The Literotica Xmas Bash


Cynthia had worked with Kevin for at least a decade. She was a dab-hand at translating his imbecility into English. I was thinking I'd worked out what was going on. Someone was playing an elaborate trick on him for some reason. I guessed she was really in on it.

'So what kind of literature are we getting, then? Who are the main guests? Are there any events the public can still get tickets for? Are they having a press conference?'

Both of them suddenly lost their tongues. At last, I thought, the truth is going to come out. I took a sip of my coffee and waited to laugh with them at their joke.

'You see that's the thing. I told them up at the council. Even spelled it out for them. It was them that got it wrong, not me.' 'It's not lit-er-a-ture, it's Lit-er-o-ti-ca.' 'Thanks for clarifying, Cynth. Literotica? And what is that exactly?'

I thought I was pulling on the string that would unravel the whole thing. Kevin took charge again.

'That's the problem, John old chap. It's not exactly clear. I looked them up on Amazon. You know, thought I'd get a couple of books for my kindle. Swot up, like. Nothing. Couldn't find hide nor hair.' 'I told you, you stupid twazzock, they're on-line publishers. You've got to look them up on the web.'

Cynthia was a little snippy. Kevin, not to be deterred, became even more patronising.

'So I did what you said. YouPorn, XHamster, FUQ. The lot. Not a dicky bird. Lots of dick and lots of birds. Geddit? But nothing about writing or writers. If the cheques hadn't cleared, I'd have thought they didn't exist.'

Now he was laughing alone. Cynthia sighed and gave me one of those see-what-I-have-to-put-up-with looks I usually get from wives looking for a bit on the side.

'It's a site for erotic writing. There's bloody tons of the stuff. Every shade of smut and filth. Shocking some of it. My Cyril caught me looking and read a few himself. Phew.' 'He didn't approve?' 'Oh no.'

She looked around as if to check there was no one else listening.

'Let's just say it's a long, long time since we had sex on a Tuesday. Or any other day of the week for that matter.' 'So how come you didn't tell me this?'

Kevin sounded put out.

'I did. It's just you never read your bloody emails. Long and the short of it, we're turning folks away. Given the Literotica people the number of the local tourist office and suggested they point punters in the direction of the B and Bs.'

I shuddered. As chief tourism correspondent. I was fully aware of the implications of pushing the unwary into the arms of Bridlington landladies.

'When was the last time you were fully booked?' 'Nineteen-sixty-three. Manager had booked the Beatles before anyone had heard of them and wouldn't let them out of their contract. Historic.'

Kevin scrabbled in a drawer and pulled out a creased photo of the famous mop tops with a fat man in a tight suit. The flash from the camera made his brylcreemed hair look like he had a halo. I handed it back making appreciative noises.

I was in a quandary. If what they were saying about being fully booked was right, then we were looking at the Bridlington event of the year, nay the decade. On the other hand, I couldn't get my head around what exactly this Literotica thing was. I took the web address from Cynthia and said I'd look into it. I left having asked Cynth to keep me abreast of what went on and threatening Kevin that if he tried to keep me out of the loop again the Globe's chief entertainment correspondent (me, incidentally) would write the truth the next time he asked for a review of one of the broken down, seventies pop acts he normally foisted on his punters.

I barely slept that night. I found Literotica's site, logged on, and spent the next eight hours reading. And masturbating. Then reading a bit more. And... suffice it to say, my willy had not had so much hand action since I was a kid and Miss Turnbull, our biology teacher, leaned her massive boobs against my arm for a whole period while helping me with my exam revision. By the end of the night I was their biggest fan. I couldn't understand why no one had told me about the site before.

I dragged myself out of bed about eight and dosed up with caffeine. My journalistic instincts told me that this was the opportunity of a lifetime. By dinner time I was potentially richer than I had ever been in my life. I had a cast iron freelance contract with one of Rupert Murdoch's rags for a daily piece to be based loosely on the theme of sleepy seaside town rocked by tsunami of filth; the equally sleazy, but slightly more respectable, tabloid run by another off-shore, tax-dodging corporation wanted a two thousand word feature for their Sunday edition on the erosion of morals in modern society; a financial broadsheet commissioned a comment piece on the threat of Internet publishers to the modern book market - just so long as I could guarantee at least two photographs of scantily-clad women to accompany it; and finally, the country's leading liberal daily asked me to do a think piece on the role of the amateur author in the modern literary world - again, they wanted a guarantee of exclusive photographs to break up my breathless prose. Perverts. Very gentille, but perverts nonetheless. The photo-agency I usually dealt with told me they'd take as many pictures as I could send them.

'Plenty of tits, but no fannies. You might get away with a bit of pubic hair if you're lucky. We sell to family publications, you know, we have to maintain certain standards.'

Yeah right, I thought, as I turned my mind to getting all my local ducks in a row.

With Julian away, to all intents and purposes Eric and I were responsible for putting the next week's paper out. I went round to see him. There was no point in me trying to explain to him how to find the site over the phone. Once we'd found a search engine which still worked with Windows 95, I got him onto Literotica so he could see what I was talking about and we set up a schedule for the next week's work to be covered.

'We'll get the work experience kids to do most of the graft, I just need you in the office to cover anything that crops up.' 'I don't know John, I'm not as young as I used to be.' 'I'll get you in to the bash at the weekend.' 'Well.' 'And give you twenty percent of what I earn from the freelance stuff.' 'How much we talking?' 'At least twenty grand.' 'Done. I'll see you at eight on Monday.'

I took the rest of the day doing in-depth research. By the time I fell asleep my knob was red raw and I was worried I might get repetitive strain injury of the wrist. When I rolled up at the office, Eric was already there. He was ensconced in Julian's office; we'd commandeered it as a centre-of-operations for the week. Walls have ears and we didn't want news of our money-spinner getting out. He looked like shit: his hands were shaking and his eyes were bloodshot. He had a large mug of very black coffee and a quarter bottle of scotch in front of him. It was clear he had mastered the Internet. He gestured for me to shut the door.

'I've been reading that Literotica stuff.' 'Yes?' 'It's pretty steamy some of it.' 'It is.'

I had no idea what he was driving at.

'I read some of the incest/taboo stories.' 'Interesting choice for starters.'

I'd concentrated on first times, group sex and loving wives for the first twelve hours or so. I only branched out later when I had got used to the authors' styles.

'There was this one bird writing about shagging her kids.' 'And?' 'OK. She was shagging her mates' and their kids as well.' 'I sort-of think that's what the incest/taboo section's all about, don't you?'

He drew himself straighter as if I was casting aspersions on his sophistication.

'Of course. But she... She...'

He sat up in his chair to look over my shoulder through the glass wall of the office as if to check there was no one close to the door.

'Just go and check there's no one listening will you?'

I laughed at first, but as he looked increasingly insistent I went to the door and looked out. The work experiencers were trickling in; all bleary-eyed and pasty. Obviously they'd all had good weekends too. I sat back down and looked at Eric.

'It said in her biography that this lass was from Yorkshire.' 'So?' 'Well I mean. Come on.' 'What?' 'Yorkshire lad. God's own county. There'll be none of that sort of thing going on round here. Will there?'

He looked genuinely worried, so I suppressed my urge to burst out laughing.

'Maybe she's from Barnsley?' 'Or Leeds. Yeah, that'll be it. She'll be one of those slappers from Leeds. They're all funny buggers in that neck of the woods.'

He reached across the desk and grasped my hand.

'Thanks John, you've set my mind to rest. I was up half the night fretting. Have you seen our Natalie? I don't know how that wanker she's married to shags her, let alone...'

He shuddered.

'It doesn't bear thinking about.' 'That's OK, Eric. That's what friends are for. I'd stick to erotic couplings for a bit, if I were you. Sort of ease yourself in to the steamier stuff.'

He nodded his relieved agreement and turned back to the lap top which was open to one side of him. I went out to get more coffee for myself and to set the troops their assignments. I felt a bit bad not objecting to what he'd said about his daughter. She wasn't the best looker I'd ever had. She'd been cursed with her father's facial characteristics. But she had a knock-out body and went like a steam train. We'd enjoyed a brief liaison while she'd been engaged to the bank manager she eventually married. She was definitely in my top ten locals.

I also felt a bit hypocritical accepting the thanks of the underlings when I landed them with all the work for the week. I told them it was their opportunity to get some by-lines and prove their worth. They were pathetically grateful. The acne-cursed post-adolescent who was the Globe's only other paid reporter tried to make out it had all been his idea. He'd do anything to try and get into the girls' pants. He was zero-for-four from the latest crop. One of them, Erica I think she was called, made a point of taking me on one side after the meeting and thanking me personally.

'If there's anything I can do. You know, outside office hours, to show my gratitude, you only have to ask.'

She handed me a piece of paper with her mobile number on it and gave me a good view of her mini-skirted bubble butt as she swayed over to the coat rack to ready herself for a trip to the courts. The biggest assignment of her reporting career. I pulled out my mobile to call the chief clerk and tell him to take care of her. On an impulse I stabbed her number into my personal directory. I had a strict policy of not going after work colleagues. Experience had taught me it was too much hassle in the long run. But Erica wasn't going to be with us that long and she definitely qualified for the back burner. I looked around. The office was as near to a hive of activity as I had ever seen it. I went back to Julian's hidey-hole to use the land line to call Cynthia.

'Everything going OK, Cynth? Anything to report?' 'Not really John? I've booked a couple of those firms selling sex toys to set up stalls and a Goth band from Whitby to play on Saturday night. His lordship's panicking we won't have enough burgers and what not. I've told him we'll have a riot if he tries to pass off the greasy slabs of reconstituted gristle we usually sell to people who know what the real thing tastes like. But you know him, just stick to typing Cynthia love. I'll deal with the business end of things.'

I laughed. I could picture the scene. I liked Cynthia. She was efficient and under-appreciated like a lot of women who would never be promoted. She was also the best exponent of the art of fellatio this side of the Pennines. She suddenly sounded a bit more cheerful.

'I've got something for you.' 'You have?'

I checked my watch. Everything was ticking over here. Perhaps I could make time to drive out for a quickie.

'Press credentials. Exclusive like. Access all areas.' 'Great. I only emailed them yesterday.' 'Yeah. They said originally they didn't want media involved, but seeing as you were the only one who asked anyway. They said OK.' 'Brilliant. I'll probably pop over tomorrow to see how things are going. Late afternoon?' 'See you then. One of those Literotica's sent me a picture of his dick with the booking. He's arriving tomorrow.' 'Problem?' 'Nah. I've put him in twenty-five right by the office. I quite liked the look of it.'

We hung up laughing. I spent the rest of the afternoon knocking out the articles I was going to sell. The great thing about the British press is the high professional standards: as long as you don't lie about someone who might sue, you can print whatever they'll give you cash for. Facts optional. I finished my week's freelance work in two hours and days before anything was due to happen.

It was a good job I did, because the next day the chaos that was Literotica exploded. Sunnydene Holiday Park (and Spa, apparently) is one of those places where booking for a week is only a few quid more than the cost of a weekend. The night before a couple of hundred early-adopters had turned up and the American flight was due in that evening. I got a call from Kev just as Eric and I were congratulating each other on the smooth-running ship we had launched. We were speculating as to which pub we might drink our lunch in when the phone rang.

'You've got to help me.' 'I do?' 'You're the only one with the contacts.' 'I am?'

There was a lot in the press about sexual harassment. My immediate thought was that Kevin had been fingered for something like that. I doubted he was anywhere near the top of anyone's list of high-profile targets, so if I was right, I was looking forward to hearing something really juicy.

'We're out of johnnies.' 'What?' 'There's not a condom in the place. Site shop, all the toilets; Ladies as well. It was like a rabbit warren on viagra here last night. I hardly got a wink for the banging of chalet doors. And I mean that in all possibly ways. One woman's drilled through hers to make a glory hole. It's bedlam.' 'Can't you call your suppliers?'

He wailed.

'They can't make it 'til Tuesday.' 'Calm down, Kev. It's Tuesday today.' 'Next fucking Tuesday, you idiot. Sorry about that, I'm a little het up.' 'Hm. What about those sex shop people Cynth told me about? Haven't they got a stock?' 'Arrived about half-an-hour ago. Came in one of those big Transit's packed with stuff. The guests went through it like a plague of locusts. The woman in charge is calling her bosses asking them to send an articulated lorry if they can.' 'Bloody hell. this is big. Tell you what, I'll see if our business team can help out. I'll let you know.' 'Anything. I've got a lad cycling round all the pubs within five miles with a rucksack full of pound coins. Be as quick as you can.'

My text-tone pinged as I hung up. It was a message from Cynthia.

'Been asked where the nearest helipad is. Any ideas? Lol.'

This was getting curiouser and curiouser. I went back to my own desk and flicked through my card index of local contacts. I was the mere business reporter. Julian kept the chief correspondent monicker for himself. He lived in the constant hope that some property developer with more money than sense would one day be in touch wanting to bribe the local press with a nice holiday somewhere warm. I was looking for the number of Cecilia Jones: pharmacist and local legend.

Cecilia ran the only remaining independent chemist's shop in town. All the others had sold-out to one of the two big chains years ago. She had something of a reputation. Yorkshirewomen are known for their independence of spirit; Cecilia went above and beyond. She didn't take shit from anyone. She had gained local, then regional, and finally national fame at the start of the AIDS epidemic in the eighties. She had caused local shock and outrage when the disease was still considered a gay plague by plastering her display window with a huge image of Lord Kitchener from the World War One recruiting posters bearing the legend AIDS Is Coming For You. Use a Condom.

'I knew a lot of the patients I was filling prescriptions for were married. It was only a matter of time before it spread if no one did anything.'

She told me a few years later. Her shop was picketed first by evangelicals threatening her and anyone who shopped there with eternal damnation and later by the British Legion whipped into action by Tory politicians and their rabid tabloid attack dogs. She was even arrested, but released when a hugely expensive London barrister - his fees were paid by someone down south - rolled up at the local cop shop. Gossip had it he had threatened the chief constable with the Tower. She steadfastly refused the later honours proffered by organisations wanting to recognise her pioneering work. She did keep a thick file of letters and cards from medics and patients struggling with the social stigma though. It included a handwritten note from Princess Diana.

If Bridlington was facing a prophylactic crisis, she was the woman to sort it. I picked her and her granddaughter up an hour later from the small shop in the narrow back streets of the Old Town.

'Eh up, John. Been a while.' 'Sorry about that, I've been keeping too well obviously.' 'This is our Annette. Cynth's arranging for her to have a table somewhere prominent. Should keep the randy sod's stocked. I've every rubber from every shop in town. And I've put my wholesaler on high alert.'

Annette returned my greeting from the back seat where she was invisible behind three of the largest cartons I'd ever seen. Cecilia had one of those tightly-permed hair-dos which befit a lady of advancing years; and twinkling blue eyes which betrayed that a fire for life still burned. We spent the journey swapping boasts about our personal uses of the products she was marketing. And when I explained about Literotica she broadened her anecdotes to include acts which didn't require protection. There were a lot of them. Poor Annette tried and failed to interrupt with her periodic, embarrassed cries of Gran!.

Sunnydene was a hive of activity. I'm not joking. The place was buzzing; I'd never seen anything like it. Usually when you turned up there the few people you'd see were oldsters dragging suitcases, grandkids in tow, searching for their billet for the night. I wondered whether some of them ever did. We were stopped at the gate by a young man in a uniform. I'm not sure exactly what sort of uniform. It had lots of braid and gold buttons and he was wearing a peaked cap. Both lapels, however, were festooned with badges so he was clearly not military. He looked at me suspiciously, then at the legs protruding from under the boxes in the back and finally circled the car scratching his chin.

'You'd better go down to car park B.' 'But we're here to deliver a few condoms and have a quick word with Kev and Cynth if they're free.' 'No chance. You'll have to carry them. They're towing anything that's not in its proper place.' 'They?' 'I think it's a couple of the boys from the Gay Lit section at the moment. I wouldn't fuck with them. 'Scuse my language madam.'

It was unclear from his tone whether he was expressing his own sexual preference, or trepidation at the thought of confronting them. Cecilia dismissed his apology with an imperious wave of her hand. He pointed to a sign indicating where we were supposed to go and strolled back to a car which had pulled in behind us.

I should explain. I drive a Morris Minor, now over fifty years old. I'm no veteran car buff though, I got it because a guy with a garage specialising in renovations lived next door to me when I first moved up here. It was cheap and he promised to fix it if anything went wrong. It's easier to get round Brid by bike. I only use it for journeys to the edge of town. The Minor, for those of you who aren't familiar with British motoring history, has a thousand cc engine and looks like a fat tortoise. It was killed off by the arrival of the mini, but I still find someone examining it lovingly when I park somewhere strange. Takes bloody ages to stop them telling me about when their dad or granddad had one.

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