A FAMILY ROOM
Origination date: 28th November 2005
This is the seventeenth of twenty two episodes in Willie's life in the motor trade. At this point in time he's about thirty and has progressed about as far as he can within the organisation. He runs a Mercedes dealership His unhappy marriage is over, his loins still permanently agitated, his sense of humour ever present and only matched by the adventurous style of business he pursues...
Now read on
Sometimes buying trips were fun, occasionally less so, every once in a while they would go disastrously wrong, and once in a blue moon just such a trip would be turned around by circumstances beyond the ken of mankind and, sphinx-like emerge from the dust of wreckage as something out of this world. It was an unpredictable process depending on the artifice and avarice of mankind the reading of an inflexion in a syllable or the knowledge of body language that revealed something amiss and a potential truth that might hide disaster. Willie Floggit, adept in reading all the signs of human weakness and failing, a master in understanding the deception of others and an able bull-shitter could read the signs like no other but this night was to test even his skills.
At the end of each November, England is at the mercy of the slightest flurry of snow, the merest hint of hard weather and the under-statement in each weather forecaster’s presentation of the ‘facts’. 1991 was no different in this respect but where it did vary from the norm was in the general sense of panic that inhabited the bars about the expected ‘hardest winter in living memory’ (is there another kind?); predictions that were boomed out at every opportunity and on every occasion such a person took to the air. Willie was good at coping with such fears and with the reality that might follow. Brought up on a farm, he understood the relationship between impetus and progress in relation to mud and to snow so much so that when it did occur he could get where all the other buyers could not, he could nick cars whilst they sat at home only able to sup their hot chocolate and tickle the cat.
Having braved the flight and, god it was miserable, having fought tooth and jaw with the seller for the best deal, nagged for the last fiver and come away like a gladiator in a Roman amphitheatre, victorious, un-bloodied and unbowed Ireland had fallen in his gaze and he’d plucked a couple of transporter loads of ‘gems’ from dealers all over the province. Landing in Stranraer at about 4.00PM Willie headed along the A75 in his heavy weight 500SLC, cruise control easing his toe, and made straight for his favourite Carlisle hotel, the Swan. The snow was thick and still falling, the car park an ice-rink and firming up, the hotel full but, booking reference carefully noted Willie checked in and was pleased to be there. After all, he knew that this particular hotel boasted an unused basement room with an eight foot concert Steinway that, after a bottle of Chateau Lafitte which they still sold at stupidly low prices- Willie could play quite well. A grin on his face he turned to face the lift and, there, miserable, wet and bedraggled stood a pretty little perky pair of breasts proudly popping out above a slim, trim figure of a jean-clad twenty-something possibly thirty. ‘Time to pause’ Willie thought.
He hung around, but the queue was inordinately long and filled with fat men trying, unsuccessfully to get a room, shelter from the snow. The bar was open so he headed there and ordered a triple Grouse, added some water, downed it and headed back. Superb timing is part of a car-buyers’ stock in trade and he was on top form.
“I’m terribly sorry madam” said the receptionist “We are full to bursting.”
“No room at the Inn?” She replied with an Irish smile.
“Excuse me.” Willie interjected “I may be able to help.”
“Sir?” Said the obsequious little jerk in the penguin suit.
“I’ve paid for a family room I believe.” The low-life creep consulted his records. “Mr?’ he queried.
“You have indeed sir” he replied after a pretend look. “But sir has only paid for single occupancy.”
“And what will it cost if I decide to use the little divan bed that’ll be propped up in the corner?”
“An extra twenty five pounds.”
“There are sheets to consider.”
“Never mind that we’ll spend twice as much in the restaurant, the bar; all over the bloody place.”
“It’s an extra twenty five pounds sir.” It had a ‘take-it-or-leave-it quality.
Willie turned to the young woman “Up to you.” He said looking focussing on her eyes.
“I couldn’t possibly, I don’t even know you.”
“Willie Floggit.” He said extending his hand.
“Helen O’Rourke.” She said taking it and shaking enthusiastically. “I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but I just couldn’t possibly impose. Besides, why me, why not all the other people who’ve been turned away?”
“Well that’s not hard to explain.” Willie eyed the queue behind her.
“It’s because I’m a woman?”
“Look, I don’t think it’s a good idea…” She looked at the receptionist as though asking for help.
“I would only say that Mr Floggit is a regular visitor here and, other than some question marks over his skills at the pianoforte we have had no complaints.”
“Okay” she thought “there’s just one thing”
“The classic ‘rape accusation’?”
Willie looked aghast.
“Right, the classic” he repeated slowly “rape accusation?”
“Yes; a night alone and tomorrow the phone-call to the police with the oh-so-familiar accusation.”
“It’s terribly kind of you to think of my interests in such a way but I’m sure that such a thing would never…” Her shaking head interrupted his speech as he realised he had got the wrong end of the stick.
“Not you” she said “me.”
“Sorry?” Willie queried.
“It’s not me running to the police about you that concerns me.”
“It’s you accusing me.”
“But how could you? Well…” he opened his hands and indicated the difference in their size “rape me? I’m twice your size and I would need to be, at least in some way complicit” he indicated his nethers.
“It doesn’t matter. If the accusation is made, that’s enough, enough to end my career and make things very awkward.”
He looked down “Well I don’t know what to say.”
The chaps in the queue behind them were becoming agitated. One or two were shifting their weight from foot to foot in a very un-English manner.
“I’d need” she said in a loud voice “a consent form, signed and witnessed.”
“Yes, a form signed and witnessed with you consenting to sexual relations taking place between us, full-on sexual relations for as long and as often as I wish for the remainder of our time together.”
The queue became less fidgety.
Willie nodded to the man behind them “Would you like to move forward we may be a little while.”
“No that’s quite alright” he replied “take as long as you like.”
“Right” said Willie returning his gaze to Helen.
“Of course” Willie levelled “I’d be a fool to sign such a thing” he looked back at the queue “without” he seemed to be considering his words very carefully “getting the same” he looked back at the man in the front of the queue “thing” the man nodded encouragingly “from you.”
“Oh quite” Helen said in a tone so devoid of feeling it made a judge sound like a pregnant mother “You’ll need exactly the same consent. We can do a mutual consent form if you like.”
Willie looked at the same man behind him in the queue.
“What do you think?”
“I’m a struck off lawyer, Brodak’s the name, Polish -my father’s…well you’d probably guessed that. I’ll draft it for you.”
Willie looked at the balding little man. “Very kind” then turned to Helen “what do you say?”
“Okay by me.”
The three headed to the bar. Three large whiskies were ordered, delivered and left untouched. “Better not” said Brodak “not till after you’ve signed force majeur and all that.” he pushed the drinks away from them “and I want this to be binding; -tighter than a hangman’s noose. What I’ll do is draft a ‘we the undersigned’ type of deal, I’ll give it the usual legal clauses but I feel that I have to add a ‘no-matter-what’ clause.”
“No-Matter-What clause?” Willie asked.
“Yes. It’s a piece popped in to cover all eventualities. If one of you becomes say, ill, er mentally ill, it could be construed that consent had been withdrawn by fact of the illness well this clause will negate the illness and make it sub-dominant to the permission granted herein and, this is the best bit, no matter what the illness is.”
“Right. How long will it take?”
“What, the sex?”
“No, the document.”
“Couple of minutes.” Brodak was scribbling, half moon spectacles perched on the end of his nose, grey curly hair framing his shining slightly sweaty head. “Tighter than a mouse’s bottom” he muttered then added “than a snakes’ second skin” then looked up at Willie “than Frankensteins’ neck bolt” then at Helen “than ink to the page”. He returned to his scribbling “No wiggle room here.” He said adding the last full stop with a flourish.
“Done.” He said “Now we just need witnesses.”
“Excuse me.” Brodak called at the bar “I need two witnesses to this document.”
Everyone consulted the bottoms of their glasses and found the drinking implements more useful now that they needed an excuse to not get involved.
“It’s a deed granting permission” he called out to the bar “for each of these people to have full-on, continuous and limitless sex with each other for as long as they are together and regardless of the nature of that contact and the sexual demands made.”
An orderly queue formed quickly behind Brodak’s shoulder.
“You happy about this?” Willie enquired of Helen “I’ll sleep in the car if you’re not, you can have the room.”
“I’m happy.” She replied moving forward, pen in hand, then stopped and looked over her shoulder “what about you?”
Willie took in her tightly encased form; slowly , up and then even more slowly down down.
“I’ll cope. I’ll cope.”
She signed, he signed, Brodak signed, the first witness signed.
“If it gets too tough.” He said to Willie “I’m in room 334.”
“And if he’s indisposed” said the second witness to Helen “I’m in room 449.”
Willie ordered a couple of extra whiskies for their witnesses and they toasted their document, photocopies of which were provided by the reception staff and duly distributed among the participants.
A writer with some sense of decorum would, at this point, draw a discrete veil of what occurred thereafter but I am not such a delicate flower and, as the events will show, nothing went quite as planned. Willie and Helen duly made their way to the room, unpacked their bags and somewhat shyly showered separately with due modesty and tact. Unspoken lines of privacy were drawn and respected and each was slightly wary of making the first move after all the document said very clearly ‘on-demand’ and who would be the first to so demand lay like a shadow between them, a dividing line that neither seemed to want to cross. Willie piped up first.
“Shall we share the bed or would you rather I used the put-you-up over there?” She was leaning across the bed turning down the covers and looked up with quizzical eyes.
“We should share.”
“Right, yes, of course.” He paused “Which side of the bed would you prefer?”
“This side’s fine.”
“Great.” Again a silence that in Willie’s mind lasted longer than the last ice-age. “Um,” he began “I know we’ve signed the contract and everything and that’s great, jolly good fun and well, you see, it’s the demand bit that troubles me. You see if I demand then it’s not consensual, it’s well, me demanding and, you see there’s nothing mutual about it. Our, well, intimacy would be being driven by my demand and that feels like, well, like, a bit like - rape.” The word hung as a rain cloud might on an English bank holiday, menacing, inevitable and there.
“Oh dear. Well it doesn’t trouble me and I think we should forget all about it until after we’ve had something to eat and a bottle of wine. Wee who’s demanding what then.”
“Yes. That sounds like a good plan. In fact there’s a very good restaurant further along English street and down a little alley way I’ve used before.” She walked around the bed and they stood a little way away from each other but then and in a decisive move she stepped into his personal space and looked up into his eyes.
“If it’s got your seal of approval then I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” He could almost taste the sweetness of her breath and the musk of her perfume filled him with more than a little desire.
Suppers between strangers consist mainly of small talk and very little that’s relevant just the ‘what do you do?’, ‘are you married, any children, where did you go to school?’, the usual boring questions and this evening was no different so to dwell on them and the requisite answers would be to make you, dear reader, wish to forget your next appointment with the cardiology department for fear it might prolong things so I’ll race on to the next point of relevance the journey back to the hotel.
Citadel Row is a small alleyway that lies between English street and the imaginatively named ‘A7’ and it on this corner that they found themselves leaving a very nice French restaurant having partaken of most that Dionysus had to offer and feeling very content. Arm in arm the set off back down the alley only to be confronted by four youths. They were dressed in scruffs and were menacing.
“Money. Give us it.”
“Now listen here old chap…” Willie began as he moved himself between Helen and the group of ne’er do wells “I’m giving you or your slimy chums a single solitary sixpence and buzz off home and ask your parents for some pocket money. Helen cringed. Willie; six feet four inches tall, heavily built, ex second row 1st fifteen was no shrinking violet. Indeed, at school he was master of the boxing ring and was generally considered to be ‘Mr Lucky punch’ as it usually only took one to dispatch his opponent into slumberland. However, on this particular occasion luck was looking the other way as whilst engaging the protagonist and acquitting himself quite well another of the reprobates broke ranks and clobbered him from behind with a baseball bat. Willie went down and the kicking ensued. Once rendered unconscious they turned their now, blood up and testosterone fuelled attention to Helen. Unwisely she had chosen not to run but had stayed quietly watching.
“Who’s first?” She said “It’s okay you can all come at once if you like.” Willie was groaning on the ground, slowly regaining his faculties. He was, in fact just about to get up when, and in a whirl of high kicks, loud shrieks, karate chops and slapping the general bruising of flesh, cries of pain and awful snap of bones he saw Helen reduce them all to a pile of apologetic, snivelling, pleading, moaning, groaning scruffy little ‘erberts that hey actually were. Willie rose, creaking and aching in every pore.
“That’ll teach you.” He muttered.
“Are you okay?”
“I think so. Nothing broken; just feel like I’ve been run over by a motor home.”
“Here, let me help.” He leaned on her and they made their way slowly back to the hotel.
Once again I have to plead with you, dear reader to forgive me including a late night bedroom scene but it is so relevant that I dare not leave it out but promise to spare you any form of gynaecological details or other reference to ‘ships entering a harbour’, or ‘scaffold poles’, ‘weapons’, or adjectives that describe pounding or plundering, bouncing or ravaging. I shall even leave out the’ slow reveal’ that must surely have taken place, you know the sort of thing, “her flesh gradually revealed to his excited eyes for him to drink of her emerging pale beauty and immaculately formed pillowed moons of breasts topped with roseb…” Since such things would never stand the test of a family discussion over the breakfast table they shall remain absent from my account - except where absolutely necessary.
They lay, side by side, staring at the ceiling. His bruises now taking on quite an ominous appearance and the aching unrelieved by the bath she had run for him.
“Would you like some tea?” He lay quietly soaking in the recovery that stillness can afford the injured.
“I’d love some.” She got up and put the kettle on, moving over and sitting next to him on the bed. She took his hand and rubbed it in a very warm and affectionate manner.
“Does it hurt terribly?”
“I am on first name terms with every bruise.”
“Oh, I should have stepped in earlier. You looked so confident. Which is the worst?” She rose and filled the pot with water and teabags then brought it and cups to the bedside table. He pointed in the general direction between his legs.
“It was where that little bastard kicked about four bloody times.”
“When you were a child and you hurt yourself…”
“What did your mother do?”
“She’d kiss it better.” She held up the teapot.
“Shall I be mother?”
The night held no more surprises and I shall say no more of their antics suffice it to say that contractual obligations were fulfilled and both demanded around the same moment so consent was not only in writing. The ship came home, the weapon was fired, scaffold erected and so on.
Breakfast was a leisurely affair if somewhat interrupted by laughs and jeers at Willie’s blackened eye and bruised nose. ‘Cut up a bit rough did she?’ was a typical comment along with ‘serves you right for being so bloody lucky’ and ‘how does the other fella’ look?’. Willie ignored them all and he and Helen made their farewells a half hour later in the car park. He getting into his gleaming Mercedes and her into a bright yellow BMW convertible. She went first and Willie looked after her tracks in the freshly melting snow as she headed off.
‘That was fun’ Willie mused as he caught sight of himself in the rear view mirror. “Worth every dollop of pain.” He said aloud as he pulled out of the town and onto the M6.
Motorways and Mercedes are like leeks and Stilton, or pork and Camembert, water and whisky, like Chopin and a piano; they just dovetail together so neatly as to render the road unnoticeable. Cruise control set for a leisurely 65MPH, the stereo blaring out Gordon Giltrap at full six-speaker volume and the miles eat themselves. He hadn’t been paying much attention to anything and none at all to what was behind him so the white Transit mini-bus with blackened windows and ‘school children crossing’ symbols liberally decorating its portals that was following a discrete distance behind was something that was one of those unknowns. So it was a slight ‘wake-up’ when he saw a yellow BMW convertible on the hard shoulder, it’s bonnet raised and a very familiar pair of legs and buttocks leaning over and staring within. Naturally Willie pulled over and then reversed back up to the car and got out. Simultaneously the white van stopped behind the pair of cars and, as Willie made his way over to Helen two men got out and approached also.
“What happened?” Willie asked her.
“No idea it just conked out.” One of the men sttod along side Willie, the other slightly behind.
“Can I do anything?” The forward one asked.
“No I don’t think so. Thanks anyway.”
“I’ve got a phone” Willie interjected “I could call a breakdown truck.”
“That would be great.”
And it was then that man behind Willie pulled a rag from his pocket and, in concert with the other guy pinned Willie’s arms behind his back then applied the rag to his face. Willie struggled but with the beating he’d taken the night before he was not his usual self and was quickly overcome by the chloroform drifting into state of nothingness. The pair hurriedly bundled him into the back of the transit from which two further men appeared. One, a remarkable likeness to Willie, got in to the SLC and drove away, the other into Helen’s car and did likewise whilst Helen gleefully rubbed her hands together and gave herself a metaphorical pat on the back before turning on her heel and walking to the Transit, climbing in and shutting the door.
In what can only be described as a leisurely fashion the van driver slowly edged along the hard shoulder gradually picking up speed till he could join the main carriageway as they headed quietly for London.