Some will fall in love with life
and drink it from a fountain,
that is running like an avalanche
coming down the mountain.
* * * * *
"Really?" is all I can say.
Well, I think I say it. I might be just kind of shrieking it in my own mind. Anyway, I don't have time for anything else; it's hit the cow, well, cows, or, nope, nothing else.
And why are there cows on the road at night in a storm?
I jerk the wheel to the side, and feel all four wheels leave the road, hydroplane over mud, then I'm doing the movie thing where you're plowing through corn -- cliche, I know, but I'm doing it -- the tall thick stalks whipping down in front of me, pounding the hood, competing with the rain for clatter. Oh yeah, it's raining, but it really needs a better description than that; it's, uh, it's, oh, and I'm still ripping through the cornfield at this point too, until I think to brake, and come to a squelching stop.
Quiet. Uh, I guess I was, ahem, screaming? Manly screaming though. Bellowing. Now though, just the rain pounding down, like it never will stop.
* * * * *
God damn it. It looks like it actually may never stop; it's so dark when I step from the car that I literally cannot see my hand in front of my face.
Later, I stop to press my eyes and forehead to my sleeve to blot the sweat and salt from my eyes. Hot. Muggy. No lights at all. No idea where I am. I should have stayed with the car, though no one has passed me in the hour I've been walking. Too far to go back now. Might as well keep on. And now, nice, hail. A little farther along I feel a crunch under my boots and realize I'm walking on gravel now. The road bends away to the left here and the gravel (driveway?) heads just straight on. The rain comes down harder, and I have to strip water out of my eyes. Fuck this. I follow the gravel.
A quarter mile or so up a shallow grade is a group of buildings; looks like a barn, house, garage, sheds of some kind. Typical farm layout, I guess, not being a farmer. I splash and squelch my way up across the lawn, and up the wooden steps to a screened-in porch. I debate knocking on the screen, but I know it's pointless, the wind is just too much, forget about the rain, so I pull it open and step onto the porch, dripping, and rap on the door, trying not to sound like a scary person knocking on an isolated farmhouse door in the middle of a dark and stormy.
Lights come on all around me, lighting the porch in what would be cheerful yellow light in other circumstances, but I'm so dark-adapted, that my eyes squeeze shut, and I wince, just as the door opens to reveal the second movie moment of the evening; Farmer John, wearing, no kidding, overalls, holding -- you guessed it! -- a shotgun! Fun times!
"Uh, wow, hello sir, I'm kind of in a fix, ha-ha!" He doesn't laugh, just looks unimpressed.
"Anyway, my car is off the road in a field somewhere, and I've been walking for a while, I don't even know where..."
Remember; I'm still standing on the porch dripping, and he still hasn't said anything. He's not pointing the shotgun at me, he just has it over the crook of his arm, like I'm not much of a threat. "Who is it dear?" I hear from behind him, not much worried either, just mildly curious.
"Well" he says, and sighs, "looks like a lost boy. Half drowned too."
Don't get me wrong; he's not concerned, he's just reporting the news.
"Well bring him in" says the nicer voice, "he'll catch his death."
So farmer John, steps back, and holds the door open, indicates for me to enter with a little jerk of his head. I make to step in but he stops me. "Kick your boots off boy, you're a mess." So I do, and walk in my socks into a warm and brightly lit kitchen.
"Oh, lord, what a mess," confirms the older of the two women in the room, a roundish, plumpish farmer's wife-looking lady, "you come with me young man, supper's almost ready, but it'll keep." She takes me by the arm, and leads me further into the house, as Farmer John snorts, and breaks his shotgun to extract the shells. "Sarah, go fetch some dry clothes for this boy now, and I'll show him where to get cleaned up."
I'm starting to shiver now in the cool house, as the rain continues to drip from, well, all of me, and I'm extremely grateful as the nice lady leads me to a big, white-tiled bathroom, and points to an enameled tub with an old-timey brass shower and pipe contraption. "You just get cleaned up now, and here's some towels, and Sarah will leave some dry things for you just outside, alright?" she says, pats me on the arm, wipes her now wet hand on her apron, and bustles out.
Heavenly hot shower, sluicing mud and cold down the drain, standing in the needling spray until I'm thoroughly warmed, then big, soft white towels, wiping a circle in the mirror with my hand, and combing my hair back with my fingers as best I can. I find a stack of clothes outside the door, and I sort through them; canvas pants, a denim shirt, with nickel buttons, and a three-pack of tube socks, still in the wrapper, the kind I wore as a kid. with two wide stripes at the top, and that go up to just below the knee. Very nostalgic. The clothes fit me surprisingly well, they must either be someone else's or Farmer John's from many years prior.
Dressed, I find my way back to the kitchen, and only the motherly lady is in there now, doing several things at once at a big iron stove. She smiles at me, props her hands on her hips, and nods once; apparently I pass muster, even in my socks. Supper is ready now, and she calls for Sarah to help her set the food out. Farmer John apparently has no duties in this arena. Sarah is several years younger than I am, in her late twenties at least. Slender and shy, with dark hair, unruly, captured in a ponytail, and dark eyes that meet mine for just a moment, before she blushes, and looks down again. She's in a slightly more modern version of the older lady's outfit, but it's still farmhouse chic for sure; blue and white checkered dress, with buttons like Dorothy's.
They set out the food, and Aunt B -- as I've taken to calling her in my mind -- tells Sarah to pour some milk, and Sarah points out a chair for me, so I sit.
"John! It's ready dear!" calls Aunt B, and I have to grin. It really is Farmer John! And he comes to the table, and scowls at me, but I have an idea it's not personal, he's just a scowler, and Aunt B won't let the conversation begin until the platters have been passed, and we're all stocked up. I'm introduced then to everyone, and I get to tell my story, and Farmer John allows that he probably knows where my car is, and that we can pull it out with the tractor in the morning if the rain lets up. We have dinner, and it's farm-fresh baby; fried chicken, and biscuits, peas, a big green salad, several kinds of potato dishes, and of course, pie for dessert. Peach. Very nice.
Farmer John doesn't stick around after; just pushes back his chair, nods to Aunt B, give me a little extra scowl, and bails. I offer to help with the cleaning up, but Aunt B won't hear of it, and gently but firmly propels me out of the kitchen, and into the living room, which is empty of Farmer John. The women clatter around in the kitchen for a while, and I have time to reflect on what an odd situation this is, and if this really were a movie, they'd kill me later tonight. Although, now that I think about it, Aunt B doesn't really seem that homicidal, what with the fried chicken and all.
Kitchen clean, Aunt B bustles in, collects me, and shows me to my room for the night; farmhouse all the way, with wide plank floors, a rocking chair, a four-post bed with a little bench at the foot, lace curtains, quilted bedspread, all that stuff. She lights an oil hurricane lamp for me, makes me promise to put it out before I go to sleep, tugs the curtains closed, and fluffs the pillows. She asks Sarah, who's standing in the doorway, if there's fresh sheets on the bed, and Sarah nods, but a stricken expression crosses her fresh, pretty features, but it's gone again before I can decipher it.
Her preparations complete, Aunt B announces that it's well past her bedtime, and turns to go. I glance surreptitiously at my watch to find that it's all of eight thirty. I look questioningly at Sarah, but she just hides a little smile and looks down. I guess it's time for bed then. "Goodnight" I say, feeling a little silly. They leave, and I listen for the telltale sound of the key locking me in, preparatory to my eventual murder, but don't hear it. I hear them walk down the hall, and I try the door, feeling like an asshole. It opens no problem.
* * * * *
Perhaps an hour later, at the crazy-late time of nine-thirty, there's a little knock at my door. The killer probably; it's always the one you least expect.
It's Sarah, with a stack of sheets in her arms.
"You don't have sheets" she says, looking down.
"You lied to Aunt B?" I ask, kidding her, but she doesn't laugh.
"Well, I'm supposed to air and change the sheets on Sundays, but I usually don't because nobody usually uses this room."
"Well it's a big problem Sarah" I say, still trying to get her to relax a little, "I'm going to have to take it up with the big man."
She looks at me anxiously at that, "no, please don't!" she says, "I'll get in SO much trouble!"
"Well," I say, grinning, still teasing her, "I don't see how I can let this go, I mean, how are you going to learn your lesson? Maybe you need a whuppin' with a strop!" I say this last with a kind of cheesy country bumpkin accent. I sound like an asshole even to myself.
Sarah bites her lower lip, her eyes filling. "Does it have to be with a strop?" she says.
Hold the phone.
"Sarah, I'm just teasing you" I say, "I'm not going to whip you with a strop."
"Well what are you going to use?" she says, "I just don't like the strop, but please don't tell on me."
"Well, I'll, uh, have to think about it" I say, stunned, "why don't you make my bed while I consider what we should do."
So Sarah made the bed, smoothing the crisp white cotton down around the edges, and put a perfect hospital fold at each corner.
"See?" I said then, just for something to say, "no big deal, right?"
Sarah just shook her head.
"Are you going to tell on me?"
"What do you think I should do?"
Sarah bit her lip, still looking down.
"I don't want to be in trouble."
Another shake of her head, looking down.
"Well," I say, testing, "we have to do something, don't we."
Sarah shrugs, then nods. "You could just handle it yourself."
"Handle it?" I'm surprised I can even get this out. My throat almost closes, my heart takes off like a, like a, I don't even know. "You mean like spank you? Ha ha!"
Sarah nods, "If I let you spank me, you won't have to tell?"
"Won't that be loud?" My latest entry in the stupid-things-to-say contest. I'm winning.
Sarah shrugs. "They won't wake up. They never do. It's late for them, and they're on the other side."
Good lord. Okay. "Okay," I finally say. "Go get ready for bed, and then come back and see me."
"Do you want me to take my bath?"
Good lord. "Yes."
"And wear my nightdress?"
Fuck me. "Yes." I'm pretty sure my voice cracks on that one.
* * * * *
She's gone for quite a while, then a tentative tap on my door, and I open it, and let her in again. Her dark hair damp on the ends, still tied in a ponytail, but slightly higher on her head, and soft and shining from brushing. I could smell her when she passed me; clean and fresh, something, maybe honey. Her feet were bare on the clean smooth wood, and she wore a simple white nightdress, with a little lace at the throat and cuffs, that went just past her knees. She looked nervous.
"Okay," she said, "just please don't use the strop on me."
"You don't like the strop."
It wasn't really a question, but she shook her head.
"What should I use?"
Sarah shrugged then, but I really wanted her suggestion.
"Sarah, maybe we should just tell. I think that might be better."
"No!" right away, and a little frantic, then she got hold of herself, "No, please, don't, I'll do whatever you say, just please don't tell."
It was the 'I'll do whatever you say' that got me. How could it not?
"Sarah," I said then, "look at me," and when she was; "are you going to do what I say?" I waited for her to nod. "Good," I continued then, "if you do what I say, and take your punishment, then I don't think we need to tell on you."
"Thank you." Almost a whisper.
* * * * *
I sat on the bench at the foot of the bed, which was narrow, but as wide as the bed was, and pressed right up against it. It was padded, and rather low, so that I could lean back against the mattress, and be quite comfortable. I put my hands on my thighs, and patted, to show Sarah where I wanted her, and she only hesitated a moment before coming to me, and when she paused, unsure, I took her hand, and guided her down over my lap, her knees on the padded bench, her hips and bottom right over my lap, and her elbows on the bench on the other side of me. Her bottom was quite fetchingly thrust up, and the bench was short enough that her hands were in just the right spot to grip the far edge as she braced herself on her elbows. Her hair streamed down towards the floor, contained by the band she had placed around it, so that her neck was bare, and her slender shoulder-blades pressed against the thin cotton of her nightshirt. I felt her tummy tighten as she lay across my lap, and when I touched her, one hand on her lower back, one hand on her shoulder, she jumped, and I could feel her trembling.
Or that might have been me.
"Shhh..." I said, in what I hoped was a soothing tone, "just calm down now, Sarah..." I patted her shoulder in what was -- under the circumstances -- an inane gesture, and she seemed to relax a little, but her tummy was still tight, and she was breathing fast and shallow. I could feel her heart pounding on my leg, and my own heartbeat pounding in my temples. "Now," I said, when she'd calmed a little, "I'm just going to..." and then she reared up on my lap as I gripped the bottom hem of her nightshirt, and started to raise it.
I didn't try to stop her, I let her raise up, and I leaned back.
"What?" she started, but trailed off.
I waited for a moment, watching her calmly, then, "what, what?" I said, "what am I doing?"
"I'm raising your nightshirt" I said, "I don't want to spank you over your nightshirt."
She thought about it, her bottom still over my lap, but her arms straight, holding herself up, and meeting my gaze by looking back over her shoulder.
"What do you mean?" I said, but I knew what she meant.
"Not, my, my," she blushed deeply, and couldn't say it. I let her stew in her embarrassment.
"Sarah, get up."
"Get up, it's okay, you don't have to do this."
"I don't?" Hope in her voice.
"No, it's okay" I said, as she started to get up.
"Let's just go get them up and explain the situation."
"No! Please!" she said, with a little sob in her voice, "please! I'll listen! I will!" and she started to lay back down, but I took her arm and pulled her down onto her knees in front of me. I kept my grip on her arm, firm, but not hurting, and pointed my finger in her face.
"This is your very last chance" I said, and she was nodding quickly before I even finished the sentence. "No," I said, you need to listen well Sarah," more nods, "you need to do exactly what I tell you, and no more complaining, or hesitating, or questioning me, do you understand?"
"Yes! Just please don't..."
Sarah got quickly to her bare feet, and stood in front of me, her feet together, hands clasped anxiously, fingers twisting.
"You're going to listen now?"
"Yes," she said, very quietly.
"You're ready for your spanking?"
Just a nod this time.
"I think I'm going to have to use my belt," I said, and her eyes shot to mine, and I saw her start to say why? but she stopped herself just in time, and bit her lower lip.
"Very good Sarah, you're really trying to be good, aren't you?"
She only nodded, looking down, miserable.
"Get my belt. It's on the dresser."
She turned, and padded over to the dresser, took the coiled belt in her little hands, and brought it to me, put it on my outstretched palm.
"Good girl. Now lay over my lap."
She hesitated for just a moment, and a tear leaked from her eye, but she moved then; came to my side, and knelt on the bench as she had before, her knees together, feet and ankles pressed together, leaned over my lap, her hands gripping the far edge of the bench, supported on her elbows. I pushed her hair over her far shoulder with my right hand, so I could see her face, and when I did, I saw that her eyes were squeezed shut, and she was gripping the bench with knuckle-whitening force.
"Sarah," I said, "relax. Look at me," and after a moment she did. Holding her eyes with mine then, I lay my left palm flat on her lower back. She trembled, but forced herself not to move. She was trying to avoid actually laying on me, so was supporting herself on knees and elbows, her tummy hovering over my legs, her belly tight.
"Good girl," I said, very quietly, then, very slowly, at first, I began to drag my left hand up her back, carrying her nightdress along with it, so that, before I began it had completely covered her; draping her to her knees and pooling on the bench over her calves, now it traveled up the back of her thighs, deliberately slowly, and then further, so that I had to move my hand back to her lower back, over the material now bunching there, and gather another handful, and push again, until her thighs were entirely exposed, and I could see goosebumps on the smooth skin, and the nightdress hem was just below her buttocks. I moved my right hand then, and gently cupped her throat, felt her wild pulse, then moved her nightdress up over her bottom, exposing, of course, plain, clean, very white, and rather surprisingly brief, cotton panties.
Sarah started to move, but I tightened my grip on her throat, not hard, but enough that she felt it, and she stilled, and I pushed forward more, until her nightshirt was bunched under her shoulder-blades, and her bottom was completely exposed, and her thighs too, and I stroked her throat, and lay my bare warm palm on the exposed flesh of her lower back. She was tense, and trembling, and I whispered to her, calming things, and moved my hand on her throat up and up, until it was just under her jaw, my fingers wrapping around her slender neck, and settling under her ears. Her hands flexed where they gripped the edge of the bench, but she did not move. She was trying to be good.
I pressed my palm down on her lower back, pushing a little, to show her what I intended, which was that she should lower her tummy towards my thighs, but without moving forward, arching her back, and pressing her bottom out. She accomplished this with cat-like grace, and was almost immediately positioned -- unconsciously, I have no doubt -- in an extremely provocative pose over my lap; slender ankles together and raised up, toes pointed, butt pressed towards the ceiling, her slim thighs together, tummy tight, nightshirt pooling beneath her on my lap.
In the way. Totally.
I gathered the material as best I could in my right hand, and started to push it over her head. Sarah gave a start, and tried to rise up, perhaps involuntarily, but I tightened my grip on her throat more aggressively, and raised her face up towards the ceiling with my high grip under her jaw, and growled at her to be still through clenched teeth. I waited until she complied, and then resumed pulling the nightshirt over her head, down over her arms; lifting her elbows one by one, to free it completely then fling it behind me up onto the bed.