The Steel Dog
She said, “Wait,”
He stopped talking.
“I have to pee,” she said.
Looking at her body, he asked, “On me or in the corner?”
“God, in the toilet,” she said. But she got up laughing, quickly leaving her bedroom.
Quentin put on glasses, but the ass was already gone. He listened to bathroom sounds and sleep whispered to him but he pinched his forearm. Hard. Then the toilet flushed and she came back smiling, the red hair dark and smoldering in the dim light.
In truth, he had barely remembered the flower girl, and she still claimed not to remember him at all. But the date with her older sister had kindled his interest. After months of smoldering curiosity, Quentin had decided to learn where the young woman was living, which was surprisingly easy, and then he contrived a situation where they could cross paths. She willingly asked out the boy who had carried her sister’s useless sword. She paid for dinner and the movie on their first date, and she asked him into her bed on the third. This was the fifth date. This was the night when she decided that it was important to hear about the life of Quentin Maurus.
She and her smile and those firm little breasts came back to bed. “Scoot over,” she told him.
He did nothing.
She straddled his thighs, picked up his cock.
“Pinch it,” he said.
"Just do it.”
She had sharp red-painted nails.
He flinched, and she asked, “That hurt?”
“Of course. You pinched it.”
Unsure how to respond, she laughed and stared at this mystery sprawled out in her bed. After a minute, she asked, “Is the story done?”
He said, “No, and it’s not a story.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I don’t believe any of it,” she said.
“And how is that my fault?”
What was this creature? That’s what she asked with her wary face, her nervous hands. “You really have a wife?"
“And her parents died suddenly, leaving her as the heir to the family fortune.”
He said nothing.
“Which means what? For you, that is.”
“I really don’t know."
“Answers aren’t as simple as you might imagine.”
“What do I imagine?”
“I’m the legal husband to an orphan girl, and according to Persian law, I have considerable control over that fortune. Maybe majority control. Although there’s uncles and cousins in the picture. And of course both of us are living halfway around the world. Which is a very big complication.”
She nodded. “Does your wife still live with that old dyke?”
“I don’t know. Or care, really.”
“And when did her parents die?”
“Oh, that was several months ago.”
“So. What's happened between then and now?”
Quentin put his hands on her bare thighs. “Why bother explaining anything? You don’t believe.”
“I want to know.”
“You think it’s a lie.”
“I think...it seems incredible.”
He said nothing.
“Did she go to the funeral?”
“The funeral was over almost before she heard the news. So no, in simple terms, she didn’t have that chance.”
The woman stared at his chest, inventing questions.
“The estate may or may not send money soon,” he continued. “But she’s guaranteed to get some fat portion of several trusts and the proceeds from the sale of three houses. Eventually.”
“We get those things. But I don’t have a crown yet. No.”
Reminded of his poverty, she said nothing.
“Farah talks about going home soon to visit,” Quentin said. “Or she waits until after she becomes a full citizen of Queensland. That decision hasn’t been made.”
“She doesn’t know what she wants?”
“What she wants is secondary,” he said. “Remember, I’m the husband. I have to approve of every decision.”
“But this is Queensland," she said.
“And you’re thinking about this in the wrong way,” he said. “Which is normal enough. It took me longer than a night to figure things out.”
The woman stroked the chest and belly and then dropped on her back beside him. Staring at the ceiling, she said, “Tell me.”
“The rest of it.”
“You don’t believe.”
“I do now. So tell me.”
He said nothing, preparing the way with silence. Then he said, “We went back to Immigration. Just last week, we met with Barbara Stains.”
“Who still is a midget, yes.”
“Stop being clever,” she said.
More silence. “It was an official meeting. Like the first time, and the second time. Madam Stains asked questions about our circumstances, and we described our options. And Farah said that I was her hero, supportive and strong, and she didn’t think she could do any of this without my help.”
“You believed her?” the redhead asked.
“Belief doesn’t matter.”
“She'll divorce you. As soon as it suits her.”
“But you’re not seeing this correctly.”
The woman shut her eyes, waiting to have everything explained.
“Anyway," Quentin continued, "our mandatory meeting ended. As we were leaving, Madam Stains told me to stay behind. She sent Farah to the waiting room, and I sat again, and the lady started to say something. I don’t know what she wanted to tell me, because I interrupted. All at once, I asked if that was the plan all along, murdering her parents.”
“You really asked that?”
“I was surprised to hear the question pop from my mouth. But yeah, I asked it.”
“And how did the lady react?”
“She was impressed. Amused. Curious. Or maybe she was pretending those things. But she did ask me for my impressions of what was happening.”
“What do you think?"
“A Persian princess comes to our country,” he said. “Ostracized by her family, but she’ll always be the only child to one wealthy man. The princess needed a husband, and I was selected from a pool of potential mates. Because I was single, yes. Because I can be discrete, maybe. Because I’m not considered dangerous, and I don’t drink alcohol, which is a major blessing for this kind of work. And I’m the Son of a Hero, which is a noble title in that ancient society. Also I have a better-than-good memory, which is vital if I ever walk among the Persian elite, seeing and hearing quite a lot that would fascinate people back home.”
She laughed at him. “What, you think that you’re going to be a spy?”
“No,” he said. “Spies uncover battle plans and economic figures. I'll be a cultural observer, which is a lot more important.”
“You said this to your midget.”
“To Barbara, yes. In essence. And I'm relatively sure that she wasn’t displeased with my attitude.”
The redhaired woman kept laughing, believing nothing. Believing everything. She probably wasn’t certain about her own state of mind.
“Anyway,” Quentin continued. “I told Barbara that I didn’t care what her plans had been or what the grand scheme was. I was the legal husband to a Persian wife. Persian law holds marriage in high esteem, even if the wedding happened in the infidel West. And I intended to use my wealth and my influence, as soon as got my share.
“Then said something to me. I don’t remember the lady's exact words, but it was something about being surprised that I could be so forthright. I hadn’t really struck her as being that kind of man.”
The woman beside him opened her eyes, rising up on one elbow to look at his face. “Frankly that’s my thought too,” she said.
“Steel dogs,” Quentin said.
He sat up in bed, enjoying the long stretch of a happy animal. Then he looked down at that pale pretty face, saying, “That steel dog sits in its yard, looking brave and solid. But what if the dog came to life? What would that mean to the world? Steel dogs could do so much more than flesh and blood dogs. Springing up and into action, striving to guard a world that desperately needs its protectors…!”