Read Horse Submission 6: Spex

From Issue 6. The themes were Queer, Carnival and Spectacles. 

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Eamonn stuffed the pillow deeper into his mouth and began the serious and solemn act of masturbation. It was never the boys at school he thought about- those spotty, brace-faced thugs stinking of lynx, hair rock-hard with gel, eyebrows in shaven stripes, ears throbbing with infected piercings. It was never his teachers, those sweaty and balding men, adam’s apples bobbing in angry red necks. It was never anyone real, because to Eamonn real life seemed repulsive in its ugliness.

Eamonn pictured Jason Priestley, eyes as blue as his double denim outfit. Eamonn pictured James Dean, Rudolph Valentino, Jean-Paul Belmondo, all smouldering and shirtless, cigarettes dangling from perfect lips. Perfect eyes, perfect skin. As he brought himself to a climax, exhaling hard through his nose, a shining white light seemed to fill his whole head, his eyes, the room. And then it suddenly grew dark, and he felt the sticky sordidness of what he’d done, and the world seemed to shrink back to an ugly little nothing.

Eamonn hated every day that passed. He hated the row of shops on his way to school, with Sudz laundrette and Lucky Noodle Chinese, and the corner shop the kids at school all casually called the Paki shop.  The wind tossed litter across the grey pavements, stuccoed with dirty gum. He hated the ugly car parks, and the huge shopping centre, and the hiss of buses arriving in the station. He hated school, with its insistence upon ovine obedience and drab uniformity. He hated his grey school trousers. He hated his parents’ boxy semi. He hated Saturday nights watching the Generation Game and eating Lucky noodle’s greasy cartons as a ‘treat’. Why did people settle for this, when films showed you how beautiful life could be? Eamonn shut his eyes and pictured apartments on the Paris left bank, its high shuttered windows rippling with red geraniums.  He pictured New York loft apartments with huge fridges and polished floors, and king sized beds with crisp white sheets. He pictured beautiful friends, and even more beautiful lovers, who left, leather-clad, into the night on a motorbike. Eamonn hated his life, but he fervently felt there was more.

One day he sat at the bus stop after school. It was dark already and his breath whitened the cold air. The sky looked pregnant, the colour of a bruise. He drew his hood up and wondered if it would snow. No sooner had this thought come to him than a snowflake fluttered gently in front of his eyes. Eamonn looked up and the sky was suddenly dancing and alive. It was beautiful, and he held his face up to it, laughing with surprise.

Within minutes the whole street was empty, and thick with snow. Eamonn felt something he had never felt before. Rather than the magic being in his head, or in a film, it was here, in the world. In his world. There was a hushed wondrousness in this perfect carpet of white, growing ever thicker as the snow continued to fall. Each flake seemed to glow, and was more delicate than anything in the universe. It seemed like this stillness was the centre of everything, and he imagined the vast and dizzying spinning of the world flying out from this, its pinpoint white axis. He felt utterly alone, and utterly free. Then he heard shoes softly sinking through the compacted  powder, and turned to see who had disturbed him. He blinked. He squinted, trying to see through the snow flurries. Surely this was a dream? He couldn’t really be seeing…?

For walking towards Eamonn was a giant. The giant wore seven inch heels, a sequinned bodysuit, and a red feather boa. The giant wore a beehive wig, with three feathers protruding from a headband. The giant had the longest lashes and the reddest lips Eamonn had ever seen. The giant’s brown skin glowed, and the giant was beautiful. Stunning. Amazing. Gorgeous. Eamonn stood, completely awe-struck. The giant stopped in front of him, as if he too were waiting for the bus. Then he turned and said,

“Darling, I theenk you have been waiting for me?”

He spoke with an accent, Eamonn thought from South America somewhere.

“I was… just waiting for the 175…”

The giant smiled, and reached inside the sequinned body suit between some large, cushioned breasts. Out came a pair of dimante-studded yellow sunglasses, the kind Edna Everage might wear. To Eamonn’s surprise, he proffered them, in a gold-lame-gloved hand.

“For you, my darling. Now,” the giant touched his wig with his fingertips, in an ever-so-slight adjustment, “I muss be off.” He pressed his fingers to his crimson lips, and touched them to Eamonn’s cheek. “Adeus”. Then he walked off into the snow, under the orange street lamps, until Eamonn could barely make him out.

For a long time Eamonn stood, unable to make sense of what had happened. Then he realised that the 175 was pulling up at the bus stop, and dazedly got on board. When he looked down the glasses were still in his hand.  In the black bus windows he saw his cheeks had a smudge of red, and he rubbed with a wet sleeve til it disappeared.  After dinner he went straight to his bedroom and fell into a deep slumber, dreaming vivid dreams of a snowstorm sweeping up his school and planting it, Wizard-of-Oz-like, in a glittering city.

The next morning Eamonn awoke to find the glasses on his bedside table. He dressed for school and then, about to thunder down the stairs to breakfast, he paused, drawn in by the object from another world. They seemed outlined by a faint glow. He picked them up, looked at them, and then he tried them on. Immediately his box room swam with colour. The clothes hanging on his rail were suddenly carnival costumes. Feather boas, satin, sequins, high heels and glitter. The magnolia walls were deep cerise, and his yellowing paper lampshade became a giant disco ball, throwing tiny circles of light in brilliant spots around the room. He looked in the mirror. His school trousers were thigh-high turquoise PVC boots, and gold hotpants. His shirt was a peacock-feathered corset, and his short-back and sides had become a headdress, grazing the ceiling with gold and blue adornments. His eyes were shimmering and long-lashed, underlined with confident kohl. His lips were painted metallic blue. He looked amazing. Everything was amazing. Eamonn slowly started to pull down the glasses, scared of what he might see when he removed them.

It was like cleaning a painter’s palette and seeing the colours all slither down the drain, fading to nothing. The hues all grew fainter until the room was as it had been. Grey, magnolia and dull. Eamonn shook his head. He put the glasses in his pocket and went down to breakfast. At the table he played with his rice krispies, unable to think about anything except wearing the glasses. His left hand grew sweaty around them. Then he did it. Right in front of his parents and his sister. He put them on.

He was deaf to their cries, their protests. He knew their tone had changed from surprise to bafflement and then to anger, but he didn’t care. All he could see was his dad, suddenly transformed into a beauty-spotted, lipsticked Carnival Queen; his sister, no longer fat and spiteful, but voluptuous and holding maracas. His Mum’s apron had become a swirling bikini, and she danced on tottering heels. Magic FM’s muted easy listening was now sexy salsa, blaring out and enriched with horns and whistles, drums and catcalls. The living room was a crepe-papered float, filled with balloons and streamers. He rose from the table, and wiggled his hips, snaking all the way to the front door.

The journey to school was a love parade. On the bus he removed them as his classmates started pouring on. He dared not wear them in school, for fear of confiscation, but he longed to see what geography or assembly would look like. He clutched them, clammy in his blazer pocket, and smiled at the secret he had been given.

It was not time yet. He hadn’t got the air fare, or his GCSEs. He would bide his time, and as soon as he had saved enough for a one-way ticket, he knew where he was headed. Until then Eamonn had the glasses.  Life could be a treadmill, or a carnival. It was up to you, he thought.

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