A COMIC/SERIOUS IMMORALITY TALE FOR OUR TIMES (a fantasy if it’s your sort of scene)
The story starts in London around 18 months ago, beginning in March 2017, when Britain was – albeit unaware of the fact – heading towards a General Election. Miss Lulu is a dominatrix with a sharp mind and sharp heels, full of intellectual curiosity and sexual know-how. She meets Rory Smith, a journalist, in a hotel bar in Soho and their relationship begins over a conversation about politics, morals and the world in general. There’s a bit of bondage and a lot of badinage, some sex-related villainy and a nascent love story. It also reflects contemporary politics – Trump, May, Brexit et al. Put another way, this is the story of a strong woman with a stable of admirers. Among these is a young woman called Summer, a person in whom Lulu can see something of her former self and with whom she strikes up an unusual friendship. Love is a Battlefield is an acerbic take on the cocktail that is modern Britain. It’s zeitgeist on the rocks.
LONDON MARCH 2017
Lulu was hitting the bare backside of a balding man in his 40s, and doing so very hard with an extra-stiff cane. The room was spartan, the only furniture being the foot stool which the man, on his knees, was leaning over. She was dressed in a leather one-piece suit, in the style favoured by Cathy Gale and Emma Peel in The Avengers. As always in this circumstance, she went about her work in a cold, calm and concentrated manner, oblivious to the unseemly ruddy complexion of her client whose faced was etched with pain as he kept up a permanent campaign not to scream with pain.
Her work complete, she retired to the next room while he got dressed. After five minutes she re-entered the room to escort him from the building.
“Well, thank you,” he said stiffly.
“You’re welcome,” she replied matter-of-factly.
“Tell me, do you do visits away from here?”
“It depends. Like where?”
“Like at my house?”
“That could be arranged. But the rate is £150 more and I’d pass on the address to a friend – for security, of course.”
“I understand.” He paused awkwardly. “There’s something else.”
“Could you bring a friend…you know, a girl who actually does it?”
“So you want me to beat you and you want to have sex with her?”
“Yes…yes…that’s exactly what I want.”
“Well, I haven’t done that combination myself before but I’m sure I could make it work. I’ll find someone and text you. Obviously there’ll be her fee as well.”
“I understand that. OK, I’ll hear from you?”
“You will. By the end of the week.”
There really was no keeping Donald Trump out of the headlines. The former British ambassador to Washington was all over the papers, accusing the White House of “peddling falsehoods” about GCHQ at Cheltenham helping Barack Obama to tap Trump’s phone before he became president. But who knew who listened in on whom these days? One thing was certain, though – there would be no General Election in Britain in 2017. “There isn’t going to be one,” said Theresa May’s spokesperson. “It isn’t going to happen.” You couldn’t get much more emphatic and categorical than that.
On a lesser matter of state, Lulu had found her girl – the internet was such a marvellous thing. She was called Summer. Of course, she wouldn’t really be called that, as Lulu well knew, but she acknowledged that it was a pretty name for a pretty girl and a nice nom de plume. Or a nom de guerre, she thought later when Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield came on the radio.
So it was that a few days later they headed off to the appointment in a smart minicab. Summer had said she was in her mid-20s, making her about ten years younger than Lulu, and while a woman telling the truth about her age was far from a given in Lulu’s experience, she thought that was probably true. Lulu had with her a large holdall containing the outfits they would be changing into for their client’s entertainment. The partition was raised so they could be sure the driver could not overhear their conversation.
“I’ve never done a job quite like this,” said Summer, “though I used to have a kind of regular partner. We’d do threesomes together.”
“What happened to her?”
“She quit. It got so that she couldn’t cope with what, or rather who, might be on the other side of that door. I think it was all over for good once some punter paid her with an envelope stuffed full of £10 notes but the notes turned out to be computer cleaners rather than money.”
“God, that’s crap.”
“It was. I get where she was coming from but nothing bad has happened to me, not even that sort of bad. You learn that you must check the money is for real before anything else happens and I’ve never been threatened in any worrying way. You do get some weirdos and saddos, of course – well, obviously you know that – so I especially try to be nice with the normal ones because then they’ll keep coming back.”
“Yes,” smiled Lulu, “but being nice is often a simple one-stage process: just compliment the size of his dick.”
Summer laughed. “One guy once said he’d give me 20 orgasms. I said, ‘Great, and thanks, but I’d rather have the 200 quid’.”
They both laughed.
Lulu’s phone rang. She glanced at the Nokia’s screen and saw a landline number she didn’t recognise, which was often a reason not to answer but probably not this time.
“Are you here yet?” asked the disembodied voice of their client.
“We’ve just arrived in your street. We’ll be one minute.”
“OK, but there’s a change of plan. It’s now not No. 36. It’s No. 126.”
“What, you’d forgotten your own address?”
“No. We’re going to meet at a friend of mine’s house. Don’t worry, he’s not there.”
“I’m not worried about that. I told you I’d be passing on the address for security. Now you’ll have to wait until I’ve changed the details.”
“That’s fine. Five minutes then.”
Lulu hung up, pulled down the partition and told the driver about the change of destination. Picking out an iPhone from her bag – this one white, not the red one she had during drinks with Rory – she sent an email to herself. She was confident in her ability to get out of any trouble her work might land her in, but the client didn’t know that and, if the worst case scenario came about…well, the record would be there on her computer. There really wasn’t anyone she knew to whom she could pass on this sort of information.
No sooner had she done this than the driver spoke up.
“Looks like you’ve got this address wrong as well.”
“What do you mean?”
“There is no 126.”
“OK, turn around and head back slowly the way we’ve just come.”
She picked up the Nokia again and called him back.
“There is no No. 126. What are you doing here?”
“What – your useless fuck of a driver couldn’t find it?”
“That’s because it isn’t there.”
“Serves you right for being such a cheapskate slag, hiring a minicab instead of a proper black one. With what I paid you, you should have been able to afford that.”
“Hold on! How do you know we’re in a minicab?”
A cackle of laughter came down the phone.
“Fuck you!” she yelled, furiously.
She rammed the partition back up, leaving the driver in equal measure bemused, amused and now frustrated at missing out on the ensuing conversation.
“I’m sorry about this, Summer. He’s played us. Or rather he’s played me. He must be in a house between 36 and the end of the road, watching us going up and down like morons.”
Lulu gave an exasperated sigh. “There was something in his expression when he booked this that should have warned me. I’m usually good at reading situations and people’s eyes. I think he’s messing us around because he felt humiliated after I’d dom’d him. This is his way of getting back at me – wasting my time to make him feel good, feel powerful, knowing all along I’m not going to be getting the money I was expecting to get. I’m sorry you’ve got caught up in his sad little game.”
“What a wanker,” said Summer.
“He’s a man,” said Lulu simply. “Anyhow, I’ll sort the money out with you later. Let’s just give this up.”
Unlike the evening she had met Rory, Raul did not cancel his next ‘date’ with Lulu. They would be eating out in Kensington, she being his eye candy for the evening. They met at a smart bar just around the corner from the restaurant. Raul was there first, as in early. As usual, he finished his drink as she arrived at his stool and got up to go off with her. He was, as always, all business. They walked out.
“I have to say, Raul, it was a pleasure to get your call given you cancelled at such short notice last time.” Then, putting on a coquettish voice, she added: “But don’t presume I am always available at a moment’s notice just because your plans change so they can include me rather than exclude me.”
“Given what I pay you to spend the evening with me, I’d like my chances of it working more often than not.”
OK, fifteen love to him. But the money was worth it.
“So it’s two bankers and wives, yes?”
“Yes. You know the deal. A bit of small talk. Just look good. It’s what you do best.”
She managed to ignore that.
“I was just checking they were wives as opposed to hookers, mistresses, concubines or some other form of inamorata.”
“Yes, they are wives, at least so far as I know. And [they had by now arrived in the restaurant] there they are.”
“Jesus, is she wearing that dress or trying to fall out of it?”
“Enough, Lulu. We’re going to enjoy this.”
Her expression conveyed the likelihood of that happening as being minimal but it didn’t matter. Raul was no longer looking at her.
Dinner was indeed much duller than dishwater. When it was over, the men went for the brandy and port – Raul, as ever, not going for it too much. As she had throughout, Lulu stuck to sparkling mineral water, partly for her image and partly because she’d loaded up with over a bottle of chardonnay before meeting Raul in order to be able to endure the evening.
The men were called Ronald and Jonathan. She couldn’t remember the wives’ names, although they had been mentioned. This was possibly down to the drink and certainly down to disinterest, although one of them did appear to be almost 100% fake: Botox, tattoos, hair colour and extensions, finger nails and doubtless a sun-lounger tan. And that was just what Lulu could see.
Then Ronald, the more annoyingly voluble of the two, piped up again.
“I read an amazing thing the other day. Have you heard about the Hungarian Triple Crown? Apparently it dates from the 19thcentury, a sort of sex game played by Hungarian nobility. The challenge was this: in the space of three hours, the man had to walk three miles, run three miles, ride three miles – on a horse, obviously – drink three bottles of champagne and have sex with three different women. The order in which you do all that is entirely your choice. But do you know what? Apparently, no one ever managed to do it. I think that situation might have been different if I’d been a Hungarian nobleman…”
She couldn’t let this go, whether Raul liked it or not.
“Were the women in on the deal?” she asked.
“I’ve no idea.”
“Could the women help out with drinking the champagne?”
“I don’t know that either but I guess not. That would be like cheating.”
“So your research was…limited, shall we say?”
“Look, I’m just telling you about it. That’s all.”
Jonathan interjected, perhaps perplexed that a woman was more involved than he was. “Given that no one achieved it,” he said, “was there perceived to be any particular order in which it was best to attempt the tasks?”
Ronald, laughing: “Well, I think you might want to leave drinking the third bottle of champagne until the end!”
“And no man ever managed it, you say?” Lulu followed up. “That’s probably their fault for bad choices of female company.”
Ronald: “What do you mean?”
“Well, it seems it wasn’t an easy thing to accomplish, maybe impossible. But I’d have said in that case there was one crucial element necessary if the man was to have a chance.”
Ronald: “And what would that be?”
“Simple,” smiled Lulu. “It would all come down to the quality of the woman on the anchor leg.”
Ronald and Jonathan convulsed with laughter, their wives looked predictably shocked, Raul looked quizzically at his mobile. Fuck ’em…
Actually, what happened next was that they all fucked off to a nearby club – Raul must be in deep with these slimeballs, she thought, if we have to go on elsewhere as well – which was quite noisy. As she suspected would happen, she got cornered by Ronald.
“Raul tells me that you’re very much a woman of the world,” was his opening effort.
“As opposed to an alien, you mean?”
The sarcasm was lost on him, though to be fair he had consumed close to a small distillery over the past few hours.
“Smart guy like Raul, he is going to get himself a good woman – stands to reason.”
“You’re doing a pretty good job of standing yourself, if I may say so.”
Again, totally wasted: both her line and him.
“You’ve probably never seen them, or if you have you wouldn’t be interested, but did you know they have like business cards of women…er, offering their services, in most public phone boxes in London?”
“I’d have thought a man of your means could afford a mobile?”
“Yes, but I don’t, you know, now and again pop into those phone boxes to make a phone call. No, it’s so I can eye up the totty.”
Impressively depressing – it had taken him no time at all to get on to this subject.
“I don’t think I want to continue this line of conversation.”
But he was not to be deterred.
“Actually there was one card I saw last week where the woman looked very much like you…”
“…no, hear me out. I mean it as a compliment. Like you, she was a real looker. I think you and I could have a bit of fun sometime.”
Time to quit.
“Shall I tell you something?” she snapped. “First, I am not in the least bit flattered by your comparison or your crass remarks. You should work on your chat-up lines, I think especially when your wife is in the same room. Second, the photo of the girl on the card will not be the girl you’d get. You think she’d want anyone to bump into her in the street and recognise her?”
This rendered him almost speechless. Almost, but not quite. “But that’s wrong. That’s like…a breach of the Trades Descriptions Act. Anyway, how come you know so much about this?”
Lulu’s reply was a bit stammered but he was in no state to notice.
“Oh, I read an article about it in one of the Sunday papers.”
“Well, it’s still wrong. That should be…it should be illegal!”
“One final thing,” she added for good measure, just to really appal the slob. “If the girl on the card is actually the one you get to meet, the odds are hugely that she is in fact a transvestite. So good luck with him.”
She couldn’t see Raul but she knew she’d done enough for one night. She left without saying any goodbyes. As she left, the revelry was getting increasingly boisterous. Somewhere at the far end of the room the band was playing, quite badly, Guantanamera, and as they finished a group of drunks were chanting – as football fans do – “Sacked in the morning, you’re getting sacked in the morning…”
THE NEXT UPDATE WILL BE PUBLISHED ON NOVEMBER 1