for all you Ryan Gosling fans out there.
Inspired by a line from The Fades.
Henry heard the doorbell and looked at his watch. They had said six thirty, and she was punctual to the minute. He checked his hair one last time in the hallway mirror before answering the door. Henry’s last girlfriend had left him, three months earlier, abruptly. Lucy had also broke up with someone around the same time and this was their first official date. She was taller and older looking than he remembered her from the dinner party. But then, after all, he was drunk that night and embarrassingly recalled slurring his words and spilling gravy down his white shirt. She was a little pale for his liking and her round, thin-rimmed glasses reminded him of the Nazi general Heinrich Himmler, but the overall impression was one of composure and elegance. She was immaculately neat and he liked that. Tonight, he thought, he too would be the model of chivalry as he held her hand to help her into the black cab waiting for them at the bottom of the steps and she lifted her blue satin dress up over her shoes stepping across a puddle.
On their way to the theatre Lucy told him about the new rendering of Les Miserables that they were about to see. Apparently after a twenty five year run the theatre directors had decided the show needed modernizing, something to keep the aging classic interesting for contemporary audiences. There had been a dramatic re-write, a new cast were brought in, several B-list celebrities, and running centre stage was international flavor of the month, Ryan Gosling as the young vibrant French revolutionary Jean Valjean. No expense had been spared. Plus there were incredible stage effects, everything was real; the swords, the gunpowder and the most impressively of all- the Guillotine. This was demonstrated in the opening scene where, apparently, a full body pig, dead of course, was casually sliced in two, live on stage.
‘It’ll be quite the spectacle, that’s for sure’
Henry remarked and Lucy winked at him and Henry felt his pulse quicken and his stomach quiver. He straightened his back and looked at her from the corner of his eye giving a sideways smile. That’s right he thought, don’t give it all away.
They ate at a restaurant next to the Theatre and the conversation was polite. Feeling as though he wasn’t being interesting enough Henry changed tactics and dug deep for his best anecdotes, recalling them far to quickly then stopping suddenly, paranoid that he was talking too much. He laughed into his third glass of wine, speckling flecks of red all over his face. Lucy looked up from her steak, gave a soft smile and handed him a napkin.
They settled into their seats, third row from the front, and Henry apologised that all the boxes were booked. In truth they were just too expensive. They’re wonderful seats Lucy reassured him, and they were. Sitting close to him now he could smell her perfume, reminding him of spring and juniper berries, and he lowered his hand to touch hers but recalled it nervously, as she stared forward, waiting patiently for the show to begin.
The curtain rose and, as expected it was spectacular, Gosling strutting from stage right to stage left in a costume like a tattered regal pheasant, explosions, sword fights, rotating sets, real horses! And then of course, the Guillotine. Henry re-crossed his legs and decided it couldn’t hold any longer, he’d have to go to the bathroom, apologizing to Lucy and everyone else on the row as they stood to let him past.
‘Hurry’ Lucy whispered as he went, ‘you’re going to miss the pig’
And sure enough as he left the auditorium the butches boy wheeled on the dead beast and Gosling kicked out the backs of an aristocrats knees as the deadly blade was raised to the clicking sound of cogs. He cursed as from the end of the side corridor as Henry heard the blade drop, a gasp from the audience and then a rapturous applause. Pulling up his flies, Henry heard the clicking cogs again, the blade rising presumably this time for the aristocrat’s neck. And then there was a snap, a swoosh and a loud scream. Henry turned off the tap. The silence was broken by a frantic cry for a doctor and Henry heard commotion break out in the theatre, scrambling of chairs and people getting to their feet. He hurried back down the corridor and burst through the doors to see the Guillotine blade hanging precariously from one rope, a smear of red across one corner. Amongst a gabble of stunned cast, between two halves of a dead pig, convulsing in a heap on the floor was Ryan Gosling. And he was torn open from neck to naval. And there, hunched over him was Lucy, her left hand deep in the open wound, her blue satin dress drenched in blood.
‘We’ve got to stop the bleeding!’ she shouted to the huddle surrounding her as she put her thumb into a protruding tube of meat as it squirted blood over her thin-rimmed glasses.
‘The blades struck the vertebral column’ she said and pushed her hand deeper still into Goslings belly, something else burst and a thick spray covered the remaining blue of her dress and the exposed skin of her neck and lower face.
‘Give her some room!’ someone shouted as she plunged her second hand into the wound.
‘If I can… just…. reach… the pulmonary artery’ she said through clenched teeth as Gosling gave one last violent jerk and sagged into a still lifeless heap.
Lucy’s shoulders drooped too and she stood up, wiping her hands pointlessly on her blood soaked dress, saying simply
It was if the spell holding the rooms in silence was broken. There was an eruption of talk and crowds of people began to clamber on stage, cameras snapped, old ladies fainted and through the commotion Lucy quietly moved away and out a side door.
Down a corridor she found a fire exit to an alleyway and stepped out into the cool evening air, her breath becoming mist against a streetlight. Staggering behind her came Henry. He felt faint and lent against the alley wall to hold his balance. Lucy turned to look at him, her face a mask of red, only the round white circles of her glasses breaking the colour.
‘B-but Lucy…’ he stammered,
‘you’re an accountant.’
‘Yes.’ she agreed.
‘I just wanted to know what a mans guts felt like.’
She winked at him, then licked her lips.