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Subject: {ASSM} "A Bigger Man" {Bronwen} (MF, rom) A "Write Club" story
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2001 17:10:02 -0400
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Written for Write Club duel vs Father Ignatius, who unfortunately had
to withdraw.

The challenge words:
Bronwen
husband
pub
Tinkerbell
hemorrhoid
clunk
Carnival
steeple
Canute


                                "A Bigger Man"

                                     (MF, rom)
                              by BronwenSM

                                   @---}---}-----


I was sitting in the pub breaking up with my boyfriend. Or trying to.
Every time he turned up again -- plastered, angry, beseeching --  I'd
persuade him to go down the pub. Anything to get him out of the flat.
Give the guy some privacy and I knew he would make a scary, depressing
scene. He was a great one for scenes, as well as a bit of shoving.  At
least in the pub he usually looked no worse than morose.

So there I was, sitting in the pub trying to break up with my
boyfriend. For what seemed the millionth time. He had two good cards.
Threats of suicide and threats of trashing the flat. Which I'd moved
into to get some geographical distance between us. Which belonged to
my mother's cousin. Ho hum.

Here we were again, head to head in what to him was emotional high
drama. In the beginning I'd cared too, but by now I'd seen through his
crap. Today it was no more than a low grade, profoundly dispiriting
nuisance. All I wanted was to get rid of the bugger. Perhaps I could
persuade him to ... Leave town? Eat cyanide? Take a long walk off a
short pier?

Idly, I traced my finger round a beer mat. "Tell you what ..." I
started hopefully.

"I need a slash," he announced. "I'll be back."

Of course you bloody will, I thought as I stared bleakly at his
departing back. Back, and back, and back. To the crack of doom. He's
an unstoppable force. I've got as much chance of getting rid of this
bastard as bloody King Canute stopping the North Sea breakers. God,
I'm bored with this. And I raised my head to gaze round the room; just
to take some sort of interest in my surroundings. A mental breather.

All sorts of people in the pub. It was lunchtime and the office
workers were in, and the labourers. And the alcoholic actors holding
court in the middle of the bar. And a big scruffy man.

He was standing in the far corner, chatting to another guy. But as I
looked at him full on he looked up. And something came over me. Don't
laugh. I just looked at him, and he looked back, mid-smile from some
joke he'd been sharing, and our eyes met and I saw something that
warmed me. He was kind. Where most people just look OK, or
preoccupied, or predatory, he looked kind. Really kind. Kind and
funny.  It cheered me up just looking at him. At which point he smiled
at me. At me alone. As if he knew me.

You know that fraction of a second when you realise you're staring
deep into someone's face without any reasonable precedent? I mean he
wasn't my friend or my brother or my anything.  He was a complete
stranger and I wasn't single. So as soon as I realised what was
happening I looked away quickly, feeling a bit exposed. 

And a moment later here was Mr Fun trudging back from the direction of
the Gents. Our eyes locked -- his stony, mine probably pretty
desperate. A very different experience. And he and I were back to the
interminable round of why it was a good idea we didn't see each other
any more (me) and how his passion for me would force him to do
something drastic if I didn't see reason (him).

But what I'd seen stayed with me. And it strengthened my resolve.
Nothing formal, just a vague feeling that if men could be kind why was
I putting up with this miserable low-life and his increasingly overt
threats?

The weird thing was that within a week or so I was introduced to the
big guy. When my won't-believe-he's-my-ex boyfriend wasn't around I'd
go to the pub on my own, play pool, hang out. And someone I already
knew said, "Hey, do you two know each other?"

He didn't look at me in any special way, just gave me a friendly grin
and nodded. And that was that. He became one of my circle. 

I knew an eclectic bunch of people at that time. A lot of actors (the
pub was near the television studios and two theatres), a piano tuner,
two CIA agents (desk only, great expenses), and some odds and sods of
varying degrees of sanity. I was kinda at a loose end -- middle of my
PhD, just enough money not to work and a bad case of prevarication.
For various reasons (professional or psychosocial) the people I knew
all seemed to have a lot of free time too. And we all liked to drink.
So we did a lot of hanging out. 

I love to cook and I had a lot of room, so Sundays meant everyone back
to mine after the pub for a roast lunch. Afterwards we'd sprawl out on
my huge sofas and watch a movie. Sometimes we'd watch porno and make
sarky cracks at the plot lines, the dialogue. All that kid stuff.

One Sunday there were eight of us for roast lamb, and I'd made apple
crumble and trifle as well. We were all feeling python-like, so when
the big guy said he was wiped out and could he slope off for a nap in
one of my bedrooms I thought nothing of it. I still didn't think
anything of it when he emerged shortly after everyone else had gone
home and offered to help clean up.

So he did and, as we mopped, we talked. He said he'd noticed that a
couple of times a week I met up with a bloke who wasn't from round
here. "I only ever see him with you and you both look so pissed off.
What's the story?"

I explained my dilemma and he asked relevant questions and made
helpful suggestions. He didn't get all "I'll sort him out for you,
baby", which was a blessed relief. Why can so few men understand that
when you've got one bloke threatening violence the last thing you
really want is *two* men beating shit out of each other?

For some reason, I didn't think back to that first encounter with the
big guy. I didn't realise anything important was happening. I only
went as far as thinking I had a new friend. A really good friend. He'd
listen to my troubles and, once he realised I'd already tried most of
his suggestions, he gave up trying to solve the boyfriend problem and
stuck to cheering me up. Silly things like persuading me to have a go
on the swings in the park, telling me jokes. Mostly there were other
people about, but it got to be routine that he'd stay on those early
Sunday evenings and we'd talk about the week. And if was during one of
those cosy evenings he came up with the nickname.

"I just wish I could get rid of him. He's totally irrelevant to my
life but he just hangs around being a major pain in the arse," I
wailed.

"He's a hemorrhoid," said the big guy, his face split in a grin. "That
bastard's nothing more than a bloody hemorrhoid!"

And after that we called my persistent ex 'The Hemorrhoid'. We made
cracks about getting rid of him with cream or by surgery, and the
bottom falling out of his world, and it cheered me up no end.

All the things we did cheered me up. I particularly enjoyed playing on
the swings. We went to the park with his daughter. She was a sweet
little girl and he saw her twice a week. His own ex lived a block or
two away.

"God, this is fun!" I called. "Nearly as good as a fun fair!"

"You like fun fairs?" he called back.

"Pure, pure heaven," I sang.

So when he pointed out the poster in Pizza Hut's window for Carter's
Steam Fair with traditional carnival rides and asked if I fancied
popping on the bus one Saturday afternoon,  I jumped at the idea. Not
a second thought. 

When we got off the bus I realised we were actually quite close to my
ex-boyfriend's part of town. But fun fairs really weren't The
Hemorrhoid's thing. And anyway, what was the problem?  I was only
going to the fair with my friend.  

We went on the waltzer, and then the huge wooden boat swings. I hung
on the bar at one end behind all the seats full of people. He hung on
the other, behind the seats on that side. And the great painted barge
swung up to the vertical and back with a clunk every time while we
laughed right into each other's eyes.

It was when we were still reeling from the swings that we saw the
roundabout. And it brought me up short. It was the ultimate
roundabout.  A vision of ornate lettering, tiny mirrors, twirling gilt
poles and painted horses with glossy red nostrils.  I danced on the
spot like a little girl.

"You go on," he said. "I'm dizzy. I'll watch."

And on I hopped. Round and round while the happy music played loud in
my ears and we waved every time I passed him. It was a moment of pure
joy. He took a picture of me. I still have it.

Later we ate candy floss, and tried to drop ping pong balls into
goldfish bowls. He turned to me and said seriously, "Two goldfish in a
tank.."

"Yes?" I said, waiting.

"And one said to the other 'Do you know how to drive this thing?'"

It was while we were laughing that I saw the Hemorrhoid. He was
looming his way through the clusters of people. Violence in a
floor-length leather coat. He cast a shadow in the sunlight. 

My stiffening made my friend look round. We were standing side by side
under the gaily-striped canopy of the goldfish stall. We'd been
laughing, our heads close together. Suddenly I was aware how The
Hemorrhoid  would see it. But this wasn't how it was. I'd just come to
the fair with my best mate. Yes, he was my best mate. But nothing
more. He'd just said "Fancy going to the fair?" This wasn't a
boyfriend thing. It wasn't a date. Can first dates happen in broad
daylight?

All the thinking happened very quickly. And then my mind went blank. I
was scared. What if he hit me? What if he hit us both? What if there
was a fight? But it was too late. The Hemorrhoid was upon us. Right up
close. I'd seen that expression before. It left bruises.

"What's this, Bronwen?" he started, but I didn't have time to answer.

"We're having a good time," my friend said. "She's having a good time.
Is that a problem?"

And then I suddenly became aware of how big my big guy was. And he was
doing something. Some man thing. He hadn't moved but he *had* changed.
His body was different. He and Hemorrhoid were staring in each other's
faces. It was as if they were doing some sort of calculation. I've
seen dogs do something like it, but I'd never seen men do it. It went
on for well over a minute. And my big guy was calm and went on being
calm, while the Hemorrhoid was getting angrier. Out of the corner of
my eye I saw a couple of guys from the stalls kinda clustering. They
were getting prepared. But there was no need. The Hemorrhoid took a
breath and suddenly seemed to get smaller. 

"No. Not a problem," he said. And he walked backwards a couple of
steps with his eyes on both of us. Then he gave me a long look that I
knew was supposed to make me feel guilty, turned and walked slowly
away.

I watched him go and turned to look into the face of my best friend. 

"What happened?" I asked.

"It's over," he said. But it wasn't. The Hemorrhoid was over, but it
took my big guy ten minutes or so to get back to normal and start
smiling again. The testosterone was coming off him in waves.

"Yes, but what happened?" I asked, baffled. Not a word, not a blow.
I'm so dense about man things. The way he explained it was that it was
instead of a fight. He wasn't going to fight but he made sure The
Hemorrhoid knew that it wasn't worth starting one. He was also telling
The Hemorrhoid that I was with him now, though he forgot to mention
this at the time.

We went home after that: got on the bus and walked back to my place. I
felt as though someone had hit me hard several times with a pillow. We
talked a bit and I cried for a bit, from relief mainly, and the drama
of it all.  In the end I fell asleep on the rug in the living room. 

I was woken by a call from the other room. "Come and see what I've
done!" came a cheery voice. 

When I walked into my bedroom I was amazed. It was beautifully tidy
and my bed was made with fresh linen. I could see all this by the
light of my bicycle. My bicycle which was carefully decorated with
sparkling Christmas lights. It must have taken ages. It looked so
terribly pretty and daft. And my big guy was standing there, smiling
proudly.

I looked at him and understanding awoke me gently. I felt like
Tinkerbell. Someone believed in me. Love could be having a good time.
Love could be kind. Love could be fun. 

I stepped into the room, and walked right up to him. Chest to chest,
so that he'd put his arms about me. Which he did. And I lifted my face
to his and looked into his eyes. And then he kissed me. Which is what
I wanted.

The undressing bit was a bit of a blur, though I remember the "clunk"
it made when his silly rock 'n' roll belt hit the floor. And we never
got under those fresh sheets. We were standing in each other's arms,
kissing and kissing and kissing. And then he raised his head and
cupped my face in his hands and said "You've no idea how much I've
been waiting for this."

A rush of glorious heat poured through me and all sorts of feelings
sparkled inside. I realised a million things but I didn't have time to
think them out just now. 

 I was so wet that it was no trouble at all just to topple slowly
backwards onto the bed and draw him into me as we fell. Every last
inch of him was as deep inside me as it could go by the time we
landed. And as we landed I went into orgasm without any excuse at all
and during the ensuing hours I made the happy discovery that my big
guy had immense self-control and some great new games.

We didn't stop making love apart from brief breaks to eat and wash for
several months. Perhaps that's an exaggeration, but it was our main
preoccupation. Everything else we did was an interlude in our
love-making.

Which is how I met my husband. Because within nine months we were
married. The whole glorious performance. Top hats, white lace, and a
church with a choir -- even a steeple. All our friends came. But not
The Hemorrhoid.

                                   @---}---}-----

                        (C) 2001 BronwenSM



editor's notes about British terms used:
 
A 'fun fair' is a small traveling carnival.

(Bronwen speaks)
"A waltzer is a carousel-shaped horizontal ride with a series of round
cars - half bench seat, half foot space with a bar to keep you in.
These seat four -- at a pinch. You don't share cars with strangers, so
it's usually just the two of you. These cars are set into circular
tram tracks. And the floor beneath them goes over rollers so it gives
a sort of wavy effect. As the whole thing goes round and round like a
conventional carousel the individual cars also revolve on their own
circular tracks. So you're going round, going round. The whole world
revolves and your face is forced up to gaze dizzily at the whirling
multicoloured lights overhead. It's glorious."

'sarky' is short for 'sarcastic'

'have a slash' should be clear in context: 'take a leak'


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reserved by its author unless explicitly indicated.
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