Evening mists licked the feathered edges of the shadows as they lengthened across the valley floor. Dusk was enveloping the low depression and the tattered big top that stood in a sort of forlorn solitude, alone except for an equally neglected Winnebago and a rusted-out pickup parked nearby. Along the perimeter of the adjacent property overlooking the valley, banks of lights awakened in the gloaming to illuminate Alright Ford’s ranks of gleaming new cars.
Long fingers of pale illumination crept under the raised flaps of the tent where lines of empty folding chairs, arranged with precision like the crosses at Arlington, awaited the arrival of the evening’s congregation. Arliss Tate walked quickly to the front of the tent and pulled a thick canvas cover over the top of the baptismal tank before making his way in the growing darkness toward the battered Winnebago.
From the window of her darkened office, Jackie Alright watched the indistinct figure emerge from the side of the tent far below, and she felt the tightening of anticipation in the pit of her stomach. Her suit jacket, blouse and skirt lay in the chair beside her, and she was stepping out of her slip while the figure moved toward the dilapidated camper. A sense of urgency propelled her and she quickly stripped her bra and panties and tossed them on the pile of clothes. Cool air-conditioned air washed over her bare skin, puckering her nipples, and she cupped her breasts in her palms to warm them. She closed her eyes for a moment and instantly Arliss Tate’s face took form in her mind; a handsome face by any measure with a look of open, innocent earnestness that had taken hold in her imagination the moment she laid eyes on him just a week before. She leaned against the window subconsciously thumbing her nipples and felt again the warmth of his smile, the subtle hunger in his eyes when he looked at her and the strength in his hands when he shook her hand and thanked her for coming. Her pulse quickened as she imagined his eyes looking into hers and his hands exploring her flesh, and the beginnings of a smile curled the corners of her mouth. Her nipples throbbed and sensation flowed into her womb like hot lava. Her eyes blinked open in time to confirm that the subject of her fantasy had reached his destination, and then, she turned from the window and slipped a gray silk sheath dress over her head and shoulders. A tentative knock at the door interrupted her preparations.
“Come in,” she called out softly, still standing by the window, smoothing the wrinkles from her dress with her palms and plucking the fabric over her breasts to make her prominent nipples less conspicuous.
The door opened cautiously and revealed a young, blonde woman framed in the doorway.
“Miss Jackie?” the silhouette questioned, straining to see into the darkened office.
“What is it, Angie,” Jackie answered her new secretary.
“Your lawyer just sent up some papers for you to sign,” the girl answered gesturing with a large manila envelope.
“Oh, great,” Jackie replied. “I’ve been waiting for those. Just drop them on my desk, honey; I’ll look at them in a minute.”
The girl stepped hesitantly into the office and asked, “Do you want me to turn on the lights, Miss Jackie? It’s awful dark in here.”
“No thanks, Angie, I like it dark; helps me think better.”
The girl made her way to the desk, placing the envelope in the center and then turned to leave.
“What is it Angie?”
“I don’t mean to speak out of turn, Miss Jackie, but me and a lot of the others around here are real glad the way things have turned out for you, what with you taking over management of the dealership and all.”
“Why thank you, Angie, that’s sweet of you.”
“Well, I, ah, we just wanted you to know that we all thought he, Mr. Alright, that is, treated you real bad, and that he ought to be ashamed of himself for what all he done, especially after you gave up a modeling career and all to marry him.”
“Well, honey, don’t feel too sorry for me. You know I did pretty well for a five year investment.”
“Yessum,” the girl giggled, “we hear you skinned him right down to his socks and skivvies.”
“And, I left those only because I couldn’t bear another look at what was under them,” Jackie joked in return.
Angie giggled again and blurted out, “Oh, I know what you mean; Lucinda says there wasn’t much there to get excited about.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, who is Lucinda?”
“Oh, gosh,” the girl gulped, her eyes bulging in dismay, “I wasn’t supposed to tell that.”
“Well, who the hell is she?” Jackie was scowling.
“Please, Miss Jackie, please, just forget I said anything.”
Even in the poor light, the girl could see Jackie’s face darken.
Please, Miss Jackie, don’t do anything to her, please, I promised I wouldn’t tell.”
“She works in the finance department setting up loans for the customers.”
“Is she any good at her job?”
“Oh, yes, ma’am, she’s the best one over there.”
“How long has she worked here?”
“About six months, I guess; why, you aren’t going to fire her, are you?”
“Of course not, Angie, if I fired every woman my ex’s fucked in the last five years, this place would be empty and I would be importing women all the way from Raleigh just to answer the phone.”
“Oh, whew, thank you, ma’am,” the girl gasped with relief.
“I am a little surprised that the son of a bitch didn’t get into your pretty little panties though, honey. Don’t tell me he didn’t try.”
“Oh, no ma’am, I mean, ah, yes ma’am, oh, heck.”
“He tried, once.”
“He ‘tried?’ ‘Once?’ You know Bill didn’t like being turned down and he was very persistent.” Jackie watched the girl squirm.
“I told my boyfriend what he did, so he came up here and grabbed Mr. Alright by the collar and told him that if he even looked at me crosseyed again, he was gonna come up here and shove that flagpole out front so far up his ass that every time he opened his mouth ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ would start playing.”
“I would have loved to see that,” Jackie snickered.
“Absolutely; a sort of poetic justice, I think,” she answered mysteriously.
“Lets just say, Mr. Alright was pretty good at throwing his weight around to get what he wanted, but he wasn’t much good at giving a woman what she needed.”
“Oh,” Angie muttered a little embarassed.
“So, Angie, just between us girls, I got me a little catching up to do, if you know what I mean, and you need to get out of here so I can get started.”
“Ohhh, yes, ma’am,” the girl stammered.
“Good night, Angie,” Jackie said with a smile, but the girl had already gone and the only response was the fading click of her high heels on the hallway tiles.
Jackie turned on her desk lamp and sat down, quickly reading through her lawyer’s papers and signing them. Then, she lifted a small suitcase that had been sitting on the floor beside her desk and opened it. She slipped the envelope beneath a neatly folded towel and robe, then snapped the suitcase shut and walked, suitcase in hand, to the window. Night had fallen and the valley was cloaked in darkness except for the small pools of golden light in the grass beneath the Winnebago’s windows. She squeezed the handle of her suitcase, squinted her eyes and imagined the encounter taking place in the camper down below. In the soundproofed silence of her office she could almost hear voices rising in anger and protest, the shrill ebb and flow of fear and anxiety, and the final submission to the inevitable. Her loins throbbed at the possibility of an end to her frustration, and she licked her soft pink lips with relish.
A hundred feet from the Winny, the throbbing beat of “I Feel Like a Woman,” blaring from the open windows, enveloped Arliss like a swarm of buzzing gnats. He yanked open the door with a grimace and climbed in. Ardmore McCandless, engrossed, with his face nearly touching the screen of their tiny TV, ignored him.
“What the hell are you doing, old man?” Arliss yelled over the din.
“What’s it look like, L.D.? I’m watching a Shania Twain video,” Ardmore shouted back without turning away from the screen.
Arliss frowned at the mention of his nickname, a reminder of the dreary months he had spent as a carney with Johnny’s United Shows. “L.D.” had its origin in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and the reports that the nominee was fond of calling himself “Long Dong Silver.” The Ferris wheel operator, who shared a mattress with Arliss in the bed of one of Johnny’s pickups, heard about that boast, and it wasn’t long before he was telling the girls in the peep show that, if that was all the qualifications it took, ole Arliss was a shoe-in for the Supreme Court hisself. Well, one thing led to another and “Long Dong” got shortened to “L.D.,” and pretty soon every carney on the lot had taken to calling him “L.D,” and the nickname had stuck.
“The name’s Arliss, old man,” he corrected for the umpteenth time, and then he added, “You better back off that TV some or you’ll go blind.
“Shit, boy, I can’t help myself,” the old man panted breathlessly, wiping the spittle off his lips with the back of his hand. He pulled back enough to expose a corner of the screen. Shania was hanging on to the microphone with her knees spread apart and her tiny skirt slipping up her thighs high enough that he thought, if they just had a larger TV, he could probably see the thatch between her legs.
“Look at her, L.D.,” Ardmore gasped. “Every time she throws them legs apart like that and her skirt rides up on her, all I can think about is crawling up behind her and licking the crack of her gorgeous ass till she can’t sing no more for cummin.”
“God almighty, old man; you are depraved and disgusting.” Arliss shook his head in a ritualistic display of disgust.
Ardmore turned slowly toward the younger man to skewer him with a disdainful scowl.
“Boy,” Ardmore started in that rumbling tone he used for telling folks to dig deep when the plate comes around, “don’t tell me you ain’t ever fucked a woman’s ass.”
“Hell, no, I haven’t, and I don’t expect I ever will, either, you old pervert.” The denial has just the right ring of righteous indignation, and, of course, all the better, it was the truth.
“Then, I guess,” Ardmore rumbled again with a sour note of contempt, “you haven’t had a woman kneeling with your tongue stuck in her asshole and her pulling her cheeks apart with both hands and moaning and begging you to tongue-fuck her ass till she cums, have you now, sonny?”
“Course not; nobody does that. Why, you’re so old, you’re probably just confused about which hole you’re supposed to stick your tongue into.”
“Goddam, L.D., for the life of me, I don’t know how somebody with your looks can be so dumb when it comes to women,” Ardmore answered shaking his head in bewilderment, and, dismissing Arliss, he turned back to the TV screen. The credits were rolling up in the bottom corner of the screen and the music was fading.
“Shit, look at that, you made me miss the best part,” the old man fumed.
“Well, excuuuuuse me,” Arliss taunted. “I don’t recon you coulda seen her anyway, the way you been slobberin all over the TV screen.”
“Any is too much to miss of that woman, boy. That’s one hot piece of ass, I will guarantee you. Why, I bet if she was right here, bare-assed and horny, you wouldn’t have no trouble sticking that virgin tongue of yours up HER ass, now would you?
“I don’t have to make up my mind right now, do I?” Arliss deadpanned. “It’s not like she’s gonna show up for tonight’s service, is it?”
“You never know, kid; stranger things have happened under the big top. You just need to decide whether you’re going to grow up and become a man or stay a boy all your life. You want to become a man? There’s things you need to learn about how a man treats a woman, that’s all.”
“Yeah, well, licking butts sure isn’t one of them.”
Ardmore studied him for a minute and then switched the TV off. “Maybe you’re right, Arliss. I guess I’d be wasting my time arguing with a man of your vast experience.”
“I got all the experience I need on that account, Ardmore.”
“Whatever you say, son,” he nodded dismissively, and then, changing to a more serious subject, he asked, “How are you doing on tonight’s sermon? You’ve got to come through big for us or we’ll miss another payment on the Winny; that’ll make three since Easter, and the bank ain’t gonna like that even a little bit.”
“Goddam, Ardmore, I’m not ready to start preaching. You know I’m not ready. What the hell am I going to say to those folks?”
“What do you mean, ‘what are you going to say?’ We got all that worked out. You’re gonna preach the abortion sermon just like Bob Tilton does it on TV every single morning of the week. You have been watching him like I told you, ain’t you?”
“I watched Tilton some, but he don’t know any more about abortions than I do. ‘Seed vows’ are his scam; you send him a hundred bucks today and the Lord turns it into a thousand by the end of the month.”
“Funny, he don’t look that stupid to me,” Ardmore muttered. “Them ‘seed vows’ sound a lot like them boxes I used to sell to the rubes that come to the carnival. You know the ones that you put plain paper in one end and crank twenty-dollar bills out the other. Soon as it stopped workin, though, which was the minute the rube got home and tried cranking the thing for hisself, why they would be hoppin mad and looking you up for a refund or worse. I like promisin ’em nothing but salvation in the hereafter, L.D., so’s they can’t be comin back on me if I don’t come through on my promises.”
“That’s fine by me; you preach tonight. You can promise ’em anything you want. I’ll watch and help you take up the down-payments on salvation.” “Look, dammit, Arliss, we planned it like this, and you agreed. I announced it last night; you’re gonna be sermonizing ’em tonight, and by God, you better not make a liar out of me, now.”
“Hell, Ardmore, I can’t just get up there in front of all those people and starting yelling about abortion.”
“All what people, son? We ain’t had more’n twenty any night this week, and the more we preach, the fewer they are. We’ll be lucky to have ten tonight.”
“Ten’s more than I’m ready for.”
“Don’t count em and don’t look at all of them. What you do is pick out one and focus on him. It’s like you’re talking just to that one, and the others will fade right out of your mind.”
“That won’t work.”
“Sure it will. It works for me. Hey, maybe that foxy young thing that’s been writin us them big checks every night will show up again. You know the one I’m talking about, don’t you? She wears them slinky, tight dresses with the droopy tops and her half hanging out of em? She ain’t missed a night yet. She’s a looker that one”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Arliss, blushing, replied a little too quickly. It was a lie and he wasn’t too good at lying. Sure, he had seen her; she stuck out among the bib overalls and K-mart smocks like a new copper penny in a drawer full of nickels. And, it wasn’t just her expensive clothes that stood her out, no siree, cause that woman had more curves than the road over Independence Pass they took that time when the brakes nearly burned up. Why, just last night during the second sermon collection, he was standing right next to her holding the plate, waitin, while she leaned over to get her purse that was on the grass beside her chair, and the top of her dress sort of drooped open, and he thought her breasts were gonna spill out right there in front of God and everybody. They were big, full, firm looking breasts, and they were tanned right down to her bikini line, and he kept staring while she fished around her feet for that purse, and then he spotted the dark circles and tight little points of her nipples, and he realized that she wasn’t wearing no underwear at all under her dress and he nearly lost his grip on the plate. All of a sudden then, the smell of brakes burning came back to him and all he could think of was her gorgeous curves and him with no brakes, careening downhill outa control and headed straight for Hell. About then, she looked up and caught him counting the tiny puckers surrounding her nipples, and all she did was stare right back at him with the brownest eyes he had ever seen and a little curl of a knowing smile on her lips.
“That’s funny,” Ardmore continued with a dirty smirk and a snigger, the sound of his voice shattering Arliss’ memory like a stone hitting a tin pan, “I coulda sworn I seen her looking at you like she was all worked up to receive the Holy Ghost or something. Maybe you should preach at her, if she shows up tonight.”
“I don’t know,” Arliss answered, fretting nervously. “Why don’t you stay and give the fucking abortion sermon; you’re the one who’s always saying you’re ready for prime time.”
“You know why, dammit,” Ardmore growled. “I got to pay a visit to Mrs. Maedeen Merriweather back in Bayside, while her husband’s still in intensive care. You do remember that before we had to pull out of there, she was hinting at a right sizeable contribution to the cause, providin, of course, that I would come minister to her some in private. If I can get the Holy Spirit moving inside that old girl one more time, well, we might have enough to do more than catch up on a couple of those late payments.”
“Unhuh,” Arliss nodded without attempting to mask his skepticism, “so now you’re calling it the ‘Holy Spirit?'”
“How else would you explain it, L.D.?” Ardmore grinned back at him. “When I get down to the serious ministering, why, they always start moaning and shoutin out, ‘Sweet Jesus,’ or ‘oh, my God’ or ‘good Lord, yes,’ you know stuff like that, so I figure it must be the Holy Spirit causin them to take spells and all.”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” Arliss groaned in disbelief. “Why her? Why not just bamboozle some old bag right here and save yourself the trip to Backwater?”
“Bayside,” Ardmore corrected. “Cause, boy, her pump’s done primed and ready, and she’s got herself a real nice doublewide up a holler with a little farm and a tobacco crop that’s near ready to come in. Soon as she can screw up the nerve to tell them doctors to take the old coot off life support, all that’ll be hers, and I don’t have to tell you how much cable television time that would buy. Why, with the right ministerin from me, sonny, you just might be lookin at the next Jimmy Swaggert.”
“Shit, Ardmore, you’re dreamin again. I’ve heard all this before, haven’t I? The last time, you were going to reinvent yourself as Jim Bakker.”
“That was two states back,” Ardmore snapped, bristling at the reminder of lost opportunity, “and she was this close.” He was holding his hand right in front of Arliss’ face with his thumb and forefinger so close they looked to be touching. “If that fucking sheriff’s deputy hadn’t showed up with them papers, I could have hung around long enough to close the deal, and then, sonny, it woulda been you and me over in Nashville, sittin on them big soft couches in Twitty City, broadcasting our message all over the country and rakin in prayer pledges by the bushel basket.” His face was turning red and his hand shook. ” This fucking close,” he sputtered.
“Take it easy, old man, or you’ll have a stroke yourself,” Arliss answered, doing his best to sound calm. He pushed Ardmore’s hand away from his face and continued, “All this crap ain’t helping me one bit with the sermon I’m gonna have to give, is it?”
“Naw, I guess not, L.D.,” Ardmore answered, his countenance brightening like sunshine after a rain and, reaching into his pocket for a comb, he continued, “and I’ve got to be going. I promised I’d be there before it got dark.” He leaned to catch his reflection in the window and began slicking back his graying hair.
“That’s it? You’re just going to walk out and leave me?”
“Look,” Ardmore began, and he actually sounded slightly solicitous, “you’re just nervous; it’s stage fright. Everybody gets it at first, but you’ll get over it. What you need is a prop, something to draw attention away from you while you’re up there.”
“A ‘prop?’ Where in hell am I going to get a ‘prop’ this late? The service’s supposed to start in an hour.” It was Arliss’ turn to redden.
“Let me think a minute, sonny.” Ardmore was squinting hard and rubbing his forehead with two fingers.
Arliss waited impatiently while the clock on the counter ticked ominously, and, then, Ardmore’s eyes popped open as if to announce an epiphany.
“Do we still have that barbecued possum the widow Whitson brought us the other night?”
“Hell, yes, we still have it. You don’t think anybody was actually going to eat the nasty thing, do you?”
“Where is it, then?”
“In the fridge; in a two gallon zip lock baggie, behind your case of Coors.”
“Good. Now, here’s what you’re gonna do. You take that baggie with the possum in it, and you put it in one of those brown paper grocery sacks. Got it?”
“Yeah. Then what?”
“Then, when the congregation’s all seated and expectant like, you’re gonna walk in there carrying that grocery sack, and you’re gonna set it right down on the altar in front of all of ’em. Believe me, there won’t be an eye in the house that won’t be stuck like glue on that sack.”
“Okay, but what about when I start talking? Even this bunch of hayseeds isn’t stupid enough to stare at a grocery sack for a whole sermon.”
“That’s the best part, kid. When they start getting restless and shifting their eyes back toward you, all you got to do is walk over and pick up the sack and shake it at em. Then, you tell em that the contents of that sack was brought to us at grave peril by our loyalest and bravest supporters, folks who’s willin to lay down their lives doin the Lord’s work. By then, they’ll be sittin on the edges of them seats with their mouths hanging open, trying to guess what’s in that bag.”
“Oh, great, they’ll probably take after me with pitchforks, when I tell ’em it’s just a barbecued possum.”
“Hell, you don’t tell em that, boy; you’re gonna reach inta that sack and real slow like start pullin that possum out and you’re gonna tell them what you got in that sack is one of them dead baby whatchamacallits.”
“A ‘fetus?'” Arliss shrieked in disbelief. “You actually expect me to pull a barbecued possum out of a grocery sack and tell them it’s a fetus?”
“Of course I do,” Ardmore answered, nodding his head matter of factly. He had, after all, spent most of his carnival years running the shell game or one of the endless variations of it, so such slight of hand feats were second nature to him, and he had boundless confidence in the gullibility of common folks.
“Maybe you could get away with it, old man, you got plenty of experience at snookering people.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake, sonny, you’re not going to pass the fucking thing around for ’em to play with; you’re just going to wave that baggie full of possum back and forth for a few seconds and then put it back in the sack. Of course, you can pull it off.”
“I don’t know; what makes you so sure?”
“Look at what you got going for you, boy. The light’s so bad under that tent you couldn’t recognize your own mother if she was standing right in front of you, and the first row of seats is at least ten feet from where you’ll be standing. Besides, best part of all is that ain’t a one of them hicks ever seen one of them, uh, ah…”
“‘Fetuses?'” Arliss volunteered helpfully.
“Yeah, right, whatever,” Ardmore answered impatiently. “Now, look, it’s late and I got to go take care of Mrs. Merriweather, or you and me’ll be walking to our next gig. You do like I tell you, and you’ll be fine. Understand?”
“Hell, yes, I understand. I understand I got about as much chance of passin off a barbecued possum for a fetus as you got of humpin that old bag outa all her worldly possessions.”
“Don’t overrate yourself, L.D., you got less chance, but you also got no choice.”
“How come, I don’t have any choices around here?”
“Don’t make me spell it out for you, boy. I cut you loose and you’re through. Me? I don’t need all this setup. I could make a livin off a flat rock; I know how to get by. But, you? You wouldn’t last five minutes on your own, cause they ain’t no call for ex-tilt-a-whirl operators, now are they?”
“I might do better than you expect, Ardmore.”
“You surely might, sonny, and tonight’s as good a time as any to start doin it.”
“Oh, hell, fuck it. I can’t do worse than make a fool out of myself, I guess.”
“Getting less than two hundred in the plate would be a lot worse.”
“Jesus, Ardmore, get the hell out of here, if you’re going. I got enough to worry about what with having to wave a fucking baggie full of barbecued possum around in the middle of my first sermon, I sure don’t need to be worrying about finances, too.”
“You do the first thing right, boy, and it’ll take care of the second,” Ardmore advised as he pulled on a slightly stained white satin jacket. “Now, you come out and help me jump the pickup off the Winney’s battery so’s I don’t get dirty.”
Later, like a lifetime later, or so it seemed to him, Arliss found himself sitting in the Winny, staring down at a truly pitiful collection of coins and crumpled dollar bills scattered across the dinette table, nursing his third beer and wondering what in Hell had gone wrong with his sermon. Well, Ardmore, ole buddy, he ruminated, I not only made a fool of myself tonight, I came up about a hundred and eighty short of the two hundred you told me to get, so I guess you could call this a pretty piss poor night. His recriminations were interrupted by a soft knocking on the Winney’s flimsy door and, only half believing his ears he did a double take in the direction of the sound. He heard it again, and, without getting out of his chair, he leaned across the kitchen and threw open the door.
“Yeah?” he snapped inhospitably, unable to see the visitor standing in the shadows.
“Hello, Brother Tate, remember me?” Jackie Alright stepped into the light and looked at him expectantly.
“Oh, yes, ma’am, I surely do,” he replied a little wistfully; the vision of her bared, congested nipples fogged his mind for an instant. “It’s Mrs. Alright, isn’t it?” he asked, recalling the sweeping, bold signature on her checks in the collection plate.
“That’s right, but if you let me in, I’ll let you call me Jackie like everybody else.”
“Oh, sure,” he sputtered. “Come in, come in. Please. I’m sorry I forgot my manners. It’s just…”
She didn’t wait for his explanation, but stepped quickly into the tiny space inside the camper. Soft light bathed her curves and lit her face and for an instant Arliss fantasized that maybe God had beamed Shania or someone even better into the Winny after all.
“What can I do for you, Mrs. Alright?” he asked politely, abandoning that fantasy.
“For starters, you can stop with the ‘Mrs,’ that’s all over with now. My divorce was final day before yesterday.”
“And, for seconds, do you have another one of those?” she asked, indicating the open can of Coors on the table.
“Oh, sure. Coors is about the only thing around here that’s not in short supply. Help yourself; they’re in the fridge.
Jackie snapped the tab with a crimson nail and gave Arliss a smoldering look over the rim of her can as she took a sip.
“Looks like the collection plates came up nearly empty,” she observed casually as her gaze shifted from his face to the table.
“I guess you could say my first sermon fell a little short of having the desired effect,” he shrugged, and then he looked at her warily and asked, “You aren’t from the bank are you?”
“No,” she laughed. “I own the Ford dealership over there, behind you, or half of it, anyway; repossessing Winnebagos is not in my repertoire.”
“Whew,” he grinned, “that’s good news, and the dealership thing explains those two hundred dollar checks you’ve been writing us every night.”
“I want you to do well and keep up the good work. That’s why I stopped by, to tell you how much I liked your sermon tonight.”
“You did? You sure fooled me, Miss Alright. You walked out in the middle of it along with most of the rest of them. There weren’t six left in the congregation when I quit.”
She took another sip and licked her lips with the tip of the pinkest tongue Arliss had ever seen. “I slipped out with the others to powder my nose, and I just can’t stand to use those Portolets you’ve got out there, so I went to the dealership and it took me a while to get back.”
“So you weren’t mad like the rest of them?”
“Of course not, silly,” she laughed again, tipping her can.
“May I?” she asked, reaching to open the refrigerator without waiting for an invitation. “I haven’t had a beer in so long, I’ve forgotten how good they taste. Guess, I’ve got some catching up to do on lots of things.” Her tone hinted at the purgatory of self-denial she had endured during the many months her divorce was pending, but he was enmeshed in his own misery and missed it.
“Help yourself. The thousand bucks you’ve put in the plate this week entitles you to all the beer you want.”
“Thanks. I’ll write you another check for the collection I missed tonight.”
“Forget it. I’ll still be short two hundred. Ardmore’s done come to count on your checks; says I’m supposed to squeeze another two hundred out of the hayseeds on top of yours.”
“If you would rather have cash,” she said solicitously while reaching for her purse, “you could fib a little and tell him I didn’t come tonight.”
“Naw, but thanks for the thought. He would just start thinking I’m some sort of Billy Graham and want me to do it again at the next stop. It would just postpone my downfall.”
“You know what went wrong tonight, don’t you?” she inquired gently.
“I’m not sure. I thought things were going okay for a while, but then, all of a sudden, everybody started squirming around and whispering and pretty soon they started getting up and leaving. I haven’t figured out why.”
“I think you lost them with that possum in a poke trick.” Jackie hid behind her beer and tried to stifle a giggle.
“Possum?” Arliss yelped defensively. “What possum?”
“The possum in the baggie you tried to pass of as a fetus, that’s what possum.” Her eyes twinkled, and she had to cough to conceal a chuckle.
“Oh hell,” he gasped. “Ardmore swore ain’t none of them hayseeds ever seen a fetus, so wouldn’t none of them know the difference.”
“Yeah, but what Ardmore didn’t think about was that every one of those hayseeds has seen a barbecued possum in a baggie, most of them a couple times a week. Times are hard and folks got to eat; possum’s regular fare on most tables around here.”
“I’m gonna be sick.”
“These folks may be simple, but they aren’t dumb, and they sure don’t like anybody trying to put one over on them, especially when it comes to usin Jesus to trick them out of what little money they have. That’s why you lost them tonight.”
“I think I’m gonna kill Ardmore when he gets back tomorrow.”
She lowered her eyelids to slits, and he could almost see flames dancing in her pupils as she watched him over the rim of her can. “You almost lost me, too; before the possum trick. Did you know that?” Her voice had a smoldering quality.
“No, ma’am,” he replied in bewilderment, shaking his head.
“It was the part right after fornication, when you laid into sodomy for being a sin worse than killing babies. You called it an ‘abomination.’ Remember?”
“I like sodomy.” Her voice was smooth as silk and calm like she was reading off that morning’s shopping list, and her eyes never left his.
“You what?” he croaked in disbelief.
“I like sodomy,” she repeated patiently, pronouncing the word with such relish he imagined it was a chocolate melting on her tongue. “More to the point, I like being sodomized. You might even say it is one of my favorite things, of a sexual nature, that is.”
“My God, Ardmore’s right.
“If he told you that I like the feeling of a man being inside me there, then, he is right,” she purred.
“No, no, not you specifically,” he protested, “just women in general.”
“I only know what I like; what feels good to me.” She finished her beer and set the empty can on the table.
“Oh, my God.”
“I don’t think God cares much one way or the other what I do with my body or let anybody else do to it. Do you?”
“Well, uh, no, uh, yes, ah, I mean, aw, hell, I don’t know. It’s supposed to be a sin, isn’t it?”
“You’ve never done it, have you?”
He blushed, turning beet red and couldn’t answer for a minute. Then, he reached for another beer and while she wasn’t skewering him with those piercing eyes, he sputtered, “That hasn’t got anything to do with it.”
“Knowledge and understanding have everything to do with it, Arliss,” she said. “You shouldn’t be so quick to condemn those who like doing things you haven’t tried.”
“I wasn’t condemning the people, just the act, and I don’t have to kill someone to know it’s wrong and a sin.”
“Oh, sweet Jesus, save me from narrow-minded preachers,” she groaned playfully. “There you go, weighing murder and sex on the same scale like they were somehow similar.”
“They’re both sins,” he protested lamely.
“Are they really?” she answered archly. “What’s so sinful about a woman giving her body, all of it, to a man?”
“I mean the sodomy part.”
“Are you sure about that? I don’t remember God passing out a laundry list of sexual does and don’ts, do you?”
“Well, not exactly,” he conceded. He had exceeded the limits of his theological underpinnings long before this point in the conversation and was beginning to feel the sands of logic shift under his feet.
“Nice suit,” she remarked, changing the subject. His coat was hanging on the back of a chair beside the table and her fingers caressed the fabric as she spoke.
“Thanks,” he replied relieved at having been excused from defending his sermon. “It’s not mine, not to keep, anyway. It’s just out on approval; Ardmore says it goes back to the store on Monday.”
“But, you’ve worn it already, and the tags are off,” she observed.
“Ardmore does it all the time. Gets a suit on approval, wears it a few times, then sews the labels back on and takes it back. Who’s to know the difference, he says.”
“The way he sweats when he’s preaching, I’d say just about everybody within ten feet of any suit he’s worn would know the difference.”
“Brother, are you right about that. I keep tellin him to take a bath but he just says that wading in the Holy Water during baptisms is all the cleansing he needs.”
“Ah, that reminds me. I do have one a favor to ask of you; it’s another of the reasons I came tonight.”
“What’s that, Miss Alright? I’ll do whatever you want.”
“Is that a fact, Arliss?” she purred steamily, and he felt the temperature in the camper rise about ten degrees.
“Yes, ma’am, anything.”
“I want you to baptize me.”
“Yes, you, tonight, and stop calling me ‘ma’am,’ I’m not that much older than you. It’s just Jackie, okay?” She was fingering a strand of pearls that dangled from her neck into her cleavage like a crumb trail for his eyes to follow through the forest of his uncertainty. His eyes swept her curves, and he tried to imagine her emerging from the baptismal tank soaked to the skin with one of those cheap, nylon baptismal gowns stuck to her like Saran wrap.
“That’s not my department, Jackie. Come back tomorrow and Ardmore’ll do it for you.”
“I don’t want Ardmore; I want you. Don’t I have the right to choose?”
“Well, yes, I guess so, but Ardmore has more experience. I’ve never done a baptism.”
“It’s not, like, complicated or anything, is it? Surely you know how. Hell, I’ve seen enough of them this past week, I could probably do my own, but it wouldn’t be the same.”
“Yeah, I know how. I’ve seen a thousand, I guess.”
“That’s my boy. You gotta lose your virginity sometime and tonight’s as good a time as any. You’ll never find a more willing partner, either.”
His mouth dropped open, and he gaped at her in astonishment until she winked and said, “For the baptism, Arliss, the baptism.”
He inhaled with a sigh she took to be relief, and said, “Okay, I’ll do it. If that’s what you want, I’ll do it.”
“Good boy,” she said, purring again. “Now, give me one of those baptismal gowns yall use so I don’t ruin my dress.”
Arliss waited in the shadows just under the edge of the tent while she changed. The dealership lights had turned themselves off, but the moon was up, and he could see its reflection wavering in the dark baptismal waters. In a few moments, he saw a wink of light as the Winney’s door opened and closed, and then, there she was, floating toward him across the grass like a wisp of white smoke.
“Arliss?” she called out to him.
“Over here,” he replied, and she turned toward the sound of his voice.
“It’s so dark, I can’t see you.”
“It’s not so bad; your eyes will adjust in a minute,” he replied softly, moving to intercept her and guide her to the tent.
His hand on her arm was firm but gentle, and the touch set her to tingling. She put her hand on his and leaned against him in the dark. Her full curves, warmly indistinct beneath the billowing gown, brushed against him. “You’ll have to lead me, Arliss,” she breathed in a whisper, “I can’t see a thing.”
He felt the heavy swell of her breast pressing his arm and the wide sweep of her hip tight to his own as she leaned against him for reassurance. She stumbled on the uneven ground, and he quickly circled her waist with his arm. She blinked and squinted and leaned closer to his warmth.
“Don’t let me go,” she said, clutching his hand.
“I won’t,” he replied, hoping she wouldn’t notice the catch in his throat.
“Are we almost there?”
“Oh, yes, there’s the tent,” she giggled, as her sight returned, but she still clung to his arm. Then, she lifted her face and smiled at him, “You saved me; I was so blind, I could have wandered off into the night and been lost forever.”
“And have me miss the chance to baptize the prettiest woman that’s ever come to a Joyful Uprising revival? Not a chance I would let that happen.”
“My, you are a sweet man,” she chuckled, “but still, maybe I shouldn’t have told them to turn out the dealership lights.”
“I wondered why they shut down so early,” he replied puzzled.
“A girl’s got to be careful about being seen too clearly when she’s soaking wet,” she laughed.
“I hear that,” he chuckled. “Ardmore says some of em come up so ugly he wants to push em back down and hold em under till the bubbles stop coming up, and it’s only the powerful hand of God that stops him, but I don’t think you’ll have a thing to worry about on that account.”
“Well, thanks, I guess,” she said, smiling at his awkward compliment, “still a little darkness won’t hurt anything.”
“Maybe, but the moon’s coming up pretty quick,” he observed as he led her under the edge of the tent.
“There it is; I can see it now,” she chirped excitedly as the outlines of the tank took shape in the dim light. She stepped toward the tank, pulling him after her by the hand.
She reached the tank and plunged her hand into the black water. “Wow!” she exclaimed, “That’s warm.”
“The air’s cool; makes the water feel warm.”
“I want to get in,” she said, kicking off her shoes.
“Be my guest. I’ll be with you soon as I unlace these boots.”
“Do you wear combat boots with all your suits?” she asked as she mounted the makeshift steps along side the tank.
“No, ma’am, just this one,” he laughed. “They tone it down some, don’t they.”
“I would say so; makes you fit right in with the congregation.” She stepped lightly across the platform at the top of the steps and tested the water again with her toes.
Without waiting for him, she lowered herself, step by step, into the dark water. It rose, first to her calves, then to her knees and, when she stepped off the bottom step, it rose again and stopped at mid-thigh. She pushed her legs through the water, appearing to float over the surface like a swan, and the gown flowed train-like behind her. She stopped in mid-tank, turning toward him, and the trailing gown wrapped itself around her legs.
“There,” he grunted, pulling his remaining boot off and setting it on the ground. He stood and stepped toward the tank.
“You’re forgetting something, aren’t you?” she asked, wrestling to free herself from the gown.
“What?” he answered, glancing down in bewilderment.
“Your pants, silly.”
“What about my pants?” He was confused.
“You’ll ruin them if you get them wet. You’re going to sew the labels back on and return them tomorrow. Remember? Nobody’s going to take back a pair of suit pants that you’ve been swimming in, are they?”
“Oh, hell, you’re right,” he grumbled. “I better go back to the Winny and change.”
“Forget it. Just take them off and get in here.”
“What? I can’t do that. I mean, all I got on under them are my shorts.”
“I won’t look, besides, it’s too dark in here to see much anyway, I already took care of that.”
“Are you sure? I don’t think preachers are supposed to do baptisms in their underwear.”
“Hell, yes, I’m sure, honey,” she teased. “You won’t be the first man I’ve seen in his underwear, and, after that trick you pulled with the possum, I don’t see any of your congregation hanging around to complain, either.”
“Don’t remind me,” he groaned as he fumbled with his belt buckle.
She stared, cat-like in the dark, as he loosened his belt and unzipped his pants. His thumbs hooked the waistband and slipped the trousers over his hips and down his legs. He stooped to remove them leg at a time, and she rose on tiptoes to follow his progress. When, at last, he had removed the pants, he turned toward her, and she could see in the split between the tails of his shirt a smudge of reflected light at the junction of his thighs. He climbed the steps to the tank, and she eyed him surreptitiously. His shirttails separated revealing a rounded, heavy bulge in the cup of his briefs, and she felt the thrill of anticipation. He lowered himself into the water and waded toward her. The water lapped at his thighs not quite reaching the swelled mound between his legs.
“Hold on a minute,” she breathed breathlessly. She continued to tug the wetted material of the gown that had seized her legs with octopus-like tentacles.
He halted, waiting.
“What size is this thing?” she asked plucking the copious folds of cloth over her chest.
“Huge. One size fits all, you know. We’ve dunked some whoppers in that gown.”
“I hate it,” she stated. Her fingers toyed with the snap at her throat.
“It’s all I had.”
“I’m taking it off. I want to be naked when you baptize me.”
“Now, wait a minute,” he gasped extending his hands, palm out, toward her. “I don’t think…..”
“It’s my choice, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know about that. Ardmore does babies naked sometimes, yeah, but I don’t know about grownups.”
“Then, there’s no rule against it, is there?” She tugged the collar snap open as she spoke, and, mesmerized, his eyes followed her fingers.
“Not that I know of, but it’s never come up before.”
“It’s coming up now, Arliss,” she breathed his name in a soft hiss and loosened two more snaps. The gown opened at the throat, and her tanned skin peeked through. “I came into this world naked, and I want to be reborn into it naked, too.”
He froze, immobilized in waters that he felt sure were soon to be over his head. Her fingers probed the folds of fabric, and he could feel the pounding of his blood rushing in his ears.
Snaps popped open, cracking like firecrackers in the late-night stillness, and she took a step toward him. Moonlight glittered in her eyes and glinted in the curls of her hair. He measured time in the rise and fall of his chest as she looked at him and fingered the remaining snaps.
“That’ll be okay with you, won’t it, Arliss; to baptize me naked?” Her voice was soft as a lover’s caress as she shrugged her shoulders to free herself and let the gown slip down her back.
His eyes dropped to her exposed breasts, heavy, browned globes emblazoned with tiny triangles of milk-white skin. Nipples, darkly congested, encircled by deeply wrinkled areolas, thrust toward him. She let him stare for a moment, then took a step closer. The loosened gown fell free and slipped beneath the water as her eyes searched his and contested him for mastery of the moment.
His mouth gaped. His eyes slid down the downy slope to the bottom of her belly and the closely cropped, narrowly waxed wedge of her bush. Fleeting visions of mid-way, carnie girls and their tangled, unruly mops flickered briefly in his memory, then dissipated when she stepped closer.
“I mean, you don’t really mind, do you?” She was close enough to whisper. So close, he could feel the heat from her body through his shirt. Close enough to smell her mingled fragrances. Close enough to feel her in the tingling short hairs on his neck. His pulse quickened and a warmth, at once both foreign and familiar, flickered in his belly.
He blinked an answer of sorts and under the water her knees brushed his. She pierced him with her gaze, eyes shimmering like pools of black water, and then she sobbed as though baptism was the answer to a thousand prayers, “I’m ready, Arliss, I’m ready, now.”
He reached for her awkwardly and positioned his feet outside hers so her legs were between his. He put one hand in the small of her back and the other behind her neck to support her.
“Lean back when I tell you,” he said. “I won’t let you fall.”
Her hands fluttered nervously at her sides. The positioning felt insecure. “Wait,” she protested, but he was already pressing closer, leaning toward her and forcing her backward. Then, she felt him. His bulging cup was pressing against the flat of her belly, a tightly coiled spring flattening against her softest curves. She gulped and felt him straddling her hips, trying to coax her feet to slide through the space between his legs. Her feet churned for a purchase and skidded on the slippery bottom of the tank. His hands pressed and lifted, and her hips floated up to meet his at the choppy surface of the water.
“I’m no good at this,” he protested, his hands slipping on her slick, wet skin.
“No, no, you’re doing fine,” she encouraged as her nearly hairless slit skidded across the firm cotton cup of his briefs. Her nerve endings sparkled, and she bit her lip to suppress a squeal. Her hips rose again, reflexively, sending out small tidal waves to the far edges of the pool, and she bumped him again with her bare sex.
He hunkered over her, holding her squirming body above the water, and felt her touching him. Images bloomed in his mind; her sex spreading, lips opening, a thrush of hot pink blushing inside, the sweet oils of her essence oozing from her gaping opening, teasing the growing length of his cock. He felt himself swelling, responding to innocent, inadvertent contact with prurient fervor.
He shut his eyes, trying to block the awareness of her touch, but he grew in spite of his denial. He lengthened, stretching weak elastic and elongating the confines of his cup. Oh God, no, he gasped in quiet desperation, she’s got to feel that. She was surging beneath him, between his legs, her hands gripping his hips for support and every lunge mashed her sex against his hardening cock. His fingers dug into the small of her back. She arched and gripped his upper arms with claw-like fingers. She lifted herself, with his help, and her dripping pussy broke the surface of the water to ride the length of his erection.
“Hurry, Arliss,” she moaned. She threw her head back, pointing her chin toward the tent roof above them and the tip-ends of her hair were dragging in the water.
“I can’t remember the words, damnit,” he cursed with fragmenting concentration.
“Forget the fucking words, just dunk me.” Her tone conveyed a sense of urgency, but it was her use of the word, “fuck” that galvanized him.
His cock throbbed and lurched in his shorts. Primal desire propelled him, and he lifted her hips to his body. His cock, thick, hard, throbbing with illicit excitement, pressed her pussy lips. His hips flicked forward, and his cock surged between her lips, sliding upward to nudge her swollen clitoris.
She gasped an “Oh,” when he brushed her clit, and he tilted her back, her trailing hair gathering in coils on the water’s surface.
“Arliss!” she cried out just as the water closed over her face, and then, just as suddenly, it was over, and he was lifting her from the water, lifting her to her feet and supporting her by the elbows, while she shook the water from her eyes and ears. “Are you okay?” he asked when she blinked at him. Rivulets of water poured off her hair and coursed down her breasts. Little streams of water ran off her up-turned nipples and arched toward him.
“It was too fast,” she protested. “I don’t feel any different.”
“God, I sure do,” he panted, tugging his shirttails to cover himself.
She moved closer, stalking. “It was supposed to wash away my sins; stop my cravings, but it didn’t work.”
“I told you I wasn’t any good at it. What did you expect?”
“I thought I would feel different, changed.”
“Maybe you are.”
“Like hell I am. Look at me, Arliss. Tell me what you see?”
“A woman?” he answered hopefully. “A beautiful woman?”
“Oh hell,” she barked in frustration. “Look at these.” She cupped her breasts in her hands and lifted them toward the astonished boy. “Look at my nipples, they’re hard as bullets and they are on fire. They’re screaming to be touched, sucked, chewed, anything.”
“God!” he moaned in astonished agony watching her tease her nipples with her thumbs, and the wantonly autoerotic display caused his cock to twitch.
“You were supposed to put the fire out, Arliss, but you didn’t. My pussy’s so hot it would boil this water if I squatted down in it. I’m soaking wet inside, and my clit feels like a throbbing rock, but it’s not supposed to be feeling that way, not after being baptized.”
“I forgot the words, Jackie.”
“It wasn’t the words, Arliss, it’s this,” and with that she reached for him and in that instant she bridged the gap between rich and poor, weakness and strength, the saved and the damned. Her fingers found his cock behind the veil of his shirttail and brazenly wrapped around him. “I still want this, Arliss. More than anything I have wanted in my entire life, I want to feel you inside me.” Her fingers circled him tightly like strong lips in the darkness, and she moved them on his flesh to match the cadence of her words.
“Jackie! Oh, my God, we can’t,” he cried out in protest. “This is a church, for God’s sake.”
“This is a tent, not a church, Arliss, and we’re standing in a cattle trough not a baptismal font.
“But, but, it’s not right,” he sputtered. “I’m supposed to be a prea… Oh, God, don’t do that.”
Her fingers slipping under the leg band of his briefs cut him off in mid word. The skin of her fingers, smooth as silk, caressed his length, and then fondled the swollen head of his prick.
“Supposed to be what tilt-a-whirl boy? A preacher? If you are a preacher, then I am Satan himself, and this is one struggle with evil you are going to lose.” She chuckled as her fingernail scratched the eye in the tip of his cock seeking the pre-cum she was sure to find.
His brain was churning, his senses whipped to a foamy froth by the exquisite torture of her fingers on his flesh. His knees buckled, and he reached for her shoulders for support. He closed his eyes and held his breath while she freed his hot flesh. He felt her coming closer, pulling his prick toward her heat, and he was powerless to move. Then, she touched herself with him, and he gasped aloud.
“You like that, baby?” she panted, nuzzling the head of his prick into the deep wet between her pussy lips.
“Jackie, Jackie,” he chanted as she moved her hips to drive his shaft through her deep furrow.
Her fingers circled his cock, and she leaned against his chest holding him pressed into her slit, and she stroked him till she felt his legs beginning to tremble. She released him, murmuring into his shirt, “I know what you want, baby.”
“Jackie! Don’t stop,” he begged, but she had already gone, sinking to her knees in the water that rose to cover her inflamed breasts.
She guided him, brushing her cheeks with his cock head, leaving little strands of precum streaking her face. She turned her face and ran her lips along the side of his cock, taking little nips with her teeth on the way to the tip. Her tongue slipped out to wet him, and he gagged with desire.
“I know what you want,” she muttered as her pursed lips kissed the oozing tip of his dick. She licked his precum, threading the tip of her tongue into the eye to take his juice from the source, and she felt his fingers eagerly twisting the wet strands of her hair.
“You want to put your cock in my ass, don’t you, baby? You want to shove it up my ass and learn how it feels to fuck a woman’s ass.”
“Oh, God, yes, no, oh, God, I don’t know.”
She took him into her mouth, wetting his head with lavish strokes of her tongue and felt him lunge toward her sucking lips. Her oval mouth plunged down engulfing him, then lifted, then plunged again, fucking the taut length of his prick. Her circling fingers squeezed his cock-base, teasing yet delaying his climax. She lifted her mouth from him; his cock shined like a silver-sided fish in the moonlight.
“You want to put it deep in my ass, don’t you, baby. You want to feel how tight my ass is. How my ass muscles can squeeze your big cock and milk every drop of cum out of you. You want it?”
“I want it.”
“Say it right. Tell me what you want to do to me.”
“I want to fuck you.”
“In the ass.”
“All of it, as deep as it will go.”
“To do what?”
“To cum in your ass. To fill your ass up with cum.”
“Come with me, then,” she said, leading him by the cock to the steps.
She led him to the platform of the low, portable stage. She sat him in front of the pulpit, then turned him sideways and made him lie on his back along the edge. She crouched beside him, kneeling in the grass and lifted his hard prick off his belly with one hand while she loosened his buttons. She bared his chest. His cock arched up, throbbing, the shaft cradled within the circle of her hand. Her hand moved sensuously on his flesh, stroking him with practiced knowledge, and he lifted his hips to her touch.
“You’re ready, aren’t you, baby?”
“Yes, yes, oh, God, yes,” he chanted.
She rose to her feet and lifted a leg to straddle him. One knee on the platform and one foot on the ground, she settled her dripping sex onto his belly. Her wetness enveloped the head of his cock, and he gave an involuntary shudder. The heat of her splayed lips seared erotic images into his brain; his hands encircled her narrow waist, and he tried to wrestle her into position.
“Hmmm,” she moaned as his cockhead scraped her clit, and then, she whispered, “I like being wanted,” and she lifted her hips and reached for him.
“Ohhhh,” he gasped, feeling her maneuver his cockhead between her cheeks.
She guided him, stroking him feverishly, her hand quivering with desire, and expressed a stream of slippery precum into her crack. Eyes closed, her lower lip caught between her teeth, she hovered over his spike savoring the thrill of anticipation coursing through her limbs. His cock twitched and then twitched again, and she felt a surge of warm liquid bathing her rosebud.
“Don’t cum yet, baby; I want it inside me,” she mouthed against his ear, stopping the movement of her hand. Her breasts flattened against his bare chest; nipples engorged and stiff pressed flaming indentations in his skin.
“I’ll hurt you,” he said, almost gagging on the words, and it was as though an unseen hand had stayed him at the very threshold of his manhood and snatched him back to sensibility.
“No, you won’t, Arliss,” she said, cooing his name softly. “I prepared myself for this. I came to every service with a buttplug in my ass; every night a little bit bigger, and I would sit and watch you and fantasize that it was your cock in my ass that I felt.”
“Jackie!” he moaned remembering her sultry smile whenever their eyes met during services.
“And, tonight, while I was gone and you were preaching, I greased myself with KY jelly just for you, baby.”
“Oh, Jes….,” he began only to be cut short as she shifted her weight to her hips, and he felt his cock gliding through her slippery, expanded ring.
She settled on him in a controlled descent, savoring the play of rapturous emotions across his face as her elastic muscles accepted him. She lived for such moments, those precious seconds when anticipation and preparation, hunger and frustration come to full fruition. She bloomed and a flush of crimson flooded her face fed by a wellspring of tantalizing agony. Her sense of time and space evaporated, her complete existence compressed into those brief moments that she measured now only by his length. Emotion fueled by sensation flooded her womb and surged into her limbs as she felt his thickness stretching the burning ring of her desire.
“Oh, my goodness, you are huge,” she breathed ecstatically as her cheeks came to rest on his thighs, and she could sink no lower.
He blinked at her, wide eyed, with the astonished look of one overcome by the discovery that the descent into hell could be heavenly. His hands, fingers widespread, rested on her butt cheeks, and she felt the heat of his perspiring palms on her skin.
“You like?” she questioned, awakening her quiescent muscles with a Kagel.
“Oh, God,” he gurgled unresponsively; her anal sleeve rippled along his length dissolving his thought processes in a churning cauldron of sensations.
“Don’t move,” she admonished him, cradling his face between her hands and gazing into his eyes. Then, she astounded him with a series of Kagels that coalesced her flesh around him in a convulsion of milking spasms that snatched the breath from his lungs.
“Jackie!” he wailed feeling a surge in his cock.
“Shhhh, baby, shhhhhh,” she whispered in his ear. She cradled his head in her arms and her breasts drug across his chest as she lifted her hips, and he could feel cool air as she let him slip nearly out. Then, as she reversed direction and slowly impaled herself again, she said, “Just let Jackie fuck your big dick with her ass.”
He wrapped his arms around her waist and clung to her while her buttocks rose and fell and her lust consumed her. She undulated her hips, rising and falling, and took his measure in a rhythmic, slow motion dance. He lay quaking, too enraptured to move, while she sheathed and unsheathed his throbbing scythe.
She felt it first, that heavy twitching throb of his cock buried deep in her ass on the down stroke, and then she heard it in the quick gulp of a gasp from his lips on the next stroke.
“Ohhhhh, oohhhhh, oooooooooo,” he sputtered as orgasmic lightning leapt from nerve to nerve in his cock.
“Cum, baby,” she cooed, pressing her ass to his thighs to take him as deep as she could. “I want it; I want to feel it shoot in my ass. Pump my ass full with your cum.”
“Jesus Fucking Christ,” he grunted and his head and shoulders jerked reflexively upward in a crunch that arched her back and drove his spike another inch up her ass. His hands gripped her butt. His fingers clawed at her crack spreading her cheeks and opening her up as his cock coughed thick, mucusy gobs of cum deep in her rectum.
She felt the primal throbbing of his prick and the spreading warmth of his cum filling her ass like a hot, soapy enema and moaned “Baby!” Then, she flattened her pussy against him and rubbed her clit on his pubic ridge and instantly felt the crest of her own wave rising in her womb.
“Jackie, Jackie,” he chanted to the rapid-fire cadence of his squirts.
“Yes, baby, yes,” she purred from the depths of her throat. Her eyes shut tightly, teeth clenched, head shaking tossing matted strands of wet hair, her fists pounding his shoulders as orgasmic dementia beset her and she groaned, “Oh, God, yes, baby, your cock in my ass makes me cum so fucking goooooood.”
He felt her stiffen like a sort of sexual rigor mortis had set in and her hips jerked spasmodically. A string of guttural “O’s” bubbled off her lips, and then she collapsed in his arms, limp as a rag, and he thought for a second that she had fainted. He lay back, lowering her gently to his chest, and he felt her trip-hammer heart beat in her breasts. The throbbing in his cock subsided, but the rolling convulsions in her rectum kept him hard, surfing on a white-capping sea of cum.
He closed his eyes, lost in the knowledge of what he had done and confounded by his unwillingness to retreat from her warmth. He drifted until she called him back, and he opened his eyes to find her melted, soft and pliable, against the hard ridges of his body.
“I needed that,” she sighed contentedly. “I wanted to know what your cock would feel like from the moment I laid eyes on you, Arliss Tate.”
His hands stroked her back as she spoke, and she seemed to him, somehow, smaller, more vulnerable. “I just can’t believe it,” he replied with a hint of awe in his voice.
“Why not?” she giggled, lifting her cheek from his chest to look him in the eye. “It’s the truth. I’ve been wanting this,” and, then, she did another Kagel that sent a wave of warm cum pouring out of her ass and down his dick to his balls, “since that day you came around putting up revival posters at Maccie’s beauty parlor.”
“It’s not you I can’t believe,” he answered, vividly recalling that day, and Maccie’s offer of a free shampoo and haircut, if he would just pose in the window with his shirt off for the balance of the afternoon. “I can’t believe how good it felt.”
“So, you think maybe you were wrong?”
“Not an abomination, after all?”
“Sorry you didn’t figure that out sooner?”
“No, not at all.”
“Really?” she questioned, eyeing him quizzically. “Why not?” She could feel him diminishing inside her, and, as he softened, her muscles contracted to expel him.
“Because, it wouldn’t have been the same with anybody else,” he responded with genuine candor. Moonlight glowed in his eyes and they sparkled as he spoke, and she felt a warm rush of emotion.
“Oh, my God, you are a sweet man,” she smiled, leaning to kiss him on the mouth, and she tried to capture him with a final Kagel.
Her gorgeous lips caressed his there on the altar before the pulpit as his erection faded inside her. Their tongues thrust and parried and then entwined in co-joined bliss even as her rectal sleeve contracted and slid him out in the backwash of his orgasm.
“Oh,” she frowned as he left her, her lips mouthing her disappointment around his tongue, and, to assuage her loss, he tongue-fucked her mouth till she giggled and said, “Why, Arliss, I do believe you want to fuck me some more.”
Her emptied ass gaped, a dark, open tunnel with a trickle of cum leaking from the mouth, and she knew it would be a while before her spincter regained enough elasticity to close. The memory of him lingered on her nerve-endings, and it fed a new hunger as they kissed.
“Oh, God, yes, Jackie, yes, I want to, but I don’t think I can, not yet anyway.”
“Poor baby,” she purred sympathetically, seizing him with her fingers in the steamy space between their legs, “Jackie can fix that.”
“Lord,” he moaned as she expertly massaged his cum-slathered cock.
Just as he began to respond, a car turned off the main road, and the beams of its headlights briefly swept the hollow.
“What the hell is that?” he grumbled with a note of alarm; Ardmore wasn’t due back till morning if everything went right and middle of the night visitors could only mean trouble.
“It’s nothing, Arliss; they’re just turning around,” she answered, her slippery hand gently milking his flesh.
But the lights kept coming, bouncing down the rough, sloped lane to the floor of the hollow, and then they turned and, picking up speed, headed directly toward the tent.
“Oh, shit, they aren’t leaving,” Jackie squealed anxiously as she rolled off Arliss and yanked his arm to help him up. “You get dressed quick, while I find a place to hide. Move!”
He hesitated for a moment, blinded by the light and by the vision of her, naked, illuminated and visible for the first time, and he was torn between saving his own skin and protecting hers. The lights, though dim, revealed what he had only felt and imagined before and she was gorgeous; tall, slender, with breasts like firm melons rising proudly above her flat tummy and widely flaring hips. Her legs were long and tapered, and he remembered the downy texture of her thighs touching him. She stood with remarkable calm under the circumstances, and as his eyes lingered on her, she slowly turned her back to expose the rounded firmness of her buttocks. Traces of cum and KY jelly in her crease caught the light and shimmered as she moved and he felt the urge to fall on his knees to worship her.
“You better hurry, Arliss, they are almost here,” she said, looking back at him over her shoulder, and then, because he seemed uncertain, she added, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.”
Her assurance broke the spell and Arliss dove for his pants in the shadow of the baptismal tank. He found the pants, but his boots had gone missing, and with his heart pounding in his throat he struggled to get his foot in the leg of the pants. He had one leg up to his knee when the lights bounced to a stop not ten feet from the tent, and he heard the door open. He cowered, three-quarters naked, in the shelter of the tank, peeping over the top but blinded by the glare of the headlights.
“Arliss?” a familiar voice boomed over the noise of the idling motor. “Are you in there, boy?”
“Ardmore? Is that you?” Relief was evident in the boy’s voice. He rose to a crouch and tried to shield his eyes from the light with his hand.
“Of course it’s me, Arliss; who the hell else would be comin out here in the middle of the night?” The voice was moving closer, sounding impatient.
“Stay there, Ardmore,” Arliss pleaded, tugging his pants. “I’ll be there in a second.”
Ardmore, of course, ignored him, and before Arliss could snap his fingers, there he was standing in front of him, hands on his hips and his mouth open wide enough to swallow the Winny in one gulp.
“What in the hell are you doin out here neked, L.D.?” he bellowed with a smirk.
Arliss was sort of hunched over, leaning against the side of the tank. He had managed to get the pants half way up one leg and was using the empty leg to shield his groin. His lips were moving but no sounds were coming out, and he looked sort of like a beached fish.
“Evening, Ms. Alright,” Ardmore said politely, looking past the cowering boy and tipping his hat.
“It has been a good evening, Brother McCandless,” she replied in a voice that would make a man think of warmed honey.
Arliss’ head snapped around at the sound of her voice, and the shock nearly made him topple into the tank. She was standing not ten feet behind him, looking just as serene as you please, and she was wearing a terry robe that just covered the tops of her thighs. She had a pair of sandals on her feet, and her hair was rapped in a towel that looked like a turban. He blinked and rubbed his eyes in disbelief.
“How did he do?” Ardmore asked her, ignoring Arliss for the moment.
“With the sermon? About like you expected.”
“I knew he weren’t cut out for preachin; how’d he do with the rest of it?”
“Well, now, Brother McCandless, we’re still in the process of finding that out, but so far, I’d say he’s doing much better than you predicted.”
“Him?” he blurted in disbelief. “You’re kidding, aren’t you?” he continued turning to look at the boy with a mixture of surprise and suspicion.
“I told you, Ardmore, I am a business woman; I do not kid about serious matters.”
Arliss’s neck was beginning to stiffen from the cool night air and from swiveling back and forth as he tried to follow the conversation. Nothing made sense and the confusion was making his head spin. Questions bounced off the walls of his mind.
“Does that mean we have a deal, then?” The old man sounded, well, almost hopeful.
“I’m satisfied,” she answered with a smile. “As far as I am concerned, we have a deal, but the rest is up to Arliss.”
“Boy!” Ardmore rumbled like he was warming up to ask God to vaporize a tree or something, and Arliss could feel the both of them looking at him.
“You listen to me good, cause this is your only chance, and you don’t want to fuck it up.”
“What?” He was stunned.
“I am cuttin you loose, as of right now. You ain’t got preachin in you, but worse than that, boy, you ain’t got a prayer of learnin how to scam folks cause you’re too fuckin kind-hearted. Now, you listen, cause this lady’s gonna make you an offer that’ll make both of us real happy.”
Dazed and confused, Arliss turned toward Jackie.
“I want you to come and work for me at the dealership,” she said, nodding in the direction of the cars parked above the hollow. “I’ll give you a salary and a car to drive. While you’re, ah, looking for a place to live, you’ll stay at my house. How does that sound?”
“But, but,” he sputtered, “who’ll set up the tent and chairs, if I leave?”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake, kid, will you shut the fuck up,” Ardmore groaned, rolling his eyes.
“Now, be nice, Ardmore,” Jackie said gently while looking at Arliss. “He’s only protecting you.” Then, she said, “Ardmore won’t be setting up the tent anymore, Arliss. I’m paying off the Winny and setting him up in a television studio I’m a part owner of over in Charlotte. He’ll preach, and we’ll beam him all over the country, two-three hundred markets, counting cable, and we’ll split the profits fifty/fifty.”
“Ah, uh, that’s sixty/forty,” Ardmore said interrupting.
“Oh, right,” Jackie nodded.
“But, but,” Arliss sputtered in bewilderment, “why can’t I go to Charlotte and be on television with Ardmore?”
“Because, Arliss, like Ardmore says, you aren’t cut out for it. The show wouldn’t work with you on stage and you would just be in the way off camera. We have technicians for that.”
“But why are you offering me a job?”
“Because Ardmore said he couldn’t take me up on the Charlotte offer if it meant leaving you high and dry, Arliss.”
“You said that?” Arliss questioned turning to the old man in disbelief.
“Don’t pay any attention to her; that don’t mean nothin,” the old man grumbled self-consciously. “Besides, she got her own reasons for offerin you a job, L.D.”
“He is definitely right about that, Arliss,” Jackie purred with a seductive smile. “You have some talents I could use in my, er, ah, business.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Whatever I want you to do; whenever I want you to do it. Do you think you can handle that?” There was more than a hint of suggestion in her tone, and she was standing with her feet just a little further apart than modesty would allow, and his eyes followed her legs to the hem of her robe, then upward to where the lapels had opened some to reveal her cleavage, and then higher to her eyes that were looking at him with the open promise of erotic adventure.
“Don’t fuck this up, kid,” Ardmore mumbled under his breath like a softly uttered prayer.
“Don’t worry, old man, I won’t,” he answered, and then he turned toward Jackie, and said, “I would love to work for you, Jackie. When do I start?”
“In about five minutes,” she replied with a throaty purr. “Ardmore and I have some business to take care of first.”
“You brought the papers?” Ardmore asked her.
“They’re right here,” she answered, turning and stooping to extract a suitcase hidden under the platform.
She set the suitcase on the platform and opened it. It was nearly empty except for some envelopes and a tube of KY jelly.
“Oh, oh,” she giggled, snatching the tube of lubricant and slipping it into her robe pocket, “that stays with me.”
Then, she turned to Ardmore, and said, “Everything’s there and in order. I’ve signed the papers, so all you need to do is sign them and give them to my lawyer, who’ll meet you at the studio tomorrow. There’s also a key to room 201 at the Holiday Inn. The room’s paid for a week. Anything else?”
“No, ma’am, nothing at all. It’ll be a pleasure workin with you, partner,” he said as he snapped the suitcase shut and picked it up.
Then, he turned and extended his hand to Arliss, saying, “Good luck to you, L.D.,” and, as Arliss took his hand to shake, the old man pulled him close and whispered in his ear, “You lucky son of a bitch.”
In a matter of seconds, Ardmore was gone, his truck sputtering and coughing up the hill leading out of the hollow and Arliss and Jackie were again bathed in darkness.
“I guess you two had this all planned out.” Arliss questioned the shapeless form moving toward him in the dark.
“You could say there were negotiations, yes,” she whispered as the robe slipped off her shoulders and slid to the ground at her feet.
“Am I working now?” he asked softly.
“Yes,” she replied huskily.
“What do you want me to do, ma’am?”
“Take off those ridiculous pants and fuck me again.” Her nipples were grazing his chest and her breath was hot on his cheek.
“Yes, ma’am,” he answered as her curves flowed into his arms and her lips sought his in the quiet stillness of the night.