Copyright Oggbashan December 2009
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.
Minor edit March 2016.
I had met Fiona at a Square Dance last night. She had sprained her ankle so I had had to help her to the stage so she could play piano. She had promised me a reward. I had enjoyed that before putting her to bed. We had a date for a dance next Saturday and arranged to meet for lunch today…
I went by taxi to collect Fiona for lunch. I thought it might be easier than trying to get her into my normal car. I had to hold a large umbrella over her as the rain lashed down. At the restaurant a waiter came out with an umbrella. As I took her coat off I saw that she was wearing a grey calf length dress with a flared skirt. I helped Fiona hobble to our table. She winced as she settled herself.
“Still hurting?” I asked.
“Of course it is.” She retorted. “Sorry, Alan, I didn't mean to snap at you.”
“How did it happen?”
“I tripped over some equipment in my garage. I think there had been a break-in that was disturbed. They had thrown things around. I didn't notice in the dark until I turned my ankle on a brick that shouldn't have been there.”
“What was taken?” I asked.
“Nothing. That was odd. There were several saleable items in the garage. They just cleared every shelf, opened every drawer and left a mess. Neither I nor Keith can think of anything missing. The neighbours didn't see anything, nor hear anything. The lack of hearing isn't surprising. I have a retired couple on one side in their eighties, and Mr Thomas, my closest neighbour and a widower, is very deaf. If the burglars had come through the woodland they wouldn't have been seen.”
“Who is Keith?”
“Sorry. I keep forgetting how little we know about each other. Keith is my ex-husband.”
“You still keep in touch?”
“Yes. It wasn't an acrimonious divorce. We just couldn't live together. He had his work that kept him busy nearly 24 hours a day. I had my business. Eventually we decided that it was pointless being married when we didn't see much of each other and little in common when we did.
Things haven't changed. We are still far apart in our lives but we like each other. We can meet as friends but there is nothing left of the love we once thought we had. On the rare occasions when either of us want a partner for a formal event we will oblige each other if there is no one else available. Keith would have taken me last night but he was in Silicone Valley this week, getting back tonight.”
“What does Keith do?”
“He's a software developer and very good at it. He started in the spare bedroom here in the evenings and weekends. That's where he wrote the basic code that underpins almost all his products. Now he has his own company but he delegates everything so that he can write his programmes. In theory he is Chairman and Managing Director but he has appointed a Chief Executive who runs everything so that Keith can do his own thing. It works very well. Keith sets the general policy and chairs the Board meetings but as he owns forty-five percent of the company he has control.”
“Who owns the rest?” It was an idle question to kill time while we waited for our first course. I had begun to realise that I knew Keith. Even so, the answer surprised me.
“I own forty percent. The other fifteen percent is split between the other board members.”
“So you are part of the board?”
“Yes. I'm a sleeping partner…” Fiona laughed. “Perhaps I'd better rephrase that. I'm a non-active partner. I support Keith if he needs it. He doesn't. The company is very sound.
Sometimes I put the Chief Executive through some hoops to make sure he is not sidelining Keith but it isn't really necessary. They work well together. One thing has been bothering both of us recently. A competitor, James Smith, has been hinting that he wants to buy the company. Because it is privately owned and financed, he can't. James even wrote to me, wanting to buy my shares. Keith doesn't want to sell. Neither do I. James has been very insistent and Keith is annoyed.”
Our first course arrived. The subject dropped.
“I suppose you won't be wearing your square dance dress on Saturday.”
“No, Alan, it's not appropriate. Don't look so disappointed. If you ask nicely I might wear it another time just for you.”
“I'd like that.”
“So would I. I enjoy having the swirl of petticoats round my legs when my legs are working properly. I'm sure Molly and her friends will arrange another dance. Last night's one was a hit with them.”
“I'll drop a few hints.”
“You don't need to go that far to get me to wear that dress again. Just ask me nicely.”
“OK. But not today. It needs washing. I've a lot of washing to do because most of the petticoats Molly and her friends wore last night were borrowed from me. She brought bags of them round this morning.”
“Couldn't they wash them themselves?”
“I'd rather do it. They don't know how to.”
“So you are going to spend hours doing the washing?”
“It takes hours but I do have a couple of industrial washing machines and dryers. I just set them going and relax.”
“How about loading and unloading with that ankle?”
“I'll manage even if I sit on the floor. Why? Are you offering to help?”
“I'm beginning to think that you have a fetish for bouffant petticoats. Have you?”
“If you are wearing them then perhaps I have.”
“It would be nice to have some help…” Fiona said slowly.
“Then why not? I'll try to be as unobtrusive a laundry maid as possible.”
“OK. You are appointed. When?”
“When would you do the washing?”
“I'd like to start this afternoon so that I have the week free for my work. I'm going to be slower than I should because of this ankle. But wouldn't you rather do something else this afternoon?”
“I'd like to be with you. I had thought of taking you for a drive in the country but the weather isn't ideal.” I looked pointedly out of the window at the driving rain.
“Then washing it is.”
After the meal and coffee another taxi took us back to Fiona's house.
The umbrella was still necessary. It was quite a performance managing the umbrella and supporting Fiona as well. Her house was set a long way back from the road and surrounded by trees, with woodland at the end of the back garden. As we walked towards her front door I was exposed to the full force of the driving rain and soaked to the skin.
Inside the front door Fiona looked at me in dismay. My wet clothes were dripping onto the hall floor.
“Alan! You are drenched.”
“Yes.” What else could I say?
“And I don't have anything for you to change into. Anything in the car?”
I shook my head.
“You can't stay like that. Strip!” It was an order. I stripped to my boxers. Fiona took my clothes away and brought a towel to rub my hair dry. Then she looked at my shivering body.
“You volunteered to be a laundry maid. I think you had better dress as one.”
“Alan. You can't stay like that. Your clothes will take hours to dry. You need something to wear. You could wrap in a sheet or blanket but then you wouldn't be much help. I think I've got an old dress that would fit. No one will see you in the utility room. It's in the basement.”
I protested but Fiona kissed me. I accepted the necessity. We went downstairs to the large utility room. It was heaped with drifts of petticoats and piles of satin skirts. Fiona hobbled across to an old wardrobe. From it she took a full length blue denim shirtwaist dress.
She looked inside it, shook her head, and reached back into the wardrobe. This time she took a long slip off a hanger.
“Put these on.”
I eased myself into the slip and then the dress. The sleeves had drawstrings at the wrists. I tried to fasten them one-handed. Fiona pushed my hand away and tied them for me. Then she tied the back ties pulling the waist tight. She stood back.
“That should do. You just need the apron.”
I was feeling warmer already and getting excited at the feel of the slip slithering around my legs. Fiona reached back into the wardrobe for the apron. It was heavy white cotton reaching from the waist to the floor and wrapping almost completely over the skirt. She tied it on.
“Sometimes I wear these clothes if I'm bleaching or dyeing. It doesn't matter if I splash them.”
I looked down at the vast snowy expanse of the apron. It was perfect. I raised my eyebrows.
“Aprons are easy to make,” she answered my unspoken question.
“Even so I try not to stain my clothes. Try walking.”
I took a few steps. A few inches of the skirt trailed on the ground and the hem tangled my legs despite the stiff material.
“I might be able to manage.”
“OK. Then we'll make a start. Bring that pile to this machine.”
I struggled to bundle up the heap of petticoats. They seemed to have a life of their own. Eventually I gathered them all into my arms. I had to shake my head to free my face from the billowing material as I crossed the room. Then the dress's skirt tangled my legs and I dropped the heap as I stumbled.
Fiona giggled. “I don't think you can manage that dress. Bring the petticoat I wore last night. It's over there.”
Fiona's petticoat was longer than the others and very bulky.
“Put it on.” I hauled the skirt up and eased the petticoat up to my waist. It had several layers of net sandwiched between silky nylon inner and outer layers. I dropped the denim skirt and shook it over the petticoat. The dress's hem now cleared the floor but the dress spread out around me. It seemed that I would have to stretch to reach anything.
“Now try walking.” I walked across the cellar and back again. The straight slip and bouffant petticoat impeded my stride only slightly. The dress moved as I moved and stayed well clear of the floor.
“Pick up the heap again, please, Alan.” As I did I felt the back of the dress rise behind me.
“Now load them in one by one. Shake each one out as it goes in.”
Fiona was filling the detergent drawer as I loaded the petticoats. As I shook each one out I sensed the perfume of the last wearer. Some of the perfumes I could identify with Molly's friends. At last I shut the machine's door. Fiona started it.
“Now that pile in this machine.”
The second load was easier. When the machine started Fiona leant back against the wall wincing.
“What now?” I asked.
“We have to wait until the wash cycle finishes, then two rinses, the final treatment with starch, and then into the dryers. While these loads dry we put two more loads in the washing machines, and so on. But now all we can do is wait.”
“About an hour.”
“What do we do for that hour?”
“I'm going to sit down. Perhaps you could make some coffee?”
I helped her to sit down in an old armchair that looked comfortable. I went upstairs to the kitchen and made coffee for both of us. Negotiating the stairs in a long puffed out dress was awkward. I couldn't see my feet. Coming down with the coffee was difficult. I could see that Fiona was laughing at me. I felt ridiculous. The bow on the apron caught on the end of the stairs and came undone. I put the coffee down and tried to do up the apron again. I failed miserably.
“Come here.” She said. “Turn round.” I turned my back to her.
“Give me your hands.”
I put my hands behind my back. She tied the apron's long streamers around my hands. She turned me and kissed me hard.
“Now I'm back in control, aren't I?”
“Yes, Fiona, but why?”
“I feel so weak and pathetic with this ankle. Now I can do things to you and you can't object, can you?”
“I probably wouldn't object anyway.”
“Perhaps. But it isn't the same as being unable to.”
Fiona pushed a three-legged stool out from the wall.
“Sit, please.” She said.
She lifted my skirt, petticoat and slip so that as I sat down they splayed around in a circle on the floor. She knelt down and gathered the masses of material in her hands. Before I realised what she intended she pulled the inner slip upwards.
With my hands tied behind my back I couldn't stop her as she bared my legs and wound the dress's skirt and petticoats around my torso. She stood up gingerly lifting the inner slip above my head. I disappeared inside the dress's embrace. I felt her knot the slip above my head, trapping me under yards of dress and petticoats.
As I swayed on the stool and made muffled protests she tied my ankles to the stool.
“Now, you are unable to object.” She said.
Her hands reached for my boxer shorts and eased them down. My erection sprang into her view. I groaned as her hands stroked and then gasped as her warm lips surrounded me. She played with her tongue and gently took more and more of me inside her mouth.
I spluttered an objection but a hand reached up and stuffed material deep into my mouth. Just before I came she withdrew her mouth and impaled herself on me. Her head rested against mine. Her arms wound round the enveloping petticoats holding me tight. I shuddered in climax as one of her hands stifled my moans of ecstasy.
As I relaxed her head rested on my shoulder. She loosened the knot in the slip's hem and uncovered my perspiring face.
“That is how I wanted to say “thank you” last night.” She said as her muscles squeezed around me. “Do you like the thanks?”
I nodded. I didn't have enough breath to speak. Her dress and petticoats had nearly suffocated me with a faint trace of her perfume. I could breathe normally through the layers of material but not enough when approaching my climax.
Fiona rode me again, this time kissing me throughout with my head framed by petticoat. At the end she replaced my boxers, untied my ankles, let the slip, petticoat and dress drop to the floor and finally untied my wrists from the apron. Then we drank the luke-warm coffee.
The rest of the afternoon we washed and dried petticoats and skirts, punctuated by kisses and cuddles while we waited for the loads to finish. About five o'clock I suggested another coffee break. I took the mugs upstairs to the kitchen. As I filled the kettle I heard a noise upstairs.
“Who's there?” I called, hoping that no one was.
In a denim dress and bouffant petticoat I didn't want to meet anyone. I heard a scuffle of feet. A window was flung open followed by thuds as two people jumped into the back garden. I peered out into the rain to see to dark hooded figures clamber over the back garden fence.
I rushed upstairs, tripping as I went. When I reached the landing the draught from the open window directed me to a bedroom. It was a mess. Every drawer and cupboard had been opened and emptied on to the bed. Fiona's lingerie was strewn on the floor and covered by a trail of muddy footprints leading to the wide-open window.
I walked carefully around the mess and looked out. A short ladder was propped below the window. I could see no sign of the intruders so I walked carefully back to the landing and downstairs through the kitchen to the cellar.
“What was it?” Fiona asked.
“Some burglars, I think. I must have disturbed them. They've gone.”
Fiona sank on to the stool I had recently been tied to. Her face was white.
“Why me? What have I got that I get burgled twice?” I hugged her.
“We had better call the police.”
Fiona had a faint smile.
“I think you should change first. The police might get the wrong idea. Your clothes should be dry now.”
They were. I changed. Fiona called the police who took half an hour to arrive. As far as Fiona could tell nothing had been taken — again. The police didn't seem particularly interested. They took the ladder away and dusted the window and bedroom for prints.
Apart from Fiona's prints all that became visible were the smudges from thin latex gloves. They took photographs of the muddy footprints but the marks were not distinct enough to identify the type of trainers or even the size. Throughout the evidence gathering Fiona leant on me. The police asked who I was and what I was doing in the house. Fiona answered for me.
“This is Alan Andrews, who is my friend. He has been helping me with my laundry because I have twisted my ankle.”
The police let her think they were satisfied but while Fiona showed them the mess in her bedroom I was questioned in more depth. Their attitude changed when I mentioned the chain of shoe shops I own.
One of them went into the hall to speak quietly into his radio. On his return he asked:
“Do you know Councillor Jones, sir?”
“Do you know his nickname, sir?”
“Yes. He is called “Digger Blue”.”
“Why is he called that, sir?”
“Because he was Australian, he fought in the Desert campaign in World War 2, and he was a redhead before he went bald. Australians call redheaded men “Bluey”.”
“Thank you, sir. That confirms your identity. Do you remember what other public offices Councillor Jones holds?”
“We are school governors together and — of course — he's a magistrate.”
“Thank you, sir. Can you think of any reason why Ms Owens should be targeted by burglars?”
“No. I haven't known her very long. I have known of her as a member of the community but we have been friends for only a short time. As far as I can tell she has no apparent enemies and no collections of valuable items that might attract a burglar. Even her audio system and TV are not particularly valuable.”
“Yet this is the second burglary in a week, sir. Whatever they want must be small otherwise they would not have conducted such a thorough search. Did you hear them enter or during their search?”
“No. We were in the cellar with two washing machines and two tumble dryers working. I doubt we would have heard anything except a telephone or a very loud noise on the ground floor.”
“Who might have known that you would be in the cellar, sir?”
I thought about that. We had decided at lunch to come back. It was unlikely we were overheard.
“I don't think anyone would have known. Someone might have assumed that Ms Owens was out since it was no secret that I was taking her out to lunch. However they should have expected her back by five o'clock.”
“There are no cars outside, sir. Where is your car? Where is Ms Owens' car?”
“We came here by taxi. I had some wine with lunch so I didn't drive. My car is at home.”
“Very sensible, sir. And her car?”
“I don't know. She hasn't been able to drive since she twisted her ankle. I assume that it is in her garage. You will have to ask her.”
“So the burglars might have assumed the house was empty, sir?”
“I suppose so. We were in the cellar. There were no cars outside and no lights switched on except in the cellar until I came upstairs to the kitchen to make coffee.”
“OK, sir. Thank you. If we think of anything else to ask where can we contact you?”
I handed him one of my business cards, the one that gives my home address, phone and mobile numbers.
That was it. We had more laundry to do. Almost all Fiona's underwear needed washing. By the time we had finished it was nearly nine o'clock so we ordered a Chinese takeaway. We ate it sprawled on the living room settee, listening to Louis Armstrong on vinyl.
We cleared up a few points. Fiona had arranged for her car to have a major service and have a few cosmetic repairs done while she couldn't drive. It should be ready tomorrow morning. I agreed to take her to collect it.
She couldn't think what the burglars were after. She had nothing worth the effort of professionals and the police had established that both burglaries were professional not local youths raising cash for drugs or alcohol. They had ignored several items that could have been sold for cash. Tomorrow she would to ring Keith, her ex-husband, and ask him if he had any ideas.