Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wanderlust part 51 "How the fuck did that happen?"
Back later to maybe blog. Been up for twenty minutes and about six things have gone wrong. I have to throw on jeans and go to the mechanic and get the man. Jeep had some kind of nervous breakdown. That was thing #3
So...I'll be baaaaaaahk (to quote Arnold)
by Sommer Marsden
“What do I do? What do I do?”
I had tugged the phone as far as it would go from the besides table. I was currently sitting on the brown carpeting of indeterminate age in the odd anteroom to the bathroom. That little half room where they always put a counter and an outlet and a coat rack and you feel like you’re in a bus terminal.
“What do you do about what and where are you?” Bren asked.
“Nebraska…I think.” I looked at the phone what is area code 402?”
“How the fuck should I know, Really!”
“Sorry,” I sighed. “I’m pretty sure it’s Nebraska. And Johnny is sick. Really sick. He says it’s the flu.” I gnawed my lower lip and actually considered running out to the Chevy for a cigarette. Now seemed a good time for some self-destruction.
“Oh, honey. If it’s the flu, he’ll be fine. What are the symptoms?”
Bren has two children. I don’t know how. I cannot fathom having a cat let alone two human beings who needed me 24/7. One of the kids, Alex and Annie, always seem sick. Seriously. Someone is always puking, sniffling or sneezing.
“High fever. From what I can tell, anyway. I don’t have a thermometer but he’s definitely hot. Cough. He coughs and coughs and coughs and coughs and not a damn thing comes up,” I squeaked.
“And his muscles hurt? Down to the bone?”
“He said he feels like he got hit by a truck,” I admitted.
“Honey, it’s the flu. Unless he was sickly to begin with, like compromised somehow, he’ll be fine. Alex had the flu last year. Twice. Swine and regular. He likes to mix it up.”
I snorted with laughter and then, “So what can I do for him?”
“Pain relievers, fluids, sleep and listen to him whine.”
“He’s a man. They all whine when they’re sick.”
“Not this one,” I sighed.
“Marry him,” she laughed.
“Bite your tongue. Plus, I’m married.”
“Heh. Only one paper, doll. And we all know it.”
“That’s it? That’s all I can do?” I had never in my life felt more inept. It made me itchy, made my teeth ache—this helplessness.
“That’s it, Really. He’ll be okay.” Her voice had sobered. I caught the shift.
“Why do you say it like that?” I twirled the cord around my finger and realized you rarely saw phones like this anymore. With actual cords and heavy bases with attached receivers. The thing was so heavy it could be used as a weapon. This trip was like traveling back in time. Phones and phone banks, diners and ugly hotel rooms. Paying cash and honest to goodness guest registers and Mom and Pop accommodations run by families.
“Because you’re freaking out. I can hear it.”
“That is silly,” I said. “Why would I freak out? He’s a grown man and he’ll be fine. Even you said so and you have actual offspring.”
So if I was so fine why did my throat feel so fucking tight? Sometimes talking to friends who know you so well is sort of like walking down the street naked. Everything is exposed.
“Oh…because you lost your mom? And you loved her so much and needed her like air? And you care for this man, even if you fight me tooth and nail to admit it. And you’re on the road and away from home and he was the one in charge and now you are and he needs you to care for him and you’re not used to that. And you can’t breathe. How did I do?
“Fuck off, Bren,” I said good-naturedly and she laughed, long and loud.
“Really,” she sighed.
“I’m scared,” I said.
“I know but you are braver than you think and stronger than you know. You’ll do good.”
“I’m not scared of that,” I admitted. Was I actually going to say this?
“Go on,” she prompted.
“I’m afraid because you’re right about…”
“Say it, Really. You’ll feel better. It’s like letting poison out if that kind of thing can be like poison. But it’s the best analogy I have for you. A writer, I am not.”
“I love him,” I blurted. I said it so fast it all ran together in one long painful word. It was hard for me to push those words out. Even to Bren.
“I know,” she said.
“How the fuck did that happen?” I sighed.
“It happens,” she said. “Now go curl up next to him, watch shitty motel TV and make sure he drinks a ton of fluids. That fever will burn it out of him, he’ll need as much fluid as you can get him to take. And when he feels better…” There was an evil little laugh here. One I was used to from my best friend.
“Don’t forget the fever sex.”
“What!” I yelped.
“Fever sex. When you have a fever, everything is intensified. Heightened. It’s like being high but not.”
“Jesus,” I said but my brain had sat up and paid attention.
“I’m serious. But for now, get him back in shape for action. Call me if you need me.”
I hung up feeling calmer but alone. I eyed the big man sleeping restlessly in the bed and then pulled off my jeans and crawled into bed next to him. I thumbed the remote and put on a movie about a serial killer and listened to Al Pacino’s distinctive rasp.
“Come on drink something,” I said, finally. I put a bottle of sports drink to his mouth and tilted his head. He needed a shave, I thought mildly.
Johnny drank, twin spots of red on his cheeks like he’d been slapped. I held the bottle as long as he would drink and when he dropped his head back to the pillow I didn’t push it. He we was strong as shit, even sick. At the last second, he grabbed my wrist, smiled like he was drunk and turned my hand to kiss my palm. His lips were hot and dry against my flesh.
“Really,” he said, like a prayer and fell back asleep. Just that one word.
My heart twisted damn near sideways and I said. “I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Fuck, but those words scared me so, so bad. I wasn’t going anywhere. I meant it. And it made me tremble to realize it.
Johnny was not disposable to me.
Two days later the fever started to break. I’d visited the front desk twice. Once to pay for another night and once to ask the desk clerk if they had a thermometer I could use. His mother—the owner of the place—brought me one and asked why I needed it. Could she go to the pharmacy for me, was I ill? When I told her it wasn’t for me but my friend who was very sick, she gave me the following night half off.
Good thing. I needed the break. Money would be running low soon. Even at rundown hotel-motel prices.
I was going to take his temperature, I had decided. It wasn’t so hard. I wanted to know when it broke for real. I had never stuck by someone so closely. I had never sat so quietly. The world seemed too big and too bright with me not hovering over Johnny.
I slipped back into the room and fitted the thermometer into its little plastic thermometer condom to keep the end clean. I pushed the button and leaned over the dozing Johnny. “I’m going to take your—“
He grabbed me. I could tell he was still feverish—his hand was hot—his eyes were slits. “Come here,” he growled.
“Shh.” He grinned at me. Half awake, half asleep. When he tugged me there was strength in there again—in his grip, in his face.
“I know. But I need you.”
When he said need it was entirely different than that first time the day we arrived. A shiver worked through me like a rustling of flesh and bone. “You should—“
“You should listen to me, Really,” he said.
His skin was damp. He’d been sweating. Sweating out the fever? My brain said no, my body said yes. I wanted him. God, how I did. But he was sick.
He’s not dying, woman…
“I think maybe tomorrow—“
“You can be on top. All the work,” he mumbled. “You can do all the work, Snowflake.”
I am weak when it comes to this man. “Let me take your temperature first.”
He tugged me and I took a shy little step. I felt like he would break. I felt like I would break him.
“Take it after.” His voice a low murmur, his eyes still shiny but more observant. “You need to honor the request of a dying man.”
“You’re not dying.” I could say that how with confidence.
One more tug and I caved. Stripping off my jeans, my panties, my top. My nipples pebbled in the cooler air. It was chilly and rainy again. We had a wet fall ahead of us, it seemed, no matter where we were.
He pushed back the blankets like they weighed a ton—eager but exhausted. He was hard and hot in my hand when I touched him. He made a small sound, moved up just a bit to meet my touch.
“I missed you, Really.”
I smiled. “Cause I’ve been gone and whatnot, right?”
“You know what I mean.”
It was easy to sink down on him. I had missed him too. It was easy to skewer myself on his hard length because the moment he had grabbed me, I’d been wet. I’d been ready. I’d been willing.
I moved so, so slow to take it in. I put my hands on his wrists like I was holding him down, but I wasn’t. I worked my hips in slow and easy circles and came with no effort at all. Being full of him, having him under me, the heat of him, his expressed desire—all combined to do me in so, so fast.
He moved his arms and I released him, his warm palms coming up to cup my breasts. He pinched my nipples, hard but not too hard and shook his head. “So, good.”
I moved a bit faster. Came again.
He was starting to go in and out. The fever ramping up again before it would break a bit later. He’d been doing this for hours. It was almost like I could time it. He felt hotter under my hands, his chest a baked slab of muscle.
“…so sorry,” he mumbled.
I thought he meant for starting to fade. For starting to doze. “It’s okay.”
He tossed his head, sighed, said it again. “So sorry.”
He was lost to me, I could tell, though I was hesitant to break our contact. I had missed feeling his body against mine. In mine.
“Shh,” I said.
“I’m so sorry, Ang,” he said to his dead girl.
A shard of my heart dissolved. Broke apart. Crumbled. It hurt so bad it stole my breath. But I understood. No matter how bad it hurt, I understood. Which spoke volumes about how I really felt about him. That I could understand that piece of him I could never ever touch.
I saw an opportunity here. I could have a fit, I could be crushed and precious and tell him later of the pain he had inflicted. Or…I could maybe help him let it go. If even for an hour. If even a tiny bit.
“Shh, Johnny,” I whispered in his ear. Stills straddling him, I leaned over his body, my head on his shoulder, my mouth close to his ear. “It’s okay, baby. I forgive you.”
He was asleep again.