•January 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The totally unextraordinary piece of furniture sat against the wall by the bottom of the staircase. It had been right there in that spot the first time she had ever visited his house, and for who knows how long before that. She’d never seen anything placed on it, nor had she ever seen it sat upon. It was just there–made of a good solid wood, sturdy, dependable. On this particular day, she actually took a moment to have a closer look at it. It was, by her estimation, about five feet long and two-and-a-half feet deep. The back of it had spindles that were thin at the ends and fatter in the middle, spaced evenly. It had an armrest at each end and today, for the first time, she noticed that there were hinges along the back edge of the seat. That probably meant there was storage space inside.

Her odd inspection was interrupted by the click of the door behind her. She turned quickly to find the man of the house coming in from work.

“Hello, my girl! What are you up to?” he asked her, moving close and embracing her.

“Oh..uh…nothing really, Master. I was just looking at your bench.”

“Were you now?” he asked, taking her hand and moving both of them closer to it. “This bench actually has an interesting story.”

“Does it?”

“Indeed,” he replied, and a faraway look whispered across his face for a moment. Then he turned to her and spoke.

“By the time I was entering high school, it was clear to my parents that I was never going to amount to anything. I’d spent my school years slipping through every crack I could find and making use of every excuse I could conjure. My behavior was unfocused and erratic, and they’d pretty much had enough. Before the new school year started, my mom went up to see the guidance counselor and had me placed in the vocational trades track at the school. I think she was praying that I would settle down enough to at least learn a trade and not end up in jail–or worse.”

“Unbeknownst to her, my father had a little private talk with me one day when we were out picking up materials for one of his construction jobs. He told me that if I didn’t straighten up and stop worrying my mom, he’d throw me out of the house with nothing but the clothes on my back. I took one look at his face and knew he meant it.”

“The first two years, I floundered, but I managed to stay out of trouble and slide into the next grade face first. Then, on the first day of my junior year, I met Mr. Morris.”

She looked up into his face. “Mr. Morris was a teacher, Master?”

“Yes, my girl, he was. He was the Wood Shop teacher and, aside from my parents, he’s probably the person most responsible for my continued presence here on earth.”

“He must have been a formidable person, Master,” she reflected.

“He was the most gentle and genteel man I’ve ever met–and the strongest,” he replied, quietly. “He was unlike any other teacher I’d ever known. He never lectured, he never raised his voice, he never even really said what his rules or expectations were. You just knew. We each had a station with the same equipment–basic hand tools at first–and he would go from student to student and give each of us a few basic instructions and let us get started. From that point on, he was in perpetual motion–always moving, always guiding, always assessing. He never pointed out your weaknesses or complained about them; he simply helped you to improve upon them.”

“One day after the midpoint of the school year, we were starting work on a furniture project–the first really large-scale project of the class. I’d decided I was going to play it safe and just make a foot locker, a basic box with a hinged top. I’d drawn my plan and had my measurements and when Mr. Morris approached, I handed it to him. He looked it over carefully, then took out a pencil and worked on it for a few minutes before handing it back to me.”

” ‘Good drawing, Tom. I think you’ll be happier and find more use from the additions I made there. Oh, and you’ll be using the electric tools for this project.’ And with that, he moved on.”

“Well, I was floored; no one had yet been allowed to move from hand tools to electric tools–and now it seemed I was to be the first. I think I broke out in a cold sweat. Then I looked down at my sketch to find…well, that bench,” he said, indicating the piece in front of them.

She was captured by his story and gave her attention to his every word. She knew this was the story of a pivotal moment in his life.

“It’s hard to really explain, my girl, but I felt such a responsibility to do everything perfectly in the building of this bench, and I threw my whole self into the task. I even started staying after school, returning to the shop in order to have extra time to work on it. I put my sweat and blood–literally and figuratively–into that bench. The day I finished it, Mr. Morris came over and stood beside me. He looked it over carefully, lifting the seat to inspect the interior, then lowering it and sitting down. He put his arm on the armrest and slouched back a bit. Then he stood up again, took his place next to me, and put his hand on my shoulder.”

” ‘It’s a fine piece, Tom…a very fine piece, indeed.’ I felt as if I’d won an Academy Award, and all of a sudden I found I had a completely different outlook about myself and about my life. Not only did I work hard at developing my woodworking and carpentry skills, I also put a lot more effort into the rest of my classes. I carried myself differently, I had a new sense of confidence and accomplishment–I felt like I could be someone.”

He paused, looking down at her and smiling. She slipped her arms around his waist and hugged him close.

“Thank you for sharing that story with me, Master; I’d never have imagined a bench having such an important place in someone’s life.”

“Oh, yes, my girl. This bench has seen some very important moments in my life…” and with that he sat down on it, leading her to stand directly in front of him.

“Really, Master?” she asked, wondering what important events might have included a lowly bench.

“Yes, it’s true. For example, I gave my very first spanking on this bench,” he said, looking up into her eyes with vague amusement.

“Oh, my…I see,” she said, feeling the blood rushing to her cheeks.

He pulled her toward him, and deftly turned her over his lap and raised her skirt. She felt his hand caressing her now-exposed bottom.

She squeaked a bit as she uttered one word: “Master?”

“Yes, my girl?”

Very timidly she asked, “What are you doing?”

He was quiet for a moment, then he said, “Did I mention that once I put my mind to it, it turned out that I was an excellent student of history?”

“No, Master, you didn’t mention that,” she replied.

“Ah, well, that was, indeed, the case, so I thought we might have a bit of a historical reenactment…”

Before she could say anything, he raised his hand and brought it down against her, quickly and lightly. He repeated this action again and again, with a little more force each time. She was breathless in his lap and moaned softly.

“Ah, yes…I do so love history,” he murmured.


•January 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The city is a big place with millions of people, so what is the mathematical probability of seeing the same stranger again and again in your travels, she wondered?

She had first seen him as she was attempting to hail a cab on the corner of 24th Street and Tenth Avenue. For a fleeting moment, he was alone on the corner across from her, waiting for the light to change. His head had turned in her direction and she was fascinated by his green eyes and silver hair. In the next moment, a beam of sunlight illuminated the spot where he stood and he was silhouetted against the sky. She remembered looking in her bag to see if, by some odd chance, she’d left her camera in it; when she turned back, he had been carried away in a rag-tag crowd of pedestrians.

Three weeks later, she was meeting a girlfriend for drinks at a midtown hotspot. She was early by nearly a half-hour, so she was window-surfing as she walked slowly toward her destination. A window full of cameras, cell phones, and assorted cut-rate electronic devices became the window of a bodega displaying advertisements for international calling cards. A view into a tiny bakery was followed by the open doors of a cafe. She moved along, crossing the bustling avenue and approaching the part of the street where she was to meet her friend. Stopping to read the bulletins in front of a church-turned-theater-venue used up a few more minutes, and she figured if she took a moment to look at the menus in front of each of the restaurants between her current location and the bar, she would get there right on time.

Greek, Italian, eclectic American….she was getting hungry. The next restaurant was French and the menu sat in a small case just outside the main window. She perused it with a sigh and as she lifted her eyes from it, there he was again–the silver-haired, green-eyed man, standing at the bar with a drink in his hand. She blinked a few times, her recognition of him kicking in. He shifted his gaze and met her eyes, holding her there. Everything else seemed to fade away, like one of those cinematic moments. She took a step or two toward the door of the restaurant, but wasn’t sure if she was moving under her own control. Three more steps and she would be inside.

Suddenly a hand was on her arm. She quickly looked in that direction, surprised to see the face of her girlfriend. The rest of the world came rushing back.

“Hey, you! This is not the right place; we’re a few doors down. Come on,” her friend said, grabbing her hand.

As she was hustled off up the street, she thought about this strange second sighting and her reaction to this stranger. She had meant to go into that restaurant; what had she planned to do once inside? She seemed to have no idea.

What she did know was that she’d begun to see him in her dreams. He was at the newsstand on the corner but she couldn’t get across the street; he was in the subway car on the other track; he was in the grocery store but when she turned into the aisle, he was gone. She was haunted but didn’t know why.

Weeks passed. She found her attention constantly being diverted by a flash of silver hair or the glint in a pair of green eyes. None of these belonged to her stranger, but it didn’t matter–she was a hunter now.

The weeks turned into a month, and she found herself uptown on Museum Row on a crisp and sunny Saturday morning. She wandered through the warm, quiet alcoves at the Met, visiting her favorite paintings and sculptures. She stood out on one of the balconies looking out over the park, the sun shining on her face. She mulled over ideas for the rest of the day and then headed out of the museum and up one of the tree-lined streets. Two avenues up, she began to browse through the shops of the antique book sellers, looking for something special to add to her small collection. She was partial to poetry, but the first two stores had nothing that interested her.

She walked into the third store, smiling and nodding at the proprietor, then headed for the first aisle of treasures. As she stepped around the shelving, she froze both physically and mentally. He stood three feet from her–silver hair pushed carelessly but perfectly back from his forehead, green eyes rising to look into her face, a slight smile gracing his lips. His elusion–however unintentional–was over.

She roused herself from her shocked stillness, moved toward him with her hand outstretched, and felt a smile come to her face.

“Well, hello there…it’s so nice to finally meet you.”


•January 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The door barely made a sound as she opened it, but her heels tapped out a steady patter as she moved across the marble floor. A hundred candles lit her way, placed carefully on the low walls that flanked the empty room. She reached the tiled courtyard, filled with verdant plants and a pond where koi swam languidly; that’s when she saw the trail of white rose petals. Breathing in the delicate perfume, she turned to the right and walked on until she reached the double staircase. Placing her hand on the large handrail she slowed her pace and climbed. Each click of her heels coincided perfectly with the beating of her heart and the soft inhalation of her breath. Though the day was hot, she was surrounded by  cool marble and the heady scent of the rose petals.

Reaching the top of the stairs, the delicate petals drew her to the left and into a shadowed alcove. A quick right found her in an expansive room that was dark but for two distinct areas. Gazing to her left, she found a copper bathtub–already filled with scented water–lit from above by a chandelier holding at least two dozen candles. The light from it formed a golden pool and reflected off the metallic vessel. She turned to her right and took about twenty steps, finally stopping at the foot of a bed that could only be described as opulent. Six enormous pillar candles flanked it, setting it apart from the dark shadows.  The bed’s four high posts were gilded with gold and carved with delicate flowers and fairies, and each was wrapped in lengths of gossamer that trailed down and onto the floor in every direction. The sheets were silk and seemed to ripple like water across the surface of the bed. Piled atop the sheets were furs the likes of which she had never seen nor touched, their softness a balm for every small injury that had ever troubled her soul.

She stepped back into the darkness and closed her eyes. She felt the room whispering against her skin and then a different power–one that played like an electric current, jumping here and there, teasing, arousing, igniting something within her. Without opening her eyes, she slid the slight straps of her sundress down her arms and let the dress fall away. Slowly, she banished the lace underthings and stood naked in the dimness. Her eyes still closed, she moved back in the direction of the bed, stopping when she felt the fur against her thigh. Climbing up, she nestled down into the furs as a shiver ran the entire length of her body. She lay still, the power of the room pressing in against her from all sides, and then she heard it.

Footsteps. Downstairs. Moving. Climbing. Coming.

She pushed against the room, freeing herself, readying herself.

Smiling softly, she needed no eyes to know he was there. She reached out her hand and opened her soul.