Monday, August 14, 2006

TIRADE AT THE TV - short story

(Just in case you were wondering)

This short story is based on a chapter from my novel, We Danced to Ray Charles. The protag struggles to endure the racist rantings of his date's father. Check it out, if for no other reason than to learn how Dolly Parton fits into the story. Any comments, whether brickbats or bouquets, are welcome.

Bayou Bill


by Bill Fullerton

Jack Boudreaux walked out of his office and into a fight. The combatants were his daughter and Darrell Ray Sims, her sometimes boyfriend and his full-time foreman. “Bebe, what are you two carrying on about?”

Boudreaux was a short, energetic man with thinning hair, intense eyes, and skin a shade darker than his daughter’s olive complexion. A small scar on his right cheek gave his face a certain swagger.

Bebe Boudreaux smiled at her father, then reached for her purse and stood. “I was just telling Darrell Ray here, how it’s a good idea to plan ahead and not wait ‘till the last minute.”

Putting the purse back down, she began straightening her blouse, tucking it in tight. The gesture emphasized her breasts and small waist. All this time, she continued looking at her father while directing her comments toward Darrell Ray. “For instance, it might be important to know that you and I are going to be out of town tomorrow. Or that while I’m going out with Mark Cahill tonight, a date he asked me for days ago, he’ll be in Baton Rouge next weekend.”

Jack Boudreaux let his normal, business voice slide into the exaggerated, Cajun drawl he used when tired, mad, or teasing people. “I gar-on-damn-tee you I ain’t got no idea what da hell you’re talking about, girl. What’s more, I’m damned glad I don’t.” The sly, knowing look on his face contradicted his words.

By then he was holding the back door open, waiting for them to leave first. “You sure you locked up all the other doors?” he asked Darrell Ray when they were all outside.

“Yes sir.”

“That’s fine,” he said, back in his business-like voice. He glanced down at his daughter, then up at the tall, muscular boy who seemed a little uncomfortable. “Call me later if you change your mind about tonight. I still think you’re the best man for the job.”

Darrell Ray seemed to force a grin and promised to think it over. After saying good-evening, he headed over toward his yellow pick-up in the employee’s parking area.

“Daddy, what was all that mumbo-jumbo about?”

“Tell me the truth girl, you been giving that boy a hard time?”

“No more than he deserves.”

“You didn’t accidental-like tell him about where we’re going tomorrow, did you?”

“Of course not.” Bebe’s voice betrayed just a touch of injured pride. “I know better than that. I’ve told him and everybody else that we’re going to a one-day family get-together. He hasn’t heard anything from me about the boys having a big meeting down in Denham Springs.”

They walked over and got into the blue Chevrolet pick-up. Both doors carried the words, “Pinefield Lumber & Building Supply.” “I didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers. It’s just that I asked him about doing a job for me tonight, and he seemed a little shy.”

“And that job is?”

He backed out of the reserved parking spot next to the back door. “Oh, the boys kinda decided it’d be a good idea to remind that nigger lovin’ lawyer, Frank Williams, that white men still run things around here.”

Boudreaux never hesitated to confide with Bebe about his activities with “the boys.” When he joined the local group, it’d been little more than a big, ineffective, redneck social club. Now he was in charge and had given it a sense of mission and discipline. True, the membership was a little smaller. But the ones left were dedicated. Whenever needed, money could be raised, manpower found, and votes delivered. With FBI informants everywhere, he insisted it be referred to as, “the boys,” never by its more familiar title, The Ku Klux Klan.

“What’s Williams’ done to aggravate the boys?” asked Bebe.

“Oh hell, he’s using all kinda legal crap to keep dat nigger, the one Tobias arrested up in Rollins as a Peeping Tom, from being convicted.”

“Is that the same guy you said worked for Ike Carter’s oldest son, the bootlegger?”

“Dat’s him, cher,” he said, dropping back into his Cajun accent. “We done figured nailing his sorry hide would help Tobias get re-elected sheriff. It should also hurt Ike Carter and dat voter’s registration crap he’s pushing. The problem is Williams keeps stringing things out.”

Turning left, he cruised past the courthouse, smiling and waving at a group of old men sitting on a bench in the shade of an oak tree. Bebe had no interest in men who were that old and paid them no attention. “So y’all decided to leave a little present in front of Williams’ house. And you want someone who’s not a member to do it. And that someone is Darrell Ray.”

He waved at a couple in a passing truck while nodding. “You gots it. He’s always talkin’ a good fight. So I figured he’d jump at the chance to show his stuff. But when I brought it up, well, like I said, he acted kinda shy. Still, something tells me that after whatever it was you done did to him, he’ll do just about anything to make a good impression, most especially on you.”

They stopped at one of the few traffic lights in town. “Daddy, let me ask you something. What do you really think, you know, as a man, about Darrell Ray and, well, Mark?”

“All right, you done asked, so I’m gonna tell you. I like Sims a lot more, of course. He’s a good worker and seems to understand what the niggers and communists are trying to do to this country. That’s why I was a little surprised when he put me off.”

When the light turned green he gunned the engine and shot through the intersection. “As for Cahill, well, I can put up with him. But I’m not sure he’s the type you could count on in a foxhole, if you know what I mean. Still, for a country club, college kid, I guess he’s okay—even if Frank Williams is his uncle.”

He turned into the parking lot of Mack McCallum’s Chevrolet dealership, pulled around to the service entrance and stopped. Before Bebe could get out, he reached over and touched her arm. “Now speaking as a daddy, neither one of those redneck peckerwoods is good enough for my petite minou.” The old, familiar nickname earned him a smile.

“No child, I’m serious. Darrell Ray’s a good kid. But I think he’s a little ashamed of his family, and that’s just no good. But I figure it’s why he’s always putting on like he’s got everything all figured out when in actual fact, even he knows he don’t.” Bebe’s smile widened.

“Now I don’t know Cahill near ‘bout as well, but he seems to be just the opposite. I mean he don’t have to go around acting cocky and tough and all ‘cause he knows he belongs. But, maybe ‘cause of that, he don’t seem anxious to stand up for himself or have a whole lot of push or hustle.”

Bebe leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Thanks Daddy. I just wish one of them was more like you.”

He couldn’t help grinning. “I’m afraid you’ll have to do what your sweet mama did. Pick yourself out one of dem boys and start breaking him in.”


Later that afternoon the, “one of dem,” named Mark Cahill pulled up in front of the Boudreaux’s ranch style house. He’d picked Bebe up several times, but he still didn’t feel comfortable enough to use the de facto main door on the garage side of the house. Instead, he headed up the narrow concrete walkway which almost disappeared between dense growths of hydrangeas flanking the seldom-used front door.

Bebe was not ready, said her stepmother, after she let him into the house. In her quiet, steel-edged, country voice, Martha Jones Boudreaux asked about his family. Once the formalities were complete, she suggested he wait in the living room and watch TV.

A phone began to ring as she left. From his perch on the edge of a rust-colored couch, Mark could see her move down the polished wooden floor of a narrow, windowless hall. He looked away before she reached the phone nook. But he could hear her answer and then say something in a low voice before walking into a nearby room.

In the silence that followed, Mark studied the big, floor-model TV squatting on the other side of the living room. It was an impressive piece of furniture. But the sound was off and the image on the screen was rolling. That should be easy to fix, but he didn’t want to risk getting caught messing with the controls. The Boudreaux’s might be the type who felt protective toward their television. On the other hand, he didn’t want them to catch him staring at a rolling picture with no sound and think he was some kind of idiot.

After more indecision, he got up and hurried across the room. From his kneeling position in front of the big color Philco, he could no longer see down the hall. But moments later, he had no trouble hearing footsteps on the hardwood floor, followed by someone picking up the phone. Then he heard Jack Boudreaux’s voice. “What can I do you for, Darrell Ray?”

Boudreaux had been out the other times Mark came to pick up Bebe. Tonight, his luck had run out. But the bleak prospect of facing her father seemed trivial once he heard Darrell Ray’s name. Any scruples about eavesdropping were forgotten. Leaving the sound off, he started fiddling with various controls while listening to the conversation.

Jack Boudreaux was talking about niggers and a meeting at work. Mark had been afraid they were going to talk about Bebe or him. He didn’t care what they said about work. But he decided to leave the volume off, just in case, and begin trying in earnest to stop the rolling image on the screen.

Down the hall, Boudreaux was saying, “I’m glad you decided to handle tonight’s job. Remember, Buddy will have everything you need at his place. Make sure to wait until after dark to pick the stuff up.”

None of that made any sense to Mark. But he was still struggling to get the damn picture to stop its endless roll and only half-listening. The next time Boudreaux started talking, there seemed to be just a touch of exasperation in his voice. “Look, I already done told you all that at the office. Nobody’s ever there on Saturday nights. Ever. Tobias has had deputies checking out the place for weeks. They never, ever, come home before eleven. The only thing you gotta worry about is bringing a lighter. Okay?”

After another short pause, Jack spoke in a kinder tone. “You’re going to do fine. You know I’m leaving town early tomorrow morning, so don’t call me late tonight. Why don’t you come in to work a few minutes early on Monday and give me a report?”

It occurred to Mark that if Boudreaux headed for the living room after hanging up, he’d be caught either messing with the TV or eavesdropping. The former would be embarrassing. But the later could be fatal to any future dates with Bebe. So he slowly turned up the volume.

Moments later, he heard Boudreaux say, “Hello,” in a normal voice from across the room. It seemed like a good idea to ignore the greeting and act both deaf and dumb. With a beer jingle blasting into his ears, “Hello, mellow Jax, little darling,” it was an easy act.

Just as the jingle ended, Boudreaux once again said hello. Only this time it was in a loud, booming voice that originated a few inches behind Mark’s head.

Mark had been expecting something like that. But the shout still made him jump. He turned his head and looked up into the smirking face of Jack Boudreaux. “If I’d been a Jap you’d be graveyard dead, boy.”

“Good thing you guys won the war,” replied Mark, as he got to his feet. “Hope I didn’t make things even worse. But I couldn’t make the picture stop rolling.”

“It always does that this time of day, but only on that station,” said Boudreaux. He reached down and changed channels. “It’s just a damn good thing it’s not the one that carries the, Porter Wagoner Show. I suppose you’ve seen that new singer of his, the one who took the place of ‘Pretty Miss’ Norma Jean?”

Mark nodded. Everyone seemed to have heard and seen the new singer. Dolly Parton possessed a massive amount of teased, blonde hair and a voice that was every bit as impressive as her gravity defying bosom.

A short series of Dolly Parton jokes, followed. “Why are her feet so small? Can’t nothin’ grow in that much shade.” This kept conversation going until Mark managed to reclaim his spot on the edge of the couch. Boudreaux took possession of the large recliner that had to be his domestic throne.

The safest thing for two men unsure of each other’s attitudes and opinions to talk about is sports. Boudreaux began, “You’re going to LSU, right?” Mark nodded. “So how the Tigers gonna do this year?”

They spent the next few minutes talking about LSU football, “that Bradshaw kid,” up at Louisiana Tech and how the Saints might do in their second season. Then just as Mark was beginning to relax, Boudreaux changed the subject. “How were things in Baton Rouge after old, Martin ‘Lucifer’ Coon got shot?”

Mark knew Boudreaux was referring to the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. He also knew he was on thin ice. “Things were a little tense for a while. There were some marches and protests and everybody was on edge. The students at Southern University are a lot more militant than the ones up at Grambling. No one was sure what might happen. Of course, Baton Rouge wasn’t a real hot spot. At least, not in comparison to what went on in some of the towns over towards Mississippi.”

Mark wasn’t sure what, but something he said must have flipped a switch inside Boudreaux. “They can yell and scream all they want, we still control things down here, and we’re gonna make sure we stay in control. What worries me is out there in California, in faggot land, and up north, in places like Jew York City. Hell, all those niggers do is scream about their rights, collect welfare checks, and chase after white women.”

When he’d come home for the summer and heard Boudreaux was running the local Klan, Mark had been skeptical. Cajuns didn’t fool with the Klan, much less become honchos. But listening to Boudreaux, maybe the stories were true. But even if they were, that didn’t mean Bebe was involved. “Well, maybe so, sir. I don’t know. I mean I’ve never been to any of those places myself.”

“There’s no damn ‘maybe’ about it.” Boudreaux was almost shouting. “Niggers carry the curse of Cain. It’s in your Bible, look it up. They’re a sub-human, jungle race dat’s being used by the ACL-Jew and all those other commies and queers to take dis country away from the white, Christian race. And by God they'll do it too if we don’t stick together.”

Mark considered trying to ease the intensity by making a joke about how white folks aren’t actually white. But he shelved the idea. If he had to risk pissing Boudreaux off, he didn’t want the issue to be some imagined insult regarding the color of the Cajun’s deeply tanned skin.

“Mr. Boudreaux, I’ve got a lot of respect for you, for what you did in the war, and all. And I know I’m just a kid and you’ve seen and done a lot more than I have. But Mr. Boudreaux, one of my best friends is Willie Carter and he’s black. And I’m sorry if this disappoints you or makes you mad at me, but he and I have been friends forever. The thing is Mr. Boudreaux, Willie may be black, but he’s not a nigger, and he’s not sub-human.”

There was a moment’s silence. When Boudreaux began, his voice was a little softer. “I’m not saying there’s not some decent niggers. Hell, there’s always an exception to every rule. If you’ve known this boy all your life, then maybe he’s one. Maybe he’s got a little white blood that’s brought out the good in him. It happens. But what about that troublemaking daddy of his, the preacher who keeps going around stirring up the niggers? And what about his brother, the bootlegger? Hell, I guess it’s a family deal. One juices ‘em up Saturday night and the other stirs ‘em up Sunday morning.”

Boudreaux laughed at his own joke, but Mark couldn’t force a smile. He ached to shout, “For the love of God, shut up! I’m so tired of acting polite while idiots like you rant and rave all this brain-dead racist shit. All you sad-ass losers have done is discredit the South and the flag my ancestors fought and died under. Why the hell won’t you just go away?"

But he couldn’t say that to an adult, not to anyone from Pinefield. Most of all, not to Bebe’s father while sitting in his living room waiting to take her on a date.

Sometimes, he felt certain the losers would never go away. They were like the poor. They’d always be around. Now as he looked over at Boudreaux, the only thing Mark could think to do was make a non-committal shrug.

To his surprise, the shrug seemed to make Boudreaux even madder. “So tell me son, what are we supposed to do? I’m saying we can’t just let the commies and coons come in and take over. We gotta fight for our rights, for our way of life.”

Mark looked at the floor, ignoring the challenge in the older man’s eyes, and considered his response. “I’m a southerner, Mr. Boudreaux. According to Dad, my great grandfather fought the U.S. government from Shiloh to Stone Mountain. The thing is, he and all the rest of those men fought hard, but we still lost. And now, I’ve got it on good authority, those same Feds have the atomic bomb.”

Much to his relief, Boudreaux’s face broke into a small, pleased grin. “Does make it seem like a stacked deck, I guess. But just you remember, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but the size of the fight in the dog.”

Before Mark could frame a reply to that old football cliché, Bebe made her grand entrance. She was wearing a short, white, summer dress that accentuated her long, dark hair and olive complexion. Even before she pirouetted and asked how she looked, all other topics of conversation had ceased to exist. After receiving the accolades of her male admirers, she gave her father a quick good-bye kiss and hurried out with Mark.

Unnoticed on the television, Porter Wagoner and the Wagonmasters were singing, “Feel fresh and clean inside. Black-Draught makes you feel clean from the inside out.”

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal
in a scene from the 1970 film, LOVE STORY

SYNOPSIS: In the summer of 1970, GWEN KAPLAN seemed to have her act together. She was smart, pretty, halfway through college, and engaged to her long-time boyfriend. Then MARK CAHILL walked into her life. The wounded Vietnam vet from the south was unlike anyone she’d ever known. She only wanted to be a friend to this nice guy who was alone and a long way from home. But then he kissed her, and Gwen’s well-planned act began to crumble. Neither she nor her friends could believe what she’d gotten into. Though sure she still loved her fiancé, as summer turned to fall, her relationship with Mark became more intimate until….

Bayou Bill

note: The "love scenes" in this chapter contain so few graphic physical details, even a PG-13 rating might be a stretch. Any feedback on them would be appreciated.


Weekend For Two
by Bill Fullerton

Mark tipped the old bellhop then closed and locked the door to the dated midtown hotel room. He turned and looked at Gwen. She was standing near the foot of the double bed, clutching her purse, and looking back at him. Even with his poor eyesight, he could tell she shared his nervousness. He hoped his wasn't so obvious.

They kept staring until he slipped off his coat, laid it over the high back of a generic stuffed armchair and came to her. He took the purse from her trembing fingers and tossed it toward the same chair. He missed. It landed on the thin carpet with a solid thunk. Neither one noticed.

Mark wondered what to do next. Then instinct took over. He stepped forward, wrapped Gwen in his arms, and crushed her against his chest.

The abrupt embrace unbalanced her and she stepped back. When her leg hit the edge of the bed, she began to fall. Mark never let go, and they tumbled together onto the bed. They were still bouncing when he started covering her face and neck with kisses.

Before she could catch her breath, he flipped up the short skirt to her A-line dress and started pulling off her panty hose. It was past her knees when he stopped. There was another obstacle—her shoes. He fumbled with their tiny straps until both shoes were unbuckled, off her feet, and resting somewhere on the floor.

Moments later, she was nude from her quivering stomach and round hips down the length of her long legs. He stared with open admiration and felt a shiver of pent-up desire.

There had been other women in his life, one very special, but none like Gwen. Through some alchemy, she managed to combine girl-next-door good looks with long-legged sex appeal, an open attitude toward relationships, and a casual acceptance of sexuality. This girl was mysterious and guileless, knowing and naive, erotic and romantic, carnal and innocent, engaged and yet willing to give herself to him. It was all very disconcerting.

To his everlasting amazement, they were not only about to make love, they would be doing so all weekend. Instead of the usual narrow, cramped back seat of a car, they were in a hotel room. He had it all: time, location and, most important, this enigmatic girl who would share that time, and her most desirable young body, with him.


When Mark began moving over her body, Gwen undid his dark blue tie. Then while he fumbled with his pants, she took off his cufflinks and unbuttoned his shirt with steady fingers. She was excited, happy, even a little apprehensive, but under control.

It was hard to believe she would be spending the entire weekend making love with this strange man she barely knew. She and Johnny had dated for almost two years before she let him take her virginity. There’d been more pain than pleasure for her, but the goofy expression on his face made it all seem worthwhile.

They’d made love on a regular basis ever since. And while her experience with sex was limited to Johnny, she sensed he was a capable lover. But while still feeling a loving tenderness towards him, she’d begun to wonder what it would be like to make love with someone different, someone big and tall, self-confident, maybe a bit mysterious and, most of all, experienced. Someone like Mark Cahill.

After shedding the rest of his clothes, Mark finished removing Gwen's dress. They began exploring each other's body, marveling at the smoothness of skin, the softness of breasts, the hardness of muscles, and the scars of war. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, they moved closer until their lips met in an effortless, natural motion. Without breaking the contact of their lips, Mark lowered his hard body until flesh made contact with flesh.

Gwen placed her hands on the sides of Mark's head, pressed her mouth against his and gently inserted her tongue. She moved like a languid snake, making slow, sensuous love to his mouth.

When their lips parted, both sensed it was time. Unbidden, Gwen spread her long legs, giving him unlimited access to her waiting body. He responded by maneuvering between them. After one last kiss, their hips rushed towards one another, and the bodies of the girl from New York and the boy from Louisiana became as one.

They were in each other’s arms for hours, sharing a time and place all their own. Gwen didn’t know or care how long it was. If she had her way they'd make love forever.

She didn’t even know how long they’d been locked in their present lover’s knot, savoring the exquisite afterglow of lovemaking. She felt Mark's body relax. His sigh sounded very contented as he lowered her legs and let his arms drop to his sides. But he continued kneeling motionless between her trembling legs.

Waves of pleasure rolled over Gwen as she looked at her exhausted lover. Never had she imagined making love could be so physically demanding, or so satisfying. But now Mark would need to take a break, just like she did. They could talk and get to know each other better. Maybe go get something to eat. Later, they would make love again, slowly this time. After all, they had all weekend. And if--.

Mark began toppling towards her. Gwen gasped, closed her eyes and turned away. The bed shook as his hands slammed down beside her head. When things stopped bouncing, she opened her eyes. Mark was watching her with a sly grin.

Before she could say anything, she felt him starting again, this time with slow, relaxed strokes. Her feelings ran from dismay, to disbelief, and then to delight. That break would have to wait. This man wanted her.

The rest of the weekend was a constant blur of long, torrid, intimate pleasure. While the action in bed never seemed to stop, there were a few breaks, though only to shower together, take short naps, or go out to for brief meals. Seconds after waking up, drying off, or getting back to the room, another round of lovemaking would begin.

It was the first sex in months for Mark. For Gwen, it was the first sex without the usual worries, inhibitions and, of course, with anyone other than Johnny.

They were two healthy young animals, temporarily released from the normal constraints of time, place, and emotion. For the rest of the weekend, they were free to feed off each other's pent-up desires, passions, and sexuality.

Late that evening, during the first extended pause in their lovemaking, they showered, got dressed, and went out for dinner. After exploring the Times Square area, they settled on a small, candle-lit, Italian restaurant. Gwen agreed to Mark’s suggestion they try the linguine and clam sauce and order a bottle of Chablis.

When the waiter brought the wine, Mark glanced at the cork and tasted the sample offered him before nodding his approval. Before they met, she had seen this ritual in the movies, but never in real life.

She sipped the wine and found she liked its bright, clean taste. "I just discovered Chablis," he said, noting her enjoyment. "It's a great wine, especially if it's served very cold."

When the meal came, Mark refilled their glasses. "There's a running joke among the Cajuns down in south Louisiana that oysters are supposed to make you love longer. But since there weren’t any on the menu, I hope clams are the next best thing."

"Believe me, fella, you don't need any oysters."

"You just bring out the best in me.” There was a pleased grin on his face. "Or is that the beast in me? I never can get all that straight."

"Maybe the beast is the best in you."

"Oh, heavens to Betty Boop, surely not. I much prefer to think of myself as the sensitive, intellectual, caring type of lover. Now it is true that to most folks I look, act, and maybe even smell like a lewd, crude, redneck lout, but that's just a thin façade. Trust me, I’m not a lout."

Gwen giggled so hard at this monologue, she spilled some of her wine onto the red and white checkered tablecloth. "Well, I may be a crude beast," said Mark, as he helped her wipe up the mess, "but you're one messy broad."

"Then I guess that makes us perfect for each other."

"Not unless you learn to eat turnip greens and grits.”

"Well, in that case, you'll have to learn to eat lox and bagels.”

"Don't believe I'd care to try.” He broke off a piece of hot, crusty bread and handing it to Gwen. "To my cultured southern ears, lox and bagels sounds like a down-and-out law firm or maybe some old vaudeville team."

"You mean there's absolutely nothing that could ever tempt you to try lox and bagels?” She spoke in a low, suggestive voice while slowly spreading a thick layer of butter over the warm bread.

"Well, now, since you put it that way, I suppose the right person might be able to tempt me."

"And just who do you think that person might be, kind sir?"

"Never can tell. Who knows, it might even be you. I've got a well known weakness for cute student nurses with soft, brown eyes and long, sexy legs."

There was a teasing tone in his voice. Still, Gwen felt her face flush at the compliment. For some reason, coming from him, she could almost believe it was true.

Mark snapped his fingers "I've just had an outstanding idea! After we knock off these clams, let's slide back to the room and see if you can tempt me into trying these here lox and bagels, whatever or whoever they are."

Gwen gave him a big, happy smile. “That sounds like a great idea to me.”

They held hands and chatted while walking back though the chill evening air to their room. A block away from the hotel, Mark pulled her into a cramped, hole-in-the-wall newsstand where he bought a paperback copy of the Kama Sutra and some chocolate candy. "I can't believe you're still hungry after all we've just eaten. I'm stuffed."

"Just planning ahead, my good woman," he replied, while paying the cashier. "This book is to give us guidance in case we forget what to do or how to do it. The candy is to give me energy in case we don't.”

"I've got a hunch the last thing you'll ever need to worry about is forgetting. As for needing energy, well, we'll see about that."

After re-entering their room, Mark closed the door, tossed the paper bag onto the room’s tiny dresser, and then pulled Gwen to him. The kiss was long and deep. When their lips parted, Gwen looked up at him and noticed a pleased, almost contented, expression on his face.

They continued standing near the door, wrapped in each other's arms until he leaned back enough to unfasten the two button of her Henley dress and pull it over her head.

The look on his face changed from anticipation to surprise. Gwen stood in front of him wearing nothing but her platform shoes, jewelry and a small, nervous, smile.

"You went out with no underwear on—none at all?” Amazement and approval could be heard in his voice.

Relieved by this positive reaction, Gwen nodded. The idea had been Sue's. For the past two years she had teased Gwen about being a middle class square with a steady boyfriend, who wouldn't even flirt with other guys.

In exchange for telling Gwen about the Dixie Hotel, Sue made her promise to have no underwear on the first time she and Mark left their room. "That's assuming you two ever leave the room," she said with a smirk. "But I promise, it always turns guys on. I'm dying to find out how your southern gentleman will react."

Sue had most definitely been right. Mark's reaction more than justified the uneasiness Gwen felt walking around the city wearing nothing except her dress, shoes, and jewelry.

"Out-rocking-standing," said Mark. “I'm just glad you didn't tell me about this in the restaurant. Sitting through dinner knowing all these tempting goodies were so available, that would have been tough to resist."

Taking her hand, he led a beaming Gwen toward the bed. "Come, my good woman, it's way past time I got back to sampling all your delights. Call it dessert in bed."


At some point, Friday night became Saturday, which then metamorphosed into today. Lying alone in the rumpled bed, Gwen's sore, tired, nude body was a mass of exquisite aches and pains. It was a constant reminder that, for most of the weekend, she had been in this bed making love with Mark.

While her body might be weary, she felt contented and in an upbeat mood. To her surprise, she had no regrets. As her aching body could attest, he had needed her. But she had needed him, though in a different way she still couldn’t quite understand.

There had been quiet meals, long walks, intimate conversations, and one long, incredibly erotic sexual feast after another. Just moments earlier, they concluded yet another marathon session that left her completely exhausted. After cuddling for a few minutes, Mark got up to take a shower. Normally, she would have joined him. But she was way too tired to even think about getting up and stayed in bed to rest.

Hearing the shower stop, she wondered what would happen next. While she wasn't sure about the time, she knew they'd have to be checking out before long. Turning her head in the direction of the bathroom, she saw Mark walking out. He was toweling water off his big, well-muscled body, and he was smiling.

Gwen stared in amazement. The look on his face and the size of his erection left little doubt why he was smiling. After a weekend of almost constant lovemaking, he wanted her again. It was incredible.

"I thought showers were supposed to cure that condition. What am I going to do with you?"

“Sorry, I messed up and took a hot shower instead of a cold one. Besides, I missed you.”

This being a sex object was a super ego-rush, but exhausting. Still, the weekend had been an incredible experience. She’d learned a lot about making love, about Mark, and about herself. So, tired or not, in their last few moments together, not only would they make love again, she'd do her best to make it something he'd never forget.

She gave Mark an indulgent smile, and motioned for him to come closer. When he reached the bed, she wrapped her fingers around the hard organ that had given her so much pleasure. Using this special handhold, she began gently pulling him into their well-used bed. “Mr. Cahill, you’ve got such a nice way of telling a girl you care.”

This time the sex was very serious and, once started, seemed to last forever. They balled, screwed, got it on, maybe even made love, and did so in a variety of positions, including ones she’d only read about before this weekend. The intense love-fest continued for the rest of the morning until their mounting ecstasy exploded in a climax that left them sweaty, exhausted, and very content.

Gradually, the real world re-entered their lives and they began to disentangle. For the first time that weekend, Gwen glanced at her watch. She had told her parents she'd be coming home around noon and was running late.

Mark said he’d pay for her to take a cab home. She tried to protest, but he cut her off. “This makes it easier for me. You drop me off at the hospital and then pay the driver when you get home.”

As the cab pulled up near the VA, Mark kissed her. "Why don't ya come up and see me some time, little lady?”

"First, I've got to know if you're the type of guy who'd try to take advantage of me."

He got out and closed the door. "Of course I am.”

Gwen stuck her head out the window. "Oh, good. In that case, I'll be over tomorrow night.” They kissed once again. She broke the kiss and slipped her head back inside as the cab hurried off.

Looking back, she saw that, instead of watching her cab depart, Mark had turned toward the hospital. With a sigh, she shifted back around and checked her watch. It was time to put him and the last forty-two hours out of her mind. She had done her best to make his life a little happier. Now she needed to concentrate on her own life, on her parents, on school, and on Johnny.


After getting his bearings, Mark turned back around to wave goodbye, but the taxi had already slipped into the Sunday traffic on First Avenue. He waved, but had no way of knowing if Gwen saw his gesture.

It was a clammy, overcast day, but he wasn't anxious to return to his room. Life in the hospital would seem even duller than usual after this weekend. And it had been one hell of a weekend, he thought. Then he turned around and headed toward the hospital.

The sex was outstanding, the best he ever had. Making love with someone who seemed to accept sex as a natural, enjoyable, part of life was incredible. No phony shyness or crying about whether he'd respect her in the morning. Hell, she was there in the morning, willing to try different things, to laugh when something went wrong and to openly enjoy those that went right.

He’d never understand women, most of all one like Gwen. Maybe that was just as well. Before long, she’d be out of school and married, while he might still be in hospitals, only dreaming about returning to school, much less having a real life.

For now, though, Gwen had given him one of the greatest gifts he would ever receive. This weekend was the first time he hadn’t been haunted by images and memories of the last two years: the fire, getting wounded, the months of total blindness, his operations and, most of all, the friends he’d lost.

Wherever their fates might lead, Mark knew he'd always be grateful to Gwen Kaplan, and not just for the sex, although that was incredible. This weekend she not only gave him her delightful body, but the priceless present of total happiness and contentment.