A Hot Night on the Town

The only man of her own age
had that unwived-in look -
you know the one: frayed,
just a little,
eyes on the carpet,
bitten nails, baggy crotch.
He smiled back at her.

In her mind
she ran through the advice in
Cosmopolitan, New Woman,
New Idea
and settled for
'Be Direct!'
'Challenge him!'
'Ask Important questions!'

'What do you do, then, when you're not
at fortieth birthday parties?'

'I live here. In Campbell Town.'

Great. Now what important question
can follow that? What? Who with?

'What do you do, then, living here?
In Campbell Town?'

He glanced at her. Brown eyes gazed
into grey eyes, skidded back to the

'What do I do?' he asked.

Oh gawd, one of those rhetorical questions.
How she hated rhetorical questions: How
do I know it's over? Why don't I love you
any more? What's wrong with you?

What's wrong with me tonight, she thought.
'Persist!' murmured Cosmopolitan.

'Yes, do. In Campbell Town.'

'Sex,' he said. 'Sex on heaters.'

The world spun.
The carpet seemed to fling off the beer stains.
Curtains shook out creases.
Furniture plumped its cushions.
Lights flickered coded messages.

'Sex on heaters,' she asked.

Brown met grey again and held for a moment.


'Good, eh?'

He nodded. 'The best.'

'What about the ridges? I mean, Dimplex heaters -'

He shook his head.
The ridges faded from her spine.

'But the heat?'

He smiled as she melted,
poured herself into a stream of running pleasure.
'Can be as hot as you like,' he said.

Images blurred,
Handfuls of eager bottom urged him on
as the logs burned
and their skin reddened
and they rolled over and over.
Sparks flew
eddies of hot air teased
taut nipples

'Another beer, Barry?'
The host held out the Fosters
whose chilled glass made sweat move
through her perm
twitching her scalp.

'Ta,' he said and the host lingered
as she lingered on a new image.
A cold tinnie
slid over her body
as the heater made them steam.

'Still doing the same thing, Barry?'

The steam evaporated.
She waited, held her breath,
stilled her heart.

'Yup,' he said. 'Still there.'

'A great product, those Saxon heaters,'
said the host, moving away.

'Saxon heaters?' she said. 'Like
Anglo-Saxon heaters?'

'Well, they're not that old,' Barry said,
looking around for a new conversation
with someone sweating a bit less.

Maybe she was too old for this.
She said goodbye
and went looking for her car in the
cool Tasmanian evening.

Also by Doris Leadbetter:

Going to Cradle Mountain on a Bus