Close Cousins

Close Cousins

Facts about First Cousin Marriage

(1) Marriage in much of the modern world is to preserve family lines.
Then sex. Then love. Perhaps 200 of 1,000 couples worldwide are first
cousins. Their parents arrange everything and they usually grow to love
each other. The frequency of cousin marriages in America is about 1 in
1,000. About 500 of the 999 others get divorced. I'm no statistician,

In rural England of yore, they say that marriage between cousins was the
rule among commoners because everyone in a village was closely related, and
among the gentry to keep land in the family. Cousin marriage declined when
the invention of the bicycle made it easier to court in the next village.
It's said that this was the end of human evolution, because only by
breeding within the same small gene pool could recessive gene mutations

(2) Genetic danger is largely an erroneous Western phobia. The National
Society of Genetic Counselors estimates the increased risk for first
cousins to be between 1.7 and 2.8 percent, about the same for any woman
over 40.

(3) Still want to marry?

Q: How are Illinois, Wisconsin, Arizona and Maine different?

A: In the queried order:

(a) You both must be 50 or one is unable to reproduce.

(b) The female must be 55 or one is unable to reproduce.

(c) You both must be 65 or one is unable to reproduce.

(d) With evidence that you've had genetic counseling. There's a science
teacher at my school who'll counsel you for free. She says go ahead.

Q: How are Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia,
Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,
Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Canada,
Mexico and the European Union alike?

A: Just be in love.

If you're not in one of those places, take a jaunt across the state
line. No judge is going to make you unwed on return. This sidestep might
carry some Constitutional weight regarding age as well, I wonder. If
you're a pedophile trying to snare a mid-schooler, though, I hope you lose.
A spouse isn't Interstate Commerce.

(4) Review the literature of childhood sexual relationships and control
for living with siblings (duh) and living with cousins. You're more likely
to have sex with a cousin who shares your roof than with your brother or
sister. Think about it. Lots of us would never dress up (dress down,
perhaps) for a brother, but your older cousin visits and you kiss him on
the lips first thing. He finds you in the attic reading about the
Egyptians. You're just reading your book, not sure if you should have worn
your bra.

(5) You'll know each other well enough if you share two grandparents.
He's not going to be already married. "Just a few formalities with the
last one, darling, and then we'll do our paperwork. We can start on our
baby now, though." If he's a druggie, you'll know what's coming. "Baby,
just do me this one favor and fly to LA with this condom filled with chalk
dust up where they won't check. It's for a ghetto school where they don't
have white boards."

(6) If you share four grandparents, you're not really cousins.

Please send me your comments, repair estimate, etc. As fun as writing
is, it's a process.


I wasn't pleased. But with Pops fighting the war (well, guarding the
Panama Canal, anyway) and the new web strap factory coming to town, it did
make sense to rent out our house and move in with Mom's sister. Even with
Ginny and Rupert's three girls, Grandma's old place had room aplenty. Aunt
Ginny figured that "Tina and her two boys will sort of make up for Grandma
being gone." I liked my Aunt. Everyone said that Ginny and Tina were like
two peas from the same pod.

Aunt Ginny likewise figured that cooking for eight would be as easy as
cooking for five. (She pretty much did their figuring.) With us two boys
now on board, though, it might be like cooking for ten. Mom could spell
her some on weekends. Anyway, with my brother Andrew going in the Navy
right after graduation, we'd really be just two extra. According to their
mom, the twins Betty and Aida would love having cousins around. Susan
wouldn't even notice. Uncle Rupert and Mom would be working 40-plus at the
factory, so why not? Win the War.

Why not? Well, since you asked…

(1) Cousin Susan was a show-off because she dated seniors. I was her
ninth-grade cousin who didn't even play football. She'd probably call me
"Howie", not "Howard", my real name.

(2) Cousins Betty and Aida were 13, two years younger than me, thus
hardly worth doing much with.

(3) I'd end up with all the boys' chores while Andrew pretended to be
doing homework so he could graduate like he promised the Draft Board. That
was the deal: drop out and get drafted or finish school and enlist. Half
his class thought the Army would be more fun than geometry, so promptly
quit. Seniors like Andrew who wanted something exotic like the Navy or
Army Air Corps needed to hang in there till June. Sgt. Cooper, our Great
War veteran, arranged for Andrew to enlist in the Navy. A recruiter's duty
is to the military in general, he said, not his own unit. Just if they had
no preference, he'd steer them toward the Infantry.

(4) Pops bolted when the ranks opened for older men. He basically
wanted to drink where Mom couldn't find him. He'd showed Andrew and me his
spitball, but my bother was already the better athlete and I'd no interest.
His interest in us didn't extend much beyond playing catch. There'd never
be reason for him to move back. My brother figured that maybe he'll see
Pops guarding a lock when Andrew's cruiser steamed by, but as Pops never
wrote, we weren't sure he hadn't gone AWOL.

Housewise, I couldn't complain, though. I'd have my own room, end of
the hall. Andrew got the middle and Mom, next to the stairs. Grandma's
place had two bathrooms, one per family, we'd already decided. I'd at
least be closer to high school next year.

It only took three trips to move our things in the truck Uncle Rupert
borrowed. Aunt Ginny had dinner on by the time we'd reassembled our bed
frames. Rhubarb pie! She knew I'd devour it.

I even had to admit afterwards, to myself anyway, that the twins weren't
that bad, sometimes even OK when things got slow. We'd put a canvas over
their tree house where we'd smoke cigarettes. When we each admitted we
didn't like to inhale, we laughed and laughed, knowing that only cousins
could get away with not having to pretend. "The Three Youngsters" were in
charge of leaf raking, not that bad of a task when attacked by a
triumvirate. We'd argue about this and that, but them no more with me than
when they'd handled it between themselves. Then we'd bury each other in
the leaf pile. The twins were old enough to get my hand to bump into them
under the leaves.


Susan was Miss Big Teenage in her sisters' opinion. Cheerleader,
lipstick, heels, fags in her purse lining, boyfriends who, her sisters
insisted, unbuttoned her blouse. Susan was nice enough to me, just nothing
extra. She'd help with my mathematics, but never volunteer. Maybe because
I was getting better than her.

I thought she was pretty and had seen her brassiere when her bathrobe
wasn't tight. She'd sometimes loosen the belt between when she went to the
icebox and returned with the cream, even. Since she was my cousin, it
wasn't a big thing, but I'd still peeked until she'd sashayed away. Once
she teased, "36" at catching me. For her, I was something to giggle at
between her more-important things.

I could tell that Andrew noticed too. For him, though, Susan
unabashedly begged his attention. If Susan were on the porch swing when
Andrew ambled home from baseball, she'd beckon him over to discuss Bing
Crosby. If Andrew were listening to war news on the RCA Victor, she'd ask
wide-eyed if he thought they'd send him there. How many stripes would he
get when he finished gunnery training? Andrew liked the stripe business.

It didn't hurt that the rally squad got to hug the lineup after a league
victory. Special hugs proclaimed who'd be hugging whom in the backseats
and then on the blankets at Lakeside. Susan had this month's steady to
special hug, of course, but now also Andrew because he was her cousin.
Probably to make her steady jealous, we figured.

Not a few of the starting lineup opted for the draft just to be gone
when their girl missed her period. The community could say how the baby's
dad was overseas as if he'd been jerked from the aisle and was hustling

How quickly a 17-year-old could distance herself from a 15-year-old to
gain stature with an 18-year-old. Maybe she'd be grinning at my joke about
Hans the Hun when Andrew appeared for breakfast. Joke forgotten. Me
forgotten. Between her picking up the Saturday Evening Post and showing
Andrew the pictures of Alaska, she'd loosen her bathrobe. I couldn't be
sure, though, because she'd never turn my way. Did she not want me to look
now? Just Andrew?

Then I realized that my brother was getting more than hints of
underwear. Mom and Uncle Rupert were working. I'd come home (how quickly
this new place became "home", I thought) when the twins were at piano.
(Aunt Ginny had them share lessons to cut expense. Aida was usually enough
behind her sister for their recital duets that Miss McCray would give Betty
three hands to play and Aida one.) Aunt Ginny was out as well. I knew that
the two older kids were home by their trail of scarves, books, baseball
glove and pompoms. They must have had practices cancelled, just like my
play rehearsal.

I was almost to my own room when I heard the two in Andrew's. Susan's
teasy giggle, the "36" one, was clear; Andrew's was muffled. Only when I
had dropped my loafers to the floor with their telltale thumps did the
adjacent room fall silent. Some minutes later, Andrew stuck his head in my

"You here, Howard?"

"I guess." Dumb question I thought.

"Been here long?"

"Just got here."

"Anyone else around?"

"Don't think so."

"So don't go talking."

"'Bout what?"

Andrew left. Not a minute later, Susan darted in and gave me a big
kiss, the type associated with great aunts. More actually, as it made me
lose my place in Buck Rogers when her tongue flicked me. Wow!

"You promise?" was her explanation.

"Sure," the safe response, not seeing how I could break it.

It was the twins who disclosed to me what I'd promised.


"Howard?" asked Betty in the tree house after oblique communication with
her sibling. I'd had long ago ceased trying to decipher what the two
telegraphed via the telepathic radios they were born with.


"You know, Susan and Andrew?"

"Know what?"

"What they do?"


A flurry of giggles, but clearly the two had already decided to share
their secret. "They might make a baby."

"You mean…?"

Aida jumped in. "We've watched 'em try."

I wasn't exactly sure these two knew what they were talking about. "You
watched them, you know, do it?" I pressed.

Aida was already answering, "From when they start lying down to when he
pulls it out." The two giggled at their bold explicitness.

Betty blushed, but didn't want to yield all the thunder to her younger
twin. It was Betty, after all, who'd started the revelation. "Not just
when he pulls it out, but how Susan can get it back up for a double
feature!" They were giggling too much to even understand. "They both have
all their hair." I knew that this was true about my brother, anyway.

"Ever see your folks hump?" asked Aida as if it were family small talk.
She puffed an imaginary cigarette as she queried. Maybe she thought acting
older helped.

"How would I?" I answered, not expecting an answer.

"Find a nail-hole in their wall," my cousin's casual answer.

"We've seen ours," smiled Betty. "It's not gross or anything."

Aida returned to my brother. "Andrew thinks he's so swell at it, but
you can tell Susan's better, the way she bounces. She's at least done it
with…" the sentence breaking as the two rushed to protect their sibling
from what even a cousin needn't know.

"Andrew told her that he'll never do it in the Navy and catch the clap,"
she continued.

"As if she'll be waiting for him," finished Betty. The two smirked at
the improbability of the wisecrack.

Aida looked at me squarely. "Ever see boobs bounce?"


"Ever see boobs, period?" she challenged. In asking, Aida pulled up
enough shirt to expose the lower half of a breast, but then pulled it down
again. She wasn't much, but I looked, achieving her intent.

"Just Susan's brassiere," answered Betty for me. Susan must have told
her sisters. Was it to make fun of my not playing football? Betty added,
probably for my benefit, "She says 36, but the label's 34."

"We think she's keeping it in her safe time, pretty sure anyway." From
the way that Betty phrased the last part, maybe they didn't know if Susan
was being safe or maybe they didn't know exactly how the safe time works.
Thirteen-year-old girls had to rely on playground lore, same as 15-year-old

"We watch her supplies," explained Aida. "You know about monthlies?" I
sort of did, but realized I wasn't totally sure what these supplies were.
Did the twins use supplies as well? I expected they might, since they
seemed to know how to watch.

"Once we saw Andrew do it in the air!" Aida was beaming in recollection.
Betty somewhat frowned at so much getting said, but laughed as well.

Aida looked at speechless me. "Wanna see yourself?" It was more
challenge than question.

"You're just joking," I protested. "We can't watch, even if it's true."
Any excuse to dismiss this revelation.

Aida leaned forward. "In and out, in and out, just like Birkey's dogs,"
she tried to make me flinch. She added another "In and out" for good
measure. We'd seen the canines in heat. A mutt would mount his companion,
furiously thrust while the bitch sniffed the fencepost, and then sometimes
remain stuck for five or ten minutes. I wasn't fazed by dog doings, anyway
not to an extent I'd admit to a younger cousin, a girl at that.

Aida leaned even nearer, "It's something to see Susan make him hold off
till he begs." This time she registered my astonishment, just my blink, but
cousins have telepathy too, perhaps. She grinned at piercing my armor.
Though the twins were two years my younger, they were tough. She mouthed,
"In and out."

Aida couldn't resist losing control of the tale from Betty. "She even
makes him let her be on top!" in undeniable awe of her sister's audacity.
"She just pushes him where she wants him," giving me a little push to show
she could too. When I moved, she knew she'd nailed me. "The rule is, is
that before we let you watch, you have to say, 'In and out' three times up
here in the tree house. It's the rule."

I didn't have much choice. "In and out. In and out. In and out. But
only maybe."

Betty declared my agreement, something I'd not exactly agreed to, but
something that maybe a twin could take the blame for if I got caught. "OK,
we'll show you how to spy when they do it. You don't know the house, but
we do."

Aida added something cryptic, something that Betty pinched off with a
look or perhaps imperceptible hand motion. "Susan knows the spy places
too. Sometimes she puts his pillow at the foot so they're facing."

Intoxicated with their revelation, with their recruitment, each twin
gave me a big kiss. Amazed as I was at their disclosure, I was equally
amazed at the smacks. All three cousins had given me one! It wasn't until
I'd adsorbed this reality that I blushed with the knowledge of what they'd

Climbing down from the tree house, Aida said she'd go first, me second.
"If you look down," Aida flicked me her grin as she disappeared over the
edge, "you might even see the rest of what you just about saw." Betty held
my hand to get me going. Sure enough, there was Aida with enough neckline
open to show both breasts, small, but already rounding. "I've got Susan's
molecules," she explained as she reached terra firma and ran ahead. That
being the case, I later realized, so did Betty, but Betty didn't go first.

They knew they'd taken the upper hand, that whatever leverage Susan had
on Andrew, they'd get on me. Not being their sister's age, it wasn't as
blatant, but indeed they had.

They'd toss their sexual bait. One of them might claim my bathroom and
say we had to share if I really, really needed to pee. I wouldn't. They'd
try to trap me into the hall in my underwear. They took to flashing me
theirs. Maybe 32 if Susan were 34, I guessed, but lovely flesh in that 32;
I knew that much from Aida. Basically they wanted me thinking about sex.
Of course it worked.

It was a week later when Betty beckoned me beside the carriage
shed/garage, depending on your generation. When Uncle Rupert bought a car,
it would be the latter. "We know Susan's cycle better than she does.
Now's when she likes to do it. At least she's a little bit smart, anyway.
We'll come and get you, so be ready, FBI-man."

I wasn't sure what being ready entailed, but when a hand shook me out of
slumber two nights later, I knew it would be a twin.

"Stay barefoot," I was instructed. I couldn't tell at first which girl
it was, but the light blue nightgown meant Betty. Aida was in a long shirt
and panties that peeked below the hem. My pajamas were my winter flannels.

"Don't make any noise," whispered Betty, taking my hand.

It was dark in the linen closet by the landing, but the girls had their
EverReady. They worked by practiced maneuver, shifting a stack of towels
from the back shelf, twisting the shelf outward and popping open a shutter
behind. Though I couldn't see within, I guessed it to be access to a crawl
space below the front porch roof. Betty gave me the flashlight and went in
first. Aida followed, but not before scrunching her shirt above her middle
to flash me her breasts. "Remember?" Her grin was enormous as she bid me
follow her white panties. (I didn't know it then, but some deer have white
tails for perhaps the same follow-me signal.) The space was crawlable,
wooden floored, its length denoted by ventilation windows at either end. I
must have always seen these windows from the outside and never wondered
where they connected.

Betty led as we three half crawled, half slid past what would be Mom's
room. Ten feet beyond, our trio halted. Aida pointed to two dots on the
wall, nail-holes greyly lit from the other side. Betty was already
kneeling up to the farthest. I peered through the nearer.

At first I was disoriented. The vantage point, not much above desktop
level, was perhaps beside Andrew's dresser, but I wasn't certain, as I'd
paid little attention to my brother's furniture. I could see his door and
bed. Dimly lit by the curtained window above our crawl space, Andrew lay
face down across a vaguely-defined lump of sheet and extremities. It was
Susan, once I sorted out her parts. The intertwined pair wasn't
appreciably moving.

Aida pulled me back and made her own appraisal. She reached to her
sister and gestured, hands up, did we miss it? Betty flashed her fingers
twice, ten. Ten what? The twins made themselves comfortable, not as
relaxed as the two on the bed, but enough to wait for something to
transpire. My own heart was pounding. What if we get caught? What if we
see something we shouldn't? My cousins pretended to smoke.

In not that many minutes (leading me to interpret Betty's signal as an
estimate of interlude), Aida, who'd been checking, waived to her sister to
assume her nail hole. After a moment's observation, Aida relinquished her
spot to me.

The bedded couple had reversed direction so that Andrew's head was in
the direction of our silent spying. Susan faced us astride my brother, his
penis inferably buried upward. She rocked forward and backward, not yet
mating, just preparing. Her breasts, smaller seeming than when she'd
flashed me her underwear, bounced with each sway. Must be 34, I thought,
if there were some debate. Somehow, that seemed important to know. Susan
smiled the way she'd looked when she'd whispered me the larger number.
Then her mouth fell open. Though the hole would be nothing but a tiny spot
on the opposite wall, her eyes seemed to find me. They gleamed, the
brightest illumination in the room.

Their sounds of their lovemaking were barely audible. The pair was
doing what they could to stifle broadcast of their coupling into the hall.
None-the-less, my cousin's increasing exertions against my brother's lap
put the swishing of sheets, the rasp of bedsprings, the gasp of breath into
my ears. You hear more when you're watching, same as you taste more when
you're smelling.

I sensed from Susan's teenage urgency that soon they would culminate.
Somehow I knew how Susan would scrunch up her face and drive for deepest
penetration. How was it for Andrew there beneath her? What must it be
like to be inside a girl's body, the slipping in and out? To be able to
touch her breasts? To make her wild? What if she'd come into my room, had
kissed me, had sat beside me on my bed?

It was Aida's turn at the peephole now. Betty's spy site remained hers
alone. I could see the triangle of Aida's panties even in the darkness.
But Aida waved me back, sentencing me to witness the climax, grinning at my
obedience, her teeth as white as her panties.

As I turned again to view, I realized that I was erect in my pajamas.
Hunched forward, it wouldn't have been visible to someone beside me, but
Aida knew anyway. Watching the two on the bed, however, made it seem less
an issue. Nobody had ever known when I was erect before, but then I had
never seen anybody having sex before.

Powerless to stop her, I felt her slip behind me and reach around my
chest. She shouldn't, I knew, but then I also knew that we shouldn't be
where we were, watching what we were watching. It seemed almost a relief
when Aida touched me through my flannels, my length, my circumference, my
hardness, my balls. I let her rest her chin on my shoulder while she

Later, of course, I realized that there'd been one who'd felt my
erection before, but that was so long ago.

She undid my drawstring. Though what Susan and my brother were doing in
the dimness excited me, what Aida was doing in the dark consumed more of my
senses. She slipped me out, encircling me with her fingers. Cold fingers.
Oh God. She'll make me come in her hand. I knew that I'd push and pull
against her clench, thinking "no" but praying "yes".

The only thing better in her mind than masturbating me would be to prove
her power to make me do it for her. "Don't pay me much mind, Howard," she
whispered for Betty to hear too. "There's a spy-hole in your wall too.
Nothing you do is news. Don't worry. That stuff in your Scout book about
health isn't true." They knew that, even?

To clinch her dominance, "You sort of glow pink!" My face? My penis? I
didn't dare ask.

To cement her co-conspiratorial role, "But twins never tell on each
other and you're sorta in with us." But still, even so?

"You think of my tits sometimes?" I forgot the ones I was watching.

"Maybe a little," resigned to my impending humiliation. Would she make
me lie on this wooden floor and shine the flashlight while I do it for
them? I awaited her to push me down.

"You'll remember 'em more, now that I asked." Probably true, I realized.
I do remember how pretty they were. They're rubbing my back now.

"Your Scout book say anything about cleaning up? Want my hankie?"

"Girls have white ones," I protested, trying to focus on the orgasms
impending on the other side of the wall. Thinking about my own would make
it happen.

"That's why I want you to use it."

I was captive to both Susan and Aida, the former as she provoked me with
each grind, the latter as she held me motionless. If I moved, I wouldn't
be able to stop.

I had to prevail, to not masturbate myself against Aida's ready hand.
She'd made it our contest. And somehow I survived it, watching Susan and
Andrew attack one another on the bed, moving not a muscle myself. Her hand
there, I didn't mind. I wanted her to know, even, that I was grown up too.
I just didn't want to wet it with my wad.

Susan climaxed with the face I knew she'd make. I was perhaps seeping a
little, but still contained.

"You're a trooper," Aida offered in honest congratulation. All three of
us behind the wall knew she could have made me, probably in two pulls, but
she'd made it our contest and cousins don't change the rules.

When we crawled out of the linen closet wall, Aida gave me a kiss. "I
liked it. You, I mean. Now keep remembering my tits some more."

Thirty minutes after I'd crept back to my room, she followed. Somehow I
knew she'd be the shadow pulling the door closed behind her, hooking the
latch. She had her top and undies off in the time it took to pass from
door to bed. There was no doubt but that she'd come to claim my virginity.
I lay motionless as she disrobed me.

She had as much hair as I did, not thick, but fluffy. I'd never touched
a girl, top or bottom, before. But when she pressed my hand to her, I did.
Her fingers around me weren't as much to manipulate a response as to
confirm my surrender.

There was no question that she'd do it from the top. Her being just 13
didn't seem to pose much difficulty. I'd no idea a girl would be so slick
inside. "Susan showed us," she explained, proficiently climaxing with me
as soon as she felt my throbs.

"Two less virgins," was her satisfied summary. She may have been a
technical virgin, I recognized, but she'd practiced by other methods.

It's odd, looking back on such a moment, once per lifetime by
definition, how little else of my own first fuck I remember.

Thereafter when we spied, one of my co-conspirators would hold me.
Feeling me was worth missing our older sibling's show. Whichever cousin
held me would visit my room.

Aida would always take control of our mating. Betty, on the other hand,
let me lay her back knees spread, and love her like a soldier. As I'd
already made love with Aida, I was Betty's teacher, odd as that sounds. I
wasn't even sure of Betty's first orgasm, since she cried while it
happened. She said that she wasn't sad; her tears were because she was
grown up now and she'd always be glad it was with me. When we'd finish,
she'd hold me on her until we went to sleep. Aida at least once had to
sneak in at daybreak and wake us, having a little fun in the process.

I didn't even know that Susan knew until she too nuzzled me in the late
night hours. "Let's get on the floor so we don't rattle anything," her
invitation. She seemed to delight in how much she could demonstrate. "But
you never even hint to Andrew, you hear," was her condition. "He'd never
understand, especially about you kids watching. I take care of him, not

The three obviously had their safest times. Later when Susan procured
rubbers "from Uncle Sam", as she put it, we made love more often. I didn't
like the condoms, especially as they'd rinse them out for multiple uses,
but I couldn't let a cousin get pregnant.

After my brother left for boot camp, it was easier. With an empty room
next door, Susan was less concerned with rattling. With two adults working
and one running errands, I sometimes would be bedded in broad daylight. I
thought I was pretty good, actually, but of course I wasn't. As much as I
liked my manly role, I wished I were more part of the planning. Betty was
the only one who'd ask.


It was Nixon vs. Kennedy. The War seemed so long ago. When Andrew was
lost in the Pacific, the Draft Board said one per family was enough and
they let me go on to college. I'd majored in engineering and got my start
with radio transmission before the GI Bill was pumping out more-deserving

Aida was married, spouse Alfred and little Andrew. Alfred was right for
her, but engaged or married, Aida and I still made love. Just keeping
alive what we'd already started, she'd rule. I'd try to dissuade her and
still end up panting on the bottom, her breasts just as pretty as when
she'd climbed down from the tree house. "You'll remember 'em more, now
that I asked," I still remember.

She'd tease me that little Andrew was actually mine, as indeed she'd
stopped by my place about the right time. I can hear her, "Al, darling,
I'll just stay at my cousin's while I'm in Madison." And being one to cover
her bases, right after return, "Oh, Al, I missed you so much! It won't
matter if we're a little late to the Thompson's." As Aida and I were of the
same stock, halfway anyway, little Andrew's looks didn't prove anything.
Her belief wasn't even the months or the features, actually. She'd claimed
to feel my sperm fertilize her egg, however that feels, right there in my
bed. But there's no sense fostering a story that years later might get
rendered as truth.

During her ("our," she'd smile) pregnancy, I'd feel her swelling belly
bounce on mine, her arms pinning down my shoulders. She insisted that her
doctor said it was fine, "just not too rigorous." I'd hold her breasts,
noting their readying for motherhood.

But I'd say, "If Susan was tricking me about her 36's, you're tricking
me about your 34's. I took this course, Engineering Measurement." (There
was no such class, of course.) "And our homework was the Home Ec.
Department." Aida pointed out that Home Ec. girls never dated engineers,
but once a year they'd offer their Laundry Technology Lab machine to wash
all our handkerchiefs, their way to help us guys beat the Reds. They'd
post the laundry offer where the whole campus would see. The Dean of Women
thought it was patriotic.

Making love with Aida was always fun.

Betty had yet to settle down domestically and, all things considered,
had chosen prudently. There weren't that many women in TV production back
then. To advance, she'd change jobs as opportunities arose. She seemed to
thrive, half the time on the road. (If you have a vintage TV channel on
cable, you can still see her name sometimes when the credits roll.) She was
to me still as sexy as she'd been at half her age, but I knew she'd moved
on. If she were in Madison for work, we'd enjoy the old-time aspect, but
it wasn't why she'd come to town.

But sometimes, since vacationing on your own isn't much fun, we'd go
someplace together, maybe a lodge at a National Park. (Who can afford to
these days?) I once tried, "I'm a Howard too," hinting for a discount at a
Howard Johnson's. Just once I tried that, as Betty gave me a look so
wilting, what clerks probably call the "too-long-married look" and we
weren't even married! She said to ask for discounts when you book, not
with your woman there.

Breaking away from work made us younger. We'd wrestle in the leaves
away from the nature path with the numbered trees.

"Are we under number 12 or a 22? The nameplate's dirty."

"Who cares, Howard? You think I need to put this back on?"

"Nobody knows you here. The only reason you wear one is producers do
and actresses don't."

"That so?" Betty didn't miss a beat, maybe why she was good at TV
timing. "Well my crew having filmed us from behind 22 makes me an actress
then. 'Naturally in Yellowstone' we're calling it. Maybe 'Relatively Old
Faithful'. Eight millimeter. You boys get the sound OK? If not, I'll
overdub later."

As much as we'd laugh, our sex was serious. We'd work as one till sweat
rolled. We'd talk each other to climax. We'd caress while our juices
mingled. She still wanted me on top and sometimes cried when we'd part.
So did I, but later.

Making love with Betty was about engaging.

From Betty I discovered a misimpression I'd carried from our spying
days. She'd never assumed the first nail-hole for herself just because she
was older by a few minutes. Some twins work that way. Aida's generosity
in sharing the second spy-hole with me led to Aida bedding me first. (Most
every guy's virginity goes to the girl who first undoes his pants.) But I
wish now, though, that it were Betty who'd taken mine that night. Betty
said the important thing was that hers went to me.

Susan was divorced, having married a Navy pilot of zero integrity. No
kids, at least, as she'd seen it coming. She'd gone to college to study
teaching the mentally retarded and was really good at it. The twins still
saw her as the bossy one, but I found her sweet.

In the year before she left for California, I'd more sex with her than
with the other two combined. She was 18; I, 16. She even went out for
drama so she and I could do it backstage. Every cast member, every crew
member in a play needs to be in his exact place at every moment. We'd know
that during Act 2, Scene 2 nobody would be wandering around behind the
curtain where Scene 1's sofa had been pushed.

But since then, if anything, I'd grown to savor her finesse. Take
something like dozing on a picnic, my head touching just the edge of her
breast, her hand casually against my shorts. I should perhaps be a bit
more specific. Her hand, with scarcely perceptible movement, could bring
me to a rolling orgasm seen to the public as only lazy stretches. She
could basically do the same to herself mentally, my head against her just
the instigation. The less we moved, the more we thrilled, happier than if
we'd bucked around in a 5-star suite with Champagne in an ice bucket.

Making love with Susan was always intoxicating. I wish my first picture
of her, so to speak, hadn't been captured through a nail-hole.

I wasn't taken myself, but wasn't sure I wanted to be. I'd linked my
engineering future with space travel. Well, maybe not quite rockets, but
communication to things up there, at least. Beating the Russians involved
terrestrial travel too. My group worked with items, the diameters of which
if I told you, I'd have to shoot you (an in-joke popular with engineers).
Engineers battling the Russian play to win, just like football teams.


It took this long for my three cousins and I to really talk. We'd not
had a half bottle of wine between the four of us, but it's the glassware
that licenses. We were on Aida's front porch for Labor Day. I claimed the
swing. Betty undid my sandals so she could rub my feet. Lots of guys
don't want it, but she knew I liked it. Having close cousins is a lot more
than just having sex.

"Andrew was going off to fight. If I hadn't, maybe he'd have never,"
Susan justified, acknowledging that we were all thinking about past years.
In various aspects, the four of us had known sex, love and the spectrum

The four of us wondered if our close upbringing, as we might look back
upon those years, was related to only one of us being successfully married.
Two of us hadn't even given it a shot. We weren't off the bell curve, just
to one side.

"We could have goofed up, what we knew." It was Aida.

"God, we were carefree, weren't we?" reflected Susan. "Howard and me
hearing Mr. Mumford and sitting up in time. He knew any other couple back
there on the sofa would have been making out, but for two cousins it's,
'Don't bump the curtain, you two.'"

"So what do you three think about the Braves?" my attempt to turn us
toward baseball.

"Well I was betting on the reruns," reflected Betty, ignoring our ball
club's plight, "and Howard wasn't going to college for three years, and
then he'd still come home for vacations." She smiled. "I had a lot to look
forward to."

"And he still takes vacations," she added, "because they make him,
wherever that place is that he works." She furtively looked around to see
if any foreigners were lurking on the steps. "So I've still got something
to look forward to." She kissed my toe.

Aida, hands across chest, her I-got-cheated gesture. "Yeah, but some of
those reruns needed something spliced into the middle," funnier now than
when a less-than-optimal performance left her shortchanged. Being one
against three, you don't bat 1000. We all laughed.

"Susan here watching us watch her, what a Barnum and Bailey!" I entered
the fray.

"Just faced the music to make sure you kids behind the wall didn't doze

"It was Dad and Aunt Tina who'd wake us up," stated Betty factually.

We three young spies had discovered this liaison literally in passing,
slipping through the crawl space toward Andrew's room when we heard love in
the making one room too short.

There was but one possibility — it had to be either a sneak thief or
Uncle Rupert and all outside doors were locked. If it had been an outside
lover, I wouldn't have wanted to know.

Aida punched two holes the next afternoon. "I found this squarish nail
on the ledge," she explained. "It's probably been used for generations." I
didn't ask why she'd not punched three.

Mom was standing by her bed, bra straps already down, Rupert unhooking
her from behind. I surrendered my spot to one of the girls. When my turn
resumed, I saw Mom's pubic hair, but not what it hid. Uncle Rupert was
above her, her hand stroking his erection. Betty was next, but after the
moment it took her to note what was coming, she drew me back to witness the
penetration. She knew that it was what I'd come for. I wanted to stay
till Mom's climax, but knew that I needn't know it all this night. I
sensed, correctly it so happens, that that Uncle Rupert and Mom were in no

The girls watched their intercourse, nudging each other.

The girls let me watch their next rendezvous in its entirety. It wasn't
as vigorous as that in the adjacent room. Mom's not being 17 resulted in
less-adventuresome coupling, but I found no it less compelling. In fact, I
found it more compelling. The more I watched her body, the more I
anticipated her pleasures.

Aida would claim her place behind me. I wanted her there, even. "Just
tell me when she comes," was all I had to do. But now, rather than
allowing me to dissociate, she could just let the moment lead itself.

I reported as instructed. "She's there." I would too, right in Aida's

"'Twasn't me, big boy," she happily announced, "big boy" establishing
that I was her little boy, albeit two years her senior. She wiped her hand
on my pajamas not in victory, though, but simply as what needed to get
done. She knew it wasn't really her doing.

"Feel cozy? It's harder for us."

Mom and Uncle Rupert met for love almost nightly after Aunt Ginny was
asleep, Rupert driving Mom onward with measured strokes, me climaxing in a
cousin's grasp when my uncle's objective was fulfilled. It was something I
wanted to offer Mom, but knew I couldn't.

The twins didn't seem to find it odd that I'd breathe with Mom, even.
If anything, the twins backed off, letting my mind travel farther and
farther into my mother's moment before they touched me. Though the two had
exposed me fully to test my resolve in watching Susan and Andrew, they
didn't open my pajamas when I watched Mom. Their touch was so I'd not be

With a twin's hand in my pajamas, I'd ejaculate as fully as would my
uncle. When Betty would assume the receiver's role, rather than
surreptitiously rubbing my pajamas afterwards, she'd press her wet hand
into her own nightgown. And it was Betty who'd reach over and kiss me as
Mom quieted.

Even drinking wine, years later, my cousins didn't probe my infatuation.
They'd sensed how I'd watched. It of course ties to Freud and Oedipus, but
not in a boy's eyes. (Even engineers know that much. The salvation in
engineering education is that we don't have to take psychology. We take
real science and real humanities.)

"At least Aunt Tina wasn't doing it as a lesson for youth, like Miss Big
Teenage here," taunted Betty, partially in humor, partially in truth, but
mostly too to draw us back together on Aida's porch. Nobody wanted more
than a half-inch more of wine. (We beat the Russians using pounds and
inches, not metric.)

"Howard was a good learner, wherever he was studying," Susan's
deflection generating gales of laughter from the three. "Probably ready
for another lesson," she added solemnly, sitting beside me with a show of
slipping off her own sandal to goose me with her toe. She knew I couldn't
stop her if she wanted me right there on the porch. She wouldn't, though,
because it would end our fun.

But Betty sprung to my rescue, flinging herself between and locking both
our shoulders to her. "Say 'cheese' for the family album! Howard, me and
as always, ta daaa, our very own Miss Big Teenage!"

Aida already had her pretend camera set up. Telepathy.

"Howard, maybe you'd better cross your legs," Susan ordered from her end
of the swing. I'd become the target of this Labor Day, no question about

"Geesh, she's still OK for a big sister," offered Betty. She kissed us

"Hey, Howard," interrupted Aida. "While we're filming Betty's special
on American families, you know the nail-hole in your wall I told you

Betty wouldn't let me bolt. I wasn't so agreeable about being the
subject any more. Aida zoomed in for a close-up.

"We never used it. We didn't really want to know."

I obviously looked confused. But she'd said that…

Forgetting her pretend camera, Aida clarified, "It was more fun tricking
you to tell us."

I suppose I had.

"Still got my handkerchief?" she added for our pretend film. I'd not
returned it because even after I bleached it, I thought she could probably
tell. She'd have said she could, in any case.

It sort of came together that evening. Each of the three had shared sex
with me, an historical fact. Three out of the four of us, our virginities
with each other. We all loved each other, something nobody else can really
judge. Life had dealt us different personalities, but none of us would
have traded away our youth.

On that Labor Day we were not far from 30. The gist drifted into the
sagas about shared exploits, my taking a big share of the shelling. Being
the male was like having a bulls-eye on your fly, with those three, anyway.
It was family chat, me having become more like their brother. You can say
more on a porch about sex and love than you can write in your diary.

Plus you can get your feet rubbed for just the cost of hearing a
cousin's spiel about guys not changing their socks. At the end, another
cousin scores on you with a toe that stayed ready. It only took a second
to achieve confirmation. Yet another cousin makes a pretend movie of the
whole thing. Susan of course claimed first dibs with her toe, but didn't
collect till later.

And my spectrum between? My cousins were (and still are) the only women
with whom I've made love, but for one. (Or men, for that matter. Loving
your mom doesn't make you homosexual. My group watches that stuff, rest
assured. My clearance suggests that cousins, however, don't pose a
security risk.) The fact that the three didn't ride me about my spectrum
("Still virgin because cousins hardly count," perhaps) means they loved me.
My spectrum was in quality, not quantity. I'd have liked the three to know
more about their mother.


The love I didn't reflect upon involved Aunt Ginny, something that
needn't be shared with her daughters.

It came to fruition not that long after Andrew enlisted. Aunt Ginny and
I were in the parlor, sipping the grain drink sold as "Victory Cup".
Coffee drinkers sometimes suggested surrendering to the Nips so we could
get back to Java.

"Howard," she paused, and then continued, "Your mother and I grew up
here." I knew that, of course. "We knew the secret places." I looked up.
"How to watch what was happening. We had a nail we used."

She was telling me that she knew.

Aunt Ginny watched me until something I did (I don't know what)
confirmed that I'd understood. Then she continued, "The holes in Andrew's
room go way back. It was our guest room back then." Her recollections
carried her back for a moment. But then again in the present, "I knew
they'd taken you back there from the way you started to look at Susan. Or
should I say, started to look every way but at Susan. At first I waited
for a third hole, but then I realized how sharing could be part of

I nodded, not sure where we were going. Plastering the wall would be
easy. But would Mom and I have to move out? Would I have to face Susan?

"Susan's very active," her mother explained. "Maybe you know that, now
that your brother is away," she added, almost softly. "It's not like I
need to save her from anything but her 17-year-old self."

Should I admit I'd done it with Susan? Pledge to stop? I'd stop with
the other two as well, even if she didn't suspect.

"But it was your mom's room that told me the rest."

Oh, no.

"Two holes told me it wasn't just a boy watching his mom dress." She
smiled. "If it was one, I'd have just moved the dresser in front, not even
told Tina."

She looked at herself, her polka dotted blouse. "Have you seen me
dress?" she added, almost as an afterthought.

I shook my head and she smiled again. "Two holes, not three in her
room, told me you'd become close cousins. Maybe regular cousins can watch
their big brothers and sisters make love, but you'd have to be close to
share your parents. Really close to share a hole together to watch

She waited a moment. "I don't really need to know what else." She
blinked back what appeared to be tears. "They're my girls, all three.
Susan's older. Listen to her."

Did she know that Susan could get rubbers? I tried to think of what to
say, but came out blank.

Aunt Ginny wasn't awaiting my explanation, whatever it might have been.
"She's been lonely, Tina."

I knew who "she" was without the clarification. We'd finished talking
about her daughters.

The adultery aspect never got pursued among us kids, but we knew. Aunt
Ginny wasn't a Bible thumper who needed a commandment to sort things out;
she was being cheated on. There were Biblical stories of a man taking his
wife's widowed sisters, but this was 1943.

Pops had once briefly shown up in transit to somewhere and then
disappeared again without even leaving the grace of divorce papers. At
least the twins knew their parents were yet in love. So it wasn't as if
Uncle Rupert had pulled a Pops on Aunt Ginny. If Mom knew that Aunt Ginny
knew, none of us had ever seen it played out between them. It was easier
to leave alone.

"Rupert's the only other man Tina's ever had and that wasn't until you
moved here." She dropped her eyes. "She's a better woman than I was."

She paused, then added, "He's good to me, even better, I suppose. Tina
doesn't even have a husband any more. A guy's able physically, but he has
to be loving." She paused again, engulfed.

"So they can," she concluded. "Rupert's no less my husband. He's not
clever about it. Doesn't need to be if I seem asleep when he comes in. He
loves me. I love Tina. So does he. I love you too, Howard. We're

Perhaps my aunt realized that I needed something trivial. "A nail on
the ledge where you can find it in the dark. Same one?"

"The old square kind," I confirmed, thankful for the reprieve.

Thus having opened me, "Does it make you ready, watching her?"

I nodded, fearing to lie.

"The twins don't mind seeing their dad, either," she correctly noted.
"Go look in our room sometime and you'll see where somebody once hung a
picture half-way up the wall. Nobody puts pictures that low. Then go out
into the canning closet and move the fruit jars. The girls never get them
back the same way. Rupert never knows. Why should he?"

Her blue-green eyes, not my mother's blue, searched me. "But not
between a mom and her boy, Howard. It's not right. She's got Rupert."

"And you need her too, Howard," she sighed. "Oh, Howard, you always
have." She touched my arm.

Need my mother? Aunt Ginny looked at me until I began to understand.

"With me, Howard. Me. In her room. She'd already understand, know it
was the way. You will." She rose, our decision made. Not knowing what
else to do, I stood as well and followed upstairs.

Shutting Mom's door, she faced me squarely. Her smile was Mom's. "Undo
me like you'd do to her."

I didn't even know I wanted to until I fumbled with her blouse and she
giggled, Mom-like. I'd seen her brassiere before. Truth be told, I'd seen
everyone's. You can't live with females and not. But unlike Susan, she'd
never used it to entice me. It had been more interesting to me than
sexual. But now I saw her underwear for what it held. Aunt Ginny's breasts
seemed smaller than Mom's, but then I'd just seen Mom's from a spy-hole.

She shook her hair loose.

Sensing my hesitancy, she stepped out of her skirt, then panties, white
ones that came nearly to her belly button. Her triangle of black looked
like Mom's. I could only look. Like two peas from the same pod, they'd

Nipples erect, she deftly stripped me. Mom's nipples. I touched one.

Her matter-of-factness spoke of when Mom used to strip me for my bath
and dry me afterwards. I'd been big enough to do both myself, but it was
her job. She'd be in just bra and panties, having bathed first or going to
bathe next. Those were the days when you reused your hot water. In the
padded conical brassieres of the time, her nipples still showed.

I hadn't understood when my penis started to respond to Mom's touch. It
wasn't that I wanted her to stop; I just didn't know what it was. She kept
her job as drier, working the towel longer and longer, sometimes letting
the back of her fingers contact, until I began to shy away. I was too big
to ignore it, too little to comprehend it. After those years, I was alone
for my bath.

I remembered the claw-foot tub when I was even younger, how she'd get in
and soap me. She'd carefully keep the suds out of my eyes while I'd lean
back against her slick breasts.

With Aunt Ginny, now I was half hard. I touched her breasts more fully,
half expecting them to be soapy too. They were indeed moist.

I realized I'd always known Mom's pubic hair: against my buns in the
tub; wisping out of her panties as she toweled me; standing by her bed with
Rupert combing from behind with his fingertips. I don't remember if Mom
perhaps turned me toward her long ago in the tub. If so, my little penis
would have been within her soft tangles. Would I have been erect? Would
she have liked me to be?

I touched Aunt Ginny's curls, Mom's curls.

Aunt Ginny pulled me to Mom's bed, placed the pillow in the middle, sat
on the edge and rolled on her back without letting go of my hand. One
motion, not four. The pillow elevated her hips, something to accentuate a
girl's pleasure I'd learned from Susan, but on this bed, something that
exposed us to the far wall. I pictured myself sequestered in the safety of
that darkness, Mom illuminated here on her pillow.

Aunt Ginny pulled me above her, her willing knees accommodating my
awkward hips.

I realized the certainty, the forever of loving your mother. I found
her furrow, then her tunnel.

I closed my eyes, picturing us from behind the nail-hole. But no, a
nail-hole in our old house, in the bathroom wall. Mom is keeping the soap
out of my eyes as I turn around, leaning her back into the enamel. Her
hair floats freely; her breasts list outward. She hooks her calves over
the sides and I bend my knees to position myself between. Her ribcage
glistens. In the warm water I enter her. Mom wants me. Mom needs me.
Mom demands me.

I slipped into Aunt Ginny as I would have into Mom. How would I know
about Mom, I don't know. Watching Rupert enter her must have told me. But
I already knew.

I held myself within until, able to still myself no longer, my butt
began to twitch. More sensually than physically at first, I initiated the
sliding. Aunt Ginny let me do the moving until she too succumbed, now
moving under me, propelling me.

I began to ravish my mother.

Why am I using such a prejudiced verb? You'll have to read on and try
to decide if I there's a better term for my overwhelming aggressive
possession, her consumptive passion. Though I was master, it wasn't as sex
was with Betty who'd likewise granted me the superior role. This was both
unfettered attack and unconditional surrender on both our parts.

With Betty, there was Betty's ascension, as long as I could make it
last, a climax, over which I had little control, and then and then a
retirement, sapping our concentration.

With Aunt Ginny, it was violent invasion. I wanted Mom so much. Aunt
Ginny needed no feints and incremental forays to coax her open, to
lubricate my route. She bucked to draw me faster, deeper, fuller. I
wedged myself into her to force her thighs yet outward. She grabbed her
knees to help. I slammed her up and down into the padding. "Buck, wedge,
force, grab, slam," verbs that speak of violence. The legs of the bed
thumped the floor.

I opened my eyes and found them locked into ones blue-green. It wasn't
my mother, I knew, but then again it was. The eyes spoke wantonly of being
raped. Of raping me.

When Aunt Ginny begin to twitch, I recognized all three daughters'
climaxes. But as I ravished onward, her throes didn't summit, but became a
shimmering within. I only knew not to cease. My Mom deserved my love
forever and ever.

At last, I hadn't Aunt Ginny's stamina, I suppose. She felt me prime
and pulled me inward until my release blasted into her womb. I felt my
seed shooting as a cloud, enveloping her egg, implanting our child. Aunt
Ginny (it was again she) must have felt something similar, what an ovum
welcomes. "He's started now," her confirmation, as if she knew the gender.

It wasn't until afterwards as I lay still spread upon her, that I
remembered Aunt Ginny's, "She'd already understand. You will." I did

We kissed.


Of course, as it turned out, there'd been no impregnation. My story
would be different if there had. The similarity of sensing conception
didn't escape me, however, when years later (but already written in this
story), Aida told me the same thing about her Andrew-to-be. But surely
she'd slept with Alfred within a few days of then, I'd have thought. We're
not supposed to know right away.

When Mom and Uncle Rupert came home from work, Aunt Ginny had dinner
ready. How could Mom not know? Maybe she did, I now suspect, as sisters
share thoughts. Sitting there eating the mashed potatoes, did Mom know how
I ravished her forever? How she'd held me. Of her upthrust bosoms? Of
her orgasm?

Could Aunt Ginny still feel me hard within her the way I still felt her
soft around me? Can a climax persist for hours afterwards, not strongly,
of course, but as little twitches, little shivers? Could she still feel me
within her?

Aunt Ginny wasn't dreamily gazing into the ceiling, arm casually below
the table, a fingertip's rhythm imperceptible to all but me, the one who
knew. She was only tasting the greens to see if she'd steamed them too
long. She added the butter. We watched it melt. She smiled the answer.
Yes indeed, she could feel me within her.

And here's what I have zero proof of and total belief in. The sisters
both looked at Rupert, just for an instant, then looked at each other.
That night my uncle did for my mom what I'd done for my aunt. The pillow
in the middle, the shimmering, everything. I didn't need to spy. Two
rooms away, I recognized the thumps on the floor. Aunt Ginny would have
heard them too.

My aunt surely knew why I'd made such love to her; but for the color of
her eyes she'd been my mother.

The reason I know Aunt Ginny was happy (other than the physiological
well-being after successful intercourse) was her moistness. I'd felt it at
the breakfast table. Did Mom also?

Always would we make love on Mom's bed. Ginny loved her sister Tina.

Always would I claim her as if in rape. (Mom? Aunt Ginny? Was there
here any difference but in the eyes?) It sounds imposed, to rape. It was
imposed. She couldn't have diverted my assault, but then I never tried to
stop hers either. Why is there not a better word for love proven by
subjugation? By definition a pirate captain rapes the kidnapped pale
maiden beneath the Skull and Crossbones? The pirate crew, the bronzed
island women beneath the native moon? But their virgins are bound by
expected capture, not taut lanyard. Hips writhe not to escape the fetters.
Look at their arched breasts. That's how I raped her.

Always would Aunt Ginny climax long and violently, clawing and
clutching, quivering and thrashing. Was her orgasm repeated or continuous?
Would there be a difference?

Always would we sense impregnation, but never would conception come to
be. I think it always happened, but something sent my seed swimming away
after caressing her egg on every side.

Always would Mom (the sister who bore me, not received me) seem
refreshed as well. Might vapors of orgasm transmit to kin? I'd written
above of feeling Aunt Ginny's moistness at the breakfast table. The more I
think, though, the more I think it was Mom's moisture as well.

Looking back on those years, perhaps I was hopelessly romantic. Perhaps
Aunt Ginny was just using a handy nephew to spice up her life. But I
choose not to think so.


It was again years later. Kennedy once won the debate, but Nixon now
had the White House. My group's work was well funded either way.

Our big house was long since sold. We wondered if kids of the family
that bought it found the secret places. Aida had left the nail on the

All three of Mom's generation were gone as well. Aunt Ginny was the
first and Uncle Rupert and Mom followed several years later. At that age,
people assume nothing happens, but of course it did. The Biblical
allowance to wed your wife's sister isn't that out-of-line, given today's
throwaway relationships. Biblical duties are about people, not just Jews.
Not being church-affiliated made it even easier to justify Mom and Rupert.
Any one of the three could have died and the other two would have had each
other. It just turned out to be the pair who by conventional standard
shouldn't be in the bathroom together. Mom bathed me when I was old enough
to notice. She'd have been just as sudsy for my elderly uncle. Just as
sexy. I myself added the extra handles around their tub that older folks
appreciate. Februarys, we would rent them a furnished condo in Florida
with one big bed and two reading lights. Enough said.

And Betty asked me to marry her.

It sounds self-centered, she having her exotic career and then claiming
the bachelor who'd waited past his 40th, but it's why I waited. I'd loved
her forever, long before I knew I did. She'd loved me the same. Close
cousins see the 30 years that remain.

Love is the necessary and sufficient condition, a phrase from something
engineering, notes long lost. Being sexual early made it more confusing,
was all. I loved all three (and still do). All cousins get to kiss each
other with everybody watching. Close cousins simply wait till nobody's
watching to carry on. But your closest cousin holds your hand after you
make love. She was holding mine when she asked.

I said yes.

She said good, as 'Relatively Old Faithful' had sold well and now we
could film daily sequels.

"New lines or anything for me?" playing along.

"No, our fan club just wants new locations. Aida wants something homey
and Susan wants something situated in a traffic jam."

We couldn't have secrets, not even my one. When I told Betty, the first
person ever, about loving my mom by loving hers, she understood better than
I did. She'd cried when I took her virginity at 13. Those tears were
about her. These tears were about me. Engineers like delineations, but
maybe not so psychological.

I asked Betty to share that part of my life with her sisters, what I
should have done years ago. They just hugged me. I left them with what
can remain their secret, if they'd sensed it all along. I don't really
want to know.

The rest is frosting. (Marriage means wedding means cake means
frosting. Why else would an association so hackneyed pop into my mind? I
prefer carrot cake, myself. My excuse is that engineers learn technical
writing.) Here's some frosting. Just some.

Betty landed a job with public television, not racing for ratings, but
pondering "strategic directions". I make the popcorn and she gives me the
scoop. I haven't a clue how Betty's job relates to the actual show,
though, why the shark doesn't chew up the camera, that sort of thing.

I'd tweaked enough items, the diameters of which dot, dot, dot. (My
group beat yours, Boris, with Telstar, but you didn't know it till it was
too late.) Betty and I had once been spies ourselves, more of the real
type. I do "reviews" now, just looking over people's shoulders. A few
slide-rule shoves and, "We'll need one of larger diameter." My group needs
to maintain its spending.

If you were hoping for some juicy tidbit about our sex life then, "G'day
Mate," as they say in a remote place I'll abbreviate as "A" where my group
operates an item, the diameter of which dot, dot, dot. My group's
Directorate in where we'll call "W" wants a White Paper on our future at A.
(I always use white anyway.) It's tough, as W doesn't know bandwidths from
rubber bands and doesn't even remember how our item in A once salvaged a
near-disaster in beating the Russians. If I just replace "TV" in Betty's
"strategic directions" with "A", W will promote me again.

With Betty chasing ratings and me reviewing items, the diameters of
which dot, dot, dot, we had each been able to visit lots of places. We'd
have the years ahead to show each other our favorites. We bought a globe.

Aida and Susan first ruled that Betty and I should be monogamous.
They'd always have their outside opportunities. "Football players," sighed
Susan in her deepest voice. But if Betty dies, they then decided, we three
survivors would sleep as a trio to comfort one another. Aida went to the
kitchen to get a knife to dispatch her twin, but could only find a
measuring cup, so they let her live.

We all knew that relationships don't just end. I'd still love the three
the way we're made to share it.

And oh, yes, the cousin thing itself. Betty and I could have just
combined furniture and kept the bed messed up in the guest room. Would
anyone care about an engineer and TV executive? They're related and
economical, they'd say. Shoot, if they knew we sleep together, would they

But marriage doesn't mean just cohabitation. A license nobody will ever
ask to see, we think's important. To marry your cousin in Wisconsin,
though, the female must be at least 55 or one of you must be sterile.
Betty wasn't near 55 and my count wasn't their business.

Her plan, the theatrical approach I'd call it, involved one of my trips
to a certain state (we'll abbreviate it "N") where my group runs an item,
the diameter of which dot, dot, dot. In N, I'd pick up a greenish-glowing
rock remaining from unpublished research done by another group. Or perhaps
left by yet another group (say, "X" because their Directorate is quite
distant. X had a mishap near where we'll call "R" after the War.) I'd put
this rock in my front pocket for 24 hours. She'd help collect my sample
and Wisconsin would give us the license. Aida had shown her how to take my
sample, as well I recalled. I never even saw glowing rocks at N, but Betty
was always thinking about how things should look in a documentary.

Much easier was my plan. Betty went with me to a certain state I'll
abbreviate "H" where we operate another item, the diameter of which dot,
dot, dot. H doesn't care a fig (no, make that a mango) about if you're
cousins, plus it's a wonderful place to keep falling in love. Plus my
group leased a flat because we were there so much to upgrade our item. A
local address simplified our paperwork with the County Clerk.

So we went to H and Betty even took some brownies over to the neighbor
who rented flat adjacent to my group's. Mr. Ken G. Brown from his
mailbox. She came back rolling her eyes, "His grammar is kinda' stilted.
Spanish, he said. He has a ham radio bigger than yours." Looking at our
wall, she asked, "The old nailhole."

Women are so much better at getting to know the neighbors. "Wouldn't
that be something if we'd signaled and he was just right next door?" I
wondered out loud. (I keep my "Spanish for Ham Radio Operators" ready.)

"Your engineer group seems to be someone's long-term project, but just
you are my assignment," Betty sighed. She was counting my fingers at the

I showed Betty the diameter after she signed off that she'd not do an
exposé about endangered orchids. Our staff has to chop the greenery back
from the item and she pointed out that the blooms would film nicely.

Our nephew Andrew (he's "little" only to those of us who remember the
War) is getting older. Aida truly believes he's mine, based not only on
his looks, but his personality. I think that's good. I've told her for
couples related like her sister and me here in W, if she's not 55, he's
sterile. Do the logic:

(1) Aida's not 55.

(2) Betty's exactly her age.

(3) We're not in jail.

(4) So I can't be anybody's daddy.

But she knows we'd got our license in H. I like the idea of
descendants, but spare me the certainty or the disappointment. If Andrew's
like me (forget the genes), my kind of engineering's winding down, but
there are always new adversaries to beat. We'll always need items to see
if we're still secure. They must be new items, though, since you can now
buy the old models for your TV.

Susan, bless her soul, as a single woman adopted a learning impaired
child. If half the kids these days weren't diagnosed with something, her
school would loose its federal funds. So I didn't play football. Did I
get a counselor? Tish makes up for her dyslexia by seeing the "why" in
mathematics. Being an engineer, I can steer her more in the "how", which
is pretty important too. Betty says that Tish has the spatial sense one
needs for film composition. Every kid needs aunts and uncles.

Tish's diagnosis for sure has nothing to do with soccer. 13 to 10 last
Saturday at AYSO, 5 by Tish till Coach (we all call her that) pulled our
girl to fullback. AYSO is about everybody playing. Was she as
disappointed as Uncle Howard, her getting pulled back? Not a bit. She
could still pass to her forwards chatting with the opponent's goalie.
Offsides every time. Susan stands and shrieks like the girls are even

Tish has three on the Team Parents list. So many of those girls don't
have dads at home, so I'm a generic one, maybe. After we make the
hand-arch tunnel for both teams to run through, everybody goes to Dairy
Queen and I buy the Blizzards. Job of a Team Dad. Shoot, we earn two
incomes, so for both teams.

Did I mention that where we got married is a wonderful place to keep
falling in love? Just want to be certain. We go back every fall. I do a
review, you understand. Wish I could tell what "H" stands for, but then
you'd know about my group's item.


My winter jaunt to review progress at A (where it's not winter), plus
Betty dashing to direct strategic directions gets us enough frequent flier
miles to go about anywhere in the spring. Summer, we meet up with Aida,
Alfred, their Andrew, Susan and Tish. They get to choose where. This time
we're heading to the shore. Sand in our shoes, cuffs, hair. I design the
moat for the sand castle; Betty, the turrets; Susan, the flags.

I'll make love with all three.

It's not as if I don't see her twin's breasts every night, but Aida's
still melt me. If we have a cabin with a ladder loft, she'll still go down
first, teasing me as if it were my first sighting. Her sisters will make
the invitation easy. Susan will probably haul Alfred off to the store "to
help her drive." She could seduce him at the stop sign if she wanted. For
all I know, that's Susan's reward for keeping him away.

Betty will likely take the kids out scouting for shells. They'll take
their time, lots of time. While I'm shooing Susan and Alfred to buy fresh
flounder and Betty and the kids to find blue clams, Aida will be studying
her bed so she can get it back the same when she's done tying us together
as a square knot.

Strolling off with Susan at dusk, we'll find a log to stash our clothes
under, dash into the surf for a frigid splash, and return to cuddle behind
the log. There's something about being cold on one side and warm on the
other. There's something about snuggling into the sand. There's something
about watching a little crab scuttle by your nose while you slip in and
out. ("In and out" was what Aida said in the tree house. You still
remember, how she mouthed it.) The crab will stop and watch. When you tell
Susan afterwards, she'll say that the little darling was looking for its
cousin. When she was looking up, she'll reflect, she saw a shooting star.

And Betty. Of course we're together anyway in bed. We're supposed to
be. But a beach cabin puts everybody a little closer together. We try to
be discrete, but her sisters know our moves. Afterwards they'll flash us
finger scores. Susan claims that an eight makes her join in too.

Tish and Aida's Andrew look forward to family times most of all; they
love being together. So why would Aida and I have been up in the ladder
loft? To haul the kid's sleeping bags there, of course. You can hear them
giggling as they change into their PJ's, Tish getting Andrew to unhook her
little bra, "but don't you dare peek." Wish we had a nailhole, as they keep
on giggling. They're still a bit young, maybe, but Betty says as cousins
themselves, the two will get closer and closer.


Remember my expanded title, "Close Cousins: Spying and National
Security"? Get it now?

You must admit it works once you see it's about cousins who are really
close and they spy around the house and one of them ends up in a group
where he's not supposed to reveal diameters and uses secret codes for the
location. You do get it, don't you?

I guess that's why they say don't be clever with a title. Just leave
it, "Close Cousins." Oh, well.


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