At present, especially in the UK, there are so many things that illustrate the ubiquitousness of the condition identified in our title that potential readers may already be deciding ‘I don’t want to read any more of this stuff’. But be reassured, it has nothing to do with politics, although there does seem to be a predilection for immoral behavior at so many levels even outside the corridors of power. But all we want to do is entertain you by dabbling in 800 words of mild moral mayhem.
Today’s prompt is: There she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool kissing my father.
Parts 1 and 3 are by Eden, 2 and 4 by me.
Amy came into my life at the start of the year, and her expensive tastes have put a dent in my finances. I’ve almost maxed out all my credit cards, and my bank account’s in perpetual overdraft. She’s worth it though, so much so I even tell Mom I’m considering monogamy for the first time.
“She brings out the protector in me,” I say, “and she’s gorgeous and charming. Who can resist that?”
“Obviously not you!” Mom’s excitement comes through the speaker phone a bit too loudly. I turn down the volume and agree with her. “When are we meeting this young lady?” she says.
“She’s planning a first-class trip to Belize after I finish my PhD, so maybe sometime after we get back?”
“First class?” Now Mom sounds concerned. “Is she paying?”
“Of course not. I wouldn’t let her if she wanted to.”
“You don’t have that kind of money, James.”
“I know … but I’ve got several contracts lined up. I’m sure I can swing it.”
A pause sucks the energy from the conversation, but then Mom says: “Your dad’s friend has a timeshare at a five-star resort in Belize. Maybe you and Amy might consider it.”
What a bombshell! I hesitated a bit, then, trying to keep any excitement out of my tone, asked, “Which friend’s that? I didn’t realize Dad was so well-connected.”
“George Duncan. They’re both in that bridge club, or whatever it is. He’s a fund manager or something.”
“Ah yes, I remember. Thanks. I’ll maybe check with Dad. Is he there?”
Mom’s answer is short, her displeasure badly concealed. “No. Lord knows where he is. His dinner’s going to be cold.”
I should have tried my usual snide remark about Dad’s forgetfulness. It always made her giggle, but the idea of lounging in a plush Belize timeshare didn’t leave much room for thinking about others, not even long-suffering Mom. Instead, all I offered was, “OK, I’ll try his mobile. Remind him to check the time, eh? Love you. Bye,” and closed my phone.
When I got back to the flat, Amy was in the bathroom, wearing only her dressing gown and singing over the loud whirring of the washing machine.
“Good news,” I said, trying – unsuccessfully, as usual – to appear nonchalant.
She just looked at me.
“I think I may have got us a 5-star timeshare in Belize.”
Her dressing gown fell to the floor.
The nominal fee for the timeshare came as a huge relief, but Amy thought differently. She must’ve viewed it as an opportunity to spend elsewhere.
“This bikini on me will make you the envy of the resort!” She sat in bed with her laptop, scrolling through an online shopping site.
I tried to reassure her. “You could wear a burlap sack and I’d be the envy of the resort.” In the end, I couldn’t curb her shopping. Her big doe eyes hypnotized me into handing over my credit card for her latest whimsical purchase.
The morning after arriving in Belize, Amy seemed distracted. Her main interest was in exploring the grounds, and not necessarily with me.
“James, I want to take advantage of every minute.” She applied lipstick and spritzed perfume on her neck.
I pulled myself up in bed in a daze. “Where are you going? It’s not even eight o’clock.” Before I could gather my thoughts, she was gone. I fell back to sleep and got up an hour later. While headed to breakfast, I expected to see my girlfriend in the dining room, but instead, there she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool kissing my father.
Apart from being too shocked to say anything sensible, the fact that it wasn’t only my girl but my bloody father stopped me going over to them. I had no idea which one to complain to. So I went straight to the communal breakfast room. It was full of couples, mostly older, but right at the end, next to the serving hatch, was a long table around which sat a bunch of noisy, middle-aged men. The mood I was in made me want to go across and tell them to shut up but the waitress came to take my order.
“Noisy buggers,” I said to her.
She nodded and said, “This is your first time here, isn’t it?”
“Yes. Why d’you ask?”
“You get used to it. They’re regulars. Some sort of club. Most of them have got chalets here.”
I thought of making some poor you type of remark but stopped when the door opened and Dad walked in. He went straight to the noisy table, pulled back a chair, flopped down into it and shouted, “Your turn, George”.
I recognized the fat, bald bloke who got up and headed quickly for the door. It was George Duncan.