Bank holiday weekend, and I'd got the short straw. Friday evening and weekend standby. But never mind. I hadn't planned to do much, anyway. Both the lads I shared a house with were away, John with his girlfriend in Cambridge and Peter on a course. Pam, the fourth member of the household, had a new boyfriend. The chances were that I wouldn't see her this weekend, either. In a way I hoped I didn't. Last time she brought a boyfriend home they were either cooing at each other like a pair of love birds, or entertaining the household with the sound of their lovemaking.
This was Friday. We'd managed to get all the production work finished in one mad effort. Which meant that the chance of a call out was minimal. I looked at my watch. Ten past eleven. The pub would be shut, but the chip shop should be still open.
It was, but only just, which meant I got an enormous amount of chips for my money, and an extra piece of fish. I crossed the road and opened the front door to my house. That's right. I owned it. The others paid me rent and shared the bills.
The light was on in the living room. Strange, I thought. I pushed the door open. There sat Pam in her favourite emerald green trouser suit. An empty wine bottle stood on the coffee table in front of her and she looked to be well down a second one.
"Well hello. I was beginning to think I'd have the place to myself. Come in and have a drink." Considering the amount of wine she'd got through, her words were clear.
"Thanks, I could do with it. Have a chip?"
"I don't think I need to bother with those, thanks."
"Help yourself if you change your mind." I dropped them on the table, sat down opposite her and took the proffered glass. "How was the new boyfriend?"
"Gross." She flicked her brown hair back before draining her glass. "I'd no sooner got in the car than he says 'You've got a trouser suit on.'. 'And what,' I ask, 'is the problem with that. Not that it's anything to do with you, anyway.' 'Well,' he says, 'it's much easier and much more fun to put my hand up a skirt.' 'And what makes you think you're going to be doing that?' He laughed."
"I'll give him his due, he did buy me dinner. And a few too many drinks in the hope he'd loosen my knickers, no doubt. Then it's back in the car and 'Do you want to go to this dance or shall we go straight to my place and fuck?' he asks. 'We're going dancing,' I said. 'Well would you like to have a quick suck on my cock before we go in?'"
"I tell you, Jamie, that was the lot. When we got to the dance I made for the ladies. Then straight out and into a taxi." She laughed. "Wouldn't I be glad to see his face when he realised I'd gone. How long did he wait, I wonder?" She took another drink. "Pity, because he was attractive, and if he'd taken his time I'd probably have my legs round him now."
"Then he's nine kinds of fool," I muttered to myself. I must have done it louder than intended, because Pam looked across at me.
"That's rich, coming from you, who isn't interested."
Wasn't I, though? I ought to explain that Pam is a lovely girl. Her Killarny brogue adds to the wonder of her. And how I would love to run my hands through that beautiful thick, brown, curly hair, over those pert breasts, up those glorious long legs. But she was both my friend and my tenant. Thoughts like that would have to wait until I was alone in my room. I hoped I hadn't been staring. I took a drink while I tried to get my thoughts together.
"I mean," she went on, "if I were to walk round this house naked, the other two would have eyes like organ stops. I doubt if you'd notice."
The wine must have been having an effect on my empty stomach, because I heard myself saying, "This is your home, Pam. If you want to walk round it naked, be my guest. I'll try and be gentleman enough not to look, though I probably would and hope I could do it without you seeing me."
And lock the sight in my memory for later. For all time.
"How would you know I didn't want you to look." I could hear a bit of a slur in her voice. "If I were walking round stark fucking naked and you wouldn't look don't you think I'd be insulted?"
I reached for a chip. There weren't any. How long had we been sitting here? Pam stood up and swayed.
"I'm going to bed. Want to join me?"
What do you say to an offer like that? I knew what the rest of the rest of the dialogue would be. I'd say 'yes'. She'd say something like, 'well you'll have to want, you dirty bastard. And I thought you were my friend.' Or she'd laugh. Either way I'd be looking for a new tenant next week. I thought hard and fast.
"That's a wonderful offer, Pam. But I'm so tired I'll be out cold before my head touches the pillow." If only.
"Your choice. Good night."
* * *
I got up bright and early next morning, and spent it pottering in the garden. Came in having worked up a thirst and an appetite. I was washing the muck off my hands when Pam came down.
"Top of the morning."
"And to you." I turned to look and had to bite my lip. Instead of the jeans and sweatshirt she usually wore on a Saturday she was dressed in a white border print cotton skirt, deep blue blouse and white sandals. Her legs were bare. "You look very summery," I managed to comment.
"I was going over to the Crown for a pint and a bite. Care to join me?"
"That's civil of you. I'd love to."
We sat at a table, applying ourselves to Peter's steak and kidney pie with our pints in front of us. Hers was Guinness, of course. I had my favourite brown and mild.
"So," she said, "what are your plans for the holiday? Don't mind me. If you've got a girlfriend coming over, I can make myself scarce."
"No. No girlfriend. No plans either. And you?"
"My plans had evaporated by the time I called a taxi home last night." She looked across at me with a funny smile on her face. "That leaves us thrown together. If you don't mind, of course?"
"I don't mind." She must have something better to do with her time.
There was another silent space while we finished our meals.
"Would you be interested in playing a game?" she asked.
"What sort of game?" I knew she threw a mean dart. I'd tried to beat her many a time, with little success.
"This is one we play from time to time at home. The rules are simple. One of us asks the other a question and the other one has to answer."
"That's a game?"
"Well, there is more to it, to be sure. First, you can ask anything you like, and the other person has to tell the truth when they answer. And second, every time someone asks a question, we both have to take a drink."
"And if you're caught not telling the truth?"
"What if we say you have to empty your glass and buy the next round?'
"Could be interesting. Let's give it a try." I had a number of things I could ask her, though I wouldn't dare voice the questions I'd really like answered.
"Only we don't play it drinking beer. When I'm at home we have the real stuff, but here, I suppose we'll have to make do with a scotch blend." She stood up. "You bought these, I'll get the whiskies."
I didn't have chance to say that I didn't drink whisky. The game wouldn't last long before I was incapable of speech.
She put a glass in front of me. It must have been at least a double. I looked at it. Here goes, I thought, and finished my pint.
"Who asks the first question?"
"We shall have to decide that. Do you have a coin?"
"That's a sexist comment."
"I'm sorry. It's part of the way I was brought up."
"Well, if you insist." She picked up her glass and waited until I had mine. "Slanje." I took a sip. It burned all the way down. Pam, I noticed, drank more than I did. But no doubt she was used to it. "You should take a proper drink, not wet your lips in it," she commented. "But I'll let you off."
"Thanks." I settled back. "Ask away."
"Are you gay?"
Blah! All the wind went out of me. And I all but knocked myself out when my chin hit the table. Pam laughed.
"Hell's teeth, you don't bother to build up to the big ones, do you?"
"Be truthful, now."
"I am being truthful. No, I'm not gay. In fact the idea of going with another man revolts me. A bloke did try to touch me up once. My mates had the hell of a job to persuade me to let him leave with his front teeth." I was thinking what I could ask her. On question begged to be asked. I knew what the answer would be. But I was fool enough not to leave it open. I raised my glass.
"Come on," she said, "take a proper drink." I did, trying not to choke. I looked across at her laughing eyes.
She shrugged her shoulders. Here it comes, I thought.
"After last night, and with you not having a girlfriend, and the way you don't try it on with me, I wanted to know. Both the others have tried to get me into bed with them." She looked up at me. "No I didn't. It might surprise you, but I'm choosy with men."
"You could have fooled me."
"If fancy a bloke, I'll go as far as he wants - and maybe take him further. If I don't fancy him, I won't even flirt."
She took a drink - so I had to match her. I could see that her glass was nearly empty. But now came the next question.
"Why don't you have a girlfriend?"
Another $64,000. And I had to tell the truth.
"Look at me. Take a long, hard look if you can. Tell me if you can imagine any girl wanting to be involved in a relationship with someone who looks like me. Can you?"
I hadn't taken a drink, so she could be polite rather than truthful. But I decided I might as well have this over once and for all. I took a drink.
"Your round, I think," she said.
I bought her another scotch. A single. I was half-way down mine.
"It's your question," she prompted.
"All right. This one's multiple choice. If I'd said 'Yes' last night, would you a) have rolled on the floor laughing; b) have run out of the room screaming; or c) smacked my face and spent today looking for somewhere else to live?"
"That's easy. d) none of the above. I'd have asked if we could use your bed, as it's bigger than mine."
"Come on, Pam, you were supposed to tell the truth. Finish that and get the refills."
"I'm being totally honest. You can easily test that."
Not that I would inflict that on her, and I'm sure she knew it. Our eyes locked. She looked away and took a drink. The whisky still burned my throat as it went down. Pam tented her fingers and smiled across the table.
"What did you fantasise when you were wanking last night?"
Talk about how to lose friends! How did she know, anyway? The bed didn't creak - I was careful over that. She'd never know if I lied. But a promise was a promise, despite the consequences.
"You," I admitted, "prancing round the living room starkers. I said I wouldn't look, but, if you ever did, I'd be drinking in the sight with my peripheral vision, to remember it for later. I'm sorry, but I've got a dirty mind. Yes, I know I should be ashamed. I am, but I can't help it. And after that admission I won't hold you to your three months notice." I reached for my glass. She wasn't moving.
"You sound like a normal, red-blooded bloke to me. Just the way I hoped you were." She looked round. "Shall we grab some bottles? It will be easier to continue at home, don't you think?"
It would give me time to think of another question, something I needed.
She finished her whisky in one gulp, then stood up. I took longer getting the stuff down. I hoped I wouldn't have to drink too much. Four or five pints was my limit, and I'd had two before we started on this 'game'.
By the time I'd emptied my glass, Pam was holding a carrier bag that clinked ominously.
When we got home and settled in the sitting room I was glad to see she'd got wine. Although the fact that she'd bought four bottles worried me. I got some glasses while she plied the corkscrew.
"We'll assume we've had the drinks," she said wit a smile. "Your question. And don't forget that it can be as personal and embarrassing as you like. I think it was the last time I played with my brother, and his first question was 'What colour knickers are you wearing?'. I had to tell the truth - and give him the opportunity to check."
"He sounds a rum chap."
"He's a lovely man, my brother. Great fun to be with. I think this game was his idea." She crossed her legs, folded her hands round the top knee and looked at me.
I still didn't know what I to ask. I went for the obvious.
"What colour knickers are you wearing?"
"Green," she replied. "I always have something green in my clothes. It reminds me of home." She smiled. "I presume you want to see some proof that I'm telling the truth?"
I'd have been happy to take her word for it, but she uncrossed her legs and picked them up so that her heels were on the edge of the seat of her chair. I could see right up her skirt and, yes, they were green. I looked away, my face on fire.
Pam hooted with laughter.
"You should see your face!" She picked up her glass and took a drink. Perhaps the look in her eye should have warned me. She waited until I'd put my glass down.
"Didn't you like what you saw?"
"Well, yes, I did." The way my cock had lifted the front of my trousers would have given me the lie on that one.
"Why didn't you keep looking?" She tipped her head on one side. "Or would you have preferred the view if I hadn't been wearing any?"
My cock began making an bigger bump in my trousers.
"I can see that appeals," she went on with a bigger smile. "It can be arranged. You only have to ask."
Somewhere inside me the brute male was sitting up with his tongue hanging out. "Yeah, yeah, yeah." I gave her a smile.
"That's a kind offer, Pam, but I had it drummed into me when I was young that looking up ladies' skirts was not 'nice'. And when I say 'drummed' I mean it literally. My mother used to use a ruler."
"Charming. But you looked as though you enjoyed the view. Let me know when you think you've drunk enough to overcome your aversion therapy to the female of the species and I'll let you have another look - with or without knickers, as you prefer." She took another drink. I followed suit, thinking rapidly. There were several questions I wanted answers to. But one was foremost. In for a penny.
"Pam," I asked, half hoping and half dreading her answer, you've taken a long, hard look at me, or at least I asked you to earlier. You seemed to be able to tolerate what you saw. So tell me this. What sort of girl do you think would want to get involved with someone who looks like me?"
"You're sticking to the easy ones, are you? Any girl with a small amount of sense. Me, for example." Her glass was in her hand before I could react.
"What makes you think you're bad to look at?" she asked.
"If you get told something like that often enough, you come to believe it."
"And some fool has been telling you that, have they?"
"Every school day from the middle of my second year until I went into hospital during my fifth year one of the other lads in the class would come over, look me up and down, and sneer before saying 'Why are you so ugly?'"
"He'd be thirteen when he started saying that?"
"And I presume he was thinking of himself as a great one for the girls. I can understand why he said it." She leaned back. "But that was only one of the boys. I'll bet he was jealous. What did the girls say?"
"It was a boys' school."
"But there must have been girls. You must have gone to parties and things."
"No. My parents' social circle was nil. Except to go to chapel I don't think they ever went out."
"And your friends didn't have sisters, or girlfriends of their own."
"I didn't get the chance to have many friends. My primary school was in a mining village. My father was the headmaster. I was forbidden to associate with the other children except to play in the playground. They were all far too common. Which meant they spoke Derbyshire, and their fathers got their hands dirty, so they were at least one class below my parents."
"And there were no children around where you lived?"
"A girl lived next door. We were friends until I was five or six. Then my parents managed to fall out with hers and we were forbidden to play together."
"You poor lonely little child. Whatever did you do with yourself?"
"Read books and disappeared into my own little world of make- believe."
"No wonder you have difficulty relating to other people. You do, don't you? That's not a game question, but that's how it appears to me."
I could only nod.
"And there were no girls in your life at all, while this lad was destroying the little bit of self-confidence you had?"
"Not one." I reached my hand out for the glass. I felt I needed a drink. "The first time I came into any real contact with the female of the species my own age was when I was in hospital." I noticed she hadn't yet taken a drink. Which meant I couldn't ask my next question.
"And you took up with one of the nurses?"
"I could have done. She was a nursing cadet, the same age as me, 16. Sparks flew between us from the first day, even though I was seriously ill. We never managed to have much time to talk, though."
"She went on holiday and while she was away she sent me a postcard. Signed with love. But I'd been sent home in the meantime. I was still ill, and my father intercepted the postcard and asked me who this girl was. I had to say I wasn't sure, because we'd never had chance to exchange first names. He sent it back."
"The bastard! What happened?"
"That was the end of it. No more cards from her. I couldn't get out of the house. I couldn't write to her without my parents knowing, and reading the mail before they took it out of the house."
"And you stood for that?"
"What the fucking hell else was I supposed to do? My father and I had stand-up rows most days before I was ill. Later it came to blows a few times. But I could barely get out of bed, let alone fend for myself. Later on, when I got better, I got bolshie enough to ignore him most of the time. He'd still rant on, but I'd switch my ears off and raise a mental two finger salute." I looked at my glass. "The way I'm rabbiting on I reckon I've had enough."
"That's the way the game goes." She also took a drink. "I forgot to tell you the last rule. You can only stop when both players agree. I don't, yet. Your question."
"What I don't understand, Pam, is why you're taking so much interest in me. Are you so hard up for a man that I am all you can find, which I doubt, by the way. Do you feel sorry for me or do you feel that you ought to be friendly to me because we're both on our own over the holiday?"
"You have a self-worth somewhere in the high negative range, don't you? Most men I've met would assume I'm doing this because I fancy them, but not you. You have the automatic assumption that you are not fanciable. It isn't true. If I hadn't fancied you I never would have come to live here - nice a place as it is. There you have it in hard fact. I fancy you. I feel sorry for you as well. I think you've had a rough deal out of life and I'd like to help you have a happier future. But that, ideally, would be a future with me in it."
"That's flattering, Pam."
"No, it's not. It's what happens between a man and a woman. Call it chemistry, if you like, but not flattery." She lifted her glass. "Would you let me spend the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend running a special training course in the social skills you lack? A 'hands on' training course which I hope you would enjoy?"
I thought for a few minutes. I didn't think I got on too badly in company. But if it meant spending the rest of the weekend in the company of this lovely girl, the humiliation - and I was still convinced this was a wind-up and she'd be going all out to make me look all sorts of a fool - would be worth it.
"Yes," I said, "with one proviso. I get the chance to draw the line if it gets too much."
"Oh, no! I'm not going to be drawing any lines. Why should you? That's rule one of Pam's Training School. You do what teacher says." She must have seen my decision on my face. "All right," she concede with a sigh, "if I ask you to do something that's completely out of the question, ask for a Guinness, OK?"
"And we'd better have the other rule straight, as well. Absolute truth. You'll have to trust me to be truthful at all times until 5 on Monday. And if you can catch me in a lie I'll," she stopped to think, "I'll be your slave outside work for a week. Is that good enough?"
"And the same thing applies to you. Bugger manners. You have to be truthful in all you tell me until the same time, with the same penalty, all right? Shyness, silence and blushing hesitation can be treated as lies. Do you agree?"
I was in for it. I dreaded to think what she would have me doing as her slave for the week. I'd have to stay at work most of the time. "Yes."
"Good." She picked up the wine bottle. "We can stop playing the game. I think it's served its purpose. The wine will come in useful during the weekend, though." She gave me a beaming smile. "For God's sake, Jamie. Anyone would think I'd said I was going to make your life a misery."
Well aren't you?
"Where do we start? Books on the head and 'how now, brown cow'?"
"For pity's sake. This is Pam's Training School for backward boys, not a deportment shop." She laughed at her own joke. The drink was getting to her as well, was it? "We start, as all good training courses should start, with a quiz, to see where the pupils are, and what they need to be taught. Sit up straight, and remember, you have to be truthful."
"Question 1. How many times have you had it off?"
My jaw must have bounced off my knees. She giggled.
"Come on. Let's have the complete truth. How many times have you fucked a woman?"
"Why not? You surely know plenty of girls."
"But I know them as friends."
"And you've got some reservations over fucking your friends?"
"No. But I don't know how to make the transition from friend to girlfriend, let alone that from girlfriend to fuck."
"Who says there has to be one?"
"Well, I always thought, well, that was the natural progression."
"It doesn't have to be. Taking someone as your girlfriend implies some romantic attachment, at least to me. And if you are saying you can only fuck someone you're romantically involved with, you're missing out on an awful lot. One night stands, for example. And a lot of people who are friends and nothing better fuck. It can be fun, as well as anything else. It can go the other way. I know of at least one couple who fucked as friends, and are now married. And not because they had to," she snapped, seeing the look on my face. "but because the fun they had in bed led to all sorts of other things. In the end they found they were in love." She poured a small glass of wine and drank half of it in one go.
"I always thought that when a girl said she wanted to be a friend, she meant she didn't want any relationship, sexual or romantic."
"But that's a different type of friendship. Now, wouldn't you say that we're friends?"
"Yes, I would." Or at least I would have done until this morning.
"And you'd like to fuck me? Don't forget the rules."
She gave me a big smile. I was really in for it.
"I think we're getting somewhere. You need a lot of teaching, still. But we can start from the basics and work up. Here's lesson one. The simplest way of getting a friend to let you fuck her is to ask. Do you understand that?"
"Yes." I didn't think it was true. If I asked a girl I was friendly with to go to bed with me, she'd laugh, scream or belt me round the chops. Or any combination of the three.
"So," she continued, finishing her wine. "Each lesson in Pam's Training School comes with a practical at the end of it, where we can see if you've learned what was in the lesson and know how to put it into practice." She settled back. "That's the end of lesson one. Now for the practical."
She sat still. I waited for my instructions.
"Come on," she said. "If you take this long over the practical sessions the course is going to take months to complete.
"I don't understand the session," I replied.
"What was lesson one?"
"You can get a friend to let you fuck her by asking," I repeated.
"What do you think the practical is?"
"Do I ask you?"
She looked round the room.
"I'm your friend. I'm female. I don't see anyone else around who you could ask."
Here goes. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I looked across at her. After all, this was an exercise in a training school. She could criticise my delivery, but what I said wouldn't matter.
"Would you like to go to bed?"
"I'm not tired, thanks."
"No, would you come to bed with me. For a fuck." I'd said it. I hoped she'd laugh. She was sitting with a great big grin across her face, like the proverbial cat with the cream.
"Oh, Jamie. I thought you'd never ask. I'd love to." She stood up and held out her hand. I didn't move. I was still trying to take in what she'd said. "Come on."
"Up to your bed for a fuck, of course. Didn't you ask me?"
"But I thought?."
"Don't start messing me around. A girl who says yes and then no is either the worst kind of prick teaser or asking to get raped. As for a bloke, well, I've never heard of such a thing. I'll have no graduate of my training school playing those games. On your feet."
When we got to the foot of the stairs she stopped.
"I'll go first. You'll get the best view if you let me get half- way up. All right?"
"And if I find you're not looking, there'll be trouble. You understand me?"
"I think so."
"Right. And don't worry. I'm not a virgin. I'll make sure you enjoy yourself."
She headed up the stairs and I took myself a look as instructed. I was sure I saw a couple of flashes of green before she got to the top of the stairs. She turned round at the top and waited for me. I was looking up as she turned round and got the best view of all - apart from the one in the living room, that is.
"You'll have to use your judgement as to whether to be caught looking. I know lots of girls who find it a turn-on - and a few who don't."
We went into my bedroom. I was still waiting for the catch. Pam turned and smiled at me.
"It'll be a lot easier if we turn the bedclothes back. I'm not shy and I don't see any reason why you should be, either."
She helped me roll the covers off the foot of the bed. She stepped back and, still smiling, started to unfasten her shirt. I pulled mine over my head and threw it down behind me. I bent to take off my socks, as I'd left my muddy boots outside the back door.
I looked up in time to see Pam open her shirt and turn to drape it on the back of the chair. She was wearing a green bra, too, with lace trimmed cups that just covered the nipples. My mouth went dry and my cock rigid at the sight. She looked straight at the bulge in my jeans.
I don't think I could have said much, so I said nothing, smiled and started to unfasten my belt. I was aware that she was watching me and my hands started to shake. But I managed to get both belt and button undone. I wrenched down the zip and let my jeans fall to the floor. Pam purred.
"That looks very tasty."
She put her hands in the waistband of her skirt, which turned out to be elasticated. In a few seconds it was over her hips and round her ankles in a puddle of material. She bent forward to pick it up and I grabbed the chance of a look down her bra. My cock got harder.
"Is this the least you've ever seen a woman wearing?" Pam asked, standing in her bra and panties, which I could see came down in a vee from her hips to her cleft, with enough material to conceal her thatch. "In real life, I mean?"
I nodded. It wasn't quite true, because one of the pubs I used to visit when I was on the buses had strippers, and they showed everything. But watching a stripper was completely different from this.
"We'll have to change that." She put her hands behind her and unsnapped the bra. Pulling it off her shoulders, she dropped it on the chair without looking. I looked. No, I stared. They were better than I'd imagined. Two little off-white pointed mounds, each one just big enough to fill your hand. They had deep pink circles an inch across at the tips and the nipples stuck out as much as my eyes must have. Pam's smile widened.
"I trust you like what you see."
"Not half," I managed to gasp as my cock made its way though the gap in my Y-fronts. Pam looked at it and licked her lips. Not thinking, I tucked it back, then pushed my Y-fronts down over it and let them fall. Pam gasped when she saw the scars.
"You poor boy." Her eyes came up to my face. "No damage to the important works, I trust?"
"Not as far as I know."
"We'd better get them under test PDQ and make sure."
She slid her hands down her stomach and out to her hips, catching the sides of her panties. Picking up each leg in turn, she took off her panties and piled them with the rest of her clothes. I saw, for the first time, what I still think is the most beautiful sight in the world. A naked woman, stripped and ready for sex. The mat at the top of her thighs was the same colour as her hair. I drank in the vision.
"Pam," I said, "I think you're wonderful."
"Do you?" Her voice had become a deep, throaty whisper. She must have been very aroused. "Come to bed and I'll show you something more wonderful."