THIRDNESS by Nick Boreham


“Writer or artist preferred,” said the flat share advertisement in the Observer.
The Sunday morning phone booth smelled of vomit. “My name is Will,” I said. “Will Deliver. And I’m a philosopher. Is that close?”
“Come and speak to Angus,” said Krissi. Even before I’d seen the purple streaks in her hair, I’d guessed she had a flamingo tattoo on the side of her nose.
Ladybower Mansions added distinction to the A3 where traffic trying to escape London started to scream with frustration. Twenty feet back from the gridlocked lorries, coaches, and cars, its brownstone façade supported enough pediments, stone balls, and columns for Prague or Vienna. Krissi and Angus’s flat, No. 31, was on the first floor. Angus threw the door open, stroked his ginger beard, and fixed me with different-coloured eyes (brown and green). In his hand he held a sheet of purple paper.
After he’d read me his poem, he told me he’d left St Andrews University at the end of his first year. He’d backpacked his way to London, met Krissi at a party in Kilburn and, when she asked what he did for a living, told her he was a poet. Krissi’s father, a Member of Parliament, had bankrolled their marriage to the extent of the first year’s rent on No. 31 Ladybower Mansions, a word processor for Angus, and 5,000 sheets of purple vellum bond.
Angus wrote poetry all day and lived by subletting two rooms. The rent he charged me was just affordable for a philosophy graduate working in a filling station on the minimum wage. I should have done a vocational course, like my Dad said.
Mel, the other lodger, was an Australian artist who made oil paintings of female genitalia. He had raised the airfare to England by raffling off his body, the winner to do whatever he or she liked with all five feet of Mel for a whole 24 hours. This included the curly black hair that fell across his freckled forehead, the bald patch on the back of his head, and the sturdy toes that pushed yellow socks out of the ends of his sandals. Twenty per cent of the male population of Sydney bought tickets, but the raffle was won by a housewife who made Mel wash dishes for the 24 hours.

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ABOUT NICK:
Drawing on his experience in fields as diverse as hospitals, oil refineries, cosmetics factories, and the Horn of Africa, Nick Boreham has published poems, short stories, and nonfiction in a range of magazines including Equinox, White Chimney, Psychological Reports, Letters from the City, The British Medical Journal, and Poetry Scotland, and anthologies such as Spilling Ink (Unbound Press), A Thousand Cranes (Cargo), and the Aesthetica Creative Works Annuals for 2009 and 2011. He has edited a book on knowledge for Routledge and has coedited the literary magazine From Glasgow to Saturn. Currently he is working on a series of five novels, the first of which he is keeping on ice and the second of which, They Come with Hooks, will be finished soon. Nick Boreham can be reached at nickborehamauthor.com.

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