George Hartington strides with a menacing tap of silver tipped cane on cracked paving. Tip-ting-tap. The resonance of one unnecessarily hard tap sends a shiver of sensation through him, nine volts of warning. He feels the strain of desire, a small but irritating dog in the mind of his lower body. A dog that yaps incessantly, demanding satisfaction.

        Seeking a besom of the night, Hartington knows he will not leave this place until the dog has been coddled and fed, until the animal craving has been satisfied. The woman, a parvenu with her own teeth and a tinkling voice not yet lacerated by abrasions of cigarette smoke leans over him, soaking his entirety with perfume from crystal globes that come from France. She also retains the perfume from groins of other men. Such is his proclivity that this debauched over-utilised commodity of a woman is preferable to him than the cleaner essence of Maude Hartington, all fragrant baths and embrocation. A transaction occurs. The woman leads him to her rent-by-the-hour red room; the dog leaps up in anticipation.

        Hartington promulgates himself as a prize, pinstripe and polish. Accretions of earwax, crusty, golden, caught in stray grey hairs cannot demur the image he portrays of the dapper gentleman. The silver tipped stick is positioned like a straight long bone against the plush chair, along with the woman’s petticoats and corsetry, flopping otiose; warm rounds of fat filled flesh have recently vacated their lace trimmed cups and sorcery.

Nod Ghosh

Nod Ghosh was born in England, to parents from India. She moved to Christchurch, New Zealand in 2002. She is a medical laboratory scientist, specializing in the diagnosis of certain cancers. Her writing has been accepted by NZ publications Catalyst, Takahe, Express and Christchurch Press, as well the NZ issue of Penduline. “By the Rules” explores hypocrisy in the context of cultural constraints, based on observations of dual standards within migrant Indian society. No apologies to those who inspired this; you know who you are.

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