‘It’s in here,’ he said, as he unlocked the door of the old, dilapidated wooden shed. ‘My dad lets me use this as a garage.’ The shed was sited on the edge of the golf course that his father’s family owned. ‘I’ve never been on a motorbike before,’ said Maureen as they gazed on the chrome and black leather masterpiece that was Henry’s new acquisition, now that he was old enough to hold a full license.
Chloe was thinking about what her sex life would look like on paper, if she were to die tomorrow.
One reason I get to this Santa Monica Beach Club early is Marcus. He is a bit of Gilbert Roland and Roman Navarro, with spiky hair, amber eyes and deep caramel skin. He has a frisky dancer’s body like Russ Tamblyn. You are too young for this story if you don’t remember who he is.
As Madison sauntered through the crowd, it parted. She wanted it to. The light gave the place a dreamy atmosphere, as if the bar was not only a hundred square feet crammed between the grey buildings, but a whole universe separated from the road by the bass of the music.
Ruth lifted the shoe box from the top of the wardrobe, steadied herself on the back of chair, stepped down and put the box on the bed. She made the journey less often now. Joe had bought the shoes for her 19th birthday. She took them out and ran her fingers over the powder blue leather. Joe was the real gift, with a mouth as ripe as a plum….
'So you're a private detective?' she said. A woman alone at the bar with a garish cocktail in her hand was either a lush looking for company or a tart looking for trade. This one was, in fact, a fine intelligent woman at play who had intuited my sexual allure from my posture on a stool and my profession from the way I fingered my glass. 'I am.' 'Well, I might have a job for you.'
Awkward, like teenagers, we spoke it out loud. We said, in words, what we both knew, both hoped, both feared might be true. We blushed (“And so we should,” you said) and I covered my cheeks with my hands, abashed. We stumbled over words, sort of stuttered, and tried out different ways to say it. I don’t know which one of us spoke first, or how many times we each started a sentence and then abandoned it when it began to sound corny or clichéd. Like teenagers, finding our ground, unsure of ourselves and each other. We were scared of saying it wrong, of saying too much, and flinching from the possibilities of rejection and humiliation. Both of us old enough to be out of practice, both comfortably wrapped in long marriages. Both still comfortably, happily married.
It was the Dutch psychologist Lotte van der Berg who first coined the term 'coital signifier' to mark that moment in a conversation when the emphasis dramatically alters. Professor van der Berg, actually a friend of mine, was trained as a moral philosopher but moved into its sister disciplines after she was asked to do some research into so-called 'internet chat', those sad discussions in cyberspace which almost guarantee that the participants will never meet. In an area where words have to tell all, therefore, and the conversationalists only ever appear as vignette portrait photographs or the more sinister anonymous grey heads, all meaning has to be sought in tone, temper, usage, style, and solecism – in a word, language.
It was two years since they had ended. She’d had a fling with a man at the gym and although Michael had never known, it had changed things between them. She’d allowed herself to grow distant; puzzled, he’d drawn away in response, and they’d parted at the turning of the year. Michael had been polite and civilised about it, as she would have expected. A neat row of boxes. Money left for bills. A quiet shedding of the five years they’d spent as a couple with no recriminations or noise. The affair had petered out not long after Michael had gone, and two years on, she was lonely. When she heard through friends that Michael was still single, she began to wonder whether she could win him back. They had so much in common, after all. Similar tastes in books and films, a love for travel. And, of course, fine food. Food. It had been their pornography…
If a man’s wife betray his trust, he may yet find comfort in the Society of his friends. What then must a man do if not only deprived of the love, harmony, and companionship of the woman who had sworn to cleave to him forsaking all others, if her fall takes place at the hands – (not to mention other Parts) – of his lifelong Friend, the man who stood at his shoulder even at the Hymeneal altar? Such however is the sad case of Lord Clonallon and his Lady, who after some ten years of domestic felicity, have had all bliss destroyed by her seduction by Viscount Ballybryan. We will not try the patience of the reader with the usual lawyer’s cant and jargon attendant on these occasions, but will endeavour to put before him the Facts of the Case – namely the most incontrovertible evidence of the guilt of the adulterers. Charged with criminal conversation with Lady Clonallon, the Defendant made the usual plea, namely, not guilty, rendering it incumbent on the accusing party to prove the affirmative.