COVID19 2020: She’s Across the Street

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Clapping for the nurses leads to romance

This story is my entry into the “Love The One(s) You’re With” special writing event to benefit Coronavirus charities. You may vote with stars, and please do so. Of course, the more stars you feel that you can give the story, the better!

Warnings: There is a voyeuristic element to the story. The two characters grew up during the 1970’s, when sexual mores of course existed, but were somewhat different than they are now. In particular, “friends with benefits” was a more common, and casual sort of thing.

The story takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020

**

Leo sat in his apartment, bored out of his mind. His to-do reading list was exhausted, he had cleaned his office, made his bed, and ordered meals online. There was nothing left to do. He wished he had never retired; then he could be avoiding work!

As it was, he felt himself to be inexorably falling into a depressive state. The loneliness, the lack of human interaction, the sheer isolation during the Covid-19 crisis, all of it was driving him bonkers. He was old, too, a little over 70 years of age, and therefore (or so it is believed) more vulnerable to Covid-19’s more brutal forms of attack.

The highlight of Leo’s day came at 7pm, when everyone in New York (well, not everyone, but a significant subset of everyone) opened their windows that faced the street, and clapped for a few minutes, in a gesture of solidarity with, and symbolically to thank, the doctors and nurses who were saving everyone’s Covid-19 destroyed lives. One guy banged a pot. The pot had a nice resonance, with good harmonics; Leo had never realized banging a pot could actually be a little musical! It tended to foster a sense of community.

He looked forward to 7PM each day, because all the people clapping in their windows across the street smiled at him, and often gave a little wave. Leo was 71, but there was this lithe, little blonde across the street, a couple of floors below his floor, and she was so pretty, and had such a lovely smile, that Leo looked forward to seeing her every day. She didn’t disappoint him; she was always there.

The blonde wasn’t a twenty something babe, either; no, she was maybe in her fifties, or even pushing 60. Leo could fantasize about any woman, anywhere, even the half-naked teenyboppers on the Internet, but with a fifty-something-year-old woman, he could fantasize realistically, and that had an appeal.

Leo looked out the window a lot. He kept track of his neighbors, well, of those who didn’t have their blinds always closed. A tradition began when, after the few minutes of applause for the heroic, self-sacrificing nurses and doctors, neighbors across the street would give each other a small wave, before retreating behind their now closing windows.

One day Leo decided to be the last to stop clapping. He usually wasn’t, because there was a radio program that began at 7PM that he enjoyed. He just stayed there, however, and clapped away, watching the neighbors across the street gradually lose enthusiasm after around three or four minutes and retreat, closing their windows behind them. Leo kept on clapping.

To his surprise, the fetching blonde across the street kept right on clapping with him. He gave her a big smile, and she smiled right back. For Leo, having an attractive woman give him a lovely smile, and it was really and truly for him and him alone, he knew that, well, it was special. His heartbeat quickened. The blonde then made his day, or maybe his week, when she ended her clapping, and blew him a kiss from across the street, followed by a very female little wave, and then rapidly retreated behind her closed windows.

Leo knew he was considered to classically handsome, or at least he was when he was young. However, he had kept his hair as he aged, even if it was now gray, and his body was still fit, and muscular. Still, to have a seriously younger, attractive blonde smile at him so engagingly, surprised him no end.

Leo was stunned. The blonde’s gratuitous gesture of affectionate enthusiasm shot through Leo like a bolt of lightning. That night, Leo had his first erotic dreams in over three years. For the first time in over four years, he woke with morning wood. He felt his life was changing, and for the better, too.

The blonde never blew him a kiss again, but they exchanged smiles while clapping on a daily basis. Ten days later Leo needed to leave the safety zone of his apartment, where he lived alone, to venture out into the dangerous Covid-19 infected world to purchase supplies. He needed light bulbs, toilet paper, paper towels, more gel, and, of course, all kinds of food. He had to make two trips. Everyone was wearing masks. At the grocery store, he had to wait in a socially distanced line to enter, and even then, one couldn’t enter the store without a mask. Leo’s eyes were not as good as they were in his younger days, and with everyone’s faces half covered in masks, he canlı bahis şirketleri had trouble recognizing his own neighbors.

It was not surprising when a masked, blonde woman approached him, still keeping her three feet of distance (six feet of distance would have been better, but the store aisles were narrow and the store was crowded), and Leo had no idea who she was.

“I live on the north side of East xxth Street, “she said. “I think my apartment faces yours.”

Leo looked at her. Seeing that he was confused, she lowered her mask and gave Leo that electric smile he loved so very much. Recognizing his fetching blonde neighbor, Leo smiled broadly. He said, “I’m Leo, pleased to meet you.”

Freshly masked again, the fetching blonde said, “I’m Juliana. Juliana Brigitte Smith. It’s a pleasure, Leo.”

“Leo Baker is my full name.” They smiled at each other but neither really knew what to say, standing together in a grocery store, so they each just continued shopping. Leo had noticed, however, that Juliana did not sport a wedding ring.

The clapping at 7PM continued, of course, and three days later Leo held up a handmade sign saying, in big black sharpie letters, “Hi, Juliana!” When he offered it, Juliana blushed, but when the clapping came to an end, the fetching blonde blew Leo a kiss for the second time. The next day Leo again awoke with morning wood. He was amazed. Morning wood like this had last occurred maybe ten to twenty years ago! He knew it had to be due to Juliana. He felt alive again.

Leo ventured out of his apartment the very next day. The excuse he gave himself was to buy more shaving cream, fancy soap, and shampoo at the pharmacy. In reality, he had written a note, and he found Juliana’s building, which was a fancy one. It had a doorman. He gave the doorman the envelope, addressed to Juliana B. Smith, and the masked doorman nodded, and accepted it. Leo went home, and waited for the telephone call. It didn’t come. Well, he had tried.

Juliana stopped appearing at the window, too. Her curtains were closed, and they were never closed before! He wondered: Had he offended her with his note? He had taken the trouble to clear it with his sister, and she assured him it was sweet, with nothing offensive. Maybe her absence was for another reason, and it was not all about him?

Leo was curious. He ordered some night vision binoculars online, and paid extra for fast delivery. He spent the day and night keeping a watch on Juliana’s apartment. For three days he saw nothing. It was as if Juliana had vanished. Was she no longer in her apartment? The fourth night someone had opened the curtains again. Long after the sun had set, while he was using his night vision binoculars, he detected movement. Finally!

He saw her. Her lights were off, but there was a little ambient light from the streetlights. She was wearing a silk nightgown without a bra, just like his dear, departed wife used to do. He thought of his wife, with her now in heaven. He hoped Esther was happy in heaven. He reflected on her fondly, as he gazed out at the delicious little woman known as Juliana Brigitte Smith.

There was somebody with her. It appeared to be a man. Was he a brother, or a lover, or just a friend? Given she was wearing a nightgown where her nipples poked prominently, he figured the man was not just a friend, nor a brother, unless… No, the man had to be a lover.

The two left the window and then went to another room, where Leo could no longer see them. He faithfully stayed at his post, and later the two came out. The man was dressed, but Juliana was wearing only panties. Now there was little question, and zero doubt, as Leo watched the two adults kiss. Leo’s stomach was in knots. He felt he had to forget about his fantasies with Juliana. That’s why she had never answered his note! She was committed.

Finally, the man left, and Juliana, topless, wearing only panties, sat in her armchair giving Leo a perfect, unobstructed view of her perfect representation of the female form. Of course, he only had such a view if he used his night vision binoculars. He decided Juliana had perfect breasts. It was a pretty simple conclusion. Of course, since her lights were off, Juliana doubtless reasonably thought nobody could see her sitting there, almost naked. Why would she have thought Leo had night vision binoculars?

OMG, she looked to be holding his note in her hands! She was reading and re-reading his note. This could only be a good sign, right? Wait — wait; are those tears creeping down her cheeks? Why would she be crying while she read his note? Maybe it wasn’t his note? Was it something else? He focused the binoculars as best he could; he just couldn’t tell. It was the right size and shape (5″ by 7″) of his note paper. Leo gave up trying to discern if she was reading his note or not, and simply resumed his close study of her delectable boobs.

**

His building wasn’t as fancy as hers. It didn’t have a canlı kaçak iddaa doorman. Juliana had solved that small problem by mailing her reply to him, even though he had included his cell phone number in his note. Well, maybe she wasn’t ready for him to know her phone number? With caller ID he’d have it, were she to call or to text him. Maybe it freaked her out he had found where she lived? Maybe she thought of him as a stalker? He was, after all, spying on her with binoculars. Hopefully, though, she didn’t know that!

He looked at the postmark. It had taken three days to cross the street! She mailed it Monday, and today was Thursday. He was terrified to open it. What if it told him please to stop stalking her? What if she threatened to report him to the police? He found his letter opener and carefully opened it, even though his hands were trembling. He read it:

Dear Leo,

Thank you for your note. I think too it would be nice to get to know each other beyond our glances during the clapping for the nurses. (My sister is a nurse!). I’ll be at the bench inside Central Park at noon on Friday, if you want to seek me out. If not, that’s fine. I love being outside, anyway. It’s not supposed to rain on Friday, but if it does, I won’t be there. I’m a fair-weather clapper, I guess. I hope to see you then. ~~ Juliana XXX

PS: The closest intersection to the bench is Fifth Avenue and 95th Street.

PPS: Don’t forget to social distance. ??

The next day, Friday, Leo debated for a long time what to wear. He finally decided on a casual look, with jeans and a polo, since it was a sunny, warm day. He didn’t want to overdo it for his first one-on-one meeting with Juliana. When he found Juliana sitting on the bench, she was dressed in a sleeveless silk blouse and a relatively short skirt that rode up her thighs just enough to be provocative to the discerning. On her legs she wore stockings or pantyhose (Leo wasn’t sure which), and open toed pumps. Leo felt a sudden surge of juvenile infatuation.

Juliana appeared to be lost in her novel. In reality, she had quietly watched, without ever overtly looking, Leo’s approach to her bench. She acted as if she didn’t notice Leo until he sat on the bench, and then, sensing another presence on the bench, she turned her head to look. She saw it was Leo, and she broke into a smile that could have melted the heart of Darth Vader!

Leo had carefully sat at the other end of the park bench from Juliana, following the Covid recommended guidelines. They both wore masks. Juliana’s mask looked to be homemade, and it was pink, with little red hearts decorating it. Leo had bought his at a drugstore, and it was white, as boring and unimaginative as a mask could be.

Leo couldn’t help himself, he quasi-automatically checked out Juliana. She was probably around five feet, six inches tall. Leo himself had once been six feet two inches, but like many older men, he had shrunk a bit, and was now barely six feet one inch. Juliana had nice breasts, not too big and not too small, a small waist (Leo loved women with small waists), a flat tummy, as far as he could see, she had totally fabulous legs, encased in nylon. He already knew she had a pretty face and a smile that could light up the night sky.

They looked at each other for a while, the masks covering their noses and mouths. Even through the mask, he could tell Juliana was smiling. She looked delicious. He hoped she was single, and if she was, why was she? How important to her was that man, presumably her lover, on whom he had spied the other night? Were they committed to each other? Well, hopefully there’ll be time enough to learn her history.

The two lonely, Covid-imprisoned people exchanged banalities, and Juliana asked if he wanted to take a walk with her. He did. They strolled together, both masked and keeping their social distance, down the wide sidewalk of Fifth Avenue, right next to the Eastern border of Central Park. They turned around and walked back once they reached 68th Street.

During the walk, Leo told Juliana of Esther, and how quickly she had perished of pancreatic cancer, three long years earlier. Juliana was not as forthcoming, but he learned she was divorced. He pushed a little too hard, and she explained that her husband, Shane, abused her. She did not elaborate, leaving the form of the abuse to Leo’s fertile imagination. She did mention, however, that her ex had now found another woman who was more to his liking. Juliana was 56, to Leo’s 71 years of age.

Leo was desperately curious about Juliana’s lover from the previous night, but how could he ask her that, without revealing his stalking behavior? And even if he could reveal his stalking behavior, how could he politely ask her who was her lover and what did she think of her relationship with him? He was doomed to stay ignorant unless she chose to tell him, and why would she?

Leo worried Juliana would think he was too old for her. Maybe he was? Well, she didn’t canlı kaçak bahis have to be a lover; he’d love to have her just as a platonic friend. They began to discuss their favorite movies, Broadway plays, and novels. Juliana loved television, too, but Leo didn’t even have a set.

“Are you one of those anti-television intellectual snobs, Leo?” Juliana asked.

“I never thought about it that way,” he replied. “Why? Do you like TV?”

“Yes, I do. I like it because there’s really good shows on it, of course! Have you ever seen the reruns of Law & Order? No? It’s shot here in New York. It’s very well done. I watch reruns most nights. When you live alone, it’s as if you’re inviting the characters from the show into your home. I don’t get many actual, living visitors,” Juliana said.

Leo so, so, so wanted to ask about the mysterious man who obviously fucked her silly just the other night! He didn’t, though, of course.

“A woman of your beauty? I don’t believe that!” Leo said, and Juliana blushed.

Leo walked her home. At the door to her building, still standing the requisite distance away from her, Leo asked, “May I see you again?”

Juliana’s smile was so bright, it almost shone through her pink mask. “Yes,” she said, in all simplicity.

“Sunday, then?” he knew he was taking a risk, since Sunday was in only two days. Was he rushing things?

“Not until then?” came the surprising reply.

It was Leo’s turn to smile broadly. “How about tomorrow? Same time, same bench?”

They continued to meet at the park bench on a daily basis, except when it rained. Leo learned most of Juliana’s history, and she learned most of his. Juliana had married young, at nineteen, but of course it didn’t take, and she was divorced by twenty-two. She then had a series of affairs which never seemed to really click, until she found her second husband at the age of twenty-six, popped out a couple of children who were now grown and living in Indiana and California, where their jobs were. She divorced her husband a little over a year ago. Juliana explained he had always had tendencies to be abusive, but over the last ten years the abuse had become worse and worse, until it was intolerable. She also, of course, gave Leo sympathy over the tragic loss of his wife Esther to cancer.

Leo asked why she had married an abusive man?

Juliana laughed. “Good question! I’ve thought about it a lot, over the years, and you know he’s handsome and loving most of the time. He took care of me. At the beginning I think I found his light abuse a bit of a turn-on, you know?”

“No, not really,” Leo said.

“Leo, do you know what a submissive woman is?” Juliana asked.

“I know the idea, but not the specifics,” Leo replied.

“I’ll give you some stuff to read. I don’t want to explain it to you. Suffice it to say that when the abuse was mild, it led to some great sex. When it stopped being mild and just became cruel, it was the opposite. An Eros killer, and also I felt I was in danger,” she said.

“What did you do?” Leo asked.

“I got help, of course. There’s a good program of shelters for battered wives. Eventually we got divorced, and with it I got a restraining order. Our daughter Melissa moved to California to get away from Shane,” she said. “She has a different name, and he’ll never find her.”

Leo was smart enough not to ask about Shane and their daughter. Some things are better left unsaid.

It rained heavily for almost a solid week, and Leo missed his meetings with Juliana. That’s when her phone call came, inviting him to dinner that very night. They had never discussed Juliana’s domestic talents, or possibly her lack of them, but when Leo arrived at her apartment, he quickly realized that, as pretty as she was, she was even more impressive in the other traditional aspects of femininity. Her apartment looked as if it had just been staged for a fold-out spread in House and Garden magazine.

The smells from the kitchen were divine. “I hope you like Moroccan food,” Juliana said, nervously.

“If it tastes like it smells, I’m sure I will. I’ve never had Moroccan food before. Have you been to Morocco?” Leo asked.

“No. I learned from watching cooking shows on television,” she said. “This was Shane’s favorite dish.” Shane was her now divorced husband. “You can take off your mask, Leo, unless you plan to eat while wearing it?”

Juliana did not wear a mask in her own home, which of course was normal. Leo was gazing at her complete face, up close and at length, for the first time. Her full lips quivered just a tad. He wondered if he should kiss her? They’d been “dating” at their park bench for a week and a half before the rain killed that, and now here he was, with her making him dinner.

Juliana came out of the kitchen with two glasses of white wine. Leo took them from her, put them on the table, reached for her hand, and pulled her around to face him. She looked up into his eyes questioningly. He bent down slowly and their lips came together. Juliana put her arms around his neck, and she sighed, as they kissed. His eyes were open, studying her face, but hers were closed. Leo decided she was not simply pretty; she was gorgeous.

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