I’ve been taking a break from writing erotic fiction for a little while, as I’ve been finishing off some non-erotic writing projects and other stuff. Next I thought I’d write a series of stories of encounters inspired by events that have taken place over the years I’ve lived in SoCal and traveled around the country. Some of these may have happened as described, others may have happened somewhat differently from how I narrate them, and others took place only in my vivid imagination. Rest assured that when an actual encounter is the subject of a story, some details may have been changed either to protect the innocent, or to make the story more interesting. Nonetheless, I hope they are all enjoyable to the reader.
I live in a guard-gated master planned community, one of these that depending on your viewpoint may be described as the epitome of success and wealth, or the worst housing community concept ever created. I suppose I fall somewhere in between; ideally I would live out on the countryside, on a huge lot with lots of privacy, but unfortunately those properties are not as good investments as houses in the guard-gated communities, and the latter are far superior to the tract home developments that fill up most of Southern California.
I live at the end of a very short cul-de-sac, only six houses in total on the street, and the only traffic is the mail man, the neighbors and our kids. Idyllic and at the same time insanely boring. In this particular cul-de-sac, the families all seem to have two kids each, the husbands drive to work in their fancy European high performance luxury cars, while the wives stay at home tending to the house and the kids. The wives are generally younger than their husbands; they spend their days shopping and cooking organic food while wearing exercise clothes (I think this may be a SoCal thing) and sipping white wine. They look generally very nice, fit and healthy, always wearing full make-up and perfect hair for every trip to the local Whole Foods or to pick up or drop off the kids. I’ve often thought of them as the Stepford Wives, perfect clones of what men would generally consider to be the perfect, submissive wife.
When you live in the same community for years, you start learning a lot about your neighbors, for example that not all households are the harmonious little havens of domestic tranquility that they are projected to be, and some households engage in the illicit use of recreational drugs after the kids are put to bed at night. I sometimes enjoy my nightly glass of wine in my back yard, with the faint smell of marijuana drifting in from the neighbor’s back yard, while from across the street I can hear a couple argue loudly, sometimes accompanied by the sound of broken glass or other fragile items, their kids most definitely not getting a restful night’s sleep. We don’t typically socialize, me, my wife and our neighbors, apart for the obligatory greetings and some friendly words when bumping into each other outside of the community.
This story begins, as most of them do, with alcohol. A couple of times a year the families inhabiting this little cul-de-sac gather for a barbecue right in the middle of our little paved circle, where we rent a bouncing tent for the kids and bring in plenty of booze for the adults. I am typically the grill master by virtue of once having worked as a cook, and generally being able to better control (or at least tolerate) my drinking early in the evening. We collectively own an old-fashioned Weber grill that I fire up with mesquite coal, and then cook sirloin that has been marinating for 24 hours after which it’s basted with my secret barbecue sauce. The kids get burgers and hot dogs, and a jolly good time is generally had by all.
A tradition has developed over the past few years, when the neighbor’s wife from across the street becomes my sous-chef for the evening. Claire, as I can assure you her name is not, makes potato dishes, mac and cheese and salad in her kitchen at home, and then helps with the basting, turning and plating for the main event. She is probably ten years younger than both me and her husband, with a pretty face framed by shoulder-length blond hair that she typically carries in a pony tail. She is slim, but with some nice curves in the right places, which are accentuated by the workout clothes she always wears. For the barbecue, she has put on a light knee-long dress with a floral pattern, which is very complimentary of her curves, slim calves and ankles.
While waiting for the coal to attain the proper temperature and glow, I sample the potato salad and mac and cheese, and duly compliment Claire. As always these dishes are well balanced and seasoned, and she has taken the time to prepare both from scratch. I again remind her that I want her mac and cheese recipe, and she again promises to give it to me as soon as I share the recipe of the secret barbecue sauce. This too has become a tradition, as for some reason we never get around to exchange güvenilir bahis recipes. I don’t typically eat mac and cheese (and can cook a pretty good one if I have to), and we simply don’t see each other all that much during the week although we are next door neighbors.
The sunset turns to night, and finally the coal is displaying a satisfying orange glow. I’m probably on my third glass of wine by now, a rare occurrence other than on the barbecue nights and other special occasions, and Claire and I are bantering back and forth as we’re grilling the meat for the main dishes. Meanwhile, Claire’s husband is completely ignoring us, tossing back the beer with reckless abandon while loudly speaking about his important lawyer job. Judging from Claire’s facial expression she is not impressed with the monologue, and in combination with the late night arguing it is fair to assume that not all is well in that particular household, though I am not yet drunk enough to try to find out what is wrong. Meanwhile, my wife is staying as far away from him as possible, talking to another couple about something which I’m sure is both unimportant and uninteresting. That’s the unfortunate life I’ve chosen to live, with the sweetest partner as can be, who unfortunately turned out to be a little too shallow and uninterested in matters that are not the subject of a reality TV show or headline items on E!
After the meat has been properly cooked and is resting, I put on the burgers and hot dogs on the grill. In a careless moment I let the back of my hand contact the red hot back splash of the grill and end up with a large red mark that will become a second degree burn by the end of the night unless immediately and properly cared for. I let Claire know what happened and that I need to hold my hand under running water for a while to temper the effects of the burn. She sends me home and takes over the kiddie-cooking duties, something she professes to be quite capable of handling. I am tempted to make a sexist joke about how a man must always be in charge of the grill, but think better of it. One burn is bad enough for any night.
When working in a kitchen you are told of the importance to immediately flush a burn with cool running water for several minutes, to minimize the tissue damage. I’m in incredible pain even after having flushed for well over 10 minutes, and am looking around for something with a local anesthetic when Claire comes walking in. I am surprised as I thought my wife would be the first to have some concerns for me, but if her conversation partners are interesting enough she would be oblivious to my whereabouts at an event like this.
“Are you alright, I was getting worried?”
“Sure, just annoyed at my clumsiness. This is a 7.2 on the fuck-up scale.”
“Let me take a look.” She grabs my hand from under the faucet and looks at it. “My God, you should have a doctor take a look at it.”
“No worries, I’ll be alright if I can just flush it for a while longer. Doctors are for wimps and are always looking for a reason to amputate. I may need some painkillers to fall asleep, though.”
“You look pretty wimpy standing there.” She smiles. “Where do you keep the painkillers?”
“In the cabinet over there” I indicate with my head.
She takes out a bottle of Advil and looks at it. “This looks old. I think it has expired.”
“That’s alright, so have I. We’ll be perfect for each other. Besides, the effect is synergistic if swallowed with red wine.”
“Lots of effects are synergistic with alcohol” she observes, looking somber. Somehow I don’t think she was meaning it as a double entendre.
“Something you want to talk about?” I ask.
“We’ve been having some trouble at home. Nothing I want to bother you with tonight.”
“That’s OK, it distracts me from the pain.” I don’t know why I pushed her for the information as I typically try to stay out of people’s personal lives. Perhaps I was just curious to learn more about our neighbors.
“Rick is having some problems at work, and has started to drink a lot more now. The stress is changing him for the worse, he doesn’t have any patience with me or the kids, and when he’s been drinking he becomes angry very easily and starts to argue, yell throw stuff. It scares me a little, because he never used to be like that.”
“How about counseling?” I ask.
“I could never make him go, because he would never admit there is something wrong. He is too proud to admit there is a problem because he is the problem, and so he will not be able to fix it. I’ve tried to convince him that I can go back to work. I used to be an interior decorator before I met Rick, and now with Ben and Jerry in school full time I can start working again. Take the pressure off him as the sole financial provider.” No, seriously they didn’t name their kids Ben and Jerry – I just thought that name combination sounded, well, cool.
“That sounds like a great suggestion. You could even set up your own türkçe bahis company and work from home. That way you don’t have to get out in traffic every day unless you have to visit a client.”
“Well, Rick doesn’t think it sounds too great. The same pride again will not let him fail as the sole bread winner. It’s not like I even have a choice in the matter, he will not let me work!”
That does sound completely alien to me, as I would love for my wife to work. Not because we need the money, but because it would send her out in the real world and get interested in real things.
I pat my hand dry and put some aloe balm on the burned area. “Well, it sounds like you have a decision to make. Either you continue to take orders, or you put your foot down and demand a change. Part of the reason women suffer through bad marriages is because they have no proper education, career or means to support themselves outside of the family. That’s not the case with you. You have the opportunity to make your own life and pursue your own happiness. Once Rick understands that he may be far more amenable to changing his behavior.”
She looks at me for a long time and I’m afraid I’ve gone too far. Suddenly she steps towards me and gives me a big hug.
“Thank you. I’ve been going back and forth on this for a long time now, and you’re right. I must be independent and assertive in making Rick change. If I stay the same this will all spiral out of control. I have to be able to stand on my own two feet if things fall apart.”
We walk out and re-join the barbecue gang. The volume has increased considerably, and I’m not surprised that no one seems to have noticed that we were gone for close to half an hour. I grab one of the few remaining steaks which is cold and horribly overcooked by now, and join my wife. I am told something fantastic – Dash and Kate’s cousin is a high end real estate agent in Florida and has been invited to the Kardashian wedding! I can barely contain my excitement as I chew on the cold, overcooked steak, trying to ignore the pain in my hand.
* * *
A few weeks later I am in my front yard pruning roses when Cheryl drives by. I wave at her and she pulls up outside the house.
“Hi there, how are you?” she exclaims.
“Great, how have you been? I haven’t seen you since the party.”
“I’ve been really busy. Guess what, the day after the party I decided to do exactly what you told me. I am setting up my own interior design company. I will work from home, and if I ever have enough business I may rent some office space somewhere. I have the company registered, and I’ve been working like crazy on the web page and some printed marketing materials. Once that’s all done I will go door to door in the local real estate community just promoting the hell out of myself.”
She seems like a completely different woman, fully of energy and finally free of the surly bonds of an oppressive married life. I’m not asking about Rick and she is not mentioning him. He probably knows and strongly disapproves.
“Listen, would you mind taking a look at my website and give me your thoughts? Whenever you have some time. I’d really appreciate it!”
“Of course, it will be my pleasure.” I don’t know anything about webpage design or the interior decorator industry, but I’m sure I can give her some common sense feedback. I give her my email address and she promises to mail it the very same day.
The next morning, after my wife has gone on one of her all day Sunday brunch/shopping sprees with the Mensa candidates she calls friends, I log into my email and find the message from Claire, with a link and password to the website. The site is clearly amateur built, with basic functionality and layout, but nothing that screams “professional designer.” The biggest problem is the pictures – examples of interior design work is represented by what appears to be stock photos, and on Claire’s bio page is a photo of her that looks horrible, perhaps taken with a cell phone camera. Fifteen minutes later I send her an email with my notes, and less than two minutes after that I can see her running across the cul-de-sac towards my house. I note that this is probably the first time I’ve actually seen her run while wearing exercise clothes. I open the door before she gets there.
“Was it really all that terrible?”
“Not terrible at all. I liked most of what you had written. But you seriously need to pay some kid at UCSD fifty bucks to make it look professional. And you need better pictures throughout.”
“But how can I get pictures? I haven’t designed anything yet. I don’t have anything from back when I used to work.”
“Didn’t you design the house you live in now?”
“Duh! Yes of course, how could I forget about that. But I only have a cell phone camera, will that work.”
“No. Consider getting it professionally photographed. First impressions and all that.”
“I really don’t have the money for that…I’m doing this on a shoestring güvenilir bahis siteleri budget until I can get some work and income from it.”
“Alright, then why don’t you borrow my camera? I have a kick-ass Konica with all the latest bells and whistles. Hang on.” I run to the garage and get out my camera bag. I take out the camera and check that there is still plenty of battery life left, and then start explaining the various settings and how she needs to position it for best effects for light, exposure times and so forth.
“Can you help me? Please.” She looks desperate. It is a complicated piece of machinery, and for someone who is only using a cell phone I can see it is intimidating.
“Sure. Let me know when is a good time for you. During the morning would be best to maximize the natural light.”
“How about now?”
She is really eager to get this thing on the road. “OK I can do that. You want to check with Rick first?”
“Rick is out of town. He’s been staying away a lot since I told him of my decision. He thinks it’s punishing me. It’s actually kind of nice. Quiet.” She smiles again. “Come on.”
I grab my bag and head over to her house. I recall being in there when they first moved in to the neighborhood and had everybody over, but I did not remember how nice it looked inside with all the accentuating elements and colors she had brought to the place. I immediately decide that I will not only be her website consultant but also her first client.
We spend the next hour walking around the bottom floor, when she’s pointing out little design features, and I’m positioning the camera and flash and happily shooting away. At one point she is standing next to a huge vase explaining something when I tell her to stand still and smile, and I take a picture of her next to the vase. The background is white, which nicely contrasts with the curves clad in black spandex.
“What did you do that for?”
“Because I thought it looked nice…you looked nice. And besides, you need a picture of yourself for the bio page.”
“Dressed like this?” She looks down on her running attire, complete with sneakers.
“Probably not, something professional, a light blouse with a dark jacket. It will be upper body only, so no need to put on anything else.” We both smile as the double meaning hits us simultaneously.
“I have that! Do you want me to change? Where should we take it?”
“Go change, I’ll think about the best place to take it.” She runs off and I begin walking around the house finding the best background. I settle on a plan white wall in the dining room, or a book case in her husband’s study. She comes down dressed in a conservative blouse and black jacket. We try the dining room first, but it looks too strict, too clinical. I suggest she take the hair out of the ponytail as it makes her look a little like a school principal. She runs away again to fix her hair, and as expected that takes quite a while. She looks a lot better with the blond hair on her shoulders, and I joke about her qualities as a model. She is giddy like a little school girl thinking this is really a lot of fun.
We next move to the study and take another few pictures of her in front of the book case. We both agree they are terrible as she looks just like a stiff lawyer and that’s a whole lot worse than a school principal. I’m still not happy with the personal portion of the website, and suggest that we take some additional casual pictures of her in the back yard, living room and so on to show her more human side. She agrees with this too, and for the third time runs up the stairs to change. This time she completely changes her outfit and comes down wearing a thin cotton blouse casually tucked into a pair of jeans. I think she looks absolutely spectacular.
We start off in her back yard with a few pictures of her with a garden clipper in her hand, the water hose, or just playing with her dog in front of the house. She is smiling the whole time and is very relaxed about being a model. We next move into the living room, and I have her sit down in the sofa while I set up the flash and tripod.
“Have you ever modeled before?”
She laughs. “No. Why?”
“You’re a natural. That’s why. Very relaxed, very photogenic.”
“Thank you! Have you ever been a photographer before?”
“I took classes in college. After college I was also shooting some models, trying to build a portfolio, get into the business. But nothing came of that, whereas the business I started really took off.”
“What kind of portfolio were you trying to build?”
“Fashion. Artsy. Erotic. I tried a lot of things. I guess I didn’t have the talent.”
“Erotic?” She is smiling now.
“Of course. It’s important to get exposed to as many fields as possible. Though the act of photographing a nude model is not very erotic in and of itself, it’s very clinical.”
“It sounds pretty erotic to me…”
“I suppose the model’s perspective may be different. Just let me know if you ever want to try.” We smile at each other, as the silence fills the room. She’s actually thinking about it. I take a few pictures of her on the couch, smiling, leaning her face against her palm, looking seductive.