Piper left the jeep at the end of the road and picked her way along the rocky shoreline between the mirror-flat lake on the left and the sheer cliff on the right. It wasn’t far along before the cliff fell back into more of a hill and she veered onto the cliff trail, they called it, up toward Miriam’s. It was less than a five-minute walk until she emerged from the maple thicket into Miriam Webb’s back yard-or front yard. They were all terribly inconsistent on whether lakeside was back or front.
Whichever yard she was in, there was no sign of her friend though both her cars and Geoff’s truck were there. The dock was deserted and there was no one on the deck. Piper cupped her hands to the glass and peeked in the windows. Nothing. She had walked in on Miriam and Geoff often enough in the throes of some passionate coupling to avoid just slipping in the never-locked door. Stumped, she resorted to the lakeside paging system and turned her head skyward.
“Miriam…” she called sing-songing the name. “Oh Miriam…!”
“Out here,” came the muffled reply. “In the workshop…”
Piper fairly skipped across the yard and the gravel road toward the shop. She was having a good day and the evening promised more of the same. Nothing like new people-not that there was anything wrong with the old, far from it. But new folks always brought an energy to the party.
“Hey! I…” she was stunned silent stepping through the door.
Miriam was a tall woman by any measure, and strongly built; in a country-farm way not so much in a gym-toned way as so many were today. As Piper was as a matter of fact. Her height was not in evidence however, bent in half as she was, backside facing the door.
Piper knew well the symbiology of the romantic heart; its rounded double top blooming lustfully on both sides of the deep cleft being nothing more than the inverted image of a woman’s bottom. She was seldom treated to the image given such perfect life. In the dim light her formidable bottom was not the color of billowing clouds or cotton. That would be a snowman’s bottom. Rather it was rich and golden, the color of a new peach dusted with a very agreeable-and soon to be augmented-pink hue.
Her husband was standing beside her his hand full of, not really a paddle (wink-wink), but a serving tray from the new craft brewery “Happy & Hoppy” that had opened across the lake. It was the right shape and size with six little dimples in the top that the waitresses could slip small taster glasses into.
Miriam had walked off with this one after closing time one night in the tipsy hope that it might earn her a paddling from the night manager-a stocky redhead who she rather fancied. No such luck though. In fact, so many people wandered off with the trays for whatever reason (wink-wink) that nobody said a word; just added twelve bucks to your bill and let you go unmolested on your way. Quite reasonable when you compare with similar pieces on Etsy or the leather workers down lake.
Miriam looked back at her husband. “Geoff, give us a minute, would you?”
He headed for the door raising the paddle on his way. “Play your cards wrong”, he told Piper with a leer, “You could be next.” She instinctively turned her bottom away from him as he passed.
Miriam didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get up nor did she reach for the shorts puddled at her feet. Instead she stretched languorously like a cat in morning sun. Not wanting to speak directly to her bottom (though in truth something along those lines would be directly up Piper’s alley, so to speak) she hopped up onto the workbench beside her friend.
“So, finally got to him, eh?”
“Jesus!” she answered exasperated. “It wasn’t easy.” She looked at the space on the workbench between her hands. “First, I let the milk go bad. Dint faze him. Ate sour milk with his oats. Then I put flower in the sugar bowl so his coffee went all red and clumpy.”
“Right?” Miriam looked over at her. “Nothin’! He thought he’d confused it himself and tossed it down the sink.”
“You know”, Piper offered, “Most women would be pleased to have such a forgivin’ partner.”
“Bullocks! Then I run us out a’ eggs. Put grasshoppers in the salad…I began to think what’s a girl gotta do to get her arse beat around here?” Not being able to shrug properly bent over as she was, she flopped her hands on the workbench.
“What finally got to him?”
“Worms in the muffin tin.”
“Like fishin’ worms?”
“Zactly. I watched him take the top off the tin, reach in whilst readin’ the paper, felt a worm on top of a biscuit.”
“I kept a few aside for you. Unwormed.”
“He stopped, looked in the tin, closed the top and folded his paper. Real dramatic-like. Takes off his readers and clears his throat…”
“I can just hear him…”
“He announces, ’This house has gone a bit slipshod. Methinks we need a trip to the workshop.’”
“YES! I thinks, but don’t say it. And here we are.”
“I’m happy for you love, but you know you needn’t go through all that. When you are in a drought, I’d be happy to…”
“I know, I know. I did think of you…but Geoff is…”
“Deaf as a post.”
“Thicker than Gram’s cream.”
“Awkward in particular social settings.”
“Don’t you mean peculiar social settings?”
They giggled like school girls. Piper hopped off the bench. “I’ll let you have at it girl.” Then, maybe against her better judgement (which she rarely if ever followed) she patted Miriam’s bottom-far out on the cheek-away from the good parts. “Have a good time”, she said.
“I will, thanks.” Then, looking back over her shoulder. “Oh, was there something you wanted?”
“Oh, yes. I’m having two new couples over tonight. They might end up being clients, don’t know. But we’ll be out on the lake and thought we’d stop by the dock-you feel like grilling something? Or we can just sit around and have wine.”
“That will be fine-excellent. Text me the time later. Hopefully I won’t be sittin’ too easily…but…”
“I’ll have cushions.” Piper called on her way out the shop door.
Geoff was waiting patiently, sitting one leg crossed at the knee, bouncing the paddle off the toe of his sneaker.
“All yours”, she said bowing and motioning toward the open door and what waited for him within.
“How’s about we give you a little taste,” Geoff said standing and moving toward her brandishing the wooden board as a sword. “It’ll help me stroke.”
“Oh no, you don’t!” Piper, smiling, dropped into a crouch, pushing her backside out and away. For good measure, she stretched her arms out to her sides to keep him from slipping behind, though Geoff wasn’t the slipping kind. “Get away from me you old reprobate. You’ll wear my skinny ass out with that.” (For the record, Piper’s ass was not skinny but, as size goes, was an aisle or two over from Miriam’s.) Never one to pursue, Geoff raised the paddle to his forehead in salute and, with a wink, disappeared through the door into the dimly lit workshop.
Piper cut across the yard then paused before disappearing herself into the copse of trees onto the trail. Cocking her head like a jay on a wire she listened until the crackling report of hard wood on soft skin rang out across the yard. There was a sharp answering yelp that devolved directly into throaty laughter then a light hum. Piper, feeling a little buzzy down under, slipped quietly and smiling down the path.