The Bed TestbyJames Cody©
Signs of spring were popping up left and right as I gazed out my window. The sun was higher in the sky than at the same time last month; squirrels danced down from tree tops to search for food and perhaps love; and then there was the green. Life was awakening and I breathed it in with a healthy rip of an inspiration. I left my second story balcony for a moment and returned with my easel and paints. Painting was a new hobby of mine I'd been introduced to by my friend Jackie.
As I mixed my blues and whites together to ensure I could capture the wispy clouds and broad sky my cell jingled with the Simpsons theme. The outer display flashed with Jackie's broad smile. Why the Devil would she be calling me at 9 am? She's never up before 11.
"Hey Jackie," I said with mock drowsiness in my voice.
"Mac! What'cha doin' today?" she asked with her infectious enthusiasm. I think she smiled even in her deepest sleep.
"Well, I was planning to jump off my balcony and see how high I could bounce -- you know, like the cats in the commercial?"
"Very drole, Mac-man. That cat jumps up to the balcony, FYI. And besides, you've never struck me as a man who bounces." She paused a moment and I knew she was now chewing on her lower lip. This sounded serious. "I was hoping you were free 'cause I need you."
"Did Alan run off to join the circus again?" Alan was her on-again/off-again beau. "Do you need me to get you drunk and doing nude handstands on the corner of Galt and Wellington?"
"Oh, quit fooling around, will you? My waterbed bled to death last night and I'm without sleeping accoutrement and I need someone to help me choose a new one."
"Well," I started, "I'm flattered you thought about me when it came to your bed. Wouldn't Alan have been a more logical choice, though?"
"Yeah, but he left yesterday for a gig out west."
"Aha! I knew he joined the circus!"
"Shut up, you freak!" she giggled. "Are you in or not?"
"Count on it. Nothing gets the ticker pumping like an old fashioned mattress hunt."
Since the day was setting itself to be interesting, as they always were with Jackie, I stowed my paints and easel away, ensuring the paints were sealed to maintain the liquidity. I changed quickly into a pair of green, loose-fitting khakis and black cotton shirt. I rolled the sleeves up a third of the way in a style I though timeless -- my socks were simple grey things and I slipped into a pair of slip on hiking shoes. I also filled a shoulder bag with a wind breaker and a couple of music cds and a few granola bars. A few minutes later I heard the rumble of her Ranger as she pulled into my dusty driveway.
Jackie stopped her pick up truck in front of my house and waived as I closed my patio door and joined her. I was always happy to see her subtly show off her amazing physique -- today she wore a denim skirt that stopped mid thigh and a tight halter that hugged her B-size breasts perfectly. Of course, she kept that fetching form of hers under a grey zip-up sweatshirt with a cap -- the zip was conveniently opened to where her intoxicating cleavage started. Her smile illuminated her enchanting inviting face, perfectly framed by 2 strands of cherry blond hair. The rest of her mane was pulled back in a simple yet utterly cute pony-tail. Her youthful appearance belied the fact she was in her mid thirties (like me), except for her eyes. There was soulfulness in her big brown eyes when she looked at me -- the kind that only came with experience and broken hearts. If I wasn't careful I could lose myself in her eyes and she'd slap me upside the head to bring me down to earth.
"Earth to Mac," she said as she hustled the truck in gear and sped from my driveway in a cloud of dust and gravel. She loved her Ford Ranger 4X4.
"Sorry, I got lost in thought."
"Not my boobs? I'm disappointed."
"Ha, ha," I responded dryly, noticing nonetheless the smoothness of her thighs as she moved from the breaks to the gas pedal. "I was thinking about where we'll be having lunch."
"The day just got started and you're already thinking about lunch? Freak. We will have time to make a few stops before though, won't we?" She fiddled with the radio stations, seeking some ole' time rock'n roll.
"Course," I said as I pulled Bob Seger from my bag and slipped the cd into the player. It was her favourite cd of mine. "You wanna check out Gamington's wholesale."
"That'd be a good place to start. I was thinking to head to Hatley's antique stores after lunch. I have and inkling for some old and solid."
"You're looking for my equivalent? Good move."
"No. You're just old."
I laughed out loud and she winked at me as she pulled out onto the highway and accelerated past the posted limit. We were headed into the centre part of town to check a wholesale dealer in new furniture. Seger blasted about going against the wind and I closed my eyes and allowed the rumble of the tires on the pavement and the music to relax me. Jackie was the only person I trusted behind the wheel, other than myself.
We drove for about 15 minutes. We were surprisingly quiet - I just glanced at her every once in a while, admiring the curve of her neck or the halo around her skin as the sun reflected off her cheeks. I noticed her glancing at me as well. But the looks she gave me were different than what I'd seen from her in the past. There was the same mischievousness in her eyes, but a longing was present as well. Although it might just have been my longing for her being reflected back to me. Breaking my musing was Jackie's sudden swerve as she navigated the truck between a late breaking minivan and a car with a trailer that just lost a wheel.
The truck bounced as the rear wheels lost contact with the road and the bed started to veer towards the front - as that happened I marveled while Jackie slipped the shifter into neutral just as the rear hit the gravel embankment; she then steered clockwise about a quarter turn, tapped the gas and slid the transmission into drive. The rear fell back in line with the rest of the truck and she smoothly drove back on to the embankment and came to a full stop. We were both breathing hard and sweating profusely. It was only after a few seconds of panting did we notice we were holding on to each others knees.
"Close," she whispered as I felt goose-bumps form beneath my fingertips.
"Yeah," I answered. A tingling arose in my nethers as Jackie tightened her grip on my thigh. Bob was still singing about his silly night moves.
A second later though we were back to normal and back on the highway, a few minutes away from the exit that would lead into the downtown core. We had laughed off the near crash stress but I felt the echoes of the sparks that flew between us lingered
We entered the downtown core, rolling past dozens of fast food restaurants and car dealerships. It was a carbon copy of every other midsized town: warehouse stores and malls spiraling outward from an almost deserted centre. Jackie was eying the various entrances to make sure we didn't miss Gamington's parking lot. She saw it a few moments later and realising we were in the wrong lane she gunned the truck into a small breach in traffic and drove into the parking lot, wheels squealing in protest to this abuse.
Once parked, we got out of the truck and passers-by gawked at the sight of a woman who'd been driving like a madman.
"Her operation was successful but they haven't managed to eliminate all the testosterone yet," I explained as we passed some onlookers.
"I used to be Irwin," Jackie chimed, stretching her voice like a male soprano whose voice had just cracked. "We're very modern," she added and slipped her arm around my waist.
We watched their stares reflect in the doors as we entered the commerce. Jackie snickered and I punched her shoulders. The ironic part of it was there was a hint of plausibility in that little improv: Jackie stood about 2 inches taller than I was. But for the rest she emanated femininity with curved hips and slim shoulders and strong but delicate hands. She played jazz piano - it was how she met and latest and not so greatest. I met her after she did a local show - a mutual friend introduced us since I write and she was looking for a lyricist as she was working on her first solo album. Put that was shelved for now and she worked as a music teacher in a local college. We had stayed very close friends though.
We wandered the meandering paths woven among the furniture. Jackie paid attention to colonial and provincial design while I appreciated Asian imports and middle-eastern inspired designs. It was probably all imported from China anyway.
"Mac, have a look at this!" she exclaimed a she called me over. I put back the obsidian vase I was checking and joined her. She was standing in front of a massive 4 post bed; the posts were sculpted white columns of what looked like alabaster marble or ivory taking root in lion shaped foot pegs. The box spring and the mattress together must have measured nearly 3 feet in thickness and the pegs were about a foot long so the top of the bed was about 4 feet off the ground. The covers were thick Persian like rugs coloured in reds and browns, displaying images of exotic animals running around a shaggy savannah.
"That ... looks ... terrible..." I whispered as I stared awe struck at the bed. Jackie was already hoisting herself on top of it and patted the mattress next to her.
"Come on up!" she giggled. "The view is wonderful."
"Not to bad from down here either," I answered as I jumped up and joined her. Our thighs pressed together as we swung our legs above the ground. The mattress was hard and bouncy. "So miz Hall," I said with my most exaggerated accent. "Wheir d'ye wont dis Safahri t'take ya?" I was already rolling on the bed and lying on my back on the right side. Jackie lade down next to me. From the corner of my eye I noticed how her hair spread across the pillow and how her breasts seemed to float up and down under her sweat as she breathed.
"Well Mr. pahrk rhanger ser," she said with an overdone southern accent. "Ah was thinkin' we could hussle down th'Ahmazon ta find sum exahtic orchids."
After that remark, I started to bounce on the bed, causing the frame to shimmy and rattle. "Well miz hall, me be thinkin' th'rapids ar bein a wee bit strunger dan expect'd!"
The frame of the bed shuddered and shimmied under our mutual agitation. We startled to laugh and carried on about the harshness of the rapids and the beauty of the jungle until the bed finally gave way under our madly shifting weight. Jackie yelped as the mattress imploded and she crashed down on me. The position was a bit awkward but she was resting her head on my barreled chest and her hands has slipped around my back. I caressed her hair with the lightest touch and said without an accent: "We went over the falls, Miss Hall."
"I can`t think of a place I`d rather be right now," Jackie said as I felt her breathing slow down and her fingers join beneath my back. She placed her head so that her ear was against my heart. I closed my eyes and took a deep whiff of the smell from her hair and my cock stirred an I didn`t fight it. And I was certain she could feel my shaft swell within my pants.
Our reverie was short lived when we heard someone demand what the fuck happened. Jackie was the first to stand, giving me a chance to downplay my erection and I stood to join her. She was already conversing with the manager when I joined her.
"... And that's when I swore I saw a rat scuttle from under the bed and I panicked and all I could think of was getting high..." she lied. But the way her cheeks were flushed could not hide that she`d been as turned on as I`d been.
"Actually, sir," I intervened. "There was no rat." I saw Jackie become shocked and she chewed her lower lip. "We were just victims of what`s commonly called spontaneous furniture implosion."
"What?" he said bluntly while his eyebrows rose.
"It`s happening more and more," I continued as I took his arm and slowly guided him to the entrance. "It`s been laboratory proven that furniture of a certain mass and kitsch acts like Supernovae that`ve spent all their helium/deuterium fuel. They collapse in on themselves to form a retail black hole." We were at the door and Jackie`s foot was already outside. "You, and your patrons, were fortunate that my companion and I were close enough to the anomaly`s event horizon that we were sucked in and managed to prevent any further collapse. We just saved your store from blinking out of existence."
"Uh..." he started and raised his hand.
"No need to thank us. Have a nice day and thank you for your cooperation."
Jackie had already dashed to the truck and was waiving me inside. I sprinted to the passenger side and she sped away. I saw in the rear-view mirror the manager glance inside and back at us and at the laughing crowd that had gathered around him. Then he shook his fist and I was sure he was cursing us with the name of every deity he could think of.
"I can't believe you managed that," she said with a mix of admiration and admonition.
"Well, you couldn`t lie worth a damn to save your life. You are a woman of action, Jackie Hall. I, on the other hand, was born with a bit of Blarney up my ass."
"That explains the smell. Freak. Let's eat."
It was a short jaunt to the central mall and the Chinese buffet restaurant we decided on: Benni's One Ton. The parking lot was empty as the lunch buffet had yet to converge on the restaurant. Jackie was quiet as she pulled the Ranger into a parking space near the restaurant's main entrance. We hadn't discussed the closeness we'd felt on the bed.
There was no line up, but I could see Jackie tapping her foot nervously and chew on her full lower lip. I'd rarely seen her so nervous - she would give me a quick glance and then look away to the floor or the ceiling. I wasn't doing any better, really. I could feel sweat bead at my hairline and the stray drop streak down to my thick eyebrows. We were seated near a window seconds after arriving and it was somehow soothing to have a table between us. The close proximity we'd been sharing was sometimes unbearable.
We were given menus and we indicated we were going to take the buffet. Jackie was the first up and she piled her plate with stir fry vegetables and some noodles. I was a bit more traditional and opened with won ton soup and some egg rolls. After we sat back down we ate in silence - neither one of us would spark a conversation in fear we'd tread the treacherous waters of what appeared to be happening today. It appeared we both wanted our friendship to remain in a status quo.
"Jackie?" said the waitress carrying the water pitcher. Recognition flashed across Jackie's face.
"Meg? My god! I haven't seen you since college."
I watched as the two old friends exchanged partial life histories. I even had time to go back and get myself a plate of breaded shrimp and frog legs and other assorted seafood delicacies.
"Is this fine gentleman your better half?" Meg asked as I took my seat opposite Jackie.
Jackie looked at me for a few moments, hesitantly chewing her lower lip - it was a bit of a habit - and she appeared torn on how to qualify me.
"No," she finally said. But she did put her hand on mine. "This is Mac O'neil. He's a very good friend of mine. Maybe the best friend. And he is my ... other half. In a way..." She trailed off and continued to hold my hand.
I didn't move my hand as Meg told us she had to leave and serve other customers. We continued to eat in silence, our hands intertwined as the significance of Jackie's words sank in. They were going to be harder to digest than the MSG in our food.
After the meal we went back to truck. "So what now?" I asked as she put the key in the ignition and the truck in gear.
"Well, I still want to go to Hatley's to check out some antique stores."
"Oh. I meant... Yeah. You still need a bed."
"Yup. I need to check some beds. With you."
We took side roads as we drove to Hatley. It was a small lakeside town with beautiful scenery and a yearly tide of tourist seeking their contemporaries in a bucolic setting. Luckily it was early in the season and only the locals pestered the antique shops as they prepared their stock for the high tourist season. We pulled into a public parking lot and trekked on foot the boardwalk, stopping before the various vitrines and admiring the panoply of old furniture and knick-knacks and objets d'arts. For this first time in the 2 years we've know each other we were walking arms together akimbo.
Our walking slowed as we came to stand in front of a store window populated with various cupboards and night table from myriad periods. Jackie hooked her fingers together and posed her joined hands on my shoulder and rested her cheek there. I stared at our reflection -- Jackie was observing us closely, paying close attention to my eyes. I locked them to hers and I smiled; she smiled back and ran her fingers through my shaggy hair. I turned her around to face me and put my hand on her cheek. She pressed it tightly but as she was about to speak we were interrupted by the soft spoken voice of the elderly manager of the antique shop.
"You kids look like such a happy couple," she said. "I'm Edna." She was a frail looking woman in her eighties, tiny in stature with her silvery hair tied in a tight bun. But behind her stereotypical tortoise shell glasses there was a swiftness of wit and a steadfast determination. I could only hope to be as lucid as she was at her age. I had questionable days at 35.
"We're... getting closer, I think," I said as Jackie stepped back away from me.
"Yeah," Jackie started hesitantly. "But right now I'm looking for bed."
"Well, I might have something that'd interest you," Edna said as she led us in the shop, past a startling collection of stuff and in to the back of the building where she apparently kept her new arrivals before displaying them. There we found an assortment of meticulously crafted woodwork covered in startling spiral and floral designs that beckoned our attention. But the showcase was a seemingly fragile bed made of the darkest oak I'd ever seen. Jackie noticed it a second after I did and went to it. I watched, marveling at the deference Jackie gave the bed, running her hands across the intricate flower designs and carved vines that populated the posts and backboard. I had to admit the carvings were detailed enough to appear as though the wood had grown around real live plants. Jackie the dropped to her knees and rested her head on the mattress and lovingly caressed the linen bedsheet.
"I think she's in love," I whispered to Edna while Jackie sat on the bed and looking at me with her sparkling eyes.
"You might be right," Edna said. "But it's always good to get to know something -- or someone -- before you let them into your life." She moved then with amazing swiftness and grace as was at the door before I could speak. "Stay awhile. The both of you. Get to know the bed; get to know each other. I think the two of you are about to change your relationship."
"How`d you know?"
"Old eyes, young heart, young love. I could always spot it." Edna then closed the door. There was a click and I saw a key appear from beneath to door. I swooped it up and entered deeper into the room.
I joined her on the bed. The room had acquired an almost ethereal quality as sunlight leaked through from between the spaces of the piled furniture. Dust danced in the sunny glories as though drunk on an intoxicating mating ritual. Pools of light formed on the mattress, almost purposely highlighting areas Jackie had touched as she checked its firmness. She smiled up at me when I sat on the bed. Her skin glowed like the sunlight.
"This bed is perfect," she said as she patted the space to her. "You know, I've had a wonderful day."