Posts Tagged ‘time warp’

“The Kimono” Chapter 17

April 10, 2018

Kimono Cover 2


Mari stood at the window, a copy of the Man’yōshū in her hand. It was a book of love poems, the “Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”. She couldn’t read the language but a scribe had taken the time to carefully illustrate this book with erotic drawings. They were exquisite, though rather pornographic in her opinion. Compiled during the 8th century, this book was considered the pinnacle of Japanese verse, even in this more “modern” 17th century. To the Japanese, eroticism didn’t seem to have many boundaries. Sex, and even nudity, was very natural to them. They did not have a concept of sin, at least none she understood.
Lord Tetsu had ordered Lady Nyo to teach her to read and write. He was of the opinion, according to Lady Nyo, that Mari should be entertained while learning a difficult language. Therefore, he gave her this book, the Man’yōshū. Entertained? How different their cultures, stretching across the centuries like two oceans separated by mountains and sand.
It was now two months since her miscarriage but Lady Mari’s mood had not greatly improved. Her heart was a mass of confusion. She would wake in the night, sweating. She dreamed constantly but could not remember much, just disjointed scenes in clashing and violent colors. Dreams before were fathomable, but now? They were strips of some unrolling and unending painting, without words or knowable meaning to her. Just confused sensations with a hidden terror.
With patient instruction by Lady Nyo, Mari was beginning to recognize some Japanese words. She still couldn’t construct a decent sentence. There were all sorts of issues with the Japanese language and her attempts in forming a sentence sent Lady Nyo into peals of laughter. Well, at least she was entertaining to someone if not exactly “entertained” herself.
The house was a flurry of activity. Lord Tetsu was to visit sometime in the afternoon and Mari felt anxious. He had not visited her since her miscarriage. Lady Nyo said he had come to see her but apparently she was asleep due to the medicine prescribed by the doctor. The only evidence of his visit was a short poem inked on his fan. Something about laughter and fireflies.


Mari turned from the window. There were two small women kneeling outside the entrance to the room. They bowed their heads to the wooden floor as soon as she saw them. Lady Nyo came up behind them and bowed to Mari.
“So sorry to disturb you, Lady Mari. These women are here to attend to the house. Would you please come out to the rokka and view the niwa?”
Mari nodded and put her book down on a small chest. She recognized the word “rokka” as the porch overlooking the garden and “niwa” as garden. She was beginning to learn the names of things in her environment.
“Oh, Lady Mari! If you would like, I will come with you and we can read those wonderful poems together.”
What she really meant, thought Mari, is I can read these poems because you are still stupid about our language. Of course, Lady Nyo was the picture of decorum and would never say such but Mari was foul in mood and took offense secretly at many things.
The house was like a cottage with small, bare rooms constructed from a central passageway, closed off by shoji screens. They walked through the house towards the back where Lady Nyo kneeled and pushed a screen open. They faced a narrow platform looking out upon a small garden.
Enclosed by a low stone wall, the garden was very old and had a misshapen tree in the middle. There were raked pebbled paths and small green bushes with buds and a few open flowers beneath. Upon the wall were small plants growing out of the rocks. The cherry trees were almost ready to blossom. This event was as important to the Japanese of this century as much as it was in Mari’s. She heard how beautiful they were in the castle grounds when in full bloom.
The kasumi, the morning mist, had lifted but there was a possibility of rain. Mari liked the rain, it suited her moods. She could withdraw from the company of Lady Nyo and look out her window, wrapped in a silk quilt against the cool air. As she recovered, she spent less time sleeping late and would get up earlier. She liked the kasumi, it comforted her. It put a barrier between her and the world. Any rain or mist was welcomed by the people around her. There had been a drought for a couple of years. Lord Tetsu had mentioned that rice production had dropped. Famine was always around the corner.
Mari sat on a wooden bench on the rokka overlooking the garden and above the pebbled paths. The mists had all evaporated from the morning, replaced by a gentle wind. White cranes lifted off the water down by the shore, their black legs trailing like stiff ribbons behind white bodies.
It was peaceful. She felt her nerves untangle, fall away. Breathing in quietly, she could smell the scent of plum trees within the garden wall. The wind made cascades of plum snow litter the raked pebbles.
“Lady Mari, I have brought your book. If it pleases you, may I read a few poems aloud?”
Mari could not refuse this simple request. Lady Nyo’s role was to educate her in the finer arts. It was not as if it were her idea to do this. Clearly, it came from Lord Tetsu. Lady Nyo was devotedly following orders.
“Oh, Lady Mari! Here is a poem by the Princess Nukata. She was very famous many centuries ago for her lovers. She was wife to Prince Oama and then the Emperor himself!”


As I stay here yearning
while I wait for you, my lord,
the autumn wind blows,
swaying the bamboo blinds
of my lodging.


“Oh, isn’t that the most romantic of poems?” Lady Nyo clasped the book to her flattened bosom.
“Well, I would think it would be a matter of taste, my Lady.” Mari didn’t want to sound sour but the poem did not move her as it obviously did the reader.
“Oh, Lady Mari,” said Lady Nyo plaintively. “Perhaps the part of the poem that is more obscure is the key here. The autumn wind in this poem represents the visitor…or builds yearning for him. And this morning we have such a lovely, gentle wind blowing.” Lady Nyo looked at Mari with hopeful expectation. Mari laughed and asked her to read more.


Tonight, too,
does my woman’s pitch-black hair
trail upon the floor
where she sleeps without me?


Mari sat up straighter, her interest piqued. Now, that poem had interest and was modern in sentiment but why were the man and woman separated? There were more secrets than answers in this sort of poetry. “Read more.”
Lady Nyo smiled and looked for another poem to please her.


Though I sleep with
a single thin rush mat
for my bedding,
I am not cold at all,
when I sleep with you, my lord.


Lady Nyo smiled over the top of the book, again clasped to her bosom. “She must have been a poor woman to be only able to afford such bedding. But here’s another poem that speaks to men.”


Though I sleep beneath
soft, warm bedding,
how cold my skin is,
for I do not share my bed
with you, my woman.


“Now, that is nice,” said Mari wishfully. And how modern, she thought. A man who shows his main concern in bed: warm feet.
Lady Nyo read another:


Brave man like the catalpa bow
that, once drawn,
does not slacken–
can it be that he is unable to bear
the vicissitudes of love?


As soon as Lady Nyo read this particular poem, she blushed deeply.
Mari saw her reaction. “Lady Nyo, I am a stranger here. I have no history among your people. That is obvious. But please tell me: does Lord Tetsu have a wife or children?”
Lady Nyo’s face showed a sadness. She moved closer to Mari and spoke softly. “This was a long time ago but I believe Lord Tetsu still mourns. It is hard to tell with men but Lord Tetsu, though a powerful daimyo, is still a man. Years ago, before my Lord Nyo and I were vassals to Lord Tetsu, he lost his young wife and children to the sea. They were sailing to a city on the southern coast when a terrible storm took hold of the boat and all were lost. Lord Tetsu was not with them, he was on land. I understand he travelled to a sacred mountain and for years lived in the forests. He talked to the ghosts of his wife and children and shunned all men.”
Mari’s breath caught in her chest. Perhaps this was the key to his personality. He was certainly a strange man, even for a 17th century daimyo. “But surely he has remarried? Does he have a wife in the castle I have not seen?”
Lady Nyo’s eyes widened. “Oh, no! To my knowledge, Lord Tetsu has never remarried. If he had, his wife would be amongst the women with Lady Idu. Oh, it would be hard to ignore a daimyo’s wife!”
Yes, she would be first among all the women in the castle, thought Mari. “But perhaps he has a wife that lives apart from him?”
Lady Nyo shook her head. “No, not that I have ever heard, Lady Mari. Of course, many husbands and wives do not live together, which would explain why we know nothing about a wife. If that were the case, surely my husband would tell me, but in all these years, he has said nothing.”
The expression on Mari’s face took Lady Nyo by surprise.

“A man and wife don’t live together? How strange.” As soon as Mari spoke, she realized her mistake.
“Oh, Lady Mari! Surely the married people where you come from don’t live together after marriage?”
“Well, actually, they do, except if the husband has to travel…for business.”
“Oh! People are so different it seems. Here, only the farmers live together but that is because their women are needed in the fields.”
That morning, Mari learned that among the upper classes, and especially within the aristocracy, men and women lived apart. Visits were planned and each was notified by a messenger. That poem about autumn winds and swaying bamboo blinds now made sense. These marriages were conjugal visits.
“No,” continued Lady Nyo. “Lord Tetsu has no wife, as far as I know, but the finest courtesans do visit him…or he them, from time to time. It is only right and proper. He is not a hermit.”
“Who? Tell me, Hana, do you know the women? What do they look like? Have you seen them?”
Lady Nyo, heartened that Mari would use her name, blushed and shyly touched Mari’s hand. “Well, there was the beautiful courtesan, Midori, last year. Oh, Lady Mari! You should have seen her kimonos! Such silks and colors! She looked like a beautiful butterfly!” Lady Nyo giggled like a girl and rushed to explain. “I was passing from one hall to another on some endless errand and I saw her with attendants. She was so beautiful! Her skin was as white as a lily and her hair as glossy as a blackbird’s wing. Long, too. She wore it unencumbered and it swept her hems.”
Mari chuckled to herself. So, Lord Tetsu wasn’t the hermit he appeared at first to her. He was man enough.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018


“Kimono”, part of Chapter One.

January 21, 2018


Samurai Woman

Samurai Woman

Since I have finished this novel, I thought I would post part of Chapter One.

This book has taken ten years to be completed, but in those ten years I have learned of another culture, language and times.  The language part is iffy, as only the sushi workers at Whole Foods are tolerant of my attempts. 

In this time the world of tanka and haiku and so many other forms of Japanese literature has been opened to me.  The beauty of so much of this culture is shown in its poetry.  “Kimono” gave me an excuse to study it out of necessity.

Lady Nyo



It hung in the window of a shop as Mari walked around old Kyoto. The shop looked out on a very small, shaded garden. With the sun overhead piercing the fan-shaped leaves of a gingko, the ground beneath looked like a yukata’s repeat pattern.

Mari’s eyes were drawn to a slim beacon of light. It was enough to make her enter the small shop.

“Ohayo!” The shopkeeper came from behind his counter and bowed respectfully.

“Ohayo”. Mari bowed back.

Mari was Japanese-American, married to an ex-military man and this, their first trip to Japan. The only thing Japanese she knew was food. This culture was no more hers than being American. She felt she would forever be caught in the middle, a tug of war by two sides, and neither to claim her.

Behind the counter she saw what had caught her attention. A kimono, a black, formal tomesode. A kimono any married woman would wear, not dyed with the usual flowers worn by young, unmarried women. Winding around the hem in mountains and valleys and up in a serpentine path high on the left front was a wide silver band. Looking closer, she saw the intricate handwork of what looked like stitched, silver cloth.

“That is surihaku, embossed silver sewn foil.”

The voice of the shop owner startled her, and Mari jumped. She blushed, not hearing him approach.

“How old is this kimono? May I look at it closer?”

He took it down from the pole and carefully draped it over his arm. Mari traced the river of silver from the hem to where it appeared to stop. The shop keeper opened the left panel and Mari saw black, knotted embroidery around a ocher tan, encircling the hips. The silver was only the outside decoration. The embroidery inside was heavy and patterned.

Mari could not restrain from stroking the embroidery. She wanted to close her eyes and read it like a piece of Braille. She had never seen a kimono quite like this. It couldn’t be that old, perhaps no more than 60 years. It seemed in excellent condition. Even the small, white thread that was used when the kimono was washed was still fresh.

“Do you know anything about this tomesode? Where it came from, perhaps?”

The shopkeeper sighed. “No, one day it just appeared. I am a widower; my wife must have purchased it when I was away. I found it after she died, in a chest.”

Mari brought the kimono home.

Four years ago she had married Steven. They had never really settled down, for his company sent him for long stays in different countries. She went along because it was what was expected. It was never clear to her what he actually did, something to do with numbers and systems and strange codes. He was an expert in his field and the company happy to uproot them both and send them afield.

Mari was not unhappy in the marriage, just restless. Steven had his work but she had nothing to do except knock about the streets and look at people, read and think. Mari’s mother thought her malaise was over the issue of children, but Mari didn’t think this was such a big issue for her. Steven complained children would make their movements complicated, and Steven was all about making things simple. Mari put up little resistance to whatever her husband wanted. Perhaps because her own mother was a traditional Japanese wife, this was strong influence on her behavior. Her mother always submitted to what her husband wanted. They both did.

It was two days before she was able to try on the kimono. Carefully untying the string and opening the box, she took it out.

Holding it in front of her, the weight of the winter crepe felt heavy. Just a dull black kimono with five white stamped crests. Mari laid the kimono on the bed, kneeled, and again traced the silver river, this time with her face pressed on the cloth, her eyes following the winding course of silver. It was as cool as water on her skin. Laying it open on the bed, she looked carefully at the black embroidery, wondering if there was a pattern in the high knots that coursed around the silk. She couldn’t tell because the pattern was like hieroglyphics. Perhaps a secret language sewn into the silk; something indiscernible.

Mari stripped and pulled the kimono around her, binding it to her firmly. It was heavy on her body, clinging like a second skin. She sat on the floor feeling suddenly overwhelmed with a heaviness her legs could not support.

She held out her arms, the dull silk rippling like water. It fell into the form of her breasts and without reason, she felt her nipples harden. It must be the cold of the crepe, she thought.

Sitting on the floor, she hugged herself. She vaguely watched the river of silver course up her leg and disappear into the interior of the kimono. She wondered about the course of her own life. What would the years with Steven bring and could she endure this dullness inside? With a start she realized that was exactly what she was feeling, a leaden dullness that leached out all color around her. Perhaps that was the attraction of the kimono now girding her loins, the silver surihaku that led to her noticing it in the shop. The brightness of something to catch her eye and fire her imagination.

She didn’t know how long she sat on the floor, her thoughts spiraling inward like the design of a nautilus shell. She finally looked at the clock next to the bed and was amazed an hour had passed. She stood and dropped the kimono around her on the floor. It puddled into black mountains, a landscape of rivers and valleys.

Mari touched her left hip and found a series of flesh tattoos. In fact, all around her hips, stretching from one side to the other, there was a definite pattern pressed into her flesh.
She thought of the weaves of a basket, the marks of a rope, the binding of her flesh to something stronger than her own mind.

When Steven came home she showed him the kimono.

“Why a black one, Mari? You will look like an old crow in that.”

A less than flattering characterization, but Stephen was rather critical of how she dressed. Mari did not go for floral designs and bright colors. She picked colors that were neutral, earth tones; colors that made her disappear.

“Married women in Japan always wore black kimonos, Steven. It’s the unmarried woman who wear floral designs.”

“Well, get a red one and I’ll be interested in your choice of bathrobes.”

Stephen was not taken by Japanese culture. His whole purpose in life was to do his job and move on.

That night when they went to bed Mari was cold. The weather had changed and fall was becoming chilly. She got out of bed and padded to where she hung the kimono. Pulling it around her body its heaviness and drape comforted her. She returned to bed and fell asleep.


This must be a dream, Mari thought. I am kneeling on something cold, hard. I smell charcoal.. Where am I? It’s so dark my eyes can’t pick anything out. My arms! Why are my arms tied behind my back?

She was kneeling on a cold wooden floor. Her eyes were barely able to pick out details of a room that had little light. She was shivering, now naked except for the kimono over her shoulders. She heard a grunt and a low voice.

“So. What have we here? A young maiden lost on her journey through life?”

Mari lifted her head and saw a man, or what appeared to be a man for the room was still dim except for a low burning brazier. He certainly had a voice like a man. He rose, moved around in front of her, and stared down, a bemused look on his face.

He had long, black hair, tied in a topknot, and seemed tall for a Japanese man. His forehead was high, and Mari realized his hair was plucked from the front of his head. He was dressed unlike anything she had seen in modern Japanese styles, for he wore what looked to be numerous robes and had a dagger in the sash at his waist.

“Catbird got your tongue?” He leaned down and raised her chin up in a hard-skinned hand. Mari shivered from fear and cold.

“Where am I? Why are my arms tied? Who are you?” Mari was stuttering, forcing her questions out, shocked as much with fear as cold.

“Ah, I see I have summoned a young woman who has no manners. Perhaps I will teach you some. Perhaps you can learn to address your betters with respect.” The man took the draped kimono off her shoulders and folded it carefully, placing it on a wooden chest by a wall.

Mari started shivering harder, her naked body exposed to the cold room.

“As to your rude question, I am Lord Mori Higato, in the service of the Shogun. I am of the clan Motomori. That is all you need to know.”

“You sstill haven’t answered my question. Where am I? Is this a dream? Please, I beg of you, I am freezing, for the love of God; give me a blanket or sssomething to warm myself.”

Lord Mori looked down at her, his face a mask. Suddenly he threw back his head and laughed loudly.

“I see I have a challenge before me. Well, good, I am up for a challenge, even if it is in the insignificant package of a woman.”

Lord Mori lifted her by one secured arm and roughly dragged her to a low futon. He pushed her face down and threw a silk quilt over her. At first Mari lay still, until wiggling like a worm, her head cleared the quilt. She could not sit up, but at least she could see.

The man was kneeling before a low table. He was writing something on a paper scroll with a brush he dipped in ink. Mari watched silently, knowing he was watching her from the corner of his eye.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018
















“The Kimono”, a chapter from a novel

July 21, 2016

images (8)


Plum Blossom Snow


The present snowstorm of

White plum blossoms

Blinds me to sorrow.


They cascade over cheeks

Like perfumed, satin tears

Too warm with the promise of life

To chill flesh.


(poem by Jane Kohut-Bartels, copyrighted, 2008)

It has taken me 8 years to finish this long novel.  It is a time warp, from 21th century Japan to late 16th century Japan.  Mari is a 32 year old Japanese/American, in Kyoto with her husband Steven, a computer consultant.  For the majority of the novel, Mari has been snatched by a magical kimono, appearing in feudal Japan where she meets Lord Mori, a powerful daimyo in North Japan…around Akito,  the Gassan (Moon) Mountain.

The ending didn’t come to me easily, until last night.  Fighting with stupid Geeksquad, I got little sleep, and when I did awake, the next chapter, the ending …was in my mouth.

I am grateful.  I have a couple of long novels floating around, mostly unfinished but at that stage where it would take only a couple of months to do so.  So whatever propelled me into the ending (of which this next to last chapter isn’t….) I am grateful.  Even to stupid Geeksquad.  Who knows where inspiration comes from?

The character Lord Fudo is obviously a Tengu….a mystical being, usually birdlike who can transform themselves into (mostly) human appearance.  In the novel, he is called Lord Yuki…who is also a Yamabushi.

Lady Nyo

Chapter 27


Mari was dreaming of snow. Snow was falling on her face, but somewhere in her mind she knew it was spring, and now too far from winter. She woke up, cold, as Lord Mori had turned in the night from her, and had taken all the quilts.

She sat up, pulling her thin kimonos around her. The dawn’s light hardly infused the bay before them, only thin tendrils of light skimmed the sky above the distant mountains.

Something was wrong. It wasn’t snow, but cherry blossoms. They covered the ground. There was a humming beneath the soil and Mari placed her hands firmly on the ground, feeling the vibrations. She wondered why Lord Mori did not awake.

Mari stood to get a better look at the bay, but even standing was difficult. She felt drunk, unstable on her feet. Something was wrong, and the water before her looked as if something was punching beneath with a million fists, causing it to roil and churn.

Lord Mori woke up with a start, sat up and for the first time, Mari saw fear on his face.

“Do not try to stand, throw off your geta and run”, he whispered.

He grabbed her hand and at a crouch, they ran up the hill towards the others, Mari gathering her robes above her knees. They were knocked to the ground with the tremors of the earthquake a number of times, and each time Lord Mori covered her with his body.

They could hear screams and shouts in the distance. Nothing seemed real to Mari, and those beautiful cherry trees were uprooted and fallen in a jumble against each other. Lord Mori saw Lord Nyo scrambling towards him and shouted for him to try to get back to town and get their horses. They must ride to Gassan or get as high as possible. They were in the lowlands and following an earthquake could come the feared tsunami.

A small fire had started with a brazier turning over on some quilts. Lord Mori stamped it out, and then looked for survivors. Lady Nyo and her servants were lying under some branches of a fallen cherry tree, and Lord Mori and some of the men lifted the tree to pull them out. Lady Nyo had blood streaming down her face mixed with soil, but other than a flesh wound, she would survive. Some others were not so lucky. A few servants from the inn were buried by a few fallen trees, or laid out like they were just asleep on the soil. Lord Mori’s men dragged them out and laid them together on the ground. Someone covered them with the half-burnt quilts.

Mari scrambled to where Lady Nyo was sitting against a half-fallen tree and with her kimono sleeve, wiped the blood from her face. Why didn’t Lord Nyo free his wife first before he obeyed orders from Lord Mori to bring their horses? Clearly the rules of this century, and this country were very different than her own. She would hope that Steven would have attended to her first, but then again, this was a very different culture.

“I am fine, don’t worry about me, please”, whispered Lady Nyo. Mari could see that she had suffered shock and her pale face showed the effects of this trauma.

“Is my Lord Nyo alive?” Mari nodded her head, and told her that Lord Mori ordered him to bring the horses from the town.

Lady Nyo looked doubtful. “Surely the town has suffered what we have here. The horses might have bolted and he will not find them.”

“We can only hope he does. Lord Mori wants us all to ride to Gassan Mountain. He says the higher we are the safer we will be.”

Suddenly a man appeared over them. Mari looked up startled. It was Lord Yoki.

“Do not fear, my ladies”, he said bowing. “Lord Mori is right. The higher we get the better our chances of surviving will be.”

Another tremor, this one lasting only a few seconds, but Mari screamed in fear. Lord Yoki laid his hand on her shoulder to steady her. Mari buried her face in his robes. Either he had very hairy legs or she was feeling feathers through his clothing. In any case, she was glad he was there. Lord Mori was off directing the men, gathering what they could that would be useful for their flight to Gassan Mountain. He was not around to comfort a hysterical woman.

She continued to wipe the blood from the face of Lady Nyo, using the sleeve of her kimono. Lady Nyo was chanting something in a low voice. Mari thought she was praying.

Suddenly, Lord Mori was bending over her and he pulled her to her feet, leading her away from the others.

He put his arm around her waist and drew her to him.

“You must leave. If you stay, you will die.”

“Yes. I will die with you.”

Lord Mori grimaced and  put his hand around her neck, close to her chin, bending her head back. He increased his hand’s pressure on either side of her jaw and the last thing Mari saw was his eyes staring at her, two liquid black pools to drown in.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 2… Again with the WARNING: Sexual Content.

May 31, 2013

We are going backwards here. Chapter 1 is a mess, and needs to be rewritten. So, I am posting this chapter because it gives a hint of what this book is about. And about that, well, it’s really two books and I have to find a way to slice it in half.

Basically the story line is a time warp: from the 21st century to the 1820’s. Bess is a novelist, writing a book set in the 1820’s, but has grown disaffected with her characters and plot and has closed the book for sixteen years. This hasn’t sat well with some of the characters, mostly two men, Garrett Cortelyou and Obadiah Voorhees, and they have re-manifested as demons or devils. They are in mortal combat, as they were in the original book, but this time they have all the denizens of Hell to help them. Battle lines are drawn up, and Bess, a very 21st century woman who does not believe in Heaven or Hell, finds herself in the middle of this conflict. Garrett Cortelyou, the devil below, is a Dutch devil and has the seduction manners of a goat. He’s able to kidnap Bess from her own bed and century and by rearranging her atoms, or something like that….transfer her back to his century and house. He also can read her mind which means he has the advantage over her almost all the time.

Lady Nyo

Devil’s Revenge
,Chapter 2

“What the hell?”

Opening my eyes, I struggled to focus. Embers had popped from the fireplace in front of me and it sounded 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, and I felt nauseated. A few minutes passed before I had control of myself. At a man’s command I appeared in this room. I shivered, wondering what would happen now.

The wind raced around the corners of the house, and sleet scratched at the window panes in a steady rhythm. I was glad for the good fire before me. I was chilly dressed in a linen morning gown, nothing more than a wrapper over a chemise. I had that 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.

Was he a demon? Well, he wasn’t the Devil, or at least he didn’t seem to be. No horns or hooves or pitchfork. I had no idea what he was, and my knowledge of anything supernatural was poor or non existent. But he shouldn’t exist, not if I was sane and the universe too, but here he was. What was he? My imagination couldn’t stretch that far to account for all these magical things, like the tankards of ale 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 a bit of a chapter to finish, I started to write a couple of lines. I might as well use the time I was 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 table, unshaven this morning. His appearing like that and his confounded ability to read thoughts still rattled me.

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

“Why would I care if you had a beard?” I asked, stumbling over my words.

“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 nether parts, my sweeting.” His eyes were languid and narrowed, and left no question his thoughts were mostly about lust this morning.

I reddened at his silly words, in spite of my determination not to blush.

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

I listened and thought a moment. “Tell me, then, how does this work? Does anybody in my life notice I’m gone? I don’t remember much when I’m home, and 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 in 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.

“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.”

He looked at me, and his smile disappeared. “You are quite the little hypocrite. You put a set of horns on your husband’s head fast enough and now you complain? I seem to remember you enjoying the fucking 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 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 far. He was stubborn, with his own set of rules. He was right, I had set the horns upon my own husband’s head and enjoyed the fucking 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 silent 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 in the morning.”

I took the cap off because it was slipping over my eyes. Aunt Catherine was a character 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 concentration. “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.

“Garrett! Remember I’m attached to that foot!” He had it in his lap, where he was staring at the red 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 this morning.” He looked like he was capable of such and I snatched my foot back fast 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 on you, 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.” He grinned, the loathsome demon.

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

“Garrett, that was almost a rape. You made me bleed.” 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. Next time allow me your mouth, it will go better for you.” He paused, thinking. “I don’t know how you could call that a 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?

“Ah, that is better. Tell me, my 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 up 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 here.” I sat back and looked at him smugly. Two could play at his 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. He was in a fine 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 you.” 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?” I hoped my voice dripped with acid.

“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 for the food to appear?” I smiled sourly.

He grimaced and scowled at me. “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 make Daniel, the caretaker, bring in his niece, Anna, to cook, in the book.

“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 me. 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 open to me with pleasure.”

“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 with his hands on my breasts.

“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 stick their tongues down your throat and part your pretty thighs. Why are you talking to them about the novel? Why mention us?

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

“I think that I am all between your legs right now.” He put his hand over my crotch, and 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 my 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, 2007-2013

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 5, WARNING: Sexual Content, you have been warned.

May 29, 2013

This chapter comes from a book I started at the end of 2006. The characters came from my first novel (unpublished…way too long) and finishing that novel (“Heart of the Maze”) I didn’t want to end these characters. I had grown attached and this was damn stupid. So I came up with another book, first called “Another Story” then “Devil’s Revenge”. It’s a tale of magic, demons, cosmic travel and nothing like that ponderous first book. I learned a lot from writing this book, but again, too long by far. It was the first time I used time-warping in a story. And magic.

Garrett Cortelyou is a demon, well, half human and half demon. There is a whole parade of demons in this book and it took me out of my usual comfort zone in the research. Bess is a writer, who finds herself plucked out of the 21st century to 1832. Garrett can be a chauvinist and a brute, but he has a lot of energy….

Why do we write such things, and why do we create such characters? Every writer has an answer for this…I’m still trying to figure out mine.

Lady Nyo

Chapter 5

I had no way of telling time or sequence or anything that relates to the passage of time. I think of my society, where we grew up around various clocks: mantel clocks, hall clocks, electric clocks in the kitchen, the battery run clocks by our bedsides, and our wristwatches. In the dimension I was visiting, or found myself, there were few clocks. No one so far wore watches. Perhaps there were pocket watches, but I saw few people and couldn’t tell.

So I didn’t know what time it was of the morning, though I saw the sun had not risen. The room was colored by the timid light creeping into dawn, a blending of gray shadows. The fire had burned low during the night, and cast no glare. There before the fireplace was the Demon. He slouched in his chair, one booted foot upon the other, staring into the embers. He smoked a white, clay pipe, something I recognized as a “Dutch pipe.” He didn’t stir from his chair as I called his name, but blowing out a mouthful of smoke, he turned his face towards the bed.

“You’re finally awake.” He grinned around the stem of his pipe, his large white teeth gleaming in the dim light of the room.

“It is too early to wake, Garrett. Aren’t you cold at the fire?” I snuggled back into my pillow.

“’Ah, an invitation to your bed this early? Would do, but there is a litter of puppies around your breast.”

I opened the covers, and there under the blankets, were his four pups. Little two month old water spaniels, three boys and the girl, the runt, Sophie, snuggled between my breasts.

“Did you do this, Demon?” I laughed, for I had no memory of putting them there. The smell of puppies this close is a bit high, like sour milk.

“The fire was low when I entered the room and you looked warm enough to comfort them.”

“Have you thought what you are going to do with them, yet?”

“I aim to keep them right here, and you, my darling woman, will be nursing them for me.”

“Ah, Garrett, had you ever thought that perhaps I might be a bit too busy to care for your dogs? I am trying to finish this novel, my friend, and perhaps it would have been nicer for you to ask me first.”

“Perhaps, yes…but it still doesn’t change the outcome.” He grinned and his eyes snapped in the firelight. “The rules of the engagement are simple. You do what I want.”

“You are such an arrogant Demon! What makes you think that I will do as you demand? Have you ever heard of free will?”

“Highly overrated and doesn’t apply here.” He continued to puff and draw on his pipe and filled the room with his horrible smoke. Brimstone I believe.

“No so.” He continues to read my thoughts at will…his idea of free will, I suppose. He packed down his ‘tobacco’ with his thumb. “It’s a nice cherry and spice blend I brought from the islands… Perhaps you would prefer a pipe of opium?”

“I have never done such a thing, thank you very much.”

He turned a half-opened eye at me, and said lazily. “Perhaps before you dismiss it, you should at least try it once.”

“And why would I do such a thing? It seems a half-death to me.”

My Demon continued to puff on his pipe, the lazy whiffs of smoke spreading across the room. When I first smelled the acrid smoke, I had thought fleetingly of the pot that I used to smoke on occasion. I thought, ‘fleetingly’, but that was enough for my demon to pick up. Suddenly, the smoke was not of tobacco, but of a sweet smelling herb I recognized though I had not smelled for years.

“You bastard demon!” I laughed at him, this conjuring trick a minor one in his bag. “Do you know how hard it is to quit that stuff? That is the last thing I need to smell this morning. Way too early!”

All this ruckus awakened the dogs in my bed. They were rolling over each other, and jumping at the pink ribbons of my mobcap. Little Sophie between my breasts grunted and stretched.

“You have awoken your dogs, Garrett, now you better find something to feed them.”

He snapped his fingers and a bowl appeared on the floor in front of the fire. I handed each one from the bed to him, and he placed them around the bowl. Whatever it was, they ate with growls and snarls, stepping over each other.

“What is it you’re feeding them?” Even my runt Sophie was not shying from the food.

“Deer meat was handy.”

Well, at least he was sensible enough not to put down a dish of milk. Those pups would be runny within an hour.

“Oh, I thought about you nursing them but your nipples would give out in a day. Though it would be amusing to see your milk spout when they started to howl.”

Oh, he was a nasty demon this morning!

“Well, I’m glad you decided on deer meat instead.” What a devil he was, to think of these ways of tormenting me. His temper was like mercury, and he took offense easily. Perhaps it was part of the demon culture, for he certainly was a touchy devil.

“You should know, you thought me up.”

“Oh, Demon, I think you have had a long life before you ever came to thought.”

“It used to be Demon Lover, and now it is ‘friend’? I think we go backwards.”

Opening the covers, I smiled at him sweetly, and decided to take my chances this morning. He was an entertaining fellow, and carefully handled, could be amusing.

He put down his pipe on the table, and moved to the bed, slipping in bedside me. He placed my head upon his shoulder as he was wont to do, and settled next to me.

“You know, Garrett, I have a lot of writing to do today. I am behind with the book and want to finish before the years out.”

“You can write when I’m through with you, on the morrow…I want to show you things today. First I want to show John Thomas between us a seashell of delights.”

He was amorous in the morning. Actually, he was usually ready for a romp any time of the day or night.

“Besides, you avoided me in Chapter 4 and I mean to make up for that.” He had a scent about him that enchanting, a combination of musk and sweat and probably brimstone.

“It’s the scent of an aroused man, who is about to release a lot of little demons from his loins.” I laughed at his clumsy wit, and blushed in his arms. “You modern women wash too much. You have forgotten the scent of sex and its purpose. It draws the bees to the honey.”

Perfume and soap was such a part of my life that I didn’t realize my body produced its own scent of desire. Since he had bedded me my thinking on this had changed. After our lovemaking, we lay in a nest scented with the smell of flowers, old flowers, ashes and wood.

“Lie still, my darling woman, and indulge my mood here.”

When my demon demanded a thing, it was wise for me to listen. He had a way of bending me to his will, and I was learning, slowly, that sometimes there was an innate wisdom in what he did. Sometimes.

I lay in his arms. He touched my forehead, on both temples with one hand extended. He passed his hand slowly down to my eyes, and as he did, they closed. I barely felt his hand descend to my midriff, where he stopped and pressed down hard. That is where I seemed to have fallen into a deep sleep, or at least a trance. Then, with something like a slow electrical shock, from the ends of my fingers and toes, I felt a gathering of energy, something warm and concentrating, moving down the passageway of my limbs to the center of my body, where he had pressed on my stomach. It seemed that all my nerve endings were coming alive, and centering in my stomach. My pelvis was flooded with a warmth that moved back and forth across my hip bones. An exquisite feeling of tingling took hold of my face, my breast, my entire body. Suddenly, it all rushed upwards, out of my body, like a current of many colored ribbons, opening upward and outward, bursting from my body like waves of liquid and spinning off like a million stars above me. I was lifted from all gravity and hurled through space like a ragdoll. I was transformed into pure energy, or something of that nature, for I had no words to describe what was happening to me. All I knew that it was an extreme pleasure, beyond anything I could imagine, and something that I didn’t want to stop. It dissolved my body into a stream of light, flowing through and around any obstacle, any fear. I felt like I was turned inside out, and my sex had blossomed like a giant orchid. My whole body, or what was left of it, pulsated with a spent desire. Slowly, I seem to have fallen to earth, to this bedroom, to this bed, and in the arms of a man who was lying there unconscious. I looked at him, and he was naked next to me, the bedclothes on the floor. The room was over heated, though the fire was still low. I felt a wetness on my side, and looking down, saw that he was bleeding from his left side, below his heart.

“Garrett!”, I called to him in a panic. “Wake up!. Oh my God! You are bleeding, you have injured yourself.” I shook him, trying to arouse him.

He came slowly out of his trance, for it seemed that he was as spent as I was. “I am fine. It’s just a little sacrifice for this pleasure.” He passed his hand over his small wound, and it disappeared. My face was contorted with alarm, my hands on his shoulders.

“What did you do? What happened to us?”

He smiled a weak smile and cleared his throat. “There are many things in this world and out of it. That is just one. It’s pretty spectacular, but there are even better things to come.” He burped loudly. “Right now, I’m starving, and am weakened with expending that energy.” Turning over, he said with a grin. “Pretty good, no?”

I stared up at the ceiling, too weak to sit up. “Pretty good, yes.”

I lay there, silent, thinking of what had just happened. . My body felt like velvet, with no structure or nerves. I was empty of everything, completely undone.

“But why do you bleed?”

“Bess, you ask too many questions. Just think of Adam’s rib and the creation of Eve.”

He grinned at his words, and sat upright. Snapping his fingers, a tray of breakfast appeared on the table. He put on his long, linen shirt, and sat himself heavily in a chair.

I didn’t think that I could rise from the bed, much less walk to the other chair. My body was without bones.

“Oh, forgive me. I forget. That first experience usually knocks the wind out of your sails. You’ll find ways around that.”

He pushed himself out of his chair, and helped me to sit up on the side of the bed, and led me to the chair. I sat there, not dizzy, but confused as to what had happened to me. Was this what is called Tantric sex?

“Nope,” I heard him mumble as he stuffed his mouth with bread and butter. “Far beyond that earthy delight, but we can play with it next if you want. Bit of a bore, though.” He drank a swallow from his tankard of ale, as he preferred this drink instead of my tea in the morning.

I could not imagine doing anything else that day or the next! He grinned at me, the lustful devil, and pushed some bread my way. He extended his hand across the table and looked at me tenderly, and I placed my hand in his. There was a little of that current still present in the air, and it melted my hand into his.

Ah, Devil, I thought to myself. You are a dangerous man or demon, whatever you be. I wondered, when I fell back to earth, if all the atoms fell back in place. I knew I had given something to him, far beyond my heart and sex, and it seemed to involve my trust. Perhaps that was the key to his heart.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2008-2013

The Kimono, Chapter 15

November 15, 2012

This chapter is from a novel that is a work in progress. it’s a time warp, with Mari, a Japanese/American woman who is transported back to the 17th century Japan by a magic kimono she finds in Kyoto. Mari is of the 21st century, and Lord Mori, and the rest are of the 17th. Lord Mori manipulated the kimono to bring him a woman, but didn’t expect a woman from 21st century Japan. Lord Mori and the a few of the other men in this chapter are Yamabushi, mountain priests who also are magicians. Lord Mori is a daimyo, a warlord in the NW (Akito) Japan. Lord Yoki is quite the character, who appears as a Tengu, a large bird, but very human when he choses to be. Lady Nyo reveals characteristics of her personality that are rather…mean.

Chapter 15, The Kimono

On the first day of the month called Uzuki, or u-no-hana (flower), Lord Mori called a council of his closest advisors, minus his trusted carp. Fierce spring winds were whipping the cherry trees and petals filled the air, falling like late spring snow.
His advisors were Lords Ekei, Yoki and Nyo, with the requested attendance of the Lady Nyo.
Lady Nyo knelt behind her husband. She was not comfortable in the presence of these lords. She was not amongst Lord Mori’s advisors, and as a woman, of course was out of place. What could be her purpose for being here? She arranged her kimono hems and sleeves with little movement, and settled in to listen.
The morning was chilly –an early spring day. The fog had disappeared and she could hear the ducks and geese on the water near the castle.
She noticed an unraveling thread on top of the shoulder of her Lord Nyo. She would have to mend it before it got worse. Ah, men. They were like children without women around.
She bowed her head, as a proper wife should, but watched the men carefully. The movements of Lord Yoki caught her attention. This was a strange bird! He even looked a bit like a bird with a large, red beak. She thought he probably drank more than his share of sake. A red nose was a tell-tale sign of that. His kimono, though of a good quality, was filthy, splattered with stains. He had a disgusting way of hacking, spitting on the floor besides him. Lady Nyo shuddered. At least he could carry some paper handkerchiefs and use them.
The men’s voices droned on. She thought she should listen more closely, but by the Gods! These men were talking of how many soldiers they could gather, who was a vassal to depend upon and who would have to be nudged, bribed or threatened depending on their status. All of them were in obeisance to Lord Mori, but some had to be reminded of their obligations.
Lord Mori was a powerful lord, but these years had been peaceful. Lord Kiyami threatening Lord Mori would be a terrible thing. Lord Mori would have to wage war against Lord Kiyami.
Ah! There were so many obstacles to a quiet life!
Lady Nyo felt her head would crack. All this talking of war! By the Shogun’s decree, no daimyo could wage war against another. That was common knowledge. Exile or death would be the end for any foolhardy daimyo who dared to breech the edict of Heaven.
But the region was so far from the capitol! Akita faced the Ou and Dewa mountain ranges to the east, and the Sea to the west. Sometimes it took months before important travelers even came to the castle. If Lord Kiyami ringed the mountain passes with his vassals, well, there would be battles and hardships aplenty for all of them.

Ah, there were many obstacles to a peaceful life. It was quite the maneuver for Lord Mori to gather his vassals and men to make the trek to the capitol every two years. But it was demanded of the Shogun. It kept the daimyos from each other’s throats, but with Lord Kiyami, it might now not be working. She had gone on a number of occasions and her eyes had been dazzled by the splendor of the Shogun’s court. The silks and colors and sumptuous robes and elegant manners were enough to fill her head with dreams! She would admit, though, to be glad to go home to her more humble house back in the mountains of Akita. One could take just so much pomp and splendor.
She was descended from a powerful samurai family who was close to the Heian court centuries ago. Her family had suffered the swings of fortune and though she was from a minor wing of the Fujiwara clan, she could hold up her head. Her father had been a court official and her marriage to her Lord considered a good one. Though she had no children, she was still within the breeding age. She prayed and left small offerings at shrines.
Ah! Fate would rule, and the meek Lady Nyo knew she was a pawn in the larger game of life. Fate was on the side of men.
The men’s voices droned on. Lord Yori was still hawking and spitting. He looked like an unwashed goblin!
She fixed a small smile on her face. She had too much breeding to reveal her sentiments. She wondered though, about the Lady Mari. What kind of breeding did she have? Where did that woman come from? Her husband told her not to ask questions of the Lady Mari, but to serve with total devotion. She understood that. She had been given a great task and responsibility. Her Lord Mori had honored her with his confidence in her humble abilities. She still had her private, most inner thoughts, and no lord could stop her from thinking.

There were many things about Lady Mari that were a mystery. Lady Nyo could admit she was a bit envious of Lady Mari. How did she happen to capture the eye of Lord Mori? There were many other women who would be proper concubines, even a wife for this desirable lord. Why the rather plain Lady Mari? She was not educated as a court woman. No, she would embarrass the plainest court in the land. Only just in the last short amount of time had the Lady Mari even been able to kneel properly!
Where did she come from? Who were her family? She never talked about that, and that was of the most importance under heaven!
And she was rather….strange looking. Tall and thin for a proper woman, of course she had been sick with the breeding and the loss of the child, but there was something strange about her womanliness.
Lady Nyo smiled. She had heard the great Lord Tokugawa had even called her ugly! Of course he was drunk at the time, but this certainly was no stain on him. Most men got drunk, some every night and such a great lord as he would be above any reproach.
But he had called her ugly and she had been present! Oh, what a loss of face for the Lady Mari!
Lady Nyo’s brow furrowed. What could be the attraction of Lord Mori to this woman? Was it possible he saw something beyond her awkward, unpolished ways and had fallen in love with this creature? Was it possible the Lady Mari could cast a spell like a mountain spirit? Surely the great Lord Mori was immune to such things.
Her husband, when drunk on sake, once said Lord Mori had his own magic. Whether this was but drunken words or something else, her husband had smiled and rolled over on his back. He refused to talk further about his lord and fell asleep, snoring loudly.
Ah, there were so many mysteries in the air!
But….what is it that makes a man and a woman know that they, of all other men and women in the world, belong to each other? Is it no more than chance and meeting? No more than being alive in the world at the same time? Does clan and family, position and status mean nothing?
Suddenly she felt sad. She had a good marriage, but her lord was not of the best temper. No, he was a man, and little of the heart could be expected of them.

Year after year, it was as if she was holding her breath, waiting for something to happen, for life to change, for life to start, something she could not even recognize…to happen. The other women had children and she had none. They drew comfort from their babies, their growing children. She had none of this comfort. No, none of this comfort. And knowing how his mother was, her esteemed mother in law, well, she already knew what the baby’s name would be: Kusako, “Shit Child” if a girl, and Akoguso, “Cute Little Shit” if a boy. Her mother, too, would nag her until they were named such names. All to keep the demons away.
Lady Nyo sighed audibly. She threw her hand to her mouth in embarrassment, glancing at Lord Mori. He was listening to another. Only her husband twitching his shoulder showed he had heard.
Men. They were strange and cruel creatures, neh? Her lord was no exception. Who knew what repelled and attracted a man?
Finally the meeting ended. She rocked back on her heels and rose, now a bit stiff, bowing to the Lord Mori. He motioned for her to come to him, and with her eyes cast down she approached.

The Lord Mori looked down on this tiny, plump woman, her hair arranged in braids pinned around her head.
“How does the Lady Mari fare, Lady Nyo?”
Ah, she thought! This is why he wanted me in the room. Well, I can tell him what I know.
“To my eyes, she is well, my Lord.”
“Does she sleep well? Is she in pain?”
“She sleeps well, my lord. The doctor gave me a potion to give to her before she sleeps, but she is now only sleeping during the night with a long nap during the day.”
“And the doctor predicts that she will fully recover?”
“He is hopeful, my Lord, the Lady Mari will regain her full strength.”
Lord Mori grunted approval, and fell silent. Lady Nyo thought he had more than a passing interest in the health of Lady Mari and she was correct.
“Since these are matters of women, I will rely upon your experience, Lady Nyo.”
Lady Nyo bowed in gratitude.
“However, …..I am thinking the Lady Mari would be bored before long and as I have these issues with my Lord Kiyami to attend, I will not be able to give her much direction. You understand?”
“Of course, my lord. I was thinking perhaps Lady Mari could compile her poetry in a book. She could ‘talk to the paper’ and perhaps that will spur her interest in life.
“Do you think she is becoming despondent, Lady Nyo?”
“Oh, my lord! I am no one to have such powers of observation! However….given a task she would enjoy would hasten her health.”
Lord Mori grunted. Whether he was expressing approval or not was hard to tell. It was always hard to tell with men.
“Has the doctor expressed why she lost the child?”
She was surprised at the directness of his question. Men usually were not interested in such things. She had her own ideas why Mari lost the baby.
“If I may venture a thought, my lord, and it is only my own.”
“Granted. Tell me your thoughts.”
Lady Nyo knew thin ice when she saw it, but she would plow on.
“Perhaps the problem lay within the fifth month of her bearing, my lord. As you know, according to the Shinto calendar, the Day of the Dog celebrates the bearing and guards the baby from harm. Since the Dog is a messenger of the Gods and chases the evil spirits away, perhaps it would have been auspicious to present the Lady Mari to the temple and for the donning of the hara-obi. As you know, this sash would have protected her baby and kept it warm.”
Lord Mori’s eyes narrowed. If Lady Nyo had looked up at his face, perhaps she would have thought to have angered him.
True, thought Lady Nyo, this presentation to the temple priests was done within the company of both grandmothers and since the Lady Mari had just appeared out of thin air with no family and no known clan…at least known to her, well, it was all rather confusing….and improper. Of course, she could not express her opinion, except to her husband and maybe not even him.

COPYRIGHTED, 2010, 2012

“Devil’s Revenge” Chapter 16

December 19, 2008

This is a quirky novel that is almost finished except for the damn rewrite which should take me a longgggg time. It’s the second novel in a series, but it is very rough as it was written before I had a clue about writing…two years ago…LOL!

The plot is complicated. 21st Century writer is warped back into the 19th century…around 1820…where she ‘meets’ the same character in her first novel….Garrett Cortelyou..this time a Devil…handsome…but still a demon. He is immersed in a feud with another demon, Obadiah, and the writer is in the middle. There is a whole cast of Demons from Hell, and in this chapter, Betsy…the writer, is being ‘prepared’ to meet Abigor, the Devil close to the throne. Hopefully this comes across as funny, but as I said…it’s sorely in need of rewrite.

Lady Nyo


My Demon has left me alone for the last three days. I am a bit worried for he has spent many hours in his library, pouring over large books. Then he strides out the front door of the house, with neither a nod in my direction nor a kiss, and I am left to await his return. When he leaves, I return to my room, but I am at liberty to visit the bedroom that opens to mine. It is his, though he never seems to use it. It is a room with a high bed, old dusty curtains at its corners and a shotgun by the bed. He would just have to stretch his hand out to retrieve it. I look at it, knowing something about shotguns, but this gun is ancient. I don’t touch it, but it looks very heavy, with a scrolled and embossed silver plate, badly tarnished on the breech. It looks like it has killed many times. It is evil looking as all guns are to me.

I look out his windows though my room is a corner room with more windows and trees close to the house. His window gives me a clear and unobstructed view of the countryside that stretches for miles. It is mid January now, and the view is as bleak as it was in December. The skies are a uniform gray, with an occasional black cloud, and the ground is brittle and dun colored. There is little notice of life outside, except for that hawk that flies each day, patrolling its territory. Or so I believe. My Demon knows it to be another devil, a lesser one called Arachula, the evil spirit of the air. He said this demon turns into an owl at dusk and sits in the tree outside of our bedroom, watching. He stands at the window, silently communing with this spirit, but won’t comment on what passes between them. Perhaps he has an agreement with the owl to protect the house from monsters. Who knows? It is all beyond my comprehension.

This morning, I sit quietly flowering another vest for him. He has constantly worn the one I made for him, and it shows its wear. The floss I use is becoming worn, and pulling from the fabric. I am forever cutting off little ends that unravel.. This floss is silk, not cotton, and sinks into the fabric, and looks like it will be stronger. It is a tree limb with many different kinds of flowers and leaves, with autumn colors, and at the top, an elaborate orchid, with tiny seed pearls worked in the blossom. It is something to occupy my hands while I await his return.

I believe he has gone off to consult with different Demons of his own tribe. I guess you could call it a tribe, but not knowing the hierarchy of his dominion, I am only guessing. He tells me little, and is strangely, for him, silent. This is a definite turn in his behavior, and disturbs me. It tells me he is very preoccupied with his present business. I do miss his easy conversation, as I have grown accustomed to his wit. I hope it returns as his behavior now is scary. Too much the man and not enough the funny devil.

Suddenly he is in the room, and I look up, surprised.

“Good Morning, Devil! Don’t you look handsome today!”

He smiles and sits down in his usual chair. He has dressed himself in a different manner, and I continue to stare. He wears a dark green frock coat, with deep cuffs and silver buttons. It is long, to his hips, and under is a rich, silver brocade waistcoat, embroidered with leaves. A stock closely wrapped about his neck, clean linen shirt under the waistcoat, black breeches and shiny black boots completes his costume. He looks quite formal in dress. And quite charming . He is obviously dressed for an important occasion.

“Goedemorgen, Betsy. Today we make our appearance before Abigor and it is good we put our best foot forward.”

He smiles at me and I am a bit apprehensive. I immediately think of cloven hooves.

“Ah. An appearance. As in being presented to a Demon that you want favors from?”

“Abigor is the Grand Duke of Hell, and I would remind you to curb your comic thoughts about him. If you think I read your mind fast, he is faster. He is pleasant enough, but there are limitations. And he doesn’t take well to mortals. He is annoyed by free will.”

Great. Now I don’t only have to fear my Demon’s invading my thoughts, but his granddaddy as well.

If he reads my mind, he ignores me. I seem to be compounding my ‘mistakes’. Perhaps I am losing my mind.

“First you will have to take the bath and dress in a gown provided for your appearance.
Arginutin has loaned you the handmaidens I promised you. They are soon to appear. . They will assist you this morning.”

Arginutin is the demon who has dominion over baths and bathing places. Like the Turkish baths?

“Don’t let your wit run away with you today. I need you sober and submissive.”

Ah! About that submissive stuff, I was wondering if –

“Don’t wonder. Don’t even think. You will be surrounded by forces that will be confusing enough. Remain by my side, slightly behind my right side, and if things get nasty, grab onto the back of my coat.”

“Are there to be more than one Demon that we are visiting now?” I am apprehensive enough with this Abigor.

“Abigor travels with his own…ah, cabinet. He will be visible to you, but only he. Perhaps a large dog or wolf, or some monster at his feet. The others will be there, but invisible. Do not get curious and look around. If one catches your eyes, he could charm you away, and I’ll have more trouble on my hands.”

We both hear a scratching at the door, and my Demon calls out ‘enter’. The door opens and four greenish frogs enter the room. They are large frogs, at least 4 feet tall. But they are frogs. I start to laugh, and Garrett looks at me with a scowl. I am in shock and must be going hysterical.

“Go in the other bedroom with them and do as they say.”

“As they croak?” He smiles a sly smile, “As they croak.”

“Will I get warts from them?”

“Betsy, don’t push it this morning. If you anger them, they could cover you with worse.”

I trail the frogs into the other bedroom where a copper slipper tub is sitting on the floor. The fire is lit in the fireplace and the four frogs take places around the tub. There they start to fill the tub with ‘water’ from their throats, like fountains. I watch for a moment and then it dawns on me. My bath. I return to the other room where I find Garrett, the Demon, sitting before the fireplace, smoking his white clay pipe.

“Ah, Garrett…..the frogs are spitting in my bath.”

He looks up at me, and he grins. “Don’t worry. You’ll like the effects. Like asses milk. Good for the skin.”

I look at him blankly, and go back in with the frogs. The water is foaming, and looks milky. Two frogs start to remove my petticoat and bodice, and their little claws scratch my skin. They don’t croak a word, and they lead me to the tub, where I climb in. It’s not exactly warm, frogs being amphibians, cold blooded and all, and I try to suppress an image of frog legs on a plate. One of the frogs croaks pointedly, and I mumble ‘sorry’ to him. They have little sponges attached (?) to their pads and they wash my hair with their spit. One frog emits more of his saliva onto my hair, rinsing it with a blast of frog spit in my face. I believe that was on purpose, as I sputter and they all give a low croak. I think they are laughing at me. They are none too gentle in washing me either. One picks up an arm and other does the same, and they rub hard. Two pick up my legs, I feel like a wishbone right now, and they do the same. The ‘chief’ frog, the one that is slightly darker and taller than the other three, plunges into the water and washes between my legs. I see his face as he busies himself down there, and there is a decided sly frog smile on his…ah, face. They pull me down in the water by my legs as their way of rinsing, and sputtering, I am helped from the bath. Four towels appear in their paws and they are none too gentle in their rubbing. I think they get some pleasure in making my skin red with their efforts.

Standing there, naked, surrounded by these frog servants, I would laugh but they take themselves so seriously. Plus I am afraid of warts. The chief frog, for that is what I believe him to be, stands before me, looking intently at my body. He croaks something in his language to the others and there is a hearty croaking. Now I know that they are laughing at me, I just don’t know what part they find so amusing.

I am led to the bed, where I lay naked on the coverlet. Since I don’t see any little penises, I am not afraid of frog rape. However, they have little pots of something in their paws and start to paint different parts of my body with a soft, brick- red powder. They paint my lips, cheeks, fingernails and toenails, rouge my nipples, and then the chief frog comes between my legs and none to gently spreads them. He rouges my sex with the powder, and seems to work at it more time than necessary. I see that sly frog smile again between my legs.

I stand up and two frogs bring a beautiful gown to me. It is green or purple, no it is both colors, iridescent, and changes in the light. It is a heavy silk and they float it over my head. It fits, but hugs my body in places. They all give a croak of approval, or this is what it seems to me. They brush out my hair and the chief frog places a circlet of spun gold around my forehead. I am barefoot, but apparently, I am expected to stay that way.

The frogs lead me back into the bedroom where my Demon is sitting, and present me to him. He looks at me, and his eyes widen. I think he is pleased. He smiles and bows to the frogs. I curtsey to them and they look pleased. They file out the door, and then are gone.

“Wasn’t that bad an ordeal now, was it?” He looked at me appraisingly.

“Garrett! I am covered with frog spit! Maybe in your world this is normal, but in mine?”
I started to laugh, I could easily become hysterical.

“Any warts?”

“No, not that I can tell.”

“Good. Because if they took offense, you would now be covered in large, red welts.”

Well, that was the good news. “What happens next?”

“We turn up at the appointed time and I make a leg.” That meant him bowing to the Duke.

“And what do I do?”

“You are very quiet, don’t breathe a word, and for your Goddess’ sake, don’t think a thing. Try to remain blank. Though do present a pretty curtsy, and mean it when I present you.” He grimaces at me. “Do not be mocking in your behavior or you might end up a cinder.”

Ah! That was good to know. I was really scared now!

“Do not lose courage, little woman of mine. You will get used to the procedure, for we will be doing the same in a round of visits. I am building my influence here, and calling in favors.”

“Will Obadiah be doing the same?” I was curious.

He sighed deeply, and looked at me. “Yes, he will. It will be a race to see who develops their forces first. That first strike can mean an early victory.”

“And I assume, who gets me?” He looked at me in a strange way, and drew me onto his lap.

“Sit here a spell. We have some time yet. The gathering isn’t until dusk. Let me smell your mortal woman smell. That will create a stronger bond. It’s more than appearances to these devils, but appearances are important.”

I sat on his lap, and leaned my still frogspit damp hair on his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around me and held me to his chest. Ah, he was so tender this day!

“Explain something to me, Garrett. Why is it again that I am needed in your dimension? What is it about mortals that make us desired?”

“Not all mortals are desired, my darling one. You have shown a free imagination and a certain intelligence. That is how you attracted the Old Ones in the first place. It’s not that they read much, but they sensed something usable in you.”

Sounds like he was describing a ‘devil’s plaything’. Nice.

“Have you ever heard of “Abd-ru-shin”?

“No, should I have?”

“Not necessarily. There are a couple of reincarnations made from the original. He was an Arab who wrote about humans and personal responsibility. He also wrote, and is most famous for, beliefs on human free will. He believed that humans, mortals if you will, have a neutral Creative Power. They were between worlds….yours and others. Applies to different dimensions, too. You are what is called a ‘carrier.’ You can go between worlds and dimensions, with a bit of magic.”

“That’s where you come in?”

“Partly.” He scowled heavily at some thought. “Of course, other spirits and demons will want to use you, too. I’ll have to be on guard you don’t get squired away.”

I felt like some giant, immortal mail service. I had to laugh. He read my thought but wasn’t in a humorous mood.

“You look fetching in that gown. The frogs did a good job with you. Now listen to me carefully. You are a bit too fetching for my tastes. At least outside this room. I want you to grab onto my coat and stay there. Don’t lose contact with me. There are going to be strange forces around you, and some  will enter your mind. Don’t allow them to muddle your thoughts. Just think of me. Only of me. There will be temptations abounding and these are a pack of tricky devils. I would attend to him alone, but they all want to see why Obadiah and I are fighting over you. If you feel an arm, or a breath or a tentacle touch you or go up your gown, stamp your foot. That should break their spell. If that doesn’t work, pull on my coat. That will get my attention. But remember I will be making my case to Abigor, and this is strong business between devils. Try not to interrupt.”

Oh god! I am to blank out my mind, avoid the tentacles going up my legs, not be open to suggestions from other demons in the area, and not loose contact with his coat! And to remember to stomp my foot if I am tempted.

“Why not just leave me here in the room? Seems a lot of trouble for you.”

“I would do that, easily, but that is not what is called for. You are a prize, and right now mine, and I aim to keep it that way. That is why Abigor is pivotal here. He also predicts the future. So, just remember what I have said, and please! Be submissive!”

If there was any time that I felt more submissive, I couldn’t remember. Right now, I wanted to be so submissive as to disappear. I was clearly out of my league with his fellow creatures. The frogs were benign in comparison.

“Just for the visit, I am going to put a little charm on you. Just for safety, my own as well as yours.” He passed his hand over my tinted lips, and I felt nothing. I started to ask a question, and I had no voice. I was mute!

“Good. It works. Hard to tell sometimes, you are such a chatterbox.” He smiled down at me and I flashed my outrage and anger from my eyes. My mouth was useless.

“Don’t worry, sweetwoman.. After the visit, I’ll loosen your tongue again, and you can put it to good use thanking me.”

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2006, 2008

“Devil’s Revenge”…used to be “Another Story”

December 12, 2008

Two years ago this month I started a novel. I was a new writer and didn’t know squat about writing….still struggle with it, but I have learned much in those two years.

I also ‘fell’ into an interest that I had no idea existed. Well, a couple of them actually. What I was told later was BDSM, and also the mythology of Demons and Devils.

This book wrote itself…not an especially ‘good’ thing, but I realized that after a long time, I was suddenly getting in touch with some latent sexual issues, and even the issue of sex itself. There was a long dead period for me.

I have decided to rewrite this book, as it has caught my interest again, and I can do better now. In this book , I explored the issues of ass-rape, time warps, bondage, all these sexual things I didn’t know had names or were part of someone’s life. Apparently, many people.

Betsy is a 21st. century writer, who is trapped in a time warp, with a Devil who insists on living (for now) in the early 19th century. Garrett Cortelyou is actually a very old devil, and has his hooves in early Celtic times, in Wales. He is a produce of a powerful union between a mortal woman and a seriously potent Demon, but who his parentage was, is not known. However, he has the ‘respect’ and patronage of Abigor, close to the throne in Hell. Betsy has been raped by Obadiah (another devil) in previous chapters and she is in the middle of a tug of war between Garrett and Obadiah. Each devil strikes at the other through Betsy.

Lady Nyo


Oh! I am writing at a furious pace! I am trying to finish this book. Actually, I am trying to kill off a character, Obadiah, but today, I could kill them all, especially Garrett Cortelyou.. Now I’m told what has just happened has nothing to do with me. But! Had I not delayed, procrastinated, and plain farted around, perhaps things would be different.

It is a pretty morning and I am sitting at the little table before a bright fire. It is winter, an endless winter, and I have been told to stay in this house. Perhaps I am a prisoner of this room. Fearful enough, I stay indoors. I can see the distant fields from my window and I see a hawk fly high up in the sky. I have watched this bird for a while now. It’s questionable that this hawk is only a bird of prey. Garrett, the resident Demon, thinks it might be another, the Demon Arachula, an evil spirit of the air. It watches the lay of the land, and hunts its prey in the woods by the house.

I am writing fast, with frequent pauses to read what I scribble. I hear a very faint sound of bells, a tinkling of brass somewhere in the distance. It could be outside, like the clinking together of milk cans, or the sound of sleigh bells, but there is no snow on the ground. It grows closer, and suddenly, the Demon appears in the room. He is grinning like a Cheshire cat, and has something behind his back.

“Goedemorgen to you”, he says grinning broadly. He speaks excellent Dutch. He sits down in his usual chair and I hear the sound of something clinking together. He pulls up his hand, and there are my zils.

“How did you get my zils? My Turkish zils?” He’s wearing my finger cymbals on four fingers of one hand. Suddenly I know where he’s been!

“You Bastard! Still up to your old tricks! What else have you stolen from my bedside?” I can’t believe the nerve of this demon!

“You know demons are thieves. It’s a failing among us. We are like magpies and crows. Can’t resist the shine.” He sounds my zils with a clap of his hand, and holds them out of my reach.

He tells me he visits in the night and apparently last night he was there. He claims he is bored and appears at my bedside, where he watches me snore. I think he is lonely. I have already told him my husband keeps a shotgun in the corner, but he doesn’t care.

“I have found something else”, he says, pulling out my coin scarf from his sleeve.

“Insufferable monster!” I can’t believe this, but then, what should I expect? .

“I like your underclothes, too, but only the silk ones. I will bring some for you here, though I think you will freeze. I like the sweet smell of woman in them.” He grins at me, detestable devil!.

So he goes through my drawers and clothes…

“Oh, I do much more, sweetheart. Helps me know who I’m consorting with.”

“Devil! Is their any decency left in your nature?”

He laughs, his voice sounding like a bass fiddle tuned low. “Ah, darling! The short answer is — “no”. And before you go at me for my nature, how come this is the first time I find you dance in a harem. Makes a devil wonder what he has bought.”

I sit there and think. Since he reads my mind when he wants, I have learned to parse my thoughts when near him. At times it works but he has a way of getting what he wants for he’s tricky…

“Oh you ignorant devil! What would you know about such things? They are two worlds apart. Nothing alike.”

“Well, dance for me, and let me judge.”

Hah! That is one thing that I would not do. I’m not married to him, it’s part of a code, but I won’t tell him ‘the rules’.

“Tell me what? Think of me as a Pasha, and let me tie this scarf around your pretty hips.”

I sit there wondering how I am going to avoid dancing for him. He gets what he pleases, but I am learning ways around his whims. Perhaps I can interest him the in the history of this dance and he—

“No, you can come here now and dance. I know more than you think.”

He usually achieves what he wants. Through persuasion or magic, he gets what he’s after.

In a twinkling of an eye, I was parked between his legs, the coin scarf around my hips. He pulled my skirt low and patiently placed my zils on my fingers like I was a child.

“How can I dance? I need music for that.” He snapped his fingers, and faintly I heard the sound of a slow piece of music. I recognized the song, it was Turkish. Hynotic with its Karsilama scales, I hear it and my body couldn’t stay still. I sigh, he has played me again.

“Then put your hands around me and you can feel the movements of my hips.” Most men would like that…

Dancing in such a constricted space was very much like the Eygptian style. Such dancers made very little rotations with hips and torso. In fact, the torso remains above the pelvis, barely moving. The arms are more pronounced, but the shimmies were generally the same. Just more restricted. The Turkish style, the one that I studied and loved the most, was danced with broader and more joyous movements. The torso leans back and tilts the pelvis forward. Turkish dancing is based on the Romany, or gypsy styles, and since I am half Hungarian, this style suits my blood. The music is developed from the Ottoman rakkas, similar to the raggis of India. The drumming feels like the beat of blood coursing through my veins.

The music swells with a beat that follows a rhythm of 9/8, and other pieces of the body come into motion. Where he is holding me, I can only move slightly, with hips in figure eights and a kick of the hip on the upbeat. I can do the ‘snake arms’ movement, which is lovely viewed from the back, as it is led by the elbows upward and a flip of the hand at the apex of the movement above the head.

Ah! The music swells, and I have to step out of his arms. I have just learned to use the zils, and it gives such structure to the arms. It was hard at first to isolate the different parts of the torso, all in movement at different parts of the beats, and then to gracefully, with beautiful, lyrical movements, try to move the arms as a frame for the body. The zils helped because they extended the flow of the beat.

I am dancing to myself, not a dance of seduction for he who watches me silently, carried as I am by the music. I am seducing myself, making love only to me. I make the birth movements of the downward hip fling, with the pelvis flung to the sky, and I make the ‘habibi’ movement, which is a rotation of the torso forward and around, with the pelvis straight. It is a movement to be made on the head of a cock by a woman deeply aroused. I am fully possessed, my eyes closed, my blood beats a counterbeat to the rakka. He has somehow picked the music used by the Turkish badladi, the form I love best. I can drop to my feet, not on my toes now, and can use my heels in another counter rhythm. Ah, primal, sensual movements that bring forth the evening wind in the desert, the sounds of hunting hawks above, hooded hawks on dark arms below, the trickle of precious water, and the smell of woodsmoke!

Somehow I make my way back to him, drawn by the pulse of the dance, the piercing, haunting sound of the desert flute. Finding myself between his legs I place my hands on his chest, palms gently on his warm skin like a blessing of love.

The music stops and I am glossy with sweat. My hair is in tangles over my breasts, my breath drawn in pants. He is silent, more silent than I have ever known him to be, and stone-still. Dazed, he pulls me to him, breaking he spell of the music. He breathes my scent deeply and picks me up in his arms. He moves to the window with me as his prize.

I am exhausted and limp in his arms and we look out over the landscape. He is smiling at something and there is an expression I have not seen before. He is looking at the hawk, the hawk who hovers over the field and his face is defiant!. Ah! He is challenging the shade of Obadiah out there in the trees. He is showing what he now possesses. Obadiah will have to kill him to take me.

Nothing can match the intensity of his expression. Here in its fierceness is the stare of the lion. He will fight for what is now his and he will kill with an appetite honed through the ages. All the gloss of the 21th century drops from my mind as I see his rapture in his challenge. Men or Demons, like wolves, have a heart beat that stretches back to the hunt. They glory in its primitive urges. They glory in the gore they will spill.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2006, 2008

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