Second Thoughts

a Story by Kellis


Summer, 2006



While he waited at the light, a gray bus, marked Centerville Female Correction, pulled away from the opposite corner leaving a woman standing facing him on the sidewalk.  As he watched she turned right and left, seeming to bite her lower lip, a picture of indecision.  The bright afternoon sunlight, absent makeup to conceal the wrinkles at eyes and mouth, was not kind to her appearance.  He guessed her to be fortyish, though the short dark hair exhibited no gray.  She wore sneakers and a long, tattered coat with her hands shoved into the side pockets.  The coat hung open on the warm day, revealing a plump but shapely body and legs enclosed in new blue jeans.  Instead of a purse a new flight bag hung from her arm.  As the light changed she made up her mind and turned to walk away.

Impulsively cancelling his right turn signal, he drove straight across the intersection, ignoring a horn blaring from the adjacent lane, which also permitted right turns, and coasted to the curb beside her, finger on the window button.  She looked up curiously.

He leaned toward the window, gestured and called, “Hop in!”  Solenoids thumped as the doors unlocked.

Her head bent to study him with bright blue eyes.  “Did you say, ‘Hop in?’”

“You look like you need a ride.  Here’s one.”

She made a face.  “What I really need is a destination.”

“We have that too.”

She took a deep breath and said, “I guess I’m crazy.”  But her hesitation vanished.

She jerked open the passenger door and sagged into the seat, the flight bag falling on the floor between her legs.  The door slammed behind her.  Immediately he pulled out into traffic.

“We’re all crazy,” he said with a grin, “in our own ways.  You don’t see visions and make faces, do you?”

“You know how I’m crazy.  Do you remember me somehow?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then why the generosity?”

He gave her as long a look as the traffic permitted.  “I’m wondering what you might do for, say, $40.”

Blue eyes glittering, she said, “Wash a window?”

He grinned slightly.  “How about for $100?”

She took a breath.  “What do you want done?”

“Can you cook?”

“Cook?”  She sniffed.

“Well, can you?”

“I used to be pretty good.”

“Let’s go see.”

She studied him, seeing a clean-shaven, brown-haired man, beginning to gray at the temples, in a trench coat and shined shoes.  The car was small but smelled new.  The dashboard glittered with knobs.

“Put on your seat belt,” he said as another light caught them.

She felt around for it in vain.

“Not used to them?” he asked.  When she didn’t answer, he reached past her shoulder and pulled a pair of belts across her chest and waist, clicking them tight at her hip.  The light changed and the car advanced through the intersection.

She said thoughtfully, “I’m not dressed like a hooker.”

“That’s true.”

“And I didn’t you give you the eye.”


“Then how did you know?” she asked.

“That you are a hooker?”

“How did you know I’d go with you?”

He grinned.  “It was hope.”

“Or was it because I just got out of the joint?”

He grunted.  “How would I guess that?”

“From the prison bus.  You think every shilly is a whore?”

“Shilly?  Is that, ah —”

“A female convict.”

He chuckled shamefacedly.  “In fact a lot of things came together when I saw you back there.”


“I’m tired of seeing a face with no prospects in my mirror.  And there you were, looking around with nothing but a flight bag and the same look on your face.  I thought we could at least cheer each other up a little.”

Her face was turned to him, no longer expressionless.  “At least that, if you mean it.”

“Oh, I do!”

“I hope you don’t plan to take me in the woods, rape me and kill me.”

He snorted.  “If that’s what you thought, why did you get in the car?”

“I don’t know.”  She sighed.  “I guess I was feeling … what’s the use?  Do you really want me to cook for you?”


“What will your wife say about that?”

“She’s already had her say, like ‘Goodbye.’”

“She split?”

“We’re making it final.  I’ve just been to my lawyer to sign the papers.”

 Her voice dropped slightly.  “When I cook for a man, I like to know his name.”

“Dan.  Daniel F. Bowman.”

“Pleased to meet you, Dan.  I’m Betty Tyler.”

“My pleasure, Betty.”

They drove several blocks without further conversation until she said, “I can’t believe this.”

“Why not?”

“That’s not how you hire a cook.”

“Isn’t it?  I never hired one before.”

“It’s how you pick up a whore or a dumb kid.  What do you really want, Dan?”

“Hmm.  I do want you to cook supper.”

“Okay, I will.  But let’s be upfront.  You want sex too, don’t you?”

“Betty, did you just get out of prison?”

“I just got off the bus.  I was supposed to go to a job interview at the Vets Clothing Warehouse.”

“Couldn’t you find it?”

“I didn’t want to.  They need a laundry person.  Washing smelly old clothes is one of the jobs I had in the joint too.  The more I looked out that bus window, thinking about it, the more I thought life behind bars wasn’t so bad after all.  Then you came along.  Dan, I have to tell you I’m not much on sex any more.  Except for a few dyke rapes I haven’t had any in 21 years.”

“You’ve been locked up that long?  What for?”

She studied him a moment.  “Poisoning my husband.”

“P-poisoning —”

“But I didn’t do it.”

“You didn’t?”

“No.  His ex-girlfriend did it and framed me.”

“That sounds like an interesting story.  What agent did she use?”

“Agent?  Rat poison in his booze.”

“How do you know she did it?”

“She paid me a visit to brag.  If she couldn’t have him, I couldn’t either.  She did all right for herself later on: married rich.”

“Are you looking for revenge?”

She shrugged.  “I’m not going out of my way.  Of course if she walks in front of me on the edge of a cliff …”

He chuckled.  “I get you.  Betty, I guess I did come on a bit strong for a cook.  But now it occurs to me somebody fresh from prison isn’t likely to have a disease.”

She nodded.  “That’s true, though I’m still fertile.”

“Did you have any children?”

“No.  Was only married a year.”

“Do you want any?”

She took a deep breath.  “I used to, but now …  How about you?”

He shrugged.

“I mean, do you have any?”

“One girl.  Went with her mother.”

“Do you miss her?”

“Yeah.  Hell, I even miss my wife.  I miss having her around.  She was a pretty good cook and she did like sex.  Maybe too much.”

“Ran off with another guy?”

“A dance instructor, would you believe!  She loved to dance but I’ve got two left feet.”

“So have I.”

He laughed.  “At least we wouldn’t step on each other’s toes.”


“Think about it.”

They waited at an intersection with a huge supermarket on the corner.  She asked, “You got supper fixings?”

“Claire left me a full pantry and freezer.”

“‘Claire,’ eh?  When did Claire leave?”

“A couple months ago.  Ought to be something left you can cook.”


“In the freezer.”

“My husband liked my cheeseburger casserole.”

“Sounds good.”  A bit later he added, “Here we are.”

The house was a medium ranch.  Dan’s car hardly filled the two-car garage.  Inside the house he hung her coat in a closet and studied her while she examined the decorations in the adjacent den.  She wore a plain grey blouse, short-sleeved, filled with ample breasts.  Downy hair adorned her forearms.  Her buttocks were too big for jeans.

She sniffed.  “I thought when you divorced, the wife got the house.”

“Usually.  But she left me.  I remortgaged and bought her out.”

Betty ran a finger over a lamp table, regarded it and raised her eyebrows.  “Somebody cleans.”

“The house people were here last week.”

“‘House people?’”

“Come and clean every two weeks.”

“Your wife didn’t get all your money either.”

“Come on.  The kitchen is through there.”

“Dan, I need to use the bathroom.”

“Right here.”

She opened the door but turned to regard him.  “Would you mind if I took a shower?”

“Come on.”

He led her down a short hall to a bedroom, past a large unmade bed to the adjacent master bath, gesturing to the tub behind a thrown-back curtain.  He chuckled.  “I was going to propose one together, but that’s not how you treat the cook, is it?”

She shrugged.  “I sure don’t need privacy, if that’s your worry.”

“I guess not, at least from women.”

“Guards too.”

“You had men guards?”

“The turnkeys were men, but they didn’t come into the cells.”

“They watched you in the shower?”

“Sometimes.”  She had already toed her sneakers off, shed the blouse and stripped off the jean trousers, laying both on the sink table.  Hands behind her unsnapped the brassiere, throwing it atop the rest.  Bending to lower the underpants, she continued, “One used to stand on the mezzanine and jack off while the shillies teased him.  Some of them would blow him through the bars.  He was watching the last time I got raped.”

“In a modern prison?  That’s incredible.”

“Who was going to stop him?”

“Did he rape you?”

“No.  The last one was a big black dyke with a pop bottle.”

“Why would a woman do that?”

“Because she could.  It’s a power thing.  Some people feel good when they put you down, and nothing gets you lower than having a pop bottle shoved up you.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

Having removed her socks, she stood fully nude, regarding him as he stepped out of his trousers.  “Then stay out of the joint or it could happen to you too.”

“You mean …”

“Right.  Except a cock is not as big as a pop bottle.”

“Most of them,” he agreed.  “Only 21 years for poisoning your husband?”

“It was 25 to life.  I’m out on parole for good behavior.  That means not complaining about the rapes.”  Her eyes lingered on his tented shorts as he unbuttoned his shirt.  She asked dryly, “Is it a power thing with you too?”

“The power of your sexy bod.”

That produced an incredulous giggle.  “My what?  I got fat in the joint.”

She was certainly plump, standing arms akimbo before him with broad hips and pendulous breasts.  Cellulite marked outer thighs, hips and breasts but the protruding belly was smooth, unscarred by pregnancy.  Brown nipples were small and flat.  Pubic hair was kinky rich.  Down-coated calves and shins were darker than forearms.

She lowered the seat, sat on the toilet and looked earnestly up at him with a tinge of red in her face.  “Dan, I’ve really got to go.”

“Don’t prisoners have toilets in their cells?”

“But that was first thing this morning.”

“I meant, no privacy even to shit.”

He reached behind him, closed the door and turned on the overhead exhaust fan.  He finished undressing and stood nude before her.  From her seat she glanced at his groin.  “That looks bigger than my husband’s.”

“Thank you.”

She grinned.  “Was that the right thing to say?”

“How does it look compared to the rest?”

“I’ve only seen maybe half a dozen.”

“You didn’t fool around before your marriage?”

“Mostly in the dark.”

He chuckled.  “Raise your arms up.”

She lost her smile.  “They let us use a razor on the way out but I didn’t bother.”

“Let me see.”

With a sigh she raised her elbows, exhibiting dark, kinky tufts under each arm.  Her eyes studied his reaction.  “Looks dirty, don’t it?”

“Looks sexy.  That’s 21 years’ worth?”

“No.  Last year they found lice on a few shillies and made us all shave.”


She flicked him a grin and blushed again as water rattled into the toilet.  “I couldn’t wait any longer.”

“No reason you should.  What did you and your husband do for fun?”

She shrugged slightly.  “About what most do, I guess.”

“Oral sex?”

She nodded.

“Did you ever blow the guard?”

“That was shillies who needed a fix.”  Her eyes narrowed.  “I get it.  You want a blow job.”

He shuffled forward to stand between her parted thighs.  Her mouth admitted him and her cheeks collapsed in suction.  Her head bobbed forward and back over half the shaft.  While his hands rested on her shoulders, she continued tirelessly for a few minutes.  Suddenly he backed away, breaking her suction with a pop.

“What’s the matter?” she asked in surprise.

“I was about to come.”

“I thought so.  Why’d you quit?”

“To spare you.”

She breathed around an astonished smile.  “Spare me what?”

“A mouthful.”

She blinked.  “I don’t remember it tasting bad.”

He stepped forward, reentering her mouth.  She caught him around the buttocks.  Her head bobbed faster.  Shortly she froze, eyes turned up to watch him.  He groaned and shuddered.  She swallowed several times, nose in his pubic hair.  Finally she released him and looked up, giggling as he backed away.

He stared at her chest and face.  “I don’t think you spilled a drop.”

She smacked her lips and said between giggles, “I tried … not to.”

“You’ve done this before, more than just a little bit.”

She nodded.  “My husband liked it when he got home from work.  I always met him at the door.”  Suddenly her eyes widened as she hiccupped.

“You met him with your mouth open?”

“Naked and kneeling on a pillow.”  She hiccupped again.

“Christ, Betty!  Come on in the bedroom.  I’ve got something for you too.”

“I really need a shower.”

“Okay, then.  I’ll join you.”

Under the warm water her hiccups subsided while their hands scrubbed each other.  Her nipples hardened and his manhood re-erected.  She welcomed the shampoo and let him massage her scalp.  After they dried off she ran fingers through her hair before the mirror.  It fell docilely into place.

“Amazing!” he said, watching her.

“You learn to do without beauty parlors.  Did your wife leave a comb?”

“Not her!  Your hair looks good.  Ready for the bedroom?”

She backed to his side and stroked his paunch.  “Aren’t you hungry?”

“Well …”

Her hand had dropped to enclose his member, still half erect.  “You learn to do without this too.  I’d love to cook a meal again.”

“Then let’s try the kitchen.  I’ve got a spare set of slippers.”

“Oh, I used to love bare feet!”

“Not allowed in the joint?”

“Not to walk.”

She followed him.  Neither mentioned their nudity.  He sat at the kitchen table, pointing out cabinets with pans and utensils.  “They haven’t been used in a couple months.”

“I’ll wash what I need.”  She stamped a foot and smiled.  “Padded linoleum!”

“You like it?”

“I like the floor soft.”  She leered at him.  “Other things hard.”

He watched her thaw the meat in the microwave.  “They put you away when, in ’85?”

“’84.  They had to waste a year on my trial.  I’m surprised you don’t remember it.”

“I moved here five years ago.  But that explains why you know how to operate everything.”

She nodded.  “Jim gave me a complete kitchen.  Of course it was all unpaid for.”

As she worked at the cutting board, he came up behind her and lifted a heavy breast in each hand.  “You love bare feet.  I love bare tits.”

He squeezed them until flesh bulged out between thumb and fingers.  Gently he pinched the nipples.

“I guess you do,” she admitted, staring down her nose at his working hands.  “We talked it over in the joint.  Why are men so crazy over boobs?”

“What did you decide?”

She shrugged.  “We figured they’re big and soft for cuddling a baby, but what a man does with them …  Did you ever fuck between them?”

“I’ve tried.  It looks better than it feels.”

“Looks better?”

“A cock between two big round tits looks real good.  But stuck in a sucking mouth is even better.”

“You like that best?”

“Well, no.  Nothing compares to pussy.  After all, it was designed for cock.  Bend over a little and you’ll see what I mean.”

“I don’t think …” she began but obeyed, backing her buttocks away from the sink.

He caught her hips and slipped into the wet vagina from behind.  After a few strokes he asked, “Does it feel so bad?”

“Oh, no!”

“This is your first since when?”

“March 16, 1984.  Lizzie killed him the next day.”

“Don’t dwell on that!  Sorry I asked.  What was it you don’t think?”

“That I can make this casserole with your cock stirring me.”

“Is it stirring you?”

“Oh, god, yes.”  She began to giggle.

“What’s funny?”

“Like a big thick swizzle stick.”  She giggled harder.

“Is that funny?”

“C-coming is funny.”

He felt the muscles tighten in her hips.  The giggling ceased.  She shuddered and sagged.  “Oh, god, that’s good!”

“Hey!  Stand up!”

“Sorry.  My knees got weak.”  Her hips began to rock.  “Fuck me hard!”

He obeyed.  Soon she was giggling again.  She bent far over, buttocks raised high, hands above her head holding onto the sink edge.  The giggles intensified and became gasps.  “Oh, god, oh, god!”

She collapsed to hands and knees on the soft floor, disconnecting them, although her buttocks were still turned up.  He knelt, reinserted himself and resumed thrusting.  Before long she was giggling again.  When the gasps appeared, she screamed once and fell sideways, again breaking the connection.  She sat up and leaned back against the enclosed sink.  “Oh god, Dan,” she repeated, panting a little.

“Are you all right?” he asked, kneeling before her.

“Your cock made everything go black.”

“Is that good?”

“Oh, god!”  She began to giggle but choked it off in sudden concern.  “You didn’t come.  Want me to suck?”

He got to his feet, reached down and drew her up also.  “You’re saying you came so hard your vision went black?”

She nodded slowly.  “That’s what happens when it gets too sweet.”

“It’s gone black before?”

“Not in a long time.”

“But your husband’s cock could do it?”


He thought about that.  “But is it good?”

“I guess.”

“You guess?”

She turned away.  “At first it’s like heaven all over me.  But then …”

“Then it goes black?”

“And that part isn’t so good.”

“Maybe if you were in bed?”

“I’ve never blacked out in bed.”

“Really?  Where were you when your husband caused it?”

“In the back seat on a double-date.  Before we got married.”

“You weren’t lying down?”

“I was sitting over him.”

“I see.  Where else?”

“In a boat, after we got married.”

“Sitting again?”

She blushed.  “Straddling him.”

“Why does that embarrass you?”

She studied his face.  “I probably shouldn’t tell you.”


“His friend who owned the boat was behind me.”

“You mean …”  He grinned hugely.  “Both at once?”

She nodded, looking away.

“Only the one time, I gather.”

“That was the only time with two guys when everything went black.”  She sighed.  “I’m hungry.”

“So am I.  Go ahead and cook.”

“You don’t mind waiting?”

“To eat?”

“To come.”

He chuckled.  “You’re refreshingly conscientious, Betty.”  He resumed his seat at the table and gestured.  “Go ahead.  It’s easy to wait for the second shot.”

“Can I have a coke?”

“Anything you want.”

For a while he watched her busy preparations.  When he spoke, the fascination was evident in his voice.  “It sounds like your sex life got a pretty good start.”

“You think so?  The girl I double-dated with fucked all the jocks in the school.”

“All of them?”

“So everyone said.”

“Did you try?”

“No.  I don’t know how she did it.”

“Maybe she was a nymph.”

Looking over her shoulder, Betty shook her head.  “I don’t think she really liked fucking.”

“That’s hard to believe!”

“She liked being popular.  What I could never understand is why all the boys wanted her.”

“Teenage boys will fuck anything that holds still.”

“Well, she did reach in their pants.  If I guy grabbed me it would scare me.”

“You got over that, I think.”

“I guess.”  She smiled at him.  “I guess the guys finally get over grabbing.”

“Tell me about your double fucks.  I think that’s still pretty unusual.”

“Maybe so.  I only met a few shillies who had tried it.  Jim had a very close friend.  They practically lived together through school.  We called him Arty.  He sort of moved in after the honeymoon.  Jim liked to fuck on the living room couch.  Arty would watch.  After about a week Jim said, ‘Help him out.’”


“A blow job the first time.  But in a few days he was fucking me too.  He bought a power boat and we all went fishing.  The first time they both fucked me was on the boat.  That’s when I blacked out.”

“You said you don’t like blacking out.”

“I don’t like that part, but the lead-up to it — wow!”

“So two men were good, eh?  You implied they did it again.”

“Every night.  I was worried it would make me incontinent, but it didn’t.”

“But you didn’t black out again.”


“That time in the car with your husband-to-be — was it your first time with him?”


He chuckled.  “Maybe novelty has something to do with it: a new man!”

“You think?”

He sat in thought another minute.  “How did you fuck two at once?”

“According to the shillies, it’s called a ‘Greek sandwich.’”

“That’s why you were worried about incontinence.”

“Of course.  They said you could put two in your pussy but I don’t think the guys thought of that.”

“Maybe not.  Although if Jim and Arty were as close as you say, I’d bet they knew the other’s cock as well as their own.”

“You think?”

“You never saw one suck the other?”

“No.  They didn’t do it in front of me.”

“Then Jim died.  What happened to Arty?”

“He died too.  Just before Jim.”

“Really?  How?”

“He ate a bad fish.  Full of agricultural runoff.  It poisoned him.  They found him on his boat.”

“Good god!  Both of your lovers were poisoned?”

She sighed.  “That’s what the cops said after Jim.  Arty had been living with us.  The cops suspected Jim was sharing me.”

“And you were innocent in both cases?”

“Not Jim’s, according to the jury.”

“And here I am, asking you to cook for me.”

She turned around, paring knife in hand.  “Don’t you trust me?”

He stood up, came to her and hugged her tightly against him.  “With my life.”  He closed his eyes and kissed her passionately, tongue delving.  The knife clattered to the floor.  When their mouths parted at last, she was breathing heavily.

He said thoughtfully.  “Coincidence did you in.  Jim’s ex-girlfriend must have known about Arty.”

Betty sighed.  “She did.  I guess everybody did.  Too many people walked in on the three of us nearly naked, watching TV in the den.”

“What did the state claim was your motive to kill Jim?”

“To collect his insurance.”

“He had a lot?”

“Not a whole lot.  50 grand.  Of course I didn’t get it.”

“But the jury believed it.  You must’ve had a lot of old women on the jury.”

She shrugged.

He released her and handed her the retrieved knife.  “The oven light just went off.”

Shortly she slid the casserole dish into the stove and turned back to face him.  “I’ll have to keep an eye on it.  I don’t know how much your oven dial is off.”

“Neither do I.  We’ll watch it together.”  He fetched a straight chair, set it sideways before the stove and sat on it.  He spread his legs and took her hand.  “Help me get restarted.”

The woman smiled, leaned down and pumped his flaccid organ gently.  Turning her torso, she thrust a lumpy nipple into his face.  He mouthed it eagerly.  Without disconnecting from his mouth, she was soon able to open her legs, sit facing him in his lap and guide the rigid manhood within her.  She rocked her hips to obtain the desired friction without bumping herself out of his mouth.  Soon she began to giggle.  He saw that her eyes were closed and her lips drawn back almost in a grimace, but the soprano giggles were genuine.

He released the nipple and asked, “Is fucking funny?”

She paused and took a breath.  “What a cock does to a pussy is.”

“What makes it funny?”

“Because it’s so stupid.”

Stupid!  I certainly never heard anyone call it that before.”

“Think about it.”  Her hips resumed.  “It’s squirming back and forth in my belly.”  She giggled harder.  “What good is that?”

“It’s squirming because of the way you’re moving.”

“Want me to quit?”

“Hell, no!”

“Why not?”

“You mean you want to quit?”

She laughed.  “Hell, no!”

“Because it feels good, right?”

“Oh, god, it feels so good!  That’s what’s stupid.”

“It’s the way we’re wired.”

“Like I said: stupid.”  The giggling resumed.

He chuckled too.  “All right, it’s stupid.  But we both love it.”

“We’re stupid too.”  She giggled harder and her rhythm increased.  “Oh, god, Dan, I’m coming.”

He tilted the chair a little and thrust into her with all his strength.  She froze atop him, screeching through a tight throat.  After long seconds she relaxed upon him, face falling on his shoulder.  “Oh, god, I love your cock.”

“I’m glad it pleases you.”

She sighed and raised up enough to study his face.  “But you still didn’t come.”

He smiled.  “I’m not a teenager.  I can give you lots of fun while we go for my second shot.”

“Poor man.”

He suggested, “Lucky girl?”

She shook her head.  “I’m out of shape.”

“I love your shape.”

“You have a long cock, Dan.  I’m going to be sore, especially in my pussy.”

“I felt it banging your cervix but figured you’d stop it if you didn’t want it.”

“Oh, I love it, especially this way where it’s more a stroke than a bang.  I’ll toughen up like I did before.  Arty had a long one too.”

“Didn’t he do you in the ass?”

“Not always.  What about that?”

“You mean ass fucking?”

“Yes.  Will you insist on it?”

“Betty, I won’t insist on anything from you.”

Her expression was disbelieving.  “Won’t you?”

“You don’t know how unusual you are.  A woman who talks freely of her experiences, especially with sex — who’s done everything and liked it, and who looks like a Rubens model …  That’s a woman a man would be an absolute fool to upset.”

She chuckled with evident pleasure, “Thank you, I think.”

He continued earnestly, “Just one thing I don’t understand.  You said you’re not much on sex anymore, but you sure don’t show any lack of interest.”

She chuckled.  “I thought I wouldn’t care after 21 years …  Guess it all came back, like they say about riding a bicycle.”

He shook his head.  “Fucking is more fundamental than biking.”

“I hope my cooking comes back too.  You haven’t tasted it yet.”

“I’m sure it’s going to be great, but I don’t really care if it isn’t.”

“Don’t you?”  She craned her neck toward the oven window.  “It’s almost ready.”  She giggled.  “But I hate to get up.  It’s been so long since I could sit on a nice hard cock!”

Her hips began to rock again.

“I thought you were hungry!” he protested, lifting her buttocks out of his lap.

Her eyes flashed once but she took a deep breath and smiled.  “Actually I am.”

She set the table quickly, brought out the bubbling and aromatic casserole, served both of them from the same half of the dish, poured drinks and took her seat.

“Better blow on your first spoonful,” she advised, blowing her own.

By the second dip he was beaming at her.  “God, I love meat and cheese.  What a wonderful sauce!  You did this from memory?”

“You know it.  I’m glad you like it.  This was one of Jim’s favorites too.”

“Like it!  I can’t recall anything more delicious.  What do you call it?”

She shrugged.  “It’s just a hamburger casserole.  I’m surprised you had the right cheeses and spices.”

“Claire did a lot of cooking.  She used to try to please me.”

“What happened?”

He sighed.  “That dance instructor happened.  And for the first time I’m glad of it.”

“Are you, Dan?”

“I’m very glad.  Thanks for getting in my car, Betty.”

She smiled.  “That’s so sweet!”

“It’s the truth.”

They ate in a companionable silence, smiling often.  Once he reached across the table and lifted a heavy breast.  “I can’t remember Claire ever eating with me naked at the table.”

She giggled.  “It can be dangerous.  When you grow a big gut, you’ll find out.”

“No thanks, although if you keep this up I may.  I’ll want seconds at every meal.”

“Keep it up, Dan?”  Her eyes on his were sharp.

“I … want you to stick around.”


“And tomorrow.  As long as you will.”

Her eyes grew large and wet.  “Dan …”

He smiled at her, dragged the casserole dish towards him and took up the serving spoon.  To his surprise, however, her hand caught his before he could fill the spoon.  She said, “I’ll cook you another.”

He blinked.  “Half of this dish is left, and I know for sure nothing’s wrong with it!”

“No, you don’t know.”  She actually slipped the spoon out of his hand and pulled spoon and disk to her side of the table.

“Well, share it with me then.”

“Dan …  We aren’t going to eat this half.”

“Why not?”

She had scooped up the dish and turned to the sink.  While he awaited her explanation she spooned the contents into the hopper, turned on the disposal and scrubbed out dish and spoon under running water before shutting off the grinder.

When the noise ceased, he asked, “What in the world was wrong with it?”

She dried her hands on a dishtowel and turned to face him, sighing heavily.  “I’m going to tell you.  Then we’ll both learn something.”

He frowned.  “What’s the big deal?”

“You’ve heard of curare?”

“Yeah.  South American arrow poison.”

She nodded.  “Works by paralyzing the voluntary muscles.  Kills you because you can’t breathe.”

“Curare?”  He laughed incredulously.  “You don’t mean curare was in the casserole!”

“Not curare.  Aviole.”


“It’s used in surgical procedures.  Better than curare: not bitter-tasting.  Untraceable because enzymes in body fluids break it down in an hour or two.  Of course it kills you in ten minutes if nobody gives you artificial respiration.”

“Betty …  Where did you learn about that?”

“My last job was in the prison pharmacy.”

Wide-eyed, he rubbed his stomach.  “I don’t feel paralyzed.”

“Of course not.  The half we ate contained no aviole.”

His face set in a deep frown.  “You put aviole in that dish?  How?  Where’d you get it?”

“Sneaked it out in a toothpaste tube.”

“But … why did you want to kill me?”

She half-chuckled.  “Nothing personal.  In 21 years I met a lot of people with strange ideas about life.  I was locked in with some terribly bitter women with nothing to do but talk about what they’d done and, worse, what had been done to them.  I decided when I got out, I’d kill as many people as I could in the society that sent me up for something I didn’t do.  You were going to be my test subject, Dan.”

“What happened?  Didn’t it work?”

“Second thoughts.  I was mixing the poison into one end of the dish while you were playing with my boobs.  Then you fucked me from behind until everything went black.  I sort of put the dish in the oven without thinking but while I was sitting in your lap, I realized how stupid I was.”

“Jesus Christ!  Because you’d get caught?”

“Caught?”  She sniffed contemptuously.  “I’ve been careful what I touched.  I know where my fingerprints are.  After dark and a little polishing I would walk into town and disappear.  As far as anybody could tell, you’d have just quit breathing.”  She sighed again.  “Then I discovered I absolutely didn’t want that to happen.”


“Because … because it turns out you’re everything I didn’t know I wanted in a man.”  She sighed again.  “I guess I’ve blown it every way I can.  But I could never kill you, Dan.  You really did trust me with your life.”

For awhile he only sat quietly, studying her face and lush body.  Tears ran down her cheeks but she met his gaze resolutely.

He said thoughtfully, “They sent you to prison for poisoning someone and you figured if that’s what they thought of you, you’d do it up brown.”

She snuffled and nodded.  “That’s right.  Stupid, like I said.”

He chuckled grimly.  “I know a few people I wouldn’t miss, but Betty, you’ll have to give up that ambition.”

“I will?”

“If you want to stay with me.”

Her whole face changed.  “You … you’ll let me stay here after this?”

“Not every man has a woman he knows passed up the chance to kill him and not get caught.”

She blinked.  “Is that so important?”

“Not really.  I already told you what’s important.  It works both ways, Betty: you’re everything I didn’t know I wanted in a woman.”

“Oh, Dan!”  She dashed to him, straddled his lap and kissed him deeply while her tears wet his cheeks.  She lifted her buttocks and captured his turgid manhood without the need for hands.  As her hips began to rock, he said, “You were so right, Betty: we’ve both learned something.”


* * *


Hours later, lying beside her in his bed while she slept, he recalled her leaving the flight bag in the den when she entered the house, but he never saw her return to it.  Certainly her hands had been empty as she stepped into the shower.

Carefully he got out of bed, checked the pockets of her jeans and contents of the trash can in the kitchen.  No toothpaste tube.  Finally he unzipped her bag still in the den.  It proved to be completely empty.  He’d have to buy her more clothing in the morning.

Second thoughts indeed — and both learning, all right!  But who was learning the most?