Before Gina there was Marion. Marion Montgomery.
I haven't spoken about Marion before and I don't know why. Shame. Respect. Discretion. Cowardice. Yeah, probably cowardice.
Marion was about fifteen years older than me at the time - she was just about fifty. I knew her from the local library where she worked. She was witty and intelligent and also quite religious.
On occasions I would have a coffee with her and she would make me laugh with tales about the people who would come into the library. She also had some interesting theories and observations about life she would come up with and which made me think. One of her observations where that there were twelve basic types of face which transcended ethnicity - and I think she could have been right. Though I never conducted a scientific study I came across examples which fitted her theory in everyday life: a black girl who resembled a white girl I knew; a white guy who looked like Tiger Woods and a friend of mine, who was white, who kind of had Chinese features. Yeah, the theory definitely had legs.
The irrational (irrational to me) side of her was her religion - she was very much into Jesus and God and believed that everything had a purpose and even if we couldn't see it, God was testing us constantly to judge whether we would be fit for everlasting bliss. "God moves in a mysterious way," she would say on many an occasion.
I guess it did for her because despite being a moral, kind, humble and generous individual her earthly existence was not a blessed one. Her husband had been a drunken bully who had beaten her up from time to time and had also spent any spare money they had on the horses. Worse was the fact that he had made her give up university where she had been studying for a degree in English Literature and thereby limited any future job or career choices. She had also confessed to me that she had lost a baby after he had battered her in a drunken rage. That tragedy was never spoken of again.
After too many years of suffering in silence she had finally left him and got a small rented one bedroom flat of her own. Naturally she had agonised over her decision for many years but had gradually come to terms with it. At first he gave her a load of hassle about it and would often phone up or turn up at the flat and shout abuse at her from the street. One night, after complaints from the neighbours, he was arrested and given some kind of restraining order. After that she never heard from him again.
In due course she settled down to her new life; though she remained single and appeared to have no inclination to get involved with a man (or woman for that matter) again.
It was at this point that I got to know her - I hasten to add that I was also in a relationship with Sharon at that time too and though Sharon had a jealous streak to her she was never bothered about me occasionally meeting up with Marion because she was a lot older, grey and quite plain. Also Marion smoked and Sharon knew it was a habit I didn't like in a female. I have to admit I never fancied Marion but I did enjoy her company immensely from time to time.
Anyway, as time went by my relationship with Sharon began to crumble (I'll tell you about this another day) such that we called it a day.
I have to say that the split up hit me quite badly and behind closed doors I would often cry my eyes out. But whenever I saw Marion she would comfort me and I would feel better - she was a wonderful and true friend - and I mean 'friend' because I just never fancied her.
But then events took a turn for the worse - she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was devastated and I was shocked.
To cut a long story short she ended up having both her breasts removed. Her faith kept her going but I felt I played my part too - I owed it to her because she was such a decent person. I would often pop round in an evening and I would also take her out for drives in my car. Slowly but surely she got better, stronger and happier. I have to say the council, her employers at the library, were brilliant and gave her as much time off as they could regards appointments and convalescence.
Spiritually she told me that she thanked God for giving her the drive to not only get better but to appreciate the gift of life and also to bring out the best in people.
I wasn't at all sure about that but I went along with what she said and believed because I didn't want to disillusion her.
But one fateful day all that was to change.
One Sunday morning, about ten o'clock, she had popped round to mine prior to us going for a long walk which would also take in an old Anglo-Saxon church she was intrigued by followed by a Sunday roast at a country pub which we loved.
But it wasn't to be.
After I'd let her into my house I asked her if she fancied a coffee or a tea and then told her that I just needed to do a bit of washing up before we went out.
"That's fine, we've plenty of time," she had said, "I'll have a mug of tea please."
I'd made her a tea and then washed up whilst she sat in the lounge.
When I'd finished I walked back in the lounge all cheerily for her to be stood up looking quite serious and a bit angry with a black paper book in her right hand.
"Um... it's the Satanic Bible."
"Yes, I can see that. I can read you know, working in a library and all that!"
I was quite taken aback by her aggression, her accusatory tone. It was a side of her I had never seen.
"So despite my religious beliefs you're a secret Satanist. A devil worshipper. A dirty little sinner-"
"It's really not about that, Marion. It's a book about personal liberation, about debunking hypocrisy, being yourself, living for the day-"
"Pah. We don't need any more evil in the world. Or suffering." She then added: "I really don't know you at all, do I?"
I then got a bit cross which I know I shouldn't have and said, "Look Marion, you've been totally loyal to God and how has he rewarded you? A drunken violent bastard of a husband and a God who has selected you to not only suffer from cancer but to suffer from the fear of the cancer returning. Yeah it's really worked for you."
She was silent for a moment. Shocked and stunned by my response.
"Okay, tell me a little about the book," she said, a little quieter now.
"I'm sorry Marion, I didn't mean for you to find the book, I know your faith is everything to you-"
"So, what's it all about then. Indulge me."
"Indulgence is exactly the right word. Lavey, the founder and high priest said, 'Life is the great indulgence; death the great abstinence.' "
"He also believed that the traditional sins were the true virtues, that only by embracing the sins would we know true gratification. Oscar Wilde said something similar along the lines that one could only conquer temptation by surrendering to it. There's also ritual in it, but for ritual's sake. Metaphysically, Lavey deduced that God was merely a projection of one's own mind and that in reality we were only worshipping a part of our own mind..."
I'd trailed off at this point and the room went silent.
"Okay, Marion, I'm going to nip upstairs and clean my teeth. I'll be back down in a couple of minutes."
Of course I didn't know whether she would still be there we I came down. I wasn't actually certain we'd still be friends. I have to say I'd felt bad and very uncomfortable.
"Yeah, okay," she said distractedly.
After I'd cleaned my teeth and been to the loo I walked down the stairs and was totally shocked to see her standing completely nude in front of the fireplace and casually smoking a cigarette.
"Yeah, that Lavey fella is right, life the great indulgence, death the great abstinence. So, what you're going to do is fuck me. And if you don't want to fuck me I shall put my clothes on and walk out of your life. We'll never speak again. Get that?"
For as second I had studied her naked body. Looked at the ugly scars where her tits had been. Ran my eyes up and down her pale flesh, flesh that was so pale it looked like it had been bleached. Her limbs were thin and her hair was long and grey and framed her mournful yet small features. Her pubic hair was also completely grey. Her eyes were grey and almost transparent. Everything was grey about her. And there was 'death' about her too, yet she now wanted to embrace life.
"Well?" she said and drew upon her cigarette.
"Yes... of course."
"Good. Get your clothes off and make me feel like I'm alive."
And I did. I stripped off and before I touched her she told me it was okay to for me to feel her scars, to treat her body as though she was whole again.
She'd stubbed her cigarette out on the cover of the Satanic Bible burning a small hole in it. She then held out her arms and we held each other, embraced for a moment. I then kissed her neck, massaged her back and ran my hands across the rough edges of her scars, kissed them. I caressed the tops of her bare arms, stuck my tongue in her mouth and tasted the tobacco on her breath. I then got her to lie down on the sofa and licked her clit, savoured the saltiness of her cunt. I also stuck my finger up her anus - she squirmed and squealed with the pleasure of that. Next I pulled her arms behind her back and fingered her till she came, gasping and twisting with the ecstasy. When she'd come I'd thrown her on the floor and fucked her hard till I came. It was probably the best fuck I'd ever had - with an older very plain woman with no tits.
And that was that. It was the beginning of the beginning. We told no one about our relationship and fucked like there was no tomorrow, because there was no tomorrow.
It was intense. We purchased sex toys, shagged outside. I fucked her up the arse. We watched porn. We smoked dope. We booked a parachute jump. We went to Iceland: Glaciers. Volcanoes. Myths. Back home: Restaurants. Films. Music concerts.
Life was good. Life was fantastic. But I have to be honest, I don't think I ever really loved her.
And then the beginning of the beginning became the beginning of the end - the cancer returned. And this time it was terminal.
The last time I shagged her was two weeks before she died. She was thin and frail but I still made her come. I was with her every day before she passed away. Her brother came over from South Africa and various friends turned up. They all thanked me for what I'd done. Well, not everything I'd done - I couldn't tell them that.
I was there in the early hours when she breathed her last though she'd been unconscious for several hours before the end. I'd watched her breathing becoming increasingly shallow, and of course by this time her limbs were as thin as twigs - so sad. Tragic. Cruel. And I could do nothing to prevent it. Nobody could.
She rejected her religion and her wishes were for her body to be cremated and the remains to have a tree planted over them - she told me nature was the true prophet of God.
About three weeks later on a rainy day I visited her final resting place. There was no one around so I lowered my trousers and masturbated to the vision of that first time we fucked. When I orgasmed I watched my spunk soak into the damp earth and imagined that it would make her smile...