CREATIVE Niall Griffiths

NWR Issue 98

According to Adrian

It began as an accident, Adrian says, in his moments of lucidity between doses of medication; the entire affair was an accident, except it sounds like ee wer awn shident, given his total lack of teeth. He pinpoints the start of it to a week or so before Easter, 2010, when his friend, to whom he’ll only ever refer as The Arranger (and who has never been properly identified, let alone tracked down), came to him with a proposition: There’s this girl from Haiti. Earthquake refugee, illegal. Needs a British right of residency. Two grand to marry her, easy money, which Ade needed, desperately, to pay off some bad people who told him they’d be taking a tooth for each ton he owed, which equalled ten teeth, extracted, with pliers and most definitely without anaesthetic, making his affirmative response a given, which, according to Adrian, was an accident; me, I’d call it a mistake. A big, big mistake. One borne of necessity, maybe, but a mistake nonetheless. I mean, Haiti; that in itself should’ve set the alarm bells jangling.

As should’ve the way she looked. According to Adrian, he couldn't breathe, as soon as he saw her; this isn’t a metaphor, he genuinely couldn’t catch his breath, started to go dizzy, faint, blue of hue in the face. Had to turn away from her and focus, one, two, in, out; he even thought of calling an ambulance. It wasn’t only her physical beauty that had this effect on him, he says; it was the power within her, the witch-might, her ability to cast a spell of control. With those eyes, simply, she could turn whatever and whoever she wanted into her slave. With one look from those black pools of eyes. He had to lie down on a park bench for ten minutes. The Arranger laughed and nodded, as if this was the reaction he expected; the girl herself put on an air of concern and worry, asked him if he was okay. All a sham, according to Adrian; she knew exactly what she was doing. She was turning him into her zombie. He felt it, Ade says, initially not in his heart or head but in his feet, as if he had tethers, chains, around them or through them; as if she’d punched holes behind his hamstrings and threaded a leash through. He’d become her dog. Fettered.

He hardly remembers the wedding, he says; a brief and functional ritual in a registry office by the docks. She wore a white basque, he remembers that detail clearly, and light brown trousers, tight to the muscles, that ended at the knee, above white strappy heels. He wore the full works – tails, cummerbund, frilly shirt, everything – at her insistence; not that she told him to, it was all done with her mind, according to Adrian; she came to him in a dream and took him shopping and got him all kitted out. Carnation in the buttonhole, bow-tie, top hat, everything. A smart haircut, a proper wet shave with a cutthroat at the barber’s. The ceremony was followed by a small reception in a function room above a pub, ‘just for show’, said The Arranger, who, well, arranged it; a barrel of Guinness, some sausage rolls and sarnies. A quiche or two. All done and dusted in a few hours. The girl thanked him and gave hima great big hug and that, according to Adrian, was when she put the tether through the back of his neck; invisible to everyone else, of course, but Adrian felt it being pulled through the flesh, the pain of the needle going in, the cold sear in the skin as the tether was tugged through. That was the moment when she took full ownership of him, Adrian reckons; from that instant he was utterly hers.

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