If by Susan Buttenwieser
Ass got Sonny out of bed every morning. He thought about it all day long. And if he never laid eyes on the crack of Denise’s peeking out from the top of her jeans as she bent down to get some Spackle in Carr’s Hardware on a drizzling April morning, things might have turned out differently.
He was in there with his buddy Jackson, helping him out on a drywalling job.
“It’s kinda hard to find,” Denise said when they asked for the Spackle after a fruitless search. “We’re running low, but I’m pretty sure we still have some. Think it’s by the stripper.”
They followed behind her as she led them to the back of the store. When she searched around on the bottom shelf of the paint section, that’s when Sonny saw it.
The crack of Denise’s ass hinted at the possibility of tight, muscular moon-shaped cheeks, and smooth, soft skin.
Another customer asked her about compressors and the fact that she knew the answer sealed the deal. As they waited in line to pay, she talked easily about hose reels, hex wrenches, made paint stripper and pressure washer recommendations. On top of all that, was her ass.
“She was fine,” Sonny said when they drove back to the house on Edgemore Road where they were putting up drywall in the basement bathroom. “Denise?” Jackson considered this for a moment. “I could see that. She’s got a boyfriend. Lives with him and shit. So don’t get your hopes up.”
But that’s all Sonny had. Hopes. Nothing real. Nothing he could hold in his hands. Helping Jackson out on these little gigs was the best thing that had come along in a long time. It paid okay, plus it had the added benefit that Jackson didn’t care if he showed up late and hung-over.
Sonny kept finding reasons to go back to Carr’s Hardware over the next few weeks. Jackson was getting all the jobs that his uncle, a contractor with a successful, twenty-five year business, didn’t have time for. After the drywall job, they painted the outside of a house, then they re-plastered all the bedrooms on the second floor of a colonial on Sycamore Drive. Sonny started coming to work on time, and always volunteered to go on the supply runs.
“Hey, Denise,” he tried to sound casual, as if he hadn’t spent the whole way over rehearsing this speech about needing primer and brushes, maybe working in a couple of funny anecdotes from the job.
It seemed to be having some sort of effect, her face lighting up just a little when he walked in, stopping whatever she was doing to see what he needed.
April became May and Jackson’s uncle sat them down one day after work. They were putting everything away, folding up drop clothes, rinsing off the brushes, white paint crusted under their fingernails.
“I’ve got another re-plastering job up on Cedar Hill. Long-time clients. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and trust you guys to be alone in the house.” At this, he squinted his eyes at Sonny and gave him a hard look. “The family is out of town on vacation so we got to get it done before they get back.”
Sonny and Jackson needed to be at the house every morning by seven, he continued. Both of them. He’d be there to let them in and if they were even five minutes late, that was it. He knew plenty of guys who’d like this job. They were only working mornings and he was going to come back during his lunch break to check on their progress, lock the house up.
Jackson was hanging on every word. His future was depending on it. His uncle was letting him work a big construction job in the afternoons.
But Sonny was distracted. All he could think about was touching Denise’s ass. He imagined grabbing hold of it while she rode him. Somehow it seemed if he played it straight for these next two weeks, it would happen, like if you study hard for a test, it might be possible to get an A. And while being somewhere at seven in the morning was beyond his usual capabilities, it felt like it might somehow increase his chances with her.
“He told me he’s gonna hire me at the beginning of the summer. He’s gets a lot of work then. That is, if this goes well,” Jackson told him later at the Parkside Lounge, sucking on a lime after a tequila shot, washing it down with a beer chaser. Someone was playing the two Billy Squier songs on the jukebox.
Jackson moving onto a permanent employment meant the end of these jobs, this money and Sonny would have to figure something else out, all on his own. Something he wasn’t that good at, his mother liked to remind him.
He was still living at home with her, and mostly they avoided each other. She seemed tired of his presence and all the things that weren’t working out in his life. Tired of having a front row seat to it all. More than anything, he wanted enough money to get out of this town altogether.
Sonny wasn’t late even once to the Cedar Hill job and Jackson’s uncle was happy with it, so happy that he was thinking of giving them a bonus when they finished. The days were warm and long and Sonny felt something verging on okayness. The flirting with Denise was finally paying off and she agreed to go have a drink with him at the Parkside.
She didn’t have her hair up in a tight ponytail, the way it was at the hardware store. Instead, it swirled around her shoulders and she kept sweeping it back when she lifted her Jack and Coke or smoked a Marlboro Light. It was soft and brown and Sonny wanted it to fall all over him. They sat at one of those small tables by the window until it got late and the Parkside closed up. They weren’t ready for the night to end just yet. Pressing up against her in the back parking lot, fingers working their way inside her jeans, finally touching her ass, Sonny had the idea to break into the house up on Cedar Hill.
There was nowhere else they could go. He couldn’t bring her back to his mother’s, have her ride him in his childhood bed, with his mother, right there in the next room. And Denise’s boyfriend was in her place.
Besides, he knew the Cedar Hill house well, the bathroom window on the ground floor that didn’t lock, the spare key kept in the glove in the garage. No one would even know.
So he squeezed her ass while she rode him in the master bedroom and it was even better than he had fantasized about all these weeks. Afterwards, they both fell asleep. Sonny got up at one point to go piss in the en suite bathroom. When he came back, he looked at Denise lying there in the queen-sized bed for a long time, like a glimpse of the future. He could have woken her up right then and there, fucked her again before they both went back to their homes. Sonny, quietly unlocking the door, trying not to wake up his mother, like he was still in high school. Denise telling her boyfriend she’d met someone else. It could have gone down like that.
Instead, he crawled back into bed, wrapped his arms all the way around her warm body, her ass pressed up against him and fell back asleep.
They slept all through the night and into the next morning when the family returned home early because their youngest had a fever and the forecast was for rain. They slept through them seeing an unfamiliar car in the driveway, fearing a break in, and calling the police.
It wasn’t the last time Sonny and Denise were arrested.
Sonny never got the bonus, the drywalling and painting and re-plastering ended, as did his friendship with Jackson, who spent the next few months trying to win back his uncle’s trust. Denise lost her job at the hardware store. After she bailed him out, Sonny’s mother told him it was time for him to live on his own. At least he got Denise, he thought as they drove home.
What he hadn’t bargained for was that their drunken, late night dalliance in the master bedroom on Cedar Hill meant that he got her for life.
If he hadn’t seen the crack of Denise’s ass, if her pants were pulled up higher, if she’d worn a belt, Sonny wouldn’t have become a father.
© Susan Butten wieser 2013
Susan Buttenwieser's writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appeared in the Atticus Review, Bound Off, Failbetter and other publications. She teaches creative writing in New York City public schools and also with organizations for underserved populations including incarcerated women. She will be part of the 2013 Listen to Your Mother reading at Symphony Space on Mother's Day.
If was read by Alex C. Ferrill for the Age & Beauty Show on 3rd April 2013