The day Kalila died was perfect, right up ‘til they found her dead in her stall.
--I like you! Bethany said to him that hot August morning after he’d been working with the horse for about an hour. This was convenient, because Gabilan liked Bethany too. A lot. She had brought a glass of lemonade down to the paddock.
--Hey! she said, smiling. Such beautiful teeth. Gotta take a break for a minute. Here.
And he drank deep.
It was the way the sun fell across her broad strong forehead, and the way the freckles waltzed across her nose. It was the way she had her impossibly thick curly chestnut hair pulled back tight at her neck, which was damp with perspiration, and the way she stepped right up to him and took his head in her hands and kissed him long and hard, and her breasts pressed against him, and her pelvis was insistent and inviting. And her breath was sweet, her tongue agile, inquisitive. She managed to make her desire known most in a most persuasive way.
Bethany was a tough strong woman who was used to getting her way, a woman, to Gabilan’s way of thinking, much like a man. She was not conventionally beautiful by any means, as if “conventional” played any part in Gabilan’s view of the world in the first place.
She took his hand and led him immediately back up the hill to the house. His erection was excruciating; his brain was on fire: the breadth of her ass, the denim music of its back and forth, the heavy horsewoman muscles in her thighs and calves.
The two dogs stared at them as they negotiated the breezeway between the garage and the back door. She made a point of washing their hands, entwined in the sink in the wet room, slippery, soft, wet, fragrant a soap made with patchouli. It was holy and momentous; anticipatory, somehow inevitable.
Bethany’s house was beautiful. She had a way of doing everything just so, and the artfulness of the space was extraordinary. Her bedroom was like something in a fairy tale, all soft and embroidered, damask and silk, light and shadow. Incense was burning, candles had been lit. It was no spur-of-the-moment seduction that she had engineered.
She let go of his hand, turned to face him. She smiled, mysterious and hypnotic, and began to unbutton her blouse, blue, cambric, like in the song. As she revealed her breasts to him, and they were magnificent, heavy, again sun-kissed, Gabilan noticed for the first time that there was music playing on the big stereo in the other room, something classical it was, violins and a cello, music that sounded like an intimate conversation between two long-married couples.
She cupped her breasts the way women can, proud, declarative:
--You like? she said, head to one side in the most endearing way.
--Oh yes he said, and he took her in his arms, kissed her neck, buried himself in her hair, traced a line along her neck down to the hollow between her breasts, so warm, fragrant.
Bethany unbuttoned his shirt, nuzzled his chest, seemed to intuit how much he liked her lips there.
And then there was the rest: his belt buckle, easily accounted for; the way her jeans came unfastened, and her grove of dark hair revealed itself; how she liked his tongue on her as he ran his hands over her hips and her legs, a little bristly, the way he liked them.
They took it all very very slow, making love the way two people should, the way you read about in books but almost never experience in Real Life, because the ego is so often in charge of such matters. And when, finally it was time and there was no other alternative, they came together, as though this was something they had been rehearsing all their lives and finally were willing to premier for the entire world to see.
Bethany made lunch, naked—the day had grown very hot—while he pressed himself against her, cupping her breasts, licking his way along the back of her neck, nuzzling her scapulae, taking note, once again, how freckled her pale Scot-Irish skin was. And soft. So soft….At the cleft of her behind he marveled upon the swampy comingling of wetness and scents.
And that was just the beginning. They spent the rest of the afternoon in bed, stopped just long enough to feed the horses, returned to bed and made love till dawn, which is when they discovered Kalila in her stall, just as quick as that.
They never really talked about it, merely repeated the good parts of the day again and again, simply because it was good and because it was somehow fitting that they celebrate life in such a fashion.
But talking was not part of it. And they seldom shared a meal after that first lunch. Gabilan was never invited to town for Sunday brunch with her friends, they never ordered a pizza, or went out for a beer. In time he began to feel something like just another animal on the ranch helping to fulfill Bethany’s idea of what it meant to be a woman who knew her own mind and could do anything she set that mind to.
In the end he guessed it was the fucking that meant the most to her. So they fucked all the time for a while, and then it stopped--when the black Mercedes parked in the shade of the overhang of the garage. But in the year since the day of the lemonade, Gabilan had spent many nights alone, wondering what might have happened if the great red Arabian had not left them that very first morning after.
--So word on the street is Gab’s tapped that, Rafe said to Cristobal, gazing past the grape arbor to the arroyo and beyond, where Bethany was saddling Blanche.
--Can’t blame him for that said Cristobal, straightening, and pushing his boonie hat back to mop his face with his O.D. handkerchief. She’ like t’ break my back, though. Too used to horses, ya dig?
--Can’t compete with no horse, I reckon.
--There it is.
--You know, said Rafe, I don’t believe I remember the last bit a ‘tang I had. Shit.
--You booze, you lose, bro. I be fuckin’ from memory myself, I had the chance.
--I think it musta been Suzie, that punk chick at the VA that time? The E-6? I think they kicked us both out.
Rafe had screwed his face into a fierce mask of consternation. He was playing with far less than a full deck.
--Hey, he finally said, you really buy the whole ”wait a year” thing they talk about? At meetings?
--I can guarandamntee you, said Cristobal. A woman will fuck with your sobriety—
Rafe nodded, sure about that.
--More than skag he said.
--More than fuckin’ Thunderbird, my brother! Tell me the truth: you never NOT drunk cause of a woman?
Rafe thought that one through a minute.
--No, he said morosely, I have always needed me some wine, spodie odie.
--Yep, said Cristobal. My momma used to call that Dutch Courage.
--You know…how you don’t feel right, les’ yer a little looped.
--I allus felt that way.
--That’s what I’m sayin! said Cristobal. Damn, you one stupid rummy.
Rafe considered that a long time. Finally:
--Still like t’ tap me that rancher lady though. That Bethany Bryne. I be burnin’ for her.
--You’ burn in Hell, nigger. What they call that, they call that expensive yingyang.
--You will lose your soul.
to be continued...
Intruso, an addictively postmodern love story:
- Her voice was shiny
- Timed Writing
- On Location
- In the Beginning was Rock n Roll
- Cell Phone Interruptus
- The Hooch
- Blackbirds at One O'Clock
- Probiotics and the Muse
- Email by Rodney Strong
- Dope and Flax Seed
- Free to a God Home
- Lemonade and Consequences