SPIKE WATCHED THE MAGGOT WRIGGLE AROUND ON THE FLOOR. He had just noticed it. It moved about on the stained lino, aimless, restless. He looked at it, at its blind heavings. He thought about last night, then stopped himself. It wasnít good to think. His head hurt anyway. It hurt because of all the alcohol he had consumed the previous night, and it hurt because of the blow he had sustained. He touched his head gingerly, raising his hand tenderly to himself to test the bump. It was still sore. He wondered if he had concussion. Better not take an aspirin for the headache, he said to himself, just in case.
He looked down again and the maggot was gone. He looked about but he couldnít see it anywhere. You had to keep your eye on things or they got away from you, he thought. Thatís what happened with Lindsey, she got away from him. If he was honest with himself he had known it was going to happen. He just didnít acknowledge it to himself. For a while before he could see, when he looked into her eyes, she was drifting away from him; she was going; her eyes where clouded, distant, unfocused when he looked into them. They were no longer eager for him as they had been when they first met. He had blown it, he knew he had blown it. Once a woman starts drifting away they just keep going; thereís nothing you can do about it; once you notice itís started happening itís too late.
He wondered where the maggot had come from. Heíd never noticed one before. Perhaps it was a hallucination. A message. An omen. Perhaps.
When he first met Lindsey she looked at him in such a way that made him feel he was the most important person in the room. It was a new feeling. A delightful feeling. It made him want her company more and more. She gave him himself. But a self that was so much brighter, confident and desirable then the one heíd had before. And when she left she took it all away. When she went he went too. The one who could do things, say things, be things, went.
He knew she didnít mean to destroy him. And it wasnít really in her power to do that. But he gave it to her; he gave her that power. He invested her with everything he had and now the market had crashed.
Friends tried to cheer him up. They took him out, told him jokes, gave advice, introduced him to women. But they couldnít take him out of himself.
There was that maggot again. It was curling around on the floor by his chair. It had sneaked up on him when he wasnít looking; like so many things. He looked down at it, even though it made his head ache even harder, and he looked at it with a combination of disgust and tenderness. He was disgusted by its wriggling movements and its pellucid body, by its waxy skin and its black core. He felt tenderness at its vulnerability, its softness, its helplessness, its ugliness. He thought about stepping on it but he couldnít decide what to do. It wriggled closer to his foot and he flinched away from it. He recoiled from its friendly proximity. It was like being cornered at a party by the person you least want to meet. That kept happening, he said to himself.
With Lindsey on his arm all the women had wanted him, now he was available they were indifferent. You can always have what you donít need, he