His Azure Adventure Ends

This concludes Intrigue the Boy and Three Kimonos.

    Gone that March 1978 Thursday night were Trevor’s shitkickers. His entire casual appearance, the being it conferred, had been exiled. Though technically still a greenhorn, he learned quickly. He bought another pair of Western boots specifically for decent social occasions as well as two-steppin’ and instructor-hosted events. Not only did he endeavor to keep the black leather glossy but the white stitching pristine.

    Absent also on this night were chinos and tees, replaced by tailored navy blue serge over a button-down shirt. One real-life tie whose Windsor knot was genuine completed the transformation that startled Delores. After he crossed her threshold, she smilingly stepped back, then circled to better assess “the wonder.”

   “Trev, you’re so decked out you look like you work for the Man. And damn if you don’t look sharp!”

     Uncertain about her inspection’s direction until the last, Trevor relaxed. Manly as he tried comporting himself, Delores’ flattery elicited a boyish grin. Her own casualness had also been discarded for the night.

     First and foremost, she had reddened her lips and rouged her cheeks. Since their last get-together Delores had thrown waves through her hair. Under her home’s lamps these swirls flashed titian highlights otherwise impossible when her tresses straight. This style further softened her face.

     While nowhere near as “sharp” as Trevor, Delores had topped her dark checked maxi-skirt with a black pullover. Western boots shod her feet, the heels lifting her noticeably, yet the skirt’s hem obscuring the leather’s stitching. Her footwear seemed strange. He was so used to seeing her barefoot or walking in huaraches.

     Thick silver and turquoise orbs limned her outfit’s severity. Dull bangles clanked around her wrists.

    Trevor complimented her outfit. Delores thanked him. Both voices imposed unnecessary gravity on an easy moment. Each heard the weight. Fraught silence ensued. He ended it.

    “I was thinking about a bolo instead of this tie.”

    “A bolo?”

    “But I didn’t want to be mistaken for a Rexall Ranger.”

    Delores laughed. “If that doesn’t work I can loan you a 1962 rodeo belt buckle. You tell the gang it’s your old man’s and they’ll call you Butch Cavendish.”

    The jibes dispelled their unease. Delores grabbed keys and purse. After he helped her into a light coat, she dimmed house lamps. They stepped lively into evening.

    A full moon hung low enough to silhouette Tucson’s jagged eastern horizon. It was chilly then. Several more hours of nighttime cooling and frost might sneak beneath carelessly covered flesh.

    They dined at a Greek restaurant on the northeast corner of Park Avenue and Sixth Street. Candles flickering on every table suitably augmented muted dining room light. Low kithara strumming played in the background. A few couples glanced at them upon entrance and on the meander to their table then quickly resumed murmured conversations.

    The aroma of slowly turned, highly-spiced lamb watered Trevor’s mouth. Once they were seated, brimming shot glasses of ouzo followed and a fried cheese appetizer was delivered shortly thereafter.

    This grown-up behavior with an actual adult delighted Trevor. Candlelight cast Delores in an especially fetching glow. Lumens from tallow lent her face a beatific shine.

    Ouzo. Cheese. A pungent and succulent main course. Wine. Delores. All plumped Trevor with almost childish giddiness. Voices hushed, discussion assumed an intimacy he believed closer to their bed-play. They could tell each other anything now – and mean it.

    As countless multitudes had before him, and surely would after, Trevor wondered whether life could offer any better than this single instance.

    Trevor nearly wanted to discontinue the remainder of their Thursday evening out. Were the matter up to him, they’d have skipped the movie, returned to Delores’ house, spending as much of the waking night verbally and physically entwined in each other. But she’d made quite clear how vital watching this movie was to her. He gathered the film recalled simpler happiness, hers. Surprisingly, of New York during the earliest 1960s.

    Being the approximate age then when she first arrived in the city, the decades spanning the two events had informed him. He surmised Manhattan had bewitched a younger Delores. She’d fallen irredeemably in love with it, or for a time in it. He heard it happened to plenty of out-of-towners. Native as Trevor was, how the city captivated outsiders eluded him. An older man in 2001, he could’ve answered the disconnect she presented him in 1978.

    Then, she’d tantalized by telling him, “You haven’t lived long enough yet to have much to reflect upon or regret. For you it’s all still looming ahead.”

    He’d mistaken her estimation for some deep, maybe mystical point. Now, Trevor knew hers simply bald truth.

    After he and Lesley had finished making love again, Trevor re-dimmed the hotel room lamps. Unlike many of their contemporaries burdened by moral fetters (a k a, the St. Augustine Dilemma), both preferred their agreeable intimacies under clear luminance than sinful shade. Done though, he liked the setting darkened, if possible. Silly Trevor. Mental re-immersion in matters just enjoyed extended his pleasure. Less light facilitated his memory.

    Some women understood. A few didn’t.

    In repose, Lesley had let him speak at length. Probably because during their much earlier thrashing only meager phrases had passed between them. Trevor recalled embracing her in another Tucson, in different beds, confined on other surfaces, and hoped she’d considered his purposeful attentiveness “cuddling.”

    The student had absorbed the lesson: women preferred such reassurance once climax leveled off and ecstasy dissipated. Only bliss remained. That was should he have fulfilled her pleasure as much as his own.

    Despite absence, the inexorable changes they presented each other in November 2001, Lesley still felt good against him. Or was theirs simply memory of the flesh?

    They cleaved so one could nearly believe a heat seal bound them. Her lips and nose still had ways of grazing from his earlobe along a jawline to chin that stirred. Trevor wondered whether her gesture reflexive or intentional, and did she know its effect on him. To ask, obviously, would’ve sated his curiosity; to ask also would’ve introduced a pang. He regretted not querying Lesley much earlier when her answer might’ve redirected both their futures.

    Before she could quiz him, Trevor said, “La Belle et le Bete.”

    “Beauty and the Beast?”

    “Either I don’t remember the particulars, or Delores never told me, or I never asked, but she’d seen the movie before,” he said. “Become entranced by it, I guess, at the Paris Theater. A movie house in Manhattan that features French flicks.”

    Referring to Delores’s initial advent in Gotham, Lesley said, “Maybe she’d just arrived from, where, Cleveland? And watching a French movie at the Paris Theater in oh-my-God! New York City was her ‘Toto, this ain’t Cleveland!’ moment.”

    “Could’ve been,” Trevor said. “A pretty serious crowd attends the Paris. No popcorn movies there. You remember the Loft. The rickety, old, firetrap Loft?”

    Lesley nodded. He continued.

    “We watched it there. She saw it there again, transfixed. Well, movies more substantial than Rocky Horror Picture Show brought out the cineaste and cinasty Tucson movie audiences. Their to-the-the-screen directed comments matched what you might’ve heard had you seen chop-socky flicks in pre-Rudy Times Square. But let me give Tucsonan gasbags this: they were way more erudite than the riff-raff who’d come in on the 2 or 3. But erudition aside, T-town comments often stunk worse than the Gauloises they sucked down.”

    Lesley returned to the crux. “Not hard to imagine a first-timer being bedazzled in New York. I sure was. If there’s ever another first time, I’m hiring a city-slicker to guide me around and remind me not to stare at all the tall buildings so much.”

    The movie’s moral issued and Cocteau’s admirers released to smother nicotine fits as well as transfuse film commentary, Delores and Trevor rushed back to her house. During the moon’s ellipsis, cold had clamped down on the desert. Their heels sharply striking pavement ought have thrown sparks.

    Restored to her home, Delores asked Trevor to start a fire. This surprised him because he only expected to deliver, not retain her there. Here was the first time she’d invited him to stay the night. By the humor riding along her response, Trevor gathered his expression incredulous.

    Winsomely, she asked, “Do you want to stay?”

    He watched as she removed her jewelry. Delores made this cumbersome process graceful. Trevor ended his trance.

    “Won’t it be a bother?”

    “Who would it bother?” Delores said. “Yes, I have to get up fairly early for the Eagle, but I’ll catch a siesta before the Ranch. I can do that, you know. Or maybe you have something pressing tomorrow …”

    The sole matter occupying his next day was the end of Spring Break. Immediately Trevor felt stupid. Worse than that, like a teenage boy. There was Delores – a woman for crying out loud! – presenting him better than an engraved invitation to spend the night and he responded dopily. Certainly courtesy had its place. However, since she’d rolled out the red carpet, the least he should have done was walk it.

    Had Delores been clairvoyant, could she have rescued Trevor from his predicament, salved his ego, and revived his esteem any smoother than she did? No. She chased away his reluctance through dismissal.

    “ … So start the fire, Trev.”

    Delores vanished into her bedroom while he moved aside the fireplace grate and opened the flue. That done Trevor gathered newspaper and tinder. He recognized the newsprint to be sacrificed as their earlier crossword efforts. Trevor grinned, comprehending the prior days’ leaps and bounds.

    The kindling selected satisfied him. He rigged a nest between andirons then tugged several chunks from the woodpile and spanned metal with them. Beneath the bridge he triggered the starters into flame. Dry wood sped the proper engulfment. So much so Trevor really needn’t have poked the logs but he involuntarily thrust the fire iron nonetheless. The blaze drawing well, he reinstalled the fire screen.

    While he’d readied the fire, Delores had finished removing her jewelry, boots, clothing, returning to her living room swaddled in blankets. She converted the sofa, then spread several covers onto the bed. Delores wasted little time sliding between linen and woolen layers above.

    Both watched the licking and lapping flames intensify.

    “There’s something primal about fire,” Delores stated.

    “Every desert party I’ve been at has had a fire,” Trevor said. “Kegs, too. All those times became pretty primal. So yeah, you’re right.”

    She laughed harder than he’d ever heard her before. Once she calmed, he said, “Glad I amuse you.”

    Flames danced on her face and along her eyes. Delores reached out from beneath the covers and gestured.

    “Come to bed and make me happy, Trev.”

    After, pressed tight against him, surpassing the hearth’s warmth, Delores did a strange thing. She took their idyll and inquired about his life, his aspirations. Trevor’s life had been short, his plans then unformed. She’d put him on the spot.

    He stumbled through both ends as best he could. The funny thing, the memorable thing, no, the most impressive thing, was Delores’ accepting his inconsequential meanderings, the half-baked rushed natterings of a direction-skewed youth, as significant. Hearing himself speak, Trevor heard foolishness cascading from his mouth. Her responses, thoughtful, carefully tendered, which an older man heard as echoes, made him reconsider.

    Perhaps he hadn’t been mewling. Somehow hadn’t Delores given the mundane and quotidian importance? Throughout what ensued after Trevor would refer to this instance in amber. Right or wrong, it became his plateau with her. This the one his string of subsequent romances were measured against. Such a ridiculously high bar unnaturally thwarted his future prospects for finding contentment.

   Spring Break ended. Campus life resumed speed. After its hiatus, rugby started again. Imperceptibly at first, the gulf between night and day temperatures lessened. Sunset ceased being jarring, becoming milder until May when days abruptly started topping 100° and evenings gratefully bestowed sighing relief.

    Now that Trevor had found personal “purpose,” life became hectic. Figured. Papers, preparations for finals, rugby matches, mindless camaraderie, ramped-up partying, all nibbled away upon the effort he ought have paid Delores. Although their frequency together declined, the fervor behind their sex increased.

    He likened this whole time to riding a rollercoaster on mushrooms. Rather than daunt him, it exhilarated. Compressed time also instilled in him discipline.

    Trevor’s life already feeling surreally compacted, Delores informed him of a wedding. Hers.

    Somehow the news fit his newly topsy-turvy world. Instead of rocking him, her gale merely buffeted. Delores waited to reveal her impending change in relationships until a righteously exhaustive session in late April.

    Large pedestal fan directed on the midafternoon bed notwithstanding, they gratefully made one another sweat profusely. Skins soaked, sanguine from such close contact, sheets damp, she probably calculated these the proper conditions to reveal her jumping the broom.

    Limp masses of Delores’ hair threaded among his finger. Their embrace was loose enough to have been mistaken as tenuous. Foreshadowing had nothing to do with the distance; it aided the fan’s cooling them. Neither Delores nor Trevor swore eyes off the other. Not knowing what to think, he spoke.

    “You and me, we’ve only been together so you’d get even with this guy somehow?”

    “Taking somebody to bed for revenge is kid stuff, Trev.”

    “I hear a whole lot of adults like reliving their childhoods,” he said. “Aren’t there soap operas dedicated to that kind of serial acting up?”

    Delores didn’t sigh. Instead, determination in her voice perked up his ears.

    “Trev, I confess being selfish. But I’ll never admit to being vindictive. Or devious – especially when my intent was neither. We’re here, we’ve been here because I wanted my last man before my march down the aisle to have been special. And you proved me right.”

    Lesley asked, “Was that when you knew you could become insufferable with impunity?”

    Playing it up, he feigned insufferable smugness, saying, “That was the moment which confirmed what I already knew.”

    Delores continued.

    “You’ve reminded me of how good it was to be happy and carefree. Ah, don’t mash those two together and make ‘careless’ out of them. I needed to feel that loose aliveness one last time. Because Trev, we exchange vows, rings, I’ll become the most upright adult you’ll ever see. I’ll become so responsible I’ll fade into soft gray.”

    Trevor told Lesley, “She said she’d become the type of wife who should her past intersect with that present, her new circle would say with dignified certainty ‘Why, that’s not Delores at all. We know Delores. This is Delores.’”

    “Who do you call that?” Lesley asked. “An idol? A paragon? Virtue personified?”

    “The wrong person is asking another wrong person,” Trevor said.

    Delores settled the matter. “This is what I’m holding onto. It’ll be the rock in case matrimony gets too defined and restrictive.”

    Crowing, she added, “Besides, Trev, our sex has been great!”

    Later in life, much later during life, did Trevor come to appreciate Delores’ manipulative ease. Her appealing to his vanity moved mountains.

    “Don’t hate me, Trev.”

    Defensive, he said, “I don’t. I couldn’t. But what about your fiancé?”

    “He’s why we haven’t seen each other over the weekends,” she said. “I’m with him then.”

    “And the other four days when he’s out of sight,” Trevor said, “wonder if he’s doing the same to you? Behind your back.”

    Delores smirked. “One-way fidelity must be a wonderful concept.” Drollery aside, she shrugged. “I respect that what he does before we’re married is his business. I know he’s man enough to grant me same leeway. If we carry on like this afterwards, well, then things’ll get testy.”

    Surprising himself, Trevor did not sulk. Petulance failed blackening his attitude. In some imperceptive way he realized someone vital was escaping his grasp. And he’d let her because that’s what circumstances demanded. Kicking and screaming, every ounce of his might arrayed in prevention or delay would prove futile. Or worse, hasten the inevitable.

    “Are you furious with me, Trev?”

    He sighed involuntarily. She pulled him closer. Trevor conceded.

    “I’m glad we had our time together. And I can only hope someday to be as lucky as your … him.”

    Nothing else remained to be said concerning the matter. Delores respected his wish of knowing nothing about her betrothed. Whether he doctor or miner, younger or older (likely the latter, probably some grandfatherly codger in his ancient 50s), cultured or rustic, Trevor didn’t care.

    The two simply wiled away one of their dwindling afternoons in quiet contact.

    He told Lesley, “I’m glad she didn’t give me that ‘plenty of fish in the sea; you’ll find another’ spiel. Because yeah, there are plenty of others, but there’s always just the one. Plenty never makes up for that singular special.”

    Naturally after these words left his mouth, Trevor wondered whether Lesley might’ve felt slighted having been among his “multitude.” A place on his string she’d known. Especially since she’d followed the woman he’d recognized as his “One.”

    Discomfort made him tighten his embrace around Lesley.

    Freshman year ended. The semesters had been nowhere near as dislocating as he’d been warned. Trevor had done his best. He’d carried himself through without shame. Or better, not getting arrested; best, never having been invited to see his college’s dean.

    Delores summoned him two afternoons ahead of his charter flight back to New York. The hour broiled. Whip as sol did, all he lacked was a calliope, chair and top hat. Instead of the whitest t-shirt in his bureau, the day begged for a garment peculiar to an Easterner’s sense of decorum: the scoop. Having worn it, Trevor might’ve as well forsaken any shirt altogether.

    Overheated, Trevor gladly entered the shade of her home. Between her own walls, barefoot as usual, Delores had thrown on the swamp cooler. The sudden chill prickled his skin. He even breathed easier.

    That second next to last day a white basic sundress sufficed for Delores. The slip contrasted how the sun had had deeply burnished her face, shoulders and arms. Under Sonoran skies both had darkened. Except his polarization was far more pronounced. Again, though, it was one of those gradual transformations which needed to have been acknowledged from without by another.

    Seated, Trevor presented and gratefully receiving a cool drink, the lovers talked around the unavoidable. He expressed confidence in rather than relief of his finals. He relayed that his father had secured him a summer job at his firm. Doing what unknown. Not working together, certainly, but the younger could glimpse what had provided his life’s succor; the elder gauging whether his toil justified. From near or afar who knew yet?

    Trevor found the “adult prospect” scary and exciting. Delores pronounced a wish to give him gifts. He couldn’t imagine what remained to be bestowed. An afternoon before, they’d made meaningful love one last time. Or at least their final sex had been fraught with greater meaning than most prior comminglings.

    Delores rose and padded into the crucifer that was her bedroom. She returned bearing a box. No wrapping, no ribbon, no bow. An unadorned box, whose dimensions might’ve suited shirts. This cardboard held shorts. Three silk boxer shorts. His gratitude given, Delores insisted he model each. There. That moment.

    “No need bothering guessing your size,” Delores said.

    Since their start, Trevor had learned to disrobe with less effort. He found her appraising eyes running along his body far less stressful now.

    Wonderful as the material had felt under his touch against her, expressly upon him it became exquisite. After each change Delores gestured him forward where she ran palms along his augmented lower contours. Wearing them stirred arousal. Her firm hands shook him further.

    Lesley raised her head off his chest. She peered over the bed edge onto the floor. Trevor gathered her sight fixed on the dark shimmering folds pooling where he’d stepped from them earlier. Confirmed, she again rested against him.

    “So that’s how you started,” Lesley said.

    “The originals have long been donated,” he said. “Like back then I only wear them on, uh, social occasions. Or what I hope will lead to social occasions. You can’t wear silk to work or while involved in a matter needing focus. They’re so easily, um, distracting. They make it hard to think.”

    “From what I’ve seen they make a lot more than thinking hard,” Lesley said.

    His next to last day in Tucson Trevor visited Delores at the Silver Dollar Bakery. Perfect blue swept the morning sky. Nonetheless the sun promised punishment as it climbed higher.

    Delores dispensed one radiant smile upon him. It was his preferred remembrance of her.

    “So,” she said, “this is it. You’re gone. Back to the big city.”

    “Yup,” he said. “Back to civilization.”

    “Oh? That what you call it?”

    “That’s what it answers to.”

    Strangely nothing remained to be said between them. They were beyond lingering heartfelt farewells. The fissure was spreading into a gulf. Even there she started becoming a past tense, one he wouldn’t fully acknowledge until months later. He ascribed that to intuition, a woman’s attribute. Yet he could still feel her against him. He believed, or preferred believing, their separation would leave him uninjured. Trevor hadn’t counted on being changed, though. Full one moment, her absence emptying him the next.

    Obvious to Trevor; if Delores shared his sense, she hid hers masterfully.

    Days earlier, Delores had refrained from insisting they exchange letters. After all, she’d be honeymooning. Receiving and sending letters to her former lover, a younger stud at that, might’ve raised graceless questions. In other words, “testiness” all around.

    Their last intimate afternoon, wasn’t that the interlude she’d reminded him (insisted?) theirs had been “an adventure. Not an affair”?

    Had they not been so immersed, okay, had he not been so preoccupied, mightn’t he have inquired after her declaration? But who bothered deciphering riddles while bound in a lover’s affection? The question only engaged him clearer-headed years later.

    About his August return, future dynamics waited on the horizon. After so much exchanged joy what would they be? Who would they become? If anything. But they were adults. Weren’t these the sort of roundelays adults eventually solved?

    All talked out with plenty remaining unsaid, Trevor departed the bakery. He last saw Delores head bowed, eyes low, attending another customer.

    Digression aside, Trevor resumed explaining to Lesley.

    “So I roll back in August. Hot as piss as New York can be, summer is torrid here. The sun is a hammer; your head the anvil.”

    He’d begun reacclimatizing by swapping summer fuck-stories with fellow dorm residents. Cases upon cases of Colorado Kool-Aid loosened tongues and embellished telling. Most of this re-socialization transpired on the building’s front stairway. Beyond the necessity of young men drinking beer, since their address was an un-air-conditioned relic and given nighttime temperatures slapping the high 90s, they resorted en plein air. Several days into beer and sweat and exaggerating into lying, Trevor’s curiosity reached super-saturation.

    “I’d hoped to stay away from Delores’ house, her work places until at least September. You know, show a little discipline. Well, I sucked at math.”

    Matriculation finished, and too early in the late August afternoon to buy a case, Trevor ambled along Sixth Street. Reflective heat off the pavement threatened singeing his nostril hairs. Even with eyes guarded behind sunglasses and under a straw hat’s wide brim the street was bright, the light fading all but the boldest tints.

    He passed the Silver Dollar and bee-lined for the Hoagie Ranch.

    Ducking into the Ranch straightened his posture. His breathing eased. Trevor peeled the shades from across his eyes then tipped the brim back off his forehead. Other than an unfamiliar waitress, the Ranch remained the same. A Marshall Tucker and rah-rah kind of joint.

    Trevor called to the grill man. Having been a specific day regular, the cookie remembered him immediately. The pair caught up fast. Trevor asked about Delores.

    “Gone since July,” was the reply. “Married one day, gone the next.”

    Her disappearance left Trevor undisturbed. What? Barely two months. He figured she’d probably landed another job. “Something dependable, with benefits.” Trevor smiled to himself. The summer’s demands and his father’s mantra (as close to a mantra as his father ever got) had latched deeply into him. The old man would’ve been proud his boy had wised up. Demonstrably so, finally.

    Trevor chanced the walk over to Delores’ nearby house. About halfway through the stroll his t-shirt became sopping white cotton plastered against his upper torso. His shitkickers raised heavier than usual dust. Hadn’t a dust devil had blown through Tucson shortly before his arrival? Of course. He “splashed” through the dry torrent’s equivalent of standing water.

    A Realtor’s “For Rent” post pegged into Delores’ front yard was unexpected. Unsure steps led him along the cracked walkway to her door. Or what had been her door. He checked her mailbox. Nothing but accumulated sand. He sidestepped to a window and peered inside. Dark emptiness returned his gaze.

    Sweat beaded trails down his forehead. A forearm swipe swept them away.

    Stubborn, Trevor walked around to the side holding Delores’ bedroom. The chamber she forbade him entry. He imagined that off-limits citadel displayed all her secrets. Not that he would’ve exploited any.

    At her former bedroom window he again saw nothing. A curtain or a blanket blocked his view, maintaining speculation.

    Admitting temporary defeat, Trevor left.

    Next morning before hot became blistering, he visited the Silver Dollar Bakery. One of its owners clerked the counter.

    The old woman greeted him with genuine effusion. So pleased to see him again after the summer, she presented Trevor her just conjured “Welcome Back Special!” of a cruller and an éclair with his cheese danish purchase. He hadn’t realized what a good customer he’d indeed been. Either that or Delores had sung his praises. In the sweet tooth area.

    Their small talk led to her.

    The old woman had attended the July wedding. She cried then because of the brittle beauty revealed that afternoon. She verged on a weepy repeat but time, distance, decorum and regained control each presently reasserted itself.

    Like the Hoagie Ranch grill man, the bakery proprietress had no idea of the newlyweds’ whereabouts. Using alliteration, she suggested “Perhaps Sonoma, Santa Fe or Sedona.”

    Perhaps indeed.

    There being no way to pump her further without arousing suspicions greater than “confectionary interest,” Trevor thanked the baker graciously. He also reassured her of his continued patronage throughout the semester.

    Trevor stepped outside were broiling became “how long” and not “if.” He reconciled his frustration. Delores was gone. Unalterably gone. He shook his head, sucked his teeth, cursed under his breath. Only after all that did he decide to proceed beyond disappointment.

    The milk had spilt; besides, it had already evaporated.

    He told Lesley, “A tantrum simply would’ve made hell hotter.”

    She asked how he responded.

    “I moved on,” Trevor said. “Literally and mentally. Soon enough Delores faded into a little visited spot way in the back of my mind. Isn’t that the best thing about being young? Getting over your hurts quicker. Same thing happen now I’d be bedridden.”

    Lesley scoffed at him. “You’re a man! You’d only stay bedridden until Sportscenter came on. Anyway all that stuff is less urgent now. You never get it that bad when you’re older.”

    “Shit,” he said, “I hope not. But you know in my 30s, when I started clearing the mental underbrush of my 20s, and one after another my running crew dropped into steadier, safer habits with steady and safe women, she began imposing herself again on the forefront of my mind.”

    “Imagine that!” Lesley exclaimed. “Nestled in your head all those years just waiting to pounce.”

    Trevor let her snide remark slither past. He said, “Normally I avoid ‘what if?’ Can our lives be calculated on speculation? Nope.”

    “What? You too grounded to torture yourself by wondering how your life might’ve gone if you’d turned left instead of right, or taken the elevator instead of the stairs on a certain day?”

    “Ah!” Trevor said. “You’ve been gonged. Sometimes I do consider how life might’ve turned if I’d zigged rather than zagged. Once I asked myself ‘Wonder if Delores had been nine years younger and I’d been nine years older then?’”

    Lesley observed each would’ve been 27. “Then.”

    “Wonderful,” he said. “You did that without a calculator.”

    She pressed forward. “The same age at the same time calibration never works, Trev.”

    He asked why not. Lesley answered.

    “Like everybody else who does it, you’re seeing yourself as older but with younger vision. In your case an 18-year-old turned 27 with a constant boner. Then you compound that by envisioning her having lost the years while keeping the experience. Or plainly put, do you remember what an asshole you were at 27?”

    Trevor was indignant. “We didn’t know each other at 27! Anyway, how the fuck do you know I was an asshole?”

    “Trev, I met tons of 27-year-old men between then and now. All the straight ones have been dicks. Believe me, none of you guys started becoming decent until after 30.”

    To a certain extent Lesley might’ve been correct. But damn if he’d concede that to her! Lesley’s exasperation filled the silence between them.

    “In any case, all I’m saying is neither of you would’ve been the same people.”

    She reared and clasped his face between her palms. This compelled him to focus solely on her. Conciliatory tones leavened Lesley’s voice.

    “But the sentiment is still sweet.”

    Lesley kissed him. Her mouth fully engulfed his. Yearning for her overhauled his surprise. Trevor hadn’t been kissed greedily after seemingly forever. To have found that fulfillment would’ve required crossing with a woman he truly desired.

    Lips finally parting, they gazed stupefied at another.

    Half a lifetime had passed since their last blissful convergence. He sensed she shared his strengthening reconnection. He saw fright in her eyes, always a good sign in these ambivalent instances of weakening detachment. Slowly her professional resistance frittered away. How soon until it diminished into an ache needing true soothing?

    She asked, “Was ours an adventure or an affair? Or were we just each other’s fling?”

    Lesley’s cell phone trilled. His answer was lost.