I was about as drunk as a person could be. I heard Frank singing in the background but I had no recollection of putting him on. I was sitting in my hot tub and shriveling up like a prune. I was in danger of sinking beneath the surface. You can just take that metaphorically if you wish. My soul was sinking along with my head. I dipped down into the tub and just had my nose and eyes above the water. Which would be why I didn’t hear the latch on the door behind me.
Rin dipped into the tub across from me. All I saw was smooth brown skin and fleeting black pubic hair dive below the skim of the water. I came up. This I didn’t need. If Amber walked in I was toast on a stick.
“You don’t mind, do you?” Rin asked.
Mind? On what planet would I mind? I wasn’t about to burst out in tears of rage. I wasn’t about to ask the good Lord why he was doing this to me either. I thought maybe I’d just enjoy the moment. Although I was good and snookered, part of me was enjoying the moment already.
She motioned for the bottle of Southern Comfort and I handed it over to her. She drained about a third of it without blinking an eye or catching a breath. I stared at her with wonder and admiration. Speech. I finally found speech.
“No, I don’t mind.” She offered the bottle back to me. I shook it off and she set it down on the table outside the tub. I stared at her and she back at me. I felt a set of toes inch up my leg. Naturally, in my impaired state, I wiggled my own first to make sure I wasn’t somehow becoming a contortionist. Now was the time for me to get up and run. Except it would be quite obvious that my betrayer would be happily jiggling in the wind and want to go in the opposite direction. I hadn’t a clue what was up here. Besides me.
Rin’s toes planted themselves on one side of my groin. My groin? What? Am I a sports announcer? Why do they say that in football games on TV? He has a groin pull. He has a groin injury. He got kicked in the balls. Somebody put a mean hurt on Mr. Happy. But, I digress. With one set of toes firmly planted on the Eastern side of my penis, the other set of toes, like Lewis and Clark and eight of their pals going up a perverted creek, were climbing the side of my other leg and found a home on the opposite side. Rin was staring into my eyes and I could do little but stare back. Well, let me correct myself. I certainly could do something. And a stronger person might have. A less drunk one. Maybe a more moral one. I could rationalize this. This was a set of toes. A pair of them. And hell, who’s to say they were forty-five-year-old toes or twenty-something toes? They were toes goddamn it! And all of a sudden they were moving up and down. I had no idea whether my toes were supposed to be returning the favor, but I kept them right where they were. And a good thing too. Although I was still staring right into Rin’s eyes, my ears were working perfectly. I heard the latch on the door this time. In what seemed like an eternity, I saw Rin smile at me as she furiously moved her toes up and down. I came with such intensity I buried my head beneath the water to keep from screaming. I came back up slowly and looked at my daughter disrobing, casting aside her clothes and flashing a bright pink bikini as she gently eased herself into the hot tub without a care in the world.
I felt my penis slowly deflate into a nub of dread.
“What’s up?” Amber asked. I looked at Rin and she smiled.
“Not a thing.” I said.
“Not now.” said Rin. Amber looked at Rin and then looked at me. I motioned for the Southern Comfort and started drinking.
“So, Rin,” Amber said, “tomorrow’s your fourteenth birthday, right?” I started choking on the Southern Comfort. I coughed and wheezed. Amber came over and started hammering me on the back. Rin was laughing so hysterically she started snorting.
“Plus a decade,” she said between bursts of glee.
Amber started rubbing my back after I had calmed down. She moved back over to her side of the hot tub. We sat in silence for several minutes.
“Time for me to get out,” Rin said. She got up, natural as can be, the water slipping off her smooth skin. She lifted one leg up and out and then the other one, grabbed a towel, and started patting herself dry. Amber watched as her new naked roommate trailed away and casually entered my bathroom. She then turned very slowly around to me. I believe if it were a symphony, this would have been described as a largo movement.
“It’s just another proud moment for your daughter,” Amber said. I started coughing and choking again. She just stared at me.
“It must have been something I ate,” I said, calming down once again.
“I certainly hope not.” She got out of the tub, grabbed a towel, and stared down at me.
“Tomorrow we’ve got work to do.”
“Okay.” She dried herself off.
“It’s a good thing I love you so much.”
“A good thing.”
“Oh no. A very good thing,” she said.
“Indeed. A very good thing.”
“Do I need to drain this thing?” she nodded down into the tub.
“I think these chemicals kill just about everything, don’t they?”
“We can only hope.” Amber turned and walked out the door.
I sat there and pondered why my life took these turns.
Rin came out of the bathroom, dressed, and looked over at me.
“I need you to do something for me,” she said.
“Anything,” I said.
“I want you to kill somebody for me.” She walked out the door.
. . .from the novel in progress. . .Permanent Declarations of a Temporary Love