Still here

Have been on vacation and whatnot . . .

More posts soon . . .

Why do I click on certain links? Why?

I came upon the following video.  (Sorry about the ad -- turn your sound down for 25 seconds at the beginning.)  It's an ex-Facebook executive talking about how he's still working, even though he no longer needs to.  It's full of wonderful high-minded sentiments.

I wonder if the guy, who is still working partly because "I Have Kids And I Don't Want To Be A Douchebag," has any clue that only a douchebag keeps working after winning the lottery?

Oh well.

The Cases of Lenora X, Domme Detective: 50 Shades of Black and Blue (4)

The Will to Submit, I


       I pour some more bourbon into the glass and look around.  Boxes and lids and files and papers are everywhere, artfully disarranged around Chinese takeout containers.  I pick one up and stab at the Hunan Shrimp with My chopsticks, taking stock of My investigation into Frankie Boots' Ultra Secret Last Case.

       Frankie used to have a saying, "I'm so nowhere on this case I need a parka."  It made no sense, of course, but it made Me laugh and it did express the frustration of a challenging and opaque case, somehow.

       And so far on this case, I needed a parka, badly.

      Going over the files and notes and pictures Frankie's sister had given Me, so far I had come up with the following:

              1.  An entity known as KTA Enterprises had hired Frankie.
              2.  They suspected that one or more employees was stealing company secrets and selling them to the competition, and wanted Frankie to investigate.   Discreetly.       
              3.  Frankie started checking it out . . . discreetly . . .
              4.  Frankie didn't find anything noteworthy.
              5.  But, he kept at it.  
              6.  Then, nothing.  The paper trail ends.

       I put the container down, mind idly wandering to the weird flavor mixture of Hunan Shrimp and bourbon in My mouth.

       It was point number 5 on that list that was bothering Me.  Frankie wasn't one to keep grinding nothing case to keep generating fees.  Frankie's approach was do the job, and when it's done, it's done.  Don't feel guilty about fees or retainers -- some cases are naturally quick and some aren't, and you can't tell which is which beforehand.  Given that, Frankie wouldn't "find nothing" and continue on, unless there was something there.  That much I have to take as a given.

       Just what it might've been, I had no idea.

       I set the glass down, and decided to try a different approach, my dogged determination no doubt inspired by the high doses of MSG that Szechuan Star includes free of charge with every meal.

The Will to Submit, II

[present day]

       mandy and I make a great team, because where I'm highly compartmentalized, capable of ignoring almost anything, mandy is highly focused, attuned to everything.  Together we made nearly one reasonably sane woman.  Of course mandy was constantly horrified at My ability to tune just about anything out . . . and I was equally horrified at her capacity to worry about stuff.

       Lately mandy had taken to stopping what she was doing and just looking at me.  I can only assume that for every time I noticed it there were ten other times I didn't notice it.  When I looked back at her, she didn't say anything.  We both knew that she didn't have to -- the look was mandy's way of saying "OK, someone is out there trying to kill you.  What are we going to do about it?"  My not answering her was My way of saying "if someone wants to kill Me I really can't prevent it, so why go nuts worrying?"  Eventually mandy would stop looking at Me, shake her head (a very little), and go back to what she was doing.

       Thankfully there weren't business/money problems, so our relationship didn't suffer.  When there is money I more or less think everyone is more or less great, shallow materialistic Bitch that I am, so other problems just don't seem so pressing.  This of course infuriates mandy even more, because whereas money to Me is freedom, to mandy it's responsibility -- just one more thing to worry about.

       This time I see mandy about to lift her head and look at Me.  I decide to head it off at the pass, give mandy what she needs, and take the afternoon off at the same time.  I open a drawer and pull seven $100s  from the not-very-secret place I keep a few grand in mad money.  I get up.

      "Come on, sweetheart . . . let's have a long lunch at L'Escargot, kill a bottle of overpriced Bordeaux, and talk about some important things."  mandy looked elated and practically flew out of her chair.  I put the phones in Night Mode and locked the door behind us.  I wanted mandy to know the whole afternoon was hers.     

The Will to Submit, III

[early 1990s]

       I walked into the club and immediately wanted to run back out again.  What the hell was I doing here in the first place?  My friend Suzanne had talked Me into going with her -- she had some connection whereby we'd get in without being carded -- both of us all of 18, and barely that.  But we looked hot, I had to admit, and many was the place that looked the other way when pretty girls wanted in.

       Normally I'd have been thrilled to be getting into a hot club, but for some reason Suzanne was fascinated with this place, The Fortress, a bondage club for Christ's sake.  She was too chicken to go alone, so Me being the very good friend I always was, tagged along.  As Suzanne had told Me, we walked right in, no ID no cover no nothing.  In some way I'd convinced Myself that this might actually end up being an OK night.

      That faint hope lasted as long as it took to actually get inside.

       The Fortress was aptly named.  Dark, angular, smoky . . . once you entered it seemed to suck you in and make you feel as though getting out wold be a lot harder than getting in had been.  I looked around, trying not to be wide-eyed, and trying not to notice people staring at the obviously out of place new girls who'd just wandered in.  Thankfully I had the ignorance of youth going for Me -- I probably should've been way more scared than I was.

       Suzanne tried to say something but just as she spoke the band started up, and a wave of sound that was almost tangible engulfed the room, making it impossible to talk, and difficult even to think.  Suzanne somehow had gotten drinks and handed Me one.  No point in asking what it was -- the question nor the answer would be heard.  I took a healthy swig and made a face, quickly catching Myself so that I didn't look totally like an underage stowaway on the Good Ship BDSM.

       I kept drinking whatever the hell it was -- gin, maybe, and something -- and noticed that the second gulp tasted a lot better than the first one had.   Suzanne tapped My shoulder and directed My attention to one of the stages, to the right of where the band was blasting away . . . the lyrics were unintelligible but I had a strong inkling that death, despair, and degradation were heavily featured.

       I looked where Suzanne was pointing.  A man in leather pants and no shirt seemed to be in charge.  He was not My type, but well built and reasonably good-looking.  A short girl, Rubenesque, with pretty red hair and a lot of freckles joined the man on the stage.  In a matter of seconds the girl was naked and bound with her hands above her head.  I looked at Suzanne a moment . . . she shrugged back at Me.  I idly wondered if this was at all legal, but quickly decided that those kind of thoughts had no place here.  I took another swig of gin and whatever, marveling at how fucking good it suddenly tasted, and watched the stage, rapt.

       The man in leather unfurled a long whip . . . and within seconds it was snapping and crackling, the sound somehow audible, piercing the wall of metal music like lightning in the midnight sky.  He's clearly an expert, in a way that's obvious somehow even to My untrained eye.  Soon he's artfully using it on the bound girl . . . and even I can tell that her screams aren't strictly screams of pain.

       I waggle My empty glass in Suzanne's direction.  Time seems to slow down, then stop, as I watch.  I'm drinking again;  Suzanne must've gotten Me that refill. The man with the whip and the freckled girl are involved in some kind of magical dance on that stage . . . the music, which was unbearable a few minutes (hours?) ago, now settles into the background, and seems perfectly suited to what I am watching.  The girl is all over the place . . . screaming, crying -- pain, and clearly some kind of ecstasy have overtaken her.  The man with the whip is a study in concentration and mastery.  I drink down whatever's in My glass, and it tastes perfect.  I can feel the coldness of a new glass in My hand, eyes never leaving that stage.  Watching the man with the whip I realize that not only is he Master of that girl he's whipping, he's Master of himself, in a way that makes total sense to Me but which I can't 100% verbalize or think through with clarity.

       I tear My gaze from the stage a moment and look to Suzanne, but she's not there.  I look back at the stage . . . the man has unbound the woman and is holding her tenderly, stroking her sweaty hair.  I take another drink, wondering what became of Suzanne.  I start wading through the crowd, trying to find her.  I feel Myself stumble, and someone catches Me.

Depictions of Female Sexuality in Popular Literature

Twitter is delightfully random in its interconnectedness.  Via a series of re-tweets, I saw a link to the following passage a little while ago.  I never would have seen it otherwise.

"In a lot of the chick lit, depicting women slightly older than me, the sexual maturity is that of a nine-year-old, maybe. The sex is just this giggly and ridiculous activity one is subjected to in order to make a man stay in your house and marry you. There’s no honest expression of female sexual desire, the kind you find even in those old cheesy feminist manuals like Our Bodies, Ourselves. We’ve gone backwards."   --British novelist Zadie Smith

I have several problems with the above.

1.  Why on Earth would anyone use "chick lit" as a barometer of anything significant?  Chick lit is a specialized form of writing, aimed at a tightly-defined audience.  It has not pretensions of saying anything important about life, or love, or sex, jacket blurbs to the contrary.  Decrying that chick lit portrays immature views of female sexuality is like saying that Popular Mechanics doesn't provide good plans for a nuclear submarine.

2.  "There's no honest expression of female sexual desire."  What is honest?  Ms. Smith doesn't know any women who just want to live with/marry a guy?  She obviously travels in more enlightened circles than I do, because I know plenty of women in that situation, and for many of those women good sex (hell, any sex) is a bonus.  And that's as honest as it gets, girlfriend.

3.  "Cheesy feminist manuals like Our Bodies, Ourselves."  I suppose viewed from 40-plus years down the road, OB/OS might seem cheesy.  But even a cursory examination of the history of feminism shows that OB/OS and other books were putting out necessary information, that many/most women not only needed, but didn't know they needed.  It started the conversation about things that no one was talking about, ever, before that time.  That is seems quaint or cheesy now shows that it did its job admirably.

4.  I see a lot of that "honest expression of female sexual desire."  It's really everywhere -- youtube, tumblr, thousands of blogs, twitter, etc.  There are thousands of self-published works where women are expressing very honestly their most private, crazy desires.  Even in some mainstream literature -- a certain class of "enlightened" woman might not like Fifty Shades of Grey, for instance, but one can't argue that it puts sexual desires out there that chick lit would never touch.

5.  Ms. Smith concludes that "we've gone backwards."  Absolutely, positively not true.  No one's "honest sexual desires," man, woman, straight, gay, bi, Dom/me, sub, whatever, are ever going to be mainstream.  Highly idealized/constrained visions of sex -- chick lit, Playboy, romance novels, etc. -- are always going to have a certain people.  But those things will continue to exist and/or thrive is not an indicator of a lack of progress -- it's the way of the world.  But that there is Fifty Shades of Grey, a website for every fetish imaginable, The Adventures of Terri and Jennifer, Literotica, many many websites devoted exclusively to erotica by women, countless tumblrs and blogs where women, straight, gay, and bi, are writing very frankly about sex (and relationships), is an indicator of progress.  The best kind of progress.

What one might want to see in terms of progress, from an academic/theoretical standpoint, one often won't see, because the world, especially the parts directly reflective of human nature, stubbornly refuses to comply with notions of how people should be evolving.

But to say we've gone backwards in the "honest expression of female sexual desire" is to be not paying attention.

This Bud Was Never For You, II

In eighteen months or so, baseball is going to need a new commissioner.  Unlike the NBA, where David Stern is handing the job off to his longtime Deputy Commissioner, it's not at all clear who the baseball owners might be thinking of to succeed Selig.

I have heard various names thrown out there.

Bob Costas -- Would probably be very good for the game in the long run but has no chance of getting the job.  The owners don't want a Commissioner who might tell them that some of Bud's revenue-maximizing schemes are actually not in the best interests of the game or the fans.

Joe Torre -- A name that's getting a lot of mentions.  Is currently working in the MLB front office.  Having seen the man Derek Jeter calls "Mr. Torre" up close and personal for many years as Yankee manager, I'm not that impressed with his potential to be a good Commissioner.  But since one of the job requirements is not managing a bullpen, he's got that going for him.

Peter Gammons -- Ummm . . . no.  Please God, no.

George W. Bush -- Was managing general partner of the Texas Rangers for five years.  Might be interested in the job (expressed an interest before running for President).  And he once fired Bobby Valentine . . . so that's a plus.  The union will hate this choice, obviously.

Condoleeza Rice -- Purely in personal terms I'd like to see the first dominatrix Commissioner.

Bill Clinton -- The union would like him, he's a great talker, and generally a fun guy.  He and A-Rod could cruise chicks during playoff games (although he'll have to find Hillary another gig that entails her traveling a lot).

Sandy Alderson -- Longtime baseball man.  Did an amazing job bringing the umpires to heel (all his good work since undone, alas . . . thanks again, Bud).  Might well want the job, too -- how much fun can being the GM of the Mets be right now?

There are others . . . mostly guys currently working in MLB in some capacity or other.  I'm thinking the owners may go for a more corporate type -- in their eyes baseball is so much more about the business than about the game, and the union and player agents are relentlessly pulling in one direction.  (That direction can be summed by the urban but eloquent "mo' money, mo' money!"  - as in more of the owners' money)  So the union is going to distrust whoever the new Commissioner is . . . the owners will be smart enough (I think) that if they do go for a corporate type, it won't be someone with a perceived history of union-busting.

The new Commissioner will have to navigate a tricky course, assuming his or her term lasts more than a couple of years.   There will a contentious labor negotiation -- baseball's economic model may not be sustainable for a sport that is no longer "America's Pastime" in terms of popularity.  There will be a new TV deal to be done at some point -- will ESPN and Fox keep paying the rates they're paying?  The big market/small market dichotomy will get worse as big market teams pull back on spending, resulting in no more luxury tax revenues and a growing resentment of the revenue-sharing arrangement.  There is the perception that the fans want more extensive/invasive PED testing, a move the union will have to resist.  Small market teams will continue to agitate for a salary cap (although their appetite for a cap diminishes markedly when it's pointed out that a cap includes a salary minimum as well).

The qualitative aspects of the game need work, too.  The umpires are back to their personal strike zones.  I personally find the games generally less exciting lately -- even with the infusion of international talent, the game feels diluted.  This may well have to do with the loss of black players in recent years (I recently read that the percentage of black MLB players is down to 8%).  The new Commissioner needs to do a lot of work to re-popularize baseball in inner cities and among young people.

If the baseball owners are true to past form, they will choose a new CEO (let's call the job what it now is) with less regard for the thorny issues and more regard for who will best pepretuate the status quo, because they're making money, the stands are more or less full (at least in terms of tickets sold -- I see lots of empty seats on TV), there is labor peace and the gullible pubic believes Selig's nonsense about MLB having "the toughest drug policy in professional sports" (this is like saying that your hen house only has one fox in it).

The owners have eighteen months to pick someone.  Since I don't think I'm getting that call, I look forward to watching the process unfold.

This Bud Was Never For You

Bud Selig announced that he is retiring after next season.  (What is it with these sports commissioners and giving 18 months' notice?  David Stern just did the same thing.  Will the search process really be that long?  Are we looking for someone to throw out ceremonial pitches, or to run the Large Hadron Collider?)

Anyway, assuming this retirement is legit (Bud tried to retire a few years ago but supposedly the owners twisted his arm to stay;  personally I doubt it took all that much persuading), a few words about his tenure as Commissioner of Baseball are in order.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Prior to becoming Commissioner, Selig was owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.  Selig, in conjunction with several other owners, a group known as the Midwest Mafia, engineered the infamous collusion scheme, in which team owners agreed clandestinely to not make offers to free agents.  The players' union, not surprisingly, saw exactly what was going on and took baseball to court.  This started in 1985;  finally, in 1990, the owners settled, agreeing to pay the players' union $280 million (about $500 million in today's money).

In the wake of the 1994 strike, the owners recognized that a fundamental change had taken place.  The fact of the players' union meant that whereas in the past the "best interests of baseball" was the guiding principle, and the Commissioner was the one to define those best interests, now Federal labor law was the controlling authority, and the union aggressively filed grievances and hauled the owners into court for every real or perceived violation.  It culminated with the 1994 labor stalemate that cost baseball the end of the season, playoffs, and World Series.  (This is about Bud Selig, but it should be noted that Marvin Miller and Donald Fehr belong in at least as low a circle of Hell as Bud does.)

In this climate, the owners decided that the even-handed approach of a Faye Vincent or Bart Giamatti was no longer called for.  If the players were going to have the courts, the owners were going to have a guy in the top job who was unabashedly in it for the owners' interests.

Enter Bud.

My most vivid memories of 1998 are two.  First and foremost, the Yankees burning a path through baseball en route to winning it all.  Second was Bud's face on TV, seemingly every night, waving the pom poms while roided-up goons laid waste to the home run records.  Over and over the grinning fool praised Sosa and McGwire for "bringing baseball back" after the debacle of 1994.  Meanwhile, the Yankees just quietly (and 100% cleanly, as far as anyone can tell) just kept winning and winning and winning.

Like all owners, Bud's concern for the fans is strictly lip service.  He would have you believe that exclusive windows for Fox and ESPN are somehow good for you, the fan.  He shoved the World Baseball Classic down our throats, which is beloved everywhere except the United States.  Apparently, selling a few more jerseys in Antwerp and Shanghai and Melbourne is somehow good for you, the fan.  World Series games that no one on the East Coast can stay awake to see the end of are somehow good for you, the fan.  That baseball has been passed standing still by the NFL (and college football in many places) is somehow good for you, the fan.

Then to top it all off, Bud gets religion about performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).  Apparently, what was good in 1998, what "brought the game back," was no longer good in the late 2000s.  In fact, worse than "no good."  More like really really evil.  Like, more evil than what was once America's Game being run by a used-car salesman whose venality is his best feature.

The upshot of all this new-found religion about the evils of PEDs?  Barry Bonds convicted of the Federal equivalent of jaywalking, and the Mitchell Report's star informant shown up in Federal Court for the perjuring hanger-on he had always came off as.  Well done, Bud.

Enjoy your retirement, Bud, and the undoubtedly obscenely generous severance the owners are going to give you.  Just please, please, please stay the hell away from baseball.

Reality and Observation

Deepak Chopra posted something on Twitter than I have to respond to, but can't nearly do it in the 140-character confines of Twitter.

His Tweet:

"Empirical measurement is a description of a mode of observation not of fundamental reality."

This is a tricky one.  Dr. Chopra implies that what we perceive empirically is not real.  Such a stance makes the world impossibly opaque, and leaves us in a state of perpetual not-knowingness, and not the good kind.

What is amiss here is not the underlying sentiment, however, but the notion of reality.  Consider this alternate idea --

"Everything empirically perceived is real but not all encompassing."

This idea liberates us from the blind pawing at an unknowable fundamental reality . . . it acknowledges the realness of our perceptions, the accuracy (and the limits) of our science and measuring capabilities, and gives us a basis from which to explore further, building upon what we know to have already established as real.

However, the further implications are, well, staggering.  

1.  Everything empirically perceived . . . meaning, there is no such thing as a hallucination.  How this can be true is embodied in the idea that --

2.  .  . . not all encompassing.  Meaning that reality in its totality contains many unknown aspects, and possibly some unknowable aspects.

Taken together these two concepts at the same give us a basis and shake that basis to its foundations, but without simply denying the (very real) existence of that basis.

This idea does not make things easier.  It makes things much harder, because it prevents us from dismissing aspects of reality that we don't want to deal with, or can't account for ("things that go bump in the night" for example).  But at the same time our state of not-knowingness is at least informed by the small percentage of fundamental reality that we have been able to work out thus far.

Everything You Know Is Wrong, Part I

[It seems like a good time to examine some utterly wrong statements that many people take for granted.  Number 1 in a series.]

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."  --Friedrich Nietzsche

Everyone's heard this one, or something very close.  And from what I can tell the vast majority of us take it as gospel.  

And admittedly it makes a lot of surface sense.  It expresses some ideal of human nature . . . the idea that a human (and by extension, humanity) is made better and stronger by struggle and misfortune and pain, emerging stronger on the other side (or dead, in which case presumably it doesn't matter).

Reality, however, simply does not bear this out.  We're surrounded by examples of cases where people were not killed, but did not emerge stronger.  They are broken, or bitter, or loon-ass crazy.  They end up mean, or criminal, or narcissistic, or fearful to the point of paralysis.  Some of these people are hidden away in our jails and mental institutions; most are not.  They are in our lives, often, and all around us.  Sometimes we're acutely aware of their damage, sometimes not.  Sometimes our own damage prevents us from seeing the extent of the damage around us.

The really insidious inaccuracy of "that which does not kill us makes us stronger" lies not in the failures, however, but rather in the apparent successes.  We can all see and understand, to varying degrees, the sad or neurotic or fearful broken person, trampled down by the harsh randomness of life and the unique hell that other people can be.  But the other end of the spectrum, the ones made so much stronger, apparently, are harder to see for what they represent, and create so much more misery in the world.  The most annoying and depressing "Debbie Downer" among us creates a tiny fraction of the negativity and damage that the sadistic boss, the bully, the unapologetic corporate scumbag, the Type A crazy person, create.  And yet we celebrate those people and ridicule those who are too timid to step over others to get what they want.

We have confused survival with strength.  The "strength" we admire is not heroic; it is the sad residue of a spirit that takes to the crushing other spirits in order to preserve itself.  A few, a very few people, rise above the randomness and pain of life and emerge truly stronger and better.  Real strength lies in seeing what has happened, processing it, and letting it go.  Emerging at the conclusion of that process is a truly strong person -- tough without being brittle, powerful without being a bully, focused without being blind to the world outside.

That which does not kill us . . . does not kill us.  It can make us stronger, if we were strong enough to see the possibility of emerging stronger to begin with.  It's not much of an exaggeration to say that recognizing the truth of that is crucial to humanity's future.

The Cases of Lenora X, Domme Detective: 50 Shades of Black and Blue (3)

The Complexity of Love, I

[present day]

      Arty made a complete recovery and was back on the job within a couple of months.  He could've retired but it wasn't like Arty to go out that way.  

      Cops and PIs have a complicated relationship.  The cops more or less hate us -- to them we're dabbling meddlers who more often than not mess up their cases.  But we have our uses, when it suits the police.  We can do things without such niceties as search warrants and court orders . . . often the cops don't have nearly enough evidence for a warrant and then the private investigator is a handy shortcut.  

      At its best, the relationship is a rough symbiosis --we do some dirty work for the police and the police help us out when they can.  It never comes out 100% even, but it's a tally of IOUs and You Owe Me's and in the end it's close enough.  Usually.

      Of course, with Arty and Me the relationship is way more complicated . . . the world and the BCPD being what they are, Arty could hardly be open about his sexually submissive desires.  He's trusted Me with that, and I'd never break that trust.  I've never topped him, nor would I . . . that's a bright line never to be crossed.  Arty really has a thing for My friend Astrid, and Astrid as it turns out really enjoys humiliating cops, so that works out.  I help Astrid out when She needs help, in exchange for Arty not having to pay.  I keep Arty's deep dark secret and do things he needs that as a cop he can't legally do.  Arty doesn't treat Me like a second-class citizen, and shares a lot more information with Me than he has to.  A big complicated chain of favors and needs . . . it works.

     Arty is sitting in My office . . . mandy's out running errands.  I don't recommend getting shot as a weight-loss regimen, but Arty looks a lot better than he did before -- he's lost a lot of weight and overall seems in much better shape.  Far as I could tell he was the same old Arty, slightly upgraded and probably with an even deeper appreciation for the tenuousness of life.

     "Your cousin was asking about you."  This was a little code we'd worked out . . . I used it even when it was just the two of us.  It was My way of asking if he was ready for (and desirous of) a session with Astrid.

      "I've stopped drinking, X."  He looked away a moment.  "Would that all bad habits could so easily be dropped."

      That was Arty's oblique way of saying "yes."

       I smile at him.  "Don't let a narrow-minded world talk you out of healthy desires, healthily expressed, Arty," I say.  "Drinking -- OK, that's a bad habit.  This--"  I hold up My cigarette for emphasis -- "one of the worst.  But in the end, if you're not killing people or robbing banks, you're doing all right."

       Arty laughs.  "I'm a saint, in that case."

       My turn to laugh.  "Oh, no, I'm sure you're a real sinner . . . "  

       I scribble a note to Myself.  "Hopefully I'll bump into your cousin again soon."

*                   *                  *

The Complexity of Love, II


Rose turned out to be Rose Markham, nee Stivali.  Frankie's sister.  I had a lot of questions.  Some I could readily ask.  Others, not so much, like why did Frankie never mention he had a sister?

I'm look out the window as the cab trundles through the part of town known as Stewartville. Stewville, as it was known, is a mixed bag . . . older retail shops and small houses in this part, giving way to rather lavish homes further down the Boulevard.  

Finally we get through the last of the red lights that were seemingly all against us and the cab driver, new to the city by way of some country I couldn't find on a map given two tries, speeds up as Stewart Boulevard widens.  I'm grateful, actually, that Axfrnd Klyvlnx -- I stretch up to read the license -- doesn't speak much English;  I'm too consumed with My upcoming conversation with Rose Markham.

Thanks to the wonders of GPS the cabbie has no trouble finding 38 Chestnut Grove Road.  Rose Marhkam comes to the front door and opens it before I make it to the end of the walk.  Anxious to talk to Me, I guess.  I laugh to Myself -- hey, isn't everyone?

It's a large, beautiful home.  I did some perfunctory checking -- Mr. Markham is Theodore Markham, a senior partner in the law firm of Markham, Harvey, and Neese.  They've been married for 18 years, no kids.  By all accounts, living in happy, very comfortable, obscurity.

Rose welcomes Me in rather warmly and ushers Me to the kitchen table.  I accept the offered coffee, studying her a moment.  

She has to be in her early 40s, but doesn't look it.  Pretty, slim, short dark hair neatly framing her face.  She has a likable look about her . . . she's well-dressed but subtly and not flauntingly so.  An air of unpretentiousness about her, mirrored in her home . . . clearly some money was spent on the decorating and the kitchen, but it feels natural, normal.

Rose clearly noticed Me noticing the surroundings.  "Not bad for a girl from Guinea Hill, huh?"

We share a little laugh.  Rose is down to earth.  And makes fantastic coffee.

"Didn't take you long to find me," she says, as she reaches for a Milano cookie from the plate.

"Tricks of the trade," I offer, as I reach for one, too.  There's a slightly too-long silence and I realize the onus is on Me.  I've been hoping she'll volunteer  the information I'm looking for.  I'm about to start talking when she takes Me off the hook.

"I should've been more upfront about it, I know.  Should just have come to you right off and explain what I had and what I wanted.  But Frankie spoke highly of you -- so I knew you would eventually find me, or figure out it was me . . . "

Her voice trailed off and I'm lost in considering the fact that Frankie "spoke highly" of Me.  As far as I could tell Frankie didn't speak much of anyone, let alone highly.  I'd love to ask Rose more about that but that's not the important thing.

Rose is meandering her way to the point.  And that's OK -- I'm enjoying her company.

"I think Frankie thought of you like a daughter . . . I know he enjoyed showing you the business."  I listen, enjoying the wonderful way the butteriness of the cookie blends with the ever so slight tartness of the chocolate.  

She continued.  "When Frankie . . . died . . . " She couldn't bring herself to say "murdered."   " . . . I had these boxes that Frankie was storing here.  He'd told me to never look in them, and I didn't.  It worried Me, because it wasn't like him to be secretive about things."  She smiled.  "Funny, huh?  In his line of work?"

I knew what she meant.  Frankie could keep a secret like a statue but he wasn't secretive.  Almost incomprehensible to anyone who didn't know him.

She started to go for another Milano, but stopped herself.  Looking at her trim figure it was clear she spent a lot more time at the gym than she did eating Milanos.  "Anyway, he also told me that if anything ever happened to him . . . I should give those boxes to you.  That scared me more . . .  but he put me at ease about it, saying it was business stuff, that it was things you'd know what to do with . . . "

I should spend more time at the gym, but that didn't stop Me from snagging another Milano.

Rose sipped her coffee.  "So . . . when Frankie . . . " -- still she couldn't say it -- "when Frankie died, I took the boxes and put them in that storage place.  I don't know why I did that.  I needed those boxes out of the house, but I couldn't give them to you, even though that's what Frankie had said to do.  It's like I needed that little piece of him, but not here, where I'd be tempted to look inside."

I nodded.  Frankie (and Arty Daniels) had a saying "don't plug a running faucet."  Meaning, when someone's readily volunteering all sorts of information, don't mess with his or her rhythm with a question.  Just shut up and keep listening.  But I'm dying to ask what changed.

But Rose is rolling;  it won't be long now anyway.  "So I put them in storage.  Which made me feel better, at the time, and for a while afterwards.  Then, it started to feel . . . I don't know . . . unfair, somehow.  Like I wasn't giving the Frankie the proper respect.  He wanted you to have those boxes, so there must be a good reason for that."

I nod, listening, wanting a cigarette badly but clearly no one in this house smokes.  Or ever smoked.

"Still, it took me a couple months more to finally do it.  I couldn't go to the storage place, even.  I just impulsively put the key in the mail the other day, knowing that was the only way I'd be able to do it."

She looks down a little.  She's run out of steam.  Now a question or two is in order.

"Did Frankie ever talk about work to you, Rose?"

To My surprise Rose got up and opened a drawer, pulling out a pack of Newport Lights, a lighter, and an ashtray.  She motioned Me to follow her out onto the screened-in porch.  We sat at the table there and I gratefully lit up.  So much for My impeccable detective instincts!  I pull out Mine and light up, happily.

Rose inhaled.  "No, until he produced those boxes he never mentioned anything about work, other than that he was teaching you.  And Frankie came over for dinner almost every Thursday night."  She smiled, recalling it.  "He and my husband Teddy got along really well . . . funny, you might not think it -- the down to earth private eye and the patrician lawyer.  In fact that was exactly what I'd been thinking -- those two couldn't have had anything in common.  Funny how that works, sometimes.

I smile at her.  "You're a good sister, Rose, looking after Frankie like that."

She drags deeply on her cigarette.  "Not good enough."  She looks across at Me . . . the look is a question, an admission, and somehow a challenge.

I put My hand on her forearm.  "Rose, you did right, and you did right by Frankie.  You kept his secret when it needed keeping, and you revealed it when it needed revealing.  In between you loved him, cared about him, and mourned him.  You didn't cause his death and you damn sure couldn't have prevented it."

She seems comforted by My words.  It's one of those rare times when I get to tell the total truth and make someone feel better.

She stubs out her cigarette.  "I know Frankie's death hit you hard, too."

I put out Mine and eke out a smile.  "I"ll never forget him . . . and I've wanted to find whoever is responsible, but until I got those boxes from you I had absolutely nothing to go on.  Now maybe I do."

She smiles a smile that looks like relief and gets up and goes back inside.  She returns with an envelope and slides it across the table to Me.  "I know you'd find me and I suspected those boxes would be connected to whoever . . . " --now Rose can day it -- "murdered Frankie.  Please, find out who did it.  This is a retainer.  Expenses aren't an issue . . . when you need more just let me know."

I can tell from the thickness that there has to be at least twenty grand in there. 

I start to give her the money back.  "Rose . . . I don't need this.  I would find Frankie's killers for free."

Rose stops the envelope on My side of the table with surprising firmness.  "No . . . I know you would do it for nothing.  I have no doubt of that.  But the money makes it . . . formal, legit.  I need that."

She pauses.  "Plus, not to brag, but . . . the amount in there is a rounding error to Teddy."

I put the envelope in My purse.  Nice "rounding error."  

I give Rose a hug before I go.  "I'll do everything I can, Rose.  Everything."

*                   *                  *

The Complexity of Love, III

[present day]

In the dim light mandy almost looks like a ghost there, parts of her in shadow, parts clearly defined as she gently squirms in her bondage . . . blindfolded, bound to the bench.

I tease the head of the strap-on along her folds, and she moans softly.  I look across at King;  we nod to each other.   He grasps her head and slides his cock into her mouth at the same time as I grab her hips and slide the strap-on deeply inside her, her sounds muffled.

We both lean forward, forcing the invading cocks deeper into mandy, and kiss, lips touching as we each grind inside the helpless girl beneath us, all the sounds and sensations mixing, running through her and between us like a liquid current of pure ecstasy . . .

Fiction: The Taking of anni, Part 8

1.  Business Plan.

The business really took off -- rich executives were willing to pay a lot to have anni drop in on them at work and provide her services.  We'd both quit our jobs, and if you overlooked the whole aspect of this being totally illegal, and the tax evasion aspect, we had a great thing going.

But precisely because it was illegal, and risky, I needed to make a lot of money fast.  Get in, make a huge amount of money, get out.  Invest some of the money in some legal and satisfying business at which we could make a decent living, and have a little cushion.  Enjoy life.  The End.

So I was always open to opportunities for special opportunities for big money.  And of course is wasn't just about the money.  Turning anni out as downtown's hottest little boardroom whore had deepened her submission like nothing else really could have.

2.  Lead Generation.

I was sitting on the couch, thinking about the business.  anni was sleeping . . . her job as a professional fuck- and suck-toy was extremely tiring and in this business, presentation was everything.  So anni needed to look her best to give these high paying customers the incentive to spend more, and feel her best so that she could respond enthusiastically to their (largely imagined) sexual prowess and generate the all-important add-on business.  And she needed to have energy for Me.

You never know where the next opportunity was going to come from.  I was having lunch with a friend, a Pro Domme.  anni was at a building around the corner, "motivating" the CFO before his big presentation to the Board.  This had been a short-notice job . . . $1,000 plus whatever he might tip.  As a result I felt OK about splurging a little on a nice bottle of wine today with our burgers.

I always loved hanging out with KJ.   Her improbable adventures being a Pro Domme were always good for amazement, thrills, and laughs every time we talked.

Today she was telling Me about a Chinese female gang that was active in the area, called 888 Z.  These girls were no adjunct to any male gang.  These were not camp followers -- the Zs, as they were known, were  efficient, successful, and violent when necessary.  They had a nice business dealing X and Ketamine to the club kids who frequented the raves held all the time on the Zs turf.  In addition the rave organizers gave the gang a little piece of the proceeds in exchange for not waking up missing vital organs.  The Zs had a good thing going and protected what was theirs.

The gang was strict about membership . . . all the members were Chinese, could all claim family roots in the same small part of China, and far as anyone knew, were all lesbian.  888 Zs were never seen with men, except in the process of completing some transaction or other.  They never moved around alone, and always dressed in the same uniform -- black leather jacket and pants, black T-shirt, black boots.

KJ was telling Me about Xian, a Z-Girl that KJ knew through a mutual friend.

"Xian was telling me . . . they love white girls, but they rarely get them because they don't trust male pimps to not rip them off and for what they want, they don't want a girl off the street."

I look at her.  "Um -- what do they want?"

KJ paused while the waitress refilled the water glasses, resuming when the girl had moved on.  "They want a clubhouse slut . . . a white girl to fuck, beat, humiliate, and degrade for 3, 4, 5 days and return her more or less in one piece.  They have more money than luck, in this pursuit."

I dragged a steak fry through the ketchup.  "Please tell Me you have Xian's number."

3.  A-B-C (Always Be Closing).

One of the hardest parts of this business for Me is talking about anni like she's a commodity, but especially in a situation like this it was crucial to have everything spelled out, as clinical or distasteful as it might be.

I sat across from Xian and her associate, who she introduced as Lin, in a small coffee bar on the fringes of 888 Z turf.  I had the idle thought if dealing club drugs weren't so damn profitable these two could yield a fortune working as Pro Dommes -- they were exotic and sexy . . . oozing power and I-don't-give-a-fuck, and more than a little scary.

I showed them anni's picture and described her to the Z-Girls.  They were obviously interested, and at that moment I thought about upping My asking price.  These girls want anni bad.

I took a deep breath while trying to look as normal as possible.  While clearly the idea was to maximize revenues, I had to be mindful of anni's safety.  And my own, for that matter -- I was banking a lot on KJ's assertion that the Zs were that rarest of breed -- honorable drug dealers.

I set down My cup.  "Four days.  $40,000.  Half up front, half at the end.  No injury, intentional blood, or permanent marks.  Public use/humiliation is fine as long as she's not put in physical danger.  When not serving or being used, she has to be safe and secure.  You video everything you can and I own the video exclusively."

I paused a moment as we tried to read each other.  "Obviously no scat, animals, children, etc."  They both wrinkled their noses without thinking -- a good sign. "Your business is your business but My girl is kept well away from anything more illegal than what we're already talking about here."

Xian and Lin didn't react outwardly.  They conferred quietly in Mandarin a long moment.  Xian spoke excellent English;  Lin either didn't, or didn't choose to share that she did.

I sat back, concentrating on My coffee.  These women were nice enough but I knew who I was dealing with here.  There was no reason to show any impatience.  Besides, I expected a negotiation   I even welcomed it a little -- I wanted to know a bit more about the people I might be entrusting anni to for four days, and I've found that people often revealed themselves significantly in the course of trying to arrive at a compromise.  But, money aside, I had a good feeling about these two.  They were obviously tough as nails and would gut Me as soon as look at Me if the situation called for it, but I had the feeling they would be true to their word if they gave it.

The gang girls continued their whispered conversation and I started to wonder if I'd overplayed My hand.

Finally Xian spoke.  "Anything else?"

"Not really," I said pleasantly.   "Just organizational details when we're in agreement on the bigger issues."

Xian and Lin spoke briefly with each other.  "All right.  Deal."  She extended her hand and I shook it.  I looked into Xian's dark eyes, then Lin's as we cemented the deal.  "I know you'll act with honor and I know My girl won't let you down."

They smiled, rather disarmingly so.  I told Xian I would call her tomorrow to discuss when and where, etc.

4.  For All Your Fucktoy Needs, Think anni

It was the longest four days of My life.  I stared over at the envelope on the desk . . . it contained $20,000 cash, although I hadn't even looked in it.  I couldn't.  It wasn't guilt, it was more superstition -- I didn't want to see or touch the money until I had anni back safe with Me.

Monday morning finally came and I drove to the agreed-upon drop-off spot, a couple of benches on the south side of a busy midtown intersection.  I was a few minutes early . . . anxious, nervous, worried a little.

Two black-clad figures emerged from the pedestrian throng.  Xian and Lin, with anni between them.  I got up and started moving towards them . . . anni looked all right, more tired perhaps than anything else.

I hugged anni tightly, then pulled back a bit as she winced . . . I wasn't thinking -- she had to be sore all over.

Xian turned Me towards her a moment and handed me an envelope.  "Flash drives with the video are in there, too."  I nodded, having totally forgotten about the videos I'd insisted upon.  Xian inclined her head away from anni and Lin;  clearly she wanted to have a private conversation.

The Z-girl trained her eyes on Me.  "she was perfect.  In fact, we talked about it . . . and, we wonder if you'd want to sell her."

I couldn't hide My surprise at the turn the conversation had taken.  Xian must've seen the look on My face and figured I wasn't taking her 100% seriously.

"It would be more than worth your while . . . we were thinking $400,000."

That was a lot of money.  400 grand, tax free.  But . . . no.  Not in a million years.

I smiled amiably.  "That's a flattering and attractive offer but . . . no way."  Xian thinks about offering more, I can see it in her face, but she sees My face and realizes.  She nods and smiles as I start to lead anni away.

"Pleasure doing business with you."

5.  We're Always Looking For Ways To Improve The Product!

I sat by the tub while anni soaked a long time.  she was pretty well marked up, and sore as hell, of course, but overall she was seemed to be doing all right.

"I was thinking, anni . . . we should get away for a few days.  you've certainly earned it.  Where would you like to go?"

anni shifted in the water a little . . . I studied her pretty face as she considered My words.

I had a good idea of what was going through anni's mind.  her normal inclination would be to poo-poo the idea, deferring any special treatment for herself.  But My incessant lectures about how telling the truth about her own needs was part of her duty to Me, were rolling around in there too.  For a naturally good girl like anni, extremely devoted, it was a difficult spot to find herself in.  In the end she answered as best she could.

"Mistress, if it were up to me i'd sleep for three days, and i can sleep anywhere.  If there is somewhere You want to go, i'll happily go, and hopefully sleep."

I leaned over and kissed the side of her wet head.  Just when I think I can't be prouder of this girl, she surprises Me.

I leave anni to relax in the tub and go to My desk.  Now at last I can deal with the money.  I pull out the envelopes and of course, it's all there, along with a $2,000 tip.

I put one of the flash drives in place.  I wanted the video partly to keep the Zs honest, and also I had some vague, fleeting through that there might be some money in it . . .

I watched as the Z-Girls got their money's worth.  Xian wasn't the head of the gang but she was clearly part of the leadership;  most of the other girls deferred to her.  Much of the dialog was in Mandarin, so I couldn't tell what was going on, but there was clearly a strong element of racial humiliation . . . the Z-Girls clearly enjoyed using and abusing a white slut.

As I watched, it quickly became apparent that there wasn't going to be any money made by selling these videos or putting them on the Internet.  Law Enforcement would love to get a hold of these intimate pictures of the Z's headquarters and relaxed moments.  There was enough on-camera drug use and readying product for sale to make problems for a lot of people.  Either the Zs didn't realize what was on here or, like old-fashioned gangsters, just didn't care.  Either way I wasn't going to be the source of them getting busted and us getting hurt.

But anni was the main attraction and the Zs never let her forget it.  There was a lot of strap-on fucking, in all her holes, a lot of cropping and slapping.  Big doses of humiliation, verbal and otherwise.  Tons of boot worship.  she was kept in a cage right in the middle of the clubhouse when not being used . . . it was difficult to tell exactly how long they went every night, but it was very late . . . clearly the Zs kept it going until they collapsed from sheer exhaustion after hours of drinking, drugging, playing cards, fighting, counting money, and using anni.

I got up and helped anni out of the tub, drying her off and helping her into bed.  I leaned over and softly kissed a mark on her shoulder.  "I love you so much, anni.  you are as good as any girl could ever be."

anni made a little purring sound and closed her eyes.  It was one of those rare moments when a girl's submission is tangible, when it travels between girl and Mistress like an electric current, and I experience something akin to what they call "subspace," from the other side.

"i love You, Mistress," she murmurs.

The Cases of Lenora X, Domme Detective: 50 Shades of Black and Blue (2)

The Freedom of Bondage, I


The cops had few leads on Frankie's murder.  Arty hated murder cases that didn't get solved, and the pressure from the brass about his homicide clearance rate wasn't the only reason;  Arty loved doing the job, and doing it well.

My own feelings wandered from intense anger to intense grief to intense frustration, finally settling into a state of numb occasional fascination.  The part of Me that wanted to know why Frankie had been killed, what the mysterious last case had been  -- I couldn't sustain that part -- I could feel it would slowly kill Me if I let it take over.  So I settled for thinking about it sometimes, being sad sometimes, being mad sometimes . . . and feeling guilty too often.

Had I been able to locate Frankie's files on the mysterious last case I might've had a better outlook -- had there been something to go on, some starting point the cops didn't have, I wouldn't be feeling this way.  Or maybe I would.  Fucking Frankie -- what the hell was it, and where did you hide those files?

I lit a cigarette and looked at the clock . . . 1:45.  I thought about lunch, then opened the second drawer and settled for a splash of bourbon and a Twinkie.  Eight months.  No leads.  Nothing.  

I went through the mail.  Light bill.  A letter from Hampshire College, doubtless asking for money.  Victoria's Secret catalog.  I made a mental note to visit the planet where those VS girls come from when I see a hand-addressed envelope . . . no return address and I didn't recognize the handwriting.

I felt something oddly shaped in the envelope.  I ripped open one end and tipped it, a key with a little tag on it slid into My waiting palm.  I looked at the tag:  U-STOR, #1055.  

I checked the envelope . . . nothing else in there.  I tossed the key in My purse.  The thought that this was some sort of trap -- that I would open the locker and it would blow up, or something -- crossed My mind and just as quickly flew away . . . there were plenty of easier, less expensive ways to kill Me if someone wanted to.

I'd stop at U-STOR on the way home.  I smiled, realizing that U-STOR was very close to Mariano's, a favorite spot for the shoe- and handbag-addicted like Yours Truly.

*          *          *

The Freedom of Bondage, II

[present day]

mandy was one of those girls with the kind of body that was lusted after by men and lesbians and greatly admired by all women with varying degrees of aesthetic appreciation and good old fashioned jealousy.  The girl was exquisitely put together -- no one element was overly prominent, but every part of her was just right.  No huge boobs, no big butt . . . but enough of everything to be sexy without being a caricature.  Tight and proportioned without being unattractively muscular, curvy with no hint of obesity, her body looked great in a lot of clothes, a few clothes, or no clothes at all.  Throw in long blonde hair, green eyes, a winning smile, and just enough brains, and well, it was difficult to imagine a more prefect package.  And apparently due to My personal awesomeness, she was head over heels in love with Me.  All Mine.  Go figure!

I was in a uniquely perfect position to be admiring mandy's body, as she stood bound in My playroom, naked except for collar and heels, arms and legs stretched out to the corners of a big frame, held tightly there in the dim light . . . her perfect nipples firming, crowning her goosebumped breasts.  It was quiet except for the soft sounds of mandy's breathing, slightly labored as excitement and anticipation mixed with the tiniest bit of fear.

I moved behind her and slipped the leather blindfold around her head . . . not making a sound as I secured it, savoring the little gasp that escaped her parted lips as the sudden darkness and the scent of leather made her mind sink a tiny bit more.

In many ways, this time, before anything overtly sexual happened, was the best time.  I was reluctant to let go of it.  I quietly moved to the bar and fixed Myself a drink, stressing the little noises -- opening bottles, ice cubes clinking into the glass, etc.  This not only stretched out the delicious prelude time, but worked on mandy's mind too. letting her know that she was not only physically bound, she was bound also to My time, My space, My whim.  And for mandy, this realization was unbearably exciting, as it was for Me.  At this moment she was completely immersed in the freedom that is submission . . . nothing to think or worry about.  Nothing but feeling . . . reacting . . . expressing . . . and offering that, all of that, to Me.

I took a long sip of bourbon and set the glass down on the bar, again with an exaggerated sound.  mandy gasped at the sudden noise, a ripple racing through her bound body.  I smiled and moved closer to her, My hand landing gently on her right inner thigh and sliding slowly upwards.

"Ready, pet?" I whisper, knowing the answer.

*          *          *

The Freedom of Bondage, III


I make My way over to U-STOR, buoyant after having scored an exquistie pair of Ferragamos at Mariano's.  Mariano's lifts My mood just stepping inside.  Even if I leave empty-handed, the promise of possibly finding those shoes, and the staff that makes Me feel like a princess even when I don't much feel like one, makes Mariano's a singularly wonderful experience.

U-STOR, on the other hand is decidedly plain, intentionally so.  It's modern looking, neat, all shiny with polished metal and polished staff.  Deliberately unexciting.  You bring your stuff here, and we sit here with your stuff and keep it safe.  Excitement is not to be sought after in the storage business. 

Locker number 1055 is Executive Size, which is U-STOR's marketing-speak for "small."  I unlock it and swing the door open.

Two cardboard boxes with files and papers in them.  Not a bomb.  But not suitcases full of cash, either.  I pull a file out of one of the boxes and start idly scanning.  I notice the date, and slide that folder back in and pick up another.  Then another.  

I'm suddenly aware of the sensation of My fingers on the paperboard file folders . . . the realization that these were the files on Frankie's last case, the one he scrupulously made sure I knew nothing about.  The one I had driven Myself nuts wondering about for eight months.  It was going to be a long night of reading . . . but first I had to try to find out who sent Me that key.

I locked the locker and made My way to the office.  I had no illusions that the ultra-nice and helpful person behind the desk was also going to be ultra-mindful of company policy regarding giving out information about locker holders without a court order or a search warrant.  I formulated a quick plan as I approached the desk.  I walked right up to the cute 20-something redhead sitting there.

"While I'm here, I'd like to pay My bill."

The girl behind the desk spun in her chair slightly, clearly happy to be doing something she knew exactly how to do.  "Certainly, Miss . . . locker number?"

"1055," I said, and watched as she made the necessary entries to pull up Locker 1055.

She looked up from the screen.  "You're welcome to make a payment, but there's no payment due right now.  A payment was just made a week ago."

I made sure she could see the key.  I feigned ditziness, something that was becoming depressingly easy to do lately.  Time to take a wild stab at it.  "Ohhh, that's right . . . I totally forgot that My sister said she was making a payment."

The girl behind the desk smiled.  'I remember when she came in, now you mention that.  Your sister Rose is very pretty."

I smiled and thanked her profusely, and went to grab one of the hand trucks they had on hand for customer use.  I went back to the locker and put the two boxes on the hand truck and brought them out to My car.

Rose.  It was a place to start.  Why Me, and why now? 

*          *          *

The Freedom of Bondage, IV


Frankie shifted some papers on his desk.  "Doll, there is always one case.  One pain in the ass, keep you up at night, stops you from retiring type case.  The one that nags at you years later, the one that makes you wake up at 3 in the morning every now and then.  The one where you realize you're no closer after spending years on it."

I listened, or rather, half-listened.  For whatever reason I didn't want to know about any of Frankie's failures, even self-perceived ones.

I changed the subject . . . I was interested in practicalities -- how do you bug someone's phone, how do you get difficult clients to pay up, things like that -- not philosophical ramblings.  I had no intention of getting caught up that much in a case, any case -- ever.

*          *          *

Reconciling Dominance with Humility

When I am praised I tend to deflect the compliment.  I have come to realize that some people find this vaguely insulting (as in I'm somehow devaluing their praise, and thus the praiser), but nothing could be further from the truth.  I am highly appreciative of the praise.  I simply can't allow Myself to unreservedly buy into it.

I have a saying I use . . . I no longer remember if it's original or not;  if it's not, My apologies to the original author of it.  My goal is to "not believe My own press clippings."  Even if (especially if, actually) they are true.

This approach keeps Me balanced, sweet, and hungry.  I don't lapse into arrogance or complacency because I keep telling Myself I still have light-years to go.  I stay (mostly) nice because I know I don't know it all.

OK, so I sound pretty wonderful, right?

I'm no saint . . . I have My crappy moods, My insecurities, My petty concerns.  But by trying to stay humble, and, this is the most important part, by really meaning it, I avoid a lot of the pitfalls that any kind of Dominant or leader can fall into.  All leaders have a mask (a topic I wrote about a long time ago), but humility is not My mask -- it's real, and feels real.  And necessary.

Which brings up the logical question:  A humble Domme?  Isn't that an oxymoron?

No.  For the the following reasons.

1.  One has to be what one is.  Dominance comes naturally;  learning humility doesn't diminish one's natural Dominant nature.

2.  Humility enhances Dominance.  This is fairly obvious -- power without control is one definition of evil.  Humility provides the necessary restraint that enlightens Dominance and transforms it into real Leadership.

3.  The Humble Domme has better submissives.   We as Dominants end up with the subs/slaves We deserve.  The Domme who knows what She doesn't know ends up with submissives who understand and appreciate the nuances of their role, and who respect Her for her Humanity as well as for Her power.  To be served by that kind of submissive is an unparalleled joy.

The Cases of Lenora X, Domme Detective: 50 Shades of Black and Blue (1)

The Rite of Seduction, I


          At times I felt like a vampire.  Frankie Boots talked, worked, streamed, explained, made inappropriate jokes . . . and I sucked it all in.  He worked harder than anyone I'd ever known, but made it look easy.  He was smarter than most "smart" people I know but to look at him you'd never suspect it.  Appearing to be of slightly below average intelligence was one of Frankie's greatest weapons it turned out.

          Francesco Stivali had lived in BC all his life . . . born and raised in the Haven Heights neighborhood (known as "Guinea Hill" in a less enlightened time), Frankie saw his life choices clearly defined, and earlier than most.  The Church, law enforcement, or The Mob.  Frankie didn't fancy himself a priest and a quick look around told him there were few old wiseguys.  So law enforcement it was.

          He got the nickname Frankie Boots at the Police Academy -- an instructor decided that Frankie wasn't cop material and gave him the name, a mobster's name -- hoping perhaps to steer Frankie to a different career choice.  The instructor's desire didn't stick but the name did.  Frankie Boots graduated middle of his academy class and hoped for 20-25 years of undistinguished but honorable policing, make it to the end in one piece, and enjoy a decent pension after that, at an age when it could still be enjoyed.  Meet a nice girl along the way, one who can make a decent pasta fagioli, have a couple of kids.  Die with a piece of land and a little something in the bank . . . a life well-lived, it seemed.  Unremarkable, perhaps, by the standards of some but better than many of the alternatives.

          But stuff happens.  Three months on the job and Frankie tears up his knee chasing a robbery suspect.  Afterwards the knee was functional but he could no longer pass the PD physical.  He might've been able to get a desk job but something told him that wouldn't work out well.  So he retired from the job, only about 25 years before he intended to, and decided that being his own boss was better anyway . . . and F and B Investigations was born. 

          As I watched him, listened to him, I often wondered if he ever regretted his life choices, if he'd wished he'd been able to stay a cop . . . but Frankie Boots wasn't the type for regrets or deep analysis of past choices.  I thought Myself more than lucky that he was willing to show Me the ins and outs of the business and was just thankful that he wasn't re-examining this particular life choice.

        We were having coffee . . . Boots was explaining that the idea is not to win the gunfight, but to never end up in the gunfight in the first place.  "I know cops who worked the streets for 20, 25 years, never fired their gun except on the practice range.  It's not just being smart, or looking ahead.  There's a sense you gotta have--"

        The phone rang, interrupting him.  Frankie's end of the conversation didn't amount to much, a couple uh-huhs, a knowing grunt, and the like.  He wrote something down, said "thanks," and hung up.

         Frank picked up right where he left off, which was his way of letting Me know that I shouldn't inquire about that call.  There was one case he'd been recently working on that he wouldn't share a thing about with Me.  I knew nothing about it, and Frankie shared nothing.  Clearly in Frankie's mind either I wasn't ready to hear about this case, or he felt I needed to be protected from knowing about it.

        I went back to listening intently as Frankie described the intricacies of that special sense that all the best cops and PIs have. 

*          *          *  

The Rite of Seduction, II

[present day]

       We put a chunk of King's retainer money into a beefed-up security system and a full sweep of the office and of My apartment for bugs.  If I was going to be oblivious to the threat to My life, the least I could do was protect against the most obvious threats.

      mandy made sure to scrupulously account for every second we spent working on King's items, both to make sure King got his money's worth but also to be sure that we started billing him when we should.  I didn't trust Myself to keep things straight, personal vs. business, but mandy could always be trusted to.

     King was of course right . . . legitimate businesses were more complex than criminal ones.  Not because the problems were inherently more complex, but because the options for dealing with those problems were at once more varied, more expensive, and generally less immediately effective.  When you can bribe, kill, torch . . . results are immediate.

      I looked up from the case file I'd been reading and just watched mandy working for a long time.  she had an ability to focus like no one I'd ever known -- she could sit down and tear into a pile of the most tedious work imaginable, and emerge several hours later without having wavered for an instant.  Needless to say all the tedious work was perfectly, efficiently, and neatly done.

     I looked away.  I wasn't used to thinking I didn't deserve something, but I wondered how mandy fell into My lap, and wondered if I wasn't working hard to throw it all down the toilet, bringing King into My bedroom, into My life, and now making him the single biggest client by a wide margin.

    I got up and went over to the little bar and poured some bourbon in a glass, tossing three ice cubes in.  I looked over at mandy again, still hard at work, not feeling My eyes on her.  I was glad she didn't look up and see the doubt that had to be written on My face.

    I felt the pleasing burn of bourbon in My throat as My phone went off.  Text message from King.

    Tonight?  8:30?

    No, I thought. no.  Time to start untangling this mess. But sometimes My thumbs have a mind of their own. . . .

    We'll be there.

*          *          *  

The Rite of Seduction, III


        I was already used to the phone ringing at odd hours.  I looked over at the cable box . . . 3:19.  I yawned and picked up the phone.

       I was having trouble focusing . . . I had to fight hard to wake up and listen to the voice of Lieutenant Arty Daniels on the other end.

       Over the course of a minute or so I was able to wake up enough and figure out he needed Me to come to 93 Baxter Street.  I couldn't get him to say why, and I was too tired and groggy to badger him.

      I threw a coat over My PJs and started looking for My keys, thinking this can't be good.    

     Ten minutes later I was standing in the middle of a crime scene.  I wanted to cry when I saw Frankie Boots, laying there in a pool of dark red, shot multiple times . . . but I was too tired, too stunned.

     Arty was talking;  it was only semi-registering.  It looked like a professional job -- several shots to the body with a .22, then the coup de grace in the head.  Frankie was lured to a meet, it looked like, and popped, probably by someone he knew -- the shooter got very close.  I could tell without hearing the actual words that Arty was trying to let Me know that they weren't going to get much from the crime scene.   Gradually I realized Arty was asking Me questions . . . had Frankie been threatened lately?  What was he working on?  Sensible but annoying questions.

   I lit a cigarette, turning away the body.  I told Arty that the only threats I knew about were of the busted husband variety and that I didn't think any of them would amount to anything, but I told him I'd give him the list to run down.

   I didn't tell Arty about the recent mysterious case that Frankie wouldn't tell Me about.  I rationalized this by embracing the idea that since Frankie hadn't told Me anything, there was nothing to tell.  There was a certain perverse logic to it, which, at nearly 4AM, was more than compelling enough.

  I looked up as it started to rain.


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