Saturday dawned bright and clear, an auspicious omen, or so I took it be, as I breakfasted on a pot of Assam tea and toast with Dundee marmalade, all followed by a bowl of St. Bruno. The reason for my rather fortifying breakfast – in this case 'fortifying' being applied with a rather personal meaning drawn from the application of this term to any bowl that is rather heavy with what pipe smokers bestow with the soubriquet of 'vitamin N' – was that I was coming to the resolution of a minor issue which had progressed from a mere niggle to what was, now, rather irksome to me and which, therefore, demanded that action be taken.
The genesis of this issue had come to me over the course of several weeks whereat, during my daily engagement with the seemingly inescapable chore of 'dust and polish' as I thought of it, my pre-emptive strike against what could ultimately otherwise result in the necessity of a 'deep clean' – such a grandiose term which means nothing more than doing a thorough job of the cleaning – I felt there had to be a better solution to my admittedly slight domestic duties.
Indeed, whilst my fastidiousness was decidedly at a non-clinical place on the spectrum which ran from messy to obsessive compulsive disorder to Lady Macbeth, but still, I considered my time could and certainly should be better employed upon other matters. Moreover, I felt that, distracted as I was by the necessity of keeping my home clean and tidy, though there were many things which I could be doing, many things which I had vaguely promised myself that I would do in my retirement, a retirement that I had not anticipated would be quite prematurely thrust upon me, these various ideas remained unfocused, refusing to coalesce, existing, rather, in a state of potentia which I felt to be wholly unacceptable.
It was, I felt, that morning, fuelled by St. Bruno, caffeine, and toast with marmalade, time to take action, if not to realise these almost subconsciously felt urges to do something meaningful with my time, then at least to release that time back into my possession rather than that of messers Sheen and Dyson.
Retiring to my office wherein my computer resided, I pressed the requisite buttons to waken the beast and duly entered a search into Google (who else?) for a cleaning service nearby. I automatically ignored those 'promoted' and otherwise elevated search results at the top of the list, as well as those with reviews were of the most sickeningly gushing character, considering both to be a thoroughly unreliable reflection upon the competitive commodification of so much of modern life.
It was as I scrolled down to third page of results – yes, some of us do progress past the first page, not necessarily satisfied with the need for instant gratification which drives much that passes for thought and analysis on the internet – that I found an advert which caught my eye.
They were, they claimed, a service providing persons to come to your home and clean it for you in equally the same manner as various other companies and individuals, but in their particular case the 'hook' which they intended would result in a contract with them rather than one of their competitors was that, depending upon your inclination, the cleaning would be performed either by a young man in speedos, a young woman in a bikini, or, for an extra though not burdensome consideration, this same young person sans any kind of clothing whatsoever.
Clicking through from the search result to the company website, I was greeted with a professional 'home' page which linked through to various others giving full details of the work undertaken, namely household cleaning and household cleaning only, as nothing outwith the interior of the home such as, they listed as an example, garden tidying, was permissible, the company being duly cautious of Scottish morals and laws regarding public nudity which remain Puritanical, confused, and contradictory. The site also, of course, contained a veritable though not worringly overwhelming selection of the ubiquitous testimonials which it is thought nobody nowadays can take any action without. As I read several of these I was struck by the thought that they had more than a slight smack of authenticity to them, some even going so far as not being wholly complementary of the cleaning done although there were no complaints as to the cleaners themselves. Not being entirely gullible, I did for a moment consider the possibility that these testimonials might have been written by someone in the company offices with a flair for vernacular and colloquial phraseology, but ultimately I dismissed that line of conjecture as without either provability, and as not something which was worth the worry over when there was a much more simple solution to hand – book a trial.
My cynicism about the enterprise was finally punctured when I clicked through to the galleries and saw that, instead of a selection of stock images taken from some online site selling those tedious generic enticements which might be adapted to a wealth of uses, this site's images were, in fact, well taken photographs of a variety of women – I had eschewed the gallery of male cleaners – seemingly working away industriously in what could only be 'real' homes rather than an advertising executive's ideas thereof. The women featured extended in their ages from late teens to early thirties, though the page warned that the women working for them changed quite often, presumably due to the objections of their partners, and hence it was not possible to guarantee that any of the cleaners employed would be one of those featured, though it was also claimed, in a rather pre-feminist or post-feminist manner I thought, that such women as this company was able to send would be of similar physical beauty. To a one, I remarked to myself, all the young women featured were incredibly adept at positioning themselves and their cleaning aids in such a way that in the photographs included on the site there was neither nipple nor areolae nor a hint of a pubic hair – or a shaven quim – anywhere to be seen. This was not a site for what I amused myself by imagining might be called 'domestic porn'. Tangentially, these images, in their own way, reminded me of Seonaid and the 'candids' or out-takes she had shared with me, further prompting me to muse over the question of how many other photographs were taken but discarded for displaying rather more of a cleaner's charms than the somewhat cautious site designer was prepared to make use of, a somewhat ironic stance to take given the pitch of the company, namely naked attractive cleaners.
Finally, in order to ensure that there was no mistake as to what was and what was not on offer, it was made quite clear by the website that the service was only and exclusively an adult domestic cleaning service. Any attempts at harassing the cleaners would result in the immediate termination of the cleaning contract. Interestingly, it was claimed that both female and also male cleaners were 'equipped with personal alarms' – hidden where, I shuddered to imagine – such that, in the case of a surfeit of hormones on behalf of a client, the cleaner would trigger their alarm, thereby causing both noise and also alerting the company that assistance was required. Assistance, it seemed and according to the photograph on the warnings page, was a very large gentleman who clearly spent a deal of his life in the gymnasium and whom, the website was keen to point out, was highly qualified in martial arts the names of which I had to search for before understanding that, in terms of interpersonal conflict, this gentleman would swiftly and rather damagingly be the victor.
I sat back a moment and looked at the screen.
Their prices, whilst obviously not as cheap as their more conventional counterparts, were not unrealistic or unaffordable. I could, for not more than I was charging one of my students for an hour of my time, employ some young woman to come into my home and undertake the more onerous aspects of the weekly clean, all whilst wearing a bikini. Or, perhaps, I might dip into my own income and opt for her not to be wearing her bikini at all.
Now that I was freed from the yoke of being an employee of the university, I had no 'name' to worry about, and equally I had no contractual clauses concerning any actions which might be interpreted in such a way as to 'bring the university into disrepute' to otherwise restrict my actions and inclinations.
Perhaps, I hedged, I should engage their services for a trial, a one hour session to decide if having my cleaning performed by a young woman wearing very little – or even nothing at all! – was sufficient recompense for the undoubted expenditure and the uncertain standard of her cleaning.
I decided it was and so I entered in my details – all appointments were pre-paid to ensure genuineness on behalf of the client and as a measure of protection against client indiscretions in that such payments were non-refundable – and selected the option of with bikini though for a cleaner who, should I so ask, would be prepared to remove her bikini, the balance of the monies being 'cash in hand'. At this last I could not but laugh, wondering how many 'bikinis' were transformed into 'sans' by the young lady in question were she sufficiently attractive and persuasive. Perhaps after she had bent over to switch on the vacuum cleaner for the first time, her client might then, if so asked, be willing to see her bikini be removed for the remainder of her shift? I speculated this was more than likely the case, and more often than, perhaps, the employing company were entirely happy with, as I had no doubt that the full monies for the 'full monty' were unlikely to be paid across to the woman – or man, I supposed – in question if they were paid for ahead of time, to say nothing of the enterprising avoidance of tax such encouragement could result in.
Thus I quickly completed the details page, passed through the booking stage, and concluded with the payment stage, and the deed was done, the cleaner having been booked for the following Saturday afternoon to help ensure my home was properly clean ahead of that day's lesson with Eleska. Though Jemma had used the 'classroom' without comment, I felt the need for a clean in general coincided well with Eleska's upcoming first lesson, hence the timing of the contract.
It was, I felt, the beginning of something new, and hence my felt need for additional cleanliness.
With that decided and initiated, my attention fell to my upcoming car journey to the restaurant on the outskirts of the fair city of St. Andrews where Vernon had suggested we meet, and whereat I was to provide an exegesis of my current and escalating predicament. As a rule, self-imposed and strictly enforced until this moment, I would not have considered such an expedition at such a time of the year, the roads being choked with holidaying motorists, all of whom are seemingly hypnotised by their SatNavs, enraged by a variety of 'backseat drivers', and generally intent upon causing and committing as much accidental vehicular carnage as credibility and credulity would allow. Not without reason did those of us who live in Scotland in general, those who have the especial misfortune to live in 'tourist destinations', and those particularly unfortunate enough to live between my home and my destination both curse and lament the necessary burden of the holidaymaker. It would, I momentarily reflected, be of great interest to see some form of analysis of the monetary benefit brought by the tourist, plotted against and compared to the psychological, environmental, and infrastructural damage wrought thereby. It would, I further reflected, likely be research funded by the government and thus likely to be subject to pressure, censure, and redaction until it proclaimed aloud the clarion call to one and all – come visit Scotland, but leave your monies with us.
Feeling satisfied with my self-indulgent solipsistic rant, I returned to the topic of my exegesis, namely the situation which I found myself to be in, due to the presence in my life of the Misses Maclean and Sherrod. It was through them, and because of my realisation that I was gaining no advancing insights of my own in the dynamics which existed between they and me, that I had made the offer of a meal to Vernon, said meal to be exchanged in a curious barter for his advice and insight.
Before heading off, however, I felt I needed to establish a few rules of guidance for myself so that I was better prepared with respect to what I was prepared to divulge, what I was prepared to précis, and what I was not willing to share, no matter that it may frustrate and pollute the advice Vernon may come to offer.
Quite obviously, I was not in the least willing to share the images of Trudi and Jemma with Vernon, principally because such a breach of trust was tantamount to authorising the same breaches of trust which I had held the young women to account over, but also due to the not entirely unconnected fact that, given the arrangement of chromosomes in they and he, Vernon would have no more than a cursory interest in seeing their naked glories, and even then only for the sake of comparing them to whatever notions of the female aesthetic of beauty he cherished at the moment. Were the students in question to be the more 'clean limbed' young men to which his tastes ran, albeit young men who were of at least a legal age, then Vernon might reasonably be expected to demonstrate more engagement with such materiels, but, as the young persons in question were young women, then Vernon might make some pithy remark as to their physical beauty, but otherwise he would find them unable to arouse his interest.
In terms of what I would précis, I felt that personal insights would fall to this, insights such as my own libidinous interest in continuing to see Trudi and Jemma with as little intervening clothing as possible as I found their physical forms lit the fires of onanistic release in a thoroughly pleasing manner. Though I had little doubt that Vernon would suspect this, I felt there to be no need to confirm such suspicions in anything more than a perfunctory manner. Similarly, some details of situations could be elided without polluting the character of the narrative, such as my wondering quite how easily Trudi's bikini might have come off, were she to have been more confident that her mother would not have interrupted us that summer's afternoon.
Lastly, I felt there to be no reason for circumlocution when speaking of the chain of events, of the matter being taught, and of the planned tutoring to continue.
My mind settled, at least for the while, I retired to my cellar, in truth, the lower cupboard section of a Welsh dresser, the upper section of which was given over to pipes, lighters, matches, and other pipe-smoking paraphernalia, to select a tobacco for driving with and by which I thought I should someone honour the occasion. Given Vernon's rather tart character, it would be all too obvious to select something from the aromatic end of the pipe tobacco spectrum, no matter how complex its pretentions. Indeed, something 'off the shelf' would not, I felt, properly and adequately reflect both Vernon and also for the occasion of our luncheon, and it was with that precise thought that the solution presented itself.
Some months previously I had, prior, even, to my relocation to Grangemouth, embarked upon a small distraction, namely the adulterating of commercial pipe tobacco brands as I sought to resolve what I considered, to my personal tastes, were aspects which those brands lacked. Lacking any formal experience in such matters, I had, of course, wasted quite a deal of tobacco, most of it now consigned to a 'dump jar' which I drew upon occasionally, marvelling how no two bowls were ever quite the same and also forgiving much that it lacked. One of my more successful experiments, of which there had been not a few, had been when I had cut a tin of Balkan Sobranie Match with a measure of perique, thereby adding a degree of musty mushroom to the latakia of that particular Balkan. It was unique, it was personal, and it was also the kind of vitamin N smoke which would keep me engaged with the road throughout the journey, allowing, of course, that I smoked it in a rather capacious bowl and packed it with due diligence, the execution of which had always been a part of the plans for the day.
Consequently, with my choice of tobacco made, and with the requisite time taken over selecting a capacious briar which I packed to its maximum capacity and ensured was fully and properly lit, I quit my home, settled into my car and headed off in the company of a programme on Radio 3 which promised a music education upon some unfamiliar Brahms, a matter upon which I felt drawn to improve myself since coming to know Trudi. Finally, with a silent prayer concerning holiday drivers, I eased out of the driveway of my home and headed for St. Andrews and the restaurant Vernon had selected.
It was not much after 1pm when I turned onto the small driveway which led up to the appointed restaurant, a smaller place that I had anticipated, situated a little outside the main environs of the city. It was, in point of fact, a converted farmhouse in fact, though, I reflected, this wasn't so unusual in that it often seemed that be it restaurant, gallery, or some other form of tourist-magnet, almost everything either is or at least lays claim to being a converted farmhouse, a consequence, I mused, of agricultural policies and practices being such as to render farming in twenty-first century Scotland to be either intensive, boutique, or poverty-inducing.
Regardless of which, though I did not know the restaurant myself, as I came to a halt on an immaculately presented gravel carpark to the rear of the building – a converted something, I felt certain – I noted how, between the sunshine and the sea view and the lack of any visible evidence of golf, it was a rather picturesque place for luncheon, the beauty of the place a relaxing distraction from what was to come, or at least that was what I was hoping for.
Quitting the car and entering via the main, indeed, the only entrance, I gave my name to the maître d'hôtel who was, in point of fact, a somewhat handsome woman whose figure was verging on the suggestion that she was on friendly, if not intimate, terms with the chef. Checking her appointment book, she mouthed an unaspirated 'ah' and led me to a small table set off from the main open dining space, giving both extensive views of the sea, yet also such a degree of privacy. This did not a little to reassure me in that, given that Vernon had selected both the restaurant and the seating, he was providing me with yet more evidence that he was, as advertised, seeking to offer himself as a genuine resource of comfort and advice. Though he was cursed with the reputation of being a gossip, especially of academic matters, yet I had never known him to be indiscreet about personal matters which were not already known to his audience. Vernon enjoyed the act of knowing, the possession of that which is unknown to others, to a much greater degree than he did the act of divulging.
Or at least so I told myself, again, for it was upon this judgement of him that I was about to rely.
"Simon!" said Vernon, seeing me and standing as I was ushered to our table. "Still the dowdy Mainwearing of English Literature, I see," he said, shaking my hand, his grip dry but firm.
"Come, Vernon, you know I much prefer the allusion to Pickwick," I said although, in all truth, I was happy with neither reference but, given the choice, I would much rather prefer the comparison be to a figure of literature than to one of light entertainment television. "And yourself, still the dandy," I said, noting how Vernon was presently dressed in two-thirds of his ubiquitous grey pin-stripe three-piece suit, the jacket of which he hung over the chair to his left in a somewhat neglected fashion. To this banker's ensemble he had added a red gingham shirt, bereft of a tie, of course, as was his wont. That he had been blessed with the singular good fortune of retaining a full if not a rather rampant head of hair, grey though it was, and that he carried his seventy years with aplomb did nothing in the least to detract from what I considered to be the fair estimation of him as a sometimes posturing and aging dandy. That he wore a 'ducktail' beard, waxed to a point after the fashion of every villainous Spanish courtier of 1940s movies, only further strengthened my opinion of him, well meant though it was, yet still with more a not inconsiderable degree of truth to it.
Vernon chuckled. "You know, Simon, that if we are to trade less than flattering sobriquets, I would much prefer a coxcomb to a dandy."
"Indeed," I observed, an arched eyebrow indicating that we both knew to what he was referring, just one of those little cues that pass in the exchanges of those who know each other well and which stand in the place of whole exchanges.
"Shall we?" he said, smiling, and indicating our table. As a good host – a title earned by nothing more than having arrived before I – he waited for me to take my seat before taking his own. "I took the liberty of ordering a half-bottle of white. It's a little light on the Sémillon, but chills down to something quite acceptable," he said, nodding towards the bottle semi-inserted into an ice bucket. "And of course, there is iced lemon water for the driver," he said, indicating the carafe whose sides were beading with a light condensation.
"Thank you, Vernon. I shall save my solitary glass for the main course."
"Oh? So you can tell me all the sordid details of your tale while sober?"
"I trust so, though time shall tell."
"Quite so, quite so. Now, if you I could urge you to scan the menu, we can order our meals and then we can get to the business of why you're here today, other than for my scintillating company, of course."
Nodding my acknowledgement and not really paying attention to Vernon's peacocking, I swiftly scrutinised the menu and elected to commence our meal with a Brie salad, to follow that with a cod fillet with 'petit vegetables' for my main, and to conclude with cheeses and oatcakes for what I personally considered to be the somewhat incongruously titled 'desert'. For his part, Vernon went with a potted fish, followed by a slow-roasted pork with a peach jus which he assured me was not so sugary as one might fear, and finishing with a matching cheese and oatcakes.
Our selections duly made and communicated to our waiter who seemed ignorant of the attentions paid to his arse by Vernon, and he having retired not a yard out of earshot, it was at that moment that Vernon elected that it was time to live up to his reputation, at least in part.
I should have expected it, perhaps sooner.
"So, Simon, tell me now, this student of yours who is giving you so much trouble-"
"Trudi," I supplied.
"Trudi? Trudi then. So, tell me, Simon, have you been playing nug-a-nug with this Trudi yet? Enjoyed much convivial society with her?"
"I'm sorry?" I queried, not quite sure, though I had more than a little suspicion, to what he was alluding, his expressions rather beyond my everyday vocabulary and even, though I would be loath to confess it so, somewhat outside the realms of my academic vocabulary too.
"Have you been charvering with her, Simon? Engaged in a little swiving, perhaps?" he continued.
"Vernon, I can guess, by context, and especially with reference to that last and rather Chaucerian term, what you are asking, as I am sure you are more than aware. So, tell me Vernon, will this performance continue much longer? And, tangentially, how many of those terms you were already familiar with, and how many have you researched especially for the benefit of today?"
Vernon laughed. "Come now, Simon. Some I knew, others I researched, but I have just the one more, I think, and then we can move on. So, Simon," he began with dramatic build-up quite the equal of a carpet-chewing Gielgud and concluding with, "Have you even gone so far as to have ... pierced her hogshead?"
"My answer, Vernon, is in the negative, though quite where you came by some of those phrases I cannot fully imagine."
"Ah, you prefer the vulgar tongue?" Vernon asked, his tongue now firmly planted in his cheek. "Well, then, Simon, let's cut to the chase, and it's the oldest chase in the world. So, who is she, how did you come by her, and have you sunk yourself deep enough into her nubile young cunt to find yourself a little late middle-aged nirvana?"
"Vernon!" I rasped, unsurprised but a little unprepared for quite the bluntness he had chosen to express himself with. "I've done nothing of the kind."
"Ah, and that's your distress?"
"No. Yes. Not really. Okay, give me a moment to collect my thoughts," I said as I took a sip of water, its coldness soothing me, somewhat.
"So, break it down for me, Simon. Who is she? How did you come by her? And what is it about her that is driving you to seek my advice, if any?" said Vernon, sounding very much the professor he had been for so long, and, respectfully, treating me like a new student, unable to express their thoughts outside of the paradigm of chronology. I was back to first principles.
"Her name is Trudi. It began some months ago when I was sitting in the park, reading, smoking, sampling the ambience, when I was startled by a medium-sized dog running up to me, running ahead of his owners, a mother and her daughter."
"Her teen-aged daughter?" Vernon artfully corrected.
"Indeed, her very teen-aged daughter. Trudi was fourteen at the time, an age she remains, coincidentally, until tomorrow.
"Regardless of that, as they approached to where I was sitting I thought the mother to be more than passingly attractive, possessed of a certain measure of assuredness which can camouflage much though which, in her case, is a camouflage of which she is in no particular need.
"Accompanying her, obviously a cast of her mother but with the undeniable zestiness of youth plus the admixture of an absent father, a father who was, I would later learn, entirely absent, was her daughter.
"As they approached to retrieve their pet, we chatted inconsequentially enough about their dog whom Trudi had named Eighty in reflection of his mixed ancestry and rather skewed appearance, after which they departed.
"It was, I thought, nothing other than a charming diversion from Blake-"
"Blake? Again, Simon?" Vernon mock scolded.
"Blake, Vernon, always Blake, you know that. Yes, they were a charming diversion on a summer's evening, but nothing more, or so I thought."
"Simon, do I have to drag this out of you? For God's sake, man, give me the straight story up until now, and without those peregrinations of thought of yours."
I was about to speak when, looking up, I noticed from the corner of my eye that our starters were en route, and so, until we had been served and were once again alone, I held my counsel.
Vernon saw what I was waiting for, and waved me on to continue with his fork once our waiter was once more beyond earshot, his manner that of Karajan.
I recommenced my narrative. "As I said, I thought no more of them, either of them, and then, a few days later as I was again on the same bench, Blake in hand, I was once more accosted by the unusually-named labradoodle, who, this time, was accompanied only by the younger of the Macleans.
"Surprising me somewhat, she sat down next to me, and asked what I was reading. I explained a little of what Paradise Lost is, and that I was a tutor of English.
"This seemed to pique Ms. Maclean, who asked if I ever tutored privately.
"I said that I had not for a long time, upon which matter she expressed regret as to her own, seemingly unilateral search for someone to help improve her grades.
"I was struck, as we spoke, of how companionable I found her company, she being not at all the boorish company which many teen-aged persons are, as I am sure you still regretfully remember from our time suffering with first year seminars. Regardless, and, I promise, with no motivation beyond the desire to fill my long days with something more than the onanastic reading of favoured texts, I offered my services, not gratis, but determining to pitch my fees within her mother's anticipated range.
"Presently, a telephone conversation with the mother ensued, a token fee was agreed, and I found myself with a young student to tutor in the rudiments of English literature, though in truth her difficulty was a combination of learning how to read the questions, and how to be able to express her unfocused thoughts and instincts when confronted with a text. Beyond that, I have found her to be rather more intelligent than are the majority, and I see nothing to prevent her from achieving her desiréd grades."
"Simon, you've fleshed out the background, a background which, frankly, tells me little other than that this Trudi is fourteen. How is she such a problem?"
"That began, well, it actually began right back in our first lesson. You see, I arrived at the Maclean household fully intending to deliver a basic lesson in how to read a question and glean what it is that the setter is actually looking for. This was all to be conducted under the chaperonage of Sandra, the mother. What I discovered, however, was that Trudi was waiting for me in the garden – it was at the beginning of the spell of good weather we are enjoying at the moment – and that she had been in the garden for some time, dressed in her bikini."
"Oh-ho!" chuckled Vernon.
"Oh-ho indeed. She pleaded with her mother that she not be required to change, citing her desire not to stand out from her classmates for a lack of a tan upon her return to school. Sandra deferred to me upon the matter, and, seeking to demonstrate my professionalism, though with the undisclosed additional motivation of her being more than easy on the eye, even in a conservatively cut bikini, I authorised the lesson to continue that way, and it did, without any real incident.
"That came, however, in her second lesson where Trudi was dressed in a pretty summer dress, sans brassiere, and whereat she indulged in a deal more leaning forward than was at all or entirely necessary.
"I challenged her over her behaviour, and she fled the scene, leaving me to retire.
"Unfortunately, or perhaps not for you may adjudge it differently than I, I had also agreed to act as chauffeur and chaperone to Trudi, taking her to a musical concert where she was engaged to play the English flute. She is, I would add, rather accomplished at this and may, should her other grades be sufficient, and hence her motivation, be able to obtain a scholarship, perhaps to Cambridge. Feeling myself duty bound, I arrived at the appointed hour, and did indeed escort Ms. Maclean to a thoroughly and unexpectedly enjoyable concert.
"However, upon our return, and before I had had the opportunity to take my leave of her for the night, Trudi retired to her room, unknowingly to me, changing out of her dress and replacing it with a delightful wrap; silk, I think.
"How-some-ever, that was not the end of the matter in that, in short order, she made it plain that she had noticed how I had looked when I had thought she was not watching, how she enjoyed making an exhibition of herself, and how she was confident that I was curious to see more, social mores and questions of legality notwithstanding. I was, perhaps, still rather distracted on having been caught out with what I had believed to have been my surreptitious snatching of glimpses of Ms. Maclean, so I was not entirely prepared concerning how best to react when she opened her robe and proceeded to remove her undergarments, leaving her naked as the day she was born, though much changed by the interim.
"She expressed her confidence of our continuing relationship, whereupon I left," I said, expressing myself in such a definitive manner as to indicate to Vernon that I wished, for the while, to conclude my starter, which I did as I watched a succession of thoughtful expressions play across Vernon's face.
My starter concluded, Vernon hastily called across our server, concerned, perhaps, that I might lose my thread, or my courage, and my narrative would come to an end.
Our plates were cleared, our mains brought, my wine glass charged, and, after taking an investigatory couple of forkfuls of my main course, and having discovered the cod fillet to be the height of perfection, I resumed my monologue.
"Where ... ah, yes. So, having discovered Trudi's predilection for self-exposure, I was still vacillating, really, over what to do, how to do it, and how to have some measure of control over the whole thing when I received a call from Sandra, the mother, inviting me to Sunday lunch...
"There was a 'before'.
"Before the invitation for lunch came, and after the concert revelations, I was awoken late one evening, having retired at a civilised time, to see that I was being sent text and picture messages by Trudi, the former being teasing inquiries into my feelings on the matter, and the latter being a progression of images of the young lady in her undergarments, and then out of said undergarments."
I paused a moment, certain that Vernon would interrupt, but he chose not to, and so I continued.
"Anyway, the meal itself was delightful, as was the company, yet, even with her mother present, Trudi sought any and all opportunities to expose herself to me, an enterprise in which she was unknowingly aided by her mother who, suffering with a migraine, retired late in the afternoon. This, of course, allowed Trudi the kind of free reign which she could not but seek to take full advantage of. Indeed, the afternoon concluded with a naked Trudi taking the opportunity to kiss me, not en passant, nor continental style, nor even Parisian style, but, rather, upon my lips, even seeking to go so far as to attempt to introduce her tongue into the kiss, something which I somehow resisted.
"Following on from this, I received a call from Trudi's mother a few days later, expressing vague concerns about something important but not urgent and yet of such a nature as that she felt it could only be discussed in person, hence her invitation to lunch in town, sans Trudi.
"Of course I was worried, concerned that we had been found out, but instead of this Sandra simply wished to make me aware that her daughter, not yet a woman as she phrased it, was sometimes apt to forget herself, and could behave in a childish manner in an adult situation, and vice versa, citing as an example of her childishness how she had forgotten to put on her bra before going out on several occasions.
"Vernon, truly, I promise you that she even phrased herself in such a way as to ask for me to bring to her attention any behaviour of Trudi's which I found to be disquieting or unacceptable.
"Thus being gifted with the metaphorical keys to the chicken shed and following on from this, another lesson took place wherein Trudi displayed the academic abilities I already suspected she had – truly, her needs lie more in understanding the peculiarities of expression of essay questions rather than her comprehension of the actual materiels – added to which, of course, Trudi found she 'needed' to remove her clothing, this time recruiting my assistance insofar as she seemed to enjoy my asking her what to remove and what to retain.
"It was not long after this that I had the dream, a nocturnal phantasy which opened my eyes to the possibility that, under certain circumstances, it would seem that I had already come to some kind of decision with regards to sexual congress with Ms. Maclean, namely that it was or is something which I cannot authoritatively say never to.
"From thence, well, to be a little more brief than I have been, Ms. Maclean has shown me clear and undeniable proof that, though I suspect her to be a virgin, her hymen is a thing of the past. Its loss I suspect to be a consequence of her fit and active lifestyle, though I suppose one should also consider the possibility that it may have been sacrifice as a consequence of her using a tampon during menstruation, or even, since she has also demonstrated her enjoyment of said activity, masturbation.
"Indeed, that last possibility may be the most likely to be correct in that, at the conclusion of our most recent lesson, she made a gift for me of her panties, removed immediately after she had masturbated herself before my eyes.
"Oh, and I suppose I should add, tangentially, that Trudi has brokered my services to her friend, a Ms. Jemma Sherrod, from whom too I have received images and personal evidence of her nakedness, though hers is, I believe, driven more by considerations of personal experience and development than the seemingly subconscious erotic thrill which drives Trudi.
"And that, Vernon, is the end of my narrative," I declared, as I sat back and took a rather larger gulp of my wine than manners would dictate, it being in fact a gulp rather than a sip by virtue of the quantity of wine which was drunk, almost quaffed, even.
Vernon, who had listened to my chronicle in silence and who had had, as a result of the one-sidedness of our 'conversation', rather the more opportunity to eat than had I, amused himself with his wine whilst I hurriedly concluded my own main course, whereupon our flatware was cleared and our cheeses and biscuits delivered.
The sense of expectation, at least on my part, was almost palpable, but it was not until the first biscuit, laden with a Scottish cheddar, had been consumed that Vernon began his response.
"You do appreciate that ephebophilia is rather more common than many suspect?" Vernon asked, his tone rather less sharp than I might have anticipated. "You know, that primitive drive to leave one's seed in as many moist and fertile quims as one can, Darwinian evolution even going so far, it has been claimed, as to drive we poor men to seek out said wombs at the very moment they are capable of conceiving, namely, mid-teens."
"That doesn't help," I said, rather more tersely than I had intended. In truth, I had little time for the fallacies of evolutionary psychology and its spurious claims to be able to explain every facet of human behaviour in terms of what would help some imaginary caveman to force his genes upon subsequent generations. Sophists.
"Are you sure of that, Simon? Doesn't that one fact, a factlet, really, inform you that no matter how present day society may judge your indulges of Miss Maclean, when taken from a biological standpoint, it is almost inescapable."