Baby Suet by John Stone

We’ve a new contributor to the blog.  Let’s welcome Jonathan Stone, who’s written the following short story for critiquing.  This is the first time John has had his work read and, as we know, that’s a fragile and scary moment, so lots of encouragement, please!

sexy_lips_1Baby Suet was motionless in shock. She had not expected her first paying customer to be her husband. The grainy webcam image illuminated his study at the private school where he was the headmaster. It was the sight of his neat tie and tweed jacket contrasting sharply with the naked lower half that horrified her the most. He was stood with his back arched and face scrunched behind the impressive oak desk that dominated the room. She realised almost immediately that he didn’t recognise her. The cheap mask and white drapes effectively hiding her and their guest room from discovery. Should she end the call? She couldn’t think.

‘Whats your name?’ asked Steven, the voice distorted by the cheap microphone and low bandwidth.

She didn’t reply and perhaps he mistook her silence for acquiescence since he sat down and leered at her, his face looming large, filling her screen. The sweat on his forehead shone unevenly over his flushed cheeks.

‘Tell me what you do in your shows pretty lady’ he said.

She forced the laptop shut. Breathing fast she drew her legs under her chin and rocked herself, looking out from the large bay window at the school opposite where she pictured Steven still sat half naked.

Baby Suet, christened Rose Marie Socaro in an unremarkable province just north of Manilla, had always considered herself blessed with good fortune. Ever since she had been plucked from her frantic, family packed, life by the tall very white Englishman, she had relished her status as family provider. At just twenty years of age, tiny and thin with coal black long hair she had dazzled Steven with her white hot flame of youth. Now ten married years older and fatter she fielded the weekly Skype calls from the Philippines asking for for help with skilful efficiency. She routinely pruned out the unworthy and rewarded the just, dispatching funds via Western Union.

Last week all that had changed. Steven had announced over breakfast that there would be no more wasting of their money on her family. Baby had said nothing that day but waited until the following morning to probe a little further.

‘Love can I ask something?’ she began.

Steven nodded without looking up from The Times sheltering his cereal bowel and toast.

‘Love its ok for you we help my brother Lim Lim. He sick in the hospital.’

‘I told you we can’t send any more money. What’s wrong with you? Don’t you understand anything? I just have to keep saying it over and over again. We don’t have money to keep spending on all of them.’

She spoke louder now ‘Why we have no money? Its my fault? But love I only go charity and I don’t buy new.’

‘We have to save the money for ourselves’ shouted Steven. ‘ Now just leave it will you’.

Baby said nothing. Her face was set very still and she didn’t look up at Steven. Even when he relented later and offered to send some money Baby maintained her sulk, her “Tampo” as she called it and ignored him for hours. Only when he repeatedly asked her to find a shirt did she relent, snapping at him ‘Look your eyes not your mouth’ , before laying on her bed alone sobbing.

And so it was from that exchange between Baby and Steven that she hatched a plan to use her webcam to pose and titillate for men on an adult website used by her niece in the Philippines. It was a scheme her niece used to make a surprising amount of money and one that she thought might do the same for her. It was unexpectedly easy to set up and had it not been for that shocking first encounter, a promising career in the adult entertainment industry might have followed. But things had changed. Now Baby wondered constantly if Steven was spending all his money on webcam viewings of other women. Maybe that was why he suddenly had no cash. She had to know.

A month following the webcam encounter Baby prepared breakfast for Steven as usual. Toast and cereal as always. His favourite butter and the thickest and chunkiest economy marmalade. He paid little attention to her, muttering ‘oh yeahs’ to any small talk she made. For years their conversation had been largely task based and today was no exception. She prepared his packed lunch just as he liked it, rice and his favourite “Adobong Baboy” – a rich belly pork dish cooked with soy sauce and vinegar and filled with intense flavour.

She waited. Careful savage brooding waiting. At precisely one in the afternoon she went to the spare room, put on her outfit and mask and connected the laptop to the adult website. Her profile described her as a playful no limits kind of girl and that appears to be what Steven was craving because within seconds he had connected to her. This time Steven was clothed, sat at his desk. His lunch was opened but uneaten in front of him. She waved at him and picked up a plate of food in front of her. Using her fingers she slid large chunks of pork belly in to her mouth. She allowed pork and rice to fall over her sheer black blouse, deliberately smearing the grease over herself. Steven looked astonished and picked up a fork to eat his food as well.

‘Use your fingers’ she whispered.

He did, looking guilty at the lack of convention. She watched him eat and smiled. Downstairs in the kitchen the half empty jar of peanut butter lay discarded. Its contents carefully mixed by Baby with the Adobong sauce that Steven was eating. It wasn’t until the first constriction in his throat that he realised something was wrong. She wasn’t sure if his desperate wide eye stare was due to the lack of oxygen or her mask being removed. Either way her brother Lim Lim would get the care he needed.

The End

 

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4 thoughts on “Baby Suet by John Stone

  1. Thank you for taking the time to critique my very short story and to provide me with feedback. This was my first attempt at writing any fiction. It was a final submission for a MOOC run the by Open University entitled “Start writing fiction”. We were instructed not to exceed one thousand words, which might explain why it felt a little sparse.
    I do take on board the observations about punctuation. It is a weakness I suffer from. Like many people of my generation, we were not taught how to write well at school. I now have an incentive to put that right and thank you for the recommendations.
    I intend to revise the story and lengthen it somewhat before resubmitting it here. I do intend to keep reading and writing. I am now enrolled on a BA in Creative Writing and English Literature which should help to improve my skills further.

    Like

  2. I agree with all the comments so far. It’s a neat twist at the end and I was intrigued by the set up.

    However, the grammar is an issue, which can be fixed with a little study. Try heading to http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl – she is awesome, if you have a query. Alternatively, Eats Shoot and Leaves is a concise guide to grammar, written with humour, making it very readable and a trusty book to have by your side.

    Back to your story. I think we need a better understanding of their relationship. Her motivations for marrying an English man – she’d always dreamed of sipping tea in an English house, cooking for a kind man, whatever, whatever. Has reality failed to live up to the dream? Why is he so angry about the money? He seems quite unreasonable. And it’s quite a leap for her to decide to poison him, based on what we currently know.

    Maybe we could get an impression of when they met; how he wooed her or was it a website, agency arrangement thing? Did she win him with her cooking? That would be a good twist, as that’s what ultimately kills him.

    I don’t think it needs to be much longer, if you’re clever with dropping in details via snippets of her memories etc.

    It’s a good short short, as Chip says. Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For a Short, Short story a good ‘first time’. Intriguing situation and the ending comes over with a punch. I was a bit confused with the names assuming she is Filipino, yet her brother appears to have a Chinese name.
    The points on grammar and punctuation given above are relevant. I found the story believable and a clever conclusion.
    Keep writing

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is an interesting short story, which has scope to be developed into a longer piece. As it stands it feels a little rushed and I would have liked more depth of character from both Baby and her husband. For instance, perhaps Baby withholds sex from Steven if he won’t do as she asks, and thus he is forced to find an outlet for his passion elsewhere. Who is then to blame for his behaviour? At once it all becomes more complicated. There’s scope to show us their relationship and the power plays at work. It could turn out that Steven really is a sex beast and beats her, or perhaps he’s a kind, gentle man who is fed up of being used and manipulated. Anything you can bring in to complicate the relationship adds up to more suspense, and thus a more engaging piece of writing.

    There were several points I noted reading through, mainly to do with grammar. It could be that the piece was, indeed, rushed and needs another check through, but in case you’re fuzzy on some points, I’ve picked out a few instances which I hope will help.

    The opening paragraph needs some work. You need to nail this, so you get the reader interested. I felt it could use more impact. IMHO, rather than immediately telling us she was looking at her husband, or that he’s a paying customer (which tells us too much about her), try making her first thought the fear of discovery, or shame or self-disgust. Then describe the room, and finally that it’s her husband she’s looking at and that he’s a paying customer. Would she feel a sense of fate or irony about the fact that he’s her first ever customer? She might finally become horrified, disgusted and angry with him (rather than herself), thus turning the whole situation on its head.

    Avoid colloquial ‘blips’ in your narrative, such as ‘he was stood’. While it’s acceptable to say it in conversation, in the narrative it causes the reader to pause (which you want to avoid). E.g.,’He stood’ says it more clearly. Of course, should the character, whose head (and thus thoughts) we are following, speak like that normally, it’s okay, but since Baby is not even British, chances are she wouldn’t use that phrasing in her internal dialogue.

    Another ‘blip’: “looking out from the large bay window at the school opposite where she pictured Steven still sat half naked”. Use sitting, rather than sat.

    Punctuation.

    “‘We have to save the money for ourselves’ shouted Steven. ‘ Now just leave it will you’.”
    Always use a comma before the first closing speech marks to turn the dialogue into a clause. “‘We have to save the money for ourselves,’ shouted Steven.'” Also ‘Now just leave it, will you?’

    Pronouns. Baby is using ‘Love’ as a pet-name. This should be capitalised, as she’s referring to someone, not saying ‘I love you’. and it needs to be separated from the flow with commas, or it becomes confusing: “She spoke louder now ‘Why we have no money? Its my fault? But, Love, I only go charity and I don’t buy new.’”

    Also: “She spoke louder now” is a complete sentence. It needs a full stop.

    Check the difference between its and it’s. If shortening to “it is”, always use an apostrophe.

    “Careful savage brooding waiting.” Commas between the adverbs.

    Over all, I liked this and hope to read more of your work in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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