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A Promising Acting Career
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Ken Orford

Modern Fiction


There’s an old joke. It goes something like this:

Man:    Would you come to bed with me for a million pounds?

Woman:     (thinks) Yes

Man:    Would you come to bed with me for ten pounds?

Woman:    What do you think I am?

Man:    We’ve already established what you are. We’re now haggling over the price.

Well I feel a bit like that woman. Or maybe it’s a bit more like Demi Moore in “Indecent Proposal”. Never mind a million pounds, I’d have slept with Robert Redford for free. But David’s no Robert Redford. Mind you, I suppose I’m no Demi Moore. But God do we need the money. Dean’s been out of work for over two month’s now, and my lousy job just about brings in enough to feed us and the kids. We owe gas, electricity and of course, the mortgage.


Oh God, he wants an answer.

“Let me think about it and I’ll tell you in the morning.”

He squirms in the passenger seat of my car. I suppose he’s not that bad looking. I just wish he didn’t smoke – I hate smokers’ breath. He’s decent enough looking, though his belt has gone out a few notches since he was a twenty something fifteen years ago. I suppose it wouldn’t be that bad – and Dean would never have to know. I look at him, and I can feel my throat drying as I wait for his answer.

“No, you’ll just chicken out. Now or never.”

I bite my lower lip – as if I’m thinking about it. But I already know the answer. God I wish we didn’t need the money. I take a deep breath:

“Fifteen hundred.”

He looks at me in amazement, and shakes his head. In response I move a bit and my short skirt rides up showing more thigh. He sees it and glances down, and licks his lips.

“You said thousand. I could get a string of prostitutes for that.”

I feel braver, a bit more like I’m in charge. I lean forward and gently straighten the knot of his tie. I’m aware my top has inched away from my breasts. I’ve not got much cleavage, but there’s more than enough to attract and hold his attention.

“Yes, but they wouldn’t be as good looking as me. And they wouldn’t be as amenable as me.” I move to brush his lips with mine. “And you wouldn’t be able to look at their legs every day in school and think ‘I’ve had her!’ Would you, Mr Headmaster?”

I watch his eyes, and I know he’ll comply. Like the joke says, we’re now haggling about the price. My heart’s pounding inside my rib cage. Oh shit, what if he says ‘Yes’, I’ll have to … Oh God, I’m so sorry Dean.

“Okay. Fifteen hundred – for tonight and the next three Friday nights. After school, until eight o’clock.

“Agreed – a thousand today, and the last five hundred at the end.”

I’m becoming more confident, at least about the business part of the deal. God, I wish I was as confident about the delivery. If Dean found out, I’m not sure who he’d kill first – me or David. And what will he be like? Suppose he’s a bit kinky, and wants to tie me up or spank me or play dress up games or something. Oh my God, I’d die. I look at him, into his obviously relieved face.

“Nothing kinky, mind you. Just sex, and a blow job I suppose. Oh, and you’d better bring condoms.”

I worry that there’s something else I should think of. I look at him again, and I can see he wants to ask something, and I think I know what it is and I’m dreading it. He reaches round and grabs my bottom…

“What about …?”

I bloody knew it!

“Not today. Maybe next week.” Then I have a flash of inspiration.

“But that’ll be an extra two fifty if we do.”

He just nods, clearly a bit disappointed. He asks where we’ll meet, and I tell him that Dean takes the kids to his mother’s place every Friday and never gets back until late. He goes out with his dad and his mum looks after the kids. So he can come to mine.

“But I want you out by eight. I’ll need time to clean up and remove any evidence, because if he ever found out our lives would just not be worth living. Believe me, I’ve seen him annoyed, and he used to do a bit of Karate.”

He nods thoughtfully. “Okay.”

Then he moves to kiss me, and I push him away. “Later ... and you’ll get a lot more than kiss.” I smile, and he gets out of my car and into his.

I let him go first, and I sit and think for a minute. Have I done the right thing? What would Dean really do if he found out? Will I ever be able to look the headmaster in the eye after tonight? Will anyone at school notice – the fact that the head seems to be friendly with one particular, lowly teaching assistant? Well if the bloody Government saw fit to pay me more than a miserable £7 an hour it wouldn’t come to this.

I think about my life. Mediocre at GCSE’s, just scraped into the sixth form – but got an ‘A’ in Drama that got me into Stage School. Highly rated, but then Dean came along … and the rest is history. And this is all that’s left of the “extremely promising acting career” the Drama School said I had – this, and helping with the school play.

Friday afternoon Art with year five – not a bad bunch of kids really; the odd naughty one, but no real terrors. And I’m covering for the teacher this afternoon so that’s pretty good. The afternoon should go quickly – then it’s … oh bugger … I tell myself to put it out of your mind, and just deal with it as it happens. I’m sorry Dean. But I’m doing it for you. For us.

I walk into the school, still ten minutes before the lessons start. The rogues’ gallery catches my eye – photographs of all the staff. From David Lloyd (former pupil, former teacher and now Headmaster) right down to the lowlife – the caretaker, the dinner ladies and the LSA’s. Well, as far as the system is concerned anyone who isn’t a teacher gets paid a pittance. I see my face smiling at me – the caption underneath it announces to the world that I am “Amanda Briant (LSA)”. I know I’m probably the best looking woman on the wall – well, not much competition really. And I’m damn sure I’ve got the best body. I look again at David’s photo and realise that body will be his for four hours tonight. Oh shit!

The afternoon passes in a flurry of papier mache and paint. My artistic side definitely comes through and the kids produce some pretty good masks. I keep glancing at the clock – home time is coming round far too quickly, and as the lesson goes on my head is filled with wilder and wilder images of what’s to come. My mouth is dry, and I just keep forcing myself to think of the money. I keep telling myself it’s the right thing to do. And in my head I keep apologising to Dean.

Oh Christ! There’s the bell. I feel sick. I tidy up, leave the classroom and make my way to the car park. Fuck! Rotten timing … David’s just on his way out of the door. He holds it open for me and smiles.

“Just on my way to the bank, and the chemists,” he whispers as I pass him. I turn and smile a weak smile.

Goodness only knows how I get home – driving was the last thing on my mind. I go up to the bedroom and turn down the bed. I wish we had another room; it seems even more of a betrayal in our bed. But somehow, being in my own house, on my territory gives me some reassurance of control. Besides, I know David will leave with the threat of Dean coming home.

What should I wear? How should I behave? Oh my God, what am I doing? I strip off down to my underwear and think about just putting on my silk dressing gown. But clothes will be a useful barrier and delay the inevitable for little while. I decide on a short, summery, thin skirt and blouse. I sit on the bed – and I look at the bedside table and at the photo of our wedding day. No way is that staying there! As I close the drawer on it the doorbell rings.

I go downstairs and take a deep breath before opening the door. My heart is absolutely pounding my ribcage. I open the door with a nervous, half convincing smile. David smiles back and comes in; I see he’s brought some wine with him. Thank God for that – not only do I definitely need the Dutch courage, but a drink is yet another stalling factor. He tells me he’s parked round the corner, just to make sure. Blimey! Maybe Primary School teachers aren’t as stupid as I thought they were.

I fetch some glasses and he opens the wine. I sit down in the living room and start babble something about school. He cuts me off:

“Let’s forget about school for the next few Fridays, eh? Oh, and before I forget …”

He reaches into his jacket pocket and hands me an envelope.

“It’s all there. A thousand pounds.”

I look inside. There doesn’t seem to be very much – twenty fifty quid notes, that’s all. Might as well have been twenty pieces of silver considering the betrayal I was about to commit.

“Now that’s over, why don’t we take this upstairs and get better acquainted.”

The moment of truth. Ah well, might as well make the most of it. You never know, he might be a decent lover. I take his hand, and get the faint smell of nicotine that hangs over his clothes. I lead him up the stairs, appearing more confident than I actually feel. He glances round the bedroom – I smile to think he’s probably wondering if Dean is going to leap out of the wardrobe and thump him. He takes off his jacket and pulls me towards him. He’s shaking, I can tell he’s probably as nervous as I am, but he smiles:

“Don’t look so worried. I want you to enjoy it too.”

He kisses me. It’s slow, tender and not a bad kiss at all. He’s obviously aware of his breath but I can tell he’s been eating mints all afternoon. Considerate at least. I relax, if I can just get my head clear of all the other thoughts, and just think of this, then it might not be too bad. I feel his hands move round and caress boobs, then he starts to unbutton the blouse. This really is the point of no return. But I’ve got the money, so time to just relax and make the best of the next four hours. His hand is inside my blouse caressing my nipples …

My hand is on the front door latch, but David stops me from opening it. He strokes my face.

“That was the best few hours I’ve spent – quite possibly ever. Thank you. I’ll look forward to next Friday.”

He bends down and kisses me gently – his breath is now a mixture of nicotine, mints, wine and me. Then with another smile, he’s gone. I lean with my back against the front door, close my eyes and take a deep breath. Well, it could have been worse, a lot worse. I go back upstairs – the room reeks of sex. I open a window and spray some perfume around. First things first – a shower. But the water can’t wash away the memories –David’s closeness, his touch, his breath on my naked body and the feeling of our climaxes. I dry myself and luxuriate in the warmth of the fluffy towel, and then I put on my silk dressing gown. I strip the bed and gather up the bedclothes, they are damp from our exertions. Before I go downstairs and put the washing machine on, I look around for other tell tale signs. The picture’s back in its usual place. The condoms – God knows we used a few, he’s got some stamina I’ll give him that – are all disposed of. I smile with satisfaction.

I gather the washing, the empty bottle and the glasses and head downstairs. Halfway down the stairs I hear a key in the lock and freeze.  The door swings open, and there’s Dean. He gives me a puzzled look as he notices my silk dressing gown. Not my usual attire at this time of day. Then his ice blue eyes fix on the wine bottle. He looks at me, he doesn’t say anything. Then I can tell by his puzzled frown, he’s picked up the unmistakable odour. He looks deep into my eyes for what seems like an eternity. Then in a voice I can hardly hear:

“Well, it looks like someone’s had a bit of a party. I think maybe it’s a shame I missed it.”

I drop the washing and look at him.

“Christ you frightened the life out me. I wasn’t expecting you back yet.”

“I’ll bet.” He smiled a smile with it’s origins in the Arctic.

“How was your day?” I ask as I approach him.

“Not as much fun as yours, I suspect.”

I put my free arm around his neck and kiss him – conscious I haven’t brushed my teeth. Ah well, can’t be helped. He kisses me back, and looks at me with a slightly puzzled expression, then seems to shrug it off as he announces:

“I had fun with some new toys though today.”

I grin, “Really?”

“The new mike in the car was well worth the investment. The recording’s clear as a bell.”


“And the reason I’m early is because I couldn’t wait to see if the new camcorder worked as well as it did when we tried it last night.”

“Well you’ll certainly get your money’s worth – Christ he was a bloody machine.”

“So you enjoyed it?”

I shake my head and look to the heavens. It’s always the same. Men are so insecure. I have to reassure him every time. That’s why I do try and remove all the obvious evidence – though God knows he’s got a bloody four hour recording of his wife doing some things that would make a porn star jealous. He always wants to hear me say the same thing though.

“He’s nowhere near as good as you, babe. But I have to say, he was a lot better than that deputy head at the last school. And the head at Crump Lane Infants, yeuk -  he was bordering on the disgusting.”

“Well at least he’s been worth it financially! Though I think that particular well is about to dry up. That’s the key to good blackmail – knowing precisely when you’ve squeezed enough. Still, your Mr Lloyd makes seven now, and in a month’s time he’ll give you a glowing reference in exchange for a reduction in the monthly payments.”

I almost feel sorry for David. He’ll have a hell of a shock when I don’t turn up on Monday and Dean does! Dean hugs me and looks into my eyes again, with rather more warmth than a few minutes ago.

“You know, I listened to your conversation from the car. It never ceases to amaze me how you sound. God, I could hear your voice trembling – how the hell do you do it?”

“You still haven’t got it, have you? It’s called Method Acting. You have to immerse yourself into a role so much that your mind starts to believe it. I can actually make myself believe that I am desperate for money, and so the thoughts in my head and all the reactions look and feel like real thoughts and reactions.”

I look up and give Dean another hug.

“Maybe I’m a bit schitzo, but they said at Drama School I was their most promising pupil for years, and I should ultimately find a starring role that was made for me.”

I smirk, and wink.

“I think they were right!”

© Ken Orford, 2008

©, 2010