Happy Monday, my wonderful peeps.
Here’s this week’s peek into the crazy lives of the residents of Ludlow Hall (and it’s a doozy)…
It’s late afternoon in Nico Ferranti’s office at Ludlow Hall…
Ah, it is good to kick back and relax after a busy and productive day. Nico powers down his laptop, leans back to stretch out in his fancy schmancy ergonomic chair of soft black leather. Don’t you just love it when everything in life comes together as it should? Psychologists call the occurrence a state of ‘flow’. Whatever, business is booming. His baby girl’s bruised cheek is healing as it should. The twins have settled into school and are sailing through math and reading tests. Tonio is top of his class and captain of the soccer team Go, Tonio! The baby is finally sleeping through the night, thank you, Jesus. His wife loves him to bits. Hell, when has life ever been this good? A brisk knock at the door and Josh Erichsen pokes his head in, smiles when he sees his pal. He strolls in and closes the door. Today, he’s wearing soft jeans, a pale blue button down shirt, navy sweater and black steel capped work boots. Seems Josh has been on a building site.
“Hey, passed Julie on her way out, she told me to come on through. You got time for a beer?”
Nico spins in his seat to the built-in cooler behind his desk. “Si! Have a seat. How are things?”
Josh eases himself into a fat leather club chair the color of blackcurrants, accepts an icy bottle of Peroni. “Thanks. Good. Broke ground on a new project. And, so far—touch wood—the planners are in harmony with my project manager and crew. Long may it last.”
Nico takes a sip of Italian nectar, closes his eyes to enjoy the moment. “And how are Jan and Boo?”
“Good. Boo’s found her feet and is on the move. Jan’s been teaching her how to climb down stairs backwards. It’s the cutest thing, evah.”
Experienced daddy, Nico nods. “Need eyes in the back of your head when they are at that age.”
Josh rolls blue eyes. “Tell me about it…” But, before he continues, a white-faced and wild-eyed Alexander plunges through the door.
Dressed for business in a smart dark grey suit handcrafted in Savile Row, his crisp white shirt is unbuttoned at the neck and his silk tie is askew. Alexander sinks gingerly into the chair next to Josh. “Thank god you’re still here, Nico,” he says in a squeaky voice. “I’m in deep shit.”
“Rosie? Mila?” Josh asks as he sits up, places his bottle on the leather top of Nico’s oak desk.
Alexander shakes his head, closes his eyes tight. “No. They’re fine. It’s me. I’ve had an accident.”
Alarm shoots up Nico’s spine. “Car accident? Anyone hurt?”
Again Alexander shakes his head, this time he lets out a long low groan. “No. Me. I’ve really messed up. I’ve spent all day trying to fix it. And I can’t. I can’t!”
Nico and Josh exchange a wide-eyed look.
Nico turns to a pale Alexander. “If it is business, you must not worry. There is nothing we cannot fix. Even if we’ve taken a financial hit, we will weather the storm.”
Alexander shakes his head. “No. No. Business is good. It’s… It’s me. I don’t know what to do.”
Josh reaches over to grab Alexander’s hand. “Are you sick? Is it bad?”
Cristo! Nico knew the state of ‘flow’ wouldn’t last. But, this? How will he tell Rosie and Bronte that Alexander is seriously ill? Panic uncoils in his gut.
Alexander closes his eyes tight and slumps in the chair. “No. I’m not sick. But I’ve gotta problem… a big problem.” He opens his eyes to watch their faces. “I need to go to A&E. I’ve seriously messed up, Nico.”
Bemused and bewildered, Nico looks at Josh. Josh looks at Nico, lifts his brows and shrugs in an I-have-no-clue-man gesture.
“What has happened?” Nico asks all at sea without a boat or a life jacket.
Alexander sits up places his elbows on his knees. His Adam’s apple bobs once, twice.
“It happened this morning. We were waiting for ‘the call’ to say we got the deal…”
“Si, and we won, so?”
“Well, I was in my bathroom and needed to pee. I was in a hurry. So, when the phone rang I… I…”
Josh leans forward. “You what?”
Alexander’s cheeks puff as he blows out a very long breath. “I pulled up the zipper of my pants too fast… and trapped a long sliver of skin on the underside of my dick in the metal teeth of the zip.”
When Josh takes a deep inhale of utter horror and Nico’s eyes go wide, Alexander nods. “And, it’s bad. Four inches of skin stuck fast.”
“Omigod,” Josh whispers, his face pale. His eyes drop to Alexander’s package. He winces. “Can’t you just, sort of, yank the zipper down?”
“I thought of it, but I can’t bring myself to do it.”
Nico cranes his neck to check out the package in trouble. “Looks okay from here.”
Alexander shakes his head. “No. It’s not this zip! I had to cut myself out of my suit pants. The zipper’s still attached. These are new pants. Christ, how am I gonna tell Rosie? I will never, ever, live this down?”
Never mind Rosie, Nico thinks. What about Bronte? He stands up. “Right. We will go to the emergency room and get this sorted. Nessun problema!”
“I’m coming, too,” Josh says, his blue eyes dancing with sheer wickedness.
“I feel sick,” Alexander mutters as his two best pals escort him out of Ludlow Hall and into the car park and into Nico’s black shiny Range Rover.
“We will fix it!” Nico slaps Alexander on the back so hard Josh coughs to hide a choke of laughter.
In the accident and emergency department of the local hospital, the guys stand at the long narrow desk in reception…
The place smells of antiseptic with an oily undertone of bodily fluids. There are a small number of people seeking assistance, including a young mother with a young baby, and an elderly man sitting on a trolley with a horrible head wound.
“How can I help you?” A grey-haired dragon who protects the gates for the genuinely sick and injured eyes three men who look the picture of health. Her gaze narrows on Josh’s shit-eating grin, Alexander’s white face, and Nico’s I’m-in-charge toothy white smile.
Alexander opens his mouth—but nothing comes out except a pitiful squeak. A squeak that makes the dragon’s black pencil brows rise sharply above the black frame of her reading glasses. “What the problem?” she snaps.
Alexander closes his eyes, drops his chin to his chest. “I have a delicate and personal problem.”
The dragon leans over the desk. “Listen up. In here there is nothing I have not seen or heard. Do you or do you not require the immediate attention of a doctor?”
Alexander lifts his head, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “I’ve trapped my penis the zipper of my pants.” He holds out his thumb and forefinger about four inches. “This much.”
She doesn’t blink. “And these guys are your two amigos who have come to support you in your hour of need?”
“Okay. Let’s fill in the details.” She turns to the flat screen on her desk to bring up a form, and barks, “Name?”
Thirty minutes later, Alexander’s heart is going crazy against his ribs. Jesus, he needs to keep calm. The thought of a needle going anywhere near his junk makes perspiration bead on his top lip. He’s lying on his back on a narrow bed in a cubicle without his suit pants, his Calvins and his shoes. On either side of the bed are two young nurses. They’re wearing thin latex gloves and holding long metal tweezers. They are total professionals. Not once have they snickered or grinned at his predicament. In fact, if anything, their serious demeanour is having him shit bricks.
“You’ve really caught the foreskin,” one says as she peers up close and personal at his dick. He can feel her breath on super sensitive flesh. He closes his eyes tight and tries to ignore the way her latex covered fingers are fiddling with metal teeth on delicate flesh.
“It’s a good job you didn’t leave it until tomorrow, or you would be in bigger trouble. This sort of thing happens all the time, usually to young boys. But, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible before swelling or infection takes hold,” the other one says. She has a white can in her hand and shakes it with vigour. “I’m just going to use a numbing spray. It’s cold. It won’t hurt.”
When the freezing spray shrivels his junk, Alexander nearly hit the ceiling. His girly yelp mortifies him enough he covers his burning face with the hands. And is that laughter he hears from his two amigos sitting behind the curtain? Bastards.
Twenty minutes later…
“I think we need to get a doctor. He might need a circumcision,” a nurse says. Her wide blue eyes are sympathetic as they meet an Alexander’s who’s lungs have gone tight with something like horror. “Good job you didn’t try to yank down the zip or we’d be dealing with the plastic surgeon. Let me go get the duty registrar.”
As she closes the curtains, she sends a wide-eyed reproof to a Nico and Josh who are suffering great paroxysms of silent laughter.
“Did you hear him whine when she said circumcision?” Josh whispers to a teary Nico.
“Si.” Nico inhales a couple of deep breaths through his nose.
“Did you see how he couldn’t speak to the receptionist? He tried twice and nothing came out?” Josh whispers, swiping tears of hilarity from his wet cheeks.
The nurse returns with a young Asian doctor dressed in blue scrubs hot on her heels. The doctor eyes a Nico and Josh who sit up straight in their grey plastic chairs and assume serious expressions of brotherly solidarity. The doctor clearly isn’t impressed as he breezes past them. The nurse closes the curtains with a snap.
“Stop laughing. It’s not funny,” Josh leans over to whisper into Nico’s ear.
Nico nods, but his smooth brow creases as he bites down hard on his bottom lip, his wide shoulders shaking. Dio mio, who would have thought he’d be spending the early part of the evening in a drama involving Alexander’s dick?
Half an hour later…
Josh and Nico walk back to the car with a relieved Alexander between them.
Alexander lets out a shaky laugh. “Rosie’s gonna kill me. No sex until the stitches dissolve and the wound is fully healed, not even with a condom. Honestly, when the nurse mentioned going under the knife, I thought I was gonna pass out.” He places a hand on Josh and Nico’s shoulder. “Sorry I spoilt your evenings. Thank you so much for coming with me.”
Nico turns to give him a toothpaste-white smile. “Nessun problema. I would not have missed this for the world.”
“Are you in pain?” Josh asks from the back seat as the car glides down the winding country road toward Ludlow Hall.
“Stings a bit, but painkillers will deal with it,” Alexander says, and stretches out as he relaxes for the first time in eight hours. He turns to eye a Nico who is biting down hard on his bottom lip. “You’d better warn Tonio and Luca about the dangers of zippers, pal.”
Nico turns to give him big eyes. “No need. They are Italian!”
Ah, men and zips.
The jaws of death.
This Friday we have the first of the Golddiggers short story. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a great time in my entire writing career. There are eight in total to take us right through the holiday season!