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A Romp in the Bramble Patch, pt. 1

Jillian Etcetera


A Romp in the Bramble Patch, pt. 1

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A bit of a short story I had intended to finish last week for nafiwriwee, but unfortunately I only typed a little over 3,000 words instead of the aim of 7,000. Here be part the first. I'll finish it... whenever the heck I feel like it. Perhaps I shall polish it up one day, perhaps not. Do you care? Didn't think so.



When I looked out my kitchen window and saw the nearly nude young man walking out of my woods, I nearly dropped my cow print mug. I did manage to spill hot tea all over my hands, however, so my gasp was one of pain as well as surprise. With a lightning bolt gesture, I grabbed a kitchen towel (covered in a pattern of little fishes) and wiped off my hand and the kitchen floor, because despite my eagerness to investigate the occurrence further, I couldn't bring myself to just leave a puddle of sticky tea on the floor. I stood back upright and peeked out of a corner of the curtain so as not to be seen through the window. I examined the foreign figure as he moved serenely over the back lawn with small, irregular steps, and could only describe the scene and the man's behavior as "weird as hell." With one hand he held up his only article of clothing - a dirty, partially decomposed grocery bag with ripped-out leg holes pulled over his "vital" areas like a nasty plastic diaper. His other hand was empty, but he seemed excessively fascinated with it, stopping to examine it every few moments with what I would call undue wonder.

He didn't quite seem to be rushing his way to the house to force the back door and ravage me on the kitchen floor, what with seeming more interested in shuffling along and stopping in random spots to explore the apparently captivating minutia of my yard. A few times he would find a place to rub his feet on the grass, sometimes followed by his rubbing his feet up and down his calves, like he was scratching them with his toenails. He might stare at his feet a few seconds, then repeat the process, or move along to his next task. My mother always told me to contemplate my navel. This guy seemed pretty keen on contemplating his feet. His hand, too.

After a while of watching the freak show, I figured maybe I had some kind of new age-y hippie weirdo to deal with, because he did a lot of staring at the sky and doing what appeared to be deep breathing exercises. Probably a flake who went down an isolated dirt road and trespassed onto some nearby property to commune with nature, shed his clothing, dropped his acid, and here were the results making an ass of themselves for my mid-morning amusement. Or else he was an escaped mental patient gone half-primitive. In any case, I reckoned I would probably be willing to sleep with the bloke if it came down to it. Hey, pickings are slim in these parts, and the dude was good looking, as well as batshit insane, which happens to be a major turn-on for a girl like me.

So, I reckoned it was time I stepped in, since he didn't seem to be getting around to wandering out of my sight, and I had nothing better to do of a Saturday than pursue this mess. I opened the door to my little back steps, and stepped outside boldly, like I owned the place and all.

"Hey!" I called in my best tough, 1950's greaser bad boy voice. "Are you looking for something?" I crossed my arms and tried not to seem shaky, which I usually am even in less nerve-wracking introductions to new people.

He looked at me with doe eyes. What a sentence, that, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to use it in this lifetime. But he was frozen in place, two saucers on his head peering at me, mouth dumbly slack, like he'd been caught raiding the cookie jar.

"I, ah, yes, I am looking for something," he said. His voice was nice - gentle, deliberate.

"What would it be, then?" I asked, dazed with human contact like the loser I am.

"Here!" he squeaked (yes, squeaked, like a boy going through the vocal changes of puberty), and his face brightened with a great, big, honking smile. Handsome, goofy son of a bitch threw me for a loop. Scantily clad men rarely happen upon my lair without my dragging them there first. And I am not generally attracted to the exceedingly smiley type, either. Yet I will confess, chaplain of my heart, that I did not want to punch him in the face, despite his stupid glee. I might have even found the moment charming, or some lame word like that.

The smiling moment did not last very long, for past its fraction of a second (all the time such smiles are usually accorded), his face dripped to a saner solemnity, and his lips smacked a couple of times with mild embarrassment and attempted recomposure of self.

I felt bad for the fellow. A little embarrassed myself, for his sake. I'd feel pretty silly bursting with emotion in someone's yard whilst being half-naked, so maybe my sentiments toward him softened. The charitable, nurturing parts of my brain started hashing out plans. My Motherly Sense was tingling. I prepared to spit out a web of kindness and hospitality to ensnare this criminal in my thick, gooey net of good and womanly works. Perhaps I would take pictures of my deeds, too, a la Peter Parker, only instead of sending them to the local paper, I'd keep them, you know, for private uses.

Brains are fast movers, and no time was elapsing at all between his explosive answer to my question and my mind conjuring up the memory of the men's clothing conveniently located in my closet. I think my mushy skull filling had decided to take in this stray pup before I had, or maybe it was, as a romantic might speculate, the intention of my fist-shaped blood squeezer. Or it was the craving, as a sex fiend might speculate, of the opulently scented wiener clamp betwixt my legs. I couldn't say.

But I had a few key articles of boy apparel in my house. They belonged to my ex-boyfriend, of whom this story shall make no further mention, but be it known I have no qualm with the man aside from our mutual incompatibility. May his life prosper with love and joy and stuff. Anyway, I kept some of his clothes that he had given me and liked to wear them sometimes. Not for paltry sentimental purposes, nor for some sick game of multiple personality disorder in which I dress as him in a twisted scheme to steal his soul through a vague occultic notion of identity theft by slipping on someone's old jeans. Though that would be fun, if the subject in question were a more interesting specimen whose soul might be desirous of slipping on. No, instead, I would wear them on days I was feeling particularly butch, and wanted to go to the grocery store dressed as a mean dyke in hope of offending a few sexually repressed Republican old farts. I don't think any of them noticed or cared.

Funny how I had no fear at the thought of permitting a disjointed stranger into my home, but I was shy about actually asking him in and inviting him to wear clothes that had my stink on them. I was hesitant in my eagerness, and did not want to blow my cool. Maybe he was a thief and a rapist. So be it. So was I, pretty much. I sure didn't want him to think I was a dork, though.

"You got clothes?" I asked him, and tried not to blush at bringing to light his state of undress.

He stepped closer. "I haven't, I'm sorry," he said, and did seem sincerely sorry about it.

"I have some stuff you can try on, if you want." I felt like such a lameass. "You can come in and put them on, and then you won't have to worry about getting arrested for indecent exposure. There are people round here will call the cops for it, you know." He listened patiently as I nervously rambled. "Yeah, some girl a friend of mine knows got in trouble for getting her mail in her underwear." I coughed and stopped myself from recounting every anecdote regarding public nudity I had in the caches of my memory. "Well, then, come on in." I gestured at the door with my head and started inside, where he followed me.

"Uh, you want a cup of tea or orange juice or something while I get them?" I am very hospitable, you see.

"Yes, please," he said. "Whatever you wish to give me." Agreeable chappie. I was so flustered at the closeness of the man being in my kitchen where there is usually no one but me, I didn't know what to do with myself or where to look. I was a mess, and moved and spoke like a zombie being controlled by an unseen master.

"The tea is still warm. Will that do?" It did, so I positioned him sitting at the kitchen table, where he took tea with the proffered milk and sugar, and he sat complacently sipping as I stepped hastily out of the room.

I forced myself to breathe as I fetched the clothes, packing down the nervous energy bubbling up inside me like a barista tamping the coffee grounds on a busy morning. To steady itself, my mind envisioned the meager amount of plastic separating the stranger's bare ass from my cheap kitchen chairs. I giggled like a madwoman, and was impressed with myself for feeling so deranged at such a simple thought.

I tried not to seem rushed and goofy when I came back to the kitchen, so I walked with deliberate slowness, cool and indifferent, oh yeah. I don't give a damn that you're naked in my house. I don't give a damn about anything.

"Here they are. They're clean," I assured him. I placed the tidy bundle (which I had intentionally folded all tidy like so he might be impressed with my tidiness and fall madly in love with me and love me right because I'm such a tidy and wonderful girl who folds clothes tidily) on the kitchen table.

He smiled at me just as sweet as sugar and said, "Thank you. I needed clothes." He kept on smiling and sipped his tea, smiling in his cup and looking at me. "I really like this. It's sweet!"

"Good," I said. "So," and here I began to get stern and serious, "how did you happen upon my property?" Despite being curious about this pretty find, and happy to have a new toy to play with, I was pissed at having anyone wandering on my land with no regard to ownership. Not that I am obsessed with ownership, but I am keen on privacy, god damn it.

He clutched his cup to his chest and said, "I came here for you. I know you. You know me, too." He took another swallow and it occurred to me that my timing for the inquisition was bad, because I hadn't given him the chance to get dressed, and now it would be awkward to make a break in this screwed up conversation to let him put the clothes on.

"How do you know me? Who are you?" It was an unoriginal response, I know, but I had forgotten to take my witty pill that morning.

"I will show you." He pushed his chair back and stood firmly, and reached his hand out to me, his other holding up his bag.

"Wait a second. How about you put on those clothes first, and then we'll talk some more?" Being logical and buying time. I wasn't prepared to take his hand and be swept away on a wild, whirlwind adventure or whatever he had in mind.

Recalled to himself, he looked at the bundle and said, "Oh, yes, I will do that. Where would you have me dress?"

I lead him to the toilet and waited. He would have no underwear, and I pondered this diverting fact instead of coping with the particulars of the situation at hand, and snickered at thinking of his unbridled package beneath the blue jeans so often worn by my person. Finally, something would be filling out that denim crotch that had for so long only known darkness and gloom.

And then I thought to myself, perhaps I ought to hope he offers me his hand again, so I can take it and see where it leads. I liked having my hand held, even if no one else knew it. I even liked shaking hands with people I didn't have too high an opinion of, because I liked holding hands so much. Like a little girl. Like a kindergartner. I listened to the soft thumping about behind the bathroom door and hoped to myself, just a little, that he would insist upon grasping my hand and sweeping me away - maybe not on a wild, whirlwind adventure (not my speed), but perhaps a shocking and profoundly moving explanation of the exciting mystery behind his presence. He dreamt of me in the night, and wandered the farthest deserts to find the dream, and all was stripped from him in the journey, all but his trusty old grocery bag.

In all honesty, I would have been just as happy if he took my hand and confessed to being a creepy stalker who'd been watching me for months. I find guys digging through my garbage and peeking in my living room window to see what I'm viewing on TV to be romantic.

The doorknob twisted, and I gave the door space to open. The clothes weren't the best fit, since the guy was more tall and lanky than the former owner. I rather missed seeing his pale flesh and little pink nipples now that they were covered up. I forgot to mention what a nice body he had. Lean, yes, but he looked strong, wiry. His arms and legs were very long, and well shaped, and his skin was white and lovely. He had a firm little tummy dusted with, oh boy does it slaughter me to remember it, the finest patch of thin black hair. His collarbone made me hungry, his shoulders made me weep, his thighs made me cringe in the best possible way to behold them. Now all these nice things were concealed from sight with the drab disguise of modern male attire. Now all I had to look at was his gaunt, friendly face sticking cheerily out of his collar.

"Can I show you, now?" he asked.

I shrugged. "Sure. Where are we going?" I was willing to play along. He wasn't a big talker, and neither was I. If he had something to "show" me, I'd have a look. One doesn't come across many people who have anything to show. If it turned out to be nothing but an elaborate ploy to flash me, I wouldn't complain. I might laugh, but I wouldn't complain.

"Outside," he said, and waited for me to lead him off.

Out we went, across the bit of bare lawn, and into the woods. We were both barefoot, avoiding stepping on the same pine cones, but he seemed better at it than me. I walked by his side and neither of us spoke. It occurred to me that I did not know his name, and had not asked it. I'm bad at that. I usually wait for other people to ask me my name first. And then half the time I'll be coy and not tell them what it is. He said he knew who I was already, so I figured he must have known my name. I didn't want to pry into how he knew me just yet.

"Say, I forgot to ask. What is your name?"

"I don't think I have one." He glanced at me sheepishly. "Well, I may have one, but I do not know what it is."

I grunted in stoic acknowledgment, and walked on.

I often wonder how other girls may have approached this situation. Many would have long ago phoned the police, and surely many people would believe me a fool for not having done so myself. It wasn't an option in my mind. I know a lot of people are keen on sniffing out danger, and I am aware of the popular concepts of what makes a dangerous sign, but I don't agree with all those notions. I wasn't afraid of this fellow, even if he didn't have a name. I was wary of him, but I'm wary of little old ladies I've known all my life, too. You never know who might go mad and savagely rip out your throat with their teeth, and in my eyes, it was just as likely to be my own granny as a loner who has lost his mind. I had no desire to involve the police in my personal affairs, and I took this as my own personal affair. I just don't much love the cops, or the social workers, or whoever authority I would have to deal with in the case of the amnesiac weirdo in my vicinity. Call me reckless, call me villainous, it makes no nevermind to me. I wasn't going to get pushy and demanding with information. I liked his feel, and that was good enough to keep my hostile attacks at bay.

He moved smoothly in the forest, gliding right past the snatching branches and twigs that caught my face and hair. He stopped in a spot, turned to me and put his hands on his hips. "Here we are," he said, looking at me with happy expectancy. "Do you see?"

I didn't know what I was supposed to be seeing, but I wasn't seeing it. The area seemed familiar, but lots of places in my woods are familiar to me. There did seem to be something somehow off about the place, something amiss, but I could not place what it was. "What am I looking for?" I asked.

"It's gone, don't you see!" He grabbed my hand and pulled me toward a cluster of small trees. There was indeed an odd barrenness about them, like something that should have been there wasn't. He put my hand on the trunk of one of the larger trees. "The brambles. Remember? They are not here anymore."

That was what it was. There had been a big, unruly bush of brambles growing here, wrapped around the bent and stunted trees. Blackberries grew here, and I would come in the summer to pick them. The bush had been huge, accumulated over a few years' healthy proliferation. Not a trace remained, except the whitened marks of the twisting, thorny stems now gone missing from the bark of the trees.

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