Sex is awful
April 22, 2013
Sex is awful when you’re too young. Its power over you is tyrannical. It can be devastating. This combined with one’s naivity and innocence make for a dangerous brew. This is a story from my book The Bicycle Thieves.
Judy, Marcus’s younger sister by a year, sometimes sat watching television with them in the O’Reilly basement. David didn’t know if she was pretty but she had an unsettling affect on him. Anytime she was around David felt butterflies in his stomach, and his mouth going dry, and a certain weakness in his knees. As much as Judy’s presence made David feel uncomfortable, he missed her when she wasn’t there. Sometimes when Marcus wasn’t looking she would rub her leg against David’s. When she was doing this, David would pretend that her attentions were having no effect on him while at the same time praying that they would never end. David did not know what to make of all of this. He couldn’t talk to Marcus about his sister and certainly couldn’t talk to his own sister. In truth, he didn’t know what to do. But in his heart he knew that sooner or later something would happen. And he was afraid of what that might be.
David loved to listen to Judy laugh at his jokes, loved to watch her shake the long black hair that ran over her shoulders. He wondered what it would be like if they could be alone. Maybe they would talk, just between themselves and not in the crowd that always existed at the O’Reilly household. Maybe they could be friends. But David didn’t like to think about maybes. It made him feel queasy.
On afternoons when the boys were playing horseshoes, Judy would watch, cheering David on. Marcus would tell his sister to shut up but when his back was turned she would smile at David, running her tongue along her braces.
“You shouldn’t talk to your sister like that,” David said when the two boys had taken off for Apache Burger. Marcus had a yen for a strawberry milkshake. Marcus was always hungry.
“Why not, she’s my sister,” Marcus said shrugging David’s remark off as inconsequential.
On one occasion Terry was playing horseshoes with the two boys. He pointed out to Marcus the attention that his sister was paying to David. Marcus complained to Mrs. O’Reilly that Judy was bothering them. Judy stomped off, banging the back door as she entered the house.
David was no longer in the mood to play horseshoes.
“He’s got a crush on your sister.” Terry pointed at David.
“Do not!” David protested.
Terry laughed and taunted David. David turned and flew at Terry knocking him to the ground, and kneeling on his arms.
“Take it back,” he cried, raising his fist above Terry’s face.
“Okay,” Terry cried. “Just get off me! My mother’ll kill me if I get this shirt dirty.”
On hot days the O’Reilly kids would wade in the huge outdoor pool that Mr. Marcus had constructed in the backyard. One day as Marcus and David sat watching television, Judy came down the stairs soaking wet with a towel wrapped around her. She retreated to the back of the basement in a location where only David could see her, and changed. Did she know that David could see her? David tried not to look but he couldn’t keep his eyes off her long and slender boy like body as she slipped out of her bathing suit. Her nakedness tied David’s stomach in a knot and made him feel sick.
“Let’s go to Apache Burger,” Marcus suggested. “I’m hungry.”
Another day watching the Loretta Young Show in the Marcus basement, Judy sat with her leg slung over the arm of a chair. Marcus had gone to the corner to buy his mother some ginger ale. David was delighted to finally be alone with Judy but he didn’t know what to say.
“She’s beautiful, don’t you think?” Judy said referring to Loretta Young.
“Ya,” David replied. “I guess.”
“I wish I was that beautiful,” Judy sighed.
David’s mouth went dry. He wanted to tell Judy that she was beautiful, that she was much more beautiful than Loretta Young but the words wouldn’t come out. Upstairs Mrs. O’Reilly dragged herself across the kitchen floor and called down to Judy. Judy’s face was wrenched into an ugly glare.
“Why did she have to get pregnant! Don’t I have enough to do?”
Judy stomped up the stairs.
One morning David sat in the living room waiting for Marcus to come out of his room. Marcus stumbled from the kitchen, a bowl of corn flakes in his hand, and still in his pajamas. Mrs. O’Reilly called him from the basement where she was doing a load of laundry.
“Jesus!” he cried. Marcus put the bowl of cereal on the floor, slid it under the couch, and stomped out of the room.
David sat alone in the room for several minutes. Except for the roar of the washing machine in the basement, he couldn’t remember the house being so quiet. When Marcus returned he turned on the television and fell onto the couch, forgetting all about the cereal.
“Go wake up, Judy,” Marcus commanded. “My mother needs her.”
“Send one of the kids,” David muttered. David resented Marcus’s tone.
“They ain’t around. She’s upstairs sleeping. Sneak in and tickle her feet. She hates that.”
Reluctantly David climbed the stairs to the bedrooms. He felt like a thief moving down the hallway. Never having been upstairs before he was not sure which room was Judy’s. He checked one room after room but each was empty. What if he walked into her room and she was naked? What would he do? Ever since that day he’d seen her remove her bathing suit, David couldn’t get Judy out of his mind. I should go back downstairs, he said to himself. This is all wrong. He entered the last bedroom.
Judy was lying in bed. A naked leg hung out from under a bed sheet, dangling over the side of the bed. David’s mouth turned dry.
“I should get out of here,” he muttered to himself but his legs would not move.
Judy began to wake up. David took a step toward her. She rubbed her eyes, sat up in bed, looked at David, and screamed. David ran. He ran out of the bedroom, down the hall, down the stairs, out the front door, up the street, up his driveway, into the backyard, and hid behind the hedge at the back of the lot. And waited.
“What have I done?” he kept repeating over and over, tears running down his face. “I shouldn’t have been there. I shouldn’t have looked. I’m going to hell! I’m going to prison! God, let me disappear!”
David waited and prayed.
“Oh, God, I’ll never go near a girl again! I promise! I promise I’ll never do nothing again.”
Hours passed. As the sun began to set and the shadows stretched out along the lawn before retiring, David slipped into his house and up to his room. And waited, laying on his bed, staring at the ceiling. Each minute seemed to drag on for an eternity. He heard Chico barking out in the street. Maybe he should go talk to Terry. But wasn’t it Terry who had taunted him about Judy having a crush on him? He couldn’t bear to be taunted again. David saw images of himself being dragged from the house and thrown in a police cruiser. He saw Judy on the sidewalk with her father, pointing at him. He heard the jeers and laughter from all the neighbours and then the weeping from his mother, and the look of sad resignation and disappointment in his father’s eyes. And then he fell asleep. When he woke the next morning and heard his mother vacuuming downstairs he knew that his prayers had been answered.