Thursday, 6 August 2015

CLEANER II: Chapter Four - Part Twelve


I leaned against the wall by the hotel entrance, hands on my knees, feeling fully nauseous.

I’d eaten more food than ever tonight and I’d gone on drinking through the poker game. And my first (and last) cigarette had done nothing to help. It had made my head swim, my limbs feel heavy, my stomach churn. It had left a bad taste in my mouth. That was one thing I wasn’t going to repeat, eager though I was to ingratiate myself in with the other cleaners.

Maxine and the others had thought my reaction was priceless, laughing at me as I spluttered for clean air. Or laughed with me at least. They were accepting me into their group now; becoming my friends; and though I still caught some little smirks and shared looks between them, I didn’t mind that. I was sure they had my best interest at heart.

The poker game had been fun but I hadn’t turned out to be a virtuoso. I’d lost every hand so far. More my own ineptitude and bad luck than the killer instinct from the other girls. They were very helpful, advising me when to bet. It wasn’t their fault it kept going against me.

I was happy they had let me play. It had been lonely days so far here in Greece, living another woman’s life with no friends or family.


I thought about my brother.

Then I pushed that away.

I don’t have a brother, I said to myself. I’m Melissa now. I was an only child. I grew up in Leeds and moved to Barton when I was fifteen. I didn’t make many friends there because everyone had already formed their little cliques by then. I couldn’t break into it. My parents moved away just after I got married to Robert. Robert is a kind and loving man. He loves me dearly.

Parroting the words that Melissa had recorded for me.

I pressed my eyes closed, the heavy drunk I was on making me giddy.

When I opened them I realised I was no longer alone. The cook was a few feet away, leaning against the opposite wall, smiling at me as though he thought it funny that I was smashed.

“Bad… uh… night?” he asked.

“Yeah.” I nodded.

“You are very drunk; yes?”

I nodded again, pinching the bridge of my nose.

When I opened my eyes again he had crossed the distance between us and stood close. I was alarmed but I didn’t pull away. He was still smiling. I got the impression that he meant it to be affable and reassuring but there was something in his gaunt sleazy features that made it unsavoury and suggestive. I blinked and blinked again. He just smiled and smiled, coming even closer, close enough for me to raise my hand and ward him off if I chose to.

I thought about Melissa and how I had let her down so far.

I didn’t ward him off.

She’d told me to flirt with him; let him have his fun with me; kiss him; maybe even sleep with him.

Just a holiday romance with a co-worker; that was all.

She’d reminded me that I was just an ordinary woman now: a bit fat; not very good looking. She’d told me that someone like that was probably the best I could hope for.

I hadn’t been with a man for so long and everything had changed since then. I wasn’t a beautiful, desirable model anymore; far from it. Everything was different now.

I was so drunk. I couldn’t believe I was thinking about this.

But he had been flashing his eyes at me for weeks now and this was him finally making his move. He didn’t speak. His English wasn’t that great. He leaned against the wall next to me, his hand by my head, his face close to mine. Still smiling. Still leering.

Melissa had told me to sleep with him and I wanted to do as she told me. I didn’t know why but the idea of letting her dictate who I slept with numbed my limbs and electrified my nerves.

The cook was skinny. He had a thin, moist-looking moustache. His eyebrows were bushy and too close together. His hands were out of proportion with his body. His Adam’s apple bulged, shifting up and down as he gazed at me.

I parted my lips, just slightly.

The cook bent his two first fingers and ran them down the length of my arm, watching their progress; then he turned his gaze back up to my eyes, via my chest.

How could he fancy me looking like this: so chubby and plain with this thick glasses? But maybe he didn’t care about that. He wasn’t handsome by any means. Maybe he just wanted a crevice to plant his dick in. Maybe who I was didn’t matter; only that I was as desperate as he was.

But was I that desperate? Did I need this?

I wanted so much not to disappoint Melissa and she asked me if I’d slept with him yet every time I saw her, gently grinding away with her encouragement.

And I was lonely. So lonely sometimes, especially at night.

And my self-image was so twisted now. The confidence I had once possessed had long been washed away. I was fat and ugly, but this man still wanted me. I was still desirable to him.

He gave a little querying grunt that meant, Are you up for this? Will you let me have you? Can I kiss you now?

I nodded, eyes open and fearful, head still floating, thoughts addled.

I did want him. I thought I did. My loins sizzled suddenly. He wetness and heat startled me.

Then the cook took hold of both my arms below the shoulder, a little too tightly, and pulled me forward out of balance. He pressed his face against mine, starting with a wet closed-mouth kiss and then pressing my lips apart, angling his head as he pushed his probing tongue inside me.

He smelled of grease and spices. He skin was oily. His moustache tickled my nose and upper lip. My glasses clouded. But I fell into the kiss. I wanted him so badly. My hips gave a single sway toward him of subconscious intent.

He squeezed my arms tighter, pulling me even closer, hurting me.

I moaned, letting him push my head back; liking the roughness; the physical dominion; wanting to submit completely now that he had come into me.

He broke the kiss then came in again: rougher; more urgent. It almost hurt but I didn’t try to get away from him. I made myself relax; let him do this to me.

Then he broke again and he flashed his eyebrows up and down, grinning. He gave another little querying grunt.

“Yes.” I said, nodding my head. “Yes please. I want it. Take me to your room.”

He kissed me again.

“Fuck me if that’s what you want,” I said, giving in to him completely.


  1. "never again..." as someone who has not only heard that before, but said that before. I wish you good luck.

    you're going to need it.

    1. Oh I think she means it here. Smoking isn't part of the Melissa template and illustrates a limit that Dahlia is unwilling or unable to push past, just to ingratiate herself.

      Maybe it hints at a newfound ability to know her boundaries.

      Or maybe not...

    2. I could see either one, but for what its worth. I've never met a smoker who liked the first one.

  2. Disgusting, but I'm sure that's what you wanted to acheive. I like the way she keeps repeating M's memories to herself as if they were a lintiny. You keep saying that D's not stupid, but 'm finding it harder & harded to believe . It obvious the other cleaners are cheating her. & she sees the smirks & evrything.
    Intertesting that she hasnt had sex for a long time. There seems to be at ast a tinge of regret when she htinks it.
    Well at least now she can reportg success to her boss M about sex with the cook
    Not sure why she feels like she HAS TO obey M's ordes on everything. BUt she sue is.

    1. The crucial thing to understand here is that Dahlia is not operating at the same reflective level someone might if they were fully cognisant. She has serious mental problems and she's also very, very drunk on this particular night.

      Maybe I'm not getting her muddled psyche across very well. The intention here is to illustrate a woman who is hurting so badly and is so cut off from her normal touchstones that she has allowed herself to let her fantasies take the principle role in her day to day life.

    2. Oh I see her issues clearly. You see for many people, that section of the first book where her problems were really well done (the tinge of craziness really felt real), is now a long time ago. But if you read the books in quick succession that would still be fresh in the memory. This is like a TV series, so at times it may feel you need a "what happened last episode", section. But the finished article will be a much quicker experience... does that make sense? MikeW

    3. I'm sure deep down she does realise that she is being cheated as well as they are all laughing at her by calling her "piggy" but she needs to be accepted by the other cleaners even if that means being totally submissive. I still hold out a hope that she will realise at a conscious level that it is just a foolish fantasy, that she is being manipulated by the vile Melissa and take back control

    4. Yeah. I think you're right. She knows she's being dominated and humiliated by all but that's what she wants.

      And thanks Mike. I'm glad you're still getting it.

      I too can lose track of the thread if I'm not careful because it's being written over such a long period. There was a time when I was able to devote a little bit more attention but with the baby, the serials andthe books it's all I can do to keep it coming.

    5. I think you're doing incredibly well, Emma. You have a lot on your plate right now and then there's the writing :) I'm currently editing a very long story for someone in a similar position to you and the output has slowed markedly since the addition to the family.

      I think, like Mike, I'm also 'getting' it as far as Dahlia's fragile mentality is concerned. I'm quite sure she knows what's happening but her need to be humiliated (perhaps punished, even, for her perceived privileges) are overwhelming. She's both a tragic and fascinating study and you're handing it well.

      I started smoking at about 14 when we could get 20 for 1/- (5p in new money) on board RN ships as a sea cadet. I remember its making me dizzy and lightheaded but everyone smoked then, I haven't smoked for 40 years but giving up is hard. Dahlia should be careful.

      Thanks, as always

      Robun H

    6. Thanks Robyn. That's good to hear. I'll keep trying.

    7. Yes, Dahlia's problems are really well illustrated in the parts of the book that were not serialised. I read it in one go when it came out so the crazy aspects of everything really come through clearly.. you even start to question yourself a little bit *giggles* The girl I used to play dress up games with, where she adopted a certain character, she was driven by a need for humiliation. It is a very powerful emotion on its own, though for the extent of Dahlia's change the mental fragility is needed to convince. And this was nicely done towards the end of book 1 :-) MikeW

    8. Perhaps we will learn more about why Dahlia craves this...

  3. Emma,
    Well, now Melissa`s dictation has a whole new meaning.
    (sorry, I couldn't resist).


  4. one thing that was important for me in analyzing Dahlia, is that her mental problems, which predate her meeting Melissa, aside she has been incredibly successful in life. there really haven't been any set backs. danger, victimization, loss of control aren't real to her. in her mind she believes that everything will work out for her, because it always has. she is in someways like an adult shaped toddler who doesn't know not to touch the stove when its on. the question is how will she react when she finally gets "burned".

    1. Hmmm. I like your train of thought here.

  5. Some observations on CLEANER,

    Dahlia for reason's not totally explained YET, has basically gone insne & wants to change places with her fat poor cleaner for a time She give's M her money & identity while in Greece & each has their hair done & D starts wearing cheap clothes & M expensive ones. D wants to get as fat as M and encourage the real M to get thinner. Even D thinks this is crazy.
    M who was about to commit suicide jumps at the chance.
    D’ original idea and plan was for them to rent a small mansion where M would be the mistress and D would live in the servan’s quarters, wait on M hand and foot and clean and cook.

    But M takes control and somehow manipulates D into some much darker (here unlike Emma I think D isn’t willing) but because of her mental break down and growing insantity gives up total control to M. M gets her to reveal all the intimate secrets of he r life and D is trying to memorize M’s life and accent! M puts her in a situation where her very personality and self image changes, from high class to low class self image, identifying with the crass unpleasant cleaners at the hotel, where they accept her as one of their own (what an achievement!) even taking up drinking and getting drunk and has sex with an unpleasant, unattractive man she wouldn’t have looked at in her real life. Meanwhile M becomes slim and attractive even hooking a hot guy and gives up drinking no drinks for 3 weeks while D keeps a butte of cheap gin in her dirty room. AGain Emma says D did this willing, but without M’s manipulations she wouldn’t have even considered it?. But what do I know?

    But M has still major hurdles to cross to swap places permanently with poor Dahlia
    Number one Dahlia wasn’t just slim, but she had a gorgeous face. How is M going to get that face and of course turn D’s face into hers?

    Then how is M going to persuade poor D into a permanent swap and going back to Brockton as her while she takes up D place in her mansion and fabulously rich and famous life?

    Emma, old friend, you have your work cut out for you. I can’t wait to see how you mange it.

    1. Well we'll see if I manage it convincingly.

      Although Dahlia is going along willingly, it's true that Melissa's manipulations are pushing her further and quicker. And remember she went to confront Melissa, wanting to change the way things were, and Melissa made her back down.


  6. I do remember, that was where I decided M was running things & D was going alongonlyh because of M bullying & manipulations, rather of her own violention

    1. Yes, but I think she's still convincing herself that is her choice (even though we know it isn't).