‘It was the green dress that did it,’ I responded. ‘The green dress, plus you were just too lovely and vivacious that night to pass up. As well, I think I was ready. Ready, I guess, for more life in my life. I can’t in all honesty say there was much wrong with the life I was living – just that spending that evening in your company I figured, for the first time, I could have more, sweetheart. You turned my world upside down back then – and repeated doing so again more recently. I’ll thank you forever for that – and thank you forever for taking me up to your room that night.’
That first morning away I had woken up to another hotel room – but as usual waking up next to Judy meant turning to see her already with her nose in a book. That was okay – we were in no hurry to get out and about on our first morning in Hobart. At our ages helter-skeltering wasn’t our scene any more. Once we’d come in from the airport last evening and settled in to our accommodation on the IXL side of the city’s waterfront, we’d chatted what we might do today. In the end we decided we’d take the grey-camouflaged river-cat up-stream to MONA. I’d been before, when it first opened and knew it was a must-see. It had turned tourism on its head to the island of both our births and I was keen to show her it. Judy hadn’t been to the state’s southern capital in decades. Both being North West Coasters in our youth, it was far easier hopping on a plane across to Melbourne than making the torturous road trip to Hobs. At least that wasn’t so bad these days, but back in the day it seemed to take forever – and someone always became car-sick. The Casino had livened the small city on the Derwent up for a while, but mostly back then Hobart seemed as sleepy as Burnie.
Judy was a bookaholic. Every chance she’d get she was turning pages. The daily paper and a good whodunit, now and again, did me. I’d also read sporting biographies of AFL stars and cricketers – but no more than a couple a year. Jude would devour a dozen or so books a month. She reckoned they kept her going when her kids were younger, stuck down the Mornington Peninsula for most of her married life. Reading, so she said, was now ingrained in her.
AFL had a fair amount to do with us being together in the first place. I met her by chance on a footy trip across the Strait with the lads. Then I used it, or the cricket, as an excuse for scuttling off to Melbourne several times a year to catch up with her. For my sake she was always discreet and knew where to meet away from the usual tourist traps. In this way I concealed the affair for so long. But, coming back to her books – one aspect of her obsession is that she loved talking about them to me. And I enjoyed listening. It had only been a year or so now since I made the decision to up and leave my Burnie existence and Raissa to strike out on a new life with my Melbourne love, now that she was free. In those months she always kept me appraised of her latest novel – for it was fiction she usually read. I could see that one in Hobart that morning was something entitled ‘Honey Brown’, or so I thought.
When I enquired as to what ‘Honey Brown’ was about she laughed. ‘No Jim, that’s the author’s name. The book itself is called ‘Six Degrees’. As to what it’s about…Well, how should I put this? It’s about sex, my love – first time sex with someone. It’s short stories. Let me give you their titles – that’ll give you the idea. Here, I’ll flip back through – I’m almost finished. There’s ‘Threesome’, ‘Two Women’, ‘Older’, ‘Younger’, ‘Two Men’ – you’d love that one Jim. Not. And the one still to go is ‘First Time’. And they’re pretty erotic tales too, let me tell you, my love. Almost too much for this good Christian girl. They get me all hot and bothered.’
She gave a slightly embarrassed laugh, but I asked her to tell me about those she’d already read. She put the book to one side and asked if I was sure I wanted to know. When I nodded she snuggled down beside me into the crook of my arm and placed a hand strategically on my upper thigh. ‘Sure you’re up for this old fella? It might get you a bit worked up too. Anyway, it might be all about the act, but it’s still well written, I reckon. She does sex well, does Honey Brown. All the stories have a kind of link to tie them together and they all end with the two involved making love. Actually, with the first episode there’s three in the mix. It’s Valentines Day and a café owner receives a bouquet of flowers from the love of her life who’s a famous cook. But they have never really taken action on their mutual affection – each reckoning the other is not interested in turning friendship into something more. Anyway, the chef turns up at the woman’s flat above the café, only to catch her just after being in said act with one of her wait staff. One thing leads to another and in the end a threesome changes her life and brings the two together, the renowned chef and the object of his yearnings. It all seems unlikely, I know, but in Honey’s capable hands it makes sense – sort of. The lesbian story starts off in a Kalgoorlie skimpy bar – you know what that is Jim?’
‘Thought so. I didn’t before this book. I’ve led a sheltered life you see. Anyway she’s not really one of the skimpies – but still dances for the men and manages to get their appreciation without actually taking any of her clothes off. But in a mining town there’s not really much action for someone of her persuasion, until there’s a night she eventually realises that one the punters she’s serving is actually a woman. From the time she passes across her frothy their eyes meet continuously across the crowded room and you can probably guess the rest sweetheart. The story I liked best, well so far anyway, was of the older man and a young twenty something, set in the high country somewhere. He was fifty, Jim, hardly past it. How old are you again? Sorry, don’t look at me like that. Anyway, she’s a fishing guide, being the one who was initially attracted and made all the running. The older bloke’s a real gentleman and she can tell he has issues that he’s perhaps taking a break from. What they are become clearer as we progress. She just finds him so different to the younger guys, who seem to her just to have one thing on their minds. This mature male seems cut from a different cloth to those of around her age she’d been associating with in recent times. He does his best to resist her flirting during the hours they spend together by brook and stream – but of course in the end he succumbs. But it’s all very lovely and I really think you can tell it’s a woman writing this. She doesn’t pull back when it comes to descriptions of the lovemaking part, but I imagine it’s softer than if a man wrote it. That being said – it’s all a hell of a lot better than that ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ stuff. I’m still trying to work out why I just had to read all three. Might be a bit more to me than you figured, Jim. Watch out, I say. You getting sick of this? You want to me to carry on?’
I replied in the affirmative and she laughed. She asked if it was making me feel any awakening down below. I told her that maybe that could be the case. ‘Well, I’d better continue then. The next tale is the reverse of the previous. Seems this young fellow has always had a crush on the older woman next door. While hubby is no longer a factor he seizes the opportunity and finds his desired MILF is just as eager as he is. The story is told from her point of view and sort of gives the woman the kick start to get on with the rest of her life. She has a fair idea the youngster needs to be just a one off for she’s no cougar – and she has a fair idea too who a more suitable candidate could be. The next not-so-sexy one is about this woman’s estranged hubby. Seems he’s moved over to the gay side, meets a certain someone at a writers’ retreat. Being two guys it was the one I related to the least. You’d hate it Jim. I know you are all for their rights, but you’re still very much the old fashioned heterosexual, aren’t you, my darling?’
By this time Jude’s hand had moved to another position and we ended up making love – the first time in quite a while. ‘Must be being back in Hobs,’ Judy quipped. ‘I can’t imagine what else may have bought that on. You could almost be fifty again.’
Despite it being a return visit, MONA was still an eye-opener. Stuff I remembered from my first time was no longer on exhibition and there was plenty that I hadn’t seen to keep me fascinated. Last time was after my enforced stay down here following my turn in the main street of Burnie, so I didn’t get to see it all in any case. I conked out about half-way and had to have a spell. It was during that period of time that I confessed to Raissa what had been going on all those years with Jude. For a while she seemed to take it well and I resolved to try and make it up to her. But once we were back in Burnie it was obvious the dynamics of our marriage had changed and I was finding myself still hankering for Judy, even though, by this time, it wasn’t the passionate affair it had once been. Going to Melbourne meant I’d have great company with somebody I was very quickly coming to adore. The great sex, if it happened, was a bonus..
Judy kept emailing me and that didn’t help me trying to wean myself off her. For a while I refrained from answering, but she was persistent and eventually my promise to myself crumbled. For a while we just communicated about our daily doings – but even so it soon became apparent she wasn’t the same old Judy. Something was going on in her world too. I certainly wasn’t the same Franksy my mates would recognise either. They’d reckoned I had changed – and I didn’t need my pals telling me to buck up, so for a while I distanced myself from them. I knew exactly what was needed to get me out of my funk. Judy had long given up her other ‘regulars’ when she travelled to the city. I knew that, but I was nonetheless surprised when she let me know that now, perhaps following my lead, she and hubby Tom had had a heart to heart as well. It turns out he’d found someone else too – and he had also been seeing her for some time unbeknown to Jude. Seems when she also confessed he already had a fair idea what was going on with her. He was happy to move to Portsea where his lady lived, leaving her with their abode. Looking back over it all, it’s hard to imagine that these days I contentedly reside here with Judy. It all seemed to happen so quickly. It so did the trick, though. These days I’m more than happy with my lot in life.
Of course I knew nothing of her confession until Judy emailed me with the details of her conversation with her spouse. The final line of her account read, ‘No pressure, Jim. I am here if you want me.’ Simple as that – and I couldn’t wait to get to her. I still have the guilts about up and leaving as suddenly as I did after that. But then I knew Raissa was not in a good place. I had betrayed her and she resented me for it. Perfectly understandable. I thought it was in our best interests to part. I told her face to face, my Raissa. She said she’d been expecting it. All in all I just figured life’s too short to be miserable. For as much as my wife once meant to me there was now someone else who meant more – and she was available. I would have to take it easy, I knew that. Any physical exertion, even love making, still takes it out of me, so I take life very slowly these days. Judy is all go, go, go and she has plenty to be on the go with in her community – and she has her overnighters in Melbourne. I know these days her only interest is in the shopping. Occasionally, on my better days, I go up with her on the train – but frankly, I’m just as happy pottering around the house. Hobart is a sort of tester as we’d both like to do a bit more travel – maybe a cruise or an island resort up north. I should be up for that, shouldn’t I?
It helps too that I’ve recently been made aware that Raissa has someone in her life too now – a younger man she calls ‘Lad’. I suppose it’s a tad like the MILF story Jude was describing to me. I’ve no idea who this guy is, but Kylie tells me she’s happy as all get out. Good on her I reckon – I wouldn’t want her otherwise.
Showing my lovely lady around MONA just re-enforced my view about what a special place it is. It is justifiably deserving of all the glowing reports written about it, but still I was a little wary. Despite her facility for giving and receiving a good time in the bedroom, my Jude can be a bit prudish about overt displays of sex and nudity – but I needn’t of worried. She loved it. She reckoned it left the NGV for dead. Nothing on offer at MONA fazed her – and there’s still plenty of weird in-your-face-stuff there.
That afternoon we pottered around, caught the tail end of Salamanca Market and then headed up to the restaurant strip in North Hobart. We had a fine repast at a place called Capital and decided to walk back to the hotel, being such a mild night. By a couple of blocks, however, I was done in and we took a cab the remainder of the way.
It was around seven the following Sunday that I emerged from the land of nod to find my wonderful partner-for-the-rest-of-my-life immersed in a book. I tapped her shoulder and said I thought it was a different one to yesterday. ‘No good mornings then?’ she chided.
‘Sorry, sorry – all that with bells on. Only I’m keen to find out what happened with ‘First Time’. That’s what you were reading when we went to bed, wasn’t it?’
‘It was my treasure. Good memory love. You’re not losing it after all. And all that snoring you did overnight. We had a big day yesterday, didn’t we? I enjoyed it. Bet I snored a bit too. Let me just finish this little bit and I’ll cosy up and tell you about it.’
I needed the loo, but when I tried to hop out of bed the old bod wasn’t so keen to follow instructions. I realised then that on that second day I’d have to take it quietly in what I planned. I also knew I was having trouble with my short term memory and that was concerning me. Judy had obviously picked up on it too. I tried to tell her yesterday the new/old name for Mt Wellington – what the first Tasmanians called it back before colonisation. But think I could recall it? I had only read about it in one of the guides shortly before we left the hotel and made a mental note, or so I’d thought. It wasn’t as if it was a difficult word either. Still I could recall the previous day’s activity under the sheets all right – so that was something. With that and all the walking – no wonder a bloke was stuffed.
On my return Jude was waiting for me and snuggled in, placing her hand in its welcome position on my upper leg. She proceeded to give me an account of the final instalment. ‘Jim, it’s about young girl losing her cherry at a rural eighteenth birthday shindig. The guy involved was also a virgin, a former neighbour. She had witnessed a horrific accident he was involved in outside his front gate, causing him to lose his father. He disappeared after that, so it was a chance reconnection at the party, in more ways than one. I was a bit ho-hum in truth, my love, compared to some of the others. Bit it did link up nicely to the other tales and rounded the whole book off .’
When she finished she took her hand away, placing it on my chest instead. She knew I’d be overdoing it if we had a repeat performance. In doing so, though, she asked that initial question, ‘How much do you remember of our first time, my love?’
I told her then the impact the green dress had on me – it was something she was not unaware of. I’d repeated my love of her in it so often over the years. Jude and I had known each other in our early days in Burnie. Our paths had crossed in the months before Raissa entered my world. Had she not – well, let’s just say for a while there I liked what I saw in Judy, although she was a bit on the young side for me at that stage. Once my wife-to-be came along I lost all interest though. We’d see each other out and about – Burnie was too small a place not to. We’d say hello or wave and that was just about that. Then she too disappeared. I learnt later that she’d met a fellow in Victoria. Then, back in the early nineties, I was on one of my footy trips and wandering around Brunswick Street when she passed me. I knew it was her as soon as I saw her so I called out. She turned and was nonplussed till I shouted my name. She came running back and gave me a glorious hug. I took in her perfume, her eyes – still with the twinkle I remembered from our tender years – and, I must admit, her breasts pressed up against me, if only ever so briefly. We had coffee and bought ourselves up to date with each other’s journey in the mean time. Then she explained her reason for being in the city – retail therapy – and asked if I would enjoy dining with her that evening.
That night I escaped my mates and headed for the diner date she had arranged near the Crown Casino. I knew as soon as I spotted her waiting for me in that dress what else would be on offer that evening if I should choose to take her up on it. I had few qualms in doing so.
I told Judy all of what I remembered of that first evening by the Yarra on our last morning in Hobart as she moved her hand back and forwards across my chest. I told her how magnificent I thought her breasts were, obviously unencumbered by any bra, the material so silken, almost sheer. ‘Too bad the boobs are so far gone to be such a hussy these days.’ was her response.
I placed a hand on one of her still appetising globes and reassured her that they’re the only breasts in the world for me – that I still found something quite remarkable in their beauty. She laughed and moved in a little closer, calling me an old devil and that it was just as well as I was too pooped to do anything about it.’But maybe we could play around a bit in other ways. What do you reckon?’
It did occur to me, that night, to wonder why she would need such a beguiling outfit on a shopping trip to the CBD. When I enquired, a little further down the track, she wasn’t reticent in coming forward with the news that there were other men-friends she met up with, on occasion, in the city. She quickly ruled out the fleeting notion I had that she might do a bit of high-end escort work on the side. ‘No,’ she explained. ‘They are just random men I’ve met in my Melbourne stays that I like and want to see more of. Sometimes sex is involved – but more often than not they also just want some discreet company when they are in town. And I often like somebody to spend a few hours with after being on my tod all day in the shops.’
I remembered when I asked about her hubby she guffawed, ‘Tom! He’d have conniptions if he knew the half of what I got up to when not in his presence, the good Christian fella he is. His mind’s just on making the money I spend. We do all right down the Peninsula, but life’s a tad on the dull side with all his church mates. I refuse to get involved these days. I’ve seen the light. Ha! I’m sure he’d kill me if he knew. Not really. He’d find an explanation for it in God’s will and want me to pray with him for my eternal soul.’ Turns out she was wrong about that, but I can’t complain when I am so much the beneficiary.
Judy drifted off back to sleep that Hobart morning so I continued to lie there, thinking back to that first night. After being a one woman man all my adult life, being with another was a revelation. Raissa had, no doubt about it, been a great wife and mother. And she was still a marvellously attractive woman. But the passion had long since gone – not a bad thing in itself, but I guess I was then vulnerable if somebody else came along and displayed a little interest. Jude certainly did that. Footy trips became a break from routine, but I always demurred when some of the others trooped off to the King Street fleshpots. I wasn’t interested in that sort of thing – so when that stunning vision in Fitzroy caught my eye and I realised who she was, a whole new world opened up to me.
That first date Jude and I did imbibe a fair bit with our meal – me for Dutch courage as I knew what was coming. Then she took me, hand in hand, to her room up in the Casino’s tower. Once inside she shimmied out of her green dress, pressed up against me with those glorious breasts and gave me a lingering kiss. That decided it. In a flash we both were completely disrobed and under the sheets. What followed was a night I’ll never forget. As we prepared to go our separate ways the next morning she whispered in my my ear, ‘Come to Melbourne often, Jim?’ I knew an invitation when I heard it, especially when she slipped a card with her phone number into my hand.
So that began our decade long relationship. I kept the footy trips going, most times slipping away and meeting up with Jude. Then they became just a cover for spending as much time as we could together. I am sure Raissa never twigged and I figured it kept me happy so what was the problem? Judy and I both knew its boundaries and were careful to be discreet, turning to the inner suburbs for our meetings rather than in the centre of town where there was more chance we could be spotted. As time went on it became more Judy’s company I craved, as much as her body – and then the latter became almost secondary. She, at some stage, dispensed with her other gentleman, reckoning she was getting too old for all that nonsense, as she called it. She confided I was the special one, that we rubbed along pretty well and she was never obliged to do anything she didn’t feel like with me. That was a real ego boost – silly man that I am. Then came my heart turn and its associated attack of the guilts, leading me to this point in time, spending my autumn years with the lovely Jude.
I was smiling, Judy’s beautiful head was on my chest and I realised she must be worn out too from the previous day’s Hobartian exertions. When she did stir she asked what I had arranged for the last day. She knew I had something planned, but I wanted it to be a surprise. We rose, toileted and dressed, after which she found I had organised for a hire car to be delivered to the hotel. I drove her out along the Cambridge Road to Richmond, stopping at the wineries and other attractions en route. We dined al fresco at the Richmond Wine Centre, under the branches of a tree, for lunch – thoroughly recommended, before heading west up the Coal Valley. By the time we finished Judy had arranged for a couple of dozen crates of lovely cool climate drops to be sent to our home – as well as a bag of cheeses and other assorted produce to take back with us on the plane that evening. The eponymous new Coal River Farm was a highlight, and we noted Zoodoo for our next trip when we’d make sure we had a bit more time. Judy had done well out of her newly minted divorce and continued her love affair with treating herself, as well as yours truly, to all that was good in life. It was a magnificent day. The spring weather was sublime, the sky a flawless blue and Judy was radiantly happy as we toured about. That afternoon life didn’t get much better. I was with a woman I cherished and now they knew her, my Kylie and Shane thoroughly approved. That Raissa was in a good place too helped.
Late that evening, on our Virgin flight back to Tullamarine, I leant over to my love and inquired, ‘You’ve packed that book, haven’t you?’
‘What? You mean the Honey Brown?’
‘Sure do. Seems to me she helped make our Hobart jaunt truly memorable. The least I can do to repay her is read her book.’
‘Jim, you never cease to amaze me. Are you sure the old ticker of yours will stand it?’
And just to prove I wasn’t completely past it, I had another word for her too. ‘That’s it. I’ve remembered – kunyani.’
‘What on earth are you on about?’
‘The mountain. Mount Wellington. I’ve been trying to recall it’s Aboriginal name. It’s only just come to me – kunyani, with a little k.’
Judy shook her head, gave my hand a squeeze and turned to look out over the lights of Melbourne as we came into land.