a Short Story by Kellis
Why is she sniffing his crotch? … Holy shit, she’s sucking his dick!
Those were my first and second thoughts when I first saw them.
I was testing my theory that you could sail between the Harmon Rocks and cut off ten miles to reach my father’s marina from the open sound, if you arrived at the rocks on high tide, while no tidal current flowed between them. I knew it had to be done just right. The northern rocks were low and wouldn’t block the wind to my little cat rig, so I had to approach on the port tack into the daytime offshore breeze and come about right in the channel between the rocks so as not to enter the doldrum inshore of the southern rocks, which reared up taller than my mast.
I was pinching Bitsy as close as I dared, watching my clearances as she nosed into the channel, about 50 feet wide at high tide. At low tide you could wade across it, and I had done so. The southern rock was approachable by car or even bicycle, and I had checked out the channel just two days earlier. That rock was high on the outside facing the open sound but formed a little hollow on the inside that you couldn’t see into from the water until you had nosed into the channel. Anyone who happened to be in that hollow couldn’t see out over the sound, either. And nothing that moves is quieter than a sailboat.
Of course that’s where they were. I couldn’t miss them. When I saw them they were less than 30 feet away. They had spread a red tartan blanket over the sand in the hollow. The man was lying on his back. Because of the shielding rock his head was not at first visible to me. The woman was kneeling at his midsection, turned toward the channel, her face down with almost his entire dick in her mouth. His hand was squeezing her tit. She seemed to be frozen, but his heels were thumping up and down as if he was wanting to run. I could hear him groaning.
Bitsy is not very fast when she is pointed up almost to luff. I was able to stare at them for three or four seconds, I guess, before I had to put the tiller over and haul in on the mainsheet. The sail luffed with a distinct flapping sound. They heard that. At least the woman did.
She jerked her head up. She could hardly miss my orange sail maybe 20 feet in front of her. Her mouth was already open. She made a choking sound as her eyes grew nearly as large. A white spurt shot out of the dick end onto her cheek and right into her wide open eye.
I had never seen her naked or with such an expression, certainly not with a come streak from eye to chin, but I knew her and she knew me. She was Bill Collier’s step-mother, who had fed him and me breakfast just last Friday morning, who had pressed me into her tits and bandaged my thumb when I smacked it helping them board up for the last hurricane. Bill Collier was as close to a best-friend as any I had.
“Don’t quit now!” the man demanded in anguish. The woman’s response was a cough. White phlegm ran over her lower lip to her chin.
Bitsy heeled on her new course. I automatically trimmed sail and tiller, twisting around on the thwart to see what the couple would do next.
The man raised up. “Damn it, Clara …” He saw my boat. His eyes widened. I knew him, too: Mr. Calvin, the banker, whose son, Algis, was my life-long enemy. Algis had lost the last dinghy race to me, mainly because he counted on his boat being ten times more expensive. But it takes more than money to win races.
Away from the rocks the wind picked up. I eased off a point and Bitsy leapt ahead. On the southern rock the woman was having a full-blown coughing fit. The man was pounding her naked back, making her big titties bounce, and staring after me.
Why was Bill’s stepmother sucking old man Calvin’s dick? My dick was available if she wanted to suck one! Suddenly I felt heat in my temples, a curious heat I last experienced the year before when my centerboard fell out and Algis beat me in the race. I was jealous of Mr. Calvin, I realized. That thought immediately amused me. What right did I have to be jealous that the wife of Mr. Collier, whom I also liked, was giving her favors to another man?
But why was she doing it for the father of my enemy? Presumably she had her reasons. Did the Colliers need a loan, maybe?
One thing was for sure: it was none of my business. I turned around on the thwart and picked a landmark to steer by. When I came back to the port tack five minutes later, the hollow in the southern rocks was empty.
So I proved my point: you can sail a catboat through Harmon Rocks at high tide. But don’t take your little sister.
* * * *
It was summer. Bill was away visiting his real mother for the month. I reflected briefly on the fact that his father having custody meant that his mother had probably cheated, too. But if the Colliers needed to persuade Calvin to approve a loan, then the father had to be party to this cheating — which in that case wouldn’t be cheating. Or would it be cheating the bank? I shook my head. At 15 I didn’t intend to worry about such matters. Patricia, whose mother waited tables in the marina, had let me feel of her tit just before school was out. If I could just get Patricia into Bitsy, I knew a great little wooded island where anything could happen, if it only would.
I was restocking the canned snacks section of the marina grocery store when I smelled perfume. A slim tanned arm with fine dark hair slipped past my shoulder and took down one of the lasagna cans I had just put up. It belonged to Mrs. Collier. I hadn’t seen her since her choking fit three weeks earlier.
She was almost as tall as I am. Her face, still pretty despite the wrinkles in the corners of her eyes, turned up to me after she dropped the can into her shopping basket. Her big brown eyes had a look I had never seen in a woman before. They reminded me of the eyes of the doe that my father had wounded last year and sent me with a pistol to put out of her misery. I don’t like that look.
She said very quietly, almost in a whisper, “Jimmy, come see me tonight after dark. Come through the woods to the back door, will you?”
I opened my mouth to ask her cruelly if Mr. Calvin would be there, but she turned away and ducked around a display of cereal boxes. I followed her but she went straight up the aisle to the cashier, Mrs. Simpson, and unloaded her basket on the counter. The lasagna must have been the last thing she needed. She left the store without looking back.
Bill wasn’t due to return until Sunday and this was only Wednesday. What could she want with me — at night, sneaking in through the woods so the neighbors wouldn’t know I was there? I have an active imagination. I thought that she and Mr. Calvin had decided to end the risk that I might squeal on them. Then I thought that Calvin had turned down their loan and she wanted me to testify to her husband how hard she tried to get it. I thought she wanted to congratulate me for my seamanship in sailing through Harmon Rocks. A bit later I thought that she had liked me bumping into her tits last fall and wanted me to do a better job of it now that I knew what kind of woman she was. I liked that last idea and returned to it several times the rest of the afternoon. She was a slim woman but her body was still fuller than the girls I knew. Bill had told me she was a lot younger than his father and couldn’t have children of her own. But she had always acted like Bill’s mother to me. I had never considered her as an object of lust despite the forever-seared memory of my shoulder in her tits. Now I did. The results were uncomfortable in the tight shorts I was wearing. I had to think about Bitsy’s new rigging instead.
My father found me just before closing time. We close at six on Wednesday. “Tell your mother I won’t be home for supper. Collier and I have a date to demonstrate the fish sonar to your favorite banker. After that we’re going to take some of his money at poker. I’ll be listening on Channel 36 if she needs me.”
Theories One and Two shot down in one sentence! Theories Three and Four, especially Four, here I come!
* * * *
I scouted her house first. Knowing the woods like the back of my hand, I could flit silently around it. No car in the driveway, all the blinds drawn, windows closed and air-conditioner running. I crept up to the back door and pushed the button.
I felt footsteps through the stoop floor. The door opened. She hadn’t turned on the kitchen lights but enough spilled around her from the room beyond that I could recognize Mrs. Collier.
Apparently it was also enough for her to recognize me. She unlatched the screen door and pushed it open, stood aside for me to enter, then latched the screen and closed the wooden door behind me. “Come on,” she said, turning her back to me.
I followed her into the hall. She turned right at the door to the basement and led me down the stairs. The house included a finished basement that the Colliers used as a den. It had a wet bar, refrigerator, TV, comfortable couches and no windows. Being an old house, it also had a coal chute that they had made into an escape hatch to the outside. You could get out without a key but not in. Bill and I had played in it often.
She went to the wet bar. “What would you like to drink, Jimmy?”
“A coke would be fine, Mrs. Collier.”
She ran some ice from the icemaker and poured me a coke but made nothing for herself.
“Let’s sit down,” she directed and sat beside me on the couch. She was wearing a short-sleeved housecoat, the kind that zips up the front. The zipper began just below the crotch. When she sat I could see quite a bit of thigh. Her legs and feet made a lovely tangle of curves under her. A woman’s leg is such a beautiful thing!
She rested one elbow on the back of the couch and turned her brown eyes to face me. “I wanted to talk to you, Jimmy. You are … quite a skillful sailor, aren’t you!”
Theory Three, on the money! I smiled with pleasure. “A sailboat can go anywhere, if you keep your eyes open.”
Her face, which had almost smiled with me, went blank. “Yes. And you do keep them open, don’t you!”
“You can’t see anything …” I started to say with them closed but realized that would sound kind of impudent and added, “Unless you look.”
She took a shuddery breath and looked away. “Did you think it was funny?”
“You mean when you strangled?”
She nodded. “That must have been hilarious. And the stuff in my eye. At least it didn’t burn! Though the idea of all those little wrigglers in my tear ducts … I smelled it for hours!” She coughed. “Who have you shared it with, Jimmy?”
She nodded. “I believe you, else the whole town would be laughing. But don’t you think it’s a good story?”
I shrugged. “None of my business. Except …”
“Yes,” she agreed dryly. “‘Except!’ Derek says you’re waiting for his wife to get back from Europe. Is that right?”
I sipped my coke. It took me a moment to remember that Derek was Mr. Calvin’s first name. I’d seen the sign on his office door when mother had taken me into the bank with her: Derek Calvin, Vice President.
She sighed and before I could answer, she said, “Jimmy, I don’t know what to do, except I can’t stand going on like this. Tell me what you want from us.”
Want from whom? Her and Calvin? Her and Mr. Collier? I asked, “You and Derek?”
Her face changed. She looked like a kid who’s been told there is a Santa Claus after all. She said, almost as if she were speaking to herself, “Every man puts himself in the other man’s shoes. I told Derek you weren’t so greedy as he would be!” She looked at me and almost smiled. “Let me put it another way. What do you want from me, Jimmy?”
I opened my mouth to say Nothing, but froze as an odd idea came to me. Of course I did want something from her, but even I knew it was something I had no right to get. My best friend’s stepmother!
She had a thoughtful look. “What do you know about women, Jimmy?”
She had me there. I dropped my eyes.
She answered for me. “Not nearly as much as you know about sailboats, eh? Did you wish, when you saw me and Derek, that it was you instead of him?”
That I could answer. “Not till I thought about it some. Not till that night.”
Her face softened. “I can imagine that night!” She took my hand into hers. “Do you remember last fall when you banged your thumb?”
“It was this one, wasn’t it?” She brought it to her lips. I felt her tongue touch it, warm at first then cool as her spit evaporated. “I knew how it must hurt you,” she said. I could feel her lips vibrating as she talked. “I wanted to kiss you and take your mind off it. I couldn’t do much but I think you liked that little bit.”
“I sure did.”
“Would you like me to do more?”
I stared at her. Her big brown eyes seemed to glow. “I can make you feel so good, Jimmy. If I do, will you … keep our secret?”
Not exactly Theory Four, but pretty close. And I knew the answer to her question. I declared positively, “I’d never tell anything bad about you, Mrs. Collier.”
Her eyes flickered. She grinned an odd little grin, almost embarrassed. “Call me Clara, won’t you? That is, when we’re alone.”
She stood up directly in front of me. Her zipper hummed and the halves of her housecoat fell apart. Her dark pubic hair was right in my face, emphasized by the untanned hips and belly behind it. I had seen wisps of hair peeking out around girls’ bikinis. This was the first time I ever saw the whole bush. It glistened. I think I licked my lips.
She chuckled for some reason as she shrugged out of the housecoat and threw it on the carpet. Her legs and upper chest were tanned but her torso was a faint rose underlain with a tangle of blue veins. I remembered that she always wore one-piece swim suits. I don’t know why. I’d seen my mother’s belly streaked with stretch marks. Mrs. Collier’s was a little poochy but smooth. Her nipples were dark and lumpy, as if they were gathered up somehow. I think I had to take a deep breath.
She was smiling. She bent over, undid my belt and unzipped my fly. I raised my hips and let her pull off my shorts. Of course I had a boner, the hardest one ever: hard enough to hurt. She took a cushion off the couch and put it on the floor as she sank to her knees between my legs. She took my dick in her hand. I couldn’t help a shiver. I could faintly remember my mother touching me there to bathe it when I was very young. No one but the doctor had touched it since. I was instantly about to come.
“What’s the matter?” she asked, smiling into my face.
“I’m going to shoot!” I gasped, getting all stiff.
She remarked dryly, “I can’t let you stain my couch, can I?”
Her face went down. She sucked me right into her mouth with a slurp. I never felt anything like it before. My balls seemed to explode in the sharpest pleasure I had ever known. I could feel huge amounts of come rippling through my dick, one long squirt, then another, then … Just as the pressure around the head became unbearable, it eased. Her face stayed in my belly, her lips tight around the shaft, but she froze as she had done with Mr. Calvin. I could see her cheeks ballooning out in a real blow job. So blowing was part of the operation, was it? I had always wondered where they got that name for it.
(I learned later that girls don’t automatically know to blow when you come. You have to teach them.)
Her tongue began to lick me as the spasms ceased. She sucked a little more, gently now but still enough to make me squirm and shudder. At that she backed away, one hand on my knee, the other holding my dick, and studied me with a raised eyebrow.
“You weren’t kidding, were you!”
I couldn’t speak. I was breathing hard though I had done nothing — nothing but shoot my stuff into a female for the very first time! I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted to go over and over in my mind how it felt. But I did discover one question.
“You …” I had to catch my breath. “You didn’t spit.”
Her eyebrow rose higher. “Don’t tell me you’re disappointed.”
“N-no!” I felt a rush of something. Suddenly this woman, almost old enough to be my mother, was precious to me.
“Where would I spit, on the carpet?” She grinned. “That was your first blow job, wasn’t it?”
“What did you think of it?”
“I … How can it feel good to you?”
“Me?” She sniffed. “You’re the one it’s good for, not me.”
“But then … what would feel good to you?”
She cocked her head at me. “What do you care?”
“I care.” Bill and I had discussed this very point: the opposite of a blow-job is a cunt-licking. Using my heels against the front of the couch, I levered myself up off my back and hugged her around the hips, burying my face in her surprisingly coarse lower hair. She had a strong odor, unpleasant at first but somehow compelling. “Let me lick you,” I suggested, my voice muffled by her flesh.
“Do you know how to do it?” she asked above me.
“You can tell me.”
She chuckled wryly. “I can’t exactly refuse you, can I? All right. Let me sit down and you kneel.”
She made me take off my shirt. “So it won’t stink in the wash,” she said. Then she sat in my place on the leather couch, her legs spread wide, and I knelt on the cushion. She thought of something that thrilled me. “Would you like to see first?”
“To see …”
“A vagina up close?”
“Oh, god, would I!”
“Then fetch that lamp off the bar and plug it in over here.”
She let me look. A cunt is wet inside and red as blood. More than look, she had me put fingers into her, up to four. I thought she was about to suggest the whole fist but she was watching my expression and for some reason didn’t. I saw the ridges inside her cunt and felt the hard lump in the back that she said is the mouth of the womb and is easy to bruise. I saw the little hole where the pee comes out of a woman and even learned the right name for it, except I can’t remember it now. But I can remember the lump above it, the “clit.” The art of stimulating a woman seems to be mostly how to rub the clit and the flesh nearby. Before very long I was licking just above it and on either side of it with her cool thighs compressing my ears. She didn’t let me do it very long before she stiffened as I had. I made my touches light as a feather. She trembled with each one and made a curious sound deep in her throat. Soon her hands pushed my head away.
My mouth and chin were soaked and so was her groin. From me or her? Both, I think. I took up her fallen housecoat and wiped my face with the hem, reasoning if that smelled like woman who could complain?
She didn’t. Her face was red and she was breathing deeply. She said, “I try to stand that but never can. What are you waiting for?”
“I can see that your thing is stiff as a poker. Come on and do me.”
She turned around to lie full length on the couch, one leg thrown up over the back, the other trailing to the floor. What she wanted was obvious even to me. I was about to go all the way! I settled on her and her hand guided me. Again I had never felt anything like this. A mouth is very different from a pussy, and the pussy is miles ahead!
She was shuddering and making her strange noise almost from the beginning. I had tried jerking off a second time right after the first. I suppose everyone wants to have that pleasure again as soon as he can. I knew it was possible but took so long as to be hardly worth the effort. Not this time.
This woman was obviously reacting to me. If I moved faster, she groaned faster, panting like a racing dog. If I moved slower, she groaned slower but stronger and her hips rolled more smoothly back and forth. It was a curious encounter, with my pleasure beginning early and growing slowly, unlike most adventures with my fist. Still it could only have been a minute or two before I came again, somehow more satisfying though in far less quantity.
I was exhausted and slumped on top of her. Her hand came up behind my sweaty head and pressed my face into her neck, which of course I kissed as soon as I caught my breath. When she felt my lips, her hands compressed my cheeks and raised my mouth to hers. She kissed me with lips and tongue. She was breathing hard, too. I could see her nostrils flaring.
After awhile she took her lips away. “Don’t you ever get soft, Jimmy?”
My dick was still in her. I shrugged. “I don’t know.”
She chuckled. “Yes, you do, silly! Ah, well! Maybe some other time we can find out just how long you can keep it up.”
I realized I might be getting heavy on her. I raised up to my knees and sat on my haunches looking at her. She smiled at me slowly. “Your first time with a woman, Jimmy?”
I nodded. Suddenly I blurted, “I love you.” It was true. I would happily have died for her at that moment.
She sighed. “I know you do, dear. And I must say, you’re a fine lover, too. But what’s going to happen next?”
I looked up at the clock over the bar. I said, “It’s ten till eleven. They’ll be playing poker till midnight.”
“Not if anyone loses too much. But that’s not what I’m concerned about. You can always zip out the escape hatch. I mean … I know you’ll protect me, but will you protect Derek’s secret, too?”
I wanted to say, Hell no! But I didn’t want to worry my beloved. Which raised another question. “You mean to keep … doing things to him?”
She sighed. “I have to.”
“You love him, then.” I’m sure my voice showed my disappointment.
She smiled very slightly and shook her head. “I don’t think anyone loves Derek Calvin after they get to know him. I love my husband, believe it or not, and my stepson … and you, Jimmy. You are a very sweet boy.”
“Then … why go with old man Calvin?”
“Because I love my husband. He, Derek, knows some things about me that … would hurt my husband a lot to hear.”
She grunted. “If I tell you, you’ll know them too. He was … part of my life before I met Jack Collier.”
“That’s what you call … blackmail, isn’t it?” I knew the word because Algis Calvin had given me a cigarette when I was twelve and after I coughed my way through it told me he’d tell my mother unless I gave him half my lunch money thereafter for a month. My father and I had discussed that case after I was suspended from school for fighting — for trying to beat the shit out of Algis. He told me I had found the only good way to deal with blackmailers, except of course I had to do a better job of it. He gave me a few pointers and the next time I crossed fists with Algis, he was the one who left with two black eyes. Now I was ready to do the same to his old man.
“Yes, it is,” she agreed. “So you know the word for it, do you?”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
She shrugged. “I’m just surprised you came out with it. You also know some things that would hurt my husband a lot.”
A light dawned. A hateful light. “Clara — Mrs. Collier — are you saying you … sucked me and let me fuck you because of blackmail?”
“Jimmy, those are terrible words!”
“Not as terrible as blackmail!”
She pulled back on the couch and got to her feet without touching me. A quick scoop recovered the housecoat. Her eyes on me were penetrating. “Didn’t you come here tonight to blackmail me?”
“I came here tonight because you asked me to.”
“Because I couldn’t stand waiting for the ax to fall.”
“What ax?” I pulled my T-shirt over my head. “I hadn’t told a soul what I saw on Harmon Rocks. I wasn’t going to tell anyone, either. It’s none of their damned business!”
She stood with the housecoat pulled closed around her, watching me step into my shorts. “And now?” she asked softly.
“Now who are you going to tell?”
I went to the escape hatch and pulled down the opening lever. I turned back to look at her just before I ran up the steps to the cool night air. “Nobody. Just so you know, I am not a goddamn blackmailer!”
* * * *
God, such a bad ending to the most wonderful evening of my life! When I got into my bed, I did something I wouldn’t admit to anyone else. I bawled like a goddam baby.
I told myself I wouldn’t let what I knew about his stepmother interfere between Bill and me. It wasn’t his fault. And I didn’t let it. I arrived at his house Sunday just when he did. After he and I got through wrestling in the grass, I said hello to his stepmother the same as always. She looked at me funny but said hello back and that was that. Except I could hardly look at her without sprouting a boner. She wore shorts. I had lain between those beautiful legs and sucked out their juice, almost the same way as her sweet mouth had sucked the juice from me — and that asshole Calvin, I was quick to remind myself.
Practice what you preach, I had to add. What she does with another man is none of your business. He probably eats her out just like you did, only better because he has more practice, and fucks her until she makes those special grunts of hers, just as she did for you. Only one thing was different: now I had a real reason to be jealous of him.
Or did I? I looked for an opportunity. One day Bill’s father called him out into the yard for some reason, leaving Mrs. Collier and me alone in the kitchen. I said, “So, Clara, what do you see of Derek these days?”
She stiffened where she stood, removing dishes from the dishwasher. She put a dish down on the drain board and bent over me at the table, hissing, “Damn you, don’t ever mention that name in this house!”
“Answer my question,” I said, staring up into her eyes.
Her mouth worked. “Nothing.”
I guess I showed surprise. I asked, “When was the last time he touched you?”
“You saw it,” she whispered.
“Not since … Harmon Rocks?”
“Not since then.”
“Got religion, has he?”
“I’ve talked to him. On the phone.”
“What’s he have to say?”
“He doesn’t believe you’ll keep quiet. Will you, Jimmy?”
“You don’t either, huh?”
Her face wrinkled up in a strange expression. She said, “I didn’t run you off the other night, you know.”
We heard Bill’s footsteps on the porch. She turned back to the dishwasher and Bill called me outside to look at his father’s new outboard.
What’s with her? Is she just afraid of me?
* * * *
And then the blow off. Juliet Calvin wasn’t gone to Europe after all. Her badly decomposed body, identified by a medal in her pocket and DNA match with a stone removed from her kidney two years ago, washed ashore above Nathan’s Point. The body had been protected from the fishes by a weighted canvas shroud whose weights fell off. She had been shot in the head.
Derek and Algis Calvin were the ones in Europe. They had departed for Budapest about a week ago, while on vacation in Acapulco, when the cops called to report discovering the wife. They must have changed documents, according to my father, because the cops lost them after Budapest.
* * * *
Bill had his first date on Friday night — with Patricia of all people. He’s officially one up on me. I’m pretty sure he’ll at least get to feel a tit. Father said at supper he was playing poker with the guys unless Collier was as lucky as he was the week before. I gave them a half hour, went to the pay phone in the marina and dialed Bill’s number.
“Hello.” It was definitely her. I felt a lump in my chest.
“Clara, can I come over?”
“Who’s — Jimmy?”
“Because I still love you.”
“I see.” Her voice was dry enough to do her hair. “I don’t suppose I dare to tell you no, do I!”
I had to sigh. “I’ll always do what you say, Clara.”
“You will, will you?”
I could tell she was grinning. “In that case, come on. Wait till dark and knock on the escape hatch.”
* * * *
She didn’t keep me waiting. I closed the hatch quickly. She stood in the middle of the floor wearing the same zippered housecoat, glowering at me. “You want it quick or slow?” she asked.
“A blow job or a fuck?”
I drew back. “What did I do?”
“Nothing. Yet. Or do you want money?”
“Please, Clara. All I want is to talk to you.”
“Talk!” she snorted. She looked away from me, shook her head and gestured toward the couch. “Sit down, Jimmy.”
I sat. This time she sat in the facing couch on the other side of the coffee table.
She said, “All right. Say what you want to say, while I figure out what I’m going to do with you.”
“Have you heard from Derek?”
“You mean, since he went to Acapulco? No. If either of us hears from him again it will most probably be Jack.”
“Your husband? About the bank?”
“About my youthful indiscretions. Derek is the original mean son of a bitch. I always expected him to turn me in when he got tired of me, just for the hell of it. As long as he’s alive, I run that risk, and he’s too slippery to die. Did you know they just found out he embezzled four million dollars from his bank?”
“Yeah. My father says probably it was really two, that the inspectors skimmed the rest while the skimming was good.”
She grinned briefly but shook her head. “Jimmy, you shouldn’t repeat that. Such cynicism doesn’t sound good in a young boy’s mouth.” Whatever that means.
I asked, “Then you really don’t think you’re better off with Derek gone?”
“No. Even he admitted I gave the best head. As long as I could give it to him, I could hope he wouldn’t rat me out. Now?” She shrugged. “Who knows?”
“One way to beat a blackmailer is to confess.”
“Confess!” She turned her whole body away from me. She took a deep breath. “That wouldn’t beat him. I would just lose quicker.”
“Doesn’t your husband love you?”
She snapped back to face me. “I’m certain he does.”
“I’ve seen him look at you, touch you, a lot this summer. I think he does, too. You ought to tell him at least that Derek was blackmailing you for something you did before you met Mr. Collier. You can let him decide if he needs to know what it was. I’ll bet he doesn’t.”
“You’ll bet! And suppose he asks me just how I’ve been paying Derek to keep his mouth shut?”
“He knows you haven’t spent a lot of money, doesn’t he?”
“Meaning he would guess how I’ve made the payoffs?”
“Right. If he loves you, he’ll want to keep you. He won’t ask too many questions. He won’t need to have his nose rubbed in it.”
“How can you possibly know that?”
“Because I wouldn’t!”
“Huh?” Her face went blank, then her eyes narrowed. “What are you up to, Jimmy? Do you have some screwy idea of forcing me to tell my husband?”
It was my turn to sigh. “I won’t force you to do anything, Clara. If you tell your husband and he accepts it — which I would — you’ll be out from under all this pressure for the rest of your life. It’s like when my father bets big to draw to an inside straight-flush. It’s what he calls a worthy gamble.”
I could see the wheels turning behind her eyes. “What makes your opinion worth anything?”
I shrugged. “I already told you that. I love you, too.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. What are you really doing, Jimmy?”
“Nothing.” I sighed again. “You’re right, I’m just a kid. I’ll be sixteen in two more months.” I chuckled grimly. “Did you know I could even turn you in for statutory rape? But I won’t. I’ll never do anything in my life to hurt you, Clara. And I thank you very much for what happened here a few weeks ago, even if you did do it for a reason that I hate.
“All right. I can’t ever have you. You’re married to another man and you like it that way, so that’s the way it ought to be. I came here to tell you once more that I’ll never threaten you. I thought with Derek gone you’d feel a lot better. I meant to say that I would break it off with Bill so you wouldn’t have to see me again, if that would make it easier for you. It would sure make it easier for me!”
Her voice was suddenly the softest it had been all night. “I don’t want you to do that, Jimmy.”
I got up and smiled at her tiredly. “I guess I can’t fix anything, can I?”
She stood up, too, her eyes thoughtful. “You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about.”
“If he does throw you out, I’ll marry you.”
Her face blanked. She chuckled a little, shaking her head. “I believe that’s the most unusual proposal I ever received.”
“I know an island you would love to live on.”
“A sailor’s wife, eh?” At least she was smiling. She stretched out her arms to me. “Then give me a kiss.”
I did, and it was almost as deep and long lasting as our kiss after making love on the couch. When our lips parted she took a deep breath. “Jimmy, how did you learn to kiss so well?”
“That’s easy. You taught me.”
She laughed, but she looked after me thoughtfully as I climbed up the escape hatch.
* * * *
I was never alone with Clara again.
About six months later Jack Collier stopped me on the dock and said, “You may be interested to know that I got an international phone call from Derek Calvin last night.”
I studied him closely. He was watching me, too. I asked, “What did he have to say?”
“He wanted to tell me a lot of crap about my wife, Clara.”
“You knew it was crap?”
“Of course it was crap! Everyone in town who really knows Clara would be certain it was crap, wouldn’t they?”
“Yes, they would.”
“I reminded him I’m still holding his IOU for $40 from our last game. Then I called the cops. He turns out to be in Russia these days. Trust he’s having fun.”
“Yeah. How are you and Mrs. Collier getting along?”
“Hell, you were over last week, Jimmy. You know we couldn’t be better.”
“That’s true. I’m glad to hear it.”
“I knew you would be. See you later.”
So she did tell him. My part, too, or at least some of it. I felt great the rest of the afternoon. To top it off, Patricia asked me today as we were leaving school, “When are you going to take me sailing?”
I’ll get me a woman on that little island yet!
Copyright © 2000, Kellis
Stories at http://www.dhp.com/~kellis