Mardi Gras Gag Gift Party

by Victor Von Doum:

with illustrations by Mike Lee


Part one

Not exactly Anytown, USA

This tale could happen anywhere.

Actually, not really: it would require a confluence of neighborhood conviviality, thirty- and forty-something partygoers, a town where families stick around long enough to get to know each other — at least on a social level — with plenty of block parties, backyard cookouts, and frequent holiday-themed parties: occasions where the parents could hang out with each other and the kids could self-segregate too. It would also require the key ingredients of a rare weekend with a couple of spouses and kids OUT of town, and one seriously deprived MILF dressed as a voodoo witch at a Mardi Gras party—all on the same night.

I really don’t know Korey very well. Their family just recently moved into the neighborhood during the summer, a few months ago, but it appears that she’s made fast friends with some of the local neighborhood mom-friends of ours. Our kids now go to the same grammar school, but she and I have only really crossed paths in a friend-of-a-friend kind of way.

She hardly walks around unnoticed. About 5’8”, a natural blonde with a perfect bob haircut, an aerobics instructor’s body, killer emerald green eyes, and a Hollywood starlet’s face — the kind that’s taut, with high cheekbones without looking bony. Despite a smile that radiates and an infectious laugh, she would easily make all the other wives and mothers high-school-level jealous, if she weren’t so genuinely sweet and funny, from what I hear about her. In her mid-to-late 30s, she looks at least a decade younger. Plus, her ever-so-slight interdental lisp, like those of Ellen Pompeo and Emma Stone, Korey projects a disarming vulnerability.

So, in a friend-of-a-friend kind of way, my wife and I get invited to a neighbor’s Halloween party. Only a block and a half away, we walk there with the kids: no costumes, as the invitation says to come either way. When we get there, no adult is wearing one.

The usual pattern ensues. While the kids run off to play with their friends, my wife and I grab a few drinks and engage the usual light banter with the neighborhood moms and dads. An hour or so into it, we are all standing around in the maple-floored kitchen, drinking a few drinks and shooting the breeze with the friends and neighbors. Korey walks in with her decent guy but-kind-of-a-schmoe-of-a-husband, Kevin. (I’ve only seen before, never actually meeting him, and when I find out they’re a couple, it immediately reminds me of that string of TV sitcoms wherein the doofus husband has inexplicably married an off-the-charts gorgeous wife, like The King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, According To Jim, and George Lopez. It kind of cracks me up that it’s happening here in real life.)

So, doofus and hottie come to the party, but I don’t quite see them yet. Talking to my wife, I’ve turned my back away from the entrance to the kitchen. Even with the slight din of the ever-growing party, I suddenly hear the unmistakable sound: a slow and deliberate clop, clip, clop, and clip: wooden boot-heels and boot-tips, sauntering slowly across a hardwood floor. Instinctively, I turn and see Korey and Kevin walk in, he a few feet behind her. He’s dressed as a clown, with a rainbow wig and a red nose. She’s dressed as a witch for Halloween with black robe, cowl down about her shoulders, pointy witch’s hat on, and sporting black lipstick and nail polish. Under the bottom of her black witch’s robe, I catch the kitchen lights shining off of a pair of black leather boots.

“Hey,” I say to them. “Why don’t you two grab a beer? Don’t cost nuthin’,”channeling my best Bluto Blutarsky impression. Korey and Kevin approach.

“Thanks,” Korey replies, talking a few boot-on-maple steps forward and extending her hand to shake mine. “I don’t think we’ve met yet. I’m Korey O’Banion. This is my husband Kevin.”

“Nice to meet you both. I’m Charlie Szabo and this is my wife Sheila,” as I introduce the missus.

“We just moved in a few months ago,” Korey states, while Kevin starts filling up both of their cups.

“Liking it here?” I enquire. Kevin hands Korey a beer and immediately he turns to one of the dads to say hello. Sheila starts a conversation with someone before I soon see her head in the direction of the bathroom.

“Oh yeah,” Korey replies, “Lived in L.A. for a while, then moved into the city. Needed to get out of there and into the ‘burbs now that the kids are in school. Plus, we thought we could save a little dough what with the housing prices having fallen and all.”

“You guys do OK selling your place in the city, if I may ask?”

“Pretty much broke even: a miracle in this economy.”

“Good for you.”

“What about you two,” Korey asks, politely. “Have you lived here long?”

“Sheila and have lived her since just before we got married twelve years ago — but don’t tell anyone,” I joke. Korey chuckles. “And actually, I lived in the city for a while too, but moved back to buy a fixer-upper during my single days; sold it at a good time, as it turned out. When Sheila and I got married, we bought a different place. Been there ever since.”

“Hey, Kevin and I had our lucky thirteenth anniversary, so we got married around the same time, cool.”

I joke, “Isn’t the thirteenth anniversary the Leather Facemask anniversary?”

“Aren’t they all?” Korey replies, with arched eyebrows and a wry grin.

“Indeed,” I reply, a bit flustered I must admit. I wasn’t expecting such a devilish reply like this one from a woman with the face of an angel.

Meanwhile, Sheila returns from the bathroom and approaches us. “Hey, what are you guys talking about?”

“Bringing out The Gimp,” I reply flatly. Sheila gives me a slightly annoyed look.

“Yes, but isn’t The Gimp sleeping?” Korey interjects. We all laugh.

I quickly do the math on Korey and Kevin’s anniversary: not too terribly complex even with my advancing state of inebriation. Somewhere in her mid- to late-30s, their thirteenth anniversary means she got married between 22 and 25 or so: not exactly a teenage wedding by today’s standards, but certainly young-ISH for college grads in this new millennium.

Whatever, I think. So what if you yourself stayed a bachelor till your early 30s, like your namesake Charlie, Hugh Grant’s character in Four Weddings and A Funeral. You had your fair share of fun. I think back momentarily to my single / carefree / careless days, when more than a few different women somehow magically found their way to my various apartments with a decent degree of regularity.

I snap out of it a after a few seconds; Korey is moving her left boot-heel, leaning back on it against the maple floor, twisting it outward a bit. Even with the party noise, I swear I can hear the leather squeak ever so slightly, but who am I kidding. I see that the leather around her ankles definitely appears slouched, and with some visible wear on the side of the soles, I’m guessing she’s owned them for a few years. I do wonder whether Korey sees me notice them, but I doubt it; not when she’s talking to another party guest. Plus, I scratch my forehead’s hairline to give me a plausible excuse to look down briefly.

I look around for my wife and I see her returning with the kids in tow; now that it’s hit ten o’clock, they’ve already passed their bedtime, even on the weekends. With early activities tomorrow morning, we need to get them to sleep, so we bid our adieus to all those present, thank the hosts, and start the short walk home.

Months pass: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, the usual parties with family and friends, but none where we’ve seen Korey and Kevin. My wife mentions that she and Korey see each other pretty often at school doing the room-mom thing, even once on a field trip to one of the local museums. Uncharacteristically for a woman preternaturally disposed to envy other pretty women, Sheila actually speaks well of Korey and mentions how much Korey helps all the kids in class, between also taking courses at our local university, and serving as a graduate assistant there as well.

Sheila also tells me how Korey told her how Kevin had recently lost his job, throwing Korey’s plans to continue her graduate degree into doubt. What exact degree Korey is pursuing Sheila does not know: something in psychology, but no more details.


New Year’s rave-olutions

January, with its usual cold and dark days, so when we receive an unexpected invitation Mardi Gras party of our neighbors Henry and June — yes, they receive their share of Tropic of Cancer/Capricorn jokes — to take place the second weekend in February, we both think it a great idea: not only does this party theme rarely appear around our part of the country, but it would make a great way to break up the winter. We RSVP yes, enthusiastically. This party, however, is going to run explicitly adults-only with the name Fete du Mardi Gras Gag Gift, where each couple needs to dress in N’awlins style and bring a cheap joke gift for a grab bag exchange. Along with the free-flowing Hurricanes, Absinthe, and who knows what other crazy drinks, Mardi Gras beads and costumes, the party sure looks like it will end up a great one.

Unfortunately, a week before the Mardi Gras party, we both get some not-so-good news: Sheila hears that one of her sisters — who lives a few hours away — who’s throwing a big birthday party for one of her kids, that she has just hurt her back and needs some serious help pulling the party off. The next day, one of my colleagues quits work, leaving me to pick up the slack for a big project due the following Monday.

That whole week, Sheila is stressing out how she is going to help out her sister that weekend, with all her regular duties as mom. It bothers her that I’m coming home late every night and therefore not around to help the kids with their homework and getting them to bed. I explain about my additional workload, how it is going to look good on my review, and how the company is already looking for someone to fill my suddenly departed coworker’s shoes, but it doesn’t register. In a huff, she announces she’s going to take the kids with her to her sister’s house because she doesn’t think I can take care of them by myself for the weekend, especially with my new workload.

Her stressed-out state and misplaced resentment towards me means I don’t get any during the week; not the most unusual outcome for folks married as long as we have been, but not one that I sure had hoped for, given her upcoming absence this weekend. (What with weekends the only time we can ever seem to squeeze one in.)

I duck out of work to get home at the regular time on Friday, knowing I am looking at a few more hours of work ahead of me. I get home right as they leave for Sheila’s sister’s house, so I kiss the wife and kids goodbye as they all head out on their weekend adventures. My wife, not happy with my sudden work schedule, makes her unpleasantness known, despite my truthful admission about the project’s unexpected nature, as well as with its magnitude.

Staying up late on Friday, I look forward to a large vodka on the rocks and some Skin-A-Max as a poor replacement to getting some with the wife. Sadly, half way in to my drink and amid my softcore wanderings, I fall fast asleep. Luckily, I had placed the drink on the nightstand, or it would have found myself wearing it overnight.

I recommence the work on Saturday morning, armed with a fresh pot of coffee. For eight hours, I struggle to finish my work, impatient at its tediousness and finding it difficult to concentrate terribly well, what with the knowledge of Sheila’s inexplicable bitterness towards me and, of course, having had experienced no action for a few good weeks now. I pace myself with the expectation of the Mardi Gras party, set to begin at 8pm.

I hit the wall with my work by 7pm Saturday evening, knowing I am still looking to an additional good day’s work tomorrow. I look around frantically for a costume to wear and a gag gift to bring. I find a cheap top hat that I had bought to use on a snowman, a beat-up plain-looking serape over a dark green mock turtleneck, jeans, and a pair of beat-up old black shoes normally reserved for working around the house. Adding a cigar turns me into The Absinthe Drinker by Edouard Manet, but I pretty much realize that everyone will just figure I’m some New Orleans bum. After showering, I don’t bother shaving, figuring a stubble will merely add to the look.

I head out the door, a bourbon on rocks in a plastic to-go cup, and begin walking the short few blocks to the party, looking forward to a good opportunity to hang with some of the other dads, unencumbered by any familial duties. Remembering I’ve forgotten my gag gift, I realize I don’t have any hand buzzers or whoopee cushions on hand, so I go back inside and up to my bedroom, reach into my T-shirt drawer, and take out a few random bandannas as a “gag” gift, tying them together in a knot. Back in the kitchen, I grab a lunch bag, write “Gag Gift” on it, and put the bandannas into it before stapling it shut at the top.

Walking back out the door, I feel the unseasonably warm weather for early February. The little snow that had fallen in January has already melted, and the sidewalks and all the lawns are dry. I sip my bourbon on the rocks as I walk, warm and comfortable in my layered 19th century drunkard’s outfit.


Laissez Les Bons Temps d’Absinthe Rouler

As I enter the party, I find myself one of the first arrivals. The party-throwers Henry and June are decked out in N’awlins-style splendor, with the Henry in a riverboat gambler’s outfit and June, a Mardi Gras parade-goer, in a red and black can-can outfit with large feather mask and headdress. Pursuant to the French theme, they are wearing nametags that say “Henri” and “Juin,” respectively. Good friends of mine and Sheila’s, I thank Henri for his hospitality with a firm handshake/man-hug, and Juin with a more tender version of both, getting a peck on the cheek and a whiff of her expensive perfume in return. Good trade, I’d say.

“So, what are you, a N’awlins Skid Rue bum?” June inquires.

I chuckle. “Could be.”

I hand June my brown lunch bag with “Gag Gift” written on it, and make my nametag as “Charles-Jacques,” to add in the French equivalent of my middle name, James. As June turns to place it in the covered basket, Henry turns to me with a, “So, ARE you a Bourbon Street bum?”

“You mean, in real life?”

“Sure, that too.”

“Well, I’m drinking bourbon and I’ll soon be bumming your food and drinks, so I guess the answer is ‘yes to both.’”

He snickers as I finish the last of my bourbon, setting it down. We proceed to the dining room table, upon which sits an absinthe fountain along with several choices of the green licorice-y beverage on it. He instructs me how measure out some of the high-proof liquor into the glass, to place a spoon — more like a perforated trowel — straddling the glass’ rim, put a sugar cube on top of the trowel, the let the water flow over the sugar and into the glass with the absinthe. The clear blue-green liquid turns a milky green-yellow, an interesting change. He makes one for himself and we both take our trowels and put them back in their glass-holder.

“A votre santé,” he toasts.

“I’ll drink to that,” I reply, as I begin sipping the absinthe concoction, finding it tasty and somewhat refreshing, wondering whether all its mind-altering properties will prove true.

“Remember, however, the words of Oscar Wilde about the Green Fairy, ‘After one glass, you see things as they are not. After two, you see things as you wish they were. After three, you see things as they are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”

“Duly noted. Guess I’d better stop at two,” I state.

As I sip this first absinthe, I hear the doorbell ring, see the front door open, and see our fair hostess walk over to greet the newest guest. Walking in I see a black robe, cowl down about her shoulders, silk multicolored headscarf on, with a familiar face sporting lots of rouge and deep glossy fire engine red lipstick. Under the bottom of her black witch’s robe, I catch the kitchen lights shining off what looks to be a pair of leather boots. With those fire engine fingernails, she hands her gag gift to the hostess, greeting her with a bise (kiss off the cheek). As our hostess places the small package in the covered basket, our new guest begins to walk towards me, now all alone as our host had just headed toward the facilities before the doorbell had rung.

“Well, hello Charlie,” Korey says, as she approaches. I see her pick up her name tag and marker.

“Hello yourself, Korey,” as I subtly adjust my top hat, to allow me to point my head down and catch a glimpse of Korey’s boots. They look different from the ones at the Halloween party, but with the dim illumination from the pretend gaslights, I can’t quite tell. I also don’t see Kevin anywhere.

“Hey, Frère Charles-Jacques,” noticing my name tag, “do you know French?”

“A little.”

“Do you know what French is for Korey?”

“Hmmm, tough one. Why don’t you make one up, like…‘Corée?’”

“Sounds good. What does it mean?”


“Ah, ok. I’m not exactly Korean,” jokes the tall gorgeous blonde. “What’s Korea really known for, anyway?”

“Well, kimchi…”

“Of course, stinky: just like me!” she rolls her eyes sarcastically, joking. “God, I love gamey.”

I chuckle at her retort, then add, “And barbeque…”

“Tasty juicy meats, good...”

“And PSY, of course.”

“PSY, right! Oppa IS Gangnam Style, after all, and it fits perfectly. ’Corée’ it is, then. How do you spell it?” I tell her and she writes the name in black marker on the peel-off name tag, before applying it to her black robes just above her left breast, which of course I watch her do.

Thinking she may have noticed me checking her out, I manage a quick, “So where’s Kevin? Is he on his way?”

“Um, no,” Korey replies, curtly. “Kevin’s on a bachelor party weekend for one of his buddy’s second marriage.”

“Doesn’t sound much like a bachelor, technically.”

“Exactly,” comes the obviously irked reply.

“Where are your kids? Get a sitter for ‘em?”

“Nah, Kevin took them and dropped them at his parents’ house, on the way to his ‘Guys’ Weekend.’ I had actually been planning on taking them with me to MY parents’ house, but I got called in to sub for a couple of aerobics classes where the teachers had come down with the flu. Couldn’t quite say no to the big boss, especially being the low chick on the aerobics instructors’ totem pole. And with Kevin out of work now…” her voice trails off. “So now he’s supposed to come home around 10AM tomorrow, then we’re planning on going and picking them up together from his parents’ house.”

I think about how Kevin probably shouldn’t be heading out on a guy’s weekend considering how he isn’t exactly providing an income stream, which I guess has also crossed Korey’s mind, adding to her irritation.

With my eyes better adjusted to the light, I finally make out Korey’s boots as she steps forward to the table, and her witch’s black robe parts: they’re definitely showing a brownish hue, and I don’t attribute the color changes to my one bourbon and few sips of absinthe. With so much boot showing, either she’s wearing a shortish skirt behind them or she’s tucked her pant legs into them. I hear her make several distinctive clomps with her boot heels as she walks across the wooden dining room floor.

“So, Mr Absinthe Drinker,” Korey addresses me, much to my surprise of her recognizing my outfit, “What does a girl have to do around here to get some?”

“Impressive, Corée,” comes my reply, and discounting her potential double-entendre as unintentional. “First, how did you recognize my costume?”

“Art History major in college, with a double major in Psych.”

“Impressive. Now I see the connection to PSY as well,” I mention. Korey nods, putting her wrists one over the other like the singer and the dancers do in the Gangnam Style video.

I crack a half-smile and grab one of the bottles of absinthe, pour some in her glass, and explain to her the water-over-sugar cube procedure, pouring a complete one for her. I hand it to her when the water has dissolved the sugar. She takes it and drinks.

“Hmmm, tasty,” pronounces Korey. “Thanks.”

She strikes me as the rarest of breeds, an off-the-charts ‘10’ with a brilliant wit and engaging personality. I instantly wonder whether her supermodel-level of beauty paradoxically turned her potential suitors away, with their figuring that he already had to be taken and even if she weren’t, she wouldn’t waste her time on them. Plus such beauty intimidates young men, turning them into stammering fools — and some older ones too, for that matter. I’d only previously come across one instance of it ever in my life, with a knockout at college: a breathtakingly beautiful woman, who also could hang with the guys, and who was genuinely sweet and funny. Makes me think it could be happening here.

“So, are you Miss Cleo or a Mardi Gras witch now?” I break off my thought and joke, noticing her outfit looks a lot like her one from the Halloween party. Korey replies, “Well, more of the latter in a manner of speaking: voodoo priestess.”

“Of COURSE! Silly me,” comes my reply. “Glad you’re doing your part for the environment and recycling –slash–repurposing costumes.”

“Absolutely. Impressed you remember the outfit from Halloween, Charlie. It was pretty easy to make this one since I had all the accessories around, like the silk scarves to make this voodoo fortune teller’s headscarf,” as she flicks the end of it that is resting on top of her cowl. “I did add one item, however.”

“What’s that?” I inquire.

“These boots,” as she pulls aside her witch’s robe to reveal a pair of faded jeans tucked into milk chocolate brown leather knee-high boots: 2-1/2” stacked wooden heel and somewhat cowgirl-looking with their snip-toes. When she lifts up her right leg and sets it on the seating bench to show the boots’ full length, I notice the denim-scrunching at the boot-tops disappear.

“Figured if Kevin can go on his man-weekend, then I can have a little fun and reward myself by finally cashing in some Christmas gift cards, ya know?”

“Very nice,” I tell her, my voice quivering ever so slightly due to the gulp in my throat over the boots’ sheer lusciousness. I swear I can even smell that distinctive new leather smell. No way that she noticed me noticing the boots, I reckon, however.

At this point, guests begin to arrive fairly steadily. Korey sees one of her good friends, takes her booted leg off the bench, and starts to excuse herself when she stops and doubles back to me.

“Oh, hey, before I forget, I met an old friend of yours: Tina Reggio,” Korey mentions to me in passing as she heads over to greet her friend.

“Tina, hmmm,” I think. She and I went to high school together, but didn’t hook up till college with a one-off random fuck session, and then reprised that same situation a few years later when we were both a year or two out. Still, both of these hook-ups took place twenty-odd years ago—well before I ever even met Sheila. Plus, I hadn’t seen Tina in ages. Last I’d heard, she was married with a couple of kids and living a few towns over.

As I see one of my friends enter, I go to greet him. Korey passes back by me and grabs me by the arm gently. Pulling up to my ear, she tells me, “Got something I need to talk to you about when you have a minute. Don’t let me forget.”

“Uhhh, OK,” I respond, getting a whiff of her great-smelling perfume and more than a bit confused over what the “something” could be.

No way she’s hitting on me. I mean, hell, we know almost everybody here. Sheila told me how sweet she was, so it’s just got to be her being nice.

Or something.


Fin de Fête

The clock is nearing 10:00—the gag gift grab bag time. For the past few hours, I’ve been pacing myself with a few Hurricane drinks so as to prevent any hangover tomorrow, what with my looking at a full day of project-work. Of course, I’ve also been checking out the local MILF crowd, with several of them sporting cowgirl outfits in some kind of vague attempt to look Southern—not that I’m complaining. One is wearing a petticoat-type dress as a saloon gal and a black pair of lace-up boots. Still, with the clock a-turnin’, I figure I’ll find Henry and June, thank them, make the few-block walk home, turn on some Skin-A-Max, and tonight, hopefully not crash before catching anything good on the TV.

As I walk past the side door, I swear I detect a whiff of pot smoke from somewhere. Korey walks in from the outside, a few locks of her blond pageboy hair showing more out from under her voodoo priestess headscarf. Seeing me apparently looking like I’m leaving, she grabs my arm in the same way as before, when she stopped me to tell me that she had something to tell me when I had a minute.

“Wait, you’re not leaving, are you?”

“Well, yeah,” I admit. “Got a bunch of crap work to crank out tomorrow.”

“You were SUPPOSED to remind me to tell you something,” Korey adds, with mock indignation. “Could you step outside a sec?”

“Sure, I guess,” comes my reply, a bit confused.

“And let’s grab an absinthe for the road.”


“Yeah, I need you to walk me home,” she mentions, somewhat sheepishly. “THAT’S what I was going to ask you. We’re only about two blocks from your house and with those reported cases of near-abductions over the past couple weeks, I’d feel a whole lot safer if you could.”

“Oh, sure, no problema, Korey.” I’m in no real hurry, and when she tells me her address, I recognize it as less than two blocks from our house, and right on the way home for me.

“Cool,” she replies. “Meanwhile, Charles-Jacques, you wanna get high?”

I must admit this question surprises me. I haven’t smoke pot in ages, never having been a big pot smoker to begin with. I see some of the other local dads on the outside bricked-fenced patio, passing around a joint, waving me towards them.

“Sure,” comes my response, my will obviously Humpty-Dumpty cracking. “Why not?”

Korey cracks a slight smile as we head outside. She sees the other dads and walks over in their direction before jumping and pulling herself up onto the four-foot-high, eighteen-inch-wide brick fence. As she sits down, her black witch’s robe parts to show off her boots again. The yard’s floodlights catch them just right to shine off of them, revealing a dark, rich, milk chocolaty leather color. I noticed it, of course, but stand with the other dads, as they pass the joint up to Korey seated on the fence, who then passes it down to me, within arm’s length of course. I approach her as she extends her arm, and I notice a black satin sleeve beneath the black of her costumed arm. She crosses her ankles and rubs them together, which make a slight squeaking sound. I feel my breath quicken as I reach for the joint.

“Thanks,” I tell her. She winks in acknowledgment, still holding in the smoke, exhaling it upward about ten seconds later. The windless night means the trail moves directly and very slowly, up. I take a small hit to test it, then a medium drag once I ascertain its quality. From my limited and now-long ago experience, I remember that no burn in the throat means good and effective. It sure tastes great, but I refrain from any more hits for the moment. I hold it for a few more seconds and then let it go, where it travels upward in the same slow but deliberate pattern as Korey’s just had.

“Could you help me get off?” comes the request from Korey. I start to crack a grin at yet another unintended double-entendre, but quickly stifle it lest I come across as too pervy. (For a good female friend, I’d absolutely make this expression, but with Korey, I don’t feel exactly comfortable.) I quickly look to see whether the other dads caught it, but they haven’t broken their sports-laden conversation, so evidently not.

Korey and I head inside, the smell of pot doubtlessly trailing us, as we head toward the dining room table to make another absinthe: the one for the road. We grab a couple of plastic cups: I pour Korey one, then one for me, reciting the latter two parts of the Oscar Wilde quite that Henry had told me, “after two, you see things as you wish they were; after three, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”

Korey turns to me. “This one’s my second.”

“Hey, mine too.”

At that moment, June strolls over with the covered basket of gag-gifts for the 10pm grab bag choose. “Ladies first,” I offer Korey. She nods her head in appreciation, reaches in to the basket and pulls out a familiar-looking brown bag, marked, “Gag gift.” With my eyes widening at the coincidence, the fire-engine red nails of Korey’s index fingers and thumbs gently pull apart the staple at the top of the bag and open it. She reaches inside to pull out the two random bandannas that I had put inside: a cream-colored patterned one and a red patterned one.

“Cool, I can use these,” Korey announces. My eyebrows furrow, but I’m guessing she must wear them as a headband in her aerobics classes: shades of Jamie Lee Curtis in the movie Perfect for a retro-‘80s style.

I reach in and pick out a small, oddly shaped wrapped package. Pulling it out, I unwrap it and see a hard plastic shell covering a red ball gag with black straps. I chuckle.

“Hey, now you can REALLY bring out The Gimp,” giggles Korey, referring to our Halloween party conversation. I smirk in acknowledgement, lift up a corner of my serape/cloak, tuck a corner of the ball gag’s plastic case into the left front pocket of my jeans where it appears to stay put.

“I honestly didn’t know our neighbors were such pervs,” states June, a hint of annoyance in her voice. “I honestly meant ‘joke gifts,’ not ‘S&M gifts,’ when I asked for ‘GAG gifts.’”

“Oh well,” I reply. “Who knew, right?” I see Korey with an ever-so-slight shit-eating grin. My eyes shift a bit in wonder.

“Merci beaucoup, Juin,” I tell our hostess. “This one needs a walk home,” as I point my thumb in Korey’s direction.

Henry is walking by. He asks, “Hey, you taking off?” he asks both of us.

“Charles has graciously offered to walk me home,” Korey declares.

“That’s me, the Noble Steed,” I joke.

Henry says I should come back by after I make the twenty-minute round-trip walk, but I politely decline, explaining how I have to get up early and finish the project-work before Monday. I figure I’ll need as much time as I can possibly amass, considering my lack of concentration lately.

Korey finishes her thank-yous and we both walk out the door, each of us holding out gag gifts. I notice the pot—or is it the second absinthe?—starting to kick in. Korey’s boots make major clomping sounds on the front porch. The halos on the street lights appear bigger and brighter than I remember. We walk down the stairs, onto the sidewalk, and in the direction of our houses.


Truth and Dare

“So,” Korey starts. “We were talking about Tina a while ago.”

“Oh, yeah. How is she?” I remember both times that Tina and I slept together, how she and I got on the subject of kinky sex beforehand: for the first time, I somehow ended up duct taping her wrists together for her to grab my dick between her palms, first for a double-hand job then to guide me in. She then moved her hands above her head and, since we were on the floor, she grabbed and held on to the leg of the sofa while we went at it.

The second time, however, a few years later in the bedroom of my small apartment, I used rope to tie her hands behind her back and cleave-gagged her with a bandanna. I remember she escaped from the second trap pretty quickly, telling me she knew how to, which impressed me at the time. Also impressive: that she’d worn her milk chocolate brown cowgirl boots that I’d requested her to when I’d called her to ask her out.

Heated up as she was, she ended up blowing me blindfolded, then guided me inside her holiest of wholies, then, after I’d shot, she sucked me again to get me going before telling me to tie her wrists behind her back and cleave-gag her with a rolled-up pillowcase—telling me to make them both tighter this time—before we went at it once again that night with her flat on her back, wrists tied under her, and screaming with pleasure into the thick gag.

In the morning, she came back from the shower in my white terry cloth bathrobe, long dark Italian wavy hair still wet and lady parts all fresh. She put back on the cowgirl boots she’d worn the night before and woke me up by nudging the toe of her now-room-temperature boots softly up against my sac and shaft, their relative chill producing an absolute smoking feeling against that sensitive area. With the cool leather and her seemingly expert stroking-technique, she got me rock-hard in about three seconds. She kept her boots massaging my manhood, and with a catlike arch of her back, then moved her more-than-ample boobs into my face for me to work on them. After a few minutes of this prelim activity, she flipped around and we 69’d for a while, her knees by my ears and her boots in the air hitting the headboard. Then we went at it a few more times. I remember complimenting her on her boots, and her use of them, afterwards.

Why I didn’t marry her I have no idea.


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