“Louise!” Calvin blurted out when he recognized her.
“She won’t answer you, dearie,” explained a tourist in a Donald Duck–butt hat. “She’s pretending to be a statue,” the woman added helpfully.
“Ah,” said the tourist. “Elle ne répondra pas, monsieur . . .”
“Shh!” said Calvin, as politely as he could. “I get it.”
He turned back to the immobile, silver-hued flapper. Discovering her here on William Street, during an early-evening lull in the Twenties Festival, had taken him quite by surprise.
“Holy crap, that is you, Louise, isn’t it?” He squinted at her.
The tourist moved on, and Louise allowed her lips to part. “How are you, Calvin?” she murmured, through as much of a smile as her makeup would permit.
“Wow, it’s great to see you.”
“It’s very nice to see you, too.”
He grinned mischievously. “Do you mean that sincerely? Because you seem a little . . . stiff.”
“Hey, if I’d known you wanted to be put on a pedestal, I—”
“Fine, fine, keep ’em coming. I’m here all night—as you can see.”
He gave it a rest. “Been in Ottawa for the whole festival?” he asked.
“I didn’t get here till late last night. Our Dixieland group just had the one performance, over in the bandstand this afternoon. Tomorrow we go back to Montreal for the jazz fest.”
“Ah, heading east, then. I’m heading west tomorrow—a street-theater festival in Kingston. Then straight to Toronto. I’m actually moving there for a drama program.”
“Why is it you’re always heading west when I’m heading east?” he teased.
“I guess we’re just fundamentally incompatible. You know, ‘You say potato . . .’”
“Potato,” Calvin obliged.
“Damn, I’ve missed your sense of humor.”
“And I’ve missed your appreciation for my sense of humor. You wouldn’t believe how rare that is.”
“Oh, yes I would,” she retorted.
They laughed together.
“Okay, I’ve missed your sense of humor, too. So, um . . . what time do you get off your pedestal?”
“Nine. You wanna meet up then for an exciting evening?”
He’d forgotten that old routine. Every morning at the bookstore in Montreal, while they counted the cash drawer and made the coffee, Louise would ask Calvin if he’d had an “exciting evening” the night before. It all came back to him now, including the expected reply: “Off the excitement scales.” He smiled at the memory as he uttered that password.
“I’ll be back in two hours,” he added. “Don’t move from this spot.”
“Badoom-ding.” She was still, of course, speaking sotto voce, making this the quietest rimshot he’d ever been honored with.
“Uh-oh, here comes another tourist. I’m going to have to cut you cold.”
“Oh, that’s okay, I’m used to it.”
She smirked at his mock umbrage, and managed to quickly stick her tongue out before freezing up.
The newly arrived tourist was a middle-aged man whose T-shirt cracked wise about the quantity of alcohol the wearer had consumed in Key West. He spoke just as Calvin turned to leave.
“Did that statue stick her tongue out at you?”
“Désolé, je ne parle pas anglais,” Calvin shrugged apologetically, making his exit.
While he wandered the festival, he replayed their history in his mind. And he laughed at himself for thinking of it as a “history”: technically speaking, they had no history together—or at least no History. Had they ever even interacted outside of business hours? Calvin couldn’t remember a single time when he and Louise had headed in the same direction after locking up the store, or when they’d deliberately or even serendipitously intersected at a party or club. As discussed, she was always heading east when he was heading west; going home when he was going out; seeing a play when he was hearing a band; walking toward the quays when he was biking toward the park.
Their impromptu “date” tonight might well be the only official social engagement he’d ever had with Louise. How funny that it would happen away from the city they’d lived in together, half a decade after they’d both quit the job they’d shared for two years. He decided he liked that: The randomness. The distance. The lack of context. It somehow made it more special.
And it was special. At twenty-eight, Calvin was already weighed down by a sense that he’d let people he cared about slip out of his life—that he’d allowed entire parts of his young life to slip away. He knew that to some extent it was part of the natural course of things, but still it haunted him sometimes like a defect.
Now, this evening with Louise—one evening only—seemed somehow to represent a tiny repair to all this—a gesture to her, to himself, and to the world that he cherished an old friend when her path crossed his. That he had not forgotten what it felt like to work behind a counter with her, to accompany her through good shifts and bad shifts; to inhale the aroma of her shampoo, admire her ass in jeans, and, though they were never more than friends, go through secret phases of masturbating about her for days in a row.
Okay, there it was. He’d always had the hots for her. Yes, she was a treasured buddy he’d regrettably lost touch with, and all the rest of that friendity-friend stuff he’d been sentimentally contemplating. But, yeah, she was also someone he’d wanted to fuck.
With the admission under his belt, the music, street theater, and sightseeing activity all around him took on a restless quality. He began, instinctively, to walk faster, as if he had a destination.
“So, what do you want to do?”
“After being a statue for three hours? I want to pee, that’s what I want to do.”
“You’re right,” he said, with the gentle sarcasm they seemed to bring out in each other, “this is shaping up to be an exciting evening.”
“Hey, buster, I happen to enjoy peeing, and I’m looking forward to it very much. I almost took a break half an hour ago when I started to feel the call, but sometimes I like to just . . . well, a girl has to get her kicks somehow.”
The implicit confession made Calvin hard.
“And, of course, I also need to de-statuize myself. My stuff is in a locker at the convention center, and there’s a shower there I can use. The makeup comes off pretty quickly, if you don’t mind waiting a couple of minutes.”
“Sure. Let’s go.”
While Louise showered, Calvin occupied his eyes with the art displays in the convention center . . . and his mind with images of Louise showering. When she emerged, wearing jeans and a light pullover, he grinned at her, blinking in slight surprise.
“What?” she inquired. “Do I have soap on my nose or something?”
“No. It’s just that I’d forgotten you had a few freckles. I always liked your freckles.”
“Thank you. I like my freckles, too. That’s one of the drawbacks of having a veneer of silver makeup—it does rather tend to obscure one’s freckles. But it’s just as well, I guess. Freckles aren’t very statuesque.”
As they spoke, they made their way out of the building. “There’s a great pub a couple of blocks this way,” said Louise, with a directional cock of the head.
They walked slowly. Though the midsummer sun had finally set, Calvin thought he could still see bits of color in the sky.
“It’s weird how one remembers certain things and forgets other things, isn’t it?” he said.
“Yeah. For instance, I bet you don’t remember that CD we always used to play in the store—by Sherri and Blake.”
“Sweater Sparks. I loved that album. Remember the cover?”
“I especially remember the cover,” said Louise. “I thought that picture of the two of them, wearing nothing but those big sweaters, was sort of ambiguous. Intimate, maybe—and yet it kind of looked as if they weren’t inhabiting the same space. So you could believe they were sleeping together, if you wanted, or if you preferred you could interpret their body language as that of just pals.”
“I liked that. Because, you know . . . life can be unclear that way.” Suddenly her hand was in his back pocket.
Over their beers, she told him how the tourists would sometimes stare at her in the pubs—presumably because she looked vaguely familiar, yet they couldn’t quite place her as the “statue lady.”
“Occasionally they figure it out, though, and then I get all the questions about what if I have to sneeze, or what if I think of something funny . . .”
“Or what if you have to pee,” Calvin suggested.
Her pretty blush was detectable even in the dim lighting. “I have a feeling I’m going to regret telling you about that.”
“No you’re not.”
“Of course, when I’m at my post, I can’t answer questions at all. I think that may be my favorite thing about this line of work: being able to ignore the public.”
“You liked the bookstore, though, didn’t you?”
Her eyes glimmered at him. “Yes, Calvin. I liked the bookstore. Very much.”
“Excuse me.” Duck-butt-hat woman had evidently found her way into the pub when they weren’t looking, and now she was at Calvin’s elbow. “She’s the statue lady, isn’t she?”
“Yes,” said Louise, “I am. And I even talk, when I’m off duty.”
“I thought she was the statue lady,” said the tourist, continuing to address Calvin. Then she turned to Louise. “I wouldn’t have been sure, except that I remember him.”
“Glad I could help,” said Calvin, flashing a sheepish look at his friend.
“I’m pleased you’re enjoying the festival,” said Louise, with a gracious aloofness. “And now, since I am off duty . . .” She raised her eyebrows at their guest, to complete the thought.
She didn’t take the cue.
Calvin decided that this time he really would help. “Since she’s off duty . . . she guesses she’ll get back to her beer now. Do I have that right?”
Louise nodded with approval, slurping at the foam of her ale.
Though the woman had dematerialized as swiftly as she’d arrived, Louise worked on her beer a bit longer before breaking the silence. Calvin could sense that she was letting the mood shift back in their favor.
“So,” she said at last. “You want to come back to my room and make sweater sparks?”
Her hand floated in front of him in invitation, and he took hold of it. “I didn’t bring a sweater,” he noted.
“You can share mine, and we’ll improvise. Isn’t that what you Dixieland clarinets do best?”
He leaned in slowly and traced a finger across her top, following a sweater stripe from one nipple to the other. When the finger’s journey was complete, Louise jerked forward to kiss him, hard, her elbow skating crazily toward him on a cardboard coaster.
Outside the pub, she maneuvered him into a luxurious standing kiss, posing there with him—rendering both of them statuesque. Her ass was warm against his palms, and her mound pressed achingly onto his erection. “Wow, I haven’t been this wet for a guy in ages,” she said in his ear, her voice an even softer murmur than when she’d been on duty.
She didn’t leave his embrace for a second while they walked to the dorms the festival staff had borrowed. Enclosed by his arm and nestled against his ribs, she felt solid. And she seemed not only horny, but happy, a glow of contentment surrounding her end-of-festival-day fatigue and her frisky electricity.
Louise took her sandals and jeans off as soon as they were in her room. She looked adorable in lime panties and the gray and orange sweater. And when she sat on the bed, Calvin could see the dark spot where her arousal had seeped. He removed his own shoes, pants, and shorts; his cock appeared in its fullest form, swaying self-importantly with each breath he took.
She opened her arms and he joined her on the narrow mattress. “Sweater sparks,” he mumbled, fondling her breasts through the top. His cock teased the hollow behind her left knee, and her urgent fragrance sweetened the thick, heavy air of the room.
In between their hungry French kisses, he kissed the freckles around her nose. And he noticed that there were also faint freckles on her shoulders, a peppermint trail that trickled into the low-lying collar of her sweater. He nibbled there, and Louise moaned. Her hand was in her crotch; Calvin took the hint and moved one of his own there, rubbing the moist cotton slowly over the hot, sticky flesh that it veiled. He hypnotized himself as he masturbated her, anchoring his breathing on the wet plateau of her whimpers.
“Condom,” he finally grunted. “In my shirt pocket.”
In a flash of foil she had it out, open, and on. Then, for good measure, she unbuttoned his shirt, smiling at his naked chest.
Holding themselves close, but apart, their hands locked and their legs interbraced, they paused to give themselves the thrill of towering desire before going wild over each other’s bodies. Calvin’s cock danced at the ready . . . and Louise’s cunt, now bared, gaped with purpose, patiently impatient between her open thighs.
In another moment, their flesh had completely engaged. Almost comically, they both groaned “oh, yes” at once, as they gave in to the total liquid togetherness of their pleasure. Right away their synchronized movements rocked the little bed, and Louise soon began to punctuate every bedspring bounce with the word fuck, voiced deep in her throat. Each time she said it, Calvin had the illusion that the fur on his six-pack was actually sparking with the friction against her sweater.
The dorm walls were thin, and Calvin and Louise clearly weren’t the only people fucking tonight. Calvin wondered how many of these couples were tasting the peculiar magic of a single evening together.
But that stray rumination was dissolved by a beautiful wail, as Louise came with delicious force—grinding herself on Calvin so as to reward her clit, over and over. And with her extended orgasm taking over his world, the impossible tension in Calvin’s groin shattered, emptying out of him in a euphoric convulsion.
Afterward, while he experienced the numb tingle of slipping out of her, he became twice as conscious of her heat, her wetness. Of just how alive Louise was with warmth, wit, and sex.
They both had early buses to catch—a Greyhound for Louise, and a chartered orchestra bus for Calvin. The morning hovered peacefully around them when they stepped into the sunlight, leaving behind the metallic tang of the dorm stairwell.
“You going to do this festival again next summer?” Calvin asked.
“Excellent,” said Louise. “Another exciting evening to look forward to.”
“Yes. Off the scales.”
They laughed, their eyes meeting in the awareness that their old joke had shed its irony.
“And do me a favor?” said Louise.
“This time, don’t forget about my freckles.”
“We’re counting on you. Me and my freckles.”
They laughed some more, waving goodbye, as Louise walked west and Calvin turned east.