Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

Cattail
Wes Boyd
2010, 2011



Chapter 3

It may have been November, but this was southern Mississippi after all, so by the time it was getting too dark to see each other clearly, they were spending more time swatting mosquitoes than they were talking. Finally, Roger offered, "Catalina, I don't know if you've eaten yet, and I know I haven't. Let's head inside, get out of the bugs and into the air conditioning. I'll throw something in the microwave. It'll be out of a can, but we can eat it."

"Cans don't bother me," she replied. "I've mostly lived alone and don't get all that big a thrill out of cooking something elaborate for myself. I've had a lot of suppers of ramen noodles over the years."

"Same here," he smiled as he got up. "Although I don't care much for ramen noodles. I'm normally pretty big on Lean Cuisine but don't have the freezer space here."

"A man after my own taste," she smiled as she got up. "In the states, my dinners are mostly by Dinty Moore, Chef Boyardee, or Hormel."

Roger let her go ahead of him as they went into the RV. It was the first time he had a look at her back in the swimsuit -- and was surprised to see a large and elaborate black tattoo there: a pair of cattails blowing in the wind, all done in black. The pods were up just below her left shoulder; the stalks curved well onto her right side before they turned back to the center. Just judging from the curve as it dove below the swimsuit, it looked like the stalks would come out of the crack of her ass. Several leaves took that windblown curve halfway up onto her back. "Nice tat," he commented.

"Thanks," she smiled. "I kind of like it."

Roger was normally not much on tattoos -- he'd seen too much crap on guys in the plant, Confederate flags, Dale Earnhardt "3"s, and other inane stuff. But this was something different. It was art, reserved, elegant, well-stated. Once again, he was impressed, but he didn't want to stare. It was with some effort that he turned his head away to a cupboard and asked, "So how about letting Dinty Moore be the cook tonight?"

"Fine with me," she said. "I'm hungry."

"It'll take a few minutes, the microwave isn't real powerful," he said, pulling a couple cans out and reaching for the can opener. That wasn't enough to get her tattoo out of his mind. "Just out of curiosity, what made you get a tat like that?"

"Oh, that's a long story," she said. "You read much?"

"Quite a bit," Roger told her. "Especially the last few years."

"I do, too," Catalina nodded. "It gets lonely sometimes in a place like Pusan, and it always helps if there are books to turn to. Well, a few years ago I got to reading a fantasy book by Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel's Dart."

"Never heard of it," he replied as he hunted for the large microwave bowl. "But I don't usually read that kind of stuff."

"This is really involved and really good, and a lot about the main character, Phadre, really rung well with me. The gal in the cover painting even looks a lot like a younger me. Without going into the complications, she has this really elaborate back tattoo that's actually a symbol indicating she's bought her way out of bondage, and it really means a lot to her, a real point of pride. I got turned onto the book by the guy I was more or less living with at the time, and I told him I thought it would be really cool. So one night, just for fun, he painted a version of Phadre's marque on my back, in poster paint. Well, that was cool, but a marque has to be personalized. He's sort of an artist, and I had some ideas, and over a period of time we worked it out. He did my back in poster paint several times before he got it where we both liked it. I still wasn't sure about it, so he did it again in permanent marker. After a while that started to fade, so I just went apeshit one night and had it made permanent by a guy who ran a tattoo shop in the neighborhood. That was in Pusan about a year and a half ago where I was teaching."

"Well, it looks real nice, what I can see of it," Roger smiled, not really wanting to make a big deal of it. "A bunch of it has to be under your swimsuit."

"Oh, I don't mind showing it off," she laughed and turned around so her back was to him. She pulled the straps of her one-piece off her shoulders and slid them down her arms, then slid the suit and her shorts down to expose her whole butt. "I guess I'm a bit of an exhibitionist. One of those places I mentioned I worked at was a nudist resort in California."

"Very nice," Roger commented, not specifying exactly what he was talking about. He noticed that the cattail stalks did indeed end well down in the crack of her ass, but was really more appreciative of her nice butt. Under the circumstances he knew enough not to push it.

"I really figured Mom would freak when she saw it, but she thinks it's real nice," Catalina replied, pulling the swimsuit and shorts back up as he turned to get the microwave going. "My dad probably wouldn't have been too cool with it while he was still alive; his family is fairly straight, but he pretty much always wound up doing what Mom and I wanted, anyway."

"Yeah," he sighed. "I know exactly how that works. I always seemed to wind up doing what my wife wanted." He drained the beer that he had been nursing for a while and decided he could handle one more, so got one from the refrigerator and went to sit across the dinette table from Catalina. He knew he would be there for a while; in normal circumstances it doesn't take long to heat up a couple cans of beef stew, in practice the microwave was so small and weak that it would take a few minutes.

"You've got Michigan plates on this van," she said to change the subject. "Is that where you're from?"

People from Michigan have a sort of recognition signal. If you ask someone where they're from in the state, and if a true Michiganian they're likely to hold up their right hand, thumb out a little. The palm makes a pretty good map of the Lower Peninsula, and there's a way to do the Upper Peninsula with the left hand. He pointed down toward the right of center of the heel of his Lower Peninsula hand and said "Wychbold, down about here."

"Hi, neighbor," she smiled, "I'm from Amherst." It was a town about the same size as Wychbold's 2500 people, perhaps thirty miles to the west.

"Another touch of home," he laughed. "I spent my first month or so down here working with an Amish crew from Shipshewana."

They sat exchanging hometown details for a while. It turned out that while she called Amherst home, she really didn't live there much. "Base out of there" would be a better term -- she left stuff at her widowed mother's house when she was out and around, and sometimes it was a couple years between visits. They talked about other things, too -- they both agreed George Bush was an incompetent idiot at best and the way he'd loused up the Katrina recovery efforts proved it if nothing else did. With his daughter in the Air Force Roger was especially sensitive to the way that Bush had loused up things in Iraq.

Eventually it began to smell like the stew was hot, so he got up, turned off the microwave, got out some plates, and dished up dinner. It really didn't take long to finish eating, but that didn't keep them from sitting there in the dinette for the next several hours, just talking and learning about each other. Right from the beginning Roger thought Catalina was a pleasant woman to be with, and he enjoyed hearing her stories.

He told her more about himself, of course, but compared to her he felt his life was drab -- his story could basically be summed up by high school, Army, Ford, family, and retirement. Hers was far more elaborate. He found out she'd never gotten close to getting married -- with a life like she led she knew it would be a struggle to keep a relationship going, so she'd never bothered. That hadn't kept her from having several long-term boyfriends at one place or another, but apparently both sides had gone into it from the start knowing it was not going to be permanent. The guy in Korea was her most recent -- he'd been another English teacher in Pusan. The apartments they were provided with were tiny, not a lot larger than the RV, and after a while she and Chuck worked out a deal to store most of their stuff in one apartment and live in the other. They had a pretty good six or eight months, which included the addition of the cattail tattoo. But his contract ran out and he decided not to renew, so she was pretty much alone the second year of her term there. "I guess I'm pretty much a loner at heart," she explained. "But I occasionally need a fix of American food and unaccented English to keep me going."

Eventually it got late and they got tired -- they'd had a busy day in uncomfortable conditions, and tomorrow didn't promise anything better in either work or weather. Altogether, Roger thought that it was one of the most enjoyable evenings he'd had in a long time and was sorry to see it come to a close. Best of all, he got the impression that she'd enjoyed his company, too.

The next day was even hotter and even more humid, if possible. To make it worse, some of the precut, prefabbed sections didn't quite fit together, so there had to be quite a bit of cutting and fitting. To top it off, there was a small crew that day and they weren't making much progress, especially considering some of the amateur workers weren't much help in the fiddling to make pieces fit. Tempers got a little short, and everyone was glad to see the day come to an end; Roger and Catalina were just as happy to see taillights, leaving them alone at the site. "You up for a shower and a beer again tonight?" he asked her as the last person drove out.

"Jeez, yes," she said, the sweat still running down her face. "How about I provide the food for dinner tonight, just to be fair?"

"Well then, just to be fair, why don't you get your shower first, then you can go find the food while I take mine?"

"How about if I get it now, and I can cook it while you take yours?" she responded. "I want to let that air conditioner work on me for a while. Once I get cooled off I don't know if I want to get back out in this heat."

Once again Roger sat out under the awning, smoking his evening cigarette while sipping a Millers and unwinding, trying to put a tiring and frustrating day into perspective. Though not knowing the area, the heat and humidity seemed unseasonable for November, even for the Gulf Coast. This crap has got to break sometime, he thought. He happened to glance off to the west and thought the sky looked like it might turn threatening and rather hoped it would -- a storm might turn things for the better.

He wasn't out there long enough to finish his beer -- Catalina stuck her head out the door and said, "OK, you're up. I hope I didn't use too much hot water. "

"If you did, I can stand a cold shower," he snorted as he got up. "Anything to cool off."

"Boy, there's no bathing with a friend in that shower, is there?"

"There's just about no bathing by yourself," he laughed at the thought of the two of them in the shower. They might both get inside, but it would be very, very close with hardly even any room for the water.

Roger headed inside to discover that she'd put on a flower print thong bikini. When he looked at her backside there was just about nothing there but thick strings, and it was cut low enough that he could see almost to the base of the cattails on her back. "You look cooler," he smiled.

She flashed a grin at him. "I'll slip on a T-shirt later, but I thought you might like to have a better look at my back," she smirked.

"Interesting," he teased. "But that gives a pretty good view of the front, too."

Roger headed for the back of the RV as she turned toward the kitchen. The night before he had waited outside while she changed clothes just to be gentlemanly, but she showed no sign of doing the same thing. Oh well, he thought, after she had talked about being a nudist last night she's not going to see anything she hasn't seen before, so he guessed he didn't mind. Still, he turned his back as he stripped out of his hot, sweaty work clothes, then headed nude to the shower.

Showering in the RV was never that satisfying an experience, but at least he felt cleaner, cooler, and a lot less sweaty when he got done. He went back by the bed, pulled out a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and put them on. "Gonna have to make a laundry run here pretty soon," he told her. "I'm getting low on clean clothes, and besides, I need to get some gas and dump the holding tank."

"I suppose an RV has got to be more comfortable than a tent," she said as the microwave dinged. "So I suppose there's got to be some price to pay."

"That's not even mentioning gas at over three bucks a gallon," he snorted.

Supper turned out to be beans and franks -- not elegant, but under the circumstances they weren't doing elegant, anyway. It tasted pretty good, and that was all that really mattered.

Once again they talked about one thing and another, home towns, the places she'd been, and he even told some stories from the plant, even though they couldn't compare to the ones she told. It wasn't talk all the time; after a while he got out the cards and they played some gin rummy.

As the evening wore on, they could hear thunder off in the distance, and then getting closer. The storm must have been closer than they thought, for without much warning the sky just opened up and dumped. It really pounded on the roof of the RV, making a huge racket.

"Feels like it's getting cooler," Catalina commented quietly, as if she weren't paying much attention.

"Coming down hard," Roger replied, and added, "Gin."

He dealt again, while the storm continued. The rain continued beating down, and occasionally there would be a lightning flash or a clap of thunder. After a while they put the cards away and made a pot of coffee; Catalina felt cool enough that she finally put on her T-shirt, which deprived him of the view of her nicely shaped breasts barely covered by what passed for a bikini top.

Eventually the rain slowed down, but didn't stop -- it was only a pitter-patter compared to the drenching they'd just gotten, but without what had come earlier they might have thought that it was still coming down pretty hard. They sat for a while and talked some more, and finally it was getting late. "I suppose it's time to hit the hay," Catalina finally yawned.

"Yeah, I'm about ready to turn in myself," Roger agreed.

Catalina started peeling off her T-shirt. Roger couldn't help glance at her -- it was a nice sight. "No point in getting it wet if I don't have to," she grinned. "After all, you're supposed to get a swimsuit wet."

"I don't know if you really want to get that one wet," he teased. "It might dissolve on you."

"Yeah, good point," she smiled, and promptly peeled off the bra. If Roger thought her chest had looked good wearing it, it looked even better with it off. Her breasts were very nice, well rounded, largish and very dark areola, nice firm nipples -- as if he hadn't been aware of that all evening from the way they had tented the thin fabric of the bikini top. His attention was so drawn to her boobs that he barely noticed her saying, "I am a nudist, after all."

With that, she untied one side of the bottoms and let it fall. She caught it with her toe and picked it up, not that he noticed very much, because his attention was drawn right straight to her crotch, which was shaved as bare as could be.

It had been a long time since Roger had been with a naked woman, and even longer if the woman wasn't Colleen. He struggled to try and think of something to say that couldn't be taken wrong, some sort of smart remark that might draw a giggle, but his brain, eyes and tongue were not cooperating very well. Saying nothing worked about as well as anything, because she gave a "Gotcha" smile and giggle and headed for the door, wadded up clothes in her hand.

The door closed behind her before Roger could find any words, and the ones that erupted were "Hooolyyyy shit!!!" Things like that just didn't happen to him. He hardly had the libido of a teenager anymore, but he suspected his right hand was in for a workout about as soon as the lights went out -- and that wouldn't be long.

He picked up the coffee cups and put them in the sink, put the cards back in the drawer along with picking up a few more items before he headed to the back of the RV to start getting ready for bed. He hadn't made it as far as the back of the van when he heard a pounding on the door. Before he could do anything about it, the door opened and a nude and wet Catalina came inside.

"Roger, it's a fucking lake out there!" she cried. "There's at least a couple inches of water in my tent, and my sleeping bag is soaked! Can I stay here tonight?"

"I guess," he told her sympathetically. "The only problem is that the other bed is the one up in the eyebrow over the cab, whatever the hell they call it. It's stacked full of boxes and stuff, so we'll have to get them down first. I think I have another blanket or two, but I don't have spare sheets." Without even thinking, he cracked a smile and added, "That is, of course, unless you'd rather sleep with me."

"Would you mind?" she asked with a smile. "We don't have to do anything if you don't want to."

Roger just didn't know how to handle that one. The last time he had any experience with a woman other than Colleen had been before he went to work at Ford, but it sure seemed like there was a proposition in that sentence. Catalina was a fascinating woman, and after the way this evening had gone, he'd already developed a fantasy or two about being in bed with her -- but he never expected the reality would happen at all, let alone this soon, or this casually! He gave another instant's thought considering the possibilities and a quick search for words, but all he could manage was, "Whatever you want."

"It's your bed; it's whatever you want," she giggled.

"No, it's whatever you want," he told her firmly. "I don't want to push you into anything."

"Roger, it's no big deal," she smiled. "I was a virgin through high school, but I hit the point where I'd fucked my age while I was in my sophomore year in college, and I've done enough since that there's no way I can live long enough to catch up. Really, I'm up for whatever you want. I wouldn't have worn that bikini tonight if I wasn't. It wouldn't be fair to tease you like that."

Roger thought about it for a moment, then reached into a nearby cupboard, pulled out a towel, and handed it to her. "Here," he said with a smile, "You're still pretty damp."

"Thanks," she smiled, taking the towel from him and starting to dry off. "Look, Roger," she continued. "I will not be able to sleep next to you and keep my hands to myself all night, so what do you say we skip the part where we both try and figure out whether to take the initiative?"

"Actually, I think you already settled that," he laughed.

"Despite what I said, I'm not really a slut, I just like to act slutty sometimes," she said seriously. "Chuck was actually the last guy I went to bed with, back in Pusan, so it's been a year and a half. I've had myself tested since then, I'm clean, and I'm on the pill."

"Good thing," he laughed. "I didn't have rubbers on my checklist when I loaded this thing. But it's been over five years for me, and that was with Colleen, and she was the only one since the seventies. I haven't been tested, but if I had something it ought to have shown up by now."

"You haven't gotten over her, have you?" she asked while she worked the towel through her hair, then threw it aside. "Maybe this will help." She turned toward him, pulled his head towards hers with a firm but gentle hand, and kissed him. It was a long, sensuous kiss that was both tender and insistent, and when their lips parted again, Roger found he was suddenly short of breath.

"Why don't we make ourselves comfortable," she smiled, taking his hand and leading him toward the bed. It was only the work of a moment for her to throw the covers back and to lie down facing him. Scarcely able to believe this was happening, he paused taking off his clothes for just a moment to wonder at the sight of her body on the bed. Her breasts were full, just on the far side of a handful. Her stomach had just a hint of feminine roundness to it, and the perfect curvature of her hips practically begged for a pair of hands on them.

And then he was beside her on the bed, up close, skin to skin, his free arm around her waist and hers around his neck. They kissed again; her tongue probed to find his own, and getting into the experience he met it just about as eagerly as she did.

They remained like this for a while, exchanging increasingly heated kisses. Roger ran his free hand over her smooth belly and up to her breasts. Catalina sighed as he cupped one of them with his hand and brushed his palm gently across her erect nipple. He watched as she closed her eyes and leaned her head back slightly, enjoying his caress.

She reached for his face and resumed her affections, giving him a hungry, open-mouthed kiss that made him go even harder than he already was. He grabbed her fanny and pulled her to himself until their sexes were pressed into one another. He could tell by her warmth that she was just as aroused as he was. She gave her hips a little gyration, grinding herself into him, and he suppressed a groan only with difficulty.

"I want you inside of me," she murmured into his ear. "There'll be time enough for gentleness later. I want it hard and I want it now."

Afterward they lay collapsed on the bed, utterly exhausted from their efforts, their breathing gradually slowing. Roger brushed the still-damp hair from her face and they exchanged kisses while their hands still explored each other's bodies.

"Thank you, Roger," she whispered finally. "I guess you haven't forgotten how to do it. That was long overdue."

"Yeah, it was," he agreed, still so worn out he was barely able to form the words.

"Next time, I want to take my time, but just then I needed you to really jump my bones," she said.

"Feel free to give in to the urge any time it occurs," he replied, and they both chuckled. They lay close together for a long time, their arms around each other, her head resting on his shoulder. Nothing much was said, for nothing much needed to be said. Roger had no idea of what she was thinking, but she must have been contented because he could just about hear her purring.

He felt very contented himself, with this warm, sweaty, strong woman in his arms with whom he'd just made passionate love. For the first time in five years he felt like he was putting Colleen behind him a little; she was now more in the past than she had been a few short hours before. Maybe he should have tried harder to put her in the past, but he hadn't, and that was water under the bridge now. He wouldn't have wanted to guess about whether his future would involve Catalina any further than the next morning, but that evening a milestone had been passed.

He lay there thinking about it until he realized from her silence and low, steady breaths that Catalina had fallen asleep with her head resting on his arm. It felt good. In fact, it felt so good that he let his head rest against hers, and in that position drifted off to sleep himself.


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To be continued . . .

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