THE QUIET LIFE
He stands there, his knees trembling, his hand gripping onto the sink. He lets out soft moans, the occasional gasp. A vein begins to push out from his neck. His body tenses. His belt buckle rattles around his ankles and he looks up at the mirror to see himself – a thirty-two year old man, masturbating. He does it and barely hears his wife call him.
“Ben, come on! Let’s go!”
“I’m coming!” he shouts and closes his eyes, trying to picture something, anything that would make him come. Suddenly he lets out a frail moan and his semen dribbles into the sink. He stands there for a moment longer, throws his head back and sighs. He turns on the tap, zips up his trousers, fixes his belt and joins his wife.
It’s Isobel who makes him attend the charity parties for his own business. While she socialises she laughs and sips her wine, he goes to the bar, downs his scotch and talks to a few select people.
“How many do I need to catch up?” Benjamin says to Clive, his business partner.
“I’m on four,” Clive replies and finishes his glass. “Five.”
“Scotch,” Benjamin says. The barman disappears and Benjamin turns to Clive. “Who would think that eleven years after creating this company we’d still have to go to these shitty parties – thanks.” He takes the glass and downs it. “Another, please,” he says.
“That reminds me. You need to fire Anne.”
“Works on third floor. Incompetent. Needs to go.”
Benjamin rolls his eyes.
“Another, please,” he says again but this time, when he looks up, it is a female bartender. She is blonde and has blue eyes – typical, he thinks – then notices her crooked tooth and hooked nose.
“Same again?” she says and smiles.
She goes away.
He watches her. He sees how she bends over to get the bottle and pours it into the glass. He turns away and tries to focus on Clive who is too busy muttering about how much he hates the parties.
“There you go,” she says as she comes back. “Anything else?”
He merely looks at her.
He’s not sure how it happens but he’s unbuttoning her bra. It falls off and her tits are firm but one is bigger than the other. He barely notices. He’s too busy getting his prick ready. He kisses her but doesn’t mean it – it’s an act, meaningless. She makes noises – heavy, panted breaths. He feels her cunt between his fingers.
“Get it inside me,” she whispers as he does.
It happens fast and the cubicle bangs with noise. He smashes his head into her neck, bites on it, digs his fingers in her back and she moans with such pleasure that he finds it distasteful.
When it’s done he says nothing to her.
“That was the best fuck I’ve had,” she says as she puts her skirt back on.
He nods and cleans himself.
“…While I’m on the subject I’d like to say a few words…” Isobel’s voice echoes around the room as Benjamin comes back, buttoning his last button. He doesn’t look up, instead he goes straight to the bar. “…About my husband Mr Benjamin Gogh.”
He fights himself, doesn’t want to turn red.
“Benjamin is a wonderful businessman, wonderful friend and a magnificent husband. I don’t know where I’d be today without him.”
Isobel smiles. Applause again.
Benjamin looks her in the eye, does nothing but stare.
As he takes off his tie, he feels her pressing against his back. She kisses his neck and hugs into him. He loves the way she smells – lavender, with a hint of honey. He loves the way her hair drops, the way she allows it to fall down only when she’s in bed, with him.
“I love you,” she whispers.
He turns and looks her in the eye.
“I love you too,” he whispers back.
She kisses him. At first it’s a sweet, innocent kiss and then it changes – it is the kind of kiss he doesn’t want. Her hands close around his face as she slips her tongue into his mouth, breaking his lips. He tries to kiss her back, tries to want to kiss her back but he pulls away and looks down, his forehead touching hers.
“I have a lot of work to do,” he whispers. “And I’m really tired.”
She nods. “OK.”
He kisses her again. “I’m going to jump in the shower before I do some work.”
“OK,” she says again.
The water hisses down. His hand rests against the hot marble of the wall. His head hangs and droplets of water fall from his hair, rolling down his nose. At first, he merely stands there: his mouth slightly ajar, his eyes staring into nothing. But then his hand falls down between his legs and he starts massaging his prick. He does it until he comes and in the moment it is good, dirty, sexy. But when it’s over he stands there, in silence, and watches the semen slither down the wall.
Benjamin tries to forget the things he’s done but can’t. He recalls the dark haired-woman whose name he forgot, he remembers Cindy, the dumb sales assistant who liked it up the ass. He even recalls Justine, his wife’s friend years ago. He tries to control his mind with work, dusting his hands over the laptop, but it doesn’t help – checking his e-mails, searching the news, it’s all pointless because he keeps coming back to the one thing.
He watches. From milfs to gilfs and orgies to solos. He watches as eight men take turns fucking a woman. He goes to the next video and watches a naked, middle-aged lady – a milf – get rammed by her son’s friend. The next, a young, naive Asian girl is corrupted by an older man. A woman who fucks her husband’s best friend as the husband is in the next room. He begins to get hard as a step-sister fucks her step-brother. He wants to masturbate and is about to, his hand sliding down to his crotch, when Clive walks in.
“Hey buddy,” he says. “Showtime.”
Benjamin looks. “What?”
“To fire whats-her-face.”
“Oh. Right. Yeah.”
“She’s on her way up.”
Clive leaves. Benjamin looks from the door to his laptop and watches the girl’s legs get bent behind her head as a penis slips inside her asshole. He sighs.
“Yeah,” Benjamin says, minimizing the screen. “Sit down, please.”
Anne does. Benjamin organises himself and looks at her. She has brown hair that runs down to her breasts. She has split ends and her nails are too long. As he stares at her.
She shuffles in his seat. Her teeth are crooked and her left eye has some crusted dry skin hanging off it.
“Ms Kerfoot…” he says.
“Call me Anne.”
“Uh…Anne. It has come to my attention that you’ve had some problems with your work schedule and it’s affected your performance. I’m very sorry but we have to let you go.”
Her eyes widen. She stops her lip from trembling and fights back tears.
“I…I…” She looks up, catching his eye. “Give me another chance.”
“Ms. Kerfoot –”
“Please. I – I need this job. I’ll do anything.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. –”
She sits back in her seat. He wants her to leave.
“How long have you worked here, Mr Gogh?”
“We had the eleventh year anniversary last week. You should know that. That just goes to show how you haven’t been doing your job properly.”
“I suppose I’ve been bad.”
He glares at her.
“I’m usually bad.”
She plays with her hair.
“Once, I was so bad that my boyfriend spanked me and put a belt around my neck.” She sighs. “It was so hot.”
Benjamin’s expression doesn’t change.
“Do you and your boyfriend do this often?”
“Yeah, I’m very bad. The only thing that’s wrong with him is that his dick isn’t that big. I just want a huge dick to fuck me.”
Her clichéd porno-language hangs there.
He fidgets in his seat.
“You look like you’ve got a big cock, Mr Gogh.” She says and moves from her seat, comes closer. Her eyes up at him. “Want me to suck it?”
He sits in the office chair, shirtless, his hair ruffled. The air in the room is thick with sex, a humidity of sweat and cum. Anne walks around, gathering her clothes, actions creating sounds that irk him. He wants her to leave but he knows she’ll take her time.
It makes him sick and he turns away. He knows what she’s doing and what she will do. There’s no need for the pathos, he thinks.
“Perhaps you should return to your desk.”
She smiles and says, “Thank you, Mr Gogh.”
He’s eating Chinese food when he hears the door open, then close. Isobel walks into the kitchen.
“Hi,” she says.
He knows there’s something wrong.
“Hi,” he responds.
His guts start to have a melting feeling. He’s no longer hungry. He knows her, he is the only one who knows her, especially when something’s wrong. He can’t take the silence.
“Nothing,” she replies.
“I said nothing.”
She leaves the room. He stays in the kitchen for a moment, collecting his thoughts. He follows her into the bedroom where she’s beginning to get changed.
“Isobel, tell me what’s wrong.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Tell me. Isobel, I love you. I know you.” The words come like some sort of speech, he doesn’t know where from. “Tell me what’s wrong. We are partners. We support each other. Trust me.” He looks her in the eye. “Be honest with me.”
He feels quite sick. He sees tears in her eyes.
“I…” Tears again, she can’t seem to form words.
He goes near and holds her shoulders, then touches her face. Tears down her cheeks. She brushes away his hands. Silence.
He knows he loves her. In this moment he knows it more than ever.
“I…” She gulps. “I have something to tell you.”
“OK,” he says.
She stops crying and looks at him. “I cheated on you.”
He doesn’t know what to feel, doesn’t know what he’d expected to feel. He stands there. He sees the overwhelming guilt. He watches as her lips quiver and her eyes move over him, desperate for a reaction, seeking forgiveness. He knows she’s worried. Knows that she feels like a horrific person.
Silence is all that is between them. Always silence.
He opens his mouth and talks.