Apprentice Days Continued

Following his soujourn with Patty Poo and the others, and in a quest for his continuing education, our hero goes in search of adventure

And here I am, celebrating, incognito, by gate crashing an anniversary party. Not that I don’t fit in. I’m dressed in a formal manner, which, if nothing else, adds to one’s age. There are many young fogies here, middle-aged women dressed as lambs, old women calling middle-aged men ‘youngstas’, a two-year old boy dressed in a sailor suit and a four-year old girl pushing a miniature pram. Old heads on young shoulders, many prematurely senile, and there’s quite a bit of second childhood, too.

I have adopted an American accent – more refined than those on the videos or which I adopted with Morris. I make out I have just flown in from Canada. It is a mask, a release – and also a talking point.
I am conscious of being looked at by a middle-aged man. Little is said but pleasantries. He buys all the drinks. I finger my ring, a more expensive one now. He can have no doubt of my attachments and inclinations. Yet he persists. And persists.
I could not quite work him out. Was he only into married men? Did he want to test his powers of seducing straight men and breaking up marriages? I could sympathise with that, and wondered what techniques he used.
He offered me a lift, then invited me to his house. I accepted politely, already envisaging a scenario in which I’d indignantly rebuff his advances and protest my new-found preferences.
I’d let him go as far as it suited me. He’ll be surprised when he oversteps the mark. I’m not sure where that mark will be. Nor how I will stop him overstepping it. Feeling unwell? My commitment to the ring? Or the Onegin approach – ‘If it were possible, it would be you; but it is not so – Ta! Ta! Tatiana.’ Or should I say I’m underage? My clothes may make me look mature – a not quite-thirty-ish – but by my leap-year computation, I am only four. So. Lemme go, sir. This is pederasty – almost.
His flat was most impressive and well-decked out. It might be worth my while leading him on, and testing myself. The surroundings were ones in which I’d be only too happy to relax in.
He beckoned to a large sofa. I sank down into it as I’m sure many had done before me. He sat perched on the hard edge of an easy chair. He was more affected now, confident in his own territory, not so affable or chatty. I felt nervous, unsure what I was in for. It is always dangerous going back with people; the open air is safer.
He pointed round the room.
‘I have everything here.’
I nodded and thought to myself, indeed, you certainly do. I’m most impressed, but I hope you haven’t spent all your money. I don’t want to have to go away with mere objects in kind – though I’ll admit that little cigarette lighter would make a rather fetching keepsake, collectible, pocketable, just the sort of thing a real host would expect any guest to take without asking. It would almost be ungrateful, churlish, not to.
‘Only one thing is missing,’ he said, offering me a drink. ‘You know why I invited you here? I could tell you were a decent sort, reliable stock, able to fulfill a role that is very dear to my heart. And you seem sufficiently understanding and malleable to do so. The type in short – we are looking for.’
‘We?’ I raised my eyebrows.
‘Yes, we. Is that a problem?’ He beckoned me to get up and follow him. I suspected I’d been touting for someone else and would be left to the mercy of a complete stranger, decrepit and house-bound. He led me to a dimly-lit bedroom and there sitting on the edge of the bed was a woman about his own age.
‘This is my dear wife. And this, my dear, is the gentleman. I don’t have a name.’
He did and after I’d collected myself was about to remind him. He held up his hand and stopped me.
‘Better not,’ he smiled. ‘What do you think of him, my dear? Mint condition, eh? Just flown in from – the States. Or Canada. Or Somewhere. You like my choice?’
She looked me up and down and nodded. For a moment there was an awkward silence.
‘My wife and I have a very dear wish,’ he began. ‘Through no fault of …’
‘It’s not your fault, darling. If it’s anyone’s it’s mine.’
‘That’s not true. You’re always blaming yourself.’
‘And so are you. Anyway I wasn’t going to say it was mine. Or yours. The tests were inconclusive. From all the clinics.’
They embraced.
‘We have a very dear wish,’ he repeated. ‘We want a child. We have done everything, haven’t we, my dear?’
They embraced again and chanted antiphonally.
‘We have done it on the hearth, we have done it in the open, in the back of the car, in the bath, on the ironing board and behind the bus-top, five minutes before the last bus.’
‘I’ve taken her in every position and angle.’
‘We’ve read every book and tried every medicament and spell.’
‘We’ve done it to the right astrological dates. In the full moon – and in the waxing and waning thereof.’
‘We have lain ourselves down on a whole succession of beds – single, double, bunk, water, silent, creaking.’
‘We thought a four poster would at least beget us a son and heir.’
‘We’ve played Mummies.’
‘We’ve played Daddies.’
‘And Rabbits.’
‘Yes, we’re always playing Bunnies.’
But,’ they said together, ‘it doesn’t happen.’
‘We want you to give us one.’
‘I see,’ I said, my unflappable exterior in no way registering my momentary heart flutter. I puckered my eyebrows and added quizzically, ‘It’s an odd request.’
He got out a wodge of ten pound notes. ‘But not unknown, of course.’ He crumpled the notes.
‘You’re right, not unknown.’ From which I assumed I was not the first. ‘Well, of course, I deeply sympathise with your plight. It must be awful. And no amount of professional counselling could ever make up for the loss, but … it doesn’t sound right.’
He took out a wodge of twenty pound notes and crumpled them. ‘Does this sound any better?’ he asked.
‘Please don’t hesitate to say Yes,’ interrupted his wife. ‘We will not think the worse of you.’
‘Do not think us cynical,’ he continued. ‘There is a time and an issue in every couple’s life …’
‘Yeah! Yeah! I understand that.’
‘… of such surpassing importance that they will be prepared to abandon the accepted …’ he circled his wrist, stopped and ushered my attention to the spectacle of his wife undressing. ‘What harm can there be in this? Look. She is still a very lovely woman, eh? She exercises regularly. And in particular keeps her tummy trim. A wise precaution for when the time comes.’
And indeed her stomach was her best part. Her face, neck and hands were drawn and lined. Her poor breasts – like cowpats after a hailstorm – hung apart as if weighed down by invisible succubi. Her ankles were non-existent; her calf went straight into her foot. But below the breasts and above the knee she was as smooth and taut as a young girl.
He stretched her out on the bed, and sat by the pillow, stroking her brow. He whispered, ‘The operation will soon be over, darling, and everything will be OK.’
‘Oh, dearest, I’m so thrilled.’
‘Hold my hand if you want. I’ll be here all the time. Keep your eyes closed tight throughout.’
He was standing alongside me now. He began to take off my clothes. I gently patted a NO-NO tattoo on his hand and unbuttoned myself. I must have emerged looking much younger than ever my clothes suggested. It seemed to excite him and he pushed me forward – and gave a military bark.
‘Poke your willie up her cuntikins,’ he ordered.
‘Up my cuntikins,’ she echoed.
‘Pump those wriggling little baby-makers up to her eggie-peggie.’
‘My eggie-peggie’s waiting.’
‘Crack that shell. Yeah. Shell the bitch.’
‘This bitch say Shell Me. Crater that runway.’
‘Tighten those lips. Don’t let that little man go.’
‘Lips being tightened, sir.’
‘Don’t let him fuck you,’ he ordered her. ‘You engorge him. Take his essence.’
‘Engorging his essence.’
‘And as for you,’ he said, pushing my bum forward as I plunged deeper, ‘you bloody give it to her. Let her fucking have it. Do you hear? Give her all you’ve got.’
‘Give me all you’ve got.’
‘I’m getting nearer,’ he said, as I accelerated. ‘Prepare to receive. I’m coming, darling,’ he yelled. ‘UrHurh! UrHurh! Aarh!’ he grunted as I came.
He quickly pulled me out and immediately slipped into her and jiggled around. ‘I’m still here, darling. Just adjusting position. You can open your eyes now. How was it, darling?’
‘It was wonderful. The best ever.’
‘Was it?’
‘Yes, it was, wasn’t it?
‘Let’s do it again,’ and he began his ‘turn.’
I looked on intrigued.
‘They must have taken, the little wrigglers,’ he said, withdrawing. ‘Lie still. Don’t disturb them.’ He put his ear to her stomach. ‘I can hear them doing their work. I’m pretty sure one’s taken.’
‘Oh, darling.’
‘Yes, I can hear it fusing.’ He put his hands on her stomach. ‘It’s getting bigger already.’ He paused and added, ‘Mummy.’ She replied. ‘Daddy.’
I coughed to remind them of my presence.
‘Who is that man, darling?’
‘He’s the Good Seed Fairy. Flown in specially to sprinkle stardust.’
‘That’s alright, then.’
He went to the bedside drawer and handed me a packet of tampons.
‘Throw these in the bin on your way out.’


About jdixonclapham

Poet and short story writer, John Dixon has had poems published in Chroma. Envoi, Iota, Orbis, Nomad and Haiku Quarterly. His first collection - Seeking, Finding, Losing - was published in 2012. He has edited the poems of the late Ivor Treby.In 2013 he published a collection of short stories - The Carrier Bag - which includes the Bridport Prize-winning title story. He won a prize at the Chorley Short Story Competition. Other stories have appeared in the anthologies - People Your Mother Warned You About, The Best of Gazebo, and Eros at Large.He edited - Fiction in Libraries - for the Library Association, and co-edited a volume of his father's short stories and his mother's autobiography. He has written reviews for Chroma Blog.He has given readings at Libraries, Schools of Drama, and LGBT groups and Southwark's Rhyme and Reason festival of Poetry.His novel - Push Harder Mummy, I want to come out - is due for publication shortly.

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