CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
He recalled her face, the eyes, cheekbones and lips that had made Joe (his best friend) catch his breath, and Nick say, “If only I wasn’t married,” and Alan, nudging him, to say: “Jack, what are you waiting for?—she’s looking at you.” And he succumbed to the temptation, not the temptation of those lips and cheekbones, but the irresistible temptation of owning a possession that was so desired by his friends—for he was competitive.
He recalled lying in bed that morning. Maryanne took an interest in his body and then an increasing interest and before he knew what was happening he joined in the dance and his hips had become possessed by an unstoppable motion like the rolling of the sea waves that corrugate a beach’s naked surface, rolling and rolling and then he was pumping his energy into her. He lay there afterwards, feeling drained and tricked, as though some cunning urchin had offered him gold and as he reached to grasp it, it stole his energy instead.
“That was nice,” he distantly heard her saying.
Maryanne and the poltergeist, he knew, were separate, but he also knew he could not have one without the other, and the poltergeist’s antagonism was coming close to defeating him—for to lose one’s temper was to lose the match.
While thinking these things, he became aware of a humming noise and then, distantly, of Maryanne’s voice.
“This place is disgusting; how can you stand it?” she said, pushing his vacuum cleaner around the living room. “Can’t you move over there? I need to clean beneath you.”
She stood watching him but no response; he simply maintained his ridiculous pose. Despite herself, she raised her voice.
“I know you can hear me!”
Still no response, and there was now no doubt in her mind—he was deliberately ignoring her.
“Right! if you want to play it like that,” she said, and began meticulously cleaning the carpet around his feet, ensuring that every now and then she happened to bump the vacuum’s brush against his naked toes, which he did not respond to, causing her to notice an inexcusable amount of dirt on the carpet between his toes, which she could not help but attempt to reach with her ever more vigorous brush action, which proved to be an exhilarating workout for both her heart and her labouring arm and back muscles—what a release! push, push, push—until she was almost gasping with excitement. And just when she was beginning to enjoy herself, she looked up at his face and saw he was still pretending to have not noticed her. This was more than she could bear. She slapped his face.
Still no response.
She took a wide swing and slapped him as hard as she could and while she nursed her stinging hand she began scrutinizing his features for any response and noticed his mouth gradually forming into a smile.
No woman should be mocked in this way and though she knew she ought to be offended by his bad manners, she was so dumbstruck by his performance that she forgot to scold him. Instead she threw the brush down and walked away, telling him, “You’re weird.”
Jack had smiled because he realized the solution. He would simply stop resisting the poltergeist. He would relinquish his likes and dislikes of years and bend his will to its. If it wanted his shoes placed in a particular place, or wanted to keep the lids of jars unscrewed, so be it. He smiled. This seemed perfect—if he did not insist on a design, how could the poltergeist unpick it? And as he was smiling, he was vaguely aware of Maryanne standing before him, gently waving her arms around.
 

In the goldfish bowl, Bruce and Sheila Softly were hovering side by side. For the past ten minutes there was nothing but silence, and—to Bruce, anyway—the silence seemed to deepen with each minute.
For one further time, Sheila looked accusingly at Bruce; and Bruce could not stand this any longer. He turned to swim off, when Sheila said, “Where do you think you’re going, Bruce?”
Bruce opened his mouth to speak but there did not seem anything to say, so he just watched Sheila with his mouth hanging open.
Sheila demanded, “Well?”
Bruce said, in an experimental tone, “For a swim—?”
Sheila snapped, “Get back here—I want a word with you.”
Bruce turned back and sighed.
Sheila said, “And just why can’t you see me as a bus driver?”
“That! you’re asking me about that?”
“Come on, why?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yes you do, Bruce.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You do!”
“I don’t!”
“Do!”
“Don’t!”
“Do!”
After a pause, Bruce said, “It was only an example—that’s all.”
“But why pick that?”
“No reason, Sheila; it was just the first thing I thought of.”
Sheila scowled at him and said, “You think that’s all I’m good for, don’t you?—driving busses.”
“Of course not.”
“Why then?”
“It— er— it just didn’t seem like your style, that’s all, Sheila, not your style.”
“Not my style?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“I just pictured you doing something better.”
“Something better?”
“Of course, Sheila.”
“Like what?”
“Like whatever you wanted to.”
“Anything?”
“Anything.”
“And what if I wanted to be bus driver!”
Bruce shouted, “Be a bus driver, if that’s what you want!”
“But you said it wasn’t my style, Bruce.”
Bruce glared at Sheila for several seconds—his glare steadily intensifying—then he turned and darted away.
Sheila called, “You said you couldn’t really see me as a bus driver, Bruce.”
Bruce circled the bowl, going quicker and quicker, trying to block out the sound of Sheila’s taunts.
Sheila kept shouting, “—Saying that’s all I’m good for—that’s what you were doing. I can see exactly what you’re thinking, so don’t think you’ve fooled me. No, you’re just pretending it’s not what you were thinking, Bruce. That’s it—I can see everything you’re thinking—I can see it in your face!”
Bruce was now so enraged he was in danger of deliberately leaping from the bowl to escape Sheila’s taunts.
But Sheila then seemed to have finally emptied his whole head of words, so he turned, peered silently through the glass of the bowl and continued watching the view in the living room—but this time smirking smugly.

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