The floor tiles in the bar where The Bouncer works are broken, the windows are cracked and the Turkish toilets are smeared with faeces. Lack of respect for everything and everyone is what attracts clients to this bar. Its reputation stands and falls on the unconfirmed rumour that Jim Morrison once played and coked up in the back room.
It’s connection to rock ‘n roll drug addiction means that anyone seeking oblivion ends up here at some point during the night. The patrons are regularly strung up in alcohol induced emotional highs and lows, provoking fights or passing out perilously close to the vomit that’s wiped off the tables from 5am onwards. At 7am they throw any remaining beer over the tables to wash away the cigarettes butts and broken glass.
The Bouncer has a round face with no wrinkles and the smooth forehead of someone who knows he’s always right. He permanently wears combat trousers and tight t-shirts, which show the mould of a lithic primeval bulk, a vision that, with his dimples and black button eyes, has the curious effect of making him look like a teddy-bear. But when he gets angry he can throw two people and their table out of the pub’s French windows and he does so frequently when he judges it necessary. Underneath the teddy bear, he’s terrifying.
On the night he chooses to speak to me I have a vague taste of a tongue in my mouth from earlier that evening and am sitting at a table wondering where this incident might have taken place. I don’t remember the last two hours. Perhaps it is only in my head. And then he speaks to me. I don’t know why. But the first thing he tells me is that we have spoken before; I have no recollection of it.
When he asks me what is wrong, and why I cry every night. But he doesn’t try and coax my story out of me. He doesn’t need to. Having no self respect has some merits and one of them is a total lack of restraint. All my dirty washing is hung out in public. When awake my only drive is to drink myself to oblivion because being lucid is too painful.
The guilt of who I am, what I have done and now what I continue to do is so shameful that I cannot face the pain. It is better to display no remorse. There is no point in holding an image together that is shattered and worthless. The alcohol I consume has made me put on weight, the black clothes I wear are too small and many of them have holes. If I stay at rock bottom, I can’t fall any further.
I tell him that I go to many late night bars and sleep with the men I find there, most of whom are desperate souls like me.
I tell him my one night stands have got me pregnant.
I tell him that the abortion was done under local anaesthetic as is the practice in France and that I lay awake with my feet in the stirrups feeling them scrape everything out and crying because I am so disgusting.
I tell him that my life is nights after nights – I never remember the end of them anymore and when I wake up sometime in the evening the unbearable all-pervading sense of guilt makes me go out and do it again.
I tell him that I live in apartment which is 13 metres squared and I do not clean it.
I tell him all of this and then I pass out under one of the beer soaked tables.
Like every man who hears my story, he takes this opportunity to fuck me and I wake up from my unconsciousness beneath him that evening – his bulk taking up three quarters of the room in my tiny apartment. As he spatters me with semen I open my mouth like a regularly practised porn star. He can only come while jerking himself off and later I learn that too many steroids have rendered him almost impotent.
Afterwards, he relaxes in my single bed with a cigarette and there is no room for me in it. My apartment has one fold out chair that leaves painful patterns on the underside of my thighs and I sit on it gingerly, watching him. I am uncomfortable around all men and only want him to leave me alone so I can sink back into my own hole. He asks if I have anything to eat and I think to myself that all the food in my entire fridge would probably leave him unsatisfied.
I nevertheless cook for him with my meagre supplies. Home-made red-pepper pesto on spaghettini al dente. He looks surprised that I am able to do this and I don’t know whether it is because he doubted me capable of even the most basic cooking skills or simply doesn’t trust the capabilities of my broken two ring hob. He sucks in the spaghettini and tiny droplets of red pesto spatter on his chin.
This man is different. Because unlike any other man, after this one-night stand, he decides that he wants to see me again despite all my obvious fuck-ups which I have demonstrated for him only too ably over the last year or so. Even more strange, is that he wants to see me exclusively. I do not have a choice in the matter but then I rarely have a choice.
For one moment I am overjoyed because finally I have a boyfriend and maybe, just maybe this time it’ll work. He knows everything about me and still he wants to go out with me. This must mean that he accepts me for what I am and that maybe I am worth a little love after all.
Then he says that people who care about other people tell them the truth. So he does. And my short-lived happiness sinks back to where it came.
He tells me that I’m a depraved alcoholic.
He tells me that he despises me.
He tells me that my friends are worth nothing.
He tells me that I am a slut who disgusts him.
He tells me that my overweight body makes him feel sick.
He tells me that he is going to eradicate my entire past.
He tells me that he will change me. That he is my saviour.
And I want to believe him. I want to be someone else. Anyone else, but this person who is living this life.
He abuses me sexually, emotionally and eventually physically.
Even so, I stay for two years. Because I think this is what I deserve. I am disgusting. Depraved. Overweight. And worth nothing.