The Characters and events in this short story are completely fictitious, explicit content warning.
The day started well enough. Up bright and early, a clear sky. Calm, so unusual in Crosby, still and settled. He decided to make his way to the beach; he is the ‘Head of PE’. Married to a lady who was pretty but not strikingly so, they are really quite well off for a couple in their mid-thirties, to some degree a disposable income. He had risen in the school where he teaches to the level of ‘Head of PE’ by the time he was thirty. They met on a student teaching placement, inevitably his wife didn’t go into teaching, she had been too afraid of ‘The kids’. She had gone on to work for the Police instead, her Father the Chief Superintendent had ensured she was given a good position and assigned to suitable roles. In this respect she was also on a relatively good full-time wage with annual increases so with the help of the in-laws, her being their only child, they were able to acquire a mortgage for a property not far from the esplanade. A life long partnership that blossomed as under-grads leading to stability and a regularly paid mortgage, a strengthened relationship and good financial planning.
They had stayed in Crosby as she hadn’t wanted to move far from her Father, he was very devoted to her and she felt safer living near to him. One of Liverpool’s more affluence and simply more civilized suburbs. Besides that, it was a good place for the ‘Head of PE’ to live. They enjoyed the lifestyle of a young couple, eating out regularly in the many restaurants of South Road. The Picture House was one of their favourite destinations, although neither of them had any real desire to support the Charity Trust to keep the historic one-screen in operation, it was just very accessible, easy viewing films their most favoured choice. She did the weekly shop in Sainsbury’s, although she seldom required any of the ‘Difficult to find’ ingredients the store offers for more complex recipes she had followed in her Mothers footsteps, she always said it was better. He would often pop down to the Tesco’s Express to pick up something if she had forgotten anything, always keen to play the husband role in that respect. An extra spring in his step while manoeuvring the aisles to collect a pint of milk or essential box of PG tips.
She had failed to keep up any real textiles work from when she had been teaching the subject but often made a few bits for around the House while he occupied himself with bike rides and long runs. As ‘Head of the PE’ he seldom had any marking to do in the evenings, due to her fragile nature and lack of capability the Police seldom required her to put in any extra hours, their weekends were often free to do as they pleased. Most Sundays they would meet up with her parents for Lunch, often in Crosby or they would drive out to Formby for a carvery. The four of them would sit together and discuss their week’s activities, the perfect couple making polite conversation with the generation previous.
His Mother frequently invited the couple over for Sunday Lunch, his wife did not really like going to Everton, too many rough types hanging about and there had been a shooting not far from where he lived. She had seen someone who looked like they were on heroin once and another time there had been a homeless person drinking cider in the bus shelter in their street. His Mother had explained that he was harmless and seemed a little bit down on his luck. It emerged at a later point that he had been a Minister who had lost his way. He didn’t really mind this, as he understood that his wife frightened easily and it was his job to protect her from everything she feared. His Father-in-Law didn’t like her going to Everton either, he had not risen to the rank of Chief Superintendent so his daughter could ‘Slum it’ in the depravity of the inner city areas of North Liverpool. He wasn’t that interested in going back himself after he had finished Uni, although he had still lived at home through his student years, he had begun to lose touch with all the friends he had grown up. His current assessment of his friendless situation, he assigned this to them being jealous of him being ‘Head of PE’.
Further to that, as newly Weds, they had been over to Everton for Sunday Lunch and one of his little Sisters friends had been staying over on Saturday Night, his Mother had encouraged her to stay on for the main meal. His little sister had originally wanted to invite her friend to their Wedding but they had decided to get married in Italy so she couldn’t afford the expense of the holiday. His Mother and his little sister could only afford to come for four days, it had been better for him to go in the Summer Holidays so all the flights and accommodation were charging the maximum price. His Mother would have been able to stay for a full week if she had not have had to pay for his little sister, he thought she should have been able to save up and pay out of the money she earned from her Saturday job at the Co-op, after all, she was fifteen now. The happy couple were originally intending to ask her to be a Bridesmaid but she was nearly fully grown and his wife had been worried that she would be taller than her for the big day, so they decided against the matter.
After they had finished their Lunch on that particular Sunday his Mother began clearing the table, the friend had offered to help, she declined the offer but seemed particularly grateful. She then decided to help with a few plates anyway and she asked if she could take some left overs out to the guy that stayed in the Bus Shelter. His mother had told her not to worry she’ll pass out a plate and a cup of tea to him later on when ‘They’ had gone. By ‘They’ she had meant the Happy Couple. When his wife had begun to make conversation, one of her favourite subjects: Carebears the friend began to question her over her thoughts in regards to the role toys play in forming gender roles later in life. She went onto to study something around social politics at Uni, then she had gotten a Scholarship to Harvard Post Grad level, but then what is there to do with social-politic qualifications, certainly nothing as impressive as the ‘Head of PE’. When his wife didn’t know how to answer the question the two girls when to play music in the back room. Later in the afternoon in going up to the bathroom he over heard their conversation:
‘Don’t you think your brother’s wife is a bit, you know, young for her age, babyish.’ the friend questioned politely, ‘How old actually is she?’
‘I know exactly what you mean, she’s actually twenty-five.’
His Sister responded genuine and unaware that he could hear their conversation. Then, further to this, when he returned to the front room his Mother was discussing with his Wife how glad she was that they had become friends and how his little sister’s grades had risen dramatically over the last year. She then began to question if her Mother had ever encouraged her to select toys that you could do more with like plait hair and more imaginative games than you could with Carebears? His Wife didn’t know how to answer the question so she said she didn’t know, after that to keep everyone happy he tried to get her to visit them in Crosby instead, although she could drive she couldn’t afford to run a car, it was only really two busses.
As the ‘Head of PE’, he strides with a bounce as he goes through Another Place. A well-fitted track suit, a straight lined mouth, body and face almost squashed from both sides inwards, a little too long and plank-like. The mind of a bore, an asexual being, living with his wife in Crosby. Her career had never accelerated at the same rate as the ‘Head of P.E’s’, she had been given a few minor promotions as it would have looked silly if she had not been. Although she had never had to take any gaps for maternity leave many of the other women who had been off to have children, had been promoted at a much quicker pace than herself. Her Dad’s history of ensuring she was the easy jobs because of what he would insist to be her vulnerability had the inevitable impact of her being even less capable than she would have been so promotion opportunities were limited. ‘The Head of PE’ didn’t mind this, in fact, he enjoyed it: him breadwinner, her dependent.
He began to think about this girl Sal, she had annoyed him terribly, who was she to say anything and him or his wife. She had been on the same teacher training placement as them both for a short period. Unlike his future wife she had been strong and in control with the classes, although his wife was clearly so much more attractive she seemed to be the one everyone was more interested in and all the Senior Staff seemed to want to speak to her more than himself. His to become wife had always enjoyed doing endearing things like pretending to be a key stage two pupil, making lots of ‘OW’ noises and offering out love hearts. She would start pretending to drop things and go ‘Whoopsie’ and pick them up while brushing her arms against his legs. When Sal had seen this she had laughed at her, not loudly, but to smirk at her endearing nature. On the train on the way back from their student placement his now wife had been leaning into his shoulders and starting little girl subjects of conversations which were generally around the subject of being ‘Mean’ and ‘Being picked on’. On this particular day, she had returned to one of her favourite subjects about how ‘Carebears’ were better than ‘My Little Pony’. Instead of just going along with the baby-babble talk Sal had thought it was appropriate to have some kind of serious conversation. Sal had said that she preferred My Little Pony’s because there were more ways to play with them and she had liked braiding their hair, she had a favourite one with a rainbow on its bum which she had often featured in drawings. When his, to become wife, had said she favoured Care Bears because you could cuddle them, Sal had responded in that she found Care Bears a little hard and she had a teddy called ‘Big Red’ which was softer and had silky fur which she used to like snuggling in bed. Unbelievable, this girl Sal had felt it was appropriate to have an intelligent conversation when she was just supposed to be listening to the childish babblings.
His then to become wife had actually been overwhelmed by Sal, she was taller than her and even when she had tried higher heels she still felt like the short one. Sal was full of confidence and not scared of ‘The Kids’ like herself, she could handle a class of teenagers. When they had been asked to create separate displays, Sal’ had looked so much more professional than the one she had created. The same kept happening with teaching aids, Sal would turn up with a perfectly made example with ideas about how it could be improved upon while hers often couldn’t be used because they didn’t work properly. She was only really a few years Older than her but she seemed so much more mature in her discussions and the way she reacted to things. One of the Senior Staff who would normally have devoted much of his attention to ensuring if she was okay was actually more interested in speaking to Sal. There had been something going on at home with one of the pupils, possibly abuse, Sal was trying to get to the bottom of the matter. This had seemed to take precedence over her happiness at the school. It wasn’t just him, everyone else seemed more interested in speaking to Sal, although she wasn’t really any prettier than her it had only seemed to be her to become husband who had seemed interested in her at all when the other girl was present. This is what first attracted him to her on that day on the train, the reason why she had been making additional ‘Ow’ noises. Then, towards the end of the placement, finally she had found a reason why she could claim to be superior to Sal, she had copied her coat, yes, her one claim to superiority. She had been employed by the Police on a writing reports capacity since her teenage years. During her training the only part of which she had given her full attention to was about clothes and makeup, in this, they said that a person copying clothing showed a person to be a leader, someone that others aspired to be like. So Sal copying her coat reflected her status as some kind of style icon who others aspired to replicate, ultimately something she could claim superiority over when filing a Police report.
This Sal hadn’t gone into teaching either, she had started a silly, no future route as an artist. After all being an artist wasn’t a real job and he was ‘Head of PE’. His wife did a bit of knitting and the odd watercolour, that’s all art is supposed to be: a little hobby to keep women busy. He looked around him at the Iron Men: Anthony Gormley’s Installation which had cost almost two hundred thousand pounds. And who cares about all the Superlambanana commissions, this Sal, seemed to keep getting, or the exhibition this ‘Sal’ had just Curated, or the publications she was was writing for, after all, he is ‘Head of PE’.
The Police had sent a few different Officers to ask Sal some questions, she had suggested that he was a bore and that his wife was weak, feeble and not as attractive as she was supposed to have been. The Officer had tried to wind Sal up over how beautiful his wife was, Sal had taken the gist but suggested that his wife was, in fact, more of a ‘Nonce Magnet’ than a ‘Dick Magnet’ in regards to her endearing mannerism in pretending to be a child. The Officer had then asked his wife to come to the bar where Sal had been drinking wearing the coat in question. Sal was unsure of who she was and had forgotten her name. He had then been asked if her coat had been similar to the one his wife had been wearing. She had explained that they were totally different, the coat in question was a hip length faux fur, Sal’ had been a three quarter length tweed with a simple cream fur trim around the collar. He then began to question why Sal had not gone to the final staff night out for the placement, her explanation had been that when his wife had invited her it was like a ten years old child making sure to remember to invite one of her Mums friends to her Birthday party on her parent’s instruction. She had then referred to himself as that ‘Plank’ and decided she couldn’t be bothered spending the evening trying to make conversations with himself and decided to decline the night out.
To make matters worst the ‘Nonce Magnet’ comment Sal had made had seemed to resonate with internal Investigations at the Police Force. Some of the cases his wife had been assigned to were looked at again. There was a more prominent example where his wife had been sent to try and seduce a Man who they suspected to be behind the sexual abuse of a pre-pubescent girl. When she had worked through her routine of making ‘Whoopsie’ noises, rubbing his arms and making baby-babble talk he had seemed really interested in her attentions. It was then concluded that he couldn’t really be interested in young girls because he was genuinely attracted to his wife. On re-investigation, it transpired that he had been behind abusing the girl and was probably only actually attracted to his wife because she was acting like a child when she had tried to seduce him. Although he and had Father-in-Law the Chief Super Intendant, had argued that this was just a one-off, isolated incident they both couldn’t help feeling a little silly.
She has been his ideal woman when he met her on their Student placement, he had a secret, although he had pretended with other girlfriends, his first wet dream had never come. Petting and touching had never worked, she had been his perfect cover: an adult but also a child, a girl who might only want to hold hands in bed. That’s what they had done for the last decade, the same bed but no kind of sexual relations. They would go to bed together often tucked up in PJ’s and her a nightie after lights out synonymous sleep would follow. On their honeymoon, his wife had made some attempts to engage in a more physical manner, extra petting and more kisses, but when he wasn’t really interested she returned to the ‘Whoopsi’ routine, she didn’t really mind it was more fun. In public situations, he would often embrace her, his way of letting everyone know she was him, but in private he was cold and showed no desire to be touched. Only lately he hadn’t been sleeping when the lights went off, he would lie awake sweating and shaking, murmuring words like ‘Sal,’ ‘Cheek’ and ‘Plank’. Last night after he had heard about re-investigation of the abuser he had tossed and turned, perspiration pouring off him as he clenched his muscles and made fists. He kept murmuring the word ‘Nonce Magnet’ as his brain tried to reject the humiliation of what had occurred.
One of the Iron Men near him had been graffitied, it had a large pair of breast sprayed onto its chest area. He thought of his wife bosom, it was large and this meant that she was more attractive than any of the girls that had smaller boobs than her end of, and certainly this Sal anyway. That’s all the boys he taught at school would think anyway, so as long as he could talk about how big his woman’s breasts are it meant she was ‘Better’ than all the other women and he was ‘Better’ than all the other men because she was his Wife. His Father-in-Law, the Chief Super, had in fact agreed and when Sal had pointed out that his wife was not as attractive as she was supposed to have been he had insisted:
‘She is jealous of how big my daughter’s boobs are!’
continually also with another example, he could conceive of why Sal was jealous of his daughter. Then, the audacity of it people at the Police Force had tried to suggest that Sal was also an attractive girl when his wife was clearly much more attractive because she had bigger breasts.
His wife didn’t mind being talked about in this way, it just meant that she was the ‘Best’. Besides which she didn’t know what ‘Objectification’ meant and ‘Male gaze’ was a term that women who were more intelligent than herself used. Girls like Sal knew what terms like that meant and she would frequently use them as part of their everyday language. In regards to her father talking about how big her boobs were, she never found this vulgar and in the same respect her Father refused to find her adoption of the mannerisms of a ten years old when being seductive as a little bit peculiar he found it endearing.As she was growing up he had liked the thought of his daughter remaining a virgin for ever, he had never really wanted her to grow up fully. When she didn’t, although he was not fully aware of what was going on in the marriage bedroom, he didn’t mind. Although other at the Force had recognised the relationship as a little perverse they were unable to raise the matter with him due to his Senior Ranking.
His eyes moved towards another of the statues, it had also been graffitied, this time an erect penis had been etched into its lower regions. Revulsion crashed into his mind at one hundred miles an hour, the idea, the thought of this activity. The concept of his penis being hard and his wife’s large boobs in front of him, being expected to be capable of making love to her, for his foreskin to push again the cavities of the vagina. For the scrotum to work its way inward and to produce, what he had heard described as ‘Sticky’ substance of sperm. Vomit had pushed into the lower section of his throat, his stomach had churned. He looked for something he could clean the graffiti off with, he wouldn’t alert anyone attention as he would just look like a concerned citizen, after all, he was ‘Head of PE’.
The wind on the beach began to pick up, he looked across the spectrum of the beach, the Iron Men lined up and looking out towards the Industrial Sea Scape which was Crosby beach. He looks towards the eroding forms, he looks out to the ones furthest from the tide practically submerged by water, tops of heads only just present. He thinks of Sal and he thinks he wants to do that to her, submerge her in water until she drowns slowly in the dark fuel filled waters of Another Place. Then it happens, what he could not do in normal life, his groin strains, he becomes stiff, there is an erection. He thinks about killing her and how he would never be suspected as he was ‘Head of PE’ and his Father in law was the Chief Superintendent, she would be gone and he would get away with ending her life his erection grows stronger.
The Iron Men were no longer the only ones standing to attention on that day at the Crosby’ Coast.