He paces up, he paces down. Mr Lush is indecisive. Does he dare give in to the urge he hasn’t felt since he was a young gentleman? He doesn’t recall having seen his wife in the last two or three years. As such, he decides it’s probably alright. He throws on his old dinner suit and goes to the neighbourhood so oft-frequented as a young man. On the streets of the now chimerical district of both red light and hip art, the ladies understand full-well how to evoke a sense of the glamour and revelry of the Roaring 20s.
Mr Lush has always loved this part of London. He used to enjoy musing on the aesthetics of the area with his cigarette friend, absorbing the atmosphere and escaping the doldrums of his boring life at Eton. He had always sought to refine his appearance for the occasion. With his hair (a little fuller and longer than today) parted just so and a cigarette dangling from his lips, he would lean casually in his grey striped flannel suit on the beautiful façade of an oft-overlooked playhouse. What the people walking by must have thought of him! A bored prig, sowing his wild aristocratic oats. The fact that this impression was only half-accurate had always tickled Mr Lush. This was also around the time when he discovered the opportunities that clothing provide for masquerade. What the passers-by did not know is that he would never have dared to go to the rooms on the first floor; the red of the velvety curtains frightened him.
However, today he is determined to address a lady of his liking. Sitting in a rather nice café, a lady in her thirties catches his eye. She is not exceptionally pretty. However, her make-up matches her skin type, her brown hair, and her green eyes excellently. Her choice of clothing is equally exquisite. Her understanding of proportion is breath-taking. Her high-waisted wide-legged charcoal flannel trousers lengthen the appearance of her legs. Under these, she wears black ribbed silk stockings with high-quality black patent ballerinas. She completes the look with an understated beige blouse and a gold-framed wristwatch. As fetching as the ensemble is, this alone would not have aroused Mr Lush’s interest. On a red leather leash, she is accompanied by a (rather annoyed looking) ocelot. A proud and elegant creature!, says a voice inside Mr Lush.
Knees trembling, he makes his way towards the ocelot-bearing lady and asks timidly, What would it cost?
What do you mean?, the not exceptionally pretty lady replies indignantly.
Well, ehm… you know, if …, he is interrupted by the lady before he can finish.
Olivier?! Madame clamours in an accent perfectly reminiscent of the great French industrial city of Liverpool, apparently referring to her companion ocelot. You can have him! 50 quid and I’m rid of him.
Ehm, no, I meant … ehm, yes, the ocelot!, answers Mr Lush – the lady’s is beginning to remind him of the red velvet currents.
The deal is sealed for 60 pounds (which Lush finds in his dinner suit). He receives the leash for the ten pounds he overpays.
Mr Lush, no less sexually frustrated and with his confidence a little bruised, steps out into the streets of the red light district with Olivier the ocelot still on his red leather leash. Olivier straightens himself and says to Mr Lush (whom does not recall having drunk even a drop of absinthe this evening): I have left behind illusion. Henceforth, I live in a world of three dimensions with the aid of my five senses. I have since learned that there is no such world. MM/DC