Professional to the End

He thought of lifting her onto her desk and pulling her hips up to his.  No words no sounds.  Her deep blue eyes serious but soft looking up at him. He imagined the sweet, peach taste of her perfect lips on his. 

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He thought of lifting her onto her desk and pulling her hips up to his.  No words no sounds.  Her dark blue eyes serious but soft looking up at him. He imagined the sweet, peach taste of her perfect lips on his.  He thought of just taking over, feeling her slip into his embrace and following his lead, perfectly trusting his every move.

He had never met her before face to face, they had talked a couple of times over the phone.  That was her job, customer service.  He was a client.

She was nice, pretty too, not beautiful and not athletic just pretty.  She smelled really good.

She was too nice to be up on her desk and pulling his body toward her in a less than ladylike fashion.  He wanted to stop thinking about her that way, but it was her scent, the clean, cool scent of her skin and the way she looked at him, straight on with an open smile.  He felt thin and hollow, and his heart beat deep down into his echoing stomach.

Her office was full of papers, and she was talking and working.  She was walking between her computer and the copy machine and telling him that she was always ready to help.  He needed the help, paperwork wasn’t something he was good at.  He needed her to slow down because he needed to look at her while speaking; when he got nervous, he went deaf.

Suddenly rather than thinking about fumbling with that tight-fitting slip that he knew she wore under that flowing summer dress he wished he was sitting across from some pencil pushing moron from the IRS who had no interest in helping him at all.  He felt the hot prick of sweat spread out between his shoulder blades.

She was still smiling at him and still handing him papers.  They stood side by side, and she was pointing out key and important telephone numbers, websites and email addresses that would get him through his present dilemma.  She didn’t lean in, her hands moved slowly when she talked, and the pen she used to point out what might keep him alive was tucked up nicely behind her ear when she was done.

They had not shaken hands brushed up against each other nor stopped the flow of conversation between them in any sort of meaningful way.  He was someone off the street who needed assistance, she was doing her job.

“Well, I think that should get me through.”

She was already looking at the papers on her desk.  “Don’t ever hesitate to call me.  I’ll try and help in any way I can.”

He hesitated, he had been taught never to extend his hand to a lady, but he wanted to touch her before he left.  She stood smiling totally oblivious to the fact that he had made love to her in his head during the whole damned ordeal.

He extended his hand as a sort of reward to himself.  She stepped forward smoothly placing her hand in his.  There was no spark, no electric current, only the cool, soft grip of kindness.  She was professional to the end.

Reading

It was a dark and stormy night when I decided I hated everything written by the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen. I know that probably kicks me out of the league of women despite my gender qualifying me but the only thing a woman hates more than green peas is deception.

It was a dark and stormy night when I decided I hated everything written by the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen.  I know that probably kicks me out of the league of women despite my gender qualifying me but the only thing a woman hates more than green peas is deception.

I know as I scribble away in my garret room (garret because it’s true even in the 21st century, women suffer financially from divorce and I have two behind me, divorces not marriages), that the Bronte sisters and Miss Austen are probably mere pawns in the battle for my psyche.

I also realize that perhaps the Bronte sisters and Miss Austen would have had less infamous influence if Sigmund Freud had died in obscurity but he didn’t.  Actually, men don’t do they?

The veil split too late before my eyes that these women were writing fairy tales.  You have no idea my suffering.  The artist even bohemian atmosphere around me closing in, the impending July thunderstorm and my single paned window looking out on a back alley, opened wide for the storm to enter in.  I had stripped down to nothing, my skin absorbing the heat and humidity of summer, even prickling in the anticipation of cold wind, thunder riddled, coming my way.  Sense and Sensibility was open before me and the margins, where I had penned notes over the decades of reading the novel, consoled my loneliness.

Yes, Colonel Brandon, even though he wore flannel waistcoats (or something flannel) was a true knight and our young heroine would embrace his calmness, his intellect, his nonexistence?

His fiction?

Shit!

The storm had not hit, there was time and I knew to keep up my own self-induce façade I had to bring out the big guns.  Villette?  No, Jane Eyre.  Rochester must pave his road to hell and with single-minded passion. Would such a man really have brains enough to covet a mousy little governess over an accomplished coquette?

The storm hit with such a vengeance I jumped and the rain hit my clammy skin like so many needles and the blue-white lightning split the skies before me and I saw the face of God.

Don’t believe me, I don’t care.

He was there beard and all – the Father and in my despair, He did what only a loving, encompassing parent could do, He drove the lesson home.

“I told Adam anything but one thing – he took the one thing.”

“I told Abraham he’d have a son in good time but he had to help it along.”

“David had any woman he wanted, freely but he took the one that didn’t belong to him.

I raised my arms in an appeal to stop, and He did.  The storm passed with a shudder and I sat in my garret room cold and damp.  The pages of my books, both Austen’s and Bronte’s were damp with rain but not tears.

I’ve not evolved, I have adapted however to reality.

 

I See In All

The angry are better off. The weak and frightened cling to me. To see the soft weeping, the gratitude for my listening and understanding ear does move me. They don’t see it coming, the price they pay for believing without faith but rather naiveté. It is just the right type of absorption I need that keeps me craving but not without pity for the terror that at the end I see in all.

The angry are better off. The weak and frightened cling to me. To see the soft weeping, the gratitude for my listening and understanding ear does move me. They don’t see it coming, the price they pay for believing without faith but rather naiveté. It is just the right type of absorption I need that keeps me craving but not without pity for the terror that at the end I see in all.

I regret none of my interactions with those of whom I have shared the gloom of tombs, dark empty spaces, sounds of voices from beyond the grave and the sudden awareness of being two in the room. Ghosts are subtle, and after years of exposing their secret places, I must conclude they are nothing to encourage, nothing to hope for and nothing for the living to live pursuing.

I see the young writers making heroes of those that exist beyond the grave. The more modern and exalted flimflam showmen flutter to the call that the dead have some vague romantic goal to reunite with the ones they love. The dead are just that, and if there is any ambition, it is to have more join them in the aching spiritual icebox they inhabit.

So, there we have the dead but it is the living that is the greatest heartache of all. They become involved in seeking their fairytale within the realms of the supernatural; especially those who crave touch and forgetfulness most of all.

I met a young man once, his eyes a deep, dark, blue who became angry with me at the end of his story. He was the hero, the gallant who would save his beloved from the shadowlands of death. Too there was the young girl with deep black eyes who thinks to this day that I bewitched her in some way. These escape my attempt at the soft sound of reason and comfort I try to convey.

It’s obvious to me that those who crave the unknown to quash the loneliness of existence live shallow little lives and those who have seen something they cannot explain wish for memories of the urbane but one-dimensional type in an attempt to reclaim their lonely little lives. Such quests never end well.

Corner of the eye movements. Reversals. Pictures that fly not drop from the walls. Anger. Fear. Sleeplessness. Tears. Some will escape, others will confide in me, especially after an alcoholic drink.
I draw large crowds, you know, of all sorts. I am not bragging, just well known. I am surrounded by actors and directors and glamorous dancers of every type. Inevitably someone will ask me if I believe in ghosts because, they will say, I certainly write as if I do. What is interesting or perhaps comforting is that the beautiful crowd reacts the same as those within the supermarket or the brown shoe beauties I meet in some obscure bookstore signing that I adore. Their eyes become large and luminous but after the hubbub of my first ‘yes,’ I follow those who walk away upset.

These I know are the failures who overstepped a living person’s boundary and challenged the notion of making good evil and a fatal habit of thinking evil good. These struggle less when my eyes turn red and explain that justice has nothing to do with me and getting away with my appetite falls at the feet of their determination to see the best in me.

 

Pigs, Acorns and Blue Neckties

“We are the mighty pig herd held captive by inert acorns,”

“We are the mighty pig herd held captive by inert acorns,”

“I hate when you take on the epic like voice.  You sound like a 1940s-silver screen flop.”

“We grunt and we rumble but we are hindered by our own…our own…what?”

“Could you be serious, we have about three minutes before all the guys in silk, blue, ties are in here.”

“We grunt and we rumble and we are hindered by our own want to snuffle.  How’s that?”

“Sickening.”

“We’re going to get fired you know that.”

“Well yes, if you decide to tell them that we are pigs held hostage…”

“Captive, get it straight, I said captive.”

“Okay, captive.  If you tell them we are pigs held captive by acorns that’s pretty much a shoe in for a firing.”

“How in debt are you?”

“Well, there are still the student loans.”

“You’ve been out for six years.”

“College is like a mortgage.”

“College is an acorn.”

“Well, I just broke my ankle on it.”

“Listen, this is not our fault.”

“No, it is my fault.  I should have stayed in Indiana, bought those 15 acres down the road from my Mom and Dad, married and made something of that coffee shop down on the main street.”

“You can still do that.”

“I told everyone I’d be a VP in human resources in this mega corporation.”

“But it’s a classic, a classic 1940s silver screen flop.  You go off a cocky, arrogant know-it-all and come back a humble but more likable gentleman farmer and weirdo bohemian coffee coinsurer.  Indiana would love that and you can marry me.”

“I’m not a homosexual Gary, I’m not going to marry you.”

“But what will you do without me?”

“Stop being called a pig for one thing.”

“Ah, here they come.  Oh, my, you’re right.”

“About what?”

“They all have some shade of blue necktie on.  That’s bad, that’s very bad.  That means they’ve read the benefit’s package we’ve put together.  They have actual knowledge.”

“Gary, that’s why we sent them the report.”

“Yes, but that means we won’t even get to stay for the coffee break.  There’s usually a coffee break in this meeting, good coffee breaks and that was my one consolation to getting fired today.”

“Well if I can scrape enough money together maybe they’ll let me come back next year as the coffee vendor.”

“Hey, I hadn’t thought of that – truly.  Now there is an idea.  See we can still stay together.  I’ll be your PR and benefits guy.  You can snuffle around for money and real-estate.”

“Well, the only options for two idiot guys who tell their upper management team that the Great Society, is dead and employee accountability needs to resurface in the company will probably not only be receiving pink slips today but also have to face the long lonely world of self-employment.”

“Fifteen acres and a coffee shop huh?”

“Yup.”

“Well, here’s to crushed acorns.”

“Skinny pigs.”

“And no neckties.”

 

You Are to Me

Let’s walk the moon and outshine the stars. Or rather let’s walk the stars and pocket every moon in the galaxy.

Let’s walk the moon and outshine the stars.  Or rather let’s walk the stars and pocket every moon in the galaxy.

Why not?

What do you mean, catastrophe?

I can pull you to me, my hips just above yours and lean in until you bend beneath me and then we can spin to the music that begins.

When we begin and never end.

Does nothing matter to you except safety?  Will all the wooing in the world simply convince you to stay next to your fire at home?

There must be moments – tiny little moments between too-weary-to-read and too-restless-for-bed when you think of me.

Rainmakers are embezzlers of the soul, that’s who they are, sorry. Now I’m a different story.  I dance upon all the tiny ledges of the second story of your house and tip-toe past your window when the frost is thick and the moon full.

I do this to frighten you because I am frightening-  come dance with me.  Come dance with me upon the white frost lawn, in the shadows of the bare autumn trees.  Let me sweep you upward to the tops of the branches that wouldn’t keep a sparrow perched.  We will stay aloft and dance upon the currents and eddies and I’ll hold you tight, your hips locked just beneath mine.

Stop the worries and stop the longing you have for the written word – listen to my music, listen to the thrum, the beat, the hum, the heat of what makes me – me.

But you won’t – you won’t.  You’ll smile at me through your window, no matter how I dance or lift the music to your ears.  You will pull the curtains tight against the whistle of high wind and forgotten summer.  I’ll stay upon your window sill, dressed in a midnight blue top hat and tails and thrill you in your sleep.  Yes, I’ll place my ice blue lips to the thin, thin pane of glass and thrill your dreams with what you resist and desire.

Me.

 

Her Need

When he discovered that she didn’t have a rough patch of skin, smelled like spring-time rain, and that falling into her was something between physical bliss and realizing he had been half a person all of his life, he became sullen and angry afterward. He didn’t understand why.

He had never been with a woman before; he had never felt the need.  He didn’t care much for their voices and he certainly didn’t trust their intentions.  Some men thought the wiles of women were what gave meaning to life.  He didn’t.

She was red headed, freckled and had green eyes.  Most men shuddered when they walked by her.  What struck him was that she was tall, straight, had large hands for a woman, and her figure, though thin, was well proportioned.  So he shrugged at other men’s judgment.  What he didn’t confess to, until late at night, in his own bunk, was that he thought her the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes upon.

When he discovered that she didn’t have a rough patch of skin, smelled like spring-time rain, and that falling into her was something between physical bliss and realizing he had been half a person all of his life, he became sullen and angry afterward.  He didn’t understand why.

He forgot about his anger when she woke up, when she wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him in as easily as a man pulls in a sack of potatoes to hoist to his shoulders.  Again he became aware of who he was, how brief his life would be, how strange it was to feel himself surge into her and remain. 

He never questioned why he took so long to find her, but why he never thought of searching for her at the beginning of his life, to complete what seemed to him now a sort of destiny. 

He dreamed in her arms that he had returned to the forest.  He saw everything in pairs; the birds, the fish, the deer, the elk, the mountain lion, the bear.  Two.  He didn’t miss her or mourn her presence, he was simply aware of a second idea, a second sound, a second scent, a second tread upon the earth. 

He was aware that she didn’t want to keep him, wasn’t interested in his ability to provide for her and was sure that she had used him.  

Other men longed to be taken up the pea patch, to complain loudly at the bar that his wife was demanding, exacting and insatiable in her drive for things, he sensed that her ambition had nothing to do with conquest or avarice just need and in turn her need was his. 

When he heard her door close behind him, the shivering, knife’s edge feeling that went up his back and across his shoulders told him not to turn around.  He stood for a moment, looking at the sun rising, the leaves of the trees translucent, in their spring-time green.

Don’t turn around man, don’t be a fool. 

He took a step forward and felt a loosening around his waist and the idea that he might survive his night.  He turned without so much as a thought, or even with the conscious idea that he had turned about upon his heel. 

Her web encased him in frigid threads and his voice was the first thing she drain from him, the last was his dread.  

Her Need / Lydia Ink by SK Woodiwiss

The Strength to Choose

“Jonathan, nothing is certain. You must believe me. I’ve seen hell and nothing is worse than that, please help me.”

I, of course, didn’t believe her.  I told her I did but I didn’t.  She smiled at me in a half-hearted or perhaps a whimsical sort of way and said ‘thank-you.’  She whispered the two words to me and looked away.  Her soft hair, straw colored and wavy, veiled the side of her face in a cascading shine of brilliance as she looked down at her hands.

I felt a surge of male adrenaline.  Was she that damsel in distress or that Victorian lady, even the mad Ophelia who was sitting across from me?

My friend, this is the 21st century and maybe my Baby-boomer father would have succumbed to her soft strength, I did not.  I pocketed my anxiety about her, along with my surge of Freudian awareness, paid the bill and walked away.

She was found dead the next day – her neck was broken.  I was questioned by the police and it was determined that I was the last to see her alive – outside of her murderer.

I did not kill her.

I did not.

I was at a party that night, celebrating my best friend’s engagement to a wonderful woman; strong, an attorney and not beyond child bearing years despite the time it took for them to fall in love between their accomplishments.

Does that sound cynical?

The cynicism is for me alone and anyone who might read this and ponder their long nights working not for the money necessarily but for the security of being the best.

She told me that nothing was secure.  She told me just before she died.

“Jonathan, nothing is certain.  You must believe me.  I’ve seen hell and nothing is worse than that, please help me.”

“I believe you.”  I think I even reached forward and squeezed her delicate hands.  They were warm to my touch but only, I think, because they had held the coffee I had bought for her.  She had looked almost anemic, frail, suffering.

No, perhaps now that she is in a pauper’s grave, by the grace of the state of New York, I see her differently.  My memory, no doubt, is romanticizing her last moments.

Don’t think me a total brute, please.  I would have taken her with me, fed her, introduced her back into the fold of our mutual friends but she said no.  She had to face her reality.  Odd now that I rethink our last meeting, odd that she said reality and not destiny.  Writing this all down, to whom or really why I don’t know, it strikes me that I didn’t pick up on that.  Perhaps I was too busy being pragmatic and telling myself it was for her sake.

For you see, I did believe she believed what she told me.  Now I believe her and it will no doubt be the death of me.

I won’t suffer as she did, the long nights, the endless pursuit of truth.  I’ll fight the monster as long as I can and hope I have the strength to choose death in the end.

 

 

Lydia Ink / The Strength to Choose by SK Woodiwiss