Steve Jackson's annual Labor Day party was something that many of the employees of our city's civil engineering department looked forward to each September. Jackson, a senior engineer who had been with the department many years, was at the top of the pay scale and owned a large house in one of the nicer parts of town. Steve spared no expense when planning his parties and they were always quite lavish, with catered food, several kegs of beer, and an open bar that he himself tended with a loose hand. Steve's plan of action at his Labor Day extravaganza was to encourage intoxication and the errant behavior that went along with it.
My wife Maureen and I were faithful attendees of Jackson's end of the summer bash. I had been working for the department for nine years and we had been to every one during my tenure there. It was one of those few occasions during the year that we were able to let our hair down a little and step out of the grind of working couple and devoted parents. Maureen especially needed such occasions. A computer programmer who worked primarily from home, she had developed into something of a homebody, leaving the house only to go shopping or take the kids to school.
This year's party started off as they usually did. We dropped our two children off at Maureen's parent's house where they would stay the night. 5:00 PM found us in the master bedroom of our house getting ready to go. I was already dressed, having donned a pair of khaki shorts and a blue polo shirt. Maureen, as usual, was still fussing over what she should wear.
Her upper body was bare except for a white underwire bra that restrained her moderately large breasts in place. She had put on a pair of loose-fitting Levi's and was evaluating how they looked on her. "Do these jeans make me look fat?" she asked, turning and spinning so that I could check out her form. Maureen, like many women, was unjustifiably obsessed with her weight. True, she had put on a few pounds since our marriage and the two children she had pumped out, but what woman hasn't? She was certainly not what anyone would consider fat. Her hips were just a little wider than they once had been, but all and all she remained a very attractive, pleasantly proportioned woman.
"They look fine on you babe," I told her automatically, actually paying more attention to her breasts jiggling beneath the bra than I was her butt.
"Are you sure?" she asked uncertainly. "Maybe I should go with the blue slacks instead."
"The jeans are fine," I assured her. "Really."
She frowned a few more times and then reluctantly put on a patterned white blouse. "How about my hair?" she asked as she buttoned up.
Her dark brunette hair was as it always was: hanging over her shoulders and curled slightly with a curling iron. "It looks good hon," I told her. "Let's go."
We went, driving to the adjacent suburb where Steve's house was located. On the way Maureen reminded me of my unpleasant obligations for the night. "Remember," she told me firmly. "It's my turn to drink tonight."
"Yes dear," I said, frowning a little. We were in the habit of trading off on who would drink and who would drive when we attended functions where alcohol was being served. As she had pointed out, it was my turn in the barrel. The last function had been a 4th of July party and I had gotten sloshed. "I'll just have a few beers when we get there and then I'll lay off," I promised. I was of course a little perturbed by this. Half the fun of Jackson's parties was getting drunk and doing stupid things. Staying sober and watching everyone else get blitzed was a bummer. Little did I know how much fun I was going to have that night because I didn't get drunk.
We arrived about thirty minutes after the time specified on the invitation. Cars lined every available spot on both sides of Steve's street for more than a block in both directions, forcing us to leave our Camry on a side street more than ten houses away. We walked slowly through the fading daylight towards his tri-level custom built home.
Steve himself opened the door for us and greeted us when we entered. He shared a hug with Maureen and then introduced us to a few people that we didn't know. He shoved drinks into our hands - a gin and tonic for me, a margarita for Maureen - and then disappeared back to his bar.
There were upwards of a hundred people present throughout his property. Many of them were in the sunken family room just off the entryway. It was here where the bar was located and it was also where a pool table had been set up. Eighties music pounded from the surround sound speakers high on the wall. A game of team eight ball was in progress while twenty or so spectators watched and drank. We made our way into this room and greeted a few of my coworkers, shaking hands with them and exchanging hugs with their wives. We then made a trip through the rest of the party for form's sake, stopping in the kitchen where food was being readied, in the backyard where the smokers hung out, and in the living room, where dancing would later occur. Once all of the niceties were taken care of we returned to the family room, putting ourselves into the running for a game of eight ball.
As we waited, we found ourselves talking to Jack Noland and his wife Samantha. Jack and I had been hired together and were fairly good friends. We had been assigned together on various projects throughout our careers and we sometimes played some golf on our off time. Jack's wife was a nice person but she really had plumped up since her marriage, putting on more than eighty pounds...
"Is that what's-her-name?" Maureen asked at one point, her gaze settling upon Julie Pendelton, a female engineer who worked for our department. As one of the only women in a male dominated profession, Julie had understandably created quite an uproar amongst the wives when she'd been hired two years before. This uproar increased considerably ten months ago when she'd abruptly divorced her lawyer husband for no apparent reason. Julie, despite claims that she'd been hired for affirmative action reasons, was actually a very methodical and effective engineer and, in my opinion, was much better at her job than many of my male counterparts. I however, like most of my co-workers, was wise enough to not let my wife know when I'd been paired with her. There was no sense inviting interrogations and suspicion.
"Yes," Samantha said, her own icy gaze falling upon "that woman" as many of the wives referred to her. "She's lost an awful lot of weight since her divorce, hasn't she?"
Her observation was indeed correct. Once a plump 180 pounds or so on a 5 foot 6 inch frame, Julie had shed more than fifty pounds since telling the lawyer to take a hike. She was now quite slim and attractive, a condition which had both increased the suspicion of the wives and prompted many of the men themselves to ask her out. So far she had taken none of them up on the offer, not even the unattached ones.
"She's actually looking pretty good," Maureen said, a hint of dejection in her voice. "I wonder how she did it."
"I'll just bet she's taking pills," Samantha said assuredly. "How else could someone lose so much weight so fast?"
Jack and I both knew that Julie's secret was not pills but obsessive exercise and a radical change in diet. I had worked with her numerous times and I could testify that these days she spent her lunch hours jogging and eating rabbit food. But of course neither one of us was about to mention this to our wives. That would imply that we had noticed her.
In truth, I had noticed Julie plenty, even before her radical, post-divorce weight loss. She was a very pleasant person, easy to get along with and fun to talk to. And of course, being a healthy American male, I had also noticed her in a physical way as well. Her face was pretty with full, sensuous lips. Her hair was a shade of light blonde that could only be natural. Her breasts were well-rounded globes that did justice to the shirts she wore in the field. It was particularly enjoyable to be partnered with her during the summer months when she wore shorts to work. Her legs were smooth and tight, toned by the exercise that she did.
I had never acted upon this attraction to her or to any other woman. I loved Maureen and, though our sex life had stagnated a bit over the years - as any married couple's tends to do - it had never gotten quite stagnant enough for me to risk an extra-marital affair or a fling. But this certainly did not stop me from fantasizing on occasion and I must admit that Julie had played a part in more than one of these fantasies.
"She seems awfully interested in Bill over there," Maureen said. "Isn't he married?"
It was actually the opposite that was occurring. Bill - who was indeed married - was interested in Julie. She was sitting in one of the barstools, sipping out of a glass of white wine. Her light yellow sundress, which came to just above her knees when standing, had pulled up a little, exposing about half of her left thigh. Bill was continually finding an excuse to touch her knee with his hand. He would laugh and slap it down seemingly unintentionally. He had not quite worked up the courage to try his luck a little higher on the leg but I was sure that he soon would. Julie seemed uncomfortable with the contact even from my vantage point across the room. She kept her body as twisted away from him as she could get away with. She was not quite offended enough to say something or create a scene but she was getting there.
"He's married all right," Samantha told Maureen. "I wonder where his wife is? I'll just bet she'd be real interested to see this."
Jack and I both kept our comments to ourselves and soon the topic of conversation shifted to other things. Eventually he and Samantha drifted off to another part of the party and were replaced by another couple that we were friendly with. Over at the bar Julie was finally forced to say something to Bill when he let his hand drop onto her upper thigh. No one heard what it was - she spoke only loud enough for his ears - but it was apparent that it captured his attention. He paled a little and quickly found some other place to go.
I finished the drink that Steve had given me and began working on a glass of light beer. Maureen, on the other hand, drank down two more margaritas and was working on a third by the time our turn at the pool table came around. My wife did not drink very often and therefore the effects of the alcohol were readily apparent. She was flushed around her face and giggly, her movements not quite steady or coordinated.
"Having fun babe?" I asked her, rubbing her back affectionately.
"Oh yeah," she giggled, giving me a sloppy kiss on the lips, a little bit more than normal affection. I smiled inwardly. One effect that booze had on Maureen was to make her extremely horny, something that I planned to take advantage of when we got home.
We won the first game of eight ball quite easily since our opponents were drunk. Maureen was having considerable trouble lining up her shots but I, being sober, was able to carry the game for us. As the new champions we were required to take the challenge from the next participants on the list. Their number was called out and they stepped up.
It was Jeff Black, one of our brand new employees, and his young girlfriend. Jeff was a 23 year old who had just graduated from college the previous year. A strapping young blonde kid of impressive stature, he had an all-American grin and looked exactly like a living, breathing Ken doll. His girlfriend Rhonda was young, maybe 21 at the oldest, and very attractive in a skinny, wild looking sort of way. Her hair had been dyed pink and she was dressed in a pair of tight shorts and a Brittany Spears style shirt that showed off her smooth belly. A gold ring had been threaded through her belly button and the tip of a tattoo - it looked like it might be a dolphin - was just peeking out from above the waistband of her shorts.
Jeff spent the entire match calling me "dude" at the beginning of each sentence while Rhonda talked loudly and drunkenly in her squeaky, Minnie-mouse voice. It was rather pleasant to watch her bend and line up for her shots however. Her shorts were so brief that the bottoms of her ass cheeks would protrude each time. Maureen caught me watching this sight once and gave me an exasperated slap on the arm. They beat us quite handily, sinking the solids and then the eight ball into the various pockets with the skill of veteran barroom shooters.
After our defeat we made our way out to the living room area. I spent some time talking shop with a few of my co-workers while Maureen joined a gathering of wives in the other corner. While she swilled down two or three more margaritas with the girls I continued to sip slowly out of my light beer, refilling it once but not gaining any sort of effect that could be termed a buzz.
At some point, maybe an hour or so after the pool game, I looked over to where I'd last seen Maureen and she was no longer there. The group of wives was still clumped together, many of them munching on appetizers from the buffet table, so I knew she hadn't wandered off with them. I didn't give the matter much thought right then, figuring that she'd probably just gone to the bathroom. It was only when she still hadn't returned twenty minutes later that I excused myself and went to go see what had become of her.
To my utter surprise I found her seated at the bar with Julie, the two of them laughing and giggling like schoolgirls. They both had margaritas before them and Steve was pouring them shots of tequila. As I watched from across the room they smiled at each other drunkenly and then drank down the tequila shooters in one swoop, giggling some more. They slammed the glasses back down to the bar and then high-fived each.
I walked over to them, curious as to how my wife had ended up a drinking buddy to "that woman". Maureen's eyes lit up happily when she saw me.
"Eric!" she said drunkenly. "There you are!" She stood to give me another one of her sloppy kisses but she stumbled on her unsteady feet instead, falling into me. "Oops," she slurred, straightening herself up with a little effort and holding onto my shoulders. "I guess there was a little earthquake or somethin' there, huh?" She gave me a kiss, sliding her tongue briefly into my mouth. It tasted strongly of tequila and lime.
"How many drinks have you had?" I asked her, amused at seeing her in such a state. As I said earlier, Maureen was a very rare drinker.
She scrunched her face up in concentration for a moment and then started counting on her fingers. She gave up when she reached eight. "A lot," she finally answered. "Steve's been pouring 'em for Jules and I."
Jules? Had she really just called the thorn in every wife's side Jules?
I helped her back over to her stool and then grabbed the seat next to her. Julie, whose eyes were quite glassy and whose face was quite flushed, smiled at me. "I've been using your wife to keep the perverts away from me," she said, her own words quite thick and slurred. "They won't come near me when one of the wives club is with me."
"Yep," Maureen agreed. "Did you know that some of those guys you work with are always coming on to her?" She punctuated each of her words with a jab at my chest with her finger, as if I was personally responsible for that.
"I uh... might've heard something about that," I said, feeling I was on thin ice.
"But not Eric though," Julie told her, reaching around Maureen to pat me on the shoulder. "He's one of the nicest ones we got there. You should be..." she burped a little, "... excuse me. You should be proud of him Maury. He's a fine example of a man."
"I think I'll keep him," she said, hugging me close and giving a kiss on the cheek.
Julie seemed on the verge of saying something else, something profound. But then her expression abruptly changed, becoming softer. "I gotta pee," she announced, staggering to her feet.
"I'll go with you," Maureen told her, dragging herself off of her bar stool as well. "We'll be back in a minute." With that they linked arms and stumbled off. I watched them go in confusion.
"What the hell happened here?" I asked Steve, who had dumped out the stale beer in my glass and was filling me up a fresh one.
He smiled. "It seems your wife and Julie have hit it off," he told me.
"No shit," I said. "How'd it happen?"
"Well," he explained, "Maureen came in here to freshen up her drink and they just started talking. I think your wife was only being polite at first but then Julie happened to mention something about her children. That's all it took. Maureen started talking about your children and before you know it, the two of them are downing shots together and calling each other nicknames."
"Amazing," I said, picking up my fresh beer and letting a little slide down my throat.
Steve leaned in a little closer. "Julie did you right too," he told me. "She told Maureen that you're one of the few men in the department that isn't constantly hitting on her. She said you're a perfect gentleman when you work together."
"She did?" I said, thinking that this was both good and bad. On the one hand it let Maureen know that I was in fact a perfect gentleman. But on the other hand I had worked hard over the years to give the impression that I never actually had to work with Julie. That impression would now be destroyed. True, Maureen didn't seem to mind at the moment while she had a pint or so of tequila in her veins, but what would happen tomorrow? I decided not to worry about it at the moment.
The two of them came stumbling back a few minutes later, their arms now actually around each other's shoulders. They wasted no time in downing the rest of their margaritas. "Light us up again Stevie!" Julie told him, slamming her glass down on the bar nearly hard enough to break it.
Steve smiled and lit them up again.
An hour and three more drinks later the two women were still inseparable. I sat with them sipping out of my beer as they talked of a variety of subjects in their loud, drunken voices. There was little that wasn't taboo in the state they were in. Maureen gave a lengthy dissertation on the horrors of having her period start unexpectedly while in a public place. Julie countered this by telling of the time she had broken both of her wrists in a bicycle accident and had to have her husband wipe her butt for her for a period of three weeks.
"Now that's true love," Maureen proclaimed.
"Naww," Julie scoffed. "He was an asshole. He only did it 'cause he was too fuckin' cheap to hire a nurse for me." She shook her head a little. "I'm tellin' you. Don't ever marry for money. It's not fuckin' worth it."
This cracked both of them up for some reason that I wasn't able to follow. They clutched each other's shoulders and nearly fell off the stools - would have if I hadn't reached out and pushed them both back up.
"I wanna smoke," Maureen suddenly declared. "Let's go out back and get a cigarette from one of them guys out there."
"Yeah!" Julie said excitedly. "Let's do it."
They staggered to their feet once again and started heading for the door, their arms around each other's shoulders again. I stared after them in astonishment. As far as I knew, my wife had never smoked a cigarette in her life. Nor had I ever seen Julie imbibing in the habit.
"You'd better go follow them," said Steve, who had been quietly tending bar throughout the entire thing. "It looks like they're in the mood for trying new things. A man can have a lot of fun with that if he plays his cards right."
"Huh?" I asked, not having the slightest idea what he was talking about.
"Just go with the flow," he told me, giving a wink. "Let the currents of the evening take you where they will."
With these mystic words echoing in my ear, I got up and went after them. I caught up out in the backyard where they had found Jeff and Rhonda, both of whom were smokers.
"Thanks," Maureen was telling Jeff as she accepted a Marlboro from his pack. He lit it for her and she inhaled deeply, blowing the smoke out through her nose and not coughing in the least. "Ahhh," she said with satisfaction. "Nothing like a good smoke."
"Hell yeah," Jeff agreed with a grin as he pulled another one out for Julie.
He lit her cigarette for her and then offered one to me, which I declined. Once they had them burning they staggered over to a small wooden bench about three feet away and plopped themselves down. As she adjusted herself on her seat Julie's summer dress rode up considerably. I caught the briefest flash of white between her pretty legs before she crossed them and pulled the hem back down. To my chagrin I saw that Maureen had noticed me noticing. Instead of being mad however she was grinning.
"You pervert," she said lightly, kicking at me playfully with one of her feet.
"A pervert?" Julie piped up, taking another quick drag of her smoke. "What he do?"
"He was lookin' up your dress," she said, much to my horror.
But surprisingly Julie wasn't upset about this either. She only giggled again. "It's a good thing I wore my clean panties today, ain't it?" she asked.
While I blushed red at being both caught and informed upon, everyone within five square meters had a laugh at my expense.
As the two women smoked their cigarettes they talked to Jeff and Rhonda, both of whom were well into the land of intoxication themselves. It was Maureen who first brought up the subject of Rhonda's belly-button ring. They talked of how long she had had it (two years) and how much it hurt to have it put in (a little more than a shot, a little less than a urinary tract infection).
"It looks really sexy," Julie said, leaning forward to take a closer look at it.
"Yeah," Maureen agreed. "I've thought about getting one before but I was always afraid of it hurting all the time."
I looked at her in surprise. This was certainly the first time that I had ever heard her mention that she had thought about getting a belly button piercing.
"It doesn't hurt once it's in," Rhonda told her.
"Not even when you... you know... you're doing it?" Maureen asked.
"No," she said, shaking her head strenuously. "In fact, it feels real good."
"For who?" Julie wanted to know. "You or him?"
"For me," she said. "It's like there's this nerve path that runs from the boobs down to the clitoris. When you pierce your belly button and put a stud or a ring in there, it's like you're tapping into that nerve path. It's electric in a way."
"No shit?" Maureen said, actually reaching out and running her finger over Rhonda's belly button to get a feel of it. Rhonda didn't seem to mind. In fact, she squirmed a little under the touch, something that definitely got my attention (as well as Jeff's).
"Ooooh," Rhonda squealed, goose bumps clearly rising on the flesh around her navel. "Don't do it too much or you'll get me going."
"Wow," Julie said, her eyes glowing. "Is it really that sensitive?"
"You have no idea," Rhonda told her, finally withdrawing from Maureen's finger since Maureen seemed to have no intention of ceasing her diddling of the ring on her own. "You know what the best part is though?"
"What?" both of them wanted to know.
"It's when someone licks the ring," she told them. "When Jeff puts his tongue on it it's like... like totally bitchin. Instant wet panties if you know what I mean. It sends tingles running up and down my body, all the way along that nerve path." She shot an affectionate look over at him. "And he knows how to take advantage of that now. Any time he wants to get me in bed he just gives me a few licks on the ring and I'm his."
Jeff grinned at them knowingly, not saying anything but confirming her story with his facial expression.
"I want a belly button ring," Maureen said, turning towards me. "Hon, I want you to go with me to get one."
"Me too," Julie said. "I want a ring too."
"Let's go now!" Maureen suggested.
"Yeah!" Julie said excitedly. "Let's do it!"
I hated to be the bearer of bad news, especially since the idea of my wife getting a belly-button ring was somewhat appealing (particularly in light of the possibility that I could get her going anytime I wanted to just by licking it), but I felt as the only sober person present in the discussion that it was my duty to point out a few facts. "Uh... I don't think we can do that right now," I told them.
"Why not?" Maureen demanded, putting a pout on her face.
"Yeah," Julie said, joining with her ally. "Why not?"
"I'll be happy to take you down to get a belly button ring," I said. "But they're not allowed to do that to people that are drunk and I hardly think that you two could pass for sober."
Rhonda started laughing at me.
"What?" I asked her.
"Sorry dude," she said apologetically, "but you really don't know what you're talking about. They don't give a damn whether you're drunk, stoned, under eighteen, or even breathing as long as you got good old legal tender with you."
This immediately caught the two women's attention. "Really?" Maureen asked her.
She gave a knowing look. "Trust me on this," she said. "I have three tattoos and three piercings and I was drunker than shit for every one of them. They don't care."
While I was left to wonder where her other tattoos and piercings were - she only had one of each visible - Julie anticipated my next argument and articulated it for me. "Will any of them be open right now?" she asked, looking at her watch. "It's almost nine."
"Bodyworks over at Douglas and Sunrise is open 'til midnight," Rhonda said. "That's where I got all of mine done."
"Do you have to make an appointment?" Maureen asked.
Rhonda found this to be particularly funny. "No," she said. "Just go in there and tell him what you want. Tell him that Rhonda Jenkins sent you. He'll know who I am."
"Let's go," Maureen told me, pulling herself to her feet. She grabbed my arm and used me to hold herself up. "Come on babe, take us down there! I want to get a belly button ring."
"Take me too," Julie said, using my other arm to pull herself up with. Once again I caught the briefest flash of her panties. This time my gaze went unnoticed.
With no more arguments to offer, I had no choice but to take them. We made our way out of the house without saying goodbye to anyone. Probably the only person that noticed our departure was Steve. He gave me a wink and a mysterious smile as I escorted the two drunken ladies out the door.
We piled into Julie's car since it was the closest. It was a black Volkswagen Jetta with a bumper sticker that read: ENGINEERS DO IT WITH PRECISION. I climbed behind the wheel and, at Julie's insistence, Maureen took the shotgun position. Julie herself crammed into the cramped back seat.
Douglas and Sunrise was in one of the seedier parts of our suburb and the drive took about fifteen minutes. On the way over Maureen once again embarrassed me by describing in exacting detail my vasectomy, which I had undergone shortly after the birth of our second child and which she had watched.
"The doctor put him in one of those stirrup chairs just like they have in the gynecologist's office," she told her new friend.
"He didn't!" Julie said, laughing at the thought.
"He did!" she confirmed. "And then he tied his... you know... his..."
"His dick?" she suggested, making both of them crack up and making a fresh blush appear on my face.
"Right," Maureen said. "He tied his dick up to his shirt with this gauze thingy. And then he gave him a shot right in the balls with this little needle. He made a tiny little cut on the sack with a scalpel and then...".
The description went on for some time, causing both of them to crack up on many occasions. I said nothing and continued to drive. Their topic of conversation finally switched from vasectomies to what sort of package Rhonda's boyfriend Jeff might be endowed with. Their comments on this subject were quite bawdy as well.
Finally I pulled into the strip mall that housed the tattoo and piercing parlor that Rhonda had directed us to. In addition to Bodyworks there was a liquor store, a porno shop, two dangerous looking bars, and a Harley shop. I parked as close as I could get to our destination, made a quick check of the area for security reasons, and then, deeming it safe to egress, shut off the engine and opened the door. Maureen and Julie, both still using each other as supports, staggered out and followed me to the entrance.
The inside of the shop was not terribly large. All four walls were filled from ceiling to knee level with drawings of tattoo designs, everything from dragons to naked women to rock group emblems. A display case near the rear of the room contained a variety of earrings, studs, and other adornments meant to be forcibly driven through human flesh. This case formed a counter of sorts, behind which sat a man who looked like he had just walked out of a prison. He was wearing a pair of tattered shorts and a wife-beater shirt. His hair was long and greasy looking and practically every square inch of exposed skin, including much of his face, was adorned with tattoos. He had several earrings dangling from each ear and one hanging from his left eyebrow. He looked at the three of us expressionlessly as we entered his shop and I began to wonder just how good of an idea this really was. I had no problem at all envisioning him raping and murdering each and every one of us for no other reason than it was a slow night and he was bored.
"Evening," he said, his voice rough though polite. "What can I help you folks with?"
"Belly button rings!" Maureen yelled enthusiastically. "We want belly button rings!"
"Fuckin aye!" echoed Julie. "Rhonda Jenkins sent us here. She says you'd know her."
He smiled fondly at some memory. "Oh yes," he said. "I know Rhonda all right. So who wants the piercing done? Just the ladies?"
"Just the ladies," I confirmed.
"Okay," he told them. "My name is Ray. I'll be performing the procedure." He named his price and then told them to pick out the rings that they wanted from the display. "Of course the law says that I'm not to tattoo or pierce anyone who's been drinking," he warned. "You ladies haven't been doing any of that, have you?"
"Fuck no!" Julie said, stumbling over her own foot and nearly falling.
"Never touch the shit," Maureen put in, trying to make a cross my heart gesture but lacking the coordination.
"I didn't think so," Ray said, satisfied that the legalities were covered. "Let's find you some jewelry."
Maureen picked out a small gold ring to adorn her new piercing. Julie, after a few moments of indecision, finally settled on an exact duplicate of it. "It'll be like we're sisters," she said, hugging Maureen to her.
"Yeah, sisters," my wife said, nearly teary-eyed with the thought.
Ray accepted their credit cards and rang up the purchases. Once the transaction was completed he went over and changed the sign on the front of the door from "open" to "closed." "Who wants to go first?" he asked.
Maureen elected to take the plunge first. Ray led us all through a wooden door and into the back room of the shop. Here a table that looked very much like that found in a doctor's examination room was installed in the floor. Just above it was a shelf full of antiseptics. A wheeled cart parked on the other side contained needles and trays and a tattoo gun. On the far wall were an autoclave and some other sterilization equipment. The smell in the place was of rubbing alcohol and acetone.
"Okay," Ray told my wife. "If you'll hop up on the table and expose the navel, we'll get started."
She staggered over to the table and planted her butt on it. Laying back on her back she asked, "just how exposed do I have to get?"
"Just pull your shirt up to below your breasts and unbutton your pants. You don't have to strip down or anything like that."
"Oh... okay," she said, actually sounding a tad disappointed.
She unbuttoned her jeans and folded them down just to the point where the top two inches of her flowered panties were showing. She then hiked up her shirt a little to just below her bra cups. This left her stomach and belly button plainly displayed for the work that Ray was about to embark upon.
I must admit that I was pretty impressed by the piercing procedure. I had expected Ray to just pull an old rusty nail or something out of his pocket and run her through. Instead he donned a pair of latex gloves and spent the better part of five minutes sterilizing the area around her navel. Once that was done he wiped her clean with a sterile towel and opened up a package that contained an 18-gauge needle. From another sterile package he removed an instrument that looked like a surgical clamp (or a roach clip, depending upon your upbringing). He clipped the clamp onto the flesh near the top of her belly button and pulled, stretching it out and upward.
"Are you ready?" he asked her, the needle in his right hand.
"Give it to me," she told him.
"Gonna hurt a little," he said, touching the needle to the underside of the skin. "Hold still."
Julie was holding her left hand and I was holding her right. Ray poked into her flesh with the needle, the skin actually stretching out a quarter inch or so before the tip of the needle came through the other side. Maureen squealed a little and squeezed our hands.
"Goddamn, that hurt!" she said, although good-naturedly.
Ray pulled the needle free leaving a single drop of blood. He wiped it away and then threaded her new ring through the hole that he had just made, clamping it shut.
"That was so bitchin," Julie said, her eyes shining.
"Nothing to it," Ray told her. He wiped her down one more time, put a little hydrogen peroxide on the ring and the flesh around it, and then covered the whole thing with a piece of gauze that he taped in place. "Now keep that bandage in place for at least 24 hours."
Maureen agreed to do as he said. She pulled her shirt back down, buttoned her pants, and then Julie and I helped her off of the table. She gave each of us a hug and a sloppy kiss on the cheek.
"My turn now," Julie said, staggering over to the table. She stopped at the edge and looked down at herself, realizing for the first time that exposing her belly button was not going to be quite as simple as it had been for Maureen. "Oh my god," she said, suddenly embarrassed. "I'm wearing a dress. How am I going to... you know?"
"You'll have to pull your dress up for him," Maureen told her.
"Oh my god!" she exclaimed, blushing a little.
"Either that or take it all the way off," I couldn't help but suggest.
Ray followed this conversation placidly, his face never changing expression. "You can just pull it up to expose the area," he said clinically. "Believe me, you don't have anything that I haven't seen before. I've done tattoos on women's vaginal lips. I've pierced clitorises a thousand times. Just think of me as a doctor."
Julie seemed to consider this for a moment and then she shrugged. "Okay. I guess that's all right then." Now I of course was expecting to be banished from the room for the duration of my co-worker's piercing in light of this new development. But to my surprise she reached down, grabbed the hem of her summer dress, and hiked it up to her waist, exposing her toned legs and her panties.
"Julie!" Maureen chided with a giggle. "You're making my husband's eyes bug out."
"He already looked at them once at the party," she said, planting her butt on the table and laying back. "I'm sure he won't tell anyone he saw me in my undies, will you Eric?"
"Not a chance," I said, trying to make it look like I wasn't interested in what she was showing while memorizing every detail. Her panties were the plain cotton type, solid white, the name brand stitched across the waistband. They were neither granny panties nor bikini briefs, just a normal, everyday set of respectable women's underwear. They were stretched tightly across her crotch, just a hint of a bulge showing from the pubic mound beneath. A few stray strands of this hair, light blonde in color, protruded from around the edges of the crotch. She positioned herself on the table and pulled her dress all the way to her lower chest, just bringing the bottoms of her bra cups into view. Her stomach was flat and tanned, a few stretch marks visible just above the top of her panties.
"Girlfriend, we're gonna have to get you some more interesting panties," Maureen said, taking her left hand as Ray began preparing her stomach for the procedure. "White cotton? Please."
"I'm an engineer," Julie told her. "We're methodical, practical people. White cotton is cheap and lasts a long time. Besides, who ever sees them but me?" She giggled again. "Except for now that is."
"Eric's an engineer," she countered. "He's got some black bikini briefs that he..."
"Uh," I interrupted, "could we leave my underwear out of the discussion?"
"Why?" Maureen asked. "You look cute in them."
While they engaged in an animated discussion of how my ass looked in my black bikini briefs, Ray went methodically and expressionlessly about his work. He sterilized Julie's tummy and then wiped it clean. A fresh needle was extracted from it's packaging. Out came a fresh clamp and then it was time for the stab.
"Fuck my mother!" Julie screeched as the needle poked through. "That hurt!"
"All over now though," Ray said, wiping away the blood and picking up the gold ring. He clipped it into place, gave Julie a moment to admire her new piercing, and then covered it up with gauze and tape. A second later we pulled her to her feet and my view of her panties disappeared from sight, although not from mind.
The two women thanked Ray several times and he offered one last reminder about the care and use of their rings. With that we said our farewells and headed out the door, the two women once again leaning on each other for support. We piled back into Julie's Jetta and I pulled out of the parking lot.
"Back to the party?" I asked.
"Fuck that," Julie said. "I don't wanna go back and have all those drunks try to get in my panties. Let's go get a drink somewhere!"
"Yeah!" Maureen agreed. "Let's go to that bar over by our house! You know, the one by the mall?"
It was then that I remembered the words of Steve. Let the currents of the night take you where they will. Steve was indeed a wise man. "I got an idea," I piped up. "Lets go back to our house."
"Our house?" Maureen asked.
"It's not too far away," I said. "And the kids are gone for the night. I'll stop at the liquor store and pick us up some booze."