Ben’s Bit, part 15 – Bolero
At first, I think it’s a memory of a dream – of that night when knowledge of the unknown Miss Goodnight, soon to be Golding, came into my life. The heels on the concrete corridor this time are tapping a slower rhythm. It passes my cell door, rendering me fully awake, then diminishes as she walks further along the corridor. There is a missed beat as something happens, and I can hear a scratching noise as though one of the shoes is being reinstated; then nothing but the silence of agonised thinking as a direction changes in the dim light out there in one of the darkest of Bakewell Gaol’s old corridors…
And then the heels are coming back… This time they stop and linger at my door. I am, by now, fully awake, and I rise from my bed and slip on my dull, grey, prisoner’s overall and stand facing the door.
When the door opens without the sound of the old key turning, I have to check that I am actually awake and not in a dream. I suspect it has not been locked since Roger Sylvester brought me the tea, in a kindly gesture that left me wrecked for hours afterwards, but something has blocked me from trying it… as though it would be a betrayal of Roger’s obvious trust in me…
But, now, it is not Roger who stands before me. Miss Golding, in all her slightly inebriated beauty, clicks into the cell, carrying a bottle of red wine, two plastic glasses and a carrier bag from Marks and Spencer.
“Tell me to sod off, if you like,” she says, simply, opening her eyes wide to punctuate the question. Just at that moment, she looks a lot more vulnerable than I feel, which, in itself, is considerable…
“Why would I do that?” I ask her, stepping aside and indicating that, heels notwithstanding, the wine would be safer on my small table. “It’s not like I get a surfeit of visitors.”
She’s more sad than drunk, though a degree of alcohol has played its part in her being here.
“Told him to take a hike,” she says, sitting down on the bed. “Told him to take his twisted mind and lacklustre body and stuff it…”
Whatever it is, it has begun. The wings of this and not-this are beating over my head, A world is being separated, polarised.
“Some wine?” I ask, delighted to be re-acquainted with my second favourite indulgence. Fortunately, the bottle is a screw-top and, seconds later, the gentle and familiar sound of pouring wine brings delight into the dank air of the cell. As she pours, the smell of her perfume fills the air and I realise how much you can miss something…
“Don’t worry,” she says, chinking the plastic glasses which produce a dull tap, but it suffices. “He’s gone – flounced off in a rage… typical!”
I sip some of my wine. “I assume we’re speaking of Dr Grey?”
“Yes,” she replies in a little girl voice, then takes a deep breath and pulls herself back to adulthood. “The renowned Dr Grey…” she draws out the word ‘renowned’“. “Who screws his lively assistant any time he can get the the keys to the interview room…”
It’s an admission that doesn’t surprise me. What surprises me is that she’s here in my cell, and we’re drinking red wine…
“And they’ve all set it up so carefully,” she glugs some more red. “and they didn’t think there’d be any cracks…”
I almost daren’t ask. “And it all centres on me?” I ask, incredulous.
“You just happened to be here at the right… sorry wrong time,” she says putting her free hand out and stroking my thigh. “I realise that this is not a game for you, no matter that those bastards think…”
“Those bastards?” I ask quietly, refilling her glass, and wondering about the all-important plural.
“Don’t ask,” she says, having some more red. “More than my life’s worth – I’d never work again… not in this field anyway.”
Knowing a lot more than I did, I leave revelation to take its own course. Another half bottle of pleasant small talk and she gets to her feet, less steadily this time, and beckons me to follow.
We stand facing each other. It’s a seminal moment…
“Take the overall off,” she says. She’s a woman who knows what she wants. It’s refreshing… especially as I appear to be it.
Smiling like it’s Christmas, I pull down the zip on the hated garment and step out of it, revealing my rather average body and a pair of standard issue white boxers. She looks at the pale, winter skin and smiles, then takes a new shirt out of the Marks and Spencer bag.
Presuming nothing, and somewhat confused, I reach for my wine and sip it while I watch her fingers expertly dispense with the packaging. She shakes out the shirt, “Sorry about the creases.” Then she pulls my arms up and slides the pleasant blue shirt onto my torso. Soon she is doing up the front buttons, leaving the cuffs to flap.
Finished, she stands back and drinks some of her wine, while she surveys my new outer layer.
“Nice,” she says simply. “Sorry about the creases…” With that, she puts down her plastic glass and slides her body into mine. Her precise nails slide up my back, making her intentions very clear as our midsections dance.
“Just wanted to see you in something beautiful before I undressed you…” Miss Goodnight says, with tears in her eyes.
But they are tears which do not diminish her ardour…
<See index below for other parts of this story>
———————————————————–< to be continued-
Ben’s Bit is a continuing first-person narrative of the character created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent, which may bear some relation to the author of this story, Steve Tanham, their fellow director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness. In the latest of their books, Scions of Albion, Ben is arrested for his overly enthusiastic part in a mad escapade, and the other two are nowhere to be seen . . . For more, enjoy their Doomsday series of books, and the new series (Lands of Exile) beginning soon. Click here for details.
Index to Ben’s Bits:
The Silent Eye School of Consciousness – a modern mystery school.