(Continued from One Ridge Over)
This time he opened the gate careful to rattle the chain and make as much noise as he could. Halfway across the yard he saw a curtain peek open then close again, so he knew somebody saw him. “C’min”, came Emily’s voice from inside before he knocked.
He stepped into the dim light of the living room. Even if he hadn’t been there earlier and seen what he’d seen, he’d a known something was off in there. There was a damp thickness to the air-a musty whorl of tears, sweat, cigarette smoke and something rotten-sweet that he couldn’t place.
Emily sat on the couch, the curtains behind leaking just enough light to see.
“Your mom here?” he asked.
“Still at church…doin’ whatever.”
“Stairs”, she said with a slight nod to the narrow staircase at the end of the room.
She had taken off the sweater that had completed the skirt as her regular Sunday outfit. Her titties showed almost clear through the undershirt that had gone a size too small for her over the summer. She wore a lot of sweaters and overshirts even in summer as Missy didn’t think she was old enough for a bra yet.
He stood frozen, eyes averted, the homework he had brought to share, forgotten. Her eyes too were elsewhere, settled on the low table with the full ashtray, two crushed beer cans and empty whisky pint. As he adjusted to the dim light he glanced and saw that her eyes were swollen and red, but the tears well gone. Without actually planning to, or even meaning to, he said “I seen….”
“I’s…here earlier. Come through the yard. Seen you and Susan…and Jimmy.”
“Oh”, was all she said. He dropped his eyes further looking directly at the toes of his ripped sneakers, one held on by baling twine.
“Where were you at?”
“Behind the big bush.”
The words were coming as singles-not as whole sentences.
“What did you think?”
“I wanted to kill him…I was gonna jump him and make him stop.”
“Good thing you didn’t. Onliest one woulda gotten killed is you.”
“But you wanted to help”, she said. “Come to my rescue.” Her voice was scratchy and heavy.
“Yeah, it’s dumb. I’m sorry.”
“Quit apologizin’. It’s sweet”, she said. “I’m glad you dint, but it’s sweet.”
He looked up to see a tiny smile cross her tear-swole face. He had seen her whipped bare ass over a bench, seen her hard nipples practically pushing through her undershirt. But only now, based on a single crooked smile and her white teeth, did his pecker tighten and push against his pants. It was the damndest thing!
His burgeoning firmness was interrupted by the sound of a door and soft tread on the stairs.
“Oh, it’s you”, Susan said her face heavy too, but more flushed than blotchy.
“Where are you going?” Emily asked.
“Out. For a walk.”
She gave nothing else as she headed for the door. He watched her, suddenly nervous at the electricity that come off of Susan that Emily had none of. He found he was holding his breath.
“He was here”, Emily said flat. “He saw.”
“He was behind the bush.”
She stopped and turned burning eyes on him. “What are you?”, she growled her face almost frantic with anger. “Some kinda perv?”
“No, it was an accident!”
“Did you git a good show?”
“Come on Suze, he didn’t know what was goin’ on…he was comin’ here for schoolwork.”
“Is that schoolwork?” She hissed pointing at his erection that hadn’t altogether subsided. “Is that for you? Here! You want a better show?” She commenced to yanking at her pants.
“Susan, you stop that! He saw our backsides, not our fronts. Don’t do that to him.”
But Susan was bound and determined even if trying her best to mind her sister a little bit. She turned and pushed her pants down. “There! You like that?” Susan was comely enough. Truth be told she was the prettier of the Brant sisters but no, seein’ her butt all purple and lashed and knowin’ that her face was flushed from crying didn’t please him at all. “You like that?” she croaked over her shoulder.
“No”, he said quietly. “I don’t.”
She pulled her pants up as quickly as she dropped them and faced him again. She nodded toward his crotch. “Is that for you then?” she asked her sister.
“He came here for homework”, Emily said evenly through gritted teeth.
“Why don’t you. Go ahead and do it. Put a baby in her you perv so in a few years you’ll have someone you can…”
“STOP IT RIGHT NOW SUSAN!”
The younger shut up and wiped the back of her hand across her eyes which had started to leak. To stop from saying anymore she spun and pushed her way out the door. He watched her cross the yard.
“Where’s she goin’?” he asked.
“Prolly up the walnut grove. That’s her happy place. Good place for her right now.”
“There’s more what goes on between her and Jimmy than jist takin’ a whippin’ now an’ then.”
“What you mean?” he asked.
She gifted him with another smile; this one sly, with her head puppy-tilted to the side. “You sweet little dummy. You don’t know, do you?” That smile again. This time she watched his pants push out toward her. “Come on…” She got up from the couch and led him by the hand, back through the kitchen and out the back door.
He felt strange being in the back yard again so soon after what had happened there. Even stranger to go and set on the bench. His Ma believed that everthing that happened in the world was still happenin’…or was still goin’ on in some kind of time wrinkles…he never could get it straight when she explained it, cause it was always late at night, but he was pretty sure she would say the whippin’ he saw was still happenin’ over and over if he jist had the gift of bein’ able to see it. He didn’t know about that, but he did feel weird settin’ there in the middle of it.
The river was shallow here and if not for the algae blooms he’d be able to count the rocks from one side to the other. He saw a couple of carp-big shadows cruising upstream-and watched the willows across the way standing straight in the weak current. Emily set close beside him. His nervous river-watchin’ was interrupted by her hand roughly rubbing over his lap. “You can’t keep it loaded and not shoot. You’ll get blood poisoning.”
“No I won’t!”
“It’s true”, she said, her hand work not helping at all.
He’d had boners before and knew how to deal with them. But he’d never had one with a girl. He sat rigid and straight-backed breathing in quick little bites as she rubbed her hand back and forth. She paused and flipped the tab of his zipper. “You know how to work this?” she asked.
He unzipped and made to reach in, but it jumped out of its own accord like a dog after a rabbit. “See now?” Emily said grabbing it like a corn stalk. “This is no good. I’ll take care a’ this.” She spit in her hand and rubbed down over the top of it. He saw it swell and felt a tickle deep below in his balls. She wrapped her fist around it and stroked clumsily.
“I like how it grows”, she said from a distance, as if talking about a flower. It wasn’t quite determination that showed on her face as much as wanting to get it right. He didn’t know whether to watch her or the carp so he looked out at the river and stole peeks down at his lap as if he was ashamed of his own pecker. It wasn’t a concern he had for long though. He slammed his eyes shut when he felt the rustling bubbles deep inside and grunted, hearing his juice spatter on the leaves between his feet.
“There”, she said. “Don’t that feel better?”
“You’ve done this before, right?”
“Sure. Never with a girl, though.”
“Here then. Let me show you something…” Before he could imagine what, she pushed her hair behind her ear and bobbed into his lap. She took him into her mouth and whirled her tongue about the top of him sucking gently at the same time. He rose off the bench slightly crying…”Whoa, whoa…” then settled as she slid her mouth down over the full of it. Then she pulled her lips back over it and sat back up leaving him hard and shiny. “Whoo…” he whispered.
“That was somethin’…” he said, then froze as the world tilted a bit. He caught the seat of the bench with his hands as it felt to be collapsing under him. Where had she learnt that?
“There’s more what goes on between her and Jimmy than jist takin’ a whippin’ now an then.”
“Put that thing away”, she said. “You only get one shot today.”
He stuffed his rigid self back into his pants with difficulty and sat still while everything gathered back under him. She took his hand in hers without looking. “I don’t want to do no homework today”, he said feeling a little sick in his belly.
“Naw”, she said. “Me neither. I need to go up into the woods and gather Susan. Make sure she’s fine…”
As he followed her through the dim house to pick up his book bag he kept his eyes over everything but her walking right in front.
“We won’t be in school tomorrow”, she told him at the gate.
OK, was all he said. He didn’t want to get into the detail of it or know why. His mind spun with the possibilities that they neither could sit on the hard seats all day, they were too upset, whatever. He thought nothing of it, just suddenly wanted to head up the road.
“You have to give me a kiss now”, she said, her thick little fingers gripping his handlebar tightly. “We’re lovers now. You have to kiss me when you leave”. He kissed her, chastely on the lips–mouth closed and dry. “Bye”, was all he said.
The ride home was even more painful than he thought it would be as the thick heat settled, filling the hollow. It was fine though. He took his time.
He didn’t mind Mondays. He was an early riser anyways and liked goin’ to school probably more than school liked him being there. Ma was at the sink pushing herself up taller to better see though the window. “It’s your uncle” was all she said.
He heard the boots clop on the porch. Uncle Mike, big enough that it seemed he should duck through the door wore the same checked shirt he’d had on since his wife died. The kitchen filled with the sweet, sour smell of the twenty head of straggly Angus he ran on the rented knob over opposite the church.
“You hear about the Brant’s last night?”
“How would I?”
“There were a fire.”
‘We won’t be in school tomorrow’ echoed so clearly in his head he was afraid the adults would hear.
“Girls and Missy fine. Damn fool Jimmy Logan burned himself up. Musta been smokin’ on the couch and fell asleep.”
“Good riddance to a waste of skin and bone is all I say.”
“Hush Mike. Stop that. He’s in school with the girls…”
He stared down at the cold, rubbery dollar-store waffles. He wished there was syrup instead of jist brown sugar.
‘We won’t be in school tomorrow.’
©TDR – 2017