I Could Hear Him Coming
I could hear him coming. I felt addicted to Fridays. I started to look forward to him coming into my room. It was alright because he always left the door ajar. No one said he wasn’t allowed, so I didn’t say anything about it. He would say hey and sit down next to me. He said I had the most serious face he had ever seen.
I didn’t like him at the beginning, but I admired his intensity. I could tell he was an alk and that he smoked and did drugs not too long ago. He wasn’t always as sharp as he should have been, but he somehow pulled himself out of his misery. He looked older than 40. He already had deep furrows in his forehead. And he was handsome—his hair was light and he was very open and sexual. He scared me. I couldn’t even look at him when he talked at first. I kept writing and researching stuff on the internet.
He was always funny and thick with chicanery and I didn’t know whether I hated him or secretly wanted him. He was a lot crazier than me and intimidating. I kept thinking what my dad would say. He would be super pissed off. This man was too old for me and too liberal. I laughed to myself in my head.
Something inside me wanted to hurt my dad. I felt sadistic sometimes. At least I could be honest with myself. I hated it when people were too nice and perfect. It meant they had a dark shadow. I definitely had flaws. I imagined pressing my lips against his face and feeling the heat
of my breath diffuse slowly against his skin. And my dad looking on—panicking and seething. I would enjoy hurting him.
But it would be wrong. He was more than 20 years older than me. He didn’t seem to notice—he would pretend to be insulted if I pointed out our age difference. He would say that it was just a collective thing and that he didn’t appreciate my shallowness. He was a gutsy bastard—as if he would get with a 60 year old. After a couple of weeks I was obsessed with him. He walked in—his hair was barely dry and he carried the redolence of freshness and soap. I wanted to hear him talk. I pretended his openness didn’t rattle me. In a lot of ways, I desperately needed it. I fantasized about how he would look out for me because he was older and knew what life was about. He told me so many things about his past.
I told him nothing about mine. I told him not to get too comfortable—there was no way I was going to tell him anything about me. He just laughed. He pretended not to mind. He said he guessed a lot of it anyway. He was apparently very good at reading people. I could tell he was manipulated as a kid because he was trying to manipulate me by putting words into my mouth. His fake sense of urgency was getting on my nerves.
Amid his harshness and his crazy internal world I also saw a naive softness in him. There were parts of him that were pure and child-like. That’s what got me the most and what I couldn’t let
go. I started to believe he was being honest about his psycho world—I wished I could tell him to stop telling me things. He was going too fast. I would sleep easier if I just didn’t know. He did some bad things in the past. He stole stuff. He constantly cheated on women. He said it wasn’t his fault—sometimes you just had to experience things. One day he cried and told me he should have been there for his little girl.
I wondered if he was just trying to find my weak spots. He already figured out I had a thin ego. His lies slid out like pus out of a boil. He didn’t seem to be the type that would fill his kid’s plate before his own. It startled me to see my dad cry, because dads were supposed to be invincible. My dad beat himself up all the time. My dad was more masochistic but sadism still came out in dribs and drabs. This guy could at least survive on his own—but I knew he was too scared to get to know me too. He thought sex and love were the same thing. He thought that love and pain always had to go together. If he was tough on me I wouldn’t be able to love him. This was his way of keeping me away and he didn’t even know it.
He was still crying. My neck stiffened and I started to sweat. I didn’t want to touch him in any way. That would ruin everything. I peeked at him for a second and then stared at his boot. I couldn’t wait for him to stop crying. I didn’t know how to be affectionate with people, and I didn’t want to start now. I knew one of the main reasons I liked him was because he reminded me of my dad—he was a loner and eccentric. He seriously didn’t give a crap about what he wore or if what he said offended anyone.
Or if his front lawn looked like a wheat field or if his venetian blinds were lopsided and broken and very out of date and could be seen by his neighbors. I didn’t want to lose control with this guy. Touching him in any way would mean I had opened up and he would not understand what that meant for me. He would take advantage of it.
There are two extremes in the world. There is the soldier who is so scared he shoots even when his enemy is dead and the other who is so scared he will deliberately walk towards his enemy to get shot first. No, I could not deal with him. I had to own myself. I had to keep my autonomy otherwise I would feel guilty and pressured. I knew if I gave in to him, I would lose
what I had gained. When I love something, I don’t let it breathe. And then I feel like I can’t breathe. I didn’t know much about love. It was better to let things go early. Or pretend I had nothing at all. It would end up being another overwhelming saga I would never get over.
He asked me if I was getting anywhere with my therapist. I told him I felt even worse. He asked me if I missed home. I said I missed myself. I wanted to be a kid again. He laughed heartily. I could feel myself get red. He was working class type of handsome, a man’s man type of handsome—the sort that would order fish’n’chips after work on Fridays type of handsome and every time he spoke I wanted to watch his mouth. His eyes. They weren’t very bright; they didn’t even look real, even when he was in a good mood—they were snake-like and predatory and sometimes their greyness flashed and swallowed like death does.
I despised myself for desiring him. I couldn’t stop feeling manic excited and aggressive at the same time. I wanted to get inside his head. I wanted to see photos of him when he was a boy and I wanted to know why his mom seduced him and why the fuck he still admired her. I wondered what his rough neck and stubble felt like. His teeth weren’t perfect and they were yellow. I wanted to touch the texture of his skin. To feel what he felt. He liked it when I stared—I could tell because he got louder and funnier.
Every time I asserted myself with him, he would tell me I was too up myself—that I was too judgemental. He told me to get my head out of my ass. He was trying to dismantle me. Heartless bastard. I told him I was being honest about what I was saying. I told him it didn’t necessarily mean I was right, it was just where I was at. Judging someone was different.
I was so angry I wanted to flick his face with my flaccid fingers so it would really hurt. But I was desperate to save him as well. I felt pissed off with myself when I enjoyed the way he
tried to seduce me and how I kept thinking about how he would move his body and if his breathing would be greedy or smooth and rhythmic. I wondered where he would put his mouth. He wouldn’t care—he didn’t know how to delay gratification—he would be brutal. This guy was a death trap.
I would give him a few more weeks. Even persistent men give up after a handful of conversations. He would get sick of walking out with nothing and eventually lose interest. He
would just move on to someone else. In two or three months he will hear my name and it won’t even ring a bell.
About the Author: Annie Blake is an Australian writer who has work published or forthcoming in Southerly, Hello Horror, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, Verity La, GFT Press, About Place Journal and more. Her poem “These Grey Streets” was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize by Vine Leaves Literary Journal.