In Serein


“Hello?” a dark, older man's voice said, pronouncing the word with perfect diction.

Mrs Vanderhalen's throat went dry and her hands around the telephone receiver seemed very hot all of a sudden.

“Is that ... are you ...”

“The sex therapist,” the man filled in, the resonance of a smile in his voice. “Indeed, I am he. How can I help you?”

Mrs Vanderhalen put her hand to her head which had also become very hot all of a sudden. She took a deep breath, tried to think of what to say but the words just wouldn't come.

The crackling silence seemed to go on forever, then the voice said, low and gently, “I can see you tonight at eight o'clock for a short introductionary session. Just fifteen minutes. If you would like to make the appointment, give me your name.”

It was then that her throat unlocked and she heard herself say, “Vanderhalen. Mrs. Mrs Vanderhalen.”

“Very good,” said the voice, “That is very good. And your phone number, Mrs Vanderhalen?”

She gave him her phone number.

“I will see you at eight o'clock,” the voice said. The line went dead.

And Mrs Vanderhalen, standing in her immaculate make up, perfect hair, polished nails and high heeled shoes in her vast, clinically clean Italian marble and industrial stainless steel kitchen, noticed that her hands were shaking as she put her phone down and reached for the fourth glass of red wine of the morning.

 


Of course, it was the talk of the village. One day, there had been the long empty shop opposite the village green, between the undertakers and the local book shop which doubled as the tourist information office; the next, there were dark red velved curtains installed in the windows and a small gold framed black plate, embossed with golden letters, which read:

N. L. Bennette, Ph.D.
Sex Therapist
01823 763606

There was some confusion on when this transformation from the empty shop with the oldfashioned yellow sun stoppers through which the empty shelves of what had once been a haberdashery could still be seen, and the arrival of the red velvet curtains and the ominous sign; Mrs Brady from the post office insisted it had been in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, but others swore the new shop had already been there since the Monday.
This was peculiar, to say the least; such information was always so clear cut, everyone knew everything about each other's doings. Not to know who this N. L. Bennette, Ph.D was, or even when he had acquired the lease for the shop, was shocking to many.
And a sex therapist?
“In our village? That's just crazy,” had Brad Willis, the stout inkeeper of the one and only public house for 13 3/4 miles said to his regulars. “Who has ever heard of such a thing?” Jokes had been made and much bantering ensued, but there were more than a few who started to look at their friends, neighbours and spouses and wondered briefly, before dismissing the thought as just crazy, as Brad Willis had done.
At the Christian ladies rolling open gardens tea on Friday afternoon, Mrs Blakelock had said to the other ladies, “I think this is disgusting! Even the word, so openly displayed - who is thinking of the children? What if questions are asked? And ...” she dropped down her voice to a conspiratorial hush, causing all the ladies to lean forward, putting their permed heads together, “Did you notice there are three sixes in that telephone number?”
And whilst further enquiries were being made, the very idea of there being a sex therapist seemed to have woken up the village of Coylton, even before the first client would ever walk through the front door.


In The Palm Of The Hand

The shop at No. 23 Market Place had a back entrance via a lane which bordered the ancient wall of the church yard on the other side. The wall was overhung by old trees and shrubs, casting shadow and were quite the perfect cover for a person who might not want to be seen entering the front door of the sex therapist's office.
Mrs Vanderhalen had received a text message which said, “Back entrance, dark red door, No. 23. NLB,” at 6.15pm. She had been drinking throughout the day and thinking throughout the day; made up her mind at least a dozen times to ring up and cancel the appointment; had gone as far as dialling the number all the way to the end three times but each time had disconnected the call before it even rang.
When the text message came in, she was taking the second bath of the day and by this time had decided that even if she wasn't going (which she was sure she wasn't), it was still something to even think about going.
The truth was that Mrs Vanderhalen was lacking excitement in her life.
At 7.15 pm, she was dressed in a sensual red outfit which emphasized her large breasts and long legs; at 7.30, in a dark blue silk suit of oriental styling which buttoned right up to the neck. At 7.55, she finally left the house in a white high collared blouse, powder blue tailored skirt that went modestly to just above her knees, matching shoes and a pale blue sweater. She parked her silver Mercedes cabrio in the church car park, and walked to the lane, keeping well under the shade of the trees, looking around anxiously, her heart beating high.
The door on the other side of the lane was indeed, freshly painted in a dark red colour, and had the number 23 in bright gold brass upon it. Mrs Vanderhalen licked her lips which seemed to have become very dry, even though they were extensively coated in a number of overlaying lip sticks and gels, looked and listened with great care. The lane was entirely abandoned, both ways, and so she skipped acros the cobblestones in her high heels, flattened herself against the door, pushing down on the handle and pushing it inwards. The wooden door sprang open readily and Mrs Vanderhalen stumbled into a pretty garden courtyard.
It was not very large but there were many traditional English country garden flowers and bushes; honeysuckle growing up the old walls and a round fountain splashing a high arc of white water in the centre. The garden was paved with old slabs of stone and there were a number of old marble style benches placed near the fountain which gave different aspects of the garden. All was very tidy and all was very still, save the splashing of the fountain. Mrs Vanderhalen pushed the door to behind herself, and when she turned around, there was a man dressed in black standing by the fountain.
Mrs Vanderhalen clasped her blue rectangular leather purse with both hands before her as the man strode up to meet her.
He was tall, big; an older man with ice grey hair, cut very short and receding slightly at the front; he was immaculately shaven and looked more like a general than a therapist. His suit was likewise, immaculate and made to measure; it fitted him to perfection, as did the collarless black shirt he was wearing beneath it. His skin was fair and his eyes light and very bright.
He halted a short distance from the lady, bowed briefly and said, “Mrs Vanderhalen, I presume?” She found that she could only nod at that, and when he held out his hand to her, she had to fight to untangle hers from the purse she was clutching, then found that her hand was wet, sweaty.
He took her hand and squeezed it cautiously; she had the sense that he was very strong and found herself blushing.
“Would you like to come inside or shall we sit in the garden?” Bennette asked her. In person, his voice was like a touch that made her shiver inside. She moistened her lips again and said, “Inside, perhaps.” She sounded as scared and unsure as she felt. Bennette nodded, stepped aside and said, “This way, Mrs Vanderhalen.”
He guided her through a conservatory which contained nothing but a flagstone floor and a single sofa into a hallway, past a number of closed doors and then opened the last one. Mrs Vanderhalen realised that they were in the shop; the room she entered had the red curtains all the way on the left hand side; on the right, there was a large black leather suite comprising of an L shaped couch and a single large, square chair. Directly across from the door was a perfectly restored fire place with a huge antique gold framed mirror above it which appeared as a painting of herself and the man in black, standing behind her, as she hesitated on her way into the room.
Then her eyes fell on what might be described as a platform, covered in black fur fabric, not quite a bed, not quite a box, nor even quite a coffin but all of that and more suggested in the size and shape, which sat on the floor before the red waterfall of the curtains, ceiling to floor.
The floor itself was covered in a singular huge oriental carpet, that same dark red background bearing geometric designs in black. It was deep and soft; her heels were sinking into it, causing her to have to step back to keep her balance and colliding with the man who had moved close up behind her.
“Please,” he said and indicated the leather sofa, “Take a seat.”
There was no coffee table, no incidental tables. Her throat was very dry and she wondered if he would offer her a drink. The leather sofa was cold under her bare legs and as with the carpet, she sunk into it although she tried to sit up straight and keep her legs nicely to the side. She put her purse next to her and folded her hands in her lap.
Bennette sat down in the single leather arm chair. He folded his hands in his lap also and said nothing, looking at her with interest.
Mrs Vanderhalen cleared her throat and said, “Can I have a glass of water, please?”
Bennette smiled. “No,” he said. “This room is not for drinking water. Here, all we do is sex.”
Her mouth opened and she had to swallow repeatedly. She stared at him and all she could say was, “You won't give me any water?”
His smile intensified and he said, “No. But you did not come here for water. Tell me why you have come to me.”
He pronounced each word with care, giving it resonance and power, meaning; Mrs Vanderhalen had to swallow again as she tried to think of something to say, but all she heard was his voice echoing in her head, and it said, “Come to me, come for me, you have come to me to make me make you come for me ...”
“I am not sure,” she whispered eventually.
Bennette nodded and smiled. He unfolded his hands, relaxed back in the chair, arranged his hands on the wide square arm rests.
“Would you like it if I told you what I do for my clients? Give you a little more of an idea, so you can decide for yourself if you wish to enter into treatment with me?”
Mrs Vanderhalen nodded and swallowed again.
“I was trained in the Sikoria method, and this is what I practice. Are you familiar with this?” Bennette asked calmy and kindly.
Mrs Vanderhalen was starting to feel very hot again. She shook her head.
Bennette smiled and raised his chin a little. “The Sikoria method holds that you cannot cure sexual problems by talking about them. It is very hands on. It will involve you taking off your clothes, and we will both touch you in various ways as the treatments progress. All sessions are recorded, audio and video ...” Bennette pointed at the central ceiling light which was a rounded black glass dome in the middle surrounded by small spot lights, “And you will have to sign a number of documents for both our safety, to make sure it is clear you understand that sexual things will take place during the treatments and have consented to this. Further, we have to establish if you are currently under the care of any medical or psychological professionals. I am afraid I cannot treat you if you are taking prescription psychopharmaca.”
Mrs Vanderhalen was still staring up at the black glass dome and the lights on the ceiling. “You ... are ... recording ... us, right now?”
“Yes, of course,” Bennette said and steepled his hands before his face, lightly tapping the tips of his middle fingers together. “For your safety, and for mine.”
She put her hand to her throat and said, “I don't know if I can do this.”
Bennette smiled again. “I am a sex therapist. It is up to you if you feel you need my services.”
Mrs Vanderhalen said feebly, “How much does it cost?”
Bennette licked his lips briefly and said, “Twohundred and seventyfive pounds per session. A normal session lasts for about 45 minutes, give or take.”
“Fortyfive minutes,” she echoed him, truly at a loss for what to say.
“My dear lady,” said Bennette and sat up straighter. “Please look at me for a moment.”
She looked into his eyes, blushed, looked away, then looked back at him and this time managed to keep eye contact. The room's intimate lighting made his pale eyes easier to bear. She heard him say, “Sex is about happiness. It isn't the sex that makes you happy, but when you have had good sex, when you know how to have good sex, then the rest of your life falls into place.
“This is not a myth but a fact.
“It doesn't matter what you do or what you want. A flower arrangement created by a lady who has had good sex is going to be a great deal more beautiful than a one made by a lady who has not.
“Good sex makes you a more successful person. A better wife, a better mother; a better saleswoman, a better artist.
“And I have been trained to help people find their way to that. It really is quite simple, and very beneficial for a healthy mind, body and spirit.”
Mrs Vanderhalen said, “But isn't it ... cheating on my husband?”
Bennette smiled. “Absolutely not. I am a professional who provides much needed treatments. If I wanted to have an affair with you, you would have to cease to be my client. As you can imagine, there are strict rules in my profession over conduct.”
Mrs Vanderhalen nodded and swallowed again. Her fingers were now weaving nervously in her lap. “Could you, ahm, give me ... ah, perhaps more of an idea what kind of things ... ahm, ...”
The big man in black looked at her very calmly and said, “Would you like me to show you a beginner's exercise?”
She nodded before she had a chance to curtail that; then flushed and said, “Do I have to ... get undressed?”
Bennette did not immediately respond. Instead, he got up easily and fluently, moved across and sat beside her.
“Give me your hand,” he said, holding out his own, palm up, to her.
Mrs Vanderhalen hesitated for a moment, then placed her hand in hers. It looked small and fragile there, her long perfectly manicured pink fingernails and the large diamond, and her wedding ring sparkling in response to the starlights in the ceiling.
“Close your eyes,” Bennette said softly, and she complied immediately. She could feel him turning over her hand, so it was now resting in his, palm up.
“May I touch you?” he asked and she nodded, waited for something to happen, and when it did not, she swallowed and said, “Yes.”
A moment later, she felt a feather touch in the very centre of her palm and took a sharp breath in.
“Can you feel that?” his voice shocked her afresh, so close to her, so intimate.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Your whole body feels like that, wants to feel like that,” Bennette said very lovingly, and a fresh touch exploded in the palm of her hand, instantly radiating out and up into her arm, all the way into her neck. Her hand twitched and head went back; she took a shuddering breath.
“Open your eyes,” Bennette said and she opened her eyes directly into his gaze. “You are a beautiful creature, a perfect woman,” Bennette said softly. “You were made to feel, and made to feel good. I can teach you how to feel good. If that is what you want.”
Mrs Vanderhalen was nodding slightly and eventually, she said, “Yes. Yes, that is what I want.”
He smiled at her, lifted up her trembling hand and kissed her in the centre of the palm, without taking his eyes off her. Then he gave her back her hand and stood up.
“Very good,” he said, “That was excellent. Let me give you a homework exercise and then we can book our first proper session together.” He held out his hand to her and when she took it, he raised her easily and lightly into the standing position, holding her securely as she found her balance on the deep, soft carpet in her high heels. When she could stand by herself, Bennette dropped down on one knee before her. She looked down at his grey head in surprise, speechless and then gave a small cry as she felt his hands on either side of her calves. His touch was red hot, electric, and he stroked the backs of her bare legs gently, very lovingly, very carefully from her ankles up into the back of her knees, where his touch lingered and seemed to burn right into her skin.
He stood up and looked down at her.
“Touch yourself like that until we meet again,” he said softly. “Touch yourself with care and pay attention to how it feels to be touched. You can practise in the bath, in the shower, when you are alone in bed. That is your homework for this week.” He smiled and held his smile until she started to breathe again and then couldn't help but smile back at him.
He walked her to the back door with one hand lightly placed on her hip. It was there he said, “Next week, same time, same place.” It was a statement rather than a question and she nodded with volition this time and said, “Yes, that's perfect. And ... thank you.”
“Ah but it is my pleasure,” said Bennette and gave a sweeping bow. “Remember your homework. I will check up on you when we meet again.”
He opened the back door for her and Mrs Vanderhalen walked out, not entirely steady at first, but by the time she had reached her car, there was definitely a new spring in her step.


He Needs Help
Mr and Mrs Durloch were having an argument.
“It is ... madness!” Mr Durloch was shouting. “You are going to screw him up even worse by sending him to a sex therapist of all things! And a man, at that! Absolutely not. No. And that's my final word on the topic.” The broad man brought his fist down on the wooden worktop and made it ring, made the dishes piled upon it bounce and clatter.
“You can't keep ignoring the problem,” his wife, a very thin woman with a pinched look in every feature, from her pointy nose to her thin lips; even her ears looked pointy, unprotected as they were with her thin dark hair scraped back into a bun so tight it looked as though it hurt.
“Jason needs help! He needs to talk to someone, he needs to see a professional. You know what I found on his computer, I showed you.”
“Those are just pictures,” her husband said stubbornly, “All boys look at dirty pictures. You're making too much of it.”
Mrs Durloch came closer and pointed a thin finger at her husband as though she was trying to shoot him in the chest. “I showed you those pictures. Those were not normal dirty pictures that boys like to look at. You know they weren't. He needs help. And if you won't do anything about it, then I will.”
With that, she stormed from the room, stalking on her thin legs like a stork, and slammed the door shut behind her.
And so it was that the next afternoon, straight after school, young Jason Durloch was delivered by his mother to Mr Bennette in person and through the front door. The young gentleman had just turned 17 and was clad in what appeared to be a cross between gothic vampire and bondage gear; all black and lots of silver. His hair had been cut in an asymetric angle and was partially spiked up; he was wearing heavy mascara which he had applied in the car and as soon as the school gates had receded behind him, as well as bright blood red lipstick. His fingernais were painted black and had been filed to a sharp point.
Mr Bennette received his new client and the mother in the study, the second door along, which looked very much like a typical therapist's office, with a desk, a large framed certificate on the wall behind it; a classic therapy couch against the right wall and a single chair without arm rests but padded in dark red leather at an angle facing the couch. There were also two normal chairs facing the desk behind which Mr Bennette now took a seat.
For the next fifteen minutes, and whilst Jason slouched and rolled on the chair, pretending to be bored, Bennette went through the forms required to make it so that he could take the young man as a client. Jason pretended to be bored but he was listening with care and watching the man who was also dressed in black handle his mother with certainty and conviction. On numerous occasions, the young man had to drop his face to hide a grin as Bennette was playing her like a finely tuned piano; eventually, she left with instructions to return in 15 minutes and to find out if the sex therapist was willing to take on her wayward boy.
Bennette did not show her out; he remained in the room and when she had gone, he walked over to the classic couch, sat on it, angled at the hip, then lay down on it and stretched out long, folding his hands behind his neck.
Young Jason looked at him from the corner of his eye, half hidden under the odd fringe of black dyed hair and said nothing.
Bennette said to the ceiling, but straight up and not in the direction of the black glass dome which was placed exactly in the middle and surrounded by the same starry spotlights as might be found in all the rooms of this building, “So what do you want to grow up to be? A psychopath, I presume?”
Jason put his head back and raised his eyes. “I thought you people believe that you are born to be a psychopath. Early indications like neighbourhood pets going mysteriously astray.”
“Ah!” said Bennette and smiled, stretchin again. “Ah, this sounds to me as though this is going to be fun. You can talk.”
The young man shook his head and took to looking at his filed black fingernails.”Flattery will get you nowhere,” he informed Bennette. “In fact, nothing will get you nowhere. I'm not going to play with you, old pervert.”
At this, Bennette laughed out aloud. He sat up and laughed some more, then looked the young man straight into the eye.
“Yes,” he said softly. “I am an old pervert. Emphasis on old. I have seen things, done things, that you will never know. Compared to me, you're nothing but a baby. A little virgin, playing with herself, hoping that mummy won't come in ...”
Against his will, young Jason Durloch took in a sharp breath and his fingers tightened into a fist.
Bennette looked pointedly at this and said softly, “Or perhaps you're hoping mummy will come in. And lend a hand ...”
Durloch sprang from the chair but Bennette had been faster; he had caught the younger, shorter man by both wrists and held him with just enough strength and pressure that it would be known that in a physical fight, the young man could not hope to win.
“Now, now,” Bennette said softly but he had a grin that was showing teeth. “You're under 18. I can't legally touch you in the way that I would touch a more mature client. A grown up. A real person. Not a little Peter Pan.”
James Durloch relaxed his arms, then his whole body. “Fuck you, old pervert,” he said softly in return. “You know nothing about me, and you never will.”
“Hmm ...” said Bennette and continue to hold the young man's wrists, tightening his grip just a little. “What is to know? You're a snot nosed kid who clearly hasn't been taken ... in hand ... properly yet.” Durloch narrowed his eyes as he became aware of what Bennette was saying to him. Was the old pervert making a pass at him? For a moment, the young man's lids flicked; Bennette saw that and smiled again. He let go of Durloch's wrists but did not step back.
Durloch lashed out at him with his righ hand. Bennette blocked it easily with an upraised lower arm, simply sweeping the blow away; he did the same with the next attempt which was delivered with the left hand, and then a short flurry with both.
Durloch stopped and stepped back a little.
Bennette stood his ground and said, “Dear boy. Physical contact is a good way to learn your enemy. But we don't know each other well enough to be rolling around on the floor and tussling. And then of course, you are too young.”
With that, Bennette leaned forward and into the young man's face he said, “We mustn't touch the children, must we.”
This time, Durloch's eyes widened, his mouth dropped open and the intake of breath was audible.
Bennette straightened up and took a step forward, causing the younger man to step back and collide with the chair behind him.
From his height, the older man looked down at Jason and said, “I will inform your mother that you are not of interest to me. Your father is quite right. You're just a boy. Nothing more than that. Throwing the dummy out of the pram for a bit of attention. Just give it a year or two and you have a mortgage and a couple of squalling offspring.”
“Fuck you,” Jason said and really spat that word, hard. “Fuck you.”
Bennette shook his head. “Not interested,” he said. “I have ... higher standards and I am not interested in naughty children.”
Jason gave a shuddering breath and then a short laugh. “Do you really think I'm going to fall for that? That I'm now going to open up to you, no really Mr Freud,” and here he went into a very whiny voice,”I'm all screwed up, I am. Let me tell you of my dreadful dreams ... I'm a juicy morsel, come and I'll let you unwrap my secrets.”
Bennette didn't smile. He raised one eyebrow and said, “As I said. I'm not interested.” He glanced up at the clock above the entrance door. “Mummy will be back in five minutes. She will take you home sweet home. And you can go on with your life. And I ....” there he smiled, “I will go on with mine.”
“Right,” said Jason, “Getting blow jobs from rent boys in dirty alleyways. And eyeing little boys with bad intent.”
“Hey, Aqualung,” said Bennette and then added, “Look again. What do you see?”
This once again caused the young man to blink rapidly, then he swallowed hard, twice.
Bennette went to his desk and sat down behind it. He flipped open the silver laptop, opened a drawer and brought out a memory stick, still sealed in its original wrapping. Bennette cracked the plastic open, then pulled it apart easily. He inserted the memory stick into the computer, then focused on the screen.
“Making me a copy of your porn collection? That's nice of you,” said Jason and kicked the desk with his fashion gothic boots before dropping himself back into the chair. Bennette did not respond. At the same time as a soft door bell sounded, very muted and most likely inaudible if the door to this room had been closed, Bennette extraced the memory stick, and closed the lid on the computer. “Here's mummy,” he said and walked from the room to let Mrs Durloch in. By the time he led her into the room, Jason was found behind the desk, with the computer's lid open. At their entrance, he looked up and grinned.
Very seriously, Bennette said to Mrs Durloch, “I believe what your son needs is a little more discipline. Perhaps he can take up a sport. Football or such. It is very healthy. Fresh air, team spirit and a way to discharge all those pent up teenage emotions.”
He held up the memory stick and Mrs Durloch took it. “Here is a copy of our interview, in case you and your husband would like to review it.”
With this, he shepherded mother and son to the door and out into the street, and closed the door firmly behind him.
Jason did not say anything to his mother on the long drive home to their architectural self built grand design ten miles out from Coylton in the middle of nowhere. She asked him questions, as usual, and got all whiney as usual when he refused to respond; then she became tearful and accusing, also as usual whilst Jason looked at the side window and saw Bennette standing there, reflected in the glass, overlaid with his own reflection.
At home, Mrs Durloch played the surveillance sequence for Mr Durloch, and both united in expressing their shock at Jason's terrible language and behaviour, at his attempts to strike the therapist. For once, Jason actually lost his temper and screamed at them, “Can't you hear what he is saying? What he is doing? Are you fucking blind? And deaf and dumb?”
He was sent to his room and threats against his mobile phone were made, against his allowance. As always, Jason let himself fall face first onto his bed and asked himself why he had been cursed with these complete muppets for parents. He was angry with himself. He had known since he was three years old that his parents were idiots, that they had no sense, no brain, no present, no future and no past and for the last five years at least it had been a very rare occasion when they had managed to get under his skin.
Jason reflected that it wasn't them. It was Bennette. He had gotten to Jason. The young man rolled off his bed, went back downstairs. His parents were still in the kitchen, the computer playing the session recording again, talking amongst themselves how terrible Jason had been and how ashamed of him they were.
Jason cleared his throat. They both looked around, then his father reached over and paused the recording.
Jason said to them both, “You've watched this, twice. And you are seriously still willing to send me for therapy with this man?”
His father looked down but his mother immediately stepped forward and put a hand on his arm. He looked down at the thin fingers with the big joints and disliked it, as he always had. Mrs Durloch said, “I think it would be good for you, darling, to have someone to talk to. Someone experienced, like Mr Bennette.”
“Someone ... experienced. Like Mr Bennette,” Jason said for if he hadn't repeated it to himself, he might not have believed he heard right.
“Yes,” said Mrs Durloch, “He seems very reasonable. And I really think you should take up a sport.” Jason's father nodded at that seriously and Jason experienced that feeling of vertigo again, that sensation of being trapped in an alternate hell dimension where nothing made sense. And then he looked at the screen which, frozen, showed a bird's eye view of him being held by Bennette and a hot wave flashed through him as he understood that Bennette had given his mother this recording for exactly this to happen.
He wanted to let me know that he understands, Jason thought and felt a curious spinning sensation in his stomach; he placed his hand there to steady himself.
“Are you alright, darling?” his mother enquired immediately.
Jason made his face so that other people thought it was a smile. Both his mother and father fell for it, every time. They smiled back, relieved.
Jason took a deep breath and said, “I agree. Mr Bennette knows what he's talking about. I'm sorry I was rude to him. I would like to ... talk to him about some things. And I will look into getting onto one of the football teams at school.”
His parents stared at him with eyes wide open, the expression a small child might have who finds a real life puppy in the Christmas present.
Mrs Durloch turned to Mr Durloch and said, “Look, I told you so! Just a few minutes with a professional, and there's already progress ...”

 

“Hello?”
“Is this Dr Bennette?” a man's voice enquired.
“It is he. Who is calling?”
“Yes, ... my name is James Elvin Paris. I am enquiring about an appointment.”
“Certainly. I have an opening at 7.30pm tonight for an initial meeting to decide whether we want to work together. Is that suitable for you?”
“Ahm, tonight, 7.30, yes, yes that's fine. Is it in the shop in Market Street?”
“Yes. Please may I have your phone number, just in case.”
“Oh, yes, certainly.”
The old man gave his home phone and softly placed the old fashioned receiver back on the phone's base. He took a deep breath and straightened himself out. In the family room, his wife who was forty years his junior and their two teenage daughters where having a high pitched battle. James Elvin Paris shook his head and slowly but upright and with deliberation, walked out the back and into the garden, leaving the screams to fade away behind him, the further he went.


Spy
Coylton village had a very distinct selection of trades around the old market square. There was the funeral parlour and the books shop; now, also the sex therapist's office. On the opposite site of the market square, there was was a garage at the corner; a hairdresser's, and an art gallery which belonged to the wife of the local counsellor.
The third side of the square had the pub, The Hen & Crown; the bakery which also sold a variety of locally produced jams and chutneys for sale to the tourists (as the locals preferred national brands which they bought from the supermarket in the nearby town down the road); and a newsagent which was owned by two elderly sisters. This was known as the inconvenience store, on account of the schizophrenic selection of goods for sale and their likewise, entirely bewildering prices. On the fourth side of the square, there were the remnants of an old wall which in medieval times had encased the whole village; now it provided a small island for traffic to drive around. You could thus drive into Coylton and back out again, which was a handy thing for people who got lost and ended up this way.
As a part of the village rejuvanation scheme, a farmer's market was held now once a month in the village square, and everyone was very excited that a marvellous tradition from the dark ages had thus been resurrected, taking Coylton proudly forward into another 1,000 years.
The Christian ladies may have thought that their garden committee was the hub of village life; but the true hub was the hairdresser's. It was a very luxurious, modern place that charged high prices; the village was surrounded by expensive homes where extremely bored women were waiting for their commuting husbands, and to have a well staffed establishment which also offered nail care, body waxing, sunbeds, massages and pedicures right in the village was said to keep many from going entirely insane.
Of course, at the salon, the sex therapist was the hot topic of the day. He had been glimpsed; there was much disappointment by the lady patrons and the salon staff alike that he was an older man, and that he looked like a priest. A good many hours were spent wondering what he might do; discussing the known sexual problems of the world and his wife in the little village of Coylton; and eventually, a bet was made amongst the staff of the Cut Above salon.
Straws were drawn and the losing lady would have to book a session with the sex therapist, so she could come back and report in excruciating detail what did transpire behind those red curtains which were driving everyone insane with burning curiosity.
The loser, a busty redhead who had trained in London and once had been a hairdresser on a fashion shoot for a famous magazine, took it in her stride; much giggling and laughing behind a flat hand held over the mouth at the outrage of it all commenced as the ladies constructed a sexual problem that the redhead by the name of Deirdre Cannon could take to her session with the sex therapist.
The plan was to pretend that her boyfriend was too quick on the draw and to find out if Mr Bennette had some good tips to share.
It so happened that not much later, when everyone was still buzzing and laughing about the secret mission, as it had been termed, Mrs Vanderhalen had an appointment for her nails. She was told all the details and raised her perfectly plucked eyebrows, then feigned laughter and excitement, but said nothing when it came to the extraordinary ideas as to what Mr Bennette was and did which were proposed.
On her way out of the salon, Mrs Vanderhalen stopped and sent a text message which read simply, “Deirdre Cannon = Spy” Then she put her phone away and looked across the square to Bennette's shop, wishing it was next week tonight.

“Hello?”
“Yes, hello, this is Deirdre Cannon speaking. Is this Mr Bennette?”
“It is indeed. How can be of service?”
“I ... ahm ... well I have a problem with my ... boyfriend?”
“A sexual problem, I presume?”
“Yes, yes, that's right. One of those. I want to come and see you, how much does it cost?”
“I like to start with a 15 minute complimentary session, so we can both decide if what I do is what you want.”
Deirde giggled nervously. “Complimentary. That means it's free, right?”
“As free as such things ever are,” the man's smooth, dark voice on the other side of the phone responded.
Deirdre giggled again and then coughed. “When can I book an appointment? I'm a hairdresser here in the village, it's just across the road and I can get away for 15 minutes, no problem. Can we do it as soon as possible?”
“There is no time than the present. Come over now.”
“Now?” Deirdre gulped.
“Yes, my next client is not due until 3.30. It is 2.47 so that is a perfect window of opportunity. Are you at the salon now?”
“Yes,” said Deirdre and then kicked her foot, encased in see through plastic mega platform shoes with curved wedged heels, angry at herself. Why didn't she say no?
“Very good,” the man said. “I' will open the door for you. Come right inside.”
The phone went dead and Deirdre looked up, eyes scared and wide, at her co-workers who had crammed their fists into their mouths during the phone call and now exploded in wild shrieking, and hooting, and proceeded to push her out of the front door with many hands.

“Hello?”
“Mr Bennette, it's Lynda. Lynda Vanderhalen. I hope I've not disturbed you.”
“Not at all, my dear lady. What can I do for you?”
“Well ... I'm not sure that I can make the appointment next Wednesday. I was wondering if we could move it up a little. I am free tonight and all day tomorrow?”
“Hm, tonight,” Bennette said and Lynda Vanderhalen held her breath. “How late can you go to?”
“Ahm, oh, any time really. My husband is away for the whole week so ... I am free.”
“How does 10pm sound?”
“Oh, yes, wonderful. Are you sure you don't mind?”
“Not at all. I find the later the evening, the more appropriate it is for the work we do.” Bennette clearly had a smile in his voice, and Lynda Vanderhalen, who was not Mrs Vanderhalen on this occasion, felt a definite tingle of excitement.
“How would you like to pay?” Bennette enquired. “I find it's best taken care of before you arrive. Then we are free to spent our time on what really matters.”
“Could I make an electronic transfer to you?”
“Certainly. I will text you my bank details.”
“Thank you so much,” said Lynda, “I will see you tonight then. At 10pm.”
“Garden gate,” said Bennette, and hung up.


Feel Good
Deirdre Cannon, with a shopful of eyes at her back, walked across the empty market square, crossed the road and with deep sigh, straightened herself out and flicked her har back, then giving it a little extra lift by pushing it up with her hands. This caused her skin tight leopard print dress to ride up; she was in the middle of pulling down towards her knees, bent over with her full cleavage on show when Bennette opened the door and looked down at her, a small smile playing around his lips.
“Ms Cannon,” he said as she blushed and straightened herself out, very aware that one side of her dress was down but the other still riding up halfway to her hip. She tried to pull on it surreptitioously but this was doomed to failure, standing on the door step in the bright light of day and with Bennette being less than two feet away from her.
He smiled at her. “Please, do come inside.”
He stepped aside and Deirdre had to pass very close by him. As she did, he put his head down and took a deep breath in through flaired nostrils. “Hmmm ...” he said low and slow. “You smell very nice, Ms Cannon.”
Deirdre found herself blushing like a school girl and pulled on her dress again, taking the opportunity to really arrange the dress and her breasts too in the tight push up bra as Bennette led the way to the study.
“Please, take a seat,” he said and indicated the therapist's couch, whilst he took a seat in the higher chair which stood facing. Deirdre sat down carefully, trying to pull some fabric over the tops of her thighs, keeping her legs very closely together.
The man in black leaned forward on his knees, looking at her. He leaned forward more and held out both his hands to Deirdre. She gave him her hands, all nails and multiple fashion jewelry rings, bangles, bracelets. He drew her hands towards his chest, thus causing her to half slide off the couch and nearly crouching before him, balancing with difficulty in her high platform shoes. He moistened his lips with the tip of his tongue, then he bent and kissed both her hands, deeply and meaningfully. Deirdre was shocked and shaken, unbalance by her position and by his actions, but she did not pull her hands away. With a fluid movement, Bennette got off the chair and as he rose, he lifted her physically with him, then swiftly took the busty hairdresser in his arms and held her tight. She looked up at him with utter amazement and he angled his head and lightly, kissed her on the lips, just a fleeting touch and a tiny flick with the tip of his tongue which made her draw back in surprise.
He smiled at her, put his hands on her hips and drew her a litle closer to him. Deirdre thought about pulling away, telling him to stop but before she had formulated a strategy, he took a step forward, completely unbalancing her, causing her to grab on to his arms and he sat her back down on the sofa as though she was a mannequin.
“There,” he said. “That's better, isn't it.”
Deirdre looked up at him, around the room, entirely confused.
Bennette smiled and sat back down in the chair.
“So,” he said. “First things first. Are you currently seeing a doctor, a psychologist or taking any medication?”
The tone of his voice was entirely matter of fact and Deirdre found herself saying, “No, no I've never ...”
“Good,” said Bennette. “That's excellent. That means we can work together if you should choose to do so. Although,” and here he smiled, “A little birdie tells me that you are a spy.”
Deirdre felt herself flushing so instantly and so hard that she didn't even try to deny it. She hung her head instead, then she looked up at Bennette. He was sitting quietly, with his head at slight angle, observing her.
She thought about lying to him, about brazing it out like she would normally, but eventually just shook her head, let out a deep sigh, and stretched her hands before her, playing with her bracelets. “Yes,” she said. “It's true. There was a bet at the salon. I lost.” She caught her bottom lip between her teeth and then added, “I'm sorry.”
“Oh,” said Bennette and got up, “I'm not. I think it's delicious to find a beautiful spy in my house.” He laughed and walked over to the desk, tapped on the computer. A little while later, soft music drifted into the room. It was some kind of very old fashioned thing that Deirdre did not recognise.
Bennette came back, bowed to her and held out his hand.
“May I have this dance?”
Deirdre found her hand in his before she had time to think about it, and one swift movement later, and he had his hand on her hip and holding her hand, angled up and close to his face, leading her into a dance to the soft, old fashioned music that featured what might have been a saxophone.
Deirdre was not exactly well versed in ballroom dancing; her only brush with it had been at a friend's wedding but that had been a waltz. Bennette noted she didn't know what to do with her feet, so he stopped dancing and instead, just swayed with her from side to side.
“We have something in common,” he said and pushed her foot a little to cause her to take a step back and to the right, then moving expertly around her and turning her, then swaying again for a little while.
Deirdre said, “Are you a spy as well?” and Bennette really laughed at that, held her tighter and nugded her foot again. This time she was ready and let him spin her around.
“No, I'm not a spy,” said Bennette. “But tell me, what do you do for your clients? What is it that you give them with your work?”
Deirdre managed to anticipate the nudge and this time, made the movement all by herself. He gave her smile and they were back to swaying. He was hot, she thought, I can feel the heat from his body radiating right through that suit. But he isn't sweating and looks as cool as they come. And his hands are dry. These musings caused her to miss the beat but the nudge and turn came anyway. She tried to think.
“I ahm, we ... we make our clients feel good,” she said as with one ear, she listened to the music and prepared for the backward step and the pivot; she was ready when it came.
“And that is exactly what we have in common. I just charge a little more than you do,” said Bennette, laughed and picked her off the floor as though she weighed nothing at all; then he went into the complex dance steps that belonged to old fashioned song, moving his way and that, and when it ended, he put her back on her feet.
He smiled at her.
“You are a very beautiful lady, Ms Cannon,” he said to her. “Thank you sincerely for this dance.
“And you can tell your ladies if they would like to come ... over .... one evening next week, we can drink champagne in the garden and have a talk about clients and the business of making people feel better about themselves in this lovely village.”
Deirdre looked up into his bright eyes and found that she was fluttering her long false lashes at him. She blushed again.
“I will visit in the next few days with an official invitation,” Bennette said and smiled lovingly at her. “But now, I am afraid we have say farewell for now. I need a little while to prepare for my next appointment.”
He walked Deirdre to the door, keeping his arm around her, radiating warmth and the hand on her hip hot burning through her leopard dress. He opened the door and she stepped across the threshold. Bennet picked up her hand, turned her a little so that what he was doing could be clearly seen from the street where quite a few people had stopped and were now staring, then bent over her hand and kissed it reverently.
“I will see you soon,” he said and Deirdre found she was nodding, and she also found that she had stood for quite some time, looking at the red door even after it had closed already.

 

Learn Me
Mr Bennette's 3.30 appointment stormed straight into the office, second door along, and threw a memory stick on the desk.
Jason Durloch turned around and looked at Bennette, who was standing in the door fram, pointed at the object on the elegant rosewood desk and said, “What the fuck are you playing at? Tell me what you're playing at.”
Bennette looked at the young man with the assymetric black died hair in his fashionable outfit of leather and linen, black in black, which clearly had cost a fortune to assemble. His eyes lingered on the predominant upturned silver cross the youngster was sporting which hung from a large link chain to the centre of his chest.
Bennette took one step into the room and said, “I am going to offer you a choice of three responses.
“No. 1 - have you brought me your porn collection? How delightful of you.
“No. 2 - What do you think I'm playing at?
“No. 3 - It's nice to see you again, Jason.”
The young man stepped back a little to lean against the desk. He put his head back and under half closed lids, responded, “Keep going. I'm not amused yet.”
Bennette smiled and showed his teeth.
“No. 4,” he said, “When is the last time you met someone who fascinated you?”
The two disperate men in black locked eyes for a long time; eventually, Jason bowed his head, a minute movement, and said, “It has been a while.”
Bennette nodded in response. “Come with me,” he said, turned on his heels and walked from the room. Jason followed to find that Benette was standing in front of the closed door to the first room.
He had his hand on the round, golden doorknob.
Bennette turned to Jason and said, “You are here. This is, in a way, all that needs to be said; you want to work with me. At this time, you might not want to work, but you certainly want to be with me.
“Let's make this clear. You say to me that you want to be with me, and I will open this door, we will go inside and your world will never be the same again.
“Say it not, and we can go back next door and play mindgames for an hour.
“You choose,” and here, Bennette .leaned towards Jason and looked directly down at the young man, “Jason,” drawing out the name and letting it slide over his lips.
Jason's fingers flexed; his eyes narrowed. He looked at the door, looked at Bennette's hand resting on the door knob, then up into the older man's face. Bennette was not smiling. He was very serious and awaiting an answer.
Jason Durloch nodded just once and said softly, seductively, “I want to be with you.”
Bennette nodded in response. “That will do, for now.” He opened the door, pushed it ajar and gave a sweeping gesture for the younger, shorter man to enter.
Jason Durloch had walked two paces into the room and now stood in his thick soled gothic leather boots with the silver straps going up the chins, looking around. His eyes lingered on the black fur box shape against the curtain; the leather sofa and the absence of any other furniture or objects in the room. He only briefly glanced at his reflection in the huge mirror before going over to the master arm chair, sitting down in it, swivelling to put his legs across one arm and leaning up against the other.
Bennette reflected that the boy looked like a child being carried in a strong man's loving arms and that made him smile. He softly closed the door and locked it with a flick on the mechanism that was set into the door handle. It produced a loud click.
Jason raised an eyebrow.
Bennette went to the sofa, unbuttoning his immaculate jacket before sitting down.
“We have a problem,” he informed Jason.
“And what might that be?” the youngster asked, reflexively.
Bennette smiled and placed his hands on his knees. They were very white against the black fabric of his suit. He wore no jewelry of any kind, no wrist watch either, Jason noticed. Bennette's hands were large but extremely clean and perfectly manicured.
“The problem we have is that what I might like to do to you, and what undoubtely you would love me doing to you, we cannot do on account of your age.”
Jason started tapping one foot onto the other, which produced a light metallic sound as the metal bands on his boots contacted with the metal set into the soles of the other boot.
“I am seventeen,” he said. “Well past the age of consent.”
Bennette shook his head and stretched his fingers out long. “We are in a therapy situation. A sex therapy situation at that. Other rules apply.”
Jason grinned at him. “Turn off the camera. I won't tell.”
Bennette shook his head again. “Not an option, either. But ...” Here, Jason's foot stopped tapping, “We can talk in hypotheticals. We can talk about your sexual fantasies.”
Jason put his head back and said softly, “You would like that, wouldn't you.”
Bennette gave grin and touched his upper teeth briefly with his tongue, a minute gesture which the cameras in the ceiling would not be able to pick up, unless he was lying on his back, which he was not.
Jason saw it though, clearly, as Bennette responded, “I would like it very much.” He dropped his voice even lower and said, “It would be ... most ... therapeutic.”
Jason Durloch moved his hips in the seat. He had stopped smiling. “You should be careful what you are asking for,” he said softly. “I might give it to you and you might find it is more than you can handle.”
Bennette said softly, “You are but a child. You don't know that about yourself, but I do. And this time, I mean no disrespect. Being a child is a wonderful thing, but it can also be extremely frightening if you find yourself in the wilderness with no-one to protect you.
“With no-one to ... love you.”
The young man had become very still. He took a breath to start a response, but then he didn't say what he was going to say and sighed instead. He drew in a deep breath through flared nostrils and said, “You are offering to ... love me?”
“Absolutely,” said Bennette with conviction. “Like you have never been loved before.”
At this, Jason swung his legs back down to the ground and leaned back in the big chair. He put his hand inside his pants, straightened out his dick and said, “Hm, that's better. You were saying about loving me?”
Bennette said gently, “I was saying about you being a child. Loving you is the first layer. The second layer, that would be protecting you. You have fought on your own for too long. You have become feral. Wild. Wild child. Without a tribe. without a God.”
At this, Jason laughed out and looked up to the ceiling. “Are you kidding me? You will talk to me of God?”
Bennette said, “God is but a metaphor for father.”
Jason Durloch was speechless. “What are you saying?”
A soft smile played around Bennette's lips. “I am saying you are in need of a father, Jason.”
The young man put his hand to his forehead and held it whilst shaking his head at the same time. “I cannot believe what you are saying to me. You - want to be my ... father?”
Bennette said, “What if I was? What if I had been, from the moment you were conceived? Would it have made a difference?”
The young man looked up sharply. “That's stupid thing to say. Of course it would. I would be even more fucked up than I already am.” He shook his head. “Christ I can't even ...”
“Yes,” said Bennette and now leaned forward on his elbows too. “Yes, you can. You can think about it. Imagine it. Play it through time. Consider all the repercussions. All ... the repercussions.”
For a moment, the young man was very still then he shook himself all over, pushed his right hand back into his pants and started stroking himself.
“You're good,” he said to Bennette, “You're really good. I give you that, Mr Sex Therapist. Do the other boys fall for that holy father routine? Do they get all doey eyed, then go down on their knees and worship you the best way they can?”
Bennette was looking at the young man's crotch, who was still stroking himself and who was clearly fully excited by now. He raised his eyes to meet Jason's and said, “You. You are the only one.”
Jason put his head back and closed his eyes. He blew out a breath through pursed lips and the movements of his hand inside his pants gathered momentum.
Bennette said, “Child. Did no-one ever teach you a measure of control when you are in a public place?”
Jason raised his head to look at him but did not stop masturbating himself. “I am not a child,” he said, “Do you want me to show you?”
Bennette said calmly, “I can see everything I need to see. More than that, I can feel what I need to feel. And I can control myself very well. That is because I am an adult. Not a child, touching himself to get my attention, which he already has.”
Jason found himself taking a deep shuddering breath and his erection seemed to fade. This annoyed him; he squeezed harder, but even as he did, his erection failed altogether and his dick went limp, lifeless.
He looked at Bennette who was gazing at him steadily.
“Fuck,” said Jason, and there was an undertone of awe in his voice, “How the fuck did you do that?”
Bennette said very seriously, “I know many things that you don't know. Most of those, you don't even know you don't know. But if you did, your life would not be as miserable as it is. As it has been.” He sighed. “I am willing to teach you if you are willing to learn. But one thing has to be understood.
“I am not your father or your mother. I am not your teacher. I am not the parish priest. I am not anyone you have ever met before, and whatever you think you've learned, does not apply to me.
“If you want to play me, manipulate me, make me yours, then you have to learn me first.”
Jason took his hand out of his pants and looked at it, turned it, flexed the fingers. He was wearing a large metal skull ring on his middle finger with red stones set in for the eyes. Jason moved his hand a little to make the red stones flash under the ceiling lights. Then he looked across to Bennette who was still sitting, leaning his elbows on his knees, and gazing at him steadily, very seriously.
“How ... do I ... learn you?” he asked.
Bennette said, “Repeat after me.
“I do not know who you are.”
Jason licked his lips, dropped his hand in his lap. “I do not know who you are,” he said.
“I want to know you,” said Bennette.
Jason nodded. “I want to know you.”
“Show me who you are.”
“Show me who you are.”
“Very good,” said Bennette and smiled a little. He sat up straighter. “I think that is more than good enough for our first real session together.
“Now, for your homework assignment.”
Jason raised both eyebrows. “Homework? Really?”
“Yes, really,” Bennette said.
“Well?” prompted Jason.
Bennette smiled. “I want you to collect up all your porn, all of it. Everything you've got. All formats, digital and physical. Remove it from all the many little shabby hiding place. Leave nothing behind. Make copies, then delete the originals from any digital devices.
“Next, I want you to buy a suitable container which may be locked, and put everything inside.
“Lock it and put the key on a chain around your neck.
“And next week, bring it to me.”
Jason narrowed his eyes and shook his head. “Really?” he asked again.
“Yes, really,” said Bennette.
“And ... you will ... look at it?”
Bennette laughed. “Don't you think that this might aid you in your quest to learn me?”
Jason nodded, then raised both eyebrows again, shook his head. He let himself flop back into the large black leather arm chair and raised both hands in defeat. “Alright,” he said, “Alright, I'll do it.”
Bennette stood up. “No editing,” he said. “The truth is far more delicious than any lie could ever be.”
Jason pushed himself out of the chair and stood up also. This close together, it was very apparent how much taller and wider Bennette really was. Jason looked up at him and for a moment thought that Bennette was bending down and kissing him on the mouth. He shook his head and the vision had gone. Bennette held out his hand to Jason, and Jason took it. Bennette's hand was hot and very dry, his grip firm.
“Delightful,” said Bennette and smiled. “I cannot wait to explore the treasures you will bring to me.” Bennette lifted up the young man's hand, turned it and kissed it slowly, softly. And there, Jason's dick, which had gone to sleep so profoundly, sprang back into life.

 

“Is this Mr Davidson?”
“Yes, and thank you for calling me back.”
“Not a problem. You were enquiring about couples counseling?”
“Yes, yes I was. Is that something you do?”
“I am a sex therapist, Mr Davidson. Not a relationships consultant.”
“Ahm ... yes, I undestand that.”
“And this would be you and your wife?”
“Yes, that's right.”
“Very well. I can see you on Monday evening at 8pm for the 15 minute get to know you session. Is that suitable for you and your lady wife?”
“Let me just check, just a minute ... yes, yes that will be fine.”
“I look forward to seeing you both on Monday at 8pm.”
“Thank you.”

 

Hell
The doorbell rang as the seconds flipped from 7.29 to 7.30.
Bennette opened the door to an old man, who was tall and very upright, and at some time in his life must have been strong and probably very handsome.
The old man had very white hair and still a full head of it; he was wearing a beige suit of a fashion from thirty years ago. As this fashion had recently returned, he looked curiously timeless, a time traveller indeed.
Bennette held out his hand to the man and they exchanged a manly and meaningful handshake.
“Please, come inside,” said Bennette and led the old man into the office.
Bennette stood behind the red leather chair that was angled to the couch and placed his hands on the back. “Take a seat, Mr Paris.”
The old man walked across, stiffly but upright and endeavouring to make it seem as though walking was easy, when clearly, it was not. Likewise, the way he positioned himself with care above the chair before letting himself fold enough at the knees to eventally assume a very upright sitting posture spoke volumes about both the state of his physical fitness, as well as his clear desire to not give in to age or infirmity without a fight.
Bennette sat down on the couch, unbuttoning his jacket.
“How can I be of assistance, Mr Paris?” he asked respectfully.
The old man looked at him, then folded his hands in his lap and said, “I am failing to satisfy my wife.”
Bennette nodded. “May I ask how old you are, sir?”
The old man raised his chin a little at being addressed such by Bennette. In the same carefully controlled fashion, he replied, “I am 82.”
Bennette nodded and said, “I would have taken you for a much younger man.”
Paris nodded briefly in return. For his age, his skin was remarkable; his eyes were clear and bright and of his presence of mind, there was no doubt.
“How old is your wife?” Bennette enquired, and Paris replied, “She is 38.” He sighed and added, “She is my second wife.”
Bennette regarded the other man for a moment, then he said, “Do you masturbate?”
The old man held his eyes and responded. “Yes. I do.”
“And that is working as it should?”
Paris nodded, twice. “Yes. It is.”
Bennette asked, “Do you like your wife?”
The old man gave a near imperceptible shake of the head and Bennette noted that his hands clenched to fists. “She is my wife,” Paris said calmly.
Bennette nodded.
“Does she make demands on you?” he enquired.
Paris nodded again. “Yes, she does. Almost every night.”
Bennette looked at the older man for some time before he said, “Let me speak plainly, sir. You have it in your power to make your wife beg for mercy, three times a day. You are chosing not to exercise this power.”
Paris went very still. For a long time, neither man spoke or even moved. The windowless room was cool and the soft, faint hum of the air conditioning gave feeling of an engine, being on board a space craft, or perhaps a time machine.
Eventually, Paris said, “It may be that I am punishing her.”
“How is that working for you, sir?” Bennette enquired.
Paris looked down on his hands. They gave away his advanced age far more than his face; they were freckled, wrinkled and blue veins were standing out strongly on the back of his hands.
He looked up at Bennette and said, “My life is hell.”
Bennette took a deep breath and stood up. He said, “Can you afford my services?”
Paris looked up at him and gave a single nod.
Bennette walked around the back of the chair, leaned over and put his hands on the old man's shoulders. Into the man's ear, he said softly. “I would lead you out of hell, if you will let me.”
Paris slowly, very slowly, bowed his head. He felt Bennette's hands move up and touch the back of his neck, skin exposed between the collar and the hair line, and took a deep, shuddering breath, then another.
Then Paris felt a soft sensation and realised that Bennette had kissed him. Curiously, it did not cause him to be alarmed. He closed his eyes and felt very peaceful, very relaxed. A short while later, there was a short tap on his shoulder.
Paris took a deep breath and gathered the energy he would need to stand up straight without making it seem as though it was the bone crunching effort this simple movement now required.
Curiously, on this occasion, it seemed to be easier than it had been for a long time. Paris stood up and turned his head to see Bennette stepping away from the chair. Bennette smiled and held out his hand. Paris took it, and this time, Bennette placed his other hand also firmly over their clasped hands.
“Tomorrow,” Bennette said. “Tomorrow, we go next door. And tonight, I would have you be kind to your wife.”

 

“Hello? Mr Bennette?”
“Is that Ms Cannon?”
“Yes, yes it is, I'm really sorry to trouble you so late but ... I can't get that song out of my mind, the one you played? I was wondering if you could tell me what it's called, I really liked it.”
“It is called Moon River but the version I played is a rare recording. Would you like to come in and I can give you a copy in person? After work tomorrow, perhaps?”
“Oh, are you sure? That it's not too much trouble?”
Bennette laughed. “Not at all, my dear lady. What time do you finish work?”
“It's Saturday. It could be around five thirty, sixish ...”
“Perfect. And ... Ms Cannon?”
“Yes?”
“I am delighted you liked the song.”


Bright Lights
It was getting dark already as Lynda Vanderhalen parked her Mercedes in the church carpark. Summer is nearly over, she thought, but it had the advantage that she could easily slip along the back wall and to the red door with the number 23 upon it.
She was excited but also quite exhausted. She had put on and taken off all her make up at least ten times and tried on every outfit in her wardrobe. It would take hours to put it all back, she had thought as she closed the door on her dressing room which looked as though a grenade had exploded, scattering clothes, underwear, shoes and accessories everywhere. Perhaps she didn't have to put it all back. Perhaps she could fill a few black sacks for Save The Children.
Now, and wearing an expensive designer tracksuit in grey silk set off with pink, flat white loafers with diamonds on the toes and a matching white handbag, Lynda opened the silent door to the garden and quickly slipped inside.
Bennette was nowhere to be seen. She waited for a moment or two before she made her way to the conservatory door. She found it was open and stepped inside with a sigh of relief.
Once she closed the door behind her, she heard music. Lynda followed the sound, noiselessly on her thin soled soft leather loafers and saw that one door along the corridor was open, a soft shine of light and the music emanating.
She peered around the half open door and saw Bennette, sitting behind a square, elegant rosewood Art Deco desk, working on his lap top. He was not wearing his jacket and was deeply absorbed.
Lynda knocked on the door, softly, as not to startle him and he looked up and smiled immediately.
“My dear lady,” he said and got up, “Is this the time already?”
He came around the desk and strode over to her, halting very close to her. He picked up her hand and kissed it. “Shall we?” he asked, placing an arm lightly around her shoulder and gesturing with the other hand.
He walked her thus to the first room. The music was still playing but once inside the room with the huge mirror, when the door was closed and then locked, it could not be heard any longer.
Bennette said, “Take a seat,” without looking around and turned a dial by the side of the door. The lights dimmed, and then dimmed more. There were a number of small switches next to the large dial, and now, a set of three spotlights came on that fell exactly on the black fur covered box before the curtain, illuminating it powerfully.
Bennette took his seat in the large arm chair, settled himself comfortably, crossed his legs and tapped a little with the tip of his black leather shoes.
Then he said, “Now, please take off your clothes, Mrs Vanderhalen.”
The lady such addressed felt a wave of heat run from her head all the way down her arms and legs, then aother one that ran down the centre, over her breasts, into her stomach and the heat seemed to settle in her genitals.
She swallowed hard and found she could neither move nor speak.
Bennette said nothing else; he was sitting relaxed in the chair with his hands on the arms, leaning back and still tapping his foot, small, rhythmical movements.
Lynda found that her hand had crept up and was starting to undo the zip of her designer tracksuit top. She fumbled to find it, it was further down, lower, than she normally wore it. She looked down at her own hands and watched them as they drew down the zip and unfastened it at the bottom.
Looking at the swirly carpet before her, she took the jacket off and laid it carefully down beside her.
She cast a glance at Bennette.
He nodded seriously and said, “That's very good. Please, continue.”
Mrs Vanderhalen slipped off one shoe, then the other. She placed these also on the left hand side, away from where Bennette was sitting to the right in his commanding chair.
She kept arranging the shoes and couldn't stop doing it.
“Please continue,” Bennette said gently.
Lynda took a deep breath and pulled the tight white T-shirt she had worn beneath her tracksuit over her head, revealing a lacey pink bra which was pushing her large breasts together and up. She noted with dismay that she was starting to sweat, even though the room was pleasant and cool.
She folded the T-shirt on her lap and placed it carefully beside the tracksuit top.
With a deep breath, pulling in her stomach as much as possible, she stood up and wriggled out of the tracksuit trousers. She now very much wished she had not chosen this underwear; the pink panties were minute and had a string between her buttocks to hold them up. She did not fold the trousers; she left them on the floor and turned towards Bennette.
He seemed very relaxed but his attention on her was like a storm, she thought she could feel it touching her bare skin and making it shiver.
“Continue,” he said. His voice was calm, smooth, commanding.
Lynda pushed the straps of her bra off her shoulders; first one, then the other; she pushed the bra down so that her breasts sprang free. She tried to cover them with one arm whilst with the other hand, trying to undo the fastener at the back; it soon became apparent that this was not going to work. She looked at Bennette, whether he would come over and stand behind her, his hands touching her, unclasping it for her ...
Bennette sat quitely and calmly, watching her with intense attention. Lynda took a deep breath then, unclasped her bra with both hands and then quickly bent down and pulled her panties down, stepped out of them. They were lying on the floor, looking up at her.
Lynda shook her head, and with her arms crossed once more before her breasts, sat down on the leather couch again. It was cold and embraced her, enfolded her.
“Very good,” Bennette said. “That is very good, Mrs Vanderhalen.” He drew out the salutation and the name long and slow, and she wished he would call her Lynda. What would her husband say if he could see her like this with another man?
Bennette said, “I am not your lover, or your husband. Please stand up and relax.”
She found herself obeying. She took a step away from the couch, turned to face him squarely on, then closed her eyes and tried to relax. Her fingers were twitching and she was breathing faster than normal.
She sensed more than she could hear him getting up from the chair, approaching. She turned her head but his voice was much closer than she had expected and found herself startling from head to foot.
“Do I have your permission to touch you?” the voice said calmly.
Lynda nodded and said, “Yes.” It came out in a hushed whisper.
She braced herself and tried to ascertain where exactly he was. She thought she could feel a warmth on her right shoulder ... was this his breath? His hand, hovering just above her skin?
“Open your eyes,” he said.
With a deep breath, she did. He was standing at her right shoulder. He was very tall. Without her shoes on, her eyes were on a line with his collarbones. Lynda sighed and wished he would take her in his arms, hold her. She felt very tired and very sad all of a sudden.
Bennette moved around to stand in front of her. He put his fingetips under her chin and raised her head. “The next time you come to me, don't wear any make up,” he said gently. “And no underwear. For an hour or so before our appointment.”
He reached out and touched the red marks on her shoulder where the bra straps had bitten into her skin, then ran a single fingertip down the side of her left breast. “Your harness is chafing,” he said softly, “It is making you sore. It is a crime against your beauty.”
He reached up and touched her hair. It was heavily styled, had been dyed with highlights. It was stiff as straw and he sighed. “And please, do wash your hair,” he said. “A woman's hair is a wonderful thing. So ... sensual.”
Then he looked down at her. She was entirely hairless; as he touched her outer lips with the back of his hand, he felt that she had been plucked rather than shaven. He sighed again.
“What is your hair colour?” he asked. Mrs Vanderhalen had lovely hazel eyes which were surrounded with many paints of various metallic colours, making it appear when she closed her lids that two exotic birds had crash landed on her face. She said, “Blondish brownish, sort of. I don't really remember ...”
He touched her stomach which she drew in reflexively as far as it could go. “Relax,” Bennette said softly, “Just relax. Only pleasant things will happen to you here, for this you have my word. Very, very pleasant things ...” and with this, he put his hand under her stiff hair, massaging her neck lightly with his fingertips, then he drew her forward and up and kissed her on the lips. His lips were cool but his tongue was hot and for a moment, she was washed away by the sensation before drawing back sharply, blushing deeply and crossing her hands before her breasts again.
“What are you doing?” Mrs Vanderhalen said, “You can't do that.”
“I asked permission to touch you,” he reminded her.
“That ... wasn't a touch ... that was a kiss!”
“It was a touch,” he said calmly. “I touched you with my lips, and with my tongue.”
She shook her head. Her hair didn't move with her movements. The naked woman with the large breasts looked towards her clothes.
Bennette said softly, “Would you like to get dressed? Go home?”
She took another step back and away from him. “Yes, I think I would,” she said, “This was a mistake. I don't need ... I don't want this. I have a husband.”
Bennette stood relaxed where he had been all along. “Yes, you do,” he said. “Mr Vanderhalen. But this is not about him. It is about you. Did you do your homework?”
She blinked in confusion and then said reluctantly, “I tried ...”
“And how was it?”
She shook her head. “It was ... embarrassing.”
“Tell me, Mrs Vanderhalen, do you make love to your husband with the lights on?”
She shook her head, looked down, but this time, at the carpet in front of Bennette's shoes and not at her clothes any longer. She hesitated for a moment, then her shoulders dropped and she whispered, “I don't ... he doesn't ... I ...” Her voice broke.
Bennette crossed the distance and took the naked woman in his arms. It was a light enfoldment; she did not reciprocate but she didn't draw back, either.
“How long?” he asked her gently. Into his shoulder, she said, “Two years now, this past July.”
Bennette took her by the shoulders and bent his head to the side to catch her eye.
“Your husband has not made love to you in two years?” he asked and the astonishment was clearly reflected in his voice. She nodded and hung her head even lower.
“And you? When was the last time you made love to you?”
She shook her head. Bennette put his finger under her chin and raised it again.
“Surely,” he said, “Surely, you must have sought a release? Now, be truthful with me.”
She blinked and a little moisture was escaping from her right eye. With a shuddering breath, she said, “Only a couple of times. A few times. But ... I don't like doing it ... It feels awful ... and afterwards, I always feel so ashamed ...”
Bennette drew her back into his arms, but this time, he embraced her strongly, drawing her to himself. Her hands came to his hips, then she moved forward into him and embraced him back.
They stood thus for a time, until Bennett bent, put his arm under her knees and lifted her up. Lynda put her arms around his strong neck and sighed.
Bennette carried her across to the black box, into the bright spotlights and sat down, arranging the woman so she was sitting sideways on his lap.
“This light ... these lights are very bright,” she said, scrunching up her eyes and wrinkling her nose. Bennette smiled at her and said, “These are the stage lights. You are the star of the show.”
She looked at him nervously but the lights above were too blinding, she had to close her eyes and turn her head away.
Gently, Bennette said, “I would love to show you all manner of things that can bring you joy, but in truth, you need a release. You need an orgasm. You need to come, above all else. There is too much energy locked up inside of you, and whilst that is so, you really can't expect to feel much pleasure.”
Lynda went very still and lay against his chest, with her eyes closed.
Bennette said, “This is a professional assessment. I diagnose you with a lack of sexual release, and the only remedy, indeed and absolutely the only remedy for this problem is for you to come. Not just once in a blue moon, at that. But as you can choose to take or not to take the pill the doctor has prescribed for you, you can choose whether you are going to come or not.
“Would you like me to make you come?”
Mrs Vanderhalen made the tiniest movement, a twitch with her head that may have been a small nod.
Bennette said, “You have to say this out aloud for the tape. Do I have your permission to make you come?”
She tensed up in his embrace and then said, muffled into his chest, “Yes.”
“A little louder please, for the tape.”
“Yes.”
“Very good,” said Bennette and with a fluent movement, turned at the hip, lifted her and moved her over onto the fur covered box, laying her down on her back. The three brightwhite lights straight above her caused her to shut her eyes tightly, but even so she could see three stars bright red behind her closed lids.
“Soften,” she heard his voice, “Let the support take all your weight. Let it take all the weight you carry, off your shoulders, off your hips and thighs, and off your knees and ankles.”
The naked woman on the black platform whose big, heavy breasts had fallen to either side gave a deep sigh.
“That's very good. You are doing very well.
“You are safe here. Safe with me, and safe from me. Here,” and he picked up the hand closest to him, enfolding it in his own, “If you want me to stop at any time, squeeze my hand. Alright?” The woman nodded and took another very deep sigh. Her hand twitched slightly in his and he asked, “Did you want me to stop?”
She shook her head. “No, sorry ...”
“That's alright,” he said, “You are doing very well.” On the “well,” he placed his free hand on her stomach, the palm of his hand directly over her belly button. He kept it there, heavy and hot, for a long time whilst Mrs Vanderhalen started to breathe more and more deeply.
“Very good,” he said softly. “That's very good.” He lifted his hand and now placed it just above her pubic bone, letting it rest there as though he was warming her.
Mrs Vanderhalen was moving, small, uncoordinated movements; a little twitch from her toes, a re-arranging of the thighs on the black fur beneath her. She moved her head from side to side too and was moistening her lips with her tongue. She had large dark rose aureoles which now tightened up and her small nipples were stiffening, becoming erect.
Bennet put his mouth to the nipple closest to him and breathed upon it, at the same time, he slipped his hand between her legs and started to explore her.
Mrs Vanderhalen squeezed his hand and opened her eyes, turned her head and looked at him.
“Is this really alright?” she asked in a whisper, “It doesn't feel right ... It feels like I'm cheating on my husband ...”
Bennette, whose hand was still between her legs, his middle finger placed against her entrance and the index finger resting on her clitoris, smiled at her.
“It is a form of a medical procedure,” he said. “For the sake of your health, you have to bear with it. But you can imagine it was your husband's hand,” here, he tapped lightly with his index finger, causing her to give a gasp and a shudder, “... if that helps.”
“No,” she said, “I don't think it would.”
She turned her head away, closed her eyes and sighed. Then she said, “Continue.”
Bennette put his mouth back to her breast and this time, sucked the whole teat into his mouth, stroking the underside with his tongue.
Mrs Vanderhalen arched her back, her grip on his hand tightened and this time, he moved right back, took his hand from between her legs too.
“No,” she said, “No, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ... Please, go on.”
Bennette replied, “Perhaps it's best if we have our hands free now. You can shout stop or no if you want me to stop.”
“Yes, yes,” Mrs Vanderhalen said, lay back again and closed her eyes. She laid both hands by her side, turning them to hold on to the black fur fabric instead, and opened her thighs for him.
Bennette looked at her for a moment and smiled, then he put his mouth and hand back to work. He started to create a rhythm that caused Mrs Vanderhalen to arch her back again, move her head from side to side and soon after that, her own hand found the free breast and she started to rub it. Not much later, and her other hand was clinging on to the fabric of Bennette's shirt, and it wasn't very long after that, and she came, her hips bucking up but she was biting her lips and not a sound escaped from her.
Bennette slipped his finger into her and this produced a startled gasp; he kept it there until the pulsing waves of her orgasm had receded, then stopped altogether. Mrs Vanderhalen gave a deep sigh and cautiously opened her eyes. Bennette still had his finger inside her. A small, hard spasm informed him that she was quite aware of this.
“That was very good,” he said to her. “Beautiful. You are a beautiful, healthy, vibrant lady, Mrs Vanderhalen, and so full of life.”
With that, he slowly withdrew his finger and held it up for her to see. Under the starry lights, it was glistening. As she watched in fascination, he brought his hand up to his face, touching his upper lip with it, drawing the scent in deeply through his flared nostrils. Then he placed his finger in his mouth and closed his eyes as he tasted her.
Mrs Vanderhalen was staring at him when he opened his eyes again and smiled. “Delicious,” he said. “You are simply ... delicious.”
Mrs Vanderhalen shook her head without taking her eyes off him.
A little while later, dressed once more and standing by the fountain which was lit fair turquoise from underneath and looked magical in the evening garden, Mrs Vanderhalen said to him, “What about you? Do you not ... get excited by this ... work ... you do?”
He had smiled at her and said, “Oh, very much so. If I am not excited, then how can my clients possibly be?”
“Do you have a wife? A girlfriend?”
Bennette laughed and shook his head. “No,” he said, then added, “Some clients have suspected that I review the recordings in the nights after they have gone, and take my pleasure in that way.”
The woman in the grey silk tracksuit had a flash of him looking at a screen which showed her lying naked on that black platform, writhing ... It took her breath away for a moment until she managed to ask, “And ... do you?”
Bennette had picked up her hand and kissed it, then he shook his head. “No my dear lady, I do not.” With this, he led her to the garden gate and bid her farewell.

 


A Real Gentleman
The Coylton Cut Above salon was very busy, and it was buzzing. There were now two major topics under discussion.
The first was how to persuade Deirdre Cannon to give juicy details of her meeting with the mysterious Mr Bennette.
But the red headed hairdresser and beautician, who was normally full of talk and tale, and not afraid to divulge the raunchiest of details blow by blow, was unusually reticent.
All she would say was that Mr Bennette seemed to be a very nice man, that he had told her he'd been informed that she was a spy, not a client; that he had been very kind and that they had talked about the business of making people feel better about themselves.
The manager of the salon and the other hairdressers knew her very well and they could tell that it wasn't the whole story. Deirdre would look away and also, she pronounced the man's name when it came up in a sentence in a hushed whisper, like this:
Deirdre, normal voice: “I would not be surprised if ...” Voice, dropping low, a small smile: “... Mr Bennette ...” Voice, returning to normal speed, pitch and volume, “... would come into the salon today and invite us all to a party at his place.”
“Ah!” cried Aria, a young, dark haired girl with Cleopatra makeup, a very trendy bob and as many fashion bangles strung and slung about her, including truly enormous earrings of triple hoops that kept touching her shoulders when she turned and bent her head, “You did it again! The way you say his name ... Deirdre is in love! Deirdre and Bennette, sitting in a tree ...”
“I'd rather know who the spy was,” said Deirdre, and set to teasing the customer's hair so furiously that the poor lady gave a yelp of protest.
Yes, the spy ... A list was drawn up of everyone who had known about the secret mission. Everyone was a suspect. The booking list was consulted to find out which customers had been in the salon at the time, and any incidental visitors added to the list. As the morning wore in, the opinion had swung to Deirdre just blurting it out herself, having lost her bottle. Or getting her story about the fictitional boyfriend with the premature ejaculation screwed up. Deirdre stood firm that someone else had told Bennette about it; but suspicion was gathering like a cloud of flies around poor Ms Cannon. By the time the lunch break arrived, she was standing outside by herself, with her back to the whole salon, smoking a cigarette and stomping her feet.
So Deirdre was perfectly placed to see Bennette stepping out of his shop, locking the door behind him, and striding across the road and the market square towards her.
He was dressed exactly the same as he had been the day before and Deirdre hastily threw her cigarette to the ground, then stood on it and waved herself with her bejewelled hands, watching him approach.
He started smiling at her from halfway across the market square; by the time he had arrived and stood before her, giving a bow and holding out his hand Deirdre was smiling too, from head to toe.
She gave him her hand and he breathed a kiss upon it; she giggled and fluttered her false lashes at him.
“Good morning, my dear Ms Cannon,” Bennette said brightly. “Is this a good time? Are you going to introduce me to your colleagues?”
Deirdre stopped smiling and looked down. She did not want to share him with the others.
Bennette stepped a little closer and said close to her ear, “We are still on for after work?”
She looked up at him, surprised and the smile returned to her. She nodded and placed a finger to her lips. Bennette gave her co-conspiratorial wink in return and Deirdre held open the door to the salon for him.
Bennette was old school charm personified. He addressed everyone as my lady, sometimes my dear lady; he kissed hands, smiled and ended up sitting half perched on the check in desk, charming the salon manageress, an older lady who was trying very, very hard to compete with her young employees, and making the young ladies giggle.
Then he invited everyone present to a tour of his premises and a glass of sparkling wine in the garden; tomorrow, Sunday evening around 8pm, just come along, of course you should bring your boyfriend, I would love to meet him too ...
“Oh my, what a man ...” the manageress sighed as Bennette strode across the street, on his way back to his own shop. Young Aria sighed in sync and said dreamily, “It's a shame he is so old ... such a shame ...”
One of the customers, many pieces of silver foil proruding from her head and with a pink bib around her neck said, “Such manners ... a real gentleman ...”
“I think he's creepy,” piped up another red head, Heather by name. Her red hair was blood red and long and straight, where Deirdre's was golden red and teased high on her head.. Heather was tall, model thin, wearing much less jewelry and in spite of the warm early September weather, a tight black turtle neck sweater. “All this hand kissing ... yuck, who does he think he is? Dr Who?”
Deirde said, “You should see him for a session. He'll sort you out, no trouble. Perhaps he could put a smile on your face for a change.”
Heather stuck a tongue pierced with silver stud out in return. But it was true that she was looking forward to seeing that strange man's house for herself.

 


“Hello?”
“Oh, ok, ahm, am I speaking to ...”
“The sex therapist. I am he. How can I help you?”
“I'm just, like wondering, if you ahm ... Ok, do you see, ahm ...”
“Homosexuals?”
“Yes,” a nervous laugh, clearing the throat.
“I most certainly do. What is your name?”
“Jim. My name is Jim.”
Laughter. “Second name, Morrisson?”
Silence.
Then, “How did you know that?”
“You said it just like he said it. At the airport.”
Silence.
Then, “I would like to come and see you.”
“I would like to see you too. Very much so. How does next Wednesday evening, 7pm sound?”
“This coming Wednesday?”
“That's right. Wednesday the 11th. 7pm. This is a complimentary 15 let's check each other out session.”
Nervous laughter. “Yes, that sounds fine. I will see you then.”
“Give me your name, Jim.”
“It's Kevin. Kevin McCarthy.”
“And your telephone number in case something comes up.”
Kevin McCarthy, who was calling from the one and only public phone box which stood by the side of the wall remnant on the eastern side of the market place, sighed and gave up his mobile phone number.
“Very good,” the man's smooth voice said. “I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, Mr McCarthy.”
The Yellow Sun Dress
Deirdre stood in front of the salon, a small nest of white filtered cigarette butts around her feet. Tonight of all nights, Mrs Stanford was dawdling around, checking books and working on the computer. Finally, the manageress in her too short, too tight black skirt and too low cut golden blouse emerged and locked up the front door. She noticed Deirdre standing there and asked, “Are you waiting for someone? Do you need a lift?”
Deirdre shook her head and said, “I'm going to meet someome later over in the Hen. Just having a cigarette and chilling a bit.”
“Ok,” said Mrs Stanford, “Have a good weekend. I'll see you on Monday.”
Deirdre smiled and watched her go to her car, and not until Mrs Stanford had messed around for ages, finally buckled herself in, labouriously three point turned her blue Vauxhall out of the tight parking spot and had driven away, beyond rear view mirror reach, did Ms Cannon look left and right again, threw her cigarette away and bounced quickly across the square and into the shadow of the shop's entrance archway.
She was about to press the doorbell, when the door opened. Bennette was standing there, wearing a white shirt which was unbuttoned at the top. He smiled, took her hand and quickly, drew her inside. He shut the door with his shoulder, pushed it to and drew Ms Cannon into his arms, kissing her deeply.
She responded automatically but then drew back. “Oh,” she said, “I'm sorry, I've been smoking ...” In response, he put his hand behind her head and kissed her so deeply and so profoundly that her knees went weak.
He let her come up for air and said, “I would very much like to fuck you, Ms Cannon. May I?”
“Oh,” she said again, looked up at him and he kissed her again, then picked her up and carried her enirely effortlessly up the flight of stairs.
On the landing, he halted and put her down. He kissed her again and this time, put his hands around her rounded behind, pulling her up towards himself. He was very hard and Ms Cannon gave a little gasp which he stifled very efficiently with his mouth and his tongue. He slid his hand into her cleavage, got underneath her left breast and pushed it up and over the top of her bra, her tight lycra dress. He stopped kissing her, looked down at her exposed breast, said, “Oh yes,” and put his mouth to it. Ms Cannon gave a little squeal and put her arms around his head, drawing him closer and pushing her hips towards him. He held her teat between his teeth for a moment, then picked her up, straight up this time, nuzzling his face into her breast as he carried her up the last short flight of stairs, down a corridor and into a bedroom which was softly lit and where a huge bed dressed in black silk awaited their arrival.
The walls of the room were dark red; an even darker red the carpeting. There was an enormous mirror behind the headboard, and another one on the facing wall; the effect of those two mirrors reflecting back on each other was otherworldly.
Ms Cannon however did not have an eye for interior decoration at this time; she was pulling his head up from her breast to kiss him again and was wrapping her legs around him, her short dress had ridden up all the way to her stomach, exposing her long, tanned legs and tiny black G string panties. Bennette deposited her on the bed, bracing with one arm, kissing her and with the other hand, undoing his trousers. Only moments later, and she could feel him push the thin fabric aside and he was inside her, big and wide, filling her up and she cried out, then again as he started to fuck her, hard, urgently, pushing her further and further up against the headboard. He bit down on her exposed breast, hard, and only moments later, first Ms Cannon and then Bennette himself came in rapid succession. “Oh, fuck, yeah!” cried Bennette, then again, “Yeah! Oh yeah!” He let his full weight fall onto the woman beneath him, who was staring up at the huge spotless mirror that was right above the bed and the exact same size and tried to figure out what had just happened.
Bennette was breathing hard into her hair; his dick was still inside her and he gave a long, slow sigh. “Ms Cannon,” he said into her hair, “Ms Cannon, that was fantastic. I really needed that. Thank you.”
He moved inside her; he was now soft but large and very much still there. Without volition, she contracted around him and he gave a sharp breath, raised himself up enough to be able to look down at her. “I wish,” he said and touched the tip of his tongue to her lips, “I wish we had time to do it again, right now, slowly, but I'm afraid I expected you much earlier and there is another client coming tonight.”
Ms Cannon reached up and stroked his hair above his ear. “I'm sorry,” she said and another contraction happened that made him take in a sharp breath and smile. “I'm sorry,” she started again, but once again, her muscles contracted around his dick and she could feel it growing inside her again. “I tried to get away as fast as I could ...”
Bennette moved his dick a little, and she gasped and contracted again. “You're too much,” he said softly, “You're too hot. I'm afraid we'll have to do it again.” And with that, he bent down and kissed her, but not gently; he forced her mouth open and started to fuck her mouth with his tongue, matching this to the rhythm of the small fucking movements he was making with his dick inside her. He pulled on the shoulder of her dress, hard; there was a tearing sound and then it slipped down her shouder, together with the bra strap and he pushed her other breast out and over, taking as much of it in his hand as he could, squeezing it hard. Ms Cannon moaned and started to writhe beneath him, and Bennette, who was still fucking her mouth, got into his stride and fucked her with long deep strokes. Her hips bucked up to meet him, her eyes were closed and her hands holding on to his shoulders, clawing into the fabric of her shirt.
Bennette took his tongue out of her mouth and said rhythmically, in time with his strokes, “Let - me- hear- you- make-some-noise. Turn me on, I want to hear you.” He reached down and pushed her thigh further out, further up, and started to fuck harder, really pushing into her, causing her breath to be pushed out of her, and this did create sounds on each inward thrust; finally, Ms Cannon let go and let her voice make sounds with her breath. Bennette responded to this by saying, “Yeah, that's right, that's want I want to hear. Come on, you can do it. You can scream for me, let it go, come on, let me hear you ...” He put both his hands on her breasts, supporting his weight and squeezing them up hard, and Ms Cannon then really started to scream and thrash and not soon later, came again, but this time, she came hard, and repeatedly, and clawed at his hands and arms with her long fingernails, then went limp. Bennette closed his eyes and focused on the sensations of her cunt; it only took him a few more fast, pounding strikes until he too came again, and this time, he simply roared.
He pulled himself out of her and let himself roll over to lie on his back. “Oh my fucking God, I needed that,” he said to himself and put his lower arm over his eyes.
Ms Cannon slowly tried to sit up and flinched as a double dose of semen bubbled up from out of her. Bennette looked across to her and reached out, put the back of his hand against her cheek. “Gorgeous,” he said to her, “You are a fucking revelation, Ms Cannon.”
“Deirdre,” she said, her voice small and high. “My name is Deirdre.”
Bennette rolled over and propped his head on his arm. He was still perfectly well dressed, only his dick was hanging out of his pants. Deirdre looked at it, looked at him and shook her head. She looked down at herself, at her bruised tits, at the crumpled dress around her middle and the soggy panties.
“Hey, “ said Bennette, “Do you have any idea how amazing you look right now? There is truly no better sight than a woman who has been well and truly fucked. And loved every moment of it. I would have a painting of you, just like that.”
Deirdre didn't know where to look. Everywhere and in every direction were mirrors, reflections, showing her in a state she had never been in before. At least not when she was sober, or so she could remember ...
“Look at me,” said Bennette. She complied.
“Don't you be ashamed,” he said. “Don't you ever, ever be ashamed of yourself. That is an order.”
She had to laugh at that and shook her head. “I have ... never ...”
“Fucked like this before?” Bennette enquired.
She nodded and shrugged her shoulders.
Bennette cautiously and very lovingly manouvred his large, limp dick back inside his trousers, arranged it with great care, lay back, raised his hips, zipped up his pants and buttoned them up.
With an energetic movement, he got off the bed, went around the other side and stood looking down at Deirdre, presenting as a police photograph of a dead hooker who had fallen prey to a serial killer, with her make up smeared, her dress torn, her private parts exposed, one leg straight, the other angled and bent at the knee, her hands palms up beside her, on the black silk sheets which were crumpled into rippled waves, a strange pale mermaid in a black ocean.
“Beautiful,” he said softly and smiled. “You stay there. Don't move. Don't move a muscle. I'll be back in a minute.”
With that, he went and opened a door at the back wall, behind and to the side of the bed. Deirdre closed her eyes and heard water rushing. He was drawing a bath for her. She did not want to think anymore, so she did as she was told and just lay there, and left it to him, to decide what ever would come next.
Later, as she walked uncomfortably back to the flat she was sharing with Aria from the salon, dressed in an inexplicable short yellow sundress and a white cardigan which Bennette had provided, she started thinking again. On how he had used no protection. On how she never even thought to bring that up. On how she hadn't known she could come twice without a break. And on the fact that she still didn't know his first name.

 

Sugar Lumps
At 7.30 precisely, Mr Paris rang the doorbell.
Bennette, dressed all in black, immaculate and freshly shaven, opened the door to him and led the old gentleman into the first room.
The fur covered box shaped object had been moved into the centre and was positioned directly beneath the central ceiling light with the black dome in the middle and the halogen star lights around the outside. These were dimmed at the moment to create a very intimate ambience.
Bennette indicated the master chair and Paris took a seat; Bennette sat down on the edge of the black plynth.
Paris, who sat as upright as he walked, said without having to be prompted, “I took your advice and was ... kind to my wife last night.”
Bennette nodded. “That is very good,” he said. “How was that for you?”
Paris gave a small shrug and looked over Bennette's head. “In its own way, easy. My wife has always been ... easy.”
“How old was she when you married her?”
Paris gave a small smile. “19.”
“Why did you marry her?”
“She was pregnant.”
This sentence stood in the intimate red room for quite some time.
“How many children do you have?”
“Two. Two girls. Seventeen and thirteen.”
“That can be exhausting, I would have thought.”
Paris sighed.
Bennette asked softly, “Have you considered a divorce?”
The old man gave a small laugh and shook his head repeatedly, then he relaxed a little into the big, square leather chair, allowing it to support him more. He closed his eyes and said, “Till death do us part.”
Bennette gave a little laugh as well. “In your case, that would be sooner rather than later.”
Paris opened his eyes and raised an eyebrow. “I am not dead yet.”
Bennette said, “You will be, soon enough. And before you get there, you'll become infirm. Feeble. Bed ridden. Bedpans, then nappies.”
Paris turned his head away and shook it again. He didn't say anything but Bennette saw him narrowing his eyes and struggling with emotion.
Softly, Bennette said, “How long have you been thinking about killing yourself?”
Paris replied, also softly, “On and off for the past seventeen years.”
“Since your first child was born?”
“Not my first child. My first child was my son. He is 60 now. I haven't seen him for years.”
“Tell me when it was that you first realised you have fucked your life up royally.”
Paris smiled and took a deep sigh. “It was ... “ He sighed again, then gathered himself and said, “It was the day after my retirement party. In the morning, over breakfast, my wife told me she was pregnant again.”
“And you thought to yourself ...”
“I am in hell,” Paris responded, softly.
Bennette nodded. “Does your wife love you?”
Here, James Elvin Paris sat up straighter and said succinctly, “My wife, sir, is a very stupid woman. To love requires a measure of intelligence, of which she has none.”
“A loyal dog can be a blessing,” Bennette remarked.
“Loyal? Now that's a word I have not heard in a long time.”
“Is she loyal?” Bennette asked again.
Paris sighed and moved in the chair. “She could be. If she was handled right.”
“And you're not handling her right?”
“No. I am not.”
“Why not?”
Paris turned his head and looked Bennette straight in the eye. “I have realised since our conversation yesterday that I have never forgiven her for ruining my life.”
Bennette said up straighter and said, “She was 19. And stupid. You were 61. Who was at fault here?”
James Paris let out a deep, long sigh. His shoulders dropped and he said, “You are right. My answer was incorrect. I have never forgiven me for ruining my life. And I sent myself to hell for it.” He gave as small laugh. “I made life hell for all of us. I am making life hell for my wife and my daughters.”
“Would you like to stop?” asked Bennette.
Paris nodded. “I am very tired ...” he said, “... very tired of it.”
Bennette asked, “Man to man, what would it take to make your wife the happiest woman on Earth?”
Paris laughed tiredly. “A platoon. A company. A battallion. A regiment ...”
Bennette sighed. “Come on now, sir. Please. You are a man of the world. Surely, you could draw me some diagrams how to please a lady and not a single young cock in sight.”
James Paris made a peculiar weaving motion with his neck but said nothing.
“Can you make her come for you? Three times a day? Breakfast, lunch and dinner? If you put your mind to it?” asked Bennette succinctly.
Paris sat forward in the chair, putting his hands together. “Yes, yes of course I can. I could if ...”
“If you wanted to do that,” Bennette completed the sentence for him.
“Yes,” said Paris. “If I wanted to do that.”
“Then want it,” Bennette said, seriously.
James Elvin Paris did not respond.
Bennette said, “You, sir, are looking at this whole thing the wrong way. You need to think of your wife in a different way. Making her come for you is like feeding a riding horse lumps of sugar from your hand. You don't do it because you enjoy it, you do it to make the beast more compliant and work harder to please you.
“It is a training aid. There is no end to what you can teach a horse in return for a few lumps of sugar. And the very fact that the beast knows you carry those lumps of sugar in your pocket causes it to pay more attention to every little thing you say or do.”
Paris had started to nod during this speech and now he was smiling. “There are no bad horses, only bad riders,” he said and Bennette laughed out aloud and cried, “Yes, sir! That is exactly right. So very perfect! I think I'll have that framed and put it in the place where my certificate hangs in the office!”
Both men laughed at this and Paris said, “You are right. You are right in everything you say. I married a beast and thought it was ...”
“A woman?” Bennette said softly.
“Yes,” said Paris, “A woman.”
“Like your first wife.”
Paris cast a glance of surprise at Bennette but then nodded. “Yes. My first wife was ... she was more than a woman.”
“A true partner?”
“Yes. Yes, she was. And I threw forty years of marriage away and went to hell.”
“Your first wife is dead, I presume?”
“Yes.” Paris sighed deeply. “She died of cancer when Katherine was two years old.”
“You broke her heart, I presume,” Bennette said it evenly and as a statement of fact.
Paris just nodded, then put his hand to his face, rubbing his eyebrows and his forehead.
“Alright,” said Bennette and stood up with a swift and explosive movement which caused the old man in the chair to startle and look up at him.
Bennette indicated the black plynth with his hand and said, “Lie down here. I will give you a special treatment.”
Paris did not ask what the special treatment might involve; instead, he nodded, pushed himself out of the armchair with an effort and walked across to the plynth, looking down on it. James Paris was a big man, his eyes nearly on a level with Bennette.
“Do I need to remove my shoes? My jacket?” he asked.
Bennette said calmy, “All your clothes please, sir.”
The two men locked eyes for a moment, then Paris gave the briefest bow of submission. Bennette stepped away to give him room, stood up straight, lifted his chin and put his hands behind his back. He watched the old man begin to remove his clothes, precise movements, military precision, folding each item and placing then on the chair.
Bennette observed how Paris was compensating for the fact that he found it difficult to bend down, and how Paris used the plynth to help him remove his shoes and socks, then his trousers. All items were arranged and aligned on and over the chair. Finally, Paris arranged his shoes to be perfectly parallel with the chair's edge and then he too, stood up straight.
James Paris had a remarkable body. It was much less wrinkled than his clothed appearance might suggest; although his neck was very wrinkled, the skin on his chest, stomach, arms and legs were much smoother. His muscles and sinews were clearly defined; he had a remarkable dick and heavy balls but not much pubic hair. The most striking thing about his body were the veins which could be clearly seen, sculpted beneath his skin, especially on the stomach and groin.
Bennette nodded and stepped up a little closer. Paris stood easily, clearly not ashamed of his body and seeming comfortable with Bennette's inspection at close range.
Bennette said calmly, “Do I have your permission to touch you?”
Paris put his head back slightly as he contemplated that question. Eventually, he gave a short nod.
“Could you please say yes out aloud, sir,” Bennette stated.
Paris cleared his throat and then said, “Yes,” clearly and precisely.
“Very good,” said Bennette. “And by all means, be at ease. I will not touch you in an inappropriate manner.”
James Paris gave a short nod.
Bennette stepped up close to stand directly in front of the man, took a deep breath in through flared nostrils, then he put his hands on the man's smooth shoulders.
Paris took an involuntary, sharp breath in; then he closed his eyes. His hands, which had been held behind this back, dropped by his side, the fingers lengthened, relaxed.
Bennette, keeping his hands cupping the older man's shoulders, leaned forward and placed his forehead against the forehead of the other man. So they stood for a time, until Paris's hands slowly began to rise and found a place on Bennette's hips, where they seemed to settle softly.
The two men stood until eventually, Bennette took a very deep breath and moved his head back. Both men opened their eyes at the same time, then both gave a very small nod at the same time, let go of one another and stepped back.
James Elvin Paris's dick was presenting at a light angle.
Bennette looked at it and as he did, the angle increased very slowly.
“Please,” Bennette said, indicating the plynth.
Without hesitation, Paris went to the plynth, sat down upon it, brought up one leg with care, then the other, moving himself across until he was lying in the centre, on his back, eyes closed, arms by his side and his legs close together.
In this position, his ribs were strongly defined, as were his hip bones.
Bennette stood for a time looking down at him. He sat down on a level with Paris's hips, and observed the man's penis which was now describing a soft arc. He turned his attention to the old man's face and gently, started to stroke his cheek with the back of his fingers.
Bennette drew the back of his fingers lightly across the man's lips, which opened in response, then ran his hand down the side of the chin, down the throat and into the deep dip between the strongly defined collarbones. Here, Bennette rested for a while.
It was very, very quiet in the room bar the two men's breathing. Paris's dick had relaxed again and was nestled between his thighs; Bennette noted this and nodded. He took his hand away, waited.
Eventually, Paris opened his eyes and looked at him.
“How do you feel?” asked Bennette.
Paris drew in a deep breath through the nose and answered in a whisper, “Calm. Peaceful.”
“Do you trust me?” asked Bennette.
Paris smiled. “No.”
Bennette smiled back at him. “Very good,” he said, “That's perfect.” He stood up and took off his jacket, placing it carefully over the back of the large arm chair, next to Paris's light coloured one.
He went to the the end of the plynth, behind Paris's head and knelt up on it, first one knee, then the other. Paris put his head back and looked up at him, very seriously.
Bennette put his hands under the man's shoulderblades and encouraged him to sit up, as he kept moving forward until he was kneeling upright on the plynth, and Paris was leaning back against Bennette's thighs. Bennette put his hands on the man's shoulders again, cupping them, then he kissed Paris on the top of the head, once, twice, and on third time, kept his lips there, very lightly just barely touching the man's brilliant white hair. Paris, eyes closed, was breathing very deeply and audibly, faster than he had before, and a little while later, started to draw up his knees, bend his head and round his spine. This drew his shoulder's away from Bennette's hands, and his head away from Bennette's lips; Paris pulled his knees closer, wrapped his arms about them and dropped his head into his knees.
Every vertebra in the old man's spine was perfectly outlined beneath his skin. Bennette moved up closer, then sat down behind Paris, putting his legs either side of the older man. Bennette moulded himself around Paris, and then put his arms about the man, holding him him strongly, placing his head so his cheek was laying against the top of the man's bent neck.
Softly but clearly, Bennette said, “I have your back, for as long as you need me.” He let go of the naked old man, a slow, gentle unweaving of the intense intimacy, and slid off the plynth.
Paris was raising his head, moving his neck, flexing his shoulders. He sighed deeply, and, still with his arms around his knees, asked, “What kind of therapy is this?”
“I practise the Sikorian method,” Bennette replied and sat down on a level with the old man's feet, angled towards him, with his hands folded in his lap.
Paris nodded. “It is a ... very unusual form of treatment,” he remarked.
Bennette smiled. “It is much needed.” He put one hand on the old man's foot and stroked it. “I think this is all we need to do tonight. I recommend you go home now, perhaps have a bath, and take it easy for the rest of the evening.”
Paris snorted. “I have a house full of insane women.”
Bennette stopped stroking his foot, looked directly in Paris's eyes and said, “Then it's about time father came home and laid down the law.”
Paris laughed out aloud at this. “Do you have any children? Teenage daughters?”
Bennette laughed back. “No, I am happy to say that so far I have avoided that fate.” He stood up, patted Paris on the shoulder and said, “When a little later on I will be relaxing with an excellent glass of red wine and some of my favourite music, I will be thinking of you.”
Paris turned and put his feet carefully on the floor, sat up straight. “Say a prayer for me.”
Bennette held out his hand which the old man took without reservation, and guided rather than pulled him into the standing position.
Very softly, Bennette said, “I shall be thinking of you, and I will be filled with bitter envy that I don't have two young women who always have been, always will be, and currently are hopelessly, helplessly and immortaly in love with me.”
The two men were standing so close together that Bennette could clearly see Paris's pupils dilating as the statement hit home, and how it took the man's breath away.
Very seriously, Bennette said, “It is entirely up to you that when it comes to it, and you can't defend yourself any longer, whether you will be touched with loving hands, or with hands that seek revenge. Now, still, that choice is in ... your hands.”
A shiver went through Paris, his lids flickered and then he bowed his head. Bennette nodded, took a deep breath, stepped back and picked up the old man's immaculate and beautifully folded pair of brilliant white cotton underpants.
He held them out to Paris and said, “We can talk about the different varieties of sugar for the horses next time we meet.”

Saturday Night, 9pm Approximately.

Mrs Lynda Vanderhalen is sitting in her pink, green and white flowered silk dressing gown in front her make up mirror. The mirror is large, oval, and has lights placed all around the frame to provide the best possible illumination.
Her hair is wet and combed back, very flat and dark.
She is wearing no make up of any kind. She is nude beneath the silk dressing gown; it is untied and open, revealing this fact.
She observes as the woman in the mirror, who has a very serious expression on her face, slides one hand beneath the dressing gown and starts touching her breasts.
The woman pushes the dressing gown over her shoulder and reveals herself on one side, then on the other as the dressing gown slithers deliciously down her back, slides from her thight.
She sighs as her other hand makes its way to the cleft between her legs, smooth, childlike the sensation.
In the mirror, behind the woman, in the shadows of the room, stands a man dressed in black, and he is watching her.


In his room, where all the walls and including the windows, are papered over with gothic posters, posters from old vampire movies, posters of heavy metal bands, Jason Durloch is trying to masturbate, using his favourite image collection before it will be burned to DVD, and the original files deleted.
He has been hard at work for at least an hour, and he is sore by now, very sore, yet still satisfaction eludes him.
There are flashes in his head, images overlaying what he is seeing on the screen, and he can't seem to keep anything steady for long enough to bring this endeavour which once was so easy to some kind of conclusion.
He gives up and lies on his bed instead.
Images and visions, sounds are still flashing through his mind, hard, fast, too fast, and his balls are hurting as though they were trying to turn to stone, his dick throbbing and vibrating, screaming for mercy, release, in his hand.
Amongst the flashes, there is one of Bennette, with a boy on knees before him, a blond boy, sucking Bennette's dick.
Durloch groans and tries to steer his mind away from that, re-gain some measure of control over himself, focusing on an old, long practised fantasy but it is faded, jaded, phases out and won't stand steadily.
Flash - brilliant, so defined, so clear ... Bennette is fully dressed in black, head to toe, just his dick is sticking out, the boy is working hard, Bennette puts a hand into his hair ...
Fuck NO! Durloch struggles with himself. His balls are in agony and he curls up on his side, trying to not ...
The boy is really working now, his head is bobbing up and down, and Bennette turns his head and looks directly into Jason's eyes ...
With a flash of excruiating pain, Durloch's dick explodes, a single ferocious discharge that makes him cry out aloud and leaves him senseless for a moment.
Mrs Durloch's voice.
“Are you alright, darling ...?”

The large kitchen of the old farm house does not have a single surface which is not overflowing with objects of one kind or the other. It is a chaos of books, bags, items of clothing, pots and pans, flower vases, pencils, knick nacks, bits and pieces, here, there and everywhere. The huge silver fridge is stuck and covered with notes and magnets, pieces of paper, children's drawins, and at the walls of the rooms countless shoes, carrier bags, magazines, more books and papers are piled up in unstable formations.
The floor too is covered with random objects and quite a bit of fruit; this is so because on the kitchen table, a large sturdy old affair made from pale wood, Mrs Paris the second is writhing out of control under her husband's hands on ministrations, filling in time before their youngest daughter would phone in and demand her personal taxi service to pick her up from a friend's house later on that night.


Deirdre Cannon is in bed, wearing a towel dressing gown under the sheets and a purple towel wrapped about her head.
For a moment, she is treasuring the silence as finally, her flat mate Aria and four of her friends had left in an explosive flurry of jingles, squeals and the clickety clack of high heeled shoes. They had tried and tried to make her get up, get dressed, it's Saturday night, what's wrong with you?
Josh could be at the Chilly Pink, don't you want to see him?
Eventually, Deirdre had feigned a stomach ache to make them go away.
Now, they are gone.
It is very silent in the room; outside, there are some laughs and voices, far away; some cars. A dog is barking.
Too quiet.
Deidre pulls Teddy Bob closer to her chest, turns and curls up around him. Teddy Bob is not offering much in the way of comfort tonight, but he is something to hold on to.
Bennette had pushed her out of the door. He had been so cheerful. He had not told her if he wanted to see her again. He had not given her the recording he promised, either.
He had a whole wardrobe full of women's clothes, all sorts, all sorts of sizes. Underwear too but he had not given her any. Just that yellow dress and a cardigan. He had kept her bra and panties, and the torn dress. He had sent her home wearing nothing under that dress. He didn't know where she lived. It could have been miles to walk for all he knew, for all he cared.
Her bra and panties would be washed and join his collection, she realises and gives a sob into Teddy Bob's furry ear. How many women had he done this to? Who had been the last owner of that yellow dress?
Deirdre feels terrible. Her stomach hurts. Her lower parts are sore, throbbing. No protection. She is afraid.
But most of all, she is afraid that next time she sees him in the street, he will look straight through her, as though she doesn't exist at all.
Wikipedia Entry:
The Sikoria Method (TSM)
(Also known as The Sikorian Method)
The Sikoria Method (TSM) was developed in the mid 1920s by the German science fiction author Nicholas Sternenfelder (1888 - ?) as an alternative to psychoanalysis designed to heal sexual problems.
Highly controversial as it entails direct physical contact, often of a sexual nature, between the practitioner and one or more clients, the Sikoria Method was outlawed in Germany, and in 1926 Sternenfelder relocated to Switzerland.
Sternenfelder disappeared shortly after the Sikorian Institute was established in 1927, but his followers continued to teach the practises.
Today (as of 2012) it is estimated that there are more than 10,000 TSM practitioners around the world.
A clinical trial was proposed to test the supposed effectiveness of the Sikoria method in 2008 but had to be abandoned as no certified practitioner could be found who would be willing to engage in it.
The Sikoria Method is shrouded in secrecy and has numerous levels of initiation. Original documents hand written by Sternenfelder as well as early film and photographic evidence pertaining to the performance of TSM are held in the Sikorian Institute's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
References:
The Devil Lives In Sikoria: An essential guide for all Christians (Rev. Gregor, 1933)(OOP)
The Sikorian Method: A Skeptic's View (Kurzschwanz, 1997)
Surviving Sikoria: You Won't Believe What He Did To Me (Crunch, 2002)
Sternenfelder & Sikoria: An annotated bibliographical survey of primary and selected secondary literature (Bidmas, 2006)
A Sikorian Anatomy: Laying It Bare (Grabb & Shuster, 2008)

 

A Little Gathering
The first arrivals for Mr Bennette's little gathering on Sunday night was a throng of people who had clearly met somewhere else before and sought safety in numbers.
At the head of the party was Mrs Gloria Stanford, manageress of the Cut Above, dressed in a super tight, super short black dress with a deeply plunging neckline. She had a turquoise scarf around her shoulders and she was the one who had rung the doorbell.
“Please, come inside!” Bennette smiled radiantly as he kissed the lady's hand who giggled like a school girl. “Go right through to the garden, and help yourself to the refreshments in the conservatory.”
Stretching her neck and looking this way and that, Mrs Stanford started to walk down the hall. The first door on the left was locked, but the second she passed was open and showed the therapist's office. The third door was open also, this was a brand new kitchen with a pale pink marble floor and black, high shine modern fitments and a silver grey marble worktop that sparkled stars from the illuminations set beneath the hanging cupboards.
To the right, and now past the stairs, there was the entrance to the conservatory. A very large white leather seating group was wrapping around the left wall; on the opposite wall, tables with white table cloths down to the floor held artistic arrangements of fruit and flowers, interspersed with different types of wines in coolers, with their matching glasses set out before them.
Mrs Stanford stepped out into the garden. It was not quite dark outside yet; the sky a deep royal blue. There were small coloured lights in the shrubs and trees, in the climbers that clung to the walls. The fountain was lit, bright turquoise and looked quite magical.
Mrs Stanford sighed and smiled. This might just turn out to be a very pleasant evening, she thought and went to get herself a drink.
The others from the salon were starting to drift in too now; each one having been personally greeted by Mr Bennette at the door.
Mrs Stanford assumed the position of the hostess. She went to look at the labels of the wines, squinting down but then giving up and extracting a pair of black rimmed spectacles from her purse, putting them on her nose, lifting the bottles and examining the labels. She was no connoisseur but she could tell that these wines were very, very expensive. Mrs Stanford isolated the sparkling wines, the still whites, the roses and the reds, and right at the end she found a red sparkling wine which surprised her.
She poured herself a glass of this and found it surprising, very interesting, then set about explaining the progression of wines to each new person as they arrived.
Aria, with brand new blue streaks in her black bob and Massai warrior spears for earrings for the occasion, chose to start with a sparkling white and told Mrs Stanford that Deirdre had some kind of stomach bug. “She seems really low,” Aria said, “I really think she should see a doctor.” Mrs Stanford shrugged and said, “Yes. But she's not missing out too much, she's been here before.”
She turned to a customer who had brought her husband; this had been the lady who had been in to have her hair freshly streaked when Bennette had visited. She was a large lady withshort curly red hair and a sparkle in her eye; her husband likewise was smiling, clearly well liked and relaxed. The pair were the joint owners of Coylton Motors Ltd. and the envy of many in the village.
“Anna! Bert! Oh it's great that you managed to make it!” Mrs Stanford was sincerely pleased to see him and counted the Rush couple amongst her oldest and most loyal friends.
“Wild horses couldn't keep me away!” laughed Anna Rush, which set all of her jingling under her voluminous red dress with large black flowers. Her husband smiled at her fondly and then said, “I think Bennette is a very clever man. That's good marketing. Inviting the beauty salon - clever fella!”
“He is so charming,” said Mrs Stanford. “Really you wouldn't think it to look at him, he looks so stern but he's really funny, he had us all in stitches.”
Anna Rush, who had been there, nodded enthusiastically. “If I ever needed a sex therapist, he'd be the one for me,” she laughed and her husband didn't smile quite so happily at that, and raised both eyebrows.
At this point, Bennette walked into the brightly lit conservatory and there was not a person who could take their eyes off him.


Sunday Night Vignettes

Bennette, standing before the first room door, his hand resting on the gold doorknob, explaining to the guests that this room was only for clients and no-one else ever had access to it.
The guests, speechless, in the 2nd floor bedrooms and bathrooms, Anna Rush staring up at the huge mirror above the black silk bed while in her periphery, the other two mirrors reflected back and back on each other, her husband standing sill and the endlessly reflecting multitudes of the other guests moving, multicoloured.
The whole party in the garden, listening to Bennette talk about sensitivity, and trying out the beginner's touch exercise in the palm of each others hands for themselves, laughing and giggling.
Bennette, talking to Aria about Deirdre. “Give her my best regards and say that she was missed,” Bennette instructed the short girl who looked up at him with her big brown eyes, not blinking.
Heather and her two friends, a dark skinned girl and a very handsome, thin young man who seemed to share Jason Durloch's taste in clothing, having tried the first door but finding it locked, now in the office, the dark skinned girl on the couch and Heather sitting in the red chair, giving good advice on her sex life, trying to mimick Bennette's voice. There is a slow clap and Bennette is leaning against the door frame. He looks only at Heather and smiles, then lets himself roll around the doorframe and disappears.
Bennette saying to Mr Rush, “Your wife is such a happy lady. A true credit to you, sir.” Rush looks up at the man in black in surprise and finds himself saying, “Ah ... Thank you ...” Bennette touches him on the upper arm, briefly, and walks away.
Late arrivals, the massage therapist from the salon, a very big young lady with blond hair cut very short and lovely green eyes by the name of Sally Windon, with her friend, a thin, entirely unremarkable woman who could have been anywhere between 18 and 50, with curly brown hair, unfashionable glasses and appearing to not just stand in Sally's shadow, but to actually be her shadow, looking at Bennette as he is talking about the Sikoria method. The unremarkable woman by the name of Alice Cartwright has a frown on her face and keeps looking to her friend. Sally is flirting with Bennette, and Bennette is flirting back, both of them becoming enlivened by this whilst Alice Cartwright seems to shrink more and more into herself, a shadow receding under the onslaught of a double sun.
Mrs Stanford, laughing, with her hand blocking the fountain in the courtyard at chest hight, splashing water onto herself and the remaining guests before she is being led away, a little worse for drink, by Anna and Bob Rush.

Around 10pm, Bennette started thanking his guests for the true pleasure of their company. People were disappointed but each one the ladies received a hand kiss, the gentlemen a meaningful handshake, as also each one received a business card from Mr Bennette, including Heather's friend Stephen, with the comment of, “You never know when a friend might need a sex therapist,” which had made everyone laugh and caused Stephen to take the card and put it into the back pocket of his black leather pants.
By 10.15pm, Bennette shut the door behind the last guest to leave, young Sally Windon, who had not received a kiss on the hand but a kiss on the cheek instead which had been just a little longer than was strictly professional.
From 10.30 onwards, Bennette received a stream of ever more incoherent text messages from Mrs Stanford. He propped his mobile phone up in the kitchen and amused himself reading these whilst washing the delicate, superb crystal champagne flutes, white wine, red wine and sweet wine glasses in a sink filled with warm water and just a single drop of washing up liquid.
At 11.15pm, just as Bennette had finished folding up the starched white linen table cloths, the phone rang.
He smiled as he saw the number and did not pick up. This was not a night for Deirdre Cannon.
At 11.30, he received a short text message signed Sally x.
It read:
Thank you for a lovely evening.
No smiley faces, no abbreviations.
Bennette smiled and texted back,
My pleasure. Sweet dreams. NLB
Then he turned off his phone.


Probably Not Nero
Monday morning in the salon. It was a quiet day, it rained in the night and now everything was misty, still, the trees and bushes dripping and the sounds of the rare cars that would pass by the shop hissing and hushed.
There were only a few customers in the shop, taking advantage of the early bird offer; these were older ladies, who all belonged to the Christian ladies association which meant that talk about Mr Bennette and his party had to be significantly curtailed.
Young Aria came up with a game however; it was to try and guess Bennette's first name and his middle name. The game was being played by Aria, Heather and the customers. Mrs Gloria Standford and Ms Deirdre Cannon kept quiet. Both had a lot of makeup on this morning, even more so than usual and their lack of spirit was attributed to a major hangover and the residual effects of food poisioning, respectively.
“Napoleon,” suggested Mrs Agnes Blakelock, who was the grandmother of Aria on the father's side.
“That might even be right,” her granddaughter replied, rolling a tight blue curler into her grandmother's hair. “He looks like a Napoleon.”
Heather, who was trimming the very, very tiniest ends of another Christian ladies thin, wet white hair, said, “Wonder how you would abbreviate that. If he was your boyfriend. Nape?”
Giggles went around the salon which once again, did not touch Gloria and Deidre; they both sighed and continued with their work, typing into a spreadsheet and pulling little strands of hair through a silicone hat, respectively.
“God, I hope it's not Neil,” Deirdre's customer said. “I went out with a Neil once ...”
“Nero,” the elder Mrs Blakelock said. “That's my friend's Susan's uncle's dog,” young Aria retorted.
Still, all suggestions were added to a piece of paper and even with the Christian ladies present, Mr Bennette and his very existence helped pass the time.


“Hello, and thank you for calling. This is Mr Bennette, the sex therapist. I'm sorry I can't come to the phone right now. Please leave your name and number and I will phone you back.”
“Oh, Mr Bennette? Listen ... ah ... ahm ... this is ahm ... Mrs Stanford, Gloria. I really just wanted to apologize for last night ... that ahm red wine at the end? Yes, so ... just really wanted to say I'm sorry.” An embarrassed giggle. “And thank you so much for the lovely evening, we all really enjoyed it. And ... ahm, if you want to pop over, or you can call the salon, I'm here right now, make an appointment for a manicure as we were saying earlier, on the house of course, Josie comes in from two o'clock most days but we can find a time to suit you ...
“Yes, so, come over. Thanks, bye ...”

 


The List So Far
On the staff noticeboard of the Coylton Cut Above salon:

Napoleon
Nelson
Nemo
Neo
Neal
Nigel
Nestor
Neville
Nicholas
Noel
Norbert
Norman
Norris

Ladislav
Liam
Lex (Luther)
Leroy
Logan
Lewellyn (sp?)
Lamar
Lucius or Lucien
Luis
Lamont
Leopold
Lancelot
Lyndon
Landon
Luke or Lucas
Lavant
Leonidas
Ludwig
Larry
Leslie
Latimer
Lawrence
Lorenzo
Lorne
Lucifer

 

“Hello, is this Mr Bennette?”
“It is he. How ...”
“Yes, good. My name is Dr Barbara Potter, I am a clinical psychologist, based in Wyndham. I understand you practice the Sikoria method?”
“That is correct.”
“I am interested in finding out more about it. How is this achieved?”
Silence.
Count: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ...
“Dr Potter, I offer a fifteen minute free introduction session. Perhaps we can start there.”
“Yes, that would be acceptable. Mornings work best for me.”
“How about tomorrow at 10pm, Dr Potter?”
“Checking, yes, I am free. I will see you tomorrow at 10pm.”
“Looking forward to ...”
Click.

Our Kind
At 3.30, James Durloch was delivered to the shop at 23 Market Street by his mother; a spontaneous appointment arranged around lunchtime by Mrs Durloch who was quite excited that her boy had asked her move up the next meeting with Bennette “to give him the confidence he needed to try out for the senior B football team on Tuesday.”
Bennette, who was normally well in control of his emotions, had to mask the laughing fit that overtook him with a prolonged coughing bout and explained further outbreaks of clearing his throat repeatedly with the possibility he had caught a chill at the garden party.
Jason, wearing neither mascara nor lipstick and missing his upturned cross, carrying a medium sized silver metal suitcase under his arm, walked right in and past Bennette. In the hallway he turned around, lifting up the suitcase and said, “Now I really have brought you my porn collection. Where are we taking this?”
“Office today,” Bennette said and Jason turned and went in that direction.
“Put it on the couch.”
Jason placed the silver suitcase on the couch, sat down next to it and patted it with his hand. He was not smiling. He pulled a leather band from his top which had two small silver keys attached.
Bennette sat down on the red leather chair, folded his hands in his lap and looked at the suitcase.
“Is that everything?” he asked softly.
Jason nodded. “Everything,” he replied, very congruently. “This took years to assemble. I hope you appreciate that.” His hand with the filed black fingernails and the gothic metal jewelry stroked the case lovingly, sensuously.
Bennette said, “It's not everything. One thing is missing. A book.”
Jason Durloch narrowed his eyes. “What makes you think that?”
Bennette shook his head. “I didn't think it. I saw it. Wait a moment ... antiquarian ... black and gold ... oh you have got to be joking. Justine? Really?”
Durloch went pale and clearly started to sweat. “How could you possibly know that?” he whispered.
Bennette made a small dismissive gesture with his left hand. “Where is it?” he asked calmly.
Durloch swallowed hard, tightened up his hands and took a deep breath. “Why don't you tell me, Mr Psychic?”
Bennette put his head to the side and smiled. “Garden shed. Right hand side, low down. In a plastic ziplock bag beneath an old metal tray.”
Durloch's mouth fell open, then he said angrily, “My fucking mother found it. Fuck. She fucking found it and told you.”
Bennette smiled. “Did she?”
Durloch was angry and sweating harder now. “If she didn't, then how do you explain to me that you know that?”
Bennette shrugged and said, “I saw it when I asked you where it was. You thought of it and I saw it.”
“That's ridiculous. You can't read my mind. You're fucking conspiring with my fucking parents behind my back, playing fucking mindgames you fucking old cunt pervert cunt!” Durloch had sprang to his feet during this passionate speech and stood leaning towards Bennette, his fists clenched.
Bennette did not move and replied calmly, “Get control of yourself, Jason. I am not conspiring with your parents. And I can't read your mind as such, but I get flashes. Especially with someone like you who produces them so clearly, and so powerfully.”
Jason shook his head, again and then again. “No,” he said, “I'm not buying that. Not for one minute. If you can read my mind, then what am I thinking of right now?”
Bennette looked up at angry young man who was standing before him and replied, “The first thing was a sexual scene featuring myself with ... a young man. The second was an image from your silver case which I am afraid I cannot describe in a conversation with someone of your age, but I can tell you that there were a number of men waving cowboy hats and smiling in the background.”
Durloch's shoulders dropped. “But that ... that is ... impossible,” he said.
“Sit down, boy,” Bennette said. “I told you that I know things that you don't even know you don't know. This is one of them.”
The young man with the assymetric haircut which was not spiked up today let himself drop onto the therapy couch, then he moved away from the silver case, and again, until he was at the foot end of the couch where he sat, holding on to the the seat either side as if he was sitting in a small rowing boat in a stormy sea and was afraid he would be tipped overboard at any moment.
Bennette sat forward and put his elbows on his knees. Seriously, he said, “I will not conspire with your parents against you. You can trust in that.”
When Jason did not respond and continued to look straight ahead and down, Bennette said, “Look at me and make a judgement. Don't just look at me. Really open your eyes. See me, hear me, feel me in your body. Scent me, taste me on your tongue.
“Then tell me if I am lying to you.
“I will say it again, I am on your side, 100%, no holds barred. None.”
Jason Durloch nodded slightly, then took a deep breath through flared nostrils. His shoulders dropped and he let go off the couch, rubbing his hands as though he was washing them.
He put his fingers into his hair, shook his head and then said, “Two questions. If you can read my mind, if you can take images out of my mind, then can you also put them in? Have them be anything you want them to be? And this being so, how can I ever possibly trust you?
“And the other question, you say you are on my side. Why?”
Bennette smiled and said, “I lost count there along the way. Let's start at the end and work backwards. So here it is. Pay attention.
“You must surely know by now that you're not like the other children in the playground. That you think thoughts and have ideas and feelings they couldn't even consider in their wildest dreams.
“You must know that you are very, very different to the people around you. Especially when compared to your own parents.”
Jason nodded and sighed. “This is true,” he admitted.
Bennette continued. “You don't know what's wrong with you. You can fit in anywhere you want, but nothing really fits you. Everything is like a strange parade, a crazy charade of fools dancing and most of the time, living hurts your head. It hurts your brain, it hurts your stomach and no matter how hard you try, nothing makes sense. Especially not you.”
Jason nodded. He had run out of words. It was inconceivable that after all this time, here seemed to be someone who had at least an inkling of what he was struggling with, every single day, every second, without a fail. He did not allow himself to raise his hopes though. He had always been disappointed.
Bennette said, “The fact is that there are such people as you, and me. Extraordinary people. They seem to pop up here and there, it could be anywhere, but they are different. And as this difference is not recognised, not celebrated, and they are left to their own devices, in an ocean of people who simply do not understand, they can go three ways.
“They can become saints, or they can become demons. Or they kill themselves in oh so many different and inventive ways. That's your time, your life, laid out right there before you.
“But there is a forth choice at these crossroads. A fourth path. Only it is so little known that so few of our kind ever find their way to it, and that way, lies salvation.”
“Our kind ...” Jason said it very softly.
“Yes,” said Bennette. “Our kind. The kind of people who can watch that surveillance recording I sent home to your mummy and daddy and jump up and scream, for the love of God, don't let that man near my child!”
Jason Durloch put his hands before his face, flat hands. “I screamed at them, are you blind? Deaf? Can't you hear what he's saying?”
“And the answer is?” prompted Bennette.
Jason let his hands fall down into his lap. With resignation and sadness in his voice, the young man replied, “They can't hear it. They can't see it. It's like they're missing something ...”
“Exactly,” said Bennette. “And the operative word is, they. They are missing a data set that they're not picking up on. They don't have the antennae to pick up what lies above and below the ordinary. But you do. And that's exactly the problem.”
Jason took a deep breath in and sat up straighter. “And ... if we played them this recording?”
“What do you think? You're the expert on them. What would they hear, see?”
Jason shook his head in true amazement. “They would see ... nothing. Just me and you talking. And perhaps that bit where I called you an old fucking pervert cunt.” He grinned at that. “Yeah, that they would hear.”
Bennette laughed. “Right. That they would hear. But they still wouldn't understand it at all, and that's the big mistake you're making. I completely understood what you were saying to me. All they hear is the words.”
Jason shook his head. “I don't even know how you ... how anyone ... “
“Yes, exactly. You don't understand their worlds, or yours. You are completely confused and more than that, red raw and bruised from the endless collisions between your world, and that of those who are supposed to care for you, or keep you safe.”
Jason was breathing rapidly. His hands were making small twitching movements and his eyes were flashing rapidly from side to side, up and down, trying to process this new information, trying to re-interpret his entire history to date with what he had just learned.
Bennette stood up and went over the young man, held out both hands to him. Jason took them. Bennette drew him up and into an embrace, a deep embrace, wrapping himself around the younger man and putting his head on Jason's shoulder.
For a moment, it seemed as though Jason was going to start to cry but then he quietened, seemed to relax and turned his head so he could lay his cheek against Bennette's chest. Bennette put one hand around the back of the young man's head, drawing him close and holding him tightly.
So they stood for a long time, until eventually, Bennette let go and stepped back.
“Come with me,” he said and led the young man out into the garden, to the fountain.
“This is fresh water, “Bennette said. “Wash your hands and your face, put some water in your hair. There are no surveillance cameras here but we really do not have longer than perhaps two minutes, tops, to talk freely. Do you understand?”
Jason nodded and put his hands in the water, spreading his fingers. The wind shifted slightly and a spray fell on both men, making Jason jump aside and Bennette closed his eyes and smiled, enjoying the sensation.
“Alright,” said Bennette. “Understand me. I don't want to fuck you. Well, I might want to but this is not my primary objective here. Don't play that game with me. Let us put that aside for now. What I need is for you to stabilise and learn some things you need to save your life. You've played a good game, an intelligent game with that whole goth/vampire thing, that is so much better than laying it out for all to see that you're a serial killer in the making. I commend you on this strategy.”
Jason was washing his face in the fountain and running his wet hands over his hair. He nodded. “I thought that too. That's why I did it.”
Bennette said, “It brings its own problems. Start toning it down. Get some new posters. Lord of the Rings or something like that. Start a progression that shows you're coming out of your teenage tantrums.”
Jason nodded, then he frowned. “Do I really have to try out for the fucking B football team? Seriously?”
Bennette didn't laugh. “Seriously. You know what that will do for your father.”
“Yes,” said Jason.
“How are their finances? Can they afford this?”
“Oh yes,” said Jason. “My father owns a huge builder's wholesaler in Wyndham. Shitloads of property too. They're rolling in it.”
“Start thinking in terms of their money being your money. Take an interest. This is your material base and you're lucky to have it. You know they will give you anything at all if you just play their game, don't you.”
Jason looked up at him with suspicion. He was entirely transformed with his hair wet and slicked back. “Everybody wants me to play the game.”
“We're playing on a different level. You need to learn to play on a different game board, actually. Now, we need to go back inside.”
Bennette left and Durloch followed. At the entrance to the conservatory, the young man put his hand on Bennette's arm, who stopped and turned around.
“Can you do something with my mother? She's driving me fucking crazy. Get her to back off a bit?” When Bennette didn't immediately respond, the young man added, “I have seen what you can do. You can do this if you want.”
Bennette looked at the boy from under half closed lids. “What exactly are you saying?”
James looked right back. “You know what I am saying.”
“I do but I would love to hear you say it out aloud.”
Jason grinned and dropped his head. “Alright then. Do something about her. She needs a good fuck.”
Bennette laughed and said, “Welcome to my world!”

 

Back in the office, Bennette said, “Put that case over there, next to the desk. You can bring the missing item on Thursday.”
Jason obeyed. “Do you want the key?”
“No,” said Bennette, “You can keep that for now. Don't take it off though.”
Jason went to sit on the couch, then he smiled and lay down.
“I've often wondered what it might be like to lie on a therapist's couch and be psychoanalysed.”
“You have to keep wondering,” said Bennette. “I don't do that.”
“No,” said James. “You are not that kind.”
“Indeed not,” Bennette replied.
For a while, neither man said anything at all, until James said, “I wish we could talk freely. I wish you would turn your cameras off.”
“I often wish that too,” Bennette said softly and leaned right back in the leather chair, letting his neck drop over the back. “But I cannot. Laws of the land and all of that.”
“How am I supposed to talk with you and trust you if at anytime anyone can listen in to what I was saying? What we were doing?”
Bennette shrugged. “It's the game as it is played. Let us go to another level. Tell me what I'm doing with the box and the key.”
James thought about it. “You are holding my fantasies but I still control them.”
“That's very good,” said Bennette. “Very good. Let's take this a little further though. I am holding not your fantasies. They are not static, they are being freshly generated every time. What I am holding is your past. Your mis-spent youth, as it were.”
Jason nodded. “You're not wrong. It was strange, a relief to put all those things into that suitcase. It felt good.”
“That's because what is in that suitcase is crap.” Bennette stated it easily and went on, “Rubbish, bullshit, scheisse, merde, in any language you would say it in.” The he gave a small laugh and said, “Apart from the one piece you didn't put in the box. Although it is royally fucked up, it has some reality to it. It has some soul, even if it is a black and twisted one.”
James sat up so he could look at Bennette. “Yes, that's right, that's what I always felt about it. That it was real, realler than ...” the young man shook his head, “Realler than my own life.”
“That's the first step,” said Bennette. “You have to learn to trust your feelings. Trust your gut. Not to question yourself so much. You are much, much righter than you think. Even when you go seriously off the edge, you are still much righter than most people will ever be.”
“The antennae,” Jason said softly.
“Exactly. You took one look at me and you knew I was going to be trouble.”
Jason laughed out aloud at that. “Damn right. How can anybody not notice that? In fact, how can anyone seriously hire you, of all people, as a sex therapist? It's crazy.”
“It's a dual thing,” Bennette replied. “They can't read me on the one hand, and on the other they are fucking desperate. Fucking desperate. Desperate to give over control to me, desperate to feel something, desperate for anything at all that is even slightly out of the ordinary. Desperate. Hungry. Starving to death for it.”
“You can do with people pretty much anything you want, can't you,” Jason said it throughtfully and ran his hand over his slicked back wet hair.
“Yes,” said Bennette simply. “You know how that works. You do it all the time. Not very elegantly but you know you can make people do things.”
Jason nodded. “I got bored with it a while ago. It was fun at first but ... “ he sighed deeply, “What's the point?”
“Ah!” said Bennette, sat forward and put his hands flat together, indicating Jason by pointing at him, “That's exactly the right question to ask. What is the point? What do you want?”
Jason said, “I honestly don't know. I can ever only think of what I don't want. And that's so much, it's like ... everything.”
“Here's the deal,” said Bennette. “There are things that would make you happy if you only knew they existed so you can want them. But you don't know they exist, because you've never met anyone who had those things. Like a kid in a starvation camp in Africa. He's never seen a watermelon, never heard of a watermelon, so he doesn't know to want one. All he knows is stale energy biscuits and some disgusting gruel.”
“What kind of things? You know I'd pay you myself if you could point the way to a watermelon. Just one. I'm fucking parching, starving, all at the same time.”
“And that's exactly right. You are. And it doesn't matter how often you toss off, it's not hitting the spot, is it. Alright, I'll tell you some things. You can walk past the buffet and don't look but feel with your body, feel it with your body, what you might like.
“Here's my favourite one.
“Falling in love.”
Jason turned his eyes up and laughed tiredly. “You have got to be joking. You have got to be. Falling in love? Really?”
“Yes,” Bennette said sincerely. “Yes, really. It's ... an extraordinary experience when it happens, and it leads you into the most extraordinary experiences when you are in love. Everything changes. The sky is bluer, sugar tastes sweeter and salt tastes saltier. It's like your senses explode and the world becomes magical, or rather, the real and existing magic of the world becomes revealed.”
Jason was shaking his head and couldn't stop shaking his head.
Bennette said, “I know why you're shaking your head. You've seen and heard people say they're in love, or they love each other, or they love you, and you know it's just crap again, bullshit, scheisse, merde in any language. You know that because you can feel there's nothing there, only words and delusion.
“But just because those muppets out there try and play at love without knowing what that is doesn't mean there isn't real love. There is. You can fall in love. That's the 101 of human existence, and until that's happened, you really haven't started yet to know what it's like to be a real human being.”
“So what am I supposed to do about it? Go back to school tomorrow, pick one of the useless cunts there and hope for the best?”
“Really, my dear boy, really.” Bennette shook his head. “Tomorrow, you're trying out for the football team. Put your not inconsiderable talents to it and get on the fucking team. And show those muppets how to play the game. They don't know that any more than they know how to fall in love, or how to make love, or how to cook a decent dinner, even.”
Jason was about to say something when he stopped himself, thought about it some more and then he said, “You are telling me there is just one thing, one ... strategy? that underlies ... everything?”
Bennette smiled and bowed. “You are a very, very smart young man,” he said. “That is exactly what I just said.”
“And it's ... in essence ... like ... falling in love? There is something the same about all of that?”
Bennette stood up from the chair and said, “You are amazing, do you know that? I am so very glad I found you before you had time to do some of the things you were planning to do. Seriously. Where do the horizons lie when a nation keeps its organic minds in a cellar, dark and grim?”
“They must be ... very dim,” Jason completed the quote in a hush. He was now very serious and stood up too, facing Bennette squarely on.
Bennette took the step forward and placed his hands on the young man's shoulders.
“It is so easy,” he said. “Look into my eyes and forget everything else. Let the whole world fall away and burn if it wants to. Make me the only thing that exists in the entire Universe. Give me your undivided attention.”
Jason stared up at Bennette who was very calm, very serious. Bennette's light eyes seemed to be shifting, many colours coming and going, dark jade deep sea ocean waves, soft grey green elder forests, blue autumn skies with hazy white clouds drifting by ...
James Durloch found himself saying,
“I do not know who you are.
“I want to know you.
“Show me who you are.”
For just an instance, colours and spinning, whirling images flew towards him, a storm of lives and experiences, so much, too much ...
With a gasp, Jason Durloch stepped back and away from Bennette who was still holding is hands as though he was holding Jason's shoulders.
Durloch found he could hardly breathe and that he was trembling; his whole body was shaking, fast aftershocks of an unknowable event which was entirely unlike anything he had ever known existed.
Bennette slowly dropped his hands and said softly, slowly, “Our kind does not concern themselves with cars, with money, with mortgages; our kind cares not for armies of ant people shouting our name. Our kind is not interested in politics, wars or fashions of art; it is a different world, a different life, and I can assure you that it is extraordinary, breathtakingly beautiful and as it so happens, it is your right of birth, your kingdom too.
“This is the first time you've done this.
“You did it very well.
“Now, go home and rest. And tomorrow, join the football team. Make it so.”
Jason did not nod; instead he found that he bowed deeply to Bennette, the very first time in his entire life that he had felt the need to do something like that, and when he rose again and took a deep breath, he realised that he was also well on his way to falling in love for the very first time.


“Sikoria Institute, guten Morgen. Welche Abteilung bitte?”
“Do you speak English?”
“Ja, which department please?”
“I am phoning from the United Kingdom to check on the accreditation of one of your therapists.”
“Einen Moment, bitte.”
Dial tone.
“Guten Morgen, was kann ich fuer Sie tun?”
“Do you speak English?”
“Certainly. How can I help you?”
“We have a man here in town who claims to be licensed by you. I wonder if you could let me know if that is so.”
“What is the therapist's name, please?”
“N L Bennette. B-e-n-n-e-t-t-e.”
“Ah ja. Herr Bennette. He is on the register.”
“Do you know what he looks like?”
Light laughter. “Oh we all know that.”
“Really. Could you describe him to me please?”
“Herr Bennette is a very tall man and he always wears black clothes. He has grey hair and grey eyes. Very distinctive.”
“Yes, that sounds like he. He is a registered therapist then?”
“Herr Bennette is a ... “ Clearing the throat. “Yes. Certainly.”
“Can you tell me what the initials stand for?”
“No, I can not.”
“Why not?”
“It is not known.”
“Can you tell me anything else about him?”
“If Herr Bennette is there where you are you can ask him questions in person?”
“Thank you for your help.”
James Elvin Paris put the receiver down, then picked it up and dialled again.
“18 455 872.”
“Connecting, please hold.”
Dial tone.
“Hello?”
“It's Paris here.”
“Paris? Are you still alive you old son of a gun?”
“I try. I wonder if you could check someone out for me.”
“Certainly.”
“NL Bennette. Initial November. Initial Lima. Second name Bravo, Echo, November, November, Echo, Tango, Tango, Echo. Caucasian, six foot six approximately. Grey hair, grey eyes.”
“Anything else?”
“He owns a shop at 23 Market Street, Coylton. It seems he is registered with the Sikoria Institute in Zurich.”
“Ah ... I will call back as soon as I have something for you.”
“Thank you.”
Dance Steps
At 4.25pm, Bennette strolled across to the beauty salon. He looked very happy and was whistling to himself as we walked. This created a strange juxtaposition between his clothes, his looks, his appearance and his state, which was that of a carefree young man who had money in his pocket and half a dozen women to share it with.
He nearly danced into the salon and smiled brightly at Mrs Gloria Stanford who was looking at him with eyes wide open and started to colour slowly, the red creeping up her face and perfectly noticeable, in spite of the heavy, heavy makeup she was wearing.
Bennette leaned right across the waist high counter, angled for her hand, found it even though she had stepped back as far as she could go against the display shelves of hair care productes and raised her hands to her chest; moved back off the counter, thus pulling Mrs Stanford irresistably forward and until she was half lying upon it. He kissed her hand with passion, smiled brightly at her and said, “My dear lady! And how you are on this beautiful sunny afternoon?”
Mrs Stanford blushed again, for different reasons this time altogether, and could not help but smile back at him. “Much the better for seeing you, Mr Bennette,” she said and then added, “And I am so sorry for making a drunken fool of myself last night ...”
Bennette kissed her hand again and laughed. “My dearest lady,” he said, “Please, do not concern yourself. I was wondering if I should warn you about the effects of a good Krimsekt. But as you enjoyed it, I failed to do so. It's all my fault, really,” and with this, he laughed out aloud and kissed her hand again, then finally, let it go.
Three salon chairs away, Deirdre Cannon's stomach hurt badly again, her private parts were becoming hot as were her teats, just at the sound of his voice, of his laughter. Watching him kiss Gloria's hand and charming not the pants off her, but making her wet simply by talking with her, her head and heart started to hurt and she had trouble breathing. She dropped the strand of hair she had been holding and lowered her scissors, well aware that she should not try and cut at her client, who was also turned and watching Bennette with the salon manageress.
At this moment, big blond Sally was emerging; she burst out like the sun behind the clouds from the curtain which divided the staff room from the main salon and cried out, “Mr Bennette!” waving her pink, fat hands and starting to bounce towards him.
The twisting in her stomach became so bad that Deirdre had to give a gasp, wrap one hand around her middle and with the second, steadying herself against the back of her client's chair.
Nobody noticed.
Aria, who did not have a customer at this time too emerged from the staff room and her bright red lips broke out in a smile too; her eyes were for Bennette only, as were the eyes of every female in the salon.
Bennette was still exclusively focused on Mrs Stanford. He leaned against the counter, undid the buttons of his jacket so it opened and gave him more room, and said, “I have come to take you up on the offer of a manicure. In my line of business, it really pays to have perfect hands ...” he laughed out aloud and some of the women giggled too, “And I absolutely love a good manicure. It's such a relaxing, intimate thing.”
Mrs Standord was swooning. “My dear Mr Bennette,” she hushed, “I would be delighted to do the manicure myself. We have a girl, Rosie, but I do believe a customer such as you would benefit from my experience ...”
“Oh, absolutely,” Bennette said, very serious all of a sudden, his voice half an octave lower than it had been before. “And who in their right mind would have a girl when they can have a lady such as you instead?”
Mrs Stanford put her hand to her heart and fought for composure.
Bennette smiled at her and said easily, in his normal speaking voice once more, “How about tomorrow at 11? I have the funny feeling I will be desperately in need of a good ... manicure by then.”
Deirdre sobbed out aloud, dropped her scissors on the marble floor where they clattered and bounced, and ran from the salon, out through the curtains at the back.
Everyone turned and Bennette raised both eyebrows but did not say anything. Mrs Stanford said uncertainly, “Poor Deirdre hasn't been feeling very well. Food poisoning I'm afraid. Perhaps I should go and see to her.”
Bennette smiled understandingly and gve the lady permission to procede; Mrs Stanford set off then stopped and said, “Let me book you in first. Tomorrow at 11? Is that right?”
Bennette nodded. The lady's hands flew over the keyboard, a couple of mouse clicks later, she looked at him, smiled, and walked backwards until she collided with the end of the counter; only then she turned and walked very quickly on clip clip heels to the back of the shop.
Sally stepped forward.
Bennette bowed to her. “And how are you today, my dear?” he asked. The young, very well covered masseuse with the short white blond bob and sideways striped tent like blouse was lit up; her eyes were sparkling, her pink lips parted with excitement and her hands dancing nervously. “I'm very ... happy to see you again. It was such a lovely party ...”
Bennette leaned on the counter as one might do at a bar. Dropping his voice, he said, “I wonder if you could do me a favour.”
The busty blond woman lit up even more. “Of course!” she cried, then put her hand over her mouth, giggled and whipered, “Of course, what I can I do for you?”
Bennette said, “I was wondering if you would be kind enough to accompany me for a bite to eat at 6pm in the Hen & Crown. I am a little shy and would feel easier if I had ... a companion for my first visit there.”
Sally Windon looked at him in surprise then she giggled. “You're not shy, you are. You're having a laugh.”
Bennette smiled and replied, “Will you be my bodyguard? I will be your best pal ...”
Her eyes widened at that and she nodded before she had time to think about it. “Yes, of course I will. Of course! 6pm?”
“Is that suitable for you? Does that fit in with your day?”
Sally nodded repeatedly. “Perfectly! I finish here around 5.30 and I can do some bookkeeping.” She giggled again. “It's long overdue, it'll be perfect. Where would you like to meet up?”
“Here?” asked Bennette, “I can swing right by on the way to the pub.”
Sally was smiling so much, she had delightful dimples in her cheeks which made Bennette smile in return. This little buxom country lass was certainly a ray of light, he thought, which deepened his smile as he bowed to her.
“Bye bye ladies,” he called to Aria and the other customers in the shop, “See you all later! Have a fabulous evening!” He waved his hand and left the shop, whistling again as he went. Sally, who was watching him, noticed that he put in a couple of dance steps and a turn with one hand held over his head before striding again purposefully on, and she sighed and clasped her hands to her heart.


In the staff room, Deirdre was sobbing uncontrollably in Mrs Stanford's significant bosoms.
She had managed to gasp out a few details about a man who had taken advantage of her, no protection had been used, he had treated her abysmally and now wouldn't take her phone calls.
Mrs Stanford had said there, there, all men are bastards, its alright, go and see the doctor, best to be on the safe side but even after Deirdre had stopped crying, she found she could not tell Mrs Stanford who it was who had treated her so, or give her motherly employer any kind of warning or sign of danger when Mrs Stanford sighed happily and told her that she was going to give Mr Bennette the very best manicure he had ever had.

 

 

“Mrs Durloch?”
“Yes, hello Mr Bennette.”
“I had what I thought was a very satisfactory session with Jason today.”
“Yes, he seemed very happy when he came home. Not nervous about trying out for the football at all anymore. And he took the posters off the windows in his room! You are a miracle worker, Mr Bennette, I can't tell you how happy I am ... we both are ...”
“It's early days yet, Mrs Durloch. The reason that I am calling is that I would like you to come and see me by yourself at some time soon. I appreciate that Jason has been a handful, and I believe that to talk about it would be helpful at this time too.”
“Oh, oh yes.” Deep sigh. “It is true, I'm always worrying about him and there is always something going on, I do think I forget about myself ...”
“Yes, that is very common. As Jason is starting to change and become more of a responsible young adult, he will need certain types of support, and a strong, happy, confident mother, well you can't beat that, can you.”
“So true, so true ... And if you are sure that it is the right thing ...”
“Absolutely. Not just the right thing. Essential, one might say. I have an opening on Tuesday evening at 8pm. Is that convenient for you?”
“Yes, that's fine. Tomorrow evening?”
“Indeed. I think it is very important to keep up the momentum at this critical time.”
“Yes, certainly Mr Bennette. Tomorrow evening it is.”
“Looking forward to it. 8pm.”

 

 

An Active Social Life
At 8.05 pm the doorbell rang and Mr Bennette went to answer it. Outside, under the entrance arch, stood a middle aged man dressed in a light grey suit and white shirt with open collar, with a gold chain around his neck, blond/grey hair, appearing slightly swollen in the aspects of his skin, and his wife, likewise a middle aged woman in an unassuming cotton print dress with blue and green swirls, curly short straw blonde hair and minimal make up.
“Mr and Mrs Davidson,” Bennette said and smiled at them both, “It is a pleasure to meet you.” He shook the man's hand, kissed the wife's, and led the couple in to the office.
Mr and Mrs Davidson sat down on the couch, next to each other, Bennette took a seat in the red chair and smiled at them.
“So, how can I be of assistance?”
Mr Davidson sat forward and put his hands together, revealing an extremely ostentatious wrist watch set in gold and platinum.
“My wife and I have been married for some years,” he said right away and without hesitation, “... and we have been enjoying a very active social life.”
Bennette nodded and with his eyes on the wife, said, “You are swingers?”
The wife smiled somewhat whistfully but nodded at the same time as her husband said, “Yes, that's right. You don't have a problem with that, do you?”
Bennette smiled, raised his hands, both palms flat forward and said, “Absolutely not. I think it is a very healthy activity if both partners agree it's what they want to explore.”
Mr and Mrs Davidson nodded in unison. Mr Davidson said, “Well, the past couple of years, the shine's gone off it, shall we say. We still attend a house party once in a while but it had become repetitive, boring even.” His wife nodded strongly and placed her hand on her husband's thigh.
“We thought we would come and meet you, find out if you have some new ideas for us.” Davidson chuckled. “To be fair, the very idea of seeing a sex therapist was ... stimulating.”
Bennette smiled. “Oh, I do think I can do something for you,” he said, his voice low and resonant and his eyes again on the wife, who had been imagining Bennette without his clothes on from the moment she had seen him on the doorstep. “Re-lighting the fires is what you might call my speciality.”
He focused in on Mr Davidson. “I would propose at least one separate session each, and then we can ... get together and take it from there.”
Both immediately nodded and Davidson said, “Yes, I think that's a very good idea. What do you think, Sam?” His wife smiled and nodded. “Yes, very much so,” she said, without taking her eyes off Bennette.
“Excellent,” said Bennette. “How are times with you? I am getting rather booked up and it would be excellent if we could do mornings, or afternoons.”
Davidson said, “Self employed. My wife doesn't work. So you just tell us a time and we'll be there.” The wife nodded and smiled.
Bennette nodded and got up, went to the desk and turned the laptop around, checked his appointment schedule. It was indeed, filling up nicely.
“How about Wednesday? 12 noon for you Mr Davidson, and 2 pm for you, Mrs Davidson?”
The couple looked at each other and nodded in identical mirror movements.
Mr Davidson said, “Yes, that's perfect. Let's do that. How do I pay?”
“I'll send you an invoice and my bank details. And I am wondering, do you have any recordings of recent parties or activities?”
The Davidsons smiled and Mr Davidson said, “Yes, indeed we do. Would you like to see some samples? Would that help?”
Bennette smiled and closed the lid of the laptop with a single outstretched fingertip. “Oh yes,” he said, “That would be most helpful.”
He said nothing else and kept standing there until the Davidsons got up and came to stand before him.
Mr Davidson was not a tall man and his wife of the same height in her flat shoes. Bennette looked down at them and held his hand out to Mr Davidson. When the man took it and shook it, Bennette did not let him go but held his hand clasped strongly, then placed his other hand over the top. Bennette looked down into the man's eyes and said, “You have a very beautiful wife. So full of life ...”
Davidson breathed in deeply as though he was feasting on that statement, then replied, “Yes, I am a very lucky man.”
“Indeed you are,” said Bennette and let the man's hand go. He looked to Mrs Davidson who had watched him with her husband with hungry eyes and made sure to lick his lips lightly but deliberately so she would notice before saying, “It is going to be a real pleasure, Mrs Davidson.”
He did not offer to kiss her hand, just gave her a short bow; then he led the couple back to the door and put them out for the night.
Has It Occurred To You ...
Deirdre Cannon was on the couch in the small flat's sitting room, watching TV with Aria and Aria's friend Jaimee, when the text message arrived.
It read,
“Come.”
She stared at it and started to tremble, a fine fast shaking that seemed to be in every part of her body at the same time.
She turned off the phone and sat looking at the TV where colours moved and shifted that made no sense at all, that would not resolve into the familiar shapes of people, cars ...
About five minutes later, Deirdre said that she was going out for a walk to clear her head.
About 15 minutes later, she was walking across the deserted market square and found herself standing before the door once more.
The last time, she had stood here she had thought she would have a charming conversation, a lovely time, perhaps a chance to set up another meeting. Flashes of Bennette, pulling her inside ... Deirdre shook her head and sincerely tried to turn around, to walk away. She sincerely tried but her feet would not move in that direction, and so she thought, you idiot, what are you doing, no, no, no, at the same time, her hand reached out and pressed the door bell, causing her to give a breath that sounded like a sob.
For a long time, nothing happened apart from the beating of her own heart in her ears getting louder and louder, and the shape of the door bell seeming to elongate; then there were the sounds of the door unlocking, and the door opened, and there he was.
Bennette was wearing a simple black T-shirt on this occasion, looked down at her from his great hight and said, “Don't keep me waiting this long next time,” as he stepped aside.
As a condemned prisoner might walk to their own execution, Deirdre walked into his house.
She stopped on a level with the office door, which was shut, and turned around.
Bennette was still standing, leaning back against the front door, with his hands in his pockets and his head thrown back, looking at her under half closed lids.
Deirdre felt herself sinking into the carpet, shrinking under his gaze. She had none of her usual armour on this night to protect her; her hair was brushed out and hung limply, she was wearing a track suit and sneakers, and she wasn't wearing a bra. She had no make up on and felt simply terrible.
Bennette said softly, “You do know I can do pretty much anything I want to you, don't you.”
Deirdre nodded.
“Why do you think that is?” he asked and pushed himself off the door so he stood up straight, but kept his hands in his pockets and he did not move closer towards her.
Deirdre shook her head. She could feel tears starting up in her eyes.
“Would you like me to tell you?” asked Bennette, speaking very clearly, pronouncing each word with care and distinction, as though he was talking to a tourist who did not speak the language too well.
Deirdre shook her head and put her hands before her face.
She therefore did not see that Bennette shook his head repeatedly and she also didn't notice that the man sighed and ran his hand over his hair.
“For the love of God you pathetic cunt, look at me when I'm speaking to you,” he said eventually, succinctly and with the tone of the teacher who is projecting to address the entire class.
Deirdre sobbed out aloud but her hands moved away from her face and she tried to raise her eyes to him. She failed.
Bennette stepped up to her and forcefully, with his hand around her jaw, moved her head so she was looking up at him. She tried to look away but he tightened his grip painfully and shook her. Finally, she gave up and looked into his eyes. She was crying hard now, sniffing and pulling in convulsive breaths.
“Has it occurred to you,” Bennette said to her, “To tell me to fuck off?”
Through his hand holding her chin he could feel the shaking of her head, no.
“Have a go,” said Bennette. “It's really easy. Say it, say fuck off you cunt, who do you think you are?”
Deirdre was crying hard, looking into his eyes.
“Say it. Repeat after me, fuck off ...” he shook her and let go off her.
Deirdre whispered, “Fuck off ...”
“You cunt ...”
She repeated it in a sniffle, “You cunt ...”
“Who do you think you are?”
“Who do you think you are ...”
“Good,” said Bennette sternly. “Now let's put that together into a coherent sentence. Say it now, say to me, fuck off you cunt, who do you think you are.”
Deirdre took a deep, shuddering breath and said, “Fuck off you cunt who do you think you are ..” and then slapped her hands before her face again and made the most extraordinary choking noises as she cried and laughed for the first time in her life at the same time.
Bennette stood with his head thrown back and his arms crossed for a while; then he walked past her and into the kitchen.
Deirdre stood in the hallway, trying to know how to stop either crying or laughing, doubled over and still with her hands before her face when Bennette returned and nudged her in the shoulder.
“Here,” he said and held out a glass of red wine to her, “Drink that.”
This gave Deirdre something to focus on. She took the glass, held it in both hands and drank from it, then she had to sniff and cough and eventually, she regained enough wherewithal to try and wipe some of the tears and snot from her face with the back of her hand.
Bennette produced a clean white handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her, then took her wine glass so she could wipe her face with it and blow her nose. She did this repeatedly; finally, Bennette exchanged the handkerchief for the wine glass and said to her, “Shall we start again? Good evening, Deirdre.”
She looked at him and shook her head, then she smiled, still shaking her head, and said, “Good evening, Mr Bennett.”
Bennette bowed and led the way into the first room.

Action Man
The lights in the first room were low and Deirdre and Bennette were sitting on the black box, side by side, each one with a glass of wine and the bottle by the side of Bennette's foot precariously balanced on the deep carpet.
Looking into her wine glass, Deirdre said, “I hate you. I just had the three worst days of my whole life.”
Bennette sighed and said, “A life saving operation can cause pain to be experienced.”
“Why ... “
Bennette glanced at her and said, “I only played out what you expected of me. Exactly. To the T. Apart from the fact that in your version, I wouldn't have given you a bath and clean clothes. I would have thrown you out into the street in the exact state you were in after we fucked, so you could stumble through the town and have the burgers shout, whore, whore and pelt you with rotten vegetables.”
He laughed and added, “Oh and you didn't come twice in your version, either.”
Deirdre shook her head. “I never wanted ...”
“Of course you didn't want it,” Bennette said. “But isn't that what always happens? Some guy charms you a bit, then fucks you, then throws you out with the garbage? And the next day, he pretends he's never even seen you before?”
Deirdre turned her head away from him and said nothing. She was 25 years old and he had just described her life, one weekend after the other, to perfection.
Bennette said softly, “Let's see if you've learned something yet. What are you going to say the next time some prick tries to run that pattern on you?”
Deirdre smiled tiredly and responded, “Fuck off you cunt who do you think you are ...”
“That's my girl,” said Bennette and smiled, put his arm around her shoulders, drew her closer to him and kissed her on the top of her head. “Now, shall we fuck?”
Deirdre turned out of his embrace so she could look up at him. Softly, she said, “Fuck off you cunt, who do you think you are ...”
He smiled and gave her an appreciative bow. “That's very good,” he said, “You're getting the hang of it. Now let's play the game to the next level. You tell me what you want to do with me.”
She looked at him and said, “I want you to tell me that you are sorry, and that you will never, ever, treat me like that again.”
Bennette said, sincerely, “I am sorry, and I will never, ever treat you like that again.”
Deirdre sat up straighter. “I want you to treat me with respect.”
Bennette said, “I will treat you with respect.”
“And I want you to stop treating me as though I was ... nothing.”
“I will stop treating you as though you were nothing.”
She took a deep breath in and nodded.
“I want you to make me feel wanted.”
Bennette smiled. He dropped his voice so it was much lower, deeper and said, “I will make you feel wanted.”
“And ... attractive.”
“I will make you feel attractive.” The way he said it caused a small shiver to go down her spine.
“And I want you to keep your promises. Like when you say you want to give me a CD, you give me the CD.”
Bennette smiled at that. “I will keep my promises.”
Deirdre sighed deeply and said slowly, “And I want you to be nice to me.”
Bennette replied sincerely, “I will be nice to you.”
Deirdre nodded and finished the drink in her glass. Bennette got the bottle and refilled her glass, topped up his own. He held it out to her and said, “To love.”
She looked at him in surprise but then nodded and said, “To love.” They clinked the glasses together and drank slowly for a while.
“Now,” said Bennette, “And now it's my turn.”
Deirdre looked at him with some alarm.
“I want you to start learning how to understand men.”
She was quite shocked by that but submitted and replied, “I will start learning how to understand men.”
“I want you to put your own pleasure above anyone else's.”
Deidre thought about that. “I don't know if I can promise that,” she said, “One day I might have children ...”
He said nothing.
Deirdre said in a low whisper, “I will put my own pleasure above anyone else's.” Then she took a deep breath and added in a rush, “And you can fuck off, I choose what I do with my children, or where I put my own pleasure.”
Bennette laughed out aloud and raised his glass to her. “Fantastic!” he cried, “Fantastic, my dear Ms Cannon. It seems you really are starting to learn how to play this game. Alright, one more. I want you to be a sex goddess.”
“Oh,” said Deirdre against her will, then she took a deep breath, raised her glass and said, “I am a sex goddess.”
“Oh yes,” Bennette said. “You know, I do like to fuck. I do. But do you know the kind of women I really love to fuck?”
“A sex goddess,” Deirdre replied. She sighed and added, “I don't know how to be ... like that.”
Bennette smiled. “It's not that difficult,” he said. “Any goddess needs one worshipper who prays to her. That's how she becomes a goddess in the first place.”
Deirdre said nothing to that and Bennette smiled. He placed his glass on the carpet, then reached over and took hers away. He drained it in a swift gulp, placed it down likewise and returned his attention to Ms Cannon.
“Now,” he said, “I propose we take our clothes off and play. I put this proposition before you. What you now have to do is to go inside. Think about it. Consult with your feelings. Ask yourself if this would give you pleasure. If you want to play with me tonight or if you want to go home instead. Make your decision and I will submit to it without question, one way or the other.”
Deirdre considered the two options. She had not seen Bennette without his clothes and very much wanted to. There was one scenario, where she was sitting on his lap, touching his strong shoulders, putting her hands around his neck, letting him kiss her the way he did which was like no-one she had ever kissed before ... and there was the other option, her walking home in defeat, wondering what there might have been ...
“I want to ... play with you,” she said and snuck a quick glance at his face. He was very serious and nodded, just once.
“I am glad. I want to play with you too. Very much so. Would you like to watch me get undressed for you?”
Deirdre gave a small laugh. “A strip tease?”
Bennette shrugged.
“Alright,” she said, “Yes. Let me see what you have.”
Bennette stood up and moved to the centre of the room. With a smooth movement, he pulled his T-shirt up and over his head. He was clearly, a very strong man; his skin was smooth and fair and Deirdre felt herself breathe more deeply and her heart beat speeding up.
Bennette turned and threw the T-Shirt towards the big chair on the other side of the room; his muscles rippled beautifully beneath his skin. He is so graceful, thought Deirdre, graceful like an animal, he moves like a tiger.
Deirdre had seen many man struggle out of their pants in various ways but Bennette made it look beautiful. As he stood and undid the buttons of his black fabric pants, he closed his eyes and turned his head all the way to the side, sculpting the sinews in his neck and his collarbones and neck most beautifully; and as he stroked the trousers down his thighs, he was assuming postures each one of which could have been a photograph, or perhaps a painting. He stepped out of his pants, socks and shoes all in one and at the same time, first one foot, then the other; movements so precise and practised, he must have done this a thousand times, thought Deirdre, for a thousand women, perhaps for a thousand men, but strangely rather than appalling her, it excited her more. Bennette stood in the centre of the room, now only wearing a pair of black silk boxers, with his head turned to the side and his arms relaxed, eyes closed.
She knew that he wanted her to unwrap the final gift; for a moment, she was unsure but then remembered what he had said to her, to go inside, ask how she felt, think about it and make a decision. She could feel her hands getting hot, wanting to touch him; just his skin, just to stroke him for a while, that was what she wanted.
With the decision made, she stood up and approached him. She could feel the heat radiating from his body intensely and already from a good stride away from him; here was this man, this stranger, a real man and he was hers to play with.
The thought took her breath away. And yes, I want to play with you. I want to touch you, explore you, taste you, feel you. She touched him lightly on the chest, below his left nipple, and a shiver went through the man who still had his head turned away and his eyes closed. Deirdre stepped up closer and put her arms about him, placing her cheek on his hot chest, her hands stroking his back, his muscles hard as wood beneath the smooth skin, vibrating with strenght, with life ...
He could tear her to pieces if he wanted to, she realised and then was shocked how much that thought excited her too. He too was becoming excited; she could feel it against her own stomach as she snuggled up to him, rubbed herself against him like a cat and now she wished very much that there should be no barrier between his skin and hers remaining; she stripped off her tracksuit top whilst keeping contact with him by stroking his chest with her cheek. She took off her T-shirt quickly and pushed herself out of her tracksuit bottoms and pants, kicking to get them off with her shoes just as he had done.
Now, she was free; entirely free and her skin was radiant, and hungry. She put her arms around his neck, standing on tip toes, and moved his head which followed willingly and obediently, drawing him down so she could kiss him. His arms went around her in turn and he kissed her back, but this time it was light and submissive, responding to her rather than leading the dance. She felt confused, disappointed by this; she wanted him to be a beast, to take her against her will. To take her in his irrestible arms and make her do those things ... Deirdre stepped back and took a deep breath. She knew that she could ask him to take her like that, and that he would comply. And that it would be exciting, and that he would make her come.
But Deirdre also realised that she had an opportunity here. When would be the next time someone like Bennet would put himself into her hands like this? The way he was, this could be the last time she would ever have this chance to ... what had he said? To play?
What did that even mean?
If he was a toy, a robot or a manikin, what would she do?
Deirdre smiled. Every little girl takes Action Man's pants off to find out what it underneath, and is so disappointed to find the smooth undercarriage, and not those scary, dirty hidden things that they had hoped to find.
With a smile, she stepped back close and stroked his hips, then slid her hands unter the waistband of the silk boxers and eased them down a little, so that the tip of his erect penis was revealed. She gave a little sigh of pleasure, simply for the fact that she could take her time with his, to satisfy her curiosity, to make contact with that alien creature that was his prize and greatest treasure, and which she knew could give her pleasure ...
Deirdre slipped the boxers slowly down his thighs, down to his ankles. She tapped his foot, making him raise one foot, then the other; like a well trained horse, he obeyed her touch. Not a horse, Deirdre thought, a stallion. He is my faithful stallion and I will take him for a ride. She put her flat hand on the shaft of his penis, knowing that it would please him, excite him; it did. Her stallion took a deep breath in and his hips moved; she could see that he was opening his mouth lightly and moistening them with his lips. She took hold then of his dick with her hand and she thought, I have him, and now I'm going to take him by the balls. She did and squeezed, he gave a small cry; she squeezed harder and he moaned in pain. She was entirely astonished how this caused a fast flash of excitement to rush through her body; she kept her hand around his balls, firmly, and with the other hand, drew his neck down again and kissed him deeply. She squeezed his balls gain and the sharp inbreath and gasp of pain in the kiss became one and she couldn't help herself; she put her hands in his hair and squeezed his balls hard, pinching the skin with her fingernails. He cried out in pain and pulled his head back, tried to move his hips away but she held him firmly, pulled on his balls and said, “Behave yourself.”
Bennette, with his eyes closed dropped his head to be kissed again. Deirdre was by now extremely excited and also aware that she wanted to hurt him more, that she wanted to hear him scream and that she loved it.
“Get down on the floor,” she told him and still holding him by the balls, brought him down until he was kneeling. Without letting him go, she pushed him in the chest, forcing him back on his knees, further back, until he had to put his hands behind to stop himself from falling over. Here, she finally let go off his balls and looked at him.
He was kneeling, bent backward, his neck right back, exposing his vulnerable throat and his fully erect dick standing out stiffly before him. She had never seen a man in such a vulnerable position, never mind a man such as Bennette; he was hers and she could not resist it anymore, she had to make use of that beautiful prick of his, it had to come home to where it belonged. She straddled him, bracing one hand against his chest and causing him to strain in that uncomfortable position; with the other hand, she straightened out his prick and positioned it beneath herself.
For a moment, she teased him with her hot, wet cunt, causing Bennette to start breathing hard and to start trembling; then she slowly and deliciously, lowered herself upon him. She only managed to go halfway before it became too much; she had to have it all and let herself go, plunging down and feeling his big and wide dick shoot up into her at the same time. She cried out aloud, wrapped herself around him and started to fuck herself on him, simply using him to give her the greatest amount of pleasure, rubbing her teats against his chest, pushing her cunt down and forward on him, fucking very, very fast and biting his throat, and there, his reserve broke and his hips started pushing up against her.
A moment later, and he couldn't hold that position any longer; he pushed himself forward to release the agonising tension in his knees and back, wrapped his arms around her, found her mouth and fucked her right back. It was a wild ride, a fabulous ride and Deirdre came fast and furiously, throwing her head back and crying out aloud; Bennette buried his head between her breasts and seconds later, he too came in the final bucking explosive thrusts.
For just a few heartbeats they remained like this until Bennette let himself with the woman still in his arms roll over to the side and gasped, “Oh God my legs ... Oh bloody hell ...” Deirdre started to laugh and Bennette started to laugh as well; they disentangled and lay on their backs, next to each other on the deep red carpet, laughing for a while.
They turned their heads to face each other.
“Ouch,” said Bennette softly. “There's a domina in there, waiting to come out ...”
“I don't think she's waiting,” said Deirdre. “I've never done anything like that before. I didn't think I had it in me ...”
“You'd be surprised what is in there,” Bennette said and smiled. “That was fan-fucking-tastic. I loved it. Even though I won't walk straight for a week.”
“You were lucky,” Deirdre responded. “I had my moments there. I wanted to squeeze a lot harder.”
One mutual shower later, and a slow, sensuous fuck later, Deirdre and Bennette were lying snuggled up together in a bedroom on the first floor which didn't have any mirrors at all. The only light in the room came from the soft glow of a rounded yellow globe on the bedside table.
“What's your first name?” Deirdre asked.
“Not telling,” replied Bennette. Deirdre thought about it and decided not to persevere at this point.
“How many women do you have?” she asked a little while later. Bennette, who was lying behind her, stroked her rounded hip under the light silk sheet and said, “You are not the only one.”
She nodded and sighed. “Do you mind me telling ... a friend ... about us?”
Bennette laughed a little at that. “No, not at all. You're not my client. We are consenting adults.”
It was then that Deirdre realised that she had had sex again with Bennette, twice again, and the word protection had not entered her thoughts the once - again. She tensed up and Bennette said, “What's the matter?” He's so sharp, she thought, he would be a nightmare as a boyfriend, or as a husband. You would not be able to get away with a single thing. Bennette gave her a little push, awaiting the answer, indicating that he would not let it go.
“Protection,” she said. “We never used any.”
“It's alright,” he responded and put his arm underneath her so he could lift her and pull her closer. “Neither of us have any diseases and I can't have children.”
Deidre was at a loss which one of those comments she should be thinking about first; she bounced back and forth between them and ended up saying nothing.
Bennette said softly, “You know, by the time I'm done, I will have slept with every single one of your colleagues, and your boss too.”
Deirdre wasn't surprised by this, and only mildly saddened. “Aria?” she questioned. “She thinks you're too old. And Heather thinks you're creepy.”
Bennette chuckled. “Give me some credit. Aria needs a daddy and young Heather, well, if creepy isn't exactly what turns her on, then I don't know what is.”
He moved against Deirdre's back and added, “And I have my eye on that little friend of hers, Stephen.”
At this, Deidre turned around and looked at him. “Now you're joking,” she said but noted herself that her tone had dropped at the end. Everyone suspected Stephen Willis of not being entirely straight but he had not as yet come out of any closet.
“No,” said Bennette, turned her around again and stretched behind her so she could feel his dick pressed up against her buttocks, “I'm not joking. I like that boy. And I don't discriminate. Not on race, not on gender, not on body type, and not on age. Over 18, that is.”
Deirdre found herself arching her back and pushing her butt back into his hardening dick. “Are you some kind of sex addict?” she asked.
Bennette smiled into her hair and into her ear he said, “No, my dear lady. I'm a connoisseur.”


A-ma-zing
Tuesday morning was bright and breezy. Deirdre danced all the way home, a CD with Moon River and other romantic tunes recorded by an unknown German jazz band during a live performance in Munich, 1963, in her pocket.
Bennette had made her an astonishing breakfast featuring scrambled egg, fine wild salmon slices and strawberries with champagne. He had been feeding her the strawberries and things got out of hand; so another shower was required for both and at one point, Bennette had turned the hot water off and held her, laughing, as she squealed and thrashed against his hot body under the freezing onslaught.
He had proceded to towel her dry and she had never felt so alive, so glowing, so fresh and happy - ever.
Back at home, she had applied minimal make up and then put on the yellow short sun dress Bennette had given her. She had paired this with a pair of high healed black ankle boots and skipped to the salon.
She was nearly half an hour late but upon arrival, and even as Mrs Stanford took a deep breath to start berating her for it, Deirdre said, “Staffroom! Conference!” and the clients were settled for a moment whilst the ladies from the Cut Above piled into the small kitchenette at the back of the salon.
Deirdre said, “I did it. I slept with Bennette!” The squealing that ensued would have put many a hen house to shame with a fox right inside of it. Words pierced through, here and there - OMG, how was he, is he your boyfriend now?
Deirdre laughed and waved her hands at all of them, then she said, “He is a-ma-zing!!!” and this time, the squealing uproar was even louder still.
Mrs Stanford wasn't squealing. She held up her hand to silence the ladies and said, “That was him ... who treated you like dirt and you were crying about him yesterday?”
Deirdre laughed and threw her hands up in the air. “A misunderstanding,” she said, “All my fault, really. But it's all sorted out now. We had the most A-MA-ZING night and he made me breakfast with strawberries and champagne!”
“Are you going out with him now?” asked Heather and Aria chimed in, “He's old enough to be your father!” Deirdre grinned so much her cheeks were starting to hurt. “Experience counts, I tell you, I've never ... wow, you can't even begin ... he is just ... WOW!”
Fat blonde Sally Wyndon said, “I'm going to dinner with him tonight.” This stilled the room and everyone turned to her. She was looking at her fingernails, pursing her lips and smiling. As if at a tennis match, everyone turned to Deirdre. To their astonishment, Deirdre was smiling, her lower lip caught between her teeth. Softly, she said to Sally, “You are in for a real treat then. Give him a kiss from me.”
Aria cried, “But aren't you jealous?”
Deirdre was about to say something when she remembered that move Bennette had taught her. She went inside to check how she was feeling. She imagined Bennette and Sally together, holding hands and kissing. It made her feel soft inside, made her smile. He would do the world of good for Sally, he would be good for her.
Deirdre took a deep breath in through her nostrils and smiled, looked directly at Sally, then shook her head. “No, I'm not jealous. I'm glad for you. You will have an amazing time, he will make you feel things like you've never felt befoe.”
Her sincerity was felt by all the women and they were all shocked by it. Deirdre realised she needed to explain. “It's like,” she said and tried to find the words, “It's like, you can't own him. He's never going to be a boyfriend, or a husband. God, I think he would make the worst ever husband in the world! He is so sharp, he doesn't miss a beat, and man, he's so strong! He would totally do your head in. He's not relationship material. But he's ... so ... amazing, just, oh I don't know. Every woman deserves a Bennette!”
All the women started talking at once and here, Mrs Stanford said, “Alright, that's enough now. Back to work, everyone. Now.”


Allegation
At 9.45, Jason Durloch was in the office of the head of sports at St Luke's public school, explaining his sudden and very unexpected interest in playing football. There were only two reasons why Jason was even still allowed on the school grounds; the first being that his parents paid handsomely and students in the recession were increasingly hard to come by; the second being that he was academically brilliant and contributed considerably to the grade average at St Luke's, especially in the maths department.
There was a third reason, of which the board of governors, the head master and the common room were not aware, namely that Jason chose exactly as to how close to the knife's edge he wanted to play, and was simply not stupid enough to be caught with knives, a toothpick joint or controversial materials in his rucksack.
This did not mean, however, that the teachers didn't hate Jason Durloch with a vengeance, and looked for every possible excuse to trip him up and get him out. They did. He was lazy, arrogant, and a terrible influence on the other, nicer young people in the 6th form. They fully suspected that Jason Durloch was behind any number of strange occurrences and unusual behaviour but it could never be traced directly back to him; and unless they would turn to putting him into a straight jacket, tying him to a trolley and putting a hockey mask over his face, as Ms Peregrin from the art department had once proposed, there really was little anyone could do about it.
So here, Karl Reynolds, who had once been the manager of a third division football club, was laying back in his office chair, exposing an impressive beer belly beneath his straining blue striped shirt, was not looking fondly at young Jason Durloch.
“What the fuck are you playing at, Durloch?” he asked outright. “What fucked up games are you playing now? Get the fuck out of my office and bug someone else. It's bad enough I had to put up with your for the last five years. I really thought I'd seen the back of you and cracked open a beer to celebrate that fact.”
“Sir,” said Jason, “Such language in an educational establishment ...”
“Fuck off, Durloch,” the man said angrily and sat forward. “I wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire. Get your arse out of here. Now.”
Jason moved a little closer, leaned forward and put the very tips of his fingers on the man's desk. There was no nail polish and the sharp tipped edges had been filed square. He looked down for a moment then he raised his eyes to look at the older man and said softly, “You know, having been repeatedly abused during a five year period in my formative years would really explain my strange behaviour. Don't you think? Sir?”
The ruddy man behind the desk froze and stopped breathing. Slowly, all the colour drained out of his face; his mouth opened but no sound came out of it.
Jason smiled. “I am going to play football, sir. You are going to put me on the B team and you are going to play me. You are going to instruct me to the best of your abilities. And you are going to make it your business to inform my parents of my progress and tell them how well I am doing. Are we clear? Sir?”
Karl Reynolds was sweating now, and drawing in short, rapid breaths; he nodded, tiny nods that did not stop.
Jason stood up straight. “Good,” he said. “I don't have any kit of my own as yet, so go find something that fits and sort it out. Have a locker ready for me by 2.30. And all the relevant lesson transfers arranged.”
Karl Reynolds was still nodding. Jason Durloch raised his chin, looked at the sweating man under half closed lids, turned on his heels and walked from the room.

Snake Oil
At 10am sharply, a good fifteen miles away from the lovely private school of St Luke's nestled in the perfectly green and pleasant land, a short, fat woman with wiry grey hair, a pair of spectacles on her nose and wearing a long pale blue skirt, matching long jacket and matching blouse was greeted by Bennette who was sparkling and radiant, electric and who cried, “Dr Potter, I presume!” The big man dressed in perfect black, a suit that was taylored to perfection and would have cost enough to buy a medium sized family saloon, gave a sweeping bow to let the woman, who was clasping a clipboard to her chest, into his house.
She did not smile back but instead looked over the rims of her silver framed small spectacles at the immaculate hallway with the dark red carpet, the rich dark brown of the natural wood in the panelling, the fine staircase, and the doors. There were no pictures, no furniture of any kind; and Bennette led her into the 2nd room.
She immediately stepped up to the fabulous Art Deco desk which was likewise, entirely empty save for a silver laptop and peered at the large certificate on the wall; then she walked around the desk to inspect it more closely, sticking her neck out long and peering through her glasses, then looking over the top of them.
The framed certificate simply stated, in black medieval lettering beneath an arc of words that spelled “The Sikorian Institute”:
This is to certify that
NL Bennette
Has satisfied the Board of the Sikorian Institute and is a member in good standing.
There was no signature beneath this, nor a date; instead, a large gold seal depicting what might have been a swan, or a phoenix, was placed directly below the lettering in the centre.
The certificate paper itself looked like very ancient, marbled parchment, and the whole thing was framed in a heavy gilded antique frame which required a chain rather than a simple hook and nail to keep it on the wall.
Without having so much as said hello or returned Bennette's greeting, the woman turned around and said pointedly, “So where's your PhD, Mr Bennette?”
Bennette, who was standing in the centre of the room, his hands folded behind his back, replied, “It is with me wherever I go, Dr Potter.”
“The cerficate,” the woman said sharply, “Where is your certificate? And what PhD is it?”
Bennette smiled brightly. “The certificate is upstairs in my filing cupbard. And my PhD is in Divinity. Which is relevant in the context of being a practitioner of the Sikorian method. I do not display it as I often treat clients who have been sexually abused by the clergy; I find it causes too much pain to see it on the wall.”
The fat, short woman came around from behind the desk and said, “I will be frank, Mr Bennette. I am very concerned about your ... practice here. One of my long term clients has expressed the thought of consulting with you, and frankly, I am appalled.”
Bennette raised his eyebrows. “I am sorry to hear that,” he said smoothly, then indicated the therapist's couch. “Won't you have a seat, Mrs Potter?”
The woman put her head back to look at him through her narrow spectacles then made her way to the red master chair in leather, and sat down pointedly upon it, her clipboard on her lap and her white purse still hanging on a gold chain over her shoulder.
Bennette smiled, went to the couch, unbuttoned his jacket and sat down, keeping his back as straight as the older woman who was frowning at him. He folded his hands in his lap and said gently, “If you would like to give me a list of your clients you don't want me to see, I will be happy to tell them that you are appalled at that notion and out of professional courtesy, I therefore cannot treat them.”
This left the woman speechless for a moment but then she rallied and said sharply, “I am not giving you a list of my clients.”
Bennette moved his hands apart fractionally and said sincerely, “Then how am I to know whom I may treat, and whom I may not treat?”
Angrily, the woman said, “People like you shouldn't be allowed to operate at all. There should be a law against it.”
Bennette asked, “People like me?”
“Yes,” the woman said, “People like you. Practising fringe therapies and pseudo-sciences. Snake oil salesmen, in other words, Mr Bennette.”
Bennette nodded. “In your practice, it must be very heartbreaking to com across so many people who have been significantly damaged by their experiences with cults, with faith healers, with covens and with charlatans. I think it is remarkable that you care so much for your clients that you would come here and see me today. Most people in your position barely manage a letter of complaint to the editor of their local newspaper.
“I wish I had had a therapist like you when I needed one.”
The woman with the untidy sprawling grey hair nodded, then shook her head. “If you want to play games with me, Mr Bennette, you have to get up a great deal earlier. Do not distract from the fact that you are taking money from people, purporting to be a professional therapist, which are you are clearly not, and in the meantime, doing untold harm to people who have already been damaged enough.”
Bennette listened to this speech which had been delivered in ever rising volume and pitch, nodded, and then stood up.
“Will you please excuse me for a moment,” he said and walked from the room.
The woman made as if to get up too, but then she did not; instead, she sat up straighter still, squared her shoulders, then the clipboard on her knees, then pushed up the gold chain strap of her purse higher up, and waited.
A short while passed and Bennette re-appeared. He held an object in his hand which at first she did not recognise but as he stepped up to her and held it out, held in one hand and the other end supported by the other, she realised that is was a black leather riding crop.
Her mouth dropped open; and even more so when Bennette went down on his knees before her, still holding out the riding crop to her, bowed his head and said, “Beat me for it.”
Her hands twitched up; she pushed herself backwards in the chair as far as she could go, causing the clipboard to slide off her lap and the handbag to slide off her shoulder. Bennette raised his head and looked directly at her. “Take the crop and beat me for it. Go on, take it.”
Her hands moved towards the object he was still holding out horizontally in front of her; she snatched them back and tried to stand up, found she could not because he was too close to her and she cried, “Get away from me you lunatic, or I shall call the police!”
Bennette placed the riding crop across her feet; she tried to pull them back but there was nowhere to go; then she was distracted as Bennette took the white hand bag and before she could stop him, had pulled it away in a rapid movement so her chain slid through her hand and it was in his possession. He threw the bag carelessly at the couch; it missed and fell to the floor.
The woman tried to make a break for it, tried to turn to get off the chair but Bennette caught first one arm, then the other, held her by her wrists strongly and forced her hands into her lap. The woman was fighting him, hard; her glasses fell off her nose and her untidy hair was flying, then she started to scream, “Get off me! Help! Help! Somebody help me!”
Bennette held her easily and eventually, the woman stopped screaming. She was out of breath and relaxed her wrists. Bennette smiled and gently increased the pressure on her wrists further; this caused her to open her eyes and look at him. She said, “I'm so glad you did that. Now I can shut your practice down and put you in prison where your kind belongs on top. I was hoping you would reveal yourself for the pervent and criminal you really are.”
Bennette smiled at her. “Or I could just strangle you and bury your body somewhere in a field. There are so many of those around here ...”
The woman froze for a moment but then said, “You'll never get away with it.”
This made Bennette laugh out aloud.
“Ah,” he said, “But you know, I think it would have been worth it. I can claim temporary insanity. Say that you accused me of being a pervert, and a criminal, and after all the years of abuse from people like yourself, stupid, stupid people who dare to talk about things of which they have no conception, I just ...” and here he stood up explosively, dragging the woman right off the chair, off her feet and holding her in front of his face, “... snapped.”
Her pupils dilated and Bennette said authoritatively, “Sleep.”

 

 

Brown Paper Bag
The doorbell rang.
On the doorstep, wearing a white shirt, black jeans, no make up and with his hair slicked back, stook Jason Durlach, waving something in a brown paper bag and grinning.
Bennette looked at him and said, “What are you doing here? Are you not supposed to be at school?”
Jason grinned some more and said, “Let me in. I have tales to tell!”
Bennette took the brown paper bag and said, “No way. You need to go back to school. And don't come here outside of our appointments, and don't text me or call me. Ever.”
Jason had stopped grinning. “What the fuck,” he started but Bennette shook his head. “This is of the utmost importance,” Bennette said very seriously. “We cannot be seen to be together, ever, and there must be nothing linking us than what is on those surveillance tapes.”
Jason swalled, uncertain all of a sudden. “Then .. I can't ever ... really talk to you?” he asked.
Bennette sighed. “We can talk but we have to be incredibly careful. Can you come into the village after nightfall? Is that allowed, is it possible?”
Jason shrugged. “We live like ten miles away in the middle of fucking nowhere. I can't drive and my mother won't let me have a motorbike. The last bus is at 7.30. I'm fucking stuck out there.”
“How did you get here today?”
“I came from school. By Taxi.”
Bennette shook his head. “It's too dangerous. A trail a mile wide. Look, Jason, I need you to understand that it can not be known that we are ... working together.”
“What about a fake email ... ah yeah, I see what you mean. IP address.”
Bennette nodded. “Look, we've been standing here way too long already for you to deliver a book. I'm seeing your mother tonight. I'll get you a motorbike and you get yourself a girlfriend who lives in the village. Then we can talk. Now go back to school and I'll see you on Thursday.”
Jason nodded and sighed. He was about to turn away when Bennette said, “Hey, are you on the football team?”
Jason Durloch nodded and his smile came back. “Piece of piss,” he said.
Bennette smiled back and closed the door.


“Hello?”
Three short beeps.
James Paris dials a number on his home phone, presses the star key.
“Connecting.”
Dial tone.
“Paris?”
“It's me.”
“Listen, you've got something there the boys upstairs are interested in. I looked up your man and he has a file but it is locked. No access.”
“No? Access?”
“None. But five minutes later, I got a call from upstairs. I gave them what I had. They will be in touch.”
Paris said nothing.
“Paris?”
“Yes?”
“Be careful.”
Paris nodded and carefully replaced the receiver.

Insanity Is ...
At around the same time as Gloria Stanford put Bennette's right hand into a pretty dish filled with soft, warm, soapy water, Dr Barbara Potter slowly regained consciousness.
She was very disorientated; could not move; it was some time later she realised that she was lying on a glassy surface that had become stuck to her skin.
Dr Potter opened her eyes and could not believe what she saw.
She closed them again, counted to three, said out aloud, “I am dreaming.” The words echoed strongly, dreaming, dreaming dreaming dreaming ....
She opened her eyes again but it was exactly the same.
She was lying in a room that was entirely panelled with bright clear mirrors, one each, floor, ceiling, all the walls. She was naked and the way the reflections played, there was an infinity of old, fat, naked women spreadeagled, drawing themselves out to become an odd pinkish greyish snake that went on forever and ever and ever and ever ...
It was insanity.
She closed her eyes firmly and tried to think.
Bennette had done this. He had put her into this room. A room that had been constructed with volition and the absolute intention that it should hold someone inside. Dr Potter's heart was racing and she tried to calm her breath.
But there was no getting away from it.
She had walked straight into the house of a serial killer.
In the salon, Mr Bennette was very aware that every lady had her eyes on him. He had blown a kiss at Deirdre who had waved back happily and swirled the skirt of the yellow sun dress for him, which had made him laugh; she had not stopped working however and was smiling and speaking with her customer.
Sally Windon sadly had a customer for a hot stone massage; but she fetched towels repeatedly, saying she had run out of a special ointment, just a minute, to the degree that her customer started complaining and said she was feeling invalidated.
Young Aria was so distracted by Bennette and Mrs Stanford who were at the manicure station directly opposite from where she was working, and whom she could watch perfectly well in the mirror, that she had to unroll and re-roll the entire left side of her client's hair.
Heather tried to play it cool but she too stretched her long neck, as always encased in a turtleneck sweater, repeatedly and didn't listen to her customer at all, straining to hear what Bennette and Mrs Stanford were saying to each other.
The only person, apart from the customers, who was sincerely sulking was young Rosie McCarthy. She was a very dark tanned young woman with masses of dark curly hair, a fantastically short dress and thigh high fashion boots, who was the resident manicurist and nail artist. For Mrs Stanford to take her clients did not sit well with her and she pouted and kicked the toes of her boots into the marble, until Deirdre told her to stop and find herself something else to do.
In the mirror cell, Dr Potter was, eyes firmly closed, touching along the sides of her prison, trying to find a groove to indicate a door, a joint between the mirrors but there was nothing. Every surface was mirror smooth, entirely uninterrupted. Dr Potter kept thinking of her cat, of her next client, at 2.30pm, who would ring the doorbell and, receiving no reply, would shrug and walk away. Mr Sandetechi would not call the police. The cat would not call the police. Would anyone? She was booked to deliver a seminar this coming weekend. Would they call the police? Would her friends notice that her facebook posts had stopped? Dr Potter's fear began to take on whole new proportions. By the time an enquiry would even be launched, Bennette could have disappeared already.
The final stage of the manicure was a massage of the hands with an exquisite moisturizer.
Bennette purred under Mrs Stanford's ministrations and encouraged her with soft, small comments, “Hmmm ... that feels wonderful ... you have such a lovely touch ... healing hands .. I can feel the stress draining away ... aaah ... that feels so good ...”
It had fallen very quiet in the salon and every one of the women, staff and customers alike, could not help feeling that he was talking to them in person ...
Before he left, Bennette took a moment to speak to each of the ladies in person.
To Sally, who had left her customer alone yet again, he said how much he looked forward to having a bite at the Hen tonight. To Deirdre, he said nothing at all but just kissed her hand for a considerable length of time.
Heather he asked if there was a decent music venue anywhere near by; live music, nothing mainstream. Surprised, she had told her that there was a pub in Wyndham with an upstairs where live bands played every weekend and on Wednesdays. She was even more surprised when she found herself readily inviting Bennette to accompany her and her friends on Wednesday night, where a gypsy folk singer was going to take the stage. Apparently the singer was old but excellent. Bennette said that he was free from around 8.30 and would be happy to drive the whole gang in his car and so it was a date.
Deirdre smiled to herself as she heard this story unfolding, and marvelled at the ease in which Bennette had gained an invite to a teenage outing without even seeming to try.
Little Aria, he actually picked up off the floor, causing her to squeal and held her up high, before bouncing her and the comb and spray she was holding back to the floor, setting her down lightly. “I'm sorry,” he said and smiled down at the girl, “I just couldn't resist it. You are such a doll!”
To Rosie McCarthy who was still pouting Bennette said, “I like to have regular manicures. Will you be my manicurist when I come again?”
Her pout unfolded into a smile in a way that made her face move as if it was melting. She nodded and Mr Bennette smiled at her most sincerely, bowed and left the shop.

On The Chair
In her mirror prison, time was impossible to tell. After a while, Dr Potter couldn't hold on any longer and had to piss on the floor. The yellow, strong smelling liquid spread over the entire floor. She tried to push it into one corner with her foot, but that caused her to open her eyes and look down, she sobbed with what she saw and covered her eyes, then collapsed and cried and cried, sitting in her own piss. Later, she found herself lying in it, having fallen asleep sitting up against the cold mirror but then having slid down. Her hair was full of piss. She was hungry and terribly thirsty. She tried to scream and pound on the mirrors then but they were as solid as a block of cold hearted steel and as immovable.
She pissed herself again and tried to keep herself from going insane, but she knew that her strength was failing fast, and she was so thirsty, so terribly, terribly thirsty ...

When Dr Potter awoke, she was lying on a black silk covered bed, entirely naked, and staring up at huge mirror in the ceiling.
It was there she saw Bennette, looked around and saw him in the flesh, sitting on the edge of the bed, watching her. She shocked backwards, tried to scramble backwards, tried to hide her large, blue veined, pendulous breasts with her hands and then just stopped and burst out into tears.
Bennette said nothing and waited until her deep, bone racking sobs had subsided to irregular breathing and the odd tremble, here or there.
Eventually, the woman touched her hair. It was dry. She smelled her hand. It was clean. She looked up at Bennette then who was regarding her steadily from pale, emotionless eyes.
“Where am I?” she whispered, “What have you done to me?”
Bennette responded calmly, “I thought I'd give you a personal experience of what a snake oil salesman can do. I felt we weren't ... connecting, therapeutically speaking.”
“Please,” said the woman, “Please don't put me back in there. I'm sorry, please, I'm so sorry, I'll do anything, anything you want from me, just please ...”
Bennette said, “There is no mirror room. It does not exist in the hard. You had a little holiday in mind.”
Her eyes opened wide. She swallowed hard and said in a whisper, “What day is it?”
“Tuesday, September 11th.”
“What time is it?”
Bennette put his hand in his jacket pocket, extracted his mobile phone. He consulted with it and said, “It is 11.13 am.”
Dr Potter stared at him, eyes wide open. “I have been here ...”
“For exactly one hour and thirteen minutes.”
She shook her head. “But ... but I was ... it was days ...”
Bennette said succinctly, “That was what is known as hypnosis. Another discredited fringe therapy, a pseudo-scientific game for snake oil salesmen.”
He moved forward towards her, making the woman flinch back in fear, bringing her righ to the end of the bed. “You can't do that, can you,” he said with authority.
She shook her head helplessly.
Bennette said, “Let me put you back into your cell.” And before she could cry out or do anything at all, she was back, lying in the freezing piss, the stench unbearable, her whole body aching with cold, there was shit in the corner, knives in her stomach so bad were the hunger pangs, and her tongue so stiff and swollen that she could breathe, was gagging, she was dying ...
Curled up on her side, with her hands around her throat, choking and retching, Dr Potter found herself back on Bennette's bed.
“That was three days into it. Would you like to find out what happens next? Spend a week? A year? I can make that so, if that's what you want.”
She could not speak but was just shaking her head, feebly, over and over again.
Bennette snapped his finger and with a crazy spinning rush, Dr Potter opened her eyes to find herself sitting on the red chair in Bennette's office. The clipboard was on her lap, and the gold chain of her handback was sliding off her shoulder. She was wearing the clothes she had arrived with, and her glasses were on her nose.
Dr Potter had never felt so absolutely terrified in all her life; she was entirely paralysed from head to foot and could not even blink.
“So hear this, my dear Dr Potter,” Bennette said calmly. “You are an ignorant muppet. You know absolutely nothing about people, nothing about yourself. When you leave here, you are going to close your practice immediately. You will never treat another client, ever again.
“Do I make myself clear?”
Barbara Potter found herself nodding.
Bennette snapped his fingers and Barbara Potter found herself sitting in the red leather chair, her clipboard on her lap, and the gold chain of her white handback sliding down her arm. She turned around to see that Bennette was pulling a memory stick from the computer.
He walked up to her, bent down, opened her handbag and placed the small cigarette lighter shaped object inside. He closed the bag and stood back.
“A pleasure meeting you, Dr Potter. And good luck to you.”
Barbara Potter got up, gathered her clipboard to her and walked from the room. In the corridor, before the door she stood until Bennette came and unlocked it for her, then she walked away.


“Hello?”
“Yes ... this is James Paris.”
“Hello, Mr Paris! How is it going?”
“Can I see you this afternoon?”
“Yes, certainly. I have an appointment at 6pm though and I will need a half an hour before that. So can you make 4pm?”
“Yes, I can. I'll see you then. And thank you.”
“You're most welcome.”

 

A Situation
On the doorstep, Mr Paris said to Bennette, “Please turn your recording devices off when we get inside.”
Bennette put his head back and raised both eyebrows, the bowed and said, “Certainly, sir. If you would wait here for a moment.”
Paris nodded, stood at the open door and when Bennette gave him a wave from down the corridor, stepped inside and drew the door shut behind him.
The old, upright man walked into the office and when Bennette indicated the red chair, he shook his head.
He looked Bennette straight in the eye and said, “I might have ... inadvertantly ... caused a situation.”
Bennette said nothing but leaned against the square rosewood desk, waiting for Paris to continue.
“I am retired now but I used to work as a civil servant. One of my last proteges is still there and I called him to make enquiries about you.”
“Yes?” Bennette said softly. Paris said, “You have a no access file at the highest level and they know where you are, now.”
Bennette nodded slowly. “Why are you telling me this?” he asked of the old man.
Paris looked him in the eye. “I am an old man,” he said. “I've been and seen a great many things. But in all my years, I have never heard anyone say to me that they have my back, for as long as I need them.”
Bennette pushed himself off the desk and stood up straight, pulled his jacket down. “I might not now be able to hold my promise in the way I had at first intended it,” he said calmly.
Paris said, “Who are you?”
Bennette sighed and responded, “Now that, my dear friend, that is a very, very long story ...”

Snapshots Around 5.30pm

Bennette and Paris are in the study, talking intensively together, both men sitting forward in their seats, putting their heads together.
Heather McGregor is telling her best friend, young Stephen Willis, the son of the landlord of the Hen & Crown, that she has invited Bennette to come along to the Four Bells on Wednesday. She is surprised again that Stephen seems to be excited by the news; she had expected him to be angry at her for inviting a third party to what had been their escape together, their own special time. Soon enough, they are giggling and discussing what they will wear on the night.
Mr Durloch is being told by his wife that the school had rung; it had been the head of sports and he said that Jason had tried out for the football team and seemed to have quite a bit of talent. Mr Durloch can't help but shake his head and couple end up embracing in the hallway.
James Durloch is in the act of removing the last of the gothic posters from his bedroom wall. He is smiling to himself and feeling tremendous satisfaction with each one he takes down, then folds neatly and adds to the building stack on the floor before his wardrobe. More and more of the painful baby blue paint on the wall is becoming revealed, and he is looking forward to discussing with Mr Bennette soon what colour might be chosen, and what kind of posters he should acquire. Perhaps a busty blonde or two, he reflects, wearing white fishnet stockings and suspenders, on her knees, turned away and looking over her shoulder, a fingertip to her pink pretty lips and smiling ...
Mrs Stanford is in the salon, leaning against the wall and looking at the manicure station, remembering the feel of Bennette's big, strong hands in hers, they had been so hot, so vibrant. And he had been so responsive, had enjoyed himself so much ... Into her mind floated Deirdre's voice, clearly and exactly as the young woman had said it, “Every woman needs a Bennette!”
Deirdre herself has just arrived at her flat. She doesn't want to take the yellow sun dress off and goes to her room, stands before the floor length mirror, turns her hips from side to side and thinks that she might Bennette make her buy more dresses. Anything he thought would look good on her. “I'm going to get you some more clients,” she thought to herself and smiled, “I know exactly who, as well, and what I have to say to make that happen ...” She stroked down her hips, pushed out her chest. “I am going to make you shitloads of money and you can buy me some dresses, Mr Bennette. And perhaps some shoes ...”
Aria is at her grandmother's house. Agnes Blakelock is not as shocked as one might expect from a Christian lady of her age when Aria relays the events of the staff room and what had happened later with Mrs Stanford and the manicure. She does, however, take her granddaughter's hand and says sincerely, in a voice Aria has rarely heard her use, “Promise me you will stay away from that man. Promise me, Aria.” Aria kisses her grandmother on the cheek. “I promise,” she says.
Sally Wyndon was lying on the couch in the front room of the terraced house she had inherited from her parents. She had taken her underwear off and was touching herself, her eyes closed. She was re-living the fantasy which had first spontaneously occurred to her late on Sunday night, when she had received Bennette's text message after the party - “My pleasure. Sweet dreams ...” Then too she had been on the couch, naked apart from a pink teddy towel dressing gown, and the fantasy had just exploded into her mind - Bennette, on his knees before her, his big hands pushing her fat white thighs apart, blowing his hot breath into her, then burrowing his head into her, pushing her thighs wider apart still, holding her open, attacking her soft and helpless insides with his mouth, his lips, his tongue, his teeth ...
Lynda Vanderhalen is trying to sleep in her bedroom, with the shades drawn. She doesn't want to drink anything. She wants to fall asleep and rest. She wants to be fresh and clear, bright, fully aware for her appointment with Mr Bennette tonight at 10pm. She has decided to ask him if she could have a copy of the recording he made. Ever since then, it was as though her skin had come to life and she could feel everything so ... powerfully. Right now, she could feel her nightdress, the straps just slightly too tight on her shoulders, the weight of the feather light pink silk sheet pressing against her body, the tiny touch of a draft of cool air from the window behind the closed curtains. She could feel the heat in her lower regions too, the tightness in her nipples which was getting ever more intense. With a deep sigh she turned over and lay flat on her back, stretched out, spread her legs. What should I do, Mr Bennette? she thought and there was his voice, low, resonant, “Take off your clothes.” With a sigh of relief, she sat up in the bed and removed her pink nightdress, threw it over the edge and watch it slither out of sight. “And what should I do next?” Bennette's voice was there, right by her ear. “You need to come, my dear. Make yourself come.” Out aloud, Lynda sighed, “Yes, Mr Bennette ...” and set to work immediately.
In her study, Dr Barbara Potter is sitting in front of her lap top where she has been ever since she arrived home at around 12 noon, watching the fast forwarding recording of herself sitting in Bennette's office, all by herself, on the red padded high backed chair, the clipboard on her knees and her hand every so often pushing the gold chain strap of her handbag back up onto her shoulder so it would not fall. She has watched the recording over twenty times, and as it ends again with Bennette coming back into the room and walking towards the computer on the desk, she starts it again at the beginning. It shows her entering the room, looking at the certificate, not saying a single word and going straight to the chair, sitting down in it, and remaining there until an hour and 15 minutes later, as the digital clock that is burned into the recording shows in hours, minutes, seconds and even milliseconds, Bennette comes into the room again, goes to the computer.
The recording ends.

Different Rules Apply
“So, do you sleep with all your clients?” Sally Wyndon asked Bennette as they were walking arm in arm from the salon to the Hen & Crown in the brilliantly bright sunny late afternoon.
She was a big girl and on her high platform heels, reached nearly up to his shoulder; he had to shorten his stride strongly though to prevent her from toppling over on the old cobble stones.
“I don't sleep with any of my clients,” Bennette replied. “Unless it's a special assignment, of course. Different rules apply.”
Sally cast him a surprised glance and stumbled immediately; Bennette held her up strongly and now put his arm about her well padded hips and took the opportunity to draw her much closer to himself.
“A special assignment?” Sally tried to focus but it was very difficult. Bennette's hand was hot on her thigh and his body under her hand and arm around his back was hard, and also very hot.
“Yes,” said Bennette. “Clients can hire me for special assignments. Home visits and such.”
Sally had all manner of images whirling through her mind at that and it really didn't help with her concentration. She tripped again and this time, Bennette caught her completely, swept her up and took her in his arms strongly.
She melted into the hold and looked up into his eyes like a love struck school girl.
Bennette said, “I think we should go to my house briefly, investigate your ankle. You might have broken it.”
Sally, whose ankle was not the centre of her physical attention, could only nod at that.
“You can't be too careful with such things,” said Bennette, and picked the hefty, heavy lass off the floor without there seeming to be much effort. Sally put her arms around his neck and thought, nobody has carried me like this since I was five years old ...
Bennette turned and headed across the market square to his own building. Halfway across, Heather and Stephen came from the salon and stared; Bennette called across that Sally had hurt her ankle and he would investigate this further. Heather just stared but young Stephen Willis chuckled as they watched the big man carry the fat blonde masseuse confindently and powerfully to the archway entrance of his shop, placed her down carefully, unlocked and opened the door, and proceded to carry her across the threshold as his bride.
“Bloody hell,” said Heather, “They didn't even make it to dinner!”
Stephen said, “I hope he gives it to her good. She's been crying out for it for years. Hope she doesn't eat him or something!” and laughed so much, his thin, wiry frame was shaking and he was doubled over.
“Bloody hell,” Heather said again, and then wondered if Deirdre's cool would hold when she found out about this. No point in waiting till tomorrow, she thought, grinned at Stephen and pulled her mobile phone from her pocket with slim fingers bearing brilliant purple fingernails.
Who Is Inside Of You?
The first time, Sally had come for Bennette just by him kissing her in the hallway and touching her breasts through the outside of her clothes.
The second time she came for him was on the white leather couch in the conservatory for the sake of him taking off her ridiculous shoes, her leggings and panties, stroking her fat white legs, sliding his hand into her slit and playing her a little.
Thus having take the edge off the nuclear explosion waiting to happen that was Ms Sally Swindon, Bennette led the big woman, shoeless and naked from the waist down, up the stairs and into the bedroom with the mirrors.
He undressed her first until she was all bare, all exposed. The lights in the windowless room were turned up to maximum brightness, and the fat young woman with her huge, pendulous white breasts and the big rounded belly, the big hips looked like a Boticelli painting on the black silk sheets. The only thing that was wrong with her was her short cropped hair, Bennette thought, she was so very womanly, why put the head of a boy on a body such as this?
They did not speak as Bennette undressed slowly, methodically; folding his clothes with great care and excruciating slowness. He kept his eyes on the woman's slit; even her cunt lips were fat, big, arousing. By the time he had finally stripped off his black silk boxer shorts and turned around to present himself to her, fully erect and more than ready for business, Ms Swindon was breathing very heavily and stroking her own breast, huge, the tiny soft pink teat and even smaller nipple a ripe rasperry found unexpectedly on a glacier mound.
Bennette said to her, very seriously, “I am going to fuck you, Ms Swindon.”
She nodded seriously and waited.
Bennette continued to stand. She swallowed hard and said, her eyes entirely fixed on his dick, “Yes, yes, please, Mr Bennette, if you would.”
Bennette smiled and said, “He doesn't hear you. He doesn't have any ears.”
She startled, confused; her eyes slid away from his dick up to his face.
“I'm sorry,” she said.
He waited.
Sally took a deep breath and this time, to his face, with full eye contact, she said, “Please fuck me, Mr Bennette.”
He nodded and asked, “Are you sure? That you want to fuck me, personally? Or will anybody do with a stiff prick right now?”
She shook her head.
“No, just you. I want you to fuck me, no-one else.” There even was the thought in her head, “Not ever ...” but she didn't give voice to that.
Bennette nodded. “And when I do, is it me or my dick who is going to fuck you?”
“It's you,” she said and found she could hardly breathe now. “You. Just you.”
“Show me,” he said and stepped closer to the bed.
Sally crawled across to him on her hands and knees, bent over his dick but raised her eyes to him. He put a hand gently on her head, then caught some of the short strands of dyed white blond hair between his fingers, holding her head firmly as she put her lips to the tip of his dick and pulled it forward so she could take it into her mouth yet still keep looking up at him.
He held her head firmly by the hair and pushed his hips forward so she had to take more of his dick in her mouth, and started to fuck her mouth quite gently, hitting the back of her throat repeatedly and causing her to gag.
Very slowly, he pulled back until his dick sprang free and slapped back against his stomach. Still holding her head with one hand, he put the other under her chin and pulled her upwards until he could kiss her. He held her soft, soft body very tightly, then he stopped and pulled back just a little. With one hand, he reached down and directed the top of his prick towards her slit, and whilst she continued to look into his eyes, she moved herself forward and brought her leg up so that he could enter her.
Ms Swindon was extremely wet due to her prior adventures; but she was surprisingly tight and gave little cries as his large, rock hard dick entered into her, stretched her, and stretched her more. Bennette had to work to get himself inside of her; not only was she extremely tight but also her cunt muscles were contracting around his shaft randomly, clearly unused to such exercise. Bennette worked his dick in and out of her in short, rotating movements, stretching her, opening her, and finally pushed himself deep inside of her. The woman cried out and went limp in his arms for a moment, then she let herself fall against him, her arms wrapped around his neck, letting herself be impaled entirely upon him.
She closed her eyes.
Bennette said, “Hey.”
She opened her eyes and looked up at him. Her cunt muscles contracted around his prick again, a tight flicking sensation at the very base of his shaft, bigger, more powerful grasping waves lower down.
“Who is fucking you?” Bennette asked softly.
“You are,” she replied immediately and her hips bucked forward, on their own accord.
“Who is inside of you?” Bennette asked.
“You are ...”
He smiled, put his hand under her big, soft, white arse and turned her carefully beneath him so his dick would remain firmly inside of her.
“Alright,” he said. “But keep paying attention and remember who is fucking you right now, alright?”
“Yes,” she whispered and prayed he would stop these games and just take her, please, just get on with it, just fuck me please ...
“Just fuck me please,” she whispered.
Bennette raised his head just a fraction.
“Just fuck me please, Mr Bennette, sir, please”
He took a moment to smile at her. “Very good,” he said softly.
And he did fuck her, until she screamed for mercy.

 

“Hello, and thank you for calling. This is Mr Bennette, the sex therapist. I'm sorry I can't come to the phone right now. Please leave your name and number and I will phone you back.”
Pause.
Very quietely: “It's Lynda, Lynda Vanderhalen. I can't come tonight. My husband has got back unexpectedly ... ahm, I'll call you when I get a chance. I'm so sorry ... bye ... bye now ...”

 

“Hello, and thank you for calling. This is Mr Bennette, the sex therapist. I'm sorry I can't come to the phone right now. Please leave your name and number and I will phone you back.”
Pause.
Crackling.
Pause.
A woman's voice, cracked.
“Please ... “
Pause.
“Please ...”
Pause.
“Please ... help me.”
Call ends.

 

Book Of Truth
At 8pm, with a flourish, Mr Bennette opened the door to Mrs Durlach. He cried, “My dearest lady!”and proceded to kiss her hand fervently; smiling brightly, he welcomed her inside.
Mrs Durloch was smiling too and had flushed bright red during the hand kiss; she was giggling as Bennette led her into the office and installed her to sit down on the therapy couch.
Bennette took a brown paper bag from the desk, unbuttoned what was the third immaculate jacket of the day, and sat down.
“My dear,” he said, “It is so good to see you, and to finally have some time so we can talk. I have so very much enjoyed working with Jason. Your son is a genius.”
The thin woman, who really did look as though at some time, a hose had been inserted into her and all the joy of life had been drained out of her, all the good things, sugar and spice and all things nice, and had left only flesh clinging tightly to bone, and skin clinging tightly to flesh, stopped smiling and put one hand to her head. She sighed and said, “Do you know, whenever I go anywhere to talk about Jason, all I hear is how bad he's been. What he's done now. What's wrong with him. Why they don't like him, his attitude, his behaviour.
“This is the first time I can remember than anyone at all said something ... nice ... about him.”
With that, Mrs Durloch started to cry. Bennette got up, placed the paper bag on the chair of his seat, sat down next to her, then put his arm about her and drew her into a light embrace. He held out his free hand to her and she took it; Bennette squeezed her hand, tightened the embrace and then kissed the top of her head, getting a taste of the hair gel that was keeping her tightly back combed hair immovable, whatever the weather.
He waited until Mrs Durloch sighed before he let her go; but he remained sitting close by her side, his arm touching her shoulder.
“My dear,” he said, “I really don't want to make you cry again, but we do have to state it just the once. Jason is 17 years old. These must have been the most difficult years of your life.”
Mrs Durloch nodded and kept nodding. She sighed but didn't say anything.
“Let me just say this, I have some experience with boys like Jason, and I do know how words can't describe what it's like to try ... and understand him, to reach him, and running up against that wall all the time.”
Mrs Durloch nodded again but said nothing in return, clearly wanting for Bennette to keep talking in his soothing voice. She realised that she didn't want to be listened to, but wanted to be told things, nice things, that could start to heal her a little, nourish her a little.
Bennette nodded and continued, looking at his own hands just as Mrs Durloch was looking down at hers, “Think of Jason like a TV set. He's a wonderful TV set, but he's tuned to a different channel than most everyone else. You can't watch the usual soap operas on that TV, not the evening news, the cookery shows, the sports games, the children's programs in the morning.
“And likewise, where he is, it's very lonely. Very, very lonely. He has all those channels but no-one tunes in, nobody watches. It's a terrible place to be, terrifying for a child. So unbearably alone.”
Mrs Durloch turned and looked at Bennette who was still looking at his hands. In a whisper, she said, “Where you a child like that once?”
Bennette nodded.
Mrs Durloch hesitated for a moment, then she cautiously placed one thin hand on Bennette's leg, feeling the heat radiating through the fine, silky fabric of his black trousers.
Softly and hesitantly, she said, “I've always known that about Jason. That he was so lonely, desperate, trapped somehow. But I just didn't know how to reach him and it broke my heart.”
With this, she retrieved her hand and the big man in black and the small, thin woman in beige both sighed and went back to looking down in front instead.
Bennette said, “I know ... I found the way how to communicate with other people. I found my way out, and I'm teaching Jason what he needs to know to live in this world and not go insane.”
Mrs Durloch shook her head repeatedly. “I don't know how I can ever thank you for this,” she said and her voice was unsteady, “I have prayed for something ...for someone ... I can't believe you are here.”
At this Bennette smiled and sat up straighter. Mrs Durloch looked at him and kept looking into his eyes as he stood. “It's probably a little too early to think of me as the answer to all your prayers,” he said and his smile deepened. “I know where Jason is, and I have reached him, started to communicate with him.
“But like yourself, he had 17 years of hell behind him. It can't all be undone in a week or two. Changes must be made, many changes. And that's not just Jason. You and your husband too, there must be changes from your side also.”
Mrs Durloch nodded, rapidly. “Of course, of course! Anything! I'll do anything, anything at all, just please, please tell me what to do and I'll do it. My husband will, too.” She stopped there, hesitated for a moment and then said with a deep sigh, “He was so happy that Jason was accepted on the football team, he ...” she dropped her voice and looked around for a moment, “... cried.”
Bennette nodded and went back to his chair, picking up the brown paper bag and sitting down again.
“Now,” he said, “There is a serious business we need to discuss.”
Mrs Durloch looked at him in alarm and sat up straighter, wringing her fingers together in her lap.
“The reason you brought Jason to me in the first place was because you were concerned about the ... ahm ... things you found on his computer.”
Mrs Durloch looked as though she was in pain; her brow wrinkled, her thin mouth turned down and her hands made small, unconscious movements in her lap.
Bennette went on, “He told me that it all got started when he found this in your house.”
He leaned across to pass Mrs Durloch the paper bag. She took it from him, peeped inside; a shock wave travelled through her and she dropped the bag and its contents as though it was burning poison, sat back on the couch, one hand raised up in a warding off gesture, “Oh God, no ...”
On the carpet, between their feet, the well worn, old fashioned black book with the golden floral border was peeping out of the bag; the word “Justine” just visible but very bright and clearly legible.
Bennette bent down and extracted the small antiquarian book, held it in his hands then made to open it.
“Please don't,” cried Mrs Durloch, “Please don't ... oh God ... “
Bennette did not open the book but held it between flat hands horizontally instead.
“Dear lady,” he said softly but sincerely. “He would have found something eventually. In some ways, it's a good thing he found this book. It directed his attention and energy in a certain direction, and took it therefore away from certain other directions, which could have been much, much worse.”
Mrs Durloch was shaking. Her breathing was rapid and too many things were going on inside of her for her to be able to control any of it, never mind the total flood of all of it together.
Gently, Bennette asked, “Where did you keep it? And what did you think had happened to it?”
Mrs Durloch whispered, “In my underwear drawer. I thought my husband had found it. He ...” She could go on no further.
“He doesn't like ... to play that way.” It was a statement, not a question. Mrs Durloch, who really was trembling hard now, put her fist in her mouth and nodded just once.
Bennette stood up and took his time placing the book in the very centre of the red leather seat, aligned the corners so it appeared to be sitting on a presentation cushion as would be found at a medal ceremony.
He turned, went to the shaking woman on the couch, took her unresisting hands and pulled her up. He embraced her fully and deeply, wrapping himself around the woman and just held her for a long time, breathing deeply himself until the small, thin woman in his arms had stopped shaking and had begun to breathe with him.
Only then, he said softly towards her ear, “Lies, shame, guilt, all of that is corrosive, it is poison. It hurts people. The truth, on the other hand, the truth really does set us free. The truth is out now, the boil has been lanced, and we can let all of that old shame that really is as disgusting as green, stinking puss, just draine away. Let it all drain away, and start afresh. It's going to be alright, for all of you, it really is.
“All it takes now for us to be truthful and not be so afraid any longer.
“Agreed?”
The thin woman in his full embrace nodded her head against his chest.
Bennette stroked her head, slow, warm strokes.
“You're safe here,” he said softly and sighed deeply, the movement lifting and rocking the woman in the beige suit as though she was lifted by an ocean wave.
“How did you come by that book?”
Mrs Durloch shivered in his arms and shook her head. Bennette stroked her head in slow, rhythmic strokes and held her tight with the other arm. Finally, she said in a very small voice, “My uncle gave it to me.”
Bennette continued to stroke her and hold her, breathing deeply and regularly as though she had not spoken at all. “How old were you?”
“12,” Mrs Durloch said, gave a deep sob and started to cry.
Bennette continued to hold her tight and stroke her.
“The girl, back then, which is no longer here, she found it exciting?”
Mrs Durloch, still crying, nodded.
“The woman, in my arms right now, she knows that a terrible thing was done?”
Mrs Durloch nodded and took a shuddering breath.
“The woman, in my arms right now, still can't get away from it though?”
Mrs Durloch nodded. She wasn't crying anymore but her breathing was shuddering, irregular.
Bennette stopped stroking her head and instead, enfolded her in both arms again, dropping his head to kiss her hair.
“You and Jason both, you are both victims of that original perpetrator, do you understand that?”
Mrs Durloch shivered but eventually, nodded again.
“You and Jason both need to be moved away from that and towards other things, do you understand that also?”
Mrs Durloch nodded. She took a deep breath and became heavier in Bennette's arms.
He gently led her to the couch and sat down with her. He took her hands in his, turned to her and smiled. Softly, he said, “So here we are. We have the truth. How do you feel?”
Mrs Durloch shook her head. “I can't bear to think that I have passed this ... horror ... on to my own son,” she whispered.
Bennette squeezed her hands lightly. “This is one of those things, my dear,” he said. “It's not as bad as you think it is. It set him off in that direction, yes, but he's young enough so he can be re-directed, and re-directed quite easily. And also, Jason is a genius. I'm serious about that. He can do things with his mind that most people can't even dream of. He'll be alright. Don't worry about him, I'll take care of him.”
Mrs Durloch nodded. She hesitated and said, “I don't know how I can look him in the eye. I always thought he ... hated me, was ... disgusted by me, now I know why.”
Bennette shook his head. “You're his mother,” he said. “That's an unconditional thing. He can't help but love you. You're the most important person in his life.” Mr Bennette gave a small laugh and added, “You wanted to be tortured. He gave it to you, in spades. Thinking that's what it took to make you happy.”
At this, Mrs Durloch looked up at him with astonishment, eyes wide, mouth half open. She swallowed hard. “Surely, surely not ...”
Bennette chuckled. “Well probably not so directly but there definitely is an underlying strand there on some level. What we need to do now is to break that spell you've been under since that pervert gave the eleven year old girl that book.
“It's perfect in a way because the book is still here. Passed on down the generations. It's extraordinary, really. On the bright side, we've caught it now and Jason's children won't be finding it in the underwear drawer. Or even in his library.”
“Break that spell ...” Mrs Durloch whispered. “Is that ... even possible?”
Bennette squeezed her hands again. “Absolutely,” he said with conviction. “It isn't even difficult. But here's something we need to think about.
“Jason found the book. He found it in your underwear drawer. He didn't say how old he was and I didn't pry. Having found it, how do you think he feels about your finding his hidden things and trying to make him feel bad about them, trying to make him be ashamed?”
“Oh God ..” Mrs Durloch shook herself all over. “He must think I'm such a hypocrite, he must despise me so ...”
“You are his mother. He loves you. Unconditionally.” Bennette stated it succinctly and precisely. “But you have been doing his head in with saying one thing, and there's this whole other world that he knows exists but it is being denied and lied about. It's very confusing for a youngster.”
Mrs Durloch shook her head, tried to pull her hands away from Bennette but he kept holding them, strongly. She gave up, sighed. “Oh God ...”
“It's alright,” said Bennette with a smile. “Really. It's more than alright. It's fantastic progress. The hardest part is over. We've broken the seal of silence and we're now dealing with facts. We can stop dancing around and lying to each other and do something to make everyone much, much happier. Including Mr Durloch who seems entirely clueless about his wife and his son.”
At this, Mrs Durloch gave a small, tired laugh. “Oh you have no idea ...” she sighed, looked at Bennette, laughed again and added, “You probably do. You ... “ she stopped.
“It's ok,” said Bennette, smiled and let go off her hands. He took a deep breath and said, “I've got Justine now. She's safe with me. I'll keep hold of her, and what we'll do is to go into the kitchen, make a cup of coffee and discuss what we can do so when you get home, you don't have to have a fit when your son looks you in the eye.”
Mrs Durloch smiled back at him. “You are amazing, do you know that?”
Bennette laughed and stood up. “I love to hear it, every time.”
With that, he offered Mrs Durloch her hand and led her into the kitchen.

 

It's Mum

“Yup?”
“Jason, it's mum. I'm with Mr Bennette.”
Pause.
“And ...?”
“Can you tell Dad I might be a bit later? There are some additional things we have to discuss.”
“Oh - kaay ...”
“And Jason?”
“Yeah?”
Pause.
“I'm glad you gave him the book.”
Silence.
“I'll see you a bit later, Darling?”
Pause.
“Yes. Drive safely, mum.”
“Thank you, I will. I ...”
Call ends.

Mrs Durloch stared at the phone in her hand for a long time. She was sitting on one of the seats which was facing the fountain in the sunset garden. Bennette stood, with one foot up on the marble bench, revealing extremely expensive Italian leather shoes, and black socks with the tiniest grey stripes. He was leaning on his knee and said, “It's interesting how one doesn't have to talk for hours at a time. A short sentence suffices - it just has to be the right words, spoken at the right time.”
Mrs Durloch sighed in relief and put the phone in the pocked of her beige suit. She picked up the coffee mug which sported blue dolphins and drank from it deeply. “That was ... terrifying ...” she said.
“And how do you feel now?”
Mrs Durloch looked at the fountain which was splashing high and merrily, lit bright light water against the purple sky and sighed. “Happy,” she said. “Relieved. So relieved. And ... yes, hopeful. I feel hopeful.”
Bennette nodded, took his foot of the bench, turned and sat down next to her, looking at the fountain also. “That's very important. Without hope, there's nothing.”
“What is going to happen next?” she wondered.
Bennette smiled to himself and said, “You should buy Jason a motorbike. Nothing too radical, but something that tells him you trust him, and you're giving him his freedom.
“It also means he come to see me by himself.”
Mrs Durloch was surprised. “Oh? But those things are so ... terribly dangerous ...”
Bennette shrugged and said, “In the wrong hands, sure. Tell me, has Jason ever fallen of his bicycle? Ever been in hospital? Has he ever had any accidents at all?”
Mrs Durloch thought about it. “No,” she said, “No, he hasn't. How weird is that. He's never been ill either, come to think of it. That's ... weird. How didn't I never notice that before?”
“Can you sell the idea to your husband?”
Mrs Durloch laughed. “Sell it? Yes, I can sell it. Give me a million pounds and I let you buy Jason a motorcycle! That's exactly the kind of thing he always wanted for Jason but I wouldn't allow it.” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I've been most of Jason's problems, haven't I.”
Bennette said, “Drink your coffee. Don't beat yourself up.” He laughed. “Leave to me. I'm a sex therapist, remember? And I know a thing or two about the kinds of things you'd like.”
Mrs Durloch's head shot around and her mouth had dropped open again. She swallowed hard, but then forced herself to look at the coffee mug instead. She put it to her lips and drained it dry.
Bennette stood up and took the mug from her. He smiled down at her.
“Right, time to go home,” he said. “I'll see you again on Thursday morning, and we can start to do some interesting things together, to get that moving on process started. The truth is that the old spell is already broken; it won't work any longer. So it needs to be replaced with something much better, not a spell but a prescription for freedom.
“And get Jason that motorbike. As soon as possible. There cannot be either love or trust without freedom.”
Mrs Durloch nodded and stood up. She felt a little wobbly and reached for Bennette to steady herself for a moment.
He took her hand off his arm, kissed it and said, “Drive home safely. And look forward to Friday. I certainly do.”

 

“Hey Deirdre.”
“Hi there. What are you doing?”
“Nothing much. Just relaxing. My 10pm client was a no show.”
“How was it with Sally?”
Laughter, prolonged. “Good exercise, shall we say. She's a lovely lady.”
“Can I come over?”
“It's been a long day ...”
“Is that a no?”
“No.”
“I'll be there in five minutes.”

 

 

Bennette's Girls
Wednesday morning. The weather was still absolutely fabulous, the most perfect blue sky, a fine, fresh wind, “It's like spring,” Mrs Stanford had sighed.
The staff meeting had taken place pretty much right away and today, there were two of the ladies with Cheshire cat smiles on their faces, ending sentences for each other.
Sally had hugged Deirdre straight away on her arrival and cried, “OMG you're so right about him! I've ... oh, my legs are still weak!” Deirdre, whose legs really were still weak as she had come straight from Bennett's house, smiled happily at the fat, younger woman who was glowing. It was interesting how they did not feel jealous of each other, and they had discussed this briefly outside the salon.
“Perhaps it's one of those old things,” Sally suggested. “Back in the day, only one man, the king, he would have all the women. I always wondered about that but ...” Both the women had giggled at that and Sally had said, “We're Bennette's girls. And you know, I think Heather's about to join us.”
Sally was surprised. “Heather? Really? She keeps saying she doesn't like him.”
Deirdre laughed. “Oh you know what she's like. She's just contrary. I would love ...” she dropped her voice down low, “... to see what he does with her. I would love it. I would pay for it!”
Sally said, “Has he told you what we did ... together?”
Deirdre shook her head. “No. You?”
“Nope,” said Sally. “But ... do you want to get together after work, compare notes?”
Both giggled for a considerable time after that and walked into the salon, arm in arm.
Deirdre had told Bennette that she would get him some new customers. He had laughed. “Why do you think I'm sleeping with you?” he had said to her and played with her nipple, “That's all I want you for. You can be my pimp. You can let it be known I'm available for special assignments.”
Deidre had pulled on his ear and asked, “What's with the special assignments? How is that different from hiring you, or for you asking us out?”
Bennette had put his mouth to her breast and sucked on her teat for a considerable time before finally answering, “I get bored sitting in the office all day, as much fun as it is. Special assignments are home visits, often. But they can also be fantasies, like meeting me in a hotel, or in a bar.” He laughed. “I've also been an escort for some ladies who didn't want to attend a function alone. Excellent fun.”
She had pulled his head back and said, “You are a whore, Mr Bennette.”
He had said, “Oh yes. And I love every minute of it.” She had kissed him, mounted him and forced him to make her happy, again. She loved making him do things, dominating him. Before she had met him she had had no idea how much it turned her on to play with a man as Bennette allowed her to do. He enjoyed it as well, and perhaps it was that, she reflected, that made it such a turn on for her. She absolutely loved the idea of him being a whore, of whoring him out and taking him back when he was done with all the other clients, and getting the very best out of him for her own pleasure, in whichever way she might want to take it.
“Hey, Deirdre, come back to earth!” Sally nudged her on the arm, and she was back in the staff room.
“Ah,” she said, “I've found out something interesting about our Mr Bennette.”
The entire group made a forward movement and Deirdre enjoyed their combined hungry attention for a few more heartbeats before she said, “He does special assignments.”
The very word itself produced squeals and many questions.
Deirdre said, “You can hire him to come to your home. And for fantasies. And to be an escort.”
Mrs Stanford raised her head at that, unclasped her hands and leaned back against a work surface. Aria asked, “An escort to what?”
Everyone talked at once. Sally smiled and said, “Next school reunion, I want to take him as my date. Oh My God!”
Deirdre said quite pointedly, “Aren't you going out with him tonight, Heather?”
All eyes turned to the tall model skinny girl in her hallmark turtleneck black sweater, teamed on this occasion with the shortest checkered shirt ever made, and thigh high leather boots.
Heather blushed furiously and waved both hands, palms up, whilst shaking her head so much, she was sending her fire red, long straight hair flying.
“No no no no no!” she cried, “No date. Oh no! I'm just going ... I'm just taking him ... he's just coming along, tagging along to the Four Bells in Whyndon ... I'm going with Steve, Stephen Willis, we go every Wednesday.”
“Yeah,” said Sally and laughed, “Just tagging along ... I was just going for dinner ...”
Heather said angrily, “Well I'm not a complete slut like the two of you. I wouldn't touch him if he was the last man on Earth!”
Sally and Deirdre nudged each other, looked at each other, giggled. Heather turned and stormed out of the staff room; Aria and Rosie McCarthy, who had an early customer booked today, glanced at each other and raised their eyebrows.
Mrs Stanford clapped her hands and said, “Alright, alright. Really. Enough is enough. You girls, do keep your exploits to yourself in future. Don't make me ban the name Bennette in this salon.”
This time, all four remaining girls exchanged meaningful glances. That manicure had been a tough deal trying to forget. But they all obeyed, looked down and started moving around randomly, and Deirdre said, “You're right, I'm sorry Gloria, getting carried away there. Alright! Let's make Coylton beautiful!”
With that, the ladies went to work.

“Hello, Mrs Stanford. How delightful of you to call. How can I be of service?”
“Good morning, Mr Bennette. I ... ahm ... I understand you do special assignments?”
“Indeed I do, my dear lady, indeed I do. What did you have in mind?”
“Well ... I ... I was thinking ... dinner perhaps? At my house?”
A moment's pause.
“Yes, I would like that, very much.”
“How much ... does it ... do you ...”
“Special assignments start from £1000. That would be an evening, from 8pm to 10, 11, thereabouts.”
“Oh ... yes. Ahm. I see. Ahm ... alright, yes, when are you free?”
“Let me check, just a moment.”
Pause.
“We can do Thursday, if you like. I can re-arrange my schedule.”
“Thursday? Day after tomorrow?”
“That's the one.”
“Oh, ok, yes, yes, that would be ... “
“Thursday, 8pm it is. Looking forward to it.”
“Mr Bennette?”
“Yes?”
“What would you like to eat?”
A small laugh. “I'm not worried about eating. But I'm happy to do that if it's important to you.”
Silence.
“Tell you what, my dear lady. How about a salad and some cold meats on standby? Shall I bring a bottle of the red sparkling wine?”
Weakly, “That would be ... nice. And ... ahm ... the payment?”
“I'll text you my bank details. Are we all set?”
“Yes, yes we are.”
“I'll see you on Thursday, 8pm. And I'll need your address.”
“I'll text it to you.”
“Excellent! Have a lovely day, Mrs Stanford.”
“You too, Mr Benette ..”

 

Phone line is open, but no-one speaks.
Eventually ... a woman's voice, raw and resistant.
“You have to help me.”
“I don't have to do anything, Dr Potter.”
“Please ...” Sobbing. “Please ... I ... I can't sleep ...”
“I'm sure you have a very wonderful supervising psychologist you can call upon.”
More sobbing. “Please, I'm sorry ... just please ...”
“Have you cancelled your clients?”
“Yes, yes, yes I have I have, please, you have to undo ...”
“I don't have to do anything, Dr Potter.”
“Please, I'm sorry ...”
“Go see a psychologist.”
“But they can't help me.”
“And why would you say that?”
Bursting out, wailing, “Because they don't know what you did to me!”
“What did I do to you?”
“I don't know ... I don't know ...”
“It is so good to hear you say that, Dr Potter. You don't know. Alright, I've had enough of the game. Go to bed. Sleep. Dream of frogs. It's done.”
“Frogs?”
Dead line.


Just Playing

Mrs Davidson, or Sam, as she was known to her more intimate friend, was the 12 noon appointment of the day.
Bennette took her straight into the first room, where the middle aged, innocuous looking woman in the simple cotton dress with the straw blonde, very curly medium short hair took a seat on the L shaped leather couch.
She handed him a DVD and said, “You wanted to see some examples of what my husband and I get up to. I brought one of our favourites.”
Bennette observed her for a moment longer before he went to take the small square translucent case with the silver disc inside. She looked wholesome and countrified with her tousled locks and what was clearly a natural tan rather than a salon tan out of a bottle. She had nice green eyes; her skin wasn't bad at all and she plain but pleasant face.
She seemed perfectly happy and relaxed; this was unusual amongst Bennette's clientele. He bowed to her and went to the top right corner of a room, where he opened a wall pannel. Inside were a number of black boxes; a music system, an old fashioned VHS recorder, and a DVD player. Bennette inserted the disc and took a slim black remote control, then closed the panel.
He went to sit next to Mrs Davidson on the sofa who had been watching him move around the room with great interest, pointed at the huge mirror over the fireplace.
It wavered and revealed a black screen.
Bennette pressed play.
On the huge screen, the image that jumped into being was pixellated, slightly distorted. There were light flashes and the sounds of voices, and the focus was swimming for a moment before it found a target as a man walked into view, into what seemed to be a pinkish grey carpet in the middle of a room. The man was naked, quite hairy, holding his dick in his hand. He was older, with a belly and had lost most of his hair. He lay down on the floor, stroking his dick hard, and the camera shifted a little bit to put him in the centre.
Next to walk into the frame was Mrs Davidson. She was clearly recognisable; she was naked also and had light skin where a bikini must have been; for a moment, and with the quality of the recording not being particularly good, it looked as though she was wearing underwear but it soon became apparent that she was not. Her hair was longer in this recording but it was the same colour; and her curly pubic hair of a matching colour showed that it was naturally hers.
She stood astride over the naked man on the floor, who was still pumping his own dick; he was looking up at her and getting hard. “Ready?” she could be heard to ask him and he nodded. She sat astride him, taking his dick inside her without further ado, kneeling astride him and stretching forward so she could put her hands on the floor just above his shoulders. It was difficult to see but the man beneath her might have been biting at her breasts; he put his hands around her arse cheeks and pulled them apart.
A second man entered the frame and the camera drew back a little. This was a short, thin man with a big prick; it was long and already ready for action. He stepped up behind the couple on the floor, stood astride the man's legs which were close together, squatted down and here the camera moved to show him feeding his long prick into Mrs Davidson's other entrance.
A third man arrived; this was a dark skinned man, very smooth and muscular, of medium built, with short cropped black hair. He walked around to the other side and knelt behind the first man's head, so that Mrs Davidson could take his prick into her mouth.
The camera zoomed in shakily and lost focus for a moment but the image cleared and became more steady to show the man's dark hand in Mrs Davidson's hair and the other hand feeding a very respectable prick into her mouth.
Two more men approached; the camera zoomed out again to show a skinny tall man with black hair and an older, fat gentleman kneeling either side of the arrangement. Each one picked up one of the hands with which the woman had been bracing herself with and put it on each of their dicks.
And so it began.
The sound track was muttering and groaning, and the camera man, who clearly had to have been Mr Davidson himself, started to shout short phrases of encouragement.
Mrs Davidson in the first room on the leather couch was not looking at the images on the screen; she was looking at Bennette instead, who was in sitting relaxed, his hands on his thighs, observing with interest but otherwise showing no emotion.
Bennette didn't stop the play back either; the writhings on the huge screen and the noises involved went on and on, the formation broke down on numerous occasions; it was re-assembled a couple of times again but then just descended into chaos.
Three of the five men eventually were seen and heard to come; one after the other, the men left the frame and the show ended with Mrs Davidson, Sam to her more intimate friends, lying face down on the carpet, not moving.
The screen went blank.
Bennette pressed stop and it went black.
He turned to Mrs Davidson who was watching him with clear, bright eyes.
He put his head to the side and said, “Do you ever come doing this kind of thing?”
She smiled but did not answer right away. Bennette waited. Eventually, Mrs Davidson said, “I come afterwards. When I get home. I think about what happened and then I come.”
“For your husband?”
She shook her head and smiled.
“Ok,” said Bennette and turned more so he could see her better. “Let me get this straight. You don't come when you are being fucked. You masturbate to come.”
She shrugged her shoulders a little.
“Have you ever come for a man? During what might be termed sexual intercourse in its widest possible metaphorical sense?”
She smiled at him and shook her head.
Bennette sat back in the soft leather couch and crossed his hands behind his head, blew out a long, slow breath through pursed lips.
“How old were you when you had sex for the first time? Full sex, penetration.”
Mrs Davidson smiled and shrugged. “I don't really remember,” she said. “Five, six, something like that.”
“And who were your partners?”
She looked him in the eye and smiled. “I had four brothers,” she said.
Bennette nodded. “And when you met Mr Davidson, he must have thought birthday, Christmas and New Year had arrived all at the same time. Because you never say no.”
Mrs Davidson kept smiling. “Ron has a very high sex drive. Always has had. He says we're a marriage made in heaven.”
Bennette, still with his arms behind his head, cast her a glance. “Does he know about the abuse?”
Here, Mrs Davidson stopped smiling. “No,” she said. “And it wasn't abuse. We were just playing. As children do.”
Bennette drew in a sharp breath at that and responded, “I'm not buying that. Not for one second. But let's put that aside for a moment. What's going wrong with the marriage made in heaven?”
Mrs Davidson, who was not smiling any longer, said, “I keep wondering if there's all there is. We have tried many things. All things. He loves them all but I ... am ...”
“Tired,” said Bennette and sat up, stretching, then folding his hands in his lap.
“Yes,” Mrs Davidson said. “I am tired.”
“When did this whole swinging thing first get started?” Bennette asked her.
“Oh,” she said, “I'm not sure. More than by accident I guess, we were on holiday in Marbella and there was this other couple ... one thing led to another ... when we got home, and that was back in the day before the internet, Ron started to get magazines and look at the advertisements.”
“Did he ask you if you wanted to do this?”
“Of course he did.”
“And you said ...”
“Yes.”
Bennette reached forward and picked up her hand. She was wearing a big emerald of considerable value in a platinum setting that matched her eyes. Her short fingernails were manicured but she was wearing only clear nail varnish.
He massaged her hand lightly before he looked into her eyes and asked, “Have you ever said no to any man at all?”
She shrugged. “Once, a long time ago ...” she said.
“What happened?”
“Nobody played with me or spoke to me for a week,” she said.
“And when they asked again?”
She smiled. “I said yes.”
Bennette let go of her hand and nodded. Softly, he said, “Do you love your husband?”
Sam Davidson looked at him with surprise. She thought about it. “Yes, yes I do. Very much. He is .. he is like a child.”
“Like a child?”
She smiled. “He always wants to play.”
“You don't have any children?”
“No,” she said. “There's something wrong with me. We thought about adopting but ... I have a child, you know. And I love him very much.”
“But not enough to come for him,” Bennette said softly.
Sam Davidson said nothing to that and looked at her hands.
“Does he know you don't come?” Bennette asked.
Sam Davidson smiled tiredly. “No, of course not. I make sure that he always has a good time with me.”
“What about the masturbation? Does he know about that?”
She took a deep breath through flared nostrils. “He's caught me out, once or twice. He thinks it's because I just can't get enough. I'm more careful these days. He hasn't caught me out in a long time.”
Bennette nodded. “Has it ever occurred to you that on some level, he knows that you're faking it?”
Sam Davidson gave him a long glance from her lovely green eyes. She made a small gesture with her head but said nothing.
“What would he say if he was here and learned that every single time you shouted and pretended to have an orgasm, you were lying to him?”
Mrs Davidson looked away, turned her head away from Bennette, closed her eyes and shook her head. “You can't tell him,” she said very quietly.
“I won't,” said Bennette. “I won't break his heart. I don't have to. I think you've done a good job all by yourself.”
She turned her head even further away and said in that same quiet tone, “I wish ... I wish it had been ... different ...”
“Mrs Davidson,” Bennette said, “Sam. What is that short for, Samantha?”
With her head still turned completely to the wall, she said, “Nobody has called me that for ... ever.”
“Where you ever called it?”
“I think my mother called me that but I'm not sure now. She died when I was quite small.”
“Have you ever been in therapy?”
Mrs Davidson slowly moved her head back from the extreme turn she had been holding all this time and looked at Bennette, took a deep breath. “No,” she said, “No. I never wanted to. I never wanted to ... have to ...”
“Explain yourself.”
She nodded.
“You don't have to now, either,” said Bennette. “But one thing I do need to know. Do you want things to be different in future? Get out of the place you're stuck, have some new experiences?”
She shook her head. “It's all too late now,” she said with a heavy sigh, “It's all too late.”
Here, Bennette sat up straighter and his fast movement shocked her. She sat more upright too. Bennette said, “As long as there is a single breath left in you it is never too late.” He said it with conviction, with resonance, with power and the woman before him put her hands before her eyes and started to cry.
Bennette did not move or touch her; he sat still and watched her cry. It did not last very long. She sniffed, wiped her face with the freedom of someone who doesn't wear makeup, and said, “What do you want me to do?”
Bennette said, “I think we might start with you calling yourself Samantha again. Let Sam go and rest in peace. Sam is tired. Samantha, on the other hand, has been waiting to come to life for a very long time. Perhaps she can bring some happiness back into your life.”
The woman on the sofa shook her head. “That's a strange thought,” she said, “A strange idea ...”
“What do you think your husband would say if I suggested not to have any sex for a week or so? Not together, at least.”
She laughed lightly. “He would be astonished. Appalled. Amazed. He would ask why.”
“Oh,” said Bennette, “I can come up with any number of excuses for that. I'd probably go with abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.”
“He wouldn't like it,” she said.
“Would he do it for you? Or rather, not do it - if I told him that it would be good, for you?”
The woman had already nodded whilst she was still thinking about it. “I don't know,” she eventually said.
“Do you think he loves you for more than just the sex?” Bennette asked.
She shook her head. “I don't know,” she said.
Bennette observed her with interest. “I'll be seeing your husband in about an hour from now. What do you want me to say to him? What do you want me to do with him?”
Samantha Davidson shook her head again. “I don't know,” she said, “I really don't know.”
“Do you want to go to more swingers parties?”
“No,” she said. “No. And I don't know why I showed you that. I'm sorry I showed you that.”
“I'm glad you did,” Bennette said softly. “So I could see for myself that you were not enjoying it. Even if you coudn't say it. You were hoping I would see it for myself.”
She nodded and sighed.
“Have you been waiting for your husband to see it?”
She nodded, sniffed, put her head in her hand and started to cry again.
“It's ok,” Bennette said. “I'll make sure you will never, ever have to go to one of those parties again unless you really want to. Leave it with me.”
“But what,” she said and sniffed through the tears that were still falling, “But what are we going to do then? It's ... it's all we have ...”
Bennette sighed deeply. “We'll see,” he said. “Sometimes you really have to destroy before you can rebuild.”
She nodded and the tears receded again.
For a time, both sat and said nothing.
Eventually, Bennette got up, went to the panel at the back, opened it and extracted the shiny silver disc. He put it carefully back into its cover, clicked it into place and went to Mrs Davidson, Samanatha now to her new and very select group of friends, and handed it to her.
She took it without looking at him, stood up, stood before him, her head bowed low.
“Samantha,” Bennette said softly and she struggled before looking up into his eyes.
“Samantha, there is nothing wrong with a woman enjoying many men. As many as she wants. But she has to be enjoying it. Really, really enjoying it. Having fun, having a good time, having fantastic experiences that delight her, empower her.
“In fact, I can't think of a better show to watch than one of those with a woman who loves to make love in every shape or form. It's the ultimate turn on.
“But only if it really turns you on.”
“And ... if it doesn't?”
“Then it must stop.”
She nodded and took a deep breath. “Thank you,” she said. He smiled at her and bowed deeply. “You are a very brave lady,” he said sincerely. “A very brave lady and a beautiful woman. Give yourself a chance, Samantha. I'll talk to your husband in an hour and we can take it from there, ok?”
Samantha Davidson nodded.
On the doorstep, she turned to Bennette, stood up on her tiptoes and gave him a small kiss on the cheek before walking away without looking back.

 


“Hey there ...”
“Hey there yourself Ms Cannon ...”
“I've been having a word as we said, and here's a weird thing. Do you ever give talks?”
Long, long laughter. Eventually, chuckling, “Oh yes. I'm known for it back home.”
“The Chairwoman of the Christian Ladies Association is thinking of hiring you for a talk.”
“Oh, how wonderful!” Prolonged laughter.
“The only thing she's worried about are your high fees .... “
“Let it be known that I am ... very flexible ...” chuckles ...”... and I like to help wherever I can ...” Hoots.
“Perhaps you can call her? It's Agnes Blakelock, she's Aria's grandmother.”
“Adorable! Text me her number and I will take the Christian Ladies in hand.”
Joint laughter. “Do you think I can come too?”
“What, are you not a Christian lady? I'm shocked, Ms Cannon. Join the club!”
“Tell you what. I'll join the Christian ladies if you buy me a new pair of shoes.”
Laughter. “It'll be my pleasure. It's the least I can do ...”
Call ends.
Ms Cannon, softly, “God, how I love you ...”


Dalmore

Mr Davidson arrived at 2pm. He was wearing a light grey linen suit that was a little crumpled, as linen suits tend to be the moment one would look at them; Mr Davidson had been driving and the day was hot now.
The crumpled suit matched his skin which was quite deeply lined from much exposure to the sun; indeed, the tropical themed multicoloured shirt he was wearing, the pale leather loafers without socks and the whole man appeared to be a refugee from Casablanca, ca 1950.
Ron Davidson was smiling which produced even more wrinkles in his face but it was a nervous smile; he was a head and a half shorter than Bennette and the contrast between the two men could not have been more pronounced.
Bennette took him straight into the first room and had him sit in the master chair; Bennette himself sat on the couch.
“Alright,” said Bennette, “Let's cut all the psychology crap and simply talk man to man here.”
Davidson gave a small smile of relief.
“Do you love your wife?” asked Bennette and observed the man carefully for his reaction. What he had not expected was that Davidson burst out into tears on the spot. The man slapped his hands before his face, curled into himself and started to sob, deep, wrenching sobs.
Bennette got up swiftly, put one hand on the wide arm of the big leather chair and with the other hand, started to stroke Davidson's back in long, slow strokes in time with his sobbing, rhythmically, hypnotically. Slowly, Davidson started to relax a little, taking shuddering breaths and eventually was quite still, in the same curled up position, his hands before his face, and Bennette's hand now resting on his neck. So they remained until Bennette said, “I take it that's a yes then,” and Davidson started to laugh, a little at first, then laughing so much, he ended up coughing.
In the end, Davidson let himself fall right back in the chair, rubbing his face with his hands. He looked up at Bennette who was still standing beside the chair and said, “Oh god I needed that.”
Bennette, his hand on the back of the chair, smiling down at Davidson, said softly, “There are so many different forms of release. Orgasms are but one of them ...”
Davidson shook his head and closed his eyes for a moment.
Bennette let him rest for a time, then he said, “How about you and me go and have a brandy in the garden? It's a beautiful day.”
Davidson sat up and took a deep breath. “Yes,” he said, “That would be ... wonderful. You don't have any scotch, do you?”
Bennette smiled. He held out his hand to Davidson, who clasped it firmly and Bennette pulled the shorter man to his feet. “Of course I do. I have a very fine Dalmore for special occasions. Strictly medicinal, of course.”
Davidson raised both eyebrows at that and nodded appreciatively.
Bennette retrieved a bell shaped bottle with a stags head emblem and the two men went outside into the bright, sunny afternoon and started to talk about Mrs Davidson.
“I fell in love with her the first time I saw her,” reflected Davidson. “I've never seen anything as beautiful as she was. And strangely, this was by a fountain too,” he said and indicated Bennette's fountain with his glass. “She was just there, with some other girls, and I couldn't take my eyes off her. When she picked up her bag to walk away I thought I'll never see you again and I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
“I ran after her and caught her by the arm, and then I couldn't say anything, she turned around and looked at me, her eyes were ...”
“Like emeralds,” Bennette finished off the sentence and Davidson sighed deeply, nodded and drank some more scotch.
For a time, the hushing of the fountain was the only sound in the sunny garden, then Bennette said, “And when she went to bed with you for the first time, you knew you had found paradise.”
Davidson nodded. “It's true. I'd had some ... goes at it before but she, she was just ... so much more than I ever could have dreamed of ...”
Bennette took a slow, long drink from his own glass, looked down and asked, “So how did you go from there to her being fucked by five men at the same time whilst you film it and shout encouragement?”
Davidson put his hand to his head and rubbed his forehead. Tears were flowing out of his eyes again but he didn't sob or cry. They just ran down his face and dripped down onto his leg as he said, “I wish I knew ...”
Bennette said, “I know what happened. I can tell you but you can never tell your wife I told you this. She would never forgive either one of us, not ever.”
Davidson turned to look at Bennette. The tears had stopped but had left the man's face tear streaked. He took a deep breath and said, “I give you everything I have, everything I own, if you can make this right ... somehow. Everything.”
Bennette shook his head. “That won't be necessary. Just listen to me now and don't interrupt me. Keep calm, keep breathing. OK?”
Davidson swallowed and nodded.
Bennette reached to pick up the bottle that was standing beside his leg on the stone floor. Balancing his own glass on his knee, he uncorked it slowly and poured a generous triple measure into Davidson's glass. Davidson took the glass from Benette's knee and held it so it could be filled also.
Bennette re-corked the bottle, placed it back onto the floor and took the glass from Davidson. He held it up and said, “To love.” Davidson nodded and very seriously repeated, “To love.” The two men cautiously clinked their glasses together and both took a deep drink.
“God, that's good,” said Davidson and licked his lips.
Bennette took a deep breath and said steadily and clearly, “Your wife was the sex toy of choice for her four brothers from when she was five years old, starting just after the death of her mother, and continuing until she ran away from home age 14. They taught her to never say no.”
Davidson started to tremble, a fine, fast trembling that created ripples in the red gold liquid in the glass he was holding.
“Breathe,” Benette said gently, and Davidson did. The trembling did not go away but stabilised somewhat.
“The fact is that she loves you absolutely. She wants now and always wanted to make you happy. But she doesn't understand what it means to make love.”
Davidson was crying again, the same flowing of tears from his eyes, just tears coursing down his cheeks, rivers of tears, but there was no change in his breathing at all. The tears flowed and the trembling was now receding.
“What needs to be done is to put the past behind you both, firmly, absolutely and start afresh. Ground point zero. For both of you. All new, all clean, all fresh.”
Davidson said slowly, “Is that even possible?”
Bennette took a drink which prompted Davidson to do the same. “It is not only possible, it is necessary. To save both your souls.”
Davidson's lids flicked rapidly at that, making the last of the tears fall.
“I had planned it differently,” said Bennette, “But I do think the time is here and now. Call your wife and tell her to come back. The sun is shining, and we have a fountain. The moment is right. It's perfect. And we would be fools to miss it.”

It's Not Fucking Lemonade

Half an hour later, Samantha and Ronald Davidson were standing by the fountain, hand in hand. The big man dressed in black stood before them. To an outsider, it may have appeared that a marriage ceremony was being performed here; and perhaps it was.
The bride and groom, newly re-named, went home with strict instructions of abstinence and a new appointment was made, not to take place at Bennette's office, but at their own home exactly one week later.
Bennette let the new couple out; he left the front door open and returned to the garden. He took his jacket off, re-filled his glass, leaned back in the garden seat and looked into the fountain.
This is how James Durloch, entirely unrecognisable from how he had appeared only a week ago, in a fine pair of black high fashion jeans, brilliant white shirt, sporting a fresh haircut which revealed his stunning good looks and no make up whatsoever, found Bennette when he bounced into the garden, calling out, “Hey Bennette? Where are you?”
Bennette raised his glass to him and said, “Pipe down, squirt. I'm feeling mellow.”
Jason looked at the older man who had rolled up his sleeves, revealing a light covering of very fair hair on his arms, and who was stretched out to full lenght, feet crossed at the ankles, balancing a half full glass of a dark orange liquid on his stomach. The bottle by the bench was half empty and Jason raised an eyebrow.
“I hadn't taken you for an old soak,” he said with a smile.
Bennette shrugged and pointed at a second glass, previously clearly used, which was perched on the thick back of another of the marble bench seats. “Get yourself a drink and kick back boy, “ Bennette said. “Can't be asked to do any more fucking therapy today. I've had my fill.”
Jason didn't have to be asked twice. He went and got the bottle, lifted it and shook it by the neck so the contents swirled around. “That looks expensive,” he said.
Bennette said, “It's not fucking lemonade. Treat it with respect, squirt.”
Jason laughed at that. He pulled out the cork and poured a good measure into his glass. “You know, if anyone else had ever called me that, I would have kicked the crap out of them.”
“Yeah?” said Bennette and took another drink which drained his glass dry. He held it out to Jason, who filled it and then with a grin, added more for good measure until the glass was nearly filled to the brim.
Bennette looked at that and laughed. “Good god,” he said, “Squirt, are you trying to make me drunk? And then what? Take advantage of me?”
Jason laughed out aloud. “Ah, we'll see,” he said, “Man, isn't it good to be out of that office? Out from under those cameras?”
Bennette's eyebrows flicked up briefly and he wriggled on the seat, seemingly making an attempt to sit up straighter. It was too much effort though so instead he gave up and relaxed.
“Yes,” he said. “It's good. And the sun is shining, the birds are singing. Tell me your good news, squirt, you're bursting with it.”
Jason took a first drink of his glass. The merciless onslaught of the old scotch overwhelmed his senses and took his breath away. “Whoa,” he eventually said, “That's ... good shit.”
“Good scotch,” Bennette corrected him. “You got a lot to learn, squirt. I envy you that. I remember the first time I tasted this. It blew my mind.”
Jason laughed and took another, far more respectful and careful drink from his glass. “It's blowing mine,” he said and closed his eyes.
The birds were, indeed, singing. The fountain rushed, the foliage applauded and far, far away, there were some sounds of cars, a lorry backing up somewhere.
Jason said, “I got the bike. My dad bought it for me this afternoon, straight after school. It's called a SkyJet.”
Bennette chuckled and said, “What a great name. Is it satisfactory?”
Jason laughed. “Oh, yeah. It's cool. I've got a day's course booked on Saturday, I've already got a provisional licence, I'll be riding the thing before the week is out. Freedom!”
“Make sure you pass the course,” Bennette said.
“Ha,” said Jason. “Oh ye of little faith ...”
At this, Bennette made the effort and organised his limbs so he was sitting up straighter. He looked down into the glass and drank some more before answering sincerely, “I have every faith in you. More than you know. At this time ...”
Jason felt a shift in his perception as the scotch kicked in. It was a fractional shift, to the left and forward, but it made the colours of the flowers in the garden seem much brighter, more clearly defined; the greens were richer, more succulent, and the water of the fountain was alive.
He said, “What have you done with my mother? She's like ... a different woman. I hardly recognised her when I saw her this afternoon.” He paused. “Did you fuck her?”
Bennette looked over his glass at the youngster and contemplated the sweep of the young man's neck into his shoulders, his perfect collar bones, his profile. Bennette said, “If I did, how would you feel about that?”
James took a deep breath and a little colour went into his cheeks. He drank a little more, licked his lips and then said sincerely, “I couldn't say. It's weird. I've been weirded out by ... her ... ever since I found the book.”
“Have you ever fucked anyone?” asked Bennette.
Jason smiled, raised an eyebrow. “I went through a phase,” he said, “I wanted to find out how hard it would be to get ... a girl to put out.” He shrugged, drank more scotch which emptied his glass and continued, “I was a little disappointed how easy it was.”
“Did you enjoy it?” asked Bennette.
Jason shook his head. “It was ... disappointing. A big disappointment all around.”
“What about boys?”
Jason shrugged and looked to the bottle by Bennette's feet. Bennette picked it up by the neck and passed it over. Jason stood up from his bench and took it, refilled his glass, more generously than before.
Bennette said, “Put the bottle in the kitchen. We'll extend your capacity to handle this sort of thing over time. For now, that's enough.”
Jason obeyed without question. When he returned, he collected his glass and sat down next to Bennette on the same marble bench.
“I played with it a litte,” the young man said. “I got a few select targets to get their dicks out for me, that kind of thing. It was fun from the control angle but I didn't find it that exciting sexually.”
Bennette turned his head and gazed at the young man. Jason could feel the older man's attention and his balls gave a small tremor. Jason turned and looked Bennette in the eye. “How do you do that?” he asked. “How can you take my erection away, just like that, and make me feel hot, just like that?” He shook his head. “It's amazing. Are you going to teach me how that's done?”
Bennette drank some more from his glass, which was still half full. He held the glass up to the sunshine and watched it sparkle. He smiled. “Piece of piss,” he said dreamily and seemed to drift away.
Jason was rationing himself. There would be no more of this expensive stuff, at least not for today. He just tasted a tiny little bit and enjoyed the sensations and flavours dancing on his tongue.
He glanced at Bennette who was clearly a few sheets to the wind by now and wondered how to take the best advantage of the situation. He couldn't think of anything he wanted from Bennette other than that the older man would tell him things, new things, things he didn't even know to want because he'd never known them before.
“It's crazy,” he said, “I'm actually enjoying the football. Can you believe it?”
Bennette closed his eyes, leaned back and smiled. “Yes, of course I can. It's an interesting game, lots of variables, more than chess. And it's good for your physical condition.”
Jason laughed. “Too right,” he said, “I was panting so much I thought I was going to have a heart attack 20 minutes in. And I do good track and field. That was my choice to keep them quiet, before.”
Bennette said, “Swimming is the best exercise, really. But the football thing, that's not an exercise in physicality. It's an exercise in playing the game at a different level.”
“Oh yeah,” said Jason. “I told the football coach I'd say he'd abused me to get on the team.”
Bennette laughed out aloud at that, and came back to life. “Alright!” he said, “That's ... how did he take it?”
“I've never seen a grown man sweat that much and that quickly,” Jason said and both laughed for a considerable time.
“Now, what's the next step? I'm getting the bike, what's after that?” asked Jason.
“The next step is to get a girlfriend who lives in the village. For practice and so you can see me and come as we please.”
“You mean, come and see me?”
Bennette laughed and Jason coloured. “I walked right into that, didn't I,” he said and took another tiny sip of the scotch.
Then he said, “Straight out now. Are you going to fuck me? Is that the plan?”
Bennette took a deep breath through flared nostrils. Slowly, he responded, “I don't know yet. I'm thinking about it.” He looked directly at Jason. “You're beautiful.”
Something transmitted straight across to Jason and he held his breath for a moment. He found himself saying, “You ... want me?”
Bennette smiled. “Of course I do. You're exquisite, and a virgin.”
“I'm not a virgin!” Jason exclaimed and Bennette smiled and responded, “Of course you are. You all are. None of you have ever had anyone make love to you as you deserve, none of you.”
Jason's brows wrinkled and he said slowly, “My mother?”
“Yes, of course. And every one of my clients, and all the girls I'm fucking for fun and exercise, and every one in this village, and everyone in the houses around the village, and everyone in the county ... all virgins. They fuck and don't know what they're doing, like little children.”
Here now Jason saw his chance. He knew for a fact that Bennette wouldn't be talking like that if he hadn't had God knows alone how much scotch inside of him. Bennette wanted to talk, was at the talking stage of drunkenness and here it was. Jason said carefully, “What else is there? And why do you call us all virgins?”
Bennette turned his head to look at him and said, “Because until you start fucking with your soul, you're not fucking yet. You're playing children's games.”
“Fucking ... with your soul?” James could feel there was something there, but he couldn't nail it down or reach it. “How ... how do you do that?”
Bennette put his hand to his head and sighed. “I could show you,” he said, “I could show you. But it would blow not just your mind. It would blow your entire incarnation to kingdom come. And that,” he sighed again, very deeply, then emptied out the rest of his glass, “... and that is something I won't do.”
Jason said, uncertainly, “But you're here to teach me ... to teach us ... how to fuck with your soul?”
Bennette smiled tiredly. “I'm here to teach you that you have a soul. You need to know that first before you can do anything with it, including fucking.”
Jason shook his head. “Are you ... some kind of priest then? Do you have a cult or something? And using the sex thing to get in?”
Bennette turned on the bench and looked at the young man. He reached over, took Jason's glass away. In a perfectly horizontal movement of his arm, Bennette swung the glass out and then dropped it. It shattered on the stone floor in slow motion; the remaining liquid bouncing up with the crystal shards until all was still.
Bennette put his hand around the young man's neck and drew him to himself, kissed him hard, a conqueror claiming his prize. Jason struggled in surprise for a moment before he submitted to Bennette's kiss, accepting it meekly.
Bennette drew back and regarded the young man, who he was still holding firmly by the neck, from bright grey eyes that seemed like silver on this occasion.
“No cult,” he said. “No priest. And the sex thing is what stands between you people and your souls. Not the sex thing in and of itself, but the mess you've made of it.
“Your sexual circuitry is fucked. Without it, you don't have the power to activate your souls. And that means that the lot of you are fucked, full stop.” He let Jason go and put his hands to his head. He took a deep breath and gathered himself, then smiled.
“Baby steps,” he said to Jason. “Baby steps. One at a time. Draw up a list of potential girlfriends in the village. Take pictures of them. Bring them to me on the next appointment. We'll choose one for you to practice with.
“Now, go get a dustpan and brush. Tall cupboard behind the kitchen door. Clean up the glass. We shall sit in the office, eat an apple, and await your parental taxi service.”

 


“Kevin? Hey there, it's Bennette here. I have to cancel our appointment tonight, something has come up. Can you make Friday night instead?”
“Ah ... yeah, sure. Same time?”
“Excellent. Yes. 8pm. I see you on Friday.”

Go Without Him
“Let's just go without him,” Heather was pleading with her best friend, Stephen Willis from the pub. “He's a creepy fuck and old as the hills. He creeps me out. Come on, this is our night, just you and me, let's just go.”
Steve wasn't impressed. “Don't be such a wuss,” he said, playing with his hair in the mirror. “Everybody's talking about him. Everybody wants to know more about him. It's the perfect opportunity.”
Heather was walking up and down on high heeled leather boots which made her even taller than she already was. She was holding her head, trying to find a way to get through to her friend.
“He's already had Deirdre and Sally. I know he's going to make a play for me. And I'm going to hit him and then he's going to leave us there anyway.”
“Don't hit him,” said Steve, putting some lip balm on and moving his lips together in the mirror. “Let him have a go at you. Play with him. Play hard to get. Find out how much he's willing to pay for your favours.”
Heather picked up a bag from her night stand and threw it at Steve. He didn't even try to get out of the way and laughed. “Seriously,” he said. “Since when have you turned into little miss ice queen? Oh I know. You fancy him you do.”
When a high heeled shoe flew in his direction, Steve made a good impression of a matador and moved out of the way just in time. It collided with the frame of the mirror and slithered down the wall without causing damage.
“Ok,” said Steve. “You stay here if you're so afraid he's going to rape you. I'll go with him by myself. And I'm going to make him buy me a dozen drinks and I'm going to have the best time. And I'm not going to tell you what I did with him, or what he told me in confidence.”
“No way am I going to let you go anywhere with that creepy fuck,” Heather said. “At least there's the two of us. And everybody knows we're going to the Four Bells with him tonight ...”
Steve turned to her and raised his eyebrows. “Are you serious? Do you seriously think he's some kind of serial killer?”
“Oh, I don't know,” young Heather sighed. “But it freaks me out how he has everyone in the salon running rings around him. I've never seen anything like it. It's like he's hypnotizing them or something.”
“Well he is a sex therapist,” said Steve and then burst out laughing. “I just can't imagine ... I can't wait! This is going to be awesome. I tell you, I don't care what you say. Having this guy around is a breath of fresh air. What's the time? Can we go yet?”
Heather checked her phone. “8.17. We might as well get going.” She sighed, picked up a short leather jacket and put it on. She was dressed all in black tonight, black tights, black mini skirt, and a short black boob tube top that left her midriff exposed. Her fire red hair clashed beautifully with her bright pink lipstick; paired with the heavy mascara and the very white make up, she looked as though she had stepped straight out of an anime magazine. Blonde Steve stepped up next to her; he was a head shorter than her, and thinner than her too, but he had spectacular good looks and and was the perfect picture of Dorian Grey, 21st Century, in his leather pants, fishnet T-shirt and high collared leather jacket.
“Aren't we just the best thing you've ever seen?” he asked his friend as their eyes met in the mirror and they both smiled.
“Come on. Let's go play with that old buggar. Let's have some fun tonight.”
Maybach
Bennette, wearing a calf length soft black leather coat, a tight black T-shirt and black leather pants, and, in spite of the fact that it was dark by now, an expensive pair of fashion sunglasses, was leaning against a huge midnight blue limousine parked in the street outside his shop.
“My God,” Steve said to Heather, “Oh my God. The matrix re-loaded. Oh God isn't he just ... oh wow!”
Heather was shaking her head in defeat. She had to admit that Bennette looked stunning, and more than that, he had picked up the vibe and matched the two youngsters to perfection. His leather coat was expensive, exquisite and fitted him as though it had been custom made for him. She couldn't fault his attire and thought if he had been a few years younger, she would feel more comfortable with him. He was older than her father.
As they got closer, Steve whispered excitedly, “Never mind the matrix. He's the terminator!” and then they were upon him.
Heather was looking away but Steve stepped right up to the car and touched it with an outstretched hand. “Wow,” he said, “What is this? I've never seen a car like this before.”
Bennette pushed himself off and straightened out. “It's a Maybach,” he said, “A little indulgence of mine. Supposed to be chauffeur driven but I like driving them myself. Reminds me of the old days.” Bennette laughed and the car doors swung open as if by magic and a space ship like white interior revealed itself under many lights. There were only two aircraft type seats divided by a large central column in the back.
“Alright,” said Bennette, “Let's go. Can't wait to hear this singer. Get in.”
Steve got into the car right away; this forced Heather to go around the other side. Both the passenger door and the rear doors were open; she got in the back and let the huge leather seat enfold her.
The rear doors closed automatically and Heather thought, he's controlling that with a remote, he's locked us in and if he doesn't want to let us out ...
Bennette got into the car and removed the sun glasses. There clearly was a dividing wall between the passenger seats in the back and the driver's seat at the front, but it was down. Bennette's door shut too and a slight shiver transmitting through the seat informed Heather that the engine must have started up.
The lights dimmed away and Bennette took the huge car out into the rood as though he was captaining a ship that was leaving the docks. Or a spaceship, Heather thought.
Soft music started to play, beautiful quality, surround sound.
“Wow,” said Steve, “This is the life ...”
Bennette said, and his voice was clearly transmitted over some form of intercom as it sounded as if he was sitting right beside Heather, “You have to give me directions. I don't know where I'm going.”
“Turn the sat nav on,” said Heather and Bennette laughed.
“You're my sat nav tonight,” he replied, “I'm an old fashioned man and I'd rather hear your voices telling me where to go.”
Steve said, “Just keep on this road. Until we get into Wyndham.”
“Very well, sir,” Bennette said and the limo picked up speed as it hushed through the night.

Summer Rain
Bennette dropped the two youngsters off outside the large, spreading public house which occupied the corner of block in the heart of old Wyndham. The Four Bells had a medieval look; indeed the original portion of the building, which Steve and Heather now entered, was said to be amongst the oldest remaining public houses in the United Kingdom, dating back to the 16th century. Normally they would have made straight for the upstairs, to get a good seat at the front; on this occasion, they stayed at the bar opposite the entrance and waited for Bennette.
“Wonder where he is going to park that spaceship,” Steve remarked, “It's a good job it's Wednesday. He shouldn't bring that thing here on a weekend. Some drunken muppet would kick the shit out of it for sure.”
Heather didn't respond. She was playing with her hair, holding a strand in her hand and moving it so it reflected the lights above the bar and sparkling hypnotically. She sighed. Steve took his eyes off the entrance door for a moment and said, “What's the matter with you? This is great! We got a limousine ride and I bet you he's going to pay for our drinks, all night long.” Heather pouted. “I can buy my own drinks,” she said, sighed yet again. “I wish ...” But Steve had already turned away again and was looking at the door again.
Heather studied her best friend's profile. He has the same look as the women at the salon, she thought. He's waiting for Bennette. He's excited by him. They all are. What the hell do they see in him?
“How old do you reckon he is?” she asked.
Steve answered without turning towards her. “Don't know. 40, 50, 60? Something like that.”
“I don't know how you can fancy him,” Heather said. “He's old. It's disgusting.”
“No,” said Steve dreamily, “It's ... interesting. It's ... “ He smiled and licked his lips. Heather sighed again. She turned away and leaned on the bar instead, which caused the barman, a short young guy with spiked up black hair to look at her questioningly. She thought about it and then ordered a brandy and coke, no ice. “Do you want one?” she asked Steve who glanced away from the door. “I thought we're going to make him buy our drinks tonight?” he asked.
“I can buy my own drinks,” Heather said.
“It's ok,” Steve was already turning towards the door again, “I'll wait for him.”
Heather shook her head, paid the barman with a fiver, keep the change.
Her brandy and coke had long gone when Bennette finally arrived. He strode across to the two youngsters, smiling brightly, looked around and rubbed his hands together. He noticed the empty glass on the bar that had Heather's bright pink lipstick clearly marked out at the rim.
“What are you drinking?” he asked.
“Brandy and coke, no ice,” said Steve and Heather in unison. The two glanced at each other and smiled.
“Sounds good,” said Bennette and made to raise his hand to the barman when Steve interceded. “Let's go upstairs, we can order from the bar there, it's open now. Actually, we're quite late, later than usual. Let's get a good spot if we still can.”
Steve led the way, followed by Bennette and Heather brought up the rear. She sighed again as she followed Bennette's broad black back through the maze of the old pub, then up the stairs to the first floor. Steve wouldn't even notice if I wasn't here, she thought.
The upstairs of the pub was as old and confusing as the downstairs had been. The wooden floor was old, solid; exposed beams everywhere, and many smaller rooms had been opened up to make more space. Even so, there were random old walls left standing and big old wooden supports. Steve led them into a bigger space which had a low wooden stage at the far end, upon which an old upright piano stood against the rough wall, and lots of photographs in frames crooked, black and white, of famous people who had performed on this stage once upon a time.
To the right of the room was another long bar, old simple low round tables and stools were before the stage and to the left, some random walls and stairs to a slightly raised level which held further benches and low tables.
Bennette and his young companions stood out amongst the patrons on this night who seemed to be mostly old hippie types in jeans, with long hair, the women wearing flowing hippie dresses, tie dye was making an unfortunate come back.
At the front tables, there was a noisy group of colourful youngsters, drinking pints of beer. They waved at Heather and Steve. Bennette recognised Rosie, the nail artist from the salon. Next to her was a dark haired youngster with a dark beard shadow and smouldering good looks which drew Bennette's attention.
Steve Willis followed Bennette's glance and said, “That's Kevin McCarthy. He's a right head case. But he can really sing.”
“Ah,” said Bennette, keeping his eyes on the young man who was looking into his beer, flicking one glance in Bennette's direction, before he dived into the pint, drinking and drinking, not stopping, raising up the glass, finishing it all and putting it on the table before him with a bang.
Bennette turned away and placed his elbows on the bar, leaned on them. He found the bar maid's eyes, a pretty thing with flat brown hair wearing a white shirt and a black waitress's skirt, sensible shoes and raised his chin fractionally. The girl approached.
“A tab please,” he said, reached into the breast pocket of his coat and withdrew a silver credit card. He handed it to her and indicated Steve and Heather. “All our orders.”
“Yes, sir,” the girl said and took the card away. A little while later, she returned with a hand held device. Bennette tapped his code into it, handed it back and smiled at his young companions.
“Alright,” he said, “Let's get a seat.”
The last table at the front was still empty because the group of noisy youngsters which included Rosie and Kevin McCarthy were boisterous; but also there was a noticeable exclusion zone around them, as though they were in a bubble which precluded strangers from entering, or even wanting to be close by.
Bennette walked straight up to them, leaned over the low table and held his hand out to Rosie.
“Hello, my dear,” he said, “How delightful to see you again.”
Rosie giggled and gave up her hand. Bennette kissed it and they smiled at each other for a moment, until a sturdy, strong young man with a skinhead cut said, “Aren't you going to introduce us?”
Rosie giggled again and said, “Yes, everybody, this is Mr Bennette.” General hooting ensued. “Mr Bennette, this is Kevin,” indicating the dark young man who only flicked the briefest glance at Bennette before looking down at his feet, then bending right down to fiddle with his shoe laces. “And Cary,” the sturdy skinhead, “Regan,” an older man with curly dark hair wearing a very tight bright white T-Shirt, “And my sister Jane.” Jane was a slightly older, fatter version of Rosie but she seemed very happy and sparkly and held out her hand to Bennette, “Do I get a kiss as well?”
Bennette laughed and arched himself over the beer glass laden table, “Of course, my dear, I thought you would never ask.”
“Steady on there, mate,” said Cary, friendly enough but with an edge to let Bennette know that the ladies at this table were out of bounds. Bennette smiled at him and went to sit down on the first empty stool, which put him next to Regan. He indicated the stool next to his for Heather; to Steve, he said, “Three brandies and coke. No ice. Get the good kind.” Steve grinned and nodded and went to the bar.
Heather was arranging herself and moving the stool further away from Bennette. Regan, on the other side, nudged Bennette's shoulder. “How come you know our Rosie?” he asked. Bennette held out his hand to the man, palm down, fingers slightly extended and said, “I have to have regular manicures on account of my work. I met her in the salon the other day.”
“Ha,” said the dark haired, weather worn man in the blinding T-Shirt who smelled strongly of a perfumed deodorant, “I didn't know she was ... doing men.”
Bennette shook his head. “Mrs Stanford, the manageress, did my manicure. But your Rosie was there and that's how I know her.”
This seemed to satisfy the man but he kept glancing at Bennette. Eventually, he said, “So you're the sex therapist.”
Bennette laughed out loud but didn't answer.
Regan said, “Enjoy your work?”
Bennette stopped laughing and turned to look the man squarely in the eye. “It can be ... extremely tough,” he said. “I've had a tough day. Just want to chill a bit now.”
Regan searched him for a considerable time. Eventually, he nodded. “Yes,” he said, then he smiled. He had a gold tooth at the left side that sparked. “I know what you mean. Leave it all behind for a bit.”
Bennette nodded. “Yeah. Exactly.”
Young Steve arrived, carrying three tall glasses filled nearly to the top with coke pushed together in both his hands. He manoeuvred them onto the low wooden table and went to sit down on the last stool, drawing it forward, in and closer so he wasn't left out at the end.
Bennette picked up the glass, and Steve did too; Heather was sitting with her arms crossed. The two men kept holding their glasses up until finally she sighed and picked hers up too. “To a good evening,” Bennette said and smiled. Steve smiled back at him. The three touched their glasses together. Bennette drank over half of his in one go.
“What's that you're drinking there?” enquired Regan.
“Brandy and coke, no ice,” said Bennette.
Regan laughed. “That's a girl's drink.”
“Oh don't start,” said Bennette, “Give me a break. It's what the kids were drinking so I went along with it.”
Regan leaned forward and looked past Bennette to Heather and Steve in their exotic leather wear.
“What is this, some kind of club?” he asked.
Bennette shrugged. “It's just fashion,” he said. “I like black leather.”
“Oh,” said Regan, “You're one of those ...”
Bennette chuckled and did not respond.
There was movement and a fat, older man in jeans and a check shirt came onto the stage, pulling an extension socket from behind the piano. He was joined by a short thin man with long brown hippie hair carrying a guitar case.
The room was filling up now; all the stools on the tables and the benches on the raised left hand side had been taken. More people were coming in, drifting down towards the bottom end of the bar, close to the stage; and many more were standing up in the back. Two further barmaids had also now arrived; the place was getting busy, noisy.
Steve was calling something across to Bennette but he didn't hear, and then everyone started to settle down as the lights went low, the stage lights came on and the fat guy in the check shirt, now wearing a cowboy hat, stepped up to the microphone.
He welcomed the crowd, introduced the singer, Anne Herzog. A raw round of applause with some calls and whistles swept through the room, and an older, very big lady in a floor length shimmering black dress and a sparkling black jacket joined him on the stage. She was upright, calm; she stood like a column, her white hair in a simple pony tail and she was wearing no make-up at all. A middle aged man with soft blonde curls also stepped up on the stage, took the guitar from the waiting case and settled himself on a high stool, just on the edge of a small pool of light in which Anne Herzog now stood.
The blonde man held the guitar in his arms like a lover, the neck leaning up high against his shoulder, closed his eyes and started to play.
The room fell very, very silent.
The fine clear notes from the acoustic guitar faded, and the woman on the stage began to sing. She had a unique voice with a raw, vibrant quality and sounded like a human being singing, rather than the usual type of trained singer; she sang a folk song she had written and which was her signature tune. Bennette watched her with mounting pleasure and watched how his young companions on the left and the boisterous group with Rosie's relatives on the right were entirely entranced by her.
The song had a beautiful bridge which the blonde guitarist delivered superbly, and when they finished, the room exploded in cheers and applause, and people started to shout out requests. Bennette turned to Heather. “What do you think?” he asked her and Heather nodded and shouted, “She's very good!” Steve also made an appreciative face and gave a thumbs up sign. They settled back into the performance; the next song had audience participation. Anne taught the chorus first to much laughter; but it was clear that this audience knew what they were doing. When it came to performing the song, no-one sang out of place at all and the chorus was belted out not just cleanly, it was entirely in tune.
With the third and fourth song, the people who were standing up started to dance and those who were sitting, were tapping their feet and clapping their hands. The fifth was an intense ballad and Bennette spotted a tear in tough Regan's eye, which made him smile.
There was an intermission to give people a chance to get more drinks, to go for a smoke. Steve had gone for more brandies and coke, no ice, leaving Heather and Bennette alone together, guarding their seats.
Bennette stood up and stretched, smiled down at Heather and said, “I'll be back in a while.” He didn't await a response, and sauntered to the side of the stage, where Anne Herzog was sitting on the guitar player's stool, drinking a glass of wine and talking with the fat man in the cowboy hat.
Heather watched him bowing to the singer, taking her hand and kissing it. The older woman was smiling gently at him and Heather had the curious sensation that they already knew each other; there was something between them. The guitar player came back with a pint of beer and he and Bennette bowed to each other; there was a very similar smile on the guitar player's face. Steve arrived with the drinks and Heather pointed and said, “Does that look to you as though they know each other?” Steve looked over the rim of his glass. He put it down slowly and said, “Yeah. Yes, it does. Huh? Did he mention he's seen her before?”
“No,” said Heather. “He didn't blink an eye when I mentioned her name in the salon.”
The fat promoter had wandered away, which left Bennette, the singer and her guitar player strangely by themselves. They were talking together; at one point Steve saw that Bennette indicated in the direction of Steve and Heather, and both the guitar player and the singer looked over to them. All three nodded and Bennette came back to his seat.
Steve handed him his new drink and asked, “Do you know them?”
Bennette looked at Steve with his pale eyes for a moment. “The night is young,” he said, “Very young. As young as you are.”
Steve Willis flushed and forgot all about his question, especially as a shuffle broke out to their right. Cary, the short, muscular skin head, was having a set to with a big man wearing a cowboy shirt. Kevin and Regan pushed in on this, aggression in their stance, spoiling for a fight, clearly.
Bennette put his glass down and sauntered over. He was taller than all of them and in his black leather coat a presence that simply could not be ignored. Bennette addressed the man in the cowboy shirt. “What's the problem, officer?”
The man pointed at Cary and said, “He stole beer. He has to leave.”
Cary and Kevin giggled and pushed against each other.
“He stole beer?” Bennette enquired, eyebrows raised.
“Yes. When the barmaid's back was turned, he put his glass under the tap and stole beer.”
Bennette looked at Cary and Kevin who were laughing so much now, they were doubled over. Regan was shaking his head, looking up in the air. Sisters Rosie and Jane were sitting close together on their stools, watching proceedings with the look of someone who had been there before, many times, at that.
Bennette stepped a little closer to the big man in the cowboy shirt and said sincerely, “Put the beer on my tab. Bennette's the name. It won't happen again.”
The big man looked from Bennette to Cary who had his shaven head on Kevin's arm and was still laughing convulsively and back again. He nodded. “Alright but that's the last warning. Anything else, and you're all out of here, understood?”
Bennette gave a short bow and stood his ground until the big man who must have been a bouncer had slowly stepped backwards, turned away and went back to the bar.
Cary, who barely reached to Bennette's shoulder, slapped the older man on the arm and said sincerely, “Thanks mate.” Kevin McCarthy had stopped laughing and had sat down again. Bennette realised that the extremely handsome young man was terrified that Bennette would say something, and having met Kevin's relatives now, Bennette understood that in this family, being homosexual was a serious situation.
To Cary and Regan Bennette said, “No problem. What do you think of our entertainment tonight?”
“She's damned good,” said Regan, “Really, really good.” Cary nodded and added, “The guitar player is amazing. I'm quite jealous.” Rosie had heard this and cried out, “You're a million times better than him. You should be up there, I keep telling you.”
“Wonder if they brought any CDs,” Cary said, entirely ignoring his sister's comment. “I'd like to learn those songs. They're excellent. I like to learn a new song.”
Bennette smiled and said, “I'm going for a cigarette. Keep my place, yeah?” The entire family nodded at this and Kevin got up. He picked up the pint glass that had the most beer left in it, raised it and said, “Me too,” without looking at Bennette.
Bennette made for the stairs but Kevin tapped him on the arm and indicated another direction. The young man in the simple pale blue shirt and jeans led the way through the maze of walls and uprights until they emerged on a terrace which was a part of the roof of the rambling building that had been converted to an open air space.
There were quite a few people out there already. Kevin McCarthy led Bennette to the far end, where a huge chimney broke through the roof and a late addition plexiglass barrier prevented guests from tumbling to the car park below.
Bennette reached into the breast pocket of his coat and produced a packed of cigarettes, a flat, wide, red and gold pack. He opened it and created a classic cigarette fan, held it out to McCarthy who took one. Bennette took a slim gold lighter from his trouser pockets. Shielding both hands around the cigarette, he lit it and then passed the lit cigarette to McCarthy, pocketing the lighter once more.
The younger man lit his own cigarette from Bennette's. He drew in a deep drag, blew the smoke out through flared nostrils, handed Bennette's cigarette back and said, “Thanks.”
Bennette said, “They don't know, do they.”
McCarthy hung his head and shook it.
“And they wouldn't be ... very please to find out.”
McCarthy sighed deeply and took another drag from the cigarette. He was still looking at the floor.
Bennette leaned against the ancient chimney with the great stones behind him. He said softly, “It sometimes happens that I meet a client in a social situation. It's better if we act normal, friendly. In fact, the more friendly we become socially, the less people suspect anything else.”
Finally, McCarthy looked up at Bennette who was struck by the young man's extreme good looks. Film star looks. Rock star looks, Bennette thought. You must be fighting the women off with a stick.
The young man said hesitantly, “I ... ahm ... probably ... well, I can't afford you. I'm on the dole, work days sometimes. I heard that you do free short sessions. I just wanted to talk to somebody.”
Bennette said, “Perhaps we can find some common ground. Stephen Willis says you're a singer?”
The young man frowned deeply and made to throw his half finished cigarette off the roof. He stopped himself and took another drag instead. “I sing sometimes. Cary is the one with the talent. He's the best guitar player you've ever heard.”
Bennette went to stand beside him. He leaned on the railing of the plexiglass barrier, looking out at the lights of Wyndham below and the darkness beyond. The darkness had an orange glow.
“Do you do anything else? Do you have a trade?” he asked.
McCarthy turned around and likewise, leaned on the barrier. He took one more drag from the cigarette then flicked it from between finger and thumb. The cigarette flew out, the wind caught it and it landed on the roof of a car in the car park below, creating a miniature orange firework, just for a moment.
“No,” he said. “I'm fucking useless. I do some labouring on the building site where Cary works sometimes. And I've cleared weeds from fields.”
Bennette shook his head. “Have you ever thought about doing something with the singing? Or modelling?”
McCarthy shook his head. “Nah,” he said, then he rubbed his hand through his hair as if he was washing it. He threw his head back and said, “Ok, I see you around,” and walked away, leaving Bennette looking after him and sighing.
Bennette stayed on the roof until the other people started to drift back; he joined them and made his way back to the front of the stage, where his seat had been guarded by Regan, who had pulled the stool forward and put his foot on it.
There were now so many beer glasses on the small wooden tables belonging to the McCarthy party, there was no room for more, including two new full ones each to make it through the second set.
On Heather and Steve's table there were also new drinks; Bennette thus had three awaiting him.
It was very hot and stuffy in the room now; Bennette took off his coat, revealing a tightly fitting T-shirt with short cut arms. It showed off the excellent condition of his body and Bennette smiled to himself and made quite a deal out of folding and arranging his coat, knowing that the eyes of the youngsters were upon him. Kevin, Steve Willis and Jane McCarthy were clearly interested; Rosie kept looking at him from the corner of her eye and Heather pretended not to watch him, keeping her eyes on the stage. Bennette sat down, touching close to Heather with his bare upper arms and he could see her breathing in through flared nostrils. She was scenting Bennette even though she was quite unaware of this, and she sat up straighter, flicking her hair back, stroking herself, sticking her tits out.
Bennette pretended to drop his coat and took the opportunity to run down the side of her thighs with his cheek, then his hair. She pulled her leg away, swivelled to the side but when he looked up, she was looking down on him and upon catching his glance, blushed and turned her head away.
Bennette put his coat, now rolled up tightly, under the table just as the house lights went down and the gypsy singer and her guitarist stepped back up on the stage.
The woman moved to the microphone and said, “By special request for an old friend of mine,” looked directly at Bennette, and started to sing into the hushed hall, “My beloved I would teach you of the wonders of my kind ...”
It was a beautiful song and she was singing it for Bennette, who was sitting with his elbows on his knees, smiling up at her with absolute attention and clearly, a measure of devotion.
There was rapturous applause after the song had finished, and Anne Herzog smiled. The blonde guitarist started up a lively song which had a simple repeating chorus, and soon people were singing, clapping and clearly enjoying themselves. The McCarthy party kept drinking heavily and fast which resulted in Cary getting tired and uncoordinated, Regan becoming louder and Kevin doing strange twitching movements that were not in time with the music.
During the final song, Kevin got up and tried to get on the stage; he missed his footing and fell heavily. He would have knocked the microphone stand down if Anne Herzog hadn't lifted it up and away just in time; so McCarthy was lying at her feet. The big bouncer in the cowboy shirt headed towards the stage, as was another, older man in suit trousers and a striped shirt, and the fat guy who had introduced the act. Anne Herzog tapped on the microphone and said clearly, “Leave the young man to me.”
She had such a tone of authority that all three men stopped in their tracks. The room watched in silent anticipation as the big older woman looked down at McCarthy, holding the mike stand under her arm and speaking into the mike so her voice filled the room,”Hey there, darling. Do you want to sing with me?”
Gorgeous and dead drunk McCarthy, on his back with his knees drawn up, shook his head, waved his hands and said in response, which was only heard by those closest to the stage, “Do The End, it's gotta be The End ...”
A couple of isolated shouts came from the audience.
The woman on the stage smiled, put her lips to the microphone and sang, low and resonant, “Caught in a Roman wilderness of pain ... and all the children are insane ...”
More appreciative shouts from the audience, isolated slow clapping.
“Would you like some Summer Rain?” she asked the young man at her feet, and he put his lower arm over his eyes and nodded.
“Alright,” she said very softly. “Summer Rain, just for you.”
She gave the smallest of nods to her guitarist who started immediately on a beautiful Spanish guitar run and Anne Herzog sang a song which began with, “Summer rain, summer rain, falling gently, summer rain, loves your face, loves your hair, washes free from sin and shame ...”
At her feet, the young man curled up into a ball and just lay there throughout the entire performance which concluded with a quietly hushed, “I am your Summer Rain ...” and a final run of the guitar. The applause was tremendous. Anne Herzog smiled, thanked everyone, named her guitarist as Ray Burnett, which drew more applause until everyone was standing, clapping and cheering. The fat guy came back on stage, walking around McCarthy, thanked the duo for their performance and the audience for attending; the house lights went up, the stage light went off and some ineffectual music at reduced volume started to play over the sound system.
The fat promoter wanted to say something but Anne Herzog gave him a dismissive wave and leaned down to the young man at her feet.
She stroked his hair and held out her hand to him; he took it and she pulled him up. He was clearly very drunk, very unsteady on his feet; he fell into her and she held him in her arms and smiled.
Bennette, followed by Heather and Steve, approached the stage; no-one from McCarthy's own party seemed to want to take a hand in proceedings.
“Would you like me to take that from you?” asked Bennette. The woman smiled. Bennette got up on the stage and she transferred the drunken youngster from her arms into Bennette's. McCarthy didn't object at all and leaned into Bennette, his face in Bennette's chest, weaving and seeming to drop every so often.
Bennette walked the young man off stage using the steps on the right hand side. He took him to where his sisters were still sitting, quite unconcerned; they had to be long used to such antics and gave it no heed.
“What would you like me to do with him?” Bennette asked Rosie. She shrugged. “How are you getting home?” She shrugged again.
“Would you like a lift?” Bennette asked. “I'm driving back to Coylton in a bit. We can squeeze everyone in, but it would be a squeeze.” Rosie smiled and Jane leaned forward and said, “That would great, thank you.”
Knowing that if he put McCarthy back on one of the stools, he would just slide off and land on the floor again, Bennette kept holding the young man upright and walked him over to Steve and Heather. “Could you hang on to him for a moment?” he asked the two, and Steve came forward right away and took the unresisting McCarthy, holding him around the waist from the back. McCarthy put his head back, leaning it against Steve's shoulder and said in a slurred voice, “You're an angel. Fly me to the moon ...” At this, he went very heavy with his legs buckling, and Heather hand to dive in and steady both so they wouldn't fall over. Bennette looked at this with interest as he retrieved his coat and shrugged it on.
Anne Herzog was coming off the stage. There were many people trying to talk to her; she smiled at them but made her way through to where Bennette was standing. She walked right up to him, gave him her hand which he kissed most reverently, raising it right up to his face. He held her hand there as the old singer smiled, moved closer and stroked his cheek with the back of her hand.
“Later,” she said softly, but Steve Willis heard it clearly, as he did Bennette's response, “Always, and only, my lady.”


Site
When Bennette's limo drew into the caravan site that was the home of the McCarthy clan, the white leather interior cabin resembled a refugee camp. Although extremely spacious, the car was laid out with only four seats, two in the front and two in the back. This meant that the additional occupants had to fit themselves in where they could.
Kevin McCarthy had seemed to wake up somewhat when they got outside and by the time they had arrived at the street corner where Bennette had parked, McCarthy insisted he wanted to travel in the boot. Bennette had shrugged, unlocked the boot, watched the young man clamber then fall inside, curl up in a ball again and gestured that the lid should be shut.
Steve sat with Heather in his lap and Rosie perched uncomfortably on the central column over which Bennette had draped his leather coat; Regan and Cory writhed and wrestled in the second seat at the back. Jane, who was a big girl, got the front passenger seat to herself.
Jane directed Bennette down a narrow road which had a row of prefabricated chalet bungalows on one side, and an empty field on the other.
Whilst everyone else disentangled and stumbled from the car, Bennette went to the boot to find that McCarthy was fast asleep inside and refused to wake up. So Bennette pulled him out, hoisted him over his shoulder, locked up the car and followed Heather and Steve into one of the chalets.

A Moment Of Toads
At some time, in the middle of a timeless space that was this night, Heather and Bennette were lying fully dressed in shoes and coats next to each other on McCarthy's bed which hadn't seen a change of bedclothes in a very long time. The two were the least drunk or stoned out of the whole party; Jane had gone home to her children and Rosie had gone home to her mother, but the men were all up again, in the front room of the chalet where the walls were painted black and silver foil had been taped over the windows, watching a DVD and laughing.
Heather had tried repeatedly to get Steve Willis to leave but he wasn't going anywhere; Steve was very much not looking at McCarthy, very much not sitting next to him, very much not listening intently to every single thing McCarthy was saying, and it was perfectly mutual.
Now, Bennette said to Heather, “I'm bored. Do you want to fuck?”
Heather shook her head but couldn't even be bothered to give Bennette a verbal response.
He turned on his side, propped up his head in his hand and, looking at the slim young woman, said, “Come on. Let's make this night count for something.”
Heather looked up to him and shook her head again. “Seriously,” she said, “Pack it in. I'm too tired.”
“It's ok,” said Bennette with a grin. “You just lie there. I'll do all the work.”
Heather had to laugh. “Honestly, what are you like?”
Bennette picked up a strand of her long red hair and wrapped it round his finger. “I'm not like Steve Willis,” he said. “I find you exciting as a woman, and I want to get into your pants.”
She shot him a dark glance. “Leave it alone,” she said.
“No,” said Bennette and gave a little tug on her hair. “I'm not going to leave it or you alone. I want it. Very much, actually. And he does not. He finds it disgusting and you know that.”
Heather pulled her hair from his hand and sat up, made to get off the bed but Bennette put his hand on her arm and held her by taking hold of her leather jacket.
“Listen to me,” he said. “You're in love with a homosexual. You are wasting your time and your precious youth with him. But more than that, every time you go out with him, every time you dance for him, every single time he lets you know again that he doesn't want you, you're becoming sadder and sadder inside, and feel less like the gorgeous woman you are. It's destructive to your soul.”
At the beginning of this speech, Heather had struggled half heartedly against Bennette's grip; towards the end of it, she had sighed and her shoulders had dropped. Now, she was sitting on the bed, half turned away from Bennette, her knees to one side and she had put a hand to her eyes.
“Listen to me and tell me if I'm wrong. You've thought about giving up, lots of times, because you know how sad and depressing it is for you to love someone so much who clearly doesn't love you back. But every time you're just on the verge to call it a day, he'll do something ... touch you on the shoulder, make a little comment that he might just be confused and is thinking about women ... or how women are the most wonderful thing in the world and he really worships them ... and it all starts all over again ...”
The beautiful red headed girl had turned her face away from Bennette and sat very still. He let go off her jacket but she made no move to get off the bed.
Eventually, she whispered, “I don't know how to stop loving him. He is all I see. I don't want anyone else.”
Bennette moved up closer behind her and put his arms around her from the back, laid his cheek against her hair. The thin girl did not resist him, and eventually she sighed and relaxed into his embrace. “Tell me about the moment when you fell in love with him,” he said softly.
Heather leaned her head back against his shoulder and closed her eyes.
“It was on a school trip, we were in the same class. Since kindergarten. Always. We were always friends but there was this one time, there were some boys, they found some toads and were throwing them around like they were just rocks or something. Steve got so angry, he went after them, they were all bigger than he was but he made them run away.
“He came back to me and was still so angry, but he had tears in his eyes and I don't know what happened ...”
“Shh ...” said Bennette. “Shh ... you fell in love with someone you thought would be a strong, beautiful, passionate man.”
Heather nodded. One of her hands found its way to Bennette's embracing arms and held on to it.
“And he is all that, I'm sure,” Bennette said and sighed. “And I'm sure he likes you a lot too. But he is not going to give you what you need.”
Heather shook her head. “I don't need ...”
“Yes, you do,” Bennette said. “You need to feel admired. You need to be desired. You need to be wanted, heart and soul. You need someone who wants to make love to you.”
Heather shook her head again. “Like you, you mean.”
Bennette stroked her hair with his cheek and tightened his embrace of her. “Exactly like me,” he said. “You are a virgin, aren't you.”
Heather moved forward and Bennette let her go immediately. Surprised, she turned around to look at him. He was very serious and as she looked at him, she could not help but think that he was beautiful too. He was so big, so strong, she thought, but I'm not afraid of him. Perhaps ...
Heather took a deep breath and said to Bennette, “Yes. Yes, I am.”
“You've been waiting for Steve. How old were you when the toads appeared?”
She gave a tired half laugh and shook her head. “I was eleven.”
“And how old are you now?”
“22 in two weeks.”
Bennette said nothing to that, just continued to gaze at her until she dropped her head and sighed deeply.
“When is the last time you made love to yourself?” Bennette asked softly.
Heather shook her head but didn't say anything.
A great roar of laughter came through the open door from the corridor and the front room beyond. There was the sound of glass breaking.
Bennette gently took the girl by her shoulder and guided her to lie back on the bed. He took her legs and straightened them out, carefully and without taking any kind of liberties. He pulled her short skirt which had ridden up and was crumpled, as far down as it would go, and she raised her hips slightly to allow him to straighten it beneath her too. Bennette laid himself down beside her and folded his hands behind his head. To the ceiling, he said, “I told Deirdre that I would fuck every single person in your salon eventually. I am perfectly happy to admit to her I failed in your case.”
Heather said, “You don't have to do that yet.”
Bennette turned his head to look at her; she turned her head to look at him too. They said nothing further, and some hours later, in the bright light of a brand new day, when a very hung over and bleary eyed Regan who had an early morning start at work looked into the room, he found Bennette and Heather, fully dressed and with their shoes and coats on, snuggled up on the bed together, fast asleep.


Doorstep
When Bennette's midnight blue limousine drew up outside the shop early on the bright and breezy Thursday morning, the little village of Coylton was still very much asleep and very quiet.
Bennette was wearing his sunglasses; Heather and Steve both wished they'd had some, and the latter much more so than the former. Young Steve Willis did not look too well on this fine morning, but in spite of deep shadows under his eyes and the unhealthy tinge of green to his skin, he was actually very happy.
Bennette had observed in the rear view mirror throughout the journey home that the young man was alternating between grimacing in pain and rubbing his temples, but then a quick smile would flash over his face and he would make as if he wanted to look back.
As they were heading over the hill that lay just before the winding last run into Coylton, Bennette said, “Steve, I wonder if you could come to my house on Friday night, 8pm. I'm having some friends over and I think you'd fit right in.”
Bennette could observe the young man's reaction, his eyes shielded by the sun glasses, and he could see that Steve was intrigued by the invitation. “Yes, love to,” the young man said, then spent a considerable time coughing.
Bennette checked on Heather. She was looking out of the window and said nothing.
She had not spoken to him at all since she had awoken and found herself in Bennette's arms on the mess that was McCarthy's bed. The morning sunlight was uncompromising and revealed a room that was a tip; papers, books, clothes littering the floor, clothes drooping and dropping from every vertical surface. Steve had been asleep on the couch in the front room. McCarthy himself and Cary had vanished, Regan had been the one to wake them all up.
They hadn't talked much and just left, got in the car and now, here they were, three dressed in a fashion that clearly belonged to the night, and not the day. Steve and Heather's make up had taken a beating in the night; Bennette looked as cool as ever. Even his coat showed not a trace that its owner had been sleeping in it.
As Bennette got out of the car, he caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a bundle of rags inside the arched entrance to his shop. He locked the car and stepped forward a couple of strides.
On his doorstep sat Dr Potter, in what seemed to be the exact same outfit she had been wearing two days ago, her arms wrapped around her legs and her head on her knees.
Heather and Steve had drawn up beside him and all three were looking at the dishevelled woman.
“I didn't know we had the homeless in Coylton,” said Steve.
At this the woman on the doorstep looked up. Her wiry grey hair, which had been untidy at the best of times, was now flat out Medusa. Her stare was unfocussed until she recognised Bennette and said in a dried, cracked voice, “I thought you were being cruel, not answering the door.”
Heather said, “Is that a client of yours?”
Bennette shook his head emphatically. “No,” he said, “That's a woman I refused to take as a client. God's sake.” He turned to the two youngsters. “Look, I got to deal with this. Steve, I'll see you at 8 on Friday.” Bennette smiled briefly at Heather, nodded to her and turned his attention to the dishevelled woman.
“Get up,” he said, not at all friendly. She did, slowly and painfully, holding on the side of the archway.
Bennette motioned her to step aside, which she did; he unlocked the door and with a shake of the head, stood back so the woman in the dirty blue outfit could drag herself over the threshold.
Bennette didn't look back and the door closed behind them.
The two youngsters stood for a moment longer, then Steve said, “Alright! That was a good night, wasn't it. Awesome.”
Heather, who was much taller than him in her extreme boots, slowly turned her head and looked down at him. She was not smiling and didn't say anything. She turned and walked for home, a small flat in the house next to the bakery. Steve watched her go, then he too, headed for home.


A Rain Of Frogs
Bennette was in his kitchen, making coffee in a futuristic glass and chrome affair.
He had taken his coat off, revealing the tight black vest and his strong arms; Mrs Potter was sagging against the kitchen door, watching him.
Bennette put a single coffee mug, white porcelain with a fine gold rim, on the spotless kitchen counter and observed the machine with interest, leaving forward on his arms.
“I want you to help me,” the dishevelled woman said eventually.
Bennette responded, without taking his eyes off the machine, “It's always about what you want, isn't it. What about what I want? That you disappear and never darken my doorstep again, in the true sense of the expression.”
“Frogs,” she said and swallowed hard, “Make the frogs go away ...”
Bennette laughed and pushed himself off the work surface. He turned around and looked down at her across the kitchen from his great height.
“You need to kiss them to discover which one is the prince amongst them.”
“Don't play with metaphors,” she said.
“Why not?” Bennette responded, leaning back against the work surface. The coffee machine was making hissing noises and steam rose from it, water bubbled.
“At least I can play with metaphors. I'm good at it. You ... you are just ... ha, I won't even call you crap. You're worse than that, you're nothing.”
“Don't say that,” the woman replied in a low tone.
“Why not?” enquired Bennette. “It's true. If there was something - anything - really alive in that sack of flesh you call a body, a single comment from me wouldn't be able to go in and grow there into a million frogs. You're empty inside. Empty. Boring. Pointless. It's extraordinary how you even have the nerve to dare talk to me.”
“You need to help me,” the woman said and looked as though she would cry but had run out of tears a long time ago.
“No,” said Bennette and shook his head. “No, I don't need to help you. And that's good because I don't want to. We can call it a grand conjunction.”
“Please ...” the woman whispered, “Please ...”
“My God you are boring,” Bennette exclaimed and turned away. His coffee was done; he poured it from the slender glass jug into the white cup. He picked it up in both hands and breathed in the aroma. “Aah,” he said, “That smells so good ...”
The dishevelled woman in her dirty blue suit closed her eyes and was about to let herself slide down the door to collapse to the floor when Bennette said sharply, “Stand up straight, goddamn you. You are one step away from me calling the police and an ambulance. Spend some time in a rubber cell. You could experience the treatment your trade meets out to human beings first hand.
“Yeah, actually, that would probably be the best thing for you. You can sit once a day on a bright orange plastic chair and tell some young idiot who doesn't give a damn about your confusing relationship with your father.
“Only, you wouldn't be able to think too straight, what with that new cocktail of drugs and all ...”
The woman shook her head but straightened herself out again. “What have I done? Why? Why are you treating me like this?”
Bennette laughed. “You might be like Jesus. Only you get to take all the sins of all the psychologists, psychotherapists, psychopharmacists of the world onto your own shoulders.”
The woman stared at him and slowly shook her head. “I only wanted to help people,” she said.
“Really?” Bennette said. “You are standing there, in my own kitchen, and you are telling me you studied psychology because you wanted to ... help people?” He took a drink of the strong black coffee and closed his eyes for a moment, sighed with pleasure.
The woman said, “I wanted to help myself ...”
“If only!” Bennette said. “Tell the truth. Why did you decide to study psychology?”
Dr Potter could not hold his eyes. She dropped her head and whispered, “Because I didn't want to study medicine.”
“Aha!” cried Bennette, “... and there we have it in a nutshell. A negative reason. A non-reason. A nothing reason. What else can we expect from a nothing?”
The woman said, “I just want to be able to take these clothes off. I just want to be able to go to sleep and ... not drown in a rain of frogs ... I promise I'll ... never work again ... I promise just please ...”
“A rain of frogs,” Bennette said. “How meaningful. We could discuss this for weeks, months, years. How therapeutic that could be ... for my bank balance ... but oops, there goes my immortal soul ...”
“What do you want from me?” Dr Potter really did not have anything left to give.
“Nothing,” said Bennette. “Absolutely nothing. What else?”
“At least take the frogs away ...”
Bennette smiled. “If I do that, you'll have nothing left. Are you sure this is what you want?”
The woman nodded.
“Are you really sure?”
She looked up at him and nodded.
“Alright,” said Bennette and put his coffee cup down.
He tapped his finger to the side of his nose and said, “Frogs be gone.”
For a moment, there was silence in the kitchen.
Then the woman pushed herself heavily off the door frame and walked out of Bennette's house.

“And that was Fairground Attraction with It's Got To Be ... Perfect. And what a perfect morning it is here on heart-warming radio Toones FM ...
“News has just come in of a major accident on the A745, blocking lanes in both directions from the Thornton Tunnel. You'll be wanting to avoid that one this morning. We'll update you on the situation as soon as we know more.
“This is Neill Buckhead on Toones FM, your native guide into a fabulous morning ....”


Nothing Happened

Deirdre said to Sally and Aria, “Heather and Bennette slept together last night.”
“No ...” said Aria and Sally nodded, impressed.
“Yes, I got it from Rosie McCarthy. Apparently, they went to this concert and ended up at Parker's Park. And Bennette took Heather into a bedroom there and they didn't come out until the next morning!”
“I can believe it,” said Aria, shaking her head. “I can not believe it. That's just not possible!”
“We'll soon see,” said Sally and laughed. “If they did it, she'll be all smiles and skipping through the door!”
Heather was not all smiles, and she wasn't skipping. She looked tired and unhappy, responding to her colleagues greetings with a small grunt, letting it be known she didn't want to talk.
Sally said to Deirdre, “You know, she looks like you did when you had the ...” She cleared her throat, “... stomach bug.”
“Hm,” said Deirdre. She too observed Heather going listlessly about her work. “I'll talk to her in a bit, find out what really happened.”
“What did he do to you to make you ... like you were?” whispered Sally.
Deirdre tried to remember. That seemed to be a very, very long way away. “I'm not really sure,” she said, “I think he said he treated me like ... I expected him to. Badly.” She smiled and the memory came back. “He made me say to him fuck off you cunt who do you think you are.”
“That's weird,” said Sally. Deirdre shrugged. “It worked. After that, we had the best sex ever. I did anyway. You never know with him ...”
“I think he loves it,” said Sally and sighed.
Deirdre nodded. “Yes, he does.” She thought, and I love him, but she didn't say it. Instead, she went and made a cup of coffee for Heather and took it to her.
Heather glanced at the coffee, then at Deirdre and said over the head of her customer, “Nothing happened. We talked. We fell asleep. That's all. Now go away and tell the others and leave me alone.”
Deirdre took the cup and perched it at the end of the glass shelf under the great mirror of the station. This was strictly forbidden in the salon, but Heather needed something.
“It's going to be alright, you know,” Deirdre found herself saying.
Heather looked up at her with surprise. “What?” she asked, “What is going to be alright?”
Deirdre smiled. “Everything. You'll see. Just have a bit of faith.”
When Heather didn't respond, Deirdre added, “And whatever Bennette said to you last night, take no notice. Just say to him,” Deirdre leaned over and put her mouth to Heather's ear, whispering, “... fuck off you cunt, who do you think you are.”
Heather drew back from her and looked at Deirdre for a while. She seemed about to say something but then she didn't. She shook her head instead and said, “Thanks Dids,” and there, Deirdre's next client arrived, a nice older lady whose millionaire husband had died of cancer about a year ago. Deirdre nodded to herself, straightened out and smiled in welcome.


A man's voice, well spoken, confident. “Hello. I am calling to speak with Mr Bennette.”
“It is he. How can I be of service?”
“Do you deal with ... perversions?”
Clearing his throat. “My bread and butter, you could say.”
“How much do you charge?”
“I prefer to start with a complimentary fifteen minute session to ascertain if we want to work together.”
“Yes, that's good. I would like to make an appointment.”
“Certainly. Any preferences as to morning, afternoon, evening?”
“I can be flexible.”
“How about tomorrow afternoon, 2pm?”
“Fifteen minutes, you say?”
“Give or take. Allow 30, just in case we get on like a house on fire.”
“Yes, I can make that. I will see you at 2pm.”
“Can I have your name please?”
“It's Gibson. G-I-B-S-O-N.”
“That's excellent, Mr Gibson. I will see you tomorrow at 2pm.”


Rip It Up
Mrs Durloch was very scared, very nervous. If it hadn't been for the fact that family life was entirely transformed on so many levels, with her husband so happy, talking to Jason about his new motorbike, about the forthcoming training day, about the football ...
And then there was the way Jason was treating her. Ever since the phone call, where she had let him know that she owned up to the book, Jason had looked at her differently. He actually listened sometimes when she said something to him. This morning at breakfast, she had received a phone call from a friend who was not feeling well and had asked her to come over and walk her dog. She had mentioned this, and instead of either receiving a stony silence or a sarcastic comment, Jason had asked her to be careful. She had felt that he meant it and was stunned by it.
Strangely, as a result of this, she was indeed more careful with her friend Moira's dog, a boisterous collie cross, than she otherwise would have been. She had not taken the dog off the lead and just as she was about to cross the road to the field on the other side, the dog had spotted a rabbit and tried to take off. Mrs Durloch had succeeded in holding the dog back and neither the dog nor Mrs Durloch therefore got dragged in front of a speeding SUV as it came around the corner.
Mrs Durloch was grateful that fluffing her friend's pillows and settling her with a magazine and a fresh pot of tea took her mind off her lunchtime appointment with Bennette. Her stomach flipped every time she thought about it, again and again, until there was just a tight knot of pain in her centre that got colder and more painful, the closer the time came, and then the closer she came to ringing the doorbell.
She had her arms wrapped around her centre and could hardly breathe. Bennette took one look at her, drew her inside, closed the door and as the very first thing, took her into a full embrace without saying a word.
Mrs Durloch was a small lady as well as being very thin; she felt disconcerted by Bennette, confused but after a time she noticed that the hard, cold rock in the pit of her stomach was beginning to soften around the edges and melt in Bennette's hot embrace. When she took a deep breath and realised that the pain had gone, Bennette let her go and stepped back.
Still he did not say anything, just indicated the first door and Mrs Durloch stepped inside.
She walked into the red room and her eyes were drawn to her reflection in the huge mirror. She was wearing a plain beige suit and a white blouse, flat shoes of matching beige. Her face looked flat, pale, her dark brown flat hair scraped back as it always was. She saw Bennette closing the door behind her in the mirror, heard the click as he locked it securely, saw him walk up and stand behind her. Standing like this with the big man in black behind her, she looked and felt like a child.
Bennette, who still had not said a single word, put his hands on her shoulders. They were hot and very heavy. Mrs Durloch stared into the mirror as Bennette's great hands came forward; she felt his body behind her, touching close now as he reached down and unbuttoned the jacked of her beige suit, opened it up, slid it off her unresisting shoulders.
She stood and stared in the mirror, watching Bennette fold the jacket over his arm and placing it on the L shaped sofa. He came back to stand behind her again and a small shiver went down her spine. Bennette placed the tips of his feet either side of her shoes and leaned his whole body against her as he leaned over her again and began to unbutton her blouse.
Seeing his actions in the mirror on that woman but feeling them also at the same time set up the strangest sensations in Mrs Durloch as though this was happening to her and not happening to her but happening to the mirror woman instead.
Bennette pulled the blouse out of the waistband in slow, upward stroking movements, then slid the blouse of her shoulders also.
Mrs Durloch was wearing a white bra which wasn't really a bra at all as she had no breasts to speak of; she reflected on this sad fact whilst in the mirror behind her, Bennette folded her blouse very carefully and laid it on top of her jacket.
She had thought that she would be prepared for him this time but had underestimated the difference feeling his heat and the fabric of his suit on her bare skin produced. She saw the mirror woman put her head back and give a deep breath; and she continued to breathe deeply as Bennette slid the straps of the bra over her shoulders, down her arms, then pushed the whole thing down to her waist. For a moment, she thought he would leave her thus bound, but he did not; he carefully lifted first one arm, then the other free before stroking her shoulders and then running both his hot flat hands straight down from the top and placing them on both her tiny breasts.
He held them there, so hot, unbearably hot; too much heat for her poor little excuses of breasts to take and finally, the heat broke loose and started to radiate up into her throat, into her arms and shoulders ...
Bennette stepped back and a moment later, she could hear and feel that he was unclasping her skirt and pulling down the zip at the back. As he put his arms around her waist and started slowly drawing the skirt down, the heat from her breasts followed his movements and ran down into her thighs, down her legs, into her calves, ankles and feet.
Bennette took hold of the bra around her waist and pushed this down too; it became one with her tights, then her white cotton briefs and she watched and felt in fascination and complete silence as he knelt and pushed everything down to her feet.
The thin, pale woman in the mirror stood naked, rising out of a plinth of beige fabric. She was thin, all her bones were showing, the dark triangle of her pubic hair shockingly at odds, the only thing about her that spoke of womanhood at all.
Bennette stepped back up to her, very close to her. She could feel him pushing into her back as he took her around the waist and lifted her up easily, raising her out of those clothes at her feet. She felt being held and pushed with her feet to free them from the last clinging portion of tights and underwear.
Now, Bennette was holding a perfectly naked creature in his arms. He carried her over to the black platform and stood her up on it.
She held on to his shoulders to find her balance and now was at eye height with him. He put his hot hands on her bony hips and left them there.
She looked into his bright, pale eyes.
Softly, Bennette said, “Tell me about the uncle who gave you the book.”
Standing naked on the plinth, face to face with this man, her hands on his broad shoulders and his hands hot and heavy on her hips, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to speak.
“He wasn't an uncle, he was a work colleague of my father. I had known him all my life. I liked him a lot. I would sit on his lap and he would tickle me, tell me stories, make me laugh. He brought me presents. One time, he took me out for lunch, he made me feel like a grown up princess.”
“What was his name?” Bennette's hands seemed to have grown even hotter, even heavier. It distracted her for a moment. She shifted balance on the soft, furry plinth before responding, “Terence. Uncle Terry.” She sighed deeply.
“And he gave you ... that book?”
She nodded without breaking eye contact. “As a secret birthday present.”
“Did he ever touch you?”
Mrs Durloch gave a small, tired laugh. “No,” she said. “He never did. I never saw him again after that. He ... just disappeared. I never found out what happened to him.”
Bennette held her very steadily. Softly, he said, “And you've been waiting for him ever since ...”
A deep and profound trembling started up in the thin woman; then she contracted from the centre, again, again as though she was going to be sick, but instead, on the next contraction, she started to sob, gasping sobs and tears flying from her eyes on every further contraction, Her hands grabbed the fabric of Bennette's jacket, pulling it tight in her fists as she was holding on to dear life, her head forward and the only centre in the storm, Bennette's strong hands on her hips, preventing her from falling.
Slowly, the convulsive spasms began to calm; they came further apart, became softer, and eventually, they stopped. The tears stopped too and Mrs Durloch was now simply standing, breathing hard until this too, began to calm. She raised her tear flooded face up to look at Bennette and as she lifted it, Bennette bend to her and kissed her, pulling her into his arms, kissing her fiercely, sexually. Finally, she let go of her grasp on the fabric of his suit, her hands went around his head, her arms wrapped about his head and she kissed him back, pressing her body against his as much as he was pulling her towards himself.
Bennette broke the kiss and moved his head back, but at the same time put his hand around her arse cheek and pulled her forward, into his undeniable erection, hard against her bony pelvis.
“If I take you now,” he said seriously, “That will be all over. Forever. Is that what you want?”
The thin woman in his arms shivered. “Please,” she said, “Please make it so. Please. Whatever it takes, please do it. Do it now.”
Bennette nodded, picked her up easily in his arms, had no problem unlocking and opening the door and carrying her upstairs. He chose the room with the mirrors and turned on the lights, easily holding her whilst doing so.
He placed her on the black silk sheets and with a gentle gesture, made her turn her head so he could undo the tight bun which was holding her hair. He did so easily, removing the pins, then then spider shaped object which had trapped her hair, the tight rubber bands. He combed her hair with his fingers. It was so fine, so silky.
He placed the objects he had extracted from her hair onto the bedside table and started to undress, slowly and precisely, as she watched him do so in the mirror, her head still turned away.
He went to kneel on the bed and stroked himself, lingering, sensual strokes until finally, the thin woman who now looked like a woman with her long brown hair and her skin flushed, turned around to observe him directly.
Bennette reached out and put his hand on her head, stroking her fine, soft hair. Softly, he said, “You've read the book. Now what do you think should happen next?”
She shook her head, her eyes on his big prick which he continued to stroke slowly, upwards, only upwards.
“I don't know ...” she said in a small voice, “There were such things in there ... such things ...”
“I'm going to give you a new book today,” Bennette said. “A new book. Would you like that?”
The woman looked up at him and nodded seriously.
“Let's begin then,” Bennette said. “Chapter 1. I am a grown man, and you are but a child. Physically, you are a woman but that's not the whole story. There is much more to it. Above all else, you must want to be a woman. My woman. Do you want to be my woman?”
“I am afraid,” she whispered.
“And excited?”
“Yes,” she admitted.
“Do you want to be my woman?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
Bennette put his hand under her neck, raised her up and kissed her. When he let her go, she was breathing deeply, looking to him, waiting what he would do next.
Bennette said to her, “We could play children's games. I could tell you that you are a dirty little girl. Would you like that?”
She grimaced, bit her lip, then nodded.
“How about we play a different game? A game where you are going to be a woman, a real woman, with a real man, two powerful beings together, fucking the shit out of the Universe itself?”
He pulled her closer to him, hard, so both were kneeling on the bed, his hard dick pressed against her stomach and kissed her again. “Come on,” he said, “I can't do this alone. Only the Gods can tear the Universe to pieces, make it beg and whimper for mercy. You have to help me. Give me your power.”
She shook her head, her eyes wide open, pupils dilated in spite of the bright lights in the room. “I don't know how ....” and at that moment, her hips moved forward against him and she cried, “Oh!”
“Right ...” said Bennette and held her closer still, “Right, just let it come. It's inside of you. It's been waiting to come out. You have been waiting to finally become a woman for decades, And it is here and now ... fuck with me, fuck me ...”
In an upward and forward movement, she melted into him, her mouth finding his, kissing him, her thighs opening, straining and he lifted her up and pushed himself inside her, hard and fast, without mercy, without holding back and Mrs Durloch started to scream as for the first time in her new and adult life, she was learning what is it to be fucked by a man, and what it really felt like to be woman.
She learned that her cries and her own movements enraged and excited him more; she learned that the power of this excitement charged through his hot skin into hers, through his hot hands into every part of her body, through his prick shooting straight up inside of her and out; she was feeding him the power back through her mouth, through her kiss which he sucked from her with endless hunger and charging more and more energy straight back into her cunt, up into her womb, white fire in her stomach, burning away all the ancient pain, roaring lightning rushing out of her throat, bright light exploding from her mouth, radiating from her hair ...
When she opened her eyes, Bennette was holding her in his arms, his head resting on her breast. He was breathing heavily and dripping with sweat, trembling. She saw him and felt him; scented him, tasted him in her mouth; she heard him breathe and then this extraordinary sensation rose in her, like a giant lifting ocean wave, and she had to enfold him in turn and hold her to her breast as though he was her child, such gratitude, the most precious gift of all ...
When they set to kissing each other, here and there, everywhere, in complete devotion and absolute silence, as though they were licking off the last delicious remnants of a great feast, Mrs Durloch thought nothing other but over and over again, oh God, how I love you ...

 

 

Burn

Mrs Cynthia Durloch did not pick up her dear boy from school this afternoon. Instead, the young man arrived by taxi to find his mother, in a flowing silk dress of soft greens and blues, gathered with a very pretty silver belt, bare feet, and a glass of red sparkling wine in her slim hand, her hair unbound and looking happier than he had ever seen her before, in Bennette's garden, by the fountain.
Jason stood still at the threshold of the conservatory and could not believe the woman he saw before him could possibly be his mother.
He felt Bennette, who was immaculately dressed as ever and seemed very fresh and bright, move up behind him. Jason turned around to Bennette, looked up at him and mouthed, “Oh my God!” Bennette smiled, gave the young man a little push which took him over the threshold.
Bennette followed him out and went to sit not on the same bench as Jason's mother.
Jason did, at the furthest end, perched, angled so he could look at her.
She smiled at him most lovingly.
For perhaps the first time in his life, Jason did not know what to say.
He could not remember ever thinking that his mother was beautiful, or attractive, or desirable in any way yet here she was, and she was all of that and more.
Even more extraordinarily, she looked and felt so much younger. She wasn't old at all. If he was to meet a woman like that, he would certainly ...
Jason shook the thought out of his head, took a deep breath and held out his hand in a pleading gesture towards the wine glass in her hand.
Mrs Durloch's smile deepened even more; she took a small sip and then leaned forward to hand him the glass. Jason took it and drained it dry, swiftly.
Bennette said, quite loudly, “We've had a wonderful afternoon's session.” Mrs Durloch laughed at that and dropped her head. Bennette smiled at her fondly before continuing, towards Jason, “There's one thing left to be done and we both thought it would be great if you joined us for this.”
Bennette unbuttoned his jacked and from the top inside pocket, produced the slim black volume with the gold print border, held it up.
Jason flinched but his mother seemed entirely unconcerned; she was calm, smiling. She looked to her son and said softly, “That was a bad thing. Me having this, and you finding it. Mr Bennette tells me you are willing to lay it to rest too?”
Jason nodded before he even had a chance to think about it.
“Excellent,” said Bennette and got up energetically. “Follow me!”
Jason stood up and so did his mother. She had a pair of thin leather sandals matching the dress under the bench; she bent to bring them out, put her slim feet into them as Jason watched. He had never seen that dress or those shoes before.
Bennette led the way to the far left bottom corner of the garden. Hidden behind a tall tree and some bushes was a small shed, and before that, an incineration basket, round, on sturdy legs.
Inside of it there was already something - Jason recognised it as one of the many beige suits that his mother owned, and the one she had been wearing this morning. He could smell that some kind of accelerant, probably alcohol, had been poured on the clothes in preparation.
Bennette fished a slim gold lighter from his trouser pocket and held it out to Mrs Durloch
“Would you like to do the honours, my dear?” he asked.
“Very much so, Mr Bennette.” The slim, short lady with the long brown hair smiled, took the lighter and expertly set fire to the corner of the white blouse. It caught fire immediately, burning with black, acrid smoke and soon the entire circular incinerator was fully ablaze, radiating so much heat that all three had to step back.
“Now for the main event,” said Bennette and gave the book to Mrs Durloch in exchange for his gold lighter.
She took it, hesitated, then opened it and ripped out a handful of pages. She crumpled them up and threw them at the fire.
Then she handed the book to Jason. He, too, tore out some sheets and threw them straight into the fire. They fluttered and rose, burning brightly.
Jason handed the book to Bennette offered it to Mrs Durloch, but she shook her head. “It was you,” she said, “It was you who put an end to it. I want you to burn it.”
Bennette looked to Jason who said, “Right. You burn it. So it burns forever.”
Bennette bowed, stepped up and opened the book, fanned out the remaining pages and placed it face down into the fire.
The book was tough and resisted; but the fire was too hot and once the binding had caught alight, it burned merrily and beautifully.
As they stood and watched the book burn, Jason remembered when Bennette had asked him if he had been Jason's father, how things might have been different. Jason had thought then that they obviously would have been very different, but standing here with his mother to the left and Bennette on the right, doing this ritual together of which each one was an irreplaceable part, Jason began for the first time to have a sense of what this otherness might be, or how far it might reach.
Eventually, Bennette took a deep breath and said, “I am going to drive you both home. Mrs Durloch has had a heavy session today, a long session. She should relax now, and I hear there is still trouble from that accident outside of the village.
“I would also like to say hello to Mr Durloch. And to thank him for trusting me with his family.”
Jason raised his eyebrows but once again, his mother was perfectly calm and happy and nodded. “I can pick the car up any time,” she said. “I am glad you're driving us home. Thank you.”
“Yes,” said Bennette, “... and that reminds me of something else. I'm having a special group meeting on Friday night at 8 o'clock. I'd like Jason to come along. He can assist me if you give permission for that and if he's interested. That's what I wanted to also talk to his father about.”
Jason looked at Bennette curiously. His mother said, “Yes, that would be great. A group? Who else will be there?”
Bennette smiled and said, “Some other young people from the village. They can't afford a private session so I have arranged a semi-formal group for them. They're not much older than Jason here and he can help out with refreshments.”
Bennette had put a little strange dissonance under the word, refreshment; Jason heard it but his mother did not. This made Jason smile. She was happier, that was all that mattered. He could put up with the rest now, he thought, it is what it is, and it would be alright.

 

Bringer
Mrs Durloch had gone to sleep in the luxurious deep leather seat that had a foot rest in the back as soon as Bennette had closed the door. He had raised the privacy shield and now he and Jason could talk freely.
They still talked in low tones though.
Jason, sitting angled in the front passenger seat and not wearing a seat belt, asked, “Now tell me, what did you do to her? She looks ... completely transformed.”
Bennette smiled. “I treated her.”
“Did you fuck her?”
Bennette raised his chin. “I can't discuss my clients, you know.”
“Did you fuck her?”
Bennette grinned and touched his lower lip with the tip of tongue but said nothing.
It was enough for Jason. He let himself fall back into the seat and said, “Fu-cking hell. Whoa. Man oh man! How was she?”
Here, Bennette took his eyes off the road and turned to look Jason in the eye. Jason caught a flash of something; it took his breath away for a moment.
Bennette said softly, “It's inside all of them, you know. It's like diamonds. You just need to know where to find them, then you can go and dig them out, become a very, very rich man. Where others see just a wasteland, I see the diamonds.”
Jason nodded to himself. “But it doesn't make them ... like us?”
“It's a start,” Bennette said. “It's a door opening for them. To get out of the labyrinth of madness, eventually. Perhaps in a few lifetimes ...”
There was that soul thing again. “You really believe people have souls? And many lifetimes?”
“Oh,” said Bennette, “I don't believe it. I know this to be a fact.”
Jason found that he had to swallow. “And our kind?”
“Our kind has been around the block a few times,” said Bennette and smiled. He glanced briefly at Jason and added, “It's alright. You don't have to believe that. You can just stick with the simple and irrefutable fact that we're different and leave the wondering as to where this difference comes from on a shelf marked X-Files for now.”
Jason looked at the closed privacy barrier behind them. It was blacked out completely and impossible to know what his mother was doing.
“She's asleep,” said Bennette. “She won't wake up again until I tell her to.”
“You've hypnotized her?”
“Yes. I wanted to talk to you about Friday night.”
Jason sat up straighter. “Yes? What is that all about?”
Bennette laughed. “When I'm ... well, in one of these, here, I like to keep myself amused. I have a mission but there's a lot of time in between. I found an amusement last night and want to play it; adding you to it lifts it to a whole new threshold.”
“An amusement?”
“Two young gentlemen who think they're homosexuals, are both completely in the closet, and have the hots for each other to the degree that it is cringeworthy.”
Jason laughed. “Steve Willis being one of them. Who is the other?”
“How do you know Steve?”
“I've seen him around. He helps out in the pub and he made eyes at me during my dad's fiftieth birthday party.”
“Did he indeed?”
“Yes,” said Jason and smiled at the remembrance of the incident. “He kept looking at me. I played him a bit and I could tell he was getting the hots for me.”
“Well,” said Bennette and looked at the young man briefly, “I understand why. You're ... delectable.”
“Are you ever going to fuck me?” Jason asked sincerely.
“Perhaps,” said Bennette. “Depends.”
“Depends on what?”
“How the game plays out.”
Jason sat up straighter. “I thought you are playing the game. I thought you were in control.”
Bennette laughed out aloud at that. “Ah but that's the beauty of it, don't you see? I'm in the game, a part of the game. I never know exactly how it plays out. If I did, I'd get so bored with it. I couldn't do what I do.”
Jason Durloch shook his head. “What exactly is it that you do?”
For a long time, Bennette didn't answer. Jason was about to ask again when he heard Bennette say, very softly, “I collect souls.”
Durloch felt the strangest of sensations sweep through him; for a moment, there was a feeling of a spider web that was touching him, encasing him, holding him in place.
“Are you the devil?” He had to ask and held his breath for the answer.
Bennette steered the huge car gently towards the side of the road, letting it smoothly roll to a stop. He shut off the engine. Jason had to breathe again, but he could only take small, shallow breaths as Bennette turned to look at him.
“I am not the bringer of the light,” Bennette said softly, reverently. “Not even close.”
Jason kept fighting for breath, kept fighting to keep himself thinking straight. “But you ... serve ... worship ... the ... the ... the bringer of the light?”
Bennette said in that same soft tone of voice, “I love all the archangels with equal fervour.”
Jason had an impression of huge, radiant wings, a storm of wings and he held out only for a heartbeat before they rushed through him, spun him upside down and inside out. After an unknowable time, he opened his eyes to find himself back in the car, the country lane stretching out before him and the hedges and fields beyond so very green, so very green ...
“Am I the soul you have come to collect?” Jason asked in a whisper.
Bennette, who was still turned towards him, looking at him seriously, said, “I am not sure. But I'm hoping it's you. We'll have to wait and see ...”
Without volition, Jason said, “Don't leave me here. Don't leave me. Please.” He felt tears come into his eyes and did not even try to stop them, did not even try to feel ashamed of them.
Bennette looked at him and sighed. He turned back in his seat, re-started the engine and revved it. There was barely a sound, the great limousine barely gave the smallest of shudders.
“It has been a long time since I've told someone what I do,” he said and guided the car back out onto the open road. “That alone is a new factor. And it makes you special. Even if you're not the one I seek to find here.”
Jason blinked his eyes to clear them of the tears. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.
“Is it only ever one soul you seek?”
Bennette nodded.
“Never more than one?”
Bennette shook his head.
“And you don't know who it is?”
Bennette nodded. “I've even giving up guessing,” he said. “I was always wrong. It's a surprise, every time.”
“Who sends you?”
“It's a long story, Jason. And we will be at your father's house in less than five minutes. Just know this. There are games within games. Game boards beyond game boards. And you get from one to the other not by trying to figure it out in your mind, but by paying attention.
“Tell me what you heard when I asked your mother if I could borrow you for my little group session on Friday.”
Jason said immediately, “I heard you offering me as a refreshment to your other guests.”
Bennette smiled. “Excellent. That's correct. But what else was there? Beneath, below, left, right, and most importantly, above?”
Jason put his hand to his head, to the exact place where his brain had started to hurt when he had tried to do what Bennette had suggested.
“You're trying too hard. You need to learn to let it just come to you, and accept it. That's the first step; with practice, you get to learn to trust it.”
Bennette turned on the indicator and guided the huge car carefully off the country lane and into an even narrower roadway that was not paved and overhung by trees on both sides. He knew exactly where to go, thought Jason, people never find our house on the first try. This thought helped him re-focus and the pain in his head started to recede.
“Have you been to my house before?” he asked.
“No,” said Bennette, “But you have. Alright, now let's get the landing preparations under way.” He touched one of the many digital instruments before him and the screen which divided them from the sleeping Mrs Durloch went opaque, then disappeared entirely. He made some other adjustments and then said loudly and clearly, “Hi honey, we're home ...”
Mrs Durloch started to move immediately in her seat, stretched, opened her eyes and yawned.
“Oh,” she said, looking out of the window and sitting up straighter, “Oh, we're here. I must have dozed off!”
Bennette smiled and said, “People underestimate how tiring the work we do can be. How are you feeling? Bright? Refreshed?”
“Oh yes,” Mrs Durloch said with a radiant smile. “I feel - fantastic! And look at the sun through the trees - isn't it beautiful? What a beautiful day it has been!”

“Mr Bennette?”
“Just a moment, I'm driving. Alright, go ahead, Heather.”
“I ... would like to meet with you.”
“When? Where?”
“Not at your ... place. Nowhere, really. Can we go for a walk or something?”
“Yes. I'd like that.”
“Tonight?”
“It would have to be late. 11pm, thereabouts.”
“Would that be ... ok with you?”
“Yes, of course. Shall I meet you at the church?”
“At the church? Oh ... hm ... yes, why not. Can't really go for a walk in the dark much, can we.”
“It'll be outside. And on holy ground, as it were.”
“You are a very strange ... person.”
“11 pm at the church. I'll see you then.”
Call ends.

Whatever It Takes
At 5pm, Mr Paris rang the door bell.
Bennette opened the door to him and the old man stepped inside.
Bennette closed the door carefully behind him, then he turned to Paris and embraced him, drawing the man close and holding him tight for a considerable time. Paris did not return the embrace but closed his eyes and dropped his forehead on Bennette's shoulder.
At one point, Bennette started stroking the old man's white hair with long, slow, heavy strokes and later, he moved back, took the man's head between his hands and kissed him on the forehead.
Paris was breathing deeply and said nothing as Bennette took the old man by the arm and led him into the first room where he gently assisted Paris to sit in the big chair.
Bennette took off his jacket, laid it on the couch and sat down at Paris's feet on the deep giving red carpet, looking up at the older man.
Paris gave a small smile and folded his hands in his lap.
“It was as you said,” Paris spoke clearly but gently, looking down at Bennette. “They want a list of the people you are engaging with. I am instructed to get closer to you.”
Bennette nodded. “And did they give you the safety advice?”
Paris smiled tiredly. “Yes. I had the full Wagnerian ring. Including what happened to the last three operatives.”
“Yes,” said Bennette and leaned back on his elbows, stretching out his legs before him. “I'm not in the slightest sorry about that.”
“You've got to do what you've got to do,” Paris remarked.
“I don't know why they bother,” Bennette said. “They know they can't ... “ He stopped and shook his head. “It's like it's always a part of the game. As though they have to go through the motions.”
Paris refolded his blue veined large hands with care. “You are playing the same game,” he observed. “I'm sure you'd never end up on their radar if you didn't make that happen.”
Bennette smiled a little and bowed his head in acknowledgement. “I admit it,” he said, “I like to see who they are sending me, and how they go about their business. It's ... vaguely entertaining.”
“Have you ever had an operative who was a client first before?” enquired Paris.
Bennette looked up at him and smiled. “No,” he said, “It's the first time that has happened. It puts a wonderful little twist on the game, don't you think?”
Paris laughed lightly. “I can tell you my wife is delighted. She's losing weight and looks ten years younger. And she can't do enough for me. You are an excellent sex therapist Mr Bennette, whatever else you are.”
“And how about you?” Bennette enquired. “How have you been?”
Paris smiled and flexed his fingers, looking down at them. “I haven't felt so well in years. My back is much better. Less arthritis pain. It's all there, really ... a good home life, a happy wife and some work to do again. What more could a man ask for?”
“Indeed,” Bennette said. “We may well wonder ...”
Paris re-folded his hands and said with great care, “I don't want to be old, and I don't want to die. I want to be like you. Immortal. I am willing to do whatever it takes to make that so, and am fully prepared to take all and any consequences this may entail.”
Bennette put his head back and regarded Paris under half closed lids. “They have never sent me an operative before of your age, either. The others were all ... very much in the blossom of their respective youths.”
Paris sat forward and repeated, “All and any consequences.”
Bennette said softly, “Including the consequences which are unknown to you.”
Paris took a deep breath and said, “Including those.”
“Are you offering up your soul? And that of your wife, and your daughters?” Bennette asked calmly.
Paris held his eyes and said, “If that is what it takes, then yes.”
“Wow,” said Bennette and got up off the floor. This brought him face to face with the great mirror above the fire place and he stood there for a while, rubbing his hand over his hair.
Paris had turned in the chair to be able to watch him, awaiting his response.
“Well?” the old man prompted.
Bennette kept looking at himself in the mirror as he replied slowly, “I can't give you what you want. It is not in my power to bestow this.”
Paris shook his head. “Don't lie to me,” he said, “I have seen the file. Tell me what it takes to make me immortal.”
Bennette turned around to face the old man. “You are already immortal,” he said. “Or you could be. You could have an immortal soul.”
At this, Paris levered himself out of the chair and stood up. “I don't want an immortal soul,” he said clearly and powerfully. “I want an immortal body, I want what you have.”
Bennette shook his head and stepped towards the old man. He reached out and placed a hand on Paris's upper arm. Gently, he said, “You are a child, asking for childish things. You don't know what I have, and what you think you know is in error. But it's alright. You are young. No-one will hold it against you.”
“Young?” Paris cried and took a step away to shake off Bennette's hand, “Young? How dare you stand there and say that? After all I have been through? And now, trapped in this rotting body - how dare you! How ... dare ... you ...” His voice dropped off to a whisper.
Bennette said softly, “I will take one with me from this game here. One. I don't know who it is going to be yet. It could be you.”
Paris shook his head. “No,” he said, “That's not what I want. I want to be like you. Make me like you. I will pay, whatever the price.”
“You don't have the currency,” said Bennette sadly. Paris stared at him, his jaw working and the old man said, “I'll shut you down.”
Bennette said nothing.
Paris stood for a moment longer. He turned and walked from the room, and only moments later, the front door fell to with a resounding bang.

 

 

“Hello Mrs Vanderhalen. How have you been?”
“Ahm, not ... very well.” Sigh. “I couldn't ... come and see you tonight, could I?”
“I'm so sorry, Mrs Vanderhalen. I have a number of appointments already.”
“Oh ...”
“Are you crying?”
“No ...”
“Look I'm doing a special assignment tonight. I will be passing by your house on the way there. I could stop in for half an hour or so if that helps, about 7, 7.15?”
“If you could ...”
“Yes, of course. I'll be there around 7.”
“Thank you ... thank you so much ...”
“It's alright. And Lynda?”
“Yes?”
“Don't drink any more. Just coffee until I get there. OK?”
“Yes ... thank you ...”
Call ends.

 

The Whole Story
Bennette's limousine drew into a large paved courtyard over which a high tech modern building all glass and white rendering presided.
The place was entirely pristine, it appeared as though it had been repeatedly bleached. There was not even the tiniest blade of grass or the smallest weed anywhere to be seen. Bennette ran the car right up to the front door; as he got out, the door, a double winged affair made from brushed steel panels opened on the left and Mrs Lynda Vanderhalen peeped out, wearing sunglasses and a pale green leisure suit.
As Bennette turned to greet her, the woman just ran across to him and flung herself around his neck. He put his arms about her, then turned her and walked her into the house, kicking the door to with his heel as he went.
There was no entrance hall; they were straight into a huge room with a ceiling that went all the way up, at least two floors, and gigantic glass panes out into the garden all around.
In the middle of this space which had all the romance and intimacy of a shopping centre floated an island of furniture, white leather sofas, three of them, surrounding a glass table.
There was a metal clad fireplace that would never see a real fire with a white rug before it; the floor was off white marble and so were the walls.
Bennette walked the woman to one of the sofas and sat her down, carefully untangling her from his neck. He sat next to her, facing her, and took her sunglasses off.
Mrs Vanderhalen was sporting a black eye that was turning yellow and purple at the edges; close up, Bennette could see the amount of make up that was needed to conceal the bruises on her cheek bones and around her jaw.
Bennette unbuttoned the top of her leisure suit, a silky material, polyester probably, enough so he could slide it off her shoulders whilst Mrs Vanderhalen looked down and sighed.
She had dark blue and purple marks around her neck; her upper shoulders were particularly badly bruised and there were many more bruises on her upper chest. Bennette carefully slipped the straps of her white bra off her shoulders and pulled it down. Her breasts were entirely covered with bruises, multicoloured, black, blue, purple, green and yellow, angry red, hardly any portion of skin had remained unpunished and even Bennette's light touch made her whincewince
The woman who was hanging her head gave the smallest of nods.
Bennette shook his head and sighed.
“Come,” he said, “Lie down. Come on. That's better. Let's take that off. Alright. I'm going to take your pants off, just keep your eyes shut and relax. I just want to see the whole story.”
She raised her hips for him so he could slide off her trousers and her underwear. There was severe bruising on the left side of her stomach, and her lower parts too had taken a severe beating. Bennette indicated with his touch for her to move over a little so he could see her back. The bruising here was concentrated mostly on her buttocks and upper thighs, and there were deep purple marks around her ankles too.
Bennette sat back on his heels and shook his head. “You should be in hospital,” he said softly. “He's kicked the shit out of you. You might have internal damage. You might be dying.”
The woman put her arm over her eyes and shook her head but said nothing.
Bennette stood up and blew out a breath through pursed lips. He took off his jacket, then after a moment's hesitation, unbuttoned his shirt and took that off too, folding it very carefully and placing it on one the spare couches. He took his pants off too, his shoes and socks and arranged them neatly.
Now clad only in his usual black silk boxer shorts. he knelt down before the couch, on a level with Mrs Vanderhalen's bruised hips, flexed his shoulders and rubbed his hands together.
He said, “This may hurt just a little, but you'll feel better for it. Alright?”
The woman with the arm over her eyes nodded.
“And remember to shout stop if you want me to stop.”
She nodded and Bennette saw that tears were starting to flow out from under her sheltering arm. He didn't stop, did he, Bennette thought. How long did this take? How long until you didn't even beg for mercy any longer?
He shook his head, closed his eyes and concentrated.
He put his hands floating over the worst of the injuries, where she had been kicked while she was down, and Mrs Vanderhalen started to moan even though he was not touching her, moaning in pain and moving painfully beneath his hands.
The angry, purple red bruising seemed to deepen for a moment then it began to lighten and fade from the edges in, and Mrs Vanderhalen let out a deep, deep sigh and lay still again.
Bennette worked his way down her body first, not touching her but her cries and shivers, moans and sighs were a clear indication that something was happening to the beaten woman, as was the fact that many bruises began to fade, and some disappeared altogether.
When he was done with her feet and her toes, Bennette went back to work on her shoulders. By this time she had her eyes open, looking up at the ceiling and wasn't crying any longer. He spent a long time on her neck, then her jaw which he held in invisible hands, then moving up her face into her hair, as far as he could reach.
He stopped, looked down at her and said,”You have internal bruising but nothing life threatening. You don't have to go to the hospital.”
The woman nodded, tried to smile and failed.
“Alright,” said Bennette softly, “Now to heal the broken heart.”
With his hand on her arm and shoulder, he guided her to a sitting position, helped her swing her legs over the edge of the white leather sofa, then helped her to stand up. He stepped around behind her, keeping his hands on her elbows which were less bruised than her upper arms and sat down on the sofa. Now he guided her to sit down on the ground before him, between his legs.
Mrs Vanderhalen sighed deeply and laid her cheek on his thigh, eyes closed again.
Bennette stroked her soft hair, stroked her head, raised her hair so he could put his hand on her neck and run it down her spine; then he indicated for her to lean back and placed his hands over her battered breasts.
Here, her hands came up and she gripped his wrists tightly, digging in her nails; all the many pains that were flaring up as though it was all happening again made her cry and gasp, and moan, but she did not ask for him to stop. Eventually Bennette took a deep shuddering breath and cupped her breasts carefully in his big hands.
She shuddered and then went very, very still.
So they remained for quite some time until Bennette let her go. He got up from behind her and raised her back up so she could sit on the couch again. He found her green top and helped her put her arms into the sleeves, then buttoned it up for her. He sat next to her and took her hand in his.
“Do you love your husband?” he asked her.
Mrs Vanderhalen sighed and said, “Yes.”
Bennette nodded. “Then it must be clear to you that you need to leave him before he becomes your murderer.”
She put one hand to her head and said very quietly, “It's all my fault.”
Bennette raised his eyebrows but she could not see that. “What was it this time?” he asked with a sarcastic undertone that entirely passed the beaten woman in the green shirt by.
“He found me in the bed ... I was ... no clothes ... doing ...”
“He walked in on you masturbating?” Bennette said succinctly.
The woman dropped her head even lower and whispered, “Yes.”
“And he went berserk?”
She nodded.
“Did he have sex with you at any time during this ... assault?”
“No,” she said and shook her head. “He just kept screaming at me ... He didn't stop ...”
“And after it was over?”
She shook her head again. “I woke up in the night ... he was gone again ...”
Bennette gave a small snort. “He just left you here? Alone? Has he been in touch since? Phone call? Text message? Email?”
She shook her head. She glanced briefly at Bennette and said in a whisper, “I'm so afraid he could come back ... any minute now ...”
“Hm ...” said Bennette, “I think I'd like that. Yes, I'd like that very much. But seriously now, he doesn't even know if you are dead or alive?”
She said nothing.
“I wonder if he thinks you're dead,” Bennette mused. “I wonder ... “
He looked at the woman whose hand with the broken fingernails he was still holding and said, “Alright. You're coming home with me. I have an appointment at 8 but there's plenty of time for a quick run back to Coylton. Put your pants back on, get your handbag. We are leaving, and we are leaving now.”
The woman got painfully off the couch, found her trousers and struggled into them. She walked slowly towards the far right end of the huge space and disappeared from view. Bennette, still undressed, followed her to see that there was a huge kitchen around the corner, all the work surfaces of shining, spotless metal and the only thing alive was an empty bottle of wine and a glass, likewise empty, on the kitchen counter.
Bennette headed for the double sink, ran cold water and washed his face, rubbed some water through his hair. He looked around for a towel or a kitchen towel but no such thing could be seen anywhere. He decided it would have to do and returned to the shopping precinct where his black clothes seemed to be the only items that had any form of reality in this sea of creams and whites and silvers. He shook his head and got dressed. He was lacing up his shoes when Mrs Vanderhalen appeared, carrying a pink holdall over her shoulder, and a white leather coat over her green pyjamas. Bennette picked up the sun glasses from the table and held them out to her. Without looking at him, she put them on.
Behind the huge metal front door, Mrs Vanderhalen opened a wall panel and tapped a security code into a keypad. The door opened.
She turned to Bennette and said, “We now have one minute to leave the building.”
Bennette smiled down at her and said, “We won't be needing that long.”

“Mrs Stanford, it's Bennette. Something has come up.”
“Oh no! Are you alright?”
“Yes, I'm fine. One of my clients was assaulted by her husband. She is in a bad way, nothing that a doctor could fix, just bruised and very upset.”
“That's ... terrible, I'm so sorry to hear that.”
“I was going to take her to my house, but then I had an idea. How do you feel if she stayed at your place for a couple of days? There will obviously have to be a divorce and it won't look good if she was staying with a bachelor.”
“Oh ... Mr Bennette, I don't know ... Of course I want to help if I can ...”
“You can, Mrs Stanford. You are ... the perfect lady for the circumstances. You are kind and gentle, and so capable too. Experienced. I've seen you with your girls, you're a mother to them all.”
Silence.
“Look, I understand this is a major imposition. I have her in the car now and we are literally five minutes from your house. Let me bring her over, have a look at her. I can assure you that she won't be any trouble. She just needs a room, somewhere to get under a duvet for a day or two and not have to worry about anything.”
“Alright ...” Deep sigh. “Alright, Mr Bennette. If you think I can help ...”
“I do. And thank you, Mrs Stanford. You are a star.”
Call ends.
Hacienda
Gloria Stanford's house was a wonderful hacienda style building a design surviving from the 1970s, with rounded windows, rounded doors and in a lovely Mediterranean colour of earthy apricots and oranges, set off with many green leafy plants everywhere.
When Bennette made Lynda take off her sunglasses, Mrs Stanford gasped; when he unbuttoned her shirt a little and gave Gloria a glimpse of what was underneath, the older woman burst out into tears and said, “I want to hug you but I don't want to hurt you. You can stay here for as long as you want, and don't you worry about a thing any more. Not a thing. I am going to take care of you.”
Gloria insisted that Lynda should be installed not in a guest room but in what used to be Gloria's daughter's room. “She met an Australian,” she told Bennette sadly, “She lives there now. With the grandchildren. We Skype ...” she sighed deeply.
Bennette smiled lovingly at her as she turned on the bedside table lamp which was a pink fairy that was lit from within and held a staff with a star that sparkled in many different colours.
Lynda, who was leaning heavily on Bennette's arm, looked at that and sighed. “That's so pretty,” she said.
Bennette took her shoes off and Mrs Stanford put her in the bed, tucked her in and carefully stroked the strange woman's hair. “You sleep now,” she said. “We'll talk in the morning. Everything is going to be alright, you'll see.”
Lynda Vanderhalen was looking at the pink fairy and nodded.
Bennette left the room and waited in the corridor; Mrs Stanford said to Lynda, “I'll leave the door ajar. If you need anything or you wake up in the night, just call me.”
They walked down the round, swinging steps to the ground floor side by side and Mrs Stanford led the way into the sitting room.
It had clearly been set up for a romantic evening; the main lights were turned off, soft music was playing, and pretty Tiffany lamps cast a soft shine over a well proportioned room which had many rugs on the floor and an old but clearly comfortable brown three seater sofa with matching arm chairs. Around the walls were various antique display cabinets and occasional tables in rosewood and mahogany.
On a low table before the sofa stood a silver tray with an empty wine cooler and two glasses.
Mrs Stanford saw Bennette looking at this and blushed deeply. Bennette smiled and said, “Ah! I nearly forgot. I brought the Krimsekt. It's in the car. We might as well have a drink together and celebrate the successful rescue of Mrs Lynda Vanderhalen.” He gave a little chuckle, nudged Mrs Stanford on the arm and added, “We are superheroes tonight. Helping the helpless.”
Gloria Stanford, who was wearing her very best little black dress with a black velvet choker and diamonds at her throat, shook her head but couldn't help smiling in return.
“Yes,” she said, “I'd love a drink of that. But not too much, in case our lady upstairs needs assistance in the night.”
Bennette bowed to her and left to find the three bottles of sparkling red wine he had placed into the car's refrigerator. He returned with them shortly to find Mrs Stanford sitting on the couch, with her legs ladylike to one side, one hand nervously on top of her rather low cleavage.
Bennette placed the bottles on the table and took his jacket off. He took one bottle and sat down next to Mrs Stanford. As he set to undoing the foil around the bottle's neck and top, he said, “Obviously, we're now just in private, you and I. Work is done, there is no charge, we'll just have a drink together and enjoy each other's company for a while.”
Mrs Stanford sighed very deeply but nodded. The disappointment in her voice was palpable as she replied, “Of course, I understand ...”
“Get a glass ready and hold it over the tray,” Bennette advised, “This stuff has a right kick in it.”
Gloria Stanford leaned forward which very nearly caused her breasts to fall out of her dress altogether, something which didn't escape Bennette and caused him to grin. He gave the bottle in his hand a surreptitious shake, released the last turn on the wire and with a satisfying bang, the cork flew up, ricochet off the ceiling and landed in a big house plant with glossy green leaves, causing the plant to shake and tremble.
The rich, red foam spurted forth in a fountain and Mrs Stanford cried, “Oh, oh ...” as she tried to catch it in her glass. Bennette couldn't help himself, he directed the bottle so that some of it went into Mrs Stanford's cleavage, and she squealed, looked up at him.
He kissed her, hungrily, predatorily until she overcame her surprise and kissed him back. When Bennette broke the kiss and smiled at her, she looked shocked. She was still holding the glass which did not have very much red liquid in it after all that foaming. Bennette took it away from her, placed it to her lips and allowed her to take one small sip before taking it for himself and draining it dry.
He placed the glass carefully on the tray, licked his lips, then turned to Mrs Stanford, pulled her towards himself and put his head to her breasts, licking off the stray drops of Krimsekt and following the path down into her cleavage.
He could feel her hands on his head, hesitantly, then drawing him closer. It only took the touch of a finger to spring her breast free from the dress and the tiny bra below; it fell forward and down under its own weight; the second one soon followed.
Bennette raised his face to look up at the woman who was serious and scared in spite of her obvious excitement. He said, “I love breasts you can play with. I love them.” He used his hands to push her heavy, pendulous breasts together, more and more until her teats were squashed together, the nipples were touching each other; then he took them both in his mouth at the same time and started sucking them hard, aggressively, hungrily.
“Oh my God!” cried Mrs Stanford and pushed her chest towards him, opening her thighs and moving forward on the couch to get closer to him, bending over him, wrapping her arms about his head and kissing his hair.
Bennette let go off her tits with his mouth and with his hands and sat back on his heels. Mrs Stanford was breathing heavily and still looked shocked; now she tried to cross her hands before her breasts.
“Don't,” said Bennette and licked his lips. “I want to see them.” He put one hand each on Mrs Stanford's knees and pushed them further apart, causing the tiny black dress to ride up all the way to her hips. He moved himself so he was positioned perfectly centrally between her thighs, his hot hands playing on her knees but his focus of attention on her tits, hanging over the dress.
“I love those kind of tits,” he said. “You can fuck them so beautifully. You can play with them,” here, he reached out and put his hand around the soft teat of her right breast and pulled downwards, causing Mrs Stanford to give a gasp, “You can milk them. When you lie underneath them, fuck, there's nothing like it. And ...” here he leaned forward, scooped up Mrs Stanford's soft big tits and raised them right up as though he was presenting a gift cushion to her, “You can lick them yourself. Go on, let me see you lick your own teats ...” Mrs Stanford didn't know what else to to but to obey him, and only moments later, he had pulled her to himself again and was kissing her again, clearly excited and quite ferocious. When he drew back he was noticeably trembling. He is not pretending, thought Mrs Stanford, he is really excited ... oh my ...
Bennette said, “There are three things we can do. The first is that I get to fuck you. That's my favourite. The second is that you get me off, I don't mind if you use your mouth or your hands, or your tits, that would be amazing. The third is that you watch me wank. Either way, I need to come, and I need to come right now ...”
Mrs Stanford moved forward; she put one arm around Bennette's neck and kissed him. With the other hand, she pulled on her pants and wriggled to get them off. They were only halfway down her thighs when Bennette put his hands between her legs and started stroking her there, hard, heavy strokes. She tried to spread her legs for him but could not and wriggled desperately whilst at the same time being kissed and touched - it was all too much.
As though he had heard her clearly, Bennette stopped and moved back.
“I'm sorry,” he said, “Your tits ... I got a bit carried away there. Let's slow this down a little. At the very least, let's make ourselves comfortable.” He stood up which highlighted the fact that he was still entirely dressed and picked the open bottle off the table; now it was easy to pour the wine into the glasses. He filled them to the top and turned around, looked down at Mrs Stanford who sat embarrassed and flushed, her tits hanging out, her panties halfway down her legs and her hair coming seriously undone, on the brown sofa in her own sitting room.
Mrs Stanford didn't know where to look or what to do with herself when Bennette put the glass right before her bare breasts and said, “Drink.”
She took the glass from him, put it to her lips, closed her eyes and obeyed.
Bennette took a drink too, then he placed his glass back on the table. He went to his jacket and fished around in the pockets, extracted a mobile phone.
“I'm going to take a picture of you. No, don't move. Stay exactly as you are. That's an order.”
Mrs Stanford sat, speechless, frozen, blinking from the flash, being able to just make him out as he was checking the picture, laughing and saying, “Oh, how perfect.”
He came across, sat down beside her and showed her the photo.
Mrs Stanford shuddered and put her free hand before her eyes, shaking her head.
“Look at it,” said Bennette. “Tell me what you see.”
She turned her head away even further, still holding her hand over her eyes.
“I'll send a copy of this to Deirdre if you don't look at it,” Bennette said softly and a smile was playing around his lips. “And to Sally. And to Heather. And to Rosie McCarthy. And to Steve Willis. And to Agnes Blakelock ...”
“Alright, alright,” Mrs Stanford cried and forced herself to look at the picture. The hand still holding the glass was shaking.
“Keep looking at it and take another drink,” Bennette advised.
Mrs Stanford obeyed, repeatedly. Her eyes were on the image now, completely caught up in it. It was shocking, disgusting, disgraceful. It was all the things she had always hoped never to be.
Bennette laughed and turned off the phone, slid it into his trouser pocket. Happily, he said, “By the old Gods, I could blackmail you with that until the end of days. It is just so funny ... But here's the thing,” he said and tapped Mrs Stanford's wine glass with a beautifully manicured nail, “I won't be doing that. I don't have to. That's your fantasy, not mine. All of this is ...” he indicated the whole room with his hand, “... your whole life is your fantasy. The trouble is, it's not a very good one.”
Gloria Stanford was completely confused by him. She had no idea what he was talking about. The room was warm yet she felt cold now and wished he would let her get dressed, or take her in his arms again and warm her up.
“Gloria,” Bennette said, “Look at me.”
She complied.
“What the fuck were you thinking paying a thousand pounds for a fuck?
“Seriously. What the fuck?
“You're red hot. Exciting. You've got fantastic tits, I'm not the only man in the world who goes wild for those. What the fuck are you doing living here like a nun?”
Gloria Stanford shook her head. “You don't know how old I am,” she whispered, “I'm a grandmother ...”
“You're a fucking woman,” said Bennette and then laughed. “Or a non-fucking woman, as the case may be. Wake up Gloria. This life will soon be over and do you really want to lie on your death bed and wonder what it might have been like if you had pulled your finger out and done something about it?”
Gloria Stanford was shaking her head and on the verge of tears.
“Look,” said Bennette, took the empty glass from her and placed it on the table. He took both her unresisting hands in his. “What I just said is not fair. You did pull your finger out. You rang me. You did that, didn't you.”
She slowly nodded and swallowed.
“And that was good in a way, but also bad. It shows that you think you need to pay me. All you had to do was ... not even ask. Just texted me, my house, 8pm, bring wine. I would have been there like a shot. I was totally turned on in the salon, the manicure was spectacular. You are an amazing woman, you are sex on legs, and it breaks my heart to see someone like you not only throwing herself away but all those men you could have made happy as well ... it's not just your loss, you know.”
He brought her hands up to his lips and kissed them. Sincerely, he said, “You're comparing yourself to these young girls who work for you. You look at their smooth skin and their tiny tits every day, their lovely legs and their flat little stomachs and you lose yourself, more and more, every time you're comparing yourself to them.
“They can't compare to you.”
Gloria Stanford gave a sob and shook her head, tears now really started up in her eyes. “You're just a fantasy,” she said, “You're every woman's fantasy. I don't know how you do it, but that's what you are. You say the words we want to hear. You do the things we want ... to feel ... Real men are not like you.”
Bennette gave her back her hands and sat up straighter. “Perhaps not,” he admitted. “But I tell you what. I make you a deal. I am going to lay out an experiment for you to undertake. At the end of it, we'll have a real research result. It is my assertion - my theory - that you can have any man you want, and that it's easy.”
Gloria took a deep breath and responded, “And I know that I am too old and no-one wants me, at least not anyone who I would want.”
Bennette smiled. “Alright,” he said. “Will you do what I say to test in all reality which one of us is right, and which one is wrong?”
She thought about it and nodded. “Yes. If the test is fair. If I agree to the test.”
“And the loser has to buy a case of Krimsekt for the winner?” Bennette enquired.
This caused the woman with her tits out and her underwear still around her ankles to smile for the first time. “Yes,” she said, “And that.”
“Excellent!” said Bennette and stood up. “Now, I recommend we take our clothes off first. Then we can drink these here bottles of sekt and let nature take its course. My fantasy though, not yours.”
“I don't know,” said Mrs Stanford tiredly, “I don't know if I'm in the mood any more.”
Bennette laughed out aloud at that. “Oh my dear, dear Mrs Stanford,” he cried, “Now that's just playing hard to get. Come on. The night is young, and this sofa looks comfortable. Let me see you stripped ...”
Mrs Stanford gave a deep sigh. “If you delete that photograph, I will.”
“First you strip, then I'll delete the photograph.”
Mrs Stanford gave up, hung her head and laughed. “Alright,” she said, “Alright. And really, I have only myself to blame ...”

Fast Forward

Mrs Stanford, on her hands and knees, being taken from the back by Bennette who was enthusiastically digging into his task, rubbing her teats on the oriental rug and moaning loudly.
Mrs Stanford, sucking Bennette's dick most capably and stroking his balls, whilst he is lying in one of the brown arm chairs, one leg thrown over the arm, his head right back and it is he who is moaning loudly.
Mrs Stanford, on her side on the couch, assuming various positions from works of art depicting the female nude; Bennette taking photographs with his mobile phone.
Around 10.15pm, Bennette was sitting on the sofa, Mrs Stanford's head in his lap, stroking her hair. The lady was looking up at him. She sighed and said sincerely, “This has been the best night of my entire life. It's like I've been asleep for so long, and I've finally woken up.”
Bennette smiled down at her and said, “Thank God for that.”
“Yes,” said Mrs Stanford, “Thank God for you. Thank you God.”
Bennette said, “Do you remember our deal?”
Mrs Stanford turned in his lap, pushed herself up on her arms, then snuggled herself closer to him, her chin on his shoulder and her pendulous breasts falling onto his arm. She tried to think.
“I told you that you can have as many men as you want. Remember?”
“Oh yes,” she said vaguely and started to draw circles on his chest with an outstretched fingertip.
“Do you want me to tell you how it's done?”
“Ok.”
“You're going to start an advertising campaign for male manicures. You are going to get all the men of Greater Wyndham to come to your salon and give you not just their hands, but a good 20 minutes to play with them as you please. To test them and find out if you would like to take any of them further.”
Mrs Stanford's finger had stopped moving and she was holding her breath.
“And then you are going to open yourself up to fucking those who really turn you on.”
Gloria Stanford moved back a little way and sat forward so she could look at his face. “Open myself up ...?” she asked uncertainly and swallowed hard.
“Yes,” Bennette said calmly. “You give them a card with your mobile phone number printed on it at the end, look meaningfully into their eyes and tell them to give you a ring if they ever need another good manicure.”
Mrs Stanford drew back even further. “Oh,” she said, “Oh I don't know ...”
“And while you're doing their hands, you look at them and think to yourself, I want to fuck you. I want to feel you inside me, I want to take your prick in my mouth and suck you until you scream for mercy.”
“Oh,” Mrs Stanford was breathless, “Oh ...”
Bennette pursed his lips and grinned. “I leave it up to you if you let them fuck you for free or if you charge them for it. A thousand pounds per night.”
“Oh!” Mrs Stanford squealed at that, “Oh but I could never ...”
He turned to her, leaned over her, forcing her to lie back on the sofa. He put his hand between her legs, into her soft insides which were wet and swollen from their previous activities. Mrs Stanford gasped out aloud. Bennette looked down at her and said softly, “You could never be a total whore, Mrs Stanford?” He started stroking her clit. “Really? Just a total whore who can't get enough?” Her breath was getting ragged but she tried to resist and shook her head, “No, no I couldn't ... oh, oh!”
Bennette put his other hand into her hair and pulled her head back, holding her tight and looking down at her. “Say it,” he growled softly as he intensified his assault on her swollen cunt. “Say I'm a total whore.”
Mrs Stanford was writhing but she was biting her lips and shook her head. “Come on,” Bennette said, putting his mouth to her ear, “Come on, let me hear you say it. I'm a total whore and I love it ..” He reduced the speed and pressure of his stroking and Mrs Stanford started to whimper, pushing her cunt up towards his hand and reaching out for his neck. He slowed more, lightened his touch more and then he stopped altogether.
Mrs Stanford was breathing hard, raggedly. She took one shuddering breath, then another, and she whispered, “I'm a whore ... “
“Good girl,” Bennette growled and gave her a single stroke as a reward. “Aaah ...” Mrs Stanford cried out, “Please ...”
“Come on, let's have it ... let's have the truth out of you, Mrs Stanford,” he gave her clit the tiniest of nudges and the woman broke and cried, “Yes, yes, I'm a total whore and I love it! I do! Please, I'm your whore ...” Bennette smiled, sought and found her clit, pinched it sharply between his well manicured nails and that was it. Mrs Stanford's head went back like a whip, her hips rocked up and she came on the spot, crying, “Oh my God I'm a whore, yes, I am, yes, oh God I'm such a whore ...”
Bennette put his finger into her as he loved to feel the rapid, powerful spasming of her cunt; he rubbed her clit in time with this to extract another wave, and another, and another one until Mrs Stanford was all spent.
Bennette took his hand out of her and held it before her face. “Smell that,” he commanded her and she did. “Again,” Bennette said and brought his hand closer to her nose, “Breathe it in deeply, really deeply, that's better. And again ...”
This time, Mrs Stanford inhaled her own scent deeply through the nose and gave a long, slow sigh.
“There you go,” said Bennette. “That's your personal perfume. That's what you dip behind your ears and put on your wrists before you go out. And as you walk into the room, every clip clop of your heals says, I'm a whore, and I fucking love it ...”
She lay beneath him and stared up into his eyes and even though she didn't say anything, she knew that she would remember every single thing he had said to her, and that he had indeed, turned her into a whore tonight.
“I love you,” she whispered eventually and Bennette did not smile. He bowed briefly, looking very serious, pushed himself up and away from her and started to get dressed.
Mrs Stanford gathered her limbs around herself and put them into some kind of order, but remained on the sofa. “Where are you going? You can stay the night if you want.”
Bennette, who was in the process of pulling up his boxer shorts, looked to her and smiled. “I would love to, my dear,” he said, “... but as harrowing as it may be, I still have one more appointment tonight.”
“Really?” Mrs Vanderhalen sat up to look over the back of the sofa to a clock on the left side of the mantelpiece. She screwed up her eyes, trying to make it out and said, “It's nearly eleven o'clock.”
“Yes, really,” replied Bennette and stepped into his trousers.
“How can you keep going like that?” Mrs Vanderhalen wondered, “You're doing this ... sort of thing all day and all night long? How old are you, anyway?”
Bennette laughed and picked up his shirt, shrugged his arms into the sleeves and started to button it from the very top down. “For one thing, I'm a total whore and I love it,” he said and noted that Mrs Stanford just grinned and shook her head slightly. “For another, I don't ... exercise like this with all of my clients.” He laughed out aloud. “That would be too much ... even for a total whore.”
He pushed his shirt into his pants and sat down on the edge of the sofa on a level with Mrs Stanford's breasts. He turned and gave them a lingering glance before starting to put on his socks.
Mrs Stanford stroked his back through his silky black shirt and asked, “How old are you?”
Without turning around, Bennette said, “How old would you like me to be?”
She thought about it and said, “52. That would be a good age.”
Bennette put on his shoes. He turned around, looked over his shoulder, smiled at her and said, “Then that's exactly what I am. Just for you. Fifty-two.”
Mrs Stanford gave up, lay back, closed her eyes and laughed. “Oh, but you are too much ...”
Bennette leaned right over her and kissed her on the forehead. “I am. Way too much. This is why I have to spread myself around. As you will, too.”
He got up, went to fetch his jacket and put it on but did not button it up.
“I'll see myself out,” he said and enjoyed the view of Mrs Stanford, all naked and used up, lying on the couch. “And I'll be by the salon tomorrow before closing. You'll better have some nice advertisements for the male manicure campaign to show me or else there will be trouble.”
He smiled, blew her a kiss and soon, the midnight blue limousine slid softly from the drive.
Graveyard
Bennette parked the limousine in the empty church car park and go out. It was a still night, misty, not too cold, very soft and moist. Just the perfect night to be meeting a red haired virgin in a graveyard, Bennette thought to himself, chuckled and went to the boot of the car, to exchange his suit jacket for the long leather coat.
It was a little after 11pm as Bennette walked up the stone path to the old church which had two yellow lights sitting at either side the stone porch covering the double entrance door, illuminating the tower, reflecting stray light onto the ancient headstones in the mist.
As he approached, Heather stepped out from the shelter of the old stone archway. She had her hair tied up in a ponytail, her leather jacket was zipped up to above her chin, her pockets in her hands but was wearing yet another near non-existent miniskirt, dark tights and calf high booths with high platform heels.
Bennette walked right up to her, enjoying her height and the fact that he didn't have to look down at her so much for a change. It allowed him to stand much closer. He smiled at her.
Heather worked her chin out of the leather jacket, pouted and said, “I didn't think you were going to show.”
Bennette put his hands in the pockets of the coat and leaned up against the old stone wall. “I've had a hard night,” he said softly. “You have to be gentle with me. I'm fucked.” He drew out the last word low and slow, making every one of its letters count.
Heather looked at him and said uncertainly, “If you'd rather go ...”
Bennette laid his head back against the wall of the church behind him. If he wanted to, he could have heard choirs of little children, boys, singing a harmony .... He closed his eyes and said, “Where would I ever rather be than right here, with you ...”
He remained in this position for some time and until a soft touch on the side of his cheek exploded and he gave a sharp intake of breath, but did not open his eyes. The touch receded, but then came again; Heather was stroking the side of his face with the back of her fingers, her long smooth nails creating an extraordinary sensation of which she was quite unaware.
Bennette moved his head fractionally, leaning into her touch.
Her second hand joined the first, but these were her fingertips, tracing his eyebrow, touching his closed lids, travelling down the bridge of his nose and sliding over his lips. He opened his mouth just a little to let her know he was welcoming the touch.
Both her hands were stroking the sides of his face now and Bennette gave a sigh at the same time as her lips touched his, cautiously, experimentally. The touch went away and Bennette licked his lip with the tip of his tongue, tasting lip gloss which made him smile slightly but he did not open his eyes, did not take his hands out of his pockets and remained still, leaning against the church wall.
No hands now, but her lips again on his mouth, cautious, light touch, then the very tip of her tongue, wet, hot, touching his upper lip. He brought the tip of his own tongue in contact with hers and as a scared snake would, the other disappeared.
Bennette opened his eyes and found Heather staring at him. In the strange yellow light her eyes looked alien, very beautiful.
I am leaning against a church, thought Bennette, and before me I have a woman who isn't just a virgin, but who has never been kissed before. How extraordinary ....
She moved forward, closed her eyes slowly and kissed him again; her hands came up and lay flat braced against his shoulders. Bennette had to turn his head to break the kiss, hard up against the church wall as he was. Heather drew back in alarm.
“Am I doing it wrong?” she whispered.
Bennette straightened himself up, causing her to take two short scared steps backwards. He took his hands out of his pockets, sighed and and looked down at them. “Is this really what you want?” he asked without looking at her.
Heather shook her head, confused. “I don't know what you mean ...” she said and swallowed, nervously.
Bennette walked around her, she turned to watch him. When he was on the opposite side, he took a step forward, causing her to step back. Another step forward, and now it was Heather who was flat up against the church wall with nowhere left to go.
Bennette put one hand against the wall near her left ear and leaned on it.
“Why have you come here tonight?” he asked her.
Heather's long false lashes flicked rapidly and she said, “I don't know ...”
Bennette put his other hand on the other side of the girl's head and leaned in closer.
“Did you hope that I would kiss you?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I don't know ...” she whispered.
“Did you hope that I might touch you?” he asked, calmly.
She looked down and left to right, thinking of escape.
“Do you want me to take you?” Bennette asked. “Do you want me to be your first lover?”
Heather tried to get out from under his arm but he caught her easily and held her by the shoulders, moving her back against the wall. He gave her a small shake, just so she could feel how much stronger he was.
“Let me go,” she said without looking at him. “Let me go. I'm sorry ...”
“I'm not,” said Bennette and angled his head, chased her mouth as she moved around until he found her lips and kissed her, just putting his own lips around hers and stroking her tight shut scared mouth with his tongue.
He moved closer into her until he could feel her breasts against his chest and pushed his hips against her so she could feel his rising erection through that minuscule skirt of hers.
She didn't really fight him, just moved randomly and when he pushed his dick against her for the second time, her mouth opened a little and he put his tongue inside her. She struggled and wriggled a little more; he found this to be very exciting and matched her little struggles with his own body until her scared little tongue finally found its courage and tried to battle the intruder in her mouth.
Bennette let go of her shoulders and moved back, breathing deeply.
He flexed his fingers and said, “I want you. I want to take you. I want to have sex with you. I want to fuck you. I'm ready and willing and hot as hell for you. Now it's up to you. Your choice.”
Heather, her mouth still slightly open, her eyes wide and her arms hanging limply by her side, shook her head.
“OK,” said Bennette and straightened up. “Let me know when you change your mind.” He gave her a short bow, turned on his heels and walked down the stone path with the small weeds growing in the cracks. For a moment, his soft footsteps were all that could be heard; then there was a rapid staccato as Heather ran down the path after him, as fast as her platform heels would allow, and Bennette had just time enough to turn around and catch her in his arms before she fell to him. He steadied her, then held her out at arm's length.
“Yes,” said Heather. “Yes.”
Bennette picked her up in his arms and carried her from the churchyard, past his car, down the lane to the back entrance of his house, and she held on tight to his strong neck, put her face into his leather coat and kept thinking, yes, yes, with every step he took.


“Hello, and thank you for calling. This is Mr Bennette, the sex therapist. I'm sorry I can't come to the phone right now. Please leave your name and number and I will phone you back.”
“Hey there ... Sally here ... I was just thinking of you. Call me.”


“Hello, and thank you for calling. This is Mr Bennette, the sex therapist. I'm sorry I can't come to the phone right now. Please leave your name and number and I will phone you back.”
“Hi baby, it's me. When are you going to buy me the shoes you promised?” Giggles. “Seriously though, I'm missing you. Byee ..”


“Hello, and thank you for calling. This is Mr Bennette, the sex therapist. I'm sorry I can't come to the phone right now. Please leave your name and number and I will phone you back.”
“You've got till Sunday, twelve noon, to give me the answer I want. If I haven't heard from you by then, it's over for you here.”


“Hello, and thank you for calling. This is Mr Bennette, the sex therapist. I'm sorry I can't come to the phone right now. Please leave your name and number and I will phone you back.”
“I just called to say I love you. And I will be getting to work on the manicure project first thing tomorrow. See you around 5 ... love you. Sleep tight.”

 

Virgin
Bennette carried Heather straight up to the first floor bedroom with the many mirrors and placed her on the bed.
Heather did not want to let go off him and lay on the bed under the bright lights with her head turned to the side, her eyes closed and her hand over her eyes.
Another perfect painting, Bennette thought and stood calmly, watching her for as long as it took for her to finally peek up at him from under her upturned hand.
“Can you turn off the lights?” she asked in a whisper.
Bennette smiled and shook his head.
“No,” he said gently. “I cannot. I need to see every inch of you, every detail in perfect high definition.”
She said nothing to that in return and closed her eyes again.
This time, it didn't take quite so long for her to peek at him once more. “Aren't you going to do anything?” she asked.
“What would you like me to do?” asked Bennette, his hands in the pockets of his long leather coat.
“I don't know ...” said Heather but this time she didn't close her eyes and moved her hand away from her face at last.
Bennette smiled at her and said down on the bed. He stroked her thigh below the super short skirt and said, “I am not going to sleep with you tonight. You will walk away from this room with your virginity intact. I have always thought that girls ... everyone, really, should be much better prepared for it when it eventually comes.
“I propose we do a little preparation, a few minutes, that's all. How does that sound?”
Heather sat up with her knees to one side, thus allowing Bennette to continue stroking her thigh. She sighed deeply. “I don't know if I'm disappointed or relieved,” she said, “I'm really not sure.”
Bennette smiled and said, “Take your clothes off . I've been dying to see you naked since the first time I set my eyes on you.”
Heather looked up at the many starry lights in the ceiling. “It's too bright in here.”
“Come on,” said Bennette, got off the bed, took her by the ankle and pulled her across the silk sheet until he could catch her and stand her up next to him, “We'll start at the beginning and play I'll show you mine if you show me yours.” With this, he moved Heather to stand before the enormous mirror on the east wall of the room, with their backs to the bed. There was no mirror on the opposing wall so it was just the two of them standing side by side, Bennette in his black clothes wearing the long leather coat and Heather also wearing her leather coat, the miniskirt and the leather boots.
She really was very tall, nearly as tall as Bennette himself but only a third in width. This amused him briefly and he said, “You start. Take that band out of your hair.”
Heather complied and shook out her red hair which flashed like fire under the brilliant illumination.
Bennette nodded to her in the mirror and took of his coat, folded it over his arm and placed it on the floor to the left of him. Heather unzipped hers, took it off and placed hers to the right, revealing yet another trademark super tight black turtle neck top.
Bennette unbuttoned his shirt, took it off slowly. The girl's eyes in the mirror were tracing him with interest as he folded his shirt and put it on the ground, next to his coat. He stepped back to the mirror, put his hands in the air, stretching up high, defining his confirmation and his muscles, producing a slow turn for her. He dropped his arms, smiled at her through the mirror and gave a little nod.
Heather took a deep breath and pulled her top up and over her head, revealing a black bra without decorations which shaped her breasts strongly. pushing them up and together and had wide bands over her shoulders. She threw her top at her jacket, then raised her arms as he had done and gave a turn. Bennette pursed his lips and grinned.
“I'm topless,” he said, “You can see my nipples. Fair's fair.”
Heather dropped her head, reached behind her back and unclasped the bra. Her breasts fell forward as she peeled the black cups away and threw the bra to her pile of clothes. She kept her head down for a moment, her arms crossed, then she stood up straight, eyes closed, raised her hands up, stuck her lovely tits out and gave the turn.
Bennette watched her and ran his hand over his hair. Heather had completed the turn and glanced briefly at herself in the mirror, then her eyes went to Bennette's hands who were undoing the top buttons of his trousers. He unzipped them slowly, smiling to himself and worked them off his hips, pushed off his shoes and socks one at a time, crouched to arrange the items on his clothes pile and with a deep breath, stood up straight again. He did his turn and it was perfectly clear that he was excited.
“Your turn.”
Heather unzipped her belt like skirt which she had to push down her thighs and over her boots, causing her breasts to fall forward and hang free. Bennette gave a short, hissing intake of breath at the sight and moved from one foot to the other, which caused Heather to lose balance on her high platform shoes; she had to reach across and steady herself by placing a hand against his hip. She stepped out of the skirt and kicked it over with her foot.
She was wearing sheer black tights which showed her small black panties beneath them. Glancing briefly at Bennette, she bent down to unzip her boots, one, then the other, stepping down and now being very much shorter than she had been before. She worked the tights down her body, wriggling her hips, setting her breasts to jingle and Bennette moved again, just flexing up on the balls of his feet and back down again. She was about to do her turn when Bennette said, “Put your boots back on. I like you higher up.”
She blushed but complied; this time steadying herself against the mirror to work her bare feet back into the hot boots and zipping them up.
She turned for Bennette and he said softly, “Wow ...”
On the completed turn, Bennette waited a moment and then another one, before he finally slipped his hands into the waistband of his black silk boxers shorts and drew them downwards; Heather's eyes were entirely glued to Bennette's dick which was undeniably ready for action. He let the pants slide off him and stepped out of them. This turn, when it came, was much slower than before; he really gave the girl a good chance to see him and to get used to seeing him. She was staring at his fair pubic hair and his balls, darker in colour than the rest of his fair skin and when the mirror lost the view she turned to see the real thing as it passed by on Bennette's turn, picking it up again in the mirror.
“Your turn,” he said softly and put a hand on his dick, licking his lips. It took a second, “Your turn, Heather,” to break her fascination. She shook herself briefly as if she was waking up from a trance and without hesitation, stripped off her panties, working them over her boots and nearly coming a cropper as they snagged in the zip. Bennette stepped towards her and steadied her with his hands around her waist. She froze for a moment, then finished working her panties loose, kicked them away and straightened, taking a step away from Bennette who let her go immediately.
A little further apart than they had been before, the man and the woman stood before the mirror. Heather was really a redhead; a fiery redhead at that. Her pubic hair clashed with the long hair that fell over her shoulders and down to the nipples of her breasts; it was a different shade of red.
Bennette straightened out more and said, “There we are. All naked and bare. In the bright lights. How do you feel?”
Heather's eyes were flashing from her own triangle of red hair with the slit clearly visible below to Bennette's dick which he was still holding in his hand, flexing his fingers around the shaft, to his face, to her own tits ...
“How do you feel?”
The girl in the mirror shook her head. “I ... do not know ...” she said.
“Come here,” Bennette said gently and she turned and obeyed, glad that he was giving her a direction.
“Have you ever touched a man before?” he asked.
Heather shook her head and coloured. “You must think I'm so pathetic,” she said sadly but kept looking down at Bennette's dick, at his hand.
“No,” he said and his voice was low. “I think you are very loyal. You love only one man and had eyes for him alone. It's the most wonderful gift.”
Heather sighed. “It's a shame I gave it to the wrong man,” she said.
“Touch me,” said Bennette and took his hand away.
She did, with one cautious outstretched bright pink fingernail. Bennette shuddered and she looked up at him. “What does that feel like?” she asked him.
“Sometimes, when ... I feel it is all of me you are touching.”
Heather looked up at him in amazement. She brought her hand up and touched the side of his face again, raised herself even higher and invited him to kiss her. He put one arm about her, drew her in and up and put his mouth gently to her lips, just for a moment.
He put his head back and took a deep breath in through flared nostrils. He stroked her buttocks lightly and said, “Look, I can't play this game any longer. I'm getting too excited. I'm generally quite good at controlling myself but ... you are just too ... precious,” he finally found the right word.
“I don't want to fall on you and fuck the living daylights out of you. Before we go any further, I need a ... release.”
Heather rubbed herself against him. “It's OK,” she whispered, “I want you to. I really do. I ... like you,” she said and coloured deeply.
Bennette smiled and said, “You want me. That's a different thing. And I don't think you really know what you're asking for. Trust me on this one?”
Heather nodded, defeated.
“You can help me come, if you want to,” said Bennette, “Or you can just watch.”
“I want to help you,” she said immediately.
“OK.” He sat down on the bed, leaning back on his arms, his feet on the floor. “Sit beside me.”
She did and turned sideways, so that one of her boots was trapped beneath her, the other with the tiptoe on the ground.
“Put your hand around my dick,” Bennette instructed.
She complied. Her touch was feather light, her hand cool; Bennette sat up, drew her close by the neck and kissed her. He was struggling to control himself and broke the kiss only moments later. He was breathing deeply, shuddering breaths. He put his hand around hers, easily covering it and tightening his grip, more and more until the pressure was just right. Heather gasped as he made her hand pull the skin up and down his shaft, holding his dick firmly. He set the rhythm until he felt she had understood it, then sped it up. Bennette had to drop his head and grabbed on to a fistful of fabric with his free hand, started to tremble from head to foot and let it go, fucking his dick fast with her hand in his, very fast, and he cried out and came. Shiny silver seed spurted up high and Heather tried to pull away but his grip was ferocious; there were two more waves of ejaculation, and one last one and he gave a shuddering sigh but did not release his hold as his dick slowly went soft in their hands.
“Whoa ... “ said Heather, “Whoa. Wow ...”
Bennette gave a deep sigh and seemed to let go of himself all at once; Heather's hand was released and he dropped his head down, bracing himself against the bed with his arms.
She did not retrieve her hand right away. She flexed her fingers and was amazed at the softness of his dick which had felt so different only moments before; she stroked it carefully and lightly, then moved forward and stroked Bennette's head and shoulders, bringing her sweet tits close to his face.
He took another deep breath and said, “There are some tissues in the drawer there, could you pass me a few please?”
Heather smiled, kissed the top of his head and got the tissues as instructed. She held them out to him but he made no move to take them, so she crouched before him and cleaned the semen from his thighs, from his stomach, from his pubic hair. Although it didn't really need it, she carefully cleaned his limp dick too, then she kissed it.
Looking up at him, she said, “That was ... so amazing. Thank you for ... letting me watch.”
Bennette smiled down at her. “Thank you for turning me on. Thank you for making me come.”
She got up and put the tissues on the bedside table, then sat on the bed beside him. She folded her hands and contemplated the fact that she was completely naked, apart from a pair of boots which highlighted that fact, in a room with all the lights on, with mirrors all around, with a man who was much older than her own father, and actually felt - happy.
She felt proud that he had come under her hand, proud that she had pleased him, happy that he had got so excited about her. All of this was new, unknowable. She sighed and looked at Bennette and said, “Thank you,” again. He nodded. So they sat for a while until Heather said, “Is that it? Do you want me to go home?”
Bennette smiled at her. “Now,” he said, “That wouldn't really be very gentlemanly of me, would it.”
Heather shook her head. “I don't understand,” she said uncertainly.
Bennette let himself fall back onto the bed, turned on his side, drew up his legs and propped up his head on his hand. “I told you we play I'll show you mine, you show me yours. I've shown you my orgasm. Now, it's your turn.”
Heather turned bright red in an instance. “No,” she said, shaking her head, “No, really, that's alright. I'll ... just go home now ...”
“As if,” said Bennette and smiled but made no move to catch her, touch her. Instead, he said, “That hot, twitching feeling you are getting now between your legs, that's your equivalent of getting a hard on.”
Heather looked down at herself and blushed again.
“And that tight, hot feeling you're getting in your teats. And the heat in your hands. That hungry feeling in your mouth. That's all you being very turned on.”
She shook her head. “You're making that happen,” she said, “You're suggesting me.”
“Hm ...” said Bennette, “I could be. But I'm not. I can see it for myself. Look at your teats, your nipples. Look at your slit. And you keep licking your lips. You're hot as hell.”
“No I'm not!”
“Alright,” said Bennette and shuffled backwards on the bed until he could sit up against the headboard, leaving plenty of room for Heather, “Alright enough. I already had one woman tonight who was thinking that admitting to sexual excitement turns you into a raving whore. You're thirty years younger than her, that's a generation and a half. Please tell me that we've come a way or I'll start to cry, I swear I will.”
Heather turned around to look at him, then got on the bed too, leaning against the headboard also. “Thirty years?” she asked, then gasped and said, “Oh my God you're not talking about ... Mrs Stanford?!”
Bennette laughed out aloud. “I have many clients who are more mature ladies,” he said, “And it's all extremely privileged.” He turned and looked into her eyes. “And I don't tell what I do with any of you, not ever.”
Heather nodded.
“Now, back to you being hot as hell,” said Bennette and grinned. “Remember I'm a sex therapist. Chances are I've seen and heard it before. Tell me how you masturbate.”
“No way,” said Heather and closed her legs, crossing them for good measure. “That's private.”
“You don't masturbate?” asked Bennette.
Heather said nothing.
“Ok, it's a shit word. Do you wank? Play with yourself? What do you do with all that rampant young sexual energy circulating around your lower regions?”
“I don't have any of that,” Heather said. “I don't think about it.”
Bennette sighed and turned towards her, put his hand on her stomach and then walked the fingers like a spider towards her breast. She watched him do this and offered no resistance.
The spider walked on her nipple, walked across to the other one, then back down her stomach and towards the triangle of red hair. Here it stopped, extended one digit and slipped inside her slit.
Heather gasped and put her hand to push it away but the spider had a good grip, strong legs and would not be so easily moved.
Slowly, Bennette slid his finger into her slit, sought and found her clit and touched it with a small tap. “You have a very nice clitoris,” he said, drawing out the word and pronouncing it very cleanly. Heather put her head back and closed her eyes.
She could feel the bed moving, feel him moving, he was getting between her legs and she turned her head to the side but did not open her eyes.
A moment later, and she felt both his hands on her, opening her wide. She heard him say, “Oh my. A perfect virgin. Now that's not something you see every day.”
She tried to wriggle up and away from him but he followed her movements and blew into her, which caused Heather to gasp.
Bennette said in his soft, resonant voice, “Relax. I am not going to hurt you. I'm just looking at you, admiring you.” A most peculiar sensation, wet and hot followed. Heather gave a small squeal and Bennette said calmly, “And tasting you.” He licked her again and this time, Heather made a better attempt at struggling away. It was still only an attempt though; he licked her again.
She put her hands on his head and said pleadingly, “Please don't do that ... it's ... gross ...”
“Shh,” said Bennette, to her cunt rather than to her face, “Relax. It's alright.” He stroked her clit with his tongue in slow, steady strokes, just upward, as though he was licking an ice cream, his hands holding her open and eventually, Heather relaxed a little.
“Very good,” said Bennette and licked his lips, “You're doing very well. And you're getting lovely and wet. Can you feel that?”
The girl did not respond and Bennette resumed stroking her clit for a while longer, then he carefully put the tip of his tongue against the tiny opening in her virginal cunt, the thin cherry skin still tautly stretched across it. He pushed the tip of his tongue into her and Heather shuddered beneath him. She was incredibly tight; a true virgin in every way. She could not have possibly ever put anything into her cunt, not even her own fingers.
Bennette sat back on his heels and looked at the beautiful long legged girl with the perfect breasts and the serious eyes. He stroked the hair of her virginal cunt softly, lovingly, then he got out from between her legs, moved up beside her and took the girl in his arms. He held her close and said into her hair, “You are a very special thing, a very wonderful creature. A rare, rare being indeed. In the greater scheme of things, I'm glad you held on to Steve Willis. He was as much a protection as anything else.”
Heather felt the sincerity in his voice and let herself go, rested her head against his bare shoulder and putting her arms around him in return. He drew her closer, kissed her hair and said, “I would wish you a lover who knows what he is doing, who appreciates you, who takes his time to teach you, nourish you, bring out the best in you. I so do.”
Heather thought of all the boys in the village, all the men she'd seen. She shook her head against his chest.
Bennette sighed deeply. “Perhaps I can find you someone,” he said. “Perhaps I might be able to find someone who ... “
Heather said, “I want it to be you. I've ... I ... I want it to be you.”
Bennette sighed again. “I don't deserve you,” he said.
Heather turned in his arms to sit up and look at him. “How ... how can you say that? What does that even mean?”
Bennette was very serious. “It means that you are special. You are ... out of my league, as it were.”
“You ... you don't want me?” Heather felt unsure, as though she wanted to cry. She had only ever offered herself to two men, and both of them had turned her down. And one of the two didn't even have the excuse that he didn't like women. He fucks everyone, she thought, he fucks old women for money but he won't fuck me.
“What's wrong with me?” she asked him.
He stroked her hair and said very seriously, “Do you know the story of the ugly duckling?”
Heather shook her head. “Don't ...”
“No, this is serious business,” Bennette said, pulled her close again and rested his chin on her head. “The ugly duckling isn't a duckling. It's a cygnet, a little swan. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just not the same as the ducklings in the village.”
Heather felt very tired all of a sudden. “And you don't ... want to sleep with cygnets?” she asked.
“There are rules,” Bennette said. “One should think seriously about transgressing against them.”
Heather felt even more tired. Bennette was warm, hot. He was holding her closely and the bed was comfortable. She yawned, then yawned again.
“That's right,” Bennette said softly, “Close your eyes. Go to sleep. I'll tell you the story of the ugly duckling ...”

Witches

Heather felt entirely unlike herself. From the moment she had woken up and found herself naked in Bennette's arms, who had his head in her hair and was snoring lightly, she had not really known who she was any longer.
This was at least partially to do with the fact that she wasn't thinking about Steve Willis. He seemed a long way away, a pale boy, a playmate from school, a bestest friend of a teenager who wasn't any longer.
Bennette, on the other hand, was right in her face. Literally and figuratively speaking.
She had cautiously turned in his embrace as not to wake him and then lay and watched him, observed him and wondered about her feelings for him.
There was a great pressure in her lower regions; not pleasure, not pain, just a pressure that started around the area where he had touched her with his tongue in the night, and that pressure spread out and upwards, into her stomach, pushing heat into the tips of her breasts and there, it seemed to loop back around and start all over again.
Bennette had told her it meant that she was hot for him, that she was turned on; and it didn't mean that she liked him. Heather mused on that as she watched Bennette sleep. Did she like him? She remembered a conversation she had had with Steve a long time ago. She had pretended to like two boys and said that she couldn't decide between them. Steve had suggested she imagine that she was in a little boat, a boat that could only carry one more person, and the two boys were in the water, drowning.
“You can only save one,” Steve had said, “One will be saved and the other will drown. Which will be which?”
Heather had thought she would leave them both to drown and row away to find the island where Steve was waiting for her, but she had made up an answer for him.
Here, she went to sit in the rowing boat, watching Bennette drown.
She didn't offer her hand or the oar to save him, and he drowned, his pale face and body slowly disappearing beneath the green water and the pain was such that it drove tears into her eyes in an instance. She dove from the boat, swam after him and wrapped her arms around his cold, dead body, letting it draw her into the depth, to drown as well ...
Heather opened her eyes and found that her heart was beating fast, she was breathing as though she was crying. Bennette had been right. She didn't like him. She wasn't even hot for him. This was something else altogether - could she be in love with him?
And if so, what kind of love was that?
She shook her head to try and clear the images of the cold, green water from her mind and focused on the real man in the bed beside her instead again. She wondered how she would be feeling now if he had taken her as she had hoped he would. Just to get it over with, to finally stop being a virgin, to feel like a real woman rather than a scared girl trapped in this body of hers.
Heather thought that she would probably be very sore now. Bennette was big. He had a big dick, she thought and smiled at the remembrance of feeling him in her hand. It would have hurt bad for sure. There would have been blood. Would she have freaked out? Started to scream and fought to get him off her? She sighed deeply. He would have handled her, of that she had no doubt. He knew what he was doing and that is why she had asked him to meet her. She didn't know what he was like with all his other women but he had been very ... protective of her. He hadn't pushed her at Parker's Park and she had been glad he was there.
Heather wondered what time it was. The lights were still on in the room, the mirrors still reflecting. There was no window, no alarm clock. Heather waited a while longer then carefully slid out from Bennette's arms altogether, then slid out of the bed with the black silk sheets. It was unavoidable to see herself getting up; but she found it easy to look at her own naked body this morning and even smiled and touched her own breasts, turned to look at the sweep of her butt, very round it was and that pleased her this morning, rather than worrying that it was too big for a change.
For a moment, she saw the reflection of Bennette, remembered, naked, smiling, with that big erection, raising his hands up and exposing his armpits, turning around so she could admire him. He smiled at her in the mirror and then he was gone; it was just her again, sitting on the edge of the bed. He must have taken her boots off and arranged her clothes; they were in a very tidy stack on the second bedside table, her boots standing squarely to attention before the bed.
Heather smiled and got up. His clothes were still where he had left them; also in a tidy stack, on the left hand side of the mirror in the corner. She went to the stack and pulled his shirt out. In the movies, it's traditional for the girl to wear the man's shirt in the morning. She picked it up and breathed through it, closing her eyes. There was no aftershave, just .... just Bennette, really, she thought and slipped into the fine black silk shirt. She turned to the mirror in front of her, which showed the bed and the man behind her, and took her time buttoning the shirt with the mandarin collar all the way from the bottom to the top. She pushed her hair with her fingers, combing it over her shoulders, then she undid the first four buttons again, then the fifth and now her breasts were showing clearly beneath. She liked that; she smiled at herself and crept quietly across the carpet and out into the corridor to find another bathroom as she didn't want to wake Bennette.
The house was very quiet; there was a window at the far end of the hallway on this first floor which let her know that it was day. Heather wasn't bothered what time it was. She didn't care if she was late at work today; that too was a part of that feeling not like herself. Herself would have been very worried about being late. About displeasing anybody, really.
She softly opened the door to the next room along. This was very similar if not exactly the same to the room with all the mirrors into which Bennette had carried her. It had the same door to the right of the headboard; another on suite bathroom. She could use that one in a while.
She looked into the third room. This one had windows to the street and there were two further doors. The first of these, on the left in the corner, was yet another on suite bathroom, with golden marble tiles on the floor and up the walls that sparkled when the light came on as she opened the door, a wet room and a grand pool rather than a bathtub, also tiled, under the windows.
She opened the second door on the top left inside this bedroom, and here she found a large walk in closet, also automatically being lit as she stepped inside, which was curiously filled with women's clothes. Women's clothes, shoes, underwear, coats, hats. All different sizes, too. Different styles, different fashions. Strange, she thought, but then contemplated she might like to play at dress up some time, trying out some of these things, especially the old fashioned ones.
Heather went into the bathroom of this bedroom which had one of those huge four posters, the same as all the beds here, this one being dressed in orange silk rather than black, which played off against the sparkling golden bathroom tiles. Bennette liked his mirrors. The whole top side of the bathroom was mirrored and it was so incredibly clean, it was either never used or being scrubbed by fairies with toothbrushes around the clock.
She used the toilet, try to find a bathroom cabinet and eventually discovered that there were invisible doors under the double sinks which slid away when one touched them.
She found a number of still originally encased tooth brushes, tooth pastes, soaps, various moisturisers, none of which had ever been opened. She took a jar of a very expensive product and used it to get last night's make up off her face, took a shower, broke open one of the toothbrushes and toothpastes, brushed her teeth, and with her head wrapped in a soft brown towel, dressed in Bennette' shirt once more, made her way down the stairs to find the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and to check out if Bennette had anything to eat. She sniggered to herself on the way down the stairs. Perhaps she would find blood in his fridge. Or the hearts of the women he lured into this house of his ...
She found a coffee machine and in the cupboard above it, coffee and filters. She found a mug with dolphins on it she liked, and a spoon in one of the drawers. In the fridge were interesting things. Strawberries. Salmon. Free range eggs. A selection of cheeses. Sliced ham. Very neat and tidy, and in the door, four bottles of sparkling wine on standby. This made her smile.
She took one of the strawberries and while the coffee was bubbling, went to take a look at the first room, which Bennette had not allowed people in on the night of the party here.
It was unlocked and Heather was a little disappointed with this empty room. She had expected rows of sex toys, handcuffs, leather and lace ...
She went into Bennette's office. She looked at the certificate on the wall, opened the desk drawers. They were completely empty. Not even a pen, not a paper clip. But there was, gleaming and tempting, a silver laptop sitting on the desk.
Heather opened the top and the laptop came to life; a blue screen asking for a password. Heather looked at it and heard as clear as day Steve's voice, “What kind of car is this? I've never seen anything like it,” and Bennette's answer, “It's a Maybach ...”
Heather typed MAYBACK and got the incorrect password response.
She was about to give it up when she tried one more time.
MAYBACH.
The computer's screen changed to show the desktop.
“Wow,” said Heather softly.
There were very few applications installed she recognised but there was one with an icon that looked like an owl; she clicked on it.
It took a moment for the software to start up but when it did, it showed many images; she realised these were cameras installed in the house, in every room, some rooms with four cameras in different positions, and there was the garden too, and the street before the shop.
She scrolled down and found the cameras in the room in which Bennette was still sleeping.
Underneath each little screen, there were a number of icons; she clicked on one of them and a box appeared with choices of time and file name.
She chose the view which showed the bed from the perspective of the mirror on the wall before which they had been standing and typed in 23.30 and the previous day.
The little picture changed and there was Bennette, standing dressed in his leather coat, and she was on the bed, looking up at him.
Heather turned the sound up and took the camera view recording to full screen. It was the most extraordinary sensation watching that girl with Bennette, looking at her face and being fascinated by her.
Heather was watching the younger Heather putting her hand around Bennette's dick, watching his responses to her, totally mesmerised when Bennette came to lean in the doorway, wearing just his pants from the night before and nothing else, watching Heather watch Heather, one hand slipped into the black silk shirt she was wearing, and the other not visible beneath the desk.
Bennette could hear what she was seeing; he could hear himself cry out with his orgasm, and it was then that Heather raised her eyes from the screen and saw him leaning against the door frame, with his hands in his pockets.
Her eyes widened and her shoulders dropped.
Bennette came across the room, walked around behind the desk and stood behind her. She could feel him there, vibrating into her back. She dropped her hands in her lap and just sat still. On the screen, Bennette said, “Can you get me some tissues? They're in a drawer over there.”
Bennette waited until the red haired naked girl had lovingly cleaned the man and when she bent to give his dick a kiss, Bennette's arm came over Heather's shoulder. He tapped on the keyboard and the scene froze, right there.
Next to her right ear, Bennette said softly, “How the fuck did you get into my laptop?”
Heather said, “Maybach. I heard it in my head.”
“Fuck,” Bennette breathed out the word and it made her shudder.
She could feel his hands on her shoulders and he said, “They used to burn redheads in the middle ages. Because they were witches. And they were right. They are. Every single one of them.”
Heather dropped her head. “I'm ... sorry ...” she sighed.
“I'm not,” he said and turned the office chair around with Heather on it who was still hanging her very red head.
“You've been a very naughty girl,” Bennette said softly. “I get to punish you now.”
He walked away, went to the high backed, armless red leather padded chair and sat down on it. He patted his thigh and said, “Come here.”
Heather's legs had already moved before she had even started to think about whether she should obey him or not; she found herself standing before him, her hands behind her back, only a couple of seconds later.
“Come on,” he said, “Over my knee. Naughty little virgin!”
Heather was unsure whether he was joking or not but she complied; she bend over his knees and squealed as he grabbed her and pulled her over one knee, dropping the other and pushing her down by the neck so her hands had to brace against the floor and her rounded white arse cheeks were high up in the air.
He pushed her neck even further down, so her toes lost their leverage and she really was now hanging over one knee, her legs kicking.
“Alright,” he said. “This is for sneaking out on me without saying good morning.” He slapped her bottom with his flat hand, not particularly hard but with a swish; it produced a loud slap and a resounding squeal.
“And this is for not making me a cup of coffee,” he said and slapped her again, in exactly the same place as before. This time, Heather started to struggle and protest.
He pushed down on her neck even further and said, “And that's for stealing my password,” and slapped her again, much more softly this time but because her arse was smarting already, Heather gave a real wail.
“Please,” she cried and wriggled, kicked her legs and tried to get away from the hard grip at the back of her neck, “Please stoppit I'm sorry I just didn't want to wake you up!”
Bennette said nothing and instead slid his hand between her buttocks, flicking against her back entrance, further down past the entrance to her cunt, further down until he was touching her clit.
“Naughty girl,” he said softly and stroked her clit. Heather had stopped struggling, her attention taken up with what he was doing to her entirely. He let go off her neck and moved his hand over her spine until he reached the small of her back where he stopped and put more pressure on her, heavy pressure that forced her arse even higher still. He stroked her clit just a little longer, then gave her one final resounding slap, raised his hands, dropped his leg so she slid off and onto the floor.
She sat on the carpet with her legs to one side, rubbing her arse and pouting. “That hurt,” she said.
Bennette looked at her sternly. “I've been very generous, under the circumstances.” He laughed at her and said, “You are so precious. You should have seen the look on your face when you saw me standing there. In flagrante delicto, as we say in the trade.”
“I have no idea what that means,” Heather said and pouted more. Her arse was smarting but more than that, the pressure in the place that he kept going for every time was hot, throbbing now. It was throbbing more than her butt cheek, which had turned bright red as she discovered when she turned and lifted Bennette's long black silk shirt to take a look at the damage.
“It means being caught in the act. Being caught red handed. Or red headed, as the case may be.” Bennette laughed. “Wonderful. Priceless. And I have to say, I'm amazed. And impressed. Might be you are the one.”
“The one?” Heather kept rubbing her arse but was more distracted by the throbbing in her nether regions. There was twitching there too now, a sensation she had never felt before.
Bennette got up in an explosive movement, causing her to flinch back. He bent down to her and offered her his hand. She took it and he pulled her up in one swift, powerful movement, caught her in his arms and kissed her deeply, without reservation, as though he owned her and had always owned her.
She put her arms around his neck and let him do it to her.
Bennette kept kissing her and let his hands slowly slide down her hips, around the back, under the shirt, taking her arse cheeks in either hand and pulling them apart, pushing them together, using them to pull her up and into his own groin. Heather moaned under his kiss; she was standing on tiptoes and raised one leg, sliding it up his thigh, pushing herself into him. Yes, she thought, alright. Now I'm hot for you. Now I know what that feels like. And now I really want you inside of me ...
Bennette moved his head back but his hands were still kneading her arse cheeks, creating extraordinary sensations. “You still owe me a wank,” he said to her, very sincerely, very seriously. “I can't let you go before we finish the game we started.”
Heather pushed her breasts against him, arched her back and wrapped her leg tighter about his thigh, pushing herself close him, trying to rub herself against him.
He kissed her again and lifted her up by her arse cheeks, stifling her cry with his kiss; Heather tried to hold on with her hands around his neck and by wrapping both legs about him now to take the red hot pressure off her arse that was burning forward and down, up, out of control.
Bennette carried her out and into the conservatory where he put one knee on the big white sofa. It was blindly bright here; the early morning sun was burning through the glass roof and through the full sized windows; Heather shut her eyes as she could feel Bennette positioning her so her legs were either side of his knee. opening her cunt lips wide, then he raised his foot up onto the couch, lifting her up with the full weight on her insides, her clit being crushed against his hard thigh.
Bennette got hold of the shirt and pushed it up and she had to raise her arms, as soon as she was clear of the black fabric, she fell forward again, holding on with her arms around his neck, trying to ease the pressure, crushing her tits against his bare chest in so doing.
Bennette went very still. He let go of her and simply stood, with his arms by his side, breathing deeply; the girl split open across his thigh. She clung on to him and pushed her cunt forward and forward on his thigh, then she found his mouth and sucked his tongue into her mouth, sucking on it desperately, riding his thigh until she put her head back and came with a small cry, a shiver, another cry ... Bennette put his arms around her and held her as the girl went limp. He carefully moved his bare foot forward on the couch until her feet found the ground, then he turned her so she could raise her leg and dismount from his thigh. There was a wet, glistening stain on Bennette's black trousers and he smiled.
“There you go,” he said to the girl in his arms, “Now we're even.”

 

 

 


Conversations

Mrs Stanford had rung in to say she wasn't coming in until later due to a family emergency. Deirdre was her No. 1 and she always enjoyed being the manageress, even though it doubled her work load.
Heather McGregor bounced and skipped into the salon; she didn't look anyone in the eye and tried to battle it but kept bursting out into little smiles, dancing along to the radio as she got her station ready for her first client.
Sally and Deirdre stood behind the counter and watched her.
“He's done it, hasn't he,” said Sally. “He's got her.”
“Either that or Steve Willis has grown a pair overnight,” Deirdre said and both women giggled for a considerable time before looking at each other and saying, “Naah ...” at the same time which caused them fall about laughing.
Heather looked over to them and blushed deeply. Sally held up her hand. “We're not laughing at you,” she called across, “Seriously. You look happy this morning. And ... I really like your top.”
It wasn't a black turtle neck sweater. Young Heather was wearing a very short white skirt and a tiger print blouse with a wide black belt; the boots she had on were a little incongruent but made her look exotic, unusual.
Deirdre and Sally nudged each other and Deirdre went around the counter to confront the redhead, who seemed to be counting curlers.
“So,” she said, very matter of fact. “Come on. Let's have it.”
Heather blushed but straightened up from her curlers, took a deep breath and faced Deirdre. “Alright,” she said, “Alright, yes. I've ... been with Bennette all night. I've come from his place. These are ...”
“Not your clothes,” Deirdre finished and nodded. She smiled brightly, touched Heather on the arm. “And ...?”
Heather looked past her, out through the windows, across the street, across the market square, to the red shop.
Eventually she said, “I ... I don't know what to say. I've never ...” Her voice gave out and she looked at Deirdre with her big eyes that did not sport false eyelashes this morning. Deirdre was struck by the girl's youth and innocence. She stroked Heather's arm again and said softly, “It's alright. He ... is a lot to take in ...” She heard herself say it and had to shake her head repeatedly. “Look, if you want to talk, I'm here. We're both here.” Heather bowed her head slightly. Deirdre added, “I think we need a support group. Bennette Anonymous.”
“Not so anonymous,” Heather sighed, then she looked down at the older woman and smiled. “Thank you, Dids,” she said sincerely. “I think ... I think I might need that.”
“Seriously now, any time. Do you want to go for a quick drink after work? Or do you have other plans?”
Heather shook her head. “No plans. I'd love that. Sally too?”
“I'll ask her, I'm sure she'll want to come,” replied Deirdre.

At the hacienda, Mrs Lynda Vanderhalen was telling Mrs Gloria Stanford the story of her life. More specifically, the story of her life with her current husband, Rutger Vanderhalen. How she had met him when she had been just 19, working part time at a golf club as a waitress; how she had been swept away by his good looks and yes, by his money, by the power he had. He had been so lovely and tender, and it had all changed when they got married.
“He was always angry at me, all the time,” Lynda said very quietly, curled up on the sofa, wearing one of Mrs Stanford's comforting terry towel robes in pink, holding a tea mug in her hand. “There was nothing I could do right. Everything ... nothing ...”
Mrs Stanford's heart went out yet again to the beautiful young woman on her sofa. She had heard this story many times before, and it upset her every time afresh. Her own husband had been such a kind man, such a loving man. He couldn't do enough for her and a single sniff on occasions would make him run to do whatever he could to make her smile again. Gloria Stanford shook her head. How was it that she had been so lucky? She looked at Lynda, her brown hair highlighted in the sun streaming in through the windows, she was such a sweet thing, so ... precious. Why would anyone want to hurt her?
Lynda looked to the older woman and said, “I ... you need to know, I don't blame Mr Bennette for this. He didn't do anything wrong. Everything he said was true. I just should have been ...”
“No,” said Gloria and shook her head. “You shouldn't have been anything. There's no excuse for what your husband did to you. None. Mental illness perhaps, but that's all. And he should be locked up for it.”
“I don't know what to do,” said Lynda sadly. “I don't want to go to the police. Anyway, the bruises are fading now. They'll be gone soon.”
“You can't go back to him,” Gloria said.
“I don't know where else to go,” replied Lynda and sighed.
“You can stay with me for as long as you want,” Gloria said.
Lynda looked at her and didn't say anything, but her thought was clear - why? I don't even know you.
Gloria took a deep breath and said, “I've been living here alone since my husband died. I am very lonely. I would very much appreciate your company, at least for a while, until you know what the next step should be.”
“I can clean,” said Lynda Vanderhalen.

“Saturday morning, early. 6am. That's the best time to take him,” said Paris.
There were three other men on separate monitors in Paris's study, all very serious.
“He hasn't been taken since ...”
“Yes, yes, I know,” said Paris impatiently. “That was 40 years ago. I was around back then. I know better than any of you how that affected ... operations. But gentlemen, time has moved on. We have learned much. I know we can contain him this time.”
Every one of his colleagues moved uncomfortably at the thought. One, a stout man in a very expensive suit with a balding head said, “It was decided to ... not interfere with ...”
“That was also 40 years ago. To have ... such ones as Bennette simply ... outside law and order, outside our own systems, it is unacceptable, and the only reason that was ever decided was because there was nothing they could do about him - then.
“As I say, time has moved on. I propose we take Bennette, and we take him apart, and we finally get our answers. There may be others like him, they may be anywhere. Are you not concerned with this? I can't get to sleep over this.”
Another of the men, a thin man with a triangular face and a blue beard shadow, said, “It's not that we are not concerned. Of course we are. Bennette has been a thorn in our side ... since before our organisation was founded. He and his kind. I am just not sure we're ready.”
Paris said succinctly, “I have reviewed all the research over the past week. We are ready.”
“You're right,” said the third man, a very harmless looking middle aged man with fading ginger hair and washed out eyes, “It's time we made a move. I too have been reviewing the research. We're ready to go. I vote with you, Paris. Let's take the son of a bitch, take him down hard, and show him what we can do.”
“Alright,” said the bald man, “What's the worst that can happen. I too vote yes. It's worth a shot.”
“The worst that can happen,” said Paris, “... is that we are all going to be dead this time next week. Que sera, sera.”
The thin ginger man nodded and said, “Agreed. Saturday morning, 6am.”

 


Perversions
The 2pm appointment for the day stood outside Bennette's door. He was a distinguished looking gentleman with wavy medium length brown hair and just a touch of silver over his ears, wearing a dark grey business suit and a pale pink silk tie, white shirt. He had the kind of complexion that would tan easily and was of a good height, although he had to look up at Bennette who smiled at him and held out his hand.
“Mr Gibson, I presume.”
“Mr Bennette,” the man replied and held out his hand. The two men shook hands meaningfully and Bennette led the way into the first room, indicating the leather sofa.
Gibson undid his suit jacket and sat down; Bennette followed suit.
“So,” said Bennette with a small smile, “Tell me about these perversions of yours.”
The distinguished looking gentleman on his couch raised his eyebrows. “You don't beat about the bush, do you,” he said and folded his hands in his lap. He was wearing a large gold signet ring on the left hand, and the edge of a gold wristwatch peeked from below the white shirt's sleeve. Bennette noticed that the man wore gold cuff links also.
“Let us not go to the beating of any bushes at this time,” said Bennette, “That's a whole other story. Seriously though, what's the problem, and how can I help you?”
“I don't know if you can,” said the man, speaking precisely in a well modulated voice, hinting at public speaking, public performance, or having taken some training in this direction.
Bennette shrugged and waited.
The man took a deep breath and said, “Perhaps I can show you.”
“Please. Go ahead.”
Gibson stood up and took his jacket off, placing it on the sofa.
He undid his tie, slid it off and placed it on top of the jacket, then he unbuttoned the shirt halfway down, slid it over his shoulders so it dropped a way down his back and turned around.
Bennette blew out a breath as he saw the man's back. It was a crazy criss crossed network of scars upon scars, upon scars. Long straight lines, hundreds of them. The result of decades of whipping and breaking the skin.
“Take all your clothes off,” said Bennette softly.
The man, remaining standing with his back to Bennette, began to undo his cuff links, unbuttoned the rest of his shirt and took it off.
“Fuck me,” said Bennette softly.
It was not just his entire back that was covered with whipping scars, it was his shoulders too, his arms. The scars wound around his chest, his midriff; as Gibson bent to take his shoes and socks off, undid his trousers and slid those down too, Bennette could see the scars were under his arms too and on his legs, everywhere; when Gibson took his white boxer shorts off, the dreadful state of his buttocks became revealed.
Here, the scars were not in neat, straight cuts and lines; terrible injuries must have been inflicted here and the man's arse was simply a mess.
The backs of his legs, the insides of his thighs, there wasn't a place on the man's body that was marked and mangled.
Gibson turned around.
Bennette had to shake his head. “Fucking hell man, what have you been doing to yourself?” he said.
Gibson looked down at himself and shrugged.
His face was perfect. His hands were perfect, as were his feet. He looked as though he was wearing a suit made from torn and mangled flesh.
Bennette got up and moved closer to the man. He extended his fingertips to touch Gibson on the shoulder, a feather light touch, shaking his head.
“How long has this being going on for?” he asked.
Gibson held his eyes easily. “I've always liked to be beaten,” he said. “I used to do it to myself when I was still young. Very young.”
Bennette moved to stand in front of the man, letting his fingertips slide down Gibson's chest, over his stomach, towards the misshapen penis, where his touch lingered.
“How many piercing have you had?” he asked in wonderment.
“I don't remember,” Gibson said calmly, in that BBC news reader voice, showing no emotion or embarrassment at having Bennette examine his prick, or rather, what was left of it.
“When is the last time you came?” Bennette wondered and straightened up, stepping away and sitting back down, indicating for Gibson to do so likewise.
Gibson sat upright and answered, “That must have been five, six years ago.”
“Have you been to see a doctor?”
Gibson shook his head. “There's nothing that can be done now.” He gave a small smile. “I've fucked myself, good and proper.”
Bennette sighed. “But you're still getting yourself beaten. Even though you're not feeling it any longer.”
Gibson said, “To be honest, I find it harder and harder to find someone who is willing to beat me. Sometimes I get lucky with someone who is new to the scene.”
Bennette nodded and got up again. “Stay there,” he said, “I'll be back shortly.” He left the room and Gibson got up too, walked up to the great mirror above the fire place and looked at himself, turning this way, and that. His well composed face with the straight nose, good chin and straight eyebrows gave no indication whether he was satisfied with what he was observing.
Bennette came back, carrying a small rectangular black box in his hand.
He stepped up beside Gibson, and to the mirror man, he said, “Can you extend your time here with me for half an hour or so? I want to try something.”
Gibson turned his head so he could see Bennette directly. “Yes,” he said, “Yes. I can extend the time.”
“Good,” said Bennette and gave the small box to Gibson.
Bennette went to the door, locked it, and took off his own jacket.
He undressed in a very business like fashion whilst Gibson watched him without displaying any kind of emotion.
Naked, Bennette came to stand before Gibson and said, “Open it.”
Gibson opened the little box by removing its lid. Inside, there lay a fine hat pin, made from a shimmering blue metal and bearing a large pearl on one end.
Gibson looked up from the hat pin to Bennette and said, “Although this looks interesting, it isn't really my thing. I just want to be beaten.”
“It's a diagnostic device,” Bennette said and took the hat pin out of the box. “I'm a sex therapist, not a dominus for hire. Please lie down on there ... “ He indicated the black plinth by nodding towards it, and took the box and its lid from Gibson.
Gibson complied without argument and lay down on the black fur, his legs slightly spread and his arms by his side.
Bennette put the box away and, holding the pin in an open hand, stepped close and looked down at the other man.
“When you look at my body, what do you see?” he asked.
“I see someone,” Gibson responded immediately, “Who has no idea of how lucky he is. I bet you still feel ... everything.”
“Yes,” said Bennette. “I do. I really do feel ... everything.” He sat down on a level with Gibson's hips and placed the shimmering blue pin on the man's stomach, the pearl resting on his navel.
“Give me your hand,” Bennette said.
“Do not scar it,” Gibson raised his head. It was the first real concern or emotion he had shown since he had arrived.
Bennette nodded. “It's ok,” he said. “This instrument is made from Titanium. It is very fine. It is especially designed not only not to leave any scars, but no traces at all.”
“Alright,” said Gibson and dropped his head back down. “Go ahead.”
Bennette took the pin and gently inserted it into the back of the man's hand. It slid in easily, readily; Gibson did not flinch or move in any way. Bennette pushed it further and then gave a small cry as the pin penetrated his own hand also; he drew in a deep breath and said, “Fuck ...” when he gave the final push and their hands were nailed together with the pin.
“I hope you don't have AIDS,” said Gibson conversationally. “I didn't know we were going to share blood today.”
Bennette was grimacing. “I don't have AIDS,” he said under his breath, “And neither do you. And fuck, that really hurts.”
Gibson looked at him. “I wish I could feel it,” he said sincerely. His hand twitched and Bennette gave a yelp of pain. “Sorry,” said Gibson and relaxed his hand, pushing it down a little to get a better contact with Bennette's hand beneath.
“Ok,” said Bennette, “Give me your other hand.” He leaned over and flinched again as the movement caused the pain from the fine pin that was stuck through his hand to flare up again. He took Gibson's hand in his and said, “Close your eyes.”
Gibson complied.
“Now,” Bennette said, “Hurt me. And don't look for your pain. Instead, feel mine.”
The man took a deep breath and started to turn his pinned hand, causing Bennette to give a groan of pain and tighten his grip on Gibson's other hand. For the next five minutes, Gibson caused Bennette to groan, hiss, and scream out aloud until finally, he stopped and said reflectively, “I ... it's the strangest thing ... I'm beginning to ... know ... what you will do. I'm not ... I don't know ... This is very strange.” Gibson opened his eyes to see that Bennette was sweating. Bennette's grip on Gibson's other hand was white knuckled.
“Why are you doing this?” Gibson enquired and used the grip from Bennette to draw himself up into the seated position. He looked down at Bennette's dick which showed that Bennette did not find this sexually exciting in any way.
“I am changing you,” said Bennette and swallowed. “You're learning a new way to feel.”
“I don't want to hurt you,” Gibson was serious. “I don't want to hurt you or anyone else. Only me.”
“I know,” said Bennette, “I know that. You're not enjoying hurting me, I can tell.”
“I don't,” Gibson said. “But ...”
“You felt something,” Bennette said and slowly released his hold on Gibson's other hand.
Gibson shook his head. “No, I don't think so ... it wasn't a feeling ... not like I remember it ...”
Bennette took a deep breath. “Do it again,” he said. “Do it again and pay attention. Remember not to try and figure out what you're feeling, but sense what I am feeling instead. Do it. Hurt me.”
Gibson flexed his fingers on the pinned hand and Bennette's eyes narrowed, his breathing became faster. Gibson grabbed hold of Bennette's pinned hand and squeezed it, hard, and Bennette cried out, reflexively tried to pull away and that intensified the agony to the point where Bennette jumped up, pulled his hand away and tore away from the pin, which remained stuck through Gibson's hand.
“Oh fuck,” said Bennette and massaged his hand which felt as though it was on fire. These fine needles really did the job, he thought, they really did.
Gibson pulled the hat pin out of his hand, looked at it with interest and said, “I felt it. I ... felt it in my stomach. It was a strange feeling ... like ... being punched in the stomach. And it hurt.” He looked up at Bennette, eyes wide open and said with wonderment in his voice. “I felt pain in my stomach. I felt your pain ... I can feel something ...?”
“Yes,” said Bennette. “You can feel something. In fact, you can feel everything. I just needed to know that it was so.”
He held his flat hand out, the one that had been pinned. Gibson looked at it for a moment, then placed the pin on Bennette's hand, carefully, and watched the hand shudder slightly.
“There ... “ he said, “There! I felt something else. Like, I felt the fear in your hand?”
“Where did you feel it?” asked Bennette and Gibson put his hand to his chest, tracing a line up to his throat across the volcanic landscape of his mutilated skin.
“OK,” said Bennette. “OK. We can re-wire you. But first I need a drink. Do you drink?”
“No,” said Gibson.
“Today is as good a day to start,” said Bennette. He walked from the room, leaving Gibson to sit on the black fur plinth, stroking his own throat and seeming very absorbed by what he was feeling.
Bennette, as naked as the other man but so inconceivably different in every way, returned with a bottle of scotch and two glasses. He sat down on the plinth and held out both glasses for Gibson to take, which the other man did. Bennette filled them generously, re-corked the bottle and placed it on the ground.
He took one of the glasses Gibson was holding, said, “To feelings,” contacted it briefly against Gibson's glass and without waiting, drank the whole thing in one go.
Gibson looked at his glass and said, “I don't drink. I came by car. I have to go back to work.”
Bennette was fishing up the bottle for his next serving. “Loosen up. You can take a taxi. Take the rest of the day off. Learn some more about feelings.”
Gibson looked at the glass, at the naked Bennette sitting across from him, gave a shake of the head, a small smile, and drained his own glass dry, which set him to coughing.
Bennette laughed, took the man's glass away and re-filled it. “Here,” he said, “Have a sip of this. It cures coughs, it's medicinal.”
Lee Gibson's cough turned into a laugh, a gasp, but he took the glass and a small drink. “Oh ...” he said in a long drawn out sigh, “Oh ... now that I can feel.”
“Feel or taste?” asked Bennette.
Gibson thought about it, listening inside himself. “Both, I think.” He smiled at Bennette. “You know,” he said, “I didn't really expect much from ... this visit. You've blown my mind.”
Bennette leaned forward and kissed the man on the mouth. It lasted for nearly three seconds before Gibson drew back.
“Shh ...” said Bennette sincerely. “You haven't been kissed much, have you.”
Gibson said nothing and remained leaning back.
Bennette smiled and sat back. “It's alright,” he said conversationally, looking at the glass in his hand and his own dick beyond that. “I can't begin to know what your life is like, has been like. I'm just wondering if there was ... much ... love in it.”
Silence followed his statement. Bennette asked, “Did you ever have sex at all? With men or with women? Any kind of sex?”
Gibson shook his head. He took another drink and eventually he said, “I ... tried. Long time ago.”
“You are a very attractive man,” Bennette said softly. “Women and men both, you must have had so many offers ... stalkers, even ...”
Gibson didn't say anything but he did sigh.
“You can't take your clothes off in front of normal people, can you.” Bennette stated the obvious but reflected that sometimes, the obvious did need to be stated.
Gibson shook his head. “That's not the problem,” he said. “I don't mind people seeing what I am. In fact, I like it. That's what I came for. To see your face when I showed you my back.”
“And? Did I perform to your satisfaction?”
“No, not really. But at least you were honest.” Gibson took another drink and sighed.
“What response were you hoping for?” Bennette was curious.
“I don't know,” Gibson said reflectively. “I don't know ... it's funny you should ask that. It's a big thing, it's ... I don't know, like I am waiting for something to happen but it never does.”
“What? What is that you're waiting to happen? Is it something ... like a person can do, I can do? Or something else? Like ... a lightning strike or something?” Bennette wondered.
“A lightning strike ...” Gibson said it softly and looked up above Bennette's head, far away. “A lightning strike ... God ... oh my God ... is ... that ... what ....” His eyes came down to Bennette's and he said with a pleading tone of voice, “Is that what I wanted to feel? For ... God to strike me ... down?”
Bennette put his hand to his head and massaged his temple. “Pain ... feels electric ...” he said thoughtfully.
Gibson said, “Whipped by lightning. Struck by lightning ...”
“Would you like to experience what that would be like?”
The man with the perfect face and the mangled body said, “It would kill me. It would put me out of my misery. It would end it. With a bang, not with a whimper.” He smiled and emptied his glass.
Bennette emptied his glass too and stood up. “Come with me,” he said and left his empty glass on the plinth, walked from the room without checking if Gibson would follow.

Lightning

Bennette led Gibson upstairs, to the bedroom with the crazy mirrors.
Here, Gibson stood and moved, watching the multiple reflections of himself dance for a time until Bennette interrupted the man's perfect fascination with his destroyed body and asked him to come and lie on the bed, face down.
Bennette got on the bed as well, lay down next to him, turned towards Gibson and moved closer until his chest was touching Gibson's shoulder; Bennette then put his hand on the man's back.
“Close your eyes and follow me now ...”
Gibson awoke with a start, in a blackened, jagged landscape under a blood red sky, and lightning was flashing all around, crashing, making the burned ground tremble beneath his bare feet.
He turned his head and saw Bennette standing beside and behind him, naked, beautiful, perfect, looking at Gibson with great concentration and attention.
“What is this place?” asked Gibson and turned around. The sharded, pitch black land was all around and reached to the far horizon in every direction; lightning was striking everywhere and where it did, the black ground was ripped open and lava spewed, flowed, fountained high. Gibson raised his eyes to the blood red sky above which held no clouds but stars, far away, and where the lightning formed in sparking arches;
Bennette said, “This is the place where you come when you want to be struck by lightning.”
Gibson watched a new lightning strike tearing up a ridge of tall black shards to the left and below, not very far away; it cracked like whip and echoed, echoed; a huge fountain of brilliant bright lava exploded high up into the hot air.
He turned to Bennett. “That's just going to kill me,” he said, “And I ... I don't want to die ...”
Bennette nodded seriously. “I know,” he responded, “You just want to ... feel it.” With that, Bennette reached up and to the sky, held out his hand aloft and a bolt of lightning, fine and thin, rushed towards him, but it did not strike him; Bennette caught it in his hand and held it like a snake, like a whip, crackling and winding, trying to break free.
“Turn around,” said Bennette, lowering the lightning whip that hissed and crackled, seeking the ground, “Turn around and get ready. 13 strikes, that's all you get. You better make the most of it.”
Gibson was clearly trembling now; he stared at the lightning twisting and writhing in Bennette's hand, hungry it was, seeking a release, a target. His heart was beating high and his breath was fast; he was not sure if he was afraid or if he was excited, it was impossible to tell.
Breathing rapid, shallow, hard breaths, Gibson turned around slowly and raised his mangled arms up, spread his legs apart and stretched up and out, the perfect man in DaVinci's circle. He was trembling hard now and behind him, Bennette stepped forward, wrestling the lightning whip, raising it high and then he brought the lighting down on Gibson's back with all his might.
The lightning struck and ripped through the broken skin from the man's left shoulder down and across, all the way to his right thigh and bright white light shot out of the open wound; Gibson screamed and shuddered but held his position perfectly.
“That was No. 1,” said Bennette, “And here is No. 2.” He brought the lightning down on Gibson from the other side, a perfect X from which brilliant bright rays of white light streamed up and out. Bennette moved around Gibson who was mumbling incoherently, his eyes wide open, flicking lids fast and randomly. Bennette held the whip away to the side and kissed Gibson on the mouth. “It'll soon be over,” he said lovingly, “Let's finish this. Good luck, my friend.”
Bennette stepped back, raised the lightning whip, catching the tail in his other hand where it crackled and sparked; and with a cry, Bennette let the whip loose on the man before him, the lightning tearing up his welted flesh, the white light exploding, widening the cracks; Bennette hit him again and again, stripping the flesh off not his bones, but of a creature made of pure white light which was becoming more and more revealed. At one point, there was not enough of the flesh remaining to hold together and it fell away; with the final strike that cut Gibson's handsome face apart, the suit of flesh could not hold on any longer and slid away, fell to the blackened ground and the bright white creature was pure, beautiful beyond words, radiant ...
Bennette opened his eyes. Lee Gibson was lying on the bed with the black silk sheets, eyes closed, breathing deeply. He was completely relaxed and deeply asleep.
Bennette sighed. He bent over the man, kissed him gently on the forehead, then he got off the bed and drew the silk top sheet from his side over the sleeping man, pulling it right up to Gibson's neck and tucking it over his shoulders.
He stood for a while, looking down at the sleeping man; eventually, he made a sign of blessing and left the room, closing the door softly behind himself.


At 5pm, Bennette walked into the Cut Above salon.
His ladies there were not giggling or laughing as he stepped inside, out from a grey, overcast afternoon and into the bright lights and sparkle that played white highlights into his hair.
They all looked to him and stopped.
Deirdre stopped with an armful of fresh, clean soft pink towels; Heather stopped in mid movement cleaning a hairbrush.
Sally stopped in the middle of talking to a client who was just about to leave and Mrs Stanford stopped in the middle of tapping something into her computer behind the service counter.
It was a strange moment that was noticed by those who were not his ladies at this time; Aria and the two remaining customers looked from one to the other, to Bennette and there, they stopped too.
“Ladies,” he said softly, “Please continue.”
They did, albeit slowly as they were trying to pick up their train of thought. Like a movie that had gone into freeze frame and was recovering to ordinary speed, they found their way back to normal time and Bennette stepped forward to Mrs Stanford.
“I promised I would come to check on your progress with the new business idea,” he said softly. Mrs Stanford looked up at him and sighed. “I - we - have been working on it all day,” she said and looked down for long enough to be able to localise a sheet of paper. She picked it up and gave it to Bennette.
It was a computer produced graphic for a flyer for male manicures, special offer for first timers, and the tag line was “Hands Speak Volumes About You.”
“Very nice,” said Bennette and smiled at her, “That's very nice. I think it will bring quite a few new repeat customers.”
Mrs Stanford nodded. She felt shy of him. There was something about him that was different from how he had been ... only such a short time ago, yesterday evening, when she had ... when he had ...
“How is our rescued lady?” Bennette asked her in a low voice so the others would not hear.
This was something Mrs Stanford could talk about. She came to life, relaxed, and said, “Poor dear. She is ... still in shock, I think. Confused and frightened. She will need a few more days before we can start talking about what to do next. I got her some clothes, we are nearly the same size, and I cooked her a lovely lunch.” Mrs Stanford smiled a little sadly. “I ... really enjoyed having someone to look after,” she said, “You were right to bring her to me.”
Bennette nodded and she added, “I want to thank you ... for all that you've ...”
“Please, dear lady,” Bennette said softly. “Please. Don't.”
Mrs Stanford looked as though she was going to start to cry; Bennette shook his head and picked up the leaflet design, held it out to her. “You've done a wonderful job here. You are doing a wonderful job here. Please give Lynda my best regards when you go home.” He gave a short bow and then turned towards the rest of the ladies, bowed deeply, turned and walked away.

Hens
“We should have asked Gloria to come along,” said Deirdre to Sally and Heather as the three walked from the salon to the Hen & Crown, for the first ever official meeting of BA, or Bennette Anonymous.
Heather said, “I don't think she wants people to know ...”
Sally said, “It's funny how you can tell though. What is it that lets other people know you've been bennetted?” She giggled.
Deirdre cast her a glance. “I don't like that term. Being bennetted. That's not nice.”
“Although actually being bennetted is very nice. Very, very nice,” Sally said and then giggled some more.
The three ladies entered the public bar, got their drinks and found a booth at the end, an old wooden table with wooden benches under a three pane stained glass window that softened and coloured the light of the grey day outside, made it feel like summer, or Christmas, whatever the weather.
Deirdre slid into the top seat; Heather took the opposite and Sally squeezed herself in next to Heather.
For a moment, the three ladies sat and looked at their drinks, then Deirdre said, “To having been successfully bennetted, whatever that means,” and raised her vodka and tonic. The others clinked their glasses to hers. Heather said, “That's like ... we're the witches of Coylton.”
“Oh God,” said Deirdre, “Send us a tall dark stranger ...”
“We're living it, how crazy is that ...”
“Is he the devil?” Heather wondered. “I mean, really? He's not ... like ...”
“Like anyone else, ever.” Sally stated it with authority.
Deirdre said, “He's not the devil. He is good. Kind.”
Heather said, “He said that I was too good for him. That I was out of his league.”
Both the other women turned to her in amazement.
“I'm a ... virgin ...” Heather said in a small voice, blushed and looked down.
“But you said ....”
“... you spent the night with him?” Deirdre finished off the sentence that Sally had begun.
“I did,” said Heather. “We ... ahm ... did, like ... stuff. But not ... that, you know.”
“He didn't sleep with you?” Sally was surprised and not a little taken aback.
“Oh,” Heather said, “Yes he slept with me. That was the second time. But he didn't ...”
“He didn't fuck you,” Deirdre stated it succinctly and Heather dropped down in the seat and blushed but then nodded. She went to her brandy and coke, no ice, to give her strength.
Sally was intrigued. “What stuff did you do with him? Did he get you off?”
Heather was shrinking more and Deirdre reached across and put her hand on the younger woman's arm. “It's ok,” she said, “You don't have to say. It's alright. The main thing is, did you like it? Did you like him? Do you want to do ... more with him?”
Heather sighed and nodded. “I told him that I wanted him to be ... my first. But he said no. I don't know what I did wrong ... I'm such an idiot ...”
“No, of course you're not!” Sally cried and Deirdre said, “He doesn't do anything without there being a good reason behind it. Nothing. Even when it looks like something is just happening, with him it never is. He knows what he's doing.”
“Oh, that he does,” said Sally and finished her drink, double vodka with orange. “Right, next round's on me,” she said, causing the other two to finish their drinks too and hand her the glasses. She wriggled large body out of the wooden bench and went off to the bar, her big backside in the tight white trousers swinging as she went.
Deirdre took the opportunity to ask, “I've found that he gets ... easily excited?”
Heather smiled at that. “Yes, that's ... definitely true. He does get very excited. Very.”
Deirdre smiled back at her. “I do like that about him,” she said, “It's ... honest.”
“And hot,” Heather said and sighed. “I just wish ...” She folded her hands on the table. Deirdre reached across and her put her hand over Heather's.
“Look,” she said sincerely. “Trust him. If he thought you weren't ... quite ready yet, then take his word for it. I don't know how many women he's slept with, the age he is and everything, the job he does, it could be hundreds. Thousands even. He probably knows more about it than any of us do.”
Heather looked down and shook her head. Deirdre added, “If he didn't like you, do you really think he'd spent ... how long were you with him for?”
“The whole night,” Heather said but didn't look up. “We met at 11pm. In the churchyard.” She shook her head and laughed a little, drawing her hands from the table and sitting up straighter. “That was ... crazy ... creepy ...”
Deirdre laughed. “I told him you said you thought he was creepy. And you know what he said? That's exactly what she likes!”
Heather had to laugh too. “He's something, isn't he ...”
“Yes,” said Deirdre.
The text message read:
“Come to my house, 9pm. NLB”

The recipients were:

Deirdre Cannon
Sally Wyndon
Heather McGregor
Lynda Vanderhalen
Gloria Stanford
Samantha Davidson
Ronald Davidson
James Elvin Paris

 

 

Refreshment
At 7.45, Mrs Durloch was delivering James to Bennette's house to help with the refreshments.
Bennette had ignored the young man, kept his eyes on Mrs Durloch whose straight brown hair was loose and flowing, whose eyes were sparkling and who looked like a young woman in her orange dress with a pretty white belt and matching shoes. He had kissed her hand deeply and admonished her to return for 9pm sharp.
“But tell your husband you might not be back right away so he doesn't worry,” he whispered to her and her eyes lit up, she nodded quickly and skipped away with a wave and a smile.
Once the door was closed, Bennette turned to Jason who was wearing tight leather trousers, a white shirt that was open halfway down his chest, and black leather cowboy boots as per his instructions. Jason's hair was washed but un-gelled so it was wavy, untidy and soft.
“Perfect,” he said, “Perfect. A young Jim Morrison if ever I saw one,” and chuckled.
Jason Durloch raised both his shapely eyebrows, put his head back, regarded Bennette from under half closed lids and said, in a low voice and long, slow drawn out drawl, “Hey man ... you're trippin' man ...”
This made Bennette laugh out aloud. He slapped the young man on the shoulder and said, “Let's go move some furniture.”
They carried the therapist's couch from the office into the first room together, then the red leather chair. This they put opposite the L shaped couch in the first room and used the black plinth to close the gap, forming a circle.
Jason said, “How many people are you expecting?”
Bennette stood up, looked at the arrangement and said, “Just the two at 8pm, but then the rest at 9.”
Jason shook his head. “Are you going to tell me what's going on? What do you want me to do?”
Bennette walked to the control panel next to the door and played with the lights, until the room felt very intimate. The lights near the curtain were completely turned off and only one set of four, over the empty centre of the furniture circle were left on at less than quarter strength.
It was interesting, inviting. Things could be done here, Jason thought, many things ...
Bennette came over and stood close up to Jason, causing the shorter man to have to look up at him. Jason moistened his lips with the tip of his tongue and wondered whether Bennette would kiss him. Then he hoped that Bennette would. Then he thought strongly, kiss me goddammit, you know you want to. You know I want you to ...
Bennette slowly lowered his head, found Jason's lips and kissed him, very gently. His kiss was electric, exquisite, and it sent shivers down Jason's spine and straight into his testicles, too.
Jason could not help himself. He had to put his hands around Bennette's neck, drawing him down and kissing him hungrily. Bennette reached up and took the young man's wrists, taking them off his neck and forcing them outwards and down, slowly as Jason battled him and kissed him with ever more passion, desperation, and Bennette kissed him back.
When Jason's hands had been forced all the way down, Bennette broke the kiss, let him go and stepped back.
Bennette's eyes were bright and his breathing faster, deeper.
“I so want to fuck you, boy,” he said softly, “Not now though. But I want you to keep that heat you're feeling, that's sparking from you. Keep it going. When you feel you're losing it, look at me and imagine me between your knees, sucking your dick. I want you red hot and ready for action, a fucking lighthouse of sexual excitement.”
Jason curled up and put his hand in his trousers, straightening out and re-positioning his dick which was now hard as hell and this showed undeniably under the smooth, tight leather pants.
“Very nice,” said Bennette as the young man straightened out, looking at Jason's groin and licking his lips, “Very nice. Now you keep it up, the good work.”
“Yes, sir,” Jason said and swallowed, and then the doorbell rang.
Bennette did not go to it right away; he went to Jason and put his red hot hand on the young man's groin, making him gasp as he gripped firmly.
“Whatever happens, you keep standing to attention,” Bennette said softly and Jason could just nod.
“Good boy,” Bennette said and went to open the front door.
Jason remained standing, hearing the young voice he recognised as belonging to Steve Willis with one ear, and with the rest of his attention marvelling at the heat in his groin, in his testicles, and how it was that it felt as though Bennette's hand was still holding him there. He had to close his eyes and fight to retain his balance and opened them just in time to see Steve Willis walking into the room, looking like a school boy in blue jeans that were halfway down his hips and a very tight little black T-shirt with illegible graffiti on the chest.
Steve smiled nervously and then his eyes widened; he clearly felt the energy from Durloch, then his eyes slid to the leather pants and his eyes widened even more.
Jason was vibrating and Willis was trembling when Bennette introduced them to each other.
The doorbell rang again but this time, it did not disrupt or disturb Jason's focus; he felt Bennette's hands around his balls again, and very nearly moaned; the only reason he managed to suppress it was because Steve Willis was staring at him, mouth half open, as though the young blond man could not believe his eyes.
Bennette led Kevin McCarthy into the room. Jason had never seen this man before and he was struck by him to the degree that he had to force himself to think of Bennette for a moment to keep his state of high excitement going.
Kevin McCarthy was stunning. He was easily the best looking man Jason had ever seen in real life, there was just something about him that was breathtaking. God had a good day when he made you, thought Jason, and then he thought, God? Fucking hell ... Then McCarthy looked him in the eye as Bennette made the introduction and something flashed between them; Jason could clearly see McCarthy on his knees before him, looking up at him, begging him to be allowed to touch his dick ...
This created a new strand to the high energy in Jason Durloch's body; a different flavour, a different layer to Bennette but complimentary, like notes that sound good together, and here Jason had to turn and look at Willis, and it was clear - he fitted too, this was a chord ...
Bennette noted that Durloch was swaying; he walked over to the young man, took him by the elbow and said, “You have to forgive my young friend here, he is ... easily excited. Take a seat.”
Willis sat in the great master chair which made him look even more like a young boy; McCarthy sat on the edge of the therapist's couch which brought him as close to Willis as could be achieved with the layout as it was.
Bennette guided Jason into the central space where the lights fell straight down and said softly, “Jason here is hot as hell. He is very excited. Can you feel this?”
Both young man nodded, Willis strongly and McCarthy resistantly.
Bennette looked at the two and put his hand on Jason's back, causing the young man to gasp and arch his back. Bennette smiled.
“Alright, hands up who has never fucked a man?”
Jason raised his hand, it was trembling.
McCarthy hung his head and raised his hand also.
Willis did not raise his hand but folded both around his bony knees instead.
“Hands up who wants to fuck Jason here? Not in principle, but really. Right now.”
Bennette raised his left hand high at that, whilst with the right continuing to put a little pressure on Jason who thought that Bennette's hand was burning a hole in his back, was burrowing through the back into his chest ...
Willis raised his hand and after a struggle, McCarthy did, also.
“Ok, everybody. Look up, look around the room. We have a unanimous vote.” Bennette took his hand from Jason's back and put it around the back of the young man's neck instead.
“So we're all arse riders here together,” Bennette said it succinctly.
McCarthy and Willis looked up at him in identical expressions of surprise and both still had their hands in the air - McCarthy his right hand, and Willis his left hand.
“That's not a term I've heard before,” said young Steve Willis and McCarthy flashed him a glance.
“That's what it is called when you want to fuck the arse off a man where I come from,” said Bennette with a smile. “I like the expression. It's not so fucking gay.”
Willis gave a laugh and Bennette tightened his grip around the back of Jason's neck, causing him to gasp and stagger for a moment.
“Look at him,” said Bennette. “Have you ever seen anything as hot as this? As beautiful? Who in their right mind wouldn't want to fuck him?”
Bennette turned the younger man using his grip on him, drawing him forward and up and kissed him. Both McCarthy and Willis could clearly see the young man's legs going weak and Bennette having to catch him in a full embrace to stop him from falling.
“Come here,” Bennette commanded. Willis shot out of his chair, McCarthy got up slowly, reluctantly.
“Closer,” said Bennette, “Put your arms around him.” Willis did so and Bennette let go of his hold on Jason, causing Willis to have to pick up the slack and hold him instead. McCarthy had stepped up and was standing beside Bennette now; he was trembling. Bennette looked at him for a moment and said, “Kiss him, Steve.”
Steve turned Durloch, who was a little taller, in his arms and put his mouth to Jason's lips. Jason near enough fell on him and kissed him deeply, passionately.
McCarthy was starting to sweat. His hands flexed and closed to fists, flexed out again, made the fists again.
“Stand closer,” said Bennette. “You don't have to do anything, just feel the energy.” McCarthy took one step closer, an expression of pain in his face; his fists were now fully clenched. Bennette moved to stand right behind him. Into McCarthy's ear, he said, “Stop thinking. Start feeling. Just feel this. Isn't it extraordinary?”
He passed around behind McCarthy and stepped up to the two men who were kissing passionately. He put his arms around them both and said softly, “Stop.” They both had to fight to end the kiss and when they finally moved their lips apart, it was clear to see that it caused pain, bereavement.
“Stay there, don't move, don't touch,” Bennette said to them both, a calm command.
Jason turned his head to be able to see him and Bennette gave a small nod. Jason let go of Steve Willis and went to Bennette, putting his head on Bennette's chest and sliding his arms beneath the jacket around his waist.
“Ok,” said Bennette to Willis and McCarthy. “I don't care what you two do now. This one here, he belongs to me.” He took Jason to the leather couch, made him sit down on it and started to undo the remaining buttons of the young man's shirt, sliding it off his shoulders and letting it drop to the floor. Bennette stroked the bulge in Jason's pants with the back of his hand, then he set to unbuttoning the leather pants. Jason put his hands behind him and raised his hips to assist in the process. Moments later, and Jason's prick sprang free, shapely and powerfully erect, glistening under the starry lights. Bennette put his hand around it and Jason moaned out aloud.
The two other men were standing and staring.
Bennette slowly turned his head and said softly, “Look at each other. Find something to do until I'm done here. It's impolite to stare.”
With that, he re-focused his attention on Jason's dick and bent slowly to put his mouth to it.
Willis and McCarthy turned to each other. Willis could clearly see that McCarthy was afraid, but he also knew that it was the perfect moment. Steve Willis smiled, crossed the short distance between them, and without further ado, put his arms around the man's neck and kissed him. McCarthy struggled only for a heartbeat longer. He broke; his arms went around Willis's waist and he moved into the shorter man with such impetus that the pair stumbled backwards. Willis ended up in the big leather arm chair and McCarthy was on top of him.
Whilst Bennette made Jason Durloch scream by holding him expertly balanced at the point of excruciating pain without allowing him to come, Willis and McCarthy were touching each other; it was too much for both of them and both came rapidly, too rapidly; they were both embarrassed by this but then became distracted and watched, in each other's embrace, as Bennette made Jason Durloch cry, cry real tears until finally, mercifully, Bennette let him come.
It was extremely quiet in the room. Bennette got up, straightened his jacket, went to the door, unlocked it, and went outside. He did not close the door behind him.
The two young men entangled in the great leather chair still remained motionless; Jason was curled up in a ball on the leather couch with his back to them.
Presently, Bennette re-appeared, carrying a pink square box of tissues.
He went to the armchair, bowed as butler would and held out the box. “Here you go, gentlemen.”
Each one took a few of the small tissues. Bennette bowed and went over to Jason. Willis and McCarthy looked at each other, then Willis started to laugh and McCarthy had to join him too; the two laughed and dabbed at each other with their tissues, ending up wrestling on the carpet, laughing and punching each other.
Jason was crying. Bennette gave him a tissue and sat down on the edge of the sofa, with the pink box balanced on his thigh.
Eventually, Jason sat up on his knees, still with his face to the wall, and blew his nose repeatedly. Bennette held out another tissue to him and he used that, too.
A third tissue was employed to wipe his eyes, then Jason used it to roll up the other two tissues and pass the bundle back to Bennette, who simply put it in his jacket pocket. Bennette stood up and fished the white shirt from the ground, handed it to Jason.
“Alright, everybody,” said Bennette, “Sort yourselves out and sit down. Let's talk about homosexuality.”
From their various positions, the three young men all stared at him, and then all three started to laugh helplessly. “Christ,” said Jason and got off the sofa, “Christ almighty. Honestly, Bennette, honestly ...”
McCarthy was holding his hand down to Willis who was still buttoning his jeans, then drew the smaller, thinner man into the standing position. They smiled at each other for a moment, then came and sat in the circle again, side by side this time, on the therapy couch.
Bennette placed the pink box of tissues next to Jason and sat down in the master chair.
“Alright,” he said and smiled. “So ... anyone would like to share anything ...?”
He himself started to chuckle at that, and then he laughed out aloud. “Oh, seriously now. Here's my take on it. If God didn't want us to be arse riders, it would have designed something different for arses. Something with teeth in it. Or spines.” He chuckled and continued, “It is my assertion that all people are potentially bisexual. Bisexual, I said. Not homosexual. I know it's not fashionable and you get beaten by everyone for it, but I'm basing this assertion on a lot of experience.
“So what I'd like you three to take away from tonight's experience is this.
“Get hot. Fuck. It's good for you.” With that, Bennette leaned back in the chair, crossed his ankle over his knee and tapped his foot.
Willis raised his hand and said, “My father is going to kill me if he finds out.”
McCarthy glanced at the blond young man. “My family is going to beat me to death. With sticks and stones. Biblical.” he said.
Jason said, “My parents probably wouldn't believe it. They'd just think it was a phase or something.” He gave a small snort.
Bennette said, “And all of that is nonsense. Nobody is going to kill anybody. All your friends and relatives already know that you have tendencies in this direction. They try and talk themselves out of it but believe me, deep down, they know. That's the first thing.
“The second thing is that you don't have to come out of any closets if you don't want to. There are many life style choices. Be reasonable. Be sensible. And beyond that, pack as much fun into your short lives as you can. Seriously.”
Jason smiled at that, then he said, “I don't know you, Kevin, but Steve, seriously, I don't think there's anyone in the village who thinks your straight. Apart from your dad, that is.”
Steve looked shocked by this but Kevin nodded. “Yeah,” he said, “Rosie always says you're Heather's gay friend.”
Steve Willis looked even more shocked at that.
Bennette shook his head and said, “Talk about living in illusion. You too, Kevin. And in your case, you're better off people thinking you're a faggot rather than speculating you're a pervert, or a paedophile.”
Now it was Kevin's turn to look very, very shocked.
Bennette waved his hand dismissively and said, “People are naturally suspicious of people who don't have sex. Or seem to not have any. And I guess in most cases, they're right.”
Jason said, “Do you still want me to do that girlfriend in the village thing?”
Here, Bennette sat up and sighed. “I wish ...” he said but did not complete the sentence. He rubbed his forehead and eventually said, “Yes. Yes, you should do that. I think you'll have more fun with it now, it'll be ... a whole new experience.”
Steve Willis said, “He might be bisexual, but I'm not. Just so we're clear.”
“Me neither,” said McCarthy.
Bennette laughed tiredly and shook his head. “Whatever,” he said and pushed himself up off the chair. “Alright, gentlemen, meeting's over. But don't leave yet. There are some beers in the fridge, Kevin, and Steve, there's coke, and if you open a few cupboards, you can find brandy and the glasses. And there are bathrooms upstairs, if you want to freshen up.”
He turned to Jason and said, “You're with me.” On the way out the door he turned around. “If the doorbell rings and we're not back yet, let them in and make them a drink.”
Steve Willis nodded and Bennette left the room, closely shadowed by Jason Durloch.


Precious
Bennette led Jason into the room where Lee Gibson was still sleeping, sleeping beauty pale and fair with the black silk sheet right up to his neck.
Bennette turned the light on low, walked into the room and sat down on the bed.
“Close the door and lock it,” he said softly without taking his eyes of the man in the bed before him.
Jason complied.
“Who is that?” he asked, coming a little closer and peering over Bennette's shoulder.
“He's called Gibson, Lee Gibson,” Bennette said softly. “He's a special client of mine.”
“Is he ... have you ...?”
“No,” said Bennette. “I didn't have the chance, don't have the time.” He turned and looked up at Jason, very seriously. “Time is closing in on us all,” he said. “It's a shame. But it is as it is.”
Jason Durloch felt suddenly very scared, very cold. He reached out to touch Bennette on the shoulder. “You're not ... you're not leaving ... are you?” he whispered.
Bennette took the young man's hand from his shoulder and kissed it but did not respond otherwise. Before Jason had the chance to say anything else, Bennette let go off his hand, bent forward and started to stroke the man's face instead with the back of his hand, lovingly, very gently.
“Wake up, Lee,” he said softly.
The man's eyes snapped open, he gave a convulsive gasp and Bennette held him by shoulders for a moment until Gibson managed to focus on Bennette's face, then his eyes, sighed and relaxed.
“I'm sorry,” said Bennette, “We didn't have much time together but I'm glad you came. Very glad. How are you feeling, Lee?”
The man swallowed, cleared his throat and noticed Jason. He looked straight up into mirror above the bed. He was entirely covered; Gibson took a sigh and relaxed. He cleared his throat again and said in his best radio presenter voice, “Very well, thank you. I had ... an interesting ... dream.”
Bennette nodded and released the man's shoulders, sat upright. “That was not a dream. It was an autogenic experience. The lightning, the red sky, what we did, it was all real.”
The man's lids flickered fast. “OK,” he said calmly.
“I need you to ... be together, and to trust me. Can you do that, Lee?”
Gibson looked into Bennette's eyes and nodded. “I will do the best I can.”
Bennette nodded. in response. “I know you will. Now listen to me. In a moment, some people will assemble downstairs. The only thing they have in common is me. They are all here for a reason and I will explain it when everyone has arrived. You are one of these people by every right, even though we only had such a short time together, you belong here, with me and with them.
“Can you take that on trust?”
Gibson, who had held his breath throughout that short speech, sighed deeply and responded with a short nod.
“I am going to leave Jason here with you. You may trust him, as you trust me. Jason will help you get dressed and bring you downstairs when you are ready. There is an on suite bathroom over there. Your clothes are over there, on the dresser. How you handle that is up to you.”
Gibson glanced at Jason again and nodded, this time to Jason. Jason felt he had to bow briefly to the man. He was overcome by what Bennette had said and felt like crying. People had hated him; they had fallen in love with him. But no-body had ever trusted him.
“OK,” said Bennette, touched Gibson's shoulder briefly and got up. “Take good care of him,” he said to Jason. “He is very precious.” Jason bowed again. Bennette went to the door. “Lock up after me, keep him safe,” he said. He let himself out and closed the door softly behind himself.
Jason went and locked the door, turned around and leaned against it.
The man on the bed raised his head so he could see Jason. He seemed to think about something. Finally he said, “Would you please turn around against the door and cover your eyes? And stay there until I say it's ok to turn around?”
Jason nodded strongly. “Yes, of course,” he said, “Of course. Let me know what you need from me, anything, ok?”
“Thank you,” said the older man under the black silk sheet.
Jason turned around as promised and put his hands before his eyes.
Soft rustling informed him that the strange man who Bennette said was precious had gotten off the bed and a moment later, Jason could sense him walking past. The tiny noises of a shirt being shaken out, later a clinking of belt against buttons, the sound of a zip. A soft sigh from the bed - he must be putting his shoes on now, thought Jason but he was very calm and had no desire to turn around and catch the man out. None. That was strange in and of itself; and Jason couldn't help but feel that by not looking at Lee Gibson, he was doing the man some kind of favour, giving him some kind of gift? Strange, thought Jason and here he heard the older man's voice, smooth and cool, “Thank you. You can turn around now.”
Gibson was in front of the mirror, tying a pink silk tie. He looked statesmanlike, thought Jason, an actor who is going to play the President of the United States, or perhaps read the news or something. Watching Gibson, Jason was reminded of an older version of Kevin McCarthy. Those two could have been father and son, he mused, then Gibson said, “How long have you known Mr Bennette?” He picked up his jacket, gave it a shake and put it on. He ran his hands through his hair and seemed satisfied with his appearance.
Jason said, “Not long. A week, ten days? Something like that. But it feels like a lifetime.”
“How old are you?” asked Gibson and turned around. What lovely eyes he has, thought Jason, and answered, “17.”
“Are you a client or a relative?”
Jason laughed at that. “I am his son and his lover,” he said and noticed that Gibson didn't flinch in the slightest. “I'm sorry,” said Jason and meant it, “That was ... metaphorically speaking. I was a client.” He thought about it and added, “You will be meeting my mother soon. Do you know what time it is?”
At this, Gibson looked down, then patted his suit jacket. “Ah,” he said with obvious relief and drew a heavy gold watch from it, slipped it over his wrist, then drew the shirt sleeve over it. “It is five minutes to nine,” he said.
“Would you like to use the bathroom? It's through the door, just there,” said Jason who was still leaning against the door.
Gibson nodded, walked around the bed tightly and went into the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind him.
Jason blew out a long breath, pushed himself off the door and went to sit on the bed, then got onto it properly and lay down. It was still warm from Gibson's body and Jason stared up into the mirror, seeing himself like a poster of a rock star from a long time ago, drifting with that thought and the sound of water rushing in the bathroom, when the doorbell rang.
Come
Heather, Sally and Deirdre all had their mobile phones pinging and buzzing at the same time as they were still drinking in the Hen when they received Bennette's message.
They were amazed. “He wants ... all three of us? At the same time?” said Sally and gulped audibly.
Heather said, “Wait a minute. 9pm. You know I bet Steve Willis is still there. He had an appointment at 8 and said it was a sort of group session.”
“Steve? And who else?” asked Deirdre, sitting up and concentrating, which wrinkled her brows and forehead.
“I don't know,” said Heather. “Could be anybody. I think he's throwing another party.”
Sally burped and said, “I wish I hadn't drunk so much now ...”
“What's the time?” - “7.33.”
“That gives us an hour and a half. I suggest we get home right away and get ready,” said Deirdre. The others nodded. “And eat something,” she added, “Bread or chips, something like that. So we make it through the evening.”
They had set the time to meet back at the Hen for 8.45, but all of them were back there by 8.30 already.
They looked at each other and giggled.
Deirdre was wearing the yellow sun dress with the white cardigan that Bennette had given her and which since had been hand washed twice already most lovingly. Heather was wearing the white skirt and the leopard print blouse with the belt, also from Mr Bennette, and Sally was wearing a shortish pale blue dress and very high silver heels.
None of them were wearing underwear or false lashes; all had minimal make up on, and were not using any hair gel.
“Good God,” said Deirdre and laughed nervously, “He's got us trained, hasn't he. After a year of this, what will we be looking like?”
“Look,” said Heather and pointed. “Isn't that Gloria's car?”
Indeed, it was. The three young ladies started to make their way towards the shop and arrived just in time for Gloria Stanford to get out of her car. Another woman emerged who was recognised right away by Heather and Deirdre.
“Good evening, Mrs Vanderhalen,” they said in unison and looked at each other. The lady in question, whose hair was also soft, flat and natural but who was wearing sun glasses, nodded briefly. Gloria Stanford, also with soft flat hair, said, “Lynda is staying with me for a bit. What are you three doing here?” and then, “Oh ...” as it was clear by their unusual appearances that they too had been called to see Mr Bennette.
They were still standing, looking at each other, when another car drew up. This was Mrs Durloch, also with loose hair and a flowing dress of green.
“This is spooky,” said Heather to Deirdre and Deirdre had to agree. Sally leaned in to them and said, “But it also could be fun ... wonder what he has in mind?”
Another car. An old gentlemen emerged from it, wearing a pale suit from a bygone age. “What the fuck?” said Heather and Deirdre threw up her arms that were quite free of bangles on this night and said, “Come on, what's the time?”
“8.55.”
“That'll do. Come on everybody.” Deirdre said it to her two companions but raised her voice enough so the others who were assembled here could hear it too.
A couple of old ladies walking their dogs stopped and stared as the slow train of people made their way to Bennette's door and Deirdre rang the door bell.
To her amazement, the door was opened by a drop dead gorgeous young man who grinned and said, “Come inside. We've got drinks ready for you!” and pushed the door wide hard so it collided with the back wall.
Deirdre remembered that she had seen this one with Rosie McCarthy. Was Rosie here too? Was he her boyfriend?
Deirdre shook her head and walked inside.
The door to the first room was open and seating was set up there; he would have them all together in that room, she thought, and that gave her a small strange twist.
“I'm Kevin, Kevin McCarthy,” the gorgeous dark haired young man said, “You're Deirdre, right? My sister has told me about you.”
“Yes,” said Deirdre. “Where's Mr Bennette?”
“He's upstairs,” said Kevin and grinned more. “He'll be down in a while. He told us to get you some drinks. Come in the kitchen and choose your tipple.” He laughed at that expression and led the way.
Steve Willis was in the kitchen where the entire run of the counter along the left wall was strewn with glasses and a collection of spirits and wines a restaurant would be proud of.
Steve said, “He told us to get some stuff out, my God, he wasn't joking. If we don't find something you'll like, shoot us.” He spotted Heather and his face lit up. “Hey!” he called and waved, then bounced over to her excitedly. “Oh my God,” he whispered to her, “I can't believe this guy. What is he like!” Heather looked down at the former love of her life and felt a great fondness for him. She was very glad of that. She let her handbag slide off her shoulder to the floor, put both her hands around Steve's face, drew him towards her and kissed him on the lips, and when he started to struggle, did exactly what Bennette would have done; she put one arm around his neck, drew him towards her, and kissed him hard, and hungrily, and as though she owned him. It was only moments before he stopped struggling and shyly, kissed her back.
Heather drew away immediately and smiled brightly at him. She stroked his soft blonde hair and said lovingly, “I know. Mr Bennette is a revelation.” Then she let her astonished former best friend go, bent down to pick up her handbag and headed for the spirit bottles near the coffee machine.
Kevin McCarthy could see that the old gentleman was nervous, in spite of James Paris's best efforts to seem calm and unconcerned. Kevin therefore made it his business to make the old dear feel welcome, give him the best of his attention, and hold him by the arm, in case the old man should fall over. Quite loudly he said to Paris, “I can make you a cup of tea if you like.” Paris, who was half a head taller than McCarthy, looked down at the younger man, shook his head and said in a low, conversational tone, “I believe this is unnecessary. I would appreciate a cognac, in fact, that one over there, in the bottle which looks like an O has been cut in half. No ice or water, please.”
Kevin located the bottle the old man was referring to and said, “Yes, I'll get you a glass of that. Just you wait here now, I'll be right back,” smiled brightly and went to his task.
Mrs Durloch touched Steve Willis on the arm who was still standing where Heather had left him, looking very confused. “Excuse me,” she said, “Have you seen my son? He has dark hair and he was wearing a white shirt and leather trousers.”
Steve focused in on the pretty, small lady who was looking earnestly up at him and said, “Yes, yes, Jason, you mean. Ah, he's gone upstairs for a moment, to the bathroom I believe.”
“Ah,” said the petite brunette with a relieved smile, “Thank you. I'm Mrs Durloch, Cynthia.” She held out her hand and Steve took it. He hesitated for a moment, then took a deep breath, turned her hand, bowed over it and breathed a kiss upon it. “I'm very pleased to meet you, Cynthia,” he said. “I'm Steve, Steve Willis.”
Cynthia was smiling and so was Steve who had delivered his first real hand kiss greeting ever and had felt the power of it perfectly. “You are from the pub, aren't you,” Cynthia said, “I've seen you there ...”
Steve held out his arm to her and said, “As a professional, let me find something for you to drink.” Cynthia Durloch giggled, took his arm and said, “If you would ...”
The doorbell rang.
Kevin was about to give James Paris his cognac, which he had put into a water glass that he had filled pretty much to the brim. He placed the glass down on the kitchen counter, producing a considerable spill, smiled encouragingly at the old man and sprinted for the front door.
A man and a woman who McCarthy thought looked strangely like Hansel and Gretel were at the door; Kevin introduced himself and invited Samantha and Ronald inside, led them to the kitchen. Just then, two men came around the corner and started to descend the stairs.
Kevin and the Davidsons stopped and watched Lee Gibson with Jason Durloch in his wake; when they had all met in the hallway, Kevin introduced everyone and hands were shaken.
Upon entering the kitchen, Jason immediately spotted his mother, or rather, an alien impostor who had body snatched his poor old mama and was now clearly flirting with Steve Willis, who was flirting right back. Cynthia Durloch had one leg off the ground, rubbing her toes behind her calves and was shaking her hair out, laughing and smiling at the blonde young man.
Jason grinned and walked into the scene, putting his arm around his mother's waist and kissing her hair.
“Hello, mother,” he said meaningfully.
“Darling!” Cynthia cried and kissed him on the cheek, “There you are.”
Kevin had been fascinated by Lee Gibson the moment he had set eyes on the older man. He now took charge of Gibson and found some mineral water for him, which Kevin poured into a champagne flute.
Gibson took it from him with a smile and a bow, then he walked away, out of the kitchen. Jason saw this and hurriedly said, “Steve, can you look after my mum for a bit, I've got to go do something.”
Steve nodded and Jason followed Gibson out into the conservatory, where Gibson was opening the door to step out into the garden.
It was dark outside, Bennette had not switched the fountain lights on, and Jason was becoming afraid that the man he was supposed to look after was trying to leave.
Gibson had placed his champagne flute onto the edge of the fountain and was taking a packet of cigarettes from his jacket. Jason sighed in relief, which caused Gibson to turn around. He had the unlit cigarette in the corner of his mouth and turning around as he did, looked like a head shot from an old film noir.
Jason smiled a little uncertainly.
Gibson turned away, lit the cigarette and blew out a long trail of smoke straight up into the misty night air. “It's OK,” he said without turning around. “I won't leave. You can go back inside.”
Jason felt something from the man. He tried to identify what it was but could not; it was something painful, something lonely, something very old. Jason stepped closer and swallowed hard, then put his hand on Gibson's shoulder. The man tensed up but didn't pull away, and a short time later, dropped his head. This caused a thin red line to become visible to Jason, just above the brilliant white collar of Gibson's shirt.
Jason let go of the man's shoulder and walked past him, sat down on one of the marble benches. The cold crept through his thin leather pants and made him shiver. He said, “Look, I know you don't know me, or even Bennette very well, but he told me once that ... it can be very lonely and confusing if you're not like the other people in the village.”
Gibson took a deep drag from his cigarette and blew out the smoke through flared nostrils. “Do I appear lonely and confused to you?” he asked the younger man who could easily have been his son.
Jason shrugged. “You're some thing,” he said honestly. “I can feel it. I don't know what it is, but whatever it is ...” He had to let the sentence trail away because he didn't know what else to say. He was aware of his own youth and inexperience, a novel sensation for Jason Durloch, but a one that had his own charms.
“But whatever it is, Mr Bennette can fix it.” Gibson said it in the tone of a voice over for an advertisement. Jason was unsure whether Gibson meant to be sarcastic; again, this was a novel sensation. This man was very interesting, Jason decided. Another interesting person. There had been none for 17 years and here there were two in a month. Like buses, Jason thought, they all come at once.
“I think whatever it is, Bennette can ... help you think differently about it. About yourself. About everything.”
Gibson sighed. “He helped you think differently?”
“Yes,” said Jason.
Gibson left the fountain and sat next to Jason on the marble seat. “I know he told you to take care of me,” he said calmly. “I will let you take care of me.”
“Thank you,” said Jason uncertainly. They sat silently until Gibson dropped his cigarette end, ground it under the heel of his shoe and said, “Let's go back inside.”
Jason nodded gratefully and got up. His buttocks had lost their feeling altogether and he grimaced. Gibson turned around but said nothing, and let Jason lead him back inside.

 

Bennette was in his own room on the second floor, checking his appearance in a large mirror. The room was small, spartan. It had a single bed with white linen sheets and pillow cases which was made up to military precision. It had a wardrobe which contained Bennette's suits, and an old fashioned writing desk where Bennette's silver laptop sat closed.
There was no carpet on the floor, no pictures on the wall.
Bennette ran his hand over his hair and took a deep breath.
It was time.
The decision would have to be made.
He pulled each one of his cuffs straight, straightened his jacket and walked downstairs.
The first two people he encountered were Jason and Lee, leaning side by side against the wall near the entrance to the first room.
They stood to attention as they saw Bennette on the stairs.
He stopped on the third step from the ground, looked over the bannister at them and said, “Have everyone assemble in the first room. Tell them to leave their drinks behind.”
Jason and Lee nodded and went to their task.
Bennette remained standing on the stairs, looking down at the people who filed into the first room, watching them taking their seats. He did not smile but gave a short nod to everyone who passed by. The second to last person was Paris, the last Kevin who was shepherding the old man still.
Bennette held up his hand and made the tiniest of movements with his jaw, indicating that Paris should stay; to Kevin he nodded so the young man reluctantly walked past and into the first room.
Bennette came down the stairs and faced Paris.
Softly, he said, “I'm sorry about your raid tomorrow morning. I'm afraid I won't be here any longer to be taken into custody.”
Paris said, “What makes you think I didn't change the arrangements when I got your text message?”
Bennette smiled. “I think you wanted one more shot at trying to make me make you immortal.”
Paris gave a curt nod. “Indeed,” he said.
“I can assure you that your research is faulty,” said Bennette. “It would not have worked. You don't have the maths yet to construct a cage for me or my kind.”
“Shame,” said Paris. “But one day, we will.”
Bennette laughed a little. “When you do, you'll be like us. And do what we do, rather than what you're still doing.”
“And what would that be, what you are doing?” asked Paris. “Fuck our women? Plant your seed?”
“Oh for heaven's sake!” Bennette shook his head and laughed. “Don't be such an ape. That's just a bonus. One that I particularly enjoy, it is true. And as to seed planting, you know full well that my DNA is not compatible.”
Paris said, “What are you going to do to me? I betrayed you.”
“I am going to be offering you alternatives. Like everyone else in that room. So join your fellows and we can get started.” Bennette indicated the entrance to the first room and Paris sighed and walked inside.

13

 

There were only two choices left to James Elvin Paris as far as seats were concerned. One was the big black square leather chair at the top of the circle in the 12 o'clock position. The other was the red leather straight backed chair from the office.
Paris took the red chair which put him at 7pm.
Bennette stood in the doorway and looked at the circle of faces that was turned towards him.
Starting on the right of the chair and going clockwise, there was Lynda, then Gloria, Samantha and Ronald on the leg of the black leather sofa that was running along the left hand side of the room; then Sally, Deirdre and Kevin at 6 o'clock, directly opposite Bennette, on the bottom sweep of the L shaped sofa. Next to Kevin was Paris on the red chair, then Cynthia, Steve and Heather on the black furry plinth, then Lee and Jason on the therapist's couch.
13 people. Each one so very precious in their own right.
Bennette sighed. As wonderful as ascension was, and as perfect as it was, he still wished he could take them all, every time. It still broke his heart, every time, to have to leave the others behind. When the day comes and I don't care any more, I'm going to give this up and move on, thought Bennette.
He walked through the silent room which was still gently lit in the same way as it had been before and went to take his place in the master chair.
Bennette stood before it, unbuttoned his jacket and sat down.
He leaned forward, put his elbows on his knees and put his fingertips together. Into the breathless room, he said, “I would like to thank you all for coming here tonight, but much more so, thank you for being a part of what is a very special occasion.
“Tonight, one of you will ascend.
“That means they will stop being what you consider to be human, and start on the road to become like me instead.
“I hoped that I would have more time with every one of you individually, and with all of you together, but thanks to an interesting twist in fate, this is not possible on this occasion.
“Mr Paris over there, James, is what you might call a spy. He has informed the authorities of my presence here, and they will arrive tomorrow morning, first thing, to arrest me.”
A gasp went around the room and there were isolated cries of “No!” and “Oh no!”
Bennette held up his hand.
“In this game,” he said sincerely, “You always play the cards you are dealt. It's a very complex tapestry that involves many timelines, many souls; and I can assure you all if there wasn't a reason for James to be a part of this, he simply could not have been.
“So please do not blame him for this. He did what he had to do; that's what everyone does, no matter who they are or where they come from, because it is all we can do.”
Gibson held up his hand and asked, “Do we ascend physically or is there a material transformation involved?”
“Good question,” said Bennette and nodded. “It is not a physical ascension. The body will be left behind.”
“That means whoever is chosen, will die?” Paris enquired.
“Yes,” said Bennette. “That is correct.”
There was a definite movement in the room as people changed their positions, sat up straighter; some put their hands to their heads, others to their chests. Heather and Steve clasped hands, as did Gloria and Lynda, and Ronald and Samantha.
Bennette said, “This place, this town, is a nexus. It has drawn you here, each one individually and in their own way. Then I came, and that called those forth who are to play a part in this. I can take only one of you with me.” He stopped and took a deep, shuddering breath, dropped his head for a moment and when he looked up again, he had tears in his eyes.
Bennette's voice was not steady when he continued, “I love you all and it is ... very hard ... to leave ... any ... one ... behind.
“But that's how it is, how it works. Normally, things would be further along ...” He sighed deeply and sat up straighter. “We would all know who it was, normally. But nothing is the same, so I should not even be saying that.
“Here is what we need to do. We need to decide between us who it is amongst you that will go with me.”
Voices hushed and whispered in response. “But how do we decide?” - “Oh God no ...” - “Please let it be me, don't leave me here ...”
Bennette said, “Let's do this by a process of elimination. Who does not want to come with me?”
Steve Willis raised his hand, followed by Ronald Davidson, Gloria Stanford, Sally Swindon, James Paris and Cynthia Durloch.
“Who is unsure?” Bennette asked gently.
Heather McGregor raised her hand but looked ashamed to be doing so. Bennette said, “It's really important to be honest, so thank you Heather, and well done.”
At this, Lynda Vanderhalen raised her hand as well. She was clearly trembling. Ronald Davidson turned to his wife, but Samantha sat very still, keeping her hands in her lap.
“Sam,” Ronald said pleadingly, “Samantha. Please don't ...” He put his hand before his face and started to cry. She looked at her husband, then turned her head to face Bennette instead. “Is it alright to choose to stay for ... “
“.... someone you love?” Bennette finished the sentence for her. “Yes, of course my dear. Of course it is. You have to follow your heart, always. That is the only truth.”
Samantha bowed her head and said calmly, “In that case, I change my vote. I will stay.”
Bennette nodded, the people in the circle exhaled as one and moved again, and Ronald Davidson put his head in his wife's lap and sobbed uncontrollably. She stroked his hair.
“Alright,” said Bennette.
“Now, really think about it. You will be leaving this life behind. Any unfinished business will remain unfinished. Any loved ones will never see you again, although they may dream of you. You will never know what this life might have had to offer.
“It is a serious decision.
“Go inside and trust your heart.
“If you still feel you want to go, stand up.”
Jason Durloch exploded out of his seat and his mother gave a cry, pushed her fist into her mouth. Steve Willis put his arm around her shoulder and drew her close.
Lee Gibson stood up calmly and so did Deirdre Cannon.
Kevin McCarthy wrestled with himself but eventually, he too stood up, but his head was bowed low.
Heather put her hand on Steve's shoulder and used him to push herself up to the standing position. She was pale and unsteady on her feet.
“And then there were five,” said Mr Bennette.

 

 

 

Splendid
are the worlds
where giant wings
will storm you -

To create,
you must destroy.