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by Christopher Ray

Friday, he’s strolling back through the muddy market, battered tool-bag slung over his shoulder. He’ll have coin today after the week’s work. Tall, broad, long smock shirt untucked, rippling over britches that taper into his boots. The lowering sun has appeared and he casts a long shadow.

Fane Hawkins. Slaughterer, skinner, shearer. Pigs, sheep, he’s your man. Take a wander through the farms and chances are you’ll hear shrieking, like a girl in her moment. Well, with Fane, it might once have been that, but it’s more likely now that a pig’s seen him coming. By the time you get there, the throat’s slit, the blood’s out and he’s working his knife on the bristly skin.

Rowena has him in her sights. A new venture. Now she has to gain her advantage. She’d never give herself randomly, but fruit and veg aren’t as reliable as male lust. Her hair is flaxen, thick and rough; country hair. Unplaited, it reaches to the hump of her rump. She’s twenty-five now but hard years add more to her face. She wears a gathered off-white blouse that emphasizes her attributes atop a long brown woolen skirt. Her hem skims the black filth that squelches beneath her heel.

She anticipates his route and positions herself astride a small barrel. Her hands gather the sodden hem ready to offer a glimpse of shapely calf, then milky thigh. He turns past a stall of hanging charms and the next thing he sees …

***

She tells him, “Sir, two of your silver coins by the bedside, if you please.” He rolls his eyes but complies, pulls off his spattered shirt. Rowena giggles. She arches her neck and other parts to invite his lips high and low. She sighs, savouring his skillful attentions. Later as he presents himself, she rolls aside.

“Come on woman,” he chides. “Don’t hold me up now.”

“Another coin, sir.”

“What?”

“For further favours, sir.”

“But I already forked out two. Is that all it’s bought me?”

“A little play first costs the most in this bedroom, sir.” Her eyes sparkle as she laughs. “Perhaps I should have said?”

“Yes, you should. I’d’ve gone straight to it, not round the houses. Made a saving.”

“Well perhaps sir would prefer an obliging, four-legged conquest?”

He roars with laughter. “What insinuation! Ha! You make your case. More silver when we’re done, then. Hell, I thought I did the fleecing.”

***

A sheen on their skin reflects the last golden rays that seep through the window frame and timber cracks.

He strokes her, smiling. “What prompted this welcome opportunity then?”

“Nothing at present to sell at market. Time on my hands. So I thought … Friday’s when there’s a jingle in his pocket. No use flirting for business after Sunday, when it’s all but disappeared down his gullet. And keeping two wage-earners under this roof is important, don’t you think?” she giggles.

His chest heaves and he roars again as they roll grappling to the rug. “You’re bloody mad, Rowena Hawkins.”


Based in the south of England, Christopher Ray is an author of short stories, flash fiction and poetry. His work appears in a variety of publications, including Spelk Fiction and 101 Words. He is co-editor of Platform For Prose (www.platformforprose.com, Twitter @platform4prose).

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