An Angel on Clayton Street
Everyone is in love. Everyone has someone to love. Everyone, it seems, except me.
I’d felt the frustration for weeks. Now the day had finally arrived. I was twenty-five, hitting the prime of my life and it had been nearly two years since my last girlfriend dumped me. Since then: nothing, zilch. Not even a drunken fumble in the dark at a seedy nightclub. Certainly nothing romantic like a stolen kiss with a stranger on a moonlit beach. Not even an ‘innocent’ accident with a spice jar while cooking dinner for a casual friend.
Okay, so the last one might not feature on even the most desperate bachelor’s wish list. What can I say: in certain areas I have strange tastes. I’m sure most people do if they’re honest about it.
I knew the day could only get worse. The TV was full of romantic couples simpering over each other. The radio played endless slushy requests. I’m telling you, if I’d have known where to find him Bryan Adams, he would’ve been a dead man.
I hid in my bed for several hours, dozing fitfully and just praying the day would hurry on by. No such luck. Time stubbornly refused to do anything but crawl. In the end I could stand it no more. If there was nothing but junk on the TV I’d just have to go out and rent a video. Something with a muscled Hollywood actor, explosives, huge fight scenes and hopefully too much action to allow for a romantic subplot.
Well, obviously someone up high had it in for me today. My regular video store was closed. Closed – on a Saturday! How could that be? I gaped in anguish at all the potential blockbusters that sat behind the glass shop front, all tantalisingly just out of reach. Then I spotted the notice that had been tacked on the door.
That was it. I surrendered, a beaten man. Then I remembered that there was another video shop nearby: that strange little store on Clayton Street. I’d never actually seen anyone go in there; the window display was musty and unappealing. As far as I could recall, the same bland selection of ‘70’s B-Movies had remained unchanged in all the years I’d been walking past. It was even rumoured they still supplied betamax videos. I’d never felt any urge to check that out. But suddenly the thought of anything, even ninety minutes of wooden acting and plotless action seemed to appeal to me. I doubled back the way I’d come and found the turning for Clayton Street.
It took me several minutes to summon up the courage to enter the rather dingy looking store. I couldn’t really see anything through that infamous and grimy window. As I entered, a bell rang out rather feebly. I stood by the door, trying to ignore the strange smell that I decided it was best I couldn’t put a name to. Would anyone emerge from the back of the store? The counter was thick with dust. I imagined some wizened and red-faced old man hobbling out to serve me. Naturally I was surprised when a fresh, sweet-smelling young woman with long curly dark hair appeared.
‘Hi,’ she offered me a reassuring smile. ‘I have just the video for you.’
‘You do?’ I moved closer, curiosity getting the better of me.
‘The manager’s personal recommendation.’ She bent down and produced a box from a pile below the counter. The dust was so heavily layered that even this motion couldn’t disturb it.
‘Erm … thanks.’ I took the offered box.
And with those last two words she was gone, swallowed up by the dark and the dust.
How peculiar. I studied the casing carefully, but there was absolutely no hint as to the title or director of the movie. Still, in the absence of anything else to do, I decided I might just as well take it home.
I stopped off on the way back to buy some takeaway food and a couple of bottles of beer. If nothing else I could drown my sorrows as I settled down to view the tape that had apparently come so highly recommended.
Well, it definitely seemed like a low-grade ‘70’s film. I didn’t recognise a single name on the opening credits. And if they’d had a budget, it certainly wasn’t spent on making the movie. All the action took place in a single tawdry motel room. The plot was virtually non-existent. The acting was wooden. Only the leading lady, a striking blonde with deep blue eyes and full red lips, held any interest. And her dialogue, like that of her fellow actors, went from one cliché to the next with barely time to draw breath. After thirty minutes of this I was ready to switch the thing off.
Management’s recommendation, indeed…
I held my finger on the remote control. The blonde woman had just launched into another torturous and melodramatic speech. Her voice burbled through the words. The camera momentarily lost focus. Every cinematographic detail screamed out ‘budget production’. Then she halted halfway through her speech and sneezed. It was so unexpected that it was stunning. Her lips parted in mid-syllable. Her eyes froze and then closed decisively. Her whole body rocked backwards and then out it came.
My attention was firmly back on the screen. Still the blonde actress gamely tried to get out her lines. And every few seconds another sneeze would torment and defeat her.
‘I really need to … need to tell you … you … hah-cheww! … to tell you that I can’t ju… can’t ju… ju .. just heee-chewww! … can’t just continue to let this situa… this er situat… heckshooo!’
I stared at that screen mesmerised. After a minute or so of trying to get these words out the actress seemed to admit defeat. She stopped even trying to speak and just stood there, totally in thrall to a monstrous sneezing fit. Far from cutting away, the camera panned in closer. The other actors were no longer in shot. I marvelled at the action and then I found a new distraction. This sudden change in direction had had a dramatic effect lower down on my body. My penis had acknowledged the images that were being fed to my brain. I reached my hand down and felt its growing potential. The magic show continued. The actress had acquired a handkerchief from somewhere, but all that had succeeded in doing was muffling the more vigorous of her sternutory outbursts.
I stopped wondering at how or why this video had come into my possession and gave in to the warm feelings of excitement. Stroke followed rapid stroke as my manhood barely needed my encouragement.
In moments I fulfilled myself in a quick but delicious climax. The tape ran on for several seconds more before the screen faded to black. I sat back, satiated for a moment.
And then I hit the rewind button.
I returned to the shop on Clayton Street early the next day. My mind was a whir of questions and possibilities. I pushed open the door and waited to see what the dull ring of the bell would bring. For a moment there was not a sound, apart from my own slightly laboured breathing. Then I heard footsteps and there she was, the cheerful young shop assistant from yesterday.
‘I hope you enjoyed your movie sir.’
I blushed. Had the woman just winked at me? I had so many questions I wanted to ask, but I was completely tongue-tied.
‘Can I help you with anything else?’ The woman was staring at me with round, full eyes and I felt even more self-conscious.
I was about to turn and run, when from some deeper well of self-confidence I stammered: ‘Do you have any other videos you could recommend.’
The woman gave me a heart-melting smile and dipped below the counter. She produced another blue-cased box. ‘Here. I think you’ll find this one is rather interesting.’
My hands were shaking so much, I could barely grab hold of the box. Once I had it, I turned as casually as I could and exited the store. I felt both elated and faint at the same time.
Well let me assure you, this second recommendation was every bit as good as the first. From tedious clichéd plot twists to sensuous sneezing attack, it followed a similar route to the first. This time it was a curvy and sweet-faced redhead who was captured in an unstoppable fit. I savoured every moment. Her sneezes were more breathy, less deliciously wet, but sometimes they exploded out in unstoppable bursts of five or more. I’ll tell you one thing: I’d never been stimulated in quite that way before!
My trips to Clayton Street soon became a regular occurrence. Video Drome re-opened when the honeymooning proprietors returned, but I had no need of their services any more. Yet I was still rather shy with the young woman behind the counter at my new regular haunt, this angel who granted my every fetish wish. I didn’t like to ask questions for fear of breaking the spell. I did get to learn that her name was Kerry and I couldn’t help falling for that charming smile every time she reached down to produce one of her magic supply of cassettes.
Well you can imagine my shock and disappointment when I arrived one Saturday morning to be told she had nothing new to offer me.
‘I’m sorry - I just don’t have any more tapes for you.’ Her face was pale and her trademark smile was missing.
‘Well then, I’ll happily rent out one of the ones I’ve seen before.’ This didn’t strike me as any great hardship.
She looked at me and frowned. ‘I’m afraid that’s not possible…’
Not possible? My heart stopped for a second. ‘What do you mean?’
She was silent for a moment and I asked the question again, this time unable to hide the desperation from my voice.
Eventually she replied: ‘I can’t explain it; you’ll just have to believe me. There was one more extra special tape I was hoping to get hold of, but it seems I can’t find it anywhere. I’m really sorry.’ And she looked it too. I hung around for a while, but there was nothing I could do and without Kerry’s recommendations, I found none of the faded, passé videotapes on offer even remotely appealing.
‘At least you’ll have some cool memories,’ she whispered softly, ushering me out of the shop door. I stood on the street, my mind empty.
It was a dark day indeed. I got back home and sat in my living room, staring numbly at the blank screen. What could I do? I didn’t even have the energy to cook any food. I opened a can of beer and resumed my brooding. Tonight it seemed I would have to drown my sorrows.
I was about to collect my third tin when I was roused by a knock at the door. Daylight had faded and the evening had drawn in. Who would be calling at such an hour? If I hadn’t already been up to fetch my next drink I probably would’ve ignored them, but curiosity got the better of me. I carefully unlatched the door.
It was Kerry!
She stood on the doorstep, a vision in dark jeans and a pale white blouse. Her long dark hair positively shone now that it was liberated from the dusty confines of the video store.
‘That video I promised you finally came in. I thought I’d drop it in on my way home.’
She stood in front of me, clutching the plain blue video case. I wondered why she didn’t just hand it over to me and then a thought occurred.
‘Um, would you like to come in for a moment?’
This time it was her turn to say, ‘Thanks.’
It had been two years since I last entertained a female guest. I wondered if finally my luck had changed.
I dug out some food from the kitchen and offered Kerry a drink.
‘You would like to stay for a bit?’ I asked, pretending I wasn’t nervous.
She smiled. ‘Sure.’
‘In fact I’d rather like to watch this video with you. As I said this morning, it’s rather special. I think you’ll enjoy it.’
I must admit I felt a little uncomfortable. If this was anything like the others … well a lot of people would find my interests a little odd. On the other hand, Kerry had been happily supplying these films to me. It could hardly be a secret what their contents were.
What happened next is frankly rather hard to accept or explain; all I can do is pass on the details as they occurred. I settled back on the sofa after having put the tape into my VCR machine. Kerry cuddled up close to me, slipping an arm around my shoulder. She smelt divine – the polar opposite of that musty shop she worked in. The tape began in familiar style, the smallish cast list; the same unknown names. The action was set in a tiny suburban house this time; low budget again. Only this time there was something frighteningly familiar about the scenery. The kitchen in this house looked remarkably like my own. The stair carpet was an exact match, down to the swirling black patterns amongst the orange shag.
Stranger still was what followed. The leading man made his entrance to a syrupy string accompaniment and it was as if I was staring into a mirror. Kerry giggled and squeezed my hand. The lead actress emerged next. She was the spitting image of the woman at my side. It was all too surreal for words.
There was a short pretence at serious dialogue, a cursory nod towards a plot that might have brought these two strangers together, and then the woman turned directly to the camera and sneezed.
‘Ooh,’ Kerry whispered softly, then I felt her body tense and she sneezed right in front of me. ‘Hah-sheww!’
‘What’s going on?’ I asked in complete confusion. And my double on the screen was mouthing the exact same words.
Kerry looked me straight in the eye. ‘I really don’t …. I really don’t … oh God, excuse me I have to … Hurr-chewww! … I have … Chewww! … to sneeze.’
She slumped against me and I felt every motion. Reality had slipped out the window. All I could do was hold her as she continued to loosen off a volley of deep sneezes.
A similar scene played out in front of us on the screen.
‘You like this production?’ Kerry gasped between sneezes.
‘Yes.’ I smiled and then I felt her hand reach down to cradle my erect penis.
‘I …. I … heck-shoo! … I like both answers,’ she giggled.
And then we succumbed to this apparently pre-ordained plot. I unbuttoned her blouse; she pushed down my trousers. In seconds we were both naked. I revelled in her congested breathing. As I moved gently on top of her she sneezed again, the sensation quickening my excitement. Then I was inside her, pushing slowly into the warm depths of her body. She grasped me tightly, pressed her lips against mine. We were bound by the moment, tasting and teasing each other. I was on fire, my pulse rate spiralling, my nerve endings lost in bliss. I was hovering on the edge of orgasm.
‘Wait a moment…’ Kerry drew back. ‘It’s too soon. I need to clear this … hehshooo! … clear this irritation.’
I stared into her beautiful blue eyes as she blinked rapidly, her nose twitched and another burst of sneezes emerged.
‘Heshoo! Huh…chewww! Herrrshoooo!’
When she was finally done, I pounced upon her again. She dug her fingers deep into my skin. I thrust fast inside her. Her breath was shallow, a soft and contented purring. I felt her clench and unclench beneath me and then I could hold on no longer. All the excitement exploded out from me, a fierce and deep orgasm that bucked my hips.
I flipped on to my side, my whole body loosening in post orgasmic bliss.
My doppelganger on the screen whispered, ‘I love you.’ I turned back to repeat those same words.
And then the tape came to an end. The screen blanked out, plunging my front room into darkness. I reached back out to Kerry, but my hand struck thin air.
I jumped up and switched on the light. The room was deserted.
I searched the house from top to bottom, but she’d vanished, apparently at the same moment the tape ran out. In desperation I hit the rewind button. Nothing. Only a fuzzy snowstorm lit my screen. No images. No sound. Nothing.
I still walk down Clayton Street every day. And I always pause at the spot where that video shop used to be. Only as the weeks go by I start to wonder if there ever was a shop there. You see, all the windows are boarded up and it looks like no one’s been inside that building in years.
And all I can do is touch the bricks and try to imagine…