For Part I of this story, look at the previous post…Charlotte came to slowly, wondering for a moment where she was, trying to remember to breathe. One hand rested on brickwork, the other on the edge of a dumpster. Her legs were weak and she let herself sink to the concrete of the alley. She felt hollowed out. At some point, it had started to drizzle. Her hair and clothes were wet. Twenty yards away, car lights on the road winked in the water-streaked darkness. When she looked down, raindrops on her jacket sparked like tiny white and orange stars in the reflected light. When she looked up, a tall figure stood at the entrance to the alley, silhouetted against the car headlights. He seemed to wave, and shimmered into nothingness. She couldn’t be sure if he’d just turned the corner, or evaporated into thin air. Or if her perception of a figure was a trick of the light.
Making her legs co-operate, Charlotte made it back to her car. She sat in the driver’s seat, consciously breathing deeply the way she’d always had to after sex with Ben. One finger confirmed her thong was soaked through. And it encountered something else, something circular and metallic, pressed between the material and the folds of her skin. Incredulous, she took it from its hiding-place and held it for inspection. There was enough light for her to see exactly what it was. A small metal ring. The kind with a tiny ball on it, for a piercing. The kind that would be used for a Prince Albert. She put it in her purse.
When her heart stopped pounding, she laughed out loud. It came out as a mad cackle of incomprehension, but also relief. Whatever she’d just experienced —and she had no way to explain it to herself—it wasn’t her that had gone crazy. It was the universe.
Pulling her mobile from her handbag, she called the office. They stayed open until eight, someone would still be there.
Ringtone. Debbie picked up.
“Debbie? It’s Charlie … I’m still at the old bar. He was fine, no need to worry. He’ll let us know … I got caught in a shower locking up, I’m wet through … I’ll go straight home and dry off … OK, see you tomorrow.”
At home, Charlie stripped and showered, sat in her bathrobe in the middle of the living room floor. For a long time she was lost in thought. Then the thought that burned in her brain went to nova. She dug in the back of her wardrobe. Leather trousers, skimpy leather waistcoat. Still there, glove-tight and sexy as ever. Nothing underneath. She liked the feel of the leather against her skin. The boots were under the bed but she’d have to practice walking in them again. On her way downstairs she passed the bathroom again. Ben’s Chinese neck-thong was still there on the windowsill. She picked it up and put it on.
In the living room again, she opened cupboards and pulled out the laptop, leads, headphones. All of it still there, waiting patiently for her all these months. She plugged it into her stereo. It wasn’t like a club sound system but it was all she had. The question in her mind was whether, after so much time away from DJing, she still had what it took. Could she or couldn’t she get into a groove?
She’d need some new music. Eventually. The half-dozen external drives in the cupboard held perhaps ten thousand tracks…
Friday night, dressed to kill, it was apparent Charlie was in the wrong place. Fluidity had undergone a refurb. The décor was bland, the music was bland, the clubbers were boring, the bar staff too overworked to talk. She remembered one of the door staff, he remembered her.
“Nah, your crowd doesn’t come here now. The club was bought up by a conglomerate that figured the location was being regenerated. Then they put in their standard designs. Leather, PVC and duck egg blue carpets—doesn’t quite go together, does it? But there’s a new place just opened up that does your kind of stuff. It has a name like, like…”
“Some kind of star?” It was a shot in the dark.
“Yeah, sort of. The Quasar Club.” He explained where it was. She thanked him and walked to the other side of the town centre. The side that wasn’t being regenerated, and wouldn’t be for a few years yet.
The Quasar Club was up grimy stairs. Black painted walls, scuffed wood flooring, comfortable but faded. The kind of place where the unexpected could happen. It was crowded, and she spotted a couple of trannies in the mix. Always a good sign, because they usually had discerning taste.
And the unexpected did happen. She was leaning against the bar waiting to be served and one of the bar staff spread his arms wide in a welcoming gesture.
“Hello you! Wondered where you’d gone. You disappeared after…”
“I did. But now I’m back.” She fingered the Chinese coin, wondering what kind of supernatural connection was being made here.
She stood to one side, sipping her drink, watching the crowd, listening critically to the music. Not the same choices she’d make, but close enough. She smiled when she realized her hips had been moving to the beat. Something deep and primal in her brain had just come out of hibernation.
“Are you OK?”
The words were shouted into her ear. Charlie turned to find the barman next to her, a stack of empty glasses cradled in his hands. She nodded.
“You’ve got that faraway look.”
“Just remembering what it was like, working the decks.”
Actually the barman wasn’t bad-looking. About as tall as she was in her boots, with shoulder-length hair and a lopsided smile. Not fat, not thin, muscles in all the right places. Probably a good muscle in his trousers as well. An open, friendly face, the kind it was easy to talk to.
“I remember your sets. I used to go to Fluidity. I’ll talk to the manager.”
The next time she saw him was around four in the morning, when the place was beginning to empty out. Where had the time gone? It was as though she’d been standing there in a trance all that while.
“The man, he say yes. If you’re interested, he can fit you into a late slot next week. Don’t give up the day job, though. If you have a day job?”
Charlie laughed, remembering the words she’d heard. You can be a star, nothing can stop you. And you’ll meet someone new. It’s your destiny. He’s your destiny.
“There’s an afterparty at mine, if you like,” he said.
“I’d like very much. Thank you.”
When they left half an hour later, it was hand in hand. Charlie thought she saw someone walk out of the doors just before them. As they reached the street she looked around. A tall figure stood about ten yards away. There were streetlights all along the road, but he was in his own patch of shadow that obscured his features, made them grainy like an old black-and-white movie. He looked for all the world like Ben. As she watched, he raised a hand in greeting, or perhaps valediction, and faded into the night like a TV picture that had suddenly turned pixilated.
“Did you see him…?”
“See who?” he asked her. “No, there’s no one here. And we’ll have to go round the corner to get a taxi.”
Charlie had a sudden realization. “You do know you haven’t even told me your name?”
“Oh, sorry. Desmond. Call me Des.”
“Or Destiny?” Des Tiny, she thought, breaking it down into syllables. Except he wasn’t tiny. The way his jeans were filled proved that.
His turn to laugh. “Maybe that’s what tonight is. Destiny. Mine and yours.”
She suspected her date with this well-built and well-hung Destiny would develop into something interesting. She also knew what the soundtrack would be while they were doing something interesting: Nine Inch Nails, “Closer.”
It wasn’t until the following week that Charlie remembered the PA ring. She wondered idly if it was the right size and gauge to have it put in her own flesh. Wondered if she had the nerve do get it done, decided she had. A nipple, or maybe somewhere even more private. She hadn’t removed the Chinese coin from around her neck, but the ring would be an even more intimate reminder of Ben.
Yet when she checked her purse, it wasn’t there. She never found it again.
If you liked this story, both Fulani and Velvet Tripp have other (and stronger/more explicit) paranormal stories published with Xcite – see the ‘Stories Available Now’ page for details of their stories in the Xcite ‘Spirit Lovers’ and ‘Lust Bites’ collections.
The pic used in this post is a detail from a photo taken by a friend of ours, Jon Wilson. His website isn’t online at the moment but if you like his pic and are interested in buying prints of his work we can put you in touch with him. Use the contact form on our ‘About’ page.