Felt better. Scrubbed up as best as I could in the morning, a complexion like boiled pink ham, showed a face no mother would kiss. Breakfast a hurried affair. Myra was nervous because we were going to meet her daughter Holly. Wasn’t particularly sure of the reasoning behind that one. Could hear her banging about. She made herself presentable in wide-striped blouse, skirt and sensible flat shoes. All that creeping about wearied me. Made me want to go back to bed, but she’d whipped the quilt away. Had it spinning in the washing machine and left me high and dry sitting like Simple Simon on the couch twiddling my thumbs. Couldn’t even turn the telly on. Was glad when it was finally time for us to leave. All that waiting killed me.
Paisley, Gilmour Street train station wasn’t the end of the line. Holly lived in Giffnock. We got an SMT bus on High Street. No gentleman, flung my ageing body with childish glee in onto a window seat and let Myra scramble in beside me. Paisley Abbey and wet city centre streets sliding by. Traffic lights glittered in the rain. Stop. Start. Pedestrians in bright nylon coats strung out like jelly fish. Picked up speed and left diesel fumes and the old mill town behind. Giffnock the place where mill owners had their homes, miles away from the noise, pollution and stink of poverty. The bus left us with a lurch.
Icy wind at out back. Took us five minutes plodding through a shield of rhododendron up the driveway before we hit Holly’s front door. She was expecting us. Opened the door before we chapped. I wasn’t expecting her. Dimpled cheeks, quick to smile. Fiery red hair, greenish eyes that looked me up and down, quick to assess my worthlessness. She was simply, but expensively dressed, in a black layered lace top with her breasts poking through and polka-dot print jeans Should have probably have guessed that if the devil had a plan of taking over the world it would be the gingers leading the charge.
‘Come in,’ she said. ‘I’ll make a nice cup of tea.’
Waded at her back through thick cream carpets. On and on up the hall. We passed high cream rooms studded with impressionist pictures of fruit and flower and fields chock full of Victorian old money in long flowing dresses having picnics and looking wistfully out of intricate frames. Holly strutted rather than walked, flinging her hips and flexing muscles that I didn’t think woman had. It seemed indecent not to watch her. She stood at the door and like a traffic warden guided us into a left hand turn into the sitting room.
Yellow silk walls with an elaborate chandelier shimmering and glinting above us. We looked out through double-glazing to a backdrop of a sunken garden that ran on into fields. It was a bit more conservative, solid and ostentatious than a typical council house. The matching redwood chairs and leather couch were also a bit too old-fashioned for my liking.
Coughed discretely. ‘Where’s the toilet, hen? I’m bustin’.’
‘Third door on your right.’ She pointed. An aid to my terminal stupidity.
Caught a whiff of her perfume, a vapour that hung around her and overwhelmed a body. She cocked her head to look at me. Flash of white incisors and catty smile as if she knew what I was thinking. My ears reddened. Was glad to get away from her.
Pushed open the door. Didn’t have time to lock it. Pulling my zip down, tripping over marble-black tiles and walls as white and bright as a camera flash. Barely made the lavvy pan. Almost peed on my shoes. But took my time washing my hands. Checking myself out in a spotless man-sized mirror. It threw back a reflection of someone familiar looking. Whistled ‘O Sole Mio’. Bath taps were gold levers. The tub a sarcophagus that would require a gondola to negotiate. Didn’t want to think about how much it would cost to heat the water or how many Powercards to heat the house.
Heard raised voices. Negotiated my way safely back to the room. Mother and daughter were sitting in splendid isolation. They looked up as I came in. Cup poised in her hand, Myra seemed pleased to see me. Tray with tea and Jaffa cakes on a table in front of them. Didn’t hang about. Sunk into a leather chair facing them, feet lost in a rug and poured a cup of tea.
‘It’s a nice house you’ve got here.’ Slurped at my tea and lifted a few Jaffas.
‘Yes it is.’ She offered the benison of a smile. ‘I worked hard for it.’
‘Oh, aye, whit is it you do?’ Chewed on a Jaffa.
‘I’m a consultant.’ Her answer was breezy. She sipped at her tea, one foot sliding over her ankle.
‘Consults on her back,’ hissed Myra.
Holly's cup clinked as she put it down on the saucer. ‘Now mother dear I do hope you’ve been taking all your medication. And I do hope you’ve not come all this way to insult me. It stands to reason it’s the little things that hurt the most. Little things like no wanting to hold me as a child. Not wanting to spend quality time with her. Let’s face it dear mother, if father hadn’t arranged a good private school and paid for it I might well have ended up as screwy as you.’
She grinned at me. ‘More tea?’ Didn’t wait for an answer, picking up the pot, waltzing over. Creamy globes of her breasts visible as she topped up my cup.
‘We really shouldn’t argue in front of strangers.’ Holly’s hair flickered spun gold as she turned to face Myra. ‘Or are you lovers?’
‘You know we’re not,’ snorted Myra.
‘That’s right,' said Holly. ‘You pledged your troth to your one true love.’ She fanned her hand melodramatically out in front of her forehead. 'And to him you will be true until your dying day.’
‘Stop it!’ A strident note entered Myra’s voice. She put her cup and saucer down on the tray. ‘Stop your play acting. I know what you are.’
Holly leaned across close enough to whisper in her mother’s ear. ‘What am I?’
‘You’re a devil!’
‘Really mother.’ Holly shrugged, appealed to me with a dimpled and impish grin. ‘You see the devil in everyone. It gets rather wearing. I’ll have a little chat with your psychiatrist, Mr Doyle. See if we can get some plan of action sorted out. We wouldn’t want to see you going off the rails like the last time.’ Her voice went up a notch and she adopted a concerned tone. ‘You are taking your medication, aren’t you?’
‘Holly stop it.’ She caressed her daughter’s shoulder. ‘You’re fooling no one. I don’t care what happens to me. All I ask is you leave poor Jim alone.’
‘I can take care of myself,’ I said.
Myra's head drooped and she shut her eyes. ‘No, you can’t Jim.’
A tingle of laughter from her daughter. ‘At least we agree on something.’
Held my hand up. ‘Hi. Hi. I’m here right in front of you. Not some spazzy that can’t tie his shoelaces or knot his tie.’
Myra turned to face me. ‘It’s not like that Jim. That’s not how it works.’
Rubbed the stubble around my chin and mouth with my hand. ‘How whit works?’ Pin pricks of itching lit up between my thighs, spread to my legs. Rubbed at my arms. Dug my nails in. Clawed at the skin on the back of my hands.
Myra dived across the couch and her cool fingers gripped my hands. ‘Stop it.’ She bent my fingers into impotent fists. Raised one paw up to her lips and kissed it. Then the other. Itching disappeared.
Later I realised she hadn’t been talking to me.
Myra turned to face her daughter. Warm chocolate- brown eyes returned to look at me, a pained expression on her face. ‘What does he have to do?’
‘Join us.’ Holly licked her lips. Her feet slid forward, inch by inch and her legs opened slowly like a flower. She turned away as if listening, and sighed, drawing the fingertip of her forefinger back and forwards over the soft skin at the nape of her neck and ear. Cushion squeaked as she raised her buttocks. Her right hand slid in between the band of her denims and disappeared between her legs. Her eyes glazed green sunstones in a gold pool of hair. Musty smell filled the room as if she was in heat.
Mesmerised, could easily have slid off the seat and floated over to the seat beside her. Inside her. Whatever the lingo was for there was no fool like an old fool. Myra nipped me hard on the knee. Pegged me back. Shook her head. My eyes were once more drawn to hers. Imploring. Shook her head from side to side.
‘No thanks,’ I said, in a high voice not quite my own. ‘I’ll just have another Jaffa.' Made the mistake of glancing back across. ‘I was once in the AA,’ started spluttering rubbish to Holly. ‘But I’m no’ much of a man for groups.’
Her head dropped back exposing a fragile white neck. The fingertip of left hand drew concentric circles round her bra and snapped shut on thumb and forefinger, pincering her nipple so hard I could see its outline through her blouse. ‘You know you want to Jim.’ Her voice was lush with emotion.
‘Not sure,’ I said.
Felt Myra nipping me again. Shaking my wrist. When that didn’t work she whacked hard on my dick. Jerked backwards. Two-fingered V- sign that I should concentrate on looking into her eyes.
‘All you have to do Jim is let me suck on your dick.’ Unbuttoned her denims, hooked her finger in her pants and peeled them back. Finger slick.’ She saw I was watching and smiled. ‘No expensive membership. Just slide right inside. Lot of life in you yet Jim. All I need is your seed and your pledge. It’ll be so good. And you’ll be so powerful. Everything you’ve ever wanted Jim. It’ll be there for the taking. You’ll know in advance what people are going to offer. And you’ll get them to offer you more. It’s win-win. People are flocking to us from all over the world. We’re a hundred times more powerful than anything you can imagine. Think cocaine magnified by a million, but with none of the drawbacks. You’re either for us or against us. What do you say Jim?’
Myra shoved me back down on the chair. Punched me on the dick. Didn’t even flinch this time.
‘Tell him who you are.’ Myra spoke in a low voice to Holly.
‘We are legion,’ said Holly. ‘A company of friends that watch each other’s back. Maybe offer a bit more.’
Pushed Myra aside. She stumbled backwards and fell against the side of the couch and knocked over the tray. Unbuttoned my trousers. Couldn’t get them off quick enough. Snagged on my shoes. Didn’t care about the mess. Didn’t care about anything.
Holly’s eyes glowed. She unbuttoned her blouse, reached behind her and unhooked her bra. Her breasts sprang out, so white and clean they were almost bluish. Wanted them in my mouth so much I stumbled and fell over the table. Myra reached across and took my hand. She dipped her finger into the spilled tea and made the sign of the cross on my forehead.
‘Don’t start praying now mother. It’s so fuckin’ boring.’ She cupped her hands beneath her breasts, an offering. ‘There’s a time and place for that sort of thing. Church fetes and church fairs where old folk with nothing better to do with their time.’
Reached across and took Myra’s hand. Helped her to stand. Pulled up and zipped my trousers. ‘Time we were goin’, I said to Myra.
‘Thanks for the tea,' I said to Holly. 'We’ll see ourselves out.’