|Opening at Closing
The sign in the window of the bar almost totally blocked the window. "TV NOT WORKING" was what it said, and that was easier to read at a distance than the name of the bar was. But you could tell that it was a bar, which was more important, probably.
He was not really much of one for bars, but he felt like he wanted a drink or two, he really did not want a bottle or a six-pack, and he did want some company. It wasn't that he didn't have any friends in town, it was that it was eleven o'clock at night and nobody but his family knew that Paul Janson was back in town.
He had been working all day on unpacking and moving into his new apartment in Silver Spring, finishing up in a little over half the time that he had scheduled for it, and he was not due at work until the day after tomorrow. He had worked harder at getting stuff squared away than at any job lately where he got paid, but it all was done now and Paul wanted to relax.
When he walked in, the first thing he saw was that the place had been done up in a fake-western style, spurs and saddles on the walls and little rough tables in a few places around, though mostly it had booths and the usual bar. The second thing he saw was that they had tried to lay a sports bar on top of the western stuff. "TV NOT WORKING" wasn't telling half the story; they had a giant screen for a projection tv, and if it had been working on this Monday night, it certainly would have been packed with people watching the football game. And Paul would not have gotten further than the front door, because he don't like that kind of noise, except when he was at the game.
The third thing he noticed was that the woman behind the bar was Ellen Fox.
Paul had dated Ellen Fox in his senior year of high school. He remembered very well how it felt to kiss her, and how her tongue would slowly circle with his in his car, and the movies, and so many other places. His hands recalled how they cupped her breasts, at first over her blouse and bra, but as the months went on he was under one and then the other until they were bare and open to the air and then to his lips. His fingers still knew what it felt like to slip inside the top or the bottom of her panties and to move through her soft curls until he parted her folds to make her slick and wild and passionate.
But Paul never took those panties down and spread her beautiful legs and pounded into her for all he was worth. She was very definite in those days about saving herself for the man she married, on her wedding night. And in high school, he was not about to propose marriage. Nor was he married yet; the one proposal he had made to a woman was turned down, probably wisely.
Paul had idly thought in the high-school days that her name had worked against his going all the way with her. If it hadn't been for some smart-asses deliberately pronouncing her last name a little off, well, maybe she would have done it.
Though maybe not.
They had a fight about a month before the senior prom. He didn't now recall who she went to that with; Paul went with a girl he had first dated in that last month and balled after two weeks. He had not seen Ellen Fox since graduation, seven years before.
She was dressed tonight in a sort of denim cowboy top, laced up the front, and a pair of very short denim cut-offs. Her legs were obviously still great.
As he walked up to the bar, she glanced up and looked puzzled for a second, then gave me a big grin and said: "Hello, Paul, it's been a long time!"
The other patrons of the bar glanced up at him, but they did not recognize his face and they looked away again. Paul took a stool and asked for a rum and cola.
There were not many people in the place tonight, but there were enough that it took most of the three hours until closing, at two in the morning, for the two of them to fully talk about what they had done since high school. Usually Ellen shared the bar duties with the man who owned the place, but he was out sick tonight -- though if the usual crowd had been expected, he would have been there anyway, most likely.
If the owner had been there, their talking would have finished earlier and with fewer interruptions for business, but other things might have worked out differently too, very likely. Paul would have had less reason to stay until closing.
He told Ellen that he had been working for Planet Construction for three years now, two of them out of town.
Not as a construction worker, exactly; the job, the first one, was called site drafting assistant and was an odds-and-ends thing, half on job sites and half in offices, that required knowing enough about plans to explain them to different sorts of people.
After the first year he was asked about swapping jobs with a woman in Houston whose Army husband was being reassigned here. He had no real reason to stay, and an interest in travel, so he took the chance. He thought later that the people in Houston gave him more heavy lifting to do than they had that woman, but he liked it. After six months there, he was asked if he wanted a slightly better job in the home office in New Orleans, and he took that too. The next eighteen months included some side trips into Atlanta and a couple of sites in Florida, but mostly right around Naw'lins.
Then some courses paid off and Paul got a shot at a promotion, right back home in Washington. He got into town on Sunday and stayed with his folks, his belongings came on Monday morning, and here he was.
Ellen Fox, he learned right away, had been Ellen Cole for six years now. She married Freddy Cole (whom he could just barely remember) a year after high school. So probably she did give her virginity to the man she married, though he didn't know if they made it to the wedding night. Nor was he about to ask, of course.
Maybe Freddy and her were not that suited to each other, Ellen told him. They argued a lot, and eight months after the wedding he left the apartment angry and walked down the streets alone to cool off when he went past two drug-dealers settling an argument with guns and was killed by a stray bullet. So Ellen became a widow at nineteen.
She blamed herself for a while for Freddy being where he was then, but time passed and she was five years beyond that now. By the time all of this had been said, it was well past one in the morning. Paul had switched to plain 7-Up, and the other customers were down to two solitaries nursing drinks that were mostly ice-water by now and a man trying to pick up a woman whom one wouldn't have thought deserved (or maybe required) much effort.
Ellen looked him carefully in the eye and confirmed that he wasn't going to work in the morning, then she asked him if he would be willing to stay and help her lock up. The cop always came by right at closing time in case there was a problem convincing someone to leave or in case someone was too drunk to drive, and he would be more sure to do it tonight with her here alone, but she would feel better with Paul here.
He was willing. She told him also that the owner usually dropped her off at her apartment, or she called a cab when he wasn't there. The cop would wait with her until the cab came, but if Paul did that tonight, he could keep walking his beat instead.
Paul told her he could do better than that. His car and his place were an easy walk from here, and he could just drive her from there. Ellen smiled and thanked him.
The couple left about one-thirty, the solitary drinkers not long after, and they were alone in the place for the last fifteen minutes. Ellen finally put the closed sign up and as she counted the money and put it in the safe the cop came and tapped on the door.
She went to it and introduced Paul as an old friend who was going to see to her safety. The officer studied him for a moment and nodded and went on. He got the feeling that the patrolman thought her judgment was good, but the cop would still remember what he looked like in case there was any reason to know later.
Ellen turned to the wall switches then to put out all the lights except the one in the middle that was kept burning all night. As Paul stood beside her he realized that while he had grown a little since high school, and so had she, she still came up to the same place on him.
He wondered what else might have stayed relatively the same. There was one area which he would be interested in testing, and if he didn't push too far and fast he would get nothing worse than a slap out of it. And the annoyance (if any) could probably be repaired in time if there was any emotional attachment left at all.
As she spun back around, his arms circled her and he found out that her lips tasted as good as they used to. Ellen hesitated, and then she responded more quickly than she used to, and when her mouth opened she did it a lot more strongly.
His hands moved down to the bare back between her top and her shorts and his fingers intertwined to pull her to him. Her hips moved forward to press against him.
Paul turned her again so that his hands could cup her breasts as they had years before in the front seat of his car. He had seen hours before that through the lacing of her denim top there was skin visible all the way down. So she didn't have a blouse on, nor a bra. He had idly wondered how she could stand that denim against the nipples he recalled to be so sensitive. Now he thought he might investigate.
There were pads sewn to the inside, invisible to a casual viewer. When Paul had loosened the lacing enough to lift her clothing and touch his fingers to her hard little nubs, she arched and craned her neck to find his mouth again, and this time there was a real passion in what she did with it.
Her body arched against his and they continued for a minute to arouse each other, but at last Ellen stepped back.
"I don't know how many times over the years I have thought about what might have happened if I had gone all the way with you back in high school. We might have gotten married, or maybe not. But I have always wondered. We certainly can't do anything now, though."
Paul asked himself if that 'now' meant 'after all this time' or 'in this place,' but did not say anything. With the ambiguity there was hope; the once-in-a-while thoughts he had about Ellen were suddenly bubbling up from inside.
She refastened her vest, and just before she unlocked the door to let them out, she took down the "TV NOT WORKING" sign that had been blocking the view of them from the street.
For the few blocks that they walked together on the streets of Silver Spring, deserted at two in the morning, Paul was thinking of some way to ask Ellen about spending the night with him without offending her. There seemed to be at least some of the old fire between them, and he wanted both to fan the flames and to keep it from going out.
Ellen, on the other hand, was trying to decide if she could tell Paul that she wanted to go to bed with him without having him think that she was sleazy. She wanted both to have him in her and to have him around for the future, and worried that she could not have both.
Paul did not take her home that night after all. When they got to his car, Ellen took her heart in her hand and said, "I would like to spend some more time with you. It would probably be too soon and sudden for us to make love. But could we go to your apartment and talk? I will admit to being tempted to spend the night with you. There have been a lot of times I have wanted to."
Paul nodded his head, unable to trust himself to speak just yet. They climbed the stairs to his apartment, opened the door, and closed it behind them.
A few steps into his front room, and Ellen stood and called Paul's name with her arms open wide. He also broke, and held her and kissed her fervently.
That blue short shirt-vest with brass decorations went over her head and on the couch, and she put his shirt beside it. They moved out from the side and into the middle of the room. Soon his hand took down the zipper on her cut-offs and his fingers found that the area between her legs felt much better than Paul thought it had. Of course, the difference may have been that they were standing now, and certainly it was true that she had a lot less reason to hold back on her reactions now.
This time, seven years later, he took her panties off.
She got Paul naked also, and then she walked to stand by his bed and put out her arms to him again. Her eyes were focused on the part of him that projected towards her.
As he walked toward her, she sat and opened her legs, her feet dangling in air.
The height was almost perfect. He only needed to bend slightly to walk slowly forward and into her. That girl he replaced Ellen with was not very good in bed; he had felt that way then, and with more experience now he was certain of it. Ellen now was much better, much sweeter, than he could have imagined. It might be that in high school, if he had really gotten to her and opened her up, it would have been better yet. But he was very happy with what was in front of him.
Ellen was also happy to be filled and stretched by a man she had fantasized about for years. One would think that the passions of an adolescent virgin could never be fulfilled, but by God, if this were any better she could hardly stand it. Except that in this position he could not go all the way in, their pelvic bones could not meet in that exquisite collision...
Soon they rolled and Paul lay across the middle of the bed, and she sat on him. Or rather, on a part of him that had risen to meet her. She held herself up and moved back and forth, barely inside. This made the head of his erection come in frequent contact with the entrance of her opening, and brought them both very close to orgasm very quickly.
When she came down at last, it was all the way, and only a few such strokes were needed to make him erupt deep into her and have Ellen gasp in release. This, this was her final dream!
But when they showered together before they spent the rest of the night in his bed, it became clear that a repeat performance was possible, and if anything it was much better to take her more slowly. He was being welcomed back in a way he would never have thought of.
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