“Ten Thousand Leaves”…..Happy Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2016

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

(The essay below is included in “Song of the Nightingale”, published by Cresatespace, Amazon.com, July, 2015)

Cover painting by Jane Kohut-Bartels, wc.

What better ways to celebrate a holiday about love than to read love poetry?

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“Ten Thousand Leaves, Love Poems from the Man’yoshu”

“Thick and fast stream my thoughts of you

Like the layers

Of endlessly falling snow

Upon the cedars.

“Come to me at night, my man.”

—– from the Man’yoshu

 –

 

It was the first golden age of Japanese civilization.  In the eighth century appeared the great metropolis of Nara, (the imperial capital) its broad avenues lined with magnificent temples. Culture rushed in from Korea, China and over the Silk Road, from as far away as Persia, and even from Venice.

We think of Japan in isolation, as it was to become centuries later, but in the 7th to the 10th centuries (approximately) the cultural influences were vast and wide and foreign.

In the 8th century, Japan found it’s first voice, a clear and powerful voice to become one of the most impressive, sophisticated and frank compilations of poetry the world has ever seen.  (There are other earlier and then later collections of poetry, but the Man’yoshu is considered to be the best of the poetry collections.  There are many reasons (cultural and court changes, etc) but this is a long study and can’t be done in this short presentation.

There are not 10,000 poems (leaves) but over 4,500.  Most of these are love poems, where lovers speak with disarming frankness and clarity, speak to us across 1300 years as if they were us.

Actually, the poems express a decided lack of neurosis that we have come to view sex in the last few centuries.  There is nothing of barriers when it comes to the human heart, longing, emotions and sexuality in these poems.  Many of them are openly, expressly erotic.

The authors or contributors of these poems extended from Emperors, Empresses, courtesans, samurai, priests, beggars, fishermen, peasants: a cross section of remarkable variety.  A truly democratic endeavor.  This was never again to happen in Japan, not at least to this extent.

Otomo No Yakamochi (718-785) is considered to be the main compiler of the Man’yoshu.  These poems actually span a 130 year history, from around 630 AD to 759 AD.

There are three basic divisions of the poetry in the Man’yoshu.

 

Banka: elegy on the death of an Emperor or a loved one.

Somon:  mutual exchanges of love or longing poetry.

Zoka:  Poems of Nature, hunting, etc.

This short presentation will focus only on the Somon form.

Generally the Man’yoshu poetry is considered to be declarative rather than introspective, imagistic rather than abstract.  There is an incredible freshness to it all.

There are basically two forms of poetry in the Man’yoshu: choka (long poem, 5-7-5-7-5-7, etc. ending in 7-7) and tanka.  (5-7-5-7-7). The ‘long poem’, choka (which isn’t very long by our modern and Western standards) died out of fashion, and tanka became the predominant form of Japanese poetry for the next 1200 years.

Although one would think so, there isn’t a lot of Buddhist influence in the poems.  If any religion, there is more Shinto influence especially in the Zoka form, but even that isn’t large.  This may seem strange to us, with our notions of culture in Japan, but even centuries later, with the Priest-Poet Saigyo, there is little Buddhist thought within his poems.  Religion just doesn’t play such a dominant role in most Japanese poetry, especially at this time.

“Going over the fields of murasaki grass

That shimmer crimson,

Going over the fields marked as imperial domain,

Will the guardian of the fields not see you

As you wave your sleeves at me?”

— Princess Nukata

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This poem is considered by many to be one of the greatest poems in the Man’yoshu.  It is presented near the beginning of the collection, giving it prominence.  The answer by her former husband (she is now married to the Emperor) Prince Oama, (his brother) is a beautiful poem in its own right.

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“If I despised you, who are as beautiful

As the murasaki grass,

Would I be longing for you like this,

Though you are another man’s wife?”

— Prince Oama

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“Do not let men find out

By smiling at me so apparently,

Like the clouds that clearly cross

Over the verdant mountains.”

— Lady Otomo Sakanoue

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There are more poems by this poet than any other woman in the Man’yoshu.  What is remarkable are the amount of women poets included in the Man’yoshu.  This is only possible because the Confucian philosophy was not prominent yet in Japan.  When it became influential, women lost much status: before they were allowed to own property, title, name, divorce, to keep custody of their children.  After, they were relegated to indoors, stripped of much power and status.

“Whose words are these,

Spoken to the wife of another?

Whose words are these,

That bade me untie

The sash of my robe?”

— Anonymous

Many of the poems in the Man’yoshu were folk songs, or parts of folk songs. And this repeated interest in ‘the wife of another’ was an object of male desire; the Man’yoshu is full of this theme.

“As I turn my gaze upward

And see the crescent moon,

I am reminded Of the trailing eyebrows

Of the woman I saw but once.”

— Otomo Yakamochi

This was written by Otomo at the age of 16!

“I have fallen into a yearning

With no requite,

For a girl who, when night comes

Sleeps pillowed in another’s arms.

— Anonymous

“If men can touch

Even the untouchable sacred tree,

Why can I not touch you

Simply because you are another’s wife?”

— Otomo Yasumaro

 

To finish with some anonymous poems:

“The flowers of the plum,

Were covered with fallen snow

Which I wrapped up

But when I tried to have you see

It was melting in my hands.”

“This body of mine

Has crossed the mountain barrier

And is here indeed!

But this heart of mine remains

Drawing closer to my wife.”

“The moon crossed the sky

And I saw him only once In its pale light

Yet, the person whom I saw

Does appear to me in dreams.”

“I shall not take a brush

To this hair that lies

Disheveled in the morning,

For it retains the touch

Of my dear lord’s arms that pillowed me.”

— Anonymous

Finally , I offer a poem of my own:

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“Glimpse of a white wrist

Feel the pulse of blood beneath-

This is seduction!

But catch a wry, cunning smile

One learns all is artifice.”

Or something a bit different.  Many of the poems were built one upon the other, answers brushed upon a fan, or something suitable, even a large leaf. In the ‘spirit’ of this method that is found in the Man’yoshu, I offer a modest poem based  on the one below from the Man’yoshu:

Thick and fast stream my thoughts of you  like the layers

Of endlessly falling snow

Upon the cedars.

“Come to me at night, my man.”

 

Come to me

If  only in my dreams

Where my head rests upon my arm

And not yours–

Let this veiled moon

Above and these dark, brooding pines below

“Be witness to our love, my man.”

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels (aka Lady Nyo)

Copyrighted, 2011, 2016

 

 

 

“Winter’s Withered Hand”, a poem

February 11, 2016

Winter Scene, 3

 

Winter’s withered hand

Scrapes across muted landscapes

And steals comfort from a sullen earth.

 

Birds fall frozen to the ground,

Lambs to the seasonal slaughter,

Ducks held fast in unflinching ice.

 

The elders give up the ghost ,

Just fade away

In this death-howling season and

Pale newborns struggle towards warmth.

 

In this silenced land of winter,

colors stark, dissolved,

Black limbs lifted to a somber sky

Like wooden beggars pleading for alms.

 

I listen for the melting

One unseasonable day—

The breaking of ice around a dam,

The baby babble of some brook

The laugh of a crow overhead,

The drip-drip of a leaky faucet—

 

The earth will turn

On its axis

And with this

Comes the promise

Of Spring.

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted,  2016

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter Four

February 10, 2016

Mia with capMia, the new dog, with mobdcap.  She chewed off the ribbons…. 

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Chapter 4

Bleary with sleep, a dull pain in my head, I opened both eyes carefully. That wine last night must be the reason my stomach hurts.   I am playing with fire if I continue to — Oh Crap! I’m here again! I sigh with disgust, my legs tangled in the sheets. This bedroom has become my new dungeon and looking out of the east window, is the dungeon master. I turn over and glare at him.

“Good Morning”.   This time he said it in English instead of Dutch, but he didn’t turn from the window.

“Garrett, how long have you been there?” I yawned, rubbed my eyes and pulled my mobcap off. His commanding me here was becoming a bit routine now. How many times? At least a dozen but time was different in his realm.

“Not long,” he said, continuing to stare out the window.   I looked at his figure illuminated by the sharp morning light. He was a pretty (“handsome” I heard him think!) man, broad in the shoulders, his back narrowing down to strong buttocks. Wearing the usual shirt of gentlemen and farmers, a heavy white linen cut full at the sleeves, his waistcoat was sleeveless, made of dark plum colored wool, and reached to his hips. The breeches were cut from heavy twill and his boots were brown leather, scuffed about the ankles. He had walked in deep mud somewhere. His boots were covered with muck

“Get up, I want to do something different today.” Ah, this was a change; he usually wanted to play around in the morning.

“Important things first.” He finally turned from the window, hands on his hips, and looked at me with dour expression.

“Van Doren down the road has a litter of pups. Daniel said they’re old enough to take from the bitch. I want the whole litter. I’ll train them as gun dogs and hunt them next fall”.

Oh God, he probably will want to stable them here where it’s warm…

“My guess is you haven’t been paying attention. This house is haunted,” he said softly, his eyes narrowing to slits.

“What do you mean, ‘haunted’?” I shivered though the bed was quite warm.

“Those dogs will be flesh and blood, as you are, but invisible. No one would feed them.”

“So, I could go downstairs to Daniel and Anna and they wouldn’t see me?”

“Hell, I could stick you on the end of my –“

“Garrett!”

“– and walk around the house, and they still wouldn’t notice.   They may wonder why John Thomas was saluting the wind, but you would be air.”

I had to laugh.   He had a way of describing things. Vulgar, but comical.

“What time is it, Garrett?” I yawned and stretched my arms over my head, not wanting to move from the warmth of the bed.

“Time you get your butt up and come with me.” He went to the wardrobe and started tossing clothes.   Out came some petticoats, woolen stockings and a heavy linen chemise. He rummaged around the hooks and drew out a green woolen dress.

“Can I use the chamber pot first, please?” I slipped to the side of the bed, my feet cold from the draughts on the floor.

“Do you need any help with that?”

“I need you to leave the room so I can get dressed.”

“Won’t happen. I happen to like seeing you struggle into your clothes. Arouses me.”

“Everything arouses you, Devil.”

He grinned, his foul lust a tease and a torment. I did not dally, knowing he would not leave me in peace for long.

The clothes were thrown on the table by the fire. “Come here, be my angel and let me dress you.” He was sitting there with his legs spread.

“Are you a crazy man? I can very well do it myself.” He had some nerve.

“Have it your way.” He snapped his fingers and my nightgown fell to the floor. I was naked, the room cold, and he still a damn devil!

“Garrett! Stop screwing around! I’m freezing.” It was one thing to be naked by candlelight, another to be standing in the sharp eastern glare of early morning. This type of light magnifies all imperfections. I heard him mumble something….

“Love casts a glamour on things.” His words surprised me, for they were tender and human.

“Put you leg up on my knee and I’ll pull your stocking up.” I balanced myself on one leg, and put an arm on his shoulder. I could smell the sharp smell of brimstone.

“Very funny. Now, the other one.” He couldn’t resist running his hand up my inner thigh. I slapped his hand and jumped back.

He held out the heavy linen shift, and pulled it over my head and opened two petticoats for me to step into.

Oh, he was quite a demon this morning, with his half-hearted attempt to pinch my nipples, but he did get me dressed. He seemed to know his way around the hooking and lacing of tapes, and all were in place. I wondered what shoes to wear.

“Oh…must not forget these.” From behind his back he drew a big pair of Dutch wooden shoes. He placed them at my feet. I stared at them and started to laugh.

“You write about Dutch farms and farmers, yet you don’t know the muck they produce. Guess women writers from your century float over the shit. We’ll probably cross over a couple of pigsties in the going.”

Lovely. Just what I wanted to do with my morning.

“You’ll enjoy the fresh air. I want those dogs, so let’s get going. It’ll give you something real to write in your book.”

He walked to the door, and I gingerly shuffled after him. He muttered a low curse, and picked me up over his shoulder like a sack of flour. A wooden shoe fell off my foot and tumbled down the stairs, sounding like thunder as it bounced to the hall floor.   He dropped me on my feet and led me to the front steps.   A black rig and a blacker horse were standing outside. Of course! A black horse, something a devil would ride.

“Would you be quiet? The horse might have feelings on the matter.”

I laughed at him. He was entertaining this morning.

He helped me into the rig, walked to the head of the horse and whispered to him. He sprung into the seat, grabbed up the reins, the horse trotted to the main road, turned left and moved out smartly on the highroad.

I held onto my bonnet, which fell back with each jounce of the rig. The horse seemed to skim over the dirt, getting faster and faster.

“You really want those dogs!” I started laughing.

My Demon grinned at me as he shook the reins, and the horse fairly flew down the road.

The air was fresh and brisk for it was early winter. The fields were dun-colored but the cloudless sky was a crisp blue.   I could see trails of smoke rising from distant houses across the far hills. At least the scenery looked normal with cows huddled under trees and along fences. I thought of a piece of Handel I had heard the night before.   Written for harpsichord, last night played on piano. The rhythm of the music mimicked the fast trotting of the black horse. Suddenly I was hearing the music! I looked over at Garrett and saw him smile. The black leather of the rig surrounding us was our stereo and the horse’s speed matched the tempo of the music. Ah! A good piece of magic!

We traveled for a mile when the horse turned to the left. Down a short lane was a large, white house. Behind it were red barns. . Garrett stopped the rig and helped me down in the cumbersome shoes. He straddled the rig right over the mud and I looked at him with a grimace. My shoes sank almost to the ankles. He grinned and led us to the back of the house near the barns.

“Van Doren!” Garrett shouted. “I’m here to see those dogs.”

A clang like a bell rang out, but it only was a piece of metal being dropped. It bounced around for a bit.   A rotund Dutch man came walking out the dark passageway his eyes blinking in the bright sunlight.

“Ah, young Cortelyou! Goedenmorgen to you!” He wiped his hands on his trousers as he came toward us. “So you here to purchase my pups? Well, there’s others hearing of this fine litter, so it’s goot you come when you do.”

The joy of exchange among countrymen was both in the bargaining,- and the coin. I was raised in the Dutch countryside of New Jersey. I had seen this before.

Van Doren looked to be in his seventies. He was a hale and hearty man, with a halo of white hair. He had a full, white beard, bright blue eyes and a red nose that said he liked his ale too much.

“This is my Aunt Sophie from upcountry, Abraham. She’s visiting Catherine for a month.” His Aunt! Do I appear that much older? Well, at least I wasn’t a ghost to van Doren.   He gave a slight nod and led us into the barn.

“There’s four pups, but one of them’s a runt. All livers, with white chests. They’ll be about 2 months out, I believe. You wanting the whole litter?”

“I would, first I see them.” It seemed men talk differently to each other.   Sharp, short sentences as if they were fearful of too many words.

“Dam’s my Lilly, and not a finer dog in the township. The sire is Rumble from over Vieght’s way.”

“How did she take to Rumble? He’s a brute of a dog, too tall in the withers for a spaniel.”

“Aye, these are big water spaniels, all except for that runt, which probably won’t live. I should bash her head in. The others will benefit.”

Van Doren fell silent.   “So, you thinking of breeding your own pack here?

“When I see them, Abraham.

Abraham walked to the back of the barn, and in a dark stall, a bitch lay in a corner, her pups in the straw.

“Hush, Lilly, some one to see you.” Lilly was a thin hound, small for a water spaniel. Three of the pups were large. The fourth lay next to her, hopefully asleep.

Abraham van Doren, a farmer and used to all sorts of death, picked up the runt by the back feet and shook it to see if it breathed. I uttered a cry and rushed toward his hands.

“Give her to me! Don’t shake her like that.” The Dutchman almost dropped the pup in surprise, but handed her over. It was now awake and I held her to my breast, warming her with my cloak. I looked defiantly at Garrett and saw him suppress a smile.

“Abraham…I’ll take all the pups, and if you throw in the runt for my Auntie here, I’ll give you a shilling more.”

They settled on a price for the dogs. Picking up an old basket, Abraham van Doren dropped the pups in.   Lilly whined and struggled to her feet.

“Quiet now girl.” His voice was kindly. “You’ll get some meat with your porridge tonight.”

We left the dim barn, and reentered the sunlight. My eyes blinked and finally adjusted. A few more minutes with Abraham van Doren, and I mounted the step to the rig.

Garrett placed the basket at my feet and taking the reins from the post, turned the black horse homeward.

“So…I hear I’m your ‘Auntie’? Does incest play into this story?” I looked at his profile, and saw him smiling.

“I told you about the glamour. Convenient part of magic, that trick. Can make people see whatever you want.”

“Oh.” I couldn’t resist asking him. “And how did I look to Abraham van Doren?”

“Oh, old enough to throw off any scent of scandal. About Catherine’s age.”

“With all the wrinkles and fallen- in gums?”

“Yep…and bald under your cap and bonnet.” He was laughing now, and turned his wicked eyes on me.

“Thanks a lot, Demon,” I said sharply. “Now you can read my thoughts and alter my appearance? Is there anything you can’t do to me?”

“I told you when I first saw you, in this story I am pulling the strings. You write the book, my good little ‘Auntie’, and I direct the play.”

He gave a short laugh and turned silent for a moment. “I can make you do anything I want… except one thing.”

“And quickly tell me what that is!” I said, laughing.

Looking ahead at the road, he said softly, “I can’t make you love me.”

My heart flipped in my chest, and my eyes misted over.

Ah, Garrett,  sweet Demon.   I am glad you aren’t looking.   My face would betray me. I would be totally lost.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 3

February 9, 2016

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Chapter 3

 

Stretching like a cat, I awoke slowly. Suddenly I smelled the strong scent of wood smoke and bounced upright in bed. Looking around, I saw the fireplace and realized where I was. Damn, it was happening again! The Demon was playing fast and loose with my molecules, zapping me from my own comfortable bed and century. How in hell does he do this? Hah! Like he would tell me, but at least this time I wasn’t sick to my stomach.

The Demon had a name, Garrett Cortelyou. Cocksure of his charms, arrogance fed into seduction and he was a danger to my decorum and decency. Compounding the situation he was devilishly attractive and exuded an unearthly charisma.   He was master of a particular brand of sexual magic and his appetite knew no bounds.   He delighted in corrupting me, shocking me with his…. techniques. I would call him a libertine. He had little concern I was married and I forgot I was when he was near. There was a certain charm in his humor and he was an entertaining devil. Sexual encounters with him were addictive and probably dangerous. But this could not continue – I was losing control of myself. What kind of world had he pulled me into? Why was I here? This was insanity and since it happened over and over, I knew I was not dreaming.

I also knew somehow… answers to this present situation revolved around the novel. Perhaps if I kept writing until the end it would resolve.   I could return to my comfortable, boring life with my husband and my chickens and this excitement and unreality would disappear. I realized the book was a key, but which door did it open

And then this demon? Well, I really didn’t know that he was a demon, just guessing. I didn’t have anything else to call him and ‘demon’ fit for some reason. Perhaps it was the magic and the mind reading, but I needed a name for him. What part did he really play in the scope of things? He was a sharp-eyed critic and petards my writing with his presence and demands. I knew he wasn’t ‘real’, oh real enough in some physical sense, but there were other considerations. How did he materialize and why? And why me? Of course, he used the ready excuse of the book and how I thought I had brought him ‘into life’, but the power of words, my words, couldn’t upset the universe to such a remarkable extent. No, there were other forces at work, and I would just have to discover in time what they were.

Here I was, early morning by the light in the room, and again, in a strange bed.   I had to pee, and knew from past visits where the chamber closet was. It was cold in the room, the fire was dying down and I hurried across the floor. The sound of a pee in a china pot is quite intimate, as water with our modern toilets muffles sound. Leaving the closet, I stumbled over my feet in surprise. There, sitting in a chair, was the demon.

“I thought we agreed you would refer to me as your “Demon Lover”? Garrett was eating a large slice of currant bread, the Dutch escapes me–

“Kretenbroad”, he said, dusting the crumbs off his chest as he chewed.

“Thank you, the word eluded me.”

“Anna makes good kretenbroad.. I think I will marry her.” He grinned and snapped his fingers, making a dish of tea appear on the table.

“You could do worse.” According to the first novel, Anna was the spinster niece of Daniel Griggs, the manservant who lived in this house for thirty years.

“Much more. Get your facts straight.”

“Garrett, what gives you leave to invade my bedroom at all times of the morning?”

Still chewing his bread, he gave a devilish grin. “I like celestial music in the morning.”

“What are you talking about? What music?”

“The music a woman makes when she pees in a chamber pot,” he said, still grinning.

“You are a nasty demon.” I was getting impatient with his antics and he took great liberties.

“Come drink your tea before it cools”. He dusted the crumbs to the floor.

I sat down in my nightgown, and picked up the ‘dish’ of tea. It really was a bowl with two handles, but every time he conjured up tea, it was good.

“Of course it is, I made and stirred it with my –“

“Don’t tell me, Garrett, I won’t be able to drink.” He really was vile this morning, and his visits were always backed with a purpose.

“Always backed”? That’s more garbled English. Write it in Dutch.”

“All right, Demon!” He was so irritating. “”Why are you here?” (Better I ask why I am here…) I was struggling with the book, trying to finish and every time we were together in this room, there was a setback in my writing, or a detour, or something strange and distracting.

“Oh? You see me as a distraction? I can be more dangerous than that.” He burped loudly. He had the table manners of a goat.

“Bahhh”. He grinned crazily, and for whatever reason he appeared this morning, I was heading for trouble.

“First, give me your hand, and be more tender towards me.” He extended his hand across the table, and gave me a sweet smile. For some reason, he did this each visit. I never trusted him, especially when he was extending his paw.

“Hand.” He nodded to himself. “And call me ‘Lover’. I miss that.”

I had to smile. He was such an insecure devil.

“I am not. It’s just that you are a bad writer.” He lunged across the table and grabbed my hand. “And still not so fast on your feet.”

A current flowed from his hand to mine. I was knocked back at the intensity of his touch. He had done this before but something was different today.

“You fed me. See, Bess, I was starving, and your cooking restored my strength.” He grinned and squeezed my hand. “Anna made me stronger, too…and I thank thee for her.”   Anna was a good Dutch cook, apparently.

“I don’t think I want to fokken her, though.” He couldn’t resist. “Nope, don’t want to do that at all.”

He scowled. “I read what you wrote…and again, you should stick to what you know.” He smiled, yanking my hand towards him.

“What in hell are you talking about?” He rubbed the front of his breeches, and leered.

“Sex?” Is that the word you can’t think of? You have to use sign language?”

“Ha…funny! Especially coming from a woman who obviously doesn’t know a thing about fellatio.”

I sat up, and thought back to what I wrote. “What was wrong with it?”

“See the sentence above the last.”

“Now you are going stupid. Of course I know about it, I’ve been married for years.”

“Then your husband doesn’t know much.”   He had me there.

“I will teach you something useful –the devil leered again- and make you a better writer.” He grinned, and the current between us grew stronger. My hand felt like it was melting into his, the heat fusing our flesh together.

“That’s what good – (the devil burped) sex is supposed to feel like.”

Garrett was a cock-sure devil, (“damn right”) and most of his suggestions for the novel were on target. He had lived in those years, the early part of the 19th century, and knew the social customs of the period. I could only rely on my spotty research for these things

“Hold still. I will put something nice in your mouth, sweet woman.” Ah, God…his mind was always fixated on lust.

“It effects better parts of me too, but you keep your knees together too much. Ah, seduction of women writers is hard work.”

“You’ve used that line before, Garrett. Now, who is original?” My little joke didn’t please and he pulled me over the table and into his lap.

“Give your highwayman a kiss, sweet Bessie.” When he was in this mood, there was no denying the demon.

“Oh!” I said, sitting upright on his knee.   “That’s one of my favorite poems. “The Highwayman”. I thought it the most romantic poem I ever read when I was twelve.”

“Doesn’t turn out too nice, both of them dead. That musket beneath her breast….” He shook his head and burped again. His stomach at least was all too human.

I put my head on his shoulder. He could be a sweet devil, and evoked tender emotions from me he didn’t deserve. He thought it a good time, when I was docile in his arms (“won’t last long”- I heard him think!) to pick me up and walk to the bed. He lay down besides me, and placed my head on his shoulder.

“You are rather sweet this morning, Devil.” His temper was usually like mercury. I think we were coming to terms.

“Well, we have, my darling. I have chased away all the competition and you have me at ball and cock.”

I had to laugh. I was still married, and older by decades.

“I was born in 1790. Beat that.” (I was to find this was a lie…another one.)

I thought I was robbing the cradle. He was such a beautiful creation, but still, just a figment of my imagination.

“You really need to expand your horizons, sweeting. There are so many parts to the universe and you just occupy one. You limit yourself by what you believe.”

I never accepted the stories of ghosts, haunts or spirits, but lying by his side, I was beginning to wonder. He appeared flesh and blood enough this morning, especially as he grabbed my hand and placed it on his half mast cock swelling under his breeches.

“Good. You learn something. Am I real enough for you now?   Let me show you something else.” He passed his hand quickly from the top to the bottom of my nightgown and it melted away like smoke.

“Ah! The first time I have seen you naked. You wear too many clothes. Let’s see what I’ve caught.” He pushed my hair back from my breast, and stroked a nipple.

“You have pink nipples…very pretty! And perhaps you are pink elsewhere?” I lay in his arms and blushed at his words. He took my hand and placed it in his shirt, next to his heart. He always wore a heavy linen shirt and I had become enchanted by his smell of wood smoke and probably brimstone

“Very funny. Now unclench those knees and let me make love to you.”

“Wasn’t it you who told me the portal to a woman’s soul is her mouth?” I thought to distract his limited mind.

He turned on his side and smiled tenderly down at me. “You use my own words against me? You show courage. You also forget I am a nasty demon.”

“Not so nasty. Getting a bit better.” His behavior had turned my mood from irritation to tolerance. There really was no way around things, if I wanted answers. I had to play a role. Conditions were changing between us and he was softening with a gentler touch.

“I have no softness, and don’t bet on it.” He stroked my thigh and squeezed a breast. I tried the same trick on his clothes, passing my hand down the length of him, and he laughed.

“It will take many decades, sweetheart, for you to learn that trick.”

“Even levitating a chamber pot?”

“You would have more luck just throwing it.”

He was a handful, this Demon.   It was hard work keeping stride with his wit. He could have written a much better book, but then again, he likes best being the sharp-eyed critic.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2007-2015

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter Two

February 8, 2016

Night Fog 2

Warning: sexual content

 CHAPTER TWO

“What the hell?”

Opening my eyes, I struggled to focus. Embers had popped from the fireplace sounding like the Fourth of July! One rolled to where I was sitting and stopped at my bare foot. Blinking, I snatched my foot back and took a deep breath. If materializing this way was supposed to unsettle me, it was working. My hands shook, my heart raced; I felt nauseous.    At someone’s command I appeared in this room.

The wind raced around the corners of the house, and sleet scratched at the window panes. I was glad for the good fire before me. I was chilly now dressed in a linen morning gown, nothing more than a wrapper over a chemise. I had a mob cap on my head, falling over my eyes, but at least I was without stays. I could breathe again

Placed on the tea table were two sheets of stiff paper and a lead pencil.   I stared into the flames leaping about the logs, lost in thought, the sway of the fire hypnotic, the sound of the sleet beating a tattoo on the windows

Was he a demon? Well, he wasn’t the Devil, or at least he didn’t seem to be. I had no idea what he was, and my knowledge of anything supernatural was poor to non-existent. But he shouldn’t exist, not if I was sane and the universe, too. What was he? My imagination couldn’t stretch that far to account for all these magical things, like the tankards appearing with a snap of his fingers, or that he had materialized out of the pages of an unfinished book. But perhaps these things were small beer compared to what was possible? In any case, I was caught between two worlds, my comfortable if mundane life with a husband and this apparent ‘rip in the fabric of the universe.’

Since I had been thrown back into this book, perhaps I could write a couple of lines. I might as well use the time given, and writing would calm my nerves. The chapter’s weather on my page imitated the weather outside my window, both gray and threatening days. I would write in a snowstorm, the two characters not able to travel, stuck in the countryside. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a small movement and glancing up, there sat the demon, Garrett Cortelyou.   I jumped and squeaked out a scream, covering my mouth with my hands.

“Goedemorgen to you, and I am still the Devil, I see.” He sat across the room, unshaven this morning. His appearing like that and his confounded ability to read thoughts rattled me.

“I am thinking of growing a beard, just to bedevil you.” He grinned, sitting back in his seat, stretched his legs and propped one boot upon the other.

“Why would I care if you had a beard? I said sourly.

“It would give a turn to seducing you, something new and untried.” He grinned even broader and winked at me. “Ah, think how good it will feel with my beard brushing the soft skin in the middle of your back.   I can think of other places to bury it just as fine.”

“Ah, stop it, Demon child. What business brings you here this morning except to taunt me.”

“You should form that as a question, not a statement. Again, with the bad English.”

“It is not a question of whether you will taunt me, but a fact. I already felt your sting.”

Stretching his arm out, he lay it palm up on the table, his hand out for mine. A gentle gesture. I had no reason to trust him.

“Yes, a gentle gesture, and one that I would like to follow up with more ‘stinging’ of your secret parts, my sweeting.” His eyes were languid and narrowed, and left no question where his mind was this morning.

I reddened at his silly words, in spite of my determination to ignore.

“Oh, I don’t think you are at all displeased, sweetheart. I think you are attempting to play a game where your feet do not touch bottom.”

“Tell me, then. How does this work? Does anybody in my life notice I’m gone? I don’t remember anything when I’m home. It seems the time with you is all a dream. What happens here? How do you do these things?”   I looked around the room, wondering if I came down the chimney.

Garrett smiled. “Time is different in each dimension. A month here is an hour there.”

“Then my husband doesn’t know I’m gone?”

He snorted, a strange sort of laugh. “I think you could be gone a week, your time darling, and that husband of yours wouldn’t notice.”

I didn’t want to humor him, and suppressed my own laughter. He was probably right. My husband was addicted to television and we led almost separate lives in our marriage. Little held us together, except our dogs and cats, and a comfortable routine. But it was a long, comfortable marriage.

“How do you bring me here?”

“Why should I tell you?”

“For Christ’s sake! You kidnap me from my bed and bring me to yours. There are laws against such behavior.”

He started to laugh. “If I told you, it would ruin all the fun.”

“For you? I have a marriage to hold together and you are interfering in my life.”

His smile disappeared. “You are quite the little hypocrite. You put a set of horns on his head fast enough and now you complain? I seem to remember you enjoying the screwing you got. Perhaps I should give some lessons to your husband.”

“You are a bastard! He’s a fine and sweet man!”

I rose from my seat in my anger. He did not seem impressed.   He barely changed his posture, only crossed his arms over his chest. If he thought I would hit him, he didn’t seem to care.

“Yet here you are with me. And curious as to what comes next. That depends on controlling your temper. You act like a spoilt child.”

Suddenly I felt drained. This show of anger was not getting me anywhere. He was stubborn, with his own set of rules. And he was right. I had set the horns upon my own husband’s head and enjoyed the screwing that set them there. Slowly I sat down in my chair, my energy gone. I didn’t have a moral leg to stand on.

“Woman.”   I heard his voice through my tears. “I promise you your dear husband will not notice you gone. He will think you outside feeding your chickens or getting his ale from that cold cabinet.”

I started to laugh through my tears.   He could be a fly on the wall or a ghost haunting my house!

“Sixteen years gives me the authority to do so,” he said, reading my thoughts.

Again he stretched out his hand to me across the table. It was a tender gesture, but I was having none of it. He sat back and looked at me solemnly.

“Take the mobcap off, please. It reminds me of Aunt Catherine in bed, and that’s a cock- crushing sight if I ever saw one.

I took the cap off. It was slipping over my eyes. Aunt Catherine was a character in the book in her eighties, almost bald and toothless.

“What have you done to your hair?” He looked intently at my now caramel streaked locks.

“Oh, summer is rough, being out in the garden, and the southern sun, you know….” My words trailed off. What in hell was I doing here? Talking to a doppelganger like he was a friend. “I put in caramel streaks.”

“Why would you put candy in your hair?” Garrett’s eyes narrowed in puzzlement. “Does it taste sweet?”

“Oh Lord, deliver me from such fools! No, Garrett, it is just a color that women put– Oh, never mind.”

“Hey day! What’s this?” He spied my foot with the cherry red nail polish peeking from my under my gown. He reached down and grabbed my foot, almost yanking me off my seat.

“Demon! Remember I’m attached to that foot!” He had it in his lap, where he stared at my toes.

“It’s like cherries in milk, your foot!” Looking up at me, he laughed. “From your hair to your feet, I could eat you up.”   He looked like he was just capable of doing so. I snatched my foot back from his lap.

“You are here for a reason, now state it and leave.” I felt foolish sitting in my bathrobe talking to something not real.

“Ah, my pretty author, do I need a reason to visit you in my house? Remember that you are here at my calling.   Let’s start with a name. What am I to call you?”

Oh God…I had not thought of this! After all these years, one would think he would know by now. I had three Christian names and tried not to think of them. I couldn’t fool the damn devil.

“Well, Sarah is taken now. And a bit morbid for me to call you that. Remember? Sarah is killed by your friend Obadiah.   I’ll call you Bess from your middle name. I like the sound of that. Nice and docile.”   He threw back his head and laughed.

I well remember what I write, you stupid devil. Why was he here this morning? Or more to the point, what in hell was I doing here in this bedroom? 

“I came to apologize,” he said, offhandedly.   “I was a bit rough, not that you didn’t deserve it.   I could have been a lot rougher, but then, you wouldn’t have been so nice to me.” The loathsome devil grinned.

“Ah, still with the names….and you were nice to me. Even if you resisted at first.”

“Garrett that was rape. You know that.” I wondered if he could feel remorse. I didn’t know how much was human, how much devil.

“Your own fault, Bess. You refused to kiss me. Had you been sweeter to me you’d have no problem at all. Next time allow me your mouth, it will go better for you.” He paused. “I don’t know how you could call that rape, sweetheart. You fell in my arms fast enough.”

My mouth was open with shock. What an arrogant man…demon! But he was right. I had tried hard not to respond to his ardor, but my body was not of the same resolve. Blushing, I tried not to remember his lovemaking.

My stomach was rumbling, and snapping his fingers, a tray of tea appeared on the table between us.

“Would you like a cup?” I was trying to focus on something else, yet my hands shook.

“Yes, make it sweet, my love.” He turned his chair to face me. Looking over his cup, he caught my eyes. He was such a silly demon and appeared right at home in this bedroom.

“Before, it was ‘demon lover’. I liked that best. Could you please say it again?”

I smiled, touched at his vanity. ‘Yes, demon lover, and all attendant titles that go with it.” Oh God! What am I saying? Where is my sense? Where is my sanity?

“Ah, that’s better. Tell me, Bess, what happens at the end of the book?”

“You mean you don’t know?” I was surprised, I thought he would. I hadn’t written it down, but knew the outcome for a number of years. I thought he was a mind reader.

“No, I don’t know. I have tried to read your confounded writing, but until you typeset it into a book, I can’t. Tell me- do I survive Obadiah? Do I get the girl? What is my fate?”

“Do I look like a gypsy woman? Why should I tell you anything. I think that is the only power I have.”   I sat back and looked at him smugly. Two could play at his nasty game.

“Oh, my darling woman, you have more power over me and John Thomas down here than you know.   And speaking of cocks, who are these other men in your life?   Does your husband know of the horns you are planning to put on his head?”   He looked at me, his dark eyes flashing. I wondered suddenly if he ever had a soul.

“How would you know anything like that?”   I rose from my seat, again, angry and stupid. Before I could formulate an answer, he rose from his chair and yanked me to him, hurting my wrist.

“You are full of fun, with no idea of consequences,” he said almost hissing with anger, pulling me close to him.   “I would call you a cocktease, but you know what you are. You think your glib tongue will hold you from harm? It will lay you down for it. You are such a little fool.”

“You are hurting my wrist. Stop it!” My words were sharp and he dropped my arm. I stood there rubbing where his fingers now marked my skin.

He was angry about something. I could see that. Shocked by the violence of his words and hurting my wrist, I was growing afraid and tried to placate him with sweet words

“Garrett….I created you from the desire of my loins.   No mortal can compete with you. You are a subject of jealously among men, my demon friend”.

“Ah, not demon lover?” He was not so easily put off, but I could see he was trying to control his temper.

“Garrett, as a character, created by me, you are perfection. There is nothing lacking in you. I have seen to that. No human can hold a candle to yo

I wondered why I would say such a thing! Fear had to be the larger part of my thinking. He had the strength and violence of manhood, compounded by magic. I needed to be more cautious. He had the power of a demon, after all.

“Your words are not so original, but will do for now.”

He made a mocking bow, ending the argument.   Placing his hands on his hips, he looked at me with a bemused expression on his face.

“I want some changes here. I am being starved by you. And your thoughtless writing.”

“What do you mean, sweet Demon?”

“Ah, nice and docile, Bess! I like that. Do it more.” He laughed but it wasn’t a cheerful sound.

“For a week I have fed on bread, cheese, and ale. Jennie doesn’t cook for me, nor does Daniel. I am hungry and that doesn’t make my temper better. I want some real food written into this damn novel. I want some Zuur Tong, Head Cheese, some Gehakt, a nice Hutspot a couple of times a week. I want you to bake me some kretenbroad.”

“All right, Garrett…translate those words.”   Zuur Tong turned out to be Spiced Tongue, Gehakt was sausage, Hutspot was a one-dish meal of beef, mashed potatoes, onions and carrots and Kretenbroad was currant bread.

I couldn’t resist. “Why don’t you snap your fingers?”

He grimaced. “I can’t seem to manage more than a tankard of ale, some spirits and a tray of tea. I can levitate a chamber pot, but you don’t want to see that trick.”

I laughed and told him that I would write in Daniel, the caretaker, and bring in his niece, Anna, to cook. These were characters from the original book I had put aside for some other life. Somehow magic was needed here for this to happen, but that was the demon’s part.

“Good. Settled. Now come here, lambkin. He led me to the window that looked down to the river. Placing me in front of him, he put his arm around my shoulder, holding me.

“I don’t like sitting in that library all day, I want you to write me out there hunting. I want to bag more ducks. There are geese on the river bank for the taking, can you see them from here?” He stretched a long arm towards the general direction of the river, but I saw nothing in the gray, morning light

“Maybe a deer or two. I need some time with my guns, and I want to get a pack of dogs. Agreed? And about your Dutch.”

He was full of demands today. I had to smile. “What about my Dutch?”

“It is rotten. You write what you don’t know. Again. You should ask. Like the word ‘fokken’….It doesn’t mean to ‘plow’…it means to copulate. Simple, isn’t it? Now, let us get fokken.” He tried to steer me towards the bed, but I twisted out of his reach.

“Stop, Garrett. You have the seduction manners of a goat.” He stopped in surprise in the middle of the room.

“I am unworthy of your cherry, plucked though it’s been. Forgive my manners, my lady.” He gave a low and elegant bow, and coming up, picked me up over his shoulder. He threw me hard on the bed and jumped on top of me.

“I can’t breathe, you monster! Get off me, give me some air!”

“I might, if you willingly give me your mouth this time.”

“And what do you intend to stuff in it? I know you, Garrett. I may have been oblique about your ‘lesson plan’ in the novel, but I think I know something of your appetites.”

He rolled off of me, laughing. Turning back, he propped himself on an elbow, stroking the hair from my face.

“You and I, we understand each other, no? Perhaps I don’t have to read every thought of yours. But it is fun, and it gives me an advantage.”

“It’s an unfair advantage, Garrett–and you know it. I have little independence when you do so.”

“Ah, but that is some of the delights of being a woman. You submit to me, in all things, and I will fill your–mouth with sweet things. I will stroke your limbs and warm your belly, and you will grow to desire me.”

“Now who sounds like a second-rate novel?”

“And what kind of novel are you writing? Do you even know?”

“I don’t, just something decent. Men are critical- and my girlfriends are even more so.”

“What do the men think?” He asked, distracting himself, twisting a lock of my hair.

“I thought that you would know this? Don’t you read my emails?”

“No, I don’t. Not yet. Isn’t there a password involved?”

“Why would a demon need a password? Aren’t you all seeing?”

“I’m trying, my sweet woman, to seduce you. I don’t give a damn about your letters. I want to know the competition.   I want to know about these men who want to stick their tongues down your throat.   Why are you talking to them about the novel? Why mention us?

“I didn’t know that there was ‘us,’ Garrett. You forget you are all fantasy. All in my mind, and all in the book.” I snapped my fingers; he was still there.

“I think I am all between your legs right now.” He stroked me through my gown.

“You want to kiss me, why don’t you start with my mouth?”

“You can delay all you want, you sweet witch. I have eternity here.”

“Then this is Hell? Purgatory? Something like Dante’s Inferno?

Putting his head next to my neck, he breathed gently on my skin.   The warmth of his breath was arousing.

“Would you stop trying to figure it out and just let it be? Look, I will lie quietly with you, and we can coo together. I promise you will rise as virginal as you are now. Just go cook me something in the kitchen. I am fading fast.”

I promised to feed him but he didn’t keep his. The afternoon was a quiet one, as he slept on my breast. I had a chance to observe this demon lover closely, and he was as beautiful in life as anything I could put on the page. He would be happy with that, but of course, he already knows what I think.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2007-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Devil’s Revenge”, a novel…Chapter One.

February 5, 2016

Watts_George_Frederic_Orpheus_And_Eurydice[1]

 

WARNING: Sexual content, scenes.  If you are offended by this, don’t read.  Frankly, I understand.  I am offended by misogyny and Pentecostals. 

I started this erotic novel almost ten years ago.  It was only my second novel.  I left off writing it when I started other works.  Recently I came back and reread what I had written so long ago.  It was fresh and funny, and some of the original characters came from the first novel (Heart of the Maze).  That novel was boring and too long, meandering around.  I had fallen in love with some of the characters and didn’t want to kill them off, as the novel demanded.  (Novel writers will recognize this easily enough.)  So I made some of them Devils and just let the characters write this one.  The narrator is not a devil nor demon.  Just a writer who wakes up one morning in an alternative universe.  Happens

Trusting in your characters  makes it easier for an author:  They  tend to do the heavy lifting.  They circle your computer and whisper their lines.  You just type.

I have previously posted random chapters but was encouraged by other writers to begin from the beginning.  We will see.  The people I respect the most and wouldn’t want to offend are now all dead, so the rest of you will just have to take your chances.  Tastes vary, but that is the way of the world.

However, I want to express my sincere gratitude to a couple of writers who stuck with me for many years and encouraged me to trust my own imagination and give it voice.

Bill Penrose, Nick Nicholson, Steve Isaak, and Liras.  These excellent and generous writers, now dear friends, have made learning my craft a lot easier.

Lady Nyo

 

DEVIL’S REVENGE

 

Prologue

I am about to tell a strange tale. Not really a tale, because a tale smacks of fiction. This in any case was not fiction. I felt the full effects of its turnings. And it’s not over. I just have to tread water because each time I open my eyes, after a fitful night’s sleep, I am again locked in a world not of my making.

Well, part of my making, but even my lurid imagination pales with what I have experienced.

Sixteen years ago I wrote a too-long novel, set in the 1820’s. The characters had names from the Dutch families I knew while growing up. Everything was fiction, except the landscape, the characters long dead, figments of my imagination, creation of a writer. Never did I expect some of them to leap out of the pages of that unfinished book and change the course of my life.

I feel I have dropped down a rabbit hole, or flown to some strange alien universe. Perhaps I am mad. In any case, events are spiraling out of control, beyond my control, and now?

I have none. I have given up my will to fate, destiny and I don’t even know what that means anymore.

Bear with me, reader. Understand what I write, what you read– exists.

Bess McShane

 

 

Chapter One

 

One morning I sat upright in bed, gasping in terror. The light was dim, hard to see. There was a fireplace with a low burning fire. An ember must have exploded. There could be no other answer for the sudden noise. Asleep, it sounded like gunshot.

My eyes adjusted and I looked around. An ember exploded? Where the hell was I? My heart pounded and a sickness rose to my throat. Suddenly I knew where I was. Many years ago I had written a novel, still unfinished, and now I was in the bedroom carefully constructed in the novel. But perhaps I was just dreaming?

I felt a sharp constriction around my ribcage and tried to take a deep breath. I was wearing some kind of corset, laced tightly over a slip. No wonder I couldn’t breathe. At least this made some physical sense.

I tried to take deep breaths to get my bearings but no amount of air would calm me.

What had happened from the time I went to sleep in my own bed next to my snoring husband? How did I make it to this bed?

The constriction around my chest did not dull me to the sudden pressure of my bladder. There was a closet in the corner and I knew inside that closet was a chamber pot encased in a stool. I had written that detail into the book and now very glad of it.

Slipping out of the high bed, I padded across the wood floor. It was a strange thing to pee in a chamber pot. Everything was so quiet, even the birds outside still asleep, but the noise of water hitting china was too loud for the morning. It made me self-conscious, even though I thought I was still dreaming. I had to be.

I came from the closet and sat down before the fireplace. The fire suddenly flared and I jumped in surprise. It was almost as if an invisible hand fed the fire. At least it would warm up this cold room. A cup of tea sat on the table, still hot. It was dark outside the window but steam from the tea rose in the air. I was almost afraid to touch it, my mouth dry from fear. There, a sip, and it was just tea.

A dresser stood across the room from the bed, with a small mirror on the wall above. The image appeared to be me, my hair the usual color, my skin the same shade. Yes, me, but I pinched myself, just to see if I was still dreaming. If pain were any indication of my present state, I was awake.   There was a yellow wool dress, thrown carelessly over the back of a chair. A pair of bloomers on the seat. Crotch less, they opened from the front to back. I giggled, a bit hysterically. Like Alice, I had dropped down a rabbit hole.

Nothing now seemed real

Even with the flare up of the fire, the room was not warm. I needed to get dressed. I needed to get my bearings. Stepping into the gown I pulled it up to my shoulders. It hooked in the front of the bodice. I pulled on stockings and garters. They were a lovely silk, soft and delicate, and came to the tops of my thighs. The garters could be tied anywhere, so I tied them above the knees, rolling down the tops of the stockings, hoping they would stay. I held up the split bloomers and tried to determine the front from the back. They could be useful when you wanted to pee. The shoes were another surprise. Made neither a left nor a right, with a thin leather sole and low wooden heel, they tied across my ankles with ribbons. There was a blue shawl, of fine wool, at the bottom of the pile.

Now at least dressed and warmer, I could explore my surroundings. The room was not large, but had a dark beamed ceiling above. There were no paintings or prints on the walls, but above the fireplace, was a shotgun. I recognized it as an old breech loader.

Two long windows looked out upon a dull morning. The wind blew a little sleet against the windows and I shivered. The glazing had fallen away and cold air seeped in. It was still rather dark outside, and except for the blurred outline of trees, I couldn’t see much of the landscape.

Pulling the shawl tighter around my shoulders, I was still cold, or perhaps it was shock. I was not used to awakening in a strange bed, even one born of my own imagination

I still doubted I was lucid, and thought this some weird dream-state. Given a bit more time, I would awaken. But if this were a dream, it was a strange one. I was not given easily to hysterics, but short of hurling myself through the window, there was little I could to do. I would just have to be patient with this ‘dream’ until I  woke.

Trying a door in the middle of a wall, it opened into another bedroom, and inside was a large poster bed, a wardrobe, and another shotgun in the corner by the bed. This must be a man’s room. I had no clue why, accept for that evil-looking shotgun. There was nothing feminine in the room at all, though. I turned back to my bedroom and tried the other door. Outside was a wide hall, leading to the top of a staircase.

I stood at the top of the steps, listening for voices or some sound. The house seemed deserted. I could hear nothing of a normal household. Carefully, trying not to slip in these strange shoes I descended the staircase and walked through a wide first floor hall. There were a couple of rooms but there were no people and no lit fireplaces. The whole house was bitterly cold. It seems this house held no life at all.

My footsteps sounded loud on the wooden floors of the hall, though I tried not to make a clatter. There was a closed door to the left and when I opened it,  a man  was sitting behind a desk.

Something about him seemed familiar. Then I knew who he was. It was a shock to realize I was looking at a character I had created for the novel sixteen years ago. I had named him Garrett Cortelyou.   He looked up, sat back and stared at me, quite rudely. Christ! This looked like trouble.

“Come in,” he said. “It is trouble.”

How did he seem to appear in the flesh? He was just paper and ink the last I thought of him. Can this creature read my thoughts?

“Of course I can. I can do more than that,” he said, scowling.

I fashioned Garrett Cortelyou from a number of sources, and, seeing him before me, I couldn’t help but be pleased. It is one thing to imagine, it is another to see the results. He was a tall man, broad of shoulder, with dark hair, rather long for the 1820’s, actually, now gathered into a ponytail, but I created him to be his own man. He proved to be a stubborn character, and not an easy birth. Clean shaven, he had dark eyes and regular features except for his nose. It had been broken and not set correctly.   He looked pissed off.

“Why are you so angry with me?”

“A year ago you closed your book and abandoned all of us. You told me to ‘cool my heels’. Am I not allowed my anger?”

“It was a metaphor, ‘cool your heels’.”

“I know what it was.”

I was surprised. I had enough of writing and needed time off. This actually happened sixteen years ago, but who was I to correct him? Why argue with something unreal? I put his intended, the character Jennie, in the library. I gave her a cup of tea and a good fire, and she had all the books in the world or at least in this library to read.

“You abandoned us all.

“Life got in the way, Garrett, I needed time to work things out.”

What am I saying? Why am I explaining my life to this creature? Am I insane?

“Come closer. Let me see you better.”

I entered the room and stood across the desk. He looked me over, his eyes running the length of me.   “You look unimpressive. I thought you would be older.”

“Why, did you expect me to be covered with wrinkles?”

One glance at his face and I should have held my tongue.

“You are quick with the words, madam. Let’s see how quick on your feet.”

Like a cat he came around the desk and grabbed me. He was strong enough to lift me like a stick of wood and throw me into another chair. I was shocked at the suddenness of his movement, but amazed he was real.

“You should be. You play with people too much.”

I looked at him standing before me, his hands on his hips, and fear crept up my spine

“You forget I created you.” My voice squeaked.

“And you forget, madam, anything is possible. I can command you as easily as you have me. You now are my puppet. Quite a turn around, don’t you think?”

“You wouldn’t have seen the light of day had I not thought of you!” What am I saying? I am talking to a ghost!

“Ah, you were bored and this scribbling occupied your time. Your night dreams went into all of us. Your poor husband should not have given you a pen.”

“I wrote on a computer, something you would not know.”

“I don’t care how you wrote. Right now, and until I release you, you’re under my thumb.”

“What do you want with me?” Suddenly, I was scared. My spit would not wet my mouth.

Garrett smiled, but it didn’t mount to his eyes. They remained cold. “I can smell your fear, little lady. Come give me a kiss.”

“You are a jackass. You act like an animal. Leave me alone.”

I tried to rise from my chair, but the anger on his face stopped me.

“Will you stop playing the virgin? It doesn’t fit you at all.”

I was beginning to panic. I had created this character, this man before me, and I knew something of his sexual appetites from the novel. I had created those sexual appetites but didn’t expect them to become an issue before me.

He laughed, apparently reading my thoughts. He must be a demon come to life, or I must be still asleep.

You created me? I’m from the slime. I’m a mixture of souls throughout time, with all the cocksure ways of manhood. You created something you can’t control, and now you’re afraid? You should have thought down the road, madam. You should be afraid. You think you know my appetites? You don’t know much, because you don’t know me. Not that way.   You haven’t the imagination to know what I can do. You are too ignorant of life. Here.”

He pulled me up to him, and grabbed one of my hands and placed it on the front of his breeches. He was hard enough.

“There. Is your curiosity satisfied? You knew some of me, but never enough. You have a poor imagination for a writer. We circled each other like cats all those years, but I played the gentleman. A boring and unnecessary role.”

My face was red. There was no denying I was curious. I wondered a bit what he would be like in the sack. Just daydreams, sitting at my desk. Faced with reality, fear was now trumping that consideration.

He pinned my arms behind my back with one hand. With the other he traced my cheek and neck with a finger, his eyes narrowed into slits.   He brought my face to his mouth and kissed me, at first softly – oh the deceiver!- then roughly, forcing my lips with his tongue. He cupped my breast and squeezed my nipple, rolling it between two fingers.   He kissed me hard, bending my head back, crushing me to him.

“There. How do you like being kissed by something you think you have made? Have I met your expectations?”

I caught my breath. “I gave you Jennie, you monster!

This was a rather stupid, but I didn’t have much of my wits after that kiss.

“And I thank you for her. She is a sweet little pastry, but I’m hungry. You look like you could feed me for a week.”

“Oh, let me go, you’re not real!”

He pushed me away and rubbed the front of his breeches. “Is this not real enough for you? Then we’ll go where I’ll show you what’s real.”

Grabbing my wrist, he pulled me out the room and up the staircase. I tripped on my shoes as he roughly jerked me up upwards. I was frightened, knowing that this couldn’t be a dream. It was more of a nightmare. The physicality of his behavior belied any dream.

He strode down the hall, pulling me behind him like a ragdoll and opened a door, He flung me into the room where I had awakened probably only an hour before.   With his back to the door, he locked it, pocketing the key. I ran to the other bedroom, intending to lock myself in, but he was quick. He threw me on the bed. Now, I was frightened. I was panting.

“’I was panting.’” See, I can read you like a book.” Throwing back his head, he laughed, howling like an animal, like a demon. My stomach flipped, and I cringed back on the pillows. He was more an animal and less a human.

He dragged a chair from a wall and sat facing me, one long leg propped up on the mattress.   If I tried to leap from the bed, I would jump right into his arms. He looked at me with half closed eyes, his head cocked to one side.

“Don’t you find it confusing to read Richardson’s “Pamela”, in the middle of writing seduction scenes? Rather you should read Fielding’s “Shamela”….better story, or rather, same story, not so tedious.”

What? How did he know this? How did he know what I read?  

What was I dealing with? Was this a ghost or a demon? The icy sweat I felt down my back wasn’t something I was imagining. I had to get control of this nightmare.

“I can snap my fingers and you will be gone,” I said desperately. I closed my eyes and snapped them.

He remained before me grinning, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, looking like a lunatic. “Try again.”

I snapped my fingers. Nothing.   The demon lover was still there.

“Ah…you called me ‘lover.’ Perhaps you won’t resist me so hard now.”

“I called you ‘demon lover’. You’re not hearing that first word.”

“You created me. It’s all in your calling.” He sat back and crossed his arms. He looked  relaxed and in control of the scene.

“That’s right…and I can uncreate you.”

“You already tried. This conversation is going nowhere. I need a drink. Seduction is hard work.”

He snapped his fingers, and a tankard appeared on the table behind him. “Oh, my apologies. One for you?”

“A small one, please.” I shivered. What had I just done?

“A small one it is.” A snap.   Another tankard appeared.

He got up and retrieved the two tankards and reached across the bed, and handed me my drink. I thought of throwing it in his face, and running from the room.

“How far do you think you would get?” I had forgotten his mind reading trick.

“Not far- just testing.

He laughed and drank deeply. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“We’ve been circling each other for years. Don’t you think it’s time we put an end to this charade? A little carnal knowledge would not be amiss. Besides, I already know you want me, have known it for years.” He picked up his tankard, his eyes glittering across the rim.

“You are a cocksure devil!” I would laugh at his presumption, but he was correct. I had created him from my own secret lust, and spared nothing in the doing.

Perhaps a different approach would give me answers and a hand over him.

“Explain to me, Demon, how you have access to me? You are nothing but some scribbles on paper, yet you appear flesh and blood enough now.”

I was more than curious, I was tumbling with fear and trying to regain my feet. I needed something to wake me up. I needed some logic here, some answers. I still believed I was mired in a nightmare.

He put down his tankard and grimaced. “Sometimes there’s a rip in the fabric of time and all hell breaks loose.   Dimensions warp and ley lines bulge. The usual workings of a universe gone mad.”

“So I’m here in another dimension?” From the 21st century to the 19th, quite a rip in the fabric, I think.

He grinned into his ale. “For as long as it suits me, and as long as you please me.

“What is it you want?” I looked at him, fearing the answer.

“First, I want to know what’s under those petticoats. That will be good for starters. We can work outward from there.”

He had an interesting concept of seduction. Rather direct, not subtle at all, but intriguing.

By the looks of him, he would be worth the effort. I thought of his kiss, and I grew uncomfortable. My face grew flushed, and his grin told me he knew what was happening between my legs. I wanted him, my sex knew before my head, but I wouldn’t give him the words he wanted to hear. Perhaps I was playing with fire, but a ‘tumble’ would be sort of welcome. Sex hadn’t been on the agenda for a long time. He was too much temptation in the flesh to deny.

Besides, it all was a dream and a wet one at that. I held to that hope as my only window of sanity.

He stood up, stretched, and sat upon the bed. He drew off his waistcoat, one I had embroidered in planning the book, a pretty cream satin with figures. “Flowering” as it said in Pamela. It was just a piece of embroidery I attempted as I thought through the chapters. Here it was a finished piece, and I had never finished any piece of sewing in my life. What part of magic was this? Was this a particular hand of fate?

“You know, you were quite witty in making the links between ‘orchard’ and ‘sex’ in that last chapter. You are my orchard, at least for now. I’ll pick myself an apple.”

Like a tiger he was over me, pinning me down with his weight.   The smell of ale was strong.   I was backed up on the pillows when he began to unhook the front of my dress. I slapped at his hands, and he laughed. He ripped the front of the dress from my breasts

A literal bodice ripper…..

“There. Now, will you lay still and quit resisting? You know what you want from me. Why play the coy virgin now?”

“Go back to your hell, Demon”.   I spat at him, my eyes flashing. He wiped spittle off his face with his sleeve. His eyes shot out a warning I couldn’t miss if I were blind.

“I will go back to my hell, the one you so easily wrote for me. First Lucile cuckolds me then Obadiah sticks in a knife. Did you ever think how painful that was? Finish me off with that dolt Jennie.   Ah, God…give me a dish of woman I don’t have to fight or teach.”

He pulled up the skirt of my dress, and spread my legs with his.   I had forgotten about those crotchless bloomers. He touched my sex with a finger, watching my response. I jerked at his touch, and he dug deeper into me. I bit my tongue to keep from groaning.

“A neat invention, don’t you think? Easy to get to the pearl in the oyster.

He was a vigorous looking man, with well-muscled arms, and a broad chest. He looked formidable.

“Wait until you see John down there, now he’s formidable. Oh, I forgot, you have seen him, or me, or you think you have seen us. But you only saw my cock in shadows. I always thought you could write that scene better.

How? It was only my first novel and writing sex scenes was hard work. And harder work staying detached.

“Here, place your hand on this cock and tell me if you have ever felt a finer one.”

I pinched the head of it hard and he yelled.

“You witch. You should be glad I’m not Obadiah. Perhaps you would like his kind of lovemaking better, though it usually leads to death. But you know that.”

“I wrote that.”

“Yes, and it was kind of sick.”

“You should talk. Obadiah is a pivotal character. He needs to be the negative, the bad guy, but right now, you serve that purpose just as well.”

“That’s scrambled English. Something you’re good at.   Now, lie still and at least enjoy my efforts.”

“Do you like your women like logs? I can be a pillar of salt if you want.”

“Can’t you try to be original? I have a blazing hard-on and I intend to use it.”

I smiled and closed my eyes.   I would submit to his pathetic efforts because I was aroused in spite of this scene of insanity, but I would not let him hear any moan of pleasure. He rose between my legs and pulled me to him, and began to enter me. I grunted with his movements.   He was bigger than I had imagined (“You got that right” I heard him whisper,”) and he took his time. Would he ever finish?

“No…not until I hear you coo like a turtledove.”

I groaned in spite of myself. My mouth opened and he stuck his finger in. I bit down hard and he laughed. He tried to seek my mouth with his but I would not let him. He laughed and squeezed my ass, lifting me easily. I could not take this much longer and I screamed an unearthly sound from my throat. He reached his shortly after, panting loudly, pinning me under him. He wasn’t a bad lover.

“Ah, again, you called me ‘lover’. I like that. You are growing tender.”

“What would you have me do, Garrett? You have what you want. What more can you do?”

I didn’t have the energy to argue. Besides, that orgasm seeped the fight out of me. I knew I had to be awake. This wasn’t a dream. No dream could sustain this. No dream could create that reality.

All of a sudden I thought about Jennie, his intended in the novel. What had he done with her? If he was capable of materializing before me, of transporting me in some unknown fashion, he was capable of other acts.

“She’s nowhere to be seen. Don’t worry.

“I worry. What have you done with her?”

“Do you mistrust me so much, your own creation? Snap my fingers and erase her?”

“Garrett, you have way too much power. I believe you capable of anything.”

“Well, I am capable of another round of lovemaking, my sweet woman, if you would give me a moment. I need to empty this ale.”

“Don’t you dare use the fireplace, Garrett! I’m wise to your ways from the book.”

“I’ll open a window this time.”

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

“Snowstorm”

February 5, 2016

Source: “Snowstorm”

“Snowstorm”

February 4, 2016

My beautiful picture

Not yet, but there is always anticipation.  Maybe next Tuesday.

 

SNOWSTORM

 

There is witchery in the night,

Monstrous ghost trees loom,

Every minor twig blasted thick crystal,

Bushes cold-laden exploded willows

Bending in tired submission

To a transformed ground.

 

The dark of a winter sky

A distant rose-pale glow

As if some drunken Aurora Borealis

Has cast her color, dipped low

Wheeled from her northern skies

And settled in for a night below.

 

Commonalities made fantastic

A jolt from a bare frost-parched season-

Incomprehensible mystery before the eye.

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010-16

 

 

“Winter Widow”

February 3, 2016

My beautiful picture 

 

The naked trees of winter

Lit by a slivered crescent moon,

Cast thin shadows upon a frigid ground,

Skeletons in the moonlight.

 

A fresh widow

Watched at the window,

Little flesh about her,

Those brittle branches

Now her bones.

There was a time when she was juicy,

Ripe with swelling life,

Velvet of skin.

She lapped at life with full lips,

Embracing passions.

Speared on her husband

She moaned, screamed with laughter,

Sheer joy.

 

Her life had been full,

Overflowing,

Desirable,

Endless-

A portrait of promise.

He died, life turned surreal,

The reason for living gone.

Life’s temperature grown cold,

Like him under the soil.

It started to snow,

A gentle cover of branch

Bush, ground,

A tender benediction,

A white blanket to her pain.

She knelt in the garden

Suddenly grateful to feel anything

Even the cold.

She would live,

She knew this now,

But he must be so cold under the snow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

Winter Widow first published in Seasoning of Lust, Lulu.com by the author

“Let Them Eat Broth”

February 1, 2016

Mimi Cat August

( Mimi, who is showing one of the benefits of Beef Bone Broth:  joint flexibility.)

 

Beef bone broth, to be exact.

A couple of months ago, I started making broths.  Now, this activity has died down in the modern kitchen.  People are too ‘busy’ to attend to such a thing as bone broth, but a couple of generations ago, almost every kitchen had a pot of slowly simmering broth on the back of gas, electric and wood stoves.  They were the stock for soups, gravies and in certain cultures……medicine.

“Bone Broth will make the Dead rise up and dance.”

An old saying in Argentina.  Checking with my doctor, also in most parts of South America.

Bones are something that people nowadays throw away, or don’t know what to do with them.  But bones have essential minerals inside, besides that lovely marrow.

Actually, they are sometimes pretty hard to find….dem bones.  The internet is full of praises and suggestions for bone broth, but there is also a decided snobbery about bone broth. “Only make bone broth with grass-fed beef bones, not grain fed.”  Well, that is all to the good, but it is hard to find these sort of bones:  In Whole Foods the other day, looking for this, the butcher behind the counter vaguely waved towards a cabinet.  Of course, no bones.  It seems you have to get up pretty early in the morning to get them and then??? You will pay a hefty price for these bones.(no meat, just bones remember)

Since I generally avoid the Church of the Whole Foods, (I’m stealing this bon mot from my friend and fellow blogger, Liras),  I had to find another supply.  A small grocery close to my neighborhood had beef bones.  And they were reasonably priced, too.  They were USDA bones, so if not grass fed, they probably would be ok.  I don’t care now, I am hooked on beef bone broth.

Benefits I am told about Beef Bone Broth: (you can make broth from chicken bones, the carcass of a roast hen, etc., fish bones, lamb but I don’t know about pork bones…I’m sure you can, but I don’t eat pork except in the summertime when we gorge on barbeque ribs)

Heals Leaky Gut:  Apparently it’s a condition that most of us have:  tiny, microscopic holes in the gut, where food leaks out into the body and causes inflammation.

Gelatin: this from the simmered bones:  Cures chronic diarrhea, constipation, other nasty stuff.  If you have enough bones and don’t dilute too much with extra water, when your broth really cools, it sets up as jello.  It’s delicious, too, but just unnerving a bit.

Helps strengthen immune system: with this ready shot of minerals and good stuff you can see why it would.

Stronger Teeth and Bones:  phosphorus, magnesium, calcium.

Joints:  Glucosamine, the same thing we buy for creaky knees, but in a much more absorbable form.  Chondroitin sulfate also prevents osteoarthritis.

And…..it helps in weight loss.  And hydration.  I have never realized how dehydrated I was until I started drinking (at least 4 time a day) this beef bone broth.  Now?  I sleep better, and though this is just me….my A1c has dropped, my cholesterol dropped to normal range, and my blood sugar is pretty normal.  All with drinking this beef bone broth daily.  Sometimes I just don’t want dinner, so I make a good cup of this and it is fine for a meal.

Mileage varies I am sure…..

Beef knuckles, oxtails, chicken necks, creepy chicken feet, all these things can be crammed into a crock pot and simmered for 12-24 hours.  I don’t do anything but beef bone broth, but I will adventure out to do other bones….but not those creepy chicken feet.  I have hens and these packaged feet look too much like folk around here.

So, find dem bones and be prepared to get hooked.  I’ve even given up coffee in the morning.  A nice, hot mug of beef bone broth does wonders for my temperament in the morning.

Recipe:

I bake my beef bones in the oven for about 40 minutes on 350 oven.  Makes them brown and also makes a darker broth, with a deeper flavor.

Cram them in a crockpot, set on low….add two glugs of Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice, or white wine) just to acidify the bones: makes them give up their minerals faster.

cover with water.

I use garlic (rough chopped…with skins) celery, parsley and that is about all.  Onions can make it a bit sour.  Salt and pepper corns.  (a few of them….I had to throw out a pot because I was too liberal with the pepper.)

You can easily make it in a large pot on the back of the stove, but then you can’t leave the house.

My 8 cats and 4 dogs and other stray cats I feed get this on their kibble daily. And, you can give the softened bones to the dogs.  They look good, and I am trying to get my husband to drink this, too.  So far, the dogs are winning over him.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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