The L Word : Behind the Scenes

The L Word Bette Porter Tina Kennard


C O U N T D O W N – A Sort of Calling – # 5

snowy drive from barn

January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day – Early evening

On the drive from the barn up to my house in the hills, Maria follows me in her dinged-up silver Volvo, an urban warrior, with its telltale signs of knocking metal against metal for hard to find parking spots in D.C.  Her reflection in my rearview mirror has my near constant attention.  In it she appears miniaturized and horizontal and in realtime like on TV, the venue where she’d first captivated me.

While still in the parking lot at the stable, I’d scanned myself on the off chance an ‘on call’ doctor might need me for an emergency.  Bruised a bit on the inside and sticky on the out,  I wasn’t so far gone from whiskey and smelling like sex in a barn that a hot shower, followed by two coffees with sugar and an egg salad sandwich, couldn’t straighten me out.

But I’d need an hour.

And I’d rather not, says the thrumming coming from between my legs that wants nothing at all to do with doctoring tonight.

Maria had been right earlier during our horseback ride.  No one in her Washington power circles would ever know me.  I had arrived only six months ago from Stanford Medical Center, where I’d been happy until the afternoon I’d slapped Jeanne across her face.

The longtime someone I’d thought surely would be my wife.

Wearing the red streak blooming across her cheek, Jeanne had sent daggers through her eyes at me, which I’d taken to mean – she’d expected an apology for slapping her for cheating.

That bit of my personal history I am hyper-secretive about, but Jeanne had followed the myth of greener pastures – taking off for her lover’s vineyard in Napa – and I’d been headhunted from coast to coast.

Taking a research position, as far away from her as possible,  I’d quietly slipped out of state with my horse and tack and no assault charges, and the needle had dropped on a different tune in Virginia when the clown candidate, Donald Trump, had won his primary and I’d become obsessed with proving him insane.

I turn into my driveway and soon, Maria and I are trotting up the steps together with her overnight bag.

Doctor Porter's home Front View

“I get the feeling there’s money to be made in brain surgery,” she says, following me into my spacious new home.

“Don’t ever expect a doctor to say, ‘business is good’ though.  We think of ourselves as healers and don’t talk about the money we make doing it.  At least the ones I admire don’t.”

Leaving our riding boots by the front door we continue in our stocking feet past my kitchen, den and down a long hallway to my bedroom.

“Another fireplace,” she says, crossing the room to investigate, but stops instead at the roses I’d bought,  cupping their blooms in her hands she seems momentarily lost in thought.

CU Dr Porter's bedroom VA

“Bette, I need a minute to freshen up,” she says, while taking her suitcase from me.

“Of course.”  I kiss her lightly on the cheek. “Take your time.  I’ll be back the way we came.”

I’m halfway down the hallway when my home security OS says, “Dr Porter, Cassie is at the front door.  Would you like me to connect you?”

On a security panel in the kitchen is Cassie’s face, rounded into a fisheye by the camera lens.  I beat my forehead one, two, three times against the wall.

“Connect,” I grimace, while saying it.

“Doctor Porter, I’m so sorry to bother you at home, but you’d better come out here.”

moon through trees

In my stocking feet, on the cold pavement of my driveway, I hear a rustling in the shadows and the woman intelligence operative, who’d questioned me with her team and then, secretly summoned me to Room 303, appears from the bushes.

In rapid fire, Cassie begins to explain, “When I tell you she would not leave me alone, demanding to know where you were, for me to get in touch with you…and you know, I’d never give anyone your private number!”

“It’s true,” the woman in black says.  “I need to see you,” and gesturing to Maria’s beat up Volvo she adds, “Hm, so this is where she is.  Good.  I’ve got both of you.”

“I don’t like the feeling of being tracked down or got,”  I sneer, while planting both hands on my hips in a show of resistance, that fades into the chilly night. “Alright, come inside.”

Cassie edges backwards toward her car and the surety of escape.  “Do you really need me, Doctor?  I’ve got six more pink hats to knit before tomorrow’s march.”

“You yes!  Are coming inside to listen carefully and meet my plus one for the Women’s March.”

Cassie looks back and forth between me and the beat up car, and follows me inside.

julianne white tank tee

Sitting on a bar stool at my kitchen island is Maria, showered,  scrubbed and glowing.  She shakes hands with Cassie, who quickly shows me her approval – that a real woman is in my kitchen on a Saturday night (exciting!) – while Maria introduces the woman in black, as Jane, even though I’d swear several days ago she’d called her a completely different name.

Jane looks at her phone and says matter-of-factly that Cassie’s security clearance has gone through, when it suddenly occurs to me to boil water for tea.

Maria says to Jane, “They’re freaking out now, aren’t they?”

“It’s why I’m here.”

“As if this day hasn’t been coming, as fast as a freight train,” Maria adds.

A water’s boil later I’m steeping tea in my kitchen, that until tonight had been visited by almost no one.

“Doctor Porter in three hours, at one of President Trump’s inaugural balls, we’ll have a team in place that will require your assistance.”

“Tonight!” Maria and I both shout at Jane, who doesn’t blink.

“What on earth for?” I demand.

Jane lays her phone on top of my kitchen island and an image of a circuit board for a sensory gizmo I’ve never seen before appears.  We all lean in to study its mysterious workings.

red gizmo circuit board

“This is magnified ten thousand times.”  Jane turns the phone sideways giving me and Cassie a better look.  “The sensor itself is very tiny.”

“I know what a micron is,” I snap.

Cassie, absorbing that my evening plans have been ruined and I’m likely to turn testier,  says,  “We have micro tech even smaller back at Doctor Porter’s  lab.”

Maria loops her arm around my shoulder and asks, “Do you want in?”

“First,” I answer by leaving the counter and going for a bottle of rum I keep in the liquor cabinet, “what is this gizmo for and what am I to do with it?”

Getting nods from my guests, I top off their tea with Myer’s Rum and stop at the rim of Maria’s cup, fixing her with a suspicious glare. “Did you, by any chance, know about this?”

Jane interrupts my interrogation, “When focused in a six pointed signal these hidden sensors will release a synchronized pulse recorded by our main imaging controller.  It should send back a picture of Donald Trump’s brain.”

“Should?” I blow back at Jane, before turning my attention to Cassie, a die-hard tech nerd.  “Can a brain scan even be done with this…thing?”

“Well, as I said before…”  Cassie’s voice trails, as she flips through more images on the screen, enlarging a few before moving on to the next one.

I state one fact I know for certain, in this rising sea of unknowns, “My nano robots, if we used about twenty thousand of them, could send out a magnetic pulse, but they’d have to be very close to make a decent image.  Right now, using this gizmo, without me running lots of tests and diagnostics, I’d say it’s impossible.”

Jane, still with balls in the air, says, “Our lab’s had success as far away as one meter.”

Cassie frowns, unconvinced.  “Using this thing?”  She points to the red gizmo on Jane’s iPhone and pushes it away. “I wouldn’t suggest using that.  Doctor Porter’s right.  It would be difficult, but syncing our nano robots could create a powerful enough micro-pulse for a scan.”

“Of Trump’s brain!”  Maria emphasizes, as she crosses her arms over her chest and says to me, “This is what you’ve been after, right?”

Bookended with the real possibility of acquiring the proof I’ve harangued about for months, the likelihood of losing my job and going to prison now looms large.

“Just so we’re clear,” my attention fixed on Jane when I say this, “this zap…Trump will feel it.  What’s your plan from there?”

Jane drums her fingers on the countertop and remains silent, as Cassie shouts, “A top hat! That’s how we get so close.  We put the nano sensors in a top hat.”

trump in top hat

Two hours later –

Jostled by the black cargo van’s lack of a decent suspension I bump back and forth between Cassie and Maria sitting across from three of Jane’s team members, men dressed in tuxedos. Also bouncing around with us is Cassie’s nano robot configured top hat.  It sits in a hat box at our feet.

Jane is behind the wheel and next to her in the passenger seat is a man, who has remained silent since our detour to pick him up.  I frame him as the overlord of this operation, and wonder who he is.

Finally, I tap him on his elbow.  “You aren’t with the government, are you?”

With a smile showing perfect teeth, he says, “They’re private contractors and you might call me, their investor.”

“Investor,” I repeat, grasping nothing in his answer.

“An investor in democracy,” he expands his previously cryptic reply.  “Donald Trump does not bleed red, white and blue.  I think you know that to be true.”

This causes me to shift forward in my seat, drawing closer to him.  “When you say ‘bleed’ you mean, him not bleeding tonight, of course.”

From behind the wheel, Jane turns slightly.  “Unless your top hat zap fries his brains and blood leaks from his ears then, no.  Blood would be a bad thing.”

Cassie rubs her hands nervously and Maria and I stare down at the hat box at our feet.

“Five minutes out,”  Jane says from the front.

The three men shift left and the one across from me pulls down a latch and a computer console slides out from its hiding place.  He squeezes Cassie’s fidgeting hands and nods his head toward the screen loading software.

Lucky for Cassie, I guess, although I’ve never wanted to learn code, and yet, I don’t have a burning desire to go into Trump’s Ball with Maria and the patriotic investor, either.

I console myself with the many ‘ifs’ at play.   All in the hands of Fate, or God, or Chance  it remains to be seen if the investor’s wiles and money will get us in.  If his inside man convinces Trump to wear the top hat.  If the photographer, also undercover and on our team, switches to his specialized equipment to sync with mine at the precise second.

After that, it’s up to me to hit the trigger.

Any of this leading to any success I put at twenty percent, at best, however;  if I do make it home tonight, instead of the more likely detour to prison, Maria has some explaining to do.  Until then, I’m at the Trump Ball wearing my best, ‘thrilled-to-be-here-at-the-end-of-the-world’ smile and literally towering over hundreds of short fat Republicans.

Bette_Verticle.2 bluegreen dress

Once again, Maria’s disappeared from my side, this time to chat up the likes of Sean Hannity. Finally, she reappears with two overflowing drinks of watery Bourbon.  “I hate that man.  He makes my skin crawl.”

“Thanks for drink, finally, but I could use ten more.”  I hiss through my plastered on smile.  “If another person asks me if I’m a ‘Melania relative’ I will fucking scream.”

Maria covers her mouth in surprise. “Oh my God!  I can actually see it!”

“Oh, please.”

“It’s gotta be the cleavage,”  she says, sneaking a look. “In that department you and The First Lady do kind of match.”

I gag on a sip of Bourbon. “And for the record, I had no idea their plan was for me to come in here!  Why am I not supervising off site, like in a lab, where I usually work!”

When out of the milling crowd the investor approaches, wearing his perfect smile.  “The ballroom is this way, ladies.”  He ushers us with his hand on Maria’s back.

A stage curtain parts and suddenly we’re in the belly of the beast, backstage with Bannon, Kellyanne and Priebus.

I feel a little vomit in my mouth.

The investor slides the rim of the black top hat between his fingers,  scanning the room for his inside man.

Maria nudges me and says, “When you’re ready the switch is hidden in your lipstick.”

“I know, I know, I know,”  I whisper back at her,  “I twist it the moment the hat sits on his head.”

The three men in tuxedos from the van appear close at my elbow.

Across the room the investor shakes the hand of a man in a stars and stripes bowtie.

President Trump puts his arm around a medium toned brown-skinned man, who looks like the sultan of some oil rich sands, and the photographer snaps their picture.

The man with the patriotic bowtie performs a hat trick with my robots inside, spinning the hat on its brim in the palm of his hand to get Trump’s attention.

“Nooooo!” I gasp at Maria, who pinches the bridge of her nose and seems to be praying.

Absurdly bowing, as if to his King, the inside man offers the fine top hat to Donald Trump.

The investor says, “Put the hat on Mr President.  It makes you look like Ronald Reagan.”

“A great, great man!  Very memorable man. Not as good an actor as I am though,”  Trump boasts, while pushing the hat down on his head, and I fire the trigger.

It was then, the President crumbled.

Caught first by the investor and then, by the Secret Service, Trump brushes everyone away, as if his dizziness were all fake and he was acting.

As Maria and I double-time it for the door, I wonder, not about the zap to Trump’s brain, but who’s got the hat with a hundred thousand dollars of my nanobots hidden inside?

open fig still life

Two hours later –

My heels and dress back in the closet, I button up a pair of jeans and pull a navy sweater over my head and walk into my den.  Maria, still in her evening clothes, sits on a leather couch sipping wine.

Standing behind her I massage her shoulders.  “Tell me what you think.  I get the feeling I’m either getting a call from them tomorrow, or I’m going to have to fight them to examine the scan.  What’s your take, since you know them so well?”

Relaxing more as I rub her shoulders, she lazily says, “I’m not what you’d call operational, Bette.  Sometimes I get intel back as a favor for a favor, but on where this is heading, and into whose hands, I have no clue.”

“That’s it?  The sum total of your knowledge of the I C world?”

“Just favors for favors for more secretive people.  They’re my ‘sources’ when their names can’t be mentioned in print.”

“Sources.”  I let that ferment in my barrel of questions before asking, “Did you play me for a bigger favor down the line?”

“Ouch!” she cries, when my grip on her shoulders digs in too much.

“Sorry, I thought you felt tense when you answered.”

She turns her head to look at me.  “Do you not recall that it was you, who first shot her mouth off and started all this?”  Her voice dropping back a notch.  “Now, because I’d thought you’d want me to, I did say that bringing you along would be valuable.”

She covers her yawn with her hand.   “You saw how they waited and waited until the last possible moment to pull this off.”

“Seriously, did you know, or not, that this was happening tonight?”

“Bette, honestly I’d thought they weren’t going operational with it.”

“You do realize you talk like one of them.”

“Baby, quit interrogating me and come sit down.”  She pats the leather cushion next to her.  “Come put your head in my lap and I’ll pour little sips of wine into your mouth and I promise I won’t spill a drop.”

“Interesting choice of words.”  With my fingers on her forehead I tilt her head back on the cushions, making her look up at me.  “Last question and then we’re done for the night.”

Her brow creases around my touch.  “Done?  What do you mean done?”

“Have you been seducing me all this time?  For the sole reason I might be valuable to you down the line?”

Her patience with me gone, her temper takes over.  She twists around and glares at me.  “Do I feel that way to you?  Traitorous?  Whorish?  Really?  You know what, Bette?  I should tell you to fuck off and leave right now.”

I leap around the couch to stop her.  “Maria, wait! I’m being paranoid and I’m very sorry.”

She glares at me, not yet mollified.

I continue,  “I’ll admit something you asked when we were riding.  My life was very different up until recently and I do hide out in barns on Saturdays.”

She settles back on the cushion, eyeing me.  “Which is why you smell the way you do.”

“Which you’ve said is good?” I ask hopefully.

She begins to smile.  “Which I’ve described as having a hint of animal.”

“Am I forgiven, then?”

“You have a long night ahead of you.”

“I’ll survive, but don’t move.”

A few minutes later –

Behind her again, I massage her shoulders, moving the cords of her muscles to relax.  She sighs and throws one arm over the back of the couch to touch me.  My left thigh she rubs and then over to my right, where her hand stops on a hard bulge that’s running down my leg.

“Oh!” She turns around in surprise. “Now, you show me who really are.”

I stroke myself.  “Yes,  from now on.”

She sits on her knees, watching me.   “My God!  You’re so fucking sexy this way.”

I lift her up from the couch.

Julianne Portrait blue blouse messy hair

Throwing the covers back from the bed, I press the lighting control on my bedside table and with another button, the gas fireplace comes alive with a soft whoosh.

She unzips her dress and falls back on my bed. “Don’t ask me how I found the time to buy lingerie for you.  Let’s just say, if you need a 24 hour sex shop there’s one in Adams Morgan.”

I kneel on the bed next to her and roll her stockings down her legs and kiss the inside of her thighs, sliding my fingers under the elastic of her new chocolate brown lace panties.  “Meaning you want to keep these on?” I cock my eyebrow up at her.

She laughs.  “What are you taking off?  And don’t say your sweater.”  She tugs and pulls it over my head, and our lips meet hungry for each other and she pulls me on top of her.

Breaking our kiss, she unbuttons my fly.  “My lover, show me this surprise of yours.”

I slide my pants down, while she tosses her panties sailing past my ear.

“Beautiful,” she says, as I lie back in the pillows and she takes me in with her eyes, “I’ve never seen such a creature as you.”

Kneeling over me,  she touches me as if for the first time. The palms of her hands caressing my shoulders and down my arms and over to my belly.  She brushes my cock with her lips and rubs me down my thighs.

Rolling me over, she rubs my upper back and down my spine and I feel her between my buttocks as she slides my leather strap to the side and fucks me with strokes of her fingers.

My heart is pounding when I reach for her.  ”I hope you know what you’ve done,”  I say,  covering my cock with gel, applying a slippery second skin.

She brushes her small patch of red hair against me,  her eyes changing from temptation into want.

”Take me slowly, Baby,” she says, opening herself to me, guiding me inside.

”Very slowly,” I say, not wanting to at all.


Stayed tuned for Chapter 6!

Drop a comment if you liked the story.


C O U N T D O W N – Carnal Pursuits #4

Inauguration Day

January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

Northern Virginia –

Nightingale’s best friend, a silver dappled Morgan named Dev, belongs to a big-hearted East Indian woman, also a doctor, who thankfully shortened her traditional Hindu name to simply, Pat.  Her whole family, she had told me on the phone earlier in the week, was concerned for their safety. “Being brown in America these days is frightening, Bette.  My son came home from school last week beaten and his backpack in pieces.  Some fool thought he was carrying a bomb!  Please take Dev out for a ride. I’m not leaving home on Inauguration Day.”

Other riders must’ve made similar decisions, because the barn is atypically empty for a Saturday.  Normally, horse owners arrive by eight and by nine the air is filled with clouds of dust from brushing.  Farriers are usually here trimming hooves and fitting horses for new shoes. Saddles and tack are being soaped and oiled, or buckled onto mounts ready to stretch their legs, but not today.

It’s eerily quiet at this end of the barn, where I saddle the horses and hum as an antidote for my own Inauguration Day blues.  I try but fail at remembering more than two verses of any song.  If I’m honest, there’s a dull aching at the base of my neck and an anxiousness that is humping me like a feral dog.

All of this, very strange for me. Life and its attendant attractions going haywire doesn’t usually make me nervous.  Pissed off too quickly?  Yes. Those damn agents who wasted my time the other day absolutely irritated me, however; as a surgeon, I’m trained to keep a steady calm under pressure. But I’m no help to myself today.  I should go home and draw a hot bath and commence drinking  immediately, but Maria’s on her way.

Soon.  It should be soon.

Leaning back against the warmth of Nightingale’s flanks, I wonder how I would conduct a research study into the disruption of the psycho-neural patterning of Trump supporters. His rallies had enraged people, unleashing a public vulgarity in them that no person in their right mind would participate in yet, too many had costumed themselves as Hillary Haters and had screamed for her blood.

Was their mass indoctrination temporary?  Were they possessed only while in a crowd? Have significant numbers of Trump voters turned down their fever pitched outrage dials and reverted back to an uneasy state of dissatisfaction?  For months the poll number of undecided voters had hovered around 20%…until the Russian cyber attacks began.

If Wikileaks had been done by a four hundred pound man lying on a bed in a basement somewhere, as Donald Trump had claimed then, it followed in my mind at least, this so-called somewhere had many rooms filled to capacity with these big fat hackers, all experts at weaponizing  mass propaganda.

“And the rest is history, Nightingale.” I rouse out of my inner musings and voice my disquieting thoughts to the horse, “The Great American Mind Fuck has happened.”

Leaving the barn in search of my cell phone locked inside my car, I consider how to phrase this idea of launching a study to my medical assistant, Cassie.  When I step from behind a horse trailer, I collide right into Maria.

Long English boots with jeans tucked in and a short-waisted, but warm winter coat, she resembles the woman from Room 303, but with clothes on.

I beam a thousand watt smile at her and she falls into my arms, “Oh! God!” she cries into my jacket. “I lost it  three times on the way over here.  Four, if your barn hadn’t appeared when it did.”

“Baby, baby…”  I squeeze her tighter.

“Being on set, watching the inauguration on big screens along with a panel of commentators, I had to keep a TV face, but I wanted to scream.  I believe a few others did, too.”

“Jesus, I could never do your job.”

Which she takes as a reason to kiss me.  “Hm,” she says softly when leaving my lips. “Definitely stick with the job of kissing me.  You wouldn’t like being a pundit.”

With my arm around her shoulder and hers looped around my waist we walk from the parking lot into the barn.

“Where is everybody?” She spins around on the heel of one boot before stopping in front of Dev and softly rubbing his nose.  “Bette, he smells a little like you did…” she trails her hand down the horse’s neck.   “…the night we met.”

“Fresh off the trail might be another way to put it.”   I loop the reins over Dev’s head and lengthen out her stirrup leather. ”

She crooks her leg for me to push her up into the saddle.  “No, you had a definite animal scent.  It’s how I think of you now.”

I swing up into my saddle and we trot out into the snowy field that borders the riding ring.

“When I discovered the note from your friend stuck in my pocket.  I was standing right there.”  I point to where she’s riding.  “Tabard Inn Room 303 10 pm,” I recite the message that propelled me around Dupont Circle and eventually into her arms.

She shakes out her long red hair and calls over to me, “Bette!  You’re saving my life this afternoon.  If I were in Washington I’d be headed for an afternoon of misery drinking with other depressed media types.”  She looks up at the heavens and shouts, “Oh my God!  Thank you for saving me from that!”

“Maybe for you, but I’m planning on a little drinking today.” I slide my silver flask out of my saddlebag and take a sip.  “I had this interesting thought about the Russian hack.  Right before you got here.”

She motions for the flask then, wipes her lips with the back of her glove.   “But Bette, why aren’t you seeing someone?  I mean this seriously.  Forget about the Russians for a minute.”

I adjust in my saddle and send her a ‘please get serious’ kind of look.  “I’m counting you as a someone.”  And hearing myself say it, I know it’s true.

“What about women in Maryland or D.C.?”

“You’re kidding right?” I blow out a laugh of disbelief.   “Why can’t you believe I’m single?”

“No, I’m not kidding.” Her hand sweeps me up and down.  “Who is this hot brain surgeon,  hiding out in a Virginia barn?  Off everyone I know’s radar.”

“Checking up on me?”  I flash her a sexy smile.

“More like checking out.”  Which she follows with a furrowed frown. “See nobody I know,  knows you and I find that strange.  Not even a whiff of a mention. So, have you been married all this time or living with someone?  What. Is. Your. Story?”

“You’ve known doctors before so, I’m sure you realize that when doctors develop specialties they tend to get more and more additional training and that takes time.”

She barks a laugh at my expense.  “Bette!  Are you trying to sound like the most boring woman in the world?”

“Maybe I am boring.  I have no idea!  If you’re not interested in horses or people’s brains then, perhaps I am.  I have one more thing though: I also retain a lot of info about rocks…I loved them as child.  Geology as a whole.  You can ask me anything.”

“Well,” she sighs, but not in a good way.  “I wouldn’t know the first question to ask about rocks.”  She pauses and looks up to the sky for inspiration.  “I can include minerals, too, I suppose?”

“It sounded stupid the minute I said it.”

“Baby, you know I came down here for an evening with you.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it you who’s been flirting with me on the phone all week?  Coming at me kinda hard?”

“I confess being taken with you.”  Twisting in my saddle I lean over to her,  “But the topic of ex’s?  Is that a good place to start?”

“You’re right.  I did my get-the-scoop on you bit.  We’ll start again.  Where’d you grow up? Favorite places.  That kind of thing.”

“Let’s see, I had a great mother, who was an architect and child of the 60s.  Who also shocked her parents by marrying my father, a black man.”  I lean back in my saddle thinking back on the many stories she shared of her troubles.

“But then I came along, and both sets of grandparents couldn’t get enough of me so, everybody had to get over their prejudices in a hurry, and we were a pretty cool family. All things considered.”

“Well, my dad was a Scotch Irishman and gave me all these freckles.  He came from a big family of pitifully poor Irish, who’d made their way to America.  My mom lives in California.  Drinking took him.  She has or had – she’s nearly seventy now – red hair like mine.”

She leans into Dev’s mane, as if needing to hold onto something, before telling the next part.

“We lived in a dump in Boston, a neighborhood along with the rest of the Irish Catholics there.  Damn place was always wet and cold.”  She shivers thinking about it.  “I don’t know why I started with my family.  It’s not my favorite subject.”

A tear slips from her eye, before she flicks it away.  “Tsst!” is the sound of her dismissal, which jerks both our horses heads up, as she waves her emotions away. “I should be tougher at this point.  I know I should.  Sometimes I feel it everyday.”

I guide us along a trail through a forest, where we weave close between the trees and the clinking chains on our horses’ bridals sound like ringing to me, dampened only slightly by the snow.

I loosen Nightingale’s reins as we enter an open field with an abandoned cabin used in the winter to store firewood and hay.

“How ’bout we get out of the wind for a few minutes?”  I slide off Nightingale and tie his reins to the porch railing.  “I have a little picnic, plus some more whiskey and – if it’s not too boring for you – I’ve got a research idea I wanna run by you, but it could get complicated.”

She stands in the doorway of the dusty cabin refusing to enter.  “An experiment inside a freezing cold shack?”

Using a pile of kindling stacked by the old fireplace I make a fire. “I’ve ridden by here a hundred times and never once peeked inside.”

She leans into the warmth of the flames and taking off her gloves she rubs her hands briskly together. “This isn’t so bad.  What experiment?”  she asks,  placing her warm hands on my cold cheeks.

“That feels good, Maria.”  I lean in for a kiss, but she stops me with a finger to my lips.

“The note that brought you to my room at the Tabard Inn, there was a message I was to pass along if you showed.”

“Then why was I summoned there!?”  My volume suddenly rising. “Because for most of my drive home I was certain you were a spy working undercover as a journalist and the whole evening had been a trap.”

Her face, a mask frozen in quizzical shock, she repeats my accusation, “So, you think you fucked a spy the other night?”

I shove my hands deep into my pockets and glare at her for a moment.  “As I was saying, the sex had to be for blackmailing me, the neurosurgeon who wouldn’t keep quiet about Donald Trump being dangerously deranged.”

“Blackmail, huh?  And me, as the black widow luring you into a trap?!  Bette, you really should record a podcast in your spare time.”

“Spare time is with him.”  I cock my thumb back towards where we tied the horses.  “But the longer I drove, the more I considered how I did have a bad hangover and zero sleep so, I began by diagnosing my state of paranoia, and that I believed…no, I feared it really, that it wasn’t possible you could actually be…”

She smiles and reaches into the saddlebag for the whiskey and takes a sip.  “Be what?  Instantly into you?  That doesn’t happen often and you’ll just have to trust me on that.   Not since my twenties, and please don’t ask for their names, because I’ve forgotten them in a blur of that one year of college, when I was certain I was having a nervous breakdown.”

“A real nervous breakdown?  Or a final exams nervous breakdown?”

She stares at me and shrugs her shoulders.

My next question is tinged with suspicion. “Okay,…well,….years later then, I’d like to hope, believe really, that I’m an exception and you don’t fuck everybody you pass or don’t pass messages to within the first two hours of meeting them.”

“Bette, I’m virginal when I’m in Washington, a city of the worst gossips on earth!  It’d be career suicide if I weren’t.”

Time to believe her temptress nature is mostly under wraps, or not.  “I’ll never forget the dress you were wearing, but Baby, you had me at Burning Man.  I’ve always wanted to do something like that.”

At this idea she lets loose a playful laugh.  “Doctor Porter, I’m definitely your guide to Burning Man, but back to your earlier fantasy of me, am I a Russian spy or one of us?”

“American,” I whisper down her neck, “which gave me some comfort, but I’m certain we’re cruel, too.”

Coy and biting her bottom lip, she pulls my shirt tails out and runs her nails up my back. “Even with suspicions of how dangerous I might be, Doctor Porter, you still invited me here.”

“Do that harder and something will happen.”

With a quick intake of her breath she opens her mouth to my kiss.

Minutes pass under an ocean wave of losing ourselves in each other, when she breaks our kiss and says, “Bette, the fire needs more wood.”

Squatting down and pitching logs onto the flames I see her pulling her riding boots back on after pulling her blue jeans off.  I toss the last log on, as she turns to warm her bare bottom next to me.

The firelight plays on her loins as she brushes her fingers over her small triangle patch of red hair and in the next moment, I’m tasting her.  Warm and slightly salty.

“You’ve been too far away from my body…all week long,” she mummers to me.

I slip my coat off my shoulders and lay it on the floor in front of the fire.  “You are so beautiful,” I whisper to her, before taking her again with the licks of my tongue.

She reaches for my hand and guides me under her blouse to feel her twisting her nipple.  I pinch it a few times, hard then soft, and leave a wet trail from my tongue licking up her belly to her breasts.   She pops open the bra clasp between them,”I love you here, too,” she says with a purr at the back of her throat.  “In carnal pursuit…Bette, that’s the perfect description of you.”

I whisper to her, “And you are my seductress.”

She pulls me up from her breast by the chin – to almost kissing her lips.  “You mean like this?  You touch my lips and you have to take it all.”


Stay tuned for Chapter 5.  I hope you’ll leave a comment in the box below.

All for now,




C O U N T D O W N – Redheads (The Effect of) Chapter 3

Redheads, (The Effect of)

January 16, 2017 – after midnight

Four days until inauguration –

Up from what feels like an underwater sleep, I roll over toward the sound of her whispering.

“Bette,” she says again.  Under the glow of another century, she’s draped across a chaise longue, almost nude except for heels, almost close enough to touch, but not quite.

Lazily I answer – not the Jesus Christ! I think to myself – but instead, “You look so…comfortable, sweetheart.”

“Very.”  She turns her body slightly, showing me her breasts. “I’ve been watching you sleep,” she says.

“Maybe a little unnerving,” I confess, while toying with the sheet that’s covering me, while edging into a different game with her.

“Would you like to watch me?”  She rolls on her side and cradles one of her breasts before twisting her nipple hard.

“Dear God!”  Blows out of me and I reach for a leftover glass of Scotch on the bedside table. “I may get drunk all over again.”

“Earlier, there was a different kind of craving.”  She circles and circles her nipples. “Do you deny it?”

“Ah….no, I’ll admit that.”

“I caught a glimpse of you.”  She leans forward on the chaise, her breasts disappearing from sight. “Something hidden.”

I lift up my sheet and show her the scratch marks she left on my back.  “Not hidden, very real.”

“You brought that on yourself, or do you disagree?”

“Disagree?”  I ache with the recent memory.

“With the pain?” Her quixotic smile lingers, while her hand moves to caressing her buttocks, before disappearing between her legs.

I close my eyes and the fantasies I’ve had for months about her begin to flash in small explosions inside my brain.

She interrupts my sexual reverie, “No, no.  It’s not allowed to look away.”

“You need to come over here.”  With a pleading look, I motion her to bed.

Instead, she sits across from me and opens her legs a little wider, a little wider…the longer I stare.  When her pink folds appear, I drop the Scotch on the table.

She traces her finger across herself. “This is what you want, baby?”

Tossing aside the sheet I point to my lips.  “Come sit here.  I have an idea for you.”

My hands on her waist, her knees beside my shoulders, I bury the tip of my nose in a perfect V of red hair and inhale her.

Her fingers lightly scratch me down my neck.  “So good,” she moans, when I twist my tongue inside her.

Changing positions, I kneel behind her perfect round buttocks, sending a long lick up her spine. “This way?”

“Yes, Baby, fuck me.”

We fold our bodies together, her hands pressing against the headboard banging into the wall.

Rings of muscles grab along my fingers,  a pulse expands at my fingertips, a blush of red appears, rippling up the white skin covering her spine.

Moments absorb the scents of sex, time becomes the intake of our breaths. I touch myself, while thrusting my hips.

My arousal climbing faster with hers.

As we crest over elongating waves of ecstasy, her hands slide down the headboard and the pillows muffle her screams.


Twenty minutes later –

Her head on my shoulder, her leg crossed over me, she pulls me closer, kissing me slowly, before finally whispering into my ear, “I invited you here just to talk.”

“Hm.” I float down from the ceiling to focus on her words. “Surely not now.”

“Saturday a terrible mistake will happen.”

“There’s a fallen tree in the forest.  I’m riding out there Saturday to stick my head in its hole.”

“My television gig ends at two.”

“You should come down to Virginia.”

“What do you ride?”

“A black horse named Nightingale.”


Madison Neurological Research Center

Three days later –

Friday afternoon – one day until inauguration

Cassie and I are finishing up the surgery on the woman, who after a car crash lost her ability to speak and the use of her legs. It’s taken hours to relieve her brain edema and rebuild the nerve damage impeding her lower movement.  “Nurse, please test the feeling response in her feet.”

At the other end of the operating table I see the sheet wiggle.  “One more, this one up her calves.”

Before I close up the incision in her back I study the scans of her spinal damage.  I’ve rebuilt the tiny tears of her nerves on her left side with implanted nanorobots snug inside the section that threads through her spine.  Cassie marked seventeen tiny nerve tears on the film.  After each repair I’ve made, she’s checked them off.   Even still I study them further, before I close my patient up.

“Do you see something else, Doctor” Cassie also leans into the screen.

“Not yet, but always good to check again.”

Cassie changes the image filter settings to eliminate her notations.  Noses to the screen we go over every inch of the films one more time.  Even dead tired on your feet, I believe this last step is vital for a surgeon.

Finally, I’m satisfied.  “We’ve gotten them all and I don’t see anything we missed.  Good job everybody!”

The OR fills with a welcome, “whoop! whooping!” of congratulations.  Turning back to the patient I add as a note to Cassie, “She may need speech therapy, there’s really no way to tell until she wakes up.”

“Should I schedule Dr. Saruk?”  Cassie asks.

“He’s here on Friday?”

Cassie leans over to her iPhone stashed outside the clean zone.  “Siri can you help me?”

Siri answers, “What can I help you with today, Cassie?”

“Check Dr. Saruk’s schedule for January nineteen two thousand and seventeen.”

“Getting that for you now,” Siri replies.  “Dr. Saruk’s schedule for January nineteen two thousand and seventeen is: eight am drop Radha at school; 9 am racquetball with Stan; 11 am …”

“Good Lord!” I cry out, “If it says, “massage and sauna at eleven” I’m changing specialties!”

“…three pm hospital rounds, four pm…”

Cassie says, “Stop Siri.”

The OR clock reads a little after two.  “Even if I didn’t need him, I’d still want his ass in here!”

“I’ll take care of it right away, Doctor.”

I shake my head at my temper.  “I’m sorry at my outburst, everyone.”  I focus back on my patient closing her open incisions with expert stitching.


Walking into my office my cell phone rings on my desk.  Maria.  A smile spreads across my face when I answer.

“Well, hello!”

“Hello back.  How’ve you been?”

“Oh, the usual, brain surgery, you know.”

“Ah!  So, nothing life or death, I take it.”

I drop a stack of medical files on my desk.  “Just another day, are you still in Chicago?”

“Yes, I’m at O’hare as we speak.”

“Who’s show are you on tonight?  I’ll be sure to watch.”

“Lawrence’s people booked me then, called an hour ago saying one of their guests had to cancel so, they asked me to fill two blocks.  I think I know who it is…Bette, reporters close to this are having a hard time.”

“Meaning the other guest is drunk?  Describe, hard time.”

“No, the report I heard is she’s sobbing in the women’s bathroom at the Hart Building and won’t come out.”

Despite how pitiful it sounds I sympathize.  “Trust me.  I understand her desire to curl up in a ball.”

“Oh…?” Comes the dangling question nearly drowned out by O’Hare’s PA naming flights being called for boarding.

“Dreading it, but I’m functioning.  I repaired a spine an hour ago.  So, I’m dealing.”

“But…we’re still on for tomorrow, right?”

“Oh God!  Of course!  It’s the glue holding me together.”

“So, no pressure then!”

“No, I’m kidding about being a complete wreck.  Ninety percent of the time I’m concentrating on  something else.”

“And the other ten percent?”

Leaning back against my desk I realize what she wants. In my sexiest voice I say, “Baby, you heard me wrong.  I said, thirty percent of the time I’m concentrating on brain surgery and the other seventy percent I’m dreaming of you.”

“Aw, you did catch me.  I’ve been thinking about you, too.”

“I guess I shouldn’t presume, because I noticed you changed your pinned tweet to,  “OMG! Doom is upon us!” that you still expect to be alive tomorrow night and you’ll stay over?”

“Spend Saturday night with you?  Had you invited me?”

With my smoky voice again,  “Sweetheart, after we ride will you spend the night?”

“Will you come to the Women’s March with me on Sunday?”

“Already got my costume figured out.”

“Oh!  You’re into it!  Great!”

“Not wearing a pink pussy hat though.  I’ve got a brain cap-like gizmo that once was a teaching model.”

“That’s what you’re wearing to the Women’s March?” In the background blares the terminal PA.

“Maria, I can barely hear you.”

“Baby, they’re calling my flight to D.C.”

“Safe travels.  Wink at me on TV.”

“You know I can’t do that!  They’d fire me!  Watch for it though, I’ll give you a very showy hair flip, after I say something clever…just for you.”

“Even though five million other people will hear it?”

“Who am I riding horses with and having dinner with on Saturday?”

“Me.  I’ll watch for it.”


I made it to the florist three minutes before she closed and I’ve been much too preoccupied placing and then rearranging roses around my bedroom.  This!  A whole day before she arrives!  I wasn’t kidding earlier about my desire to curl up into a shrieking ball of terror, as if zombies were at my door and I was all out of bullets.

Love makes me nervous!  The thought of it makes me compulsive.

We’ve all had them.  Tension flings.  The night before a big medical convention speech – the perfect time to have sex with a stranger from some far off part of America.

Actually, Maria and I began as a tension fling.  More precisely, after a kidnap situation that had unnerved me.  Jesus, I’m forty-three.  A sleepover date?  I’m out of practice.  Everything changes, absolutely everything.

What else does this room need?

I wander down the hallway to the closet in search of candles.

I’m paying more attention to Lawrence’s program than I am to preparing my dinner on my stove.  He’s doing a re-cap of all the media’s missteps that allowed Donald Trump’s constant haranguing about Clinton’s emails to turn many writers and TV journalists to act like stupid ducks and fall in step with his mania.  That’s when I started really paying attention to his brain malfunctions.  Why did no one else?  The question of the hour.  How did this happen?  How the fuck did this happen?

Lawrence describes his next segment after the break will feature Maria Donovan and David Corne, so stayed tuned for more.


I freeze the screen when she appears.  My God, she’s beautiful and naughty and then,  it hits me:  I have no idea where she’s from, and did her parents love her?  Brothers?  Sisters?

What college did she go to, has she ever been married, is she even gay?

That last one stops me.

More and more I wonder about the ridiculousness of labels.  If last week she thought of herself as straight but leaning; last week I had my sexual juju humming at exactly zero.  So, everything changes.

I turn the pot down under the rice and press the remote to listen to her commentary.

“Lawrence, we were just looking at those clips of Michael Moore’s rally coming out of New York tonight, and there’s dozens of them all over the country on the eve of Trump’s inauguration.  We’re all seeing something we haven’t seen since the 70s, and it’s heading straight toward this presidency.

“A presidency based on whatever flies in front of the man’s face.  Policy in two seconds!”  She snaps her fingers.  “And his old favorite, of course,  the five billion dollar border wall that Congress will never let out of appropriations.”

Lawrence says, “And Mexico, of course, knows this.  But about this team of advisors he has around him.  They’re people no one’s ever heard of before.  I mean, I’ve heard of one or two of them, but they would be at the bottom, I mean at the very bottom of anyone’s list of choices, and yet, here they are.”

“I have a suggestion, Lawrence.  It’s part of my stress management.  I watch MARVEL comic action flicks.  They’re full of power hungry Luddites and crazy men.”  She gives her hair a flip,  “And they step on their _______, a word I can’t say on cable news, and fail miserably.”

“So your advice for us tonight is: watch TV and hope for super heros?”

She’s full screen again and there’s a dimple in her smile I hadn’t noticed before.  And here’s another hair flip.  ”Hey!  What can I say?  I believe she’s out there!”

I admit it.  I’m smitten.




Stay tuned for Chapter 4.




C O U N T D O W N: Missing Hours – Chapter Two

(If you’re just joining the story, Chapter One – Dr. Porter is here )

Dateline:  January 15, 2017

Five Days Until Inauguration Day

Chapter Two – Missing Hours

My missing hours have become a meditation exercise.

I’m staring at a doorknob.  Staring deeply at a doorknob.  I’m entering a spiral, going deeper into the spiral, following my breath…to escape my anger that’s been simmering for hours.


This doorknob has real meaning for me.  It is the doorknob on a closed door that I want to throw open.  Turning that knob would lead me to freedom and drop the curtain on this bad piece of  theater –starring the intercept team in dark suits — and this exasperating interlude would end.

I don’t consider myself a naive person.  So, how did this happen?

Days ago, I’d whispered into a comatose combat veteran’s ear that Donald Trump was crazy and I had some answers for the right people who wanted to get serious about this bullshit.  Did I expect anyone to show up?

No.  Never.

But they had shown up and I had taken them seriously.

During the drive over to the house with the doorknob I’d worked out a clear meeting agenda in my head.  Using the Socratic Method applied to the subject of brain science, I’d created a step by step process for people unfamiliar with neurology to follow. I had believed I was in possession of the golden keys to this meeting.

Standing before them in the main room of what I can only guess would be called a Safe House – a place for stashing people of interest until the heat has died down – I had delivered the following opening statement, but not in one of my power suits, not in one of my pristine lab coats, but in my riding attire of knee high boots and jodhpurs.  The team had nabbed me at my office after I’d returned from the barn.

During my presentation the agents had sat on a sofa and chairs and were dressed in nearly identical dark business suits.  Before beginning my statement, I’d decided not to mention how the swarm identity they were exhibiting would likely led them straight to Groupthink whenever considering a case together.  Their cognitive problems would have to come later.  We had national security issues to tackle first, and so, I had begun.

“President-elect Donald Trump’s non compos mentis exhibits as a psychosis.  Signs of this as being true are observable and well documented. Here is a list of behaviors that should be setting off alarm bells that America is on the brink of violating its Constitution.  Up until this moment, I had believed these catastrophic signals had been falling upon deaf ears.  This I’d found disturbing and increasingly odd.  Five days out from inauguration, I’m grateful to share them with you.

“First, Donald Trump is a compulsive liar.  Second, he experiences events by way of interpreting them through his hallucinations that he believes are real. Third, his mental derangements, his inability to recall events as they truly occurred minutes, hours or days before, is an acute form of psychosis.”

Then I had sat down, brushed a bit of horse hair off my jacket, crossed my legs and had waited for them to spring into action.

But that’s not what had happened and we are still sitting here.

The missing hours…

I hear the rustling of clothing off to my left and I tense at what I suspect will be another question that challenges my patience. Is it possible they believe the laws of science could have changed in these last hours?  That the facts of neurology will be different and by waiting they’ll get a different set of answers out of me?

When the rustling stops I turn my attention from the doorknob to a man in a suit who asks, “What medical proof do you have Dr Porter that President-elect Trump’s mentally impaired?”

“That’s a great question, as I’ve said the last twenty times you’ve asked it, and I’ll repeat for the twenty-first time my answer that your use of the word “impaired” slights the seriousness of his mental illness.  Please correctly state his condition as mental derangement. Mental impairment implies that you believe Trump suffers from something like a concussion.  A condition that will pass over time. I’ve stated the exact opposite of that. Donald Trump’s behavior will not reestablish itself back into any reliable state of equilibrium.  Why?  Because his delusional behavior instead presents as a persistent peaking effect of his mental psychosis.  Which means, Donald Trump spends more time in delusions than he does in reality.”

The man in suit continues, “So, you have no proof, just theories.”

I shoot back, “Are you confused perhaps about how theory is applied to research?  I’m not using the term theory in the way a man like yourself might dream up a “theory” — that if you get a burner phone and only call your mistress on it your wife will never find out you’re having an affair.  You could mistakenly call that a theory, but you’d be using the word incorrectly, and using it to assuage your guilt, whereby further giving yourself permission to cheat on your wife.  In that case, what you’re using is not a theory at all, but a flawed strategy of deceit.”

I must’ve hit a nerve because Agent 2 storms out of the room and another man clears his throat to regain the floor,  “How do you develop your theories Doctor Porter?”

But I’m still having fun mind-fucking Agent 2 so I shout,  “If you’d asked me I could’ve plotted with mathematical certainty if you’d get caught cheating.”  I cup my hands around my mouth in a mini megaphone. “FYI!  The key is plugging in more variables than a stupid burner phone.”

“I believe you’ve drilled in your point, Doctor Porter.”

“Have I?  Good.  Because I’m ready to leave.”

“Not yet.”

“Look, unlike a cut on your finger, or a broken bone that will heal, the human brain does not work that way.  The brain is not a bone-knitting type healer for itself.  It’s a complicated organ.  It has many regions that are constantly doing automatic things, like breathing and beating your heart and creating fluctuations in your body’s endocrine system.  The brain does other things, such as, comprehension tasks, as in seeing what’s right in front of you.  If it’s healthy it sees what’s actually there.  If it’s Trump’s brain it filters real time as a mass hallucination.”

I pause for effect, because this is the most serious problem the President-elect has, whereby making it the most serious problem we all have.  “Let me ask you a question.  When everyone watches the same thing, a replay of a video clip for instance, do we see what Donald Trump says he sees?  No we do not.”

“What’s the endocring system?”  This is his lame follow up.

“E N D O C R I N E system, with an e.  Goddammit! I should fucking bill you people at this point for being so stupid and wasting my time!  If I knew where to send an invoice I absolutely would.  Give me your business card, please.”

I lean over snapping my fingers together and opening my hand for someone’s business card.  “It would be for $800 by the way.  I’m four hundred an hour, when not in surgery.  You, and Agents 1 through 5, need to sharpen up, because I’m leaving here in five minutes. Non-negotiable.”

Then the only woman on their team takes over.  “Okay, Doctor Porter, we realize you’re a specialist with years of experience and training.”

She’s the one who coaxed me into the car to begin with.

“I will kick right through that door with these boots.  I hope you’re hearing me.”

“I’m hearing you.”  She nods and sends me – what must pass for an sympathetic look in the intelligence community – a softening of her eyes that only makes her look sleepy.


“Then pay closer attention because this is my last lesson on the subject of the deterioration of cognitive function.”  I lean forward and tick off the issues to make my point.  “Is one lie a symptom of deterioration?” I hold up one finger.  “The answer would be no.  Are five Trump lies a symptom of a something being off cognitively?” I hold five fingers up. “How about a hundred?  Or a thousand?”

At this point I’m feeling deranged.

“Are conspiracy theories a symptom of psychosis? Is bullying and incessant ridicule a sign of mental trouble?  Is threatening people?  How about sexually assaulting women and kidding about it?  Is that troubling enough for you?”

“People who know him say that’s his personality.  He’s a bullying-type of guy.  I don’t see how that can be proof of mental instability.”

“To you hurting people intentionally is a sign of mental stability?”

“I did not say that.”

“But you did just say that!  You dismiss every symptom I point out  as non-problematic for a world leader to possess.  Otherwise you would get on the phone and begin,  what I would hope would be, a rapidly escalating series of steps to stop Trump from taking office!”

Then I stop shouting and my tone becomes lighter.  “Look, we’re not talking about just any “Crazy Joe” sitting on a park bench talking to invisible pigeons.  Delusions, ideas of impossible grandiosity, lying as second nature…these are symptoms, no Goddammit, they are proof that he’s mentally deranged.”

At this point she glances at the man sitting next to her on the couch, but I can’t read what’s exchanged quickly between them.

I lean forward to focus their attention back on me.  “My last point as it pertains to his delusions.  Have you heard any strange and grandiose ideas about building a two thousand mile long border wall?”

None of the agents will look me in the eyes.  They stare everywhere but at me.

“Please just bring him over to where I work, or I’ll meet you at Walter Reed and take some blood samples, do a CT scan and run him through the MRI.”

“That’s just not going to happen today.”  She stands up, as my signal I can leave.

Did I sense a feeling of regret in her voice?

“You know, Agent 4, reality should not have to grasped at, as if it were a balloon floating away from you.”  I knock the side of my head to make my point.  “Reality should already be firmly in here by the age of three.”



Even though I saw him earlier, I drive back to the barn to see Nightingale.  I really don’t want to talk to anymore humans today, in fact, the thought of a human voice feels like shattered glass cutting into my skin.  I need the smell and nustling of my horse.

I slip his halter over his nose and fasten it behind his ears and with a lead rope I guide him out of his stall and down the centerline of the stable.  He blows out a long exhale and makes significant snorts, as one by one the other horses in the barn extend their heads and necks out over their stall doors and snort back as we pass.

Nightingale and I clop along the frost covered path that encircles the riding ring.  It’s dark, nearly 7pm, and there’s not another human soul in sight. I may walk in circles with no destination for hours just followed by my horse. I have serious thinking to do, but no wish to concentrate on any of it.

I halt our forward movement and throw my arms around Nightingale’s neck.  I almost feel like weeping, as I bury myself in his mane and muscle, when out of the blue the, “OMG! We’re all going to die!” pinned tweet of the sexy TV pundit swims up in my mind and I groan instead.  Partly out of sexual frustration and admitting it to myself.

If I had married I would’ve been divorced six times over by now.  I am, so they say, not easy to get along with on a long term basis.  I’m brilliant for a year, and then I get bored.  The women may look even better than when I began dating them.  It’s just that I like silence much more than I enjoy constant engagement.  This makes me an odd combination of being professionally extroverted, and when in the mood, sexually aggressive in pursuit, but also possessing the anomalous traits of a social outlier.

Thus the horse, the empty bed and no dates on the books.

I reach in my pocket for the apple I brought for Nightingale and up with it comes a crumpled note stuck to its peel.


Navigating through the wide curves around Dupont Circle I turn onto N St and miraculously find a parking space near the Tabard Inn.  An hour ago I was certain I wanted to be left alone, but the invitation, coming as it did, secreted to me in my jacket pocket, spurred me onto the interstate and straight into Washington, D.C.  Had the mysterious note been an invitation to meet in a suite at the new Trump hotel, I would still be walking around in circles.

Taking two steps at time up the stairway I’m surprised to see The Tabard Inn’s quaint lobby empty, with not even a desk clerk in sight.  Then I remember, of course, in the days ahead of the upcoming inauguration of our puppet president every Democrat with any means has bolted from Washington.

Standing in front of Room 303, it opens after I knock lightly, and I’m met first, by the scent of perfume and then, this woman appears in front of me.

The TV pundit, who never wears this kind of dress on air.  I can barely tear my eyes from her plunging neckline.

“I recognize you, which makes me wonder if I have the right room?”  Saying this, I reluctantly lift my eyes to look into hers, that crinkle at their sides as she steps backwards and ushers me through the door.

In the rear of the room I spot the woman intelligence officer, who’s quickly gathering her keys and phone off the top of a table and brushing past me she whispers, “I thought you two should meet.”

And then, she’s gone like a puff of smoke and the door clicks closed behind her.

“May I offer you a drink?”  Asks the TV pundit.  “My name’s Maria and you are, of course, Doctor Porter.”

I practically dive at the bar while insisting that she call me, Bette.

“Did you come from fox hunting or something?”  She illustrates with a sweep of her hand over my riding clothes.  “Nice boots.”

“You don’t hunt foxes at night on horseback.”  I swallow an inch of Scotch in one gulp.  “May I fix you something?”

“What you’re having is fine.”

I turn back to the bar and catch my reflection in a mirror.  My hair seems to be having an electrical reaction to meeting her and has taken upon itself to curl even wilder.  I run my hands through it in a vain attempt to look normal, and then pick up our drinks to join her.

“I’ve seen you on television, many times.  You’re smart and so amusing.”

“I looked you up on the internet.”

I lean back in my chair trying my best to look relaxed.  “That must’ve been dull going.”

She laughs and says, “No, not at all, but I’ll admit to not understanding much in a recent speech of yours.”

I look puzzled.

“I watched the talk you gave in San Francisco on YouTube.”  She opens a reporter’s notebook I hadn’t noticed before, and flipping through a few pages she stops and reads, “Moyamoya Disease Explored Through RNF213.”

“Yes, that would be a confusing topic.  Please don’t ask me to explain it to you.  I’ve had quite a day.”

“So I’ve heard.”  She sips her Scotch and smiles at me.

“Are you married?”  I hear myself asking without meaning to.  God Lord!  Where is my filter?

She looks puzzled but quickly answers, “No, are you?”  Her question ending with a delightful lilting laugh.

“I don’t know why I said that,” I confess.  “I haven’t had dinner, or lunch for that matter.”

“Let’s order something, Bette Porter.  What would you like?”

“Poached salmon, asparagus with hollandaise and french fries. You?”

“I’ve had dinner already so,…I’m thinking of dessert.  Do you like chocolate?”  She asks while dialing for Room Service.”

It didn’t take long after dinner, wine and more Scotch to find ourselves, with her shoes my boots off, leaning back against the Tabard Inn’s headboard and talking about everything, but Donald Trump.

At one point during dinner, when she had slipped french fry after french fry off my plate, I’d brought up the topic of his hallucinations, which we talked about in some depth, but soon the topic drunkenly drifted, as things do, to her telling me a story about dropping ecstasy at Burning Man last summer.



I had stared into her eyes as she described her out of body experience of joining with a ring of naked dancers around a bonfire that had at its center — a forty foot high effigy of Donald Trump engulfed in flames.

Now we’re leaning back against the pillows, and she’s telling me more extraordinary things that happened to her at Burning Man, until finally looking over at her I cannot stop my desire of falling lips first into her cleavage.

I watch her taking a sip of red wine and then lightly licking a droplet away from the top of her lip.

“I need to tell you something.”  I say very softly while my hand slides inside her dress and finds her nipple.

“Hmm,” she whispers back, “the hands of a surgeon.”

“A brain surgeon,” I remind her before we kiss.

She slides down into the bed and pulls me on top of her.  “I’m a little dusty from the horses.  Does that bother you?” I ask.

“I smell them on your neck.”  She licks up my skin to just under my ear.  “Salty.”

Slipping her dress off her shoulders, I forget every annoyance of today and think of only curves and nipples and sucking them.  She opens her legs to me and moves my hand into a sensation of waves of her wetness and heat. Our lips meet in a kiss, that becomes a dance of tongues inside her mouth and mine, and she bites my neck when I slide inside her.  Another long kiss and she pulls my shirt tails out of my riding pants and whispers she wants me naked.

“I hate to stop,” I half moan in her ear.

“More of you,” she says while pulling her dress over her head.

Nude and kneeling at the edge of the bed, she pulls my riding pants off and somewhere over her shoulder sail my bra and panties.   One french manicured finger traces down the single strip of hair that I wax into a thin line straight to my clitoris.  In circles she plays with my aching for her.

Closing my eyes, I feel her lips on mine, her breasts pressed against me, the pleasure of her sliding inside me, we make love slowly and rhythmically…riding the long waves of pleasure and sensation.

I roll her over and suddenly the awareness of my fantasy unfolding – the vision I’ve had of her under me – the longed for realness of being with her, sends my animal brain up to eleven.

Transformed, I hear a gasp of breath from her and everything changes between us.  Everything.

She digs her fingernails into my back, and cries, “Jesus!  Fuck me,” and we’re locked on a ride of throbbing currents, until the sounds and shockwaves of our final climax… shoots through me…far, so very far from my control.





Hope you enjoyed Chapter Two.


C O U N T D O W N – Chapter One – Dr Porter


Chapter One – Doctor Porter

Dateline: January 12, 2017

Eight Days until Inauguration Day –

At this time of the morning the drive from my home in Virginia to my suite of labs and offices near Langley is never congested.  The turn off for the massive CIA headquarters is miles before my own exit off the small highway that winds its way past horse farms and turn-of-the-century Victorian homes surrounded by ancient oak trees and pastoral orchards.  I crack the car window open a few inches and inhale the woodsy scents of the fields still frosty in early January.  The chilly breeze lifts the dark curls off my left shoulder and before I reach for the radio – to hear the first news of the day – I stop myself and curl my fingers tighter around the steering wheel instead.

The news I fear has been irrevocably changed by the election of Donald Trump, and in defense of my sanity I just cannot listen to another one of Trump’s tweets read aloud.  On my drive to work I usually enjoy morning radio programs, but they’ve devolved into an implausible search for coherent meaning inside the circus tent of Trumpworld.  Political commentators have begun to mimic shamans, who look for mystical signs in the entrails of dead baboons, and American journalists search for policy in Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

Nevertheless, as infuriating as it continues to be, each day I give our national dilemma some thought, even though I have my own impossibly complicated work to pay attention to.  How to remedy the unimaginable brain damage of my patients?  That’s what waiting for me at my office.

Do I try a complicated system array of electrical micro-pulses I’ve designed for the combat vet lying in a vegetative state?  How do I treat the woman whose car crash has left her unable to speak or move her legs?  These are but two, on my long list of responsibilities, and that’s before I delve into the neuroscience research technology I’ve committed to R & D.

My Audi speeds by the icy brown leaves of winter, so stuck and frozen together on the roadside they barely stir an inch as I drive past.  So, I ask my silent radio, “Who has the more impossible task?  You as political pundits trying to divine the truth in a tweet, or me as a brain surgeon!?”

I roll the car window all the way down and let the freezing air blow hard and fast against my face, as I scream out the window.  “Just say it for God’s sake!  We’ve elected a madman as president!”

Well that accomplished the sum total of nothing, except startling a murder of crows from their roost.  Their inky black bodies lift off the limbs of the pecan trees and take flight, as my thoughts drift and soon land on the pretty face of the wise cracking redheaded TV pundit I’ve got an impossible crush on.

I like it that she surprises me with her different hairstyles and chic bracelets and how she gets that Trump’s insane.  I can see her dying to say it out loud on MSNBC, but always stopping herself just short.  I’d love to give her chance to confess it to me if she’d like.  Over a bottle of wine I’d earnestly praise her political comic genius and then take her home to bed.

But it will never happen.

I sigh out a long foggy breath and wish her journo-beat was neuroscience instead of politics.   Doesn’t she want a Pulitzer?  Because I know what’s terribly wrong inside the President-elect’s brain.  Wouldn’t she like to see deeply into my world of neuroscience and its wonders?

I checked her Twitter feed last night, when I didn’t see her on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show.  She’s usually on-screen with David Corn, from Mother Jones, and the extremely serious former CIA guy, Jason-somebody, who never cracks a smile, even at her best crafted ironies and jabs at the President-elect’s dim wittedness.  It was then I noticed my TV crush had changed her pinned tweet to, “Every morning I wake up thinking, “OMG!  We’re all going to die!””

In sidewalk speak, she’d fucking unnerved me.  In science speak, she’d hijacked my amygdala creating a neurological brainstorm that had kept me up for hours.  I should never read Twitter before bed.  It matters little to the human brain, hard-wired ten thousand years ago to avoid man-eating tigers, that we presently live in a modern world of luxuries and comforts.  Our flight or fight traits may be an atavism of little use in our tiger-free cities, but for millions of people on Twitter I suspect Trump is the tiger.

madison neurological institute Front

Madison Neuroscience Research Lab –

Cassie Davenport is my oldest friend’s daughter, my Godchild and my extraordinary surgery assistant.  If she vanished tomorrow, I’d have to disappear to.  She’s that critical to everything.

I’m examining the combat vet’s latest brain scans when she breezes into my office.

“How’s your mood this morning, because I’ve got two things to tell you.”  She stands a few feet away, green eyes, long brown hair she twists on top of her head with pencils and knitting needles while at work.  She squints at me to discern my feelings.  She started this squinting business when she was nine.

This morning her scrutiny causes me to frown and wonder again about my eroding temperament of late.  “What?” is about all I can muster.

“First, the good news.  Your horse is fine.”

I spin around and knock a stack of patient medical files on the floor. “What?”

Cassie straightens her crisp white lab coat and stares straight into my eyes.  “You’re cleaning that up.”  She points to the mess of paper on the floor.

“Agreed.”  I bend down and shuffle reports back into their folders.  “What’s this about Nightingale?”  I make a dash for the phone to call the stable.

“Put the phone down.  As I said, he’s fine, but this morning a new barn hire let too many horses out in the ring for exercise and Nightingale jumped the fence.”

“Then what?”

“Back in his stall, safe and sound, with a bucket of oats, but Mrs. Prescott wants you to come by or call her.”

Unable to stop her need for order, Cassie leans over and straightens the pile of folders I’d haphazardly dropped on my desk.  She continues my briefing/scolding.  “Mrs. Prescott says to tell you that he misses you and to remind you that he’s a young horse who, I believe this is how she put it, needs your ass in the saddle, or needs his mother.  I forget which.”

This she follows with her laugh.  A pleasant kind of cackling that amuses me, but I don’t show that yet.

Caught being lazy I revert to an old habit that drives some people up the wall.  I crack a few knuckles before shoving my hands deep into my pockets.  “Mrs Prescott would’ve said his mother, because she’s old fashioned that way, but you’ve explained the situation.  I get it.  I should’ve gone there yesterday to see my boy.”

“It has been cold lately.” Cassie sympathizes.

“I have a coat.”

“And nice riding gloves, if I remember.”

“Lots of gear and tack.”  I turn back to the charts.  “Should we operate on this man?  I think we should.”

“That’s the second thing I was going to tell you.”

“Hit me,” I say as I rearrange the brain scans, suddenly stopping at one in particular.

“Exactly!  A noticeable increase…”

I press a series of commands and the scan becomes 3D.  “In the pre-frontal cortex, right behind both of his eyes!  Will you look at that!”

Cassie joins me at the imaging table and lifts her fingers up to tap an inch inside her scalp line, “A little hole drilled right about here?”

“Hm, make that two.  I’m building an electrical bridge between these two areas of his brain nuclei.  I’ll put the implants twenty microns behind this part of the optic nerve.”

“Doing that on both sides?”

“To create a neural web-like effect, stimulating from cortex to cortex and then…maybe deeper.  I’ll have to see once I get in there.”  I turn back to the wall mounted display of my patient’s brain scans.  “He’s ready.  Look at the difference between this morning and three days ago.”

“Remarkable to see how the brain revives during coma.”

“Rare for sure.  Anything else before we scrub in?”

“Just that…because nobody else could possibly do this he’s very lucky.”

“Well, possible Tony.”  Now I’m back at my desk and syncing my iPhone with my computer.  “Have you heard from him?”

“Did you fall in well?  Or did I forget to tell you?”  Cassie hyperventilates.  “He’s recovering from a shark attack!”

“You’re kidding?  No!  You’re serious.”  I focus on her guilty face.  “Where?  When?”

“Surfing off the coast of some unpronounceable Pacific island, but lucky for him it wasn’t his hands.  A shark took a chomp from his calf though.”

“Oh God!  Well, he can still operate.  We should send a card.”

“Sitting down.  At least for awhile.  Card.  Already done, along with one to the ex-wife.”

“He has three.”

“The one you like.”  She winks at me.

“After that…”  I blush and fidget with objects on my desk. “I quit drinking at office parties.”

“My mother wonders if that’s still true?”

“Mostly.  Why is everyone I know so nosy?  Call the OR, will you?  And quit worrying about me and my horse or anything else that’s bothering you.” I twist the axis control on the imaging console and the combat vet’s brain pivots 90 degrees.

“Zen mind, of course.”  Cassie nods an affirmative and together we stare into the scan that captured lightning strikes of neural activity and has frozen them in time.

I flip off the display.  “I’m impressed with our combat veteran. He came a bit more alive overnight.”

“I wonder if he dreams now?”  Her voice drifting in awe, as we leave the room.

Operating suite 5A

Four hours later –

People say surgeons, like fighter pilots, are born not made. It’s an interesting theory.  There’s something to having top notch skills and performing perfectly under pressure.  Parts of it can be learned.  I certainty didn’t pick up a micro laser in med school and begin neurosurgery, but I do have the hands, the coordination and the patience for it.  I also have something else.  An innate, perhaps empathic sense that guides me more than my surgical skill does to heal a damaged human brain.

Along the edges of crossword puzzles I finish I unconsciously doodle intricate multi-dimensional shapes I’ve never seen before I create them.  They look like super cones or tubes with interlocking prisms, and for the life of me, I don’t know their meaning – yet.

What I do know is that I’ve had great success with simple geometric shapes and implanting these as functioning electrical web arrays.  They sync with the patient’s brain wave patterns and they heal.

My surgery plan today is to go behind the eye and enliven the optic nerve clusters by connecting them with different synaptic groupings deeper into the brain.


Now that the patient’s brain has been opened I slide a micro thin probe by his left optic nerve and nod for Cassie to send through a pulse.  “Let’s start low at 15 ef hertz and move up from there.”

Cassie waits by the pulse stimulator as we both watch the tiny wire I’m guiding slide past the optic nerve shown on the screen next to my left shoulder.  “It’s live at 15 for you Dr Porter.”

“Send the pulse please.”

A second monitor registers the patient’s brain activity in reaction to the tiny jolt of electricity I gave him.  “Okay.  That’s a good position for the right side.  Now going in to the patient’s left side.  Across the operating table nearer to Cassie is the screen that shows the second micro fiber I’m pushing slowly into his brain behind his eye. “Fifteen for each in sync this time.”

“Fifteen is ready on both sides now doctor.”

“Send the pulse please, Cassie.”

“Not enough, in fact nothing.” I stare at the screens left and right. “These are the outer most points for the neural web array.  I’ll do one more at 30 microns posterior creating a triangular shape of connectivity.  That should penetrate deeper given where we’re beginning in the cortex.”

I set my third and final implant and ask for another synchronized pulse at fifteen.

The brain begins to respond with increased neural activity  between the three micron width vibrating probes.

“Okay, slow but sure.  I like what I’m seeing at 15.”

Cassie puts on a pair of goggles with extreme magnification and peers into what looks like an empty test tube, but to her the tube contains hundreds of micro-sized nanorobots, so small that she’ll slide them down the micron width of each fiber probe, and I’ll never seen them until I direct their web knitting program from a computer.

“Please place twelve down the probe on the left.”  And again, invisibly she performs her task counting off the tiny nanobots as they releases down the fiber.

“Eleven, twelve are now in.  Bring them up screen?”

“Sure, I’d love to see my babies go to work.”

Nanobots used this way is very new to brain surgery.  Thanks to their micron size they have the ability to maneuver through the complex passageways in the brain and go right where I want them to.  These I designed to do additional surgery if I need them to repair a tiny brain bleed, or change their position and send out pulses up to 55 ef hertz, but their first task is to configure into a three dimensional triangular web array behind the combat vet’s eyes and slightly deeper.  This is my genius at work.  Nobody outside of this operating room tries design and guidance technology to cure comatose victims.

Finishing up the second and third implantations with Cassie applying the nanorobot army to each micron fiber I finally lean over for the scrub nurse to wipe around my brow and eyes.

“Cassie, all your bots in place?”

She checks the test tube and her hyper magnified eyes look freakish.  She shakes the test tube gently.  “All thirty-six deployed.  Did you name them this time?”

I send her a sly smile she cannot possibly see through my surgical mask, but she teases me anyway.  “Fairy tale names this time or child movie stars I’ve never heard of.”

“Comedians.  A carefully curated list you’ll like.  Amy Schumer’s down in there somewhere.  Turn the programming software on and let’s get them moving into place.”

With a pen like tool on a screen that has is synced to their specific signal pulse I move the nanorobots into position and when finished I like what I see.

“Moment of truth here coming up, Cassie.”

Her weird magnifying goggles removed she’s back to normal.  “Ready on this end. At your mark.”

“They’re in place and on frequency Q-33.”

“I’ve got them,” she says leaning over an array that beams back a perfect three dimensional spherical shape with extending electro sweeps of a triangle.  From optic nerve to optic nerve and deeper inside the brain nuclei the geometry of my specific brain design is active and looking different that what I’d imagined.  Almost God like it’s so beautiful.

“Removing the probes now, Cassie, because you have control of them on your end.”

“I have them on my end.”

“Send a burst of 22 efh and let’s see what they do.”

“22 going in now, doctor.”

The nanorobot web begins to connect itself, nanobot by nanobot, and in seconds the operation is complete.

Quickly I attach two external pulse monitors to our patient’s temporal lobe and flip on a screen.  The reading before me is the patient’s real time brain activity supported by the web array deep inside his brain.

A few flashes of electro-cortical activity shoot back and forth and then, his neo-cortex and the front lobes of his brain begin to send back signals of functioning wave patterns.

I sigh with relief.

“Do you want me to close for you doctor?”

“No, I’m going to stay with him awhile and stitch him up.  Nice little silk stitches, he won’t even have a scar.”

I lean over him as I work.  “Sergeant, I’d love for you to do me a favor when you wake up and get back on your feet.  I have a problem with this foolish President we’ve elected.  You military guys probably all voted for him, but here’s the problem since you’ve been in a coma.  He’s not right mentally, mister, and he’s going to fuck your world up just as much as he’s going to fuck up mine.  So, I need to tell someone important about what I know, but mostly – and this is the important part if you’re listening – the President-elect is going to much, much worse and never, ever better.”  I finish my last stitch and the nurse wipes his incisions with betadine.

I lean against his ear and whisper, “Remember what I told you.”

Three days later-

A fleet of fast moving black SUVs pulls to a rapid halt in front of the lab and suddenly my office is filled with men and women dressed in black suits with very serious looks on their faces.  A black helicopter circles outside my building.

I’m dressed in my riding gear, having just returned from the stable.  I don’t speak, but wait to see who’s in command.  A few seconds, the slowest moving seconds ever to tick past in my life time, and finally a woman speaks, but not before she locks eyes with me.

“You have information about the health of the President-elect?”

“Really?  What’s the helicopter for?”

“It might be your ride.”

“To where?”

“That’s not important at this moment.”

“Are you detaining me?  Arresting me?”

A beefy man in the back chuckles.  “We don’t arrest people ma’am, we’re transport.”

“Sure,” I say half heartedly to his lie.

The woman in black starts again, “Dr Porter, do you have information you’d like to share with us about the President-elect’s health, or not?”

“Are you throwing a bag over my head?”

“No you’re riding in the car with me.  I’ll be beside you the whole time.  You’ll be safe, we just have a few questions we’d rather not go into here.”

“So, the Sergeant remembered?”

“His brother is with military intelligence…a special branch.”

“No name I suppose.”

“None that we’ll offer.  You can help us, or not?”

I scribble a note to her:  “Do you believe he’s crazy (which I strike through and add something more like what the neurologist they came for would write) mentally unsound? Perhaps dangerous?”

I pass the note to her.

She nods an affirmative.

Two minutes later I’m in the back of a black SUV speeding through Virginia.


Hope you enjoyed Chapter One of this science thriller featuring Dr Bette Porter.  More to come soon.

Command out!