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So yeah, like I said, this is a long story.  I’ve actually omitted quite a bit of dialogue between Marian and me.  She really grilled me about my marriage, why I do things, what I was hoping to accomplish, etc.  It was one hell of an interrogation.  But this is the meat and potatoes of it.  And the thrilling conclusion will be up as soon as I have time to write it.

————————————————————————————

Marian laughs brightly.  “Yeah, that would be a hell of a downside.”

I stay silent, sipping my coffee.  I can feel her smile fading.  “…you’re kidding, right?”

I shake my head.  “Nope.”

She stops cold.  I’m certain there’s a look of shock on her face, but I refuse to look back.  If this is going to work out, I have to keep going.  So I continue strolling down the sidewalk, maintaining an air of confidence and comfort.

Sure enough, a moment later, I hear her footsteps quicken as she powerwalks to my side.  “Wait, you’re married?”

“Indeed I am.”  I maintain my forward-facing stroll.  I can see Marian out of the corner of my eye, looking quite intently at my face.  Likely searching for some hint that I’m joking, or perhaps for guilt.  My expression is an unreadable half-smile, a relationship poker face.  She won’t see anything I don’t want her to see.

After a moment, she speaks again, and her voice has lost its mirth.  “Then why did we have dinner together?  Why have you been flirting with me?”

“Because you’re clever, and good company, and quite attractive,” I answer matter-of-factly.  Marian waits as though she’s expecting me to continue, but instead, I take a sip of my coffee, then wrinkle my nose.  “My coffee’s gotten cold.  Want to go get another?”

“Are you serious?”  I can hear the first hint of anger creep into her voice.  To be expected.  “You want to keep this up?”

“Why not?  It’s not as though we’re doing anything inappropriate.  We’re two people having a cup of coffee and spending time together, and having a good time of it.  I fail to see the problem.”

“The problem is you’re married,” she says, stressing the final word, putting a little venom in it.  “You have a wife.”

“A fact which, until now, has not stopped us from thoroughly enjoying each other’s company.”  I hook my thumb back and say, “I’m going to go back to the coffee stand and get another of these.  You’re welcome to join me if you’d like.  I’ll answer your questions honestly up until the point you begin to shriek and accuse me of horrible, if not entirely unwarranted, things.  Keep it civil, and you can ask me anything.  Otherwise, we can part ways.”

“I–”  Marian starts to say something, but I’ve already turned around.  “C’mon,” I say, and wave her over.

I walk alone.  Then footsteps, and Marian appears alongside me.  “How can you be so callous about this?”

“There’s a difference between being callous and objective,” I answer.  “I have no desire to be cruel or insensitive.”

“The implication being that a married man taking a woman on a date isn’t inherently cruel?” she asks.

“That’s why I told you in the first place.”

Marian holds her right bicep with her left hand, a protective posture.  She grows silent again as we walk, looking down toward the concrete.  It’s not awkward for me, as I’d been expecting this from the moment I considered telling her, but I imagine she feels decidedly uncomfortable.

“I know you’ve got a question,” I prompt after a moment.

She looks over at me, frowning slightly.  She takes a deep breath.  “Why did you ask me out?”

“I told you, because you’re clever and attractive.  Those qualities don’t often pair up in people.”

“No, I mean…”  She hesitates.  “If you’re married, why did you ask me out?”

“There it is,” I say.  I toss my coffee cup into a nearby trash can.  “The honest answer is, I don’t know.  I could speculate for hours, and believe me, I have.  I want to say it’s because I’m unhappy, but that’s not entirely true, because my wife is my best friend.”  I shove my hands into my jacket pockets to keep from fidgiting.  “But sometimes that’s not enough.”

“But that doesn’t give you the right to cheat on her.”

“Nothing does.”

Marian continues to look at me.  “So you acknowledge it.”

“Of course I do,” I answer.

“And that doesn’t strike you as callous?”

I start to respond, but stop when no words come to me.  I can’t help but smile a little.  “You got me there,” I admit, and I chuckle as I glance toward her.  “Like I said, you’re clever.”

I detect the feint hint of a smile at the corners of her lips, but she suppresses it.  After another moment of silence, she asks, “So were you just planning on trying to get me in bed or something?”

I laugh again, more out of surprise than amusement.  “Well, that was blunt.”

“You said I could ask anything as long as I was civil,” she reminds me.

“That I did.”  My fingers fidgit like crazy in my pockets.  “The answer is, mostly, no.”

“Mostly?”  There’s a sense of incredulity in her tone.

“Mostly,” I repeat.  “I honestly just wanted to get to know you.  We had an interesting encounter in the store, and I wanted to see where it went.  I had no intention of trying to bed you.”  I consider this for a moment, then add, “However, if things had gone that direction, I can’t say I wouldn’t have followed through with it.  But it wasn’t my primary goal.”

“It’s still a little sleazy.”

“Only when you think about it.”  I shrug.  “I try not to do that.”

The smile plays at Marian’s mouth again as we approach the coffee stand.  I turn and face her, and she looks up at me.  We make eye contact for the first time since my admission.  “Look, I’m not going to deny that my behavior has been less than stellar.  If you want to go, that’s fine.  I’ll give you a ride, or money for a cab if you’d prefer.  But I’d rather you stay and have another cup of coffee with me.  Even if this doesn’t go anywhere, you’re better company than I’ve had in ages, and I’d still like to get to know you, propriety be damned.”  I gesture to the coffee stand.  “So, I’m going to have another cup of coffee.  If you’d like one, I’m still buying.”

Marian looks at me for several long moments.  “You know you’re not getting me in bed.”

“I hadn’t presumed otherwise.”  I gesture toward the coffee stand again.

She sighs and shrugs.  “Fuck it.  Not like I have anything else to do.”

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I’ve had a number of people ask me what happened with Marian, the lovely woman from the grocery store.  It’s a lengthy story, so it’ll be at least two parts.  Here’s the beginning.  Enjoy.

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“That’ll be $7.64.”  The kid behind the counter slides two cups of coffee across the granite slab.

“Thank you kindly,” I respond as I hand him a ten.  “Keep the change.”  I move to a nearby table and prepare the two cups with generous helpings of cream and sugar, then pass one off to my companion, Candice, a.k.a. Marian the Librarian.

“Such a gentleman,” she says as she accepts the cup, passing it from hand to hand as it cools.  “What did you say this is called again?”

“A hammerhead.  An Americano with two shots of espresso.”  I gingerly take a sip of the scalding beverage.  “Think of it like drinking Red Bull with a No Doze kicker.”

Marian carefully drinks the coffee, then looks thoughtfully upward, making a show of smacking her lips as she considers it.  Then she shudders.  “Sweet Moses, that’s foul.”

We both laugh, and she proceeds to further dull the espresso flavor with additional cream.  “I’ll never understand the urge to cover the flavor of coffee with other things,” I remark as she pours several tablespoons of sugar into her cup.

“I wouldn’t if you ordered better drinks,” she says with a wry grin.  I hold my hands up in a gesture of concession.

A few minutes later, Marian and I are strolling side by side down the sidewalk.  The night air is crisp and cool, and the breeze carries the scent of coming rain, as clean an aroma as I can imagine.  I inhale deeply through my nose and sigh as I exhale.  “Damn do I love that smell.”

“Oh me too,” Marian answers.  She looks up at the sky, at the muted streetlight reflecting back from the clouds onto the city below.  “Though I’ll be a bit annoyed with Mother Nature if she decides to open up on me when I’m not carrying an umbrella.”

“Think of it as a scene from a romantic comedy,” I suggest, “or maybe an old-school musical.  Singing In The Rain did quite a number with that premise.”

“Yes, but you’re no Gene Kelly,” Marian points out.

I look at her, wide-eyed, mouth agape, putting on my best expression of shock and horror.  “Hey now, just because some of us aren’t built to be decidedly macho doesn’t mean we don’t bring something to the table,” I say, affecting offense.  “Donald O’Connor did a wonderful job in that movie, after all.”

“Yes, but you’re no Donald O’Connor,” she says, and the grin spreads across her face again.

“Don’t make me bust into an impromptu rendition of Make ‘Em Laugh,” I warn her, and she laughs again, a warm, rich sound.  She nudges me with her shoulder.

We walk in silence for a moment before she says, “You don’t seem the type to watch musicals.”

“You’d be surprised how often I hear things like that.”

“Probably not, actually.”  She glances over at me as she raises her no-longer-coffee to her lips.  “I get the distinct impression that I’m not the first woman you’ve wooed.”

I take a sip of my own coffee as I consider my response.  “Well… no, I suppose you’re not, though you’re one of very few who actually knew a thing or two about musicals.”  Something clicks in my mind, and I smile over at her.  “Wait, does that mean I’m effectively wooing you?”

Marian shrugs and answers, noncommittally, “Maybe.  I’m still trying to figure you out.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning,” she continues, “you seem…”  She ponders, choosing her words carefully.  “…too good to be true.”

I chuckle into my coffee cup.  “Care to elaborate?”

She smiles.  “Not particularly.”

“I bought you foul coffee,” I remind her.

“That you did.”  She toasts me before taking another drink.  Another moment to consider her words.  “I mean… It’s like you’re not a real person.  You’re like an amalgamation of all the good and interesting parts of a guy.  It’s like going on a date with Frankenstein’s monster version two-point-oh.”

I frown.  “De Niro’s Frankenstein, not Boris Karloff.  Dude was a lot taller than me.”

“See, right there!”  Marian laughs and pushes me playfully.  “Who the hell actually knows who Boris Karloff was anymore?”

“People who like old movies?”

“Yeah, see, that’s my point,” she says.  “No one likes old movies anymore.  You’re literate.  You’re a scientist.  You’re charismatic.  You know musicals.  You know pop culture.  You obviously work out.”  She glares at me.  “People like you aren’t supposed to exist outside a Katherine Heigl movie.”

“Only guy I can remember starring alongside her is Gerard Butler.  I’d kill to be that rugged.”

Marian rolls her eyes and pushes me again.  “Whatever.  Point is, you’re too put together.  It’s almost artificial.  I’m just waiting for the downside.”

I pause and glance toward her.  It’s obvious she’s into me.  If she weren’t, that bit of dialogue would never have happened, not to mention the way she’s smiling into her coffee cup.  She’s having a wonderful time with a guy who’s just as into her.

A guy she thinks is single.

I sigh silently and lift my coffee cup to my lips.  “I’m married.”

Tonight should be interesting indeed.

————————————————————————

“What can I do… my dear… to catch… your ear?”

I sing softly to myself as I examine the produce.  I pick up a plum, turning it over in my hand, giving it a gentle squeeze, testing its give.  Nice and firm, no blemishes.  I drop it into my bag.

“I love you madly, madly, madam librarian, Marian…”

Another plum, and another.

“Heaven help us if the li-berry caught on fire, and the volunteer hose brigademen had to whisper the news to Maaaaaaaaaaaarian…”

I grab a hand of bananas and move on to the tomatoes.

“Madam libraaaaaaaaaaarian…”

I test the romas as I had the plums.  Gentle squeeze, a brief examination of the skin.  I put one back and try another.

“What can I say… my dear… to make… it clear… I need you badly, badly, madam librarian, Marian…”

Suddenly a voice across from me, a light, melodic sound, “If I stumbled, and I busted my whatchamacallit, I could lie on your floor unnoticed, ’til my body had turned to caaaaaaaaaa…”

“…rrion,” I finish for her.  I grin across the mound of produce to the source of my sudden duet.  She has a cute face, thin-framed glasses, and a charming smile.  Her short mousey brown hair is held back with small clips around the crown of her head, and she wears a blue with floral print summer sundress.  She’s short and slightly chubby, but still pretty in a very natural, “real women have curves” kind of way.

“Don’t know many guys who know The Music Man,” she remarks with a playful flash of remarkably straight pearly whites.

“Are you kidding?” I say as I pluck up another roma tomato.  “Robert Preston was a real man’s man, and Harold Hill was a straight smooth-talker.  I can’t imagine a better role model for today’s men.”

She laughs brightly.  “How about someone who wasn’t a pathological liar and womanizer?”

“Not a womanizer,” I say defensively, but playfully, “a salesman.  Professor Hill just knew what he wanted.  Besides, it worked out well for Marian the Librarian, didn’t it?”

“I suppose so.”  She laughs again, pauses (nervously, I think), and extends her hand over the tomatoes.  “Candice.”

“Charmed,” I answer with a smile of my own.  I give her hand a squeeze as gentle as that I use on the produce.

I continue along the aisle, and she keeps pace with me, looking at the various vegetables in passing.  “So what brings you to the ol’ produce aisle, Candice?”

“Well, given the context, I’d say I’m out of vegetables.”

“Ooh, sarcasm,” I say lightly as we step alongside each other.  “A lost art if there ever was one.”

She grins and shrugs, dropping her hands to hold them at her waist.  A passive pose that evokes images of innocence, a sweet girl standing outside the church on a Sunday afternoon, clutching her handbag.  “Yeah, sorry, it’s the go-to response for me.”

“Understandable,” I answer reassuringly.  “You never know what kind of sleazy people you’re going to meet in the produce aisle.  Sarcasm helps weed out the jerks.”

Another laugh, and Candice turns to approach the next aisle.  I fall into step beside her.

“Are you insinuating that you’re not a jerk?” she asks as she plucks various colors and shapes from the pile.

“Why would I do that?” I say.

Candice is quite for a moment as she looks at me, looking slightly confused.  I simply smile as we look at each other.  The confusion gives way to another charming smile, and she laughs.  No, she giggles.  It’s adorable.

“Well, if I didn’t know any better,” she says tentatively, “I’d say you were hitting on me.”

“Perhaps, but I’m not sure yet,” I answer as I fish my cell phone out of my pocket.  I hold it out to her.  “Tell you what.  Give me your phone number, let’s grab a few drinks tonight, and we’ll see if I’m hitting on you or not.”

Candice looks at my phone, her raised eyebrows indicating her surprise.  She looks back to my eyes and laughs.  “My, you’re certainly direct, aren’t you?”

“Only sometimes.”  I smile and continue to hold my phone out.

Candice smirks and narrows one eye as she examines me.  Then she carefully takes my phone, taps a few times on the screen, and puts it back to sleep.  She passes it back to me.  “I have an appointment at 6:00, so pick me up at 8:00 outside the mall.”

“I’ll see you then,” I answer.  Candice smiles one last time, turns quickly, her dress flourishing around her calves, and paces away.

I look at what she typed into my phone:

Candice, a.k.a.
Marian the Librarian

555-245-5886
See you at eight, Professor Hill.

I pocket my phone and briefly watch her walk away.  Candice looks back at me before she rounds the corner and disappears.

I turn back to the produce, hefting a few potatoes and giving them the once-over, singing to myself, “But when I try… in here… to tell… you dear… I love you madly, madly, madam librarian, Marian…”

Oh lord, am I ever happy you only turn 30 once.  I celebrated this in the most debauched manner possible.  (I didn’t know my body was still capable of processing that much ethanol in one sitting.)  Fortunately, I survived, with a few more battle scars, and another notch on the ol’ bedpost.  Maybe I’ll share in the near future.  But, for now, here is the conclusion to my most recent memory.  Enjoy.

———————————————————————–

I lift my head and place two fingers under Jenny’s chin, turning her face toward mine.  Her eyes are closed, but she opens them as I place my hand against the side of her neck.  We look at each other, and I practically count the seconds as they tick by, waiting for the right moment.  But Jenny surprises me by lifting her lips to mine quickly, and with more eagerness than I had anticipated.  Her tongue grazes my lips, and I hear a faint sound of longing emanate from her throat as we kiss on the front porch swing.

She may not be skilled at flirting, but Jenny is a remarkably talented kisser.

She wraps one arm around my shoulders, and her other hand rests comfortably against my sternum.  Whatever hesitance had previously possessed her has gone; she begins squeezing my shoulders, my upper arms, my chest, almost as though exploring, testing the consistency, the “give” of my body under her fingers.  As her hands discover new places to examine, her kisses increase in intensity, the occasional lash against my lip developing into a full dance between our tongues, moving from my mouth to hears, with an occasional break when she ducks her head just enough to permit her to bite my lip, tugging it insistently, pulling me closer to her, maneuvering me with her mouth against mine.  Before I realize it, she’s pulled me to the middle of the swing and has vaulted onto my lap, straddling my waist.

She breaks the kiss and looks down at me, eyes glassy, lips parted as she pants softly for breath.  I place my hands on her hips and pull her down against me, knowing that her skirt has left only her undergarments between her skin and my jeans.  She rocks back and forth along my zipper, and the hardness beneath, and her glassy eyes almost roll back into her head, which falls back as she groans softly.  She grips my neck, bracing herself as she moves along with the motion I’ve established, and lifts her head to look at me again.

“We need a place to go,” she whispers between thrusts.  “Right now.”

I contemplate this, as deeply as my one-track mind will permit.  “Well… the bedroom is being used by the potheads, so that’s out…”  I glance toward the parking lot.  “We could take my truck someplace, if you wanted, but it will be cramped…”

“UGH.  FUCK that.”  She leans back and begins grappling with my belt.  It only takes me a moment to catch up to her train of thought, and I practically slap her hands away to more quickly free myself.  Jenny reaches under her skirt, and I feel her hand wrapping around my shaft.  Sensitive skin rubs against cotton, then against her own bare flesh, hot and incredibly moist.  She positions herself against me, adjusts the lay of her skirt to more fully cover us, grips the sides of my neck again, and relaxes her legs.  Gravity forces her down, slides my cock into her until I can feel her cervix pressing against me.  Her expression is somewhat pained at first, but as she begins to rock, her face gradually relaxes.  I try to match her movements, but the sway of the porch swing under us prevents me from from discovering a comfortable rhythm.  She is seemingly unbothered by the swaying, using it to keep herself moving with minimal effort, and is too caught up in the moment to notice my difficulty.  Instead, I slide my hands along her stomach beneath the tank top, enjoying the feel of baby fat beneath my hands, the softness diminishing as I move further up along her torso, her breasts small but quite firm beneath my touch.  I explore her body as she explored mine, testing the softness of her skin, the tension of her muscles as she rocks against me, as she finds her release, and I find mine.

Jenny catches her breath and slides off of my lap, groaning in the process.  She adjusts her clothing again as she sits beside me on the swing, then puts her head on my shoulder with a long, satisfied sigh.  “That was truly enjoyable,” she comments.

I sigh and give my own grunt of affirmation.  I slip my arm around her shoulder and pull her in closer to my side.  “Enjoyable, and thoroughly appreciated,” I answer.

Jenny gets situated against me, her head back in the follow below my collar.  I hear her say, almost timidly, “That was a one-time deal, wasn’t it?”

I look down at her.  “That depends,” I say, the concern obvious in my voice.  “If you mean, was that the beginning of an unexpected relationship… I’m afraid the answer is no.  But if you’re asking whether we can do this whenever we want… well, I suppose that’s up to you.”

“You have a girlfriend,” she says matter of factly.

“Which is why this isn’t a relationship.  Well, not yet, anyway.  I don’t know about the future.  I just try to bask in the present.”  I kiss the top of her head.  “And presently, I am thoroughly enjoying your company, and would have whether this happened or not.”

Jenny says nothing for a few moments, then she says, almost defeatedly, “That’s what I was afraid of.”  She turns her head and kisses my chest.  “For what it’s worth, you’re probably the most incredible guy I’ve ever met.  But I’m no one’s plaything.”

“I understand,” I answer honestly.

Jenny quietly rises from the swing, picks up her melted drink, and goes back inside.  I retrieve my scotch, also thoroughly melted, flick the june bug off the rim, and take a long, hard pull.

I slide a bit to the left and pat the space beside me.  ”By all means.  History teaches us that it’s the victor’s responsibility to help the defeated recover.”

“Funny,” Jenny assures me.  She adjusts the long folds of her skirt before sitting beside me.  We immediately begin rocking the swing gently.  ”You’re the first person to beat me at Risk in a long time.”

“Ehh, just got lucky,” I respond.  “Game could have gone either way if the dice hadn’t rolled for me.”

“No, seriously, how’d you get so good?”

Ice rings against glass as I sip my scotch somberly.

“Pfft.  Fine, don’t tell me, then.”  She plucks the cigarette out of my hand and takes a long drag, exhaling as she puts her head on my shoulder.  We’d cuddled on numerous occasions, but always in a strictly friendly manner, so I don’t read too much into it.  We sit in silence, the only sounds those of the creak of the swing, ice against glass, and the occasional drone of a june bug kamikaze-ing past our heads.  It’s a comfortable thing, really.

“You’re an interesting guy,” Jenny remarks from my shoulder.

I quirk an eyebrow and glance down at her.  ”Beg pardon?”

I feel more than see her shrug.  ”You’re not the type to play games, that’s all.”

I pause.  ”Meaning…?”

“Meaning, smart guys who play games aren’t supposed to look like you and Hank.”  Normally I would laugh and point out the ridiculousness of her assertion that I am anything but average compared to Hank, but I detect a hint of a slur toward the end of the s-heavy sentence.  I immediately wonder how many of those cola concoctions she’s consumed in the couple of hours since our game ended.  Presumably, the answer is “many”.

“Hank’s really not that smart,” I say wryly.  She punches my thigh, and I grab her hand, not forcefully, but with enough persistence to communicate my intentions.  She wrestles against my grip briefly, then catches on, and slowly laces her fingers with mine.  She turns her head and kisses my shoulder, awkwardly so, enough that I can tell she’s nervous, and likely somewhat inexperienced at flirtation.  I put my arm around her shoulders encouragingly.

Jenny nestles into my side and sighs comfortably.  She rests her cheek in the hollow just beneath my collar.  ”This is nice,” she murmurs.

“It is.”  I run my hand along the bare flesh of her upper arm shoulder, tracing the thin outline of the tank top, and tilt my cheek into her hair.  She smells of tea tree oil and rum.  Not a bad combination.

“Why don’t we do this more often?”

“Because then it wouldn’t be special,” I answer immediately, as I lean my head back against the top of the bench swing.  “As things stand, these moments wherein it’s just you and me, sitting together, with nothing else to worry about, are wonderfully enjoyable.  Do it too often, and your fondness for these moments will fade.”

I feel her head lift a little, as though considering this.  “You think so?”

“Yep.  You have to do these things sparingly to maintain their significance.  Otherwise it becomes rote.  Or you have to up the ante.”

She moves a bit more, sitting up straighter, but still pressed against my torso.  “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean, we will always remember these moments fondly, so long as they don’t happen all the time, or if something else happens to make one night particularly stand out in memory.”

Jenny is silent for a few moments, then she whispers, “Like what?”  Her voice is hesitant, but I can hear tension mixed with excitement.

The devil on my shoulder smiles approvingly.

———————————————————————————-

And that, unfortunately, is where I must leave this story for now.  I’ve written more, but this is such a natural stopping point that I just can’t bring myself to post more of this story here.  Never fear, there will be a concluding third part.

For those interested parties, the reason I have to leave this memory unfinished for the time being is because… and I am loath to say this… I must attend my 30th birthday party.

That’s right, folks.  Bimodal is turning 30 tomorrow, and is none too happy about it.  Don’t be surprised if you see a post about me vs. aging in the near future.

In the meantime, I am going to go defile my body.  I’m talkin’ things that would make Hieronymus Bosch shit his britches.

I have a confession to make.

I am a nerd.

Not just any old nerd.  I’m a super nerd capable of giving the fellas on The Big Bang Theory a run for their money.   I own every video game system that’s been released in the U.S. since the original NES, and my collection of games is truly impressive.  I even have a special chair for retro gaming–a big, comfy papasan that I can burrow into while playing Final Fantasy VI.  I spend thousands of dollars on custom computer gaming rigs just to make sure I can run the latest titles at maximum resolution and settings.  I am a connoisseur of classic and modern board games, from chess and backgammon to Carcassonne and Ghost Stories.  I’ve not only played Dungeons and Dragons for almost fifteen years; I’ve been a DM for seven.  I can (and will) argue that video games are a valid art form, as are comic books.  I watch cartoons, and science fiction television, with unapologetic passion (The Highlander, Invader Zim, Dragon Ball Z, and Death Note are some of my favorite television series ever).  I read Jim Butcher (my favorite modern author), R.A. Salvatore, and Simon R. Green.   The random contraptions I’ve built would bring a tear to the eye of the most avid MythBuster.  And finally, I do science, not because it pays well (it doesn’t), but because I genuinely think it’s cool.

Fortunately, I’m just as passionate about physical fitness as I am recreational gaming and reading.

I say this to give you a bit more information about me, and to provide a bit of background for the following.  It’s my first multi-part post in a long while, because I just don’t have the time to keep writing tonight.  Enjoy.

————————————————————————————

My fingers are laced together, obscuring my mouth from view as I contemplate the scenario before me.  The relative probabilities of success surge through my mind in binomial equations and density curves.  I see multiple avenues of approach, but nothing that comes without a hefty risk.  But the potential rewards…

Beside me, Hank grumbles, “Dude, you’re taking forever.”

“World conquest isn’t something one pursues hastily,” I answer.

I survey the board, assessing troop placement, reinforcements per turn, and relative army strengths in what is the most intense game of Risk I have ever played.  Today is–Lord, this is hard to admit–day three of the game.  What started as a friendly six person Thursday afternoon game has gradually become a cut-throat battle between me and the person across the table: Jenny.

I glance up at her, a lovely specimen of gamer chick, with her fit, pear-shaped frame.  She is observing the board as intently as I am, lips pursed, blonde-and-chocolate highlights framing a slender, almost angular face and blue eyes that flit to and fro in concentration.  I see her focus on Australia.  I’ve been amassing forces there for the better part of two days, preparing for a major siege of Asia.  She knows it’s coming, and she’s been fortifying her territories there.

Hank grumbles again, “Dude, seriously, are you ever going to go?”

I click my tongue and shake my head.  “Patience, padawan.”  I casually reinforce Australia, and drop another few on Greenland and Alaska for good measure.  A quick skirmish from Alaska.  Fortify Alaska.  Then Jenny moves.  As expected, she fortifies Siam, India, and China, ready at a moment’s notice.

But it’s all a ruse.  In Chapter XX of The Prince, Machiavelli wrote that the problem with a fortress is that it draws attention, which is precisely what I wanted.  While she’s been focused on my upcoming Australian attack, she’s left Africa relatively unguarded, poorly enough that I can sweep through from Brazil.  By simultaneously attacking from Australia to keep her from moving her forces, I can control Africa in no more than two turns, then it’s a simple matter of pushing through Europe from Greenland and North Africa while keeping her Asian forces occupied from Alaska and Australia.

My turn.  Drop every reinforcement on Brazil.  Full attack from Australia, Greenland, and Alaska.  Fortify Brazil from Venezuela.  I hear Jenny whisper, “Oh fucking hell,” and I smile.  She sees it coming, but it’s too late.  On my next turn, I unleash plastic figurine hell.  The game is over in 20 minutes.  Hank and Jenny stare at the board, now dominated by my blue armies.  “Dude, fucking really?  I didn’t see that shit coming.”

“I’m the Keyser Söze of Risk,” I answer with a smile.

Jenny busts out laughing.  “Seriously, you had me so freaked out about Australia and Alaska that I never imagined you’d try from South America.  You just brain fucked me.”

“The greatest trick the Devil ever played,” I say as I start cleaning up the board.  Jenny chucks a six-sided die at me.  I let it hit my chest.

Following clean-up, I grab a glass of scotch and excuse myself to the front porch.  The sun has long since set, and Hank has resumed drinking heavily and chatting up the few remaining girls from a party in which I’d taken no part.  I’m mentally exhausted from the three day long battle, and I have no desire to deal with loud music and drunk women.  Instead, I light a cigarette and sit on the porch swing, watching the fireflies dance through the yard, basking in the warmth of the summer night.  I recap the game in my mind, piecing through my errors and considering what to do in similar situations in the future.

“Glad to see you’re enjoying your victory.”  Jenny’s voice yanks me from my reverie.  I look toward the door and see her leaning against the door frame, arms folded as though judging me, but she’s smiling quite genuinely.  She holds up her own glass, a dark soda-based concoction, and asks, “Mind if I join you?”

If you’ve ever read my pages “Players on my Stage” or “What the Categories Mean”, you’ll have noticed that I talk a lot about Kelly as being a major contributor to who and what I am today.  The following memory is an example of why I think so.

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My cell phone vibrates beside me, the sound of plastic rattling against my wood desk drawing my attention from my writing.  I pick it up and look at the screen.  My heart skips a beat.  Slowly, almost cautiously, I flip the screen up and hold the thing to my ear.  I try to sound natural.  “Hello?”

“Hey!”  Kelly sounds happy, an uncommon occurrence since our break-up months ago.  “What are you doing?”

“Oh, writing a paper on insulin-like proteins as growth factors in fruit flies,” I respond.  It’s hard to sound nonchalant when you talk about neurobiology, but I think I pull it off nicely.  “What are you up to tonight?”

“Cleaning my house,” she answers.  “I’m trying to move my furniture around too, but my piano is too heavy.  Can you maybe come over and help me out a bit?”

She needs my help.  Figures.  “Oh, well… I’m kind of busy right now.  I have to get this paper finished before Friday so I can work on my capstone reading over the weekend, so I don’t think–”

“I’ll make it worth your while.”  Kelly’s voice takes on that tone.  Husky, almost raspy, but full of promise.  It sets my stomach turning in eager anticipation, and my breath catches.  She knows that got my attention, and I detect a hint of victorious smugness when she says, “The sooner you get here, the better.”

I swallow and find my voice again.  “I’ll be there in twenty.”

Kelly still lives in our old apartment.  I moved out when she broke up with me, but she decided to stay and “make new memories”.  I pause at the door and consider the nature of those memories.  After we parted ways, Kelly gave herself over completely to her baser instincts, not because she wanted to explore them, but, I suspected, because she wanted to hurt me.  And she did.  Often.  Calling me while she was being fucked by a stranger, just so I could hear her moaning.  Sending me pictures of her sucking another guy’s dick.  Bragging about her raunchy encounters with multiple partners when I show up at the bar, then laughing when she sees the pain on my face.  Even her best friends apologize to me for her behavior, assuring me she’s only doing it to make me suffer, and she doesn’t talk about it when I’m not around.  I know Kelly is only concerned about making me as miserable as she’s become over the past year, and I know that doing what I know will inevitably happen tonight will only drive me deeper into the ground.  Yet there I stand at the door, knocking lightly, waiting for her to appear at the door.

And when it finally opens… holy shit.

Kelly swings the door wide.  Her dark hair is pulled back into a working bun, and she has her librarian-styled reading glasses on.  And that’s it.  From head to toe, she is completely nude, and she leans against the door in such a way that every muscle in her dancer’s figure flexes tantalizingly.  She must have just shaved every inch of her body in preparation for my arrival, because her skin looks even more smooth than usual.  I can plainly see how moist and swollen she is, even from here.

“Hey there handsome,” she greets me cheerfully.  “Come on in.”

I just stand there and gawk.

Kelly quirks an eyebrow and smirks at me.  She steps out of the apartment and stands no more than an inch away from me, in clear view of anyone that might happen to walk by.  “You gonna make me stand out here naked?  Because you know I’ll do it.”

Wordlessly, I let her lead me inside.  She walks away from me, swaying her hips more than her stride would dictate.  Her ass is truly heart-shaped, toned from years of dance training, and she continues to smirk as she watches me stare at it.  “When you’re done ogling my ass, I’d appreciate it if you would move the piano so I can vacuum under it.”

I move the piano as instructed.  And the dining room table.  And the entertainment center.  And the couch.  It’s hard work by yourself, but every time I move another piece of furniture, Kelly rewards me by cleaning in the most erotic manner possible.  She pushes the vacuum farther than necessary, stretching her legs and torso, bending at the waist to give me a clear view of her pussy.  She stands almost on point to remove the cobwebs at the corners of the ceiling, her calves flexing, ass tightening, chest jutting forward.  She purposely spills water on her breasts and stomach as she washes the windows, again exposing herself to the outside world.  All the while, I watch, and work.  I feel almost drunk, my mind is so foggy, not thinking, just absorbing her every movement, her every command.

Several hours pass, and the apartment is spotless.  Kelly sighs and stretches languidly as she admires the room.  “Much better.”  Then she looks catlike toward me.  “I guess you want your reward.”

I’m so lightheaded I can’t find any words.  Kelly walks to the piano, pulls the small bench out, and straddles it.  As she spreads her legs open, her lips part, and she’s so aroused that, when she sits on the bench, she leaves behind a faint line of moisture.  She notices the line and smiles wickedly, then leans back against the piano and says, simply, “Clean that up.”

I move toward her and obediently fall to my knees before the bench.  I reach toward the moisture with my hand, but she grabs it and pushes it away.  “I didn’t say you could use your hands.”

I consider this as deeply as my befuddled brain will permit, which is to say, I don’t.  Instead, I lean my face toward the bench, no more than a breath away from her center.  I can smell her wetness, and feel the heat radiating off her.  I run my tongue across the bench, tasting first the sharp, acrid tang of polished wood, then the salty sweetness of her, the residue she left behind when she sat.  I do so slowly, not because I want to be sexy, but because my body will simply not work any faster.

I hear her say, breathlessly, “Very good.  Now clean me up.”

My face lifts, and I run my tongue across her.  I keep my hands on my knees as instructed, using only my mouth to pleasure her.  I trace the shape of her with the tip of my tongue, then lick heavily from anus to clit.  I lap up every drop of moisture she has.  And I keep going.  Heavy strokes of my tongue from bottom to top, slowly, methodically.  No variety, no deviations, I just do precisely as I’m told.  She makes no sound, no movement, nothing to suggest that she enjoys any of it.  So I am caught off guard when I feel her spasm beneath my tongue.  I look up toward her and see her eyes half-lidded, her mouth open in a wordless moan, as she cums harder than I’ve ever seen her before.  So hard she bends at the waist, curling in on herself.  So hard she even squirts a little, filling my mouth and covering my chin and shirt.  And I keep going, swallowing what she gives me as she cums again, licking her deliberately, until she finally gives in and pushes my head away from her.

Kelly breathes heavily, still leaning against the piano.  “Fuck you’re so good at that.”  I smile a little and start to remove my shirt, but she grabs my hand.

“Sorry honey, but no sex for you.  I’ve got Tony coming over in a while.  But thanks for getting me ready.”

Wait… what?

“I’ve got to take a shower.  Run along now, little doggy.”  Kelly climbs off of the bench and walks to the bathroom, leaving me sitting on the floor, covered in her juices.  I hear the shower activate and realize she’s serious.

I was right.  She just wanted to hurt me.  And she knew exactly how to do it.

I should be angry.  Fuck, I am angry.  But instead of confronting her, I simply stand up, put on my jacket, and leave the apartment.  It’s an all too familiar sensation, walking out of that place, knowing what she will be doing in a few hours, and being completely powerless to prevent myself from feeling betrayed, and used, and hurt.

“Serves you right,” I say to myself.  There is no bitterness in the words.  Only objectivity, as if I truly deserve to feel this way.  And on some level, I think I do.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, let me clue you in on a little secret: I’m pretty fucking insatiable in the sack.  Once in an evening is disappointing.  Twice is kids play.  Thrice is a good time.  Four times and I’ll be a bit tender and perhaps dehydrated, but otherwise completely functional.  Five is rare, but doable.  Six is my previous record for a single evening.

Until today.  I’m fairly certain that one more orgasm will pull my testicles clean out of my body.

I guess my conversation with Ashley must have set something off in her, because my return home has been pretty damn close to the 26-hour marathon I mentioned previously.  Oh sure, there have been breaks for a nice dinner, grocery and clothes shopping, and other mundane married activities.  But our time alone has been like fucking a totally different person.  Like the girl Ashley used to be has resurfaced, garbed in exotic lingerie and equipped with an assortment of sexual acoutrements that would make the most avid of sexual adventurers stand up and salute.

I have little more to say than that for the time being.  Ashley is on her way home from a meeting, and she says she has a surprise for me.  I don’t know what that means, but the tone of her voice has my previously exhausted boys raring for round eight.  It can’t be healthy, but fuck if I’m going to argue with it.

Additionally, following my retelling of the failed encounter with Molly, I have had a number of requests for another story of failure.  My next post will thus be a recounting of one of my more grandiose sexual faceplants.

Until then, dear readers, I’m going to go bathe in KY and wait for Ashley to come home.

Well, I figured it was going to be awkward.  But I didn’t expect it to border on lunacy.

I arrived at work this morning and paused outside the main doors to the office building that houses my workspace for the remainder of my research trip.  Just beyond the entrance is the dispatch desk, where the emergency protocol people sit and listen for someone to hit the Big Red Oh-Shit button and initiate rescue procedures.  Where I suspected Molly to be lying in wait, prepared to pounce on me the moment I walked inside.  My behavior seems totally justified to me, and my rational apparent, but given her mental faculties, she probably needs to ask me why I left.  (Yes, I know I’m making her out to be an idiot.  But come on, did you read my last post?  She may very well be!)

I steeled myself, cranked up my music (in case she called out to me, I would have a reasonable excuse to ignore her) and barged inside.

No one was there.  (Good thing no one fell through the ice at that moment.  They’d have been shit out of luck.)

I won the karmic lottery.  I did my own version of the Happy Dance all the way down the hall, which is somehow more enjoyable when performed to Volbeat’s “Sixteen Dollars”.  I celebrated my good fortune with a long morning of orange pekoe, trail mix, and computer code.

But I guess it’s not a good idea to celebrate when karma throws you a bone.

Shortly after lunch, I stepped out of my office to visit the washroom.  She must have seen me go in, because when I swung the door open to leave, there she was, arms folded angrily, foot tapping, a scowl plastered across her adorable face.  (Dammit, why’d she have to be ignorant?  Or, why couldn’t I just ignore it?)  I started to speak, but she cut me off.  Whoa boy, did she cut me off.

“What the fuck happened last night?!”

A word on the architecture of buildings dedicated to the advancement of science.  Gone are the days of cramped taupe hallways and lifeless tile.  The new trend is to make them very open in order to populate them with things relating to the associated field of study, usually accompanied by a similar color palate.  Given its purpose as a center for landscape ecology, this building has living trees growing out of holes in the tile.  I’m not sure how they got them through the foundation, but there they are.  To encourage their growth and vitality, the ceilings are vaulted glass, simulating a greenhouse.  They also provide fantastic acoustics.

Molly’s expletive echoed up and down the hall for a good two seconds.

Everyone in the hall immediately looked our way.  Doors started opening, and curious heads and torsos began to materialize in the door frames.  Such language hadn’t been heard in those halls since the Great Firing of Pete Haubash in 2004, so this was already one heck of a show for the onlookers.  A show that Molly apparently decided needed to go on.

Before I could recover my wits, Molly had her finger in my chest and was standing on her toes, pressed almost right against me.  (DAMMIT why did she have to be ignorant.)  “I’ll tell you what happened–you pussied out on me!!”

So yeah, she didn’t get it.  Figured.

Again, I tried to speak.  I’m pretty sure I was able to utter two syllables: “No I–”

“Well GUESS WHAT mister.”  Molly punctuated those two words by jabbing me in the chest, over a slightly tender bruise, making me wince.  Her voice reached a feverish pitch as she stated,

“YOU–” *jab* “–aren’t MAN ENOUGH–” *jab jab* “–to take ME–” *jab* “–home!!!!!”

Molly promptly turned on her heel and stormed away, calling over her shoulder, “Bastard!!”

You’ve got to admire the sound architecture in that place.  Seriously, that one seemed to hang in the air for at least three seconds.

The onlookers watched her storm off.  Then they turned to me, wide-eyed, slack-jawed, waiting for my response.

I had a moment to consider my response.  I could have been professional about it.  Shrugged it off and walked away.  Chalked it up to experience.  Or I could have been a smart ass.

Guess which one I chose.

……………………………professionality, of course.  Christ, you think so little of me.  I do have my career to consider, after all.

I smiled and gave an over-the-top shrug toward the onlookers.  “Can’t please ’em all, I guess.”

Good choice.  They laughed and went about their business.

I saw Molly behind the dispatch desk as I was leaving.  Because I’m a guest at the office for the week, I have to sign out when I leave, and she was beside the book.  Figures.  I stepped up and casually scrawled my name and time out on the form.  She glared at me the entire time.   No words were exchanged, and I exited without incident.

So, not all of my encounters with women end as positively as the stories I have posted thus far.  My libido usually steers me in the right direction, though the destination is usually riddled with guilt.  But this time it took me on a fascinating detour, leaving me with an in-office legacy and a new-found appreciation for the power of acoustics.

There is a moral to be had there, but for the life of me I can’t see it.

ARGH THIS MEMORY NEVER ENDS.

Sorry everyone.  I am utterly exhausted after a very long day of field work and can not possibly write any longer.  This is going to have to be a three-parter.  (Don’t worry, I’m ashamed of myself, too.)  The conclusion will be posted tomorrow night, I promise!

—————————————————————————————

Her name is Marisha.  She’s barely shorter than me, with shortly cropped hair and the figure of a person who spends hours in the ocean every day, which is currently clad in denim shorts and a plaid button-down.  I met her at the leatherback hatchling release I operated with the conservation group.  The day had been organized around a series of games and awareness activities for sea turtle conservation, one of which I was running, showing the hatchlings to attendees and explaining the reproductive ecology of the turtles.  Marisha, an aspiring conservationist, sat in on my demonstration three times.  I was so impressed by her that I broke protocol (only a little) and let her hold one of the hatchlings.  I’d never seen anyone so excited.  I must have made an impression, because she recognizes me immediately.

“Turtle boy!” she squeals as she rushes through the passage from the main part of the house.  She hugs me tightly, almost knocking me and my chair over in the process.

I laugh and return her embrace, steadying myself.  “Whoa, hi Marisha!  I didn’t know you lived here!”

“Yeah, dis is my father’s house,” she says, grinning.  “I live here when I’m not in school.”  Marisha notices our glasses.  “Hey, no one is drinking rum without me!”  She turns and looks for the bottle, and I can’t help but watch her hips as she does so.

I suddenly remember Ronnie and his half-giant cousin, Marisha’s father.  They’re looking at me with obvious amusement.  I’m fairly certain my face could teach red a new trick or two.  “….sorry, couldn’t help it,” I say softly, hoping Marisha doesn’t notice our conversation, and that the inhumanely large man doesn’t break me in half for ogling his daughter.

Goliath just laughs and punches me in the arm, lightly I’m sure, but being clobbered by a bus at 5 miles an hour is still being clobbered by a bus.  “Is okay white boy, don’ worry,” he reassures me.  “Marisha is a smart girl!  She can make up her own mind!”  I would defend myself, but Marisha has come back to the table with the bottle and a glass.

“Make up my mind about what?”

“WHETHER YOU WANT TO DRINK OR NOT!”  I fairly scream the response before Ronnie or Fezzik have a chance to spell it out for me.  Both of them laugh again.

The evening passes pleasantly.  Ronnie and Jotun drink heavily, and their heavy accents gradually thicken and become completely unintelligible to me.  Marisha and I busy ourselves talking about the turtle awareness event, what she enjoyed most, and why she wants to be a conservationist.  She’s a smart girl, well-read and educated.  I have a good time talking to her, which I ensure doesn’t change by minimizing my alcohol intake.  She, however, doesn’t, and the three of them continue drinking long into the night.  Eventually, Ronnie staggers home, having consumed enough ethanol to strip-shine a bumper, and his cousin excuses himself (presumably to resume bearing the world on his inebriated shoulders), leaving Marisha and I alone in the bar extension.  I check my watch and am shocked to see that it’s only 11:00.

“Wow, it’s not nearly as late as I thought,” I comment.  I look at the bottle which still contains little of the amber liquid, and a thought crosses my mind.  A daring bit of sneakthievery.  (Well, maybe not, but I think it’s clever.)  I look at Marisha.  “Want to finish off the bottle down by the water?”

Marisha makes a face.  “Not on dis beach.  Too many rocks.  But there’s a good one a little way down de road, if you want to walk!”  She grabs the bottle and stands, stretching and exposing a few inches of smooth dark skin as she does so.

I grin.  “Well, who am I to tell a lady no?”  I pin a few bills on the table beneath the spent shotglasses, more than enough to cover the bottle, and rise beside her.  We exit the extension and proceed to walk through the warm Caribbean night air toward the beach.