After half an hour of saying goodnight and then liplocking for another five minutes without a unmingled breath passing, she finally says, “My car’s in the lot over there—you want to go park somewhere and fool around for a while?”

We end up along the river, a narrow strip of land just on the far side of town.  She drops her seatback and we start fooling. Her bra is hanging from my neck while I kiss hers and my hand is doing an emery board number on top of her bluejean shorts. Then all at once she grabs my head with both her hands and kisses me so hard I’m afraid she’ll literally suck my teeth from their sockets. It is thrilling and frightening at once, but I kiss her back as hard as I can and after a few seconds, this shared fit passes.

I begin to unbutton her jeans now. She pulls her mouth away from me for a moment and rasps through deep breaths, “So you’ve been writing a character like me?”

“Oh yeah,” I pant, but it’s nonsense. I’ve never even imagined anyone like her.

“Did your character ever have her period in your story?” she asks, making sure I understand the implication.

“Oh really?” I say.

“Yeah, sorry,” she replies. So I stick my hand in anyway, pushing the tampon out of the way, and she nearly explodes. She goes so rigid in the chair it’s like I stuck a rod up the center of her spine. There is a moment of extreme violence as she comes, gasping and yelping like an animal.

I haven’t forgotten this morning’s conversation with Dina, much as I’d like to. No matter how manly I feel at the moment, I’m not about to pass on any frisky creatures to this woman I hardly know. So when she tries to slip her hand into my pants, I say, “Maybe you’d better not,” and she pulls back without comment or slowing down. And then I relax and concentrate on making her a bouncy ball for the duration.

A few minutes later comes the knock on the window.

We both jump at the sound, and immediately I know what it is. Funny how that works—30 years since a cop last tapped on my car window, but the memory is fresh.

Carlotta rushes to cover up. As I straighten my clothes, I realize we’re in the middle of a monsoon. The storm that trailed me through New Jersey has finally caught up and is dousing the whole area. There is another knock—a bit more assertive this time—at the steamy window. I give Carlotta a look—she is just decent enough—and lower the glass.

“Yes officer?”

“Oh!” he exclaims. About our age, a bit jowly and thick in the middle, but a friendly face, a small-town cop, of the type I’ve gotten to know from seven years in Sexton. He‘s more embarrassed, suddenly, than we are. “Uh, I—uh—are you with the party over there?”

I see the campfire, quickly turning to steam, a hundred yards upriver. The kids around it are scattering for cover, but it’s pretty clear we aren’t with them. The cop is buying time, giving himself a moment longer to decide what to do with us.

Carlotta leans across me, her breasts bobbing conspicuously just inside the thin blouse.

“Just trying to get away from the kids for an hour or so, officer,” she says, and I could kiss her on the spot, just for the delivery. Here is the actress in her—the insouciant lean to the window, the sly, insinuating smile, her nipples at just the right angle and temperature, even the little rasp in her voice—it is superb, a ten-second Oscar performance.

And the cop appreciates it to the point of distraction. “Well,” he stammers, “I—uh. Okay. Look—I have to drive over that way, around the canalhouse over there? Just don’t be here when I get back, okay?” His voice drops to a whisper. “And see if you can find someplace more discreet.”

It is very sweet, the way he says it, a confidence among friends, or members of the same club—the grownups club. It feels funny, all at once, being a member of that club—I’d been feeling like a teenager again. There’s something about a woman writhing at your touch—and a cop knocking at your window—that makes a man 17 forever.



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