Tana plucked a lock of hair and slowly stretched it out to its full length, while staring unblinking at me. “I like you, Archie,” she said quietly, slowly. “There’s a lot to like about you. You’re gruff, sure, rough around the edges. Sometimes you’re even mean. Mean to me, who least deserves it! Oh, what’s that face for? Isn’t that right? Even you have to admit you’re kind of a pill with me. All I want to do is spread sunshine and love, and you’re all Mr. Grumpy von Poutsalot.” She took up the stem of her martini glass and swirled the slightly oily dirty martini around for a bit.
“But I don’t mind. When you snap at me, when you complain while we’re having a nice lunch break, I don’t mind your grumpiness. Do you know why?” Her lips stretched and stretched into a world-devouring smile. “Because I like you that much, you scrumptious little man. Yes! I just can’t get enough of you! Even when you hurt my feelings and I want to throw you in the trash or crush you under the heel of my boot—there’s that look again! Come on, you know I’d never—I just think about the good times, or I peek around your cube wall and see little ol’ you bouncing away on your keyboard, and my heart melts!” She shrugged and shook her head, grinning. “I don’t know what it is, Archie, but you’ve got me wrapped around your finger. I wish you knew what that meant. I think we could be so happy together, if you’d just get over whatever baggage you’re carrying around and let me… love you.” She simpered and blushed. “There, I said it. I said it! Why won’t you let me love you, Archie?”
Me, I was gasping and spluttering around in that dirty martini, fully clothed, slipping off the walls every time she swirled the drink. It had belonged to the funny lady, whomever she was, and it still had the imprint of some rose-colored lipstick blotched on the rim. Tana avoided this as she flashed her shiny teeth at me and raised me, and the glass I guess, to her lips. Her eyes disappeared behind her cheekbones and her nostrils became prominent twin voids just above me, as her lips bunched and pursed and puckered at me. Olive-tainted vodka flowed into the narrow sphincter her lips formed, with an ear-stabbing slurp. I clamped my palms to the sides of my head and rolled to my butt, ready to kick at her upper lip if she got ambitious.
“Mmm, delicious. I’ve really got to find out what they put in these things.” She arched an eyebrow, and her head waggled saucily on her neck. Why couldn’t she be this funny around other people? She set me down on the dark wood table with a clunk and folded her arms around me and the glass, looming over me like an erotic vulture. “What are your plans for the rest of the night?”
I blinked a couple times, staring up at her. This broad, I tell you! “I heard one of the other tables wanted a drink, so I thought I’d hop on over and wring out my entire outfit for her.”
She burst out laughing, squinting behind her glasses, really leaning into the laughter. Slapping the table and everything. An elderly couple at a neighboring table made a point of craning around to give us pointed stares. I shrugged back at them, pointing at the giantess in hilarity, returned a beseeching expression. The old man lost interest immediately, but the old woman wasn’t done transmitting her disapproval for another few minutes.
“It wasn’t that funny,” I said as soon as Tana took a moment to breathe.
“Oh, my Goddess, you make me laugh! That’s one of the many things I love about you, Archie! Nobody makes me laugh as hard as you do.” Her huge fingertip slowly skated around the rim of the shallow glass that held me. The tavern lights glinted upon her lacquered fingernail, passing over my shoes. “Why is that? Are we just suited for each other? There’s something about you that feels perfect. I wish I knew you felt it too.” Her fingers curled into her palm above me, as her index fingertip ran the track behind my head. “What do you feel for me, Archie? Why don’t you tell me.”
“You scare the shit out of me, honestly.”
Her head shot up and she glanced around. “Did the lights just get darker, or am I seeing things? Darn it, I hope this isn’t a vision disorder or something, like getting older. Did you two notice the lights getting dim?” she called to the elderly couple, who now were eager to pretend she didn’t exist.
“They’re setting the mood, Tana. It’s mood lighting,” I shouted up at her. “And I said you scare the shit out of me.”
“Yeah, but beside that. Don’t you feel anything for me?”
“You’re a competent employee.”
“Go to hell, Archie.” The giantess scowled upon me and seized the stem of the glass. “Bottoms up!”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I yelled. Scrambling to push myself to the far end of the glass revealed to me just how much booze I’d soaked in through my skin. Or else the glass really was that slippery, and her grip on it really was that unstable. Or maybe all of it. All I knew was that the table had dropped away and I rose from chest-level to eye-level on this gigantic, drunken woman, and her frown had split wide open so I could see the dental work on her rear molars. Her tongue spread out like a squirming, restless mattress, and the meaty curtains of her throat flexed accommodatingly. “Tana, you crazy bitch! Put me down!” She did not, in fact, put me down on the table but seemed intent on dropping me down her gullet. The slick, concave surface was angling badly and my butt started to slide down. I relied on the rubber soles of my shoes to hold me up, but those too got slick and began to lose traction. One foot skidded off the rim of the glass and my leg shot out awkwardly. I glanced at the elderly couple to the side: the old woman reached across the table to insistently pat her husband’s shoulder, but he was having none of it.
“Aughl-aughl-aughl,” Tana moaned, chuckling at me with that great, wide-open maw of hers. Her tongue flooded over her teeth and bottom lip. Rolling out the red carpet for me, I guessed, just like I guessed this wasn’t a bluff this time.
So be it. I pulled my leg back and balanced my heels on the rim of the glass, grabbing the rim behind my head, and I sprang at her. Her fist was clenched hard enough to give some resistance to the martini glass, which I was grateful for; I was shitfaced and rubber-jointed, which helped nothing. Rather than flying over her nose and glasses to plop upon her forehead (don’t ask me why I thought that was a good idea), I sprawled mid-air, twisted too far, and caught the corner of her frames dead in my chest. I hooked my arm around the arm of her spectacles and slid down toward her ear, and wrapped my fists up in what looked like a thick lock of hair.
“What,” she said, jerking her head away from the impact on her glasses. I cried out as her massive skull rotated away from me, sending me flying on a wide arc as I clung to her hair. I could see the dozen or more hairs tugging at her scalp, raising a comical mound of flesh, from the centripetal force of my scant weight.
“Ouch,”she said, tossing her head the other way, turning her face toward me. I whipped wide and smacked into the bridge of her nose. She reared reflexively, and somehow this flung me over her head and everything. But I had an iron grip on her hair, at least, so I rolled off the top of her skull and slid down over her ear.
I wedged my little head into her aural canal and screamed. “Calm down, dammit! Just calm down a second, you’re killing me.” Miraculously, that got to her. Her immense skull stopped snapping back and forth, smashing me against itself, and I caught a breather as I dangled by her ear. Her shoulder was still too far for me to stand on, but my arms were holding out. “There, calm down, sweetie, there you go. Everything’s all right.”
Tana’s head shuddered slightly. The arm of her glasses slid off her ear, tugged away by one hand, before both palms buried her eye sockets and she slumped in grief. “It’s not all right, Archie, nothing’s all right.” She sobbed, groping for a discarded cloth napkin with bleary eyesight, at best. “I’m sorry, it was your crack about being a good employee.”
“Hey, I’m sorry about that.” With the new angle to her head, I tried reaching out for another lock of hair to pull me closer to her ear. It was just hard to tell where these things were rooted, whether they’d bring me closer or set me swinging back toward her cheekbone.
“I am a good employee! I work damn hard!” she cried. I could only imagine how this looked to everyone else: a very tall, very drunk woman sobbing about her job to an array of leftover cocktails. Poor girl. “I work so hard, and no one sees that! Those auditors, do you know what they accused me of?” She wiped one eye with the back of her wrist. “Well, not accused me-accused me. But they asked me if I’d ever been tempted to bring money home. I don’t have any access to money!”
“Did you tell them that?” I asked, slowly climbing up her hair.
“That’s what I told them! I missed two Christmasses at home, one Thanksgiving, and my niece’s confirmation because I was always there to work overtime when they needed it! And then they accuse me of stealing money from the bank?” She seized a tall, thin glass of bright green fluid in which all the ice had melted, and she dumped it down her throat. Her head tilted back to take it, giving me the opportunity to swing back and grab onto her ear: I wrapped my arms around the upper swoop (the part of the pinna called the helix) and rested my chest against the hollow (triangular fossa). Once secure, I bent my legs up to where I could reach them, tugged off my sodden shoes, and rested my stockinged feet inside the large bowl of cartilage, standing very gently on her auricle. That little nub just below your ear-hole.
Look, ears fascinate me. There’s nothing weird about learning all the terms for something you’re into. And it just so happens that Tana has really beautiful ears, among all the Bigs’s ears I’ve seen.
“Everyone just thinks I’m weird,” she said, coughing a bit. “They think they’re so clever, hinting at our lunch breaks, sneering at me like I’m making out with a dog or something.”
“I got in a fight with one of them, one of those bitches in Accounts Receivable. She said you were unclean and an abomination before the sight of her Lord. I didn’t punch her in the throat, but I wanted to. Instead, I knocked the paperwork she was holding into the water fountain and doused it.” She laughed, coughing. “Apparently that was the payroll for some department or another. I landed in some shit that day.”
I wished to Goddess I could have seen her expression just then. Instead, I just hugged her helix and stroked her pinna. “You never told me about that, Tana. When was this?”
“Oh, it’s just stupid. They’re all just stupid.” Absently she brushed her hair behind her ear. I ducked as her thick fingers swooped through the air just above me, then struggled to regain my hold against all the poundage of hair that’d been wedged behind the helix. She dabbed at her eyes with a napkin, and I saw her bring her glasses back up. Without warning me, she slid the arms over her temples and jammed them into her hair, behind her ears. I clutched her helix and leaned out as the long, plastic arm slid back into place, and then I grabbed onto that with one hand, caressing her ear with the other.
“Let’s get out of here, Archie.”
I told her that sounded like a great idea. She emptied a couple more glasses before calling a Knapa. We hung out in the lobby, waiting for it. She reclined on stuffed vinyl cushions, plucked me from her ear and stretched me out on her thigh again. This time I didn’t fight it, letting my arms and legs drape down the gentle curves of her leg. This time, her touch was much softer and slower, and that plus the sweet warmth rising from her thigh made it very hard to stay awake.
“You should come home with me, Archie.” Her voice was quiet and steady.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Come on. Nothing’s gonna happen,” she said with her mouth, though her thumb was rubbing broad circles over my buttocks.
“We can’t do that, Tana.”
“It’s a bad idea.”
“It’s not fraternizing. Come on, just come back to my place to sleep.” The tip of her pinky drifted up and down my thighs, then slipped between them and began nudging at my crotch.
It felt good, better than good, but I still told her this was why we shouldn’t. She apologized and withdrew her finger and repeated the question and I denied it, and then the Knapa pulled up and we got in. “Tana?” the driver confirmed in a thick accent I didn’t recognize. She settled in the back seat, couching me between her thighs, and asked him how his night was going. He had a rich laugh. “Friday night, you know. All de crazies come out. But I’m okay, I can’t complain.”
“We won’t give you any trouble,” she said.
“I’m sorry? I only saw you get into my car.”
“Oh, my boyfriend. He’s Anthropole. He’s taking a little nap right now.”
Again with that robust laughter. I wonder whether I’ve ever felt as happy as this guy. “My brother is dating an Ant’ropole. Very handsome man, very nice. My momma, she don’t like it, but he is a good man, I can tell.” After a moment of silence the driver asked what Tana would like to hear on the radio. She said she didn’t care, so he went on listening to a documentary about Amelia Earhart, apparently.
The street rumbled quietly beneath us and Tana had nothing else to say. I peeked up at her and couldn’t see her face, just the pale triangle of her jaw as she rested her head on the seat back. Her hands lay on the seats by her sides, no longer touching me. I sank into the chasm of her thighs and rested there, caught by massive, soft legs that jiggled with the imperfections of the highway. Her warmth radiated through me, and I thought about staying with her tonight. Why not? It was Friday, I had nothing going on tomorrow. What could it hurt to crash at her place for one night?
Actually, no, you know what I wanted, was to crawl all over her for a weekend. If I were completely honest with myself, I’d want a tray of booze by the bed and Tana tied up… no, just lying there. Lying perfectly still, watching me or just feeling me, while I rub myself all over her legs, slather myself all over her belly, rising and falling with her breath. She has to lie perfectly still while I slither up her chest and grope her tits with my entire body, gnawing on her nipples, clutching her crepe-soft skin as her boob sways back and forth. And then maybe I’d snake on down to her armpit, curl up in there as her arm pins me into place, just to feel her all around me. Yeah. Then up her neck, I’d stand on her throat and hoist myself up over her chin, stretch out over her mouth, and she’d smile, and I’d—
“Is this your place?” the driver called back.
Tana’s head raised laboriously from the rest. She stretched out one long arm, far overhead, and pointed at the windshield. “That one, with the yellow light.” The Knapa rolled forward and angled to park against the curb. Her thighs spread and I slipped to the cloth upholstery. Her tight little butt passed over me like a dark cloud, then disappeared as the chilly night air flooded the car. “Stay safe,” she called out from the sidewalk, and the door slammed shut.
“Next stop, your place, sir,” the driver said. “She gave me your address, it’s fine. I just need you to ride inside the Cahoot, and then you can rest.” He reached back and carefully set the acrylic case beside me. He didn’t check whether I entered before rejoining traffic.
The ride was much colder, even after the driver turned the heater on. It was so much different, lying upon the hard, injection-molded foam of the back seat, in stark contrast to Tana’s long, soft thighs. My heart lurched in my chest for a second and I thought about yelling for the driver to turn around, but no. If I knew what the right answer was when I was sober, I had to trust that and not give in to any brilliant ideas I was coming up with now.
When I saw the familiar restaurant and gas station signs flash past the rear windows, I hauled myself up and piled into the Cahoot. The vehicle stopped, the driver carried me right up to my apartment, and wished me a good night. I let myself in by the coded Anthropole entrance, and it was a long, dark walk down a tin corridor to the basement where my neighborhood was stored. I heard the landlady’s cat growling in the corner, but she didn’t hop up to the table and give me any trouble.
My stockinged feed were silent as I plodded down the painted street, gloomy in the basement’s lack of lighting, passing two Victorian homes, a multi-tier cabin made of popsicle sticks, and the stylish goddamn modern villa I’ve been lusting after since Mrs. Haggerty installed it. LEDs glowed in some of the homes, but my crappy-ass rambler was dark. I jerked the plastic door open, stumbled through the darkened rooms, and stripped my vodka-drenched suit off into the tub. I took a moment to splash water from the basin Mrs. Haggerty refilled every other day, rinsing myself down but not bothering to towel off before I dumped myself on the starchy, thick sheets on my hard foam bed.
Quite the contrast from sleeping with Ms. Hands, that’s for sure. I wondered whether she slept on satin sheets, then decided she was more the type to own a lined bed set and keep it until it was almost frictionless with softness. That sounded nice. I lay there in the dark, trying to picture that giantess, oversized even among the Bigs, sleeping in her immense kingdom of a bed. Was she touching herself right now, or did she just pass out?
I was touching myself, thinking of her. I had no way of knowing how I’d feel in the morning about my decision. I really hoped it was the right one.