Chelsea – 7

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(Continued from Party Interruptus)

The trail dipped into a slight decline and, out of sight of the car, he led them angling away from the road, toward, by Chelsea’s reckoning, the party house. But they didn’t appear to be heading there directly; he kept checking a map on his phone and adjusting direction. The girls came up short, startled by the rusty remains of an old gas line junction. The pipes, out of use for decades stood as leaning sentries to tell that this wasn’t always untraveled woods. He knew they were there and stopped.  Then paced a few feet due north. He stopped again and bent, clearing the leaves and branches from a small patch of ground. He reached toward Chelsea who, without a word, handed him the digging tool.

“What are…?” Gennie whispered.

“Shhhh…” Chelsea shushed her quickly.

He dug a small divot and angled the shovel into the dirt. With a quick pry he lifted a thin flat section of ground exposing a void beneath. Without prompting Chelsea dropped to a knee and caught the edge of a thick sliver of plywood concealed under a few inches of soil, leaves and branches. Her heart whirred when she spied the long plastic box settled in a wooden vault about a foot below ground. She lit her cell phone light and carefully kept it below the surface.

“Here”, he said, kneeling beside her and reaching into the hole.

Most of the gun caches she had seen when she was living with her crew in Virginia years before were smaller-built to accommodate hand guns and ammo away from the house. The way her lover had explained it then, in the years before “Prepping” became a thing, they scattered hidden guns about the farm in case “shit really goes sideways.” Maybe there were some of those small boxes out here too. But not this one. This one was built for bigger things. “Weapons won’t be a problem”, she remembered him saying.

When he popped the plastic top she was able to see long guns stacked carefully. He picked out a hunting rifle very similar to the 30.06 her dad used to have. He pulled the clip, replaced it and slipped the bolt. He took two spare clips. She, without waiting to be invited, grabbed the AR-15 that was beside it and familiarly pulled the clip and slipped the bolt. Locked and loaded.

She held it comfortably across her thighs and his idea of shouldering one and carrying the other was instantly updated. He stayed frosty at each revelation simply because he wouldn’t allow himself to be surprised. He was able to accept this new Chelsea-this new aspect of Chelsea-completely and on it’s face because it had always been there. Thinking with his dick, he had missed something. It was his gap, not hers.

There was a shotgun and a few others still in the ground. They both looked at Geneva. “No way. I don’t know who you guys are, but I’ve never held a gun in my life.” He and Chelsea were in constant motion now, furtively grabbing clips, binoculars-which Gennie would carry-then closing the vault, pausing to kick dirt and leaves back over it.

While Chelsea’s heart raced with excitement, Geneva’s pounded with a fear that would paralyze her if she let it. She squatted low and waited while he hurriedly pecked out a text message. Then, not thinking just watching, she moved when they did, in crouches that really seemed melodramatic and right out of the movies. They headed toward the house.

(To be continued…)

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“Hey pastor…”

Hey pastor,

Hey pastor she cried,

Runnin’ up red-eyed and blotchy

After the service.

Lookit this she said,

Opening the postcard that had been folded in her purse.

Lookit what he sent.

He’s in Wyomin’ now, she said.

Settled up on a place, she said, hissing

Giving him no time to read the note.

He’s fixin’ fence, he says, runnin’ wire and is that walkin’ horses?

What’s he know bout that? She asked,

With his rickety knees and balky hips.

He’s a townie kid like me…and I never wanted to run off like that.

What’s to become of him?

Of me?

You mustn’t worry about him, little darlin’, the pastor said leanin’ close,

Allowin’ his gaze to hungrily crawl acrost her bodice.

The lord will pervide for them such as him.

You come with me lil darlin’, he said.

I can’t tell you what he was thinkin’, but

I allus thought you were a sweet little one.

Let us git you into the back…

Git some coffee in you….

Jake – 2

(Continued from Jake – 1)

The air in the room was a coppery stew of blood, meat, burnt hair, gunpowder and shit. He had to hit the window frame hard with the heel of his hand a few times before it surrendered to his tugging and slid up a few inches.

“You fuckin’ idiot”, he said aloud.

No running his car into an abutment yanking to the left at the last second to deal only a glancing, but totaling, blow. No standing at the bridge rail with an audience waiting to be talked back. No taking a bottle of pills then calling 911. He’s just crying out, they said. Trying to make Mel crazy. This wasn’t that. He wondered what his last thought had been in the nanosecond between clicking the trigger and ending up on the wall. Better off not knowing.

Jake sat on the bloody ruin of the bed and felt it soaking through his jeans, his legs already sticky. He leaned forward and, with his finger, traced a line through the crimson spatter on the yellow wall feeling pieces that were bloody, but more than that. What was in this blood? Were there still traces of the first joint they shared in ninth grade? A taste of the cheap wine they’d shared at the prom a million years before? A whiff of every bottle they’d drained, beer they’d drunk, Quaalude they’d swallowed?

No, those were memories which would now become the reveries of ghosts. This was waste. Jake knew he’d live with one the rest of his life. This other, he needed to get rid of.

You couldn’t call me one more time? When have I not showed up when you called? Or the old man? He could get tiresome, sure, sitting through another story of walking point in the jungle and knowing he wouldn’t die but sure of who would.  Did he have this one?  Jesus, Bull. Again, he wondered about his last thought: was it a relieved “finally” or a regretful “fuck!”. Better off not…

He got up and headed through the house that he knew as well as his own. He’d been here alone many times, but it was never as empty as it was now. He gathered what he needed and decided this would be it for him. There would be no vigil, no sitting beside a closed casket with Melissa and the kids remembering better times. None of that. This was it. This was his closure, this was his vigil, this was his Song of Bull: Lysol, two buckets, sponges and a mop.

The task was simple. Numbing. On his popping knees, dipping the rag in the clean bucket and rinsing in the foul one. When they were both the same shade of red he’d dump and start again. The smell of the cleaner began to win out as the window fogged. He was half way though, still on his knees in that fouled room, when he heard the heavy, halting tread on the steps. Mel’s brother stepped up to the doorway but not into the room.

“What did you say to her?”

“Not now, Tom…”

“She got the three kids at my house now and she gonna half to…”

Jake pulled himself up in sections to his full height, stretching his back, before pivoting slowly, mechanically, his spine clicking like a rusty weather vane. His eyes were a sick animal’s, too exhausted and pained to attack but too unpredictable to offer any comfort. Tom shied from the baleful stare, but held his chin firm.

“Wasn’t right”, he said.

“Not. Now”, Jake answered and slowly turned back to the wall, almost clean now.

“Put the mattress in the garage. Git it out of here. I’ll burn it at work.” Jake didn’t respond. “It’s good you’re doin’ this”, Tom said sliding toward the stairs, “But you’re still a fuckin’ prick.”

Jake, content to hear but not listen, wiped at the wall-now shiny yellow with only a few wisps of pink.

The mattress, older than the man who’d slept on it, rolled easily. The blood was drying now-gummy-not running down his back but staining him just the same as he shouldered the burden and leaned his way down the stairs, across the yard and into the garage. The bulb on the wire cast a wavering yellow light as it swung above the oil-stained spot where the Caddy usually was. Melissa took it, he knew. Which Bull would have hated.

He dropped the mattress against the wall then stripped off his soiled jeans and underwear, tossing them and his shirt onto the same pile. Burn them all, he thought. He yanked off the light and lumbered haltingly back across the dark yard ignoring the stares that he knew were falling on him from those who would always stare at car wrecks, death houses and accidents, hoping for a sign, a vision, an echo or reverb from beyond.

Back in the room, he opened the dresser drawers and pulled out a pair of jeans. They would be big, but there were belts. A non-descript work shirt from the closet; stained but clean. Then, on a hunch, he pulled open the top drawer and reached under the sweat socks to find a thin plastic bag rolled tight and licked to seal. The weed was mostly thick oily buds and smelled amazing fresh. OK buddy, he thought. Paid in full.

The keys were still in the ignition, his wallet still on the seat. He had locked the house but left all the lights on, so it shined brighter than any other on the street where the living hid in darkness. He drove back to the Porter, watching the streets carefully for changes. He figured without Bull on this block or this earth that something should look somehow different.

The bar was quiet when he walked in, the juke muted, whispering some Jim Croce lost love song. Bad news burns through a small town like a fire in a rowhouse. Bull’s stool at the end was empty, as was the one on either side. There was a shot and a flattening beer on the bar in front of it. Jake sat on the stool he’d left earlier and caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror behind the bottles. He dropped his eyes.

Dee set the same shot and beer in front of him.

“You ok?”

“Naw…”

She squeezed his hand.  He tossed the shot and remembered. “Shit!” he took the phone out of his pocket and dialed home. Dee refilled the shot. The old man answered on the first ring.

“Pop”, he said.

“I heard” was all he answered. Jake had hoped he had, what with the scanner and Aunt Cil and her sisters all radars for distress and disasters. He didn’t want to break the news though the old man would say he saw it coming. He woulda been right too. They all did.

“Ok. You alright?”

“What else am I gonna be? How ‘bout you?” His answer was silence, Jake again caught staring at the wraith in the mirror. “…You should come home” the old man said.

“I will Pop. I will…I just gotta…”

“I’ll leave the door open. Just come home when you’re done…”

He closed the phone and put it back in his pocket pulling out the bag of weed and tossing it on the bar. “Pipe Up”, he said intoning their collective call to unconsciousness, born a decade earlier when an oldster, long gone now, had told their crew to “Pipe Down!” when they were laughing over his daytime programs.

Dee reached behind the Crown Royal bottle for the stone pipe. Gus, at the end of the bar, got up haltingly and locked the front door then deliberately switched off the sidewalk lights. They were closed for a while.

“I just sold him this last week,” Dee said shaking the bag.

“A wonder there’s any left” Jake said and smiled for the first time in hours.  She packed the pipe and handed it over, lighting it. He inhaled deeply, taking the sweet smoke deep into his lungs; closing his eyes from the prying gaze of the ghost in the mirror.

“What you say?” Dee asked as he exhaled.

He didn’t realize he had spoken out loud. “I said,” he repeated, “Fuck tomorrow.”

“That’s up to you”, she said taking a small toke before passing the pipe down the bar. “But whether you do or don’t, tomorrow’s gonna fuck you sure.”

(To be eventually continued…)

Jake – 1

“He did it!” was all he heard screeching from the phone as he held it hard against his ear.

“What Mel?! What he do?” He felt he had to yell to be heard over the noise on his end banging against the screaming on hers. Even with a finger in his off ear and turned away from the juke, it was damn near impossible. “DID WHAT MELISSA?” Filling in the blanks of her answer was tough, but it sounded along the lines of “He’s your fuckin’ friend, best git here!” Then it went dead. He flipped his phone closed.

There was a fresh shot and a beer on the bar in from of him. He threw back the one and gulped half of the other. “Gotta run”, he told the bartender. “Somethin’s up at Bull’s.”

“Don’t get between ‘em two, Jakey”, she yelled after him as he pushed out the door.

He jumped in his truck and headed the four blocks down the main drag, desolate even this early except for the bars, then a right up the hill, then the left at the old school and two more blocks. His heart sagged when he saw the black and whites and ambulance in the middle of the block. “What the fuck did you do…” he mumbled. He got as close as he could then just shut off the truck in the middle of the street and got out.

Bull’s house was glowing with a light in every room and a seeming houseful of people. Sean Mason, in his white police lieutenant’s outfit, was on the porch. “Sean”, Jake nodded taking the two steps up as one. He wasn’t close with the lieutenant but had known him forever. Even when they played ball together they weren’t particularly chummy but still they had been hip to hip for those four years. They were circling planets in the same small system, nothing more.

Sean wouldn’t meet his eyes. Just shook his head. Jake froze when he saw a thicket of legs up on the stairs struggling with a gurney.  “Where the kids?” he asked.

“Her mom’s. It was just Melissa and him here.”

“Where’s she?”

They paused and stepped aside for the guys-all known to Jake-carrying the gurney. The white sheet covering the bulk was riotously stained red at one end. Jake reached out for a corner of it.

“Don’t”, said Sean quietly. “You don’t want to see that.”

Naw, he guessed he didn’t. He stepped back and allowed them to pass. Melissa came after; for the moment dry, but wild-eyed. She fixed on him, hard and flinty as she would lately. Jake wanted to reach out to her; to somehow recapture for a moment the vibe the three had together before marriage, kids and Bull’s off-ness snuffed it. He really wanted to find something to say that would ease them both through what was shaping up to be a very shitty week, but instead he said, “What you say to him?”

“WHAT? What did I…you BASTARD!” Then, just like in the movies, she started pounding on his chest with both fists and slapping at his face. He made no move to protect himself but, unlike in the movies, neither did he grab her and hug her or comfort her. “I DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING YOU FUCKER” He stood quietly until Sean took her by the arm and pulled her away. “Why don’t you kill yourself too you COCKSUCKER!”

Having handed her off to one of the EMS techs Sean turned to Jake and simply said, “Really?”

©TDR – 2017

(Continuing…. For those trying to find some coherence in my lunacy, this is the same Jake that we find at the bridge rail in “You Better Hurry“)

The Sweet Shoppe

(Continued from Maria  and also continuing the Party Interruptus storyline).

Duke stood on the stoop of “Monello’s Decadent Delicacies” for a moment to gather himself. The front of the shop was dark and deserted but light from the bright kitchen leaked forward from the porthole in the swinging door and the service window. He shook his head hard twice and windmilled his arms gulping deep breaths. It was an exercise he’d learned in college theater to clear himself-to get in character. He was the angry client in Maria’s little drama.

The door was locked so he twisted the knob on the old-fashioned chime. Maria’s face instantly appeared in the service window then disappeared again. The door swung open as she hustled out front. He watched impatiently tapping his toe on the concrete as she clumsily unlocked the door with what looked to be shaking hands.  She kept her hair short on the sides and he focused on the soft white skin at the side of her neck, just below her ear. He imagined the touch of the soft downy hair and the whisper of citrus that she always wore underlying the fecund aroma of dough and yeast that had to be wafting up and out of her t-shirt. Jesus, he thought. This was why Beth had warned him not to diddle…er, dawdle too long.

She finally got the door open with a jerk and stepped back startled and apologetic.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Barton…”

“Maria-you know this is unacceptable”, he said sternly stepping inside and closing the door behind him.

“I know, sir…”

“There are two dozen guests at the house right now-everything is prepared except for the what you were supposed to bring!”

She backed toward the kitchen slowly with Duke keeping pace. “Yes sir, I’m sorry.”

“That’s bad enough, but then I have to leave my own party to come and help you make a delivery. Where is Shea?”

“She had other commitments, Mr. Barton, so I let her off early.”

“Other commitments?! This, today is a pretty important commitment!”

“Yes, I know. This is my fault. I misjudged. But look!” she pushed open the door behind her. “Everything is done. I finished up just as you got here.”

“I should be happy now that you’re only an hour late?”

“No sir. Of course not sir.”

“Help me to the car with these.”

She picked up a tray of bright red candied apples and fairly scurried through the shop. He took the caramel and nut. Two trips and all that was left was a tray of petite fours. He followed her back into the kitchen keeping his eyes on the perfect inverted heart of her backside wrapped tightly in stone washed denim. She had to be wiggling more than necessary, every hurried step in a perfect heel to toe line.

“The last one!”, she said waving her hand in a nervous flourish.

He bared glanced at it, choosing instead to catch her eyes in his angry glare. She coughed slightly and looked away as he deliberately unbuttoned the sleeve of his khaki shirt. He rolled it up his forearm. “I’m going to teach you a little lesson about punctuality Maria.”

“Awww, come on Mr. Barton.” she pleaded, again trying to back away from him. “Please don’t. Not here.”

“You turn around young lady…”

“Mr. Barton, I….”

“You turn around right now!”

She did so reluctantly-hiding her face with her hands.

“Stick your bottom out”, he ordered.

She pouted and pushed back slightly. He slapped her hard on the jeans finding the jarring contact of the firm yet giving mound very satisfying. She jumped with a high pitched “OUCH!”

“Do you like that, Maria?”

“No sir!”

“Stick it out a little further.  And put your hands on your thighs.”

“Oh sir…” but she did as she was told. He grabbed the beltline of her jeans and pulled them higher tightening even more the fabric that encased her bottom. Maria gasped as the pulled seam buried itself inside of her setting off wild alarms up her spine and down her legs. Her heart raced-did he know what he was doing to her? She wriggled as he slapped and lifted in perfect rhythm. Of course he knew what he was doing, she thought between gasps. She danced on her tiptoes, the swats on her bottom having a shadow of the effect to the rubbing in her crotch.

“Maria, I don’t feel I’m making a good enough impression on you.”

“Oh sir”, she said breathlessly. “You are….”

“No, I don’t think so…” He released her jeans and placed his hand around the back of her neck-not squeezing but definitely leading her forward to her work table, still dusted with flour, wisps of dough and dabs of strawberry jam.

“Bend over here…”

“Sir…I…”

“Bend!” he pushed her gently over until her hands, then her elbows then finally her breasts contacted the hard wood. Pressing on her back he reached around and unsnapped her jeans roughly pulling them down over one hip, then the other, exposing her wide firm bottom blooming slightly pink by his attentions.

Gently, but not too, he reached between her legs and peeled the damp seam from inside of her swollen lips. She gasped lightly and pushed back into his hand. Her clit could not have been harder had it been forged. Each light touch brought a tiny spasm from her mounded backside. He pulled his hand away and dipped three fingers in the bowl of strawberry preserves that she used for the pastries and jammed a dollop between her legs imagining steam rising from the cool jam spattering into her hot folds.

“Oh God, Oh God…Duke!” she reacted.

He slapped across her wide bum leaving red slashes of jam like talon scars. “What did you call me?”

“Mr. Barton! Mr. Barton! I’m sorry…I’m sorry. “

He pressed more heavily on her back lifting her milky bottom higher. He spanked her rounded cheeks and the tops of her thighs, splattering strawberry speckles and streaks to accent the softer pink handprints. He paused for more jam and reached lewdly between her legs careful to rub the inside of both thighs. She rose onto her toes trapping his hand in her pearly vice.

He flicked quickly, then rubbed, his finger slithering into her easily, her juices married with the preserves.  Her feet left the floor altogether as she gripped the edge drawing herself across the table. Duke’s hand was stuck fast, nothing but his fingers free to move, twiddle and rub. Her growl turned into a squeal as she opened herself to whatever happened back there.

She stiffened as she came, her legs drawn up and Duke’s relentless fingering turning her momentarily into quivering, squirting stone. His stroke slowed as she subsided; all the pert tension in her body dissipated revealing soft curves and sweet milky dimples. As her breath returned he slipped his hand back into the jam and spread her backside filling her crevasse and coating her tight little asshole with strawberry filling.

He playfully squeezed her cheeks together before dropping to his knees and spreading her again, licking from bottom to top as she kicked her toes. “Jesus Christ, Duke. I’m killed…” she sighed relaxing back onto her feet.

“You always had a sweet ass”, he said getting up.

“Will you give me a kiss?”

“Sure.” He bent and smooched her bottom cheek loudly.

“No, up here. On the mouth.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Too familiar”, her voice was sleepy, smiling.

“Exactly. Now, get yourself cleaned up and get over there. No later than nine. Many people are dying to show how disappointed they are with you.”

“You’re not are you?”

He bent and patted her butt once more, deigning to kiss the back of her neck.

“Never love. Never.”

He left her spread and sticky across the work table and carried the last tray of petite fours. As he was getting into his SUV his phone pinged a text.

 

(To be continued…)

Party Interruptus

(Continued from Maria)

They took the road easily, with the moon roof open to better view the graying sky that revealed itself more every night as the leaves fell. Also, so Chelsea’s dope smoke could dissipate easily into the dusk. To be fair, it was her dope but they all were partaking. Him less, but still….

As zombies went they were definitely sexy, both careful to apply makeup that accented their looks-cheek bones for Chelsea, those goddam eyes for Gennie. They were also wearing special panties he had bought them anticipating an unveiling sometime in the evening. Gennie’s said simply “Spank Me” and Chelsea’s, “I need a good spanking.” Chels laughed and took them in good humor but didn’t model them as he’d hoped. Gennie was still a little standoffish-hesitant-nervous, though she looked great in them. Hard-on great.

At their prodding and wheedling he had broken down and put on the sheriff’s costume from a few years ago pleased that it still fit. He had a tiny pang remembering that his wife had accompanied him in cuffs and a striped jumpsuit which opened in the back for when she misbehaved. Which she often did. He toked deeper when the joint reached him this time. Linda was popping into his thoughts more and more lately.

As they rounded the last turn before Duke’s place, he saw a light swinging at the head of the driveway. He slowed. Valet parking maybe? The guy was standing at the top of the drive effectively blocking him from leaving the road. He slid the window down and leaned over Gennie.

“Heading into the party”, he explained.

“No party here”, the guy answered.

“Really? I thought there was.”

“Cancelled”, he said looking closely into the car.

“Huh! I hope everything’s alright”, both girls noticed his voice was different. Lighter and a bit breathy.

“I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“I just heard about this on Facebook. Seemed like a fun thing. Don’t get out to his part of the county often. Easy to get turned around I guess…”

“Yeah, well, you got the wrong place.”

“Which is it?”

“What?”

“Cancelled or the wrong place?”

“Tell you what there, cowboy”, they guy growled leaning forward. “Might be a good time to ride on.” He pulled his jacket aside just enough to show a pistol in his belt.

“Oh Jesus pal!”, he flustered, almost sliding into a falsetto.  “Not looking for any trouble…” He hit the gas and popped ahead, around the next bend watching the rear-view more than the road.

“What’s going on?” asked Gennie.

The road switched back then slipped over a slight hill so they couldn’t be seen but he shut the lights anyway before slowing and turning onto a hard-packed dirt road that you had to know was there.

“You kids wearing sensible shoes?” he asked scanning the woods off to the right.

“We’re good”, answered Chelsea.

“What’s going on?” Gen repeated.

“Not sure.”

“You gonna call 911?” she asked.

He had stopped in the middle of the road and turned the car off. They listened to the ticking of the engine and felt the closeness of the trees on both sides. Without a word he opened the door after switching off the interior lights. He popped the console and grabbed his pistol without taking his eyes off the woods and field ahead.

“What’s that?” asked Gennie, unnecessarily.

Even wrapped in the clip-on holster Chelsea recognized it. “Sig Nine”, she said simply.

Without answering he cut his glance her way and squinted quickly-as if trying to see something in the shadows behind her eyes. She didn’t waver. He clipped the gun onto his belt.

“You gonna call 911?” Gennie repeated in a harsh whisper.

“Shhhh!” Chelsea hissed just as urgently. They gathered behind the car where he popped the trunk.  He took out a small fold-up digging tool and a handed it to Chelsea.

“We can take the poles I made for the leashes. They could be weapons.”

He closed the trunk with a silent click. “We’ll be OK for weapons”, he said leading the way into the woods.

(Continues…)

One Ridge Over – Part 2

Logging Road

(Continued from One Ridge Over)

This time he opened the gate careful to rattle the chain and make as much noise as he could. Halfway across the yard he saw a curtain peek open then close again, so he knew somebody saw him. “C’min”, came Emily’s voice from inside before he knocked.

He stepped into the dim light of the living room. Even if he hadn’t been there earlier and seen what he’d seen, he’d a known something was off in there. There was a damp thickness to the air-a musty whorl of tears, sweat, cigarette smoke and something rotten-sweet that he couldn’t place.

Emily sat on the couch, the curtains behind leaking just enough light to see.

“Your mom here?” he asked.

“Still at church…doin’ whatever.”

“Susan?”

“Stairs”, she said with a slight nod to the narrow staircase at the end of the room.

She had taken off the sweater that had completed the skirt as her regular Sunday outfit. Her titties showed almost clear through the undershirt that had gone a size too small for her over the summer. She wore a lot of sweaters and overshirts even in summer as Missy didn’t think she was old enough for a bra yet.

He stood frozen, eyes averted, the homework he had brought to share, forgotten. Her eyes too were elsewhere, settled on the low table with the full ashtray, two crushed beer cans and empty whisky pint. As he adjusted to the dim light he glanced and saw that her eyes were swollen and red, but the tears well gone. Without actually planning to, or even meaning to, he said “I seen….”

“Seen what?”

“I’s…here earlier. Come through the yard. Seen you and Susan…and Jimmy.”

“Oh”, was all she said. He dropped his eyes further looking directly at the toes of his ripped sneakers, one held on by baling twine.

“Where were you at?”

“Behind the big bush.”

The words were coming as singles-not as whole sentences.

“What did you think?”

“I wanted to kill him…I was gonna jump him and make him stop.”

“Good thing you didn’t. Onliest one woulda gotten killed is you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“But you wanted to help”, she said. “Come to my rescue.” Her voice was scratchy and heavy.

“Yeah, it’s dumb. I’m sorry.”

“Quit apologizin’. It’s sweet”, she said. “I’m glad you dint, but it’s sweet.”

He looked up to see a tiny smile cross her tear-swole face. He had seen her whipped bare ass over a bench, seen her hard nipples practically pushing through her undershirt. But only now, based on a single crooked smile and her white teeth, did his pecker tighten and push against his pants. It was the damndest thing!

His burgeoning firmness was interrupted by the sound of a door and soft tread on the stairs.

“Oh, it’s you”, Susan said her face heavy too, but more flushed than blotchy.

“Where are you going?” Emily asked.

“Out. For a walk.”

She gave nothing else as she headed for the door. He watched her, suddenly nervous at the electricity that come off of Susan that Emily had none of. He found he was holding his breath.

“He was here”, Emily said flat. “He saw.”

“Saw what?”

“He was behind the bush.”

She stopped and turned burning eyes on him. “What are you?”, she growled her face almost frantic with anger. “Some kinda perv?”

“No, it was an accident!”

“Did you git a good show?”

“Come on Suze, he didn’t know what was goin’ on…he was comin’ here for schoolwork.”

“Is that schoolwork?” She hissed pointing at his erection that hadn’t altogether subsided. “Is that for you? Here! You want a better show?” She commenced to yanking at her pants.

“Susan, you stop that! He saw our backsides, not our fronts. Don’t do that to him.”

But Susan was bound and determined even if trying her best to mind her sister a little bit. She turned and pushed her pants down. “There! You like that?” Susan was comely enough. Truth be told she was the prettier of the Brant sisters but no, seein’ her butt all purple and lashed and knowin’ that her face was flushed from crying didn’t please him at all. “You like that?” she croaked over her shoulder.

“No”, he said quietly. “I don’t.”

She pulled her pants up as quickly as she dropped them and faced him again. She nodded toward his crotch. “Is that for you then?” she asked her sister.

“He came here for homework”, Emily said evenly through gritted teeth.

“Why don’t you. Go ahead and do it. Put a baby in her you perv so in a few years you’ll have someone you can…”

“STOP IT RIGHT NOW SUSAN!”

The younger shut up and wiped the back of her hand across her eyes which had started to leak. To stop from saying anymore she spun and pushed her way out the door. He watched her cross the yard.

“Where’s she goin’?” he asked.

“Prolly up the walnut grove. That’s her happy place. Good place for her right now.”

“She’s pissed.”

“There’s more what goes on between her and Jimmy than jist takin’ a whippin’ now an’ then.”

“What you mean?” he asked.

She gifted him with another smile; this one sly, with her head puppy-tilted to the side. “You sweet little dummy. You don’t know, do you?” That smile again. This time she watched his pants push out toward her. “Come on…” She got up from the couch and led him by the hand, back through the kitchen and out the back door.

He felt strange being in the back yard again so soon after what had happened there. Even stranger to go and set on the bench. His Ma believed that everthing that happened in the world was still happenin’…or was still goin’ on in some kind of time wrinkles…he never could get it straight when she explained it, cause it was always late at night, but he was pretty sure she would say the whippin’ he saw was still happenin’ over and over if he jist had the gift of bein’ able to see it. He didn’t know about that, but he did feel weird settin’ there in the middle of it.

The river was shallow here and if not for the algae blooms he’d be able to count the rocks from one side to the other. He saw a couple of carp-big shadows cruising upstream-and watched the willows across the way standing straight in the weak current. Emily set close beside him. His nervous river-watchin’ was interrupted by her hand roughly rubbing over his lap. “You can’t keep it loaded and not shoot. You’ll get blood poisoning.”

“No I won’t!”

“It’s true”, she said, her hand work not helping at all.

He’d had boners before and knew how to deal with them. But he’d never had one with a girl. He sat rigid and straight-backed breathing in quick little bites as she rubbed her hand back and forth. She paused and flipped the tab of his zipper. “You know how to work this?” she asked.

He unzipped and made to reach in, but it jumped out of its own accord like a dog after a rabbit. “See now?” Emily said grabbing it like a corn stalk. “This is no good. I’ll take care a’ this.” She spit in her hand and rubbed down over the top of it. He saw it swell and felt a tickle deep below in his balls. She wrapped her fist around it and stroked clumsily.

“I like how it grows”, she said from a distance, as if talking about a flower. It wasn’t quite determination that showed on her face as much as wanting to get it right. He didn’t know whether to watch her or the carp so he looked out at the river and stole peeks down at his lap as if he was ashamed of his own pecker. It wasn’t a concern he had for long though. He slammed his eyes shut when he felt the rustling bubbles deep inside and grunted, hearing his juice spatter on the leaves between his feet.

“There”, she said. “Don’t that feel better?”

“It does.”

“You’ve done this before, right?”

“Sure. Never with a girl, though.”

“Here then. Let me show you something…” Before he could imagine what, she pushed her hair behind her ear and bobbed into his lap. She took him into her mouth and whirled her tongue about the top of him sucking gently at the same time. He rose off the bench slightly crying…”Whoa, whoa…” then settled as she slid her mouth down over the full of it. Then she pulled her lips back over it and sat back up leaving him hard and shiny. “Whoo…” he whispered.

“How’s that?”

“That was somethin’…” he said, then froze as the world tilted a bit. He caught the seat of the bench with his hands as it felt to be collapsing under him.  Where had she learnt that?

There’s more what goes on between her and Jimmy than jist takin’ a whippin’ now an then.

“Put that thing away”, she said. “You only get one shot today.”

He stuffed his rigid self back into his pants with difficulty and sat still while everything gathered back under him. She took his hand in hers without looking. “I don’t want to do no homework today”, he said feeling a little sick in his belly.

“Naw”, she said. “Me neither. I need to go up into the woods and gather Susan. Make sure she’s fine…”

As he followed her through the dim house to pick up his book bag he kept his eyes over everything but her walking right in front.

“We won’t be in school tomorrow”, she told him at the gate.

OK, was all he said. He didn’t want to get into the detail of it or know why. His mind spun with the possibilities that they neither could sit on the hard seats all day, they were too upset, whatever. He thought nothing of it, just suddenly wanted to head up the road.

“You have to give me a kiss now”, she said, her thick little fingers gripping his handlebar tightly. “We’re lovers now. You have to kiss me when you leave”. He kissed her, chastely on the lips–mouth closed and dry. “Bye”, was all he said.

The ride home was even more painful than he thought it would be as the thick heat settled, filling the hollow. It was fine though. He took his time.

—–

He didn’t mind Mondays. He was an early riser anyways and liked goin’ to school probably more than school liked him being there. Ma was at the sink pushing herself up taller to better see though the window. “It’s your uncle” was all she said.

He heard the boots clop on the porch. Uncle Mike, big enough that it seemed he should duck through the door wore the same checked shirt he’d had on since his wife died. The kitchen filled with the sweet, sour smell of the twenty head of straggly Angus he ran on the rented knob over opposite the church.

“You hear about the Brant’s last night?”

“How would I?”

“There were a fire.”

“A fire.“

‘We won’t be in school tomorrow’ echoed so clearly in his head he was afraid the adults would hear.

“Everbody OK?”

“Girls and Missy fine. Damn fool Jimmy Logan burned himself up. Musta been smokin’ on the couch and fell asleep.”

“Naw!”

“Good riddance to a waste of skin and bone is all I say.”

“Hush Mike. Stop that. He’s in school with the girls…”

He stared down at the cold, rubbery dollar-store waffles. He wished there was syrup instead of jist brown sugar.

‘We won’t be in school tomorrow.’

 

©TDR – 2017