Edited by Michael-Leonard
Paul Cullen was a self-employed programmer and computer consultant. He lived in a small two bedroom apartment in a fifty year-old garden apartment complex in northern New Jersey. The neighbors, mostly young adults, single or recently married and just starting out their lives, kept to themselves. The complex had been built adjacent to the state highway which served as a major access route to New York City. Every morning the bus stop at the corner was packed with commuters waiting for the next bus into the City and their places of employment.
That was how Paul had started his career; working for a large consulting firm in the City. Soon the daily grind, the late hours, the never-ending traffic and delays began to take their toll. As the firm had grown, management had started to ignore some of its smaller, not-as-profitable clients. When two of his clients complained to Paul about the poor service, he saw his opportunity to escape. He told them that if they would be patient with him, and if they sent the company a formal notification ending their contracts, he could serve their needs at night and on the weekends.
Six months later, after working the equivalent of two full time jobs, he submitted his resignation and set up his own consulting business. Careful not to run afoul of the non-compete clause he had signed when he first started, he built his business slowly, advertising in trade magazines, attending trade shows and encouraging word-of-mouth advertising by his clients. It took several more years of hard work, long hours, and frugal living, but he finally had a successful business and a comfortable, if not extravagant, life style.
One of his major customers was a company whose business was electrical parts distribution. They were a small player in an industry that was dominated by two or three extremely large and highly successful corporations. The company concentrated on the nuts and bolts of the industry, small parts with low markups; they were content in filling that niche. The two owners of the business knew that they would never be rich, but were satisfied making a decent living for themselves and a providing employment for about thirty hard-working employees. The writing was on the wall; within ten years, maybe sooner, they would be forced to sell the company because each year their client base, primarily small manufacturers, were moving overseas. Paul was well aware of this fact.
They also had a more pressing problem. Their systems and their hardware were old and outdated. It was 1995 and Y2K was looming over the horizon. The owners had given him the task of maintaining their existing systems and hardware instead of planning for an anticipated switchover to a Windows-based platform. Much of his efforts for the company were spent on finding used replacement equipment and program patches. He was spending more and more time there, after hours, just maintaining their systems.
The company was located in a large industrial park, near the New York/New Jersey state line, in a small run down warehouse. The offices were clean and neat, and every square foot was utilized for sales and sales support. The servers were located in a small area carved out of the warehouse; that's where his workstation was located. It was cold in the winter, and because of the large window air conditioner, noisy in the summer. It was usually nine or ten o'clock in the evening, sometimes later, when he would be finished for the evening. On the way home, he would stop at his favorite place for a late night dinner, Angel Heaven, a strip club located just outside of the complex. The place was relatively small with a three-sided bar, each side lined with fifteen stools. The beer taps were located at the corners and a narrow aisle for the bartenders separated the bar from the raised stage located in the center. The perimeter of the room was lined with small bar-height tables and chairs. The capacity of the room was about one hundred and twenty.
Angel Heaven was a blue collar joint. No fancy drinks, the décor was nondescript, the music was loud, and when the dancers were working so was the crowd. Paul normally avoided the place on Friday nights, that's when it was really crowed and trouble usually happened. During the week, however, it was a great place to get a great burger and a beer, and to get an eyeful of some of the most beautiful girls Paul had ever seen.
You see, Paul was a 30-year-old virgin. It was not that he was bad looking; he could best be described as cute. His blond hair, blue eyes and dazzling smile would have made him a real catch if it wasn't for his size. In his boots, he stood a mere five foot, five inches tall and weighed around one hundred and twenty pounds. Ever since he could remember he was always one of, if not the shortest, person in his class or where ever he worked. It seemed that girls looked upon him as a companion; a friend, not someone they wanted as a lover. That was the reason Paul buried himself into the world of computers; they didn't care about his size.
Being a semi regular, Paul had gotten to know Dave the bartender pretty well. When things were slow, Dave would park himself across from Paul and they would talk sports and current events or just watch the dancer. On one such occasion, Paul had noticed a set of rings handing from the rafters just above the stage.
"Hey Dave, what are the gymnastic rings for?"
"Those are for when Angel takes the stage."
"Angel, as in the owner?"
"That's her; you've never seen her act have you? You're usually gone by the time she comes on. You should plan on staying late one Friday night. She only works Friday nights, and usually comes on around midnight and puts on quite a show."
That became his plan for this particular evening. It was a Friday evening around ten thirty and he was determined to stay to catch Angel's act. Dave hadn't gone into any detail about it; "Why ruin the surprise?" He only said that tonight she was premiering a new act.
Around eleven the bar began to fill up with the regulars; the noise level increased noticeably. Suddenly there were shouts coming from directly behind him. Dave came running over in front of him shouting, "Hey you guys break it up."
As Paul spun around on his stool to see what was happening, a fight broke out right in front of him. A big guy was throwing punches in all directions as three smaller guys tried unsuccessfully to subdue him. Paul jumped off his stool in an effort to escape the melee. Instead, he ended up right in the middle of it. Before he could even think, the big guy hit him with a powerful right hand which sent him backwards against the bar. He sagged down to the floor between two stools, stunned.
As he began to regain consciousness, he could hear somewhere in the distance, someone, a woman he thought, shouting; there was more fighting going on but he didn't know where. Suddenly, two powerful hands were grabbing him by the front of his shirt and lifting him clear off the ground. The woman's voice was louder now, it seemed like it was right in front of him.
"I'll teach you to come into my place and try to break up the joint."
That's when everything seemed to happen at once. He felt one of the hands that were holding him let go; he heard Dave somewhere behind him shouting, "No Ang, stop," and his vision cleared just in time to see the massive right arm of the huge woman holding him up swing forward, her bare fist connecting solidly on the left side of his face. He felt an intense pain and then everything went black.
The sunlight was just beginning to shine into the room as the first morning rays edged over the horizon. He heard someone moan; and feeling the pain in face and the throbbing in his head, realized that it was him.
'Where am I?' he thought as he glanced around the room. He had to turn his head to see what was to his left because he couldn't see anything out of his left eye. That's when he saw her, sleeping in the chair next to the bed.
'She's the one that hit me. I've got to get out of here.'
He threw back the covers and tried to get out of bed. He immediately stopped; first of all his head started pounding even harder than before and second he realized that he was completely naked. He pulled back the covers and tried to think.
All the movement caused Angel to wake up.
"Oh, thank god you're awake; I thought I was going to have to take you to the hospital," she said as she stood up and walked over to the side of the bed.
He laid there, panic beginning to overwhelm him. She was the biggest woman he had ever seen. She was not just tall, she was huge; her shoulders were wide, her arms were thickly-muscled, her tee shirt was straining to contain her chest and it appeared close to losing the battle.
An off-duty EMT that had been in the bar last night had told her to watch him for signs of a possible concussion. After examining him, he had told her that nothing seemed to be seriously damaged, that the only thing Angel had to watch for was vomiting.
"He's out cold now, he'll probably just sleep until morning, don't let him out of your sight until then."
"How do you feel? Nauseous?"
"How do you think I feel? My face hurts like hell and my head is pounding."
The words slipped out before he realized it; the last thing he wanted to do was to antagonize this Amazon of a woman.
"Do you remember what happened last night?"
"Yeah, you hit me."
"Yes, that's true. I'm really sorry about that. I thought you were one of the guys that tried to jump Gus. He was the big guy. I was just coming down stairs to get ready for my act when I saw the fight break out. I turned the corner around the bar just when he hauled off on you. I thought you were with them. Three guys that Gus works with followed him here last night after work and tried to settle an argument that started at work. I don't tolerate fighting in my place; it's bad for business. I threw them all out after giving them something to remind them about my rules. I was about to do the same to you when Dave yelled to me. I'm so sorry; I just couldn't stop in time. He explained to me that you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's when I picked you up and carried you up here."
"Why am I naked?"
"I had to get you out of your bloody clothes before I could put you in my bed. Gus must have hit you right in the nose, because by the time I picked you up, the front of your shirt and your pants were soaked with blood right down to your briefs. I soaked your clothes in cold water and washed them last night. They should be dry by now."
"Can you get them for me?" He said holding the covers tightly up to his chin.
"Of course. I'll be back in a couple of minutes so you can dress. You know you have nothing to be embarrassed about. For a little guy you're packing a pretty good-sized piece of meat down there."
Angel laughed as she closed the door behind her. She went down to the basement, took his jeans and underwear and socks out of the dryer and his shirt off the hangar, and after checking for any blood stains, brought them back upstairs.
When she got back, she knocked on the door and found him still in bed.
"Here are your clothes; they're clean. I was able to get all the blood stains out. If you want, the bathroom is across the hall; feel free to take a shower, I'll be in the kitchen. I'll make us a pot of coffee."
Paul's brain was telling him to get up, get dressed, and get out; but he found her fascinating and wanted to learn more about this not-so-gentle giant.
He put on his underwear, picked up the rest of his clothes and headed for the bathroom. She had laid out a
towel and a wash cloth for his use. Soon he was in the shower. The hot water felt good on his back, alleviating the pain from his body. When he was done, as he drying off, he examined his face in the mirror. His nose was swollen, but appeared to be unbroken. His left eye was completely shut and his cheek and jaw appeared to be swollen as well. One good thing was that he didn't appear to be cut at all.
After dressing he left the bathroom and walked into the kitchen, the aroma of fresh coffee and bacon and eggs overwhelmed his senses.
"I made us breakfast; I hope you'll stay?"
"Angel, it looks delicious, thanks."
She steered him to his chair and, before bringing his breakfast, examined his face.
"I'm afraid you'll be sporting a pretty nasty shiner for the next week or so. I'm so sorry. Here's some orange juice and a couple of Advil for the pain."
He took the Advil, washed them down with the orange juice, and looked over the huge plate of bacon and eggs that she placed on the table.
"Are you expecting anyone else for breakfast? That's enough for four people," he said with a smile.
"Not when you're as big and muscular as I am. I have to eat a lot just to maintain my muscle mass. I work out hard every day. Judging by your lack of muscle tone, you don't."
He watched in amazement as she took half of what was on the serving plate.
"I never was into sports and working out just doesn't interest me; besides I never seem to have the time."
"You have to make the time; it's good for you. Working out will keep you healthy, and based upon your performance last night, you certainly need it."
"Hey, that's not fair; both of you cold-cocked me if I'm not mistaken. I never had a chance to defend myself."
"In my case do you think it would have mattered?" she said as she stood and did a double bicep pose.
He gulped, awestruck at her massive arms and chest. "No, but I could have run; I'm really fast."
She gave a hearty laugh and sat back down.
"Please call me Ang, all my friends do."
"Thanks, I certainly don't want to be your enemy. Ang, can I ask you how you got so big and strong?"
"Sure; let me tell you about myself. I grew up in Southern California. Both my parents were into the physical fitness life-style of the area. They were both tall and good-looking and it seemed that they were always working out. I started out in gymnastics at a very young age. I developed a lot of upper body strength for a young girl. I was always challenging the boys in school to contests of strength. Whether it was arm wrestling, pull-ups or push-ups, none of them could keep up with me. I did gymnastics for a number of years until I literally outgrew it. I was heartbroken when they told me at the age of thirteen that I was too big for most of the events and not graceful enough for the others."
"What did you do then?"
"I still loved the fact that I was so much stronger than the kids I went to school with so I started working out with my mom every chance I got. My parents had built a pretty elaborate gym in the garage. They had lined the floor with mats and they had free weights, a weight bench, a chinning bar, a set of gymnastic rings, a heavy bag and a speed bag. My mother taught me how to do various exercises and also showed me how to box. She had belonged to a gym when she was growing up and had been taught by the local pro. She had never fought anyone, but knew a lot about it."
"Wait a minute; she taught you how to box?"
"Well, yes. She taught me how to throw punches, how to stand, how to move, and how to avoid getting hit. We even used to spar together as I got a little older. As the years went on I grew some more and got even stronger. Soon I was a lot bigger than she was and had to be careful not to hurt her. When I was a junior in high school, one of the football players ran into me in the hallway. He just bounced off me and fell to the ground. I offered him my hand to help him up, but because he was getting razed by some of his friends he slapped my hand away and instead started calling me names. At that time I was probably about six foot three and weighed over two hundred pounds. I shrugged my shoulders and started to walk away. He just wouldn't shut up, he kept calling me names, lard butt, freak, stuff like that. When you're different than everybody else, and you're only seventeen you're very self-conscious about everything. They were all laughing at me. I turned and walked right up to him and his friends and shoved him against the lockers. I told him to shut up or I'd shut him up. He pushed me back, his hands grabbing at my breasts. I started to beat him; it was only a matter of a minute and he was on the floor. I started walking away again when one of his friends jumped on my back. I shook him off and hit him three times. Then I turned to the others and started shouting for them to fight."
"That's when the Vice Principal came around the corner. After surveying the scene, he took me down to his office. I was lucky that I wasn't expelled or sued; I only got suspended for a week. The story spread like wildfire through the school. By the time I was allowed to return to classes, I had beat up half of the football team. After that, even if I had wanted to go out on a date no one dared to ask me. It seemed like no guy wanted to go out with someone who could beat the crap out of them. As a result of that, everyone was positive that I was a lesbian."
"I turned inward, became a loner in school, and spent all my free time weight-lifting and taking out my hostilities on the heavy bag."
"Gee Ang, that must have been tough on you. I had the same problem but for the opposite reason. Everyone in my school thought that, because I was small and slight of build and, shall we say rather pale, that I must be a homosexual. I never went out on any dates; no self-respecting girl would even give me the time of day from a romantic stand-point. I turned to my computer and learned everything I could about it."
"Wow, and I thought I had it tough. It looks like we were made for each other. You know what they say, opposites attract."
He looked across the table dumbfounded at what he had just heard. He thought to himself, 'Was she implying that maybe we should go out together some time? How could I possibly hope to be man enough for someone as beautiful, sweet and sexy as her?'
Paul finished what was on his plate and watched as she finished what was left on the serving plate. She got up from the table took the dishes to the sink and rinsed them off.
"Paul, I'm really enjoying our conversation; can you stay for a while longer?"
He looked at his watch; it was nine thirty on a Saturday and having no appointments scheduled that morning he told her he'd like to call his answering machine to check for messages. There were no messages.
"Do you want to come downstairs and watch me work out? We can talk some more and you can see if anything interests you."
Paul knew she meant any type of exercise that would interest him, but he had something entirely different in mind.
"I'll be right back, I just have to change into my workout clothes; I'll be right back."
Five minutes later she came out of her room, dressed in a loose-fitting sweatshirt, a pair of cutoff sweat pants, and white socks.
"OK, follow me."
They went out the kitchen door and down a winding staircase. She opened the door, reached in and turned on the lights. The basement had a ten foot high ceiling and seemed to run the length of the building. It was old; the joists which supported the floor above were thick, hand-cut and darkened with age. The room itself was spotless. They walked through a section of the room; on one side was the laundry, and on the other side were several walk-in coolers for the bar above, along with stacks of cases of empty beer bottles.
When they passed through a double-wide arch, she turned on another set of switches and the back half of the basement lit up. It looked like what he had imagined as she was describing the gym in her parents' garage. On one side there were several weight sets, a weight bench and a curl machine; on the other side she had a heavy bag and a speed bag; in the center, hanging from one of the beams, was a set of rings and what looked like a trapeze. Paul knew that couldn't be what it was used for because the ceiling was too low.