www.sigriddaughter.com, is poet laureate of Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), USA. Her work has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and poetry awards. Books out in 2018 are Xanthippe and Her Friends (FutureCycle Press) and Postcards to a Young Unicorn (Salador Press).
“Galen! When are you finally gonna come out?"
The girl sounds petulant. Bougainvillea blossoms dance behind her slender body posed on the deck by his swimming pool. Hibiscus would have suited her, too. She wears a pale green pareo around her velvet-skinned hips. Not a goddess, but close. Young. Peach-faced. What will she do later on in life? Say twenty-nine, thirty? Critical years for her type. Will she turn bitter or bitch? And is there a difference?
Galen looks down again at his attorney’s letter in his hands. Opinion is the proper term, committing nobody to anything in a profusion of multi-syllabic words. A dozen pages, all stating the same thing in different nuances of obfuscation.
“Be there in a minute, Darling,” he shouts back to the girl at the pool.
“Darlene?" An outraged cry.
“No, I said ‘Darling’." He chuckles. Despite his freckled reputation, he is still capable of distinguishing Darlene, who happened to have originally introduced the two of them, from Sonya who is currently poised out there to please him, and to collect her reward, like a sea lion awaiting performance and fish. He watches her scratch her head without being aware that he is watching her. Then she shrugs her shoulders, turns her back to him and dives in a magnificent arc into the deep end of the pool.
He winces, turns from the open doorway, puts the letter on top of his otherwise cleared desk, and pours himself two fingers of whiskey, which he downs in a single gulp. He pours the same amount once again and drinks that down more slowly. What is the point of drinking expensive whiskey when you don’t take the time to savor it? The operative part of the question is, what is the point. Period.
He turns to the terrace door again, then wills his muscles, weight training enhanced, except that nothing has so far mastered his somewhat jutting stomach, to carry him outside and to the edge of the pool. It smells strongly of chlorine.
“How’s the water, Sweetheart?"
“Wonderful! Coming in?"
She is all enthusiastic mermaid once again.
“Not yet,” he says. “I’ll watch you and lie here in the sun and wait until I can’t stand it anymore. Until I have to jump in.”
“I just want to get nice and hot in the sun first.”
“You’re already nice and hot," she says. "Permanently, I mean.”
She produces her trademark look, sweet angel with wicked intent, that had intrigued him in the first place. He’s never seen anything quite like that look before. But of course women are so many-faceted and many-faced. Now she pushes herself up onto the side of the pool with two strong arms and raises her legs onto the concrete with the slow power of an accomplished gymnast.
“Wow." He sits up.
Her lush lips press together and she rolls her eyes. He can tell, though, she is pleased that he has noticed her balletic strength. Pearls of water still drip over hazelnut skin as she sits cross-legged in front of him, placing her arms on his knees and resting her chin on them.
“What’s the matter with you?" Her clear blue eyes look intently into his with the nonchalant challenge of youth. Twenty-three, per her driver’s license. To him she seems even younger. Parts of him wish his role in life were to protect her rather than fuck her. Who wouldn’t want to protect anything so young and delicate? Nearly thirty years his junior.
“What do you mean, ‘what’s the matter with me’?” he asks.
“You’re working too hard? Or what? What exactly were you doing in there for hours on end? It’s the weekend, you know.”
“I know. I was reading some stuff from my attorney.”
“Oh God." She rolls her eyes again. “And what does he have to say?"
“She says I ought to have folks sign a release now before they can go into my pool. You’re possibly the last exception. Imagine that? The last free-spirit swimmer in Galen’s pool?”
“What?” she asks. “Why?”
“A while back I had a party. Some clown decided to deliberately hurt himself by jumping into the pool head first at the low end. Then he sued me. So now I may have to follow lawyer’s orders. Prophylactic measures and so forth.”
“Prophylactic. It means preventive.”
“Oh wow." Sonya’s forehead shifts into a sorrowful baby frown. She starts massaging his knees, then casually lets her hands wander further toward center, up along his thighs.
Isn’t she going to ask him who won the lawsuit? Apparently not. The more he deals with her, the more vacant she seems. Not necessarily her fault. She’s merely gone to college, and nobody has yet bothered to train her for life. What will become of her? He touches her hair, heavy and wet still, then he lets his hand wander to her cheek.
Her eyes relax into a relieved flirtatious look. “You haven’t kissed me in at least an hour,” she says.
True. Sadly he shoves all personal tenderness back somewhere deep down into his psyche, the wonder about who she is, where she came from, where she will go. It is irrelevant. A man’s life is really very simple, as one women he thought he had loved had once pointed out to him. Then he had lost track of her, for once through no fault of his own that he knew of. Yes, such simplicity. He ought to be romancing Sonya, not just hold still while she seduces him with her bubble gum sophistication.
He meets her lips with his, then parts them with his experienced tongue. She closes her eyes, then opens them again to look at him with her still fresh wonder at physical sensations. Nice, yes? He slides his hand along the side of her slender body, still slick with water, down to her hip, around the back, then forward again, across her thighs, between her thighs.
“I’m hot,” she says. “Let’s go inside?”
“You are hot, Peach Blossom." He scoops her up in expert arms. She giggles.
“Do people do that to you a lot? Sue you?” she asks with belated compassion in her pensive face as she drips water from her lovely hair onto his lovely, costly carpet.
“Quite a bit,” he says. “But not to worry. I have lots of money and lots of attorneys. Even after everybody snatches at what they think is their piece of my pie, I’ll still have lots.”
She gives him a wounded deer look. “People can be real shits.”
“And that’s an understatement." He smiles at her solemn face and touches her button nose.
“Do you think I’m here just because of your money?” she asks.
“I don’t know, Flowerface. Does it matter?”
“Of course it matters." She pouts.
“I’m not sure it does.”
“Really." He puts her on her own two feet beside his huge bed. “Look at the lovely view out there,” he says. “Sometimes, in the evening, you get to see deer graze in the clearing."
He nuzzles her neck with a feathery touch of his lips. Simplicity, he reminds himself. But sadness drapes around him and won’t let go. He tries to inhale the silk seduction of her hair. She turns to him abruptly, huge solemn eyes wide open, and her lush lips relax into an half-open look of devotion.
“You’re wonderful!” she exclaims and presses herself against the responsive length of his body.
He holds her tightly to his chest and strokes her wet hair scented with chlorine and citrus shampoo and sunshine. Would money and wonder ever be enough?