Lauren Bell: Looking for Grey

His name is Luther Grey. And he is out there. Somewhere. Of course, Luther Grey is just a pseudonym…he wouldn’t give me his real name now, would he?

There are tears on the periphery of my vision, blurring my sight, making the world unstable, non-permanent, transient. I keep blinking them back but they reappear again like those fuzzy spots you see before the onset of a migraine. I wish they would piss off. How on earth am I meant to find what I’m looking for through tear-filled eyes?

He said he would be here, waiting for me, ready to embrace me like in the good old days when we used to meet up clandestinely, stealing kisses in corridors, beneath luminescent strip lighting, snatching quick fumbles which expertly hit their intended targets. He made me gasp, my eyes wide in surprise while his cornflower blue ones were devilish, smiling like only a demon could. To look at him you’d think butter wouldn’t melt. The golden boy of security.

But I know different.

I know the real Luther Grey.

We corresponded over email, fuelling one another’s imagination with crazy scenarios often imbued with rainbows – our psychedelic vision taking us far away from our stuffy working environment. The messages bounced back and forth like a virtual game of ping pong, each one trying to outdo the other, documenting what other naughty tricks we had up our proverbial sleeves. I tumbled headlong into this vibrant world, his words and vision like a drug; I needed to know more. I needed to know him

Suddenly, the wind takes me by surprise, tugging at my hair, raking it into an entirely different style, snatching at my clothes like a hundred greedy hands. His hands were no less greedy, wanting to pinch, slap and squeeze every inch of me and like an awestruck fool, I surrendered. I let him explore every contour of my body, knowing he memorised my impression to keep him company when he was in the arms of another.

And there was another.

He told me so. He was very direct about it…in the beginning, but gradually the other’s presence faded to the lightest of stains on an already tainted bed. We had pet names for each other, planting risqué scenarios in the other one’s head, testing our imaginative mettle. We were two halves of the same coin, the same chaos which raged through explicit emails and steamy corridor encounters.

He was a madman. So was I…

The wind continues to whip its wrath in my face. The tips of my ears and nose are frostbitten. My fingers throb as though they have been pierced by splinters of ice. I stuff them into my coat pockets, the worn seams their only comfort. I watch the tumultuous rise and fall of the waves like shape shifting walls enclosing me within this waste land. Because that’s what it is. A land which houses wasted opportunities, wasted words, wasted lives. I don’t want to be just another statistic and yet I have to face the truth – I can’t see my puddin’ anywhere and I suspect he won’t show.

You see, he’s a master of disguise, deception his middle name. Once he compared himself to Dorian Gray. I didn’t know what to say. I could only laugh it off and hope that it was another whimsical remark to reinforce his alter-ego as The Joker.

My head and heart knew different.

I couldn’t shake off the doubts which come with being someone’s mistress: how many others does he have on the go and what number am I? Because there has to be more; how quickly he has “fallen” for me, the sordid things he says, that roguish look he keeps for me he must surely keep for other similar-looking girls. And this I do know. I’ve seen proof…

Alone now on this beach with only the distant screech of seagulls to rouse me from my reverie, I am suddenly aware of the carpet of pebbles underneath. I don’t know why but I have this sporadic urge to drop onto my knees and pick them up, welcoming their smoothness against my weather-beaten skin. My hands run over their perfect forms, a slight chalk dust rubbing off on my fingertips. I rub them against my cheeks before running them across my lips…

which reminds me of Luther Grey’s; his tongue a wet dart piercing my open mouth, his pocket dynamo body grinding itself against me, his hand clamped around my throat, Mistah J style. He whispered things he wanted to do to me and I laughed it off knowing full well that he wouldn’t get what he wanted.

I think he forgot that there was much more to me than meets the eye. We both had our secrets and for me it was having been hurt before, by someone else I thought cared deeply about me. After taking what he wanted, he said he was confused, he couldn’t be sure about me, about us anymore…

And Luther Grey will most likely repeat history. He has that look in his eyes, a dangerous glimmer which only reinforces his position as a serial player, heart-breaker, emotion-wrecker, leaving a trail of bruised hearts behind as he stalks his prey in the shadow realm.

He realised that I am somewhat different from his “other”, possibly because I live and breathe words, and abandon all of my senses to my imagination. In this respect we are equal. Complete. Whole. We each construct our own narratives and impregnate them with our unique characters, for we are not content with life as we know it. We want to soar, to leap and frolic in the kingdom of clouds, flirting with zephyrs on rainbow surfboards, tasting sunshine and leaving mundane realities behind. Perhaps we are selfish and greedy, always wanting more but wanting more opens up new horizons, new adventures that would otherwise be denied. The changing wind is upon us, re-arranging our thoughts, our urges, our desires, questioning our emotions, our designs, our lives.

Is he a gambler? A risk taker? Does he enjoy a challenge? Someone who will match and quite possibly beat him at his own game?

Because this is what it is, isn’t it, just…one…big…GAME?

Beneath his bravado and supposed tough-guy exterior, Luther Grey is nothing more than a schoolboy with greased back hair, Lucifer-like face fuzz who goes to work on a toddler’s tricycle. He is not a tough guy, he is not a protector, he is definitely not a gambler. So he will stay with what he knows because dependents always need other dependents, leaving the risk behind to cause mayhem somewhere else.

I will have the last laugh though; he thought he punctured my heart leaving a J-shaped mark on my soul, except his arrival didn’t signal anything really except silliness, and our encounters are like these pebbles on the beach. Grey. Colourless. And soon to be reclaimed by the sea.

I stand before the sea’s beer-head surf and feel his sullied gropes, his lustful kisses and smutty words leave me, shedding themselves as a snake sheds its skin. I feel exfoliated and replenished, more like my former self again, when a voice, abruptly cut off by the gathering wind sounds in the near distance.

‘What you lookin’ for, Missy?’

And I’ll have to think for a while because I’m not completely sure what it is I’m looking for. But I know it’s not Mister Grey.

black tree

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Photo by Tomek Dzido