I never went to college. I started my one-man company while I was still in high school, and it grew over the next ten years to the point where I had several hundred employees and we were grossing in 9 figures. And I was working 70-80 hours a week and still living at home with my mother and stepfather. My only luxury was the BMW Series 7 and the only place I drove it was to work and back.
So when my mother died (I hadn't even realized she was sick) my world came crashing down. I would find myself sitting at my desk in the early hours of the morning trying to read my spreadsheets, shaking with anxiety, tears in my eyes, unable to concentrate. Fortunately I received a very nice buy-out offer at that point, and with a feeling almost of revulsion toward my job I accepted it. I would never have to work again.
And now what? My stepfather and I were eating dinner one evening. I was lost in my usual funk, not even tasting the food that our cook had prepared. A tangle of black images was passing through my mind. If I could just seize one and study it ... but each one melted in my mental grasp. It was tiring.
I could sense my stepfather studying me. He was a kindly man, somewhat diffident. Finally he spoke.
"John," he said, "You need some roots. You had your work, but that's gone. You have no hobbies. You have no wife or children. You are disconnected from life."
I could feel the truth in what he said. "But roots?" I asked. "Where do you find roots?"
"You might try to find your father's people in--where is it?--Cleaver's Mills," he replied. "That's a start. Go from there."
I nodded. That made a kind of sense. My father had died when I was 10, of what and how my mother never spoke. I learned over the years never to ask about him, for the pain it caused her. So I knew almost nothing about him, his life, his family, indeed nothing much about Cleaver's Mills on the Mist River.
My stepfather assured me that he would be fine if I left him. So I drew out a bundle of cash, got the BMW serviced, threw some clothes into a bag and left.
It was only several hundred miles to Cleaver's Mills, but I had the sense of entering an older time. The towns I passed through were well off the Interstate, slowly dying. The ordinary businesses had been replaced by wistful antique shops, second-hand junk displayed on the cracked sidewalks. A post-office, a general store, and a gas station were all that really kept most of these towns alive.
As I drove, my customary sense of black menace grew on me. The windows of abandoned houses were watching me. Barns held secrets too terrible to be told. The few people out and about in the towns seemed degenerate, a lower species, probably homicidal. It was all I could do to hold the BMW on the road.
Driving through one nameless town, I saw a small child standing by the side of the road. I slowed. He gave me a loathsome, knowing smile and threw himself in front of the car. I must have driven over him, but I felt no bump. I screeched to a halt, but there was no child, no body in the road. It was just a newspaper that I had mistaken for a child. I sat and shook for a few minutes. Hallucinations, yet. Then I looked out and saw a woman standing in the door of a dilapidated house. Deliberately, she raised her skirt and showed me her matted crotch, with the same loathsome, knowing grin as the vanished child had. I blinked, and she was just an ordinary housewife in a print dress, distracted by the noise of brakes. There was nothing to do but drive. The BMW gave me a feeling of Teutonic rationality for which I was grateful.
State Road 23 to Cleaver's Mills followed the line of the Mist River, through its dark hollows and swampy forests. The road was patched concrete, which the BMW took in its stride. I could see the tall mill buildings in the distance as I came to the old Mist River Inn. It was much as I remembered it, a two-story log-faced structure with wide overhanging eaves and a slate roof covered with moss. A dilapidated boathouse sat, or rather leaned, on the bank of the Mist River. I remembered my father telling me what a great place it was, and how his business guests enjoyed being put up there.
I was shaking with a nameless fear as I stopped in front of the inn. Nothing new--I had the shakes at intervals ever since Mother died. It was suddenly hard to see anything, so I know I had to stop before the black images completely obscured my vision.
The sign out front was faded and almost illegible, but through the jangle of my senses I saw a dim light in the office. I parked in the gravel drive. There was an ancient desk clerk, long strands of white hair covering his balding dome, liver spots on his hands and face. Yes, he said, there were rooms. He handed me a key. Room 17, the tag said.
"That'll be twenty dollars," he told me. I handed him a bill at random from my wallet, which he stuffed in his pocket. Then, ignoring the musty smell of the hall carpet, I walked down to Room 17.
Room 17 had not been occupied for quite a while, I could tell. But it was adequate. There was even a bathroom of sorts. No phone or TV, of course. To be sure, a tiny high-pitched singing came from the light bulb, and the light was pinging back and forth between the walls, but I was almost used to that. A notice said Not Responsible. I didn't bother with the fine print. I was Not Responsible myself.
I stripped down and lay on the bed. I must have been more tired than I thought, because I skipped washing up and fell soundly asleep.
In the night I had a disturbing dream. I was lying on my back. It was dark, so that I could not see. But I could feel a light touch on my penis. I tried to move my arms to brush away whatever it was, but they would not move. The touch grew, and soon I could feel a small cold hand stroking my penis, which began to rise up. I could feel the sensitive edge of the head of my penis being softly stroked. Soon I was fully erect.
Now I could feel a cool mouth closing over the head of my penis, gently sucking it. I knew that this must be a dream, but it still bothered me. My arms still would not move, but lay lifeless by my side.
The mouth worked and worked on my penis, and cool hands began to cup my testicles, sending a thrill through my body. Finally I spurted and the mouth swallowed all, the hands urging more and more sperm from my body.
Finally my eyes flew open and I awoke. It was not dark after all. The light in the room was still on, as I had left it. I blinked and looked down, but nothing was there. I rose up on my elbows and inspected my penis. It was now limp, with a single pearl of semen oozing from the slit. Clearly I did have a real ejaculation. Puzzled, I lay back down again. It was too much to think about, so I drifted back to sleep.
In the morning I drove to the Bluebird Diner for breakfast. The waitress was a healthy young woman named Sophia with a wealth of dark hair tied up in a kerchief, blue-eyed, cheerful, and entirely too efficient for the few customers at that hour. Just looking at her drove the demons away, for the moment. After breakfast I chatted with her, asking her about Cleaver's Mills and the local businesses. I found her to be intelligent and knowledgeable. And the bosom of her uniform was filled out nicely, too. She was perhaps five years younger than I. I left the Bluebird Diner somewhat lighter in heart, wondering if she was the angel who would save me.
The St. Andrews Cemetery is very old, the earliest tombstones bearing 18th century dates when they can be read at all. I could not find the sexton, so I roamed the place looking for my father's grave. I stopped a moment to look at a hulking mausoleum. In the stone lintel was carved "CLEAVER". Here lay the eponymous founder of the town and his family. Graveyards give you the pleasure of thinking about the cosmic futility of it all, so I indulged myself for a moment, lost in thought. Even the dark whorls in my mind seemed to fit the mood.
And then I felt a light touch on my arm. I turned, and here was a very young girl, 14 at most. "I've been waiting for you," she said. She was wearing a black lace dress, with buttons up the front. It beautifully matched her dark hair and blue eyes. She somewhat resembled the Goth girls of a few years ago, but she was much more nicely dressed.
"For me?" I asked stupidly.
She ignored my question, and, taking my hand, led me to the barred gate of the Cleaver mausoleum. It opened at her touch and we passed inside. A dreamlike feeling came over me, as if I had been here before and was powerless to do anything but follow her lead.
She turned to me in the darkness of the mausoleum, surrounded by memorial plaques of the Cleaver family. A dim light filtered in through a high window. "Here," she said, unbuttoning the front of her dress. "I know you like them", she said, showing me her small breasts with their dark red nipples. "You can kiss them. You know how much I love that."
I was instantly hard. As if helpless, I bent down and suckled on her tiny breasts. "Oh, yes," she sighed. "Suck me good." I could feel her body writhing in ecstasy. All the demons in my brain were urging me on.
I sucked like a man possessed, until she gave a final cry and slumped against me. Then, to my surprise, my mouth filled with a thin sweetish fluid. "You are giving milk," I told her.
"Feel," she said, opening her dress still further down. Her downy belly was curved nicely outward. "I have something of you inside there," she said. "Every time you kiss my titties my milk comes up stronger."
I felt the cool bulge of her belly. It was smooth and delightful to the hand. A faint line of dark hairs led downward from her belly button to her curly nest. My hand drifted down, under the elastic of her panties, where my finger could dip into her wetness, but then I suddenly realized what she had been saying and drew my hand out.
"You are telling me that I got you pregnant," I stammered.
Again she ignored what I said. Buttoning up her dress she told me, "I can hardly wait for tonight. Room17. After my father goes to sleep, I'll sneak out." And she drifted out of the mausoleum.
I stood there gaping. How had she known my room number? I recollected myself and followed after her, but she was gone. I looked around wildly, and thought I saw a dark figure bending over a gravestone some distance away. I ran to the spot, but the figure was not she. Instead it was Sophia from the restaurant. A gentle humming noise, or maybe color, radiated from her. It calmed my spirit.
"Sophia," I cried. "Have you seen," I started to ask, then thought better of it. "Have you seen the sexton?" I finally managed.
"We have no sexton anymore," she told me. "The city mows the graveyard, and the real estate agent keeps track of the plots. What are you looking for?"
"My ancestors," I told her.
"The real estate agent would know," she said.
"Is this a relative of yours?" I asked, indicating the grave she was standing by.
"My mother and father. And next to them is my sister. Beyond these are my mother's parents. My whole family is here, all but me," she said mournfully.
"Would you care to have dinner with me?" I asked. "I think we have much in common."
She looked at me carefully, and finally smiled. "I have class tonight," she replied, "but tomorrow night would be fine. I would like that." She smiled again, climbed on her bicycle, and rode off. The radiance left with her,
My next stop was the Cleaver's Mills library. It was in a small brick building that had been a bank at one time. In fact, the bank vault was still there, and the librarian sent me inside the vault to view the archives.
At several times in the past, Cleaver's Mills had had its own weekly newspaper. It took a bit of searching, but I finally located the story. "Local businessman shot to death," ran the headline. Underneath, "Killing at historic inn" was the subhead. Of course, I thought. The Mist River Inn.
I read on. The murderer had not been found. The reporter hinted that the Chief of Police knew more than he was telling, no surprise. Victim leaves wife (my mother), small son (me). Reporter finds wife tight-lipped, preparing to leave Cleaver's Mills permanently.
I remembered almost nothing of this.
Over the next few issues of the paper the story played out gradually. No murderer was ever found. The desk clerk knew nothing, had seen nothing, had heard nothing except the shot.
That night in Room 17 my dreams intensified. The 14-year-old girl was mixed up in them, too. Somehow we came back from the cemetery to Room 17, where she made me lie naked on the bed and sucked me to erection. Then she mounted me and rode me hard, twisting and pulling on my stiff prick with her tight vaginal muscles. I shot off into her depths as she sagged against my body. I faded out, and came to only to find her sucking me up again, getting me ready for another round of hard fucking. This seemed to go on for hours, until I was utterly exhausted and slipped into a heavy, death-like sleep.
I did not awaken until near noon the next day. A light lunch at the Bluebird Diner restored my spirits, and after a friendly chat with Sophia I went to find the real estate agent who now ran the St. Andrews Cemetery. He gave me a Xeroxed map of the cemetery and marked my family's plot on it.
Indeed, there were Lorenzens in plenty, the oldest dates going well back before 1800. I jotted down all the inscriptions that I could make out, and resolved to buy some rubbing wax in hopes that I could decipher the others. The last Lorenzen was Edward, my father. I stood in silence in front of his grave. A gray noiseless mist emerged from it. The mist told me nothing that I did not already know.
I picked Sophia up at 6 and we drove 20 miles to the next town, West Harrington, where there was a decent Italian restaurant, the red-checked tablecloth kind. There was sanity while her bubble surrounded the two of us.
"Sometime I'd like to be where they serve Northern Italian cuisine," said Sophia, looking marvelous and alive as she sipped a glass of Chianti. "I've heard so much about it, and, of course, it connects to my interest, Italian history."
"You are a history major, then?" I asked.
"When I can, as I can," she said. "I can't attend full time and work at the diner too. So it has been very slow going."
"Why Italian history?" I asked.
"I'm fascinated by the web of shifting alliances among the city states in Northern Italy. I'd like to trace our rules of conflict, the Geneva Convention and all that, back to those times. I'll bet there is a connection." Her eyes sparkled.
"You would have to travel to Italy and study there," I remarked. "How is your Italian?"
"I can read it, but not speak it very well," she said. "However, I'll probably never be able to afford the trip," she sighed.
I could take you there, I thought of saying, but refrained. Crazy people have no business going off with nice girls. We munched down our lasagna, which was pretty good.
"Of course," she continued, "you could afford to go. That car you drive must have cost as much as I earn in 5 years."
"It's the only thing I ever spent very much on," I told her. "I never married, and my company made me lots of money, so why not? And it is hard to spend much money here in Cleaver's Mills. The inn is very reasonable, and the Bluebird Diner is a total bargain."
"You're staying at the inn?" she asked.
"Yes," I told her. "My father always liked the place."
"What is your father's name?" she asked.
"Edward Lorenzen," I told her.
To my surprise, she turned white. The fork fell from her hand and clattered on the plate. "Your name is not Lorenzen!" she exclaimed.
"Was," I told her. "But my stepfather adopted me, so it is now Richards. What is the matter?"
"I have to go home now," she said, in a tone of desperation.
"But we haven't even gotten to the dessert yet," I tried to jolly her.
"I have to go home," she repeated, and began crying.
I knew when to quit, and paid the bill. We drove back to Cleaver's Mills in silence, broken only by her muffled sobs.
"Please tell me," I began when we stopped in front of her house.
"I can't," she exclaimed, and fled into the house.
That night I awoke in Room 17 to find the young girl sitting on my chest. She was naked, her eyes glittering. Her crotch was pressed against my face. I could hardly breathe. "You must kiss it," she ordered. In desperation I sucked her vaginal folds, trying to get air through my nose. A cool liquid seeped out of her, which I was forced to drink. Eventually she shuddered through a climax and I was able to draw a deep breath. But then she pushed herself against my mouth again. My arms were lying cold and helpless by my side. Again I was forced to suck. This went on for endless hours until I fell into oblivion.
Next morning I was tired, but struggled up. I had to see Sophia. The Bluebird Diner was quiet. At first Sophia would not look at me, but finally she came over to my table and sat down across from me.
"I suppose you have to be told," she said.
"Told what?" I asked.
"I am off at three o'clock. We could go for a walk," she said.
"Three," I agreed. And, feeling somewhat better, I tackled a short stack with country bacon.
That afternoon I met Sophia and we walked out of town on a pleasant dirt road. She was silent until we left the town behind us and were surrounded by meadows. With Sophia, I was almost sane.
"Your father," she began, "your father began an affair with my sister Amelia. She was only 14 at the time, but I remember her as just so beautiful, with wild curly hair and blue eyes."
"Dark hair like yours?" I asked.