The Payment Plan Ch. 06byAmeaner©
The gun metal gray Firebird idled furiously at the curb while a small contingent of bellhops loaded the trunk with twice as much luggage than what they'd arrived with, two of them standing by each open door of the car, awaiting Victoria's and Janet's approach and entrance to the machine. Along with the eye opening gratuity Madeline and Winona had left, Buckner's bonus Dollars for each job they'd done made their new and expensive purses seem heavy as well.
He stood with them underneath the Hotel awning, Vernon and Bull at each side, all five of them smiling genuinely, although not without some regret in their eyes.
"Ladies, if you ever come to Vegas again, by all means, stay here. Bring your husbands, you'll get the royal treatment and they'll never know why." he promised with a twinkle in his eye.
"Plus, that way, if we get into trouble again,...", Victoria laughed.
"Better the devil you know." he finished, he and Janet laughing as well.
"I hope you don't think we feel that way about you, though." Janet said when they stopped. "Because we don't. We were stupid, we got ourselves into trouble and we paid the price to go home free of it right now, just like you promised."
"That's right." Victoria said. "And we're really thankful you gave us the chance to get off the hook."
"Janet, Victoria, you're both two of a kind. I really didn't like putting you two to work like that from the outset and I regretted it more and more later on, but you two were,... I'm sorry, but you were perfect. You did everything I asked better than I could have asked and some of the things you've accomplished for me go way beyond just money. And by the way,..."
He stopped to fish something out of the inside pocket of his very smart, gray suit. Two small envelopes appeared in his hand, one of which was passed to each woman.
"It's a short list of email addresses." he explained. Winona and Madeline have extended an open invitation to you both, should you ever decide to visit Italy. I'd be a little careful there, if I were you. Also, my email address is in there, so that, like I said, if you're ever in town again, or if things don't work out in some way and you need some place to go and a job, you know. Not like before, one that would take better advantage of your, ah, people skills. You know, Francine tells me I'm crazy to let you two go." he laughed.
"Oh, we'll certainly keep that in mind, Mr. Buckner.", Janet graciously told him, inwardly thinking of how soon and how horribly things could still go wrong.
"We'll handle it.", Victoria assured him, looking to Janet in order to try to assure her too.
"I believe you can. Good luck, Ladies. Drive carefully and try to stay out of trouble."
----- ----- ----- ----- -----
"It seems like a year ago, somehow." Janet noted as they drove through town on their way to the onramp.
"Since we blew in here." Victoria assumed she meant. "Yeah, it's like that for me, too. And somehow, this trip, this time,... it's more real. I don't know if you get what I mean." she said, disengaging the clutch and gearing down for a red light in her tight new designer jeans.
"More vivid. Little things and details are more appreciable."
" ... Yeah. Yeah, that's it."
They were silent amidst the traffic for a while in the non air conditioned antique, windows rolled down until Victoria spoke thoughtfully.
"I wonder why Buckner warned us about Winona and Madeline?"
"I don't know, but I trust him. I don't think I'd ever be interested in going to Italy, anyway."
"Hmm.", Victoria said as though she wasn't convinced.
"Comes to that," Janet added, "I'd rather we visited Patricia."
"Heh. Yeah, I liked her. She was good."
"Yes.", Janet agreed with a recollective smile that matched Victoria's. "But to be honest, I enjoyed it all, everything we did, even though, sometimes, I was pretty scared."
"Mmm. Me too."
"Then again, maybe that's just the potion talking."
They said little more as they worked their way closer to the highway, the vague regret that hung in the air at the Hotel seeming to have followed, compressing itself around them within the confines of the car.
They said even less after they eventually gained the onramp and were fast tracked down the highway towards home, the talk petering out altogether as the traffic did, the further they drove from Las Vegas.
After a while, Victoria suddenly slowed the car down, pulling off to the wide, dirt shoulder and stopping, a cloud of dust overtaking and passing around the car, happy to head on down the road without them, if need be. Switching the ignition off, she turned in the seat, left arm draped over the top of the wheel, and took her sunglasses off, looking Janet squarely in the eye.
"We can flag down the next car that has a man behind the wheel and suck him off right now, if you want. We could. It's not as if he'd refuse."
" ... I don't want to do that at all."
"Sure you do, that's why you hesitated, right? You actually had to think about it, if only for a split second. Just suggesting we do it conjures up images in our heads and we want to, potion or no. We know we shouldn't, but we have been, so why not now? Oops." she said, turning her head momentarily as a car whizzed by. "There he goes. I'm sure they'll be another, though. So what do you say?"
"I say no.", Janet insisted. "Before, there was no choice."
"But, we enjoyed it."
"That doesn't mean- that doesn't change anything outside those circumstances. Those circumstances no longer exist and reality is reality again. We have to fit into it and, underneath our base desires and how the potion and our recent circumstances encourages them, we want to fit into it."
"Well, I'm glad we've got that established."
"Oh, I see what you're doing."
"Janet, we can't go back home with any more baggage than what's in the trunk, you understand? That would ruin everything, I tell you it will and I do mean everything. It's exactly like you said at the Hotel, we were stupid and we had to do what we had to do so we could avoid paying the highest price for our stupidity. Not many people would have done any different in our shoes and we're just lucky that it was Buckner's casino we went to and that he gave us that opportunity."
"I know, I know,... I said all that and I know and believe it, it's just that now, on our way home, it doesn't seem to cover the whole thing."
"I'm not saying it does, I'm just saying that things could have been a whole lot worse, nobody got hurt and, if we enjoyed it, lucky us to be able to get through it that way and move on. We're still basically the women we were when we left home, just with new experience below our belts. If you'll pardon the pun."
"I'll laugh about that later. Right now, I must point out that Dr. McNeer, her Receptionist and two of her patients were certainly hurt. Not in a physical way, but imagine what they must be thinking now? And who's to say that Meshac and his friends won't eventually come to harm because of what we did? Not to mention Willy and his family. We did cause harm and I'm pretty sure that's a big part of what doesn't get covered by my neat and tidy little excuses, not to mention the fact that I cheated on Tom. Yes, I cheated. Once I accepted the enjoyment of it, had fun with it and tried to forget about him so I could get through it all that much easier,... I cheated."
"We had no choice."
"That doesn't justify it. Poor Dr. McNeer wouldn't think so."
"Janet,... Baby, listen: You made the right decisions the entire way through this. If you had to go back, even feeling the way you do now, you'd still make those same decisions for the good of both of us, and that's one of the reasons I love you. Again, I know this is hard for you, it is for me too, but there's nothing we can do about now, anymore than there was anything we could have done when we first met Buckner. Nothing but to get over it. As for Willy,..."
Victoria looked down for a moment before speaking, seemingly to the console between their hips.
"You heard Buckner. Willy's lucky he didn't end up dead. If you think we fucked his family up, imagine how a bullet in the back of Willy's head would have fucked them up."
"They'll never get over it."
"You don't know that. You don't know that at all. And what if they do and you don't? Buckner even said that they all deserved it. Don't get hung up on this, it serves no purpose other than to rip apart everything we worked to save and, if you need to talk about it, you know I'll listen. Right?"
They gazed seriously at one another for a short time before Victoria spoke again, breaking a seemingly fragile moment.
"Janet,... are we, ahhh,... we still good, baby?"
"Yes, sweetie, we're still good." Janet reassured her, managing a sincere smile.
Victoria let a small sigh of relief at this pass her lips and said, "Just give it some time, okay? Block out the memories if you want, or if you can, and just let some time go by; you'll be surprised at how it leaves your mind, how it becomes hard to remember."
"You sound like you have some experience sailing de' nial."
"Well, like I say, there've been some pretty good reasons why you're my only female friend. So, take it from me, you can get over this. And you know we have more important things to tackle, right? I'm counting on you."
"I'm counting on you."
"There you go." Victoria said, a smile on her mouth now.
She leaned forward to kiss her blonde neighbor, the soccer mom who was dressed and made up as such once again, although this time much more expensively in the upscale, yet sexy looking summer dress that made women on the cover of Good Housekeeping look like boring, frumpy losers.
Janet met her kiss, eagerly returning it and slipping her hand to the inside of Victoria's upper thigh. They stayed like that for some moments before parting, each satisfied and relieved that things really were good between them before Victoria started the car with a roar and a smile.
"We'll figure out Tom and Reggie, too. One way, or another."
Janet eyed her beautiful friend as she pulled out to the blacktop, accelerating through the gears and looking confident, even happy.
----- ----- ----- ----- -----
"You have a plan, don't you?"
The two sat on a sun dried picnic table in the dusty parking lot of the last stop for fifty miles, according to the sign. They'd fueled and stocked up on bottled water and were taking time to eat before the longest leg of their trip.
Victoria bit off a chunk of the tuna sandwich she'd bought, looking at the clear plastic container of caesar salad in front of Janet for a moment before answering.
"I wouldn't go that far. I have some ideas and stuff, but I need your input to make a plan out of it."
"Okay, well, first off, we'll just let this whole thing blow over with Reggie. We stick to the plan, the story that Buckner set up for us and I say I'm sorry we worried him, show him some of the money we made and then make it all good by showing him how much I missed him. By the time Tom gets home, it won't be an issue and something you may never have to bring up."
"That sounds sensible." Janet said, washing down a crouton with a drink of water.
"Sure it does, that's because it's the easy part. But a few months from now, we should try a little experiment."
"Okay,...", Janet said, waiting for it.
"See, most men get turned on by lesbians." Victoria began to explain. "It's just a thing with them, you know what I mean."
"Well, they do, take it from me."
"Are we lesbians?"
"A- ... I,... I guess."
"I don't feel like a lesbian." Janet asserted.
"Well, neither do I, but- okay, we'll debate that another time, babes. The point is that they'll see us as lesbians having a lesbian relationship and they might actually like it, or at least the idea of it. So we have to set up a little something. We'll have a get-together where you and I will pretend to get a little drunk and kiss or something, just to see how it goes over."
"Test the waters."
"Right.", Victoria confirmed. "That'll at least give us an idea of whether or not we even should tell them."
"Yes. Yes, that's good and very sensible. And it buys us time. But we can't go too far, we have to be able to avoid any suspicion if we do decide that we can't tell them.
"Yup, we'll have to be careful there, alright."
"So, what if they seem to be okay with it? What if it's only a little, or they're not sure?" Janet asked.
"You're thinking of Tom." Victoria assumed. "I know, it'll really all come down to him."
"It's not just that. If Reggie can deal with it and Tom can't, that'll be bad for its own reasons. It'll lead to worse problems than if they both didn't accept it."
" ... Yeah, I can see that."
"Furthermore, even if they do both like the idea of our relationship, that won't,... Well, I mean,... for that to mean anything to them, they'd have to at least be allowed to watch us."
They stared across the table at one another in thought for a moment about this simple truth.
"Or to join us." Janet added.
"Oh,... You paint one hell of a picture."
"You know I'm right."
"Yes.", Victoria nodded. "That's the mind of a man, alright."
"Let me ask you something?"
"Have you ever,... thought, or fantasized about sleeping with Tom?"
"Sorry. I promise there's no strings attached to that, though."
"Uh-huh." Victoria laughed. "I wouldn't say I've fantasized about it,... I've thought about it. What he'd be like, you know. Not all the time or anything, just that curiosity that,... you know."
"Yes. Do you think he's attractive?"
"Sure. Yes, he looks like he's in great shape."
"So, what's your point?"
"Just that we may have to- or maybe even want to, um, share."
"Ohh. You mean that we could offer it up if we,..."
"Or if they want to. We uhh,..."
"Do we want to do that?" Victoria asked.
"We may not have a choice, once we decide to, ahhh,..."
"Well, yes. We'll be committed then and it could very well come to that. I mean, letting them watch is a slippery slope, isn't it?"
"And, once they joined, how long would it be before I ended up with your Reggie's cock in my mouth?"
Victoria was speechless at this. It was the last type of thing she would ever have expected to come from Janet Fulton, but her choice of how to express her thoughts brought home the reality of what they were talking about.
"I'm sorry, sweetie. I'm just,..."
"I know. It's okay." Victoria managed.
"I've been worrying about this a lot. Ever since we became closer."
"I know. I tend to put off worrying about things until I have to."
"Yes, I know. It's what got us through a lot of times, but,..."
"Well, I did something that I really didn't want to do. For a lot of reasons."
"Well, like I said, I've been really worried and so I had to ask,... Mr. Buckner,... I asked him if I could have a small supply of the potion to take with me."
" ... What?"
"Yes. At first he said no and I apologized all over myself for asking, but then I explained why. I told him about us and how we'd grown closer, how we wanted to be together and honest with our husbands about us, but weren't sure if we could be and about the risk involved,... Well, to make a long story short, he agreed to give me some."
" ... What?"
"Well, I had to make sure we had every option, Vicky. This has to work out, I don't need to convince you of what all hangs in the balance."
"I'm the choir and you're the preacher, sister, but are you really prepared to use the potion on him? He'll clue in once he sobers up, you know."
"I know, but I asked Mr. Buckner about that. It turns out that I could give him very small doses every day in his coffee and he'd be sort of open to some 'supported suggestion', as Mr. Buckner put it."
"And he wouldn't know?"
"Cumulative effect." Janet told her. "He wouldn't be anything like, say Dr. McNeer was, but he would be easier to convince of some things that he might not otherwise be."
"And when you run out of the potion?"
"Once he's where we need him to be, I'll slowly cut back so he can have time to acclimatize to a new reality, whatever that might turn out to be."
Victoria blinked at her a few times, impressed despite herself. Yet again, she never would have thought it of her, would herself have had to think long and hard about doing such a thing to Reggie, then realizing that Janet had almost certainly done just that.
"I can't believe he let you have any."
"Me neither, really. I honestly wasn't expecting him to give me any, even after I explained. He said he wouldn't have if it were anybody else. He really likes and trusts us a lot."
"He must. So, you're prepared to do this?"
"If I have to. I mean, I don't want to, but if I think it'll tip the balance to our favour,... Needless to say, I don't feel good about it, and you can probably see why I find it hard to see myself in the same way I did before this weekend."
"Yeah. I didn't realize. You surprise me, sometimes."
"I hope you're not disappointed in me."
"No. It tells me how important to you I am."
Janet smiled warmly at her and took her hand, saying, "A lot of people wouldn't see it that way and I wouldn't blame them."
"I'm not a lot of people, just Victoria, and I appreciate that you're prepared to go to those lengths."
"It would be impossible to live beside each other and not be together now, feeling the way we do. One of us would have to move and we'd always regret it, would always miss each other no matter what responsibility we felt we'd have lived up to. You know that."
"Yes. I wouldn't want that."
"And one of our husbands would end up getting fed the potion anyway, so he could be convinced to move." Victoria's blonde girlfriend joked.
"Hm. Well, that's something we'll have to think and talk about later, like you said. Right now, we should get moving, go over our stories and make sure we're solid."
"You're right. I'm all done here, anyway."
"Me too. Babe?"
"Have you thought of how much better our days will be with each other from now on?"
"Yes, I have."
"Um, do you think we have time to be together before we get back home? Just for a little while?"
Janet smiled and said, "I was really hoping we could be, sweetie. Come on, I'll throw this stuff in the garbage and you go get the car started. I know this nice, private little spot close to home,..."
"I love when you call me that."
----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Down a quarter mile long, grassy road, the dusty ghost of the Firebird came to a stop at the edge of a pleasant field. Victoria had fretted the entire way in about hurting Reggie's car, creeping along in first gear while Janet assured her that it would be fine.
They were at the outskirts of their home town and, more precisely, at Janet's 'spot'. It was a place that nobody else in her life knew about, the place her father would park when she was a girl before setting across the field with her towards the woods with their fishing equipment. They would routinely dare the steep embankment back there, their reward the dark pools of the hidden brook where trout hid on nice summer days.
"Nice.", Victoria said, smiling at her over the roof of the car.
Janet came around to the driver's side as Victoria finished kicking off her shoes before taking some lazy steps through the grass. Removing her own, she walked behind her, enjoying the natural, green carpet beneath her feet.
"I expected the 'no-tell-motel', but I guess I should have expected better." Victoria said over her shoulder.
"Only the best for you, Vicky."
Victoria turned and shot that smile, the one that wasn't quite the party girl, but more like the 'perma-teen', that childless, youthful, unground expression of the truly irresponsible. Janet found herself laughing at this familiar description of her neighbor as she looked lovingly at her, walking backwards further out into the field as she kept up.