Sunday, May 07, 2006

You asked for more sex

But you're not really going to get it.

Click on "Read More! Maybe" to read more. Really.


“It’s true, Hank,” Annabelle said, her blue eyes flashing. “I married your brother to spite you. Sure, you lusted after me, just like all the other men I’ve known. But I wanted more from you - I wanted something you could never give me: your heart. Earl was decent man, a lonely man, and his proposal gave me the opportunity I needed to show you that I was more than a tumble in the hay, that I could be loved. I wanted you to see what you missed.”

“But it’s not the whole truth, Annabelle,” Hank said sincerely. He stepped closer, driving her back against the barn wall. He was standing so close now, smelling of old leather and horseflesh from the long days he spent breaking in the new stallion, Wildfire. “I always wanted you. Not just the way a man wants a woman. After Corrine died, I thought for certain that I had buried my heart with her. I thought I would never again love a woman with my entire body and soul.” Annabelle gasped as hank wrapped his sun-bronzed arm around her waist and pulled her hard against him. “But then I saw you, Annabelle! Even though the grass has hardly begun to grow over my brother’s grave, I want you to marry me. I want you to be my wife!”

“Oh, Hank!” Annabelle cried, melting into the strong circle of his sun-bronzed arms. “If only I had known before it was too late!”

“Tell me it isn’t too late, Annabelle. Tell me you still love me!”

“I do love you, Hank, I do!” Tears glistened in her eyes as she adoringly gazed up at him. “I love you with all my heart. But it is to late for us, Hank.”

“Annabelle, what do you mean?”

“I have a terrible secret that I have been keeping from all of you, even Earl. Once you hear it, Hank, you may not love me anymore.”

“Nothing could make me stop loving you, Annabelle. Nothing!” he declared, lowering his lips to meet hers. His skillful hands quickly freed her from her high-neck blouse, revealing the milk-white mounds of her bosom. She gasped as he lowered his head to taste the tender flesh, a hence unheard of passion rising up within her like a fire. Hank reached under her skirt and-

And what? Was she wearing under there?

“Did women in the Old West wear bloomers?” Henry quietly wondered aloud.

“Why do I get the feeling that you are not quite with us, Mr. Kitteridge?” a cool, vaguely European voice asked.

Henry glanced at the speaker of the phone on the desk in front of him. It was very late at night. Hazy yellow light was shining through the room’s tall, unadorned windows from the street, streaking across the slick wooden floors of Henry’s condo. Low, squarish furniture lurked in the semi-darkness. The only concentrated source of light was the computer monitor on Henry’s lap. Henry was leaning back in a chrome and leather chair, his stockinged feet resting on the corner of his desk, which was strewn with notebooks and heavily scribbled paper.

“Oh, I’m here all right, Klunk,” Henry sighed ruefully.

“I don’t think you understand the gravity of the situation, Mr. Kitteridge,” the voice said peevishly. “I would be obliged if you would grant this emergency conference its due respect. And I would prefer to be addressed as Mr. Klunk.”

“Believe me, Klunk, I am taking it very seriously,” Henry replied, ignoring Klunk’s remark. Henry had met many disagreeable people during his years in the Coalition - it was inevitable, really - but there were certain types that he found more irksome than others. Klunk belonged to this category. High strung, fussy, and insidiously opportunistic, the man couldn’t be trusted to watch a bicycle if it wasn’t certain to gain him favor with someone powerful. Henry enjoyed annoying him. “I am operating under a deadline, and every minute this call occupies is a minute stolen from my work.”

“This is a priority conference, Mr. Kitteridge. Your ‘work’ will have to wait,” Klunk replied.

Henry opened his mouth to retort, but was another voice which emitted from the phone. “Let’s not quibble,” it said sternly. “Mr. Kitteridge is not the only one with prior engagements.” Henry recognized the voice at once: Mr. Cartwright, one of the senior members of the Eastern Coalition.

“Very well,” Klunk said primly. “I trust we may continue, Mr. Kitteridge, without further interruption?”

“You may,” Henry said in his most regally condescending voice. Klunk pointedly ignored him, a sure sign that Henry was definitely getting under Klunk’s skin now. He to smiled to himself.
“As I was saying, I have called this conference at the request of the Western Coalition-” Klunk began.

“I believe we have already covered that, Mr. Klunk,” interrupted a woman’s voice smoothly. Her accent was distinctly Southern. “Speaking for myself, I have no reason to doubt the legitimacy of your role here tonight. I may even venture to state that everyone present tonight shares a similar sentiment. Therefore, perhaps we should move ahead to the matter you wish to discuss without any further formalities.”

“As you will, Madam,” Klunk replied. The unctuousness of his tone was almost enough to raise Henry’s bile, assuming such a thing could be done. It had been a while. “For the past eight months the Western Coalition has been experiencing a series of minor security breaches. Taken individually, they were nothing to become overly concerned about. However, collectively, they appeared very troublesome. Very systematic, actually. Steps were taken to ascertain their source and purpose. A committee was formed to investigate. ”

Henry sat up in his chair. Minor security breaches were not uncommon; even major ones could happen if one was careless or foolhardy. But a sequence of interrelated breaches was another matter altogether. He clicked on “Save” and closed his laptop, sending the room suddenly into near darkness.

“What did they find?” inquired a new voice.

“Infiltration by an adversarial organization was suspected at first, but evidence quickly suggested otherwise,” Klunk said. “Rogue elements within the coalition were also eliminated. About eighteen weeks ago it was verified that the breach was the result of a lone vigilante. Two weeks ago this vigilante, a Mr. Theodore Kowalski, was apprehended and dealt with.”

“Did he have any family? A wife, children?” the Southern woman asked.


“And you said he was operating alone,” she said. “So the matter is closed. Why trouble us with it? This could have been reported at the quarterly meeting.”

“We are not certain that the matter is indeed closed, Madam,” Klunk said solemnly. “It is presumed that Mr. Kowalski kept records of his activities. If not that, then at least some notes. These vigilantes usually do. They like to have evidence. However, nothing was found.”

“Do you think he brought them to some authority?” Henry asked.

“We don’t know. Besides, who would believe him?”

“Klunk, it’s been a long night,” Henry said, loosing patience. “There is a protocol for situations like this. Advertise this Mr. Kowalski as a crank, and move on.”

“It is not a simple as that,” Klunk protested.

“Mr. Klunk,” said Mr. Cartwright, “What was Mr. Kowalski intending by compromising the Coalition?”

Klunk’s discomfort could be felt through the phone lines. “He was seeking the identity of the Chairperson,” Klunk said wretchedly. There were upwards of forty people in this conference call. Henry didn’t know it, but at the moment many of them were experiencing the same reaction as him.

Henry didn’t even know the identity of the Chairperson. Come to think of it, he didn’t even know if the Chairperson was a man or woman. He had never had cause to interact directly with him/her, and didn’t intend to, if he was lucky. Henry took pleasure in ruffling the occasional feather, but for the most part he laid low. He had learned early on that impartial witnesses generally had a much higher survival rate than those involved in a conflict. Instinct told him he should hang up the phone before it was too late. He could claim his cell phone had died. Yes, that was good idea…

“Was he successful?”

“We don’t know. That’s what is troubling us. The lack of paperwork suggests that he passed his
information on.”

“Do you have any idea who it was?”

“Most of Mr. Kowlaski’s relationships were superficial,” Klunk said. “He had acquaintances, not friends. He had a lady friend for several years, but except for one occasion, during the last six months they had not been in contact with each other.”

“And that one occasion?”

“Last week he mailed her a package,” Klunk said, “and three days ago she vanished.”

“Description?” someone asked. The fool!

Henry reached for the phone.

“5’-6”, dark hair, medium build. Possibly of Italian or Greek descent on her mother’s side. She worked in a yarn shop. Katherine Madsen. It is important that she is found at once, obviously. That is all,” Klunk said. “Compensation will be provided along the usual lines for results.”

Henry paused, his hand hovering over the telephone. A darkish woman who sold yarn? He abruptly stood, clicked on the task light above the desk. He had a clear view of his entryway. In it was a large black plastic bag, a couple of plastic stick-like things protruding from it.

“Or maybe Karen,” Klunk added. “We’re not clear on that point.”

Most of the callers had signed off when Henry heard someone say his name. He had spread the contents of the bag across his floor. He was bewildered by the sheer quantity of yarn, in all its textures and colors. It was like a Jackson Pollock on among the black and grays of his condo. And the other stuff – were they tools or toys? He couldn’t decide.

“Yes?” Henry replied, feeling overwhelmed.

It was Mr. Cartwright. “Victorian ladies did wear bloomers,” he said. “They were crotchless. Just so you know.”

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1 comment:

Jeanette said...

The plot thickens! I like the way you created and maintained the suspense.
And we still don't know her name!