A Short Story Of Mine

joanne-hale-trials It was later than usual when Joanne Hale awoke on a fine Tuesday in June. She didn’t want to though. She was in a deliciously deep sleep where no dreams could touch her awareness. “Mum!..mum! Wake up! The shop!” a familiar voice accompanied an urgent hand pushing into her upper right shoulder.

“Uh? Wha?” her deep-voiced tones reassured the adolescent boy leaning across the large woman tangled up in the bedclothes. She held his hand and squeezed it briefly. She rolled over with some difficulty, the green duvet weighing on her before she could orientate her eyes to the physical world again. “OK love, let mamma get dressed. You have opened up for me?”

“Of course mum, I wake up on time!” he was very conscientious for an eighteen year old. In fact he had become her most reliable employee. Indeed, he was her only employee most of the time. Her motto was: can you really trust someone who’s not family where the till is concerned? “Good boy, I’ll soon be down, flower.” This was her pet name for the human being she loved more than anyone else.

He was thin, medium brown hair and glasses, only slightly higher than his mother, who measured 1.73 metres tall. She had decided to pull him out of the state school after a series of incidents when he was eleven. That was when the other pupils began to bully Nick for being a ‘mummys boy’ and a ‘fag’. Online and at school, it was relentless. He couldn’t defend himself and the teachers were useless.

It seemed the bullies had more rights than the victims where the principal was concerned.

Finally, Joanne was answering obscene phone calls from some of the worst offenders. Puerile boys bellowed threats to commit indecent acts involving her and Nick. She felt violated as their words tumbled through her mind. She wondered how the parents of such creatures behaved, did they know what their sons were up to?

These calls would upset entire evenings and she would shake and check all of the doors and windows afterwards in an effort to make them intruder proof. One day a gang of boys strolled into her book store and began taunting her with more filth. Her heavy breasts received most of the lewd remarks. A steady stream of hip hop music accompanied the gang’s vile comments emanating from their mouths.

She visualized herself mowing down the whole lot of them while they made inane finger gestures so familiar from trashy music videos. A number of customers froze in shock before helping her rid the premises of the delinquents. The police were called and the whole nauseating business involved parents, who turned out to be as coarse as their offspring, and nearly a court case against Joanne before charges were dropped on both sides.

The typical response from the boys uncaring caregivers was the mantra “he says he ain’t done nuffing!” This sent enough alarm bells ringing as to what environment she wanted her son to be shaped by. A sensitive youth like Nick was not going to survive such abuse. She had become victimized and worn down by it too.

The mild violence they did suffer would soon escalate to something more serious. She was so disturbed that she felt she had to home school him. Being a single mother with no one else to rely on for support she had made Nick see this was the best way for the two of them. Their bond grew incredibly close from then on.

She even gave him a list of ten words she never wanted to hear pass his lips. If he uttered any of the verboten phrases he would have to pay her one pound into a jar above the fridge. Nothing caused her so much rage as to hear men use certain words about women and their body parts. Lucky he never went down that road, and she was sure he must swear behind her back, but at least she wouldn’t have to hear it.

She knew he must feel she was a bit hypocritical because she could be coarse in front of him. He rarely rebelled though, and because of his bookish ways, was enthusiastic to shoulder the burden of the business alongside her. He had become a pleasant, well-rounded young man, lacking in all the dumbed downed hostility she noticed were common among many young guys his age.

Her comfortable two bedroom apartment was situated on the floor above the Seventh House, the new age themed book store she had founded two years previously. It paid to sleep above the workplace though. No tube station drama or rush hour traffic hold ups for this lady.

Gemini Bay is a thriving, modest city of one hundred and thirty thousand people. Lying on the south-east coast of England, Kent to be precise, it had rejuvenated her enthusiasm for life. Joanne had not lived anywhere else since leaving her home city of Leeds as a naive twenty year old fifteen years earlier.

Ten past ten! The shop should have been opened more than an hour ago and it will take me a while to get showered. She marched herself into the bathroom while disrobing in front of the full length mirror. Stepping under the shower nozzle she allowed herself to be punished with cold water for twenty seconds before warming it up.

Hail effing Mary! She scrubbed herself as quickly as possible. It was tourist season and she wanted the shop to recuperate after poor sales in the spring. She glided back into the bedroom and took the purple towel behind the door and tried to dry off her 48-30-40 figure as fast as she could.

Then she lightly massaged sandalwood oil all over her body before slipping into a white skirt and blouse, topped off with a violet-coloured cardigan, before heading for the connecting door. She paused to lock it just in case any strange customer managed to infiltrate behind the counter and find themselves on the stairwell leading to her home.

Her high heels clattered on the thirteen concrete steps down, her right hand always making sure to grip the wooden rail for support. She click-clacked her way loudly to the bottom. Once down she entered the rectangle shaped tea room. This linked, through an archway with slats, to the counter in the shop.

It was a very large room containing a long table, fridge, tea and coffee-making facilities, an old sofa plus half a dozen chairs and step-ladder. A green door to the right was marked simply Toilet in black letters. Joanne heard it flush and she started with fright, gripping her hand bag tightly, she retreated over to the kitchen sink just in case she needed some back up from the cutlery drawer.

“Oh that was a relief!” a small dark-haired woman sighed aloud as she emerged from the toilet. “You gave me such a fright, who are you?” Joanne demanded. A voice that was unmistakably from the north-east answered. “I needed the bathroom and the young boy out there said it was OK for me to use this one.” Jo relaxed. “Fine,” she smiled and followed the woman back into the shop.

Joanne walked past the counter and inspected everything. Nick had hoisted himself onto a black bar stool and was casually flicking through the morning newspaper. All the books, discs and display paraphernalia looked tidy and clean. The closed sign was facing her so he had done everything expected.

She strolled behind the counter as the Geordie woman browsed the Psychic section of books, loudly coughing while handling each Edgar Cayce title quite roughly. “Anything interesting?” Jo asked Nick in her smoky deep voice. “There might be an article here for you,” he said with an embarrassed grinning expression. He slid page five of the paper along for her eyes to gaze over.

The article contained: “Wunderbra! Court rules German bosses can order women to wear bras to work. If they refuse to wear a brassiere they can lose their job, flesh coloured or white bras will be the only colours acceptable..” Jo looked up at Nick indignantly. “Wow! Glad I don’t have to punch in the clock over in Deutsch land, with my wobbling whoppers I don’t think my bra line comes in those colours.”

Her voice was smooth and measured so the customers were unlikely to overhear. Most of the time she didn’t care if they did. They both had a good giggle over this, turning their backs to the customers before a respectable face could be generated again. Despite what outsiders might think the young man was not attracted to his mother or any other woman.

He was gay and their relationship was hardly like that of a mother and son. More like twins she had often thought. Nick had informed her that only two people had crossed the thresh-hold since he had opened up at nine sharp. No sales yet. Joanne walked around the book shelves with a cloth, lightly dusting and touching the spines gently.

She hoped to infuse a ‘buy me’ aura into them that would communicate with the customers. As she did this two middle-aged women and a young man entered the shop. They all split up and made for whatever section looked most appealing. Jo gave them all a lovely smile before retreating behind the counter. She nudged Nick’s elbow, “I’ve got that appointment at the health studio in forty minutes, remember?”

Nick’s face wrinkled with phoney disgust. “Oh yeah, some George Clooney look-a-like will be massaging you naked. What a turn off!” “Shush!” muttered Joanne, index finger to lips. “I will be serviced by a woman. Or so I’ve been told,” she said in a pompous tone of voice with a twinkle in her brown eyes that delighted anyone looking into them.

It was the best health resort in Gemini Bay and it was named Dans Le Rose. Joanne walked in at exactly eleven am for her massage appointment. The spa attendant, a mature Polish lady with a name tag that said “Danuta”, escorted Joanne along the corridor before holding open the changing room door. “Enjoy your massage,” she smiled. Jo smiled back as she passed through the door. “I will.”

The dressing room was empty, as it often was at this time of day, and Joanne took her time. She felt better for not having breakfast this morning. She set down the white robe and slippers the attendant had handed her, and hung her purse in a locker. It was peaceful in the large room, the scent of fragrant lotions and soaps filling the air, and pretty flowers on the counter tops.

There were two showers, as well as a steam room, and plenty of extra towels and robes were folded nearby. Just being in this room was helping Joanne to relax, and she took a long, deep breath, rolling her shoulders, to help ease the tension some more. Sitting on a bench, she pulled off her shoes and pantyhose, then stood to place them in her locker.

She stood with her eyes closed as she slowly unbuttoned her blouse, allowing herself to enjoy the sensation of gradually emerging skin. Her blouse parted, and those heavy breasts tumbled free. Her hands continued over her midriff, revelling in the feel of bare skin, and then paused at the top of her skirt. Her eyes still closed, she smiled slightly as she dipped her hands beneath her waistband, enjoying the warmth and secrets concealed there.

She slowly pushed her skirt down over her hips, where it drifted onto the floor. She shrugged out of her blouse, feeling the silky movement of it over her arms as it, too, fell to the floor. A massage, she knew, was best with nothing between her body and the masseuse’s hands, so without hesitation she pushed her pale blue panties over her hips as well.

In a swift, practiced motion her bra joined the pile, then she bent over to grab the clothes and place them in her locker. She closed the door, then turned, nude, to gather the robe and slippers she had left on the bench. At that moment, the door opened, and Joanne looked up to see an intense looking young Japanese woman with hair in a ponytail style.

She was wearing the white, flowing pants and shirt of the spa uniform, but she didn’t introduce herself. Instead, she stared at Jo, her eyes widening as she gazed at the naked woman before her. Jo watched as the other woman’s eyes travelled down her body, and she couldn’t help the surge of pleasure she felt at being the object of such a look.

Jo smiled. “Are you here for me?” she asked. The small Japanese woman started, and her eyes moved back to meet the big beautiful woman’s. “Yes, I’m here to…I’m Kasumi, and I’ll…” She closed her eyes briefly and took a breath, then started again. “If you’re Joanne, then I’ll be your masseuse today.” “Perfect,” Jo told her, unmoving. “I’m looking forward to this.”

Kasumi’s blush deepened, and her hands fluttered slightly before she clasped them in front of her. “That’s good. Um, would you like me to come back in a few minutes?” “No, of course not,” Jo assured her, and finally, unfolded the robe and wrapped it around her. Once the slippers were on her feet, she moved toward Kasumi.

“I’m all yours,” she smiled as she brushed her body past Kasumi’s to open the door. Jo was naturally sensual and liked to tease. They moved quietly together through the dimly lit hallway, past doorways that opened into rooms prepared for a variety of spa treatments. Kasumi led her to a room at the end of the hall.

In the soft lighting Joanne could see the carefully arranged white linens on the bed, and could smell the soothing scent of lavender in the air. “I’ll give you a moment to get comfortable,” Kasumi murmured, backing out and closing the door behind her. Joanne took her time, shedding the robe and moving about the room, running her fingers over the soft bed covers, while filling her lungs with the aroma of the room.

She was feeling relaxed now, and eager for the feel of warm, gentle hands on her fine soft flesh. Sighing, she slid under the cool sheets, turning so that she was lying on her front, her face pillowed comfortably on the massage bed. Just as she did so, there was a soft knock on the door. Kasumi slipped back into the room. Jo couldn’t see her, lying as she was, but she could hear her moving around.

She turned her head slightly at the sound of rustling cloth, and in the darkened room saw that Kasumi was removing every stitch of clothing! Effing Aida thought Joanne. Kasumi saw her looking, and said, “I find it easier to work in my birthday suit.” Jo gasped at this, shocked by the stranger’s informality and mastery of crude English expressions.

She could feel a faint spasm of fear from somewhere deep inside herself. Was there something wrong with this girl? “Are you comfortable?” continued the Japanese girl in a slightly harsh manner. Joanne forced a smile. “Very much so.” Kasumi’s hands were warm and soft, rubbing the massage oil between her palms first to warm it.

She placed a thin warm sheet across the client’s lower half, the buttocks to the ankles were now covered. Then Joanne felt capable fingers blending in to her skin all over her back. For long minutes there was silence, broken only by the slow jazz music wafting through the room, as the Japanese girl moved from one part of the client’s body to another.

The sounds from the rest of the spa were muted, unobtrusive, and Jo finally felt completely relaxed enough to be able to sigh girlishly without embarrassment. It had been a stressful few days leading up to this. It was so relieving to feel loose again. She began to focus on Kasumi, imagining what it would look like, watching the two of them.

One woman, half-naked, spread out on the narrow bed and glistening with oil. The other woman, completely naked, smoothing her hands over that body, pressing her own body closer as she strained to reach each limb. Suddenly, Joanne didn’t feel so relaxed any more. Instead, she became more and more aware of the places Kasumi was touching with fingers that were becoming less gentle.

A deep caress went over her calf and up the length of her thigh. Then down again. Jo’s heart rate was speeding up now. Did she imagine it, or had Kasumi’s fingers lingered on her thigh? Had she felt those fingers brushing the sensitive inside of her leg, before they resumed the massage? Joanne was breathing more quickly now and wondered if the Japanese girl had noticed.

Probably the look she had given Jo in the locker room had been shock, the flush of embarrassment rather than interest. She probably had no other desire other than to give the client a good massage. Probably. Finishing with the client’s legs, and placing the sheet over that area again, Kasumi moved up toward Joanne’s head.

The voluptuous red-head could feel the masseuse, inches away, brushing her thin body against the bed as she reached across to run her hands though Joanne’s hair. This became a gentle neck massage. It felt as if Kasumi’s body pressed more insistently against the bed.

Was that breathing all her own? she wondered, or was Kasumi breathing more heavily now as well? The Japanese girl asked her to turn over. Jo felt her body trembling as she lifted herself and shifted onto her back. Her bosoms jiggled for a few seconds before they were still, in that comical manner all heavy ones do. Her large aureole felt terribly exposed to the gaze of the masseuse.

Jo cursed her nipples for standing so erect. “Like storks” she whispered to herself. Kasumi’s hands suddenly consumed both mounds of flesh, pulling and squeezing each nipple then leaving them drop. She did this three times while the book seller cried out and stared at the Japanese girl’s eyes with shock. Kasumi gaze was inscrutably intense.

Joanne felt exploited. The masseuse looked at her sharply. “Nani?” Joanne was worried now. Can you cover me up, here, please?” she appealed to the masseuse. Tears welled up in her eyes. She quietly wept whenever she felt truly helpless or vulnerable. She kept swallowing saliva with tension as Kasumi reached out to pull the sheet up and over the breasts and upper arms.

Kasumi murmured through clenched teeth: “It’s my job to massage you. You are quite safe with me.” This partially relieved Jo, who blew air through her lips. She knew she had been groped though. It was stupid of me to take all my clothes off in the first place! She fumed to herself. She began to daydream as the masseuse even placed a small face towel over Jo’s nether region.

She was back in her final year at school, seventeen and hoping to go to university. Her History teacher, Mr Pascoe, had other plans though…It was a late spring afternoon and he asked her to stay behind as he mentioned a problem with her latest assignment. The locked door, the desk coming up to meet her in rythmn with his exertions. Seeing the caretaker carrying grass clippings past the window as the History teacher’s grunting filled her ears.

The joy, the seediness, the shame. Nine months later her son was born and her father committed suicide over what had happened to his daughter. Mr Pascoe gave her a lump sum of fifty thousand pounds in return for being free of Nick, Joanne or any legal responsibilities pertaining to either of them.

She suddenly felt a hand nudge her shoulder, her reverie broken by present moment reality. “Wake up Joanne! Your massage is over.” She felt as if she could sleep all afternoon.


Back in the locker room she was half-dressed when her mobile rang. She scrambled for it in her bag. “Hello” she cried too loudly into the hand set. It was Ray’s familiar Scottish voice babbling in a stressed tone. “Jo, I’m sorry to bother you at the shop but something has happened to my wife. Angie was in a car accident in Perthshire, lost control on a remote country road. She’s dead! There was nothing they could do.”

At first Jo thought it might be a joke.

She felt offended that he had rung her during office hours on a weekday. He’d just broken the first rule of their ten month affair. The news made her feel scared and numb. “I’m sorry Ray,” was all she could find to say. He wanted to see her as soon as possible. “Not today, Ray. I need time to think. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” Ending the phone call she shakily got dressed.

The next day Joanne met up with Ray to catch a London to Aberdeen train. She had decided this unexpected offer of a long journey would help take her mind off the health spa incident. Did that girl grope me? her mind kept asking. Almost immediately they got off on the wrong foot. She did not like the wide grin on his face. You couldn’t call it a smile. He looked like the cat that had got the cream.

It was raining persistently as they seated themselves on the juggernaut. As they sped through the Home Counties she kept flicking through two copies of ‘Heat’ magazine. Ray seemed to be half way through a Tom Clancy thriller. That type of book and author was too dry and masculine for Joanne. Ray had thick light brown hair, he was clean-shaven and had an easy-going demeanour.

This seemed to increase the feeling of uneasy guilt Joanne felt creeping all over her. A woman she had never met was dead. A woman who had been unaware of the betrayal her husband and Jo had been conducting behind her back. Ray was dressed in a green bomber jacket, grey trousers with a white shirt. His cheerfulness was annoying.

Jo had dressed in black denims, with a navy coloured blouse and brown jumper. Over this she wore a cream coloured light rain slicker. She was in a funereal mood since the news of Angie’s death had rocked her. “I hope there’s a night train coming back” she suddenly told him. “I don’t want to stay there..” He glanced at her in surprise.

“In Aberdeen?”

“The house.”

“My house.”

“Her house too.”

As their journey bore down on Luton she felt real misgivings about this trip he had insisted on conducting. She thought he was scavenging for material possessions that would only remind him of Angie. In the light of the tragedy it didn’t seem right. She wished he could be a little less tight fisted toward things. It offended her generous nature.

“If I don’t retrieve many of my belongings they will end up going under the auctioneer’s hammer ” he whined as if a victim of a grave injustice. Let them! she wanted to snap at him but she could only stare at the drizzle running down the windows in silence. She still felt in shock at what had happened in the health spa. I was indecently assaulted! her mind had come to its conclusion.

  At that moment she received a text from Nick back at the Seventh House.

“Mum, you do know you can call me any time you need to. I can even catch a plane up there. I know its supposed to be a pleasant trip up but you never know.” She smiled upon reading this, he was such a worrier, typical Pisces. Joanne felt reassured and secretly pleased that he was always looking out for her.

Usually he was overprotective and she had to draw the line quite harshly with him, but right now she had a depressing feeling he may be right. She could only type: ‘train trip a downer. No need for any heroic flights to rescue me. Everything OK back home?’

His response arrived was swift: ‘I’ve seen off the last few customers and locked up. Archie and I are having a drink in the Green Lion pub’. This was Nick’s boyfriend. This made her feel even more frustrated that her late afternoon was so abnormal while her son could just relax in familiar surroundings.

“Ray, let’s go back to London!” she blurted out as the train slowed to a halt along the crowded platform. “Nonsense” he jeered. “We’re not going to rob Angie’s clothes, ya know. Don’t you want to see where I used to phone and text you from?” “Not very much.” “Well, it was from an old brown table in the kitchen. We can bring it back with us as a memento to how romantic I am.”

She couldn’t win most arguments with him and this was no exception. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. At least the seating was reasonably comfortable. She had no idea how long she had slept, waking with a start. “Next stop, Aberdeen” Ray hissed into her left ear. It was very dark outside now as she stared at the swiftly passing scenery.

Telegraph poles, jagged shaped office blocks and the lights of suburban housing estates all blurred into one another. A yellow taxi awaited them in the rail way’s car park. An old man asked them to “call me Tweed” before helping them into the back seat. Joanne’s short red hair needed to dry off while Ray’s spirits refused to be dampened.

As the old man accelerated them away Ray tapped his thighs with a drumming motion.” And we’re off!” he pointlessly announced. Jo dabbed at her hair with some pink tissues while she stared at Aberdeen’s main road traffic. “Anyone would think you’d just won the lottery, Ray.” “And anyone would think you’d just undergone a very nasty operation.”

Traffic lights illuminated the pedestrians rushing to and fro. The people looked sinister in all this darkness and wet. It was her first glimpse of the Scots en masse. For a woman who had rarely travelled out of her homeland, her recently widowed Scottish boyfriend made her feel very English. Growing up in Leeds, her working class parents had noticed her social-climbing ways early on. They scolded her on many an occasion for it.

Her yearning to be middle class was so pronounced that she’d consciously diluted her West Yorkshire accent, adopting instead a curious BBC-styled tone as much as she could. “Putting on airs and graces are we?” her mother had sneered on her last trip back. The journey to Ray’s marital home only took forty minutes from the city. He explained on the way there that the site had originally been a mill house.

“I knocked down a few walls and raised the ceilings to make it into a live-able home for us. It took oceans of paint as well of course.” He squeezed her hand with a smile. As they alighted from the taxi Ray paid old man Tweed. “Pick us up at eight o’clock,” he informed the driver who just merely grunted. Joanne looked at her watch, 4:55pm.

The yellow vehicle drove off into the shadows. The couple raced the fifteen steps to the sturdy front door. Ray groped for his keys and at last they were in dryness. “Give me you’re coat, darling” he said as he ushered her into what could be called a lobby full of hooks along the wall. He took off his green jacket and hung it up.

“No thanks,” she said resentfully. “I’ll hang on to mine.” “Come on, you can’t wear a wet thing like that for hours. You’ll catch your death.” She reluctantly parted with it then looked at her new surroundings. While he hung her dripping cream coat on the hook he suddenly said: ”No white carpet.” “And no purple walls” she answered him with a smile.

It was a private joke between them. In her present apartment she had to make do with wooden floors and plain brown walls. Her ideal interior design would be purple walls and white carpeting in every room if she were to ever possess her dream house. He brought it up from time to time when she seemed low.

He led her into the living room, all high beamed ceilings and very open plan. He pointed at a wooden door. “Kitchen through there, bathroom over there, dining area over there.” It was all a mixture of green and grey. White sheet coverings were draped over the chairs and table. “Where are the bedrooms?” she asked. “Three bedrooms upstairs” he pointed at a brown staircase in the middle of the room. The whole decor was like stepping back into the 1970s.

Ray pulled a dust cover off a three seater. “You sit down while I make us some coffee.” He closed the kitchen door behind him and she explored his lair. Impressive grandfather clock here. Acoustic guitar there. The whole place seemed musty though. Her nostrils wrinkled with displeasure. How could anyone be happy here? Old and lonely were the phrases that summed it up for her.

The outer world seemed light years away. Shivering with disdain, she lifted the white sheets off the unimpressive beige chairs and strolled under the staircase and back into the lobby near where they came in. There was a door that looked intriguing. She tried the handle twice. Nothing. “This door is locked, Ray!” she called out in the direction of the kitchen.

The last half of the tale is herehttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CAWDNCC



  1. This made for an excellent read, I’m excited to see how it ends! I’m definitely picking up your ebook. Looking forward to more tales in the future! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s very kind of you, thanks! 🙂


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