"Well, what do you think?" asked Moira.
The sitter snorted and dragged her sleeve across her nose. "Looks like you
picked it up in some alley." She sniffed and turned away. "Smells like it
Moira dropped the threadbare blanket back across the top of the laden
shopping cart and laughed with delight. "That's exactly where I did get it!
Found it under a pile of newspapers. It's freezing out there tonight. There
were lots of others, but this one. . . it was exactly what I had in mind.
"Perfeck! Shoot! You got the last one at the public library," the
sitter said. "That'n stunk too, but thisn's worst. You oughta put it back
where you got it. You got plenty already. Go on and put it back." She
turned and flapped her hand at the burdened shopping cart. "It ain't agonna
last. You won't get more'n two-three month out'n it. Get rid of it. Get you
a nice new one, last you a time. A nice lookin' one, like the one you got
at the park. Purty thing. Don't know what you want with this ole thing
"No m'am," said Moira, shaking her matted head. She grasped the
handle of the shopping cart and rocked it gently. It slipped out of her
weak grasp and rolled slowly across the room, coming to rest against the
wall. She plunked her vast buttocks down heavily on the sofa, toed off her
worn sneakers and put her gnarled feet up on the coffee table, wincing.
Shrugging out of her torn and crusted jacket, she hiked her ragged skirt up
over knotted, scabby knees, revealing thick legs veined heavily with
purple. "I don't want-" A spasm of coughing interrupted her. "-don't want
any more new ones. Boring. There's something about this kind. They've been
places, seen things, done all kinds of things. . ."
"'Deed they have," returned the sitter disapprovingly. "Nasty
places! Ugly things! Cain't tell where-all they been in their time." She
shuffled over to the cart, lifted the blanket and sniffed. "Shew! Been at
the liquor too. Ole wino!"
"Well, I'm keeping it." Moira said with a mutinous toss of her head. She
raked her straggling white hair back with stiff fingers and swung
her thick legs sideways to the floor with a sodden thump.
"Well, you got to keep it someplace I don't hafta be smellin' it," the
sitter said. "'N I don't want it in with the other'ns. You give it a good
scrubbin' first thing, you hear? I ain't agonna have it stinkin' up the
place. You keep it on the porch till you give it a good cleanin', hear?"
Moira chuckled, but the chuckle brought back the phlegmy, hollow
cough. The sitter scowled at her until Moira heaved herself up from the
sofa and leaned over the wastebasket, spitting heavily into it.
"There!" snapped the sitter. "Box o' tissues sitting right there,
and you got to spit in the trash can. What makes you do thataway? You'll be
spittin' on the floor, next thing. Bad comp'ny. . ."
Moira gestured her away and wiped her mouth on the back of her
hand. "Oh, hush up. I'm starving. Go get me some dinner." She shrugged, as
though her huge, pendulous breasts pained her sloping shoulders, scratched
her armpit, and dropped back onto the sofa. She cleared her throat noisily,
but coughed up more phlegm. She spit into a tissue.
Muttering under her breath, the sitter marched herself off toward
the kitchen. Moira's stomach growled. The sitter had been in the kitchen
cooking when Moira arrived with the shopping cart, and it smelled
wonderful-rich, delicious, and fresh-not like the stale, half-eaten
sandwiches and rotting fruit she had been dining on for the last several
Her nose told her that dinner was going to be moussaka. She limped
over to the walnut sideboard and took out a bottle of Remy Martin and a
snifter fragile as a soap bubble. Pouring generously, she cradled the
shifter, warming the brandy in her twisted, arthritic hands, and took it
back to the sofa. When she swung her dirty bare feet back up onto the
coffee table, she noticed, over the fragrance of the Remy Martin, that they
were riper than rotten fish, flabby, dead white, and wrinkled, and the
toenails were ragged and filthy. One of them, the left big toenail, looked
like it had been stubbed. It was cracked into the quick and although it had
clotted by now, it had been bleeding heavily into her sneaker. She probed
it, and noticed that it hurt. She was going to have to start paying more
attention to the feet.
She inhaled the warm fragrance of the brandy with acute pleasure,
and sipped a little.
The sitter poked her head through the kitchen door. "Ain't you
gonna git changed fer supper?" she chided. "I ain't havin' you in my
kitchen smellin' like that." She shook her head. "I ain't even dishin' up
till you git cleaned up." She scowled, pulled her head back into the
kitchen, and Moira heard her rattling pans and clashing china. "You hear
me?" she called through the door.
Moira swallowed the last of her brandy and got to her feet. "Oh
hush-I hear you! I'll be ready in a minute."
* * *
The sitter was gathering up the last of the dishes as Moira topped
up her glass of wine. "Now ain't that better'n what you been eatin'?" she
asked, grinning with self-congratulation. A great sitter, she was also a
great cook, and Moira considered herself lucky, even though the sitter
tended to get above herself and was more than insolent. But she was worth
it. You had to make allowances for her kind of talent.
Moira finished her wine and patted her lips with a buttercup yellow
napkin, her slender fingers white against the embroidered linen. Her pale
cheeks dimpled charmingly when she smiled. She patted her flat, smooth
stomach. "Delicious," she said. "Your usual standard-perfection."
"Well, then," growled the sitter, concealing a grin.
Moira set the wine glass down. "But I can't sit around digesting
it. David's taking me to the theater. he'll be here in about-" she
consulted the diamond watch on her wrist, "-half an hour."
"Half a hour?" The sitter threw up her hands. "Half a hour?" And
you never told? Ain't hardly even got time to git ready! You got somethin'
fit to wear? I swan! Half a hour!" She hoisted the empty casserole, grabbed
the wine glass, and bustled out to the kitchen. "You jist go on and git
changed. I got to get some vittles ready fer when you-all git back, then.
Mr. David, he likes his vittles."
Moira laid the napkin down and rose. Her pointed tongue darted out
to lick her lips, savoring the taste of the moussaka and the fresh
asparagus with Hollandaise she'd just enjoyed. She had eaten hugely, and
was perspiring a little. But she had been mightily hungry, having been on
such short and unappetizing rations.
She pushed her long dark hair back from her delicate face. It
really was too long, she thought as she glided toward her dressing room.
Possibly she'd have it cut. A feather cut would suite the pale,
heart-shaped face and huge, deep blue eyes. The sitter would probably
scold, but it was Moira's hair, after all. Moira's slender white fingers,
the nails so carefully tended and polished an opalescent pink. Moira's
delicate feet, high-arched, with tiny, pearly-nailed toes.
In her dressing room, she regarded her body in the full-length
mirror with satisfaction. Untying the sash of her white satin robe, she let
it fall open and felt a familiar thrill as she faced the mirror. Gazing
intently at her reflection, she raised her hands to the swell of the small,
firm breasts. The nipples hardened, and she caressed them with her
fingertips. But a glance at her watch told her she hardly had time left to
get ready for the theater and for David. She opened the doors of the closet
and considered her generous array of garments. But there was really not
much choice. Moira undressed, and began to change.
* * *
The sitter had gone to bed when they arrived home after the play.
David, usually so compliant, had uncharacteristically insisted on going on
to Pietro's from the theater. Moira merely laughed, and gave in gracefully.
He was usually so deferential that she was almost glad to see him show some
Moira was pleasantly weary and relaxed as she carried the tray from
the kitchen to the living room in strong, tanned hands. Tired, yes, but not
that tired. Late as it was, there was time to indulge David. David loved
these hands of hers, the solid waist, the crisp, short cap of auburn hair,
the firm golden hips with no tan lines, the wide scarlet mouth. He had
taken off his jacket, and he looked up smiling as she set down the tray,
reached for her and pulled her down to him. Ignoring the sitter's
late-night feast, he deftly moved to unfasten Moira's gown and bury his
face in her lush breasts.
He grasped her breasts, eyes as full of wonder as though he'd never
seen them before, and his mouth came down greedily to her nipples, urgent
teeth savaging them, making Moira cry out. There was no deference, no
hesitation in his lovemaking tonight. This seemed to be another David, she
thought, moaning as he stripped her quickly of her gown, leaving her in
garter belt and stockings, and pulled her roughly to the cushioned sofa.
Wasting no time on preliminaries, he rolled her over onto her stomach and
positioned her on her knees, open and defenseless. Definitely another
David, but Moira found that she loved the change.
* * *
The sitter peered cautiously around the edge of the door. She
shoved the living room door fully open and marched over to the uncurtained
window. The late-setting moon shone brightly in. The sitter jerked at the
curtain with one hand, holding her chenille bathrobe shut with the other.
She scowled. "I hope you ain't gonna lay there all night like
that," she said reprovingly. "You ain't got enough clothes on to wad a
shotgun." She shuffled over and picked up the rumpled gown. Clutching her
bathrobe close, she bent over again, puffing, and picked up the garter
belt, scowling at the ruined stockings. "Just look at them stockins! And
you ain't et a thing of all them cakes I fixed. Shameful waste, I call it.
Well, get up from there. time you was in bed."
There was a deep sigh from the sofa. Bare, taut skin gleamed
slickly in the moonlight. "I'm too tired to move. I'm sleeping out here."
"Out here?" shrilled the sitter. "You ain't sleepin out here on the
davenport with all them good beds in there! You ain't ever slep' out
"Oh, hush. And go on back to bed. Things change."
The springs of the sofa squeaked softly.
"Yes, m'am, they do that!" the sitter agreed, yawning, and went to
get David a blanket.
- Jane Gallion [4004 BC]