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Of course, it’s best to read the previous chapters.
A Little Side Business, Part Five You Can Observe a Lot by Just Watching In which our hero is tested, finds enemies and allies
I found my way downstairs naked, the floor creaking and the empty house echoing with my careful descent of the stairs. I didn’t bother to find a towel to wrap myself with. Would I locate Kathryn or Charlotte in the house? Was she hurt? I was scared. For myself and for her.
It was difficult to explore the big house when I couldn’t see. I called out for Kathryn but got no answer. It seemed best to go find my glasses before looking more. I crossed the study and located the door to the terrace, feeling for walls and furniture, seeking the light. The mid-afternoon sun was bright and hot on the flagstones, burning my feet. I hurried across, squinting against the glare. Outside was immense with sunshine and the sound of the marshes. From the wood came the low hiss of insects and staccato bird calls; no human sounds other than my swallowed cries of pain as I burnt my soles.
The cooler grass between the bricks on the path to the pool house made that passage easier, but I was still nearly blind and afraid of what I would find there as I picked my way, crouched and cautious. The overgrown, thorny maze loomed on one side, the wild pre-historic marshland on the other. I was a small, old, blind hominid with his dick hanging out, feeling my way to safety. My fear was visceral.
By the pool everything was as we left it. I felt for my glasses on the table by the chaise where the pitcher of tepid drink still stood. Kathryn’s robe lay on the pool deck, my clothes were by the shower.
Glasses on and dressed I began to calm down and think clearly. I tried the sliding door to the pool house. It was locked. Charlotte had texted that the key was…where? I checked my phone. Right, in the filter. The filter panel was recessed into the pool deck near the ladder and its top popped out easily enough. Taped underneath it was a ziplock bag, inside of which I found a key, which, when inserted in the lock gave me access to Charlotte’s space. She’d also said to leave by four. Why? it now occurred to me to wonder. It was after three.
The Martha Stewart inspired living room was unchanged from my first visit. Should I call for Kathryn? or Charlotte? I called for both, but neither answered. No one was there. I checked both bedrooms, the kitchen, the bathroom. I checked the medicine cabinet for incriminating meds. No prescriptions there. Nothing seemed out of place in the pool house. I sat on the couch, elbows on knees, trying to decide what to do. I’d seen enough TV to think that if Charlotte and Kathryn were the same person, if Kathryn was not just a performance of Charlotte’s, that this woman I had been falling in love with was in need of help. Even if Kathryn was a performance she needed help, I realized. Help that was way beyond any I could provide. I was in far over my head.
So I googled it. I found Dissociative Identity Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia and a list of other illnesses. Since it was the internet, brain cancer was also a possible cause of her behavior. Wikipedia defined Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) as the presence of two or more distinct personality states accompanied by the inability to recall personal information, beyond what is expected through normal forgetfulness. And added that people diagnosed with DID often report that they have experienced severe physical and sexual abuse, especially during early to mid-childhood.
Clearly, I wasn’t equipped to deal with this. But I would have to be with her again, to work at VoltT if nothing else. I hoped to confront her sooner.
I had lusted after my boss, a no-nonsense, tightly wound woman who exuded an animal fitness and sexuality. She’d triggered my memories of my own childhood, raised by an alcoholic mother, sometimes neglected. I did want to open her up, rescue her, show her that love was possible. Things I wanted for my own hurting inner child.
I should go up to the big house and make sure she isn’t lying in some room hurt or dead, I thought, but had to get myself straight about what was going on.
Sitting in the room where I’d first held her, where I’d come to join a business, or so I’d thought, but left seduced and confused, I tried to make sense of her. As Charlotte she functioned well in the world, running a multi-million dollar grossing cell phone store, tied into a corporate structure that rewarded obsessive-compulsive behaviour, but punished emotion. But she showed me that she’d created her own business, one catering to lonely or constrained women, a business in which the sensual was the product, sex was elevated to beauty, lust sold as an avenue to freedom.
I’d bought that vision. It still seemed like an idea that stood on its canlı bahis own as a sound innovation. But it came from Charlotte’s need to work out her traumatic past. She was the troubled artist, a caricature that held some truth in this case. I’d gotten used to the idea of being a porn star, had begun to imagine an entirely different future for myself. It’s funny how our hopes become a tangible dream, no matter how insubstantial, that we reluctantly let go of. I didn’t want to let go of that idea. I wondered how to get help for Charlotte so we could continue to realize her vision, a Chatterley that filled a real need. I wanted to get help for the artist and still be part of her creation.
How did Kathryn fit? Was she her healthier alter-ego? Did Charlotte even know about Kathryn? Why did she want me gone by four?
I dithered out on the pool deck. I texted Tamika: hv u seen Charlotte 2day?
She sent back: She opened but went to mgr mtg in Macon.
So she could have come to Bateaux and been here as Kathryn instead. I couldn’t contact any of the other managers to check on her without raising awkward questions. I would have to assume from the evidence that Charlotte and Kathryn were the same person, at least.
I tried to imagine how to confront her. I was about to go back up to the big house to make sure it was empty, or find her body, something I really didn’t want to do, when from behind the hedge I heard car tires on the gravel. The engine’s purr died, a door shut, footsteps tapped on the brick path. I looked up expectantly, standing nervously by the pool, having no idea what to say to whoever came around that corner.
Charlotte, ponytail bobbing, in VoltT uniform, strode onto the patio. She looked angry, distracted, didn’t see me at first. When she did, she startled, looked confused. I saw shock, fear, confusion, anger, sadness all contort her face in rapid order. But she composed herself, became military straight, jaw tight. “I told you to leave by four, Frank.”
“Charlotte, I met Kathryn here today.”
She went pale, seemed even more angry. Then sagged, hurt. “She was here?”
“She’s gone now. Apparently.” I said, leaving an opening.
“I can’t fucking stand it when she just drops in. It’s so inconsiderate.” She looked up to the blue sun-bleached sky. “You should go, Frank.”
I just stood there trying to look compassionate.
Her voice rose, “Why are you still here, Frank? I told you to leave by four!”
“Do you want to tell me about Kathryn?” I spread my hands, noticed the confirming evidence. “There’s a hickey on the left side of your neck. How’d you get that?”
She looked confused, pulled up her phone and put it in selfie mode, examined her neck, looked horrified. A determined expression passed over her face.
“I know what you want.” She smiled. Not a nice smile. And she began to undress.
I wasn’t expecting that. Anger, yelling, denial, tears, anything but sex.
“Wait!” I backed up as she approached, peeling the red VoltT polo over her head. She threw it down and ripped her taupe-colored bra off, flinging it angrily aside.
“Please tell me about Kathryn.” My therapist skills were non-existent. “Those are my tooth marks on your neck!” She came at me topless, grabbed my hands and held them to her perfect breasts.
“I…KNOW…WHAT…YOU…WANT!” She pressed forward, rubbing herself against me, eyes smoldering. I was instantly aroused, God help me.
“I can fix this,” she said, squeezing my cock, stretching up to kiss me hard, then dropping to her knees, jerked my riding shorts down roughly. I was pressed back against the low brick wall by the patio, stunned, yet aroused. She ripped my briefs down and my cock flopped free, half hard, still sticky from before.
“You stink of sex, Frank. Did you fuck her?! Of course you fucked her, you disgusting old goat!” Charlotte took me in her hand, pushed her face into my junk. I thought she would bite me.
“Wait. Don’t!” was all I got out before she wrapped me with her lips. I hardened immediately as the hot and wet of her mouth overran any sense I had. She stroked me, tongued around my cock head, drooled and bobbed until I gripped the brick with my fingernails and my toes curled.
She took me into her throat and swallowed, massaging my cock with her tongue. I nearly burst, then she pulled me out, spittle dripping down onto the swell of her tanned breasts.
“See?!” was all she said before engulfing me again. She was in a hurry. I surrendered any thought of confrontation, let her devour me.
She drove her mouth onto my fat spike again and again, taking me deep, dripping spit all the while. I watched her drool-glazed breasts flopping as she forced me into her throat, moaning around me, tears streaking her mascara.
I came in a sudden gout, pouring myself into her as she held me tight and my thrusting kicked her head back with each bolt of spunk I shot. She hung on and sucked me until I was spent, grunting, swallowing, gagging, then spit me out, semen and saliva running from her chin. She wiped her face bahis siteleri on her arm, “Got what you wanted?” She glared. “Get out of here.”
Charlotte turned, picked up her polo and used it for a towel on her neck and breasts. I was exhausted, could barely bend to pull up my shorts.
“Now get on your fucking bike and get out of here, Frank. Go!” She grabbed my jersey and pulled me across the patio. She pushed me toward the bike. I stumbled.
“Charlotte, we need to talk about this. Please.”
I fumbled on my helmet and dragged my bike up the walk, looking back for her. She’d gone and I heard her splash into the pool. My leg barely cleared the seat as I threw it over the bike and began pedalling away, drained. It was going to be a long ride back.
That was wrong, I thought, very wrong. She forced me and I didn’t want to, but my body responded, then my mind withdrew. I should have stopped her. I shouldn’t have let her do that to herself, either.
I was nearly to the end of the allee, already panting in the shaded heat, when a bronze Dodge Charger entered the drive, hip-hop thumping. I wobbled into the verge and it stopped. The driver’s side tinted window whirred down. It was Marcus. This must be why she wanted me gone by four.
He looked at me, irritated. “What are you doing here, Frank?”
“Charlotte needs our help,” I blurted. “She’s acting weird. I mean, I think she’s sick.”
“Don’t fuck with my bitch.”
“Oh, for Chrissakes, Marcus, you’ve got a college degree. Don’t talk like that. Not to me.”
“What do you mean she’s sick? Physically? You call a doctor?”
“No, mentally ill. She’s been acting like another person.”
“I know she’s eccentric, but she’s rich. Rich bit…I mean, rich women are different from you and me.” He rubbed his forehead, tapped his fingers on the door of the car.
“Do you know that she got me involved with Chatterley?”
“No, but when I saw you out here I thought maybe you found out. She doesn’t tell me everything. Dammit.” Marcus looked down the long drive.
“I saw you in one of the films, that’s all I know about your involvement with Chatterley, or Charlotte.” Neither of us knew everything.
“She’s my ticket, Frank.”
“I think she may have a mental illness. She just came on to me as someone entirely different.”
“Was it the prison guard? Or the catholic school girl? She can play a lot of characters. She’s a kinky bit…damn!…woman.”
“No,” I said, exasperated, “She may have Dissociative Identity Disorder. Multiple personalities.”
“Look, I think maybe you’re too old to get what we younger people are into, Frank.”
“Have you met a woman named Kathryn? Dark hair, wears red stick-on nails?”
“She was playing her in the film you saw. That’s actually the only one I’ve been in. Turned out real good, I thought. In fact, I was coming out here to ‘rehearse’ for another one, you know what I’m sayin’?”
“Marcus, she’s mentally ill. We need to get her some help.” I realized the voice I heard in the Chatterley film was Kathryn’s. Why did Charlotte show it to me if she…..?
“Look, I understand she screws around with other guys for the films, but we’ve got a special thing. This puts me in a whole different neighborhood, if you know what I mean. So, Frank, don’t mess with this. It’s my ticket.”
“She’s crazy, Marcus.”
“I will fuck you up.”
“I will fuck you up.” He pointed at me as he drove off. Like me, he would find a naked woman at the pool.
What was I going to do, pull him out of the car and beat sense into his head? I might be fit, but he outweighed me by seventy pounds, mostly muscle. I let him go, trying to think who would be able to understand. Before pedaling away I texted Charlotte: Pls, Pls, Pls call if you need help!
I got no reply.
At home as evening fell, back in the sober, sensible downtown, things looked different. I’d stopped at a Your Pie for pizza and lots of ice water on my ride back and felt much better. I stank, but had a cooling shower and was more clear-headed. No beer, I had admonished myself.
I checked the VoltT schedule app on my phone; Rita and Tamika were both openers on Monday, tomorrow, another day off for me.
I sent a group text. ‘Dinner? My place. Tmrw @ 8’. Followed by a Google maps link.
Charlotte and Chatterley had gone from being a day at the beach to the shark from Jaws. I was going to need a bigger boat. I needed allies if I was going to get help for the woman.
Over the next several hours I googled everything I could find about DID and interventions. Marcus had asked me if I had called a doctor. I thought that would take things too far out of my hands, if I wanted to keep the dream of Chatterley alive. At least at this point. I wanted to talk to my co-workers first.
Both women responded in the positive about coming to dinner. I thought it best to wait to tell them why. Not surprisingly, Tamika replied with a suggestive remark. Rita bahis şirketleri asked if she could bring dessert. ‘Surprise me’, I sent back.
I slept really hard that night, too exhausted for my dreams to wake me.
I spent the first half of the day getting more done on the shelving. Then I walked over to the grocery and got materials for my signature curry. And an IPA and wine to pair. A serious cleaning of the bathroom and a shower and I was ready for company. I said I never associated with Associates outside of work. So you can see how much my life had changed. This would be the first time I’d had anyone from work over. My private life was no longer private. I felt conflicted about that, but the course forward seemed clear; Get help for Charlotte and try to keep Chatterley going.
I had a half hour of sitting with my thoughts after preparing the meal and changing into 501s and a white linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I was suddenly overtaken with a sense of emotional clarity that I had almost never felt before. I could see my own actions from the outside and I realized that my ‘falling in love’ with Charlotte was nothing of the sort. It was our dysfunctions that drew me to her, not a noble ‘Love’ that I could exercise to save her. I could treat her with compassion and not need to go blindly into a relationship. It wasn’t what was wrong with her that was the problem, it was what was wrong with me. Again, my world was shifting under my feet.
I answered the knock at 7:56 and there were Tamika and Rita, dressed to kill. Of course, I noticed. Tamika had wrapped her voluptuous black body in royal blue dress and added a bright ocher neckerchief that only brought attention to the deep plunging neckline below it. Her hair was up in a bun of coiled dreds, slick and dark, beads worked into the weave.
Rita surprised me. Her slim body was draped in a turquoise silk blouse tucked into a soft slate skirt that came to just above her knees. The cycling she’d been doing had done terrific things for her calves. Little black flats held her tiny feet. Judging from the pips on her blouse she was braless again. A matching turquoise headband pulled her straight black hair away from her ears, where silver bangles hung. And she did surprise me with dessert from Back In The Day Bakery.
Both women were smiling, still laughing at something said before I opened the door.
“Pull your jaw up off the floor, Frank,” said Tamika. “You look like you’ve never seen a woman dressed before.”
“It’s just that you both have such good taste. We never see that at VoltT.”
“That is the sad truth,” Tamika said, “You look fine in those jeans, Mr. Carpenter. I bet you have a nice big hammer…..”
“Aahhh, Tamika, before we get off on the wrong foot here, I should tell you why I asked you over.”
“What’s wrong, Frank?” asked Rita, looking concerned.
I got them each a drink, sat them down and told them the story of Kathryn, what I thought was going on and how I needed their help to save the situation. They got steadily quieter as I spoke and knowing looks passed between the two. I asked them to hold questions until I was finished, which after a good deal of self-justification, I did. Hearing myself talk, I realized I was feeling a lot of guilt.
“What do you think?” I asked, knowing that the future rested on how they responded.
Not surprisingly, Tamika spoke first. “This DID makes sense, but you aren’t a doctor and I know enough from my classes so far that the internet makes the worst diagnoses. I think I have every syndrome I read about in school for a day or two.”
I looked to Rita. “I’ve said some mean things about Charlotte, I know. But if she’s sick that explains a lot,” she said, wringing her hands.
Tamika said, “Can we talk about this over dinner? I’m really hungry.” So I served the curry and beer, discovering that it was one of Rita’s favorite dishes.
“This is a veggie curry? You don’t eat meat, Frank?” asked Rita. “I didn’t realize that. I don’t either.”
“I don’t advertise it. Everyone thinks I’m preaching at them. Makes them feel guilty.”
“I know what you mean. I really want this recipe, though,” Rita smiled and looked meaningfully at Tamika.
“I got it from the chef at Naan Apetit. Ever eaten there?”
“No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded,” she giggled.
“That’s Yogi Berra! You’ve heard of Yogi?”
“My dad quoted him all the time.” She said looking as unguarded and relaxed as I’d ever seen her. I was feeling a surprising comfort in her presence myself. Tamika just smiled to herself.
“I hate to spoil the mood,” sighed Tamika, “but we should have a plan for tomorrow. We’re all working. We need be able to talk to Charlotte then.”
So we pushed our plates aside and I showed them what I’d found on interventions. Tamika, her training guiding her, argued for bringing in professionals if my armchair diagnosis was right and she agreed to give my plan one chance. She wanted to keep Chatterley alive, too. I guess she was too invested in her self-directed field work to give that up yet. We agreed it would be a difficult meeting with Charlotte and that our futures would definitely change unpredictably depending on how it played out.
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