Life & Art


Her legs were open and drawn up almost as if she were frozen in that position.

The shock was such that I could not speak, but I entered the back of the van and moved towards Carla. Suddenly I stopped. She stared at me glassily, saying nothing. Over her face and hair I saw a white creamy substance, some of it already caked dry. More of the substance was drying between her breasts, and as I looked down I saw the same substance oozing out of her vagina, and from what I could see, also from her anus.

Her body was covered from neck to thighs with savage bite marks rapidly turning into vicious bruises, and her breasts were badly marked and her nipples were raw.

I turned savagely on Jeremy. "What the hell have you done to Carla, you bastards."

I swung a punch at him and felt myself grabbed by the arms by the other two men.

"Dear oh dear, we mustn't get violent, sweetheart," he sniggered. You're a big strong boy, but there are three of us and one of you and it's no use going screaming to the cops about rape, because we've only done what she asked us to do to her. You can ask her yourself."

"My God, darling, you're lucky lad to have her to fuck. We only get her occasionally. Though why she got herself married to a bloody office boy I don't know. Now you ask Carla whether she's had a good time or not."

Still held by the two men, I called out to Carla, "Did you want the…did you ask them to do this to you?"

She seemed to have difficulty speaking, as if her tongue was thickened, but finally came out with, "Of course I did, stupid."

As she said this, more of the creamy substance came dribbling out of her mouth. Sperm, of course.

"There you are Peter, darling, Jeremy said, "Now, we are going to let you go, but don't try anything or you'll be the one who gets hurt."

I was released, and he went on, "Now be a good boy and take little wifey home. She's feeling a bit tired, so don't try to fuck her tonight. She's already been fucked about nine or ten times."

I felt utterly helpless, and as much as I wanted to kill Jeremy, I saw my chances were hopeless.

I got into the van and started to put some clothing on Carla. The three men stood watching, amused. Carla winced and moaned as I touched her. There was the stench of stale sex about her as if it were seeping from every pore of her body, and her breath was foul. Here hair, matted with sperm, hung down like ragged rat's tails.

My goddess not only had feet of clay, she smelt as if she had a body made of decaying garbage.

"Hurry up and get the cow out of the van," Jeremy snarled, "I can't wait all night."

I managed to get Carla moving and standing on her feet behind the van. I turned to Jeremy.

"One day, bastard, I'll meet you when you haven't got your boyfriends with you."

"Don't count on it, sweetie," he jeered.

Every step was agony for Carla, so I sat her on the steps and went to get the car. As I walked away, I heard the van start and drive off.

I got my car, drove to where I had left Carla, and put her onto the back seat. Even if she could have managed to sit in the front seat, I now had such a sense of repugnance I didn't want her near me.

I got her home and half dragged her into the shower. She seemed incapable of helping herself, so I had to wash her, removing other men's sperm from my wife's body. Drying her as gently as I could, I got her into bed, fetched her a drink and aspirin, and sat by the bed until she fell into a noisy restless sleep.

I left her and as is so often the case in the face of a shocking event, reaction started to set in. I was shaking all over, and only just made it in time to the bathroom to vomit. I vomited so hard and long I thought I would bring my heart up.

When I finally stopped being sick I showered as if I wanted the cleanse myself of some defilement. I went and lay on the bed in what we called our "second bedroom," but there as no chance of sleep. Not only the ghastly events of that evening, but the realisation that things had been happening with Carla and other men, and it must have begun soon after we were married.

Humiliation and self-loathing accompanied a feeling of revulsion regarding Carla. I felt I should have tried to beat Jeremy to a pulp despite his two bullyboys, but what would have been the point. The deed or deeds had been done at Carla's behest, and I would have ended up a bloody mess, unable to help Carla and needing help myself.

At first light I got off the bed and went to the kitchen to make myself some strong coffee. Wondering if Carla was awake I went with a cup of coffee and looked into the bedroom. She was awake, propped up against the pillows in much the same way as she had been slumped against the back of the car seat, her eyes half closed as they had been then.

I stood beside the bed looking down at her. "I've brought you a cup of coffee."

She looked at me blearily, and said in a hoarse whisper, "So you're not going to be silly and make a fuss, are you?"

I made no response to her question and simply asked, "Why, Carla?"

She was obviously having difficulty speaking, and I conjectured that the men had thrust their penises so far down her throat, damage had been done.

She swallowed some of the coffee and winced as if in pain.

"Oh God," she rasped, "you are going to be difficult. If you must know, for the life experience."

"Experience!" I exclaimed.

"Full on, no boundaries, no hold's barred. Being fucked and physically abused, made to suffer. Bloody wonderful."

She lapsed into silence for a moment, then she pushed back the bed covers, and exposed her weal and bruise battered body. Opening her legs she said, "Like to fuck me now darling? Just think, three other men have fucked me until I could hardly stand. Be exciting for you."

I emotionally and physically recoiled.

"No, the bloody little office boy doesn't want to 'experience', does he! Too fastidious. Bloody prig. No wonder I had to get my real fucks elsewhere. Only married you because I was hard up."

"You married me because you were pregnant."

"Oh God," she gave a painful gasping laugh, "you're so bloody naïve. I thought even you would be able to work that one out."

"You knew you weren't pregnant?"

" 'Course I knew I wasn't, stupid bastard."

I felt my guts start to contract again wanting to vomit. I fled to the bathroom, but there was only coffee to bring up.

I washed my face and returned to the bedroom.

"Poor little boy can't stand a bit of reality, eh?" she sneered.

I looked at her lying on the bed, legs still open. I saw the goddess now for what she was a squalid ugly idol. All that had made me desire her, I now saw for what it was, a delusion. What had always been there on the inside, but covered by the mask of physical beauty, was now on the surface and actually marring that beauty.

Perhaps if I had been a better man, some sort of saint, I might at that moment have had pity on her, but I was so caught up in my own misery, I had no pity to spare for her. For long afterwards I was to remember that my last act of love had been to take her a cup of coffee.

That morning I telephoned the office to say I was too sick to attend work. I packed what personal possession I could into the car, and telling Carla I would send for the rest later, I went to a motel and booked a room.

Throughout my preparations to leave, Carla kept a barrage of abuse interspersed with pleadings.

"Peter, darling, don't be so silly, you're just being old fashioned," would change to "How am I supposed to pay the rent for this fucking flat, you shit?"

Her last words as I departed where, "You're a fucking slug that crawled out of a primordial swamp, you useless bastard. What woman will ever want an arsehole like you unless she's hard up like I was!"

The sting of those words was to stay with me for a long time.

There now began a time of inner torment for me. However much I tried to tell myself that Carla was mentally unbalanced, there lurked within me a feeling of inadequacy. I thought I had given all I could to Carla and our marriage, but it hadn't been enough. I felt as a heavyweight boxer must feel who has just landed his best punch, and his opponent simply shakes his head, and comes on for more.

Carla had said that I did not want to "experience," but she was wrong. I had experienced – experienced her, and the effect on me proved devastating.

I found myself to be sexually impotent, almost as if I had been emasculated. I was wary of every woman who came my way. I went to work and came home to sit in front of the television day after day. I wanted the minimum contact with people and women especially. I nursed my bitterness and pain as a child might hug a teddy bear.

I went on in this state for nearly two years. I filed for divorce, and Carla did not even bother to turn up for the hearing. In fact, I neither saw of heard anything of her.

One tiny glimmer of light came into my darkened world when a colleague, Steve, asked me to attend his thirtieth birthday party. My first inclination was to make some excuse not to go, but for whatever reason, he seemed so keen that I should go, I decided it would be churlish to refuse.

At the birthday celebration, I found myself in the midst of a happy family gathering. Along with the relatives were some other colleagues from work, neighbours and other friends.

The good cheer and laughter I found to be almost unbearable as it contrasted with my own inner state so markedly. I found my mind going back to the night of the art exhibition, with all its artificiality, "dear", "darling" and "sweetheart", mouthed so readily and meaning so little.

I tried to find corners in which I could remain unnoticed, yet felt an appalling loneliness. I looked with bitter envy at the husbands and wives, the sweethearts and the children. "If only…" I thought. If only what?

"Come and meet my baby sister," a voice behind me said.

I turned to see the smiling face of Steve, my host.

"Wendy keeps asking who the sad looking man is, so I thought she might as well meet you."

He led me into another room and up to what at first I thought to be a young girl, perhaps fifteen or sixteen. She was small – perhaps five feet one inch tall, and slender. She was talking to a couple, but turned as we approached. I had looked at her without any particular interest, but then the sight of her full faced was startling.

I have since then tried to find the phrase that would describe the impression she made on me, but everything I have come up with has seemed inadequate.

She was like a burst of sunlight on a gloomy day; a lovely flower; a maiden out of some medieval romance. Perhaps it will sound foolish, but I associated her with an experience I once had during a lunch time break at work.

It was Springtime. It had been a bitter winter, and the dreariness had lingered on into Spring. I had had a rather depressing morning at work, with problem after problem arising. At lunchtime I took my sandwiches and went for a walk. I went up a lane that ran beside the building I worked in. There were the remains of an old hedgerow with hawthorn bushes. As I passed, I paid no particular attention to them.

I finished my lunch and walked back. As I approached the bushes, they seemed to have burst into pink and white blossoms between my first passing and my return. Spring had come and I felt my spirits lift.

A long forgotten verse from the bible came into my mind: "For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land."

As my colleague said, "This is my sister, Wendy; Wendy, my work colleague, Peter, the words resounded in my head once more, "For, lo, the winter is past."

Wendy smiled and extending her hand said, "Hello Peter."

I felt her hand, warm and firm in mine.

I think for a moment, I must have stood gaping at her, taking in her features. I could see that she was older than the fifteen or sixteen I had taken her to be. "Probably nineteen or twenty," I decided.

She had a heart shaped face with ash blonde hair cut short but obviously carefully styled. She had a slightly turned up nose and a bow shaped mouth. She looked at me with laughing blue eyes. Her figure was slim, with no signs of large breast development.

I could not help but recall when I first saw and lusted for Carla, with her enticing garment barely concealing her large breasts. By contrast, Wendy was dressed modestly, as if seeking no salacious male attentions.

Wendy looked fresh and clean, and had nothing of the heavy sensual odour that Carla exuded. I felt no lust for her, but I did feel embraced by warmth.

I stammered some response to the introduction and hoped that it did not sound too inane. If it did, Wendy was equal to dealing with it. Excusing herself with the people she had been chatting with, she said, "Come and talk to me Peter, you seem to have been on your own all evening. Let's go into the garden."

She actually took me by the hand and led me out into the garden to a seat where we sat.

The conversation that ensued was nothing heavy or demanding. Wendy played no coquettish games. She asked about my work, were I lived, did I like music, had I seen any good films lately.

God knows how I answered. Since I had been shut up in my world of grief for so long I had seen no films and taken no interest in music or anything else.

As Wendy chatted on, I learned that she was studying to be a speech therapist, and since her graduation was only twelve months off, I had to revise her age upwards again. She had to be twenty-three or four. Wariness was still with me, but when after about an hour Wendy said, I really must go and talk to some of the other people now, to my amazement she added, "Since you haven't seen any films lately, how about coming with me to see one on Saturday?"

Instantly I recalled Carla's invitation to the ballet and its outcome. Yet looking at Wendy, she seemed so ingenuous, so…so artless in her invitation, I accepted. We made the necessary arrangements for me to pick her up, and she left me to attend to other guests.

I left the party soon after and made my way to the flat I now lived in a bewildered man. How had I come to accept Wendy's invitation, and why did she make it in the first place.

Away from the influence of her eager friendliness, the light she had shed seemed to fade, and my defense mechanism came into action. No woman was going to dupe me ever again. I began to think of ways I might excuse myself for not going out with her on Saturday.

Next day, my birthday boy colleague, Steve, asked me how I'd got along with Wendy.

I said something like, "Very well."

He went on, "You know, although she's my sister, I must say she's about the nicest woman I know, short of Pauline (his wife). That's one of her troubles, you see. There's been plenty of blokes after her, but as soon as they try anything and won't take 'no' for an answer, she ends the relationship. She's going to make some lucky sod a wonderful wife one day, but she's so particular when it comes to men."

What he said did not seem to fit with the fact that Wendy had tried to date me within an hour of our first meeting. I made no comment except to agree that yes, "she will make someone a wonderful wife," and felt a bit of a hypocrite because my suspicions made me sceptical about her.

My Saturday evening with Wendy produced no passionate hand clasping or kissing, and no invitation to take her to bed. Distrustful of what might seem to be maidenly virtue, I decided the lack of such an invitation could be put down to the fact that she still lived in her parent's home.

Never the less, for all its seeming lack of sexual ardour, I found myself once more bathed in the light and warmth of Wendy's presence. It may have been this, or merely the felt need to return the invitation, that led me to invite Wendy to go out with me the following day.

I offered her the choice of what we should do, and was dumbfounded when she said, "Could we go up to one of the mountain streams and do some fly-fishing?"

I explained to her that I had never been fly-fishing and therefore had no tackle. This was met with an offer to loan me some tackle and the reassurance that she would show me what to do.

The fly-fishing expedition did not produce much in the way of fish. I caught none, but managed to entangle the line in bushes a number of times. Wendy caught one, but said it was too small, and threw it back. In the coming months, further such expeditions took place, and I did actually catch a few fish.

Wendy was caught up in her final years of studies, but we managed to go out together at least once a week. The goings out involved nothing overtly sexual. To what extent this was due to me, is hard to say. To put it bluntly, and using the standard jargon, I could no longer, "get it up." This had been the case since my departure from Carla.

On the other hand, Wendy made no sexual moves, unless holding hands could be classified as erotic advances. She simply appeared to like my company, and I, having started putting aside my early suspicions, found myself basking in the sunshine of her presence.

Not only was being with her very different from how it had been with Carla, it was different from any of the girls and women I had associated with. With them, sex entered into the relationship very quickly.

I did wonder if had I been as potent as I once was whether I would have continued to date Wendy if there was no sex. That, I suppose, is a question I shall never be able to finally answer.

This low key, "Platonic" relationship, went on throughout the year up until Wendy passed her "Finals." She gained an excellent degree and was quickly snapped up by the Royal City Hospital.

The dating continued, and it included meals with her family, and taking Wendy to meet my mother whom lived in a country town.

"Much nicer than that Carla, you married," was mother's comment. "When are you thinking of getting married?"

"We're not, mother."

"More fool you, then," was her motherly summary of my failure, as she put it, to "Snap the girl up."

It was around eighteen months after our first meeting that Wendy became restless in my company. I thought it might be to do with her work as a speech therapist, but from what I could tell, she seemed to be happy and well settled into what she was doing. She was well paid, and as we always shared the costs of going out, and she had more leisure time, we did a lot more going out.

If popular myths are to be believed, men are predatory creatures in search of sex with any female they can persuade into the act. For reasons I have given, I was not of that bent. I felt I had a lovely warm friendship with Wendy, but was to discover I was as mistaken about her as I had been about Carla. Fortunately, however, not in the same way as with Carla.

The first intimation about the reality of Wendy's relationship with me came from her bother, Steve.

At lunchtime at work one day he laughingly said to me, "Do you know what Wendy said to me before I introduced the two of you?"

Curious, I asked, "What?"

"She was looking at you sitting all forlorn, and she said, 'He looks very sad, but I think I'd like to marry him'."

"Before she even met me?"

"Yes, odd isn't it, but that's Wendy for you."

Nothing further was said, but it gave me something to think about and inkling as to why Wendy seemed so restless.

After some late night anguishing over what might be going on in Wendy's mind, I knew I would need, in all fairness to her, say something. How I would broach the subject and what I would go on to say eluded me, however.

The moment came during one of our fishing expeditions. The trout were being recalcitrant, stubbornly refusing to swallow our flies. We had given up casting and were sitting on the bank of the stream. I spoke out, not boldly, but at least I spoke.

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