Bonnie’s Bad Morning

Miss Bonnie Eddington woke up gagging, in a sour sweat. She lay on her back waiting for her fluttering heart to settle into its rhythm, still tasting the whiskey. Last night’s sex had been more intense than she’d expected (or had thought to hope for) and  had left her sated and smiling. A celebration was called for. She had found the pint of Windsor in the kitchen cabinet when she moved in and left it where it was. She wasn’t much of a drinker apart from her nightly four or five  quarts of beer.  Her Pa had been a mean gin-drunk so she had sworn away from the hard stuff. But this was a special occasion. She poured a hefty three fingers into a jelly jar. She had no ice and wouldn’t have known what to do with it anyway. The whiskey went down like shards of  glass. She winced and followed it with a heavy glug of warm beer. Again and again.

When she sat up, the room whirled around her. Not very fast, more like a kid’s merry go round. It was still early, the room only gray in the predawn.  She flopped back on the damp sheets, shifted her legs, scrunched her face and farted loudly. She sighed and rubbed her hands over her belly knowing that if there was anything in there, she was sure she’d be puking it up right now. Where were her underpants? she wondered, sliding her hands below. Her body was slick  and her nipples reacted like grasping baby birds when she slipped her left hand over them. 

“Bad girls”. She grinned sleepily and  slipped her right hand between her legs. When she next stirred, she did so barely, just opening her eyes. She was on her side with her hand wedged between her legs, a finger still slightly inside.  The room was bright with sunlight. After registering that it was fully mid morning and mid week, she sat up quickly. “Shit! Shit, shit, shit, shit!” She bolted to her feet too quickly and sat back on the bed. Just a little shaky, she thought. Nothing new. Hadda go though. SO SO late, third, no FOURTH time this month. I’m gonna get fired! She thought. 

In the bathroom she splashed water on her face then swished and swallowed a dollop of toothpaste straight from the tube. No time to shower. She looked into the tub and saw her panties floating in a few inches of cloudy water like a dead jellyfish. DAMMIT! Those were her last pair that were even approaching clean. When one had only three sets of panties, there was not much room for error or accidents. 

She sniffed her armpits, made a face, grabbed the floating panties and sopped her underarms, then dipped them back into the tub and wrung slightly.. Her Ma used to call it a whore bath she remembered, dabbing and rinsing herself below and behind. What self respecting whore would use her own dirty panties for the task? She tossed them back into the tub and did her best to dry on the damp towel that hung over the sink. 

The deodorant would get quite a test today. She rubbed furiously leaving  white chunks among the tiny forests of black stubble under her arms. The only perfume she had was a gift from her Ma and it smelled like a funeral home fire.  Desperate times, though. She sprayed a noxious cloud and walked through it sneezing like an allergic cat. 

She pulled aside the curtain that passed for a closet door and surveyed her possibilities. Superintendent Dexter preferred skirts or dresses for the teachers but with no underwear, she couldn’t chance it. A single stumble or updraft would upset the whole apple cart. Jeans were a no-no. She still had a few  of the plain dark polyester trousers that she’d worn while waitressing at her father’s pub. They were mostly snags and stains but would do in a pinch. They still fit her because her Ma had always bought clothes oversized so that when she “came into her body”, they wouldn’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe. She had come into her body well before leaving home but no one could tell because her clothes were so baggy. She was able to fold over the trousers into a full three inch pleat in front. An old leather belt cinched to the furthest homemade hole held them in place. 

The only remotely appropriate shirt that would hide the waistline was a long-sleeve red  jersey, too warm for the season. She looked in the mirror but had difficulty recognizing herself-her features seemingly bleached and rubbed out. She saw nothing but a smudge under a matted bundle of chestnut hair piled atop her head. She wanted to cry, but there was no time. She pulled a brush through the mess on her head until it fell to her shoulders,and slipped her bare feet into her  loafers, stopping only to gingerly pick up the banana that was on the bedroom floor and slip it into a grease stained paper bag. 

She took the three flights to the street too quickly and once outside, stopped to put her head back and breathe deeply. Not the best move given the dumpster beside her. She retched but nothing came up. When had she eaten last? Fuck it, who knew? She tossed the bag into the dumpster and headed for her stop. 

As soon as she hit her corner the 73C hissed to a stop and the door sighed open. Something went right. Because it was later than usual she had her choice of seats. It was the usual driver, Martha, a large black woman with Popeye arms. “Hiya Sweetie”, she said. “Gettin’ a late start today?” 

“Have had better mornings”, Bonnie answered, flopping into the seat opposite and one behind the driver so that Martha could see her in the mirror without turning around. 

“You don’t look too good”, Martha saidr. “You gotta puke  open the window.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Boy troubles?”, she asked.

“No.”

“Girl troubles? I don’t differentiate or discriminate. To each her own.”

“No, no…this is all me.”, Bonnie sighed.

We’ll Write Our Own Story

He could see her down the alley, heading home. She was moving so slowly through the shadows that it occurred to him she wanted to be stopped, to be called back. In fact, as he watched, she slowed her pace to the point that she was hardly moving. She seemed to be not walking anymore, just languidly floating like algae in a light current. 

Then, in the darkest spot in her path, behind the hulking void of the American Legion hall, she turned and he saw a glint on her cheek. It struck him later as uncanny that he was able to see tears on his girl’s cheek from that far away in that darkness. The simple truth was had he not seen that tear-that simple trick of reflected light-he never would have called her back. 

He stepped away from the garage to be seen and raised his right arm and with a flap of the elbow and a flick of the wrist, beckoned her back. Seeing him she froze then, hurried no more, began to retrace her path, her pace quickening with every step. By the time she cleared the Legion’s shadow she was in full stride, long legs covering broken asphalt and her wet cheeks shining. He opened his arms ready to catch her. The slaps of her sneakers got louder before they stopped when she launched. He wrapped his arms around her and buried his face where her neck should have been and squeezed his own chest hard, his hands wrapped around his own arms. 

Having braced for an impact that never came, he stumbled backward and spun to his right, dropping a hand to the ground to steady himself. Realizing that his eyes were closed he opened them and found himself alone in the middle of the alley. He looked around quickly. Nothing. His heart thumped. He started in the direction from where she’d come, scrambling, jogging and calling her name.  He saw her, didn’t he?  She saw him. She had been there. Hadn’t she? 

Spinning his head, he noticed a faint light in one of the bedrooms of the apartment above the garage. He raced between the buildings and thumped heavily up the wooden steps two and three at a time. The door was open. He burst into the space that he knew so well calling her name. He crossed the kitchen in two strides, Then down the hallway where the dull yellow light oozed from under the door. 

He grabbed the knob and tried to twist but it was frozen. Locked. The door yielded easily with a loud crack to a single thrust of his thick shoulder.and there she sat on the end of the stripped bed, elbows on knees, face in hands weeping. The ferocity that brought him crashing through the locked door vanished in the face of her sorrow. He slid to his knees between hers and gently and finally wrapped his arms around her. 

“What?” he asked.

“I know how this ends.” she said bleakly.

Enveloped by him, her sobbing ebbed somewhat.

“No you don’t”, he said. “WE say how it ends. Not you, not me but WE. It’s us, it’s always been us.”

“NO” she sad emphatically but without anger. “You won’t change. You may think you will, but you won’t. What you were is too strong, it will pull you back. And for that person, I am just a sidekick-the kid down the alley.”

“Not true.”

“True. Is true, Was true. Will be true.”

She was wrong, he thought. How could she be so wrong? He knew how he felt and everything he’d done had been for them. She didn’t believe him anymore. It wasn’t her fault. Without realizing, they had begun to speak different languages. His was the only one they’d heard for years. He had to learn to speak her’s.

He sat back on his haunches and untied her left shoe. He slipped it off and set it aside. Then rolled off her short ankle sock and placed it in the shoe. He repeated the steps with the other shoe. Straightening on his knees he grasped the bottom of her T-shirt and lifted it up over her head where she took over and pulled it all the way off shaking out her hair in a way that seemed triumphant. She never wore a bra and her small breasts, like orange halves, were at eye level. He again wrapped his arms around her bare back and snuggled his face between them. She shivered for the first of many times that evening.

She watched him, eyes clear and alert, as he unsnapped her jeans. Then  lifted so he could peel them down and off.  When he kissed the tops of her long thighs and moved his tongue inside of them, she moaned softly. Her panties were white with tiny red roses spattered over them. Little girl panties. She had others she would have worn if she knew this was going to happen. She yielded to his touch when he pushed her back onto the bed. She scootched backward to lay instead of sit. 

He put his mouth on her soft mound where it pushed against the cotten and breathed his hot breath onto her there. When he looked up, she was watching him wearing an expression he’d never seen before but having seen in, never wanted to do without it. 

“We say how this ends”, he said firmly.

“I might be starting to believe you”, she said, her hand touching his cheek.  

The Devil Finds Work for Idle Hands

Continued from Friday Night Lights

A month later and Kristin still hadn’t sorted out what to do with her Friday nights. What was that saying about the devil and idle hands? Everyone she knew was at the game where she could not show her face. Her Mom had gone into Pittsburgh for a work thing.  To think she would miss having her around! She was just hanging-moping actually. The football field was on a hill a mile out of town and when the air was right you could hear parts of the game from everywhere. And could see the bright glow from the  field on the horizon. And, critically, she was out of pot. Which she really needed right now.  Randy or Sheryll would both be holding but they were at the game. 

She had in mind a place to try.  Her ex-best friend Lynette Talbot usually had pot in their garage. They used to get high out there when they were friends. They had broken up over the summer. It was the usual: one boy, two girls thing; laid over that “other stuff” that Kristin didn’t want to think about right now. They’d each moved on to different crowds since then, and Kristin would have been happy to put whatever it was behind them-God knows she could use a friend or two now-but Lynette was beyond bitchy and seemed to enjoy keeping Kristin as an enemy. Being here in this garage made her a little sad and nostalgic for the times they had together. She had her new pack of tough girls though and was completely lost to her. . 

The two car garage was across the backyard from Lynette’s house. Kristin had been such a fixture at the Talbot house that she would have known her way around blindfolded. There were no trees or shrubs in the yard so the garage’s man-door faced the house in plain sight so that anyone in the kitchen would see her. Did her parents even know she and Lynette were on the outs? If she got caught skulking around could she just bluff her way through with a story about looking for Lynette? Maybe…but she was pretty sure everyone was at the game. The house was dark with the lone porch light glowing wanly. 

Still, she was as sneaky as she could be, playing it like a caper movie. She even flipped up the collar of her jean jacket. The garage was locked, of course. It was always locked but she knew where the key was hidden. She picked up the half brick beside the walkway and snatched the key from the dirt as she had often done. After wiping it on her jeans she slipped it into the knob and paused. She heard the pounding of the drums, then the marching band from the stadium. It must be halftime. She shook her head rapidly to avoid thinking about the routine that she wasn’t doing in front of a stadium full of people with all eyes on her. She would cry if she thought about it.

She went inside and closed the door gently behind her. The light switch was just to her right, but why chance it? There was enough street light filtering through the glass block windows to see by. On shelves above where the front of the car would be were oil cans behind which would typically be a small baggie with a couple of joints or some loose buds. That’s all she needed to get her through the night.  On tiptoes she felt around. There was something there…but… her heart almost stopped when she found the bag. It was not the small, fit in your fist baggie she had expected. When she pulled it from the shelf she needed both hands to cradle the gallon sized ziplock bag filled to bursting with what looked to be deep green buds. She was far from an expert but Kristin knew she was holding something special and probably valuable. This couldn’t be just Lynette’s.  Her first thought was to replace it and sneak out the way she came in. She was suddenly nervous and in over her head. 

Kristen was so focused and intent on what she was doing that she didn’t hear them until the overhead fluorescent flashed on. And by then most of them were inside.

“Kristin!” yelled Lynette, hand on the light switch and obviously startled  “What the fuck?”

Lynette’s pack this evening included Cassie Lawton, senior softball star who led the district in home runs for the last two years. Which meant little in the context of the garage that night, but what did matter was that she was as tall as Kristin and outweighed her by thirty pounds of muscle. Her arms were as thick as Kristin’s thighs.

“Get her, Cassie” growled Lynette. The big girl needed no direction, she had already circled to her left and grabbed Kristin by the arm in a  grip that virtually paralyzed the slim brunette. Kathy Lugar, another, but less fearsome,  softball player circled to the other side and grabbed Kristin by the other arm at the wrist, causing the bag to fall to the floor. It bounced softly, unharmed.

“Watch that for chissakes!” Lynette ordered. She was a tall, lanky girl with hair the color and seeming consistency of straw bunched in a rough ponytail. 

Kathy bent and picked it up, hefted it. “It’s OK.”

“Better be.”

“You’re ripping us off? Lynette asked loudly, surprised.

Kristin went from startled and nervous to frightened pretty quickly. She hadn’t been in a fight since grade school and she was poorly equipped to be in one now. The six girls who followed Lynette into the garage weren’t all softball players but they were all tough girls who ran in a completely different circle. This wouldn’t be a fight, it would be a slaughter. She recognized Glenda Thomas who actually worked in her dad’s gas station nights and weekends. Kristen didn’t think she was better than any of these girls, but she was different. At least she had been once. She had no idea who she was now.  Her stomach gurgled as she tried to imagine what it would feel like to get punched in the face. She needn’t have worried. Lynette stepped close, balled her fist and punched her hard in the stomach.

Kristin gasped a loud “OOF!” and would have bent double but for the girls holding her right and left. She squeezed her eyes tightly and tried to pick up her knees to relieve the pain in her middle. One of the girls holding her yanked her hair hard, lifting her face. Lynette punched her again and she gagged. When she regained her breath and opened her eyes she saw a familiar and maybe friendly face walk through the door.. It was Ben Bodine who everyone called Benji. A cutesy name for a pretty badass all-district wrestler. He wasn’t a towering beast like Frank Orsatti, their heavyweight, but one of the middle weights-around one hundred fifty tightly muscled pounds. 

She and Benji had shared freshman homeroom and a couple of classes. There was a time when she had helped him in Chem Lab and had gone to a couple of wrestling matches. He kept to himself and despite her gentle flirts had never taken the bait. He kept his hair super short and except for the bent nose, had soft features.  What was he doing with these animals? Their eyes caught and she saw something; disappointment, disgust, disdain, one of the dis’s. She wanted to look away but dared not, hoping to message a distress signal. Would he care? Was he one of them?

Lynette motioned as if to punch her again and Kristin sucked up her legs trying to shrink. “Please Lynette. No more.”

“No more? I’m just getting started.” Eyes flashing, Lynette stepped nose to nose with her captive and yanked her hair while staring into her eyes. .“You’ll wish I kept punching you”, she said menacingly before striding  off to a corner of the room where she rummaged through a pile of what looked like debris and wood scraps against the near wall. Finding what she was after, she straightened and turned, holding a stout little board about two feet long and as wide as the palm of her hand. The way she brandished it moving toward Kristen left no doubt about her intentions. 

“Turn her around”, she ordered. Kristin was alarmed at how easily the two girls handled her. 

“What are you doing?” she asked unnecessarily over her shoulder, her hair cascading over her eyes. 

“I’m going to beat your ass for ripping us off.”

“NO! Whatever I took I was going to replace once I hooked up.”

“You’re not going to replace this stuff”.Cassie growled in her ear..  Nobody has it. I had to go all the way to Morgantown for it..Too much time and money went into this to allow some baton princess to walk off with it. 

Oh God! thought Kristin. They’re all in on it. They’re going to kill me. “I wasn’t! I swear, I just wanted to get a little. I remember how Lynette kept a stash here. I just wanted to catch a little buzz. I didn’t know it belonged to all of you or I never would have…” She desperately pulled her arms and rolled her shoulders trying to loosen their grip, but it was useless. 

“Stealing from me is fine, huh? Just not from all of us”

Lynette pointed the paddle at her menacingly. “This is breaking and entering…”

“I didn’t break in. EVERYBODY knows where your key is Lynette. 

“Enough of your shit. Bend her over the workbench.”

Again, Kristin could offer only token resistance as, feet barely touching the floor, she was moved to the workbench. The edge dug into her hips as they pushed her over and flattened her onto it. She heard someone say “Get the phone out of her pocket. Her jeans were tight so whoever was digging around had to struggle to pull it out. Then Cassie said, “We should take her pants down.” 

Kristin panicked and tried to kick backward. Someone dropped to the floor and grabbed her legs. With Cassie draped across her back and Kathy holding her wrists she was effectively immobilized. She had a vision of being mauled by dogs as what seemed like fifty hands clawed at her. Someone reached around her waist and yanked at her belt, unbuckling it. There was absolutely nothing she could do to stop them from pulling her pants off. From stripping her naked if they wanted. 

“NO! PLEASE LYNETTE, DON’T DO THIS”. Her voice was ragged and breathless. 

“I’m over here sweetie”, said Lynette slipping into Kristin’s sightline and waving the paddle. “It’s not me…I’m just watching the show.”

She screamed in frustration. Her zipper was down and she felt her waist loosen. Her  jacket and T-shirt had been pushed up so her lower back was exposed. Feeling the air on her  flesh-even her back-heightened the panic as she struggled. Whoever was on the floor reached up and began tugging at the beltline on one side while someone else was pulling on the other side.She would be bare ass in seconds. 

“O PLEASE DON’T!….”, she was crying now, something she had hoped to avoid. 

“Stop!” The only male voice in the garage cut through the rabble and all hands pawing at Kristin’s clothes froze in place. Kristin opened her eyes but couldn’t lift her head as there was a strong forearm across it pinning it to the bench. 

“Stop what Benji?” Lynette fairly snarled.”I AM going to beat her ass. 

“Leave her jeans up”, he said evenly. He hadn’t liked Lynette punching her while she was being held. He thinks he might have stopped it if he was inside when it happened. Whatever, there wouldn’t have been a third punch. 

Nobody spoke for a moment and Kristin could feel the tension in the room and hear feet shuffling.

Lynette said, “Tell me you don’t want to see this little thief’s bare ass.”

“Why don’t you describe it for us? I’m sure you have fond memories.” 

There were a smattering of “ooohs” and a giggle or two. Kathy Lugar scoffed. 

“You forget who’s holding the paddle.” Lynette said, trying to maintain control. 

“That can change in a fucking instant.” Again, his voice was devoid of emotion which chilled the garage further. Kristin held her breath.

“I don’t know what your game is Benji. You think she’s going to thank you for this?. Give you a friendly blow job or a little fuckey-fuck” She jabbed the paddle roughly up between Kristin’s legs. “This princess is too stuck up for you. And us. We’re ok to steal from….” 

“Her jeans stay up,” he said in a tone that ended the conversation. 

“Alright. Fine! I’ll just hit her harder. Pull her jeans up tight”. Kathy and Cassie pulled her jeans up higher than they’d been and held them there, the seam splitting her uncomfortably. Someone patted her cheek firmly “There you go,” Her jeans clung  to her butt like denim paint. 

Kristin didn’t have time to be relieved about not being stripped. .She was too conscious of her bottom being set up like a target. After an anxious moment,  the first swat landed with a ferocity that blew all breath out of her open mouth. She was too stunned to make a sound. The next was equally solid. She yelped a loud “OWWW” following the third. She had in the back of her mind thought that her mother’s hairbrush might have prepared her for this, but she was sorely mistaken. That had been a spanking from someone who loved her.. Sound, but still a spanking. This was a beating by someone who only wanted to hurt her, and struggle as she might, she couldn’t avoid or stop it. Cassie felt her rocking back and forth, struggling to lift herself off the bench. “Don’t fight”, she whispered into her ear. “Don’t tense-don’t clench your ass it will be worse.”

Kristin heard the words from far away. She howled pitifully. She tasted blood and knew she had bitten her lip but really couldn’t feel it. She could barely breathe and feared she might pass out. The pain had settled to an overall numbing burn, accented by the relentless impact of the board, swat after swat. She tried to gag hoping to puke which she saw as her only defense right now. Maybe if she could pee herself, they’d stop but she had no conscious control of anything. 

Then suddenly, it stopped amid a shuffle of feet and a loud “Hey” from Lynette. What Kristin couldn’t  see was Benji stepping up and grabbing the paddle on the backswing. “Enough”, he said, wrenching it from her hand. “Owww”, she whined, grabbing her wrist.

“Enough. You made your point.” Reacting to the change in the room, Cassie, careful not to push on her, rose, giving Kristin the first full breath she’d had since she was pinned. Kathy Lugar released her wrists then strangely patted her head and slipped a lock of hair, damp with tears and sweat off Kristin’s face and behind her ear. “Sorry”, she said, a tiny puff in her ear. “That was efff’d up,”

She Lay where she was, crying softly as the drama played out behind her out of sight. 

Lynette was clearly enraged but not unhinged enough to make the mistake of getting up in Benji’s face. His glare put her back on her heels. His eyes never left hers as he reached out with his empty left hand and said, “Gimme”.

Shayla Brooks, a solid little girl in a leather jacket and biker boots handed him the pillow sized bag of dope. His eyes slowly surveyed the room, 

“We’re all  friends here, ” he said in a flat tone that indicated the opposite might be true. It was lost on no one that he was still holding the paddle and pointing it generally at everyone as he spoke, lingering on the softball players who had held Kristen down. Cassie, never one to back down, shrunk a little as her cohort Kathy shuffled a half step behind her. 

“We’re supposed to split that up!” Lynette complained, trying to keep the shrillness out of her voice. Benji looked at her as if trying to place a stranger who might have looked familiar. “I recall”, he said slowly. “Thank you. This pot belongs to all of us, but it was my cash that fronted it. I might be starting to doubt somebody’s judgment…or temperament to manage this deal.”

He pointed the board directly at Cassie and Kathy. “You remember what we talked about, yes?”

“I do”, said Cassie. 

“You’ll take care of it, right?”

“Yep.”

He tossed his head, indicating Lynette. Go with her, she has my scale. Do what we discussed.”

“You got it, Benji”, the big girl nodded. 

He was about to toss her the baggie but pulled back. “I’ma take a little off the top..if nobody minds.” he opened the baggie and stuck his nose in. “Ahhh, this is the shit.” He sighed, performing a little. “ I need a bag.”

Marie Quintana  petite, brown and beautiful green lipstick matching her eyes,stepped from the shadows and pulled a baggie holding a single joint, out of her back pocket. She tucked behind her ear where it disappeared behind a fall of tight black curls. She handed Benji the baggie. He smiled his sweetest thank you and reached into the big bag, pulled a small healthy pinch out, stuck it into the smaller bag.

“You realize you’re already getting your cut”, Lynette said, not being able to help herself. 

“Yep. This isn’t for me” Slipping the paddle, which all the girls at least glanced at, under his arm, he wrapped the bag tight, licked the top and folded it over. He closed the big pot pillow and tossed it to Cassie. “See you at my house sometime tomorrow.” She nodded. 

Lynette, frustrated and steaming, left first banging through the door followed by her doubting minions heads down except to nod at Benji. The softballers left last with a nod then a look toward Kristen who was standing uncomfortably in front of the workbench her back still to them. “Kris”, said Cassie, which some people called Kristin. The beaten girl raised a hand in acknowledgement of the gesture and the last two girls left. 

“All gone”, said Benji and she turned stiffly, taking tiny shuffling steps. Her face was a mottled ruin of tears, snot and blood below her lips. Benji handed her a bandana from his back pocket. “It’s clean”, he said. She wiped, dabbed and blew and went to hand it back.

“Keep it”, he said. 

“Thank you…I guess.” she said. 

“No worries.”

“No, really. If they would have gotten my pants off….” She shuddered. 

“Yah, that was a tough one. 

“Why?”

“Lynette was right. I REALLY wanted to see your bare ass.”

Kristin pulled a face that was equal parts grimace and grin. “You missed your chance. I’m sure you don’t want to see it now.”

“Now I have to see it. See what kind of damage she did back there.”

“There’s something for sure…burning and squishy” When she tied to straighten to her right, she winced and caught herself back on the workbench.

“Why did you let them do that to me?” she asked on the verge of crying again. 

“Took me a few minutes to get the lay of the land. My thought, ok? Walking in on this? Was some kind of lover’s spat.”

“We’re not…! she protested.

“….I know you guys are a thing-at least you WERE-I’m not up on the latest jib-jab. But you broke in. You were taking her shit.  You deserved something, you know? Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time…So she wanted to swat your ass, fine. But she was taking it way too far. But it only happened because you came here to steal from her. 

“I wasn’t…Then she caught herself and started sobbing raggedly. “My life is so fucked up right now Benji. I don’t know what I’m going to do. 

As smoothly as he would have on the mat,  he took a quick  slide step and was immediately in front of her. He underhooked her arms and gave her a firm hug-across the back and shoulder blades-all warmy friendly and not lusty pervy. “Your life is what you want it to be. Past is not prologue. You will write your own story starting tomorrow.” he said into her ear.

She sniffed. “I got snot on your shoulder.”

“Had worse.”

“Are all wrestlers philosophers?”

“Hell’s  yeah-we try to keep it a secret though”. When she looked into his face, beside the naughty glint in his eye she saw real concern. And that was the look she responded to.  

“Now”, he said stepping out of the hug, “lets have a look at your butt.” 

To Be Continued…

Jennie’s Over the Knee

Continued from Jennie’s Behind the Bar

It wasn’t long before Jennie found her way to me. She had been scrolling through her phone at the other end of the bar. She got close enough to smell the smoke. 

“You’re supposed to have a cigarette after…” she said slyly.

“I did…”

“That was just kissing…”, she said. “I mean the BIG after.”

Unaccustomed as I was to this sort of banter, I had enough game to reach into my top pocket and pull out the second purloined cigarette. “Covered” I said. 

At that her look, while still smiling and open, seemed to slip from simple flirting to something more intentional.

“Here let me show you something” She thumbed through her phone and found what she was looking for. “You should print this as a poster”, she said, shoving the phone close to my face. It was a photo of four young women facing a wall, pants down and bright red bottoms very much on display. The title lines read “Spankings will continue until morale improves.”

Now it was my turn to smile and lean into her game. Keeping my voice low, since she had folks at the other end of the bar, “You’re not going to call that little love tap back there a spanking are you?” I scoffed.

“No” she said.” I’m just showing you what real spankings look like.”

“I’m well aware”, I leaned back and gave her a squinty “older guy knowledge” look. 

“Oh yeah? Your place or mine?” She asked, tossing the line so easily it could have been a joke. She slipped the phone into her back pocket from where it winked at me as she purposely wiggled her backside as she walked to refill her friends.

It wasn’t a joke but a good and seemingly simple question. My big empty house was not too far away. I  had kept it when Timmie’s mother ran off  because she had taken the advice my old man had given and I’d ignored: ”It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich one as a poor one.” She had been a secretary for a builder that had done quite well on a few subdivisions upstream. Through him she met an architect who had done better than “quite well” and now she lived in a big new stone home with a pool quite a few zip codes from mine.

True, my place had that special rumpled quality that will happen when a guy lives alone for a couple of years. Even Timmie gave up trying to make sense of all of my habitual nonsense on her monthly visits. But for the general dishevelment, my place made the most sense, and I was going to tell Jennie that when her orbital trajectory next brought her around, but she beat me to it.

“Let’s do my place”, she whispered conspiratorially. 

“You live over in The Run, right?”

“Above Champion Plumbing.” 

I knew the place. Big shop with apartments above. Probably for the best. The last time Jennie was in my house was for a team pizza party when she was fourteen and those memories mashing up against this reality might have been more than I could bear. Might have. 

“Mike Champion is like my mother’s second cousin. So I got the place on a deal. I’m the only one there and nobody works at night, so it’s quiet.” The wink wasn’t necessary. I got the point.

“Besides, I have something I want you to try.”

My curiosity,  on top of everything else, was piqued. Things seemed to take on a life of their own after that. A slow night got slower as Jennie chased off her crew with a few free drinks and we were able to close early. “I’m going to head over now, if that’s OK. I’ll leave the porch light on-door will be unlocked.”

Trying not to rush, it took me about fifteen minutes to close up. Her beat up little Subaru was parked beside the Champion Building where a set of wooden steps ascended to a small platform porch with a railing and enough room for two folding resin chairs. A faded awning was the roof. 

I turned the knob and stepped into a small, clean kitchen. On the counter, beside the sink was an unopened bottle of Blanton’s. For my money, the top of the bourbon line and definitely above Jennie’s pay grade. I was holding the bottle when she came out of the bedroom. She had changed from her jeans into what was normally her bartending uniform: black mid calf Yoga pants and a green “Oaks” T-shirt. She had brushed her hair out so it framed the smile that made my heart flip.She turned, modeling, “Since you’re always checking out my ass in these, I thought you might like if I wore them.”

I did indeed and told her so. “Is this what you wanted me to try?”

“Mmmmm”, one of the things. 

“Had to set you back.”

“I never thanked you properly for getting me in at The Oaks.”

I didn’t tell her that I should be thanking her. She had brought some new life to the place; business was up a bit not, a lot but some. Regulars responded to her smile and enthusiasm. Nothing against Jolene, but “chill” was her thing. She was very good but could be off putting over time.  And I’ll be damned if Diana didn’t start coming around more in the evenings. Sure, some of that was checking out the new bartender’s performance. But some of it was checking out the new bartender. 

I snapped the seal on the bottle and opened the cabinet above the sink. There were four short, square highball glasses, compliments of The Oaks. I gave Jennie the raised eyebrow and in return she winked and bit the tip of her tongue at me again. 

“Do you want one?” I asked.

“No, I’ll try yours.”

One ice cube, two fingers of bourbon and a couple of swirls to unlock the flavors. I nodded her over and tossed a “C’mere” her way. She slid in beside me and I raised the glass to her. 

“Not like that”, she said. “Take a drink.”

I did and she pulled my mouth down to hers and made sure to lick every droplet of the liquor off my lips as well as anything left in my mouth. “Yummy.” She said, “Bourbon’s good too.”

“You said you had something else for me to try.”

She smiled and put her finger to my lips and backed away, then turned and walked into the living room. Again, neat and relatively spartan, sofa, wall mounted flat screen, armless chair that drew my attention. As I was surveying, she went to the corner and retrieved something. She handed it to me handle first as if relinquishing a sword.. “Isn’t it a beauty?” It was a highly polished sorority paddle with Greek letters decorating one side. The other side bore the signatures of dozens of girls and dates. It was from the 1960’s. “I picked it up at an antique shop over in Larimer a couple of weeks ago. “It was in the window! I saw it and my heart started flipping and my face went all hot. Had to have it.”

“I must have been in a state because the woman in the shop asked me if I wanted to try it out. I almost had a heart attack! I didn’t know if I would try it out on her or she on me.”

“Why didn’t you ask?”

“I could barely talk as it was. All this…stuff that’s been in my head for years. I thought it was just me! Turns out they’re fetishes and a lotta people have them. Seeing there was someone else…” I remembered what I’d found in Diana’s office but said nothing. 

“You should take it back and tell her it doesn’t work.”

“Get her to demonstrate!”

“You’re liable to get a sore bum out of the deal.”

“That would be the hope.” With that, she turned round and bent, hands on knees and for the second time that evening offered her bottom for a smack. I hefted the paddle and pressed it into the stretched lycra covering her bottom enjoying the give.  Then pulled it back and flicked her backside with a wrist slap. She wriggled and said. “Thank you sir, may I please have another?”

“Yes you may. But not right now…” Taking her arm I stood her up and walked her over to the chair, where I took a seat. The paddle was a little impersonal for me. I wanted my hands on her. 

“Let’s start with a little spanking between friends.” Her face was flushed and she was alternating breaths between nose and mouth. I spread my knees and drew her in, grasping the top of her pants. Her eyes closed as I slipped the back of my hand against the velvety softness of her belly. I pulled further down in front unil I could feel the hair against my fingertips, then further to the dewey confluence of her legs. 

“We had better get these down”, I said, moving both hands to her sides and peeling.

“…Yes…” she said huskily as if awakening from a dream. Without panties the soft garment clung between her legs but for a moment before rolling to her feet where she stepped out of them. .

I would have thought after ogling her as thoroughly as I had over the weeks that she would have had few secrets. I would have been wrong. As she slowly offered herself over my lap she revealed a flawlessly rounded, deeply cleft bottom, in a  perfect shade of cream accented only by the light peach  blush the paddle had left.. I settled my right hand over her right cheek eliciting a charming little gasp and wriggle. “You’re ready for this…” I said.

“Mmmmm”, came her answer. “So ready.”

I slapped her lightly a few times, alternating cheeks. If she suffered at all it was in silence, her slow undulations as she lay over my lap the only reaction to what was happening. I was quite literally, feeling my way, switching from full on smacks to slaps with my fingers but never extending my arm, only turning my wrist which was turning Jennie’s bottom a beautiful mottled pink. I had settled into a rhythm that was working for me, but maybe not for her. She tried to speak but her voice caught. Clearing her throat, she said, “Harder, please.”

“Harder?”

She looked back over her shoulder, clear eyed with cheeks almost as pink as her bottom ones. With a devilish smile she said “Spank me like I was bad.” 

I had been afraid of hurting her. Now I was afraid I was boring her. 

“Alright young lady,” I growled and pulled her tightly into me, left arm circling her waist. I raised my right hand straight up and brought it down hard but not full force on the middle of her right cheek. I could feel the difference immediately. My palm tingled and the blow echoed not only through the room, but up to my shoulder. “Yessss…” was Jennie’s hissed response. So I continued, alternating sides, then settled for awhile on the soft thickness at the bottom of her bottom. She became more and more animated and gifted me with “Ouches” and mewls. We both enjoyed, she more than I, the swats that landed exactly between both cheeks and rang down her valley creating an avalanche of deep feeling that brought yelps. 

I took a pause to slip my hand tentatively between her legs. Where she had been damp was now in flood. 

“Good God, girl!”

 “I know, right?” she fairly giggled and spread her legs in a way I  couldn’t have imagined a few short days ago.. When she again settled, her outside foot was on the floor, bracing herself to push upward, raising her now deeply colored bum and her dripping sex upward. 

“May I have some more sir?” she giggled. 

A few more smacks to her tensed right cheek brought her foot back up off the floor and a resumption of her slithering movement distracted from my mission. 

After a swat I left my hand where it was for a moment and squeezed lightly. She froze attentively, then began to move in a most lewd way as my hand slipped from her solid right cheek, down to the top of her thigh, then between her legs. It wasn’t as if I was traveling uncharted territory down there, but it had been awhile since I’d walked this particular path. “Ahhhh”, she sighed loudly as my fingers finally found that spot within her.

I could have held my hand steady and let her do all the work but there is nothing like pleasing someone you wanted to please. So I caught her rhythm and rubbed until she cried out and shuddered, arching her back. She relaxed in phases, settling and twitching, then deflating completely hanging across my legs like laundry. All the while I was gently stroking her warm cheeks. 

When she finally, with my help,  pulled herself up she sat on my lap and wrapped her arms around my neck. “I can’t believe you made me cum..”

“That was the point, no?”

“Hadn’t thought about it. Just wanted my ass beat. Anything else was in the hands of the universe…and you,” She grinned as I gazed down to where she was glistening-her bush looking frosted in the lamplight. 

“Round two”, she announced and stood. As she moved into her bedroom I did what I’d been doing for weeks; watched her bum walk away but never like this. I saw a soft light switch on and heard a rustling of bedclothes. 

“You coming?” she called

I stood, having to arrange myself to walk comfortably. We’d have to do something about that.

“Don’t forget the paddle”, she said.  I would have.  

Sylvie

I learned Sylvie had died from her niece Naomi who felt obligated to make the call though we’d been estranged for years. She knew the old woman had loved me and thought I should know though she didn’t call until Sylvie was in the ground.

It was the latest volley in an imaginary battle for a woman’s limitless affections. Sylvie had enough for everyone, something truly limited people could not fathom. She had hired me back in the day-when the neighborhood turned and she wanted someone more substantial than her niece behind the bar. A sin I didn’t commit but was never forgiven.

I graduated from the bar to the kitchen, where Sylie taught me everything I needed to know, which was nowhere near everything she knew. Her chicken cacciatore became my specialty and her sauce was indistinguishable from mine. Naomi stayed jealous though she had no real interest in cooking. 

She stayed as a waitress and in the beginning our battles were waged sotto voce in hisses and snarls and stares. Then grabs and pushes, unseen slaps, until our area of operations moved out of sight into the storage room after hours where an old couch had been reclaimed for late night crashing. Actual  fighting would have been less damning and damaging. That came later, after Naomi had heard that I was selling coke across the bar and threatened to tell her aunt. It was an old story and a one-time mistake borne of poverty and the need of a quick score, but my embarrassment at being found out and fear of the loss of Sylvie’s trust brought a collapsing wave of desperation that sucked all reason out of my head. . 

Later I would remember hitting her. It would come to me in flashes like one of those old timey crank kinetoscope viewers they had in arcades back then. First she is standing there with her arms straight down at her sides, fists clenched, defiant and perhaps a little afraid. Then my right fist lashes out and connects with her jaw. At the last moment, realizing what was happening, I pulled the punch hitting her just hard enough to drop her solidly on her bottom. She sat on the floor blinking and wagging her head from side to side like a confused puppy. 

Almost as stunned as Naomi, I quickly extended my now open right hand. She took it and rose unsteadily to her feet. A cursory glance showed no blood nor outward evidence of damage. Pulling the punch had saved us both. Assuming, of course, that our regular angry coupling was off for the evening I tried to fashion some words of apology and mortification. Before I could open my mouth she said, “I’m sorry”, her eyes dulled and full. 

She withdrew her threat to expose me to Sylvie-such a breach of confidence, that a punch to the jaw was not just warranted but desired. The tears overfilled and ran down her cheeks in two glistening streams, one of which I thumbed, leaving the other to drip off her chin before she wiped at it with the back of her hand. 

I was moving toward the door when she said, “You can’t just leave.” I didn’t know what was left to do until she turned and lowered her jeans and rolled her panties after them. She bent over a stack of  beer cases. “I don’t want the last touch from you today to be a punch.” It was the only sex in our roughly six month tryst that could be even remotely described as tender. Or as tender as banging one out in a storeroom over a stack of beer cases can be.  

The next day she showed up wearing more makeup than usual to cover the bruise that had bloomed on her jaw overnight. She leaned in. “Never hit me again where others can see”, she said firmly, writing the script for our time together. 

When Sylvie stepped away in her eighties, she rightly sold the place to Naomi, who seemed well suited to be an owner; maybe only because she was no more than marginal at most other things. I stayed on, cooking, refining the dishes, tweaking  the menu, tending bar, doing the necessary things to keep Sylvie’s Bar and Lounge moving forward. Our affair, such as it was, cooled, then over a short time, disappeared. Burned out, more likely. 

Not too long after I stepped into the kitchen on a Thursday morning ready to make my orders for the weekend and prep for the lunch trade. The lights were on and coffee was brewing. A woman was standing, her back to the door. She was slender and rangy wearing snug black jeans and a white T-shirt. Her red hair was thick and short, brushed straight back and as she turned revealed a full sleeve tattoo on her left arm. She extended her right hand and went to introduce herself. 

“I know who you are”, I said, taking her hand firmly. Monica Perez was a chef at Tim’s Hideout, a steak joint out on the highway. She was until very recently it seemed. I looked around the kitchen where I’d spent so much time and it suddenly looked foreign to me. That’s how I knew I’d been replaced. I had splurged on my own set of knives which I gathered and wrapped in their canvas. 

“Chef…” She began. 

“Tony”, I answered. “You’re a chef. I’m a cook.”

“I’ve eaten here.” She said, trying. 

“The food?” I asked, having none of it. She winced slightly leaving me surprised and embarrassed, And surprised that i was embarrassed. 

“I’m sorry. My bad. Getting fucked before coffee makes me grumpy.” I said, heading for the door. 

“Wait” She said. “You know Katie’s Corner uptown? “They need a che…”she stopped herself. “A cook of your experience. Talk to Kate. Katie Sole. If you’re going I’ll call her.”

To be continued…

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. 

Bus Stop Part 2

© HotBottoms

Continued from Bus Stop

A short hour later, Mary awoke from her post coital nap and blinked at the sun streaming through the blinds. She stretched and grinned sleepily as she rolled over onto the dildo which, having served her well, slept soundly beside her hip. She sat on the side of the bed for a moment before rising, then turned and stripped her sheets off the bed and made a pile on top of the mattress. Then, still feeling slightly buzzy from her session with the vibrator, opted not to dress or cover herself, she took the bundle down the hall, deposited it in the laundry room, then headed for the shower. 

She’d been experimenting with cold showers, but this morning after a mile run and two orgasms, she defaulted to hot and steamy. Since the haircut she washed her hair more often and this morning lay a heavy glop of shampoo and rubbed hard into her scalp as the water drummed onto her breasts. She lathered the washcloth and worked her underarms, then her legs and before she realized completely what she was doing, raised her arms to shave. It was odd-she was going to shave her legs as well. Did they need it? She was reverting back to her single days of leaving nothing to chance before heading out for the evening because you never knew, right? But she wasn’t heading out for a night on the town; she knew nothing but wine and sexy chit-chat-for her anyway, was on the docket but she was doing what she was doing. A righteous session of self-love always upset her equilibrium.  She detached the shower head and directed the stream to her smooth legs then, eyes closed, up between them. She wanted to, of course, but didn’t, opting for a complete southerly rinse then turned off the stream. 

Back in the bedroom she flipped through her closet and dresser. Her daily uniform was pretty routine: workout clothes of some description. Today It would be black sweats more loose fitting than yoga pants which she typically wore without underwear. Her first decision had been the new lilac hipster panties-the least sexy ones she owned. Tight black T-shirt instead of a bra and a silky V neck that covered her butt. It was just past noon. She slipped on sandals, grabbed the wine from the small fridge below the counter and headed for the garage for the half mile drive to Jules’.

Her friend came to the door in her usual worn jeans, sneakers and a faded coral long sleeved crewneck-. She looked better than she had at the bus stop, clear-eyed and pink-cheeked. Mary was pleased that she wasn’t the only one to have put some care into her appearance.  A thin headband that kept her hair behind her hair and off her face completed the picture of suburban chill

They exchanged a quick peck on the cheek as Jules took the wine. “Come on”, she said, nodding to the table in the sunroom. “Food just got here-I’ll open this.” They ate leisurely and too patiently for Mary who wanted to steer the conversation away from how nice the mums were this year and who had the best corn stalks. The wine was sharp and tangy, complementing the slight buzz in Mary’s head after the first glass. 

Lunch finished, they retired to the living room, Mary to the sofa and Jules across a coffee table, curled in a large leather recliner-obviously John’s preferred seat. 

“So”, said Mary, opening her hands. “Spanking.”

“What about it?” Jules asked coyly.

Oh, this is the way its going to be, thought Mary. Gonna have to pull teeth. Before she could restate the question, there was a rumble of the garage door below them. that startled Mary-she looked toward the kitchen and  the stairs from the garage.  Jules had  not reacted, as if she hadn’t heard anything. She maintained eye contact and her teasing smile. Then there were  clearly footsteps on the basement stairs. 

“Someone’s here?” Mary leaned forward as if to flee, when she saw the door open and Jule’s husband nonchalantly step out of the stairway. She collapsed back into the cushion, then deeper as if a weight had been placed on her lap. “John”, she breathed, the tight smile on her lips not reflecting the confusion of emotions in her eyes.  She took comfort in Jules’ warm and relaxed smile. John strode into the room and kissed his wife on the cheek, then moved over and stepped  behind the couch. Mary stiffened slightly when he lay a hand on each of her shoulders. Okay, they’d established this morning that John liked her, but he’d never been handsy with her.

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary”, he recited leaning down, “how does your garden grow today?” the last words popped breathily into her ear.

“F-fine, John.” she stuttered and looked wide-eyed at her friend who sat peacefully, smiling beatifically. “Just fine.”

“Sorry for the surprise, sweetie, but we really can’t talk spanking without John. This is our thing, but he’s the boss. In the beginning, all I did was supply a sometimes willing bottom.” Mary started to feel that familiar fluttering in her stomach just hearing about a “willing bottom.”

“Babe?” said John, moving toward her and Jules popped up out of the chair and moved over to the couch.. Jules did not sit at the other end of the couch which might be expected but beside her friend, close enough to take her hand. 

Once they had all settled, John asked, “What do you want to know?”

Mary hesitated, then asked meekly “ How’d it all start?”

“The first time?” John mused, settling into his chair. He and Jules shared a look and she nodded a go ahead. 

“We had been married six months…

“Too long for me to easily get out of it,” Jules teased.

‘Shush! It was this time of year-late September’

“Early  October actually.

John gave his wife a look that Mary couldn’t place-not exactly threatening but enough for Jules to pantomime locking her closed lips and tossing the key over her shoulder. 

We had gone down to The Highlands to see the leaves.”

It’s so beautiful down there”, Mary piped up.

“Yes, and it was a beautiful weekend, were were at the Lodge on old route 40. It was their last weekend of the season, place was pretty much deserted.

“The first day was bright and clear, colors were fantastic,. We hiked a little,…gathered acorns, buckeyes, walnuts everywhere…

“You had a bottle of brandy..”, said Jules. 

“We had packed a lunch…

“We laid a blanket out in a field of dead wildflowers…It was a perfect day.

“Then it rained. 

“Not till that night. We had the whole day. Then over night we heard a couple of rumbles of thunder and the wind kicked up, by morning it was gray and rainy-the leaves were plastered in puddles and against the windows. Good morning for snuggling.

“I love rainy mornings”, said Mary.

“Except this one”, John nodded toward Jules, “wanted to play tennis. All she did was look out the window at the rain falling on the courts and whine.”

“I wasn’t whining!”

He shook his head, “Whining…”

When he called me over, he was sitting on the end of the bed-I was in my undies-so what did I think? A little rainy morning nooky. I figured, OK, can’t play, might as well..”

When he pulled me down over his lap, really ddn’t know what was going on.  I just went with it.

You should have that printed on a T-shirt, “I just went with it.”

“Like I said, I didn’t get it right away. There I am, bottom up, looking at the floor then he pulls down my panties and the first slap gets me. 

“Did you yell?”

“No, I didn’t know what I should be doing so I didn’t make a sound. Took it…”

“Hurt, I bet..”

See Honey,” John spoke up, “In all my years in any learning or training situation, you’re told “don’t tell-Show. That’s how people learn, by being shown…not by telling…” Mary squeezed Jules’ hand lightly to keep her own from quivering. This is what she had hoped for, to see her friend spanked over her husband’s knees. Whatever she was feeling in her stomach, surged lower. 

“Sorry sweetie”, Mary said, patting her friend’s leg.

“For what?”

“ I didn’t mean to get you spanked…”

“Oh Honey, I’M not getting spanked…”

Mary’s eyes were saucers as her mouth fell open. If watching Jules being spanked was her hope, herself being spanked was her dream. She had assumed it could happen…eventually. It would be a long term dream-that maybe after weeks of talk and daring back and forth, something might happen. But no. It was here and now and she was conscious of her blushing with all four eyes on her.She opened her mouth to speak but could only croak, 

“What?” John and Jules laughed, enjoying her discomfort.

“Johnny, I think this is a bit much for Mary. She just wants to talk about spanking…”

Well that’s boring”, said John leaning toward his flustered quarry. More than flustered, Mary was almost paralyzed now that something she’d fantasized about most of her adult life was here to be had. If she wanted it.

“It’s up to you,” he said, If you wanna talk, we’ll talk. But if there’s anything else you want to do, that’s on you.”

“Why me?” she asked, finding her voice. 

“I can’t do any of this myself.” John went on “Here’s what you have to know about spanking. It’s a two person job. A cooperative effort. No adult can spank another without their agreeing to it. Explicitly or implicitly. The act of submission, giving yourself up to receive a spanking is the most important-and intimate part of the thing.”

John just thought he was giving information. What Mary heard were instructions on what was expected of her. 

“I want it”, Mary squeaked, then turning to Jules, “I’m just nervous.”

“I know, Sweetie.” Jules said and squeezed her hand again. “We’re all friends here.” She put her hand on Mary’s back and lightly pushed. “Go, go to John.”

Mary stopped thinking and stood on weak knees.. John’s chair was wide and deep but the arms were short and plush. If he sat forward, which he did once Mary rose, his wide lap was accessible. She crossed in front of Jules, still sitting on the couch and was surprised to feel her friend pat her butt as it passed. She liked the feel of it. She looked back and answered Jules’ smile with a pouty grin that was the best she could offer through the whirls of emotions that were coursing through her. How could something that she wanted so badly confuse her so? 

When she reached the chair, John put his hand on her hip and positioned her in front of him, then pulled at the hem of her jersey. “Take this off”, he said. “It’s going to be much too warm for this.” She crossed her arms and grabbed the jersey at the bottom and carelessly pulled it up over her head realizing too late that her T-shirt had rolled up in it. John watched her flat belly appear then her ribs then her small breasts rising and falling with every breath.

“Oh my God”, Mary gasped and made a move to pull her jersey back over her head. He stopped her with his hand on her upper arm. “That’s fine”, he said gently. “It’s good like this.”

From the couch, all Jules  could see was Mary’s back but her heart flipped, knowing what John was seeing.  What they were doing here clarified in the clear view of Mary’s s naked back. She had never felt jealous or feared the influence of other women on her husband. She had always thought that her submission to him and ‘their thing’ bought them an extra level of intimacy, a sort of force field, that would keep others out. But now she, herself, had opened the gates.

What was she thinking? Mary was a few years younger, not many, but younger. And that mattered to men, didn’t it? With no kids or husband she had more time and energy for the gym and tennis. Jules had seen enough of her body to know how she was put together. 

She heard John talking but was too distracted to follow. ‘Sit here’, he was saying, pulling her between his legs and turning her. Like a child she obediently sat on his knee. Jules watched his hand  press on her chest between her breasts as if watching a movie. “Your heart is beating like a bird’, he said. 

“I’m so nervous.”

“Why?” he smiled warmly as he pressed his hand firmly against her breastplate.  ‘Jules put this together for you.’ 

“I don’t know. Maybe I’m not ready.”

“That’s up to you, but if we waited until we thought we were ready we’d be waiting the rest of our lives.’

Jules’ ears perked up at that old chestnut. She remembered the first time she heard it and wondered now how many women might have been cajoled by it. Stop it! She chided herself, don’t put this on him, this is your own doing!” She thought she had been doing a good thing for a friend and for her husband but now, viewing the action before her, she wondered how much of it was for herself. Knowing what was coming excited her in a way she hadn’t expected. 

Mary was calming, his warm hand on her heart serving as a weighted blanket to slow the tumbled jumbles rolling through her. Watching his lips, Mary’s breathing settled into his slow relaxed rhythm. His hand slipped up to her neck where his fingers caressed her pulse there. 

“There, there,” he said lightly, “That’s much better.”

“I feel better.”

“Ready then?”

She nodded once.

“Words, please”, he said

“I’m ready”

“Ready for what , Dear?” he coached.

She looked into his eyes for the first time. 

“Ready for my spanking.”

“Ahh, very good. Stand please.”

Back on the couch Mary was giving into her wanton thoughts as she watched her husband’s hands slide gently from Mary’s waist, up to her ribs and back down again as his eyes, unseen from where she was sitting, drank in Mary’s breasts and flat stomach. She realized that she envied him his view, and Mary, her closeness to him just then and how close she would feel when she offered her bottom. The only evidence of Jules’ surrender to lasciviousness was the rising heat in her face. It was warm in here! She settled back into the cushion.

Mary wriggled slightly as the waistband of her pants loosened and she knew John was untying the drawstring on the front. As was his torturous wont, he did it slowly and deliberately. Then Jules watched her husband’s fingers on both sides as he slipped his thumbs into the waistband and pulled her sweats slowly down. He did it gently, saving the panties for a different unveiling. 

The purple panties snugly held the woman’s firm round bottom. His hands ran over them and down the backs of her thighs which, Mary knew from many hours on the tennis court were clean and tight with nary a dimple, deposit or wrinkle.

She watched John shift her to the side and guide her over his lap. For balance, she reached first for his knee, then for the coffee table.. Small enough that she didn’t reach the floor on both ends Mary felt extremely exposed and she balanced bottom up, head down, her hands finally flat on the floor, almost upside down. She allowed herself to be handled and pulled so that her hips broke over his legs pushing her bottom subtly backward. 

“Comfy?” he asked, his strong left hand splayed on the small of her back while his right, between her legs, pulled them slightly open. “Oh, my. Jules, come look at this,” he said gazing down at the wide wet spot darkening the crotch of Mary’s lilac panties.

“You ARE ready, aren’t you.”

I’m sorry”, she squeaked.

“ Don’t apologize. And, don’t be embarrassed. You feel the way you feel. The body reveals all, in time. Doesn’t it honey?”

“Yes sir”, said Jules weakly looking down at her friend’s upturned bottom. She felt a little queasy with her own desires, wanting to reach and peel the panties down herself.

“We better get on with this,” said John, raising his hand and bringing down what Jules thought to be a rather light swat on Mary’s right cheek.

“Ouch”, she peeped. 

Not much of an ‘ouch’ said John. 

“Not much of a smack”, Jules said. . 

John, hand still on the bottom where it had landed, said “Jules thinks I should spank you harder”. He squeezed lightly. “What do you think?”

Mary lifted her head slightly to look back over her shoulder. “Whatever you guys think is fine with me.”

Jules thought that Mary could have no idea what she was thinking. 

“Alrighty then’, said John raising his hand. Jules was sitting back on the couch when the second swat landed, then the third and the fourth right after. He was alternating cheeks with more force than before but much less than he was capable of. 

Mary finally began to answer the swats with grunts, small “mmm-mmm’s” and John raised the intensity slightly until he got a nice yelp. He stopped then and rubbed her bottom. Is that warming up a little?”

“Yes, she said breathlessly. “It’s fine…”

“Fine, huh? Maybe it’s best we move along”. And with no further warning of preamble he snatched the top of Mary’s panties and pulled them off her bottom, slowing when they stuck in her moist folds.  He slipped his hand between her legs to free them, allowing his fingers to gently caress her sopping crotch. Jules clenched her fists but didn’t move or say a word, even when her husband’s finger elicited a louder cry than any of his smacks had. 

His first two swats on her bare bottom were hollow sounding thuds as he aimed at the void where Mary’s cheeks met her legs at the bottom of her bottom. Jules clapped her legs together knowing the vibrations that such attentions sent down between the legs. Then there were more loud cracks as he spanked thoroughly, spreading the pink evenly from side to side, top to bottom. Jules was so deeply curating her own fantasies and desires that she didn’t immediately hear Mary’s moans that had very little to do with pain or discomfort. 

“I think that should about do it”, John said cupping her glowing bottom with his big warm hand.He helped her up with his left hand and patted her bum with his right as he guided her toward the stairs. “Go upstairs. Wait for us in our room.”

Jules moved toward her husband as she watched her friend’s red bottom move quickly up the stairs.

“Our room?” she asked.

“That’s where the hairbrush is.”

“You’re giving her the brush?

“Not her. That would be rather severe on her first time, don’t you think?”

“Yes it would”, Jules breathed, straddling her husband’s knee.

“She’s a girl,” he spoke into her face as she leaned closer, rubbing herself on his thigh “It’s best she sees how a woman handles the brush.”

“Whatever you say love”, she said as she covered his mouth with her own.

Complicated

Continued from “Hit me!”

Now, two weeks later she was in his kitchen-and it was his when he was here alone who else’s would it be-turning her back to him and asking again for something that shouldn’t have been his to give.

“Really? Work this out with your husband.”

She turned back to face him fully. “No. There are some things I’ll never work out with Ben. Ever!” She seemed to choke and made a sound-a tsk or tiff-it was hard to tell with the mask, but was clear when she said, “This I need to work out with you.” 

Well, you made your choice, is what he said in his head. It was a phrase that was quite popular between them for awhile back then. He’d say it, he’d yell it, she’d cry about making a mistake, then he’d cry about…and that was how it had gone on, and on before they settled into this uneasy truce that gave each of them something which actually turned out to be nothing. He bit his tongue not wanting to revisit and rehash things that had been said before. This was different and he felt it. Like he was standing in a river and the current was too strong. He stepped forward into the circle of heat that radiated from her. 

“I’ve known you a long time…I know what you went through at home. With your mother…”

“Don’t!”, she said. “This is different. This is my choice. My…want…” The words were failing her and, thinking to clarify, she tore her mask off. But he knew. The mask wasn’t covering her eyes and they told the story of her need. 

He also doffed his mask and tossed it onto the counter. “Shit”, he thought, “I might not survive the morning anyway…” He stepped closer and spoke slowly and quietly. 

“Do you know how hard it is for me to work here and keep my hands off of you?” She looked away. “Look at what you’re wearing! And don’t stop on my account. But Jesus, Dar.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about me, I’m fine. I work through it. But you are asking for a helluva lot right now.” 

“I know. I’m sorry”, she repeated robotically. “But do you know how hard it is to really, really need something that you can’t get your hands on, that’s just out of reach. And the one person, the one single person…” he braced himself thinking from her voice that she was going to hit him, “…that maybe knew what you needed-could give you what you needed-was too thick to…”

He pressed his finger against her lips hard enough to silence her. “Not thick, Darla. I know what you’re doing. I know what you want. I. Know. You. You do not stop. This is not a one-off. And this will complicate things…”

“Things are already complicated”, she pouted. “They’ve always been complicated for me…” She sounded deflated, defeated, forlornly clutching the spoon like a kid not willing to give up a toy. She had put it out there and it had fallen flat to the floor. She was breathlessly wondering how she was going to get through the day when she felt his fingers against her belly. She gasped as they slid down her pants and grabbed her belt. He pulled firmly as she allowed herself to be inexorably drawn into his shadow then melted into him everywhere their bodies touched. 

She felt his breath on her shoulder as he loomed, then gasped again when his hands opened her belt and unsnapped her shorts. “I’ve already swatted your jeans”, he growled sliding his hands inside her pants and pushing them down as he slid his palms over her hips and panty-clad bottom. He gently nibbled the bottom of her neck as he slipped his thumbs into the waistband of her panties and pushed them down as well, cupping her bottom cheeks as they fluttered to the floor. 

Suddenly, not content with fondling, he slipped all eight fingers into her crease and pulled, opening her roughly in a way that he didn’t think he could. Then he kneaded her backside until she choked out a small whimper. All pretense of being able to hold back-to deny what he had been feeling-to curb the welling lust within him was gone. His “rule” that he’d used before to fend her off, that he didn’t get involved with married women, had apparently been revoked. 

He raised one hand to her chin and lifted her face to peek once into her full and glowing eyes looking for something, anything, to give him pause. There was nothing. One kiss-soft and gentle-then, with both hands, he turned her and pushed on her shoulders, bending her over the stainless steel table. He kept pressing until she flattened pushing her bare bottom back into his hips. He leaned into her reaching for the spoon which she still held then he stood back to admire the view he’d only seen a few times and not for almost a decade. 

The way she dressed left few secrets but seeing her full bottom, bare and thus offered caused his breath to catch and, not surprisingly, his cock to stir. He put the spoon on the counter and pressed the small of her back with his left and cupped her backside, one cheek, then the other.  

When he pulled his hand away Darla flinched in anticipation and jumped when he touched her. When he finally delivered a tentative smack, she gasped then froze. Waiting. She didn’t have to wait long. Again and again he slapped her bottom as she mewled and undulated like a cobra to the charmer’s pipe. He spanked thoroughly, leaving no spot on her bottom untouched until he could feel the warmth of her skin when his hand lingered. 

She heard the small “snick” when he picked the wooden spoon off the counter and tightened her grip on the sides of the table. She hadn’t been hit with anything in years and her mind whirled as she tried to imagine what it was going to feel like. She wanted it, she wasn’t afraid of it, she trusted Jimmy…but she still-!*!

“YOW!” she yelped as the first swat landed on her right cheek short circuiting all attempts at thought. Then another landed on the opposite cheek. “OWW!” Jimmy rubbed the spoon along her bottom before delivering a third whack which bloomed into a third red egg dappling her all over pink bottom. She gasped and involuntarily kicked back when another blow stung her deeply where her left cheek met her leg. “GAHHH!”

“Too hard?” he asked.

“No!” she said, fairly panting, wishing for a moment that she had said yes and not knowing why she hadn’t. Then no, again. Not too hard. Then she felt his hand, Jimmy’s hand, on her bottom rubbing and kneading the aching flesh. Darla scooped her back and wantonly leaned her ass into his touch wanting more. More of the touch, more of the pain, more…Just freaking more! “Come on Jimmy”, she said. “More…”

He stepped closer and let fly again and again, standing out of the way as she kicked and bucked with every blow. After fifteen or sixteen swats she had passed through the place where she needed to wriggle, to dance, or to jump and kick in answer to her punishment. She released her grip on the table and stood upright, fingers tightly entwined behind her neck. Her whimpers offered a constant song of release as her tightly clenched red bottom ricocheted every swat backward. 

He would have long stopped had he not clearly seen how much she wanted this. How much she needed this. As he bent to deliver blow after blow, he wondered if he needed it too? As she continued to offer her bottom it occurred that he was giving her what she wanted, but she was giving him herself, in a way she hadn’t given herself to anyone before. 

As with many things in his life, the decision to stop her paddling was made by his cock, so engorged he feared for its, and his, safety. He tossed the spoon to the counter with a clatter. “Look at me”, he said huskily, turning her by the shoulders. Her tear streaked face-a kaleidoscope of pain, lust, and a sparkle of joy-pushed him over the edge. 

He tore at his own jeans as she attacked his mouth with her own. Her hands fumbled atop his in the struggle to get his pants down. Once unleashed, his cock jabbed forward like a lance punching Darla in the belly. Jimmy dropped his arms around her hot bottom and lifted her onto the steel table.

“Ooooh! Shit!”, Darla cried slipping up on one cheek then the other, her tortured skin sticking to the cold metal. “Hurts-hurts-hurts-hurts…” He reached for a dish towel as she hugged his neck lifting herself. He slipped the towel under her. “Man…”, she breathed, wincing. 

He pulled her roughly to the edge. His entry was quick and complete, buried to the hilt in a single, sopping thrust. Darla moaned loudly and lifted herself on his neck again, tearing at his face with her mouth in wild abandon, freeing every pent up desire and emotion from the last ten years. Jimmy pushed her back down and locked his arms around her holding on as best he could while they each matched the other’s pounding and thrusting until the slapping of their middles and the painful banging of her butt on the table filled the room.

“I’m…coming…”, she gasped. “I’m…going to…”

“Do it!” Jimmy bit. He was holding off as best he could but his resolve, unlike his staff, was wilting. He slipped his hands under her and lifted as she locked her legs around him. “Come!” he said. “Come for me…”

Her legs gripped him tightly as she hissed through clenched teeth until, unable to hold back, exploded with a coughing bark then “AAAHHHHH!” as she futilly tried to pull him deeper inside. He held her tighter than he’d held anyone as, in a final thrust, he released what felt to be a flood deep into his first and only love. “Oh my fucking…god…” was all he could say. 

They held as they were, him standing, arms squeezing and her sitting, legs wrapped tightly around his middle holding his pulsing cock inside for as long as she could. Then, resuming regular breathing, she released her legs and he allowed her to collapse backward onto the table, her outstretched arms knocking a stack of metal serving trays to the floor with a loud crash. He laughed lightly and withdrew in full, painting a little drizzle along the inside of her thighs and onto the towel below her. 

He bent and smiled into her face. “We are noisy fuckers…”

She grinned, squeezing more tears out of her eyes-not of pain this time, not even of release, but of relief. Of happiness.

“That’s it you know”, he said.

“Mmmm…?”

“I’m never giving you up again.” To make sure he wasn’t misunderstood, he repeated, “I’m never giving you up again.”

“I know.”

He lowered his face closer to hers but neither went for the kiss. Instead he looked deeply into her eyes.

“I love you”,  she said. He let his hand slide down her hip where he could still feel the heat radiating there.

“And your butt?”

Her wicked smile slashed her face like a watermelon slice. “My butt really loves you…”

He kissed her softly but quickly. “Come on”, he said, pulling away. “We have to clean up before your husband gets here.”

“He’s not coming…”

“What do you mean?”

“I might have told a teeny tiny lie. I told him more than I said…”

“So he’s not coming.”

“It’s you and me, babe”. She said. “Are you ready for me full time?”

He squinted down at her. “I think I just got played.”

“Not the first time, won’t be the last.”

He pulled up his pants feeling lighter, maybe even a little taller. He tossed her another towel which she caught still laying on her back. 

“Well, you gotta move. If it’s just the two of us, we have our hands full. Wipe down that table first…”

“I’ll clean the fuck off of it”, she laughed looking at the ceiling.

Jimmy, smiling to himself, turned up the heat under the pots. He was suddenly happy to try “complicated” for a while.

The Sweet Spot

People who know about fishing but have never actually fished, except for maybe dipping a worm into a pay lake as a kid, think all fishing is the same. It is not. This fishing, that he was doing now, for trout in the mountains, is different from the kind of fishing he’d learned as a boy. Then, he and his father fished down-country rivers and lakes for bass mostly. Sometimes pike. The waters were wide and deep, unreadable to those who did not spend time out there as they had. The man and his son. Both of them named Frank, so he was Junior, which he hated.

They would rise before light and settle into the boat, he in the front, the old man in the back manning the outboard. The ride could be long or it might just be up to the bend in the river to what Big Frank had judged to be the best weed bed, gravel bar or drop off for that morning. As fishermen they were always looking for the best spot. He was right more often than not and big fish would rise to poppers as the sun broke the horizon then, later, dive for rubber worms as it burned overhead. As a boy he had learned from his old man how to lose himself in fishing. How to let it consume him so that there was nothing else for the time he was on the water.

Here, on the streams in the mountains, where Frank had fished since his war, it did no good to get there before the sun. The stream, deep in the cut valley, needed sunshine, especially in April, to awaken the mayflies and begin the hatches which in turn awakened the trout. He’d  seen them in this pool yesterday when he and Bill had scouted the stream. That’s what made the stream different from the rivers or lakes. Here he was stalking fish that he could see, not intuiting where they might be. 

And he saw them. The fish hadn’t been actively feeding when they saw them, just twitching in the current, moving a length this way or that, nosing upstream into the current but rising to nothing.  Apart from the big brown that rolled flashing his speckled side, he couldn’t name them all. But that was fine. This was a sweet spot. An uncommon sweet spot.“You fish this one, Kid”, Bill had said, ceding it to him. 

He appreciated the courtesy but knew that Bill had a bad knee from a fall out west over the winter and one walk up this mountain would be enough for him this weekend. He’d fish the flat water within easy reach of the truck.

Bill could fish where he wanted. Bill could do what he wanted. And if he wanted to call a grown man “Kid” he could do that too. Bill owned the mountain, or the thousand and some odd acres worth owning. A spot beyond compare. Mostly standing pine and hardwoods, nestling two excellent trout streams. One was fed by a small lake over the top of the mountain that Bill owned and a smaller bouncier stream that was fed by springs that he probably owned too. 

Bill got the land and all else through his father and uncle who had left this world suddenly, rich from rapaciously logging and mining anything they could lay claim to. Which was, as they said around here, a shit ton. Truth was, had they lived, this mountain would not have. Bill often said that at night he could hear them raging at him from hell, damning him for turning such a rich resource acquired for ruination and enrichment into a personal playground. He usually ended that part of the tale by raising whatever glass he was drinking from at the time and saying, “Fugg ‘em.”

Bill’s a good guy. Has his quirks, sure. Who doesn’t? Over the last few years, Frank had convinced himself that even if the forebears, that’s how Bill referred to them,  had lived they wouldn’t have been able to pull Bill into their life where money meant everything. That class of people always overreached, thinking that money could buy wisdom, insight or youth. Power though, was something different. Everyone had power, the secret is convincing someone to relinquish theirs. Everything came with a price. A tariff, Bill had called it. 

Frank had come out of a thick stand of mountain laurel to approach the stream across the thin gravel strip. Sunlight was crawling down the opposite ridge as he tied on a Blue Wing Olive and tried to cast to a riffle downstream from a rock where he knew a fish would be holding. As was typical of his first casts, he missed badly coming up short, but the fly no sooner hit the water than it was engulfed by a small splash and the line snapped straight.

“Damn!” he said, setting the hook which the fish had already done a good job of. It wasn’t a big fish, but it was a frantic one. A pink flash on the jump showed it to be a rainbow. He brought it in quickly, not wanting to tire it too badly, and pinned it against his leg with his free hand. Then, keeping it safely in the water, he grabbed the shank of the hook and twisted it out of the fish’s jaw. The trout hung there suspended in the current for a moment flaring its gills. Then, with a flick of its tail, it was off into the current and gone. Frank smiled that he botched his first cast and still landed a trout. Would be one of those days.

He worked upstream slowly, moving to keep his legs warm inside his waders. Most casts seemed to raise fish-if not to be caught, to be missed. That was fine. He was only going to keep a few for dinner so there was no pressure to catch every fish. That was never the point. As the sun crested, and the hatch changed, he switched flies. Then when he reached a shady hole where he knew some big fish would be stacked along the bottom he went with the beaded woolly bugger-something that would go deep. His actions were rhythmic and thoughtless until they weren’t. 

His mind wandered, it always did when the fishing was good, to the mornings with his old man. They were not all good, he knew. Sometimes they went out and his father was still drunk from the night before. Sometimes he carried a bottle. Sometimes the boat would arc in a long circle before he turned to see the old man sleeping against the tiller, cigarette hanging from his limp lips. He knew there were those mornings. But on days like this, when the trout were rising and the creel was filling, he remembered every morning as spectacular with great leaping fish and his father young and strong before whiskey, cigarettes and the world ground him. 

He had met Bill in a stateside airport bar, awaiting the flight for his last leg on his final home trip from Kandahar. He had signed with the Army less than two weeks after putting the old man in the ground and signing everything over to the banks who had been dogging his father during his last, failing years. 

The man in the bar had a rod case leaning against his seat and Frank asked about it. He had ditched his uniform, his boots and everything that connected him with the previous four years. At that moment, in the bar, he wanted nothing more than to talk fishing. And talk was something that the big man knew how to do. Frank took most of it as bullshit, of course. Who in their thirties owns a mountain and was building a paradise for himself?

When he left to catch his flight, Bill called Frank’s phone so he’d have his number and told him to feel free to visit him on his mountain. What a character, Frank thought as he called for another beer. Then his phone buzzed with a text from the big guy with the coordinates to his place. “Come up if you want to learn trout fishing”, read the text. 

Three weeks later, with nothing to do and nowhere to be, he stepped out of his truck in front of Bill’s private lodge on his very own mountain. When he got there that first time, the place still smelled of sawdust and he parked next to the carpenter’s trucks. They were putting the finishing touches on the back of the house and his first tour of the property wound around ladders and chop saws. It was magnificent, he had to agree. “This will be your room”, he motioned into a room larger than his whole apartment. At least he thought it was big, until Bill showed him his own. 

That night, long after the workers had packed up, Bill grilled steaks and they sat beside a snapping fire in the pit and watched a darkness as deep and any he’d seen overseas settle over the mountain. It was then, over bourbons, that Bill laid out the tariff that he would impose for complete access to the mountain and all that was on it.  Frank paused of course. Who wouldn’t? It was a perfect spot though,  and if the fishing were anything near what Bill said it was, it could be worth it. It would be worth it.  Again, having nothing to do and nowhere to be, he agreed. Even with all of everything, Frank never regretted running into the man in that bar.

The shower was better than fine. The water was cold and prickly and he let it spatter the back of his neck until it hurt. The smell of the soap made him want to eat it, and the towels were thick and soft enough to pass as blankets. He’d never felt towels like these off of this mountain. 

He stepped out of the bathroom and into his room. They were all like this: seven bedrooms, seven adjoining bathrooms. He crossed to the sliding glass door and slipped out onto the deck overlooking the valley. The stored heat of the sun radiated from the thick pine boards. He closed his eyes to the falling sun and savored the afternoon breeze caressing his body as he leaned forward, liking the railing’s warm wood against his bare skin. 

The first time he’d stood on this spot he’d flashed back to the firebase in Afghanistan. Like this, it was on a mountain with a view of the valley below but over there, the view was a narrow one with cliffs on both sides funneling vision down to the crossroad and the town beside it. It was brown, it was gray, it was dusty. Then it was gone. That was it. That one thought. A blip. That one memory. It wasn’t a particularly bad one-not ominous in any way and it never happened again. Being up here had cleansed him of those years, he was sure of it. That one obligatory memory had to pop out like some kind of boogeyman to let him know it wasn’t far away if he let his guard down. But he wouldn’t. He was in a good spot. 

He flopped on the bed without dressing. What would be the point? The books on the bedside table were all about fishing and he picked up one he remembered, opening it at random. He read easily, skimming the words one at a time but failing to find any coherent structure. It was as if the words were children’s blocks cast carelessly onto the floor. He tried again from the top. It wasn’t working and the more he tried to concentrate the more his mind scattered. He recognized the feeling even if he wouldn’t name it. He should have taken the drink when offered, but there will be time for that later. 

Facing as he was, he could see the door swing open even with his nose in the book. The man stepped in wearing only one of those plush towels wrapped around his waist. He was carrying a thick rocks glass of bourbon with a single large cube. The way he was holding it, the brown of the liquor contrasted with his white middle. 

“And there you are”, the man said.

“And here I am.”

The man set the drink on the bedside table and Frank rolled onto his stomach facing away. He didn’t have to see it. The first time the man had dropped the towel, on his first visit, he’d seen it. The first time he made the mistake of looking. Didn’t have to again. It would prod him, poke him, spread him and fill him. He didn’t have to see it. He heard the drawer open, where the lotions and rubbers were. He hadn’t looked in there either.  He knew what was in there. 

“You OK?” the man asked.

“Oh sure. I’m fine.”

“Good, good…”

The bed moved as the man maneuvered himself between Frank’s legs. “Those fish are perfect,” he said. “Stuffed  them with thyme and lemons. They’ll grill beautifully.”

“They are perfect”, Frank agreed as he heard the packet tear.

The man’s hands were on him then, pulling and positioning, touching as he liked to. His skin felt cauterized. He could feel the hands rubbing and moving, but not the touch. Even when the fingers moved lower and inside, the feeling was dulled. Then he felt the cool of the oil right there and hissed a breath. 

Then there was the stillness. Then the roll of the bed as the man loomed and covered him. Then the pressure at his bottom. Slow and burning at first but inexorable. He winced as the weight of the man settled on him and squeezed fistfuls of blankets. His mouth opened silently as he was penetrated. 

It had occurred to him before, that this is something, for comfort’s sake, that one should do more often or not at all. But it was such a sweet spot up here he didn’t want to bring it up.  

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.