Monday, 3 July 2017


[Media prompt] My sex doll is so much better than my real wife.

Germans called the Messerschmitt Me 262 the Storm Bird, and it was the fastest and most advanced jet-powered fighter of its time. Limited production towards the end of the Second World War ensured it never realised its full potential, but for Malcolm Liddle this only heightened his sense of appreciation for Teutonic engineering and martial aptitude. His fingers were steady as he fitted the nacelle onto an engine housing the size of his small finger. It locked in with a satisfying click, which he heard over the thumping drumbeat of Gregoire Lourme’s “Dragon Fight”, the ideal musical accompaniment for the exacting tasks required to build a 1:48 replica. At more than fifty hours in, he was satisfied that the Storm Bird would be his crowning achievement, superior even to the desert-rusted Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger tank that took existing pride of place on his shelves.

Malcolm leaned over the magnifying glass on a stand, inspecting the details of the housing. The most delicate work, replicating oil stains and burns, was ahead of him, but he was satisfied with his evening's work. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the streetlight snap off, darkness descending on his yard. It was one o’clock, and Lola would be waiting for him. Methodically, he cleaned his work space, brushing some plastic filings into the palm of his hand, arraying the finished parts of his model on the cutting mat, replacing the tools, purchased and homemade, in their rightful places. Finally, he switched off the desk and magnifying glass lights. At the door, he turned for one final examination, the camouflage daubed wings and fuselage looking just as they must have in the darkened hangars awaiting battle.

The house was dark, but he walked down the stairs from the attic with well-practiced familiarity. At the divorce hearing, his ex-wife had told the judge she dreaded hearing his steps growing ever closer to the marital bed they once shared.

“I don’t know what he does up there,” she had said, a dramatic tremor suffusing her voice. “He could be cutting up bodies for all I know.”

His lawyer had not even bothered to object. In the end the matter resolved itself when Moira was run over by a drunkard driving back to work after a liquid lunch. At the time, he wondered if it was normal to feel such relief, but now he hardly ever thought about it. She was gone, and he had Lola now, who never complained about how long he spent in the attic, or scolded him for his lack of aggression in seeking endless promotions at a job he ranked only slightly higher than political activity for its utility to mankind, or balked at the enthusiasms he exhibited in bed.

Lola’s reading lamp was still burning when he opened the door. She always kept it on for him, unlike Moira who not only insisted that leaving it on disturbed her sleep but eventually asked him to use the spare bed. Malcolm stood at the door for a second, closing his eyes to thank God for the day he saw an advertisement for the Tonashi Group’s top of the range LX-33B, a doll with “a kinder heart, softer skin.” As he pulled back the covers and crawled into bed, he knew there would be no rejection, no excuses, no shying away in disgust.

With a snap of his finger, Malcolm turned on Badalamenti’s “Dark Spanish Symphony,” and in the soft light reached out for a wife who never said no.

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