KEY WEST TODAY
I was sitting in Captain Tony’s drinking a Papa Doble and thinking about life. The hundreds of autographed bras hanging from the ceiling ought to tell you everything you need to know about the ambience around THAT place.
The building itself has been everything from an ice-house to a whore-house. The current incarnation dates back to Hemingway’s day. It was originally called Sloppy Joes. But the landlord raised the annual rent a buck. So the owner took the entire saloon, lock, stock and name, down Greene Street to the present location.
The legend has it that Hemingway stayed put in the original building, which eventually came to be named after Tony Tarracino who was an even bigger Key West character than Ernie. The legend also has it that Martha Gellhorn paid the bartender twenty bucks to be introduced to Hemingway there.
That led to a flaming affair, while the two of them were covering the Spanish Civil War. And that affair was what ended Hemingway’s marriage to his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer, who had stolen him in turn from his first wife Hadley Richardson.
So obviously the 1960s didn’t invent fucking around on your spouse.
I was living on my boat, which was tied up at a slip down at the Conch Harbor Marina. I chose that spot because it was easy walking - or sometimes crawling - distance from my customary watering holes up and down Duval.
The boat itself is a C&C 40 which is a handful for solo cruising. But I am an excellent sailor and I wanted the room. I brought it down the Atlantic Inter-costal three years earlier. And short of a Cuban invasion I was planning on staying put.
My buddy Buster was my sole companion. He also happens to be my best friend. He weighs about 120 pounds and he looks like his prior job was guarding the gates of Hell. But he is utterly sweet, gentle and loving beneath his scary exterior.
The best part about my big smelly buddy is that he would never leave me. Which is more than I could say about any of the women in my life.
It all started at an elite Midwest University. I didn’t get into that place because I was rich or smart. I got into it because I was very fast in the water.
I would have rather been outstanding in any other sport. But unfortunately I was a fish. So I spent hours marinating in chlorine, building up long smooth muscles that made me look streamlined, not powerful.
I wasn’t a lion. I was a sea-lion.
And because the sport of swimming requires extraordinary physical endurance I had to spend every waking hour stroking up and down a pool while some sadistic bastard yelled insults at me.
He called it “coaching.”
I have to admit that the sport ensured that I didn’t carry an ounce of fat. But at six four. I was built less like a Greek god and more like a human torpedo. And since the aim was to reduce drag I had in effect also invented the skin head.
Needless to say I was not likely to be voted king of the homecoming court. Or even find a date.
Scholarship athletes were all housed in one dormitory. And my luck being what it was, I drew a football player.
Story of my life. I could have gotten a fellow swimmer, or a soccer player, or a gymnast. Or anybody else besides an arrogant asshole.
Brad was not hard to live with. That was because he spent his days hanging around at the local jock fraternity with his fellow Neanderthals.
But when he WAS around the room he treated me like an inconvenient piece of furniture. I especially enjoyed the nights that he decided to get laid.
Very early in our association he informed me that if he had his tie hanging on the door I was not to enter. So most nights I would study in the common room, while the moans and shrieks of his latest conquest wafted down the hall.
And then I was allowed to fall asleep to the pervasive odor of pussy.
His argument was that he would do the same thing for me. Which was a laugh since I had never actually had the pleasure. Like I said, being a gangly human torpedo has its drawbacks in the sexual experience department.
I had a few girls who would condescend to go out with me. But there were rarely second dates. I am not sophisticated. And I had nothing to recommend me beyond the fact that I was a scholarship jock.
The problem was that I was in a sport that was anything but glamorous. Every Saturday afternoon, Brad, who was the university’s quarterback, would do heroic things in front of 100,000 screaming fans.
You watch swimming every four years at the Olympics. It mostly involves people standing around. And it typically draws as many viewers as the bike racing.
Plus, the only thing that anybody sees is splashing and the occasional view of a face frantically gasping for air.
Perhaps you can understand why Brad was fucking a lot of hot coeds. And my romantic moments were limited to my hand.
The one good thing about my situation was that I was never under the illusion that I would be doing anything other than going to work after college. Swimming was just a means to an end. So I hit the books, while Brad spent his time socializing.
Brad, was thinking about the millions he was going to make in the NFL. Needless to say he ended up selling life insurance.
Toward the end of my junior season I came back from the library. And there was the ubiquitous tie. I had a meet the following day. And I was not in a mood. So I banged on the door.
The urgent moaning stopped and a couple of seconds later I heard Brad’s voice yell, “I’m busy. Go away!!” I was pissed. So I yelled right back, “I have a meet tomorrow and I need some sleep. Take it someplace else. You have five minutes.”
I heard a questioning female voice and grumbling from him but it sounded like they were getting their shit together preparatory to putting it on the road. So I just leaned on the wall and waited.
Disheveled doesn’t begin to describe what emerged. Brad gave me a pissed off look. I didn’t care. I am a half-a-head taller than he is. So it was never a matter of physical intimidation.
I said as sarcastically as possible, “thanks’ and started into the room. That was when I really looked at who he had been fucking.
Most of Brad’s women are the usual sorority skanks and football groupies. They wander the campus in herds. Every one of them is hot. But their faces tend to blend together into a universal blur of “pretty”.
This was a completely different breed of cat.
She had thick copper hair that disappeared down her back in healthy waves. The totally perfect state of her hair was amazing in itself, given the fact that she had been getting seriously fucked a mere five minutes earlier.
I think it was her eyes though. I am not usually a fan of pure redheads. That milky skin and all of those freckles scare me. But when I looked into her superb emerald eyes there was real heat and intelligence. She almost seemed amused.
She gave me an appraising nod. Then she and my roommate executed an archetypal walk of shame toward the elevator. I was sure my roomie was headed for plan B, the jock fraternity.
I fell asleep to the accustomed smell of sex. It was more disturbing than usual. It must have been her pheromones. But I almost felt jealous of the moron.
I didn’t run into her again until the last few days of that semester. I was at the classic fraternity kegger. I lived in the dorms because I was on scholarship. But the fraternities like to have varsity athletes around as display items. And there were even a couple of houses that courted swimmers as affiliate members.
Needless to say they were the minor fraternities. Not the prestigious jock houses, or the snooty frats that my social betters hung out at.
I was standing in my usual party position, which was holding up a wall with my back. I had one of those 16 ounce Solo cups full of a yellow foamy substance, which I was praying was beer. It was hard to tell.
She walked in with some species of preppy frat-rat. I had only gotten a passing glance at her as she and my roomie exited the building. But I was impressed by her twitching buns. Now that I had a chance to fully check her out I was blown away.
She was gorgeous. But then again, most of the coeds you see around a frat party are by-and-large attractive. Nevertheless, it was something in this one’s manner that set her apart.
She radiated total self-assurance and absolute femininity in the way that she walked and held herself.
Then she started to dance with the dude. She was only about five foot two but she had extraordinary muscled legs and very tight round hips. The rest of her was lithe and nubile but it was that perfectly proportioned face and those sparkling green eyes that had me mesmerized.
A cooler guy might have gone over and tried to cut-in. But I am socially retarded, hence my little virginity problem. So I just stood there staring at her.
I believe that women are equipped with some sort of special antenna that tells them when they are being scanned. She was in the middle of putting her arms over her head and grinding her pussy on her date. It was like she had lifted the move out of a “Step Up” movie. The date looked blissful to say the least.
Anyhow, she glanced up alert, like she had sensed something, and looked directly at me.
I was not looking into the typical vacant coed eyes. She knew exactly what she was doing. She was like a cat toying with a mouse. Something passed across her face. I am sure she was used to being stared at. So it wasn’t the gaping. But I got a sense that I had disturbed her.
.... There is more of this story ...