Braising

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The hard work was done.
Hidden by the night's blanket-
Drowned out by barking dogs and passing coal trains
That shook the building.

The Osso Buco was my idea.
It was his favorite-
Something his family wouldn't have known.
Expecting fried chicken and hot sausage
They looked at me like I was crazy.

So I braised all night, 
Reliving old conversations to file away-
For later.
I could have been with him that night.
Doesn't mean I should have. 
He wouldn't begrudge me still being here. 
As long as I cooked.

I braised long enough to be sober by dawn.
Nothing to do but stir the sauce and wait
For the set-up crew.

His stool at the end of the bar looked less empty,
Washed by the golden glow leaking through the curtains.
Nobody would begrudge me a beer
After a long night's work. 



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“There’s someone here…”

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(Continued from Back to the Hollow)

“Looks like you found me”, she said.

“I think you knew where I was the moment I stepped off my porch.”

“You think I followed you?”

“No-I think you led me here…”

Bent and exposed over the log as he was, he was talking to the leaves and dirt between his hands. Lifting his head high enough to see over his shoulder wasn’t in the cards. He looked for her feet and found them behind him.

“Led you here?” she laughed a young girl’s laugh. “I’ve done everything I could to chase you away. To caution you away…” the log moved as she sat on it facing away from him…”but here you keep winding up.” She slapped him lightly on this upturned rump for emphasis. “What are we going to do with you?”

He felt a presence larger that the girl beside him but he scoured the upside down woods behind himself and could see nothing. But he registered that he usually didn’t see her either.

“What’s your name”, he asked on impulse.

“Tabitha”, she answered easily as if waiting for the query.

“Take me back with you.”

“Back? Where?”

“Where you live. Into the other woods. Through the keyhole.”

“Hah! There is no keyhole anymore.”

“Of course there is, you just moved it is all-or hid it. There’s always a way in.”

She went silent for a moment and he felt her fingers drumming on his butt as she mulled. She shifted into him slightly-he could feel a warmth against his hip.

“Daniel, Daniel….After we whipped you I was sure you wouldn’t be back. I branded you-left my mark” he felt her fingertip touch the tiny handprint on his cheek, “You came back. We came to your house, to whip you and actually do more…” She poked this time at his tight anus which twitched “and you came back….Makes us wonder if you’re coming back for more…”

“It’s not that I’m looking for more of that…”

“Mr. No again.” She slapped him harder on his ass. He yelped in surprise more than pain.  “You’re denying what you want even while chasing it.”

“No. I want something different. This life out here is shot for me. I’ve lived out here for close to thirty years and it’s been no bargain, let me tell you.”

“I bet. You’ve already lived in the dark almost a decade longer than I did…”

“I’ve had enough of it.”

“Everything you’ve gotten before you’ll get more of back there-you realize that.” As if for emphasis she dragged her finger across his asshole again and down between his legs. “That won’t be all, you understand, but there will be that…”

“What do I have to do?” he asked, undeterred.

“Accept it. Accept yourself. Back here you have to say what you mean. What you want, you say. Get it? Back here you have to be who you are.”

They sat in silence her hand resting on the small of his back where he folded over.

“Are you going to whip me now?” he asked.

“I never whipped you…well maybe a few strokes. You wiggled so sweetly…”

“Are you going to fuck me? “

“What would I fuck you with Mr. No? Huh? You doubt that I’m a girl through and through.”

“No.”

“You can get up you know.”

“What?”

“Nothing’s holding you. They’ve all gone off.”

He pushed off the ground and sure enough lifted himself off of the log. Hearing for the first time birds and a soft breeze whispering through the branches he pushed off the log and stood to stretch.

“Now look at this,” Tabitha said from her seat before him. He didn’t need to look; his hard-on stood straight out as if seeking the girl’s face. She took it in hand and pulled him close.

“There is a lot I can give you back here Daniel…as long as you ask for it.”

He asked for nothing right now, just let his head loll back as she gently touched her tongue to the head of his cock…

“You won’t be over quick this time, I hope…”

It had been almost four years since a woman had taken him like this. Even had he remembered it clearly it wouldn’t matter. This was different. Her mouth was beyond warm. Beyond soft. It was melting marshmallow falling off a campfire stick and wrapping itself around him.

He held her head gently and pulled her into him pushing himself deeper into her mouth. Moaning quietly he felt a growing weakness in his legs.

Veronica Palmer had run ahead of her boyfriend. He was a gym athlete-great on the treadmill but the contours of running, or even walking, trails left him in the dust. He had stopped in the clearing below where she had taken off up the hill. He was about to follow when he heard-then saw-her running back down.

“Let’s go!” she said grabbing him by the arm as she passed.

“What? Why?”

“There’s someone here.”

“So?”

“A guy. He’s…masturbating.”

“You sure?”

“Am I….?” She pulled at his arm again. “He’s standing bare-ass, pants at his ankles pulling on his dick. Is that masturbating?”

“Shit. You want me to go say something to him?”

He had finally begun to yield to her pulling when a sound of clicking filled the air. Quietly at first but louder as it seemed to get closer. “Keep moving”, she said. It sounded like sticks or switches clattering together but there was no breeze-nothing was moving.

“Come on”, she hissed as he slowed to listen-to try to get a handle on the noise. Cicadas? As the sound seemed to blanket over them she felt something tingle deep inside of her. As if a seam was rubbing her down there. “Come oooon”, she pulled him by the arm and was just breaking into a jog when-

“Ouch!” She jumped and grabbed the left cheek of her ass.

“What?”

“I got stung…or something. Come on!”

He watched her run in panic for a moment then felt a searing burn across his own ass. He yelped and jumped grabbing his behind.

“Bees!” he yelled, for what else could it have been? “Bees!”

She was faster than he but he did his best to catch up. He hated the fucking woods.

 

Back to the Hollow

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(Continued from “Venus and Mars Are Alright Tonight…”)

He had been a decent tracker as a boy. Could follow a wounded deer across both hollows and up all the creeks if need be. Wouldn’t even need to be wounded. The old men counted on him for this service as their eyesight went and they got more generally decrepit. It wasn’t hard for someone who knew the signs-who could tell when a leaf was standing on edge because something had trod along its stem and lifted it, rather than just spun that way onto the earth. Or when an old acorn had been kicked on top of a newly fallen leaf. That kind of tracking he could manage.

This kind, following someone that seemed to have no weight that seemed to float along on a cushion of air was something different. Any sign that he saw on the ground was wishful thinking. He let his eyes wander up into the scarlet red branches of the pin oaks for all the good then were doing on the ground. He started to get the feeling that the trail wouldn’t lead him anywhere. Which didn’t matter. He wasn’t following at all. He was being directed. Pulled.

Truth though, for what he was doing, he didn’t need tracking or trails. He knew where he was heading. He cut off the main trail early and crossed a patch that would have been impassable two months before. The winnowing of fall had begun in earnest and new paths appeared where there had been thick brush.

Not far along he noticed the silence that roared in and flooded the valley pushing in on his eardrums like water at the bottom of a deep pool. His breathing slowed and nothing moved but for a single tiny leaf at the top of a stripped maple twitching singularly in a disquieting way. He was about to step over a fallen tree when he felt…something in front of him blocking his way. He had a sense of her-but couldn’t feel anything until his lips pressed against his teeth. He opened his mouth and accepted the unseen kiss.

“I knew you would taste sweet”, she said spectrally coming together slowly before him.

“You could have tried it last night”.

“It wasn’t my place or time…”

Maybe this wasn’t either, because she slipped in and out of focus and substance. She seemed there, then she dissipated and he could see the woods through her, then she was gone-having shifted out of the way. He felt a push between his shoulder blades, gentle at first, then stronger-a pressure that pushed him down toward the log as his belt was loosened. He put his hands out to stop himself or grab at his pants but they were useless-pulled away from him as he was lowered firmly over the fallen tree.

He lay over the log breathing deeply and relaxing as best he could focusing on the blanket of leaves between his hands on the ground. He was conscious of the cool sunshine bathing his exposed ass and dripping between his cheeks and flowing over his balls. He wasn’t going to fight. He would be whipped, he might be fucked, but he wasn’t going to fight it.

“Where are you headed Daniel?”

“How do you know my name?”

She didn’t even acknowledge his question. “Where are you going back here?”

“I was looking for you…”

“Looks like you found me.”

 

Vodka and Melatonin- III

(Continued from Vodka and Melatonin-Part II)

“Are you up?” came her voice again-from far away.

“Huh? What…?” he asked confused.

He grabbed the hard seat of the chair feeling it beginning to shake beneath him. Or was it him shaking? He couldn’t be sure but was suddenly fearful of toppling over and have the clamps tear at his nut sack in the most gruesome way. He held onto the seat as if on a pitching ship.

“Hey!” she yelled shrilly as she banged the bed with her hip. “Are you not up yet?”

He started awake in his own bedroom, the morning sun bathing the room in a golden glow.

“I’m up for Chrissakes!”

“It’s about time!” his wife Pamela cried exasperated already. She was a blur of multi-colored spandex, nylon and grim determination. Jim rolled quickly onto his side away from her to try to hide his tent pole erection. Nothing pissed Pamela off more than him having a hard-on that she had nothing to do with.

“Remember”, she said “I have a 9 a.m. training with Silvio-but I want to get there early for the treadmill. Get a head start on my steps for the day. Then after the training I’m doing a weight set with Carla and will probably hang around for Michele’s Zumba class. I hate that shit but it will be a good cool-down and I haven’t seen Michele for awhile….”

Jim noted that this was the same word for work itinerary she had ticked off to him the night before. He knew she wasn’t informing him of anything-rather just stating her commitment for the universe to hear. He felt his hard-on deflating during her litany. The more she talked the quicker he deflated.  He could almost hear the high pitched whine of air squeezing out of a pricked balloon.

“…so I won’t be home until noon which will give you enough time to get that goddam motorcycle out of my side of the garage…”

“Indian”, he mumbled into the pillow.

“What?”

“1958 Indian”, he said for probably the hundredth time trying in vain to impress her with the bike’s vintage.

“Not. Giving. A. Shit. It’s a pile of pieces right now and I need to get my car inside. You have enough projects-finish that little car…”

“Karmann Ghia.”

“What?”

“It’s a 72 Kharmen Gia Cabriolet.”

He felt her eyes boring into the back of his head. “You have till noon to get that piece of shit motorcycle gone.”

“Have a nice workout” he mumbled after she had strode off and couldn’t hear him. He lay still until he heard the front door slam. Then her car door. Then the motor started and he heard the crunch on the gravel drive. Not until it went silent and he knew she was out on the road did he throw back the covers and sit up.

Sighing, he stood and looked down to where his once proud cock had swung like a broad sword to see it hanging low in defeat-like a flag with no breeze.

“Coward” he grumbled at it.

He picked his phone off the nightstand and entered the unlock code-which he changed every two days or so just because it drove her nuts.

He tapped a quick text: “U up?”

It quickly bounced back: “Yep. Coffee.”

“Alone?” he tapped?

“Yep.”

He scrolled down his quick dial list to where she was hidden near the bottom and tapped her name. She picked up on the second ring.

“Mornin’ Glory”, she said huskily.

“Hey-where’s Kimmy?”

“Charleston for a couple of days. Left yesterday.”

He was silent for a moment because he couldn’t remember if he’d said “Huh”-which was probably called for right then. Instead he said, “I dreamed about you last night?”

“Was it hot?” she asked.

“It was…complicated”, he said absently rubbing his balls where he still felt the dream-clamp.

“Complicated huh? You can’t manage complicated…”

“You were naked…”

“Getting better…”

“…and you had a little, flat ass.”

“Oh-it was a complete fantasy then!”

“Like I said, complicated.”

She laughed teasingly and he pulled his hand away from his pecker which, hearing her voice, seemed to awaken enough to lift its head and start sniffing around.

“Can you store the Indian for a while? Gotta get it out of here.”

“Told you she wasn’t going to let you keep it”

“Just for awhile.”

“She gone?”

“Till noon.”

“Give me half an hour”, she said and hung up.

He put the phone back and stretched, digging his knuckles into the small of his back.

Vodka and Melatonin-Part II

(Continued from Vodka and Melatonin-Part I)

He didn’t remember the hallway being this long. It usually worked in the reverse: the long hallways and overlarge rooms of a child’s memory shrunk for the man. But he moved along, following an aroma that got stronger the further he went. A soft light spilled from one of the rooms at the end. When he got to the door he didn’t notice the high old fashioned library lamp in the corner-only the light it threw. His attention focused on the three women in the center of the room sitting on cushions around a large hookah.

The flanking women were young. Not children or teenagers, he didn’t think, but certainly no more than twenty five. He didn’t know. It was an arbitrary number. What was certain was their indescribable beauty. The blonde, to his left, wore what looked to be simple jeans and a plaid shirt. The sleeves were rolled almost to her elbows exposing soft downy fur that glistened in the low light. The other, on his right, with piercing green eyes glowing below shining, raven bangs wore a double T-shirt, one over the other, and a small leather amulet of some sort around her neck. She was stockier than the blond-even sitting you could tell she was shorter-but just as breathtaking. Both wore radiant welcoming smiles that seemed to cast their own light.

She, the one who had given him the directions, was sitting between them facing the door. She was roughly his own age, better preserved perhaps, but seasoned. Also, she was completely naked.

“You found us…” she said happily exhaling a sweet cloying cloud that settled over the three of them.

“The directions were perfect”, he lied.

“I really didn’t expect to see you.”

“I didn’t expect to see you naked.”

“I didn’t expect to see you at all”, she said.

The blonde giggled a sound like diamonds tumbling down a silken waterfall.

The naked woman stood. She was a strong brunette with swept wiry hair and a slash of silver running straight back from above her right eye like a lightning bolt. He saw that she had a similar streak running top to bottom through the thick bush below her flat belly.

She placed her hand on the blonde’s head to steady herself as she stepped out of the cushion circle. “Come”, she said tapping him on the arm. He followed her back into the hall and into the next room. Her ass was flat and mannish-always had been-even as a girl. But again, well kept.

In the next room, illuminated only by the streetlight through the window she nodded to a heavy wooden chair. He went over and stood beside it as she wrestled a heavy industrial dolly out of a dark corner. By its creaking limp he could see that the contraption had a bad wheel. She stopped struggling with it when it was close enough.

She glowed the color of old ivory in the dim yellow light as she undid his belt and zipper. Up close she seemed to smell of sage and honey-probably the smoke clinging to her hair. He heard another giggle and answering laugh from the other room. It seemed far away. He kept his hands at his sides as she pushed his pants and underwear down.

“Sit” she said.

He settled himself on the hard wood and focused on the hallways sounds. The deep inhaling and exhaling from the next room and, further away, the grunting and sliding of the behemoth in the front room.

Her breasts hung softly as she untangled the cables that were rolled on top of the car battery on the dolly. She had his full attention as she knelt between his legs cables in hand. He let his eyes wander over her shoulders and down her body. Watching the muscles in her thighs ripple as she shifted her weight from the battery to him and back again gave him the most ill-timed hard on of his life.

“So, what brings you to see me tonight?” she asked lifting his cock, nice sized and well-formed but nothing special, out of the way.

He didn’t have a good answer so said, “Bless me father for I have sinned.”

She snickered lightly and he was happy to have made her laugh. “Try again”, she said.

At a loss, he said something he thought she would understand, “I’ve been smoking again”. He then gasped as she squeezed the clamps at the end of the first cable to his scrotum.

“Ahhh,” she said, seemingly talking into his dick, moving it again. “We’ll see if we can’t take care of that.”

He winced as she pinched the loose skin inside of his thigh and attached the other cable there. He watched the slope of her back as she attached one of the cables to the battery. His hard-on pulsed like a fish tossed on shore to suffocate.  He focused on the sounds from the hallway which had become louder.

“Are you ready”, she asked back over her shoulder holding the other cable over the battery ready to touch the positive terminal.

“I am”, he said reaching down to grab the edges of the wooden seat.

“Are you ready?” she asked again, this time louder-in case he hadn’t heard the first time.

“Yesss”, he hissed, grabbing his hard cock with the other hand.

Her hand hovered over the battery….

Vodka and Melatonin-Part I

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He squinted through the match light to read the numbers scrawled on a wrinkled shred of brown paper that she must have torn off of an old grocery bag.  742, they said, which did him absolutely no good as the hovels and shitholes along this alley were not numbered in the back. He shook out the match and let it fall to the ground.

A little further along, toward the lone streetlight, something about the wire fence behind the blue dumpster seemed somehow familiar. He walked on carefully, avoiding the scattered guts of an overturned garbage can. A rat-it’s grazing interrupted-squeaked and skittered away. A few more paces and a garage materialized from the shadows-the twin doors boarded tightly over. This could be it, he thought, remembering when the doors would stand open by day allowing the ins and outs of the men who worked here. He recalled the rough whine of the impact wrenches and the impossibly loud crashing tires and brake drums and all manner of automotive detritus onto the grease-stained floor. Was that here?

A dim light glowed in one of the high windows of the apartment above. With a cautious familiarity he slipped into the inky shadows of the passage between the garage and the empty house sliding his hand along the cool brick wall as he had as a boy. He came out from between the buildings into an abandoned courtyard illuminated in a muted orange from the foundry glowing brightly across the field.

The fifteen wooden steps up to the simple porch were rickety but the platform itself was sound. The knob turned easily and the door opened into the kitchen-empty but for the appliances leaning forlornly with doors sagged open.  Instinctively he reached for the light switch to his right and snapped it on. Nothing. Thick shadows from the side room played against the wall opposite.

He moved through the void where the table and chairs had once been, into the glowing living room. Against the far wall was a high table draped with a tattered, nondescript cloth and covered with candles. The room was otherwise empty of furnishing but occupied by an enormous naked man posing in the center. The guttering yellow light of dozens of tiny flames reflected in the rivulets of sweat that ran down the man’s wide back and massive arms as he flowed-in a grace that belied his size-from pose to pose-freezing at the completion of each, then sliding into the next.

The massively round beach-ball shaped belly might have been his most remarkable feature had it not been for his balls. They hung heavily like a pendulum and swung lazily from side to side like the clapper on some awful church bell. From the doorway he somehow knew the particular form the behemoth was doing and knew that the coming sequence of movements would involve slow spins and high stately kicks which he in no way wanted to witness so he moved on down the hall.

Doc Cherry’s Rules

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(Continued from A Shower Interrupted)

Propped on three pillows, Jenni stretched out on her bunk. Her honey streaked hair, now dry, framed her face and glasses as she pretended to read the book in her hands. There were about a dozen women about, reading, tidying, dressing, coming and going-probably none aware of what was about to happen. At 25 Jenni was the oldest on the team and had come back to play with the semi-pros who headquartered at the Academy under her old coach.

For a while it had been fun, playing the game she loved as a kid for money (if a pittance) and it wasn’t like she had anything else to do the job market being what it was. But the tedium and rules that Max Cherry had in place for the girls of course rankled her. He only knew of one way to coach, whether it was teens or women.

Only once in her scholastic career had she been told to “prepare herself” so she knew what it meant. Bare from the waist down, on your stomach with a pillow under your hips-splayed and displayed- as it were. Many times had she walked to her bunk past girl’s tightly clenched bum cheeks waiting for the visit from Dr. Cherry. The humiliation of waiting like that was as bad as the caning for some. Almost, anyway.

This time though, she had decided to push back a little, as she had been for the last couple of weeks. If quizzed, she wouldn’t be able to say why she was pushing, which frustrated her, but here she was, in T-shirt and sweat pants lounging on the bed nervously glancing up every time the door opened. Did she think he would let her slide? Did she doubt he would walk through that door at any moment? And if he did how would she react? How would he?

She was so caught up in her thoughts that she didn’t notice Max Cherry enter the room. In fact, he was halfway to her bunk before she saw him carrying a rattan cane roughly the length of a yardstick and as thick around as her pinky. The moment she saw his face she knew she had made a mistake. To everyone else in the room-who parted from his path like flotsam before a steaming ship-he looked coolly implacable but she knew better.

She fixed him with her green eyes over the tops of her reading glasses trying to pull off a kind of disinterested glare. The attempt broke apart on the rocks of his burning dark eyes. She looked away quickly hoping to regroup.

“Is this the way you want to play it then?” He asked quietly biting off the words as he reached her bunk.

“No, I…” she blathered, not regrouping well at all. “I didn’t know when you…” She noticed that the women who had been quickly on their way to other places began to slow their paces. Began to linger-finding something interesting on the table two beds over, or at that moment thought of something to write in their notebook. Another moment and Dr. Cherry would raise his voice and tell her in no uncertain terms what to do and how to do it. She couldn’t abide thought of a lecture on top of everything else that was coming.

“No, no…you’re right”, she said quickly closing the book and laying it on the bedside table. Her glasses followed. “I…I should have been prepared for you. I’m sorry.”

Averting her eyes, she untied the drawstring on her sweats and lifted her bottom to slide them over her hips. She had at least had the sense to not wear panties. As she rolled onto her belly she had a quick glance of most of her teammates pausing for a moment. Impossible to tell, she thought with her face in her pillows, who would watch and who wouldn’t but she was betting there would be close to a capacity crowd.

This was the first caning Dr. Cherry had been forced to dole out this season and Jenni, though knowing her role, was not at this moment, happy that she was the main player in the act. She wriggled uncomfortably and revealingly to push her sweat pants as far down her legs as she could, then lifted to slip a pillow under herself. With a jerk, she felt her pants yanked all the way off. Hopefully it was Dr. Cherry doing the yanking and nobody else was taking part. She then, as so many had before her, held her legs as tightly as she could so as not to reveal any more than necessary.

“Alright Jenn. I don’t know how many I’m going to give you-but I want you to count, you understand?” By his voice he wasn’t talking to her, but to the team. Christ! Now she felt not only exposed and vulnerable, but humiliated and…frightened. She hated the thought of counting. Her idea had been to stoically take this caning-she was sure she could take the strokes without too much of a struggle-but didn’t know how she would be able to modulate her voice. If it….her thought process was interrupted by the first searing stroke dead center across her upturned bottom. “One”, she puffed on a gasp. “Two!” she said calmly if a little stridently when the second landed. Jesus! This was hurting more than she remembered.

She absorbed three and four by flexing her shoulders to offset the burning pain on her bottom and bit off the numbers tightly. Dr. Cherry could see that she was holding her breath between blows then heard the slight quaver in her voice when she said “FOUR!”

She wondered again how many were watching. She assumed some had walked away out of embarrassment for her, just as others were there watching in solidarity. She had not been the only one out drinking the other night and she was, in a sense, taking this for the team. And she knew at least two would be watching breathlessly with definite dampening between their legs.

Her stoic wall cracked when he delivered the fifth stroke to the soft bottom of her right cheek and she grabbed the pillows firmly in her fists. She fairly barked the number “FIVE!” and when the sixth burned into the soft flesh at the top of her thigh she yelped loudly without a number. Coach Cherry let it slide and delivered the seventh stroke in the same tortured spot causing Jenni to growl and almost roll onto her side. Instead, she pulled her knee toward her head as if beginning the first step in crawling up the bed and away from the lashing cane.

But she was going nowhere. The next stroke caught her high on the bottom and she bucked. Though it felt better to move her leg, all she did was open the whole of her bottom to the prying eyes of everyone behind her-something she cared nothing about at this moment.

She was pretty sure she wasn’t going to cry but not so sure she wouldn’t be a wailing kicking baby if this went on too much longer. Would she have to ask for mercy? THAT would be the worst. She felt the cane tapping softly on her almost untouched left cheek.

“No, no Jenn…come on”, He was saying gently. “Lay back over.”

She did as she was told. No need to pretend anymore, she gripped the pillows strongly the veins popping in her arms and lifted her bottom. Then next strokes fell hard and mercifully on the newly striped left cheek and she grunted for each. She took a breath and he, as if waiting for that, lashed the tip of the cane into the soft palp below her left cheek.

“YOWL!” she cried loudly and raised on her toes again exposing herself to any and all. Quickly, when she was up on her toes and exposed, Cherry swung hard and laid a stroke that reddened immediately right across her bottom crease which was now taking on the deep brick color of the building itself. She flopped back into place and tensed everything. Her muscles hardened from calf to finger as she tightened everything she could tighten.

That was it, she thought quivering. I can’t take another. Not one more stroke. She opened her mouth to ask for quarter-when Dr. Cherry spoke up. “What do you think team? Do you think she’s had enough?” Mouth still open she heard some murmuring and shuffling that she could only hope were nods of assent. Then she felt the end of the cane tap lightly down her thigh.

“Yep, you’re done, Jenni. Relax.”

With a sigh, she let her rigid body go lax.

“Give me your phone, Cheryl.” She heard him say. “I’m setting this for twenty minutes. You will lay here like this till then. Got it?” She nodded and listened as he walked out the door the way he came in. Once the door closed, women walked past and said things like good job-thanks for that-some just a tap on the calf. One, she could guess who, tapped her on the hip-chastely avoiding her bum. She felt Cheryl beside her before she placed a tube in her left hand. “A little salve”, she whispered. “It will take the sting out.”

“Thanks…” she whispered.

“If you want, I’d be happy to apply it”.

Jenni smiled and returned the pinky shake-the woman was incorrigible.

“Lift” she said gently and when she did, Cheryl pulled the pillow out so she could lie flat. Jenni felt the heat in her bottom radiate through her body and another warmth spread from between her legs. She allowed it to flow thickly from her as her body drifted away from where she lay exposed and marked to a warm quiet place. In moments, she was asleep.

When she next opened her eyes, the empty dorm was suffused with a late afternoon glow as the sun, lower now, filtered through the thick sycamore leaves outside the window. Dinner, she thought, pulling her face from the damp pillow. Someone, before leaving, had thrown a sheet over her and she felt a welling of gratitude until she sat up and placed her feet on the floor. Then she felt the burning on her bottom anew and wiggled before standing. She reached back to rub the weals gently.

“Damn, Max”, she said softly. She tossed her sweat pants over her shoulder and walked to the bathroom. Dinner sounded good, but it could wait. She first had to get something straight with Dr. Cherry.