GREAT FUN WHILE IT LASTED
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
GREAT FUN WHILE IT LASTED
GREAT FUN WHILE IT LASTED
Please note that some readers may be offended by the themes in this short story.
‘He’s just a loudmouth. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less.’
That’s how most people reacted to Brian Fyfe when they met him for the first time.
But not Harry. Not that Harry was any more forgiving than average or anything like that. Not at all. It was just that Harry saw something in Brian that he thought was lacking in his own character. Perhaps ‘calling a spade a spade’ is the best way to characterize this trait.
Harry spoke to Penny about it. ‘I thought about inviting him around one night. You know, for dinner, I mean. But I’m not sure you’d like him. He’s pretty forthright. Some might even say blunt.’
‘That’s all right. Nothing wrong with that. Why not ask him? Is married, do you know? Or will we have to pair him off with someone?’
But after Penny had given the green light, Harry decided to wait a while before adding Brian to their list of friends. He wanted to be sure. That he wasn’t just a loud mouth, that is.
Then Harry found out that Brian played golf and approached him about a game. Harry’s own golfing prowess was, he told Brian, ‘Poor on a bad day and mediocre on a good one.’
‘In that case I’ll take you on for a tenner,’ was the quick answer.
So they started playing the occasional round of golf, and, as everyone knows, golf’s a game that can be very revealing about character. And it was.
‘Come on Harry. What a crap shot. Fucking hell, you can do better than that, surely,’ he shouted across the fairway just after Harry had played a nine iron – a very bad shot indeed - trying to get his ball onto the green. But then he added in a self-deprecating way, ‘Not quite as bad as my succession of really crap shots though.’
A week or so later, Harry decided that Brian had passed muster and the Blyths had the Fyfes around to dinner.
The evening passed off very well. As was to be expected, Harry thought, because Brian was quite the raconteur. And Brenda was not slow in coming forward either. Penny was a good cook, and Harry, usually a tight-arse with alcohol, got in some better than usual wine, and it turned out to be a very entertaining evening.
So much so that after the polite reciprocal invitation, which also went off like a house on fire, they entertained each other regularly over the next year or so.
All good, clean fun. To start with anyway.
Well, OK, OK an omniscient observer may have noticed a slightly longer than usual goodnight kiss when they were leaving, or a slightly provocative caress when they embraced, and there were the occasional double entendres about sexual matters, but nothing untoward, that’s for certain. Nothing one wouldn’t hear around the average suburban dinner table when entertaining neighbors or friends.
But this same omniscient narrator might add that things changed – went off the rails, some would say – from the first time they went on holiday together. But the four of them certainly enjoyed Greece. Here’s why.
It all started when Harry saw a late night last-minute offer on TV.
‘It’s so cheap we just can’t turn it down,’ he said to Brian.
‘Yea, but I can guess at the target market this kind of thing will appeal to. And who wants to be on a tour with a crowd of miserable old codgers? Even if it is cheap and in eternal sunshine.’
‘Well, you could be right, but then, on the other hand, we could drop them as soon as we get there. That’ll be the go. We abandon the tour at the first hotel. And at the first opportunity we do our own thing.’
Well, the long and the short of it is that they all went off together.
And although they were all appalled at the crowd at the airport who were to be their traveling companions, Harry was right. Soon after landing on the island they found an attractive but cheap hotel right on the beach. The never saw any of the older fellow holidaymakers until they got back to the airport three weeks later.
Long sunny day followed long sunny day and after a few days in the sun all four of them had taken on a new healthy pallor that added to what must be said was the individual attractiveness that each of them had been blessed with. Tanned skins and bleached hair. Peeling noses. The men were reasonably fit and their wives both with quite good figures – enhanced by new, and quite daringly cut bikinis on the women and tight budgie smugglers on the men. They were, it must be said, a very attractive sight. All four of them.
And the catalyst for what was about to happen was when they found a wonderful seafood restaurant just off the sand. They took to taking meals there regularly.
Mario, the proprietor apparently, was always on hand with a warm greeting. And, naturally, his recommendations. ‘Ah, good to see you again my friends. I’ve got something really special to recommend today. House specialty. Fitch chew.’
‘What’s he on about? What on earth’s that?’ whispered Penny, a faint frown lining her suntanned forehead.
‘I think he means fish stew.’
‘Yes, yes. Mr Brian is right fitch chew. That’s it. Better than paella and bouillabaisse put together. You see. You taste. You like. Guaranteed.’
While they were waiting for their meal, Harry told them that he would have sworn that he’d heard Mario ‘or whatever his name is’ on the phone earlier that day.
‘I came out looking for a newspaper, and I’d swear I heard him talking perfect English on his cell phone when I walked past.’
They all laughed.
‘But it’s a great image. Broken English just makes it that little bit more authentic, I suppose.’
And it was a great meal too. Washed down with several bottles of retsina. Enough to make them all a little wobbly on the way back to their hotel. And enough to cause Brian to suggest they have a nightcap in the Fyfe’s room.
So, a relaxing holiday, a great meal, a good few drinks, a balmy evening, and any difficult inhibitions disappeared into the night sky. And, well, one nightcap led to another, which led to the inevitable.
A surprising number of established novelists have warned of the dangers of attempting erotic descriptions of fictional bedroom activity.
In an interview, Kingsley Amis even confided to the world that ‘I shy away from explicit sex mainly because it’s socially embarrassing.’ But, apart from one perhaps, Amis only wrote crap novels, so there’s not much point in taking his ideas into account.
Therefore, although this is neither fiction nor a novel, it is probably important to state that when the four of them were naked and in bed together, other than the fact that, due to their close proximity during sexual intercourse, they all brushed up against each other from time to time, nothing that took place could remotely be described as unconventional, untoward, or, shall we say, kinky. Unusual maybe, because, in their hotel anyway, they were the only couples in bed together that night.
OK, OK, perhaps there was some kind of heightened stimulation from a degree of unavoidable, and possibly unintentional, body contact. But as far as can be ascertained, Brenda did not do anything to Penny, and, Brian did not (horror of horrors) deliberately touch Harry. And, with the lights on, making it a somewhat brighter location than is traditional, apart from the obvious element of voyeurism, maybe there was some kind of gratification to be obtained from the potential to study each other’s bodies engaging in the sex act. A mild kind of narcissism, perhaps, but kinky no, because, in essence, their actual sexual activity can only be regarded as conventional. Simple wife swapping is probably the best way for a third person narrator to describe what happened, because that’s as far as it went. If, of course, wife swapping can ever simply be described as simple.
Anyway, back to the storyline. Harry and Penny finally crept out of bed and went back to their own room not long before dawn. Brenda stirred and Penny said, ‘Good morning.’ She paused and then added. ‘And good night, I suppose. I thought so, anyway. It was a good night is what I mean.’ Harry smiled. Brian slept on without stirring.
When they met on the beach late in the afternoon, there were no pregnant pauses and there appeared to be no embarrassment. It was just another day in a Mediterranean paradise where nothing disturbed the harmony. And the previous night was not mentioned. Not that day anyway.
Over the next few days, the holiday slid by and they occupied themselves with all kinds of tourist things. Short walks, warm sea, snacks, coffees, souvenirs, a few drinks at lunchtime. Attending to their tans in the mild afternoon sunshine and the odd cocktail at sunset, followed by a light supper and more wine. All very healthy, relaxing, stress-free holiday stuff.
Then, towards the end of the last week, Harry finally broke the ice with a rather forced joke. ‘That fitch chew we had the other night was rather good, didn’t you think? And I really enjoyed the afters.’
They all laughed. ‘Worth trying again, I’d say,’ he added.
He went on, ‘I think we should add another evening of decadence to all this sunshine and good food.’ They all knew what was coming. ‘Let’s try that fitch chew again. Tomorrow. After all, it’s our last night.’
There was a long pause as the suggestion sunk in. Then Brenda said, ‘Why wait until tomorrow? What’s wrong with tonight?’
Brian looked at her in amazement. ‘Brenda! All these years together, and you’re coming out with a hidden dimension.’ They all laughed, and the tension that had been bubbling along just below the surface was broken forever.
Once again, the dinner on the docks was a resounding success. And what happened afterwards was too. So much so that they repeated the exercise on their last night too, in order to make it, as Penny said, ‘A memorable finale to a revealingly wonderful holiday.’
So that’s how ‘fitch chew’ became code for fairly regular dinners together when they got back home. And always followed by … well, you know what.
And there was, apparently, an interesting side effect.
When he was thinking about the holiday, Harry had to admit to himself that there was something else about their newfound relationship. Another element. And he was surprised to find that they had all experienced this extra dimension.
‘There’s no doubt it did something for us,’
he said to Penny one night. ‘Let’s be frank darling, we were on the wane to a certain degree, weren’t we? I mean, we weren’t as active as we were in our first few years, were we? Until we went to Greece, that is. With Brian and Brenda. That was a shot in the arm, wasn’t it?’
And playing a round of golf with Harry one day, he managed to slip into the conversation that since they’d come back from Greece, he couldn’t keep Penny out of his pants.
Brian laughed. ‘Same here,’ he admitted. ‘We’ve been at it a bit too, since we got back.’
There was a long silence. They looked at each other. Both wanted to say something. But how to put it? Then Brian said, ‘Do you think we should try fitch chew again sometime.’
Harry thought for a moment. ‘I don’t see why not.’ There was another pause. ‘Because, although it surprised me a bit at the time, I was really pleased to see that Penny seemed to enjoy what was on the menu as much as I did. Funny, before Greece, I would have sworn that this kind of thing appealed strictly to males.’
So your narrator is obliged to report that fitch chew became a fortnightly, and sometimes weekly, code for regular trysts that lasted for over a year. Well over a year in fact.
But, as is the way of the world, everything has a beginning and an end.
Over cornflakes one morning, following a longer than usual period when they had not seen each other, Harry suggested that Penny phone their friends to make a date for their next assignation. ‘Ask them to make it Saturday night so we’ve got plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. We could even try it all over again on Sunday morning.’ He smiled. ‘If we’ve got the stamina, that is.’
But the phone call to the Fyfes drew a disconcerting response. Penny couldn’t get hold of her at the office. In what she thought was a rather mysterious tone, the receptionist said that Brenda was not in.
‘She rang in sick, did she?’ did not provide any further information. Penny tried their home number. No reply. She tried again, and again. And then again several times that afternoon. At last, around five, Brenda answered her mobile.
‘Oh hello,’ she said, ’I’ve changed jobs. And I’ve been meaning to phone you. Sorry, I just didn’t get around to it. I’ve had quite a bit on my mind the last few days.’
Penny felt the tension.
‘You see, Brian and I have split up. Supposed to be temporary, but I can’t see us getting together again. Went to work one day, a few days ago, and, apart from a short text message, that’s the last I’ve seen of him. He packed a few things when I was out, and off he went. You know, here today, gone tomorrow. Don’t know where he is to tell you the truth.’
Then after a long pause, ‘To be honest though, I think we’d done our dash. We were beginning to get on each other’s nerves. So I’ve moved in with my parents for a while until things settle down. And it’s not very convenient at all. Damned difficult in fact.’
‘I was flabbergasted,’ Penny told Harry. ‘It was as if she was expecting it. Or even that they had planned to end their relationship.’
‘She didn’t seem that concerned either, I must say. So, I can’t say I really understand what’s going on.’
When Harry tried to contact Brian, he also drew a blank. Brian seemed to have changed his number as well as his address.
‘Let’s leave it a while,’ Harry said to Penny. ‘Let’s just wait and see what happens. That’s all we can do, I suppose.’
Without wanting to sound cynical, the narrator must point out here that Harry was a pragmatist. Some would say an opportunist. He certainly saw an opportunity in this new development. And this is what happened.
A few weeks later, once Harry had had time to ‘think outside the square’, so to speak, and without saying anything to Penny, he phoned Brenda himself. After all the sorrys about your bad news and so on, he suggested she come around for a meal on her own.
‘Pretty audacious, don’t you think,’ said Penny when Harry said she was coming to dinner.
‘You don’t mind do you? Could be quite interesting. Can we make it fish stew?’
Unfortunately the ménage a trios didn’t really work out. They met and spent the night together a few times, but it was never really successful. Their meetings never clicked. Certainly not for Harry, who found it quite hard, no pun intended. He felt he had to be careful about allocating the amount of time he did what to whom. He was at an age where orgasms were becoming more and more difficult to control, and, even with the help of the pharmaceutical industry, multiple orgasms were very, stressful is probably the most appropriate word, to produce. So the relationship waned and then quickly petered out.
‘Funny that,’ thought Harry, ‘I never thought I’d think it, but it was certainly much more fun when we were four.’
But just when Harry had started to spend more time reminiscing about past events than planning new ones, Penny came in from work and said, ‘A little bird told me Brenda’s got a new partner.’ That was all. The conversation went no further. But it stayed on Harry’s mind. And without saying anything to Penny, he gave Brenda a call a few weeks later.
‘No, I don’t think so,’ she told him. ‘Look, it was great fun while it lasted, our previous relationship I mean, but Rory’s not like that. He doesn’t like fish, and I know he’d hate fish stew.’
Harry changed the subject. He asked about Brian. He hoped she’d think that was the real reason for the call.
‘I don’t think it’s a case of “no news is good news”,’ she told Harry. ‘Quite the contrary. I think it’s bad news, I’m afraid. I very rarely hear from him. Or about him. I can’t see us getting together again. You see, I phoned him a few times, just for old time sake. He told me he’s got a new job. Quite a good one, apparently. And a new partner. To be honest, I think they started seeing each other when we were still together. But I’m not sure. He says he likes his job and he’s keeping fit. He plays a lot of golf apparently and he’s even thinking about joining the local cricket club. He told me he’s very happy with his new life.’
But there was one thing she never mentioned to Harry. The letter. Brian had said he’d send her some photographs.
Brenda opened the envelope and took out three glossy prints. They all showed Brian locked in embrace with his new partner – a blond and very handsome young man.
Finally the narrator would like to push in here again to end with the observation that, from all accounts, Harry is entirely happy with the beautiful male he has chosen to share the rest of his life with.
If you would like to read chapters from my novel
THE KILLING OF FAT BOY KOEN,
please go to: (but please read the warning first)