The parents have closed the door an hour ago and I’m alone with the furniture and the fridge and the stereo cabinet, the color TV and the children. Two little girls, five and four. The girls have taken their baths and been prudently dressed in their jammies and put to bed before I showed up at two dollars an hour. I have my homework on the table, 8th grade social studies and math. I like the social studies, the math is a blank wall. The apartment here is downstairs from the apartment where I live with my mom and my kid brother Dave. Math will go on being a blank wall, it will always be a blank wall. Someday my mom, the one who takes care of us,now freshly divorced from my dad, will go nuts and put us all through it. Someday my brother and I will go chasing after strange gods and we two, the most ordinary of people, will go on to live very strange lives. But none of that has happened yet. Right now I am here.
I pad down the hall in my socks to look in on the girls, make sure they’re all right. One is sprawled asleep, tangled in her limbs as though she had fallen from a great height. The other is pretending to be sleep, laying in a neatly formal way with her hands on her chest, breathing lightly, surrounded by stuffed toys. I leave the room, leaving the door open to the hall light as I was told because the not asleep girl is afraid of the dark. I stand still and listen at the door. In seconds she is up and about and whispering. Oddly - both girls are whispering. The sprawled girl, the younger one, she was awake too. The older is not yet good at fooling boys. Someday that will change too, though there is something here that makes me think she will grow up to be romantic and more fooled than fooling. But this younger one is formidable. A natural. She will break hearts.
I go back to the living room, past my school books, because with the loss of my father I have already begun to lose interest in school and will soon begin to fail as a student. Instead I pull out the book I really want to read, “Savage Pellucidar” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. On the cover is a Frank Frazetta painting of a girl flanked by saber-tooth cats. She’s dressed in an animal skin bikini, with a small face, fierce eyes, avid lips and mighty thighs that are an alarm to cunnilingus but I don’t know what that is yet.
“ . . . O-aa heard a savage growl close behind her. She turned to see a strange jalok reared on its hind feet to seize her and drag her down. As she leaped, quick as a chamois, to one side, she saw something else. She saw Rahna spring upon the strange jalok and hurl it to the ground. . . “
There is this girl in the apartments where we live, named Dori. I have a thing for Dori and I think she has a thing for me because she borrowed all my Conan books and took me to her place to see her pet piranha fish, Reggie. The money from this baby sitting will purchase my first date with Dori sometime soon. I will wear a blue nylon turtleneck sweater with a huge medallion to impress her. Immediately after that date I will be dumped for another guy in the apartments, one who does not wear medallions on dates.
They told me I can drink anything from the fridge, but I’m afraid to. Being in an alien apartment, much more nicely furnished than ours, I feel like a thief already.
The phone rings and I put down the paperback and answer. Its the mother checking in to make sure the girls are okay. There’s music and people talking loudly behind her. I tell them the girls are asleep and she says they’ll be back in an hour or so.
I want to hear music, even though I haven’t been given permission to. I go to the big upholstered stereo cabinet and carefully lift back the wings to see what’s in there. The turntable is above a storage area with a long march of record albums and something beside them. I lift out the first album. “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” by Herb Alpert. On the cover is a dark skinned woman, dressed in whipped cream and a smile and nothing else.
Her breasts seem enormous. I’m instantly tumescent. I can’t stopping looking at her and wishing I could bury my face in her chest and lick it all off. I’m not sure what comes after that. Or what she would want me to do.
Next to the record albums are a row of very fat slick magazines in bright colors stapled through the spines. I pull one out. No way.
I have absolutely hit the jackpot.
Daddy’s Playboy collection.
This seems like a much bigger violation that simply checking out the fridge or the records. I’m in some kind of serious territory here. But the pull of the mystery within is unendurable. Like being sucked into the fatal gravity well of a black hole. Already stiffened and urgent in my groin from the girl in the whipped cream, these magazines have nailed my feet to the floor.
I flip it open to the centerfold. A small blond woman, voluptuous with a gorgeous round globed ass with pale Coppertone tan lines; she’s named Sue Williams and she will commit suicide in four years. She is laying fuckably on her belly which somehow seems more compelling than if she were laying on her back. I want to caress her, cuddle her, kiss her butt cheeks. Something. I know what to do with that stiffness down below. I don’t yet know what it means. But I know what it wants. It wants release. That experience with an actual girl is still seven years away, in the back seat of my Dad’s Mercury cougar on a sweaty summer night, on a side street in the dark in front of her house (”If my dad catches us doing this he’ll kill me!”),which will leave me filled with excitement and then an odd lingering emptiness.
They do have a bathroom down the hall.
How long would it take?
I’ve just got to.
It has never occurred to me to do this before in someone else's house. My body seems to move on its own, standing up, turning, walking carefully, the wings of the cabinet open, the magazine in my hand. Halfway down the hall I stop and think. How long would it take to cover my tracks? If there were a rattle of a key in the door? It’s the magazine that convicts me. Nothing wrong with borrowing someone’s bathroom, locking the door, getting your nut off, but -
- the stereo cabinet is open. The magazine is in my hand. How do you explain that to someone?
I am the Raskolnikov of whacking off. I have tracks everywhere. This is stupid.
I go running back to the living room, try to put the magazine back where it came from - will they know its out of place? Are they in order? What have I gotten into, will they call the cops? Tell my mom? Have to put it back but. . . I flip it open again and gaze at Sue. Her nipples turn me to stone like a gorgon. In another photo, that delta of body hair. No one has explained the birds and the bees to me yet but I'm beginning to get the gist of it.
The pretend-to-sleep girl is standing in the hall, rubbing her eyes. “I want water.”
“Okay.” She’s looking right at me with the magazine in my hand and Sue’s perky nipples bright as sunshine. I close the magazine and put it back. I take my time and close the cabinet wings, check down at my hard on and its completely vanished so I can stand up safely. “Water, okay.”
“I want kitchen water.”
"From the bottle in the fridgerator."
I want to scold her for being up so late, but I’m so totally busted I’m afraid to get bossy. I’m at her mercy. I just get her the water in a glass. “Good NIGHT, Tracy.”
“Night Mr. Chris.”
Off she goes. As I hear the bedroom door squeak there is a soft rap at the front door. I jump at the sound, go to the door and open it.
The dad is there. “You should check the spy hole before you answer,” he says. “Could be anybody?”
“Yes, sir.” I glance over my shoulder at the closed cabinet and furtive activities hidden within. Little Tracy may have saved me from myself. Unless she rats me out later.
Is this what my life will be from now on?