Yessir, that was one interesting day in…well, I’ll just call our little town Bear Lick, on account of folks around here wouldn’t take kindly to having their town used in a story like this’un. I think I remember seeing there’s a Bear Lick somewhere in Tennessee, but I don’t rightly remember where I saw it. Anyway, if you live in Bear Lick, Tennessee, this story ain’t really about your town, so don’t you fret none.
I was cutting Edward Jellico’s hair, not a really interesting thing, you’d say, except that Edward - he won’t answer to Ed or Eddie - only comes in for a haircut once a year, the same time he comes down off his mountain to sell his furs, wild honey and ginseng. He takes the money and loads up with a year’s supply of sugar, salt and cornmeal, and then goes back up.
As you can probably imagine, Edward was pretty shaggy, so that haircut was taking a while. It was a Saturday, and my shop was filling up with men wanting a fresh haircut for church the next day. The county sheriff, Jimmy, was sitting there reading a fishing magazine ‘bout two years old, and Jack Ransom - he owns the hardware store – he was looking’ out my big window at the cars going by on Main Street. Bill Malloy and Jeff Jackson were playing rummy on the table in the corner. Right then is when the second interesting thing happened that day. Ripley showed up in town.
No, not that Ripley, the Ripley who keeps track of the biggest ball of string and who wrote what on a pinhead and what’s the longest anybody’s ever sat in a tree. This Ripley was Ripley Kerns.
I was just finishing up one side of Edward’s head when Jack jumped up and said “Geeze Louise, who the hell is that?”
Well, everybody in the shop stopped whatever they was doing and went to look, except me and Edward. When you got as much hair as Edward did, it’s pretty easy for a barber to lose his place and I didn’t wanna have to look for mine. Edward didn’t seem too interested anyway. Edward never seemed to be interested in much of anything except getting back to his mountain.
“Damn…will you look at them long legs.”
“Ain’t her legs I’m a lookin’ at. It’s them titties. You ever see any titties move like that?”
“Holy shit, them little shorts almost ain’t there.”
“Uh-oh. Must be sump’in wrong. She’s headin’ fer the Sheriff’s office.”
“Well, maybe I oughta go see what the little lady wants then. You hold my spot, Tom. I’ll be back soon’s I find out what she’s after.”
Jimmy came back a few minutes later. He was smiling, something Jimmy didn’t do much, what with being in charge of keeping the peace and all.
“Her name’s Ripley, Ripley Kerns, and she’s a wildlife photographer. She want’s to take pictures of deer and bears and turkeys and make a book out of ‘em. Says she already did one in Texas – that’s where she’s from - and thought our mountains’d be a good place for another. Wanted to know if we had any guides who’d show her around.”
Well, you couldn’t hear yourself think for a while for all the offers and comebacks.
“I got I place I’d like ta show her.”
“Yeah, and Doris’d have your pecker nailed to the barn door soon’s she found out.”
“What that little lady needs is somebody who knows where the critters are an’ can git her close to ‘em.”
“Jeff, the sheriff said she wants a bear, not that mouse in your shorts.”
Jimmy interrupted the banter.
“I told her I’d ask around, see if anybody was interested. She’s gonna stay over at Mabel’s for a day or so. Wish I had more’n one deputy. I might take on the job myself. You oughta see her suntan. Don’t seem to stop anywhere I could see.”
Well, I got Edward all clipped, combed and dusted with powder about then and held up the mirror so he could see hisself. He just said, ”OK”, counted out the charge from a pocket full of bills and coins, and left.
Took me a while to get from my truck to my shop Monday morning, because there was a young woman just standing there outside the bank like she was waitin’ on somebody. She had the longest legs…well, her jeans rode low enough I figured if she bent over, her butt crack’d show just a little. Them legs went all the way from there down to her little hiking boots. One of them big cameras like they got down at the newspaper was hanging around her neck, but the straps had to kind of spread out to clear her breasts. They were pushing’ out the little check shirt she had on ‘til it looked like the buttons were gonna pop clean off.
Just about the time I made it to the door without tripping on something while I was watching her, she started across the street in my direction. I finally got the key in the lock, opened the door and went inside. I got the lights on, and there was Ripley standing at my door. She lifted up her big sunglasses, propped them on top of the coal-black hair she’d pulled back in a ponytail, and looked through the window. I waved at her to come on in.
“Well, hello there Miss. Something I can help you with?”
I’d never heard a real Texas drawl before, but if that was what Ripley had, it sounded real nice. The words just kind of dripped out of her mouth sweet as maple syrup from a pitcher…or maybe it was just because the rest of her that was pretty sweet too made her sound that way. I don’t know. Whatever it was, I liked her right off.
“You’re the town barber, right?”
“Yes I am. I’m Tom Wingate, and you’d be…?”
“Ah…the girl Jimmy talked to yesterday.”
“If Jimmy’s the sheriff, I’m the one. What’d he tell you?”
“That you’re a photographer who’s taking pictures for a wildlife book, and you were looking for somebody to show you around.”
“Well, that’s kinda right. What I want is to get to more than squirrels and raccoons, and ‘possums. The smaller animals are important, but I want pictures of deer and bear doing what they do naturally.”
“Well, there’s definitely deer and bear up in the mountains.”
Ripley smiled and the room seemed to light up just a little.
“My uncle was the barber back in Calf Creek, and he knew every man in twenty miles. He’d heard all their stories too. Wasn’t too hard for him to tell which were true and which weren’t. I figured you might be same. So tell me, if you were gonna go up in the mountains looking for animals, who’d you pick to go with you?”
I thought about it for a second. No…she’d never fit with him and I didn’t really think he’d like having her up there much. Still, he was probably the best for what she wanted.
“There’s a man name of Edward Jellico happens to be in town. He could show you what you’re looking for and probably some things you haven’t thought of.”
She smiled again.
“Sounds like the man I need. Where would I find him?”
“Well, Miss, before you go and do that, there’s some things I oughta tell you ‘bout Edward. You might change your mind.
“See, Edward’s kind of an odd sort of guy. He must be, oh, forty by now, and he stays up in the mountains except for a couple days a year when he comes down to sell his furs and stuff. Nobody really knows where he lives. Nobody really knows him at all for that matter. You might be getting yourself more than you can handle if you go up there with him.”
“You think he’s dangerous?”
“Nah. Edward’s just a loner, and he’s pretty tame. He’s just…kinda different.”
“I can handle different if he gets me the shots I want.”
“OK. Well, he’s probably down at Mercer’s getting’ stuff to take back with him. He’ll be leaving today, I imagine.”
About an hour later, I saw Ripley drive past in a Jeep with Edward sitting in the passenger seat.
The next Saturday, Ripley walked into my shop again.
“Think I could get you to drive me up the mountain this afternoon?”
“Well, sure, but why?”
“It’s just what I’m looking for up there. It’s gonna take me a while to get everything I want, so I’m gonna stay up there with Edward. I just came down to get some things I’ll need, and I don’t want to leave my Jeep parked up there at the end of the road.”
I drove her up Snake Road until it stopped. Ripley picked up the backpack she’d stuffed everything into and slung it over her shoulders.
“Well, Tom, I don’t know how long this is gonna take, so I’ll see you when I see you, I guess.”
I saw her waving in the rear view mirror as I drove her Jeep back to town.
Wellsir, fall came and rained itself into winter, and winter froze itself into spring, and we hadn’t seen hide nor hair of Ripley, kinda disappointing when you think how nice her hide an’ hair were to see. I got to worrying quite a bit ‘round ‘bout the middle of March. Gets cold up there on that mountain in winter, and some winters it snows a lot.
I was also kinda worried ‘bout her and Edward. He’d lived alone so long, I didn’t know how he’d take to a woman being up there with him. Since I was the one who got ‘em hooked up together, I felt kinda responsible. When I thought about it some more, hooking ‘em up didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. The first of May, I went over to Jimmy’s office and told him we had to go find her.
Well, I guess Jimmy was worried too. I didn’t know it ‘til he told me, but Edward was up on that mountain for a reason. He’d got hisself in trouble over a woman when he was a kid. Beat the hell out of another man, Jimmy said, and spent some time in jail. Now I was really worried. Jimmy agreed.
“We’ll start at daylight tomorrow. I’ll bring along my old Winchester for you. Bears’ll be out now, and the berries aren’t ripe yet, so we might meet one.”
I asked Jimmy how we’d find where Edward lived. Jimmy grinned.
“Ah…I know where he lives. His granddaddy ran a still up on that mountain years ago. I reckon the cabin’s still there, just like it was when I used to hike up there for a quart o’ shine.”
Jimmy and I left that morning in his Blazer and drove up Snake Road to the end.
“’Bout two hours walk, if I remember right”, Jimmy said. “Just walk loud so the bears can hear us comin’ afore we get to ‘em, and don’t get all nervous and shoot me if we do see one.”
Two and a half hours later, I saw the cabin. It sat in a small clearing in the trees about a hundred feet from a small lake and could have been on one of them picture postcards they have down at Willard’s Drug Store.
“Well, this is it. Hasn’t changed much. Still used to be back in them trees over there. Don’t remember an outhouse, but it’s been a while. You hang back while I go see if anybody’s home.”
He’d taken just two steps when we heard the woman’s scream. We both ran toward the cabin. There was another scream and then the sound of a man laughing.
Jimmy pulled me back behind the cabin.
“Tom, you stay here behind the cabin. No use in you getting’ into somethin’ you don’t know how to handle.”
Jimmy peeked around the side of the cabin and then quickly ran behind a tree a little closer to the lake. He leapfrogged his way from one tree to another until he got to a stand of brush about twenty feet from the lake. He stared out at the water for a while, and then turned back with his finger across his lips and waved for me to join him.
Well, it was Ripley who’d been doing the screaming, but it sure wasn’t because she was hurt. They was skinnydipping in the lake, and I figured that early in the year, the water’d be cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. I’da done more’n scream if I’d been in it.
Jimmy and I stood there watching while she swam up to Edward and stood up. I’ll tell you, you never saw such stiff nipples on a woman, least I never had. They was all puckered and swelled up tigher’n a drum. Didn’t seem to bother her at all when Edward sucked one in his mouth, in fact, she reached down, grabbed his hand and put it on her other breast.
A few minutes later they walked out of the water and up to a blanket they’d laid out on the ground in a sunny spot. That water musta been freezing because Edward’s cock was shrunk up to nothing. As soon as they got dried off and hit that blanket, Ripley started warming it up for him. At first, she was just a rubbing it, but after it got a little bigger, she bent over and put the whole thing in her mouth.
Well, I tell you, in a few minutes, Ripley had ol’ Edward standing’ tall and she still kept on sliding her mouth over him. Every once in a while, her cheeks’d suck in like she was sucking on a soda straw, and Edward’d jump like you wouldn’t believe. I figured he was gonna shoot right then and there, but just when he started to jerk his hips up and down, she stopped and squeezed the base of his cock with her hand. Edward calmed down a little and then she started all over again.
Jimmy grinned at me and whispered, “Damn…I need for Alice to have a talk with her”.
Well, I had to agree with Jimmy on that one. My Audrey does that to me when she’s feeling kinda frisky, but she likes me licking her kitty a whole lot more. Right about when I was gonna say that to Jimmy, Ripley straddled Edward and started trying to get his cock in her. Well, that’s what I thought for a while, ‘cause she didn’t seem to be having much luck. Then I realized she was just teasing him a little, because Edward had a grin on him like a ‘possum eatin’ grapes.
He teased her right back, he did. Ever time she bent over, he sucked up one of her nipples in his mouth, and we could see him bite down just a little. Ripley seemed to like that, because she’d shake enough to make her little ass wiggle, and a couple of times, we heard her moan real quiet like.
Well, Edward finally got enough of her teasing and grabbed Ripley’s hips and set her right down on his cock. She got most of it inside her the first time and then raised up a bit and sat all the way back down. Edward gave her a little hump just to make sure and then relaxed when Ripley started riding him.
I tell you, it was something to watch. She’d raise up ‘til his cock was almost out and then push right back down. Just at the end, her little ass’d tighten up and rock down even more. About her third stroke, she reached down, grabbed both Edward’s hands, and pulled ‘em right up to her breasts. He was a squeezing and she was a riding for all they’s worth.
It didn’t take long before Edward quit relaxing and started helping Ripley out a little. He’d bounce her little ass up in the air when she sat down and pull out a little more when she raised up. He helped a little too much a couple o’ times and his cock slipped out. She just giggled, reached behind her and put it right back in.
After a while, she wasn’t doing much besides riding hard and breathing even harder. We heard her making these little moaning’ sounds ‘til Edward grabbed both her nipples an’ pulled on ‘em. When he done that, Ripley kind of screeched and started pounding her little butt up and down faster. He pulled on ‘em again, and she yelled, “Oh fuck, I’m gonna cum.”
Well, she did and so did Edward, judging by all the groaning and humping he did. She kept on riding him, just slower, for a while and then laid herself down on his chest. Jimmy motioned for me to follow him and we went back in the woods.
We walked for about five minutes and neither of us said a word. Then, Jimmy stopped and grinned at me.
“Ripley look like she was in trouble or anything like that to you?”
“Nope. Looked to me like her and Edward were getting along just fine.”
“Looked the same to me. Let’s head on back. I really, really need to get home to Alice.”
Well, Ripley and Edward came back down about a month later. She came over to my shop ‘bout closing time one night to talk a while. I asked how she’d been an’ if she and Edward had got along OK.
“Oh, yeah, we got along fine. Edward’s not as different as you said, and he sure does know that mountain. I got some pictures that’ll knock your socks off.”
I got this picture in my head of Ripley with her socks and everything else off.
“So, I guess you’ll be leaving us now?”
“Not exactly. I sent for my movie camera yesterday. I’m gonna go back with Edward for a while more and see if I can put together a nature film. Oh, I uh…I told them at the post office to call you when it comes in. Think I could ask you to bring it up there for me?”
“Well, Ripley, I don’t really know where Edward lives, except he lives up on that mountain somewhere. Don’t know if I could find you or not.”
Ripley grinned again.
“You know, Tom, my daddy always told me when you’re out in the woods, you should walk as quiet as you can. We heard you and Jimmy coming five minutes before you got there. We were gonna say hi, but you left too soon.”
“Just make as much noise when you come back so we’ll know you’re there, OK, and if we’re, well, you know, just give us a bit.”
Well, I took Ripley’s movie camera up to her about a month later. They was out fishing in the lake when I got there. Ripley fixed some of their trout for lunch and we had a nice talk. Seems she’d decided it’ll take a couple years to make that movie an’ was gonna live up there with Edward ‘til she got done.
She seemed pretty happy ‘bout that. Edward didn’t say much. He was just smiling the first smile I’d ever seen him smile.