"Oh, hello, sorry, I was in a bit of a dream world. How are you?"
I recognise her now - she sometimes helps out at the café off the roundabout by the pier.
"You're not on the Dotto Train anymore then?"
"No, I've finished with the Company now, I'm not allowed to drive because of my illness so I've been paid off. I'm in limbo, the Social say I'm not ill enough not to work and even if I was they still wouldn't give me anything as I have more than sixteen thousand in the bank. The longer and harder you work, the more you put in, the less you get in this country. The sooner we get rid of Brown the better."
I resist the urge to rant further.
"Yeah, you're right, the country's in a state. You still getting the vertigo attacks?"
"Now and again. I've been to see a specialist and he thought it may be due to a condition called Migraine Associated Vertigo, but I've had a letter from him since telling me that it may be that but it could be due to the progressive hearing loss in my right ear. The attacks may also be caused by elevated blood pressure or a slightly enlarged heart, which I also have. Oh, and I have a very small scar in my brain which again may cause these symptoms. I'm not optimistic so I just take one day at a time. It's a toss-up as to which will run out first, my health or my money."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
Everybody in the long checkout queue shuffles along one place and I'm suddenly reminded of the scene from the Full Monty in which the fellows unconsciously start practising their dance routine whilst waiting to sign on.
"Busy in here, I thought now it had been taken over by the Co-Op they would have got some more staff."
She nods and then asks me: "You still with that girl then?"
"Do you mean Juki?"
"Yes, is that her name?"
"Sort of, we don't have a conventional relationship as such. If you're not in a rush do you fancy a coffee? And I've forgotten your name..."
"Marlene, Matt isn't it?"
The coffee shop in the Co-Op, previously Somerfield, is surprisingly empty considering the numbers in the store. I'm studying Marlene, who has her hands cupped around the mug and realize that if I end up in bed with her it will be the first time I've ever shagged a woman with grey hair. The problem is that the longer I talk to her the more attractive I find her. She's probably mid-forties but she's rather good looking in an understated way. Her skin is tanned yet smooth and her eyes are a rather alluring olive brown; it wouldn't surprise me if she had a Turkish or Greek lineage.
I also wonder if the opportunity does present itself whether I will be able to rise to the occasion. Maybe.
"You were going to tell me about you and Juki." She places her mug on the table.
I take a deep breath...
"We don't have a normal, vanilla, relationship as such. We don't have sex but I'm very fond of her, very fond, however we do have a D/S relationship-"
"What's a DS relationship?"
"Dominant Submissive, I beat her every two weeks, it's something she needs, and something I like doing. I don't love her, in fact I can't love her, and I can't love anybody anymore. The last girl I loved, Claire, dumped me and broke my heart, yet I crave to love and be loved."
I stop. I have said too much. Too much.
She stretches over and gently touches the back of my hand. "It's okay, I understand. My husband left me two years ago, we fell out of love, it was all very amicable and the worse kind of split as we didn't even have the passion to row. I haven't made love in four years..."
"But you must have had offers, you are after all a very attractive woman."
She fields the compliment with the nonchalance of a Brian Lara swing to a soft ball.
"I am." She smiles wistfully.
"Do you know what, when I first saw you on the Dotto Train I thought you were a bit of a big headed twat with all your banter and showing off, but underneath you're quite a kind person, and rather damaged too. You've grown on me, I really quite like you, have done for a while. There's something else about you too, and you've just confirmed it for me, you have a controlled sadistic yet caring side, and it's something that I need and crave."
"I want you to take me home, force me to strip, tie me to the bed, spank me till I can take it no more and then to shag me hard till I bleed-"
"Huh, yeah, good to see you too. Take care."
She picks up her bags and strides off to the exit - back to her loving husband and happy home. I have been so lost in my depraved fantasy I can't even remember placing my items on the conveyor belt. I'm getting worse the longer my life goes on. I am becoming the last chapter of a Philip K Dick novel. And soon I will be unable to return...