My Grandma chose the most inopportune time to die. I was engaged in the lengthy process of lining up a new job that actually granted paid funeral leave, but I was still a few weeks away from giving my notice at my old position. As opposed to the numerous times she'd "died" earlier in my life, come the one true time there wasn't anything exciting I wanted to do with the time off. I was hoping that no one in Personnel was clever enough to say Hey, wait a minute, didn't your Grandmother die a year or so ago? "Oh yea, but that was the time she conveniently died when I wanted to extend a long weekend down in Florida; this time it's for real."
I had a cache of unused Personal Days I was hoping to cash in when I left, a transaction that would likely be complicated by such a discovery. Not to mention the fact that barely a month before I'd used up my vacation time and a chunk of savings to fly with my wife and the baby to visit her. There's all this talk about how deregulation and competition has caused the cost of air travel to plummet just like the airplanes themselves. Well, not if you need to get somewhere at the last minute. You pay like you're flying the Concorde but ride like you're on a Greyhound.
Oh, good old Grandma! All of this sounds evil, but that judgment must be tempered with the understanding that I am from a family famous for their wicked sense of humor. And humor is of course a great tool in dealing with grief. Grandma had a full, wonderful life. She lived to marvel in full cognition at the miracle of her great- grandchildren. Death granted her the easiest of exits, asleep in her own bed. While she'd had to deal with the disruptions of nurses in her house a few times, she'd managed to outwit and elude Nursing Home Hell. She left this life right as she was hitting the cusp where her deteriorating health would have inevitably descended into a diminished body, mind and spirit.
Grandma had one great regret in her worldly existence, and she intended to rectify it in the afterlife. As she confided in me during our last visit, "When I meet up with your Grandpa in Heaven, I'm going to kick his butt clear on down to Hell for leaving me alone for fifteen years."
I probably would have skipped the whole ordeal, but in the long distance call announcing the death, my father also requested that I join him in being a pallbearer, noting that it would mean the world to him.
"You do have a decent suit coat, don't you?"
I accepted out of embarrassment at admitting that I didn't.
"And black shoes, dress shoes, not those..." I laughed. "It's all covered Dad, don't worry. I'll be there, with no shame on your face." I'd worn nothing but black shoes for years. But they were canvas high-tops.
I quickly began assembling my mental outfit. I've never been a very formal guy. Never has a black-tie invitation arrived in my mailbox. Every job I've had has been pretty casual. I was making pretty decent money as King of the Warehouse, but the uniform was jeans and tees. A company emblazoned polo shirt if some bigwigs were due in for a tour. My upcoming position would require the half-step up to shirts with a full front of buttons. I dug around in my closet and found the leather shoes and slacks I'd used to interview for the warehouse job. They were a little worn from age and a brief stint as a waiter. I went out and bought a brand-new white shirt. The coat and tie I borrowed from a friend. I felt like a bride. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. The socks matched all the rest, but I packed a pair of underpants the color of a summer sky.
I got off the plane and immediately began reiterating my ancient knowledge of the public transit system. I could take a taxi, but that would eat up most the cash I had. The shuttle from the airport ran on rails to the subway which would take me to the elevated that would lead me to a depot of buses, one of which--if I could only recall the name of the proper route--would drop me a few blocks from the house.
My head was filled with this as I was navigating the vast network of connecting corridors. Just then I felt a tap on my shoulder. I grabbed for the bulge of my wallet in my back pocket.
"Good instincts," I heard chuckling.
And there stood Uncle Bob. "Wha-at?"
"I got your flight info from your folks. I guessed you wouldn't have cab fare, and given your sense of direction I knew you'd hop the first train to the south side."
"You bastard you! Thanks."
"No problem," he grinned. I followed his limping form. Bob had the disadvantage of growing up under the shadow of my father's brilliance. A mild bout of childhood polio had left him quite mobile but with shriveled social skills. He finished college and was an intensely intelligent man, but ultimately he fell back into the family business and never moved away from his boyhood bedroom. His presence, really, enabled Grandma to die in her own home.
We got back to the house, and I was the last to arrive. I demanded coffee, but by the time it brewed I barely had time for a cup before I needed to start getting dressed.
"Heavens Tom, don't you look snazzy," Mom announced me as I came down the stairs. Her pronouncement was followed by a muted wolf whistle. "Whoa, big bro, lookin' good!" my sister crowed. I blushed. "Look Ashley, you made your brother blush. I think you should apologize." I was blushing the way you do when you know someone's taking the liberty of pity with you. I felt like a clown. The borrowed jacket was too short in the arms which heightened the fact that I'd bought the shirt a size too big. I felt like I was wearing a balloon under the coat, and the sleeves of it looked like I'd misplaced the cuff links and sewn on some buttons. The slightly frayed pants cuffs sort of matched the fact that I'd never bought a tin of shoe polish in my life. I thought I'd done a bang-up job with the tie, but then mom insisted on retying the knot. Luckily I was too tongue-tied to have to bite my tongue. Ashley was wearing the mourning color, but it was a slinky black number cut well above the knees and strategically tight in all the right places. Spaghetti straps, for chrissakes! I'm sure the fishnets were pantyhose, but they sure looked like the type where, given the dress, you wouldn't have to try too hard to see the garters. She topped it off, or bottomed it off, with a pair of shoes you might choose to call maybe-come-fuck-me pumps. She really was attired for cocktails. Or rather, a quick spin out dancing to find a partner for cocktails.
"Golly, since we all look so nice, maybe we should cut out early and go out and have some fun. Hit the service but skip the cemetery."
"Mom! We're in mixed company."
"Honey, come on, I didn't mean that kind of fun."
"I mean, Mom, these guys got a job to do. If they ditch out, the coffin goes whumpity bump, whumpity bump."
"Oh, that's right. I'd forgotten." Poor mom. Here she was, all decked out and in the big city, just yearning for a bit of the bright lights.
"Okay then," she went on, "we stick around for the dust-to-dust stuff, but please can we forget about the stale donuts in the church basement?"
Dad sort of sat there in his usual way. Pretending he didn't know us.
Wondering who these sick strangers were sitting around his mother's livingroom profaning her memory. Well, no. He generally keeps quiet, keeping his batteries on recharge. The man knows humor, but he saves up his wit to cut people to the quick. But I could see what passes for a smile on his face.
"Sweetheart, I'm no fan of the Old Ladies' Auxiliary, but they are mother's friends."
"No they aren't. She outlived all her friends. The bunch of biddies forced her to be their mentor. She didn't care for them one bit. She told me so numerous times. They've crowned me Queen of the Biddy Brigade; time for me to kick the bucket." Dad roared with laughter.
"Okay, okay. We put in a brief appearance, then we're out of there. Just don't fill up on donuts. After the show I'm taking you to Martine's."
"Martine's!" Mom fairly squealed.
I recognized the name. Fine dining and exotic cocktails and dancing 'til dawn.
"Oh kids," she cautioned, "don't wait up for us!" I took that to mean us kids weren't invited.
"But what show? You can't get tickets at the last minute." Dad reached into the breast pocket of his jacket. Two tickets to the finest show in town. Prime seats too.
"Must have been a gift from the dry cleaners for so many years of faithful patronage," he smiled. That wily old bastard! As for the funeral itself, well, talking about them is the same as suffering through them. The quicker it's over with the better. Piped in music that makes you want to rip the speakers from the ceiling. A cadre of funeral home ghouls standing around in plastic hair and funny suits. The minister of Grandma's church not just stumbling over her name, but doing so while he read it off an index card. The eulogy the usual pastiche of irrelevant aphorisms mixed in with incorrect facts. Fortunately the man didn't strain himself with any great length. Lining up for the viewing.
The modern pallbearer, I discovered, is mostly an honorary position. You lift the coffin onto a dolly, then sort of shuttle alongside it. Riding to the cemetery in those big black cars that seemed to have been retrofitted with shock absorbers meant for a subcompact.
Dad got to ride in the front car with the other primary guests of honor. In our car Mom and Ashley went off about the mouth.
"They never can get the mouths right," Ashley intoned "They botched the job worse than great-aunt Clara's. And hers looked like a piece of rotten fruit."
I was momentarily appalled, but they were just speaking the truth. I had a more important truth, so I joined in, "But wait! Did you check out the hands? Whose hands were they? Like they had a terrible accident and had to send off to Madame Toussaude's for replacements.
And they were out of stock so they stuck them with some seconds?"
"To each their own," Mom added, "but me, I'm not so sure about this coffin business."
"Definitely not open," Ashley added. "Why don't they just tuck a $10,000 bill in your pocket and skip the box? When I even begin to suspect my time is drawing nigh, I'm hopping in that old oven under my own steam. Skip the pine box too. I don't want some pissed off tree chasing me around in the afterlife."
"That's right!" Mom asserted. "Even if it's not legal," Ashley agreed.
At the cemetery we had to accompany the coffin, but this time it was placed on a motorized vehicle. I wanted to jump aboard and commandeer the controls, go for a wild and bumpy ride. As a working man I'd been given this nifty pair of super thin grey cotton gloves that I thought would be perfect for my future dual career as assassin/thief. But then the scary men in the funny suits made me toss them atop the coffin with the other five pairs. The big mound of dirt covered with a green tarp like you're supposed to think it's just a little grassy knoll. This big winch machine to do the actual lowering. They lowered the coffin to almost ground level then stopped it. The few dusty words about shadowy death valley. And then they made you leave! One of the goons actually stood up with his hands folded against his midsection and intoned, "This concludes the burial part of the service." No way! No tossing a rose in the hole, shoveling in your personal clump of dirt. Talk about lack of closure. I was instantly picturing Grandma kicking off the lid, jumping out, and racing down the grassy slopes with the ghouls in pursuit shouting, "Come back, come back, you're paid for!"
The memorial reception was about as deadly as can be imagined. The damp of a basement church recreation room. The battered upright piano pushed against the wall. Old donuts and platters of sliced packaged ham and loaves of white bread. Two liter bottles of warm soda with a bowl of ice from a machine that could use a little cleaning. Tiny paper cups the size of the ones the doctor asks you to pee in. "The lesson to be learned here," I whispered to Ashley, "is that it definitely pays to plan your own party."
"Really! And book it well in advance. Codicil City. I know the first thing I'm doing when I get home."
Right then Mom sauntered over and did a perfect imitation of little old zombie ladies. "And who might you be?"
"Next of kin," Ashley gasped, "wishing like hell I was lying next to kin."
"Primary beneficiary," I snapped, "the greedy bastard who smothered her with the pillow in the middle of the night, a-hahahaha!"
We had to get out of there quick. The giddiness was getting exponential. Mom went to seize Dad and steer him towards the door while Ashley and I migrated to the fringes of the gathering. I stopped by Aunt Cassie and her crew long enough to exclaim gaily, "We're sneaking out now. Guess we'll see you guys later."
They bent their heads at matching curious angles and gave me a collective blank look. The folks didn't even pull to the curb, slowing down just long enough to kick us kids out of the car before they roared off for a long night of fun. Luckily Bob had beaten us all back to the house. Neither of us had the key. Once inside Ashley and I commenced to quarrel.
After it became evident that his culinary skills were not required, Bob pulled his usual trick of hanging around for a few minutes of chat before limping upstairs to hide in his room. Eventually we resolved our differences and called up the pizza. In exchange for no olives I agreed to drop my insistence on onions. I hadn't really wanted onions all that much, but knowing how Ashley loathed them I needed them for a bargaining chip. Likely she was equally ambivalent about the olives. That settled I went immediately to change out of my patched together penguin suit. I was almost sorry when Ashley switched into her sloppys as well.
Disregarding the obvious, I had spent a pleasant afternoon amid the vicarious thrill of watching her outfit do such a splendid job of showing off a fine female form. Being in the big city we were hankering for some authentic big city pizza. We skipped the franchises and went for the local guy. This meant that they didn't bullwhip their drivers to run red lights and mow over pedestrians with the gall to get in the way of free enterprise. Which meant we waited hours for the knock on the door. The pizza arrived barely warm but we were so ravenous it hardly mattered. By the end I was half-tempted by the greasy cardboard of the box. As the feast wound down I stirred up a little dinner conversation.
"So how are we getting downtown?"
"Uhm, Cassie et. al.?" It'd taken her a few tries, but the third time proved the charm. Aunt Cassie had the face and figure still left that even with two kids from two other men, she'd managed to snag a big fat millionaire with her third turn at marriage. He owned a semi-swank hotel downtown where we'd stayed several times before. Gratis of course. "Well, my understanding is that they could barely manage rooms for them. Something about being booked up by some big convention."
"Oh, bullshit!" I was up looking for the phone book. "What are you doing?!"
"I'm going to call down there and inquire at the desk."
"You are not!"
"Sit there and listen." I hung up the phone and reported back. "I'm sorry, there's no convention here. The small rooms are solid, but they have suites galore."
"Yes way. Those fucking bastards! Who do they think they are?
Stiffing us freeloading poor relations. See if they get an invite to my funeral!" We sat there in silence, until I mused aloud, "Wonder what a room runs in this city."
"I think the cheapest is around fifty bucks." "That's not bad."
"But that's the by-the-hour rate." I rolled my eyes. "Good thing I wasn't looking forward to getting laid on this trip." We quit the banter to sit bloated on the sofa with the numbing companionship of the t.v. Ashley yawned, then I yawned. I yawned, then Ashley yawned. "Quit it!" we declared in unison. Before long she stood up and announced her horizontal intentions.
"I'll be generous and take the tiny room." I was on my feet in an instant. "No way, I insist. Let me be the gentleman." Bob's room was the one he and Dad had shared growing up. Historically, in our lifetimes, Dad and Mom always claimed the pull-out sofa. Cassie's tiny old room was proclaimed Siberia. The luckier of us two got to sleep in the big bed with Grandma, even when grumbly old Grandpa was still alive. "A true gentleman always honors a lady's wishes."
"You're no lady! You're a conniving bitch. No way am I sleeping in the death bed. You know Bob hasn't gotten around to changing the sheets."
"And you expect me to sleep in there? That's terribly altruistic of you." We both had our points. We stared each other down. Ashley finally lowered her gaze and spoke softly, "Okay. If it's okay with you. It's a small bed, but we can both fit."
"As long as you don't snore," I answered. "I don't snore!" Ashley replied indignantly. "Never said you did. It's a bad habit, and I just don't want you to pick it up when I have to be around to hear of it." Ashley slugged me on the arm hard enough to hurt. "I'll get you!" she forewarned as she stormed up the stairs.
I couldn't quite place the face, but maybe that was because it was pressed against mine. Sight wasn't exactly the sense that was my major concern at the moment.
I was concentrating on the set of full soft lips making mirror motions on mine. God, what a kiss! What a kisser! The hint of hard teeth underneath the plushness, the juicy tongue darting in and out of my mouth. Our tongues were two children playing a game, inventing a game combining tag with hide-and-seek.
Her mouth went nipping around my lips, giving breathy little gasps, letting me know how much she liked the way my hand was letting her know how much it liked her breast. Her breast was by no means large, but that's no measure of anything. The size and shape was divine, perfect in my palm, the flesh soft yet firm under my hand, the nipple ripening almost into a tickle.
All these wonderful sensations got a little blurry. My awareness focused on the firm flesh cradled in my hand, and the nearly painful throbbing between my legs. Damn but I was hard! My cock felt like a hot dog that's been cooking too long--the skin was about to split. Vive la différence! Things start getting too tight, there's that pressure valve on the end, and all the excess comes spewing out. Feeling that, and feeling that, caused a shift in my consciousness and the dream evaporated. I still had my little man of steel. The pleasant surprise was the nice breast still in my hand. Oh sweet Susie I sighed, my hand slipping down to her hip, sliding easily through the flared leghole of her shorty bottoms. Gently, gently, I touched the mat of special hair, and then slowly lower the slight puffiness of her mons. It felt so warm down there, and almost damp. This was a tender pleasure of mine with my wife.
Susie knew about it and didn't mind. Sometimes she would wake up and participate. Other times she slept through, coaxed into erotic dreams I'd never know. Just as often she lay deep in a realm of unconsciousness, a depth to which I'd eventually return myself. No scenario was better than the other in my mind. They were all equally special, little treasures of my night. With a languorous sigh she rolled fully on her back, opening wide, a leg flung over mine. A hand came to rest on my forearm, but not in protest. It lay with the leaden weight of full sleep. I could feel the pulse pounding under my hand as the blood rushed to her groin. She gave a slight groan as her labia swelled under my touch. Wherever my fingertips touched, the skin just rippled, as though I was dispensing electricity. Her breath went ragged and irregular, coming in little bursts. It made me delirious to feel her actual blossoming, her flush petals opening and parting, lush with her nectar. I dipped a finger a little inside her, and it went swimming. God, she'd gone from damp to drenched in mere minutes. She mewled in her sleep. I couldn't begin to guess her dream, but no doubt it was very nice. My only regret was that I couldn't get her bottoms off and completely out of the way.
And then I had a curious thought. Why did she have them on? Susie always slept naked from the waist down.
That observation was the crack. Then the whole drowsy dam burst. Why was I sleeping on the wrong side of the bed? Why was the bed so small? Why was the one side of the bed pushed against the wall? Why was the light in the room so different? Where was the other window? Suddenly I remembered everything.
Oh shit! I was diddling my sister! That was Ashley's cunt nudging up against my fingers! God, I had to get my hand out of there. But how? Her hand had my arm pinned in place, and the weight of it was concrete. How to extricate myself? Very very slowly, or in one quick yank? Either way had the potential of rousing her, and either way my whole arm had to be gone if she stirred. While I considered my plan of action I tried to get her leg off me. That wasn't such a bad situation--after all, it was her leg on top of mine--but I didn't want to give her cause to wonder why she'd flung her leg up like that. The damn thing would not budge. Her thighs were shouting we want to be spread wide open!--now get back to business. In fact, Ashley drew her leg up even higher. It seemed to be having trouble getting settled in its new position. I was in a panic. The movement had made a cock sandwich between our thighs, and the motions were threatening to squirt some dressing on the meat. The fabric of my gym shorts lay between our flesh a limp leaf of lettuce.
First things first, I figured. Make my hand's placement seem as innocent as possible. Get those fingers out of her pussy! That accomplished, I tried to crawl my hand out of her bottoms. Without smearing her juices all over. Her whole crotch quivered every place I brushed against while making my unsteady exit. I was almost out when Ashley murmured a slurred, "Don't."
Don't was exactly what I was trying to do. I paused, then continued my escape.
"Don't," she repeated a bit clearer. "Don't, Tommy, don't!"
"Don't stop, not now."
My heart went a minute between beats.
"Please, Tommy." What?!!! Then I saw the glimmer of her open eyes. She turned a little towards me and growled, "Didn't anyone ever tell you it's dangerous to not finish something you've started." Her hand slid down my arm and firmly returned mine where it'd been. She shifted her leg a little, then her hand moved over and up inside the leghole of my bottoms. "Tit for tat," her lips whispered as she homed in on me.
"I'm sorry, Ashley, I didn't know what I was doing."
"It sure felt like you did," she giggled. "Lucky Susie!" Her hand began rubbing up and down the length of my erection. "Mmmm. Very lucky Susie." She freed up her other hand, and used it to shove mine more firmly against her cunt. "I'm ready for a nice big piece of luck myself right now. Many strokes of good luck."
I wasn't so much massaging her pussy as her pussy was massaging my fingers. I tried a final feeble protest. "But Ashley... I mean, Ashley..."
"But what?" she gasped. "I'm so fucking horny right now I don't care who you are. You're a man with exactly what I need. That you happen to be my brother," she nibbled around my ear, "that's the icing on the cake."
I was stunned, and I guess my silence revealed that.
"What? You never thought of me when we were teenagers? I always kind of wondered what it'd be like with you. Guess I'm going to find out."
Well, what healthy adolescent brother hasn't heard the running water and thought there's a naked girl in the shower!? Who hasn't fondled his cock in the dark of night while thinking there's a pretty little pussy right in the next room!? Well... guess I was going to find out too!
We fell to kissing like a couple of lust-crazed teenagers. Hers was better than the mouth of my dream. Now that she'd jump-started my hand, she moved that one up to lift the hem of her top. Then she moved herself to lift a breast to my mouth. One, then the other. By now I had several fingers buried deep in her cleft while my thumb traced little circles on her clit. I stopped long enough to bring my hand up and smear some honey on her nipples. As I sucked off the sticky sweetness, Ashley moaned, "God, Tom, that's a sexy trick!"
Her top kept getting in the way so she stopped her hands to pull it off. "Too many clothes," she grunted through the fabric. I agreed and paused to remove my t-shirt.
Then, as long as our hands were free anyway... I reached to the elastic of her waistband. "Mmmm, I like a boy who knows what he wants." Ashley lifted her hips to help me with the task, then she turned her hands to my waist. "Hope you like a girl who knows what she wants." She didn't give me the time to help her.
She shucked those suckers right past my toes.
She fairly leapt upon me. "Now back to that kiss!" Our hands quickly returned to their masturbating ways. I was just starting to think about doing something different when Ashley gave a little hiccup, then erupted like a volcano being born. Her whole body shook as if in seizure and a huge flow of magma ran dripping down my wrist. She nearly bit my tongue off inside her mouth!