Geographical Escape 3.5: Fade to Black

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“I know where her body is buried.” Tom was sitting in a dark booth at a dive bar on the outskirts of Louis Port. He stopped in to visit Marlena, an old friend of his mother. He had ordered one too many drinks and Marlena stayed after to help him sober up. She had the looks of a woman who I had seen and heard it all. They got around to talking about old times and soon they found themselves on the subject of his father.

“Your mother hated leaving you with him,” she said. Tom’s mother work nights as a nurse at the local hospital. His father worked at the docks loading cargo that was being shipped down river. Jim’s tall frame had become naturally muscular from years of heavy lifting. Tom’s thinness stood in sharp contrast to his father’s imposing body and equally intimidating personality. Already possessing a shy demeanor, Tom became mute whenever he was with him. In turn, Tom’s father did his best to ignore his son. He wasn’t a man who was good at conversation and he made no attempts to keep enough food in the house or cook a meal.

Jim was a heavy drinker and perpetual womanizer. Often times he would head down to the neighborhood tavern leaving his son alone for the night. Sometimes Tommy fell asleep to the hum of the tv set or put himself to bed. Jim would come home drunk, always with company for the night. Tommy could hear them through the walls. Bed creaking. His father moaning. A woman mewing or at times screaming. He covered his ears with a pillow to block out the noises. Some of them would stay around for a few months. They attempted to be friendly but more often than not, they were more interested in fucking his father. Jim would often send Tommy off on his bike during these times telling him to stay out of the house because “Daddy had business to take care of.” He would ride for hours all over town. Joe would meet up with him and they would head to his house where Joe’s mom would cook them up a special treat. Or he would ride over to the Trackside Diner, where Marlena was working at the time. She always made sure he ate a hearty meal, his belly full to bursting.

When he did arrive back at his Dad’s, he and his latest date would often be passed out on the couch with beer cans strewn on the floor and cigarettes still burning in the ashtrays.

His father knew no boundaries. He didn’t seem to care when Tommy would accidentally walk in on his acts in the living room or even the kitchen. “Hey there son, Daddy is just  having some fun with this little lady. You go on back to bed now,” he’d laugh. Or there would be two women with him. Unabashed in their nakedness. “I had trouble choosing. So I thought I would invite both of them home with me.”

Tommy was overwhelmed. He did not have the words to even speak of the situations he witnessed. He was always relieved to be back with his mother, putting those times out of his mind.

And this is what he thought he did that one last time. He was awakened once again by the sounds from his father’s bedroom. This time, however, it was different. Fearful screaming. Furniture banging against the wall. His father making monstrous noises. More yelling. “Please stop! You’re hurting me. Let go of me!”  Then the sound of someone falling to the floor with a loud thud.

Tommy couldn’t help himself. He got out of bed and peeked in the doorway of his father’s room. He saw his father straddled over the bloody, naked body of his latest conquest. A knife was in his hands. When he turned and saw his son, he said, “She wouldn’t listen, son. Help me clean up.” He began to roll her body in a rug. “Go open up the car’s trunk and get a shovel too. Then get in the back seat.”

They drove out to Cedar Grove Forest. He left Tommy in the car while he walked down the path with the shovel. A few minutes later, he came back for her. “Help me out here son. Hold the flashlight. I don’t want to trip on the path with this heavy load.”  Tommy held the light out in front of him as his father walked behind. When they got to the hole, he father said, “Go on back to the car and wait for me.”

Minutes later, Tommy heard the car door open and watched his father slide into the driver’s seat. Then he turned around and brought Tommy’s face close to his. He was filthy and reeked of sweat and blood. Breathing heavily, nearly spitting out the words, he said: “Don’t you ever tell a god damn soul.”

The smell of bleach awakened him. Sunlight streamed across his face. “Get dressed. I am taking you back to your mother’s.” He dropped his son at the curb and sped off. That was the last time he saw his father. It was only three years later, when Tommy was twelve, that he heard about his father’s death in a cheap motel room. He had been found shot to death.

By the time he was done talking, the sun was about to rise. The confession purged his soul. He knew that he would need to talk to the authorities. But first he would go home. He no idea of how he would tell Ella about his past. No clue about his present misdeeds. Their future together was uncertain. But he owed her the truth.

These thoughts were swimming in his sleepless mind as he said goodbye to Marlena and headed out towards the airport. Dazed and distracted, he was unaware of the moose in the middle of the road. He hit it head on, the car flipping over and over into the air until it landed in a ditch. They say you travel towards a white light at the end. But all Tom saw was red.

Geographical Landscape 3.3: Odyssey

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His malaise became more of a burden. His words and actions were wooden. Cracks appeared in his facade. Ella did her best to provide comfort and advice but her frustration and impatience began to show.  “You need to share the wealth, Tom. With a professional. Something is not right and I am worried for you and for us.”

She was right, of course. But the act of beginning that journey overwhelmed him. He knew that he would eventually have to share the pain of his past. Never mind his current deceits. He wasn’t ready to think about the consequences of his truths.

It remained hard to say if the timing of yet another business trip was a good thing or a bad thing. Good because he could use it as an excuse to put off getting help. Bad for another reason. Would Temptation visit him a third time? Could he control himself?  This trip would take him far from home. He would leave for the West Coast site in the San Fransisco area. It would be a six week stint.  Ella could barely hide her anger. “These obligations are taking a toll on us. Each time you have come back from one of these trips in the past year,the night terrors resume. You need to tell your boss this is the last one. Time to focus on taking care of you and your family.”

He left home with a heavy heart and plunged into work. He had an outstanding reputation as a problem solver. He needed this part of his life to remain strong. By the end of the first week, he had fixed the first of a series of  issues at the site. On Friday night, he sat down at the hotel’s bar and asked for a whiskey.

He was two drinks in and about to order another when he  heard a voice behind him. “Need a bit more to take the edge off?”  White porcelain skin. Long black hair. Wearing a stunning black dress. Her eyes looked like pools of water. She placed her hand in his. “I’m Lilith.” I can take you to a place that will bring you peace.” She place a card in his hand. “Call if you are interested.” And then she was gone.

The card was plain. No name. No title. Just a phone number. The bartender gave him a knowing wink. “Great experience for those who need it,” he said. Tom took out his phone and started to dial. His mouth began to water. His heart raced. A recorded voice stated: “Thank you for calling. A driver will be ready to pick you up in 15 minutes. Please wait outside.”  He gave the bartender a puzzled look. “No worries, man. Just go.”

When he got into the back seat of the limousine, the driver opened the window slightly. Facing forward so as to remain unseen, he told Tom to put on a black faceless mask. Without thinking, he obeyed. Then they drove off.

In a matter of minutes, they arrived at a palatial residence. Secluded by hedges and a large forest, it looked over the city lights. His mask was removed once he set foot in the door. Lilith stood before him. “Welcome,” was all she said as she led him to a red-draped ante room. Six people-three men and three women- sat relaxing on the room’s fine furnishings.

An older, attractive woman dressed to match the room stood up and held Tom’s hands in hers. “Lilith sensed your need. We are glad you called.We believe in the healing powers of sensual expression. Many here come to us because they are hemmed in by society’s pressures. Our mission is provide a safe place to fill your needs, heal your pain and escape your troubles. All of us are participants in this endeavor, as we too have other lives. We fill our needs as much as you do yours. We charge no fees. We are here by choice and to enjoy one another. We do not use violence. We are selective about our members. So, if you choose to stay, you must engage in these same practices. We promise you unforgettable experiences.”

Geographical Escape 3.1: High Summit

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He was at the whim of gravity both on and off the slopes. One afternoon, after finishing work early they hiked up a ravine and skied “The Bowl” until sunset. He had never experienced skiing through the air. He wondered if he would land in one piece. At these heights, he could touch the sky. Fly into blinding beams of light. Escape his demons.

After one particularly long day spent working in Billingsworth, Tom hit the slopes alone. Accelerating into the blackness washed away the detritus of the day. When he approached the parking lot after his runs were done, he noticed a piece of paper on his windshield. “T-join me at the cabin when you’ve finished-G.”

Although he still kept a room at the hotel, he ended up spent many nights at her place. He wanted to keep up appearances. He often left the cabin in the early hours of the morning and used his card key to sneak in the back doors of the hotel.

A visit with Georgia would be the perfect end to his last night before heading home in the morning. He had come to a different level of enjoyment with their assignations. There was a raw coldness to them; nothing tender but still exhilarating.

So it was with surprise and disappointment when he saw another vehicle parked next to hers in the driveway. He didn’t know what to expect when he walked through the door.

The living area was awash in candlelight. And there, at the kitchen island, stood Georgia and another woman. They were sipping wine as he walked in.

“Tom, this is Jenna”, Georgia said. “We met through my husband.”  Both Georgia and her husband, Ian, were professors at the nearby college. She, an instructor in English and American Literature and he, an anthropologist. Georgia had explained to Tom that her husband hated the long winters and would often head to the Amazon River to conduct field research for the season. “We take a bit of a marriage sabbatical and enjoy the company of others during this time.” she told him. Keeps the relationship fresh.”

Jenna had been one of her husband’s field assistants. “Ian introduced me to Jenna because he thought that I would enjoy her as much as he once did. She is a delight”, said Georgia softly as she caressed Jenna’s face. “Take off your clothes and come watch us.”

Tom’s clothes fell to the floor. Georgia led Jenna to the soft rug in front of the roaring fire. There they stood taking taking turns peeling off  each others dresses and jewels. Jenna was the polar opposite of Georgia in physical appearance. Petite, with shoulder length blonde hair. Perky breasts. Slim waist. Delicate, nubile. A nymph.

He sat on the couch, feeling slightly drugged as he watched them pleasure one another in ways that he never imagined women could. He was captivated by what he was witnessing.

Without a word, Georgia stood and brought him to the floor next to Jenna. “See if you can top that.”  He worked his way all over Jenna’s dainty frame. He sampled her as if she were a delicacy. Her responses only furthered his will to please her.

They parted and Tom found himself moving madly to the opening in Georgia’s hips.  Her athletic strength and grip increased his own ecstasy.

The night extended into the early hours of the next day as the three of them tangled and untangled themselves two, and sometimes three at a time. After a final arousal, they fell asleep wrapped in a threesome on Georgia’s bed.

Geographical Escape 3.0: Stranded

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It all started innocently enough.  He was approached with an offer from his boss after the holidays. “Got a buddy up in the Billingsworth region who could use your expertise for a bit. You would be in a consulting position three days a week and you’d make  top money in addition to what you make here. If it works out, I get a cut of the profit and I’ll give you a hefty raise.”

He didn’t pass it up even though it meant being away from home Sunday afternoon to Wednesday night.  Perfect timing for ski season. The area had top-notch black diamond trails.  Just the kick he needed.

And the old feeling was rising up again. He thought that he had it under control. Lauren wasn’t even a distant memory; he had convinced himself that it never happened. But then Joe had to go say something that triggered that underground tremor in him again. The four of them were out at their annual couples holiday date and Joe had raised a toast to him. “Tom, he said in a booming voice, your mom would be so proud of you. Successful businessman, husband, father and friend. You have buried the legacy of your dad.”  Tom’s face became an icy mask. He had not seen his father since he was nine. Tom’s mom had died of cancer just before their daughter was born. They had named her Louisa after her grandmother.

The physical exertion of cycling and skiing that once helped to peel the layers of hurt ceased to work. Sexual diversion with a woman he barely knew had become his new method of deliverance.

Georgia was a mirror image of him. Short black hair. Black eyes.  A femme fatale who was just shy of 40 and had a body that knocked him out.  Powerful  thighs that were strong from years on the slopes. Muscular upper back.  A brawny woman who made it clear that she was proud of her sexuality.

When she called her mechanic, he let her know that he would not be able to get the new starter until Friday. Given the timing of the repair, Tom would not make it home at all since he was back at work in s the following  Monday.  He would remain in the area for another week.

And what a week it was. There was a certain tough competitiveness to their escapades. An edginess. Like skiing on icy slopes or off the trails. Georgia was an expert skier and he found it hard to keep up with her.  And she was equally energetic and agile in the  bedroom.

She brought out a hidden determination in him.  A hardened physical desire that broke down the act into tarnished carnal lust. She was serving a need and he was hooked.

Geographical Escape 2.9: A Change in Seasons

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He was riding an avalanche. The rush was back. He had missed this feeling of spinning into the unknown. His spine was tingling. His hands twitching. Grabbing at her backside, he held on. The high had gotten higher.

When he released himself from her, she wrapped herself in a sheet and poured two shots of tequila. The burn in his throat was soothing.

“I am so glad that your truck didn’t start,” she said with a devilish grin.

They had met on the last run of the day, the only two left on the slopes. He had been lost in a mindless reverie when she suddenly appeared  at his side. They raced to the bottom together, both breathing heavily when they were done.

“Time for last call,” she said, leaving her skis in the lodge’s lobby. Well, a little night-cap wouldn’t hurt before he headed back.

The whiskey warmed them as they bantered comfortably at the bar. They left for the parking lot at closing time. Throwing his skis  in the bed of the truck, he hopped in quickly. It would be a long drive home and he would need to stop for gas and coffee. As he turned the key in the ignition, he was greeted with silence.

“Want me to jump you?”, she asked. Again, she seemed to appear out of nowhere. When that didn’t work, he concluded that it was the starter.

“You’ll never get a tow at this time. And the only repair shop in town is closed. I can call my guy in the morning and have him take care of it,” she said with a wink. “Meet me in my car.”

He placed a call his wife and his boss. No need to lie this time.

They rode in silence through icy mountainous and narrow roads. The night was deeply black.  There, at the end of a long driveway, stood a large cabin. He had arrived at a dark forested limbo and his body soared.

When his boots hit the snow, he knew there would be no turning back.

Geographical Escape 2.6: Fog

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He woke up with his face in the sand and a bone- cold chill running through his veins. He was completely disoriented as he sat up to look around him. The beach was encased in a thick fog.  He felt like a castaway who had washed up on the shore after a shipwreck. She was  a ghost once more. Forgetting his nakedness, he walked to the lean- to just to be sure . Yep. Just his bike and his pack. She was considerate enough to bring his clothes up from the beach before she left. He dressed quickly and pulled out his cycling jacket from the pack for extra warmth.

The fog made it difficult to follow the roads and anticipate the curves and hills that were easily mastered yesterday. He hoped that he was going in the  right direction to the ferry. He didn’t have any idea of the schedule nor did he know what time it was- he left his phone back in the room. He was trying not to panic as he carefully negotiated the route back.

He arrived at the town’s landing damp and still cold. Luckily, there was a general store that was open. He tried not to look too relieved when he found out they also served coffee and snacks. As he sat at the tiny service bar, he noticed that the ferry schedule was posted on the wall. None going out for four more hours because of the fog. Even Earl’s mail boat was hung up. “Don’t worry honey. Fog will lift soon. Earl was just asking about some biker over the two-way. He’ll be happy to bring you back once I get the mail sacks from  ‘im.”

While he waited, he drank more coffee and read yesterday’s news. He tried not to think about her and the sense of abandonment that he felt. He only wanted to feel warm again.

“Good gosh you old son-of-a-gun. You look like a lost puppy.” It was Earl.  “Time to get you back to the mainland, my friend.”

The ride back was quiet as the fog cleared completely. When they reached the pier, Tom noticed that the vessel that had been undergoing repairs was gone.  “Word is they left just after dawn. Needed to get ahead of those ocean storms.” Earl talked as if he were to trying to explain the situation. Well, what did he expect?  They treated one another like friendly strangers at best. No more. No less.

When he finally got back to his room, it was nearly 2pm. His phone was noisily vibrating with messages from home. He listened to his children sing their “Daddy I Miss You” song. Then there was a message from his wife.  Her tone was serious. “Tom, call me when you are not too busy with those endless meetings.  The kids and I are headed to Karen and Joe’s  until you get back.  But we NEED to talk.”

Geographical Escape 2.4: Diving in the Deep End

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He wasted no time checking in. Same place. Same room.  He found his cycling clothes, packed up his energy bars and headed out on the same route. He had no idea if he would see her. He wasn’t one to normally tempt fate-he was too impulsive for that.  He rode and rode, often coming upon other cyclists but never Lauren.

He couldn’t help feeling disappointed as he pulled into the motel’s scrappy and weedy parking lot at sunset. He’d clean up, get a meal at that diner. In the morning maybe he would head over to the shop, see if she is there. If not, he could at least get some information on other bike routes to explore. He couldn’t think of leaving yet.

He smelled her before he saw her. The sweet scent of female sweat. She was relaxing on the bed in the waning light still dressed in her cycling outfit. Her hair was pulled into a ponytail atop her head with little ringlets falling around her face and ears. Her bike leaned against the dresser.

“Room was an easy entry”, she said.  “Just slipped my credit card between the dead bolt and the frame.”  A jolt went through his body. The rush that had been missing these past few weeks was back.  He climbed on her fully clothed, his mouth and tongue together with hers. The taste only energized him as they both attempted to remove the skin tight shorts and tops from themselves. Their bodies were sticky and moist. They reveled in the pungent scents and salty flavors created by the hard riding they had done. He savored the sweetness of her fruit and she was ebullient in response to the feast she laid before him. They moved in and out of one another with ease and vocal enthusiasm.

Darkness had descended when they were finally done. They took turns washing one another in a gentle, sacramental way.  And then hunger and thirst visited them like a wild animal. He wrapped her in a towel, puffed the pillows and ran to the diner for takeout and to the nearby store for beer.

They consumed the food and booze voraciously and then fell into a satiated slumber.  A few hours later he was awakened by the sounds of his own moaning. “I love dessert”, she said.

Geographical Escape 2.1: Vortex

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Stepping inside, she leaned back against the door and said: “Which do you want first? A cold one or a hot one?”  He took the beer from her hands and put it on the table by the window.  His heart was racing. He felt the rush of adrenaline and pure heat.  Grabbing her by the waistband, he pulled her to him with a force that drew him down. He stopped thinking and felt himself falling further and further into an unknown abyss. He could taste her desire, her hunger. They did not speak. She pulled at his belt and his shorts fell to the floor. Then everything came undone. They were skin to skin. Until now, he did not notice her youth. She was clearly a decade younger than his 37 years. Her body was angular and thin-a cyclist’s frame. He had to keep himself from comparing her to his wife’s soft suppleness- a mother’s body. Ample in just the right places for him and still sexy.

Her assertiveness astounded him. He felt helpless and at her mercy so he let himself go. After, they shared a beer or two and spoke only of cycling as if they were buddies trading stories. It was both strange and comforting in its simplicity. The night stretched on pretty much like their earlier bike ride-back and forth in a silent lustful rhythm ceasing only to refresh themselves with another beer.

He began to feel the sweet release of his current suffocation slough off with each meeting of their bodies. Maybe this is what he needed- a distraction that took him to places he could only experience with a stranger. Maybe this would be enough to quiet his mind.

With the beers gone and their bodies finally spent, they fell into a deep, tangled sleep. In the morning, she was gone- leaving only a note with her name: Lauren.