A Little Bit of Me

Jottings and Writing, miscellanous misgivings

Harold Caustic Jokes

Harold’s Caustic Jokes

Harold’s caustic jokes always made Ruth feel uncomfortable but others just laughed. Even when Ruth cried they followed Harold’s lead and told her she was supersensitive, to grow up, get a life.

One day Harold, one day. This will all come back to haunt you.

There he stands, resplendent in his red and white nylon jacket, his receding hairline still has some ways to go to total baldness. He grins often. His Nikes are huge and he wears them so that his athletic socks are prominent. His stone washed denims are now almost white. His camera – a Pentax – hangs like a trophy around his neck. His Honda SLK900 is parked in the outer circle of motorbikes and matches his clothing. He smiles as he crouches and asks his favourite rider to smile and pose whilst he snaps him.

There is a little bit of the homoerotic in you Harold.

“Get out of the background Ruth. You’ll break the bloody lens.” Harold laughs aloud at his little joke.

Snap, snap, snap. He has the multi-shot motor on. He grins around the corner of the viewfinder at his hero.

“How about sitting astride the beast Gordon?”

Gordon obliges and Harold click, click, clicks.

But I love and need Harold. He makes me feel whole. Most of the time anyway. When his vitriolic urges are at a low ebb.

I’ll tell you a little about myself. I’m tall and attractive. I know this to be a truth, although Harold does his best to deny this fact. I am a little overweight but nothing a week’ diet wouldn’t fix. I wear yellow a lot. It sets off my strawberry blond hair and I read that it’s my color. My Mum always said that I was a little slow. I think she meant that I talked and walked slow, not that I was retarded or anything. I haven’t done as well as my brother and two sisters. My older sisters are both doctors and my brother is an architect and I ended up working in a factory, then as a model. Then I met Harold and we got married. Harold is between jobs at the moment. For a large part of our marriage Harold has been between jobs. He doesn’t stick at things for long. Harold gets bored easily. Me, I have been in the same job since I married Harold. I work as a pharmacy assistant. Pharmacy assistant; it has a nice ring to it and the job is interesting. Not only do I pharmacy assist but I do all the bookwork for Dr Lewis. Dr Lewis is the pharmacist and he is the sort of man that I should have ended up with. But he probably sees me as the slow, stupid Ruth-person who does her routine job adequately. He doesn’t see me for who I really am. Neither for that matter, do I.

It would be easy to steal some drug or another from the potpourri of those on offer that are untraceable. Dr Lewis has explained the ones that do it. It would be easy to smuggle some out and then drip feed it to Harold. No one need know. No one would detect it.

“Come on Ruth-shake a leg. Always lagging behind. We have a party to go to.”

I could feel my rage rising. Remember the calming, self-nurturing statements.

I was reading about a woman who went through with her rage against (in this case) her former husband. After unsuccessfully trying to run him down, as he stood at a bus-stop, for the second time, she took out a ‘hit’. Basically she asked her associates to break her ex-husbands legs. They took her instructions quite liberally and beat her husband so severely with a car jack that seasoned plastic surgeons threw their collective arms into the air.

So at the party I start out feeling confident. Harold leaves me as soon as we get there. Funny how he always gets together with his mates and they drink beer and laugh at their own jokes, then he collects me at the end of the evening, to ride home on the back of his bike, clinging, my arms around his waist, caressing him. I start talking to one of the men who doesn’t mix with the boys and the words just flow out of me like a leaking tap. I sound confident and I can hear my own voice echoing back. But I can see the light go out in his eyes.  Next, I am running up to the second floor bathroom where I sit crying, where Harold finds me and asks me what the hell are you blabbering about now Ruth? And I can’t tell him. I just don’t know.

One day Harold. One day I will be articulate and confident. One day I will be able to put my thoughts into words. One day Harold.

Then we are back at the house and Harold is alternatively amorous and sarcastic. I have to be careful how I act, as Harold can be nasty when he has alcohol coursing through his body. He has hit me when my silences have annoyed him. The word is probably beaten. Black eyes, bruised ribs, a broken finger, a lost tooth.

But tonight he is more interested in sex and sleep, although he falls asleep before the sex and I am left lying there in the dark. Thinking. Thinking and planning.

One day Harold.

I dream that I am flying. One minute I am at the top of Burns St and walking down the hill, watching the children making their way to school on the opposite side of the street. The next, I am two, maybe three feet, off the ground and my arms are out at my sides. I soar over the footpath and the road, and then I am far above the ground and over the playing field that borders the school and I am banking, then climbing and the people are so small, way down there. I thought it would be cold. I had been told that as you got higher you got colder but I got warmer and warmer. Then I am out over the sea and gaining height as I cross the harbour and toward the hills that are like voluptuous women. Down into gullies of armpits and up to peaks of breast and long ridges of sensuous arms or thighs. And then I am in a house that I recognise as a house that appears in many of my dreams. It bears features of houses I have lived in., in past times. But there are extra rooms that are never lived in. And spaces in cellars and attics. Mysterious places. And I am climbing stairs to one of those places and whispering to myself that it will be all right.

“Wake up. Ruth. Wake up. You’re talking in your sleep. Wake up for Christ sake. Are you mad or something?”

Oh Harold your hands are so versatile. The same hands that can stroke and knead and penetrate and bring such pleasure are now pinching and prodding and bringing pain. Now that fist is drawn back and a blow hits me so hard on the side of the head that for a moment I don’t realise that I am on the floor. Your feet prodding and pushing me and now savagely kicking, kicking. The pain so real and I scream for you to stop and then I strangle my scream because that just gets you more exited and your kicking more frenetic. And I crawl up into a little ball to present a smaller target and maybe stop you but your cries of frustration portend another flurry of fists around my head, my neck, and my ears. And then you are screaming, foul words at me. Telling me how useless I am. Telling me how mad I am. Telling me what a waste of time I am. Then I hear nothing but the sound of your motorbike disappearing into the still morning.

Nothing that a little makeup and dark glasses will fix. Dr Lewis is too nice to make an open comment about my left eye when I do remove the glasses but he does suggest some cream to reduce the swelling. He looks concerned but you quickly discover when you appear with bruises a lot, that people don’t ask too many questions. Their eyes seem to concentrate on other parts of your face unless you turn quickly and catch them staring at the eye or the cheek. The trouble was that I couldn’t hear to well every time someone was on my right side. The one that Harold had hit as his frenzied attack run its course. The ringing stopped about midafternoon but sounds were strangely muffled and mixed up. As he left Dr Lewis squeezed my arm and kind of grimaced a smile. That would be the closest he would come to any acknowledgement of what had possibly happened.

Harold was there when I arrived back. He acted as though nothing had happened. Maybe it was all in my head but then when I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror I could see that it wasn’t. The blood was still visible along the rim of the basin where I had hurriedly cleaned myself up.

“This place is like a bloody pigsty. That bathroom is in bad need of a clean.”

I am tempted to make the obvious reply but I know it will only lead to a more painful response than last nights. Yet I want to. Some part, deep inside of me, wants to bring this thing to an end. But I hold my tongue. How can he sleep with me? How can he pretend that nothing has happened? I know, yet I do not know.

He was so tender. As if his lovemaking was some grim apology for the wrong he had done to me. Or was it the sight of my swollen lips and eye that excites him? I wake in the morning and he is already gone. I find the bathroom steamy and dirty from his early morning ablutions. Towels and underwear are strewn from wall to wall. Toothpaste and thick curly facial hair stick to the sides of the handbasin. As if a feral animals message left to mark his territory.

I try to concentrate at work but my head is pounding. I have been learning to use the Internet and all that staring into the screen has set me off. Dr Lewis says that I am a fast learner. Old slow me.  I ask Dr Lewis if he can do without me and he tells me to go home and have a nice rest. I arrive home just after two and Harold is not there. He must have just left because I can see that the door to his study is open and his computer blinks away in the corner. I have never been allowed in here as this is Harold’s sanctuary and he usually keeps it locked up. I go over to the computer and what I see on the screen takes my breath away. I feel a cold pain in my chest and my first thought is to get out of there. He has been on the Internet and part way through a session, which he has terminated, presumably to go out, but the page is still there for all to see. Pornography of a type which is sickening. Why women would allow themselves to be exploited like this I don’t know. Then an idea forms in my head but I have to be quick if it is going to work. My head is still pounding and my heart racing but I sit down in front of the flickering screen and go to work. Harold is running a program called Gator, which makes my task easy. It records passwords and credit card details so I type in paedophile and hit the search button. Soon I have a list of sites which promise streaming video of boys and girls. I punch in Gator and soon I have downloaded several files onto Harold’s hard drive. I then compose a message to Harold’s motorcycle and photography distributions lists and email the sites to them.  I then hit the history button and restore the original file and slip out of the room before Harold returns. If my plan works the people who monitor the Internet for this type of thing will be jumping for joy. I can only guess what his friends’ reactions will be. I am just downing a couple of aspirins when Harold walks in. Just in time. He growls at me

“What are you doing home in the middle of the day?”

I whisper that I have a headache and I am going to bed. He doesn’t seem too concerned and says “I don’t know how you can have a headache when there is nothing in there to cause any pain”, and grins at his little joke.

One day Harold and its going to be very soon. I know from reading the paper what they do to paedophiles in jail.

I wake up in a daze. I can hear pounding on the door and I hear Harold yelling out that he is coming. I must have slept through the night because it’s a morning light that shines through my window, I hear Harold working the bolts on the door then a voice.

“Inspector Tony Ryall-Vice squad. This is a warrant to search your premises for objectionable material. Where do you keep your computer.”

Harold splutters a reply but I can hear the bravado go from his voice as he unlocks the computer room.

That’s how I got my revenge on Harold. They found those pictures of those little boys and girls and despite Harold’s protestations that he didn’t know anything about them and that he wasn’t in to that sort of thing they carted him off. You see he was so foolish to say that the room was always locked and he really didn’t think I was capable of outthinking him. He was sentenced to nine years and I didn’t even visit him. I heard that Harold had a hard time of it those first few months in prison. I heard that Harold wasn’t making so many caustic little jokes anymore and that he had become quite respectful of other people opinions.

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