Archive for August, 2010
Women, on average, excel on tests that measure recall of words and on tests that challenge the person to find words that begin with a specific letter or fulfil some other constraint. They also tend to be better than men at rapidly identifying matching items and performing certain precision manual tasks, such as placing pegs in designated holes on a board.
“Yeah well,” yelled Davinia, “imagine talking to a fish, and you asked it to describe its environment. One thing it probably would not volunteer is that things are awfully wet down here. Men are so fucking insensitive. If you ask one to describe and understand violence you would be struggling to get one to admit that its mostly done by males. The truth of it is that if we could stop men beating women and other men, we would pretty much get rid of violence altogether. The maleness of violence is so fucking obvious that it is rarely even noticed; it is the ocean in which we swim.”
Eugene reeled back. Rarely had her heard Davinia to be so articulate. His brain screeched to try and come to match her repartee.
“Err…, well…., what about….., just because…..” He mumbled to a halt. Thinking on his feet had never been a strong part of Eugene’s character. He paused and then it came to him in a flash; a picture perfect reproduction from the Harpers Bazaar article that had run against Britney Spears headless body. “Look darling, “ (he curled the word so that it could be interpreted as either an insult or an endearment), “from observations of both humans and nonhumans it has been proven,” (he liked that-it sounded very authoritative), “that males are more aggressive than females, that young males engage in more rough-and-tumble play than females and that females are more nurturing. We also know that in general males are better at a variety of spatial or navigational tasks.”
Davinia crossed her arms and humphed. “ Right, like the time you found your way to Mikes place. Oh yeah! And that time that you found a whole new way to get to the West Coast. It only took three more days than the standard two hour drive.”
Eugene paused to recollect what Davinia had managed to drag out of the distant past. “You have to admit it was rather scenic though,” he floundered.
X uses a psychological stiletto, but he’s the same kind of character, the sort of man you don’t much notice, who blends in, accepted, overlooked, left alone so that his rich secret life can flower. He was born with parts missing, and has assembled the remainder into a person who has borrowed from the inside to make the outside look OK.
X watched as she handed over the money to the cashier. She opened her long brown, leather, wallet and flipped it open, balancing her young son on her left shoulder. The billfold opened to show an impressive array of credit, video, and membership cards. On the facing side was a large format phot of her, her husband, and two other children. The picture had clearly been taken a while ago because the young child on her shoulder did not appear in it, and she looked younger and more ungroomed than she did now. X was careful not to stare at the phot but he took in the smiling happy family. The youngest boy was at that stage where they have started to lose baby teeth and his gap-filled grin was infectious. X felt himself warming to this family- the older girl smiling as if she had some secret she was keeping – the father, a protective arm around him wife and staring at his male progeny. X was aware of a voice as the women stuffed her purchases into a shopping cart and he suddenly jerked out of his fantasy and concentrated on the young, pimpled teenager, behind the counter.
“And will that be all for today sir?” she muttered between staring at her compatriot, two aisles down.
“ And how will we be paying for that today sir?” X looked at her and snarled his reply.
“It’s Me not fucking WE and I will be paying by EFTPOS.”
The girl did not seem to notice his anger. She probably didn’t listen to any of the customers throughout her long and tiresome day. The magic words, Credit or EFTPOS, or Cash were all she probably registered.
X committed the street address and email address to memory. When he got to his car he quickly wrote it down on the back of his purchase docket. 25 Crenshaw Avenue, firstname.lastname@example.org. Perfect.
The Sunday afternoon foot-traffic was dense and bustling. Strange looking people who normally would have been confined in factories or offices during the working week now came out, like birds to feed on early worms. Hair and clothing styles that were now decades out of date seemed to be the rule. X tried to avoid making eye contact with any of these strangers. He kept his mind focussed on the tasks ahead. Then, without warning, he was distracted. He was just hurrying past the shop window when two magnificently dressed women attracted his attention. They seemed to be suspended in time as they gazed out from the front of the large clothing store. One, in particular, took his eye and X was drawn to the window to gaze in. She stood there, her back erect and one arm outstretched as if she were asking for some coin from the gathered crowd. She had a filmy white cotton dress and a vivid red shawl wrapped delicately around her shoulder. Her eyes seemed to be fixed on X and his cheeks reddened with the unusual attention. He smiled, at her and he thought he saw a faint grin come over her face. Embarrassed by the attention he put his hands in his pocket and hurried on to his next assignation.
Over the course of the afternoon his mind kept returning to that image. He saw her limbs move and he saw that smile widen as X pressed his face against the glass. He imagined her gliding down a flight of steps and drifting over a crowded dance floor to nestle in his arms. He imagined her gently folding her dress beneath her elegant legs as she lowered herself into his exotic sports car. He had to go back to the store and find her.
He looked at the email message for the last time, checking the spelling and making sure the meaning and words were just right, before he clicked the SEND button. Yes Ms sallyann@paradise was going to get a nice surprise. His eye scanned down the email –
I would like you to know me. Really, know ME. We could have met but you may not remember me. You have a handsome husband and three? Beautiful children and a fine house. I would like you to reply to this email. I have taken the precaution of using an untraceable return address………
X wondered if he should take out the house bit. She may be offended that he had actually scouted out the location and taken photo’s of the house. Or should he just attach a digital copy of the family barbecuing in their back yard on a sunny afternoon. What was the etiquette here? Before he could answer his own question, his right hand clicked the mouse and the SEND icon flashed momentarily. It was done.
He made sure he was at the supermarket every Thursday around 4.00. That seemed to be the time when she did her weekly shopping with only the younger child in tow. He wondered where the other two went but assumed that they had friends that they could play with. He thought back through the years to his own after-school diversions and shivered. Suddenly she was in front of him, shopping cart full to the brim and, in fact, overflowing. He tried to brush past and cover his embarrassment at being caught out at such a vulnerable moment but, accidentally, his arm brushed against one of the overhanging vegetable items and suddenly he was scrambling around the floor trying to recover a head of celery. He couldn’t miss the smell of her and the whiteness of her bare legs as he slowly rose with the spoiled celery in his hand.
”I’ll go back to the produce section and get you another,” he offered but saw her uncertainty at his suggestion. “Or, I could just take it back,” he further offered but saw that she was wary of engaging with him. “And what is the little girl’s name, “ he lamely tried stretching his hand out to ruffle the infants head as she sat in the shopping trolley chair. The infant reared back and the mother pulled the trolley back, then, realising her rudeness, she stopped and looked directly at X, as if she was challenging him to do something that would warrant a complaint.
“There is no need. I have other things I have to get in that section. I’ll go back. Just pop it back on top.”
X was aware that he had her close, undivided attention and yet, and made no impression on her aside from perhaps appearing to be a clumsy oaf who could not watch where he was going.
“Nonsense! It’s the least that a gentleman could do. At least let me take the offending item back for you.”
X looks down at the occasional table in front of him and the assortment of objects. He has the photo’s of the house, the barbecue, the car, the garage, the children playing in the park, the nightime shot of the two of them, arm-in-arm, the shop window, the mannequin. He has the hairbrush, the stand of hair, the handkerchief, the head of celery. He looks to the floor and sees the discarded tennis shoe with the name inscribed in the tongue. He sees the pen with ‘Argos Pharmacy’ embossed in white on blue. X sees images of her as he touches each of the items and remembers the time and place that he came upon them. X closes his eyes and starts softly humming. It’s the theme tune from an old forgotten radio program. It could be the Paul Temple Show or it could be a popular 1950.s spy show that everyone has forgotten the name to. X looks content. Indeed X looks as if he is in a rapture.
It WAS a beautiful day. Doreen felt like a reborn woman. She didn’t miss the not nursing. She didn’t miss the demanding patients, the drunks, the rude doctors, the pain and suffering. She had Lucas now. Her salvation. Her little replica of Stewart played happily in the sun lit room. The green pasture to the back of the house was alive with spring flowers, the air abounded with the calls of the birdlife replicating itself. Occasionally she could hear a distant car or farm truck, but the house was relatively isolated. She had several visitors in the morning. An old colleague, a distant cousin. This was the way it was now that Stewart had made the move to full time teaching, and she would have it no other way. Lucas was twenty-one months old. She still could not understand why age was measured in days, then moths, then years and she imagined when you got into your sixth decades it would be tens of years. One of life’s mysteries. Doreen checked the clock. Two thirty – about time for Lucas’s afternoon nap. She looked forward to that hour when she had time to herself. Not that she found being a first time mother a burden and she cherished every second she had with her precious little man. It was just that it felt like adult time. When she could do anything she wanted. Read a book; catch up on a recorded TV program. Do household chores, or, just sit and think how lucky she was. Stewart and her had planned a little break during midterm time. They would take Lucas to Doreen’s mothers place and then have two days at a remote beach site that they had discovered on their honeymoon. Two days didn’t seem like a long time but then two days away from Lucas would seem like an eternity to the boy – well at least in Doreen’s mind.
Lucas was getting a little grumpy – a sure sign that he was sleepy. Lately he had been sleeping in his first proper bed and it was never hard to get him to climb in – unlike the cot which he seemed to regard as some sort of prison with its impenetrable bars. He could just climb in and out of his ‘grown up ‘bed when and if he felt like it.
Lucas was safely in bed and Doreen decided that she would make something special for the evening meal. Being spring her mind turned toward something wild from the pasture out the front of the house. Something to go in a salad with maybe some nuts. That would go perfectly with the trout that Stewart had caught the previous night. She could still see in her mind’s eye the delight on both Stewart and Lucas’s face when that beautiful creature broached the water and splashed down. She reached for her Cullpeppers Herbal when she heard the sound of a car pulling into the drive. Someone must be lost or a salesman. Then she heard the distinctive sound of the gravel closer to the house and then the vehicle slowed. She heard a car door open and close – no open – not close. Definitely someone lost. Happened all the time here. So far away from a town and so many funny little roads interlocking with each other. Doreen heard footsteps coming up the stairs to the veranda and then a soft tapping on the door. She peeked through the curtain. A tall, slim man in a uniform repeated his knock on the door. She saw he had his police cap in his hand, down by his side and noted that he had kept on his aviator sunglasses. She hurried t the door and opened it.
Doreen was propelled back from the door and a gun thrust into her face. The man, clearly an officer of the law did not speak. He signalled with the gun for Doreen to move farther back into the house which now had lost the sun and had suddenly darkened. His lopsided grin contradicted the ugly eye of the weapon he now aimed at Doreen and ordered her to turn around. Terrified, Doreen obeyed and suddenly her world exploded as the gun fired and she felt a terrible pain in the back of her head. She felt herself falling and then she was aware that this despicable creature was on top of her and pulling down her slacks and then she felt him enter her with such a savage energy that she lost consciousness. She drifted in and out of the state for the ten minutes that he repeatedly raped her with his own phallus and then with his weapon. She was dimly aware that she was not going to survive this and she thought of Lucas and Stewart. She felt the cold barrel of the weapon at the back of her head and the last she heard was the roar of the weapon again and again as five shots were poured into her increasingly lifeless body.
Stewart thought there was something odd when he drove up the short drive. Normally, at this time of year, Doreen would be out on the veranda with Lucas to greet him. When he tried the front door he found it was locked. Why would the door e locked? He had a key but out here in the country no-one locked their doors. He called out Doreen’s name. No answer. He cautiously moved into the rear of the house. He was carrying a sheaf of papers which literally flew up into the air. Doreen was lying in a pool of blood, naked from the waist down. Her head was a mass of blood and gore. Lucas was crawling beside his mother, covered in blood and gray matter, He seemed rather unconcerned but Stewart could smell the urine and faeces from where he stood across the room. He fell to his knees and crawled toward the inert body of his wife, vainly hoping that this was some horrible nightmare and that she would be alive – not that he thought she could survive such horrific injuries. .