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Mead Perkins' bathroom had a strange and wonderful effect on all the women who used it

"The Bawdy Bath"

by Connie Sellers
Vol. 4 No. 6,  1960

    MEAD PERKINS never thought much about bathrooms, until he found the black lace panties in his own.
    Before then, his bath had been like any other--convenient, dispensing hot water and meditative solitude. No longer; it had been invaded.
    Distrustfully, Mead poked at the ridiculously in adequate things. Do a favor for a friend of a friend, and this was the result. Plus lipstick on the mirror and bobby pins in odd corners.
    He should never have rented his place, much less to a young honeymoon couple. Honeymoon--the very word was saccharine and untidy. The mirror glared at him as he wiped away the lipstick smear, and thought how often the new Mrs. Smith must have posed here. Her scent lingered in the shower curtains, musky and disturbingly sensuous.
    Somehow, the entire room was changed, permeated with the vibrant life it had held. Mead frowned at the seat cover; imagine painting a garish rose upon such a utilitarian lid.
    The Smiths must have practically lived in this room, preferring it, through some youthful quirk, to all others. Even, Mead thought, to the bedroom. He looked up and reddened at the watchful mirror.
    Lascivious latrine, ribald restroom, or whatever--he still had to get the house respectable for the welcome-home gathering this evening, dammit. The campus clans would be gathering now, totem chiefs of psychology, literature, sociology, English lA and muscledom--all supposedly eager to hear about his vacation trip.
    Actually, they'd come to drink Mead's booze, and to envy him the trust fund that let him go galloping off to distant lands. Mead didn't have to teach, but generally, it was an enjoyable pastime.
    Especially, he thought, the part about being surrounded by tightly sweatered femininity each day, unapproachable as it might be.
    He shook himself, scooped up the abandoned panties with tingling fingers, and resolutely interred them in a wastebasket. There were Martinis to mix, and stories to ready about a glamorous trip that had really been a big, fat nothing.
    And objectively speaking, so was Mead's welcome home party. Oh, the chatter would be bright, and the clan heads properly appreciative of his lies. But it would also be boring.
    That is, if Mead didn't include Miss Willa Loflin, English lA and Creative Writing. Willa had equipment for other pursuits, but she masked it well--flat heels, skin-tight hair, glasses too studiously studious.
    They came, and it was as he thought. Mead nuzzled his third Martini and sighed. This looked very much like it was going to be an other long semester.
    Miss Betts--Sociology II--changed that idea in a hurry. She came out of the powder room with a gleam in her myopic eyes and made straight for Coach Thomas.
    Things livened considerably after she made determined contact. Miss Betts had a lot of long, gangling physique to spread over the amazed coach, and she spread it with a will.
    Mead looked hastily away, and eyed the Martini pitcher with suspicion. He didn't think he'd been that heavy-handed with the gin. In fact, he couldn't think of any stimulant acting as an aphrodisiac on the angular Miss Betts. Yet there she was, Circe with a fuse blown, and running in reverse.
    "Ulp!" said Coach Thomas, but Miss Betts was already down to his lettered tee-shirt, and obviously intent upon more earthy material.
    "Miss Betts!" Willa Loflin gasped. Mr. Crunch, Psych I, was well in to his fourth drink, and merely took an academic interest in the action.
    "Repression release," he muttered, and looked well content with himself.
    With an athletic surge, Coach Thomas broke free, and dashed for the outer night with shirttail flap ping. Miss Betts was in hot pursuit, not to be denied by the coach's broken-field running.
    Willa Loflin disappeared into the bath to recover her scholarly composure. The other stunned lecturers mumbled hasty apologies of sorts, gathered coats and briefcases, and went home.
    Mead knew how they felt. It was as if the hallowed ivy of Monterey Peninsula College had turned suddenly to fig leaves that didn't give a joyous damn what they covered. Miss Betts was more than a teacher--she was an institution.
    He was sniffing darkly at the Martini shaker when Willa Loflin came down the hall. The shaker almost missed the table as Mead focused on her.
    No horn-rimmed glasses now; no tight-drawn bun of hair; no sensible shoes. In fact, Willa was a bit wild-eyed, her hair cascading thick and free, and she was bare-footed as a nymph.
    "Mead," she breathed through dew damp lips, and welded herself passionately to him.
    He didn't say anything; he couldn't. Mead was too busy reveling in the lush warmth of Willa's generous breasts flattening against him, the caress of hip and thigh, the bright flame of her searching mouth.
    They were together on the soft rug, and suddenly all the timid, withdrawn years didn't matter. The pointless, shy trips to exotic lands weren't important any more.
    Abandoned, delirious, Willa blended with him, struggling to become part of him, eager and searing. The room spun, the rug rippled in an upheaval of whitewarm thighs and coiling legs, and they were lost in sweetwild thunder.
    A drowsy century later, she whispered it into the base of his throat: "Mead--I--I don't know what came over me. I went into the bath and--"
    Mead's eyes snapped open. The bath. That strange, sensuous feeling he'd gotten when he'd first returned to it and found the lace panties. It wasn't a lecherous figment of his imagination, then. The damned thing was alive.
    "Mead," Willa said again, "I'm sorry."
    "Sorry?" He stared at the tangled mass of her honeybrown hair. "It's nothing to be sorry about."
    She pulled away from him, the clean lust fading from her face. It was no longer womanly, but prim and cool.
    "We've been very foolish," she said.
    She came to her feet holding rumpled clothing, and went to the bedroom to dress. Mead tidied his own clothing and sought the Martini pitcher.
    Whatever weird power his bath room held, it wasn't permanent. It came and went. Still, there had been the period between, and there was the logical adage about half a loaf. He sighed, and downed a stiff drink. It would have been nice--the bed with lights low, the cold shaker on the nightstand, and Willa serpentine beside him all through the night.
    She came across the room and held out a cold hand to him. "Good night, Mead. I repeat--I'm sorry, and assure you it will never happen again."
    He said "damned shame" under his breath and saw her to the door. She wouldn't kiss him good night.
    When she was gone, he approached the bath cautiously, sorted his thoughts, and stepped inside. It was true; he felt it when he crossed the threshold. Sensuality oozed from the very walls. Mead put his hand against a wall. It was warm and smooth.
    He stepped back. The room was a tender trap; it had taken on life from the life of the honeymoon couple who had stayed so often in it. Such a room could cause no end of trouble. Mead winked at the mirror. It could also lead to more than a little adventure.

    NEXT DAY, Mead tried to put his new treasure to use. Willa Loflin couldn't possibly think his lecherous latrine had anything to do with her compulsive surrender the night before.
    But he didn't figure on woman's intuitive sense. Willa flatly refused to visit his cottage again, under any circumstances. And away from the bawdy bath, she was cool and unreceptive.
    Miss Betts was on sick leave. Strangely enough, so was Coach Thomas. Mead struggled through his classes and went home.
    When his door buzzer sounded that evening, Mead sprang from his chair to let Willa in. But it wasn't Willa; it was only Bess Douglas.
    "Oh," Mead said.
    "Yes," Bess said, and came thin and springily into the room. "The mid-term papers. I thought perhaps you'd forgotten them. And no wonder."
    She bustled to the table and started to unpack her briefcase.
    "No wonder what?" Mead asked.
    "That you're forgetting things, what with the goings-on around here."
    "Stop imitating a Mynah Bird,"
    Bess said. "You know very well what I mean--Coach Thomas and poor Miss Betts, and you following Willa Loflin around like a sophomore."
    Mead started to say "sophomore," but didn't. It had been that noticeable, then. Bess was right, of course. He was supposed to be a reasonable man of some standing. Still-- it had been nice when the bars were down.
    "The mid-terms," Bess reminded him.
    They worked through two cups of coffee and a mountain of test papers. Bess got up sometime later without his noticing.
    Moments later, Mead knew he'd been wrong all the way. Bess was far from skinny. She was neatly turned and modeled. In miniature, true--but all there and all palpitating. She'd left her dress and underclothes somewhere.
    Too late, Mead remembered the bathroom.
    Bess was lithely upon him-- and around and under him at once smooth flesh interlocked in frantic music, in vibrant desire that made a warm net of arms and legs, a receptive couch of daintily flared hips..
    Sometime later, Mead managed to say: "Well!"
    "Well, indeed," Bess gasped, and scurried loose-limbed and bare away from his eyes.
    He heard the bedroom door slam. "Stay out of that bath, Bess!"
    Muffled and agonized, her voice came back. "Don't worry. Please--get my dress?"
    Mead rescued her clothing from the bathroom floor and knocked on the bedroom door.
    "Drop it and go away," she said.
    "You heard me. And stand clear. I don't know what you put in your coffee, Mead Perkins, but it isn't fair."
    Mead clumped away. Another one, almost fine as Willa, and the urge had worn away as quickly. Willa, then Bess--with the passing of swift ships, impermanent as fog wisps, hurrying to other ports.
    She came flushed and red-eyed to stand before him. He didn't look up, but passed her the briefcase. "Good night, Bess."
    "Good bye," she corrected, and stalked from the house.
    The hell with it, Mead thought, and poured an earned drink. Then he doubled his quota. And the hell with tomorrow's classes, too, he decided, and had another belt.
    He sat with head in hands, wondering what wild gods had presented him with a sentient bathroom, what perverse power made him seek a permanence so often denied. Mead took another drink.

    MORNING SUN jack-hammered his eyelids, and grape crushers strode barefoot across his tongue. Mead winced erect and stumbled for a cold shower.
    Slowly, chillingly, his head cleared. So did his nostrils. That musky, insistent odor was in them again--the smell of tenderness, of woman flesh textured for caresses. Mead toweled himself roughly, angrily.
    Gift or no, this lascivious latrine would have to go. He wondered briefly if the disinfectant people could do anything about it. The door buzzer rattled.
    "Okay!" Mead yelled, and was immediately sorry. He put a hand to his head.
    When he swung the door open, he felt himself shrink inside the terry-cloth robe.
    "Professor Perkins," she said, dimpling.
    "A moment," he sputtered, waved vaguely at the couch, and dashed from the presence of Lori Romain without even wondering why the dazzling campus queen had called.
    Mead took with him a picture etched indelibly upon all five stunned senses. There was distilled attar of pure redhead, the physical impact of creamy skin, green eyes and flame hair--and her voice, throbbing with silver trumpets and muted drums. The flavor of Lori was a tangible thing in his dry mouth.
    While his fingers missed button holes and fought with zippers, Mead tried to calm himself. One: post graduate student Lori Romain would most certainly be here for nothing but advice. Two: the lush, sought- after redhead no doubt had too many suitors lurking in the background already. Three: she was much younger than Mead Perkins.
    He didn't count to four. Lori effected him beyond logic, as she did every male within seeing distance. But the man, who got her would probably live in a rajah's palace, and stand her upon a golden pedestal in some pagan temple.
    He shut his eyes as the quick-tapping of her heels came down the hall, paused before his closed door, then turned into the room across the way--the bath.
    The bath! Mead lunged for his doorknob, missed, and tried again, knowing he was already too late. Lori Romain was shut with the precocious precincts of the bawdy bath room.
    Mead galloped out, intending to pause only long enough to fortify himself for flight. Not that he would mind an inspired interlude with Lori. But, as the sage had said--that, too, would pass away.
    To taste such a glory, then lose it, would be far worse than to have never known the wonder that was Lori Romain.
    Mead tossed off a raw slug from a brown bottle, shuddered, and hesitated over the thought of another. For want of a decision, he was lost.
    She drifted toward him, and he could have sworn she rode a sun-shot cloud. Wearing nothing but her own beauty, she was a master's panorama of sculptured breasts and soft curves. There were sweep and taper of thigh and satined stomach, and Lori was crowned high and accented low by the redbronze flame of hair.
    At first it was mystic, brushed with gentle magic and blessed by ancient rites of flower goddesses. Her flesh was velvet, fitting to him in hungry haste.
    The gentleness lost itself in tempered violence, in the thigh-seeking, hip-searching madness of creamrose skin and nippled thrusting that grew in frenzy until it found and clung mightily, until it crested in a wonder wave that swept starfoaming over them.
    Lori talked softly, her crushed poppy lips at his ear. She told him of waiting, of wasted time. He tried to say things about ages, about in fatuations, but she would not listen.
    At last, he told her of the bath, forced himself to describe the strange powers of that room. If Mead had to be anything at that moment, he had to be honest--with Lori and with himself.
    She listened, smiling, the brush of caressing fingertips at his bare chest.
    "All right, darling," she said then. "The bath is alive, or magic. I'll admit something pushed me into this faster than I'd planned. But I did plan it."
    "But--but, Lori--"
    She shushed him with a ripe mouth, and drew away to say, "I think it's wonderful."
    "You're--you're not sorry?"
    "Sorry? What a word!"
    Mead breathed in the fragrance of her hair, and decided to shut the hell up.
    After a moment, Lori said, "Mead, do you think it could be--well, lonely?"
    He blinked. "Lonely?"
    "The bathroom. From what you say, it effects women more than men--therefore, it's male. Let's build another bath to keep it company--all pink and feminine."
    She could have had the world stood on end; all she had to do was ask. "Of course. There's room enough at the end of the house. It can be placed back-to-back."
    Lori giggled. "No, dear. Not back to-back. That would be ridiculous."
    She wriggled closer to him.
    Mead thought back-to-back was ridiculous, too.

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