Better Than October - Chad Lutzke
Better than October - Chad Lutzke
Mrs. Johnson told us to turn to page seventy-seven, then gazed out the window with no further instructions, her eyes glassy and threatening tears.
The class waited patiently. We always did.
Kevin slipped me a note that claimed our teacher’s tits were better than Miss October’s. I didn’t believe it one bit and told him so with a shake of my head. No woman’s tits are better than Miss October’s. Not Miss November’s, December’s, or any other month. And certainly not our seventh-grade English teacher’s.
“I’ll prove it,” Kevin whispered.
Two nights later, we were at End Circle Drive, behind Mrs. Johnson’s house, a woman I’d only ever seen within the walls of Oak Hill Junior High, modestly dressed and with hair that matched her personality–tightly wound.
Kevin’s Saint Bernard, Boris, tagged along. It was the only way Kevin could sneak out of the
house. Boris was an outdoor dog, hated going inside. And whenever he’d spot Kevin leave,
regardless of the time of day, that dog would take to barking like he was on fire. Last Halloween, when we went to TP Mr. Ziegler’s house, Kevin took every precaution he could to evade Boris.He dressed all in black, slipped stealthily out the side door, and even went without shoes, wearing only his church socks. But that dog must have smelled him, because before you know it, Kevin’s being hauled back into the house by his dad, a backpack full of toilet paper strapped over his shoulder. He was grounded for a week after that.
When we got to Mrs. Johnson’s, we opened our packs. I brought my binoculars, and Kevin
borrowed his dad’s. They were Army issue. And if his dad found out, that’d be a grounding that would last the whole summer. Kevin also brought four sticks of beef jerky. “This may take a while,” he said. “We’ll need rations.”
He wasn’t lying. With Boris tied to a nearby tree, we sat hidden in the bushes for an hour before there was even any movement in the house.
“You know she killed her husband, right?” Kevin said. Eyes in the binoculars, mouthful of jerky.
“Yep. Pushed him right off the roof while he was looking at the stars.”
“No, serious,” he said. “She thought he was peeking in Nancy Petro’s windows with his
“How do you know that?”
“Dude, everybody knows that.”
“Then how come she’s not in prison?” I asked.
It was like hearing a ghost story around a campfire. A story reserved for only vulnerable
moments. And like most everything else Kevin ever told me, I didn’t believe it. At least, I tried not to.
Finally, a bedroom light came on, and there she was, our English teacher. She wore no bland blouse and loose slacks but a pink bathrobe. Just like Kevin said she would. And until that moment, I never realized how much difference a hairstyle can make. The usual nest she kept on her head, pinned with pencils or chopsticks, or whatever the hell they were, wasn’t there now. Her hair draped over her shoulders in long, thick waves that bounced when she walked, like cobras in a hypnotically seductive dance. She was like a whole different person. A whole different woman.
It was at that point I forgot all about Miss October and her perfect 34C’s. I mean, this was going to be the real deal. This was no magazine spread littered with fold lines and poked with staples. And if Mrs. Johnson stuck to the bath-time routine Kevin had taken note of, these would be my first real breasts.
“You can’t see in the bathroom cuz it’s that tiny window up high, but first she’ll run a bath, then she’ll fold the laundry on the bed. Then she’ll take care of the laundry. And once the tub’s full and she heads back to the bathroom, it’s showtime. It happens quick, but it’ll happen.”
My heart raced at the thought of seeing Mrs. Johnson in her birthday suit, witnessing something no other kid but me and Kevin would ever be privy to, and I knew either I’d love English class even more, finally scoring that A Mom and Dad were always harping on me about. Or I’d outright fail, being too distracted as I sat in the same room as a woman who might very well beat out Miss October.
We watched as Mrs. Johnson folded her clothes and arranged them in piles on the bed. When she folded a pair of black lace panties, Kevin elbowed me in the ribs. “Those tiny things, that’s what she wears in class,” he said.
I was gonna fail English. No question.
Mrs. Johnson grabbed a pile of clothes and took care of them, then another, until the bed was finally clear. And if I ever had any doubt about Kevin and his stories, like his grandfather being a prisoner of war who ate bugs to survive, his uncle inventing Velcro, or about Mrs. Johnson being a murderess with witch powers, I no longer questioned him. Because in the next beautiful moment, Mrs. Nadine Johnson let the pink bathrobe drop, revealing much more than just breasts. Neither of us said a thing. Our eyes were secured to the magnified flesh through the binoculars, and Kevin was right. It happened far too quick. Just long enough to secure an image for our teenaged masturbatory files at least through the rest of the year. Then, like a junkie needing just one more fix, Kevin proposed we stick the needle in deeper.
“Dude. Let’s go up there.”
“Take turns boosting each other up.” Kevin was talking about the small bathroom window about six feet off the ground. “It’s probably right over the tub.” His voice was an airy gust of
excitement. He sounded like a pervert, like a boob junkie. I agreed, and we left the binoculars in the bushes, along with Boris, who surprisingly didn’t bark,
while we crept with eager eyes through the shadows and toward that small portal into Heaven. Locking my fingers together, I boosted Kevin first. He stumbled against the house, and we held our breath, listening closely for the next few moments. Then he peeked through the window.
“Well?” I said.
“One sec,” he whispered.
I grunted and strained under the weight of him. Being at least twenty pounds heavier than me, he was no scrawny kid. He tried saying it was all muscle, but I’ve seen him with his shirt off. Muscle doesn’t deepen your bellybutton and hide your belt buckle. I had about thirty more seconds in me before I knew my hands would give.
“You see her or what?”
“Yeah. But I can’t tell what she’s doing, maybe shaving her legs.”
“Can you see her tits?”
“Sort of. She’s hunched over.”
Kevin hopped down and formed a step with his hands, launched me up. He didn’t struggle like I had. Maybe there was muscle under there.
The window was covered in steam, but through the dripping streaks of condensation I could
make out a blurred Mrs. Johnson. She was hunched over like Kevin said, fiddling with
something. I wouldn’t have been able to tell what it was were it not for Kevin’s suggestion about shaving her legs. It was a razor. Not the plastic kind my mother used but the one my father did, where it opens for the purpose of changing blades.
“Yeah.” I let the word barely escape. Being this close to her, any sound at all felt shotgun loud.
“What’s she doing?”
Mrs. Johnson set the razor down and lay back, eyes closed. Her legs were shiny and smooth like dolphin skin. Her breasts seemed to float, pointing directly at me like two pink eyes watching from below.
Then the water swirled with crimson.
The contrasting red against porcelain white was alarming, the source of which was obvious, but my mind searched for other alternatives: a spilled glass of wine, nail polish, or even
menstruation, something I knew very little about. But the water grew darker, and there was no more denying where the dark poured from, and that I was witnessing the breaking point of our beautiful English teacher.
I stepped down from Kevin’s hands. “Dude! She’s killing herself.”
“She cut her wrists!”
“Nuh huh. Let me see.”
I heard nothing else my friend said. My mind was on becoming a hero, saving another from a decision that would affect so many lives. A decision she would regret if only she could see the future, where things pass and days get brighter.
I searched the ground for a rock, finding several surrounding an evergreen bush. I grabbed one, and centering myself just below the bathroom window, threw it. Glass shattered, and I heard a scream. Kevin and I ran faster than either of us ever had a reason to before, and it wasn’t long before we realized we’d left Boris behind, who’d started in with a sad and lonely, betraying howl. He was now an informant–150 pounds of evidence that put us at the scene, yet neither of us turned back. All I could think of were those witch powers and what they might include, one of which I was sure could squeeze the life out of peering young boys whose parents don’t even know they’re gone.
We ran through lawns and hopped over fences, fleeing from the witch powers that may or may not exist. Lights bloomed over porches, and dogs from all over followed Boris’s lead, wailing under the moon. When we got to Kevin’s house, spending no time to catch our breath, we slipped inside and called 911, telling them what we’d seen. Minutes later, we heard sirens. Kevin did get grounded for the summer, and I was grounded for two weeks, though my parents let me watch as much TV as I wanted, and I could go on walks as long as I went by myself. “And no peeking in windows,” Mom would always remind me. That got old really quick.
It was my dad who didn’t seem that upset by what I’d done. I even heard him on the phone with a friend of his, telling the story of his son’s quest for breasts and laughing about it. Yet whenever. it was mentioned around me, he made sure to keep a stern face.
Rumor had it that before her bath, Mrs. Johnson had put her pet bird in the oven because it
wouldn’t stop saying her dead husband’s name. More rumors I tried not to believe.
I haven’t seen Mrs. Johnson since. She spent some time in the hospital, lost her job at Oak Hill and eventually moved. But three months later, I got a letter from her, reeking of perfume. There was no return address, but she’d signed it. The letter said:
Thank you. Life is good.
PS. Now, I’m watching you.
I’m not sure what the letter meant–if the thank you was sarcastic, or she was genuinely grateful. But for the past two years, I’ve developed the obsessive habit of closing every curtain I can. Every single night.
I’d like to think there’s no truth behind the rumors regarding murder and witchery, and that she really is thankful for what happened that night, that two horny boys saw more than tits and dolphin skin, and laid eyes upon real self-worth she seemed to overlook.
One thing I do know for sure. Miss October ain’t got nothing on her. Not even close.