The Reverse Guy
a Short Story
Copyright © August, 2001, Kellis
“Most of the time your thing is like a little empty sock but sometimes it has a foot in it like Mommy’s diddle. Why is that, Daddy?”
Bill looked up from the book open on his chest into his daughter’s earnest face. It was a short shift of vision, because she was squatting on knees spread over his hips, compressing the thing in question. At least he assumed this was the reference. At the moment it certainly had “a foot in it,” with thin summer clothing protecting it.
Best to be sure. “What thing is that, Melly?”
She twitched her hips back and forth. “This thing.” Now he was sure.
He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, dear. It shouldn’t have a foot in it.”
The child frowned. “Is it sick? Am I hurting it?”
“No, and no.” He hesitated. Would it cause her unrecoverable future harm if he told her to get off it?
“Then why is it swollen up?”
“It does that sometimes, dear, when something … tickles it.”
Her eyes widened. “Did I tickle it?”
“Oh, it’s all right. I know you didn’t mean to. Say, you’ve been sitting there a good while. Did you want to ask me something?”
“Yes, but I couldn’t think of the right way to say it.”
“Don’t worry about that, dear. Just ask.”
But she hesitated. Her tongue flicked out to wet the pretty rosebud lips. “You won’t be mad at me, Daddy?”
“No, my dear, I don’t get mad with you. What is it?”
Her eyes dropped. “Raleigh showed me his.”
“Friend of yours?”
“He’s in the sixth grade.”
“But you’re only in the fifth.”
“I know, Daddy.”
“He showed you his what?”
An exhibitionist in the sixth grade? “Where did he do this, Melly?”
“In the big bushes behind the school. We traded.”
“We were waiting for the school bus. It was late.”
“What did you trade, Melly?”
He stared at her. “You both pulled down …”
“Our britches,” she completed for him.
“And then what happened.”
“Nothing. Except he let me feel and I let him.”
“Oh, god! Did he hurt you?”
She frowned thoughtfully. “When it started to hurt, I made him stop. That’s what I wanted to ask you. Gracie said it doesn’t hurt at all.”
“Ah … She did, did she? Gracie who?”
“Grogan. My best friend. He put his whole finger into her.”
Bill took a deep breath. “Gracie was in the bushes with you?”
“No. She only told him I was waiting.”
“She what? Uh, how do you know about his whole finger?”
“She said so.”
“When was this, Melly?”
“Do you mean me and Raleigh or Gracie and Raleigh?”
“When did Raleigh and you … ah, have your pull-downs?”
“I see. Are you sure he didn’t hurt you?”
“It just started. Then I made him move his finger back up.”
“Up? What do you mean?”
“He was trying to push it in my hole. Daddy, why can he push it into Gracie but not into me?”
“Well, dear … Melly, why did you come to me with this? Why not your mommy?”
“She said to see what you wanted to do about it.”
“Oh, you’ve already asked her, then.”
“What answer did she give you?”
“She said that some girls have skinny little holes and some have deeper. I already knew that. Gracie’s is deeper than my finger but you can hardly get started in mine. Why are people so different, Daddy? Why do you and Raleigh have a thing where me and Gracie have a hole?”
Again Bill took a breath. He smiled. “My grandpa used to say that between the legs girls and boys were each other turned inside out.”
“Oh!” Her eyes widened. “Oh! They are, aren’t they.” Suddenly her face fell. “If mine turned inside out, it wouldn’t stick out that far.” She held up a forefinger with the thumb marking off the last half-joint.
“Yes, it would.” He smiled benignly. “Your mother didn’t tell you the whole story. Go back and ask her to explain about the ‘maidenhead.’”
“The what? ‘Maidenhead?’ You tell me, Daddy.”
He shook his head. “No, dear. Believe me, mothers know a lot more about it.”
“They do? Why?”
“Because they used to have one, just like you.”
“But what is it?”
“I’ll tell you this much: it’s the skin that blocks your hole. You said something just now about your mother’s ‘diddle.’ What were you talking about?”
“That rubbery thing she keeps in her drawer.”
“Did she tell you to call it that?”
“No. Gracie told me what you call it.”
Bill asked apprehensively, “Did you show it to Gracie?”
He shook his head. “Melly, you shouldn’t do things like that. That is your mother’s and my bedroom. You mustn’t show things in there to people outside our family.”
“You mean Uncle Bob is all right?”
She bit her lip and lowered her eyes.
“Did you show something in there to Uncle Bob?”
“Those magazines that you keep in your drawer.”
“You did what, Melly?”
“He was very interested. He thought they were so funny.” She hesitated, then admitted, “He told me not to tell you.”
“I’ll bet! Have you looked at them, too, Melly?”
“I didn’t think they were funny, Daddy. Neither did Gracie.”
“I … see. Where does Gracie Grogan live?”
“Just behind us, in the house with the green shutters.”
“I thought that was the Joneses.”
“It is. Gracie is just staying with them. Her mother is the one who suns herself on the deck. You’ve seen her and she’s seen you. Remember when she took off the top of her bikini?”
“Ah, yes. Barely. So her name is Grogan, is it?” He chuckled reminiscently. “I didn’t think that was Mrs. Jones.”
“Oh, no. Gracie says Ms. Jones is afraid of the sun. That’s another thing. I asked mother why women lay out in the sun and she wouldn’t tell me. Do you know why, Daddy?”
“Maybe they think it makes their skin look younger. I don’t know. I’m not a woman.”
“Oh, I know that! Women don’t have a thing.”
“Hmm. Melly, dear, how old is your friend, Gracie?”
“Twelve! You mean she’s not in your grade?”
“But she is. She has moved around a lot. Her daddy doesn’t live with her mother.”
“I see. What did you mean when you said her mother had seen me?”
“Huh? Oh. When she took her bikini off, she saw you watching her through the hedge.”
Bill stirred restlessly. “Your mother saw me watching her, which is why it came up at the dinner table. Who told you that Gracie’s mother saw me?”
“Gracie did.” The child chuckled. “She said her mother said, ‘I hope he enjoyed the show.’ Did you, Daddy?”
“Ah, well, that is —”
She continued blithely, “Gracie’s mommy has a diddle too.”
“I suppose Gracie told you that.”
“She showed it to me. It’s bigger than Mommy’s. Gracie says she uses it with Harold.”
“Harold?” He chuckled. “Is that her name for it?”
Melly’s face showed puzzlement. “Harold is Mr. Jones’s first name.”
“Then how does she use it with Harold?”
“She puts it in at her back —”
He held up a hand. “Never mind. Melly, I appreciate you telling me about this.”
The girl studied him. “What are you going to do?”
“I think I’d better talk to your mother first.”
“Huh!” The girl got down from his lap and said scornfully over her shoulder, “She won’t tell you anything. She says, ‘Talk to your daddy.’”
Pausing at the door, she grinned back at him. “Raleigh’s gets a foot in it too.”
The door to the deck banged behind her. Bill laid his book aside and found his wife also reading, though in the bedroom. He closed the door behind himself, which caused her to look up. She inserted a bookmark. “Did Melly talk to you?”
“Yes, she did.”
His wife, Cully, was a tall, slim woman who effortlessly maintained her slimness because of genes conferred by her mother, also a tall slim woman: Cully plus wrinkles.
“First let’s make sure she told us both the same thing.” He proceeded to relay his conversation with the child, omitting only the parts about the sock with the transient foot and mutual observations through the hedge. “Did she leave anything out?”
“No, that’s about what she told me. What do you make of it?”
He ran a hand through his hair. “I’ll admit that I don’t like some of it. This Gracie sounds precocious.”
“You mean sexually.”
“Exactly. And if she has praised the idea of it …”
“Did you ask Melly that?”
“No, it didn’t occur to me right at that moment.” He turned around. “I’ll call her back —”
“No, no, Bill! Wait a second. One thing we don’t want to do is make a big deal out of it.”
“We don’t?” He turned back to stand beside his wife’s chair, regarding her curiously.
“No, we don’t. Melly is obviously very interested in sexual matters, partly because of what she’s found in our bedroom. Especially your drawer with all those explicit pictures! Do you realize what will happen if word of that gets up and down the street?”
“What? You mean there’s a man’s bedroom on this street without them? I doubt it.”
“Well, I don’t want to argue about it, especially since that forward little Gracie is our real problem.”
He nodded. “I think we can agree on that. But what do we do about it? Do you know her mother?”
The woman nodded. “To speak to. Which I will.” She sighed. “But I know what she’s likely to say.”
“The same as my doctor. That a curious child will certainly learn this material from somebody.”
She grinned ruefully. “Yeah, the one your insurance has paid over a hundred grand so far, and I’ve still not worked around all my hang-ups.”
“Oh, I think you’re doing very well.”
“Because I will suck your cock?”
“Because you’ll even say those words.”
She tilted her head, staring down her nose at his midsection. “Was Melly sitting in your lap?”
“Well, as a matter of fact …”
“And left it about half hard, did she?”
“Damn it, Cully, are you about to accuse me of some incestuous —”
She smiled slightly. “I’m accusing you of being a man, that’s all.” Deliberately her long arm reached out. His zipper hissed. A cool hand withdrew him and stroked gently. “Dr. Zelda has taught me how pretty this thing is,” the woman mused. “I used to think they were so ugly.”
He remarked smugly, “I suppose few woman can be indifferent to it.”
She glanced up slyly. “Do you mean any specimen in particular?”
“Well, no, I meant —”
She giggled, then assumed a serious expression though her hand continued its slow stroking, fingers conforming to the rising shape. “Bill, we’ve talked about how careful we must be with Melly. We don’t want to give her all the hang-ups my parents instilled in me. We don’t want her to be 24 years old before her first experience!”
“No, silly! Think about it from your own perspective. You would’ve gotten at least five more years of blow jobs from me if I hadn’t been so uptight.”
The woman leaned forward. He took a gasping breath. Soon his hips began to move gently back and forth. But he shook his head. “Cully, if we don’t do anything, that girl will get Melly’s cherry, pretty damn soon, too, I’m afraid!”
The woman sniffed but her cheeks collapsed around him. He ceased to think about his daughter. The spectacle before him was too riveting. Not only would his wife suck him, a fairly recent development, she was busy learning, if not to savor, at least to swallow its anticipated product. He looked down at her methodical mouth, thin lips working half-way along the shaft while the back of the tongue rasped around the head, and once again thanked this Dr. Zelda whom he had never met for such a wonderful change in his prudish wife.
* * *
“Can I talk to you a minute?”
It was straight action now. The woman, having taken off her shoes, was fleeing silently through the parking lot, keeping below window level of the parked cars. She could hear her pursuer’s heavy breathing and heavier feet behind her.
The words flowed from Bill’s brain, where the scene played out, directly through his fingers at high speed to the screen in dramatic sentences that would require no smoothing of word order.
“Of course, dear,” he answered absently.
Behind her the big man called in triumph. A shot rang out and the outside mirror beside her head shattered, stinging her ear —
A strange quality in the odor, girl but different, interrupted his train of thought. “Melly,” he grated in aggravation, “have you gotten into your mother’s — Huh!”
The child standing at his elbow was not Melly! “Who’re you?” he demanded, gaping at her. She was fluffily blonde, blue-eyed with a serious mien, taller and somewhat heavier than Melly, wearing a blue corduroy jumper over a white blouse, shod in sneakers and white socks. Slight bulges in her blouse bespoke puberty.
“Gracie Grogan,” she answered gravely. Suddenly he remembered seeing her in his daughter’s company.
“How’d you get in here?”
She shrugged. “The door isn’t locked.”
“But it was closed.” He took a deep breath. “Don’t you know how to knock?”
“I know my way around. I’ve been all through this house.”
“I’m sure you have,” he agreed dryly, “but you should still knock when you come to visit.”
“Why?” she asked reasonably. “Melly doesn’t.”
He grunted. “She will the next time!”
“I mean when she comes in here.”
Bill snapped, “This is her home!”
The girl blinked.
“Wait a minute!” He glanced at his wristwatch. “It’s only eleven. What are you doing out of school?”
“I didn’t feel good this morning, but now I’m feeling better.”
“Then why didn’t you go on to —” He took another deep breath and calmed himself. “I believe you wanted to talk to me.”
She studied him a moment and lowered her eyes. “I don’t have a daddy.”
“He left us. My mommy and I have to stay with her sister.”
She nodded. “Melly said you’re the one who gives good answers.”
Gracie nodded solemnly.
“I’d say it depends on the question. What’s yours?”
“I need to show you.” She reached behind herself and hiked up the tail of the jumper before perching her buttocks on the corner of Bill’s desk. She turned slightly to face him and with plump thighs spread apart, lifted the hem of the skirt to her waist, exposing the entire hairless pudendum. She was without underpants. The naked buttocks rested directly on the mahogany.
Bill twitched in startlement. “G-Gracie…” he began.
But she continued, “No one will tell me why I am so different from Melly here.” As she spoke she pried herself open, one forefinger on each fat labia. The spectacle was just below eye-level. He could clearly see the dark horizontal gap between vaginal ceiling and floor that bespoke sexual experience. A spicy odor of musk and urine wafted to his nostrils.
He could not help staring. “Good god, Gracie!”
“You could put your fingers in me all the way,” she suggested, maintaining a solemn face and tone.
“I can see that!” he snapped.
“But you can’t in Melly.”
“Of course not! She’s my daughter.”
“Even if she wasn’t. Tell me why she is different.”
He shook his head and said dryly, “You know why, Gracie.”
“Is it because I let men do me?”
He stared at her, remembering the plural on her reference to fingers. “Gracie, what do you mean? What have you let men do?”
She spread the labia wider. “Put their things in here.” The orifice was red as a wound but perfectly symmetrical and delicate as an orchid’s folds. It glistened with moisture. He licked his own suddenly dry lips.
“That too,” she added, still unsmiling. She released herself and thrust hands behind her for support. Up came her hips toward his face. “I love that!” she murmured. “Do me!”
A perfect example of the female essence hovered just beneath his nose, clitoris swollen in its sheath. The odor seemed to penetrate to his testicles. His tongue had begun to protrude before he came to his senses. He raised his head to stare at her in absolute astonishment.
“Go ahead,” she urged, raising the fragrant complexity within an inch of his mouth.
“Gracie, for god’s sake!” He caught her hips and forced her buttocks back to the desktop. Shoving backward in his roller-equipped chair, he opened six feet between them.
“Then I’ll do you!” She vaulted nimbly off the desk corner to end on her knees between his legs, arms over his thighs to prevent him rolling farther. She searched for his zipper pull.
His hands caught hers. “Gracie, cut it out. We can’t do this. It’s totally against the law!”
Her eyes glowed. “So what?” One of her hands escaped and found his partial erection through the cloth.
He ordered weakly, “Don’t do that, Gracie.”
“Huh! This says, ‘Do it!’”
He seemed to be frozen. Gritting his teeth, he teetered on the edge of acquiescence. “No!” he cried, just as she found the pull, gripping her temples between his hands, forcing her back. He jumped to his feet, knocking the chair back against the wall.
She wiped her saliva-wet mouth with the back of her hand. “What’re you afraid of?” she asked, apparently in genuine curiosity. “Nobody can see us.”
“Get out of here, Gracie! Go home!”
She made a face. “I thought you wanted me to go to school.”
“Just go, please, right now.”
She sniffed, smoothed her skirt and walked to the door, turning back with a smile, hand on the knob. “Think about it. You can be my reverse guy. I can come any time you want.”
“I can be what?”
But she slipped out of the room, closing the door softly behind her. He followed her in time to see the door to the deck close also. From the den window he watched her skip across the backyard and disappear through the hedge. Who else might have observed her visit? With any luck, he answered himself, no one. All the neighbors were gone to work.
He locked the front and back doors of the house before returning to his computer. But after ten minutes he sighed and gave up. The image of the escaping heroine could not hold a candle to that of the twelve year-old mouth dripping saliva in anticipation of his penis.
He murmured aloud, “What the hell is a ‘reverse guy?’”
* * *
“Can I get in your lap, Daddy?”
He had been peripherally aware of his daughter’s approach. He lifted his hands off the keyboard and leaned back. “Sure, darling. Come ahead.”
Shortly she sat facing him, jeans spread across his thighs and frilly shirt pressed into his chest. Her head fell on his shoulder. She kissed his neck once, a sensuous touch of moist lips that almost distracted him. But his heroine was about to discover the true nature of her beloved instructor. His hands came up on either side of the girl to resume pounding the keyboard, transferring words from his mind to the screen behind it. He continued typing for several minutes. He had already thought through the scene at this point in the novel and the words poured out readily. Finally he reached the break and leaned back with a sigh. His hands left the keyboard to stroke his daughter’s back.
“Is everything all right in your world, pumpkin?”
“It’s scary, Daddy.”
“Scary? You mean Halloween is coming up?”
“Huh! I’m too big to believe in ghosts.”
He tucked in his chin to look down at the face just under his own. She lowered her eyes.
“Then what scares you, Melly?”
She heaved a sigh. “The cops came and got old Mr. Parland.”
He blinked. “They did what? Which Mr. Parland?”
“The old one. Valencia’s grandpa.”
“What do you mean, they got him?”
“They put handcups on him and put him in their car and drove away.”
He took her by the shoulders and held her far enough away for him to study her guileless face. “Put handcuffs on him? Did you actually see this, Melly?”
“No, but Valencia did.”
“Do you know why they arrested him?”
“That’s the word Valencia couldn’t remember, I bet!”
“But why, Melly?”
“Gracie and me talked it over. We think it’s because of his magazines.”
“His … What magazines?”
“What do you know about his magazines?”
“He showed them to us.”
Bill caught his breath but let it out slowly. “When did he do this?”
“Last week. Gracie was playing with Valencia and I went over too. He was talking to us about liking boys. Valencia told him she went in the bushes with Raleigh and wanted to know why boys liked to do that. He brought out his magazines to show us. But he never did say why. We already knew what they did. Could you tell us why, Daddy?”
“Because … Wait a minute. This is important. Did Valencia remember anything the cops said?”
“No, but her mother was crying.”
Bill reached for his telephone but thought better of it. “When did all this happen?”
“Before I got home from school.”
“Then how did Valencia see it?”
“She was out sick today.”
He set her out of his lap and grabbed his windbreaker. “Get your sweater and come on.”
“Where are we going?”
“To see if we can be of any help to them.”
The Parlands lived in a typical two-story five doors down the street. The woman who answered Bill’s knock was red-faced and teary.
“Hello,” he said, “I’m Bill Teller. I live five —”
“I know, the novelist with the appropriate name.” Her voice was not friendly.
“And you’re Mrs. Parland?”
“What do you want?”
“I heard a, uh, a garbled version of what happened here today. I want to offer my assistance. I’m available if you need anything — from the store, for example.”
“You want to satisfy your curiosity,” she accused.
“That too,” he admitted with a disarming smile.
She shrugged. “It’ll be in the papers tomorrow. The cops came here right after lunch with a warrant to search my father-in-law’s effects for child pornography. They must have found something. They took him and a box of stuff from his bedroom.”
“A search warrant? Why would they apply for one?”
“That’s what I’ve been wondering.” The woman stared accusingly at Melly, hanging on to her father’s hand.
“Well, Mrs. Parland, I meant what I said about being helpful. Have you notified your husband?”
“He’s down at the police station now, I think.”
“Then can I get you anything from the store?”
“Do you need help with your daughter?”
“What about my daughter?”
“I understand you have a daughter named Valencia, Melly’s friend.”
The woman’s lip curled in a sneer. “Along with that little Gracie.” She drew herself up. “Thank you, Mr. Teller, but we’ll manage.”
“Call me if you need me, won’t you?”
But she closed the door without further response.
As they walked home, Bill asked, “Who did you tell about Mr. Parland’s magazines?”
“Me? I didn’t tell anyone. But everyone knew about it in school yesterday.”
“What did they know exactly?”
“That he showed us his pictures.”
Bill shook his head. “Melly, think hard. Do you remember him showing you any pictures of children?”
She answered hesitantly, “Well … there was one.”
“What was in it?”
“A little girl sucking on a little boy’s thing.”
“Is something wrong with that, Daddy? Could it make her sick?”
“I, ah, don’t think it would make …” His voice ran down. A police cruiser passed them as they strolled up the sidewalk. Its slow speed drew his attention. Another followed that one. Both cars stopped at houses beyond Bill’s and an unmarked car with a rooftop antenna pulled to the curb between them. Policemen, both uniformed and suited, emerged and went to the two houses.
Melly craned her neck. “That’s the Carson and Peullit houses.”
“What the hell?” Bill muttered.
“Maybe it’s the pictures.”
“They showed us pictures too. Gracie really knows how to get people to show us pictures.”
“You mean sex pictures? Carson and Peullit showed you sex pictures?”
“Mr. Carson did. I wasn’t there when Mr. Peullit showed Gracie and Valencia.”
“Did you see any shots of children in Mr. Carson’s pictures?”
“No. Is that cop coming for us?”
Apparently he was. Drawing near, the man man asked, “You live around here?”
“Right there.” Bill pointed to his house, whose front walk they had nearly reached.
The uniformed policeman looked down at a paper in his hand. “Do F. V. Peullit and J. R. Carson live in those two houses?”
“So I understand.”
“Should anyone be at home at either place?”
“I believe they all work.”
“Thanks.” The man turned around and proceeded toward the houses. He cupped his mouth with one hand and shouted, “It’s confirmed!”
Immediately splintering sounds arose from both front doors, which shortly stood open.
Bill called in horror after the retreating policemen, “Did you guys just break in to both those houses?”
The man replied over his shoulder, “Don’t worry. We have search warrants.”
Bill decided not to lock the front door behind himself, hoping to save it from ruin if the police arrived there next. He proceeded directly to that certain drawer in his dresser where he kept a dozen magazines, the youngest ten years old, some much older, heavily dog-eared, that he had acquired in college, mostly from departing students. He brought them all downstairs to the den, crumpled a few pages torn from the top one and built a fire in the fireplace. He stood before the new fire, tearing off pages and throwing them on the flames.
His daughter came up beside him. She began, “Daddy —”
“I didn’t bring these out to show you,” he interrupted. “You understand that? I’ve never shown them to you!”
“All right, Daddy.” She turned up a worried face. “But is there something bad about them?”
He took a deep breath. “No, dearest.”
“Then why are you burning them? Will the cops come here?”
“I hope not.” He knelt beside her and put a hand on her shoulder. “The trouble is, people don’t always tell the truth. I used to be a newspaper reporter. I know what lengths the cops will go to when they’re on a roll. What if the story going around in the school includes my name as a man with sex magazines, who might’ve shown them to kids? If the cops get my name too, they’ll be here anytime, and if they don’t find child pornography, they might think these magazines are close enough to justify planting some in the pages.”
He stood up and resumed throwing torn paper into the flames. It was a fascinating pursuit. Turning to ash, nude bodies twisted more grotesquely than their owners had ever imagined.
“Daddy,” his daughter murmured at his side, “I don’t understand.”
“Think of it as a precautionary measure. Do you know who told the school about Mr. Parland?”
“It wasn’t me and I don’t think Gracie would have.”
“That leaves Valencia. Why would she tell on her own grandfather?”
“Maybe it was the high jeans woman.”
“The high — How could the hygiene woman know?”
“She asked us to tell her if anyone touched us or showed us pictures of sex.”
“What did you tell her?”
“Nothing. But Valencia may have told. She was talking to her.”
“What did you mean that everyone knew about it in school?”
“Everyone was talking about it.”
“Then it wasn’t just the hygienist. She wouldn’t have told other students.”
“I know: I’ll ask Gracie who told. She probably knows.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she does! What about the others, the Peullits and the Carsons? Did their names go around the school too?”
“Yes.” The girl looked puzzled. “But they don’t have any kids.”
Suddenly he froze. Between two of his magazines he discovered a photograph evidently produced on an ink-jet printer in black-and-white. It displayed a small girl nude except for a teddy bear in her arms, lying on her side in bed with knees drawn up, a foolish grin on her face and a large, very mature penis half-buried in her anus. He stared open-mouthed, certain that he had never seen this picture before, equally certain that no one must ever see it again. His daughter had fortunately turned away. Carefully he laid the printout upside down on the flames and when it had crumpled to ash, stirred the remainder thoroughly with his poker before continuing with the other magazines.
* * *
Cully sneered when she learned of the afternoon’s events. “This society and its stupid hang-ups! The elderly Mr. Parland is in his seventies, but if he doesn’t get the right lawyer they can put him away for ten years. That amounts to a death sentence!”
“It’s the federal penalty for possession of child pornography,” she said with the authority of her employment as a paralegal. “Did you happen to hear what kind of porno he had?”
“I understand it was a picture of a little girl fellating a boy.”
She grinned at him. “‘Fellating!’ My, my, what a nice word.” She sobered. “A girl and boy, you say? That’s better than one client we represented last year. He had a picture of a man with his cock up a small boy’s rectum.”
“A small boy?” He shook his head and corrected her with a grin, “You mean ‘penis.’”
She grunted. “I mean, up his ass.”
“What happened to your client?”
“Two years suspended. He claimed the picture belonged to his brother. The worst part was registration as a sex offender.”
“This is serious shit, Cully.”
“Yes. And do you know what the prosecutor will say about you burning all your pictures? Not that I’m sorry you burned them!”
“That you were destroying your own child pornography.”
“But none of my original pictures showed a child!”
“Didn’t it? I remember a great many hairless pudenda — Excuse me. Hairless cunts.”
“Yeah. You’ve heard of razors, I presume. What’s with this Anglo-Saxon? More of Dr. Zelda’s tonguework?”
She giggled. “You make her sound like a cunnilinguist. Ha! Is that Latin-enough for you?”
“I’m surprised you didn’t say ‘cunt licker.’”
“Oh. I should have, shouldn’t I? Huh! All this talk of sex is making my pussy wet.”
“You mean your vagina?”
She sniffed. “Quit playing the prude. It hardly fits.”
“Take off your clothes and I’ll show you something that fits.”
“Why, Bill! That’s the best offer I’ve had all day. But a new Sex in the Town is on tonight. Dr. Zelda said to be sure and watch it.”
“Well, suppose I watch it with you … naked?”
She took a breath, eyes sparkling, but frowned. “No, I won’t hold you to it. You say the women on that show are contemptuous of men. But they aren’t, you know. They just won’t put up with any crap — as I won’t.”
“Of course not,” he agreed, turning to leave the room, recalling his earlier conclusion that some parts of Dr. Zelda’s work were significantly less meritorious than others.
“Bill!” she called after him. “What did you mean, your ‘original pictures?’”
He turned back, taking a breath. “As I burned them, I found a picture — actually an ink-jet printout — inserted between two of my magazines. It was …” He gulped. “It was real child porno.”
“What was in it?”
“A little girl with a man’s dick up her ass.”
“A little girl?”
“It was a front view with her legs drawn up. She was a girl, all right.”
The woman glared. “When did you develop an interest in that stuff, Bill?”
“I?“ he shouted. “I never saw the damned thing before in my life!”
“You never what?” She shook her head. “Then how do you account for it? What did you do with it?”
“Burned it to a crisp and stirred the ashes. I can’t account for it!”
“And you never will now. Could it have been among the magazines when you first got them?”
“No way. Before we were married I went over those magazines many times in every order.”
“Then, my dear, someone must have planted it on you. Who hates you that much?”
He chuckled with heavy irony. “Until now I would have said, ‘No one.’ Is it possible that Parland’s magazines were doctored?”
He stared at her before turning away purposefully.
“Just a minute!” she called. “I hope you aren’t planning to accuse Melly.”
He stopped to look back.
The woman suggested, “She’s gone to bed. Let me talk to her about this at breakfast.”
* * *
Sex in the Town must have been stimulating. When the show ended, Cully, wearing a bathrobe, came into his study where he was toying with the novel outline, sank to her knees and opened his fly. Wordlessly she fished him out and sucked the limp flesh into her mouth. But after less than a minute she raised up to study him. Her face showed astonishment. “What in the world is the matter, darling?”
He chuckled with embarrassment. “I can’t work on the novel either.”
She rose to her feet, slid his guest chair nearby and sat facing him, knee nudging his leg. “Is it all these arrests?”
“I can’t get them out of my mind. Someone must be planting these images in the neighborhood. What if our daughter has access to them? What if she’s been molested?”
His wife studied him. “Didn’t you say you talked to her today? Did you hear any evidence of it?”
The woman shrugged. “I don’t know. Too much knowledge maybe? Adult knowledge?"
“I started to say, ‘Yes,’ until you added ‘adult.’ She has too much knowledge, perhaps, but it’s not really adult.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, your dildo is a ‘diddle,’ and she compares an erect penis to a sock with a foot in it.”
“A what?” She chuckled. “That’s a good one!” She shook her head. “But it’s not evidence of molestation. Her yearly checkup is next week. I’ll ask Dr. Ellis to look for that.”
He stared at her. “I believe she would tell me if I asked.”
“Oh? Just what would you ask her, Bill?”
He marked off half the last digit of his forefinger with his thumb. “Whether her thing would still only be this long if it was turned inside out.”
“You told her your grandfather’s inside-out joke, I see. Bill, have you thought that you may be the source of a lot of her excess knowledge?”
He shook his head. “I can recognize what I told her. Something bad is happening in our neighborhood, Cully, and it threatens this family too.”
She leaned closer and encircled his neck with her cool arms. “Perhaps it does, but I don’t think it’s as serious for us as you do, especially now that you’ve burned your porno.”
“Don’t you? When they’ve arrested neighbors on both sides?”
“But that’s my point. If you were accused, why didn’t they arrest you?”
“Because … because they hope for me to run?”
“You’re reaching,” she noted dryly. “Why couldn’t it simply be that you’re not suspected?”
“Okay.” He grinned hollowly. “Paranoia?”
She added thoughtfully, “You could take a few precautions …”
* * *
His eyes lit when he heard the knock on the door to the deck, and he completed his preparations quickly. When he had opened the door, he asked coldly, “Gracie, what do you want?”
“It’s chilly in the wind. May I come in?”
Melly had offered no insight into the source of the illegal images, beyond confirming that she had seen one among Carson’s magazines, though not Peullit’s. Nevertheless the newspaper had reported both men, along with the senior Parland, indicted for possession of child pornography as well as for “child endangerment,” an oddly catch-all term. Staring at the cold-reddened cheeks before him, Bill was struck with the certainty that here stood the instrument of the neighborhood’s moral decay. She definitely had opportunity to plant the images in Peullit’s and his own stashes, even if Carson and Parland had acquired their own.
He stood back from the door, gesturing for the girl to enter. She was wearing a heavy sweater over the same jumper or one like it. She smiled at his acceptance and walked calmly across the floor directly to his study. He closed the door and followed, calling, “Did you feel sick again this morning, Gracie?"
Standing beside his desk, she turned around and smiled at his approach. “No, I didn’t have to. The school thinks I sound just like my mother on the phone.”
“I’ll bet it does!” he agreed ironically. “Isn’t your mother at home?”
“Yeah, but I took the cordless into the closet.”
“I see. So what can I do for you this morning, Miss Grogan?”
She crossed her arms before her and pulled the sweater off over her head, letting it fall to the floor. She said, as if pointing out the obvious, “I told you. You’re my reverse guy.”
“Yes, you did, Gracie. Just what does that mean?”
“Can’t you tell? With Farron and Joe gone, you’re left.”
“Farron Peullit and Joe Carson.”
“And I’m left? What about old Mr. Parland? Don’t you miss him too?”
“For what? He only gave us money. Money’s easy to get. Besides, that was a mistake. The hygiene woman wore Valencia down.”
“So Valencia did turn in her own grandfather!”
“Yeah. She’s just a dumb kid. She didn’t know it would get him in trouble.”
“But you knew. Why didn’t you warn her?”
She shook her head incredulously. “I never thought she’d tell!”
“Was it Valencia who turned in Peullit and Carson?”
She sniffed. “Who cares. They’re out of the picture.”
“What were they to you, Gracie?”
She studied him guilelessly, at last admitting, “My main guys.”
“Your main guys,” he repeated.
She moved directly before him. “Now you’re my main guy.”
“Not reversed anymore?”
Her brow wrinkled. “That’s not the right word, is it?”
“Oh, you never can tell! But they were your guys, not Valencia’s. Why would she rat them out?”
Gracie shook her head. “She didn’t.”
“But you did? I thought they were your main guys!”
She took a deep breath and raised her hands to his shoulder. “Kiss me, Bill.”
He stepped back. “Tell me why you told the cops.”
“I didn’t tell the cops. They asked me a lot of questions, but I didn’t tell them anything.” Her eyes glittered. “I told the boys.”
“The boys? You mean you were bragging?”
“Boys are the ones who brag. They tell everybody everything.” Her tone was mildly contemptuous.
He nodded. “You counted on that, did you? Why did you want the school to know about your ‘main guys?’”
She sniffed. “When the cops asked me a lot of questions, I boo-hooed until they let me alone.”
“Maybe so, but that was after the school kids repeated it to the hygiene teacher,” he guessed dryly. “Why did you tell the boys in the first place?”
She backed against his desk, hitched up her skirt and perched on the corner as she had on her previous visit. She smiled invitingly, raising the garment to her waist and spreading her legs. The hairless labia parted to disclose the dark crimson interior. “Lick me like you were going to,” she suggested, eyes glowing. “I love that.”
He forced a nervous chuckle. “If you want me to, ah, help you, you have to tell me what was wrong with your two other main guys. Perhaps I can avoid their mistake.”
She frowned. “They … wouldn’t do me any more.”
“‘Any more.’ But they did do you?”
“Only one time. I got Farron into the woods to find my cat. I showed him my thing to lick and then he did me. Then I got Joe to do the same. But after that they wouldn’t come to the woods again. They worried more about the law, they said, than about me. That was their mistake.” She smiled brightly. “But you don’t have to go to the woods. You’re home alone all day. I wish I had come to you first.” She put two fingers into herself, holding her hand to the side so that he had a clear view. “Come on. If you stand up, you can go ahead and do me right here.”
“And play into your hands as they did?”
“My hands? I mean my hole.” She studied him. “Don’t worry. I’m not trying to get you in trouble. All I want is to find someone who won’t tell the whole school.”
He took a deep breath. “Then I’m sorry to disappoint you, Gracie.”
Her smile vanished. “You will be. Even looking at it is enough to get in trouble.”
“You know a lot about that, don’t you?”
She tossed her head. “I learned it in Cincinnati. It’s why we had to move. Don’t disappoint me, Bill. If they come here they’ll find something bad.”
“Like a picture of a man taking a little girl from behind?"
Momentarily her eyes widened. Then she shrugged and resumed her smile. “You know you want me. Well, here I am.” With both hands she stretched her labia apart, studying him for the effect.
He reached her in three long steps. Her face changed as she saw the purposefulness in his. “Bill …” she began, but his hand closed on her wrist and jerked her off the desk. She staggered as he stooped to gather her fallen sweater in his other hand.
“What are you doing?” she demanded.
He marched from the room and toward the deck door, dragging her unwillingly behind him. “Hey, quit!” she ordered.
The cold wind bit through his shirtsleeves as they careened across the deck and down onto the grass of his backyard. He set a course toward the gap in the hedge, leaning forward, the girl stumbling willy-nilly behind him.
“I’ll fall down,” she warned.
“Then you’ll get dragged,” he retorted, not even bothering to look back.
“Go ahead. Nobody’s home but your mother, and she’s the one I want to see.”
Behind him arose a full-throated, blood-curdling screech that would do credit to any woman facing a saber-tooth tiger. It actually rang in his ears.
“Pretty good job,” he admitted admiringly when she paused for breath.
They dived through the hedge. In the Jones’ backyard the girl produced one more scream, though not nearly so impressive, but the sounds had apparently been enough to attract the mother’s attention. The door into the house from the deck opened as he dragged the girl up the short flight of stairs. The woman who had displayed ample breasts in late summer, now with hair straggling above a housecoat and slippers, stood in it wide-eyed.
“What are you doing to Gracie?” she demanded harshly.
He came to a halt directly before her, holding the flustered girl at his side, both breathing hard. “I’m Bill Teller, Ms. Grogan. I’m bringing your daughter home” He took a quick breath. “I’m afraid she’s truant, which is your problem, but she’s also a very dangerous child, and that’s my problem! I need to talk to you about it. May I come in?”
The woman’s eyes narrowed. “Have you molested her?”
He stared into her eyes. “No.”
“Yes, he has!” cried the girl. “He looked at my pussy.”
The woman studied him. “You don’t deny it, do you? And you want me to let you in my house?” Her tone was incredulous.
“Otherwise I go to the police.”
“‘To the police!’” She laughed derisively. “Are you such a fool as that?”
“I’ll do it, foolish or not.”
Her amusement vanished. She stood back from the door. Bill dragged the girl into a den very much like his own. He had begun to shiver in his shirtsleeves and the warmth was pleasing.
He released the girl and handed the sweater to the woman, who asked, “Did you take this off her?”
“No. She knocked at my door about 15 minutes ago. When I let her in, she took off her sweater, perched on my desk and exposed her vagina. She is wearing no underpants. She invited me to lick her, then to have intercourse.”
“And did you?”
“Not today,” the girl interjected. She started to walk away. “I’m going to my room.”
“You are not!” Bill thundered. “You’ll stay right here, young lady.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You can’t give me orders!”
The woman patted the empty air. “Stay here, Gracie. What did you mean, ‘Not today?’”
“He almost licked me a couple weeks ago.”
Bill took a breath. “Another morning of laying out of school. She came into my house without knocking and into my study where I was working. She was without underpants. She sat on my desk corner and raised herself up to my face.” He sighed. “I don’t deny her charge, nor condone it, but I pushed her away almost immediately. I didn’t actually touch her.”
“I held your thing,” the girl claimed, eyes alight.
“Through my pants before I could stop her. But I made her leave my house immediately.”
“Your thing was hard,” Gracie asserted with an unmistakable leer.
“So she seduced you!” The tone dripped contempt.
“She did not, not in any real sense, certainly not today after what’s happened.”
“What do you mean?”
“You must know what happened in this neighborhood this past week.”
“I read the papers.”
Bill pointed to the girl. “She is the cause of it, from beginning to end.”
The woman’s eyes did not follow his finger. They remained locked to his. “I suppose you have some proof of that.”
“She admitted it to me not ten minutes ago.”
At last she turned to the girl. “What about it, Gracie?”
The girl’s eyes shifted. “I didn’t do anything. He wanted to put his thing in me.”
The woman’s eyes narrowed. “There you are, Mr. Teller. Speaking of proof, I can testify that you admitted molestation to me, or as near to as makes no difference. Do you still want to involve the police?”
He raised his hand to a shirt pocket but paused as if in consideration. “Perhaps not.” He took a deep breath. “Ms. Grogan, Gracie also admitted that you had to leave Cincinnatti because of some similar trouble there. I think you know very well that your daughter has a serious problem. She has contributed to, if not engineered, the ruination of three family men in this neighborhood. I want to know what you mean to do about it.”
She straightened. “I don’t like those accusations, Mr. Teller. I think you need to leave now.”
He nodded slowly as he turned to the door. “That answer is clear enough.”
* * *
Forty minutes later the loud thuds at his front door proved to derive from two policemen in uniform and two others in mufti. “Right on time,” Bill commented affably as he stood back from the open door. “May I see your search warrant, please?”
“Are you W. E. Teller?” asked a suited one.
“Here you go.” The man thrust a lengthwise-folded paper into Bill’s hand. “Where’s the master bedroom?”
“Upstairs to the right. Good. At least it’s not just an anonymous tip. I’ll be able to face my accuser, and so will you.”
“What does that mean?”
“I have some unimpeachable evidence against her.”
“You a lawyer, Teller?”
“No, just a very interested party. My wife works for a lawyer, however, and he’s on his way to the station now.”
The man stared. “Is this some kind of setup?”
“Boy, I’ll say!”
“What’s your evidence?”
“I’ll give that to you when you arrest me.”
“All right, consider yourself under arrest. Now what do you have to say?”
Bill sniffed incredulously. “Good god, don’t you ever watch TV? Hadn’t you ought to read me my rights first?”
* * *
They brought Gracie Grogan and her mother into the same interrogation room four hours later. At sight of Bill across the table, the woman pointed dramatically. “That’s he! That’s the man who molested my daughter.”
“Take a seat, Ms. Grogan,” said a detective calmly. “Your daughter can sit beside you. It seems that most of your city block may have molested your daughter, which makes us begin to wonder just who is molesting who!”
The woman said stiffly, “You know you can’t hold a 12 year-old responsible for any of it.”
“You may be wrong about that, ma’am,” suggested a suited man leaning against the wall.
“Who’re you?” she demanded.
“Milton Ayers from the D.A.’s office. In this state the Doctrine of Malicious Slander is designed particularly to recognize a child’s culpability. And your own skirts are hardly clean. Originals of all the pictures taken as evidence against your neighbors were found on your hard drive. We’ll ask you to explain that, if you don’t mind.”
“On my hard drive!” Her eyes grew wide as they turned on her daughter. “Gracie?”
“And we’ll also ask you to explain this.” He waved a hand and the air in the room was filled with the hiss of tape playback.
A young voice was saying confidently, “… Only one time. I got Farron into the woods to find my cat. I showed him my thing to lick and then he did me. Then I got Joe to do the same. But after that they wouldn’t come to the woods again. They worried more about the law, they said, than about me. That was their mistake.”
The playback stopped. Gracie’s eyes were huge on Bill’s. “You were recording me!”
The standing man nodded significantly. “That sounds like a pretty good admission to me.”
“Hush, Gracie,” her mother admonished.
But the girl stared forlornly at Bill. “Why’d you want to do this to me?”
He smiled in undisguised relief but couldn’t resist answering, “Let’s just say your reverse guy pulled a reverse.”
Stories Gratis at http://users.dhp.com/~kellis