Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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 Chapter 37


     They were standing in front of the deli when Tim laid some of his and Meredith’s new ideas on Enoch.  Enoch squatted wordlessly on the pavement, lay back on it, raised his knees, put his arms around them, and began saying, “Tim, Tim, Tim…”

At length, he stood up and started laughing. He then said, “Tim, the idea of trading Diana for one of your contraptions isn’t really uppermost in my thoughts just now.”

“Well, no. No one would do that. But Meredith doesn’t have anyone, and she knows that I like carpentry.”

“Are you going to incorporate voice?”

“No. We couldn’t do it in a sophisticated way. The Barbie doll people do that in a simplistic way, but silence is better than the things Barbie dolls say.”

“Very likely. The recitation of mathematical formulae might turn some people on.”

“Not a bad idea! It would remove the whole enterprise from the realm of pornography.”

“Diana’s still making her porno movie, so she’s the resident expert in that area. We’ll have to ask her about it.”

     Diana turned up for her morning huevos revueltos at the deli shortly afterwards, and her reaction wasn’t as extreme as that of Enoch. She kept her feet, and, while her blue eyes widened a little, she reacted, “I wish I could make my movie with Tim’s creatures, and not have to deal with some of these awful porno actors.”

It turned out that some of these men took their sexual powers very seriously. They also expected other people, particularly women, to worship at their feet prior to engaging in perverse acts. Tim suggested, “If you did some shots at a costume party, people would assume that the bear’s head is just a mask.”

Diana didn’t actually commit herself, and Tim suspected that she had doubts about the verisimilitude of the figures he would produce. However, this wasn’t the first time that there had been skeptics about his carpentry projects!

     The project itself proceeded apace. Strips were cut from the coats, and were wound around the wood in various ways to simulate tapered limbs. Tim and Sharon then combed the marina for discarded cushions, life vests, and kayak paraphernalia for the more substantial padding needed for the torso. As Tim said, “As with any sort of simulation, either computer or hardware, it’s better to get something approximating reality up and running. The improvements can then come bit by bit.”

Sharon seemed a little doubtful, and remarked, “So far, it does look rather like something that might have been dragged out of a bad airplane wreck.”

“A lot of that is because of the headless aspect. That’s kind of off-putting.”

Sharon was put in charge of finding a head, and she drove off in Enoch’s van. She eventually returned with a nice stuffed bear from a resale shop in a wealthy part of town. It seemed a pity to dismember it, but Tim found that he could effect a fairly seamless joint with the material he had formed around the shoulders. A two-by-two went up inside the head to hold it steady, but allow for some rotation.

     They put in some rudimentary female sexual features, and once Sharon had hand-sewn the ‘skin’ in place, they put their figure in a Salvation Army dress.  

      When Meredith saw the result, she applauded. She then exclaimed, “It also makes a social and political statement. Apart from my uses, it belongs in an art gallery in some bohemian district.”

That was the last thing that would have occurred to Tim, but he now realized that there was no reason not to combine art, sex, and politics. When he asked Meredith what statement the piece made, she replied, “There are many possibilities: Women would be better homemakers if they were more like bears; Women already are bears; The artist would be happier with a woman who only grunted and growled; This is what women will be like after another few millennia of evolution; and so on.”

Tim replied, “From the reactions I’ve gotten so far, there seems to be something for everyone in this little project.”

“I wonder what Chris will think.”

     That evening, Tim got a phone call from Melissa. She was almost euphoric, and announced that she and her husband had had a massive reconciliation. “Herbert is going to spend more time with me and the children, and he’s taking us all to Disneyland next week!”

She went on to explain that, under the new circumstances, she couldn’t continue as before. She hoped he wouldn’t be too upset. Tim suggested, tactfully, that he would feel pain, but that he would be able to hold it within manageable limits. Melissa then said, “You know, Tim, you could call Janet.”

“Yeah, I guess she might be receptive.”

“She finds you very attractive, and you think she’s attractive, don’t you.”

“Yes. She is.”

“All you have to do is call.”

Not mentioning that Janet had already called him, Tim said that he would give it thought.

     As it happened, Tim had taken the call on deck without realizing that Sharon, Meredith, and Doris were in hearing distance, at least of his side of the conversation. It hadn’t taken them long to imagine the other half, Doris now said, “This woman you were talking about must be the one who came here with Melissa yesterday when you and Sharon weren’t here.”

“That probably was Janet.”

“She’s very attractive, and she does look like an older and less athletic version of Sharon. She was also beautifully dressed.”

Meredith asked, “Wouldn’t you like to undress a beautifully dressed woman, Tim?”

When Tim mumbled, she continued, “There’d be all sorts of zippers to unzip, catches to unhook, and layers of lovely lacy underwear.”

Doris then said,  “You might get ideas from her which would help you in the further development of your hybrid woman.”

A little surprised that Doris knew about this enterprise, it immediately occurred to Tim that the ladies kept few, if any, secrets from one another.

     As the teasing went on, Tim realized that he would have to fairly quickly decide whether or not to call Janet. For the moment, he temporized.

     The next day, rowing with Enoch, Tim admitted that he wasn’t sure how to proceed. Enoch replied, “Up to a certain point, it’s fun to have a new woman every week or so, but it has to be in a context where they don’t cling. Professional sports are good for that. The women want your autograph, so to speak, which means bragging rights. But, then, they expect you to be off with some other woman.”

“I’m not sure exactly what Melissa expected. Anyhow, there’s been this reconciliation with her husband.”

“You were kind of lucky there. A plain woman can be poisonous.”

“Janet’s a good deal prettier, and, according to Melissa, she gets alimony from a rich ex-husband that she’d lose if she married.”

“Well, now. A man might think twice before turning her away.”

Tim did think twice, and called Janet when he got back. He was invited for dinner that very evening, and Janet, knowing that he couldn’t drive, arranged to pick him up.

     As Tim settled into the Mercedes, he realized that he had never previously experienced true luxury. His parents had belonged to the ‘barely rich’ category, but had lots of expenses. Neither the big ramshackle house nor anything else had been truly comfortable.

     Janet drove up a winding road to a private enclave on top of the Mission Hills, and into a garage with an automatic door. After helping him out of the car, she took him up in a little elevator with the words, “If we get stuck in it, there’s an alarm bell to the security service. But it might take a while.”

She gave him a tight, rather provocative, smile, as if daring him to be a cowardy custard. In the event, the elevator worked and let them out into a bright airy room with a view of most of San Diego Bay, North Island, and the big blue Pacific. Tim had been told that, no matter how spectacular the view from one’s house, one hardly noticed it after a few months. He really did wonder in this case.

     Janet’s young maid, Marta, brought out exotic drinks and appetizers.  Janet and Marta conversed in a combination of Spanish and English in a friendly way, and, after she had gone back to the kitchen, Janet remarked, “Some people stand on formality with their help, but that seems rather pretentious to me. Marta may well be smarter than I.”

Tim had never heard such an opinion put forth by an employer, and it was a welcome diversion from the intellectual posture of most of the people he had known at Harvard. Quite apart from that, he found the whole atmosphere to be extraordinarily relaxing. Janet looked at him, and said,  “You can see why I don’t bring every bozo here.”

“Yes. There are guys who’d bed down on the couch and never leave without police escort.”

“Exactly. I have to stick to people with independent resources, and even they sometimes have a certain aura of sleaze.”

“Even for me, this is quite a change. We’ve been living more or less dormitory style on a boat.”

“That’s natural for you. You’re just out of a dorm. The next step is often a little rented room with packing cases for tables and a door placed horizontally on piles of bricks for a bed.”

“My former roommate has a place just about like that in Cambridge.”

“I bet he’s happy.”

”It helps that he has a beautiful and charming girl friend.”

“Did you wish that she was your girl friend?”

“Howie is himself very attractive, and I don’t think there was ever any question of either of them straying.”

“So you’re here. Good. Marta will have dinner going soon. I’ve already been informed of your tastes in food.”

The drink at Tim’s elbow seemed to be some sort of lemon liquor. It tasted sweet and good, probably disguising a good deal of alcohol. Janet said, “You look as if you like it.”

“Yes. I’ve never had anything like it.”

“I do like to experiment with exotic drinks and food, but not with exotic people.”

“Exotic people can surprise you.”

“Yes. I was probably never as exciting and adventurous as the ladies in your group, and I’m a bit less so now. Solid comfort is the thing for me. Speaking of which, have you got your leg and cast in a good position?”

“Pretty good. It’s even better if I raise it a bit.”

Janet darted out of the room and reappeared with a hassock. While she was raising his cast into position, he ran his hand gently down her arm. She smiled, kissed him lightly, and whispered,

“Marta will put dinner in the oven to keep warm and leave. She’ll be gone soon.”

Marta did, in fact, leave with a cheery wave and a certain obvious complicity between herself and Janet. Soon afterwards, Tim found that Meredith was right in her assessment of beautifully dressed women. Everything was slow, smooth, sensuous, and punctuated with bits of dry humor. Even the rug turned out to be soft to the bare skin and accommodating to a man with a big cast. Afterwards, there was an unbelievable multi-directional shower with a plastic chair and stool which allowed the cast to be kept mostly dry. Tim gathered that Janet worked at the radio station, not for the money, but to keep herself busy.

     The dinner that followed was also smooth and civilized. Janet talked of art, music, and movies. Tim found himself admitting,  “I’m afraid we’ve been going backwards culturally here. We’ve been busy solving so many day-to-day problems that we hardly go anywhere.”

“Well, San Diego is a bit backward. It doesn’t have a first class symphony, or orchestra of any kind, and the art museum isn’t very good. There are also lots of interesting movies and other things in New York that never get here. In some ways, it’s a Johny-come-lately sailor town.”

“We’re so ocean and sports obsessed that we tend to collapse at the end of the day.”

“I bet you read good books.”

“We do read, but, apart from being with my young friend Chris and his father, I haven’t had a philosophical thought since I’ve been here.”

“I’ve heard about Chris. He must be fascinating!”

“He is. He’s interested in everything and good at everything. I hope it’s catching.”

“I was never that good at things, but I was interested in everything when I was at UCLA. In fact, my marriage broke up because my husband lost his interest in most things.”

“Was that because he got involved in business?”

“He was, and is, a lawyer. But it comes down to the same thing.”

     Tim wound up telling Janet about his father. At the end, she concluded, “It sounds as if you and your sister were forced into a very tight bond.”

“Big time.”

“Would it be possible for either of you to marry anyone else without that person feeling like an outsider?”

“Difficult. Our friends don’t feel frozen out, but a spouse might.”

“Too bad you can’t marry your sister. The incest taboos are pretty strong.”

“Yeah, there is something. It’s not just the conventions. There’s something that blocks out a certain kind of desire.”

“Well, I have a brother who’s an attractive man. We’re not terribly close, but, quite apart from that, I’d react pretty violently if he came on to me.”

“It’s certainly not religion, or even the fear of producing two-headed children. It probably wouldn’t apply to a sibling who’d been separated at birth.”

“Remember Oedipus and Jocasta?”

“Yes indeed.”

“I may be older than you, Tim, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not your mother.”

Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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