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Until Jim Spencer's corporation rang in the lie-detector tests, what he and Mary did together in bed was their own business. But when Jim flunked the test, they found themselves exposed to their own world even though the results were supposed to be held strictly confidential. Everyone knew that Jim and Mary were “different.”
From then on, it was Nightmare Alley in a grotesque carnival House of Horrors, for Jim's career and their livelihood depended upon his job. And there appeared to be no way out of the dilemma....
The clock radio clicked on and warmed up. A girl's voice with a bongo background came to life with slowly increasing volume. “Hey mister bongo man, play those things for me...”
Jim Spencer sighed and awakened in the cozy warmth of sheets and blankets, with his wife's head nestled under the covers by his bare chest. He could feel Mary's breath on his skin... her soft thigh and knee open on his left leg... her small hand still lax in the hollow of his loins.
She had been holding him last night as sleep crept over them after they had made love. She liked to enclose him in her hand, lovingly, protectively, perhaps a little enviously.
He smiled and reached out to turn off the music. The clock said six-thirty. His bladder needed emptying. He wondered how many questions he'd have to answer—what kind of questions—when his section took their turn in “The Chair.” The polygraph... the lie detector the parent corporation was using on its employees... all employees... to weed out “undesirables.”
Jim remembered John Kilson's lopsided Princeton smile at the office meeting to announce the tests. “You guys better return all those rubber bands and paper clips you've been stealing. No, seriously, fellows, this polygraph test will be routine. Nothing to worry about. The head office gets a bug up its arse every few years, and this is one of them.”
Jim tried easing out of bed without disturbing Mary. But when he moved she said, muffled, “Stay still, pillow!” Her hand curled around him.
Jim threw the covers down to reveal her straight brown shoulder-length silky hair, bare white shoulders and a shadowed view of surprisingly large pointed breasts. He said, “Got to go. Nature calls.”
Mary smiled up at him. Her eyes were almost too large for her oval face. She was all eyes and full-lipped mouth, with a small uptilted nose. Thick, brush-like bangs covered her forehead. She said, after giving his chest a peck-kiss. “In that case you may leave for a moment.” She squeezed him lasciviously. “But I have plans.”
Jim ran a hand over her breasts. “I'll be back!” He got out of bed. As he went into the bathroom he heard her yawn and caught a glimpse of her kicking the bedding away in a twisting, arching, joint-cracking stretch that threw her lovely breasts high, drew her stomach taut, showed the slimness of her waist and the fine length of her perfectly proportioned five-five body.
Jim was miraculously lucky to have found her and he knew it. She was what was meant by the phrase, “Cute as a bug's ear.”
Jim stood before the toilet and didn't feel he had to close the door to cover the sound. Mary wasn't ashamed of body functions. She almost gloried in them, except one, which he was glad to join her in ignoring. That was the miracle. Because most girls...
He finished, tripped the handle and turned on the warm water in the washbowl. He washed his hands and his genitals. He brushed his teeth swiftly.
Mary came into the bathroom as he was about to leave. She brushed a few strands of brown hair away from her mouth and leaned close, up on tiptoe, to kiss him.
Jim bent his head to meet her lips. His arms went around her naked body. Her full, firm breasts cushioned on his chest, pillows of warmth and softness, but her thighs held clear of his center.
Their kiss was sweet and exciting. She sought his tongue. She slipped to her heels after a few seconds. “Umm, you taste good!” She pushed him out of the bathroom with a hand in the small of his back. “Now don't start getting dressed right away.”
Jim smiled and called as the bathroom door closed, “You're a horny little bitch.”
He sprawled back on the bed. He glanced at the clock. He had to be at the office by ten of eight. That left... about ten minutes to play around now with Mary.
Jim smiled and closed his eyes. He had a good, happy feeling. He felt contented, he perked inside with well being, with happiness. And yet... fifteen months ago he would have sworn his life would be one of frustration, of guilt, of resentment, of anxiety...
Jim heard water running in the basin. Now he had Mary. He had a good job with a large corporation, a new car—on time—they lived in a good apartment, and the future looked like more fun, more happiness, more money as he went up the ladder—
Except for that damned lie detector test! What if they began asking questions about his private life? Could they do that? Was it any of the corporation's business if he and his wife—
Mary emerged naked and white from the bathroom and crawled into bed beside him. “Do you know we have a first wedding anniversary coming up next week?” She toyed with him. He began to respond.
“Yes. And it falls on Sunday. How would you like a picnic, a steak that night, a show—your choice—and a grand goodnight kiss?”
“I'd love it. You know what I'm giving you for that wondrous day?” Mary smiled impishly, lovingly. “I've decided to give you ten orgasms.”
“Ten? You'll kill me!” Jim kissed her throat. “Besides, I was going to give you twenty.”
“What a glorious way to die.” She rose up on her knees beside him. “But what say we spread them out a little? I'll give you one now, and you give me two.”
“Sounds fair...” Jim pulled her forward and kissed her nipples. He liked them because they were pink little buttons until he got them into his mouth, or under his teasing fingers, then they grew out, hardened, wrinkled, and made her sigh with pleasure. Mary was exceptionally sensitive in her nipples and clitoris. Or seemed to be, because Jim hadn't had much experience with girls before he married her. Not enough to compare. He hadn't had much opportunity to listen to other boys brag about their times with girls. He had been shy about discussing sex with his fraternity brothers. Not really shy... afraid. Afraid they would demand his experiences in return.
Jim whispered into the deep hollow of her breasts, “I love you, Mary. I'm the luckiest guy in the world.”
She stroked his bushy blond hair. “And I'm the luckiest girl. God must have been watching over us. If we both hadn't screwed up enough courage to go out on that blind date...”
“We only went to protect ourselves from suspicion.” Jim took the lush pink tip of her right breast into his mouth. He used his tongue.
Mary made small sounds and moved her clasped hand in a smooth motion. “Because we were being talked about. They all thought we were queer.”
Jim released the nipple. “They'd probably still think that if they knew how we make love.” He frowned. “I'm afraid of that lie detector test today.”
“Oh, darling, they wouldn't dare ask about our sex life. Would they? That's private. They'll just ask if you know anything about bookkeeping irregularities or something.”
“I hope so.” He slid a hand up her thigh to the silky curls of her mound. He touched her with a curious-knowing finger and found her slick and ready. Mary moaned with excitement and pleasure at the contact. Her thighs opened wider for him.
But Jim had heard that a few men in the corporation's other divisions had been eased out because of sexual and political reasons. Good workers, but the lie detector had peeled away their privacy and shown a variation from the average... from “normal.”
Corporations like their employees to be nice, well-adjusted, conformist, trouble-free. Each a well-oiled, carefully machined cog.
Mary twisted on the bed and slid her hands under his thighs. She kissed his manhood lovingly.
Jim grunted voluptuously. He eagerly adjusted her open thighs and kissed her center. He found her with his tongue. She trembled.
This was their crime—their sin—their way of making love. Jim had a sexual hang-up that matched Mary's preferences and needs.
Mary was quick. She whined and moaned into an orgasm almost immediately, yet she didn't stop her wholehearted way of satisfying him. And Jim knew she would build to a second, more intense climax and would try her best to time it to coincide with his.
He couldn't see why society condemned this kind of love. It was perfect for him and Mary, yet millions of people, if informed of it, would be shocked and horrified. Some would demand they be separated and put in jail. Jim knew most states had laws in effect which could put them in jail. This was in modern America.
Mary was quivering, gasping, close to her second peak.
Then they were together at that point of no return, that golden surge of pleasure that blurs all perceptions but one. Jim gloried in the pumping tide that overwhelmed, that was rendered more intense and complete, more satisfying, by the writhing and spasming of Mary's body, by the tightening of her thighs about his head, by the contractions in the soft, slick, intimate flesh he caressed with his lips and tongue.
It was over too soon.
They parted. Mary moved around and sighed as she rested against his chest. She said, “I'm glad we're young. We can do it a lot, and we have so many years ahead of us.”
Jim knew it was past time for him to get up, but he held her in his arms and enjoyed with her the closeness of love, the glow of knowing almost complete happiness, of knowing he had given pleasure to his woman and that she had given equally to him with no reservations, no restraints.
He knew their joy was almost complete—all that was lacking was a complete feeling of guiltlessness, a knowledge that their behavior was right. He knew that deep down in both their minds was a stain of fear and guilt—of shame. Intellectually, to themselves, they told each other it was entirely proper and “all right” for them to make love their way. But everyone else in the world had intercourse. Intercourse was normal. Jim and Mary Spencer were deviants. They always felt the pervading social pressure to conform.
Jim lifted her chin and kissed her lips, the full pink lips that a moment ago had enclosed his virility. Her lips tasted the same as before... and she welcomed his kiss, from lips that had nestled so recently at the entrance of her passage.
Jim wondered if he and Mary were perverted... sick somehow... because they could kiss this way after their love and not feel the disgust other, “normal” people would feel at the mere thought of such a kiss. Or were those others the perverted ones?
Mary said, “I hate to get up. But you must go to work. What would you like for breakfast?”
“Something quick, I'm afraid. It's after seven.”
“Umm. Cereal again. Poor Jim!” She hopped off the bed and padded, still naked, down the hall, across the living room and into the compact kitchen.
Jim loved to watch her walk. Mary possessed a rare grace of movement, a glide, a gentle shift of weight, an interplay of muscles, of posture and gait and balance. She moved like a queen. He liked especially to see her come toward him naked or from the side, for then he could watch the entrancing sway of her large pointed breasts—the eye-catching jiggle of fully fleshed, abundant youth.
Mary was nineteen. She had quit college to marry him and be with him when he graduated and came to this city to work for the corporation.
That had been only one year ago. He had worked hard and had been commended by John Kilson several times. The word had gone around that Jim Spencer was a good young man on the way up, prime executive material. But now...
Jim broke his reverie and began to dress.
He entered the kitchen five minutes later and saw that Mary had poured his orange juice, had the coffee perking, had emptied an individual serving of rice crispies into a cereal bowl. Milk was near, and sugar and a banana if he wished it. The morning paper was beside his juice.
He slid into the breakfast nook. “You've got your nerve opening the door to get the paper.” He slapped her buttock lightly, affectionately, as she poured him a cup of coffee and one for herself.
Mary giggled. “Mr. Winslow almost saw me, too. I think he listens for me to open the door, then pops out to get his paper.”
“Let him see you sometime. He'll swallow his dentures.”
“Then I'd have to go across the hall and pound his back to get him to cough them up. He'd probably have a stroke if I got close to him this way.”
“You're a menace.” Jim looked at the sports page.
Mary asked, “Did the Angels win?”
“Yep.” He prepared his cereal with one hand and one eye.
Mary stole the front page. “Supposed to be eighty-seven today.”
She impulsively bent over and kissed his hand. When she lifted her head she was smiling. “I'm astonishingly, completely in love with you. Be calm today, darling. There's nothing to worry about.”
Yet in the depths of her eyes there was worry. Jim smiled and winked. “The thing'll probably blow a fuse.”
“If you think about what we just finished doing when they test you, you'll have those markers jiggling all over the paper.”
Jim and Mary laughed.
A few moments later she kissed him at the door. Then she locked it behind him and whispered, “Oh, dear God, don't let anything go wrong!”
Mary went back into the kitchen and poured herself a second cup of coffee. She sipped once and got up to put a pan on the stove with some water in it for a soft-boiled egg.
She frowned and felt a slight sickness in her belly. Fear! She wished she could be with Jim when he had to undergo the inquisition. It would be hell for him, she knew, because he was so sensitive and idealistic.
She smiled. He was a funny combination of weakness and strength. He was loyal and honest, yet he could be imposed upon too easily sometimes, in certain ways. But only so far, then he got surprisingly tough, almost brutal in his pride and stubbornness.
Like the first time she had met him... in college over a year ago. They had been introduced as a joke at a dance in her sorority house.
Tina Darby had brought Jim over. “Jim Spencer, meet our resident wallflower, Mary Simpson.” The bright, too-sympathetic, too helpful smile. Tina was twisting the knife a little more. Tina was popular with boys, but only because she drank a lot and inevitably let them get into her pants. Tina wasn't very pretty, either.
Mary had been forced to attend the party because of sorority social pressure... “You can't just sit in your room all the time, Mary. There's talk about you.”... “I'm sorry, Mary, I don't want to be your roommate anymore... people are saying you're queer, and I'm getting looked at and whispered about, too!”
Mary had been prepared to hate Jim at first. But he was obviously embarrassed and as uncomfortable as she. Then Tina had viciously added, “Mary, Jim is the fraternity non-dater, your opposite number. You two can sit over here and put down roots together.”
Jim had smiled in that terribly awkward moment after Tina had left. He had said, “Two outcasts.”
Mary had smiled in return. “I guess so.” She had hesitated, then said, “Join my island.” She had been sitting on a small sofa.
It had seemed incredible to her that he wasn't interested in girls... or dating. Was he queer? He was a handsome young man with thick blond hair, a slim and muscular body, nice, big, strong-looking hands, a gentle smile.
She could feel his eyes on her and knew he was asking himself the same questions about her. She had become acutely aware of her body, especially her large, protruding breasts. She knew she was very pretty. Boys always stared at her on the campus. She didn't dress to accent her shape but nothing seemed to hide it, either.
She had wondered if Jim thought she was queer, too?
Surprisingly, he had soon asked her directly, “I've heard you don't like boys. Is that true?”
“No. But they expect more than I'm willing to give... on dates.”
“What if a boy wasn't interested in getting it. Would you go out with him?”
“Yes... if I liked him.” She had smiled to show she liked Jim.
They had gone out five times in two weeks, and he had not once tried to kiss her or fondle her. He didn't even put his arm around her.
But on their sixth date, in a drive-in movie, during a lousy picture, their confidence and trust in each other had reached the point of disclosing personal background.
Again Jim had broached the subject. They had been discussing the anti-sex, anti-life basics of the Christian-Puritan morality that pervaded the American culture. Suddenly Jim had said, “How do those people who are warped and twisted by childhood sexual traumas fit into the culture?
“What happens to a man who is... psychically unable to perform the normal sex act with a woman? What happens if he is attracted to girls, but is afraid to have much contact with them because there cannot be a natural intimacy between them? He is ashamed to confess his problem... afraid the girl would laugh or shun him or something like that... tell others.”
Mary had known almost immediately Jim was talking about himself. She had known he was asking... pleading... for acceptance and understanding.
She had said, “The only thing he can do is try to find a girl who feels the same way... who has the same problem... like a girl who was raped when she was a child, and who was scarred mentally so deeply that the very thought of normal sexual relations with a man is enough to make her sick.”
Jim had said softly, “How do they find each other?”
Mary had taken a deep breath. She was jelly inside. But she said, “Maybe they become wallflowers in college and are thrown together by cruel fellow-students as a joke.”
Then Jim's arm had gone around her shoulders. She had slipped close, nestled against him. He said, “They'd be awfully lucky if that happened.”
Mary was brought out of her reverie by the insistent boiling of the water in the pan on the stove. She had been staring down at it, unseeing, reliving the past.
She turned down the gas flame and took an egg from the refrigerator. She dropped it into the boiling water, glanced at her watch and sat in the breakfast nook again to sip her still-hot coffee.
She idly pressed the warm cup against a naked breast. The nipple responded automatically. She smiled and recalled the first time Jim had touched her breasts...
He had kissed her on that sixth date after driving her back to the sorority house, a short, light, experimental kiss, an “asking” kiss as some of the girls called it. She had responded to his lips, had curled her arms around him, pressed her breasts against his chest, yet had kept her hips from contacting his loins. There could be no contact there, not even through multiple layers of cloth.
He had immediately sensed her restriction and respected it. His hand had rested on her back but had not pressured her thighs close.
They had smiled and whispered arrangements for a date the next night, each sensed a desire in the other to explore the new and exciting realm of sex, the delightful territory of kisses and touchings that was possible, the barely conceivable world of ultimate pleasure... the ways they might take... the paths to mutual joy.
Suddenly, for both of them, sex was open, safe, free of the agony of what was “normal” and expected. They had communicated enough for each to know that the way was there, and that only one door was closed... a mutually barred door.
He had picked her up and they had gone for a ride in the country, seeking by mutual unspoken consent a place of privacy and darkness.
There, in the dimming twilight, sitting close together in the car, they had exposed themselves further, had accepted the risk, had spoken of their secret needs, desires, shames and guilts.
Jim had said, “My dad was a real big, hairy-chested he-man. He hunted and camped and swore and raced cars. I was his son, but not the kind of son he wanted. I hated all the he-man activities he adored. I preferred reading and drawing, even writing poetry and playing chess. I was a sissy in his eyes. So he tried to make a man of me.
“He forced me to learn to shoot, to hike, to climb mountains with him. When I was fourteen, he initiated me into his guilty, dirty, over-compensated world of sex. He took me to a whorehouse and turned me over to his favorite girl.”
Mary clasped his hand. “It must have been awful for you.”
“I wasn't ready. Suddenly there was a big, white, naked body before me, exposed and lewd, and she was undressing me, handling me, comparing me to him, asking if I wanted the whole works.”
Mary remembered the way Jim's hand had gripped hers, how he had been so rigidly tense beside her, so nervous and halting in his story.
But he had gone on. “All I could see was that black patch between her legs. I was supposed to put myself in there. I was scared spitless. I couldn't breathe. I wanted to go to the bathroom.
“Then she laughed at me and pulled me onto the bed. She tried to get me big and put it in... but I couldn't. I suddenly was sure dad had put me in the hands of a freak or something. I was sure she had teeth inside. That was why she wanted me inside, so she could bite it off.”
Jim had tried to laugh. “It was a nightmare. She finally started yelling at me, 'What's the matter with you, kid? Don't you like women? You queer or something?' I didn't know what she meant.”
Mary could feel him trembling.
Jim had said, “I was crying. She pushed me away and told me to get dressed. She threw on a robe and left the room. A few seconds later I could hear dad shouting in another room. Then he came in to get me. He had been with another girl. He was red in the face. I had shamed him, disgraced him! A son of his who wasn't a man!
“Then he said, 'Look, you little sissy bastard! Watch me! This is the way a man does it!' and he pushed her onto the bed, pushed down his pants and showed me. I was petrified and I felt dizzy, but he made me watch him put it in and pound away like a madman, snorting and panting and her putting on an act.
“I didn't know it was an act then, though, I thought it was real... the way she made tortured sounds and clawed at him and made faces. It was so violent! So loud and so physical! Then after a minute he started groaning and cursing, and at the end he slammed at her like an animal. That's all he was. Shouting and roaring. A real he-man having an orgasm.
“I think now it was all an act, the whole bit, but it left me shattered. I was overwhelmed. That was being a man? I had to do that with a girl if I got married. I knew I couldn't. Yet I knew that was what girls expected.”