Monday, February 11th, 2002 8:31 pm
Murphy's law on sex: Love is a matter of chemistry; sex is a matter of physics.
Paul Peter, at the campfire, stirs during a prolonged lull in the conversation. Noting how busily Despina is writing away, he comments, "Things are kinda dull tonight. Let's hear some more drivel from that infamous journal of yours."
"Not if I'm just going to be an object of your ridicule," Despina states forcefully, rolling her eyes.
Hand over his heart, Paul Peter swears, "I promise not to call a spade a spade, from henceforth on, referring to one as a shovel, and to refrain from making any true comments, lest they offend the sensibilities of our totally defenseless flower of femininity who has graced us with her presence."
With some misgivings, she hands it over.
Opening it toward the back, Paul Peter flips a few pages, then reads "Day One: First Saturday free! I'm Off to Arizona on the Grand Adventure. Sure beats attending summer school!
Day One -- Noon:
Whatever was I thinking promising my students so adamantly that I would write every day? I just ate lunch somewhere in a desert not as famous as the Mojave, but just as HOT, waiting for a kind stranger to return with a water can because Baby Blue Ram blew his top. It is AWESOME when a 10' long hunk of metal starts to smoke and threatens to explode if you don't let him STOP. He always HAS had an unusual personality*. He spent his youth jealous of the dog, the stallion, the cats, chasing them downhill whenever he could.
Of course, my appointment with John Quantico, he of the beautiful, meaningful, intelligent letters in two different languages, was for noon, and I am HUNDREDS of MILES away yet... I think I should have gone through the mountains instead of taking the flats... But this is the route the on-line trip planners suggested. So much for best-laid plans, and all."
Lowering the journal, Paul Peter quips, "That seems to be about all that gets laid around you, judging from the number of unused condoms you've returned to me after one of your 'hot' dates."
"PP, you're unspeakable! That's not idle camp fire conversation!"
"Sure it is, Despina. You have a problem here. You know, virginity is NOT like fine wine. It does NOT improve with age."
"Now you sound like my sister Leanna and her infernal jokes on that topic."
"Oh, for instance..." Paul Peter, always one anxious for the dirt, presses.
Studying her hands folded in her lap, Despina whispers, "I don't remember."
"Strain yourself," commands Paul Peter.
"She watches TV." Looking up, Despina stops abruptly, as if just realizing that whatever she confides will come back to bite her at home later.
"Most people do," he coaxes.
"She said, 'What did the whore say to the virgin?' --'Try it; you'll like it.' She had to explain to me that it was a well-aired line from a current commercial."
"I told Leon, and he had the perfect comeback for her -- a line from another well-known commercial. So, I accused her of only telling me HALF of the joke. 'What did the virgin say to the whore?' -- 'So I did. Thought I would DIE.'"
"Sounds just like good old Leon to me. That guy ought to be here with us. He'd enjoy it immensely," Paul Peter says with a laugh.
"Invite him for next summer. If you tell stories all year at lunch, maybe he'll get the itch to travel a bit next summer," she enthuses.
The campfire is thoroughly put out for the night, and everyone heads peacefully hovel-ward.
When the oven-like temperature of the interior of her hovel has somewhat abated, some time after midnight, she finally drifts off. In the predawn, she is rudely awakened by the sudden arrival of a huge, drunken Indian. The glow-in-the-dark digital time provides the only relief to the pitch black. Her olfactory glands are so overpowered by the stench emanating from his unwashed body that she nearly gags.
Some romantic interlude, Despina's quirky mind flashes as she grapples with the intruder, doing her level best to fend off his unwanted amorous attentions.
Blood! I haven't done anything that ought to have drawn blood! My struggles have been far too ineffective.
His weight is smothering her, pressing her against the frame of the chaise lounge, its arms holding her captive.
If I were using a more traditional pile of furs strewn on the floor, I might be able to roll over and escape... But then, I'd have to worry about the bugs.
As she tries to tip the all too stable chaise lounge over, one of his legs thumps against the five gallon pail of water, sloshing some out where the dirt floor greedily cleans up the mess. Suddenly overburdened, the lounge flips onto its side, dumping her right where the water was spilled. Instead of getting soaked, she feels only a slightly muddy area.
Hovels have some decidedly unexpected housecleaning advantages. The water won't be rotting the floorboards or ruining the carpeting.
Trapped, nearly immobilized, she gradually realizes that a rape is not ensuing. Slowly, she relaxes.
So does he.
Experimentally, she wiggles.
Suddenly, he stands, scooping her body up and draping it over his shoulder as if she weights no more than a Raggedy Anne doll. Purposefully, he strides through the door-less entry.
She contemplates screaming, but knows that Paul Peter is probably too dead to the world to respond.
Instead of being carted off into the desert, her abductor strides briskly down the center of the road exiting the reservation.
It's a good twenty mile hike into town... an unlikely destination.
Soon, the government-subsidized hospital looms up on her left.
Her mind wanders. I'm probably one of only two people on the reservation intimately acquainted with these always unlocked, locker room-like facilities for both sexes, thanks to Alberto. A sobbing laugh escapes her as she pictures his reaction the first time she'd flushed the stool in his presence.
"¿Qué?" quieres her surrogate Indian pony.
"¿Cu? Hombre, qué pasa? ¿Por qué estás borracho?"
"No estoy borracho."
"Mi nariz dice que sí." Humpf! How can he brazenly declare he's not drunk when he smells as if he were running the still single-handed? Men!
"Tu nariz tiene razón, pero no estoy borracho."
That sounds too well-reasoned to be coming out of a drunk.
Reaching the men's locker room, he allows her body to slide down his chest until her feet touch the ground. They stand, face to chest, with his long arms still encircling her.
I can barely breathe, the stench is so overpowering, but, I'm supposed to believe him when he flatly declares he's not drunk, no word of explanation, no sharing of events, no nothing! Despina can feel her “Irish” rising.
Leaning forward, he opens the door, but does not flip on the lights. Guiding her unerringly into the shower in a strange backward foxtrot, he turns the water on full.
A bar of soap is abruptly removed from the holder, then rubbed vigorously into his hair, his shirt front, her bare back and shoulders.
Feeling the cling of her thin nylon gown, she blushes, remembering the last time she wore wet clothing in the presence of a man. At least the lights are off... This thin fabric'd keep no secrets.
Handing her the bar, he presents her his backside, still fully clothed, to scrub.
Hesitating briefly, she relents, dutifully scrubbing his shirt. How easily one can turn into a mindlessly obedient squaw.
When she stops, he slowly turns and removes it. The soap still in her hand, he gently picks up her fist and moves it sensuously across his chest. Only the soap and his fingers touch her, yet she feels the eroticism deeply, tingling and trembling all over.
Mistaking the trembling for cold, he murmurs, "Hace frío," and mercifully shuts off the frigid water. His arms again encompass her body, pulling her flat against his bare chest. Her head drops willingly against it as he wrings out his sodden, but relatively clean, shirt behind her back.
Despina focuses on the sounds of the water gurgling down the drain as she mentally bemoans her body's weakness in his presence.
I should move, put up at least a token resistance to his high-handed ways, but her body, which has been doing hand springs in its demands to be pressed against his ever since her first glimpse of him framed against an impossibly black starry night in the doorway of Ye Olde Watering Hole, wants only to cooperate.
With a sigh, she stirs, preparing to push off. His lips brush her temple. He guides her, still backward, toward the door, pausing unerringly to open it.
How's he doing that? Normally, I have a super internal sense of direction, but I'm totally disoriented. I had no clue which way the door was.
Pausing briefly, he tips her body away from his chest, slips into his shirt, then pulls her tight again, steering toward the ambulance bay. When the cool night air sets her to shivering in earnest, he picks up the pace, opens the door and guides her through.
A clanging alarm announces their arrival, and soon the figure of Jacques, still sleep-tousled, appears silhouetted in the bedroom doorway.
Bright fluorescents bring the shadowy equipment into sharp relief.
"Well, Despina, business certainly looks up with you around."
Staring at the floor they have just crossed, Despina emits another small half-laugh, half-sob.
"¿Qué?" Cu asks, instantly solicitous.
"Nada." How could I explain that our wet, pooling footprints will have to be mopped up here, instead of being absorbed? It's such a non sequitur.
"Where's she hurt?" Jacques asks, trying to look her over while not looking.
"No, not me,” Despina explains with a shiver. “He's bleeding."
"Tengo un herido -- los labios."
"His lips, he says."
"Too much kissing? Or did you BITE him?" Jacques teases as he reaches over her shoulder to tip Cu's face into the light, gingerly rolling his head first one way, then the other, examining the damage. Releasing Cu, he turns to the refrigerator, removing a vial, then opens a cupboard, withdrawing a blue wrapped package containing a syringe and a selection of needles in a metal bowl. Carefully, he draws up some of the liquid, then pats the metal surface of a gurney.
"Up you go," Jacques says, patting the gurney again.
Cu doesn't move.
"Siéntese aquí," she translates, twisting around toward the table.
Cu moves toward the indicated gurney, but does not release her.
"He has a 'doctor' phobia,” Jacques explains. “I'm surprised you could talk him into coming in. Good thing you did... That's a nasty tear that needs to be sewed up. How'd he get it?" As he talks, he moves purposely toward Cu, syringe raised, needle first.
"I have no clue," Despina admits with a shrug.
Cu takes an involuntary step backward, drawing her with him, bumping the gurney, rolling it a bit.
"Ah," says the doctor. "Can you move over, so I can have a clear shot at him? I need to deaden the area."
But when she attempts to oblige him, Cu presses her back tightly against him, his hands in embarrassing positions he does not seem to notice, but that Jacques notes, then flushes over.
Waves of longing course through her as he mashes her overly sensitive breasts. She can feel the heat of her embarrassment creeping up her neck and shoulders to her face.
If I were facing a mirror, I know I'd be beat red about now. If Jacques reacted to my body wet in thick material, how must this seem?
"Here, let me try." Reaching out, she removes the loaded syringe from his hand, turns within Cu's arms to face him, then leans back to get enough room to bring her hand to his face. Tenderly, she traces the undamaged side of his mouth with the fingertips of her free hand, gradually working toward the gaping three corner tear. When she is directly under his nose, she inquires, "Starting where?"
"The cheek, lower than the wound an inch."
Carefully moving her fingers to the indicated area, she checks, "Here?"
"Yes. About 1/8" penetration, then slowly depress the plunger, pause, then increase the depth."
As the needle tip pricks, Cu flinches back. The needle pops free, but Despina has failed to depress the plunger at all.
"Oh, I'm good. I didn't put any drug in."
The doctor chuckles. "He's going to have to lie down. We need him stable."
Handing the still full syringe to the doctor, she looks around, spying a larger, stouter table with a padded top. Pressing gently with her fingers against his chest, cranking her head and neck around his torso, she guides him into the center of the table, tipping him over by catching him off balance. His grip on her tightens, tugging her off her feet onto the table, on top of him.
Looking thoughtful, Jacques pulls the metal gurney, which is slightly lower than the table, into a position beside the stationary table, then leans down, locking the wheels. Grabbing several blankets from beneath the table, he layers them on the gurney, then rolls her hips onto it.
Relaxing in the less compromising position, she reaches out to support both sides of his head while the doctor tries again to administer the pain killer.
Again as the needle approaches, Cu stiffens. Fearing he will lurch away again, she asks if she can get a warm compress.
Mystified, Jacques prepares a steaming hot towel in another metal bowl.
Carefully folding it lengthwise, Despina lays it over Cu's eyes. "Works with skittish horses, why not men?"
After the drug takes effect on the external part, the doctor says, "Open," touching Cu's mouth.
Cu doesn't move.
"Abra usted la boca, por favor."
As Cu complies, Despina asks, "Why'd you speak to him in English?"
Moving quickly, the doctor deftly numbs the inside. "They all understand English. They're just stubborn and refuse to use it."
He carefully places stitches both inside and out.
Examining the movie star-handsome countenance, she inquires, "Will he have a scar?"
"Probably, but I think he'll take it as a badge of honor, not a blemish on his beauty. Now, how'd you say this happened?"
Speechless, she stutters. I do NOT want to admit that he entered my door-less abode without knocking, unzipped my mosquito netting and climbed in with me in the dead of night. I do NOT want to admit, even to myself, that I probably caused it trying to fight him off.
The phone rings.
Saved by the bell.
Jacques crosses the room, lifts the receiver, and turns to face them. Looking up, his eyes narrow. Coldly, he states, "He's here now. I just finished sewing him up."
He listens intently, then frowns, "Okay."
After a bit, he says, "Okay," then scowling horribly, hangs up and stalks back to them.
"You were going to explain how he came to be injured."
"I have no clue."
"You may as well 'fess up. The sheriff's on his way out. He's asked me to detain him here until he arrives."
"Why don't you ask him?"
"I'm asking you."
"He was, ah, this way, ah, ah, I think, when I ah, ah, encountered him."
I never could lie successfully.
"Okay, be that way." Turning abruptly on his heel, he begins to wash out and clean up the E.R. He keeps his back to her, but his tight motions are mute testimony to the depth of his anger.
"When I heard what you did to Tex at Ye Olde Watering Hole, after dancing brazenly with every guy there, White or Mexican, then refusing to dance with Cu at all, well, I excused it by saying Tex probably stepped out of line, and you had NO idea of their personal enmity."
"How can you be enemies with a man you can't even talk to?"
"Most people around here speak at least a modicum of Spanish. I'm sure Tex knows every appropriate 'propina' going. Cu is constantly rescuing some squaw or another from his lecherous clutches."
"You've accurately described Tex's interactions with WOMEN, not just 'squaws'."
"Cu goes there to pick you up, and yet you snub him and LEAVE WITH TEX. Just how do you think THAT made him feel? Didn't you ever think that he'd feel responsible for protecting you, too, once he'd hired you?"
"Is that the way the rumor is making the rounds, or just your vile slant on it?"
"MY VILE SLANT! My slant?"
"Tex was drunk, you know."
"So what else is new? Tex is always drunk."
"When Mickey and I were sharing the $5.00 pitcher of ICE WATER that I bought, Tex came up and grabbed me without even asking if I'd dance. I thought about enlisting the aid of the sheriff, but I rejected that idea, as I had to be able to freely come and go in this society without a convenient man in tow, so I handled it myself."
"With the infamous pitcher of ice water. That much I understand. In fact, I laud that behavior. It's the leaving with him afterward I don't get."
"Ye Olde Watering Hole is air-conditioned."
"One of its nicest features, I'm assured, but I fail to see the significance."
"Tex was soaked through."
"Well, I suppose so. Water is still known to be WET here," he snips, exasperated.
"Mickey and I took him home to his wife. She's a classy lady."
"When I finally left, I left with Paul Peter, who teaches at the same school I do back in Iowa, who also happened to be too drunk to drive, so I did. I was following Cu, but when I dropped back so I wasn't eating the dust billowing into PP's open jeep, the road disappeared.
"So, I followed his tail lights, or so I thought. Nobody believes where I drove the jeep. If they'd go look, I'm sure they'd find traces, especially near the cave."
"You DROVE A JEEP to the medicine woman's cave? At midnight? Now, that's gutsy. I hadn't heard that one."
"Well, if I'd been able to see where I was going, or if I knew the land, I seriously doubt I'd have gotten there."
"I'm relieved. Honestly, I thought the wilder stuff I'd heard about your exploits were just tall tales."
Cu's melodic voice broke in. "Hay problemas?"
"No," Despina snaps.
"Está bien. A me no me importa." Now he wants to get intimate with me, language-wise! Despina thinks sarcastically. I don’t care how intimate his WORDS are.
"De qué asunto hablan Uds.?"
"We were palavering about you, de ti. I mean, he accused me of inciting the barflies at YOWH until your chivalrous nature led to an altercation. Es que él piensa que yo flirted, me les da propinas a los otros, hasta que alguién me toca en una manera desagrdable, y que él y tú se pelean."
"Por qué le dijiste éste?"
"¡Yo no! I didn't tell him you fought for my virtue! Everyone thinks we're lovers! Es que todo el mundo piensa que somos amantes."
"Pues, a los hombres blancos. No sé que piensan los indios. How could I possibly know what the Indians think? They hardly talk to me other than about school stuff." I can’t even figure out what YOU think...
Last updated 3/9/10 Corrected air-conditioned. 2/25/10 Added “tells”. Changed says to admits. Fixed italics in the last paragraph. 7/23/08 corrected non sequitur. (8/26/04 ? 1/22/03)
Word Count: 3266