PART 4: Friends
Chapter 23: Stark Stress Solution
Cleaning up the backlog of early appointments and referrals soaked up our evenings for weeks, Kaitlyn and I even needing to take off time from work to get through them all. We were so busy we nearly flaked on our Brazilian jiu-jitsu class. If we hadn’t been mages, able to heal from this punishing schedule, we’d have dropped out for sure.
What we only began to appreciate by this point, however, is that the coupons Kaitlyn was forced to surrender to accomplish this generated further appointments and referrals. I’d initially thought Sherry was primarily interested in a trade of value for value, but she’s cleverer than that: she was covertly helping us launch our business, as promised!
The Thursday night before Memorial Day weekend, Molly Alexander called Kaitlyn’s phone. She put it on speaker in time for me to catch our caller’s first question, “So how’s the massage business?”
My wife reported, “We just finished a big contract for your friend Dr. Condon.”
Molly laughed, “Oh, I heard about that already!”
I guessed she was referring to certain nighttime services I’d provided, but I just informed her, “Our tips came to about half again the contract’s fee. We paid off a semester of therapy school, just like that!”
“I told you you’d do well at this game,” Molly reminded us.
After further pleasantries, our caller announced, “Hey, we’re coming down to Moab this holiday weekend. Please tell me that our therapist-guides are available for hire!”
We’d kept those three days clear, not only expecting this visit but also needing the vacation ourselves, so my wife said, “You betcha! I hope you made campground reservations back when there was snow in Salt Lake.”
“Yeah, January. We’ll be at the Goose Island Campground. Our spot has a tent area, but you’re welcome in the motor home, too. We have room.”
“The offer of a bed is tempting, but we like tent camping, and it’s been months since we did any. What’re we bringing?”
“Your end is guide services and all the massages we can stand. Maybe other stuff after dark. Everything else is on us: food, camping fees, fuel… ”
“Done and done!” my wife said enthusiastically. “How about you come to the house, pick us up, and we can all go out together.”
“Sure, sounds great!”
After telling them our address and giving better directions than the GPS was likely to come up with, Kaitlyn said, “Um, fair warning, Molly: the house’s grounds are clothing-optional. You’ll likely find us in our skin when you get here.”
“We’re turning around and going back home if we arrive to find you dressed!” Molly joked back.
“Deal!” my wife returned with a chuckle in her voice. “Hey, thanks for inviting us, and see you tomorrow evening!” Just as she was about to hang up, she added, “Oh, hey, Molly, bring mountain bikes! You can’t come to Moab without going biking! City ordnance, you know!”
I smiled at Molly’s tinny chuckle from the smartphone’s speaker before my wife shut the phone off.
About an hour after we got home from work, we were sitting on our front porch swing enjoying the lowering sunlight over the red sandstone bluffs — bare as promised — when the Alexanders pulled up the drive in a monstrous beast that must’ve been the offspring of a motor coach and a Mack truck.
“I think you’ve got more square feet in there than in our house,” I joked after they’d gotten out and we’d exchanged hugs.
“Wait’ll you see the pool on the roof,” Norman returned.
Molly smacked him on the arm, and we grinned at them. The Alexanders, alas, had not chosen Carlo’s driving outfit. No matter; we could fix that.
“You two’ve got to be tense after that drive; particularly you, Norm, wrestling this beast through the wind,” my wife began. “Come on through to the back yard and let us get you our down payment on this outing.”
They followed our flexing buns up the newly-graveled path through the junipers and sagebrush into our redone back yard.
“Oh, wow, it’s amazing back here!” Molly exclaimed.
“Not exactly a 5-star spa, but whaddaya want from a pair of journeyman therapists?” my wife offered saucily.
“First,” I said in my professional voice, “we recommend that you start your visit here at Magic Hands Massage with a shower. Have you ever showered outdoors before?”
“No,” replied Norman, and Molly spoke over him, “Never.”
“It’s quite a treat,” offered my wife. “We do it every morning, which is why the garden is looking so healthy!”
“That’s a clever little eco setup!” gushed Molly.
My wife led them around the dressing screen and told them about the UV-cleaned sand, and they marveled at that idea as well. “While you two get showered, we’ll set up the massage area, okay? If you were clients, we’d tell you to come out from behind the screen undressed to your level of comfort, but you’re not, so git nekkid!” she exclaimed in an affected Southern drawl.
I added, “You won’t need any clothes as long as you’re here.”
Our guests smiled and began peeling, retreating behind the dressing screen only after they’d bared themselves to us. Shortly, we heard the solar shower start up behind the screen, followed by a series of happy noises.
While they washed their sweat and stress off, we made a few small adjustments to the setup we’d prepared for them: we lit the incense sticks, set out two small plates of finger foods, and mixed the sort of drinks we’d noticed them enjoying at the parties they invited us to.
Kaitlyn’s father gifted her a massage oil heater of her own, an antique magnifying glass brazed to an equally venerable and heavily-built desk lamp, its neck taking the place of the glass’ handle, the glass-holder the lamp’s new head. I say “antique,” but Ramón’s actual phrasing was “old junk we had sitting around.” It had a sort of farm chic that my modern plasticky mic-stand lash-up entirely lacked. Kaitlyn loved it for the “reuse” angle: the glass was chipped, its holder dented, and its handle worn; as for the lamp, its inefficient incandescent bulb was why it’d been stored away in the first place. Neither piece was much use alone, but together, they had a new, useful life.
We adjusted our oil warmers to track the change in the sun’s position since we’d aimed them at the bowls half an hour ago, then got ourselves into seiza position and awaited our clients’ pleasure.
Molly came over to stand before me, Norman before my wife.
“Please lay face down in the sand,” my wife bade them, pointing, “head that way.”
“Sand massage is a house specialty. Trust us; you’ll love it!”
They lay down and groaned with the warmth of the hot sand baking into their bodies, the groans continuing as we massaged their posterior aspects, scalp line to soles.
We’d come up with a special regimen of working media for daylight sand massages: five minutes with the scented massage oil to get the client relaxed and their skin receptive, five minutes with a light oil-based sunscreen, and then back to the massage oil for the duration of our work on that side.
“I notice you two are getting more tanned,” said Norman after we told him what we were doing, then popped a green grape into his mouth.
“Yeah, even you, Davie,” added Molly.
Kaitlyn replied, “We’ve been nude out here almost continuously in daylight hours, work permitting.”
“Maybe we should sunscreen you two?” offered Norman. “You know, for your health.”
“No other reason at all you’d want your hands all over her, eh, Norm?” snarked his wife.
“Nope. It’s just a necessary chore to be endured,” he returned piously.
Our friends didn’t know about our magical talents, so they didn’t know we’re immune from the consequences of sun damage. We just smiled, but my wife offered, “You’re welcome to do that after we’re done with you two.”
“Can’t wait!” Norman sighed happily.
Half an hour in, we turned them over and spread their grins for them by gently swishing the clinging sand from their fronts with broad soft brushes before beginning our anterior massage work.
We were getting fairly good at timing the sun’s interaction with the position of our bamboo and reed canopy, so that the leading edge of its shadow encroached into the massage area just far enough by this point in our work that our clients could get their faces fully under it, allowing them to keep their eyes open in the bright mid-day sun while their bodies continued to bake under its full strength.
Our clients most assuredly did keep their eyes open, enjoying the show we put on above them, swaying and rocking to inaudible rhythms. Norman got hard and Molly got wet, but we kept our work fairly chaste, letting them make the first move, if any.
Fairly chaste, I say, because we did sunscreen their sensitive bits. If you’ve ever had a sunburn down there, you’ll know that this wasn’t gratuitous frottage, it was necessary! We’d have been guilty of malpractice if we didn’t offer this to any client that chose to go without a drape in an outdoor massage.
Through the first half of the work, I’d been healing every last little problem I could find in Molly’s body, and Kaitlyn had been doing the same for Norman. Out here in this quasi-natural setting, we didn’t need to recharge for this: we drew the power straight from Gaia. Neither of us found anything to justify sex magic; they were as healthy as a middle-aged couple could reasonably be expected to be.
The Alexanders didn’t initiate anything sexier than this full-body rub-down. They just lay back and relaxed, deeper and deeper, their eyes sliding half-shut, though Norm managed to remain erect almost the whole time.
After an hour of work, they’d both nearly lost the battle to remain awake to watch our show when Kaitlyn said, “Time, you two. Go get the sand showered off your backs, then we’ll sunscreen each other and go.”
We all got rather silly buttering each other up, after which Molly said, “We don’t need to get dressed until we hit the campground, Norm. This big ol’ beast screens you to your nipples from virtually any onlooker, and I’m going to be hidden away in the back entertaining our guests.”
Kaitlyn and I loaded our bikes on the 4-bike rack they’d mounted to the back of their motor home, panniers bulging with supplies, camping gear strapped to the frames. I saw that the Alexanders didn’t have any lights on their bikes, so I ran back inside and grabbed two beat-up sets from the utility room shelves, displaced by earlier upgrades.
After locking up the house and climbing into the motor home’s lounge area with Kristen and Molly, both bare as me, the only evident clothing was Norman’s shorts and sandals, and they were on the floor beside the driver’s seat, by his wife’s order.
Norman got us on the highway like a pro, executing a crisp K turn as soon as I buckled in.