Thursday, January 23, 2014

fashion shoot

The contrast between Isla, the young hostel officer, and Jake and Siobhan, the two NFAs on the bed, could not be more pronounced. In fact, if I didn’t know the details of the job, and didn’t have all the other corroborating evidence – the late hour, the familiar surroundings, the sounds and the smells – I’d think that I’d wandered onto the set of a fashion photo-shoot, Beauty and the Beasts, where the model’s perfect skin and figure look even more incredible against the harsh urban backdrop.
Isla leans in the doorway, her right hand elegantly draped over the gentle curve of her belly, her left resting on the radio slung at her hip. The radio is the heaviest thing about her, a jarring piece of kit, set against the abundant and glossy tangle of her auburn hair , her long neck, and the pearlescent clarity of her skin.
‘Go away! There’s nuffin’ wrong with me’ says Siobhan.
‘We’re here to help,’ says Isla. ‘You had a fit.’
Jake leans in to apologise.
‘She don’t mean to be rude,’ he says.
‘And you had a fit, too,’ says Isla. ‘Buy one, get one free.’
‘Yeah, yeah, I know. But it’s the drink, mate. We’re both alkay-holics you know what I mean? We’ve been trying to cut down, but I think we went a bit too far, too quick. Like the alky bends. I think we need some help with it.’
‘I think that’s a good idea.’
Both Siobhan and Jake have the blushed and blasted look of drunks the world over. It’s a Before and After shot of the most extreme order: Isla, young, healthy, with an empathetic side to her that only heightens her beauty; and the couple on the bed, utterly cast down by their experience of the world, at the lowest point bar the street, with a sense of themselves reduced to a point of sickness that can only be relieved by the very thing that brought them low.
Jake vomits.
It’s an extraordinary thing, more like the possetting of a baby. He doesn’t move at all, doesn’t heave or retch. He simply opens his mouth and releases a spillage of milky white substance that runs down his chin and onto his lap. It’s only then I realise he’s wearing a pair of waterproof over trousers, despite the humid atmosphere of the room.
Isla passes him some tissue.
‘Sorry. Sorry,’ says Jake, dabbing himself dry. ‘I’ve been having this lately.’
Isla resumes her position at the door, a little further out.
It’s so hot this high up in the hostel they’ve set up a big fan one end of the corridor. Isla is standing in the draught of it now; the current of air gently pushing her hair about, so it glints richly, vibrantly, in the light from the overhead strip.
‘Faak orf,’ says Siobhan.


Cassandra said...

I like how you played out the contrast between the two. I find myself drawn to Isla, especially as she is empathetic as well as beautiful, as you say. It's all too easy to be callous and self-absorbed in the modern world, especially if you've got a lot going for you.

It makes me wonder…when did the downhill slide start for the two of them? When was the last time someone looked at them and envied their good looks/health/station in life/etc.? It just makes me think.

Spence Kennedy said...

I could quite imagine Isla in a very different environment - something with red carpets and not moppable laminate, for example - but the fact she was helping out in a hostel is great!

I wonder how people end up in such awful circumstances, too. There must be so many factors (none of them good, I'm guessing). To say it's self-destructive doesn't even come close. The dark underbelly of the alcohol industry, that's for sure.

Thanks very much for the comment, Cass. Hope all's good with you :)

jacksofbuxton said...

I'm not so sure they're alcoholics Spence.I suspect it might be used as an excuse for calling you out and to cover any embarrassment for the state they're in.

Still,get the charcoal cocktail into them to settle their tums....

Spence Kennedy said...

I'm not so sure, Jack. It was the staff there who called us, because they'd seen them fitting in an alcohol-withdrawal kind of context. No overdoses to report, so no charcoal (thank goodness - dreadful stuff).

They were both pretty up-front about their problems, I have to say. (And both had been to A&E before with similar, so they were a known quantity, so to speak...) Felt sorry for them. Dreadful situation to land up in, whatever the reason. At least Isla the Angel was there to keep an eye things. :)