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Reluctant. That’s the word.
I had no else to blame, since I was the one who said yes to the task, so I opened the car door reluctantly and climbed the four wide steps to the front door of Valley Manor Nursing Home. I rang the bell and waited for the buzzer that would unlock the red wooden door.
Perhaps it was some measure of guilt that inclined me to agree to Pastor Jim’s request to visit Hazel at Valley Manor. My own mother had died there several years ago, and I had always felt I’d never gone often enough. My mother always denied being disappointed in the frequency of my visits and if she was lying, she hid it well, but I know I was disappointed in myself. So here I was today, in no position to disappoint Mrs. Hazel Chandler who was over the top at the prospect of my visit.
The receptionist, a scruffy but competent enough looking young man with the name Charl H. on his Valley Manor name badge welcomed me and called for Hazel. “You can wait for her here. She likes to wheel herself out to greet people.”
Waiting for Hazel, I perused the bulletin boards with their cheery but childlike messages designed to keep the resident’s spirits up. It always seemed that once people entered places like Valley Manor, they began to be treated like toddlers, to be entertained and kept out of trouble.
The changeable date and weather sign proclaimed, “Today is Wednesday, March 8, 2014. Make it a great day! Weather: Mostly cloudy, chance of sun late afternoon.” I hoped that forecast predicted my day once I left here.
At last, Hazel emerged from the elevator and rolled herself easily over to my side. In an embarrassingly loud voice she proclaimed, “I hope Charlie here made you feel welcome.” Charl just smiled.
She motioned for me to lean down and whispered secretively in my ear, “He’s nice enough, but the hot one comes in at three o’clock.” She seemed delighted in her attempt to shock me.
“I’ll be sure to take a look on my way out then,” I replied as conspiratorially as I could, hoping Charl was too busy tending to important matters like checking the residents’ bus schedules to notice that women who could be his mother and grandmother were comparing his rear end to that of his co-worker. Maybe he would have been flattered.
Hazel led me up the elevator and down the broad hallway toward the common room where she wanted us to meet. Along the way, I peered into the rooms of other residents, some of whom we visible. Hazel seemed among the perkier of Valley Manor’s clientele, a fact which surprised me given how Pastor Jim had described her.
“I think she is failing,” he had said. “Doesn’t have as much to say as she used to. Not repeating herself yet, but I think she reckons her time is coming.”
“Any special topic I should either address or avoid?” I’d asked.
“Well, Linda,” he had offered thoughtfully, “I’m not sure exactly what it is but I have a sense she has a confession to make, you know, before she can be at peace. I’ve given her every opportunity to speak it out loud, but she’s never let it out. Maybe she’ll reveal it to a woman.”
So there I was, a reluctant woman on someone’s idea of a mission to help an old lady get ready to die. I suppose I’ve run less noble errands.
* * *
Hazel and I spent about an hour getting to know one another. Turns out she and my mother had been great friends and bridge partners once upon a time. I never even knew my mother played bridge. I must have been away at college.
As I began dropping subtle hints that I probably needed to be leaving, I could detect no impending revelation of Hazel’s misdeeds. I had imagined her lamenting she hadn’t been a good enough wife or mother, something like that, but nothing of the sort was forthcoming. I was surprised to find myself feeling vaguely disappointed. Not that I really wanted to have to respond to anything, but Pastor Jim had piqued my curiosity and I guess I selfishly wanted something out of the visit for me too so I could say I had helped the old woman in some way.
Maybe that’s why I suddenly blurted out, “Hazel, have you ever done anything you’ve regretted?”
“Something I’ve regretted?” she asked, as if to make sure she’d heard me correctly.
Suddenly embarrassed, I backpedalled, “Yes, but I’m sorry I asked. You don’t have to answer. I should go.” I stood up.
“Something I’ve regretted,” she said again, but this time with a pondering tone. She lowered her head and drew her hands together to an almost prayerful pose. “Something I’ve regretted,” she repeated again slowly.
Now I was the one with something to regret. I feared I’d opened that proverbial can of worms with no way to stuff the wriggling mess back in.
“Yes,” she announced suddenly. I held my breath.
“It may not be what you expect, but yes,” she said with the same mischievous tone she’d taken about Charl’s afternoon replacement. “Sit down,” she commanded. I obeyed.
“It is not so much something I regret doing, but rather what I regret not doing, Şirinevler escort even when I knew better.” I imagined she had witnessed a murder and chose not to tell anyone.
“Yes, I knew better,” she said with a rueful tone. “You see, I led them on. There were three of them. Sailors they were. Then, I couldn’t stop it. And I never told a soul.”
“You were raped?” I gasped. This was more than even Pastor Jim had bargained for.
“Raped?” she laughed. “Heaven’s no, honey. You can’t rape the willing!”
Seeing the relieved but puzzled look on my face, she smiled. Pausing to look around the room to see which of her fellow Valley Manor residents might be in earshot, she said softly, “Let me tell you a story.”
* * *
I was forty-six years old before I had my first orgasm. I wasn’t really the revolutionary type back then. Couldn’t understand all those young people and their protests and sit-ins and burning down our cities, and all of that. I just wished they would leave us alone, but you couldn’t escape. It was on the news all the time. I can’t imagine what that poor Walter Cronkite must have felt having to read that on the television every single night.
I guess maybe I was just born too soon to be part of that whole wave. By the time that so-called sexual revolution came along, I was almost too old to pick up my children from kindergarten, much less pick up some long-haired hippy freak for a quickie in the back of a van. I mean, my tits were starting to sag and they were whipping theirs out all over the place.
But I guess they wore me down. I started to wonder if there was something more to this sex thing than what I was having with Harry. I mean, I wasn’t a complete prude. I let Harry put himself in from behind a few times and he seemed to enjoy it. I think they called that doggie-style or something, I don’t remember. Anyway, sex with Harry wasn’t bad. At least I didn’t think it was bad, but what did I know? That’s what I was beginning to think.
And there was that word people kept using: orgasm. Orgasm this, orgasm that. Orgasm, orgasmic, orgy, oppression, all their words seemed to begin with the letter “O”. The “Big O,” I remember people calling it. And so one day after Harry had left for the office and the kids were on the school bus I looked it up in the dictionary. I don’t remember the exact definition it gave but I remember being drawn to one of the words there: climax. I thought I knew what that word meant.
* * *
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Eighty-nine year old Hazel Chandler talking about her tits and orgies!
“Are you sure you want to be telling me about this?” I interrupted.
“Yes, dear,” she said matter-of-factly. “I have to tell someone. Before it is too late.” So Pastor Jim was right.
And she continued.
* * *
Like I was saying, this word “climax” intrigued me. And it was a lot less embarrassing to use, not that I talked to anyone about it, but I did sort of imagine having conversations that might use the word “climax,” like if one of those stoned girls in the street might have tried to make me talk about that sexual revolution. I think I even worked it into some of our dinnertime conversations to see if Harry would raise an eyebrow. But he never did.
I had learned from the dictionary that Harry had climaxed. I mean, I got pregnant and everything, but I was beginning to wonder if I had ever, you know, climaxed. And to tell you the truth, it was starting to bother me, not knowing. It felt good when Harry and I would have sex, but “climax” seemed like a much bigger conclusion to the whole thing than I ever seemed to have. I mean there was nothing climactic to it, if you know what I mean. And it’s not like we had sex very often. He worked very hard, and travelled a lot. And there were the kids. It was a different time than now.
There were times I really wanted to talk to Harry about it, but I just couldn’t. I mean, he heard the same news I did, and he never said a word about it. I really kind of felt very alone for a few months there. Not empty, mind you, but alone, alone with my questions.
Well, one day, I finally just decided I’d better get this worked out, or it was going to drive me nuts. But I didn’t have a clue where to begin. Then I remembered driving downtown through what they used to call the red light district, where prostitutes were supposed to hang out. Once or twice I had seen them kind of hiding in doorways, but they never came out when the lights were red. But there were also a bunch of bars along that stretch of road, and that was where they must hang out, those hookers, so I figured maybe I should try to learn from someone who should know what they were talking about. I know it sounds crazy, but I just couldn’t talk about it with any of my friends, including your mother, God rest her soul. Where else could I go?
And so I went. There was this place called the Evergreen and it looked a little less, how shall I say, shoddy, than Ataköy escort the rest? So once when Harry was away on one of his trips, and his mother had taken the kids to their bungalow for the weekend, I finally summoned the nerve, and got ready to go. I figured I should look decent, so I spent a while and finally found a dress that I hoped wouldn’t be too out of place. I had no idea, really, how you would dress for one of those places, but I did my best. And I think I had a drink or two while I was getting ready, in case I lost my nerve. I mean, here I was, a forty-six year old wife and mother sneaking out to some seedy bar downtown to ask some hookers about what a climax was like! God, that was insane!
* * *
Insane was only beginning to describe how I felt as Hazel told me her story. It was insane for me to be here, for her to tell me all this, insane for me to think that all this happened when I was what, six years old? Where was my mother hanging out back then? At Bernie’s, the bar that used to be next to the Evergreen?
“Hazel, I really think that is enough for today,” I said. I really needed to get out of there.
“Oh no, you don’t!” She scolded me. “You asked. Now sit down.” I obeyed once again.
* * *
Like I was saying, I was so afraid I would lose my nerve on the way, I poured myself a cocktail while I got dressed. And then another. I probably shouldn’t even have been driving, but I knew that if I didn’t go that very night, I would never go. So I went.
I remember there was a parking space right out front, so I took it. I can’t believe I wasn’t worried someone would recognize our car, but I guess I wasn’t thinking as clearly as usual from the booze. My hand was shaking so hard that I could barely open the door. But then, someone leaving opened it from the inside and there I was suddenly standing in the open doorway and I thought every eye in the place must be on me and my dress, which I was sure must have totally given me away as being in the wrong place.
I guess I didn’t really have to worry about that because there wasn’t anyone there! Just the bartender. I think maybe that is why I stayed, since there was no one to see me. So I sat in a booth where I could see the door and I ordered another drink, a gin and tonic, I think.
And then it happened. I saw my first hooker. She was a black woman with kind of wild hair and leather pants, and she sat down at the bar. I noticed her and the bartender looking in my direction with smiles on their faces. What trouble was I getting myself into?
Pretty soon another woman came in, a blond in a short skirt, loose top, and streaky makeup. I was clearly overdressed. She joined the other hooker at the bar and began sipping a drink. So the hookers were here. Would there be any men? I think they called them johns back then?
I was watching the door so intently to see if any men would show up, and what they would do, that I didn’t notice the two women until they were seating themselves in my booth. I was so startled, I spilled what was left of my drink, and so I grabbed some napkins and frantically started cleaning up the mess. That’s when the black woman put her hand on my arm and said, “Relax, lady. There’s always more booze here somewhere. You want another one?”
I guess I said yes, because the bartender brought over another really big gin and tonic while we finished cleaning up the spill. I remember that there were three ice cubes. Isn’t that a funny thing to remember?
“Hey,” the blonde said finally. “Are you looking for a little of this?” she asked while revealing a quite a bit more of her tits by opening up her shirt with her thumb.
“This?” I asked. I was so stupid.
“Yeah, this,” she sneered. “Are you looking for some pussy or not? I mean, that’s why people come here, ya know.” Boy, did I have a lot to learn.
It was now or never, I thought. So I announced, as carefully as I could, given how much I had already drunk, “No, I am not looking for Pussy, whoever she is. I want to learn about climaxing,” and they roared with laughter.
* * *
I laughed too, and Hazel started laughing at the memory of it. Maybe I could stay a little longer.
“And so what did they tell you about climaxing?” I asked with more interest that I should have as a visitor from the church.
“Oh, they told me a lot,” she said seriously.
* * *
So the black woman’s name was Pip, and the blonde was Tanya, and they were very kind to me. Once they realized that I was not some suburban lesbian looking for some action, they had mercy on me and told me everything I wanted to know. But boy did I struggle with that vocabulary! They kept talking about cocks and cunts, and cumming and blow jobs and eating pussy. I thought I was in a foreign country! I learned about ass fucking, and the difference between dildos and vibrators. Honestly, I think they were just trying to shock me, and it was working. Between this bewildering amount of information and my Bakırköy escort fifth drink, my head was spinning. We were having a great time.
Seeing as how they were being so nice to me, I guess I was feeling at ease enough to finally ask, “So, what do I need to do to climax?”
“Honey, all you have to do is stick your hand down your panties, and give that thing a tickle,” said Tanya knowingly.
“What thing?” I asked.
“Your clit,” she said, “that button at the top of your pussy.”
And as soon as she said that, I realized that indeed I was suddenly feeling something quite like a button that needed to be pushed. I had been so busy paying attention and learning, that my mind was the only part in gear. Suddenly, my body was catching up.
* * *
And so was mine. At first my mind was racing to process words like cock and pussy and ass-fucking coming out of the mouth of an eighty-nine year old woman in a wheelchair, but as her story continued, suddenly I recognized the first signs of wetness in my own crotch. I wasn’t sure which was more shocking, her story, or the fact that it was beginning to turn me on.
“So you went home and had sex with Harry, right?” I said, hoping for a quick end of the story that would allow me to escape before any of the other residents, or heaven forbid, Charl, noticed my cheeks flushing and my nipples beginning to harden. I mean, this wasn’t how I’d usually gotten turned on, by porn and the like. Frank was always trying to get me to watch videos or read erotica, but I’d refused.
“No, silly. I told you he was out of town. I met those sailors instead.”
“The sailors?” I asked a little too loudly. “All three of them? I thought you meant you’d had three affairs through the years.”
“No honey, they were all on just one night.”
“I need a drink of water,” I said and this time she didn’t tell me to sit down. I went to the water cooler with my head absolutely spinning, but telling myself that someone needed to hear the poor woman out, you know, before it was too late. When I returned and sat down, she began again.
* * *
So I went to the bathroom at the Evergreen, closed the door to the stall, and that’s where I had my first orgasm. At the age of forty-six. I sat there with my dress pulled up around me and I thought about what I had done with Harry so many times before, combined with all this new stuff Pip and Tanya were telling me, and before I knew it, I had my own sexual revolution, and I climaxed.
When I came out of the bathroom, they were laughing so hard they probably peed themselves. I must have looked like a wild-eyed virgin on her wedding night. “So,” Pip said, “everything go OK in there?” and then they started howling again.
“I think so,” I tried to say with a straight face.
And just then, the door opened and three young men walked in.
“Are those all johns?” I whispered to Pip and Tanya.
“No, I think their names are Tom, Dick, and Harry,” Tanya replied, and they burst into laughter again.
“Are they looking for sex?”
“I’m pretty sure they are,” said Pip with a smirk. “Why don’t you go ask them?”
I was going to protest that I could never do such a thing, but they came right over to the booth and asked if they could sit with us. Pip said sure, so they asked what we were drinking and went off to the bar to order the drinks. As they waited for the bartender, Tanya asked me, “Do you want to have a little fun? Why don’t you pretend you are one of us, just until things get rolling? We’ll take it from there.”
Alcohol can make you do some pretty risky things. It made me say yes to their silly plan, and the next thing I knew, Jake, Thomas, and Marshall, those were their names, were sitting with what they thought were three prostitutes. They were just kids, really, and sailors, like I said, out for a night on the town. They looked innocent enough, although it looked like Marshall might have had a little more experience than the others. He kept looking at me intently in the eye.
We carried on for a while, flirting and drinking. I used the word cunt for the first time when Jake asked me what my favorite word was for my vagina because I couldn’t really remember any of the other words I had just learned. Their attention flattered me and I began to feel quite warm and relaxed, and my clitoris began to call my attention once again. I was sure this social time was just for my benefit. Pip and Tanya didn’t get paid to socialize. Even back then, I knew that prostitutes weren’t in the game for the sex, but they were playing along for me, and I was enjoying it.
And there we all were when Marshall suddenly turned to me and said, “Why don’t we continue this party somewhere more comfortable?” as if I were in charge of the negotiations! I looked to Pip for help who said, “Yeah, we know a place.” And the next thing you know, we are walking down the street, each of us with a sailor on each on our arm, as if we were going to the movies. If you didn’t know what was supposed to happen next, you’d think it was pretty sweet.
But Pip and Tanya stopped us at a little hotel a couple of blocks from the Evergreen. And I realized that it was time for them to do their jobs and me to go home, now that I had, you know, climaxed and all.
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