Gavin lifts himself off me, slumps by my side and strokes the bristles of his hipster beard in his personal, post-coital glow of satisfaction – less sociable than lighting a joint but tidier, I suppose.
‘Was that OK for you, Ellie?’ he asks.
‘Sure. It was really, really … OK!’ I reply enthusiastically, while wondering if it’s just two years of living together or am I really as fucking undesirable as I currently feel.
Unsurprisingly, this grabs Gavin’s attention when he thinks I’ve rolled over to sleep. Doesn’t stop him waking me up when he finds something he likes. But it’s not ‘Aphrodisiac Secrets of Asparagus’ or the rather divine-sounding ‘Massage Her Ear Lobes with Ylang-Ylang Oil’.
No. It’s ‘Star in Your Own Sex Romp’. It’s got Gavin very excited and not only because he’s got an MA in Swedish seventies cinema-noir.
‘If it’s a fancy video camera you want, forget it. We’re saving for a deposit,’ I say.
‘No need. There was this proper film in the cinema recently that was actually filmed completely on an iPhone.’
‘An iPhone? It gets worse. You want to live stream it on the internet?’
He takes rather too long to reply. ‘No. It’s not the film itself that’s the point. It’s the process – the thrill of being watched.’
He’s getting psychological now, knows how to hit a publishing girl’s weak spots.
‘Don’t worry. We’ll use your iPhone, Ellie.’
‘So if we used my iPhone I could delete it straight away, yeah?’
‘Problem is I don’t. My old iPhone 4’s full of all those horny selfies that I sent you…’
Fuck! I think I’ve incriminated myself.
‘Before we moved in together?’ he finishes for me with a point-proven smirk. ‘And besides, with our knowledge of cinematic tropes we’d obviously be creating a pastiche.’
‘An ironic take on seventies cheesy-porn for the twenty-first century? Bored housewife welcomes the fridge-repair engineer into the house complete with massive tool?’
Hey? It’s our first laugh together for the past fortnight.
‘Or the window cleaner’s dragged through the dormitory window by a bunch of nymphomaniac nurses,’ he suggests, somewhat too eagerly.
I’d thought threesomes were off the agenda ever since the time when I sent micro-skirted Natasha the intern storming out of the dinner party in floods of tears. And he’d had the gall to suggest to her it was my idea! Revenge is still on my menu.
‘If we are going to do this, there’s only room in shot for one soft-focus sex kitten purring moans of delight,’ I say firmly.
‘Merely considering authenticity.’ His bearded grin drops, betraying markedly less enthusiasm for the idea.
Just as the bastard had got me interested.
I know I’m not stunningly attractive but I’m more than OK and he’s planted an image – the camera obsessively in love with me, its object of pure, lustful desire. It’s got fixed into the back of my mind and I’m annoyed with myself that I can’t let it go. Much as I should, I can’t give Gavin the big, straight ‘No’.
‘And where would we film this hommage á Eurotrash?’ I ask. ‘You’ve spent the last two years obsessing this flat into the ultimate in Dalston hipster cool.’
‘I have an idea,’ he replies.
Late next evening we cycle from Stokie to Edmonton. We loiter around the showroom with stubby pencils and yellow IKEA bags over our shoulders. Five minutes from closing time when no staff are watching we find the kitschiest bedroom in the place and leap into a pine wardrobe. This is promising. Undressing in a confined space is actually rather fun. Later, when all’s quiet, we edge open the door, eager to film in the king size divan. IKEA really is an inspired choice – after all, most of its products seem to be named after seventies Scandi porno flicks.
But tiptoeing out we discover the eco-friendly Swedes have turned off all the lights– only a sickly green glow emanates from the emergency exits. The bedroom’s so tiny you couldn’t swing a cat o’nine tails, never mind get a decent angle for the iPhone. And I insist, we don’t put it into panorama mode. I don’t want my humping arse expanded to the size of the bloody Andes.
Fear of being caught as well as the voyeuristic thrill of being watched means we’re horny as fuck and go for it in the dark like rabbits on speed. When I review the grainy video later, we’re more like a pair of copulating badgers from Springwatch, caught in Clissold Park in infrared. And that’s only the sort of skin flick that you’re going to get off on if you’re Chris Packham or Michaela Strachan.
We stroll through the checkouts next morning with piles of retro cushions and dozens of packets of tea-lights – props for our next take. Don’t they say home is where the heart is?
Ever the romantic, Gavin’s ordered a selfie-stick from Amazon. ‘This one’s got a hinged arm and remote-control zoom – brilliant for those close-ups.’
Ever an immersive actress, I decide to go fully into character – a hybrid of Emmanuelle and a bored Jodhpur manufacturer’s wife from Jilly Cooper. My curly tresses cascade over a fluffy dressing gown which covers a sheer, transparent négligée and the tiniest, lacy G-String.
Gavin’s decked out in checked lumberjack shirt and quick-unfastening workman’s dungarees. Nothing on underneath. But the action’s on hold. He’s hunched over his Macbook, cursing: ‘Fucking Amazon. My order’s been “out for delivery” since yesterday.’
‘I’m not waiting here all dolled-up and ready to go for the sake of a selfie-stick.’ I reapply my blood-red lipstick as passive-aggressively as I can manage.
‘No worries. Same model’s available: Click and Collect, Argos, Dalston. Half an hour on the bike.’ He stands up and winks. ‘Maybe I could charm the girl from Collection Point A into joining us?’
Christ Almighty. He’s a decent-looking guy and he’s getting-off on hitting on a girl from Dalston Argos for a threesome? There’s no point replying.
He bounds off like a dog on heat (or a dog on heat on a bike) and I pour myself a Cinzano and light a method Silk Cut to keep me in the mood. The sleepless night in IKEA’s catching up on me and I drift away momentarily.
I wake with a start. The door intercom’s buzzing. Has the prick forgotten his keys?
‘Amazon.’ A deep Eastern European voice booms through the speaker.
‘By the front door. It’ll be fine.’ I’m hardly dressed to take a bloody delivery.
Fuck! How much has he spent on this bloody gadget?
‘OK. First floor, on the left.’ I buzz him through.
I fasten the door-chain. He knocks. I open it just enough to sign for the thing.
‘I have big package.’
‘Sorry, won’t be a second.’
I unfasten the chain and open the door wide. The box is indeed preposterously large. The guy’s a little hesitant handing it over. I finally realise my ridiculously skimpy dressing gown has fallen open, revealing…well…pretty much everything. He’s not shy about taking a good look – evidently not English. I move to slam the door shut but realise I’ve not signed for the parcel.
Maybe I’ve had too many Cinzanos but Amazon Man, dressed in leather jacket, tight jeans and boots is improbably good-looking in that Arnie-Terminator kind of way. He smiles, handing over a tablet with a stylus.
‘How long until your next drop-off?’ I ask innocently, retaining the tablet.
‘Nineteen minutes, thirty seconds, Manor Park.’
Hmm. Those girls at Argos are never speedy even when they’re not being propositioned by a randy hipster. Besides, it takes Gavin ten minutes to chain his bike up in Dalston.
‘And why the hell not?’ I think. Gavin never resisted when Natasha offered herself up for extra-curricular studies.
Isn’t this called serendipity?
I whisper: ‘Surely you can program in ten minutes for a comfort break?’
I close the door as he enters. He immediately removes that leather jacket, revealing the bulgiest biceps I’ve ever seen in N16. And the way he looks at me, it’s like I’m the only woman left alive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (sorry Stokie). Avoiding ambiguity I slip on my heels and strut my sexiest walk along the hallway carpet. The guy’s pacing a couple of steps behind me. I can feel his eyes fixed on my swaying hips like a Steadicam shot in the steamiest movie imaginable.
Reaching the lounge, I grab my iPhone, make a show of changing the mood-music it’s playing to Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby but surreptitiously click the video camera on and place it on the best vantage point, over the fireplace.
As I lean over the glass-topped table, inscribing my signature on his hand-held device, I let the dressing gown drop. Before I can hand back the machine I feel his gloved hands on my hips pushing the négligée upwards and then…O-M-G. That damned parcel wasn’t the only huge object Amazon Man’s delivered today. He’s even bigger than his company’s profits. He holds me tight. I remind myself I’m doing this in the name of art.
I’ve barely recovered my breath when Amazon Man’s finished and he releases me. He plants a little kiss on the back of my neck then picks up the tablet and mutters something about works on the Seven Sisters Road. I hear the door close. It’s all been a hypnotic blur but if my iPhone hasn’t let me down I know I’m going to be replaying each delirious, glorious second in slow-motion every night for months.
I’m thinking of fixing myself another Cinzano when I glance towards the bay window. Fuck me! There’s a bloody bloke staring through it and, by the leery expression on his face, it seems like he’s just seen the whole bloody show. Embarrassed he’s caught my eye, he makes a show of rubbing a chamois leather against the glass. I walk towards the window intending to pull the curtains tight-shut, but bloody Peeping Tom interprets my attire as encouragement and begins furiously winking. Window cleaners, don’t they always have the most dreadful timing?
And actually he’s not so bad looking – wiry, muscular, the rugged tan you’d expect from outdoor work. So if Gavin thinks he can go recruiting extras from Argos for our skin flick then why the bloody hell can’t I?
I open the sash window, beckoning the window cleaner inside. He’s clambering into the lounge – bucket, sponges and all – when I hear clumping steps and the front door open.
‘Cor blimey, darlin’. That’s the third orgy I’ve stumbled into this week. And they say you hipsters are spoiling Stokie?’ Window Cleaner says in his charming Cockney artisan way. He’s already peeling off his damp overalls when Gavin arrives in the lounge. He’s on his own, selfie-stick under his arm.
‘I didn’t expect you’d find a volunteer for your threesome, so I’ve used my initiative,’ I declare.
‘Not another bloody bloke,’ the hypocrite shouts. Then Gavin starts to come over all uncharacteristically masculine and possessive. ‘You lay a finger on her and I’ll shove this where the sun doesn’t shine. Get back to your ladder!’
Gavin brandishes his full-featured selfie-stick at the retreating window cleaner. With its telescopic shaft and fist-like grab-handle it looks, even to an innocent like me, like the sort of orgasmic pleasureamatron that Christian Grey would prize in his collection. The window cleaner grabs his clothes and dives out of the window.
Gavin holds me protectively in his arms and says: ‘Ellie, forget all this post-ironic posturing. You’re more than enough for me. Let’s go to bed.’
I tip a conspiratorial wink to my iPhone.
‘Sweet-talking bastard,’ I simper, as he sweeps me off my feet.
(c) Mike Clarke, 2016
Mike Clarke has a Creative Writing MA from Manchester Metropolitan University and, when not writing filthy short stories, multi-tasks by writing two novels (one of which is almost finished). He works in Soho, where he can be spotted writing while observing hipsters in trendy coffee bars and going nowhere near IKEA.
An actress and creative, Lois Tucker can often be found performing as her silent comedy alter ego 'Lois of the Lane'. She has penned three solo shows to date and has various other projects bubbling away. She's just released an EP of catchy, silly songs, a link to which can be found on her website www.loistucker.net