The L Word : Behind the Scenes

The L Word Bette Porter Tina Kennard


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The Lucky Ones

California lodge

Big Bear – Bette

I can’t keep up and I don’t want to anymore. I can’t sign fast enough. I can’t understand theirs quick enough and I can’t sit here with a smile frozen on my face one moment longer. I’m literally cracking up. I need air and I need freedom.  Quickly, I find my coat and scarf,  sign to Jodie that I’m going for a hike – alone – and I throw open the  backdoor.  I’ve had nightmares I’ve enjoyed more than this weekend.

Outside now, I hear Michelangelo’s ax split through a log. I wait and listen. His ax falls again. Good, the nosy bastard’s not following me. Cautiously, I slip into the cover of the tree line, and quietly as I can, I move farther and farther away.

All weekend long, none of my remedies to keep myself from climbing the walls have helped. I tried marijuana, then a nap. I tried reading by the lake to disastrous results.  Some how, some day, and somewhere someone will pay for that! A stealthy exit is what I need to get the fuck away from here, but I’d take a noisy beating helicopter if one appeared and dropped down a rope for my rescue. With luck I’d manage to hang on until I smelled the rusty smoggy air of Los Angeles. Then, I’d release my grip, splash into my pool, only to discover this has all been a terrible, terrible dream.

But at what point would I wish to wake up? Where could I have stanched the bleeding, stopped the destruction, and saved us all? I have no idea, and that’s my problem.

Forlorn, I lean against a tree. The mossy bark is cool and pleasantly spongy against my cheek. My arms instinctively encircle its trunk, as if I’m holding onto another species for dear life. The ground below me – or is it my mind that feels slippery and quaky and so unsure – or is the earth really shaking?

My face tigthens in a grimace: Michelangelo, I’m certain in a move to humiliation me, made all of his guests at Big Bear watch Jodie and Alice’s embarrassing podcast after lunch. Smirking at me while he translating Jodi’s sexually revealing answered has finished me.

Nauseasous at the memory, I cling to the tree and consider the pallative effects of vomiting.

Surrounded by Jodie’s band of babbling idiots is not the time to end this. No, “someone” would throw me back in the lake, and I’d have to hit him with the car, or beat him with an ax to escape. It all sounds like too much trouble, and I’m far too depressed. I just want to wake up at home with Tina and Angie, as if I’ve just gotten out of the pool from a very splashy swim.

For the fucking love of everything that’s Holy? What part of “Please don’t discuss my personal life – ever,” could have been unclear to Jodie?  Tina and I were together for years! Even blind drunk and tripping on mescaline would Tina have ever said, “Oh, by the way this morning Bette gave up being The Top and wanted me to fuck her?”

The answer is goddamn never. Just goddamn never.

I let loose of the tree and watch a lone hawk flying overhead. The house Tina and I love is just over the ridge, where the ground I know would feel solid again.

Can I ever get back to that fireside, to the even sounds of Tina’s breathing, until our lovemaking had made them change? Or is it too late? I’ve got to see her again and try to explain.

But first, who the fuck is Brenda?  I take out my cell phone.

Text to Shane:

“Who the fuck is Brenda?”

Text from Shane:

“No idea. Brenda?”

Text to Shane:

“Tina seeing her. Busty Brenda, ring a bell?”

Text from Shane:

“Alice says ❤ Dr 2 nice 2 happy tho.”

Text to Shane:

“Could I take her?”

Text from Shane:

“Hot oil wrestling? We think in a ❤ beat 😉 get it?”

Text to Shane:

:~)

Text from Shane:

“Thght ur writing abt Kit getting robbed. 😦 ”

Text to Shane:

“WTF?”

Text from Shane:

“Ck Ur messages. Kit OK n tried to call U.”

Tina_Raft_Halfnaked

Bette’s Garden – Tina

When news of Kit being robbed and shaken up had reached her that was all it took for Bette to zoom back home from Big Bear to see for herself. And while I’d hoped for a quiet afternoon with no drama – just to float and think slower and slower thoughts – she’s surprisingly quiet, but anxious. I never can figure her out when she gets moody like this.  God knows, I’ve tried.

But there’s a list of things that could be eating at her. Possibly, the news of Jodie’s podcast, that I’m sure didn’t go over too well, and Kit’s robbery is disturbing. Those, along with something pretty bad that must have happened up at the lake, have put her into an odd, uncharacteristically quiet mood.

And then, there’s the matter of the Love Charm I grew impatient with holding onto.  Once she announced she needed me to take care of Angelica, while she and Jodie went off for a weekend in Big Bear, I’d stowed the charm deep inside a pocket in her luggage. Now, after having retrieved it from her baggage, it sits a few feet away from her chaise in my straw beach bag. I float on my raft and wait. It’s been working on her for days.

I hear the sound of a blender from her kitchen.

Bette’s poolside – Bette

I’ve heard of people poking themselves in the nose with drink umbrellas, but straws I realize can be quite painful, too. Tina floating a few feet away from me has blown out my attention. I’d sat down to “read” a magazine, but behind my sunglasses I’ve been trying to figure out the right opener for a conversation that I know must take place. All she did was unclasp her strap to knock me clear into a place that requires polarized lens and lots of lotion. I buzz and I drink my rum and want her.

I feel anxious and overly sexed and confused. Don’t I need to talk to her first? Or can I just jump in the pool now like it’s my fantastic splash down? I know rum’s been known to make me see red, and do crazy things, and be horny – but this?

I flip through the pages of Vanity Fair. God! The women in this magazine are all stunningly beautiful. The models and the ads sexier than Playboy fold-outs. But maybe that’s just me. I like to imagine the breast especially now that you’ve shown me most of it. I can take it a dozen ways beneath the silk. I telescope in on Tina’s body. I know exactly how salty she tastes. I remember the Yucatan.

It’d been cold in Los Angeles, and warm and sunny there so, we’d flown down one February. Thank God, for sex on boats and steady breezes to blow the mosquitoes away. It was a small skiff and an isolated island key, but you never know sometimes with vacation sex, it can just inadvertently happen. I tie it all back to my machete skills with the coconuts for warm but interesting drinks as we explored the little beaches. But still I was a bit surprised when she took the boat’s anchor line away from me and said, “Let’s stay a little longer.” The picture in my mind instead of what’s on the magazine page is her swimming suit falling on the deck, and then her saying, “Oops,” to  me.

My tongue twitches with the memory of the salty taste of her breasts, then it stings. I drink more rum and feel it change to a throb and a want. Goddammit! No entreating, opening words of wisdom come to me, just the tastes of sex and salt, and the smacking sounds of water against a boat rock me deeper into the predicament of what I need to say. My mind hijacked with thoughts of fucking instead of knowing the gestalt of everything – the second, third and fourth poignancies that shade my future, but swim elusive like dark schools of fish that hold the meanings to everything.

It’s undeniable. What’s fogging my insights are the riddles and masquerades of Alphas. I’m ready to beg her for it, and then marry her for it, and never let her go again to keep it. This paradox between us . . .Love. . . I look up to the smoggy LA sky for answers.

Tina sighs and dips her arms in the water to cool them. If I didn’t think I’d fall face first into the pool, I’d lean down and capture her raft and make a long firm lick all the way down her back, and into her suit.

Joyce got me drunk last week and after a lot of Scotch we had solved it: There’s nothing to us but pretty gestures and seductive lines, if the women of our affections aren’t playing. It’s true. There’s no magic in my life without her. I sense that what awaits me is a piece of music I can’t quite hear, but must entrain, or all this goes away.

I lean back and pretend to study my magazine as Tina sprinkles water along her back. Does sex make any sense? Or is all of it is just a head trip since we fuck each other in our minds, as much as with our bodies? And if I could think of the right words, the “lightning words,”  instead of nipples and what she  says into my ear sometimes when she gets close. I shiver and flip the page. This business of my tongue kidnapping my brain is seriously sidelining me.

“Bette, I’ve got to leave. Thank you for the quiet. I really needed it, but in two hours we’re supposed to be at the grand opening of the SheBar. I’ve got a date tonight, so I really can’t miss it.”

“But would you like to?”

“Maybe a little but I’m going with Brenda, and you’ve got a babysitter all lined up for you and Jodie. If it sucks, I’ll leave after an hour.”

“Oh, it’ll suck alright.”

“We have to go. Our mission is to snoop for Kit.” Tina gets out of the pool, and drops her bathing suit top by her towel. “So, you’ll get Angie up from her nap, and feed her before you go out? Or I’ll do it. I don’t mind.”

“I’ll be right in. Do you want to shower here? We can all sit down together for dinner. Her sitter comes at seven.”

“Sounds nice. I’ll be a minute. Rinse the salt off.”

“Take all the time you need. I’ve got lamb chops and asparagus.” But what I don’t admit is how I could use some time alone.

SheBar – Tina

The room is filled with hundreds of dancing women, and by staying in the shadows – even the hint of seeking anonymity – has caused everyone’s gaze to land on her. Unbeknownst to Bette the word is out: The SheBar Wrestler’s in the House.

I’d almost given up, but after an hour of dodging and searching and pacing she finally finds me. She parts the curtain and sees that I’m alone.

For Bette who can range from argumentative pragmatism to outlandish whimsy with consequences be damned Luck is Magic to her, and years ago she’d sold me completely – the two were ours and no one else’s.

Tonight, I finally say the word that has that special fire with her, “You’re lucky to be with Jodie, Bette.” And that’s when she pulls me to her.

SheBarKiss_1

Why I thought when the moment the Gypsy prepared me for came Bette would have words she needed to say to me, and that her pent-up feelings would find phrases, and that those would have meanings, and perhaps some of them we’d even talked about before – I have no idea. But as she takes me like the wind into her arms I realize she’s given up any hope of language.  She shows me everything with her kiss.

I open my mouth, and feel her stroke my neck as her lips ask me: ‘Did I want to remember her?’ And at first that kiss surprises me. Then, her insistent, ‘You must remember us,’ kiss has a desperate edge.

‘Are we too far gone? Am I too fucking broken?’ and her longing for me finally breaks her, and she shatters in my arms.

“Baby, I’m here. It’s okay. We can do this.” I tell her when she finally lets me speak.

“I love you so much. I’ve been so fucking lost. Tina, you have no idea.”

SheBarKISS_Story

Bette’s House – Thursday Night 10pm – Tina

As Bette shuts the front door after paying the babysitter, I walk up behind her.

“Babe, I’ve got something I want to talk to you about.” Her eyes search me for a sign. “It’s nothing to do with us. It’s something else.” I lean in and kiss her.

“Can it wait a minute? I’ve really missed this.” She presses against me and opens my mouth wider. I lift up her blouse and in a whoosh it’s over her head. She gives me her best “come on” look, and I see the burn coming into her eyes.

“I’m glad you keep the curtains down now at night.”

“Fucking Jenny Schecter! But please, God! Let’s not talk about her.” She unzips my dress.  It falls to the floor.

“Definitely not.”  I step out of it and reach into her curls, pulling her to me. As we kiss, I hear a vibration coming out of her chest. “On second thought, everything I want to say can wait.” I unsnap her bra, “I’m taking you to bed.”

“Oh!” Her eyes flash at me. “You’re taking me to bed?” She unfastens my bra, and lays it across her shoulder, as we back up toward our target – the bedroom.

Pulling mine down from my legs, she asks at the doorway, “Do you remember the night I had your panties in my pocket and accidentally tried to use them for a handkerchief?”

“Actually, you’ve done that more than once, Bette. Now, hand yours over for the night.”

She smiles and a lacy chocolate colored pair flies through the air, as we fall back on the bed.

“God, I’ve missed your body.” I lean in and slowly suck her breast. Her hands on my back scratch me slowly.

“Baby, I’ve missed everything about you,” she sighs. “Where I’ve been is a terrible story.  I swear to you I will never repeat.”

Bette_Tina_in Bed_talking Story picture

“What was wrong with you this afternoon? Didn’t you realize I was trying to seduce you?” I kiss her, and wait for her answer.

“I got so tangled up in the Yucatan.”

“What?” I laugh.

“I. . . I’ve been a coward.” She rubs her face. “Honestly, I’ve been trying not to… you know?”

“The irony of me being the “other woman” in your bed is not lost on me.”

“Not to break the mood, but just for the fucking record – Candace was never in this bed – I went over there. For like four days! A fucking long weekend! Years ago!”

“I know you’ll never do it again.” We take off on long kiss and somewhere in it we come to forgiveness. Bette lightly traces her tongue down my neck. The muscles of her stomach tighten, as I circle my fingers over and over on her clitoris.  A long moan and another wave between us begins.

Grt Kiss Tina on Top

“Your body’s changed, Bette. I could see it in the wrestling ring.”

“Me? You were still milky and recently pregnant!”

“But Baby, your muscles.” I kiss down her stomach and patches of squares appear under my lips.

“I am. I’m showing off.” She leans up and makes them pop even more. It’s torture keeping them.” Then, she pulls me up to her.

“Sit in my lap. I’ve really missed you.”  Wrapping my legs around her, she strokes inside my thighs. I feel her kiss, and her fingers pressing into me. For long moments, it’s only the feelings of her tongue, and the aching she makes happen inside me, and then everything syncs and beats into a vibration.

Bette_veryGood_goldenKiss

I scratch lighter then harder across her lower back, and watch as her eyes change, becoming darker. Her hand holds the back of my neck, and inside me I feel more pulsing.

“Are you here tomorrow and then the next week and the next?” She demands and kisses me hard, then breaks away. “What are you doing? I love you, and I want you back, Tina.”

“Coming home.” I grip my hands behind her back, and the electric rings inside me grow.

Bette’s Bedroom – Bette

Somewhere between her breath on my face and the smell of her, I disappeared into mists and waves of pleasure. She twitches her muscles against my fingers inside her, and my heart takes off.

Bette_Tina CU golden toned KISS

I close my eyes and feel Tina fall against my shoulder, and twist my nipple. Then again harder.

I flash open my eyes. “Christ! My attention! You have it.”

“Where do you keep going?” Tina asks into my ear.

“My heart, it feels so tight, and it feels very fast.” My breath comes out hot against Tina’s neck. “Something’s happening. I might be dying.”

Tina widens her eyes in disbelief. “Bette, you’re too young for a heart attack.”

“It would be so cruel to fall dead during make up sex.” I hold my lips so they barely touch hers. “But let’s say I am.” I pull out of her as she tries to kiss me. I circle round and round on her clitoris, and feel the heat from her in my hand. Her thighs around my waist begin to shake. I lick inside her mouth, and I push back inside her. Tina cries out, and sucks my tongue.

“Baby, wait, it’s almost too much, but just right.” She moves slowly up and down in my lap. The tops of her legs continue to shake, then her hand slips between my legs, and rubs me. The pleasure spins around and around in my brain, then burns into the place I know I am inside her, where she throbs against my fingertips. I just need…

She flares a long scratch across my back. “God! That hurts!” I burst against her neck, and with her own cry she begins to shake against me.  My orgasm releases like a whip, and I’m there in the waves with her.

Later – Bette’s Bedroom – Tina

Our breath slower, our sweat slick and warm against my skin, I kiss her slowly, as I open my legs, and feel Bette’s thigh rub against an ache I can’t believe I still have. I touch the wet place I’m leaving on her leg, and she rubs against my fingers and moans. I kiss her lips one by one and tease her tongue.

“I love you.” Bette says, as she kisses my breasts, and her tongue leaves a moist trail down my belly. I close my eyes and feel her lick inside me, as she makes love to me – again.

“Bette, I don’t know. I might be done.”

I open my eyes and see her shoulders rise, and feel her lift me off the bed, as she licks deep inside me. After wrapping ourselves together minutes ago in passion the feeling of her back again so quickly – it feels nearly too much.

As the twisting of her tongue slides inside me, I fight with my emotions. Everything about her need to find and toy with and then, take all the last parts of me overwhelms me.

“You did this with her? Thinking that you did our thing with your tongue – it’s making me crazy.”

She lifts up from me. “Never. Just us, only us.”

Her fingers come back inside me, and connect again all the wanting, waiting places. My body in waves again runs along the currents with hers. She sucks me harder, and then teases me lighter and lighter, and then, I’m back in her mouth. Holding her to me, I beg her not to stop.

Bette’s Bedroom – Midnight – Bette

Tina lies against my shoulder.  “Scotch or wine?” I ask.

“If we drink Scotch, will you sleep? Because you can’t have me anymore.” Tina says.

“What the fuck?” I rise up on my elbows.

“Anymore tonight. I’ll get the Scotch and aspirin and going to sleep. Right?” Tina slips on my blue silk bathrobe that’s too big for her.

“Yes. Absolutely right.” I salute her from the bed, and fall backwards.

When Tina returns she hands me my drink, and lying back in bed her robe falls open. I drink a long swallow of Scotch and lie in her lap to enjoy our post coital hum

“I should have told you this a long time ago, Bette. And you promised me we’d drink this and go to sleep. Right?”

I stir around in her lap. “Is this going to irritate me? I can’t fall asleep pissed off.”

She puts her hand against my chest and rubs me.  “Baby, please this isn’t about you, but I’ve held it in because it’s something that hurt me. So, please listen to me, and don’t jump up, or go for your Bowie knife.”

“That bad?” I laugh at what I’m sure is an exaggeration. “Okay. I’m listening.” I settle back in her lap, and drink my Scotch as proof of contentment.

“A long time ago when I was young my sister and I at night in her bedroom…”

I watch Tina’s lips quiver.

“The abuse was bad. It went on for years.” Her eyes become cloudy, and unmistakably sad.

“Baby, what can I do? You said stay here and listen. That’s proving hard for me. I want to book a flight for wherever the fuck she is.” Then, Tina touches my face, as she begins to cry.

I hold her chin in my hand, slowly kiss her lips, and lie back down to wait with her, as she sobs. When she quiets, I put our glasses away, and take her into in my arms.

“There’s nothing to do about it.” She rest her cheek against my neck, and holds my hand across her heart, and releases a shaky sigh.

I stare angrily at the ceiling. “I could strangle her.”

“Don’t please. It’s part of why I don’t tell you things.”

“Things?” I ask suspiciously.

“Part of coming back to you is that I wanted you to know. And there are no other things. Like that anyway.”

“Okay.” I sigh. “But wait. . .not okay. Come closer to me.”

Tina puts her leg across me, and I feel her soft strip of hair against my thigh. I’m pissed off and tired and starting to want her again, but it’s getting so late, and yet, I wonder: Should I tell her?

“T, are you still awake?”

“Yes.”

“In college I was pregnant and had a miscarriage.”

“You what?” Tina pops up on her elbow next to me.

“It was with Coleman. We were just amusing ourselves. I never told him I was pregnant. I never told anyone, but I’m telling you.” I stop, as Tina watches me closely.

I struggle to find the words. ”When it happened to you, I felt like I knew how you felt.” I rub my forehead, and look at her in confusion. ”Then I cried and knew I didn’t know.” I wipe away my tears.

”Everything about what we had, that we were starting a family, and back then I was in college – so young! And with Coleman, of all people as it turned out! But it happened, and then in two months it was over, and it was just my secret, Tina.” I sigh and look at her.

“Secrets. They just happen like that and then, years pass.  I know.” She kisses my forehead.

“And I was sad and relieved – I didn’t want to end up with men.”  A sigh of sadness escapes me, and then one filled with relief. “I was twenty, Tina, and after that I was through with men. I was done.”

“Bette, you could’ve said something to me.”

“And when we go to the church sometimes to light the candle – it’s about the lost one, ours. And when I leave, and drive away the one I had – those thoughts will come back to me, but they’re only vaguely haunting now. It’s easier, when not another soul knows.”

“Is it?” Tina asks.

I cry softly to myself, and then wipe my last tear. “T, do we want more children?”

“I do, don’t you?”

“At least one more, don’t you think?” I smile at Tina, and reach behind her head and kiss her.

“Bette, that would make me really happy. After the movie’s finished, I’ll try again. Unless you. . .?”

“Me? God no! My abs, Tina, I’m much too vain about them.”

“Bette?”

“I can’t talk about what to do about Jodie tonight, T. I need to do it where there are not expensive objects, or power tools, or microphones, or people.”

“The desert?” Tina laughs.

“Oh, Jesus. It never ends. If she pushes me into a huge cactus, that will really hurt.”

“Thankfully, she’s your problem. I’m going to sleep.”

I lean over to kiss her good night. “I’ll turn the lights off around the house, and then I’ll be back. Don’t go anywhere.”

I hear Tina laugh but I worry about things anyway.

__________________

Click here for the next story.

33. “Coming Home”  http://bit.ly/comingHome
I noticed if you click Next Post -> it takes you to the first chapter of our espionage series, WET WORK. Please click this link to read the lovely story, “Coming Home” in this WeHo behind the scenes series. http://bit.ly/comingHome 

1. In part of this series, there’s a story about Bette’s tongue’s radar, _Tongue Tales_ at this link on this site.

2. There is also a long love story called, _I Remember Rivers_ that has the reference to Samuel Clemens quote about lightning words versus lightning bugs here on this site.

Hope you enjoyed the story and drop a comment if you do!

Blackbird

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Fit for Battle – Bette Porter and Tina Kennard

Bette_XtrmCU_B&W

Bette’s Office – Bette

“Tina, I need a goddamn name.” I pace back and forth behind my desk and shout into my cell phone. “Tell your publicity people I’m coming over there and ripping every goddamn tattoo I see off their fucking arms until they help me get those pictures off the Internet.”

I hear James’ voice on the intercom. “Bette, it’s that reporter again from the gay press in Austin.”

“Why don’t your PR people care? Gossip bloggers are framing Lez Girls as a lesbian wrestling movie with me as its star!” I vent in disbelief.

I slap the button on my desk phone. “James! For tenth Goddamn time tell him to fuck off!”

I continue my tirade with Tina. “Just because you’re unrecognizable face down in that woman’s crotch you and your movie aren’t exposed? That’s actually Shaolin’s position?” I ask incredulously.

“At least you had your shirt on.” Tina says over the phone.

“What? As if that matters!” I stop dead in my tracks and look at the phone in disbelief. “Tina, okay, sorry I’m shouting. You just cannot believe the looks I’m getting around here! First, it was the fucking snickers and leers when Jenny’s book came out. Now this! So much worse,” I say inconsolably, “much, much worse.”

“I know it looks bad for a dean, for you. I don’t know what to say.”

Outside my office the phone rings again.  James engages our intercom. I beat him to the punch. “James, if it’s that She Beast bottom feeder from TMZ calling back tell her I’m on my over there with the lawyer who ruined her fucking father!”

“Bette, it’s Joyce Wishnia. She says she put Phyllis on the plane to Chicago. Do you want me to take a message?” James asks.

“God! No! James, find when and where I can meet her today, tonight, anywhere, anytime. Just get me a meeting with Joyce!”

“Bette, what are you doing with Joyce?” Tina asks with a note of suspicion in her tone. Little wonder, Joyce was either our hammer or the nails into each other before we came to our senses.

“What do you mean? Of course, I’m paying her to get the photos of me off the internet! Tina, are you not aware that I’m smack in the middle of a major fundraising campaign? The timing couldn’t be worse. It just couldn’t be worse.” I sigh wretchedly .

“I didn’t see anyone else at the club, did you?” Tina asks.

“I saw no one else while we were there except, Alice.” I stop pacing as a clammy chill creeps up my spine. “Tina,” I ask deadly serious, “Alice wouldn’t, would she?”

“Noooo! I can’t imagine it, Bette. And don’t call her up and accuse her, or even ask. There’s something called metadata linked to everything posted. Ask Joyce’s forensic guys. They’ll know what it is and how to understand it.”

“Well, I know what it means in Latin. It means “beyond the facts” and if it can lead me straight to the little motherfucker that’s doing this then it’ll be supra-data.” I lean over my desk and make a note, “metadata” and then stash it in my purse.

“Bette, I’m walking into a meeting, the first Table Read with the cast, and of course, Jenny’s here.”

“Does Kate come to things like that?” Bette asks forgetting her other concerns for the moment.

“Kate’s not here.”

“Good. Goddamn this mess. Okay, okay, bye.”

Tina_Phone_ArmLifted_Movietrailers

 

Shaolin Studio Back Lot – Tina

As I hang up the phone with Bette I see how many text messages and emails I’ve got to answer. Things are starting to pile up on me and it worries me that Angelica has had nothing but stressed out Moms for the last few days. Oh, I’m so fucking kidding myself. It’s been for her whole short life! It never stops and for the next thirty-three days of production I can’t see myself being chilled out anytime soon. Maybe when Bette goes to Big Bear with Jodie. Maybe then I’ll have a day with Angelica and can swim and lie out by the pool. Even two hours would be welcome. Just two hours of not being around nearly hysterical, overly stressed, head-tripping women. Jenny has taken me over and beyond my limit.

I see one of my texts is from her new assistant, Adele, who’ll be worth her weight in gold if she’ll keep Jenny from disrupting my life even more.

“Pls U be there in 15 with Jenny. C U South Lot conference room.” I text Adele as I walk down the long line of production trailers and nod and wave good morning to the growing numbers in our movie crew. I think about Bette taking off soon for Big Bear. A weekend trip I do and don’t want her to take.

I couldn’t believe my luck when she told me over the phone yesterday that she was staying in a house built by Jodie’s best friend, Michelangelo, whose sobriquet had gotten on Bette’s nerves already. And it should because – and I didn’t tell her – but I’ve met the apish grinning, Michelangelo before. There can’t be two of them, even in Los Angeles.

It was years ago when I lived in Santa Monica and he used to bounce into the arts center off Michigan Ave when he was in town. His facile friendly way and cheesy anti-urbane manner of speaking Bette will see through and hate on sight. And if he’s still not bathing regularly that wind will waft unpleasantly around her, too. I laugh to myself. Bette has a nightmare weekend ahead of her and just when she could use some clean mountain air and a few good long walks along with all the other things we used to do whenever we went up there. Nope, instead she’s got Michelangelo and Jodie.

I hop up the three short steps into an unassigned production trailer and kneel down to check the small fridge for cold water. It’s unseasonably hot and it feels like earthquake weather. Even thinking that makes me nervous. I push the thoughts of tremors and wanting a Xanax from my mind.

big bear

I take a long sip of cool water and scroll through my messages. In Big Bear we always stayed in log houses with incredible views from the master suite’s bedroom windows. I shake my head and smile at the memory. It was late one afternoon way up a mountain pass, miles away from easy restaurant take out, when I first realized Bette had no idea how to cook.

We’d been lazing by the fire drinking wine when my stomach had growled.

“Did you like the omelet I made you for breakfast? Say the word and I’ll make you another one for dinner.” It was then I realized: If I didn’t want more eggs I was done for.

I sit down on the couch inside the empty trailer and put my head in my hands. How many times can I fall in love with her? Two, three, or four times? And which one is this? Two or three? Or is it the same one and now my head is clearer? Or is it?

The sharp edges of the trailer’s counter tops catch my attention and my Gypsy scar itches. I rub it against the cushions behind me. Going in and out of trailers all day long I can’t help myself. I think about Allsweld. And wouldn’t you know it? Nikki Stevens, the film’s star? A dead fucking ringer for my long dead cousin, Lucy. It’s just right in my face again and again all day long. But I had to cast Nikki. There was no way around it. Every time I look at her I control my urge to vomit. I let out a jagged sigh. Bette doesn’t know about Nikki either.

I remember a time during a winter holiday that I had lied to Bette about my jagged scar. We were by the fire on quilts and Indian blankets in that incredible big log house up on Big Bear. And it’s not that she hadn’t mentioned it as she’d licked past before, but I’d always been quick to deflect the need for an answer with a sigh or a lick of my own, but that afternoon – with the stillness around us, the quiet mountain air outside dampened by the snowfall, the long stream of delicious red wine she had poured into crystal goblets – she had lulled and enraptured me. I’d hesitated when she’d asked.

I remember deeply loving her, and the fire, and her body everywhere all over me and so warm against my skin. I’d almost told her the truth but that horrible story – it would have completely broken our beautiful moment. That’s what that cursed scar does. It kidnaps me.

I’d distracted her and fed her grapes and told her I loved her until I’d put the bowl away and had shown her instead.

Bette_passion in bed. Story image

 

I don’t mind a good blow-by-blow recap after a particularly great night in bed. Maybe finish off the wine and get in the mood all over again. And she’s absolutely used it with great effect to do exactly that. But every once in awhile she’ll become obsessed with talking about orgasms. I don’t know what the fuck gets into her. But more than once I’ve had to blow out the candles and put the pillow over my head and yell, “Quit! I can’t talk about this anymore. You’re wearing my fucking mind out!”

And now, in my first movie in a long time I’ve got Nikki Stevens who’ll forever remind me of Lucy’s death and now, Bette knows almost everything.

I wonder if I know all her secrets? Oh God, I don’t want to hear anything else, swallow anything I can’t take. It’s as if this next time with her if we ever do try again feels mined with dynamite and front loaded with angst and what’s beneath it all – the dark potential has dawned on her, too. I see it in her eyes all the time now: The fear that if we ever fail each other again how could we continue on as a family?

Devastation.

I’ve been there. I know how it feels when we hate each other. One of us would have to move and far, far away and that would be a disaster for Angelica. A snow globe image suddenly pops into my head of us frozen in time. My mind shakes it and a blizzard swirls around us. For just a few minutes more I want to remember the snowfall at Big Bear, the snaps and fizz of the fire, and her body all over me.

Joyce’s Office – Bette

I sit across from her polished wooden desk. “Are those little red T Rex dinosaurs on your tie, Joyce? That’s a little aggressive even for you, don’t you think?”

“T Rex? No, I don’t think so. Kangaroos, little tiny kangaroos I think Phyllis said. She just gave it to me earlier before she flew off to Chicago.” Joyce flips the yellow gold tie back down to her chest. “And she knows about the hot oil wrestling pictures, Bette.” Joyce shakes her head, sad for me.

“And what have you thought of? How can we stop this?”

Her voice gets cautious and serious. “Well, I made some calls on the way back from the airport and there’s the long way, that’s the legal way -all the ‘i’s’ dotted and all the rest to end up in court and sue them for lots of money – that’s if they have any.”

“And?”

“And there’s an article in this magazine you might want to read to yourself while I pour us a drink.”

I open the Tech Today magazine and see a note, “Hacker. Very fast. $6000 everything wiped clean” and a phone number. I let out a lilting whistle at the price. I don’t have time for a second job! Christ! My expenses are endless stairs to a roof I can eventually jump off as a broken woman!

“If you want to read the magazine Bette take it with you and here’s a phone. Only use it to call. If you don’t want to “read” the magazine put it back on my desk and I’ll explain our route through the courts. Meanwhile your picture stays up.”

“This is your best Scotch, Joyce. What other fees aren’t you telling me?”

“Bette, we’re just having a drink together. I’m in love. Your constant missteps for some reason this afternoon amuse the hell out of me, and I want you to kick your heels off and tell me how lucky I am to be madly in love with your boss, Vice-Chancellor Phyllis Kroll.” Joyce leans back in her leather chair and drinks deeply.

“I can do that for you, Joyce.”

 

Bette_hairBackSmilingAtCamera

“Thanks, Bette, and you’re coming to my party for Phyllis tomorrow night, I hope?”

“Yes, Kit’s planned a beautiful party. Great big flower arrangements, all of Phyllis’ favorites and we’re all coming – even Alice.”

“That’s no surprise. Alice, I take it, hates to be left out. But I gotta hand it to her, I heard how she handled Phyllis’ whimpering, crying husband.”

“The one you were suing for her but now you’re not?”

“That’s the one! And all because of you, Bette. Never took you for a matchmaker, though. Don’t know why. Well, actually I do.”

“What do you mean?”

“Take a long end of the dusty trail drink with me, Bette.” Joyce winks and waits as I lift my glass. I swallow a burning stream of Scotch and feel the tingle and buzz along little arcs of nerves under my eyes.

“What you and Tina had was a match, Bette. You saw it, but it was my job to break you into a million pieces and take the money from your bank. You should have hired me first!”

“Between my recent trip to New York and Angelica’s tuition, now these pictures of me all over the web! I’m looking at a second mortgage all of a sudden.”

“If you were single? Bette, I know you want them down but…” Joyce looks at me with amazement and then whistles, “Has your phone been ringing off the hook all day?”

“Journalists or the barest definition of the word. I’m not answering any numbers I don’t recognize.” I look at my phone and see forty-three missed calls and way over fifty percentage from LA area codes.

“I’ll bet you a thousand dollars right this minute if you play your voice messages that over half of them are going to be women with all kinds of other questions and trouble for you.” She tops off our drinks and winks at me as she spins around her computer screen with a picture of me leaning over an oil slicked blonde in a gold bikini taking pleasure in twisting her wrists back in pain.

Joyce slaps an affirming smack against her desk. “As I said, Bette, you amuse the hell of me this afternoon. Everyone of those women who called you.” Joyce lets out a huge and boisterous laugh. “They want you and will fucking beg you tie them up. Thank God for you Bette! I’m in such a fantastic mood!”

_____________________

The next chapter is titled, The Lucky Ones. Bette goes to Big Bear with Jodie and dreams of escaping. Kit is robbed at The Planet and Bette arrives home. At the SheBar opening she and Tina have a powerful reuniting moment.

 

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The Weather Report

Alice_with Paperwork

The Planet – Alice

Even though every once in awhile I’m proven wrong I can honestly say without fear of argument: Today, the news around me is not good. Helena’s in jail! Shane’s business is toast! Those SheBar freaks? Miami coconut-oiled mobsters! And that’s just my list of pending financial crimes!

However, the many relationship fronts around me are unusually and eerily calm and that naturally means an eruption at any moment. It’s earthquake weather in California and anything can happen.

For weeks now since our trip to New York I’ve watched a battle weary Bette as she waits for Jodie’s certain return. And while she waits I’ve clocked the overly friendly amounts of time she spends with the ever present, always a phone call away, co-Mom of Angelica’s, Tina, who in her free time away from her new bff, Bette, is dating a heart doctor named Brenda, a blonde who is always happy. It’s only a matter of time before Brenda’s verve wears thin on all of us.

While Tina is mostly a balanced person she longs to be needed and is completely unaccustomed to being around cheerful, uncomplicated women who lack the craving for lots and lots of fawning attention. That’s my opinion anyway. Over the years I’ve seen it over and over between her and Bette. As smart as Tina is as a movie executive she completely misreads her romantic situations.

Take now as an example. If Tina had sent Bette signals that weren’t obtuse and riddled with double meanings and escape hatches and tunnels that lead safely to the sea Bette would’ve stopped Tina dead in her tracks, and backwards they would’ve bent in their forever tango, and set themselves on fire again. But she didn’t or couldn’t or wouldn’t and while smoldering may be fun for some – it gets very, very old very, very fast for me.

And for Bette it appears to have burned straight through and into her spleen. And for Tina, who’s just now starting to miss Bette all over again, I fear she has an endless supply of patience for it, however; she was unusually cross and snappy with me when I got home from my trip with Bette and Shane. And as their High Noon approaches, for whatever Goddamn reasons, Tina can’t or won’t send the final necessary signals, and I’m confused and undecided as Jodie’s arrival date approaches as to why.

What is the reason? I look around The Planet and drink my afternoon coffee and tap my favorite green pen and wonder if I shouldn’t just bag the whole caffeine thing and give my body and mind what it truly craves: Liquor. As I decide whether I want rum or vodka in this hotter than usual early summertime weather I wonder about people’s addictions.

Helena’s are for money and Peggy’s love. Shane’s are complicated but at her core it’s about connection. Bette’s are about being right and never failing her family again. And mine I admit are for attention, which leaves Tina.

Tina and Alice looking at computer

I think I know her so well sometimes I can say the words and think her thoughts before she does. But then they are the other times Shane has to nudge me to close my mouth from its astonished gaping.

Tina’s a southern woman, cultured and well educated who escaped without the confinements and baggage of debuts, and endless family weddings or Christenings that normally she’d fly home to attend. Something must have happened before she joined our cabal that made her feel so distant from her family and the South. To my knowledge none of us have ever asked and Tina’s never volunteered, an early sign she kept secrets about herself. Bette must know, but like so many confidences and private moments they hold between them they’ll never share, and none of us will ever be the wiser. And that has nagged at me, too, I admit.

When Tina first appeared in our lives ten years ago she’d fit right in. And next came their chemistry that everyone could feel. It was palpable, dynamic,  unmistakable, and it annoyed the crap out of me until I finally realized how stupid I was being. I thought I’d let all of my jealousy go -it’d been years after all -but there it was as a hot lash to whip Bette with when she went off with Candace, the carpenter.

She may never fully forgive me for blistering her the way I did. But as the years have passed and especially recently, every time I add more connections to Our Chart and see the names and dashes grow between Bette and Tina, I wish Tina would ask me and Shane to do something for her before Jodie gets back. Because by then I’m afraid it’ll be too late.

The longer I sit here dreaming of rum or vodka and getting drunk by three the more this whole day feels odd, suspended in time and very much like earthquake weather. I’m sure of it now. I have a sense the ground is just about to shake.

My iPhone signals a text from Tina.

“Need an eyewitness. U free?”

I text back, “Sure! What’s up?”

Text from Tina, “Can U meet me @SheBar in 10?”

“Eww. Okay. I’ll bring garlic.” I motion to the waiter.

The SheBar – Alice

Walking up the steps to the SheBar I drink deeply from the smuggled vodka and grapefruit juice cocktail I sneakily poured into my travel mug before I left The Planet. Man, am I glad I told the bartender to make it a double, I hate these tacky lesbians from Miami.

Now that I’m inside I hear the shrillness of Tina’s voice as it begins its dangerous rise into higher altitudes. This makes me smile. Thank God! Something interesting! Wasn’t I just lamenting that it was all too quiet? I smile to myself as I hurry down the hallway toward the commotion. When Tina gets unnerved like this someone always leaves the plane without their parachute. Oh Good! I think until I open the final door.

What the fuck is that thing? And then a poster on the wall tells all: Lesbian Hot Oil Wrestling! Every Thursday Night at LA’s Hottest New Girl Club – The SheBar. My eyes blink three times real fast then I hear Tina.

“What I’m fucking telling you is that you need to quit interfering with my movie! But you don’t seem to hear me because you’re either too stupid, or too idiotically self destructive to listen to me.” Tina stabs her finger toward Denbo who remarkably keeps her cool. My Girlfriend Cindy walks from the back toward the wrestling ring.

Please a gold bikini? So Miami Beach! But damn she looks good in it. I push salacious thoughts of My Girlfriend Cindy’s bikini from my mind.

But still…

Then Tina’s voice snaps me out of my fantasy.

“One last time, Denbo and you, too – whatever the fuck your name is – I’m warning you. Stay away from our locations! Stay away from my set, leave my employees alone, and fuck off! Fuck way off from my movie! Do you hear me?” Tina yells furiously at them both.

Denbo smirks as she walks toward her. “Listen! I’ve got a Grand Opening to plan and this ring for our weekly wrestling contests to put together. You’re interfering with my business and standing right where I need to tie off the last cable. Do you mind?” Denbo leans to pick up the rope laying at Tina’s feet and the next thing I know Tina’s flying through the air and across the hot oil wrestling ring. Then Denbo gives a whistle and My Girlfriend Cindy pounces.

Cindy_SheBar

I take a picture just before Cindy splashes full force into Tina who goes down with an, ompft! It’s time for back-up. I send a text to Bette.

“Stop What Ur doin come 2 SheBar ASAP!”

Text from Bette, “At Gym. Fucking hate them, fucking hate bars. No Thx.”

I duck behind a post and attach the photo in a text to Bette. “This fucking idiot on top of Tina in wrestling ring! And Now??!!” I hear the whoosh sound of it fly away to wreak havoc in Bette’s mind as I take stock around me.

Oh! Nice move! I watch as Tina strips off her shirt and flips My Girlfriend Cindy over and attempts to tie up her arms. Denbo watches ringside as the tables turn. I wonder where Tina got this trussing skill? The foothills of the Smokey Mountains?

Five minutes later I check my watch and then look around the room for a good seat. Three, Two, One!

The door flies open and nearly off its hinges.

CU_Bette_Surprised

A string of Bette’s belongings begin to drop to the floor as she tugs off her gym bag, then her warm up jacket in a hurry toward the ring.

“Tina! Goddammit!” She cries out as Tina gets flipped and quickly scissor locked by My Girlfriend Cindy. Damn, Tina’s losing valuable ground. I have a dawning suspicion that Denbo and My Girlfriend Cindy have done this routine before.

“Just what the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Bette yells at everyone but mostly at Denbo as she kicks off her shoes by me. I take a satisfying swallow of vodka as a new match up begins and Bette, in her white tank top and dark gym shorts, jumps onto the platform and ducks inside the ropes by Tina.

“I fucking got this, Bette.” Tina in only a black brassiere and green shorts chokes out between Cindy’s tanned thighs.

“Are you out of your fucking mind, Tina? What are you doing in here?” Bette grabs Cindy by the wrists and slipping slightly in the oil drags her along with Tina making gagging sounds across the mat.

“You! Let go of her! Or I swear to God!” Bette snarls.

“Hey! No fair, Porter! No, two against one!” Denbo cries out as she edges closer to the action inside the ring.

“Tina, Goddammit! Grab her little toe! Twist it to the side really hard. Do it now!” Bette yells as she watches Denbo’s approach.

“Okay! I give!” Cindy releases Tina’s head from her scissor lock but Bette keeps her grip.

“If you try any shit like this again I’m going to break your wrists.” She twists Cindy’s backwards far enough to make her cry out, “And I won’t hesitate.” She drops her captive’s arms as Denbo slips into the ring.

“So, now that our girls have had their fun, and by the ways ladies, you were really great to watch.” Denbo bows toward Tina who wipes oil off her face and glares back deeply pissed.

“Tina, where the fuck’s your shirt? For Christ sake!” Bette holds her hand up for Denbo to stop as all eyes watch Tina panting angrily a few feet away.

“Pretty hot one, Porter. Or should I say hot one you had. And yeah, I was real fucking sorry to hear all about your cheating ways when I asked around about you two. Sad, sad story about how you fucked all that up.” Denbo sneers at Bette.

From my ringside seat I’m not sure if it’s real or if my overly active imagination and the perfect amount of vodka have blended but I’m pretty sure Bette’s boxing muscles -the ones I see every other day at the gym -have changed into pumped up knots along her arms. Denbo, to her credit takes notice and backs up a few steps, too. Okay! Whew, I thought I was hallucinating for a minute.

“Tina, really are you okay?” Bette looks quickly at her before pointing her finger back at Denbo. “And you, I can’t even box with because all I’d have is some little bitch to slap around. Now, get out of our way because this is over and we’re leaving.”

Denbo stands her ground, “This isn’t over, Porter. Tell your sister I’m coming for her next and I’m not through with your stupid, little lesbian movie either.” She spits at Tina.

“As much as I’d like to see you get your ass kicked I have to get back to the production office.” A much calmer Tina adjusts her brassiere and puts her arm around Bette.

I lift my camera to take their picture but Bette and Tina send a, ‘don’t you dare’ look at me. I imprint them in my mind as they walk across the ring together. Tina shining with oil and clingy in all the right places and Bette, finally smiling now as they hold the ropes for each other to exit the ring. She looks like any other over adrenalized fighter who only got to halfway kick some ass while a woman in her lingerie looked on.

I imagine them for a moment forgetting about any of us around them, or where they are, and that they don’t sleep together any more. I see them coming together in one of their minutes too long if you’re waiting on them to go somewhere rolling into each other kisses.

But instead Bette hands Tina a towel from her gym bag. “It’s hardly been used. I didn’t get a shower before I came over here. Use it to wipe the goo off your arms and your face.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it.” Tina lifts the towel up to her nose and breathes in as she looks around for her clothes and shoes.

“Baby, you’ve got to get dressed. Let’s get the fuck out of here.” Bette puts her warm up jacket around Tina.

“Alice, please look around for her shirt.”

“You looked scary in there, Bette.” Tina laughs as she wipes her hair and arms then hands Bette back the towel.

“I’ve been in a mood lately.” Bette zips it into a side bag as Tina takes her shirt from me and wrings out a long stream of oil.

“Those girls…there’s something very off about them.” Bette looks up as golden droplets splash between us.

Tina bites her lip, “And from the looks of it they’re not going away anytime soon, either.”

 

 

The next chapter is titled, Fit for Battle. Bette and Tina draw closer to rekindling the romance.

has a great twitter feed with pictures and clips of our favorite characters.

@ModernLWord  is a hilarious feed that has imaginative ideas about what our favorite characters would be saying or doing in present day.