Page 11 Can you think?


              Following my second divorce I once again had to hand over the house and keep paying the mortgage to satisfy the court. Also, most of the rest of my salary goes to pay both sets of alimony and for child support for three kids and, to add to the injury, those monies are deducted at source because both lawyers demanded it.
             As a consequence of this, I barely have enough left over, after paying my rent and buying food, to buy much more than a few beers and it is easy to understand why I decided that I’m not cut out for married life and why I resigned myself to living alone in a messy, poky little studio apartment even though that meant that I could never invite a woman up there nor, in fact, anybody at all.
            There was a bar on the street level of my building and it had a lively jazz quartet in it that, cunningly, played for only fifteen minutes of each hour and that gave the patrons both entertainment and plenty of quiet time to talk.
            To ease each new girl-friend’s natural apprehension, and thus get her to be more amiable, I’d ask her to come to the lobby of my building to wait for me and I’d take her into the bar for a drink before going to dinner or some such. Nearly everybody in the bar knew me and because of that the women all saw that I wasn’t hiding anything in the way of a wife and/or a family.
            Later on, I’d have found out where she lived and so I’d suggest a walk or a short cab ride to a restaurant that was about halfway between our apartments and that way, after dinner, the answer to the question, “My place or yours?” could smoothly have us end up in hers. No commitment necessarily means no long association too in this cruel, real world and I had to go to a whole lot of trouble to meet enough bed partners.
             I persevered with the usually burdensome task because my libido didn’t simply hint that I should find a way to appease it – it demanded that I did so on a regular basis.
             After a few dismal years of following that regime, my life changed drastically.
             My mother, who had been a semi-invalid for years – and had been looked after by my sister Alicia for most of those years – took a turn for the worse and became permanently bedridden. That meant that my sister, who is twice divorced like me, had to start paying someone to be with her when she was at work and she had to do all of the onerous care-giving herself at all other times. Naturally that didn’t sit well with her and so she demanded that I take on some of the responsibility and that my other sister, who lives across country in California, had to help with the expenses.
             Clearly the only way that I could help her was to move back into the family home and take on some of the hands-on care-giving and by doing that it would also let me pay for some of the utilities and buy groceries and the like using the money that I had been paying rent with up to then. It wasn’t much but it was necessary because full time care is horrendously expensive and Mother only has enough income to pay the taxes on the house and for her many special medicines. Our sister in California insisted then, and held to it until our mother died, that a thousand a month was all that she could afford to send.
            The house is in Brooklyn, on Ocean Parkway, and upstairs there is a family room and three bedrooms, all with high ceilings, and downstairs there’s a huge living/dining room and it boasts a great kitchen seeing that it was modernized a year before our father died five years ago. It’s the place that we were all brought up in although my sister, Alicia, went to live with our father for the seven years of our parent’s separation that lasted from the time that she was seven until she was fourteen.
            Obviously, those are the formative years and so she was almost a stranger to my other sister and me when the whole family got re-united. The point about our being nearly strangers was forcefully presented to me one night when I was watching MTV in the kitchen and she came in there for a drink after taking a shower and – inadvertently I’m nearly sure – her robe fell open as she was swaying to the rock music and I saw her left breast in profile and it was pert and perfect and eminently desirable.
            To my dismay, the second that I started to reach out my hand to offer it protection, she saw what I was staring at and quickly covered it up again. To this day, it’s still easy for me to conjure up that image whenever I wish.
            Well, when I moved back into my old room, with its narrow hard bed, it was difficult for me to go to sleep at night for weeks because of the nasty feeling that swamped me of having been forced to undergo drastic retrogression. ‘Onwards and upwards’ it wasn’t.
           Also, seeing where I was living – with my mother, no less! – it became much more difficult for me to meet women and if my lowly status wasn’t bad enough it was also a whole lot of trouble to get from home to anywhere where available women hung out because there was no car available to me and without one the logistics of going on a date were daunting. Besides that I could have hardly brought one of them home without introducing her all around and, anyway, none of it was possible in the first place seeing the paltry amount of disposable money that I had.
           After some experimentation my sister and I arrived at a solution that was best for us both which was that on weekdays one of us, in turn, would be the chief cook and bottle washer and would do everything regarding dinner – supplying and preparing and cooking and serving and washing up afterwards – and the other one would stay at our mother’s bedside. When we’d finished eating, the one not doing the clearing away and the washing up would take the tiny portion that had been kept warm for our mother up the stairs to her and be responsible for her until she went to sleep and then through the night if called on.
           On Saturdays and Sundays we shared all of the chores and we cared for Mother together and on Mondays the roster would come back into force but, in order to divide the burden fairly, the ‘other’ one would start the week.
           All of that sounds a bit militaristic perhaps and it is and the reason is that Alicia has always been that way and she’s become worse, if that’s possible, ever since she got made a junior partner in her law firm. She’s able to give her proclivities full reign at work and she brings that attitude home with her.
          At the beginning, I, of course, tried to use male prerogative to opt out of having to change Mother’s diapers but Alicia would have none of it. “What she has down there is no different from what your wives have and what all your other women have too and as for changing diapers I’ve seen for myself that you were a good father that way so don’t try to pull the modesty bit nor your ‘too fastidious’ bit, cop-outs on me. Anyway while her diapers are always wet there’s rarely more than a stain on them so it’s never disgusting.”                     Understandably, Mother hated it every time that it got to be my turn to do the diaper changing chore but Alicia was adamant and Mother’s appeal to her day-nurse to over-rule Alicia was dismissed out of hand by the professional so she had to capitulate and accept her fate.
           The first few times she’d stare at the TV while I was doing it and she wouldn’t answer even a direct question from me until it was done and the bedclothes were covering her again.
           Alicia was right, I suppose, as to my having to do my duty but she was very wrong regarding the ‘no difference from other women’ part. First, I want to tell any of you who don’t already know it that old women’s pubic hair goes gray and sparse and soft just like the hair on their head does. I didn’t know that before. Second, in spite of what my sister said, I know that, when you’re the son in question, looking at the portal that you came into the world through cannot help but inspire some awe. And third, as to their ‘all being similar’ that’s patently ridiculous because every man knows that every time that he gets to look at one of them he is looking at them all – the one to hand, as it were, and the other three billion of them that are on our planet – and that the power that emanates from the one that’s right there in front of him is bolstered by the combined power of all the others. Not at all coincidentally, when all of my three children were born – in the same hospital – I admit that when each one was struggling and squirming and bawling its way through the Gateway To The World I was safely warming a stool in the bar across the road because I couldn’t bear the thought of being forced to see one of the ‘entrances and gateways’ misused that brutally.
         After a few weeks, everything began to go smoothly with our household routines except for one thing – my libido. It didn’t want smoothness, it wanted roughness on the way to getting to be soothed. I subdued it pretty well with bourbon for a while but one night I woke up at three in the morning and what had woken me was the enormous full-attention-grabbing erection that I had going. Through my whimpering I remembered having an erotic dream about being in a king sized bed with Bridget Bardot – imagine that! – and there were a half dozen dogs in the room with us and they all wanted some of her and they kept trying to drag me off her so as to get access.
         As I said, it was one of those all pervading erections – nothing the least bit playful about it – that reduced my whole being to needing to get off and to start the process right that minute. It was one of the ones that are a wife’s chief dread because she knows as soon as she senses its presence in the bed – or, much more likely, is made aware of its presence – that there’ll be zero love play and little or no tenderness coming her way while she’s appeasing the night-monster and that there’s zero negotiation possible either.
         I had no wife so – seeing that there was no alternative – I had to call on Madame Five Fingers de Palm to come to the rescue.
         It had been a long, long time but because I was so hard, hard, hard the deed got done in short order and I was astonished at the intensity of the pleasure that I generated for myself through being able to instantly co-ordinate movement with the need that was present within each moment. The intensity was of such a high order that I didn’t/couldn’t divert even a tiny bit of my awareness to take steps to deal with my ejaculate but luckily I’d thrown the covers aside for full engagement purposes and nothing impeded it from shooting over and out and, as I discovered in the morning, hitting and then running down several of the glass panes of the window that was over on the left side of my bed.
         The relief was wonderful and I felt calm and loose and at one with the world until shame descended about twenty seconds later.
          I couldn’t shake it off but I remember trying to think through it as to whether I’d ever done that anywhere other than in that very room and – although I’d had plenty of wet dreams in college I don’t think those count – I guessed probably not.
         As I was lying there and just about to go back to sleep I began to hear something odd. It sounded like our refrigerator but that was way too far away from my room to be the source. It was coming from the room that was on the other side of the wall behind my head and that was my sister’s bedroom.
         When I’d figured out what it had to be I got out of bed and I went over to listen at the wall but that didn’t help much so I opened my door ever so carefully and then I went and stood outside her door where I could hear very well indeed through the thin wood. I heard the hum increasing and decreasing rhythmically and I noted that every change was accompanied by a moan or a groan. I had, minutes before, completely drained myself of all libido so I wasn’t affected physically by what I was hearing even though I could visualize splayed legs and rearing hips and abandonment on the other side of the door. However, my brain thrilled to it and I stayed there until the moans and groans reached a crescendo and soon after changed to “Oh God! Oh God! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Give it to me! Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me good’ and like that, and then came the inevitable, “Aaaaargh’s” just before falling away to sighs of contentment and then – silence.
          I went back to my bed, even more cautiously because I knew that she no longer had any distractions and could hear normally, but I couldn’t go to sleep until I’d promised myself that I’d concentrate on the problem all of the next day and would keep it in mind – like Isaac Newton said he always did whenever he had a problem – until I’d worked out a viable plan to address what struck me as being a highly anomalous situation and, also, stupidly non-correct distribution of assets.
          Alicia and I always got up at the same time every weekday morning and because she only ever wanted coffee I made breakfast for myself and for our mother and then I took it up and ate mine at her bedside while Alicia fed her what I’d brought up for her.
          Normally, when it got to be time for her bus she’d kiss Mother goodbye and leave whereas I could hang around for a half hour more and I’d take the dishes to the kitchen and wash them up and after that I’d glance at the newspaper and then go and catch my own bus.
          By the second morning after I’d heard her producing and starring in an undirected single-person-love-scene in her room I had a plan worked out and so I followed her out of the room and down the stairs and I called to her to stop when she got close to the front door.
          “Wait up a minute,” I said, “and let me say something – – – Good. Now listen to me carefully sis, and please don’t make a comment on it afterwards but just think about it through the day and then tell me your thoughts on it tonight.
          “First, please remember that I’m not suggesting a course of action here I’m just laying out the facts. OK?”
          “Get on with it please, else I’m going to miss my bus.”
          “Sure. Here it is. I’m talking about what happened on the night before last. I woke up at around three o’clock that morning because I was having an erotic dream about Bridget Bardot and I found that I had a tremendous erection that had to be dealt with right then and – – – – – No, no, no, please listen until I’ve finished – – – – thank you. Well, when I’d – uh – dealt with it I was settling down to go to sleep again when I heard a humming noise coming from your room and it went on for about five minutes and just before it stopped I heard you going – “Oh God, Oh God, Oh, fuck.” and lot’s of stuff like that and then you went silent again.”
         She stopped looking impatient and annoyed and took on a sheepish, guilty stance.
         “Now, what I want you to think about before you come back home tonight is the anomaly that was present in both of our rooms that night and at close to the same time too. Can you see how ludicrous it is? Can you see the inanity and the senselessness? There’s me on one side of the wall with my near-bursting penis in my hand and with my fingers doing their best to imitate a vagina and there’s you on the other side, just a few feet away from me, with a void in your vagina that you’re trying to fill with an imitation penis! Where’s the sense? I ask you.”
          “Really! What a thing to – “
          “No! Please don’t say any thing right now. Just think about it and I hereby make a solemn promise that if you don’t bring it up tonight I’ll never mention it again. OK? Deal?”
           “Well, I’ve got to go right this second but I assure you that I’ll have plenty to say to you when I do get home tonight. Believe it! I’ve never heard the like. You should be really, deeply ashamed.”
          It was my turn to cook our dinner so I bought five fresh, jumbo shrimps for sautéing in oil and garlic because Alicia loves them at any and all times and I cooked up squid with rice and peas – chosen for the same reason – for the main dish and when she was washing up and getting changed I took Mother some choice parts of one of the shrimps for an appetizer. She eats like a bird and what would be one good mouthful for me was all that she could handle.
         I served up the rest of the appetizers at the kitchen table and Alicia didn’t say a word until after we’d eaten them and all that she said then was “Thank you. That was delicious.” When I brought in the main dish she tasted it and said that it was very good too and then I saw her make up her mind to act and then she let her fork rest on top of the rice and said, “So. You think that what happened the other night in our two rooms was an anomaly do you? You do know that the word means ‘abnormal’ or ‘irregular,’ right? Are you saying then that you think that incest would be regular behavior?” Her eyes had stayed down at her plate as she spoke and then she’d raised them and glared at me as she waited for my answer.
        “No, no, no. I meant to use it in a more general sense like ‘departing from logic’ rather than referring to specific behavior. But please, let’s put semantics aside for now, shall we? What we have here is far too important for that. First, I want to ask you a question but I don’t want an answer from you until I’ve finished explaining myself fully.
        “Here is the question – Why ever not? And here is the follow-up: Of course, as you must know, I’m not talking about our becoming out and out lovers and sneaking kisses and holding hands and that stuff. I just want to make a straightforward deal with you. In future, if I find myself in the same condition that I did that night, what I want from you is a promise that, rather than my having to behave like a schoolboy again, I can come and knock on your door and ask you to let me join you in your bed for ten minutes or so. It’s called ‘civilized behavior.’ ”
        “No it’s not. It’s called ‘incest’ and there are strong rules and laws against it and taboos that go back tens of thousands of years.”           “Didn’t I ask you to wait until I’ve finished? Sure there are rules about it and with good reason too but only two of them are important and they are – First – Genealogy, and that doesn’t concern us because you’ve already gone through menopause – right? – and not me either because I had a vasectomy five years ago, and – Second –
        “Wait a minute. Hold up there. You had a vasectomy? Why?”
        “Why? Well, much as I love all my kids they’ve been albatrosses around my neck for years and years now. My ex’s know better than to come to me asking for extra money – they know that they’re already getting just about all of it but that doesn’t spare me from – well, you know how it goes as well as I do – ‘Is that you, Cliff? Well your son/daughter wants to see you at the baseball game/concert/school play. You’d better be there.’ And ‘Is that you, Cliff? Well listen. You’re their father so you have to – take him skiing / take her to ballet / take them skating at Rockefeller Center / take him to the barbers. And ‘Is that you, Cliff? You have to start teaching Paul to drive, and I do mean before the end of this week.’ And on and on. I don’t want to lie to you and I can’t tell you what it was that triggered me into getting it done because that would mean revealing too much and being dis-loyal to – uh – to someone you know.                  “Anyway, that aside – the second thing that makes incest taboo is the psychological aspect. Only you can answer the question as to whether you could cope with our – uh – being intimate but speaking for myself such a marvelous gesture by you would bring us closer together than we are already. I’m not talking about our sharing a bed or even your lying down for me because that might call for more affection than we have. I see it as just helping each other out.”
        “Wait a minute here, how on earth could we do it without my having to lie down for you?”
        “Well, let’s see. You could simply bend over the bed and hold still for rear entry or we could do it with a sheet between us that has a hole in it like orthodox Jews do or, maybe – uh – well – we could do it like the Victorians did. The woman sits on the side of the bed and the guy stands between her legs and she moves forward just enough until – uh – it – uh – can get done. That way they can look at each other and talk as he gets on with it. It was the favorite position of most people back then because it makes the participants more equal. In fact, come to think about it, I’m surprised that in these days of avid feminists it isn’t popular again. Then there’s the – Oh, but wait! Does your question mean that you’re weakening? That you’re coming around to seeing the logical position on this? Wow! I sure hope that that’s true!”
         “Don’t get your hopes up, buster! Well now, if you’ve finished with your explanation, let me tell you what happened to me today.
         “I stayed in shock at what you said to me all the time that I was walking to the bus stop and the same on the bus and while I was waiting on the subway platform but when I got onto the train I realized that the shock that I was feeling was mostly caused by the guilt at having been caught pleasuring myself – like a teenager as you put it – and so what had been blinding rage up until then dissipated a bit and I could think clearer and I found myself questioning convention because I let my mind go back to what I was feeling after the thumping of your headboard against the wall woke me up that night. I’d often heard that noise coming from both sides when we were younger – you’d be doing your thing on one side and our parents would be going at it in on the other side – so, I knew well what was happening the other night and it made me horny and I soon got overwhelmed and because it has been so long since the last time that, as you evidently heard for yourself, I didn’t hardly care if there was anyone overhearing me or not. Getting it done was the only thing in my world at that moment. I remember thinking throughout how much I would have preferred having a man with me instead of an electrified plastic toy but thinking of you as being the man never so much as crossed my mind.
         “So. When I got to my office I was still shaky and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get on with any creative work so I just answered all my e-mail and did some catch-up work and I actually passed potentially lucrative enquiries on to my colleagues, which astonished them because that was a first for me. Well, I didn’t leave my office all day, I even skipped lunch, because the thing of it is that I’ve always had a healthy libido and going without sex all this time is driving me crazy and I was trying to reconcile the fact that you are my brother with the fact that you sleep in the room next to me every night which is, to say the least, highly convenient and, as you pointed out, you sometimes need a woman just as much as I need a man. I nearly lost my sanity, weighing the pros and cons, but I persevered and I tried to consider it from all points of view and all the time I knew that I was definitely tilted towards finding a way to coming to terms with letting you come to my bed and I kept hoping that I could narrow down the cons until they were less than the pros and that way the difference could be rationalized away but time and again I would come to an abrupt halt whenever I had to acknowledge the fact that I’m the woman in the equation. You can probably understand some of the implications that that brings to bear but, I assure you, for a woman there are many, many more that you’d never come close, you couldn’t possibly come even close, to being able to understand.
         “And then, hallelujah! You’ve just made the whole balance crash down on the pro side by telling me that you’ve had a vasectomy.          “Well. A huge part of the problem that I’d been mulling over all day got solved as soon as you told me that because – do you see? – there will be no sperm at all – not even one – in your – uh – in your ejaculations. Even though I don’t have any of my eggs left that one fact makes a really big difference for me because while I can accept the fact that there have to be some body fluids transferred – for the mechanical aspect – yours will be completely innocuous and there’ll be no animalitoes swimming and squirming their way up and into my uterus and that changes everything. Do you see? The fluids coming out of you will be benign and therefore acceptable. More like playful love-offerings than purposeful semen teeming with single-goaled life. You know? Do you understand what I’m saying?          “Well, to sum up, I think that doing it with you will be closer to playing and sharing than anything else. D’you understand what I’m saying here? Please think carefully before you answer me.”
         I forced myself to stay still for a few moments and then I nearly nodded my head off to show her that I concurred fully and approved fully too.
         “Good. Well now, after dropping that bombshell you brought up the psychological aspect of our – uh – doing it and I knew the answer to that at once because I’ve been dissecting that part at work all day too. I came to the realization early on in the day that I’ll have no problem to speak of with that. I know that I’ll be able to reconcile the little tiny bit of guilt that might arise by simply linking it to sibling love if we agree to keep what happens between us in the bedroom at night completely separate from our behavior during the day.
         “So, that was it. Right there and then, not five minutes ago when you told me about your vasectomy, the non-resolved half of my problem became moot and so the whole thing got resolved satisfactorily in my mind and I now agree with you as regards the question, ‘Why not?’ My answer to that is – ‘Why not indeed?’ So, having resolved the big question, I have a little one for you – Why do we have to wait for a night when you get to be insupportably horny again? Why not this very night? Indeed, why not as soon as possible?”
        We spent some intriguing time discussing the best MO to use and I know that it was exciting for both of us because, as for me, I got to be more than half-hard and, as for her, I saw that her eyes were shining with what looked like enthusiasm but was more probably from a welcome build up of lust.
        I must have gotten through doing my usual chores for the rest of that evening but I have no recollection of it.
       Of course, we’d agreed to not let our mother have so much as an inkling that anything and everything had changed for us and so Alicia had to be careful to appear nonchalant as she fed her and changed her diaper while I, presumably, was clearing up in the kitchen but I only remember being in a kind of haze from knowing that as soon as Mother was safely, and avidly, watching one of the ‘CSI’s’ we would be able to meet up in a meaningful – no, the meaningful – way.
       When Alicia came into the kitchen at about two minutes after ten o’clock she put mother’s dirty dishes in the sink and then she turned to me and I tentatively raised my eyebrows, not fully sure that my good luck was still holding, and she gave me a little nod and a nervous smile and then she led the way upstairs.
       She went into my room rather than her own and that surprised me until I realized that that way her room became a buffer between our mother and any noise that we might make. She didn’t switch a light on, as we’d agreed on earlier to try to lessen the awkwardness this first time, but we had to leave the door open a little in case Mother called for attention and so I could see her undressing by the light coming in from the hallway.
      When her slightly heavy breasts – nothing like my long held image of the left one but none the worst for that – got released into the air, and were hanging down just so, I had to stop taking my shirt off and stay still to watch.
      When her skirt had been dropped to the floor she pulled her panties down to her knees, in the nonchalant way of women who have decided that it’s going to happen and are content about it, and then she sat on the bed to take them all the way off. It was only then that I let myself accept the fact that we really were going to get it on and so I hurried to catch up.
      We’d agreed earlier that we’d have to take some precautions, in case Mother called, and we’d decided that she would wear an open robe and then, if she did call, we could disengage and she’d simply pull the robe closed and put some slippers on and go to her.         Also, we weren’t going to do it lying down because, as I’d lied to her earlier, I thought that that would be way too intimate but we were going to do it with her bending over for me so that the mechanical side of what we were doing would remain the dominant part. Huh!
       When she saw that I was ready – she pretended to be horror-struck by the size of what I was pointing at her, which was hokey but was also gratifyingly ego-boosting – she stood up and put her arms into the light robe that she’d brought with her and then turned away from me and leaned forwards with her arms on the bed. I moved into position behind her and then I took my time lifting up her robe by folding it in on itself and my excitement built up as I exposed the back of her knees and then her thighs and then, wonder of wonders, her lovely bottom and I then lowered the material that I’d gathered up onto the small of her back.
        It has always been my practice to fully enter any woman who was with me for the first time at the very first opportunity, I guess in order to make it happen as soon as possible so that whatever disappointments might come later the fact that I’d already ‘possessed’ her meant that all wouldn’t be lost, and I’d told Alicia about that at the dinner table and she’d agreed to stay still for it and let me be selfish that one time but when the actual time did come and I found out how special it was I took all the time that was needed to bring her along with me.
        It was truly marvelous for both of us and, afterwards when I got enough strength back to support myself vertically, I lowered her on to the bed and I held her close until she’d stopped convulsing and then I heard her moaning and murmuring fervid thanks in my direction for minutes on end.
        When I eventually glanced at the clock I saw that Mother’s TV program was nearly over and although it was Alicia’s turn to get her ready for sleep she was obviously in no condition to do it so when she’d quieted a little I supported her over to her room and into her own bed and then I walked to the bathroom and washed up and used a deodorizer and then I went and took care of Mother.
         I was sitting in the kitchen the next morning when Alicia came down and as she walked past me, on her way to pouring herself some coffee, she caught my eye and she mouthed “Wow!” as she rolled her eyes and then she focused them on me again and mouthed, “Thank you.”
         She made Mother’s breakfast herself, even though that was my chore, and then she took it upstairs.
         She called me the next day at my office, a first for her, and she didn’t use my name at all through the entire conversation – you never know who is listening-in these days of fluid electronic communication – but she told me that I was a super-stud and that she’d never had such loving and what was my secret because she’d thought that the sex with her two husbands had been wonderful and that the sex with her lovers had been exciting but now she knew that they’d all been rank amateurs.
         I wasn’t comfortable with her talking about sex on the phone in broad daylight so I politely ended the call as soon as I could but, in an attempt to soften my abruptness, I told her that she wasn’t, under any circumstances, to work late that night because I’d come up with a theory as to why last night had been so good for both of us and that we should get in all the practice that we could because if my theory was correct it could only get better.
        “Ooooh! I can hardly wait. You can count on my not being even one minute late, lover.”
       She had stopped to pick up some minute steaks and a baguette on her way home and she put the meat to marinate before she’d even taken her coat off. When she served them up, with a salad made with an avocado that was exactly ripe enough, I nearly forgot that I was going to be allowed to get naked with her again, soon.
       We ate the whole meal in silence because it practically demanded our full attention and when we both had coffee in front of us she said, “I will not wait a moment longer. Tell me.”
       “Well. Here’s what I think made it so special. Up until now we’ve both, like most of the other men and women on the planet, found partners who we loved for, or in spite of, their idiosyncrasies and their established habits and their tastes in literature and theater and all of the rest of the things that added up to being their personalities. We also loved – oh, let’s see – well, the way that they held their heads and how their faces looked under different circumstances and their figures and all the other myriad things that can be summed up as their physicality. So, we could love them for only those two big things – that’s all there are, right? Two. Personality and physicality, if you will – but not so in our case.
        “I have always loved you as a person and I’m happy to say that last night I was allowed to find out that I love your body too but for us there’s a third thing. I love you as a sister too so, assuming that you feel the same way as I do about all three, accumulatively speaking we’re way ahead of the norm. Given that, how could it not have been spectacularly good?”
        “Wow! Of course. Clearly you’re right. That must be the reason. I agree completely. That’s the hidden factor and it means that we experience a half as much again rapport as anybody else can. Wow! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s perfectly obvious now. Well done, Cliff.
        “Oh, but listen to me for a minute, please. A serious fault in our relationship came to me on the way home tonight. It’s our kissing, or rather the lack of it. I have to say that I feel a certain reluctance about kissing you – the uninhibited kind, I mean, with lots of tongue and slurping – and if we can’t find a way to be able to kiss each other properly whenever we want to it might jeopardize our – uh – relationship over the long term and we don’t want that, right? You see? The thing is that if I have to go without getting proper kisses from you before, during and after then after a while I’ll begin to feel more like a whore or a neglected wife than a lover. D’you see my point?”
         “Sure I do. Yes, you’re right again so let’s see if we can do something about that – uh – that reluctance of yours, shall we? Let’s see – – – – – – – – – – Well, how about pretending that we’re on our first date and – uh, yeah, how about this? – let’s go and sit in the swing on the balcony like you used to do with the guys that you brought home when you were in high school and do some making out. What do you think?”
         “Marvelous idea, let’s go right now.”
         The balcony has tall bushes all across the frount of it so no one could see us from the street and we sat next to each other and I moved up close and took her hand. When I’d done everything that there is to do to another person’s hand I let go of it and put my arm around her shoulders and then leaned in to kiss her on the cheek and, as she’d began to fear by then, just like her, that was all that I could work up any enthusiasm for.
         Nevertheless, we valiantly tried kissing on the lips several times but the barrier that the years of familiarity, as it were, had built between us wouldn’t let either of us loosen up enough. I got plenty worried as I began to see that our appointment in bed that night might get to be postponed forever but then she came up with a great idea.
         “Let go of me for a minute. There’s something that we can try. Let’s pretend that we’re on our third or fourth date.”
         She stood up and undid her bra and then slipped her panties off and then she sat down again and she reached over and unzipped me. She searched for my dick – it wasn’t all that easy to find because although I’d been half hard ever since she’d come home and, when we were making our way out to the balcony, it had hardened up to concrete grade but it had reverted to a less than half-hard status when our mutual dilemma was brought out into the open – and, when she’d found it, she eased it out into the air. She kept one hand on it as she wiggled her ass forwards on the seat until it was over to the edge of the cushion and then she opened her legs and used her other hand to guide one of my hands under her dress.
         It was a brilliant idea of hers because having my middle finger inside her made all the difference in the world for both of us, it was both a prime mover for me and a fait accompli for her and we fell to and got on with producing a whole lot of slurping-saliva-swapping, noisy tonsil-wrestling.
        When we had to come up for air she said, “Ah ha, you see? Carnality to the rescue. I used to use that trick whenever I was dating a guy who I didn’t really like but who was a good catch or was hot or whatever and I wanted to keep him interested. I also used it to extend my second marriage for a few years because I really, really didn’t want to get divorced again. Say, bet you didn’t know that Ben was a really horny bastard. Did you, be honest now? He didn’t look the type, right? Well, the truth is that he could never get enough. He was also sensitive and very observant so I could never dare to fake anything with him. Whenever I couldn’t bring myself to warm to him properly, which was often towards the end, I’d make as if I was going down on him even though I knew that I couldn’t possibly do it for him and I’d just kiss it and rub it a bit and then I’d swerve my ass to within his reach and after he’d – uh – paid some attention to it, and to the region, I’d feel lust rising in me and with that there I could do anything for him that he wanted. I was glad to do it in fact. The effect would last for a few hours but then I’d have to do it all again from the beginning the next time that he wanted some.
       “Well now, what say we put our newfound enthusiasm to the test? Let’s move apart and then come back together and see if it’s worked for us, shall we?”
        We let each go of each other and just sat there to cool down.
        After a while she said that that was long enough and we tried kissing again – cold, you might say – and I was happy to be able to show her, unmistakably, that for me it was like kissing a woman who I wanted to fuck and when she showed that she was liking it too we did some more of it and, after a little groping for nostalgia’s sake, we just held hands for a while, pleased as punch with our successful experiment.
        One more inhibition had been mastered and, as we both agreed, it was probably only possible because of all of those years that she’d spent living with our father and not at home with me and Mom and Audrey.
       When we were back in the kitchen and I had put mother’s dinner together and she was doing the washing up she whispered, as I was leaving the kitchen with a tray, “Now that we’ve cleared that little problem up nicely and we know why it was so good last night I want to do it again as soon as humanly possible please – for confirmation, you know? – so, you go and feed Mom and I’ll finish up here and when NCIS starts at eight o’clock we can meet up in your room. OK? I’ll be naked already, you can bet on it, because I don’t want to have to wait a minute longer than necessary.”
       Just as she’d promised, I found her lying full out on the bed naked as a plucked hen and I fairly tore my clothes off to get to join her. She had already drawn the curtains and just before I got onto the bed she told me to go and close the door all the way and then put the overhead lights on.
       There was no more nonsense about ‘never lying down’ nor, of course, ‘no kissing on the mouth’ and we did just about everything that there is to do as we searched out each other’s preferences and foibles. I knew enough about women to stay aware of the fact that these were early times in our relationship and so, in an attempt to get it properly anchored, I saw to it again that she got multiple orgasms before I got serious about getting one for myself.
        Her last orgasm had benefited from the previous ones and so it became an all encompassing one and so, when I saw by the clock that I had to go and get Mother settled in, I tried to wake Alicia up but I got no response and so I left her there and did my chores.
       When I rejoined her in bed she reigned kisses on me and that was proof positive of our having true physical compatibility and, when we woke the next morning, we found that we’d passed the test that proved our mental compatibility too because we found that we were both delighted to find that the other one was right there and had been all through the night.
       For the best part of a year nothing much changed in our relationship nor in our circumstances. We learned early on to not go to parties together – we found it difficult to not wind up talking to each other most of the time because we rarely found anyone who interested us more – and if we both had to attend a family party or get-together then one of us would arrive late and we’d always be sure to sit well apart and to leave at different times.
       When we had visitors staying with us we became more and more unhappy each day with having to follow convention by sleeping in our own rooms. However, our catch-up reunions were always so pleasant that we’d almost forgive the much-resented-recently-departed interlopers.
       Unhappily, our mother’s condition kept deteriorating and she lost more and more of her faculties as the months went by. It got to be that the only sustenance that she could deal with was pap and even that had to be made with carefully selected ingredients if she wasn’t to suffer from acid reflux or from strong heartburn. Her practical nurse told us, in a burst of candor that came from I don’t know where, that we should know that she would never leave her bed again and that her systems were closing down because her various organs were beginning to forget what their jobs were.
       Eventually her voice got to be so feeble that Alicia and I were the only ones who could interpret her needs from the few and far between words that she could get out.
       She got tired of TV and she asked us to take it away and she did that by pointing at it and scrunching up her face in distaste and then wagging her finger sideways a couple of times to indicate a negative which we took to mean that she wanted it switched off but when we’d done that she further conveyed to us that she didn’t want it in her room at all because she didn’t like having it looking at her. She got that last part across to us by forcing out the word, “Look’n”, and then pointing from it to herself several times until we understood. After that, we knew that she didn’t have long to live because those soap operas and detective series had played an integral part in her life for as long as we could remember.
        One weekday night it was my turn to clean her up and settle her in for the night and so at around ten o’clock I went up and when I’d taken her diaper off and was washing her – I always carefully followed the method that a nurse had told Alicia that she had to do, she’d also told her to demonstrate it to me, because it was the only way to keep from getting nasty rashes that would stretch from her belly to her mid thighs. It entailed opening her legs and then bending her knees and letting them spread apart, so as to open her up wide, and then washing every nook and cranny meticulously and then drying them carefully with a towel and then letting them air-dry for a few minutes more before rubbing in lotion.
        Because she no longer had a TV to stare at she just looked away when I was doing that for her – I guess she wanted to pretend that it wasn’t happening – but on that particular night I saw that she was watching my face as I was working on her and she caught my eye and indicated that I was to stop what I was doing and pay attention to what she was going to say.
        I carried on with my task until I got to the air-drying part and then I gave her my undivided attention and told her to go ahead.
       She pointed at her own head and then used two fingers to point at my eyes and then one to point at her center and she did that several times and then she gave a tiny nod of her head to indicate that she knew that what she was saying was true and then another nod, slightly different, to tell me that she’d come to the end of her first statement.
       After a short interval she indicated that she was about to start again and then she let her forefinger droop to cleverly indicate ‘man’ and then she made a twirling motion with her whole hand that signified ‘all men’ and then she mouthed and half pronounced the word ‘fascinated’ and then ‘with’ and then she pointed at her center again.
       I looked at where she was pointing and because it was still fully exposed to allow the drying process to continue – here, I must admit that, whenever it was like that, if I ever had to turn my eyes away from it for a moment when I looked again, to get on with the job, I had to pause to study its every detail again as if I’d never seen one before – and I couldn’t keep from taking in the details yet again – which rather proved her point – and when I looked up at her face again her mouth had a little smirk on it and she shook her head sardonically and then got serious again.
       She started from the beginning and when she got up to-date she raised her eyebrows to signify surprise and then she wagged her hand from the wrist to signal ‘forbidden’ or ‘taboo’ and then she pointed to her forehead and managed to pronounce, “me” and then she pointed around and past me and downwards to tell me that she was including Alicia and then she gave me a nod of her head to tell me that that was the end of her second statement and then, after a moment, she raised it to query, with her eyes, if I’d understood her.              What she’d said, in toto, was, “I’ve seen you looking at me down there and I understand why you do it. The reason is because you’re a man and all men are fascinated with what we women have between our legs. However, it’s taboo in this case because that interest shouldn’t include your mother or your sister.”
       In an effort to keep a little dignity I said, flippantly, “All-righty then, if you say so,” and I smiled at her and told that she was very percipient and that I wanted to plead guilty as charged. I attached no significance at that moment to the fact that she’d included ‘sister’ except in principle and she must have sensed that from my dismissive response because I saw fire in her eyes for a second and then she closed them and started breathing deeply. Deeply for her that is.
       I thought that that was the end of her lecture and I felt that I’d been let off lightly, considering.
       I took advantage of the détente to rub lotion into her crotch and then I fitted a diaper on her and pulled her nightgown into place and when I covered her with the bedclothes again she opened her eyes and signaled that another message was about to be conveyed.             When I saw that my heart sank because I then realized that when she’d withdrawn from me for a few moments it had only been to muster her resources and I dreaded to think what was coming next.
      When she saw that I was paying attention she started in again.
      First, she pointed at me and then over and down to include Alicia and then she opened her palms as she asked, “Why?” She did that several more times to add emphasis. Then she wagged her fore finger back and fore to signal a negative and then she gave me her ‘taboo’ signal again and then she did more negatives, with both fore fingers this time, and then with both of her hands, with limp wrists, so that the full signal was ‘Why are you and Alicia doing what is taboo? No. No. Taboo. Never. Never.’
      After another little rest she got my attention again and then pointed at her forehead and then she put her two fingers together and moved them apart and then together again but I don’t think that she was satisfied that I’d be able to understand that part because she then waved one hand dismissively so as to say that I should ignore her last signal and then she started again from the beginning and when she got back up to “Never, never.” instead of moving her two fingers side to side she shocked me by making her fore finger and thumb on one hand form a circle and then she pushed her other forefinger in and out of it a few times.
      After that she used both hands to do more of her double negative thing.
      She stayed still for a few seconds but she kept her eyes on me and when she’d thought out what else she wanted to say next and how to do it, and had gotten some strength back, she said “Why?” again and then began again with the pointing and then more negatives and then she tapped one finger on her wedding ring as she forced out the words “this” and then she dropped her hands onto the bed covers and managed to get out “to enjoy” and then “this” again as she lifted her hands up once more to do another one of her crude but unmistakable simulations of sexual intercourse.
      Those were the last words that she ever spoke because when she dropped her hands again her whole body seemed to go even limper than it had been and that had been plenty limp already.
      Then, as I watched, her eyes went out of focus and then kind of closed down and with that her essential being seemed to slip away along with a lengthy sigh that escaped from her open mouth.
      I went to the head of the stairs and I called down to Alicia who was in the living room watching TV and I told her that she’d better come up right away.
     One glance was all that she needed and she cried out, “Oh, no, no. Mom, noooooo.” and then she went over and sat on the bed to one side and I went and sat on the other side and we formed a circle of three by holding hands but only two of us were crying.
     When Alicia at last regained some composure we saw that it was past midnight so we decided to call the doctor at eight in the morning and to wait a few Christian hours after that before calling our sister in California. That way they’d all get a full night’s sleep.
     When Alicia and I were holding each other in bed a bit later I told her – and you won’t understand why I did this until I explain something else to you in a little while – about how, earlier on – “I’d finished washing and drying her and was letting the air get at her before putting a clean diaper on when she said and/or signaled to me, out of the blue, that all men are fascinated with this – she then pointed to her exposed crotch – and that she then she knew that, if I was typical of all men, that includes the ones that their mothers and their sisters have too.”
     Alicia gasped and then pushed me away and she sat up and switched a light on and then said, “I’ve suspected for a long time that she knew about us sleeping together – I told you so, didn’t I? – but she never said anything to me about it nor even hinted that she knew. So – – – she did know and she told you just before she died. That’s got to mean something. Right? She knew that she was about to leave us forever and she wanted us to know that she didn’t approve of it and that she wants us to stop.
     “Oh, the poor, poor woman. We must have made the last few months of her life hell. – – – Oh, what have we done? Oh, dear, oh dear – – – ” and then came lots of sobs interspersed with more heart-rending lamentations.
      When she’d gotten most of her immediate anguish out she said, “Well. That’s it. We can’t do this anymore, you hear me? We just can’t.” She pushed my would-be comforting hand away from her belly and would have left my bed if she could have but when she tried to get off it she realized that her legs were rubbery and wouldn’t support her so she gave up on the effort and fell back onto the pillows and started bawling like an abandoned calf.
       Before I’d gotten positive confirmation directly from the lips of our mother I had suspected that she had found out somehow that we were ‘getting it on,’ as had Alicia. That was why I’d told her about what Mother had said to me because I know that she, Alicia, holds strange positions on the fundamentals – witness her outright refusal to accept my ejaculations if they’d contained sperm even though she was being irrational seeing that she’d already gone through menopause and so what could it possibly matter to her? – and that she might let her suspicions fester and eventually get strong enough to swamp her fickle mind and make her think – a few months or a year down the road perhaps, on an anniversary or some such, or maybe after reading something that she thought to be pertinent – that she had, “Become positive sure that mother hadn’t approved of our ‘sharing’ and so, because it has been nagging at me nearly constantly ever since she died, you can no longer come to my bed.”
      That was prescient of me because she’d said just that two minutes after I’d quoted Mother!
      Also, I was worried about the possibility of, God forbid, someday she might go to one of those ‘Sharing Intimacies’ get-togethers with a group of women friends and one of them might remark on the fact that she’d found out at first hand that one of the side benefits for a woman when her partner gets a vasectomy is that the taste and smell of what he ejaculates is entirely different from what it had been before and consequently, seeing that it’s no longer pungent and earthy, she doesn’t have to go running to the bathroom to wash out her mouth after oral sex nor to douche after having regular sex. If that happened ever happened to Alicia, if she didn’t have our mother’s approval rating safely tucked away already, (see below) she might well come storming home after a meeting and rightly demand to see my scars.
      As I just mentioned, I wouldn’t have quoted the “mother’s and sister’s” bit to her if I hadn’t already cleverly worked something out – it had come to me when we were holding Mother’s cold hands – that would placate her for all time and so that was why, because I knew that it would almost certainly be successful, I wasn’t devastated when I’d heard her say, in answer, that there’d be no more wonderfully-convenient good quality loving coming to me from then on and, of course, that would mean that there’d be an end to my enjoying the best parts of marriage with none of the annoying baggage that comes with it.
      “Listen to me for a minute,” I said when she was calmer.
     “That bit about ‘mother’s and sisters’ wasn’t the last thing that she said.”
     Slurp, cough, swallow, deep inhalation and then, still whimpering, “Oh? What else?”
     “Well – you know how having to convey serious stuff to us always exhausted her? – well, after getting that ‘mother’s and sisters’ bit out she had to rest for a few minutes and when she could manage it she beckoned to me that I was to look into her eyes so that she’d be sure that I was paying attention – from that I knew that what was coming next was important to her – and then she mustered all her strength and she said, ‘You two’ and then, ‘Why not?’ and then, after drawing in more air, she tapped her wedding ring and managed to say, ‘Enjoy this.’ and then, believe it or not, she did this – – – ” I then did the same thing with my fingers and thumb that she’d done.
      Then I went on to say, “I can hardly believe that she knew such a crude signal. Have you ever seen her do that before?”
      Alicia gasped again and then eased off altogether on her sniffles and then she took some time to digest and analyze what I’d just said. As she was cogitating she said, off handedly, “Yes. When I was a kid I saw our dad do that once when he was telling a joke to Mom and the other two people who were playing cards with them in our living room. I guess that he didn’t want to risk using a verbal euphemism that I might be able to interpret.”
     Then she sat up and said, earnestly, “But forget all that and please listen carefully to what I’m going to say and see if you agree, OK? Well, her last words, the ones that you just quoted, make all the difference in the world. Don’t you see? It makes everything all right for us again. Do you see? She knew that she was going to die soon and she wanted us to know that she understands our position and that she approves and wants us to keep on enjoying what we do together. Hallelujah!”
     She looked up to the ceiling and said, “Thank you, Mom. Thank you for your blessing.”
     She held the pose for a few seconds, adding a prayer maybe, and then reached to switch the light off and then she snuggled down into my arms and sought out my mouth and worked hard on giving me the sweetest kiss that I’ve ever had. It literally made my toes curl and I guess that was because it made all of the sinews in my body tighten up in unison – with gratitude that was aided by deeply felt relief.
     From that reaction of hers I have every hope that ‘enjoy’ might well be exactly the right word to use to describe our loving for many sweet years to come.
      I hereby swear that I did my utmost to give Alicia an all-out best-interpretation of Mother’s last message and, even under severe duress, there’s no way that I’ll ever add, or change, a single word nor any punctuation nor any emphasis nor the sequence of the message that she sent to me – “You two – – Why not? – – As if you’re married – – Enjoy – – This – – Making love.”