Ben looked up from his book, a thick black Penguin with age tinted pages. The silver bus, a dusty behemoth with black tinted windows and a guttural engine, pulled into the small station drive.
"There she is," said a man to his wife. Ben turned to look at the couple, the only other people waiting for the bus. The silver-haired man looked at his watch and then pulled their tickets from his jacket pocket. The wife, a small, tight-lipped woman, held a big orange bag with a hug in her lap. "C'mon, Beth," said the man, rising. The woman stood slowly, trembling slightly.
Ben closed his book and pushed it into his jean pocket. Diesel fumes belched into the stale summer air as the driver shut off the engine. Ben coughed and stood up, stretching his long limbs high toward the pale blue sky. The sun blazed over the gas station building across the street, starting the early morning with a bright stroke of heat. The driver, a sturdy serious looking man in a blue cotton shirt, opened the door of the bus with a pneumatic rush and stepped out. The couple stood waiting at the bottom.
"Make yourselves comfortable," the driver said. "We'll be leaving in about ten minutes." Clipboard in hand, he walked into the station. Ben watched the driver pour a cup of coffee before he leaned over the counter to speak with the big red-headed woman. Ben walked down toward the street, away from the thick blue-grey cloud of hovering smoke.
"I'm going to be in that trap long enough," he said, squinting as the sunshine bit his eyes. "No reason to rush in." The grey-haired man helped Beth mount the steps into the bus. Ben looked down the long empty road. "Damn," he said. "I'll be glad to get out of here."
"All right," the driver said loudly. Ben turned to see him wave. Walking back up the drive, he pulled the old book from his back pocket and clutched it familiarly. The tall silver bus roared to life. Ben lifted a foot up on the black rubber mat as the machine shuddered. "Ready to roll?" asked the driver with a smile.
"Let's lose this place," said Ben, climbing into the dark, cool cabin. "Next stop, Paradise." The driver chuckled and closed the door behind him.
The couple sat in the third row back on the right, behind the driver, close enough to see the road and far enough to have some privacy. Ben nodded to the man as he passed and kept moving down the aisle until he reached the very back. Plopping down on the bluish-grey seat, Ben leaned back and ceremoniously opened his book. At least, he thought, there would be plenty of time to read.
Ben quickly lost himself in the tale of old Russia as the dusty American plains rolled past the tinted windows. The heat of the day slowly infected the faintly cooled cabin of the bus until Ben could feel his t-shirt begin to cling to his chest. He sat up and looked out the window. Flat fields stretched out for miles, broken only by the rhythmic cycle of three oil pumps and a thin line of oaks near the white farm house. The dusty plume of an unseen pickup, hidden by the silver shimmers of wheat, traced a intersecting course toward the highway. Ben shifted to the left and opened his Turgenev.
Twenty pages more had gone by when the bus stopped. Ben looked out the window to see the small station, very like the one they had just left. A sign above the door read, "Rotenburg". Ben smiled, imagining the abuse such a name would incur. A dozen passengers began to embark. Ben opened his book and stared intently at the yellowed pages. More than anything, he feared the companionship of some talkative yokel during the next three hundred miles. Ben exuded anti-social vibes.
Ben didn't dare look up, but he could sense the presence of someone nearby, and felt them sit down across the aisle. Sneaking a peek up the bus, Ben relaxed slightly. Everyone had taken a seat. The bus bounced over a curb as the angry engine growled and Ben stared again into the old tale of the disrespectful son.
Miles drifted by and the chatters of quiet conversation began to drone in Ben's ears. The words seemed to stop and linger as his thoughts faded into a lethargic descent toward sleep. Ben closed his eyes and let the cool pause comfort him. The bus jumped as it changed lanes to pass, and Ben could feel the stiffness growing in his back. Ben shook his head vigorously and stretched.
She sat across the aisle, scribbling in a notebook perched upon her thigh. Ben stopped and stared for a brief moment at the pretty girl. Thick, fine hair of a pale brown that flirted with being blonde hung down past her shoulders. A bony knee pushed out of a tattered hole in her faded jeans. Her dark painted lips seemed to recite something as she wrote. She hunched over her work, shrouding her chest between her thin bare tanned arms, cast in a dull pink t-shirt with a faded tiny bow at the end of her short sleeve.
Ben looked back into his book, holding it so that the title would be visible to the girl across the aisle. He didn't want to talk to her as much as he wanted her to admire his literary choice. She popped a bubble. Ben looked up. She looked the other way, stretching. Full breasts, firm and round as ripe citrus, pressed forward, clad tightly in dull pink. Ben's eye's widened and focussed. The circular impression of underlying nipples in the cotton of her shirt sparked a burst of fire in Ben's blood. She turned back and Ben buried himself in his book.
Ben couldn't read a single word of _Fathers and Sons_. It might as well have been written in Russian. He peeked back across the aisle, unable to contain himself. The nipple of her right breast seemed like a shadow under the faded t-shirt. Ben looked back at the book. His heartbeat pounded in his ear. He looked back over, to see the profile of her breast as it jiggled in the steady gentle bounce of the bus ride.
"Magnificent," he thought, his gaze enchanted by the vision.
"Good book?" she asked, smiling. Ben jumped slightly.
"All right," he said.
"I can't read in a bus," she said.
"Yeah," Ben said, turning over the book to look at the cover. "Usually I can, but I can't seem to concentrate today. Probably should have brought something lighter."
"I just can't," she said. "It gives me a headache."
"I've heard people say that," Ben said. "I don't have any trouble."
"You're lucky," she said. "Reading would be a good way to kill this ride."
"Yeah. But you can write?"
"Well, the bouncing ruins my handwriting."
"I'll bet," said Ben, smiling.
"Besides," she said. "I just jot down words. It's not really writing."
"Sounds like writing."
"Yeah," she said. "I guess so."
"My name's Ben," he said, reaching across the aisle.
"Kathy," she replied, grabbing her purse and scooting over. "Do you mind?" she asked.
"Come on over," he said, pushing over toward the window.
"Going anywhere?" Kathy asked.
"Yeah," said Ben. "I have a friend in Des Moines."
"Hey, me too," she said. "I guess this is a good time for visiting."
"Long overdue," said Ben.
"You know what I think," said Kathy in a hushed voice. "Long bus rides remind me of bad sex."
"Really," said Ben, flushed and eager. "I can't say I ever made that comparison. How do you mean?" His eyes cast a glance down, to see Kathy's nipples tighten.
"Well," she said, laughing. "It's a bouncy ride which seems to last forever. It makes my butt sore and I feel lucky just to get it over with."
"The scenery is dull and it makes me sweat," Ben added.
"The noises are awful," Kathy added. Ben laughed.
"I guess you're right," he said. "The bus to Des Moines is a lousy lay."
"But good company can almost make it worth while."
"I don't know about that," said Ben. "I guess we do what we have to and enjoy what we can."
"I like that," said Kathy.
"You have a lot of bad sex?"
"More than I want to remember. You?"
"Hell," said Ben. "All I can remember."
"Why do we do it?"
"Bad sex is better, on the average, than no sex."
"Just barely," said Kathy.
"Besides, we can't tell it's bad until we get there."
"So you leave a relationship if the sex is bad?"
"No," said Ben, thoughtfully. "I guess I don't always. I'm always hoping, I guess, that one of these days she'll relax and have some fun."
"I wouldn't say that. Just unimaginative."
"Wow," said Kathy, "that's it exactly. Boring."
"Bam, bam," Kathy said, jerking her pelvis up with each stroke, "bam bam bam."
"Ooh," said Ben, "what a waste." Kathy blushed and laughed.
"Some guys think a hard dick push is all a girl wants."
"You want variety," said Ben.
"Variety," said Kathy. "Imagination."
"I've had girls reject anything that even smacks of creative."
"You know what the bored cannibal said? 'Missionary? Again?'"
"Good one. Really? Just lay back and spread their legs?"
"You know it, sister. I have this one friend," Ben paused. "She absolutely refused to get on top."
"No," said Kathy. "I love to be on top. Control the beat."
"Yeah. I wanted to see those titties bounce." Ben felt the sweat roll down his cheek and looked at Kathy. She turned away, shyly, and he stared as her nipples hardened beneath the damp cotton shirt.
"You like tits?" she asked in a whisper.
"I love them," Ben said seriously. "Sometimes I think I could squeeze and suck her tits all night. Just loving them."
"Oh," said Kathy gently. She squirmed slightly.
"She won't let me behind her, neither."
"Wow," said Kathy. "But at least guys can get blowjobs." Ben shook his head slowly, smiling. "Jeezus," she said. "I didn't know there were girls like that still running around."
"More than you'd guess. I've had a few who would suck my dick, but they hardly even know how to get started. Only one or two really got into it. None of them will swallow, anyway. I'd love to have a girl who would. One always spit it out. I hated that worst of all. It made me feel filthy."
"I can't believe it. I mean, I love giving head. Really and truly. It's like playing a musical instrument. You hit the right notes and . . . I love the taste." Kathy licked her lips. "I swallow," she said softly.
"Mmmm," said Ben. "I would, I mean, I love to drink a girl's juice. The taste of a hot pussy is one of the best things I know. And I've known girls who wouldn't let my tongue near them." Kathy struck Ben on the arm.
"You're lying," she said with a laugh.
"No, I'm not," said Ben, rubbing his bicep. "She will not let me lick her. She tells me it's just gross." He mocked her shrill voice.
"Wow," said Kathy. "I've had head once, I mean real make me squeal head. He left me. I've regretted that one ever since."
"Yeah, good sex is hard to find."
"Damn hard," agreed Kathy.
"It's not just the dull ones, either. Some chicks are just a little weird, you know lots of leather and rubber and shit."
"I've known some creepy guys," said Kathy. "Although I don't mind a little spanking and tying, you know, if I really know the guy."
"I understand," said Ben. "I don't think that's weird. I've done a little spanking myself."
"What bugs me is the power games."
"Well, some guys seem more interested in being the guy that fucks me. You know, showy stuff, dominating stuff."
"I had one girlfriend who always wanted to do it in public. You know, at picnics behind the bushes, or at ball games or in the theatre. Once she gave me a blowjob at a restaurant, getting under the table."
"No shit?" asked Kathy, her nipples tight, the aroma of her musk permeating the bus.
"It was wild. I think the waiter knew, but he kept cool. She was a trip."
"I'll bet. Imaginative."
The bus rolled rapidly down the long, even highway until it reached the outskirts of Des Moines.
"Look, Kathy," said Ben. "Do you think maybe you would want to get together, you know, while we're in town?"
"It's probably not a good idea," said Kathy. "I mean, I came to see this friend of mine for the week, and I don't think I'll be able to get away."
"Yeah," said Ben. "I guess that's true. Still, I've really enjoyed our talk. We should really get together sometime."
"Are you taking the bus next Saturday?" she asked.
"Change buses and go back on Saturday," Kathy suggested. Ben smiled.
The bus pulled into the station, a slightly larger replica of the others. Ben looked out the window. Standing on the platform, he saw Susan standing patiently in a soft white frock. He smiled quietly. It had been so long since he had seen her, and Ben tried to feel enthusiastic. Kathy leaned over him, pushing a firm breast softly against his cheek. Ben kissed the supple cotton.
"Ooh," said Kathy. A tall, muscular boy with sandy blonde hair stood waiting in a white t-shirt and jeans. Kathy leaned back into her seat. She opened her notebook and ripped out a page. Scribbling furiously, she handed the paper to Ben.
"I'll be at my uncle's place," she explained. "Call me in the morning and we'll see what we can manage." Kathy put her hand on Ben's lap and squeezed his stiff prick. He kissed her. Kathy shook her head. "I don't know how much bad sex I can stand. Call me."
Ben folded the paper and pushed it between the pages of his old Penguin. He followed Kathy, watching the smooth circles of her bottom as she walked down the aisle. As he reached the doorway, the blast of July heat steamed in. Ben took a quick glance at his book and caught a glimpse of the scrap of white paper hidden within. He nonchalantly pushed the paperback into his pocket, confident. There wasn't a chance unimaginative Susan would ever read between the lines.