The Carriage by Adam Kieffer

It’s so hot on this fucking train.

Hot like you wouldn’t believe.

Picture me heavily glistening and squirming as I stare at the blueish screen of my Mac. I’m too tightly twisted and pressed into my seat to take my suit jacket off. My blue shirt is not conducive to concealing the rapidly expanding damp circles under each arm. I wonder if my tablemates on the eight twenty-five am to King’s Cross; Heels, BlingBoy and Warthog are as hot as I am.

I switch tabs on my Mac, flicking between my e-mail inbox and a random spreadsheet to catch the reflection in the millisecond of black screen. This gives me the chance to see if Heels is looking at my Mac. Her gaze seems to flicker for a second but I can’t tell if she’s interested.

Ah, my beautiful, beautiful Heels. This morning is the first chance I have had to sit next to her. I can’t believe how stunning she is with her glossy brown curls, coy puppy eyes and cocoa butter skin. She looks like a better version of Kate from about ten years ago (pre-marriage and kids). I open up a new e-mail, push the Mac away from me slightly and emit a small grunt. I hope this has the desired effect and draws Heels’ attention to my blank e-mail with my footer on show:

Keith Sanders

Partner and Head of Corporate Tax

Partner. Me. At last. Couple of years overdue mind you but can’t complain now it’s happened. It has been three weeks and I still feel my balls tighten with excitement when I see it in writing. Fucking brilliant. Partner in a London law firm and the salary to match.

I flick between tabs again and note with disappointment that Heels isn’t looking. I spread my legs slightly hoping to feel her leg against mine but she decides to re-cross her legs at this moment moving further away from me in the process. This isn’t all bad as it gives me the opportunity to view the process out the pocket of my eye. Her skirt rides up slightly as she re-crosses so that her right leg rests gracefully over her left and she dangles that beautiful right heel into the aisle of the train. My forehead prickles with sweat and my balls are jumping and twitching like fish out of water. I take a quick glance at her thighs before she shuffles in her seat pulling her skirt down. Completely unblemished and goldenly beautiful. Not like my wife’s lumpy thighs.

I catch a glimpse of myself in the screen. My face is looking patchy and sore and I make a mental note to cut down on the booze and buy a new razor. I wince while looking at the baggage carousel under each eye. Kids were up four or five times in the night and my wife was honking and sawing like a farmyard animal. My forehead yawns above my eyebrows to the brown grey tufty triangle formerly known as my hairline. I can live with the grey hairs (in fact I think they are quite distinguished for a man of my position) but the thinning and the receding? That’s tough.

I shake my head slightly and assure myself that I’m still maintaining a decent level of attractiveness given the circumstances and, perhaps on a better day, I could still attract a girl like Heels. I mean how old is she? Twenty-five? Twenty-seven, tops. She seems like the business-minded career type, would probably go for an older successful guy like me. My mind turns to tonight’s event and I pray that someone phones me during this journey so that I can talk out loud about being honoured at the Law Society for my services towards promoting diversity and equality in the legal profession. I’d love for Heels to know that I’m not some uptight Tory-voting stuffed shirt and starched tie. I am sick of people assuming that I’m of a certain character and personality just because I’m a private practice City lawyer.

I must crack on with my work but I can’t focus with BlingBoy’s music audible. I can only hear the drumbeat but it sounds like shit sexist Hip-hop. I glower at him in the opposite seat hoping he’ll get the message. I take the opportunity to note how ridiculous this guy looks. Some 80’s style hi-top haircut and a T-shirt that’s at least two sizes too small. He’s bursting out of it! I admit this guy is ripped; he has muscles on top of muscles on top of what is an already impressively large frame. His black eyes look up at me and I meet his gaze for a second and then try to go back to working, huffing and sighing so that Heels knows I’m not happy about the noise coming from his giant stupid headphones.

I simply cannot concentrate with all this fucking noise and this heat.

I need to write my acceptance speech for tonight but it’s impossible to set my mind to work over the tinny drums coming from BlingBoy’s headphones and the grunting and chunking coming from Warthog sitting opposite Heels. He is slobbering over a full English heart-attack-in-a-sandwich breakfast. It’s all over his humungous chin. This guy is fucking disgusting. Long greasy curls run down the sides and back of his sweaty head. Completely bald on top. Patchy beard made up of the same sort of hair that I get under my balls. Crooked tiny glasses keep slipping down his sizeable snout. Not to mention the sweaty mayonnaise stench emanating from him. And to top it all off, he’s staring fairly blatantly at Heels. Poor girl, she must feel so uncomfortable with this creep looking at her.

Warthog finishes his breakfast and stares openly at Heels, breathing heavily. She either hasn’t noticed or is purposefully ignoring him. I turn back to my laptop simply out of a desire to stop looking at him when all of a sudden I hear a sharp intake of breath and “Oh!” from Heels. I look up and the Warthog is staring right at Heels and using his right trotter to rub himself through his trackie bottoms. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. His eyes are rolling back slightly in his head and I can see, looking at his lap, that he is getting very excited. Now the fucker is moaning quietly under his breath. I can’t work out if its grease or spittle on his chin but either way I feel physically sick. I can’t believe this and neither can Heels – she looks absolutely mortified. I look to BlingBoy to do something, given he is slightly closer to Warthog than me, and the useless prick does something you won’t believe. He just starts laughing! Quietly at first and then huge uncontrollable guffaws. His mouth is wide open and he can’t stop laughing and all I can think about is how fucking perfect this guy’s teeth are. I mean two perfectly laid out white rows of teeth.

The Warthog ignores BlingBoy and sits there aggressively rubbing and moaning and I realise I’m going to have to do something about this. What do I do?! I’m not used to this sort of situation; am I supposed to hit this guy? I look again to BlingBoy who is surely much more used to confrontations like this but he can’t stop laughing and showing us those fucking teeth.

“Hey! What the fuck do you think you‘re doing?!”

Hmm. My voice doesn’t seem to sound as assertive as I had hoped and there was a slight crack on “Hey!” which I hope went unnoticed.

“Huh?!” the Warthog responds looking at me as the train lurches and starts the slowdown which precedes a stop. You think he’d be apologetic or something, but his eyes are glazed over and he doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of what is happening. He must be a fucking retard. Either way, I can’t bear the way he’s staring at me with his big pleading watery eyes, all the while completely erect.

This is a seriously weird situation.

“Get off this train right now or I will call the police you freak.” Much better. Manlier. Calmer. Less frantic.

“Uh-huh.” The Warthog lurches up into a standing position meaning that his bulge is now staring at me in the face. I shakily stand as well having absolutely no idea where this is headed. He seems just as likely to fuck me as he is to fight me. We stare at each other for a good ten seconds or so. My face is prickling and surely a deep shade of red. I feel something tickling in my throat and swallow quickly hoping it doesn’t appear as if I am gulping with fear. I cast my eyes quickly down to see BlingBoy with one eyebrow raised and those teeth displaying a look of incredulous amusement.

Warthog stares at me blankly whilst a large globule of something drops off his bottom lip onto his gut.

“Well?” I ask as the train pulls to a stop. Shakier and slightly higher in pitch than I had hoped.

Warthog makes a sudden movement and I flinch anticipating having to punch him. Thankfully he just reaches down to grab his bag and slowly shuffles out of the seating pod, past Heels and off the train just as the doors close. I have the attention of the whole carriage. I realise I must be bright red and can feel my forehead, armpits, back and arse just pouring sweat. I nod as if to reassure everyone that the crisis has been averted and I sit down feeling very pleased with myself. I turn to look at Heels, raise my eyebrows, put on my best “concerned” visage and ask if she’s ok. She looks up at me with those big beautiful browns and thanks me. That sends me absolutely crazy and I feel a twitch in the trousers. I’m starting to feel sympathy for my friend the Warthog.

“That was crazy, are you okay?” BlingBoy offers. Bit late for that mate.

“Yeah, I’m okay thanks.” Heels giggles. Hmm, I don’t like that sound. Is she flirting with this guy? After what I just did for her?

“Ah man, where do you work? Do you want me to walk you to your office if you’re a bit shaken up?” Bit obvious pal. I mean this guy is totally lacking in self-awareness.

“Oh no, I’ll be fine thank you, I work just by the station. Where do you work?”

“I own a bar in Soho — ” And so on and so fucking forth.

They’re chatting away freely now and I keep waiting for my opportunity to jump in and contribute to the conversation but there’s no good opportunity. They’re talking about House DJs now and unfortunately I‘ve been out of that scene a while – I silently curse my kids. They’re chatting away, getting on like a house on fire and eventually BlingBoy asks for her number. And she gives it to him! Can you believe that? After all that, turns out she’s just a stupid immature girl.

Typical.


Adam Kieffer is a thirty-year-old budding author from London. When not writing short stories, he works as a corporate solicitor for a law firm in the West End of London.

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