When Olivia Met K: Chapter 7 - Tamara by Michael McCarthy at Spillwords.com

When Olivia met K

Chapter VII

Tamara

written by: Michael McCarthy

@FlateyeFiction

 

I went to Tamara when I needed uncomplicated female company on a regular basis, once a week, in fact. She worked in a massage parlor in a shabby, old building reeking of stale tobacco and housing various offices—some, if not all, seemingly dubious—above a launderette and dry cleaners on one side of the old Market Square.

She was one of my favorite people in the world, and I didn’t make that claim lightly. She was as straight as they come and twice as honest, with the added bonus that we enjoyed surprisingly revealing and sometimes surreal conversations together. The business was run by a small, elfin-faced woman in her early fifties, always dressed in sensible clothes like an old-fashioned secretary. She had cropped, shiny, black hair like a skull cap. She introduced herself as Diana.

‘‘How did you find us, darling?’’ Diana asked me on my first visit, in a strong, grating accent.

‘‘A process of elimination,’’ I answered. It was true; I’d long been looking for such a place where I could just lose myself with no obligations.

‘‘What do we call you, darling?’’

‘‘Just K.’’

‘‘That’s nice.’’

This was actually a classy joint with a very good reputation. It was more expensive than I was used to, but if you want the best, you have to pay; it was immaculate with fresh, fluffy towels; well-furnished; refreshments, and a scrupulously clean, sparkling bathroom. Better than most, if not all, the places I’d been to.

She showed me to Tamara’s room. We chatted while I undressed, ‘‘You’ll love Tamara, darling. She’s special.’’ Then she wrapped me in a huge, soft, fresh-smelling towel and led me to the bathroom, ‘‘I just know you and Tamara will really hit it off, darling.’’ I showered, and back in Tamara’s room, sank onto the thick, bouncy mattress on the floor, covered by a garishly patterned blanket and in the middle, clearly the place for the punters to lie, lay a thick, white sauna towel. The lights were dimmed and cast an orange glow over the room. The windows and the shutters were wide open, and there was a smell of patchouli hanging in the air, almost masking the smell of previous customers.

Just under the window within grabbing distance of the mattress, on a small, green-painted footstool stood a glass dispenser of oil and a white, china box of red tissues, with one poking out like a flower in bloom.

‘‘Hi, I’m Tamara.’’ I heard a whisper of a voice. I turned my head and watched her slip out of a multicolored kimono and her flimsy white underwear. I lay on my side to accommodate her on the mattress. She deftly removed my towel.

For a seemingly very self-confident young woman, she had a great need for reassurance; she wasn’t beautiful, her face looked as though she was living under constant strain, until she smiled; she was in her late twenties with thin mousey blonde hair; her eyes were truly stunning, bright blue, and hypnotic.

‘‘Was I good?’’ She asked me after the first time. She never asked again. One time we’d been fondling each other, like real lovers, when she said, ‘‘Just look at my breasts,’’ flicking them dismissively, ‘‘they’re too small, and they should be firmer.’’

‘‘Look at my shoulders, they’re too big. I look like a weight lifter.’’

‘‘Look at my stomach. I’m like a fat pig.’’

‘‘Come off it.’’ I said. ‘‘You’re a beautiful young woman and you’ve got a figure others would die for.’’

She’d been exaggerating. OK, she had a tummy, no doubt, but more a mound, quite attractive, vulnerable, I thought.

One man’s vulnerable is another man’s punch bag, but I reckon anybody who tried pushing Tamara around would regret it; she had an air of street-smart toughness about her, just below the surface.

But in spite of her self-doubt, she reveled in being naked and showing off her slim body, and she had this curiously naive aura.

One evening, after we’d both showered, she asked me, ‘‘Would you like to hang around for a while?’’

‘‘There’s nothing I’d like better.’’

‘‘Diana’s gone, for the day, so I’m in charge. Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be right back.’’ She waved a set of keys in the air.

I was still warm and glowing from my session so I stayed in the towel and lay back on the mattress. A few moments later Tamara reappeared in her kimono, carrying a silver drinks tray. Expertly, she lowered herself onto her knees and handed me a foaming beer while she sipped from a champagne flute.

‘‘I don’t know much about you, Tamara.’’

‘‘I’m from east Europe, so I’m an immigrant here, but I don’t feel like one anymore. Well, I still am, once an immigrant always an immigrant.’’ She said.

‘‘What about your parents?’’

‘‘They’re simple, honest toilers and though they would never leave our homeland, they insisted I did. I was young, and they were desperate for me to have a secure future.’’

‘‘How long have you been here?’’

‘‘Five years.’’

‘‘You’ve mastered the language.’’

‘‘Back home we had German lessons at school. Anyway, if I put my mind to something, I can do almost anything.’’

‘‘I believe that.’’

‘‘My parents and everybody who knows me back home think I’ve established myself as a successful physiotherapist and therefore, in their eyes and words, I’ve really cracked it. What they don’t know can’t hurt them.’’

‘‘But you’re ambitious, I bet.’’

‘‘Yes, one day I’ll have my own business, a respectable business.’’

Then we were quiet, reflective for a while.

‘‘I could be your father.’’ I whispered as we lounged together on the mattress, some crappy new age music bubbling just below the irritation level.

She laughed and jabbed me in the ribs, ‘‘My old man.’’ She said petting my face. ‘‘Or are you looking for compliments?’’

‘‘Am I that obvious?’’

‘‘We could have fun together.’’

‘‘I thought I was too old.’’

‘‘I didn’t say too old. I said my old man, but I was joking. Are you always so touchy?’’

‘‘Sorry. I’m not used to spending time with young women.’’

‘‘I know your type, you spend too much time with single men, drinking.’’

‘‘It’s less complicated.’’

‘‘That’s why you need people like me.’’

‘‘Usually people like you don’t talk like you.’’

‘‘Too much you mean.’’

‘‘No. They don’t talk enough or it’s what they don’t say.’’

‘‘Usually men like you don’t seem to want to talk.’’

‘‘Believe me we do. It’s just that we’ve forgotten what to say or how to say it to young women. Especially ones like you.’’

‘‘What are ones like me?’’

‘‘Young, pretty, street smart and cheeky.’’

We lay together, side by side, in a dreamy, comfortable silence interspersed with unforced snatches of whispered exchanges and touching; outside the night was warm and alive, with groups of people talking and smoking in the light thrown by the surrounding eatery windows, the cigarette smoke drifting up to our open window, from where it was banished back into the night by a well placed electric fan. I heard the bells from the not far off Catholic church clock tower chime out ten pm. I sighed.

‘‘You don’t let anyone in.’’ She said.

‘‘Only the right ones.’’

‘‘How do you know who the right ones are?’’

‘‘They’re the only ones who get in.’’

She gave me a sad smile as she went off to refresh our drinks.

That night with Tamara established a nice precedent; we would often meet in the evening and after the massage while away a few hours together over drinks talking about everything and nothing, sometimes we would spend the night in the parlour together.

From the windows you could look out onto the square and the sounds of conversations and laughter would drift across as I lay awake beside a sleeping Tamara; even in the early hours there were always a few denizens standing in front of a still closed Clint’s with coffees and takeaways from the local eateries, and after a quick shower and a peck on Tamara’s drowsing cheek I would join them and chew the cud for a while, enjoying a couple of coffees and banter.

Tamara and I clearly hit it off but that was as far as it could have gone, otherwise it would have sounded like a Hollywood cliché; masseuse meets up with grizzled, old loner with a drink problem then they live happily ever after. That wasn’t real life. Not mine anyway and certainly not Tamara’s.

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This publication is part 7 of 8 in the series When Olivia met K