The Duct Cleaner

© 2016. KT McColl

I heard a car door slam outside my house and hurried to the window to look. There it was — Acme Duct Cleaning Services. The magnitude of what I’d set in motion overwhelmed me at that moment and I debated not answering the door. Rude, I know, but there you have it. The call, made in pain and abject misery, seemed sensible at the time, but now… now it seemed hopelessly, unconscionably desperate.

A man exited the van. There he was, my duct cleaner. He checked something on his cell phone and then peered at the house. Please have the wrong address, I prayed, knowing that he was exactly where he had been ordered to go.

I backed away from the window. Moments later, I heard his tread on the steps. Then, as was inevitable, the doorbell. It gonged and could easily be heard outside. It was a big house gong and seemed entirely too ostentatious for our modest, post-war bungalow in the ‘burbs. Jim, my partner, seemed enamored with the sound. I’d acquiesced. Pick your battles, I’d reminded myself. I still hated the gong though.

The bell rang again, pulling me out of my reverie. The duct cleaner. I stepped slowly to the door, hoping that he would be gone by the time I got there. We’d both have tried. No harm, no foul.

As I pulled open the door, I noticed that he was on his cell just as my phone began to ring. He looked up, smiled, pushed a button, and the ringing stopped.

“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t hear.” I cursed myself as the words left my mouth. The dead had heard.

“No problem.” Lord, he sounded like Barry White, but one with an indefinable accent. It was a voice like melted butter.

I moved aside and gestured him in. I caught a whiff of his aftershave, didn’t feel like sneezing, and thanked some nameless deity for small mercies.

He stopped in the hallway and turned to me. A smile, disarming. I felt comforted by it, as though we were old friends and it was a smile I knew well. “So what seems to be the problem?” he asked.

The question threw me. Couldn’t there only be one problem? Ducts. He was a duct cleaner, after all. Perhaps he just needed me to say it. I gestured helplessly at my breasts. “It’s hopeless,” I said.

“Hmm.”

“I’ve tried. The baby just doesn’t have enough suction and the pump…” I shrugged, hoping he would understand about the pump. I despised it and how it made me feel like a cow on the line. “That’s why I called.”

“And you think you have blocked ducts?”

“I know I have blocked ducts.” My nipples were sore and the flesh of my boobs felt riddled with hard spots of tender agony. “I’ve been through this before.”

“I see. I can help you.”

He put down his bag. God knew what was in there. He wore beige coveralls, a disguise intended allay suspicions of the neighbors. His nametag said Muenda. As far as I could tell, he appeared to be fit without being muscle-bound. Lean. He grinned at me, a good-natured and easy flashing of gleaming white teeth against rich mahogany skin. He was handsome in a Sidney Poitier kind of way and perhaps a decade older than me. I felt immediately comfortable with him despite the awkwardness of the situation.

He had the decency not to ask why I had no one else to do this for me. I’d asked Jim once, but he’d said that he’d been weaned. He was above that kind of thing. Besides which, he was a recent convert to soy milk and there was no looking back for him. I suspected that he was hanging onto the illusion that my breasts were primarily objects of fantasy rather than function. The two could hardly co-exist and right now the function trumped everything else. He used to love my breasts and I used to love him loving them, but that was before the advent of spontaneous leaks, chapped nipples, and blocked ducts.

And so I had to take matters into my own hands and thus gave myself over to the hands of another.

“How does this work?” I asked. I was nervous. In the last few years, only babies (and Jim) had enjoyed my breasts. Muenda was a stranger, albeit one with talents. I’d googled him. He had great reviews, five-stars and breathless praise.

“I will take care of you,” he said. “It is important that you relax. You are not relaxed.”

I took a deep breath, allowed my shoulders to fall into their accustomed position. I smiled nervously. See? All relaxed now.

“You’ll be fine,” he said.

I tried to place the accent but couldn’t. “Where do you want me?”

“Wherever you feel the most comfortable.”

I led Muenda to the den. The bedroom was far too intimate.

“What now?”

“You are a little overdressed.”

I swallowed. “So you want me to undress?”

“Just the top. It’s usually easier that way.”

I laughed a little. I could hardly expect him to do this from a distance.

I started unbuttoning my blouse.

“I’ll do that for you,” he said.

“Full service…”

“Of course,” he said as he picked up where I’d left off.

He unbuttoned my blouse slowly, and though I’d resolved to treat the whole affair as a clinical exercise, I felt myself blushing, responding. When was the last time Jim had undressed me? Unwrapped me like a gift? I didn’t remember. I held my breath when my blouse opened and he spread the halves like a curtain.

“It happens sometimes,” he said, catching my gaze, “that women find my services more erotic than they might have expected.”

I hadn’t expected such a notion. “Erotic?”

He brushed the one side of my breast where an acorn of pain had rooted just behind the aureole. I drew a sharp breath.

“Ah,” he said, concern and empathy written on his features. Ever so carefully, he slipped my blouse off my shoulders and it fluttered to the floor. Looking down, I cursed myself for not having changed out of my nursing bra. If I’d thought of it, I would have worn one of my lacy numbers… Who was I kidding? Those lacy numbers were purely pre-lactation and at least a size too small.

“Yes, sometimes erotic. Some women want me to concern myself with their physical complaint. This is fine. However, for most women, the breast is as much erogenous as it is functional. Many can’t separate what I do for them physically from what I do for them erotically.” He shrugged disarmingly. “It is in the nature of the breast, so to speak. So I merely offer the option — if you wish, I can combine my service with an additional focus on your pleasure. Many women in your position prefer it so. The service is already, by its nature, intimate. The choice, of course, is entirely yours.”

“Oh…” I hesitated. “Some women, you say?”

He shrugged modestly. “Sometimes it helps. It’s less impersonal. One might as well derive some pleasure from the relieving of the pain, no?”

“Full-service duct cleaning?”

He laughed and I laughed too. “Something like that.”

“I’m not sure.” Prevarication is one of my worst traits. “If I say yes, can I stop you?”

He nodded seriously. “Of course, madam. At any time. It goes without saying. Just follow my lead. Enjoy. I’ll take care of everything. And in a little while, those lovely breasts of yours will be as soft and delightful as they were meant to be.”

“Just clean the ducts,” I said. For now remained unspoken but he heard it anyway.

He didn’t look disappointed and that somehow made me feel better.

At long last he reached behind me and unclasped my bra and eased it off me. My breasts felt heavy and tender without the support. Pendulous. Jim had called them that once, albeit in jest. I still hated the term, especially in relation to a part of my anatomy. And now I’d used the same word. They’d been perky before my first child, far less so now. Gravity and years had transformed them.

“You are a beautiful woman,” he said. “Truly.”

I could sense that me meant it. He’d taken a step back to admire them and there was appreciation in his eyes. It was harder to dismiss since it wasn’t just a line. I might have revelled in the unexpected compliment but at this moment, I was merely an embarrassed woman with aching boobs. “Where do you want me?”

He looked around the room. “There, I think. The sofa.” He hurried before me, arranging pillows by the armrest.

He arranged me to his liking. My shoulders rested on the armrest and my head hung slightly over the edge. My back was supported by the pillows. I relaxed. Then I remembered his words about how erotic this might be, words that my body had responded to without me even having realized it.

I hesitated. “I don’t fool around.”

“No worries. Presidential rules of engagement.”

I felt a little better. Still anxious though. Being naked with a stranger crossed a certain line, but my breasts didn’t care about lines. I debated asking him to get naked too in the interests of fairness but decided against it. It was perhaps safest to have at least one layer of clothing between us.

He knelt beside me and gently placed his slender, pianist fingers on the valley between my breasts. I willed myself to relax. This is what I’d signed up for, after all, and what he was expert in. I decided to give myself over to whatever it was that he had in mind.

The fingers swirled a dance, ever so lightly, over the surface of my breasts. I felt my skin goose pimple and my nipples respond, hardening in anticipation. Traitors, I thought.

I settled in, allowing an odd peace to suffuse me. The pain would soon be over, I told myself.

At length I felt his warm peppermint breath on the outside of my breast and before long, the first tentative touch of his lips. My breasts hadn’t been my own for too many months, but at that moment, under his careful, tender attention, I gladly took ownership of them again. His touch felt good.

I must have sighed as his lips gently closed around my nipple. Ah, the warmth. His tongue flicked over its puckered surface, and then, softly, ever so softly, he started sucking.

I placed a hand on his head, silently urging gentleness. He understood and toyed with me, easing me back into the moment before sucking again. His hand massaged the flesh of my breast. It ached a little, but the pleasure of it overrode the pain.

“That’s it,” I whispered.

Gradually, I felt my breast unknot. I felt my milk come, trickling out of me at the insistence of his mouth and tongue. He kneaded my flesh as he sucked, more insistently now. At once the milk seemed to flow more freely and I heard him swallowing, my breast emptying. The pain was largely gone, more of an echo than anything. God bless clean ducts, I thought with a surge of relieved joy.

Muenda continued to play with me even after it was clear that my pain had passed and I had nothing left to give. I let him. It felt good. Erotic, just as he’d said. I could give myself to the pleasure now, the blockage vanquished.

The fact was that his hungry sucking had unknotted both my breast and something else. I thought about what he’s said about some women finding this erotic. To my chagrin, it seemed that I was one of those women. He’d been latched onto my fun-bags (another word Jim had used) and it had been intimate. After having been purely functional for so long, a man finding pleasure at my breast warmed something in me. Perhaps I had the warm cockles that I’d heard so much about. My heart had warm cockles for Muenda. He’d relieved my pain, found pleasure in my body. And milk, which he seemed to enjoy.

At length he disengaged and looked at me. “You have another breast,” he observed.

“That one’s okay.”

He looked disappointed. “Would it be an imposition? We could call it preventative maintenance.”

“Is that what it would be?”

“Possibly,” he said. “It would certainly be my pleasure.”

I couldn’t deny him. “Mine too.”

So I turned on my side to offer him the other breast, the engorged needy one. I was beyond caring. He could suck me dry if that’s what he wanted. Hell, it was what I wanted. Besides, I could always make more.

As he warmed me up, I placed a hand on his. He stopped, caught my gaze. Neither of us said a word as I guided his hand away from my breast and down my abdomen. After a moment, I let go and he went on without me. With a lift of my hips, I slipped my skirt down my legs.

Done, I thought. I was now officially one of those women. Presidential rules, he’d said. Maybe that meant that whatever was about to happen would not register on the damning side of unfaithfulness.

His fingers finally found my fertile delta (I was reminded of the Leon Russell song) — the garden that I had allowed to grow wild and unkempt since the birth of my daughter — and delicately navigated the lush geography down there. He seemed to know the terrain and took his sweet, sweet time exploring it. He sucked and fingered, finally alighting on the button that my impatient squirming had forced him to acknowledge. And acknowledge it he did, drawing nectar from the well, depositing it where I most needed it, and massaging my slick arousal into it.

Ah.

The man was a master, and as I leaked milk from my breast into his mouth, I leaked elsewhere too. He’d masterfully established a connection between my breast and my pussy, allowing all sorts of jolts to travel between the two.

This time, his actions were different. There was no imperative. It was only pleasure, and it was — a pleasure to be sucked on by him, a pleasure to offer him the milk he seemed to enjoy so much. And there was the pleasure of his hand, which again had found that delightful little spot that banished guilt.

He didn’t suck on this breast immediately but toyed with it instead. Lips and tongue. I was certainly leaking, but what was another leak? I felt like I was leaking everywhere, like he could reduce a woman to fluid if he used his powers for evil. As it was, there was nothing evil about his fingers. His fingers were good, great. They teased and cajoled my clitoris, rubbing this way and that, learning from my body how it best liked to be handled and then doubling down on those movements. He coaxed and cajoled me to the crest with beckoning fingers and I gratefully followed. I was speaking in tongues by this point but I was sure he caught my gist even though I sounded like some gibbering, mooning idiot. I didn’t care because I was there… there at the precipice where it was windy with sensation. Gusty, until inevitably a mighty blast blew me off, wailing into the abyss.

Somewhere along the line, my breast had let go and I was gushing into him judging by the frequency with which he swallowed.

My pussy clenched around his fingers as I slowly regained my wits.

I was about to start a sentence that started with that was… when he said, “A mother’s milk…” Back to the milk. He’d just guided me to and from a mind-boggling petit mort and he was on about the milk. “It’s beautiful. Have you ever tasted it?”

I shook my head.

He tsked and bend over my unclogged, still somewhat engorged breast. A moment later he shuffled up to my head. Before I could protest, his wet lips were on mine. Reluctantly, I opened my mouth, not wanting to get milk all over the furniture. And in it flowed, from his mouth to mine — my milk.

It was warm. Sweet and a lot thinner than I had expected. I swallowed. Life-giving fluid, created by me for mine. It wasn’t gross at all. God knows I’d swallowed a lot of things that I should have felt more squeamish about; why breast milk should rank up there with some of them was beyond me.

His mouth was empty and his tongue played wetly with mine. I still tasted the sweetness of my milk on him. At length he disengaged. “Want more?”

His fingers still toyed with me, generating pleasant little aftershocks, and it was a comfortable thing, like his fingers belonged there. Perhaps they did, at least for a little while more.

I nodded to his question, wanting to make sure the first time wasn’t some kind of climax-induced anomaly. This time I gratefully drank up his offering. I was easier with it this time around. “Nice.” I said.

He smiled knowingly. See?

I probably wouldn’t make a habit of it, drinking my own breast milk, but I wouldn’t be weird about it. A squirt in my tea perhaps…

Finally, I was empty, having shared the contents of my breast with the duct cleaning guy.

“I think we’re done,” he said sadly. With that, he removed his fingers from me and I felt a twinge at their absence. I almost pouted and then remembered my manners. “Is there anything I do anything for you?” I asked, acutely aware of the unspoken quid pro quo that usually attended such encounters.

He laughed. “I’m a breast man. You have done for me more than I could have hoped for.”