My watch was showing 8:02 when we started. The first section was downhill and I was breathing lightly, then onto the flat and up the first hill. I checked my heel-strike action a few times to make sure they weren't twisting, then quickly went through a body check: breathing, thigh muscles, arm and shoulder movement, head up; everything good, no worries. I shut my conscious mind off from how my body was running; it was doing everything correctly and easily by itself, no need to interfere.
I had no idea that Louise was in the fun run until I had run almost one kilometre. That's how far in front of me she was. When I first saw her black hair made up into a ponytail I suppose I didn't even think it was her. She was wearing a pale yellow sweatband, a white top and white running shorts with red stripes. I almost sprinted to catch her, then I held back a bit to catch my breath before I spoke to her.
'Hi Louise! I didn't know you were running today.'
'Oh Keith.' She turned and looked at me for a moment as she ran. She looked fantastic. Her legs were a beautiful golden brown, strong well-shaped thighs: runner's legs. Her breasts were bobbing up and down a little as she ran, although she was wearing a bra for the run, which she didn't normally wear. Her face was superb; that's what set her apart right away, her face, and her long black fluffy hair, now pulled back into a ponytail.
'You're going well,' I said.
'Sure. How are you doing?'
'Great. How'd you get so far in front of me?'
'Oh,' she smiled sweetly, 'my shoes have little wings on them.'
'I didn't know you ran.'
'I've been running since my school days. I love it. I've even been around Mt Coot-tha.'
'You're joking! That is hard. Where's the old man today?'
'Old man?' She looked puzzled.
'But he is not--'
'That's just slang.'
'You have funny sayings. He does not run. He is in Sydney anyway.'
I thought: Bloody good. I had been trying to woo Louise for weeks. The first time I clapped eyes on her I was hooked. I mean it! Not just the physical thing--the whole business--love or whatever it is. I was always trying to meet her at school functions or run into her at the supermarket. If I saw her Citroen anywhere I'd follow it and try to meet her when she got out. I even tried to get my kids to be friends with hers, but that hadn't worked out. And now we suddenly turn up together on an eight-kilometre fun run. Obviously a sign from God. Not only that, but I had her to myself. I wanted to keep her talking, make her feel happy, get her laughing.
'Do you mind if I run with you?' I asked.
'No, of course not. It's better if there is a friend. I sometimes worry if I pull a muscle, how would I get home.'
'Yes. Do you play squash?'
We started on the first big hill.
'No. Tennis. I like tennis.'
'Yes. Me too. Maybe we could, all get together, sometime, for doubles. Or singles.'
'Yes. Sounds fine. Where's the missus?' She smiled at me.
I laughed. 'You French, have vunny vords, no? She's probably, watching TV. She doesn't run.'
'You run much, Keith?'
'Every second day.'
'Up and down the roads, round Sunnybank. Sometimes I go to Griffith Uni. I like to go early, in the morning.'
'Yes. Me too.'
'What about, the day after, tomorrow?' I asked. My heart was thumping now and it wasn't because of the running.
'Why not? Six o'clock, too early?'
'Just right. I'll meet you, on the corner, of your street.'
'Yes fine,' she said.
The hills got steeper and we stopped talking for awhile, she was a good runner, a nice style. Not like some sheilas who carry their elbows tight and high. Louise was good.
'Am I maybe, going too slow, for you?' she asked.
'No. You're pushing me. Go any quicker, and I'll have trouble, keeping up.'
In fact we were doing pretty well in the run, half of the starters were behind us, and we had been talking. The sun broke through a gap in the clouds and suddenly the sweat came faster, I could feel it all over my body--it felt good. I glanced at Louise to see if she was sweating. Yes she was, but it made me think of oil. Fine rubbing oil, rubbing it all over her smooth brown body. She glanced across at me suddenly. I felt embarrassed, as if she read my thoughts.
'It's getting hot,' she said.
'Hey, what about going for a swim, at the Mt Gravatt pool, afterwards?' My heart was pumping again. She didn't reply for a long time, but looked at me strangely, then said, 'Come around to our house; we've got a pool.'
When the last kilometre came up she said, 'Let's go,' and amazed me by stepping out quite a bit faster. How could she do it? Gradually she pulled ahead of me. With my lungs and legs aching, I began gulping for air. My heart seemed to be palpitating, but I believe it was the thought of being in the swimming pool with her that mixed it up. I mean it. Then I thought to myself, if she licks me at this running it might make her feel dominant and muck up our relationship. She was already thirty metres in front and moving further and further away, there was only half a kilometre to go. I began pushing myself hard to catch her, and metre by metre I began to peg her back, desperately trying to show how macho I was.
Then when I was only two metres behind her, with fifty metres to the finish line, she got up on her toes and sprinted to the line. I couldn't believe it! I was rooted, there was no way I could have sprinted after that last kilometre when she had clapped on the pace.
I was smiling at her and gasping for breath.
'Wow. You. Really. Took. Off!'
She smiled back at me, the sweat dripping off her face. She had no makeup on, and as they say: she looked beautiful without makeup, just glistening with sweat. We sat on the grass for ten minutes. Boy, I couldn't take my eyes off her. I felt tremendous admiration for her. When I saw that Louise could outrun me that really turned me on. I knew she had brains, that had been obvious from our first meeting, but pushing herself like that at the end of the run really impressed me.
'You were terrific,' I said. 'I just couldn't believe the way you sprinted at the end.' I looked at her long, brown, muscular legs stretched out on the grass. It was all I could do to control myself.
'You too were good, Keith. My old man cannot run one hundred metres.'
'Same as the missus, she thinks exercise is watching the football on TV.'
'Do you like watching the football?'
'Nope. Squash, I love squash. Tennis. Running. A bit of swimming,' I reminded her.
She took the hint. 'Okay. Where's your car?'
'Just over there a bit.'
We walked down to the cars. 'I'll meet you at your place,' I said. I had been there a couple of times before. It was rather a flash place, better than mine. They rented it--and in six months they would be off to Quebec. I climbed into my old Falcon and watched her pull out. It was easy to see her, for she had the Citroen that day.
When we got to her place I parked behind her in the driveway. The old heart was pounding now, really, believe me. Pounding. What's going to happen? it asked.
We went through to the kitchen. At the fridge she asked, 'Would you like a drink of wine? Water? Juice of orange?'
'Oh lovely,' I said, 'some moselle, if you don't mind.' To steady the ticker, I thought. Everything was turning out better than I could possibly have dreamt. I didn't know what, if anything, was going to happen. I knew what I wanted, but how to get there. 'Where's Camille and Maurice?'
'They've gone to a friend's house for the day, playing the tennis. I pick them up this afternoon.'
I gulped my wine desperately trying to relax. 'Mind if I have another?'
I poured her another also, and we both drank them quickly. She stood up. 'The pool's through here.'
'I didn't bring my swimmers, but I've got my running shorts.'
'Ahh, but you can swim in the nude! I always do. No one can see you from next door, it's quite private.' And with that she stripped off her clothes, her back turned to me and with a few quick steps dived, clean as a dolphin, stark naked, into the pool.
Suddenly it was me who was at the disadvantage. She was always in control; Louise was always one step ahead of me. I got out of my shirt, then my shorts, finally my undies. I didn't feel too sure about diving in, knowing I couldn't dive as well as she did, so I jumped.
By then she was swimming underwater the length of the pool. I dived under the surface and swam after her, when she reached the far wall I expected her to surface. But oh no, she did some sort of underwater flip, and sped back past me the other way. I came to the top and gulped some air. I felt good, skinny-dipping around in the pool with her. I was beginning to hope that perhaps I had a chance with Louise, if only I could get her interested in me.
She surfaced and smiled at me, water running from her hair. 'Beautiful, no? This is heaven after the running.'
I swam over closer to her. 'You're beautiful,' I said like a dummy. I immediately regretted saying something so corny.
Unfazed, she smiled at me. 'Perhaps the water is in your eyes?'
I just stared at her, she was standing a metre away, the water up to her breasts. I looked at her eyes and they held my gaze. I moved in closer and without thinking too much about it I put my arms around her and kissed her warmly. She held my kiss.
'Louise.' I kissed her again and caressed her breasts with my hand. She bent her head forward onto my shoulder, and then we kissed again, and suddenly her tongue was swirling around in my mouth. When her hand caressed me between the legs, I jumped with nervous excitement. She laughed.
'You are nervous! Relax Keith, I not bite you. Come on now, can you kiss under the water?'
Kissing underwater turned out to be less exciting than kissing on a bed. We frolicked in the water, hugging, kissing and caressing. She was not hindering me at all--it looked like "YES". Enjoyable as it all was I wanted to get onto solid ground.
'Louise, let's go up on the grass.'
'Grass? No thank you. There is divan inside the door.'
She hoisted herself up over the side of the pool. 'Hey, don't think I'm going to try that! I could lose everything.' I headed for the steps, then scampered for my towel, feeling very awkward. She dried herself, and I watched the way her skin glowed and shone.
'You're brown all over,' I commented.
'Oui, but you are brown nearly all over.'
'I try. But we have neighbours who like to perv on me.'
'Oh? And do you not also perv on them?'
I laughed. 'You know all my secrets!'
She lay down unashamedly on the bed, completely naked. I finished drying myself and sat alongside of her. 'Louise, are you ... err ... taking the um pill?'
'The pill? Which pill do you mean Cherie, the headache pills?'
'No ... err ... I mean the pill that stops you having ... getting pregnant.'
'Oh? But is there such a pill in Australia? What is this marvellous invention? A pill that can stop making babies! Why would I need such a pill?'
I guess I must have looked pretty stupid.
'Cheer up, Keith. I am only teasing. Yes, yes. Come on now.' She smiled at me inviting me to lay alongside of her.
As I said, she was always one step in front of me. I lay down alongside of her and put my arms around her, and kissed her and kissed her. Long, slow, passionate kisses on her mouth, in her mouth, then slowly, down to her golden brown breasts, her flat smooth stomach.
But she didn't lie still for long, she sat up and rolled about on top of me, she massaged me with oil, she was hot and ready to go, and I realized that she was not submitting to this après-run delight, she was a full participant. Everything started to blur, passion burned out of control until the inevitable event occurred. Twice.
Afterwards, she asked, 'Where are your cigarettes?'
'But I don't smoke. Do you?'
'Of course not, just teasing.'
'Do you mind?'
'I'm not used to it! My wife is ... well nothing like you! She spends most of her time watching TV.'
'Would she mind if she knew about us?'
'You bet! She'd be furious. Jealous. Oh you're really beautiful. She'd tear my eyes out. But what about Pierre?'
'He is French, you understand? We have a different attitude. We both have affairs. We realise we cannot be everything to each other until we are old. As long as things are kept "clean" he does not object.'
'What do you mean "clean"?'
'We have rules: no making love in our bed. And lovers are not to interfere with our normal lives--meals, children, sex. They must be squeezed into spare moments. There must be no angry, or tearful scenes. In fact we must keep everything secret, only in this way will it work. You understand all that, Keith?'
'Yes, that's fine with me.'
'If we break the rules it must end. You may be my boyfriend, but not my lover.'
'Yes, that's wonderful. I mean it. I also am tied up, my children, the house, my work, my wife--the whole catastrophe!'
Later we sat up, dressed, drank coffee, and made practical plans for the continuation of our affair. It lasted for three months; three glorious, golden, best days of my life, months.
We were always meeting secretly: in Garden City car park, Kmart car park, Griffith Uni. There were many phone calls: I phoned her from work, from public phones, from my home phone when Ruth was in the shower. We had long, beautiful talks, we talked about everything. She loved music just as I did, although her tastes were different--she liked opera, Wagner, Mozart, symphonic music and early jazz. I like baroque, progressive jazz, and early Beatles. We both loved Indian music, and would sit in her car or mine listening to Ravi Shankar on a cassette, holding hands, and if it were private, kissing.
We didn't get to bed as much as I would have liked. There were so many problems: her spouse, my spouse, my job, her children, my children, shopping, squash, tennis, running; all these things took up our time and caused complications. And where could we go? It was always difficult; only rarely was her place completely empty, my place even more rarely.
Four times we went to motels, but we never stayed more than two hours, sharing the costs.
'How much was it Keith?'
'What a waste, we use it only two hours. Imagine if we had a whole night. I leave my forty dollars on the table for you.'
'Would you like your wine on the sofa, or in bed?'
'Let's have it in the bed.'
In the bed the sheets were clean and cool. I cuddled her naked body to me and caressed her.
'You're so soft to touch.'
'But Keith, your hands, they are so soft.'
'Sure--that's because I'm a gigolo.'
She laughed. 'Oui! Your forty dollars are on the table.'
We hugged and laughed together in a cocoon of happiness.