Emily Ponsfford-Blink is a truly lovely girl, but while making love does make noises reminiscent of someone with a mouthful of red-hot ovenchips walking barefoot over several yards of very sharp carpet tacks, sort of: ‘ooh…aah…phew…oops…wow…aaagh!’ And she was at it now, perched above me like a jockey on a Derby winner, a vision of bronze silk-skin pulchritude, her hair a cascade of gold, tickling my chest.
Fearing a heart attack – hers not mine, I was feeling just fine – I enquired, ‘You all right, love?’
‘Oh yes!’ she panted. ‘Oh, Reg, you’re the greatest…’
‘Sorry, Ron…oh, my God, that is incredible…incredible!’
‘RON? Emily – it’s me down here! Russ! Russ Tobin!’
She wasn’t listening. She was well into the last furlong, out in front by a neck, coming up to the post fast. I didn’t get any sense out of her until she had collapsed beside me, curled under my arm, emanating fragrant heat, as edible as marshmallow.
Nevertheless, I was miffed. We fellas are always hearing about how women suffer hurt feelings when the guy mutters the wrong name while making love – and understandably – but it works the other way, too. Right then I was consumed with visions of this duo, Reg and Ron, as a brace of gladiators with muscles in their codpieces, doing to Emily what I’d just done, only more so. And I was contemplating bringing the subject up when she beat me to it with a diversionary tactic.
‘Russ’ she wheedled, cuddling closer and drawing lazy circles around my stomach with her educated fingers. ‘Would you do me a big favour?’
‘Another one?’ I grinned. ‘So soon?’
‘Would you lend me some money?’
And then – bewilderment.
You see, Emily – according to Emily – is the daughter of the Bolivian billionaire Baron Klaus Ponsfford-Blink who made his vast fortune by inventing the bully beef tin key. Now that’s clever. Any fool can come up with corned beef, or even the tin to put it in, but the genius lies in the key. Have you ever tried opening a square tin without the key?
‘Erm,’ I said, ‘correct me if I’m mistaken, but didn’t you tell me that daddy…’
‘I lied,’ she whispered contritely.
‘Ah. Then he…’
‘No, he isn’t. He didn’t. He wasn’t. He hasn’t.’
‘So what does he do?’
‘Time, mostly. He’s doing four-to-six in Brixton right now for GBH.’
‘You poor kid. And I take it his name, and therefore yours, is not Ponsfford-Blink?’
She giggled and grabbed Herc affectionately. ‘No, silly. My real name’s Philander Cattlegrid.’
‘You poor, poor kid. Stick to Ponsfford-Blink.’
‘So, Russ, will you?’ The wheedle was back in her tone. Give Emily – Philander - one thing, she can really wheedle, especially to the accompaniment of the educated digits.
‘Of course,’ I said, beginning to respond dutifully.
‘No! Not that. Will you lend me some money?’
‘How much is some?’
‘Only five hundred pounds.’
I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it. I was expecting her to say ten…twenty quid, and I’d have been pushed to scrape up that much.
‘Five hun…Emily, right now, I’m flatter than a roadkill. If tap water was tuppence a gallon, I’d be dead of thirst by teatime. I’m busted! I’m going to look for a job this afternoon.’
She rose on her elbow and gave me that disgusted, disbelieving, disillusioned, ‘you’ve taken advantage of me’ look that all women appear to have been endowed with at birth.
‘But this apartment! Last night you said it was your place!’
‘No – I said ‘your place or mine? Figure of speech.’
‘Then who’s is it?’
‘Belongs to my tennis-playing pal Buzz Malone. He’s up at Wimbledon, practicing for the tournament. Look, Emily, I didn’t mean to dazzle you into bed with pretense of wealth. If you’d asked me last night, I’d have told you it was Buzz’s pad, but ‘I smirked, ‘we somehow didn’t get around talking about real estate.’
She relented with a wickedly wanton grin. ‘You didn’t dazzle me.’ Those fingers again. ‘He did.’ She heaved a pretend sigh. ‘Okay, Tobin, you owe me.’
‘Oh…’ She was back in the paddock now, getting ready to climb into the saddle again, ‘…about five hundred pounds. This could take all day.’
Alas, it could not, I mused. At three o’clock I had an assignation with another devoted task mistress. Mimsie Hardwater. At the Job Centre. But, by heck, until then…
‘You want to give me a hand here, Tobin, or are you just going lie there and let me do all the work?’
For a girl who gets my name right, nothing is too much trouble.