Saturday, May 3, 2008

Head West, Young Starlet Chapter Two

Chapter Two

A Star is Spanked

Rachel expected making it in Hollywood would be difficult. She had not expected it to be impossible. She knew Californians would be rude. She didn’t know they’d be hateful.

First three auditions, the soft men wouldn’t even let her in to audition after she stood in line for hours. Fourth, getting inside the auditorium, the man in the beret glanced at her and sent her away with a flick of his female school teacher snow white hand. She thought about kicking his ass for the rudeness, but this was the city, and such things weren’t allowed.

A lot of things that made sense weren’t allowed in the city, but the twenty-third audition involved a fat man unzipping himself and telling Rachel to put her resume on the table and her face in the zipper, or her resume in the trash can. She expected something like this, eventually, but assumed the cheap lecher would attempt seduction. Not be so vulgar about it. She turned around and left, not even thinking about kicking his ass because she’d never seen such a sorry man. He looked like a car abandoned in a swamp. He punished himself by not working.

Next audition proved just as hopeless, but not sordid, so she stole her audition notes.

Face: Angelic cute, not grasping.

Body: Strong, lean, not thin. Only good for military roles. Mark on finger.

Personality: Good emotion, not personally expressive. Problematic off set.

Voice: Poorly hidden southern accent. Strong, hard to work with.

Talents: [blank]

Rachel read the summation of her being again and again. How the Hell could one of God’s angel’s not grasp a mortal’s attention? Does working for a living make a thin body lean? Who the Hell cares about the actress off set? Is a “strong” voice an asset or deficit? Talents…

Rachel sat in line for an extra spot on a soap. She sat next to two women who were probably working on a life dream because they looked to die of cancer they were so thin.

‘This is a pretty tough business, huh?’

‘Please!’ The skeleton to her left exploded. ‘It’s the fucking carbs that do it.’

‘It’s the carbs.’ The dying twenty-year-old to Rachel’s left agreed. ‘This nation is sick with fat.’

‘Carbs? You mean… um… carbohydrates?’



‘But,’ Rachel was so happy to talk to somebody. ‘You mean carbon chains were all the carbons are saturated with molecular bonds?’

Her new friends looked at her, than looked away. Rachel, not sure she made herself clear, continued.

‘Because I think we need them to stay alive.’

The chemo patient on the left, experienced and kind hearted, put forth the effort to educate the rube. ‘Carbs are bread and pasta. Stay away from them; they make you fat. You don’t want to get fatter, do you?’

Fatter? ‘But the body needs energy—‘

'Then get fat, then. I don’t care. There are always roles for "fat best friend".’

The last straw was not getting the job at Applebees, after not getting the role of waitress working on tips at the diner on the corner, or anyplace that wanted a girl to move plates of food. Hopeless, she tried for a farm job, but they didn’t hire people with a social security number. Self disciplined abstinence from carbs grew less and less an issue of discipline.

‘I see this all the time,’ Ran said, her talent agent. ‘So… what’s your situation? As for as staying power goes?’

‘My money’s running out.’ She’d made a horrible mistake. Momma was right, but at least she made it without developing a drug addiction or getting murdered. ‘I have enough to go home.’ Rachel fiddled the tooth mark on her thumb. ‘Sorry I didn’t work out for you.’

‘Rachel… hmmm.’ He was an oily man, but Rachel trusted him as far as it goes. He seemed kind. ‘There is a non-Hollywood film industry that I think you may do well in.’

‘I’m not doing pornography. Jesus wouldn't like it, and neither would I.’

‘Well—‘ Ran held out his hands, all democratic. ‘There is pornography, then there is pornography. Then there is fetish.’

Terence Fellow’s house was very nice, if inhuman, which fit into the concept of “nice” in Los Angeles. It sat on a hill where buses didn’t go, and seemed to be three parts window for each part wall. Rachel was afraid to touch anything, reminding her of Cameron’s parents’ house. Tina, Mr. Fellow’s assistant, was very nice. And low on carbs, but somehow managed to be polite. Hmmmm… being skinny and bleached blonde did not preclude manners. No accent, so Rachel figured Tina came from the Midwest.

‘Rachel? Why, look at you… Face of a an angel! Stand up, let me look at you.’ Terrence Fellow was a little man, a sun worshiper, and very fit. Rachel stood up and turned around nice and slow to give him a look at her tight jeans and T-shirt. While he looked her over, she looked over his living room. There were metal planks jutting forth from the walls and ceilings (looked to be for cameras), a picture of Fellow in an afro and his teammates on a seventies Olympic Team (no medals), three beautiful cats perched high enough to look down on the mere mortals, lots of weird art that looked expensive, and then finally Fellow. He looked to have a lot of energy.

They shook hands, and sat.

‘Now, Ran told you about our little niche in the internet market, right? Good. Perfect. I mean you is what I mean. Perfect. Any questions?’

‘This isn’t pornography, is it? Cuz… because I’m not… you know.’

‘No! No, it’s just spanking.’

‘Ha!’ Tina brought in a tray of Ice Tea. ‘And paddling, and caning, and-‘

‘Don’t scare the girl, Tina! Rachel, can I call you Rachel? Rachel, we let the models go at their own pace. Tina,’ Tina handed Rachel a folder. Fellow raised his glass to sip. ‘Now, that-‘

‘Sorry, sir, before you drink, can I-‘

‘Terrence, please. Or Terry, or whatever. Save the “sir” for on camera.’

‘Terrence, um, could we switch glasses?’

Terrence and Tina squinted at the Texan. ‘Why? Is… hach.. cha, cha’ and Terrence lost himself to humor. He recovered after a few snorts. ‘Sure, here.’ Rachel took his and handed over hers and waited. Amused beyond measure, Terrence lifted his glass and toasted, “To Caution!” and downed the entire glass. Rachel figured there were dozens of ways to defeat her little test, but at some point you have to trust people. She sipped tea. It had some weird Asian leaves in it, but it wasn’t bad. It was cold and wet, and that was enough.

Rachel held in her hand a folder containing a matrix of pay grades. Find the tool of correction, match to the number of licks, then adjust for level of clothing worn. The math ended in a U.S. Dollar amount, weak as it was.

‘Now, Rachel, we always start models off with a good old fashioned hand spanking, usually on the bare. Now, bare has many definitions. Tina, great tea.’

‘Thank you for the tea, it’s lovely.’ To Rachel, thanking was an instinct, and her instinct took over as her conscious mind studied the grid of pain and money before her.

‘Yes, Tina, really excellent. I’m glad those Asian Home-Econ classes I send you to are paying off.’

Rachel’s finger went from the heavy strap, to the number sixty, and adjusted for “Thong/Bathing Suit/Hiked Panties” and gasped.

‘Now, I know it sounds pretty scary. That’s why we start off with a nice, simple spanking, maybe two minutes, just to see where we stand. What do you think?’

‘Ahhhhhh…’ HOLY SHIT IS WHERE I STAND!!! she thought. If Rachel had only video recorded all her whippings from her mother, she could start her own studio and hire Steven Spielberg. Kids in Texas were getting the shaft! No wonder everyone in L.A. could afford Prada. With a combination of all their casual sin and the lucrative nature of spanking, how the heck did the State go bankrupt? They didn’t tax spanking money?

‘Ahhhh (cough), um, Mr. Fell – Terrence, how many, um, spankings can we film today?’ Terrence explained to Rachel that, sadly, due to work safety laws, they could only film her rent, utilities, two months worth of city bus fare, a week eating decent food, her library fees, and a reasonable savings of spanking that day.

If, that is, she could take it.


Rachel exited the dressing room (which was just a normal bathroom three times larger than Rachel’s apartment) fully clothed except now she wore one of the wardrobe’s pink thongs under her jeans instead of her cottons. She figured a thong wasn’t really naked, not really, not considering what she’s seen on the beaches around here.

This was the City, to told herself over and over – and not the City of Dallas, either.

Tina took Rachel by the hand and led her back to the living room, all smiles and encouragements. It helped a little.

‘Rachel, our cameraman, Glen; Glen, our new model, Rachel.’ The two nodded to each other, but were each far too preoccupied for a proper greeting: Glen on his camera; Rachel on the kaleidoscope of butterflies in her empty stomach. She looked around, hoping for something comforting but not shaming to focus on, like a calendar with a picture of a kitten hanging from a limb. No crosses looking down on her, which reminded her.

‘Um, Tina,’ Rachel’s voice was very small. Tina, proving herself more and more a genuinely nice person, pressed her ear close so the men couldn’t hear. Probably an unnecessary precaution, as Glen was frustrated with the light, and Terrence talked on three cell phones to fix a scheduling snafu, but girls like their secrets. Rachel took off her plain string necklace with a wooden cross on it she kept hidden under her shirt, afraid roving bands of atheists would see her and burn her at the stake, or pummel her with copies of On the Origin of Species drive-by style. ‘Could you hold this for me? I’d… I don’t think… I’d just rather not wear it during—‘

‘Shush.’ Tina’s eyes oozed understanding. ‘I’ll take good care of it, don’t worry. Really, I know it’s weird and scary at first, but before you know it, it’ll be a day at the beach.’

‘You mean, like, getting tanned?’

Tina burst into laughing. ‘You,’ She pointed at Rachel. ‘You.’ And walked off.

Before she knew it, she stood at the right of Terrence, who didn’t stand at all, but sat in a heavy wooden chair with no armrests.

‘OK, you know what you got coming. Get over.’ Rachel froze. TAKE DOWN MY PANTS? Just do it. Just-no-yes but – what the Heck I can’t (Slap!). Terrence gave her hip a whack of his open palm, which is just what her momma used to do when Rachel hesitated. After that it was simple training.

And she was over, her might-as-well-be-totally-bare ass in the cool air, her eyes staring right at a camera only feet from her face, her mind on the other camera right on her ass.

‘You earned this, brat!’

‘Yes, sir.’ Rachel tried to sound guilty. She had no idea how well she pulled it off. She squinted her face, bracing herself for her first ever professional spanking.

Smack. Smack. Smack….

Must be a warm-up.

Smack. Smack. Smack….

What is this?

Smack. Smack. Smack….

Are you kidding me? You have got to be kidding me. I’m from Texas, you wuss, not Kansas. Let me have it!

‘Alright, get in the corner.’

“And Scene,” she thought.

‘How was that, Rachel?’ Terrence asked as she pulled her jeans up. ‘Now, you didn’t give me the safe word, so I went the full three minutes.’ Pffff. Rachel wished her mother believed in this “safe word” nonsense.



‘Great shot. Ahhh… this kid is a bit tougher than we’re used to I think. She looked, well, confused. Then amused. Then, well, the words are bored and agitated. But the camera loved it. Her face is perfect. I think the members are really going to enjoy this stuff.’ Glen went back to his camera. Rachel studied him for the first time. He reminded her of home. He was in really good shape, but not that male model crafted fake fit from the gym. Not bulky like a movie star. Glen was fit because he used his body for a job. He had a nice soft tan, his hair was short, and he looked like he bathed and didn’t burn the Flag on weekends.

Rachel noticed Terrence studying her while she studied Glen.

‘Rachel, is this true?’

‘Well, Terrence, it’s not like the spanking didn’t hurt, but come on. I mean, I’m not three years old.’

Terrence smiled. Money. Money!! Life Affirming Money!!!!!!!

Bent over the chair this time, a wide leather paddle reddening her bare cheeks, Rachel showed a tad more emotion.


Her eyes widened the above mentioned tad as her butt screamed in pain. In a calm, even voice, Rachel screamed, ‘Twenty, sir! Thank you, sir! Sir, I promise I wont try to sneak out again, please!’ Then they played out the rest of the scene: lecture, promise, threat of escalation for next time, promise, stand in corner.


‘Interesting facial emotion. Haven’t seen it before. The members can tell that it hurts.’


‘All I can say is I love the acting. She sounds like a contrite little girl.’ Rachel beamed. Ha! She knew she could act.


‘Fine.’ Terrence noticed she didn’t even rub herself. ‘What’s next?’


Rachel had never had the pleasure of a full length wooden paddle whacking. Grabbing her knees, swaying forward and stressing her leg muscles to return to position in less than a second, she was thankful for the following: that her mother didn’t own a huge wooden paddle; that Terrence insisted on models wearing jeans when first introduced to the paddle; and finally, that she didn’t have any lines for this skit.

Still, five licks and not a peep out of the creature.

Then they played out the rest of the scene: lecture, promise, threat of escalation for next time, promise, stand in corner.

Glen, Tina, and Terrence stared at her. She did a lot of things. She adjusted her jeans. She looked self-conscious. She tried to smile. She bit her lip. She said, ‘Was that OK?’ But she didn’t rub.

Terrence, being a great director, knew how to handle this.

‘Lunch break.’


Terrence always catered. A veteran model, Fiona, Terrence, and Tina sat around the kitchen table littered with sandwich materials, and discussed the website and a new series they were planning involving a young wife and a marriage contract that involved – oh Jeeze take a guess.

Not feeling “in” enough for such shop talk, Rachel made four carb heavy sandwiches with three types of meat and poultry and everything else one could imagine went between two slices of thick, fresh baked bread, put them on two plates, and retreated to the living room. She sat on the brick fireplace and handed Glen his plate.


‘You’re welcome.’

Glen worked on the cameras, taking a bite from time to time, using a napkin to hold the sandwich to keep his hands clean. Rachel watched him, but looked away when needed so she didn’t seem nosey.

The fifth time Glen sighed. ‘Come here.’ Rachel popped off the fireplace and fell to her knees before the mysterious machines. ‘Here, see? That’s the speed.’

They believed in two-hour lunches on the West Coast. Probably a compromise with the Mexicans' siesta. Rachel would need to learn to eat slower as she was used to eating her lunch in fifteen minutes while sitting horseback. She learned a lot about cameras, though. Glen talked in a firm, direct manner, asked questions and was quick to correct. He wasn’t mean, he was just, well, strict. Rachel thought it might be rude to ask where he was from, so she didn’t.

Fiona was a tall, strong girl with long black hair and powerful features. She towered over Rachel as she fingered that wicked looking strap.

‘I told you what I’d do if you “borrowed” my stuff without permission again, didn’t I?’

‘Yeah, but—‘

‘Yeah but what?’

‘You’d strap me.’

‘Yeah,’ Fiona said, nodding and looking pissed. ‘Now get your pants down. Over the couch and hold on, because you’re in for a sound strapping young lady.’

Now Rachel really did feel at home. She lowered her jeans with the same drudging enthusiasm as in the barn and bent over. Her butt was red, so Fiona said, ‘I can’t believe I have to spank you again already!’

More in the moment than planned, Rachel looked back at Fiona, her eyes asking for mercy. Finding none, she looked straight again, and clutched a pillow for comfort.


It was a formidable strap, worse than Rachel’s momma’s, but Fiona didn’t put nearly as much muscle into it. For the first time that day, Rachel’s eyes misted a bit, and her body shook from the shock of each lick by the shock alone. The sting dispersed through her body. Rachel let the pain expand and explore, taking the total load off her nether cheeks. It hurt for a split second, then Rachel blinked, and she was fine. Truth be told, Rachel’s mother hadn’t gone so easy on her behind since she was fifteen. It was almost nostalgic.

No safe word was uttered. So sixty, and Rachel was rich.

Then they played out the rest of the scene: lecture, promise, threat of escalation for next time, promise, stand in corner.


Terrence counted out her payment. Rachel was back in her own underwear, grateful for the little protection it gave her butt from her jeans. Rachel could take these West Coast spankings fine, but they built up, and a sore ass hates jeans. Still, she didn’t rub.

Rachel put what was to her a small fortune into her purse.

‘Rachel,’ Terrence leaned in, looking paternal. ‘Is there something you want to talk about?’

‘Well, we said next Wednesday, right?’

‘No, I mean,’ Terrence looked around the room. Fiona had left for her nursing class after taking the hairbrush for forty whacks from Terrence as “punishment for smoking.” She mewled and yelped like a kid, but Rachel didn’t say anything. Her sister Beatrice also made a lot of noise when in Dutch, and Beatrice was a hard as Georgian pine. Glen and Tina packed up the cameras. Terence continued. ‘I mean, do you want to tell me something about your home? Your family?’

‘Like what?’

‘Well, you know. There are a number of excellent centers in the city. I could give you a few cards and recommendations. You wouldn’t be the first girl who came here who… needed help.’

‘Like, for banking? Cuz I have a checking account and a mutual fund I use.’

‘No. No… were you… escaping, anything?’

Rachel didn’t have the first damn clue what this guy was talking about. She took a stab.

‘I’m… I’m not wanted by the law, if that’s what you mean.’ Rachel looked at Glen and Tina for a hint. Glen polished a lens with the special cloth he showed her, and Tina meticulously put small pieces of the camera kit in Styrofoam. They made a good job of not looking at her.

No. No, I mean, were your parents, um, abusive?’

It crept in, slow but sure: This son-of-a-bitch just insulted family.


‘Ok, Ok.’

‘No! How dare you – my momma loved me from the second she saw me, and raised me and tended to every single step I ever took! I could make one phone call and bam. She’d knock this whole pinko state into the ocean if you hurt one hair on my head, you Blue State beach bum! She'd raise an army of Rangers and they'd raise Hell then shove it down your tea drinking throat!’ Fury being piqued, Rachel more than a little slipped into her accent.

‘Ok, ok.’ Terence waived his hands defensively before him, but his hands may as well have been wet napkins in front of a cannon.

‘You think we’re some kind of Texas Chainsaw Massacring incest bred hicks just waiting for the South to rise again? Like some Saturday Night Live sketch making fun of people who don’t kiss European ass? My family has suffered every damn pain God could think up and bashed the shit out of it! And all on our own—no help from nothing. My great-grandfather built and funded one of the oldest schools in the State. It’s named after him!’ Fury a little abated, Rachel turned a little as a sign of abatement. ‘Even taught Latin I’m told by momma.’ She managed to piss herself off with that, and used her finger to force her words. ‘And my momma doesn’t lie!’

Terence had backed up a few steps, not sure what to do with the badger jabbing her finger into his chest. Jesus that hurt.

Glen popped Rachel one on her ass. She jumped straight up in the air from the shock while Terence reached for his cell phone, hoping the ambulance got there before Glen bled on his white carpet.

Rachel landed and turned, ready to just start killing, just in time for Glen to grab her shoulders. He was firm, very strong, but he didn’t shake or bruise her. He just used his hands to frame her. He looked her right in the eyes.

‘Rachel, I promise you, Terence didn’t mean that. It wasn’t even in his mind. You have to understand, troubled girls often come here, and Terence doesn’t want to take advantage of them. He's a good meaning guy. Really, it’s just that you are so stoic during a spanking that he thought maybe you were too used to pain. Mistreated, and maybe you could use some help, but we can all see now that your family are good people. OK? Just a misunderstanding. That’s all.’

“Hmmmm…” Rachel thought. Why isn’t everything red anymore?

Oh… shit.


‘Mr. Fellow, Mr. Fellow I’m so sorry!’ She broke from Glen and stood submissively before the still nervous man. ‘It’s just that you don’t say, you don’t even imply anything like that back home unless you want a fight and I guess – I’m. So. Sorry. Please, please let me come back and work for you. I promise, I really really promise that—‘

‘Shush. Shhhhhhhhh!’ Terence tossed the phone behind his back (Tina caught it) and looked in awe at the badger. ‘Yes. YES! That’s the passion I want to see in you, Rachel! The anger, the life!’ Terence had to spend the next half hour assuring the girl that she ABSOLUTELY HAD TO COME BACK NEXT WEDNESDAY, and for the love of God, call him Terence. Or Terry.

‘And I love the accent. Remind me to work that in sometime. Now get on home. It’s getting dark. Drive safe. Remember, seat-belts save lives. Tina! Come.’

Rachel knew Californians were crazy, but not batshit crazy.

‘Rachel,’ Rachel, at the door, spun to see Glen sitting back on the brick fireplace, breathing on a lens then wiping it down. ‘I didn’t see your car outside.’

Glen gave her a lift, only saving her about four hours walking and waiting on the bus. The seat was leather, and warmed her burning ass, but she refused to fidget her bottom as that would be rude. He was being nice, after all. They didn’t talk until it was time for her to get out.

‘Thank you.’

‘My pleasure. I’ll pick you up next week for the shoot.’

‘Um, thank you so very much, but I meant, when just now when I thanked you, you know, for talking me down. I sort of lost it there.’ Ha ha, she fake giggled. For an actress she wasn’t very good at it.

‘It’s nice to see someone care about family like that. I’ll see you next week.’ He drove off in his SUV. He didn't speak exactly like her, but he did anyway. And he didn’t even try to take advantage of her. He was smart and kind and he was a safe driver. And he cared about family. And he was tall. Rachel’s fingers went to her chest on their own, her fingertips dancing on her pulsating heart. Wait… were was her necklace?

‘Oh…. DAMN IT!’

Head West, Young Starlet Chapter One

Head West, Young Starlet

Chapter One

New Star, Same Sore Ass

Georgina Ruston had only once, in her life, been more than fifty miles from the barn she was born in. The barn, even more than her antebellum estate, or the fields she worked, stood as the manifestation of her life.

Early in the morning, early in summer, and only days after Rachel Ruston’s 18th birthday, the barn(indeed, all of Gray Estate), reverberated from the common noise of thick leather meeting tender flesh.

Punishments, on a farm, are rarely kept secret.

The field hands and house workers, just stirring from coffee, began another day of labor. They marched to the rhythmic, jarring strokes like a war drum they hardly heard anymore. Rachel was the baby of the estate, beloved by all, and sweet and shy and tender despite regular lashings from her mother. People can get used to almost anything.

The merits of the hidings were debated. While all agreed all teenagers need a firm hand, and while all agreed Miss Georgina always had a reason to take Rachel in hand, Rachel’s quiet nature and the clockwork regularity of her trips to the barn forced many denizens of Gray Estate to conclude that, dog gone it, Miss Georgina just didn’t like Rachel, her youngest.

‘Hell of a way to wake up.’ Old Ned said, delivering the second and third bucket of milk; these for butter.

Tamara, the fat cook, took the buckets. ‘Girl gets whipped so often, I don’t think she’d know what to do with a white ass.’ Tamara, whose own ample bottom was pitch black, often broke down demographics among color of ass: white, black, sunburned, yellow). She didn’t mean anything by it; it was just convenient.

Old Ned fiddled with a cigarette. He’d quit, after the war, but everyone knew Old Ned didn’t like to pry, so he would nervously fiddle with the last pack of smokes the army give him instead of prying or walking off.

Beatrice, the oldest and likely heir, walked by Old Ned on her way to the mill, which was her interim fiefdom, like Wales for the English. She saw the smokes and decided it would be prudent to fix a cup of Joe to go.

‘Today, Rachel got caught w/ rap music.’

‘Rap music?’ Old Ned asked, turning the phrase around in his head, certain he’d heard it sometime ago. ‘On her… dingus?’


‘We should throw that third MP away.’ Old Ned was too old to work like he wanted, so he tried to be wise to earn his keep. ‘Save the farm thousands on leather oil and work hours.’

‘She don’t want a licking,’ Beatrice pontificated. ‘She’d act right.’

Tamara, ever in the background, cooking or cleaning, said to herself in large enough voice to hear, ‘Rachel’s just a sweetheart.’

‘Then she ought to act right more often then, she’s such a sweetheart.’ Beatrice snapped. ‘I tell her! A few of those teeth shaking cracks exited the barn before Beatrice put down her coffee. ‘Hell with it.’ And she left for the mill, her fiefdom.


The Gray Estate barn was, perhaps, the cleanest wooden barn in Texas. No stray hay on the ground, tools in order, and the family strap, a monster from the cruel old days, always freshly oiled.

By the side door, which was now open, jutted a shelf five feet from the ground, with a hook at the side. Rachel knew this shelf better than any other object on the planet. Better than her bed, better even than her hands.

Warn, dark blue jeans puddle at her feet, body bent obliquely(not tall enough to bend all the way over though the shelf was set low), she put her weight on her elbows on the shelf, her hands together in a fist. She bit her thumb for a spanking. Always the same thumb, and always on the same spot resulting in a permanent mark.

Every four seconds, as clockwork, thick leather struck her tender bottom. She shook, bit her thumb, but otherwise kept her place, only tensing her serious and downcast face for the length of the impact before falling back into flat affect. Her eyes were closed, her veiled eyeballs looking down and evincing self-pity.

Georgina often boasted that her youngest’s backside was made for the family strap, just like her own was when she had been a willful girl back in the day. Rachel’s backside was small in width and length, so that the strap could and did touch every inch of the target; yet her cheeks jutted out, like the spanking shelf she leaned on, jutted out to the delight of any man seeing Rachel in jeans, but sadly for Rachel that just meant plenty of meat to tenderize.

And, perhaps more importantly, Rachel was a fast healer. Like her mother. Beatrice and Emily and Regina would take a week at least to fully heal from a whipping, when the rare occasion saw fit for one of Rachel’s sisters to be whipped. Rachel’s sitter would be smooth and soft white in only three days after the most agonizing punishments. She was teased unmerciful after the X-Men movie came out, every youngerd calling her “Wolverine.”

“Brats,” she called them, but smiled and slashed at them with make-believe claws.

This superior healing factor was a mixed blessing, like most blessings, as ever since the end of Christmas last, and the beginning of her last semester of high school, Rachel had been whipped every three days—but always for a good reason.

This despite Georgina’s thinking that each spanking should be an event to be remembered for life. Georgina didn’t believe in counting the strokes, but thought, rather, that a mother’s intuition knew when a hide had finished tanning. Old Ned, who was the kind that counted everything without trying, knew that Rachel rarely bent for less than sixty licks. One-hundred licks was unusual. On this day, Old Ned counted to one-hundred and thirty when one of Tamara’s little ones ran careless and bumped his war knee, so even his unconscious had to stop counting to help him keep from scalding the little monster with his coffee. He managed to catch the spilt coffee with his withered old hand, then lost himself in the memory of bullets and confusion, and his lost friend, too inside his own mind to measure the outside world.

But even Rachel’s whippings can’t last forever. There’s always too much work on a farm that ought be got to, especially in the morning light.

When six seconds went by without that terrible shock and burn, that lash Rachel could never inure to, no matter how many exposures, when that six seconds went by she knew one more whipping was over without making more than a few whimpers, here and there. She’d won again. Hurray.

She stood up, too exhausted to shake, and pulled her jeans up, itself a punishment. She had access to looser jeans, but she had her vanity, even if subtle . She turned to her mother, her head down and eyes on her feet, and murmured ‘Thank you, mamma’ in her quite little voice. Her face, hidden by her long, thick hair like her mother’s when she was 18, was the picture of self-pity.

‘You want to sing about something, sing about God or Love or something good and country like that. Or your mother that loves you, not shooting police or streetwalkers, understand?’

Georgina menaced her daughter with the strap that had known four generations of Ruston ass; a sign that Georgina would be happy for an excuse.

‘Yes, ma’am.’ Rachel answered, though the rap music she had been caught with wasn’t about either cop-killing or prostitution. She knew where such an argument would lead her buns.

‘Good. Now. We both have chores to do.’

The Gray Estate barn was, perhaps, the cleanest wooden barn in Texas. Rachel, alone now, instead of rubbing her jeans, oiled her mother’s spanking strap, swept the floor, cleaned and ordered the tools like the top hand liked them, checked for cobwebs and wasp nests, then sprayed Lysol on everything.

She felt stiff and weak right after a lashing, and preferred private shelter for a spell before facing the wide plain. She squeezed her jeans and made all the motions of a deep, anguished moan without the noise. She scrunched her eyes and bit her lip, and kept rubbing until the pain became manageable. Her joints continued to burn. Ten minutes of clenching every muscle in her body, not to mention tensing those already stretched muscles upon impact every few seconds, would take the spry out of anybody. It made her body hard and lovely, fit for a magazine cover, but she never did get used to the exercise regime.

Old Ned, looking over the porch, saw Rachel exit the barn by the side door, rubbing her jeans and feeling sorry for herself. In his experience, girls tried to hide their rubbing after a spanking, for the pride you see, but Rachel’s spankings were so frequent, and so noisy, she must consider such vanity ludicrous.

Rachel, the picture of self-pity, got on her horse, stretching her neck around in another silent moan, and got about her chores. She had a way with horses. All animals, really, but especially horses.

Georgina, having given a dozen orders to a dozen people, entered the kitchen.

‘Well! You can…’ Georgina rarely was at a loss of words. Old Ned and Tamara looked at each other on the sly. ‘Just forget about any help from the brat this summer. She’s… she has decided to go to Los Angeles to be in the pictures.’

‘Ah.’ Old Ned muttered, not wanting to give Georgiana a punching bag by commenting one way or another.

‘She’s been talking about it a while, and I've been wising her, but she told me for sure, with schedules, last night. The ungrateful fool. I told her, “no you are not, because I’m not giving you the money, and without money, in this world thats so damn modern, you can’t go anywhere. So you just get set for state college in the Fall and decide on a study you like.” Then she tells me she’s saved all her money from her weekends working at the Ceniplex for three years, and I said “This world is cruel and eats a cotton-headed little fool of a girl like you alive every five minutes,” and she said “I hope not,” and I said, “It’s going to and…" I’m going to balance the books.’

In her room, at her desk, looking over closed books, Georgina burst into tears and wept like she may die.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Typos: I has them

How the Hell do I get the powers that be to let me correct my typos?


An Hour In Common: Chapter Two

Chapter Two

Oh Our Damn Principles

Amy cranked up her radio and sang along to the 1812 Overture. ‘Ba--- bapa bapa ba pa bah..’

She checked her naked ass in the mirror. Four days after her silly, embarrassing encounter with corporal punishment and her cheeks were white again. Her Asian Alternative Medicine woman was right about that cream even though she was a bit snerky at Amy’s story about getting hit in the ass by a bull in Spain. Oh, she didn’t say anything, but that Dr. Wong smiled the way people smile when they know another person got spanked. Gloating schadenfreude.

No purple, red, or even pink. The cheeks looked a little cute pink, but Amy guessed that she just liked pink. But she couldn’t ignore her hair. It was fuller than it had ever been in high school. Her skin shined flawless. She felt like a fucking princess in a story. She got in her shower, enjoying every damn second of every damn moment.

‘Baaaaaa baaa baaaa ba ba bapa bapa bapa bap bap bap…’

After a huge breakfast of carbs and butter and cream and jam and everything she shouldn’t eat in cartload amounts and dressing to show off her chest and thin in comparison waist and ample white ass in a dark gray Egyptian cotton suit that screamed POWER!!!! she skipped to her car and drove to work, not catching every green light, but not even noticing the reds.

‘Baa baaa baaa baaaaaaaa’

She was too happy to listen to NPR’s morning report, which would just try to depress her, so instead she gave a super cute fireman a hundred dollars. He stood about a billion feet tall, with chiseled black as coal muscles, with a fireman’s boot upside down asking for donations from people trapped by the red light. He looked a lot like Captain America, if Captain America were black, but why couldn’t Captain America be black? This was America!!

‘Thank you very much, miss!’ His smile was as wide as Amy’s, but Amy didn’t feel at all self-conscious at being reminded that her mouth was too big.

‘Hey, I get my ass caught in a fire, I want you to pick me up and drag me out. You.’ The light turned green, and Amy had the need: the need for speed.


‘Hey, rescuing pretty young girls is our product!’ The fireman yelled, and caught a glimpse of the wealthy young lady laughing gaily as she tooled down the road in her speedster, reminding him of his wife when they were young and carefree, and also of his daughter and everything splendid about being alive. Then he got back to collecting money for the Station, smiling from ear to ear.

Amy was so freaking happy that even the laborers tearing up the street in front of the McClane One Building saw a skip in their step.

Entering the great hall of M1, set to be renovated so it looked better than M4 in Tokyo, which was awesome Amy knew from her three business trips, Amy saw the sobriquet Mr. Hillbreaker and Mr. Finch at a waiting corner of couches and limitless fresh roasted coffee. Hillbreaker wore Armani. He looked fantastic. For some reason Mr. Finch wore a suit Amy couldn’t place. It looked… cheep. Off the rack. Why was he slumming? Amy smacked her head. The labor dispute was today! Mr. Finch slummed it to interact with the proles who were very sensitive about such egalitarian things. He was probably their rep for the negotiations… that sly dog.

‘That man can spank.’ Amy beamed, laughing at her foolish girlish self.

‘Miss Border?’ The door man was an elderly fellow, but could hear a dove landing on a marshmallow all the way back home in Alabama. Amy, shocked, looked at the man who held the door open for her every morning.

‘That wall could use a tank. Of fish, Frank. You know, like the Japanese. A long tank of exotic fish. They say watching fish is good for the nerves and cures cancer.’ Amy looked Frank square in the eyes. ‘I read that in Forbes. How are the grand kids?’

‘Very good, Miss.’ Frank smiled with perfect understanding, and humiliation should have been the word of the day, but Amy couldn’t care less. This was a freaking awesome day, like the last three days, like every day!

Amy skulked the two spankers. The waiting area was on the corner adjoining the elevators. Amy pretended to push the button, then sat bored on a chair at the corner in a perfect position to listen without being seen. Trace, the secretary, clickclacked her way from the entrance towards the elevators. She’d probably push the elevator button, the bitch. Amy loved hating the little cute blonde.

‘So, I mean, you haven’t seen her before?’ That was Mr. Finch.

‘So, I mean, will she go back? Be… will she go back?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Well… the other one. The older one. Is she—‘

‘Man, that girl is hot.’

‘Who, that blonde?’

‘No, idiot. The older one. Oh, but yeah. That blonde is hot toooooo trot.’

‘Yeah. But about the younger one. With brown hair. Is she a member, or whatever? Is she ever going to be there again?’

Amy chewed on the marble corner. It was just too delicious.

‘Amy, how are you!’ Tracy Gould was a perfect little blonde centerfold, but Amy hated her even more now as she pushed the button for the elevator and continued to pretend to have human emotions. ‘You look so pretty today!’ All Amy heard was “You don’t normally look pretty!”


Amy had a glorious morning of work, then a glorious Chinese lunch, then she walked the halls of power to her office when she came across Mr. Finch in an empty office. He looked very, very strong. Not bulky, but solid. Amy leaned on the open door’s frame and watched him measure the window with his tape. She liked a man that measured his territory. He looked very, very strong. She knew he had a Hell of a swing with a paddle, but she didn’t know how good he was at pulling hair and biting. There was, sadly, only one way to find out.

‘Moving in?’

So cute! He jumped and dropped his measuring tape. He looked bashful, then recognized Amy, and took a few steps towards her, trying and failing to keep cool. Amy kept her position, feeling powerful, and smiled at him. She thought about bending over for him to get spanked and how funny that thought was when the reality was she had all the power in the whole damn world. Hell, she had so much of the power that it seemed only fair to take a spanking from him. From time to time. To keep things interesting.


‘Amy. My name is Amy Border. You working here now, Mr….?’

‘Bill Teller. Yes, for the a little while at least.’ He lacked guile, so stunning was the Amy before him. She reveled. Heather had snatched up this powerhouse of capitalism, and now Amy was going to break him into domestic obedience. She thought about the spanking, and how the memory of that humiliation would fuel her sexual power play. Poor bastard didn’t have a chance. But a tycoon like him must have good health insurance.

‘I’m in too good a mood for this.’ Amy smoked pot once in the Netherlands. That euphoria was nothing to how she felt now. ‘I’m going to give you all the power. Do you want to take me out to Italian tonight, or French? After the movie I’m picking.’ She smiled her big mouth smile, and didn’t even care.

‘Um… Italian?’

‘Good boy. Here’s my card. Pick me up at seven-thirty.’

Ahhhh… he was bashful AGAIN. ‘Ah, well, the thing is I don’t—‘

‘Teller, you got those—excuse me, Miss Border.’ It was Childe, the building super. A mean little man of dubious morality and stained overalls, probably stained with the blood of the people he kept in his cellar. ‘Er, Teller, you got the measurements?’

‘Yes, Mr. Childe,’ Bill pulled a note pad out of his pocket. ‘But I need to make two more—‘

‘So you don’t have the measurements, do ya? Why are you in that suit?’

‘I’m going to the circumcision of a friend’s kid in an hour. On my lunch break.’ He wasn’t submissive. Not at all. He acted very straight, but subordinate.

‘Errrrr….’ Childe growled and glowered. ‘How very touching. Get the measurements to me so I can do my job, freelance! Miss Border.’ Childe nodded, then scurried off to go kill some butterflies or something.

‘The thing is, Amy, I don’t own a car at the moment.’

‘You,’ Amy pointed. ‘Are maintenance?’

‘No, I’m a subcontractor for the renovation. Carpentry.’

‘Oh. Your firm owns an architectural business…’ And your chauffer has SARS, right?

‘Er, no. I just started up a…a.., well it’s not a firm, really. Teller Carpentry. I’m not actually incorporated yet, with the State, but I’m working on that. You, I mean your firm, McClane Corp., subcontracted me to help Trant Designs to redesign some of the offices.’

And he’s wearing that suit, probably his best suit, because his Jewish friend’s kid is getting the snip. That suit he wore when he paddled Amy’s ass was the Club’s, just like her own hippy disguise was when she took the paddle. Oh, well Hell then! Idiot.

‘You know, Bill is it?, I have to work late tonight then, you know, take care of my neighbor’s dog. She’s in Seville. My neighbor, not the dog, which needs someone to, you know, look after. The dog, not my neighbor, who is in Spain.’ Really, none of that was a lie, except the part about her taking care of the dog because the neighbor took the dog with her for a dog show in Spain, so Bill’s reaction was totally unjust.

He looked down and aside, then halfway back at her, and smiled. ‘I understand.’ And he seemed to. Then he measured things. Amy would have preferred if he acted a little bit mean. Insufferable apathy. He was clearly hurt! What lower middle class man wouldn’t be? Get angry, carpenter!

Childe stuck his head in. ‘I don’t hear no measuring! Miss Border,’ The little troll nodded, and left. Amy followed. She had important work to do on convincing the Malaysian government to lax it’s restrictions on foreign junk food imports; specifically McClane Goodies’ new line: Snacktastics.


Amy’s gym hour was five to seven, PM. She often went back to work after, but she never missed her torture. Rank has it’s privileges, of course, so in fact she was at the gym from four to seven, but the first hour didn’t count on the sheets because Heather was an exercise nut. “Blood flow is good for the brain: the brain is good for the company.” Amy spent the first hour with the weights and aerobics and stretching or any combination of the equipment available, but she always ran the track from six to seven, PM.

Damn carpenter ruined her day. Amy, unlike most people, had goals. She couldn’t waste time dating some common worker that wears a cheep suit to his friend’s kid’s circumcision. Maybe an artist, sure, as long as he’s Pomo. Or a baseball player. A carpenter? Cocktail parties were the real engines of advancement. That’s were people climbed the ladder. What could Bill, cute as he was, do at a cocktail party full of the best and brightest?

Refresh drinks, that’s what.

Amy was not a snob, Amy told herself. It’s not about snobbery. She didn’t think her vote was more important than his. She didn’t think her life was more important than his in the larger scheme of things. She sped up her running machine, and explained to herself, in plain, simple reason, that she was not a bad person. It’s just that people want different things, and they want what they want, and it simply wouldn’t work. Best to just end it before it starts before anybody—Amy tripped and almost bashed her face into the churning rubber of the tread mill. She skinned a knee and both her palms. She jumped off.

Her legs (she’d forgotten she had legs) seared. Her tailor made shorts and sports bra, both black, were soaked in sweat. Her face dripped salty water. She felt like shit in the ocean. She realized how much skin her outfit showed, and felt a billion judging eyes on each inch of exposed flesh. She turned to the water fountain to see, because God hates snobs, Bill drinking from it. Then he returned to his weights and spotted for Mr. Hillbreaker but instead spotted Amy, and looked away as fast as lightning to help his older friend who struggled under way too heavy weights.

Amy looked on. ‘Damn it.’

Amy felt like absolute naked shit in an ocean, but there was nothing she could do about it because she was doing the right thing. She’d worked too hard to throw away her potential just to make a common Joe feel good about himself. Damnit.

God damn it.

This had to stop. The day had started so super awesome, and Amy, as a feminist, knew she had to do something to fix all reality. To take charge; to make change. Why the hell did she wear workout clothes that showed off 80% of her body?

The bulletin board frustrated things. Amy stood before it, in her tight little running shorts that showed off her bottom, which she was so proud of that morning because it healed so fast, and her bra and the gallon of sweat on her and her hair, and stamped her feet.

‘French maid… French maid… school girl… too light!’


Amy turned on the man in his fifties, balding, but taller than her by at least two inches. And built.

‘Miss, perhaps you would like a cup of coffee.’

‘You’re in on it, right? Forgive me, I’m new, but I’m a platinum member. You’re in on the, you know, game?’

‘Not a game. It’s a humanistic method. But yes, but also I think you should take a minute to calm down.’ He talked like a fucking shrink.

‘Buddy, don’t tell me what I should do. I need… damn it. Are you game?’

‘Yes, but—‘

‘No buts about it! Yes or no! Are you game or not?’

‘Yes.’ He shrugged in infinite patience.

‘What do you like to use? I don’t want any drawn acting. I want it hard, painful, and I want to beg for you to stop, and I want you to ignore me and just spank the shit out of me, because, buddy, I’ve been a horrible little slag of a bitch today. I want to get beaten with something that bruises every inch if my ass to the bone. What do you use for that?’

‘That would be the hairbrush.’

Amy grabbed her face then the man’s shoulders. ‘Perfect! Yes, of course. The hairbrush. Use the hairbrush on me. I want to be bruised after, understand?’

‘I do, but I think it would be better for you to take a minute in the lounge. Just a minute.’

Amy ground her teeth. ‘Don’t tell me what I need. Now take me to the room or whatever, and spank me till I beg you to stop, then start spanking me, understand?’

He sighed. ‘Yes.’

‘Good, because YEOUCH!!’ For an old man he had iron fingers, and those fingers twisted Amy’s ear, forcing her to bend over and march in step. ‘Jesus Christ, stop!’ It was difficult walking at half height, but Amy stumbled along. They turned a corner. Amy caught a glimpse of a few people passing and made their day, but she couldn’t focus. ‘Motherfucking asshole!’

‘That will cost you extra.’

A door slammed. Amy found herself in the middle of a library. It was all wood and filled with books and a big mahogany desk. It was beautiful. Old world. Very British.

‘Oh, I want this.’ Amy said, rubbing her ear while snapping out of her fury to look around in envy. ‘Do you know the designer? Woah, wait, that hairbrush is way too big. Go back to the desk and get a smaller—oof!’

The carpet was beautiful! Normally Amy didn’t go for gray, but it was so austere and fluffy that it made her a believer. Her fingers curled in the stuff, her nose bobbing against it smelling the history of gliding English hills for Churchill to immortalize. Thinking about how to get a hold of the manufacturer reminded Amy that she was an adult that absolutely didn’t need a spanking.

‘Wait wait wait…’

‘You asked for it, and you’re going to get it.’ Some shrink! Amy floundered and bucked until the man (she didn’t even know the man’s name) pulled her tight little black shorts down. She gasped. She was bare ass under the eyes of a strange old man. Her whole body turned into energy. Her toes curled, her eyes went blank. She was set for a spanking, and her brain was splendidly free of thought.


Amy refused to scream. She bit her lip, looked forward, and took her spankings with dignity until spank twenty, when she screamed, “STOP! ENOUGH! I LIED!” but the fucking shrink ignored her. He brought that hairbrush down onto Amy’s perfectly spankable ass, then above his head before bringing it down again in less than a second. He didn’t stop or let up, but went cheek too cheek while Amy wailed, the pain building.

She cried and thought about how brave she was at first and cried harder.

‘I changed my mind!’ She heard herself say, but it came out more like ‘I… oh…ohangedohohoh -- OOOHHHHHHHHHH’

She stopped trying to get away. She gave up, and each smack was that much more painful. The pain built up so that she couldn’t feel the individual spanks, but only sensed a constant searing along with a regular CRACKING noise. She grabbed the legs of the chair she hung over, clenched her teeth, and stopped crying. She growled, her face stretched in agony and anger, but her eyes dried up for several minutes of bare bottomed misery, longer than she thought possible, until she thought about what a bitch she really was. Then she bawled.

The shrink patted her back until Amy caught her breath.

‘Ohhh…. I… goth.. gotche…. I’m, I’m, I’m soooooo sorrrryy…’

‘I know, baby.’

‘I, I, I, oh God, I don’t want to be… who I am. I mean I don’t mean to be who… ohhhhhhh.’

‘Baby, nobody does. Focus on actions, not identity.’

Amy cried again, and the Shrink waited out the tears, patting her lower back even though her tush and thighs were ever so available. A patient man can always outlast a woman’s tears, Amy thought as she finished up weeping. Is that what a man was? Is that what she should be looking for? A patient man?

‘Now, girl, you have to be punished for cursing.’ Amy moaned, but what she didn’t do was consider that she had a choice. She readjusted herself over the man’s knee. ‘I think ten good licks, where your bottom meets your thigh, should do it. Please ask for each spank, count it, thank me, then ask for the next. Understand?’

Amy gathered her mind together, her body no longer made of painful energy. Ten licks sounded horrible, but what choice did she have? She had to speak, or suffer further.

‘Yes, sir.’ What was the deal about the bottom meeting the thigh? ‘Si—sir? Can I have spank, please?’



‘Ah’ Amy breathed in. ‘AHHEEEEEEEEEEE.’ That was the absolutely worst place to spank! ‘Sir! Sir! Don’t… I mean, One! Sir! May I have another spank someplace else, sir, please!’



‘GAAAHHHHHH…. Ahhhhhh…. Ohhhhhh….’


Amy fell limp over the man’s knee. She murmured and sniffled. She thought about asking for another spank, but she might as well have day dreamed about flapping her arms to the moon. She was done. She mumbled for mercy, but the Shrink must not speak Mumble, because he spanked her twenty times on that crease between the butt and the thigh. Amy was too weak to move, but she could still scream.

The ordeal over and her shorts in place, she stood a broken wench of a girl, shamelessly rubbing her bottom before a man she’d only just met, while said man lectured her on the need to be patient with oneself, and not self-torture because of intrusive thoughts, whatever the Hell that means.

‘Any questions?’

‘Yes,’ Amy sniffed, still rubbing with abandon, like the harlot she felt like. ‘Are you a psychiatrist?’

‘Yes, but my slots are full for three years. I can refer you to an excellent man. Went to The Harvard with him…’ A little bit of insolence returned to Amy’s heart, but she kept it out of her face.


Amy bounced into the emergency meeting. Amy’s boss was in a panic, her favorite on American Idle had been kicked off last night, her ass was blue and purple from the therapy session with the shrink’s hairbrush the day before, Dr. Wong was on vacation while Amy was out of magical Asian butt-soothing cream, Trace brought her decaf that morning, and the sky was falling – but for the love of all the saints and friars, LOOK AT HER fucking HAIR. Got any thicker some game hunter will shoot her for a lion and mount her over the family fireplace, and Amy knew she would look awesome up there.

To sit was agony. But agony was only sensation, right? And didn’t sensation just mean you were alive? OH LIFE! OH LOVE!

‘In four hours, people,’ Heather said, pacing before the brain trust of McLane Corp., which consisted of Amy, Trevor, El Anji, Steff, Komo, and Ted, eying each other for fat prey. ‘we will have lost the cell-phone account.’

The room grew so cold Amy feared her eyeballs would freeze and role out of her head. Doom. The keystone to the Billboards and Promenade Project swept away. Millions lost. This was worse than New Coke in the Advertising Days of Myth and Legends, where so many heroes fell.

‘Smelling blood, the Union is threatening to call a vote.’

Amy looked around for a sword to fall on. She found a Sharpie pen in her purse, but that would hardly do the job. All of a sudden her ass hurt in a simple way; not at all life affirming.

‘Our worthy competition has a thing with a baby duck in it. My industrial spies couldn’t smuggle a copy out, but apparently it’s absolutely adorable. Coca Cola Polar Bears adorable!

‘Oh,’ Bill said, marching into the office in manual labor clothes. ‘Sorry, I thought the room was—‘

Heather waved. ‘Go ahead and work! At least we’ll get something productive done today.’ Heather paced a bit. Bill, measuring tape in hand, shifted his head and looked Heather over askance. Heather, her back to him, could hear body language. ‘Work, work! And you people:


Bill stayed out of the way, measuring, while the suits discussed possible new angles and fresh approaches. Amy refused to be distracted except when he bent over. Did he feel her eyes on his ass when bent over? Amy doubted it. Most common men didn’t have that sense. He contently measured stuff as the rest of the room fell into pandemonium while Amy watched him when not in panic.

‘What aboooouuuuuuttttttt….’ Ted began. ‘A whole train of baby ducks following… ooh -- a mother duck?’

Anjii punched his left palm in triumph. ‘And one of them is a baby swan!’

‘What flibbertigibbet will buy… we’re panicking.’ Heather sank her face into her hands, her elbows on the table, shaking her tired head side to side. ‘Our brains are paralyzed. There isn’t time for a Chinese takeout break. We have to get lucky.’ She moaned. ‘Bill, what do you think?’

‘About what?’ He said, laying under the table. Amy and the rest leaned back and let their minds wander outside the box. He didn't touch Amy's leg, which annoyed Amy more than should would admit.

‘A commercial to sell cell phones.’ Heather’s face still cradled and hopeless.

‘Well, they’re useful, but people take them for granted. Especially teenagers that never lived without them. How about Romeo and Juliet?’

‘What about them?’ That was a slight improvement. Heather’s voice, head just an half inch off her fingers, cheered up from despair to mild confusion.

‘I mean the play. What if the Friar and Romeo had cell phones. Totally different ending. Something like that.’

Bill measured the table leg to leg, then crawled out from under of the table and started in on the window, which was massive. He rubbed his chin stubble (didn’t have to shave that morning for a religious rite of passage), and bit his lip. How best to start measuring this bad boy?

As Bill planned is measuring, the suits, one-by-one, turned their heads. Only Heather dared break the silence. ‘Bill… go on.’

‘Hmmm? Oh, well, ya know,’ Bill kept his eyes on the window, strategizing. ‘Like, Romeo is there in the graveyard, or cave or whatever it was…’

‘Capulet Family Crypt.’ Noted Amy, who was rewarded with a chorus of ‘shhhhs!’

‘Yeah, it was a crypt. So Romeo is there, and he’s about to drink poison, then “Take Me Down to Funky Town” ring tone goes off. He answers it with his other hand, and the Friar says, “Romeo, listen, I gave Juliet this sleeping pill, to fake death, but she’s not really dead. So don’t do anything stupid.” Romeo looks at the poison in his other hand. He says, “Yeah, right. What, you think I’m stupid? Yeah, I’m cool. Later.” Then he stares at the poison, thinking, “WHAT AM I STUPID?” because everyone I know wanted to slap him the whole play, right? I mean, calm down, teenager, you don’t have to go to the max every second. Then Juliet wakes up and says that thing she says. Like, “Romeo, Romeo, where fort are’t my – oh, there you are. Hey, what’s that?” Romeo has to act fast, so he switches poison with cell phone, dropping the poison behind his back on the sly, and says, “Hey! I was just text messaging to find out where the party is tonight. You know, killing time until you woke up.”

Bill walked to the window. He measured from the left to right, then up and down. ‘Oh!’ He turned with his hands out and his eyes ablaze, unaware that the thrill of epiphany lit up his spirit. ‘Then, as the camera pans out while to two lovers kiss, the narrator says… what’s the name of the firm? Whatever, Brand X cell phones. The voice reads while the words come on screen, “Brand X cell phones: turning sad endings into happy endings.” Then Bill got back to the window.

Heather checked her watch. She then, after closing her gaping maw, and calm and cool like a lady, turned back to her crew. ‘I hope to God each and everyone of you got that.’ The peons nodded. ‘Ted, get that down to the patent office immediately.

‘Except,’ Amy said, a little flushed herself. ‘It’s turning tragedies into comedies.’

‘Good,’ Heather pointed at Amy to confirm, which always gave the young woman a thrill.

Bill snapped his fingers. He said to himself, ‘that’s the names. Tragedy and comedy.’

Heather pressed on Ted. ‘Just the basics, we can amend it later. Gogogo.’ Ted almost made a Ted sized hole in the door. ‘Amy, get the complete screenplay from the internet on your laptop, and get the multimedia engines up. Trevor, organize the IT guys and give them the specs. Komo, contact the clients and tell them we are going to knock their socks off in one hour. Anji, Steff – you’re presenting Romeo and Juliet. Get into character and work out your acting and dialog. Fuck if you have to. It’s time to sweat, so Go people!’

Amy was so excited in the group effort and the taste of hope that she only snuck one peek at Bill bending at the window three or four times. Her own aching ass escaped her attention entirely.