Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Story of A

For a short time only, I thought I'd post the draft of my newest story. It's pure biography, of course, and deals with a particularly meaningful relationship that I found rather difficult to write about. See! It even makes me cry just  to think about it all these months later... 

I hope you'll find much to enjoy in this simple erotically graphic tale of love, high finance, and pocket change. Naturally, I've altered the names of the people involved to save their reputations and that thing I do around the halfway point was only possibly thanks to my years of training playing the Irish lute.

___________________________________________________________________

How many men had she known in her life?

She had often speculated about the figure like some people obsess over the value of Pi or are always on the lookout for prime numbers or can’t stop counting ginger-haired men when they spot them on the street. And it all depended on how she defined ‘known’.

Should the number include the casual acquaintances she’d met through the course of her job, maybe shared a drink or two after work, jokes and small talk into the small hours, before they mutually chewed off their underwear in a taxi cab whilst blasted on vodka, passion fruit and devilry? Was she to include the men she’d invited for one night stands that had eventually required court orders to evict them from her London flat? Or was she to limit it just to those very few men with whom she felt that she had shared a deep and passionate intimacy which had altered them and their genitals forever?

She decided that if she was going to limit it to that last happy few, then the number was probably eighty three or ninety seven if she included the weekend she’d spent in a hot tub with members of the Jamaican dance troupe ‘Shazam’.

The question that now faced her: was he going to be the ninety eighth or just one of the insignificant others?

She gazed across the beautiful polygonal symmetry of the squares on the chess board and ran her fingers to her ivory bishop.

‘Are you sure you want to do that?’ he asked, his lips tempting and succulent.

‘You don’t know what I have in mind,’ she smiled as her fingers teased the piece along it entire length to the priapic cut of its crown.

‘I have a pretty good idea,’ he said.

Her mouth trembled as it tried to remain level and dispassionate as she took the bishop and stroked it slowly around her lips, her eyes never deviating from his, his never once blinking but holding her gaze strong and resolute.

‘Are you ready?’ she asked.

‘I’m always ready,’ he purred. His chair creaked with nervous expectation.

She lowered her hand and gave him the briefest encouragement of a smile.

And then she placed the bishop on Queen’s Rook 4.

‘Checkmate,’ she said.

‘Bugger!’ he cursed. The disappointment in his voice made the air crackle, though it might easily have been caused by the polyester in his suit against the plastic seat of his arthritic chair.

‘You fell for the old Petronovich Gamble which you didn’t notice that I’d made on my fifteenth move,’ she explained, as she leaned back, squeezing her creamy breasts together as much for her reader’s pleasure than his or her own. ‘It left my Queen exposed and, of course, being the natural predator that you are, you went after it, meaning you were defensively weak on the rook. Don’t worry. It’s a common mistake to make when a man only plays chess as a rather clich├ęd metaphor for sex.’

She stood up and walked to the strong right angle of the window that looked out over the darkness of Sydney’s habour. She would let him think about his last move a little longer. Besides, her own mind had drifted tangentially elsewhere. She was thinking about her editor and his warning against playing games with this man. But that was back in a theoretical then, not the reality of now. It had also been in a square room on the ninth floor of a largely triangular building on the other side of the world on a day in April when it had been all too easy to agree to do her editor a favour…


oOo


‘I don’t like doing this,’ her editor had said, his hands knotted around the back of his head as if he were trying to keep it at the perpendicular.

‘These things happen,’ she replied, crossing her legs and trying to brush the helical folds out of her tight black dress twisted during her mad dash across London. She’d left her warm bed behind her and, in it, her local Member of Parliament trussed, gagged and wearing a party balloon hat tied into the shape of a hippopotamus. The honourable member would be furious when she got back but then he might just as easily be blissfully content. That was the thing she had come to learn about politicians: their brains are wired differently to the rest of us. Like those of laboratory baboons wired to smell colours or enjoy the music of One Direction.

‘But what else can I do?’ her editor asked, turning to his desk and gesturing to the chaos of his in-tray. ‘All my financial staff are currently dealing with the crisis in the sovereign debt market yet this job needs to be done. I’m afraid if you don’t do it, I’ll be forced to ask Tony Strobe and that’s bound to end badly. He’s not been the same since he found his wife in bed with an unidentified masked woman with natural 36DD breasts...’

‘I said I’ll do it, so I’ll do it,’ snapped Felicity, trying to flatten her natural 36DD breasts to a less compromising size and angle. The whole idea was actually a welcome break from the usual routine. She had grown tired of sleeping with her MP. Despite every argument, position, and sexual act in the playbook, she’d still not convinced him to have the council move the new pedestrian crossing away from its currently position, under her window, and to the end of her street outside the local home for the blind. This was an opportunity to return him to the back benches so he might reconsider his supposedly pro-Grope polices…

‘Well, I know I’ll owe you a favour after this,’ said her editor, taking his seat at his desk and sorting through the files. ‘So what I want is a profile piece about Sir Ashley followed by an interview. I’ve had the financial whizzes write out some of the trickier questions we’d like you to ask. Of course, treat it like your usual jobs. Find out what makes him tick etcetera… But I’m afraid you will not like the man. His reputation as a grade one bastard is well earned. I personally attribute it to all the steroids he took during his five year body building career. However, you have to give the man credit. He went from male stripper to the biggest exporter of prunes in the Southern Hemisphere in just three years.’

‘I’ve dealt with difficult men before,’ she’d said, glancing coolly at the file. ‘I’m sure I’ll be able to hand a six feet five inch ex-male stripper turned prune magnate with body confidence issues.’


oOo


She gazed out the long oblong window and saw him approach her in the inky reflection.

It was hard to believe that this man had ever taken anything to enhance what God had so graciously gifted him. Sir Ashley Crabbe just looked so handsome in his English suit, cut so straight with such sharp and delicious angles.

His reputation had suggested more years than the reality. In his mid-thirties, he had that slightly worn look, exacerbated by years under the Australian sun, which only a few men could carry off like a vibrant tie or white loafers with plastic tassels or Mormonism. She could also tell that despite his reclusive manner, Crabbe possessed a body made hard by hours in the gym and she could see how the stories would have begun. The cold blue eyes which had made him such so successful thrusting his thong from the tops of nightclub tables could easily be interpreted as those of the workaholic business leader; those full lips, surely of a good lover, also those of a cruel tyrant, born to give orders but accept none. He was also not the kind of man she usually fell for. The fact that his immense wealth impressed some woman didn’t mean that it would impress her. He was a six foot five inch bastard. She knew that for certain. But he could easily be her six foot five inch bastard.

‘Why are you seducing me?’ she asked the shadow.

‘I see you as an investment opportunity,’ said Sir Ashley, sipping his cognac as he moved to run his hand beneath the shoulder strap of her simple black dress.

‘You mean like gold or diamonds?’ she asked, staring at the glass darkly as his hand worked its way around and down to her full and proud right breast.

‘Oh, something much more exciting than that,’ he said, his lips kissing the nape of her neck. ‘You know, I once made four million dollars trading prune futures? Nothing excites me more than a soft chewy prune.’

His fingers lingered over her nipple.

‘You animal,’ she purred. ‘I’ve never had a man so favourably compare my nipples to prunes before...’

‘I bet they’d go good with yogurt.’

She gasped. ‘Do you like yogurt?’

‘I adore yogurt,’ he said.

She turned and thrust her chest towards him. ‘Then take me now, Ashley! Take me like I’m a pot of fresh natural Greek-style yogurt smothered with prunes and you’re a spoon. You are a hard magnificent spoon!’

‘A desert spoon?’

‘Naturally!’ she gasped, looking into his deep liquid eyes. ‘What other kind of spoon would you use to eat yogurt?’

‘Some people might confusingly use a teaspoon…’

‘Heathens!’ she spat and, by God, she meant it!

He placed his hands in the small of her back and pulled her into his powerful body and they kissed, a long lingering kiss which lasted until he had walked her backwards into the bedroom despite her tendency to drift to the right.

She was amazed by his dexterity and the masterful way he guided her as though she were a shopping trolley with a bad caster. Much later, when her passion was spent and she was writing up her notes of the evening, she would question her choice of the shopping trolley metaphor but ultimately decided to keep it. It was probably the kind of image readers of her erotic fiction would know and with which they would closely identify.

Meanwhile, his strong arms were locked around her body and when they arrived at his bed she felt the satin sheets brushing the backs of her naked legs. He kissed her again on the lips, his tongue exploring like somebody reaching into a cold supermarket freezer on a hot summer’s day. Again, it was a better metaphor than many might at first suspect. Her readers would know the feeling of picking out food from a supermarket refrigerator, perhaps an oven-ready meal for one which they would later cook in their bedsit before sitting down with a box of chocolate truffles and a George Clooney movie but not ‘The American’ because they would already know that one was rubbish.

She felt his presence before her, urging her onto the bed. She turned and gasped. It was round! A huge round bed! Her eyes grew wide and they took in its entire circumference and she did a quick calculation, multiplying the radius by Pi. Forty three feet! Good lord!

‘What kind of sheets are they?’ she asked, breathless. The excitement momentarily fixed her to the spot and she resisted Sir Asheley’s pressure to move forward.

‘Silk,’ he said as he moved to kiss her back.

She shrugged him away. ‘I’ve never been on a round bed before and I’ve always wanted to know: are the sheets round or are they square?’

He released her body and she quickly fell to her knees, slipping her hand into the deep cool fold of the mattress. Her fingers lingered, enjoying the sensation of the cloth on her skin, as she gently gathered the hem into her hand before she began to pull it slowly from the recess.

‘Oh, they’re round!’ she gasped, as the shape of the sheet was revealed. ‘Round beds have round sheets!’

‘Are you happy now?’ he asked with an edge to his voice.

She slipped herself onto the edge of the bed and pushed herself into the centre of the circle, or, more accurately, the origin. Her body stretched to the edge in a line known as the radius.

‘I’m ready for you now,’ she said, pulling her dress tantalisingly up to reveal her thighs as white as refrigerator frost.

He crawled towards her, his mouth kissing her ankles before working his way to her knees.

‘Would triangular beds have triangular sheets?’ she suddenly asked.

‘What?’ asked the voice now beneath the fold of her dress.

‘I was thinking about bed shapes. There might be a market in oddly shaped beds but I suppose it would be quite difficult to supply the correct sheets if they were triangular. You know… Given the different types of triangle… I mean, you have the equilateral, the isosceles, and the scalene, which is actually a triangle with different length sides…’

He pulled her dress from his face and lifted his gaze to her. His eyes were so clearly filled with love for this remarkable woman who knew so much about rudimentary mathematics and the three different types of triangle. Yet little did Sir Ashley know that Felicity Grope had recently discovered a passion for all geometry. She had been staying up into the late hours looking at pictures of rhomboids, trapezoids, dodecagons, and, her favourite, the triquetra. The maths of geometry excited her like little else in her life though she knew it was a passion that was probably not shared by readers of erotic fiction. In fact, she had been worried that geometrical terms had started to slip into her writing. A ‘perpendicular’ here and a ‘tangent’ there… She had hoped beyond hope that her readers wouldn’t have noticed but she also knew that her readers were very acute that way.

‘There’s only one triangle that interests me,’ he said before his fingers moved to her panties and slid them tangentially down her forty seven inch long legs. She moaned as his lips kissed her navel, his tongue then touching the apex of the downy spot an inch below where the Chinese say that the body’s chi is stored but actually a layer of muscles covering part of the lower digestive tract where food is slowly turned into faecal matter by the stomach’s digestive juices.

Felicity gasped as her mind exploded with ideas. Foreplay was always like this for her: a rush of bodily sensation and previously half-forgotten facts. Her fingers worked quickly to unbutton his shirt but she broke a nail when one button got badly trapped in a poorly cut buttonhole. She cursed the generally shoddy work of the child labour force in the Far East before the last button came loose and she could drag the shirt away from his white clean body. His muscles glowed in the dim light like... She searched desperately for a simile…. Like moles wearing hard hats. No! She knew that wouldn’t do and she would fix that later when she edited her text and perhaps change it to two rows of kneeling nuns or the production line at a steel colander factory.

‘You have a fantastic body,’ she assured him.

‘Best that money can buy,’ he assured her back. His lips were kissing the deep crevice between her breasts.

She gasped. ‘You mean…’

He paused. ‘Good living, plenty of exercise, and where nature hasn’t blessed me, I know a man in the Philippines who sorts me out. You see these pecs? One hundred percent plastic.’

She ran her fingers over his proud muscles. She knew what real pectorals felt like and these felt just like real pectorals in that they felt just like plastic cups surgically buried beneath the skin.

Her hands strayed to his belt which she unbuckled with her trademark twist, yank, and sideways jerk. Then she threw him onto his back and had his trousers off before his ankles left the floor.

‘How do you do that?’ he asked.

‘You ever see the trick with a table cloth that leaves the dishes standing still? It’s the same principal. You just have to get the angle right.’ She smiled. ‘And I love getting my angles right. In this case, it was thirty degrees from the perpendicular. Perpendicular!’

The word overwhelmed her with a new heat of passion and she reached for his loins and pulled apart the silk boxers, her fingers immediately grasping for his obtusely angled manhood. Immediately it felt so comfortable in her hand, like a warm slide rule or fleshy protractor. She took a moment to enjoy the sensation of its heft before she began to stroke it vigorously. She closed her eyes and imagined herself with a geometry teacher instead of a man obsessed with prunes.

‘Please! Not too hard!’ he begged but she was now consumed by trigonometric fantasies. Her fingers gripped his meaty slide rule tighter and she pulled and pulled and then…

‘Quadrilaterals!’ she cried.

And then it came off in her hand…

But not metaphorically ‘came off’. Not in a sudden rush of orgasm and fresh pineapple juice. Nor was it some long symbolic sequence of torpedoes firing, volcanoes erupting, and tubes of toothpaste being squeezed with too much enthusiasm and a waste of good toothpaste. No, what Felicity experienced was the sensation of pulling the entire shaft away from Sir Ashley’s body. For a moment she was confused before she looked at her hand and saw several inches of severed member still throbbing like a fresh bee sting.

The world freeze-framed for a second and then another and then… Felicity acted instinctively. The horror of the moment gathered in her throat and she screamed: a long agonising scream as she hurled the lump of pallid man-flesh away.

‘No!’ shouted Sir Ashley, as though his own spell had been broken. Yet he was too late and they both stared as the meat missile sailed out in a parabolic arc towards the open balcony door. There it bounced once off the wall before rolling slowly across the balcony, under the narrow gap at the bottom of the railing, before disappearing over the hard but satisfying right angle of the balcony edge.


oOo


Felicity was ankle deep in the shrubbery holding a torch.

‘Are you sure we’re looking in the right place?’ she asked.

‘I don’t know,’ he snapped, on his hands and knees. ‘This has never happened before.’

‘No, it’s a first for me too,’ she answered, kicking an old withered bulb which looked like a male organ in the darkness. ‘Do you think you’ll need a hospital?’

‘Not until I find it,’ he replied.

‘Only a thing like that… I’m not entirely sure what went wrong but you can’t feel good down there.’

‘It smarts a little,’ he admitted.

‘I should imagine it does.’

‘And there’s a certain amount of bleeding but nothing to worry about...’

‘If you say so…’ She frowned. ‘Do you think it was a natural thing that happened? I mean, I’ve heard that some lizards tails drop off before they grow a new one...’

‘I’m not about to grow a new penis,’ he answered, with another edge to his voice.

‘Only, I can’t exactly get my head around the biology of what just happened. Was it even my fault? I know I was pulling quite hard but no more than usual… You assume something like that is pretty well attached before you start putting your entire wrist into it. Have you been pulling it too much yourself? Do you think you might have weakened it? Perhaps it had some kind of fatigue. I’ve heard it’s possible for an airplane’s wing to come off or the back wheels of a car...’

He sat up and hissed. ‘It was not your fault, okay? They told me that it was a perfect graft and it would be good as new.’

‘Graft?’ gasped Felicity.

‘Damn cheap Filipino penile extensions! Best in the world my arse.’

Her hand to her mouth, she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. ‘Don’t tell me you had that sewn on as well.’

‘If you must know, yes I did. But there’s nothing wrong with buttock implants. It’s proven technology. The same technology was used to launch the Space Shuttle into space.’

‘And launch your genitals through an open bedroom window,’ said Felicity who found the subject strangely fascinating.

Sir Ashley he ignored her glib remark. ‘It should be around her somewhere,’ he said. ‘Keep looking.’

She looked instead towards the street. ‘I think it might have fallen outside the wall. I imagine it could have gone quite a distance. The way it bounced off that wall. It was a like an oddly shaped rubber ball. We should probably look in the street.’

‘Fine, fine,’ he snapped. ‘If you want to go and look then bloody go!’

She gazed down at him and realised for the first time that she had misjudged this poor man whose body could not live up to the ideals he had set himself. He really was a self-made man or at least, made in the Philippines, and as much as there was to admire about that, there remained a deep cloying sadness. A six foot five inch bastard seemed to sum him up. Right down to the tip of his red raw stump.


oOo


She emerged from the gardens into the warm glow of Sydney’s nightlife. Elizabeth Street was thronged with people, passing towards the nearby Martin Place Station, on their way to or from the theatres, clubs, and bars. Traffic nudged slowly along following roads barely distinguishable from the wide open plazas that ran like cathedral aisles through the prosperous heart of the city.

She walked along the pavement, pausing to search half-heartedly among the refuse in the gutter. She was now sure that she didn’t want to find the lost membership of Sir Ashley Crabbe and wondered how she might mention the whole episode, albeit tangentially, in her finished newspaper article. Of course, in the story she would write for her readers of erotic biography, she could give them the full details… A full blow by blow account even though it hadn’t come to that. Yet she knew that they could appreciate the reasons why the story had thus far failed to live up to the promise of the opening.

‘You lose something, miss?’ asked the guy suddenly beside her. She’d barely walked ten yards from the gate before she’d come level with where he was stood leaning against the wall. He was a handsome six feet three, well-muscled beneath a tight t-shirt decorated with a white skull. His face was that youthful version of handsome: good lines but even better skin and the faintest stubble on a soft kissable chin.

‘I don’t see what business it is of yours,’ she replied. ‘Just because a woman is searching for something in the street, it doesn’t mean she’ll sleep with any good looking vagabond, even if it does now appear that she has a few hours spare before her flight back to London.’

He grinned. ‘Only, you see, you’re on my patch,’ he said.

‘Your patch?’

He thumbed the guitar case standing by his side. It was decorated with stickers accumulated over many years.

‘This is where I sing,’ he said.

‘Oh, so you’re a troubadour as well as a vagabond! Well then, that’s even worse. I’d never sleep with a troubadour, even if he did know the lyrics to my favourite Tom Waits song, “Yesterday is Here”.’

The man’s handsome face twisted in thought and he folded his bottom lip back to allow the slight goatee to brush his upper lip. When he began to sing, his voice was surprisingly deep and rasping, just how she liked them. ‘If you want money in your pocket and a top hat on your head…’

‘That’s the one,’ she said, her legs buckling slightly. ‘You are a terrible man, disturbing me when I’m busy.’

‘Well, you know, I’ve got what you’re after,’ he said.

‘Undoubtedly you do but I’m afraid I’m supposed to help a friend find something he’s lost.’

‘I’ve got that too,’ said the singer. ‘Fell into my guitar case when I was singing earlier. And I’ve got to be honest. It fairly scared the crap out me. Thought it was a small bald bird. Then I figure a small bald bird probably doesn’t have foreskin. I put it safe figuring that somebody might come looking for the poor little birdie…’

‘So, you’re a real ornithologist too. Well, Mr Ornithologist, what would you say if I told you that it belonged to a very rich and influential man?’

‘I would still ask to know your name.’

Felicity blushed at the man’s directness. It was rare that anything or anyone could make her blush and she realised how much she liked it.

‘My name is Felicity,’ she said. ‘What’s yours?’

‘Brendan.’

‘Well, Brendan, this is your lucky day. That thing in your possession could make you very rich. I’m sure you don’t want to spend your life singing on the streets.’

‘No,’ he smiled. ‘I can’t tell a lie. There are very few things I wouldn’t do for money. But first, I can think of at least one person I’d much rather be doing...’


oOo


The limousine had pulled away and she had waved to Sir Ashley Crabbe sitting in the rear seat with a bag of frozen peas in his lap and a small ice pack containing a penis that had fallen nineteen storeys.

‘He seemed pleasantly pleased to get it back,’ said Brendan with a barely veiled note of sarcasm. ‘Not so pleased to be leaving you with me, though...’ The last bit had been sincere.

‘I wonder why?’ she said, taking his hand and pressing it to her chest.

He kissed her deeply as the crowds thronged around them. ‘My place isn’t far,’ he whispered.

‘That’s what I was hoping,’ she replied, knowing too that her readers would also be hoping that it wasn’t going to be a long walk. She’d already tested their patience once with a cynically anticlimactic sex scene and she didn’t intend to do so again. This time, she would get straight down to the saucy parts with absolutely no distracting talk about prunes, geometry, or the quality of plastic surgery in the Philippines.

His home was in a typical low value building comprised entirely of uneven polygons which made Felicity shake her head. Hadn’t she only just promised her readers that she wouldn’t mention geometry? Hadn’t that turned out to be a rash promise? How could she describe his home or his room is she couldn’t mention that it was like a large trapezoid?

The room was like a large trapezoid, decorated as if imitating the squalor of all great artists. Bricks held up the TV and the bed was closer to the floor than a mouse’s asthma. The whole place looked condemned yet, at the same time, was welcome and familiar.

‘Don’t judge it by its appearance,’ he said. ‘It’s really a great place to live.’

‘It has its charm,’ she replied and reached up to his neck. ‘And I’ve been in much filthier places than this.’

She kissed him deeply and this time she knew it was the real thing. She knew immediately that there would be no dramas involving badly sutured penile extensions. Brendan was all man and entirely hers.

She pushed him to the bed and dragged the dress from her shoulders. It fell down the pillar of her body and, lo, he did worship!

‘I want you to play me like you play your guitar,’ she said.

He responded, grabbing her and throwing her over his knee.

‘Strum me hard!’ she begged.

His fingers worked her body quickly, like a lead line played by some heavy metal guitarist, all fingers and tongues. Slowly, Felicity slipped into a state of sublime bliss, the fire beginning to build inside her, electricity skipping across her soft skin and teasing muscles which flickered in erotic response.

Then she stripped him out of his shirt and trousers and leapt upon his naked body before she fell upon him, a simple woman whose needs had been satisfied. She knew that she would never have another man like Brendan. Not today. Perhaps not never but definitely not today… Or, at least, not for a couple of hours…


oOo


‘So, here we are again,’ he said, his cruel mouth visible over the glass of champagne.

It was some months later, the scene the same, the long hours of prelude cut short. She hoped that her readers had got what they wanted but also realised that she was faced by certain time constraints and had been forced to rush the previous scene. Besides, Felicity didn’t see any point dragging this out longer than necessary. As experience readers of erotic novels, they would be able to fill in the gaps with the usual rainbows, rising paroxysms of joy, duck noises, squeaking bed springs, candle wax, Norwegian throat singing, and a novel use for a boomerang.

‘So, how did the operation go?’ she asked, curt and to the point.

He shrugged. ‘They couldn’t save it. I had to wait two months before I could find a new donor.’

‘Donor? You mean…’

‘Oh, no, no!’ he laughed. ‘Not dead! I wouldn’t subject you to a dead man’s piece, if that’s what you think. Relax. I’ve paid for the best. No expense spared. Everything new. It’s quite remarkable what you can buy on the black market these days and the surgeons in Japan are infinitely superior to anywhere else in the Far East. And this time I’ve had it thoroughly stress tested. Do you know I’ve had a doctor come in every week just to pull it?’

She unbuckled his trousers and heard the loose change rattling in his pocket.

‘I like the sound of a man with loose change,’ she said, trying to lighten the mood whilst also remembering the financial purpose of her trip.

‘I have bottles of it in my bedroom,’ he answered, with his old confident swagger. ‘Would it excite you to know that I have the largest collection of used nickels outside of North America?’

That was the Sir Ashley she remembered and even though used nickels meant nothing to her except a clever allusion to the opening pages of her story, she pulled his trousers down with new hope in her heart. That hope increased as she glanced admiringly at his silk shorts which appeared fuller than the last time.

‘This is going to be okay, isn’t it?’ she asked, one last time.

As if in response, he pushed his shorts down and she gasped at the quality of the work of the Japanese reconstructive surgeons.

‘It looks perfectly normal,’ she said.

‘Of course it looks normal,’ he said. ‘Nothing but the best for my darling Felicity.’

‘But hang on,’ she said. ‘I’m sure I’ve seen this before...’

‘Nonsense!’ he replied. ‘Absolutely impossible! Probably a mild care of deja-vu! They say the brain momentarily shuts down and when it turns on again, it creates these feelings of having been somewhere before. It will pass. Just don’t think about it…’

‘No,’ she said, wagging her finger in thought. ‘I have a perfect memory when it comes to certain things, such as license plates, male sex organs, and football scores.’

‘There’s no such thing as a perfect memory,’ he scoffed. ‘For example, if you did have a perfect memory you would know the result of the 1954 FA Cup Semi Final.’

‘You mean Preston North End versus Sheffield Wednesday or West Bromwich Albion versus Port Vale?’

‘Amazing,’ he said, his eyes again wide at the remarkable woman kneeling before him and busily scratching her head in thought.

‘I can’t help but feel that I’ve been here before.’ said Felicity racking her brains. ‘I’m sure I was once kneeling before this very same… Oh my! Oh my lord! It’s Brendan!’

She watched his face register disappointment and his shoulders drop fractionally.

‘What can I say?’ said Sir Ashley. ‘The boy needed the money to launch his musical career. I had the money and he’s been suitably compensated with something suitably smaller and less likely to distract him from his chosen career.’

She fell to her knees, her body wracked by a spasm of disappointment. ‘How could you do that, Ashley? How could you ruin that poor sweet boy, you cruel six feet five inch bastard!’

‘Yes,’ smiled Sir Ashley, standing magnificent and trouserless in the middle of the room. ‘But I’m your cruel six feet five inch bastard.’

She shook her head. Was that all that mattered? Could money buy everything? She looked at Sir Ashley and realised a new truth about the world. Everything was open to negotiation.

‘Fair point,’ she said, standing up and taking his hand. She slowly led him to the bedroom.

‘And Felicity? I have a special surprise waiting for you,’ he said, pausing at the door.

‘New buttocks as well, I suppose?’ she said, slightly more deflated than she knew his buttocks would be.

He pushed open the twin doors to his bedroom.

‘Oh my God!’ she cried, her heart suddenly swelling with happiness. ‘A triangular bed! And it’s scalene too!’

‘I knew that you’d like it,’ he said, taking her hand.

‘Like it? I love every one of its unequal length sides!’