Rock Bottom

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Rock Bottom Page 8

by Josephine Traynor

  He doesn’t say another word as he sets off towards the door. I let him out of the shop and unlock my car. Reece loads his groceries into my car while I lock up the store. My car is not what he’s used to, and I can feel the disappointment rolling off him that he has to be anywhere near my offending mode of transport. There’s not much leg space for him. He doesn’t ask when he attempts to adjust the seat while he sits with one leg in and one leg out of the car, but the seat puts up a fight. He rocks back and forth trying to make the seat move before the seat finally relents, and he’s propelled backward. He would have been better off sitting in the back seat, he’s got it that far back. He pulls his other leg into the footwell and then reaches for the door handle to pull the door closed. The door closes with a heavy clunk, and the handle comes away from its fixings. He looks down at the handle in his hand and then to me and then back to the door all while opening and closing his mouth.

  “Shitballs. I’m sorry,” he said as he tries to realign the handle to the hole.

  “Don’t worry about it. Aside from the obvious aesthetic issues, she’s a pretty good car. Just pop it on the floor. It’ll be fine.”

  “But will we?”

  I crank the car over, and we set off. The air is getting thicker as silence is trapped in the car with us. My hand reaches over and taps the stereo on. A few bars of his song fills the space and I punch the button to silence it.

  Glancing over at him, he continues to stare straight ahead. “Sorry,” I whisper.

  “If it wasn’t awkward and cramped before, now we have an elephant in the car,” he says with a chuckle.

  Oh, thank God he’s not pissed off or crying. Looking over at him again, he’s staring at me. I pull into the spot outside his house and wait for him to get out. “Okay, well, enjoy your Cobbers.”

  “Would you like to come in?”

  That’s a question I didn’t expect to hear.

  Chapter Twelve


  Yes. That old chestnut never fails. I didn’t try the rest of the line, ‘so I can come on you’. Madelyn is sexy as fuck, but what I’m really happy about is some human interaction and conversation. I was going to start licking the grapes off the wallpaper if I didn’t get some stimulation. From what I know of Madelyn, which granted, isn’t much, I like her. She may have tipped the odds in her favour with that bag of Cobbers, but honestly, I think I would have dragged the postman inside just to say ‘hi, how are you?’.

  “Nice place you have here,” she said as she looks to place the bag of groceries on the countertop, there’s no room due to the dishes that are stacked precariously on the bench and I’m instantly ashamed, even if she doesn’t say anything about the state of the kitchen. I can’t help to shift my gaze to her arse as she bends at the waist to lower the bags to the ground. She pulls out the milk and stows it in the fridge. “I can do perishables, you do the rest. Allergic to washing up eh? Dishwasher broken?”

  I survey the scene, and it’s like I’m looking with fresh eyes. I don’t like this. It makes me look like the slob that I am, but don’t want her to know about. I take a step to get between her and the sink in an attempt to shield it. “Yeah, was making a funny noise. Can I get you something to drink?”

  Her hair falls off her shoulders as she shakes her head while bringing her arm up and around me. For a second, I think she’s coming in super close, and just as quickly realise she’s trying to get to the dishwasher. There I go again, getting my hopes up. “Making a funny noise? Here, let me have a look at it,” she said has her arm brushes against my waist to move me aside. The beep of the machine comes to life as she pressed the button. “Was that the noise?”

  She slips her hand under the handle and pull the door open. After she looks inside, she closes the door and presses another button. She turns her head to look at me while the machine does its thing.

  “Hmm, seems to be working fine,” she presses the same button and the machine whirs to a stop. Pulling the door open, she lays it flat and brings the bottom tray forward.

  “Ahh … it’s probably not working because it’s empty. You are going to have your own eco-system growing in that sink if you don’t do something about it. So, plates go here, cutlery goes in that basket there, glasses and bowls up the top. Easy. You show me how you load it, and I’ll find the tablets.”


  “Yeah, to clean all your nastiness off,” she laughed as she opened the cupboard next to the dishwasher. Her laugh sounds so good. I didn’t realise just how starved of human contact I was. “You’ll have to run it on the longest setting, those plates look like they were made with that food stuck to them.”

  Grabbing the closest things and putting them in. I load in each individual thing. Jesus. This is going to take forever.

  “So I take it you don’t do much of your own cleaning. Dishwashers are pretty simple when you get the gist of them. You’ll find a rhythm of how you load them.” She unwrapped a little square white thing and moved around me to place it in the space in the dishwasher door. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her, I forced myself to watch what she was doing rather than her, which buttons she pressed, where she placed things. “Before it was ‘oh God – how much do I have to wash and dry by hand,’ soon you’ll be complaining that you have to empty it.” She picks up the pot with a mass of rice super glued to the bottom. “I think this one is beyond help. If it happens again, just soak it straight away in hot water. Learned that the hard way.”

  It’s weird having someone in this space, however she makes it feel right. I’m surprised at how at ease I am having her here. “So you’re sure you won’t have a drink?” I try not to flinch as I take another dirty plate and put it in the dishwasher. I can’t help to stare at her as she smiles.

  “Sure, I’ll just have a Coke or something, gotta drive.”

  I turn to face her and put the last glass in the tray. “I haven’t got that. I don’t … I mean, I haven’t done much for any entertaining.”

  She drops her gaze to the glass in my hand, and I make sure everything is stacked in. “It’s no problem. Honestly, water’s fine. So push the trays in, close the door and you should be good to go. No more science experiments in your house.”

  I almost didn’t hear the next thing she said due to the water rushing into the dishwasher to clean up the last few days of my life off those plates. “I’m sorry about the car.”

  I glance over my shoulder as I reach for a glass. “What are you sorry about?”

  “My stupid, insensitive comments, the music, the compactness of it. You didn’t look too comfortable. It’s not really what you are used to is it?”

  I reach in and take the second last glass from the cupboard, fill it with water and hand it to her. “No, it’s not what I’m used to. Your car is like one of those clown cars. Looks tiny but isn’t too bad.” Smiling when her fingers graze mine as she takes the glass from my hand. A little jolt of electricity and excitement course through me.

  “Does me well.” She smiles behind her glass before taking a sip.

  My hip hits the bench, and I cock my head. “And the music. It’s everywhere, so don’t worry about it.” I appreciate the nod she’s giving me, but I feel I need to say more. “No one knows I’m here. Well. You and my friend David know I’m here. He owns this place. But that’s it. I’m hoping I can trust you to keep it to yourself.”

  Her striking blue eyes lift to stare right into mine. She seems a bit offended at what I’ve just said. “Absolutely, it’s not my news to tell. You tell the people you want to. I know someone’s word doesn’t mean much in your industry, but I promise, I won’t say anything. You deserve a bit of time to heal. It’s never a good time to break up with your lover, let alone with the whole world watching. I mean, I thought it was you, but all I could think of was how horrible for you. Having your life splashed there for everyone to see.” What the actual fuck? The shock must be all over my face. “Why are you looking at me like that? What have I said? I’m sorry if I�
�ve upset you.”

  Breathing deeply in through my nose, I make a step towards her.

  “My lover? We are going with that rumour as true are we?” I give her a smirk as I stalk towards her, she takes a small step back. She runs out of space as she backs into the counter and I place my hands on either side of her hips and lower my nose 'til it’s in line with hers. There are mere inches between us and I take her in. Her wide eyes are full of suspicion, not lust like I normally know. I fill my lungs with another deep breath. Fuck, she even smells divine. She’s clearly nervous, but she’s into it.

  “Well, I try never to assume, but that seems to be …”

  “I’m not gay.” I cut her off and see the spark in the eyes that I was waiting for back at the supermarket. “I have no problem with those that are or want to put a label on it. But me, I’m all about the ladies.”

  That’s when the elephant makes a grand reappearance as I let that announcement register. My gaze lowers to her lips as her tongue sneaks out to wet them. The need to taste that tongue is getting too great and I shift one of my hands to her hip and curl my fingers to take a hold. Her tongue swipes out again, and I’m desperate for a taste even if she does like women.

  Have to say, as much as I’ve been hanging out for conversation, the lack of sex has been killing me more. Just have to turn on the old Reece Ashton charm and both our carnal instincts will have their fill. I’m about to make a move towards her when she blurts out that she needs to use the bathroom. I hesitated. I should have made my move by now, but she’s different. She hasn’t been all over me like all the others. She’s even helped me. I let out a slow breath and drop my hand back to the counter. I give her the space she needs and stop myself from making a mistake. This is quite possibly the first friendship I’ve had with a female in, well. Ever. They wanted me as much as I wanted them. No commitments, no futures, nothing more than hot, hard sex. I would still like to do that with Madelyn but dammit, there’s something different about her.

  “Sure, down the hall, to the left.” I let myself linger in her space for just a few moments longer before taking another step back.

  I listen to her footsteps get fainter until the room is filled with a shrill.

  I run down the hallway to see her reaching in to grab the doorknob while holding her other hand over her face.

  “What happened? What’s wrong?” I grab hold of her elbow and pull her into me. I can’t help but relish in her touch even if it is for a second as she tries to push off me to pinch her nose. I get a whiff of the offending odours and can see why she’s screaming. I cough as a lungful of the pungent air settles on my taste buds.

  “What’s wrong? Have you got a dead body in there? What the fuck is that rank smell, I couldn’t even get the door fully open before the stink nearly pushed me over?”

  I start to laugh at the change in her voice from holding her nose. She steps away from me, and I instantly miss the closeness. “Oh the other night, I had a bit of a bender, and I got intimate with the porcelain. I’m sure I flushed it.”

  She grabs out to stop my hand as I reach for the handle. “Well, I have to go. Was nice spending time with you.” I can’t help but hide my disappointment when I ask “Really?” I watch her move towards the front door. “I’ll see you at the shop sometime, okay.”

  And in a flash, she’s gone.

  With no one to stop me, I open the door to the bathroom and almost keel over. This is the kind of stench that stings your eyes. I need to get that window open, I tell myself as the smell causes me to gag. Pulling my shirt up to cover my mouth and nose does nothing, I have to get in and open that window. From the glimpses I caught, there were several questionable chunks starting to grow their own life forms on the floor and splashed up on the wall. Dodging those spots, I say a silent prayer when the window opens with ease, and I haul arse out of there. This can be tomorrow’s problem. Tonight, I want to finish what I wanted to start with Madelyn. I yank the door closed as I rush out the front door and down the steps. My feet hit the bitumen as I see the tail lights of Madelyn’s car round the corner. I didn’t even get a chance to thank her for helping me with the dishes.

  Waking to the sounds of knock at the door, my heart starts to pound. I want to hide under the covers. They’ve found me. Madelyn must have ratted me out. The thought disappears when I hear the rumble and grumble of a familiar car driving off. She came back. That thought was consumed with dread that she might have told someone and my world is going to change the second I open that door. My bare feet feel cold on the floorboards as I head down the stairs and stick to the wall furtherest from the bathroom. I slow my step as I pad towards the door and peer through the peephole. Seeing nothing, I slowly open the door.

  No one.

  I start to close the door when I spot a bucket sitting on the front step.

  Opening the door further to peer inside the bucket. There’s bleach, gloves, mop, brush, and a note.

  Come see me when you have stowed the body. I’m taking on extra shifts this week.

  The last piece of her note shows her phone number.

  Madelyn. I’m instantly relieved I didn’t scare her off completely and even more grateful that she didn’t announce my whereabouts, I grab her care package and take it inside.

  No wonder Madelyn was gagging. It’s like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. I slap my back pocket looking for my phone when I remember it’s in a few pieces on the floor of the back room, and I haven’t set up the new one. The buck stops with me. There’s no one to call. No one to deal with it for me.

  It’s all me. Time to man up. I stretch my neck to loosen my shoulders. I really don’t want to do this. I pull on the rubber gloves and take the lid off the bleach. I tell myself one more time as my hand wraps around the door handle. “I’ve got this.”

  “I don’t got this.” I gag again.

  I’m used to thousands chanting my name. Now it’s just me. Willing myself that I can do this. Shirt up over my mouth and nose again, yellow rubber gloves on. Toilet brush in one hand. Bleach bottle in the other. “C’mon Reece. Man up. It came out of you. It’s just a toilet. You use it. You clean it.”

  It took me three goes of opening and closing the door to actually get inside. Opening the window last night was a wasted effort. The overpowering stench remained stagnant. Shirt over my face as a face mask – useless. I swallow as the saliva pools in my mouth. Breathing through the nose makes me gag. Breathing through my mouth gives the same outcome as breathing through my nose. I don’t have the most delicate of stomachs but vomit, it’s high on my hard limit list. Filling my lungs to capacity and clamping my mouth shut, I make a mad dash into the room. While gagging and waiting for the smell of bleach to overtake the smell of stale scotch and bananas, I make my amends to all those that have had to suffer cleaning up after me. Vowing to send those hotel staff a bonus when I get access to my funds, I work hard, I work fast and get it done. Bleach is splashing everywhere. It’s stinging my eyes and the fumes from the bleach pack the same powerful punch as the initial smell did. At least make it bearable so I can go back in again. I start to wheeze and feel light-headed from all the deep breathing combined with the toxic fumes. I scrub 'til I have a light coating of sweat on my brow and back out of the room.

  When I’m satisfied that I have done the job, I raise my gloved hands above my head in a fist. “And the crowd goes wild!” Even though there’s no one here, I’m pretty damn proud of myself. It’s safe to say that Madelyn hasn’t left my thoughts. Even while scrubbing the floors, taking out the garbage and watching the television for an update, I can’t get her face out of my head. Even more so, why didn’t she try to kiss me? I was right there for the taking. I gave her the green light, the ‘please proceed’, even the Ashton charm with the bedroom eyes and she didn’t take it. Maybe she’s gay? Must be it. It’s not me losing my prowess, but damned if I can’t get her out of my head.

  The lack of clean clothing has reached critical. Intervention is imminent. Not t
hat I need to go anywhere, I do have a paranoia that someone or something is going to require me to leave the house, and I’ll have nothing to wear. Or worse, something happens to me, and I’ll be found naked. The media would have a field day with that. I ran out of underpants three days ago. Must say, commando really does have its appeal. Thoughts of Madelyn and the lack of restriction did nothing to keep my man down. Thinking of Madelyn with another chick and it was a lost cause. Holy shit. I haven’t had to reach for porn assistance when I have those images running through my head and streaming out the other.

  I’m not ashamed to admit that there have been three days where I did spend the majority of the day naked. The washing machine is way beyond my capabilities. I did clean my underpants by hand, they still haven’t dried. Being a nudist has its perks. It’s all nice and empowering 'til you notice you missed a spot after you’ve used the bathroom and you sit on your friend’s white lounge. I’ll just tell him it’s chocolate.

  I have one clean shirt and a semi-clean pair of jeans. It’s just going to have to do. Why do I care about clothes? The food supplies are getting low again, so I definitely have to go to see Madelyn. I mean, go to the shops. I look down between my legs as my dick twitches at the thought of her. I meant the shops. I have to get to the shops to see her. Another twitch. Christ. I have to go to the shops to get food. Pulling on my semi-clean shirt and my bleach dotted jeans, I set off at my usual time. I’m glad to say that my Madelyn fantasies have helped fill the time from me stalking social media for Sean. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and then she saturated my dreams. I’m ashamed to say that having not played my guitar for a couple of days has left my hand and forearm with a bit of a cramp when I had to deal with my arousal not once but twice due to those dreams. Even throughout the day, my dick perked up at the thought of Madelyn, I had to stop myself from projecting. Projecting is nothing more than a wish, and as much as I would like something to happen between Madelyn and me, I’d also hate to lose what we have started to build. It seems like the first and most honest relationship I’ve had, and if that stops at being friends, I don’t want to mess that up. My thoughts have been filled with the one woman I’ve told myself to stop thinking about that way for the whole walk to the shops.


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