The doorbell rang just after eight. John was in the basement listening to music and plotting-no, wrong word-more like fantasizing. He took the steps two at a time and pulled open the front door. Liz was standing there with a small smile, almost a smirk, and too-wide eyes. She was wearing a brightly striped skirt that came to mid-thigh and dark top. Her legs were bare, with dark sandals with a leather bag slung over her shoulder. He’d never seen her dressed like this. It was definitely not “stopping by to check on you” attire and far and away in a different class than his worn jeans and T-shirt.
“Hi, Liz.” After a confused pause-“Come in, come in…”
“Thank you”, she said, sarcastically prim and bowing her way past him. He caught her scent, something he had never smelled on her before. But really, when would he have? The last time they were this close he was otherwise occupied.
“I can’t stay long,” she said. I’m meeting some people downtown but you were on the way and I thought I would-I told your Dad I would-stop by to see you.”
“Sure, Sure. No problem. Come on into the living room. Do you want something to drink?”
“Oh really? You offering me a drink?”
“You can get it yourself-you know where everything is.”
She moved into the living room. “I’d rather you get it for me. CC, that’s Canadian Club, and 7-Up. Lot of ice.”
“I know what CC is.”
He made her drink and poured a 7-Up for himself. He hadn’t been bitten by the booze bug yet-maybe because of the house he grew up in. He’d reflect years later about being a teenager alone in a house full of liquor and touching none of it.
He brought in the drinks. She was sitting in the recliner-which had been his spot even when Carol and Liz were here together. So much for snuggling on the couch which was only one of the fantasies that he had run through his head. He shook his head imperceptibly to get the thought of snuggling out of it. He had no idea where this was going.
“What’s on?” she looked at the TV.
“I don’t know-I wasn’t watching. I just leave it on for background.”
She sipped her drink-“That’s strong.” Wiping her mouth “You trying to get me drunk?”
“You want some more 7-Up?”
“No that’s OK.” With an exaggerated sidelong glance. “I’ll just have to keep my eye on you.”
The thought of the eyes she’d already had on him settled in his stomach and lightened a small flutter in his chest. She had had her hands all over him-his butt anyway-less than a week ago. Suddenly any silences were unwelcome intruders.
“So, you going to a party?”
“Not really a party. Just meeting some work friends at a bar.”
“Meeting your boyfriend?”
“Is he going to be there?”
“Some of the friends will be men. I date men, you know.”
“I wasn’t saying…”
“Just an expression….”
Looking sideways at him and lifting an eyebrow-“I really need to keep my eye on you.”
She took another drink-a heavier gulp than the last sip. “Like I said-I told your Dad I would check on you…”
“And you did-I’ll let him know you stopped by.”
“You’re chasing me out?”
“No, not at all. I don’t want to hold you up, is all. You have people waiting for you. Work friends, whatever. Maybe people from nursing school.”
“I heard you were thinking about becoming a nurse.” He threw it out there with a little smile that belied the triphammer in his chest. It was her turn to look away-but with a little mischievous smile. She picked up the glass and drained it.
“I’ll think I’ll have another”, she said holding out the glass. He thought he saw it quiver a bit but she might have been shaking the ice cubes. He, on the other hand, was happy to get out of the room for a moment. He took his time in the kitchen. She was changing the stations on the TV-too quickly to be watching or looking for anything in particular. “I always liked this TV”, she called out to him.
“It’s still almost new”, he said, small talking his way back into the room.
“Try it”, she said as he was handing her the glass. He did-took a sip and let the liquor, it was a pretty strong drink, flow through him.
“Not bad”, he said.
Taking a heavy swallow herself-“You should make yourself one.”
“Naw, I’m OK.”
“So”, her eyes locked on his. “How’s your fever?”
He didn’t look away. He had started it with that nursing school comment, now it was all coming out. “Last I heard, my temperature was about normal.”
“Yes it was as a matter of fact. Normal. But I’m more concerned about what happened to your temperature later.”
“With what was going on down here”, she nodded to the couch. “Over there.”
“Yes. That was something. I heard more than I saw.”
“I guess we were loud-but you had to have a good view.” She leaned toward him. “I was hiding no secrets by the time that was over.”
He did look down then and explained what he saw-what he heard-and more importantly, what he didn’t see and why he didn’t see it. The idea was coalescing in his mind that she had hoped to give him a show-maybe as payback for the whole temperature-taking thing. Was that her idea after all?
“So you didn’t want to see my bare butt-and everything else-while I was bent over that couch letting Carol work out her anger-at you-on me?”
“Oh yeah, I wanted to see. Don’t mistake that. I wanted to. You saw my butt and had your hands all over it-But it wouldn’t have been right. Look-as far as I could see, you were taking my beating. You took it for me. That’s the way I saw it.”
“Sweet”, she said. “Really sweet.” She looked down at his crotch. “You’re enjoying this conversation.” He followed her eyes. There was no mistaking it, so he didn’t even bother. She got up from the recliner and came over to stand in front of him. He looked into her eyes as she took hold of both of his wrists playing a little firm but also to keep her hands from shaking. “That makes this hard”, she said “You were so sweet in not looking but…I think I owe you one, don’t you?”
“You said I was taking your beating. I’m thinking I owe you one.”
“You want to beat my ass?”
She shook his arms “Not like that-not like what I got, not like you’re used to…but I think some kind of spanking is in order. Here…” She went over to the side table and reached into her bag. Inside was a ping-pong paddle-the kind with the rubber stubs on both sides. It was brand new-made of a plastic or resin material. She handed it to him. It was definitely heavier than the paddles he actually played ping pong with at school. “I think this should do the trick.” He held it in his right hand and smacked his left palm. Definitely would sting.
“Would I bend over the arm of the couch-like you did?” And as he had many times.
No, that was too impersonal she told him, having rehearsed many of her answers to questions he might ask. She was thinking he would lay across her lap. She looked away as she said it-into the kitchen as if looking for something-trying to cover the fact that she wasn’t on very steady ground here. She had exposed herself in her desire to spank him and if he refused-or laughed at her-there was no place for her to go from there. Now it was her heart that began to flutter. She had driven around for almost an hour trying to talk herself out of this even after she had bought the paddle at the sporting goods store. She honestly would not be able to explain what it was about this kid that had gotten into her brain. She wasn’t inexperienced with men and had been sexually active for years in one way or another. But this was something else entirely.
Carol had told her about paddling him, of course. It wasn’t sexual for Carol-it was about power-and was just mean. But when Liz found herself sitting with Johnny in the living room or passing him on the way in or out she couldn’t shake the thought of paddling his bare butt. Or at least seeing his bare butt, touching his bare butt. Which had all come to a head, and got pushed too far, with that nurse-playing trick a couple nights ago. Which had been her idea.
Now, as the silence ticked on, she started to think about a quick getaway. Play it like it was a joke and leave. Never come back-never speak of it again.
“OK”, she heard him say through the din in her head.
“It’s only fair.”
If there were speakers connected to their chests the room would have disappeared under rolling thunder.
To Be Continued….