William finished his mug of tea and put the mug down. ‘The next door neighbour, Paula, she pays to have sex with me,’ he said, breaking the silence.
‘Oh, yes?’ Jill curled her legs underneath her as she sat back on the sofa, her head cocked towards him at a sceptical angle.
‘She pays quarterly, and that is a whole year - paid in advance…’ William gestured towards the mantelpiece. ‘…there, on the shelf.’
Jill arched up to glance at the pile of coins. ‘Ah, yes. But what can you buy for four pence these days?’
‘Well…. But that is not the point.’
‘What is the point then?’ Jill grinned. Apart from you claiming there is some poor woman is deluded enough to want to pay to have sex with you?’
‘No, yes. In a way….’ William shrugged. ‘Anyway, you married me.’
Jill shrugged back at him. ‘We were young then. I was foolish.’
‘Ha.’ William laughed mirthlessly. ‘No, but the point is…. I mean, this four pence thing is an obvious joke.’
‘Obviously,’ Jill agreed. ‘Not even Paula could be that crazy.’
William leant towards her. ‘It must follow though that there are women out there who are really in that situation.’
‘What, living next door to a loony?’
‘Ha ha, very funny.’
‘What?’ Jill said. ‘Women so ugly that that they have to pay for it, you mean?’
‘They must be real dogs then, if they can't get a shag. Isn't it you that is always saying that a desperate enough man will shag anything?’
‘No, I'm not talking about that.’
William shrugged again. ‘Sex without complications.’
Jill shook her head. ‘No, women tend to want the complications. Look at the letters to the problem pages. Men: is it long enough? Do I last long enough? Women: does he love me? Is he committed? Women probably won't pay to get a shag, but they might pay to talk.’
‘Oh…’ William looked down at his feet.
‘Hang on,’ Jill said. ‘Just how much is there on the shelf?’
William got to his feet and picked up the pile of coins. ’Fifty-seven pence.’
‘Jill got up too and walked towards him, unbuttoning her shirt as she did so. She took William’s hand and placed it inside the open shirt. ‘Fancy a good time then, big boy?’ She said, holding out her hand for the money.