Luke had never wanted anyone as badly as he wanted Máire Ní Mhainnín. Unlike the normal pattern his “cases” followed, the more he watched her, the more he needed to watch her. It usually went through three phases: the early phase, where the thrill of the hunt and the excitement at learning about his prey predominated, and where his feelings were akin to a lover’s infatuation; the middle phase, where he grew familiar with the women’s habits and movements so that their lives and his became intimately intertwined; and the end phase, where boredom and indifference settled over his previous feelings like dust blanketing the furniture in an abandoned house. In this final phase he often grew contemptuous of his quarry. He began to spot physical imperfections and character flaws. Little things they did started to annoy him, like how they squeezed a tea bag, or didn’t cover their mouths when they yawned, or the way they slumped on the couch when they watched TV. Connie was now a late-phase case. He would shortly grow tired of her. To complete his collection he would take a few more photos of her out running, then he would leave her be forever.
He would never leave Máire Ní Mhainnín. He had never encountered a woman like her before. The night he had watched her masturbate — Christmas night, all alone in her cottage — was the night he knew he had found someone extraordinary. At that stage he had seen her nude a number of times, watched her dressing, undressing, lathering her pale skin with cream, in a way that many men would have paid money to see. He had seen her get fucked in different ways by different men, had come when she had come, standing just a few feet away from her hopping headboard. But when she lay on her bed in the candlelight and went at herself with a large, pink vibrator, Luke knew he had found what he had always been searching for: a classy lady to whom the kind of sex he watched on the internet was a daily reality, and whose beautiful body was as much a plaything for herself as the bodies of the whores and sluts on his computer were for the men who sated themselves on their unreal bumps and curves.
Luke had gotten into the habit of masturbating while he watched Máire. He felt so concealed and safe in her garden, had grown to know every loose kerbstone, torn-up patch of tarmac and dip in the lawn that after a couple of weeks he waived the usual precautions. After that first night, when he had felt compelled to do it, masturbating to Máire became as routine as taking photos or videos while she watched TV or danced. He timed his orgasms to coincide with hers. With spit-wet fingers he would knead the tip of his glans while she and the men she brought home engaged in foreplay. When they got down to the serious business of penetrative sex he would open his fly, clench his penis and move his hand along it in time to Máire’s exertions. When the rhythm of the fucking grew frantic, Luke would pull hard on himself and stare unrelentingly at her face for signs of imminent orgasm. He would do his best to hold off coming until her features froze in the telltale contortions of climax.
He always came onto the narrow flower bed along the side of the house by the bedroom. The soil was bare, showed evidence of having been cleared of plants to lie fallow for winter. He always wondered if the soil that received his seed would be extra fertile; that perhaps come spring whatever she planted there — busy Lizzies or pansies or sweet Williams — would outgrow all their neighbours. He wondered would Máire notice anything when she dug into the soil with her trowel. Would she stop and sniff her hands, swearing for a moment that she could smell semen? Or would she note a stickiness, a viscosity to the earth she pushed aside for her plants.
That night when she took out the vibrator and it was only she and him, separated by breeze block and double-glazed windows, he felt closer to her than he had to any woman he had ever known. He thought, and almost began to believe, that she was putting on a show for him, that somehow she knew he was out there and this was her way of giving him something special. Just as when he watched her dance, he felt he was seeing a side of her that no one else ever would — the dark side of the moon, he liked to call it. With one hand on his video camera and the other on his penis, he saw her work the vibrator, saw the mixture of pain and pleasure on her stretched lips and tightly shut eyes. As his exertions steamed the cold air outside, her body glistened with sweat, her hair dampening and sticking to her forehead and cheeks. He desired to feel that sweat on him, to smell her juices and leave his semen on her body the way he left it on the earth. He wanted to stick the vibrator in her, bring her to delirium until she was soaked, inside and out, and then stick his penis in her and ride her hard — the way she liked.
He liked the feel of Farrah’s new shaved pussy. She did a reasonable facsimile of Máire with the vibrator he had bought her. For extra money she had let him come on her belly and rub the semen until her breasts and mons glistened with it. But he was tired of staging charades. Besides the cost, he knew Farrah was laughing at him, that she thought his “play-acting” sad and pathetic. The fucking he gave her was often angry, and he knew it would not — should not — be like that if he ever did it to Máire.
His fantasies now were all about picking Máire up in Dazzlers, walking her to the taxi rank and being brought back here to fuck the night away, he knowing exactly what she wanted. She’d never have better sex. He’d be gone in the morning when she woke up and she’d be left wondering about the mystery man who pleasured her so completely.
He knew the fantasy would never be realised unless he changed.
The men she picked up in Dazzlers were men, and he did not consider himself a man. His brother was a man, living free of interference from his grandparents and figures like Francie. Luke still straddled the world between boyhood and manhood, his life one long running of errands. His clothes were bought, washed, ironed and folded by his grandmother, who also decided when and what he ate. He was still on his grandfather’s car insurance and known in the estate as “the young fella of the Geoghegans”. If he was to be like the men Máire went with he would have to change: hair, clothes, watch, the works. He might even try growing a beard or a moustache — who knows? But whatever the case, the Luke who walked up to her table in Dazzlers would be a different Luke to the man-boy who looked in her window.
There was only one thing: the stutter. His speech would trip him up, as it always did. No matter how good he looked or how much bravado he mustered, as soon as he thought about saying something he would get blocked. He would stand in front of Máire in the din and darkness of Dazzlers with his mouth open and his tongue and throat clicking away. She would laugh at him or think him a weirdo — or a handicap, the word his classmates often used in the schoolroom.
He still had that number Senán had given him. Perhaps he would spend a few quid on a speech therapist to get the ball rolling on loosening his tongue.
Luke put paid to his ruminations and returned his attention to Máire Ní Mhainnín. She was sitting up straight on the couch, lit from above by the cane reading lamp with the brushed steel UFO shade, and from below by the LCD glow of her laptop. She hadn’t the TV on. He guessed she may have been listening to music or the radio, but he couldn’t hear anything. She seemed out of sorts — anxious, fretful and bad-tempered. Whatever she was at on the computer was making her frown and mutter to herself, and occasionally scream and turn her head away in disgust. She was on a deadline, clearly, and things were not going well.
He had never seen her like this before. She was always relaxed and bright-faced. She hadn’t even changed out of her work clothes, a mid-thigh-length black skirt and cherry-petal-pink blouse. The grade-A upskirt he recorded of her smooth, sinewy legs was the only silver lining to keeping vigil on a night when nothing bar trips to the bathroom or coffee pot broke the monotony.
It was ten past twelve. Luke wondered was it worth staying any longer. Having spent the evening wrestling with difficult work, she was hardly likely to have a go at herself with the vibrator. More likely she would collapse into bed without even the usual show of moisturising herself. He would call it a night, he decided, but not before making his nightly offering to her flower bed. He turned off his camera and began to fondle his penis into life. He looked at the crevice between Máire’s thighs, which darkened tantalisingly as it narrowed, and imagined slipping his hand up it until his fingers felt the soft folds of vulva. He worked away at himself, the mechanical threshing of his arm building speed until he felt a teasing heat in his prostate. He slowed and tightened his grip on the shaft, his hand like a clamp on the veins and urethra.
Soon, soon, soon, he panted. Soon, soon, soon.
He’d have his hand up her skirt any day now.
Soon, soon, soon.
He relaxed his hold on his penis and his cum hopped out onto the earth below.
Soon, soon, soon.