Bill Stickers Is Innocent.
by. Terry Mason.
Bill Stickers is innocent, or so he says.
But, as the recession takes its toll and older people who have enjoyed the benefits of having had jobs all their lives, now find themselves on the dole, the pressure is truly on.
Families find themselves in complete role reversal as women find it easier to get work. For many men, 'A man's place is in the home' just doesn't feel right somehow. But they may have to get used to it.
With sex being the one human behaviour not diminished by the recession, ordinary people, with ordinary lives, and ordinary preoccupations find themselves in wildly different situations. Men who have lived for the nine-to-five of industry now find themselves as house husbands with their wives as the bread winners. Time on their hands and with many women still at home, something has to give.
Copyright © 2016 by Terry Mason.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Bill Stickers is innocent / Terry Mason. -- 1st ed.
To my wonderful wife, Jayne. Without you life would be but a shell.
Other books by Terry Mason:-
The Life of Rielly: John Rielly that is.
Cover illustrated by :-
Kate Evans. Redmaiden Art
“I’m not old.” The statement, if that indeed was what it was, sounded more like a plea than a confirmation.
“Of course you’re not dear,” his long suffering wife Jill said, in what he thought was more a patronising rather than supportive way. “I’ve always said you act like a little boy!”
“You’re a big help.”
“Look,” exasperation creeping into her voice. “It’s the way things are. In a recession companies downsize. It doesn’t mean you’re old, it just means that they can get someone younger, cheaper.”
“So I’m old.”
“Oh do shut up.” They had replayed this scene on several occasions over the past nine weeks of his unemployment. More so, in fact, each time a job rejection arrived, which they seemed to do with increasing speed. “And anyway, we can manage on my wage.” Then after a moment’s thought, “just about.”
“So I’m on the scrap heap. A kept man. For God’s sake, fifty-six is not old,” desperation rather than anger in his voice.
“For heaven’s sake, just …..” Lost for words she waved an exasperated hand towards the ceiling.
“Do you know what that stupid woman offered me at the job centre yesterday?" She knew but he didn't wait for the answer. "Cleaning! Me- A cleaning job! What about all my qualifications I said? 'Oh, don’t worry', she said.' They won’t hold that against you'." Now it was anger. "Can you believe it?”
Knowing he was about to go off on one of his well-practiced tirades on, what’s wrong with the country, she quickly finished the last of her breakfast before heading back to their bedroom to dress for work.
“Mustn’t be late,” she said in her superior employed manner. “One of us has to keep us in the manner we’ve become accustomed to.” Another statement guaranteed to start him off.
He followed her upstairs and wondered if he should get dressed, or get back in bed. Not a lot of reason to rush. For the moment, he thought, he would lay on top of the bed and enjoy the view as his wife stood naked in front of her full-length wardrobe mirror, looking for who knows what, stretching and preening prior to dressing.
“Forget it,” as if reading his thoughts. “I have neither the time nor inclination.”
“What?” The hurt tone of the maligned male. “I’m just looking.” In all honesty, looking, was all he had in mind anyway. This unemployment lark had apparently not only robbed him of his ability to work, but also his ability to create an erection of any type.
Jill was twelve years younger and looked even more. Nice figure, very little fat. Whereas he had almost doubled his waist size in the married second-half of his existence.
I’m not old, he thought to himself again, then remembered the pictures he had printed out, in his unemployed time filling way, the day before. They were from a family get together they had attended a few weeks earlier, his first thoughts on looking at them: God, I look old!
Fully dressed now, she pecked him on the cheek and headed for the door. “Don’t forget that chap is coming to look at the car at eleven.”
He had forgotten or at least pushed it from his mind. They were selling his car. Coming down to a one car family. Hers. His car was on HP and, if this unemployment were to last very long, it was a bill they could well do without. It just made him feel even worse. It was hard not to feel aggrieved aggression to his previous employer who, after starting a new company in China, in his son's name, had taken the UK company into bankruptcy thereby not having to pay his workforce, some of whom had been there for over twenty years, any redundancy-as well as not paying the tax, national insurance or creditors. After which, although he couldn’t prove it, the work went to China. The rich get richer and the workers? Sod the workers, or so it seemed. Indeed, so it has always seemed.
Half-past ten found him out on the drive giving the car a quick wash ready for inspection. The day was a lot like his mood, overcast. What would go next, he found himself wondering. Would they have to sell the house? They didn’t need the three-bed detached house now that Mike, their one and only child, had flown the nest and got his own place. At least his job was safe. He worked for the only real growth industry-the Jobcentre.
A terrace house would be cheaper, but in this market would theirs even sell? And if it did, they would probably lose a fortune on it. Then, Jill would probably leave him for a better provider, maybe a toy boy without the need of little blue tablets, though the doctor did say the need for them would probably be short lived.
She said, she knew it wasn’t his fault and something would come up sooner or later. He wasn’t exactly sure to what she was referring, but chose to let it go. It was amazing just how much difference lack of money did make to a relationship.
“Mr. Bruce ?”
He hadn’t even heard the two men come up his drive, so intense had been his mind numbing concentration on his self pity.
“We’re here to see the car.”
Three quarters of an hour later, both men and his car had gone, to be replaced by an envelope full of ten pound notes and an even deeper depression. Now he was a public transport man. And, to top it off, all the ten pound notes, as well as a few extra, had to go to the finance company. He felt bereft.
On auto pilot for the next five hours, he did the vacuuming, washing up, made the beds and prepared the evening meal. He had very quickly become, a house husband. Now there’s nothing wrong with being a house husband, he concluded, as long as it was from choice, but this wasn’t from choice. This was most definitely forced upon him. But what could he do? He had applied for loads of jobs; been to many interviews, passed lots of literacy and numeracy tests, and still no job: Always the same result, 'we are sorry but you have been unsuccessful on this occasion.' He was over qualified for almost all of the available jobs; was surrounded by younger people at the interviews and, in fact, many of the people doing the interviewing had been younger than him. He could only put his failure down to his age. No matter what he said, how often he said it, how loud he shouted: He was, in their opinion, too old.
“What did you do today?” She asked as they lay reading in bed later that night.
“What did I do? What do you think I did! Look around you. This place doesn’t clean itself you know. The food doesn’t just miraculously appear on the table. The car doesn’t sell itself! What did I do!"
She just looked at him over the rim of her reading glasses, that condescending look that said without words, now you know what I have had to do for the past twenty years, as well as a job.
“Yes, alright,” he managed without apology before they both returned to their reading, brushing over the frustration that both knew was unavoidable in a disastrous worldwide economy.
An hour or so later, after finishing reading, switching off the lights and mutually deciding that tonight was not the right time to see if his reluctant libido was once more performing, they both drifted off to sleep. He had always thought that the phrase-drifted off to sleep or even drifted apart was very apt for them, as they slept in a water bed. One of life’s comforts he was definitely not going to give up without a fight.
The following morning he woke with the stirrings of sexual interest. The morning glory of his youth seeming to have put in a surprise appearance but, as he turned over to inform his wife of this miraculous news, he noted with depressed resignation, the swift collapse of his fair-weather friend as his body used the blood to power other parts of his now mobile anatomy. Getting out of bed, he chose not to mention the occurrence and went off to prepare the breadwinner’s breakfast.
“How the hell does this thing work?” Had he said that out loud? He had meant to only think it. It was only nine weeks since he took up this domestic existence and he was already talking to himself. What was worse, he was actually carrying on a conversation with himself. Is this a bi-product of domestic appliances, he wondered, as he tried in vain to understand the workings of their Dyson washing machine. Why did they make everything so complicated? Why was this thing not emptying properly and what the hell was a coin trap?-The thing most likely to be the problem, according to the manual he had found on the internet. At least he could still use his computer to good advantage. It took the majority of the morning to work out how to get the seemingly jammed coin trap door to open, at which point the residual water managed to flood the floor, only to find the source of the problem was two of his brass collar stiffeners from the shirt he had washed the day before, along with a wad of paper from his pocket, both of which he now realised he should have removed before washing. The things you learn at fifty-six! Of course now, having taken so long to get the machine to work, it had started raining so he decided to leave everything in the drum until a better day presented itself and went to watch TV.
Day time television led to day time drinking and by twelve-thirty he found himself in the bar of The Admiral’s Daughter, a pub that liked to think of itself as a hotel. In fact it only had four letting bedrooms and most of those were empty at any given time.
“Pint of lager, is it?” The new arrival, Bill Stickers, dressed in his usual leather jacket which always, to Jack, seemed too young for him, gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder. Companionship, the real need of the daytime drinker.
“That would be most acceptable William, though I’m not sure I have enough cash to get you one back if you’re drinking your usual wallet-emptying concoctions.”
“No, just Scotch today, Mr Bruce.” He turned to survey the bar. “Not many in today.”
“All fallen victim to the work ethic, no doubt.” Lucky sods, he thought but failed to add.
“Either that or down the job centre. Got to keep your son in employment after all”
The fresh drinks arrived and both took a moment to enjoy a deep drink. “Anything happening for you,” sometimes his purposely disguised Welsh accent more noticeable, as now. “Job wise?”
“No,” another deep drink accompanied this answer. “Not unless I want to be a toilet cleaner anyway.”
“Well the country’s in the toilet so you would have lots of work.” Spoken like the true Welsh radical that at heart he was.
“And how have you managed to get out during shop opening hours?”
Bill owned the waterbed shop that had supplied his bed and they had, in the several years since, become firm friends.
“Not much happening today so I left Silvia in charge.”
“Silvia?” He could never keep up with Bill's love life.
“Met her in a chat room, on the internet," never any embarrassment at his dating methods. "She’s staying for a couple of days.”
A couple of days was about as long as most of them lasted. In his youth, Bill had been lead guitarist with a reasonably well known pop group. Those formative years seemed to have set in motion his love of one night stands, which had now graduated to a couple of days. Days usually spent with said women, cleaning his house and washing his clothes. And nights spent in wild abandon, proving just how good a waterbed could be for athletics as well as sleeping.
“I don’t know what you’ve got but if you can find a way of bottling it, I’m up for the job selling it.”
“I keep telling you mate, you’ve just got to be available and have a big...”
“Yes, alright! I get the picture.” In fact it was a mental picture that he could well have done without.
“Lucky in love and all that.”
Not that he envied Bill’s progression of women that much. He had been happy with his monogamy monotony as Bill was fond of calling it. “Nice to know it’s you who’s getting my share.”
“Thanks. Speaking of shares, my supposedly safe as houses, shares, as I remember them described by you, are now officially worthless. I can remember when banks used to pay you interest, now they only pay themselves and accept handouts from the government.”
“I can remember that, I think. We must both be old. What with bankers paying themselves obscene amounts in bonuses even though they declare huge losses, and having to be bailed out by you and me. Firms going bust every two minutes, house prices crashing through the floor! It’s enough to turn a man to drink. Same again?”By two o’clock, and being more than a little inebriated, they were both well on their way to loudly setting all the world’s troubles to rights, much to the irritation of the other drinkers who by that time had filled the bar. Daytime drinking it seemed, was doing its best to support the economy of hostelries and breweries.
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