In the beginning of that session, I told Ulrich about the bath incident.
‘Yeah, so I suddenly remembers the bath. Water was everywhere; I sops it up as best I could before heading downstairs to answer the door. I go, ‘what’s up Cess? Why you banging on my door!’
‘And I imagine a stream of expletives followed,’ Ulrich said, stroking his favourite piece, ‘The Glass Penis’ by Nelly Alhambra.
‘You’re right. Cecil was not a happy bunny. He goes; are you fucking kidding me! Expensive artworks, he said, ruined, ceiling he said, destroyed, walls, he said, wrecked. I goes, ‘Cess, I ain’t even had the tap on, it’s not my problem.’ He goes, I’m warning ya Flynn, this is criminal damage this is!
I was shutting the door in his face when he shoved past and rushed up the stairs in a fit. He went straight for the sound of the water going down the plughole. He goes, what are all those damp towels on the floor? You’ve had a bath running in here you prick! He whizzed back down the stairwell threatening to call the police.
I goes, ‘hey! My mother just died, and I’m suicidal. I don’t need this man!’
The blue eyes bored into me.
‘I see, so you used your poor mother’s tragic demise as a handy tool to eliminate a passing inconvenience.’
‘Well, I reckoned it was worth a shot.’
‘You thought, maybe he’d drop the whole thing.’
‘What would it be like for you to exist somewhere entirely different I wonder?’ Ulrich asked.
‘The pushers would miss me for sure, but that’s about it. Anyway, I’m sitting there thinking what to do when the phone rings, I’m like, fricken debt collectors, piss off, and I was just about to give those morons an earful, but it weren’t the debt people, it was my old pal Sayed.’ He goes, Mikey whattsup, haven’t heard from you in a good while. I go, ‘Sayed, my man! What’s up?’ Sayed had a couple invites to a strip club in Soho. He was too chicken to go on his own. He goes, I’m tellin’ ya man, it’s gold star treatment.
That was good enough for me. I grabbed a 63 up the Elephant. At the tube station, some bloke jumped onto the track; then he changed his mind, idiot.’
‘So, you witnessed a brush with death. Interesting. What happened after that?’
‘Big Sigh was waiting for me at the Old Compton Street pub. He was dressed to kill in his black leather jacket, and gold watch. I have to admit, I felt skinny and scrawny standing next to him.’
‘What did you do then?’
‘We downed a pint and left for the strip club.’
Ulrich said, ‘I have fond memories of a vaulted chamber in that area, known with a certain irony as Maison L’amour. Is it still there perchance?’
‘Under new management, possibly.’ Ulrich said with a sigh. ‘Ah well, things disintegrate. Carry on.’
‘I followed Sayed down a dark passage to get to the club.’
‘And that establishment was sealed with a large steel door. Correct?’
‘Rumour has it that this was the site of a pagan temple where blood-curdling rituals were enacted on innocents.’ Ulrich said pleasantly. ‘Go on.’
‘Sayed kept a hold of the bell; he was itching to get in.’
‘And next to him you felt like a crotch-dead zombie.’
‘Go fuck yourself.’
‘I am merely using metaphor to illustrate the contrasting approaches to getting laid.’
I snapped. ‘Who’s telling this story, me or you?’
Ulrich said calmly. ‘Allow me to take over; here’s what happened, you and your pal – Sayed – waited. The door was opened by a robust gentleman with a face carved in granite. He plucked a shred of tobacco from his tongue and examined you shrewdly and disparagingly. His menacing eyes were filled with reluctance. You showed him the ornate vouchers. He began turning them over, and back again. Presently, he said, ‘Okay follow me.’
He led you through the foyer, and you descended fourteen steps into a dark, cavernous atmosphere. At the bottom of the steps, a lady with sad blue eyes sat on a stool like the gatekeeper to hell itself. Blonde, if you can call a handful of dyed straw, blonde. A set of heavy drapes concealed the entrance to the club. To gain entrance, you must o’ercome her soul-destroying analysis of your face, eyes, hands, clothes, and most of all, your wallet.
‘Twenty-five, sir,’ she said.
‘But we have tickets,’ you explained.
‘The siren held out her hand. You emptied your wallet immediately, whereupon she unfolded the thick, black curtain, and you entered a dark, eerie chamber, whose sole illumination was a red spotlight on a tiny stage. Intermittent flashes came from a jukebox in the corner. You heard the plink-plunk of a coin going in the box, whereupon sentimental waltz music filled the room. A voluptuous black female gyrated on stage, displaying her wares to an audience of men. In between the folds of her labia, she entwined a thick boa feather; then, seeing you stare, she began rolling around on her ample belly, swaying her hips in time to the music. You lit a cigarette and handed it to her; in return, she blew smoke in your eyes.’
That bastard paused to glance at his watch.
‘White flesh moved like maggots over a shapeless dark mass. You searched for your pal – Sayed – but alas he had vanished. A cold breeze entered the room. Was this the spirit of your dead mother warning you to depart from that den of filth?’
A pair of bony hands gripped the edges of my chair in a vice-like grip; paper thin lips stretched back in a snarl revealing gross, yellow teeth.
Ulrich’s fetid breath was on my face. ‘Relax, Flynn, relax. It gets easier.’
This time, I was ready.
‘At the count of three’, Ulrich said, you will fall into an even deeper slumber, and when you awaken you will remember nothing about our session. ‘Agreed?’
Ulrich began to count. ‘One, two, three.’
As the sharpness pricked my skin, I groped around with my hand and found what I was looking for.
I brought the prized objet d’art down hard, ‘Not this time, devil!’
When I opened my eyes, the tall glass scrotum was covered in thick slime. Ulrich was gone.
And so concluded our final session.