Prelude to Topaz

The Tall Tale Begins

Tall tales were repeated over and over again about the healer who visited the House of Victor. Some called his massive hands miracle workers, others thought he was a magician, and a small group believed he did the work of the devil, but Ashling Bevins knew first hand that this man touched her, and it was magical.

Ashling Bevin was one of the handmaids for the Lady of Victor. When not doing the Lady’s bidding, she often sat around the large hearth in the workers quarters warming herself and listening to the town gossip. These days, conversations among the House of Victor’s staff always ended up about Roderick Gordon, the healer.
Roderick was a hairy man, full head of shoulder length dark red hair and a beard to match. Tall like a tree and as sturdy and strong as the mighty oak, Roderick filled any room he stood in and all the ladies of the court wanted his long eye lashed, deep blue eyes to look their way. The Lady of Victor invited Roderick to their small castle in the woods after she heard he was performing miracles in Dublin. She thought he would make fine entertainment for the annual celebration on the twelfth of July, which commemorated the victory by William III on the battlefield.
Ashling, like all the other the ladies of the House of Victors, found Roderick attractive as well. The moment she laid eyes on him, she wanted his large healing hands on her body. There were no men in the tiny village of Victor that matched even one hair of this mammoth man.
The Lady of Victor introduced Roderick to court on the celebration day and asked if there was anyone in the court who wished to be “healed” by him. Several beautiful girls, and some not so beautiful, stepped forward with wide grins on their faces. Even if they had nothing to be cured, they invented illnesses just to get Roderick to touch them.
Roderick, who wore the Gordon tartan clan colors of blue and green, swaggered over to one girl, who couldn’t have been more than sixteen years old. Her cheeks blushed pink when he looked at her.
Graciously, he bowed and took her tiny hand and walked her to the center of the large hall where all the guests could see.
“What is your ailment young lady?” Roderick asked her.
With a giggle, the young girl lifted her long silk gown up and pointed to her knee. “I fell on the castle stairs and skinned my knee, sir.”
Roderick knelt on one knee and examined her pure white knee which had a bloody scab. He closed his eyes and said something silently. Then he puffed up his cheeks as if he were going to blow out candles and blew his warm breath onto her injured knee.
“May I?” Roderick asked as he, then, placed his left hand over her wound.
The young girl nodded and lifted her skirt even higher.
“Done!” he shouted and rose from in front of her exposed leg while waving his arms above his head.
The young girl looked down, obviously disappointed that his procedure didn’t take longer, but expressed surprise when the red scab was gone. No scar, nothing was evident of her injury.
The court, as well as the Lady and Lord of Victor, burst into loud applause.
Roderick performed four more healings, so called miracles, on four other ladies of the court with the same overwhelming excitement. He cured an eye sty, a hangnail, an ingrown toenail, and the gout on one of larger ladies of the court.
Ashling watched from the crowd. She wished she had an injury or ailment he could perform a miracle on. She wished he would blow his hot breath on her and place his enormous hands on her body.
After Roderick’s entertainment was over, the Lady and Lord of Victor invited him to dine with them and other members of their court. Ashling wasn’t a member of the high court, so she ate her supper in the kitchen with the other lowly handmaidens. Everyone talked about the miracles Roderick performed. It was an exciting evening.
After supper and assisting the Lady of Victors to bed, Ashling put on her woolen red cloak for a walk in the cool night air. This nightly vigil helped her sleep as she walked a path around the Lady’s garden.
“Hello,” Roderick said from a seated position in the shadows of an ancient elm tree in the garden. “What brings you out in the cold, ma lady?”
Startled, Ashling did not know what to say. She wrapped her woolen cloak around herself tightly, a gesture of assurance.
Roderick rose from his seated position, smoothed out his tartan skirt and shoulder wrap and stood directly in front of Ashling. In the moonlight, he towered over her. He stood so close, she could feel his warm breath on her face when he spoke.
“What is your name, girl?” Roderick said.
“Ashling, sir.”
“Ashling is a beautiful name for such a beautiful girl. May I be so bold and walk with you this fine evening?”
Surprised by his brashness, yet willing to spend time with this unique man, she nodded. He appeared harmless. They talked of his travels around Ireland and Scotland and the people he has healed.
When the night air became too chilly, Ashling reluctantly bid good night to her handsome chaperone, bowing her head to him as she scurried away with the hope that she would have such an encounter again.
Each night thereafter they met in the garden. Ashling looked forward to their rendezvous.
Ever curious about his healing gifts, one evening Ashling got the courage to ask Roderick about them.
“This may be a bold question, sir, but how did you become a healer or is it all magic tricks?”
Roderick laughed out loud, “I thought you would never ask. Most people ask me the first time they meet me but you waited this long. Well done, m’ lady. First of all, what I do with my hands is not tricks. It’s a gift from birth, I’ve been told. To me, it is a curse. I would be perfectly happy to have it all go away and I could live a normal life.”
“From birth? Who is born with the gift of healing? And why you? Ashling asked.
“When I was a small boy I drown. I died that day, I was told. I was brought back to life by a holy man from our village.”
“You drown? You died and you came back to life?” Ashling was having a hard time believing this story. “So it’s was miracle?” Ashling said.
“I suppose you could call it a miracle. But while I was dead, I saw things and was told things and was sent back to do things.”
“What did you see and who told you things,” Ashling said.
“I don’t know who they were, but there were many of them. Old men, young men, and a few white-haired women, all dressed in brilliant white robes. They didn’t speak, like we are speaking, but I could hear them talking to me. Then, they all laid their hands on me. I remember feeling hot all through my body. It was quite pressurable, as I remember it. The next thing I knew, I was coughing up the river’s water.”
“May I touch your hands, sir?”
He nodded with a look of suspicion as Ashling took Roderick hands in hers and kissed each of his palms. When her full lips touched the palms of his hands, she felt a tingling feeling run down her spine.
“The gods have blessed you with this gift, Roderick.”
“Yes, I suppose they have. I have used it well.”
Roderick’s last evening at the castle was approaching. On his last evening before his departure, Ashling waited in the garden under the oak tree, as usual. But this evening Roderick did not arrive at dusk like he had the week prior. Disappointed, Ashling walked the path alone until the moon shown bright over head and the chilly night air ran through her bones. Ashling knew that in the short time she knew Roderick, she had fallen in love with him. He would leave her tomorrow.
Feeling the chill of the night air and the disappointment that Roderick did not meet her on his last night, she started back to her room.
“Ashling! Ashling! Wait! Wait don’t go,” Roderick yelled from across the garden.
Ashling turned and ran into his arms. His muscular arms held her tight.
“My darling, I could not go without saying good-bye,” he whispered into her ear as he held her. He kissed her neck and it sent chills down her spine. She could feel the warmth of his breath on her neck. It was magical.
“Come, let’s walk together,” he said and held her hand in his. Her whole body shuttered with electricity.
“Stay, don’t go. I know this is improper of me, but I love you Roderick. I want you.”
In the moonlight, he stopped and held her at arm’s length. Both of his hands circled her small waist under her red wool cloak. Ashling felt chills and heat all at the same time. He smiled and pulled her close and kissed her softly. Then he lifted her hand and planted a warm moist kiss there, with his other hand he slipped a golden gemstone ring onto her middle finger. It sparkled in the moonlight.
“Ashling, I want you, too. I want you like I have never wanted anyone before, but I cannot stay. I must go home to Scotland,” he said. “I give you my ring to bind us together forever. We will find each other again. I know it. This topaz ring has been blessed many times and has its own magic. Let it show you the way.”
Ashling started to weep. She knew he could not stay.
“Hold me, Roderick,” she said. “Hold me, all night.”
He walked her to his room. Ashling did not resist.
Behind closed doors in the dim candlelight, he slowly removed her wool cloak. Ashling never laid with a man, but knew what was coming and welcomed it. He untied the laces of her gown and let it drop to the floor. She stepped out of her shoes and removed the ribbon from her hair. Her long brown hair fell around her shoulders. Roderick stroked her long hair with tenderness. Standing now in only a cotton slip, he held her face in his hands, his magical hands. They felt warm on her skin. He kissed her lips softly several times. She closed her eyes and tingled all over. The heat of the moment overwhelmed them both. In a rush, knowing time was running out, they quickly removed the rest of their clothes and fell into his bed. His massive naked body was hovering over her naked quivering body. It was everything she hoped it would be. He placed his large hands gently on her breasts and she felt her heart beat faster. Wanting and with eagerness, they came together.
Ashling lay in Roderick arms until he fell asleep. She kissed his full lips softly without waking him.
He left the House of Victor’s in the morning without seeing her again.
A month later, Ashling discovered Roderick left her with another miracle, but their child would remain her secret. When it was time for delivery, she found a midwife in a gypsy camp, who, for a yard of satin and a sixpence, delivered her baby girl. Ashling held the pink bundle for only a moment after birth and decided the child would need all the blessings the world could offer, so Ashling slipped the golden-yellow gemstone, the magical topaz, onto a pink ribbon, and tied it loosely around the child’s neck. She told the gypsies that the ring was blessed, like the baby, and the ring must stay with her child always. Already a superstitious clan, the gypsies agreed to raise her precious red-haired child, who would carry all her father’s gifts into their humble world and pass them on for generations.

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State of Fear

(I haven’t written in a while and thought a poem might trigger some thoughts. Reminiscent of the female lead in my fiction story—Topaz)

I live in fear

of him leaving me

of being alone

where it’s dark.

I live in fear

because time is short

because love is fragile

who knows what can happen.

I live in fear

knowing it won’t take much

knowing my love is stronger

wondering when.

I live in fear

behind the mask

behind the man

waiting for the fall.

I live.

Road Trip

“Now what are we stopping for?”

Bernice pulled up slowly to the Speedy Gas Station. She had been in the car with Maxine, her sister-in-law, for a day and half, who complained and whined until Bernice was numb.

“We are never going to get to that wedding if you keep stopping,” Maxine grumbled.

Bernice opened the door of her 2004 burgundy Honda and slowly moved herself from behind the wheel, then deliberately slammed the car door.

Pissed off because they were stopping, Maxine got out of the passenger side of the car and slammed her door. She rummaged around her gaudy knock-off Coach handbag and pulled out a crumpled cigarette packet. With her free hand, she dove into her push up bra to retrieve her lucky lighter. She stopped to light her cigarette, took a long drag and sauntered over to the Coke machine, while smoothing her beehive hairdo with her free hand.

Bernice and Maxine were driving to Las Vegas for Maxine’s daughter’s wedding. Maxine asked Bernice if she would mind driving to the wedding since Bernice was also invited. Maxine claimed she could not afford to buy a wedding gift for her daughter and an airline ticket, too.

Bernice’s husband and Maxine’s only brother, George, died two years ago after a long battle with cancer. Needing a change and a reason to get out of the house, she agreed to the cross country trip from Indiana. It did not take long before she regretted that decision.

Adjusting her panties under her tight pink shorts, Maxine, with her raspy smoked-filled voice, yelled over to Bernice, “Hey, I’m hungry. Are we going to stop to eat somewhere soon? You know I have to eat every few hours or I get light headed.”

Pretending not to hear Maxine, Bernice rolled her eyes as she kept pumping gas into her car. Maxine has been asking that same question since breakfast.

After pumping the gas, Bernice tightened her silk head scarf around her neatly permed coiffure and walked past Maxine into the gas station to pay. Maxine flicked her cigarette butt, and followed Bernice into the building.

Bernice paid for the gas and headed back to the car.

“Hey Bernice, I don’t have anything smaller than a fifty. Can you pay for my chips and pop?”

Bernice’s patience was running out and anger was rising like a volcano ready to blow.

First she doesn’t want to stop, and then she does. Then she doesn’t have money, and now she has a fifty dollar bill. I knew this would happen.

Bernice had already paid for all the gas, the Super 8 hotel they stayed in last night, and breakfast this morning.

You can’t even pay for chips and pop? You conniving, bitch! How did you talk me into this trip?

“Do I look like a bank to you?” Bernice yelled at Maxine as she grabbed her grotesque-looking purse from her arm and dumped it onto the counter in front of the impatient attendant. Sorting through the items on the counter, lipstick, comb, chewing gum, hairspray, cigarettes, cellphone, coupons, Bernice stopped, peered over at Maxine, and held up a bottle of Astroglide and several condom wrappers. You have got to be kidding me?

Maxine smiled, “Hey, I may be menopausal, but I am not dead. Besides, you just never know who you might meet.”

Suddenly feeling dirty, Bernice continued to rummage through the mess on the counter and finally located Maxine’s sun-flowered covered Bera Vradley wallet and opened it. Inside, much to Bernice’s surprise was a wad of twenty dollar bills laced with a few fives and four fifty dollar bills.
Bernice looked up at Maxine, who was standing there with her mouth open. Bernice yanked out a five dollar bill and tossed it at the station attendant.

As Bernice dashed out of the station, her scarf blew off, and the wind caught her heavily sprayed hair.

With her chips and pop in hand, and a disgusted look on her face, Maxine tossed her disheveled purse inside the car window, opened the door, and plopped her skinny pink ass in the seat.

Bernice had been holding onto the steering wheel tightly with both hands like it were a floating device and she would drown if she let go. She let go. With a crazed look in her eyes and her hair standing on end, Bernice leaned into Maxine’s face. She caught a whiff of stale cigarettes. Through clenched teeth, with her index finger pointed up next to Maxine’s nose, she said, “Not one more word out of you until we get to Las Vegas, or I will dump you and your too tight pink shorts into the desert, and they won’t find you for days. You hear me?”

Maxine, who wasn’t about to be intimidated by her sister in-law, said, “My brother was right about you. You are a crabby old goat.”

Boom! Bernice punched Maxine right in the mouth. Maxine responded by throwing her pop at Bernice. Out of control, Bernice grabbed Maxine’s hair and gave it a yank and it came off in her hand. Maxine gasped as her thin grey hair was exposed. Holding the black teased mess in her hand, Bernice grinned, rolled down her window, gave the wig a twirl, and tossed it.

Maxine started to open her car door to retrieve her hair when Bernice pulled her back by the neck of her blouse, and slammed her head against the dash board repeatedly. “You bitch, you bitch.”
Maxine was screaming. Bernice was laughing out of control.

The station attendant rushed out to see what the commotion was all about.

“What the hell is going on?”

Bernice let go of Maxine who jumped out of the car and started to look for her hair.

Ignoring the attendant, Bernice got out of her car, opened her trunk, grabbed Maxine’s suitcase and flung it as far as she could. Clothes were flying through the air before it landed.

She got back into her car, stepped on the gas and in a cloud of dust and gravel, she looked back to see Maxine collecting bras, panties, shoes, and her mother of the bride dress, all blowing across the parking lot.

What a beautiful day for a wedding, Bernice thought.

The End of Once Was

Many years, many memories,
all captured in one night.
Like a porpoise in a fisher’s net,
Like a steel door under six feet of clay.

He told me, he laughed;
I cried, I drank.
It was over in a quarter.
It wasn’t supposed to end that way.

Was it love or lust?
Did he need more than I could give?
Where was the loyalty?
Where did the promises go?

I tried to hold him
but he had to go.
Can’t take back what was lost.
Can’t remember the love anymore.

The heart mends slowly.
Feet walk one in front of the other;
Breathing is shallow.
Breathing takes time.

Invisible Significance

The gray mist floats through time,

missed by most, invisible to many.

Soaring above the gloom of age,

gliding to higher expectations.

Fearless of storms, the old fog

maintains her vital essence.

Determined, the ambitious vapor

propels herself into significance.

Book Orgasm

Opening the page of a new book

is like hot sex with a new lover.

The touch of the crisp white paper

feels like fresh cool sheets on a warm bed.

The prologue, the title, chapter one

opens passionate eyes to far away worlds.

Words, oh the beautiful words, tell

stories of the past, present and future.

Try as you might to put it down

you continue into the magical abyss.

No matter what time, no matter what place

the story pulls you through the maze.

But the end is near and you know it

for the tall tales are coming to a close.

A deep breath and finish to the last period

for final exits- – -only to contemplate another.

The Field

8ca9e5761337c1a88b6c4aeefbcc48b0I was born to die. I knew my fate. I’m not as dumb as I look. I arrived on the Wilson farm today to be the next meal on your table. I will die knowing I made a difference.
I was born on Mr. Butch’s cattle ranch. I came from excellent stock. I never met my mother. My father apparently visited many of the ladies on the ranch that spring because there were other births the same week I was born. I heard later that my father was the grand prize at last year’s state fair.
Sweet Sara, the two-legged blonde gal who lived in the big house with Mr. Butch, raised me to be the lean beefsteak I am today.
Soon after my birthday (and de-sexing), Sara pranced me around the ranch introducing me to some of the other residents. There was Gabby the grey goose. She wasn’t friendly. She chased me and Sara out of the yard making loud squawking noises.
I also met Hal the horse. “Hal, I would like you meet one of our new residents–Samuel,” Sara said. I was surprised I have a name.
“Hal is old and cranky, and doesn’t let me ride him anymore, but I still love him,” she said as she petted his long nose.
“Sara put that steer in the west field and get your chores done,” said Mr. Butch as he walked into the barn.
“But Daddy, Samuel hasn’t met my other friends,” Sara said. “’A happy steer is a happy meal’ isn’t that what you always say?”
I heard that comment, but didn’t know what it meant. Mr. Butch chuckled.
Mr. Butch and Sara were good to me and my half brothers and sisters. We ate, drank, and roamed around the tall grass of the west field every day.
One day, Sara walked Hal out to east field. I felt sorry for him. He had a limp and walked like his hoofs hurt. I sauntered over to his side of the field, the east side.
“Hey Hal, how’s it hangin’?” I asked.
“Get lost bull-shitter,” Hal said, and moved away from me as fast as his old legs to carry him.
“Whoa Hal, what’s your problem?” I said. “I am only trying to be friendly and this is how you treat me.”
Hal turned and looked at me. We were head to head, so close I could smell the fresh grass on his breath.
“Listen you ball-less bull, I don’t want to be your friend. Get back on your side of the field where your kind belongs,” Hal said as he walked away.
My kind? My side of the field? What was he talking about? I asked my siblings what Hal meant but they said I should forget about it. I tried to forget, but the next day while grazing I saw Gabby bathing by the pond.
“Excuse me. Sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if I could have a word with you Gabby,” I said.
Gabby jumped out of the pond and bolted toward me like a fox in the hen house. I backed up and stopped, and so did she.
“What’s your problem boy?” Gabby grumbled. “You are not supposed to be over here. This area is clean and you are a dirty beast.”
I was confused again. What is wrong with me?
As I grew up and grew larger, I also grew indifferent. I stayed in my area with my own kind, still not knowing why.
As I lay under a shade tree napping in the west field after a summer rain, I heard Sara screaming for help from the east field.
“Help, somebody help me,” she yelled.
I knew I wasn’t welcome in the east field, so I just lay there dozing. Again I heard her screams. I stood up. I could see Sara pulling on Hal’s neck with a rope. Hal was stuck in the muddy pond.
No one came to help Sara.
“Please help me anyone,” yelled Sara.
Without a second thought, I ran at a full gallop to Sara. She wrapped a rope around my neck and yelled “pull”. With no effort, I pulled Hal out of the mud. Hal, who called me names and refused to be my friend, needed me now.
Once on shore, Hal looked like he was ready for the last round up.
“Thank you Samuel,” sweet Sara said. “You saved Hal’s life.”
I walked back to the west side of the field where I belonged, “What were you thinkin’ helping Hal?” a brother said. “He wouldn’t do it for you or any of our kind.”
I couldn’t sleep that night but by morning I knew what I needed to do.
I stood at the edge of the west field and waited for Hal to enter his field. Hal didn’t give me eye contact as he limped to a green patch of grass. Finally he walked my way, and again eye to eye we stood in silence. Hal on the east side, me on the west.
Hal finally asked, “Why?”
I looked into Hal’s big brown eyes, and said, “Because I care about you. It doesn’t matter to me who you are. We all live together. We’re family, and family cares about each other.”
Hal shuffled and said, “Thank you.”
I made the first move. I stepped over to the east side of the field. Then Hal and I walked to the pond together. Gabby waddled toward the water for her morning bath and saw us drinking together, and for the first time since I arrived at the ranch, Gabby was speechless.
After a few months, I was ready to move on to the next phase of my life—death. Hal, Gabby, Sara, and the other residents of the ranch gathered in the center of the field, to bid me farewell.
I left this world knowing I made a difference.

Boding Spirits by Betty Villareal

I attend AA meetings once a week downtown at the YMCA. I hate the meetings but after ten years of booze and drugs, a divorce, losing my job, and almost killing my parents, I was forced to look in the mirror. Change or end up in jail–or dead.

            I dressed in an old pair of blue jeans, and my Indiana University sweatshirt and drove to the Thursday night AA meeting. I thought about calling Elliott to see if he needed a ride but lately just spending fifteen minutes in the car with him made me want to drive to Bennie’s Bar and have a couple of double vodkas.

            Elliott is a mechanical engineer and a long time alcoholic. He did not talk about it much, but I thought his time in Vietnam and what he experienced there drove him to drink. Of course, it could also be his wife, Connie, who he said is his mother, his sister and his preacher, all rolled into one. He never said she was his lover. He also said she was one of the reasons he attended the AA meetings.

            I parked my car, walked to the door of the YMCA, and before I could reach the door, Elliott came rushing out.

            “Hey, what gives?” I said as he whizzed by me, “Aren’t you staying for the meeting?”

            Elliott turned abruptly, grabbed my arm and pulled me to the curb outside the building.

            “I can’t do it. I can’t pretend anymore. I know I promised, but this is not me,” he said.

            He finally released my arm, and I reached into my purse for a cigarette wishing it was a drink. I asked if he wanted one, too. Silently we stood outside in the cold and smoked. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. Does he want to talk? What was going on?

Because I couldn’t stand the silence, I asked, “What’s your problem?”

He sat down on the curb and I followed. He held his head with the palm of his hand. I couldn’t see his face, but it sounded like he was sobbing.

“What is going on, Elliott? Talk to me,” I said.

“I promised Connie that I would stop drinking, but I need it. She doesn’t know how much I need it. She doesn’t understand me at all. I need it to get up in the morning, to get through my work day with those assholes, and I need it to go home at night. Do you understand what I am saying? I need a drink,” he said.

All I could do was nod my head. I knew what he meant. I needed a drink every hour of every day. I don’t think people realize how fulfilling a scotch and water is or vodka on the rocks. It is food. It’s nurturing. It’s energizing. It is medicine to an alcoholic. It heals us. I got it, Elliott. I felt your pain. But I also knew the damage it could do.

“Why do you need to drink, Elliott?” I asked, like I gave a shit.

“I just told you, damn it!”

“Listen, I drank to kill the pain, but I know it ruined my life, so I can’t do it anymore,” I said, “but you…you have a beautiful wife, and a wonderful career, and friends like me. So don’t blow it!”

Elliott stood up, and flicked his cigarette across the parking lot.  As he walked away angry he said, “And that is just the reason, I need to drink.”

I really did understand what he was feeling.

I started drinking at the age of eighteen. I drank to be popular at first, to be one of the gang.  All my friends drank and it was fun getting drunk every weekend and hiding the fact from my parents. College beer parties were a blast. I vaguely remember the shot contests. After graduation I landed a job with the local newspaper, I stayed sober for a while. But as a cub reporter, I worked nights. I kept a bottle of rum in my desk drawer for those long vigils typing police reports and crime stories. The booze helped with creativity.

When I got home, I drank whisky right out of the bottle to help me sleep. I met friends later at Bennie’s Bar, and we discussed our jobs and our love lives, or lack of, over several cocktails. Bennie, the owner of the bar, made sure I had a ride home when I couldn’t stand on my own. At least I think it was Bennie. 

My love life consisted of men who were my drinking buddies. Drinking united us. The combination of sorry stories and gin made us a distinct club. Almost family.  Bob and James intermittently followed me home when I needed a warm body. Sometimes I remembered the sex. On those occasions, waking up to stale beer breathing  slob lying next to me made me rush to the toilet to cleanse my fermented guts.

            On one of my drunken weekends, I married James, not because I loved him but because he asked me to. It was decided in Bennie’s Bar by somebody, I don’t remember who, to go to Vegas and get married. Somebody drove us there. I remember parts of that weekend and waking up to James in my kitchen cooking breakfast.  Funny, but I didn’t seem to mind. We tried the marriage thing for about a year, but two drunken idiots just don’t make a marriage. We drank before work and after. But it was when Bob, my other drinking buddy, tried to come home from Bennie’s with me, that the marriage ended.  James got mad and beat me up.  I ended up in the emergency room with a broken nose and a couple lose teeth. I drank before I went to the divorce lawyer and celebrated at Bennie’s when the divorced was final several months later. I forgave James and bought him a beer to toast our freedom.

            Surprisingly, I stopped drinking for a few months when I met Jason. He was a new hire at the paper. A church-going, straight-laced, clean cut guy, the kind who wore plaid shirts and pastel colored ties and smelled like cinnamon cookies.  I was designated to mentor him on the night beat. I fell hard. Late nights with strong burnt coffee from the office pot kept me alert enough to concentrate on Jason–I mean on my work. When we put our stories to bed at midnight, we would head over to all night coffee shop and order apple pie ala mode.

            Jason said he never had a girlfriend before and that fact made him more attractive to me. I dressed to impress him wearing tight sweaters and shorter skirts instead of my usual blue jeans and sweatshirt ensembles. I was hooked on this guy. After a couple weeks training Jason was assigned his own crime story territory by the editor. His desk remained across from mine. We continued our polite evenings over pie and coffee after work until I got the courage to ask him over for dinner at my house. He agreed and brought a bottle of white wine, which I drank three quarters of before dinner. After dinner, I drank another whole bottle of my red wine, which I saved for special occasions. Wine was not my drink of choice.  

Jason called me the next day to see if I was all right. Apparently, I passed out on the sofa before David Letterman came on.  Being the gentleman that I knew he was, he never elaborated about that evening but refused my dinner invitations after that night. He eventually started dating the skinny blonde in the advertising department, and I went back to Bennie’s Bar to drown my sorrows and hook up with old friends.

            My drinking habits were like cancer. They grew out of control. I was drunk at night, hung over and drunk all day until I lost my job. Another excuse to drink.

            Without a job my money was at a premium. I cashed in my retirement fund and watched it dwindle away on alcohol. I drank to make myself happy. I drank because I was sad. I drank because I lost my job. I drank because—well, because I liked it.

 I could blame my parents for my drinking habits, but I would be lying. My parents were tea-totalers. The only time I saw them drink any sort of alcohol was once each year to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Dad and mom would toast to their happiness and longevity on a bottle of Mogen David blackberry wine. My parents were like Ozzie and Harriet, the perfect parents.  They laughed often and taught me to make my own decisions, to respect my elders, be kind to others, and give generously to the church. They were always there for me, even now.

I took my last drink after I was arrested for drinking and driving on Christmas Day. I almost killed myself and both my parents. We were driving home from a party at my Aunt Bertie’s house. I drank the eggnog. I toasted to good health and a happy new year over and over again with champagne and later with Bailey’s Irish Cream.  By ten o’clock, when my parents wanted me to drive them home, I was tanked. I argued with my dad when he wanted to drive.

“No dad, I can handle it,” I said with a slur.

It was snowing that night and the roads were slick. I drove slowly but when I hit a patch of ice, I could not stop the car from sliding. The car slid into a deep ravine. When the car stopped moving, I found my dad was unconscious and my mother was bleeding from a gash on her head. I called 911. After my parents were taken to the local hospital, I was arrested.

I could have killed my parents that night and maybe myself. I sobered up in jail and bailed myself out the next day. My mom was treated and released, but dad was still unconscious.  I was ashamed and petrified that my dad would die. It was my fault.  My mother and I waited for dad to wake up. Two days after Christmas he came out his coma. I could not apologize enough to him.

“Dad, please forgive me. I am so sorry. I should have listened to you,” I said.

Bruised and groggy, he held my hand and said, “I love you, but you have to do something about your drinking before you kill yourself or someone else.”  My mom and dad cried with me—and for me.  

I went to my first AA meeting the next week at the local YMCA.   Sitting in the room with fifteen people of all colors, shapes, ages, and genders, who were confessing to their need for alcohol and why they ended up in AA frightened me. I, too, would have to confess to my liquid weakness.  I wanted a drink—no, I needed a drink to get me through this humiliation. Listening to each attendee stating, “I am an alcoholic” put me in the same black box, or should I say black bottle, they were in. I am an alcoholic. I am an alcoholic. I am an alcoholic. I did not want to say the words out loud. Saying the words made it real.

I put my coat on and started to leave when Elliott stopped me.

“Where are you going?” he asked. “I bet you want a drink, don’t you? Well you know what? I want one too, but I promised someone, like I bet you did, to clean up my act.”

I tried to push my way past this tall scruffy blue-eyed man, but he moved to block the path to the door.  

“My name is Elliott. How about we go for coffee?” he said as he turned me toward the exit.

Over coffee, Elliot told me he had been married for ten years to Connie. He worked as a mechanical engineer and lived in Bel Air, a high priced exclusive subdivision across town. All I could do was wonder why he drank; he had it all: wife, career, money, and house.

“I hate my life,” he said. “I hate my job. I wanted to be a professional baseball player? I was good back in the day. I could have made it to the big show, but in college when scouts were looking at me, my dad said that I needed to get my head out of my ass and get a real job. The dutiful Elliott listened to his parent. I landed a successful high paying job right away and married my college sweet heart. Life was supposed to be perfect—right? There’s my story and why I drink.”

“You’re kidding? You drink because you are successful, have money and pretty wife? I am not buying any of this,” I said. He just shrugged his shoulders.

Then I told him my story to my new friend, Elliott. I felt like I knew him all my life. When I finished he said, “And what are your reasons to drink?”

“I just told you. I drink out of habit, peer pressure, losing my job, guilt, and loneliness. I drink because I can,” I insisted.

“Boo-hoo, let’s feel sorry for you,” Elliott chided, and then we both started to laugh. After that night, Elliott and I promised each other that we would meet at the AA meetings and keep each other sober. We became kindred spirits, at least until tonight when he ranted about needing a drink.

 

After Elliott ran off tonight, I sat for a while on the curb smoking. I was sick of being around former drunks and hearing their reasons why they drank and supposedly quit. Our excuses all sounded alike. Even Elliott was getting on my nerves.

Did the AA meetings work? All we talked about was drinking, which in my world, just reminded me how much I wanted to drink. I missed it. I needed it, just like Elliot needed it.

I decided to skip tonight’s AA meeting. Who needs it anyway? I got in my car and drove to Bennie’s Bar. I had not walked through the establishment’s doors since I started going to AA meetings months ago. Bennie waved me in as I entered. I sat at my favorite barstool in front of the mirror.

“Well, stranger where have you been? We thought you died,” Bennie said. “What do want to drink tonight?  The usual?”

“Sure, why not,” I said without hesitation.

He smiled and dropped several ice cubes in a glass. The sound of ice clinking in a glass was music to my ears.  Then he poured that beautiful warm brown rum over them.  I picked up the drink and put it under my nose. The aroma was intoxicating.

Before I could take that first sip, Elliott grabbed the drink from my hand.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Where did you come from? I thought you went to drink. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander—right Elliott?” I said as I picked my drink up again and readied myself for a wet cold orgasm in a glass.

Elliott took the drink from my hand and poured in on top the bar. Bennie saw the gesture and glared, “Hey bud, what’s your problem? If the lady wants a drink, let her drink.”

Elliott grabbed my arm and pulled me off the barstool. He pushed me toward the door. Once outside, he started shrieking at me.

“I leave you alone for a minute and you start drinking. Haven’t you learned anything from the AA meetings?”  he bellowed. “You made a promise.”

I pointed my finger right in his face, “Listen, you are not my mother, father or my husband. What right do you have to tell me what I should or should not do? I am so sick of this. I want a drink, just like you wanted one. We are the same. We need to drink.”

He grabbed my finger which was now poking his chest.

“You are right. I am not your father, mother, your anything, but for some odd reason, I care about you. I need you, like I need a drink,” he said.

Shocked by his testimony, I pulled my finger away, and started to tear up. “No one has ever said they needed me before.”

He put his arms around me and hugged me to his chest. In my ear he said, “Maybe you need me too.”

I did need him. At that moment everything in my life came together.

“Wait a minute.  How did you know I would be at Bennie’s?” I asked as I pulled away from him.

He said he wanted to drink but remembered how we had promised each other.  He did not want to disappoint me and then worried that if he went to drink, I might be tempted to do the same.  He knew how weak we both were when he came to alcohol. That’s when he drove to Bennie’s.

In that moment, I had all the answers. “Elliott, I think I know why I drink. Since I was a teenager, I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to fit in. Even in college I was a square peg in a round hole. I felt like I disappointed my parents because I was not pretty or smart enough. They never said the words but I could see it in their eyes. I think that’s why you drink too,” I said. “You disappointed yourself. You settled and could never forgive yourself.

Elliott nodded and without warning he kissed me.

I immediately pushed him away. “Whoa buddy, you are married. I may need you, but I am not that stupid. Don’t play that game with me, Elliott.”

I started walking away from him. He reached for me and I said, “No.” I ran home the five blocks from Bennie’s Bar crying all the way. I needed Elliott and I knew I wanted him, too.

 

I started a new job about a month ago at a desktop publishing company within blocks of my apartment. It didn’t pay well, but it was enough. I was thankful to have a job, any job. After an eventful evening with Elliott the night before, I overslept and was late to work the next day. Dragging myself out of bed, dressing quickly and calling my boss to say I would be late, I got a call from Elliott just when I was leaving the apartment. I wanted to ignore his call and let it go to voice mail, but changed my mind and picked up. He asked to meet me for coffee after work. I told him that I didn’t think it was a good idea. I added that I appreciated his friendship, but that’s where it should end. He said if I changed my mind, he would be at our favorite coffee shop at six o’clock that evening.

Sheila, my boss, knew I was a recovering alcoholic. We met at one of the AA meetings, where she confessed that she drank to kill the pain of losing a child to suicide many years ago. Sheila and I became AA friends, and she eventually offered me a job at the publishing company.

When I rushed in the office door after sleeping late, she saw from my swollen eyes that something was wrong, and called me into her office.

“What’s going on? Have you been drinking?” she asked.

“Absolutely not,” I said. “It’s just Elliott. You know Elliott from AA? Well, we have become close friends and we had a disagreement last night that upset me. That’s all.”

“Yes, I know Elliott. Nice guy. I heard that he and his wife are going through a divorce. You should keep an eye on him in case he falls off the wagon,” Sheila said.

Divorce? Why didn’t Elliott tell me?

I decided to meet Elliott at the coffee shop. Our coffee shop. He was sitting in a booth in a dark corner nursing his cappuccino.  I slid into the seat next to him. He smiled like he knew I would come.

“Elliott, I want to apologize for my behavior last night. I would have broken our agreement and drank last night if you had not arrived,” I said.

Whispering he said, “I am sorry too that I scared you, but I’m not sorry I kissed you.”

I took his hand in mine and leaned my head on his shoulder. Kindred spirits.  I knew we would always try to keep our promises—together.

Girl’s Night Out

The last day of every month Geraldine, Mildred, Wilma, and I get together for dinner and drinks at our favorite downtown restaurant. It’s a tradition we have maintained for over thirty years, and started when we worked together at the Indiana Bell Telephone Company.

“I thought she would never leave,” Wilma said. “That girl just won’t shut up about her shopping sprees, and did you see what she was wearing?”

Wilma and Geraldine are like an old married couple. They just don’t get along, and nothing either of them does seem to agree with the other.

“I didn’t see anything wrong with her outfit,” I said. “She seems to like bright, flashy clothes.”

“Bright and flashy? Are you kidding? That gold lame blouse with sequins about blinded me,” Wilma said. “And she must have worn every bracelet in her jewelry box. There was at least ten on each arm. What about that two-toned nest she had on her head? Blonde with black stripes? That wig was disgusting.”

Long time divorced, Wilma is critical of all of us at some time or another, but she tends to focus on Geraldine lately.

Geraldine’s husband died last year. Since his death, it was out with the old Geraldine and in with the new. She purchased a whole new wardrobe, jewelry, a new car, and a lot of wigs. Geraldine told us that her husband left her a bundle of money and she was going to spend it all before she died.  At first we all agreed that was a good idea because Geraldine has long been deprived of buying anything unless her husband approved it. And he never approved anything Geraldine did.  But as time went on, we see how extravagant and frivolous she is getting.

“I liked the blonde and black wig she wore tonight. I might get one,” Mildred said. Mildred who rarely speaks at our monthly gatherings for fear Wilma will notice her and criticize her, too.

“If you do, girl, I will yank that rug off your head and beat it to death,” Wilma said with a giggle and continued,  “Geraldine has lost her mind. I mean, why doesn’t she spend her money on something better than that crap: Wigs and gold sequined shit? For what she paid for that tennis bracelet she was wearing tonight, she could have gone on a trip to Italy or got a tummy tuck.”

“Why do you care what Geraldine does with her money?” I asked.

“I’m just sayin’ that if I had her money, I’d travel, maybe get a boob job, or build a swimming pool in my backyard,” Wilma leaned in and whispered, “you know, Geraldine might be dressing with all that flash to catch a new man.”

As four single women, we always get around to the subject of men. Mildred, who has always been painfully shy, never married, and as far as I knew she has never dated.  When we ask about her interest in men, Mildred usually blushes or excuses herself to go pee.

Me? I divorced my cheating husband about ten years ago and dated a few guys since, but I find that dating is nothing like I remembered. Today men want something in return when they take you to dinner. I’m not ready or willing to drop my panties for another man, so I stopped dating. I prefer the single life.

Wilma is the man hunter and a man magnet. She never stops looking and she usually finds men with money who can buy her things and take her places. It’s funny, though, she knows how much her man friends have in the bank, but can’t remember their last names. Wilma is probably the most preserved of us, or should I say, she has the best genes. She keeps her thin model-like figure in tip top shape, and never has a hair out of place. If there is a new beauty treatment or product on the market, she’s the first to try it. Conservative in her style of dress, she looks as elegant as Grace Kelly. Men notice her.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, we weren’t born with good genes. My wrinkles and sagging skin are like my favorite bathrobe: It makes me happy and I’m comfortable in it.  Mildred has always looked the same, sallow skin, no makeup and a menopausal hair style. It fits her dowdy personality very well.

Geraldine has recently gone through a metamorphosis. She’s like a bird freed from years in a cage. Her husband was demanding and obsessive. We were lucky to get her out of the house once a month for a girl’s night out.  We found out after her husband’s death that she would lie to him so she could meet us. She told her possessive husband that she volunteered at the hospital once a month and he believed her. When he died, she finally was free to do what she wanted and apparently that’s shopping.

“Do you really think Geraldine is looking for a new man? My gosh, she was married to a brute for so many years, I can’t imagine her wanting to be trapped in a relationship so soon.” I said. “Unless she’s running out of money and needs someone to take care of her.”

“Geraldine has the right to be happy and if finding a man and buying pretty things make her happy, then I am happy for her,” Mildred said.

Wilma, with her devilish smile said to me and Mildred, “You two have been single way too long. You both need a good roll in the hay to put smiles on your faces, and I betcha Geraldine needs one, too.”

Not one to hold back, Wilma continued, “Can you picture Geraldine going to bed with a man and he pushes her head down there and her wig comes off in his hand?”

We all howled with laughter until we cried.

Wiping my eyes, I tried to gain my composure, I asked, “Ok, who is going to be the one to tell Geraldine that the wigs have got to go?”

Quietly, Mildred said, “I’ll do it but only if you two explain to me why her head would be down there? Where is ‘there’?”

Wilma and I looked at each other and screamed with laughter again.  I love our girl’s night out.

Pyscho/Suspense short story

Revenge is Sweet
By Betty Villareal

It was the summer of 1966, and the only thing that mattered was getting a dark tan and meeting boys. Barbara and her two best friends, Connie and Donna took the bus to Marquette Park beach weekly with beach bags filled with Hawaiian Tropic sun tan lotion, their bikinis, beach towels and at least one portable radio to listen and dance in the hot sun to their favorite music of the Beach Boys, The Supremes and The Temptations.
This summer was special. This was their senior year, which meant–superiority over undergraduates. It was the last free and easy summer they would experience. Next are jobs, college, or worse–the draft.
Barbara moved to the area last year. The shy, dark haired beauty was tall, slender and made quite an impression in her hot pink two piece bathing suit. Both Connie and Donna envied her shapely figure.
Connie, the bookworm, was blind without glasses and fair skinned. She had to wear a wide brimmed hat to the beach and bath herself in tanning lotion for fear of burning. Barbara and Connie met in study hall. She sat behind Barbara and helped her with her English homework; the course Barbara hated the most.
Barbara met Donna in gym class, where she showed Barbara how to write notes and get out of swimming and outdoor activities. She forged her mother’s signature on notes, and wrote that she was on her period or had a migraine. Barbara thought it was amazing that the gym teacher never suspected that Donna had periods every other week. Donna feared no one, and did not care what people thought about her. Barbara admired that. The boys loved to be around Donna, not because of her beauty or her big boobs, which she had, but because she was like one of the guys. She could stay out late, cursed a lot, and drank beer.
After getting settled at the beach, Donna and Connie went to get refreshments from the vendor at the Pavilion. Barbara stayed behind. Blue skies and sunshine.
Excuse me, but you better put more lotion on or you’ll get sun poisoning,” said a male voice.
Barbara opened her eyes and saw Adonis, a tan, sweaty bare chested boy in madras swim trunks. He was no high school boy.
By this time, Connie and Donna returned.
“Well hello good looking,” said Donna to the tall dark, blue eyed boy. He nodded and smiled, but only had eyes on Barbara.
“Hey Barbara I think he likes you,” Donna teased. “What’s your name? I don’t think I know you.”
“My name is Bill Warden. I am visiting my cousins for the weekend,” he said. “Why don’t you ladies join us down the beach.”
The girls followed Bill to a large blanket in a more secluded section of the beach. He introduced them to his cousins, John and William. They learned all three of the boys were college students at the University of Chicago. The group played sand volleyball, and listened to music on the radio. The boys had beer in a cooler. Donna helped herself often. Connie and Barbara declined. As the sun set the more drunk the boys and Donna got.
Bill staggered over to Barbara who was sitting quietly next to Connie, who was wishing to go home. This whole scene was making both Barbara and Connie uncomfortable.
“Barbara would you like to take a walk with me,” Bill asked.
Flattered that he even noticed her, Barbara looked at Connie for approval. She shrugged her shoulders and nodded. “We won’t be long,” Bill said to Connie.
Then he grabbed Barbara’s hand as they ran up the sand dune. Gasping for air at the top of the hill, they sat in the sand. They were so far from the others, that Barbara could not hear the music.
“You are so beautiful Barbara,” Bill said, and kissed her hard. She smelled his beer breath.
Barbara had been kissed by boys before, but this kiss stimulated something inside of her. She wanted more. She kissed him back. Then Bill kissed her back and pushed her back into the sand. Their kisses became more wild and frantic. Barbara panicked. She felt his erection.
“I have to go,” she said, as she tried to pull away. He rolled on top of her. He was strong and his body weight held her down. He pulled her top off and grabbed her breasts. She tried to scream but he put his hand over her mouth. She tried to get out from under him. “No, no. Stop this. Let me go,” she begged. He was trying to remove his trunks with one hand and hold her down with the other, when Barbara kneed him in the crotch. “You bitch,” he yelled, and hauled off and punched her several times in the face, until she passed out. When she regained consciousness, Donna and Connie were kneeling over her with a flash light. Barbara’s bathing suit was scattered around her. Her nose was bleeding. Donna covered her with a towel. In the dark, they walked to the pavilion. Barbara washed and dressed and the three rode the bus home in silence. Connie told her that Bill came back to the beach without her, whispered something to his cousins, and then they immediately picked up their stuff and left in a hurry.
“When you did not come back, Donna and I got worried, and climbed the hill to find you,” Connie said. “I should have never let you go with him.”
The girls never told anyone what happened that day.
***
Rape changes a person. Barbara stopped hanging with Connie and Donna. Without reason, she blamed them for the event, plus seeing them only reminded her of the horror. After graduation, she attended a local business college, and later landed a proofreader job at the Chicago Sun-Times. She made enough money to rent a small place in Boys Town.
Barbara worked hard to rid herself of the memory, until it all came back to haunt her one month into her new job.
She had proofed a legal notice and was told to take it to the Accounting Department on the third floor. Barbara walked into the director’s office and came face to face with her rapist—Bill Warden.
She dropped the legal notice on the floor.
“Can I help you miss?” he said. He looked about thirty something, wearing a Brook’s Brothers suit, shirt and skinny tie, all business like.
“I was told to bring this to you,” Barbara stammered, as she looked him straight in the eyes. She wanted to jump across his desk and stab him repeatedly with his letter opener.
“Thank you. I’ll take that,” he said with a big smile, as he came around his desk. “Who are you? I don’t believe I have seen you around here. Are you new?” He obviously did not remember her.
Barbara wanted to run. He was coming too close. She wanted to scream.
“My name is Barbara Benton. I work in proofreading.”
“Well it’s nice to meet you Barbara Benton. Maybe we can do lunch sometime, to get to know each other better,” he said every so suave, as he touched her hand.
Barbara’s skin crawled. She noticed he was wearing a wedding band.
Barbara did not reply to his lunch invitation. She scurried out of his office and into the girl’s washroom to wash his filth off of her hand.
That evening walking home, she imagined ways to hurt him, to get him fired, to kill him. She hated him. She wanted him dead. He hurt her and she wanted to hurt him.
The next day she was told to take another legal notice to his office. This time, he invited her to sit down. She noticed a family photo with him, a woman, and two children. As she sat there, she wondered how she could tell his wife that she married a rapist.
“Barbara, have you thought about going to lunch with me?” he asked.
“I have too much work do,” Barbara said abruptly.
“Then how about dinner?” he asked.
Barbara shook her head. “I don’t think that is a good idea.” That bastard, she thought as she left his office. He’s married and he’s a rapist and he has the nerve to ask me out.
Every day for the next month Barbara had to take legal notices to his office and every day he asked to dine with her. And each night Barbara would plan his demise. She thought about poisoning his coffee or hiring a hit man to kill him. The fact that he did not remember her at all was an element that had to be corrected, too. She wanted him to remember what he did to her, and then kill him.
Barbara obsessed over this every day and night. Finally she knew what she would do.
The next day, same as usual, she delivered the legal notices and as usual Mr. Warden asked her to dinner?
“How about you come to my apartment and I’ll make you dinner?” Barbara said. “Is seven o’clock ok?
When Mr. Warden arrived, Barbara welcomed him into her home. She had a candle light dinner ready for him, and a special surprise for dessert. Conversation was strained, at least for Barbara. She was nervous. Moving from the dining room to the living room, she offered him a glass of wine. He wasted no time, he made his move. Sitting close to her, he placed his arm around her shoulder and pulled her toward him and nuzzled her neck. She shivered, and jumped off the sofa.
“How about we move to the bedroom,” she said, hoping she had the courage to complete her plan.
He undressed before she did. Standing before her fully erect, he started to unbutton her blouse, when she stopped him by grabbing his hands.
“Slow down Mr. Warden. Are you up for some fun?” she asked with a fake sexy voice.
“Oh boy, a kinky one. You bet, anything you want to do,” he said, as he jumped into the bed.
From a drawer in her dresser, she pulled out a pair of handcuffs. She cuffed his wrists to each of the bed posts. He looked nervous. “What ya gonna do now, baby?” he said.
“It’s a surprise,” Barbara said with apprehension, then she dialed Mr. Warden’s house on his cell phone.
“Hello, is this Mrs. Warden? This is Barbara Benton. I work with your husband Bill,” Barbara said. “He’s right here. He’s kinda tied up right now. Would you like to talk to him?”
Barbara put the phone by his mouth.
“Hi honey,” Bill said with panic in his voice. “We are working late, that’s right.”
Barbara grabbed the phone away from his mouth.
“That’s not true, Mrs. Warden. You see, your husband has been asking me out for weeks. He accepted my invitation to dinner this evening, and he is lying in my bed naked right now. Mistakenly, he must have thought we were going to have sex, but the truth of it is, I would not let this fuck touch me again. You see, when I was a senior in high school, he beat me up and raped me. Fortunately for Bill I did not report it, but you know, I want revenge and I am going to get it.”
There was silence on the phone.
“Hello are you still there, Mrs. Warden?” Barbara continued. “I know you must be surprised by all of this, and you might want to call 911, but unless you want this story all over the front page of the newspaper, and want your children to know that their father is a rapist, I would just hang up. As soon as I am done with Bill, I will send him home.”
Bill started to scream, but Barbara stuffed his socks in his mouth. He thrashed around, but the cuffs held his arms tight.
Barbara hung up the phone, and picked up her Polaroid camera lying on the nightstand.
“I think I will take pictures to remember this special moment,” she said with a smile, as she flashed several pictures of Bill.
“You are lucky, Bill. I wanted to kill you tonight, and I wanted to ruin your life like you did mine. But instead, I am going to hold you responsible for my life. You are going to agree to something before I let you go. I want a promotion, and a raise, and you are going to get it for me, and if I don’t get it I will send these pictures to your wife and your boss, and the editor of our newspaper, everyone will know that you beat me and raped me, you bastard. This is my way of raping you. How does it feel?”
He agreed, and she uncuffed him. He grabbed his clothes and dressed as he ran to the door without so much as a thank you for dinner. Barbara laughed until she cried. She could picture the scene that would go on when he got home.
The next day, she walked into his office and dropped off the legal notices same as usual. He was with his boss, CFO, Mr. Greenwell. She made eye contact with Bill and smiled. They shared a secret.
“Wait Barbara. I would like you to meet Mr. Greenwell, Chief Financial Officer. He is looking for an assistant and I recommended you,” Bill said.
“Me? What a surprise.”