Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Mult, Consensual, Romantic, Rape, Heterosexual, Group Sex, Interracial, White Couple, Oral Sex, Masturbation, Exhibitionism, Voyeurism, Slow, .
Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Jake inherits a block of flats from his mother. They're in a poor state, however, and require renovation. While he worked to upgrade the place, he recieves an urgent request from the local women's refuge. Is this the point at which Jake's reclusive life changes? Or is this innocent request merely setting the stage for another of life's disappointments?
Jake had inherited the two storey weatherboard building from his mother. It had been her little nest egg, 'to pass onto you when I pass away.' Well she passed away and a fat lot of money the two flats made for him.
His mum had spent little money on them for the last ten years and he'd found they were in dire need of serious renovations. They proved hard to let in a contracting market; even varsity students could get better, and cheaper, accomodation elsewhere. If they were to make a return, he had to spend big money or sell them below market value.
'If I did most of the work myself?' he reasoned, 'maybe I can get away with about 4 grand for materials?' He knew he had to get the work done quickly, otherwise, if they were left untenanted for too long, he wouldn't be able to keep up on the costs.
Jake laboured after work and weekends to get the flats up to scratch. His accountant advised him to sell, but he couldn't quite bring himself to do that. They had, after all, been his mother's gift to him.
He'd barely finished the bottom flat, the one needing the most work, when he received a request from the local women's refuge. The lady on the phone had an almost desperate tinge to her voice, as if someone's life depended on his decision. 'Could he offer emergency accomodation to a young woman in appalling circumstances?' That word, 'appalling:' yes, that was the word she used: made it impossible to refuse. How can someone turn down the request of a woman in 'appalling circumstances?'
The lower flat had been newly painted and still reeked. He'd found a second-hand stove, but it had yet to be cabled in by the electrician. The internal wiring needed repair before he could get certification. A window pane needed replacing, having been cracked by some previous tenant, but it was liveable, just, and he agreed to rent to this 'woman in appalling circumstances.'
'Work and Income Department was going to pay the rent. What was he going to charge?' Well, if the government was going to underwrite her rent, he'd better make it worth his while. But, they had a formula, and he'd little chance to pad out the bill. 180 bucks per week, shoot! He began to wonder if he was being screwed, by the women's refuge and the bloody government.
He was upstairs, painting, when the Salvation Army van arrived with a load of used furniture for his new tenant. A couple of worn chairs, a double bed, dining table topped with yellow formica like some relic from the sixties... He figured he could do a little better than that crap, he thought. A woman in 'appalling circumstances' need a little break, rather than someone's cast offs.
Jake owned the local second hand mart. It was far from a cash cow these days because of the internet trading sites. There's was no way he could undercut the prices offered on 'Trade Me.' But he had some stuff in the shop that was better than that offered by the Sallies. That night, he swapped over some of the furniture and brought kitchen things: cutlery, a few appliances, and a Television set. Why was he doing this? He didn't know. Certainly there was little profit in it.
Battered spouses didn't stay long, he knew that from his mother's experiences. They usually left after about a fortnight, often owing rent, to go back to their partners. Apparently everything was 'now okay, ' they had forgiven the last beating and made up. His mother often shook her head in frustration. Her Frank had never laid a hand on her in anger, and if he ever did, he'd never see her again. 'Those women have no self respect, ' she'd told him, 'to be so treated and go back for more.' She was a hard woman, his mother, who saw things in monochrome.
His mum was definitely old school, who thought that people get what they deserve. Perhaps that's why she'd never spent a penny on the flats? They should be grateful for a roof and running water, not bellyaching about the peeling paint and the dodgy wiring. 'If they don't like it they can piss off, ' she'd told him repeatedly.
But, today, you can't run a business like that. His tenants were 'clients' who required 'service.' An existing client cost a fifth of what it would be to attract a new one. A satisfied customer saved the businessman money, so he learnt from his 'small business diploma course' at the local college.
On the other hand, if he didn't own the building freehold, then he'd be out of business. When push comes to shove, it was the bottom line that dictated the difference between going down the gurgler or making a profit.
Jake lived alone, having never married. He'd converted the top floor of the mart into an apartment. A year ago, he'd decided to try internet dating, but it hadn't worked out. He'd figured, at 42, he'd become too set in his ways to have someone come into his life.
Kids didn't interest hime either. He was far too selfish, he thought, to have to care for children. It wouldn't be fair to impose that attitude on another human being. He was better off without them.
The following Saturday morning, a car turned up in the drive while he worked on the refurbishment of the upper flat. A stern looking woman got out and approached him.
"Jake?" she asked, forcing a civil smile. Jake shook her hand and the lady introduced herself as 'Mary from the refuge.' She had with her papers for him to sign; tenancy agreement, privacy statement, and forms from 'Work and Income.' "Thank you for this," Mary smiled genuinely for the first time, "it's difficult finding reasonable accomodation and landlords willing to take in these people."
'These people? What are they? Lepers?' he thought, but he left it unvoiced.
"I see you have gotten her some things?" Mary continued, as Jake unlocked the door, "that's very kind of you, Jake." He felt a fleeting warm glow of sainthood. It soon disappeared, however, when Mary pointed out the stove still not wired in.
"I'll get that done today," he told her. She hadn't finished with her inventory, however, and soon he had a list of work still to be done before she was satisfied. She required him to notorize everything on the tenancy agreement. By the time she returned to the car his anger was beginning to rise. He was doing this out of the goodness of his heart for bugger all reward and here she was demanding more. No wonder she found it hard to find suitable accomodation with willing landlords. He knew what his mother would tell her, 'take it or piss off!' 'No mucking about with mum, ' he thought.
Presently, the 'woman in appalling circumstances' rose unsteadily from the back of the car. She was Asian, small in stature, with a flowery, billowing sari wrapped around her. Her expression was one of uncertainty, her eyes were downcast and submissive. "This is Shamira," Mary introduced her, "could you fetch her bags from the boot?"
'Fetch her... !' Jake stopped the thought in mid sentence. 'Damned cheek of the woman! No please or thank you, just an instruction as one to a hotel busboy.' Nevertheless he found himself obeying and pulled the suitcase and one carrybag from the back of the car.
'Is this all there is?' he mused, 'the sum total of the woman's possessions?' He thought of her fleeing into the night with barely the clothes she stood up in with a raging husband inside threatening to do unspeakable things. Maybe a flying wedge of supporters from the refuge then returned to collect these meagre things for her? A flying wedge consisting of women like this Mary? 'Hell, ' he thought, 'the guy must have run for his life?' He found himself chuckling at the thought.
'But, hey, wait a minute? What if the guy should show up here with his cousins and uncles?' He didn't want some pack of goons breaking up the place. His insurance premiums would go through the roof! He should check with Mary.
"Mary?" he asked, "is she, er, safe here? Is there anyone, er, likely to cause trouble?"
"I see," Mary smiled, "worried about the windows?" She made it sound such a craven question, like he didn't care what happened to Shamira as long as his property was safe. He guessed it could be interpreted that way and felt a twinge of guilt. "There'll be no trouble," she replied, "there won't be anything like that, don't worry."
Jake was far from reassured but he left it. He felt like some caricature of a grasping landlord.
Shamira seemed pleased with the place at least. Mary did her best to warn her of the work still to be completed, but it didn't seem to dent her enthusiasm. Her face broke out in a smile of pure delight and thanked Mary, nodding repeatedly. "You must thank Jake," Mary told her, a little embarrassed, "he gave you this television... and kitchen things, look!"
Once again, Jake felt a wave of sainthood course over him as the woman turned to him, eyes still downcast, but smiling.
"Thank you," she told him.
She looked briefly up at him. Her dark eyes gleamed and they mesmerised him in their beauty. He noticed for the first time the spot on her forehead and the lock of dark hair escaping from beneath her scarf.
"We'll let her get settled in then!" said Mary, bulldozing through the moment. Jake took the hint and mumbled that he'd some work to do upstairs. "You get the stove fixed soon?" Mary commanded, and he obeyed. He'd get onto the electrician immediately. "How is she supposed to cook dinner?" Mary continued, unnecessarily.
'He'll get the damned thing fixed if she'd shut the fuck up about it! Hell, he'd order Shamira some takeaways tonight if it would get this Mary off his back.'
Later, as Jake worked away upstairs, he began to think about his whole attitude. His mother had dominated both him and his father. In some ways, he thought his mum had hounded his dad into the grave. Certainly, he thought what little pleasure he remembered from his childhood had been days with his father: afternoons in the park, down by the river, places they could escape to.
Some of his mother's hardness had rubbed off on him. That hardness had secured them from poverty, had given them respect and a good life. Without his mother his father would have gambled everything away. He was one for the horses and, latterly, the pokies down at the local pub. His mother rationed his money, told him what he could spend, and firmly banked the rest.
'Without control of your money you're dependent, nothing but a small child living on handouts. Money gave you power over your own life.' His mother held the power.
His business grew out of a hobby. He'd always liked old things and his father once told him, 'there's money in muck.' He was from Lancashire and had a sackful of sayings from that part of the World. His mother's accent had been refined and affected, but his father's had lost none of the Midland's earthiness and burr. 'If thow gets ort for nort, say nort.' Yes, he remembered them all.
He took his mother a business plan, and finally convinced her to extend him the finance. She would buy the whole building in case the mart failed. In that event she could re-tenant the space and not disturb the cash flow.
In any event, he hadn't failed, despite his mother's sanguine expectations. Jake knew the value of things, what would sell and what wouldn't. He looked after his customer base; that group of landlords flicked on from his mother in one of her benevolent moods. She never let him forget it, too. His mum had made him what he is; without her indulgence, he'd be out of business.
His mother's conditioning had served him well in the hard-headed world of the second hand business. He knew how to close the deal, to make money work for him rather than the other way around and the difference between gross and net. That lesson had sunk many an aspiring businessman if not learned thoroughly.
His mother wouldn't have tolerated Mary, Sharmila, the women's refuge, or 'the bloody state dictating what rent to charge a tenant.' But Jake wasn't his mother. He hoped he had a little more humanity and caring for those less fortunate.
That's the difference, he decided, between those that had to claw their way to prosperity and those who had it handed to them. Coming from the bottom only made you more determined to stay at the top. Empathy for the poor was the preserve of inherited wealth. Maybe something about the guilt of having it so easy?
And, despite his mother wishing he make it on his own, he knew that, without her money, he'd never have had a start. He wore the knowledge on his shoulders. It hunched him down long after his mother had died.
'Well, ' he decided, 'it wasn't going to be easy getting an electrician on a Saturday. Maybe I should offer to buy her dinner?'
He stood taller, braced himself, then walked out, down the stairs to the floor below. He tapped lightly on the half-open door. He could hear her rummaging about and felt his nerve begin to fail. 'These Asians, ' he thought, 'might misinterpret his approach.' Was it okay to make such an offer to a woman he'd only just met? Would she run frightened from the room and call the formidable Mary? Would she defend her honour with some hideous Indian blade concealed beneath her sari? Maybe she'd just get an uncle to beat the snot out of him for his impudence?
'Dammit! In any case, she'd just have to get used to our Western ways.'
The rummaging stopped and there was an unpleasant pause. Presently, she appeared at the door, eyes startled with a hint of fear.
"Excuse the intrusion, madam. The electrician won't be able to get the stove working until Monday morning. Perhaps, if you would permit me, I could buy you a meal tonight from the local takeaways? What would you prefer... er... Indian food perhaps?" To his ears he sounded over-formal and mildly patronising. He wondered how well she understood English. Hopefully his manner would fly over her head and he could try a simpler, more natural, approach.
"That is very kind of you, sir," she replied in text book, upper class English with a faintly lilting New Delhi accent.
'Damn!' he thought, 'she speaks better English than I do!' He didn't know why he felt so surprised. Perhaps he thought, being Indian, she'd be poorly educated? Another block of prejudice kicked out from under him?
"Call me Jake," he hastened to be less formal.
"Jake. You shouldn't spend your money. The Work and Income Department has given me a cheque for expenses. I will go the the grocery shortly."
"No," he told her boldly, "allow me. I insist. Call it a house-warming gift."
"But this apartment is warm already," she explained, "I have a heater, look!"
The comment floored him. Gradually it dawned on him that she was kidding. She betrayed a cheeky grin and he smiled back.
"Very good!" he chuckled, "but, please... it is the least I can do for not having the stove fixed in time."
"But that is not your fault. You were not expecting a tenant so quickly. It is I who have imposed on your kindness..."
This was going nowhere. They'd be apologising to each other till midnight. "Look, you're hungry, I'm hungry, what do you say?"
At the end of the day, Jake knew how to close a deal. She accepted.
He'd wondered whether he was overdoing it a bit. The Cambodian restaurant wasn't cheap, but the food was one of his favourites. They took phone orders, too, and delivered. What pang of responsibility was driving him to do this? Why was it important that she be impressed by his charity? She'd have been satisfied with a feed of fish and chips with a squirt of tomato sauce.
He hovered on the landing above until he saw the van pull up the street. He hurried down with the plastic to pay the man before Sharmila demured. Knocking on the door, he triumphantly brought in the box containing the delicacies.
Sharmila stood perplexed at the display. "But you've spent too much!" she protested. But Jake saw the anticipation in her expression. It must have been a good while since she'd had such a meal.
"Wine?" he said, "I think you'll find it a cheeky little vintage!" Who was he kidding? 'Sauvergnan Blanc' was the extent of his knowledge. He meant the name, of course. He'd read in the paper that some local vinyard had won an international award for its 'Sauvergnan Blanc.' 'Blanc' meant white, he was sure, and was the correct wine to have with the Cambodian dishes. At least he hoped it was.
"Oh my!" she said in wonder, "but this is so... overwhelming! You musn't do this... it is too much!"
Now he could see she was embarrassed and he had gone overboard. Jake began to feel a little foolish. "Okay," he said, "I'm sorry if this is too much. I guess I didn't know what I was thinking. You must think that... that..."
"That, what? Oh, I see. You mean that I would consider this an advance?" Jake nodded. "I did wonder," she said, "and it is very flattering, but I couldn't agree to such an approach..."
"Of course not!" he agreed, trying to regain his self respect.
"But if you are merely offering friendship?" Jake nodded, relieved, "then it would be a shame to let this food go to waste," she told him, smiling.
"It would!" he smiled back.
The wine and fine cuisine gradually relaxed them both. Naturally, they began to talk about their lives.
Jake found out Sharmila had been born in Fiji but had gone to India to get a better education. Her family had money, lots of it, both in India and Fiji. She'd gone to some of the best and most exclusive schools in India and Switzerland. Short of being a humble peasant, she'd little experience with manual work, having been brought up with servants around her.
Jake was dumbfounded. He felt the last block of asumption melting away before a tale of such privilege, as he'd never experienced, and educational achievement, that far outshone his own. Sharmila was a graduate of the University of New Delhi with a masters in commerce and business administration. She had been used to everything of the highest quality, yet, here she was, 'a woman in appalling circumstances.' Jake couldn't help but ask what happened.
"It is by my own foolishness... and vanity," she began. "You see? India is generally a very conservative society but one that is in the throes of great change. There are two Indias, the hinterland where everything is as it ever was, and the cities like Mumbhai and New Delhi. There it is fast growing towards any city in Europe or America, very westernised, but with an Indian flavour," she smiled. "It is rather like this Cambodian food," she explained, "you have a mix of the traditional Asian with the flair of the French, no?" Jake nodded, slowly, wondering where this was all heading but enthralled nonetheless.
"My family is very educated," she continued, "but despite this, they like to cling to some of the traditions of India. It is what sets them apart, you see, from any upper class family in the UK, for instance. Coming from Fiji," she chuckled, "I was always the poorer cousin, but still, I was expected to obey the rules. You must understand, Jake, that Fiji is a far cry from New Delhi. Things were so much freer for me there. Sure, I did not have such a comfortable life, but I was used to pleasing myself in many ways, ways that were not acceptable to the Indian branch of the family."
"In what way?" Jake asked.
"Why, specifically, things to do with relationships, sexuality..." Jake had figured that was what she meant. He was beginning to get the picture.
"Like arranged marriages?" he asked.
"Of course, but that is not as repugnant as it might sound to Western ears. Arranged marriages work out more happily than not. One often has a choice. One never has to accept the first proposal... or any, for that matter."
"Your husband, he was selected by your father?"
"No," she said sadly, "perhaps things may have worked out more happily if he'd had?"
"So, are you saying you eloped with someone who your family disapproved of?"
"Very much so. You see, that would've been tolerated in Fiji... maybe not so much tolerated but... recognised? In India that caused a great deal of fuss. But I was determined to behave as a liberated woman," she smiled, wryly, "I thought I knew better than my parents. In the West, that is quite common, to know more than your parents," she grinned again, "but in India it is considered the height of vanity. It is only now I see why. I did not make such a good decision."
"What? He beat up on you?" Jake asked.
"No, not beat... he was not prepared to be faithful to me. This I could not tolerate. He considered it his right to take anyone he wanted into our bed. I did not agree."
"I should say not!" Jake agreed.
"But also, I think, he had a very traditional view of women and how a good Indian wife ought to behave. I am not a very good housewife... I have never cleaned up after myself... never done any laundry nor cooked for myself beyond boiling a jug. He considered me lazy and inadequate, even though I was better educated. I took a job with an accountancy company. I didn't ask him first and he became very angry."
"How came you to this country?" Jake asked.
"My husband is a Fijian Indian. After the first military coup there, Indians were fearful for their future and certain foreign countries allowed us in as refugees. I thought we could make a fresh start in a free society, but I was wrong. My husband was a manager, but he found little work because of his poor English. I began to support us both, and my husband couldn't tolerate that situation. It was as if I'd cut off his penis. I'm sorry for talking that way but I know no better way to explain it."
"No problem. You explain it very well!" Jake explained. "But would you've fared any better marrying someone selected by your family?"
"I think so. He would've been from my class. He would've been well educated and able to bring in a good income. I wouldn't have needed to work if I didn't want to. But, if I had, there would've been no jealousy between us."
"That's a tall order," Jake chuckled.
"Not in India. That's not such a tall order there, I think."
"So what?" Jake asked, "did things come to a head. He chucked you out on the street? Took all your money..."
"Very close!" she smiled, "I decided I'd had enough of his infidelities. It was then I learned he'd gathered all our property in his name... even my dowry?"
"He can't do that shit here!" Jake protested, "it's not lawful!"
"Maybe, but he has flown out of the country taking everything. I am penniless..."
"What about your family? You said they had lots of money..."
"We are estranged. I cannot ask them for a single rupee. I said some unpleasant things to my father before I went away."
"Well, ok, but I'm sure they'd help out once they learned..."
"I cannot!" she said, firmly, "you don't understand the culture. It would be a humiliation to... and," she added, "remember I talked about my own vanity? I have too much pride to ask them."
"Can't you climb down off your high horse a little?" Jake suggested, kindly he thought, with no hint of reproach.
"Ah, but there you see you are English!"
"No I'm not!"
"Your outlook, I mean, is very English. You see simple solutions without appreciating the complexities of the situation. It is what made your forefathers masters of most of the known world. You can dismiss things like that..." she snapped her fingers, "when they don't fit into the paradigm."
"I suppose." She was leaving him a little way behind. Maybe she was right about the English? Certainly his mother saw nothing that couldn't be solved with a swift belt around the ear. 'There's none more English than those who've left England, ' his father used to say.
It was well into the summer evening when Jake left. The conversation had petered out and Jake saw her body language change to one of impatience. Clearly, she had things to do and Jake was in the way. He made his excuses, told her to call him if she needed anything, then left.
The two flats were built into the hillside, as was common in that part of the city. The small outside area was shared and consisted of a backyard behind the top flat. To get access to it, and the clothes lines, was a set of stairs leading up past the side door to the top flat. It was a fairly typical arrangement to hundreds of similar houses built during the thirties.
Jake had enjoyed the company. She was well-spoken and expressive. He noticed how her eyes lit up as she stressed some point. At other times, during pauses, her eyes were down cast and lidded. He found the effect sexy, as if it was an act of submission.
But, he discovered, she was aristocratic and proud. How galling, he thought, to have to explain to a stranger that she'd been made a fool of, that she'd made unwise choices and now had to shoulder the consequences.
Shamila would bounce back, of that he was sure. She had a drive to succeed and to prove she could make it on her own. Why, he thought to himself, she was even doing her own laundry! He could hear the washer going downstairs.
Her haughtiness was alluring. Jake had a weakness for strong women. Also, her scent still hung in his nostrils: sweet, like sandalwood. It'd been a while since he'd sat with female company and he was still a little disorientated by the experience.
Something else occurred to him, he was as horny as a toad. His dick swelled in his pants at the memory of the evening and he had to adjust himself for comfort. Jake made an attempt to continue painting the ceiling but his mind wasn't on work. Instead, he decided to sit on the sofa and give himself some relief.
He wrapped a cleaning rag around his dick and manipulated the knob with his fingers. He was well practiced at the routine, but he wanted the sensations to last as long as possible. Closing his eyes, he tried to picture Shamila naked, but found no image that stayed in his mind. Her body had been shrouded in a long sari and loose shawl she kept clutched to her upper body. He face, however, was sexy, bronzed, with a delicate nose and thin dark eyebrows. A hint of red lipstick gleamed on her full lips. But it was still her eyes that captivated him. That, and her musical vowels and precise English pronounciation.
He was halfway there when he realised something that made him lose the plot. There were no curtains on the windows and one beamed the evening sunshine directly in to the room. Outside were the set of steps that lead behind to the clothesline. Shortly, Shamila will be coming past to hang out her washing.
He quickly tucked himself away and listened for sounds below that might indicate she hadn't come past yet. Everything was ominously quiet.
"Shit!" he said aloud. The merest casual glance as she was passing would've caught him in the middle of the act. Any slightest chance he had of becoming intimately acquainted with Shamila, he was sure, had been swept away in a tide of revulsion. How could this educated, sophisticated, proud lady bear to look in his direction after being confronted with such a degenerate act?
Jake peeked to confirm his worst fears. Through the kitchen window he could see her hanging out her washing.
Should he say something, attract her attention? Would she be discrete enough not to display her disgust, or will she look away? Perhaps she hadn't seen him and she'd act normal? He had to test.
"Hi!" he smiled, through the window. She smiled back and continued pegging out her washing. "Um, should be a warm night!"
"I hope so," she called back, "otherwise I'll have nothing clean to wear in the morning."
'Hells bells!' he thought, 'Was she teasing him?' "Should be good," he replied, "clear skies and warm."
"This is not warm," she laughed, "38 degrees, that is warm. This is mild to chilly!"
'The way she says the word, 'chilly!, ' he sighed, 'chilll-leee.' "38 degrees is an oven," he replied, "I don't know how you folks stand that kind of heat."
She smiled, grabbed her basket, then left to go back downstairs. She betrayed no sign of having seen him masturbating. Perhaps, after all, in their culture it would be far too rude for a well brought up woman to even glance into another's window? He sure hoped so.
With that thought he relaxed. His libido was now under control, the effect of inadvertant discovery had been more effective than a deluge of icy water. He painted for another half hour before deciding he'd had enough for the day. He packed up, grabbed his carrybag, then locked up.
The steps were old and the whole thing creaked when he walked down. 'Why hadn't he heard her come up?' he wondered.
The daylight was failing. Shamila had switched on her standard lamp, he noticed, because the glow through the window below was a soft yellow rather than the harsh glare of neon. He ought to get her some proper soft lighting for the lounge, he mused, he didn't know why his mother had strung up neon lights everywhere. 'Perhaps she got them cheap?' he wondered. He was fairly sure he was correct.
He glanced into her window as he passed. He couldn't help himself, he thought afterwards, it's a normal human response. The sight, however, stopped him in his tracks, his mouth dry as the desert.
Shamila was sitting on her sofa, the flicker of the television in her face. Her eyes, however, were lidded and her lips slightly parted. She was wearing western clothes, a sweatshirt and trackpants, that clung to her curves more effectively than her traditional attire. What caught Jake's attention, though, was her left hand.
It was thrust into the top of her sweats, the outline of her knuckles plainly visible over her sex. As Jake watched, her hand moved rhythmically, alternately massaging and squeezing her pussy. The dimness of the room seem to complement the intimacy of the occasion, suffusing a warm aura to the precedings.
Did she know he was there? How could she not? She must have heard the door close, his footsteps on those creaky steps. Was she doing this for his benefit, or maybe lost in that place where she didn't know or cared? As Jake watched, her face screwed up at an apparent surge of pleasure. He imagined her moaning, her breath laboured, and he felt a twitch in his pants.
What would she do if she opened her eyes and discovered him staring in? Much as he'd like to stay, he decided he'd have to leave. He couldn't risk discovery, peering into windows like some peeping tom. Reluctantly, he continued down the steps to his car.
He gave the window one last long look from his ute. As he watched, he saw the curtains close, the show was over.