Mr Fontwell, 36 Filbert Road, the card said. The name meant nothing but Sarah thought she knew where the address was. Big houses over on the edge of town, south side. She wanted to ask: what’s he like? He’s OK, isn’t he? Nothing too… but she also didn’t want to sound too new, inexperienced. So she just smiled at Mrs Maltby, on reception. There was a sort of quizzical smile back. Did that mean anything? Nervous. Sarah was that all right. But weren’t you bound to be, your first day?
The Acme Nursing Agency. Private clients and households a speciality.
Sarah had just started, finally having had her fill of state nursing and those abysmal salaries. Private agencies paid twice as much, or some of them. Acme for one. All right, people said, yes but you know about those places. You know what some of those clients want. But people were bound to say that sort of thing. People with an interest, nurses too scared to take the plunge. Sarah didn’t believe it but you were bound to be apprehensive, just starting. It’d be OK when she’d been to a couple of clients and got her bearings. This Mr Fontwell.
What was his problem? His complaint? If he had one. It didn’t say on the card. Or rather it said: diagnosis non-specific. It said that when they didn’t have anything properly wrong with them. ‘Nothing actually somatic but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a nurse.’ Mr Collins who ran the agency. Sarah had had a talk with him after accepting the job. ‘Human contact, compassion and sympathy, Nurse. But isn’t that what nursing is basically all about anyway?’
This Mr Fontwell. She really should have asked someone. Someone would have gone there before, for his ‘diagnosis non-specific’. One of the other girls. The agency had quite a number she thought, but they were only, fleetingly in the office. But he was probably all right, an old man wanting a bit of companionship and sympathy. Nothing nasty. Nothing like those nasty things people said. Yes Mr Fontwell was very probably OK. Sarah put on her coat, over the uniform. She didn’t like the uniform, didn’t like a number of things about it. It was, well, almost designed to make people think those things about agency nurses.
Gerald Fontwell at 45 wasn’t exactly an old man. He had asked for her. The new one. ‘Put me down for that new one when she starts.’ Mr Collins had peered over his glasses. ‘Everyone wants new ones.’ Indicating that they were talking about a scarce and desirable commodity. Mr Fontwell was not put off by this. He would pay any extra that was thought necessary. He was prepared to pay for his pleasures. But was she… ah… acquainted with what was what?
Mr Collins, an avuncular figure who could inspire confidence in people (he couldn’t be involved in anything at all off surely?) had adjusted his spectacles and said, ‘In general terms.’ But she had of course signed her contract, he added. A girl was on her own when she was with a client. ‘Well, some may have their little ways, Nurse.’ You did get complaints from the new ones, naturally. ‘He can’t do that.’ In shocked tones. Mr Collins, in his avuncular way, would point out the difference between what she was earning now and what it had been before, as a state nurse probably. And also point to what she had signed in her contract. That small print. Sometimes you found they hadn’t bothered to read it.
Gerald Fontwell looked out of his window. A nice morning. Not that he intended going out in it. No, not any chance at all of that. Nurse Wilkins, Sarah Wilkins, that was her name, a nicely brought up middle-class girl from the record that he’d been shown. Definitely not one of your young scrubbers. A nice little brunette Mr Collins had said. Smooth talking Collins, that dirty old bugger. What did he do with them? Well, he had the run of them, didn’t he: the cock in the hen house. Perhaps he was past it, though? Gerald Fontwell looked at his watch. Five to ten. Five minutes. Did she have a car?
The slightly battered 2CV was at that moment encountering traffic. Its driver was going to be late. Not a lot but when you already had that tense feeling in your stomach it didn’t help. Stop worrying and think of the pay. She would be able to pay off that bank loan. If she ever got to Mr Fontwell’s. The white nurses cap on the seat beside her. ‘Always wear the cap.’ Mr Collins’s instruction. ‘The clients expect it. And of course the rest of the uniform exactly as specified.’ That included underwear: black silk knickers and bra; a matching black suspender belt for the tan stockings. Why did underwear have to be specified, unless… Sarah drove that line of thinking out of her head. Concentrate on the road. If you were half an hour late on your first day he’d have an excuse for… something.
But it was only five minutes. Cramming the little cap on her head in the driveway. It was one of those big houses. Don’t stop and worry. Ring the bell. He came, almost immediately. Waiting probably. Not at all what Sarah had expected. Not old, or not that much. Heavy-set, fat even. Flat black hair above rounded features. Sharp eyes examining her.
‘Nurse Wilkins? Sarah I think? Come in then. Let’s have your coat off. Let’s have a look at you.’
Her coat. Yes. She was still flustered by the sight of him. Removing her coat would naturally reveal the uniform. She felt a strong urge to keep the coat on but clearly you couldn’t. Anyway Mr Fontwell had probably seen the Acme Agency uniform before. Unbuttoning. She didn’t really like the look of this Mr Fontwell. He wasn’t old, a doddery old man. He was only… what, not fifty? And there was something about him. If he wanted something you could imagine he made sure he got it. Stop it, she told herself. He was going to be all right. But what… was he going to want?
The uniform. On display as she took the coat off. An abbreviated white skirt, the hem barely reaching the tops of her stockings. The waist held tightly in with a wide red belt. The top of the uniform, the blouse, was cut off to finish some inches above your waist. Bare flesh on show there. The awful outfit was completed with tan stockings and black stilettos.
‘Very nice.’ His eyes gleaming. ‘You girls from the agency’ve got a very nice outfit and you fill it out a treat, young Sarah.’ His hand came out and touched her bare waist. She shivered. She wanted to leave. She knew she wasn’t going to enjoy this — whatever it was. ‘Hey!’
He had without warning taken her glasses off. Everything suddenly a blur. ‘Hey! Give me…!’
The blurred face cackling. ‘Can’t you see, Sarah?’ She reached out. ‘No…’ Another cackling laugh and his hand was at her bottom. Squeezing. She gasped, jerking away. Then he was in front, pulling her to him. Her short-sighted eyes at last caught him in focus. Much too close for comfort. His grinning face. His body hard against her. She turned her head away. ‘Give… give me my glasses.’
His hand came down to squeeze her bum again. Then he let go. She was shaking, close to tears, ‘Give me…’ The glasses suddenly in her hand. She fumbled them on. Sighted again. Mr Fontwell, his sitting room, abruptly there, appearing out of the blur. Her heart was thudding at a dizzy rate. The rotten bastard.
‘Don’t… you do that.’ Stammering. ‘I…I don’t have to take that.’
His face was still grinning. ‘You have to take exactly what I want, Nurse Wilkins. Look at your contract. Have you looked at that fine print?’
She hadn’t. Not all of it. But there couldn’t be anything saying she had to take that sort of thing.
‘Look… what is… I mean what’ve I got to do?’ Fighting to keep her voice steady. ‘Please be… be sensible,’ she added hopefully.
Mr Fontwell gave another of those laughs. ‘You’re really a new one, aren’t you? But I like that. I like a nice fresh girl. What I need is a massage. You know… I… uh… have this problem and I need it massaged. OK?’
Still shaking, she tried to sound professional. ‘Muscle problems? Manipulation?’
Mr Fontwell said. ‘Yes. That’s it: manipulation.’
He led the way upstairs. At least he wasn’t making her go first, in the short skirt. Into his bedroom. ‘I’ll get undressed, shall I?’ he asked. But Mr Fontwell was doing it anyway. His shoes. Trousers and shirt. His… Sarah looked away, her face red. Mr Fontwell had a full erection. He sat on the bed, with it jutting up in front of him. ‘Back first or front?’ he asked, grinning. ‘I want it all over of course.’
Oh God. ‘G…get on your front.’
He was fat. She didn’t like touching him but she had to. Kneading the flabby flesh. And knowing what he was going to want when he turned over. Manipulation. Could she say she wouldn’t? But Mr Fontwell had paid for a massage. She was here to do it. She tried to concentrate. His fleshy back. Arms. Buttocks. Mr Fontwell groaning slightly. His head turning sideways. ‘OK. That’ll do. Now…’ He was turning over.
It was still there. Sticking straight up. His eyes on her. ‘OK, Nurse Wilkins. Now the front. All of it of course.’
‘Come on. No looks. You look at your contract. You do what the client wants. Whatever medical attention is required. Come on: a nice rub.’
It was what people said of course. She hadn’t wanted to believe it but it was true. That was why you got the big salary. Don’t think about it, just do it. It was only a massage, what was the difference. Just do it. She needed the job didn’t she? That overdraft. Do it then. She sat down on the side of the bed, as Mr Fontwell indicated. And did it. Her hand… Up and down… Until…
It was over. She felt a bit sick but it was over. She had earned her money. Mr Fontwell was getting up, getting his clothes on. That was it. It wasn’t so bad. If you didn’t think about it.
‘That was very nice, Nurse. What a man needs in the morning, eh? A nice massage. Now then, something for Nurse Wilkins. Something every nurse needs now and then, and especially of course a new one.’
It was not possible but Mr Fontwell had a cane in his hand. He wanted to…
Shaking her head frantically. ‘No! I’m not…’ He grabbed her arm. ‘Don’t be silly, you all get it. Not hard, it won’t hurt. But you’ve got to take it. It’s part of the patient’s therapy, caning the nurse.’
Protesting that she wouldn’t, it was ridiculous, but he was insisting. And now she had done that other thing… ‘Come on. Get up on the bed. Kneel up.’ Somehow she was doing it. Kneeling on the bed where minutes before Mr Fontwell had been stretched out and she had done that… and thought it was all over. He had put a stool at the foot of the bed. She had to lean forward, put her hands on it. Mr Fontwell was pulling up the short skirt. Exposing the black silk knickers that you had to wear, that was part of the uniform. He was taking them down. Sliding the knickers down off of her bottom. She was gasping out words of protest, refusal, but at the same time it was happening. She wasn’t stopping it. She couldn’t. The other had happened and now this. Part of the job.
Her knickers were down. Unbelievable but she was kneeling on his bed with her skirt up round her waist and her knickers down. Her bottom bare. ‘Get right down.’ Mr Fontwell’s rasping voice. ‘Head down and get your knees apart.’ NO! She could see the position, what she would be showing, but Mr Fontwell was pushing her knees apart. She couldn’t… she wouldn’t… she didn’t have to…
Oh Jesus. He had hit her. The cane. He said it wouldn’t hurt but… her poor bottom. Zinging with fiery pain. ‘Nooo… aiiieehhh!’ Another one. ‘Nooo… aaaiiieeehhh!’ Another one. ‘No! Nooo! You can…’
‘Aaaiiieeekkk!’ And another.
‘Keep still, Nurse. How can I get my therapy if you keep writhing it around like that. Get further on down. Hands between your legs. Come on.’
‘No! No I ca… aaarrrnnngggh!’
There was not much traffic on the way back and the little car had no trouble finding its way. Mrs Maltby was there at the reception desk when Sarah went in. That quizzical smile again. Of course she knew. She had known this morning what Mr Fontwell was going to want, what Sarah was going to have to do, to submit to, to earn that nice big salary. Sarah knew what she was thinking: Now she knows, the greedy little thing. Greedy like all the rest of them, now she knows the price. She hurried on through. Mr Collins was in, with his door open. Waiting for her to get back? Because he called Sarah in.
She had thought Mr Collins was so nice. A nice old chap, though not that old. Nice like she had thought the clients were going to be. Mr Fontwell. Don’t think about Mr Fontwell. Mr Collins getting up. That nice friendly smile. But he had known, like Mrs Maltby had known.
‘All right, Sarah? Go all right, did it? Of course he’s got his little ways, our Mr Fontwell. But all they really want is a bit of sympathy and friendliness. Mmmm?’
Sarah didn’t answer. All Mr Fontwell had wanted…
Mr Collins’s hand slid round her waist. It tightened. A sympathetic and companionable gesture. His voice soft in her ear. ‘I suppose he… ah…’
The hand casually dipped down. To Sarah’s bottom. Her caned bottom. Through the thin coat it gently jiggled the still smarting cheeks. Sarah trembled. The voice in her ear was saying things. As the hand continued to jiggle.