Monthly Archives: August 2013

Nautilus (For EW&R)

It was like nothing he’d ever seen before. A curving … something, making its way through the water. Well, all right, it wasn’t water, he supposed, since the chemical formula wasn’t even close to H2O. Still, it was the liquid stuff that passed for ocean, and it was surprisingly blue, just like home, so it was water in his head.

Geez, he had to think ‘head’. As if it weren’t bad enough being out here sans what the suits called “companionship”, now he’s making it worse for himself? Damn! ‘Making it’. Christ, what he wouldn’t give to be making it right now. It wouldn’t even much matter who.

Or what. That curvy thing swimming along was sort of donut-shaped. Looked about the right size, too. Who’s to know? He’d do it, then collect it and head topside.
Without further thought, he swam toward the thing. Damn, it was pretty, his favorite color blue, and the little finny-feathery things around that just-right hole looked soft and welcoming. Good thing, since the almost-pleasant ache in his groin had turned the corner into definitely-painful. He reached down to adjust himself and decided to just go ahead and lose the trunks. Might as well be ready, since he was pretty close now.

Much better, the warm … water … caressing him, making promises that curvy thing was gonna keep. Crap, it saw him! No sneaking up on this specimen. He’d get it anyway. He was fast in the … water. That’s why he was here, for god’s sake, because he was fast in the water. He’d be fast and catch it, then slow, slow doing it and fast again collecting it and getting back topside.

Damn. Uncoiling? Shite, there goes the hole. Turning toward him now. Well, hell-oh. This could be even better. The thing’s an effing tube! And he was going to eff the hell out of it. If he could catch it. Coming closer now, maybe it was curious. Hey, that works. Draw it within reach and there ya go. He’d let it … well, if he were home and it were canine, he’d say he’d let it sniff him. Whatever this thing did, he’d let it, get it to relax so he didn’t have to work so hard for it.

Oho, maybe he wouldn’t have to chase after all. The curveball (hey, it’s as good a name as any until the nerds see it and call it some dumb Latin thing or another) — it seemed interested in that particular part of him. All he’d have to do is a bit of guiding and a clamp and hold once it was where he wanted it.

My god, not even that! It slipped right over him, slow and easy, tight and hot, rippling in waves along his length. Damn. Hot holy damn, it was like a million very well-trained mouths all on him at once. And it liked it, too. It was changing color along with the waves, going from cobalt through the spectrum to lavender and back. He reached down to caress it. He wouldn’t collect this; he’d have it as his FWB instead. God, so soft! Almost to his belly now, just a bit more and he’d be all in. There must be finny feathery things on the inside, too, the deeper in he went, because something was ticking the very tip of him and oh holy shit, it was good!

Christ, another second and he’d blow. So damned good! There, now, oh god, now! Yes, Curveball, milk it, get it all, every drop. Damn, Curveball went solid green, shimmying and shivering along with him. Did it come, too? Jesus, the guys back home would be lining up to pull a rotation out here once they found out. Best he’d ever had.

A thought. Coming from Curveball? Telepathy? The science boys talked about it, figured it was how everything around this place communicated, so yeah. Curveball was telling him something.

Thank you, is that the term to express pleasure and gratitude?

He couldn’t imagine trying to talk under … water … so he thought back to it. Yes, that’s right, and thank you. That was astounding. Very pleasurable, I mean.

I’m very glad to hear that. We like our conjoined to be happy.

Conjoin— wait, that means attached, one body. Oh, no effing way, dude, no —

It’s rather too late for no.

He reached down and pulled at Curveball, tried to yank it off. Hot needles raked his johnson as Curveball moved a tiny fraction.

I wouldn’t, if I were you. My spines can inject a toxin. You wouldn’t like that.

Oh god, he had to get topside, get the thing removed!

What kills me, kills you. I have collected you; you are mine. Come, Rover, time to go home.

Why Tables Are Flat, In Answer to A Challenge by Diane Nelson

There’s been much made of the necessity for flat tables lately, especially by the younger set well before they have much sense. It’s simple really.
Tables are flat chiefly because that makes it simpler to continue to find one’s adult beverage of choice from a supine position on the floor, in the midst of a spinning room. Angled — implying both an ‘up’ and a ‘down’ if the angle is in either the pitch or roll plane — would greatly increase the risk of said beverage becoming a libation to the floor gods rather than a means of increasing the imbiber’s pleasure while lessening thirst. Curved, with the anchor point toward the ceiling, would have the same effect. Curved, with the anchor point toward the floor would make groping necessary, and while groping in the grips of multiple adult beverages is a fine sport, my preference is to grope something that has at least a chance of groping back. Undulating would increase the famous and aforementioned ‘spinning room’ sensation. Moving induces vomiting, even for the strong of stomach and solid of inner ear. Uneven is simply due to lack of skill on the part of the table’s constructor and needs not be addressed.

There are many other reasons for flat tables, such as providing a horizontal surface upon which to lose things. A partial list of possible things to lose is included for your delectation:
One’s keys
One’s purse or wallet
One’s tax refund check
One’s jury summons
One’s winning lottery ticket
One’s virginity

While it is readily apparent that only losing the last item is a worthy life goal, that goal may still be accomplished after one has lost the other items and many more.

In addition, flat tables are much more useful than the other options as cat perches, since cat claws have been known to create unwanted incised artwork on wooden surfaces, and as for metal, it the sworn blood enemy of cat claws and the two should be kept far away from each other. (Cat paws and metal surfaces, on the other hand, make fine friends and companions; it is simply the claws which must not come into contact with the metal.)

There is some debate over the usefulness of a non-flat table as a platform for dancing, though that debate is far from the heated discourse of several years ago prior to the discovery that stripper poles do not work well when engaged with any of the non-flat choices (the question of whether or not it is a choice or a lifestyle is beyond the scope of this work). This holds especially true for the undulating and moving varieties. The well-known ‘dance on curved surface’ maneuver is difficult and should be attempted only by experts well-versed in adult beverage imbibing, and certainly not before the consumption of the tenth or perhaps twelfth beverage of the evening.

All this, of course, brings us to the question of whether or not there is truly any such thing as ‘flat’. That argument follows the same lines as the ‘no such thing as a straight line’ and ‘there are no true right angles’ postulates of some years back. Since the issue has never been successfully resolved, there appears not to be much point in continuing this subtopic, unless of course, one is a college sophomore with finals approaching, in which case any topic which prevents that vile practice known as ‘studying’ is to be lauded, up to and including the proper distance of the dot above the letter ‘i’.

With hopes this has proven to be a help to some who might still be struggling with this controversial issue, I conclude. [word count: 611]


“Step right up, folks, step right up. For only one thin ….”

The barker droned on, his patter oozing under the tent just there, near the peg by the entrance. Not for the first time — and she was sure it wouldn’t be for the last — he wished the barker would swallow his tongue with as much skill as he swallowed her ….

Wait. What was he today? Was he the bald and bulky stripper/naughty girl or the hunky contortionist with braids who gave new meaning to the phrase “taking care of himself”? She looked down to check costuming. It was the quickest way to tell standing there on display. Ah, the corset with tassels. So he was a she today. She really needed to keep track of the shifts better.

If the pattern were more stable it would be easier, but the universe’s sense of humor was well-documented — the platypus and underwater volcanoes being prime examples — so she’d stopped expecting anything different. She hadn’t stopped complaining about it, however, and her superiors were beginning to get a bit annoyed.

Which explained the current run in a freaking sideshow. She laughed softly at her own joke and then mentally braced as the first clump of marks were admitted. She posed and turned and posed again until Clive signaled her that was all of them. Her music started and she began the slow bump and grind that got the men — and a few women — to fork over the gelt, assuming they’d get a bit more than a strip down to a g-string.

If Danron wasn’t on the boards today. He thought it was funny to finagle the shift at awkward times. Like now, damn it, just as her music started. She could see the aura, the jags and jigs of peak-and-valley light blossoming at the corner of her eye. Damn. Stop it, Danron, I’m on stage!

Silva, it’s not Danron. It’s Milo and I’m not doing anything. Something happening?

I’m shifting, Milo, on stage. Can you stop it?

Sh— I’ll work on it, doll. Hang in there.

Oh, god, Milo, it’s too late. I can feel the lady bits changing and I can’t see much. Get me out of this!

Go with it, Silva, just go with it. I can’t pull you in front of even a small crowd. As soon as you exit, I’ll bring you in so we can run the diagnostics.

I can’t, Milo. This is a strip show, remember? That g-string’s not covering what they expect it to be covering, and what it is covering, isn’t covered well. You have to get me out somehow, or they’ll beat me to death. Some of them are already giving themselves a rub under their coats.

More than the risk of a beating, with her rapidly lessening field of vision, she could easily fall off the stage, so she stood a good chance of breaking her ankle before things got to the big reveal.

She grinned for a moment, as the image came to her of what the EMTs would say about picking up a woman and delivering a man to the ER. Of course, Milo wouldn’t let that happen. They’d make her into an urban legend before they’d let a doctor exam her. A vanishing patient, yanked from the back of an ambulance to add to all the vanishing hitchhiker tales they’d been the genesis of. But X-rays hitting some of the implants would turn the hospital into a field of molten glass.

And wouldn’t do her any good either.

Damn! Milo! She stumbled, his suddenly size 12 feet spilling out of size 7 stilettos. He had time to wonder whether a pratfall or a faceplant would be better and then —

“What the hell is going on, Milo?” Silva demanded.

“Cool your jets, dude. Dude?”


“It’s not just you. Looks like system-wide breakdown.”

“Oh my god. What are we going to do?”

“Bugging out. It’s either that or pull back the curtain and let this little ball of nothing see the little green men they’re so scared of.”

“Damn! I liked this place. The food wasn’t bad, and the sex has been good.”

“Better than you and me?”

“Oh, hell, no. When’s your shift over?”

“Who knows with bugging out? You’d better report for duty. I’ve got twelve more to pull in.”

Silva nodded and turned to leave.

“Oh, and sweetie ….”

Silva looked back over his shoulder.

“Wear that for me?”

Silva leered at him. “Oh-ho, getting a little kinky, are you?”

“A little kink never hurt.”

They finished in unison, “Unless we want it to.”

Dancer in Red

They think it just happens, that perfect line, the grace, the leap. Or maybe they realize we’ve had lessons, rehearsed a bit before performances. They’ve no idea.

“Lessons” doesn’t mean a weekly class for an hour or so. It means every day, every damned day, four hours minimum, more if you want to be good. And that’s just the lessons. That doesn’t count the time spent rubbing the cramped calves and pushing the hip joint back in place, wrapping the bleeding feet cause you’d better not mark up the studio floor with blood.

Terpsichore? She’s a fucking cannibal. She eats you alive and doesn’t even have the grace to spit out the bones. At the end of the day, when all you can think about is home, a tub of hot water, Aleve, maybe a little glass of wine, she vomits you out on the homeless guy you’ve been trying to avoid seeing for weeks, sitting there, hunched against the wall.
But suddenly, there you are, at the end of a weary day at the end of a weary week, doing the last thing you wanted — making eye contact with some guy wearing everything he owns cause he’s got no place to keep things except on his back, or set on the concrete in his little world held there within his armspan.

He winces away. WTF? He’s snubbing me? That’s brick wall time, at least for a second or two.

“You hurt so much.” That merits a longer pause, another meeting of the eyes.

How does he know? I’m not limping. I look decent, checked the mirror before I left the studio.

While I’m still deciding about asking, he blurts it out. “I can feel it, the way you hurt. It hurts me, too.”

Oh boy. Weird Willie and his traveling band of Woo-Woos. Just what I need. Thanks, Terpsichore.

I almost move on.

“I could make it stop.”

“Oh, yeah? If I give you twenty for coffee and a burger, you’ll magic up some pain relief? Or are you holding out for the big prize, a little dancer nookie in the alley?”

“Please, miss, don’t throw that anger, that hardness of your soul at me. That hurts, too, you know. I wouldn’t take your money if you offered it to me. As for the other, I’m gay, miss. You’re beautiful, but my ass is decked out in rainbows.”

I feel my eyebrow reach for the fire escape and almost make it. But then … it’s in his jade green eyes. I don’t know what it is, what to call it, but it’s there, a spark of … something. I stare, trying to figure it out, and then look away from his sky blue eyes. Wait. His eyes are green. They were a moment ago. Weren’t they?

I look again. They’re brown now. A flashmob of goosebumps swarms over me and I’m trembling. “How — what the hell? Who are you? What are you?” I demand of the black-eyed man.

And then he smiles and I know. “Oh my god,” I whisper as my knees give way and I join him on the sidewalk.

He nods. “Yes, that’s right.”

A big dude steps up and goes all white knight on his ass. “Leave the lady alone,” he snarls and reaches a hand to help me up.

“No, no, it’s all right,” I murmur. “I know this man. I was just surprised to see him here.”

“Your chivalry is apparent. I thank you. But please don’t hurl that anger at me.”

The big dude gasps. He’s seen it too, the eye color shift. They’re back to blue now. “Oh, god,” he blurts and backs away.

“Hey, wait,” I call, but my companion lays a hand on my arm and shakes his head. “They have to be ready, Audrey. He’s not. You are.”

Even though I shouldn’t be surprised he knows my name, considering, still the creep factor starts.

He smiles again and everything else just … fades away. It’s him; it’s me; and that’s all, just freaking all. I can’t see anything else, can’t hear anything else except what he’s whispering to me, in some language I shouldn’t know but understand perfectly. I can’t even tell if we’re moving, though I have the feeling that we’ve gone Dorothying away and aren’t in Kansas — or NYC — anymore.

When he’s through speaking, the world snaps back. All at once, no fading in, just wham, in my face. The smells — exhaust and rotting trash and a million billion armpits and yesterday’s farts hanging around just because and warring perfumes and aftershaves and a snarled yarn tangle of ethnic cooking aromas — the smells hit first and hardest. I gag. When did the City start stinking like this?

And then the sounds. My god, the horns honking and shouts of “taxi” and whistles and cat calls and “fuck you” and squealing brakes and a thousand musics rocketing from car and boom box and throat! My hands press over my ears.

But the sights, oh, god, the sights. The butt-ugly sidewalk detritus and concrete and stone and asphalt and painted lines and way too much taxi-yellow and awnings and dear god in heaven the people, scurrying like roaches from one stolen crumb to the next, eyes down, wrapping themselves in ‘don’t see me, because then you’ll expect something from me’.

I sob and weep. I can’t stand this. “I can’t. Take me somewhere else. I can’t do this anymore.”

“It’s all right, Audrey. I’ll help you.”

I open my eyes again just as the dancer in red stands up and smiles before she walks away.