Westland, Michigan–July 5th, 7 something in the morning, way too early for summer vacation. The air was putrid, filthy smelling like the freshman locker room in high school. Humidity was hanging above the ground thick enough to grab hold of, but since no rain had fallen in more than a week; the grass was little more than detritus. All of these factors left me questioning why I had come to Michigan in the first place.

There was the girl that as of the day before I wasn’t speaking with, the escaping my parents by not returning home after my second year, and it was a different place then Kansas. I swished these thoughts around in my head like a mouthful of Listerine, trying to work out the kinks left over from the Fourth party, while I drove to my summer warehouse job. Curious, I pushed the temperature button on the digital clock/gauge in my car I sighed, 81–Christ.

The warehouse was going to be miserably hot, but my job was a joke, a perfume distributor in Livonia, capitalism at its best. And even I, the one-time self-proclaimed Marxist who had read The Communist Manifesto, most of Das Kapital� and been called the reincarnation of Allen Ginsberg, rubbed my hands in glee at my latest project. It was simple; check the returns from one major super conglomerate store, so that our godhead distribution firm could charge them error penalties in shipping on top of the 15% return fee. Nothing like cutting into the profits of retailers; indeed, I whistled all that day.

Work wasn’t the only reason I was whistling; it was Friday, and I had plans. In fact, not only had I had plans since Wednesday; they were backup plans. After the girl, who I wasn’t speaking with, canceled the weekend we’d been planning and promptly started seeing someone else. Though I must admit, the actual status of the new guy was pure speculation on my part, but I seemed justified in my opinion. Or I was pissed off enough to not care, because whatever she was doing didn’t matter, my plans were firm.

I had been invited by a lesbian friend of mine to her birthday party being held at one of the local clubs. I’ve never had a problem with homosexuality, and have long since found that the best dance clubs are primarily homosexual. Typically, they have better music, better DJ’s and hosts, and don’t have the stigma of the place being only a penis and tit parade. Though there was the slight uneasiness of what to wear; not wanting to commit a fashion faux pas and stand out like the thumb of a cross-eyed carpenter. I had decided on a pair of forest green cargo pants, a yellow dress by Bassiri that I’d picked up in Dallas and rarely wore, and daringly foregoing shoes for a pair of Polo sandals. Anxiety quelled, I was looking forward to it.

From the outside, the club looked like a seedy dive bar. Sitting even across the street from a strip club. Irony? A female gay bar next to a place where women take off their clothes, women staring at women, men staring at women, what a town. Inside was a different story, the DJ was spinning New Order and the lights zipped off the checkerboard floor. By the end of the evening I had broken the doorman’s heart, limboed under a drunken girl’s sweater a little more than a foot off the floor, and had been made fun of by everyone in our party because I had to wear a glow necklace, which brazenly proclaimed that I wasn’t twenty-one. Having older siblings I’ve always been more comfortable with people older than myself. Which was why when I was asked to the party, I readily agreed.

N was another reason why I had agreed easily. The vivacious thirty-two year old, mid-five foot woman, with dyed red hair was a family friend and quickly becoming a “big sister” herself. With her unique spunky personality, I had wrongly guessed she was in the range of twenty-four/five, until being informed differently. Beyond those reasons, the friend that had invited me was mutual to N, and it gave me someone to ride with to the club. She had also invited me to the party that had muddled my brain that morning, and I was enjoying the time I had to spend with her.

Wanting to beat the bar traffic we made a hasty retreat at last call, and drove back to N’s place. I was going to simply say goodnight and be on my way, when N stopped me with a tone I had once heard an ex-girlfriend use. Three years and at least 15,000 miles removed, the recognition was instantaneous. I plopped myself down in a chair, I wasn’t moving anytime soon. On Sci-Fi the annual Fourth of July Twilight Zone marathon was on. N and I watched the old black and white episodes, talking constantly about the plot holes and what happened next, each of us correcting the other on historical and mythological happenstances in the episode. As our fun continued, time slipped away to three a.m. at which I was convinced that at any point she would kick me out.

Three passed without a hitch, so semi-jokingly I told N I’d give her a shoulder massage that would put her to sleep. My senior year of high school in a blatant egotistical move, I claimed to give the best shoulder and back massages, backing it up with landing more than one girl in bed because of them. Since no one stood up to my challenge, I more arrogantly claimed to have manos de dios, hands of god. However, N was different, she was my sister, and I wasn’t making a move on her. Interlacing my fingers to stretch my hands and pop my knuckles, I was asking myself if I should even still in the apartment.

My self-deified hands kneaded and caressed and massaged N’s shoulders and neck, while she sat on the floor in front of me. She relaxed quickly, a combination of the time and alcohol she’d had at the bar. It was close to four now, I mentally scratched off 10-11, my original planned waking point for the following day, and penciled in 12-1. Thinking that I left soon I could just let our Elkhound have free reign to the open dog door, despite the neighbor’s complaints of wooing, which I was sure had stopped two plus hours before. Elkhounds, though noisy, are not stupid; mine was probably asleep.

N finally broke down and admitted being sleepy. I started to politely excuse myself when she stopped me again saying, “Or you can stay here. You won’t bite, I know you told me yourself.” I smiled knowing the comment had come from the drive home the previous night, when I had explained that with some friends of mine I enjoyed being able to be intimate without having any sexual entanglements. And that simple intimacy such as giving someone a massage, napping together, etc. was better than what most people my age considered intimacy, which generally was sexual related. At the time it was small talk, but N standing there looking at me, I had to smile back wondering if she had planned it.

Spontaneity or no, there we lay four-thirty now. Just like coed summer camp, we swapped stories and questions, like where would you go if you could? There were the typical answers: Rome, Venice, Japan; then mythical places, and N mentioned wanting to go to another planet if they could find any that would support human life. I refrained from being a jackass and saying that Hubble had found some possible M-class planets, only millions of light-years away from earth. In my mind though, I envisioned her climbing aboard one of the old Saturn V rockets in an orange space suit, waving goodbye to all the inhabitants of earth. Sleep deprivation, my favorite drug.

It was after 5, approaching 6, I’d been up 24 hours, but couldn’t sleep. I have the habit of not being able to fall asleep first when sleeping next to someone, and N was definitely awake. I rolled over on my side against her and ran my fingers over her shoulder to let her know that I was actually there. Joking that if I did it long enough she would fall asleep. Soon after I heard the familiar sigh as someone falls asleep, so maybe my claims of god hands were not unrenowned.

I woke a few times in the eight hours we slept, and thought the whole situation through. I’d never really liked the fact that being a brother meant I took on brotherly qualities towards my friends. Watching N sleep made me rethink my position, how she trusted me, and how much I felt for her in a completely nonlustful, nonsexual way. The positive energy of the moment was amazing. It’s strange that in these days of sexevision and pornomercials that simple intimacy gets so shoved aside. Looking down at N, I smiled and gently ran my fingers along her arm, she grabbing my hand to pull me closer.

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