When we’d finished the day’s clinic Mary and I went to the Intrepid Fox, a pub in Wardour Street where we liked to drink snake bites.
“Are you and Fraser done now?” Mary asked, two pints in.
“Yes, that’s it, I’m going to be single for a bit, maybe a year, maybe two?”
“No sex for a year, you sure?”
“I’ll manage. I need to focus on my therapy and the course.”
Mary left the pub around 8pm, leaving me chatting with a group of punks I’d recognized from clubs Marni and I used to hang out in. I didn’t look like a punk anymore but continued to relate to their ideologies.
“You’re beautiful, yah” said the pink Mohican punk sat next to me.
“Thanks” I said, drunk, confident and chuffed with myself for finally moving on from Fraser.
Do you want some blues, yah?” It was a work night and I was due back at the Annexe in the morning. But what the fuck, I fancied him.
“I’m Archer, yah” This posh man with tanned skin and sharp blue eyes shook my hand, leaving in my palm a small packet of blue pills.
“They match your eyes” I said, staring right into them, clenching the packet. I disappeared to the ladies and swallowed a few. I wasn’t so keen on blues, they weren’t any worse than white powder speed, but they reminded me of Fraser and when I used to sell at clubs. I stopped selling soon after I’d started, one Monday at Gossip’s psychedelic night I had 150 pills and Fraser was jealous cause I’d been talking with people from bands that he didn’t know. He blatantly bought the lot off me and ate most of them on the spot. Off his head he went back to the Gunnersbury tower block, alone. That was the night he got caught by the Bizzes. Fraser had built a breakfast bar in the small kitchen, so if they came round he’d hide in there, but that night he’d got so paranoid from the blues and because one of the lifts wasn’t working he got confused and lost, running round the tower block stair wells and then he got angry with someone and they called the police before he could get into the flat and into his bespoke hidey hole. I didn’t like blues after that and it had left me feeling a degree of responsibility for Fraser’s imprisonment. But that was then. I’d moved on.
The other punks left and Archer and I stayed until the landlord kicked us out. We were well up on the blues and loitered outside the pub. It was pissing it down.
“I’ve got keys to a kind of hotel.” I said and took his arm. We made our way from Wardour Street through the back streets of Soho to the Annexe.
“I work here, sssshush…” I slurred as I put the key in the door of the Annexe, looking around in case someone might see us enter the clinic. I took out the King Missile tape from my Walkman, took out the Tchaikovsky tape that was in the player in reception and swapped them over. There was half a bottle of wine in the downstairs office fridge Mary and I had started after clinic earlier. I filled up two clean paper cups from the stack we gave to women if they’d forgotten their wee samples.
Archer sat on one of the low slatted waiting room chairs. I sat on top of him, writhing around and singing along to King Missile, “Jesus was so cool, he turned water into wine…” We slugged back the wine.
“Great music, your great, yah” he was posh, polite and full of compliments.
‘Gary and Melissa loved to make love, loved to make love to each other, loved to make love with each other over and over and over again……’ King Missile’s lyrics beat out from the cassette player as Archer and I snogged. After Gary and Melissa exhaust everything that is sex, they kill themselves, whilst having sex, of course.
When the tape ended I got up from Archer’s lap and opened the door into one of the consulting rooms. It had a couch in the middle, a desk to the left, a screened off area for women to change in to the right and the ultrasound scanner with a computer on a table by the side of the couch. I jumped up on it, I did this on Ian’s couch too.
Archer explored the room and picked up the box of rubber gloves on the shelf behind the bed that was shared with packets of morning after pills, contraception pills and all other forms of contraception including packets and packets of femidom that none of our staff could get rid of and were going out of their sell by date.
“What’s your surname Liz? Yah.” he asked, stretching the gloves over his hands and pulling at the fingers so the plastic pinged back making that plastic ping sound.
“Bentley. As in the car” I felt as posh as him.
“Now, Miss Bentley, would you please take your clothes off. I need to examine you?” behind the door was a hook with Dr Choudary’s white coat hanging up.
“Archer, put the coat on.” I pointed at the coat.
“Fuck, yah,” he took off all his clothes, getting his bits stuck in his jeans as he put the white coat on then he pushed his cock through a gap in between the press studs.
I lay on the bed while Dr Archer poked around the rest of the room, delving into drawers and under the table where the computer sat.
“Fuck, you ladies go through it, yah” he held up a large vagina speculum. “This goes right up there, yar?”
“That’s nothing. A baby’s head’s got to come out of there. But not here, it’s a pre abortion clinic.”
I took off my jeans and lay on the bed with my legs open as wide as they had to be in the Southend GU clinic stirrups. Dr Archer put the spectrum back and did his Doctors duties.
Like Gary and Melissa we did it ‘over and over and over again’ until come drowned my belly button having ignored the contraception shelf. Dr Archer took off his gloves and ripped off some of the crumpled blue paper towel that covered the bed, once ready for a client.
The blues were wearing off and we were tired but it was still pissing it down. Too late for tubes and too fucked for night buses, I put on the reception electric heater and we cuddled together on the floor of the clinic room, covering ourselves with two small blankets that were used to cover the women while they were being examined.
“You’re clearly not a doctor, yah.”
“Course not, I just work here, but I’m training to be a counsellor.” There weren’t babies born here, but in the not too distant future I would begin counselling women who were ambivalent about their pregnancies and some going on to give birth. I drifted into sleep worried that we may be caught here and I’d lose my job, or that I’d do a pregnancy test wrong and a woman would come back and they’d be no form cause I’d got rid of it and kept her tenner and I’d be done for stealing and lose my job. I wouldn’t be telling Ian any of this but I needed to remember to pick up one of the morning after pills from the consulting room.
I woke before 6am, just a few hours before we’d gone to sleep.
“Archer, the cleaner will be here soon, we need to get up.”
I made us a quick cup of tea and we were out.
“I might as well go straight into work” Archer said as we stood outside Warren Street tube. He’d told me the night before he worked in a picture frame workshop in Fulham. Like Fraser, he was a carpenter, but he wasn’t a junky, he’s eyes were sharp. Things were looking up. Archer took my number and I watched him disappear down the escalator as I’d watched Fraser the day before. I sat in the café, nursing a coffee and nibbling on a scone until at my usual time of 8.30am I arrived back at the clinic. Mary was already there, ushering the cleaner out.
“She’s mad,” Mary said closing the door and locking it again after I’d walked in. “She thinks we’ve got ghosts. She said the kettle was warm and that the ghost must have been having a cuppa while she was cleaning upstairs. You’re wearing the same clothes Liz. Where did you stay last night? What the fuck is that?” Mary had pressed play on the tape recorder and King Missile was on the Gary and Melissa bit where they’re having sex with friends. I swapped the tapes back just in time for the first pre abortion client to enter into the clean clinic to soothing classical music.
“Do you have an appointment?” I smiled an empathic smile and the woman cried.