Chapter 4: Peter – The Sunday After
Peter stood outside the party for some time after watching Sara’s cab disappear. He then drove home feeling very low and guilty. On the way he stopped at a liquor store and bought a six pack of strong beer. Once home he collapsed in front of the TV and popped the first can. The TV was tuned to a channel that showed old movies one after the other and he tried to distract himself by watching, the first movie was ‘Die Hard 2’ and it came on right in the middle of a violent action scene. He tried to follow the movie but failed to remember the plot or work out what was going on. All he could think about was how stupid he was and how he had really blown it. After the second can of beer he tried calling Sara. Her phone rang but was then cut off. He tried again and got the ‘phone switched off’ message. He opened another can.
Peter’s phone woke him and the light streaming through the un-shaded window hurt his eyes. He groped for it thinking ‘Sara’ but it was the office. He had completely forgotten he was supposed to be on Sunday call-out. ‘Good morning Peter I need you toyou go to Mrs Sylvester at 96 Cedar Drive as soon as possible. I’ve warned her that we charge double time on Sundays but she says it’s important as she has a big family event at four and her AC has completely stopped working.’ Melissa sounded lively, brisk and efficient as she always did.
He looked blearily at the bedside clock, 11.05 am. Thinking quickly he said, ‘Tell her I’ll be there at one, I have another call first.’
‘Bullshit Peter, I know the sound of you when you are half asleep and hung over. Just get there by one,’ the phone went dead. Peter struggled into the shower and forced himself to begin functioning.
He dressed in his work uniform of cargo pants and monogrammed T shirt and headed out after a quick bowl of cereal. Mrs Sylvester’s air-conditioning system was well known to him. It often had trouble, usually due to animal damage to the outside cables and ducts. Just before One he pulled up outside No 96, an early 20th Century frame house with a large fenced yard. He rang the doorbell and the door was opened almost at once by Mrs Sylverster.
‘Hello Peter, I’m glad they sent you again as you know our system. One day soon we will have to get a new one, a completely different design.’
Peter’s eyes popped, Mrs Sylvester was completely naked! Previously she had always been dressed, usually in a wrap over house coat. His eyes scanned up and down and then he resolutely fixed his gaze on her face. Smiling he observed, ‘Well at least now you can strip off without sanction.’
She laughed, ‘we have been nudists for many years. It’s just that we don’t have to hide it any more. Come in I think the trouble is in the kitchen. There was a strange smell from the unit.’ She led the way through. ‘I’ve put the usual culprit out in the yard so that he doesn’t bark and annoy you. I’ll leave you to get on with it as I have some work to do.’
He removed the cover from the AC and spotted the problem at once, there was corrosion and leakage from a union where the refrigerant pipe came through the wall. and the system would need draining, a section of pipe replacing and then the whole re-gassing. Returning to his truck he unpacked his tools and set to work.
Half an hour later he had the pipes fitted and was about to start pressure testing them when the back door opened and a young boy entered. He was naked except for soccer boots and carrying a sports bag.
‘Mike is that you?’
‘Put your kit straight into the washer Mike and be sure you shower before you go in the pool, we don’t want mud in the filter.’
Mike raised his eyes to the ceiling and headed for the washer, dumping his boots by the door and stuffing his socks into the washer with the rest of the kit from his bag before grabbing juice from the icebox and heading back out the door. The sound of a shower running very briefly was followed by a splash.
Peter returned to his work monitoring the pressure building in the aircon system. The pressure held steady and he started refitting the cover.
The next person to arrive came through the front door. A young teen girl in a demure knee length cotton print dress with cap sleeves let herself in and called out. ‘Hi Mom when’s lunch? I’m ravenous.’
Her mother emerged from the study and observed that her dress was wet and muddy. ‘Chrissie darling your dress! It’s soaking, whatever happened to you?’
‘Went swimming at Town Quay. Kept it on as I had nothing on underneath and Helena’s pastor was there and would have told her mom if I’d stripped off.’ Chrissie grinned slyly and carried on with a constant stream of words. ‘And if her mom found out I was going nude in public she would have stopped Helena hanging out with me.’
Her mother grimaced, ‘… and we thought going naked would be cool and save clothing trouble because it’s now legal and becoming socially acceptable. Put your dress in the wash right now before that mud dries on and stains it permanently. Your brother’s soccer kit is in there and as usual he failed to set it going.’ She went back into her office and to her computer.
‘Hi I’m Jeanie,’ she held out her hand to Peter.
They shook ‘Pleased to meet you – I’m Pete.’
‘Please will you unzip me Pete.’ Jeanie turned her back to Peter. He had been standing trying to control his erection. ‘It’s a little tight, my tits are getting bigger and I had trouble doing it up this morning.’
‘OK but why doesn’t your mom do it for you?’
‘Oh she’s got this thing about independence – really hard she is. “You insist on wearing clothes you deal with them”, sort of attitude. Same with the laundry – “you wear them you wash them” is her motto.’
Pete dealt with the zip which was stiff and still wet. He watched as Jeanie wriggled out of the dress and threw it in the washer, adding detergent and setting the machine running. She then sprawled naked on the couch and opened her i-pad. Logging into Instagram she started to chat with her friends.
Peter thought ‘jail bait’ and worked hard to stop himself looking at her as he went back to his work of refitting the cover on the air-conditioner unit.
The next person to come in was a middle aged man who nodded to Pete. ‘Good you could come today and fix that – was it straightforward?’ He was dressed in a modern “medieval style” tunic which he removed and hung in a closet by the door before going, naked, into the study to greet his wife. ‘Still working then?’
‘Nearly done. How did your meeting go?’
‘They’ll come round … probably.’
‘Thank goodness, lunch is all ready on the terrace. Get Mike out of the pool will you so we can eat.’
‘I’ll just rinse off myself first,’ he replied and went into the yard where Pete could head the shower running followed by the sound of him entering the pool. Five minutes later the two male members of the family returned toweling their hair.
Mike ran over to his sister and sniffed her hair. ‘Yuck you stink of lake.’ She silently glared at him and went outside to shower.
Mrs Sylvester smiled at him and shook her head when he went into her office with his time sheet. ‘You looked rather embarrassed when Jeanie asked you to unzip her.’
Peter looked at her confused and alarmed. ‘It was an unusual and somewhat scary request,’
‘What were you thinking?’
‘To be really honest the first thought that went through my head was “jail bait” but then I saw your door was open and you were watching and saying nothing so it must be OK of maybe some kind of a trap.’
‘I trust Jeanie to look after herself. If you had got “handsy” she would have sorted you herself, she is the star of her naked self defence class and more than capable of making you regret whatever you did.’
This started a conversation about body freedom, people going naked and the town poll and safety especially of minors. Peter had not until today thought more about it than that it improved the scenery. Now he began to realise that there was a serious side to it and it reflected badly on the way he thought about people and women in particular. He collected his tools and went home with his head spinning.
To be Continued