Sunday, 12 August 2012

SILHOUETTES - Fourth instalment

SILHOUETTES - Fourth instalment - Chapters eight and nine.
For more information on this novel, click Here. Next instalment coming next week.


The smell was gone for good, thought Simon, as he entered, sniffing vigorously, not a scent of anything but lemon and that was alright. He checked around the outside face of the two Yale locks for scratches before he closed the door. They were unmarked, he locked the door behind him and went through his entry routine, the hall thread, pinned from skirting to skirting was intact, and each interior door off the hall was ajar at the exact measurement they'd been left at – it had taken ages to get the doors to sit comfortably and stay at that exact ten centimetres, which was the length of his forefinger from tip to knuckle. When he was content no one had surreptitiously been in his home he began to relax and went to the kitchen to read the mail and continue the process of taking one of the dolls apart. The expected letter from the Department of Work and Pensions was there, he opened that and was dismayed to find that they did, indeed, want him to come in for a medical. It was an inconvenience, though he realised his employers had to keep up the pretence and he had to appear to be treated as everyone else. Cover was cover, and the reasons were plain to see.

The next two letters were from car insurance companies offering him discounts on his next policy if he cared to reply. One had a free-phone number to reply to, he binned that, the other had a reply-paid envelope and a short form to be filled out. This was for his report which he would write today. Reports had to be punctual, sent the same day as notification was received. He had to admire the intricacy of the subterfuge his employers would create to ensure the secrecy of a Government organisation. It could be a pain at times to keep up, but he realised it was all for his own, and the country's, benefit and protection. The last letter was from a firm of solicitors, something to do with a woman and child, and money owed. He binned all but the insurance reply envelope.

He carefully cut the clothes from the doll, it stood naked around twelve inches. The speaker was in the body of the doll, and he assumed the circuitry for the voice box was somewhere behind in the interior of the trunk. With a large pair of pliers he removed the arms and legs, they came apart easily enough to confirm his view on the shoddiness of modern manufacturing processes. With care, he removed the battery box cover, the screws recessed beneath held the front and back of the doll's body together. He selected the proper screwdriver from the plethora of tools lined neatly on the table and loosened the screws and pried the body apart. The electronics within were pretty basic, a small printed circuit board, some wiring from the battery box to the board, and some wiring from the board to the little speaker. It looked like he could give the other doll away as it would be unnecessary.


The lecturer droned on and on, sociological crap about seven types of lesbian in today's society. She was unsure if this meant that in some subconscious way she was attracted to other women, or should be, or was it allegorical in fashion? Jo, next to her in the auditorium, was quite attractive, beautiful in fact, but she didn't think she'd like to sleep with her, or any other woman, for that matter. Maybe there was something wrong with her, or her parents had brought her up with a fractured moral code. Fucksake, maybe she was just a normal healthy heterosexual girl. Despite him being an ignorant and drunken bastard, she preferred Ben, at least compared to women. He was hastily slipping down the league table of preferred guys though. Last night was a disaster, and the text he'd just sent was insult to injury. Every bit of commonsense she had told her to dump him, but there was something about him that kept her hanging on.

Finally Professor Bore-Everyone-to-Death, concluded. There was a half-hearted attempt at some applause from some acolytes of her study group, or perhaps the true-lesbian brigade, but Debbie left quickly and quietly. Jo was right behind her and grabbed her arm as she left the building.

'Coffee, strong, and chocolate cake!' she cried, 'lots of chocolate cake!'

Debbie offered no resistance as she was pulled in the direction of 'Candy's Cafe'.

'Seems we're lesbo,' continued Jo, 'let's celebrate shaking off the shackles of dominion by men and embrace our new found freedom!'

'Did you believe any of that?' asked Debbie.

'Oh sure, and I think that from Friday, the men in this town will be thankful I will forever more be leaving them alone to their own devices.'

'Hmm, what type of the seven are you then? Myself, I can't seem to think of myself in any of those terms.'

'The butchest type,' laughed Jo, 'and you're my new bitch!'

The cafe was quiet, a few builders were in from the site across the road, some students typing notes on laptops, and some suits going through some discreet and informal brain-storming session about increasing fire-extinguisher sales. Their preferred table next to the window was taken so they sat at a booth along the back. Debbie sensed them both being undressed by one of the builders staring over. He was pretty fit, and cute, and she noticed Jo smiling back at him.

'Don't encourage him,' said Debbie.

'Why not let him think he's in with a chance,' said Jo, 'besides, disappointing men seems to be my chief aim in life, I gave Bert the boot last night, if you'll forgive the alliteration!'

'But why?' asked Debbie, 'I thought Robert was the one?'

'He cried,' said Jo, 'sobbed like a baby. I felt really bad, but it's for the best, better for him, and me. Besides, he's too environmental, he even stated once that my tampons were ruining the planet! Said they should be recycled, can you imagine?'

Jo was fingering her hair as she spoke, and was occasionally glancing in the direction of the builders, Debbie noticed. The young one was watching them, or at least watching Jo, and Debbie was sure Jo had pulled her t-shirt tighter to enhance her nipples through the thin fabric, Jo rarely wore a bra and wasn't today so the effect was visible over a distance.

'I thought it was Robert's environmental stance that you admired about him, more than anything else?'

'I did, at least for a while, but hearing him drone on and on about the imminent demise of the planet got weary. He's constantly working out the carbon footprint of everything – apparently making a stick of lipstick requires a few hundred watt-hours-over-something, and kills babies in the third world. He's got recycle bags for everything at his flat, takes up half the room. I was really embarrassed one day I went to Oxfam with him to hand in a bag of clothes. He didn't bother laundering them as he thought they did that, “no use increasing the carbon footprint of recycled clothes if one does not have to,”' Jo mimicked. 'What I didn't realise was that he had a load of pants in the bag, yes, unwashed, yes, skid-marks, etc. The poor Oxfam lady went into a convulsive fit and nearly collapsed. I had to sit her down and make her a cup of tea till she calmed down.'

The waitress, who'd been distracted by the builders, finally came over and asked what they wanted. Debbie ordered two cappuccinos and chocolate muffins. The waitress placed a piece of paper in front of Jo.

'The fit one, with the red t-shirt, said to give you that,' she said to Jo, nodding back at the builder, and made to go.

'Wait,' said Jo, halting her. 'Pen?' she asked.

The waitress handed over a pen, Jo scribbled something, showed it to Debbie, then instructed the waitress to hand it back to red t-shirt.

Oh my God, thought Debbie, and she knew she was openly blushing.

Next instalment coming soon...

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2012 All rights reserved

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