Page 79 Unoriginal Copy

                                UNORIGINAL COPY.                                                    25-4-11

                                                                Roy Garde.

One week after John Mathews moved to the city where his new job was located he lucked into being offered the big, rented apartment that his predecessor, who had been called home for an emergency, had recently painted throughout and had furnished attractively. Also, he was allowed to buy the big items in it for around a half of what they’d cost. And, not only that – it was within easy walking distance of his office.

When it got to be time to hand in his hotel room key for the last time he did so with huge relief from knowing that he wouldn’t have to spend another night in their hopelessly small and lumpy bed in the poky room in their crummy, rundown building.

His luck held up some more in that he quickly became friends with the guy who had the next apartment to his and which shared his balcony.

They were of the same age and had the same disposition too which manifested itself on John’s first full day in his new apartment – which happened to be a Wednesday – when, after getting home after work, he had taken a shower and had put some jeans and a T shirt on and then he’d poured himself a glass of bourbon and he’d taken it, and a chair, out onto the balcony with the intention of reading the local paper and using it to decide where he was going to have dinner that night and when he got out there he saw that his neighbor was already sitting over on his side and he was reading the same paper but instead of having just a glass of bourbon he’d brought a whole bottle with him and John saw that it was the self-same brand that he preferred.

His comment on that served as a catalyst to their introducing themselves and then they compared jobs and colleges and, like that, and then, as the level of the bourbon in the bottle shrank, they became instant experts on the state of the country and the world and, after solving most of those problems, they discussed what it could possibly be that motivated women as a whole and from there they went on to waxing philosophically on several other topics and one of them was on parents in general which led to a shared opinion that the older generation has a stranglehold on modern society and is more than just reluctant to give up some of its authority to the up and coming generation.

They were both in their mid twenties.

John’s new fast friend was named Malcolm Lewis and he sat up straight to give weight to his next point which was, “Well now John, hear this, we’ve got a prime example right here in this vicinity of exactly what’s wrong with people over fifty in this country.”

He used his free hand to point at the building that was across from them, “See that guy with his back to us who’s reading a newspaper? Well, right now his wife is washing up their dinner plates and, because it’s Wednesday night and only because it’s Wednesday night, when she’s finished in the kitchen she’ll come into view and we’ll see her go over to their front door and check to be sure that it’s locked and then she’ll go around and pull all the curtains in the room and they’ll then make out on that rug that’s in front of the fireplace that you can see over on this side.

“They follow the same routine every Wednesday evening after dinner and every Sunday afternoon when they’ve come home from church and have had lunch. They’ve done so like clockwork ever since I’ve been living here which is now coming up to two years.

 “I don’t know how they can call it making love because it looks to me to be more of a duty than a need for both of them. I say ‘both’ and I mean both because neither of them seems to get anything out of it – no joy whatsoever and very little pleasure, if any. The only thing that I can come up with is they must be doing it from long habit because as far as I can tell, they go through with the entire act as if it’s just one more chore that has to be done and gotten out of he way.

“On her side, subservience and disgust play a big part in that she acts throughout as if she’s only going along because she has to and when he’s on top of her and can’t see her face her disgust with having to take a part in it at all shows plainly. They don’t indulge in any foreplay and false modesty plays a big part in that she doesn’t bare her breasts for him nor does she as much as let him see her private parts beforehand even though they’re shaping up to do the most intimate act that there is between a man and woman. It’s as if she’s ashamed of what’s going on.

“As for him, it’s true that I always see lust on his face when he’s in position and is getting it guided in by her but once that’s done the only thing that shows on his face is determination to get it over and done with. He just pumps away at her as fast as he can move his hips and it’s almost as if he’s trying to hurt her! Hey, wait a minute. Maybe he’s doing just that! I didn’t think of that before now.

“Anyhow, I did give it some thought earlier on and what I came up with was that it’s quite possible that the whole thing is about ‘power play.’ Maybe he’s simply locked into demanding his ‘rights’ because he knows that she hates doing it, and thinks that at their age it’s altogether too crude and animalistic, and maybe she goes along without complaining, and without making him beg for it like some wives do, because her bible tells her that she has to let him ‘cleave unto’ her but there’s also the possibility that by setting up the room, on auto, that makes it incumbent on him to perform when she’s demonstrated that ‘it’s time’ by doing so and seeing if he’s up to the challenge.

“And that, mind you, has to be done by him without her stimulating him in any way. That way she stays dominant and in control from beginning to end and it will even let her approach being his equal when he’s on top of her and is thumping away at her. She’s probably thinking – “Well, alright, he’s still up to it but next time? Who knows, and when that happens he’d better look out.”

“Ha! It’s a power play that will stay in force but will remain stalemated as long as he can get it up twice a week. Jesus! I sure wouldn’t to be him the first time that he can’t do it!

“Wow! You know what? That’s probably the truth of it! It’s a power play. In his eyes he’s holding his own and successfully defying her as long as he can meet her challenge every time and in her eyes she’s OK with doing it because, even though he’s the one who’s doing the actual screwing, all she needs is patience to get to be in charge at all times after he fails to perform properly once!”

John was impressed with the guy’s sagacity but he was also puzzled.

“I can see that all of your conjecturing could be true and it’s all really interesting but at least three objections come to mind: First. I’ve never heard of – well, I’d better say that it’s certainly never been true in my experience – I’ve never heard of a guy not getting any pleasure at all from fucking even if it’s only with his long time wife. Second. Maybe she’s under doctor’s orders to be sure to get regular transfers of male fluids. I’ve heard of that before and, in fact, I used to be with a woman who made me come onto her belly the second time that we did it because she firmly believed that live semen is not only essential for a woman’s overall health but it’s also a cure-all for skin problems and wrinkles! My third  objection is this – How can you possibly know what’s going on behind their closed curtains? If she’s as up tight as you say then surely she’s never forgotten to close them properly?”

Malcolm snorted in derision, “Ha! She never has and she never will forget to do that, believe me! But, here’s the thing, she only closes the front curtains. She must reason that because no one overlooks her side window, our blank brick wall is right across from it, she can leave its curtains open to let some light into the room. Well, I’ve got news for her. It ain’t so!”

He went on to explain that the brick wall that she sees is actually the front of an ‘L’ shaped extension of their building and that there is a staircase on the far side that goes from the roof all the way down to the ground floor and it has a window cut into the far wall on every one of those levels. “So,” he said, “if anybody in our building wants to he can go to the staircase and open the window on this level and lean out of it and then he can look directly into that couple’s living room.”

“Here, look out! She’s come back and she’s checking the front door locks. Next she’ll be closing the curtains on this side so if you want to see for yourself what I’ve just told you we’d better go right now.”

John hesitated for a minute but then, in the interest of scientific research – and perhaps because his middle name was ‘Thomas’ – he stood up and followed Malcolm through his apartment and out into the corridor and then along to the stairway in question.

Malcolm opened the relevant window for him and took a quick look out of it himself before making way for John and then he told him that he’d see him back on the balcony and then walked away saying, “Enjoy.”

When John was in position he saw that the woman had finished drawing the curtains and had walked over to the fireplace, which had to be an electric one because John saw it come to life a second after she’d flicked a switch, and she turned her back on her husband, and thus partly towards John, and she lifted up her dress at the front, and held it up with her chin, and then she struggled to ease her passion-killing, long-legged, thickly elasticized panties down and he saw that they evidently did double duty as corsets because as they were being made to vacate the area her belly bulged out and came into prominent view. When they were all the way down, but still wrapped around one of her ankles, she straightened up and he saw that her belly was then hanging down past her pubic hair and that it was flabby and blubbery and sickly white and was crisscrossed by lines that her panties had cut into it.

Mercifully, she let her dress fall down in front and then she lowered herself onto the lambskin rug.

She must have sent out some kind of a signal then – or maybe long habit let her husband time her moves with accuracy – because he folded his paper and dropped it on the table at his side and then he stood up and he unbuckled as he was walking over to join her.

  He knelt between her open legs and unzipped his pants and then moved them down to a half way along his thighs.

When he was lying full out on top of her he lifted up a little and hovered there to give her enough room to be able to first, pull her dress up out of his way and then to reach down with both hands – her left one to open herself up and her other one to guide him in.

John saw lust come to his face – just as Malcolm had described – the moment that her hand came in contact with his penis and it stayed there as he was ‘re-establishing his right to visit his lawful territory’ but, when he’d established a rhythm, that lust was replaced with what had to be very close to boredom, along with concentration, as he worked to get it done and over with.

After the three or four leisurely strokes that he’d needed to get all the way into her he began to move in and out as fast as he could move his hips and it was then that the first of only two shows of feeling came to the woman’s face during the entire act. The first one was a combination of pain and apprehension as she fought to stay open for him and to keep still because she evidently knew that it would be over quicker if she didn’t distract him in any way. The second was of disgust as she felt herself become a receptacle for his juices, which forced John to drop his theory about her wanting to be injected with them.

From beginning to end she hadn’t moved her body once to enhance his pleasure nor had she used her hands and arms to show that he was being welcomed nor to help him get all the way into her which John couldn’t understand at all in that all the women that he’d ever been with knew, instinctively maybe, that helping him to get that extra quarter of an inch further in is essential in that the guy needs that badly and it also shows him, categorically, that the woman is happy that he’s the one who’s about to inject her.

When the husband was undergoing his spasm his face had contorted a little but a second later it took on a look of relief and then he eased out of her and rolled off onto the mat and the moment that she was free of his weight she pushed her dress down as if to be sure that he didn’t get a look at what she had between her legs. John marveled, yet again, on seeing that and was appalled at the same time because surely, he thought, every woman over the age of, say, sixteen on the face of the earth had to know by then that there’s no such thing as an ugly female crotch in the eyes of any man alive.

The guy was careful to keep his penis from touching the rug until she’d handed him a tissue from a pocket in her cardigan and then she took another one out and she surreptitiously slipped it under her dress and dabbed at herself with it.

He stood up to pull his pants up and then he turned away and walked back to his chair and to his paper.

The woman stood up too and she turned away from her husband, and towards John again, and she pulled up her panties. When they were all the way up she pulled the waist- band away with one hand and then she gathered up her belly and dropped it in.

When she was ‘decent’ again she went around opening the curtains and then tidied up the room as if it had been subjected to a mild earthquake.

  John was pretty sure that not a word had been uttered by either of them throughout her ‘ordeal’ and he estimated that only around five minutes had elapsed between the closing of the curtains and their being opened up again and that the couple’s skin had been in contact with each others for only about one half of that time.

John went back to his balcony and he had to take a large gulp of bourbon and let it percolate before he could calm down enough to speak coherently.

“Unbelievable!” he said. “It makes me want to go and knock on their door and tell them, ‘HELLO! What you two just did is supposed to be enjoyable all around not a goddam chore.’ It was ‘no lookee, no touchee, whip it in, whip it out and wipe it.’

“A knee bender against a wall with a five dollar whore gives a whole lot more pleasure than what they get, combined.”

“Exactly,” agreed Malcolm. “Their get-togethers create about as much passion as what they use to clean their teeth. Makes me wonder what their honeymoon was like! Whoa-a! Can you picture it? Uh, maybe it’s best not to.

“But listen up, there’s more.  Guess what she does for a living –

– – – –

“Give up? Well that uninhibited, open-minded, little bundle of love runs the Art Center in the old town! How’d you like them apples?”

John didn’t like them at all and said so and he also said that he’d make a point of staying away from the Art Center in town because he didn’t want to know what represented viewable art in that harridan’s eyes.

Malcolm then sat up straight and John saw a twinkle come into his eyes as he said, “Even though all of the rest is hard to believe the really strange part is yet to come. Are you ready for it?

“Well then, here it comes . . . their only daughter is the hottest babe in town! Yes! She’s beautiful and she can’t get enough of it! She likes having it every which way and all ways and always.”

John’s mouth hung open at the news and his mind raced to encompass the whole delicious and astonishing juxtaposition contained in one family. However, it was literally mind-boggling and so when he’d emptied his glass he stood up and told Malcolm thanks for the floor show and for the amazing information that went with it and that he was too drunk to go out to eat so he was going to watch some mindless TV to sober up before going to bed.

When he got into his own place he didn’t switch the TV on but just sat in his recliner to be able to think out what was bothering him.

He’d been more than just interested in hearing about an outwardly respectable woman who was ‘easy’ because he had a ‘flaw’ in his character.

He’d been an avid Boy Scout in his youth. It had only lasted a few years but on his second camping trip with them they found out that the State Commissioner himself had chosen their troop for his monthly visit to the ‘field.’

Their Scout Master had worked them all hard to get every thing in shape and when the great man arrived his chauffer set up his tent and then he put a camp bed in it and then drove away.

To show their mettle they built a rope bridge across the little stream that was down the hill from them a little way and after that they prepared, as it were, their evening meal and by the time that that was eaten and cleaned up it was getting dark so they built up a big fire and then settled down to listen to the Commissioner’s speech.

He started off by talking about their motto and then he examined just about every word in The Pledge and then he said, “I’d like to offer one more, uh, observation for you all.  I’ll keep it short I promise because I know how much you young fellows love having to keep still for boring lectures.” Pause until the murmuring had died down. “Well, here it is. I know that you’re rather on the young side to be told this but please store it up inside you for when it becomes relevant in your lives. You’ll Be Prepared then, right?” Another pause as the Scout Leader led his troop into appreciative laughter that successfully drowned out the groans of the elder ones – this was The Commissioner after all – and then he went on, “So, this what I want you to take away from my little talk – Never help down a woman who is already down. D’you get it? Another way of putting it is, ‘Treat all women as you want other boys and men to treat your own sister.’ There that’s it. Think about it now and please act on it in future.

“Well now, I want to thank you all for everything. You’ve showed me some admirable skills and I’m very happy that you asked me to visit with you. Good night to you all and keep up the good work.”

John knew, even at fourteen, that the big-wig’s speech had been so glib that he probably gave the same one over and over but that didn’t bother him much – So? What if he did? He asked himself – but his comments about not helping a loose woman down further and treating women the way that he’d want his sister to be treated by others did bother him and they stuck with him and over the years the advice had strengthened in him rather than forgotten and ignored.

It meant that not only could he not let himself go with prostitutes, ever, neither could he take a woman to his bed who hadn’t already indicated to him that she wanted to do so.

Both restrictions were, of course, limiting and irksome, sometimes close to impossible, but he never reneged on his self-administered oath.

When he’d come to his present town he’d gone out on the second night and he checked out several bars and had picked up a really nice, fresh looking young woman in one of them and after a few drinks she intimated that she liked him and that she’d, “like to have our next drink in your apartment.”

He would, normally, have been suspicious of such a forward approach but it had been a long time between drinks for him and so he spluttered out an agreement.

When they’d put their coats on and were out on the street she linked arms and then looked up at him and said, “You do understand that I’m a working girl and that this is going to cost you a hundred dollars. I’m right about that, aren’t I darling?”

He pushed her arm away and turned on his heel and walked away without a word, humiliated and very disappointed.

That incident had taken place only a few days before he’d moved into his new apartment and he hadn’t ventured forth since on ‘ the hunt’ so he was very interested indeed in meeting the horny daughter of his Uptight neighbors seeing that very little courting indeed would be called for in her case.

The next evening he was sitting with Malcolm out on their shared balcony and he waited until they’d had a few drinks before, off-handedly, asking about the daughter and he was told that her name was Doris and she didn’t have a full time job but she went to the Art Center every day at noon and stayed there for two hours so that her mother could come home and cook lunch for her husband because that was the custom that their family had brought with them from their original country.

The next Monday John took an early lunch and he walked to the Art Center and he got there just in time to see the mother kiss her daughter goodbye and head out to the parking lot.

With his first sight of Doris John almost forgave her mother for getting him to see her fat ugly belly not once but twice – once when it was set free and again when it was recaptured and restrained and then confined to its quarters.

She was slim and she had long, dark hair and a good figure and was a very attractive woman overall.

He looked around as he was waiting for her to sell a finicky tourist a framed picture of the local port and, when they were alone, he asked her to confirm his suspicion that they only showed local artists and feigned interest in the nearest one. He could see that she was glad of his company and he tried to keep everything casual but the warmth that he saw in her eyes as he said goodbye to her was very encouraging.

He went back every day at the same time and he’d wait until her mother had gone and the last browsing tourist had smiled thanks at her before he’d sit down at the side of her reception desk.

On the Thursday morning he asked her out on a date for Friday night and she agreed readily.

Although he already had a firm date with her he so much liked being with her, and enjoying their interesting chats as they ate the sandwiches and drank the beer that he’d brought in every day after finding out which ones she liked best, that he went there at the usual time on the Friday morning but, that time, her mother, instead of kissing Doris goodbye and leaving, came over to him with a stony, authoritative look on her face and said. “Excuse me young man. I’ve seen you come in here several times this week to look at my sculptures and paintings and I see from the records of sales that you haven’t bought one single thing yet.

“So, I’m telling you right now that I’m on to you and I know exactly what you’re doing. You’re stealing my artist’s ideas to copy and incorporate into your own work, isn’t that the truth? I know it is because I’ve seen your type before many times and I can recognize sneaky deceitfulness in a New York minute and I’m telling you that I don’t like it so I want you to understand that you are not welcome here, you hear me? Please don’t ever come in here again?”

John, at first simply taken aback and then aghast and then horrified and astonished before getting to be angry, stayed very aware through all of it that Doris was within hearing distance and so he had enough sense to hold his temper in check and he limited his reply to an innocuous mumble about her being, “very wrong, lady.” and then he walked out of the store.

Copying! Plagiarizing! Stealing! He couldn’t believe what he’d heard. When he’d gone in there the first time he’d assessed, and promptly dismissed, everything in there as being hopeless: The numerous lithographs were all banal and the abstract paintings were amateurish and some of them were close to being embarrassingly bad and the sculptures were all blatantly derivative – lifted wholesale from Picasso, of course, and from Julio Gonzalez and Henry Moore and Modigliani, and others – and the only good lines among them were, he suspected, actual, factual, straight-out copies from one or other of the Masters.

He hadn’t bothered to so much as glance at any of them on subsequent visits except when necessary to negotiate his way around them.

On the sidewalk he let his legs take him wherever they wanted and they, sensibly, took him down hill until he came to the river where he found an empty bench to sit on.

He still had the two sandwiches and the two beers that he’d intended to share with Doris, as usual, but his stomach was so closed up that he couldn’t so much as think about eating or drinking anything. He put the two paper bags down on the bench to one side and when he’d done so he looked up at the sky and expected the shame of being wrongly and unfairly accused to come back at him but then, out of nowhere – or at least, he knew not from whence – a splendid thought came to him that elbowed aside the embarrassing accusation and allowed his stomach to not only undo its knots but it also allowed a welcome void to develop therein that signaled hunger and urged the filling up of same.

He ate both sandwiches and he drank both beers and when he wasn’t using his mouth to deal with both of those things a smile played across it, and showed full time in his eyes, as he relaxed after realizing that, with just a little luck, later on that very same night – and, he hoped, through the entire weekend – he was going to be copying a tableau that he’d seen her mother create the week before.

Her, “Family Group.”

He was positively sure that his version of it would be much, much better than the original.