The Heat

                         --           1           --

On July 11th, the temperature in downtown Willyville topped 94 degrees, a considerable jump from the high of 78 the previous day. The high pressure area that Bob Katt, the weather forcaster for TV station KNUT, had been predicting all week had finally arrived. The sun sat hot and brassy in a sky devoid of clouds. Bob Katt had predicted that the temperature would only increase for the rest of the week, at least. The heat wave had begun.

Three days later the temperature broke 100 and everybody knew the heat was here to stay. The air was hot and heavy. Those unfortunate enough to be working outside or without benefit of air conditioning groaned and cursed the sun, giver of all life and bringer of all misery.

Skin became a much more common sight as uncomfortable humans stripped down to the bare neccessities, if not farther, in search of some relief. As clothes fell away, so did inhibitions as the human, the horniest animal on earth (who was actually capable of becoming sexually aroused at the mere sight of the uncovered body of a fellow human of the preferred sex! Imagine that!) began to follow the urges that nature had imbued them and that they themselves had honed to a fine and wonderous art.

In other words, once the night cooled off, they started fucking like rabbits.

But human nature can be a two edged sword, and while one edge was sweet, the other was very bitter indeed. Hot weather and its attendant ills caused tempers to flare where they otherwise would have been held with discretion. Many great home truths, which had been considerately unmentioned by friends, lovers, relatives, etc., suddenly came out in full force with the expected arguments and fights following. Frustration at the endless discomfort caused human to strike out at fellow human in a futile substitute for lashing back at the true source of their aggravation, a safe 93 million miles out of reach. The local constabulary spent a great portion of their time quelling these arguments. Of course, being human and just as uncomfortable as everybody else, their tempers were somewhat shorter than they would normally have been, and guess who they took it out on? Quite a number of offenders made their way to the local lockup by way of the local emergency room.

But all of this was simply human nature, and none of it was very serious, at least not on a grand scale. Civilization had survived much worse. But on a personal level some of the catastropies were very serious. Some lives were changed completely. One such person who'd had his life changed by the heat was Harold Sykes. And here's what happened...

---

The moon poured in through the open window, flooding the bedroom with an eerie half light. The air was warm, a pleasant 75 degrees. Perfect temperature for nudity. Cindi settled back on the pillow with a satisfied sigh of pleasure not yet faded to memory. Harold still kneeled on the bed between her knees, his erection pounding almost painfully against his belly. The moonlight spilled across her nude, fluid form, and he lovingly eyed her firm, small breasts, still hard nippled in the aftermath of her orgasm. His eyes roamed down her smooth, taut belly to the wiry mass of her pubic hair, where he had but moments ago spent so much time carefully and artistically bringing her to a powerful climax. Whatever else you could say about his performance in the sack, he knew how to give head. It was one of the skills he was especially proud of.

But enough wool-gathering (bad pun intended). Harold leaned forward, placing his hands on the bed on either side of her. He kissed her fully and deeply as he gently lowered his weight onto her. For a moment they simply lay there, as he savored the full body contact, the feel of her naked skin against his own. Then he raised his hips and she gently guided him into her.

For Harold, at least, no sensation in the world could ever compare to the warm, slinky feeling of penetration. He thrust deep, and her hips moved in response. His excitement towered to new heights, and his balls ached for release. Take it slow, take it slow. He kissed her again and ran his hand along her side, from thigh to shoulder, feeling, touching, loving.

He began to pump in a slow sinuous rhythm, her hips moving with his. Her legs raised and locked around his waist as her hands moved along his back. Her breathing became short and rapid, and Harold knew she was building to another orgasm. With each thrust, his own pleasure mounted to a new height until finally he poised, breathless, at the brink. Too soon, too soon...

Too late. He cried out as his seed shot into the warm depths of her body. Face straining, he pumped again, one last time, trying to squeeze what last little bit of feeling might be left after that almost painful explosion of pleasure. Then he collapsed on top of her, exhausted.

For an endless time he lay, gathering strength. Finally it soaked into his sated consciousness that something was wrong. Cindi lay beneath him wooden, unmoving. He looked down into eyes that stared back with cold fury. "What- what's the matter?"

The anger in her eyes flared as she placed her hands on his chest and pushed him off. Her strength was surprising, and Harold fairly flew against the wall by the bed. Blinking back stars, he looked at her in confusion.

"God dammit!" she yelled.

Frightened now, Harold could only gasp, "What... what..."

"You didn't even try to make it last!" Hands on hips, her bare breasts jiggled fetchingly as she shouted. But Harold wasn't exactly fetched at the moment.

"I sure did try! It's not my fault-"

"The fuck it isn't! You don't even TRY!" she yelled, "Two pumps, a tickle, and a squirt and that's all you're ever good for! I'm sick of it!"

What the fuck was this? It was hard to believe she had been so intimate and caring a minute before. Miss Jekyl had just turned into a raving Miss Hyde and Harold was far too stunned to properly defend himself. "You mean to say you haven't gotten any enjoyment out of tonight?"

"Ha!" She was gathering her clothes and putting them on now. "Hasn't it ever occurred to you that I might get a little tired of being frigged and licked every single night? I want a MAN, dammit! Not some little boy who shoots his wad five seconds after he gets his pants off!"

He watched, unbelieving, as she stomped around the room. This was the woman he had been so in lust with the last few weeks? Was he really such a terrible lover? "Why are you doing this to me?"

"You did it to yourself." she snapped. She was fully dressed by now. Shouldering her handbag, she turned to him. "I'm leaving now. Until you learn how to fuck, don't bother calling me." Her pretty features twisted into an ugly ironic smile, "Have a nice life."

And then she left. Harold stared at the door a long time, his stomach churning along with his mind. Cindi had deliberately set about to hurt him in the worst way she possibly could. The only thought that kept running through his head was WHY?

The sound of a car starting and pulling out floated in through the bedroom window. Somehow this sound seemed to bring reality back into focus and his mind started working again. With a snarl he jumped off the bed and ran to the window, throwing the curtains aside.

He screamed something out the window, causing lights to come on all over the neighborhood: "YOU FUCKING BITCH!"

He ducked back inside before anybody could see him, collapsing back on the bed. Nothing was resolved, and some painful issues would have to be dealt with in the near future.

But he had to admit that, for the moment, he felt a little better.

                         --           2           --

The days seemed to grow longer, and if possible, hotter. Bob Katt recieved the usual number of crank emails and calls demanding he do something about the heat. Bob was beginning to wonder if it was time for that long overdue vacation. The station manager wondered the same thing.

The growing membership of the Willyville Nudist Society (formed somewhere around July 11th) petitioned the mayor's office to temporarily modify the laws against public indecency so as to allow the nudists to pursue their own version of 'personal freedom'. A story about it appeared in the local newspaper, and a day later the mayor's office recieved over a thousand anonymous letters in support of the petition. However, almost 80% of those letters were mimeographed in the same writing, unsigned, and sent without return addresses. Somebody had been very busy, indeed. There was no comment from the mayor's office about the whole situation. Rumor had it he had snuck out of town for a long overdue vacation...

---

For Harold Sykes, the usual lunacy of Willyville passed over him without notice as his days stretched into a grey cloud of depression. At work he hardly spoke, and when he went home he drew the blinds and sat in the stifling heat staring at a blank wall. When he saw a pretty girl out on the street he would avert his eyes until she passed by. When his friends at work spoke to him he would always jump, as if jolted from some private world. When asked about his change of behavior, he would simply dismiss it as the aftermath of a breakup. But deep inside his heart ached and he spent long, sleepless nights wondering who Cindi might be with and what they might be doing and being certain that she was having a far, far better time now than she had ever had with him. His depression grew deeper and deeper and he knew that over the horizon lay only more dark clouds.

The situation came to a head when Harold nearly throttled a co-worker for singing "Zipity-Doo-Da" one morning after announcing his engagement. After explaining to his supervisor (and the police officer) that he had been under a lot of stress lately, he was awarded with a two-week (unpaid) vacation and the advice to see a psychiatrist. Soon.

Instead he sat at home, watching "Love Boat" reruns and drinking some horrible beer and lemonade concotion bottled in New Jersey. Masochism was the word of the day here.

He was idly (and a bit drunkenly) trying to decide whether to use a sledgehammer or a shotgun on the TV set when the phone rang.

The harsh, obnoxious sound grated in his ears, pulling him from the fantasy that enveloped him. A part of him begged to answer the phone, as usual, to see who would be calling. The rest of him said screw it, why bother?

Finally, long ingrained habit won out. He lurched over to the phone and yanked the reciever off the cradle. Placing it to his mouth, he offered the most cheery greeting his jangled mind could come up with.

"Go fuck yourself."

There was moment's hesitation before a familiar male voice came out of the other end. "Harold! How ya doin'?"

"Hi, Tom." Harold sighed. Tom was Harold's best friend and a devout hedonist, to boot. "I'm doing fine. Just don't feel like getting out much in this heat, is all."

"Yeah, right." Tom said in a voice that made it perfectly clear he didn't believe a word of it. "Well, shit, man, you need to get out sometimes, before you start to grow cobwebs or something. And I got just the thing..."

Harold silently groaned and rubbed his temples. The only thing he wanted was to be left alone. One of Tom's 'just the thing' ideas was the last thing he needed right now. "Uh, look, maybe later-"

"Later my ass!" The voice on the other end roared. "I know what happened. Kelly told me." Harold's eyes widened but he really wasn't surprised. He fully expected Cindi to blab to everyone who would sit still long enough to listen. He tried to imagine that Cindy was sitting in front of him instead of the TV and suddenly his hands fairly itched for that sledgehammer.

Tom continued, "Shit, man, something like that would've killed me. Cindi has got to be the most twisted bitch I have ever heard of. Nobody has a right to do that to somebody else."

"Yeah, I ain't too happy about it either. But I can't do anything, so how about I call you later-"

"I ain't done yet." Tom interrupted firmly. "You've got to get out of there and back into circulation. You stay in that dark house much longer, you're going to do something stupid." Harold felt a sudden shock. What had he been thinking? He had twelve payments to go on the TV yet. Suddenly the beer and lemonade in his stomach began to churn.

"Look, Harold, I'm your buddy. It hurts me to see what she's done to you. I wanna help, and I think I know the best way to do it. There's a party going on Saturday afternoon at this place I know over in Squirrel Heights. Right off Wanker street. The whole gang's gonna be there, along with a bunch of other people I don't know. Lots of available girls, I hear. Hoping to add a couple to my collection myself. I think you ought to go with me. Keep me from getting in too much trouble."

Harold's voice was thick as he struggled with his gorge. "I... I don't know..."

"Aw, c'mon. I want you there. You don't have to do anything or talk to anybody if you don't want. Just soak up some rays and good feelings. I ain't heard of anybody going away from a West Side Party feeling bad."

"Well..."

"It's settled, then." Tom concluded, perhaps a bit prematurely. "I'll be by about noon Saturday, and you can ride with me. I know you don't drink, and I could use somebody sober to drive me home. If I go home at all. If not, you can use the car. Sound good?"

Harold had his voice under control and was actually feeling a bit better. Tom's nonstop talking had distracted him from the full impact of the crisis, and his depression was beginning to lift a bit. "Sure, why not? Should I bring anything?"

"Toothbrush and a change of shorts, maybe."

They talked for a few more minutes and when Harold finally hung up, he felt immensely better. He had felt so alone not long ago. It was good to be reminded he had friends. Maybe with their help he could pull through this depression and come out a whole human being once again. But that was still a ways off.

In the meantime, he tidied the house up. Lastly he came to the collection of bottles from his binge that morning. He was astonished to discover how much of that stuff he had drunk. Thinking about it reminded him just how awful the stuff really was. He hiccuped once and ran for the bathroom, hand over his mouth.

He almost made it.

                         --           3           --

The week wore on and Willyville got even hotter, if such a thing was possible. It also got weirder, and many had considered that impossible, too.

During the daytime the streets were like that of a ghost town, as everybody remained inside with shades closed to beat the heat. Air-conditioners became the number one most stolen item in the city, beating out televisions by a wide margin. It made sense of a sort, after all, you don't even need to get inside the house to steal one. Many a homeowner returned from work in the evening to find a large hole in the wall where the family's most cherished appliance once rested and subsequently broke down in tears. However, the chief of police had a sudden brainstorm that guaranteed a quick end to this new and despicable crime wave. He promptly instructed all four hospitals in the Willyville area to inform the police of any emergency room cases involving hernias or slipped discs. When the anxious media questioned the chief of police on this new tactic, he simply replied that the results so far were "interesting".

In other news, weather forecaster Bob Katt had been suspended for appearing on his show wearing boxer shorts, a tie, and nothing else. It seems the building's air-conditioning system had been stolen the previous night (an impressive feat in itself, considering that the compressor alone weighed half a ton) and Bob had refused to work in a suit in the stifling heat. So he had walked into the studio, dressed only in his skivvies, and up in front of the camera before any of the stunned studio crew could even think of stopping him. Of course, it would have been very bad form to yank him off the camera, so they simply let him do his broadcast. Once he was finished he was greeted by a purple faced station manager. Despite the incident, Bob was still very popular in Willyville, so he was not fired on the spot.

Instead, the station manager sent him on a long overdue vacation...

---

Saturday dawned bright, clear, and warm (surprise, surprise!). Harold was up with the sun, mostly because he hadn't slept at all the previous night. His stomach was a tight little knot and his heart would not stop pounding. He was having second thoughts about the party. Harold Sykes had never been a party animal, and recent... events... had convinced him that he would be very wise to stay away from certain segments of the human race (read: female) for a long time to come. In fact, now that he thought about it, he was rather frightened of them. After all, if he couldn't keep Cindi happy, would he be able to keep any woman happy? And there would be lots of girls there, probably all laughing at him. Why go?

Then he thought about his depression of the last couple weeks. Tom had a point: right or wrong, he had to do something.

Tom came by at 2:30 and picked Harold up. As they drove over to Squirrel Heights, Tom did most of the talking. Harold had lapsed into a moody silence, soaking up Tom's words and saying almost something in return. If Tom noticed, he didn't show it as he kept up a steady monologue all the way to the house.

The Squirrel Heights Boarding house was a dumpy three story affair sitting in front of about two acres of worn out farmland. The place was run by an aging ex-stockbroker named Michael Wilburn, who believed in free expression of everything and threw wild parties as often as the house's budget would allow. Some of the parties were solely for the house's inhabitants, but most of them were for whoever wanted to come. Booze and most kinds of drugs generally circulated freely, and Harold had heard rumors even more outrageous than that. All in all, it was pretty intimidating to an introvert like Harold, and as he stepped out of Tom's car and looked at the peeling gray mass of the boarding house looming over him, and the virtual sea of cars surrounding it, he knew he had made a mistake. He as much as said so to Tom, who ignored him completely.

The affair was already in progress, as he discovered when Tom led him around the back of the house. There must have been almost a hundred people there, engaged in all manner of outdoor activities. People everywhere, talking, yelling, running, horsing around, just generally having a good time. A table had been set up by the back door, and there was somebody serving booze and food to an endlessly regenerating queue.

Harold looked around and noticed that Tom had abandoned him and was nowhere in sight. For an instant he almost panicked and yelled for Tom, then his rational mind took over. What's your problem? it said. You're an adult, you don't need a keeper.

So Harold decided to walk around and see what he could see.

In one corner a net had been set up for a volleyball game. There was a team on each side, if a pushing, laughing, staggering group of people could be called a team. Harold stood off to one side with a small group of spectators and watched. All of a sudden his attention had been captured by one particular member of one team.

She wasn't tall, maybe five seven or so, buxom, and maybe a few pounds overweight. Which, as far as Harold was concerned, made her all the more nicely rounded. Her hair was blonde and fell down past her shoulders. Her face was pretty, but not spectacularly so. What had really caught Harold's attention was what she was wearing, or, more to the point, not wearing. She was dressed in frayed cutoff jeans that were so tight they had split along the sides halfway up her hips, and a string bikini top that struggled valiantly to hold up under the weight of enormous breasts. Harold glanced around and saw that she had the attention of pretty much every man in the crowd.

His heart fluttered as he watched her move, and he couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to take her to bed. He imagined her long hair spread out over the pillow, glimmering faintly in the moonlight, those magnificent breasts moving in slow liquid motion as she arched her back in sheer pleasure, her frenzied gasps as she reached a sudden and powerful orgasm...

Harold shook his head to clear it. Get real, he told himself. Someone like that certainly already has a boyfriend, and even if she didn't, why should she be interested in somebody like him? He turned around and began to make his way back towards the house.

Sudden catcalls and whistles made him turn around again. She was sitting on the grass, apparently having just fallen. When she landed, the overburdened top string of her bikini had given way, exposing her for all the world to see.

He could not help but stare. Her nipples stood out hard, the aurioles colored light rose pink. He ached to take them in his mouth, to feel their soft but firm weight in his hands. Then he looked up and saw she was staring directly at him.

He locked eyes with her and suddenly his face turned beet red. Why, he didn't know, because surely every other male here was staring and thinking the same thoughts. She made no move to cover herself, she just sat there, challenging him with her gaze.

Finally, Harold turned and pushed his way through the crowd. His heart was pounding in his ears and his balls, denied their release, ached miserably. He still had a raging hard-on and kept his hands in his pockets to conceal it. He felt sick, and ashamed. And he wanted to leave this instant.

But that stare kept coming back to him. On reflection, he felt there was more than just a challenge in her eyes. What, he didn't know, but he somehow knew it. It was almost as if a spark had passed between them. Undoubtedly it was just his overworked imagination, but...

He felt as if she wanted him, too.

                         --           4           --

Day gave way to night, as days usually do, and slowly Willyville began to cool off. People moved out of their stifling houses (except for those who hadn't had their air-conditioning stolen yet) and into their back yards. They brought all sorts of electronic devices, barbecues, bedrolls, and just generally prepared to enjoy the night in relative coolness.

All over Willyville the night was alive with the sound of voices, televisions, playstations, lustful moans and the other noises of humans enjoying themselves outdoors. With one exception. In Squirrel Heights, all was quiet. The place seemed deserted, in fact. Virtually all human life in the area had gravitated to one spot. At the Squirrel Heights boarding house, when night fell, the real party began...

---

Harold Sykes hadn't left the party like he planned, although he came awful damn close to doing so when he spotted Cindi in the crowd. But, in the end, the thought of going back to his lonely, empty, stuffy house was just too much. So instead he wandered around the yard, just watching the extraordinary panorama of human activity taking place before him.

Eventually he found a peaceful spot on the back porch where he just sat and watched the sun set. Tom came by and asked him how he was doing.

"Better." sighed Harold, "I really feel better."

Tom gave him a wink. "You may be feeling better than that before the night's over, old buddy." and sauntered off before Harold could say anything.

Now what was that supposed to mean?

As it got dark, the party outside thinned out. A few left, spinning their wheels in the gravel lot out front, but most just went inside the house. Probably gonna booze it up good, Harold thought, Although it looked to him like they had been boozing more than adequately already. Harold didn't feel like drinking very much, especially after his binge the other day. Drugs didn't hold much of an attraction for him, either. Just sitting there, alone with his thoughts, seemed to do quite a bit for him.

Eventually he awoke from his musings and was startled to find he was alone. With a sigh he got up and went in through the back door.

The back hallway was unlit. There was the low murmur of voices and music coming from somewhere ahead. He could make out dim light from around a corner in the distance. Cautiously he made his way down the hallway, hoping nothing solid was in the way of his shins.

Eventually he made his way to the light, and when he turned the corner he received the shock of his life.

The front room was spacious and poorly lit. But the light was more than adequate for Harold to see what was going on. There was about twenty to thirty people sprawled about the room, all naked, contorted in every kind of sexual position imaginable. And a couple that weren't imaginable.

Harold could only stare dumbly. The floor was almost lost amongst the moving, writhing bodies. There were six people on the couch, in some bizarre group contortion that made them look like something from another planet. One man sat moaning softly in an easy chair with a hard-on that Harold would have sworn was twelve inches long, at least. He watched in total amazement as all twelve inches disappeared into the mouth of the co-ed sitting on the floor between the man's feet.

The blonde he had seen earlier was conspicuously absent.

He heard creaking above him, and he looked up. In the rafters, some twelve feet above, a rope and pully setup had been arranged with a large wicker basket. Three people were in the basket, which swung back and forth alarmingly. Harold quickly moved several feet over, out from under the setup.

His head was spinning. His experience with sex had always been limited, and now he was confronted with a full-fledged orgy. It was too much. He didn't want any part of this. All he wanted was out.

Watching his step carefully, he made his way for the nearest door. He was almost there when he saw the one thing he *knew* he didn't want to see.

There was a clear spot at the far end of the room. Only two people were there, a man flat on his back with a woman sitting astride his hips, moving up and down in sensuous rhythm. He didn't know who the guy was but he knew the girl. Cindi. Pain that had been mercifully submerged now rose to stab arrow-like into his guts. Cindi turned her head at that instant and their eyes met. Instant recognition and something spiteful and unpleasant glittered in her eyes for a brief second, and then she turned her attention back to what she was doing. Her movements became more frantic, and her moans much louder, exaggerating as much as possible.

Her parting words rang in his mind: "I want a man, dammit!" Well, fine. All Harold wanted was out. He averted his eyes and ran blindly towards the closest exit. He stumbled over one couple on the way (startling them into a premature orgasm) and mumbled apologies as he kept going.

Then he was in a hallway, but not the one he had come from. Doors lined the hall on both sides. He grabbed one and pulled it open, only to be rewarded with several outraged yells. Redfaced and near tears from embarassment, he pulled the door shut and looked around desperately. An empty room, anything, just so he could get out of sight and get his thoughts together. If he didn't do it quick, he feared he might lost his mind. He had to get away, somehow!

There, at the end of the hall. An open door, the room dark within. He paused at the doorway for a second, but could detect no movement within. Empty, thank God! He slammed the door shut behind him and let the blackness envelop him as he sank to the floor with a hoarse sob. He lay in a heap for who knew how long before he finally calmed down.

His heart gave a sudden leap as he somehow realized, in the total darkness, that that the room wasn't empty after all. After a long moment, he finally summoned up a weak voice. "Who's there?"

There was a longer silence, and he almost began to hope he was alone after all, when a soft voice answered "Are you all right?"

Fuck NO! I ain't all right, you stupid... But Harold controlled himself before replying, "I will be, eventually. In about fifty years or so." He hesitated before the next question, "Are you, um, alone?"

"Yeah." she replied, "I just wanted to be by myself. I kinda outgrew the scene out front a long time ago. All the interesting guys already have somebody. There was one guy, but I think he went home or something."

Harold got up, a little unsteadily "I'm sorry. Sorry I barged in on you. I'll leave now."

"Please, don't." she said, "Unless you really need to. I think we could both use someone to talk to."

Harold sat back down against the wall with a weary sigh. "Sure, why not?" After a silent moment, he continued, "Would you mind turning on a light? I'd like to see who I'm talking to."

"Well," she began doubtfully, "you may feel more comfortable without the light, but if you insist..." There was a click and a flare of light exploded into his eyes, blinding him momentarily. When he could open his eyes, he received the last shock of a very long day.

Standing by a lamp on the dresser was the blonde from the volleyball game, still dressed in the frayed shorts but minus the bikini top, which lay discarded on the bed. She had her eyes screwed shut against the light, opening them a moment later.

"Oh! It's you!"

                         --           5           --

It took a moment for Harold to recover from his surprise. He swallowed drylysand said, "So, I guess we meet again."

She walked over to the bed and sat down on the edge, seemingly unconcerned over her partial nudity. She made no attempt to cover herself at all. "I remember you from the crowd at the volleyball game. When I lost my top I was embarrassed as hell, but I was going to be damned if I'd let anyone see that. I saw every male in the crowd was drooling, but when I looked around and saw you... there was something else in your eyes. You looked so incredibly sad."

"I didn't know it showed." Harold mumbled. "I was... well... thinking just about the same thing as everybody else." He turned red and averted his eyes in shame.

"Oh, I know that." she replied matter-of-factly "I've been getting looks like that since I was twelve years old. I'm used to getting stared at and hit on a lot, so I just learned to deal with it without getting mad. Actually, it does a lot for my ego. I don't know what it was, though, but you really stood out in that crowd, at least to me. I've always been good at picking up feelings."

"And you felt sorry for me." Harold said baldly. He should have known he had misinterpreted that look. "When our eyes met that time, I almost thought, well..."

She smiled and patted a place on the bed next to her. "Why not come over here and sit down? You can't be too comfortable all curled up in a ball in the corner."

Harold sighed and got up painfully. She was right. It wasn't too comfortable. He sat on the bed about two feet away from her. It took considerable effort to keep his eyes off her chest. He was surprised to find his mouth had gone dry and his heart was pounding. "Um, can I ask a question?"

"Sure" She answered.

"If you were so, um, embarrassed when you lost your top earlier, why aren't you wearing it now?"

"Because it's uncomfortable. The damn string's been digging into my neck all day and it's sore as hell." she lifted her hair up and showed him a red weal as the base of her neck. "I should have worn a nice, sensable tank top. And I was embarrassed because I got caught by surprise. Otherwise I wouldn't have cared. I'm not ashamed of my body at all. Does this bother you?"

"No." Harold said quickly. Then he reconsidered. "Well, a little."

"See?" she smiled, "I told you you might like it better with the light off."

"Oh, not at all." Harold said hurredly, "They're definitely worth looking at." then he winced, realizing what he said. "I mean, YOU'RE definitely worth-"

But she was laughing, a very pretty sound indeed. She waved him off, "I know what you meant. I'm flattered, really. You know, red's your color." she said, making Harold blush even harder. "But that's nasty of me."

The talk died off and the silence stretched between them like putty as they both sat alone with their thoughts. Finally she said, almost shyly, "You know, I didn't entirely feel sorry for you. You're not that bad looking." Harold looked at her wonderingly. She moved over until she was right next to him. "Don't get me wrong, you're no George Clooney or anything, but I decided a long time ago that most of the really good looking guys are too hung up on themselves to give a woman the attention she wants. You seem really nice."

Her shoulder and hip pressed against his warmly. Her weight on the bed pulling him towards her, her very presence, that oh so luscious body, all burned in his mind like a red-hot firebrand. Almost without thinking, he put an arm around her shoulders. "And I think you're very beautiful. What else can I say?" his other hand came up and froze, uncertainly. Her eyes locked on his and without a word she reached up placed his hand on her bare breast.

"Why say anything?" and she silenced any possible reply with an open mouthed kiss.

He massaged her breast tenderly, feeling it's weight, it's smoothness, running his thumb gently over the rapidly hardening nipple. Her tongue darted playfully into his mouth, only to retreat. Then it came out again more slowly and met with his, intertwining in powerful intimacy that made his head spin. Then she withdrew slowly.

Ending the kiss, he ran his open mouth gently down along the line of her jaw, to her ear, which he explored, making her giggle. He moved to her neck, taking a moment to kiss away the pain of the weal there, before moving farther down.

Nor was she idle while he did this. Her hands ran along his sides, up under his shirt, exploring. Then she reached down and undid his pants, reaching inside to caress his blossoming erection with a light, tingling touch.

He had moved down to her chest now, and he roamed freely with his tongue, using a feathery touch that made her shiver. Around and around the curving softness of her breast, finally centering on the fully erect nipple, which he plunged into his mouth, sucking gently. Again and again he did this, finally moving over to the other side. His hands explored her back, her sides, her thighs, moving with smooth surety.

With a sigh she reclined back onto the bed, grasping the zipper on her cut-offs and pulling it down slowly. The fabric parted gladly, after straing all day to hold together, and golden feathery pubic hair poked through the gap, glimmering faintly in the light from the dresser lamp. She grasped the sides of the shorts and pulled them down over her long legs, finally kicking them off onto the floor. Harold was not surprised at all to see she wore no underwear. With a great sigh she stretched out on the bed, glorious in her nakedess. Harold could only stare until she looked back at him and said, "Well...?"

He hesitated for the slightest of instances. Something deep inside his mind gibbered. This is just like before, it said. Get out of here now. Get out before you humiliate yourself again! Now, fool!

And he almost listened. Almost, until something much older and stronger took control of his thoughts and squashed the voice completely. All doubt disappeared as he stripped off all his clothes, put the light out, and climbed onto the bed.

"Why did you turn off the light?" she asked in a breathy voice.

"Why not? Habit, I guess." he replied, turning his attentions back to her. Suddenly he stopped, "I just realized, I don't know your name."

"I was wondering when you would get around to that." she said. "I'm Julie."

"Pleased to meet you, Julie. I'm Harol... Harry." On a moment of whimsey, he added, "Would you have dinner with me tomorrow night?"

"Sure." She replied, "But right now let's fuck." And they both broke up laughing.

But the laughter quickly faded as Harry returned to the matter at hand. With his mouth and hands he continued to explore the soft curves of her body, her hips, her navel, slowly, inexhorably moving towards one definite spot. His fingers playfully toyed with her pubic hair as he moved his tongue slowly up along her inner thigh. Her breathing had speeded up noticably as she bent her knees and spread her legs. Harry settled himself down with his face between her thighs. His fingers pulled aside the labia, exposing the delicate folds of flesh within. Gently he began to probe inside with his tongue.

Her breathing became even more rapid and her hips began to move up and down in sensuous rhythm. His tongue explored deeper until he found what he was looking for, the fleshy knob of the clitoris. His nose pressed hard against her pube, he circled the clitoris gently, over and over again. Then he would flick it playfully with the tip of his tongue, then caress it warmly.

Her gasps became moans, first breathy, then louder as her hips moved even more violently. She ran one hand through his hair while pressing the other against her mouth in a futile attempt to stifle the noise. "Oh God," she moaned, "That feels so goooood..."

Harry would have said something in reply, but it was bad manners to talk with your mouth full.

Not that it would be full much longer. Her moans had become cries that she was powerless to silence. Her hips moved so violently that he had a difficult time keeping his tongue where it belonged and he held onto her thighs to keep her steady. The more excited she became, the farther her clit poked out of its fleshy covering, and the easier it was to torment it. Then her cries suddenly silenced as every muscle in her body locked and her hips rose high off the bed, carrying Harry with them. For a timeless second she remained like that, every muscle quivering in an explosive orgasm, before settling back on the bed with a mighty groan.

Wow, he thought. Cindi never got off like that. Experimentally he probed with his tongue again. She almost jumped off the bed. "No! Stop, please... No more..." she pleaded in an exhausted whisper. Slowly Harry uncurled himself and crawled up to rest beside her. He ran a hand along her skin, which was cold and beaded with sweat. She rolled onto her side and threw an arm around him, burying her face in his chest. She was shaking like a leaf. He hugged her tight to him until the trembling subsided.

Finally she said "That was good." She ran a hand down to his belly to his penis. His erection had wilted, and she began to massage some life back into it. It was not long at all before he was hard again, and she ran her fingers tantalizingly along the length of his boner. She rolled onto her back again, pulling him on top of her with surprising strength. "I want you. Now!"

The little man spoke up in his mind again, telling him he was walking into disaster, but Harry ignored it as she guided his penis into her. He thrust deep, and she gasped. "Still touchy." she breathed into his ear.

He thrust again and again, in and out, as her hips moved in time with his own. With one hand he supported himself while the other ran along her side, feeling her body. Her mouth met his in a deep kiss.

Too soon, much too soon, he felt the pleasure building. It mounted higher and higher, until he knew he was going to come. He rested for a moment until it died back, but it returned with twice the ferocity as soon as he began pumping again. He tried to will it back, to force it down, but the pleasure quickly grew out of control. He groaned through clenched teeth at an explosion of pleasure as his seed shot into the warm depths of her body. She held him tight as the echoes faded and Harold began to relax.

As the pleasure faded, fear replaced it. Now was the moment of truth. Was she going to accept him or explode with rage? He pulled out and lay down beside her, trembling slightly.

She noticed something was wrong right away. "What is it?"

"Nothing." he mumbled.

"Don't give me that. You just withdrew into yourself like a turtle in a shell. What are you afraid of?"

He swallowed hard "I thought you might get mad. Because... because I couldn't last very long. I was premature."

"What are you talking about?" she asked, "That was fantastic! I haven't got off that hard in a long time. What-" Suddenly an idea began to form. "Harry, what was it you were so upset about when you first came in here?"

Harold told her about Cindi. It took much coaxing to get the whole truth out, as the pain had not diminished after all.

After he finished, she was silent for a long time. Finally she said, "I almost can't believe somebody could do that to another person. Almost. I know Cindi. She's pretty fuckin' shallow and self-centered. How on earth did you ever get tangled up with her anyway?"

"I don't know." Harold said in a flat, lifeless voice. "I used to think she was something special. I was in love. I thought she loved me."

"I don't think the bitch knows what love is." Julie thought for a long moment. "There's only one thing to do. We're going to have to get you over this little problem of yours. And I think I know just the person to do it."

Harold lifted his head up to stare at her outline in the darkness. "You know somebody who can fix it?"

"This guy can fix anything. He knows more about sex than Dr. Ruth. He'll know what to do. And then you can show that bitch what's what."

"I don't know..." Harold began doubtfully.

"You don't have to know." she concluded for him. "I do."

They lay together for a long time. Finally she said, "Ready for another one?"

"Another what?" Harold asked innocently.

"Come on, now. You've had plenty of time to recover." She began stroking his penis, which was beginning to swell. "See what I mean?"

He felt the heat returning as he caressed her breast. "Well, if you insist..."

"Of course I insist. You know what they say."

"No, what do they say?" Harold asked as he moved on top of her.

"It's usually better the second time around..."

And it was.

                         --           6           --

Sunday. Squirrel Heights. By noon, the temperature hit 100 degrees. The misery at the boarding house was more acute than usual, as hangovers didn't mix with the heat at all. Also, because about five times as many people as usual had spent the night there, the place needed a good airing out. Especially the front room...

---

Michael Wilburn was fifty one years old and solidly built. Though balding, his hair showed not a trace of gray and there was a mischevious gleam in his eye when he smiled that showed that he had not yet surrendered to his years and probably never will. He was handsome in an offhanded sort of way, and had an easy, outgoing matter. He had once been an economics professor at the local university, until he decided to apply some of his theories to the stock market and found himself comfortably rich within a year. Students who once avoided his classes like the plague now begged him to return to teaching. He always got quite a laugh out of that. Despite some trepidation when Julie had introduced them, Harold was surprised to find he liked Michael almost immediately.

They sat at opposite ends of a study on the third floor, Harold in a ratty old easy chair, Michael crosslegged on a small pile of pillows. The air in the room was leaden, stiflingly hot. The only light streamed in through a half-shuttered window and striped the floor between them. Harold wiped sweat off his brow every few minutes, but his host seemed affected not at all by the heat.

Opening up to a stranger is always hard, but hope forced Harold along. Haltingly at first, then more freely with Michael's gentle prodding, he told the whole tale. Strange, but it was much easier than the previous night he had told it to Julie in bed. He began to wonder if maybe his manhood wasn't really in question after all.

After Harold was finished, there was silence for a long time. Michael sat with his eyes closed, digesting information, perhaps. Finally, he spoke.

"I see your problem, but I don't think you do. Control is not the real problem here. You, sir, are attempting to define yourself by your sexual ability."

Harold gaped at him for a long moment. "I don't understand."

"Simple. This Cindi person did nothing more than verbally assault your abilities in bed. A painful experience, yes, but not one that should trigger such a deep depression unless a problem already existed. You are placing far more emphasis on sex than is healthy for you. Tell me, how would you feel if I told you Julie was married?"

Harold felt an icy hand clutch his heart as he shivered in the sweltering heat. "She-she is? But what happened last night..."

"Well, she's separated, actually. She had planned a reconciliation last night at the party, but her husband never showed up. She just learned this morning that he was in the emergency room at Central hospital with a hernia. I believe the police have taken an interest in the matter, for some strange reason. All this could have had something to do with what happened."

And she had never said a word about it, while Harold had blubbered all over the place about his own problems.

Michael interrupted his thoughts. "But you did not answer my question. Does it bother you that she has a marriage she is trying to reconcile?"

The words were like nails being hammered into Harold's heart. "Well... shit. I guess it does..."

"Why?" Michael asked mildly.

Taken aback, Harold replied, "Well... after what happened last night I was hoping I'd found... She's an incredible woman."

"Whom you've known only a few hours." Michael finished for him. "What you found was a chance to redeem yourself, and, from what you've told me, you've done that admirably. You've totally disproved everything this Cindi person told you, yet still you are not happy. You believe that gaining the ability to postpone orgasm is the only thing that will confirm your manhood." His next words were emphasized so as to avoid any chance of misunderstanding: "Bullshit."

Harold blinked rapidly "I don't understand."

Michael sighed. "Harold, my boy, the only person in the world who can confirm your manhood is you. What is the definition of manhood, anyway? I've heard many definitions, and few of them have anything to do with sex."

"But..." Harold stammered, still confused. "You won't help?"

Michael was about to say he didn't think Harold needed any. Then he closed his mouth and thought a moment. Harold probably wouldn't listen. Michael sensed something in this young man, something he didn't see very often. Harold was obviously very intelligent, as well as in a lot of pain. He could get a lot out of life if he ever got the courage to crawl out from under his rock of self-pity. All he really needed was the right kind of guidance, and Michael never had been one to resist trying to help.

"I may help." Michael said at last. "How far are you willing to go?"

"Well..." Harold thought for a moment, more confused than ever. "As... far as I have to." he finally replied.

Michael stared at him for a long time, taking his measure. Finally, he sighed. "Very well. I have a vacant room you may stay in. You will need to move your belongings there. The room and board will be free of charge, at least for now." He leaned forward again. "Your life is going to change drastically. Just remember what you said."

Harold swallowed hard. He was no longer confused.

He was frightened.

                         --           7           --

Two weeks passed. They passed slowly, but hardly peacefully. The daytime temperature remained in the 100's, and things were heating up in more ways than one:

The Willyville Nudist Society, despite warnings from the police, persisted in their activities. Walks, swims, gardening, any outdoor activity that could be was performed in the nude in the scorching sunshine. After the first fifty busts or so, the police decided it was a lost cause and just ignored the whole thing. After all, they still had the air-conditioner thieves to catch. The nudists were easy to spot even with their clothes on, as they had tans so deep they bordered on sunburns. But then a medical segment on the local news mentioned something that put the whole thing into a new light...

Skin cancer.

Terror spread through the naturist community as fast as the phone could carry the news, and the next day the Willyville Nudist Society disbanded, only to be replaced by the Willyville Overcoat Society. That's right, every single one of the ex-nudists were bundled up in long coats and large hats every time they set foot outside. Within 48 hours the hospitals reported 19 cases of heat stroke. The doctors and nurses of the Willyville medical community were beginning to wish they had the luxury of taking long overdue vacations...

On a more positive note, the Willyville air conditioner crime wave ended in a rather spectacular way. Elmo Burns had taken a sick day from the sawmill and was busily enjoying porn in the privacy of his own home (as was his constitutional right) when he heard strange noises coming from the direction of the air-conditioner. Already suspicious, he pulled up his pants, grabbed his over-and-under shotgun, went out the front door, and snuck around to the back of the house. Sure enough, there was a man standing on a short stepladder, trying to lever the air-conditioner loose with a crowbar. Obviously, he thought Elmo was away at work, overlooking Elmo's Ford 4X4 sitting square in the driveway. Elmo figured that the subtle approach would just be wasted on someone this dumb, so he announced his presence by letting the would-be thief have it right in the ass with both barrels at close range.

Elmo's shotgun had been loaded with hand-made shells containing, not buckshot, but rock salt and bacon rinds, which had been his daddy's solution for kids who stole crops from the fields. The attack was not lethal, but the crook was still quite immobilized (to say the least) when the police arrived. The detective in charge of the thefts saw that a golden opportunity had arisen to bring this mess to a halt once and for all. He took the wounded thief downtown instead of to the hospital and directly to an interrogation room. There, being held down on a hard wooden chair by two burly officers, it took the screaming thief less than fifteen seconds to decide to roll over on the rest of his gang. Within the hour they were all rounded up, along with a small warehouse full of air conditioners, which had turned out to be a bit harder to fence than they anticipated.

The chief of police announced the news from the steps of City Hall to a cheering crowd of over a thousand sweating theft victims. But there was one small snag. Somebody asked when the air conditioners would be returned to their anxious owners. The chief paused for a second, swallowed hard, then confessed that they would all have to be held over as evidence for the trial--which was scheduled to begin in six weeks.

The riot that ensued would best be left to the reader's imagination...

---

"Oooooooohhhhmmmmmm..." Michael crooned, sitting crosslegged in the middle of the floor.

"Ooooooooohhhhmmmmmmmmm..." Harold aped, sitting in an identical position in across from him.

"Repeat after me." Michael said quietly. "Owha..."

"Owha..."

"Tajer..."

"Tajer..."

"Kiyam."

"Kiyam."

"Now repeat the whole thing." Michael said.

"Ohwa... Tajer... Kiyam..." Harold droned, eyes closed.

Michael got up a bit stiffly, and said, "I'll be back in a few minutes. Keep repeating this, a little faster each time, until I return." and closed the door quietly behind him. He limped down to the kitchen (that lotus position gets harder on the knees every year) and grabbed a couple beers.

As expected, when he got back, Harold was not chanting. Instead he glared at Michael with all the indignity he could muster. "Very funny."

Michael sat in the recliner. "That, my dear boy, was the Tibetian Mantra for Self Realization." He grinned, "Sorry, I just couldn't resist. Besides, if you really were a jerk, you would have still been chanting when I got back, and then I'd have *known* there was no hope for you."

Harold glared a moment longer, then they both broke up laughing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Harold said, "Still, it was a cheap shot."

Michael leaned forward, offering Harold a beer. "Actually, it was intended to illustrate a serious point. To wit: just because you've fooled yourself into believing something, that doesn't mean it's true."

Harold popped the top on the can, which promptly foamed into his lap. "Shit." he grunted, looking around for a towel. "You mean I've been wasting my time this last two weeks with all this meditation stuff?"

"Not at all. You are becoming quite adept at controlling your voluntary reactions and senses. You haven't complained about the heat here at all for the last several days." Now that Harold thought about it, he really wasn't feeling the heat at all. Michael continued, "In fact, I've never seen anyone advance so fast. No, I'd say you're well on your way to conquering your ejaculation problem. It's your other problem I'm really concerned about."

"Oh? And just what problem is that?" Harold asked suspiciously.

"I think you know what I'm talking about. Your insistence that you define your sexual abilities by the ability to postpone orgasm. I think you're going to find that that doesn't mean very much in the real world. What you're really lacking is confidence and self-knowledge. You need to know your capabilities and trust in them in order to BE capable. Being able to have intercourse as long as you like is a fine thing, but you're going to find that not that many women are going to be impressed by that ability alone."

Harold was shaken. "You mean this isn't going to solve my problem?"

Michael rolled his eyes upwards. "At last he begins to see the light. I talked to Julie the other day and she says-"

"You've talked to her?" Harold interrupted anxiously. "Where is she? How's she doing?"

"Calm down, calm down. She's doing fine, she just has a few things to work out. She actually called to see how you're doing. Apparently that night you shared together has affected her as strongly as it did you."

Harold's eyes became dreamy "Wow."

"Anyway," Michael continued drily, "as I was saying, Julie commented that your abilities were quite remarkable. Yet you persist in believing that you are inadequate, just because one person told you that you were. That shows a very serious lack of self confidence. Do you see what I'm saying?"

Harold thought it over a long moment. "Maybe... But how do I get this confidence?"

"You have to know yourself." Michael concluded. "And doing this is not the easiest thing in the world. You have to go out and do things. You have to explore. If you just sit around being a mass of untapped potential then you will never know what that potential is. You cannot be confident in something you do not know."

"Okay," Harold said, a bit confused, "So what's all this got to do with what's going on right now?"

"I'm glad you asked. I think it's time we tested some of that potential right now." Michael got up and opened the door. "Diane," he called. A moment later one of the most stunning women Harold had ever seen in his life walked in. "Harold, this is Diane. Diane, Harold."

Diane offered her hand and Harold took it briefly. "Hello, Harold." she said, in a low, husky voice. She stood about six inches shorter than he did, and had a lithe, well-proportioned body. Harold felt almost helpless to prevent his eyes from travelling downward, from her shoulder-length auburn hair to small, pert breasts contained in a red tank-top to long, tanned legs, very well set off by her rather brief white shorts. Suddenly, self-consciously, he jerked back up where her beautiful hazel eyes met his in a penetrating gaze. She slipped her hand from his and walked over to the window, hips swaying just the right amount to hold his attention captive. Then she turned back to him and stood there, one hand on cocked hip, fixing him again with that gaze.

Harold swallowed hard and shoved one hand in his pocket, to conceal the bulge that was growing there. There was nothing physically remarkable about this woman. All her power and sexuality was in the way she moved, the way she held herself. As Tom had often said: "It's not what you got so much as how you show it." A wave of pure lust swept over Harold. He wanted this woman more than any he had ever seen in his life, yet her self assurance frightened him, as if telling him this was more woman that he could ever handle.

Then Michael cleared his throat and the spell snapped. Diane relaxed and became a mere mortal again, leaning against the windowframe and grinning like someone who had just played a grand joke. Harold felt as if he had been doused with cold water from the inside out and the bulge in his pants quickly receded. He swallowed drily. "That's... some act."

"Thanks." She said, her voice now quite ordinary. "I always get a kick out of doing that. Before I came here, guys used to ignore me in droves. Now I can get 'em drooling any time I please. I don't do it very often, but it's nice to know that I can."

"Diane came here about four years ago." Michael said, in his best college professor voice. "Her circumstances weren't all that different from yours, in fact. She felt she had all kinds of faults and deficiencies, but her biggest problem was that she simply didn't know herself. Under my guidence, she quickly learned who she really was and what she could do." He turned to her and asked, "What was it you were doing before you came here? I forget."

She appeared to ponder it for a moment. "Oh, yeah. I almost forgot about it. I was waitressing down at Ptomaine Palace for minimum wage and living with this guy who would slap me around because he said sex with me was 'boring'. Finally the fucker ran off, leaving me with a lease I couldn't afford to pay. My fondest fantasy is to track him down someday and put his ass in the hospital." A feral gleam suddenly appeared in her eye and Harold felt a chill running down his spine. "Anyway, after the landlord threw me out a friend introduced me to Michael. After hearing my story he gave me free room and board for as long as I needed it, and lectures every day. After a while I quit resenting it and started to really listen to what he was telling me. Now, in a couple months I'll be starting my junior year at the university with a major in Engineering. And I owe it all to Michael."

"Bullshit." Michael growled, sitting back down in his recliner. "You owe it all to yourself. I just gave you a kick in the ass that got it started. No excuse for letting yourself go to hell like that. None at all." He paused for a moment. "Do you still want to do this?"

She looked Harold up and down appraisingly. "Sure. Might be instructive all around."

Harold suddenly felt very alone and outnumbered. And a little worried. "Um, somebody want to let me in on this?"

"Well," she said, walking over to Harold, "Mikey and I had a little talk last night, and I had this idea to, you know, prove just how far along you had come in conquering your little problem." She placed a hand on Harold's shoulder and traced it, feather light, down his shirtfront to his belt buckle, which she hooked a finger into and tugged gently.

Harold swallowed hard, wondering just how far he had gotten over his head here. He looked over at Michael. Michael, who had winced visibly at "Mikey," simply looked back and said nothing. No help there.

So he turned back to Diane. "Um, you mean here? Right now?"

"Sure." she said, tugging on his buckle again. "Why not?"

Then she was rubbing up against him, her arms around his neck. Their mouths met in a long, breathtaking kiss. Harold's cock was as stiff as a railroad spike, and it didn't help that Diane was grinding her hips against his. She broke the kiss and ran her tongue slowly along Harold's jawline. Planting little kisses along his neck, she slowly slid down his front, maintaining maximum contact with her hands a body all the way. When she was on her knees, her face level with his crotch, she began to work at his belt buckle.

Oh, jeez, Harold thought, as he looked around frantically. Michael was still watching, only his expression was intent. Harold got the distinct feeling he was being *studied*.

Diane got Harold's belt unbuckled, undid the snap, and pulled the zipper down. A white bulge immediately poked through, as his erection strained to be free of his shorts. His pants fell to his ankles with a jingle of change as Diane placed a hand on his covered bulge, massaging it gently while she looked up into his eyes. Harold already felt waves of massive pleasure surge up from his groin. She put her mouth over the tip of the bulge and exhaled gently. Harold clearly felt the heat of her breath on his cock, and moaned imperceptibly.

Then she grabbed the waistband of his briefs and began to slowly pull them down, uncovering his erection inch by agonizing inch. The pounding in his cock was matched by the pounding in his head as he felt the elastic drag down along the length of his penis.

Then he was free, his cock standing stiffly erect for all the world to see. He glanced over at Michael, but Michael didn't seem to be as interested in the action as he was in Harold's face. Then Harold forgot all about him as Diane extended her tongue and ran it up along his cock.

Then, without warning, she plunged it into her mouth. All the way in. While Harold wasn't exceptionally large, he had still never met a woman who could deep throat him before. The feeling was nothing short of amazing, as the warm, slick wetness of her mouth enveloped his entire cock. The feeling was intensely erotic, and Harold closed his eyes with a moan and rolled his hips as he prepared to explode into her mouth.

A sudden, hard slap rocked his face. Shocked, he opened his eyes to stare at Michael, who had bounded off his chair and stood just behind Diane. "Harold," he said quietly, "if you ejaculate in her mouth, she will bite your penis off."

At that moment, he felt a brief, sharp pain at the base of his cock as she dug her teeth in very slightly, just as a hint, before resuming her sucking with double the intensity.

Cold horror gripped Harold's heart. He had been a fraction of a second away from coming before Michael slapped him, but the slap had brought him well back from the edge. Still, Diane's oral talents were nothing short of extraordinary and it would not be very long before he was back again. She slid his cock in and out of her mouth while lightly caressing his balls with one hand. The other hand slid between his legs and began to tease his asshole with a finger. Already the pressure was beginning to build as Harold frantically thought of a way to stop it.

In the midst of panic came a voice of calm. Your training, you idiot! it said. That's it! Harold replied. He began to repeat the mantras Michael had taught him over and over in his mind. Slowly, the real world began to fade into the distance as he entered a trance. The sensations beneath his belly eased to the point where he could contemplate them or dismiss them altogether. His heart slowed and his pupils dialated as his mind entered an alpha state. Within an amazingly short time he became pure ego, floating in a sea of peace and serenity.

After what seemed a brief yet endless time his hindbrain became aware that something changed and he resurfaced to conciousness, gazing at Michael's gently smiling face. Harold looked down and saw that Diane had stopped, and was sitting at his feet, massaging her jaw.

"Jeez." she said, "Thirty fucking minutes. Nobody's ever outlasted me before." She looked up at him ruefully. "Mister, you are nothing short of amazing."

Laughing, Michael clapped Harold hard on the back, almost making him trip over his pants. He quickly pulled them up and refastened them. "Well, my boy," Michael said, "I guess I'd pronounce you cured, at least by your own standards."

Harold stood there, amazed. "I.. guess I really did it. I never thought I would."

"I had no doubt." Michael said. "You have found one solution to your problem. Not the best one, in my opinion, but a solution all the same. With practice you shall find others, I'm sure."

Harold helped Diane to her feet. He looked her in the eye and asked, "Would you really have...?"

She just smiled and said nothing.

Harold gulped and looked over at Michael. "Would she have?"

Michael just shrugged. "Beats me. And I suppose I should know if anybody would. After all, she's my wife."

Harold's jaw dropped open. It stayed that way for a moment, until Diane reached up and gently closed it. "You look cute when you're shocked." she admitted. Then she gently tugged him towards the door.

"What are you doing?" he asked, still flabberghasted.

"I think we can find a more suitable place to finish what we started..."

"But... but..." he looked over at Michael helplessly.

Michael just shrugged again, palms up. "She does as she wishes. And I wouldn't have it any other way. You have passed an important hurdle today, and a difficult one. You deserve a reward. Enjoy yourself. Both of you."

Harold was silenced, at least long enough for Diane to drag him out of there and to his well-earned reward.

And what a reward it was!

                         --           8           --

In order to prevent an armed revolt by the citizenry, the mayor did the only thing he could. He promised to drop all charges against the air-conditioner thieves on the condition they would return all the stolen property. They hastily agreed, considering that an armed mob waited outside the building to hear their decision. Since there would be no trial, all the air-conditioners were returned immediately to their sweating, cheering owners and the mayor became a guaranteed shoo-in for the next election.

The chief of police, who was recuperating in the hospital from a concussion sustained during the previous day's riot, went on record saying he would live just as long and die just as happy if he "never heard the word 'air-conditioner' again."

Though the thieves managed to save their lives by returning the loot, there was still a slight feeling of resentment against them in Willyville. Since the police had no reason to hold them anymore, they were thrown out of the station and right into the arms of the raving crowd.

Within the hour, the entire gang had been tarred and feathered. Julie's husband was among them, and Julie herself took great pleasure in assisting with the tarring and feathering, but not before getting him to sign the divorce papers. She watched as the gang was run out of town on a rail, Elmo Burns assisting with his shotgun and a generous supply of his "special" shells. A tear trickled down her cheek and she wiped it away absently. An unpleasant chapter in her life had just closed, and she knew better things lay ahead.

The next day, Bob Katt, fresh from a long vacation in the Yukon, returned once more to the KNUT Newsroom. Since the studio air-conditioning had been restored, he was appeared fully dressed, bringing the best news Willyville had heard in a long, long time.

The high-pressure front that had been stagnating over the whole area for the last five weeks had finally weakened its hold and a storm front was moving in, bringing massive thunderclouds, rain, and COOLER TEMPERATURES!!!!

A massive roar rose over the town as every man, woman, and child cheered. Bob was later nominated for sainthood by the local church. He politely declined, saying that one Church of "Bob" was enough...

---

Harold knew the moment of truth had come. There was no denying it, and putting it off would only make things worse. He had talked to Julie, who understood completely. Diane said, "Go for it!" Michael objected, saying that Harold was still placing way too much emphasis on his sexual ability, but acquiesced eventually when he saw just how determined Harold was.

There comes a time when one has to face one's fears, either to defeat them or succumb forever. But to avoid the test is to avoid oneself. On this even Michael had to agree.

Harold swallowed hard, picked up the phone, and started dialing.

---

The moon poured in through the open window, flooding the bedroom with an eerie half light. The air was warm, a pleasant 75 degrees. Perfect temperature for nudity. Cindi settled back on the pillow with a satisfied sigh of pleasure not yet faded to memory. Harold still kneeled on the bed between her knees, his erection pounding almost painfully against his belly. The moonlight spilled across her nude, fluid form, and he lovingly eyed her firm, small breasts, still hard nippled in the aftermath of her orgasm. His eyes roamed down her smooth, taut belly to the wiry mass of her pubic hair, where he had but moments ago spent so much time carefully and artistically bringing her to a powerful climax. Whatever else you could say about his performance in the sack, he knew how to give head. It was one of the skills he was especially proud of. It used to be all he was proud of.

Harold leaned forward, placing his hands on the bed on either side of her. He kissed her fully and deeply as he gently lowered his weight onto her. For a moment they simply lay there, as he savored the full body contact, the feel of her naked skin against his own. Then he raised his hips and she gently guided him into her.

For Harold, at least, no sensation in the world could ever compare to the warm, slinky feeling of penetration. He thrust deep, and her hips moved in response. His excitement towered to new heights, and his balls ached for release. Take it slow, take it slow. He kissed her again and ran his hand along her side, from thigh to shoulder, feeling, touching, loving.

He began to pump in a slow sinuous rhythm, her hips moving with his. Her legs raised and locked around his waist as her hands moved along his back. Her breathing became short and rapid, and Harold knew she was building to another orgasm. With each thrust, his own pleasure mounted to a new height until finally he poised, breathless, at the brink. Too soon, too soon...

And then he remembered. The mantra began to slowly run through his head, and he felt the pleasure fade as he began to distance himself from what he was doing. His whole body seemed to shift into an altered state, one of total control.

Beneath him, Cindi froze for a moment, perhaps in amazement that he hadn't come yet, and then she became fluid again, moving and twisting in synch with his own movements. Her breathing became rougher and louder, first becoming gasps, then cries. Harold continued to pump mechanically all the while. Cindi wrapped her arms around him, her nails digging into his back. Her hips bucked and humped, grinding against his pubic bone with every thrust. Finally, her body tensed as her moans became a breathless shriek of ultimate pleasure as her orgasm ripped through her. Gasping, she begged Harold to stop, but he wasn't listening, and a moment later she felt herself building up to another orgasm. Once again her body locked and she squeezed him hard enough to bruise ribs as the pleasure exploded in her, twice as powerful as before. By now Cindi was beyond amazement and in nirvana. And then she felt herself building up to a third...

Forty mind-blowing minutes later, Harold decided to release the hold he had on his senses and ejaculated, pumping his seed into her with a rather disappointing spasm that might technically count as an orgasm. He pulled himself out and flopped on the bed beside her, exhausted. His back and stomach muscles ached miserably and his dick felt like it had been rubbed with sandpaper, especially around the base. He turned over to Cindi, who was laying on her back with her legs still apart, eyes glazed, mumbling incoherently. He began to wonder if he had done her permanent damage.

It was another fifteen minutes before she returned to reality. She promptly rolled over and clamped onto Harold for dear life. "Oh, God!" she gasped hoarsely, "That was unbelievable! How..."

Harold grinned, trying to pry himself loose so he could breathe. "Oh, I've learned a few things."

"I'll say you have! Jesus, I'll be sore for a week! I've never *ever* had a ride like that before."

A cool breeze suddenly blew in through the window and they both fell silent, in respect for nature's sudden benevolence. Then Harold got up and began to pull on his clothes. Cindi continued talking, oblivious to everything but herself, as usual. "You know, I really didn't mean to be so hard on you before, but what's a girl to do? I mean, it's the man's job to satisfy her and if he can't do it... well..."

"Uh huh." Harold said, zipping up his pants. He began to look about for his shirt.

"Anyway," she continued, "I thought maybe if I gave you a little incentive, you might find some way to shape up. And boy, did you ever! All those guys I saw after I left you... they couldn't hope to match what you did tonight."

"Izzat so?" Harold said, finding his shirt hanging on the curtain rod. "Lots of different guys, huh?"

"Well... you know." she said coyly. "They really didn't mean anything to me anyway. They were just random flings, even the guy you saw me with at the party. I always, well, cared for you somehow. You have this sort of stumbling, immature charm that I always found appealing. You just needed to do some growing up and I'm so glad I finally decided to make you do it."

"Yep, you sure made me do some growing." Harold said, pulling on his shoes. "In fact, that was precisely what I wanted to show you tonight."

"When you called me this morning and said you wanted a chance to show me how much you improved I was, well, a little dubious. In fact, I called Frank and Tony and kinda set up a backup date in case you... frustrated me again." She closed her eyes and sighed luxuriously. "But you sure didn't. I've never been so satisfied in my entire life."

"I'm glad to hear it." Harold said. He was fully dressed now, and sat down on the edge of the bed. "This was just something I felt I needed to do. But now-"

"I know, I know." she interrupted. "You want us to get back together again. You are so predictable! Well, until tonight I really wasn't sure, but maybe we could work something out. It couldn't be exclusive at first, at least not for me, but a few more nights like that and you might just convince me to settle down... Hey, are you all right?"

Harold seemed to be suffering from a choking fit. Finally he took his hand from over his mouth and it became obvious that he wasn't choking at all, but laughing. It was a full minute before he was able to bring it under control and talk again. "You... you really are something else, you know that?" He had another fit of giggles and Cindi watched him, confused and unbelieving. He continued, "You really think... after all that... that I'd still wanna..." and off into another burst of laughter.

"What are you talking about?" she demanded, confused. "You distinctly said this morning you wanted another chance! I thought-"

"Well, I'm sorry that was what you thought, because it wasn't what I said. I wanted to prove something, both to you and to myself." Suddenly he was sober and serious again. "And I did. That was all I really wanted to do. You might as well make a date with Frank and Tony for tomorrow night, because as far as I'm concerned, we have no reason to see each other ever again."

Cindi stared at him, aghast. "What the hell are you talking about? You're in love with me, you fool! Don't you think I couldn't tell?"

"Old news, my dear." Harold got up and went to the door. "Tell you what: If you ever learn to think about anyone but yourself, give me a call. Maybe we can work something out..." and with another burst of laughter, he was gone.

Cindi got up and ran to the window without dressing. Not caring if anybody saw her, she leaned out and yelled, "Bullshit! You still love me and you know it! Admit it!"

Her only reply was the sound of a car pulling away and slightly demented giggles drifting on the wind, mixing with the distant rumble of thunder.

---

At 11:04 PM, the first lightning strikes were sighted over the forest north of town. After five weeks without rain, the woods were dry as a tinderbox, and the forest service immediately summoned all the regular and volunteer firefighters they could muster out there. The temperature dropped below 75 degrees for the first time in thirty-six days.

Thirty minutes later, black, murderous storm clouds drifted over the Willyville area, filling the sky with a spectacular lightning display. Thunder shook the town to its foundations as virtually everybody in town came outside to watch from their porches or doorways.

By midnight the temperature dropped to 65 degrees. Harold and Julie watched from the front porch of the boarding house as a single drop of water spattered in the dust at their feet.

Approximately one minute later the skies opened up with all their fury. Quarter sized raindrops hailed down in a torrent, quickly drenching everything in sight. The Forest Service needn't have worried. It was as if the sky gods were trying to make up for so many days of drought by drowning the poor, hapless town beneath them. People whooped and hollered in the streets, mindless of the soaking they were receiving. The hospitals would admit 14 pnuemonia cases before the weekend. But right now, even the (off-duty) doctors and nurses were joining in the celebration.

The people partied hard and long into the night, as temperatures quickly plummeted. They bottomed out at 50 degrees around 2:30 AM. This news was greeted by hoarse and ragged cheering. People were catching colds already.

On the boarding house porch, Julie shivered, delighting in the chill. An arm circled around her shoulders and she looked up into Harold's eyes. Without a word, she led him into the house, past Michael, who looked on with bland approval. Michael himself had a beer in one hand and his other arm was around Diane's shoulders. Pretty soon, they would be going inside as well, for a more private party. It was indeed a time for celebration.

The heat was finally over.

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