It’s important, I think, in erotic fiction to round out the characters with non-sexual scenes. Here is Tami missing her home state, and also something about Rod’s life.
And now, three days later, the snow having almost all melted, driving home past campus, he stopped to see an unusual sight, a bunch of students (and what looked like a couple of professors) playing an impromptu game of softball on the muddy field. They were having a great time. And of course there was Tami, in nothing except her left-handed mitt from high school, out in center field, now slopping through the muck in her bare feet to snag a long fly ball. She effortlessly threw it in to the pitcher, mud flying off her toes as the followed through.
He had never seen Tami play softball. She was not a natural disco queen but a natural ball player. A few minutes later her team was up and Tami waited for the pitch, her slim body upright, mud striping her bare butt and her feet and ankles, as well as a large smear down her side, maybe from having made a diving catch. She pulled a sharp line drive to right field.
He waved at her and people waved back. When the game was over she ran to his jeep and cheerfully parked her muddy butt on the easy-to-clean vinyl of the passenger seat.
When they got home Rod, being muddy himself from his work on the project, undressed and was the first one in the shower.
And now he emerged in his towel to see Tami sitting on the kitchen table, leaning against the wall, pounding her mitt and looking down gloomily at the dried mud encrusting her toes.
“What’s wrong Babe?”
“You know what I miss?” Her eyes had a faraway look. “The Pawsox.”
Rod, a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, knew what she meant. He had never been down to see them but he knew about the Sox’s top farm team, the Pawtucket Red Sox.
“My dad would take me and Joe to McCoy Stadium. We would sit on the grass behind the center field wall and eat hot dogs. I always brought this old thing,” the naked young woman said, pounding her tattered glove. “One time I almost caught a home run hit by Johnny Damon. A fat man got it behind us but then he gave it to me and Joe. We still have it in the living room.”
Rod sat down, letting her talk. “And . . . I miss hanging out with my girlfriends watching the cool college kids on Thayer Street, and playing frisbee in Hopkins Square . . . Visiting my cousins in Woonsocket . . . I would bicycle to Attleboro Mass and back with Charlene . . .” Tami looked to her side, up at the Pawsox hat pinned to the bulletin board, less than a foot from her head. As if wishing she could put it on again. But no.
He had dreaded this day coming, but it was also a relief. With Tami about to graduate she had to decide on what her ultimate plan would be. Obviously she could stay at Campbell - Frank as a grad assistant, for a while. But not indefinitely.
Last year, during her embrace of “the theory of nudism”, they had gotten a little drunk and spoke about countries where she might move about freely. Germany topped the list. Then they listed Sweden. Indonesia. Austria. Brazil. Spain. These were just guesses. It never got further than that.
“We don’t have to stay here, Babe,” he said. “There’s other countries -- ”
“Yes, but Rod, I’m an American. I do want to stay here. It’s where I’m from. I liked Germany, but I’m from here. The people I love are here.” Pounding the mitt again, then flexing her mud-caked toes and looking down at them. “Charles Street. Child Street. Charles Street. Child Street.”
Tami leapt off the table, being so light on her feet, and without any drama landed on the floor, her landing muffled by the stuff on her soles. She slouched in front of Rod like a tired outfielder, mitt on her hand, though this was a totally naked, barefoot outfielder with dried mud streaks across her nipples and her concave tummy. If she wasn’t distressed Rod would have found this view pretty hot. “A Providence native -- I mean someone from Pwovidince -- they would say those the same. I’ve lost my accent. Charles Street. Child Street. Damn!”
She was overstating a bit now. “It’s natural to lose your accent in college,” he said, if a bit condescendingly. Rod had always had a standard, neutral African-American accent, pronouncing his R’s and such, but he had noticed the loss of accent in others. Tami certainly had lost hers, though even when he first met her as a new freshman, when she was freshly nude, she didn’t have much of one. Her family’s accent was very strong, as he noticed whenever they went down to visit. Rod could see what was going on here. Tami had always proud of being from Rhode Island. And except for their brief and occasional visits, with her slipping out of the car into her parents’ house when the coast was clear, she couldn’t go back.
Tami stood silently, then flexed her toes and began to move one foot after another, toward the bathroom, heading for the shower after a long game.
Rod pondered a while and decided Tami would bring up the topic again when she wanted to. He got into his jeans and sweatshirt. Time to finally bring in that stuff from the jeep. The wind had kicked up and it was cold again. He brought in the four big boxes, his old things from his trip to Roxbury. It was sad to have to sell that old house he had grown up in, but it just had to be. His mother just couldn’t take care of it any longer.
Now he smiled as he brought in the trombone case. He hadn’t played this thing since his high school marching band days. Sitting in the bedroom, listening to Tami in the shower -- she’s doing her off-key humming, a good sign she’s feeling better -- he looked at the case and contemplated the loss of childhood, Tami’s as well as his own.
What the hell. He opened it and assembled the old thing. This was a regular tenor trombone. He never liked those extra valves and crooks. Simplest is best. A naked trombone. He snorted. He preferred to put his mouth to something naked. A sign of the future, though he hadn’t known it. Then he chuckled at himself for making this joke, the product of a high school mentality.
He wet his lips and pressed them against the mouthpiece. Wow -- this thing was COLD! Well, what did he expect? It had been lying in the jeep for three days. He inhaled and tried to blow a first-position B-flat ---
God, that wasn’t even a note. He wet his lips again, tightened them up, and tried again. The next attempts were hardly better. Now he tried a pedal tone and all that came out was hissing air.
Tami sauntered in, all clean and ruddy and glowing from her rough toweling, and giggled at his atrocious musicianship. It was good to see, her breasts dancing with her laughter.
“Where are you going?” he said, as she gathered her things and hefted her bag over her shoulder.
“SGA committee,” she said, casually glancing down at her toes to make sure she’d scrubbed all the mud off. She was still doing the Student Government Association committee thing. “Later.”
After she’d kissed him and left, Rod, feeling sleepy, placed the trombone in the corner and lay back.
. . . .
“Thbbb! ... Th-thbb!”
He licked his lips and tried again on the next group of sixteenth notes, pressing against the mouthpiece that felt like a block of ice no matter how much he blew into it.
Even through his full-length wool uniform, and the long underwear, he could feel the frigid wind knifing right through him. It wasn’t just him, of course, as he tried to pt-pt the notes of “Little Giant” along with the seven other trombonists in the front row. The rest of the band wasn’t sounding much better. It was nerve-racking being a trombonist, having to be in the front row of the 60-member band to make room for the trombones’ slides.
But this was a great day for the band, for their families, for their high school. They had won the national competition down in Atlanta and were privileged to lead the parade into Foxboro Stadium for the Patriots’ last regular season game.
They had expected cold this time of year, but not THIS cold. It had snowed two days before and the banks were piled up high on each side of Washington Street. Behind the snow, crowds five deep watched, bundled up, and cheered, or made ridiculous muted clapping with their heavily gloved hands. There was some talk about the parade being canceled, but that was only a dream. They couldn’t pass up being seen on national TV.
It was a poor, mostly black school, T----- High, but the marching band program was its pride and joy. They had quite a reputation in the Boston area and were often invited to march in other towns’ parades, like St. Patrick’s Day and Memorial Day. Their uniforms were resplendent, the tall plumed hats and the braided jackets with the shoulder tassles and striped pants, though with the district finances the way they were, upkeep required frequent fund-raising. He hated doing that.
But like for any kid it was worth it, being a proud member of this famous band, marching strictly in step as they were trained to do in their daily morning practices, out on the football field and in the gym in bad weather. The big glass case in the school lobby, right after the metal detector, had a slew of trophies, and annual band photos going back to 1937 when it was a segregated school.
Now “Little Giant” ended and they would switch to “Our Director”. After the last cymbal crash from the half-frozen arms of his friend Jared ten rows back, he and the other trombonists counted three beats and then dropped their instruments down to waist level in “ready” position. The next tune after that was “Washington Post” and then “Manhattan Beach”. This was part of their regular rotation, the traditional marches then “Hold That Tiger”, during which the band could finally do a little swinging around to get their blood moving again.
Anything was better than straight marching on a frigid day like this. His feet were getting numb, and the tips of his gloved fingers. The wind was now blowing into their faces as they began marching downhill with the road. He could feel his nose sniffle and hoped snot didn’t run down where he couldn’t wipe it. Unnecessary motions were much discouraged, they ruined the formation. He thought of their band director, Mr. Weaver -- they called him “Sarge” because he used to direct an Army band -- who was marching to the side twenty feet back. He glanced furtively down at his white fake-leather gloves. Would snot show on them?
The drum guard, way behind him, did their vamping and he looked straight forward as he was supposed to. He could see the city ahead, and the stadium in front of it, looking like it was ten miles away. It wasn’t that far, but this was a long parade -- first going down to the park, then a short break, then the final leg down Broadway, in front of the reviewing stand, then finally into the stadium.
The sound off, and now into “Our Director”. D-flat was not his favorite key but this was an easy tune, not too many notes. The band didn’t make as many flubs on this one. Now he looked a little to the right, to their regular majorette, a white girl named Brigid, prancing and twirling her baton all alone at the head of the parade, and contemplated her very interesting skin.
(“Tami Beethoven”, Parts 22 - 23.)