No Risk, No Fun

No Risk, No Fun

As usual I was up making the breakfast while Ruth took a shower and got ready for work. I realised that working at home as a writer has its advantages on such a horrible rainy day as today. Outside was awful, with almost horizontal rain and temperatures only just above freezing.

Normally Ruth takes her bike to work but today it will be the bus for sure. The bus stop is very practically at the end of the street, only a hundred yards from our house, and running every ten minutes it is very convenient. It also drops her only a few yards from her office.

During breakfast Ruth was extremely preoccupied with an important presentation that she needed to deliver this morning, so I didn’t want to break her concentration and therefore just quietly made her porridge with oranges the way she likes. I enjoy this new life of looking after her, after so many years myself disappearing away on business trips on a weekly basis early in the morning. She always made sure that I was cared for and hadn’t forgotten anything important. Now, in my semi-retired state, working from home, I enjoyed the ability to return the love and care that she had shown for so many years.

As usual I was still in my pyjamas as we sat at the breakfast table quietly supping the warm Earl Grey and eating the steaming porridge. Suddenly her mobile phone rang.

“Morning John, wow you are up and about early this morning. What’s up?”

I assumed that it was her boss, John Spencer, although it was most unusual to hear from him during out-of-office hours.

“OK, I will be there as quickly as I can,” Ruth ended the call with a slight look of consternation on her face.

“Sorry love, I must dash off.  John has stressed the importance of my presentation this morning and wants to have a final go through with me before the customers arrive at ten o’clock. He says to apologise to you but he needs me there right away. There are millions riding on this contract.”

“Ruth, are you sure that you want to go out in this rain? I can drive you, honestly it’s no problem.”

“Thanks, but I must dash off. By the time you have got dressed and the car out I will be on the bus.”

I went through to our integral garage in my slippers and pyjamas, opened the garage door and was on the drive tapping the horn before she was out of the front door. “Come on,” I said with my cheeky smile that I know that she loves. “I thought that you were in a hurry.”

“But sweetheart, you are in your jimjams. What if…?”

“Aw, come on. It’s only ten minutes’ drive. I am ok. I’ll be back before my tea is cold. No risk, no fun.”

Ruth climbed in saying something about her crazy husband.

As we pulled out of the driveway she said, “Well, you be careful that no one sees you in those pyjamas.  You have no pants on and they are so loose I can see Mr Wiggly from here. Watch he doesn’t get a chill.”

We connected our eyes and were both smiling. It was a cheeky, but very pleasant moment between us.

“Ha. At my age I don’t think anyone would take any notice anyway Ruth. There’s not much to look at these days.”

“I know you’re just fishing for compliments, but hard luck,” she returned grinning from ear to ear.

The rain really was awful. I dropped her outside of her office, where the lights showed that John was already there.

“Well, good luck with the presentation. Text me if all goes well and I will put a nice bottle of sparkly in the fridge for when you come home,” I offered, kissing her full on the lips as she climbed out of the car.

“Thanks sweetie. You are a real darling. I won’t be late home. Love you.”

She slammed the car door shut, which always drives me mad. Why do women always treat mechanical things as though they are the enemy? I smiled as she dashed to the office doorway to get out of the rain. “God, I love this woman.”

I knew that it would take me slightly longer to get back home as the direction to Ruth’s office was going out of town and against the general traffic flow in the morning. The route back home is in the opposite direction and is therefore with all the traffic going into town.  It was stop and go most of the way.

As I edged my way around the Roundtree Roundabout my car engine stopped. This is one of the main junctions onto the ring road, and is nearly always heavily congested at this time in the morning. I thought that I had just stalled and tried to start it up again. I was halfway around the roundabout and people were already honking at me.

After a couple of tries I knew that the car wouldn’t start. It was like an early premonition. I came to that absolutely clear understanding that it was bound to happen. In six years this car had always been one hundred per cent reliable. On the one day where I take a risk by leaving the house in my pyjamas, without my mobile phone, without even any bloody underpants on…..on this day when it is pissing down of rain, in my slippers. On this day when I am going to feel like the biggest pillock this side of the M5, my car is definitely not going to start. The heavy rain had gotten into the engine somehow.

I tried a few more times but to no avail. By now the traffic was jockeying for position and many angry motorists were blasting on their horn. After what seemed like hours, but in reality was probably less than a minute, someone rapped on my window. I wound done the window with one hand while holding the flies of my pyjamas closed with the other. “What the hell are you doing?” a guy in a green rain jacket shrieked at me. “Get out and let’s push your car off the road otherwise you will cause chaos.”

“But…..but….I can’t,” I stammered. “I have no clothes on.”

All of my bravado with Ruth from twenty minutes earlier was now gone. I felt totally vulnerable. Of course, I was responsible for my own car and had to do something, but how could I? What a stupid situation.

The guy took one look at me and grinned. “Boy, have you blown it? Do you normally drive around in your pyjamas? Is it some kind of fetish that I have never heard of before?” He was now laughing and thoroughly enjoying the situation, waiting to see what I would do.

I became angry, more at myself that him. I was not going to shy away and hide, but brave it through like a man. I stepped out of the car and asked him to help me push it off the road. It was difficult with all the traffic and rain. It was still raining as hard as ever.

As we reached the kerb we had to give an extra shove to bounce the car over onto the grass verge. I was steering and pushing from the driver’s door while my helper was pushing from the rear. Luckily he was a big strong guy who took most of the weight.

At the moment the car bounced over the kerbstone I slipped on the wet grass verge, thereby losing my grip on the car and falling flat on my face in the mud. The momentum of the car, still under full force of my helping “friend”, rolled on across the grass verge and pavement, finally coming to a halt against a lamppost, which was now leaning over like the Tower Of Pisa.

I lay on the grass, feeling the cold wet mud against my soggy little penis. I remember thinking that this would be a good time to die. I had no more dignity. I had no idea what to do. I turned to ask my assistant if he could phone for help, and maybe lend me a blanket or something…anything. He had gone! The traffic was buzzing by with people waving at me, laughing, as they drove by. I stood, dripping wet, covered in mud, still clinging onto the soggy crotch of my pyjamas to protect that one last little bit of self-esteem.

I knew that I had to remove myself from this situation. I couldn’t simply stand there like this, hoping that something would happen to put me out of this misery. I locked the car, left it exactly where is was and headed for home. It was nearly two miles in the freezing rain, but walking along was better than staying.

After less than a hundred yards I suddenly realised that I had only one slipper on. My feet had become so cold that I was walking barefoot, without realising it. It surely couldn’t get any worse.

I wouldn’t go back for my slipper. It would be more humiliation than I could have taken. Instead I broke into a slow jog and decided that I could be home in fifteen minutes if I kept going. It was really hard. Every now and then my penis jumped out of my pyjamas and I had to quickly put it back in. It was also now starting to become light and I was extremely worried about being reported or caught for indecency.

I almost fell against the door of the house when I arrived, so relieved to finally be home. My feet were completely numb with the cold. The bare one was bleeding in a few places. I actually began to laugh as I realised that all would be ok and I could be in a hot bath within minutes. I could smell the bath foam already.

As I lifted my key ring to put the right key into the door, I saw that the house key was not there. Somehow it had come free and was lost. I almost broke into tears. I remember thinking that you couldn’t even make this up. Such a run of bad luck means that surely someone up there is against me. I began to take it personally.

In this condition it was all the same to me whether I smashed a window to get in or not. I was beyond caring. I just wanted to get in a warm safe place. I was just about to push through the door window with my elbow, when I remembered that the bathroom window was usually left open at the back of the house.

I hobbled round the house to confirm my thoughts and sure enough it was wide open. I knew that if I could climb up I would be able to reach through and open the bigger window. Ruth is always complaining that I leave this window open, but I argue that we are in a very safe neighbourhood.

I bravely walked down to the shed, by now oblivious to the rain and thorns underfoot, as most of my body had reached a state of complete numbness. I collected the ladder and placed it against the house. It was easy to climb up and reach in to open the main window. The difficult part was to climb in, which I did head first, sliding my body through bit by bit.

As I was half in my pyjama bottoms caught on the window latch, but to be honest, by this time I didn’t care anymore. I pulled myself in, landing in a messy heap directly into the bath. I remember thinking, “Well, at least I have landed in the right place for once!”

I spent at least an hour basking in the warm water and replaying my nightmare over and over again. I decided to play it down when Ruth came home as I felt far too embarrassed to let her know what happened.

When I was warm and dressed again I called the local police station to explain what had happened. I was surprised as to how understanding they were and although they had initially treated the accident with the lamppost as a hit and run, they would not be pressing any charges. I think that they thought I had had enough for one day.

I called the local garage to rescue my car. They offered me a courtesy car which I could pick up later.

I sat back and grinned to myself that all is well that ends well.

*****

Ruth sent me a text later that afternoon to say that the presentation was a total success and that she was looking forward to the evening at home with a good meal and nice bottle of wine.

I prepared something special for her and even lit the candles to create a romantic and warm atmosphere.

During the meal we chatted about her presentation. She said that John was so excited about this contract that she thinks she could be in for a hefty bonus this year. She asked me what happened to the car as we had a different one on the drive. I just casually mentioned that I had a small problem with ours and this was a courtesy car from the garage.

We had a lovely evening. After the meal I put some soft sensual music on and we cuddled together on the couch. As Ruth lay in my arms she asked me if everything had gone well this morning after I dropped her off. I said casually, “Of course darling. It’s like I said this morning; no risk, no fun.”

She said, “Roger, if I ask you just one thing, do you promise to answer me truthfully?”

“Of course,” I answered.

“Why are your muddy pyjama bottoms hanging outside from our bathroom window?”

I gulped. My bad day wasn’t over yet.

David

David

When he was five years old all he wanted was to swim. During our holidays, whereas other children enjoyed the amusement arcade, the children’s playground or the Punch and Judy, David only wanted to go down to the beach and spend hours looking for shrimps and crabs or snorkelling between the rocks, watching the little fishes.

He was our only child. Kate was unable to have another. She barely survived the birth of David and it was only after two subsequent operations that her health slowly improved so that she could lead a life of some normality.

Because of this we spoiled David. He was our one precious little gem, and we knew there would be no more. Kate thanked God every day for his existence and health. I was simply happy.

Nowadays Kate and I hardly speak. I still harbour deeper feelings for her, which some may call love but which only serve to confuse me. I don’t want to be alone with her. I can’t look into her eyes as I used to. Sometimes she sickens me. I know that for her it is the same. She only speaks when something needs to be asked or stated which is mundane or factual. “Do you want a coffee? We have no bread. I am going for a walk.”

She never asks how I am feeling or whether I can cope, nor even anything as simple as what my day at the office was like.

We have descended into a life of eat, sleep and work. There is no tangible way forward. The loss eats into my core.

*****

It was our main holiday in Spain last year in September. We had been there many times and knew the beaches well. We always rent the same little house with private swimming pool.

David was eight and by now a very strong swimmer for his age. It was extremely hot and humid for this time of the year. We spent most of our time, either on the beach, or in our garden by the pool. We preferred the beach as David usually found some other children to play with and was happy to swim through the rocks with his snorkel, watching the highly varied marine life. He had no fear of water, something that pleased me, as I was such a weak and nervous swimmer, but which also raised little pricks of concern that he does not sense potential dangers. I was constantly warning him, “Make sure you don’t go too far, the currents are strong.”

“No problem Dad,” he would grin at me with his little cheeky face. “I’ll be careful.”

Kate was sleeping under the parasol. She was topless and I sat marvelling at the smoothness of her breasts and the perfect flatness of her tummy as it ran down into her bikini bottoms. She had fully recovered from the ordeal of giving birth and was this year, for the first time, confident to show her beautiful body on a public beach.

While I pondered the last three years and bathed in the satisfaction of believing that the hard times were now over for us, I marvelled at my luck. I had such a beautiful wife and son. I was smug in the glow of being such a lucky guy.

All of a sudden I glanced across at the rocks and couldn’t see David, so I stood up to get a better look. As I still couldn’t see him I ran down to the beach where he had been only a few moments before. I was not too worried. He is always difficult to spot when in the shallow water with his snorkel.

After a few more moments a concern started to build in the pit of my stomach. I asked some people if they had seen a little boy in red swimming trunks and a snorkel. No-one could help. There is a small cave behind the back of the rocks where we had been many times. It was possible to swim into the tiny cave opening and right at the back was a little sandy beach. We used to go in and play “echos” by shouting at the top of our voices.

I rushed into the water and swam round to the cave. Although I imagined that he couldn’t have been there because I had only taken my eyes off him for a few seconds, I could think of no other place where he could be. When the cave came into view I could see that the opening was completely below the surface, and knowing that David would not be able to swim in at high tide, turned back towards the beach.

I shouted his name on the beach, panic beginning to take over. Kate heard me and came running. We searched among the tourists for some more minutes but saw no trace of him.

The lifeguard came over to help us. He asked me where I had last seen him. As I explained I looked deeply into the lifeguards eyes and simultaneously we came to the same conclusion. The cave!

We raced to the water and dived in. I was in a frenzy of splashes and kicks, but was at the cave entrance before the lifeguard despite my poor swimming technique. I took one deep breath and went in. After looking for what seemed like hours I spotted the red of his trunks. I was overwhelmed with such relief to see him moving in what I assumed was an airlock in one corner of the cave.

As I lurched closer the realisation came in a wave of emotion that he wasn’t moving voluntarily. He was just bobbing with the current.

I grabbed him and pulled towards the cave entrance. He was limp and cold. My lungs were bursting. My sight was slowly draining away as I lost consciousness.

The next thing I knew was lying on my side spewing out slimy salty water and choking back green bile. As I gradually came to, I heard Kate screaming. It was horrific. The scream was coming out of her stomach which was too painful to bear. As I opened my eyes she began to shake me. I thought at first that she was shaking me to help me to recover, but then came the retribution.

“You bastard! You bastard! You killed him. You promised to watch out for him. I hate you.”

I looked at her with the dawning realisation of what had happened.

“Oh David.” I buried my head and couldn’t see or hear anything more.

*****

It was a dark misty morning as we stood by the little grave.

When I looked across towards her all I saw was pain and hatred. While the words were being spoken I heard nothing other than a constant hum. I was not really there.

As the coffin was lowered I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to be in there with him. He was so alone.

If only I had swam with him on that day. If only I had not looked away for a minute. If only……

The guilt was too much to bear.

*****

The last six months have been progressively worse. Her hatred has morphed into a cold numbness. We still exist as a couple but I know I am no more.

As I leap I will fly to him. I have never believed in a creator but at this moment I pray that I was wrong all along. I pray that there is someone or something which can reunite me with my boy. It is my only chance.

There is no note to write. There is no reason. I simply wish to go to him.

God, please give me my David back.