| Eric and I go way back. Not quite as far back as high school, but nearly. We have been friends for many years. We've lost track of each other a couple of times, then run into each other again and have always been able to pick up where we left off. It wasn't one of those friendships that required constant companionship to keep it alive. In fact it seemed to thrive on distance and separation, probably for good reason!
We are very different personalities, and we certainly have pursued different courses in our lives, so it wasn't a closeness that was held together by Saturday night binges, football games or any of the other things that are supposed to cement male friendships. It was just that when we did get together the distances and the differences seemed to melt away. It was as if we hadn't seen each other since the night before, not the decade before.
We hadn't tried to share our lives and we lived too far from each other to live in each other's pockets. But if one of us needed a dependable partner for any enterprise, we both knew that a phone call was all it would take to bring assistance.
So I called him up.
"Good God, Lew! Is that you? Where've you been?"
I laughed. "I haven't been anywhere! I never go anywhere."
"Well," he said. "That's not true. Last time we talked you'd just come back from Greece."
"Right. Well I wasn't far off."
He'd always been a bit vague about geography. The trouble was it wasn't just that he was hazy about where places were. He was even worse when it came to following directions, and finding places.
"You remember I once helped you drive your stuff across the country?"
"Sure," he said. "That was quite a trip!"
One of the things I remembered clearly about the journey was that on more than one occasion Eric's willful misreading of the map took us miles out of our way.
"You remember the girl?"
I did indeed. We had had finally found our way back to the highway after being lost half the night, and picked up a hitchhiker on the on-ramp back onto the interstate, just as the sun was coming up.
By the time the sun went down again Eric had fucked her twice, made her give me a blowjob while I drove the truck, and abandoned her at a truck stop.
He may not have been good at directions, but he was unerring when it came to finding pussy, willing or not. He had the single-mindedness of a homing pigeon.
That wasn't the only time I shared a woman with him.
Eric married Marie a couple of years after he left college. She wasn't at all like the women I have come to associate with him; good time girls mostly, some of them very good looking and most of them big women – rubenesque, I suppose would be the polite way to put it. Marie was a thin reed-like woman with a sharp tongue, a graduate student in philosophy with more brains in her pinkie than Eric could muster in his whole body, even if you added the brain in his cock to the rather smaller one in his head.
The three of us were hiking and camping in the Smokies. Late one afternoon I fell while crossing a mountain stream and soaked my clothes and my sleeping bag. That night I shared their sleeping bag with them. I remember Marie's cold skinny backside getting progressively warmer until she shifted to accommodate my growing erection. I fucked her without ceremony while she spooned with her husband, and then we all turned over and he fucked her too while she held on to me. It was never repeated and nobody ever mentioned it. She eventually left him; got fed up with his philandering and the fact that he wasn't terribly satisfying intellectually, I expect. But he was good natured enough and he let her go without demur. Eric subsequently ended up with a succession of women who were his intellectual equals, which isn't saying much.
The thing about Eric is that he is a great man friend; easy going, always ready to help you out of a jam or to get some job done. It's worth a lot to have a friend like that, one who will put himself out for you and help you see something through. He is good company too. Not a great conversationalist, but amiable, and - well, just easy to be with.
The only thing that seems to get him off balance is lust – he gets a bit crazy where women are involved. I suppose he isn't really very different from the rest of us, just a more extreme case. When Eric meets a woman, almost any woman, his judgment goes to pieces. It doesn't matter if she's good looking or bad looking, clever or stupid; just as long as she's his body type, Eric has to have her. She can be nice to him or she can be nasty to him; it doesn't make any difference. If there is the remotest possibility that he can get his prick into her he lavishes her with attention and seduces her the old fashioned way with flowers, and dinners and declarations of love.
Most of the time it works, and mostly it doesn't take very long. He is Prince Charming on steroids; attentive and devoted. Women love him. He once showed me a picture album of women he had dated. It was his catalog of conquests. A third of the women were gorgeous, and the rest ranged from pleasant to unbelievably ugly. But they were all smiling lovingly at him as he took the picture. Most of them were either half naked or completely naked and had that satisfied, sleepy mussed up look that well fucked women seem to acquire.
"Who's that one then?" I asked him, pointing to a picture of a big brunette, lounging naked on a chaise longue, with her hand covering her pussy.
"I don't remember her name. But I had a hell of a job getting rid of her. She wanted to get married."
And that was the problem. They all fell for him, but once he had fucked them vigorously for a few weeks he lost interest. The big problem in Eric's life was getting rid of lovelorn women. He didn't seem capable of just telling them it was over.
He couldn't say, "Hey, honey. That's it! Take your shit and get out. It's all over."
His way of getting rid of them was to behave worse and worse towards them in the hope that they would get the message, and end the relationship themselves. Some of them did, some of them didn't. He tried standing them up for dates, making sure they would see him with other women, taking money out of their purses, insisting on doing things they didn't like, like coming in their mouths or fucking them in the ass. Of course, sometimes these strategies backfired – especially the last one. Most of the time they decided they liked it after all.
But the fact remained that Eric's big problem was not so much finding women to fuck, but getting rid of them afterwards.
"I need you to help me move the boat. I need someone who won't shit their pants if the weather blows up."
The boat had been stored at a boatyard on the other side of Lake Michigan over the winter.
"So, are you going to help me or not," I asked, knowing very well that he wouldn't refuse. But I should have been ready for the next thing he said.
"Sure, of course. But there's this girl I've been going with......"
"And, well, I don't know what to do."
"Bring her along. She'll enjoy it." It would be nice to have a woman on the boat, despite the sailor's adage that a woman on a vessel always brought bad luck. I like women and a woman in a bikini improves the look of a boat no end. And anyway, she could cook for us.
"The truth is I've been trying to dump her. I've tried to tell her it's not working out for us but she won't listen. So I was going to try again this weekend."
"Why d'you want to ditch her?"
"I met this other woman on-line, and I'm supposed to go see her next weekend. But I've got to get rid of Debbie first. She thinks we're going to the Indy 500 together." Eric had never missed the 500 mile race in as many years as I can remember.
"You mean you're not going to the race? Or are you taking this new woman instead of Debbie?"
"Neither," said Eric miserably. "I'm going to Stowe for Memorial Day weekend. She lives in Vermont."
"Holy shit, Eric. You're missing the race for a woman? You're nuts!" I didn't think he was going to argue that point, and indeed he didn't. But now you see what I mean about his lack of judgment when faced with the possibility of a new fuck toy.
"Why don't you just bring Debbie along on the boat and then you'll have plenty of time to explain to her that you don't want to see her anymore. And I'll commiserate. Hey, maybe she'll fancy me."
"I don't think so." That may have been true, but he needn't have said so.
"Well, she can cook for us then."
Eric was silent for a moment. "Well, I'll bring her then, but she's not a very good cook. And you'll have to help me out with........ well, you know."
I knew what he meant, but he would have to liberate himself from Debbie's affections on his own. I wasn't going to do it.
And that is how I found myself sliding my sailboat alongside a marina dock one evening to pick up my crew of two, each of whose expectations of the weekend trip now seemed to differ markedly from the other's.
They were already standing on the dock, waiting for me. I put the engine in reverse to stop the boat, threw a line to Eric and passed another to Debbie. Eric cleated his line off while Debbie stood among her suitcases holding her end of the rope uncertainly as the stern of the boat drifted away from the dock.
"Just pull me in and tie it to that thing on the dock, there." I pointed to the cleat at her feet.
Debbie was a caricature of the sort of woman Eric fancied. I could have picked her as Eric's girlfriend out of a crowd of fifty women. She was tall, blonde, bosomy, and large; not fat, just a really big girl, with slightly coarse features, and a cute off center gap in her teeth. She would have been completely blonde if she had been a bit more diligent, but she had half an inch of brown roots underpinning her puffed up hair style, and somehow her blondeness didn't really suit the rest of her Mediterranean coloring.
She pulled on the rope, teetering precariously on her high wedge sandals, while with her other hand trying to stop her wide brimmed hat from blowing away. I could tell she wasn't a sailor! If she'd ever even been on the Staten Island ferry she would have more of a clue about what was appropriate boating gear.
But who the hell cares? She was big and blowzy, and the fact that she was unsteady on her heels just made her seem more sexy and vulnerable. Women do know what they are doing when they dress like that, don't they? I was beginning to look forward to having Debbie on the boat more than I was Eric, who was standing by his mooring line looking surly and pissed off.
"Ooh, is this your boat? Eric said it was just a small one."
"No, this is it. Tie that line off and I'll help you aboard."
She left her bags on the dock for Eric to worry about and I helped her climb over the safety lines as best I could. I ought to have been more helpful, I suppose, and undone the clips on the safety lines to make an opening that she could step through. She was wearing a sundress and she got hung up as she spanned the wires, the fabric rucked up and quite an expanse of thigh showing. She squeaked as the line bisected her somewhere under the skirt, and I caught hold of her to help her onto the deck. She was a nice mixture of firm and soft.
In the cabin Eric and I watched her ample rear as she unpacked clothes in the fore-berth.
"I'm glad you came, buddy." I said, passing him a beer from the icebox. "This is going to be fun."
He swigged the beer, grimaced, and shrugged.
"Don't like the beer? Sorry, I know it's not Coors."
I can't understand anybody who drinks Coors; it would taste like horse piss if it had much of a taste at all. Give me MGD anytime.
"It's not the beer," he said, nodding at Debbie. "I mean, she's a great girl, Lew, but shit, I need to move on. Can't you like distract her or something?"
"Just be the asshole you always are. It'll sort itself out."
It was late in the afternoon when we got away from the dock. With an inexperienced crew aboard I decided we would anchor for the night in a sheltered spot behind the dunes, near the entrance to the channel leading to the open water. I had always liked that spot. It had good holding for the anchor and was sheltered from the northwesterly winds.
Eric went to the bow of the boat to try his luck at fishing. I made gin and tonics for us all and chatted with Debbie while I fixed a meal. I was surprised at what good company she was, and discovered that she wasn't as dumb as she looked. More truthfully, she wasn't as dumb as she behaved when she was around Eric. It was as if she had put a rev limiter on her IQ and was deliberately matching herself to the stereotype of Eric's stable of girl friends. Maybe she thought he would be threatened by her if she acted intelligent. I suppose you do that if being with someone stupid is important enough. I presumed she had no clue that her affair with Eric was on the rocks and I wasn't going to even hint at it. Eric could do his own dirty work. Instead we chatted casually about Chicago, and how she liked living there.
The bottle of wine the three of us shared while we ate made for a convivial evening. After the plates were cleared away Eric found a pack of playing cards and we played cards for a while. I was tired, and I'm not crazy about card games, but I lasted a few rounds before turning in. Eric had always liked playing cards, even if he wasn't very good at it. I was sure Debbie was letting Eric win, and even had the feeling that she was letting me in on one of the secrets of her relationship, which was to indulge Eric at every opportunity.
I turned in. I'd given up the V-berth to them and so I made my bed in the quarter berth tucked into the corner of the hull behind the chart table. I like to sleep there when the boat is under way. It has good access to the companionway in an emergency, and I can see the compass on the bulkhead without moving.
Even a boat the size of mine is a very small space, and privacy is only an illusion fostered by the willing pretense of the crew. Small sounds can be very public on a boat, and so it was no surprise to hear the splashing of pee in the head, the sounds of teeth being brushed, and to feel the movement of my companions as they headed to the intimacies of their bunk. And it wasn't much of a surprise to hear the noises they made either. I wasn't shocked by the escalating sounds of passion – I'd heard that a few times on this boat, too, but I was taken aback to hear Debbie say,
"No, no, Eric, don't."
"Not like that. Please. No, no don't."
"............Ouch! Slowly, please, aaaargh! That hurts."
"Oh, shit! Please!"
And then groans and rhythmic creakings as the boat worked beneath them. Finally it was over and shortly afterwards someone went back to the head again. I know it was Debbie. I am almost certain I heard her sob as she passed by, and the sounds from the bathroom suggested that she was in some discomfort. And I was sure she stopped by my bunk for a long moment on her way back to the V-berth. I reached out my hand but by then she had gone.
It was a gorgeous morning, quite cool for the time of year, but the surrounding shore had a warm early morning glow to it. My crew responded to the cup of coffee taken to them in their bunk by groaning. I gave them a while to get moving and I'd like to say that they emerged from the cabin ready to take up their duties, but that would be stretching the truth. Debbie climbed up into the cockpit on her wedge sandals, wearing a house-coat of the sort worn by Lucille Ball and other domestic goddesses of the 1950's, obviously not ready for work. She and Eric sat in the cockpit steaming their eyes open by blowing in their coffee mugs, while I took the sail covers off and shackled the halyard onto the mainsail.
I love early mornings on the boat when the weather is like that; the prospect of a voyage in fine weather, the combination of cool air and warm sun on my skin, and the company of congenial companions makes me feel like a lucky man. I just wished my crew were showing enough life to even be considered present, never mind congenial.
"Time for a dip, then, and then we'll get going!" I decreed hopefully.
I unfolded the swim ladder and dove in, savoring the tingling shock of the freshwater.
I looked up.
"C'mon, Eric! C'mon, Debbie!"
Eric actually heeded the call and started climbing down the ladder, and Debbie at least got to her feet to come and watch, standing at the top of the ladder, her collapsed haystack of a hair-do glowing in the sun, sipping her coffee.
I ducked my head under the water and surfaced in time to hear a yelp and to see Debbie tumbling into the water, the coffee cup left suspended in mid-air with a frond of coffee fanning from it. She surfaced with the housecoat ballooning around her, while her body was a pale shape under the glittering surface of the water. She spluttered water and tears.
"Eric! Why, Eric? Why did you do that?"
Eric was swimming away from her on his back and laughing.
"Oh, shit!" I thought. "I never asked her."
"Can you swim?"
I swam towards her while the air escaped from her housedress, which, by the time I reached her, was wrapped round her like a flag.
"Stupid bastard! Yes, of course I can."
I reached for her hand. She was treading water while trying to pull the dress from around her legs, but it clung to her like a snake.
"But I can't swim in this thing."
She put her arm round my neck and started to undo the buttons one handed while I tried to keep us both afloat. She eventually got one button undone, but it took so long that I'd nearly drowned us both by the time she'd done it. I was supposed to be rescuing her, but I'm not a very good swimmer and I was using her for buoyancy.
"Here! Just rip the buttons. I'll never get them undone."
I hesitated. She put my hand on the fabric. I let go of her and just ripped the front of the housecoat apart with both hands. Bodice ripping turned out to be very satisfying, seeing loose buttons glinting as they fell through the water and buoyant breasts suddenly freed. She hung on to me while she wriggled her arms out of the coat, her body warm where it touched me. I didn't want to let her go, but she kissed me on the cheek and swam away.
I watched her climb up the swim ladder on to the boat, and admired the sheen of water that slipped from her skin as she emerged from the lake. Oh, she was gorgeous, all right. And a sailor could wile away many an hour in his hammock thinking about the pleasure in those broad hips. I turned over and floated on my back, hoping that concentrating on the beauty of an early spring sky would prevent me from getting an embarrassing erection.
It was a waste of time, because I was soon distracted from my contemplation of the clouds by what was happening back at the boat.
Eric had swum back to the boat, but Debbie had pulled the swim ladder out of his reach and was standing, naked and angry, yelling at him.
"Eric, you are a complete asshole. I've fucking had it with you!"
Oh, God! She was even better from the front!
"Why are you such a prick? You think you can just do want you want to me, and I'm never going to say anything. Well, fuck you!"
Eric said something. I don't know what it was. I was too far away to hear and anyway I was much more interested in the way Debbie was delivering her lines.
"Well, never again, buddy!"
"No, you don't, you never have."
"Well, I'm never ever going to let you do THAT again!"
Eric trod water and pleaded his case, and after a while Debbie smiled at him. I couldn't believe it. Why was he sweet talking her? He was supposed to be getting rid of her, and if making someone hate you is the way to do it then I thought he'd been making good progress.