Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just Like Pandora's Blues

She stood at the bottom of the stairs looking up. With a sigh, she made up her mind, stomped up the stairs and stood at his door. Opening her purse, she took it out and held it in her hand. She hammered on the door with her fist. "Henry! Open up! It's me."

She stood waiting, listening. She could feel him through the door.

"Hello? Sir? My name is June? Would you like to study the Bible together and hear the good news about the glorious coming of Jehovah’s Kingdom?"

Henry opened the door. He looked like an unmade bed. His mouth opened to speak and then saw what she had in her hand.

His lips mouthed - oh wow. "You did?"

"Yeah. You asked me."

"I didn’t think you would."

"Me either. So are you going to let me in or what?"

Henry was standing in one sock and some hastily pulled on blue jeans. His hair, uncombed hung in his face which on a rock star would have seemed sexy. He stepped aside and waved her in. He walked away leaving the door open and she closed it behind.

June was taller than Henry, which made sex in the shower easier to manage, but caused her to usually wear flat soled shoes when they were together in public. She had thin arms and an athletic body that seemed to be mostly a short torso with long legs. She was wearing her short cut offs to show off her legs and a black t shirt to show off her breasts. As she came in and stepped on the immaculately clean carpet she kicked off her flip flops and went barefoot, a habit she had learned from living with a Japanese room mate.

"Hey," he said, "I gotta know, was that one just now?"

"No. But it would work.”

He gave her a doggy look. “Can I see?”

"Down boy, you’ll get your chance. “But wait –there’s more!”

"No, c’mon, let me see." He held out his hand.

"Got any beer?"

"No," he said. "I haven’t gone shopping. Just the grown up stuff. Half a pint of jack."

"Jack’ll do fine," she said and slipped into the bench beside the little kitchen nook table. She put her hands in her lap and waited.

"So why can’t I see?" said Henry.

"I've changed the rules a little."

"You and your rules." He took down a couple of clean jelly jar glasses and a half full flask of Jack Daniels.

"Wait and see," she said. "I've made it interesting."

He poured out the bottle dividing it between the two jelly glasses. “It was already interesting.”

“Interesting for you maybe.”

He put the glasses on the table. Her jelly glass had a cartoon of a Winnie the Pooh bear, his glass had a ring of generic red flowers. She took a sip of whisky and coughed.

Henry held out his hand. "My birthday present. Don’t make me whine."

“I need to explain.”

“Ah JuuOOOO-nnn –“

“Don’t do that again. You’ll make me bite you.” She lifted her handsand held it up next her face. It was a small, thin leather bound journal, with gold leafed pages and tiny leather stitches down the spine. The front cover was decorated with an embossed enamel picture of a shy woman with a fan. "Five sexual fantasies," she said. "These are the real fantasies I use to get myself off. That was the birthday gift I promised."

"I'm in there right?"

Her eyebrows went up. "You know, it’s not considered polite to ask."

"What do you mean?" he said, his voice rising a little. "Like I'm not?"

"Oh!" she said, brightly. "That reminds me. As Darth Vader says 'I've changed the bargain, pray I do not change it further.' Now look." She reached into her purse and took out another notebook. This one was a plain student spiral notebook, about eight inches tall and thick. The pages on the edge were greasy and hand worn. The cover was bent and dog eared. There were paper clips and several yellow Post-It notes sticking up from the top. Among the yellow Post-Its were three bright pink ones.

Henry felt his skin crawl at the sight of it without quite knowing why. "... so that’s . . ? What . . . ?"

"This is my journal," she said. "What I mean is, this is my real journal, the one I actually write in that I swore I wouldn’t show anybody. See the Post-Its?"


"Everyone of those is me writing about you. I'm telling the truth of how I really feel about you, talking to myself. Would you like to read it?"

His eyes became a little wide. "Yeah, I think I would. What are the pink ones for?"

"Oh! The pink ones. Oh dear. Well, now those. Let’s see. Do you remember the first time you went down on me? The back seat of Akiko’s Volkswagen bug in the parking lot of Cabrerra’s right after that big lobster ravioli feed? And I said you made me come twice?"


"That's this one," she touched the first pink post it. “This is what it was really like. Now this one," she touched the second pink Post It, "This is the first time we did it on a bed and you had the Anne Hooper Kama Sutra book with color pictures and we did pages 23 through 25?"

He nodded and she could see a drop of drool on the corner of his mouth. "You wrote that all down? Jesus. I don’t know if I like that."

"Not the positions," she said. "My feelings. What I really felt, my emotional state the whole time we were doing it. My gut feelings. The truth. And this last pink Post It?"


"This is me going down on you in the YMCA locker room."

"That?" He couldn’t stop himself from pointing.

She flicked the third post it. "Oh yeah. Wild times. Don’t look so glum, nobody said it was bad."

He held out his hand. "That's amazing, double thanks."

"No." She slid the books out of his reach and held them up beside her face in each hand cheek to cheek. She flapped them up and down. "In this hand - " she waved her right hand, "The fantasy me. These are real fantasies. These fantasies make me come. Two of them we could actually do, right here, right now. This is the fun little fantasy flopsy-mopsy me." She waved the battered notebook in her left hand. "This," she said, "this is the real me. Which one do you want? You only get one." She put them on the table but kept her hands over them. "You understand of course that if any sentence in either book shows up on your Facebook page I will come over with a pair of my Uncle Tony’s calf gelding shears and make certain your seed will never find its way into the human gene pool."

"Of course," he said. "that goes without saying." He looked at the two books.

"Fantasy me or real me?"

"I suppose the correct answer is real you . .."

"It doesn’t have to be. The third fantasy in this book we could do together right now on this table, in fact I’m feeling in the mood right now to just haul off and do it for real. But only if you choose it. If you don’t, then nothing. Look.” She took something from her purse and put it on the table.

Henry stared at it. "Holy fuck, are you kidding?"


“Is that in the . . .” He pointed at the little book.


"Oh, baby."

"Wouldn’t you like to learn how to use one of those?"

“Is it legal?”

“Not in some Bible Belt states, no.”

He swallowed. "What’s it like?"

She leaned in and whispered, "I've passed out its so good. It works.”

"Jesus." He ran his hands over it. I didn’t know you had it in you."

"Not yet I don’t. That would be your job.”

He touched it again. “Maybe you oughta go.”

She frowned. “You’re freaking out on me aren’t you?”

He took his hand away and grabbed his drink. She saw his hand was shaking. “Hell, what am I supposed to do? You come in here one morning, you think you know someone, and then she tears her t shirt open and you see the suit and she yells ‘Fuck you I’m Cat Woman!’ or some bullshit thing, I’m not supposed to freak out? Maybe you oughta take your little books and go while I flush my head down the toilet.”

She pushed it across the table to him. “It’s okay to like the fantasy me. Tell you the truth, I like the fantasy me way better than the real me.”

“I never said I only want the fantasy you.”


“Jesus, wouldn’t you?”

She shrugged. “Tell you truth I like the fantasy me too. She’s more fun.” She patted the spiral notebook. “This is the one everybody runs away from. Me too. I don’t know what to do with her.”

His eyes went back to the spiral note book. "That says what you really think of me?"

"Bare naked soul nobody knows. Girl Scouts’ honor."

He looked at the notebook. He looked at the journal. He looked at the notebook. He looked at the journal. After a long time he held out his hand. She put his choice in his hand.

He searched her eyes for the answer, to see if he had chosen wisely. She was only looking at him soberly and the afternoon was dragging on. The air in the kitchen seemed to be turning blue.

He took a sip of his drink, opened the cover and began to read. He felt her eyes on him. He looked up and she was silently weeping.


  1. Oh, what a wonderful little story. Brilliant. You never cease to make me envious of your skill as a writer. Wonderful! Thanks for posting, Garce

  2. Wow! What a choice she made him make! Most men would choose the fantasy woman when they are young, the real woman when they get older. Desmond Morris says men are hard-wired to prefer the slender youthful look of a just-blooming woman when they are young themselves, and some men never progress beyond that point.

    But he says that as men mature themselves, they prefer the more zoftig, rounded curves of the hips they have been so happily consummating with for years. Phew! Otherwise how could any of us hope to interest our husbands once the baby weight attaches itself to us as proof of our fertility?

    This was, as usual, a well-written short story. I wish I had your way with terse yet powerful words, where you never waste anything, but say so much. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Darn it, Garce!

    I knew you'd do something like that - the Lady or the Tiger.

    Great story. What I want to know is whether you had this in mind when you wrote the first paragraph!

  4. Hi RG!

    Thanks for reading my stuff. When I was rewriting it, I thought of you a few times, because the idea of giving him a tough choice of fantasy or reality, a woman kind of backing him into a tough corner, reminded me of the kind of story you're so good at writing. It was kind of your style.


  5. Hi Fiona!

    I think you may be right about young men slender, older men zaftig, at least that's my experience. I find women my own age still the most appealing to observe or fantasize about.

    When it comes to fantasy or reality I think our experience of relationship is that its a combination of both. You never really know a person. You make impressions of them early on and you adapt your impressions as time goes by. But there will always be a part of the person you'll never know at all unless they reveal it.


  6. Fiona - one more thing

    I like to try on different writing styles in order to improve myself, to try to learn some range to fit what I'm writing. This prose style tends towards the terse. Usually male writers are associated with that terse punchy style Hemingway got started. Some writers like Charles Bukowski carry it to an extreme. My favorite women writers like Anais Nin and Angela Carter write in a much more elaborate and verbal style walking the edge of poetry. Women romance writers often write this way and its part of the appeal of that genre. The prose style last week was more feminine because I wanted to get the feeling of a fairy tale, or story telling. This one is more Bukowski-ish, its practicing to write the other way, trying to fit the verbal style to the subject.


  7. Hi Lisabet!

    Not when I wrote the first paragrpah no, I had no idea at all, but I'm startled you caught the Lady and the Tiger connection. That was my working title when I was still scribbling it out on a notebook - Lady Or the Tiger. You're reading my mind again! Must be that Thai food.

    What must it be like to make love to someone while they're reading your mind? There's a story idea.


  8. Garce, this looks like a great continuation of your earlier Henry & June story. I love the tension.

  9. Hi Jean! Well, teh names are the same. I wonder if they are the same people? I'll have to think about that. Maybe that's an idea.



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