Friends

23 October 2012

A SUMMER CHILL, CHAPTER 10

Considering the quantity of alcohol she'd consumed the night before Audrey's head was remarkably clear, although her perception of the evening was boxed up in an obscure corner of her mind. She stood at the sink trying to recollect what subjects she and Gladys had covered. She knew that pre-alcohol they discussed the calls and she thought a bus was mentioned, but she couldn't recall anything else.
           
Donning rubber gloves, she pressed on with the washing up. Cups and plates and too many glasses. Was she drinking too much? For about a week now she seemed to be in possession of a corkscrew or the gadget for unscrewing bottles. 'Dear God, don't let me drink more than I should,' she said, aiming the short prayer at the ceiling.
           
She tilted the bowl to let the water run down the drain, rinsed the pots under a running tap and stacked them neatly in the rack. She seldom dried crocks with a towel. It was a custom she picked up from her mother, who believed the only thing achieved by using towels was the transference of germs from cup to mouth.
           
When the kitchen was tidy enough for a troop inspection, she went in the lounge to draw back the curtains. She frowned at the scattered apparel, puzzling over the extraordinary state of the room. As she collected the discarded clothing, she shamefully begged to be blessed with the knowledge that she'd strewn them after Gladys departed and not before. 'Dear God,' she wailed to the ceiling, 'are you sure I'm not drinking to excess?'
           
She stacked the floor cushions between the television and the fireplace and assigned yesterday's edition of the Mail to the brass log box on the hearth. Crossing the room to close the drinks cupboard, her jaw fell when she saw the empty sherry bottle. Who was it who’d drunk the most, her or Gladys?
           
Just then the telephone rang.  Somewhat jubilantly she went to answer it. Now that she'd lived through a call-free evening the incessant jingling didn’t worry her. Certain it would be Gladys she was ready to accuse her of swigging all the sherry, Audrey lifted the receiver.
           
'Hello, Mum.'
           
'Matthew! Oh, Matthew.'
           
Though pleased to hear his voice, instantaneous reproaches came to mind: how long it had been since he rang, how thoughtless he was not to get in touch more often, how inconsiderate he was not to worry about things at home. Mean reprimands, selfishly administered to achieve a hundred-percent proof of his love, so unnecessary and so unlike her. She had never been possessive with Matthew, so why the sudden irrational onslaught? Was her brain turning? Was she becoming unreasonable? Had He so changed her?
           
Matthew delivered a deep-throated laugh. 'It's not that long since I gave you a bell,' he said as if he had been accused.
           
Aware that he didn't care for sloppy responses (being uncomplicated and practical) Audrey went straight on to ask, 'Why aren't you at school?'
           
'I've redesigned my career, transferred to a school with superior prospects. Younger children, easier to control. And exceptional remuneration. It was that as much as anything that swayed the decision to change. It was a lucky break. A pal of mine recommended me, otherwise I don't think I'd have stood a chance.'
           
Not for the first time, Audrey wished her parents could have witnessed their grandson's success.
           
'How are things?'
           
'Fine!' she said, and moved swiftly on. 'When are you coming to visit your poor old mother?' Directly she regretted the question, particularly the implication that she was old and poor, but more especially the niggling suggestion of wanting maternal control. Her heart dipped during the subsequent three second silence, and soared when Matthew confirmed his intention to organise time off.
           
'I'll give you notice,' he promised. 'I won't land on the doorstep unannounced.'
           
Without doubt, she would be delighted if he did.
           
In the wake of Matthew's call, Audrey felt so rejuvenated she literally skipped into the kitchen, her recent traumas forgotten. Unhooking her overall from the peg in the pantry, she vetted it to ensure it was fit to wear, uncharacteristically disregarding a negligible brown stain below the bottom button. Throwing it over her arm she sailed to the front door. She was appalled to find it unlocked. 'You stupid fool,' she scolded. 'That's what comes of tippling.' Determining to be more careful in future, she firmly secured the double lock and hurried off to work.

*******

A puffed up paper bag bowled along the gutter. Smelling rain in the air, Audrey scanned the livid clouds, hoping that if a storm materialised it would be short lived. A downpour in the ensuing forty-eight hours would turn the field behind the church into a quagmire and the fete would be ruined.
           
Regardless of impending inclement weather the shopping centre bustled in a frenzy of preparation. Workmen on ladders fastened banners to trees and street lamps. Council gardeners decorated the frontages with flowers and rosettes. Tom Setton, bent double in his shop window, anchored a silver-painted board in a mass of purple silk. Onto this he attached a life-size head and shoulders photograph of Clarissa Dingle-Jones. Tom did a thumbs-up to Maureen who watched from the pavement, viewing the display from every angle.
           
'It's attractive,' said Audrey, drawing parallel.
           
'Mm.' Maureen examined the picture. 'Purple is not Clarissa's favourite colour. Apart from that, I rather approve of Tom's effort.'
           
'It's a great picture. It captures all her best features.'
           
Maureen tore the end off a pack of mints and offered it to Audrey. Taking one herself, she analysed Clarissa's face. 'I must admit, she is striking,' she said, pocketing the sweets. 'By the way, bless you for introducing Patrick Finnigan. He's a great asset. By far the best employee I've had.'
           
Audrey smiled. All she did was point Eileen in the right direction. However, it was nice to know Maureen was satisfied and even better to know that she herself had misjudged Paddy. Taking a last glimpse at her daughter's lovely countenance, Maureen declared she was late for an appointment and left.
           
Leaning lightly against Setton's window frame, Audrey took in the gala-like atmosphere, riveted by the essential hurly-burly that preceded the village fete, and all for one day. In the doorway Kim Pearce was discussing the fete with a friend, the pair of them planning what to wear.

The event was as popular now as it ever was, attracting people from miles around, everyone taking the opportunity to dress in fine clothes. Her mother used to sew for weeks making garments for the big day. Audrey had marvelled at that since her own aptitude with the needle was limited to replacing buttons.

Teenagers enjoyed the festivities. Free for the day from the shackles of home, young males demonstrated their skill at charming girls and demure misses set about catching boys of their own choosing, while the adults, remembering their own youthful chases, watched the antics with amusement.
           
There was such a generated furore around that Audrey warmed to the idea of dressing up for the occasion. Going unescorted made it more important to look her best. As she continued her journey to the store, she planned a visit to Redhampton when she finished the morning slog. She would buy a new dress, maybe two. After all, Matthew's homecoming was another reason to look presentable.

*******

The bus entered its lane at the Redhampton terminus and the instant the doors opened Audrey skipped off then turned to help an elderly gentleman to dismount. He descended the two steps slowly, cursing the rubber-tipped walking stick, which hampered his grip on the rail, and his inability to walk unaided. He hung onto her as he thanked her for her kindness, then doffed his cap and shambled away.
           
'Hello, lady.' The bass voice came from behind.
           
She whirled round and saw Alan Benjamin's black face beaming from the driver's cab, his gleaming white teeth framed by generous pink lips.
           
'What're you doing there?'
           
'Would you believe driving a bus?'
           
'But, I…'
           
'Just done a change-over with Stan.' He indicated the other driver walking towards the ticket office.
           
'For a minute I thought I was going daft,' she said. 'I mean, I couldn't have paid the fare and not realised who I was paying it to.'
           
'At our garage the objectives are to confuse the public.'
           
'Haven't seen you in ages,' Audrey remarked. 'I reckon Carol keeps you locked up.'
           
Alan chortled. 'Come round and take a look at the chains.' Drawing back in the cab, he revved the engine and the bus started to roll. 'Don't forget,' he shouted. 'Next day off. Right?'
           
'Right!' For obvious reasons Audrey and Carol could not take the same days off. Still, it was fun to jest.

*******

Millards was the store which, so the advertisements asserted, stocked garments for women wanting elegance and quality, a store whose furnishings and luxurious carpet and soft classical music made shopping comfortable. Audrey bought clothes there whenever she could, ordinarily patronising the store at sale time. Today was an exception.
           
She dumped her bag on an intricately carved high-backed couch and hunted the rails for a two-piece costume. She had a yen for blue and waded through a diversity of styles until she found four she liked. Signalling her intention to the sales assistant she went eagerly to the changing room to try them on. Lamentably they varied between too big, too tight, and too revealing. The disappointment swamped her earlier happiness, bringing a fear that if she couldn't buy anything in this store then it was unlikely she would find anything suitable anywhere else, so it was with some trepidation that she handed over the garments and proceeded to the exit.
           
Then she saw it, in an alcove, on a faceless dummy, the perfect ensemble in the richest shade of blue. She had almost missed it. Giving a squeal, she retraced her steps and buttonholed another assistant. 'Have you got that in my size?'
           
The young attendant scurried away.
           
Five minutes later Audrey stepped out of her pleated skirt and into one which extended to the ankles, her bare legs sliding into folds of silk chiffon. Already enamoured with the two-piece, she slipped the top over her head and smoothed it over her waist. It was embroidered with blue roses and fitted as if assembled specially for her. She giggled at the transformation, wiggled her hips like a model on a catwalk. That'd be the day, she thought, as she carefully removed the blue creation and climbed into her own workday number.
           
At the desk, while one assistant wrapped the outfit, another took care of the credit card transaction, the only means she had to pay. It was a ludicrous price and she didn't care. It wasn't as though she was routinely imprudent, but she was entitled to a smattering of extravagance now and again.

*******

Casa Sergios was a restaurant Audrey frequented on the sporadic occasions she was in town. More from habit than hunger she went in and made her way to the table she favoured by the multi-framed window, facing the street. She lodged the Millards carrier against the wall, out of the way of passing customers, and gave the waiter her order for Colombian coffee and chicken liver salad. Blue must be the in-colour, she mused, surveying the redesigned decor, the new curtains and drapes tied with ribbon. Even the bistro-style cutlery handles and silk flowers were ultramarine, though the linen was predominantly cream.
           
While she waited, she studied the lunchtime shoppers swarming by the window, crushed together like sardines on the narrow pavement, some having to wait to get past a solitary red Escort, with its hood folded back, carelessly parked on a yellow line in a road rife with traffic wardens. A car similar to Brian's. If it was his, then he deserved a ticket, but she knew she was mistaken for she had seen him outside the station talking to Sergeant Beresford prior to her taking the bus.
           
When her salad arrived, she planned the next move now that she'd spent a small fortune on a single outfit. Could she afford shoes? Did she need them? The new get-up deserved better than to be accompanied by tatty sandals, but she dare not be frivolous twice in one day. There were, of course, those blue suede pumps still wrapped in tissue, worn once at a wedding. They might match. In fact, the longer she thought about it, the more she thought they would. She had a good eye for colour and, as Gladys often said, she could carry colour in her mind. She ate quickly, determined now to get home and try the pumps.
           
In her growing excitement and her anxiety to get the next Fieldmoor bus, she did not notice the shadow fall across the table.
           
'Can we join you?'
           
Fred Smith smiled at her. Carrie looked as if she'd rather be elsewhere.
           
Shaping a polite smile, Audrey said, 'Of course.'
           
Carrie looked lost without Diane, lately her constant companion and ally. Audrey wondered if that was why she looked so dour, though it was much more likely to be an irritation with Fred.
           
Carrie flopped on the seat like a woman who had trekked the Himalayas. 'I'm fagged,' she said as she unbuttoned her jacket. Wrinkling her nose, she went on to ask, 'What's that smell?'
           
'It's garlic, I imagine,' replied Fred, sniffing the atmosphere.
           
Carrie pored over the menu. 'I can't read this foreign rubbish. I could be ordering pig swill and dumplings.'
           
Patiently, Fred leaned across and turned the pages to those marked with a Union Jack, but he needn't have bothered for the moment Carrie spotted the English text she remembered her dislike of foreign food. He recommended they share a pizza. Not seeing anything else she could eat without, as she put it, being violently sick, Carrie agreed. Fred placed the order and the waiter withdrew in a huff, plainly condemning the idea of one of their masterpieces being treated as a communal dish.
           
Thinking it impolite to leave the table so soon after they'd arrived, Audrey sat on, privately bemoaning the possibility of missing the bus and having to wait an hour for another. So, while Carrie indulged in her personal pique, Audrey watched Fred prop an ungainly parcel on the vacant seat, noting the small hands and stubby nail-bitten fingers, his bloodshot eyeballs, and hair slick with grease, neither dowdy nor smart in a grey suit and maroon tie. She experienced a flicker of disquiet as she remembered Brian’s account of the crude way Fred talked about women when he was in the pub.
           
Retaining the bad-smell-under-the-nose expression, Carrie refrained from speaking while the waiter deposited their food, but, the second he departed, she groused, 'I don't like Italian food.'
           
Fred retorted that she knew as well as him that everywhere else was full. Sliding his hand towards Audrey so that his index finger touched the strap of her watch, he began eagerly to talk about his son. They had come to town to buy a tennis racquet for Steven's birthday, a game which occupied most of his time since he’d watched the Wimbledon tournament on the telly. 'He does really well at school,' Fred boasted. 'For three years he's been highest in the class.'
           
'You must be very proud,' Audrey remarked to Carrie, trying to ignore the slight pressure of Fred's finger.
           
Carrie deigned to smile, though it was as dreary as her navy suit.
           
Removing her hand and pretending to search for a tissue, and annoyed by Carrie's strange attitude, Audrey addressed herself to Fred. 'My Matty would not study. He refused to apply himself to lessons no matter how often we praised or chastised him.'
           
'We?' Carrie uttered the word under her breath.
           
Audrey glowered. Conscious of their whereabouts, she bit her tongue. Running a finger inside the cup handle, she wilfully gloated, 'Yet look at the marvellous post he procured, teaching English in a foreign land. We needn't have spent all those years worrying.'
           
Fred pointed his fork at the window. 'Look, there's Brian.'
           
Both Carrie and Audrey peered out.
           
Brian was lolling against the car which had fleetingly muddled Audrey's memory. He was studying papers on a clipboard. Audrey started to panic, knowing that any minute he might see them. He might wave and come in and suggest he join them for coffee and... She pushed her chair back. If they had to meet it would be more fitting away from Carrie's curious eyes. 'I must go,' she mumbled, grabbing her bags.
           
Carrie granted her a discerning smile and warbled a honeyed, 'Bye!'

*******

Inasmuch as it would be churlish to decline, Audrey accepted Brian's proposition to run her home. She arranged herself in the passenger seat, adjusting her skirt to cover her knees. As she connected the inertia seat-belt she saw Carrie in the restaurant window, grinning and looking positively triumphant, no doubt considering she'd come across a juicy titbit which she could and would pass on.
           
The aromas in the car were familiar: leather seats, stale cigars in the ashtray, and Brian's maleness. She crossed her legs and counted the years that had elapsed since she last scrutinised his irregular profile as he focused on the road … the hairline that curved seductively around the ear, the ear she used to nibble, and the nest of freckles on his neck she used to kiss. Pulling herself together, she turned to gaze dead ahead.
           
'How are you?' she asked.

'Middling. And you?'
           
'Okay.' Risking a lateral peep, she saw an impish smile loitering on his mouth.
           
'Never seen anyone so handsome, eh?'
           
She blushed and edged nearer to the door.
           
'Red becomes you,' Brian said, gauging the traffic prior to executing a right turn. The manoeuvre completed he returned his concentration to Audrey. Assuming her reaction to his sarcastic comment was one of resentment, his voice was challenging when he spoke. 'For heaven's sake, Audrey, can't we travel in the same vehicle and talk like mature people?'
           
Audrey laid claim to her courage. 'I'm sorry. I can't bear you being so near. I mean ... Oh hell!' She took a deep breath. 'You're too close. You disturb me when you're too close.'
           
Without warning, Brian veered to a stop at the side of the road, yanked on the brake. He reached out and cupped her chin, turning her head towards him. 'Am I too close now?'
           
Audrey sought to ignore the jolting thrill. 'Don't, Brian,' she said, avoiding his eyes. His touch had excited her. From experience she knew how easily it led to a fever in the loins.
           
'I miss you, Aud.' Brian's voice was husky.
           
She knocked his hand away. 'Didn't you hear me? I said, don't.'
           
Abruptly Brian switched on the ignition, shot the gear lever into first, pitching Audrey forward so sharply she slammed her hand on the dash to save herself. She supposed it served her right for being stupid enough to get in the car in the first place.
           
Brian parked at the end of her road with the motor running. Audrey scrambled out towing the Millards bag behind her. On the pavement, feeling she ought to leave on a friendly note, she turned to speak, but Brian drove off without a glance.

*******

The Ford screeched to a halt and Brian bounded out. He vaulted the gate, raced up the path and angrily twisted the key in the lock. Bursting in the house he went immediately to fetch the Jack Daniels. The first shot was chased by a second. Hugging the square bottle to his chest, he sank in an armchair to savour the warming liquor. He craved the blind bliss of intoxication as never before, deeming himself all classes of fool for unveiling his emotion the way he did and for collapsing in a sentimental mound because he was rebuffed. Again! He splashed extra whisky in the glass. At that moment someone pressed the bell. 'Get lost, whoever you are,' but further persistent rings persuaded him to investigate.
           
He threw open the door. 'Where's your key?' he snapped when he saw Gladys fidgeting with her purse.
           
Gladys coolly reminded him that she only used it when she came to clean. 'I wouldn't be here now if I hadn't got something important to tell you.'
           
Brian shuffled into the living room with Gladys on his tail. 'Your car'll get soaked if you don't see to the hood. Sure as I live next door, it's going to rain.'
           
'Never mind that. What do you want?'
           
'I came to tell you about Audrey.'
           
Brian's gut reeled and his eyes darted to the bottle on the broad armrest of his chair. Oblivion appealed rather more than a chat about the illustrious Audrey.
           
'She doesn't want the police involved, but my conscience won't allow me to rest. Anyway it's not fair to let her suffer alone.'
           
Rubbing his brow, Brian endeavoured to interpret what she was talking about.
           
Gladys squatted on the chair facing his and eyed the Jack Daniels. Expecting a lecture on the ethics of solo drinking, Brian shifted the bottle to an adjacent table and prepared to lay down the law about interference. When a dispute about moral codes did not materialise, he relaxed and listened to Gladys explaining the reason for her visit, communicating everything she could recall about what she referred to as mucky calls.

As he absorbed her words, he lost sight of the muddled afternoon; undergoing feelings of anger, anxiety, and loathing, until eventually he paced the carpet and acknowledged the murderous designs bubbling inside.

*******

'So when's he due?' enquired Bess, when Audrey concluded her recital about Matthew's call.
           
Audrey said she had called him half an hour ago to ask the same question. 'I expect I was pressurising him but I was so impatient to see him I didn't think. I gathered from his landlady that he wasn't in. For some reason she kept saying Morgan. I tried telling her it was afternoon not morning, but she didn't understand. I have to admit my German is as defective as her English.'
           
Vera yawned. 'I bet you're dying to see him.'
           
'Are you okay?' Audrey said, noting her heavy eyes and pale complexion.
           
Vera nodded and yawned once more.
           
'She's had words with her folks,' intoned Bess, and cringed beneath Vera's deadly gaze.
           
Deciding that diversion was more expedient than a rebuke, Audrey grabbed a tin of meat and a jar of mustard. 'Who's for corned beef sarnies?'
           
'Me!' shrieked Bess.
           
Vera raised a limp hand.
           
'Then come and help. Bess, you butter. Vera, get the plates.'
           
As Vera unfolded her body from the chair and drifted to the dresser, Bess excavated the butter from the pot and complained that it was too hard. 'You should've got it out sooner,' she said to Audrey.
           
Vera groaned. 'Don't you start. Mum had a go at me for the identical thing this morning. She treats me like a perishing servant.' She dropped the plates on the table. 'I think she's hurt her leg. She was limping at breakfast. It didn't stop them arguing all night, though. I couldn't sleep for the row.'
           
'Why were they rowing?'
           
'That's enough, Bess,' scolded Audrey. 'You're very rude.'
           
Deaf to the admonition, Vera continued, 'Dad wanted sex. She didn't.'
           
Patently shocked by the disclosure, Bess gaped. 'That's not right,' she cried. 'He's entitled to have sex when he feels like it. It's not up to your Mum to decide.'
           
Audrey's mustard scoop fell onto the white cloth. Instead of clearing the mess, she trotted out to the garden and devoured the fresh air. How on earth should she deal with the misguided child.
           
In the event, Vera supplied the answer. Audrey heard her say, 'God, you're behind the times. Haven't you heard about women's lib? Women don't do it nowadays if they don't want to.'
           
Audrey was uneasy about Vera's enlightenment on modern attitudes, though immensely grateful to be relieved of the necessity to educate Bess. Shaking her bewildered head, she went indoors to find Vera at the sink, wringing water from a dishcloth and animatedly promising to teach Bess a thing or two about life, then she went to the table and began swabbing the mustard splodge. 'Let's go to the river tonight,' she said, 'and I'll tell you about it.'

*******

That evening Brian confided in Chris Beresford. Several times he sat at his desk, then rose again, until Chris planted his Biro on the blotter and professed he was making him edgy. Throughout Brian's narrative, Chris fixed a stare on his black travel alarm clock. He twiddled his ear lobe with one hand and drummed the fingernails of the other on the desk.
           
'What can I do?' Brian asked.
           
'Just keep your ears pinned.' Chris ambled to the filter machine and sorted a clean mug from the assortment on the tray. 'Want one?'
           
Brian declined. He had no taste for coffee after his session with the whisky.
           
Chris suspended his pouring and, jug in hand, faced Brian. 'Helen received a batch of seedy calls, you know. A couple of years ago, it was. In the end she kept a personal alarm by the phone.' He set the jug on the hotplate and sniggered. 'She pierced the bugger's eardrum, all right. He got the message louder than he expected.'
           
Helen Beresford was a very capable individual, with an answer to everything, who permitted nothing and nobody to oppress her. Not even Chris.
           
'Did she unearth the culprit?'
           
'Nah. She wasn't bothered, so long as he didn't pester her.'
           
Deciding to heed advice and put his ears on alert, Brian left Chris to his reports and cleared out of the station.

The Broadway was the obvious venue to catch gossip and detect who was doing what. Apart from that, where else could Brian assuage his eagerness for a drink now that his own stock was depleted?

*******
           
Ron Pearce was at the pub’s entrance. They went in together. Brian saluted the gang and headed for the bar. He treated Ron to a pint of mild and ordered bourbon for himself.
           
Ron hoisted himself onto the stool in the middle of Brian and Sam Wilding. 'I haven't been home yet,' he said.
           
Sam rested his elbow on the bar. 'You're busy then?'
           
'I've been making phone calls all bloody day. My throat's parched with it. Get a spurt on, Pete.'
           
Brian regarded Ron with fresh eyes: a sexy and disgustingly well-proportioned counter clerk, twice married with two mutinous kids. At once he scrubbed him from the enquiry. No way could he be suspect, not when he had a sensual wife like Diane to keep him happy.
           
On the other side of Sam, Len Bonser was talking about the fete, conceding that as local doctor he was obliged to attend the field day but saying he preferred quieter functions, specifying the Bridge Club's annual dinner and Sunday tea in the cricket pavilion. 'I shall pray for a cooler day and a happy liaison with the first-aid team. What about you, Sam? Will you be there?'
           
'I told Michael I'd install the trestles and generally keep an eye on things.'
           
Michael! The unctuous, rejected vicar. Currently number one on Brian's list. A man he had no trouble attributing with a flair for impure thoughts.
           
Ron gave Sam a playful punch. 'Don't very often see you here at this time. Are you tailing Gladys again?'
           
'Wouldn't you like to know,' parried Sam, thumping him in retaliation.
           
'Make mine a pint, Pete,' said Paddy, coming to a standstill behind Ron.
           
Ron swivelled to face him. 'How's the job, Patrick? Going well, is it?'
           
A wide smile lit Paddy's features. 'It's great. I've never been so well off.' He raised his glass and drank steadily.
           
Ron ventured to ask if he had seen Clarissa.
           
Paddy licked froth from his mouth. 'Blimey, yes. She was in yesterday. Decked in white. What a picture! I told our Babs about her. She didn't seem interested. Me, I was too bloody interested.'
           
Peter Fleming laughingly bid him to quit dribbling.
           
Paddy threatened Peter with his fist and promptly switched to the subject of the Vicar's duty schedule. 'He's put me down for the hoopla again.'
           
'Last year was a hoot,' said Ron.
           
'Might have been for you. I was stuck with the bloody hoopla.'
           
Ron persevered with his tale. 'Brian and I did a stint on the welly tossing stall. I didn't realise there were so many contortionists in the village. Some chaps doubled up like bloody Houdini. It was a real lark. And we made more money than anybody else. That true, Bri?'
           
Brian grunted. He had too much on his mind to join in the puerile discussion. Besides, following another bourbon, he felt decidedly drowsy.
           
Ron pulled a face and turned away.
           
The men continued to chat, making boorish observations about the glamorous Clarissa and women in general. Brian found it offensive. Furthermore, he deplored the smutty submissions he had so entertainingly contributed over the years.
           
Blocking the risible laughter, he immersed himself in Audrey's plight. Dare he visit? Even as he asked the question he recognised the absurdity of it. In view of the disastrous episode in the car, he didn't think she would greet him with enthusiasm. She was liable to snub him totally. Moreover, according to Gladys, she didn't want him informed and, despite the fact that he wasn't named, Police meant him.
           
The more thought he gave to the debased creature who was victimising her, the angrier he became. His fury roared inside like a caged lion. He started for the door, aiming to hotfoot it to Arbor Road, but stopped as soon as he got outside. What was the point of banging on Audrey's door at this time of night. Not only would she be annoyed, she'd be scared.
           
Still pondering the problem of confronting her, he walked home, squeezing his shoulder-blades to unfetter the strings of tension. Tiredness prevented him forming a sensible resolution. Under the circumstances, perhaps it would be better to leave it until tomorrow.

*******

At ten-thirty, Audrey slumped on the sofa, relief overtaking the encroaching suspense. Her neck stopped twitching and the throbbing in her temples subsided. She enjoyed a sense of complacency as if she had achieved a major ambition. Coming out on top, so to speak. However, her euphoria plummeted when He called at ten thirty-five.
           
She heeded the rings until her nerves were skinned, then seized the receiver and yelled, 'Go away.'
           
His maniacal laugh clamoured down the wires. 'I'm staying right here, bitch.'
           
Tiny hairs quivered on her neck. 'What do you want?'
           
'I want to suck your big breasts.'
           
Thrilling vibrations stirred along her spine, nervous flutterings hurtled in her stomach. A sob caught in her throat as she held the phone away from her ear.
           
'Don't hang up!' he bellowed as if wise to the movement.
           
She took it as a directive to return the receiver to its legitimate position on her ear.
           
'Now,' he said, protracting the word. 'Turn 'em loose.'
           
His provocative tone continued to lure her to a bedrock of aching groins. She sobbed as she promised to give him her full attention, to execute his wishes at all times. At length, he let her go, a final instruction firmly imprinted on her brain.

*******

Naked, she launched herself on the bed. Flushed with desire, she pinched and fondled and stroked with intensifying speed, sweating and writhing, until she screamed with the joy of orgasm.

(to be continued)

9 comments:

Lea said...

I must admit I was waiting for the ring at the end of the last chapter when she was drunk. And I was waiting, too, as I read this chapter. The engagement between Audrey and Him is becoming more intense, with the appearance of many characters now and then in the story.

Another amazing chapter, Valerie! There should definitely be A Summer Chill: The Movie :) You write so well.

Valerie said...

It gets worse, Lea. Are the different characters becoming familiar?

Thank you for your comment, a movie sounds good and probably if there was one it could be quite lively :O)

Brian Miller said...

dang....really nice tension....you give us a little hope in the beginning with the phone call from her son, and with Brian and then the descent into madness continues with the end of the chapter...wow...

Valerie said...

Brian, I like your expression 'descent into madness' and that's exactly what it was.

Ron said...

Valerie, you've got me so wonderfully confused. When I got to the part with Audrey and Brian in the car, I thought, "Hmmm...I wonder if HE'S the caller???" But then, changed my mind.

I like how you wrote this, by giving possibilities that it could be any number of people tormenting Audrey.

Love the "twist" at the end of this chapter!

Well done! Looking forward to Chapter 11!

X

Montanagirl said...

The tension just mounts with each paragraph. Guess Brian isn't the caller...hmmmm....very intriguing!

Valerie said...

Ron, the beauty of writing a story such as this is that I get the readers confused...smiles. Poor Brian (of Audrey fame) gets the blame for everything... lol.


HermanTurnip said...

"Dear God, don't let me drink more than I should"

Ah yes, I'm well acquainted with this prayer ;-)

But if I were a parent and my son wasn't too keen on visiting, I'd be heartbroken. But that's just me. Perhaps I just need a drink? ;-)

Valerie said...

Lol, Herman, don't you worry about Matthew... he can't wait to get home to his mom.