The Kindness of Strangers
Chapter 1

Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa,

Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1 - This is a rather down beat story. The ninth Tony and Nancy Story.

It's always a shock when someone you've known dies unexpectedly. But when it's your oldest friend's daughter, whom you've known from birth, baby-sat, bought presents for over the years and who always called you 'uncle' and who was only eighteen, it hits you like a sledge hammer.

Bill and Connie were two of my closest friends. Bill and I had met when we were assigned the same dorm room in college and I'd actually introduced him to Connie, who was a blind date set up by a girl I was seeing at the time. It was the early seventies and we had become more than close. Bill and I were pretty much an odd match up, he being in business and me an arts major in photography. His parents were rich and mine were blue collar. His tuition was paid and I was a scholarship student who'd lucked into being accepted at Ann Arbor by the skin of my teeth.

One thing we had in common was an interest in smoking dope and bedding as many girls as we could. And sometimes we'd bed the same girls, sometimes at the same time. I can't say for sure how many girls we 'double teamed' during our college career, not without taking a long time to go through old photos and racking my brains, but it was somewhere between twenty and thirty. And when I say that I was close to him and his wife Connie, I mean we were skin to skin close, and not just during our wild and crazy college days. Don't get me wrong here, I wasn't sneaking off with Connie for a little adultery now and then. Whenever I would go to visit them, I would usually sleep in their bed more often than not. It wasn't all one way, as when they would come and visit me when they were passing through the bay area, they would always come and spend the night with Nancy and me.

Darlene was born about eighty one, and this put a cramp in our unusual friendship when she was old enough to be aware of mommy and daddies friend's sleeping arraignments. It didn't keep us from having sex with each other, but we knew that kids pick up stuff and we made sure to keep our displays of affection down whenever she was around. They lived outside of California and Nancy and I visited them in New Mexico, Oregon, Florida and New York. Bill's company kept transferring him as he worked his way up through the ranks.

The 'keeping up appearances' in front of Darlene strategy had, (we thought, ) been successful and it wasn't until after she died that I found out just how wrong we were about that, but I am getting ahead of the story here. She was attending Berkeley and being 'old friends of her parents', Nancy and I had invited her over to our place for dinner a few times and I would make it a point whenever I had to go over to the east bay area to try to get together with her and take her to lunch or dinner or whatever. Being an honorary uncle, I got to spoil her a bit. She was aware of the life style that Nancy and I enjoyed and was a pretty hip young woman. She'd sometimes come out for a weekend and sometimes brought boys with her, knowing that we didn't care about her sharing a bed with a boy. Sometimes the boys had a bit of trouble understanding that it was okay with us and would go through an awkward stage with us at first.

Bill and Connie had taken six weeks off in January and February and gone on safari in Africa. Not the Great White Hunter routine, but for taking photographs of the wild life and just getting away from everything. Bill had made sure that there was no way that they could be contracted, as the last two vacations that he'd tried to take had both been interrupted by emergencies involving his work and Connie had threatened him with castration if that happened again. Which is how I happened to get a phone call early on Monday morning from Darlene's roommate at Berkeley. Actually it was Nancy that got the call and ... well, to say that we were both in shock is an understatement.

The circumstances of the tragedy were simple. A gasoline tanker going over Donner Pass in the Sierra's had lost control after an SUV driver going too fast for the conditions had spun out in front of the tractor tanker. The driver had swerved to miss it, jackknifed and hit a guard rail, bouncing back into three other cars inching their way over the summit in a snow storm. Darlene and some of her friends were in one of the cars and the tank full of gasoline had split and there were eighteen dead in the accident. That was on Friday night and it took the police a while to identify the victims. All of their belongings and identification was incinerated in the fire and they had to trace who the driver was from the license plate, then find out who the others in the car with her were.

Darlene's roommate had spent the weekend on a Christian retreat and hadn't gotten back to the dorm until Sunday evening and there was a message taped to the door of their room. She'd called the number and then been informed that her roomy was dead. Darlene and her roommate weren't on the best of terms, her roommate trying to convert her to her evangelical brand of Christian fundamentalism and Darlene finally having to give her an ultimatum about it. I knew about this from conversations with Darlene and had always gotten a frosty attitude from her whenever I called Darlene on the phone and the bible thumper picked up the phone. It put a cramp in Darlene's style and she had been intending to make other living arraignments as soon as the semester ended. When the police couldn't get an answer at Bill and Connie's, they'd asked her if she knew of any other friends of her parents that they could contract. She'd been in shock and couldn't think of anyone right away. After they had gone, she'd thought about Darlene's 'Uncle Tony' and found our number in Darlene's day planner and called us. She might have been in shock, but I felt like smacking her from the phone conversation we had. She wanted to know when I could come and pick up Darlene's stuff and implied that she'd gotten what she deserved, making sure to mention that Darlene was planning on spending the weekend with a boy in a hotel room.

I got in touch with the police, who were understandably reluctant to disclose information to someone not a family member. I finally had to get out some family photos and go over to Berkeley and 'prove' that I was someone that she'd known and that I knew her parents and explaining the circumstances of Bill and Connie being out of touch. A call to Bill's company confirmed my story, but that was about as far as I could go with them, as they could only release the body to the family. This took several hours and it was exasperating, but they finally believed me and told me what they could about the accident.

I wasn't able to do anything further until we got in touch with Bill and Connie. Darlene's remains would have to wait in the morgue until a family member showed up. Nothing anyone could do about it, it was just 'one of those things.' Burying my closest friend's daughter would have to wait.

I drove over to her dorm and talked to the woman in charge of the dorm about picking up Darlene's things from her room. She and I went up to her dorm room and the Christer bitch she was sharing it with admitted that she knew that I was a friend of both Darlene and her parents. So after signing a piece of paper, I was allowed to start packing her stuff and get it out of the room. Her roommate, whose name was Kate, hung out while I was packing her stuff to make sure that I didn't take anything that didn't belong to Darlene. The residence den mother, or whatever her title was, picked up on the vibes and hung out and helped me pack up Darlene's stuff. The hostility from Kate was pretty evident.

I found a couple of vibrators in her bedside night table, along with some rubbers and lube. It didn't bother me, but embarrassed the resident den mother a little bit, but she didn't say anything. Kate started to say something about it, but I cut that off with a rather savage remark. She went storming out and left the den mother and I to finish packing in peace.

There is something odd about going through someone else's belongings. Darlene's life had stopped unexpectedly and there was a bag of dirty laundry that she'd left for a weekday night. There were study notes on her desk, post-its surrounding her computer screen, books from the library she'd taken out for class work, little mementoes of this or that that meant something but only to her. The den mother had sent someone out for boxes and we put her clothes into them. She sorted out the library books and put them into a box to return to the library for me. I noticed that she would get kind of embarrassed when we'd find something sexy, like the see-through underwear, or her vibrators and dildoes. She asked if I wanted her to get rid of it, but I said that it was all right. I'd been a college student once myself, and during the seventies. I didn't think that she was a virgin and explained that she would sometimes come over to Marin County, where Nancy and I lived, and bring boys with her for the weekend. After about three hours or so we had all of the stuff in her drawers and closet packed up and she went out to find the Christer bitch, just to make sure we had everything that belonged to Darlene. She came in and looked over what was still there and I packed up the remaining things that I hadn't been sure about. The den mother got some girls to come and help move the boxes and some of them had been Darlene's friends and told me how much they were going to miss her. I lost it there and had to go into the bathroom and cry for a while. Finally I got into my van and drove back over the Richmond Bridge and brought her worldly possessions back to our house, where I left them in the van until the next day. I was in no condition to deal with any of it right then.

The next morning, I lugged the boxes and stuff out of the van and Nancy and I sorted out clothes and stuff. Nancy started to do her laundry, fold up what was clean and put it in storage boxes. I got busy on the boxes of things from her desk, which had been sort of haphazardly just tossed in. I sorted out things that would have to be dealt with, like bankbooks and checking statements, from stuff like homework and the like. I put all of the addresses on napkins and her date planner aside, so that we would have them for her memorial service later. There were things like sketches, a few cartoons that someone had drawn, memento's from various trips and bars and such like that accumulated in anyone's life. Her mini-stereo and CD's I put in a box, putting the CD's that were in the changer into their jewel boxes. There were snapshots of friends of her's that I didn't know, a few of some boy friends that I had meet and I was glad that she'd labeled the back of them. Those I put aside to match up with the numbers in her address book.

Nancy gave me a hand with some of it, but she'd get kind of misty eyed at times and go check the laundry or make sandwiches or whatever. I kept working my way through the stuff she'd left behind, not wanting to set the job aside for later. I needed something to do to keep myself busy, but it was torture, going through the girls stuff like that. Sad, meloncolic, sometimes just plain brutal. There were pictures from a picnic at Pt Reyes that we'd had last fall. A shot of her and a boyfriend that I had taken out in the back yard of our house: Nancy just couldn't handle it.

Darlene had been a very bright, vibrant young girl and had always been welcome in our house. She'd never gone through the 'awkward' stage of growing up, but had this long, coltish grace to her that she got from her mother. Connie was one of those long necked, small breasted women who reeked of elegance and her daughter had inherited her slender good looks.

She had a small Mac notebook computer for doing her homework on and I cleared off some space on my desk and plugged it in. I fired it up and checked her to do lists and found her inter net address book in the machine. I didn't have any information about who any of those people were, and briefly thought about sending out an email to everyone on her list telling them what had happened, but I just couldn't figure out what to say. Sorry your friend/acquaintance/student/other is dead and there will be a memorial service sometime in the future as soon as we can get in touch with her parents once we find out where they are? I browsed through her calendar and saw mostly things about school work, like when certain reports were do and when certain finals would be, call so and so about such and such.

This had been a very long, long day and I finally had enough and went out and poured myself a drink of whiskey someone had given me for a gift for some occasion. I got ready to toss it down straight, then paused and raised my glass and said 'to you Darlene, ' and slammed it down.

Then I went to bed and lay there for a while. Nancy came in and looked at me and climbed in and held me and we talked about how we felt about it all and we fell asleep finally, fairly early for us.

The next day, I was somewhat over my shock and we started to figure out what we could do about the situation. There wasn't any way we could put off trying to find Bill and Connie, and there wasn't anyone that I knew in Oregon that knew them, or where they lived. Nancy dug through the Christmas cards and found their new address and I booked a plane to Portland, paying through the nose for the last minute tickets.

The airport was its usual catastrophe with construction and the chaos of the flights returning from the holidays. I was seated in the exact middle of the airplane, with young couples on either side of me who were more interested in each other than the old guy in the middle so I had time for my thoughts. I tried to lose myself in the best seller I had picked up at an airport shop, but there wasn't anyway that I could concentrate, and set it aside.

I got a rental car and a map and went off to find the new house that Bill and Connie had just bought last spring. Nancy and I hadn't been up to visit them in their new digs, and it took me a while to find the place. I found the key in the backyard planter where they usually left it and went into the house through the back door. Right inside the door way was a keypad for the alarm system and I didn't have a clue about what the code was for it, so just picked up the phone and dialed 911.

When the cops got there, the emergency operator was still on the phone and I had almost developed a relationship and I had put together a pot of coffee while we talked. The constant Oregon rain makes me think that it's always seven a.m., and there isn't enough coffee on the planet to make me really wide awake when the day is constantly overcast.

When the cop came up on the back porch with his gun drawn, I was still on the phone and just motioned him in through the back door. A guy in his fifties holding a cup of coffee isn't the usual kind of burglar they get up there, so he relaxed somewhat and I invited him in and asked what he wanted in his coffee? It took some explaining and we had to find our way through the house to the front door to let his partner in. I had let the emergency operator go after it was obvious that I wasn't trying to make off with the silverware and the TV and she had called them on their radios so they knew that I had been talking to her and they had a few words with her on the phone and we sat around and had coffee while I explained the reason I was in Bill and Connie's kitchen. For proof, we went wandering around the house until I located the book case they kept their photo albums in and showed them a lot of pictures of me and Bill, going back to our college days. It was a slow day for them, and they helped me look around the house for clues about how to get in touch with my friends and tell them their only child was dead. It sucked, being in that cold house and having to go through a lot of things that I usually would never see of theirs. How often have your browsed through a friend of yours desk looking for a credit card statement or a bankbook?

The cops were pretty helpful, actually, something I would have found hard to believe in my younger days. They were especially good about calling their desk sergeant and having him call the bank to find out if there was a check drawn on a travel agency, but no luck there, either. They kept me company until we finally admitted we didn't have any good clues to go on, and they took off after talking to their sergeant again about having missing persons give me some help getting the credit card company to spring loose of an advanced copy of their bill. One of them actually suggested that I try the State Department in Washington to see if they could help, but we decided to see if the credit card bill would show where they bought their tickets. Besides, it was too late to call Washington, as everyone would have gone home by then.

Being in a cold house is creepy and the chill was just coming out of the air in the place as the cops were leaving. I figured I was pretty much on my own for a while, and went out for some food. I walked around in the shopping mall near their house and wondered if Darlene had hung out here with the teen age kids? Then I thought about it, and realized that they hadn't lived here that long, and she'd had her driver's license for a while, so probably not. Which brought me around to figuring out how to the hell would we get together a service for her? She'd spent three or four years in the last place that Bill's company had sent him, then maybe five, no, was it six? Or seven? Years of being pulled in and out of schools might be a problem, because where were her friends these days? Berkeley? Not too many in Portland, they'd only been here since the start of the summer and we hadn't come up because they would be coming down in the fall when Darlene started her sophomore year. Shit, where are we going to bury her? That took me out of the mall and into that dreary rainy day and back to the house I'd had such a hard time finding the first time, and practice didn't make perfect, as the exits and entrances didn't line up on the freeway and it was pushing five o'clock when I got back there.

The cops had gotten the alarm company to disable the alarm until I left. I drove the rental into the driveway, but didn't bother with the garage. I'd say that there was a good chance that any cars that they owned would never see the inside of that garage, as Bill had his wood working stuff set up in there. He said it helped him sometimes to actually make stuff with his hands, as he worked with his head all day and produced nothing but paper. Nice knowing trees were good for something else, he'd laughed.

The house was nice and toasty and I was surprised to find lights on in the house and nobody there. One table had a cord draped all over it and plugged into a box with a dial that was in an extension cord and I realized they had set up timers to make the place look occupied while they were gone. I went around and turned off a few of the lights or turned them up. There was a fire laid out in the fireplace and I torched off the kindling. It took me a while to find the flue and the house filled with smoke. Once I had the flue solved, I had to open the front and back doors to air the place and propped the back one open with a chair. There was enough of a breeze to clear out the smoke but it took a while. While I was waiting and shivering, I decided that a good stiff drink was what I needed right then and searched through the cupboards for a while. I finally opened up the freezer and found a bottle of Stoli, some canned o.j. and figured what the hell. Where Bill kept his bourbon would have to wait, and with that thought, I proceeded to make a screwdriver by pouring vodka into a glass and spooning in some concentrate. I closed the back door, walked through the house and was just about to close the front door when a woman came up the stairs with an apprehensive look on her face.

"Hi," I said, "I'm Tony from California. I'm up here trying to get in touch with Connie and Bill. You have any idea of where there are in Africa right now? It's an emergency."

"How did you get in?"

"Key under the geranium. Uh, the police came out when I saw there was an alarm. Here's their card." I'd put them in my shirt pocket and dug them out.

"What is with the smoke?"

"Uh, I lit a fire and couldn't find the handle for the flue."

She eased up on her body language and relaxed. Obviously, not many burglars start fires and then have to fumble around with the flue.

"What's wrong?"

"Uh, you know Darlene?" I asked. Maybe she was an off duty cop, but I kind of doubted it from her clothes. She nodded.

"She practically lived over in our pool last summer."

"Well, I have some terrible news. She was in an accident."

"Oh, god. How bad is it?"

I didn't know how to put it. "About as bad as it can get." I said heavily.

"Oh, god, this is going to kill Connie." She said softly.

"Yeah." We stood there for a second, two strangers who had known a girl for a while, and I guess she could see that I was taking it pretty heavily. She looked pretty shocked.

"You have any idea where they are?" I finally asked.

"Yes. I booked their trip." She said, somewhat absently. She sighed deeply, knowing that the news was going to make a lousy ending to their dream vacation. "What happened?"

I was standing their on the porch, with a drink in my hand that I hadn't taken more than a sip out of, freezing my butt off in the chill wet air. It wasn't raining right then, but it would be in another few minutes. "Come on in and I'll tell you about it."

She had had her hand behind her back the whole time we had been talking, and when she brought it out, there was a fairly serious looking automatic pistol in it. She glanced at me then put it in her purse. I went inside and held the door for her and she followed me in.

She was an attractive looking woman in her late thirties, early forties. She had an athletic movement to her walk, and a figure that was very good under those tailored office clothes. She took off her coat and the furnace and fire was making it cozy in the living room.

"If you want a drink, I am afraid I could only find the vodka and orange juice."

"The rest of the booze is in the family room." I followed her through to the back living room and found out that the good stuff was in a white wicker cabinet. I spotted some Jack Daniel's and reached over her head and grabbed it.

"I'm not much of a vodka drinker," I answered her inquiring look, "But I've had a very bad afternoon and really needed a drink just before you got here, so I snagged the Stoli and OJ, but I don't really need a drink that is colder than it is outside right now, if you know what I mean."

"Okay." She had a bottle of scotch in her hand and we went into the kitchen where she grabbed a glass out of a cupboard and I reloaded my glass with something more to my preference. I put some tap water into it and we went out into the living room.

"So what happened?"

I explained the ski trip and what had happened in the mountains. She was horrified at the details of the accident and we knocked back a few drinks while the story was being told. I'd brought a small pitcher of water with me and we made the drinks and drank them, not even getting up from the couch.

"Excuse me for a minute, will you?"

I thought she was going to the john, but she went into the kitchen and dialed the phone there. I could hear her talking, but couldn't hear the words she was saying. She came back and picked up her glass, but didn't sit down. "Madge is going to fax me over their itinerary, I'll be back as soon as I get out of these clothes." I nodded, and she left.

This melancholy errand I was on made me miss her presence. The house wasn't familiar to me and I felt like an interloper in it. There was familiar furniture and some of the pictures on the walls I had seen in other houses they had lived in. I got up off the couch and wandered over and looked at some of the pictures hanging on the walls. There was one of Nancy in a straw hat that I had taken and one of Connie, Bill and I together in Hawaii one year. God, we were young. I kind of lost it a little, as there was one that I had taken of Darlene, looking back over her shoulder at the beach, an impish grin on her face. I think she was about eight or nine, and it was cropped so you can't really tell that she's naked on a free beach in west Marin not too far from where we lived now. I toasted her younger self, kind of half smiled and choked on a laugh. She'd just farted and was being miss smart aleck, having delivered some kind of 'so there!' line just before I had clicked the shutter and caught her grin for all time. Then I just cried for a while, there in the living room in a house my friends owned that I had never visited, looking over the side table in their dining room at the wallpapered wall covered with pictures of good times and laughter and Darlene.

I don't know how long I stood there, one hand holding a glass and the other holding my face. I finally got it somewhat back together and wiped my eyes and snuffled some. I passed my sleeve over my face and turned around. I took a shaky breath and let it out. Whoever it was was looking at me with sympathy on her face, standing in the archway between the living room and the dining room. She was wearing a jump suit instead of the office outfit she'd had on and had taken her make up off. "Sorry, it just finally hit me." I gestured with my thumb over my shoulder.

"Should I leave?"

"No, please don't."

She nodded. I didn't want to be alone in that strange house right then and she seemed like a sympathetic person. I exhaled loudly. "Thanks. I'll try to keep it together."

"No need. Are you the Tony of Tony and Nancy?"


"They all talk about you and Nancy." I nodded. "How's she taking this?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. I was waiting to call her until I could tell her something about how the search was going."

"You should call her."

"Yeah, I will as soon as I call them."

She glanced at her wrist watch. "It's about a quarter to five in the morning there right now. How about we wait a bit on that call? I had Marge down at the office book them back here and their flight won't leave until eleven thirty five." Yeah, might as well let them sleep for a while longer, no two ways about it, today was going to be as shitty a day as they could possibly have. I nodded.

"Better call your girlfriend," she said gently.

"In a little while. She's not going to be home from work until six thirty. The IRS auditors are there today and she has to be there to go over the books with them."

"Jesus." She shook her head. "The fun never stops," she murmured.

"Yeah. I think I'm going to have another drink. Want one?"

"Yeah, why not." She said glumly. I told her to sit down and went into the kitchen and brought in some more water for mix. I sat down on the couch and she added water and passed me over my JD. I waited for her to fill her own glass, and felt like I should be proposing a toast and clinking glasses with her, but just poured the stuff right down my gullet and leaned forward for a refill.

"Better go easy on that stuff, or you won't be able to talk in two hours."

I sighed. Yeah, she was right. I wasn't much of a drinker, but the booze wasn't hitting me like it usually did. I poured another one. "I'll nurse this one," I promised her, "but sometimes getting righteously stupid is just what the doctor ordered and I think I am about to get plastered tonight."

She studied her glass for a while, and then looked me squarely in the eye. "Sounds like a damn good plan, all things considered." She clinked her glass against mine and knocked back her scotch like a longshoreman and reached to pour another while she was still shaking from the sudden alcohol rush.

After the next drink, she pulled me out to the kitchen and started looking through what was there. She dug a chunk of hamburger out of the refrigerator and started putting together onions and tomato sauce and a lot of spices into a pan while she browned the meat. I helped out a little by chopping onions, but it wasn't a familiar kitchen to me and after the chopping was done, I sat at her bidding on a stool at the end of the counter and watched her make spaghetti.

"You know, I never did get your name," I said at one point. She looked startled for a minute, then said it was Charlene, but everyone called her Charlie. We talked while she worked and I picked up that her daughter and Darlene had shared the last bit of her senior year together. I thought it was nice that she'd made some friends here before going back to Berkeley.

We are in the breakfast nook instead of the dining room and she remembered that I had been referred to as 'Bill's crazy rock and roll room mate from college' and I laughed. She asked me questions about those old days and I explained how I knew them both. She nodded as I talked and I asked her about how she knew them and it turned out that Darlene had introduced them, having made friends with her kids. It came out her kids were spending the holidays with their father who was now living in Tulsa. He was a geology professor and this year was his sabbatical and he was doing some work for one of the oil companies in Oklahoma. I sensed that not having the kids around for the New Year's holidays wasn't being easy for her.

As much as I hadn't been hungry all day, I certainly made a pig of myself over her spaghetti. She'd gone home and brought back a good Chianti and a loaf of French bread and some salad that had been in her refrigerator. We sat around at the table for a while then I helped her clean the kitchen and stack the rinsed dishes in the dishwasher. Then I stayed in the kitchen and talked to Nancy for a while and she went out and tossed some more wood on the fire. Nancy asked me to call her back after I talked to Bill and Connie and I said I would, then we said good bye and I went into the living room and sat on the couch. Charley had turned down the lights and was sitting up against the back of the couch with her feet up under an afghan with a glass in her hand.

"Bill always talks about his friends down in California," she said. "But I wouldn't want to be making this call." I knew what she meant.

Well, finally it got to be seven o'clock in the morning in Kenya and I placed the long distance call and the less said about that, the better. I promised to take care of what I could and we discussed the travel arraignments Charley had made and she talked to Bill for a while after I explained about the coroner still having Darlene's remains in Reno. Charley knew about stuff like that and told him about how to deal with the coroner and then handed the phone back to me. Bill kept it together as well as he could, but finally hung up when Connie came back from her early morning swim and he had to deal with telling her. I could tell he was about to lose it big time and I sighed and looked at the phone on the counter in the kitchen and knew that there was a lousy day starting for my oldest friend on the other side of the world.

When I got back to the living room, there was a full glass full waiting for me and I picked it up and downed it in one go, then shivered and poured another.

The fact that I was supposed to call Nancy back had slipped my mind and I had another three under my belt when the phone rang and I had to talk to her about what I had talked to Bill about. One of her friends had come over and she said that she missed me and I told her the same and we talked about my driving back to California or waiting for a while and see if Bill and Connie needed anything. As neither of us knew what they wanted to do about a service, we kind of left it up in the air until we knew something further. We said our good byes and I went back to my new drinking buddy in the living room.

One nice thing about Charley, was that she gave me space to be silent in. I sat there and she kept our glasses filled for a couple of rounds and then I sighed again.

"It really sucks, doesn't it?"

"Tell me about it."

"This is really fucked up." I said, "No two ways about it."

She asked me if I had any idea of what Bill and Connie would want to do and I said I didn't. We sat there in silence for a minute, thinking about our friends. She shook her head. "I still can't believe it. She was so alive."

"Yeah. You wouldn't have any weed, would you?"

"Matter of fact, I do. I'fa, have a few buds. Be rid back." The way she was having trouble with her language made me wonder if she would be able to make it back. After a little conversation, it was agreed that I would accompany her. I had visions of staggering around in another strange house, with things crashing down, but a bud sounded just like what I needed right then.

As it turned out, she had a half ounce and some rolling papers out in her car, which was unlocked. We gathered the illicit herbs, trying to be quiet, but not having a lot of luck with that. Someone across the street fetching their evening paper off of their porch looked at us curiously, but just looked at us and then closed the door after nodding to us. I nodded back, while Charley ransacked her own glove box in search of papers.

Once we got inside, my talented fingers still remembered how to roll a bona fide Bay Area Bomber in a drunken condition. It got to be a night for talking, and she told me some things about Darlene that I had a feeling she wouldn't be sharing with Bill and Connie. Darlene had been having an affair that last summer with both her son, sixteen, and her daughter, eighteen. The reason she knew this is that she had forgotten to bring some papers she'd left at home into work with her and she had to have them signed before her client left town so they could do whatever it was they were doing. She'd walked in on her son in the kitchen, while Darlene was sitting across him and the kitchen chair. They hadn't heard her over the music and she was somewhat flabbergasted when her daughter waltzed through the sliding glass door to the pool in her birthday suit and casually French kissed Darlene on the way by as she went for the refrigerator. Darlene had laughed at whatever it was Misty, who was Charley's daughter, had said. Misty had just about reached the ice box when she saw her mother standing in the doorway into the hall from the kitchen. Knowing she was busted, she had quipped, 'Guess what ma! Donnie's not a virgin anymore!'

"Darlene looked over, saw that I was there and shrugged. I had to get the papers over to the bank and it was three thirty and rush hour was going to be happening if I didn't get a move on, so I said that I would talk to them later and left." She shrugged. "I knew my kids were having sex, or at least I thought that Misty was, but I wasn't sure. Certainly every parent expects it to happen some day, but so casually?"

"Well, sometimes it happens like that."

"Yeah." She looked over at me. "I guess it does." She gave me another glance, and then looked back at the fireplace. "Connie told me some stories about you guys."


"You and Connie really been making it since college?" She asked casually.


"And Bill's okay with that and she doesn't mind him making it with your girlfriend?"


"Hmm." She thought for a moment. "I don't know how I'd deal with something like that. Having it out in the open."

"It works for us. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it works for Nancy and me." She took a drink and I thought for a second or two. "I've lived a lot of my life out on the road, and sleeping alone is a bitch. Somehow, it just worked out right for us, knowing it was all right with the other if we had a little company along the way."

"The story that I was most fascinated by has to be a tall tale. Would you mind telling me the truth if I ask you something point blank? You don't have to answer if you don't want to, but if you do, I'd like to know you told me the truth about it."

"Sure. Go ahead and ask. I can always say no."

"Did you really bring your girlfriend a ballerina from Paris as a gift?"

I laughed out loud. "Yeah, but she was from Montreal, I just met her in Paris." She shook her head. "It's a long story, but basically, yeah, it happened." She shook her head again and smiled ruefully.

"Connie told me some pretty amazing stories. They can't be all true."

"Probably not, but I don't know which ones she told you."

"Your getting shot at a pornographic exhibit?"

"Got it backward, it was Nancy doing the shooting and the guy wasn't shot, she was just aiming at the ground between his feet."

"The one about your identical double?"

"That was just a coincidence."

"Jacking each other off while a teen age kid took pictures of you?"

"Christ, Connie must have been out to really yank your chain."

"Ah. I almost believed that one."

"Wait here." I got up and found the book upstairs in their bedroom bookcase and brought it back to her. I gave her the big black book and she glanced at it.

"The Cat's Ass?" she wondered aloud.

"Page seventy three." I went off for another bottle.

"Holy shit!" I heard her exclaim as I headed to the kitchen.

"Page seventy three!"

She flipped through the book and found the pages. The shot of Katrina and I looking at each other with that strange fascination we had, while our hands crossed over to the others crotch and we casually masturbated each other. I wasn't the long haired kid I was in those pictures, but she could still see it was me.

"You posed for this?"

"Yeah. Pretty wild, eh?"

"Wow! I'll say!" She thumbed through the book while I rolled another joint and laughed inside at the last time I'd been around when the book was opened. One of Darlene's boyfriend's had found our copy in the book case one day and he'd taken and shown it to her and said, "Doesn't she remind you of Nancy?" Darlene had taken a look, then flipped through the book and shown him five other pictures that she identified as Nancy and three of me. Considering how little most of the photos showed of our faces, it was pretty amazing. Nancy was kicked back on the couch and Darlene's boyfriend hadn't known she was in the room. "You sure?" He asked, doubting that these pictures were really of someone he knew.

"Damn right they're me." Nancy had called out. Darlene explained that her parents had a copy and that the woman who had taken them was her aunt Cat and that the ones on page seventy three were taken when she was only sixteen.

"You were sixteen when you had these taken?"

"No, the photographer, the one that took them was only sixteen. Page seventy three is Tony." And that was how I remembered what page I was on, dumb as it may seem.

"Certainly was a different time back then." I said conversationally, not knowing if she was going to get mad and go home, or what.

"Connie told me about this book, but she couldn't find it after they moved in. She told me that she found a box full of books a while ago and it might have been in there, but I figured she was having me on."

"No, all of the stories are more than likely true or not too far from the truth."

"This is the woman who now takes all of those high classed magazine ad photos?"

"Yeah, that's the Cat all right."

She glanced over at me again, with a certain amount of appraisal in her eyes. "What?"

"You really had an affair with a sixteen year old?"

"You take a close look at those photos? She wasn't exactly your average sixteen year old." She glanced down at a photo of something being groped and laughed.

"Guess I see your point. Any regrets having posed for them?" She went to set the book down on the coffee table, but I held out my hand and she passed it over. I set it down on an easy chair near the couch. "I don't want to get anything spilled on it, I don't think I can afford to get him another one." Considering what the book had cost originally in its limited press run, I thought that was about right, considering it was a personally autographed copy.

"So you feel embarrassed about posing for Playgirl in your old age?"

"Naw, its kind of a rush looking at the old pictures every once in a while."

"I kind of wish I had some pictures like that for my old age." She said thoughtfully. "Or maybe I am just too shy to do something like that." I shrugged.

"We had a hot tub at our flat in Fairfax. You saw a lot of skin, and once in a while you'd get these situations that would come up." I tossed my hand in the air, trying to express something I don't think this soccer mom was old enough to remember. "It was a different time. We thought we'd won the Sexual Revolution." She chuckled. I sighed.

"Those were some might powerful photographs." She squirmed down a bit on the couch and snuggled into it a bit more and regarded me seriously for a moment. "Mind if I ask you something?"

"Go ahead."

"Will you sleep with me tonight?"


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