The Addicted Natural Ch. 07byblacknight99©
Chapter 7 – Dee's Diary – Her Best Friend's Husband
MONDAY, MAY 6th
What an absolutely WONDERFUL day yesterday was. And now, here I am writing about it (I was certainly in no shape to do so last night!), strangely at peace, knowing that today is my last full day on this earth. My last night may be a little uncertain, however. I've agreed to do something that has me VERY nervous. But I'll get to that.
I drove out to the lake house about nine o'clock and stopped at the farmer's market and butcher shop on the way. I'd decided on Greek Souvlaki for dinner, and I chose the ingredients with care. I think I'm more at peace in the kitchen than anywhere else in the world. This was going to be fun.
Once at the house, I opened every window to air it out. It was a beautiful early spring day, cool and crisp and sunny. I cut the lamb into cubes and began the day-long marinating process, then rolled up my sleeves and cleaned the place for three solid hours. After a light lunch (I think I've finally lost that five pounds), I went down to the porch swing that Ben hung from the limb of the big oak and finished the Mary Roberts Rinehart book. What a marvelous mystery! You don't find out "who-done-it" until the very last paragraph! I wish I had time to read another. Oh well.
I showered and put on a nice outfit, not too informal, just right for receiving guests in the country. I'd never prepared an evening for friends before (I've never HAD friends before), and I was especially nervous about meeting the mysterious Professor "Freddy." I figured he must be some sort of hunk to have a beauty like Brenda look all starry-eyed every time she mentioned his name. I imagined all sorts of types. But whatever I expected, it wasn't the Fred I finally met.
He's so ... so AVERAGE, that he's sort of hard to describe. I immediately wondered how he ever attracted a girl like Brenda. His hair is sort of brown, but sort of red, too, and it's receding quite a bit. I think he's going to be classified as bald in another ten years. Early thirties, I'd guess, and about fifteen pounds overweight. Taller than I am, but not by much, and for some reason, I thought of him as clumsy, but I don't know why. It took me the better part of an hour to realize that looks are deceiving. I know now that he's remarkably bright, but his whole demeanor seems to hide the fact. The one feature that couldn't be hidden was a certain nameless quality that lay just behind his eyes.
From the moment he got out of the car, he was absolutely enthralled by the lake. He only stopped staring at it for a few moments to meet me, and his eyes suddenly seemed to take in my every detail me. I felt, for a moment, like covering myself with my hands. It's as if, in that brief instant, he'd photographed me with those eyes and stored the picture in his mind to retrieve and study at a later time. In another minute, he was looking longingly at the lake again, and I thought guiltily that I'd imagined the whole thing.
He began asking questions, good intelligent questions, I'm sure, but I didn't have a clue to the answers for any of them. Which "arm" of the lake was this? What was the underwater slope? What was the water temperature? What was its depth at "pool?" After my fourth "I don't know," he suddenly smiled, looked around a moment, and somehow seamlessly switched the topic to the dahlias in the east flower bed. That I DID know about, and we were soon immersed in a detailed conversation about spring flowers.
I showed them around: the Grand Tour, both outside and inside, then I enlisted Fred's help opening a large bottle of Chardonnay I'd found in the basement (he seemed very impressed by the vintage, but I didn't know anything about that, either). Brenda I put to work cutting vegetables, but I was soon very amused to learn that she was an absolute disaster in the kitchen. In the end, she sat on a bar stool at the counter while I worked happily away, and we talked and talked and talked. Fred took his glass and drifted back outside to stare at the lake some more.
I drank a glass of wine, then another while Brenda sipped hers and became more and more animated. I just couldn't believe how she could get drunk on one glass! I called to Fred to fire up the gas grill, and though he'd never used one, he figured it out quickly. Brenda was at least slightly adept at putting the lamb and veggies on the skewers, and we all stood around the grill while they popped and sizzled over the flames. The meal was pretty good, if I do say so myself. Fred seemed to love it, and ate with absolute gusto. They both told me that meals around their house weren't that "elaborate," meaning, I guess, that Brenda isn't much of a cook.
The conversation at the dinner table was what convinced me that Fred was an intellectual wolf in sheep's clothing. Twice, he so cleverly shifted the topic from the house, to its background, and finally to my association to it, that I very nearly slipped up and told him who I was. The third glass of wine didn't help, but I thought I did a rather masterful job of knocking the discussion right back to his side of the court. This meant, of course, that Brenda had kept her word and not revealed my identity. As soon as he figured out what I was doing, I got the impression that he thought "conversational ping pong" was a great game, and I could see the amusement in his eyes.
Brenda sort of embarrassed me by actually BEGGING Fred for another glass of wine. Even after I'd poured her one, she still wouldn't touch it until he had given his consent. She told me, confidentially after we'd finished the dishes and had plopped ourselves in the middle of the couch, chattering away like a couple of hens, that she let Fred make almost ALL of her important decisions. That's just the way their relationship is. I tried to show as much feminist indignation as my four previous glasses of wine would allow at: 1) the concept that she should HAVE to seek his approval for ANYTHING, and 2) that having a second glass of wine wasn't that big a "decision" at all.
But maybe it was, for she was now very, very drunk, and she slurred many of her words and laughed almost continuously. In defense, I poured myself a fifth glass. My words weren't coming out the way I wanted them to, either.
"Just what do you see in Fred, anyway?" I implored, at last. (He, of course, was taking a moonlight stroll alone down by the lake.)
"He's a great guy!" Brenda said defensively, if unclearly. "He's everything I every wanted! And anyway, he's got a really, really, really big cock."
"Cock?" I shrieked, and dissolved into a fit of giggles.
"Cock. You know. Dork. Shlong. Porker." She was trying hard to look serious, though she was shaking with laughter.
"You mean his prick?" I asked, gasping for air.
"Oh no, it's much, much bigger than a prick." She was laughing almost uncontrollably now. "It's almost too big to call a cock! You can't possibly call it a prick!"
"I happen to know a thing or two about pricks," I howled, "and it looks sort of like a prick to me. I mean, if I saw it, I think it would. I mean ...." I was really losing it.
And just then, Fred walked back in. Brenda and I were laughing so hard, and we were so drunk, that we just couldn't help staring openly at his crotch. He actually looked down, to see if he'd spilled something on his lap. This, of course, had the immediate effect of making both of us women double the decibel level, and Fred, feeling self conscious, shook his head sadly and walked back outside. I howled. I held my aching sides and shed tears. I've never, ever laughed so hard.
When the giggles finally subsided, Brenda leaned heavily against me and rested her head on my shoulder, and I rested my cheek on the top of her head, and we were comfortably silent for a long, long time. I didn't want this special moment of friendship to ever end.
"Um?" I answered groggily.
"Dee, have you ever been hypnotized?"
We were quiet for another long minute. "Would you like to be?"
This startled me, but I didn't alter my voice at all. "I don't think so."
Pause. "It's really wonderful. It's the best feeling in the whole world." A much longer pause. "I'm a Natural."
My turn to pause. "What's that?"
"I go under very, very easily, and once I'm there, I like it so much that I don't ever want to wake up. There just aren't words to describe how great it makes me feel."
"And you don't mind giving up all that control?" I asked.
"That's what I think I like the most about it."
That's all she said. And the really scary part is that I knew exactly what she meant. We were quiet for another long minute.
"I think you are, too. A Natural, I mean. I mean, if you ever tried it, I think you would be. Do you know what I mean?"
"What makes you think that?"
I felt her shoulders shrug beside me. "You look like me. I mean, there's something about you that reminds me of me. I mean, there are a lot of ways that you're just like me ... the way I am ... the way I feel ... the way I think. Shy. Reserved. Curious"
I didn't say anything, and time stretched on silently.
"Will you try it for me? Will you let Freddy put you under? Please?"
I sighed. "I can't, Brenda. He'd find out. He'd know who I am. He'd know what I'm about to do. I know you want to save me, but you promised. That decision is made, and I'm not going to change it."
She ruined our perfect position by raising her head and looking into my eyes. My God, she's got beautiful eyes! "But he won't!" she said, almost urgently. "He won't find out any of that! He's hypnotized me twice since yesterday, and I didn't tell him! He doesn't know because the whole thing is so bizarre that he'd never think of asking about that. And I'll tell him not to! I'll tell him not to pry into your past, and he'll honor that. You have my word. I promise! And if you do, then you'll see that I'm right! You're a Natural, too, and it'll be absolutely the BEST feeling you'll ever have, and then later if you DO ... do that ... do ... that terrible thing, you will have at least experienced it once. Please?"
She was really beginning to babble. "Brenda, calm down. I'll think about it."
"No!" she said frantically. "Come to dinner at our house tomorrow night, and let him! Please? I promise he won't find out! If you just ...."
"OKAY!" I shouted, just to shut her up.
"Really?" she asked, more quietly.
"Okay," I repeated. What was I getting myself into? "If you promise he won't pry into my private life, I'll let him try to hypnotize me."
"Okay," she replied, satisfied. She rested her head back on my shoulder, and after a minute, I rested my cheek against her head again. I couldn't believe I'd just agreed to that!
I felt my mind slowing down groggily. I wondered what we must look like; two very drunk females propping each other up in the middle of the couch. I closed my eyes and relaxed.
Slowly, I became aware of Fred stretching me out on the couch.
"Where's Brenda?" I muttered. I could barely keep my eyes open.
"I carried her to the car. I found a pillow and blanket in one of the bedrooms." He was covering me with a velour spread, and my head was sinking into a feather pillow. "Is this okay, or do you want me to carry you to your bed?"
I smiled up at him sleepily. "This is just fine. Thank you. I'll see you tomorrow night."
"I'm having dinner at your house," I mumbled. "Then you're going to hypnotize me."
"I'm going to WHAT?"
I opened one eye, and for the first time, I thought he looked kind of cute.
"Good night, Fred," I whispered, and fell right to sleep.
TUESDAY, MAY 7th
This is the last night of my life. It's two o'clock in the morning, and I'm very tired, but if I let myself go to sleep, I'll have the dream again. I don't think I could take that. I can't risk taking one of the pills, or I might not have enough to do "the deed" later today. So I'll write until the sun comes up, and then later I'll go to the drug store to refill the prescription, and then ... and then I guess I'll have to go back to Brenda's house and say "good-bye." Why did I ever have to make that stupid promise? I just want it to be OVER! Especially after what happened tonight. I should write it down. Maybe it will make me feel better. I should be wonderfully happy, but I'm not. How can an emotion that feels so good make a person so miserable?
I'll just start at the beginning.
I arrived at Fred and Brenda's house a little late. I'd never driven around that part of town before, and I got lost more than once. Fred answered the door, and gawked at the Mercedes. I take it there aren't too many S-600's in the area. I should have known and ordered a taxi.
"Nice car," he commented.
"Thanks. Where's Brenda?" and I pushed past him and waited for him to show me the way. He cast one last, longing look at the automobile and led me down a little hall, through a comfortable living room and into the kitchen. Brenda was standing near a pot of boiling water, reading the side of a box of all-in-one spaghetti dinner. I grinned broadly, took off my jacket, and sort of took over. In no time at all, I'd found several things in the refrigerator to compliment the meal and started chopping, dicing, frying and boiling, adding a pinch of this and a dash of that and sampling with a wooden spoon until I deemed it palatable.
Brenda got the utensils and other items as I requested them, and generally just seemed to have a great time talking and observing as I cooked. I suddenly realized her husband was nowhere about.
"Where's Fred?" I asked.
"Oh, he's in the study. It's not really a study; it's a second bedroom that he's sort of turned into a study. I've never seen him so nervous."
"About hypnotizing you. I think it's sort of freaked him out."
"I thought he was an expert at this," I said uneasily.
"Oh, no. He's never hypnotized anyone but me," she replied, smiling. "He's in there going over some notes that I guess he made when he first put me under, and he's listening to his old reel-to-reel tape recorder for some reason. I think I really put him on the spot when I suggested this."
I put down the knife I was holding. "Brenda, let's put an end to this silly idea. I'm sure you enjoy 'going under' for Fred a whole lot, but I can't imagine it doing anything for ME. Fred's nervous and I'm nervous, and I think we should just call the whole thing off."
She smiled. "No way," she said, shaking her head. "You promised you'd try it. And this morning over breakfast, I got him to promise to try it, too. And he gave me his word that he won't pry into your private life. I just KNOW I'm right about this. It's not going to hurt either one of you to try." She grinned. "You'll see!"
Fred came back in time for dinner, and though I thought the pasta left a lot to be desired, the two of them absolutely raved about it. I think they were just trying to make me blush. There's not too much you can do to hurt boxed spaghetti dinner.
Fred started complaining about the English Department on campus. I guess he still has a few years until tenure, and he probably gets the short end of the stick wherever he turns. The school had evidently lost a heap of money on bad investments during the past year, he said; and I pointed out that too many institutions were investing their short term capital in moderate-to-high yield instruments designed more for retirement portfolios which could weather radical spiking quarterly markets, rather than in less active issues that could provide productivity while maintaining stability. The conversation died abruptly as they both looked at me as if I were some piece of modern art that no one quite understands.
"Um, so what course would you create in your department if you had the chance?" I asked.
And so, after a pregnant pause, the conversation settled on various branches of modern literature. I asked if he'd ever read Mary Roberts Rinehart, and he said that of course he had. He'd even read the book I'd just finished, and we talked about its characters. He seems to know at least a little about practically everything. I found myself more and more impressed. And I also felt something else that greatly disturbed me. Looking back on it, I'm not sure I could put a descriptive title on it then. Of course, I know what it is now. But I'll come to that as my tale unfolds.
Brenda made coffee (instant coffee!), but Fred shook his head before she could pour me a cup. "None for Dee," he said authoritatively. "She's going to be taking a little nap after dinner," and continued talking about Raymond Chandler and Dasheill Hammett as if this declaration had held very little meaning. Brenda smiled, knowingly. I sipped my wine (only one glass tonight) and listened abstractly as the conversation about early Twentieth Century mystery writers progressed. He didn't seem nervous about the upcoming hypnosis session at all.
Brenda and I did the dishes more or less in silence as Fred went into the living room to "set things up" for our little encounter; and when the last cup had been dried and put away, she took my hand and led me quietly into the next room.
It had turned cool outside, and Fred had lit a fire in the fireplace. I couldn't help but think it was a remarkably cozy room. The walls were lined with floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and there was only one window, though I couldn't see the yard due to the darkness outside and cheery light provided by the fire. A mirror over the mantle was slightly canted to reflect the room's occupants. There was a large sheepskin rug spread before the fireplace, and I briefly envisioned the two of them making love on it in the firelight. Fred looked up from some notes he was reading and smiled at us as we entered, but he continued reading, and I wandered around a bit looking at the titles of the books. Some had slipcovers protected by library-style plastic coverings, and I took down a copy of a James Joyce novel and flipped through it. It was signed! I put it back and chose a work by Steinbeck. It too was autographed. Aha! That's why a college professor with a working wife lived in such a modest home. He had an expensive hobby.
At last, he put the notes aside and rose from the chair. He reminded me briefly of a concert master mounting a podium. "Are we ready?" he asked.
I took a nervous breath. "Fred, we don't really have to ...." But he put a finger on my lips to silence me and smiled. His eyes (those fathomless, dark eyes) held me for a moment. I suddenly felt small, like a little girl in the presence of grown-ups.
"I want you to relax," he said softly but firmly. "Just take some deep breaths and be very, very calm." I wanted to argue, but did as he said. That feeling went through me again; the one I'd had in the dining room. At least, I think it did. Yes, thinking back on it now, I'm sure it did. I felt my shoulders slump a little.
"Very good," he said, a professor to his obedient student. "Now, I want you to go to the chair and sit down. Stay very relaxed and say nothing."
I seemed to float to the big chair and sit. It was soft and comfortable. He's going to hypnotize me, I thought. It's really going to happen. I found myself wondering almost desperately if I was a "Natural," too. Like Brenda. I wanted to be just like Brenda.
But instead of following me to the chair, Fred turned to his wife. This seemed to surprise her, and she looked at him curiously, cocking her head a little to one side, a habit she has when she's puzzled. "Brenda," he said sternly, "look into my eyes."
I thought this was a little too much of a cliché, and I suppose I would have laughed if I hadn't felt so relaxed and comfortable in the low, soft easy chair. I was also surprised when Brenda immediately straightened her head, stood very erect, and did exactly as he'd said. She's quite a bit shorter than he is (in fact, she's a good two inches shorter than I am), and she had to incline her head steeply to stare up into his eyes.