For those of you who have read Veronica Comes Undone, and for those who haven’t, here is a little teaser from the sequel, Veronica Spreads it Around.
Note: Any resemblance to a politician alive or dead is purely coincidental.
Undressing Mr Pyne.
Among Veronica’s clients, mainly female, Veronica had one male client of many years, Mr Pyne. His problem was simple, he could not be physically touched, but its legacy was complex and debilitating. He lived alone, he worked alone, online; he had no friends, no family, well none that Veronica knew about, and he rarely went out of his small apartment. After many years of regular sessions, all of which were about finding ways of touching him, Veronica focused diligently on making it seem that she was doing something completely different: not touching him. On this day a hurdle was about to be jumped, or so Veronica hoped. She understood that it all had to do with his mother, who, although she had died three years ago, had a powerful hold over him; a hold Veronica was hoping to break.
She let herself into her small city bedsit, her office, dumped her bag on the bed, and logged on to her computer. She kicked off her shoes, took off her jacket, t-shirt and jeans and laid them on the bed. She went into the bathroom and removed what little make-up she had on. She washed and dried her face and applied a very thin layer of face powder giving her face a matt mask-like look, pale and wan. She checked her computer schedule, times, address, and further appointments for the week. She was pleased there were no surprises. From the small closet she chose a bluish plaid skirt, well below the knee, and a white long-sleeved blouse with a high lace buttoned-up collar which, for the moment, she left undone. The skirt was tight and for a brief moment she thought about a vanilla slice. She slicked back her hair and pinned it tight to the back of her head. From one of the antique wooden wig stands on the top shelf she chose a short mouse-coloured wig, boyish and unkempt. She put this on, tugged and pulled it into place. Without stockings or socks she put on a pair of brown lace-up walking shoes. She inspected herself in a full-length mirror, buttoned up her lace collar, and considered herself ready. From the bottom of the closet she took out a small, ready packed, suitcase, looked at herself one last time and left the apartment.
Two hours later she parked her car outside a small block of flats all well hidden behind a wall of neglected greenery on a quiet street in an obscure suburb called Pemulwuy. Mr Pyne’s flat was upstairs at the back, at the far end of the common balcony.
She sat in the car and rehearsed her voice. “It’s Susan, Mr Pyne. It’s awful outside. You’re lucky to be home.” Her voice was high, clipped, and expressionless. “It’s Susan, Mr Pyne. It’s awful outside. You’re lucky to be home. It’s Susan, Mr Pyne. It’s awful outside. You’re lucky to be home.”
Moments later, with the suitcase at her feet, she knocked quietly on the door, “It’s Susan, Mr Pyne,” she said. “It’s awful outside. You’re lucky to be home.” She waited. She always had to wait because Mr Pyne took a long time to gather the courage needed to open the door even to someone he knew and was expecting. He also had a series of manoeuvres to perform, one tour of the room, three full-circled pirouettes, and one wide-armed open -palmed stretch: an appeal to the heavens where he knew his mother was. It was only then could he feel able to open his front door.
“Hello, Mr Pyne. It’s nice to see you again,” she says passing him as if nothing is unusual. Mr Pyne is wearing a red and blue turban, a long silk kaftan in bright blue and gold over dark blue Turkish pants and a stick-on moustache. He lets her pass, furtively checks the common balcony for prying eyes, closes the door firmly and reattaches three chain latches.
Mr Pyne’s apartment is small but incredibly neat. Veronica, Susan, had put the little suitcase on a small table and is now undoing the multiple zips as Mr Pyne sheds his middle eastern disguise and emerges in a white shirt, school tie, duff-grey school shorts, long white socks and no shoes.
“Well, that was close. Did you see all the slightly open doors along the balcony? Bloody cheek! They won’t let up you know.”
“Mr Pyne what could they possibly want with you and what could you possibly want with them?”
She opens the suitcase and takes a step towards him. He takes a step back. Susan ignores this. “Now, Mr Pyne, are you ready for your fitting?”
“No. Absolutely not.” He stands rigidly with his eyes closed and fists clenched.
“Oh! OK, you’re the boss.” Susan returns to her suitcase, closes the lid and multiple zips, picks up the suitcase and heads for the door.
“OK, OK, OK!”
“Oh! Alright then.” Susan returns to the little table, puts the suitcase on it, opens all the zips, and then the lid. “Now, Mr Pyne, are you ready for your fitting?”
“…yes,” he says in a voice that sounds like it’s coming from somewhere a long way away.
“Good,” says Susan. “Now first let’s get you out of your day clothes.” Susan starts undoing the buttons on his shirt, being very careful not to touch his flesh. Mr Pyne is rigid and holding his breath. “Breathing out, two three four, breathing in two three four.” Susan stops and looks.”My Pyne?”
“mm.” The noise is high and squeaky like air escaping a balloon.
“Breathing out two three four, breathing in two three four. Breathing out two three four, breathing in two three …”
Mr Pyne, now with a red face, explodes the air out of his body, “A-a-a-h! Twothreefour!”
“Very good, Mr Pyne. Breathing in two three four, breathing out two three four,” continues Susan casually undoing all his shirt buttons as Mr Pyne accustoms himself to, and imitates Susan’s breathing rhythm.
“Breathing in two three four, breathing out two three four,” repeats Mr Pyne.
Susan peels the shirt off him revealing a white singlet underneath, folds it neatly, and lays it on the sofa. With two fingers of each hand she takes hold carefully of a little fold of singlet at Mr Pyne’s waist and continues her chant, “Breathing in two three four, arms up two three four,” and Mr Pyne obeys like a good little boy and Susan whips the singlet over his head and lays it neatly next to his shirt.
“And now Mr Pyne .. Oh, did I tell you that in just a little while I’m going to touch you? Just a little bit…. you’re going to have to help me a bit here.” Susan puts her hands almost on his pale chest. “Open your eyes. Open! Open!” He opens his eyes and she slowly takes her hands away.
Mr Pyne says in panic and dismay, “She said she wouldn’t put up with another hand upon me!”
“But I just did.”
“What?” He is stunned.
“I just touched you. You saw.”
“Like I did before. Like all those times before.”
“But I didn’t feel anything.”
“See how unimportant it is.”
“Does she know?” he asks in a hushed whisper.
“No. Nothing’s happened; so no. See.” And Susan holds up her unfettered palms so Mr Pyne can see them. “And see? This is now the second time today,” she says as she lays her hands gently on his cool chest.
Mr Pyne gasps and holds his breath.
“So now we can get to work.” And so with efficient speed and while chatting about nothing in particular, Susan unbuttons his shorts and takes them off, “Now this leg, now this leg,” and she removes his long white socks, “Now this leg, now this leg,” with Mr Pyne’s total co-operation. He seems to be amazed that the roof has not caved in and that the walls are still standing. He stands there in his white baggy briefs. Susan hasn’t gone past this stage before but without hesitation she thumbs his briefs on each of his hips and whips them down, “This leg, now this leg,” and Mr Pyne stands there naked; and Susan says “Oh the traffic today! You’re really very lucky to work from home. I sometimes wish I could do that as I said to my gardener, Neville, just the other day how nice it would be to work from home; and now Mr Pyne I’ve got some wonderful new clothes for you. Look at these,” and she holds up a pair of stylish white and blue Aussie Bum briefs. “So let’s see how they fit. This leg now this leg,” and she hoists them up to his knees. “Now look, Mr Pyne, look here. These have a little pouch and the salesman told me that they are very comfortable, see? So let’s just put your testicles in here,” and she gently lifts his testicles and slips the edge of the pouch under them, “Now how does that feel, OK? Now do you dress to the left or the right?” she says with his penis in her hand, “Like this?” as she tries the right.
“Oh, so to the left then,” and she replaces it, “or do you want it down,” and she places it again.
“I can’t believe nothing’s happening.”
“Is that OK?”
“Then back to the left then.”
“Oh no! Something’s happening!” and he looks down at his penis in Susan’s hand as they both can see it growing slowly and gaining momentum and weight; she can feel it, like something waking up. My Pyne’s eyes grow in direct proportion to his penis; Susan looks up at him looking down and she looks just as amazed as he is at what is happening, and when his eyes are as big as big can be his pelvis starts rocking. This is virgin territory for Susan but she goes along with it, increasing her grip. His lack of violence or revulsion she takes as encouragement. Mr Pyne seems unaware of what his body is doing and why it is doing this; it’s as if he has never seen it do this before; as if some foreign force is at play.
She places one hand on his buttock to give her leverage and holds his penis firmly as his body moves it in and out along her fist. His face and body begin to react as if something more is about to happen; something bigger but unknown, something he is sure is not far away. Susan mimics his look of astonishment and expectation; she wants him to believe that she is with him in this: she’s his corroborator here, his testifier is this astonishing event.
Susan knows, of course, what is coming and has to do something. A mess on the rug will send him into apoplexy and may undo what this experience may finally achieve; but Mr Pyne unknowingly comes to her aide. As he feels whatever-it-is-that-is-going-to-happen getting closer, his body tenses, his arms spread wide and his head slowly falls back as he faces heaven again, all agog. Susan hands are full but she must get the discarded singlet lying on the sofa. She judges his rhythmic thrusts and as skilfully as a timpani player lets go of his buttock, grabs the singlet from behind, lets it fall at his feet, and grabs his arse again. Too close! If this is his first orgasm, which it just might be, the singlet may be too close. She times her grab again and gets the singlet where she wants it.
By now his body is rigid with his hips thrusting widely, arms and eyes wide in some sweet agony he does not understand. He gasps! He shudders! Susan doesn’t release either hand but keeps an eye on him. He gasps again. Shudders again and she almost immediately feels his body relaxing. She thinks he is going to fall forward as his knees give way, but she manages to angle him as he gives out a piercing cry of wonder and release, and she lets him fall backwards into an armchair. She grabs at the soiled singlet, so superbly placed, rolls it, and shoves it under the sofa. He lays there panting, staring at nothing. What must he be thinking Susan wonders.
He slowly pulls his head forward and looks around the room, looking at everything just as it was before; the furniture, the doilies on the back of the sofa, the coloured glasses in the cabinet, the boomerangs on the wall, all the same. Susan sits on the sofa, hands in her lap gently smiling at him. He is incredulous, wide-eyed and says quietly as if he only has the energy for a whisper, “And nothing happened. It seems impossible, but nothing happened.”
Susan chats away as if what has just happened is the most natural thing in the world. She helps him into his new clothes, a pair of cotton, cream-coloured trousers, tan deck shoes, and a dark blue polo shirt. He seems distracted, uneasy but calm.
Once she has washed her hands, packed her bag and neatly folded all his discarded clothes she says holding out her bag to him, “You can carry this to the car for me.” This little walk to the car has only been a recent addition to the routine but today, now, he offers no hesitation, no reluctance. He takes the proffered bag and follows her out of the flat and along the balcony past several closed doors. She stops at the stairs, turns and waits for him, noticing that he has left his front door open. She decides to say nothing. They walk silently down the stairs and through the garden to her car on the street. She opens the back door of her car, takes the bag from him, says “Thank you Mr Pyne,” puts it on the back seat, closes the door and stands and smiles at him.
He gazes around the incredibly normal suburban street and then looks at her. He seems incredibly sad. “Shall I expect a message from you, Mr Pyne?”
“Yes, Susan,” and then, “Ah!” He suddenly looks behind him as if he has just heard something fearful. A dove has just landed on the garden fence. It sits there coo-ing and doesn’t fly away. “Is everything like this?” he asks, looking around and back to the dove, and then back at her, “so, so … unconcerned?”
“It’s just the same as before.”
“No, look again. Look all around you again.”
Susan does as she is asked and says, “No, just the same. Normal.”
“Yes. Normal, common, same as before, the everyday. ”
“The every day,” he repeats slowly; and then, “What do you think happened?”
“I brought you your new set of clothes for you to try, and you look very smart; very smart indeed.”
“Of course. Thank you Susan.” They shake hands. His is soft, warm, but before he lets go of hers he squeezes it gently. She watches him walk back through the overgrown garden until he disappears. She gets into her car and drives away.
Had she waited a little longer she would’ve realised that when he entered his flat he left his front door wide open.