Stories from a troubled time, an examination of the present, the past and what is lost.
amorals 6 - Grasping at Shadows
amoral 7 - A Woman's Powerview galleries
I arrived early at the pub, early enough to be sure I would be seated before my companions arrived. I like things to be in their proper order. I was no good at surprises before the virus, ironically the viruses made it easier for me. It chimed with me when that notoriously grumpy comedian stated on television how it made no difference to him as he always lived like Covid ruled the world. He has not been on the television in the last few years. Probably since the secondary virus hit, after the variants had done their worst.
As I arrived early and could enjoy a gentle stocktake of Aesop's Playground. Aesop himself behind the bar. Sanitizer in one hand checklist in the other, a different vision to the traditional image of a landlord polishing a glass. Perhaps I should sketch images of people holding sanitizer though I am not sure if people would want to buy a drawing that reminds them of how bad things are, though you can never tell. People are strange. At the bar counter, though two meters from the service area, was the same regular as usual, seated as he has been each time I have come: slouched on a bar stool nursing a beer. It would be ironic if his name was Norm. The trio in the shadows as distracted as always, the group in the booth all talking at the same time, the young folks near the door with their heads together in concentration and the kids at the table in front of me, to the left. Snowy, Amaro and their friend, a dark haired girl with a noteworthy nose, or should that be a noseworthy note? And a careless disregard for clothes which seems to have become more prevalent these days. I believe that since people have been hiding their faces behind masks they have been exposing more skin on other parts of their bodies. That is not something I read in the news, so it might just be my misconception.
She noticed me looking at her and smiled, I fixed my stare on my beer. From the side of my vision I noticed she concentrated on Snowy again. I would have liked to sketch her but being caught ogling her left me too embarrassed. Instead I imagined her coming across to my table and leaning over saying Ooh, that is an interesting drawing, and would you like to draw me? And I'd look up at her smiling at me and notice that she was actually not wearing a t-shirt or a bra under her dungarees so her large breasts were swaying freely, her nipples brushing against the denim.
She reminded me of a young woman I knew when I was young. I have since looked up old and new pictures of her on Facebook, there is a similarity in their looks but something about her glance and smile pulled forward that memory of the girl I once fancied.
I have decided to be honest in these journals I am keeping of my Tuesday meet-ups with Martha and James. Full Disclosure. The record forms a large part of my masturbatory fantasy material. There may be a lot of porn online, both written and visual, but reliving Martha's stories was so exciting I decided to write a report to keep it as close to the original as possible, though each time I reread the stories I love to add little salacious details based on my memories of seeing the people involved in the pub. If you are reading these words, Martha, or James, I hope this does not taint your opinion of me.
James was nodding looking down at the shapes doodle that grew across my notebook.
“Hey, I didn’t see you come in.”
“Yeah, you don’t need another drink do you?”
“No, I’m fine.”
It won’t be long before they stop offering. I had read that drinking rounds was a thing of the past but perhaps because we knew each other before ... old habits and all that.
“So, did you catch last night’s announcement?”
“Cuts to pensions. They keep saying the economy is on the turn, then they announce a new cut.”
“The new new normal.”
“I heard they are changing the migration policies: welcoming environment. For the under thirties able bodied anyway.”
“You’re a migrant aren’t you?”
“Yes, but that was a long time ago, more than a decade before the hostile environment.”
“The cheek of it, I am not that much older than you.”
We watched Martha at the door scan in.
“Did you prepare an Aesop’s fable challenge?”
“Yeah, did you?”
“I read a number of them this week. Why don’t you slip the moral into the conversation and I will try to respond with the fable title.”
“Yeah, why not. Though I suspect Martha will be quicker at spotting the moral than you.”
James was right. Martha joined us and immediately took a large sip of the beer James had bought her.
“What a day.”
Martha talked about the tension at the playground gate. I did not realise how it played out in practice every day. I had thought the school-gate tensions were an abstract metaphor the news reported. But apparently there are arguments most days between the groups that, generally, consist of the grandparents on the one side and the young migrant mums on the other. The school is on a corner and they divide the classes sending children to the side they are to be collected from. There is often a police officer on the corner keeping people apart, a community officer not proper police. Not with the cuts. No police today, the cuts to pensions raised the temperature. First insults thrown between the factions, then objects.
“Hell, some old folk can be hard.”
“When you are in the man’s power you do as he says.”
I looked at James a bit confused. I guessed he was getting at the Finance Minister being the man behind the conflict but Martha spotted the cue.
“The very one.”
I was trying to work it out when Martha took pity on me.
“James is right, it is too early in the afternoon to deal with hard politics. A couple more drinks before we start poking that bear. A much better way to start a drink with friends is a little amoral tale, and what better place to start than the Fisher. The version I know has the fisher playing a bagpipe to the fish which ignore the music when they are in the water but dance when they are landed saying: they only do what the Fisher commands when there is no choice. I love that the Fisher plays the bagpipes. I reckon the person who penned that version had a thing about bagpipe music. Me, I love a ceilidh, if we ever get to go to one of those again.”
“Ah. I’d read some of Aesop’s fables this week and had challenged James to test my knowledge by dropping a moral into the conversation. I will have to work harder for next week.”
“But that isn’t the challenge really, is it?”
“Of course, we would love to listen to one of your little tales, if you have one for us.”
“Yes, that’s why I said amoral tale rather than a moral one. I think that my versions are a little less moral than Aesop’s were.”
“Perhaps, but aren’t they all stories really for both entertainment and enlightenment.”
“Oh you are too kind. Anyway, one fine evening in this very pub a certain Snowy told me a story of his first which very much included him doing what a woman instructed, after all we are not really told if the Fisher is male or female.”
“I am pretty sure...”
James silenced me with a glare. Pedantry is not one of my better qualities.
“The fine young woman sitting with Snowy is Morwena. She does not come here often and while I know quite a bit about her I cannot say I have had many conversations with her. I have had many conversations with Snowy, he is a very easy person to talk to. And he is very forthcoming with detailed anecdotes. A low filter.
“The trouble with asking people what was their first erotic encounter is either admit to something they were too young for, or they admit to being behind the curve. Which is why I am so keen on asking that question, and why the question has to be posed at just the right time. However, with Snowy it was just an afternoon filler question.
“His first was with Morwena when they were young, younger than when they started coming here, though they are still clearly young still, perhaps even too young to be coming here. Who could say? It was a beautiful time in their lives when they had so much time. Time to drift from one thing to another. Time not to arrive if they don’t. Time to chat about something and nothing. I hear many people complain how they don’t have the time they had in their youth, to which I say: pah, it is a choice. I think mostly the choice us old folk make is to not talk about nothing. We settle into the conversations we think entertain our companions until we believe those conversations are all that is entertaining. Which is why the young are mute, they are overwhelmed by the quality of the wit available at the touch of a screen. But they are bamboozled by quantity over quality. They don’t even realise the platitudes they find so aspirational are no more than verbal diarrhea.
“Sorry for the rant. As I was saying I love a conversation with a little risk which is why I enjoy asking people for their firsts. Snowy reminisced with me about the times himself and Morwena dawdled and lingered. He could not remember what their conversations were about. He suspected they had been about friends, films, memes.
“They fairly often found themselves detached from their group of friends, she would be called back by her friends or him by his. They were not girlfriend and boyfriend, though it would have been obvious it was heading in that direction. They had not kissed. They had not held hands. All they had done was talk.
“One day they had drifted off to collect some work from a classroom. It was after school, they had been doing some work on a drama production with their group but with a back in a minute they found themselves alone. She had sat on a table while he sorted through his things. When he looked at her Snowy thought wow. She looked incredible. A few buttons of her shirt were undone and her skirt had ridden up her leg resting on a chair. The buttons had been undone in the drama rehearsals, it was not immodest, but at that moment he was captivated by her body. He caught himself and looked at her face embarrassed. But she was smiling. She kept eye contact but started undoing the remaining buttons on her shirt. Then she reached in and undid her bra clasp and dropped the straps off her shoulders. He was caught, he was the little fish dancing to her tune.
“He moved towards her, he reached out his hand and cupped her breast. He swears the first time he purposefully touched her body was that moment when he cupped her breast, then rolled his fingers over her nipple. Of course they must have touched at some point in their many conversations before that but this was the first time he remembers reaching out to her to touch her. No kiss, no holding hands, straight in with a nipple roll. He leaned forward to kiss her but she looked down. She undid his button, pulled down his zip and reached in for his cock. His cock was stiff by the time she touched it, or shortly thereafter. He looked down at her small hand sliding up and down his cock which he said was as pale as the rest of him. He played with her boobs, she played with his cock and he came. Shot his jizz onto her shirt.
“Before he had a chance to lean forward and kiss her, before he had a chance to think about the mess on her shirt, there came a cheer from outside the window of the room. The drama group had wandered in their direction and stopped to watch their little erotic tableaux. Morwena put his cock back in his trousers before turning away from their friends. She pulled a jumper out of her bag, stripped off the shirt and pulled on the jumper. She looked over at Snowy, who was standing next to her, facing in the same direction as she was, still sorting out his zip and button. His cock had taken a while to go down even with the audience. She laughed and danced away. Snowy listened to the group squeal as they left before turning around himself. He stopped at the door looking back into the now empty room before he left, in that moment when he enjoyed the memory forming of when he had danced to Morwena’s tune.”
I finished my beer before James spoke.
“Yes, of course, and why not. Sometimes we want to be the fish caught in the net, as long as we still have our voice.”
“Indeed, a fine way to be sent on my way.”
“You're not staying for another?”
“Beer or story?”
“Beer, for starters anyway.”
“No, I best not. But I will be here next week.”
“Love ya, bye”