A Friend in Need Ch. 02byChunderthunk©
The rattling of the typewriter keys was the only sound in the shop and when the machine dinged as I reached the end of the line I was writing, I pulled out the sheet of paper and sat up, stretching my back muscles. I added the paper to the thin stack on the desk. It had been a good afternoon, I realized, as far as writing went -- I had managed to bang out six or seven pages of the short story I was working on, my assignment for the next writing group meeting. Whether they were six or seven good pages, well, we'll see about that, I guess. But it was more than I had managed in any one sitting in ages, which was one of the reasons I had joined the group in the first place: to try to get motivated enough to sit down and actually write out the ideas always bouncing around in my head.
That was why I joined. Why I stayed, obviously, had a lot to do with the fringe benefits, as we've already seen.
A good afternoon for writing it may have been, but unfortunately that meant that it had not been so good for commerce. I managed to get so much done because there had been almost no interruptions from customers, only three all afternoon, one of whom was still poking around among the stacks. I shrugged and drained the last of the cold coffee in my cup. As a businessman I hated the thought of slow days like this -- hated the thought? Hell, was scared shitless by it is more like it -- but I had been in the used book business long enough to know the cycles, the busy weeks at the start of each new term when the students came in with their course lists looking for a break from the usurers at the university bookstore; the busy times at the end of term, when they came in to unload those books, most of them with spines uncracked; and then Christmas gift-givers and summer beach-readers were usually enough to keep me afloat during the academic calendar's dead zones.
I took my cup to the back room and refilled it from the coffee-maker crammed into a corner of a counter piled high with paperbacks. What came out was sludgy and grainy and I poured it down the sink. I looked at my watch -- almost four. Another hour and I'd close up for the weekend. During the school year it was worth my while to open on Saturdays and I even usually hired somebody to work the shift for me, but in the summer there wasn't any point in bothering. Although most weekends I was in here anyway, doing inventory or some other such task that always needed doing.
I returned to my post near the front door and sat down on the worn leather office chair that served as throne over my little nerdish empire. I took the pages of my story and dropped them in a drawer on the small desk that held the typewriter, tucked in behind the main counter at which I transacted my business. I sat absent-mindedly scratching my belly through my T-shirt and staring out the open front door when I was brought back to earth by someone clearing her throat.
"Oops," I said, blushing at being caught in full-blown daydream as I stood and turned to the counter. It was my lone customer, the one who had come in about 20 minutes ago -- pretty, about 20 and dressed in the obligatory college-hippie chick uniform of loose floral dress and sandals, her wrists clinking with thin wire bracelets and fiery red hair, long and wavy, that spilled out from a red bandanna. Her bare arms were stick-thin but her tits were surprisingly -- and pleasantly so -- large and firm, with a nice bit of cleavage showing above the dress.
"Sorry," she said. She smiled and her lips were plump and luscious. "I didn't mean to startle you."
"No, that's OK," I said. I caught myself almost looking at her chest and quickly looked at her face, where those lips were almost as obscene as her tits surely would be, and way softer. God help me. "Did you find what you were looking for?"
"Not yet," she said. "I was looking for 'Lady Chatterly's Lover'. You know, by D.H. Lawrence?"
"Oh, I know D.H. Lawrence," I said. I came out from behind the counter. She turned expectantly and I had to resist the urge to put my arm around her, my hand in the small of her back to guide her to the shelf she was looking for. "You couldn't find it? I'm pretty sure we have a couple of copies of it."
"I don't think so," she said. "I've looked all over for it."
"Well, I'll see what I can find. We usually try to keep a couple of emergency copies of 'Chatterly' for occasions just like this."
She giggled. "Is this an emergency?"
"If it means sending you home happy, then I can't think of anything that would be any more so," I said. She giggled again. Those lips were driving me crazy and my cock was starting to stir as I imagined what they would be capable of. I had to make a break for it. "I'll go look in the back room. I'm sure there's one there."
I found the book -- as I thought, there was a pile of them, I needed to do inventory and straighten out the stacks -- and when I came back out she was standing at the counter. I held the book up and she smiled again. My stomach gave a little jump.
"Here you go. The sticker says 10 bucks, but I'll let you have it for five, because you had to ask for it."
"Oh. Hey, wow," she said. I rang it up and handed her the receipt. She put them both in the canvas bag slung over her shoulder. "Thanks."
"That's why we're here," I said. "Is there anything else I can help you find?"
"Maybe," she said, biting her lower lip and looking down at the counter. Oh please god, I thought, let this be one of those porno moments -- cue whacka-chikka music ...
"Name your title," I said. "This is a bookstore. I'll bet we have it." Way smooth there, Mr. Porno. Holy crap.
"I was wondering if you had any openings," she said. "If you were hiring, I mean."
"Not just now," I said. I imagined her standing on the stepstool, reaching up to stock the top shelves, those tits straining against her T-shirt as she stretched ... "During the school year I usually hire somebody to cover weekends, etcetera etcetera."
"That's cool," she said.
"I don't have anybody lined up yet," I said. "You'll still be around in the fall?"
"Oh yeah. I'm going into my last year."
The phone under the counter rang. I motioned her to wait a second and answered. "Brin Mawr Bookshop."
"Hello, Brin Mawr Bookshop," Colleen said. "Am I interrupting the relentless march of capitalism?"
"Not at all," I said. "Can you hold on a second?" I covered the mouthpiece and turned back to the redhead. "Well, good then. Why don't you bring in your resume, and I'll give you a call? I usually take someone on in late August for the frosh week rush."
"Great. Thanks." She smiled at me again and started toward the door. Her long hair waved goodbye as she walked out into the street.
"Sorry about that," I said. "I just had to get rid of a customer. I've been just overrun all afternoon."
"Uh-huh," Colleen said. "So let me guess: blonde, looking for something by Jane Austen for Dr. Thornton's intro class and by the way, Mr. Bookseller, is that a Lord Byron in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
"As a matter of fact, wise-ass, it was a redhead and she was looking for Chatterly," I said. "And Dr. Thornton is an asshole."
"Ho-ho," Colleen said. "Chatterly. Oh, please."
"That's right," I said. "As a matter of fact, she also asked me for a job. I think I'll take her on in the fall."
"Oh, you'll take her on all right," Colleen laughed.
"Hey, watch it. She looks like a very sweet girl."
"Sure she does. Just your type, then." Colleen laughed. She had a great laugh, very sweet and girly, and it always made me feel good when I heard it.
"Any type is my type," I said.
"That is not true," Colleen said. "So what's the plan, Stan? Are we going out tonight or what?"
"I'd like to. Where do you want to go?"
"Jamie wants to go to the Horseshoe. Is that OK with you?"
"Sure. We'd end up there anyway."
"Awesome! We're going straight from here to Sparta for dinner before we head out drinking. Do you want me to swing by and pick you up?"
"I don't think so," I said. I love Greek food, but I tried to avoid Sparta -- there was this waitress I was trying to avoid running into. Long story. "I have to clear some stuff up here, so I'll be a while. I'll just meet you at the Horseshoe."
"Easy now. I'll see you in a couple of hours."
It was a little after eight o'clock when I walked into the Horseshoe. I got a beer and walked around until I ran into a table full of people from Gen-Tech, the programming company I worked for until I took the plunge and left to become my own boss. I still recognized a few of the people sitting there -- they were veterans not only of the company, but of the weekly Friday steam-blowing sessions at the bar, and I pulled up a chair to get caught up on things.
Throughout the evening, people came and went from the table, playing musical chairs. Coming back from the bathroom, I found my old seat taken, so I fell into the only one open, next to Miriam Hall, a newer programmer that I'd met last year at one of the Friday night piss-ups. Other than drunken barroom chatter across the table, we'd never talked much, although that wasn't for lack of wanting to on my part. Though we hadn't spent much of anything you'd want to call quality time together, I had still managed to develop a healthy crush on her; in fact, it was Miriam who fuelled the fetish for short-haired women that had led me to pursue my arrangement with Gloria, the big difference between the two being that Gloria's was dark while Miriam's was bleached blonde and spikey. Her eyebrows, which arched sharply over clear blue eyes, were too dark for her to even pretend to be a natural blonde; I spent many a pleasant hour imagining just how much the carpet wouldn't match the drapes.
In fact, Gloria and Miriam were similarly built, too -- thin, small-breasted and narrow-hipped bodies that made them look taller than they were. I spent many another pleasant hour imagining what it would be like to fuck them both together. The mind boggles.
As I sat down, Miriam was listening languidly to someone across the table, her head cradled in her hands with her elbows braced on either side of her glass. She turned her head as I pulled up my chair and smiled, straightening in her chair and running her fingers through her spikey hair.
"Good evening, Mr. Hunter," she said, slurring slightly. "Fancy meeting you here."
"Yeah," I smiled back, "what are the odds, huh?"
Miriam giggled and started to toy with her hair again, then as if she caught herself in the act, she brought her hand quickly down to the table.
"So," she said, rubbing a finger around the rim of her sling glass, looking at me, "what are you doing here all alone, big boy?"
"Who else would I be here with?" Her bite-sized tits poked at the paisley fabric of her light summer dress. If she leaned in a little closer I'd be able to see them down the front and she wasn't wearing a bra because her nipples were showing. I almost caused myself a sprain keeping my eyes eight inches further north.
"I don't know. I guess I assumed that a guy like you would have been here with somebody. I don't know."
"Oh yeah? And what's 'a guy like me'?"
"You know," she said, and now she blushed. "A guy who -" And then she started to laugh, her face flushed. She reached over and took my hand, giving it a quick nervous squeeze before retreating back to her sling.
"Uh-huh," I said.
"Oh, stop," she said. "I'm just teasing. For all I know, you've probably got the little woman back at home, conscientiously taking care of the rugrats while you're out here carousing." She took a sip, giggled again. "You scoundrel, you."
I laughed and took a sip from the glass the waitress had just put down in front of me.
"Nope," I said. "There hasn't been a 'little woman' in a couple of years. My lawyer took care of that."
"Oh yeah," she said, looking down. "I knew that. Sorry."
"Yeah, right," I said. "Don't be sorry. It wasn't a bad thing." I looked around the room. "What about you? Where's the guy you're usually here with? The one with the goatee?"
She took a long drink from her glass and looked away. "I haven't talked to him lately."
"Oh." Shit. Now my face turned red. "Shit. Now I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring that up -"
"It's OK," Miriam said. She was smiling again and put her hand on my forearm, squeezed and let it linger before reaching for her glass again. "Don't be embarassed." She took a drink. "Anyways, it's been almost three weeks, so I'm wa-a-a-y over it." She waved dismissively, then touched my cheek with her fingertips and giggled again. "God, Dave, you're blushing. I'm sorry. You didn't know."
"Yeah, well, if putting my foot in my mouth was an Olympic sport, they've have my face carved on the medals." She laughed at this, really laughed, holding her hand up to her mouth. Her nails, painted bright red, were chewed down to the finger. I laughed too, not put-on, but the real thing; her laughter was so honest, she was enjoying it so much, that I just couldn't help responding in kind. By now, though, my bladder was screaming for attention, but I didn't want to get up. If I left, the odds were that this conversation (and my chances) would be following my beer down the sewer.
The problem was taken out of my hands. Miriam leaned forward and beckoned me to get closer. "I have to visit the ladies' room," she said, her lips deliciously close to my ear.
"That's funny," I said. "So do I."
Miriam sat back and looked at me, then started to laugh again. "That is funny," she said. She stood up, a little wobbly, and held out her hand. "Will you escort me to the facilities, kind sir?" she said. "In return, I'll watch the door for you so you aren't interrupted while you use the can, man."
"Well, with an offer like that," I said. I took her hand and stood up. We made our way through the crowd, still holding hands -- she had twined her fingers through mine. And when we were forced to give up our grip to get through a lineup at the bar in the back room, I put my hand in the small of her back and she looked back at me and smiled and blew me a kiss. I watched her disappear into the ladies' room then I went into the men's, where there was a lineup, as usual, for the two stalls and three urinals. By the time I got my turn -- at a urinal next to a guy so drunk he fumbled with his fly for half a minute before finally getting his dick out and then missed the porcelain and pissed on his own foot, better his than mine, I thought -- at least five minutes had passed and when I got back out to the bar, I looked around for Miriam and there was no sign of her in the crowd. I stood around for a couple of minutes, trying not to look like someone who was standing around waiting near the bathrooms, then I went over to the bar and got a beer. She still hadn't come out, and by then enough people had been circulating in and out of the women's can that she had to have left before I did. Shit. Oh well.
I ordered another beer and waded out into the crowd and was trying to squeeze between a pool table and a guy in a wife-beater shirt who smelled sharply of oily BO when I was grabbed by the elbow.
"Hey stranger," Colleen said. She was beaming at me, her pixie face flushed with liquor and the heat of the room, her brown hair matted to her forehead by sweat. She was wearing a low-cut blouse that showed off an ample amount of cleavage that seemed to wink at me as she reached her arms up to me. "Gimme a hug, you big galloot. I was starting to think you changed your mind about coming."
I bent over and hugged her around the waist as she wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed. "No, I've been here a while," I said. "I was sitting with -"
"Oh, I saw who you were sitting with," she said, looking at me coquettishly. "Very nice. So what happened to her? Did you scare her off?"
I shrugged. "I went to the bathroom and when I came out she was gone. Just one of those things, I guess. Maybe I'll see her again next Friday."
"Poor baby," Colleen pouted. She reached up and pinched my cheek.
"I'll live," I said. "Where's Jamie?" Jamie worked with Colleen in the university's public relations office and after me, he was her closest male friend. Unlike me, he was flamingly gay. Colleen told me once that she thought he had a crush on me and while I certainly had no interest in indulging him, we did carry out a bit of a harmless flirtation from time to time.
"I sent him to the bar on a liquor run," Colleen said. "Do you want to go find a table with us? I'm sure he'll be happy to see you again." She smirked.
I smirked right back. "Sure," I said. "Let's go to the bar first -"
I stopped in mid-sentence. I had turned toward the bar and over in the corner, at the Gen-Tech table, Miriam was sitting at one end by herself.
"Actually, maybe I'll meet up with you guys later," I said. "Look: she's right there."
Colleen stood on her tip-toes and craned her neck to see. She grinned wickedly up at me.
"Maybe I'll just see you tomorrow," she said. She punched me on the shoulder. "Are we still on for dinner tomorrow?"
"Yes we are," I said. "I'll pick yopu up around five."
"Okay. Have fun, buddy. Good luck."
I made my way through the crowd, which was starting to thin at this point, and dropped into the chair next to Miriam. She was staring into space and it took a couple of seconds before she
noticed my presence and turned. She smiled as she recognized me.
"I thought I'd lost you," I said, putting my arm on the back of her chair around her shoulders. She smiled and leaned in close.
"I have to go to bed," Miriam said, leaning into my ear. I could smell her shampoo, a tropical fruit aroma cutting through the bar smoke. "Can you walk me home, Mr. Hunter? I only live a couple of blocks away. You can come back here after, or I'll call you a cab."
"Sure," I said. I drained my beer and helped Miriam on with the windbreaker she was carrying, pulling out the sleeve and aiming her into it. She giggled drunkenly.
"Why, thank you, kind sir," she said.
"Ahem," I said, holding out my arm. Laughing, Miriam put her arm through his. "Oh, my," she said. "Such chiv-chivly-chivalry. I blush." She giggled at her own drunken stutter and I laughed. By this point I was pretty drunk too, so it took us a bit of work to make it to the door, stumbling, unsteady, arm in arm. I pushed the door open and held it for her, bowing as she walked through. We walked out into the street, her arm still hooked through mine, leaning into me. She tripped over a crack in the sidewalk and I pulled my arm from hers and grabbed her around the waist, pulling her against me. I looked down into her face and she was blushing, looking up at me. She giggled.
"Oops," she said.
"Oops," I said. I leaned down and kissed her. Her lips parted instantly and the tip of her tongue snaked out and touched mine. I cupped her cheek and she moaned as our tongues started their explorations. The air was cool and I could feel her warmth rising from her as we embraced.
Miriam pulled her mouth away and looked me in the eyes. "Do you want to come to my place?" she said.
"God yes," I said. Miriam grinned evilly and grabbed my hand.
"Let's go," she said. "Hurry!"
"I'm hurrying," I said. Her place was in a small apartment building another three blocks away. We stopped a few more times along the way to make out and by the time she found the right key and we got inside my cock was straining painfully against my jeans. Miriam tossed her keys and purse on the kitchen table and wrapped her arms around my neck. We kissed long and hard and she forced her tongue into my mouth, grinding her hips against mine. I grinded right back, my rock-hard cock pressing against her lower belly. Without breaking the kiss, I kicked off my sneakers and let my jacket drop to the floor, then I bent over and picked her up.