Thursday, May 9, 2013

HIghspeed Connections

Ever feel like you're in a rut?  That it's just not going to happen for you, you'll never meet that special person? In our busy lives, fate sometimes finds a way.  Today's offering is life in the fast lane.   Catch your breath, then buckle in for the ride. It might be a bit rocky!

High-speed Connections
Ben Hannigan

The place is humid, I can feel the sweat pooling down my back soaking my shirt. I’m in a shirt and tie and I’m choking in the heat, sliding off the tie and bundling it into the pocket of my leather jacket. I’m almost pinned to the thin metal walls -- half leaning, half sat --on the cushion by the window. Watching the stations fly by, my own fault really, the rush hour tube, I have half an hour left before I get to my bike.

Looking out across the carriage I can see the mix of tourists and workers crowding the train. I turn, no wonder the bloody tube train is like an oven the window is shut. I spend the two minutes we are waiting between stations turning, wriggling, and edging so I can get my left hand to the clip. Bugger, there’s no way to release the other side because I cant get past the crowd. I fumble noisily with the catch hoping someone will get the hint and yank the left hand catch down. It takes a little while but I finally feel a little play and suddenly that ‘thunking’ sound as the window slides down the greased runners and almost, almost . . .  No! Bollocks, its stuck. I raise my hand, a closed fist and give the top of the glass a thump as I see in the corner of my eye another with the same idea.

I meet their eyes and nod in thanks as the cool air hits my back. I’m drawn to her eyes, a deep violet, lenses I think. I smile and blink letting the image lenses I wear show the picture printed on the film. I’m rewarded with a beautiful giggle as she see’s my green eyes turn to green Cat eyes. I keep the contact and we have a slow conversation of lip reading and nods.

She can see I’m sweltering and suffering and smiles. We share our misery and feel a little camaraderie. Over the next ten minutes the crush of people ebbed and flowed and slowly, strangely I was sure that the girl with the violet eyes was moving not towards the doors and the vague hope for a seat, but instead I would swear she was moving towards me.  My suspicions were confirmed when I felt a tap on my chest tugging at the misshapen lump of copper and lead hanging off the chain round my throat and though my eyes were closed, I could feel her, could see her in my minds eye.

A four foot eight girl with an impish smile wearing a trouser suit and a black fitted leather jacket, I opened my eyes and smiled “heya.” I knew she was going to ask as she fingered my “lucky charm” but as I started to speak she gently placed a fingertip to my lips which I kissed gently.

“First business, then talking.” As she said that she reached for the zipper of my jacket, that I couldn’t reach, my hands occupied by my cane.  She undid the popper and slid it down, breaking my heavy leather prison open. I sighed in relief as she saw my sweat dampened purple shirt and I sighed gently. She smiled again, this waifish girl with elfin features and reached up on tiptoes to push the garment off my shoulders, rocking and bouncing with the train with the practiced ease of a commuter, her converse creaking a little on the metal floor. She looked confused as the jacket didn’t drop to the floor as expected and I sighed, knowing that the twin canes would kill her interest for sure, even if this was more than a helpful sweet gesture.

I gestured and she saw them, well the pistol grip tops of them trapped by the crowd against the metal wall. Rather than recoiling, she scooted close in and told me “Lean on me.” Taking the cane from my left hand, she pulled my arm over her shoulders rocking me forward to lean on her as she slid the cuff and arm off my wrist before repeating the process, my jacket hitting the floor with a jangle of keys and lighter and shrapnel change. She bent into me as I leaned once more on my supports and I felt her hips wriggle down my body, my breath catching at the look of what id swear was arousal as she almost rode my thigh and knee, snaking back up and tying the jacket around my waist.

“Thank you.” I murmured hoarsely, as she stumbled into me on a particularly vicious swerving jerk of the carriage, my arm automatically round her waist to brace her and protect her from injury. When I began to move it away again she stopped me and smiled, reassuring me and stroking my chest just once with a finger tip. “Stay like this” she murmured, smiling again before going back to the petal like shape of expanded copper.

What is it?

Oh! Um, well it’s an old lucky charm of sorts, a reminder. I talked into her ear as she did mine, our breath tickling each other as we talked slowly amid the hubble and noise of London.  I don’t know why I told her, I just felt she deserved to know.

It’s a hollow-point bullet.  The bullet that changed my life, ended my career. I was shot in the spine during a house search in Helmand province. It was removed from my lower back by the medical team that saved my life. I was hit by someone, I was the point man on the search questioning the guy in his bedroom. A woman stepped out from a hidden doorway and fired.

She took the knowledge in stride.  The first I saw who didn’t change, didn’t suddenly treat me as an invalid. She didn’t shy away but just continued to toy with it. She told me she was a solicitor and I told her that I work for Lloyd's of London. I worked as a negotiator and shared a little about my role working to return kidnap victims.

She stayed touching me.  I could feel her warmth, her touch, as we talked about our work and other little things. But alas, all good things must pass. We pulled into the stop I needed, I moved to leave and to my surprise so did she. She followed me from the first to the second tube train and we made our connection and waited in the crush, still talking but I still didn’t have a name for this remarkable woman. As we pulled into the point where I would have to leave the tube, I waited with baited breath as I walked, my canes clicking against the tunnel, still talking; still I hadn’t managed to fuck this up. She didn’t care that I was broken.

I stumbled as my cane slid in the wet puddle of either sweat, piss or spilled drink in the tunnel.  She caught me, telling me that I should just lean on her, my hand snaking into hers as we navigated the stairs and through the exit, her taking my Oyster card and swiping me through the gate before doing the same herself, sliding the card back into my back pocket and just for a second, I swore she took the chance to squeeze my arse. Was I imagining it or was she dropping almost constant subtle hints as to her intention? I tapped my way up to the sign leading the way to the national rail station and waited. At that point I stumbled on my words, I looked into her eyes and walked with her somehow still hand in hand with me and leaning against the wall. I pulled out my wallet, retrieving a business card from work and pulling a pen from my other pocket I scrawled my private number on the back of the card.

“Um hey, well as you can tell I’m, and that’s my private number if you wanna go for a coffee some time.  I’m heading up to the train to Croydon and I thought, I’d um, well. . . I guess, well I hope you will call me sometime. It’s been really nice talking and um, stuff.” I hated the sound of my voice there, this sudden reverting to a nervous teenager, talking to a girl down the youth club.

My heart soared as I heard her rolling my name across her tongue thoughtfully, “David,” she paused, “It suits you. Well, as it happens I’m heading out to Croydon tonight so if you want I would love to carry on chatting and um… stuff.” She paused, mimicking me, teasing and I threw my head back laughing uproariously. Suddenly that was the funniest thing in the world and she laughed with me. “It’s Ellen by the way.” I smiled back into those violet eyes.

“Shall we then, Ellen?” She nodded and we walked up to the train, waiting in the bleak aluminium shell of a platform that was the southbound platform of St. Pancreas. The metal cool against our backs, trains rocketing past bringing a gorgeous breeze through dragged with these tin monsters flying under the city streets. We slipped onto the train, facing each other across a table I tuned out through habit, pulling a travel chess set from my jacket pocket set up ready, expecting to play myself as I always did on the way home. I was shocked back into reality by the fact that White had started whilst I was stretching “Oh um right,” I blushed and responded to her opening.

We played in silence, a nice companionable silence rather than the oppressive loneliness that is commuting alone in the under-dark of London.  Playing as we rocketed past Thames link, past Gatwick, and finally into East Croydon. She matched my rocking swinging gait effortlessly as we walked through the station and out into the car park. I walked over to my trike checking it over as I approached.  No clamp, no ticket due to a stolen parking slip, no fat chavvy “wide boy” sat arsing about with my controls. Perfect!

I swung myself into the seat and stretched, the trike built off a chopper front end and the back end of a VW beetle. The seat more bike than car with a large rack for storing my wheelchair or other luggage. The violet purple paint job contrasting with the diamond plate. The paint matching her eyes as she admired the snow leopard curled up painted on the back of the machine behind the storage plate. The tank the playground of a leaping snow leopard leaping to engulf the fuel cap in her strong jars, “That explains the eyes” she said slyly. I blushed and nodded. “Long story, but yeah.”

“So, where are you heading from here?” I asked, the loss escaping into my voice; loss of the company and the contact as we prepared to part. My heart stopped as she spoke, the pounding, pulsing in my head all I could hear.  She kissed me hard and fast for a second before she slid onto the trike, her legs straddling the seat behind me as she slid forward till I felt her breasts pressed against my back as she almost straddled my body.  Her heat radiating into the small of my back as she stood on the back pegs and slid up my back rubbing up against me like a cat.

“I don’t know,” she whispered before flicking her tongue wickedly across my right ear “You tell me.”

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