Of Mutual Benefit   Leave a comment

Henry entered the shop stealthily. His heart beat nineteen to the dozen. He felt faint with the hunger. Nobody came out from the back. Henry reached out for a big jammy doughnut, his mouth watering as he did so.  Then a female voice screamed at him…

“Oi you! What do you think you are doing?”

Henry nearly jumped out of his skin, and dropped the doughnut.

“I’m sorry… I’m starving. I haven’t eaten all day,” Henry babbled.

“Hmm!” uttered the woman looking him up and down. “You might do.”

“Please don’t call the police,” begged Henry, sick at the thought of being imprisoned.

“Well, that depends if you’ll do something for me,” said the woman in a sly tone.

“Anything, I’ll do anything!” pleaded Henry.

“Well in that case come into the back, and I’ll give you something to eat while we talk. Bring a couple of those doughnuts with you.”

Sat in the back room, Henry took a closer look at the woman. She was about fifty with dyed black hair, rouged cheeks, blue piercing eyes, and very pale skin.

“I’m Marilyn by the way,” she said lighting up a cigarette.

Marilyn scrutinised Henry too. He looked about twenty, fresh-faced with a mop of unruly blonde hair, flushed cheeks, brown eyes, and a cute nose. But what really got her attention, was his fine athletic build.

“Henry,” he replied, offering his hand politely. A well-manicured, slightly wrinkly hand with big chunky rings, grasped his.

“Here Henry, get your mouth around one of these doughnuts while I make us coffee and sandwiches.”

Henry took the doughnut gratefully, and wolfed it down.

“I take it you’re living on the streets, then Henry? I can tell by your accent that you’re from a posh background. What happened?”

Henry looked down at the sugary remains on the table. “I got thrown out of school a couple of years ago for selling drugs, and then my parents threw me out for disgracing the family.”

“Are you selling drugs now?” enquired Marilyn sternly. “People with your privilege should know better!”

“No, I’ve learnt my lesson. I’ve seen first-hand the effects they have on people, and how they can destroy lives, families, and communities. I’m ashamed.”

“Good,” said Marilyn more softly. “Now I’ll tell you how you can help me out, while we enjoy our coffee and sandwiches.”

Marilyn explained that she had an important social occasion coming up. All the local business people would be there. Up until last week she had been in a relationship with someone called Karl, who she had been seeing for the last six months. She had been bragging to all her girl-friends how young he was, how good-looking, and how he treated her like a queen. But he had suddenly disappeared last week with most of her savings.

“So you want me to take his place at this social event,” said Henry slowly.

“Exactly!” declared Marilyn. “But you are at least ten years younger than him even,” she laughed. “I really will be a Cougar, or arrested,” she added with a wink.

Henry felt his cheeks burning again.

After a few days, Henry was clean, had a new hair-cut, and smart new clothes. Marilyn soon found out that he really treated her like a lady. His background had certainly helped to mould him in the social graces. Now she had to get him to be more convincing in the relationship stakes.

“Now, I know I’m old enough to be your mother, or nearly grand-mother,” Marilyn said to Henry, after he had been with her about a week, “but you’ll have to put your arm around me, and give me a kiss to make us look like a credible couple.”

Henry gingerly put his arms around Marilyn, put his lips on hers, and closed his eyes. Marilyn smelt of cigarettes, but kissed him back gently.

They practised a few times before the event, and every time Henry relaxed a bit more and became less wooden. By the time the special night had arrived, he felt quite confident. Marilyn’s girlfriends gasped when they met Henry. They couldn’t believe how he seemed so besotted with Marilyn, danced so well, had impeccable manners, and pandered to her every desire.

When Henry and Marilyn got home they looked at each other awkwardly.

“I suppose you want to go now you’ve fulfilled your debt?” Marilyn said eventually.

“I expect you’ll be glad to get rid of me,” Henry joked half-heartedly.

“Not at all, there’s a home for you here if you want it. I won’t be expecting any more from you, except good company.”

“I’d love to stay. We can be the odd couple… keep tongues wagging,” said Henry with a chuckle.

“Come on then, let’s have a night-cap,” smiled Marilyn putting on the kettle.

Posted January 13, 2015 by eileenmoynihan in Uncategorized

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