Silence

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Let the silence press;

Enveloping,

Like a rising dough filling a bowl.

Until the gentlest breeze

Creates the worst racket,

Your own growling stomach,

Tribal drums

And the tentative hoots of an owl

A circus parade.

 

© TDR – 2018

 

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Radio Silence

Radio Silence

When the wind died

He could feel the silence

Pressing.

There had to be a hawk.

Birds were down-

Huddled, gone;

Death in sight.

Silence has its own sound:

Thick winter water

Trickling over pebbles

Under a shell of ice.

Cold trees cracking, breathing.

The lazy wash of his own blood

Coursing, flowing

For the time being.

 

“The Play’s the Thing…”

Deer Skull

Hi All-Permit me to break the fourth wall and speak to you directly for a moment. I appreciate all of your readership as I bounce around rather eclectically from poetry to obituaries, flash fiction about mobsters and drunken louts (but enough about my childhood) to woodland nymphs, spankings, femdom, snakes, buggery and all the other things that coil and roil through me.

When I decided to have a single blog that would incorporate all of my (our, if I include my queen) interests there were concerns about folks enjoying one genre (let’s say a Harry Crews homage) then screaming out loud when the next post would involve taking a malingering wife’s temperature without-ahem-putting anything under her tongue.

So now I’m trying something a little different. We workshopped this play a few years ago then set it aside when interests and priorities shifted. I’ve recently begun picking at it again. I’m not sure that WP is the right place to put it but figured you would tell me that.

I thought about parsing it out over a few days but it’s around 2500 words and it ran about 15 minutes at our last table read. Being a one-act I couldn’t figure how to effectively break it up.

So thanks for your patience and readership. Enjoy this-or don’t-that’s fine too. I’ll be back soon with more conventional fare-you know, the canings, spankings and buggery-but for now I give you:

GUTSHOT

 A One-Act Play

CHARACTERS

Hank………….A man

 Bill…………….A man

 The Price……That which must be paid. Seems beautiful and worthwhile at the time.

 PLACE

Everywhere

TIME

 Always

©TDR – 2017

 

An archery target is set upper stage left. The target consists of three or four bales of hay to which a silhouette of a deer has been affixed. Upstage right is a tree stand about eight feet high. Nothing elaborate but there must be a ladder of some type as well as-possibly-a cross piece for a railing three or four feet above the floor of the stand.

Lights rise we find Hank and Bill on stage. They are both hunters geared for archery: full camo coveralls, etc. A significant difference between the two it that Hank is wearing full camouflage makeup on his face and hands disguising his appearance while Bill wears none. Bill is hatless where Hank wears a camo hat.

Hank is turned slightly away from the audience shooting arrows into the target. They both use compound hunting bows.

HANK

(Shoots) Thirty two. GODDAM! Still pullin’ the SOB to the left…Sights gotta be….(shoots) Thirty three…gittin” a little better…practice all year and it comes time for the hunt…(Stops himself and breathes deep then shoots) Thirty four…oh yeah! Tonight’s the night! I can smell that ruttin’ bastard of a buck. Smell ‘im! You see the rub down along the meadow? Where we went in this mornin’?

BILL

On the dogwood?

HANK

(Releases) Thirty five. GODDAM! The sight’s GOTTA be off. There’s no WAY I keep pullin’ to the left like that.

BILL

Your grip’s too tight.

HANK

My what?

BILL

You hold too tight. You gotta….

HANK

AHHH! Save it. You’d think I’m listenin’ to ya for Chrissakes. First year inna woods. What do you know about it?

BILL

I know enough not to hold the bow like it was a rattlesnake trying to kill me.

HANK

(Releases) Thirty six. I shoot a minimum fifty arrows a night MINIMUM!

BILL

When I was in competition I did that to warm up. (Taking the bow). It’s not just the practice-you’ve got to have the technique. Hold it just so. Lightly. (As he draws) Draw so the pressure of the bow is resting against the heel of your hand. You bear down too much. Loosen the grip. (At full draw) You come to full draw and there it is. See? I can wiggle my fingers here and the bow won’t fall.

He sights down an imaginary arrow as he turns and faces the audience. Pauses. Looks out bewildered then over his shoulder to Hank.

BILL

Hank…you get the feeling we’re not alone up here?

HANK

(Taking the bow back) We ain’t seen another hunter since we been here.

BILL

Not hunters.

HANK

What, then? You think you’re bein’ watched?

BILL

Kind of….

HANK

This isn’t a tournament bucko. No audience.

BILL

I get that. Doesn’t seem right-me shooting at a target without a gallery. Without people watching me. That’s what gave me such a charge about competition. Everybody watching-watching your every move.

During this last, Bill has noticed The Price enter the rear of the theater. She is beautiful and wears a slinky white dress showing a lot of cleavage. She and Bill establish eye contact as she sits in a front row seat.

HANK

Not up here. Nobody watching but the woods.

BILL

The woods. And it’s been here forever.

HANK

Not this one. Not like this. The original forests covered all these states-giant oak, beech, walnut, maple…they say a squirrel could run from Maine to Ohio from tree to tree without ever touching the ground. They disappeared years ago to build houses and ships. Cut them all. Then, once we got settled, another forest grew and we cut that for farming and mining. Now this. You’re right, all we got are these little woods. Except for….

BILL

Still feels…

HANK

Sure it does. That’s what I’m talking about. The ghosts. The original forest is still here. Cut above the ground so you can’t see it, but the roots-the whole underground network is here. The roots of every tree ever on this land is still here (Stamps his foot). That’s what you’re feeling. There’s nobody up here-but there’s somethin’. This ain’t the target range. This ain’t no tournament. It’s just us and we’re the ones doin’ the watchin’. It’s us sittin’ up in the tree decidin’ which deer go by and which ones don’t. WE are the ones doin’ the choosin. And something might not be too happy with our choices. Don’t grip too tight, huh?

BILL

(Coming back) Yeah. Lightly.

HANK

(Releases) Thirty seven. Feels strange.

BILL

It will in the beginning.

HANK

Hey-are there woman archers?

BILL

Sure.

HANK

Groupies?

BILL

You wouldn’t believe…I got more women when I was shooting that you…could…believe.

HANK

Maybe you’re not as dumb as you look. (Nods to Bill’s bow) Why don’t you fling a couple?

BILL

Don’t need to.

HANK

Shootin’ at a deer inna woods’s a lot different than the target shootin’ you’re used to.

BILL

Far as I can see, that’s a target.

HANK

Balls! (Releases) Thirty eight.

BILL

Shooting’s shooting.

HANK

You miss a bull on a target you come back and get it on the next shot. Here there ain’t no next shot.

BILL

It’s not an overriding passion with me.

HANK

Then why bother? (Releases) Thirty nine.

BILL

Just good to get away from it all. This is a beautiful time to be in the woods.

HANK

Then take a hike. Sit on a log. This is a hunt.

Bill has moved downstage and grabbed eye contact with The Price. She smiles and Bill decides.

BILL

Maybe I will shoot abit.

He takes his bow and takes a shooting stance beside Hank.

HANK

Like I told you yesterday, pick out a certain spot on the deer. Just like the bull on the target. Right there…behind the shoulder. Always find a spot. Don’t just shoot at the brown.

BILL

Don’t worry. I’ll hit it.

HANK

Hittin’ ain’t killin’. You gutshoot it, it’ll travel for miles. May never find it. And I promise you, if you pull me outta my stand to trail a gutshot deer and I miss my buck, I’m liable to gut your ass and tie you to the roof of the car.

BILL

We only have two more days up here.

HANK

And I ‘bout got that eight point figgered. Him or that four point I saw yesterday. Eleven years runnin’ every year I’ve got me a buck. This one won’t be no different.

BILL
Buck, doe…one shot, two.  I don’t see the point of putting so much pressure on it.

HANK

Pressure.

BILL

Sure…don’t you come up here to get away from that?

HANK

You never get away from it. (Releases) Forty! You want pressure? Out there are a lotta deer. Livin’ breathin’ creatures just like you. Some ways smarter, some ways dumber. Right now, this time a’ year they’re mostly dumber. (Releases) Forty one. You know why?

BILL

Here, let me shoot.

HANK

Cause the only thing they’re thinking about is fuckin’ That’s it! Their minds are on romance boy! While they go about their matin’ dance-which is older’n dirt-we’re sittin’ up in the trees like vultures just waiting to put a hole in ‘em. (Bill releases his shot). Not bad, but not a heart shot. Out there is a buck who thinks he’s George Fuckin’ Clooney and I’m gonna put an arrow through his heart. Kill him dead. That’s that. But, you see, if I miss his heart-if I don’t put the arrow exactly in the right place-then I’m only gonna wound him. I’m gonna gutshoot him. I’m gonna tear a hole through his guts big enough to put your fist through and that poor sucker is gonna agonize all through these woods while his insides fill up with blood and shit…(Draws to shoot)

BILL

(Sarcastically) Please…

HANK

(Releases) Forty-two. That’s the pressure. You do it right and it’s over in minutes. The deer population is kept in check and you got nice clean venison to eat all winter. You let your mind wander-you lose your focus-then you unleash a world fulla sufferin’ on a beast that don’t deserve it.

BILL

So maybe I won’t even shoot. Maybe I’ll just stay up in the tree and watch them go by.

HANK

Then why even come out? (Releases) Forty-three. You could go to a pettin’ zoo.

BILL

First day-I didn’t tell you-I was up in the stand. I heard a ‘pop’…a little crack over next to the highwall. You know, that’s the thing I can’t get used to. You always think deer are going to be quiet in the woods but they’re not. They can run through like a train. Anyway, I heard this pop and looked over and here comes a little four-point. Probably same one you saw. Pretty little guy. I just watched him…

HANK

How far off?

BILL

Right there! He walked right under my stand and was gone. Never knew I was there.

HANK

Why didn’t you shoot?

BILL
First day-figured I’d get other shots.

HANK

Bullshit! You ain’t no hunter pal. Tournament shooter. A friggin’ tourist out inna woods.

PRICE

A voyeur.

BILL

(Startled) A voyeur?

HANK

You wanna be a hunter you gotta kill somethin’. Simple as that. (Releases) Forty-four.

As Hank shoots, The Price enters the scene.

PRICE

There’s a price to be paid out here Bill.

HANK

Forty-five.

BILL

Price?

PRICE

Down there-in the world-you can get away with lies. You can’t get away without them! And the bigger the lie, the better. That’s how they keep score down there. The biggest liar wins.

She has approached Hank and is running her hands over his body. He ignores her and keeps shooting.

HANK
Forty-six.

PRICE

See? Nothing…(Moving toward the target) To some there is only the vision.

She stands in front of the target and pulls her neckline lower. Hank draws and prepares to shoot.

BILL

(Jumping at Hank) NO!

Hank doesn’t get the shot off. He turns on Bill savagely with hunting knife drawn.

HANK

You ever do that again, I’ll cut your fuckin’ heart out!

BILL

Hank!

PRICE

(Laughing throatily) The vision can be a powerful thing.

HANK

That might have been IT! That might have been my perfect shot. That might have been one step closer to perfection. THAT’S my life. (Stalks toward the target to gather arrows) You’re on a lark out here. Out inna woods pissin’ outta your tree stand.

PRICE

Maybe you’re ready now.

Still standing in front of the target she opens her dress again to give Bill a good target.

HANK

You don’t shoot at deer-you don’t know what you’re doin’ up here. You think buyin’ a huntin’ bow and comin’ out here a couple a’ days makes you a hunter? Down there you can get away with watching and not playin’. Not up here. It’s time to fuck or call a cab.

During this last, Bill is watching The Price closely, struggling with what to do.

BILL

(Breaking the spell) Hunting makes you a hunter. I’m hunting.

HANK
You ain’t even here!

BILL

This isn’t your backyard Hank. You got no claim to this place. I asked to come with you. That’s fine. I could’ve come up by myself.

HANK

(Releases) Forty-seven. You never coulda. Never woulda. Get you out in the woods alone you wouldn’t know what way is up. Five minutes you’d walk off a cliff and bust your ass.

The Price laughs and moves toward Bill.

PRICE

You don’t have your people here Bill. There’s no gallery pulling for you-telling you how great you are. (She rubs his neck and cups his face in her hands) Nobody here to impress. Isn’t that true?

HANK

(Releases) Forty-eight. You better know what you’re about before you come into these woods lover.

Before Bill can respond, The Price drives her knee hard up into his crotch. He doubles and falls into a heap. Hank takes no notice.

PRICE
You want to be a hunter, you have to kill something. Simple as that.

HANK

There’s always a price.

Bill struggles to his feet.

BILL

I think I’d better shoot a bit.

HANK

Too late. You’re here. That’s it. You don’t get it while you’re in the woods. You gotta bring it in with you.

PRICE

Do you know any hunters Bill?

BILL

Plenty! Some of my friends…

PRICE

…Are target shooters. Putting holes in paper for points. Lying through life.

She reaches behind her neck and unsnaps her dress. It falls to the floor.

BILL

No….I….

She reaches over and unzips his coveralls. She begins to take them off, pushing them over one shoulder, then the next.

PRICE

You’re just like them. Watching. Sitting and pretending.

During Hank’s speech, The Price strips Bill down to his underwear. She puts on his camoes and paints her face as a hunter would.

HANK

Couple years ago I shot a little buck. Four-point. Little sucker bolted when I released and I hit him high-must’ve nicked his spine. He ran a bit, then went down. Wasn’t mortally wounded but paralyzed in back. By the time I got to him he was trying to run on this front legs draggin’ himself along. So I had to finish him off. (Releases) Forty-nine. Damnedest thing. He was layin’ in this pool a’ water so’s I couldn’t get a true heart shot with him splashing around-kept shootin’ high. Put four arrows in him and he’s layin’ there live as you and me, watchin’. And screamin’. You ever hear a deer scream? Sounds like it wants to whinney like a horse but it just sorta coughs…specially when it’s got an arrow stuck in it’s neck. On my last arrow I heard a lung go-sorta like a whoosh sound-and I knew it was dyin’. So I just watched it lay it’s head down.

PRICE

There’s always a price.

The Price takes Bill’s bow and climbs up in the tree stand.

HANK
(Releases) Fifty. That’s that. Time to get my buck.

BILL

I don’t belong here.

HANK

(Walking off) Who does?

BILL

Hank-don’t go!

PRICE

(In the tree stand she nocks an arrow) Do you know how to lead a deer? A deer that’s running? You put the pin where you want to shoot and you’ll gut shoot him.

She draws on Bill. He screams and runs off.

PRICE

You have to lead him by a good three, four inches.

She releases off, in Bill’s direction. Scream off. She scampers out of the stand and walks off following.

PRICE

(Off) There-got you.

Re-enters dragging Bill on a rope with an arrow lodged in the middle of his back. Much blood. She leaves him center stage and approaches the target. Nocks an arrow and draws.

PRICE

(Releases) One….

FADE

END

“There’s someone here…”

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(Continued from Back to the Hollow)

“Looks like you found me”, she said.

“I think you knew where I was the moment I stepped off my porch.”

“You think I followed you?”

“No-I think you led me here…”

Bent and exposed over the log as he was, he was talking to the leaves and dirt between his hands. Lifting his head high enough to see over his shoulder wasn’t in the cards. He looked for her feet and found them behind him.

“Led you here?” she laughed a young girl’s laugh. “I’ve done everything I could to chase you away. To caution you away…” the log moved as she sat on it facing away from him…”but here you keep winding up.” She slapped him lightly on this upturned rump for emphasis. “What are we going to do with you?”

He felt a presence larger that the girl beside him but he scoured the upside down woods behind himself and could see nothing. But he registered that he usually didn’t see her either.

“What’s your name”, he asked on impulse.

“Tabitha”, she answered easily as if waiting for the query.

“Take me back with you.”

“Back? Where?”

“Where you live. Into the other woods. Through the keyhole.”

“Hah! There is no keyhole anymore.”

“Of course there is, you just moved it is all-or hid it. There’s always a way in.”

She went silent for a moment and he felt her fingers drumming on his butt as she mulled. She shifted into him slightly-he could feel a warmth against his hip.

“Daniel, Daniel….After we whipped you I was sure you wouldn’t be back. I branded you-left my mark” he felt her fingertip touch the tiny handprint on his cheek, “You came back. We came to your house, to whip you and actually do more…” She poked this time at his tight anus which twitched “and you came back….Makes us wonder if you’re coming back for more…”

“It’s not that I’m looking for more of that…”

“Mr. No again.” She slapped him harder on his ass. He yelped in surprise more than pain.  “You’re denying what you want even while chasing it.”

“No. I want something different. This life out here is shot for me. I’ve lived out here for close to thirty years and it’s been no bargain, let me tell you.”

“I bet. You’ve already lived in the dark almost a decade longer than I did…”

“I’ve had enough of it.”

“Everything you’ve gotten before you’ll get more of back there-you realize that.” As if for emphasis she dragged her finger across his asshole again and down between his legs. “That won’t be all, you understand, but there will be that…”

“What do I have to do?” he asked, undeterred.

“Accept it. Accept yourself. Back here you have to say what you mean. What you want, you say. Get it? Back here you have to be who you are.”

They sat in silence her hand resting on the small of his back where he folded over.

“Are you going to whip me now?” he asked.

“I never whipped you…well maybe a few strokes. You wiggled so sweetly…”

“Are you going to fuck me? “

“What would I fuck you with Mr. No? Huh? You doubt that I’m a girl through and through.”

“No.”

“You can get up you know.”

“What?”

“Nothing’s holding you. They’ve all gone off.”

He pushed off the ground and sure enough lifted himself off of the log. Hearing for the first time birds and a soft breeze whispering through the branches he pushed off the log and stood to stretch.

“Now look at this,” Tabitha said from her seat before him. He didn’t need to look; his hard-on stood straight out as if seeking the girl’s face. She took it in hand and pulled him close.

“There is a lot I can give you back here Daniel…as long as you ask for it.”

He asked for nothing right now, just let his head loll back as she gently touched her tongue to the head of his cock…

“You won’t be over quick this time, I hope…”

It had been almost four years since a woman had taken him like this. Even had he remembered it clearly it wouldn’t matter. This was different. Her mouth was beyond warm. Beyond soft. It was melting marshmallow falling off a campfire stick and wrapping itself around him.

He held her head gently and pulled her into him pushing himself deeper into her mouth. Moaning quietly he felt a growing weakness in his legs.

Veronica Palmer had run ahead of her boyfriend. He was a gym athlete-great on the treadmill but the contours of running, or even walking, trails left him in the dust. He had stopped in the clearing below where she had taken off up the hill. He was about to follow when he heard-then saw-her running back down.

“Let’s go!” she said grabbing him by the arm as she passed.

“What? Why?”

“There’s someone here.”

“So?”

“A guy. He’s…masturbating.”

“You sure?”

“Am I….?” She pulled at his arm again. “He’s standing bare-ass, pants at his ankles pulling on his dick. Is that masturbating?”

“Shit. You want me to go say something to him?”

He had finally begun to yield to her pulling when a sound of clicking filled the air. Quietly at first but louder as it seemed to get closer. “Keep moving”, she said. It sounded like sticks or switches clattering together but there was no breeze-nothing was moving.

“Come on”, she hissed as he slowed to listen-to try to get a handle on the noise. Cicadas? As the sound seemed to blanket over them she felt something tingle deep inside of her. As if a seam was rubbing her down there. “Come oooon”, she pulled him by the arm and was just breaking into a jog when-

“Ouch!” She jumped and grabbed the left cheek of her ass.

“What?”

“I got stung…or something. Come on!”

He watched her run in panic for a moment then felt a searing burn across his own ass. He yelped and jumped grabbing his behind.

“Bees!” he yelled, for what else could it have been? “Bees!”

She was faster than he but he did his best to catch up. He hated the fucking woods.

 

Back to the Hollow

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(Continued from “Venus and Mars Are Alright Tonight…”)

He had been a decent tracker as a boy. Could follow a wounded deer across both hollows and up all the creeks if need be. Wouldn’t even need to be wounded. The old men counted on him for this service as their eyesight went and they got more generally decrepit. It wasn’t hard for someone who knew the signs-who could tell when a leaf was standing on edge because something had trod along its stem and lifted it, rather than just spun that way onto the earth. Or when an old acorn had been kicked on top of a newly fallen leaf. That kind of tracking he could manage.

This kind, following someone that seemed to have no weight that seemed to float along on a cushion of air was something different. Any sign that he saw on the ground was wishful thinking. He let his eyes wander up into the scarlet red branches of the pin oaks for all the good then were doing on the ground. He started to get the feeling that the trail wouldn’t lead him anywhere. Which didn’t matter. He wasn’t following at all. He was being directed. Pulled.

Truth though, for what he was doing, he didn’t need tracking or trails. He knew where he was heading. He cut off the main trail early and crossed a patch that would have been impassable two months before. The winnowing of fall had begun in earnest and new paths appeared where there had been thick brush.

Not far along he noticed the silence that roared in and flooded the valley pushing in on his eardrums like water at the bottom of a deep pool. His breathing slowed and nothing moved but for a single tiny leaf at the top of a stripped maple twitching singularly in a disquieting way. He was about to step over a fallen tree when he felt…something in front of him blocking his way. He had a sense of her-but couldn’t feel anything until his lips pressed against his teeth. He opened his mouth and accepted the unseen kiss.

“I knew you would taste sweet”, she said spectrally coming together slowly before him.

“You could have tried it last night”.

“It wasn’t my place or time…”

Maybe this wasn’t either, because she slipped in and out of focus and substance. She seemed there, then she dissipated and he could see the woods through her, then she was gone-having shifted out of the way. He felt a push between his shoulder blades, gentle at first, then stronger-a pressure that pushed him down toward the log as his belt was loosened. He put his hands out to stop himself or grab at his pants but they were useless-pulled away from him as he was lowered firmly over the fallen tree.

He lay over the log breathing deeply and relaxing as best he could focusing on the blanket of leaves between his hands on the ground. He was conscious of the cool sunshine bathing his exposed ass and dripping between his cheeks and flowing over his balls. He wasn’t going to fight. He would be whipped, he might be fucked, but he wasn’t going to fight it.

“Where are you headed Daniel?”

“How do you know my name?”

She didn’t even acknowledge his question. “Where are you going back here?”

“I was looking for you…”

“Looks like you found me.”

 

A Halloween Tail…

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I thought I’d found another faerie keyhole. I really did. But this one was larger-and higher off the ground. Not exactly-well, not at all-sized for me, but fascinating. It didn’t strike me right away that I’d never seen it before and I was in these woods often. Usually around now-late morning or early afternoon when the sun is high and night is far enough ahead and behind to not have to worry.

There was this one time, after I broke up with Nina, that I came up into the Hollow after work with my PJ’s (pint of liquor and joints) and got blissfully, forgetfully high leaning against a large sycamore not too far from that spot. It was a sweet respite from the shitty week until I fell asleep-which would have been OK had I awakened before the sun fell behind the ridge. But I didn’t. I opened my eyes to the first hoots of a great horned owl that I could see a few trees over. His calls were answered by another behind me, then another deeper in the woods. Of course I assumed they were calling out the whereabouts of the trespasser and, on cue three bats flicked above me chasing mosquitoes or checking out the fool who was in the Hollow at dusk.

Then there was one, then another…and I swear a third, rustle in the leaves behind me. I pressed hard against the tree and judged the slope of the hill in front of me. Two things I didn’t want: one, to look behind me and see what was rustling; two, to wait for them to get any closer. I count 1-2-3! bolt upright and go flying down the hill. Behind me a rush of wind-I could feel it-passed me and rattled the branches above. Too busy running, I couldn’t be sure.

There was one glorious fall as I careened my way to the hollow floor. A root-if that’s what it was-grabbed my right foot and, airborne, I watched the ground slip by until, tucking and rolling, I hit the slope and didn’t miss a step-back up and running. I was deep enough into the woods that I had to cross the stream three times as it meandered through the valley which I did in leaps, bounds and splashes stumbling once into the water but churning and digging my way out. I wasn’t in shape to run that far, that fast but I didn’t slow down until I passed the ruins-those old stone foundations and garden walls-from the little village that had disappeared up there ages ago.

But I’m finally out of the woods and calming down and I come across this girl walking toward me on the trail. Loose shorts, work boots, bright pink hair cut in a….page boy thing…

“Pink?”

Yeah, that’s why I thought she was a kid and was about to tell her it was late to be out there when she said “Hi.” Then I saw she wasn’t a child. Not old, but not a child. Maybe our age. Thought it was weird being as late as it was getting. She looked at the mud and water all over me-I’m sweating like an animal- and said, “Some hike huh?” and kept going. She wasn’t waiting for an answer-just saying it.

The next day, I blew it all off to the superior ganja that Shorty had sold me. Aquaponic this and that, whatever. You don’t want to get him talking about his growing methods unless you have an hour. But I’ll give him this: it had me seeing ghosts. Shorty loved that story, took to calling his weed “Casper”.

But that wasn’t on my mind as I circled the tree, trying to judge the size of the opening. Still not my size…but interesting. And it looked like a…narrow at the top and bottom-widening in the middle…like this? It definitely did. What would happen if I boosted a child through it? Or a small woman…it was high enough off the ground that someone small enough to slip through couldn’t reach it. From uphill and downhill, it was the same. The tree bark was tree bark-everything cool and rough to the touch.

From the uphill side the opening was a little better than chest high. I ran my hands along the inside walls then through to the other side. Realizing I’d been holding my breath, I exhaled heavily. Idiot! Nothing. Quickly, I turned and looked up slope behind. Had I heard something? No doubt-in the woods in the fall with the dead leaves, the squirrels, the chipmunks, the deer, the freaking turkeys, you’re always going to hear something. Nothing there but the trees-silent sentinels swaying slightly and contentedly in the here and there breezes.

I put both hands on the sides of the tapered opening. I don’t know what possessed me to think I could fit myself through there. Really, something got me to thinking I just needed to boost myself and get sideways into the widest part. I pulled myself up, scrambling at the tree trunk with my feet. I didn’t have to get too high. First my left arm was through, then my shoulder then-with a struggle and push-my head, knocked my hat off and it falls to the ground on the other side. At least my hat made it across.

Then, I tried to push my right arm through when…listen-I’ve been over this in my mind a lot and know what it sounds like-then the tree tightened around me. I know. But it did. I thought like maybe I had slipped down into the narrow part of the opening-I’m sure I did. Probably. But that fucker tightened around me like a headlock and I was stuck. Just stuck with my left arm, shoulder and head through and my right grabbing and pushing at the tree. I could stand on my toes, so it wasn’t like I was hanging there, but I was freaking hanging there.

Then, just when I knew I couldn’t move, the light began to dim. Like it was getting dark only that shouldn’t be happening for six hours or so. Maybe I was passing out-I was stuck tight but could still breathe. I wasn’t passing out. But then there were the owls-first one, then the other then the other deeper in the woods. Then I remembered that evening from a couple of months before. I’m pushing against the tree with my right hand-trying to yank back with my head-sweating and it’s getting darker! Fast. I could twist and see the sky above the hill and there were stars. And the moon, this bright white crescent behind some clouds that threw enough light that I could see by. Barely. And that’s another thing-there was a daytime moon that day- almost full. This wasn’t right.

“Were there bats this time?”

Don’t know. It was a struggle to look up but I’m pushing and pulling-then I hear it. Them. Those rustles coming down the hill behind me. Sounded like I sound, like people, coming down the hill crushing and kicking the leaves. Don’t know how many-but more than a couple. A lot. Nothing was touching me…not then, but I felt them pushing in. Like to get a better look.  It was windy too-so there was crackling and rustling all over. This time I did try to look back-to spin my head, but all I could see was tree. And ahead of me, the hillside was pretty much swallowed up by the night-just the moonlight shining silver in and out.

Then I heard the voice. “What have we here…?” it whispered. That’s what I think it said anyway. It was mostly wind, the voice I mean. It sounded like wind. But when it spoke, the rustling stopped. And the wind in the trees died. But I could feel something behind me. A lot of somethings. Not breathing so much, as just there.

“I’m sorry.” I said to them.  “Excuse me…can you help me maybe? I’m…..I’m stuck…”

I said this and I heard this tittering and rustling-but not the leaves this time-a rustling in the air around me, like someone shaking things. I don’t know. So I reach back with my free hand, to grab or feel whoever it is and of course, there’s nothing. But then-CLAMP-something grabs my arm. Right here at the wrist. Tight. It’s a soft grip-but hard. I mean, I can’t shake loose but it’s not breaking my bones. It feels hot-but cold. I know, it doesn’t make sense but before I can think of anything else-YANK-whatever it was pulls my arm around the tree to the front and ties it to my left. Ties my hands together-but I can see, right? I’m looking there-I see both hands-don’t see anyone holding me. Then I feel the rope-or leather or whatever-tying me wrist over wrist. Can feel it, but I can’t see anything!

So I ask again-can they help me, I’m stuck. Then she says…

“It’s a woman, then?”

I don’t really know. It’s…something. It’s strong so maybe not. But it sounds…light maybe? Small? Whatever it is, says, “Trying to go someplace you shouldn’t?”

I start talking fast-to the wind for Chrissakes-apologizing, saying I was just checking it out. I knew about these fairy keyholes, my grandma…I’m going through this whole thing just babbling and it says-clearer now-“That’s worse. You know what this is and you were trying to get through. You were trespassing.”

No, really, I told her. I was just curious…I’m trying to explain. And she says, it’s a whisper cause she’s right at my ear, “Trespassers must be punished.”

Then there is all the tittering again and it sounds like a windstorm kicking up behind me, though none of the trees I see are moving. And these…hands are all over me and the one that was talking-I’m sure-wraps around me and undoes my belt. Then my zipper then all these things are yanking and pulling and my pants, then my underwear then everything is down around my ankles. The cool air hits my ass-these things are all tittering…I don’t know. Laughing I’m thinking. I panicked a little. Yanking-trying to get loose, yelling at them to stop…Then the whipping starts.

“Whipping?”

No, no…in the air. Don’t worry, that’s coming, but for now this whipping sound, this whirring sound in the air, which I figure out, just before it becomes obvious, are sticks, you know, tree branches…

“Switches?”

Yeah, switches! So hearing these whipping sounds I get what’s coming and try to scream-to yell for help. I open my mouth and PLOP she jams something in it. Felt like a rag-but nicer. Probably a scarf, I thought then. I can’t yell. Can’t say a word. But I’m thinking, no-no…don’t do this. Thinking it. Thinking no, no. Then the whipping starts-and not in the air this time.

The first crack across my ass burned like fire and I tried to jump but something-they-had my legs. There was no moving-I was pinned there, bare ass to the hillside taking this whipping! There were-I don’t know how many of them and they were all getting cracks-across my ass, from both sides, up and down my legs. Jesus, it hurt. They pulled my legs apart-way apart-and whipped between them…I was yelling and screaming-but nobody could hear with my mouth plugged. All I could do was bite down on the scarf I couldn’t see, squeeze my butt as best I could and wait it out.

“Did you cry?”

I don’t…think so. I don’t know. Here’s the weird part.

“There’s a weirder part?”

It hurt like hell…then…it hurt bad…then…then it started hurting less. They were still hitting-they didn’t let up- but it started to feel like…grass or like whips made of yarn…or…feathers…

“Feathers?”

Something. But it didn’t burn anymore. It didn’t hurt as much. I’m still saying no, no but they kept at it-and it was this flicking now. Not painful, but not tickling either. But it felt….hmmm…

“Go on.”

Well, then they trail off, there’s not as many hitting me. They stop one at a time…until there is only her. Then she stops. But she’s still there.  I felt this leathery grip again. It had to be a hand in a glove, the way it felt. It was small but strong. And it was on my cock which sometime during my whipping had pulled itself away from my leg like a periscope wanting a better look.

“Hard?”

Like they say. Chinese algebra. Banging against the tree trunk.

The voice says, “Your mouth says no. Maybe your head says no. Your heart says no. But this, what does this say Mr. No?” Squeezing me she says “How do you explain this, Mr. No?”

And I couldn’t! What could I say? She held it…she was pulling at it…stroking it. And all these others had their hands or whatevers on me-pushing and rubbing all up and down my butt and legs-between my legs-she was behind me again, but still in front of me pulling and stroking…I was tensing again but not from the whipping…I could feel what was coming.

“Have you learned your lesson, Mr. No?” she whispers. I’m saying yes, but in case she can’t hear I’m nodding fast. “You will not trespass again?” I’m shaking my head side to side hard but Jesus, I’m going to cum. I know I’m going to cum-she or someone grabs my balls from underneath-and I’m losing whatever train of thought she wants me on…”We have one final reminder-for you to take with you…”

Whatever, I’m thinking cause I’m about to blow then, SMACK, she-someone-smacks me right on the ass. SMACK-the hardest swat of the whole thing. My butt’s back to burning like fire but I couldn’t feel it long because I’m going numb from my feet up turning to ice getting set to shoot this load…

“Shhh…not so loud…”

I squeeze my eyes shut so it’s darker than dark and Ba-Boom! I saw stars-golden stars with trails! Never have I…I’m thrusting, bucking, she’s yanking…then I’m falling…I could feel myself screaming more than hear it. The shock of the fall knocked the wind out of me. I might have been knocked out. I’ve been knocked out before-and I’m never sure afterwards if I was out, how long, any of that. I relied on other to fill in those blanks. So I don’t know. What I do know, when I open my eyes its back to being daylight-sunshine, blue sky, I’m looking at the pretty white clouds, all the daytime birds.

My pants were around my ankles and I could feel the dead leaves and twigs of the forest floor poking at my backside and filling up in my crack. And my ass is sore…Without lifting my head I could see where I had painted the tree trunk up and down and all over the leaves. I never came that much in my life! My dick, embarrassed to be caught out in the light of day, was turtling, trying to crawl between my legs.

It strikes me there could be other folks in the woods so I jump up, and I’m wobbly but brush myself off. My ass was sore-I go to brush it and had to stop. Couldn’t see back there, but could feel welts. Damn. And I was shaky, my shoulder hurt-I was stuck in that goddam hole for who knows how long. I just got the hell out of there. Not running-but not wasting time.

Then, I get down to the bottom, cross the streams and am walking by the ruins and I see her again.

“Who?”

That girl that I saw the other time.

“I thought she was a pot-vision.”

I guess not, because there she was-she was on the other side of the ruins-where there’s another trail but not far. I can see her, I know it’s her. Same kind of shorts and work boots…looks like a denim top-maybe even hand-made. She’s got the same kind of hair cut but its robin egg blue now and I almost missed it because she was wearing a hat. And I look…it’s my hat! I put my hand on my head like this-like a moron-I lost my hat up through the tree. She’s wearing it! She stops and waves, say, “How was your hike Mr. No?”

“NO!”

That’s what I heard. I fucking freeze! My face goes cold and I’m standing there with my mouth open like a fucking bird house. What did you say, I asked?

“How was your hike? How far did you go?”

I babbled something about not far, just up the stream a little. She’s smiling and I see a scarf around her neck. She’s wearing a scarf and I gulped. If I went over to her, would it be wet?

“You didn’t though, did you?”

No way. I picked up the pace, let me tell you. I wanted the hell out of there!

“Did you go back up?”

Sure, couple days later. Just to see if my hat was still there. But no. No hat. No keyhole either. It was gone. The tree was still there…least I think it was the tree. But there was no opening-not in that tree or any around there.

“And your butt?”

It was pretty marked up when I got home and looked in the mirror. Bruises and welts-sore for a couple of days, but then they faded. Except for the one…

“Which?”

That one swat-at the end. It left a mark-like a little handprint….It’s still there.

“Still?”

Yeah. Like a tattoo. I’m wondering if it’s there forever.

“I gotta see that.”

Right.

“Really.”

Here?

“Maybe somewhere more private. I’m only a couple of blocks up.”

I waved the waitress over.