Category Archives: NAKED STORIES

The Naked Bath Murder – Jean Harlow and the 1932 Shocker Red Dust

In 1932 Jean Harlow was completely naked on-screen in the film Red Dust.  She was only 21 at the time. Even more shocking was that while Red Dust was still in production, Jean Harlow murdered her husband, wealthy MGM executive Paul Bern, and got away with the crime. Like most Hollywood legends, this is a combination of fact and fantasy.

Jean Harlow & Clark Gable in the famous bath scene of Red Dust
Jean Harlow & Clark Gable in the famous bath scene of Red Dust

Let’s start with the murder. The fact is that Paul Bern did die of a gunshot wound while Red Dust was being filmed. The official story was that it suicide, but rumors swirled that Jean Harlow had killed him. After all, Jean Harlow had already gotten al she needed from Bern, who was twice her age. He had persuaded MGM to hire Harlow, and star her in Red Dust. Who needed him around after that?

Paul Bern & Jean Harlow
Paul Bern & Jean Harlow

In reality, Bern’s death almost cost Jean Harlow the role. MGM was aware of the murder rumors and wanted to dump Harlow from Red Dust. MGM offered the starring part to Tallulah Bankhead. However, Ms. Bankhead always had real class, and she refused to take a movie role away from a young woman whose husband had just died.

Dorthy Millette who may have been the real killer o Paul Bern
Dorthy Millette who may have been the real killer o Paul Bern

As an added twist to the tale, the most likely explanation is that Paul Bern actually was murdered, but not by Jean Harlow. Decades later, ex-cops and MGM security people admitted that Paul Bern was probably murdered by his ex-lover Dorthy Millette, who was mentally unbalanced. Dorthy Millette had been released from a mental institution the day before Paul Bern’s murder. The day after Paul Bern’s death Dorthy Millette herself committed suicide by jumping off a Ferryboat.

Paul Berne's supposed suicide note
Paul Berne’s supposed suicide note

MGM’s people re-arranged the crime scene to make it look like a suicide, thinking that a suicide would somehow damage the company’s reputation less than a murder. They also created a bizarre hand-written suicide note. At the time of the supposed “suicide” very little police investigation was undertaken. Pointedly, the police did not have a handwriting expert examine the letter to see if it was really penned by Paul Bern. Such was the power of the major movie studios over the police in 1932.

There are also multiple stories about the naked bath. Anyone viewing Red Dust today will quickly see that Jean Harlow does not appear naked on screen. There is implied nudity, exhibitionism and voyeurism, but nothing is actually shown.

Mary Astor and Clark Gable in "Red Dust"
Mary Astor and Clark Gable in “Red Dust”

Red Dust is a story about love and sex on an isolated rubber plantation in French Indochina (current day Vietnam). Clark Gable is Dennis Carson, the owner of the plantation, and Jean Harlow is Vantine, a wild type who shows up from Saigon. It is strongly implied that Vantine is a prostitute on the run.

Dennis and Vantine seem perfect for each other since both are rough and sexually easy going, with the attitude that life should be fun. But this is complicated by the arrival of the married couple Gary Willis (Gene Raymond) and his wife Barbara (Mary Astor).

Dennis immediately falls for the beautiful sophisticated Barbara, despite the fact that she is a married woman. Vantine, knows that she can never compete with a woman like Barbara and is extremely jealous.

Clark Cable's arms against Jean Harlow's breasts in "Red Dust"
Clark Cable’s arms against Jean Harlow’s breasts in “Red Dust”

However, Red Dust is not known for its forgettable and formulaic plot, but rather for two scenes with Jean Harlow. The first is the naked bath scene where Vantine (Harlow) bathes naked in a rain barrel while Dennis (Gable) stands over her playing with her hair. Dennis is looking straight down into the barrel seeing Vantine nude. He is not even pretending to look away.

The implied sexuality in this scene is so blatant that many viewers of the film swore later that they really had seen Jean Harlow naked. In fact, Jean Harlow’s body is completely hidden by the barrel and the audience sees nothing. Clark Gable’s acting was so good that the look on his face convinced viewers that he really was was staring at a beautiful naked woman. In film it is often the implied actions that are the most erotic.

There is also the movie lore that Jean Harlow really was naked and that after the scene was shot, she stood up and got out of the barrel, giving giving the film crew a full view of her nude body. This is complete nonsense, but members of the film crew were able to get free drinks in Hollywood for years by claiming they had been on set when Jean Harlow paraded around nude.

However, it was another scene that really shocked 1932 audiences. Valentine is leaning back against Dennis and his arms are wrapped around her. Instead of having his arms discretely around her waist, Clark Gable’s arms are definitely around Jean Harlow’s voluptious breasts. There was nothing implied about this. It broke the unwritten rule of what could be shown touching what in a mainstream film, and one of the factors that lead to film censorship a few years later.

Red Dust is amazingly mild by today’s standards, and at the most would get a PG-13 rating. Critics have always panned the acting abilities of Jean Harlow, but considering the circumstances she did an amazing job. Here was a 21 year old woman who was able to perform, while at the same time having the general public whispering that she was a slut and murderer. It is incredible that she was able to take the pressures of that type of life and even show up to work.

Red Dust ends up being the type of film where the story about the movie is more interesting than the movie itself. Many one day someone will make a movie about the making of Red Dust. Now that would be worth seeing.

We rate Red Dust 4 Stars ****

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Naked Dutch Windows – the Soul of the Netherlands

Tourists gawk at the naked prostitutes in the ground floor Amsterdam windows and think that explains who the Dutch are. However, the secret of the Dutch can be seen in other naked windows far from Amsterdam; in the windows of the suburbs and countryside. Ordinary Dutch families don’t put curtains on their ground floor windows. Walking down the street at night you can look directly into the well-lit homes and see the families having dinner, or reading, or just sitting in their living rooms.

Dutch prostitutes display themselves in windows

Dutch prostitutes display themselves in windows

No, the Dutch are not exhibitionists, and they are not even the liberals  outsiders think they are. The Dutch are actually quite conservative, while at the same time being immensely practical and business-oriented.

A Typical Dutch Home with no Curtains

A Typical Dutch Home with no Curtains

The curtain-less windows in Dutch homes goes back hundreds of years. There should be nothing going on in a home on the ground floor that needs to be hidden. Some say this began in the days when Calvinism took hold in the Netherlands. No curtains was a way to demonstrate to the  world that nothing sinful was taking place in that home. Even when the Protestant Reformation faded, the practice of no curtains remained. The homes or apartments may be equipped with curtains, but the Dutch don’t actually close them.

Even in the daytime Dutch prostitutes are on sale in windows

Even in the daytime Dutch prostitutes are on sale in windows

But how does that explain the Dutch tolerating prostitutes displaying themselves in windows in Amsterdam?

Johannes Vermeer painting "Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman - The Music Lesson" Notice the lack of curtains

Johannes Vermeer painting “Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman – The Music Lesson” Notice the lack of curtains

The Dutch are conservative family-oriented people, but they are also immensely practical. Unlike other cultures, the Dutch long ago decided that it was an idiotic waste of time and money to try to eliminate the sex trade. Instead, the Dutch have limited sex workers to specific, safe areas. Tourists gawk at the prostitutes (and possibly partake in their offerings). Giant Dutch policeman patrol the district while hiding their distaste  for the whole business.

Dutch Apartments with no closed curtains on lower levels

Dutch Apartments with no closed curtains on lower levels

Meanwhile, far away from the red-light district, Dutch families quietly sit down to diner, in full view of the world. Their naked Dutch windows displaying to passers-by who the Dutch really are .

The Naked Sun- Isaac Asimov’s Erotic Sci-Fi Mystery

The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov was the first Science Fiction book I ever bought . It had a beautiful naked woman on the cover, which was why I bought it.  I was in middle school, and the library was having a used book sale. I could not believe the school had an erotic book for sale. I grabbed it and quickly paid, half expecting the ancient librarian to snatch it out of my hand and slap my face. Instead, she simply took my money and moved on to the next customer.

The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov - the original erotic cover

The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov – the original erotic cover

Of course, the woman on the cover of The Naked Sun was not completely nude. A couple of key parts were strategically covered by stars. However, to a  a boy in middle school in those days, this was still incredibly exciting, even with the stars.

The Naked Sun author Isaac Asimov

The Naked Sun author Isaac Asimov

The Naked Sun was not the smutty sex book I was expecting. However, it did turn out to be a terrific story, and turned me on to the wonderful universe of Science Fiction writing. Of course, Isaac Asimov was one of the best science fiction writers of all time. Although The Naked Sun was released in 1957, its story still resonates today.

People on the internet, completely ignoring the real people next to them

People on the internet, completely ignoring the real people next to them

The Naked Sun is a murder mystery that takes place on the planet Solaria, and the investigating detective is from Earth. The main suspect is Gladia, the beautiful widow of the murder victim. On Solaria, the main form of communication is “Viewing” where people contact each other through devices allowing them to see and hear each other remotely. Remember that The Naked Sun was written decades before the internet or Skype.

Twilight Zone to get social commentary past T.V. censors

Rod Serling used The Twilight Zone to get social commentary past T.V. censors

Asimov’s predictions of how such viewing devices would change human behavior were amazingly accurate. In The Naked Sun, people prefer Viewing to any actual face -to-face meetings. People will be very open and even intimate while viewing, yet feel awkward and shy in real physical meetings. This prediction came true. Take a look at any Starbucks, and you will see people having “relationships” on their cell phones or laptops, while completely ignoring the real humans  sitting right next to them.

Star Wars was actually about the religious awaking of Luke Skywalker

Star Wars was actually about the religious awaking of Luke Skywalker

There is actual nudity in The Naked Sun. The detective Elijah first interviews Gladia on the viewing device, and she is completely relaxed about changing clothing while speaking with him. He is shocked to find that she does not consider it at all inappropriate for a stranger to see her naked. However, later when they actually meet in person, she is covered head to toe, including long gloves. The Naked Sun accurately predicted our strange modern world where people act completely different on the internet than they do in “real life”. In some ways in The Naked Sun, Earth is 1957, while Solarnia is Earth of The Future.

Science Fiction has never gotten the respect given to other genres. In some ways this has been its greatest strength. Censors never took science fiction seriously and consequently did not pay that much attention to it. Rod Serling was able to use the The Twilight Zone to explore social and moral issues that television censors would have banned in “serious” dramas. Star Wars was actually about a religious awaking in Luke Skywalker, who comes to believe in an invisible  “force” which connects all living entities in the universe. In  Half A Life, Soviet author Kirill Bulychev was able to criticize the Soviet Union, without getting himself thrown into a gulag.

So take a look at the classics of science fiction, even if the last time you read science fiction stories was when you were a kid. You may find that now that you are an adult you find a new and deeper meaning to these adventures. The Naked Sun is a good book to start with. By the way, even after these years, the woman on the cover of The Naked Sun Still looks great.

Naked Came The Stranger – The 1969 Hoax that became a best selling novel

The 1969 novel Naked Came The Stranger by Penelope Ashe was a hoax written to prove that Americans will read any piece of trash as long as it contains enough sex. The plot made no sense, there was no character development and the writing was awful. However, it was jam-packed with sex scene after sex scene. Add to that the fact that the author was a beautiful woman, and there was a naked woman on the cover, and Naked Came The Stranger was an instant best seller

Naked Came The Stranger the 1969 best selling trash novel that was really a Hoax.

Naked Came The Stranger the 1969 best selling trash novel that was really a Hoax.

In fact, there was no Penelope Ashe. Naked Came The Stranger was written by 24 Newsday journalists and their literary friends  lead by Mike McGrady. They went out of their way to write a bad book. Each of them wrote different parts of the book, and had no discussions with each other about the plot during the writing. This is why the plot seems so disjointed, and the writing styles vary from chapter to chapter. When the first draft was completed Mike McGrady insisted that some of the chapters  be re-done, because then were too well written

Ashe" who pretended to be the author of"Naked Came The Stranger"

Billie Young, AKA “Penelope Ashe” who pretended to be the author of”Naked Came The Stranger”

Once this collection of garbage prose was completed it was time to try to get it published. Everyone agreed that sex novels written by beautiful young women, somehow seem much more titillating than those written by middle-aged men. Billie Young, Mike McGrady’s sister-in-law, therefore agreed to pretend to be the author Penelope Ashe, although she had not written a word.

Mike McGrady, the real force behind Naked Came The Stranger

Mike McGrady, the real force behind Naked Came The Stranger

The next step was to choose a publisher. That was easy. They chose Lyle Stuart, a Fort Lee New Jersey publisher of sleaze books, who was also a Las Vegas casino owner and an overall “colorful” character.  Rumors were that Mr. Stuart might be “connected” to some people. (If you live in New Jersey you know what that phrase means). Lyle Stuart did not question the book’s authenticity. He accepted Billie Young as the author Penelope Ashe.

Lyle Stuart - publisher of Naked Came The Stranger

Lyle Stuart – publisher of Naked Came The Stranger

In fact, Lyle Stuart decided to make a sexy book even sexier. It was Lyle Stuart who decided to put a naked woman on the cover. Of course, there still was some censorship in 1969, so the photo was an “artful” picture showing only a nude young  woman from behind, submissively kneeling on a rug.  The photograph suggests much more than it actually reveals.

The real authors of Naked Came The Stranger

The real authors of Naked Came The Stranger

Lyle Stuart had actually plagiarized the photograph from a Hungarian nudist magazine and did not pay or credit the photographer. Later on when Naked Came The Stranger became a best seller, the Hungarian photographer successfully sued Lyle Stuart, and received payment.

When Naked Came The Stranger was published, it became an instant best seller. Before the end of 1969 it had sold 20,000 copies. At that point, the real authors decided to shame the American public and reveal the truth. They all appeared on The David Frost Show and exposed the hoax.

But the American public was not ashamed of its poor taste in literature. After the revelations on the David Frost Show, sales of Naked Came The Stranger skyrocketed. The book eventually sold over 400,000 copies.

After the book was revealed as a hoax, Americans had the best of both worlds. The could go out and buy Naked Came The Stranger and pretend they were not really just reading it for the sex parts. People could now openly carry a copy of Naked Came The Stranger and say they were just interested in  the hoax and wanted to see just how bad the writing was.

Naked Came the Stranger became the topic of conversations at middle-class suburban cocktail parties throughout 1969 and into the early 1970s. Suburbanites could now openly discuss a raunchy sex book and pretend it was really a literary discussion.

In its own  way, Naked Came The Stranger did reveal quite a lot about American culture in 1969 . Today, Americans can see or read or hear any kind of sexually explicit material instantly on the internet. However, 1969 was a different world. Only 10 years earlier, even such classics as the D.H. Lawrence masterpiece Lady Chatterly’s Lover were still banned throughout the United States. Only a series of long and expensive court cases allowed publishers to begin to print and distribute books that a few years earlier would have landed them in jail.

Released from their Puritanical bonds, Americans were eager to buy and read everything that had been denied to them for so long. If a book like Naked Came The Stranger was released today, it would hardly cause a ripple in the literary community. In 1969 it was a Tsunami.

So remember – books, movies or songs don’t have to be good to be “classic”. What makes something classic is its power to perfectly capture a specific period of time. In 1969, that classic was Naked Came The Stranger.

The Naked Milk Bath – Claudette Colbert in the 1932 Sign Of The Cross

In the 1932 Sign Of The Cross, Claudette Colbert frolicked naked in a milk bath, briefly fully exposing her ample breasts to shocked Depression-era movie audiences. Sign Of The Cross contained a number of fully naked women, almost naked men, and hints of homosexuality and bisexuality. Sign Of The Cross was able to get away with showing this much naked flesh, by disguising itself as a “religious movie”.

Claudette Colbert reveals her breasts in the 1932 Sign Of The Cross

Claudette Colbert reveals her breasts in the 1932 Sign Of The Cross

Theoretically Sign Of The Cross was about the struggle of the brave Christians being persecuted by the sinful Romans. But director Cecil B. DeMille was no preacher. The real focus of the film is on the decadent Romans, not the pious Christians. As Billy Joel was to say many decades later “sinners are much more fun”. Depression-era movie audiences did not come in from the cold street to see other people suffering. They wanted some fun and titillation and who better to provide that than the wild Romans?

Charles Laughton as Emperor Nero in "The Sign Of The Cross" 1932

Charles Laughton as Emperor Nero in “The Sign Of The Cross” 1932

There was no movie censorship in 1932, but that did not mean theaters would show something considered pornographic. However, Cecil B. DeMille came up with the perfect formula for giving people what they wanted, while letting audiences pretend they were not really watching a sex film.

The 1932 Sign Of The Cross was before censorship and full of nudity

The 1932 Sign Of The Cross was before censorship and full of nudity

Religion was the perfect way to disguise audiences desire to see sex. Sign Of The Cross showed in great detail the gluttony, orgies and sexual depravity of the Roman Empire, while pretending to point out how “bad” this all was. That way, movie audiences got the best of both worlds. Audiences were able to see the naked flesh, all the while pretending they were really watching a film about the early struggles of Christianity. Of course, many of the Christian martyrs being sacrificed in the Coliseum just happened to be beautiful naked women.

Charles Laughton an the decadent Nero in Sigh Of The Cross

Charles Laughton an the decadent Nero in Sigh Of The Cross

Sign Of The Cross was especially shocking for its hints of homosexuality and bisexuality. Emperor Nero was played by Charles Laughton who, incredibly for the times, was open about being a homosexual. (The word “gay” would not come into the language for many years.) Emperor Nero is surrounded by well-built slave men who are wearing almost nothing. In other scenes, Nero is attended by near-naked young women. Apparently Nero had quite a diverse sexual appetite.

Claudette Colbert takes naked direction from Cecil B. DeMille in Sign Of The Cross

Claudette Colbert takes naked direction from Cecil B. DeMille in Sign Of The Cross

But the most famous scene in Sign Of The Cross is Claudette Colbert as Empress Pompeia and her naked milk bath. She does not just lie there passively. Swimming around and exploring herself sexually, there is one quick flash where her nipples are full exposed. Watching the film today, you can still almost hear the gasps from the 1932 movie audiences.

Claudette Colbert in a naked milk bath in "The Sign Of The Cross"

Claudette Colbert in a naked milk bath in “The Sign Of The Cross”

Claudette Colbert’s acting actually was actually amazing, considering how non-sexual  the real situation was. The bath Claudette Colbert was in actually was filled with milk. Powdered milk had been mixed with water to give the water a translucent quality. Even Cecil B. DeMille did not dare film the scene in clear water. That would have shown Claudette Colbert completely naked throughout the whole scene.

Claudette Colbert & Charles Laughton in "Sign Of The Cross"

Claudette Colbert & Charles Laughton in “Sign Of The Cross”

The powdered milk mixed with water looked great on film, but the hot movie lights quickly turned the milk sour. So while Claudette Colbert was acting sexual and seductive, she was actually breathing in the stench of sour milk the whole time. That’s acting.

Charlize Theron naked in a milk bath in "Snow White And The Huntsman"

Charlize Theron naked in a milk bath in “Snow White And The Huntsman”

Of course the “moral authorities” in the United States went berserk. However, the full force of their wrath did not become apparent until 2 years later in 1934 when Tarzan And His Mate was released. In that film, Jane swims completely naked in clear water for a considerable period. As a result of that scene, censorship was born and nudity was out of American films for many many years.

Naked Christian woman being sacrificed to the lions in The Sign Of The Cross

Naked Christian woman being sacrificed to the lions in The Sign Of The Cross

However, the Naked Milk Bath never left American cinema. One of the most recent reincarnations was Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna in the PG-13 rated Snow White And The Huntsman. Charlize Theron emerges naked from a milk bath. However, the milk is much thicker and Charlize Theron’s hands strategically cover her breasts. Claudette Colbert’s 1932 Naked Milk Bath was about 100 times sexier.

We recommend Sign of The Cross as a fascinating film to watch. Long before CGI and other special effects, you can be sure that when you see actors wrestling with Lions, they really were wrestling with lions. It is amazing that no one got killed making Sign Of The Cross. Beautiful naked and semi-naked women and men, a cast of thousands, ferocious animals and of course, the most memorable Naked Milk Bath of all time. A true Hollywood classic.

Attack of the Naked Women

The stock market has crashed. The crime rate is rising. Racial tensions are high and police morale is low. The mass transit system is falling apart. So New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio  has decided that the top priority of his administration should be to protect us all from the “threat” poised by beautiful young women who pose semi-nude for the Tourists in Times Square.

Exactly why this is a police matter, de Blasio is having a tough time explaining. The tourists love the girls. This is exactly the sort of decadence they hoped to see when they boarded planes in the Midwest to come to the Big Apple.

No one who lives or works in New York is upset. That is because anyone who actually lives or works in New York City avoids Times Square at all costs.

The New York Supreme Court is not even concerned about the young women. It ruled more than a year ago that it is perfectly legal for women to be topless anywhere in New York at any time.

The Mayor’s brilliant plan is to arrest the women for illegally conducting a “business” since they take tips from tourists who take their pictures. When told that this might not fly legally, his next idea is that we should re-open the streets to traffic in Times Square. He would rather have the pollution, noise and danger of the extra cars, than risk seeing a female nipple.

The Mayor seems to be missing the point that Freedom of Expression is what this country is all about. After all, if a beautiful young woman cannot show her patriotism by painting her breasts Red, White and Blue and displaying them to the World, then the terrorists really have won.

Naked and Afraid – The Stupid show everyone watches

The sheer stupidity of Naked And Afraid on the Discovery Channel is what makes the show so much fun to watch.  If you have never seen this show, the basic concept is that a man and a woman are placed naked in a jungle or an island and must survive for almost 3 weeks. They are complete strangers, and the first time they ever see each other they are naked.

Afraid 1

There is not enough space to list all the ridiculous items in this series, so we will just touch on some of the most hilarious;

  • The show takes itself SO seriously.  As viewers, we are somehow supposed to believe that these people are really in danger. This; despite the fact that the “survivalists” are at all times surrounded by a Camera Crew, a Sound Technician, a Director, and all the laborers who carry the food,  equipment and set-up camps for these crews.
  • We are supposed to pretend that nakedness is part of a normal survival scenario.
    Through the years, there have been many true stories of people suddenly being thrust into desperate survival situations.  Planes have crashed in a jungle. There are shipwrecks. Storms have destroyed homes.  In any of these real situations, the people were afraid, but they were certainly not naked.  The naked component is there for the sole purpose of increasing ratings.

afraid 2

  • The naked people are pixelated.  Since the Discovery Channel is on basic cable, it cannot show naked genitalia or naked female breasts. However, they do  get around this as much as possible by blurring only the absolute minimum. Viewers can get a very good idea of exactly what the naked people look like. There is also the titillating feature that the people move around a lot and the blurring does not always keep up with the movement. There is no doubt that many of the viewers watch the show hoping to get a glance of something forbidden. If this seems cynical, just take a look at the comments on the internet. The most common question people ask about Naked and Afraid is “Where can I see a version of the show without anything  blurred out?” The disappointing answer is “Nowhere.” However,  we all  know that eventually someone is going to steal an uncensored print and release a truly naked version of the show on the internet.

Afraid 4

  • The contestants are good-looking exhibitionists. Take a look at the contestants in the picture shown above. Do their bodies look like those of the “average” American who might get caught in a survival situation? Of course not. They have great bodies, and love showing them to people. If your plane crashed on a remote island chances are you would be with a bunch of middle aged fat people rather than the very  sexy Jane & Tarzan types we see here.
  • Many of the contestants don’t make clothing.
    Despite the fact that it is easy to make some basic coverings from palm leaves or other items, most of the contestants do not.  In particular, the men seem to especially enjoy leaving their penises to swing free.  There is no doubt that most men would place a top priority on covering up this sensitive part of the anatomy to protect it from sun and scrapes. However, the men on this show, want very much  to share their little friend with the world.

Despite all of its flaws, or maybe because of them,  the show is actually fun to watch.  It does teach you something about human nature.  The contestants  come to the show with various level of survival skills and we see which skills are useful and which are not.  It turns out that the most important skill is a positive attitude and the ability to encourage others. The people who get along and work together do well regardless of their basic skills.  Those who argue with each other end up miserable.

Of course, if you are ever really find yourself in a situation like this, here are  are the  3 easy to follow steps which will keep you and your partner alive.

  • Step 1 – Make weapons from the sticks and rocks all around you. Spears are easy to make and are very effective.
  • Step 2 – Use your weapons to attack the Director, Camera & Sound Crews. Take their food, clothing and water which they have been selfishly not sharing with you.
  • Step 3 – Put some damn clothing on!

We rate this show Two stars **

Naked In the Woods

Michelle slipped into the pond and felt the tingle of the cool water on her naked body. It had taken three hours of rough hiking for  Michelle to get to her secret place in the woods.

Michelle had found it by accident at the beginning of the summer, when she had gone off-trail in search of rare plants. The hikes were part of the research for her PhD dissertation in Botany. Her dissertation had the unexciting title “The encroachment of invasive species on the natural ecosystem of upstate New York and the negative impact on the water supply  to New York City”

marriage 1Michelle had been very proud of the first draft and was devastated at the criticism leveled by her PhD adviser Dr. Paul Coelho.

“It’s a little dry Michelle,” Dr. Coelho had said. “You have statistics and graphs, but you need to really feel the subject. To be a real botanist you have to understand that these plants are alive and vulnerable. You have to be in touch with them and love them. You have to be willing to be naked and vulnerable in the woods like they are.”

Michelle was both  insulted and alarmed. She did not like Dr. Coelho’s talk about being naked. Was this the stodgy old Professor’s attempt to seduce his young student?  Yuck!

The day after Dr. Coelho’s lecture, Michelle went further upstate and further into the woods than she had ever been before. She had her thick jeans and heavy hiking boots on. Strapped to her was the large and heavy backpack with the vials for the plant and water samples she would take.

By the time Michelle happened upon the pond, she was exhausted, hot and sweaty.  She put down her backpack and lay on the warm dirt next to the pond. She let her hand dangle in the water, and the pond  felt cool and tempting.

Looking around to see that she was entirely alone, Michelle made an impulsive decision.

“Well, if he wants me naked that’s what he is going to get, “she said out loud

Michelle took off her dusty boots and socks;  her jeans her flannel shirt and stood there wearing nothing but her bra and panties.  She was about to dive in wearing those, but then decided she did not want to be hiking home in a soggy bra and panties. She slipped them off, hung them on a tree branch and stood in the woods completely nude.

As she stood there naked, she was suddenly afraid at how vulnerable she was.  Michelle was not large or muscular and had no weapons. She was small and soft and had no real way to defend herself against anything that choose to attack her. “Like the plants,” she thought.

Naked in the Woods

Naked in the Woods

Michelle almost put her clothing back on, but the cool water looked too inviting for her to chicken out now.  She slipped into the pond and felt  the wonderful sensation of it enveloping her.  It was as if she was the only person in the world.

She stood naked in the water and rested her hands on a tree branch that was just above her head.  Her breasts peaked out of the water and the Sun felt warm on them while the cool water played around her thighs and between her legs.

Michelle stayed that way for a long time, in an almost trance-like meditative state.

After that first time, Michelle came back to her secret spot every week. Her PhD dissertation progressed throughout the Summer, and Dr. Coelho was very pleased with the results. She never told him about her naked visits to the pond. She never told anyone. Somehow that would spoil it.

Finally,  Fall came and it got too cold to go into the water. Winter came, and Michelle continued to visit the pond each week. The pond froze, some plants died and the trees went into their long nap.

But Michelle knew that when Summer returned she would be back. Naked and soft and vulnerable, yet somehow unafraid of the harsh World beyond the woods.

The Original Naked Swim – Tarzan & Jane in 1934

In 1934, Maureen O’Sullivan shocked  movie audiences by appearing completely naked on the Big Screen. This was no quick flash where you were not certain what you had seen. She was swimming naked for almost 4 minutes in Tarzan and His Mate.

Tarzan 3

It turns out that there are stories withing stories surrounding this scene.  For one thing, the woman swimming naked was not actually Maureen O’Sullivan.

Tarzan 21It turns out that it was actually an Olympic swimmer by the name of Josephine McKim.

Tarzan 1

Audiences should  have been tipped off by the incredible  amount of time the couple spends underwater and how well they both swim. Johny Weismuller (Tarzan) was also an Olympic swimmer. Of course, the audience was probably too stunned by the nudity to be paying attention to the couple’s  swimming skills.

1934 audiences were astounded that Jane was obviously completely nude

1934 audiences were astounded that Jane was obviously completely nude

But Maureen O’Sullivan herself is no prude in the film. She spends a good deal of time wearing a very revealing loincloth that would have been considered obscene if not for the prior nude swimming episode.

Tarzan 10

It is not clear exactly how individual audience members felt, but it is clear how the “moral authorities” of the day reacted. The Catholic Legion Of Decency condemned the film and

Tarzan 5

various State agencies spoke of pulling it from the theaters.  What finally happened is that there ended up being 3 versions of the film in circulation simultaneously.  In what were considered the most conservative parts of the country, the film had Jane swimming fully clothed. In most parts of the country, she was topless. In a few select theaters (mostly in New York City) the totally naked swimming scene was left in the film in its entirety.

Maureen O'Sullivan in Tarzan and His Mate

Maureen O’Sullivan in Tarzan and His Mate

Somehow, with all the focus on the swimming scene, the parts of the movie with Jane running around in her loincloth got left in all the versions.

Tarzan and His Mate perform an underwater ballet with Jane naked

Tarzan and His Mate perform an underwater ballet with Jane naked

However, the Moral Authorities were not satisfied. This film lead to increased censorship of movies in the U.S. and it was decades before audiences saw this much flesh on screen again.

Tarzan and Jane in a romantic moment in Tarzan and His Mate

Tarzan and Jane in a romantic moment in Tarzan and His Mate

Viewing the movie from a modern perspective, the naked swimming scene still holds up as being  beautiful and artistic. The only unrealistic part of the scene, in fact, is that Tarzan himself is not naked.  It makes no sense that in the middle of the jungle Tarzan would swim with a loincloth on, while his mate cavorted nude. However, male nudity was completely taboo in 1934. Even today there remains a double standard about male versus female nudity, which many actresses have complained about.

Jane and Tarzan in 1934

Jane and Tarzan in 1934

So if you want to see what was the talk of the country in 1934, take a look at Tarzan and His Mate. Most of the movie is silly, but the swimming scene is still great.

The Naked Swim – Chapter 4

“She performs naked Satanic rituals at night and  believes herself to be a witch? She told you that directly?” asked Dr. Eli  Epstein

“No Eli. Not directly. In fact, she states that people started rumors about her when she was a kid. She denies having anything to do with witchcraft. But what about the dead child and the evidence against her? It’s all very damning; wouldn’t you say?”, answered Spencer.

Dr. Eli Epstein and Dr. Spencer Casey were in deep conversation in Dr. Epstein’s  office.  It was exactly what you thought a psychiatrist’s office would look like. There were very comfortable chairs and sofas in soothing colors.  There were paintings on the walls of vast open landscapes in the spring. In the background there was soft classical music playing at a volume so low that your ears barely even registered that it was there. The entire room was carefully designed to make nervous patients feel at ease.

Eli leaned back in his big chair and stroked his grey beard thoughtfully. “It is very interesting that you used the religious term ‘damning’. The witch, especially the female witch is a very powerful symbol in Western Religion. The mere accusation used to get women killed.  Now, of course, the accusation that someone thinks she is witch is enough to label the woman as crazy. Remember that woman from Delaware who was running for Senate? She got labeled as crazy because in high school she once dated a guy who was interested in witchcraft. She even had to have a T.V. commercial that said, “I am not a witch.”

“Let’s stay focused on Jeanne here Eli. What about all the evidence against her in the death of her child?”

“What evidence Spencer? The toddler wandered out of the house on a very cold day while the mother-Jeanne- was asleep. He got lost in the woods and wandered further and further away until he died of exposure. That was the official cause of death after all. The mother is overwhelmed by grief and has never been the same since.”

“You’re forgetting about how the child was found. He has laying down on a tree stump surrounded by little sticks arranged in weird little symbols. What about that?”, said Spencer.

“I have been thinking a lot about that,” responded Eli. “Do you know that when people die of exposure the bodies always look very peaceful?  They get more and more tired as their body loses heat, until finally they just lay down and fall asleep and never wake up.  That is what the child did. He was curled up in a fetal position on a large flat tree stump. He was sucking his thumb.”

“Wow. You have really been looking into this Eli,” responded Spencer in a very surprised tone.  “But what about the sticks?”

“OK Spencer. Let’s suppose that Jeanne really did practice witchcraft. By the way, witchcraft and Satan worship are two completely  different things. She would have taught her son all sorts of ways to protect himself from danger, including arranging sticks in way to ward off the evil spirits. You told me that Jeanne said her child loved going into the woods and gathering sticks. You asked for my professional opinion and here it is. You can accept it or not. It’s just my opinion. I don’t think anyone killed little Jason. I think he wandered off outside on a February day to play in the woods and ended up getting lost and died.”

“But what about all the footprints in the snow?” answered Spencer. “If the boy just got lost and died why didn’t Jeanne just tell that to the police instead of a story about his being kidnapped by a Satanic cult?”

“Because she believes the story Jason. In her mind she believes it one hundred percent. As you know my practice specializes in grief. Grief and guilt do strange things to the human mind.  Your girlfriend Jeanne made a tragic mistake that ended up killing her only child. She fell asleep without shutting the door completely. Her child woke up and got out of the house while she was still asleep. Jeanne’s mind can’t accept that mistake. As a protective mechanism her mind has made up the story of a kidnapping cult so that she does not have to face her own tragic error.”

“Where do you think the footprints in the snow came from?” asked Spencer.

“From Jeanne, of course. It probably did not snow until after the child wandered off. When Jeanne woke up she frantically realized the boy was gone. She went outside to look for him and saw the snow. In her panic she probably couldn’t find her own boots so she put on a pair of her husband’s. She ran around frantically for a long time searching. That’s why there were so many prints.”

“And she doesn’t even remember doing this?” asked Spencer.

” Their is no grief in the world more devastating than that which comes from having  made a mistake that killed your own child.  And it happens all the time, in an instant. Parents back the SUV out of the garage and don’t see the child playing  behind it. People leave a window open and the baby crawls out of it. Toddlers stick a butter knife into an uncovered electrical outlet. It happens all the time Spencer.”

Spencer and Eli sat in silence for a long time. Finally Spencer stood up and they shook hands. “Thanks Eli. What can I do to help her?”

“Just be there Spencer. That’s all you can do. Her mind will tell her the truth eventually, but not until she has healed enough to be ready. Don’t try to force it on her.”

Spencer left the building and slowly walked back to his apartment. That morning Jeanne had packed her bag and said she was going back to Canada. His little apartment was somehow going to seem way too big with Jeanne gone.

He opened the door and there was Jeanne. He went over and sat next to her.

They sat there in the dark apartment not touching and not looking at each other for a full ten minutes without saying a word.

Finally, Jeanne said softly. “I’ve lied to you alot.”

“I know.”

“No. I mean I lie all the time about everything. Who I was, what I’ve done, even who I can be. It’s mostly lies with maybe some truth mixed in. Sometimes I don’t even remember what’s a lie and what isn’t. Sometimes I am not really sure what’s actually happened in my life and what hasn’t. ”

Spencer turned and looked at her and said, “I will help you find out Jeanne. I love you. The real you. You’re not crazy and you’re not a killer. The truth is that I’m your lover and you are mine.  When you are ready to find the truth, I will be there with you.”

Jeanne turned her head and looked at Spencer like she was seeing him for the first time. “I trapped you. Do you know that?  I knew you were a doctor and I wanted that and I set up the whole naked swim to trap you. I wanted to get away from my life and get a whole new one with a rich doctor. Do you still love me now?”

“Yes.  I still love you. Don’t you think I wanted to be trapped?”, said Spencer as he stroked her hair.

“I want to talk about the rest. I want to talk about the cold and little Jason. I will. I will. But not now. Right now I am just so tired.” Jeanne put her head on Spencer’s shoulder and closed her eyes. Just then she said, “Remember when I told you about how strong my ex-husband Billy was?”

“Yes, I remember.”

“You’re stronger. In everything that matters, you’re so much stronger.” Then Jeanne fell into a deep sleep, as Spencer watched over her.

The Naked Swim – Chapter 3

Jeanne was completely naked, sitting cross-legged on the hardwood floor surrounded by a circle of lit candles.  The apartment was completely dark except for the light from the candles. The beautiful blue dress Jeanne had worn to the disastrous dinner with Karen was hung neatly in the closet. It looked like she had drawn on the wooden floor  with chalk. It was too dark to see what exactly what she had drawn.

“What are you doing?” asked Spencer gently.

“Praying. I am praying for my murdered little boy, ” answered Jeanne without looking up, She continued to rock gently back and forth and she seemed to be either chanting or praying softly.

witch 1

“Let me help you though this Jeanne. I am a doctor. We study extreme grief in medical school.”

“Yea. Well studying  grief is not exactly the same thing as having grief, is it doctor? You can tell your sister she won. She found my weakest point and she stuck the knife right into it. You can tell her the crazy Canadian chick will be leaving tomorrow.”

Spencer stepped over the candles and sat down on the floor next to Jeanne. He put his arms around her and said. “That’s not what I want. I love you and I want you here with me. I told my sister that if she can’t accept that then I don’t want her in my life until she does.”

Jeanne smiled slightly and looked into Spencer’s eyes. “She told you all of the shit they say about me on the internet didn’t she?”

“Karen said a lot of strange nonsense. I told her I was not going to believe it and walked out of the restaurant. By the way, I stuck her with the whole dinner bill.”

Jeanne stood up and stretched. Then she walked over the the bed and lay down. She patted the mattress and said. “Come next to me Spencer. Lay back and let me tell you everything there is to know about Jeanne Sedola. Just lay back, close your eyes and listen without interrupting”

Spencer lay down and Jeanne started her story. She talked in a gently soothing voice, as if she were telling a bedtime story to a child.

“I was never smart. Not like you and your sister. You probably got straight As to be able to get into a good college and then medical school. I was lucky if I could get a C. But even though I was struggling, the other girls in the school were jealous  of me. You see, I was pretty, very pretty and that made them hate me. Of course, the boys all were nice since they wanted to fuck me. They were nice until they found out I wouldn’t do anything with them. Then they hated me too.

It was very rural where I grew up. Vancouver Island  is as different from Manhattan as you can imagine. I used to go hiking in the woods alone alot. I had no friends, my mother was not married, and she was basically an alcoholic. So I went into the woods alone whenever I could. I loved seeing the animals. Once I even saw a wolf. I wasn’t scared of him. I just thought he was beautiful.

I even went into the woods at night. I would bring a lantern and a book to read. I just wanted to get out of our little house where my mother would drink and  watch T.V. until she passed out.

Then the rumors started at school. Kids had seen me going into the woods at night and they started a rumor that I was a witch.”

Spencer could not help interrupting. “A witch? Come on Jeanne, this isn’t 1600. No one believes crap like that.”

“That’s what I thought, ” said Jeanne. “But you can’t believe how cruel kids in a small rural town can be.  No one actually believed I was a witch. What they did believe was that I was a crazy chick who thought she was a witch. People started taping pictures of witches to my locker. The Assistant Principal even called me in to ask if I would like to see a psychologist. You see, even the adults believed the rumor that I was crazy and thought myself to be a witch. Then it all stopped.”

“How?” asked Spencer. “How did it all stop?

“I met Billy. He was a commercial fisherman. He was older than me, and I met him down on the dock one day. He was real nice to me. He was big, real big and incredibly strong.”

Jeanne saw a frown on Spencer’s face, so Jeanne said. “Don’t get jealous Spencer. You are very strong for a doctor. But Billy hauls nets and traps and ropes in the freezing cold all day every day year after year. It’s like his body is made out of steel. Even the other fishermen are a little afraid of him.

So anyway, Billy and I started dating and people stopped saying bad things about me. I think he went around town and warned people to shut up, but I can’t be sure. All I know is that as soon as I became his girl, I was suddenly safe. I was with him as often as I could be. He would put his huge arm around me as we walked, and my head barely made it up to his shoulders. I wasn’t the crazy Witch Girl anymore. I was Billy’s girl and everyone treated me with respect.”

Jeanne lay back in the bed, and closed her eyes. Spencer though she was asleep, and put a blanket on her. Then, still with her eyes closed she continued her story.

“I graduated from high school- just barely.  I got a job at the fish factory and continued to see Billy, whenever he was not out on his boat. I bet for a heart surgeon like you that sounds like a pretty boring life, eh?”

“No,” replied Spencer gently. “It sounds like a nice life. What happened to it?”

“Well, I got careless, an so I got pregnant.  I was just 18. Billy insisted we get married, so we did and I became Jeanne Sedola.”

For the fist time it occurred to Spencer that he did not know Jeanne’s maiden name.

“What were you before you were Mrs. Sedola?”

“Eastman, Jeanne Eastman. I should have kept that name. I like it better. I guess I should  change it back, but there’s a lot of paperwork. Anyway, Billy and I got married and 9 months later Baby Jason was born.”

Jeanne’s eyes started to fill up with tears at the mention of the baby. She lay quietly for a long time and then she continued.

“I moved into Billy’s place which was a tiny little house by the woods, way out of town. He never had a big place since he spent so much time on his boat. I quit my job at the factory. I wasn’t earning much and it would have cost me more to pay someone to watch the baby than I could make at work.

Billy was out on the boat fishing more than ever. He wanted to make as much money as possible now that he was a father. It was a solid boat and he could stay out at sea for a long time if he had to. So I was alone with Jason most of the time. Totally alone. ”

“That must have been rough on you,” said Spencer.

“No. I liked it. It was even more fun when Jason became a toddler.  I would take him for trips into the woods and he loved it. He would watch the birds, and pick up little sticks. He was a real outdoors-man.  He was strong and healthy too-like his father Billy.

Then one cold day in February, Jason had I were both indoors. It was too cold to go for a walk. Billy was down at the docks working on his boat’s engine. I played little games with Jason in the house, then put him down for a nap. He fell asleep quickly, so I took a nap too.

JAN 2015 WINTER 007

I woke up about an hour later because I was shivering with the cold. The door to the house was wide open and Jason was not in his bed. I thought that somehow he must have woken up, gotten the door open and wandered outside.

I panicked. It was so cold, and the ground was covered in deep snow. There were footprints in the snow, but they were from adults not a child’s.”

“Adults? Like more than one?” asked Spencer.

“The police said it was four or possibly five people. I called the police, I called Billy, I even called my Mom. They had search parties going before it even got dark. The RCMP even brought in dogs and a helicopter.”

“The RCMP?” asked Spencer.

“Royal Canadian M outed Police. They never gave up never.” Jeanne suddenly sat up in bed and had a frightened look in her eyes, like she was back there on that day. Then she looked down and realized that her breasts were still exposed. Suddenly embarrassed, she got up and pulled on a T-Shirt.  She paced the apartment room for almost five minutes, working up the courage to say what came next.

“They found his body deep in the woods. He was laid out on a tree stump. The RCMP said there were symbols  and  markings all around. Little Jason had been killed in some sort of Satanic ritual.  I never went to see the place. I never even looked at the pictures.” Then Jeanne just stood in the middle of the room sobbing.

Spencer walked over and enveloped her in a hug. “That’s the most horrible thing I ever heard.” He knew as a doctor that he should be able to say something more comforting, but he just could not think of what it could be. What could he possibly say or do to help sooth that sort of anguish? So Spencer just stood there for a long time holding Jeanne in his arms. Finally he lead her over the to bed. Jeanne was exhausted from telling the story and she fell into a deep sleep.


The next day at  the hospital, Jason’s sister Karen insisted on having lunch with Jason as always, even though he was still furious with her. Jason told the who story of the little boy’s murder. “So big sister. I hope you are really proud of yourself for making Jeanne re-live the worst period of her life.”

Karen was afraid she may lose her brother forever, but she knew she had to ask, “Did Jeanne tell you the rest of it?”

“The rest?” asked Spencer. “Jeanne did tell me at breakfast this morning, that  they never found the murders. It is still an open case That must make it even worse for her.”

Karen looked Spencer in the eyes and gently rested her hand on his. “Did she tell you that she is still the main suspect for the murder?”

“What? That’s absurd! There were multiple people. Multiple footprints. The body was miles away.”

“Spencer. Listen to me. The were multiple footprints but they were all the same boots.  Like someone had walked back and forth many times to make it look like there was more than one person. The police also said there was something odd about the footprints. Like a small light person wearing boots too big. The police think maybe Jeanne was wearing her husband’s boots to confuse the police.”

“It sounds to me like the police were just too damn lazy to do their job,” said Spencer angrily.  “And what about all the Satanic stuff?”

“Did she tell you she is a witch? asked Karen”

“She’s not a witch God Damn it!” said Spencer so loudly that some of the other people in the hospital cafeteria looked over. Then he lowered his voice. “Kids made up that rumor when she was in high school, and it stuck.”

“It’s not a rumor Spence. The police said her house was crammed full of books on witchcraft. She had books on spells and potions and ritual sacrifices.  Even her husband finally admitted that Jeanne practiced witchcraft daily and took the child into the woods to teach the boy spells. Her husband said she used to gather plants from the woods and cook up some sort of potion. She would rub it all over the baby’s body each night. She said it would make him invincible to pain of sickness. It would even keep him warm in a freezing Canadian forest.”

“Where are you getting this shit!”, yelled Spencer. “From anonymous posts on the internet?”

“From the Canadian police Spence. I called and spoke to the Inspector on the case.  He was real interested to find out that Jeanne had left the country. We spoke for a long time.”

“That’s it!” said Spencer. “I and leaving.” He stormed out of the cafeteria, and down the halls of the hospital. He was so upset at his sister he could not think straight.

Spencer paced the halls and kept going over and over in his mind the horrible things Karen had said. But what upset Spencer even more was what he remembered from the night before. He remembered coming into his apartment and finding Jeanne naked in a circle of candles chanting. The burned down candles and the symbols on the floor were still there the next morning. Spencer had taken a a picture of it all and had then looked up on the internet what it meant.  Jeanne had said she was praying, but that was only a sort of half truth. The chants, symbol writing  and  candles were something else.

Something only a witch would do.

The Naked Swim Chapter 2

Jeanne was completely naked; doing exercises on  a pink Yoga mat. Spencer always hated waking up early but this morning he was glad he did. When he sat up in bed and looked across his small apartment the first thing he saw was Jeanne.

Spencer thought about saying something clever, but he did not want to do anything that might make her stop. It was  an incredibly erotic scene. By the time Jeanne was finished her toned body was glistening with sweat.

Jeanne stood up and walked over to the bed. Spencer reached out to her naked breasts but she step back just far enough to be slightly out of reach, and laughed.

“Don’t you have an early shift at the hospital today, doctor Casey? teased Jeanne.

“We have time.” pleased Spencer.

“No we do not. No quickies for this girl.”

Jeanne stayed out of reach but showed no signs of putting any clothing on. Finally she said. “Well-  we both do have to take showers and it would be a shame to waste all that water by taking them separately.”

“What happened to that shy Canadian girl I met on vacation?” teased Spencer.

“Oh she’s still here. She just happens to be going into the shower right now. Care to join me?”

Spencer jumped out of bed, and stumbled on the clothing scattered across  the apartment floor, as he chased Jeanne into the shower.


Later that day, Spencer was in the cafeteria of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital having lunch with his sister Karen.

Karen had been the Financial Administrator at the hospital for a long time. She was the type of no-nonsense woman that even the top doctors were afraid to cross.

“I can’t believe you brought her back from vacation. That is the one thing I specifically warned you not to do.”

“What do you have against her Karen? You haven’t even met her yet. You don’t know anything about her.”

“Either do you! That’s my point. A pretty girl flashed a little flesh and you believe anything she says. You guys all think below the waist.” Then Karen stood up an kissed him on the cheek. Well, thanks for lunch little brother.  I have to get back to working on next year’s budget. The government is cutting our funding again.”


Spencer sighed as Karen walked away. He was still certain that Jeanne would win Karen over the moment they met.

Karen Casey went back to her office, sat down at her large desk and pushed all the budget papers aside. She decided to work on a more important project. Karen turned on her computer and started typing furiously on the keyboard. She was going to find out exactly who this Jeanne Sedola of Vancouver Island Canada really was.


Nine hours later Karen and Spencer were once again  sharing a meal. However, this time it was  in a very fancy French restaurant and Jeanne was with them. Karen had invited them both, saying she wanted to “get to know” Jeanne.

Karen’s real plan, however, was to expose Jeanne for the little gold-digging tramp she really was in front of Spencer. With any luck, the little slut would be back on a plane to the Great White North by the end of the week.

Karen had a detailed plan of which the expensive restaurant was  just  a part. Karen would show Spencer that Jeanne was just  an uneducated hick. She would not know how to dress or act or order in a four star New York restaurant. Spencer would see how inappropriate Jeanne would be as a doctor’s wife.

Then Karen would hammer home the fact that it was totally impractical for Jeanne to remain in New York. She could not legally get a job, and it takes years for anyone to get a green card. She would be a drag on Spencer’s already limited income.  Also, as Spencer started doing more surgery, he would be at the hospital more and more. Jeanne would have nothing to do but hang around a cramped apartment all day every day. By the end of the dinner, Karen knew that both Jeanne and Spencer would see it was time to end this vacation romance. If none of those tactics worked, Karen was prepared to use the “nuclear option.”

The dinner was not working out as Karen had planned. Karen had arrived first and was seated at the table having her second glass of wine when Jeanne and Spencer arrived. Spencer was wearing a baggy grey suit that was so wrinkled it looked like he had stored wrapped in a ball inside a plastic bag.

Jeanne, on the other hand, was wearing a brand new, gorgeous blue dress, and spiked black heels.  Her luxurious brown hair flowed halfway down her back. As she appeared, every male head in the restaurant turned to look at her. When she and Spencer walked towards the table, the way Jeanne moved made it  obvious she she was not wearing a bra.

Karen stood up and she and Jeanne did the obligatory “air kisses”.

“Jeanne, how nice to finally meet you. What a beautiful dress. Did you have it with you on vacation?”

“Oh no. I got it today in Soho while Spencer was on call at the hospital.”

Karen knew she had her opening. Jeanne was already spending a lot of money that neither she nor Spence could afford.  This is perfect.  Karen knew from personal experience that most relationships break up because of money problems.

“Soho. Really?”, said Karen. “That must have cost a fortune.”

“Oh no, it was free,” answered Jeanne sweetly. “There’s a new place called Charline’ s that was looking for what they called a combination of salesgirls and models. We get the clothing to wear and then try to push it on the tourists. I get a salary and commission. We are supposed to wear the clothing off-hours too and then tell people all about the store when they ask about the outfits.

“UN-fucking believable”. Thought Karen. “But-but what about work permits and visas?” stammered Karen.

“The store is paying me under the table for now, and is also working on getting me all the work papers.”

Karen was thinking about possibly getting rid of Jeanne by calling the IRS.  Then the waiter arrived at the table.  This was the part of the plan where Jeanne was supposed to make a fool of herself ordering. After all, Canadians think High Cuisine  is when you put brown gravy on Fries.  Then Jeanne started speaking to the waiter in fluent French.

Karen was furious at herself for forgetting about Canadian’s and French.  She knew that Jeanne was probably speaking French with some absurd accent, but since Karen only spoke English there was no way to know.

“Isn’t she great?”, said Spencer, with a broad smile.

The dinner progressed, and the food was excellent. Karen was on her fourth glass of wine by the time the main course arrive, and her speech was starting to slur slightly. Spencer and Jeanne sat very close to each other, and kept whispering cute little secrets to each other and giggling.

But Karen knew, she just knew that Jeanne was bad news for her little brother. Karen realized it was time to stop pussyfooting around and bring out the nuclear weapons.  Karen leaned in towards  Jeanne and sweetly said,

“So Jeanne; Spence tells me you are recently divorced. That must be rough for you.”

Jeanne was not fooled for a minute. She had sized up Karen an an enemy within five minutes of meeting her.  She was not fooled by the fake smile. All through the salad course, Karen had been peppering her with supposedly innocent questions. Jeanne remembered from High School being taught about the Spanish Inquisition.  She felt like this must have been what it was like. “Where did you go to school? Are your parents still alive? Have you thought about going on to college?” Karen’s questions went on and on. With the divorce question, Jeanne decided it was time to strike back.

“Yes, going through the divorce has been rough,” answered Jeanne cheerfully.  “But it must have been so much rougher for you. Spencer tells me that your husband ran off to Europe with some young nurse from your hospital, and that he even stole money from the company where he worked. That must have been devastating for you. It’s like something you would see on a T.V. soap opera. I feel so badly for you. You are such a nice person.”

Jeanne gave a sparking sympathetic smile as the said this. Karen looked down at her own steak knife and for a fraction of a second seriously considered stabbing Jeanne in the chest.

“This is so great,” beamed Spencer. “I just knew the two of you would become friends”. He was genuinely happy, and completely oblivious to the War which was taking place in front of his eyes between the two women he loved.

Over dessert and coffee Spencer finally took over the conversation. He spoke in detail about the fact that he had been allowed to assist in a heart valve replacement surgery that day. It was a delicate procedure and the Chief Surgeon had praised his performance.

Karen had been quiet while Spencer described the surgery in detail. When he was done with his story she quietly said,


“What was that?” asked Spencer.

“Kids!” repeated Karen louder than was necessary. “I was asking Jeanne if she has any kids. She was married for five years. It’s a normal friendly question from one female to another.” Karen realized that she was drunk and that she was appearing to be a little aggressive.  But Karen was not going to miss asking the one question to which she already knew the answer.  Karen had spent three hours on the computer researching Jeanne and now was the time to spring the trap.

“One,” answered Jeanne, looking very pale as she said it. “Little Jason. Such a sweet boy. Strong and  happy with a big smile and a cute laugh.”

After a minute’s silence, Spencer said. “That’s wonderful Jeanne. When do I get to meet him?”

Tears rolled down Jeanne’s cheeks as she answered, “I wish you could honey. He is gone. Almost a year now. Buried on a beautiful  hill. You can see the water in the distance from his grave.”

Karen almost felt sorry for Jeanne but it was too late to stop now. Time to move in for the kill.  “What were the circumstances of his death?” asked Karen.

Jeanne flashed Karen a look of pure hatred. Jeanne knew that Karen must have read all those witch stories about Jeanne the internet. All these thousands of mile way and there was no escape. There never would be.

“Circumstances?”, said Jeanne. “Sitting here in a warm restaurant in the middle of a large city, you could not possibly understand the circumstances of a boy’s death in the  frigid woods on an isolated Island. ‘Bizarre, sadistic and ritualistic.’ Those were the words the reporters used most often to describe the circumstances of my little boy’s death.”

Spencer was too stunned to talk, and even Karen was silent. Jeanne got up from the table and walked quickly out of the restaurant. Every man in the room watched her leave. If anything, the tears rolling down her face made her even more beautiful.

Spencer was about to follow her, but Karen placer her hand on his arm and said. “Sit down Spence. You need to know the truth. I spent the afternoon researching Jeanne. Let me tell you what the people in Vancouver Island call her, and what they say really happened to  her little boy.

Spencer wanted to follow Jeanne, but a part of him needed to know what Karen had to say. He knew how people could say hurtful things and he wanted to be prepared for what people might say about his new lover. So Spencer sat down and decided he was prepared to hear the worst.

He was not prepared. Nothing could have prepared him.

The Naked Swim

“I went topless on the beach this morning,” whispered Jeanne shyly  at breakfast. With her Canadian accent she pronounced “top” like “tope”.

The way she said it in such a timid way it  made Spencer smile. It also made him picture what she must have looked like on the beach. Jeanne was 23 years old and beautiful. She had long brown hair, green eyes and a figure that was athletic yet voluptuous.  He had met her on his first  day at the Caribbean resort and had made a point of timing his breakfasts so that he would “just happen” to be in the buffet line when she was.

Jeanne on the Beach topless

Jeanne on the Beach topless

A lot of guys at the resort had been trying to pick up Jeanne. She always smiled politely and explained that she had just been through a nasty divorce and really needed some time alone.

Unlike the other guys Spencer took it very slow and as a result the two of them ended up sitting and talking at breakfast each morning. Then Jeanne went off to a secluded part of the beach to sit under an umbrella  and read.  Spencer never tried to follow her and join her under the umbrella. So far every guy that had done this had been quickly rebuked.

“Jeanne, you surprise me, ” teased Spencer. “You have been rejecting men all week and then you paraded around in front of them topless. What a tease.”

“I did not parade,” answered Jeanne. “I got up very early and went out on the beach just as the sun was coming up and it was still empty. I could never go topless when anyone was out there, but I wanted to feel what it was like.”

“And what was it like?”

“It felt nice,” answered Jeanne, with her cheeks blushing red. “Can I tell you a secret?”

“Of course.”

“Tomorrow, if I have the nerve, I am going to do the same thing at the same time. Except this time I am going to get totally naked and go for a swim. Let’s face it. When I am back on Vancouver Island I will never do it. Well; have a nice day Spencer.”

With that, Jeanne picked up her bag, and headed to the beach. Spencer just sat there for a long time sipping his coffee. He had never been very good at figuring out what women wanted, and he was very unsure why Jeanne had mentioned naked swimming tomorrow morning. Was she just making casual conversation or was she somehow subtly  inviting him to join her tomorrow? Then he thought of a worse possibility. Maybe she thought of him as such a friend that it would never even occur to her that he might be interested in her sexually. Like the way groups of really good looking girls always seemed to have one gay guy they included in their conversations.  Maybe he had been taking it so slowly that she thought he was gay?

After breakfast Spencer realized there was only one thing to to. He did not want to but he was going to have to call his sister Karen and ask her to interpret Jeanne’s actions. Karen was 8 years older and his whole life Spencer had depended on her to explain all the social cues that Spencer missed.

“You’re an idiot Spencer,” said Karen over the phone. This girl is totally trying to hook you. Telling you when she is going to be naked on the beach. What a crock! Girls don’t say things like that by accident. She planned it out exactly. Like the way a woman “just happens”  to have a towel slip off when she comes out of a shower. She is planning on going home with the rich Doctor Spencer Casey. She didn’t go to the Caribbean to get a tan. She went there to become a doctor’s wife.”

“First of all,” said Spencer “as you very well know I am not rich. I am still a Resident and I took every penny out of savings just to take this one week vacation. Secondly, she does not even know I’m a doctor.  I don’t like telling people I’m a  doctor when I’m on vacation. Everybody treats you differently and then they start telling you about all their aches and pains.”

“All right. Calm down Spence. Tell me what you really know about this girl besides how great she would look with no clothing on.”

“Well, she got married at 18 and apparently her husband was a real jerk. She stuck with him for 5 years and came down here on vacation after a terrible divorce. She took what little money she got from the divorce and used it for this the vacation. She just needed to get away. She lives in a little factory town on Vancouver Island. Just about everyone  in the town works for the fish processing plant.”

“OK,” said Karen, “So she has a high school education at best and a 5 year old kid. Have fun with her, but make sure you leave her behind when the vacation is over.”

“She never said anything about a kid. Where are you getting that?”

“Spence. Men are such idiots. The only reason a girl gets married at 18 is that she is pregnant. What does she do for a living?”

“I don’t know. She said she plays piano. Maybe she teaches it.”

“OK Little brother. Have fun on vacation, but watch out for this Canadian hick. ”

“Wait! Don’t hang up yet. Was she hinting for me to join her for her naked swim tomorrow morning?”

“Of course she was Spence! What does she have to do; write you a letter? See you when you get back.”

After the phone call Spencer was more confused than ever. He was annoyed at how suspicions Karen always was of everything and how she thought she still needed to protect him like when he was little.  Spencer decided to forget about Jeanne for the rest of the day. He went down to the dock and signed up for a sailing lesson, hoping that would take his mind off Jeanne.

An hour later, Spencer was out on the water attempting to sail a Sunfish, while Jeanne was high up on the beach laying on a lounge chair under a palm tree.  In her hand was not a book, but her iPhone. Jeanne did not have much formal education, but she had mastered how to use the internet well enough to quickly check out every guy who had approached her this week. A short chat with any man gave her more than enough information to look up all his important details. On her first day at the resort Jeanne realized she had hit the jackpot with Doctor Spencer Casey.

She liked that he was shy and did not flaunt that he was a doctor. But in their casual breakfast conversations she had been able to get out of him his full name, his age, where he had gone to college and where he lived. Once she had that, finding the rest on line had been easy. His profile was very impressive. Harvard medical school and a cardiac surgical Resident at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.  Jeanne figured that he probably had a ton of student loans and almost no money right now, but she  had the patience to wait. A New York heart surgeon would eventually  be making a lot of money. More than anyone in the smelly fish factory on Vancouver Island could ever imagine.

“Mrs. Jeanne Casey,” she said out loud. Then she tired out, “Doctor and Mrs. Casey.” Jeanne lay back on the lounge chair and smiled.

Jeanne had not lied much  to Spencer. Most of what  she told him was true. She had been married at 18 and had just been divorced at the age of 23. The only thing she lied about was when she told Spencer her ex-husband  Billy was a jerk. Billy  was actually a real nice guy. He could not understand why she wanted a divorce. He kept asking what had changed.

Over and over she tried to explain to Billy that the problem was that nothing had changed and nothing ever would. The same town with  same job in the fish factory, and seeing  the same people they had seen every day of their lives. All he had to do to keep her was change, but he just couldn’t.

The final straw was when Nancy Kavanaugh came home from college for a visit. Jeanne was so jealous she wanted to scream. “Nerdy  Nancy” that everyone used to make fun of in high school was now a pre-med student at the University of Toronto, and Jeanne was entering Accounts Payable invoices at the fish factory.

Jeanne lay back in her lounge chair and realized that she was getting angry just thinking about Nancy. Then she thought about Spencer and relaxed.  There were only three more days left on the vacation  so she had pick up the pace. Tomorrow would be the day she would allow Spencer to successfully make his move. He would show up on the beach tomorrow morning and she would “just happen” to come out of the water from her naked swim as he walked by. Jeanne hoped the water would not be too cold.

That night Spencer could barely sleep. He set an alarm to make  sure he got up early. He knew that by pure chance on this vacation he had met the woman he was meant to spend his life with.  She was the one. Beautiful, soft spoken and so very shy. He realized that she wanted him too, but could not just come out and say it. Her hints about the naked morning swim were  her way of saying it.

Tomorrow morning he was going to meet her on the beach and they would swim nude in the beautiful Caribbean and make love on the beach before another soul on the resort was even awake. Then he was going to convince her to change her flight and come back with him to New York. They would live in his little cramped apartment and be madly in love. Of course, when he finished his Residency and became a full-fledged heart surgeon they would be able to afford more.

Spencer fell asleep happier than he had even been before. Things were going to be wonderful. He was in love with Jeanne and he knew his sister Karen was going to love her too. Spencer slept and dreamed about the clear beautiful Caribbean water.