CLICK ON THE SNOWFLAKE TO OPEN THE DOOR!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM RUTH SIMS
Once in a while I think every one of us writes a scene we love because it’s funny, or evocative, or whatever. Since it doesn’t “do anything” for the story, it’s reluctantly removed. But thanks to the magic of electronics, it never really goes away. There it sits on the computer, begging to be let out, but there’s just no place for it. And then a brilliant friend comes up with the idea of a special blog called an Advent Calendar, and since you can’t come up with anything new, a happy solution is born.
And so, ladies and germs, following is a scene that was in the original Counterpoint but was subsequently eliminated. I tweaked it a bit, and hope you enjoy it as a stand-alone, amusing episode. Merry Christmas.
P.S. What follows the eliminated scene IS in the book!
One Way to Lose a Hat
Dylan was in a funk. The Christmas celebrations and parties were over, the tree with its candles and beads was gone, Boxing Day was over, his sister had departed to spend a weekend in the country with her fiancé and his parents, and he was bored. He wanted the holiday to end so he could go back to Bede. That was the first time in his life such a thing had occurred. Of course, he knew it wasn’t school he wanted to return to; he hated classes and studying. He wanted to return to school to be near— The ringing of the telephone in the library across the foyer interrupted his thoughts.
A moment later his mother came into the study, a painful expression on her soft, pretty face. “Darling,” she said, “please come talk to your friend Robert on that dreadful contraption.”
Dylan’s bad mood lightened at the mention of Rob’s name. Rob was always good for an adventure or a laugh or certain secret, vile, and unspeakably fun activities in dark corners of the school’s library or athletic changing room. Dylan laughed at his mother. “Mum, once the new century pops in, everyone will have one of those ‘dreadful contraptions.’ You’ll have to talk on telephones like it or not.”
She sniffed and walked ahead of him to the library, where the contraption resided. “I will manage to ignore them quite nicely,” she said. “And I hope they return the favor.”
Rob’s voice, unheard since the holiday began, spoke into Dylan’s ear. “This is your last holiday as a schoolboy, old man. I want to make it something you’ll never forget. How soon can you be ready to leave for an evening of unadulterated entertainment? I planned it, and I’ll even pay for it.”
“I’m ready now,” Dylan said.
“I can’t even see you and I know you’re not. Put good clothes on. Look like a gentleman for a change. Tell your mater you don’t know what time you’ll be home. I’ll come after you at six o’clock. Be ready.” The telephone clicked in Dylan’s ear.
Rob, unlike his friend, was always punctual and arrived on the spot of six, crisply dressed in black, his shirt and tie white enough to grace the Blessed Virgin on her Heavenward ascent. He risked shocking people, however, with a waistcoat the color of ripe apples. Over his shoulders was a dashing cape and on his head was a silk hat. He could not hide his annoyance at Dylan’s attire.
“What are you wearing?” he asked, eyeing the grey striped trousers with the black coat and waistcoat. Dylan’s shirt cuffs stuck out from the sleeves and his trousers barely grazed his ankles.
Dylan looked down. “I didn’t have anything suitable. My evening-wear went missing between school and here. I borrowed my brother’s morning suit.”
Rob covered his offended eyes for a moment. “Morning suit. In the evening. Borrowed. Your brother is shorter than you! You look like a charity case.” He sighed. “Is it remotely possible you have a proper hat, gloves, and walking stick?”
Dylan shrugged. “A hat and walking stick would simply be two more things to lose. Of course I have gloves. I have some sense of style!”
“You keep it well hidden.Very well, I’ll yield on the stick. But you must have a hat. Pinch your father’s, why don’t you? Oh, come along, Dyl. I planned an unforgettable evening; you must make some effort!”
In the end, Dylan borrowed his father’s hat, setting it on the back of his mop of brown hair in a completely rakish way that made Rob roll his eyes. But once they were off in Rob’s new red-wheeled gig, trotting through the cold night, Dylan’s habitual lack of style was forgotten.
They dined at the Café Royal, where Rob bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate being young and footloose. A comic opera at the Alhambra followed dinner, and Dylan laughed with abandon at the jokes. Then Rob took his rig home and hired a cab for a trip to the lower side of town. “I wouldn’t dare take my own,” he said. “It would get stolen and we’d likely get knocked on the head for it.”
Their destination was a crowded, noisy, lower-class music hall called the Red Cat. Dylan was mildly surprised to see a number of families in the audience, and there seemed to be more people eating food from greasy newspapers and swigging pints of beer, than were watching the stage.
Rob and Dylan wove their way to a sticky table near the stage. Rob elbowed him. “The first part of your special Christmas surprise is about to make an appearance,” he shouted over the loud buzz of voices.
A stout man in a plaid suit trotted out form the wings, cupped his hands around his mouth, and bellowed at the crowd, “Quiet down!” Miraculously, they did, which surprised Dylan even more. Rob grinned at him. The plaid-clad man said in a loud, grandiose way, “She’s here! What you been waiting for! The toast of five continents! The most desired woman of our century! The lady who makes Lily Langtry look like one of Her Majesty’s dogs! The lady —”
“— whose bubbies are big as ale barrels!” shouted a man behind Dylan. “Come on, let’s have ’er on. Lil! Lil!”
The chant was picked up, became deafening. Dylan put his lips to Rob’s ear and shouted, “What are bubbies?”
Rob shouted back, “Her — her —” He cupped his hands in front of his chest. “Her front.”
Curious to see his first ‘bubbies,’ Dylan joined in the chant, ignorant of who Lil was, enjoying the euphoria of being one of the rowdy crowd. And there she was. No long skirts or petticoats or high collar to hide her generous female form. She appeared before them in scandalous glory, wearing something black that showed her neck and arms, and a goodly portion of bosom. Her legs gleamed with black silk accented by red garters; white flesh showed at the top of the stockings. London Lil pranced about the stage to the sound of brassy music and cheers. She stopped prancing to sing in a quivering soprano accompanied by florid gestures, “‘…Her beauty was sold for an old man’s gold, She’s a bird in a gilded cage…’”
The tinny piano played the song again at twice the speed while Lil danced, kicking her feet over her head, affording everyone greater glimpses of plump thighs and tantalizing hints of parts not intended to be seen. Dylan was slack-jawed with astonishment. “Rob!” he said, pointing. “She—” He turned so abruptly toward Rob he almost fell from his chair. “Her chest — bounces!”
The upper bulge of Lil’s celebrated bosom quivered with every step. Lil finished her performance with a saucy showing of her derrière, more or less covered with black lacy ruffles. Rob leaped up and grabbed Dylan’s sleeve.
“Come on. The rest of your surprise awaits.” He dragged Dylan out into the alley and up an outside flight of stairs, where, to Dylan’s impatient questions he answered, “Oh, hush. You’ll find out.”
They were there five minutes before the figure of a woman emerged from the stage door and toiled up the stairs. Dylan stared. “Rob! It’s Lil herself.”
Rob laughed. “Right you are, old dear. Bubbies and all, and they’re all ours.”
Lil drew near, holding up a lantern. By its light, Dylan saw a tired, much-older face blotched with cosmetics. A long, shapeless duster hid her costume and shielded her from the cold. “Which one o’ you babies is the virgin?” she asked with indifference.
“Well, it most certainly is not I!” Rob said, indignant.
Dylan glared at him. He gave a start and drew back slightly as she cupped his chin with her hand.
“Such a pretty boy. But then, ye both are pretty boys. Give me a few minutes, lads.” She let them into her room and knelt to poke up a low fire in the grate. “It’s bloody cold, it is,” she muttered, then disappeared behind a folding screen. “We’d save time,” she called, “if ye’d wank your willies first.”
Dylan turned on Rob. “What the bloody hell is she talking about?”
“You do know what wank means, I presume.”
“Well, of course I know. What’s that got to do with her? Save what time?”
“I hired her. For us. You need the experience.” He smirked.
“Aren’t you curious?”
“Well, yes, but—”
“Well, there you have it. An educational venture.”
“She’s old enough to be my mother.”
“You’re not going to marry her. Come on. Don’t be such a prawn. It’s not difficult. A few pokes and it’s over. You have to do it sooner or later.”
“You’ve been with her before?”
“Ah — no. Not Lil. But she’s famous for her squeezes.”
Rob was saved having to answer by Lil’s reappearance. She sat down on the bed. “Who’s first?” She was wearing some sort of gossamer thing with feathers and spangles. Her famous “bubbies” sagged with their weight; her famous legs were now bare, heavy, and covered with minute purple veins. The feet that had sported daring shoes with high heels were knobby and sore-looking. She smelled.
Lil glanced at their crotches and sighed. “Ain’t wanked ’em, eh? You swells expect Lil to do all the work. Well, bring your little willies over here and take your trousies down.”
Rob and Dylan looked at each other. Dylan gave Rob a slight shove. “You go first. Show me how it’s done.”
Rob in turn pushed Dylan. “No, you go first. I’ll offer suggestions from here.”
Lil sighed, got up, latched on to Dylan’s wrist and pulled him toward the bed. She opened the black filmy garment and placed his hand upon her breast.
Dylan had not realized how large and dark and hairy his hand was until it lay upon the soft white mound of flesh. He gave a slight experimental twitch of his fingers and jumped when she howled, “Oh, oh, oh!”
“I didn’t mean to hurt you!” he cried in panic and snatched his hand away.
“F’r Gawd’s sake,” she muttered, grabbed his hand and put it where it had been. “If ye don’t get a move on, I’m like to freeze to death!”
At a peculiar sound Dylan glanced over at Rob, who fell back against the wall, holding his stomach, wheezing with laughter that threatened to choke him.
I am going to murder him, thought Dylan. I am going to cut him into little pieces and no jury of my peers would convict me.
Lil removed his hand. “Ye ain’t much of a bubbie boy, eh? Ye want to get right to th’ quim, eh?” She sat up, threw away the filmy garment, flopped on her back and spread her legs. Dylan was both fascinated and repelled by her oddly-lacking pelvis and the black thatch of hair that guarded dark mysteries he did not want to solve. He glanced at Rob who had tears streaming down his cheeks, and back at her. She threw up her hands.
“God ’elp me and keep virgin boys from my door! See here, I been dancin’ and singin’ and I’m too tired to wait very long. So if ye want to cuddle-me-cuddie, ye’d best get at it.”
Dylan stood up. “I, um, need to consult with my friend. Excuse me, please?” He glanced back at her as she lay spread and ready, filing her nails as she waited. He giggled, giggled some more, and clung to Rob.
“I can’t,” he said. “You go.”
“I can’t either,” Rob wheezed. “Ugh — she’s a dirty old bag, isn’t she. I wouldn’t put my precious stick in her for anything, now.”
“But you’d let me!?”
“I say, Dyl, don’t look now, but—”
Lil’s hand descended on Dylan’s shoulder. “Ye’d best get your lobcock and twiddle-diddles back t’bed, little boy. Ye don’t get your money back.”
“My— my what?” Dylan snorted and burst into laughter as great as Rob’s. “Come on, Rob. Come on!” He grabbed Rob’s arm and pushed him, cackling with mirth, to the door. “Keep his money, Miss Lil. Good evening.”
Outside in the night air, they continued to howl until they were unable to speak. They sat on a curb, trying to get their breath, but every time their eyes met they started in again.
“Good ol’ Lil,” Dylan whispered. “Good for what ails you.” He hiccoughed to a stop and dried his tears, and remembered something. “Hey, Rob. I left my father’s hat up there.”
“Mine’s up there too.”
Dylan peered owlishly at Rob. His mouth twitched and his stomach hurt as the laughter bubbled up once more. “Lobcock!” he whimpered, crossing his arms on his knees and burying his face in them. His shoulders shook. “Lobcock and twiddle-diddles!”
Rob put his arm over Dylan’s shoulders. “Oh, f’rget Lil. There’s nobody home at my place. We’ll have it all to ourselves. I can teach you as much as ol’ Lil. Same lesson. Different tools.” He leaned over and bit Dylan’s ear as lazy snowflakes fell on and around them.
Advent Calendar Giveaway!
Two Random Drawings, one for a print copy of The Phoenix, and one for a PDF:
The print copy will go to any one in the US or Canada who leaves a comment on this post. A PDF of The Phoenix will go to any winner outside the US or Canada.
Why the difference? To my regret, shipping is high and income is nil.