A 21st century tale
By Eve’s Rib
11: THE PLAN
When he got home there was a message waiting on the answerphone.
“Mate,” said Trigger’s voice, “the fightback begins! The Orpington branch of Men Matter has a date with the matriarchs, my son. Be a part or regret it for ever. Cock and Maid, five o’clock. Delete this message: tell the gender enemy nothing!”
Poor Trigger’s enjoying his moment of espionage, thought Leo, deleting the message as bidden. He didn’t think he had the stomach for an adventure, but he was part of Men Matter now, and if he thought that being a member was sad, it was nothing compared to the guilt he’d feel at doing nothing.
Guilt! He had guilt all right. But Kelly provoked more of it than Trigger ever could. Leo had never been unfaithful to Gina before, and although he’d enjoyed himself enormously and there was currently no sex to be had at home, he was pensive all the way to the meeting.
The Orpington branch turned out to be Trigger and a little Irishman named Sean whom Leo dimly remembered seeing at Clyde Rock’s stirring lecture. The two of them looked a bit shabby and shifty crouching at their beer-spilt pub table, and he felt a certain self-satisfaction in knowing that he was shafting Kelly on the side while those two probably hadn’t had a woman in months.
“Is this it?” he said.
“This is the acorn that grows into a national movement,” said Trigger. “The seeds of great beginnings.”
He had already drunk a few.
“Sean’s the man with the plan,” Trigger went on, putting an arm around his henchman. “This man has the tactics of a general. Let him have it, mate.”
Sean, rocking back and forth in his chair, outlined the assault. Dressed as Superman, Batman and The Spirit, they would —
“Hold on,” said Leo. “Who’s The Spirit?”
Sean looked taken aback. “Don’t you know your comics? The Spirit’s only one of the icons of comics noir. He’s only one of the great heroes of the golden age!”
“He may be an icon of comics noir, but nobody’s bloody heard of him! What’s his costume like?”
“Well, it’s kind of a suit, forties like, with a shape over his eyes...”
“A shape? A mask?”
“No, it’s kind of like drawn on.”
“Men in makeup,” said Leo. “A blow struck for manliness there, Trig.”
“Shut the piss up,” said Trigger. “You can be bloody Robin, then.”
“I ain’t being Robin,” said Leo. “Robin’s just a sidekick, and everyone says he plays for other side. Who’s Batman? Are you Batman?”
“You bet your arse I’m Batman!”
“You can go as bloody Catwoman for all I care,” said Sean testily. “Do you want to hear this or not?”
“I’m going to be Batman as well,” said Leo.
Once they had voted and agreed on having two Batmen, Sean explained his plan. The Working Men’s Club was the most important symbol in the area, in his opinion, and in a bid to reclaim it, they were going to string a banner over the sign to read MEN MATTER, then take over the building.
“No,” Trigger interrupted. “Men First.”
“That’s not the slogan,” said Sean. “Men Matter, not Men First.”
“This is Orpington branch,” said Trigger. “You’ve read Clyde: local solutions to local problems. This will be our local response to the national emergency. ‘Men Matter’ sounds like we’re whining for five minutes’ attention. No half measures, my son. We’re going to put the male back at the pinnacle from which he has not yet fallen.”
“I’m not sure about this plan, guys,” said Leo. “Won’t the owners just call the police and kick us out?”
“Yeah, sure,” said Sean. “But it’s not about hanging on to the place. It’s the publicity, ain’t it? All the press’ll turn up to see the siege, and we’ll get the men’s movement on the agenda. Blokes out there’ll see that there’s a fightback going on and rally to Clyde’s bugle call.”
“Christ, you two sound like each other,” laughed Leo. “Maybe I’ll help you out. I dunno.”
“Come on, mate,” Trigger urged him. “Don’t chicken out. Where are your balls? You can’t wimp out of it the moment the rough and tumble starts. Are you with us or against us?”
“He’s terrified,” said Sean with unexpected scorn. “Terrified of what wifey’ll say if she catches him out with the lads.”
“Give over,” snarled Leo. But he didn’t fancy the plan at all.
The next day, on his way to do the shopping, Leo paused at the window of Burton’s. There was a life-size advertising photo of a man in a long and elegant evening dress. He was smiling broadly with a glass of sherry in his hand, diamond earrings catching the candlelight. A woman in a casual trouser suit, sleek and short-haired, was smiling back. What shook Leo was that the scene, although artificially posed like all advertising, seemed so normal. It said simply, “This is how it is now!”
To the side stood a male mannikin adorned in the dress. A young male shop assistant, little more than a boy, prim in a blouse and short skirt, was adjusting the folds of satin. And Leo knew that he could go in, try it on, and no one need know. The staff would not care, because they were, after all, selling the dresses to men. Of course you’re curious, mate. It’s only natural. When a thing’s forbidden — well, sort of — you want to know what it’s all about. A dress is just a bit of cloth, for Christ’s sake. Why do we make such a fuss about it? It might even be nice!
Leo turned for home, shaking his head. This was the rot setting in. He must stick with Men Matter. Otherwise, he’d be swishing around making Brian look like Clint Eastwood.
Shortly after he arrived, he received a text message from Kelly: GET OVER HERE NOW 4 SOME FUN. He agonised for perhaps ten minutes about whether he should go, ashamed for cheating on Gina, and disturbed by Kelly’s dominating ways. But the lure of that voluptuous body overcame his weak scruples. He hurried over and found Kelly in a white top and briefs, showing off her shapely legs and pacing her house like a predator. It gave him the horn just to look at her.
“Brian’s looking for lampshades in Ikea,” she said. And pulled him to her to suck hungrily on his lips. He responded with months’ worth of unrequited libido.
But Kelly wasn’t happy with him. She wanted him prettier, she said, and led him upstairs. Didn’t he understand anything about makeup? No, said Leo, and I don’t want to. His reluctance lasted about ten seconds, however, because Kelly was already rummaging in Brian’s dresser, and her will was law. She put foundation on his face, grinning about ‘forgotten skills’, and added eyeliner and lipstick, while Leo sat quite still, loving the concentration she poured into him. She explained everything she did, and finally she stepped back and declared him done. Leo looked in the dresser mirror to see how he looked. He was amazed. His masculinity had disappeared and a soft, nervous person gazed back at him. Oh, Trigger, he thought. What would you say? What would Clyde Rock say?
When they were in bed, Kelly agreed not to hurt him this time. Instead she hurled verbal abuse. “You miserable shit,” she hissed. “You pretty little slut.” She seemed to feel Leo’s reluctant, shuddering pleasure at this treatment, and smirked as she pushed him down with her great, unchallengeable female body.
Leo left the house in a funk, swearing he wouldn’t let her treat him like that any more — that it was all over. But within a week, after arguing with Gina, he was back, and Kelly was pushing him to try on Brian’s lacy corsets and stockings. Leo shook his head, shoved her hands aside, trembling with excitement and shame. “The trouble with you,” said Kelly, “is you’re one of those men who’s scared of what they really want.”
He eventually surrendered and let himself be put in a pair of satin knickers, disturbed by the pleasure the shiny material gave him. Kelly backed him onto the bed and gripped his throat in one hand. “You dare move,” she hissed, and closed her eyes. “It’s MY pleasure that matters. Got it?” Leo lay still and devoured her beautiful arrogance. Above him Kelly swayed like a mighty snake, gently raising and lifting herself almost unaware he was there beneath her.
Finally she hissed again: “Slut...” Leo moaned. Kelly’s legs and thighs tightened their grip and she began to rock more rhythmically. “You’re a pretty boy slut. I’m going to make you my bimbo slave... you slut!” She seized his hair, pulled his head to the side, and twisted it as she rocked faster on top of him. She was so magnificent, so controlling, his universe folded in upon itself until all that existed was Kelly and her will. “Please,” he whispered.