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By Tania Grossinger, Andrew Neiderman
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1980 Tania Grossinger and Andrew Neiderman
All rights reserved.
Sandi Golden moved slowly around the corner of the stucco white building that served as housing for the chambermaids and stopped just in front of a lighted window. Once before, walking around the great lawn between the main building of the Congress and the "old farmhouse" where she lived, she had accidentally looked through the window and spotted the naked buttocks of a man. At first she was stunned, then she found the sight exciting.
Growing up on the grounds of one of the Catskill's largest resorts, she had come to realize at a very early age that pleasure of any sort was a commodity, whether it be food, entertainment or sex. Her parents had made valiant efforts to shield her from the all-pervasive hedonism but it was almost impossible, especially during the hot summer months when it seemed almost everything was permissible.
She leaned over until she was just able to look past the sill. Not more than ten minutes before, she had seen Caesar Jiminez, a plumber, escort Margret Thomas, a chambermaid, through the shadows between the laundry and the staff dormitory. It was his naked buttocks she had seen the first time and ever since that night she had made it her business to listen in to whatever chambermaids' gossip she could. They called him "Superman" after a well-known stud in Havana, bragged about his staying power, and compared the length of his "thing" to that of a baseball bat. One maid even boasted that he did it to her twenty times in a row without ever getting soft, whatever that meant.
For all her so-called sophistication, living in an atmosphere where people used four-letter words as casually as "please" and "thank you," she actually knew very little about the mechanics of sex. She knew, of course, there was something called "the missionary position," and something else people referred to as "69," but just how it all worked, she wasn't sure.
She had never really been able to talk to her father about adult man-woman relationships. It was a topic he continually put off, calling her his "Little Princess" and promising there would be time enough when she was older. But now he was gone and if his death had done anything, it had forced her mother to work so hard there was hardly any time left for them to talk about anything.
Actually, they rarely even saw much of each other these days. Ellen Golden was so preoccupied with learning to run the hotel that her customary conversations with Sandi usually consisted of one word, "later." Not that she ever doubted her mother loved her ... through the years they had usually had a good, albeit lately awkward, relationship, and Sandi supposed that throwing herself into work was her mother's way of getting over Phil's death. But at the same time, it was a hell of a spot for a thirteen-year-old kid to be in.
At first, Sandi stood on her tiptoes but could see no one in the room. Then she heard the bedsprings. She pulled herself back as Margret walked to the dresser and looked into the mirror. She wore only a half slip and bra. For a few moments, she stood there combing out her hair. She had gigantic breasts that sagged against the cups of her undergarment and strained the straps so forcefully they pressed into her skin and formed ridges alongside.
Sandi estimated Margret to be a woman in her forties. She was a big-boned Scandinavian with wide hips and heavy upper legs. A line of dark blond hair ran down her spine, disappearing into nothingness at the base. There were many small red blotches, mainly from the heat, along her back and shoulders. Her belly was slightly puffed out and clearly visible. She took a deep breath and pulled it in.
"Getting pretty for me, eh?" Caesar said. Margret pretended not to hear as she continued to comb her hair.
"Damn dust. You'd think by now they'd have all the rooms air-conditioned so we could keep the windows closed. It gets so dirty I have to wash my hair every day."
Sandi wanted to lean further over and look for Caesar, but was afraid of being spotted. Suddenly he appeared, naked from the waist down. She caught just a slight glimpse of his erection peeking up and out from between his legs. He pressed himself against Margret, moving his waist in a rhythmic circle.
"You'll poke a hole right through my slip with that drill of yours."
He laughed, then backed up to unfasten her bra. She kept on playing with her hair as if none of what he was doing really affected her. The moment the hook unfastened, the front of the bra gave way, her breasts heaving forward to her obvious relief. Caesar reached around and cupped them, their nipples protruding between his fingers.
"Feels good, eh?"
Her moan was barely audible. Sandi felt her own breasts tingle as she imagined a man's hairy hands sliding over them.
"How do you want it? Like the last time?"
"Only one way?" She pretended great disappointment and he laughed. He stepped back and released her, swirling her roughly toward the bed. As he spun around and faced the window, his swollen member was clearly visible. It came as quite a shock to Sandi. She had never seen an erect penis before and suddenly there it was, only a few feet away, like an overblown giant purple sausage standing up and waving back and forth, almost as if in greeting. Funny, she always thought when there was an erection it was supposed to go out, not up.
Caesar went back to the bed as Margret slipped out of her slip and did a pirouette, holding it up much like a bullfighter holds his cape. Caesar growled, took the hem between his teeth, and pulled it away. Suddenly Margret disappeared from view.
Damn! Kneeling down, Sandi crawled to the other side. When she peered in this time, she was looking directly at the bed.
Another surprise. Instead of Caesar lying on top of her, which is how Sandi thought people did "it," Margret was straddling Caesar's legs, almost sitting against them. She leaned back and braced herself with her hands on the bed as he reached up and massaged her breasts, first with his hands, then with his tongue, first one, then the other. Quickly Margret began to move, up and down, to the left and to the right. Caesar's hand went between her legs, rubbing in rhythm with her movements. She began to moan her appreciation.
Sandi felt her mouth water and her heartbeat increase rapidly. There was a warmth in her crotch, followed quickly by a wetness. She backed away from the sight, frightened by the effect it was having on her body. Her breathing had become even more labored. Margret's voice grew louder but Sandi was afraid to look back. She took a step away, then another and another. Soon she was running across the grass, forcing herself to move quickly because the effort helped subdue the sensations screaming for attention in every nerve.
Finally, she stopped at a bench near the rock garden and tried to catch her breath. The images of what she had just seen continued to flash through her mind. The bright lights of a car coming through the main gate washed over and startled her for a moment. It was as if she feared being caught alone in the dark, standing there reliving all of those forbidden acts. She looked at her watch. It was 11:15.
There didn't seem to be much point in going home. Chances were her mother was still at work. The sound of voices in the dark drove her back to the main building where, still shaking, she snuck into the rear of the Flamingo Room. Cloaked in the dimness of the intimate night club, she looked up at the stage where Bobby Grant was crooning a love ballad. The flickering multi-colored spotlights distorted the shadows around the tables. Everywhere there seemed to be tapered fingers — reaching, touching, groping for each other. The young singer moved his body rhythmically to the beat of the drum. Sandi studied his hips and fantasized what it would be like to straddle him the way Margret Thomas had straddled Caesar. Looking around to make sure she was unseen, she let her legs part a tiny bit and moved her fingers along her thighs. Touching herself tenderly, she finally gave in to the uncontrollable ecstasy as Bobby Grant continued to croon, completely unaware of what was happening in the dark.
"Dr. Bronstein, can you hold please. I have Mr. Lawrence on the line."
"It's about time," he said, immediately regretting his tone. He was standing in the corridor near the emergency room of the Community General Hospital. Some interns and nurses were carrying on a conversation at the nurses' station and the emergency room doctor stood by a patient strapped down to a rolling bed. Bronstein looked behind himself instinctively. No one appeared to be paying him the slightest attention. Even so, he huddled closer to the phone.
"Doc? Sorry it took so long for me to return your call. It's been a bitch of a day."
"For all of us." Bronstein gazed up at the IBM wall clock and noted he was an hour late for dinner. "Look, Jonathan, I can't talk to you from here. We've got a major problem. Can you meet me at my office in fifteen minutes?"
"It's going to be hard. You won't believe what's going on up here. I've got a million things to do before the weekend. Can you come over to the hotel instead?"
"Impossible," the doctor said. "My office, fifteen minutes." He hung up abruptly and started down the hall.
The general manager was waiting in front of the doctor's office when he arrived a quarter of an hour later. "I only have a short time so you better make it fast," he said. "It's like a madhouse up there, trying to get everything ready for tomorrow's mass incursion."
Jonathan stood a good inch and a half shorter than the M.D. but his stiff appearance made him seem almost taller and stronger. The wind wouldn't dare muss a hair of his prematurely gray trim. The knot in his tie was always just right, the crease in his pants too perfect. He never removed his jacket, indoors or out. It was rumored he ironed his shorts.
He was a muscular well-proportioned man with hard sharp features that all too well reflected his abrupt personality. In dealing with people he maintained an arrogant coolness that usually annoyed subordinates and increasingly bothered guests, especially the old-timers used to the warm familylike atmosphere the Goldens had established at the Congress over the past fifty years. It was difficult to pry personal facts from him, not that many were tempted to try. His tight-lipped businesslike approach was ascribed by some as a side effect of a proper New England upbringing. Others considered his snobbishness downright anti-Semitic, an irony not lost on his colleagues at one of the Catskills' largest "Borscht Belt" hotels.
"Are you aware that your personnel director sent a man named Tony Wong down here an hour ago and I've had to have him hospitalized?" Bronstein walked into his office and offered Jonathan a seat.
"Wong. One of your custodial people. He works in the kitchen."
"Is that what you brought me down here to ..."
Sid had wanted to build up to it dramatically, to explain his theory step by step, but it was obvious the general manager was in no mood to mince words.
"I'm almost certain Wong has cholera," he blurted out. For a moment he felt relieved. He wouldn't have to carry the burden alone. He looked expectantly at the manager, hoping for a reaction that indicated he might be as horrified as the doctor.
Jonathan sat like a sphinx. It was as if he had just heard that a file clerk had stubbed her toe. "You're crazy," he said evenly. "Cholera went out with the Middle Ages ... or at least it doesn't happen here. It's not an American disease."
"That doesn't mean it can't be brought in," Bronstein explained. "You know as well as I that a lot of summer transients hired for menial labor come from employment agencies in Chinatown that send up illegal aliens. Usually they've been smuggled in from the Far East on cargo ships where the living conditions are anything but sanitary. Any one of them can be a carrier. We really have no time to waste."
"What makes you so sure that's what it is?"
"I'm almost positive that what I saw under the dark field microscope were cholera vibrios. I've seen them before when I was stationed in the Philippines. He also has all the superficial symptoms, intense diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, pain and thirst."
"What complicates the matter in Tony's case is that sunken eyes, wrinkled skin and certain other facial characteristics symptomatic of the disease are also common among elderly Asiatics. It's possible, but doubtful, he just might have severe food poisoning or bacillary dysentery. I can't make a positive diagnosis without a specific antiserum."
"A drop of serum from a rabbit that has been immunized specifically against cholera. If he were in better shape, I'd rush him to a New York hospital by ambulance, but as things stand now, I'm afraid to risk it. And it'll be a couple of days at least before I can get the necessary diagnostic material delivered."
"I presume you didn't discuss this with anyone at the hospital."
"No. I had him admitted with a preliminary diagnosis of intestinal infection. I didn't see any point in creating a turmoil until something was actually confirmed."
"Which it may never be."
"Which I hope it will never be," Sid said. "But it's vital you understand the significance of what I'm saying. Cholera is dangerous. It kills. And because of this there are certain precautions that should be taken. If it's what Tony really has, an epidemic could break out at any time and God only knows how many people could be affected."
Jonathan calmly took out his pipe and scooped some tobacco from his leather pouch. "You're dealing in 'ifs' and 'maybes.' I'm trained to deal in facts, the bottom line. Why don't we wait until we have a definite diagnosis?"
"I'm not sure we can afford to be so casual. By rights, I should have already reported my suspicions to the health authorities, but because I'm the hotel physician I thought I'd give you the courtesy of —"
Jonathan interrupted him angrily "Let me tell you how I see it, Bronstein. We're booked solid, capacity, the first time this year. You know how many weeks we had less than two hundred people in that place. I don't have to describe the ugly financial situation the Congress is in. You're not an outsider." His face reddened as he became more excited.
"A rumor about something like cholera could not only destroy our season, but possibly our entire future. Can you imagine anyone wanting to come up to the Congress if they heard that someone on the staff came down with a deadly communicable disease ... even if it wasn't true?"
"It might not be a rumor."
"And it might not be a fact." He shook his head. "Listen," he continued, "you admit it could be something else. There is that possibility."
"Yes," Sid said, "I think it's remote, but there is that possibility."
"Then let's take it one step at a time. There's no point in going to the authorities until you know for sure. There're two things you've got to remember. First, if you told them you thought one of our janitors had cholera and you were wrong, you'd be the laughing stock of the profession up here. Second, forget about the Congress for a moment. Look at the bigger picture. If word of a public health investigation got out before it was really necessary, you'd devastate the reputation of the whole resort area for years to come. Do you realize that just about every person living in Sullivan County, including yourself, is in some way dependent on the hotel industry? Organized labor, other employees, the suppliers, supportive services, the professions, banks, the construction industry? Look at the mortgage note your father-in-law holds on the Congress. What do you think would happen to his investment if the place went under?" Jonathan paused to let his words sink in. At the same time a picture of Sylvia's angry face flashed through the doctor's mind. "It was as if you were putting a gun to these people's heads and pulling the trigger."
Excerpted from Weekend by Tania Grossinger, Andrew Neiderman. Copyright © 1980 Tania Grossinger and Andrew Neiderman. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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