My sleep patterns go haywire when I am off work for long periods. My freelance profession means that I get regular weeks off throughout the year. During these breaks I find myself waking in the early hours and going downstairs to read or watch TV, even sometimes cooking a pre-dawn breakfast, only to then crash on the sofa and sleep until late morning.
During these bouts of insomnia, I often distract myself by scrolling through Grindr and chatting to anyone else that is up. These interactions never lead to night-time hook-ups, as I am unwashed, crusty eyed and have midnight dog breath (Yes, quite the catch!) and besides, my partner is upstairs mumbling to himself in his sleep.
On one occasion though, I received a set of pictures that were irresistible. He had darkly handsome face pics staring with bad boy attitude into the camera, toned body shots of a guy who knew his way around a gym and the other shots were… well, average to be honest, but meticulously well groomed.
We exchanged messages for a while then he said he could accommodate and sent his location. Only a couple of roads away! I was understandably cautious about heading out to meet a stranger at 2am. Although the guy was hot, he exuded an air of brooding danger.
YOU COMING? he messaged.
I hesitated. Was this a good idea? Probably not. I should be sensible and stay safe… but those pecs, … that tough-guy scowl, … that fastidiously shaved scrotum.
YES. GIVE ME 15 MIN
I quickly washed, brushed my teeth and threw on some clothes. I paused to write a note for my partner should he wake up and find me gone, which I left in a prominent spot in the lounge. ‘Gone to meet a Grindr shag. Back soon. Don’t wait up… well, just go back to bed! X’
I really shouldn’t be doing this, I thought as I walked up the silent street. I have heard of incidents of men being lured into an attack or mugging on Grindr!
Moments later, I was back home. I decided to leave my wallet behind, just in case this was a set up and to take my phone instead, so I could call for help if necessary.
By the time I arrived at the guy’s flat, I was a jitter of nerves, having considered numerous unpleasant scenarios that could await me.
This is ridiculous. Anything could happen. Why am I not under a blanket on the sofa, watching Sharknado 3 on the Horror Channel or, even better, asleep in bed… like everyone else? I should turn around and just go back home.
He was stood in the illuminated entrance of the flats beckoning me in.
Shit, too late now, I thought.
Alarm bells really started to ring when he explained that we couldn’t use the flat after all, as he was staying with a friend.
He motioned me towards a doorway under the communal stairs.
Oh my God, I panicked, I am going to end up like one of those missing schoolgirls that spend fifteen years locked in a basement and eventually emerge, blinking into the light, with a litter of children/siblings!
It turned out that my imagination was getting away with me and the door didn’t lead into basement dungeon. It was just a dusty store cupboard containing the gas meter, fuse box and a long-irrelevant copy of the Yellow Pages.
“We can’t have sex in here,” I told him. “There’s no lock… and besides, it has a glass door!”
“My car is outside. We could drive somewhere.”
This could have been my opportunity to backout, but he was menacingly good looking with a rugged beard and… seriously, those biceps.
I suggested a local park.
As we drove there, I introduced myself and made a point of repeating my name several times, as I had heard somewhere that assailants are less inclined to attack if they can relate to you as a person rather than just a victim. I think I had picked that up from watching Silence of the Lambs. He listened to me in ominous silence (just like those lambs) and didn’t smile.
It took little time to navigate the empty roads to where we were going and soon we were stood at the threshold of the ominously pitch-black park.
If he intended me harm, then I had enabled it to happen. I had agreed to meet this risky looking stranger and even suggested we go to this deserted spot in the dead of night. ‘He only had himself to blame,’ my epitaph would read… but those abs were too good to resist.
As I led the way into the darkness, I was suddenly aware of a quick movement behind me. Had he got a knife?!
The guy abruptly called out my name.
I turned to see him stood there with his arm extended towards me, his eyes wide with fear. He was scared of the dark and wanted me to hold his hand and lead him down the uneven path.
Suddenly, there was a flutter above us.
He jumped and whimpered, “What was that?!”
“Just a bird,” I reassured him.
I took his hand.
We walked through the foreboding canopy of trees, like Hansel and Gretel… well, more Hansel and Hansel.
“There’s something over there,” he whispered nervously, at the sound of rustling in the foliage.
“It’s fine, you are safe,” I told him, pulling him close. “It’s just nocturnal animals. We are disturbing them. It is probably just a fox.”
“A FOX!!!” He practically screamed. He looked terrified, “I’m too nervous! I don’t think I can do this.”
I now saw it from his perspective. I was the stranger who had turned up on his doorstep in the dead of night and tempted him to an isolated spot full of eery shadows and wild creatures.
I cupped his face with my free hand, stroked that beard and we kissed.