Authors: Edwin West
Brother and Sister
By Edwin West (aka Donald E. Westlake)
Monarch Books, 1961
It all began innocently enough
two people, brother and sister, drawn together by the tragic death of their parents. It was Paul and Angie against the cruel, unfeeling world
against the army which he blamed for his marriage to a prostitute.
Somehow, when he kissed Angie
just for comfort
he was erasing the image of faithless Ingrid, of the uncertainty of the future.
It was that kiss
innocent but exciting
which touched off the wellsprings of passion within them until they were like people possessed
heedless of taboos or consequences...
The horrible guilt came later, after the damage was done, after it was too late to turn back.
After the movie, they drove up to Flattop to neck. Bob had his father’s car, a three year-old Plymouth, and they had all the time in the world. It was Saturday night, for one thing, and Bob, at eighteen, no longer had any curfew imposed on him. Angie was seventeen, and would normally have had a one a.m. curfew, but not tonight.
Tonight, her parents were in Baltimore, visiting Uncle Jules and Aunt Laura. They had left that afternoon, driving, and would be there until next Sunday. This one-week visit to Baltimore was an annual July event and this was the first year Angie hadn’t gone along. She had just graduated from high school, was looking for a job, and that had been her excuse for not going. The truth of the matter was that the Baltimore trip had bored her for years.
Necking didn’t bore her. She liked to neck, to snuggle close to Bob
to be kissed and touched by him. Of course certain areas were off limits to his hands, even though she was sorely tempted at times. Tempted or not, she always managed to keep Bob in check.
They’d had a few stormy sessions when they’d first started going together, until Bob finally got it through his head that Angie was serious about this
that her convictions on the subject were deeper than
Mama says no
that they were so deeply ingrained she didn’t have to think about them and so couldn’t be argued out of them. There was a definite line between what was permissible and what was forbidden.
Bob was very much aware of the line, and of the certainty that he’d have a furious wildcat on his hands if he tried to cross it; He suffered in silence, being too embarrassed about the whole thing to explain to Angie that sexual frustration in the male is not all mental, that it is also physical, and that it
They drove up to Flattop tonight after the movie, and Angie looked out the side window at the woods and the occasional new ranch-style houses bordering the blacktop road up the mountain. She thought again, as she had been thinking on these occasions for the past few weeks, that life was becoming repetitious and dull.
Even tonight was a repeat performance. Bob had picked her up at seven o’clock, the invariable hour, and they had driven downtown and seen the movie of his choice. As movies went, it wasn’t bad; there had been some nice songs
and some funny lines in it. After the movie, they trailed out with all the rest of the people, slowly trudging up the aisle
that part always reminded her of church
and outside, where she became aware of the air-conditioning for the first time, because of its absence here on the sidewalk.+
As always, she had paused on the sidewalk, just
beyond the movie marquee, to look up at the sky, marveling at how far away and how black it was, and how sharp the stars looked, as though you could cut yourself on them. How different it looked. Since they had gone into the theater, the red-gray tinge of evening had disappeared
night had settled in its place.
They had walked together down the block to the Plymouth
purple and cream in color, with fins and four eyes and, almost as an afterthought, a six-cylinder engine
and Bob held the right-hand door open while Angie slid into the front seat. Then he had walked around the front of the car
always the front of the car, never the back
and she had looked at his young serious face through the windshield.
After he got behind the wheel, she watched him make the slow methodical movements of starting the car. First, the key carefully inserted into the ignition. Second, the left hand reaching out, touching the gear buttons to see that the car was in neutral. Third, the right foot gently on the accelerator. Fourth, the key turned in the ignition and the foot pressed down on the accelerator, causing the car to roar discreetly. Fifth, the right hand moving from key to steering wheel while the left hand pressed the drive button, then went down to the emergency brake. Sixth, the left hand moving up to the steering wheel as the car pulled away from the curb. And seventh, his right hand leaving the steering wheel, the arm reaching out to the side for her to come in and nestle against him.
Then they drove, as usual, up to Flattop. On the way, Angie, nestling against Bob’s side, gazed out the side window and reflected again on the sameness of life. Why did life have to be like that? Why did Bob’s face have to be so well known to her that she no longer cared if it was handsome or ugly? Why did his every move have to be so well known to her that she could predict his actions for an hour or a day or a week or a year in advance?
Why was there nothing
Well, there was one thing different this time. There was no one at home. Her parents had gone to Baltimore, and she was still here, that was different. With her brother Paul off in Germany in the Air Force, and her parents away in Baltimore, she was, for the first time in her life, alone in the house. That, at least, was different.
But nothing else was. They reached the top
the plateau called Flattop
where a view of the whole city was spread out before them
that lesser-lighted section away to the left was the suburb where Angie lived. There was the usual number of darkened automobiles scattered here and there in the parking area by the edge. The Plymouth nosed around and found a quiet place for itself among them, not too close to any of them. And the sameness closed in again.
Bob went through all the careful motions of turning the car off and the radio on. They listened to the soft music from the radio station they
listened to, and they talked about the movie.
At seventeen, Angie’s child-body had developed into lovely womanhood, but her face was still very much that of a child. It was a soft, heart-shaped face, the eyes young and eager, bright with innocence, the mouth rosy and warm, the cheeks clear and soft. It was a beautiful face, with the true beauty of untouched yourh, requiring no artificial cosmetics to glamorize it. Framed by the curling ringlets of blond hair, she had the fresh healthy beauty of every young man’s dream of the girl he would most like to take to the Junior Prom.
The body that went with the face was something else again. It was a yourhful body, the breasts firm and the legs strong, but it wasn’t childlike. Angie had a woman’s body, high-breasted, narrow-waisted and full-hipped
of late, a body strangely insistent in its emotional demands. At seventeen, Angie was discovering that it was impossible to remain a child.
Looking at Bob in the dim light of the dashboard radio, she thought now that he was, in many ways, more of a child than she. He had the impetuosity of a child, and the child’s peculiar blindness to the thoughts and reactions of those about him.
His appearance was misleading. He wore his hair in a crew cut, which typed him right away. Beneath the crew cut, his face was a series of sharply defined angles between straight, thick eyebrows and a pronounced jawline. His cheekbones were prominent, his nose straight, his mouth broad and parenthesized with light smile lines. His hands were a man’s hands, hard and large and knobby. His body was rangy, wide-shouldered and flat-bellied.
If she was a woman with a child’s face, he was a child in a man’s body.
He wants to marry me,
she thought to herself as they talked quietly about the movie.
He keeps asking me, and sooner or later I’m going to have to say either yes or no. And I don’t even know if I love him. I know him too well. He’s more of a brother to me than Paul is, but I no longer know if I love him.
At the predictable moment, his arm tightened around her shoulders and drew her around to him
for a kiss.
The first kiss was always short and gentle, their lips and eyes closed, his right arm around her shoulder, his left hand against her waist. This sameness she could stand, this was all right. She liked to be kissed. She liked to be held. She liked to be touched. The sameness of those things never palled on her.
But they stayed there longer than usual, because Angie had no curfew tonight. They necked, and then they smoked cigarettes, and then they necked again, and Bob stroked her breasts, kissed her lips, cheeks and the line of her jaw, nibbling on her ear lobes, until she felt the familiar warmth, the familiar pleasure, growing in her.
Because they stayed there longer than usual, the warmth built higher than it ever had before. And with the warmth grew something else. The need for difference, the need for something new, for a change, for a decision and a new beginning.
She had gone steady with Bob for two years now. When they had first started going together, he had been exciting to her. The touch of his lips and his hands had excited her because they were
and not simply because they were touching her. At that time, she had believed herself to be in love with him, and when he had asked her to marry him, in her junior year of high school, she had agreed at once, thrilled and expectant.
Of course, they
couldn’t get married right away. Of course, they both had to finish their educations first and Bob had to have a job. These were practical considerations that had to be fulfilled.
And, at first, it had been Bob who had been concerned with these practical considerations. But gradually his desire for her had changed him, had become stronger than his natural, methodical, careful personality, and for the last few months he had ignored all practical considerations. He wanted to marry Angie, and he wanted to do it
Nowadays, it was Angie who brought up the practical considerations, who refused to set a date for the marriage, who didn’t even want to talk about marriage any more.
Because Angie was no longer even sure she
to marry Bob.
But she couldn’t say no. She couldn’t tell him their plans had to be changed because she wasn’t
She no longer knew what she wanted, except that she was growing increasingly certain that one thing she didn’t want was this constant repetition of activity.
Tonight the two feelings reached their peak. The aching desire and need for something new, for something different, for some break in the pattern of her days; and the growing desire for fulfillment, for an end to this play at sex, for an end to virginity, for the logical, necessary and natural finish their hot embraces demanded.
And then Bob whispered, “Let me go home with you tonight, Angie.”
She stiffened. “What?”
“Angie, there’s nobody home at your house. Let me go home with you.” His voice was soft and insistent in her ear, his hands were stroking her body, his breath was hot against her.
“Angie, I can’t wait any more, I can’t. We’re going to get married soon. It’s all right.”
“Bob, don’t talk that way!”
His hands held her more strongly, more insistently. “Angie, I can’t go through this any more. I want you so bad. I love you, Angie. I love you so much I can’t stand it. I want you and I want to make love with you. I can’t wait any more.”
All at once Angie’s mind screamed,
This was the thing to do, this was the thing she’d been wanting, this was what had made her days so dull
this lack within herself, this final need for fulfillment.
“Angie, I want you now.”
She moved closer against him, nuzzling his cheek. She was frightened, but at the same time she was eager and triumphant, because this was the escape, this was the opening door.
“Yes,” she whispered, and then she was afraid he hadn’t heard her. She raised her face to him, seeing his tense and waiting expression, and she smiled and said it again.
“Yes, Bob. All right.”
He kissed her then, more furiously and more urgently than she had ever been kissed, and she responded to his tempo, pressing herself tight against him. This was the final move, the end of indecision, the end of aching.
Driving back down the long blacktop road from Flattop, she sat snuggled close to his side. And this time she didn’t look out the window at the familiar roadside. This time, she closed her eyes, feeling the motion of the car and the warm male strength of Bob beside her.
Bob was usually a careful driver, perhaps an overly careful driver, keeping well within the speed limit. But not tonight. Tonight he drove faster than he had ever done before, sneaking through traffic lights just as they were turning red, making turns without slackening speed, and all the time he kept his right arm hard around her.
They skirted the northern part of the city and so reached Thornbridge, the suburb in which they both lived. Thornbridge was no postwar suburb of shopping centers and ranch-style houses. Thornbridge had been a residential section just outside the city limits for more than fifty years. It was a complete town in itself, though most of the people who lived there did drive in to the city to work.
On the drive, Angie had time to cool down, time to think. And her thoughts were many and confused.