… and now the thrilling conclusion! If you’re just now joining us you can read about my middle-school church crush (and how “crush” really is a perfect word) in Part One, and then how many years later I ended up in the hospital and that same gal walked into my room and my life Part Two. Read on if you want to know where things ended up.
I’m half convinced I made some drunken wish on a monkey’s paw about women and dating. Because if you haven’t noticed a running theme around here, is that I’ve been blessed with what might be called “extreme luck.” When it comes to the ladies, it seems like incredible fortune just drops in my lap—immediately followed by an M. Night-style twist and laughter from the studio audience of the damned.
My time with Jessica is a great example of this phenomenon. She was once the girl of my pimply-faced dreams, forever out of reach. While I can’t call what I witnessed through a church window “heartbreak,” it was a moment that scorched my innocence and squeezed my heart like a vice. It showed me something I couldn’t even properly imagine at thirteen until I saw it with my own eyes, and it disgusts me to admit it served as fuel for my own self-pleasuring fantasies, then self-hatred for it afterward. Years went on and I got past all the stupid emotions I had unfairly placed on her when she didn’t even know my real name. Then I got hurt and sick and she literally walked into my room just to see me, because suddenly, for some reason, she cared.
Then the curse kicks in. Fuck you, handless-monkey.
I had a girlfriend.
Still laid up in a hospital bed, two different industrial-strength antibiotics working in tandem to save my infected leg. The treatment was working as slowly as the infection had spread, but the fevers had stopped and the pain and swelling were not nearly so bad. I was impatient to get the hell out of those four walls that had been my entire world for weeks.
And I had a girlfriend.
I had books to read and actual edible food to eat—fuck my doctor’s “heart-healthy diet”—and some movies worth watching that I could play on my laptop. A Dollar Tree balloon with a cartoon frog making a kissy-face floated in the corner above a brightly-colored potted flower arrangement. Outside the window enormous air conditioners leftover from the Carter administration groaned and complained. My toes were reddish and puffed up like disgusting Vienna Sausages with grossly-long nails that I was forbidden to trim. The shower in the bathroom constantly dripped.
How the fuck did I have a girlfriend?
It was never discussed. One day I was laying in bed pondering if I should get an eyepatch and parrot to complement my peg-leg, the next I had twice-daily visits from a still-gorgeous woman who somehow learned my name in the intervening years. She brought me things I didn’t ask for, fussed over me like a mother—way more than my actual mother ever did—and gave me increasingly interesting kisses. For the first few days I was afraid to question it directly, as if that would break the spell. But I’m not known for keeping my mouth shut.
It was Day Four of living in this Bizarro Universe where I had an attentive lady in my life. “So … to what do I owe the honor of all … this?” I did everything in my power not to stare at her breasts when I said that last word, and I think I succeeded.
“Silly man,” Jess said, apparently my first pet name in our new relationship. She called me that a lot. “You were stuck in here like it was a prison cell. You needed food and decent coffee—”
“No, I don’t mean the stuff.” I gave her hand a squeeze. I got to hold hands with a woman, you guys. Make fun of me all you want, but that is more reassuring and comforting to a mostly lonely person than you might guess. “I mean you’ve been coming to visit me twice a day and helping me shower and kissing me and we haven’t talked in pretty much forever. It’s like, I can’t even … I don’t know what this is.” I squeezed her hand again and smiled weakly. Sometimes you just gotta admit that you don’t know what the hell is going on.
Jess removed her hand from mine and her eyebrows furrowed. Without another word she picked up her phone and began swiping and tapping. That moment decided to last forever, me feeling awkward and pathetic stuck in that bed while she fucked around with her damn phone. Her lips spread into a wide smile as she set it down on my rolling bedside tray. They were stained the color of raspberries by some product that left them delicious as well.
My phone beeped an alert. Facebook again, asking me to approve or reject something I was tagged in. I quickly tapped the Approve button and set my phone back down.
“See? It’s officially my job to take care of you.” Manicured fingernails stroked my beard.
As someone who can never keep his mouth shut, this woman had a habit of leaving me speechless. I just smiled, stupidly. She kissed me again, but this time didn’t pull away. This kiss wasn’t sweet, it was hot. Her mouth opened, her tongue teased mine, her breath in my mouth and the top half of her body pressed against me. The kiss continued and one of her hands was cradling my neck and the other on my chest as if she wanted to feel my pounding heart.
“And you need to be taken care of, don’t you?” She said the words without pulling away, her mouth still against mine and her hand slid from her chest to my stomach.
“Mmm,” was the best I could manage. Goddamn I’m a smooth player.
The hand continued its descent until it found what it was looking for. I didn’t mean to gasp, but even realizing where she was aiming I managed to be surprised.
I could feel her smile with my mouth. “A lot of you to take care of,” she said. All I could do was breathe as her hand worked under the blanket, pulling my flimsy gown up and out of the way and worked the object of her attention out through the fly of my boxers. My leg suddenly wasn’t the only thing incredibly swollen.
“Aren’t you glad it’s my job to take care of you?” Her face was still pressed against mine, and her hand was stroking rhythmically.
“Mmmhmm,” I said. (See? Smooth.)
My breathing got faster in time with her squeezing fist and her probing tongue in my mouth. I was a few seconds away from exploding all over her hand and my shitty hospital blanket and I didn’t care about anything at that moment. Fuck Calgon—hand job take me away!
A knock announced the presence of my day nurse, who like most in her profession knocked and opened then the door less than a second later. Jess pulled away from me and sat up straight, folder her hands into her lap. The tissue-thin blanket dropped back down over my ridiculous erection, the nurse’s eyes instantly fixed on the tent on full display.
I can’t recall her name, but she was a middle-age black lady who seemed incapable of surprise. “Well now,” she said, and though I was staring fixedly out the window I could hear the smirk. “Do I need to come back in a few minutes?”
“No, you can come on in,” Jess said. “I was just leaving anyway.” Her lips pecked my forehead and I heard her leave the room while I stared at a cloud that was definitely shaped like two dogs humping. Normally mortal embarrassment is a boner-killer, but my equipment stayed in full ready move for several awkward minutes while my nurse checked my IV pump and took my vital signs. To her credit she didn’t so much as chuckle. God knows what this woman has walked in on over the years.
As the blood slowly receded from my face and my cock, I grabbed my phone and saw several Likes on the latest piece of Facebook news from yours truly.
Ed is in a relationship with Jessica.
I had a girlfriend.
A few days later I was out of the hospital and back on my feet. My leg and foot still hurt a bit, so I walked with an awkward shuffle. No way I could handle the motorcycle and I was on some lovely narcotics, so I was hitching rides and mostly staying home. I tried to catch up on overdue freelance projects and gave my roommate some overdue attention.
And speaking of attention, I was getting a lot of it. Jess was employed full-time and a single mother, so we never got long stretches of time with each other, something I totally understood and let her know that she didn’t have to clean my trailer or walk my dog or cook me meals or …
Okay, I was never going to complain about her sexually servicing me. I was still recovering and she devoted herself to my needs and ignored her own. That meant blowjobs, once or twice a day depending on her schedule, and that kept going on for just over a week of my recovery at home. I learned the particular angle of her smile and gleam in her eyes that said “I am going to suck your cock,” and it only took two days for that smile to trigger a Pavlovian response.
And that girl knew what she was doing. She kissed me and removed clothes until we were both bare-chested, and unlike most things you wait decades to enjoy her breasts were every bit as magnificent as I might have guessed. She knew damn good and well the power they held, and she encouraged me to touch, hold, and fondle them before putting them in my mouth and squealing with delight as I rolled my tongue around her puffy nipples. There was a beautiful dance that oscillated between playful and intense until I was sliding between her perfect lips, Jess using hand and tongue to ramp up the energy and let if fall just enough to prolong the exquisite sensations. She kept her eyes on mine most of the time, an almost pleading expression on her face when she wanted me to release, and when I did she swallowed me down and said “Mmmm” like she’d just finished a perfect creme brûlée.
I was beyond spoiled.
Though she never had as much time as I hoped for, once I convinced her that she had helped more than needed—and didn’t have to do anything! I told her repeatedly that I was just happy to see her—we cuddled and talked or watched a half hour of some bullshit show on my basic cable package.
It took at least seven orally induced orgasms to work up the courage to bring up the past at all. “If only Jack could see us now.” We were cuddling on my hand-me down sofa and I was basking in the fading euphoria of being “taken care of” just minutes before. On the floor my roommate stared directly at the front door as if she could open it with her mind.
The question was weird enough that Jess pulled away and gave me a puzzled look.
“Jack,” I verbally nudged. “That’s what you used to call me back at the old church.”
“Jack? What?” She clearly had no idea.
Wait, did she even remember me from— “Remember? We used to be in youth group together.”
“I know that, silly man. I mean … Did I really? Jack?”
“Swear to Dog.” My roommate lifted her head but didn’t look at me. (She rarely does when I’m naked for some reason.) “Been waiting decades to find out. Was there someone named Jack? Did you get the two of us confused?”
Only nervous laughter. “I really have no idea. Oh my word, I’m so stupid.”
“Gimme a break, you’re not stupid. I was just—”
It was like the temperature in the room changed, drastically, in between ticks of my old G.I. Joe wall clock.
“Ed,” she said my name forcefully. “I am so, so sorry. I can’t believe I called you a stupid name like Jack.”
To this day I have no idea who the real Jack might be, or if there ever was one besides me. I had my hands on her arms, but gently as if I might break her. “You don’t have to apologize. It’s no big—”
“Just tell me you forgive me!” She buried her face in my chest, and after a moment I could feel warm wet drops slide down toward my stomach. “I’ll make it up to you.”
“Sure,” I said, stroking her hair. I was afraid to say anything else, so I just held her for a while. Took some time to work up the courage to even mention the past again.
Thing about the past is that it usually won’t leave us the fuck alone.
I got better. Life got more normal as I caught up on freelance work and made my triumphant return to the bar as Ed the Barely-Limping Bouncer. Jess and I had a few dates like a normal couple—movie, dinner, that kind of thing. And I deliberately picked her up and dropped her back at her place with a kiss at the door because I knew she wasn’t going to invite me inside when her son was home.
It was important for me to let her know that whatever our new relationship was, it wasn’t her job for her to clean my place and go down on me. That I appreciated her for who she was, even if I was learning just who that was after we’d been a Facebook-official couple for just a few weeks.
That thing where she cried for no apparent reason? It happened semi-regularly. If she thought for a moment she did something wrong, tears welled up in her eyes. The same if something made her mad. Certain emotions triggered the tears, even though she was clearly trying to push them back.
I’m not one to judge someone for emotional displays. Remember back in the hospital I cried like a toddler with a skinned knee. But there was something strange and awkward about this involuntary response to certain emotions that I couldn’t pin down. These days there is a word (often overused) that explains it better: triggered.
Jess never cursed, making me self-conscious of my mothercunting shitbag filthy mouth. And while she never went to Annie Wilkes levels of baby talk to avoid saying “fuck” like a normal person, it was sometimes weird to hear a woman yell “Golnabbit jeezum crow!” when she stubbed her toe. It was like the universe had given me a gender-flipped Ned Flanders with an oral fixation.
Speaking of which, the euphemisms extended to her attitude toward servicing my manly needs. She never even used the word “sex” or directly named body parts, it was always “taking care of you” or “making you happy.” While I found her incredibly hot—even a few years older than me and several pounds over what assholes would call a “healthy weight”—and was very good at it, I could tell she viewed it as her girlfriendly duty. She wanted to please me, wanted me to reassure her that she was making me happy. And despite my gentlemanly attempts to include some dates that didn’t end with her blowing me, she made it clear that she didn’t feel it properly ended unless I went to sleep limp and spent from her “making me happy.”
Pretty stupid thing to complain about, right? That’s what I told myself, though goddammit I was healed and were going to graduate from one-sided oral to some straight-up fucking like grownups. Though I couldn’t call it that because I was kind of afraid to drop an F-bomb in her presence lest she burst into flames.
So on our fourth actual date she assured me that she could come back to my place and stay late.
“Why don’t you just spend the night?” I asked.
“I can’t do that!” She laughed like I’d just suggested we fly my Jeep to the moon.
We got comfortable and things heated up inside, and after weeks together I was finally going to get her bottoms off for the first time. Half our clothes were on the floor and we were making out on the couch and she began the now-familiar ritual of her mouth on my cock, when I gently pushed her back. “Let’s go in the bedroom.” I took her by the hand and led her to my sturdy Queen-size sitting on its rusty metal frame.
Things proceeded, and she did not object when I unbuttoned her pants and pulled off her slacks, nor when my hand reached inside her panties. I think she barked a nervous giggle, but otherwise seemed pleased with how things were going. I slid the sheer pink fabric down her thighs and past her ankles.
I kissed my way down her neck, chest, and stomach and prepared to show off my own highly-praised oral skills, but she grabbed the side of my face. “I don’t want you to do that.” She had a funny look in her eyes, and I wasn’t about to argue the point. I made my way back up to kiss her mouth again, and after a moment she slowly rolled over onto her stomach, then raised up into a half-bent over position. She was presenting, wanted to do it like they do on the Discovery Channel (even if I didn’t have it on my cheap cable package). My job was clear, to oblige the lady and begin as she preferred.
She felt amazing, and as I slid inside her she gave an “Ooooh” that was half pleasure, half surprise. Those extra pounds that some people might call a turn-off had the opposite effect on me, as the extra jiggle as we moved with and against each other was a treat for my eyes.
“Yes,” she cooed as I gripped her hips tighter and thrust a bit faster. I was in my midgame, trying to keep my breathing steady because this was something I had wanted from back before I knew exactly how sex worked. Jess was imperfect—but who isn’t?— and her curvy ass was a moving work of art haloed by light that spilled in from my bedroom window as I fucked her from behind. She was almost panting.
“Yes! Oh yes, God!”
Somehow through the incredible sensations and thrusting and my own beating heart, a bell rang in mind. A church bell. I ignored it, and began moving faster and harder. She seemed to absolutely love what I was doing.
“Oh, oh God yes God yes!” Bent over and ass thrust out so I wouldn’t see her face, she was holding onto my bed frame for support. In my head, the bell rang louder, something was wrong. With me, with her, with this. I was instantly queasy, a feeling in my stomach that took me back decades. I lost my momentum and pulled away, fell back onto the bed.
We both were gasping, but she didn’t move, though her head tilted to the side like a puzzled dog. She waited in that position as still as hobby horse, waiting for me to resume.
I didn’t. I just sat there and my enthusiasm wilted in seconds.
When she realized that it was somehow over, Jess let go of the bed frame and rolled over into a sitting position, facing me, and awkwardly covered herself with her arms, even the parts she’d freely let me see dozens of times before. In the dim light I could see mascara streaks down her face and see wet trails on her neck. She must have been crying the entire time. “Excuse me,” she said, wiping her eyes. She fumbled for her clothes and locked herself in my bathroom. I later found her white lace bra on the floor behind my couch, abandoned forever.
No idea how long she was in there. I just sat on my bed, working to slow down my breathing and to banish the memory of being a naive kid spying on something he didn’t and couldn’t understand. I was hurt and angry and sad all over again. What the fuck was wrong with me? With incredible self-centeredness I was so consumed with my own conflicting emotions that I didn’t even leave the bed, never once checked on Jessica or asked if she was okay. I was just lost in my own whirling thoughts and memories self-recriminations.
After what was probably a very long time, a dressed and composed woman stood in my door. “I’m gonna go,” she said.
Her voice snapped me out of it. “Wait, I drove you here.” I half-fell out of bed and looked for my boxers, which apparently landed nowhere near my pants. But her back was already to me and it wasn’t a long walk to the front door. The roommate started barking in agitation as I hurriedly dressed. By the time I made it out the door I could see no sign of Jess, who I guessed must have called someone for a ride. If I was a better man I would have jumped in the Jeep to find her, or at least grabbed my phone to call her. But I didn’t. I just stood there for a very long time, lost in my own self-centered thoughts.
A few days later she called me, because for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to call her. I just kept staring at my stupid relationship status on Facebook. Ed has a girlfriend! I’m such a fucking idiot.
“Look, I don’t know …” She took a deep breath. “I don’t think it’s gonna work. I’m sorry.” She hung up before I could answer, but truth be told I probably wouldn’t have said a word anyway. Sure enough I was single in the eyes of God and Zuckerberg before the end of the day. She also unfriended and blocked me, probably deleted me from her phone and burned my picture in effigy.
Trust me I get it. I deserved it. And she deserves so much better.
It was maybe two years later where the last bit of this story came up. Sure enough, social media again. Welcome to the 21st century. It was from an asshole named Mike I’d gone to school with from 1st grade until college—a class clown who was usually the only one laughing—decided to share something with our high school graduating class Facebook group.
It was a local news article and the dateline was already several years old, about an inmate who died in prison before serving his full term for rape and molestation charges, the victim a twelve year old girl. Mike must have thought it was a high school locker room in 1982 instead a semi-public online forum. “I wouldn’t have tagged his daughter in the junior parking lot if I’d have known she was getting it at home! LOL.” The last name was all too familiar, and the man’s photo was older but I remembered it from my days as a church-going boy, always dressed in his Sunday best with his perfect family and beautiful daughter. I clicked on the article but then quickly closed it as a flash of details I didn’t want to read jumped in front of me. The same for the comments below, mostly people declaring disgust for Mike making jokes or other people just saying they hope the old guy burned in hell.
I put my fist through the nearby wall, realizing that the hole I made was directly in the center of my shadow. But the damage to my home and to my hand just weren’t enough.
That night I tracked down Mike’s address a nice middle class neighborhood, and after a three shots of cheap whiskey I walked there at two o’clock in the morning to admire his Ford F150 and shoved my grandfather’s old hunting knife into all four tires, then put a brick through the driver’s side window. I didn’t run for the woods, but walked slowly as I saw lights switch on in nearby houses.
Life isn’t a story. Things don’t begin or end in satisfying ways, or even ways that make much sense. We almost never learn someone’s entire story. No one is a hero, no one is a villain—though some people are absolutely pieces of shit.
Speaking of which …
Hi, I’m Ed.