A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Getting away from it all...


The Sunday papers slammed The Bedroom Bonanza, calling it a pornographic farce of the worst order with absolutely nothing noteworthy about it. Out of five they all gave it one, for getting the title spelled correctly.

Bubbles Brastrap faced utter humiliation by attempting a very public suicide and ended up connected to the real world via pipes and wires as medics struggled to reverse the damage a cocktail of drugs (both prescription and illegal) had done, and Justin Bodyline sought escape from the world in a commune dedicated to worship of some Eastern deity.

And Detective Inspector Ian Brougham did the only right thing when he saw how things were going and took Ursula away from it all.

I’ll never write another word,” she told him as they made their gentle way across the English Channel towards France and a world that might treat them better.

It wasn’t your book,” Ian told her, “just a madman’s interpretation of it. After all, I’ve read it and even though it isn’t my sort of literature I actually liked it.

I know you’re right,” sighed Ursula, “but it doesn’t stop me feeling soiled by it. I don’t think I mentioned nakedness once, and when they made the film even when that Bubbles wasn’t naked she might as well have been. So, yes, I feel soiled.

As soiled as you did when Primrose caught me at your breakfast table for a second time?” grinned the Inspector.

The first time she thought we’d slept together and the second time she didn’t know what to think but probably assumed you were offered the spare room like before.”

So when you were innocent she assumed guilt, and when you were guilty she thought you innocent,” grinned Ian.

You policemen! Everything’s in terms of innocence and guilt to you!” she laughed.

Only joking!” he told her, but he didn’t need to because she knew.

It’s been a real treat for me to wake up next to so young a man, though,” she said, suddenly serious. “There aren’t so many virile fellows of your age who’d look twice at an old bird like me!”

I like you,” he said, honestly, “and I seem to recall that you’ve got the same bits and pieces of a woman a third of your age!”

It’s nice feeling liked,” she whispered.

Or loved...” he breathed into her ear. The looked up at him, her heart swelling with … what was? Pride? Hope? Love…? Was it love?

It’s funny, growing old,” she sighed, mentally changing the subject before she collapsed like jelly into his arms.

Funny? How?”

Well, let me put it like this. When I open my eyes and look around at the world … take those seagulls back at Dover as they circled round and round the ferry, and all the people you jostle along with in this or that queue in shops and supermarkets, ordinary everyday stuff like flowers in the garden or sparrows dancing on the guttering, all those things look the same as they did when you were knee-high to a grasshopper. And because they look the same you feel the same, until you chance to pass by a mirror, of course!”

He looked at her reflectively. “There’s other stuff too,” he murmured, “like when I’m on case and one of my officers is a raw recruit, new to the job. When I find myself talking to them I sometimes feel as if I was speaking a different language! People move on, times change, but even though I’m not fifty yet I’m standing still.”

I know. Now tell me, kind sir, what language are you using when you talk to this old lady here?”

Ah, but I don’t feel like we’re any different to each other, you and I. And you’re quite a turn in bed!”

Shush, young man, or someone might hear you! But talking of being in bed, are there any luxury cabins on this old tub? Where an old bird might lie down with her beau, for instance?”

It’s a ferry, Ursula, not a floating bordello!”

Ah, what a shame. And to think I’m so inexpensive!”

There’s nothing cheap about you, Ursula, and I count myself lucky to have … you know what, spent some time with you, and...”

Shagged me? I think that’s what the dirty boys call it. And you have, for which I’ll be eternally grateful. You’re good at it, and at my age a woman knows the difference between good and bad.”

You’ve had experience of the bad, then?”

Not really. I don’t really know why I said that. I haven’t slept around, if that’s what you want to know. I only had the two husbands, one divorced and one dead, and wasn’t unfaithful to either of them, neither in thought or deed.”

What about your vicar? Didn’t he, you know, try it on?”

He was a tormented soul, Ian, a truly wrecked person, and it would have been more than cruel of me to take advantage of what amounted to a mountain of frailties. If anyone wants to understand the evil of sending young men to war then his story might help.”

It was that bad?”

I don’t know the actual truth, but from bits and pieces I observed he watched a best friend die at the precise moment when he looked at him properly for the first time and fell in love with him. And when that loved one was dying in the most excruciating pain he helped him on his way. Or did he? Was that an alternative truth he’d constructed during years of tortured nights? What he thinks he ought to have done, but lacked something, the courage, the morality, who can tell? Or did he do it? He thought he had.”

Murder, then?” frowned the Detective Inspector.

If it happened, is that what it was? Murder? You’d call a merciful release like that murder still, would you? You, who’d happily take a dying dog to the vet’s for a gentle release from its life?”

There are laws, Ursula, and they’re there for a reason.”

She looked at him and frowned. “It’s such a contradiction,” she said said.

What is?”

The government sends a young man into battle against other young men who, through no fault of their own, happen to be on what the politicians blindly call the enemy’s side, and are given guns and loads of ammunition to kill as many of them as they can. Kill, kill, kill! That’s the order! But when one comes upon a friend in a pool of his own gore, a comrade, a dear one, and the kindest thing he can do is help him on his way, then a pompous policeman years later calls him a murderer!”

Ian looked uncomfortable. “I didn’t mean that, exactly. But take euthanasia. Granny is rich and grandson is going to inherit a fortune, so grandson decides a one-way trip to Switzerland for her, and one of their clinics that deal in mercy killings, might hasten that fortune towards his own pocket. That’s why it’s illegal. To stop that sort of thing.”

And let those without a greedy grandson suffer through their last few days or weeks, with their only ally pain...” Ursula shook her head.

There aren’t any easy answers,” sighed Ian. “We’re all human and whatever is decided to be right or wrong will have contradictions.”

Let’s cheer ourselves up,” said Ursula, “and forget about morbid death. Now tell me again, where are you taking me?”

To Switzerland,” he said with a hollow laugh.

© Peter Rogerson 02.09.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on September 2, 2018
Last Updated on September 2, 2018
Tags: ferry, disastrous film, Switzerland, euthanasia, age



Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..