The New Guybyepiphany65©
The young man parked his red Vespa by the sidewalk and turned it off. He brought the plastic glass of iced coffee in his hand up to his mouth and pinched the straw between his lips. He took a long sip, looking out at the Pacific Ocean where the water met the sky. Blue on blue. The sky was much bluer back in Nevada, he thought to himself. Refocusing his blue eyes, he surveyed the people on the sandy beach, enjoying the early July sun. Most were lying on towels, basking in the afternoon sunshine. Their bronze bodies glistened with oil. Others were playing volleyball or throwing Frisbees back and forth. He knew none of them and doubted he ever would. Once again, he was The New Guy.
The New Guy. That's what his birth certificate should have said. Instead, neatly typed on it in bold capital letters was Ansel Stevens. Below that, his date of birth indicated that be had turned nineteen years old five months previously. In his short life, Ansel had lived in seven cities or towns and had attended five different schools. He was perpetually The New Guy, living a semi-nomadic life because his father's job demanded that he transfer often. Ansel craved stability and a town he could call his own. One where he could make lifelong friends and grow old. Instead, he had gotten used to pulling up stakes and moving on with his parents when his father's latest assignment dictated they do so.
He took another sip of iced coffee, looking down at the scooter between his legs. It had been a gift from his father shortly after his sixteenth birthday. They had found it at a yard sale in Flagstaff. Or was it Tempe? That was two moves ago, including this latest one to Sequoia Hills just four days ago. He thought he was going to like California, as well as he liked any place, that is. New Hampshire was still his favourite place so far. Probably because they had stayed there the longest, although that was only just shy of three years.
Ansel looked up Market Street, studying the rows of businesses lining the road. About twenty yards ahead was an elderly man sitting on a wrought iron bench in front of a store. He was reading a magazine and the afternoon sun made shadows on his craggy face. His grey hair was combed straight back over his head. It looked greasy and flowed over a tan overcoat that looked as old as the man wearing it. Ansel thought that the man looked like Charles Bukowski, but knew it couldn't be him. Chuck had been dead for fifteen years after all. Still, Ansel wondered if the old derelict-looking gentleman might be a poet, or a university professor. Maybe even a physicist working at JPL. One thing he had learned at a young age was that people are seldom what they seem to be. Suddenly, his musing was interrupted by the sound of a excited female voice coming from his left.
Ansel turned in the direction of the girl's melodious voice. Standing on the sidewalk less than six feet from him was a pretty girl, slightly taller than five feet, with honey blond hair. Her thick hair shimmered in the California sun. She squinted as she looked at him, but he could still see how her blue eyes sparkled. They were bluer than his own and even more brilliant than the Nevada sky that he now missed so much. He recognized her from the cafe down the road where he had bought his iced coffee. She had been waiting on another customer and was wearing a blue bib apron then, but it was definitely her.
"Thanks," Ansel said, returning the girl's smile.
"You lost or something?" she asked.
He gave his head a puzzled shake. "No, just killing time," he told her.
"Oh," she grunted. "I noticed the Nevada license plate and thought you must be a tourist," she explained.
"Oh... that. No. I just moved here with my folks this week," he explained. "We were living in Reno."
The pretty blonde girl nodded. She tugged at the purse strap hanging over her left shoulder and gave her head a shake, tossing her long hair back from her face. "I'm Maria Mitchell," she said, extending a slender hand to him. Her nails were long and painted a light pink.
He gave Maria's hand a shake, taken by how soft her skin was. "I'm Ansel Stevens," he said, then waited.
Inevitably, whenever Ansel introduced himself to someone for the first time he then had to explain that his father was an amateur shutterbug and had named his son after his favourite photographer. Now he waited for her to ask how he got saddled with such an unusual name.
Maria slowly withdrew her hand, grazing her fingertips over his palm. She folded her arms around her waist. It was then that Ansel's eyes lowered. When he had seen her from the corner of his eye in the cafe earlier he had thought that she was rather flat-chested. Now, with just a red tank top covering her upper body, he found that her breasts reminded him of martini glasses in size and shape. Very nice, indeed. He felt his body begin to respond and he shifted on the black leatherette seat of the scooter as his erection grew.
"Ansel -- like the photographer?" she asked, cocking her right eyebrow.
"Yeah," he replied, surprised and impressed by her recognition. "My Dad's hobby is photography. Ansel Adams is his favourite photographer."
"We studied him in my photography class at Sequoia Art College," she said.
"Are you taking Art or Design?"
"Art," she said. "Like I'll ever get a job doing it." She tossed her head to one side and chuckled.
Ansel nodded. "I'm thinking of applying to their Design program in the fall," he told her. "I'd like to become a graphic designer."
"Get your application in soon because it fills up fast," she advised, then looked at her watch. "Well, it was nice to meet you, Ansel. Hopefully I'll see you around again."
"Yeah... you too," he replied, then drew in a sharp breath. "Hey, where you headed?"
"Home," Maria said. She took a step, gesturing to her right with her head.
"Want a lift?" he offered.
She gave him a suspicious look, then grinned. "Are you sure you're not a serial killer or something? she asked, furrowing her brow.
"Actually, I am," he said with a smirk. "But Tuesdays are my day off, so you're safe with me."
"At least for today, huh?" she retorted as she hooded her shimmering eyes.
Maria laughed. She adjusted her purse strap so it lay diagonally across her chest. Now it was taut between her conical breasts, pulling her tank top tight over them. He stared, noticing for the first time that she was braless. Her firm mounds were capped with a slight hint of thick nipples. Ansel unhooked the spare helmet attached to the side of the scooter and handed it to her.
"Okay, Cowboy, let's go," she said as she climbed on, wrapping her arms around him tightly.
It had been a long time since Ansel had driven his scooter with someone on back. And longer still since his passenger had been a girl. He drove slower than he normally would have -- both out of caution and wanting to feel Maria pressed to him for as long as possible. The insides of her thighs rubbed against his and her breasts felt firm on his back. His cock throbbed and he looked down at it for a moment, noticing that her hands were holding onto him less than a foot above it.
"Turn left here," she said as they approached Dunlap Street.
Ansel made the turn, feeling her slender body shift and rub over his back. He gripped the handlebars tighter and smiled. After they had been driving for another few minutes she spoke again, drowning out the whine of the machine beneath them.
"I live here, on Seymour," she said, releasing her grip long enough to point to her right. "In the blue house on the right."
They stopped in front of a single story light blue house that Ansel had at first thought was white. He listened to the motor idle as Maria climbed off. Her hair had been whipped about in the breeze and now her nipples had swelled so they stood out much more noticeably from the red material stretched over them. She pulled off the helmet that he had given her and returned it to him.
"Thanks for the lift," Maria said with a smile. She pushed her hair back over her shoulders and shot him a nervous look. "Hey... ah... want to come in for a while? I mean, since it's your day off 'n' all."
Ansel laughed. "Thanks," he said. He turned his Vespa off and followed her up a short cement walk to the white front door of the pale blue house.
"Mom's at work. She has the day shift today, so the place is kind of a mess." She gave him an embarrassed glance as she opened the door and lead him inside.
He followed Maria in to a small kitchen. Several plates and a glass pot lay in the sink. There were crumbs from toast on the table. Beside those was an open jar of strawberry jam and the cap belonging to it. When she opened the fridge and leaned over to peer inside his eyes moved to her. Her tanned legs were muscled and her black denim skirt hugged her firm ass. Ansel pushed his hands deep into the pockets of his jeans and his eyes wandered up to her breasts. They jiggled a bit as she moved.
"Want a Pepsi?" She had pulled her head from the fridge and was meeting his gaze.
"Sure. Thanks," he said.
She took two cans from the fridge and handed one to him. "Come on," she said, gesturing with her head. She pulled the tab on the can she was holding.
The small living room had white walls from which hung a few photographs -- mostly of birds and lighthouses. They reminded Ansel of the type of photos his father sometimes took. Maria stopped in front of a stereo and after sorting through a stack of compact discs for a minute she placed one in the tray and pressed the play button. The sound of a muted trumpet filled the living room.
"Do you like Miles Davis?" Maria had sat down on a dark green couch across from the speakers. She placed the helmet she had been wearing on a coffee table in front of the couch. She slid over and patted the cushion beside her, inviting him to join her.
Ansel took his helmet off and put it down beside the other one. He sat down next to her and took a sip from the can, staring at the speakers. "I don't know," he said. "Is this him?
Maria nodded, lowering the can to her lap. "Yeah... Kind of Blue. This album always relaxes me after a busy day at work. It's my favourite one of his."
He nodded, finding the music soothing. He could understand why Maria liked it so much. Already he was beginning to feel his nervousness dissipate. "I can tell why," he remarked.
"So, what brought you to California?" she asked. "Did you kill everyone in Nevada, or are you on the run from the cops?" She giggled and her brow wrinkled a bit.
Ansel shook his head, almost choking on a mouthful of pop as he fought a laugh. "Neither. My dad got transferred here," he explained.
"What's he do?" Her curious eyes met his once more as she turned on the couch to look at him.
"He's a consultant for the government."
"Like with the IRS or something?" she asked.
He grimaced slightly and gave his head a slow shake. This was another question that was always asked when he met new people and he dreaded it somewhat. "No. He works for the MBI," he said.
"What's that?" Maria had straightened her back and her eyes were wide with curiosity now.
"The Military Bureau of Investigation," he explained. "They're the military branch of the FBI."
"Never heard of them." She took another sip from the can she was holding, sounding quite eager to hear more.
"Good. That's the way they like it," he said with a laugh. Something else that Ansel had learned years ago was to not ask his father too many questions about his job. They were always met with curt, cryptic answers or non sequiturs.
"Consultant," she said as her eyes locked on his. "Is that a fancy word for a spy or assassin?"
Ansel deflected her pointed question with a laugh. "Not quite," he said.
Sensing his reluctance to elaborate, Maria leaned back on the couch. She took a quick gulp of pop, then said "Maybe I better not ask any more questions or I'll get a visit from some men in a black SUV with tinted windows tonight." She chuckled, but apprehension showed in her eyes.
He shrugged and smiled. "No. Nothing that drastic," he assured her.
"Did you grow up in Nevada?" she asked, wanting to change the subject.
"No," he said. "I grew up everywhere. Dad gets transferred every couple of years, so we've moved a lot." Sadness showed on his face. He turned his doleful eyes back towards the stereo speakers, concentrating on the sounds of Billy Cobb's drums emanating from them.
"That's got to be hard on you. It must be difficult keeping friends," she said sympathetically.
Ansel nodded, darting his eyes back to her. "Impossible," he lamented.
"So, do you have a girlfriend back in Nevada?" Her question sounded like it was more than just idle conversation.
He shook his head once more. "Around the time I was fifteen I learned not to get too attached to people because I wouldn't know them too long."
Maria frowned. She felt bad for his plight and wanted to give him a hug. "Mom and I moved out here a few years ago, just before I turned seventeen" she said, trying to sound cheerful. "Mom grew up in Sacramento and wanted to get as far away from my father as she could. He's in jail now, back in Vermont. It's a long story; I'll tell you sometime. She's a nurse and works shifts. That's where she is now and why the house is such a mess." Her eyes moved towards the kitchen for a few seconds.
Ansel looked into her eyes and gave her an understanding nod. Everyone has dark secrets. This was another realization he had even before he was a teenager. And it was best to not force them to divulge their secrets until and unless they're ready.
The topic of conversation abruptly turned to music. Ansel learned that Maria was a bit of a jazz aficionado, especially when it came to the music of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Chet Baker. He listened to her, rapt with the lilt of her voice and knowledge of jazz musicians.
Once Maria had finished her Pepsi she placed the empty can beside his on the coffee table. As she moved back towards the couch she leaned into Ansel and pressed her soft lips to his cheek. Her kiss was tender and lingering. Ansel was nearly overcome by the feeling of her moist lips on his cheek and the scent of her perfume. He jerked his head slightly, giving her a look of surprise. He wondered if her kiss was motivated by attraction or pity, although he hoped it was more of the former. Maria frowned when he moved away.
"Oh shit. I'm sorry, Ansel," she blurted out. "I shouldn't have done that. But you looked so sad that I thought... I'm really sorry." She gave him a downcast look.
"It's okay, Maria," he assured her, now smiling.
"I'm not usually this bold -- really," she spat out. "But you seem like a lost soul. I'm sorry if I offended you. I mean, if you're gay or whatever, I don't care -- that's none of my business." She realized that she was rambling now and clenched her jaw before she could make an even bigger fool of herself.
"No, I'm not gay -- believe me," he chuckled. "I was just surprised, that's all."
A relieved smile appeared on her pretty face and she dared look at him once more. "So... you didn't hate it then?" she asked, sounding tentative.
Ansel laughed. "No. Quite the opposite," he said.
The sound of Miles' trumpet cut through the silence and Ansel slid his right arm around Maria's slender shoulders. He pulled her to him and kissed her left temple. Her soft hair grazed his cheek. When he felt her relax against him he slid his arm down to her waist, resting his hand on the curve of her right hip.
"You're scared, aren't you?" she said after a minute.
"No," he replied, but thought he sounded defensive.
"I don't blame you, Ansel. As soon as you start caring for someone, you have to move and never see them again." Her voice as soft and calming. Her eyes shifted towards him, full of compassion.
Ansel could almost hear the sound of his own heart breaking above the music wafting from the speakers. He held Maria tighter and began to fall in love.
When the CD ended Maria seemed reluctant to move. Ansel hoped that she wouldn't get up to put another one on. All he wanted to do was hold her and spin away from his past -- as far away from the years of loneliness, disappointment and hurt as he could possibly get. Holding Maria, he felt safe. Grounded. They were emotions that always had seemed to elude him.
It seemed like only a few minutes, but in reality was closer to an hour when he looked at his watch. "I should be getting home," he said. "Mom's expecting me for supper."
Maria sat up. Her eyes looked dreamy and wistful. She nodded, brushing her hair from her left cheek. "My shift tomorrow finishes at three," she said.
"Need a ride home?" he asked with a hopeful smile as he picked the helmets up from the coffee table.
The left corner of her mouth turned up and her eyes narrowed. "Yeah, but tomorrow's not your day off. Don't you have serial killer stuff to do?"
"I only work at night," he retorted. "That's one of the perks of the job: I can set my own hours."
Maria got up and walked him to the door. She opened it, leaning on the knob and ran her eyes over him. "So, tomorrow at three?" she asked.
"You bet," he said with a quick nod, noticing her dazzling eyes on him.
He walked out to his scooter and noticed that she was still watching him from the threshold. What he didn't notice was that she watched him drive off until he turned the corner before she went back inside.
That night and the following morning Ansel was filled with nervous energy. He wanted to see Maria again. Not only that afternoon, but for every day to follow. He understood and accepted that when the time came for them to move on to wherever his father's next posting took them that he would mourn leaving Maria behind. But he was already getting way ahead of himself. The inevitable transfer of his father would be well over a year away and much can happen in that time.
The sun was hot on his back that Wednesday as he drove his scooter towards The Smoking Dog Cafe, where Maria worked. He was early, so went inside to get an iced coffee. She looked up from the cash register when he walked in and a smile immediately appeared on her lovely face. Her reception excited him and almost made his heart ache at the thought of never seeing it again someday.
"Hey," she said. "I still have about ten minutes left to go."
"That's okay. I'll have an iced coffee while I wait," he said.
Maria turned and filled a glass from a container on a counter behind her. When she returned she pushed the plastic glass towards him, then darted her eyes right and left. "It's on me," she said in a hushed voice.
Ansel winked and took a sip from the straw. He found an empty table near the back and nursed his drink while he watched Maria. Her movements were graceful. It was as though she floated inches above the floor with ease. Later, as she approached him, he noticed how her breasts bounced beneath her white blouse. She was wearing black shorts and his eyes slowly moved down to her bare legs. They were tanned and silky smooth.
"Okay, let's get out of here before they find something else for me to do," she said with a sigh.
Outside, Ansel handed her a helmet. He donned one too and started his Vespa. It rocked slightly as she climbed on, then he felt her body pressed to his. She held on tighter than the day before and he wondered, or hoped, if it was out of something else other than nervousness about his driving.
"Where to?" he asked.
"Home," she said. "Unless there's some other place you need to go."
Ansel drove faster than the day before. He was now familiar with the route, but he was also in a hurry to get to Maria's. Her curvy body felt wonderful against him and he wished that someday they could be joined together like this, only face to face. He parked in front of her house and followed her inside.