“Walking on the Wild Side”
By Kerry Hodges
He walks briskly into the bedroom; eyes scanning the half-light, anxious for
reassurance, though the room is familiar; his escape, his delight.
Standing on the once expensive, well-worn rug, he closes his eyes, aware of
his breath coming fast and shallow. Pulling in the air deeply, he stops on the
step between the in and the out, and relaxes as it escapes. This is repeated as
he now begins to feel the strain leave his body.
The bed is made. Tidily topped with scatter cushions, different sizes,
different patterns but all artfully matched.
He pulls back the duvet, sending cushions scattering across the bed. That’s
better. The unmade bed. Inviting, slept in, played in.
Passing a hand across a cheek he is reminded that stubble needs to be
removed, his cheeks made smooth.
Bending, he removes first one brogue, then the other, revealing orange and
grey striped socks.
Undoing the belt of his sharply creased chinos he slips them off, followed
swiftly by his boxers. With each move, he feels his body relax further.
Off comes the woollen overcoat, pulled roughly from his body as though it isn’t
his, doesn’t belong. A cream mohair jumper and grey linen shirt are added to
the growing pile of clothes.
He stands naked, observing his body in the long mirror with a critical eye;
distaste snarling around his lips.
In the en-suite, he finds shaving gear and is soon back in the bedroom; legs
and face sleek and smooth and smelling sweetly of Chanel ‘Madamoiselle’.
The wardrobe door is slightly ajar. He opens it wider, eager to view its
contents. A smile. One of recognition, pleasure.
Making his choice, he pulls a purple pair of knickers over his buttocks,
smoothing them against his skin. And does it again, appreciating the silkiness.
A dark stocking is gently coaxed along each leg and held fast with a satin
Over his not as slender as they were hips, a black silk dress is coaxed and
zipped carefully at the front, avoiding the escape of tell-tale ginger hair.
On the windowsill, bottles of nail varnish stand like a rainbow army.
Choosing ‘Renaissance Rouge’, he flicks on the bedside lamp and, perched on
the edge of the bed, carefully applies the crimson colour to his nails.
Pause, he checks his breathing. Slower, deeper, relaxed. A smile.
A makeup bag is retrieved from the drawer in the up-cycled Farrow and Ball
table. He sketches on his eyebrows, shaped forming two perfect
brackets, toppled. His eyes are changed with eyeshadow, mascara and liner.
Made alluring. Cheeks are blushed with powder. Lips lusciously licked by
He smiles, patting his lips with a tissue, then applies a second coat, as he’d
watched his mother do years ago.
The wig, with layers of yellow-ginger hair is pulled from a shelf. Placing
one hand inside it he shakes loose the fibres. Smoothing his own, short hair
back, he tilts his head forward and positions the wig just above his eyebrows.
He then slips it on. Moving it slightly backwards, and into place.
Again he pauses, breathes and smiles. He cannot prevent the smile, doesn’t
attempt to. Too often there are no smiles.
He peers again in the long mirror on the back of the door through which he
so recently walked. Standing before him is a tall, elegant woman, smiling her
confidence and seeking satisfaction.
The frazzled, fractious man has left the room.
Slipping her feet into suede high heels, she grabs a matching bag as there’s a rap at the door.
She’s ready for her walk on the wild side.