Rod felt his shaved scalp prickle. Tami's allergy -- advancing? How is that possible? She already was allergic to the tiniest scrap of clothing. She couldn't even put one foot into a flip-flop.
Dr. Kantor, a tall white man of about 60 with a closely-trimmed white beard, brought out a laptop and switched it on. "We have been monitoring Tami's GSR, that's galvanic skin response, twice a week. I think you were actually at one of these sessions, as I remember." Yes, he was, once. It was a disorienting experience, seeing Tami standing on a lab table, clutching a metal bar overhead, while Dr. Kantor and a couple of assistants passed loops of fabric around her.
On the screen of the laptop appeared a close-up of the top part of Tami's body, her face down to her breasts, nipples puckered up and even harder than usual. Her arms were evidently stretched out to the side, as if they were tied to posts. The background was gray and metallic and misty, like she was in a sauna maybe. Her face was passive, eyes closed, her hair tied back. Oddly, her face and breasts and bare shoulders had a purplish tinge. In the lower right corner, a little graph that looked like an equalizer graph you see on recording equipment, low vertical bars that were a placid green.
The image was disturbing, especially when he saw Tami's breath come out in little clouds and now an insulated gloved hand drew in front of her with a little swatch of what looked like fur. The room she was in was not hot but actually bitter cold!
"This is imitation fur," Dr. Kantor said, "used because of its ability to afford warmth."
Rod was a bit angry. "She's -- cold -- "
"Yes," Dr. Abu Jamal broke in, "to accentuate the natural desire for covering, we have held many sessions in our cryogenic chamber."
Dr. Kantor chuckled, "Commonly known in the restaurant trade as a walk-in freezer. Of course, it's easier to get grant money for a 'cryogenic chamber'. During this session the temperature was, I believe, minus ten degrees Celsius."
"But -- " Rod was about to protest when he saw Tami's breathing get heavier as the fur was drawn closer to her left nipple. The clouds shot out from her nostrils, then her mouth. In the corner, the little bars leapt up into the yellow zone and then, briefly, into the red. Then the gloved hand drew away the fur and Tami heaved as if in relief. During all this time, her eyes remained closed as if she were in a dream, or maybe trying to think of being on a nice hot beach.
Now the image changed. Tami's bare feet on a block of ice! Her spread toes were very flushed. A contrast with the heavy boots and pants around her. Again, a mere wisp of fake fur was placed near her foot by a gloved hand. The toes spread even more and twitched. He supposed it was an allergic reaction, but one also imagined the freezing toes were agitated and frustrated by the presence of something they so desperately craved.
"I hope she was all right," Rod said.
"Of course," Dr. Kantor said. "You know, of course, that Ms. Smithers is acclimatized to the cold. We were in that chamber for only fifteen minutes."
Now the image changed again to a rainy forest scene, melting snow here and there. The researchers stood in their lab suits and coats, safely dry under umbrellas, as the naked girl carried a large rock on her shoulder up an incline leading to the huge trunk of a tree. It was clearly a strenuous task even for someone of Tami's strength. Rod thought of some guy from Greek mythology, he forgot who, carrying a rock up a hill. Sisyphus? Atlas?
Tami leaned forward under the strain as her bare feet, covered with mud and small twigs, carefully scaled the hill without slipping. She had been out in the rain for a while; her hair was soaked and plastered to her back. Despite his concern Rod could not hide his admiration for the perfectly toned, evenly tanned body, sleek and wet in the rain, and his great luck that this most gorgeous of female creatures should be his wife.
Now another image, the same scene, only this time Tami was carrying a somewhat smaller rock, with a cloth tied around it. She struggled more up the incline this time, then straightened up as if arrested from behind and dropped the rock in front of her. She breathed heavily, her concave tummy heaving in and out as the rain continued to pour onto her hair and drip from her chin and her nipples.
"I think you can deduce what is happening here," Dr. Kantor said, putting the video on "pause". "Tami has an allergic reaction to clothes, as we know. This has been carefully monitored. There have been fluctuations which we first could not explain, but turned out to be due to barometric pressure, academic stresses, even to an extent sunspot activity. But even taking these into account, in the past few months the GSR reactions have gotten noticeably more intense, as well as the loss of strength when cloth approaches her."
"Let me ask you, Rod." Dr. Abu Jamal said, calling Rod by his first name for a change, "Have you noticed any... changes recently."
"Um, no... Wait, yes. One time, a few weeks ago, she tried to touch a towel when coming out of the shower and it was, like a shock. She had to drop it. She said the towel felt like fire."
The two Chalfont doctors looked at him as if expecting to hear this, and expecting more.
"Also, she felt sick and didn't want to sit on the couch. She felt better sitting on the tile floor in the kitchen."
He looked at the still picture on the laptop, Tami standing upright in the rain, looking down past her dripping nipples and muddy feet to the cloth-covered rock in front of her, in front of the clothed researchers. As he continued looking at this freeze frame, he decided she appeared to be in the middle of shrugging her bare shoulders.
"Tami doesn't look too concerned there," Rod said.
"No, she seems to enjoy being naked," Dr. Kantor said. "As you know, any sense of shame was burned out of her long ago, at least to all appearances."
"She doesn't think of herself as naked," Rod said. "She thinks of her hair, that her hair is her clothes." He forced himself to add: "Even her... pubic hair, she thinks she's covered up down there."
Like Brigid, the majorette in those crazy dreams he'd been having. A "uniform" consisting only of tiny circlets barely covering her nipples, a minimal G-string below, skimpy sandals, yet feeling fully dressed and proud to wear her Tunemasters uniform. A modest girl who seemed to have no idea how naked she was. He had been trying to interpret those dreams. Brigid clearly symbolized Tami, and now he saw a similarity. Naked yet not an exhibitionist, in a world of clothed people. Brigid doing difficult twirling routines in the freezing cold while damn near naked, with everyone else's uniforms affording full coverage and with thermals underneath. Tami doing grounds crew work naked and barefoot in the wind and rain while people around her trudged by in their overcoats and boots.
He knew these doctors, at least some of them, were psychiatrists too, and had a fleeting thought of asking them these dreams could mean, what they might say about his own hopes and frustrations and desires.
Dr. Kantor interrupted Rod's thoughts to say, "It's natural that Ms. Smithers would think her hair was her clothes. Seems like a reasonable adaptation, or perhaps rationalization. Young women tend to, if anything, obsess on clothes. They care about how their bodies are adorned and presented to the world. We tested Tami's psychological makeup and it is basically that of normal young woman, so she would be no different."
Dr. Abu Jamal broke in. "But the Chalfont Institute bears a heavy responsibility for the incredible misfortunes that befell Ms. Smithers in her freshman year." Rod could not know this, but at the moment the Pakistani doctor was thinking of how he probed and examined Tami's anus and pussy with Dr. Harridance as she lay spread-legged and naked on that cold steel table in the bright clinical light of Lab 13 upstairs, the terrified and mortified young girl afraid to protest or let slip any evidence of her burning shame. He had never gotten over his guilt and to compensate he was determined to get Tami's allergy cured. In fact, it was he who kept ordering Dr. Kantor to press onward even though no progress was being made. "Ms. Smithers may be happy as a naked woman at Campbell - Frank, a rather protected environment, but she will be under a crushing disability after she graduates."
"Yes." Tami could not fully see that, or maybe was pretending not to see that, but Rod could. He was glad the doctors and he were on the same page.
"It's not just cloth," Dr. Kantor added. He hit a few keys and now the laptop showed a bizarre scene. Tami, standing up on the table, arms at her sides, with a series of metal hoops encircling her, apparently supported by a metal post behind. The hoops were open-ended, the first around her head, then at six-inch intervals, the lowest around her ankles. As Tami stood there in her nakedness, eyes closed, someone twiddled knobs at a console and the hoops slowly closed around her, touching her skin, then opened again, at a regular pace, maybe once a second. It looked like she was being zapped with current, a strange electrocution torture, though her face remained impassive and she stayed motionless.
Now Dr. Kantor typed something and the equalizer bars appeared in the lower right again. They rose almost up to red as the hoops closed, then relaxed to green as they opened.
"You certainly have measured her carefully," Rod said.
Dr. Kantor did not detect the hint of venom in Rod's voice. "It's very important, from a treatment perspective, to get accurate readings. Fortunately Tami's lack of modesty makes it easy to... well, I know I'm sounding like McMasters..." The white professor blushed in embarrassment.
Rod let the silence punish the man for a few seconds before he decided that it was unfair. Kantor hadn't been involved in the McMasters horrors. Tami had once told him so. What they were putting Tami through was with the best of intentions. "You mentioned treatment."
Dr. Abu Jamal said, "It appears that Tami's allergy is to anything covering her or fastened around her, not just to fabric. This indicates that the allergy is not physical but psychological."
"Well that's clear isn't it?" Rod said, challenging them. "How can you treat her if you don't know the cause of the allergy?"
Dr. Abu Jamal and Dr. Kantor looked at each other and then at Rod.
"Actually," Dr. Kantor said, "we now think we do."
"This is good coffee, thank you," Rod said. Indeed it was. Better than that swill he had to drink at the trailer.
The three of them -- Rod, Dr. Abu Jamal, and Dr. Kantor, were sitting in the lower part of Dr. Abu Jamal's spacious office, in elegant upholstered chairs around the little table upon which Dr. Abu Jamal's secretary, an older woman named Grette, had placed the coffee set.
"As you pointed out," Dr. Abu Jamal said, "Tami's allergy is psychogenic." Rod felt strange. He did not doubt the sincerity or good intentions of these men, but it was odd for the three of them to be sitting here, in their business clothes, in this elegant setting, discussing their proposals on what to do to a naked girl, someone who did not have a stitch of clothes or shoes to her name.
He pushed these thoughts aside as he forced himself to listen as Dr. Kantor took up what was evidently a well-rehearsed presentation. "The allergy certainly has something to do with the trauma of her freshman year. Tami seems on the outside as a normal girl, I mean young woman, but there is something about her that is unknowable, hidden. Almost Sphinx-like. This is perhaps what everyone senses. I believe it is not simple projection on our part, but an objective reality. In other words, it's not us, it's her. She really IS a little like a Sphinx."
Rod nodded. It was good to know someone else felt the same way.
"The extent of the shame and mortification that Tami endured is almost beyond the comprehension of a normal person. Imagine being brought to orgasm against your will, and forced to look someone like Henry Ross right in the eye at the climactic moment." As Dr. Kantor spoke, Rod remembered that DVD, and closed his eyes and shook his head. "And that is aside from the shame of being forced to walk around naked in public, and on top of that, not being able to show any sign of being shy about it."
"Yes, I know, I know." Rod did not want to be reminded of Tami's trauma, which only reminded him of his guilt at being so blind to it and possibly increasing it unwittingly.
"How could that not have something to do with her allergy?" Dr. Kantor asked rhetorically. "Perhaps it is evidence of a defense mechanism. Either a form of suppressing the shame, or adapting to it, a kind of 'sweet lemon' reaction."
"The opposite of 'sour grapes'. 'I'm given this nasty fruit, but actually it's pretty good.'"
"One obvious piece of evidence in support of the 'sweet lemon' theory is her interest in fashion, in designing clothing, even though she can never wear any."
"I think she would admit that. The, uh, psychodynamics are real obvious." Rod felt pompous using such a word, but in this company it seemed fitting.
Dr. Abu Jamal said, "One can also deduce, perhaps, psychic pain from her orgasmic capacity and frequency, which we understand is quite incredible."
"What?" This was hard to follow. "She comes so much because she's in pain?"
The Director of the Chalfont Institute stirred his coffee, sipped it, and set it down. "I speak as a man. Tami has, quite in abundance, the gift that women have for multiple orgasms. I've always been quite jealous of that capacity that women have."
Rod nodded. He barely knew these men, had nothing in common with them, except of course that they were all men. Maybe that explained why they seemed to be, surprisingly, on the same wavelength as he.
"Forgive me for being so intimate, but a man experiences orgasm, ejaculates, and then is quiescent, unable to go further. But women... I ask you to imagine experiencing such an intense climax, and then, a few seconds later, experience another one just as intense? And yet another, a few seconds after that?"
Rod, a little embarrassed, looked down as he nodded.
"I simply cannot imagine how that must feel, after the intense and final catharsis, to continue to be aroused and experience another explosion of pleasure, another final catharsis." Dr. Abu Jamal, stilted and formal, was getting downright eloquent and flowery. Indeed he had always felt a little jealous of Tami's orgasms, a jealousy that competed with guilt knowing that so many of them had been unwanted. "It seems to me like eating a huge chocolate bar, then another, then another. After one bar, I would not want anything sweet for a while.
"But even among multiply orgasmic women, Tami is special. Understandably, given her past, she does not like her orgasms to be counted. But we are aware that there is a small, shall we say, club of female undergraduates who devote themselves to her pleasure."
"Yes, I know," Rod said. He decided to volunteer information which might be helpful. "They're called the, uh, Tami Lickers. Or the 'TL's' for short."
Dr. Abu Jamal and Dr. Kantor nodded, as if they already knew.
"At any rate," Dr. Abu Jamal continued. "We deduce that Tami experiences perhaps thirty orgasms a day, each one considerably longer and more intense than is reported in the literature as average. It could be that her unfortunate imprisonment in the equipment in Lab 6 increased her desire and her capacity. But maybe there is something else going on. Maybe after the chocolate bar, she eats something salty or bitter, so that the next chocolate is welcome, and then she eats something salty again, making her desire another chocolate..."
"I don't follow you."
"Maybe Tami suffers constant, if unconscious, psychic pain. Pain caused by the memory of her freshman year, or perhaps by frustration at not being able to wear clothes, or ongoing shame at being naked which in fact was never burned out of her, which in fact continues to this very day. That would be the salt. And each orgasm is a relief from that pain. That would be the chocolate. Another woman would get to a certain point and say, 'OK, enough orgasms.' But Tami still wants more."
Rod shook his head. "I find this idea of 'unconscious pain' hard to believe."
"As you walked to this meeting this evening," Dr. Kantor said, "you were not conscious of your feet stepping forward, one after the other. Just as one can perform physical actions without being aware of them, one can think thoughts, or experience feelings, without being aware of them."
After pondering this, Rod said, "So you think her capacity is an attempt to get rid of the pain, like an alcoholic who drinks to, uh, banish some memory."
"Not a conscious attempt, but an attempt. Another analogy is, an average woman versus a drowning woman. The average woman paddles as she swims. Each paddle is an orgasm. The drowning woman paddles much faster. A lot more orgasms."
"You think Tami is... desperate, trying not to drown?"
"Unknown," Dr. Kantor said. "Only in-depth psychoanalysis would reveal her inner dynamics. They would be brought to the surface and she would become conscious of them. And that is the comprehensive key to treatment. Find out how her freshman year trauma caused the allergy, and you likely find the solution to curing it. But we dare not. We just dare not."
Dr. Abu Jamal said, "In the course of therapy one would rip away Tami's defenses. In a sense those are her only remaining vestige of clothes and we would be stripping her even of those. She would once again feel all that shame from her freshman year, a shame that obviously she has suppressed. And what if our guesses are wrong, or there is more going on than we thought to address, and the allergy does not abate at that point? Tami would be naked and ashamed of being naked -- and still not able to put on clothes."
Dr. Kantor said, "To use a surgical analogy, you don't cut someone open unless you know you can sew her up again. Psychotherapy would be a disservice to Tami because we are not sure we have the sutures to sew her up. At worst she would end up a frightened, dysfunctional creature, possibly descending into psychosis, desperately trying to put on clothes she cannot touch without an anaphylactic reaction." Rod had heard that word before used in connection with Tami's allergy. A person could die from an "anaphylactic reaction".
He remembered buying Tami that expensive dress, early in her sophomore year after Ross had left and Jorgon had gotten fired and she was freed of having to pretend she was a nudist. And Tami's pitiful, pathetic reaction as she told him for the first time that she had developed an allergy. "Clothes... please God... clothes..." she had whimpered, falling to the floor and stroking the forbidden fabric. Now, he pictured her in a padded cell, unable to wear a strait-jacket, flailing about, out of her mind, eyes rolled back in her head as she screamed herself hoarse as doctors in their coats and suits watched helplessly through the little window. "CLOTHES! CLOTHES! PLEASE! CLOTHES!!!"
He shook his head quickly, trying to shake this horrible image from his mind.
Dr. Abu Jamal let this sink in before he said, "You understand, Mr. Sykes, why we asked you not to disclose to Tami the content of this discussion."
The three men sipped their coffees, changed their crossed legs, adjusted their pants and jackets, looked down at their shined shoes, and contemplated the plight of the nude girl.
Finally Rod said, "So what remains?"
"There is a possible behavioral explanation for her allergy," Dr. Kantor said, brightening a bit. "An explanation that was staring us in the face but we did not see it until recently. The explanation involves simple classical conditioning. It is like Pavlov and his dog."
"What?" Rod thought he remembered this from the intro to psych course he took as a freshman but he wanted to be sure.
"A dog salivates when it sees food nearby. Professor Pavlov rang a bell whenever food was about to be given. Ultimately the dog salivated when it heard the bell, even though no food had appeared."
"Think about Tami's experience. She comes to Campbell-Frank as a freshman, clothed and insecure. A year later she is popular, loved, by you especially, amazingly creative, getting straight 'A's. And naked.
"From what we know of her early interviews with us, before the second week of her freshman year, she was clothed, she had no sex life except for very occasional masturbation. Now, she has what appears to be a fulfilling sex life with you, and a small army of friends whose sole purpose in life is apparently to give her as many intense orgasms as possible. Clothed, no sexual peaks. Naked, she has dozens a day."
Rod looked down at the coffee set. "I see what you mean."
"She has associated nudity with love, nudity with scholastic excellence, nudity with creativity, and above all, nudity with sexual pleasure."
"Not just sexual," Rod pointed out. "She gets a lot of pleasure feeling the ground underneath her bare feet, the wind against her breasts... Her bare skin touching everything around her." He smiled with a bit of embarrassment. "I'm jealous, tell you the truth. This sounds wack, but I wish I could go around naked too, roll around in the grass like she does. So long as no one sees me."
They all laughed, which broke the tension.
"Our theory," Dr. Kantor then said, "is that the allergy represents the contrapositive of this association."
"The -- what?"
"Given a statement, 'If A, then B', the contrapositive is, 'if not B, then not A'. If a statement is true, then the contrapositive is always true."
"Oh." Again, a vague memory was triggered, maybe from high school algebra.
"Meaning," Dr. Kantor said, "that Tami associates nudity with pleasure, and has extended this to associate clothing with pain. Hence, the allergy to clothes. If the, as you say, the 'TL's', have been especially active and successful lately in their attempts to drive Tami to greater orgasmic heights, this would also explain the recent advancement of her allergy. It has only strengthened the association and hence the contrapositive reaction."
This was a lot to absorb. But after chewing this over, Rod said, "Thatís irrational. Tami could be clothed and still have my love, and be creative, and have orgasms and all that stuff."
"Yes, but irrational does not stop something from being effective, at least not in classical conditioning. Let's say you were Pavlov's dog. Or that we devised an experiment where, I don't know what you like, say it's a steaming hamburger."
"That'll do." Rod was in fact getting hungry.
"And we sounded a bell just before it was served. You would eventually react like Pavlov's dog did, salivating, or maybe your nostrils flaring, just at the sound of the bell. You would say to yourself, 'this is silly', but the bell would still sound and your nostrils would still flare."
Rod thought for a moment. "I think this, at least, we can tell to Tami."
"True," Dr. Abu Jamal said readily. "From this point on, I want you to explain to Tami everything we are about to discuss. If she wonders why we called you here alone, tell her it would be awkward and perhaps impolite to discuss conditioning her with her sitting there." He pointed to another chair next to them. Rod pictured Tami's nakedness sitting on that chair, her bare butt on the cushion, a contrast to their full sets of clothes, her bare toes maybe idly grabbing the coffee table. He thought of her reaching over with her toes and caressing his dick through his pants. This got him hard and then he had to shift in his chair.
He sensed they were finally getting somewhere and was eager to learn more. With a touch of raillery he said, "What's the plan, gentlemen?"
"Break the connection," Dr. Kantor said. "Get her to associate clothing with pleasure. Put clothes on her while she is experiencing orgasm."
"Sounds straightforward enough."
"It's not a sure thing. There might be an unexpected interaction with some deeper psychodynamic which would even make the allergy worse. Also, even if, as we expect, it is straightforward, it will not be easy, because both elements of the association are extremely strong. Tami's nakedness has been utter -- possibly nobody in the history of the human race has been so naked for so long, in relation to the person's surroundings, a nude in the middle of a world of the clothed, often HEAVILY clothed, as when she walks barefoot and naked through snow in the middle of the campus. And Tami's orgasmic pleasure has been so great as to be perhaps unique. It is off the scale."
Dr. Abu Jamal got up to his desk and came back with an oversize leaflet which he handed to Dr. Kantor.
"As you know, when we discovered that Tami's consent to the experiments in Lab 6 had not been properly obtained, we destroyed all the records we had made of those experiments. This included brain wave studies done during her stages of arousal and climax. To emphasize our contriteness we gave the floppy disks to Tami personally -- we were still using floppies at the time -- and she did the erasing herself, in this very room." Rod looked over at the computer next to the desk. "But one record of her responses does survive: the replication experiment she volunteered to do when she heard our accreditation was in danger."
Rod remembered that, the airplane trip to Chicago, the brightly lit stage with the dildos, Tami heaving into ten orgasms surrounded by the rows of professors taking notes, during the climactic moments looking up at him for support with mixed feelings of love and shame.
As Dr. Kantor opened the loose leaf, Rod said, "You folks owe Tami a hell of a lot of thanks."
Dr. Abu Jamal said, "It is not an overstatement, Mr. Sykes, to say that we would sacrifice our professional reputations for her if required."
"See this chart," Dr. Kantor said. "These are Tami's delta waves at plateau, orgasm, plateau again, orgasm again... Delta waves are 'pleasure waves', as has been shown in a variety of contexts."
"Like when eating chocolate?"
Rod meant this as a little joke but Dr. Kantor said, with a straight face, "Actually yes. Chocolate studies have been done... During this plateau/orgasm series here, see how the delta waves were particularly prominent. This was during --" he pointed to another squiggly line in the chart, lower down, "a certain type of clitoral and Graffenberg spot stimulation."
"It would probably be more effective, from a brute force standpoint, to work on the 'pain' end of the association, giving her electrical shocks when naked and stopping them as she puts on an article of clothing. But that would be inhumane and besides, we want to her to be free to be naked when she wants. We propose instead to work on the 'pleasure' end of the association. If clothing could be introduced exactly during that time, perhaps just a small article at first, then taken away as stimulation ceased, then introduced again -- "
Rod suddenly sat up. "You're not suggesting strapping her into that -- Lab 6 -- thing --"
"We would hate to do that," Dr. Abu Jamal said. "Lab 6 has been boarded up for three years. The equipment has been disassembled but is still there. It probably is not a good idea anyway because in Tami's mind the equipment has a bad association of its own. But it occurred to us that such a mechanical process, the thrusting of dildos into Tami's vagina and rectum, and the suctioning of her nipples, is too crude for the split-second timing and delicate manipulation of her genitals that would be required."
Rod swallowed and said, "I will... perform with her if that's what's needed."
"Actually, more than one set of tongues and fingers will probably be required. Tongues and fingers that are intimately familiar with every nuance of Tami's reactions..."
By the time Rod came home it was almost ten o'clock. He was really hungry now and hoped there was enough in the refrigerator to put together a sandwich. Also he needed a full stomach to think about the mouthful Drs. Abu Jamal and Kantor had said at Chalfont and think about what to tell Tami.
He came in to the kitchen and Tami was at the table, sitting at it instead of on top, dawdling over a cup of tea. When she saw him she came up and hugged him. She seemed sad. They separated and she held his hands in front of her. Then she brought her limber leg up and placed her foot on top, grasping over his hand with her flexible toes.
Rod looked down and playfully and made the standard chimpanzee sound when Tami used her feet like hands. "Ooo ooo ooo."
Tami smiled wanly and looked down at her toes. Rod gave her toes a closer look and his eyes widened.
On her third toe, where the wedding band used to be, was a tattoo!
It was exquisitely made, evidently done at that place in town. It was in the shape of a ring, taking up the area formerly hidden by the band. In spiderly but flowing words it read across her toe, "I belong to Rod," with a heart.
Rod tried to form words but couldn't. Getting a tattoo, marring her perfect nudity, was always one thing Tami was against. As was he.
"I just had to, Baby," she confessed through moist eyes. "I want the world to know I'm married to you but I can't wear that ring even for one minute now. It burns like fire. And I can't wear a ring on my finger either. Not even a little necklace. Baby, I don't know what's happening to me!!"
On the morning of April 4, Tami and Rod woke up at the same time, Tami on the hardwood floor, Rod on the bed. Though it was before sunrise the bedroom was bright and silent. They knew what it meant. Wordlessly they padded to the bay window and saw the white mounds and valleys, the fluffy white cotton balls encoating the recently sprung buds on the shrubbery, luminous in the predawn light.
The April blizzard, a yearly tradition up here in the Vermont north country.
As Rod watched, Tami slid open the glass door and stepped out, her bare feet silently and effortlessly fluffing through the soft white stuff. Rod crossed his arms, shivering in his pajamas, as his wife strolled nakedly and languidly through the drifts, at one point up to her thighs, as relaxed as if she were sauntering along a warm beach. Then she sat down in the luminous snow. Tami had no fear of being naked in the snow, she knew that it was harmless for short periods, plus she had built up a resistance to the cold far greater than a normal person's. Still, Rod cringed as he imagined the tiny flakes pressing up into her pussy and her little brown-skinned sphincter.
Now she lay back, and stretched herself out into an 'X'. She seemed in position to make one of her 'snow angels' but for her mood. The snow was so deep that he could only see the tips of her breasts, disembodied nipples poking out from behind the drifts.
Tami had gotten to love playing in the snow. She was a great one at throwing snowballs at friends on campus, a long left-handed sidearm delivery that would reach a surprised Trent or Gretchen from halfway across the quad, before laughingly running away from any counterattack, her toes kicking up bits of white behind her. Or spending half an hour hefting rolled-up white boulders across the field in front of the art building, painstakingly building a snowwoman (always a female, with breasts and a "V" below) while half the campus walked by.
But now she seemed almost like she was lying down in the snow to die. It was very unsettling.
She had been depressed since he came back last night and showed him the tattoo on her toe. Giving her the Chalfont doctors' explanation for her allergy improved her mood a little, but just a little. She must have been aware of the advance in her allergy over the past few months, and it was touching that it began to concern her only when it meant she could no longer wear her wedding ring. But she had gotten to love being naked and the prospect of a program to get her back into clothes did not seem to excite her much.
Maybe she sensed that the doctors had told more to Rod than he let on. A couple of months ago she said they were holding back on her. Maybe she was still sensing that. Hence the lack of any relief as to a theory of her allergy finally being disclosed.
Rod was so lost in his thoughts that it gave him a start to see Tami rise out of the snow, like a corpse coming to life. The sun was rising and the pale light graced her bare shoulder and hip as she approached. Her head down, she padded back to him, then hugged him, the snow on her bare skin chilling him as it melted through his pajamas. Then she knelt down and without closing the sliding glass door behind her, took his limp dick out of his bottoms and started sucking him.
He wanted to tell her to stop, she was doing it so joylessly. But her technique was so good, and it occurred to him that she was sucking him as therapy for herself as well as for his pleasure. Maybe as a kind of recompense for not being able to wear the ring that bound her to him. Though of course that was not fair. The tattoo around her toe was far more permanent that any ring that one could slip off.
Rod looked up at the snowy back yard, the trail incongruously made by bare feet, breathed in the cold air, looked down past his wife's head at the bits of snow stuck to her bare butt cheeks, and rose up and deposited a full load of semen down Tami's throat. She gulped it down to the last drop and kept sucking until the last, weak spasms, then took his softening, floppy dick out and kissed it. She got up and hugged him again and he felt about to cry.
He followed her as she went to the kitchen. Even though it was morning, she popped open a can of Naragansett, the cheap beer she knew from Providence that for some reason one could buy at the supermarket up here in Campbell County, Vermont. She sat in her usual cross-legged position on top of the table as she sipped it.
"I can't lie to you, Baby," Tami said, looking down at her nipples, wet with the melted bits of snow, "I have a feeling something bad is about to happen. I can feel it in my nips."
She could pick up barometric pressure with her nipples, it had long been clear. And could sometimes pick up other people's thoughts with them. But foretelling the future was a new ability.
"Like what?" he felt compelled to ask.
"I don't know." Another sip. "I don't feel well. I think I'll call in sick today."
Tami had always been driven by a work ethic and the need to impress. Kind of like he was, though with him it was the words his parents had brought him up with, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- "burn the midnight oil", "I hate being even one minute late". With Tami, he took it as an expression of Catholic guilt, original sin. So this calling in sick was unusual. He felt like she wanted to be alone for a while. So after sitting around a few moments, he got showered and dressed and went to work.
The return of snow brought the return of Yvette, once again having broken up with Pierre, once again dancing at Teaser's and calling up Tami's house, this time without getting into trouble and leaving it for Luci the manager to call.
"Um, OK/. Sure," Tami said. It was after supper and she and Rod were sitting around glumly watching T.V., almost as if waiting for the bad thing that Tami had predicted to happen.
Yvette needed a place to crash tonight but was not in crisis. She simply needed time for a callback from a friend in Montreal she could stay with. Now that she was in that kitchen again, the kitchen she had such fond memories of, she felt a little guilty, like she was intruding. There was no atmosphere of gaiety. Tami the Naked Girl, the girl who was allergic to clothes, seemed preoccupied, depressed. Even her big brown nipples seemed to droop down a little, not stiff and perky as usual.
Fortunately Tami's coffee was as terrible as before.
"Oh, sorry," Yvette said, as she coughed upon the first sip of the bitter, grounds-filled fluid and spilled it across the table.
Tami looked at her for a moment and then giggled. It was good to see. She reached over with a napkin and cleaned up the spill, her breasts jiggling and dancing as they pointed downward.
After she was done Tami said, "You look better than last time."
"Much. Partly because of you. Merci. My dancing is better now too. I think I like it."
Tami began to roll her eyes but then corrected herself. "OK.
"Want to see my new costume?"
Tami hesitated but then said, "Sure." Yvette found herself back in that bathroom, with the big enema bag near the toilet, and remembered her first conclusions as to how weird this naked girl was, the enema bag, the smell of vomit that she attributed to Tami being bulimic but later realized had been her own, seeing the naked white girl in a kitchen full of black people.
In a moment she was out in the kitchen, proudly showing off what she wore at the beginning of each set. A lacy black bikini top, a black g-string with feathers that stuck out from the waistband, and over it, a sheer red baby-doll cape. On her sock-ess feet were high heels with clear glass soles. Yes, a typical outfit for a topless dancer, but she liked to think of it as a bit classier than the usual.
As Yvette stood there, tottering on the high heels, hands on her hips, her 32B breasts stuck out just so, Tami applauded. And then, her expression getting more serious, looked Yvette up and down and walked around her, eyeing her from every angle. It was a little disconcerting. At first she thought Tami was getting turned on. Some of the other dancers had made lesbian advances and she still didn't know how to deal with it. She didn't dare tell Pierre -- having a threesome was one of his announced fantasies and if he got wind of it, well he could be quite overbearing when he wanted something, especially something sexual. It still hurt a little when she swallowed, from that time he forced his dick into her mouth.
But then it seemed like Tami's interest was more clinical, like a doctor doing an exam. And it was odd being in this skimpy outfit and yet feeling so dressed next to Tami's utter nakedness. She looked down and saw Tami's strong, tanned bare feet next to her pale white toes strapped into the high glass heels. And looked sideways at Tami's plum-colored pussy hair next to her g-string with the feathers and the baby doll over it. Even at Teaser's you weren't allowed to take off your bottom, though some of the girls cheated in the lap dance booths. Yet Tami went around bottomless all the time, in public no less.
Tami touched the feathers and said, "If you don't mind," and cinched about an inch of the waist band between two fingers. "Does this fit better?"
"Why, yes." The g-string was a little awkward. She thought that was to be expected. But with it taken in like that, it fit her like a second skin.
"I think the bra could use more room in the cups, and a smaller band." She let Tami's fingers gently tug at the lace so that her breasts jiggled a bit.
"Oh that's a shame, this cost a hundred dollars."
"What! Oh... a hundred Canadian?"
"You don't have to buy another. This can be altered. Look, why don't you let me do it? I can do it tomorrow. You can stay another day."
"Merci. Thank you."
Tami looked up at the clock. It was seven and getting dark.
"Cold outside," Yvette said. As if Tami wouldn't know.
Tami looked down at her nipples. "Yes, it's going to be clear and cold the next few days. Below freezing." She looked at Yvette with a smile. "I bet Homer's flooded the rink. Want to go skating?"
"What? Skating?" She looked down at her glass heels, then at her boots that she had taken off in the hall, then at Tami's bare feet, then up at the rest of Tami's bare body. "I'm not sure..."
"You're Canadian, for goodness sake. You MUST know how to skate!"
"Well..." She had skated as a kid but it had been a long time.
"C'mon, you can rent skates there. I'll get mine. Get dressed. Let's go!"
A few minutes later, she watched Tami fling what looked like a little sandal bag into the back seat and cringed as she saw the bare buns settle onto the freezing vinyl of the front seat of the Volkswagen. They were headed into town. Just like before, only now it was nighttime. She remembered that bright snowy morning, walking with this naked girl down the main street, the naked girl who proudly showed her newly pedicured toes to that old lady and her professor friend, spreading them as they sparkled, encrusted with snow, in the bright morning sunshine, then opening her pussy lips and making her little thing jump in the cold winter air as everyone watched. Weird, but happy. A happy woman, this Tami was. She wondered why she had seemed so depressed a while ago.
As the outdoor rink came into view, all lit up with lights strung around it and a crowd of skaters circling round and round, Tami said, "Yvette, I'm glad you came!" Yvette smiled, feeling good about herself. Tami was like that. She made you feel good about yourself.
The roads were horrible up in the mountains so it took Rod a long time to get home. By the time he dragged himself into the kitchen his eyes were so tired from peering through that salt-sprayed windshield that he had to get to sleep right away. He only barely read the note from Tami on the table, saying she was going skating with Yvette. Yvette? Was she back? Another Tami project, rescuing wayward strippers. As if just being a stripper wasn't wayward enough. At least it looked like Tami had gotten out of her funk. With hardly another thought he stripped off as much of his clothes as he had energy for and hit the bed face-down.
They were in between songs in the big practice room and Sarge, up on his stool, looking down at his stand, itched behind his ear with his baton as he read from the papers in front of him. Rod sat in the trombone section, looking across the sea of black faces and the occasional white one, especially Brigid in the clarinet section, trying to catch her eye. She was very fetching today, no jean jacket, but a purple sweater over a white collared shirt. Some girls looked good no matter what they wore. The strands of Brigid's red hair, long and loose, played over the shoulders of the fluffy sweater.
Alas, Brigid wasn't looking at him. Her attention was fixed on Sarge as he went over the new invitation. "Now, this is a big step for us, the Winter Carnival at Killington. We've never been at an event like that before. We'll be doing straight marching, but the affair is kind of, how shall I say it, glitzy. You notice the uniforms are gone," he said, motioning to the empty coat racks around the perimeter of the room. "Some shiny piping is being put in. But we won't be doing any different moves, just what we did basically at the Patriots pregame in Foxboro.
"Now, this is at night, the middle of winter, up in Vermont. It will be cold. The thermal underwear that some of you were wearing in Foxboro, well some of it was too bulky. A couple of you looked like you were about to explode." There was some laughter; everyone knew exactly the kids he was talking about. "So the school has decided to spring for streamlined thermals, made especially for marching bands. We have to get the orders in right away. Let me know now. Who is going to be wearing thermals?"
He looked up and saw almost everyone raising their hands. He counted. Now Brigid's hand slowly rose to join the others. Sarge laughed. "Not you!!", and good-naturedly waved her hand down with his baton. Brigid put her hand on her lap and stuck out her lower lip in an exaggerated pout.
After he had taken the count, Sarge said, "OK, enough talk. Let's get to 'National Emblem'." He raised his baton and waited for the shuffling of sheet music until everyone was ready.
His baton still up, Sarge covered his eyes and said, "Sorry, I just had a vision of our band being led by a majorette in long johns." He shook the thought out of his head as some of the kids laughed. Then he looked at Brigid. "Don't worry, it won't be a long march. And not like that last game. No standing still in the freezing rain while some old guy gives an endless speech."
Brigid, remembering, momentarily dropped the clarinet from her mouth to say, "Zhhhh!" and shudder. Debra and Virginia and some of her other girlfriends giggled in sympathy.
Baton still up, Sarge said, "By the way, we'll be marching on packed snow, so the majorette's footwear is being revised to be more secure. Also, some other uniform changes."
Tentatively, Brigid said, "Like what?"
"Well I understand they're doing away with the circlets. Okay, let's go!"
His baton went down for the first beat.
It was a spectacular flub, from the suddenly dry lips of the trombone section.
The room burst out with laughter as if it had been the world's loudest fart.
"Goodness that was horrible," Sarge said, cutting off the tune. "Let's try again." He raised his baton. "Let's go!"