I stepped forward and holding her face between my hands I kissed her and said, "I'm so sorry. That was nothing less than clumsy and insensitive on my part. You are indeed very good looking Gail."
"Thank you Alex, but I wasn't fishing for compliments just an observation."
"None the less I apologize and mean what I say."
"We better go finish eating our cold Chinese with those little trees."
"Gail if I didn't know better I'd think I made you uncomfortable telling you, you were good looking."
"You did not!"
"That wasn't even a convincing denial!" Damn I was having fun!
"Okay, maybe you did make me a little self conscious but that's all!" I stepped over and kissed her firmly.
"Of course I think you are even better looking naked!"
"Alex now stop it! You didn't even notice how I looked naked. You're just trying to rattle me!"
"Gail, I'm a thirty three year old guy with good eyes and a good memory. When I see a woman naked and she looks fine I don't forget!" Gail was actually blushing now. I should have felt guilty but I didn't. Besides I felt shitty for not telling her before that she was a good looking woman. I can be so insensitive some times.
"Alex you are making me blush. I've known you for years and now you make me blush. Now be honest, do you really think I look fine or are you trying to put salve on your conscience?"
"I admit to a guilty conscience but I meant every word of it Gail."
"Thank you. I believe you think so. I don't believe I am but I believe you think so and that's close enough."
I continued. "I remember we were lying on the floor, leaning against the couch when I started to make love to you. I remember taking your clothes off of you and seeing you naked for the first time. I remember being impressed that you were hiding a great body under those loose clothes and I remember us making love very clearly!"
"My God you actually remember that from how many months ago?"
"About nine months ago."
"You even remember when! I'm impressed!"
"I was too. That's what I'm saying!"
"You are such a shit, you know that?"
"I believe I've heard that somewhere yes." Gail came over and kissed me tenderly.
"Now eat your Chinese!" We ate our Chinese. Food had become a defense line for Gail.
I said, "You know you're really best of friends when you take the other for granted. It's not a good thing to do but it happens sometimes. I took you for granted."
"You are going to make me cry here in a minute Alex."
"That's not my intention Gail. Sorry if I sound serious here but you are my dearest friend and I repeat, you are great looking in and out of clothes. Sorry I don't have a camera anymore or I'd take your picture!"
"Oh sure now that you don't have a camera you want to take my picture!" Gail was having fun at my expense now.
"Well even if I did have a camera you have all your clothes on."
I was trying to turn the tables but Gail was quick.
"You only take pictures of women if they are naked?"
"That certainly helps!"
"You are so shallow"
"So if I take my clothes off it doesn't count because you can't take my picture?"
"If you take your clothes off, we won't have time for pictures!"
"I see. You've been trying to get me to take my clothes off haven't you?"
"Only since eating Chinese. There must be something in the egg rolls."
"Maybe I'll just take my clothes off and see if you're serious."
"If you take your clothes off, you're going to see more than if I'm serious because I refuse to be the only clothed one here!" Gail looked at me and started to strip. I looked at Gail and matched her article for article. Once we were naked I said, "There is the proof you have a great body. I rest my case."
"You go ahead and rest your case because the rest of you isn't going to get any rest!" We made love on the living room floor. Very close to the Chinese food. We made love for a velly long time!
Afterward we lay next to each other. Gail said, "So would you rather have watched an old movie?"
"You are a total shit. I said it before and I'll say it again. A total shit!"
"You love me and you know it!"
"You're ego is running your mouth. I'll admit to liking you a lot."
"Thank you. That means a lot to me."
"There you go being serious again. Every time you do that you make my eyes tear up."
"When I get a new camera can I take your picture?"
"Not with my clothes off, you lose cameras!"
"I've only lost one!"
"We'll see hot shot."
"Can I take your picture with your camera then?"
"With my clothes off?"
"You're not big on commitment are you?'
"I prefer to think of myself as cautious."
"I just prefer to think of you!"
"Now stop that!"
"Will you bring Chinese when you come the next time?"
"What makes you think I'll come again?"
"I was hoping you would miss me."
"There is that I admit."
"Don't make it too soon, you wore me out!"
"I can see how worn out you are. Your fatigue barometer is telling another story!"
"I don't think it's fair that women don't have external organs. You have all the advantages!"
"You're breaking my heart lover boy. Now about that barometer!" I sure slept well that night!
Monday and back to work. It's not a great job but it isn't bad. The pay is pretty good and it's clean work. I'm in computers along with half the world. I tried to get my boss to let me work from home but he insisted I would miss the social aspects of working outside the home. In other words, no.
Thursday after work Rambo called and wanted to get together and hoist a couple as he likes to say. I said, "Sure but it has to include dinner. I'm starved." By the way Rambo's real name is Glen. I call him Rambo because he's into hunting, fishing, camping and all that testosterone stuff. We both work in computers in case you wonder how we ever met. I met Rambo at the Surf and Turf bar. I had the turf and a beer. Rambo had a beer. We talked and Rambo ate my fries. I said, "Are you too cheap to buy your own dinner or has the boss fired you again?"
"I'm still employed but I'm just not hungry."
"Hell no, you're not hungry, you just ate half my dinner!"
"Maybe that's why. I didn't touch your beer though."
"That's because you don't like Sam Adams."
"Why don't you learn to drink good beer."
"Not in this life time!" Rambo wanted to talk about a position that was opening up in our department. I knew he didn't want my advice on skinning a deer. After convincing Rambo to stay where he was I went home. I had to pay bills and do that responsible adult stuff that gets in the way of fun and relaxation.
The phone rang and a voice said, "Is there really a reward for your camera?"
"Yes," I said excitedly.
"One hundred dollars"
"Can I get that in stud service instead?"
"What? Who is this?"
"It's Gail you dip. I can't believe I fooled you."
"You are toying with a desperate man."
"I was just calling to see if you ever heard from anybody."
"Hell no the camera is worth more than the reward and they probably assume that much. Besides they have all those pictures of Jennie Lancaster in the buff. Those are probably worth more than the camera!"
"You sure screwed yourself on that one sweetie."
"Tell me about it! I'm waiting one more week them I'll start looking for another camera."
"Is that so you can try to get my clothes off again?"
"I would never do that unless I thought it would work."
"Thanks for the other night."
"Don't thank me honey, you supplied you and the dinner. I was just there."
"You were there with me and we made sweet music didn't we?"
"We sure did do that. I still haven't recovered."
"Bull shit but it's nice to hear. That's all I had. Hugs to you and I'll talk to you later."
"Bye" Gail is one of a kind. If she ever gets married it will be a big loss to me. If she doesn't get married then all the guys around here are gay. Except me of course!
The boss just told me he wants me to go to Memphis for a week and get in-serviced on a new system that's coming up. Do I want to go? Hell no. What did I tell the boss? Hell yes! I do like being employed. I left Monday morning and drove. I'm not afraid of flying but I just prefer having my own wheels. The classes started Tuesday and it was obvious I needed to be there. There were a lot of changes coming down from the home office. As long as I was on the inside track I felt pretty safe.
If I'm out of town I usually check my answering machine. Even in this age of e-mail some people insist on the telephone. On Wednesday evening I checked the messages and after listening to Rambo rant on about my bad advice and Gail just checking in with me,
a strange voice came on. I thought "Gail, you can't get me twice!" The voice was definitely female and after a few words I knew it wasn't Gail. The voice said, "I found your camera at the lake a few days ago. I didn't see your etch on the bottom at first so I took your memory stick and put it in my computer." I thought , oh shit here it comes!
"I have to say she is a spectacular looking woman. I also have to say you look incredible yourself!" I sent her an email as she requested and I gave her my cell number. When she called the next night she again complimented me on my looks. "Thank you, now about the reward money."
"One hundred dollars."
"You must want this camera pretty badly."
"The camera and the memory stick with the pictures."
"Naturally. But I don't want your reward."
"No, I want to meet you."
"I don't think that would be such a good idea."
"I think it would be an excellent idea."
"I'll just send you the money."
"No, I have no need of your money."
"I'm in Memphis right now in school and I'll be here for at least another two weeks." I lied.
"I can wait. Give me an address where I can send you something. You will really like it I promise you."
I said, "Address it to S. Adams," and I gave her my work address adding put department three on it.
"Thank you Mister Adams. In a couple of weeks or so I'll call you again and see if you have reconsidered. Basically I'm holding your camera hostage. I assure you I'm not a dangerous nut and in fact you just might be pleasantly surprised if you saw me. I'll talk to you soon. Bye" Now that was one weird call. She had a hell of a nice voice I'll admit that but that was weird. Holding my camera hostage? That was a new one. At least I knew or a least hoped Jennie's pictures were safe.
I called Gail and thanked her for the call then told her about the call. She said, "I think you handled it right. It would really be unusual for a woman to be a molesting nut case but why take chances? But I also have to admit it really makes one curious."
"I have to admit to being curious but also very wary. What do you suppose she is sending me?"
"My guess is a picture of your camera with a gun to its lens, or its battery ripped out."
"You're a laugh a minute you know that?"
"It's a talent I have, what can I say?"
"Say good bye."
"Good bye" That woman sure keeps me going.
The classes kept my mind pretty busy so I didn't have time to dwell on my camera except in the evenings. I did remember to call my department and told them of an envelope or package coming addressed to S. Adams and to hold it for me if it arrived before I got back.
The week went fast and I drove home after the last class Saturday, getting in about midnight. I was more tired from the classes than I would have been from working. I had a message from Jennie saying to call her. Oh damn, what would I tell her? I had to tell her the truth at least more or less yet make it sound like no big deal. I listened to my other messages then went to bed. I could worry about it tomorrow and call her maybe late tomorrow evening. That might buy me a couple of days. I didn't get up until ten the next morning and spent an hour making love to my coffee pot. Just staying home and feeling sorry for myself seemed to be the thing to do. Fat chance. The door bell rang. It was only Gail. No not Only Gail. I meant I was dreading seeing anybody but she was okay. I let her in and she kissed me on the cheek and got coffee. We sat at the counter and she asked me "Have you heard from the terrible lady or received a piece of the camera strap in the mail?"
"Gail Bennett, you crack you up."
I kissed her and said, "Sorry. Yeah I guess I am. I worked my ass off in class for a week then drove straight home last night and I feel more hung over than if I'd been drinking."
"Why don't we go for a drive? I'll do the driving. At least it will get you out of the house and in some fresh air. Sitting here staring at the wallpaper will make you feel worse. Trust me on this one."
"How would you know?"
"I've had my share of really bad days and spent them staring at wallpaper. It doesn't help and in fact makes it worse as I said."
"I accept your offer dear lady. Would you like me to change?"
"Yes I'd like you happier."
"No, screwball, I mean clothes."
"Did you shower?"
"Then no, not unless you want to."
"Why do you care if I showered if we are only driving?"
"I don't want to be in a closed car with you if you spent umpteen hours in class and on the road then didn't shower."
"Always thinking of yourself."
"That's called self preservation."
"Let's go wherever we're going."
"You are going to be a laugh a minute I can tell."
We drove for a while and ended up near Dale Hollow State Resort Park. "Why are we here?" "We are going to go for a walk in the woods and get fresh air that's why."
"If you say so doctor." We walked for quite a while. Damn if the doctor didn't know what she was talking about.
When we finally got back to the car she said, "Now we are going to my place for an early dinner."
"You had dinner planned did you?"
"Pretty much yes."
"How did you know I'd agree?"
"Like I said, I've been there before, besides I've known you for quite a while now. You don't want to go home yet."
"Your crystal ball is working pretty good sweetie! Take me to your house and feed me. But you have to provide coffee too!"
"What do you have?"
"I'm not sure, we'll have to wait and see." We went to Gail's apartment. After dinner we had coffee and I said, "You should move into the apartment next to me. We would save on gas and phone calls." "Sure and then you'll marry the woman who has your camera hostage and I'll be stuck living next to a crabby grouch that is living a miserable life with a sixty year old lady blackmailer."
"My God you paint a horrible picture."
"Never mind about the apartment next door." I could never look you in the face again being married to a blackmailing senior citizen."
"Life can get complicated can't it?"
"What about dessert?"
"It was going to be me but since you don't want me living next to you I've changed my mind."
"My God you are one complicated woman. I always end up feeling a little dizzy after I've been around you."
"You get dizzy because you've been around me, isn't that what you meant?"
"If you say so."
"Was dessert really going to be you?"
"Can I change my story?"
"Can I just say I want you?"
"Yes!" You said the magic word so your prize is me!"
"My luck has changed." Yes, we made love again, what can I say? Gail took me home early simply because I fell asleep with my head on her belly. When we got to my place I said, "Thanks Gail. You saved me from myself today. And thank you for the wonderful dessert!"
"It was a sacrifice on my part but what are friends for?"
"You stood up to it well. Good night friend," and I kissed her good night. I called Jennie before I fell asleep on the couch.
She said, "Hi stud!"
"Hi Jennie, what's up? I held my breath.
"I just wanted to see how you were doing and see if you wanted to do the boat thing again one of these days."
"I'd love to but I'll have to get back to you. Work has been hell and looks like it will be for a while yet. Can I call you in two or three weeks?"
"God Alex, that long huh?"
"It doesn't look good right now sweetie."
"Okay then I guess I'll have to wait. Bye." I got a package in the mail a few days later. It wasn't from the blackmailer but the return address was my address. Weird. I opened it and pulled out an 8X10 picture. It was Gail. Nude but with her back to the camera. Damn she looked nice! The note said, "Maybe just this one time." Thank you Gail. I called her right away but she was out so I just left a message of thanks and it meant a lot to me.
The package finally came for S. Adams at work a few days later. I didn't open it until I got home. I had no idea what to expect. I cut the flap with a knife and pulled out two photos. One was of Jennie in all her glory! What a body! The second one was a close up of me. I was on my back next to Jennie. I had both of my hands under my head and I was pointing at the sky if you know what I mean. This woman was cold! She really had my pictures! The note said, "Since I think we will be bargaining I thought you should see just a little of what you will be betting with. It's a simple matter of I have something you want and you have something I want. The solution can be very simple, painless and won't cost you the one hundred dollars. The ante to start the bargaining is an inexpensive dinner with coffee. See how simple, adult and cheap this can be? With love, just call me Gina."
When I got home I was going to give Gail an up date but there was a message on the answering machine saying she would be in Florida for two weeks. Her grandmother was very ill and had asked for her. So Gail got some vacation time and flew to Florida to be with her. She said she tried to call me but kept missing me and would call me when she got home. She said check your e-mail once in a while! I guess I'm not very good about that. I logged in and had a long and very nice email from Gail. I sent her one and included the information about the package from "Gina". I told her I got a call from Jennie and dodged that bullet for at least two weeks. I said to send me more email and I promised to check more often.
I was home from work two or three days later when the phone rang. It was "Gina".
I paid more attention to her voice this time and it had a nice southern "lilt" and sort of a low sultry sound to it. If the situation wasn't so weird I'd be fascinated.
Gina asked, "Did you get the package I sent?"
"Yes I did Gina." What did you think?"
"I don't think I captured my best side but other than that I don't know what to think."
"I think you captured yourself quite nicely Alex."
"So how does this bargaining begin?"
"I want to meet you and have you buy me a very inexpensive steak dinner for starters."
"I need to know what you mean by starters. A steak dinner is no problem but this could drag on indefinitely and I'm not that interested in the pictures and the camera can be replaced."
"I quite understand that so my demands will not be unreasonable but I must make them in person only."
"You have to be one strange lady to do all this over a couple of pictures."
"Oh I'm not strange you'll see that for yourself and thank you for calling me a lady. You could call me far worse."
"Maybe I will but right now I don't know you and I seriously doubt your name is Gina."
"So what do you say? Do we have an agreement on the steak dinner at least?"
"Where did you have in mind?" "There is a small steak house five miles south of Livingston. It will be on the west side of the road and I think it's call Lou's or something like that. It's hard to miss. They have very nice steaks and they are reasonable. I don't drink so there will be no bar tab. We can have a very pleasant and civilized dinner with coffee afterwards and I will put my cards on the table for you."