His name was Carl and while he wasn't a regular he showed up every few weeks for a Cup of Joe and a muffin at Flo and Joe's, especially in the summer. Every time he came into the shop, he would make the same joke about who was Flo (Marcie, the manager) and who was Joe (Rob, the primary donut maker).
Flo and Joe's was now a third generation operation. Flo and Joe were Marcie's grandparents. Grandpa Joe died relatively young and Flo's friend (and Rob's grandmother) Janet helped run the business in the aftermath of that sad loss. Marcie's Aunt Jessie eventually took over for Flo and Rob's Uncle Moe took over for Janet (the joke was that the place should be changed to Flo and Moe's but Jessie wouldn't hear of removing Flo's beloved Joe's name from the business).
Jessie and Moe eventually began to age out of the family business as well and it was up to the next generation to take over and because both Marcie and Rob had worked at the shop as kids, they were natural candidates.
Marcie, now in her mid-thirties, was game and she quit her job as a bank teller to take over for Aunt Jessie and Marcie basically laid a guilt trip on Rob to get him to step in for his Uncle Moe. Rob was still working as a real estate agent in addition to his responsibilities at Flo and Joe's (including coming in at 2:30 in the morning to make the donuts) but there was serious concern about whether or not the third generation could keep the place going.
The shop was outdated and in a desperate need of modernization and a remodeling job, including new equipment. Marcie also wanted to expand the menu and operating hours (Flo and Joe's was presently open from 5:30 a.m. to Noon) to include lunch but there wasn't a lot of extra cash on hand to undergo renovations. Marcie and Rob were apprehensive about sinking to much of their own money into the place or taking out a major loan given the competition from the chain donut and coffee businesses in the area.
Carl was a funny guy. He drove a forty-thousand dollar sports car but he'd show up at the coffee shop in cheap athletic shorts and tee shirts. Overweight in his mid-fifties with long balding hair, Carl took a quick liking to Marcie ("Flo" to him) and Rob ("Joe" in his book).
Carl became aware of the challenges, difficulties and uncertainties that the business was facing under the newest management and he suggested more than once that Marcie and Rob should get to know investors who might be willing to help them keep the place going.
"We don't know any investors to get to know," Rob pointed out one afternoon.
The shop was closed for the day but Carl was still sitting at the counter nursing his mug of coffee. "I do," he grinned.
"You do?" Marcie asked with interest.
"Can I show you two something without offending you?" Carl cautiously asked.
Marcie and Rob exchanged tentative looks.
"Sure," Rob finally said with uncertainty.
He and Marcie sat on the stools on either side of Carl while he took out his cell phone and held it outstretched in his hand for the two of them to see.
"What do you think of her?" Carl asked, showing the two owners a photo of a naked woman on his phone screen. She was blond, in her mid-twenties, tanned and toned, standing in the shower with the camera aimed down from above.
Rob was surprised to see such an image.
"Oh, God," Marcie groaned miserably. "Coffee shop porn."
"Well?" Carl asked Rob.
"She's stunning," Rob admitted. "But why are you showing us this?"
"Who is that?" Marcie wanted to know.
"Oh, just a friend," Carl grinned. "Hold on, let me text her." He punched on a bunch of the phone keys and Rob heard the "whoop" of the text being sent.
"I don't understand why you're showing us a naked photograph of a unfamiliar woman," Rob remarked.
"Seems kind of perverted," Marcie agreed.
"Here, look, I have more friends," Carl grinned, showing Rob and Marcie other women on his camera scroll, including a thirtysomething blond woman in a see through lingerie.
"She's a marketing executive," Carl said. "The first one is a banking executive." A brunette followed who could easily have passed for a model. "That's JD, quite a beautiful woman," Carl continued, gazing at the picture. "She's a lawyer." He flipped to another photo of a beautifully naked woman. "She's an airline hostess."
"Why are you showing us photos of naked women, Carl?" Rob asked again, sounding embarrassed.
"Well, I thought you should know that sometimes I throw parties for dozens of naked free-loving adults at my summer home in Vermont," he revealed. "It's only about thirty miles from here."
"You're a swinger?" Marcie asked with surprise.
"I call my summer place Pleasantville," Carl grinned. "Clothing optional gatherings for people I've met and come to know."
"You're kidding," Rob said with disbelief.
"These people are serious professionals but they come to Pleasantville on weekends because they like to Swing, party, and have fun in a safe and discreet place," Carl explained proudly.
Carl kept strolling through a number of photos and videos for the disbelieving Rob and annoyed Marcie to see.
"Married upper middle-class and wealthy couples who like to sneak away from their families and friends and get naked and sleep with each another because they're in open marriages, free to fuck whomever they like, no strings attached," Carl said.
"Oh My God!" Marcie groaned.
"What better way to connect and network with people?" Carl smirked. "You guys might be able to pitch a business proposal to some of these influential people who are always looking for investments and good ideas if you came to one of my parties."
"You've got to be kidding," Marcie remarked.
"I'm showed you the pictures because I knew you wouldn't believe me otherwise," Carl laughed. "These people like to spend time at Pleasantville partying naked. Professors, Financers, lawyers, doctors, nurses – whoever - seeking liberation through nudity, partying, and free love."
"You too?" Rob wondered with genuine curiosity.
"Sure," Carl grinned. "I was an up and coming businessman running my own company. I was able to expand my base when I got involved with the whole concept of swinging with well-connected people. Now I own a conglomerate worth fifty million."
"Wow," Rob said with a whistle.
"So why do you still do it then?" Marcie asked with confusion.
"What's better than throwing a party and being the man helping people's sex lives?" Carl laughed.
"Are you married?" Marcie asked.
"We have a mostly don't ask don't tell marriage," Carl revealed. "She doesn't ask about my hobbies and activities. She's not into this stuff anymore but she knows what I'm doing."
"And she lets you?" Marcie asked with disgust.
"It's my money she's playing with," Carl shrugged. "I'm the one who makes the money so she's willing to look the other way as long as she gets to do what she likes to do."
"What's that?" Rob naively asked.
"Spend my money!" Carl laughed.
"How did you get involved in all of this?" Rob wondered.
"We knew a couple years ago," Carl revealed. "They invited us to a party. It was the first time I got naked in public. Can you imagine two bores like me and my wife doing something so unconventional?" he smirked
"Why would you want to?" Marcie asked.
"We were still naively monogamous and we only got naked in the privacy of our home," Carl continued. "But the temptation of being with a couple that was obviously well off made us free spirits with no rules or boundaries. We had a new freedom we couldn't imagine. We ended up at this nudist beach with this couple and everybody was naked so we got naked too."
"Just like that?" Marcie asked with surprise.
"Just like that," Carl confirmed. "We ran naked down the beach and plunged into the water laughing and having a gay old time, as Fred Flintstone would say. The nudity was easy because it was sexy," Carl grinned. "But I didn't know what that 'lifestyle' was all about. Swingers trading spouses for sex or bringing friends from outside a marriage into the bedroom? Sick bastards! But I had the interest to learn all about it. My wife went along with it for a while because it was new and different and we thought because we were becoming more successful and wealthy we could do what we wanted."
"Having sex with other couple!?" Rob asked with disbelief.
"It was weird but the environment and circumstances turned out to be right so there we were naked in the hot tub with this couple and….."
"Please don't tell us," Rob requested.
"It's kind of perverted and voyeuristic," Marcie agreed.
"Anyway, my wife eventually got bored with the lifestyle but I made enough friends and contacts and money to start throwing my own swinger parties, enjoying the role of mentoring these open and generous people." Carl revealed.
"Your wife isn't jealous?" Marcie asked.
"Not really," Carl shrugged. "I'm happy to lend my expertise at my invite-only swingers' parties. I still have mind-blowing sex with other women but I like getting inside their heads and their thoughts and sometimes that makes it even more sexual, making a deal or getting someone a deal that helps them out in their professional lives."
"Man, I thought I had heard and seen it all but this takes the cake," Rob remarked, shaking his head in a mix of disgust and intrigue.
"People don't want their private lives made public and many couples leave their towns where they might run into someone they know so that's why I came up with the idea for Pleasantville," Carl bragged. "It's a two million dollar house!"
"You spent two million bucks building a house for sex orgies?" Rob frowned.
"So people could stop sneaking around and be able to frolic naked with like-minded people in a safe secret place," Carl explained. "To connect with like-minded swingers that might help their businesses or professional lives not to mention their personal thrills. I find it playful and sexy and that's why I added amenities when I built the house, including the extra bedrooms."
"You have a party there every weekend?" Marcie asked with contempt.
"No, but there are enough through the summer to keep things interesting," Carl replied happily. "We come up with different themes for the parties."
"Themes?" Rob asked. "What is it, a sexual Disneywold?"
"Disco. Toga. Whatever," Carl said. "In the group setting, interesting things are bound to happen. Grabbing penises, women bending over and showing their everything. Sometimes there's a blowjob contest using a condom filled with liquid or a sexual-position competition. There's flipping and jumping and dry humping. Sometimes we'll hold a live auction where the women bid on prizes like other people at the party. There's the nude pool and the nude pond Guests flirt, fool around, and let it all hang out. I love the game called Car Wash when women cover themselves in soapsuds and arrange themselves in two lines and the men run through the gauntlet and the women clean them by rubbing all over them. Then they switch and the men clean the women."
Marcie and Rob sat on their stools staring at Carl with their mouths hanging open, not believing what Carl was telling them.
"Jesus," was all Rob could thing to say.
"Sometimes I'll dump tons of inflatable balls into the pool for naked dodge ball," Carl continued. "But not everybody that attends are swingers. Some we call "nude prudes", happy to party naked but they won't touch anyone but their spouses. Other couples pick up single men or women for threesomes. Others are only into "soft swap," meaning oral but no penetration."
"Rich perverts," Marcie remarked.
"Definitely," Carl agreed. "Money gives them the access and freedom to break plenty of norms."
"I'm not sure if Pleasantville would be for me," Rob confessed. "I was never one for exhibitionism."
"I wouldn't do anything perverted to try to save this place," Marcie agreed.
"You guys should reconsider," Carl said, standing and putting a business card on the counter along with a few bucks for his coffee and muffin. "Plenty of people would be interested in helping out a Mom and Pop place like this. I could certainly vouch for you."
"Why don't you just give us the money?" Rob said. "You've got it."
"Oh, what fun would that be!?" Carl grinned. "I wrote the address and directions to Pleasantville. There's a party next Saturday night. Come early. I'll show you around."
Carl left the shop and Marcie and Rob stared at one another not quite believing what they had just heard.