Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Inheritance - The story of Sapper Tom

If you live in the UK you will have seen plenty of these silhouette memorials. Called the Silent Soldier, they have been installed in towns, cities, villages all over the country to commemorate the centenary of the ending of the First World War. For so many of the soldiers who died between 1914 and 1918, this is all the memorial they might have, this and their name carved into a local cenotaph somewhere.

Remembrance Sunday takes place in the UK on 11 November every year, but was especially poignant this year. My local village invested in a bugler to play The Last Post, and sales of poppies went through the roof. I’m as content as any to honour the sacrifice made by those soldiers, though I struggle to see much glory in death. I prefer the white poppies, symbolising peace. It’s telling, perhaps, to note that the first soldier to die fell just a few yards from where the final man lost his life. Such was the futility of it all.

I wanted to take this opportunity, though, under the guise of Inheritance, to tell the story of Sapper Tom. Sapper Tom – Thomas Leadbeater – was my grandfather’s brother. He would have been my great-uncle, but he died in the First World War. He did quite well, considering, managing to survive almost two years in the trenches before being killed in 2017.

The telegram that the War Office sent to his mother was curt, to say the least, coldly informing her that her son was missing. It was followed a few days later by another, conforming his death. I can barely start to imagine the torment my great-grandmother suffered in those days, wondering if, against all the odds, Tom might have survived. Later correspondence from the War Office, in response to inquiries she made, inform her that Sapper Thomas Leadbeater’s remains are interred in the vicinity of Alexandria. No grave, no certainty, even, of exactly where he was buried. Only the vicinity.

More correspondence dated 1920 confirms that the war pension my great-grandmother had claimed following her boy’s death in action was to be discontinued. This, at a time when there was no welfare state and older people relied on their children to support them in old age. I can only assume that many, many of that generation had to somehow fend for themselves. Mercifully, my great-grandmother had surviving children, including my grandfather so she wasn’t destitute.

Sapper Tom was rarely spoken of after the War, though his younger sister, Nora, did keep the letters he sent to her from the trenches in which he advises her, in the way of an older brother, not to walk through dark and lonely alley ways at night. He also asked her to take care of their mother, should the worse happen…

Monday, November 19, 2018

A Legacy of Poetry - #poetry #rhyme #music

Pen nib

By Lisabet Sarai

I’m mildly surprised my first words weren’t in rhyme. Or perhaps they were—nobody in my family has ever been able to remember a time when I wasn’t talking, so I really can’t check! I do know that my parents surrounded me with poetry from my very earliest years. Before I could read myself (prior to year four), they read to my brother and me, including nursery rhymes and poems like “The Owl and the Pussycat” (which I can still recite). 

My mother sang, mostly nineteen forties torch songs with regular meter and rhyme:

Fly the ocean in a silver plane,
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain,
Just remember till you’re home again,
You belong to me.

My dad composed his own original songs for my siblings and me:

Consimo was a talented cat.
There certainly was no doubt of that.
He’d climb on stage in his big top hat
And play the clarinet in the key of B-flat.

There were always books around, and many of them included verse. So I guess it’s not too surprising that I grew up writing poetry. I can’t recall anyone suggesting I should, or telling me how. I just picked it up, a sort of inheritance from my verbally-gifted family.

Here’s a poem I still remember (I don’t know if I have a written copy), composed when I was  nine. We’d gone out on a friend’s boat (a real thrill for me) in the Atlantic off the Massachusetts coast, on a still, cloudy summer afternoon. The moody atmosphere made a strong impression:

The sky is the gray of an eagle’s wing;
The sea has a leaden tint.
Drowsy waves gently rock the bow of our craft.
And then on the breeze comes the sound of a bell,
Telling the story and ringing the knell
For the ships and the sailors ever gone.
And under the waves of the watery deep
The brave and the noble eternally sleep
While the bell buoy rocks in the sway of the sea
Its bell ever singing, ‘leave these brave men in peace’
As it in its watch eternally keeps.

Okay, it’s a bit grandiose, but I think the structural complexity’s pretty impressive for a fourth grader.

I continued to pen poems all through high school, mostly about unrequited desire.

We’ve pro-ed and con-ed for many months, my friend
And come to no decision.
Hot and cold running dreams,
Fires and frosts of the heart.
The climate of our love has been
New England.

As I sank deeper into anorexia and temporary insanity, my poetry grew darker in mood, but I never stopped using words, rhythm and rhyme to express my emotions. Through my college years and my recovery, the poetry still flowed, with less agony and more openness to the world.

Then came graduate school and my wild, crazy “sex goddess years”. All my lust and excitement exploded into poetry. I met my master and came to understand the lure of submission:

Meditations on a Crescent Moon (to GCS)

a bright thorn lodged in my flesh,
scarlet petals crushed on my breasts;
silver hook reeling me in;
scimitar pricking my skin.

clipping of a fingernail,
charm to bind; scorpion's tail,
sweetest poison in the sting,
fever dreams; broken ring
of the ancient myth,
how I shall know
my other half.

silken curl
from some platinum plait;
comma - a pause,
saying hush, wait.
light leaking beneath the door,
beneath the blindfold --
nothing more,
in the darkened room
but a lingering kiss
and the rough caress
of the bonds
on my wrists.
Sometimes I think my best poems are the ones I dedicated to him.

There was a lull in my versifying when I began writing and publishing fiction. But the rhyme, the rhythm, the music that are my birthright were still there. You can hear the poems in my prose, if you listen. I’m always aware of the cadence, the way the words fall on the ear.

Lately, I’ve been moved to write poetry again, though less urgently than before. Meanwhile, I can come up with a rhyming ditty in a matter of minutes. I have the lyrics for hundreds of songs stored away in my head. If it rhymes, I’ll remember.

My parents have both left this earth. They didn’t leave me a lot of money or property. However, they bequeathed to me both a love of and a skill with words. For that, I’m deeply grateful.

(You can find more of my poems on the free reading page of my website.)

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Redemption Arc

Yes, I admit it openly! I’m an HEA sort of girl. I feel like I’ve been cheated if I don’t get that happy ever after or at least a happy for now at the end of a novel or a series. Yes, I expect losses, and yes I expect a journey that is fraught with chaos and nail-biting setbacks, but I do expect a pay-off for sticking with the author to the end. 

If there isn’t an HEA, well I can live with that as long as the tale is redemptive. But take away the characters’ hard-earned HEA and their redemption arc and I will throw the book in the trash, or delete it from my kindle and never read that author again. Totally not acceptable in my sight!

While I get that sometimes the cost of the tale being told is way too high for a proper HEA, while I get that people suffer and die and things go tits up and pear shaped, I cannot, CANNOT except a tale that ends with no intimation of redemption. Perhaps it makes me a sappy git, but I believe redemption is essential to the human condition. If that were not the case, I figure the human race would have died out a long time ago from the total lack of hope.

With the subject of U-turns on the agenda for this cycle of OGaG, I found myself thinking about the redemptive arcs in my own stories. Not only are they there in every single tale, but they are absolutely essential for the HEA to happen. While a redemption story does not necessarily involve an HEA, in my opinion for an HEA to be worth the read, a redemptive arc leading up to it is crucial. Without it, the story is flat and, worst of all, it becomes something with which people in the real world cannot identify. 

The sharing of stories is quite possibly the best form of escapism ever created, with reading fiction the ultimate refinement of that great escape. We read, and write stories to experience vicariously the journeys we can never make on our own, nor would we even want to if we could. And while that is true, the one thing that we do want to believe in, need to believe in, the one thing that we want to take for ourselves from each story is a sense of hope, without which there’s very little reason to journey farther.

Through the stories I’ve written, my characters have taught me several valuable lessons about redemption. 

First of all, redemption doesn’t mean forgiveness. Some things cannot be forgiven, nor can they be undone. That means one of the very fist steps to redemption is letting go of the past those characters can’t change and moving forward to the future they can.

Secondly that moving forward instead of being stuck in the past and its hopelessness is often the opening of ones eyes to see things differently, a different view of what has been and how it affects the present makes for a much different view of the future and the possibilities awaiting the character. 

Thirdly while the literal definition of redemption is the buying back of a thing, in fiction the currency is character struggle. What is purchased at a very high price is hope bought back from hopelessness. It’s not so much the hope that one might be made new again nor is it the pipe dream that what has happened can be undone, because certainly it can’t. But redemption is the moving forward on a different path that leads away from despair and toward hope, no matter how distant that hope may seem. It’s the understanding that while one can’t undo what has been done, one can move forward in hope and impact the world in a positive way, or at least not a negative one. 

Fourthly, once the U-turn into hope is made, the journey is only just beginning. The characters’ flaws don’t magically vanish, the brokenness is not suddenly mended and the journey is more than likely going to be one helluva a ride. But it’s a ride worth the effort. It’s a ride worth waking up for every morning. That sense of value, or at least that sense of not being worthless, that sense of moving toward something that matters is a key ingredient in the redemption of a character. 

Finally, sex in a story can play a major role in that redemptive arc. Sex can work as the drug that keeps hopelessness at bay and keeps a character numb or in denial. It may be nothing more than a distraction from the pain of that hopelessness, but in story it’s a powerful distraction and one that can convey to the reader the depth of the character’s hopelessness in a way that’s raw and honest, even in its dishonesty. 

But sex in the redemptive arc can also lay a character bare, render a character open and vulnerable to that U-turning, to that possibility that hope might not just be something for other people. That sense of union and oneness that can happen with sex can be a part of the guiding force that brings a character back to himself, that reconnects him with all that matters, all that has been lost. 

While we might all seek an escape from our own ordinary lives through the stories we read, while we might all live vicariously through the trials and tribulations of the characters, the need for redemption, for hope, is something not so vicarious, something we all need and long to share.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

U-Turn on Lonely Street

By Tim Smith

It was one lonely evening in Toronto, Canada. I had crossed the border to take a break from some problems, and see different scenery than what I stared at every day. I had already hit the casino, lost my limit, dined at a so-so cafe that the locals raved about, and now I was walking the city streets, seeing what else there was to this tourist mecca.

The foot traffic was light, mostly locals and a few out-of-towners like myself seeking liquid refreshment and whatever nightlife the city had to offer. It was a pleasant June evening, with a light breeze blowing in from Lake Superior to keep the temperature tolerable.

I saw her approaching from the opposite direction and froze in my tracks. I was instantly taken in by the young woman with long brown hair, wearing cute wire-rimmed glasses perched above a button nose, with a curvy figure encased in tight jeans and a stylish short-sleeved top that was just snug enough to give me ideas.

She kept her gaze focused forward, her face giving a non-committal look that seemed to radiate an air of confidence, one that was reflected in her stride. I slowly did a U-turn as she passed and watched her walk down the street. Suddenly I was on auto-pilot as I followed her, not close enough to intrude but near enough to appreciate the sway of her shapely hips.

She quickly crossed the street at the next intersection just as the light turned red. I resisted the urge to sprint after her but stood at the curb, watching her. Halfway down the block she entered a restaurant situated on the ground floor of an elegant old hotel. I had passed it on my way up that same street but decided against checking it out. Now I changed my mind.

After the traffic signal gave me permission to cross, I slowed my pace as I approached the door she had passed through and stood on the sidewalk, peering inside. The dining section of the restaurant was nearly vacant. She sat at the cherry bar, alone, sipping a glass of wine and watching the TV mounted overhead.

I went inside and took a stool four away from hers. When my drink arrived, I sipped it while stealing glances at her in the mirror behind the neatly-arranged bottles. She seemed to be absorbed in watching the wrestling match on the TV. I was intrigued. It wasn’t in my nature to approach strange women in bars, but I remembered an old saying—no guts, no glory. I moved closer, keeping one bar stool between us so she wouldn’t think I was invading her personal space. My mind tried to come up with something witty to say before deciding on a simple approach.

“Do you think it’s real?” I asked.

She looked at me in surprise, realizing she wasn’t alone. She flashed a pleasant smile. “Is what real?”

I gestured at the TV. “The wrestling. Do you think those guys are really beating each other silly, or are they just making it look good for the audience?” 

“I’m not sure. What do you think?”

I took a small sip. “Completely phony. They’re just giving the customers what they want to see—senseless violence disguised as entertainment.”

She laughed. It was a soft lyrical laugh, very soothing. “That’s an interesting observation. Are you always so cynical?”

“It helps me navigate the rapids known as life.”

She turned slightly to look me full in the eye. Hers were hazel, with just a hint of eyeliner to accent their natural glow. If I wasn’t careful, I could lose myself in those eyes. We exchanged first names and she asked me what it was I did that gave me such a cryptic outlook on life. I challenged her to guess.

“Hmm. Are you a philosopher?”

I shook my head.

Her look turned playful. “A fortune teller?”

“Wrong again, but you’re getting warm. I’m a writer.”

“That’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever met an actual writer before, at least not one that owned up to it.”

That was good for a laugh from me. “We’re a rare breed. And what do you do?”

“I’m in aesthetics.”

Now I was confused. “What is that?”

“Hair styling, facials, make-overs, things like that.”

I nodded. “In the States, you’d be called a cosmetologist.”

“It’s the same thing.” Her eyes and expression took on a bit more interest. “What do you write?”

We spent the next hour exchanging life stories and shared interests, accompanied by another round of drinks. Since things had progressed from awkward introductions to sitting next to each other, sharing laughs with her hand resting on mine, I felt it was time to take the next obvious step.

“Would you like to continue this over dinner?” I asked.

She kneaded my hand and peered into my eyes. Hers communicated a hint of sadness. “I’m sorry, but I can’t stay. I just stopped in here for a drink to unwind after work.” She hesitated. “But I’m really glad I met you.”

“The pleasure was all mine.”

We exchanged e-mail addresses then she took her leave, after giving me a firm hug and a kiss to remember her by.

I was glad I made that U-turn.       

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The U-Turn Trope

I have to admit that if there’s any trope I love in fiction — particularly in romantic fiction — it’s the U-turn.

You know the story — the two romantic leads (perhaps a guy and a girl, two guys, or two girls) just can’t seem to make it work. In fact, they’re starting to hate each other. They want nothing to do with each other. They’re better off single — or with other people.

But then … something happens. Something makes them do a dramatic U-turn and it has them careening in the opposite direction. Suddenly … what had seemed to be so hopeless and non-existent mere moments ago is now possible.

They hated each other … but now they love each other.

When it comes to gay or lesbian fiction, U-turns can take other forms too. Someone is determined to be straight — or the guy/girl is in love with their friend who they assume is straight — but then the truth comes out, feelings are revealed, and that seemingly impossible love story is suddenly possible.

I generally include the U-turn in almost everything I write.

There’s just something about the unexpected and sudden surge of emotions that I get from those scenes that makes me all tingly. I love reading these scenes and I love writing them.

Excerpt time!

Earlier this year I wrote and published my first gay young adult romance — Gay Love and Other Fairy Tales. It’s become my bestselling book by far, so I’m suddenly looking at starting a new line of young adult fiction books. (Talk about a U-turn in my writing life! All smut all the time to suddenly putting considerable focus on a smut-free line!)

In this scene, we’ve got closeted Ben who had a hard crush on his gay friend Jordan. Ben is not ready to come out — in fact, he’s not even able to say the word “gay” in relation to himself, so he wouldn’t be able to utter those words. But he knows he wants to kiss Jordan. He wants to get closer to Jordan. He wants to become more than friend.

Sweet, innocent Jordan thinks he’s just hanging out with his straight friend on New Year’s Eve, eating nachos and watching the ball drop. He’s never thought of Ben in any sort of romantic light — why would he? Ben is straight and that’s that.

But on this New Year’s Eve, there may be a surprise in the works, one that will lead to a sudden U-turn for both characters…


A burst of music from the television pulls us back to it, someone I don’t recognize is belting out some song I’ve never heard. I’m sure she’s famous. Whoever she is.

“Would you be okay with a hug?” I ask, staring hard at the TV. “Like, it’s tradition to have a kiss to ring in New Year’s, but we could, you know, hug or something. I’m okay if you don’t want to. You know what, never mind, forget I asked.” I want to kick myself. Coward.

He puts a hand on my forearm to stop my negative rant — and it also clears the dressing down I’m giving myself in my head — and instantly it feels like heat blooms from that touch of his hand on my arm. My only regret is that I’m wearing long sleeves and I can’t feel his hand on my bare skin.

“A hug would be great,” he says.

My heart beats and it’s like my whole body pulses with it. I can feel it throbbing in my neck. He’s going to hug me. I’m going to hug him. I sip my beer slowly as I watch the clock in the corner of the TV — they’ve displayed a countdown to midnight.

Twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes until my hug. Twenty minutes until I have Jordan in my arms.

Nineteen minutes and thirty seconds.

I can’t keep counting down like this. I’m going to drive myself insane. I’m going to kill the mood if I’m glued to the clock. I hear some rustling beside me and I see that Jordan has pulled out his phone and he’s scrolling through Instagram. He suddenly angles his phone away from me.

“What?” I ask.

He hesitates, then says, “Nikki’s posting pics of her and Winston.”

“I’m not her boyfriend,” I say automatically. I’ve never actually said that to anyone. I’ve always just let people make their own assumptions and I was happy to play along with it. “We were never together.”

“Really?” Jordan asks, raising an eyebrow.

“I make her look good in photos, but I have no interest in her,” I say. I can feel a bead of sweat forming at my temple.

He scoffs. “You put on a good act then.” He goes to her profile and scrolls down until he finds pictures of me and Nikki. Together. Kissing.

“That’s exactly what it is. An act.” My heart is beating so hard it feels like it’s going to punch through my ribs.

He looks at me like he’s assessing me. “She’s gorgeous,” he says. It’s like he’s pushing me, like he knows what I want to say, even though I don’t think he has a clue. “She’s a control freak sometimes, yeah, but she’s gorgeous.”

“Not my type,” I say.

“Oh?” He shuts off his phone and tosses it on the couch between us. “What is your type?”

You. You’re my type. But can I say those words out loud? Hell no. Coward.

Instead, I turn my attention to the TV. Fourteen minutes left.

“I’m still figuring that out,” I say.

He seems to accept that as an answer, or at least accepts that I’m not ready to talk more about it. We silently watch the rest of the countdown and inwardly I’m kicking myself again — way to ruin the mood right before the hug! I’m saving my last mouthful of Bud Light for midnight, so I’m just sitting here idly holding an almost-empty can of beer.

Finally, what seems like ages later, we’re down to less than a minute. Slowly, the energy in the room warms up. I lean forward, like getting closer to the TV is going to somehow make this more exciting. Beside me, Jordan does the same.

“Ten!” he says out loud, joining the cheering people on the screen counting down.

I join in with him. “Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!”

I take that final swig of beer, letting the alcohol give me a burst of courage. I stand up and hold my arms out and Jordan stands up and comes into them. I wrap my arms around him, holding him tight.

“Happy New Year,” I whisper.

“Happy New Year,” he whispers back.

I know I should let go, end this hug, because it’s getting too long — it’s past the limit of how long friends hug. But I don’t want to let go.

I never want to let go.

Jordan feels so right in my arms.

But there’s something I want even more.

I loosen my arms a little bit and he backs up just an inch or two and he looks up at me. His eyes sparkle in the light and I can see a question behind those clear, brown eyes. He knows something is different.

With the alcohol pushing my decisions, I angle my head in and kiss him.

He puts his hands on my chest like he’s ready to push me away, but I keep kissing him, even though he’s not moving his lips, even though he’s as still as a statue. Panic starts to rise in me and I can feel myself starting to shake. Jordan isn’t responding.

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay smut. His most recent publication is the (surprisingly smut-free) gay YA romance, Gay Love And Other Fairy Tales, under his YA pen name, Dylan James.

Monday, November 12, 2018

I Turn, U Turn,

Sacchi Green

You were afraid someone would take the low road, weren’t you. Yes, I’m going to be that someone, tossing self-respect to the winds and indulging my adolescent streak with a bad pun.

This is actually the result of a comment on Jean Roberta’s Facebook page, where we were discussing Facebook’s turning down a link to her current OGG post as not conforming with “Community Standards.” Her post here is in no way objectionable, unless now we can’t even use the word “sex” a couple of times, so we were joking about what “U Turns” might be code for, and someone (I asked if I could use her brilliant brainstorm, but failed to ask if I could use her name, so I won’t) replied, “69.”

Of course! I wish I’d thought of it first. I prefer to think of that configuration as yin/yang, but U Turns fits nicely enough. Lesbian erotica, my usual genre, makes so much use of the position as to make it a cliché if a writer doesn’t handle the scene carefully. But the term or concept isn’t limited in erotica to physiology. Power play tends on the whole to maintain the relative top and bottom roles, but switching can be at least as hot, and have even more layers of emotional and psychological complexity. I have to admit that the U Turn from dominance to submission (and vice versa) may work best in fiction, but as an editor of anthologies I find it intriguing, and I have, in fact, known it to occur in real life, for certain values of “real life.”

I’m going to supply an excerpt to make up for not having anything further to say about U Turns in erotica—I could go on quite a bit about total U Turns of gender, but I won’t go there just now. First, though, back to the original question about Facebook’s conversion to Puritan ways. I thought I might write this post without any overtly sexually charged language and see whether FB would allow a link, but I clearly haven’t managed that. I may fool around with temporarily editing all this to leave only the blandest of phrases, and see what happens, but my theory is that FB simply won’t allow links to The Grip itself any more. I used to be able to link, but haven’t tried for a while. I do know of computers in a school library that won’t let you go here.

On to the excerpt, even though I get to feeling that my excerpts are cop-outs to avoid more in-depth writing. “Baubles and Beads” was published in D.L. King’s Unspeakably Erotic, and actually falls between two other stories I’ve written about the same characters, one of which, “Pulling,” I’ve quoted from here before, and both of which are in my collection coming out in a couple of months.

Baubles and Beads
Sacchi Green

Fingers of light from the midway, garish pinks, purples, greens, groped at us between the buildings all the way to the horse barns. Some of the fair’s rides and hucksters kept on as long as the farm boys still had money smoldering in the pockets of their snug jeans, but Carla shut down her balloon-dart concession at the official closing time. She could’ve handled the lingering customers by herself, most of them on the leering side of friendly and the slurring side of drunk, but my looming six-foot-two of husky farm girl didn’t hurt. We rolled down and secured the canvas, and slipped away into the shadows.
Lights just as garish had seeped through skimpy curtains last night from the neon sign outside her motel room. I’d scarcely noticed, obsessed with Carla herself, the black-haired, blue-eyed bad girl of my dreams.
She’d bound me to the bedposts with strings of flashy mardi gras beads, my prizes from her game, and challenged me NOT to break them no matter what she did. I’d almost managed it. And learned, first, how it felt to give up, give in, abandon my strength and my will, all the armor against vulnerability built up over the years. I’d begun by tensing up in the fierce struggle not to strain against apparently flimsy bonds, resisting physical reflexes with will power, but the more Carla forced pleasure into pain and pain into pleasure, the farther both willpower and reflexes faded away. I floated somewhere beyond thought, drowning in pure sensation. When she tipped me over at last into a thrashing orgasm I must have broken the strands of beads, but it was a long time before I noticed them sprawling limply across the bed, and longer still before I saw that they were strung on strong nylon thread, knotted between each bead, each strand only broken at a single point.
So the second thing I learned, the most important by far, was not to assume that just because something looks flashy and cheap it must be flimsy.
Tonight my wrists and ankles were still raw. My tenderer parts ached when I remembered the keen torments and even keener pleasures she’d put me through. But later, after I’d demonstrated my own grasp of the basics--and of her tender parts--and taken possession of the shiny beads, Carla had offered to meet me again tonight on my own ground, and face any challenge I set, even if it meant getting up close and personal with horses that seemed to her “as big as elephants and twice as mean.”
Whatever I thought I’d known about women, Carla was a whole different story. A story turning out to be more complicated than I’d bargained for, but worth every bit of whatever it took. Last night she’d taught me more about myself than I’d ever faced up to before; tonight it was my turn to challenge Carla. Maybe even teach her a thing or two. And find out more about myself.
The horse barns faced east, away from the chaos of the midway and the crowds. I’d signed up for the overnight security shift, so once the guy on evening duty saw me coming, waved, and took off, there was nobody else around. At least there’d sure better not be.
A full moon was rising. Carla gazed up at it for a minute or two while I reached around from behind and fondled her sweet round breasts. A warm late summer breeze raised tendrils of her soft dark hair to brush against my cheek. “Autumn’s almost here,” I murmured. “There’ll be plenty more fairs coming up. I’ll be bringing my team to half a dozen or so. You’ll be at Fryburg in Maine?”
“Maybe,” she said, bracing herself. “But bring on your challenge now, Ree.”
She knew it would be about the horses. Yesterday, when I’d led my team out of the pulling ring and over to meet her, she couldn’t hide her terror. Molly and Stark, great black Percherons, two thousand pounds each with hooves the size of pie plates. Any city girl would be scared. I’d backed the pair off, told her I’d meet her at ten at her carnival booth, and moved on toward the barns, surprised at how much seeing a lapse in Carla’s femme-top self-possession excited me. A chink in her armor.
Now I leaned against the open barn door. “First, find out where I hid the beads.”
Carla relaxed, back in her own territory. “Let’s see. Maybe here?” She probed the pockets of my shirt, managing even through the flannel to tweak nipples still sore from her clamps last night. Then she reached up under the shirt to squeeze my heavy breasts. I tried hard to control my breathing. “Or here?” She worked her hands into the front pockets of my jeans, finding the same tube of horse lube I’d used with her last night, then the rear pockets, with more squeezing. My hips began to twitch. The look on my face must have given me away. Or maybe the catch in my breath.
“Aha.” Her fingers went between my legs to knead the thick seam of my jeans into my crotch. “Are these beads in your pants, or are you just glad to see me?”
“See for yourself.” I could barely get the words out. She wriggled a hand down inside belt, jeans, and briefs, found what she was looking for, and began sliding the strands through my slippery heat. I nearly lost it. One of those strands had been nestled even deeper the night before last; I’d been supposed to be resting up before the final round of the draft horse competition, but could think only of her. Tonight the beads had been driving me wild for half an hour. Was I really so set on being in charge tonight?
 I gritted my teeth and yanked her hand, clutching its wet ruby and peacock-green prizes, out into the night air. Even in the dim light from inside the barn they glowed like a Rajah’s treasure. Or…what was the proper term? A Ranee’s? I’d re-tied them securely after breaking them last night.  
“Mmm.”  Carla ran them across her tongue before draping them around her neck so that they swayed across her visibly tautened breasts.
I drew a shuddering breath and turned away.  “Now find the other two strands.” I stepped into the barn. Carla hesitated and then, very slowly, followed.
Molly, in a roomy box stall just inside the entrance, leaned her great black head over the gate and whuffled a greeting. Stark, just across the way, merely dozed on.
“Molly, this is Carla. Carla, Molly.” Molly lowered her nose politely to be petted. Carla jerked back briefly, then raised a tentative hand. I knew her fear of the horses wouldn’t last long, but it might at least soften her up a bit.
“Hello, Molly.” Her voice only shook a little. The horse’s nose dipped lower, snuffling at the green and ruby beads on Carla’s chest and then at her hands. Carla jerked back, then suddenly laughed. “You’re smelling Ree on me! I guess that makes us all pals.” She stroked the velvety nose tentatively. “And you’re wearing beads, too!” The gleaming strands twined through the black mane on either side of Molly’s neck, the golden on the right and the purple on the left.
“You’ll have to climb on the gate to reach them,” I pointed out.
She shot me a dirty look, mounted the lower bars, and reached across and upward. Even then, if Molly hadn’t been nuzzling her shoulder, the beads would have been too high for her to reach.
The first strand came loose easily. Carla climbed down, dangled it in front of me, then let it go when I gripped her wrist too hard for comfort. Yes, I definitely did want to be in charge, now that she had to meet my challenge. More was at stake than a tumble in the hay. Carla’s chin went up almost imperceptibly--and then she lowered it, turned, and climbed back up on Molly’s other side. Molly bent her head again cooperatively, but I gave a low whistle and she moved backward so that Carla couldn’t reach no matter how far she tried to stretch.
“That’s how I tell her to back off,” I said conversationally as I pulled Carla’s skirt up and panties down. “You want me to back off any time, just whistle. You do know how to whistle, don’t you?”
She stopped reaching in vain for the beads and thrust out her bare butt. Playing along, letting me get away with something, but taunting me just the same. I let the golden beads drift gently over each round, tempting cheek, drew them along the valley between, then whipped them suddenly across each side. Carla gripped the top of the gate and didn’t look around. I wielded them harder twice, slashing in diagonal strokes that left an intriguing latticework pattern, but I’d tried whipping my own arm with the beads that morning and knew how extra painful they could be, so I switched tactics.
I couldn’t wait any longer to get my hands on her. The feel of her heated skin, the sound of my strikes on her flesh, the tremors of her body, her musky scent strengthening by the second… In moments I was high on power and lust, intoxicated, all the more when she began making guttural sounds interspersed with gasps. “It’s…okay, Molly!” she got out as the horse twitched and shifted nervously.
I forced myself to take it slow again. Beads slid between those lovely moon-pale cheeks with their rosy stripes, rolled lower into the hot, wet heat of her crotch, nudged at her hardening clit, until finally she grated, “More, Ree, damnit! Now!” She clutched at Molly’s mane, pressed her forehead against the mare’s huge chest, and tried to grind herself hard against my hand.
“My territory, my rules. I decide what you get, and how much, and when.” I made a stab at sounding stern. It felt good. More than good.
Her muttered words were barely audible. “Yes Ree, whatever you want…”
My hand came down hard again on her rounded, tantalizing butt. I wanted her to want more of that, and to want all the kneading and squeezing both my hands gave to her reddened flesh before one sank slowly, slowly over those curves down into the heat between her thighs. Did I want her to need those things for herself, or because they pleased me? I just knew I wanted both.
She moved frantically against them at first, needing more, more pressure, more depth, but I teased her with retreat and advance and retreat, over ever more wet and slippery terrain. Once, experimentally, I kept one the fingers of one hand inside her while spanking her hard with my other hand and feeling the blows myself as it vibrated through her flesh, but that brought her—and me--so close to combustion that I had to pause. Not yet…not…yet…
I tried to gentle her again with slow strokes, but she shuddered and squirmed.
“Please…” Carla’s voice was so faint I could barely heard her. “Don’t let me drop…” Her grip on the gate still seemed firm. I wasn’t certain what she meant, but I was dead sure playing along had nothing to do with it any more.
“Trust me,” was all I thought of to say.

There’s a bit more, and more toward the beginning, but this is as close as it comes to having anything to do with U Turns, and the connection is pretty tenuous at that. In any case, I’ll be hugely surprised if FB will let me link to this post, if they wouldn’t allow Jean Roberta’s deeply moving post about her own life. Go on, scroll down and read that.          

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Tale of a Lost Soul

by Jean Roberta

For centuries, the public at large has loved stories about corrupt or “fallen” souls who have seen the light and done a U-turn back to decency or conformity or religious faith. The anti-prostitution lobbyists of today have more-or-less replaced the Christian evangelists of yesteryear in showing off their pets, formerly “fallen” women who are now respectably married and presumably happy.

Sometimes the story of the U-turn is framed as a journey from the chaos of mental illness to the sunshine of clear thinking.

This is how my life seems to look to the conservatives in my family, and everyone who thinks like them:

I was lucky to be raised by two good parents, including a stay-at-home mom who devoted herself to her family. (Actually, she earned a Master’s degree in English before she was married, and was bitter about the circumstances that prevented her from having a teaching career.)

In my teens, I became damaged goods when I discovered sex with boys. But luckily, I found a nice boyfriend in my last year of high school. He even proposed to me, but then I messed things up. (He was a fledgling writer like me, and he dumped me after I won an award in a national student writing contest. He said I was on an “ego trip.”)

My loving parents sent me to a good university in eastern Canada where something went wrong. I lost my way and tried to commit suicide. I was probably on drugs, which were too easily available to young people at that time. (I was not on drugs. I was raped.)

My parents did their best to help me by sending me to various psychiatrists. (It was a nightmare. They were all conventional, white Canadian men with medical degrees who didn’t believe what I told them.) I didn’t appreciate it, and moved out of the family home as soon as I reached legal adulthood at 21. I found my own apartment, probably so that I could freely indulge in sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. (I was a part-time university student. I couldn’t afford much, and didn’t indulge in intoxicating substances.)

My father took a sabbatical in England for fourteen months in 1973-74. The whole family came along, including me. This was my chance to get closer to my family and possibly find a nice guy to take care of me. (I wanted to get away from the guys I met when I lived alone. Two of them were married, but didn’t tell me this until after they had spent the night with me. I felt like a sitting duck in hunting season.)

Unfortunately, I met a refugee from the Nigerian Civil War, and we moved in together. Later, I sponsored him to come join me in Canada. The marriage was a huge mistake because these mixed relationships never work. (He drank constantly, was hysterically jealous, and sarcastically blamed my parents for not providing him with a job, a house, a car, or financial support.)

I compounded the mistake by having a baby. (My husband started proposing that we “start a family” as soon as we were married. I hoped it would help, and I thought he would soon graduate from university and become more employable, which turned out to be a fantasy. He probably thought my parents would have to support us if he got me pregnant.)

I left my husband when my baby was only a few months old. I was mentally unstable. (He had threatened to take the baby out of the country to get her away from me, even though he loudly suspected that he wasn’t her real father. He refused to participate in a paternity test.)

For a few years, my daughter and I lived with my poor parents, who had to take care of us because I was completely incapable of functioning as an adult. (They offered me a chance to further my education, and I accepted.)

I suddenly moved out of my parents’ house and into a squalid apartment building. (It was a co-op for low-income single parents. My father had openly told me that he had told a colleague of his at the university that I had “mental problems.” I had just been accepted into the Master’s program in English. I realized that I had to get out.)

I fell off the deep end by moving in with a lesbian, then I moved out after we had some sick argument based on our perverse lifestyle. I moved back into the single-parent co-op, and fell into the sex trade. (My first woman lover stole the contents of my bank account. The government typing jobs I had relied on all through university had largely dried up due to the replacement of electric typewriters with computers. I couldn’t get any child support from my ex-husband. I was determined not to move back in with my parents, or find another “nice guy” like the previous men in my life.)

My poor parents were worried about me, but I was impervious to reason. (I found ways to survive on my own.)

I met a divorced Chilean woman with two sons. She had come to Canada as a political refugee in the 1970s. If this hot-tamale Latin American character had really been my friend, she would have helped me find a new husband, and she would have reunited with hers, the Chilean father of her children who had come to Canada with her. Instead, she cynically seduced me. (I was the instigator. She was a virgin with women.) Drugs or alcohol were probably involved. (No drugs. A few drinks.)

At least the new woman helped me escape from prostitution. (One of my previous johns was stalking me. Mirtha, my new girlfriend, had joined a civilian advisory committee that worked with the police, despite her justified distrust of them. Luckily, a new anti-stalking law had just been passed. Mirtha introduced me to an officer who gave my stalker a warning.)

We moved in together, which turned out to be a mistake. I could never really explain what went wrong. (Another lesbian couple invited us to rent the house they owned in the neighbourhood called “Dyke Heights,” saying we could somehow take over their mortgage without having to qualify for it with the bank. This was not true. The “rent” they charged us included their mortgage and repayment of a loan, and it was higher than we could easily afford. After eighteen months, the owners demanded that we buy the house or move out. We moved out, and they were furious. Luckily, houses for rent were not hard to find in the early 1990s, and we moved three blocks away.)

My poor pre-teen daughter was devastated to be in the midst of all this. (She wanted the biggest bedroom in the house, and we didn’t let her have it. She didn’t see why she should do chores, like Mirtha’s two sons. We adults realized that we couldn’t raise our children under different rules without creating resentment.)

My parents consoled my daughter as well as they could. (They assured her that her mother was mentally ill and didn’t know what she was doing. My two younger sisters confirmed that diagnosis.)

At the very end of the 1990s, we were somehow able to buy a house in “Dyke Heights.” (The university gave me a permanent teaching job. My income alone qualified for a mortgage.)

My parents never lost hope that I would someday come to my senses and remarry. (I did! Same-sex marriage became legal throughout Canada in 2005. I didn’t trust the institution of marriage, so I rebuffed Mirtha’s hints for years. My parents passed away in 2009, which removed one barrier while making my sisters' hostility to me more obvious. I could see that a legal partnership would be in my interests. I finally agreed to take the plunge, and married Mirtha during Halloween weekend in 2010.)

At least I left the sex trade, and found a respectable job. I never found a man, so I’m probably very lonely, and my job is probably hanging by a thread due to my addictions, complexes, neuroses, or whatever the experts call them. (I’ve taught at the university for thirty years, not counting my time as a grad-student Teaching Assistant. Forcing employees out at age 65 was found to be in violation of the Human Rights Code, so I would be hard to expel before I’m ready to leave. Also, I’m not alone. I have a spouse, three cats, and two dogs.)

It all goes to show that once a girl discovers sex, it’s all downhill from there. (True enough, if “downhill” means a slide into a green valley of love and financial security.)

Does this soap opera have an uplifting ending, or is it a five-act tragedy? You be the judge.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

I Am My Grandmother's Legacy, a post by @GiselleRenarde

My grandmother died.

The past month has gone by in a haze of hospital visits as my grandmother--my favourite of all the humans--took a turn for the worse. One week ago, she was taken off food and water. I got up the next morning and tried to wash some dishes before leaving for the hospital. She wasn't dead yet, but that's when it really hit me: she would be, in the next few days. I had to come to terms with losing her.

I cried into my dishwater. I sobbed so hard I thought I was going to throw up. After that, I realized I'd started speaking about her in the past tense. Technically, she was still alive, but barely. Just barely.

We were there at her bedside when she took her final breath: all of her many daughters and me.

I'd never watched someone die before. A few of my aunts had warned me about the horrific expressions they'd seen on the faces of loved ones. Or unsettling sounds they'd made.  As my grandmother's breath slowed, my aunts wanted me to be prepared for the things they'd found disturbing about death.

But nothing like that happened when my grandmother died.

She just stopped breathing. That's it. Her breath slowed down, and then it stopped. She slipped away. No strange expressions or noises.  It was such a peaceful passing. I'm eternally grateful that I got to be there for it.

After she'd died, one of my aunts asked, "What was Mummy's legacy?"

Her family.  Everyone agreed about that.  She was proud of her accomplishments and her work, but the one thing that lives on now that she's gone is this big family she produced.

In that moment, when my aunts and I talked about legacies, I stopped feeling like a worthless person with a useless career. I am my grandmother's legacy. There are no other storytellers in my family.  If I don't preserve the stories she told me--of her life, of her parents, of her grandparents--who will? Her generation is gone. I must preserve their memory.

I matter. I mattered to her. I'm not worthless. She saw my value.

My grandmother believed in me, even when I didn't.  She believed my work was important, even when I claimed I was just in it for a quick buck. She knew there were easier ways to pay the rent, and she was right about that.

She was proud that her grandchild grew up to become a writer. In my family, we're not showy with the emotions. We don't go around saying "I love you" or "I'm proud of you." In my entire life, my mother has never said those things to me. I've never said them to her.

But my grandma told me she was proud of my writing career. She told me that all the time. She said "I love you" to me only once, and I was so uncomfortable with the bigness of the emotion that my response was: "Shut up! Why are you saying that?"

I never returned the sentiment until after she died.  As the colour drained from her skin, I petted her cheek and said, "I love you, Grandma." 

Maybe I didn't say it in words while she was alive, but I know she knew how I felt. I showed her by spending time with her. Lots of time. That wasn't solely for her benefit. She was truly my favourite person on the planet. I'm so thankful for the nearly 40 years we had together.

I will miss her forever, but every time I start feeling worthless, I'll be able to remind myself I have stories to tell. I have value. I am my grandmother's legacy.

My grandmother was always an avid reader--she'd read the dictionary if there was nothing else around--and a lifelong library user. If you've been following my many posts about my grandmother's life and you feel inclined to commemorate her death, I encourage readers to make a donation in her memory to your local public library system. I think she'd like the idea that there were more books and services available to more people because of her.

Heartfelt thanks for allowing me to share our stories with you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

U Turns #theladysnotforturning

Back in the 1980s Margaret Thatcher dominated British politics. She was something of a Marmite character, you either loved or hated her (for the record, I loathed her and was delighted when she fell out of power). But she was mistress of the sound bites, and this was one of them

“You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.”

In Mrs Thatcher’s parlance, this was a reference to sticking to her principles regardless of how unpopular her policies might have been or how difficult the implementation. Opposition to Mrs Thatcher’s brand of Conservatism was fierce, but she trampled though all of it. She was set on her course and come hell or high water would carry it through.

At one level, I can admire such determination and single mindedness. For good or ill, the world can be changed by people who are committed, unwavering, absolutely convinced of their ideals. Nelson Mandela would be an example, Adolf Hitler another. It’s not always a good thing to ignore dissenting voices and press on regardless. Enlightened leadership takes account of other perspectives, seeks to create consensus, and carries the majority with it.

And sometimes, an idea, a set of principles, is just plain wrong. Better, surely, to be alive to such a possibility and ready to change tack if needed. At what point does courage and conviction degenerate into the rigid, self-obsessed thinking of the ignorant despot?

So much for the big stage. The same principles work at the level or ordinary folk, too. How often do we hear of families struggling to accommodate differing religious or political views, younger people at odds with the generation before and neither ready to shift, to compromise, to do a U turn even? 

I’ve never been a fan of elevating an idea, a belief or a principle to such a status that I would sacrifice my key relationships for it, but many do. I’m no expert, not given to dishing out unwanted advice, but it seems to me that a little flexibility, tolerance and compassion can go a long way. If you love people, and want them to be happy, surely that trumps everything else.

Chameleon is one of my favourite books I’ve ever written, not least because of the sub-plots running through it. In Chameleon, I did my share of subtle tub-thumping, introducing themes of political and religious intolerance. The late and not-especially-lamented Margaret Thatcher’s policies feature, and the legacy of division that remains to this day as a result of her attack on mining communities in Britain. Also, though, I try to bang a drum for religious tolerance. At its heart Chameleon is the tale of a Muslim married to a Roman Catholic, and this couple’s determination to bring up their children to embrace both worlds and be the best of each.

Here’s an excerpt that gives a flavour of what I hoped to get across.

“Are you sleeping with my daughter?” The older man’s question took him by surprise, but Ethan knew better than to lie to him.
“I am, yes.”
Said eyed him narrowly, though without hostility. “I see. Will you be sleeping with her tonight?”
“I hope to, yes.” There was, of course, always the slim chance that she might even now back out.
“Yet you are planning to leave our country tomorrow. Will you be returning to Morocco?”
“I have business in London in the coming days. I may return. I had no plans to initially, but now, who knows?” Ethan was more than a little surprised to hear himself say this. He had not realised himself that he was contemplating coming back. But there it was. How interesting.
“Fleur has not had good experiences always, I am sure you will know this…?”
Ethan nodded. “She told me she was married, and that her husband is now dead.”
Said shook his head gravely. “Yes, a terrible business. Not Youssef’s death, you understand. That was not terrible. It was long overdue in my view. I have no sympathy for the dog. He hurt my precious girl. I might have killed him myself at one time.”
Ethan pondered that and considered the possibility that Said was warning him of the potential consequences if he were similarly careless with Fleur’s well-being. He had no intention at all of harming her, at least, not in the manner that her father meant. As for emotional hurt, she had known from the outset that his was a flying visit at best. He fully appreciated that emotions could assert themselves to derail even the best-laid plans, but he would be careful not to create expectations where he should not.
“I understand he was a violent man. Please be assured, Said, that I am not.” Ethan could deliver a decent whipping, fully consensual, of course, but he would never raise his hand to any woman in anger, and he was not a bully. He could and would, make Fleur scream, but he knew she would thank him for it afterwards. Meanwhile, it was by now clear to him that Said was not about to play the paternal moral card, though he was clearly seeking reassurance. Ethan was happy to provide it. “Fleur is safe with me, Mr Mansouri.”
Said nodded. “I believe that. It is clear to me that she holds you in high regard. Is that the right phrase? You will appreciate English is not my natural tongue.”
“I take your meaning, even so.”
“Fleur is old enough to make her own choices now. She is wiser than once she was. I want her to be happy. I want this for all my children.”
Ethan nodded. They seemed to be at an understanding. “Yours is an unusual family, if I may say so, Said.”
The older man nodded. “I imagine it is. We have found a way to get along well enough together, though.”
“Indeed. Fleur tells me she was brought up to be both Muslim and Christian. I had not thought that possible.”
Said’s smile wryly. “I suspect it may not be. I would never ask any of my family to choose. We all find God by our own route, whatever name we call Him by. In truth, I fear my Fleur is a godless creature, despite her mother’s most fervent efforts. My daughter’s immortal soul remains a work in progress for Yvette, I think. For myself, I trust that she may find whatever she is seeking, be that God or some other source of fulfilment. We all need to have meaning in our lives. Would you not agree?”
Ethan did agree and said so. He couldn’t help thinking that if his own father had possessed the tolerance, wisdom and vision of Said Mansouri, and the ability to let go of old hurts, his own community in south Yorkshire might have been the richer for it.
“I think that perhaps you need to be returning to your hotel. Not that I am not enjoying your company, of course. It has been a pleasure to make your acquaintance this evening and I sincerely hope that we may meet again, perhaps when you are able to remain with us for longer…?”
Said’s meaning was clear. Ethan smiled, inclining his head slowly. “You are right. I should be going. And yes, I hope we do have an opportunity to meet again. Thank you for your hospitality this evening, and please pass on my thanks to your lovely wife.”“Of course. I will telephone for a taxi for you.”
“There’s no need…”
“I would not hear of anything else. It will just take a few minutes. Please, have some more mint tea while I make the call.” Said pulled his mobile phone from his pocket. Ethan reached for the teapot.

Chameleon, by Ashe Barker. Available from Amazon

Monday, November 5, 2018

GILF -- #flashfiction #fastcars #Uturn #hookup

Woman in convertible

By Lisabet Sarai

Santa Monica and Ocean has to be the slowest damn light in LA County. My Mustang’s been in the right lane for, like, ten minutes, when her shiny red ‘67 ‘Vette roars up beside me. Can’t help but check her out, right?

Long gray hair snaps in the wind as she brakes. Over-sized shades hide her eyes. Her lipstick and her bikini exactly match her car. If she’s got wrinkles (seems she must, with that hair), I can’t see ‘em. Some seventies movie star, maybe? Gorgeous, anyway.

She flashes a naughty smile. My jeans are instantly tight. One pull behind her neck and her swimsuit tumbles, revealing an awesome set of tits. Not firm as Anna’s, but when she cups them, pinching the fat, coffee-colored tips, I almost come in my pants.

A hand disappears into her lap. Now she’s sucking her fingers. Holy crap! She points left, yells. I can’t hear over our engines but I get the gist.

Green light. She waves, then peels away south on Ocean Ave. I turn my pony north, cock aching as I speed along the beach. First chance I get, I hang a uey.

No way I’m letting this one get away.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Strangers on a Bus

The first story I had published, and actually got paid for, was a fictionalization of my one and only anonymous erotic encounter. I wrote it for the now-defunct British magazine, Scarlet. Back in the day, Scarlet had a section called Clitorature, which had an open call for submissions of very short, erotic fiction. Since then I’ve written a lot of anonymous erotic tales, and all of them, along with much of my other writing, were to some degree inspired by my encounter with a stranger on the bus. 

I was living in Croatia at the time, travelling from a small Croatian village near the Austrian boarder to Zagreb. This was ages ago back when Croatia was a part of Yugoslavia. I’d had a crazy weekend with some friends who owned a small vineyard and were very generous with the fermented fruits of their labor. There had been a birthday party, plenty of wine and not much sleep.

At the time, the Croatian buses were not the best in the world. I wrote a very filthy poem dedicated to my appreciation for the vibration of the seatsI had been on the bus perhaps thirty minutes when it happened. I was half dozing with my head against the window and half enjoying the good vibrations. Because of the way I was sitting and the way the seats were designed, it was easy for someone resting their head on the back of my seat to reach around between the window and the seat for a good grope. Strangely enough in my under slept, half dreamlike state, I had just been fantasizing about such a thing when, sure enough, I felt a hand snake around from behind. The movement was slow at first, as though someone sleeping against my seat back had simply rested their arm in that little space. But then the hand began to migrate. I didn’t move. I was certain whoever it was would realize they were now touching my person. When they did, surely they’d move their hand and sit back. They didn’t. The hand inched its way forward until there could no longer be any doubt the person it belonged to knew exactly what he was doing. Still I didn’t move. The bus was vibrating, I was somewhere in between sleep and wakefulness thinking this guy is about to grab my breast. And when he did. I let him. I pretended I was so asleep I didn’t notice. 

It was the first serious cold snap of Autumn, so I was in a warm sweater, way too bundled for skin against skin, but it was the act itself in its anonymity, its brazenness that was arousing, even as it was disturbing. It was a violation. I could have reached around so easily and broken fingers. I could have made a scene. I could have simply moved my arm to a position from which gropage wasn’t possible. I did none of those things. I sat there, head against the window, heart racing, letting the man behind me fondle and explore my breast. It was only when I realized just how close to coming I was that I pulled away, repositioned and moved so that I was out of reach. It sounds crazy now, but in my mind, crossing that bridge into orgasm would have somehow made me complicit, it would have met I had acted, rather than passively been acted upon.

At the next stop, the man behind me got off. I watched him exit the bus, and when he was standing on the sidewalk, he turned and met my gaze. He was a young man, maybe in his twenties, tall with dark hair – not a drunk, nor a geezer, not even a pervert in a trench coat. I don’t know what I expected, but he wasn’t it. I stared him down as the bus pulled away. I wanted him to know that I knew what he’d done and that I was angry. 

And I was angry. I was disturbed. I was confused. I felt guilty for allowing it to happen, and even more guilty for enjoying it. For a long time that guilt would sharpen just a smidge when I would fantasize about what might have happened, or when I found myself regretting that I hadn’t at least let the exploration go on until I had come. 

No other experience I’ve had has so profoundly affected me as an erotic writer. At the time I was religious enough to feel guilty that I enjoyed it. Later as I came to understand myself a little better, as I fictionalized that experience in a hundred different ways in a hundred different stories, I realized that the situation was as much about me choosing to allow the experience as it was about the transgressive behavior. 

The opening of my first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly, takes place when two strangers meet on a dark, malfunctioning train. The heroine of the story never sees her lover’s face until the end of the novel. The tale is a modern retelling of a very ancient anonymous encounter, the Psyche and Eros myth. 

In my novel, The Pet Shop, a human pet known only as Tino, is sent for a weekend to a young executive by her boss, a reward for a job well done. While pets are for sex and pleasure, they are never allowed to speak – a different kind of anonymity. The heroine is so taken by the pet that she becomes obsessed with learning who he really is.

For me, sometimes the anonymous fictional encounter takes the shape of a secret identity, sometimes it takes the shape of sex in the dark with a stranger, sometimes it takes the shape of a demon lover who is never visible, but always dangerous. Almost always it roughly follows the motif of identity concealed, transgressive behavior with all the resulting
emotions, identity revealed. In shorter fiction, of course, it’s often more like the reality of my experience, a brief encounter with a stranger one never actually meets. 

I’ve analyzed my experience and my feelings a million different ways a million different times. Make that a million and one. The act was transgressive, impersonal, a one-off. It was an intimate act happening in a public place between two strangers. While it wasn’t dangerous, it felt that way, which was a part of the excitement. And it certainly could have been very dangerous if the variables had been changed up just a bit. 

For me that one small experience and my reaction to it, during and after, even long after, contained a whole treasure trove of erotic inspiration and a raw, honest slice of my own inner workings that I might not have uncovered any other way. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Behind the Mask of Anonymity

By Tim Smith

“The difference between involvement and commitment is like an eggs and ham breakfast—the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed.”

That quote was credited to Anonymous. I don’t know who this Anonymous guy was, but he sure got around, judging from the number of quotes, stories and songs credited to him.  

The anonymous persona has been getting a workout lately, thanks to online social media such as Twitter. People like to get on there to rant and rave, but for some reason not many use their real name. They hide behind pseudonyms or cute tags, like EatMyShorts or NastyGirl69. You’ll find the same thing on most dating websites and chat boards.

Many people have finally figured out that potential employers, colleges and lending institutions use social media as a character reference. When I worked in civil service, I was very careful with my Facebook page. I didn’t “friend” anyone who was in a subordinate position. I didn’t use my real first name, the one that appeared in my personnel file. I used my middle name, the one by which my friends know me and which I publish under. And I listed my occupation as “writer/photographer,” working at “self-employed.” Nowhere on my page does it say which state agency I worked for. I set it up solely to promote my writing.

I took these extra measures because word came down that the good folks in Administrative Services were monitoring the online postings of state employees. Big Brother was compiling dossiers on the worker bees to see what they were up to. Did one of them post an unfavorable comment about the governor? Put a red checkmark next to their name. Did someone indicate sympathy for a radical organization? Better keep an eye on them. Did anyone endorse a candidate in the upcoming election? They are so screwed!

I think one of the reasons for this is the ongoing push for full disclosure from news organizations, especially those investigative teams that boast about “holding government accountable.” The Freedom of Information Act allows them access to the records of public employees. A few years ago, one such request resulted in a major metro newspaper publishing the name and salary of everyone employed by the state. Most of us looked at it to see how much our co-workers were being paid. The result was comments like “That slug is making how much more than me???”

There’s a site called Literotica.com, where semi-talented writers can post erotic fiction. Naturally, no one uses their real names. This anonymity allows their id to concoct outrageous fantasies on a variety of topics. I’ve read some of the posts and many of them weren’t half bad from a writing standpoint. Others, though, were so poorly written I hoped none of those folks pursued a publishing career. I made the same observation about some self-published erotica writers when I reviewed books online.

I have a good friend who has been writing erotic fiction for over 40 years. He began with “one-hand books” in the 1970’s and he’s still cranking them out, but in digital format now. He’s been hiding behind a pseudonym all this time, and the only time he used his real name was when he attempted a mainstream novel. It didn’t sell, so he went back to writing what I call porn with a plot. When I asked him about it, he explained “I write as this persona, and I sell books. I write as myself and nobody cares!”

There’s something to be said for anonymity.       

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Park Cruising

My heart is pitter-pattering and racing and doing all sorts of crazy in my chest. My nerves are getting the better of me and shutting my body functions down — like my need to piss. I’m in here to piss, I keep telling myself. I’m not in here for anything else. Certainly not for…

Fuck. I can’t lie to myself.

I’m here for ... for … for whatever it is that guys do when they cruise.

I’ve never touched a guy before, never even admitted to myself that I want to do so, even though I secretly watch gay porn when my roommate is asleep. Because straight guys can like gay porn too, right?

Damn it. I’m not even convincing myself.

I need to get out of my head, just let my body lead.

I’m here for … for what? What do I really want? I don’t even know. I’m just … here.

This dirty men’s room in the back of the park is supposed to be a hot cruising spot, or so the forums say on that website I found. But I’ve been here, standing at the trough urinal for something like five minutes and not a soul has come in. And I haven’t pissed a drop in all that time, despite my nervous bladder screaming at me that I need to let loose.

Suddenly, the door clatters and I jump and gasp. I look over my shoulder but then jerk my head back forward. I’m-I’m-I’m too nervous to take the lead, to let the guy know I’m into … into something. I don’t have the guts to send him a signal, whatever that signal might be.

Piss, I tell myself, piss. I gotta piss. I’m just standing here.

The other guy steps up to the trough, an arm’s reach away. He unzips and pulls out and oh my fucking god he’s huge. He grunts and starts pissing.

I can feel my cheeks burning with a hot blush. I focus on myself and my own cock. Piss. Piss. Fucking piss. Finally my bladder lets loose and I piss too. I let myself empty, let the remnants dribble, and give myself a shake — but before I pack it away and walk out, I cast a subtle glance toward the guy beside me.

He’s done pissing — and he’s stroking. Fuck, he’s cruising me.

How does this work?

He tilts his head and catches my eye. My cheeks are flaming hot as I look down again, down at my quickly-thickening cock in my hand. My heart is slamming against my ribs, threatening to break through. All I can hear is the blood rushing through my body. My vision even seems to narrow a bit.

Just do it. That’s my libido, my deep unacknowledged desires, speaking up, telling me what to do.

I’ve been driving through this park and past this washroom for weeks now, each time telling myself that today was the day that I would finally park the car, get out, go in, and let my cock hang out. Well, today is finally that day.

The guy is still stroking. Maybe because I haven’t left yet and my cock has long drained of piss so he knows that I’m here for more than just bladder relief.

I watch him out of the corners of my eyes, just enough that I can see his hand stroking his thick cock, but not enough that I accidentally make eye contact. I can’t look at his face right now.

Fuck, his cock is huge.

It’s not until several thundering heartbeats later that I realize that I’ve started stroking my cock too. He notices, then shuffles closer, closing the distance between us. My breathing gets shallower, my heart races faster, and my hand slowly drops from my cock — I’m so in over my head and unable to do anything more than watch.

Then he reaches across and takes my cock in his hand, stroking both of us in time. I groan softly and let my head fall back, closing my eyes. Fuck. It’s just a hand job — I’ve had girlfriends give them to me many times before — but it feels fucking amazing.

He keeps stroking me, not seeming to mind this over-exaggerated response I’m experiencing simply from having his hand on me. If anything, it seems to drive him forward. He grips my dick a little firmer and strokes a little quicker.

I open my eyes and stare down at my dick — I’m so hard and almost as big as him now, but it’s mesmerizing watching a thick, manly, hairy hand stroking my dick. A hand that’s not my own. A hand that belongs to another man. A man that’s going to make me come.

I look across to his dick. The head of it is dark and it looks like he’s about ready to blow. Somehow, this is turning him on as much as it’s turning me on.

He starts flicking his wrist as he strokes up my shaft, giving extra sensation to the hand job, bringing me ever closer to the edge. Suddenly, he shifts position, but I still can’t look at him to see what he’s doing — I’m not able to look at his face yet. He’s still stroking me, but he’s moving closer, he’s — fuuuuuck … he’s kissing my neck. His stubble is scratching against my skin, sending currents of electricity through me, currents that are shooting straight to my dick.

It’s too much. I can’t hold back anymore. I—

“Fuck…” I moan, the first word spoken between the two of us.

I look down at my cock as he pumps even faster and harder. A surge of overwhelming energy rushes through me and suddenly I’m shooting a thick load, casting a heavy white line against the metal trough, more of it shooting to the bottom. It somehow feels far more intense than any orgasm ever. He grunts and pivots his hips toward the trough urinal and soon his thick cum is plastering the metal trough alongside mine.

I stare at the two messy lines of cum. My chest is heaving, my breath coming in pants, and I feel lightheaded. But I also feel amazing. That was … amazing. I have no words for it all.

A moment later, I hear him zip up and head out, the door clattering behind him.

I don’t even know what he looks like. I don’t know if that even matters.

And now I want more.

I zip up and go to wash my hands, not quite ready to leave this place. As I’m drying them, the door clatters and a different man comes in. He gives me a look that’s far too long and lingering to be a passing glance, then steps up to the trough and unzips.

I watch him for a moment and he looks over his shoulder at me, turning his body slightly so that I can see his cock in his hand. His eyes flick from my head to toe and back again, then he turns back to the trough.

My heart is still pounding heart, thrashing against my ribs — but the immense nervousness has abated.

I act on impulse.

Instead of leaving, I step up to the trough.

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay smut. His most recent publication is the (surprisingly smut-free) gay YA romance, Gay Love And Other Fairy Tales, under his YA pen name, Dylan James.