The L Word : Behind the Scenes

The L Word Bette Porter Tina Kennard


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My New Vodka – 18 – Touch Tones #TheLWord

Kit seated suspcious, not pleased

The Planet – Kit

Backstage one night at The Blue Rose in Detroit, I remember looking out at the audience, a mostly union working class crowd, and thinking how musicians – all coked up, and smacked out on stage – we’re not even the same kinds of people, as those cleaned-up folk who plow through snow and traffic, and suffer God knows what else to work for The Man.

They’re safe, we’re not, but who’s happy?

I mean, who the fuck is happy? I’ve got Miami’s oiled-up white trash so far up my ass. . . meanwhile, across the table from me, Bette steers the drilling I was giving her ’bout getting gut-stabbed by Tina’s psycho sister, to how indignant she is there’s a betting pool on her.

As if I hadn’t put a twenty on that one, a long time ago!

The irritated resident of the planet called, In My Own World, Bette blows out a long, exhausted sounding sigh, and then her phone rings.

Bette_Agent Porter Unhappy on Phone

Betting on them, back in their getting-to-be-besties again stage, was a no-brainer. When Jodi had scooted outa here for New York, and Bette and Tina were exchanging Baby Girl, back and forth across my doorway, I’d watched them hit a smooth gear – and on their best behavior – they’d slid right back into each other.

Yet, there was — that ticking time bomb Bette had gone and lit.

time bomb

Called Jodi Lerner.

It’s as if we’re all impatient to bring about our next crisis and demise, and I for one, have had more than enough of the treachery of it, and how like a madman it’ll take your life.

But continuing on toward stranger and stranger shit, that just happens around here, comes Jenny’s movie that everyone knows is this place. Followed immediately by those two skanky bitches from Miami, just when my liquor sales were startin’ to skyrocket and it was fun goin’ to the bank on Mondays.

high wire cocktail The Planet

Alice had said it, showing off her new bruises from that ill fated adventure with Bette and the fucking sign, “We need something to ride this out, a new drink . . . something with a mindfuck kick . . .  something with vodka.”  And an hour later we’d named it, Altitude Disorder, after Bette and Tina’s highwire act, and I’d sold about eight hundred of them.

The new vodka, Bette and Tina falling back in love, everybody crazy about their sweet baby, and Alice seeding the speculation about the odds of betting this way or that — everybody losing weight but me, and Jenny’s movie and movie stars in here every weekend — we had all held our breath and waited, for the final countdown of Jodi being home. To see who would fall from the heights and into the sawdust of the circus tent, our never ending carnival — the place we insanely refer to as, Home.

The waiter slides a plate of cantaloupe in front of Bette, who’s still arguing over the phone with Phyllis, when I realize something else about my sister.

cantaloupe serving The Planet

She’s one of the fortunate folk. She can turn heads and get speeding tickets and run fast along the edges of whatever she pleases, always with a slightly fuck-off quality about her.

“You want me to drive up to Santa Barbara this morning?” She says into the phone, obviously not too keen on the idea. “Phyllis, are you listening to me?  I vet my funding contacts carefully – who to approach as major donors for the plum spots –  especially for the naming right’s on the art school.”

Phyllis argues back, vigorously.  Then, Bette stabs her fork right into the cantaloupe, and it sticks straight up with a twang, and she shouts, “I need to know a whole lot more than you had a lovely conversation with someone on your flight back from Sacramento!”

With a dramatic roll of her eyes, Bette holds out her phone for me to listen to Phyllis’ answer, which leads me to the other half of her being so fortunate, but so fucking stupid. Who else, on a sunny Monday morning, would argue about riding up the coast, and being entertained by rich people?

Someone from the planet of In My Own World, and a city called, So Not My Idea.

She ends her call abruptly, and the cantaloup begins to disappear. Between bites she says, “Honestly, I know all about the East Indian woman, Penelope de Souza, Phyllis is going on and fucking on about. She’s loaded, she’s generous, she’s gorgeous.”

Then, Bette stops chewing for a moment, and her eyes go into a softer, out-of-focus look.  “Before I met Tina, Penny and I dated for awhile.”

“Who is she?”

“Nothing short of amazing.”

“How’d it end?”

“Not badly. She had to leave for the Far East.  We had an amazing goodbye dinner, and she left.” Bette brushes her hands together.  “Done!”

“Use that.”

A sly smile. “I think I will.”

She leans down and kisses my cheek. “And did I tell you? We want to have another baby. Have I told you that?”

“You thinkin’ ’bout doing it this time?”

“God no! I’ve got my part down pat.”

I frown for a moment, not unhappy about a new baby, but from the memory of Tina’s undertow of postpartum depression.

“I thought you’d be happy with the news.” Bette stares down at me, her purse tucked under her arm, she’s all power suited up and raring for a tangle. “What’s wrong?”

“I told you five minutes ago! I’ve got bad white trash trouble, but I’ll deal with it. You go on.”

“I’ll be back on the road by three. Call you then?”

“Yeah, call me from the road. Now, you go on and get outa here. I’ll think of something.”

Penny profile golden hued background

Santa Barbara – the de Souza Estate – Bette

“You look well. It’s been awhile.” Penny presses the button for the elevator.

“Are we going up, down?”

“This elevator takes us down into my offices. Sensitive stuff, private matters.  Upstairs, we entertain here a lot.”

“I remember.”

“Of course, you do.”

She leads me into warren of rooms, far below the main estate’s mansion. Penny turns to look back at me. “You should’ve come seen me in Hong Kong, Bette. I had this amazing flat that overlooked the bay.”

“I probably should have . . .” my voice trails off as we walk into her office, and I see a very familiar painting from my past.

Penny's office

“You bought it?”

“I did. I sent for it later.” She reaches up and straightens the frame on the nude, that wasn’t hanging crooked at all. “That was such a romantic time.”

“It was.”

Penny leans against the edge of her desk, and motions me to a chair. “It’s ten-thirty, kind of an in between time, don’t you think? Should we have coffee, should we have tea? Should we start on Bloody Marys? Although, I have a lot of work to do today.”

“Did you enjoy living in Asia?”

“Are you asking, if I’m sorry I left you?”

“No, that wasn’t . . .”

But she doesn’t let me finish. Into her phone she orders our tea tray and lifting her eyebrow to me. “Fruit?  Biscuits?”

“Cantaloupe, if you’ve got it.”

“We grow thousands of them here. You must take some.” Penny hangs up the phone. “Where is home now, Bette?”

“This will surprise you!” I hand her my iPhone to see my family’s pictures. “Home is with my fiancée and daughter.”

She sends me a delightful smile.  “Yours?”

“Funny, how that keeps coming up today. No, Tina gave birth to her. I do all the other parts, as best I can.”

“I know what you mean.” Penny flips through more pictures. “I have children. A boy and a girl. Five and three.  He’s like a small tiger.  She’s quiet, with big dark eyes.  They’re both intense.”

“Mine is still blissfully playful.”

“Children change you.”

“Immensely.  Did you ever marry?”

“Two times.” Penny looks sheepishly at me. “It would’ve been three, but I came to my senses, and just walked away –  moved to another country – and that was that.”

“Very much your MO, as I recall.”

“I’m sorry, if I hurt you.”

“I’ve thought of you over the years, wondered how you’ve been.”

“Making money.” She moves around her desk and opens a drawer. “Let’s take the sting out of how we left it.” She flips open her checkbook.  Her pen poised, she sends me a quizzical look. “How bad was it?”

I look up at the nude painting of me hanging on her wall, and send her a sad, but sexy smile. “Oh, very.”

Bette_Painted nails red blouse

____________________

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Blackbird

 


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Malibu

Malibu_sunset

Malibu – 8:20 pm

I rustle inside the grocery sacks from my raid through Whole Food for our spur of the moment beach weekend. Finally, I locate the bag that holds the wine. Just outside the door on the deck Tina holds Angelica in her lap and brushes the coarse sand off her feet.

“Tina, do you want to put her to bed while I cook the salmon?”

“You’re cooking?” She looks curiously at me.

“Oh, you’re getting a much improved version in our relationship redux. I cook now. And your salmon fillet is with tomatoes and shallots and something else that will come to me in a minute.” I look up as I drop an armful of vegetables on the counter.

“Astonishing.” Tina closes the door with Angelica in her arms. “Kiss your daughter, then by all means, please cook.” I bury my face in Tina’s neck for a moment, and then cradle Angelica’s chin in my hand, and kiss her good night.

“I’d like to start with a red wine, and then switch to white with the fish. But a nice glass of something red and wonderful when I get back?”

“So ordered.” I lift up several bottles of reds to choose from as I hear them moving down the hallway.

 

Fireplace StoryImage

Malibu – 9pm

“Nice fire and you selected an excellent wine. Other pluses to add to your growing list of improvements.” Tina joins me on the couch with a tray of red grapes and cheeses. She puts a square of soft cheese on a cracker and pops it into my mouth. I chew. Delicious. We smile.

I’m in one of those moods where I could talk all night, or I could be happily mute and listen to the ocean surf outside the window, the fire snapping in front of me, and whatever Tina wants to say. I take a long sip of wine, and watch her as she settles into the cushions. She’s beautiful and I’m completely in love with her. We smile again.

“Are you being strange tonight, Bette? Or am I just completely exhausted from not much sleep and movie people all day long?”

“I have two years of things to say, or I have nothing but a blank slate with the next moment on it for you.” I lean in for another bite of cheese and cracker, and I make one for Tina.

“So, you are being weird.” Tina cocks her head at me.

“A little but not intentionally. But weird in a very, very friendly way.” I look seductively at her, and she smiles, and folds back into my arms. We stretch out on the couch and watch the fire. We sip wine.

“Do you remember why you fell in love with me? Is it the same reason that you’re back? That you rented us this wonderful house in Malibu?” I whisper in Tina’s ear as she settles across my chest.

“Honestly, the main reason I asked you to come here? I think Jodie is a little crazy, Bette. I didn’t want to worry the minute I got into bed with you that she wouldn’t show up, and beat on the door, or stalk us in the garden over the weekend.”

“And fucking Jenny with her ear always out the window.”

“This is going to sound so LA creepy that you have to promise me you won’t blast off and hit the ceiling.”

“I can’t think what would rile me from my near love coma with you but try, I guess.” I laugh and kiss the top of her head. I pop a red grape into my mouth.

“We should hire a media strategist to announce our getting back together.” Tina says seriously.

“A fucking media strategist? We aren’t famous!” I vent. “I never have understood why people are so obsessed with us.”

“Bette, your hot oil wrestling clip on YouTube?”

“Oh God.”

“Before Joyce’s people finally got it blocked? In the two days it was live it had forty thousand hits – something insane like that.”

I groan.

“And Jodie’s podcast with Alice?” Tina reminds me.

“No! It, too?”

“You’re great looking, Babe. Women were all over you, weren’t they when you were single? Me? I could hardly get a date.”

“That I never understood. But really that little freak director with the hat? You were wasting your time, Tina. She was an idiot.” I add flatly.

“And Jenny’s script.”

“What about Jenny’s script?” I roll off the couch to put another log on the fire. “Or should I ask, what else has our personal, Dark Tormentress done?”

“Jenny has written a scene, and this is going to hurt you to remember, and I’m sorry, but it ties into the other thing I want to talk to you about.” Tina says from the couch.

“I’m going to start dinner. Keep going.” I walk into the kitchen and begin by flipping on the oven and prepping a skillet to saute the shallots.

“We need to trust each other. We need to quit lying to each other.” Tina’s tone is firm as she locks eyes with mine.

“Tina, I know lying is terrible. I hear myself do it all the time. But I agree between us,” I look back at her on the couch, “we should always tell each other the truth.”

“Bette, we have to.” Tina exhales emphatically. “Babe, if we believe we are strong enough to move forward, and have a family together then, we have to believe that our relationship can take the truth. If not, we shouldn’t do this. It’s just an affair.”

“That’s not what I want with you, Tina.” I lean against the counter and look at her, “Years ago, I did things to protect you. Lied. Kept things from you, but you’ve changed. Your naiveté, it’s gone. And that’s fine. You’ve grown up.”

“I found a picture of us the other day. It was between the pages of a book I was reading. I know what you mean.” Tina says wistfully from the couch. “I was very young back then.”

Tina_and_BetteGallery

“And very lovely, too. But Tina? A media strategist?”

“Bette, the movie starts shooting on Monday. They’ll be media buzz. Trust me. What if Jodie decides to get with Alice this weekend, and uses her unwittingly for a little revenge against you? I can’t imagine she’s very happy with you right about now.”

“Forty thousand hits? Goddammit! Who the fuck was there that day to shoot that? For the love of God! Hot oil wrestling! I paid so much money to get that video off the internet.” I splash tap water on my face to wash away the nightmare. “Joyce thought it was a fucking scream. I got over two hundred emails from women.” I shake my head sadly.

“I’ll pay for this weekend. Really, all along I have intended that this be my treat.”

“I accept. Trust me. I appreciate it. And we have some hefty tuition bill coming up soon, too, right?” I ask as I begin to prepare the salmon.

“An eight thousand dollar deposit. Yikes, I know.”

“God! Can we afford another child? Really!”

“We’re okay. I’m making lots of money. You’re fine. Yes, we can afford another baby.” Tina assures me.

“I really want one.” I look over at Tina, and give her a huge smile.

“Me, too. Right after the movie is finished in a month or two we can start planning.”

 

salmon

Dinner table – Bette

“Bette, this salmon is delicious. I’m very impressed.”

“I’m telling you, T, you are coming back at the right time. I’m much better – all around.” I accentuate.

“I can see that.” Tina smiles across the table at me.

“I was staring at the ceiling the other night thinking about you. I was alone up at Big Bear. Jodie was downstairs doing shots, or some shit with her friends, anyway, I was missing you terribly. And I thought of how I used to come home after work, and toss my briefcase down, and start yelling. Or worse charge out again after kissing you on the head, and treating you like a pet dog I’d put fresh food and water down for before I’d take off again to meet some museum director, or put out a fire somewhere.”

“I remember. I grew to resent it. But you know what?”

“No, wait! Really let me finish. That’s not who I am anymore. I will never do that to you again. You are the most important thing in my world. You and our daughter. But tonight, right now, I’m talking about you being the most important person in my world. I know that now.”

Tina leans slightly across the table, and threads her fingers through mine. She puts my hand up to her cheek. “You know what? I signed up for being with a person who thinks the world rotates around them, and bursts into a room like a comet.” She plays with my long curls as she speaks softly to me. “You think I want boring? I went there. It was very homogenized. I woke up and ran back to you.”

Bette_Headshot_redstraps

“Well, it’s true I haven’t had a lobotomy, but I’ve re-calibrated somewhat, and especially there. I love you, and I know what you mean to me.”

Tina kisses my palm.

“And you were going to tell me about Jenny’s script?” I ask her.

“There was an argument we had when I told you that Henry and I were thinking of starting a family.”

I wipe my hands on my napkin, and look at Tina. “And you said you weren’t going to let me adopt Angelica.” I feel a mixture of fear edging around me, and the sizzle of anger flashing up my neck.

“There were a lot of explosions that happened that afternoon around the subject of me, and men, and family, and what my plans were with Henry.”

“Tina, that shit with Henry, and the bitter taste that it left was so negating of everything that we were after years and years of being together.” I stare at her, and can’t keep the emotion from my voice.

“Goddammit, I felt you cut my heart out,” I press my hands against my chest and look at her entreatingly, “and that some how you were buying into the whole line that Gay People Can’t Be Parents. It truly freaked me out.”

“Well, Jenny’s story is that Bev and Nina after years together suddenly fall apart because of the plumber. Nina secretly hides her pregnancy, has an affair with an heiress, dumps her and then you again. Then she goes off with a man, Harry, and then throws everything in Bev’s face.” Tina pauses, and rubs her hand across her forehead, “And this is the new part  that wasn’t in the New Yorker serialized editions – that she’s going to marry him, and take away Bev’s rights to their child because Nina realizes she’s not gay.”

“God, I fucking hate Jenny’s movie. And I swear to God, I hated my fucking life back then.” I exhale bitterly.

“The actress, Isabella, who plays Bev, she doesn’t have your range – trust me – but the line when I hear is you shouting, “Have you just been fucking brainwashed, Tina? How could you do this? Did nothing about the last eight years between us mean anything? Anything at all?”

“Baby, you have to answer that right now for me. You want a promise about lying. I raise my hand up and promise it to you. But you please, you have to look at me and tell me for the love of God, Tina, are you back? Are you in love with me? Is a family? Is a whole life with me what you want?”

 

Kiss_silhouette

“Yes, and I want you right now.” Tina says as she lifts off her sweater, and throws it on the couch a few feet away. I lift her up in my arms and we waltz backwards to the fireside and lie down on a bear skin rug. I unbuckle her pants and pull them free. They disappear somewhere over my shoulder. She pulls my shirt over my head, and unzips my pants. I feel her find me immediately and we kiss deeply.

“Take them off.” She says as she unclasps my brassiere. “I want you right now.”

“I hear you!” I lean back and wiggle out of my clothes and lie back on top of her. “Better?”

“You’re very warm on top of me, and the fire feels so good.”

“Kiss me, Tina and listen to how loud the surf has become.” Our lips meet, and Tina slides my leg between hers, and bites my tongue a little at the end of our kiss.

“Baby, take care of me tonight. This is where I want you to do that for me.”

“I will, I want to.” I move inside her as we kiss some more.

“Bette, I’ve felt you in me all morning, and then all afternoon after I booked this beach house. I’ve wanted you for hours.”

“I know how you get, baby.” I take her in my mouth, and she runs her hands through my hair, and holds the back of my neck pressing me to her.

“It’s not just that you’re a good lover, you are. Or how beautiful you are, and sometimes how you go off and act crazy.”

I lift up from making love to her, “Baby, I can’t really talk right now, but I’m going to need your attention in a minute, and if you don’t give it to me, I’m going to take it.”

“You should take it. And yes, to all your questions. I want only you, and only our family, and only us.” She lies back and sighs as her hands pull through my hair.

“Tina, last night when we were making love after the club and I had that strange feeling in my chest.” I lie on top of her and we move together in a steady rhythm as we slowly make love.

She rubs her hand down the muscles of my back, and begins to scratch me slowly just below my waist.

“It’s back but it’s not scaring me tonight.” I whisper in her ear.

“Good, because you’ve carried me right up to the edge.”

“I just do know how to do that, don’t I?”

“Flawlessly,” Tina whispers and then rolls our lips together.

“Here touch me, I need you, too.”

We lie in front of the fire and race each other along the edges, and then pull away.

“It’s my heart bursting, that’s what it feels like. Baby, God, I want you to marry me. Do you want to marry me?”

“Jesus! Bette! You’re proposing on the edge of an orgasm?”

“Here, let’s see? Am I?” I put my hand behind her head and lift her into my lap.”

Tina_passion_sitting on Top

“I really like fucking you this way. I like the way your thighs begin to shake when you can’t stop waiting anymore.” I bury my head in her neck as we make love. “Tina, I want babies, and trust with you, and a home. And I want to take care of you, and I want to stop, and slow down.”

“Baby, don’t stop now.” Tina cries softly into my ear.

“Sorry, I misspoke. I’ve got you. You feel it.”

“I definitely feel it.”

“Please marry me. It’s you I want for the rest of my life.”

Bette_Kiss_goldtoned Bette_Tina CU golden toned KISS

“I will. Please let us go.”

“Not yet. I bought your engagement ring this afternoon.”

“An engagement ring? You’re not serious.”

“Where are my pants?”

“Christ! Behind me I think.” Tina kisses me. “Bette, I’m this close.”

“I’ve seen you multitask. Lean back and open my pocket. There’s a box inside for you.” I smile as Tina wraps her legs around my waist and leans back for the jewelry box.

“Cartier? No, you didn’t!”

“I know you love Tiffany. But this didn’t feel like a little blue box moment. I wanted something deep and red and …” Tina opens up the box, and sees her ring.

CU Cartier

 

“You can’t be serious.” Her eyes open wide in amazement as she puts the ring on her finger. It catches the fire light and flashes.

“I will never, ever take this off.”

“Put your hand on my heart. Do you feel how strange it’s beating?”

Tina puts her hand with her ring over my heart, and kisses me deeply. “Your heart feels just like mine. Exploding.”

I take her in my arms, and in a moment we connect again. Through the west-facing windows I hear the beating ocean surf, and on my skin her breath coming harder and harder against my neck. My own heart, mixed with the sound of the rising tide, is loud and pounding in my ears. Inside her I focus on that one place I know she’s waiting for – that last pulse and ring of fire we always do together that pushes us over the edge.

“There’s only us.” I whisper to her as we let go in each other’s arms.

_________________

Click here for the L Word inspired Season 7 book’s first chapter, _Touch Tones: After Midnight 

“Touch Tones’s” chapter one picks up an hour after this story, “Malibu’s” conclusion. “After Midnight” begins as the couple begins to envision their life together post engagement. Tina senses trouble ahead as the film, Les Girls, begins production and Jenny’s vindictive and unpredictable nature lurks.

Writers love comments. Drop one if you are so inclined.

Blackbird

 


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Spell On You – Tina Kennard L Word

Tarot_PrincessofDicks

Gypsy’s House – Tina

Alone in the Gypsy’s guestroom bath I look in the mirror at the welt on my forehead. It’s about the size of my thumb, and very red. God, I had pushed those memories about my sister so far down, and yet, the Gypsy had plucked them out from me immediately.

I moisten my hands and tap around my face, and catch the edgy expression in my eyes.  An old sadness rises up inside me. Given air and brought into the light, after all these years my memories of those nights are going to take some getting used to.

I lean closer into the mirror and examine my lump. There’s nothing to be done to cover it up. If anyone asks I’ll think of something.

In some form or another – throughout my entire reading – Bette was either nuanced, which is hardly like her, or straight up as a woman bearing a sword, or in her case, a Bowie knife. She was everywhere, but in my area of work, and even there the chances were high she’d attempt to influence me with Jenny’s movie’s, so close to production on the horizon.

Then the Gypsy had turned over the last card.

TheChariot

The Chariot

I’d stared down at the circular ring of images that no longer appeared random to me. The symbolic part of my mind that holds their cipher had begun to understand.

”Hmm, this card complicates things.” The Gypsy taps as she’d studied it.

”What do you see?”

She hands me The Chariot card with the charging horses. ”When this appears, if you don’t make a decision fast, someone else makes it for you.”

”Who? Is this a warning about the movie I’m making?” I ask warily.

”No, this is someone close to your home. She may want to wait for you, but staying in stasis while you make up your mind puts her in opposition to her basic nature. She’s driven.  Towards something or someone new. Her nature is restless – whether she likes it or not.”

”Oh, she likes it plenty.” And we share a laugh.

”Who’s she seeing romantically these days?”

This question I realize I have no answer for – at some point there will be someone.


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The Thirteenth Floor – Bette Porter The L Word

 

Bette_TankTop,EyesClosed.Thinking

The Thirteenth Floor

 

Bette’s Bedroom

It takes logic to survive. I’m convinced of that. The world is far too complicated a place to make it solely on my tongue’s instincts, my good looks or my innate luck. The vital middle ground is reason, logic, valid conclusions reached by deduction or inductive arguments. That is now my proving ground because far to the right of me and off to the left I’m noticing truths unraveling when examined.

Take my life, for example. A perfect subject apparently for the mentally impaired freak of a fuck of a neighbor of mine, Jenny Schecter. I suppose if I were to drop LSD right this minute and read Jenny’s book chapters again perhaps I could freakishly associate with some part her fallacious depictions of me. Maybe while tripping my brains out I laugh at the misery and disquietude of the couple, Bev and Nina, and think it’s hilarious everyone knows it’s me and Tina that Jenny’s spoofing.

I look down at Jenny’s book in my lap. I sip red wine and think. I don’t need to remember every detail of Aristotle’s thirteen sophistical refutations to have my own very long list of logical proofs and critiques of Jenny’s tortured logic. What I read tonight is a lunatic’s mangled ravings. Jenny’s not mine. Or fucking Bev’s or Tina, who comes across completely unfuckable. Another proof that everything in this book is utter bullshit! Because believe me, Jenny. That is not the case and you’re an idiot if you think so.

I push Tina out of my mind but quickly she comes back. I should call her before I go next door and kill Jenny. But then it might appear Tina was my co-conspirator. I put the phone down and glare at Les Girls. I feel fucked and I never saw it coming.

Aristotle’s Thirteen. A number that makes me wary. Something about it has always felt fucking spooky to me. I can’t explain it anymore than I can explain what makes lightning bugs glow green, or why burnt marshmallows with chocolate washed down by beer or tequila is actually delicious. But thirteen, the number has always looked mean to me in elevators and with relief  I’ve always sailed past that floor. I’ve caught myself imagining how the rooms in there would feel cloying, the air too dangerous to even breath.

I shake my head. My whole life I’ve avoided the thirteenth floor of every building. Until now! I am so fucking mad the more I think about it! I see it in stark detail: Inside the interior of my Thirteenth Floor sits the insane, Jenny Schecter, a pen and paper in her hand.

Jenny Best White backgrdI throw off the covers and pace down the hallway in my pajamas. I glare at the house next door because like a fucking idiot I leave my curtains open. I snatch at the cords and down they go. Privacy. It’s a privilege and without it I’ll pay a price. One by one I lower all the curtains in my rooms and walk out to the garden by the pool. I hear a faint strain of music coming from Jenny’s house. It’s mostly dark over there. Likely no one’s home. But who am I kidding? Jenny the Bat could well be hanging from the rafters in her attic already back and roosting for the night. I should go over there. What fucking time is it anyway? Nine o’clock. Kit stays sober on the nights I let her keep Angelica. I call her quickly to make sure.

Back inside I put on my jogging pants and sweatshirt. I open my gym bag and take out my boxing gloves. I think about how to sneak up on Jenny as she comes home. I close the door behind me and begin to lace up and velcro at my wrists. I punch the air a few times to get a rhythm. Pow! Pow! Pow pow!

I run down the street to think. After this block I’ll circle back and do a recon of her side of the house. That’s easy I know just the spot in that neighbor’s driveway to get a peek. I run past a party that has spilled out onto a porch. The evening’s cool and beginning to take on a chill. I run up the next hill faster and faster. The chapter on our relationship tearing apart eats at my breath.  My side catches in pain. I break into a sweat. Bev’s version of why she slept with the plumber! So insulting, so unfathomable. I punch again and again at the air. My side spasms horribly. Good! I like it. Stab me again and again. Goddamnit! That hurts like hell. Pow! Pow! Pow pow!

“God!” I cry out in agony. I must slow my pace. I begin to pant and hold my side. “For the fucking record, Jenny after I knock you unconscious and while I consider how to fuck you up further I’ll tell you why I slept with Candace.”

I duck into the bushes that line our neighbor’s driveway. I slow my breath to control my movements and thoughts. I look through the fence gaps into Jenny’s windows. She’s stretched out on her bed painting her toe nails. There’s a plaintive jazz tune coming through her windows. I watch her apply a blue nail polish. So odd to me that people now paint themselves these unearthly and death like colors. Trust me. On the day they find me dead is the day my nails look blue.

I put my gloves against the top of the fence and get my footing on the boards to push against it. In a hoarse whisper as I climb, “First, you superficial dilettante as you wallow in faddish bad taste, try to imagine this: A night of darkness that won’t end.”

My feet hit the ground in her backyard. I creep below her windows. Any tiny rustles I make are covered by the baleful tunes that float by around me. I watch her from the shadows. Her dark hair stark against the white sheets, her creamy skin, pink and soft. No match. I unlace my boxing gloves with my teeth, biting at the laces, one by one.

“Imagine your lover inconsolable, Jenny. Not weeping and then drying her tears, but never stopping for hours. You don’t have the depth to feel what that was like. Our loss.” I feel my hatred spit out the words in an icy whisper. I throw one boxing glove to the ground by the bushes. I pull at the laces of my other glove with my teeth.

“I felt all of it from her. It beat against me all night long, Jenny,” I pull the final laces free. I spit out threads of cotton.

“I needed to feel her fists against me like that. Her cries in my ears! Can you understand that? No!” I throw my last glove onto the ground. It lies in the dust. Its laces completely undone.

“Then Tina stopped, Jenny. That’s what you should’ve written. Tina stopped and against my neck I felt her final ragged sigh for us. Not just her! But for us. And I prayed to a God I don’t believe really listens. But I begged and bartered with him anyway.”

I lift into the tree branches outside her bedroom window. I pull my hood over my head and settle into my camouflage in the dark. I need to think through how to hurt you, Jenny.

I hear Shane and her brother, Shay before I see them. In a moment they step onto the back porch about twenty feet from my tree perch. Shane unlocks the door and then comes back outside with a beer and a smoke. She seems to have worries these days. So unlike her.

Was it the right choice? Was it the right choice to never let you see my need to unravel -even for a moment? But for the love of God! How could I? I watched you submerge and float away from me, T.  It felt so done by then.

I look through the leaves over to my pool. It glows blue in the darkness. We love and we drown over there, I suppose. Looking back on it now, I would. I would do it all differently. I would change everything if I could. I have no fucking sense sometimes and it worries the fuck out of me. I should’ve taken my mask off and let you see my pain.

I drop down into the yard and Shane startles but laughs when she sees me. I pick up my boxing gloves and pat them to knock off the dirt.

“Out for a run. Decided to do some chin ups in your tree.”

“Sure, Man. Have at it.” Shane motions to me, “You want to come in? How about a beer?”

“No, I need some water, actually, and then a bath.” I tie the gloves’ laces so they fall over my shoulder. “But thanks. Yeah. I’ll see you soon, though.” I walk down the drive toward my gate. “Shane, do you keep a spare key outside for Shay? A good hiding place so he can come and go?”

“Yeah, his idea.” Shane shows me where inside a carved wooden horse head is the place she hides the spare key.

Bette’s House – 9:30 pm

As I walk into my bedroom I take long swallows from a cool glass of water. My phone alerts me to a text. Christ! How many since I went to run? Jesus! I scroll through them to catch their headlines. Some are stupid but mostly funny comments from East Coast friends encouraging me to hurry up and find a new girlfriend before the book takes off. Theory being: You can always explain how it’s all bullshit later.

I think of how that could even be possible? To be amusing, to answer all their questions, and then undress them and hope the conversations about Tina are over. I delete as I read. Nothing comes close to bringing me any real levity. Then the last three catch my eye. Phone numbers I don’t recognize. I click on the full messages. One after another I see interview requests for my comment on the upcoming movie feature of Les Girls. A book by Jenny Schecter and the movie produced by Shaolin Studios and Tina Kennard. Maybe Tina and I could do our interviews together, a reporter wonders?

Goddammit! I pick up my phone to call her. The book back in my lap. My anger returns in force. I snap the pages through the chapters of my destruction. My side catches again with a fiery spasm. If you’d listen I’d tell you what I should’ve said years ago. If he ever saw a tear on my face after my mother left, Tina…

My chin falls to my chest.  It took a monster like Faye Buckley to drag one out of me. And fuck yes! The rest was madness and it should have been your arms and your passion I turned to. But like my tears, I was never able to find it.

Goddammit! I press in her number. She answers.

“Tina, I’m reading Les Girls. Just tell me. What the fuck?” I demand.

“What the fuck, what exactly, Bette?”

“I guess your studio publicist is fielding all your interview requests so you haven’t seen them?”

“No, I’ve been away from my phone.”

“I see.” My eyes fly up to the ceiling. I control my tone. This is not her fault.

“Well, our identities are in the wind. I’m getting media requests for interviews.” I say with a calmness I don’t feel.

“Just say, No Comment, Bette and look I’m thinking about how to change the names and other things in the script. But we haven’t even signed her yet. This really is a false leak about me doing Jenny’s movie.” Tina says.

“But you might?” I press her.

“Yes, I fucking might, but I certainly don’t want to!” I hear Tina getting exasperated.

“God! How does she know some of this shit about us? Are there microphones in here?” I get up from the bed and begin to pace around the room.

“Gossip? I don’t know. Alice’s big mouth? Tanya’s maybe when she was around with Dana?”

“Did you even know she was writing a book? This is all out of the blue for me. I hate being blindsided.”

“I know you do. You hate it worse than anyone.” Tina says softly to me. I miss her so much sometimes.

“I want to kill her worse than Henry and in a different way. I’m thinking with my bare hands.”

Tina laughs at me, “Bette don’t go over there. Watch a movie or something. Put the book away for Christ sake!”

“Tina, before you hang up.”

“Yes. But I wasn’t hanging up.”

“Okay. Look, Tina, sometime okay let’s talk about all this – about what Jenny wrote.” I hear paper rustling over the phone on Tina’s end.

“I was looking at the watercolors you did of me and Angie about an hour ago. They’re so beautiful.”

I take my eyes down from the ceiling and try to catch the meaning and tone of her voice for replay later.

“Those were sweet times.” I say.

“You should paint again, Bette, you’re very good at it.”

“Maybe one day when you’re here with Angelica, swimming or something. I’ll see.”

“Okay. We’ll talk about Jenny’s book then.” Tina says.

I feel myself smile. “Thanks. Good. Okay, T, then goodnight.”

“Get some rest. Please tell Kit I love her for me.”

“I can’t even go there but I’ll tell her. Bye.”

TinaEXTclose up

Tina’s Apartment

I settle back in my bed with a cup of camomile tea.

“Those were sweet times.” She says over the phone.

I look at her paintings and put them away as we wind up our call and wish each other goodnight. All she wanted to do was stay home with me and the baby. It was a once in a lifetime experience. And Jesus! She put up with me when I was tired and so prone to flipping out. Those weren’t the sweet times she was thinking about though.

I laugh dourly at the thought. Bette’s like a lighthouse that can take a helluva beating. Maybe that’s why I wail against her so much sometimes. I admit I see her that way.

I do know how she looks at things. I know most of the quirky steps in the spiral stairs that lead up to her thoughts. But she still surprises me. The Bowie knife, her latest, that surprised me. I laugh and hope it wasn’t even close.

But she was brooding and moody I could tell on the phone tonight. She may have the imagination of a psychopath but it’s just a game with her, I think. No, it is. She has that very dark Scorpio moon an astrologer who came to one of our parties years ago told her about one night.

“Passionate in bed.” The reader had said and I had taken Bette’s hand and kissed her wrist knowingly, “Watchful and vigilant at night.” I remember my ears had perked up because I had felt this, too. “Secretive and dangerous.” And she had looked up at Bette as she had said it.

“They shouldn’t hear you coming!” Bette had looked at us for understanding.

Bette_Tina Looking Right by Pool

I remember we had walked away arm in arm out to the bar by the pool to join more of our guests. “I’ve always thought it would be fun to have my fortune told, you?” I had asked her.

“No, I think I’m okay, but you go ahead. An artist I know lives next to an old Romanian lady somewhere in Hancock Park. You should go.” She had kissed my forehead. “And have I told you enough how fabulous you look tonight?”

I had laughed at her, “Bette, I’m wearing a cotton blouse you bought me in India, it’s nice but…”

“It’s something else entirely I’m talking about.” And she had taken me in her arms and kissed me.

I turn off the light and hold one of my pillows close to my chest. You know, I never went that fortune teller. I wonder, what would that be like?

 

Entertaining you next is our next story:

23. The Pussy Club          http://wp.me/p4AUvc-4x 

Bette and Helena strike an interesting alliance and visit a strip club for a lap dance after Phyllis’ party and Helena’s disastrous catering fiasco. Amusing, how they play each other.

Drop a comment if you enjoyed the story.

 

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A Date With Myself

Tina_Aaron_ movie studio

A Date with Myself – Tina Kennard L Word

Shaolin Studios – Tina – 8 AM

Today is script day and my whole morning is blocked off to read Jenny’s book chapters for any possibility her Les Girls could adapt to a movie. It’s one thing that Aaron wants me to option it and sure, I’ll get Jenny an agent and they can call me and I’ll say the same thing I say to any first time author: Here’s our deal. Think about it and let me know if you want to sign a one-year contract with an option to renew.

But aside from all the boilerplate here’s our deal take it or leave it stuff, I still need to know if Jenny’s story can play On Screen. Another job I have that Aaron keeps neglecting to mention. I’m Head of Development and I’m also Director of Creative. It irritates me he does this, drops one of my executive titles when introducing me. Even though it’s not personal it’s irritating and demeaning. His vision simply stops a foot out from his face. He’s focused but myopic. and today as Studio Chief he’s told me he wants my read on Jenny’s project by three o’clock. Admittedly, I’m curious.

As I open the door to my office, in my arms is a fully in bloom tiger’s eye yellow speckled orchid. For hours each day, soft northeastern light comes through my office window. This will be a spot of beauty and I can look at it and feel good. At least that’s my hope.

I’d passed this particular gangly looking orchid a few times at the market last week. Even thought of it later when I was back at my apartment. It was then that I had wished for something alive and beautiful and unexpected to be there with me. And another awareness I don’t ever recall feeling quite so deeply: Why do little things now seem so big?

Magnification.

Part of my problem these past few weeks is that I’m awake far too early every single fucking morning. I find at 5 AM my rooms are too still, and if Angelica’s at Bette’s overnight it’s impossible for me to fall back asleep. An hour passes and by 6 AM my mind has travelled into every room and inside all my closets, even my refrigerator and found them all far too singular in emptiness.

Tina_Sheets_in bed CU

When Angie’s gone, I’ve wondered what they do together on the nights that Bette has her. What we do is talk about Mama B playing the game with us, or how Bette reads that funny part of the children’s book when it’s time for the friendly ghost to pop out and say, “Boo!” Apparently Bette does this part far better than I do, so I’m trying to learn.

Lately, we’ve been calling Bette before bedtime, and the times she’s not been home I’ve been tempted to open up her Outlook calendar to see where she is. I know her password. It’s my birthday.

It would have occurred to her, of course to change her password. But where she keeps her spare house and car keys, her thousand dollars of just in case earthquake money, is likely just the way it was. In all those ways she still trusts me.

Other things have come to me to while lying alone hour after hour every morning. I’m finally getting an inkling of what her long stares at the ceiling must be like. I’ve been logging hours and hours of these myself lately. She was always our worrier. Now both of us are, I suspect.

After making love or when she’s fed up with an annoying editorial in the paper are the times I can always count on her eyes heading for the ceiling to dream or wonder about something that’s bothering her. It gave me a lot freedom to nestle against her with my own undisturbed thoughts. Once entranced, Bette would lie nearly still until the “Eureka!” moment hit her, or I stirred her to pay attention to me again. It was a rhythm she had and thinking things through far up in the air was what she did and it never bothered me at all. It’s my thoughts when I’m alone now that I really don’t like.

Noon

I have two words for this story of Jenny’s: Fuck You. Now, for the remaining thoughts: Cultural upheaval if this ever gets made, and Bette’s going to blow a fucking gasket. I can’t believe I told her where to find a copy of Jenny’s book. I’m such a fucking idiot.

I lock my office door and head over to the studio canteen for lunch. I don’t know if Jenny’s actually still crazy, or she just doesn’t give a flying fuck, but Nina/Tina and Bev/Bette are far too close for comfort. I can’t imagine any sane writer would rip off of her neighbor’s lives and then barely disguise their names. And now the fucking thing is on my desk to make it for a worldwide audience? In what universe does this happen? What other studio executive is ever offered a movie deal to turn their most intimate private moments, their worst most degrading and fucking awful behaviors, into a movie? Me!

Unbelievable.

Aaron’s going to want me to make this deal, and he’s probably right. The story has potential, but it could also die on the shelf. It all comes down to who gets attached, another one of my jobs.

Let’s say the remarkable happens – a great looking star appears, and suddenly we have an A List actor to play one of the lesbians. A real leap right there! It’s a tricky, tricky acting role. If the director is bad, you as an actor are screwed. When dailies come back, and it’s clear a director is bombing then budgets get slashed and any artistry you brought to your sex scenes gets lost in the budget slashed editing.

They’re two ways the film editing can go if the studio decides to cut it fast and get it out the door. For an actor, your sex scenes get cut so they’re pornographic and then, it’s straight to a NC 17 DVD. A star doesn’t want that and a producer doesn’t want that, so, I’ll dream the fantastic. Let’s say this goes into production, and depending on what kind of influence I can keep over the creative, I may be able to scramble the names and places around where no one is the wiser, and the story never points to me.

Except Jenny will know.

Chances are once her agents see what a maniac she is they’ll drop her if she doesn’t go along and cooperate with me, and the Studio. That will leave her broke, and flopping like a fish. Then, I scoop her up, dry her tears and Bev and Nina become Carol and Suzanne for all I care. Just anything except me and Bette as Bev and Nina. Anything.

On second thought, if Les Girls takes two or three turns for the worse once it gets underway then of course Bette will have to kill her. There‘s no way she’s going to take all this exposure, and creepy personal invasiveness lying down. In other words, the ceiling will not be consulted in one of her long pensive stares. She’ll just beat Jenny’s door down, and then it’s anyone’s guess what happens next.

I smile to myself at the thought. I’m certain I can find the stomach to do to some forceful underhanded maneuvering on my own with Jenny. Given the blowback and consequences, I don’t see any other options. None of this will be easy, but maybe it is time for a great lesbian themed movie – just not starring an ersatz of me at my worst moments.

At the backlot canteen I order my lunch. “I’ll take the lamb and rice with vegetables. Thank you.” I swipe my studio credit card and take my number over to the tables in the shade. There are two types of people in Los Angeles. The Sun People who sit and stand in it no matter how direct or devoid of any ozone to keep it from baking flesh into cancer, and those of us who like the shade, but still sit with our sunglasses on. Because sunglasses are LA and that’s just a given.

After lunch I head back to my office to write up my Les Girls development ideas for Aaron. God, I wonder if the Yoga studio has a break between 1 and 1:30? Would they let me take a quick power nap on one of their mats? I’m so drowsy from lack of sleep, and a belly full of rice and lamb I could easily doze off right now.

I do miss sleeping well. Angie’s gone at Bette’s again tonight, and I wish sometimes she would ask me to be with them. Maybe I should ask her? I don’t know anymore. Are we waiting for something to happen that makes the air around us clean and clear again? Or are we just waiting for all the mines to go off and come to an agreement to not plant anymore? I don’t know. We’ve become like every other couple on the edge of destruction – wary, more self aware, but each more doubtful, and easily spooked. I could see it in her eyes – as Henry disappeared in her rear view mirror – the jealous burning anger she once had is now behind her, and fading fast.

Why that bothers me is no doubt pathetic.

A hundred years ago I could’ve imagined her seizing any number of violent solutions to getting rid of Henry, or Helena for that matter. In my imaginary high camp film version, I see Bette as the cross dressing intellectual, but spiteful, George Sand, appearing in a long dark duster coat on the main street of Tombstone. Darkly motivated, she waits under the bell tower, her pistols shiny and loaded for Henry. I smile at the thought. Then, Aaron interrupts my reverie.

Tina_dragonBlackBlouse

Tina’s Apartment – 9 pm

I’ve never lived in a cleaner place in my life. With all my close friend’s lives in their odd orbits, Shane spending time with her brother doing kid things; Alice obsessed with a curious character named, Papi; Kit inconsolable over Angus’ infidelity, and Helena prepping for a catering job – I’m alone during another evening. There are no more floors to vacuum and scrub, or laundry to fold.

My long night looming ahead of me, so, what now? I’ve never been this way, fidgety, bored, and lonely. I pour a glass of wine and remember I have the watercolors Bette painted of me and Angelica. No one comes here very much. Certainly just close friends. Perhaps I can put the watercolors on my wall. I slip them out of their folder. They are so beautiful.

Oh, this is one I hadn’t seen before. How did I miss the one of me lying half asleep, my breast slipped out my blouse to nurse? Bette did love that with me.

I lean back in the chair and unzip my jeans. Surely I can go there and give myself some relief and then another glass of wine and hopefully sleep tonight. I look down at the painting. It was exquisite the feeling – her sucking my milk. I remember her tongue as she coaxed it out of me. I lick my fingers and find myself. I take a long sip of wine. I feel it warm around my tongue. I remember hers circling me and circling me. I feel myself growing wet at the fantasy.

I close my eyes and image Bette’s tongue licking my breasts to flow more milk to her lips. Her fingers are my fingers circling and pressing against me, arousing me to make love with her.

This is good. I can work with this.

I look at the painting in my lap of how she imagined me back then: Sensual, sometimes waiting on her, wanting her mouth on my breasts – hungry. There was no question her sucking my milk while fucking me was mind altering – and confusing – but so, so ancient a feeling, too. We were swept away by it sometimes. I feel it almost like a color of light, and then very clearly now I can recall – the sounds of us together, and me wanting her. I moan softly and sigh, as I begin to feel better and no longer alone.

When her suckling from me first began, I was sleepy with breastfeeding hormones. I knew she wanted more of me but taking her to my breast was erotic for us, and certainly was easier on me. I was so exhausted back then, and lazy feeling really. Like now. I just want to lie back and feel more and more spirals of pleasure as I circle my clitoris over and over in the perfect way. I sip more wine. This is good. Better than good, a very welcome tide me over.

I take a different painting out of the envelope. This one is of the baby and me but from an angle where Bette must have sat nearly at my knees to paint me. I remember the feeling of Angelica and then Bette sucking on me. Again, I feel how at first I was so startled – even guilty about how much I wanted her to fuck me while she did it, too. Hmmm. I need to arrange some things here.

I pull my pants up and go into my bedroom with my wine and props. I undress and look in my bedside table for the vibrator Alice swore up and down that I had to buy for myself. So I did. But I have really no idea how to use it. I’m annoyed suddenly that this is what I have to do. Batteries check they’re in there right. Alice swears by this model because once turned on the skin begins to heat up. It’s true, it does. Not too creepy. Okay, I’m ready. I put the lubricant on. Inside she goes.

Back to the painting of just me as I close my eyes, I can see her waiting and panting over me. God! That animal look sometimes in her eyes. Hang on a second. This thing’s vibrating too fast, that’s not Bette. Goddammit. I don’t know how to work it!

I hit a different control button to slow it down. Alright, much better where was I? Oh yes, getting ready to get really fucked.

Bette_Tina Both Tongues

I feel her curls in my hands as she comes inside me. Always the same way, straight in as far as she wants to go, and then there for awhile before a dance a little lower. I want her tongue in my mouth. I squeeze my eyes shut to imagine it. Sometimes only part of it she gives me until I suck on it for more, and fills my mouth and I’m always surprised by it.

God, and her tongue fucks me, too. No one else does that to me and I swear to God I don’t know how she does it either. It feels like a very twisting, very curious, very fulfilling piece of muscle inside me. But how does she breathe? I never thought of that.

I move the vibrator back and forth to mimic Bette’s tongue probing inside me. Christ! Am I dripping all down into the sheets? Fuck. I don’t care. Here’s a very good spot. I rock back and forth with the vibrator. I could come if I wanted to speed things up. No, I’ve got hours before I can fall asleep.

Where do I want to be with her? When was the first time she ever did that to me? Now, I remember. It was at her friend’s vineyard in that beautiful bedroom upstairs. I’ve always wanted to go back there again.

Tina_Bette_Lovemaking

It hadn’t been late when we had said goodnight to our hosts, and climbed the stairs to “catch up on some reading and emails,” we had said as we went up to bed early. She’d undressed me immediately, and then bare herself she was on top of me. I remember how my heart and my body opened to her. We were so in love and the sex between us was still changing, as we fell deeper with more wanting to connect in every way we could.

First, her kisses on me went everywhere, before I captured her lips for a while as she slid into me and I felt her body warm and muscled press me deeper and deeper under her as she made love to me. The wine we had with dinner had softened my thoughts. They came slowly, and then left, as all I felt was her inside me and my mouth overtaken by hers.

I thought I was going to lose my control and come too early, but not with this watchful lover. Slowly she slipped her fingers out of me, and then she kissed me all down by body, until her tongue began to lick and tease me from inside.

I remember the feeling of pleasure and I remember the feeling – this can’t possibly be. She had pulled my waist up to arch my back for her. I push my vibrator deep inside me to hold the feeling of her. There’s no way to recreate the twisting inner licking that drove me fucking wild. It was that night that may have been the most intimate I’d ever felt with another lover – the ultimate of being opened, tasted, and so deeply known. I spread my legs to take myself back there.

I love her I realize. I love her still. I know I do. The pleasure is so intense. I know it’s almost over. I move my fingers faster against my clitoris. Her fingers always so perfect at knowing my speed and my pleasures and my beginnings and now… I fall back and begin to come and shudder and hold it until it begins to finally fade away.

My phone rings in the other room. The ringtone tells me it’s her calling. I rub my face and walk to the other room with my vibrator in my hands, I answer the call from Bette.

“Tina, I bought Jenny’s “Les Girls”.” I hear a page snap on the other end of the phone. “Just tell me one thing: What the fuck?”

___________

Up next – Story #22. The Thirteenth Floor        http://wp.me/p4AUvc-3Z

Bette has spooky thoughts about taking revenge on Jenny.

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Tongue Tales – Bette Porter The L Word

GRT CU Bette

 

Tongue Tales

James brought me a Caesar salad before he left for a few hours to take his mother to her doctor’s appointment. James is a dutiful son and I’d been so fucking lost without him. My office door is closed and our phones James transferred over to voice mail. I hear only a few people in the hallway. In the middle of the day I’ve noticed everything slows down in my building. I like it. A time to relax.

Every morning I realize more and more how much I enjoy coming to work here. I like the research I do at night to prepare for my lectures. I like the students for the most part. I had a long, hard talk with my tongue late last night. I believe we are in accord and have sworn off Co Eds, as cute and firm bodied as most of them are. My plan to carve out a little alone time during lunch today is a welcome repast.

The unhealed scratches on my back itch. I rub against my chair, enjoy my salad, and look over a few art journals. In particular, the reviews of Jodie Lerner’s latest work I’m interested in. She arrives soon as a new star in my art department. I want to know everything there is to know about her. I certainly would want the same courtesy.

I open the folder James prepared for me. She has a gift for placing her found objects to create an unsettling visual tension for the observer. I look more closely at a series of photographs of her welding and screwing together these massive metal works. Welding. That looks like something I would enjoy.

“Hello, Phyllis.” I snap my head from my reverie, as she marches in unannounced.

“Hello, Bette. Do you have a minute? Of course, you do. I’m the Vice Chancellor and you’re my Dean. I need to talk to you.” Phyllis settles in for what looks to be a long conversation. One I wish would happen another day, another time, another place than this one. I’m trapped.

“So, I had Lesbian Sushi with Alice.” She winks at me. I choke a little on my food. I drink a long sip of iced tea.

“Phyllis, excuse me, I thought you wanted to talk about work.”

“No, this is lunchtime, Bette. Take a break.” Phyllis insists. “You work too hard.” She nods approvingly at me. I sigh. I take another bite of my Caesar that’s beginning to lose its tangy taste.

Phyllis leans across my desk, and in a serious tone says, “Bette, I need to know everything. How do you give a woman multiple orgasms?”

I blink several times at her then, I begin to laugh. “This sexual counseling you’re after is not, absolutely NOT, in my job description.” I wave my fork at her, “We’re not having this conversation.” I flip through the pages of the Smithsonian Art Journal Quarterly.

Phyllis digs in, “Bette, this is really unkind and unexpected coming from you. I thought you’d be welcoming me into, The Sisterhood, or whatever you all call it.”

“I don’t know if we call “It” anything, Phyllis,” I dismiss her. “But I’m glad you had a good time.”

“See, I knew you’d come around. That’s just it! I did have a good time, but tonight I want to have an even better one!” Phyllis leans back in her chair and waits for my directions on how to pull off multiple orgasms. I should tell her it’s all in the jaw, but I won’t.

“Seriously? Phyllis? No. I refuse.”

She fixes me with an unnerving stare. “Listen, Bette, I don’t have anyone else to talk to and Alice told me so much about you.” Phyllis emphasizes her last few words insinuating the nature of their pillow talk.

I feel my temperature rise, a throb begins in my neck. Alice is absolutely a Kiss and Tell. She’s seen me there. Goddammit! What time is it? One fifteen. I could get across to the east side, kill Alice, and be back in time for my three o’clock Modernism lecture. I’m distracted from my plotting, when Phyllis’ voice bites through.

“Bette, quit holding out on me. Tell me how you’d give a woman multiple orgasms. I’ve never had an orgasm in my whole life that went on so long, and then started all over again.” Phyllis looks swept away suddenly by the memory. She shivers with delight. I sigh deeply, I remember this place. I stir my salad around stalling.

“Phyllis, maybe if you left for an hour and then came back, maybe in a week or two, I’d have time to think about it.”

“Bette, I don’t have weeks! I’ve got to know, now!” Phyllis insists and then sighs, “I’m seeing Alice again tonight.”

Why isn’t my phone ringing? Are all the world’s plaguing interruptions suddenly on a fucking lunch break? I shake my head, my eyes back on my salad again.

“Bette, being tongue tied is so not the way Alice describes you.” Phyllis crosses her arms satisfied. “She says you’re an expert tongue twister, and can do anything. So! Illuminate me!”

I ignore her. I’m furious with Alice. Furious with Alice!

“Bette? Why don’t you like sex toys? Alice says that’s probably the reason you two broke up.”

I pinch the bridge of my nose, and look up at the ceiling hoping for a sudden escape. There’s no emergency ladder descending. No rope dropping down from the skies that I could strangle Phyllis with and then hang myself. I squint my eyes shut as I hear pencils and pens rattle as Phyllis disturbs them on my desk. Her fidgeting I hope a prelude to her timely exit. My eyes fly open as I feel my ruler press against my hand.

“That’s it! You don’t need any. Look how long your fingers are.” She stares at me in wonderment.

I glare at her incensed and swat Phyllis and my ruler away. “Phyllis! Goddammit! How would you like it if I measured parts of you?”

“Put credit where credit is due, I always say.” Phyllis sets my ruler back into the cup. She studies my face. “Bette, don’t go all Third Wave post modern on me.”

She points to my lips and brushes against her own.

“What?” I wipe my mouth with my napkin for any salad leaves if that’s what she’s talking about.

“Just up front there, a tiny bit on your tooth.” She points at her own. I take a sip of green tea and hope that washes whatever it is away. For the love of God when is Phyllis going to leave my office?

“Nope still there. Look.” Phyllis take her tongue and sweeps it back and forth across her teeth. Like an idiot, I mimic her, and as I do she peers at me carefully.

“Just as Alice described it. Your tongue, it’s huge, isn’t it?”

“Phyllis!” I stand up and in two steps I’m holding open my door. “Go online for Christ sake! I’m sure there’s something up there. YouTube “lesbians” or something! But not in here.”

“I’m really impressed, but also astonished, Bette.” Phyllis looks me up and down. “Who knew my known universe of Higher Ed could be so lacking in sex education?”

I shut the door behind her and lean against it. Alice is dead. So, fucking dead.

I look in my compact mirror to see if there really is any salad remaining, or if that were all a ruse I fell for. I run my tongue along my teeth. It does come to a very fine point at its end, if I contract it just so.

I flop it out of my mouth and look at it in the mirror. It’s true. My tongue is uncommonly large and well muscled. I must keep it fit. With training it probably would have made me a good singer. It can create a good strong whistle, it assists me in lambasting stupid, incompetent people, and sometimes those I love. It has a discerning taste for the peculiarities and differences of olives for example, or aged cheeses and oaky wines.  And yes, it could have told Phyllis everything there is to know about a woman, but I’m not about to.

Bette_sideways look

My first teacher,  Dannika, flashes across my mind. I haven’t thought of her in years and years. In bed I had called her, Danny. It fit. She was the lover who taught me how a tongue could dance, and made me realize I was a natural. I really do like to lick. I’ve always been this way.

Some people want to look at things first. Size them up and walk around them in as tight or as wide a circle as they can. I do that, absolutely. But my first inclination is for a scent and a taste and by the time I’ve walked around a problem or a thing I’ve gotten a taste of the air and more of its whole picture. But with a lover the dance is what it’s all about for me. And that, Danny taught me, is where my tongue comes in.

I’m not overly orchestrated lover.  I roll my tongue out again for another look. It’s a big fat muscle in my mouth, isn’t it? That picks up and sends signals. I wonder how the Senator’s doing?

I put down the mirror and take a sip of tea to wet my tongue after lolling it around in the breeze. I should text her. I stare at my iPhone. A bad, a very bad idea. And what? Send her a Selfie? No, Barbara was fun. She came, she went, she came about a hundred times more and then she kissed me on the lips, closed the door to her limo, and was gone.

The long red marks the Senator left on me recently begin to itch. I scratch my back against my chair again. Kissing. Lots of kissing. That was a completely different teacher. My kissing instructor was Stephanie, a very sexy, very bossy New York girl who really, dammit, she did break my heart! That was so long ago. But she had lips that could tell spellbinding stories for hours. She’s the one who taught me “the mind takes flight” lip rolling kiss that Tina is just so fucking perfect at doing with me. My tongue twitches and wants. I give it some tea. Unsatisfying. She hasn’t called me yet today. Maybe this is how we begin to be nicer – hardly talking.

A few nights ago when she stayed ostensibly on the couch, but came to bed I suspect around midnight. I had felt my desire for her. But there was nothing to be done about it. There was no sweet rolling over into her arms and kissing to stir her to lovemaking. There wasn’t a chance in hell either of us were in the mood for a reuniting fuck. No, that night and I guess for the foreseeable future we’re Co-Moms and friends. I’ll get used to it, I guess. Just thinking about her makes me pissed off and horny. Fucking Tina.

I put my mirror and compact away. There was never any romaine lettuce, Phyllis. I look back through the art journals on my desk. As a lover I was pretty good right out of the gate. I needed some on-the-track training. I needed grooming and got it from my lusty trainers but the one who had a tongue nearly as big as mine was an Australian woman I met on a flight to Chicago. Problem was we never got there.

O’Hare’s VFR was dangerously socked in from bad weather and after a bottle of decent airplane wine and a long conversation I was grateful for I began to pick up little signals from her as our pilot announced we were making our way down to St. Louis for the night instead.

I’ve had my share of one night stands. I don’t think there’s a damn thing wrong with them and I’ll argue that point with anyone. They serve a very important purpose other than wiling away time during a layover. They get you out of your comfort zone and make you dare a little. Or a lot. And the Australian, what was her name? Damn, I’m bad with names today. Maybe I should eat more protein. Christine! That was her name. I had no idea what I was in for as we rose up in the groaning brass elevator cage to our room.  She unlocked a door to a suite, and out came her fantastic tongue.

Everyone I suppose has a best feature. It may be they have beautiful eyes. Take Liz Taylor. Hers were purple which just tells me she didn’t have a chance at being normal. It could be a fantastic smile they have that can break apart any foul mood and nearly any sadness. Or in Christine’s and mine’s case – it could be our tongues.

I’ve only had about six, maybe seven women that really didn’t like as much licking as I’m in the mood for. If there’s no clock on me and it’s a languid, lazy fuck all afternoon type of feeling ahead of me my tongue can occupy itself for hours. But Christine had showed me something very interesting. How wine can be tasted the same as a woman but better still: How to fuck with my tongue. Yeah, I miss that. Someone who annoys me a lot lately used to love it, too.

I think of how to phrase it in a text to Tina to snap her out of her insolence. The display screen remains blank. It’s impossible, indescribable what I really want. I put my phone away and snap my salad container shut. I’m even hungrier now. I hear James return back to his desk. My watch reads 2:20. My intercom beeps. I hear James’s voice. “Bette, Jodie Lerner and Tom, her interpreter, are here to see you.”

I walk around my desk and extend my hand as they walk in the door. Jodie takes my hand first. Hers is calloused and strong. Tom’s hand is next, softer. I motion for them to sit.

“Please come in. It’s so nice to meet you.” I smile genuinely at her.

“I’m Tom. Just talk directly to her. She wants to read your lips and I’ll sign.

“I nod at him and say to them both, “I understand.” I walk back toward my desk. “I was just looking at the photos of your work. I’m really looking forward to seeing what you’ll be doing here in your studio. Perhaps, I can come by soon?” I say and hear Tom repeat my words exactly.

Jodie speaks and Tom signs for her. “Come by in a few days I might have something to show you. But I warn you, I don’t like interruptions.”

My laugh is uncomfortable. Good, she can’t hear it. “I’ll do my best to temper my inquisitive nature. Will you sit down?”

“No, I need to be outside in the sun today. I’ll work tonight when the moon’s out, I think.” She looks at Tom and shrugs, “Maybe.”

“Well, okay.” I exhale at her time table’s relationship to my work day. “Thank you so much for coming by.” I sit back down at my desk. “I’ll see you later in the week then.”

Tom says, “Aren’t you coming to Chancellor Kroll’s party in a few days?” Jodie and I look at him puzzled. James scoots back from his desk and appears inside my doorway.

“Bette, the Founder’s event? The cocktail party on Thursday? It’s on your calendar.” James adds.

Jodie makes a peculiar face and shrugs her shoulders.

Both James and Tom say, “You both have to go.”

“Well, I’ll see you then, I suppose.” I walk across the room to shake her hand. Again the callouses and this time a feeling that her ring finger is crooked and once was probably broken.

Shane_Sweatshirt_talking.Alice_silohoutte

The Planet – 6:30 pm – Bette

Kit confirmed with me ten minutes ago that Alice was here having a drink with Shane. Tina is supposed to exchange Angelica with me around 7 pm and The Planet seemed like as a good neutral ground as any, plus I’ve remained hungry since lunch, and I have to murder Alice. I see her at a table showing Shane something on her phone. They laugh. Alice sees me. She waves. Like hell you will, Alice.

Alice and I have been friends for many years now. Yes, we dated for a little while. No, it wasn’t a break up over sex toys. But because of Alice’s propensities toward some really outrageous stuff it all felt silly to me. If I’d wanted something more, something more emotional with her the stuff she’d pull out of her bedside table kept me and the places I like to go at a distance. I’m not a prude. People can scramble omelets on top of each other if that’s what they want to do. Just give me an hour, hold the eggs and nipple clamps, and I’ll be fine.

“Alice.” I bear my stare down on her. “This business with Phyllis has got to stop! What on earth did you tell her about me?”

“Oh my God! She’s so inquisitive and she’ll try anything!”

“Alice, do you understand that I work with Phyllis? That she put me personally in charge of a huge responsibility? To create and fund a whole university department? A whole school within a school?”

“And it would appear you’re doing very well at it, too, Dean Porter. The Governator was here giving you an award. And so was a certain very sexy, Senator. Word has it you two have become close?”

“Bette’s single, Alice. Cut her a break.” Shane defends me.

“And Shane makes my point! I’m single, Phyllis is single. What’s the problem?” Alice brushes me off and returns to her phone and drink.

“Alice, Phyllis is not single! Her husband lives up north at Stanford.”

“Bette, he seems like a has-been husband. And for years.”

Bette_Planet Jpeg

“Goddammit! Alice that is not the fucking point. Where Leonard Kroll lives, or even if he dies tomorrow is not the point!” I shout at her and several people near us turn to look and then look away as I glare back at them to mind their own fucking business.

I lower my voice to a poisonous whisper, “Alice, listen to me and listen closely. Phyllis came into my office today and wanted sex tips on multiple orgasms. Then, when I refused she snuck up on me and measured my fingers for Christ sake!”

“Oh, that sounds bad, but I admit, kinda good for you, Alice.” Shane says. Then when I glare at her, she adds, “But maybe not so much the fucking finger measuring thing.” Shane shakes her head sadly at me.

“Over the line!” I tap my fingers on the table for Alice’s attention again. “Alice, I realize that after your spin down about Dana on the radio, after your yapping about and outing famous people here and there that you think all this is comical, and that you think you live in some kind of a “Sexual Salad Bar” world, so you feel free to dish up endless quantities of chopped up people’s lives and feed on them. But it’s a fucking sickness of yours, Alice!” I smack my hand down on the table. She jumps.

“And don’t you ever Goddamn do it to me again!”

“Okay, okay, okay! I got it, no more ‘tongue tales’ about Bette.” Alices agrees, as I groan and close my eyes in pain. Shane laughs a little. I open one eye and stare at her. She looks away and back at Alice.

Tina arrives with the baby. “What’s going on?” Tina asks confused at our odd demeanor.
Tina_Angelica_Story image

“Long day. How was yours?” I ask Tina as I take the sleepy baby.

“She had a late nap today. Sorry.” Tina hands me Bunny.

Alice brightens as a change of subject hits her. “I heard a rumor that Jenny’s book, Les Girls, is getting some attention around town. Maybe a film in development deal?”

“Wow, Jenny would love that!” Shane leans in to hear more.

“Have you read it?” Tina asks me.

“Where would I read such a thing?” I ask shocked.

“The New Yorker magazine is serializing it.” Tina answers.

“Guys. I hate to tell you, but the whole fucking thing is about us.” Alice shakes her head as she delivers the news.

 

The next chapter is titled, A Date with Myself –http://wp.me/p4AUvc-3G. Tina accustomed to a busy social life with Bette feels lonely and stressed when her friends are engaged with other pursuits and she finds herself restless as she spends another evening alone in her apartment.

Writer’s like comments. Drop one if you have a thought for me.

Laurel Holloman, Tina Kennard L Word, Jennifer Beals, Bette Porter L Word, L Word Tina Kennard Bette Porter, 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.