This is a short story that has been bouncing around in my brain for a while. It’s a story of pure love, the kind few of us ever experience. As with everything I’ve written there’s sex embedded into the story, but only when it’s an integral part of the plot. The story is always more important to me than meaningless gratuitous sex. I hope you enjoy. Senorlongo
“The best laid plans….” That was just about all I could think. My wife Beth and I had planned our retirement for years and had everything ready for my sixty-second birthday. But Beth had been experiencing what she called minor occasional abdominal pain for more than a year. She had pooh-poohed my requests that she see her doctor, claiming it was muscle spasms or maybe uterine fibroids. “They’re nothing. You’ll see.”
Well, of course, they weren’t “nothing.” “Nothing” turned out to be stage-four uterine cancer by the time she saw her gynecologist. Uterine cancer is easily treated if you get to it early enough. Beth’s cancer had spread through almost all of her organs by the time of her surgery. She lived for six more days—nowhere near enough to tell her how much I loved her and how much I would miss her--then I laid her to rest next to our son, Thomas, who had been killed while serving his country in Iraq. As I stood there looking into the deep grave I realized that I was truly alone…alone for the first time in more than thirty years. To tell this story correctly I have to go back, all the way to the beginning.
Albertus Magnus Cochran, III—who the hell tags a moniker like that on an innocent infant? My sadistic father and mother, that’s who; then they couldn’t understand why I was in so many fights in elementary school and junior high. Albertus, the first, had founded the firm and my father had succeeded him. They were both high-powered attorneys. I was supposed to meekly follow in their giant footsteps, but I fooled them—my father, anyway.
Grandfather—never Grandpa or Papa—passed just before my eighteenth birthday, leaving me a trust fund that gave me an allowance of $1,000 a month until my thirtieth birthday. I went to see an attorney the day he died to check on a legal procedure then cut school on my birthday so I could go to court to get my name changed. From then on I was Bert M—no period, just like Harry S Truman—Cochran. My parents were livid. They refused to speak with me and when I joined the U. S. Army instead of going to college I was disowned. I still had the trust fund--they couldn’t touch that--but everything else was gone. I didn’t care even a little. My childhood had been spent with nannies and at boarding school until I had intentionally flunked out. My mother was almost a total stranger. My father was even less.
I served six years in the United States Army, reaching the rank of Sergeant First Class, and it was the best time I’d ever known. I’d seen action in Kuwait and Iraq. Then I used the GI Bill to attend college—not my father’s alma mater—a state university where I studied education and earth science. I was hired for a position in a middle school and, once again, my father viewed me as a failure. “Can’t even teach in the big leagues; I guess you’re not smart enough for high school,” was the first thing he said at what was supposed to be a reconciliation meeting—my grandmother’s funeral. I turned on my heels and walked away, never to return. Fuck him! Fuck them all!
Truth was, I loved working with the younger kids and it showed. I never had a discipline problem and many of my students returned to the middle school to speak with me after moving up. It was at that school, during my third year, that I met Beth. She was a new teacher in the art department. We had lunch together during fifth period so we chatted along with the other teachers.
What turned out to be my chance came when the science department decided that every student should do an experiment and enter it in a school-wide science fair. I wasn’t terrified, but I was concerned. I knew absolutely nothing about art and even less about putting together an artistic presentation so I went to see her after school, my hat in my hand. “Elizabeth? Help!”
I knew I’d need help with her. She was drop-dead gorgeous—tall at 5’9” and slender with large succulent breasts, a narrow waist and hips, but a firm round butt. Her hair was black as pitch and long—almost half-way down her back—and her eyes were the brightest blue I’d ever seen. Did I mention that she was gorgeous? She wore slacks most days, I guessed because of the need to move around in class. Yes, she was a beautiful sexy woman while I was an ordinary man—six feet even and slender although I was still in excellent shape after my years in the Army. My light brown hair was short—maybe an inch at most with no part and no curl. It was a military cut that I kept because it was easy to care for. Hell…most times I cut it myself with a trimmer from Walmart.
I still remember the look she gave me. She put down the handful of clay she was carrying and turned to me with a warm welcoming smile. “What’s the problem?” I explained and she laughed. “I’m glad you’re having this project otherwise you’d never have gotten around to talking to me.”
“I talk to you.”
“Yeah, at work here or there when we’re in the company of a dozen other teachers. I’ll be glad to help you, but there’s a price.” She laughed again when I gulped. “You have to take me to dinner; nothing fancy—pizza will do--and you have to talk to me all evening.”
“Okay, almost all evening. How about Friday night? Do I have to pick you up, too? Do I have to treat?” She looked stern, but began laughing a second later. Soon I joined her.
“It’s just that you’re so beautiful and I’m just….”
“Isn’t that for me to decide? I understand that you served in the Army.”
“Yeah, six years—four in Kuwait and Iraq--I couldn’t see going to college when I graduated high school. Part of it was getting even with my asshole parents.” I explained, starting with my ridiculous name which made her giggle, how I had changed it, and my parents’ reaction. “They had me down to be a lawyer from the day I was born, just as I was supposed to attend Harvard. My father went there, so did Grandfather; me, I went to SUNY Stony Brook. I gave up trying to please them when I was in junior high at boarding school. Sometimes I got poor grades just to aggravate them. I also wanted to get out of the boarding school they had sent me to and into public school.” I looked at my watch and noticed that I had been talking to her for more than an hour.
I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to keep you so late.”
“Am I a captive here? I don’t think so. Truthfully, this is the best afternoon I’ve spent since I came to work. My family is from just south of Albany so I don’t know anyone here. I come to work. I go home, prepare lessons, eat, and go to bed. That’s some life for a twenty-three year old.”
“Maybe you’d like to go to dinner tonight. I’ll still take you out on Friday, but I feel a little guilty about ruining your afternoon.”
“Ruining? Would you come with me just a second? I need some help in my storeroom.” She walked to the rear of the classroom and I followed. To my surprise she closed the door then folded herself into my arms and kissed me. It was entirely unexpected, but I do remember responding. She stepped back a minute later, smiled, then moved back in for another, working her tongue into my mouth, pressing those fantastic breasts into my chest, and rubbing her crotch into my thigh.
She broke the kiss, looked into my eyes, and suggested that we might get to dinner later…much later. Holding my hand she led me out of the closet to the classroom door. She still held me while she locked the door. There was not a single person to be seen, but even if there was we weren’t doing anything wrong. We were both single and, while staff romances weren’t encouraged, they weren’t against the rules either.
“How far is it to your place,” she asked me.
“Not far…about five miles east.”
“Are we coming back this way for dinner?”
“Yeah, if you don’t mind there’s a great pizza joint down in the village and a great sandwich shop, too.”
“Sandwich? I know I’m a cheap date, but…a sandwich?”
“You need to trust me.” I led her to my truck and a minute later we were on the highway driving toward our destiny. I pulled into what had once been a farm lane and was still a narrow unpaved rutted driveway. Luckily, after three years I knew the location of every one. I twisted and turned up what should have been a straight trip, stopping at last in front of a small one-story house. The roof formed a four-foot overhang, making a narrow covered porch that ran for the entire front of the building.
“It’s a hole, but it’s cheap and it’s private.”
“Private, I like.” Beth took my hand as I led her into the living room. There wasn’t much, just the combination living/dining/kitchen area in the entire front of the house with a short hallway off to the left leading to the single bedroom on the right and bathroom on the left.
“How on earth did you ever find this place?”
“It belongs to the parents of a former student. I was chatting with the kids for a minute at the end of class one day my first year and a student asked where I lived. I was in a boarding house—Mrs. McIntyre’s—down in the village. I told the kids it was okay, but not very private. The next day I found a note in my mailbox asking me to phone his parents. They offered the place to me and I moved in the next weekend. I’ve been here ever since.”
“You are going to take me to bed, aren’t you? I’ve been waiting for this since the start of school, but we can talk about that later…after.” I felt like a deer in the headlights as she led me to my own bedroom.
I may have been a single man living on my own, but that didn’t mean that I was a slob. Habits learned under strict Army discipline lasted a long time. Beth turned once she had reached the double bed and moved to me. We kissed again, her soft plump lips pressing firmly into mine. Her kisses were the sweetest and hottest I’d ever had—her tongue the most active and inquisitive. I’d dated occasionally in high school. Losing my virginity to Ginny Porter early in my senior year did wonders for my self-esteem. My experiences once I was in the Army were very different. I’d met a few local girls during my training in Texas, scoring more than half the time. Once I was deployed my sexual outlets were restricted to leaves which I usually spent in Eastern Europe—Prague and Budapest were my favorites where beautiful girls flowed like water. I was always careful, using a condom and getting tested for STD’s regularly. The nature of my combat assignment meant that I was often away from large outposts for extended periods. None of my interactions with the Iraqi’s were what one might call “friendly.”
I never dated in college. For one thing I wanted to finish as quickly as possible, taking as many classes as I could possibly handle and attending between the regular semesters, as well as summers. Truthfully, I found the antics of my “classmates” childish. Then I graduated and found a job teaching eighth grade earth science in nearby Northport, a beautiful village on the North Shore of Suffolk County, Long Island. Even though I had only a single lesson to prepare every day, teaching is a lot of work—much more than most people think. I socialized occasionally, mostly with other teachers from my school. My sexual relief came entirely from my right hand.
Beth took the initiative, breaking the kiss to remove my sweater and shirt. I responded by unbuttoning her blouse and dropping her slacks to her feet. I marveled at her breasts. I couldn’t believe that the flimsy cloth of her bra could be strong enough to support them. They were bigger and firmer and heavier than I’d thought and they looked to be perfectly symmetrical. Her nipples were extremely sensitive as I rolled and pinched them while she moaned in ecstasy.
I carefully laid her back onto the bed, covering her with my body. We kissed and held each other as I savored to softness of her perfect skin against mine. Her hand found my cock hard and ready, oozing slippery pre-cum; mine found her sex wet and hot. “No foreplay, Bert—not today, not now. I’m so hot for you. Just take me and fuck me hard. Please! I need you so badly. I’m begging you!”
I moved quickly between her legs. She helped me by raising her knees and wrapping her legs over my back. Between my pre-cum and her nectar I thought we’d have plenty of lubrication. My cock found her entrance and I eased forward into her velvet vise. I was in maybe an inch or so when I found resistance. My head jerked up and I looked into her eyes. “You’re a virgin?”
“Yes…shameful isn’t it?”
“Maybe we should step back and think about this. I don’t want to ruin what should be a special occasion for you.”
“Believe me, Bert—you’ll make it special, not ruin it. Please…do me; I’ll explain everything later.” She batted those long eyelashes at me and I could see her desire and need in her eyes. She rubbed my balls then tightened her legs’ grip on me. Her hand moved me back into her tunnel and she drove her hips up, ripping her hymen in a second. She was breathing hard as she moved up to meet me. If I didn’t know better I would have thought her to be extremely experienced. She did everything right as her hot tight pussy flexed around my needy cock.
I know I’m not the longest cock ever seen—not by a long shot. I’d guess I carry about six and a half inches, but I am unusually thick—almost two inches in diameter. Several women in Europe had told me that’s what really counts. Beth told me that she wanted it hard so I pounded her virgin pussy like it belonged to my worst enemy. In my mind I was taking no prisoners, but Beth apparently loved it. If I’d read her correctly she came twice before my cock erupted, bathing her womb with my slick baby juice.
“Oh shit,” I thought. I hadn’t asked her if she was safe. This could make for a very embarrassing situation at school. Beth must have read my mind because she smiled then whispered, “Not to worry; I have an implant under my armpit. I have to tell you…it was well worth waiting for—better than I ever dreamed. You probably think I’m a slut for fucking you before we even have a date.”
“A slut? No, anyone who’s a virgin at 23 is no slut, but I am mystified. Why me? You know nothing about me.”
She laughed until her body shook then spoke softly. “Oh, but I do, Bert. I know almost everything about you. I’ve known for a long time--years, in fact. I’ve known that you were named Albertus Magnus, but changed your name when you were eighteen. I’ve known that you defied your parents by going into the Army. I’ve known that you were deployed in Iraq where you were a sniper in Special Forces...a very successful sniper, probably the best the Army’s ever had. I know you won a silver star, a bronze star, and a distinguished service cross for the second battle of Al Basrah and you were injured twice, earning the Purple Heart with an oak leaf cluster.”
I leaned back to take a closer look at this woman. My concern showed on my face. Had she been stalking me?
“You probably think I’m a stalker, but I’m not. I know all of that and more from my dad. He knows you personally and you know him.” I must have looked confused because she continued. “What’s my name, Bert?”
She was laughing and raising her eyebrows when she said, “Keep going.”
“Okay, Elizabeth Walters.” She raised one eyebrow as if to say, “Come on, dummy.” I thought for a few minutes before the light went on. “Oh my God; Major General Mark Walters is your father?”
“Yup…I’m a genuine Army brat. Usually, there’s a lot of sex between brats, but not when your dad is base commander. Most boys were deathly afraid of me. Do you recall that we actually met when I ran into my dad’s office? You were a corporal then. I was in absolute awe of you—a real war hero. All Daddy did was sit behind a desk.”
“I must have been 20…about nine years ago. Did you have braids and braces then?” Her huge grin told me she did.
She continued a moment later. “I thought I recognized you the first time I saw you at orientation back in August—your haircut is kind of a giveaway--and then Mr. Fazio introduced you as one of the most outstanding young teachers in the school district. That’s when I was sure…sure I wanted you to be my first…and more. I was so excited that I phoned Daddy as soon as I got home that afternoon. Incidentally, I live at that same boarding house. He had your jacket pulled and gave me all of the details. He liked you when you were under his command and he likes you now, based on what I’ve told him about you. Everybody at school loves you. They all think you’re an incredible teacher and an even better person. I get a lot of your students every day and they’re always so excited about your class. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been pumping them for information. ”
She raised her head and kissed me again and again then pushed me off, rolled me over, and climbed onto my body. Rubbing those fantastic tits into my chest did the job on me. I was hard again in a second and into her incredibly tight heaven an instant later. I had to chuckle as she began to rock. Hands on my shoulders, Beth was working her clit like a madwoman for almost ten minutes. “Not too shabby for an almost virgin,” I joked. “You must have watched a lot of porn.”
“I did…oh, God…oh God, but now that I have you…oh, fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!” She shook wildly as a series of convulsions ripped through her slender body. Beth collapsed onto my chest, her breathing deep and rapid as her orgasm slowly ebbed. I held her tightly, my hands roaming over her back and butt, my still hard tool embedded deep within her. I wasn’t going to cum…not so quickly after the first time, but that was okay. Just holding this marvelous woman—feeling her incredible soft skin-- was more than enough.
She must have lain on top of me semi-conscious for twenty minutes, at least. A goofy smile greeted me when she sat up. “I’ve read stories online and in ‘Cosmo’ about how great sex could be, but none of them compare with what you’ve given me this afternoon.”
“I think you had a lot to do with it. Just tell me that we’re going to do it again.”
“Is every day okay?” I smiled. It sure as hell was. I didn’t realize at the time, but Beth had made a promise she would keep for the rest of her life.
We walked into the bathroom naked, my cock dripping semen and pussy juice, my new lover with gobs of semen running down her legs. We looked at each other and laughed then we pulled each other into an embrace that ended only when I turned on the water. The shower here was one of the house’s best features. It was located over an old bathtub on legs; it was much bigger than tubs are today. There was a shower curtain that ran 360 degrees around the tub on an oval rod that hung from the ceiling. It was our first shower together—the first of many to come.
Once we had dressed I drove Beth past school down into the village. At this hour there was no difficulty finding a parking spot right in front of the Village Sandwich Shoppe. Holding her hand I walked up to the counter. “Hi, Sal—how’s the family?”
“Great, Bert; Robert is doing really well in biology and next year you’ll have Maria, our youngest. All I have to do is convince Fazio to put her into your class. Who’s your friend?”
“Sorry…this is my friend, Beth Walters. She’s a new art teacher.”
“She looks like a real good friend from here.” I refused to release her hand in spite of his jibes. “Rebel Rouser tonight?”
I pointed to the sign that hung against the back wall. Beth read the ingredients and nodded. “Two, Sal and can we have some fountain Cokes with ice?”
“Geez! You always come in here and ask for Coke. You know damn well that we have Pepsi. Why you always got to bust my balls?” I just laughed the way I always did and led Beth to a corner table.
“We go through that routine every time I come in here, but you made a great choice with the Rebel Rouser. It’s my favorite, by far.” We made small talk and Beth asked about the science experiments the kids would do.
I laid out my preliminary plan for the students and she agreed with most of it, but did suggest introducing the presentation early on in the process. She lost me when she got into font styles and sizes, but assured me that she’d deal with that in her classes to support me. We were well into our discussion when Sal brought our sodas and the sandwiches a few minutes later. “My God, how am I supposed to eat all of this?” I have to say—Sal always spoiled me. This ten-inch hero sandwich was supposed to have four slices of Virginia ham, four slices of turkey breast, four slices of provolone and four of bacon before being placed into the oven so the cheese would melt and fuse the sandwich together. Sal always gave me—and now Beth—double, and all because of what I’d been able to do with his son who had been an uninspired student until he took my class. Then he learned to love science and it carried over to his other classes, as well. He had gone from a “C” student to straight “A’s.”
That was the start of my relationship with Beth. We saw each other every single day, spending time working on our lessons or grading tests at my old enameled steel kitchen table. We cooked and ate in most days, making love every single evening. Beth always left my place by 9:30 so she could get home to the boarding house. We spent every second of the weekends together, making love two, even three, times a day. We were always totally proper and professional in school, never revealing our true relationship, and that’s the way things stayed until the second week in January although I did go with her to visit her parents and brothers over Christmas. It was either that or spend the holiday alone as I’d done every one of the past five years.
Her father welcomed me, giving me a big smile and a firm handshake in greeting. Mrs. Walters hugged me. We talked for hours and that’s when I learned that Beth had been an accident late in life, but one they had never regretted. It was almost time for dinner when Beth led me upstairs to her room. She laughed like hell when I asked where I was sleeping. “Right here next to me, silly unless you’d prefer to be under me. Hmmm, now there’s an idea I like.”
“You mean…your parents know about us…what we’ve been doing?”
“Of course—they’re not like your parents. Keep in mind that I am twenty-three and an adult who pays her own way. And, by the way, I expect you to do me every night and as many mornings as we can, too. I’ll have to be quieter than usual, but that’s okay as long just as we can make love.” Damn—the memories I have even after all these years are just incredible. For Christmas I gave Beth a pendant—small diamonds shaped into a heart on a sterling silver chain. She gave me a warm woolen cardigan. I still wear that well-worn sweater when I want to feel especially close to her. She’ll wear that pendant until the end of time.
I had read while in college that schools are “microcosms of society” which essentially means that whatever problems exist in the community will also be found in the schools. Problems of drug and alcohol abuse sometimes manifested themselves in school, but the biggest problem was clearly divorce. Divorce exerted a terrible devastating toll on kids. The toll on parents wasn’t much better.
The Peterson family had split up over the Christmas/New Year’s break and Mr. Peterson understandably hadn’t taken it well. His wife had served him with divorce papers and a restraining order on Christmas Eve in what I thought at the time was an unnecessarily cruel act. He came to school on Wednesday, January 17th, in the hope of seeing his son for the first time in almost a month. Mrs. Peterson, however, had brought a copy of the restraining order to the principal and the staff was under strict orders to enforce it. He went berserk when he was refused, running out to the hallway when threatened with the police if he did not vacate the school grounds immediately. Instead of leaving, he pulled a pistol from his coat and ran into the nearest classroom which just happened to be Beth’s.
I was walking down the hall on my way to the office when I heard the commotion. Dottie, the principal’s secretary, summarized what had happened in a series of long run-on sentences punctuated with long breathless pauses showing that she was obviously under a great deal of stress. All I knew was that the woman I loved was in grave danger.
The police were on their way; I could hear the sirens in the distance, but anything—absolutely anything--could happen before they had the situation under control. Everyone was trying to stay out of any line of fire, hiding either in locked offices or classrooms or behind furniture in the lobby—everyone, except me. I walked calmly into Beth’s classroom. Mr. Peterson was there shaking as his arm was around Beth’s neck, the pistol aimed carelessly at her head. The students cowered in their seats. More than half were crying.
Peterson spoke first, his voice cracking under the strain. “Who’re you? What…what are you doing here?”
I ignored his nervousness, speaking clearly and calmly in an attempt to defuse the situation. “I’m Bert Cochran. I teach science here in the middle school. You can use me as a hostage, but you’ve got to let these kids go. You have too many hostages here. Trust me! You don’t need twenty-five whiney kids here. They’ll drive you crazy in a few minutes.” I turned to the students. “Okay, kids get up and walk out quietly. Pretend you’re in a fire drill. There are teachers outside to help you.”
Students are conditioned to follow orders. All of these students were also mine which helped a lot. Half of them were out the door before Peterson even reacted. “What the hell are you doing?”
“You will have a lot easier time dealing with the two of us than with those brats. I’m not going to give you any problems. This is the woman I love more than anything. I want to spend the rest of my life with her so I’m going to cooperate fully with anything you say.” I sat on a table, apparently relaxed as I tried to carry on a conversation with our “captor.”
After about ten minutes I had convinced him to let Beth sit. There was no need to strangle her. I could see how Beth was reacting. She was hyperventilating and close to fainting; I had to get her out of here. Then it hit me. I slapped my leg. “Damn, I’m so stupid! Your son is Danny Peterson, right?” I continued once he had nodded. “He’s in eighth grade science with me and this is his lunch period. Beth, why don’t you walk over to the cafeteria and bring Danny back so he can see his dad?” I gave her a little nudge. She rose and walked slowly to the classroom door. A second later she was safe.
I turned my attention to Mr. Peterson.”Would you mind pointing that gun in another direction? I know you don’t want to hurt me, but I know guns…accidents can happen.”
“Oh, sorry,” he said as he swung the barrel away. I had been sitting on the table apparently relaxing, but I sprung into action in a flash. My left hand went to his wrist, my right to his elbow. I pushed violently with the left and pulled with the right. All of the strain went to the weakest part of his arm. His elbow broke with an audible snap. The pistol dropped from his useless hand and I caught it before it hit the floor.
Using my body for leverage I pushed him against the wall while I ejected the magazine and racked the slide to open the action. I wasn’t at all surprised when a chambered round fell to the floor. I wanted that, but first I needed to let the asshole know who was in control. “I’m going to bend down for that bullet. If you do anything stupid you’ll be in a world of hurt. I could kill you and nobody would blame me.” To emphasize my point I shoved his head into the wall. He stayed there while I retrieved the cartridge.
“OKAY, EVERYBODY,” I shouted. “We’re coming out. I have the pistol and all the bullets are in my pocket.” Grabbing Peterson by the collar of his coat I pushed him out in front of me. The first cop we met was about to wrench his arm behind his back, but I stopped him. “Hold it! His elbow is broken. He needs medical attention.” Two officers led him away then I handed the weapon and ammunition to one of the remaining cops.
I had just fished the bullets out of my pocket when Beth rushed up to me, her arms wrapping around my body. She was bawling, her breath coming in gasps, her body shaking as her emotions, barely held in check earlier, rushed to the surface. I pulled her head to my shoulder, holding her close and running my fingers through her long lustrous hair. “Oh Bert, I was so worried about you. I don’t know what I would do if you were hurt.”
“I’m okay. I just had to figure out a way to get you out of there…out of danger. That’s all I was worried about.”
Beth pulled back a bit, her eyes looking into mine. She stared for just a moment as though looking all the way into my soul before asking, “Did you really mean what you said in there? That you love me? That you want to spend the rest of your life with me?”
I looked around. The lobby was filled with people—police officers, our administrators, more than a dozen teachers, and Beth’s entire class. This wouldn’t have been my choice for the time or place to profess my love for her, but it would have to do. I hesitated for a second before replying. “Well, I have to confess—I did tell a few lies in there, but not about you. Yes, I do recall saying that and I meant every word, if you’ll have me.” I expected some kind of reaction, but it was even more than I had hoped for.
“YES! YES! YES! DEAR GOD…I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, BERT!”
I was still holding her when one of our shared students, Jeremy Lane, yelled out, “Go ahead, Mr. C…kiss her.”
“You know…that’s the best idea you’ve had all year, Jeremy.” I looked down at my bride-to-be and brought my lips to hers. We held the kiss for almost a minute as everyone applauded, even the cops. Then I was led out to an ambulance for a quick check-up.
They checked my blood pressure—109 over 60—and my pulse—58. My pupils were normal as was my breathing. The EMT looked amazed. “How can you be so calm after all that?”
“It’s just the way I am. I get excited emotionally just like everyone else, but my body remains calm.” That was all I said. Nothing more was needed. I could have told him that my slow pulse and low blood pressure led me to success as a sniper, but it wasn’t his business. I buttoned up my shirt, took Beth’s hand, and returned to work. Well, I tried, but as soon as we entered the building Beth and I were told that the school was closing early. Parents were being called and the buses were on their way. Our classes would be covered until they arrived. Mr. Fazio took us aside. “You both need to go home. Take as much time as you need. This was a harrowing experience and I know you’re both under a lot of stress. I’m sure the police will want a statement, but I’ll try to hold them off until tomorrow.” Then, with a smile, “I didn’t have a clue you two were seeing each other and I don’t think anyone else did either. Congratulations!” I thought he was going to continue, but his eyes misted up and he walked away. Beth grabbed her coat from her classroom and we walked out to my truck.
“What about my car?”
“Leave it. We can get it later if you want.” I drove away, Beth’s trembling hand in mine. We reached my house about ten minutes later. I walked around the truck to open her door then led her into the house. It was a cold day and I had left my coat in my classroom. Even with her coat Beth was visibly shaking. I had a fireplace, but used it only occasionally. Today would be the exception. I opened the flue, started the fire and brought some small logs in from the porch. A few minutes later the fire was roaring.
I had bought a glass cover with two doors and a blower grate, essentially a set of hollow steel pipes that held the fire and were connected to a blower fan. Once the fire was going I could start the fan and hot air would blow into the room. It was enough to make the entire room warm and toasty, even on the coldest day. I brought a thick quilt from the closet and laid it on the floor in front of the fireplace. Then I helped Beth out of her clothes. Once we were naked I lay next to her—holding, caressing, loving this incredible woman. I jumped up a minute later.
“I almost forgot.” Running into my bedroom and back I held out what I thought was a beautiful ring. It was a large black pearl surrounded by a circle of diamonds in a 14-K yellow gold setting. “This was my grandmother’s…my mother’s mother—the only member of my family I ever spoke with. She left it to me when she died. I want you to have it. I’ll buy you an engagement ring, too.”
Beth took the ring. “It’s beautiful, Bert. Aren’t you supposed to put it onto my finger?” She held out the third finger on her left hand and I slid it on. It fit perfectly as though it had been made for her. “I don’t want another ring, Bert except for a wedding band. This is a wonderful ring. I love it.” She leaned forward to kiss me. We held it for several minutes until Beth climbed onto me. We had been lovers for almost three months. We knew each other’s bodies well. Beth leaned forward, bringing her nipple to my mouth. I loved suckling and nibbling her nipples almost as much as Beth enjoyed my doing it.
In all our time together we had never engaged in oral sex. We’d talked about it plenty of times and knew it would happen one of these days when she wanted it. Truthfully, we were having too much fun making love together. Today must have been the day because she spun around, presented her sweet pussy to me as she leaned forward to kiss the swollen head of my throbbing cock.
Next thing I knew, Beth was licking the entire surface of my organ and driving me wild with lust. My cock lurched up and down with every touch of her lips and tongue. I groaned as I moved up to inhale Beth’s essence. I’d smelled and tasted her before, but only on my fingers. There was something about her aroma that drove me crazy—as though it was laden with pheromones that short circuited my brain. My tongue found her labia as I licked from her clit all the way up to her rosebud. Over and over I licked until Beth was trembling. Then I invaded her tunnel.
I’d learned early on that Beth was extremely sensitive and receptive to vaginal stimulation whether with my cock or my fingers, or—now—my tongue. She was the only woman I’d ever met who was capable of vaginal orgasms. I easily brought her to her first orgasm and I hadn’t even touched her clit yet. My tongue found that special rough area just inside the top of her tunnel. I knew I was getting to her when she began humping my mouth. Meanwhile, she was taking excellent care of me. I knew that she had never tasted semen so I also knew that I had to warn her when I got close and I was there now. “Beth! Beth, I’m going to….” And then I did. Beth somehow managed to suck it down her throat. She released me, kissing the reddish purple head before turning around to place her head on my shoulder.
We lay there in the warmth of the fire relaxing…recovering. Eventually, Beth spoke. “I can’t believe that you risked your life for me. You’re so brave. No wonder I love you so much. Daddy used to laugh at my crush, telling me that nothing would ever come of it. Who do you think is laughing now?”
“That reminds me; you need to phone your folks. You need to tell them that we’re engaged and also that you’re okay. That scene with Peterson is sure to hit the major news channels and I’m positive that we’ll be named. I’m surprised the press hasn’t already tried to beat a path to my door. The school district won’t release any information and I don’t have a regular phone so there’s no listing. Of course, they could get the address from the DMV or Board of Elections.” I reached for my slacks and passed the phone to my love.
I’ll never forget how she opened the call. “Hi, Mom—it’s your engaged daughter calling.” We both laughed when her mother failed to recognize what she had said. “Didn’t you hear me, Mom? I’m engaged. Bert and I are going to be married.” She waited for a few seconds while her mother responded. “It happened this morning and that’s another reason why I’m calling. Bert saved me and twenty-six of my students from a man who had taken us hostage.” Beth went on to tell her mom everything. Okay…not quite everything—she didn’t mention that we were naked in front of a fire in my living room--but almost. They spent more than half an hour talking and then her dad joined in.
Beth had just ended the call when I had an incoming. It was from the police. I made arrangements to meet with them early this afternoon for our statements. We were at the precinct for more than an hour and met with the media in the meeting room. I was more than willing to talk about the incident and even my career in the Army which was mostly public information anyway, but I clammed up in a hurry when they wanted details on our relationship. “We became engaged right after I captured Mr. Peterson. That’s all you really need to know.” Grabbing Beth’s hand we thanked them and left, walking to my truck.
I restarted the fire and we climbed naked back onto the quilt. We lay there quietly, caressing and loving each other. I was comfortable with the silence, but Beth spoke. “I liked what we did, Bert. I don’t understand why your penis is so soft and smooth on the outside and so hard inside. I love the head; it’s so spongy. Do you know why?”
“I guess there’s some reason, probably tied into evolution.”
“Was it okay for you?”
Beth was so sincere, but I couldn’t help myself. “Was it ‘okay?’ No.” She looked so hurt until I smiled. “No, Beth, it wasn’t okay, but it was fantastic…incredible…and absolutely wonderful—just like you.”
She had her “exasperated” expression on her face as she said, “Bert!” Then she smiled and leaned down to kiss me. She spoke again once she had broken it. “There was only one thing I didn’t like. How can you stand getting hair in your mouth?”
“I never really thought about it, to be honest.”
“I have been thinking. I want to do it again, but do you think we could shave? I’d do you and then you could do me.” She had that same goofy smile on her face when she was done.
I definitely wanted more blow jobs, but…. “You know that I sometimes go to the gym. What would I say if someone sees me in the shower or locker room?”
“Why not tell them the truth; that your girlfriend…I mean, fiancée…doesn’t like hair in her mouth?”
“You know…some of these guys will probably know you.”
“So?” Beth stood and pulled me up with her. Next thing I knew we were in the bathroom. Beth used a pair of scissors to trim my pubic hair really close then placed a hot towel over my pubic area. “Don’t worry, Bert. You know how much I love these things. I think I’m going to suck your balls into my mouth once they’re bare.”
“Damn,” I thought. “Now there’s an incentive!” Five minutes later I looked down to see something I hadn’t seen since I was eleven. Beth applied some of her scented body lotion then stood on the towel and I took care of her. Then she rewarded me by taking me back to bed.
We stayed there for more than an hour and, had I known what having my balls sucked on would feel like, I would have shaved them a long, long time ago. We dragged ourselves up from the bed and drove down to the Village Sandwich Shoppe for dinner. This time Sal refused to take my money. “The story is all over town, Bert. You’re a damned hero and I understand that Beth is a bit more than a good friend now. Congratulations!” He came around the counter to shake my hand and hug us. Before long all of the other patrons joined him. I was totally embarrassed. I was sure my face was beet red.
Beth stayed overnight at my house after picking up a change of clothes and we returned to work the following morning. I was embarrassed again at the reception I was given. The teachers applauded when we walked into the main office. The kids applauded in the hallway and in each of my classes. I didn’t care about that. I was worried about Danny Peterson. He was in my sixth period class right after lunch so I arranged for him to be called to the office at the beginning of lunch. I closed the door when I saw him in the office with Mr. Fazio, the principal. “Danny, are you okay? I’m really sorry that I had to hurt your dad.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Mr. C. Mom threw him out because he was always drunk and he hit her when he was. He even hit me when I tried to stop him. It was hard to have Christmas without him, but it had to be done. He punched me and my little sister, too.”
“Are the other kids giving you a hard time?”
“No, they’re okay.” I shook his hand and led him over to the cafeteria where I cut the line and bought him lunch. A week later we were back to normal.
Then, a week later on Friday morning Beth walked into school and I could see that she was upset. “It’s Mrs. McIntyre, Bert. She’s dead…heart attack Monday afternoon. Her children want to sell the house. They’re going to kick all of us out.”
“Well, I think you should move in with me. We can get married soon.”
Beth just shook her head and laughed. “Men! You have no idea. We’ll be lucky to get married in June.” Then she ticked off about thirty things that had to be done—things I would never have thought about.
Well, we did get married the last Saturday in June and spent a week in Bermuda on our honeymoon. I had always been thrifty—okay, maybe cheap would be a better description--so I had substantial investments that I used to buy us a real house. I enjoyed the little farm house, but it was no place to raise a family and Beth and I agreed that we didn’t want to wait. She had her implant removed two weeks before the wedding.
The wedding itself was grand. What else would one expect for the only daughter of a highly decorated general? There were more than three hundred guests—twenty-four from school, not even one from my family, four from my summer job, and the rest either Beth’s relatives or associates of her famous father. It was held in a huge cathedral upstate. We were both Catholic so we had to endure an entire Mass. I had stopped participating while in the Army. It’s hard to believe in a God when you spend every day killing and I was especially proficient in that regard.
We had just taken Al Basrah in southern Iraq and a counterattack from the Republican Guard was a possibility. In spite of that, almost all of the troops and all of the tanks and artillery had already left the city en route to another farther north. We had fewer than a hundred men remaining—nothing more than a skeleton crew, mostly supply personnel, and nowhere near enough to hold off a determined attack. My spotter and I had taken station on the roof of the highest building still standing. I had my Barrett .50 caliber M82, the finest sniper rifle ever made in my opinion and five thousand rounds of ammunition. The heavy .50 caliber bullet had a muzzle velocity of 2,799 feet per second, more than two and a half times the speed of sound. By the time you heard the report you were dead.
My spotter Dan picked up movement to the east as the sun rose—smart move, at least it would have been if my scope hadn’t been specifically equipped to deal with the glare and brightness of the sun. With most of our combat troops gone I knew it was up to me to hold off any attack until reinforcements could arrive. I began shooting at 1800 meters, just over 1.1 miles—actually at the limit of the effective range of the rifle. Mostly the first three were ranging shots—shots I used to help determine the effect of the wind which was negligible that morning. I mowed down more than a hundred over the next four hours. They tried to approach in trucks and their equivalent of a jeep, but a .50 caliber bullet will destroy a radiator and even dismount or crack an entire engine block of almost any vehicle.
When they moved a tank up to the line I was able to adjust the ammo belt so I could fire a few tracers—bullets made with a small pyrotechnic charge built into the projectile so I could see it all the way to the target. On a machine gun every fifth round is a tracer. That’s the only way to see exactly where you’re firing, although in my case I could tell by the piles of dead Iraqi’s in the sand. Aiming carefully and squeezing the trigger slowly as I exhaled I was able to fire the first tracer into the tiny slot the driver used to look forward. The .50 caliber bullet is so lethal that it will continue moving at deadly speed even after passing through a person’s body. Apparently, that was what happened here because the tank blew up only a second after the bullet had entered. I surmised that the hot round must have ricocheted into one of their cannon shells in the magazine. Once one goes the rest follow in an instant. The explosion was so violent that the tank’s turret flew more than fifty feet into the air surrounded by the flames from the explosion. Their attack evaporated less than a minute after the turret fell burning into the sand. Dan’s formal report the following morning confirmed 117 kills plus the tank and its crew. Our reinforcements also found three trucks loaded with ordinance and another filled with diesel fuel hidden behind the dunes in addition to the four vehicles I’d damaged. The enemy never came within 1500 yards of our position before they lost heart and retreated. I was credited with stopping their advance and given the Distinguished Service Cross a month later. A month after that my tour of duty was up. The Army wanted me to re-enlist, but I was burned out. I’d had enough of killing. Now I wanted to help build lives not destroy them.
I recall standing by the altar with Dan as my best man while General Walters walked slowly forward with Beth on his arm. It had been decided over my objection that the men in the wedding party would wear dress uniform, the mess dress uniform to be precise. General Walters had one, of course, as did his three sons—all officers--but mine, and Dan’s, had to be custom made with the insignia of our former ranks. I even supplied all of my service ribbons and a list of the commendations I had received. I was pleased to see that I had several that weren’t on any of their jackets—the DSC and the Expert-Rifle and Pistol commendations, the highest ranking of what was more commonly known as a sharpshooter’s medal.
Beth was ravishing beautiful, so beautiful that one look and I was ready to ravish her. Her gown was strapless and form-fitting with tiny pearls sewn into the bodice. Her cleavage was even more enticing than usual. Her long black hair was pulled back into a French braid. I still remember exactly what I whispered to her when I took her hand from the general—“You’re incredible…beautiful. You look good enough to eat.”
Beth giggled then whispered back, “THAT will have to wait. We should move. Everyone’s looking at us.”
“Let them wait--besides I’m pretty sure they’re looking at you. You’re absolutely breathtaking.” She kissed my cheek, squeezed my hand and we turned toward the priest. An hour later we were in the limo on the way to our fabulous reception. At various times I was introduced to the Secretary of the Army as well as several other dignitaries—a couple of congressmen and a senator--I forgot almost immediately. They all claimed to know me—my service record, anyway. Premium booze flowed like water and the food was great, too. Best of all was Beth. Other than the dance with her father and mine with her mother, she never left my side. I knew I was the luckiest man on the planet.
We flew that evening from Albany to JFK in New York where we spent our honeymoon night in an airport hotel before catching a plane to Bermuda. We made the most beautiful love off and on for hours until Beth and I were exhausted. It was the first time that Beth offered me her ass. Of course, I was terrified that I’d hurt her, but she promised to tell me if she did. She laughed as she told me, “I’ve been practicing with cucumbers. It’s hard to find one that’s just the right size and shape.” All that practice paid off. The experience was intense—our orgasms were to die for. We fell immediately into a deep sleep until our wake-up call at 6:00 the following morning.
We spent a week frolicking in the warm clear ocean and making sweet love every morning, every evening, and most afternoon’s, too. We had a honeymoon package that entitled us to attend the nightly complimentary cocktail party where we quickly learned to love rum punch. There was nightly local entertainment and we even tried our hands at the hotel’s executive golf course. We sucked, but we had a blast, all the same.
Once Beth lost her virginity she seemed to make up for lost time. Now that we were married there was absolutely nothing that was off the table—any form of sex and any position. But, first, we attended to the important business at hand—impregnating my wonderful wife. Her doctor had told us that she might not become fertile again for several months…or it could be a matter of weeks. There was no way of telling. Beth was taking no chances. We had made love every day since our first encounter with one exception—the night before our wedding when she stayed with her parents while I was in a nearby motel.
Something must have worked because Beth was pregnant by the time we returned to school in September. I was thrilled, but her parents were ecstatic. None of Beth’s three older brothers were married so this would be their first grandchild. Unfortunately, Beth miscarried just after Christmas. I was glad that I was home with her when she awoke with pain in her abdomen and blood oozing from her vagina. I rushed her to the hospital where her doctor confirmed the bad news. We were devastated, but we agreed to try again.
We did and four months later Beth was pregnant again. This time her doctor suggested she spend the final four months of her term in bed. We agreed and Beth took emergency medical leave. We weren’t worried about money. I had turned thirty on September 1st and had gone to my father’s office right after school to sign the necessary paperwork to receive my inheritance—Grandfather’s trust fund. Of course, I expected trouble from him so I brought my own attorney, the one man who had bested my father in court many times—his arch enemy, Seymour Richmond. Beth and I had walked in holding hands and, not surprisingly, my father opened with a string of insults. “So, is this some bimbo you picked up on the beach? Or maybe you found her walking some street late last night?”
I remained calm, but my eyes were steel and my tone was icy as I replied. “You wouldn’t know because you obviously weren’t invited—not that you ever would be--but this is my wife, Beth. She’s an art teacher in my school. I’m sure you’ve heard of her father—Major General Mark Walters. By the way, do you have any idea what I did in the Army? I was a sniper, and a damned good one. I could put a bullet into your eye at a thousand yards, easy. I’ll do it, too if I ever hear you insult my wife again.” Then I saw my father do a double take. I smiled for the first time since entering his office. Sy Richmond was here. “I think you already know my attorney. Hello, Sy—how are you?”
“Looking forward to pummeling your father once again; I tell you, Bert--some mornings I really enjoy getting up on the wrong side of the bed.” I had anticipated my father creating some roadblocks in the way of my inheritance and I wasn’t disappointed. I had brought Sy along as my insurance policy. He would have done it for nothing, but I paid him anyway. They had sparred for more than an hour when Sy placed a call on his cell. Five minutes later an attractive young lady entered the conference room, walked up to my father, and announced, “You are served.”
“What the fuck is this?”
“Bert is suing you for fifty million dollars for denying him his inheritance…his legal right. Come on, Bert—no sense in wasting any more time here. We have a date with Judge Peters Tuesday morning. I’ll be interested in hearing what you have to say to Peters, Albertus. Why don’t I take you two lovebirds to dinner?” Beth laughed and I joined her. We laughed even harder when my father slammed the conference room door in frustration.
I spoke to Mr. Fazio Monday morning to tell him why I would be late on Tuesday. The hearing was scheduled for 8:30 so I was hoping to be back at school by lunch time. Beth and I talked and we agreed that I’d go alone. There was no real reason why Beth should miss time from her students.
It was a pleasure watching my father squirm in front of Judge Peters. Sy had an official copy of my grandfather’s will and the language couldn’t have been clearer. Additionally, there were the records of my monthly thousand dollar stipend and my official birth certificate. I knew that Peters hated my father and with good reason. He’d caught dear old dad in a lie—presenting false evidence—that had led to a six month suspension of his license and a conviction for contempt of court. The hearing lasted less than thirty minutes.
I received the full amount—what had been twenty million twelve years ago and was now just over forty. I didn’t get any money from my lawsuit, but the judge did make my father pay my attorney’s bills. I thought that was just perfect.
Having a lot of money was reassuring, but we still wanted to continue teaching. People complain about having to work, but I had always found that work gave my life meaning. I had defended our nation while in the Army and now I helped shape young minds, besides I’d be bored out of my mind if I didn’t have a reason to get out of bed early. Beth agreed with me right up until the doctor sent her to bed. Worse than the boredom, Beth was furious that we were not able to make love.
I hired a nurse to come in every morning at 7:30 until 4:00 when I was sure to be home. I cooked dinner every night except those when I brought in—either Chinese or Italian or Greek. We always ate in bed, using special tables with bases that slid under the bed. “I hate this, Bert, but I love you.” That’s what she said almost every night.
My reply was almost always the same, too—“It’s a small price to pay for your safety and for the safety of our child.” Then I’d kiss her and hold her in my arms. I’d carry the dishes to the kitchen, put them into the dishwasher and put out the trash. Then Beth and I would shower and return to bed to watch TV or play cards or a board game. Ever play strip Cribbage? We did at least once a week.
Beth was due sometime during our Spring Break in April. I knew she was looking forward to having the baby, if only so she’d be able to resume her normal activities. She went into labor in the wee hours, her first contraction coming at 2:16 a.m. Her loud groan scared me until I realized what was happening. I recorded the time in my note pad and did everything I could to comfort my love. I told a few jokes and even sang a few songs. Beth couldn’t help but laugh. I couldn’t sing for shit and we both knew it.
We had discussed everything with Beth’s doctor so an hour later I phoned his service and also a private ambulance. We were at the hospital by 5:00 that morning. Our son Thomas Mark--named for Beth’s grandfather and father, was born at 11:17 that morning, but not until Beth had struggled mightily. There was a problem with the delivery and the doctor decided at the last minute to take the baby by C-section. Because of the problems she’d experienced Beth decided to have her tubes tied. She cried when she made that decision, but all I cared about was her welfare. We had one child and we had each other. That was more than enough for me.
However, Beth had other ideas. Tom had just turned two when I returned home after school to find my wife holding him and beaming, that same goofy smile showing her perfect teeth. “I had a great idea today.”
“Let me guess—you want to adopt a child.” I leaned down to kiss my shell shocked wife on her lips.
She responded as always then looked up to me and asked, “How?”
“It wasn’t so hard. I know you and I can see what a wonderful mother you are. So…tell me exactly what you’re thinking.” And she did; all told we talked for more than an hour—so long that we wound up at the sandwich shop for a couple of Rebel Rousers. Beth got to work on the adoption the very next day.
Unlike most couples, we didn’t want an infant and we didn’t care about race or sex. In fact, we preferred to take a child that others didn’t want. No child should feel unwanted. We flew through the preliminary interviews—together at first at the social services office then separately at home. I took Tom out to the park during Beth’s interview. Finally, the three of us met with the social worker, again in our home. I sat on the floor with Tom, minding him while participating as best I could. I just hoped it would be good enough.
Apparently it was because we were asked to meet at social services again late on a Tuesday afternoon. They had a child—a girl who was two years old and the product of an interracial relationship. Her white father regularly beat his black wife and even struck the daughter until Child Protective Services removed her from the home. ‘She’s deathly afraid of men,” the social worker told us. “Would you like to meet her?” Of course, the answer was yes.
She was the most beautiful child I’d ever seen. Her skin was the color of mocha and her face was a perfect oval, surrounded by frizzy black hair. She cowered behind the worker until I sat on the floor. “Do you like Babar,” I asked, pulling a book from my bag. Tom climbed into my lap, but Aaliyah was hesitant. “Why don’t you find a place where you’ll be comfortable,” I suggested. “Then I can read the story and I’ll show you the pictures. She found a spot about ten feet away. I read the story, pointed out the pictures to Tom and turned the book to Aaliyah so she could see them. Soon she was six feet away then four and before I finished the book she was in my lap with Tom. We repeated the same kind of visit later in the week and on Saturday Beth and I took Aaliyah, Tom, and the social worker out for ice cream. She let me hug and kiss her when the visit was over. When the worker asked if we would take her we answered immediately—YES! We bought some bedroom furniture that afternoon and had it delivered Monday afternoon. I took a personal day on Wednesday so I could become a father for the second time. Beth and I were thrilled, but apparently not as much as Tom. Holding her hand he led Aaliyah to her room.
I won’t tell you that there weren’t any challenges, because there were. For one thing, Aaliyah had never slept in a regular bed and, like every other kid, she was afraid of falling. We solved that problem with a few chairs from our dining room. Aaliyah was also subject to nightmares. Either Beth or I always responded immediately, soothing her by rocking her in a chair that had been handed down from Beth’s grandparents. It always put her right to sleep.
We put Tom and Aaliyah into nursery school when they reached three. It was only a half-day program, but it did wonders for their social growth. At four they knew the alphabet and numbers, even some simple adding and subtracting, and recognized a surprising number of words. Both were tested prior to kindergarten and we were astonished by Aaliyah’s intellect. Tom had scored well, but Aaliyah was off the chart.
Once they were in school Beth asked if we could adopt another. We agreed on an older child—one who had little chance of being adopted due to age. We welcomed Jacob, a black boy, into our family. His schooling had been sketchy, but he picked up everything quickly and was soon well into competition with his siblings. I must say we attracted a lot of attention at the movies or in a restaurant—white parents, a black son, a half-black daughter, and a white son. Personally, we couldn’t have been prouder.
Tom seemed to have inherited the best each of us had to offer. He had my analytical mind, but Beth’s good looks and coloring. He also had her artistic ability, but from the age of four he only wanted one thing—to attend and graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Tom was an excellent student, graduating near the top of his class and was an outstanding member of the football and track teams. It was a proud moment when he was nominated for the Academy and a prouder one when he graduated, again near the top of his class. He stayed at the Academy for graduate work then reported for active duty.
Aaliyah entered a six-year medical program, combining her undergrad and medical school studies. It was an extremely arduous program, but our daughter was an outstanding student, valedictorian of her high school class with Tom only a few places behind her.
Jacob had graduated six years earlier and had been accepted at Stony Brook State University, the same university I had attended. Jacob’s goal was to become a teacher, following in the footsteps of the people he recognized as his loving parents. He wasn’t the student his siblings were, but we were just as proud of him as we were of Tom and Aaliyah.
We were back in the Middle East—Afghanistan and Iraq this time—when Tom was deployed. Beth was beside herself with anxiety and fear. Nothing I tried would calm her and in the end her fears proved to be prophetic. Tom was one of many in a long convoy in Iraq. He was in the next to last truck when it struck an IED. Why his truck and not one of the seventeen that preceded it? There was no answer. Tom could have been buried in Arlington or even the National Cemetery in Pinelawn, Long Island, but Beth wanted him nearer to us. He was interred in a plot I had bought for Beth and me. Beth and I were distraught, but Aaliyah was devastated. She and Tom had been extremely close and under other circumstances we thought they might have become a couple. However, they were more like twins. That’s how close they really were.
It was a hard time for both of us, but we still made time for each other every single day. We made love even on our darkest days. Beth had told me that it gave her comfort she was unable to find any other way. We began our relationship making love every day and we continued the same way right up until Beth became ill. Now I was alone, but I decided to follow through on our plans to travel the United States aimlessly by day and tell her all about it every night. That’s how I found myself two months later in Wolf Point, Montana.
I parked in the lot at the Sherman Inn where I’d made a reservation last night. Once in my room I removed my favorite sweater from my suitcase and draped it over my shoulders. Then I sat in an upholstered chair and told Beth all about my day just as I had done every day since leaving home. This was my favorite time—the time I felt closest to Beth, but also the time I felt most alone. I usually finished my ritual in tears and today was no exception.
It was almost seven that night when I walked out to check on the car before dinner. I never saw the old man. “Can you spare a buck, Mister. I haven’t eaten in almost two days.” I turned around quickly to find a wizened old man with skin like wrinkled leather standing before me. He was short, probably not more than 5 feet 4 inches and thin, although that was hard to tell because of the filthy raincoat and baggy jeans he wore. His hair was white as snow, but unkempt and his face looked as though he hadn’t shaved in a week.
“If I give you money you’ll probably buy some cheap wine and get drunk, so no money…but I will buy you dinner. It will be a pleasant change to have company. Come with me.” I led him back into the Inn and we walked into the restaurant together. “Table for two, please,” I told the hostess. She looked at me as though I was crazy so I grabbed two menus and led my companion to a booth.
A few minutes later the manager of the hotel rushed to join us. “Mr. Cochran, you are welcome to dine here, but this man smells and he’s filthy. He has to go. I’ll telephone the police, if necessary.” I rose and bade my companion to join me. Five minutes later I had booked him a room. While he showered I went out to buy him a new shirt and pair of jeans, socks, underwear, and sneakers. We returned to the restaurant less than an hour later. The manager was furious, but there was nothing he could do. We returned to the same booth we had been forced from just an hour ago.
The first thing I did was introduce myself. “I’m Bert.”
“Um…you can call me Simon.” We shook hands and ordered drinks. I had iced tea; he ordered a draft beer. “Don’t you drink, Bert?”
“I did when I was in the Army, probably too much, but when I became a teacher I saw how many families had been destroyed by alcohol. Other than our honeymoon neither my wife nor I drank.”
“Where is she now?”
“In Heaven; she passed a bit more than a month ago. I can’t tell you how much I miss her. It was our dream to meander around the country together until we had gone everywhere and done everything. Now I’m doing it alone, but I tell her everything I’ve done and seen as soon as I’ve checked into my hotel. I have an old cardigan she gave me on our first Christmas together more than thirty years ago. I put it on and talk with her.
Are you a local here?”
“Here? No, I come from a far off place and I travel around quite a lot—not quite like you, but I do meet a lot of interesting people…like you. There aren’t many people who would have gone as far as you did to help a total stranger.”
“It wasn’t that big a deal. I don’t like to see people bullied by those who think they have a little authority. Everyone has a right to eat. I doubt that he’s ever missed a meal.”
“How about you? You ever miss a meal?”
“Plenty of times when I was in the Army; it never killed me.”
“What did you do in the Army?”
“I killed people and I was good at it…too good. I was a sniper back when Iraq invaded Kuwait. I did my duty, but I hated it.”
“I meant to say that I can understand how you felt. There are plenty of times I’ve had to do things I hated to do.”
The waitress returned with our drinks and we turned our attention to the menu. I ordered a big ribeye steak, medium rare, with a baked potato and a salad with bleu cheese dressing. I wasn’t all that hungry, but I wanted to set a tone for my guest. I was pleased when he ordered the same.
We had an amiable meal then I walked with him back to our rooms. We were at the back of the inn where the only noise came from the crickets. I was about to say good night when Simon stopped me. “You’re a good guy, Bert—probably the best I’ve met in a very long time. I want to give you something…something that’s incredibly valuable.”
“No, Simon…you don’t have to give me anything. Dinner was my pleasure.”
“No, you don’t understand. This is something you can use, maybe even something you need.” He pulled a small flask from his pocket. “It’s water, Bert, but special water. This is water from the Fountain of Youth.” I started to laugh, but he continued. “How old do you think I am?”
“I don’t know. Seventy-five? Eighty?”
“I know that’s how I look, but you’ve missed by several hundred years. And no…I’m neither crazy nor delusional. I dreamed about living forever and I got my wish, but now I’m done. Everyone I knew and loved died centuries ago. I wander the earth like Marley’s ghost in ‘A Christmas Carol.’ I’ve had more than enough. Now I want to die. That’s the only way I’ll get peace.”
“If it’s so bad, why give it to me?”
“Because you don’t want to live forever and you deserve to have a second chance at happiness. Please…take the flask and drink one and only one capful tonight before going to sleep. One capful a year is all you need. How old are you, Bert?”
“You’ll be in your early thirties when you wake up in the morning.” I had my doubts, but I took the flask. It was full and it looked like there was enough to last fifteen or twenty years. I shook Simon’s hand and returned to my room where I showered again, used the toilet and brushed my teeth. Finally, I took a capful of the water and climbed into bed, my sweater covering my chest as I pulled the blanket over my body, falling asleep in seconds.
I usually slept soundly, but this night I was plagued by weird dreams—so weird that I was relieved when I awoke the following morning. Stretching as I sat up I moved to the toilet, but stopped once I was in front of the mirror. Turning on the light I took a close look at my face and body. My grey hair was light brown again and my wrinkled face was smooth. My body was toned again as it was when I first met Beth. I could see my chest and abdominal muscles as well as those in my legs. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I used the toilet, washed and shaved, finishing by brushing my teeth then I dressed and rushed out the door where I turned left walking to the room I had rented for my acquaintance. I was surprised to see the drapes open and the bed made as though the room had not been used at all. I moved up to the glass to peer inside. There was no sign that anyone had been in the room. Even the towels were exactly as mine had been when I first entered my room yesterday afternoon. I turned around and walked briskly to the lobby where I asked the clerk who had been in room 115 last night. She checked the computer then told me, “Nobody…the room wasn’t rented last night.”
“But…I rented it for someone I met in the parking lot. I have the receipt here in my wallet.” Pulling it from my pocket I checked where I always keep the day’s receipts. I found mine easily enough, as well as the charge stub from dinner, but not Simon’s room receipt. Turning around I walked into the restaurant. My face must have shown my surprise when I saw the same manager on duty.
“Excuse me, sir; do you remember me from last night? I ate here with some hobo…you kicked him out until I was able to clean him up? Remember?”
“I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken. I’m the day manager. I had yesterday off and only reported this morning at seven. Are you feeling okay? I could call a local doctor if you wish.”
“Would you like breakfast?”
“No…I don’t seem to be very hungry. Thank you.” I turned around and walked back to my room. This whole situation was getting weirder and weirder. I was beginning to question my own sanity. Then I saw her. I ran across the parking lot, yelling, “Beth…Beth.” The woman turned so I could see her profile and I knew it was her. She had the same long lustrous black hair, the same shining blue eyes, and the same fantastic body. I had just reached her when she turned around to face me.
“Excuse me, but what did you call me?”
“Beth…either you’re my wife or you’re her exact twin.”
“I’m sorry, but I must be the latter. I’m Jessica Landry. I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t think we’ve ever met. I work here summers to help with my tuition at Boise State. Is there something else I can help you with?”
“No…I’m sorry to have bothered you. I’m just so confused. You look just like my wife, but she’s dead. She died exactly ten weeks ago today.”
“Oh…I’m so sorry.” I thanked her and walked back to my room. What the hell was going on? Had I lost my mind since yesterday? Once in the room I packed my suitcase, checked out and drove aimlessly down the highway. An hour later I felt suddenly tired so I pulled off the road for a short nap.
I must have been dreaming because I did see Beth as clear as day. “Welcome, my darling Bert. I’ve missed you so much. I can’t wait to hold you and kiss you and make love to you again.” Then she did; she held and kissed me and we made the most incredible love for hours as we came together five times. Beth lay exhausted on my chest as we fell asleep together again. I never thought this would ever happen again.
It was after three in the afternoon when Jessica wheeled her cart to room 113. That fucking Maria hadn’t come to work again and Jessica had been forced to cover her rooms. Working as a maid was boring, but it paid reasonably well and was steady. All the same, this was the third time in a week that she’d had to take overtime because of Maria, time she needed to work on her online courses from Boise State.
Check-out was at 11:00 so she was surprised to see the “Do Not Disturb” card still hanging on the doorknob. She opened the door and stepped inside, using the rubber wedge to hold the door open while she worked. The room was dark until she pulled the drapes back and opened the blinds to let the bright afternoon sun into the room. Jessica was taken completely by surprise when she saw the man lying silently in the bed. “Sir? Sir?” She touched his arm and shook it, but got no response so she touched his cheek. His skin was cold to the touch and she somehow knew immediately that he was dead. Jessica turned and ran out, praying that the day manager hadn’t yet gone home. She never noticed the small thin man in the filthy raincoat step into the room as she left.
“You’re a wonderful man, Bert. I’m sure your wife will tell you all about the Fountain of Youth. I wished for eternal life. You wished to be with your wife. I wished poorly. I want to die, but I can’t. You wished well. I wish you all the best, my friend.” He bent over the corpse to kiss Bert on the forehead then he retrieved the flask and stepped out of the room just seconds before the frantic Jessica and the manager ran hurriedly to the room. Five minutes later a deputy sheriff pulled into the lot. Ten minutes after that the county coroner examined the body.
“Any signs of foul play, Doc?”
“Nothing that I can see, Josh. From the body temperature I’d guess that he died between eleven last night and one in the morning. Anybody remember seeing him last night.”
“Yeah, records in the restaurant show that he ate there alone around seven. There’s a credit card receipt at 7:58. He must have come straight back to the room and gone to bed. Any idea why he had that old sweater over his body?”
“Not a clue, but I’ll test everything in the next day or so. Where’s he from?”
“His wallet says his name is Bert M Cochran from Smithtown, New York. Any idea where that is?”
“Long Island, I think; I remember going to a seminar somewhere near there a few years ago. Okay, let’s get the body out of here. Tell the Sheriff to stop by late tomorrow afternoon. I should have some answers by then.” The coroner’s crew wheeled the gurney out the door and into the waiting vehicle.
I woke from my nap to find Beth smiling down at me. “I’m really confused, Beth. I have been ever since I woke up this morning. I went to dinner last night with some tramp, but this morning there was no record. I rented a room for him, too, but no record of that either. Then I was sure that I saw you in the parking lot, but it was one of the motel’s maids. I don’t even know if you’re real. Are you?”
“Take a close look at me, Bert then answer your own question.”
I looked at her from top to bottom. I felt her soft smooth skin, ran my fingers through her hair as I’d done for years and years. Then it hit me. Looking between her magnificent breasts I saw it—the pendant I’d given her on our first Christmas together. I’d placed it onto her neck before her casket was closed forever. I knew then that she’d wear it until the end of time. “You’re real; you’re wearing the pendant. But you’re dead so that must mean….”
“Yes, Bert…you died last night almost as soon as you fell asleep. All of the other things were just a dream—a really weird dream, but just a dream. Now I have to explain a few things to you. The Fountain of Youth?”
“There’s no such thing.”
“Actually, Bert, there is. Think of it as a test from God. It’s not really a fountain of youth, but that’s what most of us call it because the stupid selfish people who make most of the wishes ask to go back to their youth. The man you met last night—the one you know as Simon—was one of the first. He insulted God by wishing for eternal life. God kept his promise, but Simon never asked for health or happiness or even wealth. He’s been alive for almost a thousand years, but he’s suffered every day of that time. Do you remember what you wished for, Bert?”
“I don’t think I really wished for anything. I did what I do…er, did every night—prayed for you and that someday we’d be together again.”
“Yes, Bert—you wished wisely…unselfishly. Now, thanks to you, we will be together forever. Come--let me show you our home. You’ll like it. It’s right on the ocean and you can go fishing whenever you want. You’ll catch plenty, but they all have to be released.” She saw the confusion on my face and laughed. “Do you remember the manager asking if you wanted breakfast?”
“Yeah, I wasn’t hungry.”
“We’re never hungry in Heaven. That’ll come in handy when we’re making love. I never tired of that when we were alive and I’m not going to tire of it now.” She came into my arms again and we kissed. I lost myself in Beth’s kiss just as I’d done thousands of times before.
I had a million questions, but Beth knew what they were before I could even ask. “No, not everyone lives like this. Remember how we talked about finding a small cottage on a deserted beach, maybe in Mexico or some other Central American country? This is our idea of paradise. It varies from person to person. Tomorrow we’ll see Tom and my parents. Your mother and grandmother are here, but your father and grandfather are not. Oh Bert, the terrible things they did!” I was hardly surprised; I had always considered them the scum of the earth. I might have become upset, but Beth kissed me again and all of my concerns vanished.
“Afternoon, Sheriff; I’m thinking you’re here about Cochran.”
“Yeah, Doc—I am. I’ve been in touch with people who knew him. Besides two adopted children, one an oncologist and the other a teacher, he has three brothers-in-law in the Army—two generals and a full colonel. They told me a lot about him and his life: served six years in the Army, four in Kuwait and Iraq as a Special Forces sniper; then college and a long illustrious career as a teacher. Neither he nor his wife drank or smoked. No indication of any drug use, either. But, here’s the funny thing; I spoke to the brothers-in-law independently and they all said the same thing; that he probably died of a broken heart. Seems his wife died about ten weeks ago.”
“Well, that makes as much sense as anything I’ve found. If he wasn’t here in one of my boxes I’d swear he was as healthy as a horse. I can’t find a single thing wrong with him.”
“Maybe he just lost his will to live, Doc.” The coroner looked up and nodded. He signed the forms to release the body and waved as the sheriff returned to his duties.
In accordance with Bert’s final wishes there was a single day of viewing—from one to four in the afternoon and from seven to ten in the evening. There had been hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors to the funeral home. General Paul Walters and his wife Sara presided. He was the oldest of the three sons and had been asked to act as executor of Bert’s estate. Beth’s other brothers and their wives and children were also in attendance as were Aaliyah and Jacob and his family. They shook hands, seemingly non-stop, and received the kind comments about Bert and Beth. Hard men, tempered by years of combat, they were surprised at the number of visitors who wept unashamedly when they knelt in prayer at Bert’s casket.
Bert had lost his faith in God during his years as a sniper—a job he hated, but did to the best of his ability, just as he did everything else. It was Beth who had brought him back. Her faith in God and in Bert had helped him to regain his faith. Now he stood invisibly in the rear of the church, Beth’s hand in his as the SRO crowd paid close attention to Gen. Walters as he began his eulogy.
“I’m Paul Walters, Bert’s brother-in-law and Beth’s brother. I want you all to know how much our family appreciates your coming here this morning. May I ask by show of hands how many of you knew Bert from school? Just about everyone, I see. Did you also know Beth, as well? I’m not surprised. Bert and Beth were joined at the hip. They were inseparable as most of you already know.
“You probably know more about Bert at school than I do so I’d like to tell you some things about Bert you don’t know. I first met him when Beth brought him to spend Christmas with our parents and the family. Our folks had a big place in the Catskills southwest of Albany. Our father was also in the Army—Major General Mark Walters—and we used to enjoy shooting out behind the house. We had targets set up about 200 yards out in the woods and I thought I’d take Bert down a peg or two even though he hadn’t bragged or said anything remotely boastful during the day.
“I challenged him to a match while Dad and Mom and Beth watched from the deck. Bert asked for a trial shot so he could see how ‘the gun worked.’ Those were his exact words. When his first shot barely grazed the right-hand edge of the target I figured I had it made. Then we shot for real. My ten shots all landed in the bull’s eye, but Bert’s formed a perfect circle that I could have covered with a quarter. That was when I noticed the wild laughter from Dad and Beth. They knew that Bert had been a sniper for four years in Kuwait and Iraq. Bert had incredible vision—20/10. Things that appeared twenty feet away to most of us were only ten for him. His depth perception was amazing. If I flipped a coin into the air Bert could tell exactly how high it went and, even better, he could tell you how many flips the coin had made.
“Go to Google and look up the ‘Second Battle of Al Basrah.” The reports are all unclassified now so they’re available to the general public. Bottom line—the commanding officer screwed up and took all of the allied assets north, leaving Bert, his spotter, and about a hundred supply staff behind. The Republican Guard saw the tanks and troops move out and at sunrise it was essentially Bert against more than 500 Iraqi soldiers. Over the next four hours he killed more than a hundred of the enemy, destroyed several trucks, and a tank, putting a bullet into the small slot the driver uses to steer from more than a mile away. As good as Bert was he hated the killing. I really believe that was the biggest reason he became a teacher.
“Now, here’s something you’d never guess. Bert was a multi-millionaire. He had a huge trust fund from his grandfather. It’s now worth almost a hundred million dollars, but he never spent even a penny except to pay for his children’s education and for an occasional vacation for them. Other than trusts established for his two children and his two grandkids, all of Bert’s money is going to charity. He has bequeathed twenty million dollars to the Northport School District to be invested to provide scholarships for graduating seniors. I estimate that at least ten seniors each year will receive one hundred thousand dollars for their post high school expenses.
“Bert told me about his family once. His parents named him Albertus Magnus the third. Bert hated the name so he actually cut school on his eighteenth birthday to have his name changed to Bert M. His parents were so upset that they totally disowned him. He further angered them by joining the Army instead of going to college as expected.
“My father and all three of his sons graduated from West Point and we’ve all gone on to excellent careers in the Army so you might think that we’d look down at Bert. You’d be totally wrong if you did. Actually, we looked up to Bert. He and Beth were married before any of us and he was an excellent role model for us, both as a husband and as a father. He and Beth were totally dedicated to each other. I don’t think they ever argued.
“Now…I’m going to tell you something you probably won’t believe…although, maybe you will since you know Bert and Beth so well. Dad and Bert had gone to the store on an errand while the rest of us talked around the kitchen table. My wife was bemoaning the loss of romance as we got older. She even talked about our declining sex life. I think we had been married about twenty years. Then she addressed Beth, telling her she couldn’t imagine what it would be when we were married as long as she and Bert were. That’s when Beth shocked all of us. ‘I wouldn’t know about declining sex life. Other than the night before our wedding and the months before and after Tom’s birth, Bert and I have made love every single day. We did it once the kids were in bed while they were at home, but now we’re free to enjoy each other whenever we’re in the mood. That’s always…every second of every day. That’s how we remind ourselves how much we love each other.’ We all looked at each other and realized that our love paled in comparison to Beth’s and Bert’s.
“Bert requested that the interment be private, but we invite all of you to join us at the Northport Yacht Club from one to five this afternoon for a celebration of Bert’s life. It certainly was outstanding in every respect.”
Beth squeezed my hand. “I agree completely, Bert. You are an extraordinary man and you had an extraordinary life.” Then she wrapped those arms around me and we kissed. I was lost in her again and when we opened our eyes we were back in our small home on the ocean. Beth smiled, extended her hand to me, and led me to our bed. I knew then that spending eternity with Beth would be very interesting.