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"Book Club"

by Harry Fontaine



Vol. 3, No. 5,  1961

     Librarians aren't sexy. This one was no exception. She wore her brown hair in a bun at the nape of her neck; a masculine looking white blouse; a rough tweed suit and, of course, sensible shoes.
     "Yes? May I help you ?" Her voice was gentle and, as the placard on her desk suggested, Quiet.
     "I would like a copy of the Kinsey Report," I answered.
     Her lips formed the merest suggestion of a smile. "Male or Female?" Damn her! It's like when you go to a drugstore and it's always a girl who serves you, and she always smiles and asks, "What kind?"
     "Female, please." I leered at her with what I thought was overbearing masculinity.
     "I'm sorry," she smiled. "That gentleman over there in the gray suit has the last copy." She glanced in the direction of a long library table occupied by two teen-age, gum-snapping girls giggling over a book on male anatomy; a fluttery looking old gentleman (a bird watcher, no doubt) intently engrossed in a large copy of "Woodlarks"; and the gray suit.
     "Has he drawn the book, or is he just looking at it here ?"
     "He doesn't have a library card, I'm sure."
     "May I ask him?"
     I walked over. "Pardon me, but the librarian, Miss...ah..."
     "Simpson." He looked up and smiled, "Say, this is the damnedest book. Have you read it?"
     "No, I was hoping..."
     "Sit down, sit down." He motioned to an empty chair beside him. "My name is Charles Stone. Yours?"
     "Bill Tobey." I sat down and asked, "Are you nearly finished?"
     He looked at me queerly and answered, "I hope so, I really hope so."
     "I don't understand..."
     "Forget it," he grinned. "I was thinking aloud. I used to think there were so many girls and so little time, and now--I wonder."
     "Hell," I laughed, "you still got a lot of time. You can't be any older than me, thirty-three...thirty-four."
     "I'm twenty-two," he smiled weakly.
     "Sorry, I didn't realize..."
     "That's okay," he laughed. "Twenty-two, seventy-two, what's the difference? I'm both."
     "Now about Kinsey." I wanted to change the subject.
     "Kinsey has made it all very clear, with his graphs, percentages, confessions. I wish I could have spoken to him," Charles mused.
     "I have a fine collection of 'Erotica' and I was wondering if Kinsey should be added..."
     "Not Kinsey," he interrupted. "Kinsey is merely a collection of cold, proven facts. But if you are interested in Erotica--I have a book I'm sure you have never seen."
     "What's it called ?" I was naturally interested.
     "Suppose you meet me here tomorrow--I'll bring it. It's entitled The Complete Consummation of Sex."
     "I should like very much to look at it. What time shall I meet you ?"
     "Look at it? Hell, I may even give it to you." He studied me closely. "Yes, I think I'll give it to you. Be here sometime after two tomorrow."
     "Fine !" I agreed.
     As I was leaving, I passed Miss Simpson's desk. She smiled quite warmly (for a librarian). "You look quite pleased with yourself, Mr..."
     "Tobey, Bill Tobey." I paused momentarily in front of her desk.
     "Did you find the information you were looking for?"
     "No," I chuckled, "but I will tomorrow.
     "How nice." She removed her glasses and her eyes narrowed as she repeated, "How very nice."
     I walked out the front door thinking: There's something about her eyes.
     Shortly before 2 p.m. the next day, I was back. As I hurried past her desk, she looked up. "Good afternoon, Mr. Tobey."
     "Good afternoon, Miss Simpson. Has my friend Mr. Stone arrived yet?"
     "Yes, he's here," she smiled.
     "I hope I haven't kept him waiting," I answered.
     "He's been waiting--quite some time."
     I hurried over to the table where Charles was seated.
     "Hello, Bill. I'm glad you could come," he greeted me warmly.
     I pulled up a chair and said, "You've whetted my curiosity with this book of yours. I wouldn't have missed meeting you today if Kim Novak had offered to..."
     His laughter interrupted me, "Okay, Bill, here it is. No--don't open it here. Wait until you can read it in privacy."
     My eager fingers reluctantly closed the worn leather jacket. "You mean it's mine? Surely you will allow me to pay you something..."
     "That won't be necessary. I want you to take it home tonight and study it very carefully, then return with it tomorrow, and, if you still wish to keep it--it shall be yours on one condition."
     "The condition?"
     "Read it first and we'll talk of that tomorrow."
     That night I read it and reread it. The Complete Consummation of Sex was the most thorough and extensive compilation on the subject I had ever read. Fascinating! It had chapters on the ancient anointing rituals used on Egyptian virgins; the education of Moorish harem girls; the female circumcision rites still used in Africa. I had to have it. My library on Erotica would not be complete without it. While walking to the library the next day, I swore to myself I would fulfill his condition...any condition.
     He was waiting. "Well, Bill, what do you think of it?"
     "It is the most emotionally inspired book I have ever read, tell me--what must I do?"
     "Did you read the chapter on the unadorned beauty that lies within all women."
     "I see. And you believe this exquisite loveliness belongs to man? Not any man, but to the one man who has the knowledge and ability to find this beauty, in any woman, and bathe himself in unconfined rapture. Do you believe this?"
     "Yes, I believe that." I thought he was getting a little carried away with himself, but basically what he said I believed.
     "Excellent! Excellent !" He was jubilant. "Then it's settled, the book shall be yours."
     "I don't quite follow you."
     "All you have to do is prove what you just admitted. Find this inner beauty in a woman--and the book is yours."
     "Any woman?" I had ideas about two I'd like to try these principles on."
     "No-o-o. Not any woman. This shall have to be something of a test. I'll choose the woman."
     "Okay." The other two would have to wait. "Who?"
     "Yes--who ?" He was staring into space and thinking aloud. "She can't be beautiful or too young. It must be a woman whose inner beauty lies very deep, or it wouldn't be a true test."
     "Let's not make her too old," I suggested.
     "She must be quite plain, and yet--with a promise." He hadn't heard me. "Someone like--I've got it! Of course, why didn't I think of her before."
     "Who? Who ?" I sounded like an owl.
     He smiled the bad news. "Miss Simpson, our tweedy librarian."
     "You read the book?"
     "Yes, but..."
     ''Simply follow the instructions," he answered conclusively.
     I thought it over for a moment. He offered no further suggestions. If I wanted the book, and I did, it was up to me. I walked hesitantly to her desk. "Miss Simpson..."
     "Yes?" She looked up. "Oh, it's you, Mr. Tobey, did you find a book you want?"
     "Yes...I mean, no," I quickly corrected myself.
     She removed her glasses and smiled, "Well, Mr. Tobey--did you or didn't you?"
     "Yes, I found a book, but it doesn't belong to the library. Mr. Stone gave it to me."
     "Mr. Stone is very generous." She swept a smile in his general direction, then turned to face me again. "Is there anything else, Mr. Tobey?"
     "Miss Simpson..." How in hell do I start, I wondered. "Miss Simpson, it's nearly time for dinner and I hate dining alone...I was wondering if perhaps...you might care to join me?"
     "Mr. Tobey !" She paused while I squirmed. "How thoughtful of you--be delighted."
     She went for her coat and I thought: I've cleared the first hurdle. Charlie Stone was smiling at me and he had his thumb and forefinger raised in the old You've got it made signal.
     We had walked down the wide steps and onto the sidewalk before she spoke. "Mr. Tobey."
     "Bill's easier.
     "Oh, thank you. Mine's Darlene. Ah...Bill, I've always been considered quite a cook and I have a couple of king-sized steaks at my place--if you'd rather..."
     "I'd love to. I don't often get a chance to have a good home broiled steak." I spoke quickly, afraid she might change her mind.
     Her apartment was neat and in good order, as a librarian's apartment should be. The large living room had a massive sofa covered with cushions, and she had a small portable bar, which surprised me. She made a damn good martini, which surprised me even more. I made myself comfortable on the sofa and nursed my drink while she busied herself in the kitchen.
     "If you'd care for another drink, help yourself. I won't be long." Her voice was mingled with kitchen noises.
     I did. Twice I made trips to the bar before dinner.
     Dinner was excellent. The steaks were rare and the French dressing on the salad was wonderful. We finished with strong black coffee laced with brandy.
     "Darlene, that was marvelous."
     "Thank you. Now, if you would like to browse through my library, such as it is, I'll clean up."
     I walked over to the massive shelves that covered one end of the room and began to read the titles on book jackets. She had both copies of Kinsey! I took down The Sexual Behavior of the Female and carried it back to the couch.
     "My, you look comfortable."
     I looked up, startled, for I had been deeply engrossed in Kinsey. "And you, too!" She had tidied up more than the kitchen.
     She smiled and reached for my empty glass. "May I?"
     "Thanks, I could use another one." I watched her closely as she mixed the drinks. She didn't look half bad in lounging pajamas. With her hair loose like that she looked very feminine. The tweedy librarian had completely disappeared and in her place was a rather attractive and very well formed woman.
     "May I join you?" She stood in front of me with the two drinks.
     "Why sure." I pushed a few of the cushions back and made room.
     She picked up the book I had laid down. "Oh, you were reading Kinsey. Do you find him interesting? It's rather stimulating for me to hear what a male thinks of Kinsey's report on the weaker...sex."
     "He is indeed interesting." I downed the martini. "But regarding his facts and figures, I find it rather difficult to believe the average woman can be so..."
     "Sensuous ?"
     "Ah...yes, I guess that's the word."
     "I see." She smiled and sipped at her drink.
     I felt vaguely uncomfortable and, forgetting it was empty, raised my glass to my lips.
     She laughed and nodded toward the bar. "Help yourself."
     I mixed myself a double and returned to the sofa. She was busy reading the book. The book which in order to own I had promised to prove myself with this librarian.
     "Say, this is good. This Consummation of Sex thing. Have you read it?"
     "I've browsed through it," I admitted.
     "This part here...," she leaned against me and pointed to the part--Harem Girls in Training.
     "Do you think this training could make a girl more acceptable to men?" she asked.
     "Yes...it worked then...I don't see why it shouldn't..."
     "M-m-m." She smiled, stood up and slowly walked toward the light switch.
That night we began. Her capacity for learning astounded me. We started from chapter one and managed successfully, with much experimenting, to bring it to a complete and satisfactory close. And the next night--and the next--and after six consecutive nights and six consecutive chapters, I found that although the mind is willing, the body--no. But--.
     "But Bill! This is the most interesting part of the whole book. It's the chapter on 169 different ways..."
     "I know, Darlene, I know. But, surely you can see that it's impossible for me to carry on...
     "Darlene, I'm sorry but I'm finished, completely finished. I don't think I'll ever be able to...
     "Oh Bill! You're sure? I mean positively sure
     I smiled wanly, "I'm sure."
     "Oh goodness, now you'll have to help me get a new member."
     "A new member ?"
     "Yes, tomorrow you'll come to the library and sit at the table where you met Charlie Stone...and wait with my book..."
     "'Your book? I thought it belonged to Stone."
     "No, no," she laughed. "It's my book. And, as I say, you'll wait at the table till I send over a virile looking young man, then you'll speak to him exactly as Charlie spoke to you."
     "Then I'll have a new member for what I like to call--my book club."

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