Claire and I were in a room in the Kings Arms Hotel Godalming, laying naked beneath the covers in the after glow.
“You need to ask me the question then,” I said
“What do you want me to do?”
There was a long pause then she took a deep breath and blurted out
“I want you to make love to the vicar?”
That rather took me by surprise I certainly hadn’t seen that coming.
I was worried that she had been hoping for a long-term commitment from me rather than out dirty outings.
It never even crossed my mind that she might be pimping me out.
“I want you to make love to the vicar? She said
“Which one?” I replied trying to make light of it
“Katy of course” Claire said without humour
After a moment I said
“And this is what you thought I would be angry about?” I asked
“Yes” she replied
“Well I’m not angry” I said “but you were right I don’t want to do it”
“But…” she tried to interrupt but I continued
“And I’m not going to do it”
“But…” she tried to interrupt again and again I pressed on
“And I can’t imagine what you could possibly say that could persuade me to change my mind”
“She’s dying” Claire said flatly
“What?” I said
“She’s dying,” she repeated
I was stunned into silence and I suddenly felt rather small.
“How?” I asked though it didn’t really matter, I didn’t know what else to say.
“Cancer” Claire said “very aggressive”
“Where”? I asked gain for want of something worthwhile.
“Her brain” she replied “to begin with, but its metastasised”
“What’s the prognosis?” I asked hopefully
Claire shook her head in response.
“Is there no treatment?”
“Yes but it will only delay its progress and she doesn’t want to prolong it any longer than necessary”
“Doesn’t she want to fight it?” I said angrily
“She has no fear of death” Claire replied, “She knows where she is bound”
There was a prolonged silence as I took in the news and tried to process it.
After about 10 minutes I said
“How long have you known”?
“About the cancer, since before we went to Paris, and about her dying, about six weeks” she replied
“Who else knows”? I asked
“Just me and the Bishop” she answered and sobbed.
“It must have been hell” I said and kissed her forehead
When she had stopped crying I asked
“So why do you want me to make love to her?”
“It’s what she wants” Claire replied
“But why?” I queried
“Because although she has made her peace and is content” she replied
“She just wants to feel truly alive one last time before the end”
Silence once again descended and it was five minutes before she broke it.
“So will you do it”?
“I need some time to think about it” I replied
“Time is a luxury she does not have” Claire said blackly
I got out of bed and paced around the room for nearly 10 minutes before Claire suggested
“Go and speak to her”
“That would work. I’ll just knock on the vicarage door and say, “so you want me to shag you?”” I responded angrily
“She’s in room 23” Claire stated
“What?” I said
“Katy is in the room across the hall” she said
I stopped pacing for a moment and absorbed what she had and after a moment the penny dropped, “I’ll book two rooms,” she said on the phone.
I stood in the middle of the room and taking a deep breath I announced
“I’ll go and speak to her”
I walked briskly across the room and was just about to open the door when Claire said
“What?” I said in response
“You’re not wearing any trousers,” she told me
I looked down at my unclad lower half and conceded that she might have a point so I returned to the sight of our coupling and redressed.
“The door isn’t locked, but knock before you go in” she said as I grabbed the door handle for the second time then I looked back at Claire
“Why me”? I asked curiously
“You’ll have to ask her that” she replied
I crossed the hall and stood staring at the door of room 23 for about five minutes before I got up enough courage to knock.
When I eventually did, there was no answer to my knock, but after a few moments I turned the handle and pushed open the door.
When I was inside I found Katy asleep in an armchair by the fire with a blanket around her knees.
Katie’s spectacles were perched on the end of her nose and a bible lay open on her lap,
I walked quietly into the room and sat in the chair opposite her and watched her sleep.
Katie was an attractive woman by any measure, a willowy thirty seven year old, with shoulder length brunette hair.
She had a warm open manner, which was partly why she was so fondly regarded.
The intelligent green laughing eyes and broad toothy smile served to compliment an already very pleasant demeanour.
She looked small tucked into the large armchair and incredibly vulnerable.
“I don’t think I can do it,” I said to myself
The Reverend ticked a lot of boxes for me it has to be said,
And given my penchant for all things crumpet there was certainly no lack of attraction, her vestments certainly didn’t put me off, I liked uniforms and outfits.
It wasn’t because she was a Vicar, although had she been in any other occupation I would have been more likely to have serviced her without any qualms.
“I just don’t think I can do it”
Maybe it was my conscience I was worried about not that I possessed any high principles, and what rules I followed are at best flexible.
So if it’s not my scruples, which are virtually non-existent, as my many peccadilloes can testify to.
“Why don’t I think I can do it?”
At that moment Katie stirred from her nap and opened her eyes.
“Hi” I said softly
“Oh Hello Simon” She replied with a smile.
Then her eyes closed and she drifted off again
It was another fifteen minutes before she awoke again, fully this time.
“Has Claire asked you?” She asked out of the blue
“Yes” I replied
“And?” she pressed me
“I don’t think I can do it,” I said
“Why not?” She asked with surprise “Is it the vestments that put you off?”
”No” I replied “I like that well enough, uniform is always good”
There was silence for a moment then I continued
“Look in principle I would have no problem making love to you,
I would have no problem defrocking you of your vestments,
I would have to draw the line at doing it in Gods house or the vicarage for that matter, but in principle it’s a yes But…”
“But what?” she asked
“Well” I began but she interrupted
“Are you worried about your immortal soul?” She asked with a chuckle
“Because I would think you’re probably damned already for all the sinning you’ve done”
“No of course not” I snapped
“I’m more concerned about yours”
“Oh that” she said, “well I’m of a purer bent than you and I shall merely have to repent my misdemeanour”
I looked at her doubtfully
“Look I have my faith,” she said with conviction “I know that I have eternal life awaiting me”
I was still unconvinced so Katy leant forward and took hold of my hand and spoke softy
“I just want to feel truly alive one last time before the end”
She relaxed back into the chair
“It’s a dying woman’s last request,” she said
“And as I’m dying you will be performing a noble act”
Silence once again descended and it was five minutes before she broke it.
“So will you do it”?
I took in a deep breath before responding
“I know you just want to experience sex one last time but.”
“No” she interrupted “I want to experience it for the first and last time”
I was taken aback, I didn’t know she was a virgin, and the knowledge that she was really didn’t help.
I would truly be defiling her.
She clearly saw the feelings etched on my face and leant forward again and stared deep into my eyes as she spoke.
“I just want to have a taste of earthly pleasures before I die; I want to feel as alive as it is possible to feel”
She paused briefly before continuing
“I’m not doing it to see what I’ve been missing all these years”
I took her hand and squeezed it gently then she relaxed back into the chair again and closed her eyes.
So we sat silently in the glow of the fire for several minutes while she cat napped,
When she opened her eyes again she looked at me and gave me a tired smile.
“Would you boil the kettle Simon?” She asked, “I’m really parched”
I got up and filled the kettle and switched it on, as I waited for it to boil I asked
“Isn’t it obvious?” she answered
I shook my head
“Well, I know that you.. Um” she paused as she tried to think of the right words “put it about a bit”
Well that stung a bit harder for the fact that she thought about it first.
Seeing my pained expression she laughed
“Was that a bit harsh?” she asked
“Ok then lets say you have something of a reputation”
I couldn’t argue with that
“So if I’m going to sin” she continued “it should be with a well qualified sinner”
“That seems reasonable,” I said
“I also asked Claire if you were any good,” Katy said
“Really?” I replied “And what did she say?”
“She didn’t say anything” Katy replied, “She just blushed which was good enough for me”
We both laughed
I placed her drink on the table and as I sat down she said
“But the main reason is that I like you”
I had to admit that I liked her too but my reluctance wasn’t born of a lack of attraction, she was offering it to me on a plate and I wasn’t turning her down because I didn’t fancy her.
“I did get the impression you liked me that day you said, “If I wasn’t the vicar I’d shag you””
“Oh don’t remind me of that” she exclaimed quite mortified “I am so embarrassed”
Then she said from behind her hands.
“What a thing for the vicar to be doing, getting drunk and propositioning parishioners”
“No harm done” I said, “fortunately I am a gentleman”
“The gentlemanly thing to do would have been never to mention it again” she corrected me
The incident of which she was so embarrassed occurred one rainy afternoon after we had spent a boozy lunchtime hiding in the Cross Keys, me from my cleaner Beryl Beamish and her from the formidable Conway sisters.
I ever the gentleman escorted and steered her through the pouring rain to the vicarage.
Upon reaching her front door I had to wedge her against the wall while I opened it, unfortunately as the door swung open she fell into the hall.
I instinctively reached out and grabbed her in an effort to prevent her from hurting herself.
Unfortunately in trying to avoid grabbing anything intimate I only succeeded in falling to the floor before she did, I landed on my back and she landed on top of me.
Which was when she slurred
“You know Simon if I wasn’t the vicar I’d shag you”
Then she planted an almost Labrador like kiss on my mouth.
After extricating myself from her embrace I replied
“If I wasn’t a gentleman I’d let you”
I struggled to my feet and helped Katy to do the same before steering her through the hall and into her sitting room.
“But you’re not a gentleman” she said as I plopped her into an armchair “so there’s nothing stopping you”
And she grabbed me by the lapels and planted another kiss on my mouth, much more controlled and unhurried.
And I remember wondering as I was starting to reciprocate if she thought that having sex with a philanderer like me was sin free.
Making me like a vegetable in a slimmer’s diet plan.
“But you are the vicar” I replied as I broke away from her embrace again and kissed her on the forehead before leaving.
We sat in front of the fire chuckling about that day for about ten minutes.
Then just as I finished the last dregs of tea from my cup I asked
“Do you remember at Gerald Overend’s funeral when I looked over at you and you blushed?”
“Yes” she replied, “I do”
“What were you thinking?” I asked
“Oh dear more embarrassment” she replied, “If you must know I had a lustful thought”
“Reverend Oliver I’m shocked” I said and laughed
“And the very moment I thought it you looked across at me as if you knew what was in my mind”
“Sadly I didn’t,” I said
“What were you thinking then?” she quizzed “can you remember?”
“Oh yes I remember vividly” I answered, “I was wondering if you were wearing black underwear”
Katy blushed a fine shade of scarlet and I recounted the tale of the last request of the dying man that his wife wore his favourite black lingerie on the day of the funeral, stockings and suspenders and silk frillies.
And how I couldn’t get the image out of my head and pictured every woman in place sporting black underwear.
“Yes we heard about Gerald’s request” she said “and we also heard that someone took advantage of her in her grief”
“No” I said feigning shock “Who?”
“Well there was a rumour that it was you” she confided
“Really?” I said still acting surprised
“Yes but it was quickly quashed; as it is widely known that you only go for the younger woman” she replied
“Yes that’s very true,” I confirmed, then after a brief pause I continued “but I’m willing to make an exception in your case”
“So you’ll do it”? She asked taking my hand
“Yes” I replied
“Thank you” she said and kissed my hand as tears ran down her cheeks and I began to cry.