We see him driving, the concrete unspooling like an endless carpet in the world’s largest casino; gray and stained with sweat and unrequited hopes. The vastness of America catches the unwary—not vast like Siberia or Africa—but the green demarcations of exits and mileage remaining to safe haven, become a life raft you impatiently watch bob up over the horizon.
Flyover country—sneeringly patronized by those perched on couches in front of bi-coastal cameras. He feels the thump-thump of synthetic rubber trailing microns behind with every revolution.
His words still reverberate in the diner, a catalyst that goads a wounded soul to action.
Tamara shows up Saturday morning, her disguise of frumpy hausfrau unsurprisingly mundane. Most attendees could be her clones, all searching for a spark, dog-eared tablets clutched to chest, the ereader explosion replacing the autograph book. Some seek to rekindle first love from a time when cynicism was the fiercely guarded territory of mysterious elders.
They are now the elders. Their childhoods returned threefold.
She is not here for that. It’s not in her nature to be a fangirl. In fact, she isn’t quite sure why she quit her job and rode a bus for three hours, on the off chance the man with the rental car really meant what he didn’t say.
Observe her enter the room, she hugs the wall in loving embrace, chooses a chair, near the back, half-hidden by teased bouffant creations and Estee Lauder clouds. She holds the crinkled brochure over her nose, eyes peep mouse-like; if she had whiskers, they would be madly twitching.
He knows she’s there. There is time for action and time for seduction. It is the latter.
He speaks, introduces the panel, and talks about the causal link between feminism and submission: Freedom from drudgery allows empowerment to offer body as equals. The undercurrents in the audience are both subtle and treacherous. It’s easy for a white man to spout entitlement as if spraying sperm on the front row. Fertilization after all has many different meanings.
For Tamara—a Latina/Native American/Italian mongrel—the dangers of choosing the wrong partner[s][s][s] have left scars in every dimension. She listens to him moderate the discussion; most of the esoteric arguments are dandelion tufts seeking colonies in more fertile minds than hers. She watches the others mostly; their blatant flirtations and copulatory signals bounce away as if he doesn’t sense them.
Does he even notice? Is he gay? Is that why he invited her?
Her random thoughts prick like soap bubbles in the sun. Her self-defense mechanisms—always gleaming and rust free—close shutters and prime weapons. This time, she’s not going down without a fight.
What she doesn’t know is that he’s already in her control room and her defenses recognize him as safe.
You would suppose, after we witness his skillful extraction from the smiling crowd of pheromone emitting females; he has no interest in a companion, or two. That—in fact—is a slippery slope. Seduction to consummation is a yawning chasm for one who prefers conversation to a random tumble. Besides, he already knows whom he wants. We watch as he leads Tamara away as if they were a bonded pair already. Sustenance, and explanations—beckon us onward. Shall we follow?
She picks at her food—the diner was far superior fare—mostly because she studies the man across the plastic table. Tamara has to, must know why he selected her before she can consider the consequences. ‘What makes a spanko tick?’
Caught in mid-bite, he finishes chewing, sips his soda and, after wiping his fingers, reaches across and takes her in hand. ‘For me, it’s in my nature to desire a woman over my knee. Not to subjugate necessarily, although, please don’t misunderstand, punishment is not something I shy away from: No, it’s because all the attraction I feel for a woman begins with her bottom and ends with her mind. Everything else in between is the glorious territory of love and respect.’
‘So spanking for you is like… foreplay?’
‘No, Tamara, more like a handshake. A friendly greeting, much as a hug or peck on the cheek.’
She is rattled: the violence inherent in the submissive posture his words have offered, strikes too close to home in memories of fists and booted feet. The familiar adrenaline blanches her olive skin, her mind retreats to the safe room. I’m here for you. A gentle whisper, she turns inside out and sees him waiting there, patiently smiling. She allows his guidance as they leave the convention: for her, all convention flew away long ago. But now, sunlight floods the dark spaces of her soul. Sprouts of emotions buried for survival’s sake, unfurl in the warmth of his regard. She cannot think. Nor, does she wish to.
Wow! Cries the reader. No way! Life doesn’t happen that way. Fine, maybe there are good guys out there, but good guys don’t go around telling woman they want to spank them! Do they?
A mile down the road is the hotel. He calls it GWC—Generic World Clone. He swipes the card at the side entrance, no need to parade his captive through the lobby. The elevator to the fourth floor, right turn; fifteen doors down on the left is room 425. A queen size bed awaits, maid service come and gone for the day.
He perches at the foot of the bed, after draping his jacket over the back of the chair. The water runs in the compact bathroom; on purpose he left the room door ajar, resting on the safety latch. If she runs, he will not chase.
In the mirror, a worn woman appears ghostly in the harsh artificial light. What happened to the carefree girl I never had a chance to be? His words have warmed her as none have ever done before. She makes an easy decision: The solid thump of the closing door is followed by the sharp clack of deadbolt and clink of latch.
‘Are you right-handed?’
She takes a deep breath and exhales loudly. Then another. She stands at attention, right angle to his seated thighs. ‘Hi. My name is Tamara. It’s a pleasure to meet you.’
Awkwardly—for he does not touch her at all—she bends forward and lies down over his knees. Her hands press the sheared carpet, her shoes slip until she digs in.
‘Hello, Tamara, likewise, it is a great pleasure to meet you. You may call me… Sir.’