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.
“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.