Inspiration

Some stories are true, because things really did happen the way the stories say, more or less.  Some stories are labeled as fiction, but still true, because they show us things that we would otherwise think are impossible.  Even the waking world still follows its own forms of dream-logic.

This is a true story.

1

We were sitting on top of the picnic table, the five of us, in the corner of the park that we had been going to since we started cutting classes together in middle school.  Most of the street was hidden from view by a ragged screen of trees that ran all the way along the side of the park, providing a visual screen to hide the abandoned lot next to us.  It was a good place to hide, without looking like we were hiding, which I guess is kind of what we all did best.

Jeremy had the weed that day, and was using an open safety pin to poke holes into a bent beer can that Dave found under the table.  No one remembered to bring a pipe or papers that day, but Shay had swiped a big box of Krispie Kremes on her way out of work.  She and Ella were licking chocolate filling out of them like they already had the munchies.

I tended to zone out on my own thoughts, whether or not I was high, and was looking across the uneven lawn of the park, out past the statue at the front of the lawn to the street.  This had been a really nice part of town, a hundred years or so back.  Back before people stopped caring when paint peeled or plaster was falling off, and started putting bars on the windows and steel gates on all the doors.

Grass is cooler than concrete, especially in the summer, and the trees made the air smell fresher than alleyways.  It made me wonder what this land was like, before people came along and built all this crap on top of it.  I bet it was more dangerous than the ghetto, when it was all still wild.  But some kinds of danger seem nicer than others; more beautiful, at least.

Ella passed me a lighter and the can, being careful not to let the still-smoking coals fall out of the dent in the middle.  I took a hit, mechanically.

Holding in the aluminum-flavored smoke, coughing, the world turned dreamlike as I lay back across the top of the picnic table.  Silver and green branches overhead clashed with the blue and white sky.  The voices of my friends blurred with the cars on the street into one noisy backdrop, familiar and meaningless.  Time shrunk into its usual, ever-present now, but something was different.  I felt a pulse, rhythmic and steady as a heartbeat, rising up from the ground, up through the air into the soles of my boots.  It made my ankles twitch.

I closed my eyes, and took a breath.  When I opened them again, the world seemed changed, in a way I could not grasp at first.  It was like the world I was used to was just a stage set, and the real play was about to begin.  If all I had been doing was following a script, or wandering through a dream, how much more real could life turn out to be than this?

That was when we all noticed, that a huge dark monster was standing next to our picnic table.

2

It was too close for us to do anything but stare in shock, frozen in place.  None of us had seen it approach, though where could it have come from but the trees?  I didn’t stop to think, until much later, that there was no way it could have forced its way out of that mess of thorns and branches without us hearing it, and seeing it.  But by that point, I was the only one who still cared.  In this moment, we were all fixed on how close this scary-looking thing had gotten to us.  Close enough to bite somebody’s arm off if it wanted to.

It was not growling, or showing its teeth at all.  Its head was hanging low.  All it was doing actually, was standing perfectly still, silent except for its hoarse, shallow breathing, watching us with its head down as if it had done something bad.

We were stuck, sitting on top of that picnic table like a five-course frozen turkey dinner.  I watched a dull, splintery hoof scuff the grass, watched it almost shy away from itself, and wondered how any creature that size could be as afraid of us as we were of it.  Looking closer, actually focusing my eyes on the thing for the first time, I realized how that might happen.

Its skin hung from its bones like cracked, dirty leather, red standing out against the black where it had been slashed, over and over again.  Some of the cuts were healed, but a lot of them weren’t.  The way it stood, looking at us, reminded me of a (huge!) dog, begging with its tail between its legs after it had been beaten and starved.  Maybe he just wants a doughnut, I thought, and almost laughed, almost cried, both in the same gasp.

It was only then, somehow, that I could see the thing that was so strange about the creature.  What had made it so terrifying and unknown.  It had wings.

3

They looked like they belonged to a huge bat that had crashed into something, hard.  The skin hung in torn strips from the spines, which made an arthritic creaking sound as they moved.  One stuck out higher than the other.  Watching the creature try to fold them back all the way was painful.  Still, they were wings, and as real as the rest of it.

The creature didn’t move, and neither did we.  The silence stretched.

It just stood there, with its head hanging low, willing to wait for as long as it took for us to do something.  So, I pulled a couple of doughnuts from the box, and carefully slid off of the edge of the table, making no sudden movements.  Shay gasped.  Dave leaned forward like he wanted to try and stop me, his eyes large and hard with fear.

The beast’s head snapped back, whites showing all the way around its dark eyes.  Ropes of wasted muscle stood out in its neck, and it almost sat on the ground as it backed away from me.

Pressure flared in the corners of my eyes.  I heard a sob catch in Ella’s throat, but no one else moved.

Making soft, comforting noises, I held the doughnuts out.  The beast had stopped moving backwards.  It leaned forward, stretching on its neck to sniff at my hand, then jerked away again, afraid to trust.  Whatever this creature was, it had been through hell.

I kept standing there with my arm stretched out, shaking a little, until something in the air changed.  Its eyes were still frightened, but they met mine without flinching.

“It’s okay.” I said softly, my voice squeaking a little.  Tears slid down my cheeks when I blinked.  I didn’t care, or bother to wipe at them.  “It’s okay.”  I jiggled the doughnuts encouragingly.  The beast had gone very still, but wasn’t cowering anymore.  I stopped moving too, hardly breathing.  We kept watching each others’ eyes for a long time.

I wish I could tell you, now, what I saw in his eyes.  Whatever it was, when that moment had passed, things were different.

He raised his head, and stepped closer.  Carefully, gently, black velvety lips touched my fingers, as he took half of one of the doughnuts in his mouth.

I was in love.  I wish I knew more words for that feeling, because one doesn’t even begin to cover it.  I felt inspired, and at peace in a way that I didn’t even know how to hope for, before.  The only thing that mattered was right here, this moment, and filling each one after it with this wonderful feeling as best I could.

He took the rest of the doughnut, and then the next one, as I gently placed my hand against the side of his neck.  His skin rippled in response, letting me feel how much he had missed a friendly touch.  I ran my hand down his side, then brushed my fingers through the long hairs falling from the arch of his neck.  Expecting to feel crusty dirt and snarls, the silkiness of his mane made me jump.  The hair was heavy, and it slipped through my fingers like rain.  His coat left a green smell on my hand, like tulips.

Gradually, my friends moved in to stand around me.  Their faces began to relax into smiles, as the fear left their eyes.  They reached out hesitantly, but after the first touch, they were as brilliantly lost as I was.

Shay threw her arms around the beast’s neck and buried her face in his fur.  Dave and Jeremy each took a wing, their eyes shining as feathers bunched between their fingers, where only bat skin had been before.  Then they were both laughing, jumping up and down like boys on a spring mattress.

Those wings, glorious, powerful and whole, swept upward in triumph.  They were like pillars of fire, their darkness refracting into colors of light and music.

It was impossible to look away, but the beauty of that moment was almost painful to watch.  He had been so torn up when we first saw him, it was like a completely different animal was standing here now.  What had happened to him, and why had just a little of our attention healed so much, so quick?

He was standing quietly again, watching me as if he could sense my questions.  I let my eyes fall back into his, and I saw the red of his fury.  I remembered how frozen I had been, with shock and indecision, when I first saw him.  Goodness though he may be, I could tell there was danger in him, too.

Images began to play behind what my eyes saw, like a movie in my mind, or dreaming with my eyes open.

Long ago, this place had been a Grove.  His sacred place of power, before the concrete footprints fell.  Pieces of him had been cut and torn away with his trees, but he kept the place alive as well as his dwindling influence could, deep in the shadows and smoke of the ruins that now held him hostage.

He had watched my friends and I, all these years we had been coming to this place, but had not dared to approach us before today.  City people hate his nature: the unpredictable wildness of life outside.  They never felt the living earth through their shoes and the pavement.  They never paid attention to why they went places, unless it was to make or spend money.  His Kind were too risky, for people who wanted to sit and be entertained like kings.

Creativity and Inactivity were at war, and the wrecked shadow of his former glory that we had first seen, was what came from being caught in the middle.

He had dared to approach us, because he needed people, even if they no longer wanted him.  His Kind were like fires, burning and giving energy in equal measure.  He had watched that fire dim in us, over the years, but it was against his nature to watch such things die if he could help it.  He wanted to rekindle it, to help things grow brighter again.  So, he had taken form as best as he still could, in the hopes that we would maybe understand, and not be afraid.

4

Shay had sidled up without me noticing, and touched me on the shoulder, making me jump.  “We should go.”

“Go…?  Why?”  My brain tried to resurface, as my heart fought to stay where it was.

“Yeah.  Um.  Now.”  She was trying to look tough, but shaking like an autumn leaf, her face still puffy and red from crying.

I could not tear myself away from those deep dark eyes and their stories.  I didn’t want to.  How could anyone think there was anything else they would rather be doing?

“Come on.”  Dave’s voice had a hard, brittle edge that grated in his throat.  “Get away from that thing.”

That got me to turn and look at him.  I could feel the steel hardening in my eyes, even though I was close to tears again.  “Don’t you feel it?  Can’t you feel what’s happening here?”

They all shifted their feet like they had something to hide, standing close together but still apart.  I had always thought of them as a unit – us as a unit – but I could see now that it wasn’t true anymore.  If it ever had been.

“You’re asking us what happening here?”  Dave was looking like he was ready to drag me all the way out into the street, whether or not I was ready to go. “Some thing just came out of nowhere, and could’ve killed us.  And you walked straight up to it, and fed it all our doughnuts!  Do you have any idea how stupid that was?  It could’ve had rabies and shit!”

He wasn’t making any sense to me.  He looked crazy to me, and my hands balled themselves into fists before I knew what I was doing.  Dave moved as if to lunge at me when he saw.  Jeremy put a restraining hand on his shoulder, but looked scared.  Shay and Ella were watching me like two rabbits in a cage.

I turned away.  Just in time to see one last swish of black, as his tail disappeared between the branches of that last little slice of nature that he inhabited.

I threw myself in after him.  The thin snarling branches of the undergrowth seemed to form a protective barrier behind him, locking me out with a net of vines and scratching, jabbing points.  After three steps, there was nowhere I could go but backward.

Still, a name had come to me among the dreams I saw in his eyes, and I was shouting it as loud as I could.  “Pegasus!”

I wanted him to know that at least one of us still cared.  One of us wanted him back.

Pegasus!  PEGASUS!

5

My eyes fly open.  Disorientation, and the feeling of tears, sliding hot down the sides of my head from the outer corners of my eyes.  Unbearably tickling my ears when they reached them.  They make me sit up, to wipe them.

Notebook.

I have one, somewhere.  Gotta find it, before this thing goes away.

My covers are a heap in the middle of my mattress on the floor.  I try not to think of it as my dog bed.  I search through some boxes in the corner: little-used stuff I haven’t unpacked since the last place.  Near the bottom, I find what I need.

There is still a working pen stuck in the coil of the spiral, though the pages are starting to tear away from around it.  I pull the pen free, uncap it, open to a fresh page, and start to write as fast as I can, sitting cross-legged on the carpet with the notebook on the floor in front of me.

I want to catch the exact way that dream made me feel, but don’t know if I can.

I keep writing anyway.

It does not take as long as I think it will.

I set the pen down with a relieved, contented sigh, then check the time.

Profanity.  I’m still in my pajamas, and stinking with sweat.  How was I sweating so hard, just from writing a story about a dream?

No time to think, as I pull on clean-ish clothes, grab my backpack, and spectacularly save myself from falling down three flights of stairs in my rush for the outside door to my apartment building.

My bus is pulling up to the stop on the corner, but there are enough passengers waiting for me to run up the block and still get there in time.  But even if there hadn’t been, it would have been okay.  If I had missed my bus, shown up late, even if I’d gotten fired, it would have been worth it.  That feeling was worth everything, but somehow I’d forgotten that.

This was the first thing that I had written in almost four years.  Which is funny, when you think about how the Pegasus, in Greek mythology, was considered a friend to the Muses.

-~@~-

If you would like a more permanent copy of this story, to re-read or share, you can buy it on Kindle by clicking here.  Let me know if you’d like a paper copy.  Your support makes me so much more enthusiastic about putting stories out there, that if you want more, please let me know.  Otherwise, I’ll keep scribbling away inside my little writer’s cave, alone and unread.  Reading is what makes it into a conversation.

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50 Shades of Dumb***

This story has been Rated R, by me, for: language, nudity-like situations, and ideas which most young children are probably best shielded from until they’re older.

 

50 Shades of Dumbass

1

She came in through the bathroom window, just like in the Beatles song.

I had just sat down in my recliner with a beer, in front of the game, when I heard the racket down the hall.  The bathroom window looked out over the fire escape.  I kept telling myself I was going to put bars on it, but shit, it’s a rental.  That’s the landlord’s job, and the stinking bastard wouldn’t even pay for the supplies when I asked him.

I kept a big monkey wrench in the cabinet underneath my kitchen sink (stinking bastard was taking his sweet time updating the pipes, too) and I grabbed that wrench before going down the hall to investigate the noises.  It may have been a shitty little two bedroom walkup, but in my home, anything I might do with that wrench would still be constituted as self-defense.  Anyone feeling dumbass enough to try a little breaking and entering, while the lights were still on (what is it with kids these days?) was going to leave wishing he’d never set foot on my windowsill.

The bathroom door was closed.  And I could hear the water running, behind it.  Who breaks into somebody’s apartment just to use the sink?

I hefted the wrench in my right hand, keeping it cocked over my shoulder.  Then, I grabbed the doorknob, counted silently to three, and burst into the bathroom.

There was a girl in there.  She screamed.  I lowered the wrench, and she stopped screaming, but stared at me with wide, frightened eyes, her long wet hair trailing down over one shoulder.  She was standing hunched over the sink, and the water was still running.  The right side of her face was all mashed up, and there were bruises around her wrists.  Her ankles were bruised the same way.

She was wearing a peach-colored slip, made of some kind of silky material that goes transparent when it’s wet.  It was very wet, especially over her chest.  And the only other thing that she was wearing, aside from the slip and all of that blonde hair, was a thick leather dog collar buckled close around her neck.  It may have been dressed up in patent leather and little rhinestones, but it was a dog’s collar, with a big fat steel loop on the front of it.

“What the hell are you doing in my bathroom?” I yelled.

“Washing.”

Her voice was wispy, her entire demeanor submissive.  The question I should have been asking her was What the hell is a sexy, defenseless little slip of a girl like you doing in a strange man’s apartment?  

“I hope that’s okay.”  She was looking at me with these doe eyes, like I was a semi truck about to run her over.

Dammit, now what was I going to do?

“Well.  Suppose you tell me who you are, before you finish washing up.  And shut that water off in the meantime.”

She obeyed me instantly.  That was interesting.  I’d never seen a woman hop to that fast before, especially after being barked at.  My ex-wife would have chewed my ear off for that tone.

“My Master calls me Sommerset.”

“Your Master?”

“Yes.  It is what He prefers me to be called.”

“And did he do that to you?”

“Yes.”  She touched her face, with infinite tenderness.  Or maybe she just liked the pain.  “He was very displeased with me.”

“I’ll say.  He really did a number on you, kid.”  I felt myself softening, and wanted to grumble, but she obviously needed a lot of help, psychological and otherwise.

For example, she was very obviously cold, from the way her nipples were standing out under that thin, transparent silky stuff, which she was only just barely wearing anyway.  One of those thin straps had slipped down her arm, and she didn’t seem to notice, even with the way it left one of her breasts almost completely exposed.  It made me sick, how much that one fallen strap made me ache to have her right then, no matter how her face looked.

“Don’t you think maybe a… master, like that, ain’t really worth the time of day?  Why don’t you go home to your parents or something, and think this thing through for a while.  I’m sure they’d be happy to have you there, rather than with…” I almost asked for the bastard’s name, but then decided against it.  The less I involved myself with this little slut, the better.  I could already tell she was bad news, aside from looking like the definition of jailbait.

“I cannot leave the building.  He said to go no further than the ground floor.”

“What?  You mean you’re not… running away from him?”

The look on her face made me realize, with a sinking feeling, that the very idea had not even crossed her mind.  “Oh no.  He sent me away.  I am not in his good graces, and must repent.  I am in exile.”

“And how long before you’re not in exile anymore?”

“He would not say.  Only that when I have proven my complete and unquestioning devotion to him will I be allowed back in.”

“Darling, have you thought about what you’re saying?  He sent you away.  How are you going to prove anything to him?”

“By not leaving the building.”

“Sheee-it…  Sweetheart.  This man has beaten you.  Judging from the bruises on your ankles and wrists, he’s tied you up.  Has he raped you?  Forced you to-  No, wait, I don’t want to know.  But why would you call a bastard like that your master, and still want to do what he says?”

“Because we have a legally binding contract, that we agreed to and signed.  I am his submissive, and am compelled by our agreement to do exactly what he tells me to do, at all costs.”

“That.  Is.  The STUPIDEST.  Thing.  That I have ever heard of.”

2

I let her stay.  What else could I do?  Someone needed to talk some sense into the fucking little dimbulb’s head.

It turned out, she was 18.  Honest to Christ.  I never would have let her stay otherwise.  I tested her, too: kept asking her when her birthday was, or just the year, or day.  Things like that go a long way, at least towards my own ability to sleep at night.  Because man, this chick was a young 18 year old.

She had been a virgin, before she met Thorgood (I doubt that was his real name, but seriously, Thorgood?) and he became “intoxicated with her.”  They signed their formal contract on her 18th birthday.  She would not say how she had met this strange and demented young businessman, but I figured he was either an acquaintance of her father’s, or a chance encounter.  She obviously had been raised in a strict household, and had the backbone of an earthworm.

The crazy bastard had told her he would be her trailblazing adventure guide through the magical world of sex, and proceeded to tie her up and have his way with her, in every way you could imagine, and several that I really could have done without.  It was a kinky fantasy, sure, but I could tell right off the bat, this girl had the personality of a bran muffin.

I told her she could take a shower, and while she did I found some clean sweat pants and a t-shirt, that I didn’t care if she left wearing them.  I left them on the toilet before she turned the shower off, and sat back down in my chair, the game long forgotten, to wait until she came out.

It took her a while, but she didn’t use up too much of the hot water.  I guess submitters, or whatever she called herself, had enough brains to be courteous, at least.

She came out to sit in the other chair, with her long blonde hair wrapped up in my towel, and my old, thinner clothes hanging off of her.  Good thing I gave her the sweatpants with the drawstring waist.

“Thanks,” she said, watching me with her wide blue eyes, innocent and vacant as a Kewpie doll.  “I feel a lot better now.”

“Well, you don’t look too much better.  That eye is going to swell shut soon.”

She nodded, then looked down at her folded hands, as if the part that bothered her was that the bruises on her face displeased me.

“Okay.  Goddamn it.”  I got up, and stomped to the kitchen to get a package of frozen peas out of the freezer.  I wrapped the package in a paper towel, and took it back to her.  “Hold that against your face for 15 minutes, then take it away for a bit, then hold it on again.  Keep doing that.”

She nodded, and smiled at me as much as she was capable of.  At least her teeth were all still there.  “Thank you very much.  You’re very kind.”

She held the bag of frozen peas to her face, and sighed as if she had just reached Nirvana.  I stomped back into the kitchen to make us both something to eat, and figure out what the hell I was going to do about this crazy kid.  I was starting to worry that she might wander out into traffic, if I left her to her own devices.

3

Looking back, it was my own damn fault, for letting her stay as long as I did.  But hey, I’ve got a heart.  I didn’t know if I could have looked myself in the mirror the next morning, if I booted her out to go hit up some other bastard for a place to stay.  Not until I’d taken my shot at her first, anyway.

She wouldn’t tell me which unit Thorgood lived in, but I had a hunch it was the penthouse at the top.  Where else could you expect to get any privacy, with these goddamn paper-thin walls?

She did not leave the building, but no one else who lived there had ever seen her before.  It was kind of creepy.  This girl appears out of nowhere; no friends, no past, talking about her master giving them both these weird long names…

I don’t know who this guy thought he was fooling (other than her, apparently) but there was nothing “legally binding” about any contract claiming that a man can own another human being.  It doesn’t matter if the person he’s claiming as property gave him the go-ahead.  It’s still wrong, and I was hoping I could maybe talk a little sense into her.  Show her how things could be with a nice guy, who didn’t care if she came and went as she pleased.  You know?  I wasn’t going to stand by and let her try her luck with, say, Curt down the hall, or Jensen directly above me.  Even those idiots would’ve been able to get her into bed, with no more than a please and you’re welcome, and they would have turned out no better for her than this weirdo that she had just left.

The weird thing was though, and think whatever you want to about me for it: we never once did anything.  It wasn’t about sex, at all.

I thought it would be.  I mean, this girl did anything that I asked her to!  Cooking, cleaning, dishes, laundry… windows!  Just the insides, but hell.  If that cheeseball Thorgood was only using this little chicka as a pleasure toy, he was missing out.  That bitch could cook.

Not that I’m much of any kind of a gourmet (or is it gourmand?) but I must’ve put on 15 pounds just in those two weeks.  She was crazy eager to please, always hoping that everything “met with my satisfaction.”  It did, but that wasn’t nearly as hard to do as she seemed to think it should be.

The whole time she was there, I never once saw her take that dog collar off.  Even when she came out of the shower that first night, wearing my clothes and toweling her long hair dry, with half of her face looking like a caved-in jack o’lantern, that collar was around her neck.  She might have even showered with it on, which could’ve made sense, if it wasn’t so obvious that she could just undo the buckle and take it off, any time she wanted to.  I guess she never wanted to.

What the hell is it with kids these days?  All this weird vampire werewolf cult young adult fiction bullshit must be rotting the minds in this country.  Making kids think that blood is cool and death rocks, and that a person can just give themselves over to another person to make all of their decisions for them, forever and ever.  It makes me sick.  What the hell kind of a kid wants to be a “submitter” when they grow up?

After a few days of having her there, I felt like the astronaut guy on that old show, “I Dream of Genie.”  I had this blonde bombshell living with me, wanting only to please me, but no matter what she did, I remained completely, inexplicably immune to her charms as a woman.

That was how it was around Sommer (I refused to call her Sommerset; it sounded cheesy and took too long to say) when she bent down over the dishwasher, or emptied my ashtray and lit me a new smoke, or when she offered to rub my back, neck, hands or feet.  It should have turned me on.  It should have been every man’s big fantasy, to be waited on hand and foot by some sweet little doll that came more stacked than a crooked deck of playing cards.  Right?  But I just couldn’t get interested, aside from letting her cook for me every day and night.

Part of it was that stupid collar: knowing she was claimed (more completely than I’d ever seen) by another man, who lived in my building, and might have scary spiked weapon-toys available to him.  But most of it, I think, was how it seemed like bedding her would be more along the lines of fucking a blow-up doll, rather than a real live human being.  She wasn’t a person of any substance; no distinct personality, thoughts or ideas.  Until I met her, I didn’t think it was possible for a woman to not talk about her feelings, or not have any feelings to talk about.

She answered my questions, sort of, sometimes, but never really contributed anything to a conversation.  I could decide for the both of us whatever I might choose, and she would go along with it, but a person gets tired of needing to be the one to make all of the decisions all the damn time.  Especially if you give a shit how the other one feels about it.

She never brought anything to the table, except for food, and offers of services that weirded me out.  She would have rotated my tires for me if I had asked her to.  Made a mess of the job and fucked up my car most likely, but she would have done it, and then accepted whatever punishment I decided she deserved, for having no idea what she was doing in the first place.

That kind of attitude puts a certain responsibility on the other person.  To look out for you, to care for you.  To make sure you don’t wander out into the fucking traffic.  Maybe, in a sick sort of way, that bastard Thorgood did have her best interests at heart, not letting her leave the building without his say so.

She reminded me of a marionette.  There was something about her that seemed to slump back into a corner the minute the pie was out of the oven, or the toilet was scrubbed, or she couldn’t find any more dust in the corners.  She needed someone to pull her strings, to set her to a task, or she just sort of sat there, unable to move on her own.  It was sad, really.  Pathetic, when I was feeling pissed at her.  She made it so easy to loathe her, in sort of a pitying, contemptuous way.  You couldn’t help wanting to mess with her, at least a little.

4

Towards the end of week one, I was starting to see that there could be definite drawbacks to the arrangement that we had going between us.

She was starting to imprint on me as her new master.  She even started calling me her master, and would hear out my explanations about why that was not cool and I didn’t appreciate it, but continue to call me master anyway, until I gave up arguing.  For all I knew, that was what she thought all men wanted to be called.  In a weird way, I did kind of like it, but you would think it would make her a bad submit-ive, or whatever, to not obey my wishes on the matter.

Besides, her “real” master was still in the picture, supposedly.  What was she doing, trying to put that role on me now?

“You never beat me,” she said quietly, one day, while she was ironing my shirt collars, after folding the rest of my laundry.  “Are you really this easy to please?”

“Yeah, I’m really this easy to please.”  I answered from my Barka Lounger, beer in hand, watching the game.

“You don’t find me… distasteful, in any way?  None of my habits disgust you?”

“… The hell you talking about?”

“You don’t want to… punish me?”

“You punish yourself enough, for the both of us.”

I knew that she had stopped ironing when she spoke, but I was trying to focus on the game.  But then she had to come around and kneel down next to my chair, putting her hands up on the armrest like some kind of an offering.  “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean, look at yourself!”  I snapped the game off, knowing that I might as well say my piece, since she asked, because I wasn’t going to be able to concentrate on anything else if I didn’t.  “What are you doing?  What are you trying to prove?  Nice pretty girl like you, you don’t need to let some guy own you…”  I trailed off, realizing as I said it that maybe she did.  Thought that she did, anyway.  Why else would she have agreed to it?

“I’m sorry I displease you.”  She said it like a recorded operator’s voice, or maybe a computer voice, pretending to be an operator, apologizing for the inconvenience.  I could see, in her eyes, how much she wanted me to want her.  To feel something for her.  To enslave her, punish her, whip her; it didn’t matter to her.

I wondered what her family life had been like.  What kinds of friends she’d had, the details of her childhood and adolescence.  Would those things have provided clues, for why she was choosing to live this way?  So dependent on another for direction, that in the absence of the guy she had initially signed her life over to, she was trying to give it to me instead, just for letting her crash there?

“Why do you want to be punished so bad?  What is it that you think you did, exactly?”

“I don’t know.”  She looked far away, all of a sudden.  Like there really was a real her, but she was someplace else.  But maybe that part of her was speaking, on a distant connection, from wherever that place was.  “It just seems like that’s what people want to do.  I never really was very good at anything.  Not until Thorgood told me I was the best submissive he had ever had.  There is an art to it, you know.  It takes a special kind of discipline.”

“Is that what he told you?”  I could not keep the sneer out of my voice.  It seemed like such a perfect excuse to use on some poor dumb kid that didn’t know any better.

“I found that out for myself.”  She was still kneeling in front of my armchair.  Chaining herself to it, like the perfect little slave, by her hands as they gripped the armrest.  “It takes a lot, to become completely selfless.  To be at the beck and call of another, at all times, is an intimacy far greater than anything I believed I was capable of.”

“Yeah.  But.”  Her statement confused me, and left me feeling weirdly conflicted.  Especially with the way that she sat there, on her knees, willing me to ravage her without mercy.  “Don’t you want… more, for yourself?”

“What more could I want, than to make my Master happy?  That is my only concern.”

“That is… uh…”  I took a swallow of beer, completely dumbfounded by the one-track racecourse of this little hootchie-mama’s mind.  I got my pack of cigarettes off of the coffee table, and she was ready with the light and the ashtray as soon as I shook one loose.  She would have gotten the cigarette for me too, if I’d asked instead of reaching for it myself.

I smoked and thought, in silence, and she waited.  Even with the busted train of thought that I’d ended on, she waited.  Waited for me, to say what I wanted to say, because what I had to say was of far more importance to her than anything she might be thinking or wanting to do right then.  The very idea of it, much less the fact of it right there in my TV room, made my skin crawl.

That was when it occurred to me, that she might not actually see or understand how fuck-able she really was, especially with her face starting to heal.  That she might actually think she needed to do something other than just be a woman, to impress a man.  That he might desire her only if she fulfilled his every whim, became his fantasy, no matter what that turned her into.

That was why I let her sleep in my extra bedroom, and cook meals for us both with the food that I bought, wasn’t it?  She had to serve me somehow.  Every thing that she had ever asked of me had been for my own benefit: “What would you like to eat?  When would you like it served?  How do you take your coffee in the morning?”

She never left the apartment.  Even though it was cleaner, more efficient, and in some ways more pleasant than things had been before she came crawling in through the window, I was being constantly tempted by the sight of her, but never actually interested.

She, in turn, pined for her Master.  Not for him to hold up his end of the contract, presuming he had one, but to contact her, to realize her devotion to him, and take her back into his good graces.

5

As the second week dragged on, I was feeling sluggish, uncomfortable in my own skin.  None of my pants fit right anymore, and I was hoping it was just my imagination, but my dick seemed to have shrunk.  My gut was growing, fast.  Dammit, but I’d been drinking a lot too.  And all of it was because of me, which was the part that really pissed me off.  Like I said, she never left the apartment.  I just told her what I wanted, when she asked, and she told me what I needed to get on my way home from work.  Because she couldn’t leave the building.  Because the poor, defenseless girl was being manipulated.

The thing was, the thing that wound up finally pissing me off enough to let her go, was that the only person I could see who was actually being manipulated in this situation, was me.

So full of fluff was her head, so hopeless and eternal her predicament, it made me feel so sorry for her.  Practically demanded that I feel sorry for her.  Except, it was completely her own choice.  She wasn’t being held captive.  She was letting this guy hold her captive, in my apartment.  He wasn’t doing anything, anymore, as far as I could see.  He was a figment of her imagination, for all I knew, and it was her own deluded fantasy that if she just waited long enough, he would want her back eventually.

Even if it was all true, that was some lucky break for the other bastard, huh?  Getting himself a little vacation from her while she healed up, letting her miss him so that she would be all ready to go, as soon as he said the word.  All on MY dime.  In My place, on MY time.  I wouldn’t have let her stay if it hadn’t been for the second bedroom, though I’m sure several of the guys in the efficiency units would have had no problems about sharing a single room with her.

It only showed the depths of Mr. Thorgood’s uncaring-ness, in my opinion, that he would blithely encourage her to shack up with some random weirdo for a couple of weeks, with no word  even to find out if she was okay or pressing charges, after that beating he had given her.  So maybe that’s why it started to bother her more and more, when I continued to show zero interest in her as a woman.

It bothered me too, to be honest.  It’s a weird thing, but I just couldn’t get into the idea, at all.  Maybe it gets other guys off, but I am just not prepared to accept that level of responsibility over someone else, to be their Lord and Master.  Especially a grown woman, even if she is still just a girl.

Even dogs have more autonomy than she did.  A dog will at least piddle in the corner or chew on things if you leave it alone, and it may look remorseful as hell, afterwards, when you’re all mad and yelling at it, but at least it did something in the first place.  It made up its own damn mind.  With this chick, everything was “can I?” “may I?” “should I?”  As if her entire ability to do the thing that she was asking hung on how I answered her question.  It really bothered me, how deeply she depended on me for every little thing.

So maybe you’ll be able to understand, why I wasn’t feeling very frisky.  Even when she started doing things to try and make me interested in her.  It could have been fun, if she just dropped what she was doing and started doing a striptease in front of me, or something.  But I’ve got more spontaneity in my toenail than this bitch had in her whole body.  Everything needed to be met with my approval beforehand.  So, after the song list had been chosen, candles lit, drinks, snacks, and ensuring that I was comfortable and receptive to the performance, it really kind of took the spice out of everything she did; completely.  I might as well have been at a movie, munching popcorn in the dark, alone.  That was how it felt to me, anyway.

6

Towards the end of the second week, I’d had enough.  My apartment was so obsessively clean that I couldn’t find anything in it, anymore.  Nothing was ever where I had set it down.  I wasn’t sleeping well, and my nerves were constantly on edge from answering all of her damn questions, so she could be sure that she was serving me as best as she possibly could.  She was driving me up the wall with her hackneyed attempts to entice me.  I couldn’t do it anymore.

“Look, Sommer,” I started, as she was fussing my feet into slippers, then cranking the recliner out for me, even though I was sitting it in and it’s really awkward to pull the handle from the outside.  “I need for you to be out by the end of the week.  I’ve got some friends coming, from out of town, so we’ll need the room free, and besides, how do you think that’s going to look, if you’re here, telling them I’m your Lord and Master…”

“I could stay in your room, with you.  And cook for them.  And if any of them required any sexual services -“

“Stop.  Just stop it, alright?  You are fucking with my head, you know that?”

She looked at me, interested and concerned, ready to listen.  But how did I know if those were her real emotions, or just the look that she thought I would like to see on her face?

“Okay.  Sommer.  Let me make this plain.  This is a command from your master, okay?  You need to move out.  Find another place.  I can’t let you stay here anymore.”

“Have I done something to displease you, Master?”

“Oh for the love of-  Please, just try to understand.  You. Are. A. Person.  Too.  You have a brain, and you can use it, just like every other person here on Earth does.  You can think for yourself.  I promise you, it’s true.  So go think for yourself.  For the love of God, take care of yourself.  Go home, to your mom, or your dad, or anyone else but this master fuckhead who you’re probably gonna get yourself killed with one of these days.  Trust me doll, it ain’t worth it.  That’s why I haven’t been banging you myself.”

“You mean, that you release me?  I am no longer yours after all?”

“No.  I mean yes.  I mean, you never belonged to me.  You belong to yourself.  So start acting like it, huh?  Start being you.  Not just some random man’s plaything.”

“I don’t understand.  I would like to understand, if you would show me.”

“It means that I am giving you until Sunday to find another place to live.  May that be the first choice of many.  Now, get out of my face, and let me at least try and relax in some peace.”

She didn’t argue.  She didn’t even look upset or concerned.  She simply nodded, and then walked into the spare bedroom that I had let her use, and closed the door.  Leaving me alone, the way that I had asked her to.

You would think that I’d prefer she didn’t fight me, that I’d like it better how she had accepted my decision without a fuss, so we could both move on from this, whatever it was.  But honestly, it made me want to feel sorry for her again: an emotion that was like quicksand when it came to her.  The moment I started pitying her, I swear that bitch could get anything that she wanted to out of me.  It was just blind, dumb luck how she didn’t seem to realize she had that power.  She was too busy trying to give it all away to notice.

7

I had really been hoping that she would show enough brains ultimately to call her parents, or an aunty, godmother, sibling, friend… someone who might actually have her best interests at heart.  But, that was not to be.  Master Thorgood got back in touch, and was sympathetic to her plight.  She told me this excitedly, Friday evening, when I got home from work.

I didn’t bother asking her to go into any details of this encounter.  I didn’t care.  I just wanted her out.  “So, when are you going?”

“When would you like me to go?”

“Now.”

“Alright.  Goodbye.”

And she left.  Just like that.

After all of her time and effort, serving me.  All of that begging for me to grab her by the neck and show her what I expected, like a misbehaving puppy or a horse that needs to be broken.  After she had been willing to offer her body up to the fulfillment of my every whim and command, she just left, without a second thought.  She didn’t give any more of a shit about me than I did about her.

Maybe that was why I’d felt like I was being manipulated; maybe I had actually cared more.

She hadn’t brought anything with her, hadn’t accumulated anything, and therefore had nothing to carry.  She just walked out the front door, not expecting a goodbye from me.  And that was it.  I never saw her again.

What a fucking weirdo.

What are we going to do? One thing at a time.

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I am very concerned about what is happening in the world.  It’s a big tangle of Facebook feed, all this news that isn’t in the news.  Or so I gather: Facebook is how I watch the news.  And I’m only one of millions noticing how grim it’s getting.

I’m on an island, just living my own life, getting by the best that I can.  I’m lucky in a lot of ways, a whole lot of ways. I don’t personally have any complaints with my life anymore, at least right in this moment.

But I see the stories upon stories of police shooting people multiple times for misdemeanors, if they were doing anything wrong at all (remember the guy who got shot for carrying a bb gun in the store that was selling it?)  I see these stories, and I see them happening to me, or the people I love.  Even the one where the man with Downs Syndrome was suffocated by police in a movie theater, because he wanted to watch the movie again.  I work with special needs people.  They are a class of people, like women, like minorities, like LGBT, like any individual who deserves to walk around safe in what’s supposed to be, so they say, the greatest country in the world.

Ferguson reacts to shooting of Michael Brown

Why America needs to be the greatest country in the world, in my opinion, is another blog entirely.  In any case, the institutions which are meant to serve and protect us, are not even just foundering in their obligations, they are outright attacking us.  We are being attacked from every angle, from taxes and credit to the contents of our food, and entertainment.  Our ability to choose, pretty much anything, feels threatened by these “powers that be,” which seem to think that the best way to rule our country is to declare perpetual war, and allow all of the nation’s assets to fall into the hands of a very select few, who stand at the top of an intricate web of people who work for these massive corporations.  At some point, climactically, economically, and socially, this system, this web that we are all enmeshed in simply by living in this country, will collapse.  I am not particularly looking forward to it, seeing all the hatred being spewed all over the comments of all these articles that I read.

It’s good to be aware of things.  I see so many frustrated people being aware, painfully aware, of all the various messes in this world.  What I don’t see is very many people finding ways to clean them up, or even rattle the cage effectively.  It takes effort, and resources, to organize and actually do something about it.  Both those things are in short enough supply for most people, past the simple acts of getting through our days.  But we each, individually, are not as powerful as these organizers, which seem to be steering us straight down a very dark hole, insisting all the while it’s for everyone’s benefit.  It takes individuals with a common strategy: otherwise we’re all just shadowboxing.

I want to do things.  That’s the next step after talking about it.  The question is, what?  And the answers seem to be different for everyone.

ReLOVEution

Click on the LOVE to see one example.

“Here’s where Otpur activists diverged from conventional wisdom about power. They noticed that each layer of domination was in fact supported by the layer below; that the orders that were given were only carried out because those below were willing to carry them out.”

Miss Piggy is a Supermodel

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http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/the-biggest-plus-size-model-to-get-a-modeling-contract-has-s?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#4ldqpgp

This woman, Tess Holliday, is making news as the first model of her size and height to be signed to a major agency.  If you notice, she has a portrait of Miss Piggy tattooed on her forearm.  What a perfect “spirit animal,” for someone like her.

My friend Ness brought her to my attention this morning.  I was having one of those mornings where I knew I really needed to get in gear and get ready for work, but just had to check Facebook once, okay maybe twice, and then just one more story… but this made my day.

I’m a skinny girl who absolutely loathes the way that my heavier friends get treated in American “culture.”  Past societies used to look up to hefty people: it was an indication that they had their lives together, because they obviously had more than enough to eat.  The rail-thin tanned white girl which supposedly is the “normal” standard by which all beauty is judged, would have kept everyone wondering if she had married an idiot, or had just been born too destitute to do anything about her obvious malnourishment.

Ness wrote, in response to the article linked above, how invisible fat people are, aside from invasive speculations about their health problems.  This in turn makes skinny people hyper-visible, I think.  Assumptions work both ways.

Look at how easy it is to draw distinctions between even the most basic of visual cues, whether or not they have any basis in reality.  In a society that produces all of its own food, by hand, extra weight spells security.  It says you are able to provide for yourself without resorting to hard physical labor.  In our society, with our overabundance of ready-made food and nutritionally-deficient but highly addictive snacks, maintaining muscle tone takes more effort than feeding yourself, for many people.  Being tanned used to mean that you spent your days working hard in the sun, instead of lounging by the pool.  What we call a “pasty” complexion was “porcelain,” achievable only with that most precious of luxuries: staying indoors.

My mind was ambling slowly along its path this morning, taking long pauses to look at the scenery of my thoughts, rather than feeling very interested in getting anywhere.  This may be a good approach to take with people; better than taking one look and then proceeding to classify them until they have a mold to break.  Then, when people like Tess Holliday break the mold, it doesn’t have to be such a staggering big deal.

That’s why I love her Miss Piggy tattoo.  It shows that not only is she boldly going where no size 22 has gone before, but she is aware of it, and has embraced herself as an emblem.

When I think of Miss Piggy, I think of a glamorous Barbie doll who knows she is the most beautiful thing ever, and also terrifies everyone around her, because she can send you flying across the room with one swing.  But Kermie loves her, and Kermit the Frog was like the king of all Muppets, so that made her the queen.  With her personality, no one else was better suited to the job.

She’s a pig, but no one in their right mind would dare call her fat.  Not unless they were ready for a roaring “HI-YAH!!” karate roundhouse.  She is powerful, smart, brave to the point of recklessness, but still likable despite her enormous opinion of herself.  We may laugh at her, but only at our extreme peril, because she knows her worth and how to throw that weight around.

What an emblem!  What a banner to fly, telling anyone who says that she can’t or shouldn’t to cram it, to #effyourbeautystandards.  The only thing is, Miss Piggy was just a puppet, a character created to entertain children with.  Not a real person, not a role model telling people, all people, that fiercely proud of yourself is the new standard in beauty.  But maybe not anymore.

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I’m back!

I’ve got the internet at my home again, for the first time in years.  This is going to take some adjustment.

I’ve already been through the introduction of the world wide web to the home, many times.  This is just the first time I have personally paid for my own connection.  I’ve been a pirate for years, schlepping my laptop from coffee shop to library, not above sitting on benches in front of closed store fronts for access when I really needed it.  This, I have discovered, is not an effective way to write a blog, however.

So, I decided it was worth the money, and picked up my modem today.  And when it was all set up, and there I was online, inside my own apartment, I suddenly flashed back to a similar moment in 7th grade, when Dad was explaining to me how AOL worked, and how I could have my own password, and how critically important it was to NOT go over the one hour of free time allotted to us per month.  Which, as we all know, can be easily used up entirely in one sitting, reading the endless progression of other peoples’ comments.

I hope I have better time management with it this time.  That’s why I’m resurrecting my blog.  It’s time to get my writing out there, one way or the other.

Song to the Unsung

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This Memorial Day has got me thinking, about the true nature of warfare, and what all might happen to make someone a casualty.

It is easy to regulate those descriptions to official, military actions, and the men and women in uniform who serve at the front lines.  But there are also race wars, drug wars, wars on poverty, jihad (which literally means to struggle against oppression)… and who is fighting those? 

There are uncounted numbers of people fighting personal wars right now, on multiple fronts, against views which claim that they are the enemy, because of their bloodlines and appearance, their sexuality or gender, or any number of other hateful reasons.  People are fighting every single day for the simple right to exist, in ways that cause no harm but are called wrong or unacceptable in the places where they live.

On this day, we honor the soldiers who were killed in combat.  But what do we do to honor the women and men who have been killed by abuse, or rampaging misogyny?  How do we honor those who were beaten to death or shot while fighting for racial equality, or the right to retain their own traditions while outsiders insist on changing them, moving them, and teaching their own children to turn against them?  Will we have a moment of silence for the transexuals found murdered, because the only way for them to feel comfortable in their own skin is violently unacceptable to some people?  

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I don’t think it’s possible for most servicemen and women to know what they were getting into when they signed on.  It’s a career choice, often the best choice that they can see for themselves.  However, they still made the choice, as far as they were able to think it through.  These battles that I’m talking about are more like being drafted, or civilians caught in the cross-fire.  Gays and trans, abused and persecuted people never had a choice in whether or not to go to war.  The war was already there, all around them.  They were born into it: the only choice they had was whether to keep fighting, or give in to the punishment of simply being what they were, which waited at every turn.  And even if they think it’s wiser to give in than to fight, to protect themselves and their families against the threats of what might happen if they stand their ground, isn’t that in itself a kind of casualty?  They may still be alive, but what kind of a life is that, really, when you grudgingly accept a hateful place that your enemy has chosen for you, on the basis that to do otherwise only means more suffering?

So on this Memorial Day, I’m thinking of all the fighters who never wore a uniform, and had to figure out their own strategies and defenses, every step of the way.  The ones whose names are not on any list of casualties, because no one wanted to record the fact that there was a war on in the first place.  

It is good to honor our troops, and acknowledge what they gave for the cause of something larger than themselves.  It is good to honor the sacrifices and pain of all the families with chairs that now stand empty.  I simply want to say that there are many unsung, fallen heros who were never in the military, but honorably fought for freedom, justice, and a better way of life, all the same.  They deserve to be in our thoughts as well.

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The Akashic Dog

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I dreamed of a dog who could channel as he slept.

In dreams, he would access Jung’s Collective Unconscious, the Akashic Records, the true Library of Alexandria…  Whatever you want to call it, there exists an infinite repository of information: everything that was known or will be known, in all of the known Universe, all to be found in one place.  However that can possibly be, it is; and somehow, this dog could tap into it.

Every night, every nap, he would dream from the moment he put his head down, to the moment that he opened his eyes again.  He heard and saw everything, as he lay there on his rug.  All that there was to know spontaneously passed through his mind: the wisdom of ages, secrets and mysteries, truths and temptations to fall.  All that there was and all that could have been, all the possibilities of present and future, glories, tragedies, and the spectrums of opinion dividing two ideals… nothing was withheld, and he remembered it all.

But he was just a dog, with no idea how to communicate any of this to anyone.

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His people continued to take care of him, out of compassion for a lazy, stupid animal that slept most of the time, but wasn’t hurting anything.  They never once suspected, that this wondrous dog was in fact a channeler and transmitter of Life and Light, beaming the wisdom of the Universe out of himself as he slept on the rug by the fireplace, right in their own home.

As for the dog: even with the supreme knowledge of the cosmos dancing behind his eyes, the only thing he could relate any of it to was his own experience of being a dog.

The dreams had been happening since before he could open his eyes as a pup, so he did not think they were anything special.  It never occurred to him that the wisdom of the ages might not be running through other people’s heads – or if it did, they had learned to dismiss it.  With the security of being able to sleep as much as he wanted, his food and water bowls always full, and a dog door for when he needed to go out, there was no need to test any of this miraculous knowledge against the hard-edged rules of reality.  They were very interesting dreams, which was why he slept so much, but that was all the use that he could see in them.

So, after wolfing down his breakfast (every meal he ate was breakfast) and lapping a little water from his bowl, the dog lay back down on his rug to dream some more… never once suspecting that there was anything extraordinary about him.

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