Brother Love Ch. 04byqhml1©
"You need a lawyer."
We were at my kitchen table. Josh, Amber, Sara, Julie, and our newest member, Joyce. Julie, always thinking business, was the one that spoke.
"Because sooner or later you're going to broach a subject that will piss someone off enough to sue you. It happens all the time. Mostly they care about money, sometimes they just want to shut you down."
We debated it, but in the end, they all thought it was a good idea, so I went with the group.
I called the only lawyer I knew, Warren Withers. He was Aunt Elsa's lawyer, and her husband's while he was still alive. they went back over twenty five years. He was the one who handled her will, guiding me through everything with ease.
He was surprised to hear from me. Even more surprised when he found out what I was doing. He gave me a time, and I took Julie with me.
"I'm not even going to ask why. You can tell you're related to Elsa. She's probably laughing her ass off wherever she is. This isn't my field, you need an entertainment lawyer. I'll research, find someone for you. In the meantime, write me a check for twenty five dollars. It will establish me on retainer, and make me your lawyer of record. I got a feeling you may need me, down the line."
He grinned, thinking of the future. He loved publicity and controversy. He started out as a civil rights lawyer during the sixties. Got beaten up a few times, jailed more often. But he won, a lot, and soon found himself courted by big firms.
He went out and recruited lawyers as idealistic and passionate as he was, and built an empire. One of the requirements for partnership was to commit twenty percent of their hours pro bono. They did a lot of work with Amnesty International, and the ALCU, as well as local projects referred to them. If they took your case, your probability of being proven innocent went up eighty one percent. If you were innocent. If not, they urged plea bargaining.
He handled a few old friends out of loyalty. Great uncle George was a banker, a financial whiz, and a college roommate, who had bailed him out more times than they cared to remember. He and Elsa were kindred spirits and got along famously.
Julie was in awe. After a few minutes in the car she blurted out what was on her mind.
"Do you know who that is?"
"Yes, he's a friend of the family."
"You idiot, that's the most feared defense lawyer in this town, or state, when you get down to it. The call him the Silver Lion."
She paused, eying me.
"You look a lot like him, anybody ever tell you that?"
"Never. Must be the hair."
Warren still wore his hair down to his shoulders, and was very vain about it. He kept it shining, so silver it was almost translucent in it's brightness. It was rumored that if he was losing he would take down his traditional ponytail and comb it out with his fingers while his opponents pressed their case. It was very distracting. The fact that for his age he was very fit and ruggedly handsome may have contributed to him trying to load the jury with middle aged women.
The lawyer he got was younger than me at twenty seven. But he had a good reputation and came highly recommended. I was astounded at the amount of paperwork he laid out.
"Have your guests sign this. It protects you from lawsuits. Read this disclaimer before every show.
Does the same thing. Incorporate, it'll lessen liability. I'll set it up."
I was now Hal Fast Productions, Inc., and starting to rethink the whole thing.
Josh had podcasts set up, plus got us on youtube. Sarah was friends with the manager of the local college radio station, and they were talking about broadcasting our show the next day, and doing simocasts. I didn't know how it would translate on radio, but it was free, and more people got to hear what was said.
Josh and Amber were putting in a lot of hours that I wasn't paying for. I felt guilty, so I made them a deal. They could live in the caretaker cottage rent free in exchange for the extra hours they put in. This immediately pissed Sarah and Julie off to no end. We reached a compromise when they moved into the second bedroom. It was good and bad.
If I had a question, they were right there. If they had an idea, they never hesitated to barge into the house and share it with me.
Finally we set up privacy guidelines. Part of the deal was they couldn't have parties. I wasn't worried about them, but I didn't want their friends wandering around my house or property, especially if they were high. They could live with that.
Hits on our website had gotten so heavy that we had to set up a separate site to handle guest applications. They would pick what they thought were the most interesting, and I would make the final decision.
"Relationships, traditional marriage, and otherwise. That's our topic for the next show. I won't put restrictions on the type, straight, gay, polygamist, or maybe an alternative I hadn't thought of. Visit our site, and we may get back to you."
That was the blurt for the coming show.
We weren't buried with responses, but pretty close. In the end, we picked a gay couple, a lesbian couple, a polygamist with two wives, one regular married couple, and one couple that were married but agreed ahead to never have sex. Curiosity got me on that one, how were they sustaining? We also had a couple that lived in an 'open' marriage, seeking others out for sexual pleasure while still claiming to love each other and respect their marriage. At the last minute, we added a couple who claimed to have a slave/owner relationship, and a single woman who had decided to live alone, without a permanent mate. More people than we wanted, but they all presented their views so well I decided to keep them all. If necessary, we would do enough for two shows. I made arrangements with the station, just in case.
We also decided to tape the show. It would still be live, this would just allow us to edit out some of the non necessary parts and improve the flow. It also meant guests could come in during reasonable hours, instead of midnight, which is when we aired.
I sent Julie and Joyce out with a check, to find a table big enough to handle fourteen people. They found a huge conference table at a used furniture store. We had it delivered to the studio we were using and Joyce set up three microphones, using the group for sound checks.
Carlos told me I needed at least one more camera to be able to get the shots we needed on such a large group, so we added one more guy, just for the night.
I thought about it for a little while, I was a big fan of Charlie Rose when he had his PBS show. Not so much now that he was on regular television, but on his old show he did most of his interviews at what looked like a kitchen table. I had the girls get one, capable of seating six, to use later. It looked more intimate, somehow, and very few people stress while sitting at a table, compared to a couch setting. That's what Sarah said, anyway.
When we taped, we gathered all the guests and had them sign the waivers my lawyer had prepared.
I explained in detail.
"Look, it's my show, but your opinions. I may not share them, but if I hadn't wanted to hear them I wouldn't have invited you. BUT, they are your opinions, and you're responsible for them."
I read the disclaimer after my opening remarks.
"Just to let you know, folks, the opinions you hear tonight are the responsibility of our guests.
We're just a forum for them. If you disagree with their views or opinions, you have two choices."
"One, turn the channel. No one is forcing you to watch something that offends you. Two, if you do watch, keep an open mind. You might learn something."
I went round the table introducing everyone, but I didn't say who was what. The audience would catch on pretty quick. After I got them settled we got started.
"George Washington said in his farewell address 'beware of entangling alliances'. Of course, he was talking about international treaties, but it applies in real life. In the past, who you mated with determined a lot of your life path. If you aligned with a certain village or tribe, it automatically made others your enemy. Now, it's mostly financial and social. The theme echoes through time. Even now, especially for women, one of the first thing her peers wonder if is she 'married well'. It's not as prevalent as it was, but it's still there."
"In my opinion, relationships with those you love are the most serious undertakings you'll attempt. Everything you are, everything you become, are shaped and molded by the people dear to you. A few may be shaped by people not so dear, but still have an impact."
"That being said, relationships can take on many forms with many people. The standard for us, of course, is the husband/wife/child relationship."
"But what if you want something different? What if the standard just doesn't work for you? Do you give up? Or do you forge a new style of relationship, something that brings you peace, satisfaction, joy? Some of our guests tonight have found alternatives that work for them. Let's begin."
I turned to my first guest.
"What better way to start out than by interviewing someone who has chosen not to have a permanent relationship, one of a growing group of people, especially urban women, who prefer to go through life without a permanent partner. Natalie, did I say that right?"
Natalie, a tall, willowy blonde with a beautiful smile, nodded.
"More or less. I had two serious relationships before I chose this path. Both ended badly, my fault both times. I wasn't unfaithful, I just wasn't willing to give that much of myself away. When I realized that I was happier alone, I never looked back."
Carol, one of the lesbian couple, asked a question.
"Don't you miss the connection you only have with someone you love?"
"I don't think I've ever been truly in love. My last permanent partner loved me totally, but he wanted too much of me. Plus, he wanted children, and I've never felt the primal urge to procreate.
Maybe I'm just a selfish person. Maybe I'm a little off, but at least I've come to terms with who I am. I'm happy. I have a large circle of friends, many who think as I do. I've been more content in the last four years than any other point in my life."
"What about sex?" blurted out one of the other guests, one of the polygamist wives.
"I enjoy sex. I have regular relations with three men who have the same mindset I do. We admire each other, I'm particularly close to one, we've even vacationed together on occasion. But, by the end of the week, we're both more than happy to go home alone. And I'm not a slut, regardless of how it sounds. We're careful, use protection, and get checked every three months, just in case."
There were a few more questions, and we went to the next guests, the polygamists.
"This is Charlie, Claire, and Cat. Rather than go into their circumstances, I'll let them explain."
Cat was apparently the driving force in the relationship. A short, chunky redhead, her personality resembled that of a happy pit bull. Forceful yet loving.
"If anyone would have told me when I was twenty I would be happy in a relationship where I had to share my husband, I would have either laughed or slapped them."
"I was married before. So was was Claire. Both failed for different reasons. We ended up sharing an apartment, commiserating about the failings of men in general and our husbands in particular. We didn't date for awhile, eight months for me, almost a year for Claire. The first few after that ranged from amusing to horrible."
"We got into a habit of analyzing each date, and started constructing the perfect mate, ranking him in attributes. He had to be kind. Loyal. Understanding. He had to want kids, and we had to feel he'd make a good father. He had to be good in bed, or at least trainable. Sexually, size didn't matter as long as he could satisfy us. He didn't have to be handsome, just presentable. What we wanted went deeper than outside appearances."
"Of course, we were looking for a man for each of us, we had no idea we would ever be considering sharing."
"Then Claire met Charlie. He wasn't impressive, at first. He was so calm, and quiet. It took her two dates to see past the surface. She received some unwanted attention from another man, someone she used to date. We were double dating, so I got to witness it."
"The guy was rude. Charlie remained quiet until he grabbed her arm. I don't know exactly what he did, but he removed the man's hand and forced him to his knees. In a calm voice he asked him to apologize, and leave us in peace."
"What happens if I decide to take her away from you?" The man sneered. He was a lot bigger than Charlie.
"Charlie smiled. It chilled me to see it. There was malice in that smile."
"Then I let you get to your feet, take you outside, and beat the hell out of you. Your choice. Fight, or apologize."
He had bent over, so he could look the guy in the eye. I don't know what the guy saw in his eyes, but he practically ran out of the building."
"Claire sat there amazed. Why did you do that, she asked."
"Because I like you. Because you were with me, and I protect what's mine, even if it's in just a social situation. It's the way I was raised. If you have difficulty with that, I'll escort you home."
"I think we both fell in love with him then. Claire just snuggled into him, thanking him for defending her."
"Claire and I talked a lot that night after the date, both taken by this quiet, forceful man."
"She got more and more serious over him while I continued to date losers and idiots. I think my problem was I kept comparing them to Charlie, and they just didn't measure up."
"It all changed when Claire had to have her appendix removed. Charlie had gotten tickets to a touring Broadway show, one of her favorites, months ago. He was going to give them to a friend when Claire convinced him to go, and take me."
"My two favorite people in the world, doing something they both love. Do it for me, she said."
"It was a dream date. He was kind, attentive, putting me first. We saw the show, attended a reception with some of the actors, drank, danced a little. I was sad to see it end."
"He escorted me to the door. Honest, it was just supposed to be a friendly goodnight kiss. But it wasn't. It was hot, intense, unlike everything I had ever felt. No idea how long it lasted, a few seconds, months, who knows? But when we broke it, everything had changed. I'll let Charlie continue."
Charlie cleared his throat, choosing his words.
"I was falling in love with Claire. She was everything I thought I wanted in a woman. Attractive, sweet, level headed. Our relationship was progressing nicely, and I was starting to think long term."
"Most roommates, especially women like Claire and Cat, both getting over bad relationships, tend to be protective of each other. I even thought she might be an obstacle. I was wrong."
"Cat was more forceful, less worried about hurting feelings. Not mean, just direct. I admired her for that. We just said what we thought and let each other deal with it. I found it very refreshing. We got along famously."
"When Claire had her appendix removed, we were both at the hospital as long as they would allow. I was really surprised when Claire insisted we use our tickets. I think I did it to please her as much as anything else."
"I had never really seen Cat dressed up. I know I made a fool of myself at the door. She was quite stunning."
"We enjoyed the performance, and the reception afterwards, especially the dancing. She was like a feather on the floor."
"Maybe we drank more than we should, maybe it was the magic of the moment, but we we kissed I felt like I had been hit with an electric charge. It felt almost exactly like it did when I kissed Claire. I left their apartment a very confused individual."
I asked if they made the leap into polygamy quickly. Claire spoke for the first time.
"Not at all. In fact, Charlie kind of disappeared."
He stopped dating me, making weak excuses when I called. Cat was acting weird at the same time, I was really unhappy. The one person I felt understood me didn't want to talk about it. I finally went to his job and confronted him."
"He broke down and confessed to kissing Cat and the feeling he got when he did. I was devastated. I went home and railed at Cat, and she cried and apologized until I stopped."
"We walked around each other carefully for the next two weeks. Cat finally called Charlie and chewed him out, telling him he was taking me out Saturday and if I didn't have a good time she was going to kick his ass."
"we went out, it was as good as before as long as we avoided the elephant in the room. Cat stopped dating, saying she was taking a break. Though she tried to hide it, I could see glimpses of pain in her eyes when I told her about my dates."
"To this day I can't tell you why I did it, but I told Charlie if he didn't take Cat out and cheer her up, I wouldn't see him anymore. He did, reluctantly. This set a pattern for the next eight months. I would go out with him twice, then Cat."
Cat came back into the conversation.
"Finally, we were going to see a movie that Claire really wanted to see. You should have seen the look on his face when he came to pick me up and we were both ready."
"Honey, I said, we both want to see this movie and it makes no sense to make you sit through it twice. We're all going, no argument."
"After that night, we all went out together. He got really intense goodnight kisses from both of us, every time. One night we said the hell with it, and dragged him into the apartment."
"Before you ask, there were no wild threesomes, and we're not bi. When one wanted to be intimate, the other stayed in another bedroom. We generally chose, and Charlie never complained. Usually though, after the lovemaking was over, the other would end up sleeping in the same bed."
"Charlie was extremely careful to treat us exactly the same. It got irritating, and we stopped him, knowing if one got a little extra attention now the other would later."
"Claire and I were afraid to plan long term, but, true to his nature, Charlie took charge. He called us one afternoon and gave us an address, with instructions to be there in an hour."
"It was a house, one for sale in a nice neighborhood. He and the realtor were standing by the door."
He had the realtor show us around while he stayed out of the way. It was a fabulous house, we both adored it."
"He sat us on the couch and asked the realtor to give us a moment alone."
"He asked each of us if we liked the house, he was seriously considering buying it. We told him we did, and Claire asked why he needed such a big house."
"For the kids I want, after I marry. We both choked up, thinking he had found someone else. He knelt between us, a ring box in each hand."
"Claire, Cat, I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, raise our kids together. Will you marry me?"
"The rings were identical. Of course, he wouldn't marry just one of us, he said, it's all or nothing. He felt like we were already soulmates, no paper could change that."
"And that is how we ended up on your show. We're not ashamed of our relationship. It's been three years now, and I think we love each other more, if that's possible. Oh and Claire has something to add. She won the coin toss, you'll understand in just a few minutes."
The whole table looked expectantly at Claire. She took Cat and Charlie by the hand,
"I'm very pleased to announce in six more months, on of our empty bedrooms will become the new nursery. Honey, it's a girl."
Charlie sat there with his mouth hanging open before the tears started. It was a very powerful moment, and we left it in. Cat enjoyed the moment before finishing.