Short story by Michael Botur
Bill admires the columns and bricks and ivy of the campus, nods and smiles at all the students cycling idly along the footpath, turns down Winchester and Ellis Streets and pulls into the driveway of his son’s campus flat. He switches off the engine, balances a box of beer and a stack of pizzas on his ball-belly as he waddles over to the porch. The beer is cool against his skin. Lord, this summer is a scorcher. He can’t see Corky amongst the dozen or so half-naked slackers on the porch of Corky’s flat. These youngsters are all sorts of creeds and breeds and castes, colourful as a packet of M&Ms. There appear to be six boys. In each boy’s lap is a girl in an extremely skimpy singlet. Each boy has a smoke and a drink in his right hand and a cupped buttock in his left. All the girls are sucking something – vaporisers, cans of rum and coke, chins, necks, cigarettes. A student-boy emerges who looks like a smaller, slimmer Bill. Same round, flat nose and wide, soft eyes, and those ginger curls. Since starting uni he’s added diamonds and gold in his ears. His cap is turned sideways. Bill wants to correct it for him. It’s Corky alright. He shakes a girl off him, approaches his dad, glancing nervously behind him, distracted. ‘Just dump the munchies and run, if you want, chief.’
‘For you and your friends. I got you light beer – just thinking of you driving, later.’
‘Facepalm,’ Corky mutters without touching his face. Corky is muscular now, voice thick and heavy as a plank, with puffy ginger biceps from endless dumbbell curls. He’s sweating in the funky hot air. He tries to block his dad’s view of the girls on the porch. ‘Anyway: good to see you. Laters.’
Corky holds his hand in some strange ethnic handshake arrangement but Bill isn’t sure how to shake it.
‘Just sorta thought Corky and his old man could, you know, “hang ten,” as you lot say. If you’re not busy. How are your lectures going?’
‘WING THAT SHIT OVER HERE, NIGGA,’ calls one of Corky’s friends. ‘I been fuckin for daaaays! My ass is STAAAARVED, yo!’
‘SHUT THE FUCK UP.’ Corky studies the pizza and beer. ‘I am actually pretty busy. And can you, like, not call me that name in fronta the boys, dad? Corey’s the handle. MC Hard Core when I’m on the mike.’ Corky, or Corey, or whatever the heck Bill is supposed to call his son issues a Bro Handshake which involves a brief hug of the chests. Bill realises Corky has taken the beer and boxes and is trying to walk back to his friends. Bill is just a delivery person.
‘Whoa-OA! Whoa-ho-ho-HO, lookie lookie LOOKIE!’ Corey has pulled his cellphone out of his shorts and is impressed by something on the screen. He holds his phone up to the sun, waving it around for all his friends to admire. ‘SuWOOOP!’
Corey puts his pizza and beer on the ground in such a hurry the pizzas slide apart and a beer rolls onto the gravel and starts fizzing. Corey vaults the wooden railing of the steps, lifts a girl over his shoulder and barges through the front door, disappearing up the stairs while the girl shrieks and laughs.
Two boys come over and apologise and re-stack the pizza, opening the top box and offering dripping yellow triangles around. ‘Sorry bout Core, mister. It’s just the game, yo – shit’s epic-addictive.’
Bill shields his eyes with his hand and tries to glimpse through the window what his son is doing with that girl. ‘What game would that be?’
‘You kidding me? Truth or DAAARE, nigga. We ain’t played nothin else for DAYYYYssss, son!’
Bill turns to leave. ‘Well, I’d love to play with Corky sometime. Perhaps you could pass that on from me.’
‘What, play Truth, Dare or Promise?! With your SON?!’ This makes the young men guffaw harder than ever.
Bill takes out his phone. ‘He’s not changed numbers, perchance?’
‘Whuh? Naw. You need to keep the same number so the game can send you updates. Get some aaaaass in claaaaaass.’
A girl in an orange bikini top squeezes Bill’s arm with concern. ‘He’s probably just too busy with the game to message you back, sweetie. You should try it out yourself.’ She winks and blows him a mocking kiss. ‘Could spice things up. It gets people fuck-aaaaang!’
‘Later, pops,’ someone calls from a window upstairs. Possibly his son, he isn’t sure.
It’s 11 at night and because the day’s heat won’t sod off, neither Bill nor his wife can sleep. Frances is in bed with a sheet over her, reading Cross Stitch and hooting with laughter, occasionally, when she encounters a ludicrous sex scene. Bill listens to his wife searching for titillation. He drums the arms of his sticky leather chair. He would be in the bedroom making love to Frances, but he’s lost the confidence. Frances can give herself a rub-and-tickle if she must. Work is more important, anyway.
Bill cannot believe he managed to send out 89 quotes tonight while sweat pooled in the cleft of his spine. It’s so hot that the chocolate truffles Bill and Frances left on the kitchen island melted into a small brown lake. They were $30 Fair Trade chocolates. Half of the $30 was supposed to help natives in Borneo. Frances reprimanded Bill for poor chocolate-monitoring and stormed off to read her book alone, holding up her chin, disgusted. Bill retired to his study to show the world that while he was a failure at chocolate, he could draft 89 quotes and expect extremely high rates of sales conversion. A manly feat. Buildings can’t be built without sound materials estimates, after all. Bill assures himself he’s essential in the world of heavy construction, assures himself he’s one of the lads, although he blushes when the boys, squatting in the shade of the cabin talk about how much pussy they crushed on the weekend then say, ‘Sorry, Billy’ and he waves away their apologies.
Bill peels his skin off the chair, switches his monitor off and sucks up the courage to seduce his wife. His legs and back creak as he waddles over to his wife and stands beside her bed, clearing his throat til she’s ready to talk about this so-called Truth Dare or Promise app they’ve downloaded on Frances’s iPad. He asked Frances to dabble with it because, well, Frances is the risk-taker. Frances of the short, bold haircut with silver frosted tips. Frances with the tiny, radical tattoo on her ankle.
Bill recently saw a rave review of what everyone’s calling Truth Or Dare on the late night news when Frances’s snoring consigned him to sleep on the couch, then Hiromichi from the Honolulu office absolutely swore on the company’s social page that Truth Or Dare was indispensable in a good relationship. Furthermore, of course, there was the endorsement from Corky and his tribe of carnal savages. As a matter of fact, Bill wonders if he’s the last man on earth without Truth Or Dare.
‘Book down, then,’ he tells her. ‘Let’s give it a whirl.’
He sits on the edge of the bed and observes as Frances interacts with the little animated white rabbit.
Truth, Dare or Promise? the app asks.
Frances selects Truth. Truth or Dare shows a brain with a thought cloud. Then the rabbit asks a shocking question in a gay pink font.
Tell me truly: who do you have a crush on?
‘I’m not answering that,’ Bill grumbles.
‘It wasn’t asking you, honey.’ Frances hits the SKIP button and the rabbit does a little skip. It comes up with another provocative Truth question, however.
Tell me truly: when did you last cheat on me?
‘FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.’ Bill reaches for the Lock button to shut down the godforsaken application. Frances swings the iPad out of Bill’s chubby, flailing grasp. She skips the question and another appears.
Truth: Who were you thinking about when you last masturbated?
‘There’s no way either of us are answering that,’ Bill says with a slit-eyed scowl.
‘Stoneleigh,’ Frances responds. A ticked loveheart appears on the screen.
‘Not Shelby Stoneleigh? You fancy our best man, do you?’
‘He’s okay,’ Frances shrugs.
‘Just a game,’ she says softly. A huge grin has split her face. She pats the bed. ‘You need to stop your huffing and puffing and come sit next to me. Come. Oi! William! If you’re going to be a sourpuss, I shall continue playing by myself and you can piss off back to your computer.’
Bill watches, aghast, as vulgar suggestion after vulgar suggestion appears on the screen, ludicrously cutesified by the charming rabbit. Frances keeps erupting with laughter and her book rolls off the bed and thuds on the carpet.
Finally, the app suggests the two fornicate in a church – SKIP – then the swimming pool at Corey and Lani’s old primary school – SKIP – and when the app comes up with Dare: make love in the middle of the road, Bill has had enough.
He gets off the bed, finds a duvet and prepares for a night on the couch.
‘Wait, love. Wait. Go ahead if you want. Stick it in.’
Bill pouts. ‘You could at least feign a dignified recalcitrance.’
Frances reaches beneath the covers, wriggles her legs, produces some panties and throws them at Bill’s face. ‘Quit your sobbing. We can do it on the sofa.’
The pair of 53 year olds stand back to back on their eight thousand dollar handmade Berber Moroccan wool rug and strip. Bill pulls his undies down and, when one leg of the underwear is off and one leg remains, loses his balance and stumbles into the wall, leaving a dent in the plaster. Bill has become fatter and heavier than at any stage in his life to date. He makes a mental note to resolve that. He stands with his pyjama top hanging down over his penis and sneaks a peak at Frances, who has taken her necklace and bangles off. She is planting one foot on the back of the couch, one on the rug, wriggling her shoulders til she’s perfectly positioned. She places both hands beneath her belly button, makes the shape of a vine leaf as she invites him in.
‘You’re not needing lubricant, I take it?’
‘You shall receive my report in due course.’ Bill begins to kneel on the leather couch, gets off it, worried about the consequences of breaking the couch, puts his weight on the floor instead, keeping his centre of gravity low, squatting as he prepares to board, trying to think of successful NASA takeoffs instead of disasters. She’s easy to enter but he’s not sure what his lower half is doing because he can’t see over the ball of his belly.
When the squishy, thumping sound coming from their waists slows, Bill and Frances try lying down instead, but just as Bill pushes back against the couch to get leverage, he hears what can only be the sickening YORP of the wooden arm of the $8000 couch cracking.
‘Oh, come now. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Here. There’s a suggestion on the pad. Come with me.’
She leads him to the door.
‘The middle? In the MIDDLE? Of the ROAD?! For crying out loud, one would have to– .’
Frances holds up a hand and Bill shuts up immediately. ‘For once in your life, William, let go of the reins.’
They open the front door together. Frances checks left. Bill steps right out and surveys the roof. He licks his lips, studying the orange slash running down the centre of the neighbour’s window. If the Sugumarans open the curtains, Bill and Frances’ reputation as respectable neighbours will be utterly destroyed.
Frances tugs him to the edge of the road with one hand, pressing a towel against her breasts with the other.
Before Bill can finish informing his wife what utter, utter madness this all is, Frances has spread the towel on the asphalt and eased her creaking bones onto the hard surface. She opens herself up, grabs his wrist urgently, and pull him into her.
Certain a truck is coming around the corner to flatten them within seconds, Bill pushes his penis into his wife’s vulva and lets go an involuntary ‘Ohhh!’ He’s forgotten how she feels like home, how it brings out a deep primal contentment within him. Frances’ vagina feels incredible – and he glides in and out so easily! Not a drop of lubricant! This could well be a tale for the boys at smoko.
Frances lassos his tongue and pulls his mouth into hers. Bill explodes inside her within seconds – it’s the sexy snaking tongue that does it – but they remain in the centre of the road, with Frances’s legs wrapped around his waist until a pair of yellow wolf eyes appear in the distance. A truck is really coming, but Frances won’t let him go until she has orgasmed, and she doesn’t orgasm until the truck is less than a hundred metres away and Bill has his fingers around the corners of the towel and is dragging his wife off the road like a sack of flour.
That’s the first 1000 words.
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