Neither my parents nor Martha Jane's mother were home that week. She slept with me for the first time. When I woke, earlier than usual, the morning sun was just above the rooftops of the buildings beyond mine. Dazzling shafts of sunlight rushed into the room. Water was running in the bathroom.
I knocked on the bathroom door and Martha Jane invited me in to take a bath with her.
I told her I'd love to. I walked into the bathroom and stood in front of the sink, looking at myself in the mirror.
She noticed me and said, "Do you spend every morning looking at yourself in the bathroom mirror?"
"I don't look any different," I said, observing the same old me in the mirror.
"Oh," she smirked, soaping her legs. "But how do you FEEL?"
I took in a deep breath, my shoulders back and my chest out, extended my arms far out at each side, and intoned as loudly as I could in my best, loudest, deepest, Texaco Opera Theater baritone, "Steeee-vennnnnn!". I beat my chest several times and grunted like a gorilla. Then going back to my operatic bellow, I sang from the famous aria from Barber of Seville: "Lala Lalala Lalala Lalala Lala...Figaro! Figaro! FigaroFigaro Feeee-gaa-ro!"
She said, "My, my! Were you, uh, referring to last night?"
"Veerry flattering." She stood and moved to one end of the tub to make room. "C'mon, let's wash the sleep off you."
I climbed in and she handed me the soap, but before I got started she held me close to her bubbly-slick nakedness and hugged me.
"You were asleep when I woke up," she said. "You're a wonderful lover." She kissed my forehead. After I soaped down she took the bar of soap from me and lathered her hands, then reached down to wash my cock.
She winked. "Remember this?"
"I never thought of using soap on you when we started all this. Of course, you're a lot bigger now."
She rinsed me and stepped out of the tub to dry off. She had chores to do that day, she said, but we had time for breakfast and a little talk. I saw a small blue bag in the corner of the room and asked, "That's all you bought over here with you?" She told me the blue bag was filled with enough spermacide and powders to lower the Indian birth rate. She blushed and said, "You put an awful lot of cum in me." After I fell asleep the night before, she had douched twice, and twice again before I came into the bath.
"Douched?" I asked.
"It's a long story, hon. Later." She blushed again.
Then I remembered reading about it. "Oh. You mean, 'cause we didn't use a rubber?"
She sighed impatiently. "Yes."
"I don't mind using one."
"No!" she said firmly, spreading jars of makeup on the edge of the sink. "And you just forget that those ugly things exist."
I asked, "Doesn't all that stuff make you sore or dry inside?"
"We can always apply some...lotion," she said, blushing again. I was amused at her modesty. After a night of raw passion, she blushed and avoided my eyes continually. She got into her bra, panties, and slip right away--a far cry from the way we started out a few years before. As I dried off I watched, fascinated and charmed at the sight of her putting on makeup.
"What are you staring at?"
I answered, "Watching you doing woman things."
She laughed mildly, dabbing at her face with powder. "I'm glad you find it so enjoyable. We women think it's just a pain in the neck."
"I like watching."
"How can you get such a thrill out of watching a female cover up what she really looks like so she can throw the wool over everyone's eyes?"
"I like watching women do woman things."
I paused. "I like watching you do woman things. It's not just watching. It's watching you."
"Speedy. You're a dear. Really."
"I'll fix breakfast," I said, hanging up my towel.
"You've added cooking to your many talents?"
"Sure," I said. "I've been hanging out in a restaurant for years."
"Well...I'll try anything once. Hope we live."
I was pretty noisy about it, but I managed to get the eggs sunny-side up and the toast looking just right in two plates on the small kitchen table. Out in the back yard I found a wild daisy and placed it in a small glass of water on the table. She entered the kitchen in her slip. "Wow," she said, "Look at this, picture perfect! You're being so nice to me. It looks beautiful. Is it edible?"
We ate and talked.
She told me about her schedule for the week. Just listening to what she had planned was exhausting. "I'm a work fiend," she confessed. "I feel guilty if I don't work myself to death every day." She told me about her classes, the kinds of projects she was doing, the problems she encountered with teaching in special education. I told her, "But you like it," and she nodded. "Yes," she said, chewing off a corner from a piece of toast, "not because I'm so dedicated, but because I'm so neurotic. I'm terrified of ever being poor like this again." I asked her more about what she did, about the people she met at school, about what college was like.
"The first thing you should know," she warned with a strong edge of sarcasm, "is that every professor at Memphis State is a Communist. And anyone who shows up expecting to actually learn anything is a pathetic egghead. All the girls are virgins, regardless of how many football players they've slept with." She went on with this litany of definitions, exaggerating each item and apparently having a good time doing so; but after a while I realized that she was actually defining herself as a hardworking, dedicated outsider.
She stopped at one point and looked at me hesitantly. "Speedy, would you...would you like to spend an afternoon with me and go to Memphis State? It's the holidays, but they're open--at least the library is. That probably doesn't sound very exciting, but--"
I breathed in amazement. "Really?"
"Do you want to?"
"That would be the best adventure I've had since Uncle Johnny let me spend two hours in the Bump 'em Cars at the fairgrounds."
"Yes, well, it does get a little like the Bump 'Em at exam time, but...don't get all worked up, now, it's not the biggest thrill I could think of for somebody as adventurous as you are."
"But," I said earnestly, "it's what you do."
She stared at me, taken aback.
I went on enthusiastically, "It's your...it's your world, like mine is in the movies and the plays. And yours is college and learning to be a teacher. Of course I want to see it."
She blinked and cleared her throat, propping her elbows on the table and folding her hands. "Speedy, do you know how many boys your age and older--much older--just want to spend an afternoon with me so they can get inside my pants?"
"Get inside your pants? Hm, that's a funny expression, I never heard that one before. You mean...to fuck?"
"I mean that's all they want to do."
"Don't they ever do anything else?"
"A lot of them, Speedy, no. Do you know what a tragedy it is in my life just to have an argument with some boy because I have work to do and I don't have time, just no time right away, right then, right now, to go out with them? They think I'll hop into bed with them to express my undying my gratitude for their taking me to a football game and watching them scream and guzzle beer and make fools of themselves."
"So," I said, tenuously, "...so do you do it?"
"Of course not. And then I don't hear from them for two weeks, or a month. Until they get horny again, and all of a sudden they develop this deep interest in what I'm doing with my life and my time."
I grimaced. "What shitheads."
"That's a very...apt description, hon."
"Apt?" I echoed.
"Yes, it means--"
"Don't tell me. I wanna look it up."
"I'll tell you what," she said, reaching across the table and taking my hand, "You go with me, say, Thursday afternoon, and I'll show you lots of things you can look up. Would you like that?"
We cleaned up a little, as I had left some record albums lying about, and Martha Jane made phone calls while she polished her shoes. Still in her slip, she went into the bedroom and started making the bed. When I went in there to help her we were almost finished when she asked me to sit on the bed and started undoing my jeans. I told her I thought she had to get dressed for her interviews, but she said we still had a little time and she could stay in her slip for now. "I've always been curious about something," she said, taking out my cock. "We still have some time before I go. I want to show you something about your body." Of course, I didn't object. With my legs hanging over the bed and Martha Jane kneeling before me, she licked and sucked me until I was hard and then she started fisting me quickly, her hands gliding smoothly up and down my shaft. Again I was startled to feel all the things that happened in my groin as I approached orgasm. She could tell I was close when I began throbbing erratically. As I neared cumming she took one of my hands and put it into my crotch under my balls. "Feel here, underneath," she said. "Keep your hand there. In a minute you'll feel your muscles jump." Sure enough, I could feel swelling and movement down there. Then she pulled down the straps of her slip and shoved the front of her bra below her breasts, and brought her bosom closer to my cock. As she fisted me she whispered, "I've always wondered what this feels like...c'mon, hon...c'mon..."
Soon I felt those secret muscles moving under my fingers, and I gasped frantically, "I'll get it on you!" but she grinned and said "It's okay, I can change...c'mon..."
As my eyelids drooped I lost focus, and though my resources were limited because of the night before, I started cumming. Encouraging me, she whispered, "C'mon...c'mon," and then "Oh!" as I gave her a tight little squirt on her left breast. She slowed and tightened her pumping and I squirted again in the same place and she was delighted. The rest streamed out thinly over her hand and made squishing noises while she finished me off.
I lay back on the bed, breathless. She stood and leaned over me, giggling. A drop of me ran down the swell of her breast and sneaked under the nipple. "Was that good?" she asked. "You getting used to cumming now?". I told her it was good, but it was still a little scary. She said, "Speedy, I can't imagine you being afraid of anything like that."
"No," I said, "not that kind of scary. It's just...it's different. It takes over, and it all happens at once."
"That's the way it's supposed to feel, hon." She walked to the bedside table, got a kleenex, and wiped off her breast. "But don't worry. You'll get accustomed to letting yourself go. I love watching you cum. I never thought I'd enjoy it so much, but you get so hard and it's so intense for you. I like that about you." She wadded up the kleenex and bent down to kiss me on the nose. "That's one of a lot of things I like about you."
She did not see me again until Thursday, three days later. Where she was for three days I didn't know. She called at least once a day, and on Wednesday morning she came clomping with her high heels and purse and Sunday best to see that I had not transformed the apartment into a Frankensteinean horror. Each night just as I climbed into bed she would phone from next door and ask how I was.
The phone rang Tuesday night around 9:30. I picked up.
"Hello," I began. "This is the Louvre. Wanna buy some French post cards?"
"Speedy, what if this had been someone else on the line?"
"I would say 'wrong number' and hang up."
"Did your mom and dad call today?"
"So how are they doing?"
"Sounded like she was having a good time."
"Just 'she'? What about your new daddy, didn't he have anything to say for himself?"
"He never talks to me."
"Now, that's mean. Maybe you just never talk to him."
"I don't think he knows how to use a telephone yet."
"Speedy, you must learn to like him. He's your daddy now."
"It feels funny talking to you on the phone and you're right next door. Are you gonna sleep over here?"
"...I can't, hon."
"Why, what's wrong?"
"I just...can't. I know it's silly, but I can't. I'll have to tell you all about it."
"You all tucked in bed?"
"Well, you go to sleep. And don't be afraid to call me if anything goes wrong, okay?"
"G'night, Miss Scarlett."
In later years, spending most of a vacation alone would not have been my first choice. But that week my mind seemed particularly alive and sensitive. Waking, walking about town, entering a movie and walking back out, and then strolling home, I followed the path of the rising, passing, and setting sun as I had never done before. In the late afternoon I made a sandwich, packing it and a wedge of cheese into my G.I. Joe mess kit, and defied the world by hiking all the way to the edge of Exchange Street, at the very zenith of the hill at the avenue's end, and sat on a bluff overlooking the river. Battle-hardened youth that I was after this gruelling six-block walk uphill, I ate from the kit and swigged heartily from my canteen filled with Nehi Grape Soda, and watched the sun go down on the flat, distant shore of Arkansas. The sky changed colors minute by minute, so gradually that it was always a surprise when I surveyed the horizon again to see how the silent panorama had repainted itself. Before dark it turned magenta, then intense purple, and finally black. As the sky dimmed, distant lights not seen in the sunlight became visible one by one. I wondered what might be out there. I wondered what it might be like not having to return home but to keep on going, straight, past those lights and onto new lights, new rivers, new bridges and towns.
What got me back home was not a strong desire to be there but to be in bed when Martha Jane called. The phone rang at exactly 9:30 and I picked up.
"Why, Martha Jane, you sound so clear on this wonderful invention, Mr. Bell's telephone, just as if you were right next door!"
"Silly. Were you a good boy today?"
"That's the spirit. Did your mother call?"
"Yes, they're fine. She called around supper time."
"They'll be back Friday, then. And next week you'll move out of the Lauderdale Courts forever. Won't that be great?"
"You don't sound so happy about it."
"Oh, you will be when you get there. And you'll have that wonderful room all to yourself instead of keeping your things in cardboard boxes in that closet."
"Oh, c'mon, you'll love it."
"I'll have different neighbors, though."
"...I'll have to talk to you about that...We'll have a nice talk all about that tomorrow. You still want to go with me to Memphis State?"
"I'm ready now."
"I'm over here with textbooks up to my nose, so I'll be up a while. But I'll still be up bright and early, so you better get your beauty sleep. You all tucked in bed?"
"I sure am, Miss Scarlett."
"You didn't leave a stinky sink full of dirty dishes, did you?"
"No'm, Miss Scarlett."
"...Are you mad at me for not being over there?"
"No'm, Miss Scarlett."
"Well...Okay. I'll be there at ten in the morning."
"Yes'm, Miss Scarlett."
"You be all ready to go."
"Yes,'m, Miss Scarlett."
"Stop it. G'night."
Late in the night I was standing in the middle of the universe and I had the sensation of getting larger and smaller at the same time, while the universe shrank and expanded at the same time, and the part of me that shrank was not getting small fast enough for the universe that was shrinking, and the part of me that was expanding was not expanding fast enough, and the part of the universe that was shrinking kept pulling my expanding self back into the part that was shrinking, and yet nothing was changing at all in any direction. As I tried to comprehend this a low-pitched hum grew louder, louder, and soon it was a deafening buzz that threatened to crush even my thought.
I woke up, literally poised to jump through the ceiling. I was gasping and sweating. I was not in bed, but standing in the pitch black hallway between the bedroom and living room. Apparently I had leapt from the bed in a single broad jump, as I vaguely remember being in the air just before I jerked to a halt.
In the kitchen I made a glass of ice water and brought it to the living room, where I sat in front of the Philco and turned it on. The pearlescent eye of the green tuning tube glowed and stared at me. I picked up static. Trying to relax, I listened. After a minute I heard a voice in there. I could not hear the words. Concentrating on it took my mind off the nightmare and the eerie panic that crept into me when I remembered it.
This was a dream I'd had before, perhaps a year earlier. I never told anyone about it; I didn't know how to describe it. Back in bed, I removed my underwear and moved to the bed to be naked under the moonlight. Lying on by back, I spread my legs and looked at my growing, lean, surprisingly strong-looking young body. I tried to remember what cumming felt like. It was unimaginable while it was happening, and so it was when I tried to recall it. A small machine whirred inside my chest, urging me to do something; like the voice in the static, my brain could not understand what the machine was saying. I gazed past the moonlight and out into the city. Out there, awake, all the things I wanted to do were waiting.
A cricket chirped. I heard the sugary spring Southern night air glide past the window and felt me and the yard and the tree and Martha Jane next door and our little patch of earth turning slowly together in the universe. As fell asleep again I imagined I could feel the morning approaching us.
Thursday was overcast and chilly. Martha Jane and I made a long trip over two local bus lines to the campus of Memphis State, which was farther out than I had ever gone in my explorations. When we arrived I was both excited and apprehensive. There was so much to it! Surrounded by a well-to-do suburb and even a few estates, the campus of several Georgian buildings and dormitories spread over a rustic landscape that alternated between broad green pasture and heavily forested alcoves of pine, maple, oak and magnolia.
I'm certain I must have seemed like a spellbound infant. Tongue-tied, I stayed at her side like a puppy as Martha Jane, one arm carrying a shopping bag loaded with books and notebooks, led me down the long rambling drive toward the main library. I spent so much time looking up and stretching my neck to take in everything that I tripped over every curb and twig along the way. Martha Jane finally had to lead me by the hand. At the library's columned entrance I ran to the door and tried to yank it open for her. Surprised by its weight, I was jerked back against the door and had to lean far backward to open it again.
She laughed, "Don't be in such a hurry."
Inside, I was overcome by the solemnity and silence in the large and spacious building, which was far more imposing than the small branch library I knew in my neighborhood. Martha Jane walked ahead of me to the front reception desk. I followed, my neck craning and my eyes agape at the high walls solid with shelves and books. My tennis shoes squeaked softly on the tile floor and echoed into the ceiling. I was so flabbergasted that I walked right into her as she stopped to have the receptionist check her bag. I shifted to avoid standing on her feet, apologizing so loudly that my voice shot back at me several times over, startling me, and I had to lower my volume. Turning around and trying to take it all in, I took a step or two in each direction to try to see down the paths of shelves and oak tables to my left and right, only to stumble backward with a loud clunk into the face of the reception desk.
Martha Jane said quickly to the receptionist, "He's going to be with me. He's not a student or anything, he doesn't have an i.d.--"
The bespeckled, matronly woman smiled at Martha Jane and handed her back the shopping bag of notebooks. The lady looked exactly the way I had always imagined librarians would look.
"That's perfectly all right," the woman said warmly, and she peered down at me cheerfully through her bifocals. "Well, young man, this must be your first visit."
Martha Jane laughed and blushed. "Yes, it is. I'm afraid he doesn't have his bearings yet. Bumping into everything..."
"Oh, don't you worry, he'll find his way around. You enjoy yourself, young man. If you're interested, there is a child's section right over there in that far corner just past the card catalog cabinet."
I asked, "Where do you have the newspaper stacks? I guess I'll start with The New York Times Index? Do you have it back to the 1920's?"
She looked at me and then at Martha Jane, a little surprised.
Martha Jane grinned at her. "He likes newspapers."
"Oh, how interesting. He's your son, is he? Oh, I'm sorry, you certainly don't look that old. Your brother?"
"No, he's my..."
"Student," I interjected, somewhat formally. Behind me, out of the lady's sight, I felt Martha Jane poke a finger in my back.
"Oh, I see. How nice, bringing your students to the library in person, that's a wonderful idea. Well, now, you get settled and then come back here and I'll show you to the periodical stacks."
"Thank you," I said, and Martha Jane also whispered a thank you and led me by the hand into a small alcove with a large writing desk upon which she parked her shopping bag. She smiled wryly at me as she removed her sweater. "You're my what? My student?"
"It had a certain status."
She blushed. "I'm glad you spoke up. I had to stop myself because I almost said you were my boyfriend. I'm certain she would have got a rise out of that."
I smiled broadly.
"Now, you've been in libraries before, so you know what the general setup is. I'll be working right here if you need anything, or anybody at the big front desk can help you."
She left me on my own. A young woman at the front desk gave me a brochure with a map of the building and directed me to the card catalog filing cabinet. On first seeing it I was taken aback. So many drawers! And in each drawer were hundreds of index cards, some packed so tightly they had to be shoved back firmly to be read. I didn't know where to begin. There were so many choices. The problem was, I wanted to see everything at once. Going through them became stultifying after a while; I wanted something more substan- tial, something I could hold in my hands.
Leaving the card catalog as a hopeless case of too much to absorb at once, I moved to the stacks themselves. Looking over the titles, I couldn't imagine how any book or index or subject might be missing from this building. Following the map, I took the elevator to the next floor and found myself confronted with hundreds of shelves, thousands of books. The musk of paper filled the room. And on the next floor I encountered the same odor, and the same endless maze of stacks and shelves and labels and volumes. On the elevator again, to yet another floor of the same thing. And from there, a curled iron stairway leading to still more, and then to another wing of more floors, more tiers of books. I grappled with one thick book that almost pulled me to the floor as it slid from its shelf. It was a weighty volume of nineteenth century photographs. Opening its large pages separated by translucent tissues which themselves had chipped and yellowed, I found myself in the grip of an eerie fascination with the faces of the people in the pictures. Starkly and stiffly posed, their eyes seemed alive and knowing--a strange and hair-raising sensation, because these people had posed for the photographs in the 1870's. There were long shots of tailcoated, booted men in front of banks and post offices and on street corners. And there were pictures of the streets. New York City in 1876. An interior of a fancy restaurant, the shot taken so that the tall windows lined up along the right and rays of sunlight drenched the floor and the tables, leaving the corners of the room deep in shadow. I could smell the wood frames of the windows, hear the photographer prompting carefully as he held the shutter open for the long exposures required in those days. The streets and the buildings and the rooms struck me as being oddly familiar; I was not surprised at seeing them, and felt that I was seeing nothing new. Everything seemed to be exactly in its proper place. The surprise was my knowing that it was so, that I had seen these buildings and their arched windows and tall shadowed doorways before.
A rustle of clothing startled me. I looked up. Martha Jane was strolling toward me. I had been studying the book so closely that my eyes watered and the back of my neck was cramped.
"You've been gone for hours," she said. "I looked everywhere for you. Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"I'm sorry," I stuttered, finding my mouth dry.
"Find anything interesting?"
"This," I said, holding the book open with both hands. I touched my fingers to a full-page photograph of 4th Avenue, in downtown Manhattan, taken in 1881.
She looked at it. "What about it?"
"I've..." I was startled as the words came out of my mouth, almost on their own accord. "I've been here."
"Here? You've been on this street before?"
"Speedy, this is...Hon, this street is in New York City. The picture was made sixty or seventy years ago. Maybe it reminds you of Adams Street in Memphis. It looks a lot like it."
I shook my head slowly, not believing it myself. "No," I muttered. "I mean it feels like...I was here, on this street. This street."
"You mean, like deja vu. You know about deja vu?"
"Yes. I remember looking it up. This is what deja vu is?"
Standing beside me, she gazed into the picture. I saw her eyelashes flutter as she scanned the page from corner to corner. I felt embarrassed. It was true: the photograph was from another century, from a place I'd never seen.
She looked into my eyes with her piercing blue-green orbs floating in white. "You feel you were there? Really?"
"I've had feelings like that too, hon."
Her words both astounded and intrigued me. For a moment both of us stared at the photograph.
Then she said, "Come with me. I want to show you something."
She led me down the iron staircase and then down another, to a floor of magazine stacks and dozens of metal shelves piled with loose papers and brochures. She took me to a corner where her hand went straight to an enamel-backed issue of a National Geographic.
"Look at this," she said mysteriously, and flipping the pages along her thumb she seemed to know exactly the page she wanted and found it right away. She held the magazine open and motioned for me to take it. "Look," she said quietly.
It was a grayed, gold-bordered monochrome photograph. The woman was in a shawl and held a child wrapped so heavily that only part of its forehead could be seen. In the background was what appeared to be a desert. The picture was taken from the knees up. The woman wore what looked like a light gray (pale blue? pale yellow?) heavy shift tightly girdled at the waist with a white cord. The folds and shadows of the loose garment revealed that she was slim and delicate. Looking suspiciously toward the camera, her bright eyes projected a strange mixture of fear and concern. Her left arm cradled the child closely; but her right was extended across the front of the child's wrapped body, facing the camera, and the sleeve of her garment fell back to reveal her long, slender white arm with her fingers spread around the child's covered head.
She breathed, "It's me."
And as I continued studying the woman, who did not look like Martha Jane except for her remarkable eyes, Martha Jane stretched her right hand across the page and spread her fingers in the same pose that was in the picture. I was silent, numbed. Their arms and hands looked alike.
She mused aloud, "There's probably nothing to any of it. It's just a feeling I have when I see this picture. I've looked at it hundreds of times. But always, I get the same feeling. I've seen that desert. And those mountains back there on the landscape." She sighed, taking the magazine from me. "Or maybe I'm just going crazy or..." She jammed the magazine back in its place and added soberly, "...maybe I just take myself too seriously."
I felt giddy at the prospect that I wasn't the only creature in the world who had otherworldly sensations. Martha Jane reinforced that when she said, "Speedy, I hope you don't think I'm just weird, but I feel those things all the time."
I said earnestly. "I feel the same way sometimes."
As she led me out of the room she confided, "Speedy, you're the only person in the world I could have shared that with."
"What do you think it means that we both feel those strange things?"
She put a finger to her lips and whispered mischievously, "Shh. It means we're both crazy."
I whispered back, "I won't let the lady at the front desk know."
"Come on, let's go to the cafeteria before they close and get a late lunch. I'll introduce you to the wonderful world of institu- tional food."
The cafeteria was closing when we arrived, so we picked out cold sandwiches and cokes in plastic cups and went outside to sit on the massive steps of the administration building. From there most of the campus spread before us, as far as we could see, into a dense wood beyond a grove of magnolias. A chill, early spring wind picked up and rustled the stiff leaves of the magnolias. Some sparrows and mockingbirds hopped around us and we pitched them the crumbs that were left from our lunch. Martha Jane was finishing the last of her coffee, which she referred to as "college soup."
"Horrible stuff," she said, sipping. "It's addictive. Ruins your tummy. Gives you insomnia."
"Why do you drink it?" I asked.
"Because it's oh so necessary, hon. When you get into college you'll find out how very very needed it is. I was falling asleep taking those notes in the library. Sometimes you think you'll go into a coma, but you just keep on working."
She finished the coffee and sat one step lower than me, her knees raised and her head propped on them. She looked up at me sideways.
"You're finally leaving the project. I'd give anything to be leaving, though I know I will someday, not long from now. My mother's dating now. She met a very nice man in the office supply business. He has a beautiful home right out there, near where you'll be living with your mom and your dad. He's in a richer neighborhood, so I know it's not quite the same, but...it'll be yours, and you'll have your own place. You're way too old to be living in a closet, you have too many interests. I should think you'd be very happy about all that. But you're not."
I shook my head. I pinched a small piece off the remains of my sandwich and pitched it to a lone mockingbird a few steps below.
"Why not?" she asked gently.
I didn't respond, holding back the real answer. Finally I just shrugged.
"Is it because I won't be your neighbor anymore?"
"Speedy, that's very nice. But you can't give up everything just to live next door to me. I'm hardly there anymore, anyway. And when I can, I'll be moving away again. Then what would you do?"
"Well...I'll stay in the project until you move again."
"And then what?"
"And then what?" she repeated.
"I don't know."
"Speedy, listen to me--"
I tried to remain casual. Stubbornly I said, "You're my friend."
"I know, hon, but both of us have to get out of that place sooner or later. Both of us need homes, not just a hole in a wall."
"You're my friend," I said again, offering another crumb to the white-trimmed mockingbird, who chased greedily after it.
"I know, but you'll have other friends. A whole neighborhood full of them, not like those rough kids downtown."
"You're my friend," I said again, stubbornly, and pitched another crumb.
"And you'll be in high school before long, at Christian Brothers, and there's so many smart kids there just like you--"
"Don't make me cry!" I demanded, crying and then choking it back in the same instant--but not soon enough to stifle the single tear that dripped down my face. My nose ran and I sniffed loudly.
"Honey!" she whispered in amazement. "Here..." She produced a kleenex from her sweater pocket and reached up toward my face.
But I took it from her. "No!" I said stubbornly, and wiped my nose. "No, I won't cry. I will...not...cry. I'm too old to cry. I don't have any business crying."
She started to rise but I put my hand on her shoulder, so she moved up only one step and was sitting next to me.
"Baby," she crooned, "you've been holding this back from me for a long time, haven't you?"
"There's nothing to hold back. You're my friend. That's all. I've lost friends before. And I've liked people who didn't like me. And you told me things you didn't like about people and how much work you're doing and how you can't spend all your time with them. I know you have to leave the place. I know you want a home. This week I went down to the river front and watched the sun, and I saw the whole world in front of me and I wondered how big it was, how much of it is out there and how much I had to do. How much I had to learn. It's your world, too. I know you'll leave, or I'll leave. And I'd never try to stop you. I'd never try to take that away from you and I'd never blame you, like I did last time. 'Cause I know it's not because of me, it's because of what you have to do, it's what you want. And because--"
I blew my nose hard, once and for all. "Because I know you don't like schmucks, and I don't wanna be a schmuck!"
I would not look at her. I could feel her looking across at me, leaning toward me. "I don't have to actually *like* leaving my friend on the other side of town, do I?" I complained. "I don't have to be a schmuck, but I don't have to like it either."
For a long minute she didn't say anything, and I refused to let her see my face until I felt I was totally in control again.
I felt her arm go around my shoulder. She put her cheek to mine for a second then pulled away from me. "Look at me," she said. When I hesitated she said, "Look at me, hon."
I turned to her and she had her teeth and jaw set in a playful, mock-tough, happy little smile. She said, "C'mere" and put both arms loosely around my neck and pulled me to her slightly so that our foreheads were touched.
"Hey, bud, answer one question."
"Did you mean everything you just said?"
"You didn't just get it from some movie somewhere?"
"Hey, lady...This ain't Hollywood."
"Speedy...Steven...don't ever let me call you a little boy again. Don't even let me think it. If you catch me doing it, remind me of today. Promise?"
"I've got a proposition for you, Mister Ricci."
"Yeeeahh...We still going to the movies tonight?"
"If you want."
"Yeah, I want, but after that...I want you to spend the night with me."
She stuck her tongue out, far out, and licked my nose.
I wiped it off with the kleenex. "What if my folks come home early or something? Tomorrow's Friday."
"Then we'll stay up and keep watch."
"You don't have to. Stay with me, I mean."
"Yes I do, hon. Yes I do."
That night we walked through light drizzle all the way to the Warner's on Main Street and saw "The High and the Mighty." The minute the film was over, I knew I'd go back to see it again and again.
"Oh, my," Martha Jane said as we rose from our seats to leave. "That was pretty schmaltzy, wasn't it?"
"Yeah, it was. Schmaltzy. That's what makes a great movie."
"You just say that because John Wayne was in it and he saved the airplane."
"But that's what schmaltz is," I insisted.
We had been sitting near the screen. As we turned to go out, we were confronted with a thick crowd moving at a snail's pace.
"It'll take forever to get out of here, Speedy."
"Don't worry. Follow me." I led her on a detour down one of the side aisles where I pushed down the handle on a black-painted door that was difficult to see. It opened into an empty alley that led to the main street.
She said, "Hey, I'm glad I decided to bring you with me."
Outside, the drizzle had grown into light rain. I walked out into it. "It's like Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain", I said, holding out my arms.
"You won't start tap dancing, will you? Speedy, get under the umbrella with me. You'll get soaked."
I walked ahead of her. "But I want to. It's drama, it's Hollywood. It's schmaltz."
I stayed ahead of her, getting wetter by the minute. Now and then I'd look back at her, a few yards behind me under her um- brella. "Come on, Scarlett! Where's your sense of adventure?"
"It's right here under my umbrella."
A man in a rain coat and rainhat passed me on the sidewalk going the other way. He looked at me, and I gave him a silly smile. Then he looked at Martha Jane behind me, who strained to give him a perfectly normal smile.
She called out to me, "People are staring at youuuu."
"Martha Jane, honey," I said cockily. "This is my night. I just got that feelin', baby. It's like...like money from home. Like, nothin' can stop me now."
"Pneumonia will stop you. Hon, you've seen too many movies."
"Look!" I exclaimed, and stopped short. I pointed across the street at the Memphis Light, Gas and Water office building. Built in the 1920's, it was famous for its thousands of 60-watt electric bulbs that lined the frontage and the entrance marquis. Onto the sidewalk they cast a strong yellow light that shimmered in the rain and glowed as brightly as the bulbs themselves. "Look at that! It looks just like the ending of the movie tonight. Remember John Wayne whistling at the end, and walking down the sidewalk with all the yellow lights?"
She looked at me sternly and said, "No."
"C'mon, let's walk in the yellow light."
"Get under the umbrella," she said, harder now.
"But what's wrong with me doin' it myself?"
"Because," she said, louder and upset now, "I'm wearing a wool sweater and it'll get wet and ruined and I can't afford another one! Now get under here with me and stop making me so angry with you!"
Surprised, I walked to her. She scowled angrily and started walking toward home. For a tense moment we didn't say anything. I took the umbrella, offering to hold it for her, and she smiled tightly and said, "Thank you, you're a gentleman," and we walked under the umbrella together. I looked at her. She looked straight ahead and wouldn't look at me. After a minute she took my arm and put hers through it.
"It wasn't you," she said. "It was me. Some things just remind me that I'm poor. I've worked so hard. And I wear the same sweater for six years, and the same shoes, and borrow clothes from more fortunate girls with more money so I can look for work. And all I do is work and I'm still not out of it. And I don't have a job and I looked for one all week. But I won't quit school to take a full-time job. I applied for a job yesterday and the guy, the boss, he had me in his office talking to me and he started telling me about how demanding the job was, how there was all this clerical work and he said I could have it but I'd probably have to cut some of my classes if I wanted the work because it took so-and-so many hours a week. Well...I told him there was no chance I'd quit any of my classes, and he said, well, he could make a little deal. A little deal, he said. There would be a little something extra, after hours, and he could pay me for it. He could pay me a lot for it, he said. And the way he was looking at me...He knew I was desperate. He could tell I needed the job. So he was going to make me a little deal. A little after hours deal. Oh, Speedy, sometimes I hate being pretty. I hate being trapped. Evelyn's getting successful now, people are finding out how good she is at her job, and when a man looks at her like that and wants to make a little deal she can just tell him to shove it. I can't do that yet. I can't say that without losing out. So I passed it up. I told him thanks but no thanks. And I walked out. But I didn't want to say thanks -- I wanted to say 'shove it, mister'. I didn't even get that much satisfaction out of it. All I could do was walk away from it and just forget about it."
I didn't know what to say, so I walked with her silently and put my hand on the arm she had locked in mine.
"I'm getting too desperate. I want it too much. I have to stop wanting it so much. You were having such a good time and I don't often see you feeling that good. I didn't mean to stop you. I might have even been...a little jealous, seeing you let go and watching you say 'screw you' to the world."
She simmered down and walked silently for a moment.
"Hey," I said. "I've got a Hank Williams album at home my Aunt Frances bought me."
She smirked at me. "Well, you certainly know how to change the subject, don't you? You don't fool around."
I shrugged. "I guess you said what you wanted to say."
She hugged me. "You know something? You're a pretty cool guy. I kinda like you."
I winked at her.
She winked back. "So, you want to play Hank Williams and turn out the lights and watch the rain?"
"You, uh, wanna do it nekkid?"
I looked at her, then cleared my throat. I blushed.
"What's wrong?" she asked. "Oh, don't tell me I embarrassed you! Oh my lord, you have to be kidding! "
"I kinda thought, after the story you just told me..."
"I was talking about a greaser who was taking advantage of me and girls like me. He had an office full of them, all practically the same age. I wasn't talking about you. You're different. We're different. You know that."
I shook my head. "Maybe I'm too young. Sometimes girls are, uh, verrry mysterious."
"You don't seem to have a problem understanding me...most of the time."
"Most of the time," I said.
"Okay. We'll go home. Turn out the lights. Play Hank Williams. Get nekkid. And I'll tell you all you want to know about 'us girls'."
"Deal," I said.
Sometime later, Martha Jane and I lay nude together in her apartment, listening to the rain patter against her bedroom window. The Hank Williams album had long since been played and replayed, and she had explained to me a great deal about women, and different kinds of women, and girls, and the way she thought about sex and boys when she was my own age. Then she wanted to know about boys; specifically, she wanted to know about me; and more specifically she wanted to know exactly what it was I liked best when she sucked me, and after I told her she did it exactly that way. She did it so well that I began feeling the now-familiar tightening and the pleasure pangs and the lusty itch and told her I was starting to cum and that she had to be careful because I was going to cum in her mouth if she didn't stop. Rather than stop, she kept sucking with a sweet vengeance until she felt the first spurt. Then she slowed, tanta- lizing me, and in my dim state of consciousness as I emptied my bag of cum into her mouth I heard her gulp and swallow until I fell back and lay still. With her hands and lips she drained all of me into her and then lay beside me while I recovered.
"So," she said, "now you know another way to cum."
"I didn't think you wanted to swallow it."
"Some girls don't. I never sucked that boyfriend I told you about. But I wanted to now because it was you. Your cum."
"Oh, yeah," I murmured, "your boyfriend."
"Don't be jealous, hon, I don't see him anymore."
"Did you and him...?"
"Yes. Not very often. And I made him use a rubber, and I hated it." She laid a gentle hand on my arm. "Don't worry about him. It wasn't at all the way it is with you and me. And I love your dick without a rubber, it feels good inside me and it tastes good sucking you."
"I thought I was finished cummin', but when I heard you swallow I sort of starting all over again."
"Is that what it was? I thought it ended, too, and then you squirted more."
Not to be outdone, I told her there was still more I wanted to know about women. Specifically, about her. Specifically, about her most pleasurable spots and how she liked being licked. Another half hour went by as she spread her legs and educated me in the details of her nipples and tummy and thighs and cunt. She was much better at explaining the technical details than I was at explaining my own, though at one point she had to make me stop. I asked her why and she said, "It's so intense, I thought I was going crazy. Hon, you're getting so terribly good at this!" After she rested she asked me to keep going and explained more to me, although at times she was so breathless I had trouble understanding her. Eventually her sentences made very little sense and she stiffened and quivered with a long cum.
She explained the differences between how it felt when I made her cum manually or orally, and how her outer lips were especially sensitive right after she came, so since I was hard I entered her and we started fucking slowly and she told me how wonderful it felt to fuck after she had just cum. She asked if it felt different for me, now that I'd already cum once, and I said it felt more sensitive but that I also felt more in control. So we practiced learning how we could tell when either of us would start cumming and how to stop it but keep the pleasure going until we were ready to start again. Both of us started a long climb that took us to an edge where we didn't want to stop and couldn't, and I started squirting in her when she was in the middle of her cum and her contractions milked me so thoroughly that I didn't want to move when it was over. For a long time we held each other until she said she had to get her little blue bag and go in the bathroom. This time I didn't mention rubbers, knowing how much she disliked them.
When she came out she said she was okay and asked if I wanted to fuck again. It took a while to harden me, which she did with her mouth and then by putting me half-hard inside her and moving under me. Less urgent and hysterical now, we were both almost clinical as we talked and excited each other. When I was hard enough I screwed her the way she told me she liked, bringing her to an edge and then changing my movements to slow her down, until finally she said she wanted to cum, so I moved in her the way she wanted and didn't stop until she came. I let her rest a minute and started again, keeping her on the edge, and finally she came again and almost fainted. I was thoroughly drained by then and didn't cum, though I was close a few times and highly sensitized. At that point I needed rest more than I needed another orgasm.
For a while we talked sleepily, listening to the rain that still slopped outside the window. She put her head on my chest and I found out how to massage her temples with my thumbs. I caressed her that way until I knew she was asleep. Watching her doze on me was a marvel. Filled with tenderness, I continued stroking and touching her, finding the exact shape of her gentle shoulders and her back, playing in her hair, learning the wonder of the hollows and curves of her trim waist and flared hips. Her deep and steady breathing became my music for the night, along with the waning rain. I didn't want to fall asleep right away. I wanted to keep holding her and listening. I wanted the night to go on. I considered staying awake all night and would not allow myself to fall asleep; this would make the night last longer, I reasoned, and by morning it wouldn't matter.
But I was asleep before I knew it. I found myself in the middle of the universe again. I was floating. Somewhere in the distance I heard the hum, almost imperceptibly, and I thought this time I would wake up and pay attention and I would know what it was. But then the dark that had no shape began changing and not changing shape and I thought: no no here it comes again --
I was standing in her kitchen. Panting. I gulped, trying to figure out how I got there. Behind me I heard her bare feet running toward the room. She whispered frantically, "Where are you? Speedy, where did you go?"
Turning, I saw her arrive in the doorway, and then she came toward me quickly. I stumbled to her and as soon as I felt her nakedness against me I clasped her tightly and wanted to disappear into her breasts.
"Sweetheart, what's wrong? You almost knocked me off the bed, you jumped out and ran so fast! I never saw anyone run so fast!"
"I dreamed this before," I gasped.
"Of course you were dreaming, hon, of course. Are you okay now?"
"I dreamed this before," I repeated, I held more tightly. One hand at her back, my other held her by her smoothly globed buttocks and pressed her into me voraciously. She reciprocated and writhed into me. Her pliant body fit into me as if her flesh and bones were part of mine. My cock was incredibly hard against her pubic hair.
"Hon, your heart's beating so fast! What's wrong?"
"I had this dream before," was all I could say. I let go of her and pulled her by the hand and led her back into the bedroom. "I'm okay, I'm...waking up. I'm okay." Still holding her hand I gestured for her to climb in, and when she was in the bed on her back I pulled her knees wide and opened her legs and fell on her, clasping her as tightly as before, my face in her neck, mashing her tight breasts against me. Frantically, realizing I had little control over what I was doing and that it may have been part of the dream, I searched for her with my cock, which was painfully erect.
"You want me hon?" she asked. "Want me? Wait...let me get wet." She licked her palm and I felt her rub herself with it but I knew that wouldn't make her wet enough so I scooted down and licked her--slowly, thinking that she'd get naturally wetter if I did it the way she liked, and after only a few seconds she said, "Good, hon. Hurry inside me."
I moved up again, quickly, lunging with my cock and missing. Her hand helped, and I went straight in. Doing something I had never done before and had never thought of doing, I put my hands under her butt and hid my face in her neck and fucked her rapidly, deeply, hungrily. She said "Yes, hon, it's good, it's good," and right away I came. It was not a long or a very wet cum, but it was blindingly intense and as always she milked me with her cunt when she felt me throb in her.
Then I simply lay gasping on her, afraid to let go, amazed at how I had just fucked her so thoroughly and completely and quickly. She caressed my neck and back.
"What was wrong?" she whispered.
"I don't know what it is," I moaned into her neck.
"But what did you dream, hon?"
"I don't know what it is," I said again.
"Are you okay now?"
"Yes. I came in you. You'd better go in the bathroom." I started to move for her, but she stopped me.
"No. Not until you're asleep again."
"I'm okay, go ahead."
"Shhh. I won't leave you in here alone." She put a hand on my back and one on my rear and pressed me into the pliant, warm, clinging length of her and squeezed her cunt on me. Then she rested and held me.
I more than slept: I fell unconscious. I woke much later as the birds were just beginning to sing in the dark. Their song meant the sun would rise soon. The rain had stopped. Martha Jane lay next to me on her side, one arm around my waist. Her face was toward mine, eyes closed, lips softly parted, hair splayed on the pillow. I kissed her cheek very lightly, not wanting to disturb her. Faintly I could smell her body on me and felt her dried moisture between my legs. I put my hand on her waist and slept again.
In the morning we woke and bathed together and I made breakfast again. As we ate I was unable to explain my dream to her, though I tried. She got dressed and went to the supermarket and I went to my apartment and got my bed ready for her. Late in the morning she returned and we got back into bed, this time at my place. She grinned as we embraced and said, "We owe the old place one more try before you're gone." I was still a little tired and she wanted to talk about my dream, but I stopped her by fingerfucking her until she had a prolonged orgasm during which her hot and frantic whispers never stopped. Then she was very tired, and we rested and made lunch, then got back into bed and napped for half an hour. We got up and bathed again. Though still tired, I asked if we could fuck again and she smiled and led me back to bed. Languidly she lay back with her thighs spread flat and watched me as I steadily fucked her. I wanted to learn more about how I could tell I'd be cumming. I stroked lazily in her until I tired again, but I still didn't cum. She moved me to the edge of the bed and lay on top of me, moving gently on me, first in circles for a while and then up and down until she was tired as well. Having her on top left me more rested and very erect and horny, so I moved her to her back on the edge of the bed and with her legs dangling to the floor I stood between her thighs and found the bed just high enough to let me stand and enter her deeply.
She lay restfully and looked down to watch, one hand behind her head and the other stroking the exposed part of my shaft. I stood between her outstretched legs, marveling at how the skin of her inner thighs now had a tight, athletic tone and flesh that whispered faintly as I stood and pistoned gently in her snug wetness and watched her subtly arch her mound up and down. Finally, almost out of breath, I could feel my shaft start twitching.
She asked, "Are you close?"
"Wait," she said, smiling devilishly. She held my hips to make me stop thrusting and then she sat up a little, saying "I've always wanted to do this." Biting her lip girlishly, she looked into my eyes and held my half-immersed shaft with one hand and with her other fingers she pressed the muscles under my balls.
"Cum in me this way, hon," she said. "Let me jack you off into me." With that, she began gently but quickly masturbating me with half my cock in her.
All I could do was throw my head back and moan.
Her breasts jiggled as she swiftly but neatly jacked me off with three slender fingers while rapturously studying my face.
"Oh, I"m...Oh, it's so close!"
"hon...I can't believe how wonderfully wicked this feels."
She jacked me some more, not strongly, just enough to carry me along an almost painfully slow, irresistible glide into a long and libidinous cum, which finally arrived with a smashing wave of sensation at the tip of my cock where the wet ring of her outer lips held me and warmly, subtly clung; my knees weakened and bent, and uncontrollably I leaned back with my cock and hips extended toward her, my tummy tightening. I watched helplessly as my knees moved out and spread my thighs lewdly; and with a jerk of my hips a blob of cum shot out of me like a bullet.
She felt it pulse along my shaft.
"There, baby, theeerrrr...mmm, you're cummin' so good...MMM!" She beamed up at me, surprise and lust flooding her face. She gently squeezed my balls. "I feel it," she murmured glutton- ously, highly satisfied with herself. She watched my cock and continued draining me. "This is so good."
Soon she could tell from my glazed eyes and the weakening of my throbs that I had peaked, so she slowed her smooth squeezing and stroked my chest as I finished.
Then I collapsed on her. I was emptied, and completely out of breath.
She gave a low chuckle as I rested, still standing but bent over her with my face in her neck as she lay on the bed with her legs hanging over the side.
She said, "Hey, you animal, you really liked that, didn't you?"
I nodded, struggling to get my breath.
She chuckled again, contentedly. "Oh my, so did I. I was so surprised at myself!"
I panted into her neck, "You always...make it feel so good."
She whispered, "Yes, and I want to, because you make it good for me. You always do--it's like a fuck fantasy come true. It's very special, the way we please each other, the way you always seem to just...know."
I craned my neck and gave her a long kiss on the cheek.
By that afternoon, when we started straightening up for the return of our relatives, both of us were saying we probably wouldn't want to have another orgasm for months.
Of course, we were both wrong about that.