It’s 2:30 am and Charlotte and I are wide awake holding hands in our new bed in our new house. This is our third sleepless night in our new home in the West Virginia wilderness. It’s the howling, hooting, chirping, scraping, squealing night noises that keep us from sleeping. There’s a sudden scraping sound on the roof and the sounds of a cavalcade of creatures marching above our heads.
We draw each other close and merge in rushed sex to comfort us and drown out the noises.
In the morning we admit it to each other – we fucked up so bad in moving out here to these mountain wilds. I was born and raised in the urban wastelands of Southeast Washington, DC and Char’s Manhattan born and bred.
“Char,” I startle her awake at the breakfast table. “You fell asleep there for a second. Char, we aren’t going to be evicted from our own home. We’re too tough for that. We fought too hard to get here to be frightened away by noises in the night. Right?”
She narrows her brown eyes and bites her lower lip. “Yeah, yeah you’re so fucking right! We will; we will – what will we do?”
The first thing we do on this bright Friday morning’s walk around our house and find the Oak branch that’s rubbing against the roof next to our bedroom.
We locate the tool set that Sally and Alberta gave us a house warming gift and the aluminum ladder left by the previous owner. We somehow manage to saw off the offending limb without sawing off any of our own extremities or falling off the ladder.
We celebrate by retiring to our front porch for Merlot and brie followed by a nooner to celebrate our progress and determination.
After our post-coital nap, we cut back two other tree limbs close to our roof. We inspect our roof and find bits of fish and gray fur.
We have raccoons on our roof. That’s what we conclude after our internet research and chat with the locals at Healdsburg Plumbing and Hardware.
After the twenty-mile round trip to Healdsburg, we apply the odious “Panther Piss” solution, recommended by the sales clerk, which just might keep the raccoons off our roof.
We celebrate with more wine and conjugal coupling. And for the first night in our new home, we get a good night’s sleep.
Two weeks later we’re sleeping better. We’re becoming accustomed to some of the noises, but Aaron, at Healdsburg Filling Station and Tire Repair, patiently explains that my Porsche 911 and Char’s Lexus LFA may not have sufficient ground clearance and traction to be of much use on our snow covered gravel and dirt roads. He believes that our cars will not be able to climb the steep grade to our home once winter’s snows start.
We console each other with wine and sex. We consult with our best friends, Sally, and Alberta, who live on a farm in rural Virginia. They have visited our home and they, to our great dismay, agree with Aaron.
It takes six agonizing weeks for us to come to terms with our dilemma and join the Subaru and pickup clans that dwell in our backwater retreat.
We pray that this ends the extraordinary sacrifices we have to make to accommodate our country living.
Despite our determination to soldier on and make this hillbilly life work for us in the back of our minds we know this is a rough fit at best. We’re waiting for sufficient time to go by so that we’ll not look like abject failures to our families and friends and, most importantly, to ourselves.
Char is, or was, a partner-track attorney with Endicott, Hilton, and Myers one of the most prestigious law firms in the District. She’s transitioning out of that career to be a public interest attorney. She works one day a week in DC for EH&M and works from home a couple of days a week on her new career.
I can see her rethinking her decision when we pay the monthly bills or an expensive sports car whips by our Subaru Forrester.
Me, I’m Chancellor Pool, a novelist. A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist that received a $450,000 advance on my second Novel, “Cold Thrill.”
I thought I would write better away from the many distractions of DC, my rambunctious artist friends, and my demanding and frustrating family.
Like Char, I’m beginning to regret my choice. I now see that those distractions were my muses giving me ideas and urging me on. My writing has slowed to a crawl in my mountain redoubt.
I think one year here should allow us to save face and get the hell back to the murder, mayhem, madness and politics that is the District.
I walk. Six days a week I hike our thirty acres. I follow trails and make my own path. I walk and listen and smell and feel and taste my new temporary home. I wear a whistle on a string around my neck to scare off bears I hope I never have to blow the whistle on a bear.
I carry an eight-inch computer tablet with me to take the occasional note or take pictures to show Char.
One trail I frequently take, starts behind our house and winds down the mountain and splits to climb a slope while the other path continues downhill.
I stop at the split. I look to my right at the heavy forest of trees that are not Oak trees. I need to learn the names of some more of the trees before we split. To my right’s a dense stand of bushes maybe twenty feet high.
What has caught my attention is a well-worn animal path from the forest crossing my path and leading into the thick bushes.
The bushes are impenetrable. So, why’s there this little dirt freeway here?
I get on my hands and knees and follow the path into the bushes with my right hand. Behind the first row of bushes is open space. I twist and turn and contort into the hedge. I have to change directions four times to escape the bramble.
My face and arms are scratched, my shirt and pants torn and bloody. I have been stung and bitten by seen and unseen assailants. But my reward’s worth it. A small meadow about thirty yards across with a row of football-sized stones at the back edge of the space. And a spring, bubbling, and ice cold. I take a sip. It’s divine. The best water, no, the best thing I have ever drunk.
On my knees, at the spring, I splash water on my wounds. I wash my face. I feel at ease, my scratches and bites are less painful.
I freeze at the sound of the angry hissing from behind me. A snake! Fuck probably a rattler. No. They rattle. A copperhead or—.
The hiss is closer this time. I slowly turn my head to look over my shoulder. Damn; I hope it’s not a spitting cobra.
It’s not a cobra or a snake. It’s fucking impossible. A woman or a female about two feet tall, orange as the inside of a sweet potato. Her face is long and thin, small pits for nostrils and a straight slash for a mouth. Her eyes are slanted, small, reddish-brown and angry. Her hair is dark brown and tied in a ponytail. She’s in a skintight one piece covering that makes her invisible in the forest behind her.
In one hand is a spear about half as long as she is, in the other’s a scroll and what looks like pencils.
She’s drawing the spear back when I ask her the dumbest possible question. I don’t know why I did it, but it saves my life. “Are, you, are you a writer?”
Goddamn! I want to retract that stupid-ass question. I could say, “I come in peace.” or “I will take you to my leader.” But, never, “Are you a writer?” God, I’m glad Char is not here to hear my idiotic last words. “I love you, Char. Don’t wait a year. Get the hell out of here now. I love you.” That’s my silent prayer as the elf or whatever it is hiss’s in astonishment and extends about an inch of red forked tongue.
Slowly the creature lowers the spear. She keeps her eyes locked on mine. “Oaf, why are you here?” Her voice’s slow, harsh, halting, and angry.
I slowly turn to face her. And again, I say something completely unexpected. “I write.”
She blinks in surprise. Flicks her long tongue, stabs her spear into the ground, looks at me hard and unrolls her scroll. “In your tongue, Oaf. ‘Slithers, silent, fangs ready, belly empty, hunger-driven, hate filled, kills and kills me again forever.’” She stares at me and suddenly she’s angry at herself. She grabs the spear.
I speak slowly, clearly. “You have an ancient enemy, a snake, a viper that is destroying your kind.”
She hisses loudly, flicks her tongue, throws back her shoulders and shakes her spear at the sky.
She motions for me to sit. She sits and drops the spear by her side. She waits.
“OK. OK, my turn. I slowly reach into the pocket of my cargo-pants and remove my computer tablet.
She hisses, bares her needle-like teeth and grabs her spear.
I point to her scroll and then to my tablet. She keeps her hand on her spear as I turn on the tablet and read. “He was standing on the train platform in skin tight blue jeans, a black leather jacket, a black pork pie hat and, with a bad attitude that lit him from the inside out like a radioactive flame.”
She responds quickly. “A well-dressed snake out to kill his kind.” Her voice’s a little less harsh and a little quicker and surer. “Is he you?”
“A little of me.”
And we have started our moving, enchanting, threatening, inspiring, impossible, literary workshops.
Her rules are simple. I tell no one about her and this spot. I bring no one to this spot. We talk about and share writing, nothing else, ever. I’m never to visit the spring without her.
She shows me a way out through a stand of fir trees or trees that look like our last Christmas tree which was a fir. I think.
I go home. Bath. Change clothes. Prepare dinner. Make love to Char all in a fog all as unreal as my writing session at the spring.
We have a system. There’s a small rock that she places on the fork in the road on the upper path if she’s at the spring.
Our sessions are less than sixty minutes, very intense, challenging, draining, but incredibly productive.
“Chance, baby, this is astonishing, absolutely the best thing you have ever written, better than your prize winner. I’m so proud of you.” Char demonstrates how proud she’s of me in a most sensual and satisfying manner.
I’m thinking about writing all the time. Every waking moment. I live for our sessions. I lust for our sessions.
“Chance, you are in the zone, baby. I miss you—you’re spaced out and, and distant, but you’re writing your soul and heart out… I love you, Chancellor. Don’t stay like this too long, OK?”
I dream of her with her shoulders thrown back, her proud breast pointing skyward, the lean muscled body, the tight as a knot ass. Impossible dreams. Nightmares in the making. Two different species.
Our year is almost up. Char and I can go back home. My book, my life’s work’s done, shipped off to my eager and excited publisher. We decide on a date six weeks away as our departure date.
I arrive and as usual, she steps out of the bramble a few minutes later, but something’s different. Her walk’s different, her face has an odd expression, and there are no scrolls.
I start to sit as usual, but she shakes her head no. She crosses to me. Plants her spear beside her and stares up at me. “You’re so swollen with seed and desire and self-loathing and need. You’re about to burst.”
I’m sweating and stammering, trembling as she tugs at my zipper. She’s methodical as she works the zipper down.
I’m on my back. “I’m too big. Too big for you… impossible… impossible—“
She smiles as she mounts me and slowly works me into her. She has magic muscles, suction, and release, sucks, and frees. I’m lost in a marvelous place without space and time. I never want it to end.
It ends. “You seed me well. You treat me well. Tomorrow we see.”
I make my way home in a stupor, dazed and disoriented. I sleep twelve hours straight.
I wake. Char is gone into DC to work. I eat everything I can find.
I wander down to the split in the path. The rocks on the upper path. I stumble into the clearing and sit. I doze off. When I wake, there’re five of them standing around me spears in hand. None of them are her.
“Where is she?”
The darkest one with blood-red eyes steps forward. “Seeded. Our turns.”
They pound their spear butts on the ground as they chant.
Seed us! Seed us!”
“Seed us now!”
I shake my head no. I explode, “No!”
“Her life depends on you. Seed us. She lives. Simple, Oaf, even for you. You’ll thrive and bloom bright in us, oaf.”
They chant again in time to the thud of their spears.
“Rapture and joy.”
I do “bloom bright” with delights and joy beyond my wildest desire or imagination. I’m instantly addicted to them. I want them all again and again in every possible way. I want her most of all.
Eventually, the dark one tells me to go home. To come back in three weeks
Three weeks is hell without them. I manage, barely.
She’s there. All six of them are there. They’re hungry and eager. They are haggard. Thin. Worn. I only notice their sad state after I’m sated.
“Fasting. Three weeks. You go. We come to you.” She tells me that as she departs.”
I have lost Char. Lost her weeks ago. I try to care, to love her but, my mind’s on them, always on them.
“I’m moving to DC tomorrow. I’ll be staying with Alberta’s sister until—“
“Char, I’m, I just, the money whatever, anything you want… Everything, it’s all yours.”
I stumble out on the porch, fall asleep. Dream of them until the scream.
They have Char tied to the bed. They’re waiting there for me.
She comes to me a walking skeleton. “Time to feed. Feed your unborn offspring.”
They speak to the rhythm of their thumping spears.
“Fair trade! Fair trade!”
“Six for one! Six for one!”
“All of us! All of us!”
“All our delights! All our delights!”
“Give us this food!”
“Food for us!”
“Food for your seed!”
“We are starved!”
“Starved for her!”
I say yes. I say yes as I flee the room and Charlotte’s screams.
On the porch, I have an unbearable hard-on. I can scarcely wait for their meal to end, and my bacchanalia to commence.
Banner Image: By Noah Siegel (Amanita virosa) (Omphalotus olearius (DC.) Singer (33857)) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons