The Split Oak

It’s true that I lose track of days. But not seasons. This is an excerpt from a longer work-in-progress that fits with the weekend. The basics: Lonnie Winters and his new girl Toni head to Lonnie’s cabin for a long weekend in October. He is recovering well from a stroke-Toni is his physical therapist and more. Something in the mountain pulls them in-and Lonnie is off looking for Toni who, under a spell, has run off.

He was approaching the top of the draw where the hardwoods, thick in the bottom land, began to thin in favor of the gnarly pitch pines that thrived in the thin, acidic soil of the rocky ridges. Where it wasn’t exposed rock the ground was soft and cushy-decades of leaves and needles rotting into a  thick thatch  that slipped under his feet as he moved steadily upward. When it got too steep he reached for the small trees and saplings that presented themselves as ghosts in the moonlight. Out from under the shadows of the oak and walnut forest, the moonglow again showed him the way, the spots where something had kicked up the thick blanket of rotten needles. He really had no idea how he’d stayed on track to this point beyond a “feeling” that he knew where she was going. He had no idea where that feeling came from. He hadn’t been up here since the last time he’d hunted this ridge a decade before. He cursed himself for not going back for  a light. He was swallowing the thin air in gulps and genuflecting in the dirt when his left leg failed him.  He stopped to breathe and dug his fists into the small of his back where a knot that had tied itself.

He hoped she didn’t go off to the right where the poppies grew. Where what grew? He stopped rubbing his back and straightened. He had no idea why poppies came into his head. There used to be a peach orchard over there but a couple of dry summers put them under.

He resisted the continuing urge to call out to Toni, or Thomas or anyone else who might be in these woods this night. His resistance was borne of a weakness that made him feel exposed. He’d never been in these woods when he didn’t feel capable. In all his years of hunting and hiking up here he had never felt threatened or in any way incapable of handling anything or anyone that crossed his path. But now he stumbled where he once had flown with thoughtless strength. 

The flat light of the fog-dimmed moon gave him sight of anything within reach but dimmed farther out where the rocky outcrops, erased of all daytime definition and color, materialized as the lumbering shoulders of retreating giants. He was squinting too far ahead and tripped over an unseen root. No simple stumble this time he fell headlong. His left arm was too slow to react and too weak to catch him, he landed full weight on his side blowing all the air out of his lungs in one garbled “OOF!”

Still, he felt thankful, seeing that he was laying within inches of a sharp  rock shelf that had he hit it with his head, would have finished his evening and maybe much more. He brought his hand to the side of his face feeling for blood. There was none. And though his head pulsed, he’d been punched in the face enough in his life to know he’d suffered no lasting damage. He had almost recovered his breath when he felt fingers caress the back of his neck. “Jesus fuck!” he cursed and flipped himself onto his back instinctively balling his hands into fists and holding them in front of his face. He was looking up at nothing but trees disappearing into swirling fog. He could still feel the trails of the fingers on his neck 

Flopping again onto his knees he rose stiffly still looking around for who had touched him. The high wall of the upper ridge thrust straight upward from the reclining mountain loomed before him. He drifted to his right searching for the dark fissure that was the ancient shortcut to the top saving hundreds of steps of tortuous switchbacks. It was a path to be avoided in high summer because of the rattlesnakes and copperheads now sleeping deep in the rock clefts. Intent on his path he wasn’t looking directly down the wall so when he first saw the flash of whte it was a peripheral glance that he couldn’t easily pick up when he looked directly at it. What could it be? From the glance, he imagined a rag, shirt, a piece of something torn from a clothesline and carried on the summer winds as high as the ridge before fluttering to the ground. 

Squinting, he had whatever it was firmly in sight and limped toward it. His heart thumped when he recognized that it was an arm, pale and lifeless cast atop a mound of rotted mulch. Still feeling the cold touch on his neck, he swiveled his head looking for…anything. His tongue stuck and ultimately failed him when he tried to say her name. Closer now, the moon revealed her shoulder and then a dark swirl that had to be hair covering her face. Above her now he could see that she was on her side, crudely secreted under a small hillock of hastily gathered forest floor. Kneeling, the strong fecund aroma of turned earth filled him. There were mushrooms that had been uprooted, chunks of bark and handfuls of dark ancient dirt, the organic ending of us all. He lay his hand on the arm and felt it warm. Then his fingers on her cheek felt breath and on her neck found a pulse. 

“Toni”, he croaked, shaking her lightly. When she didn’t stir he fingered her nostrils to ensure they were clear then squeezed her cheeks together. Finding nothing in her mouth he began pulling dirt from her. He exposed her breast and was heartened by the steady  rising and falling of her ribs. “Toni”, he said again, shaking her gently. Her head flopped then was lifted and she awakened all at once blinking wild eyes and grabbing his arm. He didn’t pull her up as much as steady her as she rose, the covering litter falling off her leaving her naked and shivering. He rubbed his hands over her with quick flicks , dusting her shoulders and between her breasts gently,  then turned her. She shuffled her still-covered feet. He dusted her back, then lower. Her backside was caked with the mud of her shallow grave so he paid particular attention to dusting her bottom with the palm of his hand using light downward wipes.

“Don’t!” she cried. “I didn’t do anything!”

“Of course not, Toni. I’m just getting…”

“Don’t spank me!

“I’m not.” he stopped his hand on her left buttock. He felt a bump there, then, when he moved his fingers around, many more. She would wince at every touch no matter how gentle. He turned her so her back faced the moon to better illuminate her. Lonnie saw the dark worms of welts crawling across her backside from top to bottom even extending down the backs of her legs. He rubbed softly cleaning her as best he could with bare hands then moved his hand down her legs, knocking clods off.  

“I’m not bad,” she sobbed. A sound that tore him to pieces.

“No, Toni, you are not bad”. He spoke as to a child, trying to interpret what she was saying..  

She was now hanging onto his arm, her face tight against him. “She said I was bad! I didn’t mean to do anything…Tell her I’m sorry.”

“Shh..” he said, I got you…you’re fine” He stripped off his shirt and fed her arms into it. It wasn’t long enough to cover anything below the waist. Her feet, uncovered,  were pale, bruised and bleeding from the rocks and sticks.. How the hell had she made it the whole way up here with bare feet? She took a few halting, limping steps and stopped, still crying.

“Can you carry me?” she asked piteously. 

What? no! Said the voice of reason in Lonnie’s head. You of all people know I can’t carry you.

He sighed lightly. “Sure, I can carry you. You might not like it though”.

“I can’t walk anymore”.

“Shhh, shhh…I got you” Anything to stop her crying. 

He went down to his left  knee and slipped his right arm between her legs. Then he rose carefully, lodging-as gently as possible- his arm in her crotch. As he rose unsteadily to full height, she draped across his shoulders. He clutched her hanging arm with his left hand. 

“You OK?”

She continued to sob. “She hurt me,”

“You’re fine now”, he said trying to convince himself. With unsteady first steps, testing every foothold with a toe, he unsteadily picked his way down the kicked-up track they had left. Every time he passed a spot where he had stumbled, he paused as if waiting to be pulled down again. 

Her sobbing ebbed to a soft whimper as her shivering grew to a shudder.  His shirt, large as it was, offered meager comfort, covering only her head and shoulders leaving the rest of her glowing alabaster  in the night air. He thought about stopping to rearrange her but feared once he put her down, he wouldn’t be  able to lift her again. He continued onward. 

Off to his left, a barren silhouette against the sky was the split oak, still deeply rooted and sturdy after being split by a lightning strike fifty years ago, The cold comfort of knowing his location was eclipsed by the chilling knowledge that they were still two-thirds of the way up the mountain and at that moment he had no earthly idea of how they were going to get down. 

Then, as sudden as flipping a switch, the night went black, no moon, no fog, no stars, no shadows. He could see nothing near or far as the wind kicked up. He heard the branches above his head clattering like dried bones and leaves from underfoot whirled in small twisters against his face. He could feel Toni’s sobbing across his shoulders but couldn’t hear her above the now swirling windstorm that circled them. His eyes were wide open but useless. There was no sound but the rushing wind punctuated by a  wailing that either came from Toni, himself or the mountain. He had no idea where to put his foot, so just put it down. Then again feeling weightless,, then once more feeling nothing, the ground opened beneath him, his feet pinwheeling as if he had jumped off a ridge, until, still blind in the inky darkness, he felt the ground as a shock that hurt his ankles first then paralyzed his legs. But he stayed upright, stepped out of the draw and splashed into the stream that ran at the base of the mountain. The chill water shocked him alert and he finally felt the pain in his left leg and shoulder. He could see again, as if his eyes had been closed and were now open. And the woods were dead silent. Directly ahead was the cabin, the orange glow from the fireplace dancing  in the windows.

He dropped to a knee and bent toward her feet. She resisted getting off his shoulders. 

“Here” he said, “We’re down, the grass is soft here..See? There’s the cabin.  In the glow of the moon which they now moved toward, she was white marble, veined and scratched, revealing all  where his shirt fell open. She hadn’t noticed that the return trip from the hour climb up the mountain had taken ten minutes. He noticed but was happy not to think about it. He squeezed her close, his arm around her shoulder as they limped toward the light. 

Inside, he stood her in front of the fireplace and tossed some pine kindling and a few split logs on top of the small fire that was already burning. Within moments the pine crackled and the hardwood was catching along the split face and the radiating heat warmed her bare legs and belly. 

“I’m glad there was still propane in the tank”, he said. “And I turned on the water heater.” He was holding his hand under the spigot waiting for the water to warm. “There’s a basin under here”, he said, reaching under the sink. Nothing he was saying needed to be said. He wasn’t into self-narration as people sometimes were: “I’m going to the bathroom”or ” I’m getting a drink of water” kind of thing.  He was talking to fill the room. To beat back the silence that held who knew what?

The basin full and steamy he tossed in a bar of soap which bobbed along the surface and a washcloth which floated until it sucked up enough soapy water to drop out of sight. “I got you some nice hot water to clean yourself up with”, he announced carrying it over to her like it was the Christmas goose.

‘You can clean yourself up” he said, setting the basin in front of the fire. “I’ll get some towels’. She sagged slightly as if burdened.”You do it…”, she said limply. “I’m too tired…” He pulled the day bed screeching across the floor and helped her to sit on it. She winced when her bottom hit the towel he had laid there, so he pushed her onto her back and rolled her over. “Let’s deal with this first” he said.  She only sighed. 

Nothing that he had done with her in the bedroom tonight or anytime previously could hold a candle to the intimacy inherent in his current ministrations. He touched her in ways and places that he never had, paying attention to “every nook and cranny”, as his mother used to say. But he was sure she could not have imagined her phrase being used in this context. Toni  moved into his soft touch, lifting and opening as prodded by washcloth or soapy fingers. The heat of the fireplace almost dried her before he could rinse. “Wait here”, he said unnecessarily. Patting her on the side of her leg well removed from her wounds, only a few of which, in the light of the hanging bulb, had drawn blood.

He went to the cabinet in the kitchen and found a tube of salve that had an expiration date years past and a bottle of rubbing alcohol which is what he used for any cut, abrasion, insect bite or rash. Adding the sting and burn of the alcohol to what she was already feeling felt a little cruel even if right minded so he grabbed the salve and returned to the main room where she still lay, bottom up and waiting. “This might help”, he said, dabbing a bit on his fingers and rubbing it gently into the worst welts. She whistled lightly through her teeth.

“I’m sorry”, he said.

“It’s OK” she replied, “Thank you.”

He sat on the bed beside her as he treated her. She subtly and naturally moved her near leg into his and  her right the other way. . Then her hips lifted just enough to open herself. Lonnie moved his hand from her tortured bottom to the inside of her near thigh where he kneaded gently. She moaned and flipped her head away burying it under the pillow. Taking that as a positive signal, he moved his hand up to her sex, pleased to find it sopping far beyond soap and water. He slipped his fingers in and around finding the firm nugget of her clit and rubbing it gently but insistently. Her arousal eased the guilt that he had  started to feel about his growing erection. 

She said something into the pillow that he didn’t hear. Without stopping his fingering, he leaned closer. “I didn’t catch that.”

She pulled her head from under the pillow. “Fuck me!”, she said forcefully, making sure she was heard this time. She also slid her legs further apart and arched wantonly. Her sex glistened against his hand. He knelt between her legs and pushed his pants and underwear down to, then over his knees. Seeing that his hips were going to contact her welts he warned her. “This is probably going to hurt your butt.”

“I don’t care!” she said. “I want you in me!” For emphasis she pushed backward. He grabbed her hips and slid himself all the way in, slapping his belly against her striped bottom. She moaned but he wasn’t sure about which. 

Another Stray Day

Claude Monet, The Gare Saint Lazare: Arrival of a Train

Continuing with the characters from The Stray

Robin slipped her shades on just as she turned the corner, knowing she’d be walking right into the early afternoon sun. A beautiful day to be off-at least as off as she ever was. She needed to check in at The Stray for a few to put together a liquor order then it was off to the museum for the traveling Impressionists show that was only here through the weekend. 

“Toddler! What’s up little man?” Todd shifted on his stool behind the bar where he was reading the paper. “Don’t get up on my account.” Todd was “little” like black was white, like square was round. Six five or so, three hundred if an ounce, he was the late night closer filling in for the afternoon. 

“Aw man”, he moaned. “I thought you were off today.”

She grinned at the big man’s gibe. “Ten minutes, that’s it. Then I’ll let you get back to…” she gestured to the nothing he was doing. “…your what have you.”

“Seriously”, he said, folding the paper and laying it on the bar, “A beautiful day like this…why you here?”

“Forgot the liquor order yesterday…”

“Done.”

“What?”

“Saw it in the register…called it in.”

“Did you add the tequila? I had it on a note…”

“I can read. Even your scratches…”

“Well”, she smiled, “Our little boy is growing up…”

She was about ready to turn on her heel and head back out the door when Todd mentioned that he hadn’t seen Olive yet today. Which was unusual. She was an early riser and a restless little shit who was sometimes found sitting at the bar having a coffee when they opened the place. They exchanged a glance. Todd was concerned or he wouldn’t have brought it up but he wasn’t yet concerned enough to go check on her. Tag, you’re it, thought Robin. 

Robin made no effort to be quiet climbing the steps and walking the short hallway but hesitated when she got to the door. She had been in there before, usually just to drop off mail or something Olive had left at the bar. She knocked softly. “Olive?” she called. Nothing. Then louder, “Olive?” She tried the knob-of course it was unlocked-and stuck her head in cautiously. “Olive?” The door opened into a small living room furnished with cast-offs and discards, an old stained couch, a sun-bleached table with a chunk of wood under one leg, and an overstuffed chair that definitely looked like it had been picked off the curb. The table was as far into the place as Robin had ever been. She listened hard, trying to will a sound that would preclude her having to venture any farther. Nothing. Dead still. 

A growing sense of dread dragged at her feet as she crossed the room through the open archway into the spartan bedroom. Alley light filtered in through a grimy window that faced the gray block wall of the building next door. The bed headed opposite her and Robin could see Olive on her side, bare feet glowing white like bones out of the legs of her black jeans. As she got closer Robin realized that she was creeping almost on her toes, being as silent as she could. The girl’s dark shirt was riding up in the back revealing her backbone’s sharp knuckles. 

Most of Olive’s face was hidden, shrouded by her long, lank hair. Holding her breath, Robin leaned over, then closer looking, looking…then sighed with relief as she saw the girl’s hair where it covered her mouth, moving back and forth gently in tandem with her shallow breaths. “Thank god”, she whispered, straightening up. Then, once relieved, she slipped into a previous life, scanning the floor around the bed for foil, a pipe, a belt, lighters…anything that might tell a story of a fix, a shot, a smoke. Nothing. She opened the single drawer on the bed stand and under a towel there was…well… Robin smiled even as she felt the heat rise in her face.  What a woman did in her own bed was her business, she thought, covering it back with the towel.  But nothing else. 

She turned back to the bed and called the girl’s name quietly while poking her gently in the shoulder. “Hey, Olive…you OK?” Poke again. The girl’s blue eyes fluttered open behind under her hair, sleepy but clear. It took a second for her to focus and actually see what she was seeing. 

“Robin…” she said. “What’s up…?” She lay on her back blinking slowly as Robin told her that Todd was concerned, well, that they both were, having not seen her all day, and she’d just come up to check on her. 

“Did you have a rough night?” Robin asked, allowing a smile remembering what was in the drawer.

“No. I don’t think so…slept hard though. Wow. What time is it?”

“Almost one, girl…”

“Shit…” Olive brought her hands up to push her hair off her face and rub her eyes. “I was dead!” 

“Yep”, thought Robin, that was the concern. She reached down and, in the manner of a mother to her child, ran the backs of her fingers across her cheek.

“You are warm, Olive.”

“I…just woke up I guess.”

“No”, said Robin. “You’re running a fever…”

“Naw. I run hot…”

“Still…”

“There’s a thermometer in the bathroom. In the cabinet if you want to check.”

Robin straightened, patting Olive’s cheek. “Just a quick look…”

In the bathroom Robin opened the medicine cabinet and sure enough, there were two glass thermometers on the bottom shelf. She grabbed the one in the green plastic sheath and pulled it out. The thermometer had a little silver ball at the end. “Oops,” she thought. “Not this one…” She picked the other and opened it seeing the same little ball at the end of the tube. She grinned. “I guess not…” she thought.

She was still holding the thermometer when she went to the bathroom door.  “Hey Olive, all you have are rect…” she froze when she saw the girl lying on her stomach with her jeans and panties around her knees. 

Olive flipped her head toward Robin. “Yes, that’s it. Bring them both-I don’t think one works. Don’t forget the Vaseline.” Then, when Robin didn’t move, “You OK?”

Robin snapped out of it. “Oh sure…yeah. Right. Vaseline…” She went back to the medicine cabinet and retrieved the other thermometer and the small jar that was beside them on the shelf. She caught her reflection in the mirror and watched the blush sliding over her cheeks. “Oh, yeah”, she said to her reflection. “Totally normal.” 

She came out of the bathroom and approached the bed carefully, again dragging her feet but not out of dread this time. It was something else. The girl had to know that most people, adults anyway, didn’t take their temperatures this way. Didn’t she? Had to. Robin was about to say something-really, this felt so freaking…but she stopped herself. She wouldn’t say “weird”. Having been called that herself so many times as a young human trying to find her way through the cliquish private schools her mother overspent to send her to, she had vowed never to use it in relation to another person. Even when it really freaking applied. 

Olive scooched to one side giving Robin room to sit which she did, gingerly. The truth was, Robin’s deep dark secret, was that she wasn’t as sexual as she appeared. Not frigid by any means and years beyond virginal, she was just…uncomfortable. She was a late bloomer-maybe still a bud-who was constantly plagued by desires that in turn were shadowed by deeper doubts and fears. But she put up a great front. Life had taught her that.

Sitting on the bed she marveled at Olive’s comfort and ease in laying herself bare like this, for this. Never would she have thought to envy Olive anything, besides her obvious looks, but she certainly wouldn’t mind a little of her self assurance.

“Hey”, said Olive into her arm, having crossed them under her head, “You still here?”

“Oh, yeah…” said Robin embarrassed to have been caught..what? Staring? She cleared her throat and popped the cap from the Vaseline. “So”, she asked, making an effort to carry on as normal a conversation as possible, “How do you come to have only rectal thermometers?” 

“I had a friend once who gave me them. He liked to play doctor and brought these. I found out I didn’t hate it…”

Robin dipped the glass tube into the jar and swirled getting a full dollop of the jelly on the tip. 

“So, what happened with the guy”, she asked while gently using her left hand to pull Olive’s cheeks apart to expose her small pink button. She paused waiting for the answer before realizing that Olive wasn’t going to say anything until Robin completed her move. 

Squeezing the thermometer tightly to keep her hand from shaking she placed it on the puckered opening then pushed it in slowly as Olive hissed through her teeth. Nope, thought Robin, doesn’t hate it at all. She released Olive’s cheeks so they closed around the glass tube. “So? The guy?”

“Well, yeah. Like I said, I didn’t hate it. Don’t hate it. But how many times does a girl need her temperature taken? Fifteen? Twenty?”

Robin barely suppressed a giggle. “Seriously?”

“In one evening! I mean, that was his only move!  You do ANYTHING too much it gets boring…”

Robin regarded the girl’s small white bottom beside her on the bed and wondered about the truth of that statement. “You think this is done yet?” she asked, touching the thermometer. 

“I on’t know. Maybe. It’s not that long. Pull it out and see what it says.” She exhaled lightly as Robin withdrew the tube and held it up to the light.

“You’re reading normal”, she said.

“Huh. Maybe that’s the broke one. Try the other…”

Robin looked up toward Olive’s head now. She was up on her elbows, looking back over her shoulder, hair again crossing her face.

“Are you playing with me now?” Robin asked.  

“This was your idea…”

“But I thought…”

“What?”

“…Never mind”, she said wishing she could see the girl’s face more clearly.

She shook down the other thermometer, added the dollop of lube and saw Olive push upward opening herself a bit. She repeated her last steps, spreading then inserting. This time the girl’s hiss was more of a little moan. After releasing Olive’s cheeks she kept her hand on the side of her hip. “That feels nice”, Olive said. 

“Which?” asked Robin, moving her hand then, on impulse, dragging her nails lightly across Olive’s backside as she might a friend’s back. 

“That, definitely.” Without giving it much thought, Robin kept stroking with her nails drawing light pink stripes up and down both of Olive’s bottom cheeks. 

“Have you ever had your temperature taken this way?” Olive asked, her head back on the bed.

“No!” said Robin definitively, making the word sound like “Noah!”

“But you have had things in your butt, right?”

Without breaking rhythm, Robin lightly pinched the soft slack flesh at the very bottom of her bottom. “Don’t be fresh”, she said smiling.

Olive whispered an “ouch” and settled. Robin simply decided to not think for a moment and to continue running her fingers lightly up and down Olive’s backside, sometimes slipping down the back of her legs. She imagined how it must feel, being stroked like this and immediately again felt a twinge of envy along with another deeper twinge that she hadn’t felt in a long time. The girl had gone still, if not asleep then close enough her breathing soft and regular. It occurred to Robin that she was doing something here. Something she’d never done before. She was actually pleasing someone in a most unexpected way and that idea warmed her, just before it frightened her. 

She stopped her hand and tried to speak, squeaking instead. She coughed and waited for a bit of moisture to settle on her tongue. “OK Sweet Martini Olive”, she said using the nickname that she had never shared with her. “Let’s see how you’re doing.”

Again, a tiny gasp punctuated the withdrawal of the little glass tube. Robin held it up and read it. “All good”, she said. Then, feeling a little more open than she had earlier, she patted her bottom. “You can pull up your pants now.”

Instead, Olive sat up and flopped her legs over the side of the bed beside her. Robin made no move to rise nor move even as Olive’s leg rubbed against her. Olive took Robin’s hand and entwined their fingers then settled the back of the woman’s hand on her bare thigh as if they were sitting together on a park bench. Again, Robin was surprised that she felt as comfortable as she did. At least until she looked down and saw that Olive’s lap was as clean and hairless as ivory and her heart flipped. 

“Thank you for doing that”, Olive said.

“You were playing with me.”

“Did you hate it?”

Robin smiled. “Didn’t hate it.”

“I’d like to play with you more.” 

“What?”

“You take care of me. I know you do…everyone here does. I like to show I appreciate it, you know?” When Robin didn’t answer… “And I know I could make you feel good”, she said laying her head against her shoulder. 

Robin accepted the weight of the girl’s head and savored the warmth radiating from her body. “I have someplace to be…” she said not really believing she was saying it. 

“That’s OK”, Olive said, releasing her hand and standing slowly making sure that Robin got a good long look at anything she wanted before turning to face her then pushing herself between her knees. “I need to take a shower anyway…” She pulled her shirt up over her head and tossed it aside. Her small round breasts seemingly defied gravity pushing themselves forward serving, if nothing else, to pry Robin’s eyes from her hairless cleft. 

“Give me a kiss”, Olive breathed leaning closer.

“No. Come on…You’re naked.”

“I’m getting ready to take a shower!” she protested but there was a glint in her eye that Robin saw and Olive knew that she saw.

“You’re still playing with me.”

“You hating it?”

“Not hating it.”

“Then give me a kiss.”

Afterward, Robin descended the stairs carefully like a much older person, leaning on the railing for support. Todd looked up when she entered the bar. There were a couple of customers that hadn’t been there when she went up.

“Finally! I was going to send for help. You OK?”

“I’m fine.”

“Olive?”

“Fine”, she said heading toward the door. “You?”

“Fuck, I’m good”, he answered. “Another Stray day. Hey! What’s so funny?”

She took her laughter with her into the sun washed afternoon.

Ridge Runner

Ridge Runner

Trees, stumps and boulders that he knew well enough to find in the dark appeared as apparitions then faded behind as he stormed up the slim hollow away from the cabin down on the flat river bend. Boiling clouds of wet morning fog clutched at his feet and pulled at his arms as he worked to climb above them.

Halfway to the ridge he slipped around an outcropping and paused to breathe near the copse of stunted torch pine that seemed to grow right out of the rocks. Later in the day, with the sun high overhead, this was a favorite sunning spot for copperheads but now only golden tendrils of sunlight had begun to tear at the gauzy curtain around him. Through an opening shard of green, the cabin looked like a small car from here. From up top it would be a matchbox.

Flight was more an instinct than a planned strategy. No doubt when she said “GO!” she meant out of the room but by the time he yanked his jeans up and cinched his belt, “OUT!” was all he was thinking.

He heard his name, clear as a crow’s call across the valley. Once. Then again. His heart, settling back into its rhythm, pumped the blood that coursed through the welts that he knew crossed his backside. He felt the burn that had been dulled by the run up the mountain. The searing pain that had forced him to bite the pillow.

But worse than that, he felt the wet spot in the front of his pants, that small drip that came when he was hard in spite of-or because of-his humiliation and pain. How could that be right? The first time she’d laid hands on him he felt it.  Did she know that? Could she tell? Is that why she stopped taking him over her lap and made him lie across the bed?

He wasn’t hard just then, thinking about it. But he wasn’t altogether soft either. With none but the trees to see, he rubbed his hand along the back of his jeans feeling a slight charge from massaging a spot at the top of his leg. Just as he was about to loosen his belt to slip his hand inside, he heard his name again. Sharper this time. Jabbing. Then, “It’ll be twice as bad if you don’t get back here right now!”

His heart beginning to race again, he turned his back downhill and continued to climb.

November Rain

 

Neon Rain.

From Tumblr-“Rain” blog

He had gone silent, the way he would, gazing over her shoulder as if absorbed in the shimmering neon reflected on the rain-spattered window. He got this way every time the subject came up. Or rather, every time she shot it down.

She regarded his jawline, his wavy brown hair combed over his ears and ached. She physically ached. Jesus, the guy had it all. Of course the looks had attracted her first-she could admit that. But then the job, the condo, the money…it had seemed perfect for a while. Then, this.

She didn’t know why she couldn’t get past it. Christ knows all her other lines had been drawn in shifting sands-why was this one so hard and set? Just the way it was, she guessed.

Would she have married him had she known about this two years ago? He would have been tough to resist; the security he provided, the doors that he opened for her. But this. Back then, she probably would have ignored it as best she could. Hoped that it was a passing phase. But now, it wasn’t passing. It was settling in and coloring everything. And now she had a say in what they would do and what they wouldn’t.

With an almost untouched beer in front of him he motioned the waitress over. Here we go, she thought.

“A shot of Grandad please.”

She reached out and covered his hand with hers. “Tony-come on…”

“Ah,” he said watching the traffic splash by outside. “November rains always put a chill into me.” Then, calling to the waitress’ retreating back, “Make that a double.”

“Tony”, she said, rubbing his hand. He shifted his gaze making eye-contact for the first time in what seemed like an hour. His eyes were bright and skittery. Frantic-water bugs skimming a pond.

“It’s alright”, he said, “I’m good.”

The waitress put the heavy shot in front of him. Before she even fully turned away, he threw the hot liquor down his throat. Ordinarily, he was a sipper. Liked to savor his whisky over ice. Over time. “Another,” he said holding up the empty glass.

She withdrew her hand from his and focused on the cracked wooden table top. Nothing to do now but hunker down and wait for this storm to pass.

 

Odd Tuesday

 

Boulevard

Continued from Jenna…

At 10:00 sharp the lights in the already dim bar darken another shade focusing all attention to the large television screens hanging on the walls. The regular TV feed had been switched to what looked like a swirling collage of pictures and images moving too quickly to focus.

Mike the doe-eyed security man was below the largest TV with a hand mike. “Ladies and Gentleman! The time has come, to see who might have to spend the rest of the evening standing” a loud spatter of laughter and hoots interrupted him, “or at least sitting gingerly. Are we ready to see?” A loud “Yes!” and he pressed the remote in this hand. There was a fantastic whirl of swimming colors on all the screens which eventually slowed until the pictures and names stored in the chips of everyone’s ID’s began to focus. People strained to see themselves spinning by on-screen. “There I went”, thought Colleen Palmer relaxing as she saw the red top she had worn for her ID photo zip past. She ignored the knowledge that the displays were random and she could come right back.

Between her and Kendra, Pat Jensen watched intently, squeezing his drink, unable to disguise his nerves. This wasn’t really his scene-or being a part of it wasn’t. He was more of a lurker. He enjoyed watching Corrine or Mike paddle the errant waitress now and again but….Damn, he was so hot for Kendra who was rubbing his right thigh as she watched the screen he hadn’t left before this.

Then, the display slowed to make all the sliding pictures visible and everybody watched like the spinning dice on a chuck-a-luck wheel some shouting as their own image flew by. Mike had set the remote aside to allay any fears that we was manipulating the drawing. The screen froze with the visage of a twenty-something guy smiling widely into the camera, the name Jason Biggs superimposed over the picture. “Jason Biggs! Are you in the house?” The question was unnecessary as, at the end of the bar and girl was jumping up and pointing at the unfortunate Jason, no doubt her date. She punched him in the arm and laughed since this evening was his idea and his plan was to have her picture show up on the screen not his.

Mike pressed the button on the remote and the spinning began again. Given the crowd, there would be three more names chosen. The display slowed and slowed…”Megan Hess” he said as the picture of the raven-haired forty-something temptress appeared. No need to look for her as Megan jumped up at her stool raising both fists high in the air. Her breasts threatened to pop out of her blouse which had lost another button in the course of the evening. Beside her Bethany shook her head smiling. “You win…” she said. Megan pointed at Mike, who nodded-accepting the assignment- and pressed the button again.

“SHIT!” Colleen Palmer hissed as she saw her face smiling at her from the screen. “Shit-shit-shit!”

“Oops”, said Kendra. “Sorry about that honey.” She released Jensen’s thigh to reach across and pat her friend’s hand.

Colleen sighed…”It’s OK. Just my luck. Wow” Her heart was pounding…”Would you…?”

“Let Pat…” She said. “You guys are friends right?”

Jensen looked to his left and patted her knee in a way much different from how he had been patting and rubbing Kendra’s. “If you want, I will. I won’t go crazy, you know.”

“Ok, sure….”

“The last one”, Mike said as he pressed the button. Half of the room knowing they were one face away from being saved for the evening and the other half knowing they would have to wait for their secret fantasy to be fulfilled, leaned forward.

“And our final winner is…”

She didn’t look up-kept her eyes glued to the floor almost knowing what was coming- “Jenna Redmon!” She shook her head grinning ruefully. One chance in 10, she thought. Why was she so sure she’d be picked?

“Oooohh…Jenna”, Molly said beside her in something like sympathetic wonder.

“Yep.“ Jenna said without looking up-didn’t want to see her picture on the screen. “Got me.”

Mike flipped the TV back to its regular feed and moved down the bar to get the paddles. He paused beside Kim Chen who was putting her coat on to leave. “Stick around”, he told her. “No need to run off…” She smiled brightly and patted him on the cheek. “Early day tomorrow.”

“You know…” he started, ignoring the warning bells sounding between his ears. “You don’t have to wait a couple of weeks to see if-by chance-you can get what you…want. I can…”

“You’re sweet…”

“No so much. No really. Kim-anytime. Anything.” He slid easily from hesitancy into a firm assertion-finally getting the hand he had be waiting for, he pushed all his chips into the middle of the table. “Only what you want. Only when you want. Seriously. Completely at your service.”

She paused, coat over her shoulders, and looked into his eyes for a hint of anything that wasn’t true. “You want to run in the morning?”

“I don’t get out of here till two. When’s morning?”

“I can wait till ten. Meet you at the pump house at the reservoir?”

“I’ll be there.”

She smiled and kissed him a quick peck on the cheek. “Wear your fast shoes…” She turned and walked away leaving Mike feeling light and about sixteen years old.

At the end of the bar, Corrine was comically begging Jenna. “Can I do you? Can I, huh, can I….?”

“Probably not” said Jenna. “You want to too much…”

Corrine saw her looking toward Mike as he walked by. “Naw, not him. He’ll swat the MILF.”

“Jesus!” said Molly.

“Here”, said Jenna jabbing at Corrine. “How about Molly?”

“Molly’s not playing tonight”. Corrine said quickly. That was all she would need-Having Molly up front having not run her card. “Aw come on…somebody has to…”

“Oh, all right.”

“Yesss!” Corrine hissed pumping a fist.

They stood across the wall of the back room on a riser meant for a band; four pairs, each with a chair behind them.

Jason Biggs was first in line, his wife Sharon a slight honey-haired girl standing beside him paddle in hand. After he turned around, the crowd howled at his wife’s pantomime as she pretended to wind up like a baseball batter lifting her leg to feign a vicious follow-through. Whatever it was exactly, this was the kind of domestic drama that always played well at The Club.

Next was Colleen, looking uncomfortable but smiling gamely. She couldn’t wait to turn around so she wouldn’t have to look at anyone. She strangely remembered an ex-boyfriend who had told her, “that’s kind of odd, isn’t it?” when she had asked him for a birthday spanking a couple of years back. Wonder what he would think of this?

Beside her, Megan continued to play to the crowd with Mike, the dutiful straight-man, smiling beside her. Without prodding she raised her hands pulling all attention her way, then slowly brought them to her belt. With overwrought motions she slipped the leather overlap from its loop and unclasped it. The crowd whistled. In answer, she unsnapped her corduroys.

Jesus, thought Mike, the older ones are always the crazy ones. As if they don’t give a shit who thinks what, they are going to do what they want. Megan had tried to get Mike to come home with her a couple of times and he’d be lying if he said we wasn’t intrigued.  But he knew on some level that she might be more than even he could handle. If she got him into her lair she would spank him purple and probably snap his dick off like a rotted twig. Then where would he be? Better a gentle dalliance with Kim Chen that promised….he didn’t know what it promised but he was looking forward to it.

On a signal from the bar all four turned around. With her back to the bar, Megan unzipped her fly and pulled her pants open. Then with a slow undulation she pushed first one side then the other downward-working carefully so her panties didn’t slide down too. The crowd whistled their appreciation as her pants slid below her bottom revealing a pair of black panties with the words “SPANK HERE” emblazoned across them. She pointed them out as if anyone could miss them.

Jenna grinned over at Megan who caught her eye and winked.

“So, Jenna…” Corrine asked. “You want to drop them?”

“Naw, that’s OK. This will be fine.”

“You won’t let a girl have any fun.”

“I don’t think you do anything but have fun.”

Corrine grinned and touched her hand to Jenna’s shoulder, bending her over. She grabbed the seat of the chair and arched her back, filling the denim with her backside. There was a twitter in the crowd as Corrine lifted the shirt tail up and over her back. She waited and glanced to her left but Megan’s hair shielded her face.

The first swat landed and stung a bit-more of a thud-muted by her jeans and underwear. The last time this had happened to her, she was bare and she remembered the terrific burn she felt from the paddle. The second swat was a little harder and landed fully on the left cheek, Corrine spreading it out.

Megan absorbed the first swat with nary a twitch. She pushed her bottom backward spreading the SPANK and HERE a little wider. “Come on Mike….” She whispered over her shoulder. On the count from the bar, he patted her with the paddle then pulled back-further this time-and let fly. All four landed in a crackling fusillade. “Better”, she said.

Jason caught his breath after the second swat and squeezed the chair tighter. He couldn’t believe how hard she was paddling him and wracked his brain trying to remember what he might have done to deserve it. His thoughts were driven to the winds though when Sharon actually did wind up like a baseball player and delivered a harder swat than she even thought she could right across is backside. His mouth fell open in a gasp but he said nothing. Jesus! That HURTS! he thought.

After the third swat Megan raised her hand and, with approval from Mike, stood slowly. This was a break that would normally earn her another swat but an exception would be made in her case as the crowd again howled. She placed her thumbs in the waistband of her panties and slowly unveiled her ample bottom to the room. Mike took a step back and with both hands-the right still holding the paddle- pointed Vanna-style at the round pink backside. “Ta-DAAAA!” he seemed to be saying.

Before going back over she whispered, “Make this one count, Mikey…” When she bent, Mike was happy to see that her cheeks were full enough to shield and cover everything else down there. Again, on the signal he lay the wood against her skin that we saw was sprinkled with tiny goose bumps then pulled back. He put more of his arm and shoulder into this swing.

The sound of the paddle hitting bare skin was a loud “SPLATT”, distinctive from the other three cracks. Her cheeks spread and quivered with the impact. She jumped upright and clapped both hands to her bottom rubbing and dancing in place as the crowd roared their approval. To Mike’s relief she didn’t turn around to give the room the full frontal but stood proudly displaying a pulsing bruise on her right globe that closely matched the cranberry color in her blouse. She then bent-everything was done slowly and theatrically-and pulled up her panties, smoothing them over her reddened and finally, happily sore backside then followed with her cords.

Jenna took solace in the knowledge that, bent over in the shadow of Megan’s show, nobody would remember that she was up here tonight. She took the last swat stoically and stood up. “That was OK. Right?” said Corrine standing close, her eyes a bit glassy and her cheeks flushed. “Not too hard?”

“No, it’s good.” Jenna gave her the small smile that she thought she was fishing for. “We’re good.”

Colleen stood red-faced and rubbed her bottom quickly smiling at Jensen, knowing he had taken it easy on her. Yeah, he was a sweet guy. Why hadn’t they ever hooked up she wondered looking up at him. Then her eyes cut to Kendra across the bar who raised her glass in salute. Probably because I’m not tall and blonde she thought.

Jason Biggs kneaded his butt through his khakis knowing how hard she had hit him-how hard she had meant to hit him. He looked at his little Sharon who returned a tight smile that belied the fire burning in her eyes. He wasn’t sure he was in a hurry to go home.

“Those of you going home with someone who swung the paddle tonight, remember there is no retaliation allowed! That would go against the spirt of our game here. You will just have to wait for the next Odd Tuesday.”

 

Jenna

Boulevard

Continued from “A Haven for the Particular”

Corrine saw her, alone at the corner of the bar, when reaching for a bottle on the shelf beside the cooler. She must have snuck in. She lifted her chin in the universal “I’ll be there in a sec” bartender signal. The girl nodded back. She was about Corrine’s height with wider shoulders giving her a more tapered torso.

“I’m sorry”, Corrine said approaching. “You snuck in on me.”

“S’okay. I wasn’t here that long.”

“I’m Corrine.”

“Jenna.” She reached a fist over the bar and Corrine bumped it. Big hands extending out of the rolled sleeves of a western style shirt that she wore untucked. “Double Tito’s. Single tonic.”

Corrine poured smoothly and quickly-not hurrying but with no wasted motion aside from the necessary flourishes with the knife and the lime. Then, drink in her right hand, she flipped a coaster in front of Jenna and plopped the glass on it.

“Thanks.” The short thick waves of her auburn hair was dark enough to be mistaken for brown. Her smile showed a slight overbite with a little overlap in her front teeth. Interesting-not unattractive.

“You’re not…exactly new here are you?”

“I was here once before. A few Tuesdays ago…”

“Odd Tuesday?”

“Yep.”

“You alone?”

“Yep.”

“You’re signed in at the door?”

In answer, Jenna waved her Club ID that she pulled out of her back pocket.

“Can’t believe I don’t remember you…Sorry about that.”

“Don’t worry about it. I hid pretty much. In the back corner.”

“You’re new in town though…I can’t really place the accent.”

“Don’t try. Moved around a lot as a kid. My dad was in the Air Force. Moved here from Houston about a month ago where we were for awhile. My boyfriend got transferred.”

“You have a good month or two before winter settles in…”

“No problem. I was born in Colorado-wanted someplace green with seasons you could feel.”

“Oh yes….there are a lot of things you can feel around here”, Corrine said gauging how wicked of a smile to send. She paused as her phone vibrated in her back pocket. She pulled it out and glanced at it then replaced it.

“Right back…”

Jenna watched her give a quick if discreet look around the bar then slip through the opening and out of the room through a set of swinging doors behind her. She scanned the mixed crowd. A couple of guys in business casual, a lot of jeans, some hipster flannel and a smattering of leather. A forty-something woman-prettily made up with immaculate hair and nails sucked nervously at a cigarette. She shrugged an embarrassed, “yes, I’m here” smile when Jenna caught her eye then looked down at the ashtray. Jenna couldn’t tell if she was embarrassed to be here as a spectator or to want to be part of the show.

With a swoosh behind her, the swinging door opened again. Corrine slipped unobtrusively back behind the bar and a bright little red-headed firecracker popped into a space beside Jenna. She again noticed Corrine scanning the bar quickly, not quite nervously but, anxiously. Convinced then, of something, she turned her attention back to the two of them.

“Jenna-Molly”, said Corrine. “Molly-Jenna…”

“Hi”, said Molly extending a hand.

“The back door girl…” said Jenna, shaking it.

“Yeah, well…” said Corrine refilling Jenna’s drink “She’s just stopping by for a moment…” Then placing the drink in front of her, “This is on me…” Jenna thanked her with a quick nod. “Be right back…”

Molly watched Corrine serving the other side of the bar as Jenna focused on a small bruise on the side of the girl’s neck that she had tried to conceal with makeup. Do adults give each other sucker bites up here?

“You a regular here?”

“No, no…” Molly said. “I’m usually at the ‘Lucky’ uptown. You know it?” Jenna shook her head. “Good music-used to be full on jazz but it’s a mix now… came here with a friend a couple of months ago, I guess. This place…wakes up something in me…”

“I could see that…”

“How about you”, Molly asked. “You new here?”

She explained that she had been here before and Molly asked her if she had been picked.

“No”, she smiled. “Happily not.”

“Happily not, or sadly not…?” There was a twinkle to the girl, that’s for sure.

Jenna smiled and sipped at her drink. “You know, I’m not sure really.”

“Uh huh…” Molly sipped at a drink that Corrine had slipped in front of her.

“I have a history”, Jenna said.

“Oh? Really?”

“About five years ago. I was a sorority girl.”

“Do they still do that?”

“They did in my case…”

“Still do what?” Corrine asked returning to chat. She had been joined by another bartender as the evening marched on so there was some time.

“She was in a sorority…”

“Really? What was that like?”….

The beauty of a place like The Club, especially on Odd Tuesday, is that everyone there-regardless of background, job or back story had traces of the same color within. Things which wouldn’t be talked about in the outside could be happily ordinary here. Jenna had no problem telling her story.

“Jesus”, Corrine shook her head. “You’re tougher than I am-I couldn’t have stood for that…”

“She gives”, Molly smiled. “Can’t take…”

“Enough out of you…”

“…And that was the beginning of the end for me at School. Some of the girls started calling me “Wild and Wooley” which was funny-I never trimmed back then…but school wasn’t right for me.”

“Got your money back though right?”

“Paid in full…I earned it though. Couldn’t sit right for a couple days.”

“You ever talk to any of them after…?”

“Two girls apologized to me. Said Heather overstepped…blah, blah…”

“So you were all forgive and forget?”

“Sure, but I told them both I’d forgive them if they came to my room and I’d give them exactly what they gave me…”

“No way”, Corrine leaned in. “You paddled them?”

“Only one took me up on it. Diana-we’re still friends-she invited me to her wedding last year…”

“Did you go?”

Oh, sure…you get pretty close to people when you’ve seen them at their most…vulnerable.”

“That is a story I’m going to want to hear sometime…For sure.” She scanned the bar and had to go make a couple of drinks.

“Talk among yourselves…Duty calls…

To Be Continued

Molly for Breakfast

Continued from…Molly In The Morning…

Shower

Because the floor to ceiling windows were tinted, the bathroom felt dim and comfortably shaded even in the bright light of morning. It was no doubt a man’s room, done in dark shades of polished concrete and stone. The hot tub was elevated on a rocky pedestal near the windows and the back wall opposite the windows was alternating rows of black slate and gray tile. There was no enclosure-it was an open shower with a wide chrome rainfall showerhead coming out of the ceiling. Two chrome hand shower heads hung on the wall.

Corrine gently guided Molly to an armless redwood chair in the middle of the room.

“Something, huh?” asked Corrine sitting.

“Like a cave…but what about…?” she was looking at the windows.

“One way glass, we can see out, nobody can see in.”

“Very cool.”

As she was talking, Corrine pulled Molly to stand between her open legs. The younger woman’s eyes fell to the tiled floor then to Corrine’s tightly toned thighs extending out of her shorts.

“You slept with John, last night…” she asked without asking.

“His bed is amazing…” Corrine answered without answering. She unbuttoned the girl’s blouse and pushed it back off of her shoulders. Molly didn’t help, she was still, allowing herself to be undressed, allowing the blouse to be pushed down her shoulders and off. She reached back and unsnapped her bra and shrugged it loose. Corrine took it and slipped it down her arms.

“You did sleep with John last night.”

“I did. But it’s what you said. I slept with John. Nothing else.”

“But you were….”

“I’m always naked over here…John and I are friends. And we have some…particular tastes that are shared by a number of friends-including his lover which isn’t me…”

“But….”

Corrine put her finger over Molly’s lips. “That’s all you’re getting for now…”

She smiled. “Hopefully not all….”

Molly’s breasts were firm and round with small pink nipples. “I thought I might find some freckles on you…” said Corrine, tracing her hand across the milky mounds. Molly stepped closer to allow the woman to rub her cheek along her belly and gasped lightly when Corrine raised her mouth to lick, then kiss one of her hardening nipples. Then the other.

Back to the task at hand, Corrine unbuckled Molly’s belt and loosened her jeans. They were snug but once unzipped, slipped easily over the swell of her hips and down her legs into a bunch on the floor which Molly stepped out of. Corrine gently rubbed at the deep creases that a long night’s sleep in jeans had left at the beltline.

“This is why we don’t sleep in jeans…” she said.

“I know you don’t…” Molly answered touching Corrine’s hair.

The woman lifted her head into the caress without pausing in her own ministrations. “Here”, she said, “Let’s get rid of these…” and with that rolled the girl’s silken panties down her thighs where they joined the rest of her clothing. Corrine reached out and grasped the girl by her butt cheeks to pull her close. She dipped her head to rub her face gently into the wild bush of red hair at Molly’s crotch. “Ahhh…” she sighed-“this is what I was hoping for…”

“What?” asked Molly now stroking her soon-to-be-lover’s head with both hands.

“Wild! Hairy and wild and….wild…” She pulled her close-intoxicated.

Molly smiled and picked Corrine’s head up gently-“There is wild and there is wild…but I’d love to hit the tub now…before….”

Corrine squeezed the girl’s cheeks tighter, slipping her fingers into her crack as if hoping to split it open. “What if I don’t care…”

Molly stopped her with a kiss. “Come on” she said, “…you promised me a soak…” And if Corrine was going to say anything, another kiss stifled her words.

The eucalyptus steam filled the room and fogged the windows, further diffusing the morning light. Corrine lounged on the underwater bench with her back along the rim of the tub holding Molly snuggled in the crook of her arm. Molly, eyes closed, hungrily devoured the deep thrusting kisses that stole her breath. She opened herself as Corrine’s hands massaged her breasts then slid down her belly.

“Here”, Corrine whispered, gently removing her arm and sliding a folded towel in its place. “Lay back.”

As Molly did, Corrine slipped in front of her and knelt so that the water was up to her neck. She reached her hands under Molly’s bottom and lifted her until her muff broke the bubbling surface then closed her mouth over it with a growl.

“Hungry?” asked Molly smiling.

“Famished…” came the answer.

“Do what you want to do…”

“If I do that right now I might drown…”

Molly pulled her back up to sitting beside her but Corrine’s hand remained under the bubbles working her fingers gently around her vagina.

“Maybe we should move to drier ground, then”, said Molly.

“Do you think you’re clean enough yet”, Corrine asked gently pinching her bum.

“Squeaky.”

Corrine rose to her feet as Molly’s eyes ravished her body. Her hard nipples stood erect and pulsing shedding water which ran down her flat belly and dripped from the tiny black patch at her crotch. The girl badly wanted to lap at that stream and reached out to grab at Corrine’s hip only to be rebuffed by a gentle arm block. “Uh-uh-uhhh”

Molly played along giving her a little pouty face.

Corrine extended a hand. “Come on, stand up.”

Molly had to be satisfied for the moment with a tight hug that allowed her to kiss one of Corrine’s taut breasts before being helped out of the tub.