Youth. And both of them, a kind of appeal which can't be pinned to anything specific, only felt through your heightened awareness and eager attention. You know they enjoy easy popularity.
If you watch them through the lounge room picture window, perhaps from a vantage point among the winter blossoms of the lemon scented gum in the front yard, they are a perfect couple.
He's just average height, deep eyes under strong black hair; jumbled gleaming tight ringlets no comb or brush can penetrate. His body slender, discretely muscular, lithe and lazy like a cat that can be suddenly quick. The same confident grace. Smooth, light brown skin, almost oily should you run your fingertips lightly along it. A dazzling smile, wraps around you and compels your forgiveness of his perfection. He is smiling now.
Through the glass, in this weak early-morning light, you might think her almost plain by comparison, though her hair is soft blond clinging close to the shape of her head, her eyes blue and her skin pale gold. You might think that, until you are near enough to sense her. The feel of her presence, that happens inside you. Your gut suddenly nervous as you move closer, compelled, intending of course only friendly chatter. Until she has looked into you. Eyes like an open door, an invitation that compels reckless disregard, like a government health warning on a cigarette packet. Good men twenty years older will abandon their families for her. For a casual remark. The smell of her skin. The moment she lives in. Urgently alive. And dangerous.
She is staring now at the man.
'Yeah, nice teeth Jeremy. Only you're a lousy fuck. It's all for you. Like everything.'
'You loved it!' Her accusation scores because his ability to pleasure women is one of the few things he prides himself on, which he has felt sure of. 'Groaning. Screaming and thrashing about, Janis.'
'Faked it, jungle man. Relieve the boredom. You and your dirty games.'
'You came so hard the sheets were wet!'
'You hurt me, you prick!' Janis snarls her accusation. 'I expect satisfaction not sadism.'
Jeremy leans back against a wall, taking the force of her attack. His skin pales a little but he makes his body stay loose. He doesn't want her to guess what he fears, that her barbs will over time work their way deep into him. Straight to his weaknesses, learned so quickly.
'You're nasty,' she continues. 'You're flirting with the devil.'
'Hah! The devil's designs are on you!' He laughs at his own joke. Relieved. Janis colours and folds her arms across her chest.
'If I'd stopped you would have begged me.' He begins his retaliation, playing his voice for deliberate menace. 'All you want is sex – you're afraid of anything else. Your Mr Right is a motile dildo.'
'Just get your bag and get out, Jeremy.' She doesn't like the way this is going. And she doesn't know what "motile" means, except that using it is one of his hints at more than he shows. She wants to bring the scene quickly to conclusion. 'This hotel is closed.'
'The hotel between your legs is always open.' He sneers this gibe as he grabs his shoulder bag. He's angry with himself and he tells himself it's for starting to think this one might be something. For revealing. Allowing her the advantage she is using now.
Janis hurls a heavy glass ashtray at him; he dodges it easily, smashing behind him, and flashes her another smile. This one a practiced insouciance. Then he's gone. She stands staring after him, her chest heaving. She realises he never unpacked that bag. Lived out of it. As her breathing slows she becomes aware of a radio playing annoyingly in the background.
Slice dice scar and hurt
Mess your little world
Sid leaves it on when he goes to work, before she gets up. He once said something about "keeping it warm" for her. Wilfully techno-stupid. She wishes he was here now.
Janis goes to the kitchen to turn the radio off. Outside the lounge room the leaves of the gum rustle sharply, rising as if from a gust of wind. That high buzzing sound must be bees already at work on its precious winter blossoms. Or it could come from the overhead electricity wire to the house, where the tree has grown too close to it.
All you want is sex. Standing blank in the kitchen, words replaying in her head, Janis winces. She wants to be loved! She wants good sex, too. The sex has to come first because without it love will wither. The way men play the insatiable predator and women are supposed to resist and restrict, in her experience that is just a male cover up for weak performance. As soon as a woman demands more, they wilt and blame her for being over-sexed. But she wants more.
The most important thing in Janis' life so far has been the liberation, the power that thrilled through her when she broke loose from those old traps. The woman demurs and resists; the man charms and persuades. A system for keeping women passive. And when they were not required by men, they faded into background. Fuck that. Fuck anything she wanted to. And that was liberating! To press men into a role that suited her. To direct the game in which they played a confused part. A woman who was sexually aggressive can have any man she wanted. Immediately. Poor simple men, trapped in the role which has served them for millennia, cannot wimp out on a sexual advance. They have to respond even more eagerly, to make out that it was really their idea and the woman's approach merely evidence of the overwhelming strength of their charm. The hunting woman scores far more readily than the man, because the man who demurs is sexually suspect. Janis' sexual appetite is more than lust – though her lust has grown as she has given it reign – it is most importantly a liberation and a chiselling assault on a hundred thousand generations of emotional chains.
This is a mantra Janis knows to be true, but this time it is not so effective in dissolving the last man's fingerprints. Jeremy has left other marks, less defined but more durable. Rather than inspect them, she reminds herself that she is late for work and starts to rush.
A block away, Jeremy slows and swings the bag to his other shoulder. It's only a standard size bag and it's gradually got jam-packed. He's been accumulating too much. He's angry with Janis for throwing away what they might have had. He decides instead to be thankful to her. Love is just a fantasy. He doesn't need any more than sex, just what he accused her of, knowing that it would hurt her. Yes, he's cynical and thus honest enough – with himself – to concede that the sex was all for his enjoyment. How else could it be? Nothing more private, unsharable, than an orgasm. But his enjoyment required hers. Making her come, long and repeated; hearing her call out – knowing her increasing urgency for what he could do. These things were vital to the depth of satisfaction of his own release. He is sure she was lying. If there was something she did not like about what they did, it was an aspect of herself he had revealed to her. As he walks he remembers the expectant pressure that rode up his penis to fill his body as he thrust into her, slow at first, holding back while she climaxed, often twice; until she was drained, limp unresistant exhaustion of more than enough, and that explosion of power as he came and felt her final involuntary response, his semen almost burning as it rushed through him, his testicles tightening and stiffening to the point of pain. Yes, pain. Deeper pleasures more sharply defined by a darker edge. If he had used it, then it was because she had responded. Started to need what only he had discovered how to do to her. Had he tried to twist her and enslave her to his desires? Something sick in him, as she had accused?
A heavy metallic clicking startles him out of his reverie. The noise seems to be coming from a transformer on a high-tension power pole: he has come to the main road, busy bored work-morning motorists chancing quick stares. He laughs and shifts his tumescent penis around in his trousers. There is a girl who works in a cafe; if she has no-one current, she will have him stay, as she has before. Restore his sexual confidence. And not create a scene when he leaves. If Janis despises him, well ... he doesn't think much of himself either. He stands at the kerb with his thumb out and starts to hum the music to words he has forgotten.
I trapped you in yourself
you will be who you decide
Start a family start a fight.
 Squirm worm from You bore me so much I can’t even be bothered hating you by Nihl. Lyrics by Slash (Rosie McFarlane) and Gash (Rose Blume McDonald) © 1998. Published by crap music Bhnd (Germany), available on their dark web site only.
 Life as a short test by Ghetto Music Saviours, only via mtayp.com (“Music To Annoy Your Parents”), now defunct. Lyrics by Ghetto Music Saviours, 1998. Published by X.O.Set Enterprises (Canada) now defunct, copyright holder unknown.