Category: Writing

Winds West – 8

     Mr. Langdon returned home, and, as he had hinted in his letter, he returned with a new wife. Clara was nice enough to Liza, but made it obvious that she intended to run the house her own way and considered Liza superfluous, not to mention low class. She was too nose-in-the-air for Liza’s taste and had definite ideas about her proper station in the community. It was the first time Liza had ever met anyone with social pretensions and it amused her no end. It also made it easier to finally take the big step and strike out on her own. The differences between Clara and Liza were certainly not lost on Mr. Langdon, but he had a foot in both worlds. Coming from a background like Clara’s, he had lived many years in a world more like Liza’s and appreciated the faults and virtues of both. Now he had made his decision and Liza’s staying would only create friction in the house. It was time to close one chapter of the book and go on to the next.

     “Liza, when you came to us, I was grateful and I always will be. You were more than just an excellent housekeeper. But I think we both know it’s time for you to move on. You never had much chance to follow your own star, what with having to take over your own home, then mine. Now you can do whatever is in you to do. I’ve watched you these last two years and I’ll tell you frankly you can do anything you’ve a mind to. And as I said, I’m grateful. Anything I can do to help you get started, you need only ask. Perhaps you could become a schoolteacher. I have some influence in the town and I could arrange that. You would have no trouble getting a certificate. You’re much better read than most of our leading citizens.”

     “That’s because you let me use your library, Mr. Langdon. You don’t know how much that has meant to me since I came here. But while I appreciate you wanting to help, I think I’m going to go West. This country somehow seems to stifle me. Everything is so settled and proper. It’s like everyone here thinks their way of life is the only possible or proper way. You know the difference between folks in a big city and folks in the country. So do I, even if I haven’t been to a real big city yet. But what I want is more country, less city. Even Ohio is becoming too much like the East for me. I want to be able to stand on my own and build my own life without fretting about what other folks do or say. I can’t do that here.”

     “You’re right, of course. Feeling as you do, you would never be happy here. Different people have different views, and sometimes there isn’t as much tolerance as there should be. In some ways I envy you. It was your kind that built this country, then others came along to enjoy the fruits of that building. What I find sad is that the latecomers usually don’t appreciate what it took to build the land.”

     “I don’t blame them for that,” said Liza. “There’s no way they could understand what it took or what life was like years ago. They grow up with houses and churches and stores and all, with lots of people around. It just seems natural and normal to most folks. Somehow I’m different. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse. I just know I don’t want to stay here. If it’s alright with you, I’m going to go home next week. I want to visit Papa and the family before I start West.”

     “That’s fine, Liza. But I do want to show my appreciation for these last two years. I can give you letters of recommendation and introductions to some business acquaintances in Colorado. They might make it easier for you to get started out there, if that’s where you end up.”

     “Thank you, sir. I probably will go to Colorado. A friend of Papa’s runs a mercantile store out there and told Papa he’d help. Who knows? I may even run into the minister’s nephew!”

     “You might, at that. As I recall, he mentioned coming back here when it was time to find a wife, and somehow I think he had his eye on you. He’s a fine young man with a good chance to make something of himself. You could do worse. But Liza, don’t marry him or anybody else just for that. You’re still young and needn’t be in a hurry to wed. Indeed, it’s hard for me to remember just how young you are. But there’s a lot of life you haven’t had a chance to live yet. Give yourself that chance. Marry someone you love.”

     “I suppose I will, someday. Providing I find someone who feels the same way about me. That’s always a question, isn’t it?”

     “Not so much as you might think. Somehow, falling in love often seems to provoke the same reaction in the other person.”

     “Well, I guess I’ll just see what comes. As to Ryle Tate, I was only joshing.”

Now available on Kindle.

Blind Pig – 8

     “We can’t spend the rest of our lives in bed,” Lisa said. “At least let’s get up long enough to have dinner. Stop that!” She slapped lightly at the hand crawling up her calf. “Besides, we have to keep our strength up.” She sat up and swung her feet over the edge of the bed.

     Alan ran his hands over the smooth back, tracing the spine down to the swell of the buttocks. He noticed a scar and bent to take a closer look. “A bullet wound? You got shot in the ass?” he asked.

     Lisa turned, momentarily flustered. Well, it had to come out sooner or later. Maybe it was better now. “Yes, I got shot in the ass.” She paused, waiting to see what he made of it. He pursed his lips and eyed her speculatively. “I’m a cop, Alan. An NYPD detective. Does that change things?”

     “Not for me, love. Except that now I’ll worry when you go to work.”

     “You don’t need to worry. The dangerous days are behind me. I got that when I was doing foot patrol in the Bronx. I was trying to wrestle a gun away from a kid and I almost succeeded. Now that I’m a detective, the riskiest thing I do is ride the subway.” That wasn’t strictly true, of course. She was frequently tapped for undercover work or decoy jobs and often that meant no identification and no weapon. Her backup teams had always been there thus far, but there was always a risk of something going wrong. She’d heard some pretty nasty stories. “Honestly, darling, I can take care of myself. I’m a big girl now.”

     “Yes,” he said, “I suppose you are. But I’ll still worry. I don’t want to lose you.”

     “Hah! You couldn’t lose me if you wanted to! I’d use all the resources of the Department to track you down! Now get out of bed and show me how to find the kitchen.”

     “Deduce it, detective. Follow the trail of breadcrumbs or whatever it is you do. You’ll recognize it by the refrigerator and stove.”

     Lisa stuck her tongue out at him and trotted into the kitchen. God, he thought, there’s nothing like the sight of a naked woman galloping about to brighten up the apartment. “Careful you don’t lean over the stove. Wouldn’t want you singeing anything!”

     “Screw you, you horny man-thing.!” He heard her giggling amid the pots and pans. “How do you like your coffee?”

     “Like my women,” he called, “hot and sweet!”

     She laughed and brought in two coffees and day-old doughnuts. She leaned over to put his coffee mug on the nightstand and he kissed one breast. “Hey, you’ll make me spill it!”

     “That’s okay. The sheets need changing anyway,” he said.

     “You won’t think it’s okay if I spill it in your lap. You’d be parboiled and worthless for a week.”

     “I have blisters now,” he said, and she laughed. There was no doubt that they’d been making love at every opportunity since that first night.

     There was something liberating about just throwing caution to the winds and letting yourself love and be loved. She knew it would end some day, change to something less obsessive, but she was content to get the most of it while it lasted. “Yes, we’ll have to slow down. I wonder if we can start a fire by rubbing two genitalia together.”

     “I can see it now,” he said. “Arson Squad Investigates Mysterious Apartment Fire. Couple Found Melted Together. Be the sensation of the day, might make the Six O’Clock News.”

     Lisa fluffed up a pillow and leaned back against the headboard. “Now that you know I’m a cop, what do you do. Besides write?”

     “Oh, I tinker with computers. Do a little programming and designing. It pays the bills.”

     “Computers? Super! I almost got into that in college. Still could, I guess. We use lots of them for all kinds of things. Maybe you could get a job in the Police Department!”

     “Then neither of us would get anything done. We’d always be hiding out in some broom closet, screwing our brains out,” Alan said.

     She smiled. “It would have its advantages. But seriously, I know they’re automating new things. They’ve figured out a way to classify fingerprints so that computers can eliminate all but the most likely matches. Makes things easier for us working stiffs.”

     “I can see it would,” Alan said. “Who knows, someday we’ll all be carrying electronic IDs and you can track us night and day.”

     Lisa shuddered. “I’ll quit before that day comes. But you could be right. There are people pushing for that now.”

     Alan shrugged. “Some people are coming to value security more than freedom.”

     “It shouldn’t have to be one or the other,” Lisa said. “Why can’t we have both?”

     “It is one or the other,” Alan replied. “Think about it. Personally, I’d rather be free than safe.”

     “You’re old-fashioned,” Lisa said. In surprise, she realized that was true. He was more than old-fashioned, he was old, or at least considerably older than she was. “How old are you?”

     Alan put on his rueful look. “Forty-two next month. Old enough to be your father.”

     “My father is sixty-three. He’s in a nursing home and his mind is gone. I go up to see him every few weeks, but it’s been two years since he recognized me.”

     “I’m sorry. Do you love him?”

     Do I? she asked herself. “I guess so. When my brother and I were growing up, we fought tooth and nail with my father. He was a cop too, strict as hell and very overprotective. He wasn’t the sort of person who invited affection. I never understood what mother saw in him.”

     “Different strokes,” Alan said.

     “Yes, probably. Now that he’s lost it, all the cop is gone, all the authority-figure stuff. He’s almost sweet. Maybe he was more that way once, before he became a cop.”

     “What about your mother?”

     “Died four years ago. She had cancer for years. We were never too close. I always expected her to take my side against Dad, but she never did. There’s just me and my brother now.” She drained her coffee and set the mug down with a thump. “Now you know all about me and I don’t know anything about you. You didn’t grow up on New York, did you?”

     “No,” he said. “I grew up out West. A typical farm boy, I suppose. Then a few years in the Army, then New York.” There was a lot more between the lines, like the special training the army gave him. He didn’t think it wise to dwell on those years. Not yet, not until he knew her better.


     “My parents are dead. Brother living in Texas. Talk to him about twice a year. Haven’t seen him in ten.”

     “How long have you been writing?” she asked.

     “Oh Lordy! Since Adam was a pup!”

     She laughed. “All those years and never published? Maybe you aren’t cut out for the literary life.” She hoped she was wrong. Somehow, she wanted him to be a writer just as she wanted to be a serious poet. At least she told herself she did.

     “Let’s say I’ve been slack, shall we? That sounds better.”

     “Or lazy,” Lisa said, “or cowardly.”

     He chuckled. “You have no business being so perceptive. The function of a beautiful woman is to be beautiful and let some man appreciate her.”


     “Just kidding, love. You’re right, of course. I have been lazy or afraid to face what it takes to be a serious writer. Anyone can write, but committing oneself to be a writer is something else again. Have you ever seriously considered what it means to be a poet, as opposed to being someone who writes poetry?”

     “No, I just write. Sometimes I think it’s just a way to let off steam, a form of catharsis.”

     “It is that,” Alan said. “I gave up writing poetry because I wasn’t willing to be a poet. Prose somehow felt less dangerous. Little did I know!”

      “This conversation is getting entirely too cerebral. I just want us to write and make love. Wonder if we can combine them somehow.”

     “Yeah, I’ll dip my tool in ink and compose the Great American Novel. You heard someone peed on the White House lawn, wrote graffiti in the snow? They analyzed the urine and identified the Secretary of State, but the handwriting was the First Lady’s.”

     “You’re bad! That joke’s been going around for at least fifteen years. You must live like a hermit. Get a life!”

     He considered that. It was true he lived almost totally alone, hardly more than a nodding acquaintance to anyone. Well, that was about to change. Between Lisa and the money and the writing, he was about to come out of the self-imposed closet he’d lived in most of his life. “Yes,” he said slowly, “it’s time I got a life. You’re a good start.” He reached for her and felt a surge of desire as she slid into his arms.

Now available on Kindle.

Meme – 7

     Harry was expecting a phone call from the teenager, so he was surprised to find the young man at his front door.

     “Good evening, sir. May I come in?”

     More polite than most his age, Harry thought. “You must be Jesse. Come in, come in.”

     The boy unslung his backpack and dropped it on the sofa, glancing quickly around the room, including the art work, which he recognized would impress his sister. He also noticed the lady who had spoken to him outside the clinic, stretched out before the fireplace and looking rather sultry. He wondered if he had interrupted something, but it was too late to worry about that now.

     As far as he knew, nobody in town had ever been inside the MacOliver home. It was known he was well-to-do, but he kept pretty much to himself. Jesse considered himself privileged to be there. “The lady said you wanted to talk to me?”

     “Yes indeed. Helen told me you were recording the protest and our little contretemps?”

     “If that means when you totally destroyed that lady, you’re right.” He went to his backpack and extracted a laptop and a CD. “It’s all on this CD. If you don’t have a PC, we can view it on mine.”

     Harry gestured toward his office. “I think I have something to view it on. Come with me.”

     The boy followed Harry into his office and stopped short, laughing at himself. “I guess you do have a PC or two. You’ve got more stuff here than my high school computer lab. What’s that?”

     “That”, Harry said, “is a real computer. An IBM mainframe. I don’t use it as much as I used to , but it’s still the best thing for crunching passwords.”

A big grin began to spread across Jesse’s face. “Hacking? Is that how you found out about that woman having an abortion?”

     “No’, Harry laughed. “The world of secrecy and digging up secrets didn’t start with computers. Let’s see that CD.”

     Harry slipped it into one of the PCs with a big screen daisy-chained to the monitor Mrs. Howe and the entire entourage blasted to life on a 60-inch screen, chanting and praying and shouting their message of fundamentalism and hypocrisy.

     Helen came in and the three of them settled down to watch the confrontation. It was just what Harry had hoped.

     “This is going to be your class assignment?”, he asked. “What do you think the teacher is going to say about it?”

     Jesse laughed. “She’ll have a heart attack. Our projects were supposed to be combined into an hour-long show for the TV station, but there’s no way she’ll let me put this footage on the air. And I doubt if the TV station would have the guts to show it.”

     “You’re probably right,” Harry said with a grin, “but it seems a shame to deny the world the opportunity to observe such grand hypocrisy, doesn’t it? Maybe Youtube?”

      Jesse grinned broadly. “At least. There are a lot of places you can post videos. But what do I do if she sues me?”

     “Well”, Harry said, “she can sue me, presumably for slander and recording it might make it libel – I’ll let my lawyer worry about that –but truth is a good defense and the truth is on my side in this case. You are just a citizen journalist, so all she could do to you is try to browbeat you into taking down the video, but I have some ideas about that. If you’re interested in doing more things like this, exposing the assholes of the world, we can discuss it over pizza. You game?”

     “Yessir! And I know some other people who would be happy to help.”

     “Good. One advantage to being rich is you can hire good lawyers, good programmers and hackers, lots of hardware and bandwidth and PR people. With a bit of luck I fully intend to torpedo a lot of careers.“

To be continued…

Winds West – 7

     She didn’t know where the days went. She was kept so busy with the details of living that she seldom had time to consider what her life was all about. Now that had changed. For the past two weeks she’d had the place all to herself. Mr. Langdon had gone visiting and taken the whole brood with him. They were staying with relatives in Pittsburg while he investigated business ventures with the railroad. He had written her a letter which mentioned that he was thinking of getting married again. If so, he would no longer need her services. Papa’s circumstances had improved during the time she had been away from home and he had told her to keep all of what she earned. Mr. Langdon had let her expand the garden and sell whatever the family didn’t need. She had managed to accumulate nearly two hundred dollars. Now she faced choices she had never had before.

     She was fifteen and a woman now. Even the physical changes had arrived. She felt grateful to her mother for preparing her for that transition to womanhood. Now that she thought of it, it occurred to her that during the last couple of years before her death, Mama had been preparing all the girls for her own absence. She knew she was dying and did her best to make her death as easy as possible for the others.

     Liza began to run over in her mind the many conversations between her and Mama. Mama had talked of how she had met Papa, what it was like being in love and courting, even what it was like to sleep with a man and bear his children. Liza had not yet experienced that, but expected she would be able to put up with it as well as any other woman. It was curious, that part of the man and woman thing. On the one hand, she knew all about the mechanics of sex. One couldn’t grow up in the country and be entirely ignorant of such things. She knew it was something all men were supposed to want and women to tolerate. But in her limited experience, it seemed that many of the young men were completely bewildered and only went through the motions of pursuing the girls. Rather like a dog chasing a train…what would they do if they caught it? For herself, while she had never flt any Grand Passion for any man, there seemed to be some vague yearning deep inside, so cloudy that she couldn’t even identify the target of the desire. Perhaps that would come, in time.

     But not around here. She realized that there was really nothing to hold her in Ohio. It was settled and civilized and full of nice folks and a few fools, but it lacked something she wanted, something she needed. Perhaps that was why her folks had left Pennsylvania so long ago and settled in Ohio. Perhaps they too needed the challenge of a new country, the opportunity for independence and having the course of their lives in their own hands. She was sure that was what Papa had wanted. For herself, she wanted to build her own life, not just settle into a role prepared for her by someone else, no matter how well-meaning.

     She thought of Ryle Tate, the minister’s nephew, and wondered how he was getting along with the ranch he had planned to build. He might make a good husband if he could learn to let a woman stand beside him instead of behind him, if he could accept a wife as a partner instead of some fragile thing he had to coddle. Men seemed to be like that, she thought. She didn’t know why. But not her man, she told herself. “I won’t settle for being an ornament to some man’s life.”


Blind Pig – 7

     The officer dropped the report on Lisa’s desk. “No luck, Bogar. They ran the print against the drug crowd and the whole databank, but they came up dry. Want to ship it to Washington?”

     Lisa shook her head. “No, not yet. I’ll do some more spadework first.” She glanced at the file. Jared Crowley, dead of a knife wound to the heart. Evans, bum, throat cut. Only Crowley’s prints on the weapon. One foreign print on the fire escape. The ladder had been so rough and rust-scaled it hadn’t taken good prints. They’d found one on a railing and damn lucky to get that. She had an 8×10 blow-up in front of her and she stared at it, as if it could reveal its identity. Or at least its character, she thought. It would almost be enough to know the kind of person she was dealing with. Assuming it wasn’t a totally unrelated fingerprint, she reminded herself.

     “What sort of person kills and walks away, then informs the police?” she asked the wall.

     “I dunno,” Officer Caddo said. “Maybe a guilty conscience? A nut case?”

     “Huh! I doubt it. Either the killing was planned or it was impulsive, maybe accidental. If it was deliberate, that implies the killer had criminal intent. Why call the cops later? If it was spontaneous or accidental, why not come forward later? I’m afraid there’s only one likely answer.”

     “What’s that, Bogar?” Lieutenant Arnold had been listening.

     “The money, sir. The half-a-million dollars. Whoever killed Crowley has it. That’s 500,000 reasons for not coming forward.”

     “And he called 911 because?”

     “Because he’s not a criminal. He’s someone who stumbled into a drug deal and wanted us to know.”

     “Talk around the office is you’re looking for Super Civilian. Now you’re evidently looking for Rich Super Civilian.”

     Detective Bogar shrugged. “I know they make fun of it, but can you suggest a more likely possibility?”

     The Lieutenant leaned back against the doorjamb. “Bogar, I’ve seen enough things in the last twenty years that nothing surprises me any more. But you seem to have come up against a dead end. You can’t investigate every wealthy civilian in New York. And we have other cases to work on. I want you to help Dowling on that bookstore killing. Let this one gather dust for now.”

     Lisa sighed. “Okay, boss. I guess this one just has me more curious than usual. I’ll put it aside for now.” Silently, she wondered if she could really put it aside. She stared once more at the fingerprint, although by now it was almost engraved on her memory. She closed the file and dropped it into the folder with the rest of the paperwork. “Where’s Dowling now?”

     “In Ballistics. I told him you’d be working with him.”

     You mean you warned him, Lisa thought. Told him to keep his pecker in his pants and his hands to himself. She smiled. Somehow, having Alan in the wings gave her more confidence in her ability to deal with the sexism that permeated the Department. She might as well get this over with. The sooner the day ended, the sooner she would be back with Alan. She shivered at the thought.


Meme – 6

     Harry drove home, satisfied that he had fired the opening salvo of what he fully intended to be a war.

     I thought that woman was going to have a heart attack”, Helen said. “And a lot of the others weren’t much better. How’d you know she’d had an abortion when she was 18?”

     Harry smiled. “My cousin ran the camp where she was a councilor and he arranged for the abortion. Knowing her parents, he felt sorry for her and kept it quiet at the time. He met her again years later, after she had gone all holier-than-thou and her hyporisy ticked him off. He told me all about it. As far as the others, it was really a guess, but did you notice how many of them reacted?” He chuckled. “And I did a little digging into the past of that preacher. He got his degree from a diploma mill and started his own church mostly because established congregations didn’t want him. Ten years ago he was living hand-to-mouth, running a tiny mission in the seedier part of Chicago. Two years ago he showed up here with enough cash to build a church. I’m still tracking it down, but it seems he hooked a wealthy, senile patron who willed him her estate and died before the family found out about it. There was a lawsuit but it never went to court. I suspect the legitimate heirs paid him off just to go away. Morally questionable at the very least.”

     Helen laughed. “Okay, one down and one to go. Who’s your next target?”

     “I haven’t decided, but I’ll tell you something. In this day and age, privacy is pretty much non-existent. The only people who are unknown are those business and government don’t feel are worth the trouble. They probably know a lot about me but probably very little about you. Homeless people don’t interest corporations or governments unless they make trouble. Then they’re just stepped on but are still mostly anonymous.”

     “Yeah, we always told ourselves we were nobodies, at least nobody anyone cared about. It hurt at first, but you get used to it.”

     “Nobody should be treated like a nobody”, Harry said. “I’m going to spend the rest of my life and whatever it takes to remedy that.”

     “You can’t support all the homeless”, Helen said, “no matter how rich you are.”

     “No, but I msy be able to change things so that homelessness is no longer socially and politically acceptable. I don’t have to do it all by myself. What did you find out about that kid?”

     “He was there was as an assignment for his journalism class, documenting an anti-abortion protest. He thinks they’re a bunch of assholes and was delighted when you shot down Mrs Howe. He recorded the whole thing.”

     “I’d hoped it was something like that. Did you ask him to give me a call?”

     “Sure did. He promised to call you tonight. He has a serious case of hero worship.” She grinned. “He could have done worse”.

     Harry smiled.


Winds West – 6

     Liza was sitting under an ancient cherry tree with the younger Langdons gathered around her, listening to her read Sir Walter Scott. As Mr. Langdon was having a farewell word with the minister and his wife, Ryle Tate wandered around the yard, slowly gravitating toward the group of children. Liza kept half an eye on him as he sat down on the grass nearby. Was he just passing the time waiting for his Aunt and Uncle to finish their goodbyes, or did he have other things on his mind?

     “Alright, children. That’s enough for today. It’s school tomorrow. You scoot off and get ready for bed.”

     The children knew better than to protest, and dutifully headed back toward the house. Only little Becky lingered, staring from Liza to Ryle.

     “Liza, are you going to marry him?” She had come to love and depend on Liza, and looked at Ryle Tate as if he were come to steal her away from them.

     “Land o’ Goshen, child! What ever put that into your head? Of course not! Now be off with you, and don’t forget to wash behind your ears.”

     She shoo’d Becky on her way and turned to Ryle with a smile. Before she had a chance to say anything, Ryle chuckled and said, “Out of the mouths of babes… Tell me, Elizabeth, are you really not going to marry me?”

     “What makes you think I want to marry anyone?”

     “Why I just assumed you would. Don’t most girls want to get married someday?”

     Liza shrugged. “Maybe. I can’t speak for others. I expect I’ll decide when the time comes, if it ever does.”

     “Oh, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that. Anyone who can cook like you and keep house will have no trouble finding a man. And good with children, too. Where I’m going, you’d have your choice of husbands.”

     “And where might that be?” Liza didn’t want to admit to having eavesdropped on them.

     “Colorado. As beautiful a place as you’ll ever see. I’m going to go into ranching. Sooner or later, I expect I’ll be looking for a wife myself.”

     Liza clenched her teeth and kept her temper with difficulty. Is that how he thought of her? A housekeeper, cook and mother? She had never spent much time fantasizing about romance, but he seemed never to have even heard of it. She wasn’t particularly vain, but she knew she was pretty and it irritated her that he hadn’t so much as acknowledged it even in passing. The man was completely hopeless!

     “Mr. Tate! I cook and keep house and tend children because that’s what I’m paid to do, not because it’s what I want to do. When I leave here, it won’t be to exchange one drudgery for another.”

     Ryle Tate realized he had angered her, but couldn’t quite understand how. “I’m sorry if I offended you. I certainly didn’t mean to. I just thought you’d make some man an excellent wife. It was a compliment, really.”

     “Then I thank you for your good intentions, but I suggest you not be so quick to make assumptions about people in the future.”

     “I’ll remember that next time, Miss Woods. And now I must take my leave of you, at least for the time being. I hope to see you again some day.”

     He bowed politely to her and joined his Aunt and Uncle coming down the path.

     “And next time – if there is a next time – ” Liza thought to herself, “you might consider flowers.”


Blind Pig – 6

    Now he knew, he thought. She was timidly passionate, uncertain, too willing to please, frightened of her own sexuality. Probably never been able to be herself, he thought. Always busy pleasing her partner. Not an unusual circumstance. Well, that would change.

     He watched her as she slept, her long hair over her shoulder, covering one breast. He felt overwhelmed at the beauty of a woman’s body, the grace, sensuousness and silky texture. Yes, it would be all too easy to fall in love with her. He ran his fingers lightly down her face, down over her breasts and stomach, down her leg and back up the inner side of her thigh. She mumbled in her sleep and shifted slightly, drawing up one leg and letting it fall aside. He began to caress her, slowly and lightly, almost willing her into a gentle, sensuous wakefulness.

     She had been confused at first, and pretty uptight. Most guys are pretty blunt about what they want and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure them out. A bit of sex and they don’t call in the morning. He didn’t give much of a clue. In fact, he was so stand-offish that she wondered if he really wanted to go to bed with her. For the first time in her life, she had to do the pushing. It felt funny, being aggressive, but kind of good. If only I could be as assertive in bed as I am at work, she thought. He let her take the initiative, made her take it, and for a change she hadn’t felt used. God, it would be so easy to love him! But what would he think when he found out she was a police officer?

     She had drifted off to sleep and into a weird dream. She was back in uniform, the days before she made detective, walking down the street with her partner. Every time she looked at him, he was somebody else. Her father, her brother, her real partner, the old butcher who lived down the block. She didn’t know who the hell she was with. She wondered if she kept changing too. When the partner looked at her, did he keep seeing different women? “Who are you,” she whispered to her partner, to herself. Deliberately she turned to her partner and took his head between her hands, staring intently into his face. It kept alternating between being a mirror and being a face, and the face was different each time, different men, different faces in the mirror. The face in front of her seemed to dissolve and reform into Alan’s face. She felt dizzy and took a deep breath. That was when she awoke, writhing and gasping as her body shook under his touch.

     She lay back, totally exhausted, satiated. He didn’t think he’d ever seen anyone look so utterly happy, and it made him feel ten feet tall. “I hope I’ll always be able to make you feel that good,” he said.

     She reached up and drew him down, kissing his face gently. “Hold me, darling. I’m scared.”

     He smiled. “We have all the time in the world to be safe. Days, years. You don’t need to be afraid of me.”

     “It’s not you I’m afraid of,” Lisa said. “I’m afraid of falling in love. Afraid of it all not working out, afraid of getting hurt.” She remembered how she’d felt when the one serious relationship of her life had collapsed. Betrayed, used, dirty, stupid.

     “Or afraid of your feelings?” Alan asked.

     Lisa pondered that. Yes, at bottom, that was what scared her, the intensity of her own feelings. “How in hell did you ever learn so much about women?” she asked. “No, don’t tell me. I’d just get jealous.”

     He laughed. “No need for jealousy, love. Women and men aren’t really that different. We’re brought up in a society that doesn’t have much tolerance for real human emotions. Sometimes it’s tough to learn to let ourselves be ourselves. Do you know I’m in love with you?”

     “I was afraid of that,” she said. “What’s worse is that I think I’m in love with you too. Yesterday we were almost strangers, barely friends. Today we’re in love. What in hell happened to us?”

     “We happened to us. You happened to me and I happened to you. Delightful, isn’t it?”

     Lisa laughed. “I guess I’m not used to looking at people as events. But you definitely are an event. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” She sat up and kissed him. “Now I’ve got to run home and get ready for work. Can I come back here tonight?”

     “If you don’t, I’m going to come looking for you. I fully intend for you to share my humble abode. Besides, you’ve got a great body.”

     “You bastard,” she said, “just when I have to leave. You wait, I’ll get even tonight. But I’ll be late. I have a Karate class.”

     “You’re learning Karate? Good idea for a woman in New York.”

     She stared at him in exasperation. “I’m teaching it.”

     “Oink!” he said apologetically. “Remind me never to make you mad.”

     She struggled into her jeans and reached for her tee shirt and bra. Alan sat on the edge of the bed and pulled her to him, raining kisses on her. She backed away and wiggled provocatively as she finished dressing. “See you tonight, darling.” She licked her lips suggestively and slipped out the door.


Meme – 5

     They got out of the car and approached the clinic. Several middle-aged ladies – including Mrs. Howe – and a local preacher were circling around, holding protest signs and singing hymns, ready to pounce on any female daring to enter the clinic. On one side was a teenager, evidently capturing the event on video. Harry and Helen started towards the door and the protestors converged on them, calling down hellfire and brimstone. Harry stopped in front of Mrs. Howe and eyed her coldly. “Hello, Grace. I see you’re up to your usual bullshit. Thought you’d be tired of it by now.”

     Grace Howe bristled and puffed her self up even more than her usual haughty state. “I will never tire of doing the Lord’s work, protecting the unborn from the baby killers. And people like you,” she added, with a glance a Helen, who promptly gave her the finger.

     Harry smiled and deep inside him a door was unbarred. “Tell me Grace, do all of your friends here know you had an abortion when you were 18?”


     Grace Howe stopped in her tracks like he’d dropped a load of bricks on her head. She staggered back two paces and plopped down on bench. “Why, who, what, how?” she sputtered. Her face got beet-red and she started breathing so heavily Harry was afraid she was about to have a heart attack. He thought of asking Helen to have one of the doctors from the clinic come out, but Grace seemed to be weathering the storm, surrounded by her solicitous companions.

     “What have you done?” shouted the preacher. “Mrs. Howe is one of our most respected members! She’s a deaconess, for heaven’s sake. A true Christian lady! She would never consider abortion under any circumstance!”

     “And she’s a full-blown hypocrite.” Harry replied. “Ask her. Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, 1960. She was 18 and a councilor at a summer camp. A little hanky-panky down by the lake, and voila! She knew what would happen if she came home in that condition. Her father was a preacher like you and a bigot to boot. And the baby’s father was Mexican. So she aborted, and denial has fit in well with her snobbish upbringing and pretensions ever since.”

     He noticed the teenager was beside himself with excitement and zooming in on himself and on Mrs. Howe. He’d initially thought the boy was part of the protest group, but evidently not. He reached into a pocket and extracted a business card which he passed to Helen as he whispered something to her. She nodded and went over to talk to the boy. Harry turned to Mrs Howe and the protestors. “I know for a fact that Grace Howe isn’t the only hypocrite among you. You not only oppose abortion, you oppose contraceptives and counseling, but some of you use birth control yourselves. So I will say what your Good Reverend should say, but won’t: ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her – John 8:7′. And as long as we’re being biblical, you might check Matthew 7:1 and Luke 12:2. The world is about to discover that in this day and age, privacy is a thing of the past. And it starts here. With you.” He smiled sweetly, then turned on his heel and headed back toward his car, with Helen at his side, giggling.


Meme – 4

     Only one thing wrong with this big fancy house of yours.”

     “What’s that?’ Harry asked.

     “The air conditioning is too damn cold! “. Helen sat up and gathered her robe around her. She cast a critical eye at him. “Eighty? You don’t look bad for eighty. Course, I’ve only got old Pete-The-Skinny-Wino for comparison. “

     “Thanks, I think. I take it Pete-The-Skinny-Wino is an old friend of yours?”

     “Friend, yes. He’s actually only 68 but he looks older than you.”

     “That’s what a hard life does to people, I guess. For someone who lived like you’ve been living, you’ve managed to keep yourself in wonderful shape.” He reached out and pulled back her robe, unwilling to let the lovemaking pass.

     She laughed. “Enough for now, you dirty old man. Next time will be in bed, where I won’t freeze my ass off.” She looked at him softly. “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”

     Harry nodded. “Too long, too long. But we have something to do today. It’s Wednesday.” He reached for his clothes.

     “What’s special about Wednesday?” Helen asked.

     “You’ll see. This particular Wednesday will forever be known in Doman, NY as the day Mrs. Howe’s world collapsed. Now you’d better get dressed, unless you want to become a nudist. That might actually fit in well with my future plans – no concealment , let it all hang out. Or down, as the case may be.”

     With a deep chuckle, Helen headed down the hall to find something to wear.

     Harry realized how much he had missed having a woman around. Not just for sex, but simply because he liked women and found the way their minds worked a stimulus to his own thinking. He hoped she would stay.


     Harry parked about a block before the Women’s Clinic. “When’s the last time you had a physical? Mammogram? PAP test?”

     Helen shrugged. “Ages ago. When you’re trying to survive, you don’t have time for luxuries. Besides, under those conditions, increasing my life expectancy didn’t seem like doing myself any favors.”

     Harry smiled. “Helen, I like you. For one thing, you’re honest. Maybe it’s because you have nothing to lose, but I think that’s just part of who you are. I’d really like it if you decided to live with me. “ There. He’d said it and couldn’t take it back.

     “And you like to fuck me, too, eh?”

     “That too, but I hope I don’t disillusion you by saying that’s not the main reason for my wanting you around. Fact is. you’re good for me in several ways. You motivate me to get off my ass and do what I should have started doing ten year ago. If you decide to leave, I’ll understand and do what I can to help you on your way. I’ll miss you, but I won’t try to stop you doing what you feel you have to do.” He looked at her expectantly, only to see tears running down her cheeks.

     “Harry, Harry, I like you too. It’s just the first time in 30 years someone has wanted me for anything besides my cunt.” She wiped her eyes and looked up at him. “I’’ll stay with you. I’ll stay as long as you want me to and I’ll do whatever I can to help you. But I don’t want to marry you. Do you understand that?”

     “I think so. I wasn’t thinking of marriage, really. Besides, given my intentions to tell the world to go take a Flying Fuck, living together out of wedlock would be more appropriate.”

     She laughed. “It’s a deal! And between thumbing our noses at the world, we still get to screw now and then. Now, why are we here today?”

     “Ah,” Harry said. “Down the street is the Women’s Clinic. Full range of health services for women – yearly physicals, specialists as needed, contraception, mammograms, Ob/Gyn, abortion. And every Wednesday the local Fundamentalists get off their fundaments and parade around outside. They are opposed to contraception, although to my personal knowledge several practice it and none are out there adopting the byproducts of unwanted pregnancies. They are naturally very opposed to abortion, believing devoutly that the unborn are more important than the mothers – and all too happy to disclaim responsibility and support for babies once they’re born. And just like with contraception, there’s a fair amount of hypocrisy involved. I’m going to expose some of that today. Come on.”