Posted tagged ‘Fiction’

Angel

March 19, 2011

I wasn’t sure what I would find when I arrived in San Francisco but I knew what I wanted to find: a fully outfitted three masted schooner, ready for sea. Having just finished reading Herman Melville’s novel, Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas, my mind was still occupied with its afterglow. The possibility of going on a long sea voyage immediately upon arriving on the coast was a dream coming true. I had never even been to the ocean but, after reading Moby-Dick, Billy Budd, Typee, and Omoo, I felt like I had lived at sea for years.

I was traveling west from Detroit with a group of people I hardly knew, driving in a caravan of six cars that were being delivered to a dealership in Sacramento. One of the drivers worked for the dealer and he was supposed to make sure we didn’t take passengers with us. Yet we stopped on our way out of the city and all the drivers in the caravan picked up passengers to ride along with them to California, except me. I had no passengers and that’s the way I wanted it to stay.

After a couple of nights out on the road, however, relationships between passenger and drivers began to fray. My car became an overflow space into which passengers were able to flee on repeated occasions.

We were almost to California when I confronted a driver who had thrown a woman out of his car in a screaming fit at an interstate gas station. He told me I could have her. She stayed with me to Sacramento, where everyone else separated. And then we traveled together on the bus to San Francisco.

Upon arrival, I searched for an empty phone booth at the crowded bus station. Over the phone, I learned that the three master schooner had been moved south to Monterey Bay where docking space was less expensive. The long sea voyage was still on hold but I was welcome to go down there and move aboard at any time.

She called herself Angel. Or maybe that’s what others called her and she just accepted the name. She looked like an angel. But she was living a lifestyle that was incompatible with maintaining her youthful beauty, injecting methamphetamine, drinking Pepsi for nutrition, and chain smoking menthol filtered cigarettes.

I didn’t feel comfortable about leaving her. She had an address for a group of ex-Detroiters who had formed a band and created a rehearsal scene in San Francisco. She hoped to make connections there for a place to stay and to find a source for crystal meth. She had money with her, a handbag stacked with cash, neatly wrapped and labeled. I felt she needed my protection so I went along. Big mistake. I started shooting methamphetamine and I forgot what I wanted.
_______

I knew all the horror stories about injecting drugs. I thought I would never do it. But I stopped thinking when Angel put her arms around me. Her embrace soothed the jagged edges of my sleep deprived senses and awakened my passions.

We were horizontal and naked on a mattress on the floor when she started searching my arm for a vein. She had rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, a tourniquet, a small metal bowl, and a cup of water on a low table in the corner of the small bedroom. Wearing surgical gloves and using a freshly unpacked sterile syringe, she extracted water from the cup and squirted it onto a crystalline substance in the small metal bowl. It dissolved without heating and she filled the syringe with a measured amount of solution.

My mind labored to justify my actions as she tightened the tourniquet. The opportunity might never come again, I told myself. Angel seemed destined for stardom. I’m lying here naked with her on the verge of having sex and she wants to inject me with crystal meth first? Why not?

She searched my eyes as she swabbed the vein. Then she looked down to poke me with the needle. I cleared my mind, not knowing what to expect, yet feeling ready for anything, thinking I could handle whatever came next.

With the drug entering my bloodstream, my heart rate and breathing increased, along with my awareness of the atmospheric pressure. My mind filled with a chorus of voices chanting a litany of conclusions based on an elaborate assortment of vague assumptions yet I could willfully rise above this mental confusion to enjoy the intense rush of enhanced sensory stimulation, content with the experience itself, without needing words to justify or explain it.

During the ritual, Angel reminded me of a young vampire capturing her first major prey. What was the payoff for her? Was she expecting sexual acrobatics from me, bringing her to a life transforming climax? If so, I felt up to the challenge in every way.

“Let’s get dressed and go downstairs,” she said: “They’re waiting for us in the studio.”

What? Confusion, paranoia, and depression came to the forefront of my consciousness as I realized the anticipated great sex was not going to happen.

“I’ll be down later,” I said.

“No,” she replied: “I need you. I can’t do this without you.”

Her words reinvigorated my enthusiasm. A wave of euphoria washed the pain from my senses. The world seemed ripe with potential again, her potential. And she needed me. I had new purpose, new strength, was capable of accomplishing anything she desired of me.

As I opened the sound studio door, the music’s intensity increased exponentially. A smoke filled column of air danced in front of the big bass speakers, illuminated by stray light from overhead floods directed on the musicians and their instruments in the darkened room.

The possibility of being called upon to perform had been festering in the back of my mind since Angel’s comment about me having a great voice and how they were going to love me when they heard it. That possibility had now become the immediate focus of my existence. Singing in the church choir gave me all the experience I needed. I had total confidence in my ability to sing along with Angel during the audition, if that’s what she needed, and wanted.
_______

When the band stopped playing, the performance area darkened, and the overhead lights came on in the sound studio. A film crew that had been shooting the rehearsal with 16mm cameras immediately refocused their attention on Angel. I followed in her wake.

The musicians were all clean shaven and their salon styled long hair gave them an effeminate appearance, I thought, which make me conscious of my own appearance. My low maintenance hair was too short to even comb. And I hadn’t shaved, bathed, or changed cloths in several days while driving across the country from Detroit.

As band members gathered around her, Angel said: “Where’s Gerda?”

A tall dude with piercing blue eyes shrouded in long blond hair, replied: “She’s not with us anymore. She hooked up with some recording company. Said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go out on her own with a major label.”

“Who’s taking her place?”

“You are, darlin’. That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?”

“What kinda gigs?”

“Not much work here in the city, if anything, for local bands. We were out on the road, promoting our own record, before Gerda ditched us. Theaters, dance halls, gymnasiums, auditoriums, bars, nightclubs, you name it. There is work out there, if you’re willing to give people what they want.”

“Can I do some of my own stuff?”

“Show us what you got.”

Angel hesitated with her mouth open, then said: “I need to warm up first, get a feel for the studio, who I’m working with. But yes, let’s get started.”

She directed me to follow along with her exercises, breathing and stretching, holding notes, jumping intervals, running scales, singing melodic phrases in two part harmony. The musicians were exchanging glances and shaking their heads but I could feel my confidence growing with each step in her routine. Everyone assumed their place when Angel signaled we were ready.

“Let’s start off with something easy, yeah?” she said in a singsong voice: “Go a step at a time. Give me a funky slow walking beat, please.”

The bass player, the tall dude with piercing blue eyes shrouded in long blond hair who had answered Angel’s questions, initiated the rhythm. The drummer, a look alike, picked it up using brushes, not sticks. The rhythm guitarist, in the same mold as the other two, punctuated the backbeat with a bluesy chord, rotating through a basic progression, changing with each quick, downward strum.

I worked from Angel’s handwritten notes. The first song she selected, a lament about a troubled relationship, used alternating verses, the female voice and then the male responding. I had the words in front of me so I could concentrate on making my voice harmonize with hers, especially during the chorus when we sang together. Yet, later, when the Hammond organ and the lead guitarist joined in, close vocal harmony wasn’t critical so I concentrated more on melody, amplitude, and rhythm.

When I finally relaxed, I could look from the words on the page into Angel’s eyes as I completed a phrase or held a musical note for emphasis. I felt more comfortable with each passing song and, even as I performed, my mind began to wander. The scent of Angel’s naked body lingered in the most primitive area of my memory, signaling my senses to breath the air around her and stay alert for more of the same.

I knew the audition wasn’t about me. I wouldn’t fit into the band. I couldn’t handle going on the road and performing night after night. One of the band members would do Angel’s material requiring a male voice. The base player seemed eager to assume the role. He tolerated me to please Angel, but only for the initial session, I felt.

Angel called for a break at the conclusion of an uptempo number and received unanimous consent from the musicians.

“Good stuff, darlin’,” the bass player said as the overhead lights came on: “We’ve got it all down on tape. Let’s go upstairs, get some rest, something to eat. Then we’ll give it a listen.”

The studio was built into a large open space that had originally been a horse stable in the rear of an old three story building, a building that had survived the earthquake and fire of 1906, according to its current occupants.

The front part of the third floor had a kitchen, two bathrooms, and four small bedrooms. It was used during rehearsals and recording sessions as a place to rest and get high. Everyone lived somewhere else.

The rear part of the third floor, on top of the sound studio, was a large communal space with an assortment of used furniture arranged to create separate groupings in each of the four corners according to usage. A television set in one grouping with the picture on but the sound turned down. A listening area in another with reel-to-reel, multitrack tape machine, amplifiers, speakers, and earphones. A reading area with stacks of books and magazines. And a circular sitting area where people could face one another for conversation and discussion.

In the dim bedroom light, I watched as Angel dropped onto the floor mattress and stretched out. She looked exhausted. I wasn’t sure how long we had been in the studio or how many songs we had worked on. Time didn’t seem to matter anymore.

While undressing, I said: “There’s a shower in the bathroom, I think I’ll use it?”

“Fuck the shower,” she replied, reaching to turn off the lamp on the low table next to the mattress. In the resultant darkness, she added: “But fuck me first. That’s the only way I’ll get to sleep.”

Her soft moist lips tasted like juicy fruit chewing gum as her mouth opened and her tongue reached out in search of mine. She brushed her hand lightly between my thighs, moving upward, tightening my scrotum and sending waves of pleasure surging throughout my body. Her fingertips stroked my hardened shaft as she climbed on top. Working my penis back and forth, she parted her pubic hair with its nippled tip. Then she slowly eased down around me, not waiting to further lubricate the entrance.

A climax was not acceptable for me, not unless she climaxed first. She made me feel like a god living in a timeless world, my only concern being to stay hard for my goddess, until she sleeps.
_______

A perfect sunrise, clear blue skies, wind and waves, salt water spray, pitching and rolling, sails flapping in the breeze! My consciousness saturated with immediate sensory impressions as we tacked west by southwest heading towards Tahiti from Monterey Bay. Details of the previous few days in San Francisco with Angel temporarily slipped below the surface leaving a vague disquiet in the back of my mind. I didn’t have time to dwell on the state of my heart. Yet, when memories did push their way into my consciousness, I found my lack of emotion surprising, like it had happened to a different me in another life.

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Creeper

January 14, 2011

This lady at work, she gave me a joint of weed to try, claimed she grew it herself, called it Purple Train Wreck. I saved it for the evening, planning to relax in my room, listen to music, read a book, practice the guitar. It burned real smooth, had a nice taste, but not much happening otherwise. Disappointed, I jumped in my jeep and headed for the bar.

Traffic was moving fast and furious, streets looked unfamiliar at night. The bar, when I finally found it, was noisy and crowded. People were giving me dirty looks. I started to cough, like I was coming down with something. I could feel it spreading throughout my body. I’m going to die, I thought. The immediacy of that possibility saturated my consciousness with anxieties. I needed a drink.

The bartender said he couldn’t serve me, said I was barred for starting a fight. You got the wrong guy, I told him, I don’t start fights. He said, look what you’re doing now, you’re starting an argument. No, I’m not starting an argument, I said, I’m just defending myself. He threatened to call the cops if I didn’t leave peacefully. I told him to kiss my ass. I didn’t realize the bouncer was standing behind me until he wrapped a beefy arm around neck, and said, we don’t kiss ass here, buddy. Then he grabbed me by the ass and threw me out the back door. I had to climb over a large pile of smelly garbage bags to get out of the narrow alleyway behind the bar.

When I reached the parking lot, I found several cars blocking my jeep but I certainly wasn’t going back inside the bar looking for help. I could either take a cab home or spend the evening on foot in the neighborhood waiting for the parking lot to clear. It was a warm night so I decided to walk down to the next bar just a few blocks away.

Streetlamps were dim and far apart. All the storefronts lining the narrow street were dark as far as I could see except for the occasional bar. The street itself had two lanes of busy traffic with a parking lane on each side filled to capacity. Yet I seemed to be the lone pedestrian on the sidewalk.

I had gone a block and a half when a man and a woman came running at me from out of the darkness of a storefront alcove. The man held an empty wine bottle in the air, and said: “I’m gonna bust your motherfucking head wide open.” And I thought, if he was going to do it, he would have done it, not tell me about it. I assumed he was bluffing. She screamed: “We want money.”

I would have given them money if they had asked me for it. I would have invited them to dinner and drinks at the bar. I found them attractive, somehow, I couldn’t say why. He looked like a taller, aging, emaciated Charles Manson without the swastika on his forehead and she looked like a strung out teenage runaway from a Hollywood casting call: too perfect. How did they get together, I wondered.

A police cruiser stopped in the street and flashed a bright spotlight in our direction. The couple departed as quickly as they had arrived.

“What are you doing out there?” a police officer demanded, his voice amplified and broadcast through a speaker mounted on top of the police cruiser alongside the flashing lights.

“What the fuck does it look like I’m doing?” I said: “I’m walking down the goddamned street. Why aren’t you chasing those muggers?”

“Get in the car,” the officer demanded: “Don’t make me come out there after you.”

They were holding up traffic. And, since I had done nothing for which I should fear being arrested, I climbed into the back seat. The doors locked with a loud thunk as the police cruiser began to slowly move up the street.

“Jesus! You’re reeking marijuana,” the officer in the driver’s seat said. The officer in the passenger seat turned, shinned his flashlight in my face, and said: “Don’t you know that’s against the law, sir? You look ripped. What have you been smoking?”

“Wait a minute,” I said: “I don’t get this. You’re letting those mugger get away but you’re hassling me for copping a buzz and walking down the street?”

“Don’t get smart with me,” the officer responded: “Nobody’s getting away with anything. We’re part of a dragnet operation in force tonight attempting to clean up this neighborhood. If you people would stop coming down here to cop your buzz, at the drug house and the whore house and the bar, and stop wandering the streets stoned out of your mind, that would make our job a whole lot easier.”

A voice deep inside my head told me to shut my mouth, these guys were just doing their job. I handed over my drivers license and showed several other pieces of ID from my wallet. As the officer entered my identification into their computer, a female dispatcher’s voice filled the cruiser’s interior with radio chatter. I had no idea what she was saying but the officers seemed concerned. After handing back my drivers license, the officer in the passenger seat, said: “We could hassle you, sir, if we wanted to, but we don’t. We’re not even going to search you this time. If there is a next time, we won’t be so forgiving. Go home. Stay out of trouble.” They dropped me where my jeep was parked. And then they hastily moved up the street through traffic with lights flashing and sirens wailing.

The parking lot had cleared. I jumped in my jeep, drove straight home, locked the door, sat in the dark, thinking: Why am I alive? Why here, alone in this old house, in this crumbling city? Where am I going in life? I’m too passive, too accepting, allowing things to just happen. I’m always looking backwards, trying to figure out what went wrong. I should be looking forward, getting ready for the future, with optimistic anticipation. When I closed my eyes, I felt myself floating weightlessly in a vast empty space. I saw a dim light on a far horizon coming closer, getting brighter. Then it hit me, like a train wreck.

Ann Hides Her Bush

November 4, 2010

Ann works in her autumn garden while her husband, Buddy, along with their son, Bud Junior, and his school chum, Mickey, are out in the now empty grain field playing ball games. And that’s how she likes it. She would rather see the men out there playing with their balls than hanging around the house fighting, which are the only two things they seem interested in doing, or watching others do.

Her garden provides her with a unique natural sanctuary. Lined with trees to the north, it’s rimmed all around with selected vines and bushy vegetation. Working alone, she builds a fire, burning dried twigs and branches in a crudely constructed rock pit. In a small kettle of boiling water, she steeps leaves freshly picked from a bush she keeps hidden in a protected area of the garden. She drinks the tea warm, sipping slowly, enjoying its sharp, bitter taste on her lips and tongue, mixing it with saliva before swallowing.

Her consciousness expands to include an immediate perception of eternal time and infinite space. Earth is alive and speaks to her of knowing. The material world transforms through stages into its ethereal essence until she is pure thought in a universal mind of cosmic consciousness.

When the men return hot and sweaty, she has their favorite beverage waiting. It’s a fermented mixture of grains from the field along with herbs and spices from her garden, made with pure water from the flowing well. Buddy’s a big man with a big thirst. Throwing back his head, he empties a large foamy mug with one long, pulsating gulp. The two younger men sip from their foamy mugs and laugh, shaking their head to acknowledge Buddy as the winner in that category of competition, if none other.

Ann drinks with the men before serving dinner but she prefers her beverage made from fermented grapes. On the kitchen table there’s a tossed salad of garden greens topped with an oil, vinegar, and herb dressing. There’s butter and cheese to go with fresh bread still hot from the over. And there’s a thick soup of mixed beans, turnips, onions, and sweet basil.

Working the City – 1,2,3,4

October 18, 2010

It’s an older, inner city neighborhood. The closest shopping area is eight blocks away. The grocery store building at the corner of my block is empty. I’m sitting on money. I’ve been saving it for an eventual move to the country. Yet, as I walk past the ‘For Rent’ sign in the store’s window, I’m attracted to the possibilities. I call the listed number. Within an hour, a sharply dressed older man arrives on the scene in a vintage, maroon Cadillac. He’s asking questions. What’s my plan? Do I have first and last months rent? Utilities deposits? I flash the cash. He gives me three copies of the lease and says I have thirty days to seek a lawyer’s advice before deciding. I scan through the lease and sign all three copies. He takes two copies and hands me the keys.

I clean the store, repair the walk-in cooler, wash the big glass windows in front. Then, early the next morning, I drive my pickup truck to the commercial produce terminal. Wholesale suppliers refuse me, saying my purchases are too small. However, at the end of the loading dock I find a supplier selling smaller quantities of expensive, high quality produce. He welcomes my business. Fresh items arrive early every morning by air freight, mostly from California. I can purchase older produce at reduced prices.

People in the neighborhood are delighted when I open the store with a wide selection of fruits and vegetables. They’re attracted to my unusual assortment of sweet and juicy melons with pink, orange, yellow, and green soft textured interior fruit, each with a unique flavor. They love my bright red tomatoes, gigantic orange carrots, pearly white onions, shades of green lettuce and cabbage. Grapes, apples, pears, and bananas. I’m sold out by the end of the day.

Even at moderate profit margins, I quickly accumulate enough money for a used deli counter with a working compressor allowing me to keep meats, cheeses, and other foods cool while on display behind glass. A stainless steel slicing machine comes with the deli counter. I sell pre-made sandwiches. Customers can buy a variety of ingredients and make their own. I collect an assortment of used kitchen tables with chairs and place them around the front area of the store where the big glass windows allow natural lighting throughout the day.

My shopping trips expand to include bakery, beverage, and condiment products along with the fresh produce, dried fruits, nuts, cheeses, and meats. I hire people from the neighborhood, a woman to make sandwiches, another woman to work the counter, and a man to work the front of the store dealing with customers and security while cleaning tables and taking out the garbage.

Everything’s going smoothly during the lunch rush when a tall man wearing a dark suit, white shirt, and tie walks into the store. He’s the city’s health inspector, looking for trouble. I hold my breath while he sniffs around. He gives me a list of violations to correct and tells me I’m doing a great job. I offer him a sandwich and a beverage but he says he’d rather pay for it to avoid a misunderstanding. We sit at a table to talk. He does most of the talking. He’s a treasure chest of food business knowledge. I ask why he still works for the city. He shrugs and looks out the window like that’s not a proper question.

_______
II

City departments are overwhelmed by job cuts and, in the absence of adequate police protection, the few remaining inspectors rarely venture into the neighborhoods. My store’s liquor license effectively allows me to market beer, wine, and distilled spirits in whatever manner I choose. The legal minimum age remains a priority concern for me and my employees, nonetheless.

The local gang leader pressures me for protection money. I’m able to involve him in a business scheme, giving me the confidence I need to make further investments in the neighborhood.

An empty industrial building six blocks from the store is in excellent condition. It has an attached four story warehouse and a paved parking lot surrounded by a ten foot high fence. I cut a deal with the property management agency. In the absence of other alternatives, they’re eager to work with me and my phased development plan.

Using unemployed workers from the neighborhood, including several master carpenters, I partition the main floor of the warehouse building into a mini-mall of separate stores. When the right time comes, I’ll go city wide with advertising. Until then, I stay under the radar. I don’t want inspectors coming around, going by the book.

I use the second floor of the warehouse building to support the first floor’s business activities. The third floor goes to the local gang leader who runs security operations. The forth floor is a private club with high stakes gambling.

In the large industrial bay, with its four stories high ceiling and one long wall consisting almost completely of big glass windows, I create an area for private parties with a bar, a stage, and a dance floor.

My job is easy. I’m the boss. Although the gang leader who runs security likes to think he’s the boss. He’s controlling crime and violence in the neighborhood, creating a safe environment for business, so I don’t mind humoring him.

_______
III

Pau Patro, that’s the local gang leader’s name. He now runs security operations for all my business activities. I couldn’t operate in the neighborhood without him. He’s young, strong, and ambitious. He reminds me of a line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. He of the lean and hungry look who doesn’t sleep at night. Referring to Brutus, I believe. Machiavelli’s political treatise, The Prince, also comes to mind. My greatest need is stability. Pau’s violent and sometimes cruel actions are predicated on acquiring necessary ends by any means. His methods are justified as the best way to acquire, maintain, and protect neighborhood stability.

There’s another new stadium downtown, along with casino, theater, and hotel renovations. The city’s looking good in mainstream corporate media. However, many neighborhood leaders throughout the city are lobbying for political independence, saying their specific needs are being ignored. They want to break the city up into separate villages with their own taxes and public services.

My neighborhood is a microcosm of the city. Business is good for some, nonexistent for others. Personally, I’m riding a wave of success. But I don’t want to ignore the needs of others. Referring back to Machiavellian theory, I don’t want to be hated by the neighborhood residents. They can hate Pau, not me. I share the wealth. I create jobs, business, and profits for others.

I bend the rules, yes, when they get in my way. But I bend them for others as well. I’m not Robin Hood, no, but I consciously funnel wealth from the rich to the poor. I started doing it for myself, of course, but once I learned how, a spiritual awareness came with it. There are forces at play beyond my understanding, and yet one simple rule to guide me and never bend. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Pau laughs when I tell him that.

_______
IX

Pau walks into my second floor office without knocking. He doesn’t ask if I’m busy.

I’m fascinated by his boldness even as I resent his presumption.

His presence intimidates me. He’s an archetype. An attractive warrior god. Tall, thick, muscular. Large head, dark eyes, wide set. Light olive skin. Thick dark curly hair, salon cut to collar length. His features defy specific ethnic classification. Although he’s definitely Mediterranean.

He slides a big stuffed chair across the room towards my desk, and says: “Who’s this Machiavelli cat you keep talking about?”

“Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli,” I reply, “is an Italian philosopher, writer, and civil servant from the fifteenth or sixteenth century. He wrote one book about how to apply power in the art of war. He wrote another book about how to apply it in politics. He remains famous for that last book because his methods still apply. You seem to know them instinctively.”

Pau smiles. Remains silent. I look away.

He surrounds me, suffocates me, with his presence.

“You think you can run this operation better than me, Pau? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”

He hesitates, makes me wait, thinking about what I just said.

“I’m telling you I can handle the dance hall and casino operations. Have them cooking every night with private parties. Keep it under control. No cops, no city inspectors. I’m telling you I can do that.”

Our eyes meet. His smile forces me to smile.

“We can’t do it all at once,” I say: “Until we’re sure how it’s going to work, let’s move slowly. Along with alcohol, our drug sales will skyrocket.”

“I can handle it,” he says, pulling a fat joint from his pocket: “Here, try this. It’s excellent pot. I think you’ll like it.”

I take the joint, and say: “I need to get more work done first. I’ll smoke it later. But the drugs I’m worried about are heroin, cocaine, speed, ecstasy. Suppliers of those drugs will zero in on us. I don’t feel comfortable with that. I don’t want to get involved in a city wide drug war.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered,” Pau insists. He leaves the big stuffed chair next to my desk. He doesn’t close the door behind him.

With an energized awareness from toking on the joint in my office, I enter the expansive industrial bay area of the building where an overhead matrix of lights floods the dance floor, bar, and stage area with bubbles of randomly changing color and brightness while dancers move hypnotically to erotic rhythms. Male and female prostitutes are available for hire but the price of admission to this Sodom and Gomorrah excludes the casual shopper.

Pau calls my name, invites me to his table. An attractive woman sitting with him looks in my direction as I approach. Pau wraps an arm across my shoulders, and says: “Laura, I’d like you to meet Brian. He’s the real boss around here.”

Laura! Fair skin, auburn hair. Oval face, well proportioned. Greenish eyes, lined and tinted. Glossy red lips. She’s beautiful. I’m hoping she’s not a prostitute.

“Laura needs a job, Brian. I thought you could use her. You said you were looking for an assistant, didn’t you?”

She reaches out to me. I take her hand, and reply: “Yes. Yes, I did say that. I’m very happy to meet you, Laura.”

We dance. She presses her body lightly against mine. Our eyes meet. She smiles.

I’m feeling paranoid. Maybe it’s the pot. Maybe not.

Private Security -VI

September 9, 2010

Rob’s basic living quarters were attached to the back of the pole barn where a path into the elevated forest began sloping upwards just outside the rear door. When Janis finally awoke, Rob suggested: “Let’s go for a walk in the woods. We can climb to the top of the hill, catch the sunset. There’s nothing like it.”

She threw off the sheet, exposing her naked body, and said: “I don’t have anything to wear.”

“Let’s go savage, back to the basics, who needs cloths?”

“I do,” she moaned: “I want my things.”

“I’ll take you there anytime you’re ready,” Rob said, stressing sincerity in his tone.

“I can’t. I’m afraid. I don’t want him to kill you.”

“We can get you some new things,” Rob said, relaxing his tone: “Meanwhile, put on your army boots and let’s go climb the mountain. This here combat uniform is the perfect outfit for rough activities.”

“Oh, you want to get rough, huh?” she said, jumping out of bed and crouching like a boxer with her fists in the air.

As they embraced, Janis seemed more composed and in control of herself, Rob thought. In the pickup truck the night before, she seemed distraught and on edge while frequently smoking cigarettes. After their early morning sexual marathon, she had slept for most of the day, which could account for the change in her behavior.

He wanted to know more about her but he avoided questions that would put pressure on her. She would unfold in her own natural rhythm, he felt, and he could live with that.

The forest engulfed them in its timeless mysteries like an ancient cathedral. They stopped halfway to the top to catch their breath at a sunny clearing.

“I can understand why you called this an enchanted forest,” Janis said: “There’s a remarkable presence here. I could sense it right away as we started up the path. I feel like a Druid. I’m in love with this place. You own it?”

“I’m buying it. I’ve got the payments covered for awhile but I’m looking for a way to pay it off quickly and retire. Then there’s the taxes. The local farmer is selling it to me because he doesn’t want to keep paying taxes on land he can’t farm. But he doesn’t want it cut down, either. I promised him I’d take good care of it. And I will.”

“I feel good here,” Janis said: “Like I belong. I am the forest. We are one. In society, we all have our separate identity. It’s different here. Does that make sense to you?”

“You are a Druid, aren’t you? In spirit, anyway. That’s why I want this place so badly. My spirit comes alive here.”

“This is like another world, Rob. It’s like traveling in time, leaving all my worries behind. Here with you, Cal seems like a little man, in a far away place. And I’ve been afraid of him for so long. If I’m dreaming, I want this dream to last forever.”

Rob caught himself before reflexively saying, nothing last forever. He wanted to believe it could. Perhaps in a spiritual way, who knows?

Private Security – V

September 7, 2010

They approached Rob’s property shortly after midnight. A large hill located near the center of the least populated farming county in the state, the sloping landscape had evolved through the years into a natural forest with an inner and an outer canopy.

As he turned from the county road onto his property’s private access road, the dim lights of his pickup truck could be seen from a distance moving through the darkness of the farmer’s grain field towards the elevated woods and it worried him, even though the likelihood of locals being awake that late at night would be very low.

After driving in silence for almost an hour, Rob said: “Why did you even mention Cal, if you’re not going to tell me about him?”

Janis lit another cigarette, exhaled smoke, and said: “What were you in the army, a marksman, a long range sniper? You think you can sneak up on him?”

“I don’t think anything. I have no information. That’s what I’m asking for.”

“Okay, if he finds us, he will kill you, definitely. He might not kill me. We’ve been through shit before. He and I. This time, I don’t know.”

“He might kill you, yet you’re protecting him?”

“He has to find us first, doesn’t he? Like you said.”

The access road followed along the base of the elevated forest to an area not visible from the county road where, inside a tall cyclone fence topped with barbwire, he had a large pole barn, a built in living quarters, and a storage yard.

Portions of the fence were illuminated by the truck lights as they approached.

Janis sat up, and said: “That looks like a prison yard.” Rob stopped the truck to watch the gate open in response to his signal, and said: “What do you know about prison yards?” She stuffed her cigarette in the dashboard ashtray, and said: “More than I care to know.”

The gate close behind them before he signaled the overhead door in the pole barn to open. Then he drove inside, switched off the truck lights, shut down the the engine, and closed the door.

They sat listening to each another breathing in the silent darkness for a few moments before Janis slid next to him on the truck seat. She placed one hand on the back of his neck, the other hand on his leg, and said: “This is what you want, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he said, turning to embrace her, adding: “But let’s eat and then shower first.”

“No, let’s do it now. A quickie, right here. I’ll make you cum real fast, I promise. Let me show you.”

She tasted like tobacco when they kissed but as he removed her camouflage combat uniform to kiss her naked body she tasted more divine than sparkling cheery wine, and proved equally intoxicating.

Private Security – IV

August 28, 2010

Rob noticed her outside the health food store one sunny morning. She had long brown hair and she wore a pale rose dress matching the color of her skin. The dress fabric, which barely covered her torso, clung to her body loosely, accentuating her curves as she moved. She bent to load groceries in her car and he could see her panties. He felt like a fool when she caught him looking. Her big brown eyes, her pouting facial expression, and her body language all seemed to say, if you think you’ve got something special to offer, mister, bring it on. Rob backed away when her musclebound companion came from the store with more groceries.

He saw her a few day later as he exited a drive through restaurant in his pickup truck. The street lights had just come on and he noticed her standing in the rain, wearing a black hooded cape, waiting for a bus. When he pulled alongside the curb, she looked at him through the open passenger’s window and, without a sign of recognition, said: “Take my advice and keep moving.”

Her facial cuts and bruises were from a recent beating, Rob concluded. The threat of danger heightened his interest. He had a complete survival kit in the back of his pickup truck, including a small arsenal of military weapons. Plus, he had a loaded handgun strapped under his seat where he could reach it.

He held her eyes with a steady gaze as he unlocked the door.

She hesitated, looked around, and then climbed inside.

Rob locked the door, shifted into drive, and accelerated from the curb. Then, while maneuvered his vehicle into traffic, he said: “Your place or mine?”

“You may not live to regret this,” she said, removing the hooded cape.

Her long hair had been cut short with different lengths going in every direction. Yet, even with the wild hair, the bruised face, and the poor lighting inside his pickup truck as they traveled through the city at night, he felt strongly attracted to her exotic beauty.

Holding a cigarette to her mouth, she said: “You don’t mind if I light this, do you?”

“For you, I’ll make an exception,” Rob replied, turning his head for a quick look into her eyes. Then, returning his attention to the road, he added: “I used to smoke. I quit when I joined the army. Almost five years ago.”

“You’re army?” she said, lighting her cigarette before adding: “You’re going to need it. Where have you served?”

“That’s classified. Name, rank, and serial number. Rob’s the name.”

“Okay, first names, I’m Janis. Here’s another first name for you to remember, Cal. He’s looking for me. And when he finds me, he’ll kill me and whoever is with me. Do you understand that? He’s a killer. He’ll stalk us and he’ll come out of nowhere when we least expect him.”

“He’s gotta find us first, Janis.”

“He will find us, he always gets what he wants.”

“Maybe I should go after him. That’s how we do it in the army. Attack, don’t wait for things to happen.”

She gave him a long sidewise stare before going back to her cigarette.

“Tell me about Cal,” he said, keeping his eyes on the road as he merged into expressway traffic heading out of the city.

“I don’t wanna talk about him right now,” Janis said, knocking the flame from her cigarette into the dashboard ashtray, saving the smokable butt inside the cellophane wrap of her cigarette pack.

Rob wanted to press the issue but he understood her need to be alone within herself. They drove through the dark countryside for almost an hour before she said: “Where the hell are we?”

“I have some isolated property out here,” he replied: “It’s mostly forest with steep elevation, surrounded by wetlands from flowing wells. Most of the flat farmland in the area is used to grow legumes, grasses, and grains for animal feed. It’s mostly dairy farms in the adjacent counties.”

“I didn’t ask you for a geography lesson,” she said as she pulled a new cigarette from her pack. After lighting it, she inhaled, held her breath, and, with smoke coming from her mouth, said: “I still don’t know where I’m at.”

“That’s good,” Rob said: “Then you can’t be sending mental messages back to Cal, informing him of your whereabouts.”

“Mental messages? You’re more paranoid than I am. I’m worried about tracking devices in my cloths, Cal gave them to me.”

“Take them off and throw them away. There’s a clean army blanket behind the seat. You can wrap yourself in that. Have you had any operations lately where something could have been implanted? Have you noticed any marks on your body that could be the result of an implant? Maybe I should look.”

“Look at my naked body? In the truck, using a flashlight? I don’t think so. I’m very sensitive, I would know if a tracking device had been placed inside me.”

“There’s a public campsite along the river up ahead. I’ll pull in there. I’ve got some clothes for you in the back.”

Rob carefully steered his truck from the asphalt blacktop onto a narrow dirt road leading down to the river. The parking lot had four vehicles close to the campsites. He stopped in a space just inside its entrance. Before getting out, he reached behind the seat for his shoulder holster and, after strapping it on, he reached under the seat for his handgun.

Janis laughed, and said: “You are paranoid.”

“It’s no use to me under the seat when I’m not in the truck.”

“You don’t trust me, do you? That’s why you’re taking the gun with you. You don’t want to leave it here with me.”

“It’s nothing personal, Janis. I don’t feel comfortable without my weapon. And I never leave it behind, not with anyone.”

Rob’s survival kit included an assortment of woman’s clothing per the advisement of a female friend. He found a combat uniform with the latest camouflage pattern and a matching boonie hat with a wide brim which snaps in place like an Australian bush hat. Then he located the appropriate underwear, socks, and boots.

“Oh, I hate that stuff,” she said when he returned to the cab.

He waited outside for her to change. Then, while she found a secure place to urinate, he buried her previous clothing in the woods, wrapped in aluminum foil.