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When a girl goes trysting and leaves her lingerie behind, woe betide the innocent fellow whose wife finds it!

"The Mislaid Brassiere"

by Arthur Shirley



Vol. 3, No. 1,  1959

    THE CABANA COURT shimmered in the moonlight. The minarets of the Turkish-style cabanas looked out over the dunes like bored sentinels. About 50 yards from the purple and pink bathing mosques, the frothy ocean tongue licked its lips at the beach and then settled silently in the mouth of the cove which sheltered it.
    Daylight would bring droves of thirtyish women, their lumpy flesh crowded into too brief beachwear, their thickly carmined lips sloppily pinned together by limp, filtered cigarettes. With them would be the children--the whining, runny-nosed, leaky-eyed, drooly-mouthed bratlings who daily transform the virgin sand into a scarred field of trick holes and ankle-trapping tunnels.
    Like so many mindless slugs they would crawl from their holes to gorge themselves on sunshine--but that would be tomorrow. Tonight only the heatless moon looked down on the quiet seaside. It scuttered behind an immodestly gauzy cloud as the sound of muted human voices gently pushed back the silence.
The voices came from Cabana C 14. "Oh, I know it's wrong"--the whispered regret floated on the salt-heavy air "but the only time I feel really alive, really like a person instead of a juvenile doormat, is when I'm in your arms like this." Her voice was young and husky with the sweet lilt of discovered sex.
    "I know what you mean. It's like everything sort of closes in on you at once; the nagging folks and the sarcastic teachers and the yelling people who say they're so adult and make more commotion than all us kids. Like this, here, making love so simple and all, at least we both know that somebody else cares." His speech was slow and controlled, the tone very deep as though he was afraid to let it come up an octave lest his voice crack.
    They were silent momentarily, letting the thought spread over their minds and then sink beneath the pleasant memory of recent passion. The girl stirred. "We should really be going."
    "Yeah, I guess we should.''
    They got up and the boy pulled on blue jeans and a terrycloth shirt. The girl slipped into a pair of utilitarian cotton panties and pulled a flair skirt tight at her waist. Her fingers groped over the linoleum floor and located a wispy summer blouse. Her fingers swept the floor again, but--
    "I can't find my bra," she told him.
    "Must be here some place."
    She got on her knees and crawled over the cabana floor to search. Finally, her voice annoyed, she said, "I can't find it any place."
    "Here, let me look."
    After a quarter-hour of unsuccessful hunting, they gave up. They lay down on their backs and slid under the raised door of the cabana. Then they joined hands and went running down the beach. The girl's unconfined breasts bobbled large and healthy beneath the revealing blouse.
    The next day was Saturday. It sweated hell-like 'neath the sun. The flabby young matrons and hornless imps were joined by their pallid men folk. The sand was dotted with the swell of executive bellies and hirsute, heavy-veined limbs. The cabana boys ran back and forth, deftly balancing Martini-laden trays.
    One lad slid to a halt in front of C 14. He deposited two filled goblets on a table. A feminine hand tipped with peeling nail polish grasped one, a hairy-knuckled, masculine hand raised the other.
    "Ah, that hits the spot," said Mr. Bannerman.
    "Umm," agreed Mrs. Bannerman.
    "What's the kid doing?" asked Mr. Bannerman.
    Mrs. Bannerman ground her pudgy buttocks up higher on the chaise lounge, shaded her eyes with her hand and peered out over the cabana court. She picked her son's dirty neck out from among its contemporaries. He was methodically kicking sand over a plate of sandwiches resting on a blanket alongside a couple sunning themselves. The man on the blanket felt behind him to pick up one of the sandwiches. He bit into it and immediately began spitting furiously. The Bannerman offspring walked around in front of him and watched.
    "He's playing." Mrs. Bannerman answered and settled back.
    There was silence for awhile and then Mrs. Bannerman turned to look at her husband. "Now," she said, "isn't it better to come down here and relax in the sun and enjoy the beach instead of racing down at night."
    "Sure it is," answered Mr. Bannerman, "but I can't get down here every day the way you do. I take a twilight swim to relax. Why do you object?"
    "You'll catch your death of cold. And besides, even if we have been married ten years, I don't want our marriage to get to be one of those where we do things separately."
    "You could come with me."
    "And who'd look after Timmy?"
    "Umm. Well, I'm not gone long."
    "You're away from me all day and I don't see why we shouldn't at least spend our evenings together."
    "Guess you're right."
    "Sometimes I get the feeling that you take me too much for granted."
    "Oh, come on now." Mr. Bannerman was tired of the discussion.
    "No, really. Joe Harper was indifferent to Carol just like you are to me and look at him now."
    "He looks the same as always."
    "You know what I mean. Every body knows he chases around with all kinds of women."
    "Well," Mr. Bannerman tried to keep it light. "Variety's the spice."
    "There! That's exactly what I mean. You say it like you're kidding, but I know you really mean it!"
    "Oh, for Pete's sake."
    "How do I know you don't have a--a mistress or something?"
    "I've got six of 'em, all living in lavish apartments, all wearing mink."
    "Will you be serious!"
    "How can I be when you're talking like such an idiot?"
    "An idiot. Yes, that's what you really think I am. I know. You think I'm blind and that it would be easy to pull the wool over my eyes and the worst of it is you're right. After all, how do I know you're faithful."
    Mr. Bannerman felt his temper rising. The weekend was his only chance to relax at the beach and his wife seemed determined to spoil it. "Look," he said, controlling his voice carefully. "Would you tell me just when I'm supposed to find the time for these clandestine affairs? I'm in the office all day--you call often enough to know that--and I'm with you at night and on the weekends."
    "Well how do I know if you really come down here to swim at night? How do I know you're not meeting some girl right here in the cabana and making love? Last night you were gone for almost three hours, from seven until ten. How do I know what you were really doing?"
    Mr. Bannerman's angry answer was one word--an earthy, pithy, highly descriptive epithet that his wife loathed. She leaped to her feet, red-faced and angry, and stalked in to the cabana.
    He sighed and settled back in the sun's glare. Her damned jealousy would drive him crazy. Or else it would drive him to give her some reason to be jealous. Mr. Bannerman wished he had more time, more initiative, more know-how. He was definitely beginning to feel that if his wife kept up this nonsense of accusing him of infidelities--and these past few years she seemed to have developed a fixation on the subject--he might as well indulge himself.
    There was quiet within the cabana. It lengthened into an ominous silence. Mr. Bannerman corkscrewed his body to look behind him.
    His wife stood in the doorway. Her face was white beneath her tan. Her eyes were alive with anger. Her mouth was half-opened, triggered to unleash a salvo of rage. In her hand she held a white brassiere.
    "So you were just swimming!" She opened fire.
    "Just a twilight swim--for two! How cozy!" She waved the brassiere under his nose.
    "Don't you play innocent with me, you fat Casanova!"
    "Now just a mi--"
    "Running down here every night to have your fun! Cheating! Lying! Making a fool out of me!"
    "I'm not making a fool out of you. You're making a fool out of yourself--just like you've been doing since the day we got married."
    "Is that so? Is that so?" She drew herself up haughtily. "It's not bad enough you cheat on me, you have to insult me too. Well, I'm not going to put up with it any more. I want a divorce!"
    Mr. Bannerman felt rather like a man who's been hit by a truck while sitting in his own backyard and, shaken up, but really unhurt, finds that he is being pressed to accept a generous settlement for the accident. "Divorce," his wife had said. His mind whirled with the thought of it. As he pondered it, the idea grew increasingly pleasant.
    He'd have to give up his son, of course. He gazed across the cabana court to where the little boy was unraveling a bathing suit that had been hung to dry. Obnoxious little hellion. With the feeling of setting down a great weight, he realized that not only didn't he like his son--a fact which he had long ago admitted to himself--but he didn't love him either. He felt not an iota of fatherly affection.
    Mr. Bannerman looked at his wife. Would he miss her? Hell, no! She was a nag. In marriage her figure had gone rapidly from petite to dumpy. She was a lousy cook. And in moments of intimacy she displayed all the imagination of a subway turn stile.
    "Divorce, eh," he said. "All right my dear, get a divorce. I think it's an excellent idea."
    Mrs. Bannerman burst into tears. She had expected arguments, excuses, protestations of innocence. She hadn't expected him to agree to a divorce. She turned on her heel and slammed into the cabana. Viciously, she threw the brassiere to the floor. She shucked off her bathing garb and began pulling on her clothes.
    Outside, Mr. Bannerman hummed to himself. It was the first time he'd done so in many years. Casually, he wondered where the silly brassiere had come from anyway .
    Darkness again. Starshine and silence. Then the whispers of a boy and a girl. Arms around each other's waists, trudging through the sand to wards Cabana C 14. Frequent pauses for impatient kisses. Then soft giggling as they lay flat and pulled themselves under the door of the cabana.
    The rustle of clothing being hurriedly discarded. The sound of quick breathing and the movement of bodies in passion. Then a sharp breaking of silence with the girl's flute-like cry of ecstasy.
    The soft conversation of adolescents who understand each other in a world where nobody else does. Finally the sad decision that the time had come to leave. And then the fumbling hunt for rapidly discarded clothing.
    "Hey," said the girl. "Look what I found." She held up the brassiere.
    "What do you know about that?"
    "Gee, it's funny nobody noticed it here during the day, lying right out on the floor like that."
    "Maybe they didn't come down to day."
    "Sure they did. Their bathing suits are still wet."
    "Well," said the boy, "I guess they just didn't notice it."
    "I guess so," said the girl. "Grown ups never notice anything."


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