Nothing Lasts Forever

Chapter Eight


Honey Taft had the bad fortune to have been born into a family of overachievers. Her handsome father was the founder and president of a large computer company in Memphis, Tennessee, her lovely mother was a genetic scientist, and Honey's older twin sisters were as attractive, as brainy, and as ambitious as their parents. The Tafts were among the most prominent families in Memphis.
Honey had inconveniently come along when her sisters were six years old.
"Honey was our little accident," her mother would tell their friends. "I wanted to have an abortion, but Fred was against it. Now he's sorry."
Where Honey's sisters were stunning, Honey was plain. Where they were brilliant, Honey was average.
Her sisters had started talking at nine months. Honey had not uttered a word until she was almost two.
"We call her 'the dummy,' " her father would laugh.
"Honey is the ugly duckling of the Taft family. Only I don't think she's going to turn into a swan."
It was not that Honey was ugly, but neither was she pretty. She was ordinary-looking, with a thin, pinched face, mousy blond hair, and an unenviable figure. What Honey did have was an extraordinarily sweet, sunny disposition, a quality not particularly prized in a family of competitive overachievers.
From the earliest time Honey could remember, her greatest desire was to please her parents and sisters and make them love her. It was a futile effort. Her parents were busy with their careers, and her sisters were busy winning beauty contests and scholarships. To add to Honey's misery, she was inordinately shy. Consciously or unconsciously, her family had implanted in her a feeling of deep inferiority.
In high school, Honey was known as the Wallflower. She attended school dances and parties by herself, and smiled and tried not to show how miserable she was, because she did not want to spoil anyone's fun. She would watch her sisters picked up at the house by the most popular boys at school, and then she would go up to her lonely room to struggle with her homework.
And try not to cry.
On weekends and during the summer holidays, Honey made pocket money by baby-sitting. She loved taking care of children, and the children adored her.
When Honey was not working, she would go off and explore Memphis by herself. She visited Graceland, where Elvis Presley had lived, and walked down Beale Street, where the blues started. She wandered through the Pink Palace Museum, and the Planetarium, with its roaring, stomping dinosaur. She went to the aquarium.
And Honey was always alone.
She was unaware that her life was about to change drastically.
Honey knew that many of her classmates were having love affairs. They discussed it constantly at school.
"Have you gone to bed with Ricky yet? He's the best... !"
"Joe is really into orgasms ..."
"I was out with Tony last night. I'm exhausted. What an animal! I'm seeing him again tonight ..."
Honey stood there listening to their conversations, and she was filled with a bittersweet envy, and a feeling that she would never know what sex was like. Who would want me? Honey wondered.
One Friday night, there was a school prom. Honey had no intention of going, but her father said, "You know, I'm concerned. Your sisters tell me that you're a wallflower, and that you're not going to the prom because you can't get a date."
Honey blushed. "That's not true," she said. "I do have a date, and I am going." Don't let him ask who my date is, Honey prayed.
He didn't.
Now Honey found herself at the prom, seated in her usual corner, watching the others dancing and having a wonderful time.
And that was when the miracle occurred.
Roger Merton, the captain of the football team and the most popular boy at school, was on the dance floor, having a fight with his girlfriend. He had been drinking. "You're a no-good, selfish bastard!" she said. "And you're a dumb bitch!" "You can go screw yourself." "I don't have to screw myself, Sally. I can screw somebody else. Anyone I want to."
"Go ahead!" She stormed off the dance floor. Honey could not help but overhear. Merton saw her looking at him. "What the hell are you staring at?" He was slurring his words. "Nothing," Honey said.
"I'll show the bitch! You think I won't show her?" "I ... yes."
"Damn right. Let's have a li'l drink." Honey hesitated. Merton was obviously drunk. "Well, I don't ..."
"Great. I have a bottle in the car." "I really don't think I ..." And he had Honey's arm and was steering her out of the room. She went along because she did not want to make a scene and embarrass him.
Outside, Honey tried to pull away. "Roger, I don't think this is a good idea. I ..." "What the hell are you - chicken?" "No, I ..." "Okay, then. Come on."
He led her to his car and opened the door. Honey stood there a moment. "Get in."
"I can only stay a moment," Honey said.
She got in the car because she did not want to upset Roger. He climbed in beside her.
"We're going to show that dumb broad, aren't we?" He held out a bottle of bourbon. "Here."
Honey had had only one drink of alcohol before and she had hated it. But she did not want to hurt Roger's feelings. She looked at him and reluctantly took a small sip.
"You're okay," he said. "You're new at school, huh?"
Honey was in three of his classes. "No," Honey said. "I ..."
He leaned over and began to play with her breasts.
Startled, Honey pulled away.
"Hey! Come on. Don't you want to please me?" he said.
And that was the magic phrase. Honey wanted to please everybody, and if this was the way to do it ...
In the uncomfortable backseat of Merton's car, Honey had sex for the first time, and it opened an incredible new world to her. She did not particularly enjoy the sex, but that was not important. The important thing was that Merton enjoyed it. In fact, Honey was amazed by how much he enjoyed it. It seemed to make him ecstatic. She had never seen anyone enjoy anything so much. So this is how to please a man, Honey thought.
It was an epiphany.
Honey was unable to get the miracle of what had occurred out of her mind. She lay in bed, remembering Merton's hard maleness inside her, thrusting faster and
faster, and then his moans, "Oh, yes, yes, you're fantastic, Sally ..."
And Honey had not even minded that. She had pleased the captain of the football team! The most popular boy in school! And I really didn't even know what I was doing, Honey thought. I'll truly learned how to please a man ...
And that was when Honey had her second epiphany.
The following morning, Honey went to the Pleasure Chest, a porno bookstore on Poplar Street, and bought half a dozen books on eroticism. She smuggled them home and read them in the privacy of her room. She was astounded by what she was reading.
She raced through the pages of The Perfumed Garden and the Kama Sutra, the Tibetan Arts of Love, the Alchemy of Ecstasy, and then went back for more. She read the words of Gedun Chopel and the arcane accounts by Kanchinatha.
She studied the exciting photographs of the thirty-seven positions of lovemaking, and she learned the meaning of the Half Moon and the Circle, the Lotus Petal, and the Pieces of Cloud, and the way of churning.
Honey became an expert on the eight types of oral sex, and the paths of the sixteen pleasures, and the ecstasy of the string of marbles. She knew how to teach a man to perform karuna, to intensify his pleasure. In theory, at least.
Honey felt she was now ready to put her knowledge into practice.
The Kama Sutra had several chapters on aphrodisiacs to arouse a man, but since Honey had no idea where she could obtain Hedysarum gangeticum, the kshirika plant, or the Xanthochymus pictorius, she figured out her own substitutes.
When Honey saw Roger Merton in class the following week, she walked up to him and said, "I really enjoyed the other night. Can we do it again?"
It took him a moment to remember who Honey was. "Oh. Sure. Why not? My folks are out tonight. Why don't you come by about eight o'clock?"
When Honey arrived at Merton's house that night, she had a small jar of maple syrup with her.
"What's that for?" Merton asked.
"I'm going to show you," Honey said.
She showed him.
The next day, Merton was telling his buddies at school about Honey.
"She's incredible," he said. "You wouldn't believe what she can do with a little warm syrup!"
That afternoon, half a dozen boys were asking Honey for dates. From that time on, she started going out every night. The boys were very happy, and that made Honey very happy.
Honey's parents were delighted by their daughter's sudden popularity.
"It took our girl a little while to bloom," her father said proudly, "but now she's turned into a real Taft!"
Honey had always had poor grades in mathematics, and she knew she had failed badly on her final test. Her mathematics teacher, Mr. Janson, was a bachelor and lived near the school. Honey paid him a visit one evening. He opened the door and looked at her in surprise.
"Honey! What are you doing here?"
"I need your help," Honey said. "My father will kill me if I fail your course. I brought some math problems, and I wonder if you would mind going over them with me."
He hesitated a moment. "This is unusual, but ... very well."
Mr. Janson liked Honey. She was not like the other girls in his class. They were raucous and indifferent, while Honey was sensitive and caring, always eager to please. He wished that she had more of an aptitude for mathematics.
Mr. Janson sat next to Honey on the couch and began to explain the arcane intricacies of logarithms.
Honey was not interested in logarithms. As Mr. Janson talked, Honey moved closer and closer to him. She started breathing on his neck and into his ear, and before he knew what was happening, Mr. Janson found that his pants were unzipped.
He was looking at Honey in astonishment. "What are you doing?"
"I've wanted you since the first time I saw you," Honey said. She opened her purse and took out a small can of whipped cream.
"What's that?"
"Let me show you ..."
Honey received an A in math.
It was not only the accessories Honey used that made her so popular. It was the knowledge she had gleaned from all the ancient books on erotica she had read. She delighted her partners with techniques they had never even dreamed of, that were thousands of years old, and long forgotten. She brought a new meaning to the word "ecstasy."
Honey's grades improved dramatically, and she was suddenly even more popular than her sisters had been in their high school days. Honey was dined at the Private Eye and the Bombay Bicycle Club, and taken to the Ice Capades at the Memphis Mall. The boys took her skiing at Cedar Cliff and sky diving at Landis Airport.
Honey's years at college were just as successful socially. At dinner one evening, her father said, "You'll be graduating soon. It's time to think about your future. Do you know what you want to do with your life?"
She answered immediately. "I want to be a nurse."
Her father's face reddened. "You mean a doctor."
"No, Father. I ..."
"You're a Taft. If you want to go into medicine, you'll be a doctor. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Father."
Honey had meant it when she told her father she wanted to be a nurse. She loved taking care of people, helping them and nurturing them. She was terrified by the idea of becoming a doctor, and being responsible for people's lives. But she knew that she must not disappoint her father. You're a Taft.
Honey's college grades were not good enough to get her into medical school, but her father's influence was. He was a heavy contributor to a medical school in Knoxville, Tennessee. He met with Dr. Jim Pearson, the dean.
"You're asking for a big favor," Pearson said, "but I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll admit Honey on a probationary basis. If at the end of six months we feel she's not qualified to continue, we'll have to let her go."
"Fair enough. She's going to surprise you."
He was right.
Honey's father had made arrangements for her to stay in Knoxville with a cousin of his, the Reverend Douglas Lipton.
Douglas Lipton was the minister of the Baptist Church. He was in his sixties, married to a woman ten years older.
The minister was delighted to have Honey in the house.
"She's like a breath of fresh air," he told his wife.
He had never seen anyone so eager to please.
Honey did fairly well in medical school, but she lacked dedication. She was there only to please her father.
Honey's teachers liked her. There was a genuine nice-ness about her that made her professors want her to succeed.
Ironically, she was particularly weak in anatomy. During the eighth week, her anatomy teacher sent for her. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to fail you," he said unhappily.
"I can't fail", Honey thought. "I can't let my father down. What would Boccaccio have advised?"
Honey moved closer to the professor. "I came to this school because of you. I had heard so much about you." She moved closer to him. "I want to be like you." And closer. "Being a doctor means everything to me." And closer. "Please help me ..."
One hour later, when Honey left his office, she had the answers to the next examination.
Before Honey was finished with medical school, she had seduced several of her professors. There was a helplessness about her that they were unable to resist. They were all under the impression that it was they who were seducing her, and they felt guilty about taking advantage of her innocence.
Dr. Jim Pearson was the last to succumb to Honey. He was intrigued by all the reports he had heard about her. There were rumors of her extraordinary sexual skills. He sent for Honey one day to discuss her grades. She brought a small box of powdered sugar with her, and before the afternoon was over, Dr. Pearson was as hooked as all the others. Honey made him feel young and insatiable. She made him feel that he was a king who had subjugated her and made her his slave.
He tried not to think of his wife and children.
Honey was genuinely fond of the Reverend Douglas Lipton, and it upset her that his wife was a cold, frigid woman who was always criticizing him. Honey felt sorry for the minister. He doesn't deserve that, Honey thought. He needs comforting.
In the middle of the night, when Mrs. Lipton was out of town visiting a sister, Honey walked into the minister's bedroom. She was naked. "Douglas ..."
His eyes flew open. "Honey? Are you all right?"
"No," she said. "Can I talk to you?"
"Of course." He reached for the lamp.
"Don't turn on the light." She crept into bed beside him.
"What's the matter? Aren't you feeling well?"
"I'm worried."
"About what?"
"You. You deserve to be loved. I want to make love to you."
He was wide awake. "My God!" he said. "You're just a child. You can't be serious."
"I am. Your wife's not giving you any love. ..."
"Honey, this is impossible! You'd better get back to your room now, and ..."
He could feel her naked body pressing against his. "Honey, we can't do this. I'm ..."
Her lips were on his, and her body was on top of him, and he was completely swept away. She spent the night in his bed.
At six o'clock in the morning, the door to the bed-room opened and Mrs. Lipton walked in. She stood there, staring at the two of them, then walked out without a word.
Two hours later, the Reverend Douglas Lipton committed suicide in his garage.
When Honey heard the news, she was devastated, unable to believe what had happened.
The sheriff arrived at the house and had a talk with Mrs. Lipton.
When he was through, he went to find Honey. "Out of respect for his family, we're going to list the death of the Reverend Douglas Lipton as a 'suicide for reasons unknown,' but I would suggest that you get the fuck out of this town fast, and stay out."
Honey had gone to Embarcadero County Hospital in San Francisco.
With a glowing recommendation from Dr. Jim Pearson.