by Mr. B ©
Twilight draws the sun down behind Big Creek Hill just before six. A black Blazer crosses the concrete slab of a bridge, slowing to make the first driveway to the right.
The engine chugs into silence. The door slams shut. Keys rattle against brass. A polished oak door swings into the slightly dark kitchen.
"Evening, Cat," Joe says.
He reaches for the overhead light's pull chain. Pen, notebook, camera bag drop amid the clutter of yesterday's magazines and bills on a meager table.
Cat sniffs in slightly interested greeting. Slinks off.
Hours slide through the night like a clock stuck in a VCR fast forward. Routine passes quickly -- food, bills, toothbrush, remote control, bourbon, remote control, more bourbon.
Cat stretches, uninterested. Again.
Ringing of the wall phone breaks the lamplit silence much like a fumbled glass at the sink.
For a second, Joe sits, dazed, then crosses the hall, liter bottle in tow to interrupt the third ring.
"Hello? ... well, hi Katherine," he says.
Can she hear the amazement in his voice. Or is it the bourbon thinking?
"Your up late ... un hunh ... no, just sitting here watching TV ... Discovery channel I think ... What? ... Me, too," he says, shaking the bottle lightly near the receiver.
Both laugh quietly.
The clock hands spin again, yet slower this time. Conversation flows from work, friends, futile attempts at philosophical debate, then ebbs into long pauses.
Whether the bourbon's intoxicating fumes or the unspoken dreams slowed the night, Joe never really knew. Like sheet music, notes of time danced to a score written by an unseen composer, rising, falling and filling the air ...
"Mmmm, I can just taste that bourbon," she said, breathing softly.
"Wish I could give you a sip."
"I bet you would," she said, her voice echoing the grin.
"And by that you mean ...?"
"Hmmmnh ... lots ..." Tenuous sounds, like the scrape of fabric, drifted from the receiver, clutched tightly now in his hand.
Her voice came as barely a whisper.
"Like I would lie down ..."
Joe eased the bottle over the side of the chair, its glass tapping slightly on the hardwood floor. "... to feel the bourbon's warmth."
That sweet voice, now thick, stopped abruptly. A sound like a tiny catch in her breathing slipped through the night.
He listened, his ear hot from pressing against the receiver.
Faint rustling sounds mingled with her breathing.
A muffled rush of air, barely audible, sounded in his ear.
Joe moved his hands slightly, shifted, opened his mouth so his own breathing would not drown out her sounds.
Katherine's subtle breaths, like the faintest of wind, came quicker now. Then, a liquid sound like the wetting of lips. Another faint rustle.
"Aaaaaah," she breathed, the tiniest of gasps. The first real sound.
He could feel the air she felt. Smell the night, there, miles away. Pick up the faintest of noises. Paint the picture with his eyes shut.
A hand moving. Toes clenching. A catch in her breath, and another. And again. Her phone jostled.
"AAAaaaaah." The almost imperceptible sound trembling from within her throat. Joe kept his eyes closed. Could see her chest fall, tiny brown nipples taut. Her thighs slid, gliding, along one another, the sheet hissing slightly.
The movements of her hand quickened. She breathed deeper, her voice low and damp. A sound like the slight lick of a finger reached Joe's ear. His own hand moved quicker, silently. Bed creaks kept pace with the now familiar hiss of sheets sliding against skin.
Her breath caught, louder this time, quicker.
She gulped air. "Aaaahh ... aaahhhh ... aaahh."
More breaths. Faint moan. Then another.
His heart raced. His eyes dreamed.
Her fingers quickened now between sheet and skin. She no longer cared about quieting the muffled catch in her breathing.
Moans, low hums, mingled still with rustling sheets.
"Mmmmmm ... mmmm ... mmm ..."
Her feverish tones sent waves of heat through both. Her hips moved. Hands slipped and curled. Breathing hastened. Katherine's sounds moved into one stacatto rhythm.
"Mmmmmm ... mmmm ... mmm ..."
She gasped loudly. Drank the air. Stopped. Gasped. Stopped again.
Eyes still closed, Joe imagined her jerking. Jerking. Jerking. Saw the heat rise from her belly where the sheet had slid to the side. He stiffened, jerking with her. Reached out his hand longingly.
Both rooms drifted into quiet a.m. hours, phone still humming.
They remained silent until, finally, she said goodnight, slowly letting the receiver slide down her cheek to rest on the edge of the bed.
Joe slowly stood, gripping his receiver still, taking slow steps across the hall again. The click on the wall hook ended the night -- a night of dreams in which nothing was requested. A night with nothing acknowledged.
Back in the living room, he picked up the now-empty bourbon bottle, idly sliding a finger across the top.
As he brought its taste to his lips, he smiled slightly, tasting its smoky flavor.
Creaks from his steps on the hardwood floor followed him to bed.
But would sleep ever be the same?
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