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I used to enjoy living in New York City – past tense.
But the City was on a long, slow decline even before the pandemic, making it harder to enjoy living there.
Murders jumped 40% during the pandemic. Hundreds of restaurants closed permanently. Faded “For Lease” signs appeared everywhere, block after city block, lining empty sidewalks.
Empty except for the homeless.
They knew that living in a crowded shelter during a pandemic would be downright crazy, and preferred to sleep outside and aggressively “ask” the few remaining passers-by for cash.
At the outset of the pandemic I had been in Detroit on an assignment. I misjudged the speed at which things were falling apart and ended up stranded there in a hotel for a couple of months.
I managed to return to New York during the pandemic lull in June of ’20 – but the lull was temporary, and New York then went into an even deeper lockdown, making it almost impossible to leave my small apartment. I spent day after day fielding Zoom® calls, and fighting boredom.
I even began answering Robo-calls for amusement.
I talked to a guy who tried to sell me an extended warranty for my car. Of course, living in New York City I didn’t have a car, but that didn’t stop him. He was a nice man from New Delhi with three kids, and his name was Aayansh.
There was the Russian lady who said she was from the Social Security Administration, and if I gave her my social security number she could check to see if anyone had stolen it. After all, she was pretty sure somebody had stolen it. Or was about to.
And there was the Nigerian prince — well, you know all about that one. He’s probably sent you an email, too — he’s got like $1 billion to share with anyone who will pass along their banking details.
So it was boredom that led me to answer my phone that Tuesday, when it rang with an unknown number.
“Hi” she began, “I’m calling from the Alumni Association of your college. Do you have a few minutes?”
My college? It had been years – never mind how many.
“Hello. How can I help you?”
“Well,” she continued, “we need your help. We had to refit all the dorms to make them Covid-safe. We’ve needed to buy large amounts of protective gear, and sanitizer. The Health Center has been expanded. The shuttle buses need plastic dividers.”
I thought her voice might have seemed familiar as she recounted the school’s litany of woes, but I couldn’t place it.
She went on. “We’ve lost our income from room and board since most students have gone home, and we’re subsidizing the few who have no safe place to return to. We’ve had to upgrade the IT systems to enable remote learning. Your Alma Mater needs you.”
When she got to the big wind-up I almost felt sorry for the school. But there was more — just like Aayansh from New Delhi who tried to sell me a car warranty, she had a script.
“Tell me,” she said, “do you have a special memory from being here on campus – a professor, a class, friends you made?”
She was moving in for that emotional connection that pries open the wallet.
I mentioned a favorite English professor.
“Oh yes, he passed 20 years ago, but there is a scholarship in his name, did you know that?” Umm, no, I didn’t. I suppose that made sense — that he died. He probably would have been 138 years old by now, or something. That was a little sad.
“You know,” she said, “it isn’t just the current students who are at risk. The whole school is at risk, as well as those of us who have retired. Our pensions depend upon the school’s survival. You probably remember other professors who helped you?”
That caught my ear. “I’m sorry, you said ‘those of us’? Did you teach?”
“Yes, I taught applied statistics for years.”
A shiver — and flash of recognition — went through me. Dr. Ciara.
Ciara Flannagan. Doctor. Dr. Ciara Flannagan was the only woman on the Math faculty at the time — and not that much older than most of the students.
I had failed statistics class the first time. When I took her class it was my second time around, and I had to get it right. The thing is, she was so distracting, learning was a struggle.
Slim, long strawberry-blonde hair that caught the light as it came through the classroom window, and yes, some incredible curves that you couldn’t plot on graph paper with an algebra formula. Well, maybe you could, but why not just admire them instead of plotting them? I know I admired them ever chance I got.
She was also tough, and the material wasn’t easy. I’d sometimes fantasize about her at night, alone in my off-campus apartment — but there was no time for daydreaming in class. Mean, mode, frequency, regression analysis — it was like a foreign language — and I was determined to do well.
That determination paid off — literally. Not only did I get excellent grades, but the following semester, when a paid teaching assistant slot opened up, she selected me and two others to be her assistants.
We’d all meet casino siteleri every Sunday night in her apartment to go over the upcoming week’s lessons. By the end of the semester she’d sometimes break the rules and crack open a bottle of wine that we’d all share over the lesson plans. It seemed so grown-up — but I knew that any fantasies I may have had about her were just that, and would stay that way.
I had to ask. “Dr. Flannagan? Is that you?”
“Yes, how did you know — oh wait, I see your name here — I don’t believe this — How have you been?!”
And that’s how it happened. We stayed on the phone for an hour catching up — and I even made a donation to the school. She got what she wanted. Smart lady.
A couple of weeks later I got another call — from the College President’s Office. Ciara had passed along my name, and they were inviting me to a small alumni retreat as they tried to chart a course for the college’s future.
This would be a chance to get out of New York. I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough, and rented a car at Newark airport. I headed west along the NJ Turnpike, past New Jersey’s swamps and refineries. I nodded at Jimmy Hoffa under the Meadowlands, crossed over the Delaware River, wound my way through cornfields covered with fragrant manure, and then rolled into Amish Country and the small city where the campus was nestled.
I checked in, and headed to the dorm room I had been assigned, where they had put us so we could all be socially distanced and save money — besides, they dorms were otherwise vacant.
I had forgotten how ratty dorms were. The cold cinderblock walls, dinged-up doors, communal bathrooms, and worn carpet brought it all back. The fact that the dorms were nearly empty added an element of creepiness to the whole thing.
We were scheduled to kick off the retreat at a socially-distanced cocktail party that first night in the gym with standard cafeteria fare: plastic cups of cheap wine, individually wrapped sandwiches, chips, fruit and big cookies all in a cardboard box — made from organic, recycled cardboard, of course.
People were spread out in a huge room, faces half-hidden behind masks until someone raised a glass of wine. I tried to glimpse faces to see if I knew anyone, but it was like trying to pick someone out of a police lineup, being given a moment under pressure to look and remember.
As I mingled at a safe distance I thought I saw a face that looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Since it had been, ahem, more than…a few decades since I had attended school, “vaguely familiar” was all I could hope for.
I made my way over to say hello.
She pulled down her mask to introduce herself. It was her, Dr. Ciara. Having been one of her teaching assistants so many years ago I wasn’t likely to forget her face — even many years later, and more than a few pounds heavier.
Working as her assistant deepened my interest in statistics, as well as what she might have looked like under her professional attire of white blouses, dark polyester pants, and boring bras that poked out from time to time as she plotted arcane formulas on the class chalkboard.
I blushed when she introduced herself, not a great thing to do as a pandemic swirled all around.
“Are you OK” she asked, “you seem a bit red?”
“No, no, I’m fine. Actually, I was just remembering working for you. I was one of your teaching assistants back in 1983. We spoke on the phone a couple of weeks ago — remember?” I pulled down my mask. “And I guess I can tell you after all these years. I had SUCH a crush on you. So if my face is red…well, that’s it. Or maybe it’s the wine. Or I could just be tired from the long drive. Or the mask could be driving me crazy. But I’m fine, really.”
She arched an eyebrow and seemed to glow, her mask still dangling off of one ear, like a pandemic-themed earring.
“Of course! Bob, Bob Turner! I remember you…well, I have a confession too.”
She paused. She had me, and I think she knew it.
“Care to tell me, after all these years?”
“I knew you had a crush on me. You didn’t hide it very well. I’d catch you looking at me when I turned around at the chalkboard, or looking down my blouse when we’d be grading papers together in my office. You weren’t nearly as smooth as you thought you were.”
I felt my face flush — I must have been purple by now. I made sure to look into her eyes, and not down in any way that might be, well, lecherous.
“I am SO sorry — I mean, it was 30 years ago, but still.” I tried to regain my footing.
“But it wasn’t all my fault. I mean, you were so attractive — I imagine all your male students thought the same thing.”
“What do you mean, I WAS attractive?” She was still smiling, enjoying my discomfort.
“I mean is. Are. Was, is, are…he/she/them…I give up.” I sighed. “I have always found you attractive Ciara, and yes, still do, but given the world we’re in today, I’m not sure if I can say that without güvenilir casino being cancelled, thrown out of the Alumni Retreat, or arrested. I don’t mean to offend you, or make you uncomfortable. Maybe there is a form I should fill out to continue this conversation?” My turn to smile.
She laughed. “God, what is the world is coming to. I think we both need another glass of wine. At my age I am MORE than happy to get a compliment like this. Besides, if I thought you were a jerk I’d just slap you across the face, like I would have 30 years ago, instead of crying and slinking off to some ‘safe room’ with a teddy bear, filing a report, and demanding a public hearing to reveal your ‘hurtful and misogynistic words.’ “
I had to laugh — she nailed it. “I agree — we need more wine!”
“So where did they put you up?” she asked as we walked to table with the plastic wine glasses.
“In McDaniel Hall. I think I’m the only one on the floor. I guess the good news is that I have the whole bathroom and all the hot water to myself.”
She wrinkled her nose. Her cute, freckled, tiny nose. “Ughhh. Dorms. I lived in dorms for nearly ten years until I got my Ph.D. and swore I would never go back.”
“From what I can tell they haven’t changed much, or even been painted since then.”
I handed her a second glass of wine.
She sipped her white wine and looked at me. I was careful to maintain eye contact, though I wanted to look down her blouse. “It sounds really horrible.” She paused, as if she were thinking about something. “Why don’t you come stay at my place — I mean, if your wife wouldn’t mind?”
“I am sure she WOULD mind — she pretty much ‘minded’ everything I did, from loading the dishwasher, to how I’d fix things around the house, but that’s not an issue any more — we’re divorced, going on 15 years. And your husband — I won’t crowd you guys? I’m sorry, I forgot his name, the chemistry professor…?”
“I don’t think he’ll mind, but I’m not about to ask” she said rather sharply.
“Ok…well, maybe I should just stay in the dorm.”
“No, no. I’m not going to ask him because we divorced 10 years ago, after I caught him sleeping with one of his teaching assistants. I think the vapors in the chem lab must have gone to his head — I never thought he’d fool around with a teaching assistant, let alone one on the football team.”
I almost snorted my wine through my nose, and suppressed the urge to blurt out something crass. I managed to fall back on the simplest thing I could think of. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? I wasn’t. I asked him what had gotten into him — he said he was ‘bored.’ Bored! So he hooked up with a wide receiver. So to speak. I mean, I have gay friends, I’m not like that in the least…it was just…the whole thing. After all those years. The way he went about it. And to tell me he was ‘bored.’ “
” ‘Boring’ was never a word I ever would have associated with you.”
Her green eyes sparkled. “So I guess we both have our permission slips. Do you have a car?”
“Yes, a rental.”
“Come by after the reception and you can get settled. There’s parking off the alley in the back. Can you find the house — do you remember — I’m in that row house downtown…”
“Of course I remember. You used to have us over on Sunday nights to work on lesson plans. You sure it wouldn’t be too much trouble? Although it would be much nicer than the dorm.”
“Yes and no: Yes, I’m still there, and no, no trouble at all. It will be nice to have company — since I retired I don’t socialize as much, and with the pandemic, well, you can imagine.”
It was settled. We mingled a bit more at the reception until it ended at 8. I walked back to the dorm, packed my few things, and headed to her house. By the time I got there it was nearly 9 and the sun was going down. I parked the car, grabbed my small suitcase and laptop, and knocked on the back door.
She showed me in and gave me a quick tour. The house was as I remembered — maybe a bit smaller. In the middle of the block, like a typical Pennsylvania row house, it was narrow and deep. The kitchen, pantry, and living room were on the first floor, and the three bedrooms and sole bathroom were on the second floor.
“Why don’t you unpack, clean up, and come down for a nightcap? I’ll leave you to get settled.”
She was sitting on the couch as I came down the stair — and as I did I saw the cat in her lap and let out a huge sneeze. That sneeze was probably all in my head, so to speak — but before long I’d be sneezing up a storm.
She reassured me. “He doesn’t shed much and I never let him in the guest bedroom, so you should be OK. If it gets to be too much let me know and we can figure something out.” She had given him an honorary Ph.D. in Statistics, and named him Dr. Socks.
We shared a last glass of wine and caught up as Dr. Socks purred in her lap. I hadn’t stayed in touch with any of my classmates, and most of the professors I had studied under had canlı casino moved on, one way or another. She, in turn, had been immersed in “the Academy,” a world of research, teaching methods, and school athletics, things I had very little familiarity with. Before long I was ready to turn in.
I was settling into bed, about to turn off the small bedside lamp, when there was a knock at the door.
I adjusted the bed covers. “Come in.”
The door cracked open, and she poked her head in. “I wanted to make sure you were comfortable. The cat dander isn’t too much, is it? Do you need another pillow, blanket, or some water?”
“No, no, I hadn’t noticed the cat, and everything is fine, really.”
And then she stepped into the bedroom, squeezing through the barely cracked door with her back to me. “Dr. Socks. follows me everywhere — I don’t want him to come in and trigger your allergies.” As if she was talking to him, the cat started mewing outside the door, unhappy about being shut out. “He’ll stop whining eventually.”
She pushed the door tight, turned around, and asked again. “Are you sure there is nothing you need?”
She was still wearing the boring white blouse she had worn to the reception — but she had unbuttoned it, all the way to her waist. She had taken off her bra, and her blouse was just covering the front of her breasts, her stomach bare, the shirt tails hanging down over the tight, comfortable sweat pants she had put on. I could make out her nipples through her blouse, even in the dim light of the nightstand. I knew my mouth was open, but my brain couldn’t come up with anything.
“I thought maybe you might need some ‘closure,’ as they say in pop-psychology circles. You know, all those years of trying to see down my blouse without success.” Almost casually she pulled the sides of her blouse back to exposure her breasts. “And he said I was boring. Do I look ‘boring’ to you, Bob? Is this what you were trying to see all those years ago? Still interested?”
If that wasn’t my cue, I wasn’t sure what would be.
I stood up from the bed, the covers fell away, and I stepped towards her, stark naked, to kiss her as she reached down to touch me.
“Did you forget your pajamas” she whispered, between kisses…”I’m glad…we’re getting right to the point, aren’t we…”
“Speaking of points….” I fell to my knees and kissed her breasts, making her sigh loudly. She put her hands on the back of my head and pulled me tighter against her soft breasts as her nipples started to grow hard.
I turned her and nudged us towards the bed. “Why don’t you sit on the bed, and take your top off.” She sat back, and I brushed her blouse off her shoulders. She was perfect — yes, with a few extra pounds, her breasts sagging a bit — and I wanted her as much as I did all those years ago.
I nudged her back until she was laying on the bed and kissed her again, her lips, her face, down her neck and her breasts, which she held for me as if urging me to feast on her. I licked and teased her nipples, one, then the other, then back again, until they were hard shriveled buttons and she began to squirm, as if she were rubbing her bottom on the bed.
She was telling me, without a word, to move on – so I did. I kissed down her stomach, to the top elastic edge of her sweat pants and licked her, running a finger under the band, until she nearly hissed through clenched teeth “take them off.” As if there was any doubt, she arched her back so I could pull them down, down her ass, legs, off her feet, and suddenly she was naked, her blonde-red-graying bush neatly trimmed, her pussy pouting and swollen with excitement and desire.
“May I taste you?”
“PLEASE.” She thrusted up her hips and reached down for my head, trying to direct my tongue to where she wanted it, where she needed it. When I put my face against her swollen lips I found her sopping and shiny wet.
I licked her slowly along her puffy slit from the bottom to top, but she didn’t want to be teased. Putting her hands on the back of my head she pressed me hard against her pussy, almost humping my face as she pushed her hips up to grind. I explored with my tongue, pushing her folds, fucking her with my tongue as I pushed it in and out — and then moved up to her tiny nub. She groaned “yesssssss” when I licked her clit, and ground herself harder against my face.
She was now humping my face like she was riding a horse, holding my head in place with her hands, taking what she wanted. She started to move her legs side to side, and as her orgasm built she clapped her thighs against my head harder and faster until she started cumming. I was nearly immobilized — her legs clamped against my ears, her hands on my head, jamming my firm, soft, wet tongue harder against her clit, and I heard her moan loudly just before I felt her spasms on my face. Her pussy contracted and twitched against my mouth, and with each jolt of pleasure she gasped and squeezed her legs against my ears, as if she needed something to push against.
“Oh my god…I needed that” she nearly shouted. And I was still hard — humping her leg while eating her pussy had me ready to go.
“And I need you” I said, as I placed her hand on my cock so she could feel my cock as it throbbed.
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