Money For Old Shoes

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One day, the world will stop using paper money as a currency, but until that day thieves will target where the most substantial amounts are kept.
Banks are a favourite target for obvious reasons.
It’s been my job to catch those that see robbing banks as a shortcut to the easy life. I’ve worked my way up to inspector, and I’ve served my time. In a couple of months, I will retire on a full pension. I haven’t the slightest idea what I will do with my time, but I’ll worry about that when it comes. For now, I’ve got more significant problems.
It comes as no surprise to me (although everyone else seems thoroughly shocked) that a long-serving, high ranking police officer decided to inform on most of his former corrupt colleagues to avoid going to gaol for what remained of his life.

I remember the day when detective sergeant Wilson (now assistant commissioner Wilson) first handed me an envelope with my name on it. The envelope looked innocent enough, and the wad of fifty dollar notes made it look slightly pregnant.
“Don’t look at me like that you little piss ant. You take your cut and keep your expletive mouth shut.”
I didn’t take the envelope, but the angry DS dropped it on my desk, wiped his nose on his sleeve, tucked in his considerable gut, sneered at me and sauntered off in the direction of the exit which led to our local hotel — his other office.
I’d been in the squad for about five minutes, and the old members looked at me as a spy. I was way too young in their eyes. I had to be sleeping with someone or someone’s nephew. Either way, I wasn’t to be trusted.
It may sound like I was surprised by all this, but I wasn’t. I had a mentor who told me what to expect. My mentor was six feet five inches tall and almost as wide which was partly to blame for him being retired from the armed robbery squad and the police force in general. He was just too big a target. He’d been shot three times during his career, and the last bullet damaged his colon so severely that he was considered unfit for duty.
William Prentiss was a friend of my father. In fact, my father blamed him for my career choice.
“They’ll smear you with their dirty dealings, and you will have to decide very quickly how you are going to handle yourself. If you refuse to take the kickbacks, you are likely to find yourself on your own one day staring down the barrel. If you take it, they have you, and they know you won’t tell anyone because you will look as guilty as they are. The whole thing will unravel one day when some chunky bastard contracts something terminal and decides to get all his naughty deeds off his chest before he meets his maker. But until then, you have to work out how you are going to survive.”
It was a valuable insight, and a sane person would have resigned at that point, but I’m a stubborn bastard, and I liked the idea of hunting bad guys with guns.
I gave the whole situation a lot of thought, and I decided to take the envelopes (and bundles when things went decidedly well) and catalogue them. I wrote the time, and the date and the prick who forced me to take it and I wrapped it in plastic (mostly supermarket bags) and wrote the information again on the plastic. These bundles would then be stored in shoe boxes. The boxes ended up in a huge old wooden cupboard I bought at a government auction. This thing was monstrous and weighed a lot, but it served the purpose. It’s in my garage as I write and it is packed tight.
The Greenies will tell you that supermarket bags don’t break down over time — that bollocks. Many of the bags fell to pieces as the Rat Squad pulled them out which made me glad that I had written the details on the envelopes.
You may be wondering why so many decades went by without the truth coming to light.
When everyone gets paid there is a high degree of motivation for things to continue.
Behind the scenes, there were officers like myself trying to gather information to bring these creatures in front of a court.
We planted marked money in several banks over a period of years, but the robbers always managed to avoid the tell-tale bank notes.
We had all of the phones tapped but never did we intercept a call.
It turned out that most of the banks that were being robbed had an inside person — often high ranking. Whenever a crew burst into one of the banks where we had marked money, there would be a pair of shoes in the vault. The unoccupied shoes meant that the money was tainted so the robbers would stick to what was in the tills. Small pickings, but preferable to getting caught.
If we salted the tills, the bank employee would take his shoes off and stack them neatly together where the crew would notice them. If he were questioned later, he would say that the robbers made him do it and he didn’t know why.
Naturally, the newspapers had a field day.
‘SHOELESS JOE CREW STRIKES AGAIN.’
‘THEY TOOK ALL THE MONEY AND LEFT THE SHOES BEHIND.’
‘SHOELESS AND CLUELESS.’ this last one was a dig at us for not being able to catch the robbers.
It got to the point that customers started taking their shoes off during a robbery because they thought it was expected.
This led to a lot of confusion for the thieves, and they had to switch to a different signal.
They stole a lot of money, and a great deal of it went in payoffs. The insurance companies put their premiums up, and the general public paid the price.
All this came spilling out as evidence in the case, and several high ranking officers were arrested, and a few who had retired were scooped up as well.
When they knocked on my door one Sunday afternoon, “for a friendly chat”, I told them what I knew and showed them the cupboard and its contents.
“You’re a confident bugger,” said the painfully young sergeant who was probably serving his time in the Internal Investigation Squad because it would speed his rise through the ranks.
“You’re a confident bugger — sir,” I replied.
“Yes sir,” said the young man, who now seemed a few inches shorter.
“I never spent a penny of it. It’s all there and clearly labelled. You will have fingerprints and DNA to back up my labelling and you will all look like a bunch of ungrateful bastards if you charge me. My barrister will have a field day,” I said without the slightest hint of a smile.
The brighter ones among them knew I was right, but that didn’t guarantee my safety.
“You’ll have to testify, you smug bastard,” said the highest ranking officer and it was the first words he had spoken since they all arrived.
“It’s a little bit cramped in here,” I said. “Do you think that ten or twenty of you could step out and give me the senior officer a bit of air?”
No one moved.
“Go on piss off,” said the officer with the gold braid. My garage was soon empty except for me, and the gold braid and a shit load of yellow envelops strewn across the floor.
“I’ll testify, and that will sew this thing up tight,” I said. “I want early retirement — starting from today, no gaol time, no protective custody, and I keep my pension.”
“I’ll have to make some calls, but I’m reasonably sure I can get you most of it, but you can kiss your pension goodbye — they’ll never go for that.”
“Just put it to them forcefully, and I’ll live with what follows,” I said.
The ‘gold braid’ got on his phone, and before long, all the blue uniforms were gone, and I had my house back. They didn’t search the house, but they did bring in a truck, and they took the old cupboard away.
They didn’t search my toolshed either, which was just as well because it contained every fourth envelope I ever received. The nasty people who forced me to take them most probably didn’t keep records so how would they know after all these years?
I had spent some of it over the years, but there was still a small mountain of them unopened. If I did lose my pension, I’d still be okay.
“What was that all about Birt?” my wife asked as the truck with the cupboard drove up the street. She is an excellent copper’s wife — she stayed out of the way until I could explain to her in private. I know she wondered why other police families had boats and holiday houses and trips overseas while we chugged along on the basics, but she never complained — not once.
“A bunch of blokes who made my life a misery are about to get theirs, and I’m the one who is nailing the coffin lids shut.”
She knew there was more to it than that and she knew I would tell her most of it. We’d lie in bed and I’d unfold it for her. She’ll understand. Keeping secrets is part of the job, but not telling her — my best friend — all these years has been difficult. I’ve always tried to ‘not bring the job home with me’, but this was different. I wanted her to be genuinely shocked by the discovery of all that money if my plan went south. She’s put up with a lot during my career and I was not going to let these arseholes drag her down with me. The next few days will see if the brass sticks to our deal, but I’m not going to lose any sleep. Our new life starts today.
“I think it’s time to break out that bottle of bubbly that your sister gave us, but before we do that, there’s something in the shed I’d like to show you. I think you’re going to enjoy this sweetheart.”

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Marcel

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When I met Marcel, I was wearing a slinky gown that reached to the ground. It hugged me in all the right places, and every penny I had spent on my spectacular body was on display. My breasts aren’t large, but they are pretty. My dress caressed them and exposed just enough. I wasn’t wearing panties or a bra because it would have ruined the fall of the dress —the dress I purchased only for this occasion.

One of my husband’s friends was receiving an award so the banquet hall would be full of uncomfortably dressed men imitating penguins and fabulously dressed women, all trying to impress each other while comparing their husband’s incomes.

When I first saw him, the dining hall was receiving its finishing touches. None of the bustling staff paid me any attention — one more weepy woman — what did I have to be unhappy about? An observant person would say my life looked perfect. The girls, earning minimum wage, while arranging crystal wine glasses, probably wanted to be me.

My husband disappeared into his career a long time ago, but he still expected me to adore him even though he’s a stranger. If he had found a woman who was prepared to play his game I’m sure he would have left me, but instead, we occupy the same house, and our schedules mean that we occasionally bump into each other.

Marcel was dressed like a penguin also, but he wasn’t a guest he was working — a hired gun, so to speak — an experienced chef moonlighting as a head waiter — just for the night.

“You are unhappy, beautiful lady?”

“Just a bit — nothing to worry about,” I said.

“Why are you alone?”

“I’m not. My husband is in the other room — networking.”

The anteroom was full of well-dressed people exchanging business cards.

“If you were with me, I wouldn’t leave you alone for a moment.”

I lowered my eyes as I smiled demurely. I searched for something to say, but his words took me by surprise. I’ve had men say such things to me in the past, but there was always an edge to their voice that made me uncomfortable.

I sensed a gentle sincerity in Marcel — he meant what he said. That’s not to say that he wasn’t trying his luck — trying to get into the pants that I wasn’t wearing.

He moved closer, and I lowered my eyes a little more. He leaned into my personal space, and I could feel his breath on my bare shoulders.

“You are very forward for a waiter,” I said as I finally found my voice. I didn’t move away from him as a married woman should have while spurning an unwanted advance. Instead, I looked up into his eyes and my rebuke held no venom.

“I am many things and a waiter for only one night. I am also a man who recognises an unhappy woman. I can make you happy,” he said with a devilish smile.

“I doubt that my husband would like to hear you say those words.”

“You are a woman who should be cherished. Your every wish should be granted. Your man should put his hands on you and show you what heaven looks like.”

“And I suppose that you are a man who can achieve that for a woman?”

His attention was arousing me. I didn’t see the harm in encouraging him; I wouldn’t see him again after this night — we come from different worlds.

“I would take you anywhere you want to go,” he said with that same smile.

I had butterflies in my tummy, and I was moist. A trip to the ‘ladies’ would be necessary before we sat down for dinner.

I went to find my husband to tell him of my cheeky adventure, but he was deep in conversation with a couple of penguins — he ignored me, once again, so I stood by until we were called for dinner.

The banquet hall buzzed with conversation. The food was good, and the wine was better than expected. The hotel staff hovered around the table and made sure that we were well looked after. Marcel found any excuse to service my end of the table. He smiled at me constantly. He made funny faces and caught my eye. No one noticed his interest in me, but I loved the attention even though I did my best to look as though I was discouraging him — he saw through me.

Despite my beauty and position in society, no one had shown me this kind of blatant interest. I swear he would have made love to me there and then if I had let him.

~oOo~

“Hello, Elizabeth. Are you still sad?”

I was going through my notes for the lecture I was to give the next day — I was glad of the distraction. I recognised his voice, but I made him work for my attention.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know to whom I am speaking.”

“It’s Marcel, from last night’s banquet. Tall, dark, handsome in an irresistible way. Marcel, the head waiter,” he sounded cheeky, but a bit disappointed that I did not immediately know who he was.

“What can I do for you Marcel the head waiter?”

“You can meet me for coffee.”

“Will you be wearing your Tux? I meet so many handsome men. How will I recognise you out of uniform?”

There was a moment of silence. Maybe he was trying to work out if I was kidding him or not.

“The Tasty Cafe at about three tomorrow. I know you will recognise me because I remember the way you looked at me.”

“I might be able to drag myself away — we’ll see.”

I hung up the phone before he had time to answer. I felt like a naughty school girl planning to cut classes for the day.

 

An excerpt from DOT, DOT, DOT …

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DOT, DOT, DOT … published

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The big day has arrived and the word PUBLISHED appears next to the name of this book on all of the sales outlets. A lot of work went into making the stories about real people having meaningful encounters. DOT, DOT, DOT … includes two novellas (actually one novella and a novelette).

Read all about ita newspaper columnist falls in love with a mysterious widow. His life will never be the same after he meets her at a glitzy reception — not his normal habitat. Will he make it out with his sanity intact?

Unexpected: a mature woman reaching for her chance at happiness. Her life had been comfortable and devoid of passion. Now, she must choose — a life of privilege or an adventure. Her lover shows her attention and reintroduces her to passion. Her lover has also to choose — will they end up together?

A string of short stories trace the awakening of a love affair between a newly married couple. Sam and Scarlett (the characters from my first novel The Long Weekend) are confronted with the difficulties of Sam’s recovery from a suspicious car accident. Sam’s head injury requires a long convalescence. His memories are returning slowly, but the most important memory is but a fog. Sam does not remember meeting and marrying Scarlett.

Over a series of stories, they rediscover their intimate relationship.

In other stories, an old woman remembers an encounter with her lover and a particular piece of furniture — an adventurous modern woman uses her body to obtain secrets — a woman writes a letter to her lover — a gambler reflects on his lucky escape and his possibility of carnal delights.

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The paperback version of DOT, DOT, DOT … and the eBook, and the AUDIOBOOK are all released on the same day — today. It took a bit of organising, but they all lined up nicely.

The paperback (Amazon and Blurb) the ebook (iTunes, Amazon and Smashwords) and the audiobook (Amazon, iTunes, Audiobooks.com and a bunch of others) are all available now. Please take the time to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads — it really helps.

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DOT, DOT, DOT … 4 days to release

January 31st, 2018 marks the release date for my latest book (number eleven). More than a year in the making (I know you are happy to wait as long as the end product is as good as it can be). Good erotic prose is difficult to achieve, so a lot of work went into making the stories about real people having meaningful encounters. This book includes two novellas (actually one novella and a novelette). Read all about it sees a newspaper columnist fall in love with a mysterious widow. His life will never be the same after he meets her at a glitzy reception — not his normal habitat. Will he make it out with his sanity intact? Unexpected sees a mature woman reaching for her chance at happiness. Her life had been comfortable and devoid of passion. Now, she must choose — a life of privilege or an adventure. Her lover shows her attention and reintroduces her to passion. Her lover has also to choose — will they end up together?

A string of short stories trace the awakening of a love affair between a newly married couple. Sam and Scarlett (the characters from my first novel The Long Weekend) are confronted with the difficulties of Sam’s recovery from a suspicious car accident. Sam’s head injury requires a long convalescence. His memories are returning slowly, but the most important memory is but a fog. Sam does not remember meeting and marrying Scarlett. Over a series of stories, they rediscover their intimate relationship.

In other stories, an old woman remembers an encounter with her lover and a particular piece of furniture — an adventurous modern woman uses her body to obtain secrets — a woman writes a letter to her lover — a gambler reflects on his lucky escape and his possibility of carnal delights.

The paperback version of DOT, DOT, DOT … and the eBook, and the AUDIOBOOK are all released on the same day. It took a bit of organising, but they all lined up nicely.

The paperback (Amazon and Blurb) the ebook (iTunes, Amazon and Smashwords) and the audiobook (Amazon, iTunes, Audiobooks.com and a bunch of others) are all available for preorder. Please take the time to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads — it really helps.

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Dossier

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The manila folder arrived with the morning mail and Mr Albertson — not his real name — expected the mail to be on his desk when he arrived — around 10:30 am.
His secretary didn’t particularly like her job, but she didn’t hate it either — her feelings, as she expressed them to her girlfriends over wine on a Friday evening, in the pub just off the High Street, were of a banal kind of acceptance — “Until something better comes along, or when Mr Right gets off his fat rear end (she rarely used bad language) and asks me to marry him.” Fortunately for her, ‘Mr Right’ was sitting at the other end of the bar watching her — every Friday night for the past two months. When she suddenly stopped coming on a Friday night after work, he went looking for her. Her sudden absence was the ‘spur to courage’ that he had needed.
As it happened, several manila folders were being delivered on this morning, but Mr Albertson — not his birth name — was the first to open his.
The silver and gold letter opener — a present from his mistress — cut through the thick yellow paper and when he tipped the envelope, a copy of the first page of his dossier fell out. On the bottom of the page were the words ‘ONLY THE FIRST PAGE’. A smaller piece of paper labelled ‘instructions’ fell to the floor. Mr Albertson — not the name he was born with or used during his collaboration with the enemy — picked up the piece of paper and read it carefully. He sat quietly for a moment in his government office with the pleasant view and shiny wood panelled walls. His next move was to press the intercom button and tell his secretary he was not to be disturbed and could she get him an outside line. The phone went click as she connected him and he dialled the number. The phone on the other end answered and a man said, ‘Hello’.
“They’ve found us,” said Mr Albertson. “I knew this day would come. Did you get an envelope?”
“Yes,” said the voice on the line. “What are you going to do?”
“I haven’t decided yet. I might pay them. I haven’t decided.”
Mr Albertson hung up the phone, reached into the top drawer of his desk, opened the chamber on his revolver. Satisfied that it was loaded, he put his keys and his watch on the desk, emptied the considerable contents of his wallet into a white envelope and wrote his secretary’s name on it with the words, “Don’t believe everything they will say about me.”
He had practised this move many times in his head, but now that the moment had come, he couldn’t decide — under the chin, on the temple or in the mouth.
The bang made Mr Albertson’s secretary jump. Several thoughts ran through her head as she sat in her chair. She didn’t think she was the kind of person who would sit in a chair after hearing an enormous bang, but apparently, she was.
The fog in her brain cleared and she rushed into her boss’s office. There was a lot of blood, and some of it mixed with what looked like sticky grey matter was sliding down the walls — Mr Albertson had gone for the ‘in the mouth’ option.
The secretary didn’t scream, she just stared. Mr Alberston was her first dead body. The blood-spattered envelope caught her eye, and she scooped it up and put it in her desk before she called for help.

In other parts of Paris and a few provincial centres, the activity was less dramatic.
Many large yellow envelopes were opened, many shocked expressions were given, many decisions were made, but only Mr Alberston, who had changed his name to hide his past collaboration, decided to take the fatal way out.
The amounts asked for were not large, but they were to be regular. The thinking behind the amounts asked was to make it easy for the person being blackmailed to see reason.
Some letters did not contain a ‘request’ for money. Instead, there was the strong suggestion that Farr and Dent should not be pursued lest the file falls into the wrong hands. These notes were delivered to those who had State resources and who were not frightened to use them to deadly ends — never poke the tiger.

The plan was well thought out and well executed. The result was a modest amount of constant income mixed with a bit of breathing room for the deadly Canadians.

You might think that one or two of the people who received the yellow envelopes would have tried their luck — called their bluff. That had been thought out as well.

That same morning, the most prominent newspapers in France ran the story of a bunch of wartime enemy dossiers being found, implicating several high ranking public servants and two successful industrialists. The President promised that there would be a full inquiry and “Anyone found wanting will be punished to the extent of the law.”
The enquiry did go ahead, but mysteriously, all those accused had been able to flee the country before capture. Another enquiry was ordered to investigate how this could happen.

~oOo~

When Daisy arrived home that night, there was a yellow envelope under her door.
Her little dog had chewed on the corner after it was pushed through, but the message inside was untouched.
“The piper has been paid. Just like old times — we work well together. Until the next adventure, keep your eyes open Daisy and thank you.
Judy and Christian.”

Wallpaper

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Michael wasn’t happy about changing restaurants.

“Why?” he asked.

“I hate the wallpaper,” I said.

Michael looked at me as though I had taken leave of my senses. It was all I could come up with at short notice. It worked for Oscar Wilde — people thought he was witty, but it wasn’t doing me any favours.

“They don’t have any wallpaper,” he said.

“In the ladies room.”

“You haven’t been to the ladies room; we just got here.”

“Trust me. I can’t dine at an establishment that has substandard wallpaper in the loo — I have standards!”

I’m pretty sure I stamped my foot.

I hadn’t known Michael long enough to pull this kind of stunt and not damage our relationship, but the alternative was letting my husband see me with a strange man while I was supposed to be twisting myself into unusual shapes in a quest for enlightenment at yoga class.

Michael and I walked for a few minutes and found another eatery that looked cozy.

“I love this place. Let’s eat here,” I said.

“Are you sure? Wouldn’t you like to check the restrooms?”

“No need — black tiles, lots of mirrors, no problem.” I gave him my biggest smile, and it worked.

Dinner went well, and we made another date, so my assignment went well. Barry wouldn’t have been happy if I had stuffed it up, he puts in a lot of preparation before he sends me out on a job.

“Seduce this bloke and get close to him. No ‘one night stand’, you need to be around him a lot. I’ll give you more details once you’ve hooked him,” said Barry with a mouth full of tuna sandwich.

You may disagree with my chosen lifestyle, and I’m sure that many people would agree with you, but one thing you could not say was that I was in this life for anything other than the excitement and the money. There’s plenty of sex and the sex with my husband has moved to another level since my new life began. He loves the new me. “I don’t know what happened to you, but I don’t want to jinx it by asking too many questions.”

The sex in this job is merely a means to an end.

I feel foolish saying this, but I thought we were fine — boring, ordinary and fine. Sex is constant and delicious. No signs that anything was wrong. Two wonderful boys and a domestic set up that most people would kill for.

What went wrong?

Who is this woman, and why was he with her in that restaurant?

The brief view I had of them both said that he isn’t bedding her — not yet. He’s trying his luck. She hasn’t given him the green light.

Why is she out with a married man — my married man?

I will find out — nothing is more important.

Michael can wait. He likes me, so I have some time.

I need Barry, and I never thought I would hear myself say that. Barry knows everyone worth knowing.

“So what can I do for you, sweet cheeks?” said Barry.

“You have no idea how sweet my cheeks are Barry,” I said.

“True, but I live in hope.”

“Assume that my bottom is spectacular and shift your attention to my problem.”

“Which is?”

“My husband has a girlfriend.”

“Okay. I didn’t see that coming. Do you want them both killed? I know a bloke who does a discount for doubles.”

“Let’s start with information before we progress to bloodshed.”

“We could do that. What do you want to know?” Barry was showing concern, and I found it unsettling.

“Who is she. How did he meet her and what does she want?” I said.

“Got it. I’ll get in touch when I’ve got something. How much do you want to spend? The bloke I have in mind is the best. He’s expensive, and he’s available right now.”

“How many shoeboxes full of money does he charge? I’ve got a wardrobe full of them.”

“I’ll take that as a yes,” said Barry.

Barry got up from the table and disappeared into a back room, and I did something I have not done in all the time I have been meeting Barry at the Rising Sun Hotel — I went to the bar. Usually, I can’t wait to get out of the place, but today I wanted a drink.

“Do you have something that will make me feel better, Boris?” I asked.

Boris gave me the only facial expression he owned.

“Do you need remember or forget?” asked Boris, and I was impressed by his question — that pretty much covered it; remember or forget.

“Forget, I think Boris. Tomorrow is soon enough for remembering.”

Boris gave me a tall glass of sticky liquid approaching the colour of honey mixed with diesel fuel. I drained it and asked for another. I don’t remember much after that.

When I awoke, it was morning, but I wasn’t sure of which day. I was in a small room that smelled of dust, beer and leather. The furniture was sparse, the door was open and considering Barry’s reputation, I checked my panties to see if I’d been interfered with. As far as I could tell, I was unmolested.

Boris appeared with a cup of tea and a couple of painkillers.

“You drink, take these, you feel better soon. I put you to bed. No look at your bum. Boris a gentleman.”

“Thank you, Boris. I’ve never done that before,” I said. Boris nodded and left me to my misery.

Apart from my headache, my biggest concern was what I was going to tell my husband.

When I stumbled back to my car, it had a parking ticket — no surprise there.

My panic went for nothing because my husband had not made it home that night either. Mother and father absent from the family home and neither of our boys noticed — teenagers!

“I’m sorry about last night. I had a few and crashed at a mates’ place. I hope you weren’t too worried?” said my husband as he appeared, somewhat sheepishly at dinner that night.

I was relieved and surprised that I was off the hook and it took me a moment to adjust.

“You could have rung,” I said with a touch of annoyance.

“Phone went flat, and I was too pissed to think straight — I am sorry.”

“You are forgiven, and your dinner is in the oven,” I said, and my mind began to wonder whose bed he slept in while I was asleep in a dusty little room at the Rising Sun Hotel.

The Road North

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The small collection of people milling around in the lay-by must have thought we were a happily married couple, and we were — just not to each other.

I asked him to go back.

You could do that in those days — go back. These days the roads are designed to make you keep going — no turning back.

I wanted an ice cream, and I knew there would be an ice cream truck and a van that dispensed cups of tea and mysterious sandwiches.

An old lady was selling flowers out of the back of an ancient van. She smiled at Joseph when he leaned down and touched the bunch with the red and yellow blooms. He didn’t ask me what I wanted, he chose for me, and he chose well.

The buying of flowers was a window into our relationship — we went well together, and I followed his lead.

Our time together isn’t a cliche — his wife definitely understands him, and I’m not bored with my marriage.

We could have been brother and sister except for him performing various carnal acts upon my person — all of which I approved of.

The flowers travelled most of the way north, from just outside London until a petrol station just before Edinburgh. I gave them to a woman who looked sad — cup of tea under her nose staring into space; better than letting them die in our hotel room. She smiled, and I smiled back. She didn’t ask me why and best of all Joseph didn’t either. He understood me. Do you know how rare it is to have someone understand you?

We had been exchanging conversation and bodily fluids for more than a year when he suggested that I come with him on a business trip to Scotland — a road trip. The gods were kind, and I was able to get away without creating a web of lies.

We were in the early throes of our adventure when I noticed the stopover, full of people and commerce.

Joseph groaned, but he found a gap in the highway and turned back. The day was warm, and our hearts were light enough to shut out our old lives so we could make the adventure real — something for us.

I changed my mind about the ice cream — it’s a woman’s right.

The flowers were enough.

The gentleman with the pipe wanted to know how long we had been married, “You seem so happy, it can’t have been long.”

I looked at Joseph for guidance. “A bit more than eight years,” which was correct in his case. For me, it was more like seven.

“How do you keep your marriage so fresh? All the people I know would never hold hands in public. Hell, most of the married people I know don’t like each other much.”

“We pretend we are married to someone else and we are off for a naughty weekend. It works like a charm,” said Joseph.

“But it’s Wednesday?” protested the pipe smoker.

“The other thing we do is not get hung up on details,” I said with a smile. “Also, we eat a lot of lettuce.”

As we walked away, the pipe smoker looked a bit confused.

“Lettuce?” said Joseph and we both burst out laughing.

The blinding light from the exploding flashbulb brought us back to Earth.

“Would you like to buy a photo of you and the lady?” said the man in the brown suit.

Sam the Photo Man, as he was known, usually worked the promenade at the seaside, but he was on his way to visit a friend and stopped to see why there were so many people out on this sunny day.

“How much?” said Joseph. I don’t remember his reply. I’m not concerned about money when I’m with Joseph.

They agreed on a price, and the photographer took one more posed shot — just to be sure.

“Make sure that the first shot is included,” said Joseph. Sam, the Photo Man, was true to his word and the photographs were delivered to Joseph’s office a little over a week later. He made a copy for me, and I keep it in my underwear drawer.

We climbed back into his shiny new Rover, “I’ll be driving a Jag next year if this trip goes well.”

The Rover was smooth and roomy, and we stopped three times on our journey and made love on the back seat. I sat on his lap with my skirt pulled up and my knickers on the seat next to us.

Sex with Joseph was never frantic. Our lovemaking was warm, slow and sensuous. The part of Joseph that was inside me felt like it was designed primarily for me — maybe it was. Perhaps the angels assembled him with me in mind. They did a spectacular job.

My head kept banging on the roof of the car as I arched my back. We laughed every time I bumped it, and I could feel him pulse inside me as he laughed.

The business part of our trip went well, and Joseph impressed his bosses. He impressed me as well — several times.

Until this trip, our sexual relationship had been a case of ‘grab it where you can’, but this trip gave us a chance to get to know each other away from the pressures of our ‘other life’.

I’m not sure how long our relationship will last, but I’m visualising telling my grandchildren about the man I had an affair with that continued for several decades.

“How did you manage to keep it a secret grandma?” my impressed granddaughter will ask.

“Because no one suspected us. We looked more like brother and sister than adulterous lovers — and we ate a lot of lettuce.”

Every Girl’s Dream?

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Is it every girl’s dream to be an artist’s model?

Do girls secretly dream about being approached. Standing quietly, looking gorgeous, at some avant-guard party inhabited by musicians, writers and painters, and a tall vaguely handsome man walks up to you and asks you to ‘sit’ for him.

This was never my fantasy, but it happened to me just the same.

I’m well read, I like art in all its forms, and I have existed, thus far, outside the artistic world. That was until that night and that party. I was wearing my favourite gown and, as you would expect, I felt great. I guess my enjoyment of life was showing because there he was, talking to me. The room was full of stunning females, and I pointed this fact out to him. He dismissed my point and asked me to turn my head slightly.

“My tits are much more interesting than my face.”

“I don’t agree. You have just the face I’ve been looking for. Your tits are excellent, but I can get excellent tits any time of the day or night. A truly beautiful face is hard to find.”

I was a little taken aback. I know that I’m attractive. I’ve always known it but the word ‘beautiful’ was one that I had avoided. But that’s the thing about artists when they say beautiful they are talking about something that the rest of us struggle to see. They see the difference between pretty and beautiful and beautiful and stunning. I defy you to define the difference, but if I put those questions to an artist they would instantly have an answer, and they would be able to back it up with examples.

In the end, I said yes. I’m no longer a child, and I’m not worried about ‘being taken advantage of’. Not in the literal sense or the metaphorical one.

His studio is three floors up in the old industrial part of the city. The view is impressive without being stunning, and the light is lovely. Whenever we’d take a break, I liked to wander around and look at the finished and unfinished canvases which littered the room. I got the impression that he often slept there when the work demanded a late night. The single bed in the corner of the room was just barely comfortable enough to sleep on but more than adequate for making love. I asked him where it came from and he said it belonged to an uncle and that he had rescued it when his uncle died and the family were throwing out all his stuff. The small table on the East wall was his as well. He told me that he found a bundle of old letters in a space behind the single drawer. Mostly they were mundane correspondence letters but a small group, tied up with a silk ribbon, suggested the possibility of romance which had not blossomed. He spoke wistfully about his uncle and the lost opportunity for love.

“The rest of the family thought he was a bit of a duffer, but I liked him. He always remembered my name, and there was a heap of us youngins. He seemed a bit sad, but he always smiled at me and told me stories. Somehow he found out that I liked to draw and paint and he always asked about my current project. When they were throwing out his stuff, they came upon a heap of drawings that I had given him. He kept them. I felt bad that I had not realised at the time that we had a connection. Maybe he saw something of himself in me. Something unrealised.”

“Kids are too busy being kids to notice the subtle stuff. He liked you, that’s the thing to remember. And I’m sure that he would be impressed by the number of women you have had in his bed.”

“Yes, I think he would be.”

On the other side of the studio, there was a workbench covered in paints and painting paraphernalia, including many paint-splattered art books and sketches. The tiny bathroom looked like it has hosted a major battle and I only rarely used the toilet. Just in an emergency.

One of the walls was solid brick which still had remnants of ancient plaster. There was also an old fireplace which looked functional. The fire surround would have been more at home in an old kitchen, so I’m guessing that this was not part of any past living quarters. Most likely this used to be an office, and not a high class one. Now it was serving a creative purpose.

I did a little modelling when I was young, and I know that it is incredibly tedious. You get used to the treatment, or you don’t do it. If you are looking for glamour, you are looking in the wrong place.

I’m still not sure why artists insist on having live models. It would be heaps easier, not to mention cheaper, to take a bunch of high-resolution photographs.

My artist, insisted on me being in the room. I think he enjoys the company. It’s true that artists experience a spectacular sex life and my artist did ask me if it would be possible for him to make love to me as well as being his model. I was impressed with how comfortable he was with the idea. Not exactly ‘matter of fact’ but certainly relaxed. I told him I would give it due consideration and we would see if we both felt like it at the end of the assignment. He seemed to be okay with that, and I thought that the painting would have a more exciting edge if he were thinking about the possibility.

I was right. The painting is beautiful, and he is an attentive lover with some serious stamina. Not what I expected, but then again if we got what we expected all the time, life would be very dull indeed.

There wasn’t any long-term future for this talented man and me; I could see that. We enjoyed each others company, and he was a superior lover, but he would always be an artist, and his work would come first — all-night sessions while he laboured to finish a commission, not to mention the casual seduction of any female who walked through that door.

I like him very much but that is not the life I have mapped out for myself. Artists are fun to play with but they are way too much work long term.

The painting is finished and so is my time in this room. I sit in this chair and remember how much fun I’ve had, and I feel a little bit sad.

I’m pleased that my likeness will live on and that my beauty is immortalised, but it’s almost time for me to seek out the next adventure.

There’s no hurry though — I’m going to sit here for a while and bask in the glow.