Fair Trade.

Hello. This is my daughter Alex, don’t say a word, she’ll write about it.
– My old man.


My window smashed last week. The longest summer and nearly a year in the same studio meant I’d never closed this particular window– in entirety. So, when I did, it smashed, just like that. All the glass fell out, shattering down four whole floors.

Lucky it was night time, I thought at the time.

I grew to miss the glass in my window over the next week.

My landlord, bless, had forgotten… and so… for that week… I grew a little cold.

No biggy.

Then I notice a missed call on my phone during my lunch break at work Monday.

I dial the number.

It’s the glass guy. He’s English. He’s funny. He wants to come round this afternoon, which can’t happen, so we agree to meet tomorrow morning.

Once all the formalities are out of the way he admits, bless, that he doesn’t want to hang up.

“To be honest Alex, I don’t really want to end this phone call. What you doing now anyway?”

I was shopping at Coles on George street. Trying not to lament the price of marinated tofu as he said something about 9:30am…

“Listen,” I say. “I’ll see you tomorrow at half nine.” And hang up.

My morning progresses organically and swiftly– I sort out my taxes, as I said– my neighbor phones and I head over to his for coffee and joints– We watch the pigeons mate. He shows me his down-played wardrobe plans for the subsequent few days in Wollongong. I laugh. I laugh because I’m from Newcastle. And I know what it means to not pack your trilby for a long weekend. Or your blazer. Or your favorite story. Or your latest realisation. I know.

The tradesman arrives 30 minutes late and I don’t much mind as I’m still in my PJs, entering my PAYG codes in to my e-tax online form.

He brushes my stomach as I let him in– which I like– though acknowledge as colloquial, informal, familiar–

Shit.

ChEmIsTrY.

Shit.

I lead him up the four flights of stairs. He pants. “Shit lady, these stairs must keep you fit…”

He’s lovely. He’s bright. He’s sparkly. Plus, he’s here to mend my window! Super.

He sends me a text earlier in the morning, I might add– requesting I put the kettle on.

Cheeky.

Nice.

We get to talking about London, where he’s from. What he thinks of Sydney. We argue about Australian politics and laugh a lot because we don’t really know each other– but it’s intimate– isn’t it? Being in someones flat all day. My place is only small. And there’s pheromones everywhere– really– all over the joint.

He hangs out my window, dangling out, over the city, he bashes things and says, “Pardon darling, I didn’t hear you, sorry… What were you saying?”

I’m online.

I’m talking to England.

I know exactly what’s transpiring here– and I don’t want to have to chose.

I resent the sentiment.

I don’t want to.

Life is for living, I remind myself as I finish all my emails, dot all my i’s, cross all my t’s.

That’s it.

I’m done now.

Shit.

He say’s, “Listen darling, I need to go get some glass from Alexandria. I’ll be back later, if that suits. Say around half two or three?

“That old chestnut,” I say.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“As if you don’t have a piece of glass in your van that won’t fit my window? Seriously.”

I smile.

“You’re quite cheeky aren’t you?

“Why? For suggesting you’re full of shit, which you are…”

He smiles. A lot. Then says, “So, you like living alone then?” He changes the subject–

“Yes, I don’t really like people, generally. Plus it’s hot in Sydney. You know? It’s always really hot. If you live alone it doesn’t matter because you can be naked all the time.”

“Hey, don’t be cheeky.”

He asks if he can use the bathroom, then does, then returns.

Say’s he’d actually like me to be cheeky all the time, until he has to leave–

We both laugh.

‘You’re a bit mad now aren’t you, Lex?”

I ignore him. I’m doing my e-tax.

“Mad Lex at Number Six. Yeah like a bit of a legume munching white witch really, I think…”

“Pardon?”

“Nothing. I’ll be back later… But listen. Will you have dinner with me?”

I smile broadly.

“Hey, listen, I’d love to, but I can’t… I really, really can not…”

“Yeah, alright… Listen, I’m going to go get this glass right, but what I’m going to do is, I’m going to text you every half hour until I see you next, you know, make you have dinner with me basically… See you later.”

Click.

The door shuts.

I get some things done. I email England. He’s been there for most of it, which is interesting, odd, whatever–

Kind of coaxing me on really.

I want him.

But here I am.

And here he’s not.

Lest we forget.

I shoot off a few work emails. Continue to get things done. Shower. Masturbate even, so as to settle the score– you know, the one I have with myself.

As sure enough, he, the tradie sends me a text message every half hour– as promised–

Cheeky monkey.

And they’re lude.

He’s being playful.as.fuck.

And I love it.

All of it.

Except the part where my hands are tied.

Sorry sir, my heart, you know, it lies with another– We could, but I wouldn’t be here entirely– sure, I mean, if you want– but, like I said– I’m elsewhere. Really. In the truest sense. Absent. I’m in England man, I’m not here with you in our little make-shift tradesman porno fantasy– Fantastic as it is. Well…

I shower and remind myself I’m doing this mainly for the sake of the evenings proceeding dinner party– not for him. I don’t shave. I’m not fucking him. I floss. For me, I tell myself. For my teeth. I dress in my favorite bra, my favorite knickers– Alex… Hmm… I rub tea tree oil on some spots on my back– a sure fire deterant. Ace. Done. You’ll be fine.

I phone a friend.

“Hey, listen…” I say… “I’m in a bit of a pickle hey… Basically… I need you to come round. Just hang for a bit. I think I am very much about to sleep with my tradesman and I don’t want to be having random trysts, you know, not now… He’s just ducked out.”

“Right… Funny… When’s he due back?”

“An hour.”

“Ok. I’m at Aerial bookstore. I’ll be done soon. I’ll come down then.”

She hangs up.

Shit.

The messages from Mr. Window Replacement continue thick and fast–

Until I can’t really bare it anymore.

“Hey… listen… I’d love to, love to, love to BUT I have a lover hey. I’m sorry. I can’t. Let you in the back lane in five.”

“I don’t believe you,” he replies.

I let him in and he’s being all cheeky and coy– “What you like then Alex? What you playing at? Goodness… I’m just here to fix the window.”

I let him in. I’m nervous now. I laugh.

“So where’s this lover of yours then?” He says.

“Ar, Brighton,” I say.

“Right. Well that’s not right is it?”

“No, not really…”

I haven’t the heart to tell him we’ve never met. Where he really is or what’s really going on. It seems irrelevant somehow– while seemingly sacred mainly, if I’m honest. It’s much too sacred for discussion. I feel.

He mends the window, replaces the glass, then sits down at the end of my bed and says he’s all done.

He asks me where I’m from.

“I thought you were like Slovenian-Kiwi or something on the phone yesterday, to be fair. You don’t seem Aussie at all to me actually.”

“Slovenian-Kiwi!? I don’t sound like a Kiwi.”

“You don’t sound Aussie, that’s it…”

He asks me why I do my own taxes. I tell him why. He asks me to join him for dinner again. To maybe help him with his taxes. He flirts. He giggles. He really is very lovely. Really lovely.

“Alex. I really don’t want to go.”

“Right,” I laugh.

He begins to flirt with me in a way that I am now really uncomfortable with– only because I’ve done this already– I can’t do it again– I don’t want to be with anyone else. I don’t. I really, really don’t. I say this to myself over and over– But here I am. With a man on my bed…

I propose a Thumb War, you know, to freshen the air.

He kicks my ass twice, then lets me win a third time round.

“You let me win! That doesn’t count!”

He smiles.

We do a lot of smiling, not saying much–

And then it’s on.

It’s thunder and lightning. Very, very frightening.

Wowzers.

He stops.

“It’s not right this… is it…?”

“Pardon?”

“This, it’s not right. You’re basically married now, aren’t you?”

“Married? I’m not married.”

I chuckle loudly. I chuckle because I am terribly turned on right now and it seems ridiculous to be betrothing myself to Puff The Magic Anyone. It simply does not make sense. Right now. Not at all. Nup. Plus I can kind of tell– he’s projecting all over me…

“Do you mind if we take a moment? Have a wee break?”

“Sure. Are you ok?”

“Yep. I’d just like to look at you for a moment, to be honest. May I have some water?”

“He must love you…” He continues, “Your lover.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because you’re magic now aren’t you. Magical, I think…”

He’s so English. And he’s being so lovely.

And then my door bell rings. It’s my mate.

I let her in. Introduce them both.

He’s nervous now.

He leaves.

He sends me a text right away:

“Bugger. I was just readying myself for round two.”

My mate and I talk and talk and talk. I shower and ready for the dinner party. We arrive late. Sauna. Swim. There is vodka and pizza and so much music–

My friend is his boss. He’s surprised. “He’s married Alex. He’s married, you know?”

I laugh.

How else am I supposed to respond?

“A bit of fun,” I say.

“Al, he’s not for you… He’s not smart enough for you…”

“Oh I dunno hey… He had some pretty cool things to say…”

“Right. Shit. Right. Right…”


The ponies run, the girls are young,
The odds are there to beat.
You win a while, and then it’s done –
Your little winning streak.
And summoned now to deal
With your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it’s real,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Fair Trade.”
  1. Hedley Galt says:

    Excuse me but I think you Glass-Guy just projected his marriage all over you!!

  2. Hedley Galt says:

    PS.. Great story!

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