Memory lies. Remember that even if you forget everything else. Memory changes the shape of a room; the colour of a car. Itís baggage, a bore.

Iím a surprise to myself, every two minutes. Like the guy in that movie, you know the one? My memoryís on a stopwatch. I get two minutes then itís over and I start again.

So, Iím in this tattoo parlour. The artistís a big guy, bearded, touches his nose when he says heís never seen me before which means heís lying but no-oneís perfect, right? Except maybe the guy in the waiting-room, the one with the appointment after mine. Tall guy, dark, hard as nails. He looks at me. I look at him. Two minutes later and we do it all again, like we never looked in the first place.

Every timeís the first.

I can read body language pretty well and this guy in the waiting-room? Heís not nervous. Thereís this edgy vibe coming off him like heís wired except heís not, I can tell. Heís sitting so still itís starting to spook me until I forget why and then Iím back to square one.

Next thing I know Iím in a washroom someplace and a tall dark guy walks in. Never seen him before in my life. Heís got this edgy vibe. He comes right up to the sink where Iím leaning, looking, trying to figure out where the hell I am and ďAll right?Ē he says in this voice like heís been sucking ice-cubes, cool.

I should probably say around about now that Iím a smart guy. I mean, I have this condition. Itís not amnesia. I canít make new memories, is all. There was an accident, I got my skull smashed in, but I can remember everything up until then, and I was smart. I earned good money, lived well.

So when I find myself on my knees sucking off a total stranger in a room Iíve never seen before itís not because Iím stupid. Iíve got my reasons, I just canít remember what they are.

Heís got information, or I need to buy him off, oróhe tastes good. I suck deeper and feel his hands on my head, his hips tilting into me. He doesnít make a sound.

Iím thinking, Iím a fag, now?

I guess not. I mean, if I was, I wouldnít be calling myself a fag, would I? Iíd be a free-spirit, or something that sounds less like an insult you hear just before you get your balls kicked in up a dark alley.

Have I done this before? Your guess is as good as mine. I do okay though. The guy lets out a long sigh like Iíve taken a weight off his mind, or the world off his shoulders.

Damn. Iím on the floor in a place Iíve never seen before, with a taste in my mouth likeó

I look up. Thereís this guyóeyes like treacleóand because Iím down on the floor and heís up there, I think heís going to kick me, so I roll away and get upright as fast as I can only heís faster and next thing I know heís pressing me into the wall and kissing me, his hand all over my crotch.

Allow me to recap.

Iím in this place I never been before with an arm that burns like itís seen too much sun and a guyís tongue in my mouth. I mean really, seriously, deeply, in my mouth.

Total stranger. Great kisser. Iím thinking, I wonít even remember this ever happened, which is a pretty depressing indictment of my life when you think about it.

Iím buttoning my shirt in front of a mirror. Thereís this guyótreacle eyes, slouchy hipsówatching me, behind me. In case I know him, I smile. In case I donít, I tense. But not much because I feel kind of relaxed, spacey.

ďAll right?Ē he says.

Iím figuring out how to respond to that when my two minutes run out, and Iím back where I started, staring at a stranger, wondering what Iím doing here and why it feels so good.

# # #

Every Time's The First by Sarah Hilary
originally published in the Winter 2010 print edition



Sarah Hilary won the Fish Historical-Crime Contest with “Fall River, August 1892”, and has two stories in the Fish anthology 2008. She was a runner-up in the Biscuit Short Story Contest 2008. MO: Crimes of Practice, the Crime Writers’ Association anthology, features Sarah's story, “One Last Pick-Up”. Her work appears in Smokelong Quarterly, Literary Fever, Every Day Fiction, Ranfurly Review and Zygote in my Coffee. Sarah blogs @

For more of Sarah's work,
visit her Big Pulp author page


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fiction & poetry are available in
Big Pulp Winter 2010:
Ted Bundy's Beetle

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