J.J. Campbell

the last good dream
it’s like when warm water and soap
meets a fresh wound for the first
a hot flash of neon before lifeless
dull eyes
search for the love of your life at
the bottom of a river
remember the last good dream
you had and exactly where you
wanted to die
laugh at all the times the world
told you no
buy a ridiculous hat and pretend
that you’re the next big thing
from france
with what little spanish you
remember from high school,
order something to drink that
won’t kill us
the madness in your eyes is
nothing compared to what still
beats in your heart
we’re all going to die one day
let it be as glorious as you want
write it in the clouds and let it
fade away
like love
like hope
like innocence on a sunny day

Robert Vogt

Inappropriate Relationship

I stick my hand up Jennifer’s skirt at Hippies Pub while we’re sitting at the bar. I begin playing with her pussy right then and there. Pretty much anyone who wants to take a look can see what’s going on.

We leave and take a cab back to the college where I teach, Xiang Guang University of Technology. Halfway up my stairwell she stops, grabs me and kisses me hard, pushing me back against the railing. It appears that if I want her, I can have her right here on the steps.

I glance at the doors to the other teachers’ apartments, up and down the landings. I can tell that the danger is getting Jennifer hot.

She starts reaches down and starts rubbing my crotch, but it would’t do to get caught fooling around with one of my students in the stairwell. I send her up the steps with a smack on her ass, heading for the privacy of my apartment.

I close and lock the door and we are out of our clothes in a matter of seconds.

Moments later I’ve got Jennifer on the bed, lying on her belly as I lick and kiss that soft ass, working my way towards her pussy, when we hear the teacher across the hall entering his apartment. For a second, a vision flashes through my head of the scene we would have caused had he arrived home minutes earlier.

Also, I seem to recall something about the statement, “inappropriate relationships between students and teachers not permitted,” being somewhere in the contract I had signed with the school eight months earlier. Fuck all that, I think to myself, getting back to the business at hand.

Soon I’m kissing Jennifer’s sweet, wet snatch. Then I’m drilling away and she’s moaning, “I… love… you,” in between labored breaths. She stifles a scream as she begins to climax.

“I want you to come inside me,” she says as I get close myself. And although getting my nineteen-year-old college student pregnant would be quite a fucked-up scandal, it is impossible for me to refuse in that moment.

“I didn’t really mean what I said when we were doing that,” Jennifer informs me, almost immediately after I roll off of her.

The next morning we wake up at six o’clock and fuck again. I can’t help but wonder if the teacher in the bedroom below us can hear her muffled cries of ecstasy.

Then Jennifer is off to her dormitory, and at eight o’clock she has my English class. Halfway through class I spot her crashed out, sound asleep on her desk.


A month later, after summer vacation has started, I’m standing outside of Hippies Pub ordering some barbecued chicken legs from a street vendor. My cell phone rings, and it’s Jennifer. I’ve been looking forward to her return ever since the last time I’d seen her, before she’d left campus last semester.

She has been calling me every hour or so since mid-afternoon, telling me she is on her way back. There is a trip planned with the school’s photo club that she is going on. She asks me to order a couple of chicken legs for her. I grab a few Harbin beers to go, then get in a taxi and head back to the uni.

Sitting together in my living room, I wash down the chicken we’ve just finished with a big swig of beer. Then, sliding towards Jennifer on the couch, I’ve just begun kissing those thick, luscious lips when she pushes me away and asks, “Why does mans always want to touch girls?”

“I missed you,” I reply.

“I’m sorry,” she says, “but I can’t do that no more… Whenever I see my father, I feel so guilty. Like when he look at me he know I let man touch my body.”

“Fu-uuck…” I moan, just barely audible. I grab my beer and take another couple of big swallows, trying to blot out my frustrations.

I don’t view this girl as simply some piece of ass. I am absolutely crazy about Jennifer and have suggested marrying her after she graduates. “If you were ten years younger,” had been her reply.

I crack another Harbin and contemplate how I am going to get laid tonight. Whether or not I am in love with Jennifer, I need some action very badly as it has been sometime since anyone has given it up.

I think back to a situation in which a male student of mine had been dumped by his girlfriend because he had been too nice to her. At that time, the subject of the break-up had come up at dinner with some other foreign teachers at the school. The general consensus was that some Chinese girls don’t like to be treated too nicely and that, in fact, a number of them might like being treated badly.

And while I’m not normally one for mistreating my girlfriends, tonight, in the interest of getting some pussy, I decide to give it a shot.

“So? What..?!” I yell a little. “Do you wanna fuck Dennis?!” I motion towards Dennis Zhu’s apartment across the hall. “That fuckin’ asshole..?! You want his cock instead of mine..?!”

She seems a bit shocked, as I have never raised my voice to her before. But I continue, wondering if this act is working.

“You fuckin’ leave last semester, don’t even say goodbye..?! Don’t even come to the goodbye dinner with the other students..?! What the fuck..?!”

After a bit of this, I can see that she is visibly upset, that this strategy is not working after all. She even seems to be shaking a bit.

“Maybe, I should go back to dormitory…” she suggests.

“No,” I tell her, “no need for that… Hey, what shall our English conversation topic be for tonight? And where are you going for your photography trip tomorrow?”

“The home of Qi Bai Shi,” she replies coldly.

Later, with Jennifer in bed beside me, I drift off to sleep having completely given up on the idea of fucking her this blazing hot Hunan summer evening.

Suddenly I’m roused by Jennifer’s soft, angelic little girl voice, the one she uses only after having been a total fucking cunt before.

“I want you to touch my body…” she whispers in my ear.

Soon I’m riding that sweet nineteen-year-old ass once again, loving every minute of it.

“I want you to come on my breasts,” she says, after she’s gotten hers. I gladly oblige, pulling out and jerking my cum all over those lovely, firm tits. Having drained myself dry, I collapse beside her feeling relieved.

“I didn’t fuck you because I love you,” she tells me then. “I fucked you because I wanted a man inside of my body.”

I fall asleep thinking, I don’t give a fuck why you fucked me.

Kurt Eisenlohr

All Rotten Apple Pie and Diseased Howdy Doody

I’ve been slowly turning over the contents of my wallet to the girls at Mary’s, the oldest strip club in Portland. It’s a shady landmark and so am I—shit faced, suicidal, dreading the arrival of closing time, reckoning the end of the ride.

I’m afraid to go home. There’s nothing there. I’m always afraid to go home. Tonight the feeling is magnified. There’s a guy sitting next to me at the rail who’s been tipping nothing but twenties for the last three hours. It’s Christmas Eve, rapidly crashing into Christmas day.


I order one last whatever I can afford and toss the remainder of my cash onto the stage. The dancer scowls as she scoops it up. She’s beautiful. I like her. She’s totally beyond me. The guy sitting next to me taps my shoulder and screams into my face, “Where the fuck can you get a drink in this town?” Red hair, baseball hat, big ears, nose full of broken blood vessels.

I tell him the bars stop serving at 2 a.m.

“All of ‘em?” he says, blue eyes, bad teeth. “Follow me. I’m staying at the Benson. We’ll hit the mini-bar.”

“Right,” I slur, and stagger after him. Stagger Lee. Good Seattle band, since disbanded. I hum one of their tunes while trying to walk a straight line.

It’s cold out but the Benson is close. We get there and dude tips the doorman forty dollars. He tips the elevator operator, waves to the desk clerk. They all smile and seem to know him: Mr. Big Bucks.

I flop down on a couch in a two-bedroom suite, way up high with the pigeons and the stars and, to answer a question, tell Big Bucks I’d like a vodka, not a gin, tonic. We make small talk, about drinks and drinking, small drunk talk.

“I made six million dollars this year,” he tells me. He dials the phone and when the bellhop appears he gives him a handful of cash and sends him down to Burnside for drugs—the street. I didn’t know you could do that, ordering drugs like room service. I don’t know a lot of things.

“What’s your story?” I ask. But I’m not all that interested. I have a drink in my hand.

“Six million dollars,” he says. “I tried twice and failed. This third time, I got lucky. I started this thing on the internet, and then I sold it. Now I’m a consultant. I’m on my way to Seattle. Wanna go?”

“I have a job to be at. I didn’t make six million dollars this year.”

“Fuck it, man. How much do you make? What do you do?”

“I’m a bartender.”

“Come up to Seattle for a few days. I’ll put five grand in your bank account right now. We’ll hang out and get fucked up.”


“I’m serious—I’ll give you five grand. What’s your account number?”

“Fuck that. I need my job.”

The bellhop raps on the door and Big Bucks gets up to let him in. They do their business and I fix myself another drink from the mini-bar. Big Bucks tips the kid sixty dollars, twenty, twenty, twenty, quick in the palm, shuts the door and tells me all about it.

“All he could find was crack,” he says, sitting down and hooking himself up an empty Coke can to smoke it from. “You want some?”

“I hate that shit,” I tell him. Truth is I’ve never tried it before.

“You’ll want some later.” He gets up and turns on the television: Cable porn. No penetration.

I go to the bathroom. I check my eyes, throw some water on my face, spit into the mirror like it’s some stupid movie.

When I get back, Big Bucks has a chair pulled up close to the TV. He has his pants off and he’s trying to jerk off.

“I love this chick,” he says. But he can’t get it up. His piggly wiggly little dick is useless. He keeps working at it, breaking every few strokes to bring the Coke can to his mouth. His dick lays there like one of those dead worms you see on the sidewalk after a hard rain.

I close one eye and look at the TV. The smell of the crack reminds me of a cancer ward, dead relatives, open wounds. The girl on the TV is beautiful. I know her but I can’t remember her name.

“God,” Big bucks says, “I wanna fuck her. Are you bi?”

“No,” I tell him. Her name is Blake. That’s her last name. I’m no good with names. But I’m right about this one.

“I think I’m bi,” he says.

It strikes me as funny to think I was once married and in love, that I used to eat meals and go for walks and kiss my wife goodnight and not feel terrified on the holidays—so funny I want to cry. But that will come later, when I get back to my apartment. The sun will be streaming through the windows and I’ll want to be dead. Not that it matters now.

I pick up the Coke can, put a rock in there, and fill my lungs with chemicals, exhaling a noxious cloud of hopelessness. Six million dollars. Money can buy just about anything. But it’s not enough. Big Bucks probably won’t live long enough to spend it all. Or worse, he will.

“Can I suck your dick?” he says.

“No thanks,” I tell him.

I lay down on a love seat and let Big Bucks do his drugs. The crack makes my brain feel like a pinball machine, but I close my eyes and try for unconsciousness anyway. Why is crack so much easier to find at 4 a.m. than weed? Because the dealers are using and the stoners are all asleep.

I have some Xanax in my pocket. I take a few, let them dissolve under my tongue, slip in and out of bad dreams. Hours seem to pass. I lift one eye and see Big Bucks squatting in front of the TV, blue flickering light, shadows, people fucking. He’s squatting over a hotel towel, sticking mini-bar bottles up his ass–still smoking crack, still no hard-on.

I sit up, collect myself. I’m clean now, pure of heart, half crazed. “Hey, you know that magazine you brought back from the club? You can call a hooker. There’s a whole section in the back–photos, numbers, everything.”

“No shit? Call us one!” He pauses before pulling a bottle out of his ass. “I hope this isn’t freaking you out.”

“Hey, listen, I’m out of cigarettes.”

“There’s some money on the table,” he says. “Take a ten. Get us a couple packs, Camel Lights.” He turns his face back to the TV.

I page through the magazine. It’s called Exotica. The girls are called “escorts.” I zero in on the ugliest, most psychotic looking tranny I can find, dial the number. Give the address, the room.

There’s a pile of cash sitting on the end table by the door, hundred dollar bills, fifty dollar bills, twenties, tens, fives—the whole fucking bag of bones. I grab a handful, then decide to grab it all. I stuff the bills into my pocket, every pocket.

I light a match, toss it in the waste basket. A flame leaps up—and I leave, out the door, up the hallway, into the elevator, down down down, off the elevator, through the lobby where I wave to a drunk in a Santa Claus suit, out another door and into the street.

The sun is up, bright, alarming… unreal. The air smells of sleigh bells and gasoline, and the Christmas people are awake, making their way to where? A communal meal with family and friends, presents and ham and mashed potatoes with gravy, cookies and gingerbread houses and eggnog minus the booze, or too much of it.

They all have stories. They are all full of secrets. I’d tell mine to God, if I believed there was a God. I think God would understand.

Sam J. Drane

Why Not?

As he twisted his wrists against the leather straps, Billy Douglas realised that he’d gotten mixed up with some real bad dudes. They liked the feel of crunching live parasites between their teeth whilst sticking expired chocolate biscuits into other peoples cavities. Some real high end business-suit-during-the-day-zippered-shut-gimp-mask-by-night-type cats.

Billy had gotten bored of his solo sweat sessions and answered a classified ad one day. This one promised pleasures beyond that which were on offer anywhere else. Intrigued, Billy had sent an anonymous email. At this point he would’ve been content had a man or a woman answered, so long as they were over the prescribed age. He got a reply within twenty minutes.

It read: “Mr Billy D. Would you like to meet for a coffee or something else?”

Well, thought Billy. Something else could quite possibly be a suck session, so of course!

But back to the steel table that he was currently strapped to.

There was an old woman standing over him now with a bowl of what smelled like a mixture of barbecue sauce and cough syrup. She appeared not to be clothed.

A dull voice slowly slid into the room like a snake.

“I see you’ve met my mother. You can call her mother soon, too. If you’d like? She’d like that… She’ll never break character, either.”

This was the one who had called himself Blake. He was standing at the head of the table now, looking down into Billy’s eyes.

“Would you like a… basting, Billy?” Mother said.

Her voice was deep. Was that an Adam’s apple?

“No. No, I’d like to go home. Please.”

“But Mother can stuff you like a turkey, if you’d like?” Blake offered.

Jesus, Buddha, Allah, help me, thought Billy.

“Or perhaps Father could offer you some wine? Have you said hello?” said Blake.

Billy twisted his head up. In the corner of the room atop a tall stool sat a smiling, lipsticked old man. Again, minus any clothes. A bottle of red wine at his feet. A nearly drained glass in his hand. The glass was smeared with his kisses, and there were several pairs of panties wrapped around his wrists.

“Hello there, Billy. Fancy a drop, my boy?”

“Why? Why would I want that?”

“We thought that you wanted this, Billy. That you were committed to the team.”

“I was. I am, still. But this…”

It was then that Blake lifted the pig mask from his face.

“Billy. We’re in the middle of a global financial crisis, and you don’t have any previous call centre experience. How else do you expect to get a job here?”

Mother put her bowl down.

“Billy, I honestly think you could make manager if you tried hard enough.” She said.

Meanwhile, Father had apparently fallen asleep, but he seemed to be smiling with approval.

Broke and horny, Billy finally submitted. He eventually made team leader.

Matt Hutchison


The first time I saw her she was all hips, eyes and sex. A golden band of toned midriff displayed above a pair of jeans she must have been poured into like wet cement. A diamanté belt buckle glinting in the disco lights as she swung her hips to the music.

Oh, and what hips. I was leaning against the bar to keep from swaying and it’s possible I may have been looking cool by accident. Probably not though. She buzzed around me, acting disinterested, while I subtly gave her the once over.

Well, probably not too subtly.

I knew it was my move. She was waiting but still I leaned flaccidly against the bar. I am always a useless cunt in these situations. Eventually she got bored of the game and swung her hip into me, as if part of an elaborate dance move, nearly spilling my beer.

“Oh, sorry,” she is standing so close we are touching, her eyes are clear and full of lust and need and life as she speaks, “don’t I know you?” My hand is sliding down her back of its own accord, coming to a rest on her hip.

She moves so she is standing right in front of me, her legs either side of mine and my hand just moves onto her arse and pulls her closer against me. Her crotch is pressed hard against my leg and feels warm like sunshine through my jeans.

Facts: Her name is Charley, she’s 18, she knows my brother, she’s heard all about me, she drinks WKD blue, and I only have to buy her one of them before we are ready to get a taxi back to my place.

I live in a shithole in the worst bit of town but she seems unperturbed by this and giggles as I hustle her up the dingy stairs into the front room. She asks no questions about the padlocked door to the spare bedroom which conceals, what the police would describe as, ‘a commercial scale marijuana growing operation’ which is currently my main source of income.

We sit on the sofa. I light a joint that is waiting for me in the ashtray, the product of a rare piece of foresight, and offer her some. She takes a couple of drags before passing it back and I have one more and then we are kissing. She is a teethy kisser so I pull away and kiss down her neck towards her tits.

I know I am so drunk I will either cum too quick or not at all, so I get her undressed and go down on her as a kind of ‘get out of jail free card’. Her pussy could do with a trim but smells ok.

I think I make her cum, at least she makes all the right noises, but she pulls me away after five minutes or so. She turns, kneeling on the sofa and I fuck her from behind, standing, pulling back on those hips, watching her arse jiggle as I pound it. She has a Celtic style tattoo on the small of her back.

I last less than a minute and cum hard inside her. She doesn’t seem to mind but I’m not that bothered anyway. I am asleep in bed before she is finished in the bathroom. In the morning, I drive her home in my Rover. It has a huge dent in the door and the electric windows don’t work. It doesn’t pay to look like you have any money around here. She seems impressed by the leather seats and walnut dash.

She wants my number. She lives in the worst bit of the next town. Her mum is outside when I drop her off and I can hear her shouting as I drive away. I took her number but I probably won’t ring.

Over the next month we fuck several times. Usually when I am drunk and tired of wanking. She seems to think something significant is happening between us but I am unable to feel anything for her. She always seems to be held down by the weight of sadness inside. Depending on my mood and level of drunkenness, I am either a crap lover or I fuck her brutally, she seems to like it although I sometimes hear her crying when she thinks I am asleep. Whether that is caused by the crap, the brutal or something else, I don’t know.

Sometimes we drink together before fucking. She is not much of a conversationalist. Nor am I.

One night she rings me when I have some girl over. I tell her I am busy and she asks if I have another girl there and I can’t even be bothered to lie. The next few times I try and ring her she doesn’t answer so I carry on with my life. She’s a handy fuck but not much fun to be around.

I meet my brother for a pint and ask him about her.

“Charley, fucking hell, now that bird has lost the fucking plot.”

“Yeah? How do you mean?”

“She’s fucking fruit-loop, mate. She stabbed another girl in the eye with a compass at school, left her fucking blind in one eye.” I am impressed.

“Yeah? Fuck.”

“Her old man got four years for abusing her, didn’t last six fucking months, strung himself up one night.”

“Fuck. Fair enough.” There wasn’t much else to say. We all had shit to deal with.

A few weeks later she rings and wants to come over. I’m not sure I want to get into it all again but I am doing nothing else. Her eyes are full of fire and her body singing with life and we drink some beers and sniff some coke she has brought and have some fun before we fuck. She is laughing and enjoying herself and making me laugh too. For the first time since I met her I like her.

When we go upstairs and fuck, she is like a tigress; biting, clawing, scratching, spitting, snarling. She is possessed by an infectious passion and we end up cumming together in a furious frenzy of screams and violence. I think I might finally understand where she is coming from.

When I turn the light out she gets out of bed and sits naked, looking out the window, hugging her knees like a rescued child. As she sits there the moonlight glints off tears, like diamonds, rolling down her cheeks. I want to comfort her but I can’t.

In the morning she was gone. She didn’t return my phone calls.

About a week later the discharge started from my knob. Then I understood where she was coming from.

Arthur Graham

Mother’s Day

Norman Mailer once said that “Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.” Huh, and here I was thinking the closest we ever came was taking a massive shit. Same thing for some, I guess.

I close my laptop and set it on the table in front of me, nodding to the barista behind the counter as I rise to collect my things. It is Mother’s Day, incidentally, and I’m off to mail a card that’s going to be late enough already as is.

I’ve almost made it to my car outside before I’m accosted by a pair of young women, ostensibly in their early twenties, though looking physically much older. Judging from their stringy hair, sickly pallor, and just generally disheveled appearance, these gals have clearly made some poor life choices.

“Excuse me, sir,” one of them begins. “My sister and I are stranded, and we’re trying to get bus fare… do you think maybe you could help us out?”

The talker isn’t much to look at, but her sister is all right, at least in a snaggletoothed meth head kind of way.

“You girls mothers?” I ask, looking them both up and down.

They glance confusedly at each other. “Huh?”

“Never mind,” I say. “You must at least havea mother, right?”

“Ummm, sure, mister… do you have any spare change? Anything helps.”

“I think I can probably do you better than that on Mother’s Day,” I say, digging out my wallet and leafing through the bills. “How’d you girls like to make a quick $20?”

They look quickly at each other, then back at me in disbelief.

“$20 each?!”

“No, you get to split it.”

They shoot each other another quick glance.

“Yeah, sure!” they reply in near unison.

“Get in the car.”

I’ve been living in this town for years now, and if there was one thing I’d learned, it’s this: No one gives head like a meth head, if only because they’re always either completely cranked or just desperate to get there, all whiplash and drool as both a means and an end to the next hit. It is a simple fact of commerce that these people will do just about anything to get themselves fixed, and I am but an innocent bystander to the economic realities of that whole situation.

If it hadn’t been me, it would’ve been some other perv they’d landed.

When the older sister finally comes up for air, I grab the younger one by the hair and really let her tonsils have it.

“Your mother would be sooooproud,” I say to her as she chokes the whole thing down.

I’m so into fucking her throat that I don’t even notice the knife coming up against my own.

I feel the exquisite sting of air as my neck opens up to the outside world, spilling my blood down my shirt.

My murderer rifles through my pockets while her sister obliviously continues her task, blowing me as if her own life depended on it.

I thought that was awfully nice of them, finishing me off in both ways.

Honestly, I don’t know how I’m even able to keep any blood in my cock with how much of it I’ve lost by this point, but at any rate, somehow I always knew it would end like this.

Finally, I blow my load and die.

My last thoughts are naturally with my mother.

Varinia Rodriguez

“Kissing Toads”

Hop came the toad
He told me
“You are gorgeous.”

He sang me punk rock lullabies
“Baby, baby, baby
Won’t you be my girl?”

So, I kissed the toad.

He became a punk rock boy.

I stayed a punk rock girl
but punk rock boy wanted more.

so I learned to give up my thighs
before I was ready.
When my gift was too far in between
I was replaced by faster girls
in back seats.

So, I never believed that fairytales were meant for me.


Varinia A. Rodriguez is a Frida Kahlo painting: surreal, divine and unexpected. She is an amalgamation of ten thousand jellyfish all swimming together, forming something that almost resembles a form in its unity, but always changing. Reading Rodriguez’s poetry I’ve never felt like I’m in the same place twice. Her poems feel like déjà vu, familiar but somehow brand new. Her poems feel like ten strangers shoved together inside of a hostel and forced to reconcile their songs of the open road. Her poems feel like getting home from a trip and finding sand in the back pocket of your favorite pair of jeans. Her poems feel like photographs, urgent to grab the small intimacies of a big world. Varinia speaks of trauma, and heartache, and missed connections. She speaks of magic and wanderlust and love. Some of her poems wash over you like a cool wave on a hot day. Some burn on the way down like a shot of rum on an empty stomach. All of her poetry is worth cherishing, and the kind of thing that will catch you in your own holy moments, and having you questioning just where you keep the passion in your life, and how do you manifest your own dreams?” ~Brice Maiurro


Get your copy of “The Jellyfish Dream” at the link below! 

Paul Heatley

Do Not Feed the Animals

Janine’s flat was on the corner at the top of the main street. Every hour during the day a bus drove by and shook the glass in her bedroom window. They had to stop for the junction below, and their roaring engines rattled the room.

“That’s really fucking annoying,” I said after it woke me up our first night together.

“You get used to it,” she said.

I doubted it.

We’d met at the town’s only nightclub, both of us completely wasted. Somehow we’d wound up back at her place. I had a dim memory of her sticking her tongue in my ear, whispering “It’s not far,” as we dry-humped down the road. Truth be told, I couldn’t remember if we’d actually fucked or not, but there wasa used condom on the floor in the morning, so the chances seemed good.

Janine made eggs wearing just a grey t-shirt that barely covered her backside. Admiring her lovely legs from behind, I wished I could remember fucking her.

“You wear glasses?” I said as she sat down.

“Only in the morning, before I shower. Then I put my contacts in. My head hurts today. I might leave the glasses on.”

I didn’t say anything in response.

“You lose interest in a girl if she has bad eyes?”

“No,” I laughed.

In fact, those thick black rims looked quite good on her.

She had pale skin and red hair that was tied back. In addition to her tongue in my ear, I could vaguely recall that she was most definitely a naturalredhead as well.

After breakfast she sent me on my way. “I’ve got your number,” she said.

“Cool.” I couldn’t remember giving it to her. Didn’t expect her to call.

She did, a week later. A Friday. I’d just sat down in front of the television when my phone began to ring.

“Hey, it’s Janine,” she said.


“What are you doing?”


“Wanna come round?”


I was glad I’d been sober this time.

We went through a few more condoms. She kept a box of them in her underwear drawer.

Three buses rattled the windowpane from eight until ten that night. Janine insisted we leave the curtains open and the bedside lamp on. The buses were all double deckers. My back was to the glass, so I forgot about potential voyeurs and got on with the task at hand.

Afterward, we lay back and stared out the window. A few stars pocked the clear night sky.

“They could probably see us,” I said. “On the buses.”

“They probably could,” Janine said.

“That kind of thing get you off?”

She shrugged. “Maybe. People always ask me if I’m bothered that everyone on the top level can see inside. It doesn’t. I don’t care if they look. Usually they do. If I stand at the window and stare back, they look away.”

“And what about when you’re fucking?”

“They don’t turn away then. You know what I do when it gets late, and the last few buses are passing by? I lie here on the bed, totally naked, and I play with myself. Right here under the light. You should see the faces, especially the boys. They squeeze up to the window, like they could reach me through the glass. They pull out their mobiles and try to snap pics and vids before the bus pulls away. They look like they’re at the zoo, watching something really rare, like a panda trying to mate.”

“Why do you do that?”

She shrugged again. “Why not?”

I still see Janine. She still insists we leave the curtains open and the light on, and I don’t argue. I’ll keep seeing her and we’ll keep doing this, until either of us gets something long-term or decides to address the fact we’re in a relationship.

Maybe then I’ll say something about the curtains. Or maybe I’ll just leave them be.