Slowly braising in sun tan oil on this unclouded day, visions of melanoma danced in his head. My problem, he thought, you know what my problem is, I lack gratitude. That's my problem. If I could just learn to be grateful I would find happiness with what I have. I should read a book. Somewhere there's a book on this gratitude.
He reached down and moved his penis to one side to let it tan on the other.
A shadow passed over him. He smiled. Loving fingers, strong and knowing picked up the tense knot of his shoulders, lifted, squeezed, kneaded with thumbs and let them fall.
Maybe its status. Or maybe I think too much about status. Maybe that's my problem.
The hands picked up his shoulders again, kneaded the tension out of them, palmed the skin of his neck and behind his ear, lovingly, circled back to his shoulders, lifted, squeezed and released.
A cool sea breeze from the surf off his private stretch of beach property moved over him bringing the scent of sweet coconut oil and salt water. He opened his eyes under his sunglasses and held out his hand. He snapped his fingers. The shadow went away, returned and placed a cool plastic cup in his hand. There was no straw. He held it up and pointed. "Hey. Straw." He tapped the glass and stuck out his lips and made smoochy noises. "Straw."
The shadow passed over him again and put a straw in his glass. He put the straw to his lips. The shadow padded through the white sand to the igloo cooler filled with fresh fruit on ice. He heard the sounds of her hand rummaging through the ice water. The ice cubes rattled as he sipped at the bourbon and tea and he felt himself begin to drowse in the heat.
Of course I have stress. Screwing widows and orphans and defending sons of bitches in wool suits is stressful. But what chafes my fanny is that after a while the money stops existing and it just becomes a score on a board. What you want is true love. Yes, I should read a book. True love. And Mindfulness. They must be connected. My real problem is that I always -
A wet, ice cold fist clamped around his cock.
"Ahh! Holy shit!"
A female voice screamed happily, laughing and hooting as she jumped out of his reach.
"Pinky! You did that on purpose. Daddy's going to spank your ass."
By the cooler a sweet young thing, not so much a woman as a female, capered and laughed, shrieking and pointing. She was short and slender, with light brown skin thinly covered in fine dark hair - and nothing else at the moment - a little over five feet tall when she stood upright, though she tended to stoop slightly when she walked at his side. Her unruly hair was distinctly wooly and thick, and her face square as a block with a pugnacious jaw and thick wide lips. Her eyes were blue and shining with mischief under thick powerful brows looking like a sexy, tough Italian peasant with large nippled rounded breasts. She was far stronger than the skinny waif she appeared. The muscle structure of a Homo Erectus, male or female, was fundamentally different from a Homo Sapiens, closer to that of a chimpanzee. Sapiens men underestimated her and she had won money for him in bars at arm wrestling.
He fished out an ice cube from the glass and threw it at her. She had been snacking on an apple. She threw the core at him and shouted something in that high voice. He picked up the core from the sand and threw at her and she caught it. She threw it and it hit him in the face knocking his sunglasses away. He set his glass down and sat up, blinking and holding his hand against his eye.
She cooed in her worry-voice and scurried over to him. She nuzzled him and brushed her thick lips against his. Gently she pulled his hand away from his eye and examined it. She chittered and brushed the sand away as he blinked. He felt her other hand drift down between his legs and console him there. "Yes, I think you owe me an apology," he said as he drew her close to him. She sniffed at him, sniffed his face, his ear, took his ear lobe between her lips and held it gently with her teeth. She ran her fingers through his hair, affectionately grooming him as her hand played with him below.
She expertly curled her fingers around his stiffening phallus and let go of his ear. He sighed affectionately as her warm breath brushed his face. She whispered love sounds to him. She put her lips to his ear. "Wow-wha."
She put her forehead against his head and pressed, the cave woman way of kissing. He rubbed his head against her. "Where's my little apology?"
She scooted down and rubbed her forehead against his belly. He spread his legs. She ducked down further and he felt her lips kiss his balls and then her thick hot tongue lick his rigid phallus. He closed his eyes in bliss, put the drink straw to his lips and sipped the coolness as she took him in her mouth and rolled and rolled and rolled her tongue around his throbbing boner in a way Angela never did and never would.
"Come lay down," he said, stretching out on the beach towel. "Come lay down with daddy."
She straddled him and spit in her hand twice. She rubbed the thick spit on his phallus to lubricate it as he sighed and lifted his head to watch what she was doing. "Come on Pinky. Daddy's waiting for his apology. Yes he is."
She mounted him.
She slipped him deep inside.
She began the act of apologizing. Far away, beyond her bobbing shoulder, he heard a screen door slam.
About a century ago the perfectly preserved bodies of a tribe of cave people had been found in Madagascar, in a cavern that had been sealed off for hundreds of millennia after a landslide. Toxic volcanic gases had displaced the oxygen, killing off the tribe but saving their bodies so perfectly that a genome project had been able to resurrect this lost species of Home Erectus by mapping and recreating the DNA. Immediately their money minded modern counterparts began to explore what commercial uses semi-human humans could be put to without much offending the civilized conscience. Their sensitive, exuberant and startlingly intelligent natures made them exquisite, highly prized companions, far beyond mere domestic animals. And - when properly dressed for dinner - they were delicious.
One night during the early experimental stages of the Hominid Genome Project a virile young undergraduate was alone on the graveyard shift with one of the first generation Homo Erectus females, an assertive adolescent named Lucy. While preparing a dinner bowl of fresh fruit salad, the gentle Erectus folk were solid vegetarians, he had been eating a chocolate bar. Lucy put her long arms around him affectionately and sniffed at it. She made begging sounds and held out her hand. He gave her his candy bar. She ate it with excitement and held out her hand for more. He refused. She grasped his hand and firmly led him over to her soft bedding in the corner and then made him an offer he wouldn't refuse. It was in the interest of science he told himself as he moaned and felt his sweet release inside the hairy and eager virgin's tight depths. By the third time they coupled he knew it was no longer about science. When the morning shift came in, Lucy was cheerfully munching through her fifth chocolate bar from the vending machine and the exhausted young man could hardly walk. Lucy had assured the survival of her people for all time. Homo Erectus were talented at something for which there was a thriving demand.
"Oh Pinky . . . Oh Pinky, Daddy loves his Pinky. Come on, Pinky. Who's a good girl? Who's a good girl? Yeah, baby. That's the way. Who's a good girl?"
Her eyes went slightly crossed and stared straight ahead. Her lips suddenly pursed into the reflex round pucker, what commercial hominid breeders called "the O face". He felt the gorgeous shiver of her orgasm below, once, twice around his cock, pushing him along to the edge with her.
"Huh? Huh? Who's a good girl? Who's daddy's good girl? Huh! You're my good girl."
The sharp female voice was coming from behind him.
"Angie. Jesus. Wait."
"We need to talk."
"I'm gonna pop. Oh God. Wait."
"Dan! Stop fucking that damn monkey for two seconds. I'm asking you nice."
However the damage was done. Pinky stopped her thrusting motion but stayed perched on top of him, looking up at her rival. She wiggled her hips in defiance but Dan growled as his erection deserted him.
"Goddamn it Angie, can't a guy get his nut off around here?"
"Your office called."
"Fuck, not now." But Pinky had lifted off and dismounted. She hobbled off to the fruit cooler and squatted on her haunches sulking. "What's so damn important it can't wait? Or you just can't stand to see me have a little fun?"
"Your law partner called, oh you remember them right? The guys you earn a living with? The people who pay for all this?
"I pay for all this."
"They want to know where you've been for the last week."
"You told them you were on vacation. That's what you told me. They didn't know anything about it."
"I just . . . It's just . . .I can't."
"Can't go back."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I get tired sometimes. I hate my job. I hate them." He stopped the next words from coming out of his mouth - I hate you. Legal wife and help mate and co signer of a truly devastating prenuptial agreement.
"So you're doing what, you're having a mid-life crisis? Is that why we bought that?" She jerked a thumb towards Pinky. "Your monkey fucker? You can't buy a big dirty motorcycle like everybody else?"
"She's a pure bred Erectus Africanensis . She's just as human as you are. Maybe more. Anyway, she got sand in my eye and she was saying she was sorry."
"I don't fuck a guy to say I'm sorry."
"Try it some time."
"She was into it!"
"Why not? When was the last time you were?"
"You want to know when? Someday. That's when. Someday when your little tramp is gone, the next hominid is mine. I want an Iberian Blue, one that's hung like a horse, I swear to god and I'm going to make you watch us go at it like bunnies and see how you like it."
"You'll castrate the poor little bastard. Just like me."
"I'm that far - " she held out two fingers an inch apart. " - I'm that far from divorcing your ass. When are you going to get a clue?"
"I had a clue once, Angie. When I was a poor kid in the Bronx I once had this clue. It was a beautiful clue. A brilliant, shining clue. And now I'm fucked. How did that happen to me? I lie here on my nice little beach with my Bourbon and tea and I ask myself where did my clue go? What'd I ever do? How did that happen to me, Angie?"
"Who gives a fuck about your little self pitying clue? You need to wash the monkey sweat off your dick and get in this house and call these people back and tell them you were dying from a deadly disease or in coma or something, but you need to be a man and stop acting like a spoiled baby."
He glanced over at Pinky. She wasn't angry. He had never seen her angry. She was troubled. She looked upset. She didn't like raised voices or hostile body language. She couldn't speak but it was obvious she understood. He held up his hand and made a sign to her. Carry the stuff in. She nodded and stood up. He rolled his eyes and smiled for her, a shit eating grin that was supposed to say Don't Worry About Daddy. But he could see she worried. She was worried a lot about Daddy.
On Monday afternoon, inside the office, while leafing through a pile of documents on his screen, his cell phone buzzed. North Memorial emergency calling. It was his wife. She had been attacked.
He raced to the hospital and to the information window. The receptionist waved him down the hall. He found her laying in the intensive care ward with a cotton patch taped over her eye and stitches leading under it.
Her other eye saw him enter the room with a cold indifference and he saw the IV drip on her arm. She seemed almost cheerful. Those must be good drugs, he thought.
"What happened honey? Are you all right?"
She held up two fingers. Now they were touching. "Countdown is this far minus zero from divorcing your ass. She did this. With her fingernails. They saved the eye. Your girlfriend goes. Or I go. There's only room in this house for one alpha female, and I'm it. Handle it. Or I'll be so far up your ass you'll be living out of a dumpster." She rolled over and turned her back to him.
The roads frayed ribbon strung through the green hills that bulleted by as he stared straight ahead with tears in his eyes. The roadsides were lined with white picket fences behind which horses grazed. Pinky did not so much sit in the passenger seat as occupy it the way a big dog might, unbuckled, the window of the Porsche rolled down and her head far out in the wind that blew back her wiry hair and flapped the sleeves of her simple red flowered dress. She grinned into the wind showing big square teeth. He imagined driving close to a tree where a low hanging branch might strike her head off. Or driving the Porsche fast into something and her unrestrained body hitting the windshield and killing her instantly. Anything but this.
As they passed a limpid lake he swung off on a dirt road and drove far out of sight. When he was sure they would be alone he pulled into a patch of weeds near the water's edge and turned off the engine.
Pinky had done this before, parking together in quiet spots late at night; kissing and petting and then frantically copulating in the back seat like a couple of kids under the stars. She hopped across the gearshift and put her head in his lap.
"No honey," he said. "Maybe time for that later. We're going to have a picnic."
The sound of his voice, the timbre of it made her look up in concern. She tuned his mood like radar and looked into his eyes searching for something there.
"Don't worry baby," he said. "Everything's all right. Let's go." He waved his hand. "Shoo. Out."
She opened the door, clambered out and closed it. While he went around to the trunk, she walked to the water and found wild flowers growing. He opened the trunk and took out a wicker picnic basket, a blanket and big utility bag. He closed the trunk and she was standing right there holding out a fistful of purple flowers to him. He set the bags down and took the flowers. He took out the largest and reached over and laced it behind her ear. "Come on," he said.
By the water, in the shade of a tree he spread out the blanket for her. She settled down on the blanket holding the flowers to her face and picking at them. He opened the wicker basket and took out a papaya. She turned at the scent and looked at him. He held it out. "For you, baby. I know you like these." She put the flowers down and took the papaya and sniffed it. She took a bite from it and turned to watch a mother duck and four ducklings glide across the water. She pointed and huffed.
"I see them," he said as he unzipped the utility bag. Inside was a folded body bag. He unzipped the body bag and took out a black Smith and Wesson.
She was looking at him when he came up to her and sat down next to her. She looked at the gun. She had never seen one before. She looked in his eyes. "Wow-wha," she said softly, and touched her forehead to his cheek. "Wow-wha," she said again.
He pressed the round muzzle of the barrel between her thick beetled brows and pulled back the hammer with his thumb.
"Wow-wha," he whispered.
"I don't believe in God, but this meat is heaven."
Ralph nodded at his wife. "Great rib roast, Dan. I've heard hominids were good, I didn't know they were this good. Tastes just like roast pork."
"I thought they were supposed to be a little stringy," said his wife Judy. "She's not stringy at all."
"It's just fundamental barbecue," said Dan, basking in the glow of their pleasure. "Low and slow. That's how you roast. Low and slow. Shiraz?" He held up the bottle of wine.
"White wine with poultry. Red wine with beef and Erectus," said Judy, holding out her glass to be filled.
"They eat dogs in Korea," said Ralph.
"Shut up!" said Judy. "I'm sorry Dan, this guy."
"They do!" said Ralph. "What's wrong with eating an animal you knew personally?"
"You must miss her terribly," said Judy.
"The house is quieter at least. Can't have two alpha females around. It gets ugly."
"But this is delicious," said Ralph. "And expensive I'll bet."
"They don't eat meat do they?"
"No," said Dan. "Lucky for us."
They laughed. "You should see a marriage counselor. Can't you get Angie back? You belong together.."
"Irreconcilable differences," said Dan cutting a piece of meat and putting it in his mouth.
"Well," said Ralph. "This meat is really delicious. Now I know why hominid is so expensive."
The door to the kitchen opened and Pinky came in wearing a pink frock with daisies and a bright red apron with her name on it. She was carrying a tray of fruit and set it on the table.
"Sit next to Daddy," said Dan patting the chair next to him. She pulled back her chair gracefully and sat. "Wow-wha," he said, blowing her a kiss.
"She's a sexy little honey," said Ralph. "When can I get a go at her?"
"Well, that's up to her," said Dan nodding at Judy. "Pinky's not fussy."
"You really miss mommy don't you?" said Judy, speaking to Pinky. Pinky looked at her blankly. "Where did she go?"
"Oh. Some place nice. A big farm in the country her family owns. Lots of space to jog in. Such a health nut. I'm sure she's happier where she is now with all that open space." He speared another piece of rib roast and lifted it to his lips. "You know," he said softly, "Really one hominid species tastes pretty much like another."
He whispered to the piece of meat trembling on the end of his fork. "Mommy go bye-bye."