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Chapter 41: Love Triangle... my dancing improves dramatically
Chapter 42: Manimal... how a monster expedited my return to the Straight World

 

 

DESTINY


CHAPTER FORTY-ONE:

THE LOVE TRIANGLE

Written by Rick Archer
 

 


SUBCHAPTER 189 - THE NEW YEAR BEGINS

 

It was now 1975.  On our first day back at work, I walked over to Mark's office for more details about the Farmhouse.  It was a New Year and I was a new person.  Although I still wasn't dating anyone, I was in the best mood in ages. 

Mark was in a pretty good mood himself.  Ever since Thanksgiving, Mark had been riding a hot streak.  In addition to acquiring his handsome new boyfriend, his Casa Mark parties just kept growing and growing.  My first clue that these parties were becoming a problem was the December night when I found my favorite chair had been moved outside to the porch along with the couch.  There was barely any room to dance anymore and people were starting to grumble.  Now that Disco music was really catching on, everyone wanted to dance.  Mark decision to move furniture out of his living room was a useful stopgap measure, but only briefly. 

Mark explained that his group had grown too big to fit into his house, so it was time to make a bold move.  No more parties at his house. Since the New Year was a time for changes, Mark wanted to try something new.  I nodded.  His decision made sense. 

Saturday, January 4th, 1975, was an important day for me.  Tonight I would be visiting the Farmhouse for the first time. 

My day began with a return to David's Freestyle class where I had started my Dance Project back in July.  Since David had taken most of December off due to the Holidays, this was my first class in a month.  I wondered if the River Oaks Seven would return.  I wasn't finished with them yet.  Since I had begun to close the gap with them back in early December, I was worried they would throw in the towel.  I need not have worried.  They were waiting for me when I walked in.  Greeted by their looks of disgust, I felt right at home.

There was one major change.  Two men and two women had joined the class.  Hmm, interesting.  I wondered if their presence would change the dynamics.  I was pleased to note the newcomers were more or less my age.  The River Oaks Seven still claimed the front row, so the four newcomers joined me to start a second row behind the seven women.  I was tickled to notice the four newcomers didn't like the River Oaks women either.  Instead they gravitated to me.  And why was that?  Because, unlike those women, I was actually nice to them.  I welcomed them and even whispered a few useful suggestions during class.  Noticing my encouragement to the arrivals, the River Oaks women gave me their dirtiest looks.  I think they felt threatened.

 
 

Nervous about tonight's first visit to a gay bar, I was full of energy that morning.  Disco Dave smiled at me in the mirror several times.  Throughout December I had acquired new moves courtesy of non-stop practice at Casa Mark.  Since the dancing I had done in December had created a remarkable improvement, I assumed David was impressed by my progress.

It may have been the New Year, but some things never change.  The River Oaks Seven still refused to acknowledge my existence.  They kept their backs to me at all times and never actually looked directly at me.  But they knew I was there.  I could see them watching me using the the mirror.  From my vantage point, I saw them exchange frowns and looks of disapproval with each other.  After five months they were still determined to make me feel that I was trespassing.

Heck, I didn't care.  These women didn't bother me nearly as much as they had in the past.  In fact, my attitude had changed completely.  Rather than be intimidated by their continual rudeness, I felt nothing but contempt for these pathetic aristocrats.  Here they were dressed in their finery.  These were beautiful women with expensive clothes, hair styled to perfection, exquisite jewelry and a dignified air about them.  And yet given all these blessings, they still insisted on maintaining their elevated status in a Disco dance class of all places. 

Why would grown women play such a nasty little game?  It had to be a game... how else could seven women pull off such a perfectly coordinated effort of blanket condescension over a five month period??  No doubt they conducted weekly snobbery get-togethers where they practiced tilting their noses upwards, rolling their eyes, and sneering in tandem.  What a shame no one had ever taught them how to smile at people beneath them.  

 

Apparently my dancing earned the respect of the four new students.  At the end of the first song David played, one of the men said I was pretty good.

I pointed to David.  "That's the guy who got me started.  All credit goes to David."

David overheard me.  He turned and smiled.  I think he appreciated my comment.  At that, I noted the women frowning amongst themselves.  What was wrong with these women?

After class, David caught up to me just as I was about to walk out of the building.

"Sorry to chase you down like this, but I wanted to thank you for your compliment."

"You are more than welcome, David.  I meant what I said.  Your class has been invaluable to me."

"May I ask you a question?"

"Of course.  What can I do for you, David?"

"You have made considerable progress.  I wondered if you go dancing a lot."

I laughed.  "What you really want is to know my secret.  Is that correct?"

David grinned.  "Definitely."

"I go dancing every Saturday night."

"Really?  Where do you go dancing?"

Did I dare?  Sure, why not?  I decided to give David a little thrill. 

"I am going to the Farmhouse tonight."

David's eyes began to bulge.  "No way.  You're putting me on."

I laughed because he had taken the bait.  "No, I'm serious."

Flustered, David blurted out, "But I thought you weren't gay."

"I'm not gay, but I have gay friends."

David looked at me suspiciously, but decided he had gone far enough.  "I like dancing at the Farmhouse although I haven't been there lately.  Maybe I will see you over there."

"I will look for you."

I tried to act confident, but inside I was shaking.  Good grief.  I shook my head in disbelief.  Was I really going to go through with this? 

 


SUBCHAPTER 190 -
THE FARMHOUSE

 

I refused to go into the Farmhouse alone, so I talked Mark into letting me go with them in their car for the first visit.  I didn't feel okay walking in by myself until I knew what I was getting into.  Mark said that would be okay with him. 

I was pretty worried that night as I waited for Mark to come pick me up.  I felt like I was getting sucked deeper into the Gay World.  Like the proverbial tar baby, with every step I took, I asked myself if I was going too far.  If I really was 'secretly gay', would this new step push me over the edge?   Would tonight be the night when a blinding flash of homosexual desire might seize my body and take control?

Well, I told myself, if the homosexual takeover hadn't happened so far, then it probably wouldn't happen at the Farmhouse either.  I told myself I would rather take that chance and keep dancing than stay home.  So I took the plunge despite my misgivings. 

Mark, Sean, Mariah, and Randy were waiting for me in the car.  Mark sat in front with Sean driving.  That meant Mariah was assigned to the back seat with me and giant Randy.  Mariah sat in the middle... the Rachel position. 

I stopped breathing the moment I sat down.  Oh my gosh, the Forbidden Woman was beside me.  Since Randy was such a big guy, to my further surprise, Mariah wasted no time moving right up against me.  Mariah was a slender woman, so she did not have to sit that close.  The fact that she did it anyway seemed deliberate.  The moment our legs touched, I was on fire.  My arm was pinned to my side... did I dare put it around Mariah?  No, but I sure wanted to.  Oh damn.  Was Mariah sending me a message?   Overwhelmed with heat, I was shocked by the emergence of a sudden erection.  Good grief.  Thank goodness it was dark in the car.  I prayed that Mariah couldn't tell. 

Because the erection happened spontaneously, it caused a real problem.  Note to women... sometimes erections head the wrong direction.  Erections are suppose to rise, hence the name.  However my jeans forced it to go downwards.  I was so in much pain!  I didn't dare unzip my pants and right the wrong; Mariah was sure to notice.  So I suffered.  My only hope was the erection would subside.  Fat chance of that, not with this woman beside me.  With every turn the car took, Mariah pressed hard against me, thereby making my pain greater and my curiosity more intense.  This was the strangest form of suffering I had ever encountered.

Her body was very warm which I thought was strange because I called her the Ice Queen.  I could smell her, I could feel her touch, I could feel her heat.  I began to tremble as sexual fantasies about Mariah crossed my mind.  This was the closest I had ever been to the Forbidden Woman and her presence really unsettled me, especially since it felt deliberate.  My hand involuntarily rose to touch her on the leg to see what she would do, but I barely stopped in time. 

A strange thought crossed my mind.  I recalled how Mariah had looked very unhappy at Mark's recent New Year's Eve Party.  I wondered if Mariah was threatened by Sean's emergence in Mark's life.  Tonight Mariah had been relegated to the back seat.  Did she feel left out?  In which case, was Mariah looking to branch out in a new direction?  I tried to read the expression on her face, but she was sitting on my blind side and it was too dark to tell. 

At the thought that Mariah was signaling interest, I was overwhelmed with both fear and longing.  I was frightened because I was still convinced Mariah was going to get me into trouble.  The main reason I stayed away from Mariah was the fear that having sex with her would somehow obligate me to experiment with sex with Mark.  However, now that Mark had Sean, perhaps Mariah was a free agent.  I smiled.  The possibility that I might obtain mating rights free and clear of Mark left me tingling with anticipation. 

In addition I was thrilled because this uncomfortable throbbing was exactly the kind of reassurance I needed that I was not secretly gay.  At the very moment I was about to visit a Gay Palace, my highly painful erection spoke volumes.  Besides, in the remote case I found myself slipping in the wrong direction tonight, all I had to do was watch this woman dance and I would be okay.  Squirming in my seat to find a position where my throbbing manhood didn't hurt so much, I quietly blessed Mariah for this pointed reminder of my true nature. 

The car stopped and we were here.  When I walked around to the back of the car to rearrange my anatomy, Mariah gave me the strangest look.  Did she know what I was doing?  I turned crimson with embarrassment.  And why did she keep staring at me like that?  I was so hot and bothered by Mariah, my gut told me her interest was a real possibility.  On the other hand, Mariah maintained her mask, possibly not to alert Mark.  Who could tell with Mystery Mariah?   I hated this uncertainty, but I refused to make the first move without a more definite signal.  Mark was my best friend.  I was not about to make a move on his wife until I knew her intentions.

With the foursome as my escorts, we walked up to a large remodeled mansion located a few blocks from Westheimer and Bagby.  There was no way I was going in that door alone.  I was as tense as I have ever been in my life as I entered the Farmhouse.  To be exact, I was panic-stricken.  My heart was thumping.  What was I getting myself into? 

The moment I walked in the door, I saw more gay men than I had ever seen in all my life.  Oh, for heaven's sakesIt was worse than I imagined.  There were easily 300 men inside!  Every one of them wore leather and many of them didn't have shirts on.  I had never seen so many hairy chests in my life.  Noticing several men checking me out, I freaked out right there.    It was a good thing I trusted Mark.  Otherwise I would have turned and run for my life.  I told myself to get a grip and bravely moved through the crowd.

To my relief I spotted Lucy and Jill.  Now I relaxed a bit.  I reminded myself I was here for one reason and one reason only... I wanted to practice my dancing.  So dance I did!  Whenever I wanted to dance freestyle, there were five ladies to choose from including Juicy and Jill.  Mariah was taboo, especially tonight.  Unless she made the first move, I wanted to stay as far from her as possible.  I did not want to make a mistake where she was concerned, so I stuck to the five women who were safe.  These ladies would dance with me any time I asked.  Sometimes all six of us would dance together.  Surrounded by the Fruit Fly brigade, I began to calm down.  I would live.  This was going to be okay.

To my consternation, Mariah kept her distance.  She watched me dance all night long, but she never smiled.  I had no idea what was going through her mind.  I could figure her out to save my soul.   Despite all my hang-ups, I was by far the most desirable man in the group for the simple reason that I had no competition.  In a sense, Mariah and I were on a deserted island together.  So why did she sit so close to me yet refuse to show interest afterwards?

If she was waiting for me to make the first move, we were both in trouble.  Mariah was so damn good-looking I was terrified of her to begin with.  In addition, her complicated relationship with Mark made things even worse.  Until I got a signal, I wasn't coming anywhere near her. 

Mariah was subdued tonight.  She stuck to dancing the line dances and her face remained impassive.  As for our bodies touching in the car, maybe she was testing me to see how I would react.  Obviously Mariah had not become a supervisor by accident.  She definitely knew how to play the angles and weigh her options before acting.  My guess was that she was still making up her mind which way to go.

So, with a huge sigh of disappointment, I turned my attention to the dancing.  Line Dances were very popular at the Farmhouse.  I would say about a third of the music was devoted to line dances... Four Corners, Cha Cha Hustle, the Freeze, Electric Slide, Bus Stop, L.A. Freeway... plus other dances with names I have long forgotten.  It was 1975 and the Disco Era was in full swing. 

I went back the next Saturday and the Saturday after that.  The only two men I danced with were Mark and his boyfriend Sean.  The rest of the time I danced with the ladies.  I never once partner danced.  No one in Mark's circle knew how nor did I.  In fact, I never saw anyone partner dancing.  Partner dancing was non-existent pre-Saturday Night Fever.  Back in those days, it was all Freestyle and Line Dances.  Lucy, Juicy and I had a blast learning all these line dances together. 

 

Guess what?  I was getting pretty good!  Dancing was becoming automatic to me.  Dancing had not replaced basketball as my first love, but it was definitely something I enjoyed.  The Disco music helped a lot.  Disco music made me really happy.  For one thing, listening to the music turned my brain off.  Without knowing it, the dance moves were actually starting to sneak out from the analytical side over to the intuitive side of my brain.

Once I began to dance without thinking about it, I developed a gracefulness that far transcended my earlier self-conscious stabs in the Magic Mirror.  I was developing rhythm.  I was becoming fluid.  Now that I had learned to move my hips and pirouette, my dancing had moved to another level.

Dancing was extraordinary fun here at the electric Farmhouse.  I had never seen so many people dancing in my life.  The energy of all the dancers was infectious.  It was humbling to see many of the guys at the Farmhouse were way better than me.  On the other hand, I liked having some competition.

I noticed that I was attracting glances and smiles from men outside our group.  I didn't mind the smiles because they reinforced my belief that I was improving.  Watch all you want, guys, be my guest.  The old adage is to dance like no one is looking.  If I was dancing with a pretty woman, I would have been acutely self-conscious.  But surrounded by gay men everywhere, I could have cared less what they thought.  Hey, I appreciated the attention.  I had finally begun to feel attractive. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 191 - DISCO DAVE AT THE FARMHOUSE

 

On my third visit to Farmhouse, I spotted Disco Dave out on the floor.  This was no coincidence.  David had undoubtedly been dancing in gay bars his whole life.  I had a strong hunch I had discovered how David had learned to dance so well. 

David was putting on quite a show.  In fact, several of the men had stopped dancing to watch.  Dave was doing moves I cannot even describe.  I had never seen the male version of a dancing seductress, but Dave was moving in ways that called attention to his desirability.  The gay dance style was far less inhibited than straight dance clubs like the Second Office Club.  As opposed to the so-so dancing I saw from the men on my two scouting trips to the Second Office Club, these gay men were vastly superior.  They could really move their bodies!  

David was so magnificent I beckoned for Mark and Sean to come watch.  Lucy and Jill came too.  Everyone was blown away by his dancing ability.  David moved his body in ways I never knew possible.  When the song ended, I grabbed David and brought him over to meet my friends.  As my friends complimented him, David was incredibly modest.  He made a really good impression on the group not just for his dancing, but his friendly nature as well. 

David asked me to dance, but I said I was way too intimidated.  So I offered to buy him a drink instead.  This was a bit out of character for me.  Strangely enough, I had never bought a drink at the Farmhouse.  I had nothing against drinking, I was just too cheap to bother.  I could get high just by dancing.  However, for this special occasion, I was willing to splurge.  We had a nice talk as we stood at the bar. 

"David, it was a real pleasure to watch you dance.  You showed me some moves I've never seen you demonstrate in dance class."

David blushed.  "The Gay dance style is a little too wicked to show my sophisticated ladies.  I wouldn't want to get them all flustered."

At that comment, we shared an evil grin together.

"Well, David, you certainly know how to put on a show.  My friends were amazed."

"I love to dance Disco.  It is my entire life.  Did you know I have won the Staff Freestyle Dance contest three years in a row?"

"That doesn't surprise me at all.  For that matter, there is no one in this club that compares to you either.  You were easy to spot... everyone was staring at you."

David blushed again.  I think he liked being complimented.  "Guess what, Rick?  Two of the women in our class appeared in this week's Houston Chronicle best-dressed article.  They got their photographs in the paper."

"Really?  Too bad I missed it.  I would have pinned their picture to the wall for inspiration."

"My, my, aren't you the bad boy.  Knowing you, you would probably throw darts."

I grinned.  "How did you guess?"

"You should read the Houston Chronicle society columns.  I see their names all the time.  In fact, three of the women sponsored a recent fundraiser at the Museum of Fine Arts.  You would be surprised.  These ladies are real movers and shakers."

"No, David, I wouldn't be surprised.  It is pretty obvious these women know their way around Houston social circles.  So I have a question.  How do these women treat you?"

"Funny you should ask.  They are actually very nice to me.  They consistently add generous tips at the end of the private lessons and they are always full of compliments for my dancing.  I don't know what it is about you and them.  They really don't like you, do they?"

A dark smile crossed my face.  "That is the understatement of the century.  They hate me.  Do they ever say anything about me in your private lessons?"

"No, not really.  They probably think whatever they say to me will be passed on to you.  However I did overhear Joyce talking to Betty once.  Joyce said you give her the creeps the way you are stare at her and the rest of the women with so much hostility.  Personally, I think you all just got off on the wrong foot.  You should try and talk to them.  They are actually pretty nice."

At this point, David got asked to dance.  He excused himself and left me behind to think it over.  The day I went over to talk to the River Oaks Seven would be the day Hell froze over.  They had shown far too much hostility for me to extend any pleasantries.  However, David had given me a different impression of the women.  David's choice of the phrase 'give her the creeps' had hit a nerve.  It reminded me of 'Creepy Loser Kid', the phrase I had been taunted with back in high school.  It occurred to me that my troubled expression was a likely reason those women were so leery of me.  It filled me with regret to admit I probably did give some people the creeps.  After all, I wasn't the most cheerful person in the world.  My perpetual scowl coupled with my size likely did make me seem threatening.

Well, there was nothing I could do about it now, so I decided to lose myself in the dancing.

 


SUBCHAPTER 192 -
MAKING MY MOVE 

 

Inspired by the dance frenzy at the Farmhouse, I caught the energy and threw caution to the wind.  I started to let it all hang out. 

Makes me wanna move my body yeah, yeah, yeah...
With the rat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat on the drums, hey!

Turn the beat around!

I was thrilled to spin and move to the music.  I wasn't average anymore, I was excellent.  Six months of concentrated practice had more than made up for my late start.  The metamorphosis was complete.  Here at the Farmhouse, I reached a level of dancing I never dreamed possible back when I first started.  I began to wonder if it was time to move on to the next stage.  Was it time to dance with the pretty girls?  After all, wasn't that the original plan?

I gulped.  Well, not yet... but maybe soon.

I was becoming a spotlight dancer.  As I danced, I noticed men were smiling.  The increased attention didn't bother me.  The Farmhouse had turned out to be far less dangerous than I had feared.  No one ever bothered me.  Not once. 

Nevertheless I was careful.  I had a rule... I stayed strictly within Mark's Circle of friends. It was a good rule; no one ever hit on me.  As long as I stuck to the group, no problem.  Furthermore, within the group, no one ever bugged me about what my sexual orientation was.  I am sure they all continued to assume I was secretly gay, but they weren't going to press the issue.  Once I explained I loved to dance, they accepted my statement and left it at that.

 

I liked these people.  Everyone in this group was wonderful to me.  Although I was definitely a riddle, I thought it was kind of these people to accept an outsider like me.

In the meantime, I was on a mission.  I was back in the Magic Mirror again, this time with passion.  My nightly mirror ritual had waned a bit around Christmas time, but now that I had actual competition at the Farmhouse to be the best dancer, the energy returned with an exclamation point.  I wanted to get even better!   I found a radio station with actual dance music and that did the trick.   Each night I turned on the radio and got to work in front of the mirror.

Let's all chant!
Your body, my body
Everybody move your body
Your body, my body
Everybody work your body
Let's all chant!

The powerful electronic Disco beat enabled me get rid of my tendency to think so much out on the dance floor.  As I began to relax, I fell into some sort of hypnosis.  Once that sense of blissful unconsciousness swept over me on the floor, my body began move in ways that could not be learned in a dance class or by staring at myself in a mirror.  I began to pick up dance moves by feel the same way I had once picked up basketball moves.

The funny thing is that I never noticed it happening.  These new moves snuck up on me.  What tipped me off was when I began to see moves appear in the Magic Mirror that no one had taught me.  Well, I'll be darned.  There really was something to this 'turn your brain off' stuff.  With a laugh, I remembered how my overly-analytical brain had interfered with my initial attempts.  Now I did not think about my dancing at all.  All this practice had made a difference.  

I could not wait for my next trip to the Farmhouse.  I wanted to show off my new moves!  Juicy and Lucy were my biggest fans.  They raved about my dancing.  As their adopted Boy Toy, they went on and on how much fun it was to dance with such a hot stud like me.  They quickly spread the story that they had personally taught me to dance, adding they did this so they would not be embarrassed to dance with me here at the Farmhouse.  Their hard work had really paid off because it showed they were born dance teachers.  Their enthusiasm made me smile.  Hey, bring it on, Fluff Girls!!  Juicy and Lucy gave me the nicest compliments I had ever gotten in my life.  I didn't care how plump they were, these two ladies made me feel good about myself.

One night Jill reminded me that she deserved credit for my improvement because she was my inspiration.  Although Jill was rounder than the Great Pumpkin, that didn't stop her from stating she considered herself the sexiest dancer in the group 'by far'.  Jill pointed out how fortunate I was to have her as a role model.  Not to be outdone, Lucy chimed in with a quip of her own.  Lucy reminded me now that she was skinny again (not), if I improved any more, she might reconsider her hands-off approach to me.  In that case, I would be unable to resist her.  I grinned.  The teasing never stopped. 

The highlight came the night Mark and Sean pulled me aside to say I was starting to catch up to the elite dancers.  Wow!  These kind words gave my ego a much-needed boost.  As the compliments piled up, I could feel my confidence surge.  I beamed with pride at the results of my hard work.  I was definitely on a roll. 

I owed Mark so much.  If he had not persuaded Donna to drag me out of my chair back in November, how would I have ever found a way onto the dance floor under my own power?  With that thought, I realized how this Dance Project was curing my crippled self-esteem.  All these compliments had shoved Phobia into the dark shadows.  Who could have imagined anyone could shut Phobia up?  But it was true.  This Dance Project was definitely putting Humpty-Dumpty back together again. 

I could hardly believe how rapidly I was improving.  The Farmhouse was exactly what I needed.  I said a quiet 'thank you' to Rachel for teaching me not to succumb to my fears all the time.  It was the memory of her that had given me the courage to visit Casa Mark in the first place and then the Farmhouse two months later.  The feeling that I was on a Path was very strong.  This was a pretty strange route to take to health, but I couldn't question the results.  I didn't know where I was headed, but I wasn't going to stop now. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 193 -
THE LOVE TRIANGLE 

 

Mark had referred to Sean as the best Christmas present he ever received.  I recalled the moment in late December when Mark first told me about Sean.  Mark poured his heart out about his love for Sean and how wonderful the guy was.  It was love at first sight.  Mark and Sean immediately realized they had something special.  I remember the day shortly after the New Year when Mark made his big announcement.  Mark beamed with pride when he told me the two of them had decided to become exclusive. 

This was a big step for Mark.  From what Mark told me, monogamy did not come naturally to gay men.  Here in the mid-Seventies, the gay community had elevated casual sex to a crescendo pitch.  Mark told me it was not uncommon for an attractive gay man living in a big city to count his lifetime conquests in the hundreds, perhaps even in the thousands.  Considering I could still count the women I had been with on one hand, my eyes bulged in astonishment at those numbers.  Yes, I knew I had led a sheltered life, but the disparity was shocking. 

Given this context, when Mark said that he and Sean were planning to be exclusive, I gathered that limiting oneself to just one partner,  something I took for granted, was a big deal for him.  Mark seemed amazed at his decision.  Mark muttered aloud, "I don't know if I even know how to be faithful!!"

   

Mark's love life was definitely weird, but it soon got weirder.  I raised an eyebrow in mid-January when Mark broke the news.  He explained that Mariah had joined Sean and Mark in their lovemaking.   As Mark called it, they were now having a Three-Way.  Mark said it was incredible.  He had never been so happy in his life! 

This was the dawn of the Love Triangle, the term I preferred to use.  The Love Triangle was literally the first personal information Mark had ever shared with me about Mariah. 

So Mystery Mariah was having sex with two gay men.  Hmm.  Interesting choice.  I wasn't pleased to know I had lost out in the Mariah sweepstakes to two gay men, but then again I had no idea what made her tick.   

As I listened to Mark, I was glad that he was happy, but thought to myself I had never heard of a stranger relationship.  As I visualized the three of them in bed together, I thought Mark was taking a big chance. 

"Mark, are you sure this is a good idea?"

"Absolutely," Mark replied.  "Mariah asked to join us and Sean said he was all for it." 

"I think sooner or later, someone is bound to get jealous.  I am sure of it."

Mark disagreed. "Everybody is an adult here, Rick.  We all know what the risks are and we all know that as long as we communicate, we can make this work."

Well, Mark was the Master.  If anyone could pull it off, Mark would be the one to do it.   Mark knew more about relationships than any person I had ever met.  Be that as it may, I still thought what Mark was doing was risky. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 194 - THE TORCH IS PASSED

 

It was Saturday, February 1.  After running into Disco Dave at the Farmhouse the previous week, I could not wait for my next class.  Dancing for an entire month at the Farmhouse had helped me make dramatic progress.  I could barely contain the pride I felt over my newfound mastery of Freestyle dancing.  Now I wanted to study David's moves and get even better.

David's two favorite songs were Rock Your Baby by George McRae and Rock the Boat by Hues Connection.  David would move so gracefully when he played these songs.  I tried to imitate how fluidly he moved, but it just wasn't happening.   Whereas I was learning to dance one step at a time, David was a natural.  I was so envious.  David had a real gift!

Now that I had made friends with the four new students, we began to hang together.  The funny thing is my new friends watched me dance just as much as they did David.  I was their inspiration.  They took my word for it that I was no better than they were when I started (actually I was far worse).  If I could get this good in six months, then there was hope for them too. 

No doubt the women overheard the compliments I got from my new friends on my dancing.  As I had expected, the addition of the four new students had changed the dynamics.  My improvement, the support of my friends, and David's continued show of respect for me had undermined their status somewhat.  And, as we know, status meant everything to these women.  Judging by their frowns, I noted they had lost a lot of their swagger.  These new developments did not sit well with them at all.

David said today he was going to teach us Cuban hip motion.  He showed us the 'Mambo Side Step'.  David stepped right and pushed his hip out to one side and then repeated the move to his left using a triple step in both directions.  I smiled.  Cool move.  I practiced it endlessly to lock in some muscle memory.  I definitely wanted to show this move to Juicy and Lucy later tonight.  I could hardly wait for them to make a big fuss over me.  I might even let them touch me.  Yeah, I was starting to get a big head.

To my delight, I picked up the Mambo move relatively easily.  Not only that, when I compared my movement to the seven women in the mirror, there was no doubt I had it and they didn't.  Those nasty women couldn't move their hips if they tried.  Perhaps their innate meanness had permanently frozen the lower part of their body.  More likely they had dieted so much they no longer had hips.

Paying the women no further attention, I practiced the Cuban hip move in the mirror without a care in the world.  I was having so much fun I didn't notice that David had stopped to watch me.  When I did finally notice, I stopped and grinned sheepishly.   David clapped his hands and said, "Hey, don't stop, Rico Sauvé!  You look good, amigo!"

 
 

David instantly regretted befriending me.  Sure enough, a look of horror crossed the women's faces.  The women were upset because David had acknowledged me publicly, a violation of the unspoken rule.  Seeing their faces contorted in disbelief, I could just imagine what raced through their minds... 'Oh my God, David was nice to Sasquatch!  Please tell us that Sasquatch and David are not friends!?!'

They turned and looked at each other with a dismayed 'Can you believe what just happened??' expression.  And who could blame them?  After all, David had been openly disloyal to them for the first time.  I saw their worried looks in the mirror and was amused.  This was their first show of weakness I had ever observed. 

Suddenly the woman David called Joyce realized I might have noticed her pained expression.   Rather than use the mirror to check me out, without thinking Joyce turned her head to see if I had noticed.  This was the first time someone from the River Oaks Seven had ever looked directly at me.  The moment our eyes met, she paled at her mistake.  Joyce had confirmed my existence.  Tickled, I waved and gave her the most obnoxious smirk I was capable of.

Uh oh, the cat was out of the bag.  Embarrassed, Joyce quickly turned her back to me only to be met by the angry faces of her six friends for breaking rank.  Joyce had committed a faux pas of the highest magnitude.  Sasquatch was no longer invisible and there was nothing they could do about it. 

 

My four friends laughed because they understood what was going on.  At their snickers, several women blushed with embarrassment.  The women realized I had gained the upper hand.  I could see it in their grim faces. 

At the end of class, as always the River Oaks Seven went through their ritualistic goodbyes to David.  However, their heart wasn't in it.  Noting that the smooching and hugging lacked sincerity, I had a hunch I would never see these women again.  The missing lipstick said it all... David didn't have a mark on his face.

Sure enough, when I entered the dance room the following week, they were gone.  The River Oaks Seven were nowhere to be seen.  David kept looking at the clock, then finally he shrugged and turned to glance at me.  I nodded and David nodded back.  We both agreed... the women were not coming.  David turned on Rock the Boat and away we went. 

The torch was passed.  This was my class now.

As a footnote, I acknowledge the River Oaks Seven had indirectly done me a real favor.  I found it unlikely to think I would have made the same rapid progress on my Dance Path if they had not aggravated me so much.  I wasn't spiritual enough to love my enemy, but I was at least able to acknowledge the role they played. 

As for the River Oaks women, I would never become their social equal, but at least I had made them regret underestimating me.  For a change, the Underdog won.  And why was that?  Because I wanted it more.  These women had reminded me how to use the chip on my shoulder to great advantage.

By chasing my considerable opponents out of their stronghold, my revenge was complete.  In so doing, I closed the door on my pain from the dance parties I was unable to participate in back in high school.  In a symbolic sense I was no longer completely inferior to my classmates.  I doubted seriously my classmates could hold a candle to my dancing.  It was good to put this ancient bitterness to rest.

 


SUBCHAPTER 195 - TROUBLE IN PARADISE

 

I had assumed that the demise of the River Oaks Seven would make me deliriously happy, but such was not the case.  Instead, beating them took all the fun out of my Dance Project.  It was like climbing to the top of the mountain and feeling empty because the goal had been reached and there was no higher mountain to tackle.  The loss of my nemesis had taken the wind out of my sails.

Here in February, the Farmhouse was not what it used to be.  I had begun to go through the motions.  However I stuck around out of loyalty to Mark, Lucy and Jill.  In addition, I nursed a long shot hope that Mariah would lose interest in the two gay men and fall into my arms at some point.  I was very skeptical about the chances of Mark's Love Triangle working out. 

Each Saturday night I watched Mark, Sean, and Mariah at the Farmhouse with a morbid sense of fascination.  I was curious about all sorts of things.  Previously I had assumed Mark was completely into men, but now I wasn't so sure.  It was surprising enough to learn that the Beautiful Ice Queen was having sex with two gay men, but what exactly was the arrangement?  Who was zooming who? 

Trust me, there were many questions I wanted to ask.  However, I did not dare ask.  Knowing Mark, he would have given me every gory detail.  In reality, I was too scared to know what the answer might be.  I felt myself disengaging from the gay scene, so the less I knew about what happened behind closed doors in Mark's World, the better.  I tried to be open-minded, but sometimes the Gay World was just too bizarre for me to comprehend.  So I deliberately chose not to pry open the lid any wider than necessary. 

Mystery Mariah continued to unsettle me for all sorts of reasons.  By definition, Mariah had to be straight.  She had to be straight!  After all, she was having sex with two men at the moment.  So what if they were gay?  They weren't lesbians, were they? 

Furthermore, I still did not understand why a beautiful heterosexual woman had been living with a gay man in the first place.  It crossed my mind that maybe Mariah was just as weird as I was.  I wondered what her story was.  Maybe she too was a Stranger in a Strange Land.  In that case, we belonged together... or so I told myself. 

My curiosity was further complicated by my desire for Mariah.  I was still climbing the walls to be with Mariah.  The problem with excessive lust is that it leads to poor choices.  Given that Mark was my best friend, my instincts warned me Mariah was an especially poor choice.  Ultimately, I was relieved by the development of the Love Triangle because it made it that much easier to leave Mariah alone.  So I stayed on the sidelines and waited for an opening.  I fully expected problems to develop. 

It turned out I was reading the tea leaves correctly.  There was definitely Trouble in Paradise.

On Valentines Day, theoretically the most romantic day of the year, Mark stopped me in the hall and asked if we could talk.  After closing the door to his office, he wasted no time confessing he was having romantic difficulties.  I was sorry to learn that Mark's Triangle was in trouble, but not surprised.  Mark had previously dropped hints that he wasn't getting his fair share of the pizza in the bedroom.  I took that to mean he was doing a lot of watching while the other two went at it.

From this point on, my daily conversations with Mark took a dark turn.  Mark and I had flipped roles.  During our frequent daytime talks, I was now the listener and Mark was the troubled one.  It was like Mark and I were on a seesaw.  While my fortunes were on the rise, Mark's love life was plummeting faster than a crashing meteor. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 196 - A LESS THAN SUBTLE HINT

 

The entrance of Sean into Mark's life did me an odd favor.  Now that Mark didn't go around drooling over me, Juicy and Lucy were starting to believe I was telling the truth that I was just here to dance.  Once I explained how unattractive I had felt all my life, they finally figured out what I meant when I said I was on a mission.  Turning serious for a moment, they said they were rooting for me. 

Lucy said she understood how it felt to be unattractive because she had dealt with the same issue.  Jill said ditto for her.  They were sweet women.  Nature had not blessed them with beauty, but it had given them a kind nature.  I was glad they were my friends.  I had been thinking about trying out the Second Office Club again, but their friendship held me back.  It wouldn't be the same without them. 

Strangely enough, Juicy and Lucy reminded me of my beloved dog Terry.  I remembered how I agonized over leaving Terry behind when I went off to college.  I knew there was a strong chance I would never see Terry again.  Unfortunately I could not take Juicy and Lucy with me.  Where would the Plumpettes find the courage to follow me to a straight club populated by slender young women in the prime of their lives?  Unless Juicy and Lucy decided to haunt me like Terry did, I would probably never see them again. 

On Saturday, February 15th, I was hanging out with Lucy and Jill at the Farmhouse when Jill began singing the blues. 

"Well, guys, yesterday was another Valentine's Day spent alone.  It has been a long dry spell, my fourth year in a row.  Thank goodness my favorite bottle of wine came to visit last night."

Good grief, first Mark, now Jill.  Is anybody happy here?   I decided to try and cheer her up.  "You can be my Valentine, Juicy." 

Seeing the instant frown on Lucy's face, I quickly added, "So can you, Lucy."

They both smiled at my quick recovery.  Now it was Lucy's turn.  "In case you have forgotten, Rick, I've already warned you that when I lose fifty more pounds, I'm coming after you.  I am losing weight at a rapid clip, so by chance do you have a friend lined up for Jill?"

Jill objected.  "Wait a minute, I want Rick too.  You can have his friend, Lucy, and I will take Rick."

"Knock it off, you two.  No claws, no scratching.  I hate it when you fight over me."

"We need to find a way to slice you in two, Boy Toy!"

"Don't be talking about cutting things off.  You know that makes me nervous."

They laughed.  This was a game we had played before.  They loved to talk about the three of us having sex together, but unless they found a way to get me very drunk, it wasn't happening.  Maybe that was another reason why I never drank here at the Farmhouse. 

My friend Jason back at Colorado State had once handed me an article that said when weight gain reached a certain point, there was no more hope.  I would never embarrass them with the truth, but I doubted either women would ever lose the weight.  If so, these two women were probably doomed when it came to men.

Jill and Lucy were pretty lonely, so my companionship filled a much-need void.  Considering my value to them, this explains why I was completely taken off guard by the next part of the conversation.

Jill asked, "So what about you, Boy Toy?  Any romantic possibilities?  When are you going to start dating again?"

"And leave you two?  Never."

Jill said, "Oh, cut the shit, don't start that again.  If you don't want to date, then why should we waste a good man?  Just pick one us and shoot the other."

That prompted Lucy to say, "I would suggest a three-way, but every time I think of that I look at Mark and change my mind."

With that, we all grew quiet.  Mark's woes in the Love Triangle were becoming obvious for everyone to see.  Right now Mariah and Sean were hot and heavy out on the dance floor.  Watching the sparks fly between them, the three of us could not help but notice Mark.  He was off pretending to talk to someone else, but mostly he was sneaking worried peeks in their direction.  It was a pitiful sight to see.  

Jill broke the silence.  "Okay, Rick, forget the three-way, forget shooting one of us and forget slicing you in two.  If Lucy and I can't have you, then someone deserves you.  You say you come here to dance, well, I think you've achieved your goal.  Now that you have eliminated those nasty rich women you told us about, what's your next move?"

"Are you girls giving me a hint?"

Lucy and Jill looked at each other, then looked back at me.  They replied as one.

"That's exactly what we are doing!!"

I went home in a very bad mood.  Jill and Lucy were right.  Now that I had vanquished the River Oaks Seven, I had experienced a total let-down in regards to my dancing.  It was embarrassing how much I missed taunting those seven women with my progress.  Now I was just going through the motions.  But the real reason the Farmhouse had ceased to be fun was Mark's misery.  Mark was the heartbeat, the pulse of our group spirit.  Without Mark's sunshine, our Farmhouse fun had gone into eclipse.  The energy was in decline.

The only thing keeping me here was my friendship with Jill and Lucy.  And now they were shoving me out the door for my own good. 

Should I listen to them?  No.  I decided I still wasn't ready.  With the memory of Rachel's betrayal still fresh in my mind, I preferred to avoid chasing my next heartache as long as I could.  I decided to stay.  Who knows?  Maybe Mariah would come my way.

With that, I glanced back at the dance floor.  Noting that Salome was putting on quite a show for her lover, on second thought, Mariah would not be headed my way anytime soon.  Where I was concerned, Mariah was a lost cause. 

If there is one thing about me, I am loyal to a fault.  Mark, Lucy and Jill were directly responsible for my comeback.  I did not want to leave them.  However, what if I were to develop a new venue in addition to dancing?   

 


SUBCHAPTER 197 - FINDING MY STAGE

 

The Farmhouse dancing had done wonders for my confidence.  I had begun to feel attractive again for the first time in two years.  In fact, I now believed I could approach a girl at a nightclub and ask her to dance.  The Farmhouse dancing and the encouragement of Jill and Lucy had done wonders for my confidence.  Unfortunately, the thought of abandoning my two friends prevented me from moving on just yet.  Saturday night belonged to Mark and the Plumpettes.  But what about the other six nights of the week? 

I had just dedicated the past seven months to a Dance Project designed to make the dance floor my stronghold.  In fact, I had been so locked into making Dance my Stage that not once did it occur to me to try other situations as well.  To be honest, I forgave myself because I was still coming to grips with my Colorado State misfortunes.  Now, however, thanks to my January success in the Dance Project, I was finally strong enough to branch out a little.  For the very first time since the start of the Dance Project, it crossed my mind to begin looking for girlfriends in places besides a nightclub.  But where?

I racked my brain.  Wherever I went, I would still be forced to approach a woman I did not know. This thought aroused considerable anxiety.  Although the Rejection Phobia was dormant at the moment, it was still there.  So I asked myself to review the times I had successfully approached a girl I did not know.  Maybe there was a clue in there I had missed.

I recalled striking up a conversation with Cheryl, the beautiful hippie girl at a rock concert in my Senior year of high school.  However, that didn't count.  Cheryl had been a captive audience since my seat placed me next to her. 

I thought of Arlene, the lovely young woman I had dated during my Interlude year.  Arlene was officially the only pretty girl I had ever approached in my entire life.  How exactly did I pull that off? 

Arlene had been in training to be a nurse.  One of her rotations placed her at the mental hospital where I worked.  One look at the fear on her face at this unsettling new location was all it took to see an opening.  I used my job to perfect advantage when I approached Arlene.  "Hello, you must be new here.  What are you doing in a strange place like this?"

In my case, the mental hospital with its depressing atmosphere was so foreign to Arlene, she was relieved to see a confident young man offering his friendship.  What had given me the courage to act so decisively?  I knew the answer to that.  I belonged at the mental hospital because it was my job and Arlene was a visitor.  That gave me the upper hand. 

I thought of Vanessa.  Although she had been the one to approach me, I knew that my role as a first year graduate student had given me considerable status.  A boy had to be sharp to belong in the Clinical Psychology graduate program.  Vanessa was a smart girl in her own right, so she was attracted to me.  In fact, that same status attracted Debbie several months later as well.

What about Yolanda?  I had met her at a temporary job.  She was a secretary and I was a caseworker.  That gave me a higher status.

What about Gloria?  I was the star of the show during my swimming pool strip tease.  Gloria had seen me in a place where I looked confident.  I might add she later said I looked good naked as well.  I definitely got her attention.

What about Rachel?  Again, I was the star of the show.  The respect given to me by the older Jewish men convinced Rachel I was someone worth checking out.

There was a definite pattern emerging here.  Each girlfriend had been acquired at a place where I felt and looked the most confident.  I decided the best place to meet women was any venue where I could show my superiority.  I assumed women have been attracted to successful men since the beginning of time.  A man needs a place to shine, a place where he is the clear choice as the Alpha Male. 

I thought about Jill and Lucy.  I had met them through dancing.  The dance floor was my Stage and dancing was our common interest.  But I had ruled out dancing.  I needed to identify a different situation where I was strong. 

I recalled the Piano Man from several months ago.  That guy had woman after woman lining up to check him out.  The piano bar was his Stage, the place where he could demonstrate his ability and look the most confident.  That set me to thinking.  Where could I go and feel like I belonged?  Where would I be most at ease? 

My job was the obvious choice.  Unfortunately, my concept would not work here at my job.  Most of the women were married and half the single women were lesbian.  I had not seen anyone I was interested in, so I needed to look elsewhere.  I needed to throw a wider net. 

My mind drifted back to Rachel.   If ever there was a situation that supported this 'Stage' concept, it had to be the role volleyball had played in our brief affair.  Let's be clear about something.  Under ordinary circumstances a woman like Rachel would never have given a struggling young man like me the time of day.  It was just my luck that Rachel noticed me in the only spot in the Universe where I looked good.  Therefore, the best place to meet women would be any venue where I could show my superiority.

What superiority??   The only thing I had ever been good at was education and look where that got me. 

And that is when it clicked.  My intelligence was my strength.  That is what had attracted Vanessa.  Where could I put my intelligence to good use?  Hmm.  Why not go back to college?  Rachel was a college student.  The best way to meet another girl like Rachel would be to go back to college.  This was such an obvious idea I could not believe I had not thought of it sooner.  Despite my failure at Colorado State, at age 25 I imagined I could still blend in with a college crowd fairly easily. 

What about Rice University?  With that, a wry smile crossed my face.  Rice University had stolen Rachel from me, so maybe Rice University would be willing to offer me a replacement.  Wouldn't that be sweet?  The Karmic balance in that idea was so amusing that I instantly locked on to it.  On the spot, I decided to pay Rice University a visit.

 


BOOK FOUR: THE LOST YEARS

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO:   MANIMAL 

 

 

  TIMELINE
   1975: February   Love Triangle problems, I decide to make a visit to Rice University
   1975: January   Farmhouse, Mark's Love Triangle, River Oaks Seven vanquished
   1974: December   Stranger in a Strange Land, Mark meets Sean
   1974: November   Rachel (23), Casa Mark, Mark's Dance Intervention (24)
   1974: October   Gloria, Mark
   1974: September   Dilemma, The Prize
   1974: August   Magic Mirror (22), Rematch with the River Oaks Seven
   1974: July   Child Welfare job, Courtesan Book (19), Yolanda, Stalled Car Incident (20), Drag Queen Lynn, Rejection Phobia develops,
   Decision to Learn to Dance, River Oaks Seven, Dance Class from Hell (21), Parking Lot Inferno, The Dance Project begins
   1974: June   Couch Catatonia
   1974: May   Dismissed from graduate school
   1974: April   Debbie and the Cow Eyes (18), I teach a Psychology class
  1974: January    Therapy with Dr. Hilton, Jason suggests I study Learned Helplessness, Phantom of the Opera
  1973: December    Rocky Mountain Menstrual Cramps, Vanessa leaves for Portland, I receive a 'D' in Interviewing, Jackie reveals the truth about Vanessa
  1973: November    Love Affair with Vanessa begins, Vanessa two-times me, Dr. Fujimoto criticizes me
  1973: October    I meet Vanessa, Portland Woman song (17)

 

   1959-1968   St. John's
   1968-1972   Johns Hopkins
   1972-1973   Interlude
   1973-1974   Colorado State
  1955   Cut my eye out (01), Near Miss with the Stock Car (02)
  1959-1968   Nine year career at St. John's
  1959-1960: 4th Grade   Divorce, Mom falls apart, Dad abandons me, Feelings of inferiority begin to develop, fascination with Mrs. Ballantyne begins
  1960-1961: 5th Grade   Terry runs away for over 2 days
  1961-1962: 6th Grade   Hurricane Carla, Dad refuses to send to SJS beyond 6th grade, Granted half-scholarship to SJS
  1962-1963: 7th Grade   Fred Incident - Illness at boy scout camp leads to Invisibility, Katina Ballantyne joins my class
  1963-1964: 8th Grade   Knocked unconscious playing football due to blind eye, Caught stealing candy at Weingarten's , Discovery of chess book (03),  
  Granted full scholarship to SJS, Summer basketball project
  1964-1965: 9th Grade   Acne Attack (04), Basketball strike on swollen face (05)
  1965-1966: 10th Grade   Father denies third skin operation, Locker Room fight, set of weights appears (06), Mr. Ocker hires me out of nowhere (07)
  1966-1967: 11th Grade   Weingarten's Resurrection, I buy a car
  1967-1968: 12th Grade   Mr. Salls asks me to apply to Johns Hopkins, Little Mexico, Father's $400 insult, Cheating in Chemistry,
  Caught stealing gym clothes, Caught cheating in German (08), Jones Scholarship lost to Katina,
  Parking Lot Meeting with Mrs. Ballantyne (09), Ralph O'Connor hands me a scholarship to Hopkins,
  Close Call Car Accident (10), Senior Prom Cheryl (11), Mr. Salls Blind Spot (12)
  1968-1969: Freshman at Hopkins   Emily at the Train Station (13), Sanctuary at Lynn's house, Car stolen in December, Night School Computer class
  1969-1970: Sophomore at Hopkins   Connie and Company Kill Shot, Dr. Lieberman, Susan and the Witch at Quaker Meeting, Magical Mystery Tour,
  Antares-Astrology eye injury (14),  Séance Night with Vicky and Terry (15)
  1970-1971: Junior at Hopkins   Camp Counselor Daydream (16), Colvig Silver Camp in Colorado
  1971-1972: Senior at Hopkins   Savitria, Koinonia, The Manor
  1972-1973: Interlude   Mental Hospital, Arlene

 


DESTINY


CHAPTER FORTY-TWO: 
MANIMAL
Written by Rick Archer
 

 


SUBCHAPTER 198 - THREE'S A CROWD

 

At the end of February, Mark's problems escalated to crisis mode.  On Thursday, February 27, Mark called me on my office phone.  He did not sound good, so I hurried over.  Mark broke down the moment he saw me and openly wept.    These weren't just moist tears in his eyes; Mark was sobbing with grief.  I sat there awkwardly and let things run their course. 

Finally Mark composed himself enough to explain.  Mark said his Three-Way was spinning badly out of control.  Yesterday afternoon Mark played a hunch and deliberately came home early.  Sure enough, he came across Sean and Mariah in the act.  Given the direction the sex had been going lately, Mark suspected this wasn't the first time the three tenors had turned into a duplicitous duet. 

Following his habit of confronting his fears, Mark asked the two of them what the story was.  Upon questioning, Mark discovered that Sean and Mariah had been going at it for some time now, but wanted to conceal it from Mark.  They preferred to have sex when Mark wasn't around, so Mariah had secretly reworked her schedule to accommodate some afternoon delight while Mark was still at work. 

Mark was absolutely crushed.  "I cannot believe Sean and Mariah have been cheating on me!"

Good grief.  How could it be 'cheating' if two people who had been having open sex together in front of Mark continued to have sex on the side?  I decided Mark was in no mood to explain it to me.  Besides, I got the point.  Mark could not bear feeling left out. 

So instead I asked Mark what had gone wrong.  Mark ruefully explained that Sean had discovered a previously unsuspected interest in having sex with women.  Apparently Sean had no idea how much he liked sex with women until Mark invited Mariah into their bed.  Mark moaned that Mariah had awakened Sean's latent heterosexuality!  

My ears perked up.  'Latent heterosexuality'... did Mark really say that??  Never heard that one before.  I almost laughed out loud, but out of respect for Mark, I managed to suppress it.  After all the times I had been accused of being secretly gay, poor Mark had been done in by a guy who was secretly straight.  The whole idea was dripping with irony. 

Now that the secret was out, things had taken a strong turn for the worse.  Mariah and Sean decided there was no longer any point in hiding.  But they still preferred to have sex in private.  For the first time, last night Mariah and Sean had decided not to sneak around anymore.  Instead they deliberately asked Mark to leave the room while they had sex.  Mark gave me the woeful details of how they apologized profusely for rejecting him.  They hated sending him away, but claimed that given their intense feelings for each other, they needed to be alone.  Mark took the hint and went to another room.  However, after Sean shut the door and locked it, Mark confessed he had pressed his ear to the door and listened to them make love. 

Mark was in serious pain.  "I despised being excluded!!  It drove me insane with jealousy listening to them pant and moan!"

I was horrified.  Was Mark out of his mind?  Why would he torture himself like that?  I tried to imagine how I would have felt if Vanessa and Kenny had sex in another room and I was forced to listen.  Or Rachel and Aaron.  I would have gone out of my mind with jealousy. 

Well, judging from the puddle of tears on Mark's desk, Mark had gone out of his mind too.  It wasn't just that he was jealous, the rejection he felt was unbearable.  Now that the Three-Way had turned into a Two-Way and Mark was facing a One-Way ticket elsewhere, he was understandably miserable. 

Mark did not know if this rift could be repaired.  He wondered aloud if there was any way to rescue his Triangle, so I asked him to answer his own question.  Mark shook his head doubtfully.  Probably not.  Three's a crowd.  Someone had to go and it was probably him.  If Sean had his way, Mark could stay.  It was Mariah who was unsure whether Mark could stay or had to go.  Mark was deeply worried they would push him aside completely.  Mark was terrified of being put out in the cold. 

I didn't know what to say to Mark.  I had warned him long ago that he was playing with fire, but I took no pleasure in finding out I was right.  I finally decided to ask Mark to explain his dynamics with Mariah.  As Mark explained the story, he and Mariah were more like best friends.  They were like girlfriends who were roommates.  As long as Mark had casual sex with one man after another, Mariah could not have cared less.  She wasn't possessive in that way.

However, when Mark and Sean started to fall in love, for the first time, Mariah felt left out.  Sean's presence threatened the stability of her relationship with Mark.  Furthermore Mariah was the one who had to listen as Sean and Mark went at it behind closed doors.  Threatened by Sean's increasing importance, Mariah confessed to Mark her fear of losing him to Sean.  That's when Mark came up with the brilliant idea of involving her in a three-way. 

It worked at first, but then it backfired.  Sean and Mariah enjoyed making love so much, they had fallen in love.  Now Mariah didn't want to share Sean with Mark any more and she didn't want Mark to touch her either. 

I listened with astonishment.  I had never heard a stranger story in my life.  What was Mark going to do?  His wife had just stolen his boyfriend!  This story reminded me of an old punch line... "My best friend ran off with my wife and I miss him!!

I tried very hard to understand what Mark was feeling.  I looked back upon my own Rachel-Aaron-Rick love triangle for clues.  I understood that it was theoretically possible to have casual sex with different people at the same time if strong emotions weren't involved.  Then it becomes a game of physical pleasure.  You scratch my back; I scratch yours. 

However, when feelings get involved, I believed that feelings changed the equation.  In my case with Rachel, once my feelings got involved, jealousy and possessiveness came into play.  I became intensely angry when I discovered Rachel was having sex with another man at the same time as me.  All my feelings of being special crumbled on the spot.

No matter how much I tried to rationalize, in Rachel's case I had no control over my darkest feelings whatsoever.  My feelings of pride collapsed into humiliation and rage.   I wanted Rachel to be 'My Woman', not share her with another guy.  If I couldn't conquer my jealousy, then I didn't see how Mark could do it either.  His sad experience only served to reinforce my idea that most people have a hard time sharing a lover when their hearts are involved. 

To me, the philosophy of sharing multiple sexual partners was nonsense. There was a current book known as the Harrad Experiment which suggested sharing partners worked just fine even when feelings were involved, but I was not buying it.  Casual sex maybe, but not with people who who had strong feelings for each other.  The Rachel situation was all I needed to conclude that I never wanted to share someone I cared about.  Too much pain and insecurity. 

However I was willing to admit that perhaps other men were wired differently.  Maybe movie stars could share their favorite partners without misgivings and jealousy.  I had been in awe when Mark claimed he had the power.  I was ready to tip my hat to him.  However, now it looked like Mark was human after all.  Mark was getting a double dose of what I went through.  His man was cheating on him, his woman was cheating on him, and the two of them had just kicked him out of their triangle!!   No wonder Mark was so miserable.  I could not imagine how Mark coped with so much pain. 

Once upon a time, I thought Mark was the man who wrote the Book of Love. I assumed if anyone could pull off a Love Triangle, it would be him.  I was morbidly fascinated to discover that even in an open relationship like Mark's where everyone knew the rules, it had turned into cheating anyway.  This seemed to suggest that in all triangles, the two who click the best will eventually exclude the third. 

As I watched this poor sad man wrestle with his emotions, I thought it was strange that something similar to what I had gone through with Vanessa and Rachel was now happening to Mark.  Given my preoccupation with Fate, I definitely raised an eyebrow.   I got the short end of the stick in my two Love Triangles and now Mark was facing the same problem.  Welcome to the Odd Man Out Club. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 199 - COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAM

 

How does someone break in with a new crowd?  I decided to find a place where people had interests in common with myself.  Education had once been my strength.  Since I was still a bookworm at heart, where could I look for a lady bookworm?

 

What about Rice University

I had always had a fond spot for Rice.  This place was like home to me.  Rice was located very close to the Montrose area where I grew up.  When I was a boy, I used to ride my bike over there with my dog Terry running along beside me. 

Rice had a beautiful campus.  While my beloved border collie chased squirrels and the countless black birds who lived in the giant oak trees, I would dream about attending a wonderful school like Rice and finally escape my troubled home. 

Unfortunately, when it came time to chose a college, I was determined to go somewhere as far from my mother as possible.  In retrospect, I should have gone to Rice.  My life would have undoubtedly turned out a lot happier than it had so far.  Oh well, better late than never! 

 

Based on my knowledge of Rice, I knew I would feel right at home mingling with Rice students.  Only one problem.  Wasn't I a bit old to be chasing co-eds?  On the other hand, I imagined that some of the female graduate students would be about my age.  It occurred to me that if I hadn't been tossed out at Colorado State, I would probably be hanging out with my fellow graduate students at this very moment. 

That gave me an idea.  Maybe there was a place over at Rice University where graduate students liked to meet.  Maybe it was time for a scouting trip!  Why not visit the campus and see if the magic was still there?  Based on past experience at Colorado State, Friday was the big night for us Psychology grad students to go out and celebrate the start of the weekend.  No doubt Rice graduate students would do the same.  On Friday the 28th, the day after Mark's breakdown in my office, I made my move.

Since I was not a Rice student, my main concern was how to penetrate a group I did not belong to.  To begin with, I had no idea where the graduate students might congregate.  Nor did I have any idea how to approach strangers, always my weak spot.  Constantly fearful of rejection, I wondered if my crippling phobia would sabotage me at a key moment.  Someone was bound to ask me who I was and what was I doing here.  To be honest, I drew a blank.  I had no good answer.  Oh, so what.  If I choked, what did I have to lose?

 I decided to wing it, a very uncharacteristic decision considering my Phobia.  I was quietly aware that this bold decision was a serious departure from the avoidance behavior that had plagued me ever since Vanessa and Fujimoto cut me off at the knees.  I was surprised at myself.  Where had all this newfound courage come from? 

The answer popped up swiftly.  Thanks to the overwhelming success of my Dance Project, I felt attractive again for the first time since my downfall in Graduate school 16 months ago.  I took a deep breath.  Gosh, had it really been that long?  Fujimoto and Vanessa had done a terrific job of destroying my confidence.  It was hard to believe it had taken a year and a half to climb back.  

Another reason for my newfound courage was being here at Rice University.  As I pulled into the parking lot, being on a college campus again made me feel good.  Thanks to my fond childhood memories, I knew Rice like the back of my hand.  If ever there was a place to fake being a part of, it was here at Rice.  This was such a good idea, I guess I was feeling lucky.

 

So where do I start?  Maybe I would try the Student Union building and see what was in there.  As I made my way to the Student Union, I walked past a group of 10 students playing volleyball.  Stopping to watch, I noticed they were about my age. 

The net was set up in front of the Chemistry building.  Thanks to an early spring, this was probably the first time they had played this year.  Fortunately Houston has mild winters.  The air was a little chilly, but no one seemed to mind. 

By the sounds of their laughter, I could see these students were enjoying their late afternoon game of volleyball.  A very sad, wistful feeling came over me.  In a manner similar to all those dance parties I missed back in high school, this volleyball game reminded me of all the good times I had missed at Colorado State.  Recalling my days at Colorado State, this idyllic scene should have been my life.  Oh well, I sure screwed that up.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a second chance?  

A girl saw me watching them play.  She must have read my mind because she called out and asked if I wanted to join them.  I didn't let it show, but I was thrilled to be invited.  Actually I was beyond thrilled.  The laughter and camaraderie attracted me. 

Even better, there were girls my age!!  Glory hallelujah. 

 

To my profound joy, I discovered these people were all graduate students.  Imagine that.  Once I was around a bunch of academics, I was right at home.  I suddenly realized my decision to head over to Rice had been an inspired choice.  My instincts were right on the money.  I had found a place where I felt completely at ease.  I had a lot in common with this group... same age, same vocabulary, same rumpled grad student look, same smart-ass comments.  I fit right in.  This is where I belonged.  

The only place where we differed was athletic ability.  I couldn't believe what a bunch of nerds these people were.  These grad students were the worst volleyball players I had ever seen!!    However I wisely kept that thought to myself. 

Furthermore I had the sense to curb my serious competitive streak.  Ordinarily I only knew one style... cutthroat.  Volleyball was my game.  At the time, I was the reigning MVP of my volleyball league over at the Jewish Community Center.  This was my big chance to show off.  I was just about to slam the ball when some instinct stopped me.  My inner voice kicked in... 'Calm down, Rick.  Be cool, be gentle'.  I took a deep breath and put my pit bull personality under wraps.  After all, wasn't it my aggressiveness that had gotten me thrown out of graduate school?  Try being a puppy dog instead.

I wanted so much to fit in.  I reminded myself over and over that these people were playing for fun, exercise and friendship.  Putting my slowly improving maturity to good use, I decided to modify my volleyball skills.  Finding myself psychologically incapable of deliberately misplaying the ball, I made a compromise.  I was able to refrain from hitting the ball hard by settling for retrieving every single ball that came near me. 

One girl called out, "Good play, Rick!  You're pretty good!"

Pretty good?  They had no idea.  Hiding within me was a Beast who played for keeps when the score counted.  However, today I kept the Beast well-hidden.  Content to play defense, it still didn't take long for the grad students to catch on that I knew what I was doing.  The players noticed how easily I handled anything hit near me.  By the end of the game, I was being recruited to play in their upcoming graduate student intramural volleyball league.  Someone explained that today they were conducting try-outs.  This development came as quite a surprise.  I had no idea this outdoor volleyball game had a purpose to it.  They were trying to see who in the Chemistry Department had talent and who didn't. 

I noticed the grad students were looking at me in a different light.  I think they had just realized that none of them had a lick of talent.  That explains why they were suddenly so interested in me.  Celeste was the girl who had invited me to play.  Now she made the decision to recruit me. 

Celeste exclaimed, "Oh, Rick, you should join our team!  Please!  All we need is one more good player!"

One more good player?  Good grief, how about five more good players?  Or one Rachel.  But I kept those thoughts to myself.  I didn't want to seem too anxious, so I hesitated at first.  That worked like a charm.  It helps to play hard to get.  I actually laughed at myself... I had never tried this ploy before in my life .  What was coming over me?  If I didn't know better, I was learning how to Play the Game!!

So now they begged harder and of course I relented.  However I didn't want to lie to them.  I wanted these people to become my friends, so I decided deception would be a bad place to start.  Reluctantly, I confessed that I wasn't a student at Rice.  I expected that would be the end of that.  In fact, I was frantically trying to think of some dumb reason to justify being here in the first place. 

Now I was in for another surprise.  'No problem', they said.  'We would love to have you on the team.'

I was flabbergasted.  Rather than challenge me and ask what I was doing here, instead they began to scheme a way to smuggle me onto their team.  I was taken aback by their willingness to cheat, but then again they were so bad that I could certainly understand their desperation.  They decided to list me on the roster as "Fred" somebody.  It turned out that Fred was an actual graduate student in their department. 

A girl named Cynthia reassured me.  "Don't worry, Rick.  There is no way you will ever be caught."

"Why is that?" I asked.

"Oh, that is because Fred is a mad scientist who lives underground.  We call him 'Morlock' because he never leaves the basement laboratory over in the Chemistry building.  No one but us has any idea what Fred looks like." 

Then Cynthia looked at me and paused.  I quickly caught on to what Cynthia was up to.  This was a test.  Cynthia wanted to see how I would react, what I would say.  The others picked up on Cynthia's ploy as well.  Everyone held their breath. 

"Morlock?  What a great nickname!  Can I assume you are referring to the sub-humanoid species in HG Wells' Time Machine who lived underground?"  

Cynthia smiled.  So did the other people who were watching.  I had just solved Cynthia's Riddle of the Sphinx.  They breathed a sigh of relief.  Hey, all right!  This new guy is a nerd just like the rest of us!

Yes, I knew all about the Morlocks.  I had read The Time Machine as a kid.  Loved it.  Loved the movie too.  Pretty Yvette Mimieux played Weena and her race was 'Eloi', a name that appeared frequently as a crossword puzzle clue.  However for the second time today I decided it was better not to show off.  All that mattered was that I had passed the test. 

Cynthia exclaimed, "Welcome to the team, Morlock!"

I could not help but grin.  Cynthia had no idea how close that nickname was to the truth.  Wait till they see me transform into The Beast when we play volleyball for keeps.  Meanwhile I was incredulous at their enthusiasm to recruit me.  These had to be the least suspicious people on earth.  They had still not bothered to ask what I was doing here.  They simply assumed the Gods of Volleyball had sent me to earth as the answer to their prayers.  Little did they know that their group was actually the answer to my prayers. 

I cannot begin to describe how happy I was to be back in a University environment.  Rice was a place where I felt welcome and this volleyball game had acted as my Stage.  This visit had become my ticket to a new world. 

As a footnote, you know how fond I am of coincidences... this was pure right place, right time.  I had already told myself this was an 'inspired decision' to come here today.  Now I started to wonder.  Inspired by whom?  Was this my idea or did someone send this idea to me from beyond?  This visit to Rice University was a total no-brainer!!  It was such an obvious idea I had to ask myself why I hadn't thought of it before.  At this point in my life, I had not completely wrapped my mind around the concept of 'Cosmic Stupidity'.  Nevertheless I recall feeling I had been kept in some sort of fog that had just been lifted. 

Said another way, I felt like blinders had been taken off in regards to visiting Rice.  I had the distinct impression that the idea to come here had been deliberately kept hidden for a reason.  Meeting these people today had a rhythm to it, a synchronicity.  The events of this day unfolded so perfectly that I would later list it as Supernatural Event #25, Three Star Rating. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 200 -
SHOCK

 

For whatever reason, my life had just accelerated.  Things were happening fast. 

  Wednesday, February 26. 
Mark's Love Triangle Crisis began on Wednesday when he discovered Mariah and Sean making love on the sly at their house.

  Thursday, February 27. 
Mark's emotional breakdown in his office took place the next day.

  Friday, February 28.
On Friday I was out in the field doing home visits.  Afterwards I had driven directly over to Rice University where I ran into the graduate students.  Due to my Friday activities, I had no idea what was going on with Mark.

  Saturday, March 1.
Since I had been dancing at the Farmhouse on Saturday nights for two straight months, I headed over there.

When I showed up at the Farmhouse, no one from the group was there to meet me.  Something was wrong.  Where's Mark?  Where's Sean and Mariah?  Where is Lucy and Jill?  Where are the other members of Mark's Circle? 

This had never happened before.  How was it possible in a group of 30 regulars that no one but me had shown up?  I told myself someone has to get here first, so maybe tonight it was my turn.  I participated in a couple line dances, but mostly I just sat there wondering what was going on.  I decided this situation must have something to do with Mark's Love Triangle problems.

I was right.  Half an hour after I arrived, Mark and Sean finally showed up.  I knew there was trouble when I did not see Mariah.  Mariah had never missed a Saturday visit to the Farmhouse, so this did not look good.  As Mark came over greet me, both he and Sean looked like death warmed over.  Mark quickly apologized. 

"I'm sorry, Rick, the Casa Mark group is over at someone's special house party tonight.  I forgot to tell you about the other party, but I have been preoccupied."

I had no idea what 'Special Party' Mark was referring to, but I was disappointed to learn no one from the group was going to be here tonight.  I could not believe Jill and Lucy were not here.  I guess they assumed they would see me at that private party.  They probably were missing me just like I was missing them.  Right now I was out of luck.  Who was I going to dance with? 

I decided to set aside my own disappointment because something was clearly amiss with Mark.  Sean was frowning and Mark looked like he had been crying hard.  Since Mariah was missing, I had to assume there had been a fight that day.

I spoke softly to Mark.  "I see Mariah isn't here.  Are you in any mood to tell me what has happened?"

Sean looked away.  He was very upset. 

Mark replied, "Mariah is back at home.  Yes, maybe we should talk."

Sean went over to the bar.  He brought Mark a drink and handed me a beer as well.  Then he disappeared into the crowd.  Now that we were alone to talk, Mark confided that he, Sean and Mariah had been discussing their relationship all day long. 

"Things aren't looking very good.  I asked them to consider inviting me back into their bed.  Sean was willing, but Mariah was uncomfortable with the idea.  If Mariah was against it, then so was Sean.  I could not believe Mariah would turn on me like that."

I nodded.  Mystery Mariah seemed to be calling the shots. 

"I asked Mariah why she was so opposed to the idea.  Mariah told me she expected I would do nothing but cry my head off.  She said, 'Jesus, Mark, you used to be able to smile and laugh.  If we let you back in bed with us, how do we have sex with you imitating a human waterfall?"

"That seems pretty harsh.  Did you agree with her?"

Mark didn't say a word, but instead began to cry.  I guess I had my answer. 

Between tears and sobs, Mark blubbered, "When Mariah realized how badly her candor about the crying had hurt me, she realized she had said a terrible thing.  Seeing my pain, she fell to pieces.  I don't know what her problem is.  Hells bells, I'm not the only one who is crying.  Mariah is crying, Sean is crying.  Being pushed away by Mariah hurts me worse than anything I have ever felt.  Why would she do this to me?"

I wondered the same thing about Mariah.  Why was she being so hard on Mark?  Although she didn't want Mark to intrude on her love-making with Sean, Mark was still her dearest friend in the world.  She knew how much this turn of events was hurting him and no doubt the guilt was ripping her up.  Sean did not want to hurt Mark either.  This situation was hard for him to bear as well.  None of these people were strangers to tears.

Sean must be very important to Mariah to treat Mark with so little sensitivity.  This was about more than sex.  Mariah and Sean were in love.   As impossible as it seemed, now that Mariah had turned Sean from gay to straight, she wasn't willing to share.  I concluded Mariah must think they had a future together.  In the process, Mariah was consumed with guilt. 

Breaking up is so very hard to do...

"So what is Mariah doing right now?"

Forcing back his tears, Mark managed to blurt out that Mariah was home bawling her head off.

"Sean and I couldn't take listening to her tears anymore, so we decided to come to the Farmhouse and leave her in peace."

I was depressed by Mark's no-win situation.  And disillusioned too.  Up till now I thought Mark was the man with the plan.  Didn't Mark write the Book of Love?  I was not at all happy to discover my guru wasn't perfect after all.  I wished that I could say something, but I had no idea what to say. 

"So what are you going to do, Mark?"

"Now that I have Sean alone here at the Farmhouse apart from Mariah, maybe he will listen to me.  I am going to find some way to change his mind and try to put the Three Way back together.  In fact, I probably should go find Sean and start twisting his arm."

Sean had wandered off somewhere, so I gave Mark a hug and wished him luck.  Mark gave me a rueful smile and left.  Tears were running down his face.  Good grief.  The poor man.   As I watched him go, I didn't see any way out of this mess.  Mark wanted to restore the Three-Way, but I doubted there was any chance.  Those four immortal words... 'desperation isn't very sexy'... crossed my mind.  This Triangle had spiraled too far out of control.  There was no patching this up.  Someone had to go and Mark would certainly be the one.

I sat there for while thinking it over.  I wondered if Mark needed my support.  I decided against it.  Sean and Mark needed to be alone so they could try to work it out.  I did not envy Mark's situation one bit.  This rupture was so serious I doubted that Sean would go for reconstructing the Love Triangle.  More likely he and Sean were about to break up. 

Now I thought about myself.  I was alone.  Should I stay or go?   I danced two more line dances in the midst of 20 or so people, but it was Freestyle that I longed for.  However I wasn't going to dance by myself.  I wasn't that desperate.  Instead I sat.  And sat some more.  I was getting really bored, but stuck around a little longer in case Mark needed me.

After Mark and Sean had been gone for 30 minutes, I decided it was time to leave.  Just as I stood up, a man in the shadows seemed to sense I was taking off.  He quickly stepped forward and asked me to dance.  I looked around.  Mark and Sean were nowhere to be seen. Oh, hell, why not?   One dance for the road and then I would leave.  I told myself this was freestyle dancing, not touch dancing, so what difference did it make?  I wanted to dance. 

This was the first time I had ever broken my hard and fast 'Stick to Mark's Circle' rule.  The moment I saw the man's excited reaction, I immediately regretted saying yes.  My instincts warned me something was wrong.  Too late now; I had accepted his offer.  Why not just dance one song and get it over with?  So we went out on the floor.  

I noticed my companion was a pretty big guy.  He was taller than me which was unusual since I was over six feet.  I glanced up and noticed he was smiling at me.  Or should I say 'leering'?  I shuddered.  There was some serious lust in his eyes.  That is when I began to worry.  I deliberately avoided eye contact and toned down my dancing, but it didn't work.  He looked like he wanted to grab me. 

This guy scared me, so I said, "Hey, thanks for the dance, but I have to go now."

Bad move.  Just as I started to leave, the man grabbed my right arm from behind to stop me.  He pulled my arm and spun me around like a top.  Off balance, I fell right into his waiting arms.  Before I knew what was happening, our faces were touching.  One arm was on my butt and his other arm was around my back.  I could feel his foul breath and wanted to vomit.  The man began thrusting his pelvis into mine.  Unbelievable!!

Frightened, I instinctively pulled away to free myself.  It didn't work; he was too quick.  The man caught me and pulled me tighter.  I was starting to panic.  This man had the power of a brute.  Of course I struggled, but it did no good.  He dominated me so easily, I decided my tormentor must be some sort of body builder.  Smashed against his chest, I pushed against him with my hands, but it was useless.  I had never experienced this kind of overwhelming power.  This was ridiculous.  I had been lifting weights since I was a teenager, but it didn't do me a bit of good.  Despite my 200 pound body and considerable strength, I was simply no match for this monster.

His power kept me glued to his body.  That left me with no choice but to match his grinding pelvis movements.  Despite my fear, I noticed that at least he kept the rhythm.  What a strange thing to think about at a time like this!  Seconds later he moved his right hand to the back of my head and shoved my face into his chest. With his shirt open, I found my face buried against his sweaty, hairy chest.  Holy shit!!  The odor alone made me nauseous. 

It was time to switch tactics.  I told him I had a boyfriend who would be back any minute.  That didn't work; he didn't even reply.  The man's strength continued to shock me.  I was positive this man could pulverize me.  This guy might be the strongest man in the building.  If that was the case, he would not fear any man who might consider interfering.  With that thought, I felt my first really serious sense of fear.  What did this man intend to do with me? 

 

 

My attacker was Manimal, half-man, half-monster.  Just my luck to meet the Minotaur in the Farmhouse Labyrinth.   I was being overpowered against my will and there was not a damn thing I could do about it.  At first I was outraged, but my anger had turned into real panic.  The more I resisted, the stronger he got.  There was no way on earth I could escape this man's grip; I was totally helpless.

To this point, resistance had not worked nor had my protests to let me go.  So I went limp in his arms and acted like a ragdoll.  I just stood there and didn't fight back.  That didn't work either.  Manimal just kept grinding his hips against mine and squeezing my butt.  What was that supposed to do, turn me on?  Or turn him on?  I stopped fighting and let him grope away.  What else could I do?

Now I tried talking to the man again.  Trying hard not to let the panic show in my voice, I said, "Look, mister, I am not interested.  Please let me go."

Being polite didn't work either.  Manimal ignored me and kept thrusting his pelvis.  At this point I didn't know what else to do, so I started to mimic his motions.  I know it sounds strange, but since everything else had failed, I decided to cooperate.  With his arms wrapped around me like vise grips, I tried to follow his movements.  The brute liked what I was doing.  He moaned a little as we swayed to the music. 

Now that I no longer resisted, Manimal's grip eased a bit.  Grateful that he wasn't hurting me anymore, I continued to play along.  Since escape was impossible, I began to wonder how this was going to end.  Horrifying images raced through my head.  Was Manimal going to drag me by the hair to a private room and rape me?  I had long suspected there were rooms in this place where men had sex, but had chosen not to verify my suspicion.  I was terrified of being ripped to pieces in one of those rooms.  

 

If it came to that, I was ready to scream bloody murder and cause the biggest scene in Farmhouse history.  However, I had decided to save screaming for my last resort.  I did not wish to enrage this man.  At the moment, he was in a very good mood.  He had just slid his hand inside my pants.  At the moment he was caressing my butt.  I chose not to resist.

Help yourself to happiness, asshole.  I didn't say a word.  What good would it do?

The song ended.  To my surprise, abruptly Manimal let me go.  Just like that I was free.  I wondered if my last-ditch cooperation had won my release.  Maybe so because Manimal grinned at me and asked if he could buy me a drink. 

This guy wants to buy me a drink?  I stared at him incredulously.  Are you out of your mind?   Manimal had just assaulted me against my will and now he wants to be friends?  Interesting courtship ritual. 

I wasn't sticking around to exchange pleasantries.  I turned my back and walked swiftly off the floor... out of the room... down the hall... out the front door.  The moment I hit the night, I broke into a desperate sprint to safety.  As I ran down the street, I was panic stricken.  What if this monster was just as fast as he was strong?  Looking over my shoulder, I was relieved to see no sign of Manimal chasing me.

I raced to my car parked two blocks away.  After a quick look to make sure I was not being followed, I jumped in and locked the door.  I died a million deaths as I fumbled to get the key into the ignition.  That is when I discovered my car was wedged solidly between two other vehicles; I would have to rock back and forth to free the car.  Oh my god, of all the nights to be stuck!  

I had made a real mistake getting in the car.  I thought I would be safe, but I was wrong.  This car was a trap.  If the brute was following me, I was a sitting duck.  Sick with fear, I was positive any second some rock would smash through my window.  Then Manimal would reach in, open the door, jerk me out of the car and drag me to his lair.  Fortunately, that did not happen. 

My frantic attempts to free my car finally succeeded and I was on the road.  However I was still badly rattled by what had happened.  I was convinced the man was waiting in his car to follow me home.  Therefore I took every precaution I could think of.  It was paramount not to let Manimal know where I lived, so I took a circuitous route home with a couple of U-turns to be sure I was not being followed.  I watched nervously in my rearview mirror the entire time.  I passed my apartment building twice and went around the block just to be sure no one was behind me.  With my paranoia over the top, I trembled the whole time.

Finally I turned in and parked the car.  Leaving nothing to chance, I surveyed the grounds for danger before getting out.  Finally I ran across the open space, unlocked my apartment door and slammed it shut.  I locked the door and stuck a chair under the handle for good measure.  Then I collapsed.  I still didn't feel safe.  I half-expected Manimal's fist would come through the door at any moment.

I have heard women describe the terror they feel from being stalked, but never did I realize the intensity of the fear until this happened to me.  I did not sleep well that night.  With my senses on hyper-alert, every single sound kept me awake.

This was the night when I learned what it feels like to be overpowered.  I was intensely afraid of that man's brute strength.  This had to be exactly how a woman feels when a man becomes too aggressive with her.  It was a horrible feeling to be so helpless.  I had never felt so out of control in my entire life. 

Perhaps my fear was irrational.  After all, there were other men around everywhere, lots of them.  Surely if I had cried for help, others would have come to my rescue.  Or would they?  Would they have the guts to risk being maimed by taking on the biggest, most powerful man in the building?  Would they come to the aid of a stranger?  Or would they step aside and let Manimal have his way with me?  

I was glad I didn't have to find out. 

After tonight, I knew I would never return to the Farmhouse as long as I lived.  This chapter of my life was over.

 


BOOK FIVE: THE LOST YEARS

CHAPTER FORTY-THREE Celeste 

 

 

  TIMELINE
   1975: March   Visit to Rice (25), Celeste, Manimal
   1975: February   Love Triangle develops problems, I decide to make a visit to Rice University
   1975: January   Farmhouse, Mark's Love Triangle, River Oaks Seven vanquished
   1974: December   Stranger in a Strange Land, Mark meets Sean
   1974: November   Rachel (23), Casa Mark, Mark's Dance Intervention (24)
   1974: October   Gloria, Mark
   1974: September   Dilemma, The Prize
   1974: August   Magic Mirror (22), Rematch with the River Oaks Seven
   1974: July   Child Welfare job, Courtesan Book (19), Yolanda, Stalled Car Incident (20), Drag Queen Lynn, Rejection Phobia develops,
   Decision to Learn to Dance, River Oaks Seven, Dance Class from Hell (21), Parking Lot Inferno, The Dance Project begins
   1974: June   Couch Catatonia
   1974: May   Dismissed from graduate school
   1974: April   Debbie and the Cow Eyes (18), I teach a Psychology class
  1974: January    Therapy with Dr. Hilton, Jason suggests I study Learned Helplessness, Phantom of the Opera
  1973: December    Rocky Mountain Menstrual Cramps, Vanessa leaves for Portland, I receive a 'D' in Interviewing, Jackie reveals the truth about Vanessa
  1973: November    Love Affair with Vanessa begins, Vanessa two-times me, Dr. Fujimoto criticizes me
  1973: October    I meet Vanessa, Portland Woman song (17)

 

   1959-1968   St. John's
   1968-1972   Johns Hopkins
   1972-1973   Interlude
   1973-1974   Colorado State
  1955   Cut my eye out (01), Near Miss with the Stock Car (02)
  1959-1968   Nine year career at St. John's
  1959-1960: 4th Grade   Divorce, Mom falls apart, Dad abandons me, Feelings of inferiority begin to develop, fascination with Mrs. Ballantyne begins
  1960-1961: 5th Grade   Terry runs away for over 2 days
  1961-1962: 6th Grade   Hurricane Carla, Dad refuses to send to SJS beyond 6th grade, Granted half-scholarship to SJS
  1962-1963: 7th Grade   Fred Incident - Illness at boy scout camp leads to Invisibility, Katina Ballantyne joins my class
  1963-1964: 8th Grade   Knocked unconscious playing football due to blind eye, Caught stealing candy at Weingarten's , Discovery of chess book (03),  
  Granted full scholarship to SJS, Summer basketball project
  1964-1965: 9th Grade   Acne Attack (04), Basketball strike on swollen face (05)
  1965-1966: 10th Grade   Father denies third skin operation, Locker Room fight, set of weights appears (06), Mr. Ocker hires me out of nowhere (07)
  1966-1967: 11th Grade   Weingarten's Resurrection, I buy a car
  1967-1968: 12th Grade   Mr. Salls asks me to apply to Johns Hopkins, Little Mexico, Father's $400 insult, Cheating in Chemistry,
  Caught stealing gym clothes, Caught cheating in German (08), Jones Scholarship lost to Katina,
  Parking Lot Meeting with Mrs. Ballantyne (09), Ralph O'Connor hands me a scholarship to Hopkins,
  Close Call Car Accident (10), Senior Prom Cheryl (11), Mr. Salls Blind Spot (12)
  1968-1969: Freshman at Hopkins   Emily at the Train Station (13), Sanctuary at Lynn's house, Car stolen in December, Night School Computer class
  1969-1970: Sophomore at Hopkins   Connie and Company Kill Shot, Dr. Lieberman, Susan and the Witch at Quaker Meeting, Magical Mystery Tour,
  Antares-Astrology eye injury (14),  Séance Night with Vicky and Terry (15)
  1970-1971: Junior at Hopkins   Camp Counselor Daydream (16), Colvig Silver Camp in Colorado
  1971-1972: Senior at Hopkins   Savitria, Koinonia, The Manor
  1972-1973: Interlude   Mental Hospital, Arlene

 

 

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