tagExhibitionist & VoyeurBuilding Inspection Ch. 05

Building Inspection Ch. 05


That old adage about avoiding mixing business with pleasure? It's a bloody good warning; one that I should have paid attention to. And on that note, may I very strongly recommend that you never, ever send the builder your wife is fucking to your parent's pub to do some work for them?

My parents are pains in the arse. Once they have an idea in their head, there's no convincing them that they're wrong/their idea is stupid or impractical/there is a better solution. And Mark, as it turned out, is one of those men who doesn't take kindly to being hassled while he's trying to do a job. I should have known there would be problems.

The long and the short of it is that on Wednesday morning, Sarah and I dropped the girls off at school and then headed out to the pub to help sort out the pair's woes. Neither of us were enthused at either the journey, nor the prospect of playing mediator.

Halfway through the trip out, Sarah asked if I'd made a decision about donating my sperm to Sunny and Lisa.

'I haven't even had time to think about it,' I admitted.

Sarah didn't respond.

'Would you rather I didn't?' I prompted.

'I, uh... I have a confession to make,' she said. 'I emailed Sunny. I asked her what sort of involvement they wanted you to have in the child's life. She replied last night.'

'What did she say?' I asked cautiously.

'She said they, um... Actually, just wait. I'll read you the response.' Sarah reached for her phone and opened her Hotmail account. 'Okay, here we go;

Hi Sarah

In an ideal world, we'd like Caleb to be involved in the child's upbringing. We'd like him to visit it weekly, and when it's older, we'd like it to spend time at your house. I want the child to know it's father, aunt (you!) and cousins/half-siblings. What are your thoughts?'

I mulled over my sister's words. I'd always had the impression that she was asking for a 'donate and go' type arrangement. I hadn't realised she wanted me to be so involved.

'You know what bothers me?' Sarah asked quietly. 'The three of you - Sunny, Lisa and you - will have a relationship that I'm in no way part of. I'll just be this person, sitting on the sidelines. And if they decide to pursue you for it, they might be successful in getting child support. I'm not sure I can cope with the idea of money being taken away from my children for their kid.'

'I'm sure they won't ask for money.'

'Can you ask them, please? Because if I ask, it's going to sound really crass.'

'Yeah, sure,' I replied. 'I'll email Sunny tonight.'

We continued the drive. I thought about Mark. He was fond of Sarah, there was no denying that. He liked her to a degree that transcended what I felt was normal in the circumstances. When she spoke, he listened, when she made a joke, he laughed, and when he was balls deep in her, there was something romantic and intimate about the way he touched her.

'Did you enjoy last Friday night at the pub?' I asked Sarah.

'You've asked me this about five times now, and I've said 'yes' each time,' Sarah replied. 'Why don't you believe me?'

'I do,' I argued. 'I was just thinking about Mark.'

'What about him?'

'You two seem to get on really well,' I said.

'Honestly?' she asked.

'Honestly,' I pressed.

She stared out the window. 'Quite honestly, having a sexual relationship with Mark, and having that friendship with him, is what's saving me from tearing my hair out about this sperm donation business.'

'I thought you were okay with the sperm donation.'

'Me too. Turns out I'm not.' She bit her bottom lip. 'He understands. Mark. He understands why it bothers me, whereas I feel like you don't get it.'

'You haven't even tried talking to me about this before now,' I responded, flummoxed. 'Are you telling me you've been talking about this to Mark, but not me?'

Sarah nodded. 'We were texting on Sunday. He's the one who suggested I contact Sunny to see what her intentions were.'

'You don't think I should have been the one you were discussing this with?'

My wife bit her fingernail. 'Probably,' she admitted. 'I'm sorry. I just... I thought I was being unreasonable. I didn't want to seem bitter. And for what it's worth, Mark did suggest I should probably speak to you and not him about it.'

'Small fucking mercies,' I muttered under my breath.

'I'm sorry,' she repeated. 'I really am. I know I should have talked to you about it, I just... no, I'm not going to make an excuse. I'm sorry.'

You ever just feel trapped with no way out? That's how I felt, both with regards to the sperm donation, and with having to travel out to the pub to sort out Mark and my parents' dispute. My head hurt, my stomach was knotted up, and I just wanted to go back home and pretend none of this had ever happened.

It gutted me that Sarah had spoken to Mark about Sunny and Lisa's request. That was a topic that I didn't feel was appropriate to discuss outside the marriage. Why the fuck hadn't she come to me and told me how she felt? I was supposed to be her husband. What fucking place in her life did I have if she was sleeping with someone else as well as treating him as her sounding board?

Sarah wasn't any more at peace with the world. She was as stressed as I was, and when we arrived at my parents' pub, she tensely straightened her skirt and climbed out.

'I love you,' I told her. I desperately wished we were at home. I wanted to talk to her about the sperm donation. I wanted to ask her if she'd realised Mark had feelings for her. I wanted to bury my face in her pussy and remind her that I could be of use to her, too. 'Thanks for giving up your day off to sort this shit out.'

'Family,' she commiserated. 'Can't live with them, can't live without them.'

Mark wasn't at the pub. That would be too convenient, wouldn't it? Fuck me, I thought, this day just keeps getting better and better. I listened to my parents tell me how arguments had escalated that morning and Mark had packed up and fucked off, while wondering if I was too young to have a stress related heart attack.

'Where's Mark now?' I asked.

'I reckon he's at the Eastwood's,' Dad said. 'James Eastwood came and saw him yesterday night about doing some work for them. I told James to fuck off, that now wasn't the time to come asking my builder for favours, but off Mark went over yesterday afternoon, keen to have a look at doing some extra work while we were paying for his accommodation.'

Sarah and I exchanged glances. Neither of us wanted to touch this with a barge pole.

'I'll text Mark,' Sarah offered. 'We'll ask him his version of events.'

That was the wrong thing to say. My father blew up at her, telling her he'd already told her what happened, and anything Mark said to the contrary would be a lie.

As I said; my parents can be difficult.

'Sarah and I will go and find Mark,' I interrupted. 'Don't yell at her for trying to help.'

We got back in the car.

'Where do these people live?' Sarah asked.

'I have no idea. Do you want to call Mark?'

She nodded. 'Sure.'

Mark's phone rang out, but when she followed up with a text, he quickly responded with an address. I figured he was happy to see us in person, but not talk over the phone, which was reasonable in the circumstances.

'I can't believe you sent Mark out to work with your parents,' Sarah muttered darkly.

I've never been able to keep hold of my temper when I'm stressed out. The more anxious I am, the more likely I am to snap. Sarah and I have had some cracking arguments over our years together, and storm clouds had been gathering all day. The lightning was about to start.

'My bad, it's probably because I don't know him as intimately as you,' I responded.

'Oh, fuck you,' Sarah hissed.

'Fuck me? Fuck me? I'm not the one who's pushing the boundaries with our neighbour.'

'Hilarious. Absolutely fucking hilarious, Caleb,' she replied, her tone flat. 'I love that after you decided we should have a root in front of him, and you decided we should go to a barbecue and start swinging, you are now also justified in telling me how I fit in with your little fantasy world, and what I am and aren't allowed to do.'

'It's not like I had to do much convincing, particularly the first time when we had a shag in front of Mark in the back yard,' I argued. 'You were naked and on my lap with bloody little prompting.'

Sarah didn't respond.

My GPS lost the signal and I pulled over to see if I could get it back. I knew it was a fruitless endeavour, but I was hopeful all the same.

While I was trying to see if I had internet access on my phone - I didn't - Sarah spoke.

'Do you remember when my laptop died and my phone wasn't charged, and I needed to log onto my bank account to pay our gas bill?' she asked.

'Kind of. That was, what, four or five months ago?'

'Seven months ago.' She stared at her lap. 'I know we had an agreement not to go through each other's phones or laptops or browsing history, but it was about that time you'd applied for your new job. I wanted to see if they'd contacted you. You had your explorer window open and I thought I'd just peek in your email account.'

'Okay,' I replied unsurely. This wasn't so bad. I communicate with a number of men and women, but it's never inappropriate.

'You had a tab open. Some sex forum.'

'Okay,' I repeated. A horrible feeling was starting to form in the pit of my stomach.

'You were logged in, and curiosity got the better of me. I had a look at some of your past posts. I always knew you were interested in voyeurism and swinging and that kind of thing. I was just curious about how deep those fantasies ran.'

I put the GPS back in it's special holder. I dreaded to think what she'd read.

'I saw a post someone had made asking everyone how far they'd go to fulfil a fantasy,' she said, her voice wavering. 'And you said that if there was no way your wife would ever find out...'

She trailed off and burst into tears. She didn't need to repeat the rest. I remembered the gist of what I'd written. If I could guarantee my wife would never find out about it, I'd have wild, uninhibited sex with a strange woman in front of an audience.

Yeah. There's no hiding that one. No denying what I meant. No double meanings. I'd publicly announced I'd cheat on my wife, and my wife, to my regret, had found out about it.

'I'm sorry,' I apologised.

She wiped her eyes. 'Why the fuck did you marry me if I wasn't what you wanted?'

I didn't verbally respond. I unclipped my seatbelt, unclipped hers, then pulled her onto my lap. She cried into my shirt, leaving it wet with her tears, while I apologised over and over and over again.

I wondered if she wanted to leave me. Maybe she'd want to leave me for Mark. I tried not to think of her and the girls living in the Queenslander, happy as can be, while I lived the miserable, bitter life of a divorced man. It would be my fault, wouldn't it? Without me, she never would have had sex in front of Mark. Never would have slept with him. Never given him the opportunity to fall in love with her.

We stayed on the side of the road for a good twenty minutes. It was Sarah's phone buzzing that broke through her tears, and forced her to compose herself.

'It's Mark,' she said. 'He wants to know where we are.'

I told her the address. She repeated it to Mark, and he spoke through the phone to her.

'We're two minutes away,' Sarah told me, ending the call. 'Let's go sort this out.'


Five minutes later I was standing out the front of the Eastwood's house with Mark, trying to nut things out. The Eastwoods were inside the house. Sarah was waiting in the car. It was just Mark and I, on a dry patch of grass, each of us wishing they weren't in the other's company.

'They arguments started on Monday night,' Mark told me. 'Your parents didn't understand why I stopped work at seven pm. I tried to explain that there are residential neighbours and because of them, there are noise restrictions, but they told me they'd sort out any complaints. I wasn't too happy because I'd be the one copping a fine if council came along, not them, so I refused to do anymore until Tuesday morning. It sort of went downhill from there.'

'And then the Eastwoods came and asked you to do some work?' I prodded.

Mark shrugged. 'I didn't see a problem with it. If I'm not working, I don't get paid. There's no automatic pay check waiting for me at the end of each week.'

I hadn't actually thought about that.

'There isn't much more work I need to do at your parent's pub,' he added. 'Only a few hours' worth. I was going to go around tomorrow and finish it off. I told them I'd be done by Thursday afternoon and I'll finish on schedule.'

'Why didn't you just finish it today?' I asked. 'Why come here and start working for the Eastwoods?'

'I didn't really feel like putting up with any more of their shit,' he said. 'If it makes you feel any better, just tell them I'll be back tomorrow. Everything will be as I promised.'

'Where are you going to stay tonight?' I asked. 'At the pub, or somewhere else?'

'What does it matter to you?' he responded.

I didn't have an answer.

'Ring your parents,' he said. He sighed tiredly. 'Tell them I'll be back tomorrow morning. I'll be there by ten at the absolute latest.'

I nodded. 'Thanks mate.'

It was something of a resolution, but at the same time, it wasn't a resolution at all. I felt both guilty and angry. Guilty because I knew how wretched my parents could be, but angry because he'd agreed to do the work, and then had taken another job on before finishing his work at the pub.

I could feel Sarah staring at us from the car, and the Eastwoods staring at us from their veranda. This was a small town, and everyone knew everyone else's business. The Eastwoods knew why I was here.

'I'll be off,' I said.

'Yeah,' he agreed. 'Back to your white collar job where it doesn't matter if it's raining, or if you hurt yourself, or if you're on the wrong side of forty, because none of that matters; you'll get a job and a pay check anyway. Back to your wife and kids.'

When I repeat those words back to myself, it sounds like a threat, or a dig at my masculinity, but when he spoke them, the tone he used suggested nothing of the sort. He just sounded worn down and frustrated, and I got the impression he was trying to tell me something that he knew I'd never understand.

I went back to the car.

'What did he say?' Sarah asked.

'He said he'd be back tomorrow to finish the job.' I rubbed my temples. I was mentally exhausted. 'Let's go back to Brisbane. I can't deal with seeing my parents again. I'll ring them on the way and let them know that everything's okay.'


In some ways, Sarah and I are a stereotype. When she doesn't want to deal with life, she busies herself with the kids. When I don't want to deal with life, I find household projects to keep me entertained.

We didn't speak about Mark or sperm donation or internet posts. We spoke about what the girls were doing, and the dodgy repairs and renovations we, and the previous owners, had done on the cottage. Sarah planned to do more crafting with the girls. I researched hard plaster repairs.

Mark came home on Saturday afternoon. I went over to speak to him, to apologise about my parents, and found that rather than unpacking, he was re-packing.

'Where are you off to?' I asked.

'Back out West,' he replied. 'I've had a lot of people come by asking about me doing small jobs, and I still haven't finished at the Eastwoods.'

'I'm surprised the Eastwoods have the money to pay you,' I said. They'd never been a wealthy family. They had a small farm and though they worked hard, there was only so much they could do with what they had.

'We agreed that they'd give me room and board, and teach me how to shoot, in exchange for labour.'

'How to shoot?' I echoed.

Mark shrugged. 'Always wanted to learn.'

I frowned. 'So how long are you going to be out there?'

'Probably a month or so,' he replied. 'I can't really hang around, anyway. The house is going to be moved and re-stumped this week.'

'Council approved it?'

He nodded. 'Yeah, there were no worries at all. The subdivision should be finalised in the next few weeks. Then I'll get the Queenslander finished, put her up for sale, and move on.'

'I'd thought you were going to live there,' I remarked.

'I was,' he agreed. 'It's probably best I move on, though.'

Mark continued to load his supplies into his ute. He was good at his job, that much was impossible to deny. Even my parents had conceded that the work he'd done at the pub had exceeded their expectations.

'I'm thinking about fixing a patch of hard plaster that's come off one of our walls,' I said. 'Any advice?'

'Hard plaster? Where's there hard plaster in your house?' he asked.

'In the kitchen.'

'You sure it's hard plaster and not plasterboard?'

'Pretty sure.'

'You mind if I have a look?' he asked.

'Yeah, no worries,' I agreed.

He'd never been inside our place before. Sarah and the kids were out the back, picking the last of the season's strawberries, so it was just he and I inside.

'Who renovated?' he asked.

'The previous owners, me, Sarah, and a motley assembly of tradesmen,' I replied. 'We're still working on it.'

He nodded. 'Has it given you some grief?'

'Tons. Nothing is standard, and we had the place re-stumped, but it's still not quite level. It beats me how people make money renovating, because this place has cost us a fortune and there's still a ton of stuff to be done.'

Mark laughed under his breath. 'My biggest loss on a house is over fifty thousand.'


We went to the kitchen and Mark agreed that yes, someone had used hard plaster. They'd used it to cover a brick wall, and had either not prepared the wall correctly, or had mixed the compound incorrectly. He recommended I call in an expert. He had a friend who'd be able to give me advice.

'So I'm out of a Saturday morning project?' I asked.

Mark looked around the house. 'I wouldn't say that. There's a few things I could quickly teach you how to fix.'

'I'm scared by how quickly you're picking up all the problems,' I replied.

'Old houses are never perfect, but yours has a lot of character,' he said. 'Sometimes I think people take renovating a step too far and their house becomes sterile. Deb's apartment is like that. You can't relax.'

I thought back to our weekend with Deb, and for whatever reason, her comment about Mark having been married popped into my mind. I found it a bit weird that Mark had never mentioned his ex-wife. We knew him relatively well by now, but there had been no comments, no remarks, no nothing. It was as if she had never existed.

As Mark inspected our bedroom and bathroom doors - none of them sat flush, and none shut without being shoved into place - I asked him how long he'd been divorced.

The question surprised him. He stopped what he was doing for a few seconds as he took stock of what I'd asked. Then he went back to what he was doing and gave me an answer.

'Nearly twenty years,' he said. 'I got married at eighteen, she left me when I was twenty-five, and the divorce was finalised when I was twenty-seven.'

'How old are you?'

'Forty-five.' He stood back and inspected the bathroom door. 'This is an external door. All of your internal doors are actually external entry doors. Did you and Sarah do this, or did the previous owners?'

'Both. There were no internal doors when we bought the place, but the old owners said there were four spares in the back shed. When Sarah and I moved in, we tried to put them up.'

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