Three Kimonos

A continuation from Intrigue the Boy

    At the appointed time on the anointed day Trevor cooled on Delores’ doorstep. With the Arizona campus having depopulated over the weekend, he eagerly looked towards Monday.

    It was strange seeing her at noon. Then again, he was lightly clothed on a mid-March day. Same time back East, he likely wouldn’t have been lightly clothed inside, much less outdoors. Anyway, such a slave to routine, Trevor felt they ought have been occupied elsewhere at the moment.

    Ordinarily he saw Delores dressed for work. Or in an easily doffed schamatte. Or naked. Monday, she met him at her door wearing a silk kimono. Blue and white predominated throughout this raiment. Pictured on it, pedestrians walking along a snowy riverside promenade.

    Also different, the aroma wafting through her house. Rather than her usual incense or fragrant candles, coffee, the freshly brewed kind, tingled his nostrils.

Utagawa Hiroshige, “Snow at Yabukoli in Lower Atago”; Brooklyn Museum

    About Delores’ aromatics: then the younger Trevor accepted her claim these were to heighten their moments; later, an older man suspected she employed these masks to leaven the sex smell their friction raised.

    Trevor waited until she shut the door behind them before he encircled Delores’ waist and kissed her. He always followed this protocol, never knowing nor ever asking whether she indifferent or circumspect regarding her neighbors and any other prying eyes. If Delores noted his prudence, she left it unmolested.

    Silk enhanced his feel of her. Especially her hard, narrow hind parts. Once they detached, he followed her whispering garment into the kitchen.

    As baroque as Delores’ living room was, so unadorned was the kitchen. Everything in order, nothing eye-popping. Except for the coffeemaker. Hers was a glass two-stage contraption pinched through its middle by silver band. From a lightly whistling kettle simmering on the stove, she had poured steaming water into the gizmo’s top half. There, water percolated through grounds. Precipitation blackened the pot’s lower half as well as enriched the air.

    Trevor settled himself onto a kitchen table seat while she bustled. First, Delores removed excelsior covering his sweets, then piled them on a plate and set this offering before him. She slid two sets of cups and saucers into place. Delores didn’t trouble herself to separate the percolator’s components for what he thought might’ve been easier serving, but carefully tilted the whole black tower. Mist and scalding liquid arced into alabaster tableware. Not one drop from either pour marred neither pristine saucer. Steam rising above both cups, Delores nudged coffee condiments nearer. Afterwards, she sat close, crossing one thin knee over the other. While he fixed his coffee and began devouring, she took up a pencil to resume solving that day’s newspaper crossword puzzle.

    The pure domesticity beguiled him. In an eerie way Trevor found the situation sublime.

    Numerous squares lettered, danish chewed, coffee prepared and sipped, Delores asked about his weekend. Desultory. Since the gang scattered and he hated cavorting alone, Trevor had completed plenty of classwork. Shamelessly, he confessed his eagerness to reach their appointment.

    “There aren’t many Mondays I can say that about,” he said.

    Trevor added by Sunday night he rushed himself off to sleep so he’d awake the next morning that much sooner.

    Lesley interrupted Spring 1978, and jarred him back to the present, November 2001. She’d gotten out of bed and strolled to the hotel window. A while before he’d cracked it, having felt their sixth-floor room getting stuffy. The mild night had made their “long time, no see” sex warmer than an inflated claim.

    Whether through calculation or languor, she sauntered to the window bank. When she was younger, when they were younger, Lesley could swan like the Devil.

    Ambient streetlight pushing through the scrim painted ochre what angles didn’t cast into shadows. While nowhere as sharp as the figure he’d once rambled across carelessly and without care, leaving her in the same manner, Lesley retained plenty of allure. Her behavior made this quality plain.

    He’d reached that age where women his age fretted about the image they “projected.” Gravity, metabolism, and often motherhood, shamed many. Life compelled them to unnecessarily explain, or worse, offer excuses about the body granted. Assuring them the moments they were about to share required no preamble only raised his partners’ insecurities. What he said immaterial. Each put greater credence into what she mistakenly thought he saw. Trevor had learned to let those women exhaust themselves babbling. At the end, most found refuge in some turbulent cove of self-acceptance.  

    Given her surprising new profession’s demands, its dubious public regard, Lesley had apparently made peace with a number of oppositional stresses. Trevor liked her naked before. He liked her naked now. He almost wondered whether his current enthusiasm for her present condition would’ve lasted across their absent 22-year gulf. A good question. After all, hadn’t he suffered young man’s caprice? That was eventually tiring of her fresher, sharper self?  

    Over her shoulder, Lesley said, “That sounds like a kid impatient for Christmas.”

    “Trust me,” Trevor said, “knowing what Santa was leaving under the tree and having already seen it unwrapped, the adult thing was not counting sheep or popping ‘Ludes.”

    Understanding his anxiety completely, Delores bobbed her head and smirked. Returning to the puzzle, she asked, “Mel or Mont. Five letters.”

    Infinite afternoons and Saturday mornings hours spent watching TV cartoons provided his immediate answer.


    Delores grunted, took him at his word. Pencil scratched newsprint. Trevor’s five letters set off a chain reaction. Soon all she gave him to inspect was the day’s task solved. Delores faced him.

    “Who’s Mel Blanc?” she asked.

    “A genius,” Trevor said.

    She rested the quartered section and pencil beside her empty cup and saucer.

    “I have something to show you,”

    Delores pushed back from the table, retreating into her bedroom. The closet door turned squeaked. Boxes, clothes rustled. She returned bearing a large black portfolio. His hostess shoved their repast’s dregs aside to the table’s extremes, creating enough room for the case.

    Restored again to his side, Delores opened to the past. The first item seen was immediate revelation. In monochrome, moodily-lighted monochrome, posed a woman togged in early 60s couture. She struck a pose seldom glimpsed in nature and glanced off to her observers’ left. Given enough chances, Trevor might’ve guessed the garment’s designer. The rigid body supporting the fabric, the young face craning above the collar, he already knew intimately.

    There had been no softening of the steel in the regal posture of the woman between then and now. Delores’ face, though, today in living color maybe no more than a foot away, had changed. Little lines around the mouth and eyes, a faint furrow scratching across her forehead.

    Illumination inside the bakery and sandwich shop were gauzy. Conditions in her living invariably blurred. The kitchen, however, open to direct sunlight off bone white walls, was unforgiving. Voluntarily or not, sunlight revealed much. He slid his gaze back upon the memory. Trevor flipped several pages. Delores modeling other fashions on each. Trevor made sure to use the correct tense.

    “These are all of you.”

    “Yes,” Delores said. “Starting maybe when I was just a few years older than you are now.”

    He heard nothing indicative in her voice. Just stated fact. Trevor resumed paging through her portfolio. The clothes he failed to fathom, but she remained lovely.

    No Helen, no drop-dead stunner who’d incite madness and war, Delores had a dispassionate mien. It didn’t divert nor propose mystery or conceal mischief. Perhaps she had merely been seen as one of those living mannequins whose angles luckily enhanced designers’ creations; whose relative facial indistinctiveness allowed buyers, the haute monde, lechers, to project their own notions of refinement. Seen this way or that, all saw her favorably regardless.

    “How long did you model?” he asked. “And for who? Uh, whom.”

    His perusal had taken him from gowns to cocktail dresses to casual ensembles, one of which included deck shoes that looked as if they could’ve actually repelled salt water on a teak deck. Trevor recognized Capris and another version of “the LBD.” The rest, though, an indiscernible mélange from Chanel to Dior.

    “About 10 years total,” she answered. Delores recited a litany of designers, photographers and magazine titles. He was familiar with more of the third category than the preceding pair.

    “Was that a good career?” He asked. “In the long run, I mean.”

    “It was a real-life learning curve, Trev. A heavily front-loaded one whose decline stretched forever.”

    Then, he knew she’d once more imparted a point. Some nugget of real live actually useful sometime in the future wisdom. But damn he was too insecure to display his ignorance. He failed asking Delores to clarify. Thoroughly.

    Recalling from 2001, using Lesley as his muted sounding board, Trevor wondered if Delores had recognized his dilemma. Was her observation a measure? Older now, he knew his deficiency wasn’t intelligence, but curiosity. The kind of strength that resisted hesitancy. Or was the moment one he’d just read too much into later in life? Maybe seeing those exposures again had simply permitted Delores a detour back into her own teens and twenties.

    As Trevor flipped and re-viewed photographs back to front, Delores rested her chin on his shoulder. He thought she sighed.

    “People, we, were elegant then,” she said. “Life seemed more elaborate. And weren’t we glad?”

    “You liked getting duded up to go out?” he said. “With ladies wearing hats and gloves everywhere? And the nightclubs? The real ones. The kind with Ricky Ricardo music. How did you know what separated pleasant conversation from the risqué? I can’t imagine stepping through that social minefield safely.”

    Delores saw his appraisal differently. “Oh, maybe we’ve decided we don’t have the time to pamper our finer senses. Even out here I’ve heard the world has sped up. Spinning faster, they say. The last time I visited New York, I nearly didn’t recognize it. It certainly looked at me as a stranger. The sentimental part of me should’ve mourned.”

    “Why didn’t you?”

    “Because my almost 19-year-old friend, adults should only be so self-indulgent!” Delores said. “Speaking of which, I have errands to run before my shift at the Ranch. Then stuff to attend afterwards. You don’t mind, do you?”

    Her question confused him.

    Delores wrapped long fingers around what she could of his bicep and nuzzled his neck. “That we won’t do, you know, do anything today.”

    Undisguised sincerity in Trevor’s voice surprised both. “Hell no! Just because we don’t … you know, doesn’t upset me. I mean even though we won’t do it, I still had a good time. I mean your coffee alone beat tits off my usual instant slop. And I got to see a part of your life before Tucson. The elegant and elaborate part to be sure. Besides, it’s fun being around you any which way.”

    Feigning fluster, Delores said, “You sure you’re not just saying that from ‘campus fever’?”

    Lesley hadn’t returned to bed. Instead, having snapped the window shut she’d turned and stared down at his reclining sprawled form. The dimly lighted room taxed vision. Except for low flares across her eyes from the room’s puny indirect glim, murk rendered all but her boldest features indistinct.

    “Campus fever?” Lesley said. “Doesn’t that come at the end, not beginning, of the week?”

    Trevor shrugged. “What do you want? She attended the University of Barbizon.”

    He told Delores that had he ever had been a Boy Scout this would’ve been the time to have crossed his heart. Since he hadn’t been Trevor nonetheless confirmed he’d meant what he’d said.

    Flattered and happy, Delores said, “Trev, that’s so sweet!”

    Lesley poised, “You ever tell Delores you loved her, Trev?”

    No,” he said. “I was meek then. Anyway, wouldn’t mine have been a kind of puppy love? Fortunately, reticence and weakness and held my tongue. It saved my true bravery for later. When I was more mature and could truly acknowledge the attribute.”

    Lesley snickered. “Sounds like something Hemingway might’ve said.”

    “He might’ve thought it, but you can bet he never wrote it down,” Trevor said.

    Not that he needed further coaxing, Delores invited him into visiting Tuesday. Their goodbye kiss promised much.

    The following noon Delores wore a different kimono. Tuesday’s scene: nighttime, three travelers along a tree-lined path, perhaps trudging towards a ryokan. Their path traced a meandering stream. Indigo and mint dominated her outfit. Its figures were wan, their backs bowed under packs. A full moon provided incandescence.


    Again, Trevor deeply inhaled freshly brewed coffee. On the short bop to the kitchen he noticed living room components had been moved. Integrated into a system maneuvered atop casters, her phonograph and tuner usually sat mashed in niche. Today, she had rolled them into prominence along with big, boxy ebony speakers. Albums crowded a shelf under the apparatus. Overflow albums, and there were plenty, filled two album holder racks.

    Like the TV, he’d noticed her both sound devices upon his first entry but quickly discounted the trio’s importance. In all his visits, she’d yet to switch on any of electronics. He just assumed none held Delores in thrall.

    But the albums! Only the lure of fresh coffee kept him from nosing through her music.

    Once more Delores poured, served, then sat beside him. Visage stern, she started solving that day’s puzzler. He chewed and sipped as quietly as possible. Why distract Delores from her task?

    Today she was stumped from the jump.

    “President; music venue – east and west,” she intoned. “Eight letters.”

    Trevor leaned over and gandered at the puzzle. He skimmed the across and down hints traversing the block. The answer envisioned ought have led to a rapid cascade of solutions in the upper right quadrant. Which then should’ve expanded throughout the square.

    “Fillmore,” he said.

    Dutifully she penciled in the 13th president’s name. Between her reading the hints aloud and his answering them, Delores’ face brightened. A quick succession of letters grayed newsprint. The wildfire pleased her. She swung eyes on him.

    “I thought yesterday was a fluke,” Delores said. “That it was just coincidence. Or dumb luck. But it’s not, is it? How do you know this shit?”

    Twenty-two years later, Lesley, after a verb tense correction, parroted Delores’ question.

    “Mrs. Ross,” Trevor began. “A high school teacher I had. Short, gray-haired, a classily-dressed battleax who was formidable and demanding. Hers was a voice that chopped through bullshit. She bullied us into reading The New York Times. The News, The Post after Murdoch bought and perverted it, she made sure you, dear student, knew those rags were garbage. Treif. I believe she called them treif. Worse than that, a waste of time. Of intellect.”

    “Formidable and demanding, you say,” Lesley said.

    Trevor nodded. “And while she accepted your opinion might be contrary to hers, or as she told us ‘Wrong!’; she’d never accept ‘Duh.’ Or as you know it, ‘I don’t know.’ Whenever that the case, the only proper answer was ‘I will find out.’ Thanks to her insistence I learned a lot. Plenty of us did.”

    Delores snorted. “Sounds like that lady has plenty on the ball. She sure has more going on than all my ex-teachers back in Cleveland. All they were determined to do was make us the best M.R.S. bait possible through Home Ec.”

    “I think in her heyday Mrs. Ross had been an unrepentant commie,” Trevor said.

    “Lefty,” Delores quickly corrected.

    “Uh, yeah,” he said. “Um, the Spanish Civil War. The Rosenbergs. I don’t think it would’ve surprised any of us if she’d hanged a Che poster on the back of one of her closet doors.”

    “Can you imagine her at an antiwar rally chanting ‘Hey-hey! Ho-ho! Nixon’s got to go!’?” Delores asked.

    “Nixon!?” Trevor said. “Why, yes I can. He’d have made her shout louder. But Mrs. Ross would’ve distinguished herself further in a brocaded dress suit, two-strand pearl necklace. She also would’ve marched in sensible protesting shoes. An unrepentant and soberly dressed lefty.”

    Delores laughed at the incongruous image harder than himself. Levity dispelled, she kissed him for no good reason at all.

    “It’s good you’re here, Trev. There’s something I want you to do. While I straighten up, you go into the living room and look through my albums. I need to hear some music today. You choose for me. Please?”

    She needn’t bothered imploring him. He was ready to run through walls for Delores. Searching among her vinyl was a trifle. As she busied herself in the kitchen, Trevor removed himself to the living room and fell to her request.

    Just as he figured. Delores’ albums stinted on lengthy wailing guitar solos. So no Foghat or Led Zep. Chick tastes predominated, yes. However, there were enough “ah-ha!” discoveries to mollify him.

    Of course Carole King. The Ronettes. Joni Mitchell. Carly Simon and James Taylor. Sam Cooke. Jackson Browne, too. Dusty Springfield and Pet Clark. Tom Jones. Leonard Cohen. Leonard Cohen!? Uh-uh. No way. Aretha, naturally. And Tucson’s own Linda Ronstadt. The Supremes. Wow! Delores owned the Eagles One of These Nights and Hotel California. Trevor wondered whether it possible for him to esteem Delores any higher. Take It to the Limit and New Kid in Town were particular favorites of his. Steely Dan. Ella Fitzgerald. Bobby Darin. Hmmm. Bobby Darin? Delores too? In ninth grade, Trevor had teachers who’d wept buckets upon learning of the singer’s demise. Man! What had women heard in his voice or seen in Bobby Darin!?

    Deeper into the racks, darker, moodier music. Billie Holiday. Etta James. LaVerne Baker. Peggy Lee. Django Rinehardt 78s. Trevor selected and played one of the last just to hear a 78. Robert Johnson. Trevor had vaguely heard of the bluesman. If he’d been feeling lowdown, he certainly would’ve picked Johnson. Sinatra. What was Sinatra doing in near obscurity? Curious. And Delores had a lot of Sinatras, too.

    After Rinehardt, Trevor hoped he played it aurally safe with Cooke, Browne and Taylor. Although raring to rock, he was ready to … to … to endure whatever chicks did while listening to such insightful tunes.

    Turntable speed adjusted, Trevor rested the needle in a groove. James Taylor stroked their ears. Trevor settled on the couch. He considered flipping through one of the fashion glossies glaring across the low table when Delores saved him by entering. Didn’t the lightness of her step match the joy on her face?

    She crowded him on the sofa. Not that he minded. Her kimono parted. Or Delores wriggled in such a manner which engineered its opening.

    The attention Trevor paid her lips gradually migrated around and down her neck into the shallow valley between her breasts. Mincing nips there developed into lapping her crowns. For the longest stretches Delores held Trevor’s head against one or her other dark, stippled delightful point.

    That afternoon a good deal of music resounded inside Delores’ living room. Trevor doubted he listened closely to any of it, while she obviously heard and acted upon her own beats. Despite the ages between hearing a Cooke or Browne or Taylor song, for that matter any instrumental remotely “gypsy-like,” their melodies never failed lifting Trevor’s mood. He knew his response subliminal, fond (to say the least!) of the provocative stimulus.

    New day. New kimono. Wednesday’s wrap depicted another urban vision. One with which he was acutely familiar.

    Delores wore a city street scene. A Japanese thoroughfare shortly before Perry’s arrival perhaps. In winter. Upon her stark white garment, crimson swaths and snow-burdened boughs. Harsh perspective made an ornately rendered temple dominant. Figures gravitated towards this shrine. Thanks to foreshortening, a lantern hanging off an eave loomed enormously.

“Snow at the Entrance Gate to Kinryuzan Temple in Asakusa”

    Once he released Delores, Trevor twirled her around. Then she granted his request. Her back facing him, she spread open her kimono. He retreated slightly to better view the unfolded cityscape.

    His confirmation finished, Trevor suggested she close her garment. Delores did – after turning and flashing him. The glimpse of her nearly erased the coffee’s aroma from his mind.

    Following her into the kitchen, Trevor announced he’d seen her artwork elsewhere. Delores had no idea what she sported occupied any gallery space anywhere. Or in this case had been produced through woodblock printing.

    Yet before could explain further, Trevor noticed something amiss. Instead of cheese danish, crullers awaited him.

    “Danish day in and day out is dull,” Delores said. “That kind of habit must be a guy thing.”

    “Well,” he said, sitting down and inspecting the iced and ridged pastry, “I am a guy.”

    “Trev – live a little.”

    The pastry was still warm enough for uncongealed icing to creep. Trevor realized she’d just pulled them from the oven. Steaming coffee poured, he bit into one. Sweeter and airier than his beloved danish, the cruller lulled him.

    After commending her switch, Trevor re-threaded his previous topic. Delores sat close enough to graze him, rapt in her garment’s origin. The foot of her crossed leg innocently banged his own calf.

    “I forget the artist’s name,” Trevor said, “but he created a diverse series of scenes in and around Tokyo. Or Edo, as it was known then. We saw them on a field trip to the Brooklyn Museum.”

    Lesley had shifted away from the window. She lounged on her side across the foot of their bed. He’d also quit his reclining to sit upright against the backboard. Each observed the other coolly. Trevor had paused his recollection because despite their state the distance struck him odd.

    At the crest of their long ago, what, passion, exuberance, wallowing in hormonal flush, body pressed against body, breaths mingling defined an inexorable desire between them. “Want” fed the geyser of their hot shared rationale. Fever for the other consumed neither. Instead, at that time both understood in one another how each’s impulses needn’t be governed. Niceties and proprieties were ignored. In each other they could simultaneously devote and release themselves to the utmost satisfaction minus the least restraint.

    A single goal drove them then: frenzy into exhaustion.

    Except for the post-coital quiet of restoration, what past Trevor and Lesley shared never had contemplative interludes such as this current one.

    “Where was I?” Trevor asked Lesley.

    “Brooklyn,” she said. “Or Japan maybe.”

    “Yes,” he said. “I remembered that one she wore particularly well because the woodcut exhibited had oxidized so much the red looked rusted. Or like crawling fungus. The docent leading us around mentioned something about certain pigments being susceptible to degradations. Like red. I forgot why but he said blues were immune. At least I think he did.”

    Delores had received his discourse silently. Trevor saw she momentarily lost herself in being elsewhere. A deliberate sip of coffee cleared her mind. She spoke.

    “I’ve had these almost as long as you’ve been alive. The man who gave them to me, he was good to me. We were good together. You know, I always mistook them for something he picked up on the spur-of-the-moment cheap in Saigon or Japan. Thailand, too, I guess. You know some gaudy little guilt-gifts lovers buy for one another to prove affection. To show care. The kind you suspect is never really there. They certainly assured my immediate reciprocation. And for a time, a brief time, likely guaranteed what passed then for eternal devotion.”

    Trevor riposted. “So now knowing the consideration as well as expense that went into them, do you see him any differently?”

    His speculation impressed Delores. New, higher regard, hers, looked at him. She indirectly acknowledged his sudden acuity through a slight nod. Then validated it further.

    “Not bad, Trev. Pretty soon maybe I’ll be consulting you about lovers’ high signs. But no, I still see him the same. He was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Though thanks to your bright eyes, maybe a better devil than I thought.”

    One giddy self-reflective grin split Delores’ face. After time, coffee, and crullers her mirth never completely faded.

    Her phantom man re-consigned to ghostland, Delores turned to her newspaper. The daily had already been quartered, the crossword quadrant facing up. Except for lead circles around three clues, the puzzle remained unmarked. She gave him her pencil.

    During his deliberations, Delores’s long toes snaked inside his pants leg and onto his calf. No boots today for him, but low tops. Her pedal dexterity drew down a sock and gamboled along his ankle. Trevor cut eyes at her.

    Smiling, Delores explained. “I know these are child’s play for you. I’m adding degrees of difficulty.”

    Trevor grunted at her futile distraction. He speedily fulfilled the task. Delores accepted the newspaper and read what she considered the more challenging answers aloud.

    “Erat. Mozart. Shit. This one I should’ve known: Wahoos.”

    Delores slapped the paper upon the table. She glared at him then grinned. Shooting her outsized cuffs until both bagged around her elbows, Delores stretched arms across and behind his shoulders. She leaned forward until their noses and foreheads touched.

    “This calls for something special,” she said. He agreed.

    “No, Trev. Something special for me.” Delores straightened up and tossed her head towards the living room. “Get the bed ready.”

    His sofa conversion drowned out her kitchen clean-up racket

    By the time Delores joined him, Trevor lay naked among rumpled linen and scattered blankets. Through hands behind his head and legs apart he extended a pointed invitation.

    Delores appraised him, what he offered.

    “Why, I do believe that’s a 90° angle you’ve raised,” she said.

    Trevor maintained focus on her dimensions rather than his noted perpendicularity. He confirmed her statement. “Why, I do believe you’re right.”

    She loosened the sash cinching her kimono. It opened. Her slight shoulder shrug began a silent slide that tumbled into a hushed crimson and white crescent around her feet.

    The frantic sex afterwards was expected. And fulfilled. Neither complained.

    That afternoon’s events fixed one goofy smile on Delores’ face. Toothy remnants of it lingered when he would depart hours later.

    Clothed again after so much naked cavorting with Delores began seeming unnatural to Trevor. He found her skin against his far more suitable than any fabric, save for silk. If not for the demands of life outside her door, would either have doubted their day could’ve carried on through evening? Yet work beckoned her and there was no way around that.

    At the door they playfully and tenderly delayed his exit. This Delores, one entirely his, adhered to him. Not having troubled tying its sash, her kimono hung open. She rocked and hummed in Trevor’s arms.

    “The Ranch will be a dream tonight,” she said. “I will be floating.”

    “Jesus!” he said. “That was so intense I’m going back to the dorm and taking a nap.”

    She stopped rocking, raised her head and eyeballed him. “Trev, you’re almost 19. You should be ready to rock again every hour on the hour.”

    “My diet’s deficient,” he said. “Not enough poppers.”

    Delores scoffed. “Trevor, there may come a day you’ll need them. Trust me, that day isn’t anytime soon.”

    Directing her attentions below his beltline, Delores emphasized her point by palming what bulged. Surprising neither, what she patted was turgid, not flaccid. She turned eyes upward and became serious.

    “Look, Trev, tomorrow is already kind of hectic. So how about we get together tomorrow night. For a movie. There’s something I want to see at the Loft.”

    Although he disliked the Loft, Tucson’s rickety retro/art film movie emporium and psycho den during its Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screenings, Delores had a hankering. So forget denying her request. Besides, if he did she just might retaliate by limning their bed play. No way he wanted to stop drawing from that well.

    Magnanimity surged through Trevor. “And dinner. We can have dinner. Of course I’ll spring. Uh, for everything. This time.”

    Delores yanked herself off his chest. She feigned astonishment the 18-year-old mistook for genuine that he realized much later was a funning at his expense. She really sold it to him then by being wide-eyed.

    “Why, Trevor! I do believe you’re suggesting a date!”

    Trevor sat on the edge of the bed. Lesley, lying behind him, absently stroked his broad back. He struggled to remember whether her touch had been as inquisitive when they first …

    “Our dates were good,” Lesley said. “Despite what a complete piece of shit you became.”

    “You mean the hot tubs?” Trevor said, chuckling. “The Fun Tubs. Yeah. Those were good!”

    Lesley punched his back. She struck with heat.

    “No! Not only just the tubs! The dinners! Especially the dancing after. God, Trev, I’ve only met maybe six guys since who were as sure of themselves and as easy on their feet as you. Believe me, these toes and ankles have been mangled by a lot of Buster Browns.”

    Grace. A sports byproduct. Which was the likeliest reason of their initial attraction and subsequent involvement. Or call it lust. The kind which simply knew what possibilities portended then proceeded without heed. Trevor and Lesley were fortunate to have come into themselves during an era which encouraged and pardoned such license.

    “Smooth as we moved,” Trevor said, “I’m sure we looked much better.”