The L Word : Behind the Scenes

The L Word Bette Porter Tina Kennard


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Ensnared by Guilt #24

Tina serious blue shirt med shot

Day Two

Before Work – Tina

There have been days when I would’ve given any amount of money to stay in bed and delay facing the world for a little while longer.  But today, opening my eyes to its king-sized emptiness, I could not escape its sheets and pillows fast enough.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve never told Bette that when living alone in my apartment I never slept well, or how nighttime sounds when sleeping next to her feel innocent because she was there. I’ve never shared with her my out of body experience when she slipped the engagement ring on my finger.  On stage with Gloria Steinem, the crowd had cheered and my heart had taken off like a bird across the water.  Standing inches away from me she’d moved her microphone and had whispered, “Tina, we’re giving ’em Gypsy Rose Lee.  You with me?”

From the front row Shane had whistled, and from the corner of the stage Alice had wept, while a zillion pixels had captured our kiss, and we’d left them wanting more.

Tina_blackjacket_seated_looking irritated

Later that morning –

Les Girls Soundstage – Tina

Minutes after arriving on set the LAPD had appeared, and the news that Bette’s been missing for twenty-four hours has travelled fast.  As the morning wears on, and more and more sympathetic looks from the crew begin to come my way, I’m sure by now the cops have heard.  Bette and I are the real life “inspirations” for this movie.

If I did not hate Jenny as much as Bette vehemently does, I absolutely do so now.  She was in line early to give the police her version of Bev and Nina’s stormy years, their monstrous behavior toward each other, and their twisted motivations.

Shane had followed trying to paint a different picture, but setting like concrete in the minds of the LAPD is their working theory: Bette’s not abducted, not kidnapped, not a victim of foul play, but missing because she wants to be, and I’m likely the number one cause for her leaving.

“Why can’t you understand!?!” My fury mounting, my voice hoarse from arguing. “She’s not on my soundstage! She’s out there!  Somewhere!”

“People lead double lives, Miss Kennard, it happens all the time.” The detective taps the Lez Girls script in his hand by way of illustration.

“We love each other! If she were here, she’d be standing right next to me, hating the movie business. . . hating this movie in particular. . .hating. . .”

“Hating what exactly, Miss Kennard?”  Cooly, the detective studies my face.  “Isn’t it possible, you never knew her at all.”

Tina Aaron his office

The last thing in my crumbling life that I did know for certain, before rushing out of here yesterday, was that Aaron and Jenny and I had agreed on the way to shoot Bev and Nina’s child custody scene. Now, we’re debating it again.

Aaron flips through his copy of today’s script pages and says to Jenny, “The way you’ve written this I don’t care if Bev and Nina’s relationship is over.  They’re meant to foreshadow what’s ahead for Jesse, who’s totally unaware cruelty’s waiting ahead at the hands of Karina.”

Aaron searches my face. “Tina? You with me?”

“Of course.  We blocked all this out yesterday. The scene with Nina marking on Alisa’s Chart is before this, so yes, we’ve established Bev’s wayward ways, and now she’s feeling the consequences.”

Aaron snaps the pages at me.  “Consequences? Nina’s threatening to take Bev’s child away!  In this scene, Bev loses everything.”

Jenny leans over his desk and points to a page in her script. “This line from Nina, “There’s nothing left between us.” And then, Bev says, “Don’t do this! Don’t do it.””

Holding her hands up, Jenny frames the camera’s point of view. “We freeze on Bette behind their closed bedroom door.”

Aaron says, “Bev’s alone, her voice becoming more and more desperate.”

Jenny nods, he’s getting it. “Don’t do this! Don’t do it!”  The sound of Nina’s tires growing fainter and fainter – Bev knows Nina’s driving away – but she keeps calling for her to stop.”

Aaron leans back in his chair with Jenny’s script pages in his lap. “I know what’s missing,” he finally says. “Nina’s action inside the car. Does she care that she’s devastated her longtime lover? Does she have a twinge of remorse showing on her face, or does she call Hank from the car and make dinner plans?”

He looks at me. “What’d you think Nina would do?”

Saying it I can barely breathe. “She called her boyfriend.”

warehouse blight exterior

Warehouse – Tina

After driving past row after row of blighted warehouses, my driver points to Mary and her security detail searching ahead in an overgrown lot.

She joins me at the curb.  “Bette’s car was found on the other side of that building. Call me morbid, but I had to come down here.”

Looking around the bleakness I feel desperate. “But would they’ve torched her car? Then hidden her nearby?”

“Depends. Were the kidnappers in a hurry to ditch it? Maybe Bette was putting up a fight? Maybe she was unconscious? Maybe someone else stole the car after she was taken? Dumped it here.”

“Oh God! Tell me we’re we going to find her.”  Tears slide down my cheeks. “Please!  Tell me you believe it’s true!”

She presses a handkerchief into my hand.  “Of course, we are.”

“This is the ninety-ninth time today I’ve completely lost it.” I pat at my tears. “Are the police even still looking for her?  They camped out at my work all morning.  Completely the wrong direction.”

“But digging into your past isn’t wrong. You realize, someone you know did this.”

“The police, now you! It’s not my fault Bette was taken! How can you stand there and say that to me?!” I storm away.

“Tina, come back here!” Mary catches my arm, and spins me around to face her.  “Number one, there’s been no ransom demand.  Number two, their play’s been psychological.  Number three, Bette’s still alive.”

A sharp gasp escapes me. “I have to believe it!”

Mary’s hand brushes along my shoulder comforting me.  “Come on. I brought you down here for a reason.”

Maggie Q as Jake

From the shadows of a warehouse doorway a woman in black emerges. “Hello, Tina.  Joyce sent me.” Her eyes lock onto mine. “I’m Simone.  I find people.”

“Oh, thank God!” I grab her hand.

Mary peeks past us inside the warehouse. “Los Angeles, I suspect, has no shortage of these?”

“Joyce pulled the zoning records.” Simone lifts a folded envelope from her waistband. “They’re seven hundred thousand active warehouses in LA County.  Two hundred thousand dormant, but taxes paid, and sixty-one thousand the city lists as blighted and abandoned.”

My heart sinks. “That sounds like fifty square miles.”

Simone looks at me, as if I’d guessed the exact number of jelly beans inside a jar. “She’s right. Finding her that way is impossible.” Then to Mary. “But your guy at Justice traced Bette’s text. Phone belongs to Darwen Goodbee.”

“You’ve found him?” Excited, I turn to leave. “Then, let’s go.”

But as I say it, the door to the old warehouse creaks open and Mary and Simone disappear inside.

Jake questioning photographer

Warehouse Interior – Tina

Darwen Goodbee sits on the dusty floor of the warehouse chained to a column.  Being a co-conspirator in his kidnapping feels uncomfortable – for about a second – and then, I’m all in.  “We’re exchanging him for Bette?”

Our prisoner, fortyish, thin, pasty white and hooked-nose mean, Goodbee thrashes in his chains and spits at us menacingly. “You’ve got the wrong guy!”

Arms crossed over her chest, Mary scowls down at him. Simone twists his wrist in an unnatural angle.

Screaming he cries, “You’ve no idea what that painted freak would do to me!”

“Where do we find her?” Simone twists again.

Another cry of pain. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with! She’ll cut me into pieces, then fry my fingers like sausage links.”

“Oh God! Are they doing that to Bette?!” I feel the room spinning.  “I’m going to vomit.”

Mary rescues me with her arm around my waist. “Stop this! Tina, you must be strong!”

“Gimme a name!” Simone’s back to wrenching his hand from his arm. “Or I go to something that leaves scars.”  She flashes a hunting knife at him.

“Your friend. . . ” He moans in agony. “She calls her the SheBeast!”

hands bound by rope

Whereabouts Unknown – Bette

Intentional or not, the windows in my locked room have not been papered over, and it’s late afternoon on my second sunny day with these assholes, who’ve fed me one meal of Mexican take out, and kept me constantly thirsty.

The piss bucket in the corner, always a rare pleasure, is empty, and the regular beatings before my photograph was taken have stopped, but my views on capital punishment have changed. I’m now for it.

With time on my hands, and hating every minute of it, I’ve developed a rotation.  On the count of three I grit my teeth and struggle to loosen the knots, until I can’t take the pain anymore. My count is at four thousand, four hundred and seventy-four, and I’m obsessed with how many more times can I stand it. My goal is ten thousand, or less, and getting free.

One, two, three. . .

Absolute agony! “Fucking Goddamn motherfuckers!” I thrash in my chair, because it’s not going well.

SheBeast tattooed woman

The door’s kicked open and The SheBeast enters.

“Good! Untie me, and I’ll be home by dinner.”

“There’s no news concerning you, so get comfortable.”

“Comfortable?” I struggle against my ropes. “Tina doesn’t tie me up.  I don’t tie her up.  It’s an agreement we have.”

“I’m not getting kinky with you today, if that’s what you’re offering.”

“Oh! Good one! But I can’t figure you out.  Sadist? You fucking act like one.  But maybe, masochist. . .with all the spikes and metal punched in your face.”

Her breath’s bad, as she leans in closer to examine what I know must be a black and blue slit.  “Can you even see outa that eye?”

“How ’bout you chew on a fucking breath mint, and bring me some goddamn water?” When suddenly – off come my cowboy boots!  “Goddammit!”  I kick at her. “Goddammit! Gimme those back!”

She unties my hands.  “You’ve been waiting for a go at me. Come on!”

Throwing my bindings to the floor I charge at her.

My first two punches she blocks, but my third connects with the metal rings above her brow. Blood pours into her eye, as the rings rip away.  She knocks me backwards with a punch, and crashing into the table, I roll before she swings at me again.

Ducking her left hook, my fists raised in front of me, my knuckles bleeding, I hardly feel a thing.

We circle each other and the room spins by behind her. The chair I’ve been tied to for days. The piss bucket in the corner. The SheBeast in front of me, a deep feral growl fills the space between us. A patch of sweat slicks down my back. The wild mean sound I realize. . . is coming from me.

My fist slams into her nose, it gives.  Snap!

I swing again, but miss.

Raising her hands her fingers are claws.  Her lips roll back in an unearthly bark.  Her teeth sharp like fangs. She pounces!

One hour later –

Faye Dunaway

Faye Dunaway’s Taping – 6 o’clock – Tina

Rushing out of the elevator I collide with Alice in the lobby of the PBS studio.  “Alice! God!  The freeway was a nightmare!”

She grabs me for a frantic hug. “I haven’t found Bette or Faye – yet.”

Simone pulls Mary aside. “In Chinatown, the part when Nicholson keeps slapping her — she’s my daughter, my sister, my daughter. . .”

Startled, Alice interrupts, “You brought a movie fan? Are you fucking kidding me?!”

Simone and Alice

Unblinking, Simone stares Alice back up against the wall.

Mary intervenes. “Joyce sent her.  She finds people.”

“Or scares them to death. Either way, I love the whole evil beauty thing you’ve got going-on.”

Simone steps back a pace, still staring at Alice.  “So, what do you do?”

“Strategy. . .sometimes Take Out.”

The red light above the studio door blinks on, and we’re locked outside. “No! Fuck no!  They’ve started taping.” I spin around to Mary.

“We’ll watch it on the monitor.” Alice points back toward the lobby.

Simone whispers, “Good time to search the dressing rooms.”

Mary nods.  “Lead the way. I doubt Bette’s sitting in the audience.”

“Exactly.” Skulking past doorways and down hallways, Simone leads us to the back of the building.

Rounding a corner, Alice says in a loud whisper, “You don’t look like hostage negotiator.”

“Who said anything about negotiating?” Simone sneaks us past the control room.

control room B

Down another hallway, interns and backstage managers flick in and out of production offices.  Mary points to Faye’s name taped to the door of a dressing room, and Alice puts her hand on the knob, when Simone pulls her back.

“I go in first.” Simone says.

Alice looks sideways at her.  “Is that a gun in your pants?”

Simone clamps her hand over Alice’s mouth and presses her against the wall. Shaking her head frantically, Alice cries, “I did it again. I wet my pants a little.”

Group_Pink_Orchids w:gold

Dressing Room – Tina

Gifts of flowers for the beloved actress, Faye Dunaway, line every surface inside the star’s dressing room.  Picking through the gifts and messages, Simone looks inside blue boxes from Tiffany. “I hate kidnappers who send riddles.”

“I hate kidnappers period. What possible relationship to taking Bette does all this have?” Mary asks.

Surveying the room, Simone leans back against the dressing table. “The last clue was about a show being cancelled and a man killed because he was a lousy host.  Tina, is your movie in trouble?”

“Maybe.  Our studio chief has massive gambling debts.  The cops are onto that now. Aaron’s time’s nearly up.”

Alice sticks her head inside the door from standing guard. “Captain? Permission to speak?”

Simone doesn’t look up. “What do you want?”

“I have to, have to, have to use the bathroom.” Alice shuts herself inside Faye’s private lavatory.  Then, we hear her scream!

Fearing she’s stumbled on Bette dead body, I freeze.  A vase of flowers drops from my hands.  Petals, water, and crystal fly everywhere.

Mary’s face is tight – holding back her emotions – waiting for Alice, who throws open the door waving one of Bette’s boots in her hand.  Simone pulls out a sheet of paper signed with a bloody handprint.

She reads the kidnapper’s note.

Bloody hand Kidnappers Note

Looking at it, I scream. “I hate these fucking people!”

Mary tucks the boot from the pair she gave Bette under her arm, and pushes me toward the door. “Tina, we’re going home, and for Angelica’s sake we’re going to keep it together.”

rope Day Two

Whereabouts Unknown – Bette

Coming to, I see the rope that has rubbed me raw lying on the floor. Two, that I’m barefoot, and three that I’m handcuffed to the chair.  Half standing next to the table, I lie across its surface and flip backwards, trying to crack the chair into pieces.

A few unavoidable head injuries later, after two tries the chair’s back snaps off.  I search the floor for the pen I stole from the photographer to pick the lock on my handcuffs.

Thirty minutes later –

I take another deep breath, focus my one good eye back on the handcuff lock, and it finally clicks open! Snatching up my one remaining boot left standing by the door, I push the table under the windows, break the glass with the chair leg, and crawl down to freedom.

warehouse night lost

Hopping on one foot over broken glass I make it to the street and take off running into the shadows.

Zigzagging through a desolate part of Los Angeles, I slow my pace after ten blocks and hide inside the doorway of an abandoned warehouse.  I hear a squeaking sound, and for an instant worry that it’s rat, when a shopping cart pushed by a homeless woman appears.

Friend or foe? I listen for others.

She’s alone with bottles of water on board. I can’t stand my thirst a second longer.  “Hi there,” I call from the shadows.

Surprised, she leaps in the air and brandishing a metal pipe she cries, “Get away from me. Down here, we don’t do that after dark.”

On one boot, I hop a little more out of the shadows. “I had to wait until night to escape.”

“Sweet Jesus! Another one from the hospital!” Hurriedly, she pushes her cart away from me. “You’re one of d’em without brains.”

“Wait! Stop, stop! I have plenty of brains.” I hop into the light. “But please, let me have some water.”

She recoils at the moonlit sight of me, and points inside her cart to a Minnie Mouse hand mirror from Disneyland  “You ain’t gonna make it. Infections out here kill you.”

Holding the child’s pink mirror in my hand, my face stares back. “Ooohhhh God, that hurts.” I touch the swollen slit of my right eye,  then down to my busted lip, and running my hands through my wild looking hair, it refuses and remains terrorized.

“Here. Take some water.” Our eyes finally meet in the dim light.  She’s late forties, wearing a second hand dress as a tunic over dark pants.  Her cheekbones wide, her blonde hair misshapen by a do it yourself haircut, she seems less wary.

I gulp down half the bottle of water before coming up for air. “You don’t happen to have a cell phone on you?”

“Oh sure.” She opens one of her bags to show me a dozen out-of-date models.  “Batteries all dead though, but I got nobody to call. Take one, but it’s time for you to start sharing back.”  She stares down at my one remaining boot.

I back away a step.  She’s not getting that.  “Some assholes nabbed me a couple of days ago.  Crashed into my car, knocked me out.”  I point behind me. “Pretty soon they’re going to figure out, I’m missing.”

She stares at my raw wrists, then squints up into my bruised face.  “You’re tellin’ me the truth, aren’t you?”

I nod while finishing off the water. “What’s your story?”

She takes back the empty bottle. “That’s worth a penny at the shelter.  Cans and glass bring more, so pick ’em up.” She pushes her squeaking cart down the street.

“Wait! Where are you going?”

“To the bridge where it’s safe. Come on then, we’d better hide you.”

_________

If you enjoyed this story, please give me a little tip here at paypal.me/blackbirdwrites.  For $3.00 you’ll be buying me a cup of coffee, $7 is a cold drink I’ll enjoy and $10 and up is dinner.  A comment back from you I’d love, too.

Just joining the story? It began with #21 “Bette Meets the Gypsy”  http://bit.ly/BetteGypsyTale, followed by, #22 “Whereabouts Unknown” http://bit.ly/WhereaboutsUnknown  then to #23 “Hotel California” Hotel California  and #24 “Ensnared by Guilt” Ensnared by Guilt  the story you just read.

Hope you enjoyed your time here! Blackbird


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Countdown – #13

Exterior – The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Tina

With my cellphone pressed up to my ear, I move my lips silently along with Kit’s, as she reads Angelica her favorite bedtime story. Putting the book away Kit asks, “How’re you and my Baby Sis getting along in Texas?”

I struggle to find the answer.

How can I describe my evening with a drug-addled bigot, and not press every one of Kit’s 12 Step buttons? Sue Ellen, and this glimpse into Shane’s past, has convinced me all over again that even though Bette’s mother wasn’t there for much of her childhood, my mother was in the beginning, mostly there for me, and we must do better for our daughter. We have to.

wolf_onRidge

When we lived in the old house with the high cliffs behind it, I remember her reading, “Wind in the Willows” to me at night. There was an orchard I played in to the east, a creek I explored to the south, and to the west a gentle curve of cliffs topped by very tall trees that threw shadows over the whole house at sunset.

There were wolves back there, too, and one in particular who watched over me, but by then, it was too late. My sister had already found me.

The front door of the bar swings open, and Bette waves to me. “Odd as it may be, our family pictures are a hit. The dial is way down on her.  I think it’s safe, you can come back inside.”

I hold the phone up to her ear, “Say goodnight to the baby.”

“Goodnight sweet baby, I miss you!”

Shane's baby picture

“Shane, if you can believe it, was once chubby!” Alice greets our return. “Sue Ellen is telling me baby Shane stories.

“I was just asking, if she remembered that old pink blanket of hers?” Sue Ellen leans into Shane, “I couldn’t pry it away from you. It’s like you thought it was your own mother.”

“See. Lots better,” Bette whispers sarcastically in my ear.

“I remember, Blankie.”

Then, Alice just can’t leave well enough alone. “Sue Ellen, where’d you grow up?”

And Bette says, “Fuck,” under her breath. “Memory Lane with Sue Ellen.”

Rabbit skinning Texas

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Bette

“Shane knows this. My coming up wasn’t easy.” Across the table, Sue Ellen shifts in her seat, hesitating whether to go on.

Then, with a deep inhale she begins, “My daddy was a circuit judge, any of you gals know what that is?”

But we all stay silent, should a wrong answer cause another outburst.

“Someone who covers a goodly piece of Texas territory, and decides whether or not to hang a man. That was my daddy,” Sue Ellen answers.

“A Hanging Judge?” Alice cries out. “You had a hanging judge for a father? Shane did you ever meet him?”

Shane shakes her head, as Sue Ellen laughs mostly to herself, “Oh, how he hated that name, too.”

Now, I find myself curious, “And did he actually hang people?”

“He sure did. Hung lots of people. Rustlers, murders, Mexicans…you name it.”

Behind her hand, Tina whispers to me, “Do not argue with her about capital punishment, Bette.  Just let it be.”

Then, our steaks arrive, and sure enough, Sue Ellen had given in and ordered a cup of the healing chicken noodle soup Alice had recommended.

Dipping in her spoon, Sue Ellen continues. “But it meant he was gone a lot. You ever hear of laudanum?”

Cutting into our bloody steaks, we all shake our heads. No.

“The housewives back in my day got hooked on it. Hell, I don’t even know if there was an FDA back then, but out west we still had those roaming Medicine Men, and Indian cures that would pull up in wagons. Amplify a valium a thousand times, but with dreams, and that’s opium. That’s laudanum.”

Sue Ellen licks her lips, I guess at the memory of the taste of it. “A cure for being lonely, and my mother was hooked on it.”

“What’d my grandfather do about it?” Shane asks.

“Nothing. Kept on hanging people, I guess.”

“Now, I’m starting to worry about you.” Alice eyes Shane, who’s sipping away on her beer, the night before she’s to give liver tissue samples to save her dying mother’s diseased one.

Shane gives Alice her best, ‘Get Lost’ look, and continues chewing all the way down a long french fry.

“Still, I hope you take my point.” Alice warns her.

Tina looks over at me, suddenly very serious. “I don’t need a Mother’s Little Helper to care for our baby, do you?”

I look into Tina’s eyes, “You don’t think everything’s fine?”

“No, everything’s fine.”

I lift up her hand and kiss the engagement ring I gave her, “Now, that you’re back, my life is perfect. Everything’s fine.”

“Everything’s perfect. Absolutely everything,” she agrees, but I watch Tina for a moment more, just to make sure.

Hang Man's Rope

“And we used to keep a cooking fire going all the time, even in the summer.” Sue Ellen starts up again with her memories, and then, with a brittle sadness, “And I had one dolly, and I had an older sister, who’d lost hers.”

At that last line, Tina’s complete concentration on her dinner breaks, and lowering my fork, I begin to hope, with all my heart, that the moral of Sue Ellen’s story is about sisterhood and sharing.

“She’s dead, now – mean as she was, just like a snake – fitting it were them’s that got her.” Sue Ellen holds a momentarily satisfied look. “Rattlers. Different times back then, I can assure you.”

“Sounds like it.” Alice nods, very convinced she’d never survive.

“Bette, our Santa Fe party?”

“Mother says there’s a powder they can ring around the whole barn that keeps them away.”

“Oh, Jesus.” Tina’s head sinks into her hands.

I motion to Tina’s half-eaten ribeye. “The sooner you eat it, the faster we can get out of here.”

“Angry, I suppose for me taking what little attention came from our mother, once the dickens got into my sister real bad, and she threw my Dolly into the fire.”

Sue Ellen lifts up her right leg, and pulls off her boot. “I was just a small child, with a mother way off in LaLa Land, not a soul to stop me from crawling into the fire after it.”

burning baby doll

At the sight of once melted toes, and a leg with a long goose leathered scar, Alice jumps up from the table crying, ”Holy fuck!”

Sue Ellen rocks her deformed leg back and forth on the seat next to me. ”Unlike you,” she stares at me, ”this is why I wear cowboy boots.”

“Jesus, Al, I’m sorry! She told it way too much like a ghost story tonight.”

Alice whimpers, “I think I peed a little on myself.”  Shane throws a look over her shoulder back at me, as she walks with Alice to the Ladies Room.

Sue Ellen smiles with a queer satisfaction, and slides her boot back on. “So, what’s your story?”

I think Tina may still be speechless, so I begin. “I only recently reunited with my mother. She spent most of my life in federal custody.”

”I know it’s hard on kids when their parents get locked up. Don’t think too much about it, Bette. I was in jail a few times, when Shane was little.”

CU Bette slySmile

“It was a long stretch,” I play along with her thinking my mother was in prison. “I only recently caught up with her again.”

Tina pokes at her baked potato. “Babe, I’ve been thinking some more about the rattlesnakes.” Then, her face freezes in shock.

“Look! At this nearly identical twin of yours we met in the Ladies Room!” Alice waves her arm by way of an elaborate introduction.

Shane notices Tina’s reactions, and begins tugging on Alice’s arm. “Ah, Alice…”

Dead. Without feeling, “Tina,” is all the sister says.

“Janet,” Tina says very cooly.

“Who’s this cause of such a stir?” Pipes in Sue Ellen.

Tina scoots her chair back from the table, and walks toward her sister, “Our father said you lived here.”

“How is the old man?”

“No idea. He calls occasionally – on holidays.”

“Says he’s the Mayor of Yuma, Arizona, unless he’s lying.”

“That was more your thing, Janet.” Tina steps even closer to her.

“Or your imagination.”  Janet doesn’t budge.

“So like you to twist things.” Tina spits back.

I point at Alice, “We should get the check. Go get the waitress, Alice.”

“And miss this?” Alice refuses to move.

“What are they going on about?” Sue Ellen wonders.

“I’ll do it.” Shane offers. “Come with me, Mom. Let’s get the bill.”

“Well, I don’t have any money.” Sue Ellen shouts, and stays put at the table.

“Nice company you keep,” Janet smirks.

Then, I step in and jab my finger in Janet’s face. “You know, what? Fuck you! You owe your sister, at-the-very-least, an apology.”

“Who’s this?” Janet looks me up and down degradingly. “I told her, it was you all along, and Mother should’ve punished you! Not me.”

Then, Tina slaps the shit out of Janet. Smack!

Followed by Janet’s strike back. Whack!

Now, we have the whole restaurant’s attention.

The reddish mark of Janet’s handprint appears on Tina’s face, and back again, I step between them. “Look, just apologize to her, and get the fuck out of here, or else.”

Sue Ellen claps her hands together. “Sounds like a dare, to me!”

“You! Keep your unclean hands off me.”  Janet swats my finger away, but I point it right back into her face.

“But I insist. I said apologize to Tina. Now, do it!”

Tina tries to move me aside. “Bette, I can handle this.”

“Well, your girlfriend, I guess is who this is? She ought to thank me.” Janet stabs her finger right under my nose. “You should thank me!”

Alice looks at Shane.  “I have no idea what’s going on. You?”

I supply them my answer, “This pretender is getting off her high holy horse, and apologizing. That’s what’s happening.”

Enraged Janet screams at me. “Okay! Here’s the Truth! She liked it! So, now you know! Is that what you wanted to hear?”

Alice disapproving

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Alice

And fast as you can say, “You just pissed off the wrong person.” Bette’s hands are around Janet’s neck, and she’s squeezing the fucking life out of her.

“You crazy, miserable piece of human shit!” Bette hisses, as she clutches Janet by the throat.

“Bette! Stop it!” Tina shouts, “I’ll beat up my own sister, if I want to.”

Bette shakes her head, “No!” as Janet flails and gurgles. “I’m not fucking letting her go, until she says she’s sorry.”

“Hey! You gals need to take this outside!” Miss Laredo calls from the bar. Then, to her friends, “Come on!”

Shane sends her mother a warning look. “Mom, don’t bet against my friends.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it! Hand over your billfold, sweetheart, I’m betting whatever you’ve got, on the tall one.”

And then, just as quick, Bette lets out an, “Ooof!”

bloody knife

And my steak knife is sticking out of Bette’s stomach!

“God!” Tina cries at her sister, “What’d you just do?”

Miss Laredo shouts that she’s a nurse, and Bette staggers backwards in pain. Tina’s hands close around hers to stop Bette from pulling out the knife. “Don’t! You’ll bleed to death!”

Bette goes for her steak knife on the table. “Goddammit! This shit just got serious.”

Then…

“Ugh. Wait a minute, Baby. This really hurts.” She drops down on one knee.

“Oh God, Bette!” Tina lunges at the table, and I have just enough time to grab my ribeye off my plate before Tina zings it into Janet’s forehead.

Conk!

“You’ve always been crazy. You’ve always been such a liar!” Tina screams as she throws platters and dishes and ketchup bottles at her sister. Everything’s flying through the air, when overhead I see a wine bottle in Janet’s hand heading straight down for Tina.

“Look out!” I shout, and Bette springs up, and grabs Janet’s arm, holding it in mid air.

Nose to nose, they strain against each other. With my steak knife sticking out of Bette’s guts, she forces Janet’s hand back and back, looking like any minute she’s going to snap the woman’s wrist, and Tina, finally seeing only salt and pepper shakers left to throw, kicks Janet’s in the back of the knee.

And down Janet goes.

A cheer erupts!

Sinking into a chair, Bette shoots the crowd a thumbs-up, and with a grimace looks down at the stream of blood leaking out of her abdomen.

“I’m starting to understand you gals a whole lot better.” Sue Ellen looks at us with true appreciation.

With Tina hovering, Miss Laredo cleans Bette’s wound with whiskey.

bottle of whiskey pouring

“Ouch! Ouch! Give me some of that to drink if you’re going to do that to me.”

“Where’d Janet go?” I ask Tina, but she seems to have forgotten her lifelong foe completely. She strokes Bette’s face, and whispers to her. But I can hear things people say a mile away.

“You’re coming out of this with a scar, Bette, on that hard stomach of yours, you’re so vain about.”

Torso Sheba story picture

Miss Laredo, with a sweet wink to Bette. “You’d be a tough one to cut through, Honey.”

Tina rolls her eyes, as she hands Bette a whiskey for her pain.

By now, a small crowd has gathered, and Miss Laredo offers her friends a peek at Bette’s enviable abs. “Meet Bette, Ladies, and her soon to be wife, Tina.”

Bette shoots Tina a sly smile. “Miss Laredo, can you stitch Tina’s name on me, like a tattoo?”

Tina threads her fingers through Bette’s. “You need to quit telling everybody what to do. When we’re alone, I’ll talk to you about this.”

“Guys, we’re going right to a hospital with my mother. Anybody thought of that?”

Miss Laredo calls out, “Okay, the wound’s lookin’ good, but stitching you back together is going to hurt. You up for this?”

Bette ignores Shane’s saner idea. “Are you really a nurse?”

“Yes.”

“Is there any chance you’re operating on me sober?”

“Not a chance.”

“Is your name really, Miss Laredo?”

“Yes.”

“Then, I say do it.”

And when the perfect look of pleasure and pain settles onto Bette’s face, I can’t help myself. I just have to take a picture.

Bette Tina Kiss New One

Two hours later –

Bette and Tina’s Dallas Hotel Room – Bette

Whatever there’s left to talk about, Tina has decided it’s going to happen tomorrow, because once we hit the door of our hotel room, down I go on the bed.  I can’t ask her if she’s glad she got to smack the shit out of her sister, or if she’s sorry the whole thing happened. I’ll never know the answer until whatever is happening between us plays itself out on this bed, and that’s fine with me.

I slip my tongue back and forth in her mouth, and she sucks on me, and rubs painfully on top of my bandage. I know she’s doing it on purpose – a lesson in here somewhere I’ll have to sort out later.

She moves my hand from her breast down between her legs. “Come inside me.” Is all I hear.

I roll her over, and begin to make love to her. Her legs wrap around me, and she rocks back against me, and blue shots of pain start to streak through my mind.

Down my back she digs into me with her fingernails, and I cover her mouth and her body with mine, and we blend like ocean waves, far out to sea, that don’t break, only rise and fall – over and over and over with each other.

Bette_Kiss_goldtoned

I lift her up to hold her against me, and taste only the whiskey and want of sex in her mouth.

She begins to shake. “I’m so close, right on the edge.” And her muscles close tight on my fingers, and trembling more, she begins to come.

Bette_Tina CU golden toned KISS

And for long, long moments, we’re falling over the edge of orgasm, and moaning, with our tongues sliding together, as a slick sweat breaks between our bodies, and…………we fall back into each other’s arms, the waves break slower and slower, and we breath together, and look again into each other’s eyes, and kiss softly.

Tina runs her fingers down my body, making little curves in my sweat between my breasts. “This is Texas, I do realize, but take a guess. Since we landed this morning, how many laws have you broken?

“Two, maybe?” I begin to laugh.

“Try ten.” She licks up my neck. “You’re very salty tonight.”

“You like it?”

“Hmm,” she settles against my chest, and plays her fingers around my long white bandage. “I like you.”

I rise up a little to look in her eyes. “I’d hold out as long as could, before I took a prison wife. I want you to know that.”

“And I want to believe you. I really do.” She licks me a few times inside my legs.

“Marry me, soon, won’t you? Why we do have to wait?” But her mouth on me is causing me to lose focus. “All the parties, can’t they come after we’re married?”

But no answer back is forthcoming, and soon, she’s taken all my concentration.

And then, I let myself go.

_________________

I hope you enjoyed the story!

Blackbird

//


9 Comments

The New Mothers of Invention – Touch Tones #12

Bette Close Up profile anticipation

Dallas, Texas – In a Hospital Corridor Near a Stairwell – Bette

I should’ve known better, but when has that old adage ever saved any fool from themselves? So now, here I am hanging out in the hallway being Alice and Shane’s lookout.

Tina has disappeared for the moment, wanting nothing at all to do with this plan, and as she walked away over her shoulder she threw back a look that was meant to wilt my resolve, but her heart wasn’t really it in, and I can take a lot, lot worse.

It’s always amazed me how life can appear to be moving in one direction, as certain as an ice floe, and then slide off a cliff you never saw coming. I wonder if that’s how Jodie feels, three weeks away from me?

And who was she in the mystifying game of cat and mouse Tina and I played with relish against each other? Strange as it sounds, because she truly hates my guts right now, Jodie was both the curse and the cure that changed my Fate. As I was disappearing over the horizon line, Tina woke up from the sleepwalking state of believing that dating around West Hollywood was the way to the Well of Happiness.

A folly of hangovers ten thousand before her had tried.

Bette_Tina_looking ahead, Powersuit

Art saved me.

There was a painting that hung in The Provocations show, and I had walked by it everyday for months, but when I call it up now – the image of The Wraith of Temptations’ canvas – I can see her face of duality.  Half vixen and the other half, not chaste, but one of serene delight – I finally have a whole picture of myself, in a way I’ve never had before.

I am both bliss and the hungry complications of human nature.

I know this deeply when Tina is sleeping next me.  Lying on my back, staring up at the ceiling I’ve edged right up to the duality of myself.  When the night outside is especially windy, and the chaotic reflections from my pool flash wildly across my ceiling, they entrance me.  The lavender scent of our sheets, her sometimes still sticky on my fingers, leads me to imagine myself as healed and golden, and not quite real.  In these transcendent moments, Tina has a body of quicksilver, and I can’t tear my eyes away from her beauty and nakedness.

I feel it as deeply as my own skeleton of interlocking bones.  Something terrible has been swept away from us, and Hell has been avoided.

SheBarKiss

As much as I detest Dawn Denbo, and to a lesser degree, My Girlfriend Cindy, I will always have reverence for the magic that happened in the SheBar, even though it was mostly my tongue that led me all the way Home.

It’s a well known fact, I had realized after Alice made me sit down, and read all the comments about me on her blog, that Tina and I are an Internet “kissing sensation”.

WITH FOLLOWERS.

“Is this one from the SheBar’s security cameras? This is unbelievable to me! Who the fuck posts all these things?” I had nearly spilled my beer all over the computer when the long tortured video of me, bereft of even a single word, had shown me desperately rolling my lips with Tina’s until finally my mind had broken.

It was then she had whispered, “Don’t, Babe. Please don’t cry anymore.” But still I hadn’t stopped, or maybe it was that I didn’t really believe her until she’d answered all my hows and whys with the only words I’d needed to hear, “Because I love you.”

Only then, did my breath return to my lungs, and my heart to its rightful place inside my chest, and finally her hand over its too fast beating, she had whispered in my ear, “Take me home, Bette. I’m ready to go.”

I feel it. The way the pieces that shattered have come back smooth and knowing their place, and how there’s a profound kind of peace in that.

In New Mexico, I’d seen it again most recently, when something old, and very fierce, had burned through my Mother, and her friend, Mary Windhorse’s eyes. When rape and attempted murder didn’t defeat them, they became Mothers of Re-Invention. It’s what we do.

Women transform.

Bette_Tina CU Atlanta Kiss

“How did this one get out on the Internet?  Jenny has cameras in my house! I’ve sworn to Tina they’re in here.”

Alice had convinced me Jenny was not to blame for this one, but Dana’s bizarre selection of wife material, the marketing girl with the thick thighs, Tonya-what’s-her-name, had probably snapped this one night when she was over.

What it all stacks up to, the Internet revelry about us when we kiss, is that we make women’s knees go weak when we get lost in each other.  And infamous or not, I’m just like every other lost and confused lovesick idiot, but perhaps with better shoes, and a permanent tan.  My thanks always to my black ancestors, who kindly tinted me so nicely.

Fourteen days and five hours later, after Gloria deftly coaxed us all the way across the studio stage to the delights of a cheering crowd, I’d have to be blind and dumb not to see that my soon-to-be-wife of forever is not pleased with me at the moment. Her aggravated arrival puts the sudden brakes on my windmill of thoughts.

Tina verticle arguing Brazil

“My guess is this is so illegal. Have you even considered we might all end up in jail?” Tina stomps up to me.

“I’m innocent!” I throw my hands up to show — I’m clean of most recently committed crimes. “I was standing there one minute, same as you, and it all happened, so fast.”

“But you didn’t try to stop it.” Tina points out as she blows away a piece of hair that has fallen across her eyes.

“What would you’ve had me do? Stick my leg out, and trip the old lady as she made for the door?” I consider walking away toward the elevator, but wisely I stay put. “What if she has osteoporosis? Then, what? We all pitch in tomorrow with our bone marrow?

Tina puts her hand on her hip to tell me: The Game’s Up. “Look me in the eyes, and swear to me – poor bone density was why you didn’t stop her.”

I paste a thoughtful, compassionate look on my face, but Tina sees right through me. “T, bone marrow harvesting hurts like a sonuvabitch, Baby. You really don’t want any part of that.”  I lean over and kiss her lightly on the lips, and then another kiss, and then we’re fine.

“I honestly don’t know sometimes why I put up with you,” but Tina squeezes my hand, as she says it.

I press the elevator button down for the Lobby. “I’m thinking whiskey first, then a ribeye, you?”

dallas steakhouse cowboy bar

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Alice

Real Girls with big hair, I’m not accustomed to.  Drag Queens, check.  But thirtysomething women, who actually teased their hair way up high before driving over here to drink all night – not so much.  Take Miss Laredo over there, who’s throwing her head back in peals of laughter, as if the brunette next to her has just told her the funniest joke in the world. I want some of that, shellacked finishes and all.

Life has been too sad, and far too weird lately with Tasha, who likes things regimented and marching forward with nice, neat squared off edges. I’m an oval person, and I’ve never met a hard angle that didn’t upset and later, offend me. I blame it all on Shane’s dying mother, who’s looking more and more slightly green around the gills, as the one who ignited my heroic sense of carpe diem – Texas style.

“Bette, I’ll buy the first round if you’ll come with me to the bar. Help me carry back our cocktails.” Her knee high cowboy boots, and sly smile are the perfect commodities I need to obliterate my urban footwear, Jewish ancestry, and catch me a much-needed date for the evening.

“Single malt or bourbon?” Bette calls back to Tina, as I lead her away.

Shane_Med_bluegreen bckgrd

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Shane

It’s true. I haven’t thought this whole thing through in all the ways I should have with my mother.

I forgave her leaving me for months with our neighbors, who finally put me into foster care, saving me from their teenage son, who looked like he was going to hop on me, and not get off.  Wrestling, he liked to call it.

I’m strangely bent when it comes to sex.  Turning hand job tricks on Sunset Blvd was my first chosen source of income when I blew into town. That, I realize, says something about me. Words like gender bender, and the hard rubber cocks I strapped on and slid down the tight legs of my jeans were things I never knew existed before I stuck my hand out, and hitchhiked myself as far away as I could get from the Great State of Texas. And now, I’m home.

My mother, who looks like she might be in need of a plastic bucket to vomit in, is reaching in her purse and taking out medicine and I hope not bad pills. Whatever they are, she’s washing them down with Coca-Cola, and Tina’s watching, too, as the pills disappear by the handful.

Tina’s eyes meet mine for a moment, as she sips her drink, and leans closer into Bette. They love each, it’s so obvious, and my mother looks beautiful, but dying – ever so slowly.

“Shane, should you be drinking tonight?” Tina looks at me with a warning. “Aren’t they taking tissue from your liver tomorrow to test for a good match?”

“What does testing my DNA, and something called gene panels, have to do with alcohol?” I punctuate with a swig of my Lone Star beer.

Alice barks a laugh, “You may be the only person in LA who’s never been to a 12 step meeting.

“I haven’t,” Bette offers proudly, “Although Kit’s invited me plenty of times.”

“Do what you want, I say,” my mother chimes in with what I can see on Tina’s face is registering as the kind of guardian she might have been had she stayed around, had a thousand things gone differently, had she not been a drug addict all my life.

“So, let me get you all straight, because my daughter’s postcards are usually just a few lines scrawled. You’re the ones she has breakfast with every morning? What does that make you? A book club, a coffee klatch, some kind of women’s group?”

Alice cocks her head up and stares into the antler chandelier above our table. “This is hardly the 50’s. Do you know anything about Shane’s, uh-mm, life?”

Antler Chandelier - Dallas

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Tina

“Bette,” I whisper, as the waitress hands around menus that are printed on the backs of Wild West Wanted Dead or Alive posters.

“They had the greatest outlaw names,” Bette says admiring the old photo of “Deadeye” Rick Malloy. “Look at this guy, damn! He’d scare me to death if he walked in here right now.”

“Most of them had syphilis, and the spirochetes had corkscrewed through them.” Alice taps the side of her head. “Swiss cheese. Gooey, mushy brains, if you can imagine.”

Sue Ellen looks a bit more ill, then a shiver jumps up her shoulders.

“Bette,” I repeat again, digging into her with my elbow.

“What, Baby? What?”

I whisper in a low voice very near her ear.  “Do you remember the Xanax and Valium pills I keep for whenever we have an earthquake?”

“Ah, ah, of course I do, but I certainly don’t have any.  What’s wrong? Are you suddenly nervous?”

“I’m not nervous, at all, but they’re both blue, but Valium can also be yellow.”

“And grass is green.  All good to know, but did you get a look at the size of that Porterhouse that just went by?!”

“You probably can’t eat, can you Mom?” Shane peers over her Wanted Dead or Alive poster.

Alice offers her medical advice. “My mother, who has the maternal instincts of a spider, would prescribe you Chicken Soup. It’s the Jewish cure all for anything.”

“But not Hitler,” says Sue Ellen, “Do you all really believe there was a holocaust?”

“What!?” Bette shouts way too forcefully.

Sue Ellen stares back at Bette. “Pee-ah-zec-ee, that ain’t Irish, sweetheart. I know from whence I speak.”

Alice, to her credit is taking none of this seriously, and she begins to smile, “Does everyone in your family have a double name, Sue Ellen? And how’d you escape Virginia and North Carolina without one, Tina?”

Shane leans across the table to Bette. “Guys, I can’t eat a whole one of these monster steaks, maybe, I am a little worried about the tests tomorrow.”

Alice comforts her, “Drink some milk, Shane, that will coat your stomach.”

“She can make up her own mind what to eat. I think that should be plenty obvious.” Sue Ellen snorts, and lolls her head back against the soft red leather banquette. “What do you know about it, anyway? Milk.”

“Pasteurized, or unpasteurized, or straight out of the teets? I freelanced for one of the farm co-ops back when everybody was on about making their own yogurt. You can’t stump me when it comes to dairy.”

”Right.” Shane says quickly. ”Mother, let’s go back to your room.”

Sue Ellen waves a Wanted Dead or Alive poster back at her daughter. ”Don’t-cha mean, Death Row? And here you are, after twenty years back in Texas, taking me to dinner with your LA friends, hiding their unnatural attraction for each other with lipstick and fake wedding rings.”  She looks disgusted as she stares at Alice, avoiding Bette’s and my eyes. ”You must think I’m blind. Trust me, I’m not.”

With a dead-eye lock into Shane’s, Bette tosses back her whiskey in one long disappearing swallow. “This is fucking ridiculous, and this has got to stop.”

“Tourette’s, maybe?” Shane looks oddly hopeful.

I shake my head, “Well, I’m just stunned she didn’t know.”

“Know what?” Sue Ellen leans in on her elbows.

“Something very hard to write on a postcard.” Shane defends herself.

Then, the waitress arrives. Thank God.

dead or alive poster

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Bette

The ample chested blonde waitress leans so far down, and comes so close to my face, that I can’t help myself so, I smile.

“I know what I want,” Alice begins.

As I lean in closer to Tina, I hold up the menu to hide my face. “We don’t have to sit through this bullshit, Baby. Just say the word, and I’ll take you out of here.”

“She’s hopped up on something. Remember when I was asking you about blue pills?”

“I just know about Heroin, Kit’s drug of choice, if you don’t count Tequila, Rum, Gin, Vodka…”

“I get it, Bette, but something’s very wrong with her.”

“She’s a bigot, that’s mostly what’s wrong with her!” My attention flips back to the D cup waitress. “I’m going straight to the beef, no salad, no spinach, just a baked potato and straight to business with the steak, but I am definitely ordering another drink. What are you doing, T?”

“If Alice’s ever left California, and landed in a flyover state, she’s heard it all before, but I didn’t see this coming,”

“And Shane’s not, Out?” I begin to laugh. “Absolutely, so ridiculous.”

“Babe, have you forgotten that you didn’t exactly get on so well when this happened with your father?” That stops her laughter, and I wish I could take it back. Then, my phone rings.

“Hey, sweetheart, it’s Momma T. Are you all tucked in?”

“Who’s that calling during dinnertime?” Sue Ellen starts up again.

Alice flips through our family pictures on her iPhone, and  leans over to Sue Ellen, “Oh, and the fake straight women? They have a baby girl together. A cute little brown one. Wanna see?”

_____________

Part Three of this tale I hope you’re enjoying will post soon.

Love to hear from you, if you’d like to drop a comment.

Blackbird

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The Lucky Ones

California lodge

Big Bear – Bette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer is goddamn never. Just goddamn never.

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

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

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

Text to Shane:

“Who the fuck is Brenda?”

Text from Shane:

“No idea. Brenda?”

Text to Shane:

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

Text from Shane:

“Alice says ❤ Dr 2 nice 2 happy tho.”

Text to Shane:

“Could I take her?”

Text from Shane:

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

Text to Shane:

:~)

Text from Shane:

“Thght ur writing abt Kit getting robbed. 😦 ”

Text to Shane:

“WTF?”

Text from Shane:

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

Tina_Raft_Halfnaked

Bette’s Garden – Tina

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

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

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

I hear the sound of a blender from her kitchen.

Bette’s poolside – Bette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But would you like to?”

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

“Oh, it’ll suck alright.”

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

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

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

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

SheBar – Tina

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

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

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

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

SheBarKiss_1

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

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

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

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

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

SheBarKISS_Story

Bette’s House – Thursday Night 10pm – Tina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bette_Tina_in Bed_talking Story picture

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

“I got so tangled up in the Yucatan.”

“What?” I laugh.

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

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

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

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

Grt Kiss Tina on Top

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

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

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

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

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

Bette_veryGood_goldenKiss

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

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

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

Bette’s Bedroom – Bette

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

Bette_Tina CU golden toned KISS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later – Bette’s Bedroom – Tina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bette’s Bedroom – Midnight – Bette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I watch Tina’s lips quiver.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Things?” I ask suspiciously.

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

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

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

“T, are you still awake?”

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is it?” Tina asks.

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

“I do, don’t you?”

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

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

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

“Bette?”

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

“The desert?” Tina laughs.

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

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

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

I hear Tina laugh but I worry about things anyway.

__________________

Click here for the next story.

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

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

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

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

Blackbird

To comment in the box click the (  ) or drop a comment on the page back below the story’s headline and beginning.


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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 Fortune Teller Tina Kennard The L Word

FortuneTeller Neon sign

Studio City – Tina

I hate rushing. It makes me nervous and forgetful, and the long list of things I don’t need are the ones banging about foremost in my mind.  I close the door to my car and sit still for a moment. I need to calmly look in my purse and check for money, cell phone, sunglasses and keys. I could get from here to anywhere with just those few things. Yes, all present and accounted for.

I start the engine.

Where I’m going today is a secret and that secret is making me anxious. Over and over again all morning, I had almost reached for the phone to call someone, bleed off a little steam, let loose some of this uncomfortable pressure, but my decision somehow remained firm. The Fortune Teller and I are a secret.

Helena’s psychic had been the one I’d finally had the sense to turn to when Googling “Gypsy fortune tellers LA CA” had led me to clowns, then porn sites and finally – and maybe the worst – Internet poker. Where do people find the time?  I’d caught Helena’s eye long enough to impress upon her, “Not a word about this to, Alice.” Absolutely, Helena had sworn, and she’d locked her lips and thrown away the tiny key.

“A Gypsy fortune-teller near Hancock Park is my best recollection of who Bette’s artist friend had sworn by,” is what I’d told Helena’s reader. She’d laughed and wondered, if all lesbians knew each other as well? I’d almost mentioned Alice’s chart, but quickly decided against it. Some things lead to conversations you soon realize you’d rather not be having – at all.

But like The Chart proves we’re all just a kiss or a bacterial infection away from each other.  Predictably, she knew the name of the Gypsy in Hancock Park, and before I’d lost my nerve my appointment had been made.

Tina_Headshot BeamingSmile

I like to be early to things. It’s just a habit of mine.  It’s one thing about me that drives Bette crazy, but as a traveling companion she’s wonderful – unless we’re catching a train, a plane or a ferry – but once arrived she’s game for nearly anything. Which is how we ended up at the bullfights.

It wasn’t something I would have chosen to do while we were in Madrid, but the night before on the Plaza de Cibeles we’d caught the attention of two toreros who were not chauvinistic about their sport. This led, I never will forget, to the very next day with Bette at the bullfights.

It wasn’t what I expected, and it grew more interesting by the hour when we met, by chance, the world’s most famous matadora, Cristina Sanchez.

Cristina_SanchezBullfighter

She was beautiful, but very deadly, very quick in for the kill.  Late that afternoon, Cristina had taught us – until we’d finally gotten it right – how to dance the graceful moves of the matadora, and it wasn’t at all what I’d thought it would be. In the bullring, one misstep among the dozens in this long luring dance and the bull takes your life.

After returning to our hotel, and a wonderful dinner, we’d returned to our room and tried to remember all the moves of matadora dance.

Bette_veryGood_goldenKiss

Vacation sex.

I feel her in my arms suddenly at the traffic light, as if she’s found me – just for a moment – to send me a message.  I close my eyes, and the luring moves of the matadora come back to me.

Driving slowly through Hancock Park, my breath catches, as I see the numbers match on the house to my right. I keep the car in idle. I can turn around now and never know. I turn the engine off and rest the keys in my lap,  As I watch the everyday movements of the neighborhood, my exhaustion comes to me. How do I push through these things I’ve created? How do I find love again, or do I ever? Jenny’s book is stirring up too much.

Fortune teller? Fuck, yes. What was I thinking?

As I ring the bell and hear footsteps closing our distance, there is one question I must have the answer to: How do Bette and I raise a child and not make her crazy?

Gypsy

In LA gypsy’s are fashionable! I realize as an attractive woman in her 60’s tosses back her long dark mane and opens the door to me. Yes, there’s a scarf, but it’s Hermes and her pant suit is tailored and a dark chocolate brown.  As she smiles, at the edge of her dark eyes there are the soft wrinkles of her lifetime of laughter.

A few minutes later –

“Have you ever had a reading before, Tina?” She asks as she shuffles cards.

“No, I’ve thought of it many times though.”

“How about some tea and you tell me what you’d most like to know?”

She reappears in a moment with a tea tray, and begins a preparation of the tea unknown to me, and her Romanian accent is threads through her words. “This Kluntje is the stick of white rock sugar that melts slowly as the Black Assam tea is poured over it. Next, we bring in the Wölkje, a heavy cream or as the gypsies call it, the cloud, the Wölkje.  And this is added to the tea water and mixes with the sugar and brings us back to the beginning. Do you see?” She passes me a delicate and very old china cup and saucer.

“Try it now. It’s served unstirred and first you will taste the sweetness of the cream as the cloud, then the tea, the active life, your life, and finally at the bottom your taste comes to the sweetness, the rock sugar and that is the Kluntje, the land upon which you walk.” She takes her seat across from me.

“Yes,” she sips her tea, pleased with it.  “Now, tell me Tina, as you drink this tea in this room where your future, present and past meet, what has brought you here?”

She reaches over to take my hand.  “Concentrate for a moment more, while you drink your tea then, put your cup in my hand.”

I take a deep breath, and I hand over my cup. The Gypsy begins to read my tea leaves.

“Ah, congratulations on solving your money problems.  In the West you are bred to fear the lack of it, in the East we’ve known hardship for centuries, even thousands of years. Wars. We’ve had so many wars.”

She sends me a look you might give a naive older child. “You will be fine. There is work for you in movies, and other support for you is nearby.” She nods her head, “Just don’t worry and get bad wrinkles thinking about it, that is not your true issue in this life.”

“In this life?”

 

“I’ll make a recording for you?”

“Yes, please.”

“Okay, Tina close your eyes and concentrate on your child. You have a question about her and she has a message for you.”

“Her name is also, Angelica.”

“So she says. Angelica, the messenger.”

“I’m separated from her other parent, her other mother, and I worry. . . she loves us both – so much.” My voice catches. “We’re a very beautiful, but very fucked up family.” Tears sting my eyes. “I apologize. On the other side of Melrose we talk this way.”

“Think nothing of it.” She brushes my curse away. “How’s your broken heart? You’ve had a few, haven’t you?”

“Better? I guess. I just don’t know what to do with it. Where to go with it? Do I just wait and let the days and weeks pass? Or do I try to date?”

“You’re pretty. Dating for you would be no problem, but who is the person you truly want to see you? Is it your child one day when she’s older? Or someone you haven’t yet met? Or someone you already know?”

“Yes, I would like to know. Please.”

“This person has a reckless, passionate side that runs away from her. Definitely a her. But I don’t think she’ll hurt you again like you suspect. . . but she could hurt others though.” She looks up at me, “Is this the one you love? This passionate, dangerous one?”

“For a long time, yes.” I say softly, and her eyes wrinkle at their edges.

She pushes a deck of Tarot cards toward me.  “Let’s get to the bottom of this, shall we? Shuffle to your heart’s content, and then cut them into three stacks and place them back into one.”

The old worn edges of the deck feel soft and the cards in my hands feel uncommonly warm.  My mouth feels dry, as she fans them out on the table face down in front of me.

“Pick twelve. No, today you pick thirteen.”

From around the fan shape I collect thirteen cards, and place them in front of her. “Very good.” She closes her eyes, and when she opens them again – they are brighter, more golden than brown.

I watch as she makes a circular design that fills the table between us. In the middle she places the last two cards face down.  “Just relax. You don’t need to be afraid.” She reveals the first card in the center. The Princess of Disks.

“This is you, Tina, in the middle of your world that the cards will reveal around you.”

 

I lean in to get a better look. The card in the middle shows a nude maiden, the Princess of Disks, her hair long and golden and her belly a swollen pregnant disk.

“So beautiful, isn’t she?” The fortune-teller places a chilled glass of water in front of me. “So, you’ve looked at the card that’s you. How does it feel?”
Tarot_PrincessofDicks

“Relieved! I’m thankful to say.”

“Good, hold onto that thought because at the bottom of the circle, at the feet and foundation of your card’s place is the past.” She flips over a card that has wands blocking the way and fields going to waste in the background. The next card has flowers that look like cups but they are spoiled and putrid with a scene that shows wine that could be blood spilled across a checkered floor.

“Do you want me to do a reading about your sexual abuse?”

A warm cloth is over my eyes and there’s a rooty, earthy scent. My eyes flutter open and I’m in a darkened room lined with volumes of books and candles burning and more musky curious scents come me.

“Where am I?” I try to raise up, but her hand on my shoulder presses me back.

“You’re okay, but you hit your head. Sore?” She adjusts the cloth on my forehead and under it I do feel a rising lump.

“Ouch! What’d I hit?” I try to remember.

“The side of the table, but not too bad.” She dabs another deeply earthy smelling balm on my welt and places the warm cloth back across my forehead.

“Tell me what happened. Nothing can hurt you here.”

The corners of my eyes drip with tears. “I didn’t know it was wrong.” I manage to say very evenly. “It was my older sister, my only sister really. We were practicing her kissing with boys.”

“This scent, do you like it?” And a fragrance unlike anything I’ve ever smelled envelopes me. My nose says not peaches, or Tupelo honey but sweet with the turned earth of fields and a warmth of the sun. My mind calms, my shoulders, then my arms and finally, my fingers relax.

“See how you can lie down on this patch of warm sunny earth?” Her hands smooth a warm blanket over me. “Breathe now like you would as a child who’s spun down onto the ground to watch the clouds roll by.”

I drift and follow the smells of summer and find my breath.

“And when you were with her were you laughing? Was it playing?”

“It was a game. She liked this boy, Danny. I played him and like she wanted him to, I kissed her.”

“And then you began to sleep with her in her room or yours?”

“That was after the party,” I say drowsily. “When we drank all the leftovers from all the drinks that came back to the kitchen on trays after my parent’s party.”

“Then?”

“A long white taper from the candelabra she handed me to. . .”

“And at night you became the young boy?”

“Yes, at night I became, Danny.” I can’t stop a surge of panic, and I begin to cry. “I was . . . too young to feel those things.”

“Yes, for anyone so young.” She takes my hands and in her eyes I see endless compassion. “And you’ve never told your dangerous one, have you?”

“And mostly for those reasons.”

“What are you most afraid of? That she’d do something dangerous to your sister?”

“Oh, she wouldn’t stop with my sister. She’d burn everyone’s fucking house down.”

_________________

The next story is titled, “A Spell on You” http://wp.me/p4AUvc-5U

The Gypsy’s love spell in action, and in surprising ways.

The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, #thelword, #betteporter, #tinakennard, The L Word,


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The Pussy Club – The L Word fan fiction

Bette_BlackJacket_ Looking R

Phyllis’ garden – Founder’s Party – Bette

As I take the pipe from Jodie and lean into Tom’s lighter flame I try to imagine as I inhale the sweet marijuana what it would be like to be deaf. I would see but not hear Tom’s lighter flick, feel but not hear Jodi’s exhale that comes across me now as a warm smoky breath against my cheek. I watch her laugh as the THC begins to lighten everything around us. In me, too, everything is becoming softer. I should do this more often, it feels so nice.

I hold my breath for a long time. Jodi and Tom laugh again. Oh! It’s me they find amusing. I cock my head to ask, “Why?” Lung capacity and why am I wearing a ring on my left hand if I’m not married? Word is: I’m single. I hold my breath a bit longer.  I need time to think before I answer them. I spin my rings. I never take them off although I’ve noticed Tina with hers missing from time to time. That aggravates me.

Certainly while she was with Henry the ones she always wore from me disappeared. That had hurt and been maddening, and frustrating, and fraught with dismay, and sadness. And those had been the good days!

Next to my shoulder a shiny red and black beetle walks very deliberately across a leaf. I watch fascinated as its antennae rotate toward me and waves around for signals and tastes of me in the air. I open my mouth to expose my tongue and then blow the last bit of marijuana smoke its way. I laugh as I finally exhale. I’m starting to get the feeling that what I’m smoking out here in the bushes by Phyllis’ pool is some of that whammy pot from Humboldt County. Be cool little beetle. Whew! I am buzzed. I fiddle again with my rings.

Lately Tina’s are back on and while she changes them around sometimes they’re always ones I gave her. Signals. Maybe? But are they? Or have they just become habits? Or God forbid to match a sweater’s color! All of it! All of it, all of it! Everything can be read as a signal. Whoa! Here’s one.

Jodi’s mouth opens close to me and a steady stream of smoke curls from her lips past mine. I inhale the reefer smoke.  I hear a door slam that she doesn’t. I hear Phyllis and Alice shouting. But she can’t. Alice says terrible things. Phyllis cries. Would never hearing those words again be less painful? I look at Jodie curiously. I am very high and I can’t help but wonder: Would she be easier?

As Alice stomps by we fold back deeper into our leafy cover.  Soon, I’ll have to find a breath mint and go back in there, baked now I realize, and try to talk in whatever ape language the donors are speaking in tonight. Another thing Jodie doesn’t have to hear.

Does she ever talk on the phone? Of course, not. God, how does that work? I’d be, well, I’d be lonely if Tina and I didn’t talk nearly every night before Angie goes to sleep. I don’t think texts would work for me. It’s her voice and how she’s feeling under her words that I always want to hear. Signals, imaginary or real? But to never again hear anything? It’s something to wonder about certainly.

We walk away from our hiding place and back into the party. Jodi’s very independent. She smiles at me, waves goodbye and into the crowd she’s gone. I look up and see Helena with a strained look on her face. She catches my eye.

“Could I talk to you?” Helena asks as she waves me through to a back corridor.

“What’s up?” I lean against the wall paper and suppress a giggle. I hate Helena, her misery my joy.

“Would you give me a ride home? Actually, I’m not sure if I should go back to Alice’s tonight, though.” Helena bites her lip in worry. “There’s been a bit of a falling out between her and Phyllis.”

“You want me to drop you at a… where? A hotel, maybe?”

“Actually. You wouldn’t. . . I mean I can’t ask you really, but I guess I could sleep in my car. Oh, God.” Helena whimpers. “I’m supremely, massively broke now.”

“You’re the caterer, right? Can you feed me something because I’m fucking starving all of a sudden.”

“How’s your eyesight? They’re might be glass in it.” Helena looks at me doubtfully, but I go for it.

“Lead the way. I can probably eat broken glass, in fact, with Tina I chew and swallow it quite regularly.” Helena laughs, as she opens the kitchen door to show me.

“Jesus! Helena!” I gasp at hundreds of hors d’oeuvres with the remains of broken champagne flutes scattered on top of them. “Okay, this is fucked up. What happened?” I lean over and begin to eat the salmon biscuits and stuffed mushrooms between the pieces of shards and stems of crystal.

“You want some wine? Or some water?” Helena watches me with interest.

“Both. Yes, both would be great.” I move around to the shrimp skewers. I dip one into the dark creamy peanut sauce. It glistens. I look at it closely.

“Helena, do you see any glass on this shrimp? I don’t see any at all.” The shrimp disappears into my mouth and out comes a naked stick. I stir another shrimp in the spicy, peanut dipping sauce. “Your mother, Peggy, would think this is fucking hilarious.” I snap a picture with my phone.

I wave Helena into the frame. Click. Click.

“Okay! Enough. Here’s your wine.” Helena reaches across the food chaos. “Believe me, Bette, you have to know, you’re the last fucking person I want to ask.”

“One night, Helena.” I knock a piece of glass off the watercress and crab meat sandwiches. “But then what are you going to do?” I go for another sandwich.

“I’ve no idea. It’s quite pitiful really.” Helena pours herself a drink. “I can read and write in Latin and Greek. Know anyone who needs letters written in dead languages?”

“God, that is so fucked up. What were the English thinking?”

“About the past, really. We spend a massive amount of time thinking about it.”

“We need some pot. Thoughts on that?” I polish off the last of the salmon.

Helena laughs at me I think putting it all together. “Right! Of course. Hang on, let me find that clumsy busboy. He really fucking owes me.”

Bette’s Car – Sunset Blvd. – Bette

“This sounds crass I know, and I apologize, but how much money do you have? I have forty dollars.” Helena takes the joint out of her purse. She lights it and inhales.

“You mean like net worth?” I take the joint, and holding my breath I say, “I’m not fucking telling you that. No way.”

“No, Bette, on you. Although, the place I’m thinking about takes plastic.”

“What place?”

“Are you higher than you are drunk?”

“Damn, you are so fucking weird. Higher, I guess.”

“You know I lost every pence I was supposed to make tonight and then some.” Helena crosses her arms and shakes her head. “Mind if I put down the window?”

“Go ahead. Are you going to be sick?”

“No, it’s not that. Thinking about money – I get these feelings sometimes that hands are closing around my throat. The wind makes them blow away.”

“I’ve got three hundred dollars cash. What’d you need it for?”

“I say we go to The Pussy Club just up here past the steakhouse on Sunset.” She grins mischievously and looks across at me. “I’ve got forty bucks to buy you a fabulous lap dance. It’s just up here. Yeah? Take the next left.”

Helena drinks wine

 

The Pussy Club – Bette

I wonder if those tweedy lesbians back east have ever gotten over themselves? I suspect now that they can all charge off to the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts and get married they’ve come around to the relaxing virtues of lap dances for their Bachelorette parties. Helena and I take a table away from the stage. We’re not interested in the pole dancing performers although they’re interesting to look at. I believe we are in agreement. We are looking tonight for a more personalized service.

A  beautiful girl wearing about a handkerchief over her crotch leans in to take our orders.

“Do you have a type, Bette? I really can’t decide about you.” We settle ourselves in for an hour or so.

There’s the thing about places like this, no one expects you to look into their eyes. In fact, no one in here wants to look into yours either. No, this place, these women, all these dollars none of it is about eyes. I lean back and take in the beautifully formed breasts on the woman in front of me. Sequins glisten over her nipples.

“Helena, what are you drinking?”

“Honestly? A red wine and a tall glass of water, I think. Yes. That’s what I’ll have.”

“This is going to sound crazy I know, but do you have any root beer and vanilla ice cream?” I look up and down the dancer’s body.

“What?” Helena exclaims her attention snapping over to me.

“A root beer float. That’s what you want?” The dark-haired lovely asks.

“Yes. I want sugar and something cold in my mouth and I want you to come back and dance for me.”

The waitress’ breasts bob at my eye level. “You ladies know the rules for the dances?”

Helena barks a laugh. “God, we just left the most stuffed shirt party to come here to get our jollies and you’re going to talk to us about rules?”

“Where’re you from? Australia?” The waitress asks and I stifle a laugh. The accents couldn’t be more different.

“Sussex. Look, I think we got it. No touching and what? Twenty five a dance plus tip?” Helena claps and unclasps her Chanel bag that I know is empty.

“We get it and I’m dying of thirst suddenly. Could you bring me my root beer?”

“Coming up.” She leans between us. “If we go in the back of the club you can touch yourself.”

Helena says, “Come back and bring a friend. A pretty blonde around here someplace?”

The music is loud and the dancer on the stage strips off dark silky sheer veils as she threads up and down the pole. Her moves seductive and erotic. But would any of this be if I were hearing absolutely no sound? A chill comes against my temples. The volume mutes for an instant. Without the din I can’t see how this nearly naked colorful chaos makes much sense at all.

The maddening out of sorts superior lift and sniff with her nose is gone these days. Now, she just looks hungry.

Here comes my root beer float brought to me by the very pretty dark haired young woman, who’s proving to be so much fun to watch.

Helena’s voluptuous blonde dancer wiggles and churns inches away from her lap. Mine runs her hands through her dark hair. She blows against my ear and cheek. Her eyes I think I remember are brown.

Alice let it slip, or did it on purpose, either way she let me know: Tina went to The Pleasure Palace. And tonight, Tina’s need for a vibrator amuses me. The sugar, the reefer, and the rich ice cream blend in my mind, and the much, much more than a handful of a the dancer’s breast flows over her hands, as she leans into me for a perfect tease.

The name of the game at The Pussy Club.

“Bette, what are you? Breasts your thing or a great looking ass?”

“Seriously?”  Helena orders another glass of wine. I clock that we are definitely leaving here before she tries to have three. “Don’t get shit faced, Helena. It will make me hate you again. . .  and quickly.”

“Last one I promise. But you didn’t answer me. Tits or ass, Bette?”

“You know every once in awhile your mother will knock off the 24 carats from her manners and deliver some crack like that.” I lean back as the dancer shimmies in front of me. She keeps her breasts barely an inch from lips. I inhale her. Nice. I follow the glitter traces down into her folds.

“Slow down a little.” I tell her and I imagine moving my hands all over her. She leans in so close to my lips. “Some people like to pay me to dance for them while they think about fucking me.”

“So, you’ve said.” I laugh at her bluntness, but here on Sunset Blvd – as the clock edges closer to midnight – time and pussy definitely mean money.

“What kind of dance?” I ask.

We watch our dancer’s bodies begin to rub against each other,  then fit and slide and slide together. We nod our heads in agreement.

“Bette, if I may? I have one quick question?”

“Jesus! What does it matter? Breasts, of course! Breasts! Haven’t you noticed how fucking oral I am?”

“Right! No, actually my question was for Sunny and what? Your name is Bahama? Okay! Sunny and Bahama! In the back,” Helena tilts her head toward the Ultimate Gentleman’s Club party rooms as illuminated by a neon sign. “Do we get costume changes? More things on that we get you to take off?”

I lift my eyebrows. Good thinking Helena. “Four shots of tequila. Then we’ll go.” I nod my head toward the curtains.

“Oh, Wait! Bahama. Do you have a great pair of trousers and a long sleeved man’s shirt. And a tie? You know with really hot panties under all of it.”

“You, Bette?”

“A flight attendant who blows my mind.”

“Commercial air or charter?” Sunny asks.

Our tequila arrives. “Surprise me.”

Bette smiling tank top Story

Bette’s House – Bette

Helena and I have shed our evening wear for yoga outfits, and we lean back on the couch and finish off another joint together. I’ve made us ice cream sundaes in the middle of the night – the drawbacks of pot and my need for lots of sit-ups tomorrow are beginning to dawn on me.

“A nice top off to a dismal evening.” Helena rests her sundae just under chin and spoons deliciousness into her mouth.

I squirt chocolate syrup on my chocolate ice cream. “Why don’t you borrow against your inheritance and buy a strip club? I bet you’d enjoy that. I’d go.”

“But wouldn’t it get to be too much? Maybe I’d never want it again?” She looks at me doubtfully.

“No, you’d want it still! Are you kidding?” I laugh at her ridiculousness.

“You think?”

“I know so. Look what you did! You spent your last twenty dollars on dancing pussy, Helena!”

“You’re one to talk. What was our bill?”

“Forget about it. Better yet, never tell, Alice.”

“Or Tina?”

“No, for sure, tell, Tina. She’ll be amused.” I insist.

“I don’t think so, Bette.” Helena laughs skeptically.

“Maybe amused is the wrong word.” I fall back rubbing my stomach. My whole body feels wavy and warm, and then inside my throat is still cold. I lick my lips.

“Why’d you fuck her? You are such an asshole, Helena.”

“I was rich and she was beautiful. I was used to getting what I wanted.”

“I had wonderful dreams of killing you. Ever eat Fugu?”

Helena laughs. “That would have been brilliant!”

“You made such an ass of yourself in the end. But I’m no better. Tina causes me massive mind fucks. I’ll end up in jail if she dates anyone else.” I lean up on my elbows, “But, damn! I bought the coolest knife to kill Henry with. Wanna to see it?”

“What?” She asks not following.

“Forget it. I was planning on poisoning you.”

“But how can’t she not date? I mean, she’s pretty and hot, you know?”

“Just don’t you say it.” I look at Helena crossly. “But yes, fucking soon someone will be after her.” I put my face in my hands and rub my eyes.

“I want her back after Henry.”

“Alice said the STD is gone by now.. Takes about a month from what I hear.”

“Oh God! Alice!” I stare up at the ceiling.

“But that’s not why, really is it?”

“Why what?”

“Why she’s not here anymore?”

“Don’t think I don’t ask myself daily the same question.” I put my feet up on the table.

“You’re both special people, Bette. It’s too bad really.”

“And you’re one of the fucking idiots who had a hand in it!” I glare at her.

“Mummy loves you, you know that right?”

“Helena! Really? Peggy and I respect one another. But you know why people hate you? Because you’re such a petulant, bad-tempered child.”

“I take your point. If it means anything, anything at all, I’m sorry.”

“You want to settle our score? Really?” I gauge her reaction. “Because I have a job for you.”

She perks up, as expected, and I tap her arm to follow me outside to the pool.

“You’re pretty devious aren’t you? At times, almost without a conscience is my guess.”

Helena blanches at my description, “Okay, at my very, very worst.”

I point toward the darkened house next door. “At some point we may have to do something about, Jenny.”

Bette’s Bedroom – Later

God, it feels good to lie down and hear no sounds. But that actually isn’t true. There are plenty of them. The crickets outside, the jet far overhead in the distance, a motorcycle whining by. Quiet but not silence.

Jodi’s interesting. I don’t know, I can’t really see it.

I roll over onto my stomach, and feel how pleasantly full of ice cream I am. My arms stretch out like wings across the sheets. I liked that the dancer couldn’t touch me. It’s so much better that way.

Bette_Back

 

My right hand moves down to find myself mostly out of comfort not thinking one way or another, just looking for pleasure and finding it right there.  I do like lying on top of women spread eagle like this. Holding them down, their backs against my stomach. So far, no escapes. The thought makes me happy. I slip my fingers inside myself. That feels nice.

Finally, Barbara had gotten over her need to be taken down a notch or two along her sexual power trip with me. My mind brings her back. When her antics were nearly over early that Saturday morning I’d pushed her down on her on stomach and fucked her like a panther. I can definitely go somewhere thinking about that. . .

____

The next story is #24. The Fortune Teller       http://wp.me/p4AUvc-5l

 

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