Read by Charlotte Worthing
The prospect of naked women was why Leary sat naked on his bicycle surrounded by a battalion of dick. There was dick everywhere—big brown dick, little seahorse dick, monstrous horse-dick, grower-not-shower dick, bendy dick, worn out and broken dick, wrinkly and grey dick, up-and-coming dick, fat dick, skinny dick, long dick, short and stubby dick—everywhere he looked—dick.
The female of the species sensed all of the no-sex from him. They tasted it in the air around him, heard it in his desperate high-pitched laugh. All of the no-sex had turned him into a weird and empty man-thing who stayed up late at night and trawledYoutube for girl-fight videos. Hot Latino Cat Fight was his favourite, followed closely by Black Girl versus Russian Ho. While the girl-fights outside nightclubs had more attractive girls, he preferred girl-fight videos from the projects, with less attractive women with less to lose. Moreover, they were always better fighters due to growing up in poverty. However, all of the girl-fight masturbation was taking its toll on his confidence. He needed to get out there and meet women, pretend that sex was just another normal thing. That was why Leary ended up sitting naked on his bike in Hyde Park, surrounded by a sea of dick and the odd vagina that refused to acknowledge the death of disco.
‘Riders get ready!’ shouted the naked steward through his megaphone. He looked like one of those wrinkled dogs—a Shar-pei—his comb-over blowing in the wind, his balls brushing his knees. More and more people disrobed, flash-stripping and packing away clothes in baskets and backpacks. The naked doubled.
‘God, I hope none of my students are here,’ said the fittest girl he had ever seen in real life at his side, completely naked except for her rollerblades. Her body could have brought about world peace. ‘I have to do it though, I mean, it’s not every day you get a chance to rollerblade naked through Central London, is it?’
‘No,’ he said. ‘It is not,’ then thought—Don’t tell her she has a lovely vagina.
And his dick was like, ‘DO NOT TELL THIS GIRL SHE HAS A LOVELY VAGINA.’
And then he said, ‘You have a lovely vagina.’
And his dick was like, ‘Just join a monastery you fucking moron.’
But then the beautiful naked girl said, ‘Thanks, you have a very nice dick.’
And his dick was like, ‘What the fuck?’
The Shar-pei was on the megaphone again—‘Please, could anybody not involved in the ride move back from the start and let the riders pass. Please move back.’
The start was a gauntlet of clothed perverts, photographers and religious protesters with blankets on hand for any of the naked who saw the light and wanted to cover up.
‘Can I hold onto your bike for the start?’ asked the beautiful naked girl.
‘You absolutely may,’ Leary said.
The naked lined up in one long row. There were naked on tandem bikes, naked on unicycles, naked on skateboards, naked on roller-skates. There were naked joggers and naked people on penny-farthings, and about fifteen hundred other naked people on bicycles, all in body-paint and masks, sprayed with glitter, beaming nude and proud. The sun was shining and everybody was happy.
Leary cycled on, the beautiful naked girl holding onto his bike amidst two thousand happy and naked people rolling down Piccadilly. Shop owners threw out chocolate bars and drinks, people cheered and young boys all looked grateful for the biology lesson. Sometimes, people just needed a laugh. Naked people on bikes were funny.
‘In the mighty name of Jesus,’ one of the religious protestors shouted, ‘Repent, and put back on your clothes.’
‘Weren’t Adam and Eve naked?’ shouted the beautiful naked girl.
‘You preposterous people!’ the protestor shouted back. ‘Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward.’
‘Fuck you!’ shouted the beautiful naked girl.
The protestors had heaven in fifty years to keep them going. They were sure of it. The naked were not sure of anything and just wanted a little bit of happiness now. They were not ashamed. They felt they were telling the world they were there—human—flesh and bone. In ancient times, rites of passage involved going out into the wilderness and coming back with the head of a wolf. Nowadays, it was getting the monthly rent together for an overpriced bedsit in Clapham.
Leary smiled at the Holy Joes and forgave them. It must be tough having to be anti-everything all the time, begrudging in the name of love. The Holy Joes smiled back because Leary and the beautiful naked girl were going to Hell. The beautiful naked girl was frowning because of the exchange. Naked wasn't enough for her any more.
The naked moved on down Whitehall, past Big Ben and over Westminster Bridge, the beautiful naked girl sulking all the while.
‘This is shit,’ said the beautiful naked girl. ‘Let’s get out of here.’
‘OK,’ said Leary.
They put on clothes and went back to Leary’s flat. Leary could not believe his luck. This was exactly how his wildest dreams went. They drank some wine, took their clothes off again with the exception of the beautiful girl’s rollerblades, then had sex.
‘Did you do your homework?’ the beautiful girl screamed. ‘Did you do your fucking homework? You didn’t, did you? You didn’t do your homework. You didn’t do your fucking homework!’
Leary felt like saying he didn’t know he had any.
They lay there afterwards on his sheet-less mattress staring at the ceiling.
‘You think I’m a slut,’ the beautiful naked girl finally said.
‘No. Not at all,’ Leary said.
‘You’re a liar.’
‘I don’t think you’re a slut. Not at all.’
‘Not at all, not at all. Is that all you can fucking say?’
‘Listen –’ Leary said.
‘Don’t tell me to listen,’ she said. ‘You’re a cunt.’
‘Wait,’ Leary said.
‘Stop telling me what to fucking do, cunt.’
The beautiful naked girl stood up from the bed and grabbed his one and only chair, raised it high above her head and brought it smashing down on his television. She then proceeded to break the chair up into smaller pieces so that it could not be reassembled.
‘Go on, touch me,’ she said, ‘Try to stop me. I fucking dare you.’
‘Can’t we just talk about this? I seriously think wires have been crossed.’
The beautiful naked girl pulled his bookcase to the floor.
‘Stop trashing my place!’
‘Get out!’ shouted the beautiful naked girl. ‘Get the fuck out!’
Leary tried to put on his underpants but she intervened. ‘No, no underpants—get the fuck out naked!’
Leary did as he was told and left his flat naked. He sat down in the hallway where he could hear the beautiful naked girl snapping his DVD collection and throwing his plates out onto the street. He heard her crack cups under big stomps of her rollerblades and break his table in half. He heard her upturn his bed and break his windows. He heard her rip up all of his clothes and tear all the pages from his books. She beat his fan against the sink and exploded pots of jam and pasta sauce against the wall. She searched through drawers and found his photographs.
‘Who’s this, your fucking girlfriend?’ she shouted, then he heard her rip them up. ‘Ugly bitch.’
His neighbours came out and asked if everything was all right. Leary said it was and they listened to the beautiful naked girl destroy his laptop and phone, shred his money and flush his wallet down the toilet. She tore down his curtains and ripped his posters from the walls. She called his portfolio shit and set it on fire.
And when there was absolutely nothing in his life she hadn’t destroyed, and Leary sat naked in the hallway surrounded by his worried neighbours, she opened the door and peeked her head out.
‘I’m very sorry,’ she said.
‘It’s fine,’ Leary said. ‘It’s all absolutely fine.’
(c) David McGrath, 2014
David McGrath has won the Peirene Press Short Story Competition, StorySlam at the Royal Festival Hall and was highly commended in the Manchester Fiction Prize 2013. He has been published in Litro, Open Pen, Words with Jam's anthology An Earthless Melting Pot, and the League's Weird Lies anthology.
Charlotte Worthing trained at The Oxford School of Drama. Her theatre work includes roles for The National Theatre of Scotland, Wilton's Music Hall, The Arcola, The Bush and Theatre 503. Charlotte's work in radio includes BBC drama series Chain Gang and The Private Patient. She is also a narrator for RNIB.