Friday, 13 May 2016

Escape to Prague

For audio click here (sorry sounds like I recorded on vinyl)
Almost twenty years ago I moved to Prague to take up a teaching job. Right now I am back in Cardiff doing an MA in Creative Writing. My course mates, who are much younger than me, are always asking me why I decided to leave Wales. Well, now for the first time in twenty years I break my silence and reveal the exclusive ‘true’ story behind my decision to move to Prague.
Two days before I met Karen I’d been offered a teaching job in Prague. I wasn’t sure about it. It was kind of what I wanted, but it was a big step to take. I was twenty-five and stuck in a rut. Leaving would be the sensible thing to do but the safe thing to do would be to stay in my nice cosy rut. Should I stay or should I go, I really didn’t know.
Karen was the most beautiful painter and decorator I had ever set eyes on. I guess the competition wasn’t that stiff. For example, the guy who did my bathroom was called Eric and was the size of a small bus and as hairy as a rugby team. But don’t let that take away from how beautiful Karen was. Dark hair, dark skin, sultry eyes and high cheek bones; she was sex in overalls. She always seemed to have a small dab of paint just below the right eye, and a whistle on her lips. But you shouldn’t judge a painter and decorator on their looks, it’s the job they do that’s important, and she was good. Efficient, tidy, skilful, she got the job done.
We got on pretty well. Most of the time I left her to it but during her tea breaks, I could lose myself in her seedy tales of misogyny and lust, while trying not to lose myself in her eyes. She told me about the men who wouldn’t trust her brushstrokes and had to inspect her work, often telling her where she’d done it wrong, although she knew they couldn’t do it half as well.  She told me about the customers that tried to seduce her, although seduce is my word, me putting a gloss on it for her; harass might be more to the point. She said she could handle the men, they were blunt, straight to the point and they often realised that no meant no, especially when they found out who her dad was. It was the women, she told me, who caused most problems.
“More common than you think you know,” she said with a smile. “Bored housewives thinking that just because you’re wearing dungarees you’re a bleeding dyke.”  
I smiled.
“Sorry,” she said. “I meant lesbian. No offence like.”
It took a while for the penny to drop. She thought I was gay, that I’d taken offence at the word dyke.
“I’m not gay,” I said rather too hurriedly.
“Oh,” she looked at me. “Really?”
I blushed. “I’ll leave you to get on,” I said, picking up the empty mugs and beating a hasty retreat.
That night as Karen was leaving she stopped.
“Listen, sorry about earlier. Can I buy you a drink to make up for it.”
This didn’t happen to me; beautiful women didn’t ask me out.
“Um, yes,” I said.
“C’mon then,” she said, “get your coat.”
Three hours later we were back at my place, slightly drunk and very horny. She made love like she decorated, efficient, tidy, skilful, she got the job done. I thought I was falling in love, well at least I remember thinking, I guess Prague can wait.
“No, on that evidence you’re not gay,” she said, and smiled as she pulled her dungarees on and kissed me goodbye. “See you tomorrow.”
But she didn’t see me tomorrow. In fact, I never saw her again.
7.30am my alarm clock said when the doorbell started ringing. The ringing was replaced by hammering so hard I thought the door would fly off the hinges.
I pulled my dressing gown on and went down to see what the fuss was all about.
As soon as I opened the door, I was swept off my feet by a man in black. I recognised him of course. It was Candy Floss Foster. The Don of the docks, the kingpin of the pleasure park, the godfather of Barry and the father of Karen. This was a man who rumour had, it fed human liver to seagulls.  
“You mess with my daughter?” he asked. How did he know? Did she go home and tell her dad everything? Or was he spying on her?
I didn’t know what to say. Deny it and get my head kicked in, admit it and well get my head kicked in. It was Hobson’s choice.
“You listen to me,” he said, I had every intention of listening. When a giant has you by the neck you tend to listen very carefully indeed. “if I ever catch you anywhere near Karen again, I will personally pull your insides out and feed them to the seagulls.”
“Eeek,” I said.
“Do you understand me?”

I nodded very gently, any more movement and I’d strangle myself. Suddenly that job in Prague looked very attractive indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment