Vic Briggs’s Dreamscapes Epic presents:
“You’ll find it’s his bottom that gets most coverage.”
“Just kiss me already.”
His hand reaches out. Fingers cradle the nape of my neck. Thumb traces the line of the cheekbone until it reaches the dimple in the corner of my mouth. It waivers for a moment only, then his lips are on mine. Punishing. Relentless. Heaven.
It is late. Streets empty. He is on my trail.
I am afraid.
I don’t know when that taxicab first appeared in my rear-view mirror, but there’s no doubt about it: he is following me. I swerve off course, nip down a side alley, backtracking. I get a minute of respite; pray that I’ve lost him. No. He’s on the hunt. Breathing down my neck.
There’s a red light ahead. I slow down. He follows suit. Will have to stop. My eyes dart from left to right and back again. Heart pounding. Just as the car is about to come to a standstill, my foot highjacks the accelerator and I’m propelled screeching across the intersection.
The smell of burnt rubber scrapes the back of my throat. I check the rear-view mirror; could almost yelp for joy. Alright. I’ve got a head start. Must capitalise. There is a bar: The Bar, only a five minute drive away. It is bound to be busy on a Thursday night. Numbers = safety. I veer off to the right, new target set firmly in mind. Not far now.
Moments later, he reappears. Headlights dipped. Just behind me. In for the kill.
A knot tightens in my stomach. My pulse heightens. There’s a buzzing in my ears. I breathe in and out, trying to regain composure.
“Don’t panic. Whatever you do. Don’t panic.”
The moment I say it out loud I realise I’m in the middle of a fully-fledged panic attack.
Air. Air. My car for a lungful of air!
I pull over. Stop. Lean over the wheel, forcing myself to breathe. I look up. He swerves around my car and pulls up in front, blocking my escape. The headlights flash, then go out. Blinded, I hear the creek of a door pushed open.
Can’t see. Can’t breathe. Can’t move, and he’s coming for me. I’m mincemeat. I close my eyes. It’s child’s play: “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me. If I can’t see you, you can’t see me.”
It doesn’t work. A knock on my window. Do I dare open my eyes? …I do. Too curious not to, even though I’m frightened half to death.
It is Jonny. Jonny Lee Miller.
“Are you alright?” he asks, when I lower the window.
Am I alright? I nod. In some cultures this means “no”, but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I couldn’t be mistaken for someone from the nod=no crowd.
Jonny is dashing: a habitual occurrence in the casa de Miller. There’s also that slight awkwardness in his demeanour, a vulnerability that wins over the reluctant interlocutor. The man men like: he’s not conceited. The man women like: why wouldn’t you?
Jonny – yes “Jonny”. We’re old friends Mr Knightly and I – is not alone. A large-brimmed hat and dragonfly shades conceal the identity of his companion. I’m caught staring. Jonny shrugs and sweeps the hat off the bespectacled stranger:
“You’ve met my mate Ben I think?”
Jonny is doing his best to keep a straight face, eyes gleaming. Cumberbatch takes off the remainder of his disguise. I catch Jonny’s eye then turn to his companion.
I burst out laughing.
The shades – part and parcel of Jonny’s bag of tricks – gifted Ben a gorgeous pair of panda eyes.
The Bar: dimmed lighting, trendy crowd.
I’m perched atop a barstool next to Ben. He managed to remove most of the black circles from around his eyes, and is now nursing a sore ego, his eyes firmly set on the upside-down screen of his mobile.
I order myself a drink and get one for him too, to make up for my earlier outburst of hilarity at his expense. Don’t know what his poison of choice is, but you can’t go wrong with G&T. Gin-and-tonix: the it drink across all galaxies, according to the hitchhiker’s guide. Perfect backdrop for a heart-to-heart about life, the universe and everything, isn’t it?
“I do that too,” I say, not making eye contact.
“Pretend to be interested in your phone?”
“Works every time,” I look at him, eyes smiling.
“Not for me apparently.”
“My bar, my rules,” positively grinning now.
Ben looks over his shoulder, across the bar, to where Jonny’s approach has been stalled by a throng of swooning admirers. He looks grumpy, or pretend grumpy. Can’t tell which.
“The Sun’s Sexiest Man Alive for two years running and they still crowd Jonny first,” he scowls.
“He is incredibly good looking,” I say.
“And I?” he asks.
I think back to Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein. Even stark naked and with horrendous make-up on, Jonny’s creature looked determinately cute. Ben’s angular looks gloved on the disfigurement with relative ease by comparison.
“Your appeal lies elsewhere,” I say.
“For someone who insists they fancy me, your flattery skills are conspicuous by their absence.”
“I’ve always had odd tastes in men,” I say. Now, if that’s not praise, I don’t know what is!
He shakes his head and laughs: “It’s midnight.”
“Will you turn into a pumpkin?”
“Do you like pumpkins?”
“I like all things ginger: pumpkins, carrots, hairy coos…”
“Can you stop bringing up your husband every time we meet? You know things never work out when you do.”
I laugh: “Just kiss me already.”
Somewhere off the coast of Ithaca, the home of Odysseus. Azure waters, calm under the midmorning sun.
He spies a deserted beach in the near distance. Doesn’t have to tell me; I know he fancies a pre-lunch swim. I’m at the helm; skip for today so change course to do his bidding. He could do with a little cheering up. I’ve just recounted my latest Cumberbatch dream.
Him: I can’t believe you’re telling me this!
Me: I can’t believe you’re –!
Him (cheeky): It all ends up in the sea anyway. Just cutting out the middle man.
Me (incensed): I bet you Cumberbatch doesn’t even dream of getting his benny out – and into the wind too!
Him: Ha! Your “boyfriend” gets his “benny” out enough as it is.
Me: You’ll find it’s his bottom that gets most coverage.
Him: (presents his bum for inspection.)
Me: Ni-i-ce. You bottomless wonder…
He kisses me. Full anemone lips on mine. Hands firmly implanted on my bottom.
Him: Grrr! You’re in for a radishing.
Me (giggle): What’s the colloquial for catalyst?
He looks nonplussed.
Me: You know how you can have a safe word when you want for something to stop. What’s the opposite of that?
To be continued…
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