Madam Zira & the Henderson AffairbyLisa CJ©
Cincinnati, Ohio was just slightly above Mobile, Alabama on the list of profitable arts and craft fair locations for a dealer. Even Cleveland had moved up in the ranks. Yet there I sat, pissed off yet reluctantly resolved to make the best of the situation.
It was always good to have at least one 'psychic' present at these trailer trash shopping mall events. And that was I, Madam Zira – seer and fortuneteller for the lonely, the desperate, the ignorant thrillseeker with too much money and the boredom to waste it on what they knew was simple bullshit.
But it was that excess money and bullshit that kept me from starving. In essence, it was how I supported myself. The curiosity seekers and poor white trash who attended these events in the hope of finding that one piece of Elvis memorabilia that eluded their collection did not need to know I was really just Edie Rosenberg, well-preserved 60 year old widow struggling to make ends meet.
Oh, once I lived the 'good life'. My late husband Harry Rosenberg was a successful Manhattan tailor. We'd had a good 15 years together until he died of cancer. It took him quickly, for which I was thankful. I loved him and did not want to see him suffer. But now that Harry was gone, I was on my own. Thankfully, he'd left me the Winnebago we'd taken on our yearly trips to the Catskills and enough money from his well-managed mutual funds and life insurance to allow me some security. For a few years anyway. But life in a middle-class Brownstone in the Bronx without him and with no family of my own, I found myself longing to indulge in that mid-life crisis a proper married woman not dare pursue. So, like all of my other ladyfriends attempting to keep their husbands attentive (a futile gesture), I had the obligatory face life and boob job. Yet, with Harry gone, and his estranged son Isaac from his first marriage off on his own since age 16 trapped in a no doubt troubled life in which I obviously was not welcome, why not take to the road?
The money Harry had left me was more or less gone – what choice did I have? Isaac had never accepted me when Harry and I married. And at 16, how else would a rebellious teenager react, considering it had not been more than 5 years since his own mother had been killed in a car accident. Harry and I had not heard from him since he'd walked out the door that unforgettable June afternoon. And I certainly did not hear from him when his father died and did not see him in attendance at the funeral. There was nothing I could do for him now; the damage had been done. Harry had always been lenient with his only son. I, on the other hand, had been placed in the position of severe disciplinarian; and I know far too many times I had gone way too far in my 'discipline' of a young boy I truly wanted to love and care for. But that was ancient history. Now it was my turn. I decided to sell the Brownstone apartment and hit the road.
I'd always been a bit psychic. I think it came from my grandfather. I'd never met him, though had always been told we were two of a kind. But I never fancied myself as some sort of great seer or possessing some special insight into the future. I was just doing this to make a few extra bucks, see the country, and meet people. And the garish, stereotypical garb required for a true over-the-top fortuneteller appealed to me as well. I loved the spangled purple cape and black velvet robes, long black hair and crimson red fingernails I'd adopted as Madam Zira's 'look'. It was akin to being an actress, and this was my costume. Further adorned by several amulet necklaces, rings on almost every finger and long dangling earrings, I'd long gotten over the embarrassment of sitting at a fold-up table in a cheap plastic lawn chair in the middle of a crowded, noisy shopping mall hoping some small town rube would be willing to pass over $20 to have me lie to them about their future. Yet, at day's end, I usually had enough to indulge in a decent steak and bottle of wine at the town's local steakhouse. Then it was back to the 'Winnie' for a quick shower and a few pages of the latest Anne Rice novel before falling into an exhausted sleep. Afterall, these mall fairs were usually a two-day event. Tomorrow was another day and hopefully another $100 to pay for gas to fuel the gussling Winnie, and enough to pay for rental space at the next shopping mall arts fair or psychic festival. It was the last thing I had envisioned my 'retirement years' to consist of, but, well, Life loves to throw you curves…
So I sat there, watching the porcine thighs of women in polyester shorts and ill-fitting tank tops – their husbands wearing those ridiculous sandals that I'd always felt no man should be caught dead in, milling up and down the mall. Pausing here and there to look at the amateurish crafts and overpriced hand painted cuckoo clocks…and yes, the ceramic busts of Saint Elvis.
I was suffering greatly from the heat. The long vibrant purple cloak I wore – adorned with silver glittery stars I'd cut from old fabric and had sewn on – and heavy velvet gown were sweltering in the perspiration-scented summer day mall. I played the part well, but god knew I paid for it in pain and heatstroke.
As I was adjusting my 'wares' upon the velvet covered table – a display of crystal necklaces and earrings I'd made in between festivals – I was polishing my oversized crystal ball and shuffling a deck of Tarot cards when I heard a deep voice speaking in front of me.
"And what you do you see of your own future in that crystal ball and those magic cards of yours?"
I looked up to find a tall, thin man younger than I yet older than his handsome face and physique let on. He looked down at me with a bemused smile. His voice hinted at some distant accent, but it was his smile that was most engaging. That and his large, interesting nose. I'd always been a 'nose woman' – turned on by a man's nose. Go figure.
I had seen him across the mall at his own table apparently selling audio tapes of some unknown content, and we had exchanged a few polite nods when our eyes had met between the throngs of people surveying the wares of the dealers there.
"This is my future," I laughed with unmasked disdain as I waved my hand over the table of my paltry wares and gauche get-up. Why pretend I was anything other than what I really was. He knew I was a fraud.
He chuckled, his long, thin face adorned with a thick greying moustache wrinkling up a bit.
He folded his arms across his chest.
"Well…Madam Zira," he addressed me as he read the small handmade placard at the front of my table; "Can you tell me my future?"
I knew he was coming on to me.
"For $20 I will tell you whatever you want to hear," I grinned knowingly. He knew I was a charlatan, just as I knew he was a travelling cad with a case full of bullshit tapes to pawn off on the masses for an exorbitant price. We did have one thing in common though – we were both gypsies on the road trying to survive.
He sat down in the plastic lawn chair on the other side of the table across from me, his dark brown eyes piercing as he reached out his hand for me to take.
"I am not a palm reader," I told him, giving him a defiant and defensive glare from my own teal-colored eyes. He just wanted to hold my hand and no doubt begin his come-on act. Exactly why, I wasn't quite sure. I was probably old enough to be his mother, though I had to admit I was a very nice looking 60-year-old woman.
"No," he shook his head slightly, and nodded down to his hand. I now saw the neatly folded $20 bill resting between his thumb and forefinger.
I looked up at him and with a musing smile took the money and put it in the cashbox I kept hidden under the table.
"What would you like to know of your future?" I asked him with a serious tone, yet I could not help but smile at him. We both knew the score. I knew what he really wanted, and frankly, after quick consideration, I was beginning to want it too. It was very lonely on the road. And I had mourned Harry's passing long enough.
He was not a bad looking man. Thick dark hair carefully coifed, almost a pompadour, framing a long, gaunt face tanned by too many outdoor festivals. That or a weekly visit to the tanning booth. His thick peppery moustache would have appeared unseemly had it not been for the genuine and even sweet smile he delivered me. His hands were likewise darkly tanned; fingers long, thin and almost delicate but the obvious wear and tear, calluses and unkempt fingernails unmasked a man who had known hard labor.
"I'd like to know if I will sell at least one of my tapes today," he said with some seriousness. He was now staring at the crimson satin bandana I wore around my head.
I set down the Tarot cards, gazed down into my crystal ball and ran my hands over it with melodramatic gestures…all the while fighting the smile I knew he also fought to expose upon his own lips. We both knew this was just a game.
"Yes, " I finally replied. "I see that you will sell at least one of your tapes."
He grinned. "Oh good. I can now be assured I'll be able to afford
that Big Mac at McDonald's I've been craving all day."
It was near 6:00 PM and near the end of Day One of the festival. I hadn't eaten all day, and from his wry statement perceived he hadn't either.
"Yes, " I continued, "and I think I can even tell you the name of the person who will buy that tape."
His eyebrow suddenly arched.
"Oh really? Now that would be truly psychic. Tell me who, Madam Zira?"
I stood up and smiled. "Well, her name is Edie Rosenberg, and she would like to see just what kinds of tapes you have for sale."
His smile was radiant, almost sensual. He also then stood.
"Well I hope Edie Rosenberg likes poorly recorded murder mysteries, because that is all that Rolf Henderson has to sell."
I threw a velvet cut of cloth over the crystal ball and locked the set of small display cases housing my crystal trinkets as I responded, placing them all in an aluminum-type suitcase I used for transporting my wares.
"Well, Mr. Henderson, my crystal ball tells me that Edie would love a murder mystery tape to listen to while she drives her Winnebago to her next craft fair. It gets lonely on the road."
I looked up into Rolf Henderson's eyes, and found them dancing down into mine. He was much taller than I was, and I could not help but feel a stirring within myself that this charming rogue could so easily soften my hardened but lonely heart.
I picked up a tape from his rickety table. The tape was called "Jerusalem Jewels". I really didn't care what it was about. I dropped $10 into the cigar box he had as his cashbox on the table and put the tape in my satin satchel.
"Well, McDonalds, here I come!" he laughed as he quickly began tossing his collection of tapes in a tattered, wrinkled paper bag and putting the cigar box under his arm.
"No doubt a Madam with your special gifts doesn't need to eat at McDonalds, but, would you care to join me?" His smile was dazzling.
"Madam Zira prefers the local finery," I could not help but jest; "but Edie Rosenberg lives on fast food. I'd be happy to join you."
"Good," this man named Rolf Henderson responded with a smile, and even took my arm as we made our way through the thinning crowd to exit the mall.
There was no need to debate who would drive to the fast food restaurant, as there was a McDonald's across the street from the mall parking lot.
Over Big Macs and chocolate milkshakes, we chatted casually and impersonally about the trials and tribulations of being craft fair dealers, the caliber of customer attending such events, and even the loneliness of the life of an 'on-the-road' second rate entrepreneur.
I did mention Harry to him, and my status as a widow on the road trying to make a few extra bucks. He seemed genuinely interested, and sympathetic over Harry's death. Rolf casually mentioned two divorces, a lengthy overseas period of life (must have been where he'd picked up that touch of accent, I surmised), and the troubled relationship he'd had with a lady he'd left behind in Huntington, West Virginia to try selling his tapes at this Cincinnati craft fair.
Even though in essence it had been my money that had afforded the two of us this processed fare passing as food, I had to admit it was very nice to share a meal with a pleasant gentleman again. Since Harry had died I'd had few suitors, and those consisted of widowed or divorced friends or business associates of Harry's. Even a few of his married ones. And none of it – or them - seemed 'right' to me. Even though he'd died almost 5 years ago, I still felt a great loyalty to Harry. Though I knew he would want me to get on with my life after his death and find someone for companionship, I had not yet found anyone even remotely interesting to me in such a way. Until now…
The man sitting across from me – Rolf Henderson – was not at all what I would have thought I might consciously desire in a 'relationship'. He was obviously a gentile for one thing. He was much younger than I, and lastly, he was a hack writer who sold his stories on tape at third rate craft fairs in third rate cities. Not my prime choice for a mate of any kind. And the fact that he seemed interested in me also was puzzling. But then, who was I to make judgements?
My next stop on the Fair circuit was Indianapolis. And that was to begin in two days. So my choice was simple: a polite Thank You for the Big Mac and shake and a solitary walk back to my Winnabego for a few pages of Anne Rice and a good night's sleep; or a one night stand with this oddly handsome stranger. I knew by the look in Rolf's eyes and his devilish smile that he was hoping and working for the latter.
Before I could decide, Rolf smiled and spoke.
"I've always found the best way to get rid of the taste of a Big Mac is with a nice, dry Martini – shaken not stirred; interested? There is a little bar just a hop, skip and jump away from here."
His dark eyes were dancing into mine again, and I could not help but smile.
"Sure, why not," I heard myself say without giving it any thought.
An hour or two later after three rounds of Martinis and just for fun, several shots of peppermint Schnapps, Rolf had his arm around my shoulder and I had my hand none-too-politely upon his thigh as we sat close to one another at the bar of this dingy tavern. Peanut shells littered the floor, and wet glass rings covered the scratched bar. One had to be careful to not have their elbow soaked by the damp ghost of someone's wet glass or bottle of beer.
Rolf was laughing uproariously, and I was in slight inebriation laughing with him over something I knew nothing about. I just knew I felt good, I was in the arm of a charming man, and I was beginning to want him. My wandering hand upon his muscular thigh told me he wanted the same. But then, why wouldn't he? Further, why wouldn't I?
Twenty minutes later, with only a fleeting thought this might not be a good idea but too inebriated and sexually aroused to care, I had invited Rolf into my Winnebago. As I turned around to turn on the light switch, he suddenly grasped me in his arms and was pressing his lips upon mine in a deep, passionate kiss. He forced his tongue between my lips and licentiously explored my mouth.
I did not resist him. I did not want to resist. I was reaching for the zipper of his khaki slacks and pulling it down, reaching my right hand in to find him fully aroused. I could hear his breathing become harder, harsher as he felt my hand upon him. He was then pushing me toward the futon bed in the back end of the RV.
He fell on top of me and began tearing at my clothes with anxious hands, wanting to feel my bare skin. I involuntarily gasped when I felt his hands part open the seams of my dress bodice and caress my large soft breasts and hardened nipples. His lips upon my neck, kissing and biting the fragile skin sent shivers throughout my entire body, and I could not help but moan in total pleasure.
Half nude and lying weak beneath him, Rolf raised up to his knees and quickly unbuttoned his shirt, tossing it on the bed beside us. Even in the dim light I could see that his chest was well toned and covered with thick black curly hair.
His eyes were clouded as his hands began eagerly attempting to remove the rest of my clothes. I thoughtlessly helped him, and soon I lay nude beneath him. Though I was much older than he, the implants, facelift and active lifestyle I'd kept had allowed even this 60-year-old woman a rather attractive body.
He smiled lasciviously as he bent down and took my nipple between his teeth and flicked it with his tongue. The sensation was intense and intoxicating. I'd never been made love to like this before. Harry had always been a fair lover, but very conventional.
As he bit and flicked my breast, his hand forced my legs apart and he began to massage me. It was almost more than I could bear. I felt myself wanting to climax like I never had before. My whole body was tingling and I was gasping with moans I'd never heard uttered from my own lips.
Before I could climax, Rolf moved back and positioned himself over me. His hands grasped each of my wrists and pulled my arms up over my head. I could feel the weight of his body against me as he held me prone. I wasn't afraid, but excited and anxious as to what he would do next.
As it slowly moved fully into me, I heard him moaning with uncontrolled words.
"God this feels so good," he sighed; "You feel so good."
He moved his hips up and down within me. Slowly at first, then gradually faster. I could barely see his face in the dim light, but his body was radiating incredible warmth, his scent an intoxicating mix of masculine perspiration and faint cologne.
Even though it was somewhat painful for me – it had been so long since I'd been with a man – it was also an incredibly erotic experience. I didn't know if I was being raped or just participating in a raw, animalistic sexual encounter. Either way, for some strange reason, I didn't care. Even my loyalty to Harry's memory could not stop me from wanting Rolf's intense sexuality.
Suddenly he moaned with a helpless cry, and I felt his release. He slowly pulled himself out of me and collapsed beside me on the bed.
I laid there silently, almost feeling dizzy from what was being done to me. Even though I had yet to climax, I somehow felt sexually satisfied.
His fingertips reached over and lightly grazed my breast, my still-hard nipples, squeezing them and playing with then as he gradually caught his breath.
My legs were trembling a bit, and the longing to orgasm was still within me. I could not help but put my hand between my legs and massage myself.
Rolf raised up a bit and moved over to gaze down at me. He gently took hold of my hand and placed it upon his cheek. He smiled down at me sweetly –
"Edie, you don't have to do that. I would never leave a lady unsatisfied".
He then arched over me and kissed me tenderly upon the lips, cheek, eyes, nose and down the length of my neck with soft, biting kisses. His hands gently caressed my breasts, cupping each in his hands as he moved down to kiss upon them slowly and thoughtfully. He moved his body down slowly, exploring every part of my body with his lips – all done every so slowly and so gently.
As his lips pressed upon my trembling stomach – his tongue teasingly flicking at my navel – and as he moved farther down to the mound of darkly grey hair, my hips involuntarily bucked.
Even in my sexual disphoria, I heard him whisper, "It's okay", and his hands firmly held my hips as his mouth found the center of my sexual arousal and began very slowly and gently massaging it with his tongue.
I was already so close to orgasm that it did not take long for me to climax. I could hear my voice rising to a fevered pitch of overwhelming, blinding ecstasy that I literally cried out with a scream as I felt my body become a hot tingling shivering mass of flesh. It was one of the most incredible orgasms I had ever experienced.