The Daisy of Troha
A Story by Pan
The characters and events in this story are purely fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Copyright © 2002 by K.A. Moulton
July 10th, 1945
I don't like goats milk. Nobody gets it. I wish Dad didn't sell Gladys. Henry Tucker told me a funny today about Japs. Mama says it's okay if I am stronger than Wally. Dad said it ain't right to hit boys. He says girls should not go hitting folks. He let me go into the toolbox today for nails when he was making a fence to go around the ewes pen. It rained hard today also. I liked it.
July 10th, 1962
He been on near three weeks now and, far as I can tell, he don't know a ball hammer from a brake puller. I keep tellin' Shaw he ain't worth a damn in this place. But Shaw, he just shushes me and tells me to mind my own affairs with those silly black lips of his. Standing there watching her all day is what he does. Shit, where can I find work like that. Shop ain't nothing resemblin' what it used to no more.
"So," she says last Friday, "It's nice to have somebody around who notices." And I say notices what? Ain't right what Mr. Chance's done to this place. He done gone and lost his marbles these last two years. Dammit if that state lottery don't have me and Trixie's number next Saturday. I'll show all of 'em whose got bright ideas, I will.
Half the time, I can only see his boots. They're still as new as the day he bought them from Quincy's. Three weeks doesn't seem very long for a pair of boots, but in this place, boots get old and filthy quick. I don't mind, though. He's got one of those smiles that always looks like someone's just celebrated his birthday, and he isn't afraid to look a girl like me in the eye, unlike most of the stiffs in this town. I'm not going to complain about him to Chance. Besides, Yates does enough complaining for the whole county.
He fetches tools when I ask for them, so it isn't like he's in the way. I think he's trying to learn something. It does seem to take a heck of a lot of time for him to find what I ask for. Everyone's got to start somewhere, I guess.
He told me the first day we met here in the garage that I was the reason he applied for the job. I just let that skip off right away as odd politeness. I haven't met a man before him that doesn't get uppity when he sees a girl with a ratchet in her hand and up to her elbows in axle grease. There is certainly something peculiar about Henry Hoyle. I enjoy listening to him speak, but I can't figure out what a college boy like him would see in a foul-mouthed, no-schooling shop like this. Maybe he was sincere about why he got the job. It's a bit far-fetched, if you ask me.
It was the simplest thing today: I checked Greggy Colter's Ford, wiggled a few things, and changed the Radiator hoses. I swear, Henry's eyes did not stray from every move I made. I sometimes wonder if he might like to see what I've got in the basement at home. Nobody, not even my family, knows anything about that. I do wonder...
She bout the best mechanic I ever seen. Yates better shut his chicken trap up, foe she go off and belt him good. Fact is, I had a mind to belt him myself. He so jealous and duck-witted, I don't know why Mr. Chance bothers with him t'all.
That boy Henry ain't no good with his hands, Lord knows, but he keeps this place in good spirit near all day. I like him well enough. Man like me can't complain much in a place like this. Never done me or my family one bit of good to complain. Mr. Chance is a good man. There was a lot of men coulda had my job, but Chance, he knows a good hand when he sees one. Don't matter what they skin look like or if'n they got to run a blade cross they chin.
That Claire girl, though, she's like magic with an engine. I don't complain none.
Pa's starting to worry about it. I caught him talking to Ma about it when I came home the other night. The only thing he can see is a trust fund expunged on an overeducated, inept shop hand. All I need him to do is be patient for another few weeks, perhaps sooner. Dr. Jack Goeble ought to be looking at my resume any day now. He promised me he wouldn't tell my parents about it, and let me surprise them if everything works out. Honestly though, I almost wish I could stay here until I can muster the courage to ask Claire out on a proper date.
See, Claire, she is a morning dove in this wasted, bigot-stuffed land. I've never seen a girl anything like her. The day Pa brought his pickup into Chance's garage - got to be almost two full years now- to fix that leaky tank, and I saw her dolly-out from under someone's station wagon, I knew that she was something special. All through those four years at OU not a single one of those girls on campus caused me more than a twist of the neck. A couple of my dorm brothers set me up with a blind double-date, and that wasn't even good enough to be terrible. I'm not claiming that there isn't the lion's share of beauties on campus. It's just that I didn?t hear those bells, or get that nervous stomach around any of them. With Claire, it was bells, gut, itchy scalp, sweaty palms, even a stutter. Sometimes I even hollered.
She's almost always in a baggy pair of blue-gray coveralls, pocked and smeared with shiny black grease stains, with her top two buttons unfastened and the sleeves pushed up to her elbows. Her hair is long and chestnut and braided loosely with gossamer tints of sun-bleached blonde here or there; eyes big and black like late-August plumbs. She stands a good six or seven inches shorter than me, but I'm tall like my grandfather, so she's not petite. Just watching her snug a bolt is more stunning than five ballet dancers in pirouette. I want to ask her to sing something for me. That voice of hers stays with me constantly. Even when I read any odd thing, it is her voice that narrates.
When it gets too humid or the sun bakes the cinder block, Claire works the shop in Dickies and a stretch tank. Those are the days I can't ever seem to get my hands to work together, or my eyes to focus on anything but her. She's got a carriage of thick muscle all over; not like a man, more like a greyhound or a fine life sculpture, and those inhuman things don't really explain properly. It's almost as if you can see that warm blood flowing through her all the time. I guess when someone said beauty is only skin deep, they didn't reckon a girl like Claire.
I know Dr. Goeble will call one of these days. He'll be looking for a substitute teacher soon enough. Until then, I show up to work early six days a week. I can't get her out of my head. No matter how things turn out, I feel like I never will.
I asked Henry to go to Dayton with me tomorrow. Mr. Chance said that we need a special lathe for a good couple of jobs coming up in the next month. He didn't say much about the trip, only that he wanted Henry to go with me. "I know you're one to take care of yourself, but I'd feel a whole sight better if he went along with you." he told me. He wanted to say something else by that grin sneaking out, but he didn't.
First he hires a girl to do a man's work, then he somehow gets to thinkin' a nigger is a better man than any of them boys 'round town. If that ain't enough, he sends her on a trip a man of drivin' experience and good-old-fashioned-know-how ought to be takin', jus so she c'n tag along that skinny college dipshit for a day. How much more backways shit I supposed to let happen round here? S'like Chance's gone and 'come one of them naysayers of the man's right to a clean white country. I ain't gone do nothin' but watch TV tomorrow. I ain't even gone call him. He don't need a real man's help round there no more. He can go an march with that Marvin King Jr. son-of-a-bitch, much as I care.
I can always get Henry to talk to me. We had a real nice ride out to Dayton. I even let him drive so he didn't feel so much like company. Men don't like to be only good company when they're getting paid, not in my experience, anyhow. They've got to feel like they are in charge around women to some measure. I've never let anyone but my dad have that privilege before, not even Chance.
We both laughed pulling away from the station that morning. You could see Yates' bald head poking up through one of the bay windows as he watched us leave. It was almost like you could see his head glowing red with spite and envy. I never could understand why his redneck family stayed up north for more than a generation. Everything about that coot screams the resentment of the confederacy. He keeps a rebel flag patch on his coveralls, he even flies one over that horse barn he calls a house. I guess this part of Ohio always had its share of throwbacks. The River border stayed a bit blurry long after the Civil War.
Henry wanted me to drive on the way back. When I asked him why, it was if he'd been awaiting the question all day. He grinned in that birthday-way, looked me square in the face and said, "Because I like to watch you, Sandy." I said that I noticed. I was real serious about it.
That's exactly what he did most of the way back. He wasn't just staring. We talked and laughed a bunch, but it was as if he could see under my skin, and I liked the way he did that. I say most of the way back because we had to stop in Chillicothe to get something in our stomachs. That's about half-way between Dayton and Meigs County. So when we get to the city limits, he says:
"I want to ask you out on a date."
I didn't say yes. I just asked him when he wanted to ask me that.
"I'm asking you right now."
I don't know why I expected him to be nervous or marble-mouthed after I answered his question with a question, but he wasn't. He just sort of hollered it. I told him yes, then he told me he wanted that date "to happen in ten minutes. I need to wash my face and hands first." Then he hollered at me to stop the truck, and he got out.
I tend to Yell when I get seriously nerved. I thought the only way to let her know I wasn't actually angry was to pick a bunch of little white daisies that I saw, just then, on the side of the road. She told me the little ones were her honest-to-god favorites. So I wasn't really nervous all of a sudden, and I stopped yelling.
When we loaded the lathe back in Dayton, I almost tripped over my own feet. She took the heavy end without an argument. She was wearing the stretch tank top, so that the muscles in her shoulders and arms popped out, and I could see all the veins delivering blood where it was needed, even in her neck. I couldn't take it anymore. I had to tell her how I felt. It turns out I couldn't get the courage for another hour-and-a-half. She was so overwhelmingly beautiful just then. I could feel the gaze of some of the factory workers when we loaded it. Casually, Claire refused any of their help, and that was enough to draw attention. She took no notice of her own little spectacle, looking at me the entire time
It was 4:47pm when we had our first date in a place called Calvin's Roadside Eatery. July forged something out of the deepest Louisiana bayou that day and, fortunately, Calvin's had a five-to-one customer/window fan ratio. It was a kind of wind tunnel in there. Our eyes kept tearing-up from the hot, artificial gale. At the same time, the diner was thick with a silence that contained table conversation -almost as if no one else was there at all.
It was her idea to call Mr. Chance about the broken drive shaft, only it wasn't broken. All that started when I asked to feel her right arm during supper. The typically dull, elementary act of eating caused her biceps to react with every mouthful of red potatoes. That was the first time I had ever seen Claire flex her muscles for show. She was distinctly proud of her arms. She told me how she learned to not just lift weights for strength, but control each exercise in a way that shaped each muscle a certain way. She continued eating, but was very purposeful about the motion. I stopped eating, letting my own supper get cold, and placed my hand over her other biceps. She just switched hands and ate her pork chops and corn. I felt an obtuse pressure building beneath my dungarees. Her biceps would grow and lengthen, relax and contract, sustain warmth, and almost grow hot under my palm.
"You okay?" She asked in a way that meant something else. Her eyes were boiling with something anticipated. I thought she could see my heart beating through my shirt. I was so consumed with her left arm, I didn't notice that the other had vanished from the table top. As her hand pushed against me, she said,
"What are we gonna do about that drive shaft?"
He gone fire that idiot. I'm bettin' that one of the reasons he done sent them two to Dayton. I know Chance been sitting on that notion all week. Riddance, by God, but that Yates done got his share of friends in town. He gone get up off his ass for a spell and find somewheres else to raise Cain. Chance kept givin me the knowin look every time Yates ran his fool head through his mouth the last week. As good by me, I take them hours. Best I get over to Haddy's house tonight and let him know to keep a watch out on that fool. He gone drink hisself into a mad dog if'n the news come up. I get the feelin Chance gone gimme a good share of money to keep things smooth, Claire too.
I ain't one to smile on others' bad fortune, Lord knows. I ain't gone smile about it so's anyone can see it, least not 'round here. Don't do no one good to complain, neither. I better tell Haddy spread the word so'n someone look out for that fool's wife and kids the next few days. He been known to take more than a hand to them time-to-time. They got a devil in them, and they ain't gone find The Good Lord overnight. Still, they ought to be given some chance at. I seen that woman limping one day, arm slung-up another. And them boys sometimes look like they been playin' football less a helmet. I hope that sheriff open up his eyes before too long, I do hope.
Drive shaft. Them two could have come up with something at least halfways believable. Neither of them got the cash on-hand to take care of that, 'less they steal it. I guess they didn't give it more'n a minute's thought. But then, when you're young and learning things about each other, I s'pose the last thing that comes to mind is me looking under the truck.
I positively love to swim. I reckon Henry expected some long courtship when he asked for a date. By the time I was thirteen, I knew that I was not going to be what my Pa wished I'd be; not in the ways of love, anyway. I've had three boyfriends, and wasn't one of them that didn't get spooked by my impatience. I've never understood how other girls had the patience for those kind of things.
Good thing is, I never got a bad reputation. I made it plenty clear to all three of those boys that I'd beat them senseless if they ever told, and I always had something that made them want more than a few tosses in the back seat. I think my last beau, Carl Hylkema; who left for the service five months ago, was scared that I was going to whip him just for joining up with the marines. Aside from the first warning, I never showed him one hint of physical aggression. Oh, well there was that time Carl said he'd tell Petula Underwood -the town busybody who can spread gossip faster than a transistor radio- about the way I am, just in joking. I laughed along with him for a breath, then I grabbed his collar with one hand, his belt buckle with the other, and lifted him up straight over my head. I threw him ten feet across Raimer's pasture, and almost into a horse pile...just in joking. I guess large muscles aren't really anything special when men have them. They sure have done some special things for me.
I found out from the nice waitress where I could find a good place to have a swim.
I cannot swim to steal a fortune in gold from a tire puddle.
I had a pretty good feeling Yates wouldn't show up to work this morning. If he was anyone else, I might've phoned him by now. Won't do a bit of good with Yates. The good news is, we got just enough work to keep Shaw happy, and he knows me well enough to know I ain't gonna sweep this episode under the rug with Yates.
I figure those two ought to be pulling into town somewhere around lunch, but that Claire, well she knows I ain't gonna burden her with no questions if they're late. She likes that boy. No tellin' what she got in mind for him. Whatever it is, I just hope she don't go and hurt the young man. There are times when that girl don't know her own strength at all.
The first month I hired Claire she damned near broke my forearm clean off. She was armrasslin' Shaw during their lunch break, and I tell you, as big and strong as Shaw is, she gave him a contest, she did. At first, I thought ole' Shaw was just playin' around with her; pretending to struggle and making that vein in his forehead pop up. He ended up winning, but seemed to give her something to be proud of, especially being that she's a woman. I figured I'd go and play along with him; give her a story to tell her brother or her Pa or someone someday.
So there I was acting all smug and histrionic about the whole thing, getting ready to make a right convincing to-do out of it. When I grabbed her little hand, it was obvious that there was more to this than met the eye. She had a grip that felt like a tow chain. On Shaw's count of three, we went at it. It didn't take more than, oh, ten or twelve seconds before my wrist was an inch off that bench top. At that point I realized the joke was on me. I could hear Shaw laughing his head off, so I gave it everything I had, twisted my shoulders crossways a bit and felt pain that, given another inch of twisting, would've sent me to the hospital. I'd been soundly beaten, nearly sent to the emergency room, and tot'ly embarrassed by a twenty-three year old woman with nothing but her right hand. If that didn't make matters bad enough, she went and suggested I take a break and lay down in my office for a while. Claire better be careful with that boy.
I heard the splash before even stepping out of the truck. The sun was preternatural, a discus of raw topaz in those moments conjuring the eyeless forces of dusk. There is purpose in that time; a segway ordained by love's volition and, too often, decomposed to pathos by the calculations of warfare. But right there on the reservoir's bank of frond and weeping willow, even as I reckoned that some of my old friends were off to war, twilight cast nothing but love.
Claire had already swam out a hundred strokes and was heading back. I'm all-too ignorant of the water, but I think she was doing the double-breast stroke or something. I could only see her shoulders and head, and the tips of her fingers as she kept disappearing back into the water. I'm always ashamed to say I can't swim.
"It isn't deep for about the first fifteen or twenty out," she said, smoothing her hair back with both hands, "so get undressed and come on." She didn't have to tell me. On that last syllable, she plunged, bearing her entire back to the setting sun. It was like when you actually see a meteorite instead of just catching it out of the corner of your eye. At first it was cat and mouse reversed. Every time I tread closer to her, she'd dart off a bit. The sky was intense, yet too refractive to let me see beneath the water's surface. She disappeared for what might as well been a dog's month to me. I kept spinning around in a subtle panic, calling her name in that hollerwhisper that folks do when they think they're being quiet enough. I felt her wake all around my legs. Then she sprang-up, kissed me full on the lips, giggled and headed back to shore. She was waiting there for me, slick and naked, and acting like we were the only two people who were allowed to be there, and I, the only man who could witness her. Claire's eyes held confidence that formed a pattern all over her body. She stood there completely relaxed and still bristling with sanguine power. I watched her arms spreading to embrace me as I left the reservoir behind. Her presence was angelic, perhaps the most unique and beautiful woman in this world to me. I'd never felt so anxious and satisfied in such a short stretch of time.
The thing is, she's just so damned strong. When we got down to what I thought would be sudden love-making, she held me off as long as she pleased. We stretched out there right on the embankment without a shred of cloth between us and Mother Earth. She was holding me in her arms, allowing me to explore every inch of her physique. Her legs are so much thicker and dynamic than I could tell through those daily coveralls. Claire may be a woman in a man's vocation, but she takes care like a woman. Her thighs are velvet smooth, divinely carved and almost devoid of fatty tissue. They responded to my touch reflexively, through layer upon layer of intricate muscular sway. She not only possessed muscles I had never felt before, she commanded each one of them to guide my hand. I felt my erection strain painfully against her balanced firmness, depending onto her ass and inner thighs the way a solo cellist straddles the board during a crescendo. My head lovingly found its way between her thighs. She spoke in soft dulcet, instructing me to pleasure her that instant. Just as cats don't refuse nip, I never refuse a woman's request for oral pleasure. My end of the bargain was to witness her writhing form slowly vanishing into the night; the armor of muscles flexing through her torso; her small breasts rising starward; the alertness forced up into her spiked nipples, and the way those arms of Claire's continued to engorge with blood and fiber with every lap of my tongue. Moonlight enswathed her golden body until all of those muscles, particularly those of her abdomen, appeared to harden with stark contrast. My head became her saddle. Then she stopped, reached underneath my arms, and effortlessly pulled me atop her. At first it felt like there was something more than natural inside her. As we held those biomechanical rhythms, she was doing something to my penis that no other vulva, not my hand, nor any device in the world could do. Claire's Daisy oscillates at any rate, shape or wavelength she's in a mood for. That's the honest-to-god truth.
I found out that Claire secretly enjoys her power. You'll rarely see her swagger it around. I guess she saved that for lucky me. When she chose to be on top of me, I discovered the deepest rewards of pain and pleasure for the first time in my life. My eyes must have resembled a barn owl's when I tried to believe what I was seeing, what I was feeling at the mercy of her strong hands. You could say I was in love with Claire the moment we met. You could then say that love became an obsession when she towered above me with the power and grace of a woman unhinged from the trammels of pedestrian womanhood. Languages have yet to invent an explanation to what I experienced at that suspended moment of merging climaxes.
I was always taught to lead, that's the way you dance. Every position we formed that night was her lead, her choreography, her whim, and her curtsy. I believe that there is no limit to her sexual endurance. She will make love the way drunkards drink: until sleep takes the night.