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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beach Tales -- Coming in June! (free preview)

Just before the turn of the millennium, 1998 to be exact, I began as a writer for for Tropic, the Miami Herald Sunday Magazine. My beat was South Beach. One of the reasons I accepted the job was the fact that Tropic published a short story every week in a column called True Lies. Mine became a frequent feature before the greedy publisher and his minions in the bean-counting department decided that the magazine, while profitable, wasn't profitable enough. (Maybe Tony Ridder needed some new polo ponies?)

Anyway, I wrote some weird and wacky tales. Now I'm publishing those stories, along with a couple that got rejected as too racy -- as a collection. The inimitable Chaz de Bourbon of BGAstudios.com is designing a cover for the ebook, which will also serve as the cover for the paperback which we'll release later in the summer.

The ebook will be free in the Kindle store for 4 days in June. Please watch this blog for the announcement. Meanwhile, here's one of the rejected stories for your reading pleasure. Enjoy! (it's a bit twisted.)


CUFF QUOTIENT
Harry lies in bed in the dark with Jennifer, his wife for slightly more than a year, asleep beside him.  Aghast. Shocked. Harry ponders what his twin brother said earlier. Appalled. That's the word. Harry wishes Harvey had never told him.
Earlier in the day Harry told Harvey that a divorced friend of Jennifer's was interested.  "I can't go out with her," Harvey replied. He knew who she was. "She'd never let me toilet train her."
"She'd never let you what?" Harry asked. 
"Toilet train her. Look, what I do on the first date with a woman -- I take her home, give her the tour of the house. When we get to the master bath, I push her down and handcuff her to the toilet. Then I leave her there and go out for a couple of hours. Have a cocktail. Smoke a cigar. That's what I do, Harry. I can't get it off anymore with a woman unless I toilet train her first. The excitement begins as I hear them calling out. Some try to pretend it’s a joke. As I get closer to the front door, the anxiety level in their voices seems to rise proportionately. Then the anticipation builds and builds while I’m out.  It's exhilarating."
Harvey says he discovered his "technique" in Tegucigalpa several years ago. He was there buying cotton cloth and a young freelance American photographer confronted him in his hotel room as he was about to go out to a business dinner. She accused him of being a CIA agent.
Harvey likes to drop hints that he is an operative, and then deny it, adding credence of course. Harry knows that. He thought it helped Harvey get them better prices. He didn't know that Harvey took handcuffs with him on business trips.  "Sometimes I even get a gun once I'm in country, if it's convenient."
"What's this 'in country' crap, Harvey? This is me now. You're not a spy. You were never in the military. Get real." 
Appalled is definitely the word. Harry had let himself believe that Harvey adopted the crew cut look as a comfort measure, as part of doing business in the tropics. "Your charade is out of control. You need psychiatric help."
"Oh please. I do not. I never should have told you, Harry. I knew you couldn't handle it."
They were sitting across from each at their partners' desk, feet up, Friday cigars burning. Harvey laughed when Harry said, "I can handle it. I can handle anything." Harry then asked for details, to bolster his nonchalance. "Did you at least tell the girl you weren't CIA? After you did her, I mean?"
"Don't you want to know how she acted when I let her up, when I unshackled her? She was all over me. Her tongue was everywhere. She was laughing and sobbing and gabbling like a goose; blathering about knowing herself, about coming face to face with herself.
“It was beautiful. It's still beautiful. Every time.  But as good as it is now, it's never as good as it was in Tegucigalpa. That first time was something special."
Harry is wild eyed in the dark at the fresh knowledge that his twin has been at this twist of his for several years. Fraternal. Not maternal, he tells himself. Keep that in mind. He's your fraternal twin.  You're not identical.
Now, though, the women Harvey goes out with make sense. It always seems to Harry that Harvey could do better. They all seem, well, cowed. Harry sometimes suggests that his brother bring some new gal "out for some bourjwah backyard BBQ." Harvey always declines with a shake of his head and terse chuckle, saying "It's not that kind of thing."
Now Harry knows what kind of thing it is. He knows, too, that he can't tell Jennifer anything about this.  Good God no. Harvey has it all wrong. Doesn't he? The scene in the office flashes back again.
"You asked me if I told her I wasn't CIA. Of course I did. I told her I was Mossad. I think it sounds sexier. Mossad are really tough."
"You're going to get arrested."
"In Tegucigalpa? I don't think so. We never do business there anymore."
"You didn't . . . you didn't hurt her, Harvey?"
"No! Of course not. Believe it or not, she still calls me and leaves messages on my answering machine every so often when she’s passing through Miami."
"You can't keep this up. You can't just go on shackling women to your toilet." 
"Of course I can. They love it."
"You really are going to get into legal trouble. You're going to get arrested."
"For what? Having sex?
“It’s not sex, Harvey. It’s unlawful imprisonment. It’s illegal.”
“I can tell the women who'll go for it right away. I can pick 'em out walking down the street. I've only had the cops show up once."
"The cops?!  You see."
Harvey ignored the interruption. "I didn't answer the door, had all the lights out by the time they showed up. What were they going to do? Kick the door in? For what? I didn't rape her. What could she prove? Nothing. She was a little hysterical, that’s all. The cops get hysterical women calling all the time. She never pressed charges. I never heard anymore about it. So I misjudged once. Believe me -- I know what I'm doing." 
"This is more information than I need, Harvey."
"It's exactly the information you do need, Harry."
"Those poor women. You just leave them there for hours?"
"I go out and have a drink, maybe a bite to eat, smoke a cigar. Like I said. The anticipation is great, incredible. Anticipation is really the most important part of sex."
"How do you spot them, Harvey? Where do you spot them? How do you meet them? What? Do you walk up to a woman in the mall and say, ‘Hi. I’d like to handcuff you to my toilet.’ I can’t imagine. Are there special places where you meet people like this? "Listen to you now. What? You want to join the club? I just know, Harry. It's in their eyes, in the way they droop their shoulders. A lot of things. I just know.  Like I know about Jennifer. She'd love being shackled."
"Jennifer?! You're crazy! My Jennifer? You're out of your goddam mind."
"Toilet train her, Harry. It'll be good for your marriage. Believe me. We're twins. I know what kind of woman you chose."
Jennifer stirs beside Harry in the bed. He slips his hand between the mattress and the box spring and his fingers find the chromium loops of the cuffs Harvey gave him. Harry lets his hand rest there. Tonight he only wants to feel the steel. That's all. Just feel the steel.

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