Car 4

Mr Thomas Dowe

Outward appearance

Balding, rotund man, queasy with sweat in a pistachio shirt and jacket. Pressed white trousers. No briefcase, or heavy overcoat. Body language awkward, twisted, at odds with studied smartness of casual dress.

Inside information

A fireman on long-term sick leave, being treated for depression. Came to London from Northampton after a certain incident that he calls a near miss. Lives alone in a spotless flat. Only companion a female cat he ruthlessly grooms. Has kept secret, even from his doctors, a completely unacceptable sexual longing. On his way to St Thomas' Hospital to request chemical castration.

What he is doing or thinking

The dreams are getting worse, truly terrible. His sexual fantasies shock him, leave him wanting to escape his own body, his own self. But they are there and he knows that now, at 32, they will never go away. They will keep pushing him until drunk or giddy from his other treatments, he goes under.

He remembers the face of the Northampton girl, her hollow eyes as she realized what he meant to do. He remembers the guilty rush, like a colliding train bearing down the track. He imagines real sex is like that, the rising toward a climax. He turned away that time.

He looks at the girl next to him, her long, vulnerable, fleshy legs. It would be so easy to do it now and be shut away forever. Then the girl begins to speak to the boy next to her. Thank you, Jesus.

The train comes into Waterloo, and unnoticed, he gets up to go.

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