Monday, December 5, 2016

Gratitude of the Damned (#mm #gratitude #pnr)


By Lisabet Sarai

He’s grateful for the constant pain. Anger and hate keep him going much of the time, but when those emotions ebb, the pain remains, reminding him of his new life’s purpose.

Months, the doctors had told him. Maybe longer. They couldn’t predict the recovery trajectory from massive third degree burns like the ones he’d suffered.

The man who was formerly Stefan Aries doesn’t take the drugs they give him. He doesn’t try to dull the hurt or hurry the healing. The unremitting agony keeps him alive. It fuels his visions of vengeance.

By all rights, he should be dead. He was lucky that muscular firefighter had found him, lucky that despite being blinded and nearly mad, his power had surged when the young man touched him—a new power born of his baptism in the fire, the ability to suck the vital essence from another being through mere physical contact. Leaving the husk of his savior behind, newly energized, he’d managed to crawl away from the blazing remains of his mansion and hide in his neighbor’s garage.

When he considers his situation, he realizes he has much to be thankful for. His Swiss bank accounts, for instance, utilized cryptographic identity validation rather than biometric indicators. With no fingerprints left, a reconstructed face, and a false eye, it would have been difficult for him to access his funds if biometrics were involved. Fortunately, he had the foresight to choose the the most advanced verification technologies available.

Then there was Jezebel. He grins, though that increases the pain, remembering her joy and horror when he’d shown up at her door six weeks after the fire. A scarred and oozing monster swathed in bandages, he still had his seductive voice, plus the telepathic talent he’d stolen from the cop’s sister. That was more than enough to make her believe her Dom had returned.

Having a thoroughly loyal and devoted slave was a tremendous advantage. She’d managed all the arrangements for his trip to Thailand, the private aircraft and the multiple operations, plus all the documents and details required to legally confirm that computer genius Stefan Aries had perished in the terrible fire. She’d even attended the memorial service his parents had organized for him. She shot a video so he could watch them later, mourning their all-too-ordinary son. The eulogies all rang false. He knew what they really thought. Poor Stefan, who was born into a psychically gifted family but possessed no paranormal abilities at all.

Hah. If only they knew. He flexes his stiffened fingers and feels the power stir. The thoughts of the other customers at this exclusive riverfront café are a muted whir until he focuses on one particular individual, an impeccably-groomed young man nursing a Perrier at the next table. The guy’s thinking about going over to Boy’s Town this evening, to pick up a bit of male entertainment. His consciousness buzzes with anticipatory arousal. That sort of lust is contagious.

The recovering mage considers introducing himself. He suspects it will take little effort to change the tourist’s plans. He hasn’t fucked, or fed, for more than a week. But he’s strong now. Though he’d enjoy the young man’s ass and his essence, he doesn’t need it. No, right now he needs to focus on the next steps of his plan.

Jez was a bright, capable woman. With her help, he’d meticulously constructed a new identity. Sven Alstrom had a Swedish mother and a South African father. He grew up in Argentina, amassing a small fortune in South America through various endeavors. Now, at the age of thirty five, he has decided to retire to a farm in western Massachusetts and make artisanal cheese.

While he’d endured the surgeon’s knife and long, bloody aftermath, Jezebel had created the false history he needed. She’d seeded the Internet with false biographical details, manipulated and published fake photographs, forged passports and diplomas. At this point Sven is as real as Stefan had ever been.

He’d rewarded her as she deserved. After teasing her, punishing her, reveling in her pain for years, he finally fucked her as she’d begged him to do since the very first. Knowing his preferences better than anyone, she understood what it meant when he drove his cock into her rear hole.

She’d thanked him with her last breath.

****

This is a possible start of a sequel to my M/M paranormal erotic romance novel NecessaryMadness. As you can probably guess, Stefan/Sven is the villain. I'm playing with the idea of making the villain also be the hero in this sequel. 

What do you think?

Check out the trailer for Necessary Madness here:


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Against the Odds

by Jean Roberta

Please excuse the lateness of this post. I hope it doesn’t look like a lame conclusion to the current topic.

I can’t remember having any cliff-hanging (literal or metaphorical) close calls, so I will discuss a few events which might have turned out much worse.

Sixty-five years ago, birth was generally more dangerous to mothers and babies than it is now.

As far as I know, ob/gyns didn’t know in advance what position the little creature was in when the mother went into labor, and after that point, surgery would be dangerous at best and fatal at worst. So whether the baby was trying to come out feet-first, bum-first or sideways, efforts were made to get him or her out through the usual opening without major damage to the mother.

Dr. Abraham Feinstein of Redwood City, California (possibly related to a future Mayor of San Francisco) preferred to err on the side of caution. When he found that his patient’s baby was in the breech position, he was concerned about the length of time the baby would be without oxygen. So he arranged for an oxygen tent to be in the delivery room, and he rushed the baby into it as soon as she had emerged, curled up in a ball like a hedgehog. The normal procedure of that time was for the doctor to dangle the baby upside down by his/her ankles and swat the little bottom to start the breathing process.

Dr. Feinstein advised his patient to gently pull the baby’s legs down as a regular exercise. Laying her on her back usually resulted in a curled-up baby in the “fetal” position. When the baby was about a year old, her parents were advised to put her in corrective baby shoes so she wouldn’t be bow-legged. Baby legs tend to be pliable, and within a few months, the baby had straight legs.

As far as anyone could tell, the baby didn’t suffer any damage to the brain due to lack of oxygen, or much damage to the body due to her unusual position in the womb. (As an adult, she was found to have slight curvature of the spine, but it hasn’t inconvenienced her.)

Dr. Feinstein, like everyone else in the Jewish diaspora of the 1940s, was devastated by the “war in Europe” (not yet called the Holocaust), followed by the “McCarthy Era” in the U.S., which disproportionately targeted leftist Jews.

His patient, Jane, might have chosen him because she saw him as a kindred soul. Although Jane was not Jewish herself, she had come of age in New York City in a close-knit group of artsy-intellectual Jewish high-school friends who proudly considered themselves “bohemian.” Had her family stayed in Scranton, Pennsylvania, during the Great Depression instead of moving to the big city to find work, so many things would probably have turned out differently.

If Jane had not been introduced to radical thought, she probably would not have earned a degree from Hunter College on scholarships, or traveled all the way to Oregon to do graduate work in English at the University of Oregon, where she met two male friends who were both interested in her. She chose Arthur rather than Dean. She and Arthur (Art) were engaged when Art joined the U.S. Navy after the Japanese Air Force bombed Pearl Harbor late in 1941. (Art had a sensitive stomach, and could get seasick on Ferris wheels, but he felt it was his patriotic duty to join the armed forces, and to a West Coast boy, the Navy seemed like the obvious choice.)

Art was stationed in New York City in 1944, and given a promotion, which gave him the right to marry. He and Jane were married, and apparently they enjoyed each other’s company so much that for the first few years, they didn’t want to spoil things by having children.

What Jane’s Jewish friends had done for her was done for Art by the G.I. Bill, which provided free college tuition for men who had served in the armed forces. In 1950, Jane and Art were back on the West Coast, this time in California, where Art was earning a Master’s degree in Economics at Stanford University.

The U.S. economy was booming, and the media encouraged everyone to “start a family.” Jane and Art jumped on the bandwagon. (As they later explained, their baby was conceived on Thanksgiving, when they were drinking more than usual.) In summer 1951, Dr. Feinstein delivered their first baby girl. Jane, Art and their family (which eventually included three daughters) survived surprisingly well.

If you haven’t already guessed, I was the breech-born baby who took her first breath in an oxygen tent. So many things could have gone wrong: deprivation of oxygen during a difficult birth could have turned me into a vegetable.

Before that, my parents might never have met. (And since they grew up on opposite sides of the continent, chances were against it.) At the University of Oregon, Jane might have chosen Dean instead of Art – if she hadn’t already chosen a nice Jewish boy in New York City and decided to stay there instead of venturing into the Wild West.

Or Jane could have chosen to remain a very discreet lesbian (discretion being the only option at the time) after her early affair with a young woman she met in church.

And of course, Art could have been killed in the war. Or – if he had openly expressed left-of-center political views in the 1950s, he could have been blacklisted from every intellectual/professional job, which happened to several of Jane’s friends from high school. Or he and Jane might have decided to stay childless.

As the U.S. enters the Era of Trump, and Britain has entered the Era of Brexit, and the whole world seems to be going to hell, we need to remember that things weren’t necessarily better in the past. Every little happy event seems to be the result of a close call or a bubble of oxygen in an ocean which has drowned so many.
--------------

Thursday, December 1, 2016

K-Holes and Missed Kisses ( #YouthfulMistakes #Drugs #HookingUp )

By Annabeth Leong

There was a time in my life when I often found myself at parties, driven there by an itch for adventure. My favorite sorts of adventures were the kind that happen with other people. On any given night, I was at least curious about hooking up with someone. If that happened in some sort of interesting configuration, location, or manner, even better.

The rest of party culture was a bit of a tiresome exercise it seemed I had to go through to get to the good stuff. I would get drunk and play truth or dare, gladly, if that was the excuse the rest of you people needed to start making out. I would get stoned and gradually edge toward each other until we started cuddling and making out, but for the love of God, don’t get all philosophical and contemplative on me. If, on the other hand, you wanted to show up and start making out immediately while we were all still sober, that worked, too. I didn’t have much in the way of inhibition. I remember getting teased once for walking into a place and taking my clothes off literally before saying hello to anyone.

I know now that what I really wanted was to go to sex parties, but back then I didn’t know about those, so any party would have to do. Still, sex was self-evidently the purpose of going to a party as far as I was concerned, and it was hard for me to imagine or understand any other motivation.

Drugs were a useful excuse for pleasures I was already happy to indulge, and maybe at times an interesting enhancement for them.

So when I found out that one of my friends had gotten hold of a bunch of ecstasy and was having a party, I thought I was on the way to getting laid, and well. I’d tried X a couple times before (these days, everyone seems to call it E or Molly, but I’m going to be true to place and time and use the slang common in my circle). My previous experiences had become a threesome and a foursome, respectively. I’d heard of people who used the drug and danced, but I wasn’t interested in that at all. “I’ll take option A, please.”

These friends, though, had an even weirder (to me) view of the drug. Apparently, there was a story going around that MDMA was originally developed for use in talk therapy because the feelings of emotional warmth it produced enabled people to be more honest with each other than they otherwise would. (I did some cursory research to find out whether this is true, and the drug does seem to have some proposed therapeutic uses, though there doesn’t seem to be a governmentally approved avenue for any of that at this point in the U.S.). Anyway, I got to this party and found out that this group of people looked forward to getting together, taking X, and talking to each other. Ugh.

(As I write this, the memories are striking me as weird, because at this point in my life, my favorite thing to do is get together with people and have intense one-on-one conversations. I keep wondering if I’m lying or exaggerating when I write about my past disgust with talking. However, it’s still true that this isn’t my idea of a fun time at a sex party, and I can still get rather, um, focused on the urge to make out. I’m pretty sure my representation of my past self’s disgust with anything off-mission is accurate.)

I promptly began seeking something more interesting to do than chat about my feelings. Different drugs? The right conversation?

It didn’t take long. B had apparently known I would be at this party and had been looking forward to talking to me there, once she got loosened up with the X. She had a confession she wanted to get off her chest. She’d always found me fascinating. Mostly, she identified as straight, but she wanted to see what it would be like to make out with another girl, me specifically.

Awesome, I thought. I have mixed feelings now about serving as someone’s experiment, but back then I was first in line to volunteer. I was more than ready to let her satisfy her curiosity with my mouth.

Just as she leaned in for the kiss, E came into the room, indicating something he had hidden in his hand. “Anyone want to try some Special K?” He was new to dealing, and K was new to our group. He was like an overeager Avon salesman, looking to make some money off his friends, anxious to demonstrate his wares, not the person you wanted to see coming.

Normally, I was of the swallow-first-ask-questions-later school of drug use. This particular time, maybe because I was annoyed that he’d interrupted just as I’d been about to make out with B, I didn’t want to get involved in any unknowns. I had the hookup right in front of me, so what would have been the point of any drugs? They’d only get in the way. “Nah, man, not now,” I said. “I’ll see how people like it and maybe try some later.”

I turned expectantly back to B. Unfortunately for me, she was interested in the K. “I’m going to go try this,” she said. “And when I get back, I’m going to kiss you.”

I forced a smile. “Great.”

E took several girls into a back bedroom to administer the K. I waited on the floor, massaging my own calves and playing with the carpet shag. The relentless sensuality I felt when I was on X had hold of me, and I was anxious for B to get back as soon as possible.

I waited and waited. Time can be weird when you’re on drugs, but I waited for what felt like an extraordinarily long time. I drank water. I lingered awkwardly.

Then the door to the back bedroom opened and out came one of the other girls who’d gone off with E. She was sobbing and staggering and generally looked like hell. “What’s going on with her?” I asked somebody.

“K-hole,” they answered.

“Huh?”

“It’s what happens when you’re on K.”

“And it feels like that?”

“Yeah. Sometimes.”

“So tell me the good part of taking K?”

My interlocutor only shrugged. I comforted myself with the idea that I was only seeing one person’s reaction to Special K. Hopefully B was having a great time and would shortly be ready for sexy makeouts.

However, one girl after another emerged from that room in a sobbing, panicked state. More and more, I worried that the kiss B had promised me was not coming after all. More and more, I was relieved I’d been too focused on making out with her to try the apparently horrible ketamine I’d been offered, which I certainly would have done if I’d still been bored and frustrated with talking when E appeared.

Eventually, I went in to check on B. She’d fallen into the K-hole, too, possibly worst of anyone, and was lying on the bed with tears running down the sides of her face. “I’m so sorry,” she told me. “I don’t think I can kiss you after all.”

“It’s really okay,” I told her, though I was sort of lying. Honestly, I was angry with E for introducing such an un-fun element to the party and a little annoyed with her for wanting to try the drug right when we were about to kiss. Still, I stayed long enough to reassure her that I wasn’t mad and that we could maybe kiss another time if she still wanted to. We didn’t actually know each other very well, though, so it got awkward fairly quickly and I left her to the care of better friends and wandered off looking for a different hookup.

I feel bad in retrospect, writing this, because I think if this happened today I’d feel more responsibility to look out for her, and I also hope I’d have a less selfish attitude. I was so focused on getting laid that the compassion I was able to show was mostly a performance, and that isn’t cool. I’m shocked at my younger self’s cavalier attitude. I benefited from aspects of it, because I think people found me charismatic, but it doesn’t represent the person I want to be. B deserved better, and I probably didn’t deserve to kiss her if I was going to be so cold about it.

The evening was ultimately a success for me, though. I found another girl, A, who had spiked pink hair and wanted to kiss and massage each other. I caught glimpses of B occasionally for the rest of the party, still dealing with the after-effects of the K, and each time I paused briefly to recognize the close call. But for a few seconds, she might have been the one in my arms instead of A. But for a few circumstances, I might have been the one hobbled, weeping, in the grip of a terrible drug.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sneaker Wave (#Cliff House #cliffclimbing #fear)

by Daddy X

It may have been my second or third day on the west coast, certainly within the first week of arriving in San Francisco. November, 1968. My (now late) brother-in-law and some friends decided to take me out to hike near the famed “Cliff House”, a well-known point of interest in a city filled with fabulous things. 

                                         

Amazed at the view but unfamiliar with the terrain, the four of us boldly scrambled down the steep embankment, perhaps 150 feet above the crashing Pacific and jagged rocks below. There wasn’t a danger of falling; our angle of descent wasn’t nearly 90 degrees. Not yet.

The further we descended, the steeper the trail became. A friend and I jumped to a narrow ledge where we could go no further. We’d hit an impasse: a sheer 40-foot drop without benefit of trail or even a handhold. Though not quite 90 degrees—there were several places where a falling body would take a bounce or two on the way.

The two of us screwed around at that level while the others lingered a few feet above. We smoked a joint, explored a few shallow caves that pockmark the cliffs in the area, goofing on the water puddles that gathered there. Water? Puddles?  The thought never sank in. Why would water puddles exist in a cave forty feet above a crashing sea?

Next thing we knew, the two of us were hit by something wet, wild and powerful, slamming us against a rocky wall, filling our shallow cave with frigid water. The depression in the rocks suddenly overflowed with seawater bubbling and swirling around us—then as quickly—drained away. We stared wide-eyed at each other, in shock at what had just happened. I had time to gather my wits and realize I was bleeding down the front of my drenched shirt. Contact with the cave wall had split the skin on my face. We were lucky we weren’t washed away.

We turned to realize there wasn’t a way back up. The two who’d remained above saw our predicament and tried to reach down to haul us back to safety. They couldn’t reach us. We couldn’t reach them. We tried winding a belt around one guy’s wrist. It wouldn’t reach. Affixing two belts together just seemed wrong.

The only way up was over a huge boulder embedded in the perpendicular wall. Only one of us could go at a time. From our lower vantage point, we saw that the boulder was tentatively held in place in unstable sandstone, a thin crack obvious along the perimeter where it joined the cliff.  

The friend (Grattan, now also passed) sharing the ledge with me was a big, tall, strong guy.  I asked him to go first, figuring that he would, in turn, be more capable of lifting me from above. I was relatively smaller and much lighter than he. So he stood on my shoulders and the guys above were able to drag him up, leaving me alone on the narrow ledge.

Without the extra height my back had offered Grattan, it was up to me to get up as far as I could, leap and grab on to the insecure boulder, hugging it until my (very good) friends could hopefully grab me before I lost my grip or the rock broke away. That’s when the crack along the boulder really posed a threat. That rock would either be my saving grace or my downfall. Would it hold?

Grattan, so recently on my shoulders, stared down in a state of overwhelmed panic. I’ll never forget that look on his face. I had to do it. Sooner or later, another wave might strike. I needed to act. It was just a matter of a few feet. I had to make up my mind to just do it. I simply needed to go without hesitation. I had to jump up and hang on that rock in hopes that it wouldn’t come away from the cliff—that the boulder and I wouldn’t go down together.

Needless to say, the maneuver came off fine; I have lived to tell the story. Since then, not a year has passed when someone isn’t killed on those rocks and nearby beaches, as it has always been. Tourists coming from the Midwest and East Coast have no idea, just like I didn’t have any idea. This is not the Atlantic, the Great Lakes or the Caribbean. Pacific sneaker waves will drag a person off without warning. Hence the ‘sneaker’ moniker.

BTW- A ‘Sneaker’ wave figures in my story, “Flukes” a naughty little number available in “Daddy X—The Gonzo Collection.”








Tuesday, November 29, 2016

When I was a child...

I must have been about nine years old, perhaps ten. Along with friends from my neighbourhood we would often go for long hikes over the fields close to our home in search of adventure – a stream to ford, horses to pretend to ride, mock bull-fighting with disinterested heifers. The world is an exciting place in a child’s imagination.
There was a disused warehouse where local kids often played, though looking back and now blessed with an adult’s concern for health and safety, I know it was a deathtrap. Lots of abandoned bales of wool just waiting to burst into flames at the first careless flick of a cigarette, unguarded drops, a roof full of rotten beams that we could so easily have fallen through. None of this bothered us, we loved the place. It was our playground, our medieval castle, our jungle, our desert island.
I went there one day with my younger brother and Richard, another boy from along our street. We messed about for a while, and for once we were the only children there even though it was the summer school holiday. We got bored and climbed onto the roof to survey the surrounding countryside. The views from up there were fabulous, I recall. We were spies, unseen, watching what the unsuspecting adults did down below.
A man was approaching, so we watched him for a while. Richard said he knew him, that the man lived on our street, but I told him he was wrong. I knew everyone on our street, this man was a stranger. He was also boring so we soon lost interest and clambered back down to the ground to play some hide and seek thing. The man had disappeared so we just forgot about him.
It was my turn to seek so the two boys ran off. I waited for the obligatory count of ten then started to look for them, walking around the warehouse buildings, peering in doors, behind bales. No luck. Not to worry, my brother could never keep quiet for long. I turned a corner and carried on between two buildings, a space about ten feet wide. I passed a doorway, there was a movement from inside. I stopped turned, expecting to see two small, giggling boys.
The man we had been watching strolled out of the warehouse. I supposed he must have been there all along, though I had no idea why or what he was doing. He spoke to me, said ‘hello’ or some such inane thing. I said ‘hello’ back and asked if he’d seen my brother in the building. He said he hadn’t, did I want him to help me look?
I didn’t. The man wasn’t part of our game. I said ‘no’ and carried on walking.
The next moment I was on the ground, on my back, his hand across my mouth. I was stunned, incredulous. What was happening? Why? What was this deranged man thinking? He shoved his other hand down the front of my trousers, and smiled at me. He actually fucking smiled while he pinned me to the ground and groped me, a ten-year old child.
“Do you like that?” he asked me, wriggling his fingers around in a way I knew was wrong. Just. Plain. Nasty.
I couldn’t answer, I couldn’t get a sound past his hard, heavy hand. I shook my head, all the time kicking and squirming. It did no good, he was three times my size. I was going nowhere. I went limp, desperate, helpless, utterly terrified.
To this day I don’t know what stroke of luck brought my brother and our friend around the corner at that moment. They should have been hiding, waiting for me to find them, but they weren’t. They were there, standing, watching, their faces just two astonished masks. And because they were there, they saved my life, I am quite sure of it. 
The man saw them, his grip on me slackened. I watched his face change, the sick smile slipped, became confused, indecisive. I guess he was weighing up his chances of overpowering all three of us.
The momentary respite was enough. I managed to scramble out of his grip. I got to my feet and I fucking ran, straight at the two boys. I grabbed each of their hands and we all three sprinted as fast as we could, as far from him as we could.
“Scream.” I yelled at them as we raced across the neighbouring fields. “All of us have to scream.” I knew we needed to make a fuss, attract attention, make that crazy bastard think we were a hard target, more bother than we were worth.
We didn’t stop running until we reached the streets of houses about a mile away. Only then did I dare look back. He was nowhere in sight.
We went home. My parents were at work, my gran was there. I told her what happened. My parents were called, and my gran took me and my brother to the police station. The police did their best, used tracker dogs, drove me back to the warehouse to show them exactly where the attack took place. The signs of the struggle were there, flattened grass and one of my shoes – I was almost home before I even realized I had lost it. But there was no other evidence, and no sign of the crazy man.
A day or so later, Richard’s mum came to our house to talk to my parents. She told us that her son had told her that Susan’s dad had had hold of their little girl. Susan was my friend, in my class at school. When asked, I was adamant that the man who attached me wasn’t Susan’s dad. I didn’t even know him, but it couldn’t have been him because that was plain impossible. Even so, my mum phoned the police with the information, just in case it helped with the description. The police went to Susan’s house, they spoke to her dad, but of course it wasn’t him so the matter was dropped.
Months later I walked up our street. I was alone, probably headed for the shop or some such important errand. A man sat on the steps at Susan’s back door. He was smoking a cigarette, I recall. I looked up, and I saw him. That same smile. Identical. I stood for a moment, transfixed, staring at his face, then his hands. He was so similar, so bloody similar it was uncanny. Did he have a twin brother? A double somewhere?
I told my mum about it, and again she contacted the police. There was talk now of an identity parade, and I was glad. If the police could see someone who looked exactly like the man who attacked me, then it would be easier to find the real culprit, wouldn’t it? I would talk to Susan about it at school, ask her if she had an uncle…
Susan never came back to school though. The family disappeared, the same evening that I saw her father on the steps. They just upped and went. It was all very odd.
Only years later, and when I was no longer filtering my version of reality with the childlike certainty that adults we know won’t harm us, did it finally dawn on me just what happened. Susan’s dad knew the game was up the moment I saw him in person. He would have been identified, if not on my evidence then on Richard’s because for some reason that little boy saw it straight away.

So the bastard ran. He grabbed his family and he ran. 
I had a close call that day, it could so easily have ended differently. If he'd managed to drag me out of sight, if my brother and Richard hadn't got bored of hiding...
To the best of my knowledge my attacker was never caught, though I doubt I was the first of his victims. And probably not the last.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hanging On in Your Universe

Sacchi Green

The older you get, the more close calls you have, and the more likely it gets that you’re at fault. Okay, maybe I should amend that to say the more likely it is that I’m at fault. But if we limit the definition to things that aren’t one’s fault, the one event that sticks in my mind the most involves driving. Well, to be frank, the ones that are my fault mostly involve driving, too, or at least those are the ones I remember (and, hopefully, learn from.) I must have had non-automotive close calls, but maybe my mind just doesn’t hold on as well to memories that don’t involve large metal entities traveling at high speeds.

I’ve been trying hard to remember other incidents, because I’m just about sure that I’ve mentioned this one here before, in detail, but so far I’m coming up empty—maybe my mind helpfully blocks out the worst ones—so here goes. The fun part, and there was one, sort of, comes after the almost-crash itself.  (And the "universe" part comes way at the end.)

It was at least ten years ago. Ten years plus and quite a few cars ago, although the car in question, a Taurus station wagon, did survive for several years afterward. I was driving, with two family members as passengers, in the passing lane of a crowded multi-lane highway in New Hampshire, heading south. There was a high concrete barrier to my left, and a very big tank truck coming up on my right. The traffic was so heavy that changing lanes was just about impossible, but the tank truck, apparently not even seeing my car, tried it anyway, moving into my lane more or less ahead of me, but not far enough ahead. There was nothing I could do but slow down as much as I could, which wasn’t much with cars close behind me, and hang on hard to keep from hitting the concrete barrier as the big wheels of the tank truck scraped all along the side of my car, leaving a deep crease and smashing my right-hand rear-view mirror.  He must have known he’d hit me. He moved to the right as soon as he could, and I followed, trying to get him to pull over into the breakdown lane, but he did everything possible to get away, eventually dropping back when I couldn’t because of the traffic behind me.

We got his license number and the company name on his truck, and fifteen miles farther along we pulled off into a huge rest area just before a toll booth (also the site of a State of New Hampshire liquor store.) We called the State Police, and just before a trooper arrived, we saw that very same truck pull in to the parking lot and park some distance away, as far as possible from the buildings. He didn't see us, and I would have missed him if I hadn't append to see him driving in the long access road.

When the policeman arrived we pointed out the truck, and told him about where the incident occurred (we’d noticed the mile posts along the way.) He was brusque at first, not believing that we could possible know it was the same truck after all those miles—until he saw that the truck driver was doing something odd to his wheels. He was spraying the tires with some sort of cleaner, and there was still paint from our car on them when the cop got to him.

I almost felt sorry for the guy. Another cop arrived. They called the company he drove for and he was immediately fired. There’d apparently been some other complaints and he was on the edge anyway. The police inspected his whole rig in great detail and found enough illegal aspects to arrest him even without our complaint. They told us later that they were determined to put him in jail and not let him drive any more in New Hampshire after what he’d done. If we had hit the barrier there would have been a catastrophic pileup of crashes on the crowded highway, while he would have sped away unscathed.

How did I feel while it was happening? What did I think? I couldn’t let myself feel. I could only hang on, resisting the pressure trying to force me toward the cement wall, refusing to panic—and focusing on every fraction of a second that wasn’t yet total destruction.

We were soooo lucky. The elderly relative in the back seat would never go with us to New Hampshire again, but I don’t know how much the incident had to do with that. My younger son, who wasn’t with us at the time, got possession of the car after that, and drove it for a couple of years, with people assuming, I’m sure, that the deep, wide crease down the side was his fault. He didn’t seem to care.

Close call. So close. Sometimes I wonder whether the multiple universe theory is true, the one where in some one of an infinite number of universes everything that could happen does happen. Are there universes where we did crash? Where any of my close calls, of anybody’s close calls, turned out differently than we’re aware of in this universe? Or do we skip from universe to universe instantaneously so that we’re always in one, if there are any, where we’ve survived?

It doesn’t matter, any more than the theory that we’re all part of a huge computer simulation, because there’s nothing we can do differently in any case. We still feel pain, and fear, as well as pleasure and joy. We work with the laws of nature, of physics, of whatever, that we’ve been dealt. And when there’s nothing we can do but hang on, we hang on. And hope.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Almost Not a Cat Person

When I think of “close calls,” I tend to think less of what could have been, and more of what could almost have not been.  So, rather than thinking, “What if that car accident had been worse and I was paralyzed,” I tend to think more like, “What if I hadn’t walked into the store that day and met that person?”

Perhaps the most prominent example of this presently in my life is my second cat, Shadow.  (I suck at picking cat names — this was picked by a little girl who took care of the cat before me.)

Let me back up and say that I am NOT a cat person.  At least, I wasn’t one before.  My partner wanted a cat to keep him company since he works at home all day, and since I was the anti-cat person, it fell to me to pick a cat for us.  I avoided it as long as I could, but if I ever found myself in or near a pet store, I would inevitably wander by the cats.

Whisky, Day One
There was one cat that finally got my attention.  He came with the name Whisky and he was a humane society cat from a small town.  I walked by the windows of the cat display and Whisky immediately got up and rubbed his face and body against the glass, desperate to connect with me.  I asked to meet the cat and instantly fell in love.  I got my partner to drop everything and join me at the pet store.  Two hours later, my partner was stunned that he was going home with a cat on his lap.

The three of us lived happily.  Whisky loved exploring his new house and getting to know his new family.  I immediately became a cat person, something I never thought would happen.  (This was the first “close call” with cats.  If I’d not wandered into that specific store and if Whisky hadn’t made a deliberate attempt to connect with me, I might still be cat-less today, and our house would still feel empty.)

A couple months after Whisky settled into his new life with us, a friend of my partner told us about a homeless cat that was looking for a family.  Since this person knew we were new cat owners, he thought Whisky might need some company in the form of a small, black kitten named Shadow.  The friend knew a family that lived on a rural farm property and a kitten, who had obviously been an indoor cat until very recently, had wandered onto the property.  They suspect someone drove out to the country, opened the car door, dropped the kitten at the side of the road, and drove off.  (It sounds horrible, but last year I saw someone do just that downtown.)  The kitten desperately needed a new home, as it had been living in the woods around the farm for a few weeks and the barn cats were beating him up and not letting him on the farm.

Shadow, Day One
A couple weeks passed after the friend made that request.  We never heard about the cat again, so we figured it had gone to someone else and that was probably a good thing—we were in no position to adopt another cat.  When we finally decided firmly that, no, we would not accept the cat if the question came up again, my partner got a phone call from this friend.  “I’m coming back to the city and I’ve got the cat with me.  Meet me at my place because I can’t take him inside because my cats will be mad at it.”  The decision had apparently been made for us.  There was no question of if we could take the cat; we were being told to come pick it up.

My partner went and met his friend and took the cat.  He was a mangy little thing—stinky, scrawny, and crying nonstop.  The first night with him was a nightmare; to prevent transmission of worms or fleas or anything, we had to keep him alone in a small room and we heard his desperate plaintive cries through the whole house.  The next day we took him to the vet and he screamed the whole way there, with a yowl that sounded distinctly like “Hhheeelllppp…”

We told the vet that we had decided we couldn’t keep the kitten, but we would make sure that he was healthy before we re-homed him.  (I didn’t feel right not taking care of this kitten’s health when I had the means to do so.)  And since he was living in the woods for a few weeks and, we believe, neglected by his first home, there were a few medical issues to take care of.

We took Shadow home and put him in his private room again.  He had to be kept separate for several days until we were certain there was nothing he could transmit to Whisky.  Whisky would spend his days on the other side of the door, hissing and snarling.

As the weeks passed as we took care of Shadow’s health issues and we got him fixed, we began the slow introduction of bringing him and Whisky together.  It was a disaster.  Whisky was horribly mean and attacked Shadow regularly.  The stress and tension of all four of us—humans and cats—was incredibly high.  (Also, at the time, my grandmother was in hospital and nearing the end, only adding to the negativity in my environment.)

We had to get rid of Shadow.  That was the only solution to all of this.  If we could go back to being a one-cat house, then the stress would be gone and I could deal with the other issues in my life.

Just when we were at our breaking point with Shadow, everything suddenly changed.  Whisky stopped attacking him and Shadow stopped his non-stop full-throated whining.  (Coincidentally, this was the day before my grandmother passed away.  She was worried about us and the cats, so I was able to tell her that everything seemed to suddenly be going okay and we could make this work.)  We had no understanding of why everything had magically changed, but it did.  All of the problems just seemed to have evaporated overnight.

Now Best of Friends
Shadow was still a very timid kitten.  We’re pretty sure that in his first home, not only was he neglected, but he was likely locked in a small room, ignored, and given no stimulation.  Over the months since then, Shadow has grown increasingly confident and continues to learn how to be a cat.  (It’s only a few months ago, after he turned about a year old, that he discovered that it’s fun to go under blankets.  Until that point, it absolutely terrified him.  I literally had to teach this cat how to be petted, as he was so desperate for human contact that he would squirm so much when anyone petted him, that petting soon became impossible.  I also had to teach him how to sit on my lap and how to play with toys.)

Shadow and Whisky now get along very well.  Whisky still picks on Shadow now and then — but Shadow also encourages it.  Quite regularly, I’ll see Shadow hit Whisky on the head several times and then flop on the floor in front of him, waiting to be attacked.  But after their playtime, they're often found snuggled together in their cat bed, or grooming each other in the kitchen.

Shadow was the bigger “close call” of the two cats.  We were determined to give him up.  We told everyone that Shadow was not staying and that he would need to find a new home—for his safety and our sanity.  He needed to live with someone who was prepared to give him the attention he so desperately needed.  He got very close to being moved into a new house with a new family.

But by waiting as long as we did, because of those medical issues, we accidentally gave him the time to adjust to his new life and settle in.  If we had moved quicker, he would be somewhere else.  It's really because of a persistent ear infection (which has since cleared) that he stayed long enough to carve out his place in our home.

Shadow is now an integral part of the family.




Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Erotic Love & Carnal Sins: Confessions of a Priest (co-written with Sandra Claire). He is also the publisher and co-founder of Deep Desires Press, a publisher of erotica and high-heat-level erotic romance. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.