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Archive for April 7th, 2012

On two previous occasions (September 2010 and March 2011) I’ve published stories written before I started doing this column, and here’s another one.  I wrote this on March 30th, 1997 (Easter Sunday that year), about six months before I started stripping; it actually came to me in a dream, and I woke up and typed it out before breakfast.  The heroine isn’t a sex worker of any kind, and neither is she me; though I experienced the dream in first person and her brother was “played” by my own brother, she’s a great deal more submissive both to family and convention than I ever was.  Because it touches on themes we’ve visited before I’ve wanted to share the tale for some time now, but since it isn’t at all hooker-related I thought it best to wait until it was at least seasonal.  A lot of my most memorable dreams are vaguely unsettling, and this one is no exception.

On Easter Sunday my brother called me to ask if I wanted to go to church.  I had not actually planned to, but in the face of his request I decided to genuflect to convention and attend Easter mass with him.  By the time I had gotten dressed and made up it was rather late, and we just barely made the last mass of the morning, the high mass, which had actually already started when we arrived.  The church was absolutely jammed as churches are only on Easter, and as we arrived late we were forced to stand in the aisle near the front doors.  Apparently the gentlemen present, secure in their piety by attending church today, felt that there was no need to press the issue by offering a seat to a woman.

The mass was long, as high masses are wont to be, and the priest was young and clearly nervous about performing in front of so many people.  He couldn’t sing at all, and his sermon was long and rambling and extremely predictable.  I could see that the old pastor was regretting his decision to let the younger priest perform the mass, and I was half-regretting my decision to come.

As the priest droned on about how awful a torture crucifixion was, my mind began to wander and my eyes with it.  I looked at my shoes, white lace with flowers, and I began to turn a little, back and forth like the agitator in a washing machine, watching my skirt spin around my legs first in one direction, then the other.  This proved fascinating (or at least more so than the lecture, which had now moved on to how poor the second collection, the one for missions, had been lately) until my brother gently nudged me and looked at me imploringly.  I stopped, and began instead to look at the other women’s dresses.  They were all white or pink or yellow or pastel green, and all very light and springy.  This last was a shame because a late cold front had descended upon us, making the weather unseasonably cold and necessitating the wearing of heavy coats over light Easter dresses.  Not in church, though – the old priest had turned up the heat and that, in combination with the slowness of the proceedings, was making the whole congregation very drowsy.

I looked back to the altar and it crossed my mind that the deacon was a prominent local lawyer.  Trying to make amends?  I wondered, noticing that one of the gentlemen who wouldn’t offer me his seat was also a lawyer.  I started to smile as I wondered if they thought they could fool or bribe the Big Judge like they could the earthly ones, then realized that I myself should not judge and so turned my attention elsewhere.

“Elsewhere” was to the side aisle, where a group of teenagers dressed in some sort of sports uniform were quietly making their way out.  The sermon was over, the second collection (which, I noticed, was pretty scanty in spite of priestly admonitions) was in progress, and the young people were obviously late for a game and had tarried here as long as they were able to.  Fortunately, the front doors of the church opened to a vestibule.  The inner ones, of transparent glass, closed completely before the heavy wooden outer ones opened, so no blast of cold air arrived to chill me.  Something else, however, did.

Something had apparently slipped into the vestibule when the young people left, unnoticed by anyone but me.  It must have come in to escape the cold, because it had adhered to the inner glass doors, as if to get as close to the heat as possible.  What it was, I cannot adequately describe.  It was soft and pink and fleshy, clearly invertebrate and about the size of a cantaloupe.  Its bottom, that is, the side pressed against the glass, reminded me of a cowrie shell.  It had the same long, thin, mouthlike opening ridged with serrated edges, and was of a slightly darker, brownish color than the rest of the thing.  If there was any more to it I do not know, because the condensation on the glass hid it.  I suppose it was the drowsiness, but I did not call it to the attention of my brother or anyone else, at least not for the few moments it took to form the impression I have just described.

In those few moments, a man opened the door.  I don’t know why he was leaving before communion, but he clearly wished to escape undetected because he opened it just a little and slid out while everyone’s attention was fixed on the priest and the Eucharistic prayer.  He noticed the thing, though, and gingerly touched it.  In less time than it takes to tell it was absorbed into his hand; I can only use that word.  It looked like a paper towel soaking up a spill, except faster.  I am sure I gasped, but everyone was rising for communion and in the rumble my little sound was lost.  The man made no sound at all.  He merely looked surprised for a moment, then placed the invaded hand in his coat pocket and calmly walked out of the front doors.

I had never seen the man before, but he had one of those craggy, distinctive faces one never forgets or mistakes for another, and even had he not the shock and horror of that moment would have fixed his visage in my mind forever.  It is important that I make this clear because about a year later he entered local politics.  I was not surprised when this dark horse gained the backing of several prominent politicians and won a powerful local office, nor was I when he recently announced his candidacy for an important national one.  The opinion polls show him far ahead, of course.

One Year Ago Today

Feminine Pragmatism” points out that “a woman with two children to feed, clothe and house and no husband to help her does not have the luxury of obeying a stupid, arbitrary law written by men which says that she can’t get money to support them in the way which works best for her and doesn’t hurt anyone,” using an example from Brandy Devereaux’s blog.

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