Do you ride?
Miss Fenniwig asked innocently.
I squinted at her and gave a hoarse chuckle, like a cow, hiding under a bed.
I ride spectacularly well, my darling.
I cast an errant eye up and down her fuselage.
Miss Fenniwig gave a little hop of excitement.
That's marvellous. Here, take this and meet me tomorrow at two. I have arranged a little outing for us. The two of us plus... A friend. Remember to dress appropriately!
She pressed a note into my hand and shimmied away like a cat with a sausage.
I gave her retreating back a wave with my pipe.
What a surprise it had been to see her. I had just come out of a Parliamentary Committee about smashing the glass ceiling for women in industry or some such bloody nonsense. I had spent most of the time there drinking Mad Agnes from my hip flask and smoking my pipe.
Upon leaving I had bumped into her. Goodness, it was almost as if she had been following me. Well, no matter. I looked around and seeing that the corridor was clear, gave the note a little sniff. Regretfully it just smelled like paper. Oh well, I suppose that if everything smelled of vaginal secretions the world would be a dull place.
And a fishy one.
Anyway, I carried on with my duties as a Minister of Parliament, thoughts abuzz as to what the next day's meeting with Miss Fenniwig and her friend might bring.
The next day dawned bright and clear. I had my maid Liselle shave me before dressing.
And make sure you stretch the bag flat, I will have no nicks and cuts on my silk purse when I meet the good Miss Fenniwig.
In the mirror, I could see Liselle grimace and mutter something about sweaty penises. Damn girl, what did she expect? It was September.
After the shaving, I had her bring me in a selection of outfits for my meet. I decided to wear the white silk shirt with black trousers and a rather fetching coat. I looked very regal. Very regal indeed.
My man Morris took me to the outskirts of the city and eventually stopped the car at a rotting old barn in a dismal looking field. He hooted softly at me as I stepped out the door.
Be careful? Oh, don't worry about me Morry! There is no danger here. Look! There is Miss Fenniwig and a... fellow?
When she said a friend, I hadn't expected her to bring a fellow. She stepped in daintily and gave me a peck on the cheek then introduced the man with her.
This is Gerard. He is in charge around here.
I examined this Gerard chap. He had long hair like a spaniel and a face like mouldy seal-skin. He stretched out his hand as if to insert it in me and work me like a puppet.
I did not like the look of him. Not one bit. He stank of peon.
He looked bemused at my refusal to shake his hand. For a moment the air sung with testosterone and tension. Then Gerard snorted.
Come this way milord.
He walked off toward the barn. Miss Fenniwig giggled and tugged me after her.
What the bloody fuck is this?
I glared at the great big animal in front of me.
Oh Boomy, it's a horse of course!
I looked at the big brute in front of me, then at Gerard who seemed to be sniggering into his hand and then at Miss Fenniwig.
I know it's a fucking horse but what is it doing here?
The horse in question was a big bugger, it had a nasty look in it's eye and twitched it's head aggresively at me.
Miss Fenniwig gave me a bewildered look. Like a parrot eating feta cheese.
Why, for the riding, of course. You remember I asked if you rode?
I felt a vein pulse hotly in my temple.
Yes, I do remember you asking me if I rode. However, I was under the impression that you meant I was going to ride you. I mean, call me a fool but was I so cruelly mistaken?
Miss Fenniwig blushed and looked at Gerard who belched out something suspiciously like a guffaw. Neither of them answered. Gerard produced a brush and started brushing the flanks of the horse with some vigour as if it were his cousin Paul.
I reigned in my temper and glanced about the barn curiously. There seemed to be a curious subtext to this meeting I was missing.
Miss Fenniwig, would you be so kind as to trot to the car and tell my man Morry to bring me my spare pipe?
Of course Boomy. I... I am terribly sorry for the confusion.
She darted off, cheeks still aflame.
Gerard, old fellow... May I have a word?
Oh my god!!! What happened?! Is that Gerard?! Oh my god, should I call an ambulance?!
Miss Fenniwig had returned minutes later to a scene of absolute carnage. I lay on my side drenched in blood and scraps of horse hide. A cruel gash on my scalp bled freely down the side of my face.
Beside me the corpse of the horse lay twitching on the dirt, its guts slowly bubbling out of a massive gash in its side. Gerard lay beside its head. his throat clamped in its massive jaws, one of his eyes had popped out and hung on his cheek like a miniature toffee apple.
I'm so sorry my darling. I tried to save him but the horse. It went rogue and attacked us both in a frenzy. It tore dear Gerard's throat out with those awful teeth and then turned on me.
I made a squeaky pain noise.
I fought it of course. What gentleman wouldn't? It was all I could do to disembowel the foul creature in order to stop its terrible rampage.
Miss Fenniwig looked at me in disbelief.
No, oh my sweet word no. Not Gerard. Nooooo!
She flung herself on Gerard's corpse sobbing madly. I groaned and waved an arm feebly.
She looked up, her eyes raw and red like burst blisters.
Did he... Did he say anything before he... Passed? Anything about me?
My mouth twitched up into a cold grimace which could almost have been a grin.
Oh Miss Fenniwig, I couldn't possibly say, after all...