Savage, p.17
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       Savage, p.17
 

           Richard Laymon

  We both jumped.

  I looked quick at the fireplace mantel. The General’s revolver was there, where he always kept it.

  Sarah and I raced upstairs.

  I knew what we’d be finding, but we had to go and see for ourselves, anyhow.

  In the room, Mable and the General were stretched out side by side on their bed. It almost looked like they’d laid down for a nap, except for the bloody mess on the headboard behind the General.

  He was holding one of Mable’s hands.

  His other hand hung over the side of the bed.

  I didn’t see any gun.

  But he had a string looped around the toe of his right house slipper.

  I stepped past the end of the bed. The string dangled down from his foot to a rifle on the floor, where it was tied to the trigger. The rifle must’ve been thrown off him by the recoil.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  Mourning and Night

  Sarah was their only surviving relation, but the General and Mable had a passel of friends she had to notify. About thirty of them showed up, mostly old men, some with their wives in tow. Just about all the men came in full dress uniform. They looked just splendid, sabers hanging at their sides, chests full of medals.

  A service was held at the local Methodist church. One old fellow after another stood up front and eulogized the General and Mable. They had some mighty fine things to say about the couple.

  When it came time to pay our last respects, we all lined up and filed past the coffins. Mable, she was rouged up pretty good and looked peculiar, but she was dressed in a fine satin gown like she was on her way to a party. The General looked ready to escort her there. A military ball, maybe. He was decked out in his uniform. He had more medals than most of the mourners put together. He’d shot himself through the mouth, so he didn’t have any holes that showed.

  I tucked one of his briar pipes into the coffin with him.

  Sarah, she kissed each of her grandparents on the forehead.

  They were planted in a graveyard behind the church. A powdered lady wearing more rouge than Mable sang “Nearer My God to Thee” and then a skinny little soldier who looked older than dirt raised a bugle to his lips and played “Taps.” It was a sunny afternoon, but we all watered the grass something awful.

  When that part was over, everybody came to the house. There was more food laid out than I’d ever seen in one place. We all ate, and the men got liquored up. Later on, some of the folks cleared out. Others stayed on, though. Some servants Sarah’d hired for the occasion made up guest rooms for them.

  There wasn’t a bedroom left for me, so I figured I’d settle down in the parlor. A drunk with a white beard down to his belt buckle snored on the sofa. I sat in the General’s old chair. Its cushions were all sunken in from him.

  The snoring wouldn’t let me fall asleep, so I just sat there missing him and Mable, and wishing I’d known them better. By and by, I lit up one of the General’s pipes. I figured he wouldn’t mind. Back when he was alive and we’d sat up talking, he’d offered to let me smoke one. I’d always turned him down, but now I wished I’d smoked with him. When the pipe died out, I fetched the General’s bottle of rum. That stuff always had a way of making me doze off. So I took a few sips of it, judging I’d need some help if I was to get any sleep at all.

  I tucked the bottle out of sight quick when Sarah suddenly wandered in. She came silently through the parlor, her hair down and gleaming, her white nightdress ashiver with the firelight, floating soft around her. She looked just lovely.

  Leaning down over me, she whispered, “You don’t want to spend the night in a chair.”

  “It’s quite all right, really.”

  “I know a better place,” she said, and took my hand.

  She hadn’t brought a lamp along with her, so after we left the parlor we had to navigate our way in the dark. She kept hold of my hand, and didn’t utter a sound as we climbed the stairs and started down the hallway.

  I figured there must be a spare room, after all. But she led me to hers. She let us in, then shut the door real easy so as not to make a sound. Over by the bed, her lamp was burning.

  “This should be much more comfortable for you,” she said in a hushed voice.

  “It’s your bed,” I told her.

  “It’s roomy enough for both of us.” With that, she went to it and stepped out of her slippers and climbed aboard. She pulled the covers over her, then scooched to one side. “I brought in your nightshirt,” she said. Taking out an arm, she pointed to a chair by the wall. My flannel nightshirt was neatly folded on top of it.

  Well, I didn’t hanker to strip down in front of Sarah even if she had been a regular visitor during my baths. Those times, I’d been sitting in a tubful of water. So I doused the lamp before getting out of my funeral duds and slipping into the nightshirt.

  I eased under the covers and lay on my back, close to the mattress edge so as not to bother her. The rum I’d drunk made my head a trifle foggy, but I felt so strange about being in the same bed as Sarah that I was wide awake. My heart wouldn’t slow down, and I was shaking some even though the bed was warm and cozy.

  By and by, Sarah’s hand snuck over and found mine. She gave it a gentle squeeze. “I’m so very glad you’re here,” she whispered.

  “This is vastly more comfortable than a chair, isn’t it?” I said.

  “You’re all I have, now.”

  When she said that, I feared she’d take to weeping. But she didn’t. She rolled over warm against my side and said, “Hold me. Please.”

  So I turned and hooked an arm over her back, and she snuggled against me. “It’ll be all right,” I told her. I wanted to cheer her up. More than that, though, I needed to talk and take my mind off the feel of her. Sarah’s head was tucked against the side of my neck, her breath tickling me. The way we were stretched out, she was pressing me tight all the way down to our knees. There wasn’t a thing but our nightclothes between us. Her skin was hot through the cloth. I could feel every breath she took, and even her heartbeats.

  “It’ll be all right,” I said again, stroking her back. “You’ll see.”

  Right off, I could tell that talking wouldn’t do the job. I bent myself away from her and hoped she hadn’t noticed the reason for it.

  “Why,” I went on, “I imagine you’ll find yourself a husband in no time at all and you’ll have a whole houseful of children.”

  “If only that were so.”

  “Just wait and see.”

  “It’s too late for me, Trevor. I’ll never marry. I’ll be an old spinster.”

  “Don’t talk that way. Why, I should think there must be fifty men in town who fancy you. There’s Henry at the general store, for one. And the chap who owns the pharmacy. I could see just by how they…”

  “I’ll be twenty-seven years old, come October.”

  “That isn’t old. Besides, you’re beautiful. I’ve not seen another woman in the whole town who could hold a candle to you, in the way of looks.”

  “You’re so sweet, Trevor.” She kissed the side of my neck. It sent shivers down to my toes.

  I tried not to think about that.

  “If you should set your mind to it,” I hurried on, “I’ve no doubt but that you could find yourself married before summer. No doubt at all. I’ll help you. We’ll pick out a fine chap for you, and…”

  Her mouth got in the way. She gave me a kiss, but it wasn’t the usual kind—brief and gentle. With this one, she mashed her lips against mine. Her mouth was open and wet, and she was breathing into me. It wasn’t a way I’d ever been kissed before.

  While our mouths were locked together, she took to squirming so that her body rubbed against me. I couldn’t help but squirm, myself.

  I’d never felt so fired up and strange. The nearest thing was my time with Sue in the alley, but she’d been a stranger and more my own age and we’d had more clothes on and she wasn’t half as pretty as Sarah. Sue’d been after my money and such,
too, whereas I didn’t actually know what Sarah was after.

  Taken all around, I felt tight and hot and fit to bust, but awfully confused and ashamed, too.

  It went on for a spell, but finally Sarah unclenched me. I thought she was done. I felt awful disappointed, but mighty relieved, too. I wiped my mouth dry and fought to catch my breath.

  She wasn’t done, though.

  She sat up and threw the covers off us. That was fine, for it had gotten mighty warm underneath them. But then she shucked off her nightdress. I could see her plain in the moonlight from the windows. Her skin looked pale as milk, and shadows smudged her face.

  Kneeling beside me, she started to slide my nightshirt up my legs. I took her by the wrists.

  “You’ll be so much more comfortable without it,” she whispered.

  I felt rather panicky, and searched for a way to call her off. “The house is simply jammed with people,” I said, and suddenly wondered how come she’d waited for tonight, as we’d been alone in the house for a few days, ever since the bodies had been taken away. Maybe she’d needed this long to work up the gumption. Or maybe she’d only brought me in here to sleep, and hadn’t planned on getting so friendly. “What if someone should walk in?” I asked.

  She answered that by climbing off the bed, crossing over to the door and turning the key in its lock. “Now we’re safe,” she said. “We’ll have to be careful when we leave the room tomorrow, is all.”

  She came walking back to the bed. She crawled on, but this time she didn’t kneel beside me. Instead, she straddled me down near my knees. I could feel the sides of her legs touching my skin. Her thighs were spread wide, and looked smooth as cream. She was dark where they came together. From seeing Trudy, I knew the dark place was hair. Above that, she was all pale and slender, a dot of shadow at her navel, and dark at the tips of her breasts. Her breasts were bigger than Trudy’s, bigger than they looked when Sarah had clothes on.

  She lifted my hands toward them and leaned in. Her breasts were almost out of reach, but not quite. She guided my hands over them. They were warm and moist, and I’d never touched anything so smooth. Not even satin or velvet or silk. The nipples didn’t feel smooth. They were rumpled and puckered, with springy centers that stuck out. But something about them stirred me up even more than her smooth parts.

  “You’ve…never been with a woman…have you?” she sort of gasped out.

  “Not…in this manner.”

  “Squeeze.”

  I squeezed. Sarah writhed and moaned. But we were both sweated up pretty good by then, so my fingers slid around when they tightened on her breasts and it put me in mind of Whittle trying to pick up Mary’s breast off the floor, and how it was all bloody and slipped out of his hand. Before I had a chance to stop myself, I jerked my hands back as if they’d gotten scorched.

  Sarah flinched as if I’d struck her. “Trevor?” Her soft voice sounded confused, hurt.

  “I’m awfully sorry,” I said.

  She said it again. “Trevor?” All forlorn.

  “They’re lovely bosoms. Truly.” To prove it, I reached out for them. But my hands stopped short. I brought my arms down to my sides. “It’s not at all your fault,” I murmured.

  She gazed at me for a spell, not saying anything. Then she swung her leg clear and tumbled off. She rolled onto her back, pulled her pillow down and covered her face with it.

  She just lay there sprawled in the moonlight, silent, motionless except for her breathing. Wasn’t long, though, before she commenced to sob and whimper. Her misery just tore at my heart. But the way her breasts shook filled my head with more thoughts of Whittle. I couldn’t help it, and even pictured him crouching over Sarah, slicing them off, cupping them up in his hands.

  I hadn’t laid eyes on him for months, yet here he was, tormenting me and Sarah both.

  She’d had too much grief already. She didn’t deserve this. I shut my eyes to keep them from her breasts, and stretched my arm across her belly and patted her side. She went stiff for a bit. Then she took hold of my wrist. I reckoned she was about to hurl it away, but all she did was hang on. Her belly kept jumping under my arm.

  Finally, she calmed down. She sniffed and let out a sigh. Through her pillow, she said, “Oh, Trevor. You’re such a dear. Will you ever forgive me?”

  “Forgive you? For what?”

  “For making such a fool of myself.”

  “You’ve done no such thing.”

  She let go of my wrist. But I kept my arm across her and caressed her side.

  “I’m not…I’ve only been with a man but once. And that was eight years ago. Ever since then, I’ve always behaved…like a lady. Until tonight.”

  “You’re a splendid lady,” I told her.

  “Little better than a slut,” she said. This time, her voice wasn’t muffled. I opened my eyes and saw that her head was turned toward me, the pillow hugged to her breasts. “You had every reason to be disgusted.”

  “Oh, but I wasn’t. Not at all. Quite the contrary.”

  “You needn’t fib to me.”

  “I found it all quite wonderful until…”

  “Until?”

  “Well…” It wasn’t something I much cared to tell her about. My mouth got dry, and I could feel myself blushing all over.

  “Please,” she said.

  “It’s rather unpleasant. Sickening, actually.”

  “Trevor, tell me.”

  There seemed to be no way around it. So I decided to tell her the truth. “I’m afraid I’ve had some rather rum experiences in the matter of ladies’ chests.”

  She huffed out some air. It sounded very much like a sort of laugh. “What?”

  “Whittle. Remember the murderer I told you about when I first arrived?”

  “The man who stole Saber.”

  “Yes. Whittle. He cut the breasts off two women. I saw them afterward.”

  “Dear Lord!” she gasped.

  “When I…squeezed yours…I couldn’t help but remember.”

  “Oh, my Lord. Oh, Trevor.”

  “So you see, it wasn’t you.”

  “You poor thing.” With that, she rolled toward me. I turned onto my side, and we hugged each other, the pillow soft and thick between our chests. She kissed me, but it wasn’t like before. It was gentle and sweet and motherly.

  Right off, I knew I preferred the other sort.

  What with the covers off and still being sweaty, I started to feel cold except for where the pillow was and where our bodies touched. Sarah didn’t have a stitch on, so it must’ve been worse for her. I couldn’t stir myself to fetch up the blankets, though, because it felt so peaceful to be laying with her that way.

  I was glad I’d told her the truth. Now she knew I hadn’t found anything wrong about her. There was more to it than only that, however. When you’ve got a dark secret, it doesn’t seem quite so terrible after you’ve talked about it. Especially if the person you’ve told is someone as sweet as Sarah.

  I took to thinking about the way things had gone for a while there before Whittle’d ruined it all.

  By and by, I said, “Of course, yours are still attached.”

  She asked, “What?” in that surprised, amused way she had.

  “Your bosoms.”

  “Yes, they are.”

  “Perhaps if I should…become accustomed to them.”

  “What?”

  “Perhaps they wouldn’t put me off.”

  “I see.”

  “Shall I have a go at it?”

  She didn’t answer, but I felt the pillow slide away. She tucked it under the side of her head. “I’m to be your cure?”

  “I do hope so,” I said.

  She laughed softly, but then caught her breath when I curled my hands over her breasts.

  That night, I got accustomed to attached ones. Whittle stood in my way for a while, but finally he skulked off and there was only just me and Sarah in that room. I held and caressed and squeezed those breasts of hers. I lift
ed them and shook them. I rubbed my face all over them. I felt their nipples press my eyelids. I licked and kissed and sucked.

  Hardly got a good start on them before Sarah tugged the nightshirt off me.

  She thrashed about and whimpered and moaned and hung on to my hair and gasped out my name over and over again.

  We wrestled about considerable.

  We were all over each other, touching everywhere, and I didn’t feel shy once.

  Then I found Sarah on top of me. Next thing I knew, her mouth was jammed against mine and her breasts were mashed to my chest and she took hold of me below decks. But not with her hands. I felt myself sliding into a tight, juicy place where I wasn’t sure I ought to be. It felt bully, but Sarah acted like she was in pain, and that rather scared me so I tried to get out.

  “It’s all right,” she gasped.

  “I’m hurting you.”

  “No. No. It’s where…I want you.” And then she shoved down and I went all the way in so far and deep it seemed I was getting swallowed up by her.

  Well, I’d been feeling for a while like I might just bust. All of a sudden, that’s exactly what I did do. I tried to pull out quick so as not to mess her, but she clutched my rump and wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t stop, either. Nothing to do but let it happen right inside her. The way she twitched and yelped while I unloaded, I figured she was even more upset than me.

  When it stopped, I felt so embarrassed I wanted to die.

  “I’m so awfully sorry,” I said.

  She kind of relaxed, sinking down on me and panting like she was all tuckered out. She rubbed her cheek against mine, her hair making my face itch, her breath hot on my ear.

  “I didn’t mean to do that,” I told her.

  “What?” she whispered.

  “You know. Do that. In you.”

  “It was wonderful.”

  “But I’ve…gotten you full of yuck.”

  She laughed softly, jiggling. “It’s not yuck, darling. It’s your love. You’ve filled me with your love.”

  “Was that…supposed to happen?”

  “Oh, yes. Oh, yes.”

  Well, that came as a considerable relief.

  She went on kissing me. By and by, my love commenced to leak out of her. It syruped me up, and turned cold. But I didn’t mind, for Sarah was heavy and warm and acting like I’d done her just the most wonderful favor of all time.

 
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