It was a warm dry afternoon as the bright-green CitroŽn drew to a halt not far from the village of Merstham, in Surrey, and the driver got out and pointed in the general direction of the hill which she and her two female companions, Carmel Daly and Sharon Taylor, were intending to climb.† Within a few seconds the remaining occupants of the modest little car had joined her and were smiling at each other over a large hamper of provisions, which they agreed to carry between them.† When the owner of the CitroŽn had locked both its doors and windows, the three of them set off in the general direction of their destination, where they intended to have a salad picnic.
†††† "What a relief to be able to stretch one's legs again!" exclaimed Jennifer Crowe while glancing back at her companions, who were struggling along with the copiously packed hamper a few yards behind her.† "It was only an hour's drive, but it seemed like an eternity."
†††† At twenty-eight, she was not only the oldest of the group, but
the only one who had been to this part of
†††† "Not far now," Jennifer announced with a reassuring
glance back at her companions, who seemed to be rather labouring under their
burden.† "Here, let me take a hand
in carrying that!" she offered, moving towards the hamper.† But her generosity was emphatically rejected
†††† "When did you last come here?" asked
†††† "About two years ago," replied Jennifer, with a thoughtful look on her face.† "My boyfriend drove me here then, though the weather was nowhere near as fine as today.† We thought it was going to rain, so we returned to the van - he had an old Ford thing at the time - and, well, you can guess what happened next!"
†††† A spontaneous response of knowing laughter erupted from her two companions, who also nodded approvingly.
†††† "But we'd have preferred to have enjoyed ourselves on the crest of this hill," Jennifer went on, "because it isn't every day that the return to nature can be so complete, if you see what I mean."
†††† Again there were nods of approval from both
†††† "He must have been quite upset by the sudden change of
†††† "Well, you know what men are like," sighed Jennifer with a knowing look on her face.† "They don't care where they get it really, provided that they do eventually get it somewhere.† It was my idea to lure him here, my dream to be humped in full view of nature's gaze, to have such a beautiful and romantic setting.† And so I was more disappointed than him when the sky became overcast and it looked as though we'd end-up doing it in the rain.† It was his idea to return to the van, not mine."
†††† The trio fell silent as, arriving at their destination, they looked about them for a suitable spot to decamp.† There were a few trees and bushes in the immediate vicinity, which gave a degree of privacy to the area and would have provided some protection, depending where one sat, from inquisitive eyes, had there been any such eyes to spy on people who were intent upon harmlessly enjoying themselves.† Fortunately, however, no-one else was around at present, and it was principally this aspect of things which brought a sigh of relief from Jennifer's ample lips.
†††† "How nice to have the place entirely to ourselves!"
†††† "Yes, it's just as well we chose a weekday," remarked Jennifer while taking a large plastic groundsheet from the wicker hamper and spreading it on the grass.† "I doubt very much that it would be this quiet at the weekend.† Let's keep our fingers crossed that we don't get any unwanted visitors."
†††† "A remark, I presume, which excludes everyone but handsome
young men," opined
†††† "Yes, I suppose you're right," said Jennifer, "though, under the circumstances of this rare treat to country life, I think we could even do without them, don't you?"
†††† Her companions smiled approvingly at what sounded like a rhetorical question and duly busied themselves with the preparation of their salads.† They had brought a decent-sized lettuce, an uncut loaf of brown bread, a cucumber, half-a-dozen tomatoes, a half-pound of cheese, a dozen or so small boiled potatoes, a beetroot, a few hard-boiled eggs, and some coleslaw.† They shared out the responsibility for preparing their food in a thoroughly democratic manner, and were soon tucking-in to it.† For liquid refreshment they had a large flask of orange juice, which all agreed to be the most suitable drink for the occasion.
†††† "Look!" exclaimed
†††† "No more than fifteen-year-olds, by the look of it," said Jennifer, who was particularly good at distinguishing people from a distance.† "I don't think they'd relish our company somehow."
†††† "It looks as though they're heading towards that cluster of
†††† "Just as well," murmured
†††† "Two young guys heading for the protection of those
trees?† It makes you smile rather,
doesn't it?" Jennifer commented, offering
†††† "They might be going beyond them, seeing as there are so
many trees and bushes over there,"
†††† "Oh well, what does it matter to us?" sighed Jennifer as she poured herself a beaker of orange juice.† "Let's forget about them."
†††† After the main course, the girls each ate an apple and a couple of digestive biscuits, and when all the used knives, forks, beakers, and plates had been packed away in the hamper again, they decided it was high time for some sunbathing, the real raison d'Ítre of their excursion.
†††† As usual, Jennifer led the way by taking off her denims and
white cotton vest, followed, in quick succession, by
†††† "Let's hope it continues to shine like this!" enthused Jennifer as the glare from above forced her to turn her head to one side and speak with her eyes closed.† "We could certainly do with a little colour on our bodies."
†††† "Especially after last winter," sighed Sharon, who was
lying in-between the others with her back to the sun.† "It's a wonder we aren't all blue
now."† The vehement buzzing of a
large bee suddenly interrupted her for a few seconds, but the busy insect
didn't pay any of them much attention and the sound of its buzzing soon faded
back into the distance from whence it had so unexpectedly come.† "Are there any intruders in sight?"
†††† "What kind of intruders?"
†††† "Human ones.† Men in particular."
†††† There was a short pause while
†††† "Good," sighed Sharon, who immediately began to unclip her bikini top and pull her bikini bottoms down as far as she could without giving everything about herself away.
†††† "Would you like some more lotion?" asked
†††† "Thanks," she murmured, once the massage was completed.† "Let me know when you need any assistance."
†††† "You'll need medical assistance if you get stung or bitten on the backside!" warned Jennifer, who was laying on her back with the minimum of social respectability still covering her most private parts.† "I've got an ant crawling over my left tit at this very moment."
†††† "Oh, don't!" protested
†††† "A hungry ant which finds its way into the valley between your mounds of bum will spoil it even more," Jennifer remarked, to the audible amusement of Carmel, who was still dressed in a more orthodox fashion - top and bottoms of her green bikini clipped securely in place.
†††† "She'll have to learn modesty the hard way,"
†††† Silence mercifully descended on them for a couple of minutes, before Sharon ventured to inquire of Jennifer whether, in returning to the subject of her boyfriend, she had ever had sex in the open.
†††† "Quite a few times actually," she admitted.† "Provided the weather's not too extreme, it can be a most refreshing experience!† In fact, it was about this time last year that David and I last had it off in the open.† We were on holiday for a few days near Burford, in Oxfordshire, where a friend of his happens to live, and, on one of those gorgeous days, we got together on the edge of a cornfield and followed the course of nature for an hour.† An hour tends to suffice him, as a rule, though I've known him to spend three hours playing around with various bits and pieces of my anatomy."
†††† "What, in the country?" gasped
†††† "No, unfortunately not!† I think the open makes him feel insecure, afraid, perhaps, that some copper will suddenly turn up and say: ''Ere, 'ere, 'ere, what's all this, then?' or something of the sort, before carting us away for indecent exposure.† That would be terribly humiliating."
†††† "You're not kidding!"
†††† "Still, it hasn't happened yet, so, providing David keeps
his head and doesn't become too careless where he chooses to take or have me,
as the case may be, it shouldn't ever happen."† Jennifer readjusted her sunbathing position
†††† "No, it was becoming a shade uncomfortable in any case,
lying on my stomach for so long,"
†††† "Any intruders in view?" asked Jennifer in imitation
†††† "No human ones that I can see.† What about you,
†††† "Only a scarecrow in that field over there.† It seems too good to be true, that we should
still have this hill to ourselves."†
Having said which,
†††† "Sounds like she wants to do a striptease act, too,"
declared Jennifer as she heard
†††† "So it would appear," laughed Sharon before turning from the bare back of the one to the equally bare back of the other, which she then proceeded to massage in a similarly steady but comprehensive manner.† "I've never seen so much of your respective bodies before," she commented, with a faint tone of sexual arousal in her voice.
†††† "Then make the most of it while the opportunity still prevails," Jennifer joked.† "For you won't see us like this very often, you know."
†††† Carmel had tied up her long black hair to prevent it from being blown across her back by the stiff breeze which occasionally raked the hill, to the detriment of a uniform tan.† Of the three women, she was the only one with straight hair, the only one who could tie it up with any degree of success.† The others had wavy hair of a fairly coarse texture which, because of its considerable length, was more difficult to manage and therefore could not be disposed of in quite the same fashion.† For her part, Jennifer had contented herself with resting her head on as much of her long black wavy hair as could be gathered up into a sort of pillow, while Sharon had divided her own hair, with the aid of strong elastic bands, into two thick strands, which were now tickling Carmel's back as she bent over it to administer the suntan lotion.
†††† "Phew! Is it hot!" exclaimed
†††† "That's precisely why we can't afford to waste any time
†††† Lying on her back with an arm across her brow,
†††† 'I almost envy Jenny her relationship with David,' she mused, as she lay perfectly still between her fellow-sunbathers.† 'How beautiful it would be, to be humped on this hill on such a fine day, with the birds and insects to witness one's delight.† I dare say she gets what she wants whenever and wherever she fucking-well wants it - unlike me!† And yet I'm better-looking than she is.† I'm better-looking than both of them are actually, though I doubt whether they'd admit it, the lying bitches!† But, at twenty-four, I deserve more luck with men than I've had this year!'† She sighed in instinctive dismay.
†††† "Finding the heat too much for you?" asked Jennifer, incorrectly interpreting it.
†††† "No, I was just thinking actually,"
†††† "Sorry to disturb you," murmured Jennifer with a wry smile on her lips.† "You shouldn't torture yourself with thoughts on such a fine day, you know!"
†††† "No, I guess not."†
The silence once more mercifully interposed itself, before
†††† "You'd better avoid the bush I peed behind shortly after we
got here," said
†††† "Psst!" hissed Jennifer, raising herself on one elbow.† "Let's play a practical joke on her."
†††† "What, like hiding her miniskirt behind a bush?"
†††† Jennifer shook her head.† "No, let's pretend we're having sex, so that she'll find it difficult to believe her eyes when she returns."
†††† "You leave that to me!" snapped Jennifer and, before
her companion could utter another word, she had moved closer to the other girl
and thereupon applied her mouth to one of Carmel's nipples.†
†††† "Let's hope this looks convincing," Jennifer
†††† "Good god! what are you doing?" she exclaimed, arriving back
to her towel, only to find their bodies entwined in a semblance of passionate
sex.† "Don't tell me you're
..." But the rest of her remark was prevented from emerging into vocal
clarity by the impulsive amusement which overcame Jennifer at the pathetic
†††† "Don't worry, love," she said, while disengaging
†††† "Some joke!" protested
†††† "In that case, we'll go for your tits," declared Carmel, who stretched out a hand and grabbed Sharon's nearest breast with a force which almost dislodged her bikini top.
†††† "Oh, no you won't!" she cried, while making to defend herself by wrenching the other girl's fingers away and covering her breasts with her hands.
†††† "That's only because she wants to hold them herself," chuckled Jennifer over her shoulder.
†††† "Yes, what a provocative picture she'd make for someone with a camera!" averred Carmel with a sardonic grin on her face.† "She's behaving quite erotically."
†††† Sharon dropped her guard, smiled guardedly, and lay down on her stomach.† The joke went off as quickly as it had come on, and they were all rather bored with it and privately ashamed of themselves for behaving like adolescents.
†††† 'It's true what they say about women behaving stupidly when they're not in men's company,' Sharon mused, once the context of sunbathing had enveloped them all again.† 'And men act just as stupidly when left alone with one another.† Some kind of relief from the usual sexual tensions, I shouldn't wonder!† Still, you can't altogether blame them.† There are times when you positively need the company of your own gender.† Times when you're only too relieved to get away from the opposite sex.'
†††† She shut her eyes and listened to the brazen sound of crickets in some nearby grass, which had the effect of making her conscious, once more, of the sun on her back and of the steady breathing of her friends, who had returned to their private lives again and were now soaking-up the sun's rays and perhaps - who knows? - fantasizing about men.† And, just as consciously, she found herself wondering what Jenny's boyfriend would be like in bed, and whether Carmel's boyfriend, Martin, whom she had met only once, would have taken a fancy to her, had he met her first.† Somehow she preferred not to think about her own relationships with men over the past few years because, with the possible exception of a brief fling with a young actor she felt genuinely fond of, they had all been somewhat disappointing.
†††† Indeed, of the seven or eight men who'd had the audacity to barge into her life during that time, the last of them, whom she was obliged to break-up with after a mere three days, had been the most abominable.† In fact, he hardly knew how to make love at all, so preoccupied had he been with avoiding premature ejaculation!† But ever since she got rid of him on the pretext of having to work in a theatre up north, she hadn't managed to find herself a successor, not even an incompetent one.† And that was over four months ago!† Really, she was beginning to feel sorry for herself, being left on the shelf for so long, particularly as she was so good-looking and still relatively young.† Apart from one dreadful year, when she was nineteen and had spent six months without sex in consequence of a serious illness, this last year had been the worst of her adult life!† She feared that if things didn't improve soon she would have little option but to give-up acting and become a visiting masseuse, or maybe even something worse.
†††† No, perhaps that was going a bit too far!† All the same, she might have to make herself more amenable to people whom she wouldn't ordinarily have considered worthy of herself.... Like, for instance, some of the older men at the theatre, whose advances she would ideally have preferred to snub.† But as for Jennifer and Carmel, what could they do to help her?† True, their practical joke had been a little lacking in taste.† But, even so, it engendered connotations upon which she didn't care to dwell.† There was something ironic about it, something which suggested the possibility of her succumbing to lesbian activities under pressure of prolonged celibacy.
†††† For a moment, she had a vision of Jennifer's vagina above her nose and of her tongue methodically working its way backwards and forwards between its goose-pimpled labia.† She didn't know what Jenny's vagina exactly looked like, but the impression she now formed of it in her imagination was so vivid ... that she felt a sort of revulsion in her stomach and was obliged to turn her head in the opposite direction, so that the others wouldn't notice anything amiss.† Although Sharon had never indulged in lesbian activities with anyone before, she felt somewhat insecure, stuck in-between the predominantly naked bodies beside her, both of which belonged to highly attractive women.† It was as though she feared the power of the imagination would carry her away with herself, resulting in her crawling over one of these bodies and doing things to it which she would never have considered herself capable of at other times, times when she was well-sexed and therefore not vulnerable to the temptations of lesbianism in such a blatant manner.† She looked at Carmel, the prettier of the two, but her face gave nothing away.† It was a mask of sensuous impassivity, of complacent repose.† No doubt, her boyfriend would be eagerly awaiting her return to London that evening!† And he would take special note of her tan, congratulating her on it and then inquiring, as he removed her clothes, why she hadn't taken her bikini bottoms off as well, so that she could have gone uniformly brown all over?† As it happened, both halves of her bikini were still in an orthodox position, perhaps in testimony to her lack of confidence in ants.
†††† "What time is it?" asked Jennifer, breaking the long silence which had fallen between them.
†††† Sharon glanced at her tiny wristwatch and informed her that it was already 4.30pm.† "I guess we'll have to be making a move soon," she added.
†††† "Yes, I expect so," Jennifer sighed.† "It may not be as easy driving back to London as it was driving out of it this morning.† Still, we don't have to work this evening, so there's no real hurry."
†††† This allusion to the Hampstead theatre where they all worked as actresses caused Carmel to titter to herself, and, on being asked by Sharon what was so funny, she repeated a few of her lines from 'Daybreak Tears', their current theatrical venture, in which she had to confess to being madly in love with a man who, in private life, she wholeheartedly loathed.† "'But I shall never leave you, come what may.† For I am too madly in love with you to allow anything like this to come between us ...'† And I have my arms round his neck - imagine it! Round the neck of a man I'd sooner strangle."
†††† "Well, at least it gives you an excellent opportunity to assess your progress as an actress," opined Jennifer stoically.† "It's to your professional credit that you manage to conceal all but the faintest traces of disgust whilst in his arms.† One would think that you actually liked him."
†††† "That's not good enough, since I'm really supposed to convey the impression that I'm madly in love with him!" Carmel retorted.
†††† Jennifer smiled sympathetically.† "Very few people would spot the difference, so you needn't worry yourself too much about that!† The fact remains that you still manage to pull off the act pretty well.... Frankly, you ought to be grateful to the man for testing your professionalism to the limit of its objective endurance."† She paused a moment to reflect on her own position, then continued: "But I have a role which, in many respects, is the reverse of yours.† I have to shout at a man who, in private, I'm really quite fond of.† You remember Act Two, Scene Three, when Gerald has drunk a little more wine than is good for him and subsequently makes a drunkard's attempt to seduce me in front of my husband?"† She waited for Carmel's acknowledgement of this esoteric information which, when it finally came, took the form of a vaguely amused nod.† "Well, let me tell you that I have considerable difficulty living up to the hatred required by the lines: 'Why, you raving lunatic, what do you think you're playing at, fumbling under my skirt!† Keep those sweaty hands to yourself, you lecherous half-wit!"
†††† A titter of laughter escaped, with this remark, from Carmel's ample lips, for she remembered the look on Gerald's face when Jennifer had first fired those lines at him point-blank, so to speak, and the embarrassment which overcame him when his reactions were censored by the producer for being too subjective and thus insufficiently impersonal.† Had he actually been drunk, the poor fellow, he might have found it less difficult to live up or, rather, down to the part.† But his acute sensitivity regularly got the better of him in those early days of rehearsal and became something of a standing joke among the cast, who were of the express opinion that he needed toughening.† Only Jennifer, to Carmel's recollection, refused to treat his discomfiture with levity.† But then that was because she was mainly responsible for it in the first place!
†††† "It would make the lines easier to play if I had actually been drinking before reciting them," the latter confessed while toying with her hair.† "He's such a nice guy really.† But on stage one's acting comes first, so I endeavour to overcome my personal misgivings and simply bellow them at him."
†††† "And he endeavours not to take them too seriously," Carmel deduced.† "Still, your acting does give one the impression that you actually loathe the guy."
†††† "Thank goodness for that!" exclaimed Jennifer.† "Anyway, my conscience compels me to compensate him off-stage for all the abuses to him on it by being as sweet as possible.† If it wasn't for the fact that he's already happily married, he'd probably have been in my bed some time ago."
†††† "Instead of which, he's only recently been in it,Ē chuckled Carmel, only to receive a wry smile from her colleague.
†††† "Are his hands really sweaty?" asked Sharon as she turned her head back in Jennifer's direction.
†††† "No, very dry actually.† And he's neither a 'raving lunatic' nor a 'lecherous half-wit', as you well know."
†††† "The vicissitudes of the acting profession," Sharon concluded.† "Oh well, one could do worse.† I'd rather be the actor or actress than the playwright any day."
†††† "Try telling him that!" said Carmel.
†††† The sun was less intense now as evening approached and, following Jennifer's suggestion that they all get dressed again, the three young actresses reached out for and began to inspect their respective items of clothing, Carmel being especially careful to be on guard for the possibility of ants hiding in her cords, which were black and therefore an ideal nesting place for them, whether or not they might subsequently take to biting her backside.† Not surprisingly, she was the last dressed, having also, along with Jennifer, relieved herself behind a nearby bush.
†††† When the women had gathered up their towels and packed them away in the large wicker hamper, they gave their surroundings a farewell glance and, with a tinge of regret on their suntanned faces, set off down the hill in the general direction of Jennifer's car.† The task of carrying the hamper, now much the lighter for the absence of provisions, was accepted by Jennifer and Carmel, who decided to lag a few yards behind Sharon on the down-hill route.† However, when they had got to within a hundred or so yards of the car they noticed two young males sitting on the fence by the side of the footpath.† As the three women drew nearer, the youths began to grin at them and whisper to each other.† Finally, as though the close proximity of the women were a cue for action, they unleashed a barrage of verbal abuse to the effect of: "Fucking Lesbians!† Bloody Lesbians!† Lesbian cunts!" and other such sharp phrases which had the effect of making the two hamper-carriers lower their eyes in rapid shame and blush violently.† A few sticks hurtled after the women once they had passed their tormentors, one quite large stick hitting Jennifer squarely on the back.
†††† "The little brats!" she yelled and, letting go of the hamper, she turned on her heels to confront them.† But they were already off the fence and scampering up the hill from whence the threesome had come.
†††† "Are you alright, Jenny?" asked Carmel as her companion bent down to pick up the opposite side of the hamper again.
†††† "Yes, I guess so," she sighed.† "Though I suppose I shall have a bruise across my back for the next few days."
†††† "They were evidently the two young men we saw crossing the field in the direction of that clump of trees a few hours ago," Carmel deduced.† "They probably spent most of the afternoon spying on us with the aid of those binoculars the taller one had draped around his scraggly neck.
†††† "The frigging little brats!" reiterated Jennifer while rubbing the lower part of her back with her free hand.† But, as she reached her car, she couldn't help noticing what looked like a 'tough-luck!' smile on Sharon's rosy face.