‘Order in the court.’ called the right honourable Judge Dick McManus who was presiding over the trial.
There had been uproar when the last witness left the stand and this trial was in danger of spiralling out of control. Judge McManus banged his gavel down three times to reiterate the call and gradually the noise was dulled to murmurs and finally, silence.
‘Counsellor Wang you will call your next witness and please make sure that they only answer those questions which are put directly to them. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury you will disregard the final statements made by the previous witness. Counsellor, please proceed.’
‘Certainly your honour. The defence calls Roger Bottomley to the stand.’
Again a flurry of excitement swept round the courtroom like wildfire. The trial all hinged on this one witness, who the defence would now try to cast as being unreliable at best, or a liar at worst. Roger Bottomley made his way on to the stand – unshaven, tired and weary but with a steely determination which could be seen in the hard set of his rugged jawline, piercing blue eyes and luxuriously full head of hair.
Defence Counsellor Wang stood up and straightened his wig before approaching the bench.
‘Mr Bottomley would you say you are an observant man?’
‘In what sense?’
‘In the sense that you remember details of what you see accurately.’
‘I would say so yes, relatively speaking.’
‘Relatively speaking? Yet you claim to have identified my client by catching a fleeting glimpse of him through a window, in the dark.’
‘I know what I saw.’
‘Mr Bottomley, can you please confirm your address for the jury?’
‘124 Burton Lane, Braysdale, West Yorkshire…HD6 7EQ’
‘And you have lived at that address with your wife Selia for the past 27 years up until her most lamentably tragic and enormously undignified death is that correct?’
For the first time in the trial, the merest hint of a smile passed across Counsellor Wang’s lips.
‘I wonder, Mr Bottomley, if you might tell us then the name of the street which is two along from yours on the left, as you leave your front door?’
The silence seemed to fill the room like an unexploded bomb. Not everyone in the courtroom knew what Defence Counsel Wang was driving at here, but some did. And they knew it could spell disaster for the trial. Roger Bottomley took a moment to compose himself before answering, and when he did he spoke slowly, carefully and in a richly seductive voice with just a hint of intensely masculine gravel. It was a true voice, a voice to be believed.
‘I know, Mr Wang, exactly what it is you are trying to do. I want the ladies and gentlemen of the jury to recognise it for the cheap and lazy tactic which it undoubtedly is so I choose my words very carefully indeed. The second street on the left did not murder my wife Selia, so I would have little reason to remember it. That despicable act was carried out by the defendant here today. It is he who is on trial for the perpetration of this heinous, although deliciously ironic crime.
The sight of my wife being forcibly smothered to death with her own Victoria’s Secret neglige is not something I am likely to forget. One might even ask how it was even possible given the scantness and relative porosity of the material but I want the jury to know that I would recognise that man anywhere as I have thought of little else since. His face is etched in to my mind, and indeed my soul for ever more and I just hope that my poor, poor Selia gets the justice she deserves here today.
And in answer to your question, the second street on the left is Woodcock Lane. Look it up on Google maps you contemptible fucking parasite.’
Absolute pandemonium in the courtroom.
‘Order, order.’ said the judge. ‘I will have order in this court……..’
‘Roger…Roger? Erm…earth to Roger?’
Much laughter from everyone. Roger had drifted off again.
Roger Bottomley was viciously kicked out of his fantastical daydream and awoken by the familiar sounds of laughter, of which he was the subject.
‘Yes?’ said Roger.
‘Oh good you’re with us.’ said Diane. Lovely sexy, horrible Diane. ‘We were just asking for the quarterly figures for all incoming telephone calls successfully answered within 15 seconds.’
‘Oh yes, yes I’ve got those here of course.’
‘Thank you Roger.’ Patronising bitch.
Roger began thumbing through his notebook, nervously messing with his hair and flicking his combover back the wrong way in the process so his remaining hair stood straight up on end and lent him the appearance of an inmate of Bedlam.
‘We could always push this back to after lunch if you like?’ cooed Diane – indefatigably, viciously feminine Diane. ‘Give you more time to prepare?’
Laughter again, such mirth from the inexorable mob.
Roger Bottomley had worked for DH Shipping & Freight Solutions for the past 24 years and during that time had worked his way up on a trajectory marginally above horizontal, to the rank of assistant Director of IT & Telecoms. Roger was not particularly skilled in either of these disciplines. Certainly not like the youth of today who design video games and learn Mandarin before the age of 8. Fortunately though Roger’s job consisted mainly of keeping detailed records of things like telephone lines and broadband connections. Managing the contracts and chasing suppliers for credits when their bills came through incorrectly every month.
For almost a quarter of a century he had blended in to the dull grey background of a dull grey company and now here he was, at the annual conference in Banbury, in this godawful motorway hotel conference suite being called upon for information which had just that second upped and scarpered straight out the back door of his mind and over the fence of his consciousness.
All of a sudden, Roger Bottomley was extremely aware of the black satin g-string he was wearing beneath his trousers, and how at that precise moment, it seemed to have tightened its grip on his balls.
Roger was a sissy. At least that’s what his wife Selia had told him very recently, in their quiet suburban bedroom, as beams of light shone through the magnolia curtains and illuminated tiny specs of dancing, twirling dust particles which congregated like effervescent fireflies and shrouded themselves around a middle aged man, clad head to toe in Agent Provocateur’s Spring/Summer collection. This had been Selia’s idea. Selia who was herself clad in black, thigh high boots and pacing the room carrying a riding crop.
How in the name of all Merry Hell had it come to this? Had been Roger’s thought at the time. He wasn’t really aware of having agreed to any of this. The knickers he didn’t mind. Selia had suggested it playfully one day when Roger was taking laundry out of the machine. He’d cracked his usual joke;
‘Are these yours or mine?’
And Selia had given her standard response, ‘why don’t you try them on to make sure?’
They’d laughed at this as usual, laughter being the by-product that’s left over once real intimacy has given way to stoic tolerance over the years. The sticking plaster used to cover the necrotic wound.
‘I’m serious.’ she’d said the words in a tone which Roger had never heard before. And before he knew what he was really doing he’d stripped completely and was standing there in Selia’s peach coloured silk knickers. He felt a rush of exhilaration, some strange memories were triggered; his older sister Jennifer and her friends messing with him. Putting make-up on him and dressing him up in their clothes, their bras and their tights.
The fabric felt pleasant, that was for sure but it was something else, the feeling of giving yourself over to someone else’s pleasure, someone’s amusement. The idea that, in being humiliated, one can achieve a strange state of transcendence, even arousal. Roger couldn’t have identified this feeling as a young child but now it was unmistakeable – thundering back across all those repressed years like a fucking exocet missile straight to the prostate. How he wished it could’ve missed him.
Selia had walked slowly across the bedroom towards him that day and then grabbed him firmly by the crotch.
‘Now get dressed. But keep them on until I say.’
That first episode had then lead to Selia dominating Roger in every conceivable manner she could think of. The lingerie, the slapping, the riding crop. The…other things.
Men and women go one of two ways once they reach the onset of middle age. They either stride out across the unknown wilderness of the time they have left, constantly searching for new experiences to enrich their latter years. Scouting the highest highs and the lowest depths to make sure they’ve missed nothing on their travels across these earthly plains.
Or they find a comfortable place to curl up and keep out the cold while they wait for death to come and gently take them.
Roger was the latter, deep down he knew it. Selia though, well she was the explorer. The intrepid leader of the expedition. If only it had stopped there.
Roger didn’t mind wearing the pants, in fact he enjoyed it but the other stuff he found himself getting dragged in to, well, let’s just say if you’re going to get in to S&M then whoever is being the M better make sure they actually like it before they agree. Or at the very least not be too damned polite to just go along with it.
He should’ve said something, should’ve spoken up. Put a stop to it before it got this far. Before the only image left in his mind going over and over on an endless loop was nothing but….
Roger? Roger are you sure you’re quite well? Honestly we can take a short break?
Diane again. Roger hadn’t given her a reply to her last question and had alarmed everyone in the room by sitting in silence for at least 30 seconds before snapping his 2B pencil in half.
Roger always used a 2B pencil, he was left handed and using a pencil meant you never smudged ink across your page.
This was probably the most interesting thing anyone could say about Roger. If he died and his colleagues were asked to say a few words at his funeral it would probably go something like…
‘I remember he always used a 2B pencil to write with. He was left handed you see and he always said…’
‘Hold on, Kevin, sorry we’ve already had that one you’ll need to think of something else.’
Roger looked at the two halves of pencil in his hand, the splintered wood and the broken core.
‘Yes I might need time to review my notes.’
Uncontrollable sniggering from everyone at the table.
‘OK’ smiled Diane. ‘Well I think that’s lunch anyway. The buffet’s down the other end of the corridor if you’d all like to make your way.’
The grey suits rose from their uncomfortable chairs and filed out the double doors in search of the beige buffet. Roger followed, lagging behind.
As Roger walked slowly around the trestle tables with his paper plate, eyeing the stale sandwiches and sausage rolls and avoiding any form of interaction with his peers he started to think about his father. A man to whom, ‘being a man’ was the very most important thing in the whole world.
‘Be a man. Toughen up. Stick up for yourself.’
Roger had heard little else growing up, although now he realised that what he’d really been hearing was;
‘Punish those closest to you for your insecurities. Make people feel weak so they don’t notice your weakness.’
You see this everywhere in life. It never goes away.
Cuckolding. That had been the final step in Selia’s journey. She’d somehow made out that it would be good for them, that in some way it would bring them closer together. Maybe Roger was glad. Maybe this was the final act in him shutting down, relinquishing control completely and giving himself over to the gaping void. His father would’ve called it the final erosion of his masculinity.
The idea that watching another man have sex with your wife would enrich your marriage might have made sense to people whom Roger would consider more interesting than himself. He wondered if he would even care. Turns out he did.
Roger nibbled a dry ham sandwich and relived the memory. His wife of 27 years groaning and wailing in passion as a much younger man, a Frenchman if you can believe that, with a fetish for the older woman dished her out the sort of treatment which Roger had never even contemplated would’ve been acceptable, let alone pleasurable.
Roger had gone in to the en-suite bathroom after that episode, turned off the light and silently wept. Seated on the toilet in a corset and panties.
Back in Hell’s own buffet Roger’s nostalgic self-evisceration was curtailed as he saw Diane leaving the room and heading back down the corridor towards the conference room. He decided to follow her.
Roger hated Diane, or he thought he did. He thought she was cocksure and condescending but in fact, the thought occurred to him now, she’d only ever been nice to him. Maybe it was just the image she projected. She was confident, assured, comfortable with the world and her place in it. That was what he despised her for.
It was jealousy, nothing more.
As he stalked her down the corridor he found himself wondering what the look on her face was like when she gave herself over to pleasure. Did she look up pleadingly at some sweaty, grunting brute of a man? Was she willing to degrade herself in ways which would have appalled her younger self but that she’d been introduced to by a string of rakish lovers? Did she cry out shrilly or moan softly as the pleasure took hold of her? Did she dig her nails in to skin and flesh? Did she quiver and convulse as her breathing quickened and became shallow?
Roger’s own pace quickened and suddenly he was at the door of the conference room, looking in. Diane was leaning over the table, arranging some papers and tapping some keys on a laptop. Her black knee length skirt, split up the side was beginning to ride up ever so slightly over her stocking-clad backside.
Roger strode up confidently behind her and, without breaking stride, delivered a swift hard smack to her right buttock. The sound was intensely satisfying, the wobble even more so.
Diane whirled around and stared bewildered in to Roger’s eyes.
‘Say thank you.’ said Roger in a voice he’d never heard before.
‘Thank you.’ Diane whispered, her eyes glassy as she stared in to Roger’s without blinking.
‘Say thank you Roger.’
‘Thank you Roger.’ and with that Diane turned around and slowly bent over the table, her breasts resting on an A4 notepad, her hands clasping the table’s edge.
Roger positioned himself behind her and went to work. He slapped each cheek in turn. Slowly and deliberately, being sure to catch it at just the right angle for the loudest smack. Diane gasped with every strike of his hand and bit her lip to keep from crying out but she still remembered her instructions.
‘Thank you Roger.’
‘Thank you Roger.’
Roger had exited the known Universe and was floating on an ethereal cloud of sheer ecstasy. Strange images flooded his mind as his open palms made their delicious impact on flesh.
His school changing rooms, the fetid stink.
Climbing in to his sister’s single bed, the feel of her bedsocks on his own bare legs.
‘Thank you Roger’
A golden retriever puppy tied to a post in the freezing rain.
A polyester wedding suit.
‘Thank you Roger’
The children home from University.
A muscular black man with shiny white teeth.
A cold bathroom floor.
A chest freezer in a damp cellar.
Selia’s bulging eyes, her throat filling with blood.
‘Thank you Roger’
‘Thank you Roger’
‘Thank you Roger’
Rick White is a fiction writer from Manchester, UK. Rick’s journalistic work has appeared in Vice Magazine and his short fiction has been published in Honest Ulsterman, Storgy and The Writing Disorder. Rick holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Studies from Sheffield Hallam University. website – www.badtripe.com twitter – @ricketywhite