Santo J. Romeo
Adventures of Me and Martha Jane
The fact is, Martha Jane was an upright, well behaved, socially poised, and even classy young lady. She seldom displayed anger toward others, apparently never gossiped or had anything maliciously critical to say about anyone. As far as I can tell, she was just a conscientious, undeniably pretty teenaged girl. She did have an active and playful nature but for the most part she behaved with the kind of politeness so common among girls whose Southern moms brought them up as "proper" and "sociable".
But obviously Martha Jane had her other side. On rare occasions during that period when she first was sitting for me, I would now and then look up and find her staring at me. Not "at" me, I should say, but "toward" me as though thinking of something deep and ponderous. Or now and then she would, indeed, look right into me with a steady, serious gaze, but she'd say nothing. I would turn away and go back to whatever I was doing. I had no idea what she was thinking.
One of these incidents occurred in late 1948, just before or after Thanksgiving. I was six, Martha Jane was fifteen. She arrived at our place from next door at about 7 o'clock as my Mom was getting powdered and done up for a date. I was on the floor of the living room and had spread old newspapers around to work on the treasured but broken Underwood typewriter that I had retrieved from the trash only a few weeks earlier. Martha Jane said hello and hugged me and chatted with my mother. Mom said, "Just let him play down there and he shouldn't be any trouble." Martha Jane laughed and said, "Betty, Speedy never gives me any trouble," at which Mom grumbled, "Give him time."
Martha Jane stood over me and asked what I was doing. My Mom broke in and said, "He's making a mess with that old typewriter. I don't see why he doesn't throw it away, it's nothin' but a... hunk of junk."
Martha Jane bent way down to smile at me and survey the spread of springs and spare parts strewn over the newspaper. "Hey," she asked, "are you taking this apart or putting it together?"
"Both," I said, not looking up from my task. "I'm gonna make it work again."
"But what'll you to do with it, Speedy, after you get it to work?"
"I'll figure somethin' out," I said arrogantly.
"You certainly have enough parts there for inspiration."
My mother came into the room, screwing on an earring. "Don't you make a mess and drive Martha Jane crazy. She has to study tonight."
"Oh, Betty," Martha Jane said, "he'll be all right."
My mother continued, "I don't know what he wants that thing for, it must be twenty years old. His godmother buys him toy trains and toy this and toy that, but he has to fool around with THAT and make a mess!"
Mom left to finish dressing in the bedroom. I sat on my knees, hunched over, laboriously studying the puzzle before me. I was so deeply absorbed that I was startled to hear someone breathing behind me. I looked up at saw Martha Jane staring at me. I turned so quickly that she barely had time to change the studied expression with which she had apparently been watching me.
Quickly, she smiled and gave me a big wink. She playfully mouthed the words, "It's okay."
My Mom left a few minutes later. Martha Jane settled down to a pile of books on the sofa and studied silently while I knelt on the floor struggling with my project. Using pliers and a screwdriver, I managed to straighten most its typeset arms, but some of them were still getting stuck on certain letters. I worked on it until I became frustrated and threw the pliers on the floor and pouted.
"What's wrong?" Martha Jane asked, and she came to sit on the floor beside me.
I showed her how the keys for certain letters were still bent out of shape and that if I bent one properly, the keys next to it would snap out of alignment. Martha Jane said, "Speedy, why don't you take it to a repair shop?"
"It's too old," I said. "Nobody wants to fool with it."
"Tell you what, maybe your Aunt Frances would buy you a new one."
"She won't," I said.
"But she gets you everything you want."
"No!" I said, angrily. "She told me I'm too young to have a typewriter."
"Too young?" she said, surprised. "You probably know more about typewriters than she ever will, hon."
"Besides," I added, holding the black albatross by the ends of its heavy roller platen, "it's mine! I found it."
She pondered aloud, "And nobody wants it but you." She hunched down beside me and surveyed the damage. "Maybe I can help."
I sighed, "It's no use. It's just too old and banged up."
"Well, Speedy, let's be patient and see what we can do. I'm sure you can figure it out. Show me what's wrong with it."
I was reluctant and pessimistic at first, but Martha Jane put on her horn-rimmed glasses and made me show her what the problem was. She studied everything closely and showed me how to set up the keys so that the problem was always repeated exactly the same way every time. She told me how to work on one part at a time and not try to fix everything at once. Finally we had the machine in one piece again and I showed her how straightening one key would throw several others out of whack.
Martha Jane sat back and scratched her head. I stood up beside her. "Martha Jane," I said, "you don't have to do this. You have to study."
She said, "No... now you've got me as puzzled about this as you are."
Suddenly she snapped her fingers and ran into the kitchen. She came back with some popsicle sticks. We kept popsicle sticks around for making our own cheap popsicles out of soda or Kool-Aid poured into ice trays. She showed me how to hold the line of keys in place with parts made from popsicle sticks, and that would let me work on one key at a time while keeping the others in place.
"Hey," I exclaimed, "Neat! That's pretty smart for a girl."
"Hm... boys!" she huffed with a laugh, and she went back to the sofa and her books.
An hour passed while I worked feverishly. And finally the damn thing worked! I ran to the chest in the corner for paper and put a sheet into the roller, and used a piece of popsicle stick to replace a missing part that kept the wrinkled old ink ribbon aligned. Then I typed and typed and watched amazed as the page filled with perfectly straight rows of letters for the first time. I was so pleased, I filled the page from top to bottom with letters that soon were words instead of random characters. I watched as my thoughts magically unfolded in printed sentences before my eyes. I typed until there was no more room on the page, then I ripped it from the roller and ran to Martha Jane, who was startled by my sudden leap onto the sofa next to her.
"Look!" I said, shoving the paper under her face.
"Well!" she said, impressed. "That's very nice. See? I knew you could do it."
Embarrassed, I said, "Look at the last line."
Along the last line I had typed "Thank You Martha Jane Thank You Martha Jane", in dark gray letters with the old ribbon, all the way across the page.
"Oh, that's sweet!" she exclaimed. She gave me a hug. "Can I keep this?"
"Is it all right? It's yours, you made it all by yourself. You sure you don't want to keep it so you can show your Mama what you did?"
"She don't care."
"Now why would say something like that about your Mama?"
I shook my head. "She don't care. I didn't make it for me, I made it for you. You helped me make it work."
"But, hon, your Mama cares about what you do."
I shook my head no.
"She does!" Martha Jane insisted.
I shook my head again. "She tells me kid stuff like... she says babies come from storks, and the storks deliver the babies in diapers hangin' from their beaks. She's always tellin' me stuff like that."
"And I take it you didn't believe it."
I shook my head no. "That can't be where babies come from."
"Well," she said, "maybe you ought to talk to your Mama about that."
I shook my head no again.
"So, have you figured out where babies come from all by your self?"
"Not yet. But it ain't from storks."
"You're probably right," she murmured. She gazed at me inscrutably for a long moment, during which I squirmed and stood on the floor but bent down to prop my chin on an elbow that I leaned on the sofa cushion beside her. Then she looked down at the page I had given her and smiled. "This is so nice of you. I'll take it, but... you can have it back whenever you want it."
She held her hand on the back of my neck and drew me toward her so she could kiss me on the nose. "Thank you!"
"Thank you too!" I smiled and blushed and looked at her slender fingers and her auburn hair and the gentle shape of her face. She could not have ignored the way my eyes stayed glued on her. She smiled at me.
She said, pointing to her nose, "Okay, you can kiss me back."
I did and said, "I like your nose."
"Yeah?" she said. She winked at me. "I like yours too."
I feigned an overdramatized blush and a baby-like "Aw, shucks."
"Don't be silly," she laughed, and pointed at my project on the floor. "I hate to say it, hon, but it's nine o'clock. You have to clean that up, and I have to get you a bath."
I said okay and quickly straightened things up while she went into the bathroom and drew the bath. It was time for our bathtub ritual. The apartments had no showers, but they had new tubs in the small tiled bathrooms. Martha Jane would fill the tub to just the right warm temperature for the pink bubble-bath. The magic moment came when I was fidgeting nude by the tub while the water level slowly rose. Martha Jane would hold the packet of bubblebath powder high over the tub.
"Almost ready-y-y..." she'd chant, as I waited.
"Looks okay NOW!" I'd say.
"Nope," she'd say. "Almost... almost..." And finally, "There she blows!" And she'd upturn the packet until just enough of the pink powder fell out to make the right amount of bubbly stuff that I liked.
I would hop into the tub and splash and stir up the bubbles until they overflowed the tub. The bubble-baths were better with Martha Jane than with anyone else, because others insisted on fewer bubbles and less time in the tub. But Martha Jane was herself a bubble-bath lover and seemed to know just how much would be the most fun -- which in my case was enough bubbles to not only fill the tub to its rim but to cover most of my head as well, by the time I fluffed it up.
Martha Jane did not dry and dress me. That was up to me. I was a fidgety kid anyway who liked to dress under my own power. Usually she stayed in the living room and listened to the radio or studied, and I would bathe, dry and dress, and empty the tub myself. On those occasions when she did stay in the bathroom as "supervisor", she was there to make sure I cleaned up my bubbly mess. When this happened, Martha Jane removed her skirt and blouse and wore her bra and panties, or sometimes a delicate silk slip, if I were still in the bath; this was to keep her clothes from being splashed when we got playful and threw globs of bubble-bath at each other during our occasional bubble-fights (Martha Jane, neatnick that she was, insisted on cleaning up every single remnant of any mess we made).
On that night she stayed in the bathroom with me, fully clothed until I climbed into the tub. She stood in the opened doorway and watched contemplatively. After a minute she came into the bathroom and began removing her skirt and blouse. She was almost down to her slip when I announced, from under the mountain of bubbles that reached to my nose, that I had to pee.
"Go ahead," she said.
I insisted, "But YOU'RE in here!"
"For goodness' sake, it won't bother me."
But I refused to pee with her in the room and would not get out of the tub. I remained hidden behind my hill of bubbles.
Seeing my reluctance she said, "all right, I won't embarrass you. Is Number One all you have to do?"
"Just Number One," I said. "But I hafta do it a hunnert and sixty three times."
"Yeah, right... keep it under one hundred, bubble-man, and don't take all night. Do what you have to do, hon, and call me when you're finished."
That was fine with me. She left the room and closed the door. After I peed I got back into the tub and shouted that the coast was clear.
When she opened the door she wore only her bra and panties. For a while she watched me from the opened doorway while I splashed and scrubbed, but when it was time for me to finish up she came into the room and knelt near the tub, watching me as before. I don't remember what I said to her, but she was laughing about it when I pulled the stopper from the tub and stood up to dry off while the water drained. After my upper body was dry I got out of the tub as usual to dry my legs and feet on the little pink rug in the middle of the white tiled floor. Martha Jane knelt and stared at me with that same probing look. I was drying off when she reached up and put two of her slim fingers around the head of my fledgling penis.
She asked, smiling cautiously, "Dry this too?".
"Yep," I answered innocently.
She continued fondling my tip with her two fingers, gently and slowly, squeezing lightly or running a finger around the tip.
I stopped my drying and looked down at what she was doing. I watched her fingers closely, feeling a new and beguiling pleasure at her soft touch.
"Feel good?" she asked, her eyes studying my reactions. Her voice had fallen to a whisper. She half smiled with what appeared to be great interest, curiosity, and uncertainty.
"Yeah," I whispered back.
Our voices were so low that the drip from the bathtub faucet was easily twice the volume. I remember hearing the faint drip, drip, drip, thinking that the hot water handle would have to be tightened to make it stop. But her touch had me spellbound. My tip itched strangely and the skin of my glans seemed to cling to her soft, tentative fingers.
She whispered furtively, "You like that?"
"Yeah. Feels nice."
"Like it when I squeeze this way?"
"Yeah. Keep doin' it."
Constantly observing my reactions, she continued fondling me and asking questions. She had a very secretive, whispered manner as if no one was supposed to hear us, and I fell into this pattern by whispering back my own answers in the same secretive way. As she played with me I grew larger -- something else quite new to me, because I thought that the hardening only happened occasionally when I awoke in the morning. After a moment she set me on the edge of the tub and knelt in front of me, stroking my cock, explaining how it would get even bigger as she did it. Soon I was erect enough to allow her entire hand to enfold me, at which point she began delicately pumping me toward a larger erection.
Still whispering furtively, she was delighted at the size of my young hard-on and made several remarks about how my penis, which normally was hardly bigger than her thumbnail, could grow to about 4 inches and get much fatter. I was far too young to have an orgasm at that point, a fact she apparently discovered after several minutes of this activity. But for quite a while she continued fondling me, and I grew more and more pleased at the sensations. Vaguely I recall that she attempted an explanation of the birds and bees (I found her version to be much more sensible than that crap about storks!), but I absorbed precious little of what then was a great deal of heady biological detail. At that moment I was more interested in the pleasant physical sensations of her touch and the strangely enticing intimacy in her voice and manner.
She studied my facial reactions as much as she did those of my penis, and with every new touch or change in technique she asked me how it felt. I would tell her it felt good and told her the kind of hand movements and squeezes I liked best.
She said, "Now don't tell anybody we did this."
While this may have seemed an odd request to any other young boy, it didn't seem so to me. From the very beginning Martha Jane's secretive manner conveyed to me an air of deliciously naughty discovery, of shared and precious secrets. Obviously I wouldn't do anything Martha Jane didn't want. My distrust of grownups in general had made me adept at developing many covert activities on my own that offered refuge from meddling adults. I was intrigued to find that Martha Jane also had secrets that she kept from grownups but that she was willing to share with me.
From slightly above her I saw a soft swell of flesh extend invitingly down into her bra, and I ran my finger over it. "Why do girls always wear these?" I asked.
Martha Jane told me a bra held a woman's titties securely (Now, the word "titties," as compared with "breasts", was a valid "Southern" term. "Breast" sounded too clinical and seemed to apply mostly to packaged chicken parts. The people I grew up with came from rural farming families before they lived in the city. The word titties was perfectly acceptable. I heard it used often in connection with everything from cats and dogs to cows, auto tire aircaps, and baby-bottle nipples. But from the outset, body words had special connotations for me and Martha Jane. They were spoken with a unique vocal, emotional, and sensual coloration that I find indescribable. These same words would sound entirely different when I heard them used by others. This use of certain words in certain ways became a part of our strange relationship at a very early stage. The singular meanings we gave them appeared to grow entirely under their own power -- the same way the relationship itself seemed to have powers of its own).
She opened her bra and let me touch her flesh and her nipples. The feel of her gave me goosebumps. She explained how babies were nursed. "Babies suck on the nipples," she said, and I asked what it tasted like. She said she had never had a baby so she had no milk in her but she said that a baby sucking its mom's tit was a very important part of the way babies grew up. She asked if I had ever sucked my mom's nipples. I said I probably didn't (which in retrospect, considering my mother's staunch puritanism, was more than likely true). I asked her how it felt and she answered that she really didn't know; no one ever sucked her nipples. I asked if I could suck them and find out. At that request, her hand stopped on me and she simply stared at me for a few seconds, her eyes searching mine, her face a brief blank. Then she blinked her eyes as if pulling herself out of a deep thought, and slowly she reached behind her back. A few seconds later, the bra drooped down to her waist, revealing for me my first sight of round, white, pale-nippled, perfectly shaped breasts. With one hand she touched the back of my neck and with the other she lifted one of her young nipples toward me.
She whispered simply, "Here."
I bent down. The sensation of her marshmallow soft flesh on my tongue has never been duplicated. I was aware of her smiling down encouragingly as I took my sample lick. She was delicious. So I took another, longer lick. Above my head and near my ear, her soft breathing sounded oddly deep and pleasurable. I licked again.
It was a memorable moment. She left me with the impression that she enjoyed my tongue on her in a way that was an equally unique experience for her.
I lifted my head, my neck getting a cramp from its bent position, and as Martha Jane resumed fondling my cock she said in a low, hushed voice that letting me lick her titties was very, very personal and that she would never let anyone do it but me.
After a while she had me as erect as I would ever get at that age. I was in a state not only of physical warmth, but of gratitude for her having revealed to me actions and pleasures that no one but Martha Jane and I would ever know about. And Martha Jane was greatly pleased and surprised at the size of my erection and at my ready complicity in our naughty game.
"We'll do it again later, okay?" she said, holding my very hard penis still in her warm hand. "But don't tell anyone else, hon, because... well..."
She paused. She searched for words.
She said, "Well, they would say this is nasty. They wouldn't like it and we'd be in trouble." She seemed suddenly nervous and very serious.
I asked, "Why do they think it's nasty?"
"They just do. Lots of people don't like doing this."
"You do? Really?"
"Yes," I said, trying very hard to reassure her, "I like it with you."
She grinned weakly. "Let's get you dressed and maybe we can do it again sometime. Sometime later."
I don't remember anything else about that night. But I am certain this was the night that a significant language with its own coloration and associations, its own set of gestures and responses, and a heavily secretive atmosphere introduced themselves into our relationship.
Good little boy that I was, I got dressed. She did, too, and then she put me to bed, kissed me goodnight, and went into the living room to study while I fell asleep. I was perfectly content. It was not so much the physical sensations that left me pleased as it was a new serenity, a feeling of closeness with the only person in the world I could trust.
That was the beginning. I did not invest much time thinking about the details, nor was I old enough to live in constant anticipation of the next event. I knew only that I was extremely fond of Martha Jane, that she had a lovely, trim, well formed, touchable body that, apparently, no one else had ever touched. I was also aware, at the time, of her apprehension and tension. But she needn't have worried; indeed, I never told anyone about us and was never tempted to. This was Martha Jane's secret and mine, a haven from the coldness and fickleness of the outer world. And there was no way I would ever hurt Martha Jane by getting her into trouble that might keep us apart. Unwittingly, we had formed both a compact and a revolt.