And as the 83 moves off with a jerk, you look up at the brown-haired woman from the bus stop, your carrier bag swaying from her outstretched hand. Her breasts bob twice as the 83 finds then leaves the kerb. You like her smile. Her name is Carol... Today is Friday. Payday. You masturbate in the works toilet, arrive five minutes late to the steam-press, get given the hospital contract basket, spend the morning in a cloud of piss from old man’s trousers. You think of Carol. One o’clock at The Golden Fleece, she said... You’re there at one minute past. Carol is a secretary at a bank. She has a crooked front tooth. She has brown eyes and a small mouth. She has a husband who works for British Telecom. In Scotland. She has freckles. Steak and ale pie. Two halves of Carling and Why don’t you call by if you’re out tonight? I’m opposite The Bull number 23b just above the fruit shop I won’t bite ha ha. You drink, and under the table Carol’s foot rests on yours. You put an arm across your lap. Well? she says.

Tonight you smell of Old Spice. You’re happy that your mum washed your best jeans. You knock twice at number 23b opposite The Bull. Carol opens the door not long from the bath or the shower. She wears a red dressing gown and black eyeliner that’s smudged a little. She has an Alsatian called Ralph. Ralph sniffs at your crotch then backs you up against the kitchen sink. Carol says Ralph is a big softie really. Ralph belongs to Roger. Roger is back on Tuesday.

The wine is from Australia. The glasses are like blue fishbowls on stalks. Carol puts Roxy Music on. Do you like these? she says. You’re watching Ralph, who is laid on the rug watching you. They’re okay, you say. Carol sits down next to you on the settee. She turns to face you and curls her legs underneath her. Carol’s lips are cherry red. She’s 25 or 26, maybe even 30, and when she smiles her crooked front tooth shows through. Another? she says. Ralph closes his eyes. You hold your glass out.

You can sleep in here, she says, opening the door to the spare bedroom. She turns the bedside light on. Next to this is a clock that blinks a red 01:20. The room is small and blue with a single bed and a double wardrobe. Carol pats the duvet. You say Ta. Carol says she’ll leave you to get sorted. You say Ta. You leave your pants on and the bed smells of lemons. You turn the lamp off and the room moves a little. You consider masturbating into your sock. You should have tried to kiss her at least.  Idiot. The bedroom door opens in a soft arc of landing light. Carol wears a short red nightdress through which you can see each dark O of her nipples. She holds a blue plastic bowl filled with water. She has a small blue towel over her arm. I thought you might want to wash, she says. You feel yourself frown. Carol tells you to get out of bed, to take your pants off. Look! she says, pointing. You both look. All ready to be washed! she says... Carol says it would be wrong to do it in her and Roger’s bed. She sucks on you then turns around on knees and elbows. Like this, she says. No, they untie at the sides, she says. Smack me and fuck me, she says. So you do.