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So it’s late on a Thursday and I’m hunting. There’s some random university event, and I know the game will be running in thick packs. I put on the black coat like a suit of armour. Even my brand of cigarettes is important: it’s Lucky Strike when I’m feeling merciful. Tonight is a Gauloises night. I spend half a second thinking about a beret, but that’s pushing things too far.

Fifteen minutes in the bar, and I have a lock on the target. She ticks all the boxes: mousy hair, could stand to lose a pound or two, delicate eyeglasses standing between the world and her pain. Grew up believing in noble princes and white stallions: now she convinces herself that just asking her name is evidence of a romantic soul.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

She tells me and I nod and immediately forget. I have, like, 200 words in French that I can use instead of her name if needs be. I talk about myself and hint at some great pain in the past. I look away, tears in my eyes, and she snaps it up, like its an invitation to talk about the knuckle-dragger she loved when she was fifteen who took her virginity before running off with her sister. I recite the first six verses of Howl in my head before she shuts up. I take the ensuing silence to mean that she’s finished, and then I gently brush my fingers against the back of her hands. Right now, she’s probably thinking about how she’s never met a guy as understanding as me. The thought is probably dominating her mind so much that she doesn’t even realise how much she wants me to fuck her.

We talk about culture for a while until she mentions some shitty German movie she loves. I’ve seen it (hated it) but I act like I’ve never heard of it. “Oh, you HAVE to see it. Come back to my place, we can watch it.” Before the taxi has even pulled out of the college driveway, I have my hand up her bra. I’m really good at the sex bit, and she cries a little when she comes. She gives up all of her secrets to me, but that’s not what I’m here for.

I wait until she’s snoring gently and I slip my arm out from under her. She’s having dreams now, with which she’ll no doubt bore some other poor boy to death tomorrow. I’m so silent, I make the wind sound like a drunken troll. Some strange instinct tells me where each squeak and each creak is: I think I get it from my uncle, who was good at this kind of thing until someone turned on the bedroom light and found him with a fistful of their jewellery. He’s halfway through a six year sentence.

The drawers open up to me as easily as their mistress. One of them contains a big pile of zirconias, a couple of real, low-value diamonds, and three hundred in cash. I ignore this drawer. That’s not what I’m here for.

Next drawer is underwear. Jackpot. It’s always in here. I gently slide my hand under her panties (woah, deja-vu), and find something nice and welcoming (diito). I slowly pull it out, and there it is. The cold leather of her diary is untarnished, apart from the words “THIS IS ME” carved in biro. I dress quietly, slipping the diary into my pocket and miming that old Tom Waits song at her, the one about stealing memories. I close the door behind me so gently, the lock doesn’t even click.

Around the corner from her house, I’m overcome with lust I didn’t feel even when she was naked and begins for me. I pull out the diary, fumble with its gorgeous cover, and sink myself into its juicy contents. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m really myself, or just the dream of some better, sadder person,” says the first page. I don’t come, but it feels that way.

Every writer must have chip of ice in his heart, said Graham Greene. He’s not one of my favourites, but I admire his candidness. I’m a writer, which also makes me a thief, a vampire, and several other pejoratives. This diary will join a pile in my tiny apartment, and some day I’ll spin a truly great story from them. Don’t feel bad, girls. Your words will have a wonderful life, a life greater than any you imagined for them.

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee, babe



***



Last night, I dreamt about fire. Today I woke up and he was gone.

I’m not sad or anything, but usually I wake up when they leave. I doff an imaginary cap at this one. He was certainly stealthy.

I’m glad he had something going for him, because the Jean-Paul Sartre act was particularly tiresome and his love-making, which he seemed to be somehow proud of, was sloppy and lazy and messy. I check below and sure enough there are huge drool stains on my sheets from when he went down on me. I think about throwing them out, and decide against it.

I check my underwear drawer and, sure enough, my diary is gone. I head to the kitchen, make a coffee and light a cigarette. Before the coffee has brewed, I’m feeling inspired.

I take a diary from the pile, remove the plastic cover and begin writing. The last one inspired me. I’m not sure if it’s because he had a spark of greatness, or because I was appalled by his insipidity.

I guess I could just write something myself, but that path just feels so worn. Anyway, who reads anymore? Only these guys who dream of being one day great writers, and they only shoplift books anyway.

Already, I’ve written, “One time I got punched in the mouth by a guy. I tasted my own blood, and I knew I was in love.”

No, I’m proud of my girls. I’m like the Doctor, and they are my monsters, chasing these poor boys all the way to the Arctic.

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