Chapter 12 -- Surprise Under the Pillow
After our last near-hit-near-miss encounter, my and I
had almost no time to consider our lives much less our sexual
attraction. The demands of school and our otherwise busy social
lives grabbed all our energy and attention. The glances and
poignant smiles served to remind us frequently of the pull we'd
come to acknowledge but our natural cautiousness coupled with our
jam-packed lives served to buffer our lusty appetites. Yet we
had opened a door of intimacy that was never to close for all the
days of our lives. In a dozen small ways, we were more
affectionately connected, open and trusting than we even knew.
Our mother, sensitive to the moods in our family, had not
failed to notice that our one-time sibling abrasiveness and
competitiveness had given way to a softer connection. I suspect
she was relieved. I wondered if she might see anything beyond
the surface. She did so often.
Pouring orange juice one morning at breakfast, commented, "I want to tell you kids that it's so much more
peaceful around here since you two became friends. My Jim and I did the same thing when we were about your age."
The same thing. What'd she mean?
chatted on about her teenage life. Jean and I looked at
each other, then she glanced at and, looking again at me,
raised an eyebrow as if to ask, "Do you suppose and . . . ?"
For a moment I was shocked. Mom? Then remembering the
lusty sounds we sometimes heard coming from my parent's bedroom,
I smiled to myself. Jean and I had then decided that our
probably had done "it" more than twice. Shrugging my
mental shoulders, I thought, "Why not?"
Returning to the present, I became more aware of my mother,
of her dress. She was wearing a light robe and several times as
she was gesturing I'd seen her move under it. I thought,
"Christ, Billy, you are a real perv. Your own mother!"
In a silent mime, Jean's eyes opened in astonishment and she
put her finger tips across the surprised "Oh" of her open mouth .
. . just as looked up.
Quick to recover, Jean replied, "Oh, I just remembered that
I forgot my French book at school."
Jumping in, attempting to divert Mom's attention, I asked,
"Did you and your fight a lot, Mom?" I wasn't interested
in their fighting as much as the possibility of their connection.
Not that I expected she'd tell us much, but perhaps we could beat
around the bushes a little.
Laughing, she remembered, "Sure. Just like most brothers
and sisters I guess -- but you know, we really loved each other."
Jean and I looked at each other again. You know, that
silent "look" that says, "Hmmmm." Then I looked at Mom's
breasts. Jean glanced at and then slowly shook her head in
Continuing, added, "You know your Uncle Jim. He's a
strong, take-charge kinda guy now, but he was a little younger
than me when we were kids. Still is for that matter. Why, there
was a time when I could beat him up." Then, looking off into
some unfocused middle distance, she shook her head and added
ruefully, "That didn't last long. He grew up fast!"
Jean snorted her juice through her nose, remembering, I
supposed, the play on words we'd often used, about my "growing
UP." Picking up her napkin, she dabbed her face and fake sneezed
to cover her embarrassment. "And then what happened?" she asked.
"Oh, you know. I used to bully him and then he grew up,
more than just physically. He matured and became a man, like
over night, and then he started to tease me, even though he was
"Did it bother you? That change I mean?" I asked, thinking
of how my relationship with Jean had changed in a similar way and
wondering just what *had* gone on in Mom's younger life. The
truth was, I'd ceased to think of her as a chaste, puritanical
person sometime ago. I *knew* she was sexual with our Dad but I
suppose I thought he had been the first and the last, her only.
That limited view of my mother's humanness was slowly giving way
to a more realistic acceptance of her as she probably was. The
thing was, I didn't know how she *was*. I was more than casually
interested . . . more than I wanted to admit to myself.
continued, "Well, at the time I didn't want your Uncle
Jim to know, but secretly, I was pleased. I mean, he was so
strong and so smart. He could just *fix* things and he began to
take care of me. I liked that." She paused, buttering her toast.
"Once there was this guy -- a real jerk, obnoxious and mean, who
was always teasing the -- saying dirty things about them.
Well, this guy said something about me once -- in front of a
bunch of -- something dirty I think. Jim heard about it and
walked right up to the guy -- who was bigger than him by the way
-- and said, Don't *ever* talk about my sister,' and without
another word, smashed him right in the nose."
Jean gasped, "Really, Mom? Uncle Jim?"
"Yep. I was there. Saw it all. The guy fell back. He
grabbed his nose. It was bleeding all over the place. He was
crying and saying he was going to kill my brother. Jim walked up
to him again and again, without another word, punched him right
in the stomach. Down he went. Stayed there too, cryin',
slobberin' and cursin'. But he didn't get up. Your uncle said,
Yeah, yeah. You'll *shit* too, if you're well fed. Get up if you
want some more, asshole.'"
Then hearing the words of her own account, reddened and
glancing at us, added, "Oops. Pardon my French."
"Far out," I said, even more impressed with my uncle.
"Oh, my . . . I never heard that story," said Jean. "That's
really something." And then turning to me with a smile, she
asked, "Would you fight for me, little brother?"
"I guess. I mean, I *might*," and then turning to added, "If she wasn't so darn strong and mean already!"
Jean threw her napkin at me and yelled, "You shit! I am
not! MOM, make him stop!"
Covering my head with one arm, I held up the peace sign with
the other hand and quickly said, "Sor-ry. Didn't mean it.
Honest. Peace. Peace?" Then, turning to my mother, I added in a
stage whisper, "She's cute when she's mad, isn't she?"
leaned back in her chair and folded her hands in her
lap. Her eyes and voice softened. "You two remind me *so* much
of me and Jim, I can't get over it." Her nipples were poking
through her robe. I tried not to stare. I failed.
The voice in my head asked, "Did you and Uncle Jim fool
around, Mom?" But the voice that came *out* of my head asked,
"You ever double date, Mom?"
She smiled that special smile of remembrance. "Sure. Lots.
We'd share all our stuff with each other. He always had an
opinion of the who'd ask me out. Some were okay and some
were not. And he'd always ask me about the *he* dated.
Things like . . ." and then she suddenly stopped talking,
Stepping into the embarrassed silence, I said, "That hasn't
changed. If it wasn't for *my* wise counsel, Jean'd date some
real weirdos, I can tell you that."
Jean surprised me, for she didn't argue. "Yeah, Billy knows
a lot about the that I don't . . . that don't in
general." Turning to me, she added, "I appreciate your caring,
Jean was picking up on the direction this was taking. We
worked well together that way. But we knew was no patsy and
we didn't want to be too obvious. We just knew she'd shut up
like a if she picked up on what was in our heads -- my head
"Mom, could you talk to Uncle Jim about . . . uh . . . about
your feelings and . . ." she finished lamely, "and . . .
Mom, sensing Jean's discomfort, forgot her own and laid a
hand on her arm. "Sure, baby. We could talk about everything.
That's why it was so special."
Uncertainly, Jean asked, "Really? Everything?"
Glancing at me a moment, answered Jean, "Yep,
"Even sex?" I asked, trying not to sound too eager yet
knowing I was edging into new ground.
hesitated. I could tell that she felt she'd been
accidentally pulled into this self revelation but couldn't cop
out now. "Yes. Even that." Then, putting her napkin on the
table with a gesture of firmness, she leaned forward a bit and
added, "Sometimes, *especially* that. I mean, if you can't talk
to your own . . ." and then she made a dismissive gesture
with her hand and looked upward, as if for confirmation from
"Yeah," I agreed.
"Yeah," Jean echoed, "Your own . . ." and then she
tailed off, not quite sure just what she was agreeing with. She
looked at me and wrinkled her nose as she cocked her head . . .
her sign language that asks, What are we talking about, anyway?'
"Sex, Jean. We're talking about sex. Remember?"
Mom, suddenly seeing our discordant thinking, threw her head
back and laughed. "You two . . ." she began and then wiped a
laugh tear from her eye, "you two are like Abbot and Costello."
"Who" I asked.
"Who's on first," Jean prompted.
"What's on second, " continued and they both laughed at
each other. At my expense, I was certain.
"Come on, ladies. What is this, geriatric week? We were
talking about sex, remember? How'd we start talkin' about
baseball of all things?"
Placing her hand on my arm, said, "I'm sorry, Billy.
You started it. You just got me giggling. I'm a little
embarrassed, you know. I'm not used to talking, well . . . so
frankly with you two." And then, as if to cope with her
uncomfortable position, she added quickly, "Anyway . . . anyway,
I must go down to the flatlands.'" This was our name for any
part of the surrounding area not in the foothills where we lived.
This conversation was over I knew, at least for now. I was
disappointed and relieved at the same time. On the one hand, it
was kind of thrilling to hear something of our Mom's early life,
but on the other, it was so foreign as to be strange and a little
uncomfortable. We were just becoming comfortable with our own
sexuality. Considering Mom's was almost too great a stretch.
Dabbing her lips again, Jean started to get up and then
paused, looking at Mom. "Remember I said I was going to stay
with Aunt Peg sometime?" Without waiting for a reply, she went
on, "Well, she's invited me over for tonight. It's OK for me to
go over, isn't it?"
Moving toward the kitchen door and hardly pausing, answered, almost absently, "Sure, baby. Say hello for me, won't
you?" And then she was gone.
"Oh crap!" I grumped with no little disappointment. "I was
looking forward to us watching a or something. We haven't
spent *any* time together. We never even talk any more." My
tone was almost petulant.
Jean was unmoved. Laughing, she said, "Oh Billy, don't
worry. We'll talk again . . . promise. In fact, I'll call you
tonight from Aunt Peg's house. About eleven?"
A phone call wasn't what I had in mind, but it was clear
that was all I was going to get, so I tried on a little gracious
acceptance. I tried, but it didn't fit well.
Jean left a short while later and I moped around, trying to
stay busy. The late morning and afternoon were taken up with
self-appointed chores that helped me stay out of a dangerous
place, my mind. Years later someone was to tell me, "Bill,
*your* mind should be used for amusement purposes only."
Still, I spent the early evening feeling sorry for myself,
convinced that I was unloved and largely unlovable. I've always
been struck by my capacity to move from joy one moment to
self-pity the next. When I'm in a good place, those extremes
amuse me, but when I'm in some self-centered dark perched
firmly on the pity pot, it seems decidedly not funny. Moreover, I
am quick to assume that not only is it a bad situation, but that
I'll be stuck there forever. No half measures in my thinking!
Holing up in my room, I put on an Enya CD and sank into the
luxuriant and mystical sounds that reminded me so much of Jean.
Enya's lyrics, woven into the tapestry of her sound, washed over
"If only I could stay with you, my train moves on,
you're gone from view, . . ."
Whatever loving and aesthetic side I might have had, the
side that loved the *spirit* of Jean, was simply pushed aside by
the power of my erotic imagery. Somehow, fueled and driven by
the haunting melodies of Enya, I sank into the sensual torpor of
If I had thought my images might somehow be visible to
others, I'd have been embarrassed. But safe within that secret
place in my mind, I reveled in the richness of my erotic recall.
As if etched in stone, the of Jean, standing with her
back to me, flashing her pantied butt, came and went as a
subliminal image. The curve of her back, the soft roundness of
her womanly hips, the dimples above her gluteal muscles and the
shadowed nether regions where the thin strap of her cupped her mons . . . these mental pictures rolled through the
interstices of "Shepherd Moons."
The one time I'd had the opportunity to *really* look at
Jean's nude body, it had registered and imprinted in my memory
with extraordinary detail. The filtered afternoon light in her
bedroom had slanted across her torso, seeming to pronounce and
deepen the natural shadows. Her were somehow fuller,
heavier, the nipples even more prominent. Refracting the already
diffused light, the almost invisible, downy hairs on her belly
were highlighted and became a penumbral shadow above the soft,
curly down of her pubic hair. Without the jutting prominence of
a pubic ledge, her belly curved smoothly in a soft arc to the
darkened region between her thighs. In my mind's eye, I could
see that her rich auburn pubic hair, while not extensive, was
and full and curly. I knew what was there, between
her long, slender thighs. I'd seen it once, close up as she had
urinated on a dusty Sierra trail, facing me, in broad daylight.
My mind's images flashed back and forth as a lens snaps into
near- and then far-focus. First one. Then the other.
I was delighted and tormented and excited, all at once.
We'd agreed we would have a "limited sexual connection." We'd
abandoned any pretense that we weren't attracted to each other,
but under the lash of our own sense of propriety and some
nameless fear of doing wrong, we'd agreed that whatever else we
did, we wouldn't go all the way. Yet, that remained so
tantalizingly ill-defined. Hanging in that ether of vague
boundaries, I found myself almost agitated with desire.
The hours passed, despite my intolerance for delayed
gratification. A few minutes before 11 P.M. Jean called. "Hi,
dude! Miss me?"
"Naw," I lied, "I forgot all about you. What's up, woman?"
He laughter picked me up. "You lyin' sack a'. . . . Your
nose is growing!"
"That's not all that's growin'."
"Well, big boy," she began in her Mae West imitation, "if
you'll check under your pillow, we'll see if we can help it grow
a little more."
"What . . . ," I began, but she interjected: "I left you a
little present. Check it out and I'll call you back in a little
while." Click. The line went dead.
Still holding the dead phone to my ear, I pushed up and
turned back, looking under my pillow. There was a pair of Jean's
panties. They'd been worn. Under them was a note.