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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Blog Migration Alert!

Hey Dear Readers.

I love you.

And because I love you I am moving my blog to WordPress.

https://ellepersephone.wordpress.com/

Check back December 2 2016 when I post my first installment of 

The Exposed Life of Caroline Stanbury, Lady of London S3E1


Friday, September 30, 2016

The Blood Bather: Chapter 15


The Blood Bather

Chapter 15

     He was going to meet his father. Darryl wasn't nervous, he was feeling brave. Things were moving quickly but he wasn't nervous and that was a good thing. After the Christmas holidays, Darryl and his mother had strategized and planned all the angles to ensure their mutual success. He had never felt so powerful, he had never pulled as a team like this before with this mother and it was fantastic. He wished that their relationship could have always been like this. 
     Fearful that a sudden confrontation would shock his biological father, or put his scholarship at risk, they decided to approach through none other than the original law firm where Wanda used to work. They had an initial free consultation with a lawyer specializing in adoption cases and discussed sending a letter to his counsel. The costs were reasonable and the benefit seemed to outweigh any fears that he had, but his mother was less sure. She had been clear that she did not want to meet his father again and Darryl understood. She also had a strange fear that his father would take him away and she would never see him again. Darryl understood, or thought he understood, but probably he didn't. He just wanted to get back to normal, his new normal. With his professor girlfriend ...and meeting his father. He was rationally aware that his father might not respond. It had been covered by the lawyer and again in private conversation with his mother. He expressed neutrality for how it turned out. But this was a lie. He knew he would be devastated if his father rejected him. He knew this, but he wanted to move forward anyway. Darryl was feeling very brave.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~      

Micah entered his father's home office and sat down. The room was empty but his heart was beating so hard he was worried he might fall down. He hung his head between his knees with his fingers clasped behind his skull, the way his father had showed him as a little boy when he was feeling nauseous. He was starting to unravel. The Christmas holidays had been so bad he dared not think of them. As a result his clothes hung off his body, having forgone food for all the vodka in the world. He was unshaved and his fingers shook. His skin glistened with the sickly green pallor of a desperate man. He was still handsome, but it was a beauty shared by those on the brink of death. How had he gotten here?

     Following the episode at the hospital, Micah had been released by the police and driven into the night. It was a blur but somehow he had arrived at the frat house ahead of everyone else, ahead of the story. He threw some things in a bag and headed for the door. His phone had rung so many times that the battery died before he was finished. He left it behind in the trashcan like everything else. He took a look around the room, first quickly, then more slowly as it really hit him. He would never see this room again. He thought about tearing things down, he thought about setting it on fire, but all he did was find a fifth of bourbon in his underwear drawer and start drinking. Together with his bottle he drove into midtown, then downtown, just trying to think. He ended up a strip club he frequented infrequently and parked his BMW 5 series with the windows down and the cold wind blowing outside the grim exterior. The neon lights flashed in silence. His pulse matched it. Maybe the car would get stolen, he thought happily. He tossed the keys on the seat and tucked his bottle into his jeans pocket. The bouncer did not ask to see ID - Micah vaguely remembered dropping a huge amount of cash here with his frat brothers not that long ago - but flicked his eyes to the vehicle and then back at Micah. 
"Evening", said the bouncer and pushed the steel doors open. 

The music pushed its way out at Micah and matched the pulse of the neon lights beat for beat. Micah marveled at the synchronicity. The universe was speaking to Micah and he nodded in response, taking a delicate sip of his bottle as soon as he was inside. Something inside him relaxed, moved to the side and came loose; it was his heart. The darkness, the vibrating noise were far more intoxicating than the alcohol. But it was still early and he was alone. On stage a single key light angled toward the mirrored back wall drawing his attention. The mirror was marred with a million fingerprints of the women who had pawed it. Using just the location of the prints he was able to imagine all the various angles and poses the woman had made on this very stage. The exact trajectory of a leg or the height of a heel would change how the taut flesh might ripple. It was a pornographic ballet and it filled him with hope. From the centre of this mirrored back wall a door swung open silently. Outside was a parking lot, much like the one he had just come from. But beyond the cracked pavement, was green grass, dark in the evening gloaming and beyond that: a sky unlike anything Micah had ever seen before. 

     The colours were majestic. Every colour in the world was represented. It was kind of sky you would see in a hot country after a brutally hot day. It was out of step with where he was; it was a desert sky. He could even smell it; dry and empty with spice on the wind. Micah was worried that he was the only one who could see it. He took another sip of his bottle and the glass edge clicked against his teeth. The door swung shut as quickly and silently as it had opened and he realized that it was not a sunset at all but a tall women on stage dressed in a costume of the most marvelous rhinestones. She was as bright as a parrot, or a peacock, or both of them combined, with a long feathered tail and her every move cast a million million glints of light around the room like a coloured disco ball. Down the long arm of the stage she marched toward him with purpose, passing each pole and making eye contact. This was a first, he had to admit. He gazed at her gently, around the edges his vision was blurring. She was taller than he initially thought. Peacock-Parrot Woman proceeded toward him until she blocked out everything else. Lifting her arm she pointed directly at him. J'accuse!, he thought amusedly. Where did that come from? He made to shuffle out of her purview but his legs were heavy and staring at her was making him so happy. He wanted her to love him, he knew he could make this happen. He could be better. Peacock-Parrot Woman finally reached him and with her giant finger extended from her giant arm touched him with just the tip of her brightly painted nail in the centre of his forehead. The heat hit him like a sledgehammer and he was gone.

     He woke up late the next afternoon in the back seat of his car. The parking lot was empty and his was the only car in it. He wasn't hungover, he was still drunk. His bottle and his shoes were gone, so was his wallet, but the keys were still there and he drove him craving a drink and trying to piece together what had happened. But it was no use. It wasn't until he got to his parent's house that he learned he had been gone for two days. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     Micah's father entered the office and walked by him reading a lawyer's letter sent by what looked to be registered mail. Micah stood up quickly and then reeled with the effort. 
"Dad... I-"
His father ignored him, this is how it had been for the holidays. His mother silently crying and loudly blowing her nose, and his father avoiding him. 
"Dad I need to tell you that I'm leaving."
That got his attention. Micah's father looked up and dropped the letter on his desk.
He sighed. "The school won't have you back, son"
"No, I know-" 
--the need for alcohol made him literally weak. He struggled even for breath.
"Your mother and I have been talking about what to do and we think that you should take a year off."
The words hung in the air. It was so shocking he was momentarily rendered speechless. The world as he knew it was crumbling, and he was the only one who was aware. He felt like dancing.
"Rehab?" 
"No, not rehab, son." His father scoffed. "What are you addicted to?"
This is how little he knew about me, Micah thought. The arrogance of it all gave him strength. He took a deep breath, his skin felt like a straight jacket.
"Dad, I've joined the army, basic starts in a little while but they will take me sooner and it will give me time to sell my car."
Sell your car? he replied stupidly
Was that the only part he heard?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Think Piece on Pieces of Trash


You can follow me wherever I go.


This post is late; I lost my opus concerning the horrendous Hockey Wives franchise so this is what I am left with.


Can anyone deny that this has been engineered and manipulated from the moment the call was placed? Do you remain unconvinced that Kanye had worked out all possible outcomes six months down the road? Or that he doubted for a moment he would be able to manipulate Kim into using her brand and hijacking the show away from her sisters for an entire hour on Sunday night to prove a point? The point being that he remains obsessed with Taylor Swift. He is effectively stalking her. Much as he has claimed to do when he was wooing Kim in his interview with Khloe on Kocktails with Khloe.

Taylor may not have minded that Kanye was working on a truly stupid song in January, then changed her mind. Or she may have cared but had no way of changing the situation so she rolled with it until an opportunity arose to get her own. But nowhere do we get to muddle the consent question, because Taylor did not " approve" of a line in a song that she did not hear. The same way drunk girls can't give enthusiastic consent to sex and handcuffed men can't drive cars fast enough to break their own necks.

Personally, I think that Taylor Swift is making fun of Kanye when she says, "I sold seven million albums that year but you didn't know who I was. That's fine." She is obviously mocking him. She is allowing Kanye to save face. Then she gets bored with the conversation. A conversation Kanye keeps up because he wants to keep talking to her. Kanye's obsession with Taylor is first publicly apparent in 2009 when he walks on stage to be near her, to enjoy her moment for her. He didn't do it for Beyonce. He did it to bask in the reflected glow. Beyonce knew this. Taylor understands this. And Kim knows this.

Kim admits that Kanye doesn't ask for her permission regarding his song lyrics, but he asks Taylor.

This would explain why Kim keeps colouring her hair blonde.

Kim is jealous because her husband openly says he wants to have sex with Taylor Swift in the future. Not a bunch of women as the author of the GQ article mentions. One woman. Named Taylor Swift. He is naming the one he wants very clearly. He is saying it right out loud because that is how men operate when they feel a primal emotion, whether it be hunger or fear or desire. And the only person who seems to hear it is Kim. So she tries to get out in front of the story. She dedicates one hour and 6 months of her life to setting a very elaborate trap for her perceived rival. A woman who is thinner and blonder and who exhibits a discernible talent. A woman Kim could never really hope to compete with in the game of life unless her manager released a sex tape. As her own mother says to her "favorite" daughter on national television, "Well, it's not like you can sing or dance." Kim has waddled into the middle of two music professionals and a beef that pre-dates her own existence. She is our Yoko Ono, a performance artist who will never be accurately valued for her own merits because of her nearness to fame.



...number nine, number nine, number nine,...



So she sets this trap and unsuspectingly Taylor walks into it. And now Kim is the big… winner?

No, Kanye is.

Because now he no longer has to hide. He gets to talk adfinitum like a scorned lover to Kim and the whole world about his true muse, his real love, the centre of his dark twisted fantasy: Taylor Swift.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Blood Bather: Chapter 14



Chapter 14
          Sherrisse sat silouetted before an enormous window, motionless in a rigid plastic hospital chair, her head bowed delicately over a black obsidian rosary in her left hand. Every 90 seconds there was a small glittery movement as she flicked a bead forward and repeated her prayer. She had been sitting like this for an hour as day turned into dusk and the light bled from the sky until it was full dark. It was only late afternoon but the light escaped quickly in deepest winter. The room where White Rose lay was small but well-appointed. It was a corner unit with windows on two sides, down one of the quietest wings of the hospital: the head trauma unit, which included comatose victims.


          White Rose had been here for a month, ever since she was discovered after her suicide attempt at the tanning salon. Everything about the situation had sent Sherrisse into a tail spin. In the days following the accident she had done a deep dive mentally, going over every single detail of what had been said and not said, done and not done in the days and weeks leading up to the accident. It was strange because she could not find one specific thing that pointed to a woman on the verge of a suicide attempt. She felt like she knew White Rose the best; no, understood her the most. That was more accurate. She had always felt like she and White Rose shared a very deep bond. Even though the doctors said she was in a coma, she still felt the thread of that bond. Weak but still there. Pulsing. 

     "Whitro, can you hear me?" She whispered. "I'm here for you". The silence that followed was expected but no less depressing. Sherrisse felt warm tears fall down her cheeks and flicked another bead across her palm. "Hail Mary, full of grace-" she began. 

     Down the hall came the staccato beat of a pair of high heels pounding on hard linoleum. Visiting hours were almost over but this was no regular nurse on her rounds. The steps got louder echoing through the silent ward where only breathing machines hissed gently and heart monitors occasionally beeped. Sherrisse felt her own heart rate increase in concert with the steps. Motherfucker. Sherrisse palmed the rosary and slid it into her bag in one fluid movement as she stood to greet the visitor: Audra. 

Audra stomped into the room and came to an abrupt halt upon spying Sherrisse, rocking back on her heels. 
"Oh!"
"Audra. " It wasn't a greeting. 
"I didn't think anyone would be here."
The words were like nails on a chalkboard to Sherrisse. Of course she didn't. It was only the second time she had come to the hospital and the first time was probably just to confirm that White Rose was well and truly in a vegetative state. Audra had changed since White Rose's accident (accident! - Sherrisse refused to call it a suicide attempt). Audra had... blossomed. She was now the acting President of the sorority everybody was talking about for all the right reasons. For once. She media inquiries to handle and donations to accept. Her professors had bent over backwards to accommodate her school schedule in light of White Rose's family's significant donations to the school... And all the while Audra was milking it for everything she could get. Including Micah. They were often seen together and no one said a thing because it was assumed they both needed each other's support. Sherrisse was incandescent with rage but what could she do?
     Audra knew what Sherrisse was thinking. And she didn't fucking care. This was her time and Sherrisse was a fool to assume she knew how much Audra was dealing with right now. In fact it was annoying that she was even here right now. What the shit was she even trying to prove? White Rose had committed the ultimate narcissistic act. A fucking failed suicide attempt? You've got to be fucking kidding me. 

     Behind Audra stepped Micah. 
"Uh, hi, Sherrisse?" He stuttered her name like he wasn't sure how to pronounce it. 
"Micah." Also not a greeting, more a statement of fact, like applying the correct label to an insect. Both of them stared at her awkwardly keeping a distance from both her and each other. Audra was first to break the ice. 
"Can I get a minute alone with White Rose? I feel like I haven't seen her in forever." 
You haven't, thought Sherrisse but smiled benevolently before saying "Of course". She got up to leave, passing Micah in the the doorway she gave him a hard flat look. He met her gaze but it wasn't defiance she saw there, it was deep sadness and inner turmoil. He was definitely working through something. His guilt probably, she surmised.
     As she stepped out into the darkened corridor her cell phone began to ring. She dug it out of her bag as she hurried down the hall. It was on silent but even a mild buzzing was loud in such a subdued environment. She hit Ignore and it went quiet ...before it buzzed again. 
She looked down. A different number this time. 
She hit Ignore again. And it happened again. From yet a different number...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Audra walked over to White Rose and sat down as Sherrisse had. She reached out and grabbed her hand, it was still being kept perfectly manicured thanks to hospital staff. 
"White Rose,..." she whispered. Her attention was brought back to the present when Micah shuffled and coughed in the doorway, his hands were jammed in his pockets and his eyes glittered in the half light, feverish. Had he been drinking? Audra wondered. 
"Audra, I need to talk to you"
She loved hearing him say her name. 
"Yes?" She turned her head to him, still holding White Rose's hand. 
"Audra we need to end this."
It was a shock, yes, but not entirely unexpected. 
Audra allowed the silence to spin out. She could manage this. She could control this. All she had to do was stay calm.
"Micah, we love each other."
"no-"
"Micah, yes. We do. We were sneaking around for long enough and now, ... Now we have no reason to. The circumstances are terrible...", a small giggle escaped her lips. She was getting hysterical. This was bad. Stay calm!

     Micah walked forward and looked down at her. His presence always had the same effect on her. Her body betrayed her and she stood to reach out to him but he caught her wrists not unkindly and held them at her sides. He was taller somehow. And stronger. Another harsh giggle escaped like a hiccup and she gasped and the tears came.


     His resolve was unwavering but he was no without remorse. Her face was one more face disappointed and saddened by him. This had to end. All of his failures and embarrassments had to end. He had to make a change. He had to put these childish games aside. He was doing the right thing, he reminded himself. His family would expect him to stand by his injured girlfriend. Right now he didn't really remember what it had been like between he and White Rose, it had occurred to him that they had always been strangers to each other, but it didn't matter. He was clawing at some semblance of normalcy. He hadn't had a drink in weeks and he couldn't continue on with Audra. She made him want to drink. Or rather the situation did. He wasn't sure, he just wanted it to end. He heard her say: "I love you." Audra looked up into his face. She was weeping and it was horrible and he had to get away. He could not have White Rose and Audra in the same room with him. He felt claustrophobic and the desire to run matched his desire to drink. 

He was hurting her. 
He wanted a drink.
He was aware of this. 
He wanted a drink. 
He did not care. 
He wanted a drink.

     Micah looked at Audra with dead eyes. She was clawing at his shirt with both hands holding him fast. She was saying words and crying at the same time. He couldn't understand her. He pushed her wrists away but she was fighting him. He pushed harder and she released and fell backwards clattering to the floor, heels, hair, hard chair, silent destruction...

     Suddenly the world came alive. People were running into the room. A nurse, then a white coat. Must be a doctor, he thought inanely. My father wears one too! They were talking but he couldn't hear a damn thing above the ringing silence in his own ears. They were helping Audra up and pushing him towards the open door. His phone was ringing in his pocket. He could feel it buzzing against his thigh. White Rose was getting smaller and smaller in his vision. Her lovely face looked pale but peaceful against the pillow. Audra was red-faced and looked like she was screaming, but White Rose was cool as a cucumber. She was always so cool, he mused, cool as a cucumber. He started to laugh and it erupted like a bark from his chest. They kept pushing him back out the door until he was in the corridor and he didn't fight them. His phone was buzzing again. 

     So much was happening but his thoughts were calm. He was proud of his ability to stay calm. Just like my dad, he thought proudly and puffed out his chest. It was almost like being drunk. The nurse was talking and pointing to the stairs. But he couldn't hear her. His phone was buzzing. Maybe the nurse thought he looked like his dad. He calmly looked down at his cell phone and was surprised to find a series of emails and voice mails and other notifications, they were coming in fast and furious. How did that happen? he wondered...calmly. The nurse had a new friend it seemed and he was walking down the hall towards them. Her friend was a police officer. He was talking too, but Micah still could not hear a thing. One email address on his phone stood out, an email from the Dean. He opened it. It was a link to youtube and as he calmly clicked the link it opened to video. He calmly recognized his own face. His own face between a pair of tanned thighs. He own face between a pair of tanned breasts. His own face as he was kissed and fellated by a pair of twins in wet white shirts...

And he calmly realized he was crying.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Blood Bather: Chapter 13


The Blood Bather


Chapter 13

            Darryl's mother Wanda had never told him the name of his father. And that bothered him. It was Christmas holidays and he was returning home to spend it with Wanda. He was resolved to ask the question and get some answers.
            Holidays were never fun at home but he was relieved to leave campus this year. After some sorority girl had been found half dead from an aborted suicide attempt - at a tanning salon of all places! - the school had talked of little else. When he first heard the news, he was momentarily worried it was Audra, but it wasn't, although she did know the girl. They belonged to the same pussy palace sorority, or so he was told. They said she was currently in a vegetative state and her friends were spending all their time at the hospital.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Where was her son? He should be here by now…
     The sky was slate gray, leaded with snow and it coloured the small bland buildings that squatted underneath it, seemingly huddled together for warmth. The forecast called for several inches, but it hadn't started yet. It was a good thing too because once it did, travelling by bus would slow to a crawl as holiday travelers packed the one-room bus terminal. It was a converted train station, but the train had long since gone and the grain silo had been converted into another kind of storage. There was nothing festive about this last December day and the pathetic old Christmas decorations that had been strung carelessly throughout only served to underscore how lonely the season could be.

     Wanda felt like she had been waiting for ages in the cold green-tiled bus terminal when she decided to sneak off and have another cigarette while sitting in her car. It wouldn't do to stand outside and smoke. Only sluts with no breeding stood outside and smoked on street corners. Everybody knew that. She waddled outside, casting disparaging glances at the young women who were entering with their luggage; on their way to some exciting Christmas vacation to fornicate and be promiscuous, no doubt. Wanda glared behind thick glasses and shook her head but it was hard to take her seriously as she fumbled with her lighter while dragging a small oxygen tank behind her. No, she preferred to sit in her car where she could be comfortable and listen to the bible-thumping radio station. The holy roller this afternoon was well-oiled and halfway through his long and detailed list of sin and vices that afflicted the masses as she humped herself behind the wheel and lit up.

     The declarative sentences and brazen judgements filled Darryl's mother with a sense of righteous indignation that by turns got her blood pumping and relaxed her. She liked knowing that someone was in charge. She wanted to be with the winners. She happily puffed away listening to the state-sanction hate machine that was republican radio when she noticed a well-dressed man headed right for her car. He walked briskly with a small leather duffel bag slung over his shoulder and a pair of expensive-looking sunglasses to cut the flat light of the dreary afternoon. She did the only thing she could do, she began to panic. Who the hell was this? What did he want? The radio man would have said he was there to rape her. They talked a lot about rape on that radio show, actually, she just hadn't noticed before this moment. How for some women it was their god given destiny to be raped, which was truly awful if you thought about it. But was that true? Was this her moment?

     Her breath caught in her throat as she inhaled and she began to cough frantically, waving her hands in the air, ashes flying. Her breasts heaved as she tried to catch her breath and more smoke caught in her throat. She had effectively hot-boxed the car and the atmosphere was dizzying. Wanda clawed furtively at the driver's door to roll down the window. A sharp gust of wind blew through the car as the passenger side door suddenly opened and a man sat down beside her in the passenger seat. He reached across and rolled down the window for her, plucking the cigarette stub from her hand and flicking it out the window in one fluid motion. Then he gently put his hand on her back and began to rub in small circles. Her hacking cough began to subside and she was just choking on mucus caused by the eye-watering smoke, then even that began to clear in the icy air.

     "Just breathe", the man said softly. He was looking at her with a furrowed brow over his elegant sunglasses. The a fresh of gust of wind blew through the car again and she realized that a few small snowflakes were falling from the all-white sky. The man snapped off the radio with a dismissive grunt. The small kindness of human touch robbed her of her defenses and she was rendered speechless. She swallowed a few times experimentally and the rigid fear in her body unknotted.

     "Who-" she attempted to speak. The man lifted his glasses over his head and looked at her with clear eyes. They were beautiful blue and for a moment she was lost in time.

     "Mom!" He said sharply, "I'm going to drive". And rattled the keys in his hand beside his head where she could see them. "Are you hungry?", he grinned, "I know I am!"

     "Darryl", she gasped. "Darryl, oh, it's you…" She sounded different to her own ears. More gentle, more…. needy? No, just softer. It was okay. It was okay how she sounded. But he couldn’t hear her because he had stood to move his bag into the trunk. He dropped the lid with a firm thunk and came around the driver's side. She slid on along the bench of the old model Grand Prix and Darryl dropped the car into gear. He rested his arm behind her head as he back out of the parking space and negotiated the extralong car out of the lot. It wasn’t crowded but the snow was beginning to stick. It would be a white Christmas after all.

     As he angled out onto the road and into traffic he accelerated toward the centre of town, where the restaurants were and tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, humming a little. "How are you doing?" he said. "Feeling better?" and he smiled again at her. She nodded eagerly and noticed that he had lost a lot of weight. She had so many questions. Why was he so different? "Mom, I met someone," he stated proudly. She felt a tinge of jealous but overall her heart leaped at the thought. He moved his hand to hers and gave it a little squeeze. "And I want you to tell me about my father." And her heart sank.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     In the end it wasn't that bad. Over coffee the two of them flipped through old photographs and newspaper clippings. Almost twenty years of articles and pictures that Wanda had carefully stored in albums and folders concerning Dr. Micah Ballantree...

     Wanda and Dr. Ballantree had had a whirlwind affair, the stuff dreams are made of. After weeks of sending yellow roses to her office, he followed up with a small silver necklace with a pendant of a moon. The card attached said, "Only once in a blue moon do you meet the One. Will you have dinner with me?" Since there was no way to respond she simply had to wait until he made the next move. It was agony, but in a good way. It was also profoundly destabilizing in that she never knew what to expect when she went into the office. In retrospect, she probably should have spoken to someone. The whole affair had always been on his terms. 

"So this is my father?" Darryl asked hesitantly. "But this means..."

     Actually it felt good to go over things in her mind. The whole situation had left her so humiliated and ashamed and scared that she had buried it tightly and never looked back. By the time he told her he was married, Wanda was already pregnant. From a legal perspective, she knew that David Ballantree and his ice queen of a wife had the power and the means to remove her child from her custody. But still she was in love with him. She dreamed of a life with him but her pragmatic farmer's upbringing eventually won out: nothing real can be built on a fantasy. Those final weeks of her relationship with him were how long it took to come to terms with her new reality but everyday she came dangerously close to telling him.

     Sensing something was wrong, David came to Wanda and told her that he was thinking of leaving his wife, that he wanted to make a future with her. But talk is cheap and Wanda in her heart didn't really believe him. Some part of her wanted to raise this baby on her own. In David's world she would always be the "second wife", the legal secretary, without family money or connections or breeding. She would always be an outsider. Something inside Wanda revolted in disgust. Disgust at herself for falling so hard, disgust at David and all the men like him who did this to women, disgust at the air of respectibility that favoured doctors no matter how many vows they broke.

     So she ran. She moved out of her apartment and back home to the farm. She quit her job at the legal firm - a truly stupid move in retrospect - and took part-time work as a cashier at the local general store. This gave her the support and time to raise her son in veritable anonimity. Darryl was a strong brave boy, good with animals and loved to run and camp in the fields. He was his father's son. When her own father died and her brothers sold the farm, she moved back to the city and picked up where she left off as a legal secretary but this time it wasn't as easy.

     The salaries were meager and she had trouble settling in any one place, always fearful David would find her good, bright boy and take him from her. She followed his career and family in the newspaper. He seemed to be thriving, which created a spark of bitterness that took root and grew within in her. More and more Wanda leaned on her son as the man of the house, ultimately emasculating him. She smoked too much and it began to cripple her lungs. She drank too much and the weight gain caused diabetes.

"Does he know about me?" Darryl asked, quietly. This was a lot to take in.

"No. Not as far as I know. But you are 21 now and free to ... free to ... leave me..." For Wanda, the tears had finally begun to flow. She had done a horrible thing robbing her son of a father. She was just so scared. So, so scared all the time. She curled in on herself and cried and cried endlessly, almost silently. Long minutes passed. Then she felt his arms around her. But they almost could not get all the way around her.

"We are going to start exercising", he whispered in her ear. 

And they both started laughing.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Blood Bather: Chapter 12

The Blood Bather


Chapter 12 - November

            Oh, November, thought White Rose, the most wretched month. No dawn, no dusk, no proper time of day... That was a poem about November her old Irish nanny used to rhyme to her before bed. Strange that she should remember it now.
            Naked, White Rose carefully lay down on the cold plastic tanning bed, with her earphones blaring Britney Spears 'Toxic' and a pair of tiny sun goggles balanced on her nose. She hit the 'ON' button and the lamps sprang to fluorescent life. Her chilled body covered in goose bumps began to warm up and relax.
            '...your toxic tongue slippin' under...
            From a distance the squealing headphones sounded like a Bollywood film.
            Honestly, what would she do without the tanning bed? The heat from the lamps began to work its magic and immediately White Rose felt her spirits lighten. Her skin, never without a golden glow, began to pink under the carcinogenic light.
No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
            Yes, the poem was definitely on her mind. But it was understandable. If late summer was the most beautiful time of year on this campus then November was definitely the ugliest. It was bitterly cold but not snowing, the trees were bare and the leaves were gone from the relentlessly whistling wind that tangled her hair. The sky was always grey.
            White Rose peered down at her body, her large fake breasts standing at attention on her chest. She remembered begging Mother for breast augmentation for her 18th birthday, but the old battle ax refused, citing her rhinoplasty, her Lasik surgery and the cost of her upcoming tuition as financial reasons. That was utter bullshit! Her father could definitely afford it. With his taste for whiskey and whores he had no right to judge. It was torture being the only one who was flat-chested at her private boarding school. These were her peers and they looked up to her. What her mother didn't understand was that her reputation was at stake, it was no longer a simple exercise in vanity.
            White Rose, who by all accounts was a very resourceful person, had figured out an alternative source of revenue and applied for a student loan under an assumed name. No way would they have approve her if she had used her real name.
            Anyway, it worked! She had booked an appointment as soon as she had moved on campus in her freshman year. It would be a least 6 weeks before she would see her parents again, even more if she was really deceptive, or rather resourceful in her reasons to stay away. Having no one to be there before and after the surgery had been a gut check for sure. At the last minute, after she couldn't argue or hiss or fight with the nurse anymore, she had eventually capitulated and called Audra to come and get her from the plastic surgeon's office. Audra had been a first year student like herself assigned to the dorm across the hall and had quickly become White Rose's first friend. Audra in her typical dry way and taken one look at the situation and sized up correctly that White Rose was probably hating life, being in a moment of need. She had taken upon herself and driven to the pharmacy for a series of cold packs, hot packs and pain medication, then to their dorm and put White Rose to bed. The pain had been literally excruciating for three days. In a moment of weakness, White Rose had gasped to Audra, "Do they look really fake?" Without missing a beat, Audra had responded "They're real once they're in, m' dear". In the tanning bed, White Rose smiled now at the memory.

            But the pain had been worth it because it had landed her the biggest prize of all, Micah Ballantree. The uptown old money scion of the Ballantree fortune and foundation. After rushing her sorority, the best on campus, with the full intention of one day becoming its illustrious president she had cornered Micah outside a bathroom at one of his frat's wild keggers. He was pretty drunk which made it easy to convince him to lie down in his room. She was careful to give him a taste but not too much all at once, whetting his desire for her. Mostly she just talked, telling him every little thing he wanted to hear. Young men were so easy to manipulate. Her father had taught her that.

            Micah had probably had sex all of four times by the time she met him. His family no doubt had kept him on a very tight leash. He had woken up with just a vision of her, and no one knew her name or claimed to have seen her. It drove him crazy. That kind of thing drove all men crazy, White Rose mused, and she worked it completely to her advantage. It was several weeks before he saw her again and this time it him pursuing her. Perfect for how she wanted to be seen among her sisters. And especially Audra. It was strange; as a woman she liked and respected Audra, she even trusted her, but nothing could stop her from hating her and wanting everything Audra had - everything every woman had - for her own. Except Sherrise. Sherrise was so different; so strong where others were weak and so smart where others were stupid. She loved talking to Sherrise because she felt so calm when she did. Even thinking about her made White Rose blush a little.

            Slowly the air temperature around White Rose changed. The air that was warming up so nicely was beginning to cool. Had some fucking asshole left the outer door open? The place was cheaply constructed and the walls of each room containing one tanning bed did not go all the way up to the ceiling. Never one to hide her annoyance or miss an opportunity for vulgarity she plucked out her earphone and screamed "Shut the door assholes, I'm practically naked here." There! That should get their attention. That always got their attention.

            The tanning bed hummed and Britney squealed through the rest of her song. The next track started up, something about being lonely despite huge fame and fortune. Figures the dumb southern belle wouldn't know a good thing when she saw it, thought White Rose, she isn't so much a dancer as a gymnast who can lip-sync. But that didn't stop wealthy Japanese businessmen from propositioning her. White Rose marvelled at the power of fame, it made people see what they wanted to see. Fame was really just an act. Anyone could do it.

            The air was still chilly and it was seriously annoying. White Rose felt her frustration level rise and, of course, her rage kicked in shortly thereafter; one followed the next like night and day. Still stark naked, she kicked the clamshell of the tanning bed open with her long legs and opened the door to scream obscenities at whomever was out there. Her tiny goggles clattered to the floor as she was met with an icy blast of winter wind coming in from the outer door. It was practically off its hinges. Instinctively, she made a move to cover her breasts and crotch with both her arms to protect her from the teeth of the gale.

            "What the fuck-", whispered White Rose. Was there a tornado? In November? She was momentarily taken aback and speechless, which was so rare. Despite the wind, there was no movement. The person at the front desk appeared to be absent. The calypso music they usually played over the speakers was silent.

            White Rose heard a noise behind her, it was coming from the spa at the end of the hall. This tanning salon boasted a small but beautifully appointed Jacuzzi and shower as well as a massage table. For the all the underclassmen that want a rub and tug between classes, White Rose thought unkindly. Still naked and very cold, but inflamed by her desire rage against someone anyone, she march down the icy hall and into the spa.

            The air was considerably warmer in here. White Rose scanned the room with her eyes. The counters were clad in fake marble and the ceiling sported subdued pot lights. The whole ambience was a study in post-modern airport lounge. Even so, it was very relaxing in here. White Rose felt her pulse slow and she exhaled slowly as her Pilates instructor had taught her. Feeling more herself, she began:
            "Hey, asshole, your fucking door is broken"
            Silence.
            "If you are busy shitting, you need to pinch it off!"
            Still more silence.
            This was stupid. Better to get her clothes and get out of her. Heaven forbid these jerks try to blame her for the damage. White Rose turned to go and came face to face with a beautiful brunette, with long shining hair. Who was also naked.

            The woman was shorter than White Rose, and older, she noticed with disdain but everything about her was luminous and warm. There was a heat emanating off her tight little body unlike anything she had felt before. The woman took her wrist and delicately held it to her nose, inhaling deeply. White Rose was almost hypnotized by the sight and did not resist. In fact, she felt calmer than she had in years. This woman reminded her of something... something from her childhood?

            White Rose was struck from her reverie by a sudden and urgent dripping sound. The woman had thrust a nail into her wrist and blood was dripping on the floor. But there was no pain. White Rose was magnetized by the sight of such rich redness spilling and dripping and oozing in every direction on the floor.

            "Beautiful, is it not?"
            White Rose snapped her head to the woman but her lips had not moved. In fact, her face was no longer beautiful but menacing, there was a flashing hunger in her eyes that White Rose recognized. It was a feeling she was very familiar with: rage. No, jealousy. Actually a combination of both.

            It sparked a flurry of thoughts and images flooded her consciousness. All the years and all the people and all the conversations she had ever had in her young life. Twenty one years of acting lessons and the best shampoo and this is all she had to show for it. A few fake friends and a faithless boyfriend. From her perspective now, everything she had ever cared about was useless. She gasped as her lungs fought for breathe, her blood pressure dropping fatally, but it was more a gasp of realization that she had wasted so many precious resources on such selfish pursuits. Then she was sad. Utterly, dismally sad that no actual part of herself had ever been cultivated in all her years and with all her education. The sadness seemed to start in the her heart but then it flung itself down her arm, making it numb. She was mildly aware that her heart was gasping for oxygen, pumping irregularly in her delicate rib cage, beneath her gorgeous fake breasts. She was devastated to know that she was going to die never really knowing herself. It broke her heart and she felt dull ache echo through the right side of her chest and down her arm making the fingers in her right hand tingle.

            The last thing White Rose thought about, as the blood draining from her brain released seemingly unrelated synaptic connections, was her father. White Rose flashed on her earliest memory: Her father swinging her in his arms as she walked along the sidewalk, one two three wheeee onetwothreewheeee
            
        The thing that was Dr. Elzbeta Nadasdy watched as the girl began to swoon and caught her as she began to fall. She dropped her body into the empty jacuzzi and began to massage the girls arm under warm water, filling the tub with a crimson fluid. The blood flowed faster in this way and underneath the fake glow, White Rose took on a grotesque pallor. Then Elzbeta slipped into the tub next to the girl and sank down, willing her hungry body to absorb the blood directly into her pores. For a moment she was relaxed and all was still. White Rose sighed her last and slipped beneath the water.

But something was wrong.
            Elzbeta dropped her head beneath the water and lifted it out again, hissing with pain and frustration. She was coated in bloody water, making her hair hard and it was steaming on her skin, burning and wrinkling it, but it wasn't because it was hot. She knew what the problem was. Moving quickly with superhuman strength she lifted White Rose up and out of the water dropped her lifeless body on the tiled floor. As her head hid the hard marble it made a vile sound of overripe fruit hitting the ground, and a lesser sound, one that only animals could hear, was the ring of a necklace striking the ceramic. Not just any necklace, it was a gold crucifix purchased for White Rose by a loving relative on a trip to Italy when she was a girl. It had the added benefit of being actually blessed in the presence of the Pope. But Elzbeta heard it.
            "Go to hell" she hissed again and the cross moved away from the sound of her voice, straining the filigreed chain of the necklace; it shook but did not break.
            Having effectively created holy water, the bath was useless to Elzbeta. She sat placidly on the edge of the jacuzzi like a renaissance painting of a woman at her toilet. She should know since she had posed for more than one portrait in her life, but her mind racing was ferociously. Finally, she simply roared in frustration like a wounded lion.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Blood Bather: Chapter 11


The Blood Bather


Chapter 11

            Audra could hear Belinda giggling as she approached the Rare Book Library. Honestly, did those two ever stop? It was like formula for a young adult novel with them. Audra was terrified at any moment that Edward was going to jump on the nearest sofa and declare that he had carved Belinda's name into his chest. Belinda seemed to be more level-headed, though, and would probably take that all in stride. Plus she was outrageously wealthy and could probably have Edward "disappeared" if it all got to be too much.
            Maybe Audra was jaded, or just simply jealous. After all, the most "love" she received tonight was when Micah rang her landline as she was walking out the door to the library. She had ignored it though. She was trying to put an end to obvious booty calls from Micah. She was trying to quit him altogether and for the most part it was working, as long as she stayed busy. Very very busy.
            Apropos of nothing, Audra's little "sister" Song Le had advised her sometime ago that the best way to get over a man was to get under a new one, which - coming from such a conservative woman - was equal parts horrifying and hilarious. But the saying did have some truth to it. Audra would have to keep her radar out for an equally jaded man who could ease her aching spirit...
            "Hiya Audra! What took you so long?" Edward broke his gaze from Belinda as Audra hefted the unbelievably heavy oak door aside and bounced up to help her. "Anyway, take my chair, I need to sharpen my pencil."
            Sharpen..?
            "Is that some sort of clever euphemism?" wondered Audra.
            "No," laughed Belinda,"he really is just using pencils. He thinks it's more authentic than pens or something. Everybody searches for their college experience in their own way, I guess."
            "Ain't that the truth" muttered Audra, it was her night for one-liners obviously. "So, what have you uncovered so far, Victorian detectives?"
            "Well, as you know, our assignment was to research the solitary nature of the English gentlemen of the 1820s; his work ethic, his opportunities for marriage as a function of his becoming gainfully employed. It was different than today. Women made prudent choices based on class expectations and financial forecasting. For men, it was a sincere achievement to convince a woman to marry him based on his merits as a provider. It was far more realistic and a greater indicator of success than today's love matches.
            "Hmmm," said Audra. Her mind was on Micah. Faced with purely economic conditioning, would she choose him? The answer was yes, unequivably yes, entirely due to his wealth and privilege. For some reason that made her stomach turn. It was hot to have an affair with someone who was hot, redundant phrasing aside, but to be tied to him forever was a different story...it was his infidelity that made her judge him harshly and see him as weak. His privilege made him slightly less capable in her eyes. What a little hypocrite she was! Obviously, it would be different if she were starving, opium-addicted waif...
            ..."and how much time men spent apart from women. There was no real co-mingling, or 'cross-pollination' of the sexes. The risk of losing what was available in the hopes that something better might eventually come along forced an entirely different set of decision-making skills."
            I can relate, thought Audra.
            But she didn't think it for long because at that moment Edward came flying down the corridor and slammed a book down on the table. Dust flew up causing everyone to cough and sputter. Edward was lit from within but still maintained his sage exterior.
            "Hey! Look what I found!" said, brandishing his pencil and turn a page of the heavy thick book. The first few pages where a soft moss green, it took a minute to realize, it was actually a delicate type of mold.
            "Oh! It's rotting!" exclaimed Belinda.
            "That's right," nodded Edward, ever the scholar. "It's vellum, or sheep skin, and it has not been well-preserved."
            "What the hell are you touching it for, then?" asked Audra. They were absolutely going to get in trouble for this. "And where did you get it?"
            "I ...found it. There are cabinets back there. Some are unlocked." Edward squirmed under the scrutiny. He was lying. He had picked the lock. It was a problem he had, fairly compulsive. But he was keeping a lid on it. That and the fires...he hadn't started one in ages. "But actually check it out because it's not in English, it's in Latin. Or rather, it's an old English translation of a Latin court record. A Vatican court record."
            "What?" both girls in unison.
            Edward, speaking in his most professorial tone and foreshadowing the great scholar he would eventually become, began: "Follow me, folks, this isn't hard. It's a book, a 'modern' translation -for the time- of a much older tribunal held in...," Edward squinted and peered flipping the first few pages back and forth, creating cracks in the dry binding. "...what is now Hungary by three priests ...and overseen by a cardinal. It's a court case, see? Here it has the allegations made by the prosecuting priests and responses from the accused and evidence from various witnesses, mostly peasant folk."
            "How are you reading this?" Audra wondered aloud.
            "Um well, I've just been practicing." No, that wasn't true. Edward had been here before. He had actually been in every building and every room in the entire campus. When his insomnia kept him up at night, he found it relaxing to explore his environment. The various keys and lock picking equipment he had accumulated over the years came in helpful but he didn't always need it. People had a way of not seeing him. And he had a way of using that to his advantage. Specifically in the Rare Book Library, he had been through all these books before. This was just the most interesting one and the one he most wanted to show (and show off!) to Belinda. He loved sharing stuff with her. He felt so smart around her. They were so different and they had so much to teach each other.
            "But that's not the best part-"
            "What's the best part?” Audra asked dryly. Edward ignored that and Belinda smiled at him.
            "The best part is that they seem to be talking about possession... by the devil... and an exorcism..."
"...Or rather, what to do when the exorcism doesn't work."
            The room seemed to still around them. This was fairly off-putting. Audra felt a small chill go up her spine and began to wonder about her walk home. Maybe she should ask Belinda and Edward to walk with her... it was dumb to take risks on campus.
            The question hung in the air.
            Finally: "What do you do when the exorcism doesn't work", Belinda whispered flatly, not a question.
            "It seems the accused was a ...let me see... a woman. No surprise there, heh."
            Silence from Audra. Rolled eyes from Belinda. Edward could be annoying.
            "Ahem, yes, ...'found to be possessed but various attempts at ridding her of the demon were wholly unsuccessful', so...
            "So?" Audra now. Both these girls were hanging off his every word and he was seriously enjoying it. Edward was flipping through pages quite quickly now. There were vast tracts of biblical passages that had been inscribed in colour plates, not faded with age. Vibrant greens and golds, iridescent blues seemed to jump from the page even in the low light of the Rare Book Library. There were images of various rituals, priests holding talismans to the foreheads of the masses, doves and angels framing the corners of the pages, shapes of the cross with crucified bodies upon them - no, impaled bodies on single trunks of wood, completely gruesome - there were even pencil marks in the margins, proof that someone had been here before.
            "She was bricked up in the tower of her castle and passed food through a small hole" Edward said finally.
            "The tower of her castle. She must have been rich, nobility?"
            "Yes, it would seem so." Edward, the wise man.
            "So, to recap," Belinda said. "The Vatican in Rome thought enough of this situation to send three priests and a cardinal to a small backwater in Hungary on the word of some peasant folk that a woman - a castle-dwelling noble woman - was possessed by the Devil and all the conventional methods of devil-removing were not effective. And their solution was to brick her up in the Hungarian equivalent of the Tower of London. I can see why the Victorian gentleman would enjoy this book." They all laughed.
            "Well, yes, but..." Edward began again.
            "But what?" asked Audra.
            "She was accused of murder. Actually, torture, murder and something that reads exsanguinatore maximus per virginus dolore ... 'full bloodletting of sorrowful virgins'..."
            "Holy moly," breathed Audra.
            "But no, that is not what it says. The English translator makes it clear that is not what the Hungarian word really means, at least not colloquially among these peasant folk. Apparently these Hungarian farmers were fairly coherent Third-Wave feminists because, while they did have a word for virgin, that is not the word they are using. They had another word for a young woman. A word meaning she had never had an orgasm. In their culture, fertility was a function of whether or not a man could give his woman an orgasm. No orgasm, no babies, at least as far a local folk knowledge goes. The Hungarians weren't accusing her of killing virgins, as in women who had never had sex as some of these victims were very married women, it means the woman had never had an orgasm. And the accused could somehow smell it. These were the women she killed. These were the maidens whom she bathed in their blood!"

            Then the lights went out.