Weighed down with concerns, financial and otherwise, that to anyone dying of a horrible disease would no doubt seem trivial, I was surprised and, in a way, relieved to hear from my old friend Marmaduke Fortescue one evening.
“Stephen, you must come and meet my new bride … yes, that’s right, I’m married!”
Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather, I’d never have put old ‘Marmers’ down as the marrying type. Not that I’d thought of him as queer, you understand, just that he was always off in some foreign country ‘adventuring,’ and the thought of him settling down had never seemed on the radar.
“I’ll tell you no more right now,” he said, “but are you free tomorrow evening? … You are, wonderful, come round at seven, you’re in for a surprise!”
So, the following evening I’d driven down to Marmaduke’s place out in the country, Fortescue Manor, where I was shown through to the salon by old Juggins, the butler. Marmaduke jumped up to shake my hand and I was surprised by his youthful appearance. He’d lost at least two stone since I’d last seen him, what, maybe a year earlier? And his grey hair was now a glossy black.
“Stephen, wonderful to see you, take a seat. What would you like to drink?”
Juggins brought me a bottle of lager whilst Marmaduke began to tell me about his new wife. “Now, I must warn you, Stephen, Asmarina is a little ‘unusual,’ but she’s young, strong and healthy, and broody too!”
“What, you don’t mean ….”
“Yes, I’ve never mentioned it, perhaps, but a few little kiddies running around this old pile would liven it up a bit, don’t you think?”
Just then, there came a distant thud, like a depth charge exploding, then a few seconds later, another, and then yet another. Marmaduke smiled. “I’m afraid Asmarina has some habits of her tribe, like doing her poo standing up.”
There now came a distant sound, reminiscent of a machine gun.
Marmaduke laughed, “Ah, my dear wife has a touch of diarrhoea, I’m afraid. It’s adjusting to English food. I’m sure it’ll pass.”
I felt myself reddening. “Where is this lady from, then?”
“Ah, she’s from the Dahlak archipelago.”
“Where the hell is that?”
This felt like a game of twenty questions. “Where the hell is that?”
“It’s at the bottom of the red sea, on the left, next to Djibouti.”
“Ah, of course, good old Sheik Djibouti!”
Just then the door opened and Asmarina came in. Her face was brown with a flat nose and big round eyes. Her hair was black and frizzy in the style of the old ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ cartoons we had in comics when I was a kid. She wore grey socks, a dark blue skirt and a white top, like a girl’s gym outfit. She wore no bra and her shirt was filled with what looked like two cherry-topped blancmanges.
“Hello, Mr. Stephen, I am enthralled to meet you.”
“Er, likewise.” I shook her sweaty hand, fervently hoping that her tribe had at least learned to wash their hands after ‘poos.’
“Look, Mr. Stephen, I show you good trick.”
Before I could stop her, Asmarina had taken out a box of matches and lay down on the carpet. Then she lifted her skirt, which left nothing to the imagination. Through thin, violet briefs peeked a thick wodge of course black pubic hair, reminiscent of a Brillo pad. She lit a match and lifted her sizeable bottom up with brown muscle-bound thighs.
Marmaduke gave a knowing smile and wink. “Look out, Stephen!”
In a scene worthy of Aristophanes, Asmarina held the burning match close to her bottom and let out an enormous fart, producing a shooting flame that just missed my face.
There was the smell of burning nylon as Asmarina jumped up, laughing, to the applause of Marmaduke.
It looked like I was in for an interesting evening!
Taken from the book, Letters from Reuben and Other Stories: 40 Little Tales of Mirth, 146 pp. Dec 2021
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