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A Phoenix Fiction Writer Rising From The Ashes of Nonfiction



Sharlette's  Web 
by Michael T. Martin

I could hardly believe my luck. As I entered the non-commissioned officers' (NCO) club on an Air Force Base in San Bernardino, California, I spotted a lovely blonde woman sitting alone at the bar engaged in conversation with the portly bartender whose name tag read "Wilbur". A jukebox played background music to an almost empty room.

I interrupted their conversation to order a drink. While Wilbur performed his duties I turned to the blonde to chat. She seemed reticent to talk at first, but I expected an initial reluctance. So I persisted, impelled by her shapely body and enticing cleavage as well as the beauty of her face. Having received two "Dear John" letters during my recent Vietnam War tour, I needed new female companionship, and this woman easily qualified as prey.

"I don't think I've seen you here before," she said.

"I'm just visiting, my name is Mike."

She had a French accent and spoke with a delightful shimmy that aroused my ardor. I breathed in her soft aura of expensive perfume, watched her wet pink lips, and admired her honey hair rolled up behind her, with a helical curl descending by each ear.

It didn't bother me that she was easily ten years older than my 24 years, or that a wedding ring indicated she was married. Indeed I preferred dating wives because they didn't expect me to marry them. It may have even helped that I was younger to put her a little off her guard thinking I was just making conversation.

"Visiting from where?" she asked.

"I'm a Marine stationed at Twenty-nine Palms. Just got back from Vietnam."

"My husband is in Vietnam. What's it like there?"

"Depends on where you are. On air bases it's pretty boring, except for the local ladies."

She took a sip from her drink while giving me eye slits. I dropped that line intentionally to stir up her resentment a little.

"I thought there was a war going on?"

"Yeah, out in the boonies the war can get pretty ugly, but the urban areas around Air Force bases are pretty quiet. I was on a forward combat base and the war meant rocket and ground attacks rather regularly."

"I like this song," she said, looking away from me toward the jukebox.

My ardor began to inflame with the knowledge she was a lonely wife.

"Would you like to dance?" I pointed towards the small dance floor. She looked at me warily but then put down her drink.

"Okay, for this song."

The song was an instrumental waltz, which meant holding her while dancing. She placed her head on my shoulder. Her body warmth and perfume began to overwhelm my senses.

"I still don't know your name," I asked in a soft voice.


"You have an accent. From New Orleans?"

"I'm from Le Havre, France."

The song ended, but another slow song followed so we continued to dance. After an hour or so alternating between talking and dancing, I pointed to posters on the wall advertising a Valentine's dance the next weekend and asked if I could be her date. She ignored the invitation at first, but finally agreed she would meet me at the club on the evening of the dance.

On Valentine's Day I waited in the lobby of the NCO club, watching people stream past me as the starting time for the dance came and went without Sharlette arriving. I felt rather foolish as it occurred to me that I was being stood up, but I persevered until, nearly an hour late, she arrived in all her glory, dolled up for the dance.

"I thought you had forgotten me," I greeted her, inhaling the familiar perfume of our first encounter. She wore her hair the same, with the same pink lipstick and helical curls.

"I wasn't sure I should come," she said, looking up at me out of the corner of her eye.

"I'm glad you did. I looked forward to this evening all week."

I escorted her inside to a table away from the band on the side of the dimly lit ballroom. We danced and talked, drank cocktails and ate hors d'oeuvres. The crowd thinned as the evening progressed and, toward the end, the band played the Rolling Stones' "The Spider and the Fly" with the lyrics "I said my, my, like the spider to the fly, Jump right ahead in my web."

I assumed the role of the spider.

"Well, I had a lovely evening, but I'm not looking forward to the hundred-mile drive back to my base, particularly the part off the freeway on dark winding roads into the mountains."

She seemed concerned and then offered: "I can let you sleep on my couch and you can go back in the morning."

"That would be much better, and safer," I said into her bemused blue eyes. "Thank you."

I drove behind her car to her house where she pulled into the garage. I parked on the street. An unseen gardenia bush filled the air with its invisible perfume, but I was more intrigued by the strong musk of my own anticipation. I didn't expect to sleep on the couch.

As we entered her small tract house, Sharlette turned on a pole lamp just inside the door and pointed to the stuffed fabric couch inside to the right. "You can sleep here," she said.

She walked past a barely illuminated small dining table next to the kitchen, to disappear down a dark hallway, soon reappearing with sheets, blanket and pillow.

"Here you go." She unceremoniously handed me the bedding, and then headed back down the hallway to disappear into a room at the end that lit up as she entered until the door closed.

I resigned myself to sleeping on the couch. I took off my shoes and socks and placed them on the floor. I took off my coat, tie, and shirt, placing them on the back of a nearby chair, then took off my trousers and set them there too, leaving me in my underpants. I started arranging the bedding when I heard Sharlette.

"Come here, I'll show you the bathroom."

She stood in the hallway next to an open door that cast a light through a nearly transparent diaphanous nightgown. I stepped over to her, becoming incandescent with her nearly nude proximity. Her unbound hair cascaded around her shoulders, giving her a somewhat tousled look that I wanted to tousle further.

"This is the bathroom," she said, pointing into the room that illuminated her, "don't confuse it with my bedroom."

Her gaze momentarily dropped to my tented underpants, then back to my eyes with that delightful shimmy. I put an arm around her and she turned to me. I gathered her to me with my other arm and leaned down to kiss her. She accepted my embrace and kiss, pressing her body against mine with only the merest fabric between our bodies. I stepped against her, pushing her towards her bedroom. She resisted, placing her hands against my chest. I took another step, still kissing her. She made a token attempt to push me away.

"No, I told you, you could sleep on the couch."

I continued kissing her neck and cheeks while pushing her towards her bedroom. She kept resisting and insisting "no" but the lack of intensity in her struggles signaled them as feigned. I understood the rules of the game. She more than obviously dangled her sexuality before me, but she was married and thus had to perfunctorily resist my natural response. Propriety forced her to deny, to resist, and only then to succumb. Experienced men even have a knowing ditty of the typical woman's response: "Don't! - Stop! Don't, Stop. - Don't Stop."

She raised her voice: "I told you to sleep on the couch."

But through all the insistence, her voice lacked any earnest anger. Her protests were clearly obligatory, perfunctory. I scooped up her legs and carried her writhing into her bedroom, lowering her into the center of the mattress and lying atop her. With my right arm completely encircling her shoulders, I held her right arm by the wrist while my right chest pinned her left arm on the bed. I smothered her protests with kisses while my free left hand removed her panties. I removed my briefs as well.

She continued muttering "no" in elongated sing-song fashion, ineffectively twisting to avoid my penetrating her, but I pressed slowly into her, until after a few moments her body betrayed her with the silken lubrication letting me slide easily. I thrusted into her several times, penetrating her completely.

She stopped struggling, with me embedded in her, so I momentarily relaxed while raised on my elbows to admire and gloat over this beautiful woman beneath me. Her golden hair splayed on the pillow around her face. Inhaling the scents of her, I owned her now. She was mine to do with as I pleased.

Then I heard her crying.

"Why are you crying?"

"You finished before I got any pleasure."

Her reply caught me off guard. At first I didn't understand, but then I realized that when I relaxed after penetrating her several times, she had thought I had come. She was crying in frustration because I had come too soon.

I could understand that might happen a lot to her; she was so beautiful and sexy that just entering her could easily be the culmination of many men's lust. But like a spider with a captured fly, I had no intention of letting this beauty off that easily. She faced my extracting as much excitement and pleasure out of this prey as I could in one night. I brushed my lips against hers then across her cheek towards her ear where I whispered, "I haven't finished; I haven't even started." Her eyes came partly open above a subtle smile.

We began a subtle sensual rendition of Ravel's Bolero. Long kisses and caresses interspersed with sighs and trembling moans built, stanza by stanza, into heightened abandon over hours, until sweating and panting, we succumbed to the crescendo of the coda, fading into a sensuous embrace. I went to sleep still embedded within her.

When I awoke on my back in the morning, she slid atop me to create a golden canopy of her hair with her taunting eyes and smile above my face. I became blazingly aroused as she began kissing me softly while arranging for me to penetrate her already wet. I slid into her accompanied by a long sigh. I reached under her sheer nightgown to caress her back and gently massage her butt, which served as well to stroke my hardness within her.

"Good morning," she murmured.

"Very good," I replied.

She rocked slowly back and forth atop me. Bolero began again.

"I couldn't do this with my husband," she said softly.

"Why?" I said slowly, not comprehending.

"What would he think?" She raised up on her elbows still softly hunching against me. "I could never let him think I enjoyed sex. It wouldn't be proper."

I understood immediately. Propriety required that a "proper" woman deny any sexual longings and lust of her own. She could never let her husband know she desired a man within her. She had to respect the social fiction that sex is a degradation women endured, for which men must suitably reward them with jewels and other gifts.

In her raised position I had access to her hanging breasts swinging within her nightgown while she hunched against me. As I cupped them in my hands she closed her eyes and smiled.

"I like you to touch me," she said, "I can't believe the way you touched me all over and let me enjoy it last night."

Her comment startled me. Perhaps because of her frustrated cry last night, she broke a taboo extraordinary for a woman to break. Other women allowed me, tolerated me, but never before broke that taboo of admitting sex with men was pleasurable. I felt stunned and enlivened.

Beneath her golden canopy she opened her eyes and leaned down to kiss me, a soft lingering touching of lips she initiated and explored. I responded with a growing excitement. In the ambiance of the moment, I felt my presence within her becoming overly excited. I put my hands on her hips to stop her from rocking, to let my over-excitement pass without ejaculating. She glared into my eyes and defiantly hunched against me, detonating an eruption of pleasure that sent a roiling wave of passion tumbling through my mind. When I regained sight, I saw her smirking beneath the golden canopy, gloating at her power over me.

"I'll go make breakfast," she said, raising her body off of mine.

It was the night and morning of the first day that extended into a weekend. We enjoyed many more over the next few months, dancing at nightclubs, watching movies at theaters or in her home, and talking of a future I was foolish enough to believe in. Her extraordinary admission that she enjoyed sex with me threw me off guard and had me in her thrall. I enjoyed just being with her, basking in the glow of her lust.

I could only visit Sharlette on weekends, arriving Friday evening and leaving late Sunday for my base far out in the desert. In between, I craved her. Every moment I lived, every thought I produced, revolved around Sharlette as if she encapsulated my mind. Our relationship had begun to the lyrics of the Spider and the Fly, but now I seemed to be captured in Sharlette's web.

I had never before known a woman who devoured sex with me as if she was feasting. A woman who enjoyed sex defied everything I had ever learned from books and movies and social encounters or even anecdotes. Indeed the ancient Greeks fantasized about such women as mythological Succubi.

I hardly noticed how enamored I became as she wove her web of enchantment around me. After years of serially seducing women, of plundering pleasure from them as they reluctantly consented, of appreciating women like a spider to a fly, I transformed from predator into prey, defenseless against a woman who plundered me.

One Saturday night she looked particularly enticing. She wore a sexy black teddy to bed, with a bright red panel of lace in the front from her breasts to her hips. Narrowing at her waist, it gave the appearance of a scarlet hourglass on her abdomen. I embraced her, running my hands over her lively body, but she seemed subdued as she escaped my kiss and slid her lips past my cheek to press our heads together.

"This will have to be our last time together," she said.

"Why?" I asked.

"My husband is coming home."

Her announcement stung like a paralyzing venom injected into my mind.

"Couldn't we still see each other, somehow?"

"No." she said firmly, "I'm sorry. I can't risk him finding out."

I tried to think of an escape, to find an alternative. I pleaded, but she made it clear she was devoted to him. My emotions seemed suddenly foreign, distraught.

I'm told that spiders inject their prey with an enzyme that turns their prey's insides to mush. They then suck the essence of life out of the hapless victim ensnared in their web, leaving behind the empty shell of their lifeless form. I felt that emptiness after I left Sharlette.

At first, I tried normal dating. Attempting to seduce subsequent women into pleasure they could not admit they enjoyed. That attitude finances the entire liquor industry. I lived again what I knew as the normal reality men encountered. But the enzyme of knowing it could be different ate at my insides leaving an emptiness to any relationships with other women. Never again did I feel as alive with a woman as with Sharlette.

I still reminisce about feeling amazingly alive with her, feeling her body heat under that golden canopy, and most of all feeling the narcotic esteem that I gave her pleasure, as well as took. Now, whenever I hear the Rolling Stones' Spider and the Fly song that played at the Valentine's dance where I assumed the role of the spider, I recognize in reality that Sharlette ensnared me in her web. Afterward my life became an empty shell with all of the pleasure sucked out of it. I've often wondered if Wilbur knew that would happen that all along.


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