Fifty Shades of Neigh – Part Nine, My Other Mom’s A Crack Whore

Last time, Crispian and Hanna consummated their relationship in front of an audience of My Little Ponys. It was gross. Also, after being subjected to the horrors of Hanna’s internal sex monologue and ignored regarding the moral shortfalls of fraud, Hanna’s Inner Goddess sought revenge by taking up mime.

*

 

I wake up in unfamiliar surroundings – again. Hmm. Making rather a habit of this. Last night I woke up from a strange symbolic dream (The usual. Grey hats. White ponies. Huge phallic vegetables.) to the sound of sketching. I wrapped Crispian’s Hawaiian shirt around me and went to look for him.

I found him behind the drawing board, absorbed, intense and so freaking hot oh my god.

I’m going to draw you now, he said, and turned over the leaf of paper. Take off my shirt.

So I did. Holy crap – I was like, totally naked. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. At school I’d been voted Girl Most Likely To Be Found Eaten By A Dozen Cats In Front Of A DVD Of Titanic, but I never imagined that one day an artist might want to draw me like one of his French girls.

Maybe he didn’t. Maybe I was dreaming.

He’s still asleep and I really don’t want to hit up my Inner Goddess for advice after the unpleasantness last night, so I put his shirt back on and retrace my steps. The papers lie flat on his drawing board. There’s a sort of flap on top of them, holding them smooth, and when I look I see that the flap is more of a lid, padlocked to the bottom part of the board.

Hmm. Maybe…just maybe if I knew how to undo that lock I could see how he saw me. Maybe then I really would hold the key to his heart…

Oh great. Marceline Marceau has woken up from her bitchy sleep and is now rolling around on the floor clutching her stomach and making vomit faces. That’s all I need.

I ignore her and go on into the kitchen. I think I’ll cook him breakfast – he’ll like that. I’m a super cook, which is odd considering I can barely walk in a straight line and am prohibited from entering hardware stores. And yet somehow as soon as I get into a kitchen I’m supremely confident and perfectly safe to be trusted around gas, fire, radiation, electricity, crushing implements, blenders, mincers, cleavers and very sharp knives.

He comes out of the bedroom as I’m frying bacon. “You can cook?” he gasps, looking at me like I’m special, precious.

Bitch-mime rolls her eyes. I hate her so much.

“I like cooking,” I say. “It soothes me.”

It doesn’t soothe him. He’s on edge as soon as I pick up a knife and start cutting tomatoes.

“Hanna, don’t cut yourself.”

“I won’t, I promise. Don’t worry about me.”

“Yeah, sure. It’s just that those worktops are new and blood is a fucker to get off Italian marble.”

I laugh. Who said he had no sense of humour? “How do you like your eggs?” I ask.

“Unfertilized,” he says, and laughs loudly for about five minutes. “Unfertilized,” he repeats, punching me lightly on the upper arm. “You like that one? Huh?”

I nod. At that moment the door buzzer goes. “Oh, what the fuck,” moans Christian, into the intercom. “Yeah, alright Mom. Come on up.”

Mom? Holy crap – I’m wearing nothing but a loud shirt and a frown. I stare at him, beater in hand, dripping raw scrambled egg all over his kitchen floor. “Your mother?” I gasp.

“No, my father. I call him Mom.”

I blink at him for a moment.

“Joke,” he says, and laughs. “Another sick burn from the Neighster.”

Before I can even think about finding my clothes, Crispian buzzes his mother into the apartment. She looks good considering she must be at least forty. Her fingernails are immaculate and her hair, bobbed to her well-padded shoulders, is blonde. Oh crap.

I drop the egg-beater.

“Whoops,” says Crispian, as I bend to pick it up. He slaps my ass. “Best put on some panties, toots – I don’t think my Mother would appreciate the view.”

I straighten up and pull the shirt down over my thighs, my cheeks (both sets) glowing. “Oh yeah,” I say. “I guess you’ve seen enough of those, right?”

Mrs. Neigh frowns. Her forehead doesn’t move much.

“You’re a lady doctor, right?” I babble. “I mean, a doctor of ladies…um…so you probably see a lot of…um…”

“Vaginas,” says Crispian, helpfully.

“My husband is a fertility specialist,” says Mrs. Neigh, holding out a hand. “I’m a psychiatrist.”

Double crap. Blondes don’t like me, and I don’t like psychiatrists. They lie. They tell you that if you take the medicine the voices will go away.

My Inner Goddess stifles a malicious giggle and makes a zipping gesture across her white painted lips. Okay, maybe voices aren’t so bad after all. I really hate mimes.

“Claudia Trescothick-Neigh,” she says. “And you must be…?”

“Hanna. Hanna Squeal.”

“Oh dear. I am sorry. Where on earth did you find her, Cris?”

“She kind of faceplanted in the lobby of my building,” he says. “Then I found her working in this toystore nearby and coincidentally – totally by accident – ran into her while she was throwing up on a Mexican in a parking lot.”

Claudia’s mouth is a thin, cold line. She shakes her head. “You’re stalking her, in other words?” She turns to me. “Is he stalking you? I can’t apologise enough. I can recommend a wonderful attorney if you need a restraini…”

I shake my head. “I don’t need a restraining order,” I say. “I understand him perfectly.”

Crispian’s mother sits down at the breakfast bar and fishes last night’s wine out of the melted ice bucket. “Well, good for you,” she sneers, examining the label. “Personally I’ve always found him baffling…Crispian, did you really chill a twenty year old Bordeaux?”

“I think it’s better cold,” he sniffs. My heart breaks in that instant, seeing him as a vulnerable little boy, desperate for his mother’s approval. I smooth the shirt down over my thighs and draw closer to him.

“Well, you’ve always been peculiar,” she says. “What with the obsessive streak and the strange fascinations. Prone to eczma too – oh, that reminds me – any progress on that pilonidal cyst?”

“Mo-ther…” says Crispian. “Do you have to?”

“Have to what? Care about you? Pay attention to you? Yes, I think it’s somewhere in my job description as your mother. Somewhere between diaper changes and putting up the seed capital for your dot com nonsense.”

“I just bought a helicopter thanks to that ‘dot com nonsense’,” he says, curling his lip.

“Good for you, dear. Perhaps if you get the bathroom fittings gold plated they’ll let you go on MTV Cribs.”

He glares at her. “You see what I have to put up with?” he says, turning to me. “She spends all her time trying to fix her patients when her own family is as dysfunctional as hell…”

“Physician, heal thyself,” says Claudia, rolling her eyes and burying her nose in her wine glass.

“…why don’t you tell Hanna, mother? Tell her about how you bought me from my real mother? The crack whore?”

Claudia Tresgothick-Neigh puts down the glass and sighs. “For the last time, Crispian – don’t overdramatise. She was a nice little college girl from Iowa who simply didn’t have the money for a baby or the stomach for an abortion.” She turns back to me and smiles a Bordeaux tinted smile. “We still exchange cards at Christmas. Sweet girl. Very bright. No idea what went wrong.”

Crispian snorts. He is furious, red-faced and rather sexy. “Oh yes. I wonder what went wrong,” he snarls, sarcastically. “What could possibly go wrong with a child raised by a closet-case and a hopeless fucking soak?”

“Darling, really – that’s not fair. I may be a soak but I’m still an optimist…”

“Is that why you abandoned Alicia?” he yells. “Your buoyant, cheerful spirit persuaded you to send her all the way across the ocean, did it?”

She rubs the bridge of her nose and sighs. “Crispian, Alicia thought she was a videogame character. We’ve been through this…”

“…you didn’t even try to help her…”

“…yes I did. We all did, but after about fifteen different psychiatric referrals we came to the conclusion that the best way to help her was to let her go to Japan and experience the reality of being yet another dumpy white girl in cat ears.”

“Really?” says Crispian. “And how’s that working out, Mom?”

“Alright, fine – she did call me a ‘baka gaijin’ the last time I spoke to her but at least she’s stopped miaowing. It’s a start, Cris.”

“I know what you’re trying to do,” I say. I say it so softly that they double take.

“I know what you’re trying to do,” I say again, looking his mother in the eye. “You’re trying to control him…”

“…Hanna…”

I hold up a hand and continue. “You don’t want to cut the apron strings because you can’t bear the idea of your little boy becoming a man.”

Crispian’s mother arches her eyebrows as far as her Botox permits, but I’m not scared of her. I’m a woman now – I don’t need to take this shit from blondes. “That’s why you tell me he’s strange and obsessive and try to scare me away from him,” I say. “Because you can’t bear the idea of me taking away the baby you wanted more than anything else in the world.”

She presses her lips together. “Yes,” she says. “That’s probably it. Somehow, with my Doctorate in Psychiatry, I must have missed that.”

“I’m a student of Literature, Mrs. Neigh,” I say. “While I may not understand the medical jargon I still see a great deal of the world, reflected in the mirror of art. My literary heroes are Heathcliff, Romeo, Edward Cullen…your son’s obsessive streak doesn’t scare me. It only wakes a dark, sleeping passion within me.”

She stares at me for another moment and takes another sip of Margaux. “Well,” she says. “You’re both adults and perfectly capable of calling the police, I suppose. If it’s obsessive you want then you’ve certainly got that…”

“…mother, will you just leave?”

“I’m going, I’m going,” she says, gathering up her giant purse that probably costs five times more than my car. She glances at me, knowing she’s beaten. “Best of luck, dear – it’s been two years now and so far nothing has trounced his obsession with those stupid fucking ponies.”

*

When I get home, Kate is packing.

“Oh,” she says, almost dropping a box of stuff in her surprise. “It’s you.”

“Of course it’s me. I live here.”

“Of course you do,” she says, putting down the box and smiling. “We were going to tell you – honest. I just…I hadn’t figured out how to explain it to you.”

Jesús comes by carrying a desk chair. He spots me and says “Oh shit.”

“Are you…moving house?” I murmur. “Were you going to move house without telling me?”

Kate shakes her head. “Noooo. Nothing like that. Anyway, where the hell have you been? We’ve been worried sick.”

“No we haven’t,” says Jesús. She kicks him in the ankle.

I smile, secretively, and go to my room. They haven’t started packing in there yet. Kate follows me.

“So? Did you bone him?”

Bone – it’s Kate’s word for sex. I hate it. It’s devoid of warmth. She also likes bang, fuck, screw, pork, rollin’ over in the clover and fuckytime. She sees me shudder and sighs.

“I’m sorry,” she exhales. “Did you ‘make love’ or whatever the book club set are calling it these days?”

I fold my arms around myself. There’s an empty space in my chest when I think of him saying ‘I don’t make love – I clop.’ I don’t even know what that is. “We were intimate, yes,” I murmur.

“Oh. Intimate,” says Kate, in a cod English accent. “You don’t look too happy about it.”

“It was nice. I liked it.” And I did. It’s just…well…the ponies were offputting. I used to play with My Little Ponys when I was six. It’s a bit strange having them staring at me while I’m doing that – like staring into your own childhood at a time when you should absolutely never, ever be thinking about children.

“I met his mother,” I say.

She raises her eyebrows. “While you were fucking him?”

“No. After. She turned up for breakfast. She’s kind of a harpy. And there’s something weird going on with the sister – Alicia. She thinks she’s a cat or something. Do you think it’s something sinister?”

Kate shakes her head. “Nah. Probably just plot set-up for a sequel.”

“A sequel?”

“I  know right? There’s hardly enough plot for one book, let alone a sequel, but what are you gonna do? Twenty first century publishing’s a dirty old game.”

I have no idea what she’s talking about. “When were you going to tell me you were moving house?” I ask, determined to gain the upper hand in the conversation.

“Um…soon,” she prevaricates. “I dunno – it’s like Jesús changed everything. This new place – Jesús is going to be moving in too and I didn’t know how you’d feel about it, since he’d started being such a sex pest towards you and everything.”

“Kate, I hardly think one incident in a parking lot makes him a sex pest.”

“No, but it kind of does,” she mumbles. “When he gets really fucking high like that he always tries to stick his head under girls’ skirts – it’s like he was a dog in a previous life or something.”

“Didn’t hear you complaining, mi Catalina!” Jesús calls out, from the hallway.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” shouts Kate. “What part of ‘Don’t eat Hanna’s pussy in the motherfucking parking lot’ didn’t sound like a complaint to you, you lazy prick?”

Jesús sticks his head around the door. “Grammatically speaking it was more of a command than a complaint,” he grins. “A complaint would have maybe involved a please but you went straight to the imperative.” His smile widens even further when he sees me. “Hi Hanna. Did you bone the billionaire?”

“Out,” says Kate, getting up off my bed. She chases Jesús off, leaving me alone with my thoughts, which are currently pretending to be trapped in an invisible box. It’s annoying, to say the least.

I lie on my bed for a while and think about all the packing I’m going to need to do, then the doorbell rings. It rings twice and I wonder why nobody is answering it, but when I go out into the hall I can hear Kate and Jesús have taken their fight into her room.

It would be too much like consideration on their part to actually shut up while I open the door, so they carry on. Naylor is standing at the door. He wears his black suit and earpiece, only this time instead of a bouquet of pink roses he’s carrying what looks like a laptop computer. There’s a bow tied around it and a helium balloon bearing the face of the pink pony whose name I should probably know by now but don’t.

“Compliments of Mr. Neigh, Miss,” he says.

“What?” I say, which seems to be the only thing that springs to mind. “Naylor, I can’t accept this.”

“I’m to come in and set it up for you, Miss,” he tells me.

I wonder about Naylor. Is this all he does – delivering gifts for Crispian Neigh’s women. How many other women have there been, how many other bouquets and computers? His eyes flicker towards the door, where Kate is yelling like a woman in a headlock. Which she probably is. She and Jesús like to wrestle when they’re drunk. (Which is often.)

“Oh God, oh God, oh Jesus…”

“It’s pronounced Hay-soos,” says Jesús, in a strangled voice.

“Is everything alright in here?” asks Naylor tentatively.

“Fine, Naylor,” I say, trying to sound patrician and unflappable, like Claudia Trescothick-Neigh. “Please, return the computer. I can’t accept expensive gifts like this.” Part of me wants to, but all I can think about it what Kate will say. The word ‘ho’ will probably figure into the conversation somewhere.

Naylor doesn’t move.

“You have to go now,” I say. “And take that with you.”

He still doesn’t move. Something goes thud in the living room. Kate has probably killed Jesús, or vice versa.

“Naylor, really,” I say. “Take the laptop back to Mr. Neigh and tell him thanks but no thanks. This is beginning to feel wrong.”

“I can’t do that, Miss,” he tells me. “Mr. Neigh’s orders. Do you want me to configure it for your Wifi or do you want to wait until you’ve finished moving house?”

I stare at the computer. It leers at me like the lid of Pandora’s Box. Part of me wants it – really wants it. If I could learn the internet then maybe I could be a bit more…normal. Nobody would ever laugh at me for using silver pens and Hello Kitty stationery again. And I could learn things. Sex things. And then he might like me even more than ponies.

It’s an investment really.

Kate comes back out as Naylor’s leaving. “Holy shit,” she says, looking out of the window and seeing the company SUV drive away. “He bought you a fucking computer?”

“I know what you’re going to say…”

Kate buttons her shirt and sits down at the dining table, where the computer is all set up and ready to go. “No way,” she murmurs. “What’s the spec on this thing? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like this before. Hey, Jesús – come and check this out.”

Jesús comes out of the living room. He looks flushed but they’re obviously friends again. “Where the hell did your boyfriend get this, Hanna?” he says.

I turn about fifty shades of red all at once. My boyfriend. How I would love for him to be my boyfriend, but he’s too rich, too remote. And I can’t help thinking the pony thing is a little bit weird.

“Holy shit – look at this thing. He probably built it from secret plans that Steve Jobs handed over on his deathbed,” says Kate, taking a drag from Jesús’ horrible herbal cigarette. “It’s so thin.”

“I know right? And look at that screen.” Jesús tugs at the ribbon. “And what’s with the My Little Pony balloon?”

I want to tell someone. I want to, so much, but I remember what he said. “You’re the only woman who has ever seen inside this room, Hanna.”

So I say “I like My Little Pony,” and Jesús laughs.

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” he says.

The computer makes a ‘broop’ noise and Kate stares at it. Oh my God. She’s broken it already.

“Relax,” she says. “It’s just your e-mail.”

E-mail? I have e-mail?

Kate touches something and the screen changes.

“There,” she says. “E-mail.”

To: Hanna Squeal serendipony@houyhnhmn.com

From: Crispian Neigh bronynproud@neigh.net

Welcome to my world, Hanna. A world of delights and fascination await you.

xxx

C.

“And Warcraft,” says Jesús.

“Not to mention fat, busty dwarf maidens,” mutters Kate. “You want to reply, Hanna?”

I nod. “What do I do?”

“Click here. It’ll fill in your addresses automatically. Just type your response in there. I can’t believe I’m having to explain shit like this to a person under seventy. How do you miss like the entire digital revolution?”

“Crispian says I’m self contained,” I say, with a measure of pride.

“Well, I guess that’s one word for it,” opines Jesús. Kate kicks him again.

“Don’t start fighting again, you guys.”

“We weren’t…” he begins, but once more I hear her boot crack against his ankle bone.

“Shh,” says Kate, her hands almost tender as she ties a length of pink ribbon around my hair. “She’s so self-contained. Let’s keep it that way.”

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