I waited for her to come, and when she did, so did I. I asked her to lift and she lifted and let me get my hands out from under her. Here I’d been cupping that ass of hers, enjoying that fine ass of hers, and then we both came and suddenly her ass weighs a ton and all I can think about is getting my hands out from under before they get the fuck crushed.

I rolled off her.

"Was it good for you?" she asked.

"It was fine."

There was a moment of strained silence. She wanted me to ask, so I did: "How was it for you?"

"Fine," she said.

That taken care of, I got off the bed, slipped into my swim trunks, trudged into her kitchen, and got myself a bottle of Coke.

"Get some Kleenex for me," she called from the bedroom.

I was still in the kitchen. I said, "You want something to drink?"

"Please! Fix me a Seven and Seven, will you?"

Jesus, I thought. I put some Seagram’s and Seven-Up and ice in a glass, got her some Kleenex from the bathroom, and went into the bedroom, where she took both from me, setting the glass on the nightstand, stuffing the Kleenex between her legs.

There was a balcony off the bedroom, through French doors, and I went out and looked down on the swimming pool below. It was mid-evening, and cool. Florida days are warm year round, they say, but the nights are on the chilly side, particularly a March one like this.

Not that the crowd of pleasure-seekers below seemed to mind. Or notice. Lean tan young bodies, of either sex, their privates covered by a slash or two of cloth, basked in the flickering glow of the torch lamps surrounding the pool. Some of them lounged on towels and sun chairs as if the full moon, which I could see reflected in the shimmery green water of the pool, was going to add to their already berry-brown complexions. Others romped, running around the pool’s edge or in the water splashing, perpetual twelve-year-olds seeking perpetual summer.

I watched one well-endowed young woman tire of playing water baby with a boyfriend, climb out of the pool, tugging casually at her flimsy top which had slipped down to reveal dark half-circles of nipple. She was laughing, tossing back a headful of wet dark blond hair, shoving at the brawny chest of the guy who was climbing out of the pool after her. He pretended to be overpowered by her nudge and waved his arms and made a show of falling back in, but she no longer seemed amused.

She wasn’t beautiful, exactly. The girl in the bedroom behind me was more classically beautiful, with a perfect, high-cheekboned fashion model face and a slim but well-proportioned figure. A lot of the girls at this place (which was an apartment complex for so-called "swinging singles") were the model type; others were more All-American-style beauties, sunny-faced girls sung about in songs by the Beach Boys. She fit neither type.

Her face was rather long, her nose long and narrow, her eyes having an almost Oriental slant to them. Her mouth was wide and when she smiled, gums showed. Her figure was wrong, too: she was tall, at least an inch taller than my five ten, with much too lanky a frame for those huge breasts. Put that all together and she should have been a goddamn freak.

But she wasn’t. The big breasts rode firm and high; she carried them well. Her face was unique-looking. You might say haunting. The eyes especially, which were dark blue with flecks of gold. Her voice was unusual, too—a rich baritone as deep as a man’s, as deep as mine, in fact—but for some reason it only made her seem all the more feminine.

I didn’t know her, but I knew who she was. I was here because of her. I’d been here, watching her, for almost a week now. If she noticed me, she gave no indication. Not that it mattered. The beard and mustache, once shaved off, would make me someone else; when we met in another context, one day soon, she’d have little chance of recognizing me, even if she had managed to pick me out of this crowd (which incidentally included several other beards and plenty of mustaches, despite the unspoken rule that tenants were to be on the clean-cut side in appearance, if not in behavior).

I hoped I wouldn’t have to kill her. I probably would. But I hoped not. I wasn’t crazy about killing a woman, only that wasn’t the problem. I hadn’t counted on her looking like this. Her picture had made her look almost homely. I’d had no idea she radiated this aura of some goddamn thing or another, some damn thing that made me want to know her, made me uncomfortable at the thought of having to kill her.

"Hey," she said.

I turned.

This one’s name was Nancy. She was wearing a skimpy black bikini. She had short dark black hair and looked like a fashion model. Or did I mention that already?

"You want to go down and swim?" she asked.

"Later," I said.

"Is that Coke good?"

"It’s fine."

"How come you don’t drink anything but Coke and that? Got something against liquor?"

"No. I have a mixed drink sometimes."

"What d’you come out here for?"

"It’s nice out here."

"Is it because you knew I’d smoke?"

"I guess."

"Don’t you have a single fucking vice?"

"Not one."

"Tell me something."


"You always this blue after you do it?"

"Just sometimes."

"Every time. With me, anyway. You always get all, uh, what’s a good word for it?"


"No. Morose. That’s the word I want."

"Quiet is what I get. Don’t read anything into anything, Nancy."

"I knew a guy like you once. He always got...quiet...after doing it."

"Is that right."

"You know what he said once?"


"He said, ‘Doing it is like Christmas: after all the presents are open, you can’t remember what the fuss was all about.’ " And she laughed, but it got caught in her throat.

"What are you depressed for?"

"I’m not depressed. Don’t read anything into anything, Burt."

Burt is the name I was using here. I thought it sounded like a good swinging singles name.

"My husband used to get sad, sometimes, after we did it."

Him again. She talked about him all the time, her ex. About what a son of a bitch he was, mostly. He was an English professor at some eastern university, with rich parents who underwrote him. He (or rather they) paid for Nancy’s apartment here in Florida. There was a kid, too, a daughter I think, living with Nancy’s parents in Michigan.

"You know what he used to say?" she asked.

"Something about Christmas?"

"No. He used to say that in France coming is called the little death."

"That’s a little over my head, Nancy."

"Well, he was an intellectual. The lousy prick. But I think what it means is when you come, it’s like dying for a second, you’re going out of this life into some place different. You’re not thinking about money or your problems or anything. All you can think of is coming. And you aren’t thinking about that, either. You’re just coming."

Down by the pool, the girl I’d come here to watch was sitting along the edge, kicking at the water, while her blond boyfriend tried to kid her out of her mood.

Nancy’s hand was on my shoulder. I looked at her and she was lifting her mouth up to me, which meant I was supposed to kiss her, and I did. I put my hand between her legs and nudged her with a finger.

"Bang," I said.

She took my arm and pulled me into the bedroom.

Copyright © 1976 by Max Allan Collins.

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