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Invisible Lines (Novella)

A Hand in the Bush
by William Dean © 2004

Deckler had seen the response a hundred times or more before.  There was something about the rawness and sweep of safari that peeled back the layers of metropolitan types—the concretes as he'd taken to calling them—that made them all suddenly act as if they were the first human being to see a lion out of a cage or a herd of wildebeest outside the pages of National Geographic.  For the past few years, he'd simply pasted the bored tight smile on his face and got on with the simplified prattle of Great White Guide.

"Remember, please, that you'll be seeing animals in their element and on their turf, not yours.  And we'll be on their time-table, not ours, so don't expect exciting photo-ops every time you turn around.  That said, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to see the beauties of Africa.

Now if you'll please all turn off your cellphones, we'll proceed to the..."

Deckler's mouth felt dry when he first saw the pair of eyes intently studying him.  He glanced upward into the short-cropped blonde hair, then down at the glowing and full red lips.

"...we'll proceed to the first campground site.  We'll pass through the..."

While he droned on in the standard pitch, his attention was really focused on the sliver of startlingly pink tongue that worked its way across the blonde's lower lip.  Deckler pointed toward the waiting Land Rovers and had the unsettling mental image that his erect forefinger had just prodded the blonde's yielding, rose-colored nipple.  He glanced back at the small group of concretes and, yes, she was still unblinkingly staring at him.

While they filed into the vehicles like chattering children, Deckler pretended to look into the distance, then up at the sky, but out of the corner of his eye, he was watching the blonde's hips move fluidly beneath her tight khaki pants.  And he was arguing with himself.

"Don't even think of it," he told himself. "You know that's all bullshit and it won't take any time at all for it to hit the fan and then where are you? Up the Zambezi with a croc biting your balls off.  But, damn," he took his the opposite point-of-view, "she looks like it'd be a walk along Coffee Bay in the moonlight."

Deckler shook off the image of himself and the blonde, naked, entangled, and about to orgasm.  He walked to the lead Rover and climbed in.  He checked the rear view mirror and there she was, sitting behind him, eyes—were they green or hazel?—fixed on his.  He smiled.  She didn't, but slowly lowered her eyelids and ran a finger—glossy with chap stick—over her lips.  Deckler chocked the Rover into gear and nodded. "I'm out of it," he thought, "been out in the bush country too long.  She probably uses those little moves with her eyes and her lips to wind up every man she ever sees.  Just for kicks."

As they passed near a small herd of elephants ambling and feeding, Deckler heard a sharp gasp behind him and signaled for the caravan to stop.

"Here's your first chance to see..." he began, turning to look out the window and grinned widely as he heard the excited laughter from the rest of the passengers.  An old bull elephant had his forelegs on the back of a cow.  His massively long penis bobbed a few times and then plunged into her.

"..uh, well, to see Nature as it is," Deckler continued.  As the cameras clicked, Deckler felt a tap on his shoulder.  The voice that followed it was soft, husky, slightly accented.

"Will we be exposed to much of...that sort of display?"

Deckler turned in his seat and felt an uncharacteristic shudder pass along his shoulders.  It was the blonde who'd asked and now their faces were no more than six inches apart.

"Well, not too often.  But, as I said, it's their turf and timetable.  Out here, they do what they want when they want."

She nodded back at him.  For a moment, he swore he was hallucinating.  As she nodded, did her mouth silently form the words "Fuck me"? No, he must have imagined it.  He swallowed hard and turned back around.

"I don't mean to spoil your fun, ladies and gentlemen, but we have to move on to make sure we reach the camp in time to get settled in." Deckler waved out the window and drove on, followed by the other two Rovers.

The camp hands had already set up the tents and a small cooking area by the time they arrived.  Lately, it both pleased and disquieted Deckler that efficiency made so much less for him to do.  Gone were the times of really setting up a camp in the wilderness.  No more thicket fences.  No more sleeping with one eye open for curious "night visitors." Safaris now were all blue nylon, electronic perimeters, and only pretended dangers.  At 47, Deckler reckoned he was no different from some idiot tour guide in a city.  The whole world was filled with concretes and he was becoming one, too.

The evening's meal had been a good example of the change.  Everyone sitting around imagining they were "roughing it" while they ate their warmed-up chicken Kiev and cottage potatoes; some chocolate cake for dessert, helicoptered in earlier from a city bakery and brought out by the camp hands in a four-wheeled van, along with the tents.  No gazelle steaks or snake cooked over an open fire.  Deckler scowled as he walked through the camp now, heard the snores and farts of sleeping concretes.  His world was fucked up and he'd helped it get that way by guiding these metropolitan tourists to the watering holes and grazing grounds.

He was angrily musing on where he'd gone wrong as he passed another blue nylon tent and noticed a gap in the flap.  His hand had automatically reached out to close it when he heard the rustle inside.  The susurration stopped immediately, but the scent from within was unmistakable.  The scent of body; more, the musky, undeniable scent of a body that had just had sex.

"Flap was open," Deckler said gruffly. "Everything all right?"

He knew it would be her voice that answered. "Yes.  Now.  Everything is good.  Good night."

Another shiver moved down Deckler's body despite the humid, warm air of the night.  He felt both excited and disturbed.  She was alone, he was sure.  He was also sure, she'd just been masturbating in her tent.  He closed his eyes and created a mental picture of her, one hand across her own mouth to stifle the cries and moans, the other working between her thighs.

There weren't many, he knew.  Certainly not many that he ever came in contact with, but there were women who somehow just epitomized sexuality.  It surrounded them like a barely visible aura.  Like a personal perfume or something, it hovered around them wherever they were, city or wilderness.  He realized, too, that as he walked toward his own tent, his cock was getting hard as the packed earth beneath his boots.

He wasn't often restless, not in that way.  Usually, out here, he slept soundly and easily.  For years now, he'd shrugged off the old ways of keeping alert for the sound of a prowling animal.  But now, as he lay down on the thin mattress, he felt that tingly sense come back to him.  He smiled at the thought that, yes, there was something prowling around outside.  That sound of rustling nylon, that scent of the blonde's climax was outside, moving through the shadows between her tent and his, just as surefooted and hungry as a leopard sniffing prey.

Though he knew what and how it all was, it didn't matter at the moment.  Not really.  His cock was hard and urging him to stroke it, like a horny teenager, over the thought—the brief glimpse of what might have been, might be.  How would it be, he wondered.  Her hand, not mine.  Not the calloused, rough hand he knew so well, but her softer, more delicate fingers clasping around his shaft, lingering over his tightened balls, squeezing with their lighter touch.

As it had always been with him, he was of two minds as he jerked off: the old taboo of "I shouldn't" and the freer self that asked "Why the hell not?" Image after question after pleasure drifted through his mind:

What had she been thinking of as she pleasured herself?

Would she do it every night of the safari?

Would he?

What would she look like if she were here, right now, doing what he was doing?

Her naked body, naked, hungry spirit, naked on his naked body...

It came as unexpected as a crocodile's charge up a riverbank, when he arched his spine and hips and felt the gush of heat and liquid spurt out.  Unexpected because he was trying desperately to make it last longer.  Unexpected because the last image in his mind before it was not the wild writhing of the fuck, but her eyes deeply looking into his and the suddenly lowered eyelids as she bit into his shoulder.  His grip lingered, holding his still pulsing shaft, feeling the slow trickles slide down the back of his hand and cool in the night.  What was expected though was the growing feeling that he wanted it again.  He wanted to replay the imaginings, capture again that self-eruption, and the leisurely escape into something indefinable just before he fell asleep.

The next morning, over a brief breakfast of muffins and eggs, their eyes met and they smiled at each other, yet could find nothing more to say than "Good morning" and "Sleep well?"

© 2004 William S.  Dean. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

Bio: William Dean is Special Features Editor for ERWA and Associate Editor for Clean Sheets magazine.  His works are found online there as well as Velvet Mafia, Suspect Thoughts, Night Charm, Mind Caviar, and elsewhere. A few have appeared in anthologies, current and forthcoming.

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