I had been idly scanning the columns of the Saturday newspaper over breakfast and had come across an article with some pictures of a woman and a young guy.
“Look at what?” mum asked glancing up from her plate of cereal.
“I’ll read it to you.”
“If you must,” mum said, reaching out for a slice of toast.
“It says here, ‘Thirty three year old Josephine Taylor was sentenced to two years imprisonment for engaging in sexual intercourse with her son aged fourteen. Ms. Taylor is pregnant, her son being the father. The son who has been taken into State care says he loves her and they will get back together again when she comes out of prison.’ What do you make of that?”
“Is she married?”
I scanned the rest of the story.
“She was but the marriage broke up two years ago.”
Mum crunched on the slice and in a slightly toast muffled voice said, “Its bit hard on her being sent to prison when she’s pregnant.”
“What else could the judge do? All the stuff that’s in the news these days about incest, I suppose he didn’t want to appear to be too lenient.”
“Yes, you could be right…crunch.”
“You know mum, I think this is the first case of incest between a mother and son I’ve ever read about. It’s always about men and their daughters and usually seems to involve violence and abuse. Do you think it happens often between mothers and sons?”
“It doesn’t say. Perhaps they made it too obvious, or maybe the son told one of his mates, you know boasting, and word got around. Anyway, it seems neither of them denied it when they were questioned. Have a look at her picture.”
I handed the paper to mum who studied it for a few moments then said, “She’s quite nice looking, don’t you think.”
“Yes, and he looks older than fourteen. What do you think about it mum?”
“About those two…about incest.”
She brushed some crumbs from her housecoat and looked thoughtful.
“Well, it’s against the law, and the religious people say…”
“Yes, but what do you think?”
“It all depends.”
“Well, if it’s done in love…you know…if it’s…it’s between consenting adults – oh, but he isn’t an adult is he.”
She took another slice of toast and smeared some marmalade on it.
“You don’t seem to think it’s so bad.”
“Well look at the situation; it sounds like the two of them were on their own, she probably didn’t have a man around the place, and he’s at that stage in life where he…where he…you know.”
“Where he gets horny just thinking about a female?”
“Yes, but you needn’t put it so crudely.”
“Who do you think did the asking?”
“Crunch…crunch. Well, if I were to take a guess probably she did. Perhaps he fancied her and she could see he did and she…she…”
“Had the hots for him?”
“Yes, if you must put it that way. I read somewhere that sons often have fantasies about their mothers and…”
“Sigmund Freud,” I interrupted.
“All right Mr. University Bright Boy, if you say so; but what I was going to say was, mothers sometimes have…er… feelings about their sons…oh damn…”
“Crumbs down the inside of my housecoat, they’re scratchy.”
She stood up and started to try and shake the crumbs down and in the process the top of her housecoat opened a trifle to partially reveal her breasts.
She was right about sons fantasising about their mothers because this son had fantasised about his mother for some time. Nothing serious you understand, but when you love someone sexual thoughts can come into it quite uninvited – or at least you tell yourself they are uninvited.
Oddly our situation was a bit like that of Josephine Taylor and son, except it was the other way round – I mean, mum left dad when she caught him screwing the woman next door.
Mum saw me looking at her breasts and hastily covered them.
“What are you staring at, Ben?”
“I…er…nothing…I was just thinking.”
“That makes a change; so why don’t you think about doing the washing up while I start the vacuuming?”
“I thought we were having an interesting conversation.”
“What else is there to say? They were lovers and got caught and now she’s pregnant and…the silly woman she should have taken precautions.”
“Perhaps she wanted to have a baby with him.”
“Yes, and he should have kept his mouth shut and they’d still be enjoying each other; I’ll bet it was him who blabbed; it’s nearly always the men who have to boast about their sexual conquests.”
“I don’t,” I protested, and then tried to correct myself, “I mean, I wouldn’t.”
Mum laughed cynically and said, “You needn’t think I don’t know what you get up to Ben. You’ve been getting plenty of action with that widow.”
That shook me. “You know!”
“Of course I know; just about everybody in the street knows. You’ve been seen going into her place regularly – and don’t tell me you’re just dropping in for a cup of tea.”
I thought I’d been so devious about those visits, and I felt my face getting hot with embarrassment. I’d been enjoying the body of a forty five year old widow for some time. The only thing I didn’t like about it was she liked younger guys – lots of younger guys – so I had to take my turn on the roster.
“Yes, you can blush; I’ve had half the women in the street making comments to me; ‘Oh, doesn’t your Ben spend a lot of time with Mrs. Franklin?’ ‘It must be nice at her age to have young company, and so much of it.’ How do you think I feel, being told things like that?”
“Jealous bitches,” I muttered.
“What was that?”
“Then let’s get on with the work.”
Mother swished out of the room and shortly after I heard the howl of the vacuum cleaner. I rose and started the washing up.
I had some study work to do so when I’d finished in the kitchen I went to my room and tried to get on with it.
A couple of hours later I decided it was time for a break. Mum usually had a cup of tea or coffee around that time so I joined her in the kitchen.
She was sitting at the table with a cup in front of her and reading the newspaper.
“Tea’s just made,” she said without looking up from the paper.
I poured myself a cup and sat opposite her at the table. No chance of a breast display this time because she was wearing her favourite lounging-around-the-house dark green track-suit – very sporty, and apart from lounging around it was one of those she wore when she went jogging in the morning before going to work.
I liked the dark green one best; it seemed to highlight her auburn coloured hair. I used to love to play with her hair when I was a kid. It was long and shiny and tumbled in waves over her shoulders. I would have liked to play with it that morning but I didn’t think it was appropriate at my age.
She seemed very absorbed in the newspaper and glancing over I saw it was the incest article she was reading. I’d only read a portion of it to her earlier and it was a longish article. Apart from the article there was an editorial comment that moralised about the growing danger of incest in our society and the deleterious effects of this “Anti-social horror.”
“All parents will be revolted by the very thought of such things happening in families,” it trumpeted.
The writer was obviously getting some salacious enjoyment out of this opportunity to dramatise the subject, and in any case his claim that “All parents will be revolted” was clearly wrong, since if incest was so widespread then some parents were not revolted, as witness Taylor mum and son.
After a couple of minutes mum looked up from the paper and sighing said, “You know I could almost feel sorry for those two.”
“Well it says here that the social workers and the psychologist say the boy will be damaged for life, and he’ll probably never be able to engage in a satisfactory relationship with a woman.”
“Do they say why?”
“No, but the boy says it was a wonderful experience with his mother.”
I grinned and said, “That’s why he’ll be waiting for her when she comes out of jail.”
“Mmm, I wonder if he will be waiting. Things change in a couple of years, and there’s the baby. What happens when a woman gives birth in jail?”
“I read somewhere that they’re allowed to keep them, at least while they’re small,” I said.
“They probably allow them to keep them while they’re breast feeding.”
“What happens after that?”
“How would I know; foster them out or put them into some sort of institution I suppose.”
“Do you think the mother is allowed to have them when they get out of jail?”
“I’ve got no idea, you’ll have to ask the experts.”
I changed the direction of the conversation.
“Do you suppose they’d have done anything about them if he’d been older…you know, the age of consent and all that?”
“Probably not, and anyway he might have been smart enough by then not to blab about it.”
I got a bit annoyed at that and decided to defend my gender; “You keep saying he was the one who talked, but it might have been her.”
“Yes, I suppose so, but it was you who said it was him in the first place. It might have been neither of them that talked, and they got found out some other way, like a grandparent becoming suspicious.”
She rose and took her cup over to the sink and started to wash it. I decided to take a bit of a risk and asked hesitantly, “Mum, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“How would I know what you’re thinking, I’m not a mind reader.”
I grinned, “You used to be. When I was a kid you always seemed to know in advance what mischief I had in mind.”
“That’s a mother’s instinct but it doesn’t seem to work so well now, so what are you thinking?”
“I was just wondering if a lot of mothers and sons have sexual thoughts about each other but never do anything about it.”
She looked at me keenly for a few seconds then said slowly, “I suppose we all have thoughts like that sometimes.”
“Do you mean you have thoughts like that?”
I saw her face grow pink and she seemed to be baffled.
“Well I…I…suppose there’s been…been odd moments when…well what’s wrong with that, they’re only thoughts, and don’t you have them too?”
“You mean about you?”
“Yes, come on, you asked me so now I’m asking you.”