Sentinel Literary Quarterly

Vol.2 No.3, April 2009. ISSN 1753-6499 (Online).

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Abayomi O. Zuma
Akinlabi Peter
Angela Nwosu
Ashley Capes
Benjamin Beresford
Gregory A Lawson
Lola Shoneyin
Matthew Coombe
Nnorom Azuonye
Nnorom Azuonye (2)
Simon Green
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The Clinic


By Benjamin Beresford


A sexual health clinic was perhaps not the best place to pick up women, but Charlie was a firm believer in taking advantage of every opportunity that came his way. An hour previously he had entered the South London day surgery with incredible sheepishness, whispering his name to the receptionist and trying to find the most inconspicuous chair in the waiting room.


His spirits had risen considerably when, in return for filling out a simple questionnaire, he was given a ten pounds voucher which could be redeemed at a variety of high street alcohol retailers. The irony of being rewarded for his total lack of sexual responsibility was accented further when he overheard two girls no older than fifteen planning their evening.


“Wid 'dese vouchers we can go down the offy tonight, get a couple bottles o wine and a few cans o cider, then go to tha park and get smashed. I can't wait to see Frank. I can't believe he thought 'bout messin with that other gal,” the younger looking of the two said.


Charlie didn't know Frank but he assumed he was in for an interesting night.


Quickly noticing that he was eaves-dropping on their conversation, both girls turned proud gazes in his direction so that he averted his stare. Unable to resist, he looked back less than thirty seconds later and was surprised to detect a softened, slightly amorous look to their countenances.


As a twenty-four year old trainee lawyer, surely it was beneath him to reciprocate? But he had already sunk so low. What did it matter if he advanced further into the depths of iniquity? He began to detect an indistinct sense of achievement, a kind of nervous pride, in travelling closer to his own moral nadir and, therefore, quickly began to exchange furtive glances with the teenage girls sat opposite.


Perhaps it was also the fact that fearing he was harbouring Chlamydia, he figured that he wasn't quite the most attractive catch, good career prospects or not. Bearing this in mind, any of the six-form students queuing for the morning after pill became potential targets.


However, the person most eager with her stare was still the young looking and garrulous fifteen-year-old who, he had realised, was almost certainly several months pregnant.


As the only male in the waiting room, he couldn't claim the same excuse, so surely everyone knew he was there to be tested for some kind of sexually transmitted infection? This epiphany made the volume of flirtatious looks he was receiving suddenly quite perturbing.


Fortunately, to save him from further distress, a woman in white called his name and ushered him into an examination room.


He explained his problem. The slight redness. The constant itch. Without looking up from her desk and the paper form she had in front of her, the plump, rather equine nurse fired off a litany of questions.


“Number of sexual partners in the last six months?”

“Sixteen or so.”

“When was the last time you had sex?”

“Two days ago.”

“Was that vaginal sex?”


“Oral sex?”


“Anal sex?”


“Was this a one night stand or a relationship?”

“A one night stand.”

“When did you sleep with a different partner to this one?

“A week or so ago, I guess.”

“Was that vaginal sex?”


“Oral sex?”


“Anal sex?”



This last question posed somewhat of a philosophical dilemma for Charlie as he was unsure whether dipping his glans into his lover's anus, before she recoiled away in pain and slapped him, classified as anal sex. He had never been remotely aroused at the thought or even the reality of anal sex but if a woman was willing to place that functionally crucial part of her body at his behest, who was he to refuse?


After the unsettling stichomythia, he barely registered the physical examination that followed and the potential loss of dignity.


To his surprise, the nurse cleared him of anything serious – just a mild case of thrush. Nothing to worry about, apparently. She gave him some cream to sort it out.


As he was about to leave, his confidence was given an added boost by her offer of free extra-wide condoms.


Strolling out of the reception area and liberated by his relatively clean bill of health, he paused and cast a last look towards the pair of girls who had earlier been so attentive with their eyes. No, he decided, no-one in the sexual health clinic was for him.



The End


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Benjamin Beresford

is an Oxford English graduate working to build up a publishing portfolio.



Sentinel Literary Quarterly

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Editor: Nnorom Azuonye

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