Trevor couldn’t certify the moment Delores monopolized his horizon. Though certainly a presence from Arizona Day One, she remained undistinguished for what seemed his longest hours.
To him, Delores personified gravitas. More so than any other older figures he should’ve respected outside his parents. Not just her face, whose age she made zero attempts to soften, but through her comportment. Callow as he was then, Trevor knew hers was an assuredness he might acquire only upon reaching quite distant 30.
Delores was an older woman. Maybe that’s why he immediately deferred himself to her once their relationship careened into intimacy. They were neither contemporaries nor peers yet as their time together grew he gradually felt becoming her equal. That was she allowed him to rise to her stature.
Initially, he reckoned Delores 10 years his senior. Wrong. Once in passing, Delores revealed herself twice his age. Neither spoke of it again. An older man marveled how such an age disparity hadn’t worked against them. Usually that attraction/power favored a male-female coupling, no?
At 18, then 24 years later in a hotel bed with Lesley, Trevor saw Delores clearly. She’d been pretty in a plain manner. Tall, lean, tanned, her long rust-tinged brown hair pulled into a ponytail, Trevor became acquainted with Delores through her work. And she worked two jobs.
Mornings, Delores’ high forehead, mirthless eyes, button nose, thin lips, resolute jaw and meager carriage could be viewed behind the Silver Dollar Bakery counter. The Silver Dollar sat among a jumble of businesses on a stuffed stretch of Tucson’s Sixth Street, all of which catered to students and faculty at the university across the street.
Reputation ran the Silver Dollar baked the best cheese danish in Tucson. If the proof were in the eating, then Trevor’ considered it indisputable through his nearly ritual morning purchases. He went for the pastry. He came away with Delores as a never expected bonus.
Odd thing about the Silver Dollar, the farther one gazed into the establishment, the murkier it became. Instead of depending on overhead sources, a good portion of its illumination derived through the shop’s display windows and glass door. Trevor supposed had the outside pavement not been so bright and refractive the store would’ve been a cave. Even vitrine cases benefited more from the indirect light than the bulbs shining above the shelves.
Several storefronts away, Delores waitressed late afternoons into evenings at the Hoagie Ranch. A typical college hangout/sandwich emporium, the Ranch moored its motif soundly between rah-rah and Marshall Tucker.
While specializing in greasy club roll savories larded with fried onions and jalapenos, beer was the address’ main draw. Particularly on Fridays when tariffs on imported hops dropped low enough for even the most tapped-out freshmen to swill pre-Happy Hour cold ones like beer barons.
Given the opposing comestibles, Trevor found Delores more personable mornings than afternoons. Early hours smiles softened her precipitous cheekbones, while the grins themselves belied her spare lips.
Throughout Trevor knowing her she never wore shorts. At places of employment nor home. Stovepipe jeans or corduroys always encircled her waist and encased her legs at work. When Tucson broiled, peasant blouses hung off her shoulders; flannel shirts during snowbird season.
Huaraches were Delores’ standard footwear. Could the woman then lying beside him been anymore different? Sartorially as well in regards to attitude. Male vanity would’ve had Lesley as Delores’ successor but reality and the woman he recognized and let get away and thence acknowledged as The One spaced them two years apart.
He recounted a plentitude during a November 2001 night, inside a hotel room whose lighting had been dimmed down to moody. Otherwise little else distinguished this habitation. In absurd circumstances sleeping guests might awake and momentarily not know where they lodged. Wasn’t this the sort of condition that behooved guests to tote their own wildcards? Trevor’s wildcard, interlocutor, listener, lifetime-ago liaison, Lesley.
They met, no, they reconnected by chance. And it wasn’t cute either.
Lesley had been a classmate. An age appropriate ready one under a blunt auburn bob and bangs.
Fit, firm and feminine when unappreciative male gazes judged these features mutually exclusive, Lesley showcased strong lines and curves through scooped tops and tight shorts. Lesley’s favorite footwear, flip-flops, naturally hindered haste. Which was fine because swaying through these loose soles accentuated her behind’s further arousing shake. Even more so when she wore shifts whose waist- and hemlines somehow conspired into an artful swish and shudder.
Hadn’t there been occasions – oh, many! – that Trevor had hung back more to enjoy male reaction in Lesley’s wake than her show itself? When informed of her entertainment value decades later, Lesley took it as her due.
At least their 22-year separation hadn’t altered that aspect of their prior link. It had been fun and physical and intense between them, though seldom serious. And even those rare occasions either might’ve considered “genuine” had been forced. Again, how unlike with Delores.
Trevor mustn’t look hard to rediscover the winsome eyes and full lips which wordlessly promised plenty. Lesley had been fortunate in that intervening years hadn’t weighed her. His mind didn’t need clouds of fog and rolls of gauze to envision her as “before.” Her 42 could’ve shamed plenty of 30-year-olds. He hoped she found his 42 as equally appealing.
“I could go into rapture talking about those danish,” Trevor said.
“Skip the pastry,” Lesley said. “Dish on about your sweetie!”
Immersed in the strange West, away from his familiar East, it took Trevor awhile until he fully discerned Delores’ from the other new faces. She distinguished him soon enough. After all, he became familiar after steady mornings and as a Friday fixture.
Mornings, he often appeared alone. Some cordiality sprung up during these unrushed instants. Later, Fridays, she harried, he unmoored and caroming with other boundless youths, almost guttural shorthand sufficed between the pair.
“I was aware of her,” Trevor told Lesley. “But until she opened that door and dragged me inside, I never thought she paid me any special mind.”
Despite the distances, he and Lesley had resumed their former post-coital, post-cuddling simplicity. That point where she didn’t require tender reassurance and he needn’t trouble himself wondering whether he’d fulfilled his attentiveness quotient. He’d reclined into the hands clasped behind head mien of someone conjuring remembrance; atop his broad chest’s hairy expanse she’d folded hands into a plinth upon which her chin balanced.
A mild evening, or the room heated through their exertions, allowed him to crack a window. Occasional outbursts of vehicular noise or raised voices intruded into the duo’s sixth-floor hot sheet sanctum.
“What?” Lesley said. “Just because she wasn’t mooning all over you? The sidelong glances that lingered a second too long, the hastily averted eyes, my friend, inform thoroughly.”
Ah! What he missed about Lesley. Well, if there had been something else other than her eagerness to engage in sex on demand that matched his, a structure upon which a sustainable foundation might’ve been erected, was her love of language and refusal to countenance imposed sentimentality. The first rewarded cleverness; the second punished mawkishness.
After all, they had shared syllabus whose list ran rampant with Restoration plays.
“Then I missed both signs,” Trevor said. “Absolutely. Delores pretty much beat me over the head. And after that she still had to wade through a lot of my blindness.”
“No way you could’ve been that dense, Trev.”
“Lesley, if I’d been any denser my initials would’ve replaced ‘lead’ on the periodic table. Besides, her eyes were never as limpid as yours.”
Months into his first year, Trevor’ morning route had entered muscle memory. So Delores’ deviation one day unbalanced him. Rote greetings done, she inquired about his class schedule. She rattled off easy questions which flattered him. Beats passed before he caught up enough to ask how she knew his program.
A curious Trevor wanted to know whether she possessed ESP. A giant grin rounded Delores’s face.
“I wish!” she said. “Your voice carries. I can pick it out when we’re down the street.”
“Sorry. I didn’t know I was Mr. Megaphone.”
“You’re not loud,” she said. “Your voice is sharp. Like a whip. It and what you say are distinct. At least distinct from the ordinary delinquent bullshit. I tune that out by habit.”
Trevor asked the content of “delinquent bullshit.”
“Pussy and beer,” Delores stated. “As it will ever be. I like how you speak. You’re a grad student? A TA? A tutor?”
His true lowly status mildly surprised her. She didn’t embarrass either one of them by realizing her error and fussing over it. He understood her gesture remarkable, that hers was significant, yet he lacked background enough for an in-kind rejoinder. She shortened the silence from his side.
“It must be wonderful being 18.”
Instinct told him her non sequitur was a lifesaver. Trevor spoke more to himself than her.
“I don’t know. I’m really too busy being 18 to notice.”
His remark forced honest laughter from both. This eased him. Trevor wondered what else had he revealed about himself. Delores happily divulged information. Helpful practical enthusiasm relaxed him.
“You’re learning German. That’s smart. I know Spanish is the common choice, especially down here so close to Mexico. But if, when, you do visit Europe, German will be handy in a lot of other countries. And French, learn French too. For art. And beauty.”
Delores confessed she spoke all three. Among other tongues. She offered to help his German proficiency. Trevor only heard the offer, not its ulterior meaning. The oblique stress beneath it escaped him. He gladly accepted her favor. She recited her address and phone number which the schoolboy dutifully transcribed upon a treasured scrap of paper.
Having informed, Delores probed further. “You, uh, play rugby, Trev.”
After his affirmation, she proceeded. “You guys are supposed to hold some wicked wild parties – is it true?”
“Wicked?” Lesley interjected. “Did she mean ‘wicked’ in the evil sense? Or ‘wicked’ in the drunken debauch into depraved nearly indifference stage?”
“Why is it not strange you remember those nights?” Trevor asked.
“Thanks to you and your degenerate deviant teammates, to this day I leave no drink unattended or unobserved,” Lesley said.
The sudden fever in Delores’ eyes alerted Trevor that she burned to hear ill-repute. He thought it wise not to yank any rabbits from that particular hat. His white lie was an effusive, “Naaah! Not us!”
His insincerity derailed Delores. The diversion allowed him escape.
“So,” Lesley said, “you took up her offer of, what was it? Studying? Practice?”
“Yes I did.”
“That first time you brought along your little German book, thinking she really meant ‘practice’ and not patty cake?”
“Yes I did.”
“Did you feel the most stupid you’d ever been until then when it finally dawned she intended taking you down an entirely different road of communicating?”
“Yes I did.”
October. Midweek. Late-afternoon after the daily wind shear had sliced through. A low-hanging sun threw long eastward shadows.
Delores resided in an adobe house just south of Sixth Street. These structures commonly comprised entire Tucson neighborhoods. Her single-story rented square sat amid arid Sonora Desert. Between two broad steps rising toward her door and high curb, a cracked gritty cement strip. Prickly pear wreathed by blue-green palo verde broke up her otherwise barren front yard. Decades of windblown sand had scored and discolored the house’s lower portion. Attached to the rear a wooden fence, weathered silvery gray, enclosed what served as her backyard.
Until arriving in Tucson, Trevor had never understood “unprepossessing.”
The stark exterior belied the dark hominess within. Heavy curtains, not shades or blinds, thwarted sunlight. Sage incense joined Delores in greeting him at her doorway. She met him barefoot.
Delores had traded shifts. She’d shaken off work garments for a knee-length, mauve sundress. Thin silver and turquoise bangles and rings now bound her thin wrists and fingers as well as encircled her neck. Free of confinement, her hair hung thick and lank.
For a quick moment Trevor imagined her as a Georgia O’Keefe redux.
Delores’ broad smile accompanied her invitation to enter. Tribal inspired throw rugs protected portions of a glossy wood floor.
During his Intermountain residence, Trevor would become familiar with the predominant regional interior design statement. Delores had a little fun with it. The Southwestern decorating styles amused him. Yet as years advanced these distinct accents succumbed to the sort of homogeneity that blands from sea to shining sea.
Kachinas and fetishes atop the fireplace mantle and below a wall-mounted bleached steer skull nicely offset boldly designed blankets across her couches and seats. Delores even dedicated a small make-believe shrine to the Virgin in her front room. It had to have been kitsch. If she were a true believer, that tabernacle would’ve sat in her bedroom lighted by candles.
Nonetheless, angled on a nearby wall a Jesus browner than plenty of Southern Baptists ever could’ve tolerated as their redeemer, lord and savior, looked down in benevolence. Opposite Him not only the requisite Blood and Sand movie poster but also one for Endless Summer. Black and white photographs snapped on either side of the Mexican border spackled the walls.
Other than the home’s mistress, what most captivated Trevor about her living room was the velvet portrait unfurled across the enclosure’s last innocent space. On it an Aztec warrior defended some hapless maiden against one enormous snake.
He wondered how she had avoided having hoisted a wagon wheel on a wall.
His inventory complete, Trevor told his hostess, “I don’t know why exactly, but I like what you’ve done here.”
She laughed at his unqualified praise then invited him to sit. He sunk in a couch and slapped a German textbook on the nearby low table. Seeing the book lifted Delores’s eyebrows in mirth. She recovered smoothly and sat beside him.
Several fashion magazines fanned across the piece of furniture at their knees. An ashtray and a black hardcover novel also crowded the table. Trevor handled the book. He was unfamiliar with the author.
“Who’s Eve Babitz?” he asked.
A knowing smile edged along Delores’s face. He tried to place the timbre in her voice. The only aural comparison available issued from either of his parents when some vital matter urgently needed being unforgettably cemented inside his head.
“Eve Babitz is an extremely wise and experienced woman you would do well learn. Reading her will make you a better man.”
“Okay,” Lesley said. “Who is Eve Babitz?”
“Think of a West Coast version of Erica Jong,” Trevor said. “And the Eagles form the soundtrack, not Barry Manilow.”
Through Delores’ insistence he would create interest, space and time for Eve Babitz. But she sat for later. German this evening’s reason, ostensibly.
“Declensions are killing me,” Trevor said. “The rules are knotting my brain!”
“Yup,” Delores said. “Learning German has that effect. But once you master it, and you will, conducting heavy discourses concerning thick philosophy will become second nature. Comparatively speaking.”
She used him to demonstrate cases. Delores eased the foreign tongue’s exactitude by handling him. Her hand resting on his knee took the accusative. However, the dative, or that same palm stroking the farthest recesses of his taut thighs he quickly understood.
Trevor had little trouble with regular German verbs. “Kiss” for instance. He replied immediately when she commanded him. In the familiar du. She led, pressed against him, her mouth insisting on a more urgent response.
He ran a beat behind. One second he twisted around grammar, the next his tongue slipped around hers.
Delores kissed coolly. No, her kisses were measured. Unlike any other girls he’d lip-locked, hers intrigued. The others, he realized, were simply sloppy and, well, girlish.
More than just to surface for air, Delores broke off to gauge him. Trevor believed he might’ve gaped.
“You didn’t!” Lesley exclaimed.
“I may’ve,” Trevor said, defensively. “She stunned me. But I swear that was the only time.”
While he realigned his bearings, Delores suggested they smoke a bowl. Or several. Trevor had zero qualms about that!
His hostess rose and padded into her bedroom. Moments later, stash and pipe retrieved, she settled heavily against him. Her weed already cleaned, she pinched a nice mound into the device’s ornate bowl. Snatching the lighter off the low table, she sparked then dragged the first hit. While waiting for her to pass the pipe, Trevor inspected her lighter.
Instead of the newly familiar disposable plastic flamers, Delores fired up from a stubby metal remnant of the recently ended Vietnamese conflict. Engraved on both sides, peace symbols imposed over Stars and Stripes.
She finally passed the shank. He didn’t drag fiendishly. They traded tokes into a second bowl which led into one primo consciousness-expanding, time-slowing, mellow high. Reality distanced its sinuous condition further when their mouths merged between bowls. His kisses slowly blended into hers.
Venturing a third bowl, a Cheshire grin joined the low glow in Delores’ eyes. She stood, and damn if Trevor wasn’t reluctant to unhand her.
Looming above him, Delores said, “This moment deserves a little more extra something. Be right back!”
Trevor followed her dreamy stride into the kitchen. From there, the refrigerator door opened and hushed. Clinking glasses were extracted off a cabinet shelf. Delores reentered the living room carrying a tray. Atop the platter vino glasses, wine bottle, corkscrew, and – miracle of miracles! – one bowl of green grapes. These refreshments she placed upon the table.
Lesley asked whether he gaped again.
“No,” Trevor answered. “If remembered correctly the whole setup reminded me of some connection with nectar and ambrosia. The word empyrean hobbled across my mind. Perhaps we were to become lotus-eaters.”
“Hey. That’s clever. Did you slur it then?”
“Nah. I was too fucked up.”
A former student in the early 1980s.
Trevor deduced the libation presented. In his mind the grapes gave it away. Unlike fruits, the easy availability of those berries must’ve been premeditated. Grapes needed washing before serving. He hadn’t heard any tap water. Meaning she’d prepared them earlier to have them now!
That he could handle. He stated the obvious.
“I’m feelin’ you had this planned.”
She let an enigmatic smile suffice.
“Not that I mind any,” Trevor murmured.
Acting on his approval, Delores uncorked the vintage and poured hearty amounts of dark red into their glasses. Alighting beside Trevor once more, she passed him a glass. The wine was impenetrable and pungent. His greedy sips followed hers. The wine lay sludge-like on his tongue before he swallowed.
He asked, “What’s this? Bulls blood?”
Delores let slide a little grin. “A truly dedicated beer man, I see. Maybe it’s an acquired taste. But yes, it does go great with meat.”
She lifted and presented the grape bowl. “These should cut the taste.”
“You mean cleanse the palate,” he said.
Delores remained quiet while he picked a heavy crooked stem. Using only his teeth, Trevor gnawed berries off this scion. They were sweet. Acidic juice immediately cleared his tongue.
She plucked a stem from the bowl then dunked it into her wine. Consequently she also dipped in the top joints of her own fingers. This dripping mass found his mouth. Trevor devoured the berries. The denuded stem Delores tossed into the cold fireplace. Then let her fingers play with his lips. Teasing became further involved when Trevor’s tongue swirled among her wine-stained digits. She kissed his face. After withdrawing those fingers, her lips again swam upon his.
Air around them warmed. Delores’s minor breasts crushed themselves into his thick, hard upper torso. Still tight against him, Delores relented enough to nip off her wine. Trevor also drained his. What followed only seemed logical. He grinned at her rationality.
“Let’s go to bed,” Delores said.
He stood, clasped her hand into his, intending to lead them into the bedroom. She remained rooted on the couch. His expression quizzed her.
“I sleep in there,” Delores said. “I entertain company out here.”
Trevor surveyed the living room. Even after rearranging furniture, the sofa still looked like a squeeze to him. She’d followed his gaze and guessed his conclusion. Delores rested her empty glass on the table and stood.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “We’re not ‘couching it’ like you think. Let me show you. Move the table aside.”
Furniture cleared, Delores snatched sofa cushions. She tugged a strap near the piece’s lip. Spring-powered platforms squeaked open into a bed. Having smoothed sheets, then squared blue blankets, Delores corralled pillows from a closet. These she dumped where couch back formed headboard.
Proud, preening, arms akimbo, Delores declared, “See!”
He said, “You have a rack for snoozin’ and another for – ?”
Delores interrupted him. “This is how I like it. And that’s the way it is. Don’t worry – the sheets are fresh.”
Her linen had been far from his mind. There was nothing further to comment upon. Delores drew the dress above her head, leaving nothing but skin, precious metal and gemstones. His own disrobing was lengthy. While Trevor shed his shitkickers, socks, shirt, undershirt, wallet, chinos, watch, and finally boxers, he glimpsed Delores killing time nitpicking the ticking.
In his eyes, Delores appeared to have been carved from one supple maple pole which had then been sparked to life. Peach pink smooth except for hands and face, and planed along her belly, flanks and thighs. Delores was a fine example of an elongated figure. Losing suppleness as they were, her breasts did not hang sadly. Such exposure also better revealed the network of cords striping her neck.
He involuntarily reconsidered her age. Numbers quickly evaporated. Instead, he mightily struggled not gawping between her legs. There, a thick tangle hid her sex; the patch so dense the word ‘merkin’ came to mind.
Trevor finally naked, Delores appraised him. He was just getting familiar with his own new sharper physique. Not the added musculature so much, but changes in his complexion. Tanning easily as he under a Northeast sun, harsher Arizona rays further blackened his sienna face and the limbs his tees and shorts left exposed.
Delores’ gelid eye missed nothing. The scrutiny nearly unnerved him. Trevor felt then what he later knew to have been self-consciousness. She disclosed nothing. Satisfied, Delores plumped the pillows which would support their heads then settled into recumbence. An indolent palm, Delores’, tapped open sheet beside her.
“Come to bed, Trev.”
He drove recklessly.
Afterwards, spent, damned pleased with himself, Trevor rolled off Delores. He jarred both parties when thudding on his back next to her. His thoughts, if any, concerned his satisfaction. It had been good inside Delores. All over her actually. He liked how she reacted. Having been with her, Trevor realized all the previous girls with whom he’d coupled lacked Delores’ … He sensed his words and knowledge inadequate to his sensations.
‘Elation’ closely chased by ‘effusion’ perhaps brushed the vitality their ramping had aroused in him. Trevor exulted. He faced Delores and yoked her in a rough embrace.
He blurted: “That was great!”
His enthusiasm elicited her indulgent smile. Delores eased from the iron bounding her and adjusted herself against him. For the first time Trevor really saw her eyes. They were betel. Her countenance became mild. She spoke with reluctance.
“Trev … that was vigorous. But it wasn’t good. Not at all.”
Popeyed, Lesley exclaimed: “No! She didn’t say that! Did she!?”
Trevor limply raised his right hand. “May I turn into an erect blueball virgin if she didn’t.”
Smirking and snarky, Lesley said, “Good.”
“Are you saying that from vicarious pleasure or from experience?”
Lesley merely answered, “Yes.”
Delores continued. “I know you gave me your all. A bit more and it would’ve crippled me, I’m sure. This may be just more proof 18-year-olds should only have at other 18-year-olds.”
“I’ll be 19 in March,” he said quietly. “Are you making fun of me?”
Adult tones again resonated from her.
“No, Trevor, I’m telling you something. Maybe if you quit pouting – ”
“I am not pouting.”
“Pouting,” she emphasized lowly. The storm between then boiled off. Equanimity, hers, returned. “If you let me maybe I can teach you something.”
It was tough for Trevor not to sound petulant. “Like what?”
Caressing his cheek, Delores softened the lash. Her gesture smothered some of his discomfort. Feeling properly chastened, Trevor repeated his question. She kissed him, sending warmth tumbling into his chest. Now dulcet tones, hers, cleared away his clouds altogether.
“Trev, I know it’s wonderful to have youth, energy and stamina. If we’re lucky through them we learn. Mine wasn’t criticism before.”
“If it wasn’t good, then I wasn’t good,” Resigned, Trevor said. “So what was wrong with it? Yours is the first complaint I ever got.”
She sighed. Several responses crisscrossed her face before she answered.
“Um, when we’re young we often don’t quite know what we want or how we want it or whether we truly liked what we get.”
“So you’re telling me all those other girls just took what I gave because they didn’t know what they liked?”
“First, Trev, I’m a woman. I haven’t been a ‘girl’ in many years. Man. That was tough to admit. Second, how could you or your past, uh, lovers know any better if there hasn’t been an, um, what’s the word, knowledgeable hand to direct and guide?”
Delores let her words sink and soak before continuing.
“There will come a time, probably sooner for you than most, when you or your lover will have the confidence in one or the other to say ‘I like it this way.’ Or ‘I don’t like it like that.’ And you’ll find it makes perfect sense because the way preferred will increase delight. Either giving or getting. Ideally it’ll be shared. Besides, pleasuring your lover properly always doubles your own.”
Trevor told Lesley, “Then, she made perfect sense. Later, much later, I suspected she may’ve had an ulterior motive.”
He left Lesley purposely hanging. Frustrated by the lag, she nudged him.
“Huh? Oh. A ploy to yield more foreplay for the same amount of sex.”
“Really?” Lesley said, grimacing. “Were you ever that simple-minded? Or are you jerking my chain?”
He shrugged. “What really grabbed me was her suggesting all the girls I’d fucked before her were lovers. I never saw them that way until she mentioned it.”
“I’m almost afraid to ask how you had seen them,” Lesley said.
He chuckled. “Yes. There is a lot of handy slang available.”
“So I’ve heard,” Lesley said, tartly. “You think that’s how bulls see heifers?”
“Lesley, until enlightenment, I thought being the bull all there was. Know what else, though? You are the only other woman who ever called me a ‘lover.’ Strange what we remember, isn’t it?”
Trevor and Lesley quieted the room with their contemplation. She snapped the silence.
“Did you ever consider me your lover?”
What Delores said made sense. Her reasoning undercutting him, Trevor had no grounds upon which to brood. But then taking the next step, turning it into a positive, perplexed him. High school sex ed and bullshitting with contemporaries provided thorough nuts-and-bolts knowledge. Yet the former was too dry, the latter too often descended into filthy bragging. Neither angle broached the topics of satisfaction and gratification. True satisfaction and gratification.
Having all those years, possibly many lovers to reference, Delores intuited correctly about him. Excusing herself from bed, she left his side and entered her bedroom. Moments later she returned carrying a black, oversized, soft cover book. Restored beside him, she presented her copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
He found it off-putting just skimming through it. Delores reacted to his disdain.
“Trev, you should treasure this book. It’ll make you smarter and adept. And if that isn’t convincing enough, well, look at it as a Haynes Book for the female model.”
The auto manual comparison convulsed both into laughter.
Actually battening down and absorbing the text filled a long week. Like car manual schematics, Delores’ loaner book dulled the sexy parts. Reading Our Bodies, Ourselves, learning what beat beneath female hoods, what supplemental specifics and torque ratios made them purr, lent Trevor fuller appreciation of Penthouse Pets and Playboy bunnies.
Delores never asked how his special studies proceeded. Then too she never inquired about any aspect of their private sharing.
Behind the bakery counter she greeted and treated him as a regular customer. Albeit one extremely fond of cheese danish. Maybe the smiles she offered him brighter, her eyes livelier upon him. If so, only Trevor was perceptive enough to recognize this. Friday afternoons at the Ranch, Delores behaved as opaquely as ever. Clamor and hops prevented any subtleties directed his way.
Across semester break into the school year’s second half, Delores continued to accommodate him at her pace. Meaning they never commingled on weekends. Her single hard and fast rule. A truculent young man might’ve regarded it as arbitrarily prohibitive. Trevor didn’t bother asking. He’d grown up under the “leave well enough alone” dictum. If she demanded Friday-Sunday nights without him, fine. No static from his corner. Besides, campus life spiked during those stretches. Around his contemporaries Trevor needn’t exhibit any very high levels of maturity.
The lessons behind Our Bodies, Ourselves ground into his head. They must’ve. Trevor felt their sex improving. Rather, he perceived their acts increasing her gratification as winter churned towards spring. At least he certainly ceased trying to rend her apart. Sometimes their rhythms even fell into step. Months later, whenever he heard the Cars’ Moving in Stereo, he thought of their syncopation during those moments. Instead of crashing together, both bodies undulated with similar ebb and flow.
He felt the improvement, therefore she must’ve as well. She refused answering the question between them.
Lesley explained but cloaked it in enigma. “She wasn’t being mysterious. Just womanly.”
“All part of learning, huh,” Trevor surmised.
“Think of it as dragging your brain from between your legs back to where it belonged between your ears,” Lesley said.
Several days before Spring Break ’78 commenced, Trevor finished Delores’ manual. He returned it on a midweek evening. She asked his opinion.
The assessment given: “The hydraulics are nuts. The lubricants are fragile. And the wiring is so complicated no wonder it drives dudes crazy. That’s why I’ve been easing up. Not going 100 from ‘jump.’ But I don’t think you’ve even noticed.”
Coolly, calmly, maddeningly, Delores said, “I have.”
“And it’s better?” Trevor begged as much as asked.
A small smile waxed across Delores’ lips. She stroked his cheek, and said, “Ah, Trev, if you gotta ask …”
Later, warm, expended, sated, and entwined on her convertible bed, Delores grilled him about Break plans. He had none. Mexican beaches didn’t excite him, while his pockets lacked enough gelt for a proper Vegas ring-a-ding-ding. And the Californians he’d befriended had no desire to grace the Golden State again so soon.
Delores stated the obvious. “It’ll be awfully lonely on campus next week.”
Trevor agreed. “Sister, don’t I know it.”
Several minutes later she spoke. “It’ll be dead at the Dollar. Ranch, too. At least until Friday. I expect that’s when the stragglers and cave dwellers might start sticking their heads out again.”
He asked Delores whether she saw him as a straggler or cave dweller. She playfully punched his arm. They swapped secret smiles.
“Tell you what, Trev,” Delores said. “Don’t bother coming by the bakery Monday. None of the mornings. We’ll meet here instead. At, oh, say, noon. Have your treats here with me. We’ll keep each other company for a while.”
Her offer intrigued rather than excited. It was quite unexpected. All sorts of possible fun and games two-stepped through his head. Trevor accepted.