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Stranger in the Bonfire
© 2000 W. S. Dean

Valinde ho-hummed around the house, sighing in the living room, bigger sigh in the bedroom, then back to the living room.  She pouted her lower lip as she looked at the worn sofa, the repaired chairs, the scuffed coffee table.  She leaned over to pick up a couple of paperbacks that had been casually tossed on the floor after reading.  The pages were dog-eared; covers well-thumbed and even a couple of loose pages slipped askew as she stacked them on the table.  She pulled her cigarettes out of her shirt pocket and lit one, thinking all the while "I oughta just light the damned furniture, too.  Let this place burn down."

Instead, as always, she slumped down on the couch, stabbing the cigarette in and out of her mouth, taking deep drags and immediately puffing the smoke out in a strong stream that vanished half-way across the room.  After a minute, she looked at the glowing end of the remaining butt and stubbed it out in the ashtray until the last smidgeon of red fire was a dusty pile of black ash.

She crossed her arms over her chest then an instant later uncrossed them and began patting at her jeans pockets.  She spilled the meagre contents --- wallet, keys, a few coins, some twenty dollar bills, half a joint tucked in a matchbook, and a crumpled business card --- out on the table.  She smoothed out the card and held it close to her eyes.  She shook her head and tossed it back on the small pile; crossed her arms again and looked around the room.

The phone chirped and she flinched but let it ring until her answering machine clicked on.

"Okay, you’ve reached my machine.  You know what to do." Beep.

"Val? Val, it’s mother, pick up if you’re there."

Valinde looked at the machine and gritted her teeth.

"Your father’s got to go to Chicago tomorrow.  Business as usual.  I’m going with him.  You know I don’t trust him alone in a big city.  That man would be with some disgusting slut ten minutes after he arrived if I was there to watch him like a hawk.  Anyway, dear, I know we were planning to drop by and see you, but this came up.  I’ll call you when we get back."

Valinde listened as the machine clicked itself off.  She flipped her absent mother the finger.

Again her eyes swept around the room.  She could feel herself starting to cry.  She brushed her finger across her nose and sighed again, then reached out and picked up what was left of the joint and lit it.  She sucked in a deep drag and held it as the first tears started to course down her cheeks.  The grass was strong and after four hits, she wiped the tears off her face, stood and went into the bathroom for a tissue.  She blew her nose and flushed the tissue down the toilet.  She wiped a damp washcloth over her face and brushed her teeth.

As she passed the coffee table, she scooped up the money and business card and stuffed them in her pocket.  She paused for a moment in the outside doorway and looked back. "Don’t be here when I get back," she told the room and pulled the door shut.

She drove.  Aimlessly it felt like.  She didn’t want to see any friends.  All they would do was ask questions she didn’t want to answer or worse had no answer for.  She drove past all the old hang outs like a reluctant fugitive, keeping an eye out for familiar faces.  She saw a few but none looked her way.  There ought to be a place for strangers, she thought to herself.  Some place you could go where nobody knows your name.  And where you didn’t know anyone either.  Some place where the rules included no names, no life stories, no judgement calls, no exchange of phone numbers.

At a stoplight, she fished out the crumpled business card and read it over again, pretending she hadn’t already memorized every word and number on it.  The streets were almost deserted; no one to see her make that illegal U-turn.  She looked in the rear view mirror at the empty intersection then at her own reflected eyes.  I’m already acting crazy, she thought.

She wished she had a cell phone, but money was tight for her right now, so she stopped at the first gas station she saw that had a public phone.  She was amazed her hand didn’t even shake when she punched in the numbers.

One ring.  Two.  Five.  Nine. "Yeah? This better be good, I hadda come all the way in from the friggin’ fire pit."

Valinde smiled to herself and hung up the phone.  She started to get back in her car, then had an inspiration and borrowed the station key to the restroom.  She skinned her tight jeans off and then her panties; tugged her jeans back on.  She glanced back with a grin as she drove away, seeing her panties hanging from the door knob of the toilet.

A few miles later, she pulled off on a small side road that turned to gravel and then to hard-packed dirt.  From where she parked, she could see the red and yellow flames flickering above the fire pit and the dark silhouette of a man carrying large tree branches and throwing them easily into the fire.

Valinde walked closer until she was almost even with the yawning slit in the ground.  She could feel the waves of intense heat move over her, almost staggering her steps.  After a few moments, sweat began trickling down her face, under her arms, between her breasts.

The man was hauling a massive tree limb with both hands when he finally saw her.  He let it drop, narrowly missing his own feet.

"Christ on crutches, lady! Ya scared the shit outta me.  What the hell you doing here?"

Valinde came closer.  The man took a stumbling step backward, then froze in place as she quickly unbuttoned her shirt.  She slid her feet easily out of her unlaced running shoes as a sudden gust whipped the fire loudly.  She stepped closer to him and held his eyes as her fingers unzipped her jeans.  She let them hug her hips without falling as she walked the few steps separating her from the man.  He was shaking his head, looking from side to side, as she came within inches.  Without a word her hand reached out for his belt buckle.

"Hey! What the...!"

"I want to suck you," she said.

He finally grinned. "Yeah, well...I mean, let’s go inside...I got a cot or..."

"Here.  Right now."

"Well, but..." He gasped as her hand reached into his pants and her fingers slipped around his cock.  She grabbed his hand and pushed it into her own jeans.  His rough-gloved fingers on her swollen wetness made her grunt and squeeze her thighs together.  She stroked him and when she felt him begin to harden slipped down to her knees and ran her tongue over him.  The heat blasts from the fire pit felt like they were scorching her; out of focus her eyes saw blurry flickers and fiery leaps reflecting in the sweat on his hard muscled belly as her lips drank down his shaft.  Her tongue danced around the knob of him, her fingers tightly stroking along the base and then squeezing his large ball sac.

As she sucked him harder, she felt him go up on his toes and his legs start to quiver.  She pulled her mouth off him and looked up into his eyes, glowing red dots from the light of the fire pit.  He was so close already.  She couldn’t wait either.  She straightened her thumb beneath his shaft and started flexing her fingers curled around him while licking and sucking hard just on the head of his cock.

"Goddamnnnnn!" he groaned, pushing his hips forward.

Valinde felt the first hard pulse of his cock as he started coming in her mouth.  She didn’t hold it there or swallow, just let it spill and dribble out of her open mouth.  Three, four thick splashes, then a fifth much weaker.  She squeezed him tighter, milking out every drop.  Then she stood.  White droplets already dissolving on her lips, she leaned close and kissed his mouth.  She drew back and zipped up her jeans, then buttoned her shirt.  She smiled at him, turned and slipped her shoes back on.  He stood astonished, pants down, his cock slowly softening as he watched her leave.

Valinde stopped for a moment, fingers pulling out her pack of cigarettes.  She fingered them for a moment, stuck the crumpled business card into the pack then threw them hard into the fire pit.  And drove home.

© 2000 W.  S.  Dean.

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