Aunt Karen

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** Part One **

I went for years thinking I’d never get married and found myself surprised when it did. Then, after the whirlwind marriage, so-called normal life was the standard and I found myself surprised again when I was back out and single, with that empty side of the bed and empty side of the closet reminding me of the hole left behind. Don’t tell anyone else, but I poured a lot of myself into that marriage. I really wanted it to work, for some reason. For a loner, that’s something meaningful, at least to me.

I know my ex-wife saw it very differently. She didn’t realize the mental effort it took in me to get riled up enough to care. I tried to tell her, in so many ways, that she was the sunshine that split through the clouds, but I don’t think it ever really sunk in. I can’t count how many poems I wrote trying to capture the feelings I had when I saw her, but nothing really fit. The words just weren’t enough. When she walked, she said she wasn’t angry, just sad that I had never really connected. I was mystified. It was the first time I felt alive; I had never been so connected with another human being in my life.

So, I cashed out. I sold the place, quit my job, sold some investments and with that all-too-tiny kitty of cash, decided that it was high time I drove across the country. I’d done it once before by bus in my youth, but the trip was a pastiche of beer, lots of faces of lots of girls that never amounted to much, and a handful of pictures that lost all meaning outside of their original context. I don’t think you appreciate place that much when you are a kid. It’s either land you have to cross to get somewhere or a generic destination that simply holds your real goal. It’s a shame that we lose that, in a way.

The bike got tuned up before I left and by mile 10 I was feeling really good. I love riding that old Triumph. There’s something about the old TR120s, rattletraps that they are, that get me excited. I loved that I did all my own maintenance, even though it meant maintaining a network across the east coast of suppliers for parts. It was like a ritual whenever I tuned her up. Piled high, with my tent and all my gear (and abundant spare parts), she was my mule. We’d make it to the other coast if it killed us, she and I.

Of course, I named her after the wife. Sara. I laugh, sometimes, when I question which was more reliable, the person or the bike.

I’m not going to go into the road, because this isn’t a road story, it’s a sex story, even if it didn’t start out as one. The country, by way of an aside, is beautiful. The people, less so, but even they are beautiful in their own way. I’m not so far gone from the human condition that I can’t see the value of a person, even if I don’t much appreciate them myself as much as recognize what they mean to others. I’m an observer, I guess, and my job is to be neutral. God, if he’s up there, made me damn good at my job.

The money had all but run out by Idaho, so when I rolled into Washington and the vague feeling of the sea was back upon me, I was damn good and broke and the bike had my last tank of gas in her. A stranger in Spokane got me another tank – bless her soul – and it pushed me through to Seattle, but just. I’d never been to Seattle, but I knew my mother’s sister lived there: Karen, with her husband and two kids. I’d always wanted to explore the Seattle underground because I’m kind of a history nut that way. The idea of entire blocks of the old city preserved underground from the 1800s just turned my crank. Add in some opium, some prostitution, and I’m hooked. Real history, with real people getting really drunk and stoned and fucking. That’s history to me. The book stuff is just too damn dry.

First things first, though, a roof and food. Real travelers know this is the order, too. Starving is possible for a great many days, but one night out in the elements and you are instantly miserable.

I called my Aunt Karen up, largely on a whim. I hadn’t heard from her in over a decade, so it was a bit awkward and we had to do a lot of catching up before she realized that I had even gotten married, let alone divorced. Initially, her daughter Chloe answered in her bubbly teen tone, but she didn’t even know who I was and handed me right off. I’d last seen her as a baby, so that’s no wonder at all. Her Mom was more taciturn, matter of fact, but she was kind of like my sister: kin was kin. I knew that and that’s why I’d even made the call.

So she said she’d let me crash and I spent the better part of an hour tracking her house down in the winding streets. When I got there, it was a large two story with a three car garage … she’d obviously done well by herself. Last I had checked, she had been a small-time producer for commercials and local news, but that had obviously changed since I saw her last. Her husband, Jim, did construction or something like that. Maybe he was an architect. I never really cared, which you can probably guess, and so I didn’t care enough to remember. All I knew was that he was tall and had a mustache. casino oyna I felt it made him look older and stodgier, in a way.

By the time I got there, Chloe was gone – she’d skipped back to university. She’d only stopped by to do some laundry and grab some home cooking. She was off to a party that night and despite her Mom’s entreaties, had no desire at all to hang out in the near suburbs when there was drinking to be done and boys to be had. Other than my Aunt, the place was empty. As I dragged my bags in off the bike, apologetic for the dust and dirt on them, I resisted the urge to ask about Jim, assuming he was off on some business trip. I seem to remember him doing a lot of those.

“You ever think about making that thing into a cafe racer?”, Karen asked. She was by the window, limned in the light. I’d forgotten just how pixie-like she was. Tiny bob, black hair, and not even 5′ high.

I laughed. “I didn’t know you even knew anything about bikes! I’ve thought about it, definitely. If I could find an old featherbed frame I’d make a Triton, but that’s a project for when I’m old and gray.”

“Yeah, like me.”

No, not like you. Aunt Karen was never beautiful, but she was definitely cute. She had a button nose and a wide, endearing smile, and the smallest hands I’d ever seen on an adult woman. Her face laughed, even if her phone manners didn’t really show it up, and there was a reason she ended up in the media. Quietly competent and much more motivational than most of the men she competed with for positions, her people loved her. We’d had a chat about parenting once and she surprised me with how open-minded her ideas were. Her kids were well-adjusted kids and she was a big part of that. I admired her for it, even if I never got quite around to telling her.

“Bah, you’re not old, not by a long shot. At least that old crate held up to here. I had to do some tricky work on her in Minnesota, but that’s the kind of thing you expect from an old bike like that. Parallel twins rattle like the dickens and they shake loose a lot of stuff over time.”

“I had an old mono-BSA when I was a kid, so trust me, I know rattle.”

“No shit?”

“No shit.”

“Aunt Karen, you just jumped about ten ranks on my cool factor scale. I won’t lie, that might just get you into my underwear of the month club.”, I grinned.

“Underwear? Who the hell wears underwear anymore.” Karen laughed, and I laughed with her, not quite getting the joke.

She made me dinner, which I wolfed down because I was starving, and we talked about the family more than anything. I told her about my sister’s kids, my brother’s kids, and how I’d even lost touch with them over time. She filled me in on Chloe and her new boyfriend, about Keith and his long-term girlfriend he was living with out of town. There was something else there and it took me getting into my divorce before she really opened up. As I was describing the empty I felt when Sara walked out the door, she nodded and in that grim look I could see that she had been where I had traveled.

“Jim?” It was all I needed to say.

“Yeah, he’s decided that he prefers younger models these days.”

“How much younger?”

“Oh, about 20 years younger. She’s just a surveyor, but she worked enough projects to catch his eye, I guess. Faced with me or a 20 something hard body, who wouldn’t choose the 20 year old?” She looked hurt, like admitting that had cost her something. She went to her junk drawer and hauled out a picture. It was Jim in a tuxedo with his arm around his wife on one side and his other arm around a good looking blond, clearly at some work-related function. The girl was kind of pudgy like young girls are these days, but you could see the attraction.

“See? The bastard even introduced me.” She ripped the photo from my hands and jammed it in the drawer. “I should have just fucking torched the thing.” She stared away and couldn’t meet my eyes. Still fresh, then.

“Well, I have this theory …”, I began, as I got up to do the dishes, “I think that people reach a certain point in their lives, where they have to transition from looking for all the normal biological imperatives – fertility and its physical signs in youth – to being with their lover because they actually care about them as people. Even if Jim loved you as a young woman, he loved you at least partly because you represented fecundity to him just like he represented virility to you. As you both transition out of your child-bearing years, you both have to change perspective.”

“Holy cow, someone’s been into the sociology texts, again.”, Karen laughed out loud, sipping at her wine in between chuckles.

“No, seriously. Hear me out. There’s phases to life, which isn’t any kind of revelation, but the shift from one to the next is pretty hard and takes a lot of mental re-organization. Not everyone makes that shift. You did, clearly, but your husband didn’t. I think it’s a lot more common than we allow for.”

“Well, if my girlfriends are any indication, it’s an epidemic. canlı casino Some of them have gone so long without sex they have taken up with each other.”

I turned from the sink and cocked one of my eyebrows at her and she reddened to the core. Some, indeed.

“You think too much. Is it too much to as that for the duration of your visit we refer to my soon to be ex-husband as The Asshole?” I couldn’t really tell if she was serious, but her eyes were joking above the rim of her wine glass.

“I think I can accommodate you. I always thought his mustache was some 70’s porn relic, anyway.”, I quipped. She snorted, only just holding the wine in.

We retired to the living room with drinks, but it was too hot and so we ended up on the back deck. Karen’s place was huge, with a deck that had to be a 1/4 acre if anything, and I wandered around while we chatted looking at her cutting edge gas barbecue, her sauna and her hot tub. The Sun was still up, but was sinking into the waves, so everything had that orange gold look to it. In the light, I could see the fingerprints on the stainless steel of the barbecue.

“So, your wife didn’t cheat?”

“No, I think she just got tired of me. I can be a bit much to take. I like my alone time and not everyone is willing to give it to me. I probably should have talked more.”

“I think you converse just fine. You just don’t do it with your mouth. Ever see that old French black and white called La Dernier Combat?”

“What?”

“It’s a post apocalyptic film from the early 80s. I think it’s set after a nuclear war, but for some reason there’s not only no women, but the men you see can’t speak. The entire film is silent except for one scene where two characters use a gas to get a single word out: bonjour. If you watch that film, you can see how they talk with their bodies and faces. The plot is actually pretty easy to follow, even without dialog.”

“Sounds really interesting.”

“You even kind of look like the main character with that bit of a beard you’ve got.” She hesitated, then began again, “You know that the last time I saw you was when you had just graduated university? You’ve kind of come into your own. You used to be so gawky and moody, but now you just seem wiser than your years. You’ve filled out pretty good, too.”

I caught her eye and she winked, so I laughed.

“It must be pretty lonely here without anyone around …”

“I work all the time, so I’m never here. I took the day off to try and catch some time with Chloe, but you can see how well that worked.” She spread her arms to indicate the vast expanse of empty around her, “I can’t stand the echoes, so I stay at the studio. I’m doing documentaries, now, by the way. I’ve got a grant, so I’m on hiatus from the station.”

“Good for you. It sounds like fun.”

“Oh, it is a lot of fun. I’m covering 18th century prostitution in the Underground, in fact.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, why?”

“I read an article about it before coming and I wanted to make a point of going to see it. There’s supposed to be a tour or something.”

“You are NOT going on that stupid tour. Half of it is bullshit, anyway. The guy is a natural storyteller and exaggerates everything. I’ve got unlimited access, so I’ll take you tomorrow night if you want.”

“You can show me the real deal?”

“About as real as it gets.”

“I’m in.”

We talked like that for another hour or so until the Sun went down. The boats in the bay had their running lights on and I watched them criss cross the bay. Behind me, I could hear Karen get off her chaise and pull the cover off the hot tub. It was still pretty warm, so I wondered what she was up to. I looked over my shoulder and she was stripping down, right there in front of me. She realized I was looking at her and laughed.

“I don’t have the heater on. It will be warm, but it won’t be hot. I like to sit here in the dark, sometimes, and watch the ships. You’re welcome to come in if you want.”

“Uh …”

She rolled her eyes. “Remember that big cabin at the lake we used to go to? All us kids used to skinny dip together all the time. The cousins, the siblings, the second cousins. The place was a madhouse of kids, so no one cared. You didn’t have room or time to be shy, so you just changed where you could. Even your Mom did it. Besides, it’s nearly dark. No one is going to see you but me, and even I’ll only see a bunch of shadows.”

What I had seen hadn’t been shadows, so I knew she was lying a bit. All the same, the ride had been hot, especially when I had to stop at lights. Motorcycle gear is pretty protective, but you sweat like a dog. I turned and stripped off my t-shirt and wriggled my way out of my biking pants, my knees catching on the built in armor.

“Jesus, you look like Darth Vader in that stuff.”

“Got to protect this beautiful, fish-belly white body of mine.”

“It is beautiful. I like the undead look, myself.”

As I slid in, the water felt tepid at best and all the sweat in my kaçak casino crevices started to ebb off in the water. She was right: it was wonderful. I sat back and stared up at the stars for a while, just letting it all soak in.

“There’s a tanker going up to Vancouver. You can see it if you slide over here.”, She pointed out into the ocean where a giant black bulk of a ship slid past. Just as she pointed, the ship fired its horn, which echoed out into the night. I live in Chicago, so you don’t see too many ships. There’s a few that ride the great lakes, but nothing like an ocean-going tanker. I slid in next to her to see it, her body a wriggling white eel in the ripples. As I sat back down, she leaned her head sideways into my shoulder.

“I miss your Mom.”

“I miss her, too. When I moved, I didn’t really get to say goodbye. She’s pretty much all alone, now.”

“That seems to be the fate of the Burton women these days.”

“Mom’s gone to seed, though. I doubt she cares about anything anymore. Kind of a shame I inherited it because I’ll be a lousy old man. You, on the other hand, look fabulous. Living on the coast suits you.”

“Yeah, I thrive in the rain, I guess. I just have to watch not to work myself to death.”

It was the truth, too. She was still in pretty good shape. A tad bigger on the bottom than the last time I saw her, but then again, she was 42. She’d always been a tiny-breasted, tiny-hipped woman, so she had kind of filled out to curves. I’m average height at best, but I felt like a giant next to her. The top of her head was barely up to the tip of my shoulder. I glanced over and she was staring at me, her eyes huge in the darkness, just specks of light dancing in the larger black.

“What?”

“You are pale. Very. I can see almost your entire face in the darkness. In fact, I can almost see your whole body, too.” She glanced down, squarely into my crotch and I could feel the heat rise in my face. Against my will, my cock started to twitch. I fought to keep it down but it rose of its own volition and in a moment, I had a raging hard on.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that someone likes that his Aunt finds his body attractive.”

“I’m sorry. It was kind of involuntary.”

“God, it’s certainly not the only erection I’ve seen. Well, lately they’ve been in short supply, but at one time I saw quite a few of them. Besides, I’m kind of flattered in a way. Had I had known I had this kind of effect on you, I would have flirted more. I kind of like teasing like that.”

With that she dropped her tiny hand on my thigh. My cock throbbed, the chilling water more frankly cold on it than the rest of me. Each subtle shift in the current in the tub was like a tiny shock. She clenched her fingers, as if she was pulling her hand forward and she inched ever so slowly toward my dick.

“This,” she said, and tapped her fingers on my leg for emphasis, “is normal for me, but something tells me that your Mom didn’t tell you anything about what went on at the lake, right?”

“Huh? What went on at the lake?”, I said, my voice a bit shrill. I knew what she was aiming at, but I wanted to hear her say it. It was absurd and surreal at the same time, but I was excited all the same.

And with that, she put her hand around my cock, a tiny ring of cold fingers against the heat. My breath caught in my throat.

“Think about it.”, she whispered, “There were nearly thirty of us, all roughly the same age. Our parents were all constantly drunk and we more or less knew they were all sleeping with each other. Hell, your Mom’s father isn’t your Grandpa, it’s his best friend. Why do you think Grandpa treated her so poorly? He didn’t like that she wasn’t his own.”

“You are blowing my mind, Aunt Karen. I’m thirty freaking years old and I’m just finding this out, now?”

“I told your Mom to tell you. She insisted that it be kept secret, though. I think she was more than a bit ashamed.”

“No kidding. Aren’t you?” The ring moved down, pulling the skin of my cock tight. A thrill of pleasure ran back into my spine.

“We were just kids, but if those summers taught me anything it’s that alcoholism sucks and that you take your pleasure where you can get it when you are the children of a bunch of drunks. As long as there’s no repercussions, it’s all just sex. It wasn’t like there was anyone else for us to do it with, because the entire lake was nearly all related to us. It’s the only avenue we had.”

Just as I tried to answer that almost everyone else in the world just fantasized and jerked off, she rolled her fist up, engulfing the tip of my cock, her thumb swirling the hole. I gasped.

“Holy shit. This is nuts.”, I stammered.

“But it feels good, doesn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Then shut up. The whole world is nuts. If you want me to stop, though, just say the word. I’ll be honest, though. I don’t want to you stop me.”

She hesitated, but when I didn’t answer immediately, she started to jerk me off, frankly, with a kind of rolling motion in her hand, rotating it around my cock. She couldn’t quite get her hand around it and the idea that this tiny little ring that felt so good was her hand kind of thrilled me. The sheer rawness of it all engulfed me.

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