by E. Doyle-Gillespie
I called my dad on the day before I flew out to the coast to see Cameron. He was sanding furniture and must've had to brace the receiver against his shoulder while he worked with both hands. I could hear his labored breathing as it broke up each sentence.
"So...what is...this...now? You guys serious?"
I hung in the pause, listening to the rough rhythm of paper against wood. My father's hands were square and ridged with callouses. I pictured them working against a table top or bookshelf.
"Working on a bookshelf?"
"I'm...refinishing Judith's table. So, have you called your sister yet? She's been asking about you."
"No, I keep meaning to, but...no." I drifted for a moment with the rhythm of his sanding, and peered through the blinds of my office window. It was high noon and the girls from La Verdad Magazine broke for lunch. They had an hour, but still came out of that office like delis and lunch breaks were about to be outlawed. They wanted to bag the first lunch hour veggie sandwiches at Dulfer's, I guess. First, the older one walked out, pulling on her leather jacket against the autumn air. With her close-cropped black and grey hair and her rigid, set jaw, she reminded me of my sister's last girlfriend.
"And have you talked to Renatta at all?" Dad asked me.
"She was back in Paris, last I heard. Back livin' with her brother and teaching German and art to rich girls in some school."
"So what's the deal with you and Cameron, son? Oh, tell her I said 'thanks' for the galley copy of her book. That's some good stuff. She reminds me of Hemingway."
"Everyone reminds you of Ernest Hemingway. She still wants..."
"That's not quite true, Bradley. I need that laconic sort of terse prose -- very tight prose. Yeah, Ernest had that style. I remember just reading him for hours before I shipped off for Europe. Just spent hours with his work. Of course this was when those fucking Nazis were burning him over in Berlin."
The sanding began again, with my father huffing behind his work. Now the younger woman emerged. She also wore a leather jacket, but pulled it tight against the full melon roundness of her breasts and flipped her long, brown ponytail out from under the collar. I could tell, in spite of the jacket, the dress, the bra that I imagined she put on that morning, that her breasts were high and round -- the type of breasts that other women have to buy. Hers must have been real -- earthy women don't buy them. I envisioned large, round black nipples. The wind blew against her and poured the fabric of her skirt against her thighs -- full thighs, like a dancer's.
"I told you about all the trouble I got in before the war, right? When I was a kid?" My father's words drew me back to attention.
My father still had a young man's sinew in his shoulders and arms, and I could imagine him in a dirty white T-shirt, muscles moving below the fabric, as he sweated and sanded for his new girlfriend, Judith. Judith was about three women after mom died and, so far, seemed to have some staying power. She was younger than Dad -- Vietnam vintage as opposed to World War II -- and still had this Haight-Ashburiness about her. She also owned a coffee house where Dad and the old men could play jazz on saturday nights. The girlfriend before her, Jesse, was a bookstore owner, and her predecessor was the part-owner of a wine shop. They all appeared almost immediately after mom died. Dad said that they had been old friends and hang-abouts for years.
"This just grew with us after your mother died." That was his explanation for Jesse. I think Judith was, "I finally noticed her."
I watched all of this unfold, smiling, letting Dad do what he needed to do to get through it.
The second leather jacket girl from La Verdad was walking to catch up with the older one now, not running, but striding with a smart rhythm.
"You told me about showing Ernest's film about the Spanish Civil War and some guy talking to your father...
"The VFW head! Called me a Communist...and said my father was an unfit father."
"And that you played 'nigger music,' right? Did he apologize when you got back from Europe with your purple heart, Dad?"
"Naw...he was...he was dead by then. He...how did that old bastard die?"
"Oh, Dad! I forgot -- Cameron is doing a new project on the Second World War and she wants to interview you."
"Sounds great. She can call the old man anytime. She's some writer, that girl. So, what are you two up to, eh? You making your moves, boy?"
"My moves..." I laughed and shook my head. I remembered him looking her up and down the first time they met. "I have some vacation days I can use, so I figured I'd spend them on the coast, and I'd bop in to see her. We hang out when we can, you know?"
" 'Hang out'...eh?"
"Yeah. It's been...what? It's been awhile since Renatta, huh? God, has it been over a year already? Anyway, we figured we'd see more of each other. I dunno..."
"Well, listen...I don't want to get you fired, so..."
"Right, I'd best go. I've got a little more paperwork to finish before I can get the hell out of here. Look, I'll call you from the coast."
"You just enjoy yourself and tell your Miss Cameron that the old man said hi."
"I sure will, Dad. Say hi to Judith for me. Bye."
We hung up. I turned from my phone and looked back through the window. The women came back from their sandwich run, now strolling in a cluster, white paper bags held against them.
Cameron was barefoot when she met me at the airport. A pair of Teva rafting sandals dangled in her hand and her jeans were smattered with clay from her workshop. She held a book -- hardcover and already marked. She gave me her squinty smile, blue eyes disappearing for a moment, and started toward me. I weaved my way past a guy with a turban and called to her.
She shuddered with laughter.
"Hey! Rappaport!" I said again. A curly-haired woman with wire-rimmed glasses shot an irritated glance at me.
"I'm not Rappaport," she finally laughed. I think that my love of her favorite play was still a thrill for her. In a few strides, she was in front of me, pulling me into her with long arms.
I dropped my bag and circled her with my arms, resting my palms on the small of her back -- the curve just above her buttocks. I squeezed and felt a slight ripple as hips, breasts, and pursed lips pressed into me. She had a narrow frame -- tall and lean -- but felt voluptuous when we embraced.
"It's so good to see you! How was the flight?"
"OK It was OK."
She still had this sea salty-piney smell about her. I tilted my head and we kissed, first nipping and sucking at each other's lips, then slipping tongues past lips and teeth. I'd brushed and rinsed on the flight two or three times just to give her a fine first kiss in front of an army of spectators.
"This is for you," she smiled, handing me the book. "I picked it up in a used book shop in town. It's not as good as that Eaton's place out near you, but..."
It was an antique -- a book of black and white photography of women from the 1920's, complete with garter belts and slicked down curls.
"Thank you. Jeeze...this is...aw, thanks."
Another hug. My offering of a poetry paperback now seemed meager.
"Let's get your bag from the conveyor, okay?"
Again, that smile. I watched her as she pulled her shoes back on, hopping on one foot, then the other, as she pulled the straps up over her heels. Her thick, wild shoulder-length brown hair, torn jeans and plain flannel shirt were a woman away from the first time I saw her in our publishing house's office. Then it was high heels, a navy blue skirt, a silk blouse, and a string of pearls she told me she picked up in Japan the previous winter, along with her hair pulled back into a sleek ponytail.
I recalled tilting back in my chair, peering around my doorway, watching her pace in the office's waiting room on the first day I met her. Strong, full calf muscles stood out in the white stockings she wore, and she had held herself like a runway model. I had readjusted the phone receiver and lowered my voice to something like a stage whisper. Renatta, my wife, was on the other end.
"You should see...hang on...you should see what just walked through the office door," I had told Renatta that day.
"It's my two o'clock -- she's Cameron Grant."
"The history writer. What does she look like?" Renatta had sounded eager.
"She's gorgeous. Very polished, I guess you could say."
I had watched as she sat down, spreading her legs for a second, so I could peer up between her thighs.
"Never mind. They say she hardly ever wears skirts -- there's no country club here," I laughed. Renatta had laughed along with me. I guess she got the picture. When she spoke again, her voice had settled into a throaty, bedroom rasp.
"Should I expect you to be late tonight?"
"I'm not sure. Let me get back to you. I'm not sure. There's no telling if all of my efforts have been for naught."
I'd been talking and e-mailing with Cameron Grant for months, working on her book deal. I found myself musing over her sultry, dead-pan voice. I eventually decided to start a long-distance flirtation. Whether it was one of Renatta's dares, or a spontaneous moment of inspiration, I don't recall. I just know I was able to get her talking about relationships, sex and the like, and things evolved from there. We were able to move the talk from business time and time again. It was pretty unprofessional, and I wouldn't have given it a shot before I had gotten my corner office with the new name plate.
"I'm not sure," I had repeated to Renatta. "Let's see if Cameron has plans for tonight. Let's see if I've been able to work my magic."
"I'll keep a candle burning."
"You do that."
We hung up and I left my office to meet Cameron. It was rare that Renatta and I met "our women" by chance, and it was rare that we met them through our jobs. It was usually a matter of personal ads, or introductions by our friend Nina. There had been that one woman, that red-haired artist from L.A., who we had met by chance at a showing. She was the one who introduced Renatta to Betty Page. Aside from that, usually things were pre-planned.
Cameron and I got my bag from the airport carousel and took a brief walk to her new truck. It was some sort of heavy chassis 4x4 -- dark green -- with a hitch and winch and a dozen other accoutrements for which I couldn't imagine a practical use. She called it Enkidu, after the wild man of Gilgamesh.
"Want me to drive?" I asked.
"Nonsense. Kick back and relax, you've had a long flight. Besides, the voices in my head say it's safe to drive today. They say that nobody will die."
We laughed as we joined the traffic flow out of the airport. Once we got on the highway, she rolled the window down a bit and breathed in deeply, just as it started to rain.
"Hey, pop in the tape there." She smiled, gestured at the black cassette that stuck half-way out below the glowing green of her radio. I gave it a shove and filled the cab with Satchmo and Duke Ellington. Cameron began a smooth rhythmic nod, while nibbling at her lower lip..
"Is this the tape you had my dad make for you?" I asked her.
"That's the one. Remember that, uh..."
"Sure, that night he read your book in one sitting. He cried and...oh, yeah! He said give him a call and he'll be happy to talk to you about the war."
She laughed, shook her curls and slapped the steering wheel.
"Oh, great. I adore that guy."
"Yeah, well, he thinks a lot of you."
"Cool. I'll get my ass in gear next week and give him a call. You hungry?"
"Now that you mention it..."
"We'll stop at a place up here. Well, it's a few miles still. They have this goat cheese pizza, and they have a bunch of things I know you'll like. Just kick back."
I was about to say something about a person I'd met on the plane, when one of her palms dropped from the wheel and closed around my hand. Cameron's hands would never make casting call for a body model. They were a bit rough, bore scars from rock climbing and karate, and hadn't seen nail polish in years. Moisturizers and buffing pads had made a showing here and there, leaving them somewhere between an athlete and an artist.
I smiled at her profile, at Duke and Satchmo, at the mountains and the rain, as she piloted Enkidu with one hand and guided my hand with her other. She let my palm rest on her thigh while she undid her jeans, opening snaps and working down a stubborn zipper.
"There..." she whispered.
"Uh, are you sure?"
My hand was taken up again, and guided down into the shadows between her thighs. She regained the steering wheel, leaving me to be creative. Cam always liked long, deep strokes to start off. "Uh huh, good," she shuddered to me the first time. Now I moved by instinct, sinking my middle finger between the thick lips and pulling up, slowly and firm, until I met her swollen clit. Her breasts rose as I stroked the tender bud. Again, she bit down on her full lower lip.
I loosened my seat belt and shifted in my seat, exchanging my strong right hand for my left. I didn't miss a beat, bringing stroke after stroke against her vagina as we negotiated the mountain highways.
My first tryst with Cameron had been in a car, my car -- a city car, not a wild machine like hers. The big, wide luxury car that maneuvered like a tank. My Executive Power Car. Even before I had married Renatta, she had a love/hate relationship going with it. She preached that men's big cars were all about proving the "big dick thing," as she put it. But she also loved showing up to restaurants in it, sliding out, long-legs first, and teasing some poor valet as I ordered him to park it. I remembered her masturbating in it once during a long trip up-state. She let me taste her fingers after coming.
It was the first thing she had mentioned when I returned from my first night out with Cameron. It was a long time ago, but as Cameron drove us from the airport that rainy night, Renatta's words had come back to me as I found myself giving her deeper and deeper strokes.
"Did you fuck her in the car?" Renatta had asked, turning to look at me.
I had been married to her for years, but her accent still gave me shivers on nights like that -- Romanian and French rhythms bubbled around a filterless cigarette. She had turned away again and blown smoke against the window pane.
That night Renatta had worn the black, high-heeled leather boots that came up to her knees. It had been two years since she bought them in a London leather store, and they had taken on the dull sheen of loving wear. She also had worn her thin, wispy, black mini-skirt and a second-skin black top that she used in her dance classes. Gracefully, she had slid down from the window sill and pressed herself close to me.
"She went down on me," I had explained. My fingers snaked through moist chestnut brown hair. Renatta had leaned into me, her face to my chest, trying to smell another woman on me. I had felt myself go hard again.
"In the car?"
"She went down on me in the car, yes."
"Guess she didn't have plans for the evening, huh? So, you fucked her mouth. Was she good at it? Was she as good as Nina?"
"She was good. She reminded me of the girl in London. I leaned back and watched her take me in and out of her mouth. She has full lips. She has a beautiful wide mouth and she just swallowed me up."
Renatta had begun panting against my neck as I gave her the details of my front seat blow job.. Her small breasts rose and fell, her shoulders tensed and she licked her lips. One hand lingered around my crotch.
"She circled the head of my cock with her tongue," I explained matter-of-factly.
Renatta's almond eyes slid shut.
"And you came?"
"In her mouth."
A silent moment had filled with Renatta's panting. I leaned down to taste her mouth. Her lips were briny and damp, so I asked her, "Is that who you fucked tonight? Nina?"
Renatta's eyes opened with a smile, shaking off a bit of the heady haze of her randiness.
"Yeah. We were lesbians tonight. Little French lesbians."
"You spoke French the whole time?"
"Of course. Everything is erotic in French."
We chuckled together as she began to grind herself against my swollen crotch.
"She was rough," Renatta whispered against the hairs of my neck.
"You like it when she's rough with me, huh?" she added.
My words came out husky and strained.
"Yeah, I do."
Now the smell of cunt on my wife's body seemed stronger. It came from behind her ears and from her long neck. I tasted her skin, licking at the tendons in her neck, her earlobes, the hollow of her throat. There was a gasp and a shudder as she arched her back and my hands cupped her buttocks and kneaded them.
"Nina had me stand up on the bed for her. She said she wanted to watch me fuck myself."
"No. Not at first. We smoked on her balcony and drank red wine. We watched the people in the street." Her voice took on the sound of a little girl. "There was a woman who was playing sax down by the library steps. And a man who reminded me of you. He wore the hat that you..."
"Like my fedora?"
"Yeah, that's it. He was an old man with a dog. And, when the joint was done, she stood me by the rail, looking out, and she lifted my skirt and started to finger me. She fingered my ass and my cunt...got down and spread my legs..."
"Still on the balcony?"
"Yeah. She made me come out there, then she carried me back into the bedroom and had me stand on the bed. She gave me the cock. The electric one. The big black one, you know?"
I had done a quick mental inventory of our friend's sex toys and came up with an image.
"Okay, I know the one."
"She had me up on the bed and...she had me undress and she gave me the dildo and I gave myself the dildo till I came. Then..."
Renatta's hand had found its way into my pants and pulled me free by now. Sharp red nails were stroking down the length of my shaft and drawing circles around the head.
"Did she have you put it all the way up in you, Renatta?"
"And did she turn it up high?"
I could barely form words as she pinched around the head. I cruised on the image of my wife giving herself the humming artificial cock while our lean sculptor friend looked on.
"She left it in me up on the highest setting and she had me lay down on the bed. She got on my face."
"She was naked?"
"Just had her heels on."
"And she rode your face. She used your face to come."
Renatta dropped to her knees and took my cock into her mouth, searching for Cameron's saliva. I drifted helplessly in her strokes and licks, then she pulled her mouth free and looked up at me.
"She shaved me tonight. She shaved my whole cunt bare. It looks like virgin muff now."
I was able to muster, "Show me."
Light-headed, the blood coursing in whirlpools away from my brain, I leaned down, scooped her up and carried Renatta into the bathroom. My legs felt weak and my cock stood out ramrod straight. Just like Nina, I had Renatta stand up high for me. She perched herself atop the vanity, black leather boots against the oyster-shell porcelain of the sink, and gathered up her skirt. Again, I was overcome as the strong aroma of cunt and the sight of wet black panties wedged up into her labia greeted me. Around the fabric, I could see her pubes covered with fresh stubble.
"She really did shave you, didn't she?"
"I told you so. Was Cameron bare?"
"No, she was thick and dark."
I leaned close, breathing her in and biting her mound. My wife moaned and ran her fingers through my hair. Deliberate, slow fingers wrapped around her waistband and dragged the panties down.
Two years later I was stroking Cameron's cunt on a dark mountain road.
Cameron pulled the car over so she could come without killing us. In the darkness of the car, with my dad's music flipping to the B side, Cameron moaned and gripped down hard on the steering wheel. I continued a slow, easy stroke until she reached over with one feeble hand and signaled for me to stop. I withdrew my fingers from her labia and brought them up to her mouth, her shoulders still heaving with each labored breath. She pursed her mouth and accepted her salty musk from my hand.
"So, still want to go eat?" I said nonchalantly.
"Uh...eat...yeah...I...uh...I'd like to eat." She sat upright, exhaled, and let her head sink back against the headrest. "Yeah, let's...uh...let us continue, my good sir."
"That pizza sounds good. That pizza you mentioned..."
"Oh...right, uh...what was it? I said...um..."
"Goat's cheese...right. And...pesto."
Another deep sigh. She began to pull herself together. "And wine on the honor system. You just get a glass and help yourself."
I found myself smiling as she slowly recovered from her orgasm.
"Sounds good, Cam. Whenever you're ready."
I looked back out at the rain, listening to it's rhythm rub up against Cameron's breathing. There was a dull click as Cameron put Enkidu into drive and pulled us back on to the road. Again, she smiled at me.
"Whenever you're ready," I heard myself repeat.