Ironing Man: Chapter 6
Chapter 6: Massage and Message
Marina sat looking at the letters on the fridge door. The letters clearly spelled out the word ‘London’, but since the Ironing Man had come she had no idea how they got there.
She had seen the word when she was talking to Tom, but he did not seem very interested in the story of her day and had been very quiet as she spoke. He had even looked away from her as she told him the story. And then she had looked on the fridge and seen the word ‘London’. So, suddenly she told him that she was going to see a friend on Thursday. She had no idea where the idea came from, but as she said it she became very excited about it.
Why did she say the person was ‘Joanne’? She did not really know. Of course Joanne was Tom’s friend, and she just agreed that it was Joanne Searle that she was going to see.
And now it was Thursday and Marina was just sitting, looking at the fridge door.
She was so excited about going up to London that she had not slept well. It was only when she got up in the morning that she realized that she had no plans to go anywhere. She felt empty now that the chance of getting away from the village, from the house and from the housework for a day had disappeared. She put her hands around the back of her neck and this made her feel a little bit better.
Then, suddenly the door rang and she ran to get it. She was hoping that the Ironing Man had come back, but it was a woman who stood there. A young woman, about her own age, with blonde hair like her own and a big smile.
‘I know you have no idea who I am,’ the woman said. My name’s Tracy. I am a beauty consultant and masseuse. Your friend phoned me and asked me to come and give you a surprise.’
Marina laughed out loud.
‘You know who phoned me, then?’ the woman asked.
‘I think so, did he give you a name?’
‘The Ironing Man? I’m sure you know what that means,’ and she laughed again. ‘I like a man with a bit iron in him too!’
They laughed as they walked into the house and Tracy set up the massage table. She took some little candles from her bag and lit them. They gave the sweet smell of flowers. She then the found CD player and soon the room was full of the sounds of the Brazilian rain forest.
The smells and the sounds in the room seemed to change as Marina closed her eyes and traveled from place to place in her thoughts. She smiled to herself with her eyes closed and was still smiling sometime later when she realized that Tracy had finished her massage. She finally opened her eyes and saw Tracy smiling down at her.
‘How was that?’ Tracy asked.
‘Wonderful,’ Marina replied.
‘It’s like being on a vacation. Almost as good as sex,’ and Tracy laughed again.
They sat for a while over a cup of tea and Tracy gave Marina her life story.
‘Yeah, I was married for awhile. You know, usual story. Boyfriend from school. I didn’t know any better, I thought love was about giving. Giving flowers and chocolates and having time for each other and looking into each other’s eyes.
‘So anyway, we got married and took a good trip to the West Indies. After that it was never the same. End of giving, end of surprises. He thought after we were married we didn’t have to do that anymore. Only surprise was when he actually listened to what I was saying.
‘And my man, it’s like he just did what his father had done. He went out, earned money, came home and watched television. Went out again to the pub with his friends. Suddenly his idea of a good time seemed to be any without me.’
Tracy looked sad and thoughtful for a moment, but there her smile returned.
‘Anyway, I gave him the push after awhile. Best thing I ever did. Now I do things differently. I mean, one day I might find a man who understands you have to go on working on the love after marriage. But at the moment what I do is this, I just keep them for a little while. I meet them, they love me, they think I’m wonderful, they give me their time and they give me wonderful presents. But when I see they aren’t romantic anymore I let them go. I mean, if men can’t take lover seriously then why should we take them seriously? Just use them and lose them.’
She laughed and Marina laughed with her. It was a laughed that invited other people.
‘Life’s short love, you know what I mean?’
Marina nodded, yes, she knew.
‘Your Ironing Man is still romantic anyway. Enjoy it while it’s there.’
The door bell rang. Tracy looked out the window. A man was standing there beside a car.
‘It’s my boyfriend,’ Tracy said. ‘My day of surprises begins! Lovely boy; look at those shoulders, that bottom. So Strong! Just looking at him sometimes makes me shake, know what I mean? We can’t live without it can we?’
Marina was not sure if Tracy was talking about sex or not. If she was, Marina was not so sure. It was certainly possible to live without sex for a long time. It was Tom’s birthday wasn’t it? That was the last time. A month ago! Twenty nine years old and she was having regular sex. Regular sex once a month! Maybe it was time she took a lover. The thought surprised he and so Tracy when she spoke.
‘Oh god, I almost forgot,’ Tracy said. ‘I have a message from your Man of Iron. He says he’ll meet you at the National Gallery at two o’clock. In your favorite room, he said. Personally I don’t like paintings myself. Well, maybe paintings of men. With no clothes on, of course!’ She gave a laugh and she was gone.
Tracy kissed her man outside the house and he came into the house to take her bags to the car.
Marina smiled and looked at her watch. It was already twelve and she realized she’d have to hurry, so she ran up the stairs to grab her keys. She didn’t even notice Tracy’s car drive off, or the second car immediately drive off after them.
The detective smiled to himself. He had arrived only ten minutes early because all of the houses looked the same and he had trouble finding Tom’s. He had to literally check each number until he park outside this one. The garden that looked like a ‘young man’s beard’.
He started to make notes, but at that moment he saw a car stop into from of the house and watched a good-looking man get out.
‘No time to make notes now,’ he said as he threw the pen and paper in the backseat.
The detective watched a young woman came to the door. The young man helped her carry something. Two bags, very interesting.
Then they stopped and the woman put her hand around the man’s head and pulled him into a long kiss. Very interesting. The detective looked at this notes again. Young, twenty-nine, slim, blonde. Yes, no mistake. This was Tom’s wife, Marina. The man put the bags into the car, the young woman turned and looked at the house and seemed to wave good bye.
‘Very interesting,’ thought the detective as he started the car and followed the car with Tom’s wife down the street.
We all have a ‘Tracy’ in our lives. The needs of her life suck up all the energy from any other characters or individuals that she encounters. It is fine that she is free from the grip of her husband and apparently sexually liberated as well. The red flag is how aggressively she defines herself by those freedoms. The only way that she can relate to another woman is through men and the sexuality they entail. Because Tracy is experimenting with her newfound freedoms with men and relationships, she desperately wants to pull Marina into her life and vindicate the choices she’s made. As Tracy not-so-subtly hinted, she does want to find a stable long-term relationship. She tries to hawk her stable of new and mysterious men as interesting, but she admits these partners are ultimately unfulfilling.
The other side of Tracy, of course, is that her language is so obviously juvenile that perhaps she is quite a big tease. She only speaks about sexuality in an inexperienced, nervous manner because she has never felt the touch a man herself. She likes to lead partners on and then claim piety, as if they are not committed enough to her to take the relationship any further. As evil as Tom is, there is nothing more villainous than being blue balled.
Through Tracy’s rampage, we learn a little bit more about Marina herself. First of all, that girl will let any stranger into her house on the flimsiest pretense. But more importantly, Marina’s marriage seems to be crumbling. Robo-cop Tom does his marital duty once a month, which can hardly be referred to as ‘making love.’ With just the smallest suggestion, Marina seems ready to find a lover on the side and possibly jump the bones of the Ironing Man himself. That is no small part due to the malicious character of Tom who, not content to take the girl out of the city, wants to hormonally pen her up as well.
And we have the trope of a bumbling detective. Spoiler: he will slut-shame Marina.