Monthly Archives: February 2019

Parental Deception; chapter two, part one

“Man, I’m tired of this job,” Darla Quinn, one of my coworkers, grumbles, her fingers flying over her keyboard.

“Tell me about it,” I say, checking my lists to see what I need to tackle first. It’s too early in the morning for talking, but Darla is my favorite coworker, so I will give her the time of the day when I wouldn’t to other people. We are telemarketers who try to get people to buy shit they don’t need. We push a wide variety of products, but our best sellers are Groupon coupons.

“Jimmy says I should just quit. He makes enough for both of us.” Jimmy is Darla’s newest beefcake who is as smart as he is pretty. He’s an inventor of a gadget that makes it easier to tie your shoes, and he’s rolling in it. “The problem is, I don’t want to be a kept woman. He’s making noises about us moving in together, and I’m tired of finding reasons why we shouldn’t do it.”

“Girl, I feel you. Rembrandt has mentioned it already, and we’ve only been dating a month.” I sigh in sympathy. We look at each other and roll our eyes.

“I thought boys were supposed to be the commitment-phobes,” Darla says, pushing her bangs out of her eyes. She’s wearing a smartly-tailored pink blouse and a pale blue pencil skirt. Before she started dating Jimmy, she was a casual dresser. She’s certainly smartened up since she began banging Jimmy, I’ll give him that much.

“I haven’t found that to be true,” I reply, keeping an eye out for Cara O’Donnell, our supervisor. She’s pretty chill, but she doesn’t like us to waste too much of company time. “All my serious boyfriends wanted to move in together within six months of us dating. Some of my girlfriends were content to wait longer than that.”

“I would totally be into chicks if it weren’t for the cock,” Darla says, her grin wicked. “I can’t give up a good dicking.” We laugh heartily, then we return to our work. I have several lists I have to get through today, so I skip lunch to get it done.

When I get home, I have several texts from my sisters. The ones from Viv tell me that she’s unhappy about ‘that man’ coming to Thanksgiving dinner and that she’s staying in Minnesota for a week. I text her back and say that I’m not happy, either, but I don’t know what to do about it. We gripe about it for several texts before we call it quits. I also have a few texts from Jasmine. She talked to that man again today, and she’s more convinced than ever he’s our father. Speaking of him, he’s sent me an email saying he’d like to take me out to dinner tonight. I don’t remember giving him my email, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he weaseled it out of Jasmine. I ignore his email because I don’t want to go and because I have to leave for taiji in ten minutes. I feed the cats their treats, then rush upstairs to change. I grab my weapons bag, my iced bottle of water, and head to the studio. I make it there with two minutes to spare.

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Parental Deception; chapter one, part two

“Hello, Megan. Didn’t we just talk?” Jasmine’s voice is mellow, unlike it was while Bob was missing.

“Yes, but something weird just happened.” I breathe smoothly and softly before adding, “A man claiming he’s our father was just here, and he’s on his way to your house.”

“What?!!” The ease leaves Jasmine’s voice, and she sounds like I did when the man made his announcement. “Are you making a joke, Megan? If so, it’s not funny.”

“I’m not! This old Taiwanese man showed up on my doorstep and said he was our father. He had a letter he wrote us to prove it. Mom sent it back unopened.” I blurt it out, not wanting to hold anything in.

“I can’t believe this,” Jasmine says, her voice taut. “I do not need this right now. Not after the last few weeks!”

“I know. But, he’s on his way, so you better prepare yourself—and Bob.”

“I guess. I’ll talk to you later.” Jasmine clicks off, and I call Vivian next.

“Hey, Sis. What’s up?” Her voice is distracted as it often is. “You caught me at a good time; I just finished a statement piece on the horseshit that is Donald Trump.”

“Better you than me,” I reply. “Are you coming for Thanksgiving? Jasmine said you might, but that you haven’t bought a ticket yet.”

“I’m coming. Pablo knows someone who works for Delta, so we won’t have a problem getting tickets.” Pablo is her lover, and he’s also an artist. Pablo’s not his real name, though. He adopted the moniker when he decided he wanted to be an artist. His real name is Peter Jorgenson, but he refuses to answer to anything other than Pablo. You wouldn’t think he was such a diva just by looking at him. He’s six-feet tall with blond hair and dark blue eyes. He has a muscular built, and he looks as if he belongs on the cornfields of Wisconsin—which is exactly where he grew up. He’s also fifteen years younger than Viv’s forty-two years, but I’m not one to talk as Rembrandt is thirteen years younger than my forty-five. “We’re coming Wednesday afternoon, and we’re staying with Jasmine.”

“That’s great! I can’t wait to see you.” I haven’t seen my younger sister in a few years, and I’m looking forward to her visit. “I have to tell you something. A man claiming to be our father came to my house tonight.”

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Parental Deception; chapter one, part one

“I know Thanksgiving is this Thursday, Jasmine,” I say, pacing my living room floor. “I can read a calendar as well as you can.” Onyx and Jet, my two black cats, sister and brother, pace alongside me. Onyx is mewing at me, and Jet is watching her back, as always. Onyx is five pounds of fluffy attitude, whereas Jet is close to four times her size and pure muscle. He’s content to take a backseat to his more vocal sister, however, which has been their pattern since I got them eight years ago when they were six months old. I fan my waist-length black hair away from my neck as I’m suddenly hot. Perimenopause is no joke, yo.

“You’re delegated to make the pies—whatever kind you like.” My older sister has been in charge of family functions since we were kids, and she’s not above bossing me around.

“I’ll make one pumpkin and one sweet potato. How many people are going to be there?” I make a note to myself because I’ll forget if I don’t. It’s my passive-aggressive way of getting back at Jasmine for being such a control  freak.

“Me, Bob, Coral, Jamal, the twins, Jordan, Joanna, and their three kids as well. Vivian said she’d try to make it, but she hasn’t booked her tickets, yet.” Vivian is our younger sister who lives in Boston and is an artist. She has no concept of time or responsibility to others. It’s not that she’s thoughtless, but that she’s focused on her art most of the time. Bob’s sister and her family lives out of state, and I’ve never met any of them. Jordan and Joanna live in NYC, so they must be flying out for the holiday. Jasmine’s other two kids, Robert Jr. and Michael, live in California and Florida, respectively, and won’t be able to make it this year. “Oh! Bring that guy you’re dating. It’s about time I met him. I want to make sure he’s a good match for you.”

“I’m not sure about that,” I demur. “We’ve only been dating a little over a month, so I don’t want to spook him.”

“You’re not getting any younger, Megan. It’s time for you to settle down.” Jasmine’s eight years older than I am, and she was a second mother to me after our father left when I was three, and my mother started quietly drinking herself to death. That’s why I put up with Jasmine talking to me as if I’m an idiot, but only for a limited amount of time.

“It’s been a month,” I reiterate, keeping my voice even. “He probably wants to go to his mother’s, anyway.”

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Marital Duplicity; chapter fourteen

“I hate Monday mornings,” Darla grumbles, a yawn swallowing most of her words.

“Me, too,” I say in fervent agreement. I’m on my second cup of coffee already, and it’s not going to be nearly enough to get me through the day. I barely made it to work on time, so I dive right into my lists. I don’t take a breather until lunch, and even then, I only take ten minutes to eat my ham sandwich. After lunch, I power through the rest of the afternoon, becoming increasingly nervous about the night’s adventure. I don’t want to fuck things up—I just want to bring Bob home. I clock out at five and grab a turkey sub from Subway on my way home. I’m not going to have time for a sit-down meal, so I need to eat whatever I can, quickly. I also stop at Cub to pick up some bottled water, a wrapped sandwich, and some fruit for Bob when I find him.

When I get home, I feed Onyx and Jet their treats before gobbling down half my sub. I give them each a sliver of turkey, so they’re happy campers. Afterwards, I take a shower and change into black slacks and a black turtleneck. I don’t know why I’m going into stealth ninja/thief mode, but it seems appropriate. I cuddle with the cats on the bed for ten minutes before going downstairs. My doorbell rings at exactly six, and I go to let Lydia in. She’s dressed in all black as well. Onyx and Jet jump up on her as she enters, and she spends a few minutes greeting them in a friendly fashion. Once they’re done, I grab my bag, and we take off in my car.

“How’re you feeling?” Lydia asks as I head up I-35W.

“Nervous. Tense. Hoping this is the end,” I say, keeping my eyes on the road. I don’t like driving when it’s light out, let alone dark. I have terrible night vision, and I find myself more reluctant to drive at night the older I get.

“Slow, steady breaths,” Lydia counsels, demonstrating for me. I join her, and I do feel minutely better. “Also, tuck your chin as you drive, and pull your head up by the topmost point. It’ll help you focus.” I follow her instructions, and I’m instantly more awake. We don’t talk much on the way up to the cabin. I’m too nervous to chat, and I think Lydia is respecting that. It takes forty-five minutes to reach the cabin, and when we get there, I shut down the car and turn to face Lydia.

“I think I should go in by myself to suss out the situation, but maybe you could stand guard at the door in case Hayley comes later?” I grab my bag as Lydia nods.

“Oh, hey. I have lock picks.” She pull them out of her pocket and waves them at me. “One of my students sometimes trades lock pick knowledge for lessons.”

“Cool.” We get out of the car and approach the cabin. There’s one light on, and I peek through a window. I gasp because I can see Bob tied to a bed, spread-eagled, with ropes, I think. He’s shirtless, but his pants don’t seem too grimy. Just as I thought, Hayley is keeping him in decent shape. I wiggle the doorknob, but it’s locked, of course. Lydia applies the picks to the knob, and after a minute, she pops it open. “Wait here,” I say to Lydia, and she nods in return. She assumes a relaxed stance, but I can see her eyes scanning the environment around her.

“I’m on it,” she says, and I’m reassured. Taking a deep breath, I open the door and go in.

“Bob, it’s me, Megan.” I brace myself for what I’m about to encounter, but it’s not as bad as I expected. The cabin is clean and heated, and there’s no piss or shit anywhere to be seen or smelled. It’s clear that Hayley comes every day, if not more often, and I don’t know whether to be relieved or upset by it.

“Megan? Is that really you?” Bob’s voice is hoarse, as to be expected.

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Marital Duplicity; chapter thirteen, part three

I go into the living room, Onyx and Jet hot on my tail. I pull up my website, and I’ve gotten a lively set of responses to my post about secrets and lies in relationships. MNborn writes, “My marriage was a hot mess of secrets, mostly on my husband’s part. He was fucking anything in a skirt that moved—but he vehemently denied it if I ever brought it up. It was crazy-making for me—I knew he was cheating on me, but he would never admit it. Talk about gaslighting! He also gambled away his earnings and mine. When I divorced him a year later, I was poorer in the wallet and in friends—because he fucked them—but richer in mental health.” NYOnMyMind muses, “My mother raised me to believe that my first and only goal was to be a wife and mother. That’s all she was, and she was miserable, though she would never say that out loud. My father was a good man, but ineffectual against her rages. He would disappear in a book when she went off on a rant, and I learned to follow suit.” CallMeJoe adds his two cents. “My father was having an affair with my mother’s younger sister. My aunt was barely eighteen at the time. None of us knew for five years, including my mother. We only found out when he left my mom for my aunt, whom he then left a year later for their oldest sister. This was twenty years ago, and me and my five siblings haven’t talked to our father ever since.” InSaneIty shares, “It was an open secret that my mother was in and out of mental institutions for most of her adult life. My father would say she was away at a cousin’s, resting or some shit, but my three sisters and I knew the truth. We could see it in her behavior leading up to the lock-up. She’d swing from mania to depression in the blink of an eye, and she tried to kill herself on more than one occasion. She died five years ago while on one of her ‘rests’. I was sad about it, but also relieved. She was hard to live with when she wasn’t locked up.”

There’s a small group of commenters who insist that their relationships are completely honest, transparent, and free of lies. The other commenters take them to task, but I don’t bother. If someone is deep in denial, it’s dangerous to take that away from them. One thing I learned in Psych 101 was that you don’t remove someone’s coping mechanism if you don’t have anything to replace it with. Even bad coping mechanisms are better than nothing. In addition, who am I to say that they’re lying? I’m sure there are relationships that are mostly honest and healthy, but I haven’t seen many of them. My friend Liz and her husband, Frankie, are as close as it gets to a great relationship. Before the last few weeks, I would have said Jasmine and Bob also had a solid relationship. Now, I know better. It’s not to say they can’t recoup what they once had, but it’s going to take work.

Speaking of Bob, I need to read his emails. The last time I asked Jasmine for his password, however, she got mad  and refused to give it to me. She might feel differently this time because she’s more desperate now, but I wouldn’t count on it. I decide to be sneakier about it, even though it makes me feel slimy. I know his Gmail account is My bet is that he’s not very creative with his passwords. I try Jasmine, and I’m in. I make a mental note to tell him to change it later, but for now, I shake off my feeling of discomfort and read his emails. Most of them are mundane and about church or business. He doesn’t have them in folders, so it’s a slog to scroll through them. I see a thread from Hayley, and I open it up. I start from the beginning, which was three weeks ago. In her email to him, she’s whining about her husband and having to stay home with her baby. His response is compassionate and thoughtful, but with a tinge of impatience. I have the feeling that he’s heard it a million times before, and he’s getting tired of it. I would be, too, if I were him. I have little patience for people who want to wallow in their own misery.

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Marital Duplicity; chapter thirteen, part two

After lunch, I do the dishes while Rembrandt goes up to take a shower. I don’t mind him still being in the house, much to my surprise. I would have thought I’d be itching to have him leave by this time, but I’m not. It’s only having him in my bed that I’m not keen on, but the rest of it? I’m not unpleased to have him around. Ginger, Onyx, and Jet are chirping at me as I go to the living room. I chirp back at them. I throw a catnip mouse to each of them, and I watch in amusement as they go nuts over their prey. Onyx starts zooming after ingesting her nip, whereas Jet lies on his back and waves his massive paws in the air. Ginger’s eyes are dilated as she chases after Onyx. I laugh as Ginger pounces on Onyx, and Onyx whaps Ginger across the nose. They scrap with their claws retracted, so I let them have at it. Jet is rotating his paws in the air, and I start giggling helplessly at how ridiculous he looks. He has a goofy grin on his face as he waves ‘em like he just don’t care. Five minutes later, Rembrandt comes down the stairs, shirtless. I eye his chest with appreciation as he towels his hair.

“Look at the crazy cats!” I say, pointing at Onyx and Ginger, who are still scrapping. Jet is still waving his paws in the air, and Rembrandt laughs with me as he sits next to me on the couch. We both check out phones as we cuddle, but there’s not much going on. I’m still ignoring politics, and I don’t really care about football because I’m a Vikings fan, albeit a casual one. No matter how good they are in the beginning, they find a way to fuck it up in the end. Onyx and Ginger race around us in circles while Jet gives up his ‘dancing’ and falls asleep. He always crashes hard after a nip high, and he sleeps for a very long time. Onyx and Ginger tire themselves out after a half hour, and they collapse in a heap next to Jet and promptly fall asleep.

“This is nice,” Rembrandt says, nuzzling my cheek and placing his hand on my thigh. He squeezes it affectionately, but there’s no lust in it. I rub his knee as I nuzzle him back.

“It is,” I say, a hint of surprise in my voice. I’m not much of a domesticated person, but there’s something to be said about having someone to cuddle with.

“We could do this more often if we moved in together,” Rembrandt says casually. I stiffen at the suggestion, but I don’t want to argue.

“I’m not ready for that,” I say with a gentle smile. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for it, but I don’t tell him that.

“OK. I just want to put it out there that I wouldn’t mind.” Rembrandt squeezes my knee, but doesn’t press the issue.

“Duly noted,” I say, kissing him on the cheek. I’m relieved that he’s not being a dick about it, and he has the right to state his needs. I have the right to say that I don’t want to live together, too. It’s not a huge problem right now, but I know it will be soon. He’ll start pressing for us to spend more time together, and he won’t be satisfied with stayovers every few days. I can maybe put up with having him spend the night two to three times a week, but not much more than that. I sigh a small sigh, but Rembrandt hears me.

“I’m not pushing—honestly,” Rembrandt says, kissing me on the forehead.

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Marital Duplicity; chapter thirteen, part one

“Gah.” I sit upright as my phone bleeps Jasmine’s ring. “What?” I glance over at Rembrandt, who is as still as if he’s dead. I poke him in the shoulder and am gratified to see him roll over so I know he’s not dead.

“I got a note. Under my door. I can’t believe it, Megan!” Jasmine’s voice is hysterical, and I yank the phone from my ear. It’s fucking seven in the morning, and I didn’t fall asleep until after three in the morning.

“A note? What note?” I’m not tracking because I’m not fully awake. I need to be up for at least two hours and have five cups of coffee inside of me before I can form a sentient thought.

“A note from some woman! It says Bob is with her and that I should stop looking. Otherwise, I might end up like Reverend Yang!” Jasmine bursts into tears, and I can barely understand her. “Megan, will you come over and go to church with me? Reverend Yang won’t be there, of course, but we will have a service.”

“Jasmine—” I stop. I have no good reason not to go, except that I don’t want to and I’ll have to miss my taiji class. “OK. I’ll be there in an hour.” I get up and write a note for Rembrandt who is still out cold. I tell him that I have to go to church with my sister and that I’ll be back later. I let him know he can stay for as long as he likes. I put it on the nightstand next to his side of the bed before taking a quick shower. I put on a plain black dress and coil my hair on top of my head. Silver hoops, and I’m done. I give the cats more Temptations before slipping out of the house. I’m on my way to Jasmine’s house, and I make it in good time.

“Megan. I’m so glad to see you.” Jasmine grabs me in a bear hug, and she seems disinclined to let me go. She’s weeping all over my dress, but I don’t do anything. I allow her to squeeze the stuffing out of me for several more minutes before I step away from her. “I’m a mess,” Jasmine says, mopping her eyes. “Here.” She thrusts a folded piece of paper in my face, and I take it from her. I unfold it and read it. “Dear Jasmine, you don’t know me, but I know you. Your husband is with me, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Stop looking for him; he doesn’t want to be found. If you or your sister keeps asking questions about him, you’re going to end up like Reverend Yang.”

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Marital Duplicity; chapter twelve, part two

I’ve been thinking about sex a lot lately. It’s supposedly a natural act, and yet, we make such hash about it. By we, I mean we humans. We make it convoluted and complicated, sometimes sucking the joy right out of it. We’ve infused it with sanctimony and put ridiculous constraints on it. It’s a wonder we have sex at all.

I’ve been told I’m not womanly because I don’t think sex has to be coupled with love in order to be enjoyable. It’s a tired trope that men can have sex without feelings, but that a woman cannot. I once told a female friend of mine that I would look at people on the street and think about whether I would have sex with them or not. She was aghast and told me women didn’t do that. I looked at her as if she had grown another head. She was saying to my face that what I said I did, I didn’t actually do. Or else, she was telling me that I was not a woman. Later, in talking to another female friend, she said she did the same thing. I shouldn’t have needed the outside collaboration, but it was a relief to know that I wasn’t the only one. I feel like a freak much of the time, and I don’t need someone calling me a liar to my face.

I learned a long time ago that I think about sex differently than most women. I have a high libido, and I would love to have sex every day. I’ve been very upfront with potential partners about how much I love sex, and most men are intrigued and titillated—at first. But, then when they realize I actually mean what I said, they freak out. They get hung up on thinking that they can’t satisfy me, and nothing I could say would reassure them. Sometime in my thirties, I realized what produced this gap in expectation. Many of my male ex-partners have been with women who weren’t truthful about how much they liked sex. They made their partners feel like twice a week was a lot. So, when I said I wanted sex every day, they assumed I was exaggerating. Then, when I proved I was actually as horny I said I was, that threw my partners for a loop.

It’s frustrating as hell to not be taken seriously. I don’t know if my ex-partners were just too happy to get into my pants to pay attention to what I was saying or if they really thought I was exaggerating, but I learned pretty quick not to take a man at face value when he said he loved a woman with a high sex drive. I’ve only had one male partner who matched me in that department, sadly. Ironically, I’ve had no problems with my female partners, which is my anecdotal proof that women are just as into sex as men are, if not more.

I write two more thousand words because I have plenty to say on this subject. I wish I had known when I was in my early twenties that my high libido wasn’t a fluke or a flaw. I wasted too many years worrying about hurting my (male) partner’s ego in the sack, and I refuse to do it any longer. Any man who feels threatened by my ‘insatiable’ need for sex isn’t welcome in my bed. So far, Rembrandt has been willing and able every time I want to have sex, but we’ll see if that continues. In several of my past relationships, the sex had been plentiful and hot in the first few weeks before it fell off. It’s hard to tell with Rembrandt because we met under inauspicious circumstances. We met at First  Ave, and then Julianna was murdered a few days later. I saw Rembrandt a few times after that, but then his eye was gouged out in an attack by my stalker. He spent most of his time the week after rehabbing, but he managed to squeeze me in a few times. We didn’t have sex that first week he was home from the hospital, but we did, carefully, the second. I still don’t know how often he’d prefer to have sex, but I’ve made it clear that I want it as often as possible.

I get several responses to my latest post. SassyBrunette writes, “I’m a woman in my late thirties, and I only date guys in their early twenties because they can get it up early and often. The one time I dated a guy my age, he was in bed by ten-thirty after watching the news, and he was satisfied to have sex three times a week. I dumped his ass after three months of that bullshit. Right now, my paramour is a twenty-year-old sophomore studying biology. MINE!” AloneButNotLonely says, “I’m a single woman in my late fifties. Back when I was a teenagers, girls were supposed to say no whenever they were pressed for sex. The trouble was, I never wanted to say no; I always wanted to say yes. Which I did more often than not. That got me in trouble with my parents who didn’t want a slut for a daughter. They sent me off to boarding school for the rest of high school. Girls only. There were teachers, though, and some of them were male—and willing to get it on with a randy teenage girl. Fast-forward thirty-plus years, and you’ll find me on my couch watching the NFL more often than not, alone. When I do have company, it’s only for a night—two at the most. I like my privacy and plenty of legroom.” JackinIt contributes, “I am a guy in my forties, and I’ve always had a hard time with the idea that men are supposed to want sex all the time. My last three girlfriends dumped me because I’d rather talk about Nietzsche and Flaubert than have sex any day of the week. One of them called me a faggot, saying I must be into men because I wouldn’t even look at her. Truth be told, she disgusted me with her voracious appetites for Iris Johansen books and reality TV shows. I’m better off when I’m alone.”

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