Elsie sits alone on the beach. She knows that she is the most beautiful girl in the town. She strongly resents that this does not do her much good. Her husband is the town magistrate, universally respected, much-loved, even feared – as much as any magistrate should be feared.
“How old are you?”
Mrs. Stoneman and her daughter Megan, settled in to their little twin room in one of the luxury huts of the resort complex. For the first two days they stayed inside the grounds, eating the buffet breakfast and choosing a restaurant within the gates for their evening meal. On the third day, they found themselves looking though those gates, wondering what went on, out there, in the real Gambia.
Laura washed her hands and stared into the mirror of her parent’s bathroom. Her face was tense and sleep-deprived. The smell of Imperial Leather soap suddenly transported her back fifteen years, to the seventies, her teenage years. As a teenager she had spent a lot of time observing her reflection in this mirror, wondering if she was pretty enough. A white hair in her fringe snapped her back to the present. She plucked it out and examined the skin around her eyes. Crow’s feet, or the beginnings of them, at least. She pulled up her t-shirt and examined her stomach. Puckered and soft, like a deflated balloon. Since having Colm she had definitely aged.
It had been a long confinement. Longer than most. She felt like she had been locked down for years. No sex for years. It had got to the stage where she had lubricious dreams, filled with mouths, penises, breasts, vulvae and fingers. She dreamed of cunnilingus and fellatio. She nightmared about being taken from behind and her gut exploding from the pressure. She woke fretful and anxious, dissatisfied. Her aloneness was underlined by the fact she could not see friends, not travel and not move from her flat. The rare times she went out, people looked askance, as did she, at the civil disobedience which she declared by her mere presence in public.
My friend Harvey liked the exotic. I was reminded of this when, flying to Malaga, our plane had to head for an emergency landing at Toulouse.
We must have been over the Bay of Biscay – I could see water on the starboard side – when a passenger stood up and pointed to black smoke streaming from one of the engines.
Barney thought that wife-swapping was his idea. But, actually, it was Betty’s idea. We’d be lolling around the pool and she’d be saying things like, “Look at Wilma, Barney. Doesn’t she look hot. What a great bod that Wilma has,” and Barney began to notice and started looking at me with a hungry, sabertooth grin. Fred, my Fred, would never have thought of something so adult, not with all the hinting in the world. Not that he was against it. No, he’s just not very imaginative. But ever since we were put on “permanent hiatus” things have been a little slow in Bedrock. People were starting to get bored if not downright edgy. We needed something new.
Morrison needs to chill before work and so he’s perched on a stool in the ancient Buddha Bar. It’s like being inside a mummy, what with the half light, the blood red velour wall paper, the synthetic plush carpeting with cigarette burn holes starting to form a pattern, the permeating stink of the years that almost feels like time is sliding back into itself, trying to retract the past. Morrison always liked the Buddha Bar because you could shift in there and most of the time people let you alone to do it.
Doctor Stephen Frost and Doctor Rachel Davidson were two of the most esteemed residents of Indianapolis, Indiana.
They devoted themselves to causes praised by other residents, whether they stood left or right of the centre. They supported the arts and the restoration of historic neighbourhoods. They supported college scholarships for worthy young people from low-income families of all ethnic backgrounds. But their principal philanthropic interests were medical. Stephen, an orthopaedic surgeon, devoted several hours of one Saturday each month to performing free surgeries for the indigent. Rachel, a cardiologist, spent several hours of one Sunday each month in the same way. She was Jewish. Though generally not observant, she treated Saturday the way Christians treat Sunday.
When he walked into Nebraska, I thought here is someone sturdy enough to withstand the press of wind and sky. Where the shed leaned east, he walked straight, and his hair was colored like the October cornstalks.