Mr Meal Deal 4 (‘Numbers’ short story collection)

 

It’s midnight on a Friday night and I’ve just left work. Going through the park taking it as a short cut is never a good idea, but I’m good at making bad decisions and tonight’s no different, so through the park I go. I can hear the rowdy drunk teens in the distance. I pick my pace up to a brisk walk and keep my head down as I walk past the teens standing around a bench, glugging down their buckfast and strongbow.

 

“Hey, you. You got a light?” a young lad shouted. I felt my lighter in my pocket, hesitated and then turned to lend it to him.

“Cheers love”, he said while offering me a fag. I declined.

He lit up his cigarette, took a drag and then asked, “So you single sweetheart?”

“Not for you I’m not”, I replied.

The group gave a loud ooohhhh and then sniggered.

“Alight alright cheeky. Playing hard to get I see. Come on, I know you want it.” He winked and took another drag of his cigarette.

I held out my hand unimpressed, “Can I have my lighter back?” He looked at me in disbelief, as if I was turning down the god of male models. If only he could recognise that he was nothing more than a skinny, spotty teen, honestly he was nothing more than an arrogant prick. He held out the lighter for me to take it, but pulled it away as I went to grab it. He did this teasing trick a few times while everyone laughed.

“I’m just muckin’ round, here take it.”

This time I took the lighter in my hand, but he grabbed my wrist as I did so, pulling me against his gaunt body, his breath had an overpowering stench of alcohol and he pressed his mouth hard against mine and forced his tongue down my throat. The group cheered and hooted as he did so. I used all my strength to pull away and bit his lip causing him to loosen his grip. He touched his bloody lip and said, “I told you y’ wanted it sweetheart.” He winked again while I ran off tearfully. He threw my lighter at me “There’s your fuckin’ lighter you greasy haired slut. You might wanna have a wash, you smell like you’ve been rollin’ around in chips.” The youths laughed and continued slugging down their alcohol.

 

I guess going through the park wasn’t such a good idea late on a Friday night. I soon make it home safe opening the door to the dark stairwell, the fluorescent lights flicker on from my movement and I climb up 5 floors to get to my flat. I open the door to hear my rowdy flatmate has people round tonight. She comes in to the hallway plastered in make up with a revealing dress on and a cocktail umbrella stuck in her hair. “Wheeyheeeeyyy look who’s home!” She gives me a huge hug and leaves her lipstick stain on my cheek. She’s always so affectionate after a few drinks.

“How was work hun?” she asks while examining my chipped nail varnish on my fingernails.

“Usual” I replied.

“Come and have a drink”

“I’ve been working all day I just wanna go to bed to be honest.”

“Aw come on there’s loads of cute guys” she laughed in her usual over-the-top cackle.

 

I eventually give in to my charming housemate and go into the living room to be greeted my girls dressed up to the nines, and boys who have clearly bathed in aftershave and spent way to much time applying gel to their hair. I spend most of the evening listening to the girls discussing the boys, and who’s handsome, or has the best abs, or who’s the most gentlemanly, while the boys discuss the girls and who has the best rack. My ass gets smacked a few too many times, it’s bad enough in a club but it’s even more annoying in your own home. It’s ridiculous how many parties, clubs, pubs, and any form of social event revolves around men ‘pulling’ women. Since when were they entitled to us? It’s impossible to politely tell them we’re not interested. They see it as a challenge and keep flirting and trying to touch us. I usually give up and have to say I’m a lesbian or have a boyfriend. Saying I’m a lesbian sometimes backfires and they’re asking for threesomes or details about how lesbians have sex, and the fact that they even ask that question shows how limited their knowledge is of sex. For fucks sake they act like animals on instinct rather than rational thinking human’s. The boyfriend thing works best, they seem to respect other men far more than our lack of interest or female partner. I’m stuck asking the same question as every other straight female, where the fuck have all the good men gone? I’m sick of the men who jeer, and I dislike the way I’m treated when I show no interest in having sex with them.

 

I open another cheap warm beer and sit in the corner by myself as people either play drinking games, practically have sex with one another, or dance around “sexily”. I’m so bored and so tired and I have to get up for another day at work tomorrow and the last thing I want is to be imprisoned in my own home. A tall longhaired guy comes and sits next to me and looks at me for a while. Oh here we go another creep. “You smell like chips.”

I smile sarcastically, “Thanks”. I take a sip of my drink.

“I’m sorry that was a sucky opening.” He puts his hand out to shake mine, I know better than to shake it thinking back to the guy in the park. He pulls his hand away. “I’m sorry. Honestly I wasn’t trying to be insulting. I know you work in Chip’s Chips, don’t you recognise me?”

I observe the guys face to see if I know him, but I shake my head.

“I guess I’m just not a memorable guy eh!”

“Sorry” I take another drink.

“I get the meal deal 4 every week. I say to myself that I should try something different, I stare at the menu thinking I will but still manage to choose the same thing every time. It’s funny how we do that isn’t it?”

I say nothing.

“So were you working tonight?”

“Listen let’s just skip the small talk. I’m not going to have sex with you. I’m covered in grease, my hair is a mess, I have no make up on, I’m still in my uniform, I stink of chips, I’m wearing flat unattractive dyke shoes, I’m tired and I’m just not interested. I’ll tell you I have a boyfriend and then you’ll leave and try someone else who has there tits and ass hanging out, because apparently that’s an invite for you to fuck them since they’re “clearly asking for it”.”

The guy looks at me in disbelief.

“Yes I’m a woman with an opinion, deal with it.”

I get up and go to my room and lock the door. I’ve had enough.

 

My alarm blares at 6am. I’ve barely slept and I wake up smelling of chips and beer. Heading to the bathroom, someone is sleeping in the bathtub, the entire flat is covered in bottles, leftover takeaway food, and passed out guests. I turn the shower on which gets the guy out of the bathtub quick enough. “What the fuck are you doing!” he yells as I shut the door in his face. What a great start to the day. Breakfast isn’t any better; some hilarious individual has apparently decided to throw all the cereal across the kitchen. I make a cup of coffee only for my flatmate to take it out of my hand when she walks into the kitchen,

“oh thanks hun”.

As if I fucking made it for her.

“It was a great party eh?”

“Yeah, yeah really great.” I roll my eyes.

“Do you fancy going to spoons for a fryup?”

“I’m going to work. I’ll see you later.”

“Ah shit one hun.”

 

I arrive at work with bags under my eyes and ready to zone out and get the day over and done with. Fish supper, cheeseburger and a diet coke, meal deal 5, cheesy chip, the endless orders circle my brain. It hits 5 o’clock and a few workers from down the road enter and order their dinner.

“Meal deal 4” one of them says.

“What dip would you like with that?” I ask

“Sweet Chilli with a side of are you pretending you don’t know who I am?”

I look at the guy and realise it’s the same bloke from last night. “Sorry I didn’t notice.”

“I guess I’ll just have to be ok with you not noticing me.”

“What drink do you want with your meal?”

“You know not all guys are as bad as you think.”

“Enough of them are. Now what drink?”

“Come on you can’t just put all men in a box.”

“What drink?”

“Am I a bad guy?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know you.”

“So you know not all guys are bad then?”

“I didn’t say they were. I said enough of them are.”

“How about a drink after work?”

“I’m not interested. What drink would you like with your meal?”

“Don’t be a prude, come on give a guy a chance.”

“I’m a lesbian, I have a boyfriend, I actually have a cock sorry. Which would make you leave me alone? Now are you going to tell me what drink you want or am I going to have to ask you to leave, my boss is in the back shall I get him?”

“On what grounds do you have for throwing me out?”

 

Just then my boss comes out to see what all the commotion is.

“Are y’ alright love?”

“This man is harassing me.”

My boss looks apprehensive and eyes Mr Meal Deal 4.

“I’m hardly harassing you” defending himself, “I’m just tryna ask you out like any normal person would do.”

My boss laughs then says, “Awk love the guy’s probably just persistent stop being so uptight. Let the fella take you out on a date and give over.” He walks away leaving Mr Meal Deal 4 and me alone.

“See he agrees with me.”

“I have turned you down repeatedly, therefore you are harassing me.”

“Come on, I’ve worked hard here stop playing hard to get.”

“I have said no, now fuck off.”

“Now now that’s no way to speak to a paying customer. Give us a coke with that please love.”

He takes his meal and leaves.

 

Sunday is a better day because the chip shop is closed and thankfully the sun is out so I go to the park to sit by a tree and read my book. Another bad decision on my part because who knew that being by yourself in a park invites so much male interest. It’s impossible not to be harassed in this world.

 

Monday doesn’t improve because it’s back to work, and once it hits 5 o’clock Mr Meal Deal 4 is back.

“Hello love, meal deal 4 please and a kiss on the cheek if you don’t mind.”

I get his order ready ignoring his attempts once again.

 

I finish work and walk through the park thinking it would be safer on a Monday night. Another expert bad decision on my part. Low and behold Mr Meal Deal 4 is sat on same bench the teens had been gathered around at the weekend. He sneers at me as I try to ignore him and walk on, but he follows me and links my arm tightly. I’m unable to pull away.

“I told you I was persistent love. Now how about that drink?”

“Get off me.”

“Still playing hard to get like you’re a good girl?”

Mr Meal Deal 4 leads me underneath a large tree. It’s like a hut. A hidden area full of beer cans and cigarette stubs. He pushes me against the trunk roughly. I tell him to leave me alone and get off me. I keep saying no over and over again as he holds my waste in his large animal like hands, he licks his lips like an instinctual creature and eyeballs my body as he opens the buttons on my shirt slowly. Tears stream down my face and my voice cracks so I can’t scream anymore. He removes my shirt completely and takes his belt off and unbuttons his jeans. His warm hands feel my skin; he grabs my breasts and gropes them like a piece of meat. He undoes my bra and sucks on my nipples and my neck and kisses my lips but I refuse to kiss back, so he bites my bottom lip causing it to bleed. He turns me around abruptly pushing my head against the tree and pulls my trousers and pants down. He bends me over and inserts his manliness into me. It’s painful and I whimper as he thrusts hard in and out of me causing me to bleed. He eventually stops and finishes himself leaving his remains on my back. He turns me around and kisses me again and wipes away my tears.

“Why are you crying?”

I can barely utter a sound. “rape”

“You can’t accuse me of that. You always give me more chips than anyone else does, you were clearly interested in me come on. I ask you out and you pretend you’re not interested, but I wasn’t gonna let you friendzone me or play hard to get for too long.”

 

And that was that. The guy genuinely couldn’t believe I wasn’t interested in him, he had to prove that he was entitled to me simply because I gave him a few more chips than anyone else who works at the shop. Maybe I should learn not to walk through the park and be careful because you never know who’s going to harass or abuse or rape you. But why does it have to be about me preventing myself of being raped? Why aren’t men taught not to rape instead? It’s not fair. Mr Meal Deal 4 will go home and his Dad will say ‘good on y’ son’ and his mates will ask for all the details about the sex positions and what not, and then there’s me the slut who had sex with some bloke in a park. I’ll be a whore and a slag and he’ll be a hero and a stud. What a shit world we live in. I hope the friendzone ideology dies. I hope patriarchy dies. I hope that I die and wake up in a new world of hope and freedom away from this world full of Mr Meal Deal 4’s.

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