Calvin Webb stepped carefully amongst the boxes scattered all over the apartment floor as he talked on his cell-phone. "Okay, Robert. Thanks! I'll catch you later."
"Love you Robert!" A happy female voice called out from the bedroom adding, "Thanks for all of your help!"
Calvin shook his head and smiled as he pressed the 'dismiss' button on his cell. "He already hung up!"
Elsa Chan stuck her head out through the bedroom door, and cheerfully said, "Ah well, I see my brother everyday anyway!"
"Not anymore," he said.
"Well this is true now, isn't it?" Elsa replied stepping out into the living room. Gleefully she announced, "Finally! My own place!"
She spun like a schoolgirl with her hands in the air, her long black hair flying around, knocking over a bunch of boxes. With a yelp, she covered her mouth laughing. "Oops!"
"Uh-huh. Very good," the taller black man chided her and stooped over to pick up the fallen boxes, "With your luck these are probably your glasses."
The woman whose cheeks and chin formed a heart when she smiled broadly waved her hands dismissively and said, "Leave it! Leave it! Let's just relax!"
She lifted some boxes off of her sofa and then sank into the cushions with a sigh. Her smile was beaming endlessly. She sighed and repeated, "My own place! I can't believe it."
Calvin sat down beside her, rubbing his smooth shaven head. He blew out a breath of air then said, "Yeah, well, you almost didn't make it."
She rolled her eyes knowingly. It had been a long, stressful day. It seemed everything conspired to turn what should have been a straightforward move from her family home to her condo apartment into an endurance marathon. It was supposed to be a moving party, with a dozen of her friends showing up in the morning to help her out. That number turned out to be 6. Amongst the AWOL friends was a guy who was supposed to bring along another van. She was left with only her family van to move all of her things all the way downtown in a couple of trips.
Then there was the delay in the closing time. She had no keys. By the time everything was cleared up in the afternoon, the moving party had been halved again, down to Elsa, her brother Robert, and her friend Calvin. She was fortunate that Calvin was an energetic and athletic man. She would have had a devil of a time moving things like her sofa if it was just her and her brother. As it was the three of them had finally finished by around 9 p.m., the sun setting a couple of hours ago in the distant view of her balcony.
"And it was damn hot today," Calvin exclaimed. They were working through a wall of humidity all day long.
"Can't blame me for that!" Elsa waved her hand. She looked at the thermostat and said, "Air-conditioning is cranked now."
With a grin, she turned to him and slapped him on the shoulder. "Besides," she said, "You looked pretty hot taking off your shirt and just working in that wife-beater." She pulled at the shoulder strap of his top.
Calvin smirked. Truthfully, he thought Elsa looked pretty fine in a simple white t-shirt and denim shorts as well.
"So tired! And I ache all over!" She exclaimed, rolling her head back against the sofa. She looked at him, "How about one of your patented neck rubs?"
"No problem," he replied, "But, hey, you think it'd be alright if I take a shower first? Even with the aircon, I'm feeling grungy."
Elsa nodded sympathetically, "Yeah, me too. Sure go ahead! Initiate my shower!"
"Sure 'nuff," he said as he stood up.
They laughed. She said, "I'll order the pizza and try to find where I packed the beers in these boxes!"
Calvin went into the bathroom while Elsa dialled the pizza place. She ordered a large all-dressed with a side-order of garlic bread. They hadn't eaten all day. When she hung up and turned around, she gasped.
"Sorry Elsa!" Calvin held up his hands, "Didn't mean to shock you!"
The tall man was only in his over-sized boxer shorts and socks. His athletic frame covered with chocolate-ebony skin was bare from the waist up.
Elsa wasn't sure if she was smiling or gaping or just staring blankly.
"Uh, do you have a towel and some soap?" he asked.
She blinked, her mouth hanging open. She stuttered, "S-sure. I'll find them for you."
"Thanks, sweets," Calvin smiled and headed back to the bathroom. He paused at the door and winked back at her with a little wiggle of his bum. He joked, "Don't get any ideas."
"Hah!" she snapped back, "Such a sick little mind!"
Calvin liked the shower hot. He leaned forward, his hands pressed up against the wall, and his head down, allowing the shower to spray over his clean shaven scalp and down his back. The warm water running down his back soothed his muscles and felt good on his skin. He listened to the constant patter of the water. It relaxed him, allowed him to clear his thoughts of the little details of the day and focus. He closed his eyes and thought.
"Elsa," he muttered as the water dripped down his mouth.
It seemed he had known her for so long. They had met in one of their first year college study groups. Except for the two of them, everyone seemed to know someone else. Calvin would have been fine with not having to socialize with any of the other students. Across the table a young Chinese student, her narrow dark eyes and lips shifting to the side uneasily, looked a bit isolated. He was drawn to sympathy for her. When the students had to partner up for assignments, it was an easy choice.
They got along pretty easily, both having the same sense of humour and taking several of the same classes together. At first thought, the larger man felt a little protective of the kind-natured smaller young woman even though she was the same age as he was. He knew college could be a lonely experience for many people. As it turned out he didn't have to bother worrying about her being lonely. Elsa had a very active social circle constantly meeting up with friends outside of school. In fact, it was Calvin who was integrated into her circle of friends. He kind of stood out. She had a wide mix of friends, though they were predominantly Chinese. A tall, bald, athletically built black man was easily spotted during their social gathering with the rest of her friends.
He probably should have felt self-conscious. Elsa never gave him the opportunity to do so. Always ensuring he was involved, always ensuring everyone knew who he was, Calvin had quickly become a fixture in her social circle. In fact, over the years, her other friends became comfortable just to call him up on their own to go out.
But Elsa was always the constant. Her kindness and attentiveness and spirit was always there for him. And what had started as a sense of need to protect became a mutually giving friendship.
Just as the warm water continued to pour down, his thoughts continued to flow. He dug deeper. Calvin often wondered what would have happened if he had seen Elsa from across a dance floor rather than from across a study table. A glowing light tan-skinned beauty with a smile that could both light up and warm up a casino and a cute butt the highlight of a slender and soft body, she would have definitely fallen in the "get with" category. It was a cliché but she really did have the soft, smooth skinned face of an angel. Somehow though, he never could get past the notion of classmates or friends. But there were days and times, when she'd be wearing a tight shirt or short skirt, or she'd be all hot and sweaty from playing sports or working hard, or when she'd laugh and touch him, that those notions began to fade. Like today, during the move. The move probably would have gone more quickly if he wasn't stopping every so often to scope the young woman or to inhale her scent deeply. He couldn't explain why his senses had become so attuned to her on this day but once they were, he couldn't shake her from his head.
Calvin gently touched his forehead against the bathroom tile. His mind searched the deepest recesses of his feelings for Elsa. As rivulets of water raced down the muscular valleys along his back, he felt a tingle in his gut. Not unexpectedly, the tingle made its way down to his crotch. With thoughts of the dark-haired woman in the condo with him racing through his mind, he felt a twinge, his penis twitching, growing, hardening.
"Elsa," he muttered again.
"Cal?" Elsa called through a crack in the door.
Calvin shook his head and looked through the shower door. "Yeah?" he replied, trying to shake his mind off the surge in his lower body.
"Got you a towel," she flipped it onto the sink counter, "And I have some soap."
"Thanks!" he said. He slid the bath door open, "Can you pass me the soap?"
"Um," Elsa paused at the door, then she closed her eyes and stepped slowly into the bathroom, "Not looking! Not looking!"
Calvin chuckled as she blindly waved her outstretched arm, holding out the soap. She touched his wet hand.
"Here you go! Not looking!" she laughed.
Calvin pulled his hand back as she released the soap. It fell to the floor outside the tub.
"Whoops," he said.
Reacting instantly, Elsa opened her eyes to look for the soap. She caught a glimpse of her friend in the shower, his large dark brown frame barely obscured by the clouded glass of the shower door. She gasped and squeezed her eyes shut.
"Shit! Shoot! Sorry! Sorry! I-I'm not looking!" she said quickly as she stood in the middle of the bathroom floor, "Crap! Where's the soap?!"
"S'okay! Calm down!" Calvin said. He couldn't help but laugh inside at her reaction. "It's on the floor beneath the toilet."
"Uh," Elsa bent down slightly, one hand covering her eyes, the other searching aimlessly for the soap. "Uh, shit. Look, can you just find it yourself?"
The young woman stood up and, with her eyes still closed, fumbled for the exit.
Calvin started to laugh as she bumped into the towel rack. With a helpless whimper, Elsa finally made it out and pulled the door shut behind her. As he reached for the soap, he wondered just how much she actually saw.
She leaned up against the door, her brows knitted tight, her eyes still shut. It didn't help. In the darkness, she had a clear image of him. The steam of the water, the light-frosted shower door, couldn't hide Calvin's large, strong body sufficiently. And it certainly gave enough of a view of the dark, thick length hanging between his legs for her imagination to run wild with.
"Wow," she mumbled softly. Then she rubbed her forehead. Finally she moved away from the door.
As she cleared the coffee table of boxes and moving materials, Elsa couldn't help but think about Calvin. He was her friend. They had both been in and out of relationships in the five years they had know each other. Their friendship was always constant and unwavering. It seemed to be what made it easier for each other to tease one another, to pretend to flirt. She could openly admire and comment on his well-defined body because they would always be friends. For whatever reason, nobody ever put any stock or pressure on them to be anything more than that. There was never an idea of hooking up as anything else.
At least, that's what she had always thought.
The sound of the water turning off brought her back from her ruminations. She told herself she wouldn't mention anything about the soap thing.
Calvin came out of the bathroom buttoning up his shirt.
"So much for the wife-beater?" Elsa asked.
"The wife-beater is done," he remarked, "Why would I put on that rank thing now that I smell like a rose?"
She laughed, "Sorry, I don't actually have any need for Old Spice soap or Irish Spring or whatever!"
"Well, it's fine!" he said smiling. He lowered his flat palms down his frame, "You know this body is as perfect as a rose anyway! Right?"
Elsa's mouth was agape with a huge smile, "Hah! You...!"
She jumped up and rubbed his bald head briskly.
Composing themselves, Elsa said, "Pizza should be here in 20 minutes."
"In the meantime," Calvin remarked scanning the clutter of boxes, "You want to unpack a bit?"
She fluttered her lips, "Pfft! Forget that! I'm wiped. Besides you smell so nice!"
He exaggerated a nod. Then he said, "How about you? Gonna take a shower?"
She scrunched her round nose and shook her head, "Nah. I'll wait for the pizza. Beside I didn't sweat half as much as you. And I always smell nice."
Calvin mused that she was telling the truth.
They laughed softly.
"So first things first," she inhaled and spoke, "What's the most important thing to do when you move into a new place?"
They smiled for a second then pointed at one another as they both said, "Hook up the TV."
The pizza arrived just as Calvin finished connecting all of her audio-visual equipment.
"My hero," Elsa said with a mocking tone as she brought over a couple of plates.
"Shut your mouth and give me a slice, woman!" he fired back.
For all the work he had just done, they didn't bother to turn on the television and just talked as they ate.
"So this is a nice place. Nice view. It seems really quiet," he said looking around the one bedroom apartment, "But isn't it a bit small?"
"It's just because I have so much stuff," she conceded, "But it's a small price for a bit of freedom."
Calvin took a long swig from his bottle of beer. He swallowed then said, "Is that what prompted the move? To have more freedom?"
The young woman shrugged. As she picked the mushrooms off of her pizza, eating them separately, she said, "I guess. I can come and go as I want. I can see who I want, when I want."
"Was that a problem at home?"
Elsa tilted her head side to side still staring at her pizza slice, "Mmm. Sort of. I couldn't have just anyone coming through at anytime."
Calvin wondered what she meant about 'anyone'. He had been to her house before, met her parents before, but always with a group of friends. He was never there alone with her and her parents always seemed more comfortable with her Chinese friends. It probably made sense, though.
"So it must have been hard for your parents to let you move out on your own," he remarked.
Again she nodded and said, "Well, not so bad. My parents are traditionalists for the most part. Often a girl at my age wouldn't move out until she's married or has a sure prospect of marriage. But they promised me that once I graduated and found a stable job, I could buy a place of my own. They still have my kid sister to dote on and my new job looks solid and I've proven to them that I'm financially capable and responsible."
"They don't know the party-girl side of you," Calvin noted.
"And they won't now, right?" she said raising a knowing brow.
"So," Calvin thought aloud as he looked the place over again, "I guess I can come here anytime I want?"
"Um excuse me!" Elsa corrected, "Anytime I want you to!"
Calvin drank from his bottle again then said, "Well, I guess I'll have to make you want me to come over."
"Ah yes! Entry into Elsa's private club!" She laughed, "Give it your best shot."
He was already planning to.
As Elsa cleaned up the plates and empty beer bottles Calvin went through a box labelled "CD's and DVD's".
Amongst her collection of romantic comedies and Hong Kong movies and concert DVDs, one movie seemed to be out of place.
"Hey. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?" he said. He frowned and added, "That's weird."
"What's weird?" she asked as she made her way back to the living room.
"This is yours?"
"Yeah, it's mine," she replied, "What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing," he said with a shrug, "It just seems to be kind of an old film for you. Plus it's not Chinese or a chick flick."
"Shut up!" Elsa clucked her tongue and snatched the DVD from his hands. "First of all, it's a great movie. I think it's really funny."
Calvin grinned as the young woman pretended to scold him. He nodded, "Uh-huh."
She tried to stare him down, but she quickly rolled her eyes and smirked, "Yeah, and Newman and Redford are pretty hot."
Calvin laughed, "They're also both 3 times your age."
"Not in the movie," she snapped, slapping him lightly on his bald head with the DVD case.
He stood up still chuckling but he nodded. Taking the DVD back from her he said, "No. I'm kidding. It is a good movie."
Elsa's dark eyes lit up as she chirped, "You know what my favourite part is? I loved it when they were on the side of the cliff..."
Calvin nodded, grinning as he instantly recalled what she was talking about.
"...And they're trapped by those guys," she continued enthusiastically, "And Newman says they have to jump but Sundance won't..."
Laughing, Calvin slipped in, "Yeah he says, 'I can't swim!'."
Elsa chuckled as well, "And then Newman laughs and says..."
".... 'The FALL will probably kill ya!'" the two of them chimed together.
They filled her apartment with loud guffaws. Elsa shook as she laughed and had to brush away her long dark hair that had drooped across her face. Calvin noted that she had a nice light pink colour in her cheeks. Seeing her like this, her hair dropping down, the blush in her features, reminded him of something. He calmed himself down a bit.
"You want to know what my favourite scene is in this movie?" He asked lifting a brow.
Instead of telling her, he went over to the DVD player and put the disc in. Elsa's laughter subsided and she slumped back down into the sofa. Calvin sat down beside her holding the remote control.
Clicking the remote, he searched through the chapter menu of the DVD.
"Hey!" Elsa said, "Are you looking for the 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' part?"
"No. Shh," he said still clicking through the menu.
The DVD finally began to play: The young school teacher arrives home at night to her secluded cabin on the outskirts of the town. She goes inside, lights a lamp in the sitting room area and proceeds to unbutton her high-collar blouse.
Elsa grimaced and turned to Calvin, casting a suspicious eye. "This," she exclaimed, "Is you favourite part of the movie?"
Calvin didn't move his eyes from the television. He shifted forward in his seat a bit and said, "Yeah. Quiet. Just watch."
With a sigh and shake of her head, Elsa looked at the television again.
The school teacher continues to undo her blouse as she moves into her bedroom. She removes her top in the dark, her body in silhouette from the light in the sitting room. Wearing her white under-slip, she hangs her top in the wardrobe and turns around. She gasps. A man is sitting in a chair across the room in the dark. He had been waiting for her. His face is cold and calm. The woman is in shock as the man, with a curt nod, says in a low voice, "Keep going, teacher lady."
Again Elsa rolled her eyes. She turned to Calvin, about to point out her incredulity, but stopped when she looked at him. There wasn't a juvenile smirk on his face as she had been expecting. His large lips were drawn to a line and his brown eyes were fixed with intent on the screen. He was leaning forward, his fingers casually folded through one another. He was absorbed in this scene. Elsa glanced at the screen then back at him, then finally back at the movie again.
The woman is frozen, her back pressed up against the wardrobe door. The man sighs impatiently, and reaches for his gun. Still seated in his chair, he calmly thumbs the hammer and points it at her saying, "That's okay. Don't mind me. Keep on going." Reluctantly, the woman pulls at the bow at the collar of her under-dress. As the man continues to watch quietly, she quickly undoes the buttons down to her waist then slips the dress off of her shoulders, down her legs and steps out of it. Now in only her under garments, she holds the slip up against herself, covering her body.