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ADELAIDE Independent Monthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Mensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GIFT
by Libby Belle

 

 

The nausea was bad enough to send her jumping out the window, only her house was a one-story and crashing to her death just wasn’t possible with a mere three-foot fall. Although, a few broken bones might take her mind off the real reason she is imprisoned in her own home. But in the end, all it would do is add to the medical bills that would never be paid in her lifetime – a lifetime shortened by this creepy disease they call cancer. That ugly word doesn’t deserve a capital letter until they find a cure for it, and that will be long after Gina is gone. It was a good thing she had decided early on not to bring any children into this world. They’d never have to know the shitty way their mother died.

The bald head was not a big deal, really, because Gina had a very pretty face, tiny features, only a few wrinkles for a woman in her fifties, thin crow’s feet that a good make-up could easily disguise, a full set of lips and exceptionally large eyes that when eyeliner was applied, they appeared impishly cat-like. Her hair had always been thin anyway, and when it fell out, she was quite surprised to find that her perfectly shaped head had no lumps or dents. Not one. Altogether a miracle since she had fallen off the bed more times than she could count on two hands.

Bound mostly to her bedroom, the vomit tray within reach, she had plenty of time to ponder simple things like the first time she had hit her noggin during a bout of playful sex. Was it with her first, second, third, or fourth husband? Everything that ever happened in her life was categorized by which husband she was with at the time.

Although, the last two husbands didn’t really count because she had given each of them only a six-month trial period during which they both failed miserably. And in both cases, she had filed for annulment, which technically meant she had only been married twice. Single and married four times always got a resounding stupefied reaction from the men she dated, as if she’d said “Here, hold this stick of dynamite while I fish through my purse for a match.” Married only twice worked much better and would usually return a, “Well, you know what they say, third time’s a charm,” generally followed by a wink and another glass of wine.

One thought always led to another and if she had enjoyed writing, Gina would have put all these tidbits down on paper. Oh well, she’d just have to take them all to her grave!

It was a cloudless, sunny day and hard to stay depressed after she wrapped a designer scarf around her, smooth, hairless head and made up her face to absolute perfection. The nightgown she wore was stunning and if a lover had of been in her presence, he would have told her so just before he ripped it from her body. Yes, ripped! Gina liked her lovers wild and beasty, just teetering on the edge of cruel, and she especially liked them eager and greedy – never satisfied with only one orgasm.

So, if she is such a pretty cancer patient, where are all those exciting lovers now? Not one came to see her, not one called or sent flowers, or even a lousy three-dollar card. Her girlfriends were few and most of them owed her money and stayed away in shame. She figured they must be feeling bad about that, knowing how much Gina could use some extra cash. And hoping to keep her disease private, her boss had told her co-workers that she had a contagious infection, which eliminated any expectations of a visit from a colleague.

Her last hope was her favorite aunt who promised to visit soon after recovering from a bunion removal. “Sure, when will that be? At my funeral?” Gina had blurted, just as she hung up the phone, imagining her epitaph in a sad, drippy font, “Here Lies Beautiful Gina who died of Loneliness.”

As for her best friend, Ellen, she was too exhausted from her own miserable life at home with her schizophrenic father, her divorced daughter, and those ungrateful brats. Last, but not least was Frank, poor Frank, the neglected husband who Ellen was gradually losing all desire for. Gina couldn’t blame her friend for not coming around anymore. Seeing her like this just added to Ellen’s misery.

Thank goodness for daily talk shows and old soap opera reruns and particularly for those magazines pertaining to home design, as Gina loved to decorate – filling her place full of beautiful accessories, sexy lamps and rugs, thick window coverings to darken a room like a cave, and always a touch of leather. Men like leather. She still took comfort in being surrounded by beauty – taking selfies in front of her fancy vases, Scarlet O’Hara drapes, naked statues of Greek gods, and plush bedspreads laced in metallic golds and reds covered with a never-ending line-up of throw  pillows trimmed in  fur or tassels.   She could see her epitaph in a sensual gold font, “The World Less One Classy Broad!”

It wouldn’t be the worst thing to die in all this lushness, she told her dog, Archie. She had rescued the little canine from her mean step-father who had planned to take him to the pound right after her mother’s funeral. People can be so cruel she warned the little Terrier.

Archie was who kept her going. Archie was what kept her believing, because Archie cried when she cried, was happy when she was happy, and never left her bed, like the men in her life eventually did. So, it wasn’t surprising that Archie would grow to be over-protective and lunge after anyone who knocked on the door – the pizza delivery boy, always at the wrong address, or that UPS man with those chiseled calves and cute brown shorts. Archie tore through his thin brown socks faster than a Terrier could tear through a rat, clinging tightly to his ankle until the man kicked him loose, upon which Gina quickly scooped him up and admonished the driver for his act of cruelty, not only to the dog but to herself – a very ill young woman on the brink of death. The guy felt such deep sympathy for Gina, none for the dog, he dismissed the threat of a lawsuit and accepted a cup of coffee with her on the porch, while Archie watched him closely with beady-eyed anticipation.

That was six weeks ago – a long time for a woman with her sexual appetite to be without a man to flirt with, toy with, even kiss – just to give him a taste of what she had to offer once that awful uninvited intruder was extracted from her body.

Gina sat at the window, watching for any kind of life to remind her that she was still alive. The birds chirping, and the smell of freshly cut grass heightened her senses. Even the cool air sifting through the screened window felt light and hopeful. As long as Gina kept her thoughts pure she was safe from the impending desolation. It wasn’t easy.

She went to the kitchen to get a cup of tea; one of the few things that stayed down longer than the rest. When she returned to her seat, she saw through the window, Frank’s car. She had known him since high school long before he married Ellen. She had always liked him, and if Ellen hadn’t of swooped down and taken Frank for her own, Gina might have dated him. There was always an undercurrent of sexual tension between them that Gina thought Ellen detected, and even though nothing was ever said about it, Ellen made sure that the two were never left alone. Twenty-five years later, Gina still sensed Ellen bristle up when Frank talked to her, even if it was about something as simple as football. How exciting that he was here now, and without his wife.

Outside it was oddly quiet. She leaned in and stretched her neck looking for Frank, Archie by her side on alert. She heard the water turn on from the outside spigot. “What’s going on out there?” she asked her furry friend.

A few minutes passed, and Gina saw a stream of water squirting from the hose to the roof of her car. “Someone’s washing my car for me, Archie. It must be Frank.” She saw her reflection in the mirror on the  wall, the look of delight on her tired face excited her. “Oh, how very sweet.”

Knowing Frank would not want her to protest, she stayed hidden at the window and waited to see him as he approached the front of the car. She saw his hand first, grasping a big sponge, vigorously scrubbing the doors. Then as he moved closer in view, she saw his bare back gleaming in the sun, already sweating from removing weeks of filth from her vehicle. He has a beautiful back, she thought, focusing on the muscles moving with each sweep of his arm.

What she saw next, she was not prepared for. When Frank came into full view, she could see that he was completely naked. Stark naked! No shorts, no shoes, no baseball cap on his head.

Gina dropped down to the floor on her knees and giggled. “Don’t look now Archie, but Frank’s outside washing my car in his birthday suit!”

When she eased back up, she saw that Frank was taking an exceptionally long time cleaning the side view mirror, feverishly removing the hardened dead bugs, his rear end muscles flexing with each small vigorous movement of his hand, the water hose held conveniently within reach between his thighs.

“Oh, my,” Gina exhaled, her eyes half-closed with pleasure when he proceeded to the windows and in slow, broad sweeping motions, wiped across the glass, his body pivoting in rhythm from one foot to the other. It was then that she realized the possibility that Frank was performing for her.  She lured Archie to the guest bedroom with a peanut butter cookie and tiptoed out to the porch for a better view.

Frank just had to know that she was standing there, still as a deer listening for potential danger, her heart beating loudly in her chest. But he gave her no sign that he knew and continued washing her car, the spring sun warming his flesh as he performed one of man’s favorite weekend rituals just for Gina.

It was a beautiful thing, and something she had never experienced, nor ever heard of anyone doing. She was so entranced by his movements, she had forgotten that she was sick and closer to death than she’d ever been. She swooned when Frank laid his chest across the broad hood of the car drenched in a sea of soap suds. Bent over, she could now see his testicles hard and swollen, his penis strong and erect. She had seen many naked men in her life, but nothing as sensual and exciting as this. When he moved to the other side of the car where he would be facing her, Gina decided to go back inside just in case they might catch each other’s eye and break the spell.

Back in her bedroom, she pictured a new epitaph in playful font, “Men Washed Cars in the Nude for Gorgeous Gina.” In the excitement of the moment, she felt weightless; the constant dread lifted from her tired body. She fluffed the pillows, eased under the covers and waited to see what Frank would do next. It felt like Christmas Day.

When she heard the water being shut off, she tensed, listening carefully for any other sounds. Then she heard footsteps on the porch and the screen door opening slowly. She grew excited with each creak of the hinge.

“Gina?” Frank called softly from the center of the living room.

“Yes, Frank. I’m in my bedroom,” Gina answered in a meek voice.

“Can I come in and say hi?”

She considered asking him if he had his clothes on, but decided against it, since secretly, she hoped he had left them off. “Come on in,” she said, biting her lip to keep from giggling.

She heard his wet bare feet slap the tile floor as he approached her room. She sucked in a breath, picked up the magazine on the bed and pretended to be reading.

Frank entered one step over the threshold and stopped. Gina slowly tore her eyes from the magazine and looked up. There he was, like a man who had just gotten out of the shower after a pleasing round of sex, standing there before her, uninhibited, a towel flung over his shoulder, the tightness in his groin now relaxed along with his facial expression.

“How are you, Gina?”

“Well, Frank, frankly, I haven’t felt this good in a while. You do know you’re naked, don’t you?” She blushed and put her hand to her mouth.

“Yes. I do know that. I’ve been washing your car,” he casually spoke.

“Well that was very nice of you. The old gal really needed a cleaning. I appreciate it a lot. But that doesn’t explain why you’re naked,” she said, not scolding him but sincerely wanting to know what was on his mind.

“You watched me. I’m glad. I did it for you, Gina. It’s my gift to you.”

“I don’t understand, Frank.”

“Gina, I know how sad and lonely you are here. I know you miss your social life. I know how much you miss being sexy and sexual. So, I thought I’d remind you that you still are.” His eyes left hers as he looked down at the floor, concentrating on what he was about to say next. Slowly looking up, he met her eyes again, “If you don’t mind me asking, do you think I am still sexy?”

“Hmm,” Gina sat up straighter, raised her finger up in the air and motioned for Frank to come closer.

He slowly stepped forward until Gina signaled for him to stop right where a shadow was cast across the floor, the perfect soft light surrounding his body. She studied his torso, trying not to stay too long on the mid- section. When her eyes landed on his feet, baby white from years of wearing boots, she said, “OK, now turn around,” still using her finger, like a trainer directing a seal. Frank slowly turned around and faced the door, dropping the towel on the floor. Gina studied his rugged back, bits of wild hairs scattered from his neck to the middle of his shoulder blades, the love-handles not as firm as they used to be, but darn cute, the tan line along his waist framing a very nice bottom, her second favorite part of a man. “OK, turn back around.”

She looked directly into his eyes and gave him a full report. “The way I see it Frank, you’re still a darn sexy man, and I think you look gorgeous, from head to toe. And by the way you moved out there on my car, it’s very possible she’s pregnant now.”

They both laughed, a hearty laugh between old friends that would’ve, and maybe could’ve been more, but both had a mutual love for Ellen.

“I’d love to stay and visit with you longer, Gina, but the way things are sizing up,” he glanced down at his groin, “I think it’s best I leave now.”

“Yes, I suppose you should,” she looked away and feeling tears welling up, she dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. “Frank, I have to tell you. That was the nicest gift anyone has ever given me. Thank you. I’ll never forget it.”

“And thank you, Gina.”

“For what, Frank?” Gina looked confused. “For being you.”

When Frank walked away, Gina slipped out of bed. “Wait, Frank, wait,” she cried out breathlessly, rushing toward him, clutching at her gown, the intoxicating scent of freshly sprayed Shalimar bursting from her pores.

Startled by how quickly she had moved across the room and was now just inches from his naked body, he looked at her curiously, “What is it?”

“Will you maybe, please, give me just one more gift, Frank?” she asked imploringly, eyelashes fluttering, her hands clasped together on her bosom, her top front teeth biting down on her lower quivering lip as if it were her final plea.

“Will you…will you wax my car?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Libby Belle

Native Texan, Mother of Six, Baby Boomer, Creative Writer, Muse
I live in Austin, a city that thrives on weirdness - a perfect place to nurture my wildly active imagination. Author of four volumes of short stories. Visit me at LibbyBelle.com.

 

 

 

 

     
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