At ten thirty on Tuesday morning, Stephen punched Margot's postcode into his Sat-Nav and allowed 'Betty' to guide him through the well heeled, suburbs of Westwich. Spring had just about sprung, there were green buds on most of the trees and the snowdrops on the roundabouts had been replaced by tulips and daffodils.
Stephen wound down his window and turned up the volume as the Eagles sang about their night at the Hotel California. At the Sat-Nav's command Stephen turned off the main road onto a narrow country lane, half a mile later he came to a huge, red brick, Victorian farm house and was advised that he had reached his destination. He pulled up at the side of an open, five barred gate, turned off the engine, grabbed the small bag containing his computer toolkit and crunched his way up the gravel drive, still humming along to the Eagles.
Margot answered the door with a hearty greeting and ushered Stephen into an antique laden lounge. The walls were covered in a faded, green, flocked paper. Against one wall stood a huge Welsh dresser with shelves full of old plates. On a walnut sideboard sat an array of china figurines; one entire wall was covered in thin glass shelves supporting hundreds of porcelain birds.
In the corner was a low table, festooned with Toby jugs. Above, a moth eaten, one eyed, elk's head surveyed the area. Music from the Magic Flute, wafted around the room. Margot wafted with it.
'Have you started your novel yet?' she asked.
Stephen looked confused.
'Started it? I read from it at the last manuscript meeting.'
'That was the end wasn't it? I was wondering if you'd made a start, of the start. If you see what I mean.'
'Ah, yes, I see. I have as a matter of fact, it's coming along nicely now.'
Margot picked up a bottle of wine and waved it in front of his face.
'Glass of plonk?' she asked.
'Not for me thanks, Margot, I'm driving, but feel free to have one yourself.'
'Okay then, if you inshist,' she slurred.
Margot pointed to a flower patterned sofa.
'Park your bottom,' she said.
Stephen sat on the edge of the sofa, clasped his hands and looked around.
'This is a very unusual room, Margot.'
'Like a bloody antique shop, isn't it?' she said.
'They could film six months worth of the bloody Antiques Roadshow in here and still have enough undiscovered treasures for David Dickinson to make a new series of Bargain Hunt.'
'It's not really my thing, but hats off to you, there's quite a collection here.'
'You should see the rest of the house,' Margot spat. 'The whole place is stuck in a bloody time warp. I half expect Queen Victoria to join us for breakfast in the mornings.'
'Or Doctor Who,' laughed Stephen.
'I hate, it,' hissed Margot. 'I'm sick to death of having to live in this house of dust. You can't move anything without being covered in the stuff. No wonder my lungs play up.'
Margot coughed extravagantly, then drained her wine glass.
'See? I'll be dead, stuffed, and nailed up on the wall with that bloody Elk soon.'
'Your husband is a collector, I take it.'
'Hoarder, ' said Margot. 'He won't throw anything out, he's been saying he's going to get another eye for that bloody elk for ten years now. God knows how it managed to lose one; no one touches the bloody thing, not even to dust it. The bugger knows its got to me too, it's always staring at me, like it's my fault.'
Margot refilled her glass and sat beside Stephen on the sofa. She pushed out her ample bosom, crossed her legs and patted him on the thigh.
'Bet you haven't got a moose on your wall.'
Stephen laughed nervously and edged towards the end of the sofa.
'I thought it was an elk?'
'Elk, moose,, caribou, whatever bloody species it is, it belongs out there.' Margot nodded towards the window. 'It shouldn't be stuck on a wall staring at me like It's my fault it lost one of its bloody eyes.'
'I've never understood why people have them in their houses. Museums are a different matter, but I could never have something like that on my wall.'
'You're not bloody weird, that's why. He was on about getting our sodding dog stuffed when it died a few years ago. I wasn't having that; I buried it in the rose bed while he was out. He still doesn't know. He convinced himself that it must have been in a coma and when it woke up it got confused and wandered off.'
Stephen put his hand to his mouth to stifle the laugh that was building up.
'That dog hated him, and that bloody elk. It used to freak him out too. He used to howl at it sometimes.'
'Why do you come in here, if you hate it so much, Margot.'
'Because there's nowhere else to hide. The rest of the house is full of mouldy old foxes, otters and bloody owls, there's even a stuffed pike in the bathroom. The birds stare at you more than the elk does. The kitchen is the only place that hasn't got a carcass in it, but there's an awful draught that gets under the back door and I flatly refuse to spend all my time in there.'
Stephen nodded sympathetically.
'Why don't you just chuck them out, Margot? If they're getting to you, put them in the shed or something.'
'He won't have it, they came with the house. He inherited them so he insists they are part of the fabric of the building. He'd sooner me go than them, so I spend my time in here with my music and the computer. At least there's only one eye to watch me when I'm in this room. I turn my back on it, but I know it's still staring at me.'
'Talking of computers. You said you have something you want me to look at?'
'Ah yes, that's the reason you're here isn't it?'
Margot replenished her glass and lowered her voice.
'Is there a way to find out which websites people have been visiting on the Internet?'
'Unless they've been using specific software to hide their tracks then, yes, it's a very simple procedure.'
Margot knelt down and pulled out a large screened laptop from under the coffee table.
'Can you have a look at this? I want to know what he's been up to.'
Stephen was unsure.
'I don't know, Margot, it's none of my business really, it's a private matter.'
'What if he's been on kiddie porn sites or something?'
'That would be a matter for the police. Do you think he has?'
'No, I'll be honest, that's not his thing.'
Stephen stood up and pulled the strap of his bag over his shoulder.
'Sorry, Margot, I...'
'Please,' Margot begged. 'As a friend, just this once. I won't let anyone know, I promise.'
Stephen sat down and opened the lid of the laptop.
'You'll have me thrown out of the profession.'
Margot rested her hand gently on his shoulder.
'I do appreciate this, more than I can tell you.'
Stephen checked the Internet browser history, then the cached pages in the temporary folder.
'Nothing too bad here, Margot. Certainly nothing to worry about.'
'Tell me, please.'
'Well, they all seem to be websites that pay homage to large breasted ladies...'
'I knew it,' wailed Margot.
'Just sites like, Massive Mammaries and Big Boob fest...'
'THE BASTARD!' yelled Margot.
Stephen looked up from the screen and patted her hand reassuringly.
'There's a lot worse than that out there, believe me. You should see some of the stuff people have on their machines.'
Margot was incensed.
'He promised me,' she hissed.
'Caught him out before have you? Ah well, some men do fantasise about them.'
'He's obsessed,' she spat.
Margot placed her glass on the table and turned towards Stephen, then to his horror, she tore open her blouse and pushed her chest towards him.
'I even had these done for him.' she wailed.
'Oh no, please, Margot.'
'You don't like them either.' she cried.
'I do, they're lovely breasts, Margot, it's not...'
'You're just saying that,' she wailed.
'No, I mean it, they really are lovely.'
Margot scooped her breasts from her bra and juggled them in her hands.
'They don't move, ' she complained. 'Not properly. They don't droop, they don't wobble. They sit there like two bloody basketballs. Have a feel?' she offered.
Stephen inched his way to the back of the sofa, he tried to look away but Margot's monster breasts held his eyes.
'I used to have lovely little breasts, gorgeous, pert, breasts, like the models on the catwalks. I looked after them too, they never sagged or drooped, but they weren't enough for him.'
'Margot, put them away please, they're lovely but...'
'I burnt all his magazines, years ago. I found them out in the shed. I threatened to divorce him but he talked me out of it. Then I thought, if I have mine done it would keep him happy and he wouldn't need to look at those...those...deformed whores.'
Margot threw herself at Stephen pushing his head into her breasts. Stephen tried to push her away but she gripped his shoulders and held her ground.
'You don't like them at all do you? ' she cried. 'I don't blame you either, they're horrible.'
'MMmmmf, please, Margot, I can't breathe.'
Stephen dug his heels into the carpet and pushed backwards with all this strength. The sofa toppled over throwing Margot onto the floor behind him. He clambered to his feet, grabbed his bag and walked quickly to the door.
'Sorry, Margot, you're a very attractive woman but I'm not looking for a relationship at the moment.'
Margot wiped her mascara stained eyes and scooped her breasts back into her bra.
'Could you just give me a hand with the sofa before you go?'
Stephen waited until she had fastened her blouse, then walked back and helped Margot lift the sofa upright. As they pushed it across the floor he noticed something glimmer on the carpet. He bent down, picked up a glass ball, handed it to Margot and pointed to the elk.
'He's had his eye on this for a while I'd say.'
Margot put the glass eye in her pocket and dabbed at her face with a hankerchief.
'Whatever must you think of me?'
'Don't worry, Margot, I won't say a word about any of this.'
'You're a good man, Stephen. I shouldn't let it get to me but I can't help it. I need counselling really.'
'You're letting it eat you up, Margot, like the house. Maybe you need a break from it.'
Margot, placed her hand on Stephen's arm and lowered her voice conspiratorially.
'I have a plan,' she confided. 'If all else fails.'
She led Stephen to the door and watched him walk back to his car. As he was about to drive off she waved to him and hurried over the gravel to the gate.
'Forgot to mention, you'll have an email waiting when you get back. There's a committee meeting tomorrow night at the Writers Club. we want to toss a few ideas about and see what comes out. We've invited some of the younger members who don't often come to meetings so they can air their views. Can you make it?'
'I think so, what time does it start?'
'I might be a little late but I'd love to come, thanks for the invite.'
Margot leaned into the car and kissed him on the cheek.
'Thank you for not being too offended. I'd better go and clean my face up before he gets back.'
'Is he at work?'
'He's at an auction,' she moaned. 'Buying more bloody junk.'