In for a dime, in for a dollar”…is the American version of an older English proverb “In for a penny, in for a pound”… first recorded in 1695, meaning once you invest in a project you must go through with it, even if it involves more expense than expected — literal or figurative (time, effort, etc.)

— The Phrase Finder, phrases.org.uk

Chapter 7

A full year after my autumn-haired paramour was gone, I was across the state in an upscale hotel bar 300 miles from home. I was there to testify next day before a peripatetic state-senate committee that left the capital to hold hearings near theaters of controversy. So were senior officials of tribes stirring the controversy — in this case untaxed-liquor sales: redskins selling firewater to white-eyes in an historic reversal of roles.

I was drinking with the enemy. They were buying.

Next day the tribal chairman told me ruefully, through an epic hangover, they hoped to ply me with enough liquor to finesse out high points of my testimony. I just smiled. Clearly he never spent time with hard-drinking union organizers, let alone newsmen.

The tribesmen were witty, good conversationalists. Alcohol and verbal fencing eased depression; I was having a good time. Since they were buying the drinks I ordered a big platter of all appetizers on offer.

Well of course I was. I carried the platter over for their selection and asked the waiter to bring them plates. That got me a razzing from my fellow drinkers, but the blondes were prettier than them. As we polished off the food, every time I glanced up the blonde who had spoken made smiling eye contact. When the food was gone my table settled down to serious drinking, planning to close the place down. The blondes got up to leave. I stood and touched the elbow of the one who had spoken. “You have to leave so soon?”

My companions razzed me about being a smooth operator. Raucous laughter when I protested I was just being polite. “Then give me her card,” the tribal chairman said. “I’ll call her!”

“Not on your life,” popped out of my mouth. More drunken laughter. The night wound to an amiable close. In those far distant days I still was blessed with a constitution that precluded hangovers. I slept well, rose on time and carried off my work successfully. After three o’clock, I had a decision to make. When I was twenty-two years old in Paris, the woman who made me a man past all unmaking said I was born to make love to women. My droll Arizona landlady once said her female friends were so attracted to me I must trail pheromones like a crop duster.

Initiating contact with a new woman always was frightening. How the tribesmen who called me a smooth operator would chuckle to see my agitation. I thought maybe the hotel’s penthouse guests-only bar was safe enough. Neutral ground, no expectation implied. So I sucked it up and called her.

Her bright smile came readily. I noticed at second glance faint age lines in her graceful neck, a slight sag under her chin, evidence she was a woman of a certain age, as the French would have it, perhaps nudging a well-tended fifty.

We settled with drinks in comfortable love seats with a view of the downtown skyline. I ordered a smaller platter of appetizers. She smiled and asked if I thought she needed her strength. One never knows I said, channeling French-language syntax. She laughed and laid a possessive hand on my knee. We munched and drank and chatted comfortably. We must have looked intimate, because it turned out one of the patrons knew me from TV appearances about the issue that brought me to this city. And knew my bosses on the far side of the state.

I kind of gulped, imagining the gossip that would fly back over the mountains. At the same time I got a kick how easily she tongue-tied the smooth-talking liquor salesman. He went away and I forgot him. She smiled at me, having maybe noted my flash of discomfort. “Let’s get out of here. I can show you my city.”

Walking through the crowded lobby with a hot-looking blonde was a sensation hard to put into words. You acutely sensed male side glances, some admiring, some envious. Early winter dusk had fallen, and with it the temperature. She moved naturally under my arm as if we had done this before. She was shivering.

She immediately gave me her tongue and suddenly it wasn’t cold anymore. Her body fitted into mine across the seat. She put a hand behind my head to hold the kiss. My hand fell on nylon above her knees. She deepened the kiss and parted her legs. There was a small static spark from the nylon as I slipped my hand up to cup her silk-clad Mons.

She groaned. A husky primal groan into my mouth, almost a growl. Once you have been privileged to elicit that sound from a woman you never forget it. I stroked gently. She groaned again.

She pulled back an inch and regarded me with wide eyes. “I was afraid if we went to your room somebody would say something.”

“This is a high-class joint,” I said. “What guests do is our own business.”

“If your room has a view,” she said, between small butterfly kisses, “I could show you landmarks from there.”

So we went back inside, arm in arm. Again the gauntlet of male eyes. Again that unfamiliar frisson: don’t you wish you were me? My room was high above the city. True to her word, she went to my big picture window. I stepped behind her and slipped my hands over her nifty little breasts. She gave a throaty chuckle and leaned against me. “What if someone can see?”

“Unlikely,” I said. “We’re too high. But we could give ’em a show…”

She stepped out of the little black dress and flipped it aside negligently. “Now my bra,” she whispered. I did that too. It joined the puddled dress. She put her hands over mine and pressed them into her. Her nipples nuzzled into my palms. She bent forward slightly, let out a gasp. “My hands! The window is cold!”

“Take away your hands,” I said. “I’ll protect you.”

She pulled my hands down to her hips. “Not yet. My nipples are on fire — ahhh. Oh, that’s so…” She backed her neat little half-slip-clad rump into me and made a murmurous little approving hum. I half-expected the old Mae West line about is that a pistol in your pocket. Instead she turned and pulled me down for a kiss. The cold window had contracted her nipples into stone points that prodded my ribs.

We busied ourselves with the rest of our clothing. By then we weren’t interested in showing anybody but each other. Maybe she was surprised when I divested her of heels and hose. I have learned in my dotage some women feel sexier like that and some men enjoy the accouterments. But I learned in Paris as a young man that nylon chafes my ribs. She didn’t complain. When I finally tasted her she was soaking wet.

Ah, she was a sweet-tasting, ardent lover. She straddled and rode me to multiple climaxes before my first orgasm. She crept beneath me for slow erotic missionary sex and dug her heels in so hard I thought I might have bruises over my kidneys. Once, thoroughly sated and on an erotic high, she got on her knees for me to drive into her from behind. I had staying power in those days, and quick recuperative powers fueled by newness and her frank sexuality. I experienced fresh delight every time she looked back, her face wild and loose with her climaxes.

Eventually we rested. She was disappointed I was scheduled to leave tomorrow. She had another early day — she was a professional hairdresser, which explained the perfection of her hairdo. She said her companion of the night before was a co-worker who had worked to make her beautiful, trusting I would call.

We did meet for breakfast. She was all put together and business-like, and glowing with that special glow. We still drew those male side-glances. The last thing she said was anytime you make it here, call me. I will drop whatever I’m doing to be with you. Can a man’s ego ever be more inflated than that? I flew home wondering if I could find an excuse to return.

*From My Iliad, available on Amazon.com. (Writing Ish’s saga, I looked “Iliad” up: defined lately as (1) a series of…events; (2) a series of exploits…suitable for an epic; or (3) long narrative in the Homeric tradition. Close enough.

Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.