4. Aviator sunglasses. A sexual interest in fruit. The lime green grass of home.
Kuper wakes to find Antonio standing in the doorway of his bedroom, head stooped, thick arms pressing against the jambs. Locks of his hair, like horns, stick up on end where they must have rubbed on the sofa cushions throughout the night.
And so it wasn’t a dream, none of it.
It had been well into the early hours of the morning when finally Kuper had left Antonio stretched on the couch, snoring, and retired to his own narrow bed. He couldn’t remember falling asleep or masturbating three times, only the tissues in varying states of stiffness attested to that.
“I can’t bear it any longer.”
Antonio takes his aviator sunglasses from out of the pocket of the jogging bottoms Kuper has borrowed him, and which are stretched extremely tightly over his muscular thighs, and slides them over his eyes.
“Like a hamster in a hammock I can’t’ve slept a single wink. And you, tossing and turning all night! I’m going out to check on the situation.”
He turns, turns back.
“Perhaps Vronski the former has driven his tractor at the wall and bashed a hole right through it. He always was a firestorm. Remember when the government raised the price of red diesel? I thought he was going to burn down parliament with that blasted President in it. But he was right with his talk of civil disobedience. Sometimes you’ve got to show those bastards in power what for.”
Kuper listens as Antonio descends the stairs, listens to the sound of the door opening, closing.
His visitor, for the moment, gone Kuper brushes down his nightshirt, little embroidered cows, or foxes, dancing around its hem, and goes into the living-room. He stands and looks at the place where Antonio has slept, the way the duvet is ruffled, bent back upon itself and at the cushions that have cosseted the huge body all night.
“What are you? A goddam letch? Going dewy-eyed over a space where someone recently was? Imbecile!”
He is about to go into the kitchen when he notices Antonio has set out his sodden clothes on the drying frame that is usually stored on two hooks behind the door of the living-room. He goes over and, after giving it some careful thought, lifts off the underwear.
The briefs are made from a stretchy bright red material and have the name of a well-known clothes designer, Aphrodite Fashions, repeated again and again on the elasticated waist.
After some more careful consideration Kuper threads his arms through the leg holes of the briefs, I’ll be coming round the mountain when I come, and rucks the pants up past his elbows. Then he moves his arms in a walking motion.
"I am Antonio. That’s me.”
He tries to mimic Antonio’s distinctively strong voice.
"Welcome to our establishment. We have a whole range of packages... You haven't heard of video postcards? Well, let me explain. The concept is quite simple. Just think of it as a tiny home movie we upload directly to your phone. Or wherever!”
He has continued to move his arms as he talks and as a result of this the pants have continued to move further and further up his arms until, having no further to go, their crotch comes to rest like a kind of doctor’s mask right across his mouth and chin.
As he is smothered by an odiferous mouthful of the material the ridiculousness of the situation comes to him.
And what if Antonio should return? Then he should be found out to be some low pervert, like Finklestein who was found making love to an apricot and subsequently, in court, admitted that he regularly loved fruit and one day hoped to be bonded in matrimony to a banana.
With some difficulty, his arms having become cinched together, the briefs forming a kind of brace, he manages to extricate himself.
Just in time.
Downstairs he hears the bell tinkling and going into the kitchen he comes out again holding an egg in each hand, hopeful that he will have given the impression of being busy, in the same way television cooks appear busy, when Antonio ascends the stairs.
Antonio, a Gauloises still burning in the corner of his mouth, barely gives him or the breakfast eggs a glance. Letting out a yelp of anguish he brings one of his fists down on the table, causing the toast rack to bounce up into the air and one of the pieces of toast to go skittering across the table.
"That wall is there sure enough! There’s a whole load of people out there. Some are crying. Some are banging their fists against it. We are trapped here just like stinking pigs in a pen while Claudette de la Rivière is there on the other side, my little baby growing in her womb. Tell me, what am I going to do?”
Shrugging, Kuper returns to the kitchen. As he cracks first one egg and then another into the frying pan he begins to whistle a little tune.
The lime green grass of home…
Image from Pixabay