Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Secret Power

Here's the second part of Something To Do In Bed. Thanks again for reading!
Nobody would dare leave a key under a rock where I live. But it was a lucky guess for me, thinking Kevin and his wife would be out of town for the holiday and the key wouldn’t be all that hard to find. It’s freezing cold this Friday after Thanksgiving, the kind of day where you can see your every exhale, and I fumble with the key and let myself inside Kevin’s house. Someone (the wife perhaps, a pragmatist in all things financial) has set the heat on sixty. I turn it up to eighty, damned if I’m going to suffer while I’m in here and look in the kitchen where the liquor is liable to be, find a bottle of scotch, J&B, a truly depressing detail to learn about Kevin, someone who makes five times my salary drinking something so cheap, no single malts here!), and pour a shot into a coffee mug that says Upper Peninsula on a snowy blue background.

What do I expect to find? Now that I have done something I never expected to do, I realize there’s not a line a person won’t cross depending on the circumstances.
Pictures of Kevin’s children line the hallway, both in college at the University of Michigan, a mere hour away in Ann Arbor and an entire world away from Detroit. The boy looks a lot like Kevin and I struggle to remember his name. The girl is only seven years younger than me and fat, a Jenny Craig heartbreak. Christopher, that’s the boy.
The silence in the house makes me nervous so I turn on the television in the bedroom set to CNN, no shock there. I wonder if they stay up late, watching way past the possibility of sex. Kevin never did say much about his marriage, only that things had gone flat, a soda left open without a cap. The bathroom gleamed as if it had been sterilized and the only trace of humanity was an open clothes hamper. I dig out the clothes, all the wife’s, and look at the sizes. Nothing extraordinary, sixes and eights, a woman who has kept her figure hostage by years of portion control. I lay them out on the bed like a puzzle and tell myself that I will not look at the bra size. I’m not a masochist.
"Hello," I hear a voice say. It’s not Kevin or the wife and it’s a male voice. Christopher. I take another slug of scotch and try to think. I could hide under the bed, but how would I get out? And what do I do with all his mother’s clothes around the room? He’s going to walk back here sooner or later.
"Why is it so hot in here?" Christopher asks. I can hear him dialing the heat down. He heads toward the direction of the noise, the television I just had to have on. I could kick myself in the ass sometimes. There’s no time to hide so I push the clothes into a small pile and kick them under the bed. I don’t want to look totally crazy.
"Who are you?" Christopher asks. He’s taking off his jacket, a puffy blue number and a blue sweatshirt on underneath, and another shirt sticking out from the sweatshirt. His mother, no doubt, taught him the importance of layering when it’s cold. "I didn’t think Becky was supposed to be back until tomorrow," he says.
Becky, the Jenny Craig heartbreak. He thinks I’m one of her friends. There is a God and He loves me. "She isn’t. She told me that I could come here if I had trouble at home over the holidays," I say. "My parents are getting a divorce and there’s lots of yelling."
"Yeah, I get that. My mom and dad never yell, but they’re always on the verge of divorce," Christopher says. "I see you found the booze."
"It’s my secret power," I say.
"Mine too, finely honed since my days in Junior High," he says. He heads to the kitchen for a glass and comes back and pours a shot. We clink glasses, and he grimaces as the first sip goes down. He’s not the drinker he made himself out to be, I’m guessing. If he gets enough of this down, I’ll be able to ask lots of questions.
"How can you tell if you’re parents are on the verge of divorce if they never yell or anything?" I ask.
"They don’t speak to each other. At all. My mother does everything without ever once addressing my dad. He’s gone all the time anyway. Work and shit."
"Must be tough," I say. I lean against the pillow and pour another shot. "Is this weekend away supposed to improve their marriage?"
"They do this every Thanksgiving. Get together at this stupid bed and breakfast in Gaylord and hang out with their old friends. Very Big Chill. I went once and almost died of boredom." Christopher arranges himself on the pillow next to me and looks at the television. It’s a huge bed. Two people could sleep here all night and never touch each other. "So what’s going on in the world?"
"Damned if I know. I just had it on so I wouldn’t feel so alone," I say. I look up and there’s a repeat of Larry King interviewing Christopher Reeve about his accident on the horse that left him paralyzed. That’s one of my worst fears, not being able to move. As a child, I read the famous Christian book about the young girl diving in the water and breaking her neck, being trapped on a Stryker Frame for days. Josh and I sometimes played that game. Do you want to see the ceiling or the floor? That was the question that started our doctor - patient dialogues. One of us would be responsible for breaking the news to the other -- you will never walk again.
"So how do you know Becky?" Christopher asks. "Most of her friends don’t look like you. She’s been a real disappointment in the younger sister’s hot friends department until now."
I smile. How the fuck do I know Becky? My urban college experience was a world away from the lovely dorms of the University of Michigan. I don’t know a fucking thing about Becky as Kevin never mentioned her, not even so much as her name. He seemed prouder of Christopher, a boy who played football and was going to major in political science, a sure sign that he would follow his dad’s path into law school. It’s getting colder in the room so I slip underneath the comforter.

"We had a psychology class together," I say. "Abnormal."
"That’s supposed to be a tough one," he says. He brings the bottle into bed and gets beneath the comforter. "My parents won’t be back until Sunday, thank God. I’m thinking of having a party with some of my old high school buddies tomorrow night. You want to come? Becky will be here," he says.
"Maybe," I say. He pours more scotch for both of us. Larry King asks Christopher Reeve when he knew something was wrong, and Christopher Reeve says as soon as I hit the ground. If all things were that clear!
What little light from the outside has faded. The room fills with shadows, and I roll over onto my side. "So what do people call you -- Chris or Christopher?"
"Depends on the person," he says, removing his sweatshirt. He’s got a U of M t-shirt underneath, and I can see his erection as he struggles to get free of his layers. "You should make yourself comfortable," he says, pointing to my bulky sweater.
"I don’t have anything on underneath it," I say. "I don’t think your dad would want to catch you in his bed with a half-naked girl, sipping his scotch and watching television."
"Who said anything about watching television," Christopher says. "My parents are gone. We can do anything we want."
I take off my sweater and throw it on the floor on top of the wife’s clothes, the pile sticking out from where I tried to jam them underneath the bed before I realized the bed had drawers underneath it for storing things out of sight. I’m glad I wore a good bra even if I couldn’t imagine the occasion for it. It’s one that unhooks in the front, and Christopher puts down his drink on the nightstand, careful to use the coaster, and unhooks the latch with the precision of a surgeon.

Even though he’s young, I can tell this is not his first rodeo and am relieved. He pulls a condom out of his wallet, the kind of thing only an optimistic boy in his twenties would have on hand, and the entire time I am thinking that I am finally in Kevin’s bed. That had been one of his main rules that I hated, that I would never be in his house. When it’s over and Christopher has gotten out of bed to flush the used condom in the connecting master bedroom bathroom, I look at his wife’s bra-size, the detail I swore I would spare myself. It’s unexceptional, and I think why do I care?
By the time Christopher returns, walking naked around the room, like the young are prone to do, no body shame plaguing him, I’m dressed. "Will you come to the party?" he asks. I, of course, will not. By the time he asks Becky for my name, he’ll realize I’m not anyone she knows by the blank look on her fat face. What will he think then?
"I’d love to," I say. "Now that I know you live here."
"Are you going to be all right at home?" he asks, touching the side of my face. Christopher, I imagine, is much sweeter than his father. "You could hang out here with me."
"I have to go back. My parents want me where they can keep an eye on me," I say. I’m a little unsteady on my feet, but I make my way out of the bedroom, through the snow, into my car, and out into the dying light of evening, Friday night at the beginning, still early enough for lots of things to happen.
Michelle's Spell of the Day

"A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space. " Gloria Steinem

Cocktail Hour

Drinking music suggestion: Highway 61 Bob Dylan

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Sunday!


Cheri said...

With all of this good reading, I can't wait for your novella!

the walking man said...

Wow! What an unexpected turn. Great read!

Charles Gramlich said...

Great story, and yes, the turn was unexpected but interesting. I really got caught up in it.

eric313 said...

Your dialogue choices... so right for the moments described. This seems different than I remember, it's so good! Sped through them both earlier. Really great reading.

"It’s getting colder in the room so I slip underneath the comforter. "We had a psychology class together," I say.
"That’s supposed to be a tough one," he says."

Like I said, the dialogue is so good cobering over the action with a thin veil of controled banter. You've got her voice to that perfect life-like level.

The movie...
That's the next step.

take care

paul said...


Charles Nelson Reilly said...

The mother-daughter, father-son sex fantasy has always been one of my favorite turn-ons!

charles nelson rielly said...'s that for a character revealing sentence?

I have also touched a transvestite's breasts before. Several pictures exist of me doing this very thing! Ask the speech/debate people at twelve mile high... the trail should grow warm. ;)

the walking man said...

"Charles Nelson Reilly said...
The mother-daughter, father-son sex fantasy has always been one of my favorite turn-ons!'s that for a character revealing sentence?

I have also touched a transvestite's breasts before. Several pictures exist of me doing this very thing! Ask the speech/debate people at twelve mile high... the trail should grow warm."