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Relative Matters

by Gary Clifton

“Oh, excuse me, ma’am.” A man brushed past Marisol into the lobby.

She nodded without speaking and stepped into the elevator. The faint odor of his cologne lingered, and she watched his interesting backside disappear beyond closing doors. She was surprised that the smell was intriguingly male, but instant revulsion intervened.

She’d sworn off men since her nasty experience with Ralph. She went to her apartment and mixed a margarita. While she changed into her tennis garb, the persistent sense of Elevator Man was both tantalizing and painful. Dammit, girl, purge yourself of frivolous notions.

The bathroom mirror assured her that she was still trim and shapely at 32. With her blonde, shoulder-length hair and small, upturned nose, she remained an attractive, but frustratingly celibate package.

The tennis courts were mostly vacant on a warm Friday afternoon. She’d snatch a light workout by hitting a few off the backboard, then pop back upstairs for another margarita or three. Time spent alone and too many margaritas had become a familiar habit since Ralph.

“Well, hello again,” the deep, masculine voice from behind startled her. It was Elevator Man. Her defense mechanisms assumed full alert. Good grief, she could detect a faint whiff of that cologne, even in the open.

“Er... hello,” she replied lamely, disgusted that her voice had morphed into the need to clear her throat. “Hello,” she repeated.

He was big, with close-cropped, sandy hair and penetrating blue eyes. She recognized his tennis shirt as an expensive item sold in the nearby pro shop.

He smiled. The effect was electric. “I thought I recognized you at the elevator. Saw you out here the other day banging away at the board. You wouldn’t think it would be so tricky to find a friendly opponent at an apartment complex built around a tennis motif. I don’t suppose you’d be interested in hitting with me for a bit?”

Marisol reluctantly agreed. In one minute, she realized he was a far superior player, skillful enough to send easily playable softballs over the net. In thirty minutes, she had fallen into a comfortable rhythm.

In an hour, they were in her apartment working on margaritas. Somewhere around drink number three, they were locked in raw passion on the den floor. She experienced a thrill beyond any she had ever experienced or imagined.

Both lay sprawled on the den floor. Marisol was exhausted and bathed in perspiration. Suddenly embarrassed at her brazen foray, she blurted, “Er, my name is Marisol... Marisol Shelton.”

He chuckled and raised himself on an elbow. “Chad Morgan. I live on the fifth floor. I’m a sales rep for a computer firm in Philadelphia. I know where you live. What do you do for sustenance and margarita money?”

She was surprised that the comment caused her to laugh. Her anti-man posture slid slightly sideways. “I’m a surgical nurse at St. Elizabeth’s, just down the street. And, Chad, I can’t begin to tell you how embarrassed... I mean, a quickie on the floor is not my normal behavior.”

He rolled closer. “Quickie? Marisol, I’ve just engaged in one of the — if not the most — rewarding experiences of my life. No quickie to me.” He reached up and found a half-consumed margarita on an end table. He offered it to her. She took a long pull and handed it back, watching his throat ripple as he swallowed the last driblets.

“Now, Marisol, revitalized by a sip of golden elixir, I can’t find words to describe how irresistible you are, lying face up on your carpet. Love your outfit.” He slid a hand down her bare inner thigh “Are you expecting any guests or other interruptions?”


In a second, they were again rolling on the floor like ecstatic snakes.

Chad was a nightly guest for the next two weeks. In a month, he had moved much of his clothing and personal gear into Marisol’s apartment, his computer atop her kitchen table. She realized that she was hopelessly in love, unable to conjure up even a passing thought of the Ralphs of her previous life. She thought of her past as “pre-Chad” although she never shared the thought with him.

That both were from the same county back in Ohio made for frequent, “did you know” comments. They found no acquaintances in common.

Weeks breezed by. They played tennis regularly, Chad continuously tapping her easy balls she could have returned with a ping pong paddle. They dined regularly at various cozy cafes along the avenue, interrupted regularly by intimate candlelight dinners in her apartment. Evenings always culminated in a return performance on her den carpet. When she showed him the rug burns on her knees, he apologized but made no suggestion for change of playing field. Neither did she.

Chad’s job required occasional travel, but usually he worked from home. When he did travel, he’d often manage to include her in the trips. More exotic dinners in faraway places followed.

One night, after a marathon session on her carpet, Chad asked in his sexy, boyish way, why they’d never discussed marriage. Marisol was nearly overcome with blissful elation. What, a few months before she’d never thought possible, had just exploded into a miracle. The date could be worked out later.

Then, one evening, Chad came home from work, to find Marisol clicking away at her computer, perched next to his on the table. “Whatcha doin?” he whispered, leaning down to kiss her neck.

“Oh, subject came up at the hospital. I was just looking at one of these ancestor tracing sites.”

“I hear those are phoney.”

“Maybe so, but my boss swears by the system. Just lookin’.” She punched more keys. Suddenly she stopped, craning her head around, eyes wide. “Good God, Chad, we’re second cousins!”

Chad gasped, “Oh-oh, no more sex?”

“Whoa, dude, let’s not get too carried away. You’re right. Probably phoney second cousins. What poppycock.” She deleted the site from her browser history.

He smiled. “Are we expecting any guests?”

Copyright © 2021 by Gary Clifton

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