tagNovels and NovellasThe Wanderings of Amy Ch. 19

The Wanderings of Amy Ch. 19


Chapter 19 - Burnside's Ghosts

Leaving Burnside's house, Amy, Paul, and Wendy were too tired to notice that the front door stayed open a couple of inches until they drove off. The professor quietly watched the three students as they made their way down her sidewalk; Paul and Amy holding hands and Wendy close to Amy. She watched Paul open up the back passenger door for Wendy and the front one for Amy. She watched Paul get into the driver's seat and close his door. He turned on the ignition and they were gone.

The silent woman in the doorway thought about Amy for a few minutes, and about the huge break she had given her that night. Was that student really so special? Did she really deserve all the attention and chances her professor had given her? She saw something in Amy, something that set her apart, but what?

Burnside's thoughts turned to Paul. He truly loved Amy. The professor reflected that she never had a boyfriend like him. Her love of fetish and her violent temper had made any normal relationship out of reach for Ruth Burnside. Sure, she had enjoyed plenty of sexual relationships. She loved sex and always had at least one lover at all times in her life; usually more than one. But she never had experienced having a boyfriend walk her to his car, holding her hand, and opening the door for her.

She had big plans for Amy, which fortunately had not been derailed by her student's failure to comply with the student aide contract. Still, the professor felt a pang of regret that her plans probably would force Amy to break up with Paul.

Burnside closed her front door and contemplated the mess in the living room and kitchen she had to deal with. She walked over to her coffee maker and helped herself to what was left of the coffee. The coffee tasted bitter after having sat out all night. Appropriate. Matches my mood.

Burnside took a shower and stood looking at herself in her hallway mirror. My fucking tits, she thought; God they look nasty. Just a few years ago she had been proud of her large breasts. They still looked all right in a bra or corset. But recently they had fallen. Loose, they sagged like two partially deflated water balloons, according to the woman's critical view of herself. Her skeptical eye scanned the rest of her body. It still looked OK. But for how much longer? Menopause was staring her in the face. Two, maybe three years more at the most. Then she would look like shit. Just another single old woman. With that on her mind she crawled in bed.

She could not sleep. She was up after a few minutes, dressed in a sweatsuit. She did what she always did when she was depressed; turn on CNBC. As an economist, the lies and cheerleading coming out of CNBC and the other stock channels held a morbid fascination for her. What a bunch of bullshit, she thought. These people belong in jail, promoting stocks that could not hold their value, predicting big things for sectors of the economy that were already over-inflated.

She stared quietly at the screen, remembering her own bitter experience with "high finance", and what happens when foresight gets in the way of profits. Dr. Ruth Burnside saw the telecommunications crash coming, long before the sector peaked. The law of supply and demand. Wasn't anyone paying attention? Too much capacity was being built, too many losses being hidden in acquisitions. Yes, she saw it all coming, and tried to warn the public. The only reward she got for trying to tell the truth was to be blacklisted from the stock channels. They wanted cheerleaders, not the truth. Yes, she had been right, but in the end it didn't matter. Her warnings went unheard, and all those investors (the small ones, that is) lost out.

The embittered economist sipped her cold, bitter coffee as she sat listlessly before the TV, listening to the latest flood of lies spewing out. Men, especially, seemed to be real suckers for this crap. The female announcer had just the right mix of beauty and professional appearance to play to male egos. The professor felt that she could put herself in the heads of the men watching this actress pretending to be an analyst.

Yeah. They were going to be the next Rockefeller by watching CNBC.

The new economy. The new era. New technology. What total shit. The fundamentals never change; they haven't in over 500 years. Go back to the law of supply and demand. Look at history, that's where you will find the truth about the "new economy". But no one was listening.

After torturing herself with CNBC and cold coffee for an hour, Burnside noticed it was light outside. Time to walk the dog.

Old Maynard was on the back porch. The dog, named after the famous economist John Maynard Keynes, was 17, and looked it. His muzzle was white, his eyes covered with cataracts. The dog wagged his tail feebly and struggled to his feet.

Maynard, you're not looking too good today, thought Burnside. The animal seemed to perk up when he saw the leash. The dog's owner was relieved. She had promised herself the day Maynard did not care about his walk would be the day he would have to be put to sleep.


The professor reflected about her past as she slowly walked behind her decrepit dog. For the first time in a while her thoughts went back to her childhood. She thought about her religious, optimistic parents. They were so naive. They were suckered time and time again, with their house, with their cars, with their insurance, with their investments. No matter how many times her father was ripped off, he always seemed to maintain his faith in the goodness of humanity and the generosity of God. The family lived in poverty, not because there was no money, but because her father was such an idiot about spending it. There always seemed to be bums hanging around, asking her parents for handouts. Invariably they received what they wanted. Ruth and her sister may not have had enough to eat, but the bums always got theirs.

Ruth Burnside grew up hating many things. She hated weak people, and she hated optimists. She hated people who looked on the bright side of things, because the bright side of life was something she never experienced.

From a very early age Ruth hated her parents, a hatred that eventually expanded to everything associated with their lifestyle and beliefs. She hated their fake cheerfulness, she hated their optimism, she hated their religion. She hated her used clothes and meals of Hamburger Helper. She hated seeing the money that should have been used to make her and her sister comfortable instead go to all those fucking bums. She hated being told that God smiled upon those who made sacrifices for the less fortunate. Ruth developed a foul temper and a controlling disposition, even at an early age.

Ruth's feelings towards her parents were more hostile contempt than actual hatred, but towards their pastor she felt nothing but pure loathing. She blamed her church for making her parents into hapless puppets who were detached from any sense of reality. The sight of that deranged man screaming at his pulpit week after week, with his eyes wide with fanatical belief and sweat pouring down his face, did much more to make Ruth into an atheist than anything she could have learned in her science classes.


As she strolled behind Maynard, waiting for him to dump, the professor's thoughts turned to sex and S&M. Her interest in sex first began as an act of rebellion against her parents. Of course, in her household anything having to do with sexual expression was savagely condemned. The message was pounded into her and her sister constantly, not just by her parents, but also by her shrieking pastor and various Bible-study leaders.

At a very early age Ruth engaged in sexual play with other young teenagers, precisely because she knew that she was violating the most strongly-felt values of her parents and defying the most treasured beliefs of her pastor and bible-study leader. The girl's plunge into sexual adventure was not something she drifted into; it was a decision she took on her own. Sex became Ruth's early obsession in life. She became as fanatical about sexuality as her parents were about their religion. Ruth pursued her secret life with combination of research at the library and sexual play with her friends. She took advantage of every opportunity to find out what she could and already had picked up a surprising amount of information by the time she was only 13. Even before she finished middle school Ruth knew more about sex than most adults.

Ruth's friends were a group of neighborhood boys, some of who were slightly older than she was. They began experimenting when the older boys reached puberty. Ruth, at age eleven, started to use the boys' interest in sex and the fact that she was the only girl in the group to control them. Ruth's increasing control over the boys was a gradual process. She learned to play on their weaknesses. The boys learned that everything with Ruth had its price. She loved forcing the boys to strip completely, sometimes in exchange for something as small as a kiss. Anything more than that had a much heavier price.

By the time she was 13, Ruth became interested in punishing her group-mates. She used her own body to bargain punishments with her friends. From the group there was one boy in particular with whom she spent her time. He let her punish him as much as she wanted. His parents were never home until after six, so Ruth and her friend spent hours at his house after school. He was the only boy in the group for whom she took off all of her clothes. She let him feel and kiss her body. She started to experiment with massaging him. Ruth's price for letting him see and touch her was that he had to lie naked on the sofa while she slapped his bottom and legs. She told him that he could not get up until she allowed him to. If he did, she would never let him see her again. She had him under her control.

Ruth's love of this fetish quickly increased. She loved the sense of control that she had over her friend. Hitting him seemed to give her power that she did not have in any other area of her life. She loved the sight of his naked adolescent body, covered with pink marks and squirming on the sofa. After a couple of months Ruth found an excuse to punish him with his father's belt. The sight of the reddish belt marks on her friend's bottom excited her even more.

Ruth's friend desperately wanted to have sex with her. Slowly she used his desire as a bargaining chip for more severe punishments. She experimented spanking him with other household items such as breadboards and bath brushes. She began to experiment with different positions, such as having him bend over a chair. She delighted in forcing him to do risky things such as streak outside around the house. A couple of times she locked him outside nude, and forced him to stand at the back door negotiating what he had to do to be let back in. Very slowly she let him do more and more with her, but the exchange was always in her favor.

Finally, after two years, Ruth let him get inside of her. After the first time she loved it. She learned at a very early age the joys of combining pleasure and pain.

The first time was on a hot summer day. Ruth and her friend decided to go out into the nearby forest park. She could tell he was desperate to have her. They walked a long way and came upon a growth of willows. Ruth suddenly remembered that willows were what you make switches out of. While her friend watched nervously, she cut some and cleaned off the bark. They found a clearing with a fallen tree lying on the ground. Suddenly she turned to him and took his hand.

"Do you still want me?"

He nodded.

"You gotta to prove it. Get your clothes off."

Ruth took hers off as well. The boy bent over the dead tree and she began switching him. The stripes on his bottom were darker than anything she had seen before. She was totally aroused. The feel of the hot sun against her own body exhilarated her even more. She grabbed his shirt and threw it on the ground. She kissed him and massaged him until he was totally hard. She lost her virginity on his shirt. The blood fascinated her, even though it was her own. She did not enjoy the pain of the first time, but she knew it got better once the first time was out of the way. She made him wear the bloody shirt on the way back.

From that point she had several sexual relationships in school. However, she did not want a normal relationship with tenderness and commitment. What she wanted was the feeling of control that always accompanied punishing her boyfriends. At that time Ruth's sister worked in a pharmacy and was able to supply her with condoms, so in high school Ruth stayed out of trouble. Taking a whipping and wearing a condom, those were to two conditions for anyone who wanted to have sex with Ruth Burnside. She was surprised how many of her classmates were desperate enough for sex to be willing to meet her two conditions.

Ruth spent much of her youth avidly studying S&M literature. When she was 16 one of her old group-mates got a job at a bookstore and was able to get her some books on S&M, both fiction and pictures. The pictures with leather interested her. She loved the black clothing and its contrast with white skin. She still could not get into the adult bookstores to see this stuff for real. She had to wait another two years. But her imagination was fired. The feeling of control, of power, that she experienced by inflicting pain on guys desperate for sex filled her fantasy life.

Ruth took full advantage of her teenage classmates' desperation for sex. She made herself available to a lot of the guys who, for whatever reason, could not have anyone else. But there was always a cost. Sex was on Ruth's terms; a few minutes of pleasure in exchange for a punishment. By this time she had collected some breadboards, bath brushes, and belts and knew how to use them to maximum effect. She knew how to dominate her lovers. More than anything else in her life she loved the sight of a 16- or 17-year old classmate on his knees, nervously looking up at her, waiting.


As a young teenager Ruth Burnside became as obsessed with money as she was with sex. She knew that understanding money was just as important as having it, just as understanding sex was just as important as experiencing it. Ruth's early experience with money began as soon as she entered high school, a clandestine career that gave her much more control over her daily life than her parents could have envisioned or would have granted.

An unexpected result of Ruth's fixation with learning about the forbidden topic was that, by age 14, her research skills matched those of many college students. When she entered high school Ruth already knew how to search through card catalogues, conduct investigations, and rapidly go through shelves of books for selected information. She became an expert at locating everything from obscure medical passages about sexual intercourse to sex scenes in novels. She had to learn how to search for the information by herself, because she was not about to let the library staff know what she was looking for.

High school research projects that daunted her classmates were nothing to Ruth. Upon entering the ninth grade, she began earning illicit income by writing term papers for various classmates. She did excellent original work that was not traceable as cheating and forced her customers to take the time to learn what was in the papers they were turning in to avoid being caught. As Ruth's reputation spread her prices went up. She had no qualms about taking advantage of a classmate's desperate situation to extort more money, or forcing two classmates to bid against each other to get a paper. Her knowledge of plagiarism and her total contempt for people unwilling to do their own work began at a very early age.

The most important lesson Ruth learned from her high school career of writing black-market term papers was the power having money could give her. As she increased her small hoard of cash, she learned that to have money was to have choices and freedom. No longer did she have to ask her parents for anything (not that she would have gotten it anyway), because whatever she wanted she could purchase with her own cash. Apart from items she could pass off as school supplies, she couldn't buy anything expensive-looking that her parents would see at home. However, in her school locker she kept several pairs of new shoes, some books, cosmetics, a large collection of cassette tapes and a Walkman, and other small luxuries that would have outraged her parents and pastor. Whenever she wanted to get something expensive to eat, she bought it. By the time she finished high school the only thing she needed or wanted from her parents was a place to sleep.

Ruth Burnside graduated from high school with a vast knowledge of academic topics. However, her intelligence was not reflected in her grades, because she had spent so much of her time doing other people's work instead of her own. Her grades were slightly above average, but not outstanding and definitely not good enough to earn her any scholarships or grants. Of course, from her parents there would be no money for college. The church, the bums, and the con-artists had taken it. Like her sister before her, Ruth enlisted in the Navy and later would go to college on the GI bill.


Just before she enlisted, Ruth celebrated her 18th birthday by touring several sex shops. She did not have enough money to buy the expensive items, but she would be in the Navy in a few weeks and then would have some income. Her ability to extract a heavy cost for sex took off when she put on her sailor's uniform. There was no shortage of desperate guys willing to do anything for a few minutes of sex in the Navy. Seaman Burnside now had money, so she could buy the leather sex toys she craved. The Navy gave her a steady supply of lovers to use them on, including a couple of officers.

Burnside reflected that it must have been in the Navy when everyone started calling her and thinking of her as Burnside instead of Ruth. Briefly, as an undergraduate, people did call her Ruth again, but she still thought of herself as Burnside, and signed all of her papers and correspondence with just her last name. By the time she entered graduate school, not many people even knew her first name.

Burnside liked the military. She liked the discipline and attitude about weakness. She liked having plenty of spending money. She liked her growing savings account. She would have stayed in had she not become pregnant. The pregnancy hit her a few months before her first contract was about to finish. She wanted an abortion, but her ship was at sea and she did not have access to a clinic until it was too late. Rather than sign up again, she returned to civilian life to wait out the pregnancy. She applied to several universities and lived off her savings until the baby was born.

She gave up the child for adoption. She had to, not because of her financial situation, but because she knew that her violent temper would make her an abusive parent. She cared for her daughter enough to know that she could not raise her. She was brutally honest about herself with the adoption agency. When her adoption counselor suggested that she seek help for controlling her anger, Burnside snapped "My temper is part of who I am. I can't fix it. That's why I'm here."

Burnside avoided sex for almost two and a half years after she had her daughter. She was disgusted with having allowed herself to become pregnant. She knew better. She punished herself by staying celibate until she finished her undergraduate degree.

Burnside's self-imposed punishment ended as soon as she had her undergraduate diploma. Her fantasies returned with a vengeance when she joined a Chicago sex group. She began to have longer-term relationships with other graduate students and professors who also were into fetish. One of her old professors, her first mentor Jim Halsey, was still her most trusted lover to this day, after nearly 20 years. Burnside started hosting small S&M parties at her apartment. Those gatherings later evolved into the elaborate parties that she currently hosted three times a year at her house.

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