I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; Robert Louis Stevenson – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Picture the scene.
Hotel suite–clean, well-appointed. Tasteful décor too–it’s beige, but you know, classy beige. Black hardwood furniture. Crisp white linen on the bed and tastefully patterned bedspreads, a complimentary shade…
Alright, fuck this. Interior design’s not why we’re here. It’s a nice place, enough said. Now what else?
Temperature comfortable–A/C managing a UK Easter heatwave. Mini-bar well-stocked and, let it be noted from the empty scattered bottles, well-used. Observe remnants of white powder on the dressing table, along with makeshift accoutrements for said powder’s consumption. Naughty, naughty. Sufficiently decadent? No? You want more? Fine, let’s do this.
Scan the room and check out the discarded clothing on the carpet, and in several cases hanging where it landed on that hardwood furniture; flung, in those latter cases, with no regard for anything but impending nakedness.
Quick inventory of said clothing. One tuxedo with matching trousers, one man’s dress-shirt and bowtie (proper kind, none of your hook-at-the-back rubbish); shoes and socks, one pair boxer shorts. Two dresses (one in ostentatious fitted chiffon, the other less showy, but still your dress-to-impress posh-frock); one pair low-heeled shoes, one high; assorted feminine under-garments–lacy brassieres and panties, stockings and suspenders, garter belt, in pale pink and brash purple. All in all, quite the lingerie catalogue, don’t you think?
Let your imagination stray to the bed. Come on, it was there already, wasn’t it, you dirty bitch/bastard/non-binary horny fucker (delete as appropriate)? Unless of course you’re still fetishising the items of shed clothing, in which case knock yourself out. No judgement here, we’re all friends. But it’s the activity on the bed that really concerns us… no?
There’s a guy–mid-to-late-thirties and sufficiently well-kept that the phrase ‘proudly naked’ feels merited. He’s fair-skinned with the first of a summer tan. Broad-chested and notably (though not extravagantly) muscled–good ass and a stomach that’s admirably staving off middle-aged padding. His resting face would be charming and amiable, but his features are currently contorted into something altogether different. At full height he’d be just shy of six feet; he’s kneeling right now and is–you might well choose to say–splendidly erect in the penile department. We might even resort to a second ‘proudly’, especially since his pubic hair has been trimmed to accentuate his considerable dimensions.
His hands are all around the apparent source of his excitement–a finely formed young female bottom, plump and smooth like a nectarine and as firm as that swollen fruit when it’s first plucked from the branch. The ass in question is but one noteworthy attribute of a slender blonde girl who must so recently have parted company with her clothing. There’s a silkiness to more than her shoulder-brushing hair–the whole of her gives off a glossy youthful sheen, from her taut flanks to the tips of her high, neat breasts, that perspiration only serves to enhance. Her face has natural sweetness and retains it now, even though it’s flushed, and smudged. Even though–in this moment suspended in time–there’s another female ass, inches from it.
The second bottom is olive in complexion (as with the girl of which it forms a part), yet it bears comparison to the blonde’s in terms of shape and tightness. Equally succulent in other words. In height and form this girl is similar also to her blonde mattress-mate, though with a tad more fleshiness and fuller boobs. She’s dark-eyed, with shiny ash-brown hair (loose) and a prettiness suggestive of mischief in the curve of her lips and her eyebrows’ arch. As of this instant, however, her expression is all astonishment, at what the man has just told her companion to perform. The girls’ ages, tender like their hot young bodies, would add up in total–or thereabouts–to his, and there’s no reason to expect that they’d be familiar with such demands. But a firm instruction, delivered with authority and expectation, has power over an impressionable young mind, especially one that wants to be impressed. And these girls are so evidently desirous of that.
Let’s get this clear–there’s no conjecture or assumption at work here. This third-person narrative may have played out like guesswork so far, but guess what–it’s omniscient when it wants to be. You’re an intelligent reader and you want the insight track, not just a blow-by-blow (though there will be much blowing). So let’s scrap the external perspective and get closer, specifically to the guy.
Know first that he’s not who you think he is. Because you’ve got him down as a player of long standing, right? Some established fucker who chucked the moral rulebook long ago, or maybe never owned one to begin with. Getting two young things half his age all stripped and quivering and ready, when he’s learnt little more than their names, is just what he does of a weekend, same as some men play five-a-side football. He’s a city type, corporate, probably corrupt. Alpha male, borderline sociopathic. Wrong ‘un through and through, however white collar, whose guiding force since puberty has been his cock. Right?
Wrong. Nowhere close. First surprise–the guy’s a teacher. Grammar school–that’s high school for proven smarty-pants, if you’re unfamiliar with the UK’s education system. Teaches English Lit and Film, plus something called Life Skills, to a student body exclusively (bar those who have re-identified as something other) made up of girls. So now you’re thinking, Ahhhhh, bad teacher, story archetype–the classic dirty dude who smarms about the classroom, angling to fuck his senior students. Wrong again. Hold fire! Get to know him properly…
His name’s Jed Martin. Jed for Jedediah–his parents were Quakers. Jedediah is an unfortunate name with which to be saddled, but ‘Jed’ is pretty damn cool, I think you’ll agree. As for Quakerdom, he left the strictly religious aspects behind, but has held to the wider ethics–equality, justice and peace, living your life in a spirit of generosity and being moderate in all your habits. Commendable stuff. It’s such thinking that informs his career in teaching and that shapes his attitude to his students.
He takes it serious as stone. Not just the academic part, though he loves all of that–from Shakespeare to Atwood, Hitchcock to Gerwig, getting those eager, knowledge-hungry students engaged with the creative spirits that inspire him. Seeing them inspired too. But he wants more for them, these pupils of his. Devotes himself, never less than to his A-level girls, the ones staring real life–college and freedom and independence–in the face. Ever read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie? No reason you should have. Seen the film? It’s got a young Maggie Smith in it (Prof McGonagall from Harry Potter) as the teacher, invested in her girls’ cultural and social and intellectual furtherance. He’s like her, but without the unfortunate leanings towards Fascism. No–scrap that, rubbish analogy. He’s more like… Robin Williams in Dead Poets’ Society, that’s the one! Encouraging his female charges in this case to seize the day and make their lives extraordinary.
Go out there, live your lives and live them well. Be the leaders of tomorrow–in science and politics and industry–the thinkers and doers who forge a fairer society and drag us back from environmental disaster and help us all lead healthy, fulfilled lives. Become women of the world, who know your worth and take no shit from anyone, least of all men.
That’s what he’d say, that’s what he thinks, that’s how he teaches (or at least aspires to). Wants them to do more than smash exams and achieve dream careers. Wants them to fulfil their potential in all aspects. To be healthier and happier, aspire higher and greater, hell–be better than the generation gone before. That’s what this teacher wants for all his students.
Here’s the rub–he also wants to fuck them.
Not all, not indiscriminately–but… every year, among his older students, those on the cusp of that great beckoning world, are those girls. You’ve been to school, right? You know the ones. The sly, the sassy, the vivacious. The flirtatious, the coyly cute, the pushily provocative. The sleekly elegant and the in-your-face sexy. And of that lot, Christ he wants to fuck every damn one. Wants to shaft each of them shitless.
Don’t ask how he got here, this isn’t a fucking biography. Suffice to say that an advanced sense of kink and a deep sense of morality can end up as unhappy roommates within the same human being. Check out that quotation at the start–it ain’t lyin’.
Nor, let it be stated, has Jed spent his nights lusting and scheming. Hell, for years he didn’t dare admit his lusts to himself. Admittedly they were much easier to suppress when he was shacked up with a steady girlfriend–happily shagging the weekends away, channelling his sex-drive (and it took some channelling, let me tell you) down routes widely deemed appropriate. He could deal back then with tease and temptation, brush off classroom crushes and ignore the more pronounced teen curves on view. It became trickier when the relationship went arse-over-tits and he was single once again in a demanding job–bored and overtired and lonely–with the tide of his libido ebbing back post break-up and not enough to do with it. That spelt T-R-O-U-B-L-E.
And Trouble was firstly personified in the form of Tori Beeching.
Prick-tease Tori, who served herself to him on a Prom Night platter and left him reeling and gasping in masturbatory frustration, after he’d found the will to turn her down. That girl, you see, was the physical embodiment of all he’d fought against–a flame-haired confirmation of what could be, if he’d only let it happen. But that he couldn’t afford to do. Couldn’t risk crashing his career, betraying all he represented, undermining his own moral authority. He couldn’t take the thing he shouldn’t even want, but secretly did, so very, very badly.
So–though Tori’s time at school was ended, Jed’s struggle had just begun. Something inside him was bursting to get out. And not like the alien in John Hurt’s stomach. This something had always been a part of him.
To acknowledge what’s been lurking in the turbid depths of one’s subconscious can undoubtedly be helpful, but you need the right therapist. Jed found Rebecca–a new manifestation of Trouble. She was American, also in education, or that’s what she told him. He met her online one night post-Trish (his ex), on one of those chat sites members of the teaching profession are exhorted to avoid, lest their activity there ever return to haunt them. Rebecca, to be blunt, was truly twisted, at a time when Jed was twistable. Her Instant Messages fast became his moral kryptonite.
You’re a teacher? Who do you teach? (Not ‘what’, note, though that comes into play later in our story.)
He told her. High-school girls exclusively, the oldest aged eighteen. Her response was ecstatic.
Fuck. A dirty bastard like you? (He’d let her see that other side of him, enough for her to know. It was that kind of site.) That’s awesome. Do they fancy you? (Some, he admitted, knowing he shouldn’t do so.) Yeah? What about you? You like any of them? Think about them? You do, don’t you? What kinds of thing do you think?
He resisted, initially, told her he never went there. Reaffirmed it when she asked him did he want to. But she poked and she teased, and she prepped her hook with such enticing bait that eventually he bit. Yes, he said (inwardly cursing her), he thought about them.
She began to reel him in.
Which ones? Go on, give me names.
He told her–not straight off, but eventually. Inevitably. First names only, cock stiffening with the rush of each micro-betrayal to both students and vocation. Alice (Prendergast–sexy nerd who chatted comic-book movies with him). Esther (Goodwin–the funny, garrulous one with tales of weekend party exploits). Olivia (Kemp–high achiever, bright-eyed and eager for his praise and validation).
Describe them. Details. You know what I want.
He knew. He gave the deets while throbbing hard, each treacherous revelation one more self-inflicted wound to his teacher’s battered conscience. Alice’s jean-clad ass on dress-down charity Fridays. Esther’s boobs and hips, hugged tight in woollen dresses (thereby slinking through a loophole in the school’s dress code). Olivia’s lissom smoothness, wrapped up in business-wear, gold pendent kissing that tasteful hint of cleavage. Christ… Putting words to all of it was guilty, but so deeply thrilling.
Do you imagine them outside school? You do, don’t you?
He’d avoided it, always, but now she made him do it–admit those thoughts and articulate the questions they inspired, the fleeting kind he’d trained himself to banish. To make them real on the screen–first to himself, then to Rebecca on hitting Send.
Does Alice wiggle her way into those jeans, and what does it look like when she peels them off? What panties is she wearing underneath? Does she trim herself down there?
How about Olivia–what does she wear at night in bed? Something that skims her slender thighs? Does she reach beneath the hem to touch herself? What about when she’s in the shower–where do her hands explore when she soaps herself?
How hard does Esther party at the weekend? How many cocks has she sucked (you know she’s done it) and how far down can she go? Can she throat a guy yet without his help? Where does she take it–back seat of his car, her parents’ sofa, nightclub toilet–and how hard?
What about Alice? Does she have a boyfriend yet? If so, does she know what gets him hard?
And Olivia–back to sweet, lovely Liv–she’s dating for sure. Has she shown it all yet to the lucky fuck? Has she taken it in her smiley mouth, or deep in her sweet, tight teenage cunt? Has he shot his spunk, and if so, where? Her stomach, her tits, her ass? Her radiant A-student face?
Tell me how hard you are right now.
Fuck off, he’d type, thereby telling her.
I can’t do this. I can’t let this happen, he’d think, and Rebecca would back off for a while. Then she’d needle and cajole and provoke all over–get him riled up, before asking:
What if you had Liv naked on your bed right now, what would you do?
Stop fucking around like a pussy and just tell me.
So he told her. He shelved all professionalism and typed in crudest terms what he’d do, right then, if he had Olivia Kemp naked on his bed. How he’d make her stick her ass in the air and chew on his pillow, as he spanked her cheeks and ate her cunt and thrust his tongue deep in her virgin teen bumhole. How he’d grip her shoulder and squeeze her tender tits, while he shafted the fuck out of her from behind. How he’d gag her with his cunt-slick cock as he ploughed her sweet sixth-former’s face, her eyes staring into her teacher’s as he made her swallow his bone-hard length to right the fucking balls.
Come now. Come down the bitch’s throat.
He did. He wanked himself off like a bastard the way he’d done after Prom Night, only it was Olivia’s mouth, not Tori Beeching’s cunt, that took the force of his masturbatory fervour, and this time he had no excuse. No sense of private reward for public rectitude here–this was Jed’s frank, cum-surging admission to another human being, however anonymous, of who he wanted to be. Of who she insisted he really was. Stop trying to kid yourself, teacher-man. There’s a whole other you that needs attention.
And that’s why he felt such a lousy fucking bastard once he’d emptied all the jizz from his balls. From shirt-and-tie respectability at the class front, to this… Cum oozing its last at the laptop screen, the teacher having pounded out his filthy Olivia fantasy.
Jesus, she’s my student. A genuinely lovely girl. I have to face her tomorrow. I have to look her mum and dad straight in the eye on Parents’ Evening. Fuck!
He distanced himself from Rebecca after that, so he could cope with school-day mornings. This has to stop, was his mantra, and cutting his online temptress loose was key to its fulfilment, so he thought. I need a break from this, he told her. I’m Mr Martin, he told himself. Consummate professional and moulder of young minds, that was him, keeping his thoughts on his students’ futures and away from their newly (often impressively developed) bodies.
It might have worked had he not been teaching a certain 19th century literary text just then. Call it Trouble in printed form.
Have you read it? Stevenson’s 1886 science-fiction/horror classic The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. If not, it probably still conjures an image–lab-coated scientist necking a bubbling potion, then crumpling behind his desk clutching his throat only to resurface, markedly hairier and more gnarled than before. His alter-ego, right? Nope, wrong again, if we’re speaking in terms of the original novel. Which of course we are, we’re not barbarians. Or… are we? (Cue wicked laughter.) That’s rather the point, you see. The Mr Hyde of the title is no alternative personality to the good Dr Jekyll, but rather a key component part. Hyde exists within Jekyll.
Let’s not get bogged down in detailed plot synopsis. (You came here expecting a fuck story, not a lit lesson.) Suffice to say that Jekyll, recounting his own history in the revelatory final chapter, describes how as a young man he had two distinct passions–the pursuit of scientific knowledge to better both himself and humanity, and the indulgence of hedonistic pleasure. Here lay the problem–that since he desired both, he couldn’t commit to either; the pleasure-seeker distracted from the noble intentions of the doctor, while the moral conscience of the professional man compromised the hedonist’s sinful enjoyments. Jekyll’s solution–a serum that would free the hidden pleasure-seeker in the form of Mr Hyde, who could commit whatever moral atrocities he pleased and enjoy it conscience be damned, before transforming back into Jekyll. No harm, no foul to the good doctor’s reputation. It wasn’t me, mate, it was that evil-looking bloke who rents a room from me. Where’s he gone? Couldn’t rightly say. Now leave me be, I’ve got medical advances to make.
Relate that to Jed’s situation. No-brainer, right? He’s the committed teacher, who craves the life of a porn stud. Who’s expanding his students’ minds, not stretching their tight fuckholes. Who’s introducing them to demanding academic positions, while he’d love to put them in taxing sexual ones. What he’s wanted–a desire that Tori and Rebecca pushed him to confront in their very distinct ways–is to purge himself of his teen-oriented fucklust by actually doing it, i.e. doing them, freely and fully, before returning to the classroom, mind clear and vile passions temporarily assuaged.
A fundamental problem occurred to our friend Jed, though, as he prepped lessons on Stevenson’s troubling fantasy. Unlike Henry Jekyll, he couldn’t transform his appearance over the weekend in order to carry out a defilement of–random example–Olivia Kent, only to pop up in front of her Monday morning, professional demeanour and secret identity both intact.
Not that he was actively seeking a way to defile her, of course, not as such. His playing out the Jekyll/Hyde story with himself in the title roles was purely theoretical. Stevenson was writing a cautionary tale, for heaven’s sake, not a fucking guide-book for the covertly depraved. No–imagining himself as Jekyll helped him grapple with the novel’s intellectual concepts more fully… The Christian’s perpetual struggle with his sin-corrupted nature. The base primate from which civilised Man evolved. The dark urges of the id, fomenting unrest beneath the human ego, while the super-ego strives to check those urges and maintain the calm.
Problem was, the more he dwelt on sin and primal urges, the harder his cock swelled–until it was throbbing like a steam-powered engine circa 1886. His own Hyde-side was clamouring to be released, just like Rebecca had insisted. Just like young Tori had already proved.
Which leads us, by way of an unexpected invitation and a concurrence of events either unfortunate or serendipitous (depending on how you choose to view them), towards that hotel suite and that nakedness and those two firm teenage bottoms. You’ve been waiting to read more about the bottoms, haven’t you? Well exercise a bit of damn patience–we’re not there yet. It’ll be worth the journey, though. I’m an omniscient narrator. Trust me.
The invitation in question came months back from Clive Kettering, ex university roommate of Jed’s, who had planned marriage to a certain Lucy Babcock in his hometown of Bristol. RSVP-ing in the positive threw Jed back into the orbit of friends he hadn’t seen in over a decade. This included one Dean Randall, a scoundrel of epic proportions back in his uni days, who, it transpired, hadn’t renounced degeneracy one iota. This was proved irrefutably during March’s stag weekend, only one night of which–the Saturday–Jed could attend. Late-night conversation in a beer garden with the inebriated groom-to-be updated him regarding what he’d missed.
‘Fuck, tonight’s calm compared to las’,’ Clive slurred. ‘Should’a been here. Fucking Dean rented a private suite at the hotel where we had the meal, minted bastard, and ‘assnot all he rented, if you catch my drift.’ Jed did, and he listened way more entranced than he was letting on, at the story of the two supple young escorts in glittering tube dresses who had graced Night One of the stag festivities with: A. their presence, B. a double-striptease/toy show and C. the bestowing of various favours (some pre-paid, some settled for on the night), all of C fuelled by alcohol and Dean’s personal stash of high-quality cocaine. ‘I didn’t… I’m pretty sure I didn’t… y’ know,’ Clive insisted vaguely. ‘I love Lucy…’ – snort of laughter – ‘…way too much. Besides, I was pissed as a fart.’
Jed’s inner response to this disclosure can be broken down in Stevensonian terms as such:
Jekyll: Thank God I wasn’t there… Okay, it sounds as intriguing as it does tawdry, but escorts and/or class-A drugs could end my career in one photo-tagged moment, and besides it’s just plain wrong. Bullet dodged.
Hyde: Holy fucking FUCK! Why the hell did I have to come tonight? I could have got off my goddamn tits on coke and had some naked little hot thing suck my fucking cock and damn the expense. Screw that, embrace the expense! I work my bollocks off, I deserve to empty them down some paid-for bitch’s throat. Jesus-God and fuck!!! (See? Told you Hyde was a bad’un.)
And so to the wedding day itself–the happiest not only of Clive Lionel Kettering and his lovely bride, but of Jedediah Elijah Martin, for reasons outlined earlier, yet to be fully explored. Think of what our guy brings to the occasion along with his well-presented self, psychologically speaking. Years of being good while wondering on some level what ‘bad’ felt like; the rejected Tori opportunity; the teasing of his self-appointed shoulder-devil Rebecca; the scary fractured image staring back at him from the mirror of Stevenson’s classic text. Now take this man a day’s drive from home, shake him up and see what happens.
Easter Tuesday, glorious sunshine outside Holy Trinity Church post-ceremony. Bridal party all look stunning, none more so than Lily Babcock, bridesmaid and niece of the newly-wedded Lucy. She’s slim and sexy and shiny, but only by virtue of her dress does she outshine best friend Clara Morales, to whom she waves. (Our protagonist doesn’t know these details yet, I’m doing the omniscient thing, remember?) Jed catches her eye as well, and he returns the glance, smiling. She looks… young, Christ–early 20s? Like her friend. But he’s on holiday. He can flirt with whoever he likes, however he likes. Charm is the key and he’s got that down. Plus he’s only there for a day. Hey, it’s all just a bit of fun.
As the photo-shoot continues, he repairs to the reception venue–a luxury hotel and spa on the outskirts of Bristol–for a pint with the stag party crew. Most have plus-ones, Dean the Debauched being a predictable exception. At the bar he and Jed have a significant conversation.
‘These events are long,’ Dean comments, as they sip their drinks. ‘I always find they require a little something to liven up the dull bits.’
‘Right,’ Jed laughs. ‘You’ve come prepared then?’
‘Ohhhhh yes. Interested? Those loved-up losers won’t be indulging.’ He cocks his head comically towards the other stags and their partners. ‘Those of us unencumbered should party on their behalf. It’s only right.’
Back in the day, Jed trod warily around the self-styled Mr Indulgence, but a devilish holiday spirit is gathering momentum within him. ‘Let’s see how things go,’ he says. Even the avoidance of a straight ‘No’ causes class-A acceleration in his heart rate.
‘Say the word,’ Dean says, adding, ‘You’re not in the classroom now.’
The words have resonance for Jed that Dean could never know. They’re still echoing around the teacher’s mind when the pretty bridesmaid’s equally pretty friend (that’s Clara) brushes past, inadvertently nudging his drinking-arm.
‘Oops, sorry!’ She stops to smile a sweet apology. Her thin-strapped dress is in pale-cream contrast to her skin’s dark olive. Its bodice is fitted to showcase her boobs, but discreetly so.
‘That’s okay,’ Jed would have said a year ago.
‘You would be if you’d spilt my drink,’ is what he does say, flashing her a grin that’s warmly impudent.
‘Oh would I?’ She lights up like he’s flicked a switch in her amygdala, smirking winsomely as she departs. ‘God, I’ll need to watch out for you…’
Christ, I could have been her teacher a few years back, he thinks, permitting himself to watch her ass (the narrative flash-forward’s ‘second bottom’) as she goes.
He thinks the same about the sexy bridesmaid (that’s Lily) when introduced pre-dinner at the formal line-up. Her hair cascades in loose curls. Her jade chiffon bridal-party dress has a strapped backless thing going on (right the way down to that shapely ‘first bottom’); Jed knows little of wedding couture, but he reckons it’s from this year’s Fucking Yum line.
There’s much to occupy his mind during dinner, which he washes down with champagne, wine and another pint of ale. He doesn’t need to drive, having splashed out on a room at this hotel. (That late cancellation was one almighty stroke of luck.) Dean’s generous offer, numerous attention-grabbing girls–many of whom are single–and a novel sense of his own freedom make the meal hugely enjoyable. It provides time to absorb all that’s going on at this classy event and to contemplate his own place within it.
Aside from these guys I don’t know a soul here, and they don’t know me. Here today, gone tomorrow. Literally. I can be anyone I want.
Clive’s brother has been granted the role of Best Man. Tasked with paying a ribald tribute to the groom during the after-dinner speeches, he calls on the group of stags at Table 7 to contribute pre-planned anecdotes. Jed, as Clive’s former roommate, shares the skinny on Clive’s personal habits, e.g. snoring and garlic sweats, leaving out the groom’s predilection for classic wank-mags.
‘Not that I’ve shared a bed with him…’ he tells blushing bride Lucy across a roomful of laughter. ‘You’ve got the jump on me there. But he’s got great thighs and minimal back hair, so colour me envious.’ Clive grins ruefully while his bride hugs him, laughing. Bridesmaid Lily thinks Jed is hilarious too. So does her hot friend. Everyone loves his moment in the spotlight.
And yet they don’t really know who I am.
Anonymity feels so freeing. He’s just the funny guy who knows the groom. This serves him well once dinner is over and the guests are mingling more freely.
‘Sounds like you could have shared more,’ Lily says when he joins the happy couple and they carry out introductions. The bridesmaid’s eyes are sparkling with champagne-giddy laughter.
‘You’d need to pay me for the rest.’ Jed’s jovial tone renders the remark innocent, bride and groom sharing the general amusement.
‘I bet you do know some things,’ Lily says, when sister and new brother-in-law are out of earshot.
‘Well we all have our secrets,’ Jed smiles, enjoying the girl’s springtime loveliness and his own alcoholic buzz.
‘Oh yeah? Including you?’
‘I’ve got a few. I’d like to create some more.’
‘Ha, I bet you would.’
‘That’s the second bet you’ve made. Sounds like you’re quite the gambler.’
‘Me? No… I’m a good girl, I am.’ Our teacher gets the reference–Eliza Doolittle from Pygmalion, protesting her virtue. So this coquettish girl paid attention back in English Lit class. She’s still giggling when her darker-complexioned friend approaches to speak to her.
‘Hi!’ The new grins wide on recognising her friend’s company. ‘Does that warning still stand?’
He returns the grin. ‘Absolutely.’
The bridesmaid looks between them still smiling but puzzled, a shade piqued perhaps that they’re sharing a joke. ‘What warning?’
‘Oh, nothing to worry about, a narrowly averted accident is all.’ Jed gives a knowing smile to the dark-haired girl, inwardly impressed at his own ease in the situation. ‘So,’ he says, taking care to address them equally, ‘you two are friends?’
‘Yeah, we go to school together,’ the bridesmaid explains.
There’s an indiscernible nano-pause while this information sinks in. ‘You mean you’re still…’
‘We’ve got our A-levels next month.’
‘Oh god, don’t remind me.’ The friend pulls a mock-despairing face. ‘This’ll be our last day of freedom before Revision Nightmare.’
Freezeframe this moment. Call it Freezeframe One, chronologically speaking. Jed’s perspective transforms. Whole years fall away from these supposed twenty-somethings. Beneath their assumed wedding sophistication they’re just a couple of gauche secondary school students–eighteen years old (depending where on the calendar their birthdays land) and about to sit the same exams as Alice and Esther and Olivia. Given different circumstances he might be working at their school, they might be taking his classes. It’s at this point, historically, that the klaxon sounds in his head: ‘Warning! Warning! Student danger! Abort conversation!’ Somewhere in the background it’s producing its usual clamour, but to shockingly minimal effect.
Jed’s gut reaction is almost entirely Hydian; whatever way his synapses have been rewired over the past year, the emotion sparked by this revelation is excitement, the kind that reroutes serious amounts of blood cockward. In the split second between Girl Two’s remark and his response, he registers all of the following thoughts: I’m 150 miles from home, gone tomorrow. Outside of a single WhatsApp group no one knows me. I’m just one more guest, flying below the radar. Hell, I can do what I like here!
‘Well,’ he says to both the girls, ‘if this is your final fling, you’d better make it a party.’
‘What about you? What do you do?’ the blonde bridesmaid asks.
There’s another nano-pause, this time for calculation, before he answers with the bare truth: ‘I’m a teacher.’
Freezeframe Two. Here’s what Jed has observed regarding his profession… With fully adult working women it places marginally above tax accountant and abattoir worker on the Sexy Jobs list. The females most likely to find teachers attractive because they’re teachers are those of an age to be taught. And with both these girls it works like a charm. Their engagement-level, already significant, increases tangibly. Expressions are transformed, eyes light up, small intakes of breath occur. Whatever Jed’s appeal prior to the revelation, it has now at least doubled.
‘You’re a teacher?’ The friend speaks for them both. From Jed’s point of view (and it’s his p.o.v. this narrative is now largely following, but he’s most likely bang on the money here) her subtext is clear: God, but you’re not MY teacher. I WISH. I’d pay attention all damn day if you were taking the class… ‘Which subjects?’ she inquires innocently.
‘English Lit and Film.’
‘Oh wow.’ It’s the bridesmaid who’s wowed. ‘I take English Lit. This is so weird…’
‘Why weird? You think I’ll be quizzing you on your set texts all day? Relax, this is time-out from study. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair on your friend here…’
And so he inquires after names, ascertaining ‘Lily’ and ‘Clara’, and from there discovers Lily’s relation to the bride, and that Clara is a personal and family friend. As for him, he remarks, in another context he might be ‘Sir’–that’s how they address male teachers, right? Yes, they affirm. At this wedding function, however, he’s ‘Jed’ to all. That’s not too weird for them? No, they like it. It’s fun. Evidently these girls enjoy relating to a real live teacher in the wild. And since he’s not their teacher, and it’s a free bar, there’s no harm in his fetching them each a drink, is there? Absolutely not! Clara wants a vodka spritz, Lily a peachy keen, though the latter must keep an eye out for the potential disapproval of her parents.
At the bar Jed has time to take stock. Be still all parts of him that either beat, pulse or throb! He’s no idea what’s happening, or where it might be heading, if anywhere. That’s not the point. What matters is he’s ignored his own rules of the road. Not only has he failed to apply the brakes, he’s touched his foot, consciously let it be said, to the accelerator. And it feels great. For once in his life he has fuck all to lose. He can express his Hyde side–a little or a lot–and still unimpeachably be Jekyll next school-day. There’s zero reason not to push his luck a stage further.
Carrying the drinks carefully–including another pint for himself, one he’ll make last to retain full control–he returns to the girls. ‘I’m breaking the rules here. “Teacher supplies hot sixth-formers with hard liquor”.’ Both the hot sixth-formers in question burst into laughter as they take their drinks.
‘You are breaking the rules,’ Clara says, observing him over her glass. ‘You’re sure you’re really a teacher?’
‘Every inch,’ he responds, caring less by the moment what words he selects. The darker of the two smirks. Everything about Clara is darker–hair, eyes, complexion, humour…
‘Yeah, but we’re not talking about that,’ Lily insists with smiley pout and a flick of her professionally coiffed hair. ‘You’re not a teacher today, right?’
In a flash Jed recognises the bridesmaid’s impulsive attempt to wrest attention back to herself. There’s jealousy at work here, a fucking ego-boost and–well–useful. ‘Right,’ he assures her. ‘Totally off duty. Just here to have fun.’ He indicates her bridal party get-up. ‘And of course to celebrate the sacred bond of marriage.’
‘Of course.’ She giggles and rolls her eyes, matching his flippancy. ‘That too.’
‘Isn’t she a gorgeous bridesmaid, though?’ Clara swoops in her flimsy summer dress to squeeze Lily, making sure to accentuate her own bodily contours as she heaps praise on her friend.
‘She is,’ Jed says to Clara, ‘although I imagine she looks good in that dress or out of it. Shit. That didn’t come out right, did it?’
‘No, it didn’t!’ Clara exclaims, and the girls erupt into giggles together, mock-scandalised.
‘Fuck. Damn…!’ Jed grins and winces (would that be grinces?) at his accumulating string of not-quite faux pas. ‘Christ–don’t swear, don’t ply with alcohol, don’t make suggestive comments, don’t go saying how you both–look–stunning…’ The friends’ laughing faces take on a shared blush of pleasure at the list’s final item. ‘How many other rules can I break?’
‘I can’t imagine,’ Lily says, looking at him wistfully.
‘You’re way too fun,’ Clara says, her smile bold as she touches fingers to Jed’s arm. Lily’s broad beam falters just slightly, her eyes shooting the merest glance of annoyance her friend’s direction.
Inspiration has Jed reaching inside his jacket for his phone. ‘Photograph. I want to capture this beautiful friendship.’ The girls don’t miss a beat. They squish their upper bodies in together, Lily blowing a satirical princess kiss, Clara’s pout Salma Hayak-sultry. ‘Whoa, that was exciting,’ Jed says with a feigned shudder, checking the pic as its subjects convulse with mirth.
‘Bet you’d like to take some more,’ Clara says.
‘You are so bad.’ Lily delivers a playful slap to her friend’s arm. ‘She is so bad!’
‘I don’t think anyone here’s being entirely innocent,’ Jed says, fixing his gaze on them over his pint. Having drunk, he licks froth from his upper lip. ‘And there’s no reason why they should be. No good reason.’ Now that’s Hyde-think if ever he’s thought it.
Any response to his comment is prevented by the ritual Cutting of the Cake. As everyone applauds, Jed sets down his pint and excuses himself. ‘See you both shortly. For dancing, right?’
Both greet the prospect with enthusiasm.
Jed heads for the gents’ toilets, exchanging comments with the other stags on the way. ‘That offer still stands,’ Dean says to him, breaking momentarily from conversation with the bride’s glamorous Maid of Honour. He inflects his brow to where Jed has been chatting to Lily and Clara. ‘Strikes me you could use some additional party spirit.’
All Jed’s student-era caution has vanished. Dean now strikes him as a potentially helpful friend. ‘Maybe. Yeah. Chat in a bit…’
There’s an element of What the fuck am I doing? as he walks away, but it’s trounced by pure elation at pretty much everything. In the bathroom stall he does what would have been unthinkable even that morning. Whipping out his phone, he accesses the chat site where all the Rebecca communications have taken place. She’s the last person he should contact right now, but the urge to do so overwhelms. Going to their neglected chat thread, he attaches the photograph of the posing teens and adds a comment: Making friends with these high school seniors at a wedding far from home. Having a swell time.
I so shouldn’t send this, he thinks, as he does. There’s only trace guilt at best in the sentiment–mostly it’s a savouring of his own devious act. He waits a moment, but there’s no immediate response, so he empties his bladder, scrubs up and returns to the party.
He doesn’t immediately hunt out the girls, taking time instead to chat to his fellow-stags and their partners, and from there to exchange pleasantries–some of them flirtatious–with other members of the bridal party and their friends. The bride and groom are invited by the DJ-MC to dance the opening dance, Adele’s version of Make You Feel My Love their chosen song. Jed checks his phone covertly as the couple sway in time with the music, his heart making a thump when he sees that Rebecca has responded.
Well well, stranger – I knew that cock would get the better of all your good intentions. Swell time indeed. Whatcha gonna do, teacher man? Jerk off later to that photo, or go get yourself some actual teen-girl ass?
The latter, he types in reply, with a pulse-racing sense that the words commit him to action. But then isn’t that why he messaged Rebecca? That’s teen-girl ass, he specifies, before sending. He’s done it now–made it impossible, in sheer terms of retaining his pride, to back down.
He pockets the phone and joins in applause at the end of the newlyweds’ dance, absorbing the prick-pulsing rush of what he’s just done.
‘Quite the double-act, aren’t they?’ he remarks to the tastefully coutured woman next to him, when they catch each other’s eye. ‘I’m Jed. Friend of Clive’s.’
‘I know,’ this attractive woman (40-ish) replies, shaking Jed’s hand and speaking into his ear over the DJ’s next song. ‘I liked your little contribution earlier.’
‘Thank you! I’m sure Clive has sharpened up his bedroom act since then.’ She affects shock, like he’s quite the rogue, a role to which he’s acclimating rapidly.
‘I certainly hope so for my sister-in-law’s sake,’ she says, an ironic twist to her lips. ‘Elaine Babcock.’ She adds as an afterthought, ‘This is my daughter Lily. I seem to have temporarily misplaced her father…’ The pretty bridesmaid is indeed tucked at Elaine’s side, clearly uneasy at being rediscovered in proximity to her mother.
‘We’ve met,’ Jed says, eyeing the girl, and Lily give a mini-smirk in response. ‘Briefly.’
‘This one,’ Elaine says of her progeny, with a ‘what-can-you do’ frown, ‘thinks now she’s eighteen, she’s impervious to alcohol. Was I ever so young?’
‘I’m sure we all were,’ Jed replies. ‘Hey, it’s a party!’
‘Maybe, but I don’t want her making a show of herself; that’s my prerogative.’ Elaine slips a wink Jed’s direction, before tapping Lily’s glass, the one Jed fetched her. ‘Slow down, dear, or your dad and I will be taking this belle of the ball home early.’
Her daughter’s expression is one of pure mortification. The girl can’t even look Jed in the eye. But before the moment extends, she’s approached by an older gentleman–the father of the bride no less–who asks if she’ll dance. Lily knocks back the rest of her peach liqueur and raps the glass onto a table in defiance, before switching on her most radiant beam for her venerable dance partner. Her gaze flicks momentarily across her new favourite teacher, before the silver-haired man guides her away.
‘She’s got spirit,’ Jed remarks to the girl’s mother, thinking he’d like to discover how much.
‘It’s spirits I’m worried about,’ Elaine says, though it strikes Jed she’s not been a stranger to those herself that evening. ‘She’ll get herself into all kinds of trouble if she’s not careful.’
‘Like mother, like daughter?’
The mock-offended look she gives him confirms it, though her response packs a jokey warning. ‘You really are as cheeky as I thought. I should set my husband on you.’
‘That’s if you find him. I left a pint somewhere–actually I’d better go find that.’ He touches her bare arm lightly. ‘I’m sure young Lily will be okay. Maybe you and I can chat later if you’re still abandoned…’ There’s a wryly amused twist to the mother’s lips as he departs.
Jed hasn’t been labelled ‘cheeky’ too much in his life to date, but tonight he’s feeling it and then some. Hitting on Elaine Babcock was fun, but Jed’s got a whole other agenda to pursue, one involving the woman’s daughter, and the past few minutes have sparked a plan. Clara is chatting with an older bridesmaid and her boyfriend when he returns to reclaim his drink, but she breaks from them with an enthusiastic smile, going into full-body flirt mode.
‘Hey, you were gone forever!’
‘Yeah, and poor Lily got hijacked by her Mum in my absence.’
‘I know–she’s got to go play the good little bridesmaid.’
‘Dancing with older relatives for the rest of the evening?’
‘Mmhmm. Sucks to be her, right?’ Clara giggles and eyes him, as she finishes her drink.
‘Not the attitude from her bff,’ Jed reproves, quaffing from his own glass and setting it aside. ‘It’s up to you and me to rescue her.’
Clara may have been anticipating some one-on-one time with Jed, but his conspiratorial tone has her intrigued. ‘Oh really? And how are we going to do that?’
And to what purpose? she might well add.
The answer forming in Jed’s mind to that question, could she but see it, would leave young Clara truly gobsmacked.
TO BE CONTINUED