Front Nine

“Then”, he said, after striking his ball cleanly and watching it disappear over the top of the crest before them, “She said I was an alcoholic…and mean.”

Peter gave no immediate indication that he had heard. He approached his ball with a seven iron, comfortable that he could get to the green. “But you are”, he said casually measuring with an easy practice swing.

“Yeah but it wasn’t a problem until…” Evan paused to allow Peter to hit.

“Fuck!” He topped the ball and it skated up to the top-almost got over-then rolled back a foot, then settled.

“It wasn’t a problem”, Evan went on, “Until….”

“She quit drinking.” Peter finished the sentence for him. “I know. You’ve said.”

That was the bitch about golfing with your internist. There were no secrets.  “Go ahead, hit again.”

Peter walked to the top and looked over scanning for Evan’s ball. “Where are you?”

“I’m betting ninety yards down-ten o’clock…”

Peter squinted down the fairway and, satisfied, stepped to his ball. He looked comfortable on the hill, one long leg bent on the uphill side-the other straight. One practice swing then a clean stroke and with the clear CLACK of a well hit shot the ball flew up and out of sight.

“One twenty”, Evan said turning abruptly toward the cart. “You got me by thirty but you’ll never make up that stroke.” Peter grinned as he got in and they whirred silently down the cart path.

Peter reached into his bag and pulled out two cigars handing one to Evan. He admired it in spite of himself-it was a favorite but he wouldn’t buy them. No matter how much money he had, spending thirty bucks on a cigar was stupid especially when his old man happily smoked himself to death on generic cigarettes. He took the offered cutter and sliced the end, then lit up. It was a Wednesday morning and they were not pressured. There was time to enjoy a smoke. Even a thirty dollar smoke.

“There was the time you told me you didn’t fear cancer because you were married to her”, Peter said picking up a thread of conversation that should have died.

“I did say that, didn’t I?”

“Many times”, He said exhaling a plume skyward.

Evan puffed deeply and considered the lighted end of the Cuban. He flicked the ashes from the red glow gently and blew on it, suddenly swallowed by the thought of jamming the fiery tip into someone’s eye. Reflexes would win out and undoubtedly the eyelid would close and there would only be a burned eyelid and the requisite screaming.

But what if he were quick enough to get the smoldering tip into the eye proper-would it sizzle like water hitting hot grease and fall into itself? Or would it pop like an egg, oozing down the face and dripping from the cigar like yolk from a burnt toast tip?

Peter stepped out of the cart and picked through his five thousand dollars-worth of clubs. Ridiculous clubs-he wasn’t a good enough golfer to be outfitted this way. Evan came out with eight clubs in an old bag he’d had since college. That’s probably one of the things she liked about him-he was flashy. She’d come to like flashy it seemed.

“I imagine you’re going with your wedge for this one, right?” Peter asked from behind him.

Just don’t pick today to tell me you’re fucking her, Evan thought darkly. Not today.

Peter chose his club and walked brightly to his ball eyeing the flag on the green. He didn’t really notice that Evan hadn’t answered as he was distracted by a sumac leaf. It was a beige sumac leaf shaped birth mark that Evan’s wife, Janie, had right along the inside of her ass cheeks. It was hardly visible until she opened to him-her favorite sex position was face and knees. He ran his thumb over it as he rode her, imagining the skin felt rougher there. It didn’t though; the inside of her crevasse was as soft and luscious as the rest of her.

“How about double or nothing on the next hole?” he called back over his shoulder without really looking.

“Sure. Why not?” Evan answered. He was up fourteen hundred over the first seven and wasn’t giving anything back. He watched Peter take that lazy practice swing of his and smoked.

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Scar Lover

“There is something beautiful about scars of whatever nature…A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with.

Harry Crews-from Scar Lover

 

Guthrie Moore sat in the car hidden from the house by the fat pines. If she was watching from the kitchen she had seen him pull up but, by the glow, she was watching TV in the back room. He wasn’t sure why he was sitting in the dark, waiting. Nor could he explain why he had sat at the bar for an hour before coming over. The evening had been planned out for him-why had he felt the need to elbow space into it?

Jared wasn’t there. Finally and for good he was gone. He had announced it to all within earshot last week that he was heading to Dallas for that construction gig he’d talked about for the last year. Everyone was conditioned to not believe the asshole but when he pulled out with the fully packed truck leaning into a thirteen hour drive south, all anyone, including his wife could say was, “Finally!”

Yes, it was a shit move to leave between surgeries but to hear Marian tell it, anytime he left would have been fine. He could have left while she was under the knife for all she cared. She was exhausted from trying. Their shaky marriage had crashed three years before when, on a weak night mentally worn by Jared’s chill carelessness, she had fucked a painter that they all knew. A little drunk and a lot sad, she had done it in his truck. She had regretted it immediately, but there it was.  Of course word got back to her husband who’d smacked her around and then shut her down.

He had slept in the spare room and took up with at least three other women around town-making sure everyone knew about it and how he wouldn’t leave “the bitch” until she bought him out of the house….on and on-a river of crap. He drank more and when he did that, would hit her more. Marian never fought back; she had taken it-the whole sackcloth and ashes deal-and stayed a newly minted virgin waiting for the next shoe to drop.  It finally did when he decided to leave town.

What Marian would never know was the night before her husband had so suddenly decided it was time to leave, Jared had found himself pinned against the brick wall at the at the back of Cothrie’s Body Shop. Big Ralph had one hand around his throat and the other held Jared’s left hand. Milo had grabbed his right hand and leaned his considerable bulk into his ragged chest, further pushing him into the unforgiving stone. Young Bertram (so-called to differentiate him from his father) was on his knees having yanked Jared’s jeans and underwear down, and was holding his cock in his left hand and his scrotum with his right stretching them just enough so that Guthrie could slip his six inch blade between them and just touch the skin ever so lightly.

Jared’s screams would have awakened everyone in the cemetery beyond the low wall had Milo not shoved his dirty bandana into his mouth. Guthrie had squeezed a nut just enough to make sure he had Jared’s wild-eyed attention when he told him they had a sack with eight thousand dollars in it-which was much less than his half of the house was worth but was, after all, cash in a sack. He further told him that if they left him intact that night he should pack up and head out and never show is face around here again.  If he did…well, these boys were always looking for a bit of amusement. Young Bertram was actually disappointed when Guthrie put his knife away.

Marian cracked the door slowly, against the chain, after the second round of soft knocks. Seeing it was him, she closed it, slid the chain and opened for him. He paused a moment as if giving her a breath-a chance to close the door again-then stepped inside and put an arm around her shoulders.  He kissed her lightly-chastely-on the cheek.

“Hi Baby…” she said turning. He followed her up the few steps into the living room. She was wearing a gray sweatshirt and matching sweatpants. Her feet were bare.

“Cute outfit”, he kidded her.

“If I knew you were coming, I’d have put on socks.”

She led him to the sectional opposite the TV and gathered the quilt from the floor where she’d tossed it when she went to the door. He sunk deeply into the cushion which still radiated her heat. There was a glass of what looked like an energy drink that he knew would be laced with Vodka on the coffee table. Marian picked it up and flopped down beside him.

“What’s on?” he asked.

“I don’t know-I’m just trolling….Here.” she handed him the remote. Together they sat in the light of the big screen, watching nothing but flashing images of different shows, commercials and movies. Guthrie never really had time to sit and watch TV so wasn’t up on this season’s finest. Or worst, as far as that goes. He flicked through the collage for a few moments then glanced sideways at Marian.

Her face was slightly mottled-eyes were bloodshot-but her cheeks were dry. There was certainly evidence of the constant crying and gnashing that Shelly had told him about but it seemed to be currently in a lull.

“You doing OK?” he asked.

“You remember Delbert Lynn?” she asked.

Of course he did. Delbert was in high school with them and Marian and he had quite a thing one summer. Everyone thought they would pair up for good. But they didn’t. And Delbert died overseas. Coming home in a box to lay forever in the field below town.

“I had a dream last night…you and Shelly were there. I was there and Delbert Lynn was across the room on the floor. We were all watching a race on TV and smoking cigarettes”.

“Delbert Lynn didn’t smoke…”

“I know that. Neither did we for that matter. And we didn’t watch races then or now. But we were-it was just weird. I was sitting cross-legged on the floor watching the cars go round and round…this high pitched whine coming from the TV. Anyway, you and Shelley were making out and I felt kinda left out, so I crawled-on hands and knees-over to Delbert Lynn where he was sitting on the floor.

I said to him, tell me what you’re thinking-and he said, you’re not going to like it-and I said, tell me anyway, cause I had a feeling what it was-and he said ‘I don’t love you anymore’. Just like he said it back then-and it was like a movie, because it went into extreme close-up and there were his same green eyes-the freckles-but the face was a man’s face. Not a boy’s. God, that hurt. It hurt last night just like it did then…But I was scared in the dream he was gonna tell me he was dead. But then, I didn’t know which of those messages would have been worse.”

“He was a sweetheart though.”

“Yeah.”

She sipped at her drink, her face clouding. She talked toward the room-not trusting herself to look at him. She wondered if she would ever have anyone again. It was encouraging that in dreams she jumped right over Jared and back to Delbert Lynn in surveying the loves of her life. “I’m telling you Gut, once I get this reconstruction and lose twenty pounds, I’ll get out there and find somebody to love me.”

“You got that right here”, she said running his hand through her hair.

“I know I have that”, she said. “And I love you for it. But I want someone for me. Of my own…”

Guthrie turned her head toward his and pulled her closer. “You will Marian-you definitely will.”

Their mouths came together slowly and gently. He opened his lips and she hers.

“Your mouth tastes like cigars, peanuts and beer. Could you please pretend that you don’t think I’m desperate enough that that won’t matter?”

“I could go gargle.”

“Or just don’t kiss me. At least not on the mouth.”

“How about the back of your neck?” She turned her head to the side…

“How about tiny nibbles on the back of your head?” He said quietly, nibbling.

She shifted further around-up on her hip-exposing her back. He inhaled her shampoo and the sweet, clean soap smell off her neck. He reached around and cupped her full right breast.

“See? I still have one tit left…”

“Actually you still have one tit-right.”

She snorted a small laugh and shot him an elbow. “Asshole!”

Her left breast was still there in fact. He hadn’t seen it but she had described it, in tears, often enough. His wife had helped her with post-op dressings and had described it. He didn’t mind it. He could see it-he had asked her once jokingly to flash him as she was wont to do years ago, but she wouldn’t.

“Here”, he said putting his hands on her midriff which had come bare as the sweat shirt rose up. He worked at turning her toward him. “Come around here.”

“Don’t be measuring my waist-there is a lot more there than there used to be.”

“Some”, he said. “Not a lot.” She was back to sitting beside him and reached up with her mouth.

“I thought you didn’t want to kiss me…”

“Well, I guess I’m that desperate.”

They kissed gently and tentatively-rubbing wet lips over closed mouths. Marian parted her lips first and he slipped his tongue between them and into her mouth. The rules of their game were simple-no penetration and Guthrie kept his pants on. He got enough at home, Shelly told him. He could flirt and he did that with the best of them. He got great joy out of flirting with her in front of her husband who either missed it or, more likely, gave not one shit.

They got involved in this spanking thing a few years before on Marian’s birthday. It was Shelly who suggested it that night. A birthday spanking! It turns out they all enjoyed it-he especially-slapping her butt encased in tight pocketless jeans. It was a great way to have sex without really….having sex.

He hadn’t spanked her a lot…six times? Seven? Only twice on the bare-once with Shelly in the next room and the last time had been over a year ago-just after her diagnosis. She needed a “release” she said, with all the shit going on in her life. This time was going to be different though Marian didn’t know it.

“I think it’s past time you went over my lap”, he said.

“Have I been bad?” she whispered into his ear.

“I think you’re going to be.”

Not breaking the kiss she came up on her knees and began to crawl over his lap.

“uh-uh-uhhhh” he stopped her.

“What?” she asked, pausing.

He reached for the draw-string on her sweats. “These are so sexy Marian, but they really have to come down…”

“Oh, Gut…with how big I am…I don’t want…”

He shushed her and gently slapped her hand away when she tried to grab his.

“I’m not wearing panties”, she complained.

“That’s OK. They would have come down too…”

“Aw man….” She huffed.

He loosened the string and pushed them as far down as he could with her kneeling there. She looked away as if not seeing him looking at the thick thatch of honey-colored hair below her navel, he really wasn’t seeing it.

“Now you can come on over….”

With an embarrassed groan, she settled primly over his lap and tried not to move too much. Guthrie ran his hand lightly over the billowing contours of her truly sumptuous ass. She held her bottom firmly up in the air revealing little but the deep crevasse between her lightly clenched cheeks. He cupped her near rump and gently pushed his fingers into the crease losing all of his knuckles before reaching bottom.

“Aw man….” She whined again at his explorations.

“Shhhhh.” He sat back and rubbed his hand over the milky expanse. “You look wonderful”, he said. And she did. She wasn’t as much fat as…big. Different. At least from what he was used to. Shelly was a runner-even now deep in training for a marathon. Sixteen mile runs don’t leave much excess on a woman. He joked with her that somewhere between she and Marian, who always tended to be between failing diets, was a perfect woman. They were the kind of jabs he couldn’t get away with if she wasn’t utterly convinced of his fidelity. And her best friend’s loyalty.

He traced at the lines in her skin and smoothed the creases as the top of her thighs rubbing the dimples settled there. “Fat”, she said…”Shhhh…” he said again. “Here, bend you knees, lift your legs…” and when she did, he pulled the sweats down and over her feet, leaving her bare from the waist down. He was gently rubbing the tension out of her bottom and, as she relaxed, her bottom settled and opened. For the first time in months she began to feel comfortable.

“How many you going to give me?”

“I’m thinking fifty is a good number”, he said continuing to rub and knead her bottom and legs. The left hand worked her shoulders.

“I’ll cry”, she said limply.

“You’ve been crying already as far as I can see…”

“Do you mind if I do? I just have to. I’ll try not to if you don’t want me to.”

He stopped rubbing and lay his hand on the top of her leg. “Why don’t you tell me what it is that you want? How can I help you?”

“No, it’s fine. Fifty smacks is good…just take your time, OK? Don’t rush it. I want this to last…”

“Don’t worry”, he said quietly. “Don’t even think…I’ll take care of you….”He squeezed her hamstring gently then slid his hand down from the back of her leg into the darkness between.

“Gut-Hey!” she whispered feeling his hand between her legs. He pressed his left hand down between her shoulder blades. “Don’t move”, he ordered, though she was making no move to get up. His fingers gently played at the soft skin at the inside of her thighs.

“I don’t think you should be…doing that…” her breath caught as his fingers caressed higher and higher before gently whispering at her vagina.

“You want me to stop?”

“But Shelly…..” she caught again as his fingers concentrated on her moist lips finding the opening between.

“If you want me to stop, say so and I will.” He stroked-still gently but more determinedly-surprised at how wet she was. “But I don’t want to stop.”

She pushed backward slightly opening for his finger which found its way inside her. “I don’t want you to stop”, she almost whimpered.

And he didn’t. With his left hand pressing gently on the small of her back he pushed his finger in and out of her then up and down the outside. He opened his hand forcing her legs apart and settled his finger on her clitoris. Her gasp let him know he was in the right place.

She was no stranger to a finger’s touch, but it was usually her own. Though she craved the release that came that came from a good orgasm she always ended up feeling more alone afterwards in her bed. Now, with Guthrie’s strong left hand offering her security and his other offering her pleasure all she had to do was let go. She writhed slowly pushing backward then dropped one foot onto the floor opening wider to expose everything she had tried to conceal just minutes before. She vibrated in tandem with his quickening finger and would have turned herself inside out if she could.

It didn’t take long. Her orgasm was no long building wave that took time to reach its crescendo but instead a crashing rush that hit her all at once. Pulling both hands to her face she came loudly and strongly digging the toe that was on the floor into the hardwood for traction and rising almost entirely off his lap. He never lost contact with her throbbing clit-riding it up and back down-then gently slowing as she subsided. He stroked her gently rubbing his hand across then up and down her bottom while she regained breathing…”Here”, he grabbed her off leg and pulled it back up settling it into place beside the other one.

They sat like that for a while; Guthrie stroking her bottom-letting his fingers wander and linger as they would-and Marian alternately humming and mewing like a cat. Finally, his hard-on, which was well controlled while he was busy pulling Marian over the top pushed into her hip. She reached under herself to feel it through his jeans.

“You want me to figure out something to do with that?” she asked over her shoulder.

“…Oh we’ll figure out something you can do. Come on”, he said He patting her bum gently “Get up.” She rose slowly on shaky legs. He pushed her gently ahead of him so he could watch her bottom-peeking from under the sweatshirt-sway down the hallway into the bedroom. The bed was unmade so she had to do nothing when he told her to lie down. She scuttled aside to give him room to sit.

“Aren’t you going to get undressed?” she asked.

“Yes, I am…but first…” he took up the band at the bottom of her sweatshirt.

“Don’t.” she said, grabbing it beside his hand.

He let go and she relaxed into the bed as he kissed her-first her mouth, then her neck. Then whispered to her the things he wanted to do with her breast-the things he couldn’t do through a sweatshirt. And no, reaching up underneath on one side won’t get it.

“Please Guthrie…I don’t want you to see…”

“It’s you, Mare. How could you not want me to see?”

She stubbornly held onto the bottom of the shirt. “Maybe you’re right”, he told her. “Maybe you are. Could be that we’ve gone too far off the script already. Right? I should probably get back…”

“Now wait…” She released the shirt to grab at his belt. ”Don’t you want…?”

“There’s only one thing I want…”

She loosened her hold on the sweatshirt slightly and looked off toward the window.

“Turn off the lamp please…” she said.

He did and they were bathed in what was left of the blue moonlight after it had filtered through the trees and blinds. Her hand opened one finger at a time until she let it go and lay her arm back under her head. He pushed the jersey slowly and gently up her belly following it with his tongue leaving a light wet trail up her middle. He got it to her shoulder and descended mouth-first onto her full right breast. He nibbled and suckled like a hungry calf and she hissed, sucking air through her teeth. He slipped his left hand between her legs where all signals were that she was ready for whatever he was doing.

“Here-arms up”, he said as if undressing a child. She lifted them and he pulled the shirt over her head and off. Her left breast was there-just missing a bit of itself-like a waning moon. Somewhat deflated perhaps-desiccated and maybe a bit forlorn shadowed as it was by the exuberant right titty-but not the horror that Marian was convinced it was. He leaned down slowly and gently kissed it as a child might a kitten. She choked slightly and ran her fingers through his hair. He slipped easily out of his jeans and tossed his shirt aside so that he could lay chest to chest with her, filling the void that she felt with himself.

He leaned and she yielded, slowly rolling onto her back letting her legs come open. She drew a sudden breath as he slid deeply into her all at once not stopping till their bellies slapped together. It was the first time he had been inside of her since the after prom, junior year in the back of Joe Ludkey’s van. He pumped slowly and deliberately-taking his time. In to the hilt, grinding pubis to pubis-then all the way (ALMOST) out-then in again-then out…each thrust become progressively faster…each grind a little harder…

“Jesus, Guthrie-I’m going to come again…!”

He caught her rhythm and hooked both arms under her shoulders to ride. This one came from her toes and built as gently as a freight train hitting a downhill. Her fingernails dug into his ass trying to get him further inside until she came with a cry that chased the owl from the pine tree outside the window. Her scream was his permission and with a few more quick short stabs he went stiff and drove her grunting into the mattress painting her insides with thick bursts.

He collapsed onto her chest which felt slightly off-balance but fine otherwise. So they lay together, he on her right side running his hand over her full, complete breast and gently over the rib cage around her left. He wanted to give her the privacy that she needed but not as much as she thought she wanted.  But then, as quickly as that, he got the feeling that it wasn’t as much an issue anymore.

“Can I ask you something-and you tell me the truth…”

“No guarantees…”

“Did Shelly set you up to do this? The whole thing…?”

“What-me fucking her best friend?”

“Cause it would be too much like a pity fuck. And I’m not into that.”

“Did that feel like a pity fuck?”

She rubbed his thigh. “It certainly did not…”

“Girl, pity would bounce off of you like hail off a metal roof”.

So they lay there and talked-like an old married couple. They knew the risks of the game they were playing. He knew them. Guthrie told her he knew there might come a time when he wouldn’t be able to help himself.

“Hell Mare, You know what you do to me. It’s amazing I was able to hold off for this long.” If he didn’t know any better there might have been a little confidence creeping into her eyes as he kissed her on the neck and stood up.

They decided they would have to tell Shelly what happened here. Doing it is one thing, they agreed. Lying about it; keeping it a secret is something else. That’s the poison.

“Will she be mad you think?” asked Marian.

“We’ll figure it out…Maybe she’ll be the one to come over and spank you.”

“I deserve it. And anyway, she spanks harder than you.”

“Your problem.”

They kissed once more at the door-lightly on the cheeks-like the friends that they were.

He was back in the car when his phone vibrated. It was Shelley.

“Hi. I tried you before…”

“Yeah-couldn’t get to it.”

“So?”

“So.”

“…did you do it?”

“Yep”

“The whole thing…not just the spanking part.”

“Didn’t really get to the spanking…”

“Wow, really?” Then, after a pause…”How was she?”

“What? Shelly, really?”

“No, no…not like that. Was she crying-is she OK?”

He started the car. “She’s OK. We’re going out for dinner tomorrow.”

“Who?”

“All of us….”

The Bluetooth picked up his phone as he was driving away so he was speaking to the air.

“Question for you.”

“Yes?”

“Marian said that you spank harder than I do…” There was no response. “Did you hear me?”

“Uh…yeah…”

“How would she know that…?”

He tightened a little behind his fly in the silence.

“I’ll be home in ten”, he said to the windshield. “Make us a drink would you?”