About mid morning, I launched my boat and set out along the boat road toward my aunt's house, which sat high above the waters of Caddo Lake. It had been over ten years since I had been on this lake or seen my aunt. That was at my Uncle's funeral. We scattered his ashes on the lake since he had lived his whole life as a commercial fisherman here.
My boat has a steering wheel with a row of seats across the middle of the boat. As I approached the mouth of James Bayou, I stood up and steered with one hand, the throttle set to a slow pace. Once off the boat road, the water got shallow and stumpy. Sitting down it was hard to see the stumps and logs.
A little farther along the bayou narrowed and got deeper. Deep enough for me to feel safe sitting back down but I kept the speed low. I used to spend a lot of time on this lake in my younger days and even worked for my uncle for a while before College. Those had been free and easy, fun times. That brought my mind to my cousin Janet; the reason for my love of redheads. I wondered how she was doing and what she was doing for that matter as I realized it had been over twenty five years since I had last seen her. Where had the time gone?
I tied up at the dock next to the old boat house and stood there looking around. Not much had changed, everything was just a little more shabby and run down. I started up the steps carved into the side of the hill leading up to the house. I smiled as I remembered my cousin John and I cutting every step and laying the cypress boards. They were still in great shape.
As I approached the screened in back porch, I heard a female voice say, "Holy shit, is that you, Charlie?"
"I was when I woke up this morning," I replied and then the door opened and a tall redheaded woman came out on the top stoop of the stairs. "Holy shit, yourself, you're all grown up," I said to my cousin Janet.
She laughed. "That tends to happen. What the heck are you doing here?"
"I came by to see about renting some space in the boathouse from your mom."
"She could use the money. Come on in, she's not here right now but she should be back soon. She works at the market in town four days a week."
I climbed the steps and brushed by Janet to enter the porch. She grinned at me as I did. "You always were shy about things," she said as she closed the screen door.
"And you are still a big flirt and tease, and not nearly as skinny as you once was," I shot back.
"You've kind of filled out yourself. You always were in good shape but now...." She let the sentence trail off as her eyes ran up and down my body. "A better brand of t-shirt and shorts instead of those old cutoffs but not bad at all."
"And that looks like one of your mom's old house dresses you're wearing," I said with a grin.
"Yeah it is and I'm naked under it," she said with a big teasing grin back.
"At least you finally got some boobs from the looks of things."
She rolled her shoulders and the front of the old housedress showed definite movement at the top. "I always had boobs but back then they were all pointy and shaped like cones."
"Upside down ice cream cones is how I referred to them more than once, if I remember correctly."
Janet laughed and looked down at the left leg of my shorts. "I see you wear longer shorts now."
It was my turn to laugh as I remembered on more than one occasion the head of my dick peeking out from under the leg opening of those old cutoffs. "Yeah, I do."
"That's a shame," Janet whispered.
"Yeah, I miss that little yellow sundress of yours also. You never wore anything under that either."
Janet sighed. "Those were the days."
"Yeah, I was thinking that very thing earlier."
There was a lull in the conversation as we both took trips down memory lane. Mine was of Janet sitting on the back seat of a boat as I paddled us across the lake. Her feet were up on the seat to either side of her hips. Her arms and head rested on her knees. The carrot orange hair on her sex was bright between her tan thighs.
"Would you like some iced tea?" Janet asked, jerking me back to the present.
"I'd love some," I replied and followed her into the kitchen. I noted that she was barefooted as usual.
"You still hate shoes, I see."
"Not as much as I used to, they have managed to civilize me just a little," she replied as she got a big pitcher of iced tea out of the refrigerator.
"Are you over helping your mom?" I asked as she put ice in two tall glasses.
"No, I live here now that Gary and I are divorced."
"Oh, I didn't know that you two got a divorce. When did that happen and why, if you don't mind telling me?"
She shrugged. "It's been a couple of months over two years and I got the divorce. I got tired of him coming home smelling like his little secretary."
"Ouch, that had to hurt. Did he go stupid all of a sudden or was it a gradual thing."
"Yeah, it hurt, we had been together since high school," she said as she handed me a glass of tea. "As for the stupid part, I think there was a bunch of that on both sides. I took him too much for granted and he went elsewhere."
"That happens," I said and then sipped my tea. There is nothing like good old southern sweet tea.
Janet leaned back on the kitchen counter and said, "Enough about my sorted past, what brings you back to the lake?"
"I'm thinking about buying Deer Island and building me a cabin there," I told her.
"Deer Island? I haven't thought of that place in I don't know how long," she said and then smiled. "I haven't been there since we used to go." The smile turned to a grin. "Skinny dipping and running around like a couple of wild Indians. We were crazy kids."
"It sure beats the drugs, booze, and drive by shootings kids contend with these days," I told her.
She sighed and replied, "Yeah, I know, I think that is why I never had kids. It's just as bad, if not worse in small towns."
"I had one kid, a boy, but he stayed with his mother after the divorce. I haven't seen him since he was five or six. He's like twenty and in college now. I hear from her occasionally but never him."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Janet said.
We sipped our tea in silence for a while and then Janet said, "There's no electric or water on Deer Island."
"There was an old water well but there is no telling what kind of shape it's in and there is an old electric line that runs to a couple of oil well pump jacks, if I remember correctly, off the north end of the island."
"Your memory is better than mine then. All I remember is that little sand beach and lots of trees and mosquitoes."
"A few dozen citronella bushes should help with the mosquitoes," I said with a grin as I remembered my aunt wanting to know how we got so ate up with mosquito bites fishing on the lake.
"You're think about all Mom's questions, aren't you," Janet asked with a grin of her own.
"Yeah, I am. It would have been easier if we had caught more than five little fish before we went to the island."
Janet laughed softly. "We were in too much of a hurry to have our own kind of fun."
"She always wanted to know why we didn't take John fishing with us."
"He was a tattletale, first of all, and a stick in the mud secondly," she replied.
I nodded and sipped my tea as visions of us from a long time past floated around in the back of my mind. Two young people running wild and free. I usually had kept my shorts on to hide my hard-on from Janet as she ran around naked. The exception to that was when we went swimming.
"How long has it been since you went skinny dipping?" Janet asked.
I snapped out of my memories to see her looking down. I grinned as I realized she was looking at the tent in the front of my shorts. "It's been a while," I replied. "How about you?"
"Never since the island," she said and then looked up at my face. "I had that effect on you back then, if I remember right."
I nodded and replied, "Yeah, you sure did." Then I added, "You were the measuring stick for a lot of the women in my life. Most didn't measure up, even though I married two redheads."
Janet laughed and said, "There's only one of the real thing. Never accept a substitute."
"Now you tell me," I said sharply and Janet laughed again.
A moment later, she asked, "So, why do you want to live in the swamp all of a sudden."
I thought a minute on the best way to answer that and then said, "I'm single again, the company retired me early, and I'm tired of the city. It's time to get back to the basics."
"Deer Island is definitely basic; primitive, almost."
"I think that's what I need right now in my life," I said and held up my left hand. The little finger and ring finger were gone and the other two fingers were stiff in a slight curve and almost locked together.
"Sweet Jesus, what happened to your hand?"
"An accident at work. It cut off the two fingers and crushed the other two. They managed to save the crushed ones but all three joints on both are fused together. That's the reason for the early retirement."
"I hope they had insurance," Janet said softly.
"Yeah, I got a settlement from the insurance company, my retirement and partial disability. The insurance company dragged their feet and so did social security. I lost just about everything, including the wife, before they got their acts together."
"That sucks big time."
"Tell me about it and not in a good way," I said jokingly.
Janet chuckled and asked, "So, where are you living now?"
"I sold my house in Texas for about what I owed on it and moved into a garage apartment on the north side of Shreveport. The garage gives me storage for my boat and motorcycle. They're about all I managed to salvage except for my personal stuff."
Janet looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, "There is a third bedroom here, John's old room. Why don't you talk to mom about renting it or something? It would put you much closer to the lake if you decide to build your cabin."
"I need to go have a look at the island before I decide. I don't trust my memory completely. I wanted to borrow one of the small boats since it would be easier to navigate the swamp in than mine but I didn't see any at the dock or down behind the boathouse.
"There is one johnboat in the boathouse and Dad's old commercial boat is hanging up in there. John comes up a couple of times a year, puts it in the water and runs it. Mom won't touch it or get rid of it, it's just rotting away."
I remembered my uncle's old boat very well. It was a wide, deep aluminum johnboat with a fifty horsepower motor on the back. It had a single captain's style swivel seat in the front on a raised deck, with stick steering and the controls to the right side. It was the perfect boat for this lake and the swamp.
Janet grinned. "His old boat is charged up and gassed. I don't think mom would mind you running it out to the island and back. That is, if I go with you."
I grinned back at her. "Do you still own a yellow sundress?"
She laughed and damn near spit tea. A moment later, she whispered, "I remember the dress you're talking about and no, I don't own anything close to it." She paused and shifted from side to side. "Will an old house dress work?"
I looked her up and down for a moment and then nodded. "Only if you'll sit with your feet propped up on the seat next to your hips like you used to do."
Janet laughed again and shook her head. "Sorry but they civilized me, remember."
"So much for back to the past," I said with a deep sigh.
"Maybe if you pull the leg of those shorts up...." Janet whispered as she looked down at the front of my shorts and the tent there. "Although, at the moment, the leg isn't the direction it's pointed. No yellow sundress and no cutoff Levi's. What's the world coming to?"
"I'll have to check and see if I have an old pair of jeans that need cutting off," I said softly.
"You and mom both would shit if I showed up in a yellow sundress. She had to burn that thing to get it away from me."
"Your dark tan and red hair looked so good against that yellow dress," I said softly.
Janet grinned and said, "My tan isn't so dark these days but then again neither are my freckles."
"I loved your freckles. I always wanted to play connect the dots and see what the picture was."
Janet shivered and then chuckled. "That would have tickled so deliciously," she whispered. Then she shook herself and said, "Ok, lets pack some drinks in an ice chest and get this show on the road."
"I already have drinks packed in a cooler in my boat," I told her.
She nodded and downed her tea. A moment later she said, "I love a man who plans ahead."
I grabbed the key and the ice chest out of my boat and went into the boathouse to help Janet lower her dad's boat. I need not have bothered; the old wheel and pulleys had been replaced with a modern winch system. I went and opened the door instead. As the boat got near the water, Janet climbed aboard, went to the back, and squatted down to install the drain plug.
"Lower me away," she said a moment later.
As the boat settled in the water, she moved around undoing the safety catches on all four corners. The winch hit a stop and shut off. I climbed down into the boat and checked the fuel gauges on both cans in the stern. Moving forward, I held the choke switch while I turned the key. The motor busted off first try and sat there purring to itself.
"They don't make them like that anymore," I said to Janet. "Although the new four stroke motors like I have on my boat are very close."
Janet grinned and sat down in the center of the back seat. "Ready when you are," she said. Her knees were together and her bare feet apart on the floor because of the short seat.
I grabbed my cooler off the dock and sat it on the floor. Moving forward, I sat down in the captain's chair and turned to look back at the motor. I centered it up and pulled the shift lever into reverse. The boat moved backwards slowly.
When I cleared the boathouse, I made a slow backing turn to the left. When I was parallel with the shore, I fed the motor a little gas. We headed toward the main lake at a slow speed.
As I got the boat lined out in the middle of the bayou, I turned to look at Janet. She had slid forward on the seat and had her legs stretched out in front of her as she leaned back on her hands. I noticed that there were three buttons undone at the top of the dress, where there had only been two back at the house. The hem of the dress was just below her knees and flapped in the wind.
"There is a lot more room in this boat than I remember. Maybe without the nets, trotlines, buckets of bait, and tackle boxes, it just looks that way."
"There was a lot of stuff in here," Janet said. "It took me and John three days to get it all out and the boat cleaned up. It was a mess."
"You guys did a fine job. It looks better than I remember ever seeing it," I said but my eyes were on the hem of her dress. The wind lifted it and moved it up above her knees an inch.
"Do you know it has been almost ten years since I've been in a boat," Janet said. "I forgot how relaxing it is to just idle along with nothing to do." The wind moved the hem another inch. Looking down Janet grinned and added, "A girl could get in a lot of trouble when she's too relaxed to even move."
I looked forward and adjusted our direction slightly. It would be another few minutes until we reached the shallow water. I looked back at Janet and grinned. Another button was open at the top of her dress and the hem was now four inches above her knees.
"You can't get in trouble in the middle of a lake, that is as long as you don't sink the boat."
Janet laughed and I sighed. She sounded so much like the Janet of old. The wind blew the collar over at the top of her dress revealing some very interesting cleavage.
"The wind is picking up as we get out from behind the trees," Janet said as the wind lifted the bottom of her dress a couple of inches and moved it up to mid thigh.
"What's going to happen when I reach the channel, speed up, and turn into the wind?"
Janet took a deep breath and shivered. "I'll probably end up with this dress up around my waist or over my head." She reached up and undid another button. As she leaned back on her hands, the top opened even more, revealing half of her left breast.
"Too bad I'll have to watch where I'm going so closely. I think I'm going to miss a great show," I said with a grin and a deep, deep sigh, as I turned around to see where we were. We were approaching the shallow water and a little to the left.
I corrected our course and glanced back. Janet was sitting up with her knees together and her feet to the side as before. The hem of the dress was in her lap and several more buttons were open but there was nothing showing at the top but a v-shaped strip of skin between her breasts. The dress hid everything but her legs and thighs.
"Chicken," I said as I turned around and guided us through the shallow water, stumps, and logs.
As I made the right turn into the wind, I looked back at Janet. She wore a grin and had her feet up on the side of her hips like the days of old but the dress now covered everything down to and including her feet. She laughed and put her feet on the floor.
The top of the dress billowed open from the wind all the way to her waist. Her breasts were fully exposed to me but not to the side. They were larger and still had that puffy nipple on top but now it was pointed more upward as the bottom of each breast was now a small globe shape.
I licked my lips and grinned. "Now the old Janet is coming out to play."
She stuck out her tongue and then grinned as I turned back forward and pushed the power level forward. The boat came up on plane and we ran across the tops of the short waves with a vibrating bounce. I did not have time to look back again until we reached the edge of the Caddo Swamp past Potters Point.
I made a sweeping turn to the right following a line of button cypress. They are small trees but tightly packed together. In some places, you would not even have been able to climb between them. When the channel made a left, I slowed the boat and let it idle around the turn. It had been many years since I had last been here and I was not sure what, if anything, had changed.
We entered a narrow channel between two rows of the button cypress and the wind all but died as they blocked it. I slowed to just above idle and turned to look at Janet. She was sitting up straight with her knees and feet together. She was on her toes and flexing her knees up and down by raising and lowering her feet alternately.
She saw me looking and grinned. "I had also forgotten how much fun it is to go fast in a boat. Not to mention the vibrations in this metal seat and the fluttery bounce. It's, uh, quite stimulating."
I watched her knees move up and down for a moment and then said, "I can see that your motor is running nicely."
She leaned forward and grabbed her knees to stop them from moving. The top of the housedress opened to show me her breasts again. Her nipples were larger and harder looking. "Quite stimulating," I said with a chuckle as I turned around and increased the throttle on the motor.
I didn't come up on plane but I held us at a good clip for about a half mile. We passed a narrow cut in the trees to the right. I slowed and circled back to enter the cut. It was just wide enough for the boat for about twenty feet and then it widened out into open water with regular cypress trees everywhere.
The trees were covered in Spanish moss and cattails grew in clumps in shallow water. Lily pads lined the deeper water. I was following the channel but I was also keeping my eyes open for red circular markers nailed to tree trunks three foot or so above the water line. There were markers all throughout the swamp, if you knew what to look for and where.