A Skulk – Part VI
by Timothy J Jarvis
Part VI of ‘A Skulk’. The first part can be found here.
About three weeks later, Waclaw saw the girl on the street, railing bitterly at a young man, the same young man he’d seen in her room. She ranted, wrung her hands, he stood, knuckling his eyes, shaking his head, repeating her name, ‘Holly’, over and over, wearily. As Waclaw neared them, the young man turned to go; Holly put a hand on his arm to restrain him, but he shrugged it off, walked away. She sat down heavily on a low wall at the side of the pavement, fists in her lap, nails digging into her palms. Passing by, Waclaw saw a smudge of mascara on her brow, a cinereous daub.
‘Are you alright?’
She looked up at him, grimaced.
‘Fuck off,’ she responded, but wearily.
Waclaw continued on by, but after a few paces, heard Holly calling out to him.
He turned back.
‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘I didn’t mean to snap. Things… You know.’
Approaching her again, ‘I know. That is, I guess I don’t know.’
‘It’s alright. You were only trying to be kind.’
She laughed bitterly.
‘Well, why not.’
They went together to a local bar. Waclaw had a pint of lager, Holly a cocktail, garish pink; they both sipped warily, peered at each other over the rims of their glasses. He was reminded of Grazyna, that strange, lonely girl; Holly also had a broad face and, that day, her hair was done up in a coiled plait; but such things had become modish again then, and Waclaw saw he wasn’t alone in his admiration – several of the other men in the bar looked over at her.
After they’d sat in awkward silence a while, Waclaw made a comment about the weather. Though dull, unpromising, this opening initiated a long, easy conversation; they were soon chatting like old friends. Holly talked about her job, as an administrator at an art college, and her home town of Margate, of teenaged summers spent loitering with school friends in the amusement arcades, and underage drinking on the sands; Waclaw told Holly of Poland, camping as a teenager on the banks of the Warta River, a friend whose father made okovita in a still at home, how drunk it would get you, and how bad the hangovers would be afterwards. They spent several hours in the bar, were slightly soused by the time they left. When Holly told him where she was headed, Waclaw feigned surprise, told her he lived close by, offered to walk her home.
Outside Holly’s building they tipsily kissed and exchanged numbers. Waclaw went on to his, a feral sweetness in him.
To be continued…