The mid-summer heatwave enveloped the city for seven days straight. It drove everyone a little crazy. Evening brought some relief, but even as night fell the heat lingered, hours past sunset. With heat so constant and so intense, everything loosened up: clothes, morals, and passions that otherwise would have stayed buried deep.
Maddy Ryerson had long since tired of the heat. It wore her down, a little more each day. She poured herself a glass of chilled white wine and walked with it to the living room. It was 10 p.m. in the Ryerson house, and the family’s favorite T.V. show was about to begin.
Her husband, Carl, already lay comfortably grooved into his favorite chair, not far from the large-screen television. He had taken his seat to watch T.V. two hours earlier, and he hadn’t moved the whole time except to grab beers from the kitchen. He was nursing his fifth can. His day at work had been long and stressful, and the beers had done a lot to dull the edges off his frayed temper.
Maddy saw her 19-year-old son, Kyle, sit on the love seat to the left of and behind Carl’s chair. Kyle, a sophomore in college, lived away from his parents during the school year, but he had chosen to stay in in his old room for the summer, and he worked long hours for a local construction firm. Kyle kicked his shoes off and put his feet up on the low table in front of the love seat.
Maddy noticed how much the living room had cooled. Carl had set the thermostat to a low temperature, and the air conditioner was blasting cold air into the house, giving everyone welcome relief from the summer heat. Earlier in the day, mindful of the scorching day-time temperature, Maddy had put on a light, cotton, sleeveless sundress with buttons down the front. Now, at 10 p.m., it was cooler, even a little chilly, and goosebumps popped up on Maddy’s exposed legs and arms.
As she swung around the love seat to sit down, Maddy noticed both Kyle and Carl in her line of sight. Kyle looked a lot like his dad, with short, blond hair and a well-defined, strong-featured face. He was taller than his father, though, and while his father had gone soft in middle-age, Kyle kept his body fit and free of fat through steady exercise and the daily rigors of his job.
Maddy’s brow furrowed at the sight of her husband’s figure. She wished he took better care of himself. Maddy, unlike Carl, took excellent care of herself. Although she was nearing 40, Maddy
retained the fresh-scrubbed, girl-next-door looks of her youth. The short dress, snug and hitting mid-thigh, did little to conceal Maddy’s voluptuous curves. Long, light-brown hair cascaded over her bare neck and shoulders.
She looked critically with pale blue eyes at the placement of her son’s feet.
“Kyle, take your feet off the table,” she said.
Kyle removed his feet from the table with the slowness and reluctance of a teen.
“Sorry, mom,” he said.
Maddy was about to sit down at the other end of the love seat when Carl spoke.
“Hey, Maddy,” Carl said, his voice slurring just a trace from the beer, “You might not want to sit there. I spilled a beer on that end of the love seat. I tried to clean it up with a wet towel but it’s all wet on that end.”
“Oh!” said Maddy. She leaned over and sniffed the seat cushion. It didn’t smell like beer, so Carl must have succeeded at wiping it up. But Carl was right; it was very wet. She thought about turning the seat cushion over but thought it better to leave it up to dry.
Maddy took pride in taking care of things. She liked things to be just so. It wasn’t easy to keep things that way with a job of her own to manage and a husband who grew lazier, it seemed, with every day. Thank goodness that her son Kyle, though like a teen boy in many of his habits, often volunteered to help with chores around the house.
“Here, mom,” Kyle said, patting his hand on the love seat on his left side. “There’s some room here. I’ll move over so you can sit next to me.” Kyle pressed his legs as far as he could against the right side of the little sofa.
Maddy squeezed next to Kyle on his half of the love seat. She put a pillow on the other cushion to keep her dress from contacting the wet part of the little sofa. Kyle wore shorts, and when Maddy sat down the warmth of his leg surprised her. So did its hardness; his thigh muscle pressed against her like steel.
Kyle felt surprise and pleasure at the cool, soft skin of his mom’s leg against his own.
The T.V. show, called “Angel City Detective,” began. It had premiered on a cable channel a year ago and had become their favorite. The series was about an attractive, young, female detective fighting crime in the dark underbelly of modern-day Los Angeles. Her name was Angel, and the irony of her name was that despite her by-the-book police methods, along with her innocent looks and understated beauty, she had a dark, wild, sexual side that she struggled to keep secret from her work colleagues. Its deft combination of sex, violence, and smart writing — not to mention, the sex appeal of the actress that played Angel — had made it a big hit. The Ryersons sat down to watch it every week.
Maddy glanced at Carl again, annoyed. She wished he would control his drinking better. Maddy didn’t mind Carl having a couple of drinks to relax when he came home. But lately his routine had involved more than a couple of drinks, and by the time he turned the T.V. off he often was drunk. Maddy’s love life suffered as a result of Carl’s drinking habit. Lately, it seemed like he loved his six-pack more than his wife. Carl’s inattentiveness had left her feeling perpetually frustrated and horny.
The relentless heat of the last seven days had just made it worse.
While Maddy was annoyed at Carl, Kyle was thinking about how his mom’s leg felt pressed against him. It felt surprisingly good, which was kind of weird, Kyle thought, because it was just his mom. Kyle, too, was agitated and antsy. He hadn’t had sex once since coming back home from college for the summer. His summer job kept him working long hours and left him tired at the end of the day, and he hadn’t had time to date. So far, the only sexual relief he’d gotten all summer had been through jerking off. And he’d been too tired even to do that for the last five days. Sitting on the sofa, he was hot and agitated, and he thought his balls were going to burst.
As the opening credits for the show rolled, Maddy realized suddenly that the blast of air conditioning left her uncomfortably cold.
“Carl,” she said. “It’s getting a little chilly. Do you think you could turn off the air conditioner?”
“Gee, baby,” said Carl. “The temperature feels fine to me. I think it’s because you’re dressed so skimpy. Here.”
Carl grabbed a colorful, crocheted throw blanket hanging over the back of his chair, and, hardly looking up from the T.V. screen, he tossed it to Maddy and Kyle. Maddy scooped it up and spread it over her bare legs and brought it up to her chest.
Kyle shook his head at his dad’s rudeness.
“I’ll do it, mom,” he said as he got up to turn off the air conditioner.
She left a space for him and half a minute later he was back in the same spot on the love seat.
“Would you like the blanket, too?” she asked.
Kyle wasn’t really cold, but the room was cool and the idea of sharing the blanket with mom sounded cozy.
“Sure,” he said.
All three of them sat, watching the show.
The lead character, Angel, arrived at her apartment after a tough day investigating a murder. She poured herself some bourbon on the rocks.
Something about Angel looked familiar to Kyle.
“You know, mom,” he said. “She kind of looks like you. Don’t you think so, dad?”