|Vast: A Novel
Ch. I: Colin's Dream
by Nicolas Travers ©
Colin Vast needs sexual satisfaction, needs it very badly, and must have it very soon, even if he has to stumble out of his office into a sultry West London Thursday afternoon and pay hard-earned cash to secure it.
Colin sighs at the thought, and loosens his tie as he feels an urge start to build inexorably inside him, and stares blankly at a meaningless greenish blur of text on a word processor screen in front of him. Then he sighs again, and it is a sad little sound. For Colin lusts, but his lust is tarnished by a hard twinge of guilt: he is a responsible family man, with a wife, and a teenage daughter, and a mortgage to pay, and should not be thinking of straying during working hours, or any hours at all, for that matter.
Conscience whispers that he should be good. But he is also really very frustrated, and can count on precious little help - Jane, his sensible wife, regards sex as a wholly weekend joy (except of course when she has an urge herself, or feels that Colin should follow some particular path, where cajolement will prove simpler than squabbling), and he sadly lacks sexual charisma capable of building him secret affairs on the side.
So he frets and boils in office hours, because he knows that he is going to have to travel a hard commercial road, and pities himself greatly, because he is certain that he will regret any moment of passion as soon as it is done, with some whore - whomsoever she may be - counting the only profit.
Yet his need still grows as lust and self-pity compound in his mind, and some secret cash burning a hole in his wallet nurses and fans his heating, until the flame flaring in his mind spreads inexorably, and sears everything else out of his thinking.
Colin Vast: a big name for a little man. Colin tends to take a very much more positive view of himself - he is convinced that he shelters a creative giant hidden in a corner of his mind, a great secret talent waiting to burst dramatically on an unsuspecting world, and is writing a novel. He has completed the first chapter, and he is convinced that one day he will be a winner. But his acquaintances all view him pretty much as a chubby grey shadow, possessed of a certain skill for polishing financial facts and figures into digestible phrases, plus a useful knack of stringing words together in neat little sentences, and nothing more.
He tries bravely to bridge the gap by dreaming of glory as he commutes to London from his heavily mortgaged Victorian cottage in Windsor, just two minutes walk from the Castle. But glory ends at his office desk as he hammers at his word processor polishing stockmarket tips for RichQuick - hot little Bat Group monthly magazine designed to pave readers a smooth DIY pathway to investment millions, and he sleeps on his way home.
Real life also increasingly overshadows his dreams, for RichQuick is ailing, and Colin is out at the sharp end. Gathering recession has swept away the good days when Tim Twister, RichQuick's smooth, treacherous and sandyhaired editor, could send him by taxi to City press conferences, and on first class rail trips out of London to write gushing profiles of corporate chieftains.
Now Bat Group staff must walk wherever possible, account with precision for bus and underground rail fares, and buy their own cans of mid-morning instant coffee. Only the office kettle still whistles for free.
Colin still manages secretly to stash a coin or two away, profiting from a lifetime of accounting creatively and cooking expense chits, but hard lines have begun to furrow his brow.
Twister has been talking much of redundancies of late, and financial journalists in their mid-forties are a glut on the market, regardless of hidden glories.
Jane and Sarah, Colin's only child, are making his life even tougher. Colin has been trying hard to persuade both of the importance of taking care of pennies and tightening family budgets, but his good words have fallen on deaf ears, and every discussion about money has ended in uproar. Both have sulked, and Sarah has openly charged him with meanness.
Colin is consequently pretty miserable. Fellow Bat Group journalists in half a dozen publications crammed tightly together, each with its own little clump of desks and swivel chairs and battered grey steel filing cabinets, netted around with trailing telephone cables and small heaps of crushed and crumpled stationery and discarded paper cups, provide scant comfort, for fear freezes friendship when competition dictates survival. Even Valerie Sweetdreams, dishy blonde editress of a lush living monthly located at the end of the open-plan Bat Group editorial floor, and long a sympathetic ear for hot stockmarket tips, has grown cold.
He also burns with bitter jealousy, for Twister and Wendy, his plump curvaceous secretary, have begun stalking each other, and have already spent more than a week flaunting a shared lust in a most sadistic of courting rituals, forcing him to drum his fingers ever harder at his word-processor keyboard in baffled attempts to suppress fantasies of jealous murder and slaughter and mayhem.
Colin is convinced that the two will soon be writhing together in mutually enjoyable coition, and this conviction lies sour in his heart. But whilst example hones desire, and envy shapes frustration, purchase promises his only emulation. He has five ten pound notes squirreled away in his wallet, the product of cooking his expenses over a long and patient period, and he is desperate.
But how is he to do it, to get it? He descends in his mind to street level, down RichQuick's stairs to a doorway fronting onto a busy street of exotic shops, and several newsagents displaying small boards covered with the cards of a variety of welcoming women. But he needs an excuse, and he is supposed to be working.
His gathering frustration builds, and he fidgets indecisively, confronted with so many problems, and his fingers slow to rest on his keyboard. His eyelids begin to droop as his urge grew ever fiercer, and his mind conjures up a vision of nightwomen with shadowed faces surveying him coolly from the street corners of unknown towns, severe and distant in glistening black raincoats, teetering on sharp stiletto heels.
This daydream is a cherished fantasy, born from babyhood traumas psyched into his soul during nappy-changing nearly half a century earlier, and is very possibly cousin to the masochist urges of men seeking to recreate the smacks of their infancy in grown-up whips and chains - though Colin himself abhors violence.
But now one of his dream women is drifting towards him, her face shielded and unseen, hidden by a veil of long black hair as lustrous as her coat. She unfastens her belt as she moves, swaying gently, as though in time to some secret music, and reveals herself quite naked as the coat swings open slowly, parting to reveal a well-shaped litheness with smooth-curving breasts and long descending thighs. Colin swallows, his mouth salivating with expectation, and he feels himself start to swell and harden in his underpants.
However his daydreaming is a mistake, for Wendy is watching him closely, waiting to pounce, and the ghost of a smile flickering like a passing shadow across his face flags her an open assault signal.
She hisses at him. "Wake up, Colin, you're dreaming in company time."
Her sibilance is pitched at just the right level to carry through an open doorway, just as Colin reaches out to the divine vision in his mind, extending his mental fingertips to brush at the sheen of his dream, and it works like a charm.
Twister yelps like a hound and comes bounding out of his office, slavering for blood. He is already in a bad, bad mood - he has been working on budgets projecting cash flow catastrophes of unnerving magnitude just a few weeks ahead, and strongly suspects that Nat Batten, the Bat Group's even smoother managing director, has been secretly siphoning group revenue straight into his own pocket, probably by cutting illicit deals with compliant advertisers, though Twister had no proof and is not even sure how illicit deals could be cut without surfacing in some accounting somewhere.
He also has a dreadful headache, generated by drinking too much cheap white wine for lunch, coupled with a touch of wind, generated by gulping his food too fast. He consequently feels very cruel indeed, and is hungry both to inflict pain and hear weeping.
He halts behind Colin, poised to kill. However whilst Colin's reverie is now quite shattered, an inbuilt instinct for self-preservation has also successfully jerked him back to a convincing semblance of instant consciousness, so that he has already crossed his legs to conceal the still-tumescent swelling in his trousers, and begun frenetically drumming at his word processor keyboard.
His instant reaction forces Twister to hang in mid-air, looking foolish. RichQuick's editor responds by growling, and snarling, and looking very fierce for Wendy's benefit, and Wendy lowers her eyelids and playacts a yawn, further fuelling her master's unrequited fury. But Colin quite ignores both of them, rapt and furiously rapping, for all the world as though focussed deep into mid feature.
For a moment the three of them rest suspended in this unsatisfactory contretemps: Colin quivering internally with fear and frustration as his fingers dance along serried rows of computer keys, Twister hovering angrily at his shoulder, and Wendy gently smouldering.
Then Wendy decides to take pity on the two men and break the deadlock sympathetically, for she is really a very generous girl at heart. So she widens her eyes a little at Twister in a gaze of doe-like submission, and coyly, oh so deftly, wriggles her hemline an inch or two up her thigh.
This kindness totally melts Twister's wrath, but also places him in a tricky dilemma. He realises at once that Wendy is warming, and his ire transmutes instantly into pure passion, swelling to a vibrant fire. But he is caught, quite trapped, because Colin sits between him and the object of his lust, now writing hard, as though the whole world depends on his churning.
Wendy is equally bothered. She has played a powerful hand, but Colin is blocking her gambit. So she lowers her eyes demurely and then raises them again to shoot Twister a look of the purest desire.
The exchange is too much for RichQuick's editor. Twister positions himself almost coitally against a filing cabinet. His mind races, and he screws up his face into an excruciatingly sickly grin. Opportunity is calling, and he must get rid of Vast as quickly as possible. Suddenly he has a brilliant idea.
"Colin, dear boy..." His voice is a gush of poisoned honey.
Colin looks up suspiciously. He is still trying to retrieve his daydream without having to close his eyes, but pale green print on his word processor screen now shines the only sheen in sight.
Twister digs deep into a pocket, and jingles coins. "I feel a bit peckish, dear boy, and generous as well. I fancy a bun." He speaks jovially, extending a chubby palm bright with a cluster of pound coins and small silver. "I'll pay, if you go and fetch the fodder."
Colin stares at his boss doubtfully. Then he notices that Wendy is delicately moistening her lips with the tip of a pretty little pink tongue, and the immediacy of their shared passion quite lacerates his soul.
However he is also a very practical man, and realises in a flash that a foray out of the building will present a perfect opportunity for arranging a nice little assignation of his own. So he is on his feet immediately, pound coins and assorted silver quickly richer, and hurries off.
Twister and Wendy beam at each other as he vanishes out of their collective consciousness, and Wendy levers herself to her feet expectantly, making sure that the curve of her skirt tight against her rump displays her body to best effect.
Twister drools with delicious anticipation. "I think it's time for a little dictation, Wendy." He speaks suavely, stepping back to let her pass, making sure that the gap between his flies and Colin's desk is a little less wide than it should be.
Wendy smiles slightly, and edges through the narrow gap with a winsome demureness, making sure that she accidentally lurches against him just a little too hard as she follows him into his office.
"Shall I close the door, Mr. Twister?" She dimples - it is a party trick learned from practising for many, many hours as a little girl, sucking her cheeks in one after the other in front of a bathroom mirror.
"I think that's a good idea." Twister almost chokes on his words as he reaches out to fondle her nicely-rounded hip, and Wendy let his hand rest as she reaches out to close his office door to the world.
For a moment neither of them move. Twister is hot with lust, but wondering how to achieve coition in a building crawling with Bat Group employees, whilst Wendy is pondering how she may best bring him to a point where gain will more than reward generosity - for she also harbours fears about her job, and means to bind her boss tightly.
Then Twister's free hand begins to advance up the front of her blouse, questing for a button to unfasten.
Gently, very gently, she disengages herself, pouting at him with a look that quite denies her withdrawal. She sighs, and it is a declaration. "Oh, Mr. Twister, sometimes I think you could tempt a girl to be very naughty." Her eyelashes lower, it is a gesture of total submission.
Twister leers. "We could take the rest of the day off..." His voice trails away, hope not quite carrying the day, for he has played this game before, with earlier secretaries, and not always collected.
Wendy dimples again. Thoughts of impending coition, coupled with a generous reward, render her increasingly lubricious. Her lips pucker into a perfect cupid's bow, and she lowers her voice to a purr. "I'm thinking about a lot of things I shouldn't be thinking about, that we couldn't do here..."
They press each against the other, united in passion. Then they part, feverish now for a bed, minds focussing mutually on the Gothic Hotel, mere footsteps away.
"You go first, and meet me on the corner." Twister's voice is guttural with fierce emotion.
Wendy smiles slightly, admiring his discretion, but then hesitates. "Not in the lobby..."
Her eyes cloud with a little fear, for many Bat Group employees move and shake in the Gothic, and she is engaged to a quantity surveyor in Lewisham, and has no wish for recognition.
Twister is masterful, suave and confident as he scents glory so near.
"I'll call and book the room whilst you're on your way."
Wendy smiles, and is gone as he lifts his telephone. Cupid has drawn his bow, and aimed true. Ways and means will now feather his shaft.
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