in, she had finally given voice to what concerns she had: She feared that due to the constant presence of our best friends, we wouldn’t spend much more time as a couple anymore. As turned out, though, we would often withdraw to our private room, watching TV, clandestinely laughing about Sammy’s health-fad and myriads of cosmetic products that piled up in the communal bathroom or Jez utter cluelessness. There was something else that changed, however. We cuddled less. Sex became an occasion. The proximity of Jez and Sammy was always palpable. It was no place for intimacy, or so I thought then.

      There were portents of the detonation, sure. Insidious indications that, in retrospect, must have been obvious, but, — think of the cesspit — we ignored them collaboratively and when the blast came, we weren’t prepared. We had gone through with the whole communal business for a little more than two months when Jez broke down. There had been a handful of minor arguments between him and Sammy before, but that was nothing that didn’t happen to any relationship and it wasn’t too uncomfortable. Another two or three times I had stumbled into one of their nasty, passive-aggressive quarrels, but I didn’t think too much about it — or pegged my nose, rather. Then, however, one Friday afternoon when I was preparing pizza dough for the next evening; Jez’ furious, anger-soaked cry suddenly came down from the floor above and made me jump. I didn’t understand his words and figured he was playing some weird video game and losing the battle when the door to their room flew open with full force and there were footsteps in the hallway above. I heard Sammy’s voice, determined and disturbingly stolid. She accused him of throwing a tantrum over a trifle and asked him to come back and discuss things, to which Jez reacted by calling her — with utter wholeheartedness— “The Hitler of relationships” as well as a self-opinionated, bossy bitch. Then he came running down the stairs like a madman, snatched a beer from the fridge without treating me to even so much as a glance, grabbed his jacket and was off. It’s been nearly nine months now and I’ve seen him only twice since.

      After he was gone I didn’t know what to do. I felt weird standing in the kitchen, kneading dough as if nothing happened, but I also didn’t want to go upstairs and stick my nose into shit that didn’t come out of my ass. Then, however, I heard the soft, heart-wrenching sound of Sammy’s weeping. If Lilian had been home instead of working late shift, I guess everything would have turned out different, but as it were we were the only two persons in the house and someone had to go and look after her, right? So what I did was put away my Chef’s apron, wipe my hands clean of flour and sticky crumbs of dough and hesitatingly climb the stairs, thinking of a good opening for the talk that was to come. 
      She sat on the bed, crying gently. In my conception of the world, Sammy was invulnerable, an effigy of raw energy and determination. Unbreakable. Now she was sunken into herself, her head halfway buried in the cradle of her arms and big beads of tears falling from her face, soaking the pillow in her crotch. And she was small, so small. 
      “Hey,” I purred. “What’s wrong?” 
      She was startled by my voice, by the intruder that ambushed her in her weakest moment and when she looked up at me, there was nothing but sheer spite in her eyes. “Go away!” she shouted. I drew back. 
      “I, ah, just wanted to see if everything is alright with you, because, ah — “ I was terribly aware of my own voice sounding like a mistuned whistle, a feeble whine that even I found creepy. I thought of fleeing, of moving houses, of dissolving into thin air. 
      “Well, obviously not! You can see that, can’t you?” She spat the words, filling them with artificial strength and in that moment I thought that everything she was was mere pretense, a way of concealing her insecurity. I sat down on a chair next to the bed. 
      “Yes,” I said. “Yes, I can see that.”

Six hours later I woke to the ferocious attack of stark naked artificial light on my wasted eyes and found that the world had started to spin counter-clockwise while jumping up and down like a trampolinist. Then I noticed that my brain had melted in my skull and was now a viscous dollop of sludge. I threw up on the floor before I noticed Lilian. She had come home from her night shift and was now standing in the middle of the room, staring at me and the puddle of spew in front of me with about the same expression a member of some deeply buried Amazonian native tribe would give you if you showed them how to play Videogames with VR-Goggles. I was drunk, profoundly, hammered beyond reasonable reactions or even so much as remotely human behavior, but I was still able to feel a surge of guilt and mortification rush over me like the Deluge. What had I done? Well, after I sat down in Sammy’s room she had calmed down quickly and tried to explain what had happened between her and Jez. To cut a long story short, in spite of the circumstances she was talkative as always and meandered off the original topic in no time. She told me how she and Jez had reached a point where everything that once had been a source of joy somehow had become a landmine, ready to get stepped on and blow you away before you knew what was happening. She didn’t tell me what exactly had been the issue that night, or maybe she did and I just can’t remember, but she gave me a pretty clear picture of their relationship. It was an image of decrepitude and mutual loathing that had painted itself over the course of the years, and that, viewed from a more involved point of view, was just as dull and routine, was just as worn as that of me and Lilian. When the first onrush of hard emotions, of anger and grief and insecurity was over, the floodgates opened and she drifted off to her personal life, which I really knew all but nothing about. We had known each other for so long and yet I felt like meeting her for the first time all over again. At some point I went downstairs and snatched a bottle of wine, partly because I wanted to overcome that feeling of awkwardness that lingered in the back of my head, whispering into my ear that it was strange to talk about such intimate topics with the girlfriend of my best friend and cohabitee, partly because I enjoyed the moment and wanted it to last. When three quarters of the bottle were gone I went down again, rolled a spliff and brought four beers and a bottle of Jägermeister. The hours flew along, propelled by words. Tears were shed, laughs shared. At one point she had her head on my shoulder, crying and screaming out what she had tried to sweep under the rug in order to save her relationship. I held her head and stroked her hair. My memory gets blurry after that, but I know for a fact that I went downstairs at least once more, even though I don’t know what I brought up that time. I also can’t remember when I went to my room or how the talk ended. I remember the look on Lilian’s face, though. 
      “What the hell?” That was her opening. And then, after she had helped me up and put me down on the bed, inspecting my face like an entomologist would ponder the carcass of a mutated species. 
      “Are you drunk?” 
      I nodded. 
      “Why, on earth? Don’t you have to go to work tomorrow?”

      I’m pretty sure you can see where things were going by now, so I won’t bore you with extraneous prattle. Two days later — Lilian worked yet another late-night shift — I was showering when suddenly the door to the bathroom flew open and Sammy came walking in about as casually as she would have walked into the corner to store to grab a gluten-free chocolate bar. I was facing her, nude and stupefied. I think I was gaping, too. She gave me a nonchalant smile, picked up some of her cosmetics and walked out without even so much as a word. If you think I was dazzled by that, picture me when I went downstairs about an hour later (after I’ve heard her entering the bathroom and taking a shower as well) and found her standing in the kitchen, wearing nothing but a pair of black see-through panties. She turned around when she heard my noise of astonishment — I think it was something imbecile like Wo-ho! — and I wanted to back off, to turn on my heel and ran up the stairs to lock myself in my room of chastity, I really did. But I didn’t. 
      I stared at her, at her perfection, at her breasts that were firm and smooth as if carved out of the finest marble, at her soft, curvaceous hips that curved down to her thighs in a short, smooth arch, at her tummy and her navel, flat and tight. She stared at me, unrelenting, lascivious, licking her lips. Then she drew down her panties in a single slow motion, her hips stirring and thrusting, to reveal even the last part of her, sleek and silken and pure.

      Lilian moved out almost exactly six months after we’d hauled in the first box of bric-a-brac that constituted our bourgeois life. Looking back, I can’t really fathom how we managed to hide the affair for almost three months, but then again Lilian was also down in the cesspit. Once or twice she found parts of Sammy’s underwear under the table or in the gap beside the couch, debris of the impetuous nooners that we indulged in when we had the place for ourselves during Lilian’s work hours. She’d mention them when we all three sat at the same table eating supper and listen to Sammy’s jittery overwrought jokes about abstractedness and my horse laughs. We knew that she knew it. No one said a word. The days crept by in a tarlike manner, dark and thick and stinking. One night, when we lay three miles away from each other in the same bed and the darkness suffocated us, she began to sob and whispered the verdict: “You fuck her, huh?” I said nothing and a hundred aeons passed. Then she got up and was off.

      We fucked on for three more months. Then we clashed. The segregation came as swift and fierce as the inception, but its unpleasantness exceeded the initial joy by far. Turns out I hate her dumb self-righteous face and her perpetual dross-talking much more than I crave her tight flesh and peerless pussy. If I didn’t miss Lilian more than an ulcer on my ass in the first weeks where I banged the sorry remains of Sammy’s tree-hugger brains out of her, I do miss her now. All’s gone to shit. But I prophesized it, haven’t I? The world is a shithole and we’re down in the cesspit, and what’s going to come down, comes down. Occasionally a lump of it is solid enough to go try and climb up some inches, but in the end, you’re going to drown. Say that, though, and they’re calling you a pessimist.

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