Ruth Carter sat at the old desk in the back room of All Star Video. The last of her employees had gone home a half hour before and the fifty-one year old felt justified in having a cold beer as she worked. It was an indulgence she would've fired anyone on her staff for taking.
Part of that attitude was, of course, due to the fact that the average age of employees at All Star was eighteen. From the day she and her now ex-husband had opened the store fifteen years before, there had been two ironclad rules she had gone by.
The first was to always hire the cheapest help possible. Experience had taught her that usually consisted of high school and college students who didn't have much of a problem with either minimum wage or the lack of benefits as long as the hours were flexible enough. If any of them grew tired of the job, there were always others ready to take their place. After all, how hard was it to keep the shelves stocked and check tapes in and out.
The other tenet, which she considered even more important than the first, was to always make sure that the inventory reflected what customers wanted. In keeping with that belief, Ruth made it a point to review rental records every week to see just what was renting and what wasn't. That was one reason customers kept coming back to All Star, despite the larger variety available at most chain stores.
When they had first opened the store, the weekly review used to take the better part of a night. Then, about three years ago, Ruth had the good fortune to have hired a kid really good with computers. Bored with the repetitious work the job called for, he had offered to write a program to make it easier to keep track of inventory. Now it took less than an hour. Ruth had been so impressed by the program, she'd actually given him a bonus for the work, the first and last she had ever given.
The program broke the rentals down by category and Ruth took note of a few tapes that hadn't been rented in a while. If there was no activity on them soon, she'd move them to the for sale bin and order something new to take their place. It was a funny thing but the same people who wouldn't rent a particular video, would buy that same title if they thought they were getting a good deal on it.
Finishing most of the review, Ruth turned her attention to the adult videos. People would've been surprised to discover that, despite public pronouncements against such movies by prominent individuals, they accounted for almost a third of all rentals. It was also a category that required a lot of attention, as customer taste in these types of films was very inconsistent. A distributor might swear that the video in which a big boobed blond does ten black guys was the biggest seller on the East Coast, but if it sat on her shelves it wasn't worth the tape it was copied on.
In reviewing the rentals, Ruth only saw account numbers and normally had no idea of which of her several hundred customers was personally renting what. One exception was the free account she gave to her employees to help offset the low salaries. These accounts had distinctive id numbers. Each of them was able to rent five movies a week without charge. The only restriction was that they couldn't take any new arrivals. The last thing she wanted was the staff taking them home and have paying customers take their business elsewhere.
When she first started the practice, Ruth noticed early on that many of them used their freebies on adult films. In some cases, this was done by teens not old enough to rent them. Since they were doing the transactions themselves, Ruth usually looked the other way. After all, she'd hardly been an angel at that age herself. Of course if it were ever brought to her attention officially, she'd have to do something about it.
Personally, Ruth never had much interest in adult films, preferring her sexual encounters to be more real. Still, she knew they served a purpose for some people. One thing she did find interesting was the insight some of the rentals gave into the sexual tastes of her employees.
One employee, for example, seemed to be very partial to videos dealing with anal sex. Something she wondered if his girlfriend, whom Ruth had met, had any inkling of. Another had a strong passion for films dealing with women of color. Last summer, she was even mildly shocked to discover that one of the girls, now gone on to college, was taking home tapes that dealt exclusively with lesbian sex. Yet for the most part, most of the adult rentals tended to be of the garden variety. What the salt and pepper haired woman tended to think of as man meets woman, man fucks woman, and then the women fucks someone else.
Ruth was just about finished with both her beer and the review, bringing up the list of films she had previously marked as to be pulled for the discount bin. She was surprised to see that not only had five of them been rented in the last week, but that they had all been taken out by one of the boys who worked for her.
She remembered marking these tapes last month, thinking at the time that ordering them in the first place had been a waste of money. It was only the fact that they were part of a package deal that she took them in the first place. Her reasoning being that all the films featured women in their forties and fifties. It was her belief that most of the men who rented adult films preferred to watch girls in their twenties, or in some cases even younger.
And yet, here was an eighteen-year old taking them all out. Was it just curiosity on his part, she wondered? But if that was the case, why take out all five? Wouldn't one or two have done it?
Her own curiosity now sparked, Ruth brought up the full record for the account. Sure enough, the record showed three other adult tapes in the inventory that featured older women, as well as a few regular films that featured older/younger affairs. Evidently the young man had quite a thing for mature women.
"Who'd have thought it?" Ruth said to herself as she shut down the computer and got ready to head home.
Ruth stepped back into the outer store to check everything before she left for the night. After double-checking the front door and the alarm, she walked over to the panel where the light switches where and was about to turn them off when her eyes glanced into the small room off to the side where the adult videos were kept. She thought about it a moment, then left the light switch untouched, stepping into the adjacent room instead.
Quickly locating the films the young man had rented, she picked them up and looked at the boxes. Intrigued, she took two of them back into the main room. Turning on the VCR and television behind the counter, Ruth pushed one of the tapes into the recorder. Then she picked up the remote control and began to fast forward through the tape, stopping at anything that looked interesting.
The first thing she noticed was that the woman actually in the film bore little resemblance to those depicted on the box. If anything, the women performing sex acts on the screen looked like the average woman you'd see in the supermarket or the laundry. In fact, the fifty-something redhead on the screen at the moment sort of reminded Ruth of Mrs. Kirkland over at the drug store. Although Ruth couldn't imagine Bridget Kirkland down on all fours, sucking off one teenage boy while another fucked her from behind.
Jumping through the second tape, she found it to be more of the same. In fact, the age difference between the participants seemed to be even greater. This time, Ruth found it amusing to picture the actresses as people she knew, even if there wasn't any resemblance at all. Having had her laugh, she rewound both and put back the boxes, returning them to their places on the shelves.
When she exited the small room, this time, the lights did go off and Ruth walked out the back door to her car.
Driving the six miles to her apartment, Ruth found that she hardly noticed the cool breeze that was coming off the Florida coastline. Her mind was still on the tapes and the young man who had rented them.
George Bell was a nice kid, she thought, a few inches taller than her own five foot five and at least twenty pounds lighter at one thirty-six. He had a slim build and light sandy brown hair. At first, she had thought to herself, he didn't seem the type to have a thing for older women. But then had to ask herself, what did someone like that look like? After all, she never considered that Mark Taylor didn't seem the type that lusted after black women, or that Connie Avallon wasn't the sort who liked girls.
It also occurred to her that it was the type of women who had been in the films that had really intrigued her. In the case of the regular movies George had rented, the women in question had been stars like Anne Bancroft, Jacqueline Bisset and Cybill Shepherd. All actresses who hardly looked the age of the women they were portraying. Or if they did, they were in a shape that few women looked like at that point in their lives.
In the adult movies, on the other hand, the women had indeed looked their age, with bodies to match. Some were overweight, or had imperfect bodies and faces that reflected a life actually lived. The type of women you saw on a daily basis wherever you looked, even if it was just in the mirror.
That was the key to it all, Ruth suddenly realized as she pulled into the small parking lot in front of the four-story apartment building where she lived. They were exactly the kind of woman she saw when she stepped out of the shower in the morning and looked at herself in the full-length mirror that was on the wall of her bathroom. Of course she could never imagine herself doing anything like that, not even in her wildest dreams.
Not to say Ruth had anything against an active, and perhaps sometime even adventurous, sex life. Since divorcing her husband, she'd had no problem having company in her bed when she wanted it. Most men her age still found her attractive, especially her large thirty-eight inch bust which always drew their attention when she walked into a room.
Stepping into her fourth floor apartment, Ruth put the whole train of thought behind her and concentrated instead on what she could make for a late snack before bed.
The next day was Saturday and she only stopped by the store for a little while about mid-morning. The senior member of her staff, Carrie McGee, was more than capable of running the operation and eager to do so. She was in her last year of college and had been at All Star for three years. Running the store as assistant manager didn't look bad on her resume and there was also extra money in it as well.
"Good morning, Ruth," Carrie said as she looked up from the book she was reading at the high front counter.
"Good morning Carrie," Ruth said as she lifted the movable section of the countertop and stepped behind it. "How are things going this morning?"
"About normal for a Saturday," Carrie said as she stepped away from the desktop PC, a much more current model than the old one they used for inventory. She knew that Ruth would want to see for herself the morning's activity.
"Hmmm," Ruth hummed as she quickly scanned what was displayed on the terminal and saw that Carrie's assessment was correct. "Well it should pick up in the afternoon, it usually does. I just want to take care of a few things and I'll be out of here."
With that, she left the blond-haired twenty year old and stepped into the back office. A quarter hour passed as she checked the morning mail and opened a box of new tapes that had just been delivered. After checking the invoice against the actual contents, she called out for Carrie to send Billy Jones back to take the box out front so that the assistant manager could enter the new titles into the system before they were put on the shelves.
Reading the last piece of mail, Ruth didn't notice at first that there was someone standing on the other side of the desk. When she looked up, she was surprised to see that it was George Bell.
"Carrie said there was a box you wanted me to take out front," he said with a smile.
It took a few long seconds for Ruth to realize she was staring at the young man, reminded once more of the tapes he liked to take out. She also became acutely aware of the amount of cleavage the dress she was wearing displayed, especially with her in a sitting position and him standing over her.
"I thought Billy was on today," Ruth said to cover herself when she realized she had been staring at George.
"We switched days," George said. "He had something to do and Carrie said it wouldn't be a problem."
"Of course it's not a problem," Ruth said with a smile, "I was just surprised, that's all."
With a shrug, George picked up the box of new videos from the desk and turned to carry them out to Carrie. As he walked away, Ruth found herself thinking that the kid did have a really cute ass.
Ruth found it harder to dismiss George from her thoughts this time after she left the store and headed to the restaurant where she was meeting some friends for lunch. It was as if he had brought to the surface some unknown curiosity within her. Which was pretty strange, she considered, since she'd never had even the remotest fantasy about being with someone that young before.
Sarah Thompson and Gloria McNair, both businesswomen, were already seated at their table as Ruth joined them. As she sat down, Gloria signaled for a waiter to take the new arrival's order.
Once she had the menu, it only took Ruth a minute to decide what she wanted. The waiter, a dark haired young man in his early twenties, quickly jotted it down and went off to add it to what the other two women had already ordered.
"Hmm, I know what I'd like for dessert," Sarah said as she watched the waiter walk away, taking in the view of his backside even more blatantly than Ruth had George. And Ruth, at least, hadn't been in public.
"Sarah, you're incorrigible," Gloria laughed as her friend turned her attention back to the other two women at the table.
"No I'm not," Sarah laughed back, "I'm just horny."
"Dave not taking care of business like he should?" Gloria quipped, making reference to the short-haired blonde's husband.
"Oh he still has the fire in him when it's needed," Sarah grinned, "but sometimes it's nice to think about what it would be like with a randy young colt again, instead of an old plow horse."
"Not me," Gloria commented. "I'll take experience any day. Someone who knows all the right buttons to push to get me off. Who wants to have to show some young pup what he's supposed to be doing?"
"Ahhh, but think of the fun you'd have showing him," Sarah countered, "and if he didn't get it right the first time, he'd be able to try it again. Not many men our age can do that. What do you think Ruth?"
"Oh I never really thought about it," Ruth lied, caught off guard by the question. "I guess you both have valid points."
Thankfully, the waiter returned with their lunches, cutting the discussion short. Again, Sarah made no attempt to hide the fact that she was checking out a lot more on the young man this time than just his ass. Ruth noticed that the waiter didn't seem to be unaware of the attention, or mind it at all.
Once the food had been served and the waiter off to take care of other customers, the conversation at the table turned to more conventional topics. Still, even as they chatted about business and family, Ruth's mind kept returning to what Sarah had said about young men.
When lunch was over and their good-byes had been said, Ruth walked the two blocks back to where she parked her car. Normally, she would've stopped by the store again on the way home. This time, she decided to head straight home.
Back in her apartment, Ruth realized that she'd forgotten to take some papers from the office that she wanted to read over the weekend. One of her distributors had offered her what looked to be a good deal on a tape package, but she wanted to go over it one more time before giving him an answer on Monday morning. She really hated the idea of going in on a Sunday if she didn't have to.
Glancing at the wall clock, she figured some of the afternoon shift was still at the store. She decided to call Carrie and as long as she could spare someone, have them drop off the papers she needed on their way home. Of course she would have to let them leave early to make up the time, otherwise she'd be paying them overtime and that was something she hated to do. The profit margin on the store was small enough as it was.
"That's right, Carrie," Ruth said over the phone, "it's the green folder that I left in my in box. Put it in a larger envelope and have someone drop it off at my apartment. Make sure you seal the envelope."
"No problem," Carrie assured her. "I'll have Maria run it by, she only has an hour left to her shift anyway."
"That would be fine, thank you," the boss lady said as she hung up the phone.
Ruth poured herself a beer and headed out to the terrace to enjoy the afternoon breeze. The view from her apartment overlooked the marina and she liked watching the boats come and go. She took the time to change into a pair of comfortable shorts and a low cut summer blouse first. Not the type of thing she wore outside, regardless of the weather, but around the apartment she liked to be as comfortable as possible.
She was on her second beer when she heard the doorbell ring. Putting down her glass, she headed back into the apartment to let Maria in.
Opening the door, Ruth found herself surprised, for the second time that day, by George Bell. She was about to ask what he was doing here, then saw the large manila envelope in his hand.
"I thought Carrie was sending Maria," she asked.
"This was on my way home," George said, "Maria lives over on the South Side so I said I'd take it instead."
Realizing she was being rude, Ruth stepped back out of the doorway and invited him in. As he stepped past her, the older woman had, for the second time that day, the impression that he was staring at her breasts. The top she was wearing was even more revealing than the dress she had on this morning, plus she was braless beneath it.
"Would you like a soda or something?" Ruth asked as she closed the door, trying to dismiss the thought from her mind. After all, he wouldn't be normal if he didn't look at her mounds, seeing how much of them were on display in this blouse.
"Yes, thank you," George said as he took a quick look around the apartment. "A soda would be fine."
"I was sitting out on the terrace," Ruth said as she headed for the kitchen. "Why don't you have a seat out there and I'll bring it out. Just leave the envelope on the table."
Ruth emerged from the kitchen a minute later, a bottle of soda in her hand. George had taken her suggestion and was out on the terrace. Taking a moment to check the envelope to make sure they were the right papers, the fifty-one year old went out and joined him.
"This is an incredible view," George said when he saw Ruth step out of the sliding doors.
"It's really spectacular at sunset," Ruth replied as she handed him the soda, "almost like a painting."
"I'll bet," he said as he opened the soda and took a long sip.
"Why don't you have a seat," Ruth said, sitting down in her own chair and picking up her beer.
Picking one of the two other empty chairs, George sat down, taking another drink of cold soda. He found it strange that Ruth had actually invited him in rather than just thanking him for bringing over the envelope and sending him on her way. If he could read her mind at this moment, he would've discovered that she found her actions just as strange as he did. In fact, she was now asking herself what did she think she was doing.
"Do you like working at All Star?" she asked, keeping the other question to herself.
"Sure, it's not a bad job," George answered. "A lot better than the ones some of my friends have."
"That's good," Ruth said, finishing off what was left of her beer.
"I think I'm really going to miss it when I leave," he added.
"You're leaving?" Ruth asked, the comment taking her by surprise.
"At the end of the month," the light haired teen responded. "Didn't Carrie tell you? I start at Northern State in September."
"I'm sure she mentioned it," the older woman said, "I must've just forgotten."
"So what are you going to miss about All Star?" Ruth asked.
"Well the people most of all," he answered, pausing to take another drink of soda. "and there are some nice advantages to the job."
"Like the free movies," Ruth said, seeing her opening.
"Yeah, that's a nice perk," he said with a smile.
Ruth took a deep breath. The reason she had invited George in suddenly became crystal clear to her. The question now was did she really want to ask the questions now filling her head.
"Oh what the hell, why not," she finally thought.
Ruth shifted in her seat, taking a position from which George couldn't help but stare straight at her large mounds. She waited a few seconds, just to be sure he was looking.
"Speaking of the free movie rentals," she began, watching his eyes, "I happened to be going over the records the other night. I have to say that you have some interesting, to say the least, taste in films."
"I don't understand," George said, trying to keep an innocent tone.
But Ruth wasn't going to let him off that easily, she was getting too much into the game. Without pause, she rattled off the names of the X-rated films he had rented. With each new title, George's face seemed to turn a little paler.
"I ... I..." he stammered.
"Don't worry, you're not in any trouble," Ruth reassured him, "even if you were still underage when you took some of them out. I was just curious that's all."
Despite her reassurance, George was a little worried. He had only turned eighteen two weeks ago and legally wasn't supposed to take out any of the adult movies.
"What were you curious about?" he finally asked.
"The people in the films I guess," Ruth said. "Are you really interested in women like that?"
"I don't understand."
"Women that old," Ruth clarified. "Some of those women must be older than your mother. A few could even be your grandmother."
"You watched them?" George said in disbelief.
"Well let's just say that I was a little curious."
"Yes," George abruptly said.
"Excuse me?" Ruth said, not understanding his meaning.
"Yes, women like that interest me," he expanded.
"Have you had that interest a long time, or is this something recent?" Ruth asked, finding the conversation fascinating.
"I've always been interested in them," he admitted.
Ruth paused for a few seconds, again asking herself just how far she wanted to take this. The fact that George hadn't suddenly got up and left was a positive sign. Also in favor in pressing the situation a little further was the fact that he was going away to school in two weeks. If it went bad, he would be gone from her life.
"George, I want to ask you a question and I really want an honest answer, okay?" she asked.
"Are there real women you've known, maybe friends of your mother, that you look at?" she asked, considering that his mother might've been on that list as well, but that was something she really didn't want to know.
"Yes," he said in a low voice.
"Do you ever have sexual fantasies about them?"
"Yes," he admitted, feeling almost ashamed to tell the truth.
"Do you play with yourself when you have those fantasies?"
This time he couldn't bring himself to reply with words and just nodded his head in the affirmative.
"Have you ever had any of those fantasies about me?" she finally asked.
This time George didn't move but his face turned the palest shade yet. For a moment, Ruth was afraid he might faint.
"I'll take that as a yes then," she smiled.
"Miss Carter, I'm sorry, I never meant to..."
"George, I'm not angry," she quickly interrupted. "If anything, I should be flattered. Not many men would be interested in an old lady like me."
Actually, that was a lie, but Ruth wasn't going to tell him that. While she would never be compared to the sort of older women who were sometimes asked to pose for Playboy, there were still men who found her attractive.
"I never looked at you as old," George said.
"That's very nice of you," Ruth smiled. "Would it be okay if I asked you a few more questions?"
"I guess so."
"Do you have a girlfriend?" she asked.
"Have you ever had a girlfriend?" she continued.
"No, not really."
"Have you ever been with a woman?" she asked, figuring that not ever having had a girlfriend didn't prelude that possibility. "Had sex with one I mean, not just making out."
"No," he replied after a short pause, almost ashamed in his answer.
"Would you like to be with me?" Ruth asked without a moment's hesitation, worried that if she paused even that long she would lose her nerve.