This is a preview of chapter one of my second novel.
As you will see, it is very different to the last novel. I think that it is a funny and tragic story that anyone will enjoy. You will be able to download the entire novel for free on my birthday, which is August 7th. Read on and enjoy.
Guernsey, Channel Islands 1989
My mind hasn’t been this clear in the nine years since I removed myself from the everyday world of love, lust and the sort of languid, vaguely satisfying background guilt that only accompanies truly selfish wantonness. I am discovering that sexual intercourse dispels irrelevant worries in a way that repeated meditation and isolated contemplation never did. Nine years ago, at the age of sixteen, I convinced myself that I had a calling to become a priest. When I say it was a calling, it was more of an impulse that persisted as a duty well beyond its sell-by date. Now, at the age of twenty-five, I have finally and completely extricated myself from the clutches of the world’s largest multi national Organisation – the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Two months ago, during a particularly effective contemplation of my life within the confines of an Irish seminary, I finally realised that I wasn’t sure about the idea of a God, a Devil, the Communion of Saints, or the idea that if the valuable art in the Organisation’s Vatican headquarters were sold, hunger in the world could be eradicated for the next fifty centuries. “The Organisation” is how I had begun to refer to the Catholic Church a few years ago.
My tutor, a rather cantankerous man from County Donegal, could live with doubts about ethereal concepts, such as divine beings: most of the Jesuit priests whom he had heard of were, after all, suspected atheists. However, he baulked at the idea of going to the Vatican with a new business plan so my speedy exit plan from the Organisation was summarily approved by his superiors, who voiced the hope that I would find good sense and the path back to God and his Church some day soon. I told them that I had no plans to become an art dealer, so the likelihood of further dealings with the Organisation was small.
I knew that I could never go back. I knew that I would miss the protection of the Church and the structured purpose of each day within the stark, sheltered world of the seminary in which I had chosen to hide myself, but the tantalising lure of the unknown and unsure world that lay beyond the doors of that seminary dispelled any last minute jitters. I skipped lightly across the threshold and into the big bad world of temptation and unsupervised prayer.
I escaped the clutches of the Organisation two months ago. I am presently succumbing to the more tender clutches of Nicky Peterson, a nineteen-year-old hotel receptionist. Nicky is having an epiphany that is similar to the one that I had two months ago. These days, I’m not sure about divine beings and until a few days ago, Nicky didn’t believe in twenty-five-year-old virgins. The vehemence of her conviction was similar to that of life long atheists who have crossed my path. My evangelical mission to change her belief resulted in a brief, lustful and enthusiastic courtship.
Nicky’s path to the acceptance of twenty-five-year-old virgins marked the end of my own lengthy journey towards agnosticism and an appreciation of the finer aspects of the vulgar and elementally satisfying rudiments of existence that only a dissolutely pagan philosophy can support.
I had begun to doubt my personal need for a God. The Christian God seemed to best serve those who wished for less culpability. God could be blamed for the bad times, removing the need for personal responsibility. The good times never needed an explanation. Nicky hadn’t met a virgin in almost three years and had begun to doubt their existence. Virgins were reminders of a lost, innocent time that could never be retrieved. They were pure and wholesome and untainted by experience. Finding an example of this endangered species had stimulated a natural urge to protect a vulnerable animal at the same time as it nourished a surgically scientific zeal to dissect and violate the very animal that she sought to protect, in the interests of furthering her knowledge of the sub-species.
The only problem with virgins is that their immediate attraction is, by definition, ephemeral. The virgin must quickly learn to supplement his meagre experience and learn new tricks, if he is to prosper as a non-virgin.
That goal is for next time, though. This particular virgin is feeling somewhat less than wholesome tonight. Nicky has a fiery lust in her eyes and there is feverish purpose in her lithe gyrations. She is feeling her immense power over another human being. That other human being, me, is trying desperately to delay the orgasm that will end the fun for both of us.
That simple goal is focusing my mind. As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with any machismo. As a life-long Catholic, I am relishing this feeling of impending release so much that I am sure that the actual release will be bound to disappoint. Nicky is moving on top of me and writhing. Her movements are a challenge and a truly divine revelation. Her vagina is rippling along the length of my penis and I can feel every muscle in my body and every instinct in my brain urging me to let go and succumb to the tidal wave of ecstasy that has, so far, been dammed by my personal vow of chastity.
Curiously enough, the Catholic Church has many useful teachings in the field of the control of orgasms. They just aren’t listed under this heading in the libraries of seminaries. Like everything in the Church’s vast archive of knowledge, you have to get inside the head of the cataloguer. If you want to know about sustaining pleasure, go straight to the texts of Saint Augustine.
Augustine was born in North Africa, in the 4th century A.D. His mother was Saint Monica, the ideal Christian mother. She pointed him along the main road of goodness and prayer, but Augustine spotted a sign on that road that pointed to instant gratification. Augustine prayed for salvation without conviction. His licentiousness was legendary.
His ambition lay in a last minute salvation that would allow him the maximum pleasure before a contrite deathbed reconciliation with his Maker. He would have made it too, if it hadn’t been for the Organisation. Augustine rejoined the main road to enlightenment, eventually became the Bishop of Hippo and wrote a lot about deferred gratification. As a renowned expert on, and frequent celebrant of, the instant variety of gratification, his espousal of its deferral makes for interesting reading for the young man who is keen to sow his seed in a hurry.
As Nicky’s movements and screams lead me to the edge of frenzy, the texts of St. Augustine are an emollient that focus my attention elsewhere and create this perfect environment for contemplation. It is as if I have suddenly discovered a new way of being. There is the world of Nicky, there is the world of St. Augustine and there is the calm lacuna of contemplation that separates them. In this ether, there is time and clarity of mind to contemplate the great spiritual thoughts, while deferring the temporal pleasures of the flesh.
Now that I have discovered this other world, I can see why the Catholic Church doesn’t allow priests to marry and sample disciplined corporeal ecstasy and its associated revelatory precision of thought. This degree of clear thinking would be dangerous among the foot soldiers of the Lord. Their thoughts should be ordered and ordinary, requiring a minimum of contemplation, to ensure their maximum cooperation within the Organisation.
The last thing that the Organisation wants is change. Change comes from radical thought. My own present experience would seem to support a theory that the concentrated, intellectual elongation of foreplay serves to distil thought to its purest form. If the Organisation’s ranks were motivated by such clear mindedness, we’d have a Vatican that made money from sex shops, instead of an art museum. The tantric gurus would be out of business in a week. Catholic magazines would contain tips about the lascivious prolongation of desire and attached would be an index of the liturgical references that would allow the reader to increase their sexual prowess by reading holy texts, rather than relying on abstinence and the Rhythm Method. In fact, men could probably be convinced to abstain from sex regularly, if they knew the final, unimaginable pleasure of a long denied climax.
All of this clear thinking is pleasing Nicky as much as it is me. The difference is that she knows nothing of the process of her pleasure. It is my guilty secret that I think of saints and philosophy to defer my gratification, when other men conjure an image of dying kittens or the horrendously wart-ravaged and moustached face of a maiden aunt.
As Nicky’s alto screams reach a crescendo in this small hotel room, I release my semen into her with the hollow regret that there is more to be had from this experience. I feel guilty at my lack of control and at the waste of potentially greater feelings of ecstasy. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.
That concept has nothing to do with divine beings. It is an incontrovertible truth. If there is a possibility of guilt, we Catholics will seek it out like a sniffer dog. Guilt is the Catholic’s suitcase full of heroin in the great airline cargo shed of irrelevant pleasures.
“I’M SO SORRY NCKY.”
Nicky allows her bucking torso to relax into a stable triangle that is supported by her arms. Her face looks down beatifically. A bead of sweat hangs on the end of the perfect infinitesimally small change in gradient of her profile that marks the tip of her nose. It plops onto my cheek. Her eyes dart over my features, looking for a clue to the reason for my sorrow.
“Why are you sorry?”
This is no time to tell her about St. Augustine and the deferral of pleasure and St. Monica and her disappointment in an impious and hedonistic son. The training in the seminary took in a bit of show business too. Every day, a priest must deliver a homily. If the congregation is not to be bored rigid, that homily should be interesting, salient and hopefully a little witty. The course on public speaking emphasised the importance of timing and the need for appropriateness. This training is coming flooding back to my mind, as I stare into Nicky’s tender eyes.
No, now is not the time for St. Monica and St. Augustine. Now is the time for cunning and subterfuge. Now is the time to swiftly unfurl the magician’s cloak and divert the congregation’s attention to more entertaining matters. In this case, my congregation of one is sitting on my crotch.
“I’m sorry I came so soon.”
It is not a lie. It is just not the whole truth. It is well timed and completely appropriate. I consider my situation from Nicky’s point of view. I am a virgin. Of course, she has realised that I would be worried about my performance in bed. Nicky is an experienced woman. She smiles benignly. I allow her to take me to her bosom and bestow her beatific gaze on me once more, permitting her to assume the role of my guru.
“Don’t worry about it. You did pretty well for a first timer. You can’t learn everything on your first day at school.”
Her voice is husky, after her exertions and screaming. Her accent is a sultry mix of burred Norfolk consonants and long, luxuriously rounded Home Counties vowels. It is the sexiest sound that I have ever heard. It is a voice for reading the news or for welcoming the well-healed customers of a five star hotel. It is not a voice for rude pleasure. When it folds itself around the crudity of sexual excitement, it does so with unexpected skill, peeling back the covers of a voluptuously hedonistic psychology and tantalising with the promise of a latent debauchery.
All of my senses are alive to this new experience. Nicky’s body smells are light, but flavoursome. The musky aroma of her sweat mixes with the salt taste of her vagina that lingers in my mouth, giving me the experience of just having eaten particularly sweet, dried seaweed. Her hair reeks of our day. I can smell wood smoke from our beach bonfire and the burnt tang of the dry grass that whipped against our legs, flayed by a humid sea wind. Her long mane makes a hanging, black curtain around our opposing horizontal faces, as she collapses on me and I once more taste the residue of fried squid and a dessert of candy floss on her full lips. Never was a man so happy or so overcome by his surroundings. Her voice fills the hair-veiled void, between us.
“I wish my first time had been this nice. I really should have waited until I knew what I wanted. I’m glad I gave you this. It’s some sort of compensation for a quick knee-trembler in my parent’s front room while they were out doing the Saturday shopping.”
There it is again. The beautiful diction and voice phrase the crudeness with a fondness and ripe succulence that goes straight to my groin. I am making up for lost time. Nicky smiles lasciviously when the soft flesh of her thigh registers my hardening penis.
The second time is tender. There is none of the frustrated clawing and panting. There is smoothness and fluid movement. There is economy of physical effort and a laser like concentration of eye contact. This time, I cannot close my eyes, for my conclave with St. Augustine. Nicky’s face hovers inches from mine, as we wrestle and fondle. St. Augustine is struggling to provide me with guiding grace in my moment of need, but I am hypnotised by Nicky’s gaze. I immediately lose concentration and it is all over in the blink of an eye.
Her expression is a portrait of frustration and disappointment. The lesson is clear. Sexual abandon with a beautiful young woman is all well and good, but self control and the strength that can be derived from a kinship with a bishop who died 1500 years ago will be a more effective route to gratification.
“I’m sorry Nicky.”
This time, we are both sorry for the same thing, but guilt is not a generous emotion. Ever aware of my Catholic upbringing, I must find a little extra something for which I can feel shame and guilt. I mutter a silent apology to St. Augustine for refusing his strength.
Nicky is smiling at me, questioningly. I murmur St. Augustine’s prayer to her.
“Lord, save me, but not yet. Tomorrow, I will repent my sins.”
“Am I a sin, then? Is that how you see me?”
She seems hurt, and rightly so. I feel even guiltier and revel in this newfound source of mental flagellation.
“I’m just thinking about a guy in a fifteen hundred-year-old book.”
“Was he the guy you were thinking about first time?”
I avert my gaze, shamefully. I thought that I was doing a good job of hiding my momentary spiritual separation during our first foray. When I work up the courage to look into her eyes again, they are framed in a beautiful, frank smile
“Well, you just keep thinking about him if it makes you perform like you did the first time, sweetheart.”
“He’s a saint, Nicky.”
“Too right, he’s a saint. He just gave me the best time I’ve had for ages.”
For Catholics, happiness doesn’t come more complete than this. My ego is bolstered beyond belief by the news that my first attempt at sexual congress has been a raging success. I am riddled with painful guilt for having spoiled the second attempt, I have confessed the temporal sin of thinking about a saint while indulging in the aforementioned congress and been instantly forgiven, without the need for a penitential rite. This is a jackpot evening.
If you have enjoyed it so far, I think that you’ll love the rest.
I’ll post the details of the free download nearer the time. I’m just waiting for my wife to design a cover so that I can upload it to Amazon Kindle.