“We could use a fourth player.” She said.
I was just walking out of the men’s room of the public beach facility. It was tattered with peeling paint and stinky bathrooms but it had an early 1900’s charm. The girl talking to me was anything but tattered. She was young, clad in a red bikini and athletic sunglasses, not the huge fashion sunglasses I’d seen on most of the girls.
It was early afternoon, just after 1pm and the sun was just beginning to bake. The forecast called for humidity and high temperatures and it was right. I was sweating just walking to the bathroom through the deep sand.
She stood on the rope end line of the last volleyball court in a row of four. In the few days I’d spent here the courts had been busy. Beach goers playing pick-up games during the day and judging by the increase in talent, local organized leagues in the evenings. We’d stood and watched a hard fought match just the evening before after dinner, commenting on how we missed playing. So when the young, bikini clad blonde asked, and after a brief pause to quickly judge the other 7 players on her court, I said, “Sure. I’m Jack.”
“Nice to meet you Jack, I’m Amy.” She reached toward me and gave my hand a sandy shake. Then turned toward the court and announced to the other seven players, “This is Jack, you guys.”
I played behind her and couldn’t help notice her young athletic ass as she moved around in the sand. At a young age men become connoisseurs of the female ass and it was something I could never quite figure out. The male obsession with breasts is understandable, it makes sense. It’s instinctual from the womb. But the female ass? It severs no purpose in the way of male survival, or nourishment, but we put it on an equal pedestal with the breast. We wonder what it looks like in a pair of tight jeans. Then, when we see a nice one in jeans, one that fits a man’s personal taste whether it be round, or thin, or in the case of Amy bending over in front of me awaiting the next serve, muscular and athletic, we wonder what it looks like outside the denim. Men talk about their hobbies, their love affair with cars, or golf, or travel. But the unspoken life long hobby of every male is admiring the female form.
After two games both sides found the groove of their teammates. We played to the strengths of those around us. It became apparent that Amy knew all the guys and girls I was playing with. They joked and taunted one another. By the second game I became part of the team, and part of the banter, but I could never truly be part of their group. As Roth said in his novel, “It’s like playing baseball
with a bunch of twenty-year-olds. It doesn’t make you twenty because your playing with them. You note the difference every second of the game. But at least your not sitting on the sidelines.” That was me. I kept myself in good shape. Ran almost daily and stayed active, but playing volleyball with Amy and her friends would never, even in the slightest way, make me feel twenty again.
But during the games, when a good shot was made by our foursome, we exchanged high fives, fist bumps, and in the case of Amy, big smiles that lit her entire face. You couldn’t help but smile back at her. It was infectious.
“Let’s put a beer on the last game, just to make it interesting.” Joe, one of the lean, shirtless men on the other team called out and a fresh round of smack talk followed.
Amy turned to me and said, “Let’s kick their ass.”
“Yeah, let’s do that.” I said. We smiled. The subtle exchange with a young, beautiful girl wasn’t lost on me.
And that’s just what we did, we kicked their ass. I don’t remember the score, but it wasn’t as close as the two games previous. I just remember the invite. It came while we were standing in the lake, rinsing the sand from our bodies. Amy had her sunglasses off and her hair was no longer pulled back in a pony. “Were gonna be at the Black River tonight if you want to stop by with your wife.” I hadn’t mentioned a wife, she must have assumed, given my age, that I was attached.
“Maybe we will.” I washed the last of the sand from my shoulders and face. The cool lake water felt good after an hour in the sun and humidity.
“If Joe doesn’t buy you a beer, I’ll buy you one.”
I gathered up my cooler and chair and walked the three blocks to the bungalow. The streets and yards were busy with vacationers and locals working in their yards. When I got home I went straight to the shower. I assumed she was writing but when I walked in the bedroom she was asleep on the bed. The room was cool from the air conditioning and she had a thin sheet covering her. I watched her sleep while I dried my hair and put on a fresh pair of boxers, then I slipped under the sheet and moved close to her. I drifted off to sleep with the warmth of her body against mine.
“How was the beach?” She whispered. The shadows of the evening grew across the room when we woke.
“Good. It’s hot out there. How’s things here?” I tried to not ask directly about her writing progress. I understood that progress was made in ways that didn’t appear in the word count. A walk in the park, or a run on the beach, or even an afternoon nap could be counted as progress if it pushes the writer forward.
“I got stuck and the bed suddenly looked good.” She said, with a smile. I pulled her close to me and buried my head between her head and shoulder. My arms wrapped her small body. “Now I’m starving.”
“Let’s go then.” We dressed and ate dinner at a martini and tapas bar downtown. We sat on the outdoor deck and enjoyed the night air. I told her about the volleyball games and we laughed at how I felt playing with a bunch of twenty-year- olds. I told her we were invited for a victory beer.
After I paid the bill I asked if she wanted to go over to Black River Grill for a drink.
“I’d love to. I could use a few minutes in a dark bar to get my head in a different place. It’s all beaches and sun right now.” We held hands as we walked the two blocks. There were still a lot of people out even though it was after 10pm. Vacationers, trying to get the most out of each day. We were no different.
Black River Grill sits on a corner. It’s customers are a mix of locals and vacationers. Live music in the basement brings a young crowd after 10. We found two bar stools and put our order in with the tattooed bartender. When we walked in I scanned the room to see if Amy or her friends were there but I didn’t see any of them. Just as well, I thought. One thing I knew of people that age is that they don’t get started on an evening out until at least 11pm. I also knew how easily a quick invite like the one Amy extended me that afternoon could be forgotten when a better opportunity arose.
We watched the ball game on the screens overhead and talked about what we would do for the last few days of vacation. When our glasses were about empty the burly bartender came over. “Ready for another one? Amy said she owed you.” He motioned behind me. I turned and saw Amy sitting at a table with a few people her age. She was looking down, texting on her phone, but looked up and smiled at me just as I was turning back around. I recognized one of the girls from the volleyball game that afternoon but the two guys they sat with I’d never seen before.
I glanced at my wife and she nodded in approval. “Sure, give us two more.” When the drinks arrived I turned and raised it toward Amy in a gesture of thanks.
A moment later I heard Amy’s familiar voice behind me, “I don’t think Joe is gonna show up. His pride gets hurt easily.”
I turned and smiled at her. “Well, thanks for the drink.” I raised my tumbler and she held her beer bottle up. “This is my wife.” My wife shook her hand and they exchanged the usual back and forth. “You’re here with friends?”
We turned and look toward her table, “Yes, that’s Chelsea, you recognize her from today. And a couple other friends.”
“No, just guys we went to high school with. They’re not what I want.”
I wondered what she meant by that but let it pass. “You’re from here?” I asked. When she looked away I peeked at her clothes. She had on a white, sleeveless shirt that was long, past her hips. And black tights with red heeled shoes.
“All my life.”
“Well, thanks for the drink. We don’t want to keep you from your friends.” As much as I was enjoying our exchange, I felt obliged to offer her a getaway.
“You’re not keeping me from them.” She smiled at me and then my wife. I offered her my chair and pretty soon her and my wife were talking about the local shopping and the wineries not far from the city. I watched them go back and forth, smiling, talking and laughing about a few things they had in common. Women can be the harshest of critics when it came to other women and you can tell when two women genuinely like one another. These two did. They were both beautiful, but in different ways. Amy’s was young and still not sure of her beauty and how it fit in to this world. My wife was beautiful and assured of her place. She was confident in hers. She modeled at one time and still could if writing didn’t take up so much of her time.
At one point my wife reached into her small purse and took out a notebook and pen. The notebook was small, the kind one would make a grocery list on. It was well worn and she flipped thought a dozen pages before she found a blank. She smiled at Amy, “I’m sorry, I’m a writer and need to capture a thought real quick.” Amy watched her begin to write on the notebook then looked up at me, obviously impressed.
When she finished Amy asked about her writing. She seemed genuinely impressed and interested unlike many others that asked out of obligation then didn’t really listen to the answers. My wife downed the last of her drink, “I’m going to go now. It was nice meeting you, Amy.” Amy shook her hand and smiled.
“Let me walk you back.” I told her after she slid off the barstool.
“No, you stay. I’ve got something and I don’t want to lose it.” I kissed her and she left. Amy looked a bit puzzled by her quick exit after I sat down on the stool my wife had just vacated.
“She needs to write. When the inspiration hits her, she has to go. I’m used to it after all these years.”
“How many years?”
“Nine.” I said.
“She’s beautiful.” Amy smiled when she said it.
“She is.” Amy nodded her head, took a drink and looked at the television above the bar.
We ordered another drink and I could feel the fog of booze settling in my head. We talked light. No family talk. Nothing about politics or beliefs. We exchanged funny drinking stories. Mine were from twenty years ago, her’s much more recent. When she’d laugh sometimes she’d set her hand on my leg or shoulder for a second. The booze worked it’s way through me but I was ultra aware of her touch. We faced each other on the stools and when I could, I took liberties in looking at Amy’s legs in those tights. I’d seen her in a bikini only hours earlier but that didn’t keep me from wondering what her legs and ass looked like under there.
She excused herself to use the bathroom and I was alone with my thoughts for a moment. The band had started in the basement and music filled the bar now. It was busier than when we first arrived, almost to capacity with people standing just behind the barstools. I glanced around knowing I wouldn’t know a soul in the place, except Amy. The table her friends were at was now occupied by two couples. My drunk brain told me they were retired, probably in town for the week. Shopping for the ladies, golf for the men. I saw Amy weave her way through the crowd back to the empty chair beside me. She stopped and said hi to a few locals on the way.
“The band sounds pretty good.” I told her once she was sitting down. She sat facing me now, her knees touching mine. Her legs were open, but just a bit.
“Come on then, let’s go.” She was up and had a hold of my hand. I followed her back though the crowd, her hand never let go of mine until we reached the stairs. Once in the basement, I found a spot near the bar. We listened as the band did a bad rendition of Pearl Jam, then followed it with a good version of The Eagles. Amy moved to the music next to me. I enjoyed the sounds and the sights. It had been awhile since I’d been in such an environment. Young people, live music, and never with the company of a girl 20 years my junior.
“This music is closer more my generation than yours.” The band took a break and the DJ spun a song but on a volume that allowed conversation.
“What’s your generation?” She was standing close to me. She had to, the crowd in the lower level was wall to wall.
“You know, people my age. Like your parents age. That’s probably why you like these songs, your parents probably played them around the house.”
“They did. But I don’t consider you to be their age.” She was smiling at me. I noticed how flawless her skin was. The lights from the stage cast a glow over her, or maybe it was the booze. Probably a combination of the two. I thought of the young guys on the beach, and the young guys here in this bar and a bit trace of envy grew inside me. She’s going to fall in love with one of them someday. Give all of herself to that person, unconditionally, the way only a young woman could.
The band came back and started the next set. “Let’s do a shot.” Amy pushed past and and got the bartenders attention. There are those that enjoy doing liquor shots, and those that don’t. Not a lot of in between. I fell in the side of not liking them. I liked my liquor on the rocks, or mixed with soda. The days of me doing shots in a crowded bar passed a long time ago, but wasn’t going to argue with her.
“Here.” She handed me a little plastic cup filled with brown liquid. I smelled it, Tequila. I shook my head disapprovingly at her. She smiled and held her glass up. I held mine up, “Too new friends.” She said. I paused a second and watched her drink the booze in one quick toss. Then I drank mine and fought the urge to wince at the burn in my throat. She smiled at me and we held eye contact for a moment.
The booze was heavily clouding all my senses now. The music no longer seemed as loud, the bar seemed less crowded, and I felt some kind of connection with a girl who was a stranger just 12 hours earlier. I had a million questions I wanted to ask her, then I didn’t. I wanted to know, but then I didn’t. I cared, but didn’t. My drunk brain spun like the the record on the DJ table. He spun a popular rap song from 15 years ago, glorifying the female ass. A collective scream came from the girls in the bar and there was a rush to the dance floor.
Amy and I smiled at each other. Enjoying the scene. She started moving her body next to me and then in front of me. She faced me and danced with her body almost touching mine, holding her arms out, a beer bottle in one hand. She moved closer, her body now against mine and not missing a beat from the beat heavy music that filled the bar. It felt as if we were alone in a sea of people. In that crowd of people, music loud, I felt a certain privacy.
I could feel her breasts against my chest and her hips bounced against my leg. Her face was almost against mine and I could smell the scent of her hair. There is something magical about smelling a woman’s hair from this close. It invites certain thoughts of passion and sex. She put her lips next to my ear, “Dance with me.”
I began moving my body up and down with hers in rhythm. Her face remained close to mine. I put my hand on her hip and pulled it close to me. Once her body was against mine, I reached around and felt her ass through the long shirt and tights underneath. We kept moving together, her body now completely pressed against mine, our faces close. I reached lower with my hand, down her thigh. I could feel the taught muscle flex under the tights with each thrust of her body. When I moved my hand back up, I slid it under her shirt. Now I could feel her ass with just the thin tights between my skin and hers. I moved it up and felt the curve where her lower back met her ass.
Her eyes were closed now. Her free hand on my face. Her legs parted and she pressed herself against my thigh. I gripped her ass and pulled her even closer. My heart fluttered at the excitement and arousal inside me. This young beautiful girl. This form of, what shall we call it? Vertical sex? The grinding and groping was equal to the foreplay of two lovers, only we weren’t lovers. I thought of what it would be like to have her on a bed, horizontal. What it would be like to make love to her. Her young tan body below me. My mind raced. I thought of the guys she’d been with. About how lucky they were. I thought of some of the girls I fucked when I was her age. Young and beautiful but I quickly forgot about them. I wonder if Amy had been forgotten by someone. I envied the men she had slept with, but I understood if that’s all they wanted from her. But in that moment, with the music bumping, her body bumping, I thought of how fun it would be to enjoy the carnal dance with her. The rhythm of lust between two.
The song ended and it was quiet for a moment as the band came back on stage. Amy stopped dancing, but didn’t move her body away from mine. I kept my hand on her ass for a moment then moved it to her hip. Now, if she wanted to move away from me, she could. But she didn’t. A moment of clarity came over me. Maybe it was the absence of music, or the booze let me have one more clear thought before returning my brain to it’s clouded stupor.
“I need to get going.” I said. I could feel her ear on my lips as I spoke. She moved her head away from mine and looked at me. We smiled at each other at very close range. Her lips invited me to kiss them, but I resisted. The struggle was immense inside me but I fought the urge. She moved her hips away from mine and as she did, my hand slid on the smooth fabric of them black tights one last time, and then it was off of her.
“I’m going too.” She said. She followed me as I weaved my way through the crowd and up the stairs. The bar on the main floor was almost empty. A few drinkers at the bar and one table was full of young people.
Near the front door I turned to her. “You’re not driving, are you?”
“No, I know those guys.” She motioned to the table of young people. “They’ll give me a ride.” I looked at her differently now. She wasn’t on the pedestal of youth and beauty like she was in my eyes earlier. Maybe it was the moment or the booze, but she felt closer to me. Not in a love sense, that couldn’t be, but I felt a certain connection to her standing there. I cared how she was getting home, if she would be safe.
“Well, then. Thanks for the drink.” I smiled at her. “And thanks for letting me feel young on the sand with you guys today.”
“You need to stop talking about being old. You’re not. I asked you to play because I knew by looking at you that you could keep up with us.” She spoke clear now. No longer slurred by beer and tequila.
“Well, thank you. Have a great night.” I gave her a friendly hug and walked toward the door. I could hear the band in the basement, they were playing a good version of Bob Segar, or at least it sounded good thought the booze in my head. I walked out and felt the cool late night air. I took my phone from my pocket and checked it for the first time all night. It was after 1am and there were no messages. I started walking down Main toward Sycamore, my legs wavering with each step.
“Jack.” Amy called to me from behind. I stopped and turned around. I watched her as she walked the half block to me, her heels clicking on the sidewalk. Again, she looked great in all ways. She tucked her hair behind her ear as she reached me then smiled.
“Remember when you asked me if one of them guys was my boyfriend?”
I thought for a moment then remembered the two guys she was sitting with when she bought my wife and I that first drink. “Yeah, you said they were friends.”
“Then I said I they weren’t what I want.” She was looking in my eyes and I could almost sense a sadness about her. I felt the urge to hug her, comfort her.
“Yeah. I wondered what that meant.” I said. The lipstick was absent from her lips now but they, along with skin on her face, glowed in the street lights. Natural beauty has a way of shining in all forms of light.
“I didn’t know it when I said it but the way you look at your wife, the way you talk about her, that’s exactly what I want.”
I held out my arms and she came to me. I hugged her. Again I could smell her hair, feel her body. But it had changed from erotic to the feeling of friendship.
“You’ll find it, Amy. You’ll find someone who’ll look at you like that.”
When I climbed into bed, just before my drunk mind gave in to the booze and exhaustion, I looked at my wife. I brushed her dark hair away from her face and looked at her face. Beauty has a way of shining through in all forms of light.