The Incumbent: Chapter 44

Summary:It's an intricate web of murder plots, government conspiracies and rampant tanning. Oh, and the future of the entire nation.

It was a shock for Duff to wake up, finding a naked Holton-Lacey nuzzling up behind him. It was also a relief, in that the alternative explanation was that his wife had a penis and he'd never noticed it. Perhaps because it had never been this erect before. It was only when Holton-Lacey called him 'darling' and nibbled him on his left ear that he realised something was wrong. He hadn't been nibbled on the ear for 40 years.

'Oh my god, no!' screamed the prime minister, recoiling to the edge of the mattress.

The finance minister screamed and jumped out of bed, his erection pulling the covers away with him. Carrying such a heavy load ached a bit, but Holton-Lacey was momentarily proud of just how much weight it could bear. He wrapped the duvet around him as he went in search of his clothes. As he did so, his mind was racing. How the hell could he explain his way out of this?

'Oh my god, no!' screamed the prime minister, recoiling to the edge of the mattress.

Duff was wondering whether this happened every night. Not with him, obviously. He'd remember that for certain. But last night he had slept in his wife's bed. He had been having horrible nightmares — he was dreaming that Holton-Lacey was machine-gunning down thousands of people. He came to his wife's bed, seeking company. Perhaps, in the morning, he'd thought, they could rekindle the flame from the early years of their marriage; or, at least, to be accurate, the first couple of weeks. He had been quite excited to see his wife in her transparent negligee and a little bit more so that she had openly displayed herself in front of Holton-Lacey. The thought of her as an exhibitionist excited him. Now, though, it was clear the two were having an affair. It was the only conclusion he could draw.

'I should have told you before,' said Holton-Lacey, half an hour later when Duff walked into the breakfast room. Duff's wife, wearing a less-appealing pair of flannelette pyjamas and a pink dressing gown with a Dumbo the elephant motif, was standing beside the toaster, observing. The two of them had obviously been discussing what had happened before Duff walked in.

'I love you,' said Holton-Lacey, sitting opposite the prime minister and tenderly taking his hand.

'What?' said Duff.

'I always have. And last night, I just had to spend the night with you.'

Duff expected to be repulsed by the thought, but he was actually grateful that someone was taking an interest in him. His own wife obviously didn't feel the same way; she had moved downstairs — actually, down two flights of stairs — to escape his intermittent snoring. Holton-Lacey had found the snoring endearing when he thought it was from Duff's wife, but he was besotted and thought everything about her was close to perfection. Although he didn't have high standards.

The two had hatched the 'I'm gay' plot as a way of covering up the night's misunderstanding, as well as paving the way for them to continue their dalliance in a more open way.

'The truth is,' said Holton-Lacey, trying to look sincere (years as a politician meant he was one of the best when it came to faking it), 'I'm gay.'

Years as a politician meant he was one of the best when it came to faking it.

Duff sat back, a big smile on his face.

'That's a bloody relief,' he said. 'I thought for a moment you were having an affair with my wife.'

Everyone in the room laughed. They knew Duff was easily swayed.

'Oh, no,' said Holton-Lacey, a little smile in his voice now. 'Obviously, as a gay man, I find her quite repulsive.'

She seemed a little upset by the remark.

'But I can see, at times, she needs company,' continued Holton-Lacey, 'so I do join her in bed.'

'Hence the confusion last night,' concluded the prime minister, clapping his hands as if to dismiss the matter, and reaching for a box of breakfast cereal and the morning paper. It all made perfect sense now. Except for the bit about the erect penis. If Holton-Lacey thought he was in bed with her, why was he so hard? Duff dismissed the thought for a moment; it was all too complicated. He concentrated, instead, on what was it to be that morning — Wheety-bits or Honey Chuffs?

Topics: Telcos


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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