A Vacuum, part 2

Reads: 257  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
joshua pecora, part 2.

Submitted: April 08, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 08, 2017



With an expensively nondescript scarf cascading from my throat, I rifle through shop fittings, selecting a few jackets to add to my wardrobe. I tell myself that my job requires that I wear these things; that to not own seventeen suits would risk the office noticing my repeated wearings; that having but four pairs of Prada loafers would be inadequate; that carrying my AMEX cards in anything but the finest of Louis Vuitton leathers would be a crime against my profession. Marketers are the supposed savvy elite, after all. 

There is an unspoken skill required in buying fashionable men’s clothing. One must consider many things, least of which are the colour, pattern, pocket or no, buttons or cufflinks, collar. Point collar, wide spread, curve spread? No collar? Sweater? Jacket, sports, double-breasted? Tie? No tie. How many buttons opened? None? To the navel? No. Narcissistic. Shoes match belt, hat. No hat. Coat. Umbrella? Umbrella? This isn’t Melbourne.

I shop only at Myer. David Jones bothers me, though Miranda Kerr does wonders for the ailing giant. I avoid stores that sell bourgeois faux-fashion, you know, the type that is spewed out all over greater urban Australia in the form of Tarocash, Roger David, Yd. et. al. with the sole intent of luring middle-class men into the store with tight-shirted, toothy female assistants who gushes with every item tried on, surrounded by racks of counterfeit septic tank sediment for clothing. That’s $99.95 for the shirt, sir. Toothy, yet alluring smile and some clever importer makes $94.26 profit before overheads.

I never fully understood the concept of pricing in the Australian retail landscape. My profession, naturally, requires a certain degree of finesse regarding identifying and exploiting customer need and desire, using my research and focus groups to press a product into a person’s hand and convince them that they need it. What truly escaped me was why Australians pay as much as we do. It’s no secret that a pair of jeans with a Billabong logo sells for $120.00. It doesn’t take 20 years in the textile industry to know that the jeans most likely cost $16.00 to make. Yet, billabong is a multinational brand. The owner of Billabong has a property on a hill on the Queensland/New South Wales border, he has a helicopter pad and a bridge over the Tugun Bypass built just for him with taxpayer money. I know, a private bridge built with public money. For a multi-millionaire. The mind boggles. And all from raking in the dollars on crude t-shirts and skirts. Cheaply made t-shirts and skirts aside, even I, with my six-figure salary express anguish over price for digital content. That is another facet of the landscape that I could devote hours of cynicism and pessimism to.

After selecting several shirts and two pairs of tan trousers, I exit the store and follow the afternoon foot traffic west along Market Street. The wind, cheatingly cold for an autumn day, causes me to gather up the folds of my coat further. Ahead in the lanes of cars a clamour is arising, as a stationary Holden Commodore ablaze with orange hazard lights is precipitating a congestion riot. As I continue to walk briskly toward the commotion, I see a woman in her early forties hurriedly withdrawing a sum of money and return to said car, from the window of which dangles a boy of five, unwashed and bedraggled even to me from a distance of some twenty metres. Before screeching away, the woman does not fail to scream, “fuck off!” into the face a taxi driver who had approached her car. The taxi driver, being of an ethnic group apparently accustomed to receiving abuse from Australian trash, shrugs and returns to his taxi, his legs billowing the steaming exhaust of other cars as he passes them.

I labour on, carrying my logo-splashed bags, enduring looks of admiration from women and ones of thinly-disguised envy, jealousy, and homoeroticism from men. I know that I look good, so I smile where required, avoid eye contact where required, and reciprocate where necessary. I typically don’t discriminate, as most people who dare to interact with me in passing are worth my attention. Society has an odd, yet strangely comforting way of knowing its place.

My apartment is in Drummoyne, facing out on to Spectacle Island, a dot in the Harbour, and consists of three bedrooms, one of which I converted to an office, a rather spacious living room and adjoining gourmet kitchen. The poor excuse for a laundry is forced into a linen cupboard, opposite a bathroom fixed with sparse minimalistic lashings. As I stand at the entrance to my home, I breathe deeply the sickly smell of undeserved accomplishment. Any home worth more than a million-and-a-half dollars has a cunning way of massaging your self-worth whilst assuaging any guilt you may ever contemplate feeling about the starving children in Africa, or the abused ones two suburbs away. The kitchen, as I enter it, tells me I am worth it. Preparing melon wrapped in prosciutto doesn’t mean you have to counterweight your selfish appetites with charitable donations. It’ll be okay, says the kitchen. Starving children don’t know the difference between broiling and sautéing regardless. After freeing the dishwasher of last night’s filth, I call a friend and place myself neatly upon the couch. I scroll through the movies on offer and wait, casually ignoring the ratings whore Tracy Grimshaw on ACA. As I sit there staring mindlessly into Grimshaw’s ethically bankrupt face, I can feel the room breathe softly around me. It is inhales and exhales, and in a moment of terror the capaciousness of my apartment threatens to consume me.

The sound of my front door opening echoes down the hall.

She at least has the decency of changing her work outfit, using her key in my front door to float into my apartment. She divests herself of the heavy Kashmir coat she so delicately cooed over. It cost me a substantial sum, but with it I purchased a license to explore avenues into her that I had not yet charted. We sit entangled upon my sofa for some time, watching the movie with the mindless fixation that action films espouse, and finally take one another to bed.

It was not until after fucking her twice, and feeling her ensconced in the hollow between my shoulder and pectoral muscles, and listening for the soft intake of breath with each passing strand of dream, and smelling the sweet peachiness of her platinum blonde curls, and sensing against my skin thousands of threads of Egyptian cotton, and lying awake in the dark for hours beside Imogen, did I realise that I was utterly alone.

© Copyright 2019 Daniel Waugh. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Romance Short Stories