September 11, 1954
New York, N.Y.
Leaning against the wall, holding a cup of punch, once again his eyes were drawn to the young woman behind the coffee and doughnut table.
Although much thinner than he liked, the woman was pretty, in a stark, dramatic way. And as though she’d shunned the sun, her white complexion appeared even whiter in contrast to her long, black hair that was pulled back and bound close to her scalp, giving her a ponytail—causing Mitchell to have a sense of déjà vu—that hung midway down her back. Wearing a dark gray skirt that left no doubt as to her skinniness, the young woman’s breasts were but small, sharp bumps beneath her black cashmere sweater.
Yet, for a reason he could not fathom, he was attracted to her.
Screwing his courage up, walking to the table, he stood a minute until, turning from the soldier she’d been speaking to, “Hi,” he said, smiling. “My name’s Mitchell.”
“Hi,” she answered, and because that is why she was there, and—taken by his appearance—because she wanted to, holding her hand forward, “I’m Chris.”
Surprised that she’d offered her hand, “Hi, Chris.” holding it from across the table. “You stuck here, or can you dance?”
Lifting their hands over the coffee and doughnuts, “No,” stepping out from behind the table, “I can dance.”
After eight on a warm Saturday, the floor was jammed with servicemen and USO hostesses.
Holding her hand, he led her to the middle of the dance floor. Fortunately, the LP record that was playing was a medley of slow dance numbers.
His left arm about her thin waist, close up he could see that beneath the makeup Chris was actually prettier than he’d first thought.
Perpetually thin, being one of those people that could not gain weight no matter what, or how much she ate, taking advantage of her spectral appearance, feeling that she could get away with it due to her profession, Christine Sanbourne did use makeup as a means to attract attention.
Now, sexually attracted to this handsome sailor, allowing herself to be pulled closer than she normally would, and easily becoming accustomed to his erratic speed, “You come here often?” she asked. “Don’t think I’ve seen you here before.”
“No, not too often.” Stubbing her toe, “Oops.” Moving his head back so he might see her face. “Sorry, I’m not such a good dancer.”
“Don’t worry about it, Mitchie, you’re doing just fine.”
Mitchie! He laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing. I just kind’a like the way you call me Mitchie.”
Looking at his eyes, “Oh,” forcing hers away, tightening her arms, holding him closer, putting a light smudge of makeup on his blue tunic, “Mitchie’s your name, isn’t it?” Chris laid her head onto his shoulder.
Well aware of the tightening of her body against his, “Sure, it’s my name, but I like the way you say it.” Holding each other as they were, if Chris had breasts, thinking, I sure as hell can’t feel them. But the odor of her perfume, the warmth, and the touch of this strange, but somehow extremely feminine body pressed against his, did, oh, yeah, excite him… And, sensing by the tightness of her arms, that he was, maybe, more than just another serviceman that she was dancing with, “This is why I never learned to dance too good,” he whispered warmly in her ear. “Whenever I get too close to a beautiful woman, very strange things start to happen.”
“Strange things?” Well aware of those strange things, strange things happening within her body as well, still, holding him tightly as he held her tightly, Christine Sanbourne and Mitchell Lipensky danced until the long-playing record ended, then continued to stand in the shifting crowd, mutually holding each other—although, for appearances, not quite as tightly—waiting for the next record to begin… It did… Fortunately, another slow selection.
“When do you get off?”
“I don’t punch a clock here. I can leave whenever I want.”
“Would you like to get out of here? Go for something to eat, or for a drink or something?”
“We’re not supposed to go out with the guys we meet here.”
Looking at her, faltering, “Ooops,” stepping on her foot again. “But sometimes you do, don’t you?”
Though not making a habit of it, “No,” she lied, “I never have.” As a hint, adding softly, “yet.”
Yet! “But some of the girls do!”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
Beginning to wise up pertaining to girls/women, not wanting to push it, thinking it best to, at least temporarily, change the subject, “What do you do, Chris?”
“I’m an actress.”
Impressed, “No kidding? Pulling back, looking at her face again, “I’ve never met a real actress before. What do you, uh, act in?”
“A little TV. Some commercials. Mostly stage plays.”
“Wow, that’s great! You in anything now?”
“Nah. The last thing I was in turned out to be a flop and it closed after a few weeks, so my agent’s looking for something else now.”
“You’ve an agent and everything, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Dancing quietly a minute, “So, Chris, you want too?”
Hesitating a moment, “Yes, Mitchie, but we shouldn’t be seen leaving here together.”
Knowing where this was leading, his heart thumping, “Great!” Standing away, giving himself a chance to relax before leaving the crowded dance floor. “Tell you what. What if I take you back to the doughnut table, then go downstairs and wait for you outside?”
“Okay, but don’t wait at the door. When you get downstairs, turn right and wait at the newsstand on the corner, and I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”
“I’m not really too hungry,” she said. “How’s about you?”
“Hungry? No, I’m not either. You want a drink, then?”
“That, I wouldn’t mind! But anyplace we go now’ll be jammed…” On Broadway, jostled by the Saturday night crowd, “so why don’t we just go to my place.”
Oh, yeah! “Where do you live?” he asked, thinking, Shit! I’d go home with you if you lived in Alaska.
“Not too far from here… So, you want to come home with me?”
Looking at her, taking her hand, feeling her fingers tighten about his, “Do whales shit in the ocean?”
The sexual possibilities limitless here, Mitchell had never been with a girl that had her own apartment, especially in a building with a doorman and, totally impressed, “This is a very nice place!” Walking to the picture window, looking at the light-studded Manhattan view, “You must do well as an actress. Should I know you?”
“Now? No. Maybe someday, I certainly hope so. But now, my dad’s got lots of money, and he’d worry about me if I had to live on what I make, so he helps out with the rent and stuff… Scotch okay?”
He’d never had Scotch, but, “Yeah, sure.”
The kitchen in Christine Sanbourne’s high-rise, three-room apartment was separated from the living room by a ceramic tile counter and a row of blonde-wood hanging cabinets that opened to the kitchen.
Following Chris around the counter, he watched as, opening the freezer, scooping two hand-fulls of ice out of a plastic bowl, she dropped first one then the other into two lo-ball glasses. Opening a cabinet, removing a bottle of Chevas Regal, filling both glasses to the rim, “Here.” handing him one. “Come on.” Taking two paper coasters off a stack on the counter on her way out of the kitchen, she dropped them onto the marble-topped coffee table. Sitting on the sofa, patting the cushion next to her, “Make yourself comfortable, Mitchie.” Taking a long drink, kicking her shoes off, “I won’t bite you.”
Biting him the least of his problems, a bit nervous, though, because he knew what was coming, trying to look calm, and remain calm, “It’s okay, Chris,” sitting next to her, “you can bite me whenever…” taking a drink, grimacing, “and wherever you want.” He took another drink.
Sitting awkwardly, each waiting for the other to say, or do something, Christine Sanbourne and Mitchell Lipensky drank their drinks, and because Mitchell hadn’t had anything stronger than beer—and then only one or two—since the unhappy night of his eighteenth birthday, the Scotch going to his head immediately, wanting to kiss Chris, momentarily wooden, and at a loss for words, “Mmmm,” he said, “this is nice.”
“Yes, it is. But let me show you what I really love!” Standing, going into the kitchen, turning the lights off on her way out, returning with the bottle of Chevas, Chris refilled both glasses. Leaving the bottle on the coffee table, turning the combination television, phonograph and radio to a classical radio station, “Excuse me a minute.”
Knowing what she wanted to do, and well knowing from past experience what pancake makeup could do to a navy-blue tunic, going through her bedroom into the washroom, appraising the image of her face negatively, using cold-cream, she removed her makeup.
Turning the lights off as she went, coming back to the living room, their thighs touching, sitting alongside Mitchell, taking a long pull of scotch, laying her head back on the sofa, Chris closed her eyes.
Soft, beautifully melodic music filled the room as the diffused, flickering light from the lights of the city coming through the large window danced upon the walls and ceiling.
“Isn’t this beautiful!”
Putting his glass onto the coaster, “Yes.” No longer wooden, no longer needing words, moving his face to hers, their lips brushed, touched, and made contact.
Tasting the Scotch on her lips, and in her mouth… His hand, moving to beneath the bottom of her sweater, rested upon her warm, rock-hard stomach.
Feeling his touch, her tongue probed into his mouth.
Encouraged, his hand moving upward, “Wait,” Knowing, thinking she’d know how to placate him when the time came, “let’s go into the bedroom.”
Oh, yeah! The bedroom! Pulling his shoes off, “Yeah!” he said, pulling his socks off. “Let’s go in the bedroom!”
Standing, Chris took a step, turned back, lifted her glass and handed him his. Watching each other over the rims, each drained their glass, then, wobbling a bit, she led the way as Mitchell, wobbling a whole lot, pulling his tunic and T-shirt over his head, leaving a trail of his clothing, was fully nude by the time they’d made the short journey from the living room to the bedroom.
The curtains before the picture window in the bedroom were fully open and the city lights, additionally reflecting off an oversized dresser mirror, cast a flickering kaleidoscope of light throughout the room.
A “Becoming” Excerpt.
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