by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 11

There were two cars and a large mobile caravan in the parking area, but no visible humans. Perdita parked in the shade of a large Benjamina fig as far from the others as possible.

'The shade's welcome, but these trees drop bugs, leaves and bird shit,' she muttered, closing the roof.

They sat in silence for a long minute, gazing out at a flat expanse of sand that stretched for a hundred metres until it met the placid waters of the Coral Sea. To their right, a ridge of yellowy, scrub-covered rock jutted into the water, creating a shallow bay. Trees blocked the view of the beach to their left.

'Tide's out,' Mort observed.

'Do you always state the obvious? Get the rug and hamper out of the boot and let's have lunch.'

The hamper was little more than a small basket. The picnic was half a dozen sandwiches and two pieces of chocolate cake wrapped in plastic. A half bottle of white wine, a can of orange juice and a bottle of water completed the food. Plastic cups and utensils filled the rest of the space. They ate in silence. Perdita drank the wine, Mort the orange juice.

'While I'm getting comfortable, you can put everything away.'

'Yes Ma'am. Three bags full, Ma'am.'

When Mort returned, Perdita had discarded her clothes and was rubbing lotion onto arms, legs, belly and breasts.

Mort watched impassively.

When satisfied she was sufficiently lubricated, she lay back and told him to get her handbag from the car.'

Mort remained standing. Silent.

Perdita shrugged, prised herself to her feet and fetched it, then lay down again with the bag beside her.

'Do you shave your pubes or are you naturally hairless?' Mort asked.

'I wax.' She patted the rug beside her. 'Get your gear off and come and sit down; unless you're a prude.'

Mort dropped his shorts, peeled off the tank top and lay down. 'I'd never have survived if I was a prude, living with grandparents who were more often than not naked. You look very like Grandma without your clothes. You've got the same narrow waist and huge bum.'

'Cheeky bugger! It's not huge, it's sexy.'

'To some people, perhaps. Not to me.'

'You don't wear underpants.'

'No, they're uncomfortable.'

'Do you shave your pubes? Is that why you asked?'

'No. I don't have hair anywhere except on my head. That's why I asked if you did. I wondered if it was a family characteristic. Grandad was almost hairless and Grandma didn't have much, so if you were hairless too and if I knew who my father was, I'd have an idea if I should be worried.'

'You're fourteen. Sleek and attractive. Between your legs you're obviously a man, but without your cock and balls it'd be hard to tell if you were a boy or a girl. Even your voice is indeterminate; low pitched, soft and sexy. Be grateful you're hairless! It's a nuisance; falls out in the shower, stops you finding ticks easily, uses up deodorant.'

'So, who is my father, and why did you dump me on your parents?

'I've no idea who your father is. Between the ages of ten and fifteen I was fucked by about thirty-eight different boys and men — I lost count. There are at least ten different boys who could be him. I don't even remember their names.'

'Didn't they wear condoms?'

'No. I was on the pill, and allergic to latex. Also, I'd read that you can't trust condoms, they break and lots of guys use them several times on different girls so they're unhygienic.'

'What about disease?'

'I inspected every penis thoroughly before it entered my tunnel of love.' She glanced across at Mort. 'I hope you're as careful with whoever you have sex with!'

'What I can't get my head around, is you being fucked when you were ten! And with so many guys! Are you a nymphomaniac?'

'When did you first wank?'


'A year before me. How often do you masturbate?'

'Two or three times a day, never more than six.' He smiled. 'But it's not the same as doing it with someone else.'

'Mum and Dad were always running around naked, as you know having lived with them for ten years, and it wasn't unusual for Mum to be on her knees weeding and Dad would come up behind and they'd fuck like rabbits. They were always at it so it didn't seem any stranger than showering, eating, or cutting toenails... except it looked and sounded much more fun. Mum squealed a lot.'

'Yeah, I remember... until the cops hit her and she went gaga. Then she didn't want it any more. I used to feel sorry for Grandad, but he said he'd been sick of her for years and only did it to keep her happy. He said wanking was less stressful for his heart.'

Perdita laughed pleasantly. 'It's so relaxing to talk about this with someone who understands that it wasn't perverted, it was just the way we lived and sex was a natural part of the fun of living. If it's not fun then don't do it, I say.'

'Yeah. Grandad reckoned humans should only have sex in nature, in daytime, and without shame. Insisting on privacy and dark rooms makes sex a perversion instead of a natural pleasure.'

'That's fine for people like us. But when you think about what most people look like, then dark rooms and secrecy seems preferable.

Mort giggled. 'Too true. But Grandad and Grandma only did it with each other, so it doesn't explain why you became so promiscuous.'

'Why do you use big words? You're just like Dad! Don't you know it annoys people? If you mean slut, say slut.'

'I didn't mean you were a slut. I meant you were easy… indiscriminating when it came to sex.'

'Doesn't sound any better. Anyway, I started menstruating when I was nine, and started masturbating soon after. Mum loved being fucked, so I wanted to do it too. I asked Dad to do it to me, but he said I should stick to people my own age, so I used boys from school. It was usually fun and didn't feel different from playing tennis with them. Of course the girls hated me and spread rumours that I was a whore, and then the boys started to tell everyone I was a cheap slut, the town bike…'


'Everyone could go for a ride.' Perdita's voice faded and her eyes filled with what appeared to be genuine tears. She sniffed and flicked them away. 'Sorry about that. I thought I was over it. Anyway, schoolwork suffered, I failed everything, skipped class, got caught shoplifting, hauled before the cops for prostitution... it was your friend Marshall who managed to get me off that. And then I got pregnant and stayed home. Mum was a bitch; Dad was a saint and never once criticised me.'

'That's one reason I loved him.

'I didn't want you. I tried to abort you several times but you refused to die. I knew I'd be a terrible mother and I'd probably bash you to death within a week if you cried. I had hardly any tits. Wasn't developing any milk and probably wouldn't get any because I'd been starving myself, so the best thing for both of us was for me to leave you with Mum and Dad. And it wasn't so bad, was it?'

'They reckon giving birth's really painful. Was it?'

'No. Piece of cake. We had a hippie working with Dad in the gardens; one of those skinny, longhaired types with a ponytail. He said if I massaged my vulva every day and stretched it so I could learn to deliberately relax all the muscles, then it wouldn't tighten up during birth and I'd be fine. The worst part was the weight dragging down on my belly; gave me terrible backaches. He taught me to crawl around on hands and knees, so Mum made me leather kneepads and gloves. He used to fuck me and then massage until I was so relaxed he could put his fist in. It was so successful you started to fall out while I was walking up the steps to the hospital. It's because there was no pain or trauma that I could just get up and take off a couple of hours after you were born, feeling as good as if I'd just had a huge shit.'

Mort was silent for a long time, gazing at his feet and wondering how much to believe. If she was making it up she was a very good actress, if she wasn't, then he should feel sorry for her. But there was something that grated. Probably the truth was somewhere in between. 'Grandma's tits hung like flaps and her nipples were like fingers. She said it was because of you sucking on them for three years. Your tits look like lemons and your nipples aren't very big. Does that mean you haven't had any more kids? That I haven't any siblings?'

'Siblings! There you go again. No, you don't have any brothers or sisters because about a year later I got an infection that left me sterile, which has been good and bad. I've been able to fuck with no fear of pregnancy, but because most men won't marry a girl who can't have kids, I had to wait till Elbert came along a year ago.'

'I've always wished I hadn't been born. Do you think it could be because you tried to abort me?'

'Of course not. But if you feel like that why don't you throw yourself under a bus?' The comment was tossed off as thoughtlessly as if Mort had said he liked ice cream and she'd asked what flavour.

He tried not to smile. Perdita wasn't interested in him — or anyone else, he suspected. 'I won't do that because it would be messy and not pleasant for onlookers. I saw a kid crushed like that a few years ago. When I go I'll leave quietly with no fuss.'

'How old do you think I look?' she asked, apropos of nothing.

'I know you're twenty-nine, yet you look younger than lots of the senior girls at school. I noticed at the swimming sports that most have fat tits and bellies. And they wear too much makeup, even at school. You don't wear any except a bit of lipstick. You don't need to because you've a beautiful skin and are very attractive.' Mort had to turn away in case she saw his smile. Leo had once said it was impossible to flatter a woman too much; they'd believe anything no matter how outrageous as long as it was positive. When he had his face under control he turned back. 'Trust me, Perdita, you could pass for my sister any day.'

'You don't think my breasts are too small?' she asked, lifting them as if presenting sacred objects for worship, casually brushing the nipples with her thumbs.

Watching them swell triggered memories of Zoltan's tongue doing the same thing to him, and he gazed down at his rapidly engorging penis with pleasure. 'No, I think your breasts are exactly the right size.'

'Is that why you've got a hard on?'

'No, I was thinking of someone else.'

'Male or female?'

'Mrs. Stygian, my body is available for viewing to anyone who cares to look, but the contents of my head are private.

'Have you got a girlfriend?'




'Are you queer?'

'No more than anyone else. Are you?'

'Do you like me?'

'To paraphrase your reprimand when I mentioned you were twenty minutes late; it is impolite to question a gentleman. We men are on this planet to admire, serve and make life pleasurable for women, who if left to their own devices would still be living in caves, eating raw food and bearing dozens of kids because they'd be prey to every passing male. Don't look for faults in the stronger sex; look for the virtues behind them and your life will be easier.'

'You are so like your grandfather! He was also prone to erections — and proud of it. You even talk and sound like him. It's weird!'

'He was my model of the perfect man until I was ten. Still is in fact. I often ask myself what Grandad would do.' Mort sat up and looked over Perdita's shoulder towards the other cars. 'Don't look now, but a few minutes ago a van pulled in and two blokes went over to that caravan thing, spoke to someone, and now they're headed this way. They don't look friendly.'

Perdita quickly turned and looked. 'They look horrible!' she whispered, unable to keep the excitement out of her voice. 'I think they mean trouble! What'll we do?'

'You'll do nothing. Just stay exactly as you are and pretend you're my sister.'

'When you're sitting there with a fat?'

'My girlfriend, then.'

'You seem pretty cool about this.'

'They're flabby yobs looking for a fight. I know the sort. Be pleasant so we aren't the one's who start a quarrel, and leave the rest to me.'


'Shhh. Here they are.'

Mort gazed innocently at the two shirtless young men who looked to be in their early twenties. Their shorts, slung low under flabby bellies, reached their knees. Thin, hairy white legs ended in black leather boots and short socks. One had breasts to rival Perdita's, but less perky; the other was pigeon-chested with a large gold cross hanging between pale nipples. Both needed a shave. Both were grinning unpleasantly.

'What have we here? A couple of nudists? Don't you know it's against the law to flash your cunt, bitch? And you're fuckin' disgusting lying there with a fuckin' hard on!'

'Would you prefer me to stand up?' Mort asked innocently as he stood, dusting imaginary crumbs off his thighs.

'You're looking for trouble, you two,' pigeon chest snarled. 'Fuckin' heathen wogs, think you can do what you like. Well this is a Christian country and we have standards.' He stepped close to Mort, thrusting a mean smile and sour breath into his intended victim's face. 'You need to be taught a lesson, and I'm the one…'

A bony knee smashed into his balls. He yelped, grabbed at them and rocked back far enough for Mort to ram the protruding knuckles of his tightly balled left fist between the eyes. A scream of pain and both hands lifted to protect against further attack left him wide open for a second crippling smash to the groin. It had taken seven seconds.

'What the fuck have you done!' the other would-be terrorist shouted, kneeling beside his friend who was moaning and retching on the ground. 'You're a fucking…'

The first two knuckles of Mort's other, equally well-practised fist slammed into the soft spot on the side of his head, between the eye and ear. The would-be tough dropped onto his back, eyes wide, mouth emitting a high pitched whine, which changed to an ear-splitting scream when a hard heel stomped on his genitals. The slight movement of pigeon chest groggily trying to lift his head caused Mort to swing round and slam his foot down on it, smashing it into the ground.

When certain that both assailants were out of it, Mort dragged off their boots and shorts, removed wallets and keys that he tossed to Perdita, then climbed into the Benjamina fig and jammed shorts and boots between the highest branches he could reach.

On regaining the ground he searched around and found a solid branch resembling a baseball bat, which he placed beside him as he lay back on the blanket, heart pounding wildly, face lit by a serene smile. Perdita was looking at him oddly, but said nothing.

'You didn't feel the urge to assist me?'

'And risk getting my face rearranged? It's okay for men, no one cares what you look like, but if I returned home with my hair in a mess and a cut lip, Elbert would divorce me.' Perdita's slight smile suggested she was not unused to violence, and had rather enjoyed the spectacle. There was no indication she had worried about what might have happened to her son. Probably, Mort surmised, because if he'd lost she'd have simply gone off with the winners to be raped but otherwise unhurt, as has been the lot of women since the beginning of time. Or had it all been planned? Was he supposed to be lying on a slab in a morgue, the victim of an unprovoked assault? He shook his head. Paranoia wasn't sensible. A clear head was essential if he hoped to stay ahead of this woman.

'Your erection's gone,' she observed with a disdainful sniff. 'I guess that means you aren't turned on by violence.'

'I hate it.'

'So what does turn you on?'

'Gentleness, kindness, soft kissing and touching and knowing both of us want the same thing.'

'And Marshall gives you that,' she said with a slight nod as if it was an established fact.

The casual assumption that he and Marshall were lovers brought Mort up with a shock. He'd not seen it coming. She was good. That was the sort of probing he'd have to be ready for when she decided to discover where the money was. Keeping his face impassive, he stretched his muscles and gazed vacantly along the beach as if the statement was scarcely worth considering. 'Of course not. Marshall's my foster father, not lover. You've got sex on the brain. He's in his forties for goodness sake and not interested sexually in me. Nor am I in him. Were you into older men when you were a girl?'

'Anything with a penis that worked, to be honest.'

'That's the difference between you and me. Hello, they're waking up.'

Both men were struggling painfully to their feet, holding their hands tenderly against heads and groins as if to protect them. They stared down at their own naked bodies.

'You fucking bastard! One screeched, then winced and held his head. 'Our clothes! What have you done with our clothes?'

'Tossed them into the sea.'

'But... our wallets. Our keys!'

'Here.' Mort tossed them over, then picked up the stick. 'You've fifteen seconds to get back to your van and drive away…'

'I'll get the cops onto you! I'll…'

Mort stepped forward and belted him across the bum, hard. 'Fourteen, thirteen, twelve…'

'They snatched up their belongings and ran.

'Pale Europeans can be so ugly, don't you think?' Perdita remarked languidly. 'I'm glad you won; I didn't fancy being fucked by them. Which brings me to the question, how on earth did you manage it? You're only fourteen!'

'They were bullies, and bullies get hards on by creating fear in their victims; watching them while making threats, pushing and provoking, hoping their prey will piss themselves and beg for mercy. They like to get close enough to smell the fear. You saw how he thrust his face into mine; that's a classic opening gambit. Later, when they've extracted everything they can from mental torture, they start on the physical. They rely on the fact that most people will not throw the first punch, because that would make them the aggressor. Instead, the victims make excuses for the bastard confronting them. They tell themselves it was their own fault for saying or doing something offensive. They convince themselves that the other person doesn't mean to be so rude, or it's a misunderstanding of class or culture. They hang on to the pathetic hope that if they explain he will back off. There's no end to the excuses people will make for not defending themselves. The second thing helping bullies is that fear makes people freeze. It's a life-saving, primeval reaction that works with most wild animals — unless they've deliberately set out to attack you in defence of their young. Bullies know instinctively that their victims' brains literally stop working, and rely on it. It gives them time to enjoy their bullying. I've been training myself to override this reflex, so the second I realise I'm faced with a bully I short-circuit any reluctance and let loose with a killer blow. Because you don't get a second chance. If your first hit doesn't seriously disable them, you're dead. Simple really.' He looked out to sea. 'The tide's in, fancy a swim?'

'Oh dear,' Perdita sighed as they reluctantly waded out of the water. 'The local prudes are massing to warn us that nude is rude and we're doomed to hell.'

'Let's pretend we don't speak English. What's your Urdu like?'

'Like yours, I imagine. Ah stuff it. Lets see what they've got to say.'

'Don't you mean hear?'

'Fuck you're irritating! At least you aren't holding your hands in front of your cods. That always looks so pathetic.'

'Of course not! I'm proud of my bits.

'And so you should be. Look out, we're about to be waylaid.'

'They're old and doddery. Smile!'

An elderly gentleman stepped forward. 'Please excuse our intrusion, but we wanted to thank you for what you did this afternoon.' He indicated the other three people. 'This is my wife and my brother and sister in law.' The others nodded in a friendly manner, smiling and carefully not looking anywhere lower than necks.

'We planned on camping here,' he continued, 'but those two louts arrived and told us we had to go or they'd make us sorry. We didn't know what to do. Then they saw you sitting down the end and apparently decided you'd be easy game. But you worsted them. I'm amazed to see how young you are. If more people were like you the world would be a better place.'

'Thanks,' Mort said with a grin. 'It wasn't difficult, they were dumb and flabby. It's nice of you to tell us, though.' He laughed good-naturedly. 'We imagined you were upset because we're naked.'

One of the women giggled. 'Quite the opposite, my dear. We think you look wonderful. Seeing you both has been the highlight of my holiday so far.'

With smiles and nods they drifted away and Perdita led the way back to the rug.

'Quite the little diplomat, aren't you?' she sneered. 'Do you get off on being nice to people. Such a fucking prince charming it made me want to puke.'

Mort stared in surprise. 'They were being pleasant! They are nice people. Why would I want to be rude to them?'

'They're greedy old fuckwits living off my taxes. Bloody grey nomads. Think the world owes them because they're old. I'd sooner spend the weekend with those two you smashed up. At least they're real!'

Mort held his tongue. She was trying to annoy him, to get him off balance, to make him do or say something stupid. A sliver of something cold seemed to slide down his spine. His birth mother was a bully! Things were getting too complicated for comfort so he mentally shrugged the problem off. This was not an issue worth fighting over. 'You're probably right' he said with a thoughtful nod. 'I'm an innocent compared to you.'

'That's for sure,' she muttered loud enough for him to hear.

Mort shook leaves and bugs off the rug and replaced it, then offered Perdita the water bottle, which she drained and passed back without thanks. While Mort ran to a tap to refill the bottle, she arranged herself comfortably on the rug.

Mort plonked himself down opposite. Okay, Perdita. What's the reason you've brought me here?

'Subtle, aren't you? As you know Elbert and I are childless. I don't care, but he does, so when he learned I had a son he begged me to find you and get you to come and live with us.'

'That's generous of him, but I'm happy where I am.'

'He'll be a wonderful father. You could do all sorts of things together. He's only a couple of years older than me, not ancient like Marshall.'

'I don't want to change schools and…'

'Elbert's very rich; you could have everything you want, we live in…'

'I don't care how rich he is, I'm happy where I am.'

'Of course, I should have realised you wouldn't be impressed by money, what with the inheritance Dad left you; but don't you want a young father and a real mother who cares for you?'

'First of all, I haven't any inheritance. Surely Grandad left his money to Grandma, so you should get it now? And second, I have a foster father who treats me pretty well. Thirdly, I do not want a mother.'

'Why on earth not?'

'Women don't understand boys — at least the women I've had anything to do with don't.'

'I don't think you understand, Mortaumal.' Perdita's voice was flat, as if she'd given up trying to persuade him. 'I'm not asking you to come and live with us.'

She paused and Mort's heart soared.

She smiled humourlessly. 'I'm telling you to come and live with us. It's not a choice. We're going back to Marshall's apartment now, and you will collect anything you need for the next few days. Tonight we will fly to Brisbane. Your other stuff can be sent on later.'

'Don't be ridiculous! You can't make me!'

Perdita rifled through her handbag and produced a photograph. 'Take a look at this.'

'Mort's eyes popped. 'That's me, when Angelo brought me back after a cross-country run, and that's Angelo running after me. How did you get it?'

'You've been followed, photographed and videoed by a private investigator.'

'But that's terrible. An invasion of my privacy. There's a law against it and... why?'

'Cleverly edited, the video and stills will prove that an innocent, fourteen year old boy has been taken by his teacher into the forest for sex. You even arrived home naked, chased by your naked teacher inexpertly wrapped in a towel. That teacher is now the lover of your foster father. All three of you have naked romps together in the spa pool on the roof, often sporting erections. I have enough evidence to put both adults in prison for child sexual molestation. In the unlikely event that they manage to escape that fate, the publicity will destroy forever their futures as teacher and lawyer.'

'It isn't like that at all! No one would believe you!'

'No one would believe you, when they discover that for ten years you were brainwashed by your randy nudist grandfather who hit his wife so she lost her marbles and was dumped in a nursing home before he suicided from shame. And when they learn that the male prostitute who murdered his disabled son to deny the mother the right to have him, then killed himself, had been poisoning your brain for three years, your fate will be sealed. And I can cap that with the fact that your present queer foster father is estranged from his children because they despise his debauched lifestyle. Furthermore, rumour will soon be circulating that he has threatened to murder you if you dob him in.'

Mort couldn't speak. The blood seemed to have drained from his body. He felt cold. Breathing became difficult. His heart pounded. 'You would do that to innocent men?'

'No one's innocent, young man. Everyone's guilty of something. Well? Will you come and live with me?

'How do I know you still won't ruin their lives?'

'Why would I? I don't dislike them. Marshall was very good to me once, and Dad liked him. I don't even know the teacher. I'll give them the videos and photos once we're safely in Brisbane.'

'Why do you want me to live with you?'

'I don't. Elbert wants you.'

'What's he like?'

'Medium height, slim and tough — very tough actually. Short curly black hair, skin as black as coal. He's either a Kenyan or an Ethiopian, depending on who he's talking to, but as far as I can gather he's never been to either of those places. Lived most of his life in England. Well educated. Speaks like a toff. Anything else you want to know?'

'Is he nice?'

'Everyone's nice if they want something from you. Well? What's your answer?'

Mort shook his head in despair. 'I've no choice.' Wordlessly he picked up the rug, stowed it in the boot and climbed into the passenger seat. Perdita put on her sun frock and drove away, waving gaily to the four pensioners. Mort was unable to look because of the tears streaming down his cheeks and splashing onto his lap.

Perdita remained in the car with the radio blaring pop music while her son ran upstairs. Marshall sat quietly while Mort gave as detailed an account of the afternoon as possible, considering his anguish, with Angelo recording it on his video camera.

'She's a dangerous woman,' Marshall said angrily. 'I reckon she organised those two louts hoping you'd be so damaged she'd be given access to you and the inheritance she's so sure you have.'

'That also crossed my mind. She certainly wasn't pleased when I got rid of them, so I want to make a Will leaving everything I own to charity in case I have an accident, the car crashes or… so at least she won't get the money. Can we do it now?'

'Mort! You're not going! It's too dangerous. She's got no proof. It's blackmail. We'll go to the police and…'

Mort stopped him. 'I'm going. It will be an adventure. You know as well as I do that mud sticks and the cops in Queensland are probably helping her... they certainly won't be on your side. Let's make that Will.'

'Ten minutes later it was signed, witnessed and sealed, with Marshall as the executor and Angelo the second witness, it was perfectly legal as neither were beneficiaries. As an added security measure, Angelo had recorded everything including Mort's statement declaring his freely held desire to make whatever charity Marshall decided, the beneficiary of his estate.

It was a sombre group who prepared Mort's suitcase, watched him dress in his best clothes, and bid tearful farewells. Marshall wanted to go out and confront Perdita, but Mort convinced him to remain inside, because he had a plan.

'I'll tell her I haven't told you anything. I'll say I came in and said I was going, but before I could say anything else you said it was a good idea. And then I realised you didn't really want me now you have Angelo. And Angelo was extra pleased because he also didn't like having me around now you two are an item. So I'll pretend that I'm happy to be going because I suddenly realised I've outstayed my welcome and I've never been to Brisbane so it'll be an adventure — -that sort of thing. I'm pretty good at making stuff up on the run.'

'Don't underestimate her. She's cunning and stupid, the most dangerous combination.'

'Thanks. I'll remember. I'm certainly not going to give her any reason to gloat or act on her threat. I'll promise to do exactly as she says, and stop being such a smart arse — she hates me using big words.'

'You know that wherever I am, will always be your home, don't you?' Marshall was weeping openly.

'Yes. And I'll love you always.' He turned to Angelo. 'Please take care of him. He is the best man alive on earth.'

Angelo promised, and after one last hug, Mort ran downstairs, stepped out the door and slammed it shut behind him as if very angry. His face was dark with annoyance when he threw his bag in the boot and got into the car.

'Problems?' Perdita's smile was not pleasant.

'Those fucking bastards! When I said I'd be going to stay with you I expected they'd try to stop me! But they didn't. You could see they were pleased. Marshall couldn't wait to tell me what a sensible decision I'd made; as if he was worried I'd change my mind. And that two-faced Angelo. Just stood beside Marshall and nodded, telling me what a sensible young man I am. Fuck them! And here I was getting all teary down at the beach, saying how happy I was, and didn't want to go with you because they wanted me to stay with them! How could I have got it so wrong? They couldn't wait to help me pack my bag and kept promising to send everything on as soon as I wrote them where to send it!' Mort subsided into his seat, head down, mouth a hard line, a picture of angry, rejected youth.

Perdita smiled and said nothing.

'And I'll bet that you and Elbert also want to get rid of me after a while. That's been my whole bloody life! Grandma hated me. Grandad suicided without giving a flying fuck about me. Amy hated me. Leo suicided too once he got to know me! Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.' '

You'll be all right,' Perdita said cheerfully. 'You're more like me than you realise. Tough.'

Mort looked up at her as if she was his new idol. 'I hope so! I really and truly want to be like you.'

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead