The L Word : Behind the Scenes

The L Word Bette Porter Tina Kennard


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#8 Blood Moon Rising

Tina_Phone sunglasses standing

Santa Fe – Saturday – Tina

It was luck really that Angelica and I had been sitting in the exact spot Nikki Stevens had walked past on her way to board a private jet to Santa Fe. She was hungover, her friends on board flying east with us were all hungover, and once the pilot had leveled off and pointed the nose of the plane due east as if on cue – all of its passengers had fallen into a deep slumber, including me.

It’s been a very long week.

When my eyes had opened hours earlier this morning the house around me had been quiet and still. I had fought off a nearly irresistible urge to roll over and fall back asleep again. But if I had closed my eyes for a second more I knew I would miss my flight to join Bette and meet her long lost mother. The horror of telling her that I had overslept and missed yet another plane had dragooned me to throw off the bedcovers and make haste for Santa Fe.

Now that I’m here I realize no distance was too far to have travelled to witness Bette rolling out from under Mary’s old Chevy with a wrench in her hand. For an instant, I had flashed on Kit’s former love interest, Ivan, scooting out from under one of his vintage trucks and squinting up at me. It had startled me and felt weird, but in a wonderful kind of way.

I pull out a breakfast room chair that has been set up all ready with a baby seat for us. I lean down and kiss Angelica. “I believe we’re going on an adventure with your Momma B and your new Grandmomma soon,” I say as she tugs on my hair. We smile at each other in love with the moment and the morning. “That was your first airplane ride, too. And you were such a good girl.”

The back door opens off the kitchen and Bette, free of her greasy coveralls, appears in jeans, a dark green shirt, and cowboy boots.

CU Bette's boots Blood Moon story

My eyes begin their drift up from the scuffed leather when I feel her hand on my shoulder.

“A proper welcome now,” she says reaching down and gently touching Angelica’s face before she folds her arms around me. Along the sides her neck I can smell traces of pinyon wood, sage and something else that reminds me of fire.

“What have you all been doing?” I ask Bette curiously as I hear her mother coming inside.

“Eating and drinking mostly.” Bette says as she pats her washboard stomach. “My Mother’s an interesting cook. But no worries! I have personally seen to lunch and we’re eating out tonight with Mary Windhorse – a bit of desert-styled potluck it sounds like. We’ll be fine.” She dismisses. “We are not required to eat the fried cactus.”

“Baby meals are un-spiky and very un-spicy. We’re all on the same page about that, right?” I ask.

“All reading from the same menu and prayer book. We are ready!” Bette reassures then claps her hands and picks up Angelica. They kiss each other playfully. “Now, do we need anything from this kitchen before I bring your suitcase back to our bedroom?”

Maxine guest room

Guest Room – Tina

“I do like a queen-size bed on vacation, don’t you, Bette?” I ask as we enter our quarters down a long hallway. I bounce the mattress and feel the wool of the old Indian blankets. “But where’s our daughter sleeping?”

“We have two options on that actually and they were Mother’s idea.” Bette says as Mary appears in our doorway.

“We set up a sweet little child’s bed in my room for tonight but we can take it down and put it right in here if you’d rather,” Mary says. “And I do appreciate you switching over to Mary and leaving Maxine in the past. Bette and I talked about it last night. It’s been nearly thirty years with the Feds and WitSec. I really am Mary Hardy now.”

”Without prying may I see it?” I ask from near the windows. “Where she’d be sleeping?”

”Tina, it’s very comfortable and I’ve been having a wonderful time.” Bette adds as she points to her new cowboy boots.

”Repairing old trucks and eating. I heard you.” I say as I study them for their familial resemblance.

“That, too, but we went out last night. And tonight there’s something called the Blood Moon we’re going to see.”

“A play in Santa Fe?” I ask.

“No, actually, The Moon.” She whirls her finger around in the air. “It turns really red tonight during a lunar eclipse.” Bette looks back to her mother who nods. “And Mother’s friend, Mary Windhorse, has a special place to watch eclipses apparently. Who knew? So, for dinner we’re going over there.”

“Whatever you both want to do – Blood Moons, Blue Moons – it’s fine with me,” I agree. “And Mary, this is your granddaughter, Angelica.” I walk them closer together, and Mary kneels and gently extends her hands.

“You have no idea how happy I am to meet you both.” Mary watches Angelica taking baby steps closer.  For a moment, Bette looks as if she might cry, but she smiles instead.

I put my arm around her waist. “A lot is happening.” Bette confesses, as Mary and Angelica’s voices drift up from the floor.

Bette close up. pensive look down

She takes a deep breath and points me toward another room. “We have a nice bath that’s through here. Come see.”

Maxine Home Bath

“The bathtub, and this view alone, makes me officially glad I came.” I lean back into her arms as we look out the window.

“But weren’t you always coming?” She asks suspiciously.

“Yes, I was always coming. But now I’m saying unequivocally – I’m now officially glad to be here.” I lean up and kiss her neck.

Her hands take mine around my waist. She whispers in my ear, “You know I’ve tried to rein myself back and not overload this weekend with expectation. Plus, we’ve had so much going on.” She lifts my engagement ring up to her lips. “I love you, T, and I’m so relieved, happy, and all of the above, that you’re both here.”

“Babe, I was always coming for the weekend you met your Mother.” I let her know.

“Back where you grew up, did you ever shoot beer cans off rocks or fence posts?”

I laugh softly as I sway gently with my back against her. “All the time with .22 rifles mostly. Why Bette?”

“We did it last night. Drank beer and shot cans off rocks with six-shooters. And we talked, of course, until pretty late.” She says as she walks over to the sink. She splashes water on her face and reaches for a towel. ”Completely could not have been further from how I ever would’ve pictured a reunion with my mother.” She pats her face dry and watches me for a reaction. ”I last saw her in Philly, remember?”

“Six-shooters? That sounds fun. Did you strap one on, Bette?”

“Absolutely, a big one, too. Very loud, just like I can be.” She smiles at our double entendre, and fires her finger pistols out the window. She looks back at me as she pretends to blow the smoke off the barrels.

“Bette, please don’t do that.”  I hook her fingers down. “You in those old cowboys boots, smelling like leather and wood smoke.”

She smiles slyly back at me. “I’ve missed you, too, Baby.  “She says before kissing me. “Mother has questions about our wedding that I can’t answer, but kiss me again first.”

Bette Tina Kiss Sepia.1

Ninety minutes later –

After lunch and a tour of Mary’s house and barns we slide into her old truck to drive to a pueblo nearby.

1957 Chevy Driver's side front

“You’ll enjoy this little community and the festival will be just locals and the tribe. ” Mary says as she and I slide across the seats of her truck with Angelica on her lap. Bette gets in behind the wheel and cranks the old Chevy to life.

1957 Interior

“Your boots match this great pick up truck, Bette,” I say as we bounce down a rural road through the desert.

“Honestly, I don’t ever want to take them off, ” she says as she smiles at her mother. “Phyllis had better get ready. There’s a new Dean Porter in the house.”

I laugh along with her. “Something happened, that’s for sure.” Then to her mother, “Mary, when you come to Los Angeles I’m sure you’ll meet, Phyllis, Bette’s boss. She’s off and on a real handful.”

“In more ways than one.” Bette sighs. “Mother, we have a host of characters for you to meet but I think we can all agree,  you’re rather offbeat and unusual yourself.” Bette smiles over at me. “She’ll fit right in, don’t you think, Tina?”

“Maybe Mary should come at Christmas time, Bette?” I ask as Angelica bounces happily in her grandmother’s lap. “I know our friends would love to have dinner at our house this year.”

“Let’s do it!”

“Will you come, Mary?” I smile at her.

“Wild horses could not keep me away!” She says before kissing the top of Angelica’s head.

CU Maxine

“So, you have these wedding planners who are friends of yours, Helena and Shane?” Mary asks.

“Shane?” Bette wonders suspiciously. “I thought it was Helena and Alice? How did Shane get in there? Don’t I have a vote?”

“She didn’t.” I pat Bette’s arm. “Mary, I threw a lot of names at you at lunch, I know.”

“I realize you’ve got to physically get married in Los Angeles County but couldn’t I have a party out here for you, too?”

Diablo Canyan Maxine studio

“That would be fun!” Bette says as she follows the arrow on a small dusty festival sign and turns off the highway and down a one lane dirt road.

“Tina, we can work out the details later and figure out how to house our friends without it getting extravagant.” She says then smacks her hand against the steering wheel. “Wait! I know! Those luxury RVs – they can sleep in there.”

“Are the marijuana laws strick here in New Mexico?” I ask Mary tentatively.

Mary rolls her window up as dust from the road blows in waves from under the tires. “Being in the position I’m in with WitSec I know a judge or two. In fact, I know three of them quite well. I’ll hire some great musicians and you smoke all the weed you want. Nobody’s going to jail.” She says confidently. “I’ll plan a BBQ and a party. We can do it in my big barn.”

Bette shifts the truck into fourth gear as the red dirt road evens out. She runs her hand along the wheel of the truck and then across the chevron on the dashboard before she says thoughtfully.”If anyone had said to me as recently as three weeks ago that I’d be speeding through a desert in an old truck with you, our daughter, and also my mother I would have said only in my dreams.”

1957 Chevy 3100 speedometer view

I touch the side of Bette’s face and stroke her cheek. “Well, Babe, you’ve got several things going for you if we have a party out here in Santa Fe.”

“That’s always good to hear.” She says and shoots me a sideways curious look. “Go on.”

“Well, of course, you’ll have me as your wife,” I stress, “plus the jump on everyone else with your cowgirl drag.”

“And I’m never taking these boots off.” Bette emphasizes as her mother looks out the window amused.

“Okay, I can’t keep it to myself any longer. What is it with you two wearing hunting knives on your belts out to this festival? Is there a competition you’re planning on entering? A Mother Daughter Deer Skinning contest or something?” I ask Mary as Bette makes a face.

“No contest. But you saw the knife she brought me as a present, didn’t you? With carved white wolves on it?” Mary asks.

“And I’ve seen this knife before.” I say as I tap the handle hilt of Bette’s Bowie knife. “I just brought a purse today, ladies.”

“And so did I.” Mary says.

“I have a knife, money and great sunglasses. That’s all I brought except my wonderful family.”

Mary stirs in her seat as we near the tribal festival grounds. “Tina, who in your family will I meet at your wedding?”

I stare ahead and feel the twinge of pain of saying probably none of them. Bette’s hand appears in my lap and I thread my fingers through hers. “I have two married brothers who are attorneys in the town we grew up in near the border of North Carolina and Virginia. They farm tobacco, too. Our family still has a lot of land and tobacco with the subsidies to grow it and sometimes not to plant it at all apparently both pay them pretty well.”

“Beautiful green country.” Maxine says, “I’ve been down there before. The people were very nice.”

“I might invite them. And then there is the sister I don’t speak to, my mother who’s deceased, and finally my father who I haven’t spoken to in ten years. He, my late mother, and my sister are definitely not coming.”

“He lives one state over. Right, T? In Yuma, Arizona?”

“I’ve been there, too.” Mary nods her head. “So, you don’t talk to him or your sister?” She asks as I shake my head, no.

“Changing the subject slightly.” I burst out with an idea. “I’m going to ask Shane to give me away, Bette!”

“No, no, no you don’t. Shane is my Best Man.”

“Have you discussed this with her?”

“Yes, we have an agreement.” Bette says absolutely.

“I’m not sure I think you’re really telling me the truth, Bette. And we made a promise about that very recently.” I chide her as Mary sighs next to me.

“Excuse me, Tina.” Mary says. “Bette park over there in that line with the other old, restored pick ups. The festival people make a nice row for those of us who have these sweet old horses.” Mary says as she pats her truck.

“And here’s a festival tip.” Mary continues, “They have a good apple-flavored cactus juice drink here that they add honey and a little desert root spice to. It’s very unusual and good. But stay away from all those melon and squash drinks and the dirt tasting teas they make. They are just dreadful.”

maxine festival canyon site

Ninety minutes later –

Enclosed by the tall stratified canyon walls the small Navajo festival has attracted several hundred Indian people and a sprinkling of white visitors from the nearby western towns. Families and couples drift in and out of the acre sized grounds that awhile ago we had walked around the tents and crafts stalls of before sitting around a ring to watch the Native American performers and their trickster, the Coyote, do his loping dance. A few young boys and girls who had gathered too close to the edge of the ring were good-naturedly chased away by him. We wait now for the Medicine Man and his dancers to appear.

I tap Bette’s arm and say, “Babe, it feels a little too hot in the sun for me. I’m going to walk back around back by the crafts. Okay?”

“We won’t be here much longer, I promise. But Mary says this Medicine Man has thirty-six, or something unreal like that, grandchildren and Angie will like them as his tiny Medicine Crows.” Bette shrugs her shoulders. “Look, it’s all new for me, too. I’m surprised Angelica’s not having bikini beach volleyball withdrawals because that’s what she sees on my weekends with her.”

I laugh at Bette. “Well, are you having bikini withdrawals, too?” I ask.

“I am, in fact.” She smiles. “And I want you to go into one of those tent over there and put yours on.” She winks at me. “Just saying.”

Then, she catches my wrist as I turn away. “T, I guess bring me back another one of those cactus drinks.  It’s not blistering hot but I know what you’re feeling – the sun does feel right on top of us.” She shields her eyes and stares up at the sky. “Since we’re going to be spending time in New Mexico I better get us all cowboy hats. Mother says she knows just where to go.”

“Of course, she does, Babe.” I say as I squeeze Bette’s hand before walking back toward the tents and the shade.

navajo rug design

It’s a question I’ll have to answer many more times I have no doubt. But who from my family will be coming to my wedding? I have an aunt and uncle and cousins. I have nephews and nieces. But inviting those people to my gay wedding? I give a resounding, “No” to that idea. If other people want to have a big Gay wedding with their big ole straight family looking at their big ole Gay one, then please do. I have my own quirks and neuroses that make me absolutely object to the thought. And no hopping into therapy between now and my wedding day I realize will release them from me. So why bother? I’ve resolved it in my mind: I’ll never be free of the weirdly defining things that shade me from the shadows.

People hang on to what deflects and distracts us from ourselves. I have masks I wear to work and I have different masks I put on sometimes to wear around Bette. And certainly, when we’re out as a family, and most definitely today in this ancient tribal setting where my walking any closer to her would have been taboo.

So, today it’s New Mexico, my soon to be mother-in-law, and lots and lots of cactus everywhere. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m sunburned from sitting around the ring with them. I forget what it feels like to leave the bubble of West Hollywood sometimes until I do.

I slip inside an animal skin tent to look at the leather bags, Indian rugs, and colorful blankets the young Navajo woman is selling.  A group of children run past the tent. Stopping for a moment to peer inside stands a tomboy girl. Our eyes meet for an instant, and then she’s gone. My head begins to ache as an uneasy feeling sweeps over me and the Navajo designs begin to cross and blend together.

Tina Tomboy memory

After going to the Fortune Teller and the unintended consequences of having my sexual memories unearthed about my sister I had finally decided, she had been very shrewd with me. The imaginary plays she staged where I’d been a knight with a sword we’d cut from a cardboard box and she’d covered with aluminum foil. And now, in the claustrophobic swelter that has become this tent, I remember the times she had dressed me as an Indian boy.

Maybe it would’ve never started if we had not found the small cave in the woods that even our brothers hadn’t discovered. So twisted, too, was that she’d had me turn it into our “Fort” against all who would invade. Soon the privacy inside the earth became the focus of our playing together.

Hurriedly, I push through another tent flap hoping for fresh air but instead a pungent smell of sweat and earth make me nauseous and my eyes strain to see into the much dimmer light. A few feet away an older girl leans over one of the Medicine Crows and carefully paints her before her dance. Around my nipples I feel the cool sticky paint and my sister circling and circling the dark tinctures into me.

Indian girl being Painted STORY image

I open my eyes to the face of an elderly Indian woman standing over me and toeing me with her boot. “You must be Tina. Mary Windhorse,” she says as she leans down next to me. “I saw them by the ring and Bette said you’d taken a walk. Some walk. What are doing on the ground outside the Medicine Man’s tent?”

Mary Windhorse pink shirt turquoise pin

“I’m just not sure.” I say brushing myself off from sand and straw as stand up. “I felt too hot and then dizzy for a moment.”

“Can’t be menopause. You’re much too young for that.” Mary says as we walk back toward the ring together. “Sometimes people feel something different when they come to our ceremonial grounds and tonight’s the full Blood Moon followed by an eclipse.”

“Well, those always do make me a little dizzy.” I laugh softly as Bette and Angelica wave at us from the ring.

Blood red clouds before Blood Moon

The desert air is cool finally and feels good against my skin. There’s been no time alone with Bette where I could lean into her and feel her body bringing me back from my upsetting memories with my sister. Since the festival there’s been one thing after another – a little last minute shopping in Santa Fe for Angelica, and the need for lotion for my skin that’s beginning to dry and change.

Soon, we’d stopped alongside the desert at a beautiful open spot and Bette had pulled off the road to watch the blood red clouds that were spreading out overhead. With a few too many looks between them Mary and Bette stayed close to the truck, not venturing off into the desert. I thought it odd after I’d taken a few steps with Angelica in my arms that Mary had quickly called me back and suggested we watch the sunset from the side of the road.

As the brilliant hues paint over the desert sky, the three of us sit along the rim of the truck bed as Angelica toddles back and forth between us.  “Incredible colors, Mother,” Bette sweeps her arm across the sky. “It must be so wonderful to paint out here.”

“It is. Within a half hour of my house the landscapes are all so different. The canyons, the open desert with brush and cactus, and always such incredible skies.” Mary catches Angelica, as she plops down against her boots then, crawls toward the closed tailgate.

Suddenly, I hear a rattle and watch as Bette twists around so quickly she slips off the side of the truck and skids in the loose gravel. She grabs the sides to fling herself back in, as we all look toward Angelica playing with the severed piece of a rattlesnake’s tail.

Rattle Close Up

“Oh my goodness!” Mary exclaims as Bette reaches slowly over to our daughter. “I thought I’d washed the truck out really good. My eyesight must really be going.”

“Apparently you need glasses.” Bette says to her mother, and then to Angelica. “You’ve found a little treasure there haven’t you?” She eases the snake’s rattle from our daughter’s hands.

Tina incredulous back up pick up truck Story Image

“Do I even want to know how that got in here?” I ask.

“The short answer is it must’ve fallen off a snake.” Mary summarizes.

“I’m going to have trouble with you, two. I can just feel it.” I shake my head. “As if your daughter weren’t enough.” I open my hand for Bette to hand over their secret.

Tina_Moon_silhouette

Mary Windhorse’s Ranch – Tina

Around a warm campfire behind Mary’s adobe house I sit in canvas chairs with the elder Marys as Bette makes a bed of quilts and Indian blankets for her and Angelica. She stretches out on the ground with our daughter and waves away the occasional spark that flies out from the burning sticks and flames. When I tune my ear to listen under the soft tones of the two older women talking I can hear Bette whispering to Angelica a children’s story we both know by heart.

“The Blood Moon must have a story I hope you’ll tell.” I say missing I suppose one of my own.

“Careful what you ask for, Tina.” Mary Hardy warns with humor. “All the Indian legends that have to do with blood are mostly gruesome and scary.”

“And that business with Jesus wasn’t?” Mary Windhorse barks a laugh.

“Of course it is. Nailing people up on crosses as punishment is barbaric and disgusting. And a few hundred miles from Jerusalem you can probably get your hand cut off tonight for stealing a piece of bread.” Mary Hardy vents.

“Or some fucker cuts your head off.” Bette says as she covers Angelica’s ears.

“As if that helps.” Mary shakes her head at Bette. “But she’s right it’s a story about murder,” Mary Windhorse admits. “Still want to hear it?”

“Tina, it’s very comfortable over here with all these blankets. Won’t you bring the wine and come over here with us?”

“Sure.” I pick up our wine bottle and kneel down next to Bette and Angelica lying by the fire.

Mary Windhorse begins. “Before the year 1900 Blood Moons were rare and our old calendars showed they hadn’t occurred in more than three hundred years. But when they did my people marked the legend of the White Painted Woman.”

Mary draws her calloused fingers down her own weathered cheeks and says, “She wore long red painted feathers like blood streaks down her face.” I close my eyes and imagine the White Painted Woman. Bette slides her arm across my waist and I rest my head on her shoulder as we watch the full moon rise.

1 white painted woman

“She was said to be an expert hunter, far better than any of her brothers and superior to the other hunters in the tribe. The men were jealous and envious of her skill and prowess. And said she was a shapeshifter and her hunting was no more than a trick and a dishonest lure.

“To these taunts and others she was said to have ignored them until one night when the party went out hunting, and time and time again her arrows were truer than theirs for the kill.

“Enraged and coming upon her alone one of the huntsmen had turned on her. Knocked her to the ground and tore at her clothes to rape her. All night she had fought fiercely and held him off. They had thrashed back and forth against each other as the full moon rose higher. Toward dawn his arm slicked with sweat he had finally slipped in her grip and his flint knife struck a cut deeply into her. Around her as she died slowly bleeding into the earth a perfect circle of blood had formed.” Mary says as she finishes her story.

The fire crackles back to life as Bette’s mother tosses on another log. Lying with my back against Bette I pull her arm closer around me. She lightly kisses my neck and whispers, “I love you.”

“I feel lucky I was never raped.” Mary Hardy points back and forth to her friend and shakes her head sadly, “We hear too many stories of rape and abuse from the women on the Res.”

“Well, for God’s sake, Mary, isn’t being shot up and nearly tossed in a mass grave enough torture for you in one lifetime?”

“Wait? What?” Bette had gasped behind me.

“Not now, Bette.” Her mother had warned.

“I was raped at the missionary boarding school back when I was a girl. During World War 2 a practice of moving us off the desert near Los Alamos began and I was sent away from my family to a mission school in Montana.”

“How long did it go on? Or was it just once?” I ask and feel Bette’s whole body tense behind me.

“Too long is, of course, the short answer, but for months when I was twelve the older son of the farmer who minded the sheep and milk cows for the nuns would stalk me when I was out on the farm doing my chores.

“Did you ever forget about it?” I ask. “Because for years and years I didn’t remember my abuse.”

“Of course, I did. Hell, I’m nearly ninety years old. I’ve forgotten a lot of things!”

“I had a vivid memory come back to me today at the fair.” I lean back and look into Bette’s eyes. “I remembered a role playing game with my sister. She used to dress me up as an Indian boy to have sex with me.”

“And you were always the boy to her girl?” Mary Hardy asks.

“Yes.”

“But that’s not how we do it.” Bette confides to her mother.

“Babe?” I ask not believing my ears as the older women’s laughter overtakes them.

“Well, what should I have said?” She asks before her kiss overtakes my lips.

Three Blood Moons Maxine

Guestroom – Tina

The air in the house had felt chilly when we’d put Angelica to bed in Bette’s mother’s room.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a baby sleep so close to me.” Mary had said as we stood around Angelica’s bed and I had adjusted her Indian baby blankets one final time.

“Mary, we didn’t give you much time at all to get ready for your granddaughter’s visit and yet, you’ve found all the things needed to make her comfortable.” I had said before Bette and I had walked down the stairs after saying a warm good night to her mother.

In bed now with Bette, I feel her hands against my back as I kiss her.

CU Bette Tina Kiss.T on top

“I feel incredibly happy and to be finally in bed alone with you. But how are you?” Bette asks.

“In some ways this day has felt like a year.” I say before kissing her again. “Touch me when I tell you to.” I kiss down her neck and inhale the lingering smoky scents from the fire.

“Okay.” She says tentatively before I kiss her again and close my lips around her tongue that slides against mine.

Her hand cradles my head as my leg moves between hers. The heat coming from her feels warm against my thigh before it spreads and then burns a place inside me.

“I need to feel just you and not any place else tonight.” I whisper to her as I rub her clitoris and feel it harden.

“Baby, I love you.” Her quickens, and my tongue circles around her.

Bette_passion in bed. Story image

I feel a fierceness rushing through me and my need to push inside her, and back and forth we rock harder and harder together.

The ranch bed creaks louder as she calls out to me. “Jesus Christ! We need to come to New Mexico more often. For the love of God, Tina, fuck me right there!”

Lunar eclipse

Guestroom – Bette

Outside the window the lunar eclipse is underway and far off in the desert come the unsettling cries and yelps of coyotes and the wind and noises in the trees outside our bedroom window rustle with movement and sounds. The shapes and cries of hawks and other night birds swing through sky.

I stroke Tina’s back as she lies on my shoulder. “I know you feel it, too. It’s strange here.”

“It is but I like the idea of Mary Hardy as my mother-in-law, and perhaps Mary Windhorse as Angelica’s godmother.” Tina says.

“Yes, or something akin to that name she would like.” I agree. “How are you? Aside from what just happened,” I ask as I kiss her forehead.

“It’s been a long, very different kind of day.” Tina says. “I had a moment of something that felt suffocating when I went into a tent at the festival. It caught me off guard. I don’t know when to expect them but the memories seem to be returning to me.”

“I have zero experience with this. What should I do?”

“I do have a request.” Tina says rising up slightly.

“Anything, Baby.” I kiss her slowly. “Just ask. Please just ask.”

“I get it that you love your cowboy boots, Bette.”

“I know they are pretty great aren’t they?” I say as I knock them together at the foot of the mattress.

“But when we get back to LA, Babe, you can’t wear them in bed.”

antler candles bedside Story Image

_____

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Bette’s Cooking Lesson

Kit_vertical shot

The Planet – Alice

Shane and I walk into The Planet for a mysterious “emergency” meeting called by Bette, I see something I’ve never seen before – Bette and Kit back in the kitchen. It’s appears they are cooking. This gives me pause.

“Lil Sister has brought a bushel basket of muddy ass kale up in here and dumped it all over my counters.” Kit fusses in that singing way she has, while giving me a look that says, “Help!”

I shy away from the piles of greens to be washed. “I don’t know. Where’d all the mud come from?”

Bette hooks a red apron around my neck and points me back to the sink.  “That’s how it grows, Alice, in the earth.”

“I don’t like kale, guys. It’s a fad. Okay? Just saying.” I tie back my apron. I haven’t worn one of these since that naughty role playing bit I did with Dana. She was the organic grower from the co-op farm . . .well, on second thought I could be convinced to like kale.
Shane Med shot Blue shirt

“Hey guys!” Shane saunters in and puts my beer on the shelf above the sink. My hands are submerged in darkening gritty water, and Bette continues to dump clump after muddy clump of greens into the sink. Looking over my shoulder at Shane I give her my best, ‘Run for your life!’ look but Bette’s too fast for me.

“You know how to cook?” Bette drops an apron over Shane’s neck and trusses her second hostage. Well, at least I’ll have company.

“Yes! Yes, I do know how to cook.” But I can tell she’s trying to think of what cooking really means in Bette’s current state of mind. Does it mean heating something up? Does it mean from scratch? Does it apply to Shane’s Alice B. Toklas Brownie Recipe?

Does Kit – God forbid – need us to actually cook something for the dinner menu tonight?

“Excellent!” Bette seems almost manic, as she finishes knotting Shane’s apron with a flair. Where’s Jodie? Supposedly, she’s an excellent cook.

Kit lifts up a checkered towel and rolled into a nice sized ball is fresh pizza dough. “Sis, the sourdough’s all done.”

Shaking off my hands I dry them on my apron. “Kale pizza?” I make a face.

Bette_Kitchen

“No, the kale is for green lemonade. Different subject, Alice.” Bette opens the lid to a deep red tomato sauce bubbling over a flame.

“This is all because of me. Lil Sis has got in her head ’cause the Doc told me I’ve got to watch my weight, and my cholesterol and what else?”

“Your blood sugar, Kit.” Bette says over her shoulder.

“Right, right. You know what?” Kit begins to hum a bluesy riff. “Blood sugar, umpf umpf. Blood sugar, my sugar umpf, yay-yay, umpf. I’m liking it. That would make a damn good tune.” She sways with her eyes closed lost to her musical reverie, and I notice for the moment that Bette lets her be.  I wish I knew how to sing.

Standing in the middle of the kitchen Bette takes a poll of her prisoners. “So, I don’t know how to cook; Kit doesn’t either. Alice?”

“Latkes? Do they count?” I offer hopefully, still not sure what Kit’s medical news has to do with kale.

“Chili. I can make Texas chili.” Shane pitches in her native dish.

Being in a kitchen hot or otherwise makes me thirsty. I swig down my beer. “Bette, what can you make? I’m getting the feeling here we’re all one note players.”

Bette tea ColorCorrected_nice muscles

“My specialty is actually breakfast.”

Shane nods her head, “I can see that. I bet you’re good at it. Flowers on the tray? A little sweet present inside a dish? A few more surprises to follow?”

“Okay, okay! We get the picture. Let’s move Bette’s morning along.” I wave at Shane to keep quiet while I try to figure out what’s going on in Bette’s mind.

“So, what I’m seeing here is you’ve got breakfast covered. Shane’s got chili. That could be lunch or dinner. I’ve got latkes so I’m of no help except during Jewish holy days. Sorry. But Kit’s improved our chances of survival with pizza.” I add it all up to something that makes no sense to me.

“The entire population of humans under thirty would be dead without pizza.” Shane looks around for agreement as to the pizza pie’s life saving qualities.

“Shane’s right. Without pizza the tech empire would crumble. No Internet!” I shout, suddenly alarmed at the thought.

“Doesn’t matter! We’re learning how to cook, so we can be healthier and live longer.”

“Wait! I thought that’s what sushi was for?” Shane says seriously.

“Eating fucking fishing bait. You realize you people are crazy?” Kit snorts.

Much later that night –

wolf_onRidge

Bette’s bedroom – Bette

In my dream it’s morning and an omelet is browning in a skillet. I rush in from the garden with cut flowers, and I turn off the gas flame and slide the perfectly browned cheesy egg dish onto a plate.

I hear Tina’s voice. “Babe, can you bring in a bowl of strawberries, too? And why won’t you let me get up? I feel like I should help.”

“You haven’t wiggled free of your ropes yet, have you?” I ask playfully walking into our bedroom with her breakfast tray.

Popping a strawberry into her mouth Tina says, “Like I’m ever letting you do that to me.”

I lean in to kiss her, but she’s involved in munching. Well, it’s the thought that counts.

“We’re splitting this, right? You’re having most of this omelet, Bette. This is huge.”

Lying down my robe falls open, and she runs her hands down to my belly and scratches me like a beast. I sigh contentedly.  “Nope, all yours. I’m just going to lie in your lap and watch you eat it.”

My view up to her face is through the foreground of her breasts. A beautiful view of the woman I’m in love with on this Sunday morning, as she lightly scratches parts of me awake.  I chew the berry she pops in my mouth, and sigh contentedly some more.

omelet-1egg

It’s very true that women appreciate breakfast in bed. They like it on a tray. They like it pretty and they like it hot. The heat shows effort I’ve come to understand, and it makes them happy. Because of this discovery of mine, over time I’ve become a master chef of omelets. No one can trump me. And as the old adage says, “It’s all in the wrist.” So true for breakfast food and hopefully what follows. That flexible joint is key.

“Bette, here open your mouth. This is too good.” Tina slides a bite past my lips. It’s gooey and warm. The cheese I selected, perfect. Everything on a Sunday morning like today is foreplay. I reach up and circle her nipple with my fingertips. All night her body was mine and for hours we’d played on the fiery edges of possession. I lean up and suck on her nipple, when she brings another bite of breakfast to my lips.

“Not so fast.” She presses under my chin.

“If I help you eat this, will you do something for me?” I take a sip of coffee.

“You have a habit of asking these open-ended questions, Bette, as if you think I’ll ever fall for them.”

“Did you ever read Zap comics, any stories about, the Checkered Demon?” I ask.

“A comic book? No, I don’t read comic books. Do you?”

“Okay, well you missed something crazy and pretty great. See there was this demon frog in the story, Tina. The Checkered Demon, and when he wasn’t killing bad guys he was this great stud fuck kind of a demon. It was either, Star-Eyed Stella or Ruby the Dyke, who taunted him when he was boasting about his fucking abilities and one ’em said, “I bet I could lay under you all day, eat fried chicken, and do my nails all at the same time.”

“I’m so confused.” Tina leans back with her coffee balanced on her chest. “So, you actually read comic books?”

“These were extraordinary comic books, Tina. But the point is, I’ll eat the rest of the omelet, and leave you half the toast, and all the strawberries, if after breakfast you’ll try to give yourself a manicure. Let’s see how far you get.”

“So you’re going for beating the record of a frog demon? You want me to play Star-Eyed Stella, or what was the other one?”

“Well, you have actually have three to chose from. I neglected to mention, Lady Coozette and then there’s, Ruby the Dyke.”

“I’m Lady Coozette.”

“So perfect.” I smile as Tina gets sold on the idea.

“Anything else I should know?”  She hands me a glass of water from her nightstand.  “Jesus, Bette, don’t eat so fast.”

“Well, there is the matter of the length of this demon’s tongue.”

“Hmm. Lady Coozette is ready.”  She opens the drawer and takes out her nail polish, “I bet I can get a whole hand done, maybe more.”

“I’ll bet you three fingers, tops.”

“Bette, you have crumbs on your face.”

“Sorry,” I brush my chin, as I move away the breakfast tray. “Not for long.” I lie between her legs and hear her shaking the polish.

I begin to a lovely tempo as a lusty verse from D. H. Lawrence’s fig poem floats through my mind.

Folded upon itself, enclosed like any Mohammedan woman,
Its nakedness all within-walls, its flowering forever unseen,
One small way of access only, and this close-curtained from
the light;

Tina breaks into the verse of the poem running through my mind. “Oh, dear God.” But I keep my tongue to its focus, moving deeper into her concentration, and now, she’s opening just for me.

“Bette, you have to stop. You never make love to me so fast. I’m not sure I like it.”

“No.” I shake my head, as I take a deep breath.

Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward,
Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,

“Sweet Jesus. I don’t know what you’re doing.” Tina takes my curls in her hands and grabs the back of my neck. She pushes herself deeper up the length of my tongue. I can only smile inside, my lips and mouth are otherwise engaged.

Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilization, and fruiting.

I replay a circular licking tempo over and over. It’s one of her favorites, and when, I feel she’s there, I slowly slip my fingers out from her.

In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see
Till it’s finished, and you’re over-ripe, and you burst to give
up your ghost.

“Oh, for Christsake! Please come up here and fuck me. I give up. I promise you, I give up.”

“So, the Checkered Demon wins?” I ask lying on top of her.

Bette's Tongue.2 on top

“Bette, God, you’re insane and I love you. Yes, the Checkered Demon wins!”

“I love you to, Baby. Is this what you want?”

“I didn’t even get past one finger!” She holds me as we kiss. “This is a rigged game the way you play, isn’t it?”

“How can you say that? Everybody, absolutely everybody wins.” I sigh as she slides down deeper onto my fingers. She looks at me while we make love. In her eyes I see myself in a tiny reflection before each one of her blinks.

My dream changes.

white wolf growl moonlight

Running through a field with each sprint I have wolf paws that claw into the earth. But who’s chasing me? I feel my breathing, now so ragged, as I crest a hill and try to break through a thicket of thorns. They wrap themselves around my legs and scratch into me as fight them for freedom.

A massive tangle of iron and parts of houses and cars, and the broken detritus of people’s lives swing from cables in a massive sculpture that hangs between the forest trees. I leap onto a platform inside the sculpture and spin fast around to see what’s following me.

On a slow spinning cylinder of shiny metal I see words and curious symbols engraved into it. What does it say? Stop spinning! What does it say? I stretch my neck up to see and out from my throat comes a wolf’s howling that sounds like a cry that awakens me drenched in sweat.

I lie in bed and rub my chest to steady and calm my breath.

My house is too quiet and my panting unnerves me.  I remember bad dreams after my mother left. I had them for years and searching for her all night long became what I did. Over and over again it happened. When I closed my eyes at night I hunted for her.

Goddammit! Why does this keep fucking happening to me? I think I give them everything they want but they still leave. This one’s not doing that. She’s not leaving me without a fucking word as to why. She can’t. Jodi, you can’t. I love you and I’m going to find you and make you come back. If Tina won’t come home then, you sure as hell will.

I roll over and push the pillows around. I’m tired of all this abandoning bullshit. This rotating door in my heart is ridiculous and painful and I’m about fucking finished with letting this happen to me again. I was happy with Jodi. Yes, she was a pain in the ass, but she was here and she’d started to be mine.

And punch the pillows again, I’m going to find her – wherever she is – and bring her back to me.

____________

TheChariot
28. A Drink with the Gypsy     http://wp.me/p4AUvc-7W

Tina panics and returns to the Gypsy for more insight, and she leaves with a powerful plan.

The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard,


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A Taste for Politics Bette Porter L Word

BettePortrait_FAB and backlite

A Taste for Politics

As I walk through the parking lot my thoughts are far above me on a rooftop just past the trees off to my right, and a lifetime ago in a shed filled with sea breezes and the taste of salt on Tina’s neck. My tongue I realize is lonely. Its urges unnerving to me.

People talk about the wholeness and peace gained in mindfulness as a person moves toward integration with The Self. That knowing all of the parts of ourselves is somehow a more evolved state of mind. Let me say this to them: If I were to spend any more time in my looking glass of memories in the basement of my mind I would shatter completely and it would not be pretty.

It would not be a break or the mental snap that led me to murderous thoughts with a Bowie knife after Tina and Henry threatened to take my child away. It would not be like the disassembling meltdown that left my throat sore for hours after I screamed her name when she left me the first fucking time. It would be closer to the devastating strike on 9/11 in Manhattan as the spines of the towers collapsed into clouds of toxic screaming rubble.

I feel a sickness inside me. I was in New York that morning. I remember the chaos and unearthly panic as the hot smelling dust of them blew up Broadway and chalked us all white. It left me inches away from insanity, an experience impossible to wash away.

No, I would find a crooked Zen moment and walk in front of a bus. Wholeness would break me. I know too much already.

Fuck! I’m lonely and pissed off. It’s cruel that on this important night of my life Tina is nowhere to be found. So fucking typical of everything, including this impossible unraveling.

But my tongue, my most valuable antenna, is impossibly devious and largely unruly by nature, and now I must deal with its dangerous thirsts for Coeds. What else can it hunger for? And what at the party – within ten minutes of getting my there – can I possibly find to slake its thirst?

I’m roused from my lascivious self-pity when I see Arnold’s long black limo and security entourage – guarding him front and back – drive through campus toward me. But wait, those aren’t the golden bear flags of the State of California. I stop walking. The limo pulls along side me. The window slides down with a whoosh.


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The Fugue of White Noise – Tina Kennard – The L Word

TinaFABulousPortrait

The Fugue of White Noise

Shaolin Studios – Tina

Helena has fucking lost her mind but I can’t even deal with that right now. I’m thinking about Dana and how Bette doesn’t know yet how bad it has become. In a few hours she’ll be home from her meditation retreat and because she thinks of Dana as a little sister this news of her back in the hospital is going to hurt.

Alice can only be found now, as in 24/7, at Dana’s bedside, all vampire weirdness a forgotten fetish. Shane continues to encourage me in her smartass way that if I ever need a reminder of sex on the dark side Uta’s friend, Alessandra, is waiting in a hot tub above a wine cellar somewhere west of where I live.

There is no way to explain Henry to Shane that would make her not rub her nose in circles and go for the bong behind the couch. Carmen is a “No” vote for Henry and Jenny looks crazier and crazier every time I see her. There’s something wrong with her eyes, and I just don’t think it’s allergies like she says.

I feel sometimes one after another we all get into a mental ward straightjacket state and become impossible to understand. But these days I’m back at work, in a nice relationship with Henry. Money is coming in, not so much of it going out anymore, and things are steady. Except for Dana and it breaks my heart. And Helena, of course, but I’ll have to explain the movie business, as ‘in its entirety’, to her later.

Alice is expecting me at the hospital, and I can’t find where I put the hand lotion I hope Dana will enjoy. It’s from the lovely Welsh dispensary Bette had discovered while we were over there. She’s still devoted to the two ladies who dreamed this whole creamy scheme up years ago, as a way to pay for their visit to Lourdes, and its healing waters.

I never knew Bette cared, or even believed in magical waters, but in Wales she became so enamored with Afanen and her lover, Cerridwyn, that she’d dropped two thousand dollars – right there on the spot – and had handed them her entire Christmas business for that year.


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Remembering Me (Part Two)

Remembering Me – Part Two – Canyons

Bedroom – Bette

As Tina dozes on my shoulder, my thoughts drift back up the ceiling, lazily pausing on this thought and that, when a memory from my childhood settles in my mind.  A piece of translucent honey-colored amber of my mother’s.

Before she’d died we’d hold it to the light and make up stories about the hapless beetle trapped inside. We’d imagine him, as he’d crawled along a tree trunk a thousand years ago, his armor tough and impervious to most things, until his amber moment happened.

Tina stirs next to me and my thoughts drift back to her warm breath on my shoulder.  With one leg thrown across me, her wet patch pressing against my skin sends signals deep into my brain – never wait this long again.

I sigh as my thoughts drift back up to the ceiling.

What would I do if a Gypsy woman appeared right here in my bedroom?  If she took out her casting bones and pitched them on the floor between us,  looked me in the eyes,  with her coal black ones, and said I had only two choices left before I died.

Be entombed like the amber beetle preserving this blissful moment with Tina forever?  Or live until the stroke of midnight, with this sweet moment forgotten, gambling something better might come along?

But could it? Possibly?

“How long until we need to get our daughter?” Tina breaks my reverie, with a back-to-earth matter.

Hoping she means let’s go again, I remind her, “You see I’ve got quickies down.”

“You are kidding, right?”

“Mmmm,” I sigh, leaving her to wonder.

She kisses me up and down my belly. “Seriously Bette, do you need to call Shane and tell her the coast is clear?”

“But we’re not out of bed, yet.” I pull her to me and we enjoy a long, lazy kiss. “Please tell me, if you know, why haven’t we been together like this? I know the list of ‘what-elses’ that’s been going on…but still?”

“The ‘else’?  It will not make sense to you,” she warns me.

“Okay, you think you know that, but go ahead. Try to fly something past me.”

“That’s the problem, Bette, it’s not an intellectual discussion, it’s an illogical one and we don’t have time.”

“This has been happening to you since you got home?”

“It has.”

“Please tell me.”  I rise up on my elbow.  “I need to know.”

“Bette, just don’t try to analyze me out of what I’m feeling.”

“Forewarned.”

“You’re dominating,  jealous and very possessive …”

My hands fly up and cover my face. “My God! What have I done now?”

“I knew you would go there,” Tina’s voice sinks.

“Fuck it, continue. I apologize.” I zip my lips shut.

“As I was saying, you are all of the above.  Did I mention possessive?”

I nod.  “You did.”

“And the way you are in bed with me is . . .”

“This part I do like.”

TinaAlmostKissBette

She strokes my cheek. “Baby, I want you to try to hear me. You are the only one who could ever reach me the way you do. I know that. Please, you know it, too.”

I look at her intently, because the bomb has yet to drop. “Okay, I feel better.” I lie.

“In the birthing tub, when the water turned blood red…”

“So horrible.” I flashback on the nightmarish scene…of just last week.

Tears drop from her eyes spilling onto my cheeks.  Her chin quivers as she says, “I felt myself dying in your arms.  Both me and the baby.”

I hold her beautiful face in my hands.  “I was there with you the whole time.  No one was leaving.”  I wipe more of her tears away.  “No one.  Okay? ”

“But I’ve been stuck there, Bette!  In a feedback loop of seeing your face, feeling an incredible pain I cannot describe and then, nothing.”

“But nothing ended!  It wasn’t the end.  See you came back.”

Tina turns away from me.

“Oh Jesus.  So, this is why you’ve been avoiding me, by association?  But Tina, I was there holding onto you!”

“It makes no sense saying it out loud.” She gets out of bed and begins picking up the clothing I’d thrown everywhere.

“No, please don’t dismiss this.”

“Bette, I can’t talk about it anymore, okay?  I don’t want to ruin what just happened.”

Bette_TankTop Looking left at Camera

Topanga Canyon –

People say running clears your mind. Good for them. Running causes me pain and when I can’t deal  I push my body harder and harder to feel more than I can stand. It’s a temporary alleviation, but apparently everything else is, too.

Driving up to the canyon to run I realize I’ve hit my limits for coping, without pain or liquor or wanting to punch something.

I begin to stretch out my legs and then sprint full speed into the canyon.

Before she was furious at me about my idiotic diversion with Candace, Tina’s steady emotions were what I knew I was coming home to every night. I was the one who had the most daunting irritations. The most unbelievably important things to vent.  Now, we’re at the opposite pole of extremes.

Tina’s  feelings.  The baby’s tender care, both of them far outweigh my own. They’ve needed and I’ve responded. Over and over I’ve done this, since they’ve been home. I’ve been on ‘it’. For once, I don’t think this is a fuck up of mine.

But the emotions she described haunt me and I keep running.

Shane EXT CU

At the Trailhead

Tina’s POV –

“Shane, you may hike around here with only a pack of smokes and a beer, but there’s a bit more to going with me and Angelica. We don’t need a pack mule.  Just take this backpack and I’ll take her.”

“I wasn’t laughing at all the baby gear. Isn’t that Bette’s car over there?”

“Hmm, I thought she was going to Yoga.  We’ll run into her on the trail and she’ll carry the baby stuff back.”

Shane looks annoyed.  “No! I’m carrying the baby’s nappies, and whatever else is in here,” she says slinging the backpack over her shoulder, “so, turn around and go up that trail.”

“If it’s not too off putting for your image?”

Shane pulls down her shades.  “So, now I’m just your sex sitter?”

“About that…first of all, thanks, and I hope you’ll come to dinner with us tonight. Bette’s been cooped up a bit too much for her own good lately.”

“I don’t know, Tina, she seems really good, to me.”

“She’s exhausted, Shane. Are you kidding?”

“Okay, if that’s what you think, but I don’t see her turning it up to eleven anymore, do you?”

“Oh, her baby does that plenty. Bette’s got plenty of competition these days.”

Shane slows when she sees some friends coming down the trail.  I wave and hike ahead carrying Angelica wrapped against my chest in her toddler knapsack.

Around us the canyon walls are turning a deeper color of dark orange as the sun lowers in the sky.  I inhale the dry air and think of fire season that’s coming soon.

The baby’s head lolls from side to side as she nods off.

A group of teenagers jostle each other and pass me on the trail.   I look back and see Shane still talking with her friends.

I knew maybe three people when I first moved here, to a city of millions and millions.  Lost time after time, it’d taken me months to navigate its freeways, discovering only the surface of this city.  Meeting Bette, who knew thousands of people, I was given entree into LA’s underground.

Dating her we’d taken our time, I say that now…I slept with her on the fourth date. I’d dressed so carefully to fit in with the artists from all over the world, who wore things I’d never seen, but in the end, it hadn’t mattered.  Across any room, her eyes had undressed me with the fast sting of a zipper.

CU Bette slySmile

It’d stayed like for years and then, we’d drifted away – almost losing each other – and now, this under current of depression that feels so wrong.

My phone rings in my pocket, an old friend from my non-profit days.   “Hello there!” I say to Catalina.

In her exuberant Spanish accent she gushes, “I just heard you had your baby!  How is she?  How’s Bette?  When can I come see!”

“Tomorrow?”

“Bueno, bueno, bueno!  Say three?  I’ll miss some traffic.”

“Prepare yourself for anything.”

“What do you mean?”  Her voice sounding concerned.

“I mean if at three o’clock this baby has other ideas…”

“Well! Bette can take care of it.  She’s home with you right?  On maternity leave, too?”

“Actually, her job imploded.  She’s looking for a new one.”

“Lots of catching up to do!  See you!”  Catalina rings off.

Shane catches up to me. “Right, I know, we’ve hardly walked a hundred feet.”

“Not much of a hiker are you?”

She taps out a cigarette and lights it.  “Not really, no, but let’s keep going.  I’ve definitely made it this far before.”

As we hike up the trail Bette appears, running as if something’s chasing her. Seeing us, she waves and slows down and stopping beside me her shoulders heave as she catches her breath.

With a baby towel I wipe the perspiration from her forehead. “Aren’t you overdoing it a little?”

“Much better. It was stinging my eyes.”

“You could’ve stopped.”

“I could have.”

“Babe, I’ve invited Shane to come to dinner with us.”

“Tonight?  Sure.”

Shane says, “She wants to tip me for being your sex sitter.”

“Very funny.”  I push her sightly.  “I can see you’re holding onto that line.”

Bette claps her hand on Shane’s shoulder and with the other she frames the  business’ slogan. “Shane’s Sex Sitting Service – by the hour.”

“Baby has got to be somewhere in the title,” I offer.

Bette considers my rewrite for an instant. “But wouldn’t ‘Baby Sex Sitting’  land her in jail?”

“Definitely,” Shane says, “and living next door to you I already know too much.”

“Hey!”  Bette says, while whizzing the hand towel around, as if she’s ready to snap it. “I can count on not two, but four hands how many woman you’ve fucked in my pool!”

“That you know of,” Shane adds slyly.  Backing away she says, “I can meet you guys somewhere at eight.”

“How about Paella on Melrose? They’ll let me in with a long sweater, over my running shorts.”

“See you.” Shane waves ‘so long’!

Bette picks up the knapsack. “It’s getting dark, Baby.”

“I have to feed her before we go we dinner.”

“A very good thing for you, too, baby,” Bette says, as Angelica drools a little baby sputter back.

Around us, along the upper rims of the trail, people are gathering along its edges to watch the sunset over the Santa Monica Mountains.

“Here?” Bette asks, settling the backpack’s straps over her shoulders. “Or should we drive home?”

Trailhead parking lot –

Bette’s POV –

As the sun drops behind the Santa Monica mountains day turns to night in a matter of minutes. In the canyon outside my car, the night creatures stir in the shadows.  I reach for the key in the ignition when Tina stops me.

“Let’s just stay here.  She won’t take long.” Tina unbuttons her blouse.

With no where pressing to go, I recline my car seat and my exhaustion settles over me in a fog, holding within it, the faintness of Tina’s perfume, a whiff of me after exercising, but most of all the overpowering scent of our tiny baby.

How is that possible?

I’m twenty times her mass and yet, my body sweat is a half note in the score of scents  surrounding us.  There’s talc and lavender from her baby lotion. A citrus scent from her blanket and then, releasing into the closed interior of my car is the smell of Tina’s breast milk.

I close my eyes and listen to Angelica’s puckering sounds and Tina’s soft coo’s as she nurses.

Lazily, she brushes the side of my face with her fingers..

“Tee, I have a confession.”

Her eyes half closed she mummers, “Mmmm, I’m sure it’s a good one.”

“Hormones make you sleepy?’

“Floaty really, like a light-stoned feeling,” her voice drifting, giving me hope maybe, she’ll forget.

I whisper, “Instead of looking for a job I’ve been painting watercolors of you.”

She laughs softly, as if she’s known all along.

Relieved, I settle back in my seat. “Painting reminds me of my mother.” I pause, as my eyes search the gloaming light of the canyon. “In my mind she’d have been a wonderful grandmother.”

“Our baby needs a grandmother. Mine was wonderful,” Tina says, handing me our daughter.

I buckle Angelica inside her carseat in the back, and turning around I see the watercolor of Tina I will paint only for myself.

Her expression as she slips her blouse away from the breast the baby didn’t take, offering it to me.

“I know you love it,” she says, as her milk flows past my lips, and her hand slides inside my running shorts.

restaurant_WeHo

Paella, West Hollywood – Bette

“I heard you say Alice might stop by,” I ask Shane, while sending a warning look to Tina.

“It’s hard to tell with her these days,” Shane says. “Helena knows more than I do.”

At the mention of Helena I groan.  “Will she ever go back New York?”

“Carmen says Alice is dating a vampire,” Shane adds nonchalantly.

“What?” Tina snaps. “Repeat that, please?”

The waiter appears with our steaming plates of paella. He smiles at the baby sucking on her pacifier.

“Carmen says there’s a vampire cult here in LA. It appears, one of them has found Alice. Uta, her name is, maybe?”

“For the love of God!” I exclaim. “This has got to be some sort of fucking joke!”

“Bette, you need to go see Alice. Take Shane with you,” Tina says, opening her mussels.

A spiral of steam lifts between us.

“What? You aren’t coming?”  I ask, “In case vampires are real?”

“Vampires aren’t real, Bette, but…just in case, you do the recon and report back to base.”

“When? Again?  Did I become the infantry?”  I get no response from Tina.  Then I ask Shane, “Where is this vampire of Alice’s, anyway?”

“Why do guys think,” Shane asks, looking back and forth between us, “that I know every weird gay thing that’s dragging around West Hollywood?”

Shocked, I look up from my dinner. “You mean, you don’t?”

“God, the only other person we do know to ask….would be Alice,” Tina says sadly.

Next, I ask something patently absurd. “How do you meet a vampire?”

“At Kit’s Bi-sexual Speed Dating Night.”

“Jesus Christ! We lose touch for not even two weeks and my sister slides into oblivion.”

Tina says, “This sounds more like Billy Blakely, than Kit.”

“Bisexuals are the last thing I need,” Shane says, catching the waiter’s eyes for another beer.

“I’m with you.” I nod.

“I take a little exception to that, Bette,” Tina says.

“Sorry, but has your wool not dyed yet, completely?” I stare back at her.

Shane taps my arm. “There’s Alice.”

Alice feigns embarrassment, when Tina makes a fuss about how we haven’t seen her for ages, and hugging her to me, I feel Alice shaking, and that worries me.

“I know I’ve been a terrible Earth Mother to Angelica. My job at the radio station, well, the producer is fucking driving me crazy.” Alice collapses in her seat.

Shane stares at her in disbelief. “Alice, you can’t mention Dana two hundred times in one broadcast and expect that to go unnoticed.”

“You think, huh? Everyone loves Dana Fairbanks! She’s a fucking tennis star!” Alice objects.

“Wait! Did I miss another tournament of Dana’s?” But I’m ignored.

“Alice, what do you want to eat? Our treat.” Tina pushes ahead.

Alice fidgets. Shane frowns a little at me and points to my chin.

“What?” I ask her, as I brush away a crusting of Tina’s breast milk.

“Bette, Bette, Bette.” Shane shakes her head, putting it together.

Busted, I flash her a desperate look that reveals my madness.

“Thanks, but I’m on a liquid diet these days,” Alice answers Tina’s question about dinner. “Fasting and losing weight.  It’s all good.”  She shakes a blue pill into her palm and swallows it.

“Alice, what’d you just take?” Tina asks, while Alice paws through her purse, extracting handful after handful of amber colored prescription bottles.

They hit the table in front of me, in a clatter.  “Holy fuck! You’re pill shopping aren’t you? No doctor since Elvis would give you all these at the same time!”

“Actually, Michael Jackson’s doctor, a few years ago, remember?” Tina offers as another example of unintended suicide.

“Well, that was very sad, too,”  I agree. “Alice, are you taking all these together, and not eating?”

I pick up the bottles one by one, “Take one every morning for depression. Take one every four hours for anxiety and take these for insomnia.”

Alice reaches for the last vial.  “Oh, don’t worry, I don’t have insomnia anymore. I just quit trying to sleep at night.”

“You just quit?”  Tina shouts.

Alice leans into the table, and in a hoarse whisper says, “I’m dating a lesbian vampire…at night, you know? That’s when she’s steamin’ hot.”

Why I felt the need to argue with her I don’t know. “But that’s counter intuitive, Alice. Vampires would have to be cold, because technically they’re dead.”

“Technically, Bette, and I know you don’t like being corrected, but the term is “undead”.” Alice ”air quotes” with her fingers.

“Okay! Whatever!  We’d like to meet her, wouldn’t we, Tina?  How about a double date?” At this, I feel Tina’s kick to my leg so, I glare at her.

“Hmm, would she like that . . .?”  Alice muses.

“Oh God.” Tina gets up from the table.

I point to Shane and Angelica.  “Watch her, please.” I hop up from the table and follow Tina.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine, just a stomach pain, not sure why.” She waves back at the table.

Then, clutching my arm, she leads me into the Ladies Room. “Bette, do not encourage this dating thing with Alice. You know goddamn well I’m not going out on a date with you and some fucking vampire.”

Two hours later – Bedroom –

Absentmindedly, open my power suit closet door and peer inside.

“Do you want anything while I’m up?” I ask Tina, lying on the bed.

“No, I believe you’ve heard me several times asking you to come here.” She pats the pillow next to her.

I sigh deeply and fall onto the bed staring up at the ceiling. “I don’t want to go on a date with a vampire either, Tina.”

“Of course you don’t.”

“In fact, I don’t want to get dressed ever again. I may start smoking dope and painting in my pajamas.”

Tina laughs and pushes at my shoulder.  “Go get your paintings so, I can see if that’s in your future.”

In the bottom cabinet by the bed, I take out a medium-sized folder holding my watercolors.  I flip through them and see the delight and surprise on Tina’s face.

”Beautiful! Bette, I love this one.” She taps the graphite sketch of Angelica’s face and motions for me to keep going.

I hand her one of her sleeping with the baby at her breast that I’d carefully painted with warm yellow sun tones next to the blue-green of her open blouse. Ever so carefully using a tiny, tiny sable brush I’d painted a rosy hue for her lips and nipples.

Holding it, she begins to cry and pulling tissues from the box, she says,  “It’s so beautiful, Bette.  May I keep it?”

“It’s for you.”

“Thank you.”  She kisses me. “Do I really look like this?”

“You’re a very sexy sleeper, Baby. You always have been.”

Tina holds the small painting up, looking for a place to hang it on the wall. “This isn’t the kind of painting we show, is it?”

“No, it’s a private moment.”  I flip to the one most recently finished. “Here’s the last one. The rest are studies only.” I hand her one I painted of the three of us.  Our baby encircled in our arms.

Holding it Tina weeps again.

I wipe her tears. “I don’t know what to do for you,” I confess.

“You do, you just did.” She leans back against me and we look at the bird’s eye view painting of the three of us.

“I’ve watched you float up there, Bette, many times,” she says, putting her head on my shoulder. “Quite the conversation, I imagine?”

Smiling to myself I gather up the paintings and slip them back into their folder.  “Never about you though.”

“Uh huh,” she leans past me and turns out the light.

_____________

In case the links are not in order and you missed the first story in this series, here’s the link to: Remembering Me – Part One


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Remembering Me – Part One

Bette_Tina intheSheets

 

Lying in bed next to Tina, our baby asleep nearby in her cradle, my mind begins its uncertain drift – in and out of a satisfied state.  It’s been a wholly new experience having Tina back, after so much uncertainty.  After controlling my rage to not wrap my belt around Helena’s neck in revenge for all the damage she’s done.  Well, nearly did…before Tina regained her senses, finished her payback fling, and came home.

It’s also not lost on me that I’m relating with total strangers on the Internet, instead of with any of my friends. Or someone else involved in all of this – Tina springs to mind, but not yet, I can’t talk to her about what feels obsessive to me.

So, who in our circle of friends could, first of all keep a fucking confidence, or relate to any of my questions about being a new parent?

Alice has gone off the rails. Her obsession with Dana is all consuming. Tina feels really badly about it, and so do I. If we weren’t juggling with Angelica’s uncertain schedule of sleeping, feeding and pooping, followed by a fourth ball in the air, her blistering screams sometimes just for the hell of it, I know we’d either be admitting Alice into a psyche ward, or taking a long walk down the beach with her to size up the need for it.

Other’s neuroses aside, my quest for today is to understand this: When the primal bond between baby and mother is imprinting Tina as the sole provider of mother’s milk, what is left for me? Where do I fit in?

I stare out the window and wonder. Could I’ve predicted these lesbian Daddy blues?

More clouds roll in off the ocean and I feel lost.

LA Remembering Me Sky

If it’s being their provider, I never open my power suit closet any more. By now, I’ve probably forgotten how to walk in heels and not crash into a busboy.  I do, however; recognize the part of me who’s half-heartedly sending out her CV for job prospects every morning, but mostly, I stare at the professional listings letting my tea grow cold.

And without guilt, I like the new me, who has no desire to work, or wrestle with people’s egos, who mistakenly believe they know more than me. No. Fuck them. I’d rather spend my early mornings painting watercolors of Tina and the baby while they sleep, and my afternoons fantasizing about having sex some day, one day, any day again.

My eyes drift down from the clouds and I hope the secret blog I started will have answers today.  My cravings for the milkiness of Tina’s breasts, a very new scent in my house, has me tuned to it like a hungry dog.

I slip out of bed and stealthily make my way to my computer in the dining room.

Twenty minutes later –

I hear the shower cutting off and I switch my browser to NPR. On a low volume, Fresh Air with Terry Gross plays through the speakers, as Tina comes down the hallway and breezes past me on her way to the kitchen.

The refrigerator opens and closes.

“Bette, I’m going out shopping to buy grapes. What else do we need?”

”There’s a list around here somewhere.” I slap at my hips, but for the eighth day in a row I’m still in pajamas, no pockets.

”Here it is. Okay, got it,” I say, as her head appears around the corner of the dining room. “I found it under a notebook.”

”Bye!” she says, taking the list. “The baby’s fed and she’ll need changing soon.”

“I got this.” I answer, as Tina scoops up her keys and leaves.

Immediately, I reconnect to my blog, ostensibly about breast feeding, but I’m actually seeking more.

I see a post from DaisyMae33 and I clap my hands together.  Maybe today I’ll get some answers!

DaisyMae33 writes:

”This is my first pregnancy, and I really didn’t know what to expect. My hometown is far away from where I live so, I’m pretty much doing this alone with my boyfriend. Do any other new mothers have this going on? My boyfriend has lost his mind over sucking my breast milk.”

I stop reading and my mouth drops open.

Jesus, I’m not alone…

”At first, when I got home from the hospital he was really good about keeping away from me, but then, one night after I’d gotten some rest, he was on me like a thunder for my milk.”

I repeat her description aloud in what I guess is her rural accent, “on me like a thunder.”

Nodding my head, I read on.

”It’s something I’ve never dreamed of mixing with sex. It’d felt strange at first, cause it was meant for the baby, but he loves it so.

“Last night he came home, after talking to his older sister about her having babies, and said, if I wanted to I could keep lactating after the baby was weened.  I know he’s getting serious about this new thing between us, and honestly, I’m thinking about it. Any of you other new mothers being asked about this?”

I lean back in my chair. Would Tina ever, ever, ever in a million years…?

The next post is from BabyRuth123:

”This is our first child, and I’m not the daddy exactly. My girlfriend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last month, and every body if you need to, just get over it ’cause we’re lesbians.

“Where we live there aren’t any women, who are so openly gay they wanna hang a big sign over their heads by having a baby, but we finally just didn’t give a hoot anymore, and we live out of town on my ranch, anyway.

“The baby’s schedule’s finally settling down, but my girlfriend’s hormones are still running the show! Anybody got any thoughts on how long this new mother phase lasts? I’m starting to feel a little sex crazy out here.”

I write my post using my handle, MilkyWay33, and describe my own breast milk dilemma with Tina.

”My partner had a C-section, not by design but by emergency. Her scar is healing, but she’s still sore and the baby never sleeps through the night.  So, what we do share is not much sleeping, but no lovemaking either.”

I lean back in my chair wondering: why it feels so good to confess my problems to total strangers?

I continue, ”A few night ago she came to bed with her breasts still full of milk. Maybe she’d forgotten to pump after feeding the baby, or maybe she was just too tired – I don’t know how it happened – but it did.  Now, every time night falls and the baby’s had her last feeding, I want her milk again.

“Helpful advice from new mothers and their partners welcome.”

I never have days like this.

I hit ‘Send’.

One hour later –

Angelica is in her baby carrier in the bathroom with me. My plan is to shower and take a much needed reevaluating look at myself in the mirror. Should I get job? Or should I borrow money until I can support us on my newly discovered fixation of painting mother and child watercolors? I suppose that’s a plan,…if I’m feeling delusional.

No sooner do my pajamas hit the tile floor, and the much needed shower spray hits my skin, the baby begins to fuss and cry. I ignore it, as the smells of me having been away from soap and water too long begin to wash away.

After a minute or two I peek from behind the shower door to see Angelica red-faced and really pissed off at me. I hurriedly wash my hair, while the baby continues her incessant yowling.

On the sensitive subject of baby crying Tina and I are back and forth about how long to let it go on, but this fit is really escalating into a hurricane of a wail.

I abandon my efforts at showering.

“Okay, okay, listen here, you’re fine.” I try talking Angelica down, when I’m faced with two monumental decisions.

Drawstrings on my pants today? Or elastic to hold them up?

I toss the towel back toward the bathroom door, and go with blue Nike drawstrings.

Tucked between the bed pillows, the baby continues to wail.  If she weren’t so obviously safe, so over-the-moon cared for, and a thousand pictures of her taken everyday by three, I’d worry about her, but I think she’s just letting off steam.

“Baby, baby, baby, what’s the trouble here? Not enough colors in the rainbow for you today? ” I tickle her tiny foot, but that only proves to be more infuriating.

Wow! This child can scream, when suddenly, the bedroom door flies opens and Tina,  wet patches spreading across the her blouse, charges in.

“What?” I shrug, sure of my innocence. “I didn’t do anything at all to get her twisted off like this.”  To prove my point I pick the baby up and rock her. “See we’re good. I was just putting some clean clothes on.”

Angelica still cries in my arms, but her volcanic bellowing has subsided.

Exasperated, Tina looks at her soaking wet blouse. “Bette, just give her to me. I’ll take her and feed her. I mean…look at me!”

“I know we’re a handful. You’ve got it hard.” I laugh sympathetically and hand Angelica over to Tina. “How was the outside world anyway?”

“They put a new wood-fired pizza oven at the market, and the smog’s not too bad today.”  She walks out of the room calling over her shoulder, “Will you put the groceries away, while I feed the baby? I didn’t buy much at all. Grapes, a few things, you’ll see.”

Instinctively, my nose follows the whiffs of her breast milk down the hallway. and my hungry horny dog is back.

A few hours later –

I sneak back to see if anyone’s answered my blog confession.

LibertyBell33 writes:

“To tell the truth y’all, it does get better. Hang in there Mommas! It may sound simple but, as soon as you can, go find somethings you used to do regular, and then go do them two days in a row. I swear it’ll make you feel yourself again. I know it’s just a little thing, but don’t dismiss it.”

The next post is from RodeoRider77:

“Good, another gay mom! Glad 2 CU BabyRuth.  My baby’s and mine sex life really did flip flop around there for a while. I finally had to take a firm hand about it with her one day and remind her that it was time, so let’s go. And it was trouble only a few times after that.

“If this seems like your style, then I’d say, quit wasting time reading my post about it and get on with your business.”

I switch back to NPR.org on my browser page and look at the time.

Four o’clock.

Not enough information to gauge how I might pull this off, or if it’s even possible.  Four o’clock could mean any number of things.

Quickly, I rinse the bunch of grapes and put them in a bowl. Next, I make two lemonades, spiking mine with vodka and wonder…a flower on the tray, maybe?

No, too much. Just the grapes and twenty uninterrupted fucking minutes.

I walk out to the pool where Tina’s sitting on the steps doing baby dips into the salt water with Angelia. I sip my spiked lemonade. “Delicious!” I say, handing her a plastic tumbler.

“Come join us. You want to take her? She loves this!” Tina sips her lemonade, while Angelica comes to bounce in the shallow water with me.

“I thought it might be nice for us to have a drink and visit a little.”

“’bout what?” Tina fishes a lemon seed out of her drink.

“Hm. Oh. About. . . did you see that hummingbird just now? Early for this time of year.”

“I didn’t,” Tina says, and we look around our garden for hummingbirds that were never there.

“Tee, look at me for a second.” I crook the baby in my arms sideways and she wiggles to swim away. I lean over and kiss Tina’s lips once, twice and I wait an inch from her mouth. She kisses me back softly.

Excellent!

I draw her into a deeper kiss, lovelier even still, when a rapping comes from Shane’s side of the fence.

“Hey, are you guys cool with me dropping off a gift for the baby?” Shane’s voice carries into our garden.

Tina looks at me for my answer.

“I was enjoying this…between us…what’d you want to do?” I ask the ‘Question of the Hour’.

“I hate to turn her away,”  Tina says, hesitantly.

Hearing no answer from our side, Shane calls, “Look, I’ll just come back…whenever.”

I shout over the fence to her, “Shane, how about you watch Angelica for half an hour? Could you do that for me?”

The gate creaks open and Shane walks through with an armload of crazily wrapped packages.

Tina says, “Bette! Look at these handmade papers!” Then to Shane, “This is so sweet of you.”

I nod my head in definite agreement while silently mouthing, “T H I R T Y…M I N U T E S,” behind Tina’s head.

Shane plays it cool. “I was just messing around with the airbrush yesterday at the skate shop.” She leans down to Angelica, who sends back a delighted baby-blubber of giggles, and that’s my cue to leave.

I hand the baby off to Shane. “My friend, this means the fucking world to me right now. You have no idea.”

Shane_Med_bluegreen bckgrd

“I have an idea.” She rocks the baby in her arms. “I’m gonna take her home, and not hang out here by your pool.”

Almost at the gate, she turns back and says, “You look good, Bette. Not working suits you.”

“I’ll find you in about…?”

“An hour is fine. Whatever. Hey, you don’t mind if I smoke weed around the baby, do you?”

“Puff away.” I bow to Shane and run inside my house.

Down the hall I hear the shower running. I can do that again! I strip off my clothes in the hallway and throw open the door to the bathroom.

“Good God! What are you doing?” Tina shouts, as I collide with her. “Did something happen? Is the baby all right?” Then she looks curiously at me. “Bette, where are your clothes?”

This brings me up short. Make a move or die time.

I go for it.

Gripping her by the hair at the back of her head, I kiss her with everything I’ve got and send up a flare to all the other frustrated motherfuckers out there, everything’s a negotiation, absolutely everything.

Here’s my point: This next kiss must go well.

I hear a sports announcer’s voice narrating in my head.  “This dive is very important. It all rides on this, doesn’t it Cecily?”

Cecily says,”You’re so right, Lance. Her form, how she enters the pool, how many back flips she makes, all determine this diver’s score.”

Lance says,  “Let’s show our viewers a graphic of Porter’s double-flip-twist combo.”

Cecily’s voice over continues, “Impressive!  But can she do it from such a high diving platform?”

Lance sounds excited to be a witness to my feat of greatness, “I’ve gotta admit, she’s very, very high up there. . .eight hundred feet above the water.”
Nude_DivingBoard

 

Cecily finishes breathlessly, “Let’s see what the judges say, as she makes her final diving attempt now…for the gold.”

Bedroom –

In a series of diagonal backwards steps and sudden turns I lead Tina through doorways and around corners and now, softly down.

I make wind of her clothing. Some fly to the left, more off to the right, everywhere but still on her.

From the bed, she watches my stomach muscles flexing as I pant and wait and lean over her…waiting…waiting…waiting…because I don’t want to forget this look in her eye of remembering me.

Kiss_silhouette

My tongue moves down her neck to awaken the milk in her breasts. Sucking, sucking, sucking her nipple, until it weeps a salty-sweet milk flow.

She massages her breast while whispering, “Bette, you have no idea what this feels like with you. You can’t. But I think somehow you do.”

A mist appears between us.

I can’t wait.

“Ohhh…Babe,” Tina cries, as we slide and slide together.

“I love you.”

“Oooo…you feel good.”  She lifts me up from her nipple by my chin.  “But I promise, I don’t have the stamina, Bette, for one of your long journeys to the edge and back again.”

”But you know, I’m no good at quickies. I’m just not built for it.”

”Yes, you are.”  She quickens our pace, thrusting her hips against mine. ”Bette, it’s a known fact.  You know exactly how to make me orgasm.”

”Well, when you ask for it so nicely…”

”Ooooo…ohh…” she moans, as her muscles throb up and down my fingers.

”We won’t wait.”  I shake my milk haze away and concentrate on making love to her.

“Don’t wait. Don’t wait.”

I lick the milk dripping from her nipples and feel her touch moving round and round on my clitoris.

Arching my back, reaching deep into her with beats against her cervix, ripples of orgasm shake her body.

She cries out, “Oh that hurts, hurts, hurts…with perfect pain.”

Knowing I’ll never stop, no matter what she says, we go over the edge and our orgasm breaks in waves between us.

She moans until our last shutter.

Finally, breaking our kiss, she says, “Bette, we have to find a babysitter.”

______________________________

Remembering Me Part Two is here:  http://wp.me/p4AUvc-2f

https://lwordbehindthescenes.com/2014/04/03/canyons-tina-kennard-l-word