Chili visits his old college roommate Benny. Benny is engaged to a girl that Chili was very attracted to back in college. It makes for an interesting visit.
Chili met Grace during his last semester of college at a university in Maryland, a couple months before he would graduate in the spring of 1978. He met her at his dorm, or ‘mod’ as it was called, which was pretty much known as party central around the complex. It was a very modern dormitory for its time: it was co-ed and consisted of apartments housing four or six students in each. Chili’s housed six, with two double rooms, two singles, two baths and a kitchen and living area.
Chili’s five roommates that year consisted of Yakov, a Russian student who was seldom seen; Kenny, a pot head trombonist in the marching band; Mitch, a complete asshole no one could stand, but who fortunately spent most of his time at a Jewish frat house; Frank, a fruity bass player in a disco group; and Benny.
Benny was going to college on the five-and-a-half-year plan. Although he entered college a year ahead of Chili, he wouldn’t graduate until the following school year. Chili and Benny had roomed together for two years and had gotten along well. They both were sports fans and athletes and played on the dorm intramural football, basketball and softball teams together. They especially clicked in basketball because Benny was a gun and liked to shoot, and Chili was a good passer who would look for the open man.
Their mod was a popular place for several reasons. The music was always playing, the bar was always open, there was a bong on the table and usually somebody was ready to party. But the main reason was Benny: He was the local source of pot and drugs for many undergraduates.
The roommates would always know when a shipment of something was due because the wall phone would ring off the hook and the callers would be asking for Benny. Then before long Benny would come home at night from his part-time job at Safeway carrying a large brown paper sack with grocery items sticking out of the top. But beneath the groceries was the package everyone had been calling about.
Chili wasn’t really into drugs but did smoke a little weed now and then. As a graduating senior he was in party mode much of the time and it was free, there was always a shoebox lid of reefer on the table. Benny, on the other hand, would partake of his various products on a regular basis and although he usually had a buzz on, he managed to control his usage fairly well.
That final semester the dorm softball team made it to the playoffs and had a semi-final game scheduled for a Thursday afternoon after class—prime ‘Let’s get our heads up for the weekend’ time—and Chili, as team captain and shortstop, had practically begged Benny to please abstain and show up to the game straight. But Benny showed up to the game at the very last minute and took his position at third base with a joint in his mouth. Chili was pissed off initially but didn’t have to worry. In the top of the first inning an opposing batter lifted a pop fly deep behind third base in foul ground. Benny sprinted after the fly, barely reached it in time, and with his back to the field dove for the ball, caught it, rolled over and sprung up with the ball safely in his glove and the joint still safely clutched between his lips.
One day during Chili’s final semester he met Grace for the first time at his dorm. There was a small group hanging around, casually listening to music, talking and drinking beer. Since the complex was coed, there were always new girls around, friends of friends, guests, whatever, but Grace was a new face, and Chili was attracted to her immediately. She was slim and athletic-looking. She had long legs, medium-sized perky tits and shoulder-length auburn hair. Her jeans were tight on her butt and Chili wanted to peel them right off. He got himself a beer and introduced himself and started chatting her up. He could tell within minutes that this was a woman he wanted to get to know. But soon he was let down and backed off. Grace was with Benny.
‘Damn!’ Chili thought. He’d had relationships with girls throughout college, of course, but most occurred out of horniness and convenience and none had turned into anything even remotely serious. And here he meets this girl to whom he is immediately and intensely attracted—her looks, her body, her smile, her conversation, not to mention the tingle between his legs—and she’s off-limits.
Chili couldn’t remember seeing Benny with a real girlfriend, just a few sleep-overs here and there. And he didn’t know how he’d met Grace…was she one of his customers?...but he had to admit, at least he had good taste.
So he backed off, and admired her from afar as she came and went with Benny during the remainder of the semester, and pondered what might have been. And then he graduated and moved on and forgot about her. Or at least he tried to.
After he graduated, Chili travelled the U.S. in his Mercury Comet for a few months, finally settling in a medium-sized city on the southwest coast of Florida. He liked the laid-back lifestyle of living on the Gulf. He took a sales job for a direct marketing company selling direct mail advertising at the time when the medium was relatively new and growing by leaps and bounds. Within a year he was able to purchase the territory and had exclusive rights to sell the company’s products. Over the next several years he grew his sole proprietorship into a thriving small business and was earning over six figures for himself. He bought a waterfront cottage on a tributary that flowed into the Intracoastal Waterway. Life was good.
Chili had had a few relationships, and one even lasted a year, but nothing permanent. His business kept him very busy. He’d lost touch with Benny—as he had with many of his college buddies—but he thought about him once in a while. And he thought about Grace of course. He wondered if they were still together.
Benny had graduated a semester after Chili, and moved in with Grace. He started a landscaping business with a childhood friend: Ready Teddy, a druggie. Ted’s father owned a large nursery in the town where they’d grown up, which was only about twenty miles from the campus, and he helped them get started and acquire supplies and equipment. At first they’d rented a house in a subdivision and they gradually acquired more and more equipment—trucks, trailers, tools, tractors—and the neighbors started complaining about it. So he and Ted went out looking to buy a piece of property where they could park and store everything. They found a 1.5 acre parcel that was partially wooded and had a long dirt driveway leading to an old, broken-down, abandoned house. They paid $57,000 for it, parked everything there and got the neighbors of their backs.
In a once-in-a-lifetime stroke of luck, and unbeknownst to Benny and Ted, the whole surrounding area was soon being rezoned industrial and heavy commercial due to the expansion of the international airport a few miles away. Out of nowhere, in less than two years they were presented with an offer of $1.1 million for the property.
Benny and Ted took their cash and purchased homes on large properties in the semi-rural outskirts of town. There they had their privacy and plenty of space to park all of their equipment.
Chili’s parents were getting older and had decided to downsize, so he scheduled a trip back home to go through and clean out the house to help them prepare to sell. While he was there he bought a couple tickets for a football game at his alma mater and took his Dad to the game.
Chili was waiting in the beer line at the concession stand when he heard a familiar voice calling his name.
“CHILI….” boomed the voice from a few feet away. He recognized Benny’s voice immediately.
“Hey, Benny, how the hell are you, man?” Chili asked, and they hugged. Benny looked like he’d put on a few pounds.
The game was still in the first quarter but Chili could tell that Benny was already pretty toasted. He remembered going to the games when they were in college, the tailgating, sneaking in booze, and they were usually so drunk by halftime that they couldn’t even tell which team had the ball.
They chatted for a few minutes in line and they exchanged business cards. Chili mentioned his parents and that he might be coming north again in a couple months. Benny said to let him know when and he could stay with him and Grace at their new home. Be nice to have you stay with us for a few days, he said.
“Did you and Grace get married?” Chili asked.
“Nah,” Benny said. “We’ve talked about it but that’s about it. Permanently engaged I guess you could say.”
They got their beers and went their separate ways back to their respective seats.
The next time Chili came north he never even called Benny. It was getting close to the holidays and he thought it would be too awkward, plus he had his own family obligations. But a few months later, after his parents had sold their house and moved south, he took Benny up on the offer.
That spring Chili planned a road trip north. He would visit his parents at their new home in North Carolina, his sister in Virginia, and Benny in Maryland. He would stay with his parents one night—that’s about all he could stand—and with his sister and brother-in-law for a couple days, and then on to Benny’s. At Benny’s he would play it by ear: it could be a lot of fun or, after so much time, it could be like a weird scene from the movie ‘Pacific Heights’.
What attracted Chili most of all to the visit was his curiosity. How was Benny living these days after his windfall? He knew he had a successful business, but what was his life like? Was he still a head? Still dealing? Was he happy? And what about Grace? Was she?
It was late Friday afternoon and Chili had been in the car over five hours when he arrived at Benny’s house. It was a little hard to find. It was out in the countryside and he missed a turn and had to backtrack before finding it. He drove down a driveway through a tunnel of trees and then curved to the left. The house was bigger than he expected, a brick two-story with a gabled roof, dormers upstairs and a three-car garage. There was a silver Toyota in the driveway. Chili heard a big dog barking nearby. He parked but didn’t get out of the car right away. He thought immediately that a large, ferocious dog would probably mean only one thing to Benny: protection.
“Wait a minute, Chili!” he heard a female voice call. He looked over to the side porch and spotted Grace behind the screen holding the collar of a white German Shepherd. “Let me take care of the dog!” Then she disappeared for a moment until the front door opened and Grace emerged without the canine.
“It’s okay now,” she said, walking toward the car, and Chili opened his door and got out. Grace gave him a hug, which surprised him. It was the first time they’d really touched and he felt the soft pressure of one of her breasts against his sternum. “Nice to see you, Chili. How was your trip?”
He ran down the boring details of his five-hour drive on rural two-lanes and the interstate and the miserable mixing bowl around the Virginia/D.C. line. He got his bag off the backseat and they walked inside.
“Benny’s not home yet, but he should be soon,” Grace said. “We’ve looking forward to your visit. Would you like something to drink?” They sat at the kitchen table and sipped cold drinks and made small talk.
Grace’s auburn hair was longer, falling down the top of her back with a hint of curl. Her body was still trim, tight denims snug against her long legs and cute butt and a soft red shirt. Somehow though, her face looked different than he remembered: still attractive, but in an older and more serious way. She wore an engagement ring with a large, oval diamond on her left hand.
“You look great, Grace,” Chili said. He gently squeezed her bicep and added, “Good shape, too. Have you been working out?”
“Thanks, Chili, yeah, I work out some. Plus I get plenty of exercise trying to keep up with Benny, that keeps me running.”
“Really, how so?”
“You know Benny as well as I do, Chili.”
They heard the diesel truck when it pulled into the drive. Then the cab door slammed and the front door of the house opened with a bang.
“In the kitchen, Benny!” Grace called out.
“CHILI!….” came Benny’s booming voice from the foyer and they heard him bounding down the hall. He walked into the kitchen, plopped a tray of steaks on the counter and gave Chili a bear hug.
“We need beer!” Benny yelled, and walked to the fridge and pulled out three bottles of Molson.
Benny looked like a landscaper. He had on dirty jeans, a yellow t-shirt with his company’s green logo on it, work boots and a Baltimore Orioles cap with his blond hair splayed out on the sides. They sat at the table and talked as they drank their beers.
“Well, I’m dirty and I smell, so I’m going to get a shower and then fire up the grill. I got us some big, fat juicy steaks,” Benny said. “You up to pace, Grace?”
“Yes, Dear. Baked potatoes and a giant salad.”
“All right!” Benny barked, and left the room.
Chili and Grace gathered the food and the tools and the condiments for the cookout.
They had more beers on the patio while the meat cooked, then ate at the picnic table under an oak tree. The food was delicious and the beers kept going down easy. Chili thought he now knew where Benny’s extra weight had come from. Grace’s body was fine and she was putting away the beers pretty well herself. The sun was going down and there was a lull in the conversation.
“Wanna get buzzed?” Benny asked. He looked at Chili and then at Grace.
“I don’t know,” Chili said. “I haven’t done that shit since college.”
“Ah, come on, for old times’ sake. Grace, should we show Chili the Vapor Room?”
“Uh, I don’t know Benny. Don’t you have to go to work early in the morning at that estate account you guys just picked up?”
“I just have to go out and get the crews started. Gotta make sure the knuckleheads know what to do and don’t screw anything up. And Teddy will be there.”
“Lotta help he’ll be,” Grace said sarcastically. “Maybe till the bars open.”
“Come on Grace, let’s show Chili a good time.”
Chili thought the look on Grace’s face was one of dubious anticipation. She looked at him and surrendered a resigned smile.
They went into a room behind the garage. It was a lounge with a large leather sofa and chairs and a wet bar. It had a tile floor and all the windows were closed and it smelled like weed. Benny took beers out of the mini-fridge and handed one to Grace and Chili, who were seated on the sofa. He placed a brick pad on the floor in the center of the room and then we walked out the side door.
“What’s he doing?” Chili asked.
“You’ll see,” Grace said. “Get ready to take a ride.”
Benny returned a minute later with a shallow metal bucket and a three-foot dried-out plant with thin rigid branches. He placed the bucket on the brick pad and then took out a pair of hand clippers and started cutting stems and stalks and twigs off of the plant and tossing them in the bucket.
“My own crop!” Benny said, as he clipped away.
Grace rose from the sofa and walked over to a small bookcase and turned on the stereo. This was back in the days when FM radio rock stations would play entire albums start-to-finish one after the other without interruptions for hours on end. Grace adjusted the tuner and the volume and ‘Nature’s Way’ from ‘The 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus’ poured out of the speakers.
When the bucket was about half-full Benny struck a wooden match and tossed it onto the arid kindling. It caught fire in a flash, flaming up at first, but then it lowered to a slow, controlled burn as Benny stoked it and continued feeding more pieces onto it. The room quickly filled with a dense fog of smoke.
Grace noticed Chili’s bottle was empty so she took it out of his hand and retrieved him another from the fridge. She handed him the beer and sat back down beside him, a little closer than before.
“Let me get a picture,” Benny said. “Move a little closer.”
Grace scooted closer to Chili, her body now touching flush against his, and making his body inadvertently tense up.
“Don’t worry,” Grace said to him. “He always does this.”
Benny moved in closer with a Polaroid camera, focusing, framing a shot through the haze. Chili was already getting light-headed and he felt a dry burn in his eyes. But Grace’s body felt good next to his.
They kept drinking beers and absorbing smoke in their lungs and their clothes and their hair. Chili thought the stereo sounded like a symphony, even though it all was coming out of two cheap speakers. The radio kicked into another album, ‘Straight Up’ by Badfinger; Chili had heard the LP many times—it was one of his old favorites—but this time he swore he heard things in the music that he’d never ever heard before.
Vision was getting fuzzy. Between the smoke inhaled and the smoke in the air, focusing was like trying to land a small plane in a blizzardy windstorm. Chili wasn’t used to this, he hadn’t smoked pot in years. Benny was getting high, Chili remembered the signs, but was cruising along, okay so far. Grace seemed to be just going along for the ride.
“Hold hands!” Benny barked, camera back in hand.
Grace smiled and took Chili’s hand in hers. She leaned her head on his shoulder.
“Nice!” Benny said, and snapped the photo.
The mellow tune ‘Flying’ came out of the speakers and Chili thought to himself: I sure am!
Benny opened three more beers and cut up some more kindling for the fire and fed it all into the bucket and the flame kicked up and crackled.
“I better let Jojo out. I’ll be right back,” Grace said, and left to tend to their dog.
“How do you feel, Chili?” Benny asked.
“You mean when the room’s not spinning?”
“Ah, just like the good old days!” Benny laughed.
Chili could barely see the far wall of the room through the clouds. The beer was going down easy, tasting good and soothing his toasty throat. They had opened two more by the time Grace returned.
“Let’s take off our shirts,” Benny said, his voice loud and aggressive.
Chili looked at him. “Take off our shirts?”
“Benny, are you sure about this?” Grace said.
“Sure I’m sure!” he said, ripping off his shirt and exposing his gut. “Grace, unbutton Chili.”
She glanced at Chili’s eyes and started unbuttoning his shirt from the top down.
“What’s going on?” Chili asked.
“We’re gonna have some fun,” Benny said, and he plopped down on the sofa on the other side of Grace. She was now between them and Benny started pulling her shirt off as soon as she’d undone the last button of Chili’s shirt.
“What kind of fun?”
“We’re all gonna let laid!” Benny shouted, and gulped his beer. Grace’s top was off now, her thin, creamy bra barely surrounding her firm breasts.
“Unhook her bra, Chili!”
Grace turned so her back was to Chili. He did as he was told and handed the bra to Benny, who tossed it on the floor and picked up the camera. Grace took Chili’s beer out of his hand, took a big swig and handed it back.
“Grab her titties!”
“Do it, Chili. You know you’ve always wanted to.”
Grace grabbed his hand and brought it to her breast. “It’s okay, don’t fight it,” she said. “Let’s go along with it.”
Chili thought to himself, ‘Grace seems resigned to the idea, so what the hell’. He gently squeezed and thumbed her nipple and felt it stiffen. Benny snapped another picture and the print slid out the front of the camera.
Chili felt her hands unbuckling his belt, then unsnapping his jeans and unzipping him. She slid onto the floor on her knees between his legs in front of him.
“Lift up,” she said softly, so he lifted his butt and she pulled his pants and boxers down to the floor.
His cock was already half-mast. Grace stroked him with one hand and kneaded his nuts with the other and Chili sighed in hazy pleasure. Within thirty seconds he was hard and long.
“Suck it!” Benny ordered, and when Grace took Chili’s dick into her mouth the flash went off and another photo slid out of the camera.
Chili put his hands on her shoulders and massaged them as she sucked him. He liked the feel of her skin in his hands and was soon rubbing the tendons in her neck and running his fingers through her hair.
She was good. He cherished the cushiony grip of her lips around his cock and gently swung his groin into her bobbing head. He didn’t know if he should come in her mouth, this was all new to him: having sex with another man’s woman while the other man directed. He tried to draw a safe balance between holding back his ejaculation and gently fucking her beautiful mouth—but before long he knew that fucking her beautiful mouth was taking precedence. He grabbed the back of her head and started swinging his missile into her mouth with greater force. Grace slurped as he fucked her face and Chili grunted with each of his thrusts. He let out a long, low groan when he came and his body shook as he released his semen, shot after shot, and he held her head in his hands as he unloaded. She kept his cock in her mouth and continued sucking until he was empty. When she removed her mouth from his cock the only trace of cum was a droplet at the corner of her mouth.
“Damn, that was hot!” Benny said, and snapped another smoky photo of Chili’s slimy cock inches from Grace’s silhouetted head.
Grace slowly rose from her knees and was standing in front of Chili.
“Chili, take off her pants!”
Grace moved closer, her crotch now a foot in front of his face. Chili looked up at her eyes through the wafts of smaze. She nodded and ran her fingers through her hair. He reached for her. He unbuttoned and unzipped and pushed down her jeans. She wore white panties which she herself removed, revealing a short, neatly-trimmed reddish-brown growth.
“Eat it, Chili!” Benny said.
Grace inched closer and Chili slid his naked butt to the edge of the sofa. On the stereo Badfinger was singing about how there is no real perfection, but staring at the sumptuous cleft before him, Chili begged to differ. He sunk his tongue into her and another flash bulb went off.
Chili felt Grace’s hands on his shoulders and her groin gently swaying toward him, aiding his access and helping his tongue reach maximum depth. He licked her inner salts and smelled her pungent tang and she sighed when he nibbled on her swelling clit. He clutched his fingers and the palms of his hands around her naked ass.
For the next few minutes…time seemed to barely move even as the music played on…Grace fucked Chili’s face and he sucked on her rigid meat with a vengeance.
“Oh, God…” she groaned. Her body quivered and she dug her finger tips into Chili’s shoulder and placed her foot on his thigh for support. Her cunt opened and let go and out flowed her cum, a trickle at first, but then two, three, four, five love bursts, until her body wilted onto his.
“Fuck her, Chili! This is your chance. Fuck him, Grace. But no kissing,” Benny said, and he started unzipping his pants.
Grace seized Chili’s firm and ready cock and lowered her slithery cunt onto it. He felt her squeeze him with her trained vagina, and she pushed down hard, taking all of him in and grinding. Chili arched his back to help deepen his penetration. He swung his groin back and forth, moving his meat in and out of her steamy snatch.
Benny’s pants were now off and he was standing naked behind Grace. Chili noticed he was fiddling with her rear end, but soon realized he must have been lubricating her asshole because he then mounted her from behind. Chili and Grace slowed their humping momentarily and Grace groaned when Benny’s dick entered her ass. He eased it in and out a few times and then he picked up his pace and was fucking her up the ass with a driven, drunken force. Chili’s hands gripped the ass of Grace as Benny’s cock pounded it and his own cock repeatedly stroked and reached for the depths of her cunt.
Grace uttered unintelligible babble as her body was double-fucked and Chili could swear he felt the head of his cock kissing the head of Benny’s through the thin membrane inside her. Her forehead was brushing his cheek and he felt beads of her sweat wet against his skin. He licked her ear with his parched tongue as a new album began playing, something by Zappa, and the bucket of pot kept burning, adding to the smog in the room and the fog in his head.
Benny soon groaned and bucked like a mule and it was obvious he had shot his wad.
“Damn, that’s a nice piece of ass!” he said loudly. “You’re turn, Chili!”
Chili was so far out of it by this time he didn’t care what happened next. He felt sort of bad that Benny was subjecting Grace to all of this, but she seemed used to the idea and he sure couldn’t pass up the chance to fuck her sexy ass.
Barry sat on the sofa and lay back, pulling Grace on top of him. Her pussy was flowing like a river so Benny was immediately balls-deep.
“C’mon, Chili. Fuck that ass.”
Chili rose and turned, squatting behind Grace, and he saw her asshole wink at him and some of Benny’s cum oozed out. He briefly fingered her slippery slot. His cock was hard and ripe and ready so he put its head against her dilated O-ring and pushed. He loved how it slid right in, he savored her walls of sweet pressure on the girth of his cock, and he loved the way she sighed when he shoved his length into her.
Instantly they were three-way fucking and found a natural rhythm, a triad of cocks and ass and cunt. Chili’s dick was gliding on a slippery slope of KY and Benny’s cum, and he pounded her with a renewed determination, anxious to add his own cum to the mix.
Chili looked at his watch when he awoke. It was almost five a.m. and he was disoriented. His mind was still in a fog and his mouth tasted like a tractor had plowed through it. He was naked in their bed. Grace was lying on her side to his left, also naked, with her back to him. Benny was on the other side of her.
He thought about the Vapor Room, the beer, the smoke, the sex on the sofa. He vaguely remembered fucking Grace in the Jacuzzi while Benny snapped photos. And eating her pussy while Benny licked her ass, and vice versa. He didn’t remember how they all ended up in bed together.
Chili got out of bed and walked across the room and entered the master bath and closed the door behind him. He stood in front of the toilet and took a powerful whiz and flushed the toilet, hoping it wouldn’t wake the others. He splashed water on his face and dried it with a towel, then he found a bottle of mouthwash under the sink. He took a healthy swig and swished and gargled for thirty seconds before spitting it out. He returned to bed where Grace was in the same position. Benny was on his back, snoring.
Sleep did not come back to him easily. His mind was wandering as he walked it through all that had happened. The sex had been fabulous and he still found it hard to believe that Benny would share Grace with him that way, and practically insist on it. They obviously had done it with others before. For Chili, it had been more than just sex: he had been intimate with a woman he’d been immediately attracted to the moment he’d laid eyes on her several years before. What was she feeling?
He had finally nodded back off when the alarm clock sounded. The bed jolted and Benny reached over to his nightstand and shut it off, and with a tired grunt rose out of bed and went into the bathroom and shut the door. Soon the toilet flushed and the shower was turned on.
Grace was awake, still on her side facing away. Chili turned onto his side and spooned her from behind. He put his arm around her and cupped her naked breast. Her body tensed briefly, and then relaxed. He put his cheek against the side of her head and could smell the chlorine from the Jacuzzi in her hair. He nestled closer so their bodies were flush and his cock, with its good-morning stiffness rested in the crack of her ass.
She turned toward him onto her back, and before she could resist or say a word Chili put his mouth on hers and kissed her for the first time. Within seconds her lips were apart and his tongue was in her mouth, probing, tasting and sucking hers into him. He slipped his fingers between the lips of her pussy and gently prodded her, coaxing her cunt into a luscious bliss and thumbing her clit to a turgid toughness.
Chili rolled on top of her and while keeping his mouth tongue-locked to hers, he slid his hands under her ass and entered her. And he fucked her for what was in his mind the first time, without Benny watching or abetting and without a tree of smoke and flashbulbs going off.
He lovingly fucked her, nice and slow and easy. Grace got perfectly into the groove, pumping in sync with him and murmuring quiet moans from within their kisses. He squeezed the cheeks of her butt and pushed his hardness deep into her and they gradually picked up their pace, harder, faster, deeper, with their lips never far apart.
He soon felt Grace’s body spasm, coming in a hushed rush, so Chili screwed her harder still, hoping to match her with his own load. Then with a tremendous groan his cum rose up through him and he came in a surge of spurts, and no sooner were his balls sucked dry and he collapsed upon her that they heard the shower turn off.
“You better go to the other bathroom, get in the shower,” Grace said.
She kissed his lips and he did as suggested.
After showering and dressing, Chili smelled coffee brewing and headed to the kitchen. Grace was standing at the counter pouring orange juice into glasses.
“Good morning!” Chili said enthusiastically as he entered the room.
”Good morning,” Grace said as she handed him a glass. He couldn’t help glancing at the sparkle emanating from the diamond on her left ring finger.
Chili took a sip of his OJ, which tasted medicinal after just brushing his teeth. He leaned against the counter facing Grace.
“Would you like coffee?”
“I’d love some.”
“Have a seat,” she said and poured two cups and sat across from him. “Benny said he’d be back in a couple hours and he’d take you to the track.”
“Is that all right?”
“Sure I have no plans. So Benny’s still going to the track, huh? Will you be coming along?”
“Oh, no, I don’t think so. Sounds like guy time to me.”
“Oh, please come. Give me somebody to talk to while Benny is running around screaming at horses.”
“You don’t bet on the horses?”
“Oh, no, I don’t bet period,” Chili said. “I was cured at a very young age.”
“Really? How so?”
“I saw firsthand how it can ruin lives.”
“When I was a little boy my Dad had a friend named Joe. ‘Mister Joe’ we kids called him. And Mister Joe would come over to our house for Christmas and Thanksgiving, always by himself. He was nice but always seemed lonely. Never knew much about him. Then one Saturday when I was eight or nine years old, this was in the mid-1960s, my father took me to Mister Joe’s apartment. I think my father had loaned him money or something because Mister Joe handed him an envelope when we got there.
“Anyway, Mister Joe lived on the third floor of an old red brick row house, an end unit, and we had to climb a rickety, outside stairwell on the side of the building, almost like a fire escape. Even as a little boy I could tell his home was barren, with no sign of family or warmth or love. He had a card table by the window. And that table was literally covered with rows and rows of ticket vouchers of all the winnings he had had that month at the track. There were over $50,000 of winnings on that table…remember this was 1965 or 1966…and you know what? Mister Joe had lost money that month.”
Chili blew on his coffee and took a sip. He noticed that Grace’s eyes were watered and were staring into his.
“Anyway, I learned later on that Mister Joe had lost everything he had because of gambling: his house, his car, his wife, his family. And my Dad was one of the last friends he still had who hadn’t turned his back on him.”
There was a long silence as they gazed into each other’s eyes.
“God, that’s sad story,” Grace said, her voice cracking.
“I’ve only gone to the track once in my life,” Chili continued. “I guess today will be the second, but I won’t place any bets. It was when I was in college. I went with Benny and a couple other guys. I didn’t know the first thing about it, but I got a racing form and sat back and observed and studied it a bit for the first three races. Then I laid two dollars down on a horse and as soon as the bell rang and they were off I was up on the railing screaming my head off like a fool, yelling at a damn horse! I couldn’t believe the adrenaline rush and how quickly it took over. I think that’s when I started to understand the sickness. And that’s why I’d like for you to come along today.”
“Is that what Benny has? A sickness?”
“Oh no, Grace, I’m not saying that, it’s been years. I have no idea…”
“I think you may be right.”
“You do? What do you mean?”
“Benny. I think you’re right. He gambles way too much and loses way too much.”
There was an uneasy quiet. Chili broke the awkwardness by trying to move off the subject.
“Well, things seem to be going well. He seems to be doing well in business and your home is beautiful.”
“Thank you. Benny came into a half million dollars when he and Fred sold that property near the airport. Then he paid cash for this house and a new truck and a boat. It’s gone now.”
“Gone? Oh my God, really?”
“Yep, gone. Whatever was left he lost at the track and betting on football and basketball.”
“Jeez, Grace, I’m sorry…”
She shrugged and said, “I shouldn’t have told you, so please don’t tell Benny. I guess after what you told me it seemed okay…”
“Grace. I love your name. I like to say it: Grace. You’re the only Grace I’ve ever known.”
“My parents had four daughters. Grace, Hope, Faith and Joy. I’m oldest.”
“Religious family, huh?”
“Mom was.” She sipped her coffee. “Do you think we should talk about this morning?”
“Yes, this morning. When Benny was in the shower.”
“It was beautiful and natural. It seemed like the right thing to do. And after last night I didn’t think you or Benny would mind. You seemed to be into it.”
“I was, but I can’t believe we did that. I’ve never done that before.”
“Fucked a guy behind Benny’s back.”
Chili was confused. “I don’t understand. After all we did together last night, as intimate as we were, how could what we did this morning, as beautiful as it was, be wrong?”
“I don’t know, but it’s different than when Benny’s watching and participating and taking pictures.”
Chili shook his head. “How often do you two do what we all did last night?”
“Every now and then. Not as often as we used to. Benny gets turned on watching me with another guy.”
“Do you like it?”
“No, not usually. At first it was okay because it was kinky and exciting and we both got off on it. But then for me it got old and I would dread it, especially with some of the guys Benny brought in. But it turned him on and it was easier just to go along with it. But you know what? Last night was good; it was the first time in a long time that I wanted to.”
“Damn, Grace, this sounds so strange to me. If you were my woman I wouldn’t share you with anybody!” He reached for her hand but she clutched her coffee cup and raised it to her lips.
Benny was surprised when Grace said she wanted to go along with them to the track, but he was fine with it.
“I’m no gambler Benny, you know that,” Chili said. “I’m going to relax and enjoy myself and watch…the horses and the animals who bet on them. Grace will give me somebody to talk to while you are collecting all your winnings!”
Grace wore a floral print backless sundress, hemmed several inches above her knees, which showed off her shapely butt and toned body and perky, braless tits. And sexy sandals with thin leather straps that wound upward above the ankles. Her finger- and toenails were polished the color of her hair and she wore slim gold chains around her neck and wrist. And of course that damn ring.
The track was minor league all the way. They found a table by the large window of the clubhouse and ordered drinks. They had a good view of the track and it was a short walk for Benny to place his bets. By the second race Benny had run into a few cronies and was spending most of his time at the bar.
“You look fabulous,” Chili said when Benny was off somewhere.
“Thank you,” Grace said. She shifted in her seat and Chili saw her breasts heave slightly with her breath.
“Are you wearing anything at all under that dress?”
Grace smiled slyly and said, “Maybe, maybe not. What do you think?”
“It doesn’t look like it.”
“Well, I plead the fifth. Maybe later on I’ll answer that question.”
“If later on you need any help taking it off just let me know.”
“Now, I don’t think that would go over too well with Benny, do you?”
“He didn’t seem to mind last night.”
“Getting high in his vapor room is one thing, but I don’t…”
“Here he comes,” Chili hissed, and sipped his drink.
Benny rejoined them for a few minutes and dominated the conversation with track talk. After three races he was down eighty bucks. Grace and Chili listened empathically, feigning interest while they occasionally played footsie under the table.
“Are we having an affair?” Grace asked, after Benny had left the table again.
“Yeah, after what happened this morning. You started it but I went right along.”
“I was just doing what felt natural and right in my heart and mind. I made love to a beautiful woman.”
Grace stared at him and didn’t say anything. Chili wedged off one of his boat shoes and traced his bare foot upward on her shins and rested his toes on the chair between her knees.
“Grace, you know I had a thing for you the very first moment I laid eyes on you in college. Did you know that?”
“Yes, I could tell. I know something else too.”
“What’s that?” He felt her knees clamp together on his foot.
“I think for both our sakes, right now this is as far as your foot should go.”
Benny lost two hundred dollars over eight races. Chili took Benny and Grace out to dinner where they spent a couple hours eating, drinking and talking. It was mostly shop talk: Benny had plenty of funny stories about his employees, many of whom were under-the-table illegal immigrants, Chili told a few good ones about his clients and Grace held her own with what it’s like to teach third-graders.
When they got back to the house Grace announced she was going up to bed. Benny and Chili sat up for a while before Chili said goodnight and headed up to his bedroom. He wanted to get a good nights’ sleep because the plan was to get up early and take the boat out on the bay for a day of fishing.
Chili got to his room and flipped on the light. He started to undress and noticed a note on the pillow. It was short and sweet. Printed on an index card in all caps it read: THE ANSWER WAS NO! followed by a smiley face.
‘Damn’, Chili thought. ‘I knew she’d been naked under that dress’.
Sunday was a hot, sunny day and fishing went well. Chili wasn’t much of a fisherman, but the other guys—Benny, Fred and a big, fat dude named Roland—were. They brought in quite a catch. They reached the limits on bass and blues and they put away a case of beer between them.
It was mid-afternoon with the sun high and a clear sky when Benny and Chili got back to the house. There was a table and trash barrel set up by the garden hose behind the garage where Benny began cleaning the fish. Chili was heading to the house for a shower when he heard blues music playing. He walked around back where Grace was sunbathing face-down on a lounge chair. The bra of her bikini was unhooked so her back was bare. Her suit was black and engagingly complemented her bronzed skin. On the table next to her was a small boom box playing a blues tape.
“You need any help applying your sun tan lotion in any of those hard-to-reach places?” Chili called over the music.
Grace started, then scrambled and gathered the straps of her bikini top and expertly hooked them behind her back. She rolled onto her back. Her eyes were hidden behind dark glasses.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Chili said. “Benny’s out cleaning the fish.”
“So how did it go?”
“Pretty well. Fish for dinner!”
“Good. Benny grills a mean fish.”
“Albert Collins, huh?” Chili said, nodding toward the boom box.
“Yep. You know Albert?”
“Yes. I’ve seen him live several times, he’s one of my favorites. We have the same birthday as a matter of fact: October first. You’re into the blues?”
“I love the blues. That’s what we listen to if it’s my choice.”
“Wow, great minds think alike.”
“That’s what I was thinking,” he said. Then: “You look ravishing in that swim suit.”
“Are you wearing anything underneath it?”
Grace smiled coyly and said, “The answer again would be no.”
Chili sat on a lawn chair to her left. “Are you sure you don’t need my help applying more lotion?” he asked.
“It’s tempting but I think I better pass.”
“Why, don’t you trust me?”
“I don’t trust either one of us.”
They gazed at each other and Chili imagined her eyes behind her shades. He shook his head slightly and reached over to the armrest of her chair and took her hand into his. He lifted her hand and kissed the top of it, twirling the ring on her finger as he did so.
“I need a cold shower,” he said, and went into the house.
Benny did a great job grilling up the fish. He also grilled mushrooms, peppers, onions and corn on the cob. It all was delicious. But after a day out on the water under the hot sun, numerous beers and a big meal, Chili was fading fast. He helped clean up and then said he was beat and was going to turn in. He said goodnight to Benny and Grace and headed up to bed.
He was finding it harder to be around Grace knowing he couldn’t have her. The original plan was for him to stay a couple more days but he’d had enough. He would leave in the morning. He washed and brushed his teeth and got into bed. Before falling asleep he masturbated, imagining Grace was on top of him.
Chili woke very early and waited until he heard Benny drive off in his truck at a little after six. A few minutes later he heard Grace in the kitchen and he went downstairs. She was wearing a robe standing at the counter.
“Good morning!” he said as he entered the kitchen.
“Good morning,” Grace said perkily. “How did you sleep?”
“Like a rock. Fishing in the hot sun all day really took it out of me.”
“Sure,” he said, and Grace poured him a cup.
“Look, Grace, I want you to know I’ll be leaving this morning. I really want to thank you and Benny for having me and your hospitality but I have to be going.”
“No! We’re going to the ballgame tonight.”
“No, I can’t, I have to go. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve been wonderful and I had a great time visiting but it was a mistake to come here. I never should have come. Every minute I stay here it gets harder.”
Grace’s eyes glassed over. “What do you mean? What’s Benny going to say?”
“Tell him my parents have an emergency or something. But I can’t tell him because…because I’m falling in love with you, Grace…and he won’t want to hear that. I can’t help it, I’m sorry. The longer I stay the deeper and harder it will get. Its torture being in love with someone you can’t have.”
Grace started crying softly and dabbed her eyes with a napkin. She took a sip of coffee and poured the rest into the sink. Chili stepped closer and raised her chin so she was looking up at him.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to upset you. But I have to be completely honest. I’m falling in love with you and that’s not good when you’re engaged to another man. The other night in the vapor room might have been just another crazy, kinky sex romp around here, but for me it was much more than that. And the next morning—I don’t know about you, but I was making love. And all the playful flirting: it’s only made it worse.”
Grace resumed crying and Chili put his arms around her and put his cheek against the side of her head. He inhaled her lush, lemony scent.
“Do you know what I did when I went to bed last night?” he said softly into her ear. “I thought about you and jerked off.” He felt her squeeze him in her arms until her tears subsided. “So if it’s okay I’m going to get a shower and hit the road, okay?” He felt her head nod up and down. “May I kiss you goodbye?” She nodded again.
Grace raised her head to his. With his arms still around her he put his mouth to hers and they softly mashed lips. He lingered for a few seconds, breathing in her citrusy zest.
“Goodbye, Grace,” he said, and backed away. He turned and left the kitchen and went back to his room.
Grace was confused. She felt bad that Chili had to leave but she understood. It was unexpected, but she’d liked having him around. She liked his looks, the way he talked, and then the way he kissed her. And the way he’d eaten her and fucked her. She’d liked the feel of his body and of course the feel of his cock; in her hands, in her mouth, in her pussy. Even up her ass. But ‘I’m engaged for God’s sake for what seems like forever’ she thought. ‘What the hell am I doing? God, my life is so fucked up’.
She picked up the phone and made a quick call. Then she walked upstairs and down the hall. The shower was running in the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom Chili was using. She sat on the bed.
The shower stopped and a minute later the bathroom door opened and Chili walked into the bedroom. He was naked and stopped in his tracks when he saw her.
Grace took a moment to take in the look of him: The broad shoulders, his slim waist, the muscular thighs. And the muscle between his legs wasn’t bad either. She stood.
“I took a sick day. I figured if we’re going to say goodbye we should do it right.” She opened her robe and let it drop to the floor.
Chili came to her and swooped his arms around her and plastered his mouth onto hers. Grace’s tongue instantly probed into his mouth and he sucked on it. With one arm around her back and her ass in the palm of his hand he lifted her and they fell onto the bed in a single melded piece.
Their kiss was deep and prolonged and their hands roamed their bodies, re-familiarizing their fingers to their fiery flesh. Chili kissed Grace’s nose and eyes and hair and neck and shoulders and sucked her taut nipples into his mouth. Grace held his cock like a hardening lifeline and dug her nails into his neck.
Not playing favorites Chili alternated tits, sucking her nipples hard until they felt like chunks of gravel in his mouth. Grace moaned as Chili suckled her and she pulled on his cock like it was the arm of a slot machine and she was hitting the jackpot.
Chili tried to move his head further south to get to her salty oyster but Grace wouldn’t let go of his cock. He got the idea quickly and pretzeled his body around quickly so his mouth was in her crotch and her mouth was in his. He spread her legs and she sighed loudly when he tickled her asshole with his tongue. He licked her slit and sucked her clit and felt it grow and harden in his mouth. Then he started fucking her pussy with his tongue.
Grace had been kissing and licking his dick and balls but Chili hissed into her cunt when she took his cock into her mouth. He thought back to the other stoned, smoky night—was that only two days ago?—and how he’d watched his whole member dissolve into her mouth and throat. He shoved his meat into her and as if she were reading his mind he felt her mouth widen and take it all in and just like that her lips were kissing his balls. Their bodies were grinding alternately like a giant inchworm as they crawled toward orgasm. Pushing his cock into Grace’s head was slick bliss and the taste of her lusty snatch almost made him high. He knew he was going to blow a load soon and he wouldn’t hold back. Then suddenly Grace’s body shimmied and her water broke and with a loud groan and a mouthful of cock she came. Chili felt the warm wash in his mouth and on his face as he ate. Then she backed off slightly and sucked him even harder and milked his nuts at the same time.
He came like a hose that couldn’t quite handle the pressure and might burst. As his cum boiled upward it was the kind of ejaculation that felt like the payload was just a tad too wide for the passageway and left an afterburner in its wake. Grace must have swallowed a good amount of cum, but not all of it because he saw a good amount ooze from her mouth and down her chin and some clung to the head of his cock as she moved her head away.
Chili spun his body up beside her and they kissed, their tongues resuming their earlier dance. Grace covered him with little kisses, all over his upper body, from head to waist. Once she relaxed she rested her head on his chest and gently held his scrotum in her hand.
After a minute of quiet repose Chili said, “Man, I could get used to this. Too bad I won’t be able to.”
“You’re going to make me cry again.”
“Oh, no, no crying, not after something so wonderful…so Graceful.”
“I’m so fucked up,” she said.
“What? No you’re not.”
“Yes, I am. Look how fucked-up my life is. I have a ring on my finger for what, going on two years now? No plans to marry. My family wonders what the hell’s going on and I don’t even know what to tell them anymore when they ask. What the fuck am I doing? Sure, I have a decent job and we live in a nice house, but I have a fiancé, if you want to call him that, who gambles too much, drinks too much, gets high too much and gets off watching other men fuck me. And look at me now, lying in bed with his old roommate.”
Grace looked up at him. “No! Sorry, I don’t mean it like that. I took a sick day so I could go to bed with you. Is that fucked-up or what? So you could make love to me again. So I could feel you and hold you and you could hold me. I know you care. I can tell by the way to look at me and talk to me and flirt with me and touch me and kiss me and respect me. And fuck me; especially by the way you fuck me.”
He pulled her up gently and put his lips to hers. Her mouth opened instinctively and sucked him in. They kissed deep and long and their fingers walked again all over their kindled skin. With his cock again board-certified Grace pulled Chili on top of her and wasted no time guiding it into her expectant twat.
“Fuck me,” she rasped. He did.
They were immediately back in sync. Chili threw his cock into her with sturdy vigor and Grace swung her torso in perfect time with his movements. His grunts accompanied every plunge and he aimed the head of his cock at the deepest part of her.
“I love fucking you,” he said sharply, and meaning it, although saddened by the fact that he could not have her. “I wish you were mine.”
Chili dug two fingers into her asshole for a better grip and picked up the pace even more. He banged her with fervent force and the bed springs kept time like a tambourine. On and on they fucked, a chorus of sighs and moans and groans with each sweaty push, her pussy squeezing his pounding pecker, his fingers butt-fucking her and their tongues numb from doing their own sexy samba.
“Jesus, I’m gonna come again,” Grace shouted.
Chili slowed to long, slower strokes to give her body room to erupt. Her head darted from side to side and her body bucked beneath him. With a shriek Grace expelled her cum and Chili could feel the wet warmth below him as he could feel the heat of her cheek against his own.
They were in bed for nearly four hours. They did a lot of kissing and holding and talking. And fucking; a whole lot of fucking. Chili’s head spent another extended period between Grace’s legs. In his exuberance he left her groin and thighs with several purple bruises he hoped Benny wouldn’t notice. Last but not least Grace wanted it up the ass and Chili happily obliged, first with his tongue and then with his cock. She asked him to make it hurt because she wanted to feel him for a while. He could feel her sphincter loosening and tightening around his shaft as he drilled her and he yowled like a wildcat when he came and dumped his final shot of semen into her.
It was late morning and they were still in bed.
“I have to get going,” Chili finally said. “But I need another shower.”
Grace rose and said, “I’ll make you some sandwiches for the road” She picked her robe up off the floor and put it on as she walked out the door.
When Chili got down to the kitchen Grace was dressed in blue jean cut-offs and a sleeveless top. She looked good enough to eat but he knew he was way overdue to leave already plus his dick was sore and felt like it was going to fall off. She had packed a small Styrofoam cooler with two sandwiches, a banana, an apple and a couple cans of cola. He put his bag down on the floor and they stood there looking at each other in silence for a moment or two.
“So this is it, I guess,” Grace said finally.
“Yeah, I guess it is.”
“I know you have to go. I wish you could stay longer but I know why you have to leave. It’s been nice having you.”
Chili nodded. “Thank you. I’m sorry if I’ve complicated your life.”
“No. My life was already a mess. I think I’m just now beginning to realize it.” She stepped forward and put her hand against his cheek. “I think I’m going to miss you.”
“I miss you already,” he said. He put his hand over hers and kissed the palm of her hand.
“I wish I had a picture of you,” Grace said with a slight crack in her voice.
“Talk to Benny. He took quite a few on Friday night.”
“I mean a picture of you. Not a picture of your head in my crotch or your dick in my mouth.” They both laughed, easing the angst.
“Do you have a pencil and paper?” Chili asked.
Grace nodded and pulled a piece of copy paper and a pencil out of a drawer and handed them to him. He drew a crude male face, much like his own, with mussed hair, ears, eyes and nose. Then he drew the mouth: turned downward in an inverted U creating the biggest and saddest frown possible.
“There,” Chili said. “A very accurate representation wouldn’t you say?”
Grace took a look and barked, “That’s not funny!”
“I know. The truth hurts sometimes.”
“I’m sorry, Chili.”
“Don’t be sorry.” He could see her eyes begin to water. “Do you have a calendar?”
Grace nodded and pulled a calendar off of a magnetic clip on the side of the refrigerator. Chili took it and turned the pages to several months hence.
“We both love the blues, right?” Chili said. Grace nodded. He was looking at the month of July. He figured it was a good time because he wouldn’t be too busy with work and it would be summer vacation for a school teacher. He circled a Friday in the middle of the month and handed the calendar to Grace.
“July fifteenth,” he said. “A Friday. Memphis, Tennessee, blues capital of the south. On July 15, at the Peabody Hotel, in the main lobby, a block from Beale Street. Say, two p.m., mid-way between the duck marches. I’ll be there.”
“Yeah. They have a bunch of ducks that live up on the roof. They come down in the elevator at eleven a.m. and march into the lobby and spend the day in this big fountain. Then they march back out at five.”
“Yeah. Anyway, Memphis is about the same distance from here as it is from where I live. And I’ll be there on July fifteenth. At two o’clock, waiting in the lobby. That gives you three months to figure things out.”
Grace plopped down in a chair at the table, taking it in.
“If you don’t show up, it’s okay, I’ll understand. I know there is a lot you need to consider. But if you do, you will be mine. And I will be yours.”
Chili circled around behind where Grace was seated. He massaged her shoulders and then lowered his hands to her silky breasts. He held them as he kissed her temple, then her cheek, then the corner of her mouth.
“Goodbye, Grace,” he said.
He walked back and picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. He picked up the cooler and raised it up.
“Thanks for this,” he said. Grace nodded.
He opened the door and turned to her and said, “I love you.” Then he was out the door and gone.
She got up from the table and walked to the window. She watched him drive away with tears trickling down her cheeks and dripping from her nose.
Chili drove for seven hours before stopping for the night. The whole drive was a blur, a dissociative daze, with large chunks of highway behind him and unremembered. It was a wonder he thought, that he hadn’t driven off the road.
He had no idea how he had come up with the idea of Memphis and the Peabody Hotel. It had just popped into his head. He knew it was only a last-second Hail Mary, with a slim chance of success, but he knew he had to do something. He knew they couldn’t be in any kind of contact, that would only muddy things up even more. But if he’d just flat walked out without that date on the calendar, then his slim prospects were less than zero.
Over the following months Chili busied himself as much as possible. He worked long hours and filled his spare time with numerous activities. He dated a couple times but both were disasters. He was lousy company, and he couldn’t help but compare them to Grace, and unfairly to them, they could never measure up.
He had dreams about her. In one he was standing in a long line on a ramp boarding a cruise ship. Grace was ten or twelve places ahead of him in line. She had a leg in a cast and was on crutches. He asked her about Benny and she said he was lost at sea. They talked about how they missed each other and how nice it would be to be on the cruise together so they could catch up and be together again. She boarded the ship and stood by the railing waiting for him. But only three more people after her were allowed on the ship when they shut the gate to the ramp and said they were filled to capacity, and started preparing to depart. He started screaming and tried to force his way forward but was fought back by the people in front of him. Grace was yelling to be allowed to get off and come back down the ramp but they wouldn’t let her off. The dream ended with them both calling to each other as the ship sailed off.
In another dream Chili and Grace were passengers in a helicopter. They were holding hands and looking out the window as they came in for a landing. They kissed and said goodbyes. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘I’ll see you in a couple days’, and jumped down onto the tarmac and the door slid shut behind him. He stood and watched as the craft rose up into the air and flew off. The copter passed over a wooded area in the distance and then descended and disappeared behind it. A moment later there was a huge explosion and a massive, kaleidoscopic blast of smoke and flames flashed high into the air from behind the trees.
Grace dreamt too. She was with Chili in the Vapor Room and it was difficult to see him through the thick smoke. Flash bulbs were going off over and over, and every time she reached for him he would evaporate or vanish into a plume of smoke or slide just out of her reach and she was frustrated because she couldn’t touch or hold him. Benny was yelling, ‘No kissing! No kissing!’ over and over and she awoke in sweaty frustration. Coincidentally, a few days after her dream Benny tried to stage another sexy trio in the Vapor Room, and as hard as he tried to convince her to do it, she flat-out refused. She expected a big fight from him later but it didn’t happen.
In the days leading up to July fifteenth Chili would hold the calendar in his hand and stare at the date. He would kiss it. Three months with no contact. A lot can happen in three months. You know what they say, out of sight, out of mind. He knew he was grasping at a short straw.
But on July fifteenth, he was in Memphis. He walked around town that morning. It was hot and humid and he was sweating bullets in minutes. He got off the street and into a diner to cool off, but he wasn’t hungry. He drank sweet tea and tried to read the newspaper.
He was in the lobby of the Peabody by one-thirty. He found a comfortable leather chair on the north side of the lobby with a good view of the front entrance.
The next half hour seemed like forever. He watched the businessmen in their suits and the tourists in their shorts and tropical shirts come and go. He looked at the huge grandfather clock nearby about every thirty seconds as time inched along. The closer it got to the time, the tenser and queasier and more fearful he became. When the clock struck two he felt a chill and gooseflesh broke out on his arms.
Nothing happened. He scanned the room, his eyes tracing back and forth again and again looking at every strange face hoping to find the familiar one.
At five minutes after he started to become afraid, even though he knew all along this was likely to happen. By 2:10 he wanted to cry.
Chili was suddenly in a deep trench of thought. At that moment something dawned on him. Memphis was in the Central Time Zone. Grace lived in the Eastern Time Zone. Memphis is an hour earlier. Maybe that’s it. Maybe she’s still on East Coast time. He’d have to wait another hour.
The loud voice broke his reverie. He looked up to see a large black man in a bellman’s uniform standing before him.
“Uh, yes, I’m Chili,” he mumbled.
“This is for you, Sir.” He handed him a letter-sized envelope.
“Oh, uh, thank you,” he said. He took out his wallet.
“No need, Sir. It’s taken care of,” the bellman said, and he walked away.
Chili looked at the envelope. It was the official stationery of the Peabody Hotel.
His shoulders slumped. His eyes glazed over. His sinuses clogged up. ‘At least she had enough class to let me know’, he thought. He didn’t open it right away. He nervously twirled it in his hands for several apprehensive minutes, anxiously delaying what he now knew was inevitable.
He took a deep breath and opened the envelope. There was a single piece of paper inside. ‘This is it’, he thought, ‘My Dear John letter’. He took the paper from the envelope and unfolded it and was surprised to see it was not on the Peabody letterhead. It was not a letter at all; in fact there was no writing at all on the page.
But what he saw was familiar. It was the rudimentary pencil drawing of his face that he’d drawn in Grace’s kitchen on the morning he’d left her. But the big downturned mouth had been erased, and it had been replaced with the biggest ear-to-ear grin the drawing would allow. In bright blue ink!
Chili felt paralyzed. He raised the paper to his nose. It was her all right, that clean, citrus sweetness. He looked up and his eyes panned the lobbyscape in front of him, once, twice: The check-in counter, the elevators, the concierge desk, the many faces. He stood up and took a couple steps forward for a different perspective and searched again.
He saw the dress before he saw her face. It was the same sexy floral sundress she’d worn on the day they went to the track. Her hair was shorter, but her deliciously tanned and toned body was the same, and a glorious sight for sore eyes. And even from afar he could see she wore no ring on her finger. Chili’s legs started propelling him toward her in a wobbly power walk as tears rolled down his cheeks. Grace moved toward him, more quickly with each step.
It is fortunate there were no serious injuries when they collided. They burst into each other’s arms and locked themselves together. Their mouths meshed into one and they kissed and hugged and twirled like a top. With their bodies clutched in a vise they did a thirty-second dance in the middle of the large lobby and performed an unexpected, impromptu floor show for the guests and the help and the ducks. A solid round of applause embarrassed them out of their trance.
They held one another close as they spoke their first words in three months.
“I love you,” he said.
“I love you,” she said.
“I was afraid you wouldn’t come.”
“I was afraid you wouldn’t want me anymore.”
“I’ve missed you so much it hurts.”
“I know how it feels, too.”
“The answer is still NO!”
Chili laughed. “You cut your hair.”
“Yes, I’m starting a new life. We are. It’s a wavy bob. Do you like it?”
“I love it. But it’s not long enough to cover all the hickies I’m going to give you.”
“You’ll have to put them on my thighs!”
“I reserved us a room upstairs.”
“So did I.”
They had a hard time keeping their hands off each other waiting for the elevator. When they reached the room they tore off their clothes and fell on the bed and instantly began catching up for lost time.
“I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been here. I’ve been going crazy thinking about making love and how good it is going to be,” Grace said.
“Get used to it,” Chili said, and he sucked her tongue into his mouth.
They made love for hours in all the ways they remembered and in some ways that were new. But no part of their bodies, no inch of their flesh went unkissed, unsucked, unfucked or unloved.
During one blissful intermission Grace said, “I have three interviews lined up with three different school systems near where you live.”
“Where we live,” Chili corrected.
“Right, where we live,” she said. “So, you’re okay with having me for your roommate?”