The L Word : Behind the Scenes

The L Word Bette Porter Tina Kennard


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Spotlight

It was late afternoon on board the yacht “My Surprise” when we’d both agreed, it’d been too long since we’d had a date together.  Dancing close,  our hands played and imagined with lover’s signals the many hidden places we’d felt content to stir and dream of finding later.

“I feel very lucky you were free tonight,” I say to my beautiful date, Tina.

“Your sister couldn’t wait for us to leave.”

“She was anxious.”

“We do have a very cute baby.”

“We do.”  I kiss Tina’s lips.  “Are you missing her already?”

“A little, aren’t you?”

“Yes, but I’m glad you’re here.  Alone.”

“Alone…?”  Tina repeats, as if trying to remember its very meaning.

“Hmm…they’ve been times.”

Tina dances closer to whisper.

Smiling at her suggestion, I whisper back,  “I do like you that way.”

She sighs and we dance.  “We’ll miss you if you take this job.”

“Should I turn it down?” I look into her eyes and then, past her.  Where the ocean beats relentlessly against the channel walls.

Before she can answer, Barry, our party’s host and owner of the yacht, “My Surprise”  appears at my elbow. “Bette, they’re calling for us to come below.  Tina included.”

“I’d love to, of course.”  Tina smiles back.

Barry, Tina and I weave through a boat deck of drinkers and dancers to take the four steps down into the yacht’s stateroom.  Waiting on us are three other couples,  the marriage equality campaign’s ring leaders.

Introductions are made and Tina and I meet Nancy and Isabelle, Laban and Todd and Barry’s partner, Carey.  All of whom, after introducing themselves, added the long official names of their elite law firms.

Sangria in sweating pitches of deep red wait for us. Everyone pours a drink.  Everyone is smiling.  It’s a beautiful day and Laban says, “Bette, we’re ready to make you an offer, but we have a few questions.”

“I’m ready when you are.”  Relaxing, with my arm around Tina, I lean back in my chair taking in the well appointed stateroom around me.

 

Laban continues, “We’re very interested in the fundraising work you’ve done.  It’s put you at the top of our list.”

Folding my hands on the table I lean in.  “Everything you sent me I read carefully.  Your polling numbers weren’t as high, as I know you would’ve liked them to be heading into Election Day,  but the relentless negative media campaign from your opposition killed your growth.”

Barry adds bitterly, “Twenty fucking million dollars the Church of Mormon SuperPac spent against us…in the last thirty days!”

Laban says very firmly, letting me know they’re all still in the fight, “Marriage equality is far from over,  but we can’t win against so many well-funded opponents.”

“I can rid you of Fay Buckley.  I know, she’s just one, but I came with a fundraising plan…” I reach for my purse, but Carey interjects.

“I, for one, can’t take the replays anymore!”

Barry releases a long defeated sigh.  “We’re still stinging from our failures, Bette.”

Then the table grows solemn, without another word mentioned about their nationally recognized defeat.

I’d come prepared with a strategy to bring them out of the ashes, but before I can offer even one, Nancy begins rustling papers.

She’s in her sixties, thin and strong like a Yogi, who’s let her long hair go white in braids down her back.  She looks at me with steely blue eyes of Icelandic ancestors and says, “So, we need to talk to you and Tina about your image.”

Tina sputters out a disbelieving laugh, “Okay…, I guess.”

I reach over for Tina’s hand and brace myself for what’s coming next.

Nancy continues, “All of us here, along with everyone else working with us in management, filed for our marriage licenses and made it through the brief window, before the opposition shut it down.”

Laban says, “They were heading for us anyway, but watching thousands of same sex couples getting married put Dobson and VoteYesMarriage on high alert and they got Prop 8 on the ballot.”

He looks back at Nancy, who’s reading through more papers Isabelle has handed her, “You’ve been together for…?” she asks me and Tina.

“Eight going on nine years.” Tina and I answer in unison.

“But you didn’t apply for marriage licenses?”

We shake our heads, no, to a growing sense of disbelief that crowds into the room.

My throat goes dry.

Nancy asks, “But you and Tina did register as domestic partners with the State?  Right? Before you had a baby together?”

Tina drops my hand as Nancy hits another raw nerve, “You filed for adoption, though? You…did…do that, right?”

Waiting for a shred of legal sense to come from me, six lawyer’s disbelieving eyes stare.

Laban adjusts his eye glasses and says, “Why didn’t you take your own and your family’s civil rights more seriously?”

Todd adds, “Bette, it’s not that we don’t like you, it’s just that this job we’re asking you to do….” but he stops as several around the table begin to shrug and shift, “…will put you in the spotlight of a very closely watched civil rights campaign.  This case is headed into the courts and after that, back on the ballot.”

“Which is why I’m here to talk about raising you money.”

Nancy’s already heard too much.  “She’s not ready.  Let’s move on.”

Planting both my hands on the table with a smack, I address the group, “If you’ll give me one minute, with the love of my life who should unquestionably be my wife,  we’ll be right back.”

On the deck, I try to put my arms around Tina, but she’s furious about what happened below.  “Bette! Goddamn you!  You were off with Candace,” her voice becoming shrill, “at the very moment we had the chance to get married!”

Desperately looking around the boat deck I see two options.  First, is the anchor line I could tie around my neck and leap off this boat, ending forever this stupid careless life I’ve been exposed as leading.

My second thought is to have a final shot of tequila before I die.

A waiter passes behind Tina, who’s breathing fast and pulsating with rage.  I snap up two shots, give her one.  They disappear in a flash.

“Bette, we should go…

Any second, I expect to see Tina spin around and break for the exit.

She continues, “…and talk about why?  Why we didn’t fucking care enough!”

I grab the hand of hers not firmly planted on her hip.  “We’re not going home right now, because you’ll never listen to me there.  So, I’m begging you once again,” I plead with her, “and you’ve got to hear me…Dear God!  Tina, you’ve got to hear me! Please.  Forgive.  Me!

But her fingers slide from my grasp. “Baby, don’t….” My voice shreds…unrecognizable.

“Tell me, then! What’s wrong with you?”

I grab the railing to hold fast before I jump.

Instead, I sag against it.  “Fucking so broken.  I can’t understand it.”

“And you think you’re alone?”  She sounds exasperated.

I spin around. ”Do mothers really vanish without a reason?  Do they? I never saw her, you know, my mother.  I was told she was very sick when I came home from school, but do you never see them, again?  Not even to say goodbye at a funeral?”

”Bette, you’ve never told me any of this past you coming home from school.”  Tina’s voice softer, comforting me.

”Did she leave me? Was she murdered? I can’t stand not knowing…”

”Bette!  That’s too far!”

“Arrrgg!”  I grip the railing with all my strength and shake it violently.  “He would sit there in a restaurant and erase you!  Frozen, I’d watch him do it!”

I feel myself about to vomit overboard and unable to stop I heave.

“Jesus Christ, Bette!  This is a job interview!”  Tina pats my back and tries to pull me upright.

I mutter, as I wipe my mouth with my handkerchief,  “He erased me every time he erased you. The woman I adored and wanted to marry.”

Out of my incoherent misery I hear Tina’s voice. “I knew we couldn’t, as long as he was alive.  Bette, I knew that.”

“Goddammit!  I’m not a fucking coward.  You know I’m not!”  And a feeling of steel shoots up my spine.  My eyes flash!  I pull her into my arms. “Be engaged to me!  Say yes!”

Her arms fold around my neck and we sway together at the railing.  “It may take years to get the final piece of paper.”

“Are you saying, yes?”

“I’m saying yes!”

“Thank God!” I smack my hand against the railing.  “I fucking swear to you, Tina, my heart couldn’t feel any more married to you.”

“Stay that way, Bette, and we’ll all be fine.”

“I will.” I slice my arm with finality.  “But I want revenge though.

My anger burns.

“For us, for everyone who’s ever been shamed and told their love was wrong.”

 

Tina walks ahead of me as we trot down the stairs back into the stateroom with six lawyers.  My eye catches a still life of figs on a beach.  I pause for a moment before turning around and saying, “Being humble in a business meeting, admitting how ineptly I’ve handled legalizing my life with Tina’s and our child, it’s true. I’ve been out of step, remiss and as I’ve said, inept.

“We appreciate the few minutes you gave us to talk privately about where we were back then…surrounding circumstances….the reasons why we didn’t act, when you and so many others did.”

I cross my arms across my chest, beseeching them, “Please understand me. I do care about the wounds inflicted by prejudice.  They’re in me, too and I’ll use the passion I have to raise your money.  I can help you.  I know how to raise money for this.”

The mood in room makes a slight shift.

Tina motions me to the empty seat at the table.

Laban says, as a nearby printer begins churning out legal documents.  “While you and Tina were up top, we put together some material from the State.   You both should read these.”

I hold out my hands, incredibly grateful.

He shrugs it off good-naturedly,  “Bette, I’m mean there are six lawyers in this room for Christ sake, what’d you think we’re going to do with our spare time?  Print out contracts, of course!”

Tapping them together he scoots one stack over to me and one to Tina.

Todd explains as we read, “The top one is for domestic partnerships and then,  you file Bette’s adoption papers, after you get your confirmation back from Sacramento that you’re registered as domestic partners.”

Tina says, “So, you’re saying wait on the adoption papers?”

Nodding Todd says,  “First, you submit to the State of California that you’d like it to recognize you as domestic partners.  Then they write back with their acceptance of you and Bette as a ‘special class of persons’ under their domestic partnership laws.  To them you are stating:  You are two women, agreeing to commingle your lives, money and assets and you are asking that the State recognize you that way.”

Tina takes a fountain pen out of her purse. Looking at me she asks,  “Right?”

I motion for a pen.

An elegant gold writing instrument, light years past a pen, rolls down the table to me.

I look up and see it’s from Isabelle.

Carey taps the table in front of Tina. “Give them to me with the filing fee of thirty-three dollars and I’ll deliver them to the Secretary of State’s Office.”

“Thank you,” Tina says continuing to write.

Reading down the form, I mutter, “I’m sure we could mail them….”

“You could, Bette…”

I stop reading and look across the table at him.

“…but I work for the Secretary of State so, I’ll hand deliver them for you.”

I know I’m good hands.  “Thank you so much, all of you.  When would you like me to start?”

 

Later that night, Tina puts my arm around her waist and draws me tight against her back.

“You’re an exhausting woman, Bette.”

I take that as my cue to distract her.  Rolling my tongue around her ear, I whisper, “Earlier, a piece of me turned into a smoldering pile of ash, if that’s any consolation.”

“I saw it,” Tina says, rolling over.

“On a yacht, where I got a very nice job, and we got engaged.”

“Exhausting sometimes was my point.  Were you considering jumping overboard? I saw a crazy look in your eye.”

“I really did. Wrapping the anchor around me, too.”

“Oh Babe.”  She hugs me. “We all have horrible ghosts, but they’re never real.”

“Ghosts.”  I stare up at the ceiling.

Tina’s fingers play up and down my belly.  “Not real, Babe.”

I bury my face in Tina’s neck. “I’m so lucky to have you.”

_________

TBC

 

 

 

 

 


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The Messenger

 

Stowing my bike in the garden shed I notice how quiet it is at the back of my house.   The goldfish in the pond circle in the dark water. Overlooking them is the the statue of Kwan Yin I gave Bette for her birthday two years ago.  In the distance, a jet plane gains altitude before veering south, leaving a long vapor trail behind it.

Where is everyone?

I peer around the corner of bamboo and see Bette’s arm dangling loose over the side of the hammock.  On her chest, Angelica makes baby blubbering sounds, soft enough not to stir Bette from her sleep.  There’s a conversation I want to have with her, but immediately after waking up is never a good time to ask Bette life-changing questions.

I consider my approach.

Her objection to marrying in another state, saying it just didn’t feel right somehow, since we’d always live in California and we’d felt sure it would be legal soon, had been fine with me at time.   Now, it’s not.  I feel differently with a baby.  If I were to die tomorrow would she have any legal rights to our child whatsoever?  That thought stuns me and I wonder why I’d never thought of it before.

Perhaps, because getting pregnant, especially on the west coast, where LA’s very sexy culture had led me to believe – if I’d ever wanted sperm it would rain down from everywhere and I’d call a number and get pregnant.

That turned out not to be case when you have a very picky partner and I hadn’t help matters much either.  There’d been a very definite ‘ick-factor’ about it, and I’m not just talking about the sperm, which, thank God, I’d never seen.

Bette, on the other hand, had developed an obsession with the millions of ‘thems’  she’d affectionately named, while writing out her check, her surrogate swimmers.

Swimmers for short.

“Swimmers is a good name for them,” she’d said one night during her preparations for our candlelit encounter.  One of several she’d designed for my fertility process.  Adjusting her magnifying glass, she’d marveled, “Tina, I think these guys are going to do the trick.”

“Bette, please don’t ask me to look at them again.” I’d shielded my eyes, knowing I needed to get into the mood for their ‘insertion’ if this were going to be at all pleasurable and not just plain weird.

“I won’t.”  She’d laid the sperm-loaded vial on the bedside table.  “You look beautiful.  Come here.  I like your nightgown.  It’s new?”

“I don’t know why I bought it.  If this works…”

“Tee, I’m telling you, what’s in that vial is ready.” She’d pointed proudly back to the much heralded sperm.  “Are you?”

“…I’ll get too big for this.  That was my point.”

“Point taken, as they say in bridge or wherever.”  Then she’d gotten up from the bed, poured us both a glass of wine and while sipping hers,  she’d stared deep in thought out the window at the pool.

Around the room she’d already lit large candles and as she’d walked by me I’d noticed the scent of her favorite perfume.  A fragrance that had married tones of violet, iris, and Bulgarian rose.  It had been designed for Grace Kelly by the Prince of Monaco.

“I’m catching myself wanting everything to be perfect.”

“Babe, I know you have a whole thing about the swi…”

She’d spun around.  “Swimmers!  Still! You just don’t get it!  I don’t want to carry the baby, but I want to be a part of making it and….”  She’d grown more exasperated, finally begging me to understand, “I know I can’t make sperm, Tina, so, work with me here.”

“And do what?”

“Fuck!” She’d thrown up her hands.  “This shouldn’t be about me!”

“Funny how that happens…sometimes.”  I’d sat on the bed and drummed my fingers on the quilt.  “Bette, what’s wrong?”

 

 

“I have to talk to the sperm again, because we’re partners in this.”

“Okay…they’re swimming around right over there, but I’m going to the kitchen while you do that.  Need anything?”

She’d hopped very fast across the room and had caught me.  “No!  We need you with us.”

“Oh please, no.”

“Tina,” she’d said, kissing my lips softly, “they have the most amazing tails.  I’m very impressed with this group.”

“You talk to them, then.”

Turning off the bedside light she’d sat me down on the bed.  The room had flickered with candles and blue-toned reflections from the pool.  She’d lifted my nightgown in a whoosh over my head.  “Come under the covers,” she’d said, while kicking off her pants but leaving on her tank top.

“Why are you half dressed?”

“I just am.  I’m concentrating on down here.”  She’d stared at herself.  “It’s a mindfuck, I know.  I’m very aware that I don’t have a penis, but inside you tonight…you need to think so.”

I’d nodded very seriously. Whenever Bette gets very abstract like this it’s the worse time for me to laugh.

She’d continued, with slow waves of her hands conjuring up invisible power from her loins.  “My mojo tonight is about mating,” she’d said very passionately, “…with you.”

“Hmm, so that’s what we’re doing?”

“God yes!  What do you think we’re doing?”

“Alright.  This is quickly becoming more about your mood than mine.  If we’re going with mating you need to wear something else.”

“Oh?”  She’d looked surprised.  “Like what?”

A few minutes later, I’d dressed her in a sexy black brassiere with her buttons opened halfway down the front of a long-sleeved and collared white shirt.  I’d rubbed the soft cotton on her back, and under it I’d felt her sculpted muscles.

“Have you seen what I’m feeling?”

“The mirror’s always foggy when I get out of the shower.”

“I don’t think you’re telling me the truth.”

“You like them?”

“Mmmmm….”  I’d kissed her again, as she’d opened my legs and her mouth had consumed me.

Later that night, I’d rolled over and seen her staring out the window again.  Not her usual contemplative spot, looking up at the ceiling, or as she dismissively likes to call it, ‘doing nothing at all’.

I’d felt the power in what we’d just done.  It’d been passionate and intimate and I’d been so ready, when she’d drawn me into her lap, had brought me one more time to orgasm and filled me full of sperm.

On many more nights, after we’d known for sure that our evening together had made a baby, I’d seen her at the window holding a piece of amber up to moon.

As gently as I can, so as not to wake Bette, I lift Angelica off her chest and tiptoe inside.

In the nursery I rock and feed Angelica while calling Helena.

Instead of saying hello, she answers my call with, “Are you nearby?”

“Helena, we’re talking on the phone.  I have no idea where you are.”

“Right.  Good point.  You’ve been entombed with Bette and your new baby.”

“And…your point?”

“None, you rang me, remember?”

“From my tomb, according to you.  So listen, I need to know something and I can’t use Bette’s computer.”

“Shoot.”

“Do you know anyone who’s gotten married in Massachusetts?”

She sniffs officiously at my question. “I’ve been a guest at many of the Kennedy’s and Shriver’s weddings.”

“Fuck!  I mean recently! Since they made it legal for gay people.”

“Oh that!” Helena says. “Hang on a minute, Tina, I’ve got two shopping bags, my purse and Alice is handing me a coffee.”

“No. No. No.  Don’t say anything.”

“Hi Tina!”  Alice’s voice comes on the line at the moment I catch my reflection in the nursery mirror with a huge ‘Oh Fuck!’ look on my face.

“We’re at the Bev Center a few minutes away.  We could come over and see the baby.  Have you seen the baby yet, Helena?” Alice asks, dripping with innuendo.

“Don’t come here.  I’ll meet you.”

 

 

Thirty minutes later –

Threading my way through the crowds of shoppers at the Beverly Center I search for Helena and Alice on the second tier.  I know Alice can’t keep a secret and soon this marrying in Massachusetts idea of mine will get out. I do want to talk to Bette about it.  First, I need background and intel.

Once they’re in my sights we wave and head straight into the Apple Store.

Side by side we line up in front of the latest wizardry from Apple and begin to type in the search words  “gay marriage Massachusetts” to see what we find.  The website for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pops up and the first link I click is, Apply for Marriage Licenses.  When the page loads with their state flag waving next to a rainbow one I sigh with tremendous relief.

Alice says, “I’m ahead of you searching for wedding reception venues, just promise me not the Boston aquarium.  Lots of slimy fish, zero sex appeal.”

Helena adds,  while tapping her screen, “You could marry on the Cape and honeymoon in P’town for a few days.”

Alice warms to the idea of ruining my honeymoon. “Helena, look at renting one of those big summer houses on the Cape.”

“Not so fast.”  I point to my screen. ” This is not looking good.”

They abandon their searches for “vacation rentals in Provincetown” and crowd around me.  I shake my head as I read aloud, “Says here you have to be either a resident of Massachusetts or from a state that hasn’t explicitly written into its laws that same sex marriage is illegal.”

“Fucking Prop 8,” Alice cries, “just did that!”

“Oh! Goddammit!  We can’t do it there.”

Helena says, “Tina search for when the next balloting is.”

Alice, seeing me near tears, comforts me, “Bad news, I know. What she’s saying is, when’s the next time we vote on it?”

I brush my tears away. “Let’s see. Okay, here’s Lambda Legal’s site.  They’re all over it.”  I scroll through the articles with flashing rainbow donation buttons on every page.

Holding my head in both hands, I groan at more bad news. “Not until next year!” I say, sinking down on both elbows.

Helena counts off on her fingers, while Alice rescues Angelica from crawling off the edge of the computer table. “Well, technically two thousand and ten begins in four months.”

“She’s right,” Alice agrees bouncing with the baby.  “I’ve seen GLAAD headquarters and the Lambda Center both, right on Main Street in Santa Monica.”

“There’s one on Sunset, too, nearer to us.”

“Okay, I’m feeling better.”  I say, reading through the site. “Look at the size of their rallies.”

“And the size of those…” Helena turns my screen to get a better look at a beach volley ball line up of women in bikinis.

“Forget the Cape, Tina!” Alice says, as her eyes widen and we look at more and more pictures of parties.  “These look like the die hard Happy Hour organizing types.”

Helena looks at her Cartier tank watch. “Well, it is almost five.”

One hour later –

At six o’clock I send Bette, what probably comes across as a drunk text, my photo and “Join us!” with the address.

Around me, Angelica is having the time of her life, being passed around the GLAAD headquarters, as the cutest mascot – ever – for the same sex marriage cause.

At six thirty, wearing a long-tailed denim shirt smeared with watercolor paint over jeans, Bette appears in the doorway of the bar I’d migrated to, along with twenty of my newest friends.

She settles across the table from Helena.  They eye each other warily.  The waiter appears with more Rolling Rocks and Bette takes a swallow, before turning her attention to me.  “So, it’s Tuesday night and now, it’s a party.  What’d I miss while I closed my eyes for ten minutes?”

A man in a bright orange shirt with a matching mohawk delivers Angelica back to our table.

“Thank you!” Bette says, examining her for rainbow markings and unauthorized tattoos.

“Bette,” Helena begins tentatively, “your baby is lovely and I’m truly happy for you.”

“We’re a little behind on Thank You notes, especially for the gift you and Peggy sent.”

“You can’t go wrong at Tiffany’s.”

“No, you can’t.”  Bette turns her attention to Alice and asks,  “Are you doing a story about…” she looks around the crowded bar, “whatever this is?”

Alice sweeps her arms to encompass the boisterous room. “Welcome to the front lines of California’s next fight for gay marriage.”

“It is?”  Bette says suddenly taking an interest.

I lead her out of the bar and down the street.  Standing outside the GLAAD headquarters we peer inside at the chaos. “I could organize the hell out of this campaign. I wonder who’s in charge?”

A harried thirty-something man, his arms overburdened with paper, walks outside, nearly spilling a stack of leaflets on the sidewalk.

“Whoa! Let me help with that,” Bette says, stopping the leaflets from falling.

Pushing his glasses back up his nose he recognizes her, shouting,  “Fay Buckley!”

“Fuck no!”

“I’m…I’m so sorry,” he stammers, “I meant we all watched you skewer her on TV.”

“Oh, that.”  Bette’s shoulders sag a little and she turns to walk away.

He calls to her, “She’s on us, now, Fay Buckley is. I’m sure you’ve seen her all over the news, campaigning hard against us.”

Bette peers back through the windows of GLAAD’s headquarters.  “Do you guys have any money?  I don’t come cheap, but I’ll fucking destroy Fay Buckley for you.  I’ve given it quite a bit of thought.”

 

_________________

 

TBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Feeling Bound – Tina Kennard

TinaFABulousPortrait

I was raised to want a ring on my finger and to keep it there. It’s unheard of in my family of Virginia and North Carolina cousins for anyone to ever get divorced.  As proof, family marriages have survived a spouse losing all the tobacco crop money in a poker game at the club.  And I do mean all of it.

Does this make my family one of incredibly forgiving people, or is it solely their aversion to the shame they associate with divorce?  I wonder, more than I’d like to, what deep roots and archaic traditions of my upbringing are still buried way, way in the back of my mind.

I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothing whenever I go home to North Carolina, where no one suspects me of being anything other than their happy cousin, living all the way out here in California.  Where I’ve told them I have a job I love.

It’s a tale I’ve spun gladly. I date and go to the beach and from 9 to 5 everyday I work to save the environment, from all kinds of horrible people threatening the food we eat, the very air we breath.

It was so natural, as if running the scales on a piano, how I went from straight to bi to falling in love with Bette.

Is that why I’m still uncomfortable, all these days later, when the topic of bisexuals had entered our conversation with Shane?

“What Tina?  Your wool’s not completely dyed, yet?” Bette had asked, before moving onto another ridiculous topic.  Alice dating vampires.

As if…

So, why am I still in the closet?

I’d like a drink, but it’s too early and I’m riding my bike, getting much needed exercise.  Unsteadily, I turn into the parking lot of a coffee shop.  While locking my bike, I consider calling my cousin Susan or Meredith or my cousin Sam and saying – after the hellos and how’s the crop this year – Guess what?  Ten days ago I had a biracial baby with my lesbian biracial lover.

Then I imagine the line going dead or them taking the first Delta flight out of Raleigh to give me a good old fashioned talking to.  Or worse, trying some kind of Protestant intervention.

All I could withstand, but we’d never speak to each other again.

I push open the door to the cafe and the barista, with rings in her nose and a spike in her tongue – a being so foreign my family would turn heel, run and never order – pours me an iced mocha with a shot of espresso.  Am I hiding out in the land of ’anything goes,’  because for me, it’s more comfortable?

To her credit, Bette has never asked much about them.  Suspecting I guess, they’d be just as awful to her as her father had been to me, and when, she’d finally accepted the fact – that he really was dying – she’d made certain he was going to do it right in front of her.

Taking his last breaths, he’d said his final words, surprisingly to me, “Take care of my baby, Tina.  Take care of her.”  And then he was gone.

Leaving me to wonder how strange it was, living in the gayest part of West Hollywood, that we had these kinds of skeletons in our closet.

I take my phone out, daring myself to call North Carolina, but instead I pay for my coffee and slip my phone back into my purse and lean against a lamp post to people watch.

I know I didn’t come to California to hide who I was, did she?

Arriving here I was a twenty-something blond, who blended in with the millions of others my same age with similar looks.  I had an interest in the environment, as seen by my resume of working for NGOs.  I was single. I paid my taxes on time and I’d never been arrested.  Period.

I was comfortable living behind my mask of vanilla.

Bette, on the other hand, while I was pregnant with our first baby, had been pushed a mile too far down the road by the bigot-in-chief, Faye what’s her name.  It had unspooled itself – their final showdown – in a very public manner, with what felt like loaded pistols pointed at each other’s brains.

Bette’s final punch and the humiliation Faye had shot back, all captured by the glaring lights of television.  Afterwards, she never was the same.  It must feel very differently when the enemy’s blade is right against your throat, but Bette hadn’t choked.

I, on the other hand, had miscarried.

Her heart had broken too that night.  I’d felt it break with mine, while I’d lost my mind on the floor of our bedroom.  Where my howling grief had never caused her to flinch or loosen her hold on me one inch.

She’s changed since Faye tried but failed to do her in.  And after we lost the baby that horrible night, and now, last week when, my God, it felt too close. My life…so faint, as if I were no longer there.  I’m not going to push her to suit up and go back to work. No, not yet, I want her home with me, watching over us.

I’ve loved so many sides of her and now this gentle new one, who paints me and the baby as the most cherished beings on earth.  I want her again,  like that tonight…watching me carefully, waiting to see if I want the tingling feel of my milk flow while she kisses my lips and stirs me into wanting…and I do, slowing my bike, I bounce into our driveway.

I do want hers as the wedding ring on my finger and I want it soon.

Long ago, and I’ve not forgotten the lesson that was imprinted on me forever in a very, very private moment.  After I’d been dating her for six months, she’d invited me on a trip to New York.

My answer had been breezy, while inside I’d set off fireworks.  I’d told her I’d  check with the staff of people I worked with, but taking a few days off…I didn’t think it would be a problem.

That had been a Monday and by Wednesday I was opening the door of a hired town car and we’d whisked off to the airport.

On the way I’d imagined what flying with Bette would be like.  Either she’d be a great adventure planner,  the New Yorker and the Times spread out on our seat trays to decide what we were seeing on Broadway.

Or she might be one of those a too long-legged passengers who bitch and complain about  absolutely everything.

She was neither.

Two First Class seats had solved the leg room issue.  Then champagne that had bubbled somewhere over Utah and she’d threaded her fingers through mine and had announced she was going to close her eyes…for a minute, if that was okay?

Hours later in rough air over Pennsylvania, she’d bounced awake.

Looking over my paperback I’d welcomed her back with a smile.  A moment later, she’d stretched and to my surprise had unbuckled my seat belt.

“Bette! You’ve got to be kidding!” I distinctly remember saying crammed into the small toilet space with her near the front of the airplane.  “I won’t have sex here.”

“Any issues you have with these tight quarters, our suite at the Peninsula will make up for.”  One hand had unsnapped my shirt and the other had  tried to disappear my underwear.

“Or the smell,” I’d said just before she’d kicked closed the airline toilet seat.  Sitting on it she’d pulled me to her.

“I just had the sexiest dream about you, Baby and I have to have a taste.”

It had been rough sounding and I’d resisted, but my mistake had been not leaving.  That move had felt dicey to me, at the beginning of our first trip away.

She’d looked puzzled for about a split second, before the four inches she has on me, make that nearly seven when she’s in heels, which she was that day. She’d stood above me, taking my head in both her hands.

The closeness of her kissing me hard against the bathroom door.  The awareness that this was really happening.  The roaring of the jet engines I’d hoped would hide any sounds of us against the door, almost toppling into sink.

There she’d bent me over and I’d watched myself coming and coming in the mirror.

I may have had boundaries two thousand miles and some six hours ago, but they were becoming a memory, replaced by my first acting lesson in New York.  Pretending nothing was going on under the dinner table.  I’d sipped my wine and I had smiled to myself, especially when she’d whispered, “Move your hand down here and feel me taking you.”

Up in our suite the room service waiter had pushed in a cart with a double-sized piece of chocolate cake and together they’d conferred over a bottle of red wine, before uncorking it.  I’d excused myself to the shower, where she’d joined me with hands that had been soapy and we’d washed and touched each other in anticipation.

We’d stretched out on a couch,  our view overlooking the city.

“You ordered an enormous piece of cake, may I get you some?”  I’d asked.

“It smells good, doesn’t it?”

Returning with the cake,  I’d sliced off a piece and brought it up to her lips, where it had disappeared in an instant.  She’d licked her lips and our eyes had locked.

“Not yet, you and I have more cake to eat.” I remember saying, as I’d fed her another bite to keep her occupied.

“This is nice, Tina.  I’m glad you came.”

“Are you different out of town?  What is going on?”

“More cake, please,” she’d said.

“Okay, are you finished with me?”

“What do you mean?”  she had looked shocked.

“I just…ah, crazy thought,”  I’d stumbled, “that maybe this business of having sex with me in airplanes and under tables in restaurants is some kind  of last thrill fucking trip, because in your mind we’re over.”

“Put the cake away.  We need to talk.”  She’d sat up on the couch.

If I’d learned one thing in the six months I’d been dating her it was during her sensual moods, talking has very little interest to her yet, riled she’d prevailed.

“Why on earth would you think that?  Am I not being a good host to you in New York?”

I’d gone over to the tray with the wine and poured myself half a glass, keeping my back to her.

“Tina, bring me one, too, please and on the way over – do answer me.”

“You’re always going to be like this, aren’t you?  Highly sexed, always waiting to pounce, you can’t be that one dimensional.”

She’d laughed and had taken her wine. “You’re about to talk yourself out of something really fantastic later.”

“You realize you made my point?”

“Do you realize I have no intention of arguing with you?  About what?  That I’m crazy about you and brought you to New York to…well, I was going to wait until fucking later, but…” her voice had grown agitated, “do you want to live with me?”

“Huh?”

“Goddammit!  You’ve got me mad now.”  She’d started pacing the suite, her bathrobe flying open at times, showing me her shaved black patch that went straight down in a perfect black line.

I’d taken a huge swallow of wine realizing it was amazing and probably had cost a small fortune and maybe this suite, the First Class tickets, the entry into the Mile High Club, all were the staging for some kind of proposal.

“Bette the wine is delicious and I’m two things, really stupid and really sorry.”

By then she’d stopped in front of the cake and was fingering the icing, disappearing her long index finger into her mouth.  “Hmm, sorry.  You know Tina, that’s a very underused word between people. I rarely hear anyone ever say it.  Thank you.”

“I am sorry. Bette.  This room is beautiful, dinner with you was,” and I’d begun to laugh,  “fucking  unbelievable. Quite literally.”

A sly smile had flickered, as more chocolate icing had disappeared from the tip of her finger.  Sucking it off she’d looked at me. ”That wasn’t on the menu, but I’m glad you liked it.”

I’d walked past her and into the bedroom of the suite.

She’d followed. “Tina, I’m very high on wine and cake and completely yours for the evening.  To do with me whatever you’d like…I presume you have ideas of your own?”

I’d pulled back the sheets on the bed and tossing my robe away I’d motioned for her to come.  “Bring the wine.”

With two glasses she’d walked to the bed and handed me mine and had fluffed up the pillows.  Lying on her side of the bed, her robe belted closed,  she’d leaned back against the pillows and had taken a long sip.

“God that is fucking good,”  she’d said with a light smack of her lips.

I’d left mine on the bedside table and nude I’d tucked myself under her arm and settled against her.

“A story?” she’d asked, before taking another sip.

“Please.”

“First, a question, so I’ll know my audience.”

I’d laughed.

“Why’d you chose me?”

“How do you figure?  You’re the most unstoppable pursuer.”  I’d untied the knot on her robe and rubbed her belly in the way I knew would make her slowly growl.

The growl had come along with a series of deep sighs.  “I’ve satisfied two of my fantasies today, tell me yours?  I’m your sex slave for the night, let’s say.”

“Oh, hmm, pretend you’re the woman who sat next to me on the plane.  She’s a stranger, but I’ve brought her up to my room.”

“Daring of you.  Do you pick up a lot of strangers?”

“No, just you.”

“I hardly believe you.  But I’m here only for the night and then, I’m gone.”

“Have you ever tied a woman up?”

“Yes, is that what you’d like?”

“So I’m face down.”

“You want a blindfold to go with that?”

“Asked the stranger,”  I’d added, rolling onto my stomach.

Nearby suitcases had unzipped and coming back to bed, I’d felt her hands spread my legs out to each corner of the bed followed by scarves and belts that had held me fast.

“Tight enough?”  She’d asked checking the binding on my ankles and then running her tongue all the way up the inside of my leg.   “Is this your first time?” She’d asked tying my wrists to the bed.

“Yes.”

She’d kneeled behind me and with one arm under my waist she’d raised my hips off the bed and held my wetness against her.  “You’re so ready.”  She rubbed us together.

“You have no idea.”

Her hands had parted me and much more of her than I’d ever felt had come inside.

I’d cried and pulled against the scarves she’d bound around my wrists.

“You can’t get loose.  You wanted it this way.”  Her hand had gripped the back of my neck holding me down, but  inside she’d slowed and my knees had steadied.

“I’m not going to hurt you again, unless you ask for it.”

Raw is how I remember feeling, as I’d braced for being pierced to the other side.  “Not so hard this time.”

Spreading out inside me her knuckles had ribbed against me in growing friction.

“Touch yourself while you fuck me,” I’d said to the stranger.

She’d moaned as her pressure inside me had rolled back and forth and in and out and I’d begun to catch fire and burn.

”Jesus! Fuck!”  My whole body had vibrated and she’d knocked my legs out from under me and lying on top of my back, she’d bitten into my shoulder and fucked me with deep strokes.   A burning like I’d never felt consumed me.  I’d pulled tighter and tighter against the restraints.

”Take yourself there. Quit fighting what you want,” she’d said,  holding me down, as I’d struggled against the thing coiled inside me.  Crying, being leashed to it for so long.  Forever…finally it had snapped and freed itself and had come galloping out of me, taking part of me along with it.

I’d gone too far.

Minutes had passed, as I’d laid bare and spent on the bed, until I’d felt the silk untied from my wrists and the belts loosened around my ankles.

“Did you like that?”

“I don’t think we should do it again.”

“I agree.  I like you better this way, with your arms around me.”  She’d brushed my forehead with her lips. “So, I guess…is this moment to ask? Are you moving in with me?”


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C O U N T D O W N – A Sort of Calling – # 5

snowy drive from barn

January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day – Early evening

On the drive from the barn up to my house in the hills, Maria follows me in her dinged-up silver Volvo, an urban warrior, with its telltale signs of knocking metal against metal for hard to find parking spots in D.C.  Her reflection in my rearview mirror has my near constant attention.  In it she appears miniaturized and horizontal and in realtime like on TV, the venue where she’d first captivated me.

While still in the parking lot at the stable, I’d scanned myself on the off chance an ‘on call’ doctor might need me for an emergency.  Bruised a bit on the inside and sticky on the out,  I wasn’t so far gone from whiskey and smelling like sex in a barn that a hot shower, followed by two coffees with sugar and an egg salad sandwich, couldn’t straighten me out.

But I’d need an hour.

And I’d rather not, says the thrumming coming from between my legs that wants nothing at all to do with doctoring tonight.

Maria had been right earlier during our horseback ride.  No one in her Washington power circles would ever know me.  I had arrived only six months ago from Stanford Medical Center, where I’d been happy until the afternoon I’d slapped Jeanne across her face.

The longtime someone I’d thought surely would be my wife.

Wearing the red streak blooming across her cheek, Jeanne had sent daggers through her eyes at me, which I’d taken to mean – she’d expected an apology for slapping her for cheating.

That bit of my personal history I am hyper-secretive about, but Jeanne had followed the myth of greener pastures – taking off for her lover’s vineyard in Napa – and I’d been headhunted from coast to coast.

Taking a research position, as far away from her as possible,  I’d quietly slipped out of state with my horse and tack and no assault charges, and the needle had dropped on a different tune in Virginia when the clown candidate, Donald Trump, had won his primary and I’d become obsessed with proving him insane.

I turn into my driveway and soon, Maria and I are trotting up the steps together with her overnight bag.

Doctor Porter's home Front View

“I get the feeling there’s money to be made in brain surgery,” she says, following me into my spacious new home.

“Don’t ever expect a doctor to say, ‘business is good’ though.  We think of ourselves as healers and don’t talk about the money we make doing it.  At least the ones I admire don’t.”

Leaving our riding boots by the front door we continue in our stocking feet past my kitchen, den and down a long hallway to my bedroom.

“Another fireplace,” she says, crossing the room to investigate, but stops instead at the roses I’d bought,  cupping their blooms in her hands she seems momentarily lost in thought.

CU Dr Porter's bedroom VA

“Bette, I need a minute to freshen up,” she says, while taking her suitcase from me.

“Of course.”  I kiss her lightly on the cheek. “Take your time.  I’ll be back the way we came.”

I’m halfway down the hallway when my home security OS says, “Dr Porter, Cassie is at the front door.  Would you like me to connect you?”

On a security panel in the kitchen is Cassie’s face, rounded into a fisheye by the camera lens.  I beat my forehead one, two, three times against the wall.

“Connect,” I grimace, while saying it.

“Doctor Porter, I’m so sorry to bother you at home, but you’d better come out here.”

moon through trees

In my stocking feet, on the cold pavement of my driveway, I hear a rustling in the shadows and the woman intelligence operative, who’d questioned me with her team and then, secretly summoned me to Room 303, appears from the bushes.

In rapid fire, Cassie begins to explain, “When I tell you she would not leave me alone, demanding to know where you were, for me to get in touch with you…and you know, I’d never give anyone your private number!”

“It’s true,” the woman in black says.  “I need to see you,” and gesturing to Maria’s beat up Volvo she adds, “Hm, so this is where she is.  Good.  I’ve got both of you.”

“I don’t like the feeling of being tracked down or got,”  I sneer, while planting both hands on my hips in a show of resistance, that fades into the chilly night. “Alright, come inside.”

Cassie edges backwards toward her car and the surety of escape.  “Do you really need me, Doctor?  I’ve got six more pink hats to knit before tomorrow’s march.”

“You yes!  Are coming inside to listen carefully and meet my plus one for the Women’s March.”

Cassie looks back and forth between me and the beat up car, and follows me inside.

julianne white tank tee

Sitting on a bar stool at my kitchen island is Maria, showered,  scrubbed and glowing.  She shakes hands with Cassie, who quickly shows me her approval – that a real woman is in my kitchen on a Saturday night (exciting!) – while Maria introduces the woman in black, as Jane, even though I’d swear several days ago she’d called her a completely different name.

Jane looks at her phone and says matter-of-factly that Cassie’s security clearance has gone through, when it suddenly occurs to me to boil water for tea.

Maria says to Jane, “They’re freaking out now, aren’t they?”

“It’s why I’m here.”

“As if this day hasn’t been coming, as fast as a freight train,” Maria adds.

A water’s boil later I’m steeping tea in my kitchen, that until tonight had been visited by almost no one.

“Doctor Porter in three hours, at one of President Trump’s inaugural balls, we’ll have a team in place that will require your assistance.”

“Tonight!” Maria and I both shout at Jane, who doesn’t blink.

“What on earth for?” I demand.

Jane lays her phone on top of my kitchen island and an image of a circuit board for a sensory gizmo I’ve never seen before appears.  We all lean in to study its mysterious workings.

red gizmo circuit board

“This is magnified ten thousand times.”  Jane turns the phone sideways giving me and Cassie a better look.  “The sensor itself is very tiny.”

“I know what a micron is,” I snap.

Cassie, absorbing that my evening plans have been ruined and I’m likely to turn testier,  says,  “We have micro tech even smaller back at Doctor Porter’s  lab.”

Maria loops her arm around my shoulder and asks, “Do you want in?”

“First,” I answer by leaving the counter and going for a bottle of rum I keep in the liquor cabinet, “what is this gizmo for and what am I to do with it?”

Getting nods from my guests, I top off their tea with Myer’s Rum and stop at the rim of Maria’s cup, fixing her with a suspicious glare. “Did you, by any chance, know about this?”

Jane interrupts my interrogation, “When focused in a six pointed signal these hidden sensors will release a synchronized pulse recorded by our main imaging controller.  It should send back a picture of Donald Trump’s brain.”

“Should?” I blow back at Jane, before turning my attention to Cassie, a die-hard tech nerd.  “Can a brain scan even be done with this…thing?”

“Well, as I said before…”  Cassie’s voice trails, as she flips through more images on the screen, enlarging a few before moving on to the next one.

I state one fact I know for certain, in this rising sea of unknowns, “My nano robots, if we used about twenty thousand of them, could send out a magnetic pulse, but they’d have to be very close to make a decent image.  Right now, using this gizmo, without me running lots of tests and diagnostics, I’d say it’s impossible.”

Jane, still with balls in the air, says, “Our lab’s had success as far away as one meter.”

Cassie frowns, unconvinced.  “Using this thing?”  She points to the red gizmo on Jane’s iPhone and pushes it away. “I wouldn’t suggest using that.  Doctor Porter’s right.  It would be difficult, but syncing our nano robots could create a powerful enough micro-pulse for a scan.”

“Of Trump’s brain!”  Maria emphasizes, as she crosses her arms over her chest and says to me, “This is what you’ve been after, right?”

Bookended with the real possibility of acquiring the proof I’ve harangued about for months, the likelihood of losing my job and going to prison now looms large.

“Just so we’re clear,” my attention fixed on Jane when I say this, “this zap…Trump will feel it.  What’s your plan from there?”

Jane drums her fingers on the countertop and remains silent, as Cassie shouts, “A top hat! That’s how we get so close.  We put the nano sensors in a top hat.”

trump in top hat

Two hours later –

Jostled by the black cargo van’s lack of a decent suspension I bump back and forth between Cassie and Maria sitting across from three of Jane’s team members, men dressed in tuxedos. Also bouncing around with us is Cassie’s nano robot configured top hat.  It sits in a hat box at our feet.

Jane is behind the wheel and next to her in the passenger seat is a man, who has remained silent since our detour to pick him up.  I frame him as the overlord of this operation, and wonder who he is.

Finally, I tap him on his elbow.  “You aren’t with the government, are you?”

With a smile showing perfect teeth, he says, “They’re private contractors and you might call me, their investor.”

“Investor,” I repeat, grasping nothing in his answer.

“An investor in democracy,” he expands his previously cryptic reply.  “Donald Trump does not bleed red, white and blue.  I think you know that to be true.”

This causes me to shift forward in my seat, drawing closer to him.  “When you say ‘bleed’ you mean, him not bleeding tonight, of course.”

From behind the wheel, Jane turns slightly.  “Unless your top hat zap fries his brains and blood leaks from his ears then, no.  Blood would be a bad thing.”

Cassie rubs her hands nervously and Maria and I stare down at the hat box at our feet.

“Five minutes out,”  Jane says from the front.

The three men shift left and the one across from me pulls down a latch and a computer console slides out from its hiding place.  He squeezes Cassie’s fidgeting hands and nods his head toward the screen loading software.

Lucky for Cassie, I guess, although I’ve never wanted to learn code, and yet, I don’t have a burning desire to go into Trump’s Ball with Maria and the patriotic investor, either.

I console myself with the many ‘ifs’ at play.   All in the hands of Fate, or God, or Chance  it remains to be seen if the investor’s wiles and money will get us in.  If his inside man convinces Trump to wear the top hat.  If the photographer, also undercover and on our team, switches to his specialized equipment to sync with mine at the precise second.

After that, it’s up to me to hit the trigger.

Any of this leading to any success I put at twenty percent, at best, however;  if I do make it home tonight, instead of the more likely detour to prison, Maria has some explaining to do.  Until then, I’m at the Trump Ball wearing my best, ‘thrilled-to-be-here-at-the-end-of-the-world’ smile and literally towering over hundreds of short fat Republicans.

Bette_Verticle.2 bluegreen dress

Once again, Maria’s disappeared from my side, this time to chat up the likes of Sean Hannity. Finally, she reappears with two overflowing drinks of watery Bourbon.  “I hate that man.  He makes my skin crawl.”

“Thanks for drink, finally, but I could use ten more.”  I hiss through my plastered on smile.  “If another person asks me if I’m a ‘Melania relative’ I will fucking scream.”

Maria covers her mouth in surprise. “Oh my God!  I can actually see it!”

“Oh, please.”

“It’s gotta be the cleavage,”  she says, sneaking a look. “In that department you and The First Lady do kind of match.”

I gag on a sip of Bourbon. “And for the record, I had no idea their plan was for me to come in here!  Why am I not supervising off site, like in a lab, where I usually work!”

When out of the milling crowd the investor approaches, wearing his perfect smile.  “The ballroom is this way, ladies.”  He ushers us with his hand on Maria’s back.

A stage curtain parts and suddenly we’re in the belly of the beast, backstage with Bannon, Kellyanne and Priebus.

I feel a little vomit in my mouth.

The investor slides the rim of the black top hat between his fingers,  scanning the room for his inside man.

Maria nudges me and says, “When you’re ready the switch is hidden in your lipstick.”

“I know, I know, I know,”  I whisper back at her,  “I twist it the moment the hat sits on his head.”

The three men in tuxedos from the van appear close at my elbow.

Across the room the investor shakes the hand of a man in a stars and stripes bowtie.

President Trump puts his arm around a medium toned brown-skinned man, who looks like the sultan of some oil rich sands, and the photographer snaps their picture.

The man with the patriotic bowtie performs a hat trick with my robots inside, spinning the hat on its brim in the palm of his hand to get Trump’s attention.

“Nooooo!” I gasp at Maria, who pinches the bridge of her nose and seems to be praying.

Absurdly bowing, as if to his King, the inside man offers the fine top hat to Donald Trump.

The investor says, “Put the hat on Mr President.  It makes you look like Ronald Reagan.”

“A great, great man!  Very memorable man. Not as good an actor as I am though,”  Trump boasts, while pushing the hat down on his head, and I fire the trigger.

It was then, the President crumbled.

Caught first by the investor and then, by the Secret Service, Trump brushes everyone away, as if his dizziness were all fake and he was acting.

As Maria and I double-time it for the door, I wonder, not about the zap to Trump’s brain, but who’s got the hat with a hundred thousand dollars of my nanobots hidden inside?

open fig still life

Two hours later –

My heels and dress back in the closet, I button up a pair of jeans and pull a navy sweater over my head and walk into my den.  Maria, still in her evening clothes, sits on a leather couch sipping wine.

Standing behind her I massage her shoulders.  “Tell me what you think.  I get the feeling I’m either getting a call from them tomorrow, or I’m going to have to fight them to examine the scan.  What’s your take, since you know them so well?”

Relaxing more as I rub her shoulders, she lazily says, “I’m not what you’d call operational, Bette.  Sometimes I get intel back as a favor for a favor, but on where this is heading, and into whose hands, I have no clue.”

“That’s it?  The sum total of your knowledge of the I C world?”

“Just favors for favors for more secretive people.  They’re my ‘sources’ when their names can’t be mentioned in print.”

“Sources.”  I let that ferment in my barrel of questions before asking, “Did you play me for a bigger favor down the line?”

“Ouch!” she cries, when my grip on her shoulders digs in too much.

“Sorry, I thought you felt tense when you answered.”

She turns her head to look at me.  “Do you not recall that it was you, who first shot her mouth off and started all this?”  Her voice dropping back a notch.  “Now, because I’d thought you’d want me to, I did say that bringing you along would be valuable.”

She covers her yawn with her hand.   “You saw how they waited and waited until the last possible moment to pull this off.”

“Seriously, did you know, or not, that this was happening tonight?”

“Bette, honestly I’d thought they weren’t going operational with it.”

“You do realize you talk like one of them.”

“Baby, quit interrogating me and come sit down.”  She pats the leather cushion next to her.  “Come put your head in my lap and I’ll pour little sips of wine into your mouth and I promise I won’t spill a drop.”

“Interesting choice of words.”  With my fingers on her forehead I tilt her head back on the cushions, making her look up at me.  “Last question and then we’re done for the night.”

Her brow creases around my touch.  “Done?  What do you mean done?”

“Have you been seducing me all this time?  For the sole reason I might be valuable to you down the line?”

Her patience with me gone, her temper takes over.  She twists around and glares at me.  “Do I feel that way to you?  Traitorous?  Whorish?  Really?  You know what, Bette?  I should tell you to fuck off and leave right now.”

I leap around the couch to stop her.  “Maria, wait! I’m being paranoid and I’m very sorry.”

She glares at me, not yet mollified.

I continue,  “I’ll admit something you asked when we were riding.  My life was very different up until recently and I do hide out in barns on Saturdays.”

She settles back on the cushion, eyeing me.  “Which is why you smell the way you do.”

“Which you’ve said is good?” I ask hopefully.

She begins to smile.  “Which I’ve described as having a hint of animal.”

“Am I forgiven, then?”

“You have a long night ahead of you.”

“I’ll survive, but don’t move.”

A few minutes later –

Behind her again, I massage her shoulders, moving the cords of her muscles to relax.  She sighs and throws one arm over the back of the couch to touch me.  My left thigh she rubs and then over to my right, where her hand stops on a hard bulge that’s running down my leg.

“Oh!” She turns around in surprise. “Now, you show me who really are.”

I stroke myself.  “Yes,  from now on.”

She sits on her knees, watching me.   “My God!  You’re so fucking sexy this way.”

I lift her up from the couch.

Julianne Portrait blue blouse messy hair

Throwing the covers back from the bed, I press the lighting control on my bedside table and with another button, the gas fireplace comes alive with a soft whoosh.

She unzips her dress and falls back on my bed. “Don’t ask me how I found the time to buy lingerie for you.  Let’s just say, if you need a 24 hour sex shop there’s one in Adams Morgan.”

I kneel on the bed next to her and roll her stockings down her legs and kiss the inside of her thighs, sliding my fingers under the elastic of her new chocolate brown lace panties.  “Meaning you want to keep these on?” I cock my eyebrow up at her.

She laughs.  “What are you taking off?  And don’t say your sweater.”  She tugs and pulls it over my head, and our lips meet hungry for each other and she pulls me on top of her.

Breaking our kiss, she unbuttons my fly.  “My lover, show me this surprise of yours.”

I slide my pants down, while she tosses her panties sailing past my ear.

“Beautiful,” she says, as I lie back in the pillows and she takes me in with her eyes, “I’ve never seen such a creature as you.”

Kneeling over me,  she touches me as if for the first time. The palms of her hands caressing my shoulders and down my arms and over to my belly.  She brushes my cock with her lips and rubs me down my thighs.

Rolling me over, she rubs my upper back and down my spine and I feel her between my buttocks as she slides my leather strap to the side and fucks me with strokes of her fingers.

My heart is pounding when I reach for her.  ”I hope you know what you’ve done,”  I say,  covering my cock with gel, applying a slippery second skin.

She brushes her small patch of red hair against me,  her eyes changing from temptation into want.

”Take me slowly, Baby,” she says, opening herself to me, guiding me inside.

”Very slowly,” I say, not wanting to at all.

_____________

Stayed tuned for Chapter 6!

Drop a comment if you liked the story.


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C O U N T D O W N – Carnal Pursuits #4

Inauguration Day

January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

Northern Virginia –

Nightingale’s best friend, a silver dappled Morgan named Dev, belongs to a big-hearted East Indian woman, also a doctor, who thankfully shortened her traditional Hindu name to simply, Pat.  Her whole family, she had told me on the phone earlier in the week, was concerned for their safety. “Being brown in America these days is frightening, Bette.  My son came home from school last week beaten and his backpack in pieces.  Some fool thought he was carrying a bomb!  Please take Dev out for a ride. I’m not leaving home on Inauguration Day.”

Other riders must’ve made similar decisions, because the barn is atypically empty for a Saturday.  Normally, horse owners arrive by eight and by nine the air is filled with clouds of dust from brushing.  Farriers are usually here trimming hooves and fitting horses for new shoes. Saddles and tack are being soaped and oiled, or buckled onto mounts ready to stretch their legs, but not today.

It’s eerily quiet at this end of the barn, where I saddle the horses and hum as an antidote for my own Inauguration Day blues.  I try but fail at remembering more than two verses of any song.  If I’m honest, there’s a dull aching at the base of my neck and an anxiousness that is humping me like a feral dog.

All of this, very strange for me. Life and its attendant attractions going haywire doesn’t usually make me nervous.  Pissed off too quickly?  Yes. Those damn agents who wasted my time the other day absolutely irritated me, however; as a surgeon, I’m trained to keep a steady calm under pressure. But I’m no help to myself today.  I should go home and draw a hot bath and commence drinking  immediately, but Maria’s on her way.

Soon.  It should be soon.

Leaning back against the warmth of Nightingale’s flanks, I wonder how I would conduct a research study into the disruption of the psycho-neural patterning of Trump supporters. His rallies had enraged people, unleashing a public vulgarity in them that no person in their right mind would participate in yet, too many had costumed themselves as Hillary Haters and had screamed for her blood.

Was their mass indoctrination temporary?  Were they possessed only while in a crowd? Have significant numbers of Trump voters turned down their fever pitched outrage dials and reverted back to an uneasy state of dissatisfaction?  For months the poll number of undecided voters had hovered around 20%…until the Russian cyber attacks began.

If Wikileaks had been done by a four hundred pound man lying on a bed in a basement somewhere, as Donald Trump had claimed then, it followed in my mind at least, this so-called somewhere had many rooms filled to capacity with these big fat hackers, all experts at weaponizing  mass propaganda.

“And the rest is history, Nightingale.” I rouse out of my inner musings and voice my disquieting thoughts to the horse, “The Great American Mind Fuck has happened.”

Leaving the barn in search of my cell phone locked inside my car, I consider how to phrase this idea of launching a study to my medical assistant, Cassie.  When I step from behind a horse trailer, I collide right into Maria.

Long English boots with jeans tucked in and a short-waisted, but warm winter coat, she resembles the woman from Room 303, but with clothes on.

I beam a thousand watt smile at her and she falls into my arms, “Oh! God!” she cries into my jacket. “I lost it  three times on the way over here.  Four, if your barn hadn’t appeared when it did.”

“Baby, baby…”  I squeeze her tighter.

“Being on set, watching the inauguration on big screens along with a panel of commentators, I had to keep a TV face, but I wanted to scream.  I believe a few others did, too.”

“Jesus, I could never do your job.”

Which she takes as a reason to kiss me.  “Hm,” she says softly when leaving my lips. “Definitely stick with the job of kissing me.  You wouldn’t like being a pundit.”

With my arm around her shoulder and hers looped around my waist we walk from the parking lot into the barn.

“Where is everybody?” She spins around on the heel of one boot before stopping in front of Dev and softly rubbing his nose.  “Bette, he smells a little like you did…” she trails her hand down the horse’s neck.   “…the night we met.”

“Fresh off the trail might be another way to put it.”   I loop the reins over Dev’s head and lengthen out her stirrup leather. ”

She crooks her leg for me to push her up into the saddle.  “No, you had a definite animal scent.  It’s how I think of you now.”

I swing up into my saddle and we trot out into the snowy field that borders the riding ring.

“When I discovered the note from your friend stuck in my pocket.  I was standing right there.”  I point to where she’s riding.  “Tabard Inn Room 303 10 pm,” I recite the message that propelled me around Dupont Circle and eventually into her arms.

She shakes out her long red hair and calls over to me, “Bette!  You’re saving my life this afternoon.  If I were in Washington I’d be headed for an afternoon of misery drinking with other depressed media types.”  She looks up at the heavens and shouts, “Oh my God!  Thank you for saving me from that!”

“Maybe for you, but I’m planning on a little drinking today.” I slide my silver flask out of my saddlebag and take a sip.  “I had this interesting thought about the Russian hack.  Right before you got here.”

She motions for the flask then, wipes her lips with the back of her glove.   “But Bette, why aren’t you seeing someone?  I mean this seriously.  Forget about the Russians for a minute.”

I adjust in my saddle and send her a ‘please get serious’ kind of look.  “I’m counting you as a someone.”  And hearing myself say it, I know it’s true.

“What about women in Maryland or D.C.?”

“You’re kidding right?” I blow out a laugh of disbelief.   “Why can’t you believe I’m single?”

“No, I’m not kidding.” Her hand sweeps me up and down.  “Who is this hot brain surgeon,  hiding out in a Virginia barn?  Off everyone I know’s radar.”

“Checking up on me?”  I flash her a sexy smile.

“More like checking out.”  Which she follows with a furrowed frown. “See nobody I know,  knows you and I find that strange.  Not even a whiff of a mention. So, have you been married all this time or living with someone?  What. Is. Your. Story?”

“You’ve known doctors before so, I’m sure you realize that when doctors develop specialties they tend to get more and more additional training and that takes time.”

She barks a laugh at my expense.  “Bette!  Are you trying to sound like the most boring woman in the world?”

“Maybe I am boring.  I have no idea!  If you’re not interested in horses or people’s brains then, perhaps I am.  I have one more thing though: I also retain a lot of info about rocks…I loved them as child.  Geology as a whole.  You can ask me anything.”

“Well,” she sighs, but not in a good way.  “I wouldn’t know the first question to ask about rocks.”  She pauses and looks up to the sky for inspiration.  “I can include minerals, too, I suppose?”

“It sounded stupid the minute I said it.”

“Baby, you know I came down here for an evening with you.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it you who’s been flirting with me on the phone all week?  Coming at me kinda hard?”

“I confess being taken with you.”  Twisting in my saddle I lean over to her,  “But the topic of ex’s?  Is that a good place to start?”

“You’re right.  I did my get-the-scoop on you bit.  We’ll start again.  Where’d you grow up? Favorite places.  That kind of thing.”

“Let’s see, I had a great mother, who was an architect and child of the 60s.  Who also shocked her parents by marrying my father, a black man.”  I lean back in my saddle thinking back on the many stories she shared of her troubles.

“But then I came along, and both sets of grandparents couldn’t get enough of me so, everybody had to get over their prejudices in a hurry, and we were a pretty cool family. All things considered.”

“Well, my dad was a Scotch Irishman and gave me all these freckles.  He came from a big family of pitifully poor Irish, who’d made their way to America.  My mom lives in California.  Drinking took him.  She has or had – she’s nearly seventy now – red hair like mine.”

She leans into Dev’s mane, as if needing to hold onto something, before telling the next part.

“We lived in a dump in Boston, a neighborhood along with the rest of the Irish Catholics there.  Damn place was always wet and cold.”  She shivers thinking about it.  “I don’t know why I started with my family.  It’s not my favorite subject.”

A tear slips from her eye, before she flicks it away.  “Tsst!” is the sound of her dismissal, which jerks both our horses heads up, as she waves her emotions away. “I should be tougher at this point.  I know I should.  Sometimes I feel it everyday.”

I guide us along a trail through a forest, where we weave close between the trees and the clinking chains on our horses’ bridals sound like ringing to me, dampened only slightly by the snow.

I loosen Nightingale’s reins as we enter an open field with an abandoned cabin used in the winter to store firewood and hay.

“How ’bout we get out of the wind for a few minutes?”  I slide off Nightingale and tie his reins to the porch railing.  “I have a little picnic, plus some more whiskey and – if it’s not too boring for you – I’ve got a research idea I wanna run by you, but it could get complicated.”

She stands in the doorway of the dusty cabin refusing to enter.  “An experiment inside a freezing cold shack?”

Using a pile of kindling stacked by the old fireplace I make a fire. “I’ve ridden by here a hundred times and never once peeked inside.”

She leans into the warmth of the flames and taking off her gloves she rubs her hands briskly together. “This isn’t so bad.  What experiment?”  she asks,  placing her warm hands on my cold cheeks.

“That feels good, Maria.”  I lean in for a kiss, but she stops me with a finger to my lips.

“The note that brought you to my room at the Tabard Inn, there was a message I was to pass along if you showed.”

“Then why was I summoned there!?”  My volume suddenly rising. “Because for most of my drive home I was certain you were a spy working undercover as a journalist and the whole evening had been a trap.”

Her face, a mask frozen in quizzical shock, she repeats my accusation, “So, you think you fucked a spy the other night?”

I shove my hands deep into my pockets and glare at her for a moment.  “As I was saying, the sex had to be for blackmailing me, the neurosurgeon who wouldn’t keep quiet about Donald Trump being dangerously deranged.”

“Blackmail, huh?  And me, as the black widow luring you into a trap?!  Bette, you really should record a podcast in your spare time.”

“Spare time is with him.”  I cock my thumb back towards where we tied the horses.  “But the longer I drove, the more I considered how I did have a bad hangover and zero sleep so, I began by diagnosing my state of paranoia, and that I believed…no, I feared it really, that it wasn’t possible you could actually be…”

She smiles and reaches into the saddlebag for the whiskey and takes a sip.  “Be what?  Instantly into you?  That doesn’t happen often and you’ll just have to trust me on that.   Not since my twenties, and please don’t ask for their names, because I’ve forgotten them in a blur of that one year of college, when I was certain I was having a nervous breakdown.”

“A real nervous breakdown?  Or a final exams nervous breakdown?”

She stares at me and shrugs her shoulders.

My next question is tinged with suspicion. “Okay,…well,….years later then, I’d like to hope, believe really, that I’m an exception and you don’t fuck everybody you pass or don’t pass messages to within the first two hours of meeting them.”

“Bette, I’m virginal when I’m in Washington, a city of the worst gossips on earth!  It’d be career suicide if I weren’t.”

Time to believe her temptress nature is mostly under wraps, or not.  “I’ll never forget the dress you were wearing, but Baby, you had me at Burning Man.  I’ve always wanted to do something like that.”

At this idea she lets loose a playful laugh.  “Doctor Porter, I’m definitely your guide to Burning Man, but back to your earlier fantasy of me, am I a Russian spy or one of us?”

“American,” I whisper down her neck, “which gave me some comfort, but I’m certain we’re cruel, too.”

Coy and biting her bottom lip, she pulls my shirt tails out and runs her nails up my back. “Even with suspicions of how dangerous I might be, Doctor Porter, you still invited me here.”

“Do that harder and something will happen.”

With a quick intake of her breath she opens her mouth to my kiss.

Minutes pass under an ocean wave of losing ourselves in each other, when she breaks our kiss and says, “Bette, the fire needs more wood.”

Squatting down and pitching logs onto the flames I see her pulling her riding boots back on after pulling her blue jeans off.  I toss the last log on, as she turns to warm her bare bottom next to me.

The firelight plays on her loins as she brushes her fingers over her small triangle patch of red hair and in the next moment, I’m tasting her.  Warm and slightly salty.

“You’ve been too far away from my body…all week long,” she mummers to me.

I slip my coat off my shoulders and lay it on the floor in front of the fire.  “You are so beautiful,” I whisper to her, before taking her again with the licks of my tongue.

She reaches for my hand and guides me under her blouse to feel her twisting her nipple.  I pinch it a few times, hard then soft, and leave a wet trail from my tongue licking up her belly to her breasts.   She pops open the bra clasp between them,”I love you here, too,” she says with a purr at the back of her throat.  “In carnal pursuit…Bette, that’s the perfect description of you.”

I whisper to her, “And you are my seductress.”

She pulls me up from her breast by the chin – to almost kissing her lips.  “You mean like this?  You touch my lips and you have to take it all.”

__________

Stay tuned for Chapter 5.  I hope you’ll leave a comment in the box below.

All for now,

Blackbird

 


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C O U N T D O W N – Redheads (The Effect of) Chapter 3

Redheads, (The Effect of)

January 16, 2017 – after midnight

Four days until inauguration –

Up from what feels like an underwater sleep, I roll over toward the sound of her whispering.

“Bette,” she says again.  Under the glow of another century, she’s draped across a chaise longue, almost nude except for heels, almost close enough to touch, but not quite.

Lazily I answer – not the Jesus Christ! I think to myself – but instead, “You look so…comfortable, sweetheart.”

“Very.”  She turns her body slightly, showing me her breasts. “I’ve been watching you sleep,” she says.

“Maybe a little unnerving,” I confess, while toying with the sheet that’s covering me, while edging into a different game with her.

“Would you like to watch me?”  She rolls on her side and cradles one of her breasts before twisting her nipple hard.

“Dear God!”  Blows out of me and I reach for a leftover glass of Scotch on the bedside table. “I may get drunk all over again.”

“Earlier, there was a different kind of craving.”  She circles and circles her nipples. “Do you deny it?”

“Ah….no, I’ll admit that.”

“I caught a glimpse of you.”  She leans forward on the chaise, her breasts disappearing from sight. “Something hidden.”

I lift up my sheet and show her the scratch marks she left on my back.  “Not hidden, very real.”

“You brought that on yourself, or do you disagree?”

“Disagree?”  I ache with the recent memory.

“With the pain?” Her quixotic smile lingers, while her hand moves to caressing her buttocks, before disappearing between her legs.

I close my eyes and the fantasies I’ve had for months about her begin to flash in small explosions inside my brain.

She interrupts my sexual reverie, “No, no.  It’s not allowed to look away.”

“You need to come over here.”  With a pleading look, I motion her to bed.

Instead, she sits across from me and opens her legs a little wider, a little wider…the longer I stare.  When her pink folds appear, I drop the Scotch on the table.

She traces her finger across herself. “This is what you want, baby?”

Tossing aside the sheet I point to my lips.  “Come sit here.  I have an idea for you.”

My hands on her waist, her knees beside my shoulders, I bury the tip of my nose in a perfect V of red hair and inhale her.

Her fingers lightly scratch me down my neck.  “So good,” she moans, when I twist my tongue inside her.

Changing positions, I kneel behind her perfect round buttocks, sending a long lick up her spine. “This way?”

“Yes, Baby, fuck me.”

We fold our bodies together, her hands pressing against the headboard banging into the wall.

Rings of muscles grab along my fingers,  a pulse expands at my fingertips, a blush of red appears, rippling up the white skin covering her spine.

Moments absorb the scents of sex, time becomes the intake of our breaths. I touch myself, while thrusting my hips.

My arousal climbing faster with hers.

As we crest over elongating waves of ecstasy, her hands slide down the headboard and the pillows muffle her screams.

 

Twenty minutes later –

Her head on my shoulder, her leg crossed over me, she pulls me closer, kissing me slowly, before finally whispering into my ear, “I invited you here just to talk.”

“Hm.” I float down from the ceiling to focus on her words. “Surely not now.”

“Saturday a terrible mistake will happen.”

“There’s a fallen tree in the forest.  I’m riding out there Saturday to stick my head in its hole.”

“My television gig ends at two.”

“You should come down to Virginia.”

“What do you ride?”

“A black horse named Nightingale.”

 

Madison Neurological Research Center

Three days later –

Friday afternoon – one day until inauguration

Cassie and I are finishing up the surgery on the woman, who after a car crash lost her ability to speak and the use of her legs. It’s taken hours to relieve her brain edema and rebuild the nerve damage impeding her lower movement.  “Nurse, please test the feeling response in her feet.”

At the other end of the operating table I see the sheet wiggle.  “One more, this one up her calves.”

Before I close up the incision in her back I study the scans of her spinal damage.  I’ve rebuilt the tiny tears of her nerves on her left side with implanted nanorobots snug inside the section that threads through her spine.  Cassie marked seventeen tiny nerve tears on the film.  After each repair I’ve made, she’s checked them off.   Even still I study them further, before I close my patient up.

“Do you see something else, Doctor” Cassie also leans into the screen.

“Not yet, but always good to check again.”

Cassie changes the image filter settings to eliminate her notations.  Noses to the screen we go over every inch of the films one more time.  Even dead tired on your feet, I believe this last step is vital for a surgeon.

Finally, I’m satisfied.  “We’ve gotten them all and I don’t see anything we missed.  Good job everybody!”

The OR fills with a welcome, “whoop! whooping!” of congratulations.  Turning back to the patient I add as a note to Cassie, “She may need speech therapy, there’s really no way to tell until she wakes up.”

“Should I schedule Dr. Saruk?”  Cassie asks.

“He’s here on Friday?”

Cassie leans over to her iPhone stashed outside the clean zone.  “Siri can you help me?”

Siri answers, “What can I help you with today, Cassie?”

“Check Dr. Saruk’s schedule for January nineteen two thousand and seventeen.”

“Getting that for you now,” Siri replies.  “Dr. Saruk’s schedule for January nineteen two thousand and seventeen is: eight am drop Radha at school; 9 am racquetball with Stan; 11 am …”

“Good Lord!” I cry out, “If it says, “massage and sauna at eleven” I’m changing specialties!”

“…three pm hospital rounds, four pm…”

Cassie says, “Stop Siri.”

The OR clock reads a little after two.  “Even if I didn’t need him, I’d still want his ass in here!”

“I’ll take care of it right away, Doctor.”

I shake my head at my temper.  “I’m sorry at my outburst, everyone.”  I focus back on my patient closing her open incisions with expert stitching.

 

Walking into my office my cell phone rings on my desk.  Maria.  A smile spreads across my face when I answer.

“Well, hello!”

“Hello back.  How’ve you been?”

“Oh, the usual, brain surgery, you know.”

“Ah!  So, nothing life or death, I take it.”

I drop a stack of medical files on my desk.  “Just another day, are you still in Chicago?”

“Yes, I’m at O’hare as we speak.”

“Who’s show are you on tonight?  I’ll be sure to watch.”

“Lawrence’s people booked me then, called an hour ago saying one of their guests had to cancel so, they asked me to fill two blocks.  I think I know who it is…Bette, reporters close to this are having a hard time.”

“Meaning the other guest is drunk?  Describe, hard time.”

“No, the report I heard is she’s sobbing in the women’s bathroom at the Hart Building and won’t come out.”

Despite how pitiful it sounds I sympathize.  “Trust me.  I understand her desire to curl up in a ball.”

“Oh…?” Comes the dangling question nearly drowned out by O’Hare’s PA naming flights being called for boarding.

“Dreading it, but I’m functioning.  I repaired a spine an hour ago.  So, I’m dealing.”

“But…we’re still on for tomorrow, right?”

“Oh God!  Of course!  It’s the glue holding me together.”

“So, no pressure then!”

“No, I’m kidding about being a complete wreck.  Ninety percent of the time I’m concentrating on  something else.”

“And the other ten percent?”

Leaning back against my desk I realize what she wants. In my sexiest voice I say, “Baby, you heard me wrong.  I said, thirty percent of the time I’m concentrating on brain surgery and the other seventy percent I’m dreaming of you.”

“Aw, you did catch me.  I’ve been thinking about you, too.”

“I guess I shouldn’t presume, because I noticed you changed your pinned tweet to,  “OMG! Doom is upon us!” that you still expect to be alive tomorrow night and you’ll stay over?”

“Spend Saturday night with you?  Had you invited me?”

With my smoky voice again,  “Sweetheart, after we ride will you spend the night?”

“Will you come to the Women’s March with me on Sunday?”

“Already got my costume figured out.”

“Oh!  You’re into it!  Great!”

“Not wearing a pink pussy hat though.  I’ve got a brain cap-like gizmo that once was a teaching model.”

“That’s what you’re wearing to the Women’s March?” In the background blares the terminal PA.

“Maria, I can barely hear you.”

“Baby, they’re calling my flight to D.C.”

“Safe travels.  Wink at me on TV.”

“You know I can’t do that!  They’d fire me!  Watch for it though, I’ll give you a very showy hair flip, after I say something clever…just for you.”

“Even though five million other people will hear it?”

“Who am I riding horses with and having dinner with on Saturday?”

“Me.  I’ll watch for it.”

 

I made it to the florist three minutes before she closed and I’ve been much too preoccupied placing and then rearranging roses around my bedroom.  This!  A whole day before she arrives!  I wasn’t kidding earlier about my desire to curl up into a shrieking ball of terror, as if zombies were at my door and I was all out of bullets.

Love makes me nervous!  The thought of it makes me compulsive.

We’ve all had them.  Tension flings.  The night before a big medical convention speech – the perfect time to have sex with a stranger from some far off part of America.

Actually, Maria and I began as a tension fling.  More precisely, after a kidnap situation that had unnerved me.  Jesus, I’m forty-three.  A sleepover date?  I’m out of practice.  Everything changes, absolutely everything.

What else does this room need?

I wander down the hallway to the closet in search of candles.

I’m paying more attention to Lawrence’s program than I am to preparing my dinner on my stove.  He’s doing a re-cap of all the media’s missteps that allowed Donald Trump’s constant haranguing about Clinton’s emails to turn many writers and TV journalists to act like stupid ducks and fall in step with his mania.  That’s when I started really paying attention to his brain malfunctions.  Why did no one else?  The question of the hour.  How did this happen?  How the fuck did this happen?

Lawrence describes his next segment after the break will feature Maria Donovan and David Corne, so stayed tuned for more.

 

I freeze the screen when she appears.  My God, she’s beautiful and naughty and then,  it hits me:  I have no idea where she’s from, and did her parents love her?  Brothers?  Sisters?

What college did she go to, has she ever been married, is she even gay?

That last one stops me.

More and more I wonder about the ridiculousness of labels.  If last week she thought of herself as straight but leaning; last week I had my sexual juju humming at exactly zero.  So, everything changes.

I turn the pot down under the rice and press the remote to listen to her commentary.

“Lawrence, we were just looking at those clips of Michael Moore’s rally coming out of New York tonight, and there’s dozens of them all over the country on the eve of Trump’s inauguration.  We’re all seeing something we haven’t seen since the 70s, and it’s heading straight toward this presidency.

“A presidency based on whatever flies in front of the man’s face.  Policy in two seconds!”  She snaps her fingers.  “And his old favorite, of course,  the five billion dollar border wall that Congress will never let out of appropriations.”

Lawrence says, “And Mexico, of course, knows this.  But about this team of advisors he has around him.  They’re people no one’s ever heard of before.  I mean, I’ve heard of one or two of them, but they would be at the bottom, I mean at the very bottom of anyone’s list of choices, and yet, here they are.”

“I have a suggestion, Lawrence.  It’s part of my stress management.  I watch MARVEL comic action flicks.  They’re full of power hungry Luddites and crazy men.”  She gives her hair a flip,  “And they step on their _______, a word I can’t say on cable news, and fail miserably.”

“So your advice for us tonight is: watch TV and hope for super heros?”

She’s full screen again and there’s a dimple in her smile I hadn’t noticed before.  And here’s another hair flip.  ”Hey!  What can I say?  I believe she’s out there!”

I admit it.  I’m smitten.

 

____

 

Stay tuned for Chapter 4.

 

 


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C O U N T D O W N: Missing Hours – Chapter Two

(If you’re just joining the story, Chapter One – Dr. Porter is here http://wp.me/p4AUvc-nZ4 )

Dateline:  January 15, 2017

Five Days Until Inauguration Day

Chapter Two – Missing Hours

My missing hours have become a meditation exercise.

I’m staring at a doorknob.  Staring deeply at a doorknob.  I’m entering a spiral, going deeper into the spiral, following my breath…to escape my anger that’s been simmering for hours.

 

This doorknob has real meaning for me.  It is the doorknob on a closed door that I want to throw open.  Turning that knob would lead me to freedom and drop the curtain on this bad piece of  theater –starring the intercept team in dark suits — and this exasperating interlude would end.

I don’t consider myself a naive person.  So, how did this happen?

Days ago, I’d whispered into a comatose combat veteran’s ear that Donald Trump was crazy and I had some answers for the right people who wanted to get serious about this bullshit.  Did I expect anyone to show up?

No.  Never.

But they had shown up and I had taken them seriously.

During the drive over to the house with the doorknob I’d worked out a clear meeting agenda in my head.  Using the Socratic Method applied to the subject of brain science, I’d created a step by step process for people unfamiliar with neurology to follow. I had believed I was in possession of the golden keys to this meeting.

Standing before them in the main room of what I can only guess would be called a Safe House – a place for stashing people of interest until the heat has died down – I had delivered the following opening statement, but not in one of my power suits, not in one of my pristine lab coats, but in my riding attire of knee high boots and jodhpurs.  The team had nabbed me at my office after I’d returned from the barn.

During my presentation the agents had sat on a sofa and chairs and were dressed in nearly identical dark business suits.  Before beginning my statement, I’d decided not to mention how the swarm identity they were exhibiting would likely led them straight to Groupthink whenever considering a case together.  Their cognitive problems would have to come later.  We had national security issues to tackle first, and so, I had begun.

“President-elect Donald Trump’s non compos mentis exhibits as a psychosis.  Signs of this as being true are observable and well documented. Here is a list of behaviors that should be setting off alarm bells that America is on the brink of violating its Constitution.  Up until this moment, I had believed these catastrophic signals had been falling upon deaf ears.  This I’d found disturbing and increasingly odd.  Five days out from inauguration, I’m grateful to share them with you.

“First, Donald Trump is a compulsive liar.  Second, he experiences events by way of interpreting them through his hallucinations that he believes are real. Third, his mental derangements, his inability to recall events as they truly occurred minutes, hours or days before, is an acute form of psychosis.”

Then I had sat down, brushed a bit of horse hair off my jacket, crossed my legs and had waited for them to spring into action.

But that’s not what had happened and we are still sitting here.

The missing hours…

I hear the rustling of clothing off to my left and I tense at what I suspect will be another question that challenges my patience. Is it possible they believe the laws of science could have changed in these last hours?  That the facts of neurology will be different and by waiting they’ll get a different set of answers out of me?

When the rustling stops I turn my attention from the doorknob to a man in a suit who asks, “What medical proof do you have Dr Porter that President-elect Trump’s mentally impaired?”

“That’s a great question, as I’ve said the last twenty times you’ve asked it, and I’ll repeat for the twenty-first time my answer that your use of the word “impaired” slights the seriousness of his mental illness.  Please correctly state his condition as mental derangement. Mental impairment implies that you believe Trump suffers from something like a concussion.  A condition that will pass over time. I’ve stated the exact opposite of that. Donald Trump’s behavior will not reestablish itself back into any reliable state of equilibrium.  Why?  Because his delusional behavior instead presents as a persistent peaking effect of his mental psychosis.  Which means, Donald Trump spends more time in delusions than he does in reality.”

The man in suit continues, “So, you have no proof, just theories.”

I shoot back, “Are you confused perhaps about how theory is applied to research?  I’m not using the term theory in the way a man like yourself might dream up a “theory” — that if you get a burner phone and only call your mistress on it your wife will never find out you’re having an affair.  You could mistakenly call that a theory, but you’d be using the word incorrectly, and using it to assuage your guilt, whereby further giving yourself permission to cheat on your wife.  In that case, what you’re using is not a theory at all, but a flawed strategy of deceit.”

I must’ve hit a nerve because Agent 2 storms out of the room and another man clears his throat to regain the floor,  “How do you develop your theories Doctor Porter?”

But I’m still having fun mind-fucking Agent 2 so I shout,  “If you’d asked me I could’ve plotted with mathematical certainty if you’d get caught cheating.”  I cup my hands around my mouth in a mini megaphone. “FYI!  The key is plugging in more variables than a stupid burner phone.”

“I believe you’ve drilled in your point, Doctor Porter.”

“Have I?  Good.  Because I’m ready to leave.”

“Not yet.”

“Look, unlike a cut on your finger, or a broken bone that will heal, the human brain does not work that way.  The brain is not a bone-knitting type healer for itself.  It’s a complicated organ.  It has many regions that are constantly doing automatic things, like breathing and beating your heart and creating fluctuations in your body’s endocrine system.  The brain does other things, such as, comprehension tasks, as in seeing what’s right in front of you.  If it’s healthy it sees what’s actually there.  If it’s Trump’s brain it filters real time as a mass hallucination.”

I pause for effect, because this is the most serious problem the President-elect has, whereby making it the most serious problem we all have.  “Let me ask you a question.  When everyone watches the same thing, a replay of a video clip for instance, do we see what Donald Trump says he sees?  No we do not.”

“What’s the endocring system?”  This is his lame follow up.

“E N D O C R I N E system, with an e.  Goddammit! I should fucking bill you people at this point for being so stupid and wasting my time!  If I knew where to send an invoice I absolutely would.  Give me your business card, please.”

I lean over snapping my fingers together and opening my hand for someone’s business card.  “It would be for $800 by the way.  I’m four hundred an hour, when not in surgery.  You, and Agents 1 through 5, need to sharpen up, because I’m leaving here in five minutes. Non-negotiable.”

Then the only woman on their team takes over.  “Okay, Doctor Porter, we realize you’re a specialist with years of experience and training.”

She’s the one who coaxed me into the car to begin with.

“I will kick right through that door with these boots.  I hope you’re hearing me.”

“I’m hearing you.”  She nods and sends me – what must pass for an sympathetic look in the intelligence community – a softening of her eyes that only makes her look sleepy.

 

“Then pay closer attention because this is my last lesson on the subject of the deterioration of cognitive function.”  I lean forward and tick off the issues to make my point.  “Is one lie a symptom of deterioration?” I hold up one finger.  “The answer would be no.  Are five Trump lies a symptom of a something being off cognitively?” I hold five fingers up. “How about a hundred?  Or a thousand?”

At this point I’m feeling deranged.

“Are conspiracy theories a symptom of psychosis? Is bullying and incessant ridicule a sign of mental trouble?  Is threatening people?  How about sexually assaulting women and kidding about it?  Is that troubling enough for you?”

“People who know him say that’s his personality.  He’s a bullying-type of guy.  I don’t see how that can be proof of mental instability.”

“To you hurting people intentionally is a sign of mental stability?”

“I did not say that.”

“But you did just say that!  You dismiss every symptom I point out  as non-problematic for a world leader to possess.  Otherwise you would get on the phone and begin,  what I would hope would be, a rapidly escalating series of steps to stop Trump from taking office!”

Then I stop shouting and my tone becomes lighter.  “Look, we’re not talking about just any “Crazy Joe” sitting on a park bench talking to invisible pigeons.  Delusions, ideas of impossible grandiosity, lying as second nature…these are symptoms, no Goddammit, they are proof that he’s mentally deranged.”

At this point she glances at the man sitting next to her on the couch, but I can’t read what’s exchanged quickly between them.

I lean forward to focus their attention back on me.  “My last point as it pertains to his delusions.  Have you heard any strange and grandiose ideas about building a two thousand mile long border wall?”

None of the agents will look me in the eyes.  They stare everywhere but at me.

“Please just bring him over to where I work, or I’ll meet you at Walter Reed and take some blood samples, do a CT scan and run him through the MRI.”

“That’s just not going to happen today.”  She stands up, as my signal I can leave.

Did I sense a feeling of regret in her voice?

“You know, Agent 4, reality should not have to grasped at, as if it were a balloon floating away from you.”  I knock the side of my head to make my point.  “Reality should already be firmly in here by the age of three.”

 

 

Even though I saw him earlier, I drive back to the barn to see Nightingale.  I really don’t want to talk to anymore humans today, in fact, the thought of a human voice feels like shattered glass cutting into my skin.  I need the smell and nustling of my horse.

I slip his halter over his nose and fasten it behind his ears and with a lead rope I guide him out of his stall and down the centerline of the stable.  He blows out a long exhale and makes significant snorts, as one by one the other horses in the barn extend their heads and necks out over their stall doors and snort back as we pass.

Nightingale and I clop along the frost covered path that encircles the riding ring.  It’s dark, nearly 7pm, and there’s not another human soul in sight. I may walk in circles with no destination for hours just followed by my horse. I have serious thinking to do, but no wish to concentrate on any of it.

I halt our forward movement and throw my arms around Nightingale’s neck.  I almost feel like weeping, as I bury myself in his mane and muscle, when out of the blue the, “OMG! We’re all going to die!” pinned tweet of the sexy TV pundit swims up in my mind and I groan instead.  Partly out of sexual frustration and admitting it to myself.

If I had married I would’ve been divorced six times over by now.  I am, so they say, not easy to get along with on a long term basis.  I’m brilliant for a year, and then I get bored.  The women may look even better than when I began dating them.  It’s just that I like silence much more than I enjoy constant engagement.  This makes me an odd combination of being professionally extroverted, and when in the mood, sexually aggressive in pursuit, but also possessing the anomalous traits of a social outlier.

Thus the horse, the empty bed and no dates on the books.

I reach in my pocket for the apple I brought for Nightingale and up with it comes a crumpled note stuck to its peel.

 

Navigating through the wide curves around Dupont Circle I turn onto N St and miraculously find a parking space near the Tabard Inn.  An hour ago I was certain I wanted to be left alone, but the invitation, coming as it did, secreted to me in my jacket pocket, spurred me onto the interstate and straight into Washington, D.C.  Had the mysterious note been an invitation to meet in a suite at the new Trump hotel, I would still be walking around in circles.

Taking two steps at time up the stairway I’m surprised to see The Tabard Inn’s quaint lobby empty, with not even a desk clerk in sight.  Then I remember, of course, in the days ahead of the upcoming inauguration of our puppet president every Democrat with any means has bolted from Washington.

Standing in front of Room 303, it opens after I knock lightly, and I’m met first, by the scent of perfume and then, this woman appears in front of me.

The TV pundit, who never wears this kind of dress on air.  I can barely tear my eyes from her plunging neckline.

“I recognize you, which makes me wonder if I have the right room?”  Saying this, I reluctantly lift my eyes to look into hers, that crinkle at their sides as she steps backwards and ushers me through the door.

In the rear of the room I spot the woman intelligence officer, who’s quickly gathering her keys and phone off the top of a table and brushing past me she whispers, “I thought you two should meet.”

And then, she’s gone like a puff of smoke and the door clicks closed behind her.

“May I offer you a drink?”  Asks the TV pundit.  “My name’s Maria and you are, of course, Doctor Porter.”

I practically dive at the bar while insisting that she call me, Bette.

“Did you come from fox hunting or something?”  She illustrates with a sweep of her hand over my riding clothes.  “Nice boots.”

“You don’t hunt foxes at night on horseback.”  I swallow an inch of Scotch in one gulp.  “May I fix you something?”

“What you’re having is fine.”

I turn back to the bar and catch my reflection in a mirror.  My hair seems to be having an electrical reaction to meeting her and has taken upon itself to curl even wilder.  I run my hands through it in a vain attempt to look normal, and then pick up our drinks to join her.

“I’ve seen you on television, many times.  You’re smart and so amusing.”

“I looked you up on the internet.”

I lean back in my chair trying my best to look relaxed.  “That must’ve been dull going.”

She laughs and says, “No, not at all, but I’ll admit to not understanding much in a recent speech of yours.”

I look puzzled.

“I watched the talk you gave in San Francisco on YouTube.”  She opens a reporter’s notebook I hadn’t noticed before, and flipping through a few pages she stops and reads, “Moyamoya Disease Explored Through RNF213.”

“Yes, that would be a confusing topic.  Please don’t ask me to explain it to you.  I’ve had quite a day.”

“So I’ve heard.”  She sips her Scotch and smiles at me.

“Are you married?”  I hear myself asking without meaning to.  God Lord!  Where is my filter?

She looks puzzled but quickly answers, “No, are you?”  Her question ending with a delightful lilting laugh.

“I don’t know why I said that,” I confess.  “I haven’t had dinner, or lunch for that matter.”

“Let’s order something, Bette Porter.  What would you like?”

“Poached salmon, asparagus with hollandaise and french fries. You?”

“I’ve had dinner already so,…I’m thinking of dessert.  Do you like chocolate?”  She asks while dialing for Room Service.”

It didn’t take long after dinner, wine and more Scotch to find ourselves, with her shoes my boots off, leaning back against the Tabard Inn’s headboard and talking about everything, but Donald Trump.

At one point during dinner, when she had slipped french fry after french fry off my plate, I’d brought up the topic of his hallucinations, which we talked about in some depth, but soon the topic drunkenly drifted, as things do, to her telling me a story about dropping ecstasy at Burning Man last summer.

 

 

I had stared into her eyes as she described her out of body experience of joining with a ring of naked dancers around a bonfire that had at its center — a forty foot high effigy of Donald Trump engulfed in flames.

Now we’re leaning back against the pillows, and she’s telling me more extraordinary things that happened to her at Burning Man, until finally looking over at her I cannot stop my desire of falling lips first into her cleavage.

I watch her taking a sip of red wine and then lightly licking a droplet away from the top of her lip.

“I need to tell you something.”  I say very softly while my hand slides inside her dress and finds her nipple.

“Hmm,” she whispers back, “the hands of a surgeon.”

“A brain surgeon,” I remind her before we kiss.

She slides down into the bed and pulls me on top of her.  “I’m a little dusty from the horses.  Does that bother you?” I ask.

“I smell them on your neck.”  She licks up my skin to just under my ear.  “Salty.”

Slipping her dress off her shoulders, I forget every annoyance of today and think of only curves and nipples and sucking them.  She opens her legs to me and moves my hand into a sensation of waves of her wetness and heat. Our lips meet in a kiss, that becomes a dance of tongues inside her mouth and mine, and she bites my neck when I slide inside her.  Another long kiss and she pulls my shirt tails out of my riding pants and whispers she wants me naked.

“I hate to stop,” I half moan in her ear.

“More of you,” she says while pulling her dress over her head.

Nude and kneeling at the edge of the bed, she pulls my riding pants off and somewhere over her shoulder sail my bra and panties.   One french manicured finger traces down the single strip of hair that I wax into a thin line straight to my clitoris.  In circles she plays with my aching for her.

Closing my eyes, I feel her lips on mine, her breasts pressed against me, the pleasure of her sliding inside me, we make love slowly and rhythmically…riding the long waves of pleasure and sensation.

I roll her over and suddenly the awareness of my fantasy unfolding – the vision I’ve had of her under me – the longed for realness of being with her, sends my animal brain up to eleven.

Transformed, I hear a gasp of breath from her and everything changes between us.  Everything.

She digs her fingernails into my back, and cries, “Jesus!  Fuck me,” and we’re locked on a ride of throbbing currents, until the sounds and shockwaves of our final climax… shoots through me…far, so very far from my control.

 

 

 

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Hope you enjoyed Chapter Two.