The shoveling of snow by men is a whole topic of its own, and one I find fascinating. It can be fatal. Every year, 100 men in the US die while shoveling snow. In contrast, several thousand people die from heart attacks during sex (I don’t know how many are men, but surely the majority). Suffice to say that dangerous times are ahead in our story: more snow has fallen on the city of Parnell PA, and Jennet’s “driveway” is in need of meticulous attention…
21. Flesh of My Flesh Thou Art
On Thursday evening, the forecast called for a serious winter storm. Jennet was glad that she had plenty of groceries on hand. The next morning she woke early to the sound of scraping shovels and snowblowers. She got up to check on the state of the snow, and saw Jonathan working in her driveway, methodically hefting one shovelful of snow after another in long, smooth strokes. She went to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee, combed her hair, brushed her teeth, and belted on a bathrobe over her nightgown. As he was finishing up, she opened the door and beckoned.
Today he had heavy gloves and a watch cap, as well as a wool sweater under his coat. He unlaced his boots at the door to avoid tracking snow into the house, pulled off his cap, and sat in stocking feet at her kitchen table, sipping hot black coffee—decaf, which was all she had on hand. He told her that the university had shut down for the day and classes were called off.
“How come you use a shovel, and not a snowblower?” she asked, offering him some Lucky Charms. He grimaced at the box and waved it away. “Snowblowers are for old folks and wusses.”
“What’s a wuss?” she asked smilingly, to provoke him. “That wouldn’t be anything like a pussy, would it?”
“That would be someone who’s too lazy to use a shovel,” he said, giving her a damping look. Wuss was a sexist expression, but more regular-guy sexist than misogynist. It was probably what Midwestern men said when they thought pussy was too vulgar. This side of Jonathan surprised her. Until now, she’d mostly seen the Jonathan who was high-strung, addicted to work, and slightly dandyish, with his seventeenth-century Cavalier hairstyle and flowing shirts. The advent of the winter snow seemed to bring out his rugged, Minnesota roots.
“A snowblower is okay for a really big job,” he went on, “but for your driveway it would be overkill. Plus, they’re noisy early in the morning.”
“Mmm,” she said flirtatiously. “I like a man who does it the old-fashioned way. Who has the right tool for the job.”
He shook his head warningly, his eyes on hers. “Cut that out.”
“I’m not a wuss, because I always use a shovel myself,” she went on. “What kind do you have? I think you should show me your tool.”
“Jennet…” He set down his coffee cup.
“I’d really like to try yours and see how it feels. You never know, the shaft might be too thick for my hand.” She could tell by the way he stared at her that her teasing was turning him on. “And I’m not that tall. Your… tool… might be too long for me.”
“Woman, you liked it well enough on Wednesday,” he growled.
“Yes,” she said, musingly. “I love those long, smooth strokes of yours. But you’re so efficient. You finished the job all too quickly. And there’s a certain spot you missed. I think your punishment should be to do it over again.”
“It’s six-thirty in the morning,” he argued. “And besides, I just shoveled eight inches of snow from my drive and yours. I’m probably pretty ripe by now.”
She got onto her crutches. “I’m about to take my shower. You can join me, if you like.” Slowly, she made her way down the hall, without looking back. In the master suite, the shower was a walk-in type with a curtain, and it had a grip bar as well as a little triangular seat. She’d never appreciated that shower so much as now, when she had mobility issues. She turned it on to heat up the water, and pulled off her robe, hopping on one foot and checking to make sure there were two towels handy. There was no sign of Jonathan, and she wondered if she had miscalculated. Maybe he’ll just leave. She sat on the toilet in her nightgown and gingerly removed her Velcro brace, and then drew off her gown and got under the spray.
A moment later, she felt a current of cold air as the curtain parted, and then he was behind her, snaking his arms around her waist and pulling her against him. God, she loved the feel of him. Even if this is all it can ever be, I’ll take it. They used the soap on each other, and he supported her, watching avidly as she washed between her legs and under her arms. Her eyes kept straying to his erection, and waves of desire lapped at her, higher and higher, like a tide coming in. Then they lathered their hair with her Johnson’s baby shampoo. She’d started using it herself when she had Kyle, and never stopped. They took turns rinsing. He was tender with her, and heedful of her bare ankle.
They kissed, with the hot spray raining down on them. He sat on the little bench, easing her onto his lap. Jennet leaned back against his chest, reaching down to slip him inside her, and gasping with pleasure as he filled her. Her legs were spread over his, not touching the floor, so she sat on him while he did the work. Each bounce and thrust drew an involuntary sound from her. Then, to her surprise, he reached forward and began touching her. She put her hand over his and showed him how to move his finger. The world began to contract as she focused on that finger and the storm of sensation quickly building up within her. He wasn’t moving his hips as much now, and she was momentarily distracted, wondering if he was losing his erection. Then, as she started to come, she became exquisitely aware of his presence inside her. He must have felt her quivering and contracting internally, because he made one of his low growly sounds and grasped her hips firmly. Suddenly he was pushing into her, hard, over and over, and her climax redoubled itself.
After they were both fully rinsed of all the remnants of sweat, soap and shampoo, toweling off proved to be a complicated process, but when she was finally dry enough to put her brace back on, he lifted her and carried her naked to the bed, still unmade from last night.
“It feels like there’s nothing in the world but us,” she whispered.
Jonathan kissed her ear and said into it, “For love, all love of other sights controls, and makes one little room an everywhere.” Her heart thrilled to his words. Was this his way of saying he loved her? Or his acknowledgment of her love?
He fitted himself around her as she lay on her right side, and threw one arm over her waist. It was like bedding down with a lithe, tawny leopard. There’s nobody like Jonathan, she thought as she drifted off. She hadn’t felt this happy in years.
Jonathan slept deeply, but only for about an hour. He woke to find Jennet, naked and warm, in the bed beside him. He stretched, and realized that he felt fantastic. Regular sex had its benefits. He’d gone so long without it that he had forgotten.
She came while we were in the shower. He was certain of it. The way her muscles contracted around him, the way she arched her back… and the sounds she made. He wanted to produce that reaction again. He began to daydream about the possibilities. Jennet on her hands and knees, looking around at him as he kneeled behind her. Or face down on the bed over a pile of pillows. Or sitting on a corner of his big mahogany bed at home, straddling the bedpost with spread legs, her arms twining around the thick, heavy shaft. Rubbing her cheek against it as he watched.
He began to wonder about her past experiences. How did he compare to her other lovers? Was his dick too small, or perhaps too big for her tastes? Of the women he’d slept with before Lorraine, one had been enthusiastic about his penis, but another, who was petite like Jennet, had complained that sex was painful. And as for Lorraine herself… she made her opinion clear enough.
Before coming to Parnell, Jennet had been in a long-term relationship. What if she and her ex got back together? His blood ran cold at the idea, and his heart began to batter itself painfully against his chest. How could he compete with other men, men who were able to offer so much more? This was why he ought to break it off, to return to the life he had known before Jennet Thorne, before it was too late.
As he sat there arguing with himself over whether to get dressed and leave, she woke and looked up at him with a smile. A dimple peeped out on her right cheek. The battle was lost, at least for the moment.
“Where’s your son? How come he isn’t giving you a hand?” he asked.
She seemed to take his abrupt question in stride. “He wanted to drive down from New York, but I told him I was fine.”
“And… his father?” This was what he really wanted to know.
She looked surprised. “Dougie? I haven’t seen him in twenty years. He wasn’t much involved in Kyle’s life,” she said, frowning. “I was fifteen when I got pregnant. His parents wanted me to have an abortion. They were shocked when I said no, and even more so when my parents supported me. My mother was a prominent feminist, so they assumed…”
“And Dougie? What was his opinion?” he asked. He strongly disliked this “Dougie.”
“I don’t know. His parents were so terrified that he might try to marry me, they forbade him to see me or Kyle. Later they relented, but he and Kyle never bonded.”
Jonathan was disgusted. He knew what his father would think of any man who sired a child and then failed to take responsibility for it. And yet, he himself had swived Jennet Thorne against the wall of his dining room, without a thought to using protection, for all the world like a thoughtless fifteen-year-old. If she’d become pregnant, would he have done the right thing? Yes. Of course. He could love a child, he was sure of it. A child was so different from a woman.
“And did you want to marry… Dougie?” He tried to keep the note of contempt from his voice.
“Not particularly. I received some financial support from him, or rather from his parents,” Jennet went on. “But it was a shame, for Kyle, that he didn’t have a father-figure other than my Dad. I tried to get him into Boy Scouts, but they discriminate against gays, so that didn’t work out. Kyle’s known he was gay since he was eight,” she explained.
He saw an opening to ask about the other man. “And your ex, the one you broke up with before coming here. How did he and Kyle get along?” He scrutinized her face as he said this, looking for a triumphant smile, or any sign that she perceived the truth: that he wanted to crush any man who had ever touched her, or ever would.
She looked troubled. “It’s kind of complicated. Are you sure you want to hear the story? You usually don’t go in for long conversations.”
He lay back on his pillow, face up. Jennet was right. He had no business delving into her life like this. He ought to leave. But I have to know. “Try me,” he suggested.
“Before I came out here, I lived in San Diego,” she said. “I worked at UC-San Diego. Tim was a reporter at a local TV station. We moved in together, and I thought things were going well, that maybe we’d get married. But then, after nearly five years, he started going to church with a friend, and one day he came home and said we had to have a talk.”
Jonathan’s church had been mainstream Lutheran, part of the social fabric of life in Maple Grove, and not known for its fervor. The most serious ritual of all was coffee and pastries in the church hall after services, when the women gathered to discuss their unfathomable feminine secrets, and the men talked comfortably of ice fishing, power tools, and the weather. Every so often, though, someone left the fold. “Let me guess. He was born again.”
“Yes. At first I thought he was playing some kind of practical joke on me. He said that he would be patient about waiting for me to convert, but that our relationship had to change. We had to get married because we were living in sin. And in our marriage, he was going to be the servant leader. He quoted Paul, as a matter of fact,” she said, laughing rather bitterly. Her hand found Jonathan’s and she gripped it, hard. He heard her voice change, as though she was fighting back tears. “The man is the head of the woman, he told me. And then he said that my son was an evil person and that God hated him.”
“I see.” This fool had driven Jennet Thorne away, all so that he could indulge his lust for the Bible and burnish his own ego. The man was obviously a drooling idiot. But is she still in love with him?
After a moment, she went on, “I packed my things that night and told him I never wanted to see him again. The University of California system was in terrible shape because of the economy, and people were losing tenured jobs right and left. So I put myself on the market, and luckily, I found the position here.” She was still holding his hand. “Tim moved to New York. Sometimes I see him on TV there when I’m visiting Kyle and Joel.”
Talking of her other lovers stoked a fire in him. He wanted to possess her, to hold her down, to make her his again. He rolled onto her, and seizing one of her wrists in each hand, covered her mouth with his.
Copyright 2015 by Linnet Moss
Notes: This story was completed in 2013. Until January 2014, the Boy Scouts of America prohibited “known or avowed homosexuals” from membership (as well as atheists and agnostics). At that time they changed their stance on gay scouts, but still banned gay troop leaders. A couple of days ago they announced an end to that ban, but local troops will still be permitted to discriminate. The Girl Scouts of America have long accepted gay scouts and troop leaders. They are currently adjusting their policies to include transgender girls.
Every time I think of Jonathan’s reaction to “Dougie,” I crack up.
While writing this story, feline metaphors gradually became my favorites for Jonathan. I think it’s because of his physical grace and ferocity, but also his independence.