Jody Greek believes that a brainy story can be sexy, and a sexy story can be brainy. Jody has won or placed in numerous writing contests, including the Writers of the Future anthology. His most recently published works appeared in the Dalhousie Review. Jody Greek is employed as a cook on an offshore natural gas production platform near Sable Island, Nova Scotia.
E-mail Jody Greek. All comments are welcome.
The Right Language
The last party of the convention had seemed like a big Clue game. I had stumbled from room to room, trying to drag bones out of various middle-management closets.
"So, I hear that Lindsay Smith in accounting was a real looker, eh, Colonel Mustard? Must've really brightened up the office, having her polishing the candle sticks. And how's your back doing? You booked off sick about the same time she left the company, right? Everything fine now I hope? You're getting divorced? No, I didn't know that. I'm sorry."
I had consumed lots of hard liquor, mostly shots, lead shot, the way it had blasted holes through my manners. (A flimsy disguise at the best of times.) No doubt my intemperate state would make headlines somewhere. Email gossip, my personnel file maybe. I really didn't give a shit. Who was I kidding, allowing myself that much belief in any of my adopted roles?
The poet, the administrator, the rebel (especially not the rebel.)
My last published work had earned me fifty dollars and two contributor's copies. Getting myself fired from the telephone company would be far from liberating, unless I could reconcile freedom with financial suicide (I couldn't). Besides, my regional manager had given me three free drink tickets. Who could wax polemic about that?
Hey, a few of the other dry fucks had even invited me to gamble with them on the casino boats in Biloxi today. They're probably wondering where I disappeared to. Stop fooling yourself Terry, I tell myself. They've likely forgotten your name. You're 'that drunk asshole' they're talking about between plunging the arms of the slot machines.
Mandy would remember me, though. I had babbled at her for a long time. Her family had moved to Mobile and stayed for two years (grades eight and nine) before moving away again. She must've moved back after my family had picked up and left. Last night she'd mentioned something about her cousin owning a shrimp boat, which would explain the scent of brine and diesel, the hissing of displaced water, details of my waking headache. Pelicans are brief shadows passing overhead. I sit up.
I had never seen her name on any of the company contact lists, but they were long, and I liked to think I had better things to do with my time. Our junior high class had voted Mandy the most-likely-to-remain-a-virgin in our yearbook signings, and from what I remember of our conversation last night, I'm still not convinced otherwise.
Now a cold can of beer is being pressed into my hand. The giver slaps me on the back.
"Not too hard, I'll puke." I croak. My eyes are like smashed windows that leave my insides at the mercy of the wind.
"Hey Mandy! Your ol' buddy's up. He made it!," the back-slapper yells. He is wearing a green Massey Ferguson cap with some serious Welcome-Back-Kotter hair springing out the bottom of it. His breath reeks of whiskey. I rummage through the pocket of my shorts, feeling for the crumpled package that should be there. It is not.
"Cigarette?" Kotter offers, watching me fumble.
"Thanks." I take a tentative sip of beer and light up.
"That's it ol' boy, nothin' like the hair of the dog that bit you, ain't that right?" Kotter drawls, smiling his approval to another man dressed in orange rubber coveralls.
"Sure," I mumble in agreement. He laughs before turning back to his work.
Mandy approaches me, sipping boxed fruit juice from a straw. "You okay" she asks.
"Yeah, considering," I answer, after a fit of coughing.
"You remember getting carried onto the boat last night?"
Her eyes look off over the water, but the tented points of her nipples stare at me through her pink halter.
"I hope you don't mind," she apologizes. "You were too drunk to go home by yourself."
"Home? I was staying upstairs," I answer.
She turns away, her face a windy tangle of red hair. "Sorry," she apologizes.
"Don't be." I chance placing my hand upon her back. Her spine tingles with the engine's vibration. "I'm sure there'll be a good poem in this somewhere when I'm sitting bored at my desk next week."
"I remember how smart you were in English class," she smiles weakly, glancing over her shoulder at my feet. "I sure never expected you'd be in this line of work."
"I guess I wasn't cut out to be a starving artist," I confess. "But what about you? I never expected that you'd turn out so pretty."
"I don't look much different," she replies soberly.
"No, maybe you don't," I agree. "It's probably just me that sees you differently. I'm not a young jackass anymore, although, after last night, I guess that's open for debate."
Many of the females at the party had worn low cut dresses, but her's had stood out. Or should I say they did. Her breasts had overhung the V of red fabric like two bashful toddlers peering over a sofa. As bravely as she had dressed, Mandy had mostly stared at the floor. I had babbled at her cleavage for quite a while. God knows what I said.
After a sea-washed pause, she states, "Going to that party was strange for me. Usually I just attend the seminars. I never did get out much."
"Yeah, but, look at me, look at me, look at me now," I happily chant, "it's fun to have fun but you have to know how."
She looks at me strangely.
"Guess who penned that?" I prompt her. "You probably read him in school."
"Oh, I don't know," she smiles nervously.
"Come on, guess."
"Mark Twain from Huckleberry Finn?"
"Nope. Dr. Seuss. The Cat in the Hat."
There is a groan of turning machinery. "Look," Mandy points, directing my gaze to some wires running off a drum. "They're bringing the try-net in to see what kind of stuff's on the bottom, hopefully lots of shrimp." She turns so that only I can see her face. "He's not doing too well this season. He's drinking way too much, and he's behind by at least two loan payments on the boat."
"That's too bad," I mumble, peering over the water's green depths, trying to gauge just how far from land we are. Soon the little trawl is hoisted on board and its contents are dumped onto the deck. Mandy is the first to mess through the pile of mud, sticks, and awkwardly flailing crabs. She's like a young child mucking through tide wrack at the beach, picking out the pitifully few shrimp and depositing them in a bucket. The only thing out of place with this comparison are her obviously adult breasts, dangling loosely inside her top.
I walk over to take a look at the catch, squinting past a displeased looking Kotter. Less than a dozen shrimp buck their tails in mindless circles around the outside wall of the bucket's bottom.
"Enough there for a kebob or two," I say.
"Yep, that's 'bout it," Kotter replies. "You can have them if you want. Fuck wasting all day for that," he snorts, thrusting his chin at the meagre catch. "We're going back in." He tramps back to the boat's controls.
"Hmm. Don't know what I'd do with them," I remark to Mandy who is still staring in the bucket, her features now full of worry.
"Don't even know what I'd take them home in," I go on. "I guess I could stuff them in my underwear. There's a shrimp-in-residence already shacked-up in there."
Mandy finally looks me in the eye for the briefest of moments. Then she turns and walks over to stand next to Kotter. She looks back at me with a feeble grin, like she owes it to me to somehow smile at my piss-poor joke. There is a slight lurch and loud rumbling as Kotter guns the engine. I'm curious as to how often he changes his mind after spending all the time and energy to get out here, but I mind my own business and keep silent.
* * *
Mandy and I are standing on the dock. Kotter and his buddy have squealed off in his truck and are headed for the liquor store. She hasn't said a word since refusing his offer of a ride. I haven't said much of anything either. The sunlight is blinding and its heat curdles the air above the concrete, worsening my headache. I'm losing patience waiting for her to speak.
"I guess I'll get going," I say, buttoning up my rumpled dress shirt, "Get back to the hotel and have a rest before my flight."
She doesn't protest, at least not verbally, but her features are a tense cage for captive words.
"Thanks for scraping me up and taking me on the boat ride," I finish off. "See you around. The next convention maybe." I turn to walk away.
"Wait," she objects.
"Have time for some lunch?"
"I'm not very hungry," I reply. "I'm still feeling kind of pasty. I'm thinking more the hair-of-the-dog, like your cousin said."
"A drink. I really could use one."
"Sure. Whatever you want."
* * *
There are no other patrons in the little Dauphin Street bar where we end up. We sit on an old couch that sags in the middle. It slumps in a corner next to the stairway, leading to an empty balcony above. Black light makes my shirt glow purple along with the faddish graffiti painted on the walls. The door is propped open to the sunshine, and the dusty light spilling inside makes the place seem drug-den dismal. A burly bartender alternates between examining bottles and scribbling in a binder. After gaining his disinterest, I order myself a Tom Collins and a pack of smokes.
"Mandy, you want an orange juice or something?"
She shakes her head no.
The bartender takes his good old time bringing me my drink. She has nothing to say in the interim. If I want to probe the icefield, I guess it's up to me. I try, I really do. I prattle on about endless subjects, casting them on the still surface of conversation like ripe worms, trolling for a bite. She jostles the bobber a little, nibbling at various subjects, but never offers more than a few words on any of them. She mostly just sits there unmoving, like a cigar-store Indian. The more I gab, the more I realize that I'm too hung-over for this shit. It was okay when alcohol had fuelled my mouth, but today I'm getting real tired of baiting her responses. Suddenly I'm scrambling for my verbal fishing rod. Mandy has finally managed to form a complete sentence.
"My uncle says it isn't fair."
We're discussing the company suing the state over the legality of its foreign franchise tax. My tongue spools out line, letting her run with it.
"No, you misunderstand me," I answer. "I'm not saying it's fair, I'm just saying that's the way it is."
"And that makes it fair?"
"No- look at it this way: business isn't a machine that spends its energy measuring the line between right and wrong. It's one that works at solving its own problems, whatever side of the fence they happen to be on. It's more of an exercise in what it can do, versus what it is allowed to do type thing."
"So you support the company then?" she asks flatly.
"No," I sigh, "I'm just telling you the way they think."
Sirens begin to wail, growing
louder as they draw near. The bartender tosses his clipboard aside and
runs out the door. I rise, stretch, and then go and have a look myself.
I'm thankful for an excuse to end this fruitless exercise.
How delicately undecided she is, I think as I watch her, arms crossed, face curtained with hair. She is a soft-edged wound of need, so vaginal in her passive hunger. So many men dress their wives up in pigtails and bobby socks to appease their DNA, their hunger for vulnerability, wrapped inside double helixes like threads of sweet candy. Mandy is the dream. She is the trembling legs, waiting to be spread. This is all that she and I have in common. I picture her on her hands and knees, jolts of pleasure and surprise animating her features each time my balls slap her wet, strawberry curls.
But could we even make it that far? Every other time we have interacted in any way, things have always gone downhill. Still, sex is often more universal than the limitations of habit and circumstance. Just because we couldn't find something to talk about doesn't mean it wouldn't be pleasurable to have sex with each other. Perhaps the whole day has been some kind of complex mating ritual that is waiting for the right moment to define itself. Not looking in the right direction, Mandy walks right past me.
I glide up behind her, waiting until the crowd is thick enough to justify close contact. I put my hand on her shoulder, and press close, my crotch brushing the soft heart of her ass. My fabric-smothered cock can't rise, but swells nonetheless, every inch of creased skin unfurling and tightening. I wonder what it would feel like growing inside Mandy's pussy, stretching her to elastic acceptance with each pulse of blood.
"Not much to see here," I shrug, trying to read her mind. "Why don't we go for a run outside of town?"
"I don't have a car," she confesses.
"I've got company plastic. I'll rent us one. That is, as long as you promise to drive."
"Okay," she agrees. "I know a place we can go."
I swear I can feel her ass returning the pressure of my bulging shorts. The heat of suggestion germinates in my blood, heightening my senses with its yeasty bloom. I think we've finally found the right language.
* * *
We are standing by a picnic table next to a secluded river. Willow trees droop green boughs through the afternoon haze. Oaks loom over us, bearded with Spanish-moss, ancient voyeurs that have forgotten their own pithy flesh and wait to glimpse ours beneath the bark of our clothes.
"Looks like a good place for a skinny dip."
Mandy smiles nervously.
"Why not?" I laugh. "There's no one else here."
"There never is." She looks at the ground, her smile widening. She makes no move to oblige but at least she's not offended.
"Come on," I urge her. More smiling and shy head-tilting.
"Suit yourself," I say, trying to sound blasé. Then without further ceremony, I pull off my shirt and roll down my shorts and underwear. The fresh air causes my scrotum to constrict around my balls, a vibrating crawling sensation. This, and the fact that Mandy is trying not to stare at my shrivelled dick, spurs me to enter the water while I can still salvage my confidence. I sure hope there are no alligators around here. I look again, but I don't see any warning signs like the ones I've noticed in other spots.
I tiptoe over some rocks to reach the bank and dive right in. The river swallows me in its bubble-curtained murk and sucks the air out of my ears, displacing it with catfish-whiskered tickling. A few strokes later, I break the surface, whooping. The faded sun warms my cheeks as I tread water.
"You don't know what you're missing," I splutter.
She grins modestly.
"Come on! Don't be such a prude. You said yourself that you never get out much."
She looks up at me timidly.
"Taking off your shirt would be a good start to actually getting wet," I tease her. "Pretend you're a drunk freshman at Mardi Gras or something.
"I haven't seen you in years," she smiles, her soft voice barely audible over my strained breathing. "I hardly know you."
"That's the beauty of it," I call back.
She makes no move to strip off her shirt, but I can tell she is entertaining the idea.
I have an idea of my own. "Alright then, Miss Mousy Girl, I'm going to hold my breath and I'm not coming up until you get with the program." Emptying my lungs, I let myself sink to the muddy bottom. My brain starts to clean house, evicting words that devour each other up, a food-chain of thought. Water, Mandy, autoerotic asphyxiation, Melville, Billy Budd.
But me they'll lash in hammock, drop me deep.
Mandy has waded in as far as her knees and is looking anxiously at me.
"Are you all right?"
"Yes," I wheeze.
"Are you sure? You were under an awful long time."
"How long?," I gasp.
"Close to a minute, I'd say."
"Hot damn!" I slap the water, reeling. "Mandy, I'm going to go for the world record if you don't get natural in a hurry. Come on baby! Let loose!"
"Jeff--"she starts to protest.
"Am I that repulsive?"
"What? No, you're hardly--"
"Okay then, here I go," I warn her, puffing out my cheeks.
"No! Jeff! wait," she says, hands moving to the hem of her shirt.
I want time to slow down. I want to preserve the anticipatory high that is causing me to tremble like a scoring junkie. Then, too swiftly her tits are tumbling out of her bra, ripe female fruit, the fleshy pulp of suckling arousal. Her nipples are stretched into ovals from their burdens of fluid weight, rose-hued with large goose-bumped aureole.
"That's the stuff," I glibly remark, hiding the depth of my arousal. Without warning, I dive underwater, stroking my way through the reddish gloom towards her. I grasp the white blur of her feet and poke my head out of the water, chanting the theme from Jaws. She squeals and steps backwards almost tripping on a stone. Her hands grab my shoulders to maintain her balance. Her breasts pendulate wildly, inches from my face.
"You coming in?," I grin.
"I can't," she says, stepping back to fold her arms over her chest. "I'm allergic to the cold."
"Allergic to the cold?"
"Yeah, I break out in splotches."
"Uh-oh, that's not a good thing. I'm coming out now anyway."
I wish I didn't already have
an erection, but considering the circumstances, it can't be avoided. I
wade ashore, legs slogging, hard-on weaving and dipping in front of me.
Mandy tries not to gawk. I shake the river from my hair.
"Hey there," I greet her, reaffirming her company. "Come sit down." I pat the sun-warmed wood next to me. She obeys, sitting self-consciously on the edge of the seat.
"God it's beautiful here," I sigh, stretching my arms towards the heavens. Male cicadas buzz virile encouragement. "On days like this I can almost identify with people who make sacrifices to the sun. I took them for granted when I grew up down here, but not after living through my first northern winter. Nothing but gray skies, day after dreary day. Snow, snow, and more snow. Then Spring comes around, brown, dirty, slushy, foggy. Then things finally turn green for a spell, and it's been so long since you've been outdoors without a jacket on that it feels like you're having unprotected sex if you leave the house bare-armed."
I retrieve my cigarettes from the tabletop and spark one up.
"Yeah, life's too short," I continue, smoke curling from my mouth into my nose and back out my mouth again. "How many people's lives have ended during the time we've idled away at this river? Thousands, I'd say. A lot of them probably had no idea that today was going to be their last one when they rolled out of bed this morning. If I was one of them, and had my choice, do you know what? I'd still want to be right here..."
I leave the sentence hanging, groundwork for a slowly executed locked-gaze-before-kiss scenario. I move my lips toward hers. She doesn't object. She closes her eyes. But when our mouths finally mesh, her lips refuse to part, her head remains motionless.
I try harder.
In the space of a heartbeat my lust has changed to irritation with chemical swiftness. I pull away muttering and retrieve my briefs and shorts.
"What's wrong?," she asks behind me.
"You tell me," I snort bitterly. I return to my senses. "Look, I'm sorry. I guess I just misread what I thought was happening here."
"No, you didn't," she answered after a space. "It's just, I know this sounds stupid-- it's always been like this for me. I don't know why."
I walk back over to where she sits. Standing behind her, place my hands gently on her shoulders.
"Do it," she insists, looking up at me with a strangely determined stare.
"Do what?" I ask.
"What you want to do."
"I'm not sure what that is."
"Yes you are," she argues, gripping my hands and pulling them downwards.
My fingertips trace her shoulders, bones tight under the skin but frail in detail, like elegant china. A few light caresses later, my hands are on her tits, an epiphany of touch. My balls are brushing lightly against her shoulder, the hairs there alive with subtle sparks of pleasure. My cock intermittently rubs her cheek, but she makes no move to take it in her mouth or to even touch it. Indeed she makes no move to do anything, but I'm not concerned anymore. I lift one breast up, then let it spill from my palm, grabbing my cock. I stroke it next to her face where she can see it, alternately kneading the pulp of her breasts with my other hand, pinching her nipples, lifting her tits up by them.
From cold cellular division, to sperm-pierced ova, life has spurted its way forward from the big bang, each creature riding the wave at the end of everything until it churns us under and we die. I want her to watch me come, to display the essence of my design like a white pennant across her chest. I want her to feel the wet heat and revere it. Vibrating pressure moves up my groin, baking soda and vinegar trying to escape a corked bottle. I clench my inner muscles tight, maximizing the force before I will allow its release.
"I'm going to come, Mandy," I gasp, "Look at my cock and don't stop until its over."
A gush of sperm, a long white line that arrests itself on the slope of her left breast. More confectionary trails ice her tits. As force and volume wanes, droplets tumble onto her shoulder and neck like spilled pearls. She looks up at me and smiles. Her eyes reveal more empathy than arousal.
"Was that any good?" she asks.
"Fuck yeah," I sigh, "But it couldn't have done much for you."
"I'm okay," she assures me softly. She gingerly dips her fingers into the stickiness with a now-what-do-I-do-with-this-stuff grimacing smile.
"So much for the evolution of man," I murmur.
I go to the car to get some tissues so she can clean up. We dress in silence. I drive her home. Our goodbyes are rushed and awkward.
Back at my hotel room I pack my few things and sit on the bed. I'm hardly conscience-stricken or anything like that, but I feel an anxious need to leave immediately, to return home to the familiar. I keep looking the clock, a watched pot that won't boil away the few hours remaining until my flight.
When I was a youth, I had helped lift a bulldozer that had tipped over on its driver. His skull had been crushed, the remains of his teeth ground into the red paste of his head like hamburger. Barely a day goes by that I don't think of that poor man, not for the pity I felt at his sudden loss of life, but because of his ruptured image, drilled with diamond-tipped permanence into my memory. The singularity of any event is what stays it with us for the long-run, but for all our retention of the dark and the dismal, reparations must sometimes be made on the other side. Hardly a day will pass that I do not pause to remember Mandy's pleasures, as passive yet wild as the free air of dreams.
© 2001-2002 Jody Greek. All rights reserved. Do not copy or post.
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