Spying on sister in bathroom

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2020.09.24 12:52 idontlikecheesy Spying on sister in bathroom

I remember one time when I was young my sister and I were playing spies. I was trying to spy on her. I thought I heard her talking in the bathroom but there were no lights on in the bathroom which I thought was strange because she was scared of the dark at the time. I didn’t mind it too much though I just decided to go along with it. So I was standing at the open door thinking she was behind it. I was planning on jumping out and scaring her. But when happened was something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It was either an old woman or a young girl, I can’t tell which that walked out from behind the door. They were hunched over and had a long white dress. Their black hair was behind them and it exposed their face which was yellow and rotting off. They didn’t make any noise they just walked towards me. I freaked out and went to get my sister who was in her room the whole time. We ran outside and I didn’t see it when we passed the bathroom again. I don’t really have a logical explanation either. It could’ve been my imagination but it was so vivid. If anyone has an explanation or an idea of what it could be I’d appreciate it very much.
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2020.09.23 02:14 Jjustingraham Spying on sister in bathroom

Lillian and Youssef met in June of 2011, fell in love and eloped to Eden Prairie by November. She only told me after they moved in with Ben and I back in Minneapolis after Christmas, giggling over a glass of wine and showing off the modest ring; I remember being surprised that Youssef was able to afford one given that he’d only ever worked gig jobs, but I guess love found a way. She didn’t know how to tell Mom and Dad – she wasn’t scared to tell them, I mean, they knew who he was and how much she liked him, but he was a Muslim and they didn’t approve. “I don’t care what they think, really, but they do have a right to know.” She had been so full of energy and emotion, and her skin turned pink, then red, every single time he was in the room. It was love, and whether I or anyone else approved, it was real for her. So I was happy for her because there really wasn’t another choice, was there?
A couple of months later, Youssef found a job as a software developer in Chanhassen, and they moved out. She took me out to see the apartment they’d rented – it was nice, furnished, small, a “place to start” as she’d put it. Four months later they disappeared. Her landlord contacted me because they hadn’t paid their rent and left in the middle of the month and stole a couple of lamps and an armchair. They’d damaged the standing wardrobe trying to detach it from the wall, I guessed they’d tried to take it too, but gave up part way. He was furious and wanted to know who was going to compensate him. I hung up.
We called her, but the number was disconnected; we went to her work (she’d just started as an office manager at some furniture store) and Youssef’s, and in both cases they had just…not shown up. Neither had any credit cards, but they had liquidated their savings and checking accounts over three weeks. We found out later that Youssef had borrowed $3000 from a friend, whom he’d lied to, saying that he needed to buy a car. The police suspected foul play, but I knew in my heart what had really happened.
I eventually got a message from Lil on Facebook: I’m fine, we’re both fine and so happy. We realized that the life we could have in the States wasn’t what either of us wanted out of it. We are going to Turkey to spend time with his family and figure out what path we want to follow. I love you so much, tell Mom and Dad and Ben I love all of you, and I’ll talk to you soon. She didn’t know Ben and I had broken up because I hadn’t gotten around to telling her. A few hours later, she deleted her Facebook account. Like, permanently, not when you temporarily deactivate it to get some space from social media.
I knew that her message was bullshit.
It wasn’t a surprise when DHS came to visit us. She and Youssef had flown to Ankara but then fell off the grid before being photographed crossing into Syria. From there, the trail vanished. That was it, she was gone. Dad lost it and drove out in the middle of the night to Youssef’s brother’s place in Minneapolis and demanded to know what happened. We were woken up by the cops at three AM – Dad had been arrested for aggravated assault. He had waited outside Suleiman’s walkup and caught him coming home from a bar, breaking his ribs, nose and jaw. The police had to investigate it as a hate crime because Suleiman’s girlfriend insisted that he’d used racist language while slamming Suleiman’s head against a lamp post. I lied and said my Dad wasn’t racist and had been happy that Lillian had married Youssef, he was just angry he’d lost his baby girl. My Mom, because she had always been that way, never said a thing. She enabled my Dad for every minute of their forty years before he ran a red and was T-boned two years later, but that’s not why I’m writing this here.
“Your sister is dead.”
It had been almost eight years since Lillian and Youssef disappeared. We pestered the Government for every possible update for every moment of every day since they told us that Youssef had most likely joined ISIS and had gotten nowhere. “Is it because you don’t want to tell us, or you don’t fucking know?” Dad had snapped at the last one over the phone. They didn’t take our calls much after that.
So to have this Agent Smith cosplayer sit across the table - after I’d gotten the call pulling me out of work to come downtown and wait in the fucking lobby for almost three hours to talk to somebody - and just tell me that like he was asking if I knew how to fix a computer was infuriating. But, I had learned that the best way to deal with the Government and their flunkies was to internalize it, and just be bland. It…it was hard.
“What happened to her?”
He didn’t answer me. I remembered being in Vertebrate Biology in my third year of University when we dissected large feral cats in the lab, and the cold and clinical way the Instructor had shown us how to crack the ribs and pin them open so we could root through the poor thing’s guts. This dickhead had the same look my Instructor did.
“Have you had any communication with your sister since she and her husband left the United States? On social media? Email? Did she send you any physical correspondence?”
I said no. I told them that we had tried everything possible to find her, that Mom and I had actually traveled to Turkey after Dad’s death to try and find Youssef’s family - only to find out he hadn’t any. How Youssef’s brother had moved to Madison and changed all his contact information so we’d leave him alone. About how we’d basically lived in the DHS’ lobby for months, begging for anything they could give us. He just jotted everything down with a distant, placid expression. The weight of everything began to weigh down on me and my emotions ran down my face and onto the table. He offered me a tissue, and eventually just gave me the box.
“Please, you need to tell me what happened to her. Please.”
Agent Smith cleared his throat. “Your sister and her husband joined ISIS forces in Syria. We believe her husband was killed during the capture of Baghuz Fawqani in March of last year. She surrendered to American forces during the fighting and was moved to an internment camp where she was…questioned. She committed suicide on September 25th.”
September 25th. That was a Wednesday, wasn’t Anna’s party at the end of the week? What was I doing on the 25th?
“I’m truly sorry for your loss.” It was the first and only time he showed emotion, and he followed that up by closing his notebook, standing up and walking towards the door. Didn’t even offer me a handshake, not that I think I could’ve accepted it, I saw how much sweat he left on the door knob.
I was working late. I was doing month end accounts. I was doing month end accounts on the same day Lillian killed herself.
***
I tried to contact Mom, but couldn’t get through, the line was tied up. I didn’t really know what to say. My mind always went to macabre humour when bad things happened. “Sorry mom, Lillian killed herself. But you did get a 2 for 1 deal on babies with your only successful pregnancy, so I guess you came out even!” I had to pull over so that I could cry. I’d become emotional in that room, but now everything shot through me at once, like a knife rooting through my insides. I felt like the cats. I vomited and cried and then vomited some more. I didn’t think I could drive home, so I had to call my husband Adam to come get me. I could barely talk, I’m sure he went from zero to panic instantly when he heard me just moaning into the phone. I felt bad about it later, but I couldn’t do anything at the time, could I? I would’ve driven into a crowded crosswalk; I could hardly see straight.
Work was very understanding, they allowed me to take as much time off as I needed. Adam and I barely took any time off since the last round of IVF failed, so we had more than enough banked to stay home for a few weeks. For the first two nights I cried and he held me. He took Mom’s call when she tried to reach me back later the first night, because I just couldn’t do it. I hated that I was doing this to him, I hated watching his face implode as Mom came apart on the other end of the phone. I hated myself, I hated the Government, I hated Lil, and I fucking hated Youssef. I knew he was dead, but I wanted to destroy him.
“I hope he suffered. I hope that he died in fucking pain. I hope whatever happened to him hurt, a lot.”
Adam held my head and cooed, reassuring me that everything was okay, and that it was perfectly normal for me to feel the way I felt when my violent thoughts curdled into self loathing. Slowly my thoughts shifted from my hatred to my loss.
Talking to Mom was hard. I wanted to have a funeral and a celebration of life for Lillian, but Mom didn’t want to. It had been hard for her, losing Dad, and now to have Lillian’s death, which we had been living with in a way, be so violently confirmed…it was hard.
“I just can’t see you right now Melanie. I love you, but when I see you, I see your sister, and I see both of you as little girls when I couldn’t tell you apart while changing your diapers. I just, I love you but I need time.” I understood, and I wanted to support her, but I needed my mother too, and having her tell me not to come home, to the house I grew up in, that was agonizing.
I was sealed off in this bubble, with nobody but Adam to talk to, and when he had to go back to work, it was just me, at home, by myself. I worked some things out with my company, and they allowed me to telecommute four days a week, which was great, but I was alone. So my mind just went places dark, fast.
***
“How do we know she actually killed herself?”
The question had been marinating in my head all day, and I ambushed Adam with it over breakfast for dinner that I’d burnt.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, how do we know she actually killed herself? That’s not Lil, she would’ve never done that. She was so strong, stronger than I ever was. She loved life, she radiated life. Why would she kill herself? What if our troops executed her for being a war bride and then covered it up?”
Adam sighed. I remember how crestfallen he looked at that moment, as though he’d been thinking of the same things for some time.
“She was over there for almost ten years Mel. I mean, you knew her for the first eighteen years of her life, and she spent the next ten over there, basically. She might have been a completely different person, she might have seen and gone through such awful shit. Have you read about what kinds of animals those people were? You can’t know what she must have gone through to put her where she ended up.”
It pissed me off to hear him talk like that, but he was right, I knew. My memory of Lil had been preserved in amber; I didn’t really know her anymore. I didn’t know the sad woman whom they said took her own life a couple of months ago while I was doing expense reports. That thought started eating me, and it found plenty of meat.
I started harassing DHS again. I called them twice a day, every day and filed several FOI requests to gain access to whatever information they had on my sister. I remembered that when Agent Smith told me about Lil’s death, he’d leafed through what looked like a tan case folder. I wanted to see that folder. They said no. Then said it again, and again. The FOI requests didn’t help much either. I filed four in November and they were rejected by Christmas. “Matters pertaining to National Security.”
***
The reason I’m writing this all out here is because of what happened a couple of nights ago. I woke up in the middle of the night to pee, and realized I had a text when I reflexively checked my phone.
From: Unknown
Don’t respond to this message. Add me on Signal - [REDACTED]
I didn’t recognize the number, and it didn’t sound like a classic case of wrong number-it is. I didn’t use Signal, but I knew it was an encrypted messaging app, so all of this seemed very mysterious. I was confused and intrigued, so I decided I’d give it a shot. After making sure Adam was still asleep, I took my phone into the bathroom and downloaded the app, then added the unknown number. I knew that whomever messaged me knew who I was, but just in case they didn’t I didn’t want to use my real name. So I named myself Miles Kennefick (the first thing that popped into my head) and messaged the unknown number.
MK: You interested in Chinese microprocessors?
I waited for the Unknown number to message me back, but they didn’t. It was getting late and I couldn’t stay awake too much longer, so I put my phone on silent and went to sleep.
Nobody had messaged me back by morning and I began to think of myself as an idiot. Was someone just bullshitting me? Did my “this sounds clever at 2 AM” spy code throw the Unknown person off? Should I just text them back on the number they gave me via SMS? Then my hands started to run cold – did I piss off someone with all my inquiring about Lil? Was this, like, an ISIS sleeper agent trying to target me? Had I just given away our location by messaging back? As I kissed Adam on his way out the door, I felt nothing but revulsion for myself, for everything I’d done. For how I’d treated Lil when she was still alive, and with us.
I’d seen a grief counsellor briefly after Lil originally disappeared. They told me that it was natural for grief to…fundamentally change a person. That it was normal for the bereaved to become a version of themselves that they didn’t recognize, that they may even dislike. I remembered how I’d started to become more like Dad – how I’d snap at every little thing, how I escalated in anger and paranoia at the drop of a hat, how everything in the world felt tasteless and grey and disgusting no matter what I did.
Adam changed all of that for me. I’d moved out of my parent’s place after finding a new job, and met Adam after going to a bar with my new coworkers. He felt fresh, and honest, and wasn’t in any way tied to my old life, which was saturated with guilt and shame and Lil. He was cute, he was funny, and he was so smart and loving. He made me feel loved, as though I was worthy of having a real life, the type of life that Lillian thought she could have with Youssef. Dad’s death further distanced me from the toxic energy of that loss, and I’d started to build a new relationship with Mom that silently acknowledged our shared pain, but didn’t dwell on it. Through all of that, I had Adam to lean on. And I didn’t just lean. I grew. I became the type of partner that he deserved to have.
Losing Lil a second time now infected my new life, the life I’d built with Adam. All those old sour feelings rushed back, filling my mouth with bile and head with sawdust. I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I decided to delete the app, and the text, and forget about all of it –
You have one (1) new message.
I looked at the notification, unsure if I wanted to read it at all. I began to hyperventilate, which the counsellor had told me was an effective immediate coping strategy because it helped you center yourself. When I was ready, I decided to read the message.
From: [REDACTED]
If you want to know what happened to your sister, come to CC Club at nine tomorrow night. Come alone. I’ll introduce myself.
I knew CCs, it was down on Lyndale. I think I’d been there once or twice to use the jukebox with some friends and colleagues. It was the type of place you could go and get lost in, which made sense but also scared me. I didn’t want to be on the news as a body being fished out of the Upper Mississippi. But I needed to know what happened to Lil.
I told Adam that I was going to head out with some of the girls to take my mind off things. I didn’t want him to know what I was doing, because he’d rightfully insist on coming along, and I was terrified of scaring the Unknown caller off. I just couldn’t take the chance. He was happy that I was doing something to take my mind off Lil. Trying to match his smile made me feel sick.
We lived near U of M, so I had to drive into downtown on the 94 and get off going southwest. I parked a few blocks away at the Red Dragon restaurant and took a cab the rest of the way. I didn’t want whoever it was to see what kind of car I drove, or try and follow me. In hindsight, I made it harder for myself to make a quick escape if I needed to, but something about the secrecy of all this put me on edge. When I got to CCs around 8:30 the place was packed and I couldn’t find a seat. I wanted to get there early to find a spot that felt safe and scope out the crowd, but now I felt overwhelmed by the number of people. It was loud – between the clatter of dishes, drinks, the jukebox and people, it was oppressive and intimidating. I didn’t know who I was there to see, I didn’t know what they looked like, and I wasn’t even sure they’d be able to find me.
I managed to snag a spot at the bar after about twenty minutes and began nursing a drink. I didn’t want to get drunk, but needed to take the edge off my anxiety. The bartender was cute and played his flirt for tips routine that I engaged in for fifteen seconds before returning to the drink. Some other asshole then decided to flirt for real, getting uncomfortably close and whisper yelling in my ear.
“Hey, you look all alone, wanna get out of here?”
I didn’t bother looking at him. “Fuck off, dude.”
“Uff-da! You sure about that? I’m friendly.”
That set me off. I spun at him, pissing venom – “Listen asshole-“
It was Agent Smith. He looked like a real human being.
“You sure about that? I’d love to buy you another drink.”
My brain farted for a second, it was hard to reconcile the sweaty pencil neck I knew from the Minnesota creepy nice guy in front of me. He held out a hand and I noticed he had a briefcase in his other one.
***
We found a quiet and cozy eatery a few blocks away, walking in silence the whole way. He nervously attempted to light his cigarette five or six times before succeeding, but had to promptly put it out when we stepped into the new place, found a booth near the back and ordered two diet cokes. He kept his parka and knit cap on. I kept my phone in my hand under the table, finger hovering over 911 on my speed dial as he began whisper-talking in the same semi-nervous and detached disposition I remembered.
“You need to stop calling us.”
“Why?”
“Your sister’s case was…delicate. She had several details in her deposition regarding troop movements that we cannot release to the public. She also described…acts of war that we don’t think the public needs to know about. For PR reasons.”
I didn’t care about any of that. “Did she actually kill herself?” I felt myself snarling.
His face betrayed his sympathy. “She did. I’m genuinely sorry. Look, I don’t want to slander your sister, and I’m empathetic to what you’ve gone through. What you’re going thr-“
“You don’t know shit about me!”
I knew I reacted extremely, and I could feel the other eyes in the diner on us. I didn’t care. “You assholes think you know everything, that you-“
“I lost my brother over there. He stepped on an IED on his third deployment. My mother committed suicide because of it. I know what you’re going through.”
The almost casual way he said it didn’t just stop me in my tracks, it hurt. I felt bad, but still vindictive. Glad that he hurt as much as I did. He leaned in.
“It’s because I know how you feel that I asked you to meet me. If you keep making requests, your name is going to get flagged. You are going to be placed on a watchlist. And not just you – your friends and family. Your husband. You don’t need or want that. I want to help you.”
He swung the briefcase up and laid it gently on the table.
“Your sister was a disturbed person. I don’t think you will find closure in this, in fact, I strongly recommend that you don’t read any of it. But if you want to understand what happened to her badly enough, then yes, you can read it. My only request is that you destroy it after. This is low level classified information; I’ve redacted some of the details myself so it is safe for your reading, but I wouldn’t recommend you publicize this.”
He pulled out his wallet and left money on the table, then wiped the lip of his drink glass with a handkerchief that he pocketed. I only realized then that he’d been wearing gloves the entire time.
“This should cover the bill. Get home safe. Can I pay for your cab fare back to the restaurant?”
I shook with anger, trying to process everything that he just told me, and my embarrassment at having been caught out. I just shook my head and he nodded, then left.
***
I got home about forty-five minutes ago. It’s hard to stop my knees from shaking and I’m exhausted from crying. I couldn’t overcome my curiosity when I got into the cab back to my car and had opened the briefcase to start going through the materials before I almost threw up all over the seat and had to stop.
My sister didn’t just commit suicide.
Lil had been interned in a POW camp in Syria for six months and hoarded the little plastic forks she got with her meals. The guards had done a bed check at 7 PM and discovered her the next morning at 8 AM. She had been dead for no more than two hours.
She had disemboweled herself. She used the forks to rhythmically tear herself open over the course of eleven fucking hours without making a sound. When they found her, the ropes of intestines that had fallen out of her body had only just started to cool.
And she was pregnant.
submitted by Jjustingraham to Odd_directions [link] [comments]


2020.09.19 23:44 TheLizardQueen84 Spying on sister in bathroom

"All things must change to something new, to something strange."
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I used to feel like I needed to share my side of the story to keep the facts straight. Now I don't care what others choose to believe. The need to warn others offered a job at Tabula Rasa Ranch outweighs the non-disclosure agreement I signed. The company refuses to disclose the true inner workings. The owner remains the same. She hires on new employees due to the quick turn over from frequent quitting or untimely demises. As a cover, she has someone else in the spotlight as the new owner of the ranch.

Tabula Rasa Ranch has remained out of the newspapers and headlines because of major payoffs over the decades. It isn't in the headlines like the infamous ranch in Northern Utah. The newspaper in Kanab left out the exact location my best friend disappeared in and only alluded to it being on a hike in Zion National Park. It was on the privately owned land the park had permission to cross to get to the infamous Arches.

My hope is to caution others from crossing through the private land. It isn't worth traipsing through to see the stunning Arches. Camping nearby the private land isn't a good idea either. I know the idea of exploring a national park during the coronavirus is tempting, but following Hop Valley Trail through the land the park can't obtain is advised against. Over the years newspapers have been making a big deal out of buying out the private land, but the fight for it is an illusion. More people are aware of the operations of the ranch, but unwilling to divulge the details out of fear of losing out on money for the upkeep of the park.

Springdale is another small, sleepy town in Southern Utah, nothing to write home about. It rests on the eastern side of Zion National Park. I park in the lot of a small shopping center littered with nail and hair salons, inexpensive takeout, clothing stores and tourist traps.
I exit the car and pluck a white flower from a decorative pot beside the sidewalk. I slip it through a pin holding the right side of my back for luck. The set of stairs leading up to the second floor turns halfway up. I take the opportunity to withdraw a pale blue flask from my purse and indulge in a long swig to calm my nerves. Next, a cinnamon breath mint and sprayed of perfume over my clothes for extra measure. I shake my gloved hands in an attempt to relax, inhale, and climb the stairs.
The suite encompasses the entire small second floor. The windows are covered with long curtains and the glass door is shielded with white blinds. Only the suite number is etched on the front door. I press the door bell on the divider between the door and windows.
The door opens a crack a few beats later. I smooth my hands over my black and white plaid dress pants. A man clears his throat from the space separating us. A long silence evades before the door swings open to reveal a tall man standing aside in a wide foyer. He wears a white button-up shirt underneath an expensive gray vest and ironed matching slacks. His dark hair is tied back in a low ponytail. He holds the door open. I enter the air-conditioned suite, despite every cell in my body encouraging me to flee.
"Luna Luster?" the man asks, closing the door behind us. His smile is sardonic as he extends his hand. "Was your mother a hippie misplaced in time or did you change your name yourself?"
I tilt my head and try my best not to let my face sour. I stare at his waiting hand instead because his rude remark makes it easier to evade contact. His cologne is earthy and expensive, full of hidden motives with notes of sandalwood. "So original."
"I take it you get the question a lot. I'm the superintendent of Tabula Rasa Ranch, Ambrose Reed." He shifts uncomfortably in the stark silence and lowers his hand. "Please follow me to the office. Would you like a cup of coffee?"
"Uh, sure."
I trail behind him through a narrow hallway and pass an open living room. There's two closed doors to the right, three on the left-hand side and the second door on the left is open. The hall ahead of us displays a spacious kitchen. We turn into the open room on the left. The office is white and void of personal photographs or sentimental items. Five bright abstract framed paintings grace the walls. Ambrose stops at a light stained wooden table with a fancy coffee machine and condiments next to the door. I stand on the pristine white carpet, knotting my fingers together.
"Have a seat. How do you like your coffee?"
"Black. Two sugars."
A side of the cherry wood desk rests against the wall with a plush chair underneath it. An open laptop, clunky landline phone, and two coasters are on the desk. I sit on a white plastic chair across the desk. I shift in the chair in an attempt to distract myself before the interrogation begins. Ambrose places a black mug on each coaster, then seats himself in the swivel chair.
"Thank you," I say, but don't pick up the mug.
"Why are you wearing gloves?"
"Off the record? I'm a germaphobe."
He nods, seeming to accept the answer and takes stack of papers from a drawer. He starts with typical interview questions that blur together in a flurry. What was your first job? What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses? Can you tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult person?
So forth and so on. All the questions I've heard since I started working at sixteen years old whirl by until there's red flag.
"Tell me a little about yourself."
I stare at him. "I'd rather not, but I kinda need this job."
He doesn't respond for a minute and stares at the laptop screen with a deep frown. "What can you tell me about the gaps in your employment history?"
"Pardon me?"
"You didn't include your paid work on the side with the Salt Lake City Police Department. You cited government work as a forensic botanist before some unlisted department work." Ambrose pauses to gauge my expression. His wide-set eyes dart to focus on the laptop screen. "We were very thorough before offering a follow-up interview."
"If you consider a faceless phone call an interview."
"A mere formality. I was against requesting a callback, but the owner wanted an interview for some reason. She greased a few wheels to find out why you didn't include your work in the achievements of your resume."
"It didn't seem relevant," I say, smoothing my hands over my pants to keep from wringing them together. Mentioning being able to see lingering spirits would end the job interview. Most of Kanab already think I live in cloudcuckooland. I know it's because of my unwanted gifts. Revealing the information would make a fresh start redundant.
The locals are kind enough to gossip when I'm out of earshot. It doesn't stop others who spin tales composed of a few gems. Newcomers think of me as the child abandoned by her mother, raised by her grandmother and aunt. Spooky Little Luna ostracized herself from others by revealing details and thoughts. No one spread the news about my perfect grades or talent with art but spoke of my brittle and barbed tongue. It didn't deter my friend, Byeol, from spending every free moment with me from the fourth grade on up. Only her death parted us.
Several dead-end jobs in the city forced me to move back to Kanab. Still, it doesn't look good for Spooky Luna to live with her aunt without a job. It makes people chatter and wonder after each local job didn't work out and my paper trail of employment doesn't help.
"A thorough background check revealed a few things. You became an independent consultant without any prior experience with investigating. The owner wanted to know the duties you performed during your brief stint at the department. It would make more sense if you were working as a forensic botanist with your degree."
"I can't provide the information you want. I signed a non-disclosure document."
No need for him to know I'd lowered myself and passed myself off as a psychic to the Salt Lake City Police Department. There were plenty of photos in the newspaper with me in the background of police officers. I was paid as a consultant on the books. The department only used my services when backed into a corner. Sometimes I gleaned details off of spirits or things I'd noticed with my extra keen eye. It was easier to pass my gifts off in the guise of a psychic than telling the truth. No one wants to hire a woman who claimed to see fragments of the dead or photogenic abilities. If I divulged my gifts, Ambrose might write me off as crazy and end the interview.
"Which is something my employer values."
At a loss for a response, I lean forward to pick up the steaming mug from the desk. The familiar beverage soothes my nerves with each careful sip. Ambrose shuffles through the papers. He studies a paper before resuming.
"What do you know about the location?"
"I've been going to Zion for most of my life. I'm from Kanab, after all. I've only gone through the land briefly on a hike and to reach a nearby campground."
"There's been some whispers."
A chill runs down my back. The whispers could only be about one thing. The news didn't point out where the disappearance occurred and didn't detail about the encounter. It did however elude to the police suspecting my involvement in my best friend's disappearance and my following stint in a mental institution. I shift uncomfortably in my seat, divert my eyes away from his and sip on coffee. It's difficult to resist the urge to spy on his thoughts.
Ambrose leans back in his chair and watches the screen for a long time. "What do the new rumors said?"
I hesitate. "I heard about the new owner taking more of an interest in the ranch a few years ago. The rumors about the park trying to purchase the land isn't anything new."
His face remains blank and unreadable as he assesses my response.
I set the coffee back down, pick up my purse, and stand up. "It's been swell. Look, I'm sorry I wasted your-"
"How do you feel about being wired on a daily basis for liability purposes?" Ambrose interrupts.
"Are you recording now?"
"The founder is on a one-way voice chat to give her input. The recording is for future records, should you pass the final interview."
"Wait, if I take the job, I'm going to under surveillance at all times?" I ask, sitting back down.
"For liability purposes."
"The salary Miss Giles offered on the phone would make more than recording worth it." I pause before continuing. "Listen, am I under surveillance for my history with the police department? Or for forensic botany? Or-"
The landline phone rings once and Ambrose picks it up.
"Are you sure?" Ambrose pauses for a long time. "Yes, ma'am. I understand. Thank you." He hung the phone up with a tight smile. "It seems you're hired, Miss Luster."
I can't conceal my smile. "When do I start?"
"Monday. I'll email you the rules and directions to the ranch. You need to move in by tomorrow afternoon so you have the weekend to get settled. Stop by the main homestead with your belongings. The furnished living quarters are due to depth. I'll have your bunker assignment along with some clearance badges you'll need for your first day. You'll be shadowing Orion Rist during your first week here. He'll have your work schedule. Your job will initially consist of watching live and unrecorded security footage. You'll take notes until you're familiar with the protocol and land." He pauses, looking me over. "The dress code is casual, within reason, of course."
"Do you like it there?"
He seems taken aback by my query and searches my face before responding. "The gig pays well. The employees are a colorful bunch and you'll never get bored." Ambrose opens a drawer, sets a stack of a stapled of papers and slides them across the desk in my direction. "Look over the pages before signing, please."
The two pages consist of a non-disclosure agreement. I carefully look over the contents before signing at the bottom. The next page is a suspicious injury waiver, but promises an on-site emergency center. I sign it after memorizing the document. Health care kicks in immediately, not in a standard ninety days most jobs require. It gives me a brief pause. Nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Ambrose stands up and crosses over to me. I join him, unsure of where it was going. He reaches for my hand and envelopes his warm one with mine. I can smell the cologne wafting off him. "Welcome to Tabula Rasa Ranch, Miss Luster."
Worst of all, the gloves fail to do their job and his thoughts flood in with the forced handshake. I don't know why Miriam is thinking about hiring her. Are you kidding me? She communed with spirits and helped the police department? What a load of bullshit. She has to be some kind of hack or fraud. I bet she falsified her so-called degree in forensic botany. What if she murdered her friend?
Ambrose's thoughts are a mix of Korean and English. I'd learned from my best friend growing up so we could have a language our peers couldn't break. It rarely comes in handy in Utah, but it ensured an unbreakable code.
"Cheer up fuckface. You might like me in due time." I twist my hand away from his. Ambrose's face warps in surprise. I pick up my purse before he can get the last word in and head for the door. "I'll see you tomorrow."
I exit the suite cursing under my breath. I retreat to my old but trusty black Dodge 1971 Charger. I toss my purse on the passenger seat, fire up the engine and a song by The Damned fills the speakers. I screamed in frustration over picking up on his thoughts. Fucking gloves didn't do their job. It's always hit or miss if the gloves are thick enough to keep inner thoughts from invading my space. I open my purse, take out the flask, and indulge in a five-second gulp of vodka. The burn almost pushes away Ambrose's toxic thoughts. Key word being almost.
Nearly an hour later, I stop in front of a two-story house on the outskirts of Kanab. I smile at the sight of the youthful fifty-year-old woman sitting on the steps. Her dark hair is pulled up in a loose bun at the nape of her long neck.
"How did it go?" Aunt Chloe asks, standing up with a warm smile.
"I got it!"
We retreat inside and Aunt Chloe brews coffee as I secretly take a long swig of vodka. I fill her in on the information Ambrose gave me but keep out hearing his thoughts. She catches me up on her day while making two turkey and tomato sandwiches with chips for an early dinner.
After dinner, I escape for the basement to pack. My blue pitbull, Poppy, barks when I open the door. Flora marks my legs and cries for attention once Poppy finishes greeting me. I spend half an hour paying attention to them before packing. It takes three hours to pack everything I want to take to the ranch. A few iced screwdrivers help sleep arrive. In no time I fall asleep surrounded by Poppy and Flora.
It's around noon by the time we finish loading the trailer attached it to the car. It is filled with boxes and crates of records with Aunt Chloe's help. We push the last heavy box into the trailer when something thuds on the tin-top several times. My aunt exits the trailer to explore. I shrug it off and resume stacking the smaller boxes around in a more stable order.
"Luna. You need to see this."
She warns me to watch my step and holds a hand out to ensure a stable landing. Several dead crows are splayed around the car with bent, broken wings. Small pools of blood leak from beaks and half of their feathers are scattered around them. The stench is reminiscent of roadkill roasting on the side of the road for at least a week. We back away from the trailer to see how far around the dead birds are. I count thirteen birds in a circle around the car and trailer.
"Luna, we need to go see Gracie before you hit the road. She had a dream about you the other night. I don't think your taking the job is a good idea."
"And live off your pension? Even the local deli rejected my request for an interview. I was lucky to land this job and it pays well."
"Sometimes it isn't worth it. You can find a legitimate job online and work from home. Try to find someone in town hiring. Have you gone through your savings?"
"I tried that. There's no such thing as pennies from heaven. Besides, I tried in Kanab and St George. It seems my reputation precedes me. No one will hire me because they think I'm too spooky. I have enough bread to live comfortably until I die, but only if I die next Friday."
Aunt Chloe tucks her loose hair behind her ears and sighs, knowing it's a fight she can't win. We let Poppy loose and carry Flora's crate back into the house.
My aunt drives us to Gracie's in her faded black truck in about ten minutes. 'Gracie's Apothecary' is lit up in cursive neon letters on top of the small store, and stands out in the dim afternoon. Our footsteps echo on the steel steps to the wooden door, where the name is embellished on a clear window. The familiar tinkle of the bell does little to set my mind at ease, but the strong scent of lavender incense helps. The apothecary is a slender ten by ten space. A beaded curtain leads to more merchandise in the back of the store. Bright yellow walls have shelves lined with labeled wire baskets. Pegged supplies hang below them.
A little woman in her late sixties with long, curly white hair greets us with a bright smile. She inquires about how we are doing. Aunt Chloe tells her about the dead crows, picking up a mesh shopping basket along the way.
"That is troubling. Are you sure you want to take the job? You could work here part-time." Gracie says, frowning. "The dream I had didn't indicate anything about the job being a bad choice. At least from the context of it."
"I need to do something. I've been going stir-crazy. You don't want to hire me and drive away people, trust me."
"Nettie?" Gracie calls back into the office behind her. "I need you to take over while I help Chloe and Luna."
A pretty and thin, dark-haired teenager pops her head out and stands behind the register with a nod. Gracie leads us to a section with a variety of sage bundles in baskets on one of the tables below the shelves. Aunt Chloe collects large bundles of white, blue and black sage. She sets the bundles in the shopping basket, asking if Gracie has any other suggestions. Gracie's wrinkled forehead pinches together in thought. She selects up a light brown, medium bundle of sage that smells a bit peppery.
"Desert sage is for cleansing and purifying, protection, and inner strength. It draws in pleasant thoughts, relieves headaches and anxiety," she explains, handing my aunt the bundle.
"Is there anything else for protection?"
Gracie picks up a greenish-brown bundle with a woodsy and fresh scent. "Cedar recalls ancient forests and invokes their protection and wisdom. Smudging this carries a medicine of protection. You should cleanse your new home upon moving in to invite unwanted spirits to leave. It can help protect you, the place, and objects from unwanted influences. It's the most aggressive cleansing smudge."
She invites us to sit and talk over a cup of tea. We pass through thick purple wooden beads concealing an archway to the back section of the store. We seat ourselves at a small round table with three chairs. Gracie starts up a pot of loose leaf tea on a hot plate on a counter nearby the small table in the corner of the room.
"I thought it was unusual that you showed up in my dreams last night," she says, sitting down and facing me. "You were sitting on the bench in the front, drawing on a sketchpad while I was working. You came to show me the exterior sketches of the shop for a new launch of the website. I didn't see anything ominous."
I frown.
"Nothing symbolic in what Luna was wearing?" Aunt Chloe asks, leaning forward.
"She wore a black band shirt and had on Gemma's necklace. Luna didn't have anything on out of the ordinary."
"Other than smudging, what can we do to protect her?"
"I can find some talismans, charmed stones and candles after we have our tea. There isn't much else I can do because I'm not sure what the threat is. What did the land feel like? I mean from walking on it years ago."
The kettle whistles and Gracie prepared a tray. I try my best to describe the heavy aura of the land, only to receive another frown. She carries the tray with three cups of tea on saucers, cream, and sugar to the table. She places our cups on saucers in front of each of us. I fiddle with the dark purple tassels on the edge of the table cloth as Aunt Chloe insists that my taking the job is a bad idea.
I fail to mention the lengthy non-disclosure document or injury waiver I signed earlier, but there's no reason to raise anymore red flags.
The broken and bloodied wings of the crows scratch at the back of my mind. My aunt touches my arm gently, bringing me back to earth. Gracie points out the tea is cool enough to drink. I stir the mostly clear, tinted green tea. It soothes my throat as the pair catch up on town gossip and Gracie fills my aunt in on her own life. I trace the golden rim of the painted floral teacup, peering at the vortex of swirling tea leaves falling to the bottom. Aunt Chloe nudges me after the conversation falls silent.
"I have a bad feeling about everything, but doing nothing is making me feel worse," I say. I take a few more sips of tea until I taste bitter tea grits.
Gracie's eyes narrow on my hand holding the teacup. "Are you right-handed?"
"Yeah, why?"
"In the dream, you were drawing with your left hand. Your right hand was hidden under the sketch pad."
I shrug. "I don't know how to draw with that hand."
I drain the cup and hand it to Gracie. She turns the cup upside down on the saucer I was using and studies the leaves. Reading my tea leaves is a redundant task because I know how to read my own, but it seems to thrill the old woman. Damp tea leaves surround a bird with spread wings.
"I don't know if there's anything I can do to help you," Gracie admits, unable to take her eyes off the grim omen on the saucer.
"What does it mean?" Aunt Chloe leans forward.
"It's a deadly omen, sometimes attached to death. It isn't too surprising with what happened this morning."
A chill runs over my body as I rise to my feet. I excuse myself, explain that I need a few more supplies, and leave the room with the shopping basket. I select a few bottles of essential oils, incense, more sage, and some stones. A bar of protective soap of black pepper, cedarwood, cypress, and lavender go into the basket as well. The duo join me and we walk to the register. Gracie applies the family discount and sees us out the door. She hugs me for a long moment and requests an email every so often.
We stop by the grocery store for a cooler and ice, along with enough dry and refrigerated food to last for at least two weeks. We make our way back to the house shortly after. Half an hour later, the sky has dark clouds over the sun as Aunt Chloe begs me to stay. She refuses to let me leave until I wear Grandma Gemma's pendant. It's a dark emerald stone in an oval pendant on a thick golden cord that rests below my chest. I've hated the eyesore since I was thirteen and am often forced to wear it for extra protection. I load the girls into kennels and leave despite my aunt's pleas.
It starts raining on the nearly hour long journey to the entrance of the ranch. Grey clouds cover the sky to the point where it looks more like night. I follow the directions to the eastern fenced border. The shadow in the booth at the entrance opens the chain-link gate after I wait for a minute for them to clear me. I follow the muddy road for a quarter of a mile until the main homestead appears on the horizon. Ponderosa pines line the sides of the road, separated by small a spaces of tall grass and sage.
A tall athletic man waits under an umbrella by the front steps of the main house. He has on a shirt advertising 'The Pie' in Salt Lake City, an unzipped basic gray hoodie, and worn black jeans. His age is indeterminate, somewhere between twenty-five to thirty-five. I turn off the car lights and engine, unrolling the window. His stride is quick and purposeful. He leans down, flashing a bright set of teeth. "You must be Luna Luster."
"Indeed."
"Ambrose had to leave the office for an emergency," he explains. He pauses to study my face and bursts out in a chuckle. "You didn't get off on the right foot with him, did you?"
I grimace. "Is it that obvious? He wasn't very welcoming, to say the least."
"Give it time. He'll loosen up once he sees your value. Sorry, I've been rude. I'm Orion Rist."
I shake his extended hand. The gloves keep his unwelcome thoughts out.
"So, your access badge is on the way and we'll take a photo once it arrives. My bunker is right next to yours. Can I hitch a ride?"
"If you don't mind holding a cat crate." I motion to the passenger seat.
He nods, then circles the car to open the door, and lifts Flora's crate. He sets a bag down on the middle console, sits down with the crate, and buckles in. I start the engine and music floods the car. I reached to turn it off, but he stops me. His bright eyes met mine.
"I don't mind The Stooges." Then he directs me down a small muddy road west of the main house and urges me to stop after half a mile. "Did Ambrose tell you anything about the living quarters?"
"Nothing aside from underground."
"Subterranean bunkers. We're safer underground. You're in bunker thirteen and I'm to the right in fourteen. Come on."
Orion picks up the tote bag and exits. He sets the crate back on the seat and runs to my side with the umbrella out. I join him and walk through the mud until we reach a concrete path. Heavy, unnatural energy I'd encountered upon driving through the protected land grows stronger. The path leads down to a steel door six feet below ground, built out of place in, covered by bushes and trees. Orion holds the umbrella over us as he punches a code into the security pad beside the door. Leftover energy vibrates and bounces off the exterior. It's stronger than the energy from crime scenes I'd been on in the past. The open door exposes stone steps, illuminated by bright bare bulbs in a concrete ceiling. Orion folds the umbrella, hangs it up on a hook on the wall by the door, and encourages me to follow him. We descend the stairs twenty feet and arrive at another steel door with a security pad.
"I'll write the code down for you," he said, punching a code in again.
Fluttering and frantic flaps accompany the blackbirds flying out of my new home. Wonderful. The flurry of birds fly by too fast to count. And odds are, there are thirteen.
We wait indoors for around thirty minutes for the rain to cease. The next half hour is spent hauling in boxes and crates through thick reddish-brown mud. I follow Orion back to the car for his tote bag as the sun sinks into the earth in thick crimson trails and morphs into a deep purple. The security pad at the first door glitches briefly and rejects the correct code a handful of times. I wrinkle my nose as putrid waves swept through the air. It's a mixture of strange sweetness combined with spoiled meat and rotten eggs. Orion frantically tries other codes, only to be met with obnoxious beeps in error.
"I think you'll learn to love the solitude." Orion's voice sounds from behind us.
My hair stands on end and skin prickles. The voice sounds like a slightly off version, echoing something he'd said earlier. My heart thuds heavily as I feel the air constricting around me, making it harder to breathe. I feel so dizzy, the entire situation feels like an out of body experience. Orion grabs my shoulder before I turn around, holds on and resumes entering codes. My mind is racing too fast to include his internal thoughts. The security pad beeps again, but in a higher octave.
The cool air from the stairs whooshes over us. We're safe behind the closed door in seconds. Orion's burst of obscenities are cut short by heavy thuds on the metal door. Our heels are on fire as he tugs me down the stairs like a rag doll. The code on the second door works on first attempt. He pulls me in and I nearly crash into the mudroom wall.
"Ambrose?" Orion pales as he calls into the walkie talkie he'd drawn from his waistband.
I use the opportunity to catch my breath. The intruder continues to slam into the door upstairs. Orion punches a code into the interior keypad by the door. A steel section slides in front of the door with a loud chirp.
The door is armed, the system announces in a digital woman's voice.
Orion continues to curse between calling into the walkie talkie and failure to make his satellite phone work. I shallowly exhale, knock my boots off and open the mudroom door. Poppy jumps up, sending me against the wall as she greets me. She stops once I scold her breathlessly. I struggle to force Orion's frantic thoughts away from my mind and collapse on the white leather couch in the living room. Poppy whines next to me, staring at the open mudroom door. Orion rounds the corner to sit down beside me.
My voice shakes with every syllable. "So, what the hell was that?"
"Only a taste of what lives on the land." Orion grimaces. "I'm not sure you'd believe me, but it's better that you didn't see it."
"Try me."
"Like I said, it's safer underground. You know how it repeated something I said before? It had to be listening for the last half hour. They don't usually come out until sundown. Do you know much about this land?"
"Did you live around near the park about thirteen years ago?" I answer, trying to steady my voice, but everything shakes like a leaf. "My name was smeared across the papers when my best friend disappeared on Hop Valley Trail."
"That's why you look familiar..." Orion stares. "I remember a bit about it."
"The smell was similar to what was out there."
I clasp my shaking hands together, leaning toward the ground. I attempt focus on slowing my breathing to draw my attention from the heavy pressure on my chest and sharp collarbone pinch. My skin feels heated and my arms tingle. Orion rubs my back slowly, but I pull away the moment his thoughts flood in. He removes his hand.
She's seen one before. Is that why her friend disappeared?
"Are you alright?" Orion's voice is filled with genuine concern. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
I shake my head. "I've been drinking and can't take any medication."
Orion lowers his voice to a more soothing tone as he instructs me to breathe in and out slowly, step by step. He stops after a few minutes and I raise my head. My cheeks still feel numb and I notice a bright red rash on my exposed arms.
"My sister has severe anxiety. If you can't take a pill, can I make you a drink?"
I nod and point to an unlabeled box on the bar counter adjacent to the cramped mini-kitchen. There's the bare essentials on counters and a fridge. Orion opens the box labeled 'juice', locates glasses in another box and lines the bottom of the glasses with ice from the cooler. He returns with a bottle of whiskey, two glasses already filled and hands me one. He sets the bottle on the glass coffee table in front of us. I guzzle the whiskey down so quickly he looks astounded. My insides feel warm and fuzzy.
"Gonna be able to hang in there?"
I nod.
"It looks like we're down here for the night. I tried to get access to the hallway connecting the bunkers, but it glitches as well."
I rub my chest in an effort to alleviate the pressure, but it doesn't help much. Heavy thuds from above can still be heard.
"It'll stop eventually," he reassures. Orion eyes the labeled boxes by an impressive television center with the works near the left wall. "Can I set up your record player and put something in to dull the sound? Maybe you can try the grounding exercise."
I nod and agree to the exercise after refilling the glass and lean back on the couch. I notice the walls are a cheerful blue mint. Two black and white floral photographs are on each side of the tall entertainment center. The center has a giant flatscreen television in the middle with a rectangular drawer below and equal sized bed empty self above. Three empty cubes line each side. There's a tall pothos plant in the corner to the left. A golden weaved basket contains a folded white throw is front of two square, white and gold pillows.
It takes him about ten minutes to set up the record player and speakers in the entertainment center. He thumbs through a crate filled with vinyl, selects one and cues up a familiar Pink Floyd album. It dulls the thudding to an almost ignorable level. By then my heart and breathing is back at a normal rate. Orion sits down beside me, refills his glass and leans forward on his knees. Flora rubs against my legs, staring up with big blue eyes and meows loudly in concern. I rub behind her huge ears and tell her I'm alright. She crawls into my lap, purring. I continue petting her because it grounds me.
"We're lucky we made it in. Hopefully the wire is still transmitting and someone can hear us now," he says.
"The one Ambrose said we have to wear at all times?"
"Yes. There's no point in setting yours up tonight since I'll be with you for the night."
Past the living room, there's a card table resting against the wall with four plush, mismatched flea market chairs around it. A cramped mini-kitchen with the bare essentials is directly across from it. It leads to a tight hallway with an open door to a small bathroom to the left, a closet to the right and a door straight ahead.
Orion seems to know my train of thought when I frown. "There's a pull-out bed inside the couch."
"Why does the system secure both doors? There's really no access to the hallway? Isn't that a fire hazard?"
"Yes, I've pointed it out to Miriam in the past. She promised fix it, but it hasn't been at the top of her priority list."
"Miriam?"
"The woman behind the curtain. Ambrose received a call part way through your interview, didn't he?" I nod. "Miriam listened in on my interview as well. I've never met him and I've been here for a year. You'll see her on the video call during the meeting on Monday."
An uncomfortable silence hung in the air, but his distorted thoughts still go directly through. Imagining a brick wall sometimes muffles others' inner thoughts, but requires a lot of energy. Moving boxes and the panic from earlier has left me drained. Images don't accompany Orion's flurry of inner workings, sparing me from the usual dull headache. It's still like a punch in the gut after blissful internal silence, aside from my own thoughts.
It shouldn't have been out in the daylight. Miriam hired her for another gift. There's always a motive. Almost everyone has a gift. She's going to quit and leave her boxes packed. Can't blame her. This place is a damn trap.
I cross to the kitchen and rifle through the cooler. The homemade soup is in a container near the top. I offer Orion a bowl of butternut squash soup and he accepts. He resumes trying to reach someone over the walkie talkie as I busy heat the soup on the stove in a sauce pan. His thoughts aren't heard with the distance, but leaves me wondering about what I heard earlier. I set two bowls of soup on the coffee table, change out the ice in our glasses, then sit down next to Orion.
We eat our soup and listen to the music. Once I finish the bowl, I refill the glasses with whiskey. There's only a moment of debate before I dare to out myself. "What's your gift?"
Orion sets his bowl down. "Huh?"
"If everyone has a gift, then what's yours?"
"How-" Orion's brows furrow. "Did Ambrose tell you?"
I laugh hard.
"You can hear me?"
"There's ways to dull it. Mainly why I didn't want to be touched. It's not something I want to happen, but I can't help what slips by." I hold a gloved hand up. "Ambrose thinks I'm a germaphobe. I was hired for my degree in forensic botany. So spill, what's your dirty secret?" The whiskey bottle on the coffee table scrapes against the glass as it slides from the middle to the left side. I stare at it for a long time, then gaze up at him. "Really?"
"Runs in the family, but I'm mostly here for security monitoring," he says with a shrug.
"How does the landowner know who has gifts?"
"Rumors, sometimes therapists can be paid off and institution records. Miriam has a computer genius on staff for all sorts of things. You were likely hired because of your mysterious consultant title for the police department. I think she bribed my therapist because the doctor ghosted me shortly after I was approached for a job interview." Orion steeples his fingers. "What is forensic botany exactly? Identification of plant life?"
"In a nutshell. More like the study of plant material from crime scenes. Sometimes I can understand where and when a crime was committed. What do you do here?"
"How often is there an encounter?" I motion at the door.
"Whenever someone new starts, it makes an appearance within days, but not usually this soon. Maybe it has to do with your history on the land. Why would you return?"
"My friend's body was never found. Then there's the money." I roll my eyes. "Know how to play gin rummy? I can some gin and tonic. We can play until we get tired."
"My grandma taught me. I can turn the record over while you make the drinks."
Orion and I keep ourselves busy with a mixture of movies, records, gin rummy, cooking, drinks and getting to know one another. The security system chimes around noon on Monday and jolts us out of the two day lockdown. System is disarmed. Opening hallway door.
I apologize to Flora as I pick her sleeping form off my lap. Her whining meows are dulled once I close her in the bedroom. Ambrose is standing in the open door frame when I reach the living room. His eyebrows pinch together as Orion quietly fills him in on the events. I wait for the conversation to end before offering them a cup of coffee. He enters the bunker and the door closes behind him. Ambrose hangs a large tote on a golden antique coat rake next to the door. He double takes at the sight unexpected sight of me in a soft yellow pajamas and large pastel purple octopus slippers.
"Hell of a welcome to the ranch, huh?" Ambrose continues without an answer. "Under the circumstances, you'll work side by side with Orion starting tomorrow morning. You'll both be paid for today for the hassle, but Orion will take you on a tour of the ranch."
Orion and Ambrose sit across each at the table. I bring three mugs and the freshly brewed pot over. They pour coffee as I return with a vanilla flavored creamer.
"Miriam has rescheduled the biweekly meeting for tomorrow. We'll be doing team building exercises as well," Ambrose continues, pouring a cup for himself.
He informs me that he has electronics for Orion to set up. The cinnamon toast flavored coffee is strong and kickstarts my system as Ambrose stresses the importance of keeping the batteries charged on all devices. Orion listens, sipping his coffee and gives me amused expressions as the bag of wind goes over the list of rules I was emailed days ago. I nod every so often, until Ambrose drains his cup and excuses himself.
Orion sets up the charging center for the walkie talkie, satellite phone and wire. I change into something more suitable for four-wheeling across the land. Orion wires me in, then I take an uneasy step to explore the land I started to fear over a decade ago.
submitted by TheLizardQueen84 to u/TheLizardQueen84 [link] [comments]


2020.09.16 16:24 beezwax-gravyboat Spying on sister in bathroom

*warning: long post Miserable wife here (F32). My husband (M33) and I have been married for 15 years. We were both in the army. Had kids really young (I was 17). This isn't the problem, I love my kids with my whole heart and so does my husband. But my husband has not taken me on a date in years. I've tried to take him on dates and he just avoids it. Sex life is non existent. I used to be so sexual, so much so that it'd be okay to call it a minor addiction. He's never viewed sex as a priority. He's never cheated, I'm the cheater. Not in a long time though and we've since "repaired" our marriage. There was a lot of stuff we both had to deal with. He used to have violent outbursts due to ptsd and deep neglect issues that he has with his parents. About the violent outbursts, there was a time I literally couldn't sleep for weeks cause I thought he might hurt me or kill me. He used to tap my phone, not go through it but install Spyware that turned on my microphone or camera so he could watch and hear what I'm doing. I wasn't cheating yet, but wanted to so his suspicions were valid but really? He outranked me at the time and even though he wasn't in my unit, he had other soldiers spying on me. The hate was pretty strong and it got kind of abusive. I'dbe screaming in his face, he'd throw me through a wall, I had a miscarriage that time. But I was no angel. We separated for over a year and went to counseling. The kids stayed with him because I was still in the army and he was out. There was never a doubt in my mind that he wasn't a good dad or a danger to the kiddos. Anyways. Fast forward to now. We're back together. We bought a house near our hometown. But he's back to ignoring me. I've suppressed so much in order to avoid fights with him. I've forced myself to control my emotions so much that even when I want to cry, I'm not sure i remember how. I don't have any friends. He's given me permission to go out. Sometimes I go out with my sister but he texts all night asking when I'm coming home. He follows me around the house, he stays in the bathroom when I'm taking a shower. And now that we're working from home, both of our desks are in the bedroom. I've offered to move to another room countless times and hes like "no I'll move" but never does. How can my best friend be somebody I hate so much? I got his permission to have sex with other people but nothing more. I don't want sex with other people though, I want him. But I'm sick of begging and sick of rejection. When we argue, the truth comes out and he has to force himself to have sex with me so I stfu. We haven't had sex in 3 months. And that was once. I initiate every time by sucking his dick. I don't want to at all but it's the only way I'll get anything out of it. I'm at the point where I want to leave. We've invested so much in this house because we thought this would work this time. We'll, I thought it would. I hate who I am with him. But I have no idea who I am without him. And that scares me too. And what about the kids? They're older and would probably understand but it really would tear them apart. With this post, if you have constructive criticism, I'm all about it. But mostly i really need to know that I'm not alone right now. It's bad. I'm in a really low place right now...
submitted by beezwax-gravyboat to relationship_advice [link] [comments]


2020.09.16 02:27 TheLizardQueen84 Sister spying bathroom in on

"All things must change to something new, to something strange."
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I used to feel like I needed to share my side of the story to keep the facts straight. Now I don't care what others choose to believe. The need to warn others offered a job at Tabula Rasa Ranch outweighs the non-disclosure agreement. The company refuses to disclose the true inner workings. The owner remains the same. She hires on new employees due to the quick turn over from frequent quitting or demises. As a cover, she has someone else in the spotlight as the new owner of the ranch.

Tabula Rasa Ranch has remained out of the newspapers and headlines because of major payoffs over the decades. It isn't in the headlines like the infamous ranch in Northern Utah. The newspaper in Kanab left out the exact location my best friend disappeared in. It only alluded to it being on a hike in Zion National Park. It was on the private land the park had permission to cross to get to the infamous Arches.

My hope is to caution others from crossing through the private land. It isn't worth traipsing through to see the stunning Arches. Camping nearby the private land isn't a good idea either. I know the idea of exploring a national park during the coronavirus is tempting, but following Hop Valley Trail is advised against. Over the years newspapers have been making a big deal out of buying out the private land. The fight for it is an illusion. More people are aware of the operations of the ranch, but refuse to divulge the details out (mostly fear of financial loss).

Springdale is another small, sleepy town in Southern Utah, nothing to write home about. It rests on the eastern side of Zion National Park. I park in the lot of a small shopping center. There's nail and hair salons, inexpensive takeout, clothing stores and tourist traps.
I exit the car and pluck a white flower from a decorative pot beside the sidewalk. I slip it through a pin holding the right side of my back for luck. The set of stairs leading up to the second floor turns halfway up. I take the opportunity to withdraw a pale blue flask from my purse and indulge in a long swig to calm my nerves. Next, a cinnamon breath mint and sprayed of perfume over my clothes for extra measure. I shake my gloved hands in an attempt to relax, inhale, and climb the stairs.
The suite encompasses the entire small second floor. The windows have long curtains and the glass door has white blinds. Only the suite number is on the front door. I press the door bell on the divider between the door and windows.
The door opens a crack a few beats later. I smooth my hands over my black and white plaid dress pants. A man clears his throat from the space separating us. A long silence evades before the door swings open to reveal a tall man standing aside in a wide foyer. He wears a white button-up shirt underneath an expensive gray vest and ironed matching slacks. His dark hair is back in a low ponytail. He holds the door open. I enter the air-conditioned suite, despite every cell in my body encouraging me to flee.
"Luna Luster?" the man asks, closing the door behind us. His smile is sardonic as he extends his hand. "Was your mother a hippie misplaced in time or did you change your name yourself?"
I tilt my head and try my best not to let my face sour. I stare at his waiting hand instead because his rude remark makes it easier to evade contact. His cologne is earthy and expensive, full of hidden motives with notes of sandalwood. "So original."
"I take it you get the question a lot. I'm the superintendent of Tabula Rasa Ranch, Ambrose Reed." He shifts uncomfortably in the stark silence and lowers his hand. "Please follow me to the office. Would you like a cup of coffee?"
"Uh, sure."
I trail behind him through a narrow hallway and pass an open living room. There's two closed doors to the right, three on the left-hand side and the second door on the left is open. The hall ahead of us displays a spacious kitchen. We turn into the open room on the left. The office is white and void of personal photographs or sentimental items. Five bright abstract framed paintings grace the walls. Ambrose stops at a light stained wooden table with a fancy coffee machine and condiments next to the door. I stand on the pristine white carpet, knotting my fingers together.
"Have a seat. How do you like your coffee?"
"Black. Two sugars."
A side of the cherry wood desk rests against the wall with a plush chair underneath it. An open laptop, clunky landline phone, and two coasters are on the desk. I sit on a white plastic chair across the desk. I shift in the chair in an attempt to distract myself before the interrogation begins. Ambrose places a black mug on each coaster, then seats himself in the swivel chair.
"Thank you," I say, but don't pick up the mug.
"Why are you wearing gloves?"
"Off the record? I'm a germaphobe."
He nods, seeming to accept the answer and takes stack of papers from a drawer. He starts with typical interview questions that blur together in a flurry. What was your first job? What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses? Can you tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult person?
So forth and so on. All the questions I've heard since I started working at sixteen years old whirl by until there's red flag.
"Tell me a little about yourself."
I stare at him. "I'd rather not, but I kinda need this job."
He doesn't respond for a minute and stares at the laptop screen with a deep frown. "What can you tell me about the gaps in your employment history?"
"Pardon me?"
"You didn't include your paid work on the side with the Salt Lake City Police Department. You cited government work as a forensic botanist before some unlisted department work." Ambrose pauses to gauge my expression. His wide-set eyes dart to focus on the laptop screen. "We were very thorough before offering a follow-up interview."
"If you consider a faceless phone call an interview."
"A mere formality. I was against requesting a callback, but the owner wanted an interview for some reason. She greased a few wheels to find out why you didn't include your work in the achievements of your resume."
"It didn't seem relevant," I say, smoothing my hands over my pants to keep from wringing them together. Mentioning being able to see lingering spirits would end the job interview. Most of Kanab already think I live in cloudcuckooland. I know it's because of my unwanted gifts. Revealing the information would make a fresh start redundant.
The locals are kind enough to gossip when I'm out of earshot. It doesn't stop others who spin tales composed of a few gems. Newcomers think of me as the child abandoned by her mother, raised by her grandmother and aunt. Spooky Little Luna ostracized herself from others by revealing details and thoughts. No one spread the news about my perfect grades or talent with art but spoke of my brittle and barbed tongue. It didn't deter my friend, Byeol, from spending every free moment with me from the fourth grade on up. Only her death parted us.
Several dead-end jobs in the city forced me to move back to Kanab. Still, it doesn't look good for Spooky Luna to live with her aunt without a job. People chatter and wonder after each local job didn't work out. Mypaper trail of employment doesn't help.
"A thorough background check revealed a few things. You became an independent consultant without any prior experience with investigating. The owner wanted to know the duties you performed during your brief stint at the department. It would make more sense if you were working as a forensic botanist with your degree."
"I can't provide the information you want. I signed a non-disclosure document."
No need for him to know I'd lowered myself and passed myself off as a psychic to the Salt Lake City Police Department. There were plenty of photos in the newspaper with me in the background of police officers. I was a consultant on the books. The department only used my services when backed into a corner. Sometimes I gleaned details off of spirits or things I'd noticed with my extra keen eye. It was easier to pass my gifts off in the guise of a psychic than telling the truth. No one wants to hire a woman who claimed to see fragments of the dead or photogenic abilities. If I divulged my gifts, Ambrose might write me off as crazy and end the interview.
"Which is something my employer values."
At a loss for a response, I lean forward to pick up the steaming mug from the desk. The familiar beverage soothes my nerves with each careful sip. Ambrose shuffles through the papers. He studies a paper before resuming.
"What do you know about the location?"
"I've been going to Zion for most of my life. I'm from Kanab, after all. I've only gone through the land briefly on a hike and to reach a nearby campground."
"There's been some whispers."
A chill runs down my back. The whispers could only be about one thing. The news didn't reveal where the disappearance occurred or detail about the encounter. It did however elude to the police suspecting my involvement in my best friend's disappearance. My following stint in a mental institution was common knowledge. I shift uneasily in my seat, divert my eyes away from his and sip on coffee. It's difficult to resist the urge to spy on his thoughts.
Ambrose leans back in his chair and watches the screen for a long time. "What do the new rumors said?"
I hesitate. "I heard about the new owner taking more of an interest in the ranch a few years ago. The rumors about the park trying to purchase the land isn't anything new."
His face remains blank and unreadable as he assesses my response.
I set the coffee back down, pick up my purse, and stand up. "It's been swell. Look, I'm sorry I wasted your-"
"How do you feel about being wired on a daily basis for liability purposes?" Ambrose interrupts.
"Are you recording now?"
"The founder is on a one-way voice chat to give her input. The recording is for future records, should you pass the final interview."
"Wait, if I take the job, I'm going to under surveillance at all times?" I ask, sitting back down.
"For liability purposes."
"The salary Miss Giles offered on the phone would make more than recording worth it." I pause before continuing. "Listen, am I under surveillance for my history with the police department? Or for forensic botany? Or-"
The landline phone rings once and Ambrose picks it up.
"Are you sure?" Ambrose pauses for a long time. "Yes, ma'am. I understand. Thank you." He hung the phone up with a tight smile. "It seems you're hired, Miss Luster."
I can't conceal my smile. "When do I start?"
"Monday. I'll email you the rules and directions to the ranch. You need to move in by tomorrow afternoon so you have the weekend to get settled. Stop by the main homestead with your belongings. The furnished living quarters are due to depth. I'll have your bunker assignment along with some clearance badges you'll need for your first day. You'll be shadowing Orion Rist during your first week here. He'll have your work schedule. Your job will initially consist of watching live and unrecorded security footage. You'll take notes until you're familiar with the protocol and land." He pauses, looking me over. "The dress code is casual, within reason, of course."
"Do you like it there?"
He seems taken aback by my query and searches my face before responding. "The gig pays well. The employees are a colorful bunch and you'll never get bored." Ambrose opens a drawer, sets a stack of a stapled of papers and slides them across the desk in my direction. "Look over the pages before signing, please."
The two pages consist of a non-disclosure agreement. I take my time in looking over the contents before signing at the bottom. The next page is a suspicious injury waiver, but promises an on-site emergency center. I sign it after memorizing the document. Health care kicks in immediately, not in a standard ninety days. It gives me a brief pause. Nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Ambrose stands up and crosses over to me. I join him, unsure of where it was going. He reaches for my hand and envelopes his warm one with mine. I can smell the cologne wafting off him. "Welcome to Tabula Rasa Ranch, Miss Luster."
Worst of all, the gloves fail to do their job and his thoughts flood in with the forced handshake. I don't know why Miriam is thinking about hiring her. Are you kidding me? She communed with spirits and helped the police department? What a load of bullshit. She has to be some kind of hack or fraud. I bet she falsified her so-called degree in forensic botany. What if she murdered her friend?
Ambrose's thoughts are a mix of Korean and English. I'd learned from my best friend growing up so we could have a language our peers couldn't break. It rarely comes in handy in Utah, but it ensured an unbreakable code.
"Cheer up fuckface. You might like me in due time." I twist my hand away from his. Ambrose's face warps in surprise. I pick up my purse before he can get the last word in and head for the door. "I'll see you tomorrow."
I exit the suite cursing under my breath. I retreat to my old but trusty black Dodge 1971 Charger. I toss my purse on the passenger seat, fire up the engine and a song by The Damned fills the speakers. I screamed in frustration over picking up on his thoughts. Fucking gloves didn't do their job. It's always hit or miss if the gloves are thick enough to keep inner thoughts from invading my space. I open my purse, take out the flask, and indulge in a five-second gulp of vodka. The burn almost pushes away Ambrose's toxic thoughts. Key word being almost.
Nearly an hour later, I stop in front of a two-story house on the outskirts of Kanab. I smile at the sight of the petite, youthful, fifty-year-old woman sitting on the steps. Her dark hair is up in a loose bun at the nape of her long neck.
"How did it go?" Aunt Chloe asks, standing up with a warm smile.
"I got it!"
We retreat inside and Aunt Chloe brews coffee as I secretly take a long swig of vodka. I fill her in on the information Ambrose gave me but keep out hearing his thoughts. She catches me up on her day while making two turkey and tomato sandwiches with chips for an early dinner.
After dinner, I escape for the basement to pack. My blue pitbull, Poppy, barks when I open the door. Flora marks my legs and cries for attention once Poppy finishes greeting me. I spend half an hour paying attention to them before packing. It takes three hours to pack everything I want to take to the ranch. A few iced screwdrivers help sleep arrive. In no time I fall asleep surrounded by Poppy and Flora.
It's around noon by the time we finish loading the trailer attached it to the car. It fills with boxes and crates of records with Aunt Chloe's help. We push the last heavy box into the trailer when something thuds on the tin-top several times. My aunt exits the trailer to explore. I shrug it off and resume stacking the smaller boxes around in a more stable order.
"Luna. You need to see this."
She warns me to watch my step and holds a hand out to ensure a stable landing. Several dead crows are splayed around the car with bent, broken wings. Small pools of blood leak from beaks and half of their feathers are scattered around them. The stench is reminiscent of roadkill roasting on the side of the road for at least a week. We back away from the trailer to see how far around the dead birds are. I count thirteen birds in a circle around the car and trailer.
"Luna, we need to go see Gracie before you hit the road. She had a dream about you the other night. I don't think your taking the job is a good idea."
"And live off your pension? Even the local deli rejected my request for an interview. I was lucky to land this job and it pays well."
"Sometimes it isn't worth it. You can find a legitimate job online and work from home. Try to find someone in town hiring. Have you gone through your savings?"
"I tried that. There's no such thing as pennies from heaven. Besides, I tried in Kanab and St George. It seems my reputation precedes me. No one will hire me because they think I'm too spooky. I have enough bread to live comfortably until I die, but only if I die next Friday."
Aunt Chloe tucks her loose hair behind her ears and sighs, knowing it's a fight she can't win. We let Poppy loose and carry Flora's crate back into the house.
My aunt drives us to Gracie's in her faded black truck in about ten minutes. 'Gracie's Apothecary' is lit up in cursive neon letters on top of the small store, and stands out in the dim afternoon. Our footsteps echo on the steel steps to the wooden door, where the name is embellished on a clear window. The familiar tinkle of the bell does little to set my mind at ease, but the strong scent of lavender incense helps. The apothecary is a slender ten by ten space. A beaded curtain leads to more merchandise in the back of the store. Bright yellow walls have shelves lined with labeled wire baskets. Pegged supplies hang below them.
A little woman in her late sixties with long, curly white hair greets us with a bright smile. She inquires about how we are doing. Aunt Chloe tells her about the dead crows, picking up a mesh shopping basket along the way.
"That is troubling. Are you sure you want to take the job? You could work here part-time." Gracie says, frowning. "The dream I had didn't indicate anything about the job being a bad choice. At least from the context of it."
"I need to do something. I've been going stir-crazy. You don't want to hire me and drive away people, trust me."
"Nettie?" Gracie calls back into the office behind her. "I need you to take over while I help Chloe and Luna."
A pretty and thin, dark-haired teenager pops her head out and stands behind the register with a nod. Gracie leads us to a section with a variety of sage bundles in baskets on one of the tables below the shelves. Aunt Chloe collects large bundles of white, blue and black sage. She sets the bundles in the shopping basket, asking if Gracie has any other suggestions. Gracie's wrinkled forehead pinches together in thought. She selects up a light brown, medium bundle of sage that smells a bit peppery.
"Desert sage is for cleansing and purifying, protection, and inner strength. It draws in pleasant thoughts, relieves headaches and anxiety," she explains, handing my aunt the bundle.
"Is there anything else for protection?"
Gracie picks up a greenish-brown bundle with a woodsy and fresh scent. "Cedar recalls ancient forests and invokes their protection and wisdom. Smudging this carries a medicine of protection. You should cleanse your new home upon moving in to invite unwanted spirits to leave. It can help protect you, the place, and objects from unwanted influences. It's the most aggressive cleansing smudge."
She invites us to sit and talk over a cup of tea. We pass through thick purple wooden beads concealing an archway to the back section of the store. We seat ourselves at a small round table with three chairs. Gracie starts up a pot of loose leaf tea on a hot plate on a counter nearby the small table in the corner of the room.
"I thought it was unusual that you showed up in my dreams last night," she says, sitting down and facing me. "You were sitting on the bench in the front, drawing on a sketchpad while I was working. You came to show me the exterior sketches of the shop for a new launch of the website. I didn't see anything ominous."
I frown.
"Nothing symbolic in what Luna was wearing?" Aunt Chloe asks, leaning forward.
"She wore a black band shirt and had on Gemma's necklace. Luna didn't have anything on out of the ordinary."
"Other than smudging, what can we do to protect her?"
"I can find some talismans, charmed stones and candles after we have our tea. There isn't much else I can do because I'm not sure what the threat is. What did the land feel like? I mean from walking on it years ago."
The kettle whistles and Gracie prepared a tray. I try my best to describe the heavy aura of the land, only to receive another frown. She carries the tray with three cups of tea on saucers, cream, and sugar to the table. She places our cups on saucers in front of each of us. I fiddle with the dark purple tassels on the edge of the table cloth. Aunt Chloe insists that my taking the job is a bad idea.
I fail to mention the lengthy non-disclosure document or injury waiver. There's no reason to raise anymore red flags.
The broken and bloodied wings of the crows scratch at the back of my mind. My aunt touches my arm gently, bringing me back to earth. Gracie points out the tea is cool enough to drink. I stir the mostly clear, tinted green tea. It soothes my throat as the pair catch up on town gossip and Gracie fills my aunt in on her own life. I trace the golden rim of the painted floral teacup. A vortex of swirling tea leaves fall to the bottom. Aunt Chloe nudges me after the conversation falls silent.
"I have a bad feeling about everything, but doing nothing is making me feel worse," I say. I take a few more sips of tea until I taste bitter tea grits.
Gracie's eyes narrow on my hand holding the teacup. "Are you right-handed?"
"Yeah, why?"
"In the dream, you were drawing with your left hand. Your right hand was hidden under the sketch pad."
I shrug. "I don't know how to draw with that hand."
I drain the cup and hand it to Gracie. She turns the cup upside down on the saucer I was using and studies the leaves. Reading my tea leaves is a redundant task because I know how to read my own, but it seems to thrill the old woman. Damp tea leaves surround a bird with spread wings.
"I don't know if there's anything I can do to help you," Gracie admits, unable to take her eyes off the grim omen on the saucer.
"What does it mean?" Aunt Chloe leans forward.
"It's a deadly omen, sometimes attached to death. It isn't too surprising with what happened this morning."
A chill runs over my body as I rise to my feet. I excuse myself, explain that I need a few more supplies, and leave the room with the shopping basket. I select a few bottles of essential oils, incense, more sage, and some stones. A bar of protective soap of black pepper, cedarwood, cypress, and lavender go into the basket as well. The duo join me and we walk to the register. Gracie applies the family discount and sees us out the door. She hugs me for a long moment and requests an email every so often.
We stop by the grocery store for a cooler and ice. We leave with enough dry and refrigerated food to last for at least two weeks. We make our way back to the house shortly after. Half an hour later, the sky has dark clouds over the sun as Aunt Chloe begs me to stay. She refuses to let me leave until I wear Grandma Gemma's pendant. It's a dark emerald stone in an oval pendant on a thick golden cord that rests below my chest. I've hated the eyesore since I was thirteen and am often forced to wear it for extra protection. I load the girls into kennels and leave despite my aunt's pleas.
It starts raining on the almost hour long journey to the entrance of the ranch. Grey clouds cover the sky to the point where it looks more like night. I follow the directions to the eastern fenced border. The shadow in the booth at the entrance opens the chain-link gate after I wait for a minute for them to clear me. I follow the muddy road for a quarter of a mile until the main homestead appears on the horizon. Ponderosa pines line the sides of the road, separated by small a spaces of tall grass and sage.
A tall athletic man waits under an umbrella by the front steps of the main house. He has on a shirt advertising 'The Pie' in Salt Lake City, an unzipped basic gray hoodie, and worn black jeans. His age is indeterminate, somewhere between twenty-five to thirty-five. I turn off the car lights and engine, unrolling the window. His stride is quick and purposeful. He leans down, flashing a bright set of teeth. "You must be Luna Luster."
"Indeed."
"Ambrose had to leave the office for an emergency," he explains. He pauses to study my face and bursts out in a chuckle. "You didn't get off on the right foot with him, did you?"
I grimace. "Is it that obvious? He wasn't very welcoming, to say the least."
"Give it time. He'll loosen up once he sees your value. Sorry, I've been rude. I'm Orion Rist."
I shake his extended hand. The gloves keep his unwelcome thoughts out.
"So, your access badge is on the way and we'll take a photo once it arrives. My bunker is right next to yours. Can I hitch a ride?"
"If you don't mind holding a cat crate." I motion to the passenger seat.
He nods, then circles the car to open the door, and lifts Flora's crate. He sets a bag down on the middle console, sits down with the crate, and buckles in. I start the engine and music floods the car. I reached to turn it off, but he stops me. His bright eyes met mine.
"I don't mind The Stooges." Then he directs me down a small muddy road west of the main house and urges me to stop after half a mile. "Did Ambrose tell you anything about the living quarters?"
"Nothing aside from underground."
"Subterranean bunkers. We're safer underground. You're in bunker thirteen and I'm to the right in fourteen. Come on."
Orion picks up the tote bag and exits. He sets the crate back on the seat and runs to my side with the umbrella out. I join him and walk through the mud until we reach a concrete path. Heavy, unnatural energy I'd encountered upon driving through the protected land grows stronger. The path leads down to a steel door six feet below ground, built out of place in, covered by bushes and trees. Orion holds the umbrella over us as he punches a code into the security pad beside the door. Leftover energy vibrates and bounces off the exterior. It's stronger than the energy from crime scenes I'd been on in the past. The open door exposes stone steps, illuminated by bright bare bulbs in a concrete ceiling. Orion folds the umbrella, hangs it up on a hook on the wall by the door, and encourages me to follow him. We descend the stairs twenty feet and arrive at another steel door with a security pad.
"I'll write the code down for you," he said, punching a code in again.
Fluttering and frantic flaps accompanpies the blackbirds flying out of my new home. Wonderful. The flurry of birds speed by too fast to count. And odds are, there are thirteen.
We wait indoors for around thirty minutes for the rain to cease. Over the next half hour, we haul in boxes and crates through thick reddish-brown mud. I follow Orion back to the car for his tote bag. The sun sinks into the earth in thick crimson trails and morphs into a deep purple. The security pad at the first door glitches and rejects the correct code a handful of times. I wrinkle my nose as putrid waves swept through the air. It's a mixture of strange sweetness combined with spoiled meat and rotten eggs. Orion frantically tries other codes, only to hear obnoxious beeps in error.
"I think you'll learn to love the solitude." Orion's voice sounds from behind us.
My hair stands on end and skin prickles. The voice sounds like a slightly off version, echoing something he'd said earlier. My heart thuds heavily as the air constricts around me, making it harder to breathe. Dizziness. The entire situation feels like an out of body experience. Orion grabs my shoulder before I turn around, holds on and resumes entering codes. My mind is racing too fast to include his internal thoughts. The security pad beeps again, but in a higher octave.
The cool air from the stairs whooshes over us. We're safe behind the closed door in seconds. Orion's burst of obscenities cut short by heavy thuds on the metal door. Our heels are on fire as he tugs me down the stairs like a rag doll. The code on the second door works on first attempt. He pulls me in and I almost crash into the mudroom wall.
"Ambrose?" Orion pales as he calls into the walkie talkie he'd drawn from his waistband.
I use the opportunity to catch my breath. The intruder continues to slam into the door upstairs. Orion punches a code into the interior keypad by the door. A steel section slides in front of the door with a loud chirp.
The door is armed, the system announces in a digital woman's voice.
Orion continues to curse between calling into the walkie talkie and failure to make his satellite phone work. I shallowly exhale, knock my boots off and open the mudroom door. Poppy jumps up, sending me against the wall as she greets me. She stops once I scold her breathlessly. I struggle to force Orion's frantic thoughts away from my mind and collapse on the white leather couch in the living room. Poppy whines next to me, staring at the open mudroom door. Orion rounds the corner to sit down beside me.
My voice shakes with every syllable. "So, what the hell was that?"
"Only a taste of what lives on the land." Orion grimaces. "I'm not sure you'd believe me, but it's better that you didn't see it."
"Try me."
"Like I said, it's safer underground. You know how it repeated something I said before? It had to be listening for the last half hour. They don't usually come out until sundown. Do you know much about this land?"
"Did you live around near the park about thirteen years ago?" I answer, trying to steady my voice, but everything shakes like a leaf. "My name was smeared across the papers when my best friend disappeared on Hop Valley Trail."
"That's why you look familiar..." Orion stares. "I remember a bit about it."
"The smell was similar to what was out there."
I clasp my shaking hands together, leaning toward the ground. I attempt focus on slowing my breathing to draw my attention from the heavy pressure on my chest and sharp collarbone pinch. My skin feels heated and my arms tingle. Orion rubs my back slowly, but I pull away the moment his thoughts flood in. He removes his hand.
She's seen one before. Is that why her friend disappeared?
"Are you alright?" Orion's voice is filled with genuine concern. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
I shake my head. "I've been drinking and can't take any medication."
Orion lowers his voice to a more soothing tone as he instructs me to breathe in and out slowly, step by step. He stops after a few minutes and I raise my head. My cheeks still feel numb and I notice a bright red rash on my exposed arms.
"My sister has severe anxiety. If you can't take a pill, can I make you a drink?"
I nod and point to an unlabeled box on the bar counter adjacent to the cramped mini-kitchen. There's the bare essentials on counters and a fridge. Orion opens the box labeled 'juice', locates glasses in another box and lines the bottom of the glasses with ice from the cooler. He returns with a bottle of whiskey, two glasses already filled and hands me one. He sets the bottle on the glass coffee table in front of us. I guzzle the whiskey down so quickly he looks astounded. My insides feel warm and fuzzy.
"Gonna be able to hang in there?"
I nod.
"It looks like we're down here for the night. I tried to get access to the hallway connecting the bunkers, but it glitches as well."
I rub my chest in an effort to alleviate the pressure, but it doesn't help much. Heavy thuds from above can still be heard.
"It'll stop eventually," he reassures. Orion eyes the labeled boxes by an impressive television center with the works near the left wall. "Can I set up your record player and put something in to dull the sound? Maybe you can try the grounding exercise."
I nod and agree to the exercise after refilling the glass and lean back on the couch. I notice the walls are a cheerful blue mint. Two black and white floral photographs are on each side of the tall entertainment center. The center has a giant flatscreen television in the middle with a rectangular drawer below and equal sized bed empty self above. Three empty cubes line each side. There's a tall pothos plant in the corner to the left. A golden weaved basket contains a folded white throw is front of two square, white and gold pillows.
It takes him about ten minutes to set up the record player and speakers in the entertainment center. He thumbs through a crate filled with vinyl, selects one and cues up a familiar Pink Floyd album. It dulls the thudding to an almost ignorable level. By then my heart and breathing is back at a normal rate. Orion sits down beside me, refills his glass and leans forward on his knees. Flora rubs against my legs, staring up with big blue eyes and meows loudly in concern. I rub behind her huge ears and tell her I'm alright. She crawls into my lap, purring. I continue petting her because it grounds me.
"We're lucky we made it in. Hopefully the wire is still transmitting and someone can hear us now," he says.
"The one Ambrose said we have to wear at all times?"
"Yes. There's no point in setting yours up tonight since I'll be with you for the night."
Past the living room, there's a card table resting against the wall with four plush, mismatched flea market chairs around it. A cramped mini-kitchen with the bare essentials is directly across from it. It leads to a tight hallway with an open door to a small bathroom to the left, a closet to the right and a door straight ahead.
Orion seems to know my train of thought when I frown. "There's a pull-out bed inside the couch."
"Why does the system secure both doors? There's really no access to the hallway? Isn't that a fire hazard?"
"Yes, I've pointed it out to Miriam in the past. She promised fix it, but it hasn't been at the top of her priority list."
"Miriam?"
"The woman behind the curtain. Ambrose received a call part way through your interview, didn't he?" I nod. "Miriam listened in on my interview as well. I've never met him and I've been here for a year. You'll see her on the video call during the meeting on Monday."
An uncomfortable silence hung in the air, but his distorted thoughts still go directly through. Imagining a brick wall sometimes muffles others' inner thoughts, but requires a lot of energy. Moving boxes and the panic from earlier has left me drained. Images don't accompany Orion's flurry of inner workings, sparing me from the usual dull headache. It's still like a punch in the gut after blissful internal silence, aside from my own thoughts.
It shouldn't have been out in the daylight. Miriam hired her for another gift. There's always a motive. Almost everyone has a gift. She's going to quit and leave her boxes packed. Can't blame her. This place is a damn trap.
I cross to the kitchen and rifle through the cooler. The homemade soup is in a container near the top. I offer Orion a bowl of butternut squash soup and he accepts. He resumes trying to reach someone over the walkie talkie as I busy heat the soup on the stove in a sauce pan. His thoughts aren't heard with the distance, but leaves me wondering about what I heard earlier. I set two bowls of soup on the coffee table, change out the ice in our glasses, then sit down next to Orion.
We eat our soup and listen to the music. Once I finish the bowl, I refill the glasses with whiskey. There's only a moment of debate before I dare to out myself. "What's your gift?"
Orion sets his bowl down. "Huh?"
"If everyone has a gift, then what's yours?"
"How-" Orion's brows furrow. "Did Ambrose tell you?"
I laugh hard.
"You can hear me?"
"There's ways to dull it. Mainly why I didn't want to be touched. It's not something I want to happen, but I can't help what slips by." I hold a gloved hand up. "Ambrose thinks I'm a germaphobe. I was hired for my degree in forensic botany. So spill, what's your dirty secret?" The whiskey bottle on the coffee table scrapes against the glass as it slides from the middle to the left side. I stare at it for a long time, then gaze up at him. "Really?"
"Runs in the family, but I'm mostly here for security monitoring," he says with a shrug.
"How does the landowner know who has gifts?"
"Rumors, sometimes therapists can be paid off and institution records. Miriam has a computer genius on staff for all sorts of things. You were likely hired because of your mysterious consultant title for the police department. I think she bribed my therapist because the doctor ghosted me shortly after I was approached for a job interview." Orion steeples his fingers. "What is forensic botany exactly? Identification of plant life?"
"In a nutshell. More like the study of plant material from crime scenes. Sometimes I can understand where and when a crime was committed. What do you do here?"
"How often is there an encounter?" I motion at the door.
"Whenever someone new starts, it makes an appearance within days, but not usually this soon. Maybe it has to do with your history on the land. Why would you return?"
"My friend's body was never found. Then there's the money." I roll my eyes. "Know how to play gin rummy? I can some gin and tonic. We can play until we get tired."
"My grandma taught me. I can turn the record over while you make the drinks."
Orion and I keep ourselves busy with a mixture of movies, records, gin rummy, cooking, drinks and getting to know one another. The security system chimes around noon on Monday and jolts us out of the two day lockdown. System is disarmed. Opening hallway door.
I apologize to Flora as I pick her sleeping form off my lap. Her whining meows are dulled once I close her in the bedroom. Ambrose is standing in the open door frame when I reach the living room. His eyebrows pinch together as Orion quietly fills him in on the events. I wait for the conversation to end before offering them a cup of coffee. He enters the bunker and the door closes behind him. Ambrose hangs a large tote on a golden antique coat rake next to the door. He double takes at the sight unexpected sight of me in a soft yellow pajamas and large pastel purple octopus slippers.
"Hell of a welcome to the ranch, huh?" Ambrose continues without an answer. "Under the circumstances, you'll work side by side with Orion starting tomorrow morning. You'll both be paid for today for the hassle, but Orion will take you on a tour of the ranch."
Orion and Ambrose sit across each at the table. I bring three mugs and the freshly brewed pot over. They pour coffee as I return with a vanilla flavored creamer.
"Miriam has rescheduled the biweekly meeting for tomorrow. We'll be doing team building exercises as well," Ambrose continues, pouring a cup for himself.
He informs me that he has electronics for Orion to set up. The cinnamon toast flavored coffee is strong and kickstarts my system as Ambrose stresses the importance of keeping the batteries charged on all devices. Orion listens, sipping his coffee and gives me amused expressions as the bag of wind goes over the list of rules I was emailed days ago. I nod every so often, until Ambrose drains his cup and excuses himself.
Orion sets up the charging center for the walkie talkie, satellite phone and wire. I change into something more suitable for four-wheeling across the land. Orion wires me in, then I take an uneasy step to explore the land I started to fear over a decade ago.
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2020.09.15 18:16 Fire_to_Ice Spying on sister in bathroom

My memory of this isn't the clearest. I'm also a guy if anyone cares or needs that minor detail.
I met this woman in 2013 and I think around mid 2013 we had a falling out. In 2015 she comes back and begs to be let back into my life and even has someone else trying to convince me to let her back in and eventually I cave. It was during 2016 I think that we started getting closer and then I was romantically interested in her but we didn't date because I felt like I wasn't ready and she didn't seem too ready either.
Forgot to mention this but at some point maybe late 2015 early 2016 she tells me she has Borderline Personality Disorder and basically explained it as being very emotional or emotionally sensitive or something like that. I made the mistake of not properly looking into it to really understand the disorder.
I had gotten so into this woman that I believed she was my soulmate and honestly I've never felt as strongly about a woman as much as I have with her. She was my muse. I had plans to pull together a bunch of romantic songs together to put on a CD and give to her so she could listen to it in her car but I never finished it.
In late 2016 she mentioned possibly moving to my home state to live with a friend. I was looking forward to meeting her in person, hanging out with her and maybe eventually have my first in person girlfriend but it all fell apart. She lived in my state for maybe a month or two before going back to her home state 9 hours away from here. Her reason for it happening was her friend's husband didn't like her dog going to the bathroom on the floor, but looking back on it knowing what I know that could have been a lie.
2017 was kind of shitty, 2018 wasn't much better, and in March of 2019 she stopped talking to me out of no where. She had been tapering off for a while before she left though I want to say that started in 2018.
I was in serious denial that she was actually gone out of my life and I frequently wondered if she still thought about me. When I would listen to general tarot readings and anything romantically positive was mentioned I automatically assumed that things would turn out well again and that she maybe needed space or something. I was lying to myself.
Eventually I remembered her mentioning having BPD and figured maybe that's what will help me and it did but it also makes things harder in a way. I know who I know is not who she is and she was just mirroring me. It's not like I was clueless to this either because she was obviously pained. Smoking weed and drinking alcohol just to keep the pain somewhat numbed or at bay. Near the end of it though I was telling her to get help. I still want her to get help. From what she has told me it seemed like her family doesn't care not even with suicide attempts.
Sometime late August or early September (this year) I did the foolish thing of making a Facebook account and wound up looking at her Facebook and fuck did that hurt more than I thought because I got it stuck in my head that I was over her. I even felt some jealousy upon seeing some comments between her and a guy that were from 2017. The whole Facebook think came from me messaging her on Kik again which is a clear sign I'm not totally over her and she's been logged out of Kik or doesn't have it on her phone anymore. I just stupidly would send messages at times hoping maybe she'd see them.
I'm aware the Facebook thing says a lot about me and says I'm creepy (there's more than just the Facebook thing though, but I really don't want to confess it here) and I feel gross for doing that but my intent isn't to creep or spy. Probably also didn't help that I didn't have anyone around to keep me grounded during all of that.
I wanted to work on myself during that time and honestly thought I'd be fine without friends but I was wrong so very wrong. With all the time to myself I got stuck in my own head and I don't know if that's where being critical of myself came from or if it came from being so close to someone with BPD. I also didn't want to put all my shit on other people because I was in a bad place. I was and maybe still am really into her all I know is that I can't unsee how beautiful she became to me both inside and out. I still haven't deleted the photos she had sent me and part of that is because nothing is ever truly deleted it can be recovered and the fact that if I ever can find a trustworthy person who can solder to put a new battery on my iPod touch that I'll just end up seeing more photos of her.
One might wonder why I haven't told my family, well they know and don't know at the same time. They know of her from 2013 but they don't know what all happened. I don't want to tell them because honestly my family gives shitty useless advice or doesn't appear to listen or even really care. I also don't want to sit around hearing my sister call this woman names because that isn't constructive nor is she the one to throw all the blame on because I fucked up too. I became too attached to her and jealous plus our history didn't help. I got nasty with her and I should've had better control of myself BPD or not she didn't deserve that and by nasty I mean about as nasty as I got with an ex except I think that ex deserved it because she was downright abusive.
So I've been holding this all in for a year and a half. I think I've fucked up by not trying to make friends during that time because I have Aspergers which royally complicates things. Now I feel like I suck at talking to people. Even though I know that people have jobs and other things to do I tend to blame myself for why they haven't chatted with me in a while. I end up thinking it's because I talk to much, I get too personal with my own life way too quick, I go on about the things I like too much, or maybe I say something weird or give off a weird vibe. It sucks and it drives me nuts. I honestly wonder if I'm ever going to have any proper connection with people that I can call friends.
I want to apologize for how things jump all over the place and I know there's missing details like how she saw her last ex before moving to my home state and how he knew she was moving here but I don't know what good it does to mention things like that. She was most likely hoovering him or something or doing it to sabotage what her and I had. I don't know. After her I'm totally reluctant to ever date because everyone hates the distance but I refuse to socialize with the loud mouthed nosy assholes around where I live that and Aspergers and other shit that hinders me.
Also thank you to anyone who reads this all the way through. It doesn't matter if you comment or not I'm just glad someone else cared enough to read this. One final thing I should add on before I post this and it's that I never properly cried over her and I wish I could because maybe that'd help but I literally can't. Oh and I also don't care to hear negative talk about people with BPD because it's not their fault they have it and the only thing we can blame them for is not getting help and probably the therapists who deny them said help.
Edit: I forgot to mention that Just because I have some photos of her doesn't mean I've constantly looked at them because I haven't. I've maybe looked at those photos maybe 3-4 times in total since she's been gone. I just don't want anyone thinking that I'm still horribly hung up on her.
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2020.09.10 10:24 AshleighBSB Spying on sister in bathroom

[Cover] [Chapter 1] [Table Of Contents] [Patreon] [Discord]
This is Book 4: Boarding School Break: Happy Thanksgiving
[Book 2: Boarding School Beginnings] [Book 3: Boarding School Boyfriends]

My family moved to my neighborhood a little over three years ago, just before I started middle school. After all the movers brought our boxes into the house and were heading back down the street, our doorbell rang. My mother, assuming she had forgotten to sign some paperwork, answered the door to discover a woman a few years younger than herself. She had a large pan in one hand and behind her sat a double stroller, in which slept two little girls.
Our new neighbor from across the street, Mrs. Dyson, did not stay very long, explaining that she was heading out for her daily jog while her daughters took their afternoon nap. However, she wanted to drop off a casserole she had brought us, assuming we would be so busy unpacking that we would not want to make our own supper. It was a pretty good baked ziti, although I will admit it was not as good as my mother’s sauce.
The following week, once we had become a little more settled, my mother invited Mrs. Dyson to visit. I was charged with babysitting the young girls in our family room, which was still a large empty room. I must have done a pretty good job, since the following summer, Mrs. Dyson asked me to be her mother’s helper, watching four-year-old Callie and two-year-old Beth while their mother did housework or made dinner. At the end of the summer, Mrs. Dyson would have me come over after school every so often, to continue to help her. She even had me babysit while she ran to the grocery store or bank every once in a while.
I’ve only been home from school one day, but I’m starting to realize that I missed little things when I was away. I didn’t even realize I missed them until I got home. I missed my mother’s home cooking. I missed my dad’s corny jokes. I think I also missed babysitting my neighbors.

Melinda was eating breakfast Friday morning when the house phone rang. Her mother answered and held a short conversation before holding the phone against her body and turning to Melinda.
“The Dysons would like to know if you’re available to babysit tonight. From about six to ten, maybe a little later. Mrs. Dyson will feed them, but you need to put them to bed.”
Melinda considered a moment. She enjoyed babysitting the girls across the street, but this was the first time the Dysons had ever asked Melinda to put the children to bed, and she was a little nervous about the responsibility.
“Um, yeah. If it’s okay with you.”
Melinda’s mother smiled as she resumed her phone conversation. “Yes, she can watch the girls.

After an afternoon of texting her friends from school, Melinda had an early supper and walked across the street. She rang the bell a few minutes before six and the door was opened by an enthusiastic Callie.
“Hi! Hi! Hi!” the six-year-old bounced up and down as she pulled Melinda into the house and closed the door. Her damp golden hair was in pigtails, which oscillated as she guided Melinda down the hallway. “I lost a tooth!” she pointed to the gap at the bottom of her mouth. “The tooth fairy gave me two quarters! That’s fifty cents. And, a toothbrush.”
“Wow! That’s so cool!” Melinda followed the little girl into the kitchen, where four-year-old Beth was sitting at the table with a bowl of meatballs. Her long blonde hair was tied back in a braid halfway down her back, presumably to keep it out of the sauce as she ate. Melinda patted her damp head.
“Hey Beth. That looks yummy.”
“It’s my favorite. Mommy made it special for me.”
“Mommy didn’t feel like cooking,” Mrs. Dyson whispered. “So she microwaved some frozen meatballs and dumped on some jarred sauce. Meanwhile, Mr. Dyson and I are going to get the real stuff at Christopher’s.”
Melinda smiled, considering the Italian restaurant in the same strip mall as the movie theater. “That’s my brother’s favorite restaurant.”
“Mine too.” Mr. Dyson entered the kitchen behind her.
Mrs. Dyson clapped her hands together once to get her daughters’ attention. “Okay, girls. Melinda’s going to play with you so Mommy and Daddy can go out for a little while.”
“Yeah!!” both girls exclaimed.
“When you’re done eating, you need to brush your teeth. Then, you can play for a little while until bedtime. Maybe you can even watch a movie, okay?”
Both girls nodded as Mrs. Dyson pointed to the sheet of paper she had affixed to the refrigerator with both their phone numbers and gave Melinda more detailed information about putting the girls to bed.
After their parents had left, Callie and Beth both declared they were finished with their meals. Since they had very little left on their plates, Melinda allowed them each two cookies, as their mother had instructed, then suggested they play a game.
Beth asked to play a cupcake matching game, which involved Melinda placing twenty picture cards face down and the girls needed to match pairs to collect them. Callie went first, turning over one card to reveal a pink cupcake with purple frosting, rainbow sprinkles, and a cherry. She turned over the one next to it, a blue cupcake with chocolate frosting and a cherry. She turned the cards back over and looked at Melinda.
“Why haven’t you never babysitted for us in forever?”
“Well, I went away to school.”
“What does that mean?” asked Beth. “It’s your turn.”
Melinda turned over a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and a cherry.
“Oh. Um…Hmm…What’s your favorite show to watch?” Melinda turned over a vanilla cupcake with purple frosting.
“C.I.Amy!” they both announced.
“I haven’t seen that show. But, my school is really far away. If I left the house right now, you would be able to watch four or five C.I.Amys before I got to my school. Because it’s so far away, I live there.”
“You don’t live across the street anymore?” asked Beth.
Melinda turned her cards back over, but Beth did not seem interested in taking her turn as Melinda continued to explain.
“Well, my mommy and daddy and brother still live there. And when I’m not in school, I live there. Like now. I’m home for a whole week.”
“What’s it like?” asked Callie. “Do you get lots of recess? I like recess.”
“Well, we have lots of time to play with our friends, so yeah. I guess it’s like recess. My best friend and I play games and watch tv together. My other best friend and I go shopping together.”
“Do you have homework? I have homework. My math is easy, but my spelling is hard. Do you have spelling tests?”
Melinda considered. “Kinda. You know how Isabel down the street speaks French?”
“She’s in my class!” announced Beth. “She taught me to count. Ooon. Durr. Two-wha.”
“That’s really cool! Well, I’m learning another language, too. It’s called Latin. It’s kinda like French. And, I have to learn how to spell all those words.”
“Is your math hard?” Callie asked.
“Not for me. But, I have friends who think it’s hard.”
“I wanna know about your friends.” Beth turned over the same two cards she had before.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Callie asked. “Suzi, our other babysitter, she has a boyfriend. Hey, it’s my turn!”
Beth had begun to turn over more cards. “But, I’m trying to find the other purple cupcake. It’s my favorite one.”
“But, that’s not how you play!” Callie reached over to try to turn all the cards back around. Beth tried to hit her sister, but missed.
“Hey!” Melinda spoke a little forcefully, trying to get their attention before a war broke out. “Who wants to watch a movie?”
“I do!” chorused both girls, their argument forgotten.
“What should we watch?” Melinda stood to examine the DVDs lined up on a shelf below the wall-mounted television.
“Ponies!” shouted Beth.
“CIAmy!” shouted Callie.
“Amy!” agreed Beth.
Melinda checked the time. “Why don’t you girls brush your teeth, and then we can watch the show until bedtime.”
The girls were excited to do as Melinda asked, anxious to watch their favorite television show. As soon as their teeth were brushed, Melinda settled them onto the couch and found the show using the television’s on demand menu.
The cartoon aired on one of the educational cable channels and was about a little girl who was a secret agent spy. Her best friend was Sammy McSmartyPants, who helped her solve problems from his headquarters in the public library.
Melinda and the girls watched Amy, who had to escort a Chinese diplomat while Sammy helped her understand some customs. Melinda thought the show was a little silly, but she could see how it might appeal to preschoolers. Meanwhile, the girls were fixated on the television and didn’t even notice when Melinda left the room to use the bathroom.
As she returned to the room, Melinda heard Walter reminding her not to whistle. Her eyebrows raised, she walked into the room in time to hear Amy on the television ask why she shouldn’t whistle. The character was having a conversation with her friend, Sammy McSmartyPants. Melinda watched the scene, listening carefully, and found that if she closed her eyes, she could hear Walter’s voice as Sammy.
Melinda settled herself on the couch between the girls, using her phone to search for the voice cast of the show. Sammy McSmartyPants was voiced by Wally McGregor, which Melinda knew was the name of Walter’s grandfather. But, the voice sounded much too young to be him.
Melinda did a search for Wally McGregor, which took a little time since it appeared to be a fairly common name. After ruling out Walter’s grandfather, who was a famous Broadway producer, Melinda eventually found a Wally McGregor who was a voice actor with over 100 animated film and movie credits to his name, as well as a handful of children’s audiobooks. A short biography identified his father as Adam Evans, lead guitarist for CAVEmen and his mother as the actress Kara McGregor.
“I wanna watch another one!” Beth tried to stifle a yawn. Melinda looked up from her phone to find the episode had ended.
“Me too!” declared Callie.
Melinda checked the time. “It’s getting kind of late. I think you girls should go to bed.”
“One more?” whined Beth
“Please?” added Callie.
Melinda shook her head. “I really don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I’m not going to bed!” Beth crossed her arms in front of her chest.
Melinda resisted the urge to laugh at the cuteness of the tantrum. She racked her brain, trying to figure out how to get the girls upstairs to their rooms.
“Will you go to bed if I give you a piggy back ride?”
“Yay! Uppies!” Beth quickly stood on the couch with her arms open as if she were offering a hug.
“I want one!” Callie stood up just so she could stamp her feet.
“You’re next,” Melinda promised. “Wait here on the couch. I’ll be right back.”
Melinda turned around so Beth could climb on her back, then grabbed Beth’s legs as her arms circled her neck. Melinda carried the girl up the stairs to the purple room at the end of the hall. After depositing her on the bed, Melinda returned to the living room, finding the television had been turned back on.
Melinda put her hands on her hips. “I thought I said it was time for bed.”
Callie shrugged. “I was bored waiting for you.”
“I was only gone, for literally, like a minute!” Melinda rolled her eyes as she turned off the television.
“But that was my favorite one. I’ve never seen it in forever.”
Melinda was not sure what that meant, but she figured Callie was trying to say she had not seen the episode in a long time. Since the show had only debuted a couple of months ago, Melinda wasn’t sure what counted as a long time for a first grader, but she decided not to find out.
“Come on. Piggy back train is going to leave the station. If you miss it, you’ll have to walk all the way to your bed by yourself.”
Callie quickly scrambled to stand on the couch and climb on Melinda’s back. “Weeee,” she exclaimed as they headed up the stairs.
Melinda carried Callie to the green room next to her sister’s, dropping Callie onto a ball of blankets the bed.
“Ouch!”
Melinda looked at the lump. “Beth?”
“Mmm. That hurt.”
“Why aren’t you in your bed?”
“Not tired. I want a story.”
“Story!” said Callie.
“Okay. Get under the covers.” Melinda waited for the girls to do as she said. “Once upon a time, there was a girl named Melinda. She had to move far away to go to school.”
The girls settled into the bed, closing their eyes, as Melinda told them about her life in boarding school.
“Melinda met a girl named Sarah. They share a bedroom.”
“Ooh. Like a sleepover,” said Beth.
“Sometimes, I have a sleepover in Beth’s room or she has a sleepover in here,” Callie explained.
“Yes, like a sleepover,” Melinda agreed. “Melinda and Sarah became best friends and they like to go to the mall together. A little while later, Melinda met a boy named Walter and they became best friends, too. They like to watch television together.”
“Do you watch CIAmy?” Beth asked.
Melinda had to laugh at the irony. “No, they watch a grownup show. But, Walter is a lot like Sammy McSmartyPants.”
“Is he your boyfriend?” Callie asked sleepily. “Our other sitter has a boyfriend.”
Melinda smiled as she shook her head. “No. He’s kinda like my brother at school, since Joey lives here. What else? One day, Melinda and her friends went to the park to rake leaves. They made a big leaf pile and took turns jumping into it.”
“We don’t have any leaves,” Beth said.
“But we went to Grammy’s house and jumped in her leaf pile,” explained Callie.
“Well, one of Melinda’s friends, a boy named Andy? He accidentally pushed the dean into the leaf pile. The dean is like the principal at your school.”
“He pushed Mrs. Hughes into the leaves?” Callie asked with wide eyes.
“Not Mrs. Hughes. Ms. Hunter. She’s my principal.”
“Did he get in a lot of trouble?”
“Melinda and her friends all thought they were gonna be in trouble. But, Ms. Hunter? She just laughed.”
Beth yawned, closing her eyes and keeping them closed as Callie again asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“One day, Melinda met Walter’s brother Pat. Pat liked Melinda and Melinda liked Pat, so she became his girlfriend.”
“Is he nice?” Beth mumbled.
Melinda smiled. “Very.”
Callie closed her eyes. “Do you kiss him?”
“Sometimes.”
“Eeww,” Callie murmured, joining her sister in sleep.
Melinda sat with the girls a few moments until she was certain they were both asleep, then carried Beth to her room and tucked her in. She went back downstairs to the living room to check the time, realizing she had more than two hours before the Dysons were due home.

Sammy McSmartyPants, Melinda texted Walter when she settled onto the couch. A moment later, Pat’s laughing face filled her screen.
“Walter’s getting the popcorn. He’ll be back in a minute. I saw your text.”
Melinda gave him a curious look. “Popcorn?”
Pat shrugged. “It’s Friday night. We’re getting ready to watch Neogenesis. Watch it with us. Then it’ll feel like we’re at Peters’ apartment.”
“I dunno. I’m babysitting.”
“I don’t hear anyone.”
“They’re sleeping.”
“Aren’t you allowed to watch television if they’re sleeping?” Walter asked from off screen.
“Probably. Actually, I just watched this really interesting show with them. It’s got this kid in it named Sammy McSmartyPants. It’s voiced by a Wally McGregor.”
Pat turned angled his phone so Melinda could see Walter, who was possibly turning red, although it was hard to tell, since they boys were sitting in a dark room.
“Pat found out about the show last year,” Walter explained. “He thought the role would be perfect for me. Did you like it?”
“I’m not four. I thought it was silly. But, the girls I’m babysitting love it. I think my cousin mentioned it, too.”
“Apparently, it’s been a great success, because we’ve been picked up for another season. But, don’t tell anyone about Sammy, okay?”
“Where’d the name come from? Not Sammy. Wally?”
“Oh. When I was a baby, my family called me Wally, like Pop-Pop. I was in a couple of movies as a baby and Wally McGregor was my screen name. When I started voice acting, I kept the name.”
“Walter, you never cease to surprise me.”
Walter smiled. “Please?”
“You know I won’t say anything. This time, I get it. If I were Sammy McSmartyPants, I wouldn’t want anyone to know, either.”
Melinda could hear Pat laughing with her as Walter made a face. Pat turned the phone back to him.
“Hey, the show’s starting. You in?”
“I dunno. I don’t wanna wake up the girls.”
“So, keep it low. Come on,” he nearly whined. “It’s more fun watching it with you.”
“Yeah,” agreed Walter. “I need you to explain the parts I missed.”
Melinda sighed. “Fine. But, I’m gonna go check on the girls really quick, make sure they’re okay.”
Melinda turned on the television and tuned it to Neogenesis, making sure the volume was loud enough for her to hear but quiet enough not to disturb the children.
Melinda had left both doors open a crack and the hall light on, in case one of them woke looking for her. She quietly crept into Beth’s doorway and peeked in, seeing the little girl spread eagle with her blankets thrown off. Melinda smiled as she tucked the girl back in and checked on Callie, who was snoring lightly.
She returned downstairs just in time to see the last of the clips from previous episodes. Although everyone was quiet during the show itself, Melinda enjoyed watching it with her friends. On every commercial break, Melinda would mute her phone and run upstairs to check on the girls before returning to the couch and talking with her friends.
During one of the last few commercial breaks, Melinda returned to the couch and unmuted her phone in time to hear Walter complaining.
“Why do you keep muting us? I was trying to ask you a question and instead I’m getting sea sick looking at the stairs.”
Melinda smiled. “Sorry.”
“Why do you spend more time in the purple room than the green one?” Pat asked.
Melinda thought a moment. “I think that’s Beth’s room. She keeps throwing off her covers, so I keep putting them back on. Callie doesn’t do that, so I don’t need to spend as much time in the room. What was your question, Walter?”
“I forgot.” His mouth full of food, but Melinda had no trouble understanding him.
She rolled her eyes. “What are you eating now?”
Walter mumbled something even Melinda couldn’t understand, despite being fluent in Walter’s food-in-mouth language.
“Huh?”
Pat angled the phone away from his brother. “He said that he’s a pig and has no manners.”
“That’s not what I said!” Walter shouted from off screen.
“He’s eating leftover pumpkin pie. Half of a pie.”
Melinda giggled. “You have a problem.”
“I know,” Walter admitted sheepishly.
As the show resumed, Walter must have suddenly remembered his question, because Melinda received a text during the first scene. She waited until she again checked on the girls before bothering to respond.
“It’s not really Luna,” she announced, always surprised that she caught plot twists before her friends.
“Huh?” asked both boys.
“Walter asked me why Luna was acting strange. It’s not really Luna. It’s Stella.”
“Her twin?” asked Walter.
“No way,” agreed Pat.
“I’m telling you. It’s Stella. She was eating with her left hand. And, she…oh, what’s the word. Doc said something and she made a face at him like she considered him beneath her, almost like she hated him. It was just a flash, but she had that look. Sneer! She was sneering at him.”
Melinda could tell the boys were skeptical as the show resumed.
“See, there!” Melinda exclaimed during the final scene. On the screen, a woman had her back to the camera as she was removing her uniform. On her left shoulder was a tattoo of a star. “Stella!”
Pat swore. “I still don’t get how you see all this the first time around.”
Melinda shrugged. “It’s a gift, I guess.”
“I’m gonna watch it again,” Walter announced.
“Have fun.” Pat’s image began jerking in a way that suggested to Melinda he was leaving the room. “So, how late are you babysitting?”

Melinda stayed on the phone with Pat, Melinda muting him every fifteen minutes or so to check on the girls, until the Dysons returned home. Melinda was tucking in Beth for the umpteenth time when she heard the garage door opening and she ended the call without saying goodbye, hoping Pat would understand.
She entered the kitchen the same time as Mr. and Mrs. Dyson. “Hey. How was the movie?”
“It was fantastic,” Mrs. Dyson replied. “We went to see Romeo and Juliet. Have you seen it?”
Mr. Dyson answered before Melinda. “It just came out. She’s been at school. How could she have seen it?”
Melinda smiled. “Actually, there’s a mall shuttle on Sundays. I went with a bunch of friends. It was a good movie.” Melinda neglected to add that her boyfriend played Benvolio.
The thought brought back a sinking feeling in her stomach. She had forgotten about the rumor she had heard yesterday. But, the mention of the movie, in which Poppy Sommers starred as Juliet, brought back all those doubts about her relationship that she had managed to suppress all day.
“How were the girls?” Mrs. Dyson broke Melinda out of her thoughts as Mr. Dyson handed Melinda some money.
“They were fantastic. They went to bed no problem. I checked on them a few times. Beth keeps kicking off her covers. I just tucked her in again, but…”
“Oh, she does that all night long,” Mrs. Dyson laughed. “I gave up tucking her in. She doesn’t seem to notice.”
“Would you like me to walk you home?” Mr. Dyson offered.
“Thanks, but I’ll be okay.” Melinda replied. She removed her coat and hat from the hall closet and shoved her hands in her pockets to keep warm. She waved goodbye to Mr. Dyson, who watched from the open doorway as she crossed their sleepy street to her own house, where Melinda’s mother had left the light on.

[Table Of Contents] [Chapter 34]
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2020.09.10 10:19 AshleighBSB Spying on sister in bathroom

[Cover] [Chapter 1] [Table Of Contents] [Patreon] [Discord]
This is Book 4: Boarding School Break: Happy Thanksgiving.[Book 2: Boarding School Beginnings] [Book 3: Boarding School Boyfriends]

My family moved to my neighborhood a little over three years ago, just before I started middle school. After all the movers brought our boxes into the house and were heading back down the street, our doorbell rang. My mother, assuming she had forgotten to sign some paperwork, answered the door to discover a woman a few years younger than herself. She had a large pan in one hand and behind her sat a double stroller, in which slept two little girls.
Our new neighbor from across the street, Mrs. Dyson, did not stay very long, explaining that she was heading out for her daily jog while her daughters took their afternoon nap. However, she wanted to drop off a casserole she had brought us, assuming we would be so busy unpacking that we would not want to make our own supper. It was a pretty good baked ziti, although I will admit it was not as good as my mother’s sauce.
The following week, once we had become a little more settled, my mother invited Mrs. Dyson to visit. I was charged with babysitting the young girls in our family room, which was still a large empty room. I must have done a pretty good job, since the following summer, Mrs. Dyson asked me to be her mother’s helper, watching four-year-old Callie and two-year-old Beth while their mother did housework or made dinner. At the end of the summer, Mrs. Dyson would have me come over after school every so often, to continue to help her. She even had me babysit while she ran to the grocery store or bank every once in a while.
I’ve only been home from school one day, but I’m starting to realize that I missed little things when I was away. I didn’t even realize I missed them until I got home. I missed my mother’s home cooking. I missed my dad’s corny jokes. I think I also missed babysitting my neighbors.

Melinda was eating breakfast Friday morning when the house phone rang. Her mother answered and held a short conversation before holding the phone against her body and turning to Melinda.
“The Dysons would like to know if you’re available to babysit tonight. From about six to ten, maybe a little later. Mrs. Dyson will feed them, but you need to put them to bed.”
Melinda considered a moment. She enjoyed babysitting the girls across the street, but this was the first time the Dysons had ever asked Melinda to put the children to bed, and she was a little nervous about the responsibility.
“Um, yeah. If it’s okay with you.”
Melinda’s mother smiled as she resumed her phone conversation. “Yes, she can watch the girls.

After an afternoon of texting her friends from school, Melinda had an early supper and walked across the street. She rang the bell a few minutes before six and the door was opened by an enthusiastic Callie.
“Hi! Hi! Hi!” the six-year-old bounced up and down as she pulled Melinda into the house and closed the door. Her damp golden hair was in pigtails, which oscillated as she guided Melinda down the hallway. “I lost a tooth!” she pointed to the gap at the bottom of her mouth. “The tooth fairy gave me two quarters! That’s fifty cents. And, a toothbrush.”
“Wow! That’s so cool!” Melinda followed the little girl into the kitchen, where four-year-old Beth was sitting at the table with a bowl of meatballs. Her long blonde hair was tied back in a braid halfway down her back, presumably to keep it out of the sauce as she ate. Melinda patted her damp head.
“Hey Beth. That looks yummy.”
“It’s my favorite. Mommy made it special for me.”
“Mommy didn’t feel like cooking,” Mrs. Dyson whispered. “So she microwaved some frozen meatballs and dumped on some jarred sauce. Meanwhile, Mr. Dyson and I are going to get the real stuff at Christopher’s.”
Melinda smiled, considering the Italian restaurant in the same strip mall as the movie theater. “That’s my brother’s favorite restaurant.”
“Mine too.” Mr. Dyson entered the kitchen behind her.
Mrs. Dyson clapped her hands together once to get her daughters’ attention. “Okay, girls. Melinda’s going to play with you so Mommy and Daddy can go out for a little while.”
“Yeah!!” both girls exclaimed.
“When you’re done eating, you need to brush your teeth. Then, you can play for a little while until bedtime. Maybe you can even watch a movie, okay?”
Both girls nodded as Mrs. Dyson pointed to the sheet of paper she had affixed to the refrigerator with both their phone numbers and gave Melinda more detailed information about putting the girls to bed.
After their parents had left, Callie and Beth both declared they were finished with their meals. Since they had very little left on their plates, Melinda allowed them each two cookies, as their mother had instructed, then suggested they play a game.
Beth asked to play a cupcake matching game, which involved Melinda placing twenty picture cards face down and the girls needed to match pairs to collect them. Callie went first, turning over one card to reveal a pink cupcake with purple frosting, rainbow sprinkles, and a cherry. She turned over the one next to it, a blue cupcake with chocolate frosting and a cherry. She turned the cards back over and looked at Melinda.
“Why haven’t you never babysitted for us in forever?”
“Well, I went away to school.”
“What does that mean?” asked Beth. “It’s your turn.”
Melinda turned over a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and a cherry.
“Oh. Um…Hmm…What’s your favorite show to watch?” Melinda turned over a vanilla cupcake with purple frosting.
“C.I.Amy!” they both announced.
“I haven’t seen that show. But, my school is really far away. If I left the house right now, you would be able to watch four or five C.I.Amys before I got to my school. Because it’s so far away, I live there.”
“You don’t live across the street anymore?” asked Beth.
Melinda turned her cards back over, but Beth did not seem interested in taking her turn as Melinda continued to explain.
“Well, my mommy and daddy and brother still live there. And when I’m not in school, I live there. Like now. I’m home for a whole week.”
“What’s it like?” asked Callie. “Do you get lots of recess? I like recess.”
“Well, we have lots of time to play with our friends, so yeah. I guess it’s like recess. My best friend and I play games and watch tv together. My other best friend and I go shopping together.”
“Do you have homework? I have homework. My math is easy, but my spelling is hard. Do you have spelling tests?”
Melinda considered. “Kinda. You know how Isabel down the street speaks French?”
“She’s in my class!” announced Beth. “She taught me to count. Ooon. Durr. Two-wha.”
“That’s really cool! Well, I’m learning another language, too. It’s called Latin. It’s kinda like French. And, I have to learn how to spell all those words.”
“Is your math hard?” Callie asked.
“Not for me. But, I have friends who think it’s hard.”
“I wanna know about your friends.” Beth turned over the same two cards she had before.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Callie asked. “Suzi, our other babysitter, she has a boyfriend. Hey, it’s my turn!”
Beth had begun to turn over more cards. “But, I’m trying to find the other purple cupcake. It’s my favorite one.”
“But, that’s not how you play!” Callie reached over to try to turn all the cards back around. Beth tried to hit her sister, but missed.
“Hey!” Melinda spoke a little forcefully, trying to get their attention before a war broke out. “Who wants to watch a movie?”
“I do!” chorused both girls, their argument forgotten.
“What should we watch?” Melinda stood to examine the DVDs lined up on a shelf below the wall-mounted television.
“Ponies!” shouted Beth.
“CIAmy!” shouted Callie.
“Amy!” agreed Beth.
Melinda checked the time. “Why don’t you girls brush your teeth, and then we can watch the show until bedtime.”
The girls were excited to do as Melinda asked, anxious to watch their favorite television show. As soon as their teeth were brushed, Melinda settled them onto the couch and found the show using the television’s on demand menu.
The cartoon aired on one of the educational cable channels and was about a little girl who was a secret agent spy. Her best friend was Sammy McSmartyPants, who helped her solve problems from his headquarters in the public library.
Melinda and the girls watched Amy, who had to escort a Chinese diplomat while Sammy helped her understand some customs. Melinda thought the show was a little silly, but she could see how it might appeal to preschoolers. Meanwhile, the girls were fixated on the television and didn’t even notice when Melinda left the room to use the bathroom.
As she returned to the room, Melinda heard Walter reminding her not to whistle. Her eyebrows raised, she walked into the room in time to hear Amy on the television ask why she shouldn’t whistle. The character was having a conversation with her friend, Sammy McSmartyPants. Melinda watched the scene, listening carefully, and found that if she closed her eyes, she could hear Walter’s voice as Sammy.
Melinda settled herself on the couch between the girls, using her phone to search for the voice cast of the show. Sammy McSmartyPants was voiced by Wally McGregor, which Melinda knew was the name of Walter’s grandfather. But, the voice sounded much too young to be him.
Melinda did a search for Wally McGregor, which took a little time since it appeared to be a fairly common name. After ruling out Walter’s grandfather, who was a famous Broadway producer, Melinda eventually found a Wally McGregor who was a voice actor with over 100 animated film and movie credits to his name, as well as a handful of children’s audiobooks. A short biography identified his father as Adam Evans, lead guitarist for CAVEmen and his mother as the actress Kara McGregor.
“I wanna watch another one!” Beth tried to stifle a yawn. Melinda looked up from her phone to find the episode had ended.
“Me too!” declared Callie.
Melinda checked the time. “It’s getting kind of late. I think you girls should go to bed.”
“One more?” whined Beth
“Please?” added Callie.
Melinda shook her head. “I really don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I’m not going to bed!” Beth crossed her arms in front of her chest.
Melinda resisted the urge to laugh at the cuteness of the tantrum. She racked her brain, trying to figure out how to get the girls upstairs to their rooms.
“Will you go to bed if I give you a piggy back ride?”
“Yay! Uppies!” Beth quickly stood on the couch with her arms open as if she were offering a hug.
“I want one!” Callie stood up just so she could stamp her feet.
“You’re next,” Melinda promised. “Wait here on the couch. I’ll be right back.”
Melinda turned around so Beth could climb on her back, then grabbed Beth’s legs as her arms circled her neck. Melinda carried the girl up the stairs to the purple room at the end of the hall. After depositing her on the bed, Melinda returned to the living room, finding the television had been turned back on.
Melinda put her hands on her hips. “I thought I said it was time for bed.”
Callie shrugged. “I was bored waiting for you.”
“I was only gone, for literally, like a minute!” Melinda rolled her eyes as she turned off the television.
“But that was my favorite one. I’ve never seen it in forever.”
Melinda was not sure what that meant, but she figured Callie was trying to say she had not seen the episode in a long time. Since the show had only debuted a couple of months ago, Melinda wasn’t sure what counted as a long time for a first grader, but she decided not to find out.
“Come on. Piggy back train is going to leave the station. If you miss it, you’ll have to walk all the way to your bed by yourself.”
Callie quickly scrambled to stand on the couch and climb on Melinda’s back. “Weeee,” she exclaimed as they headed up the stairs.
Melinda carried Callie to the green room next to her sister’s, dropping Callie onto a ball of blankets the bed.
“Ouch!”
Melinda looked at the lump. “Beth?”
“Mmm. That hurt.”
“Why aren’t you in your bed?”
“Not tired. I want a story.”
“Story!” said Callie.
“Okay. Get under the covers.” Melinda waited for the girls to do as she said. “Once upon a time, there was a girl named Melinda. She had to move far away to go to school.”
The girls settled into the bed, closing their eyes, as Melinda told them about her life in boarding school.
“Melinda met a girl named Sarah. They share a bedroom.”
“Ooh. Like a sleepover,” said Beth.
“Sometimes, I have a sleepover in Beth’s room or she has a sleepover in here,” Callie explained.
“Yes, like a sleepover,” Melinda agreed. “Melinda and Sarah became best friends and they like to go to the mall together. A little while later, Melinda met a boy named Walter and they became best friends, too. They like to watch television together.”
“Do you watch CIAmy?” Beth asked.
Melinda had to laugh at the irony. “No, they watch a grownup show. But, Walter is a lot like Sammy McSmartyPants.”
“Is he your boyfriend?” Callie asked sleepily. “Our other sitter has a boyfriend.”
Melinda smiled as she shook her head. “No. He’s kinda like my brother at school, since Joey lives here. What else? One day, Melinda and her friends went to the park to rake leaves. They made a big leaf pile and took turns jumping into it.”
“We don’t have any leaves,” Beth said.
“But we went to Grammy’s house and jumped in her leaf pile,” explained Callie.
“Well, one of Melinda’s friends, a boy named Andy? He accidentally pushed the dean into the leaf pile. The dean is like the principal at your school.”
“He pushed Mrs. Hughes into the leaves?” Callie asked with wide eyes.
“Not Mrs. Hughes. Ms. Hunter. She’s my principal.”
“Did he get in a lot of trouble?”
“Melinda and her friends all thought they were gonna be in trouble. But, Ms. Hunter? She just laughed.”
Beth yawned, closing her eyes and keeping them closed as Callie again asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“One day, Melinda met Walter’s brother Pat. Pat liked Melinda and Melinda liked Pat, so she became his girlfriend.”
“Is he nice?” Beth mumbled.
Melinda smiled. “Very.”
Callie closed her eyes. “Do you kiss him?”
“Sometimes.”
“Eeww,” Callie murmured, joining her sister in sleep.
Melinda sat with the girls a few moments until she was certain they were both asleep, then carried Beth to her room and tucked her in. She went back downstairs to the living room to check the time, realizing she had more than two hours before the Dysons were due home.

Sammy McSmartyPants, Melinda texted Walter when she settled onto the couch. A moment later, Pat’s laughing face filled her screen.
“Walter’s getting the popcorn. He’ll be back in a minute. I saw your text.”
Melinda gave him a curious look. “Popcorn?”
Pat shrugged. “It’s Friday night. We’re getting ready to watch Neogenesis. Watch it with us. Then it’ll feel like we’re at Peters’ apartment.”
“I dunno. I’m babysitting.”
“I don’t hear anyone.”
“They’re sleeping.”
“Aren’t you allowed to watch television if they’re sleeping?” Walter asked from off screen.
“Probably. Actually, I just watched this really interesting show with them. It’s got this kid in it named Sammy McSmartyPants. It’s voiced by a Wally McGregor.”
Pat turned angled his phone so Melinda could see Walter, who was possibly turning red, although it was hard to tell, since they boys were sitting in a dark room.
“Pat found out about the show last year,” Walter explained. “He thought the role would be perfect for me. Did you like it?”
“I’m not four. I thought it was silly. But, the girls I’m babysitting love it. I think my cousin mentioned it, too.”
“Apparently, it’s been a great success, because we’ve been picked up for another season. But, don’t tell anyone about Sammy, okay?”
“Where’d the name come from? Not Sammy. Wally?”
“Oh. When I was a baby, my family called me Wally, like Pop-Pop. I was in a couple of movies as a baby and Wally McGregor was my screen name. When I started voice acting, I kept the name.”
“Walter, you never cease to surprise me.”
Walter smiled. “Please?”
“You know I won’t say anything. This time, I get it. If I were Sammy McSmartyPants, I wouldn’t want anyone to know, either.”
Melinda could hear Pat laughing with her as Walter made a face. Pat turned the phone back to him.
“Hey, the show’s starting. You in?”
“I dunno. I don’t wanna wake up the girls.”
“So, keep it low. Come on,” he nearly whined. “It’s more fun watching it with you.”
“Yeah,” agreed Walter. “I need you to explain the parts I missed.”
Melinda sighed. “Fine. But, I’m gonna go check on the girls really quick, make sure they’re okay.”
Melinda turned on the television and tuned it to Neogenesis, making sure the volume was loud enough for her to hear but quiet enough not to disturb the children.
Melinda had left both doors open a crack and the hall light on, in case one of them woke looking for her. She quietly crept into Beth’s doorway and peeked in, seeing the little girl spread eagle with her blankets thrown off. Melinda smiled as she tucked the girl back in and checked on Callie, who was snoring lightly.
She returned downstairs just in time to see the last of the clips from previous episodes. Although everyone was quiet during the show itself, Melinda enjoyed watching it with her friends. On every commercial break, Melinda would mute her phone and run upstairs to check on the girls before returning to the couch and talking with her friends.
During one of the last few commercial breaks, Melinda returned to the couch and unmuted her phone in time to hear Walter complaining.
“Why do you keep muting us? I was trying to ask you a question and instead I’m getting sea sick looking at the stairs.”
Melinda smiled. “Sorry.”
“Why do you spend more time in the purple room than the green one?” Pat asked.
Melinda thought a moment. “I think that’s Beth’s room. She keeps throwing off her covers, so I keep putting them back on. Callie doesn’t do that, so I don’t need to spend as much time in the room. What was your question, Walter?”
“I forgot.” His mouth full of food, but Melinda had no trouble understanding him.
She rolled her eyes. “What are you eating now?”
Walter mumbled something even Melinda couldn’t understand, despite being fluent in Walter’s food-in-mouth language.
“Huh?”
Pat angled the phone away from his brother. “He said that he’s a pig and has no manners.”
“That’s not what I said!” Walter shouted from off screen.
“He’s eating leftover pumpkin pie. Half of a pie.”
Melinda giggled. “You have a problem.”
“I know,” Walter admitted sheepishly.
As the show resumed, Walter must have suddenly remembered his question, because Melinda received a text during the first scene. She waited until she again checked on the girls before bothering to respond.
“It’s not really Luna,” she announced, always surprised that she caught plot twists before her friends.
“Huh?” asked both boys.
“Walter asked me why Luna was acting strange. It’s not really Luna. It’s Stella.”
“Her twin?” asked Walter.
“No way,” agreed Pat.
“I’m telling you. It’s Stella. She was eating with her left hand. And, she…oh, what’s the word. Doc said something and she made a face at him like she considered him beneath her, almost like she hated him. It was just a flash, but she had that look. Sneer! She was sneering at him.”
Melinda could tell the boys were skeptical as the show resumed.
“See, there!” Melinda exclaimed during the final scene. On the screen, a woman had her back to the camera as she was removing her uniform. On her left shoulder was a tattoo of a star. “Stella!”
Pat swore. “I still don’t get how you see all this the first time around.”
Melinda shrugged. “It’s a gift, I guess.”
“I’m gonna watch it again,” Walter announced.
“Have fun.” Pat’s image began jerking in a way that suggested to Melinda he was leaving the room. “So, how late are you babysitting?”

Melinda stayed on the phone with Pat, Melinda muting him every fifteen minutes or so to check on the girls, until the Dysons returned home. Melinda was tucking in Beth for the umpteenth time when she heard the garage door opening and she ended the call without saying goodbye, hoping Pat would understand.
She entered the kitchen the same time as Mr. and Mrs. Dyson. “Hey. How was the movie?”
“It was fantastic,” Mrs. Dyson replied. “We went to see Romeo and Juliet. Have you seen it?”
Mr. Dyson answered before Melinda. “It just came out. She’s been at school. How could she have seen it?”
Melinda smiled. “Actually, there’s a mall shuttle on Sundays. I went with a bunch of friends. It was a good movie.” Melinda neglected to add that her boyfriend played Benvolio.
The thought brought back a sinking feeling in her stomach. She had forgotten about the rumor she had heard yesterday. But, the mention of the movie, in which Poppy Sommers starred as Juliet, brought back all those doubts about her relationship that she had managed to suppress all day.
“How were the girls?” Mrs. Dyson broke Melinda out of her thoughts as Mr. Dyson handed Melinda some money.
“They were fantastic. They went to bed no problem. I checked on them a few times. Beth keeps kicking off her covers. I just tucked her in again, but…”
“Oh, she does that all night long,” Mrs. Dyson laughed. “I gave up tucking her in. She doesn’t seem to notice.”
“Would you like me to walk you home?” Mr. Dyson offered.
“Thanks, but I’ll be okay.” Melinda replied. She removed her coat and hat from the hall closet and shoved her hands in her pockets to keep warm. She waved goodbye to Mr. Dyson, who watched from the open doorway as she crossed their sleepy street to her own house, where Melinda’s mother had left the light on.

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[Table Of Contents] [Chapter 3]
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2020.09.04 16:57 welcometosouthapp Spying on sister in bathroom

Friday, September 4th, 2020
I can’t believe Winston’s making me do this on my birthday!
It was sunrise on Gigi’s 19th birthday. She dragged a gas-powered chainsaw across the North Campus quad. An hour earlier, Winston had woken Gigi up with a phone call. “Fetch my chainsaw from under the bed and meet me at the library.Click. Not even a “Happy birthday.”
So, she’d rolled out of bed in a white tank top and baby-blue yoga pants. Call it morbid curiosity. Only Winston could come up with such demands, after all.
Gigi was streaked in oil and sweat. She hobbled to the library entrance and let the hunk of metal fall to the ground. North Campus was a vast expanse of willow trees and solitude at sunrise. But something was very…off.
Suddenly, Winston popped out of the bushes and pointed a pistol at Gigi’s forehead. “You’re alone on campus on a day like today,” he rattled off. “Out of the blue, some hooligan hops out of the bushes and tells you to wring your pockets. But you’re wearing a sundress, so you don’t have any pockets. So instead, he-”
“YEET!” Gigi screamed, kicking Winston’s crotch. He crumbled to the ground, hitting a falsetto.
“Oh...shit! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
“Shiiiet, it’s all right,” Winston moaned, rolling over on his back. Gigi’s frowning, pale face eclipsed the rising sun. “Happy birthday. It’s a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard. Too small for me. Be mindful of the trigger-pull and recoil. But I reckon it’s compact enough for your frou-frou jeans.”
“Oh! I...thank you! But why?” The warm gun fit in her small hand like a glove.
Winston stood up. “Hell, you’ve had my back since I got here. I reckon I oughta return the favor. I ain’t the brightest slice of pie in the knife drawer. But as long as you’re the brains, I may as well make due and be the brawn.”
I stole your other gun and our friends stole your fake IDs! is what Gigi wanted to say. “You...make me feel really safe, Winston!” is what she actually said, slipping the gun in her purse.
Winston lifted the chainsaw. “Welp, it’s time to cut some ties. We’ve got a rat in the frat. Some Alpha Beta Kappa brother pretendin’ to be one of us. See that tree down yonder? That’s their secret meet-up spot. And it’s gotta come down.”
ABK, or “All Big Kocks", started as a frat that met in an off-campus apartment. Then, Clyde (son of Dean Dale Crenshaw) took over. Overnight, the funding skyrocketed. This Honors Music Fraternity was BDE’s greatest rival. Live shows every Friday night, a 3.8 GPA entrance criteria, and co-ed. “Why go to any other frat parties?” Clyde would always argue. “When the women are already here?
“So, about this rat,” Gigi mused, following Winston to the tree. “You asked him nicely to leave?”
“Well, let’s just say he’s branded for life. Name was Taggart, and we actually rushed together. Poor bastard.”
The lumberjack revved the chainsaw. His large pecs and biceps bulged under his shirt as he put that smoking-hot metal to work. He’d easily replaced 20 pounds of fat with muscle. And as that hundreds-year-old tree crashed to the ground, Gigi reminded herself to stay on his good side.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here!” Winston yelled, taking off. “They’ll arrest you too! Hell, you’re the one with the filed-off serial number.”
“W-what?!” Gigi’s voice cracked as she sprinted past him.
“Fuckin’ with ya, Gigi.”
Gigi rode shotgun in Winston’s truck. She kicked off her flats and began massaging her sore feet.
“Um...I definitely stink,” Gigi laughed nervously, slipping her shoe back on. That was Winston’s cue to roll the window back up. She reached into her purse and pulled out the huge charcoal bath bomb that she stole from Sarah. “Dear Chadwick Hughes’ spirit: all I want for my birthday is a bath!”
“Hmm.” Winston drove past Firewater Hall toward Greek Row. “You’re a wanted woman,” he reminded her. “If we go to the house, you’re gonna have to sneak in. If Ryan finds ya, he’ll put your head on a pike.”
Ah, Gigi thought. Because we snuck in, punched him out, and blew up his father’s ashes. Seems...fair.
They pulled up to the BDE house and saw Ryan’s white BMW in the driveway. Winston shut off his Roush engine and instinctively pulled Gigi’s head into his lap, hiding her from plain view.
“Here’s the plan, birthday gal. I’ll go upstairs and grab a shower in the guest bathroom. I’ll save ya some hot water. Wait here, and I’ll text ya when everything’s ready.”
Winston slipped inside. Gigi lay across the passenger and driver’s seat. She thought about bailing and driving to Denny’s for free birthday pancakes. But Winston had the keys. And as her sweating, greased-up body melted in that god-awful hot truck, she decided that she really wanted that bath.
Gigi drifted off to sleep. In her dreams, she sat at a kitchen table in a massive Beverly Hills mansion. In front of Winston were a birthday cake and a huge gift bag. “Happy birthday, Winston!” she exclaimed. Winston reached into the bag and pulled out his lost Colt Single Action Army. “Ta-da! It’s your gun!” Then, he pulled out his lost BDE binder. “Ta-da! It’s your fake IDs!” Finally, he reached into the bag and pulled out a pair of yellow and white striped panties with a lacy bow. “Ta-da! It’s my virginity!
Gigi bolted awake to her phone vibrating. A text from Winston. Ready. Use the ladder. She sat up from her puddle of sweat and made her way around the side of the house.
At the top of the raggedy fire escape ladder, Gigi reached the second-story open window. Tea candles lined the shelf of an elegant clawfoot bathtub, filled to the brim with steaming water. Beside the tub was a shower caddy containing a bottle of merlot, a bag of chocolate-covered almonds, several high-end soaps and face masks, and a note.
To my partner in crime: I reckon we managed to evade the law quite a few times since we moved here. Truth is, ain’t no bathtubs in jail. Now, enjoy all this bougie shit that I found in Claire’s room. Happy birthday - Winston.
“He writes just like he speaks,” Gigi whispered, holding the letter to her chest.
Gigi stripped down to her underwear and neatly folded her clothes in a pile. On the floor was Winston’s t-shirt and blue jeans from earlier. I’m sure he’ll wear that again! She slipped off her yellow panties. After some thought, or no thought at all, she stuffed them into the back pocket of his jeans.
Gigi lowered herself into her first college bath. Even the water felt softer and silkier than in the dorm, whose water flowed from lead-flavored pipes. She picked her brain for every get-rich-quick scheme in the book, aspiring to live in such comfort full-time.
I could blackmail Sarah and Tai about that binder, she thought, submerging her head under water. Maybe I can convince them to give me a cut of their profits! So that a poor student like me can buy clothes that aren’t secondhand! But that would mean keeping the fake IDs a secret from Winston and betraying his trust...
Gigi shot up from the water, gasping for breath. She rubbed her eyes and slicked back her jet-black hair. Then, she unwrapped the bath bomb. It fizzled as a milky grey mist clouded her entire bath.
Winston, would you forgive me? Gigi lifted her hand out of the water and read her nearly-faded tattoo. And if I take a cut of their earnings, I’ll buy the cutest outfits to wear for you. I’m-
She lowered her tattooed hand into the cloudy water, where it disappeared between her legs.
“I’m ready for you, Winston.”
***
“Look at this swole son of a bitch!” greeted Brother Twinston, as Winston entered the cozy living room after his shower. They and eight other pledges dressed in white button-downs and tan slacks, adorned with a BDE pin on the collar.
Winston grabbed Twinston in a playful headlock. “I reckon ain’t nobody gonna be able to tell us apart now.”
“I reckon you’re right, stunt double!” Twinston agreed. This young man was a spitting image of Winston in looks and spirit. They had met at a frat party after taking whiskey shots and reaching for the pickle jar at the same time. Bromance at first sight.
“Enough faggotry,” Ryan commanded, walking up the podium by the fireplace. As the de-facto alpha of the room, his pomade-style hair stood taller than everyone else’s. Seven AM on Friday was BDE’s weekly meeting, and brothers were expressly forbidden from taking Friday classes. Because as soon as this was over, the weekend pre-gaming would commence.
“Now, Winston!” Ryan began. “Looks like your sausage fingers got some dirt under your nails. I trust the deed was done?”
“As motherfuckin’ Shakespeare said: the tree fell, nobody was around, and it still made a fuckin’ sound. I reckon ABK’s hideout is being hauled off by a truck as we speak.”
“You’ve never had a way with words,” Ryan pointed out. “But I gotta admit: you get shit done. Now, if another rat wants to show their face, I got no problem burning down their momma’s house. Next on the list. We gotta talk about two of our…ex-members. Claire and Connor. She packed up the rest of her shit and slipped out of here last night. I’ll be posting an application for Social Chair on our Facebook page.”
Last week, after Winston had caught Claire cheating on him with Frank, she had officially stepped down from BDE.
“Hell, let’s break tradition and make it a man, for Christ’s sake!” Twinston piped up. Despite only being a sophomore, he had clout among the senior brothers.
“I’ll consider it,” Ryan said, shrugging. “You know women: always afraid of commitment. Bitch didn’t even give a reason for leaving. Although I’m not gonna lie: I’m gonna miss those tits during strip poker.”
Two muscular black brothers gave each other a crisp high-five.
“Now, onto Connor. Not only did this beta bitch get a DUI, but he had our motherfucking coke on him.” Ryan tossed a bag of red-and-white cocaine on the coffee table. “Now what the fuck did we say about taking coke out of the house?”
“Don’t go to the buyers - let the buyers come to you,” the brothers responded in unison.
“Final topic of conversation,” Ryan announced, holding up a saloon-style wanted poster. “I’d like to announce that I've delivered swift, painful justice to the bastards who stole my father’s ashes.” On that poster were security camera photos of Frank, Tweed, and Chad - their faces X’d out. Next to their images were lo-res pics of Gigi and Sarah. “I’m increasing the bounty to 2500 bucks for whoever brings me the other two cunts.”
This bounty was news to Winston. Nobody knew he was even related to Sarah, or that Gigi was currently bathing upstairs. While the brothers salivated over the reward money, Ryan swiped a fire poker cast with BDE at the tip. “We took those three bastards out to the quad and branded them for life! Sent their bitch-asses packing. But as for these two dumb sluts...I think they were the masterminds of the whole goddamn plan. I say we tie ‘em down and apply directly to the forehead!”
“Yeah, man, fuck these ho’s,” Winston played along. “They did your daddy wrong. But real talk, I say we track ‘em down and exile them from the fuckin’ campus for life. Ain’t no use in getting thrown in jail for assault. Hell, that’s where those bitches belong.”
“Winston, I’m disappointed in you, chief,” Ryan said condescendingly, slamming the poker on the fireplace with a loud clank. He walked over to Winston and stood eye-to-eye with him. Dead silence. Finally, Ryan cracked a douchey grin.
“All right, all right,” Ryan chuckled. “I’ll go easy on ‘em...that is, if they drop to their knees and suck every last drop from us until they fucking drown!”
The brothers roared like animals, chanting Ryan’s name as he ripped open the bag of red-and-white cocaine. Winston forced a painful smile as the nausea set in. Ryan leaned over the coffee table and proceeded to snort his usual Friday-morning line.
“WHO’S GOT MOTHERFUCKING BIG DICKS?” Ryan screamed psychotically.
“WE DO!” the brothers yelled, banging their chests.
“AND ON MY DEAD DAD’S GRAVE! IF ANYBODY CROSSES BETA DELTA EPSILON, WE’LL DISEMBOWEL THEM AND SHIT DOWN THEIR THROATS!”
Ryan flipped over the glass coffee table, shattering it into pieces.
***
The massive South Campus quad was speckled with students playing ultimate frisbee, strumming guitars, and pretending to study. It was Tai’s happy place. Ever since Jacky turned him loose, he and Sarah had been practicing Krav Maga during sunset. A zen-like hobby that helped him clear his mind and shrink his erection.
Tai landed a shaky roundhouse kick as he spotted a young lady in the corner of his eye.
“I’ve got your rematch, Sarah,” Tai jeered, landing a sloppy jump-spinning crescent kick. But as he stuck the landing, he witnessed Gigi in a traditional kimono and a chopstick bun.
“I accept your challenge in Sarah’s stead!” Gigi cheered, bowing deeply.
“Wait...huh? Where’s Sarah?”
“Ah, in celebration of my 6,939th day on Planet Earth, she elected to maintain a record of meeting notes in my dreadful Comparative Literature enrichment!”
A blank stare from Tai as he slowly shifted into a guarding stance.
“I mean...it’s my fucking birthday, so she went to class for me!” She kicked off her flats and crouched into a grappling stance. “Now, will you hand over a third of your fake ID profits? Or will I have to spill the Bush’s Bourbon and Brown Sugar baked beans to Winston?”
“W-what?! Who told you?”
“Hmmm...twas but a whisper in the wind - a grape from the vine!” Gigi inched toward Tai, who cautiously backed up.
“Okay, look...don’t, um, don’t do anything drastic! We’re gonna pay it back to him, I promise. If you think about it, we’re just doing the work for him. It’s just that...well, it’s been a tough week so we can’t really afford to give you that kind of money!”
“As you wish. I’ll have to beat it out of you instead!”
Tai threw a lunging side kick. But the swift Gigi virtually teleported behind him. She jammed her thumbs into the tender spot below his ears.
“Fool, a petite fighter such as myself must play defensively,” Gigi bragged, regrouping. “I’ve been watching you. Looks like those kicks have thrown you off balance, Mister Flat Foot!”
“You can kiss that ID money goodbye,” Tai scoffed, rubbing his pressure points.
“That’s perfectly fine, grasshopper! I don’t intend to ask for it.”
Tai side-stepped and tried for a sweep kick. Gigi raised her leg over her head like a Chinese gymnast. He fell forward from his own momentum, but Gigi pressed her foot against his face to stop the fall. She wiggled her toes, then gave him a firm roundhouse to the side of the head. Tai fell back onto the grass. As he lost his breath, she wrapped her arms and legs around him from behind. A rear-naked chokehold that Sarah would've been damn proud of.
“Jaleo gada, jaleo gada, jaleo gada,” Gigi cooed in Korean, squeezing his windpipe. And “go to sleep” he did.
Ten minutes later, Tai sat up with a start, drenched in sweat. A ring of students surrounded him.
“Break it up, dudes and dudettes!” Sarah exclaimed, forcing her way through the crowd. The students dispersed as she helped the oblivious Tai to his feet.
“Oh...fuck,” Tai groaned. He fumbled for his minimalist metal wallet. Six-hundred dollars in cash was gone.
“You got robbed, my guy?” Sarah asked, kigh as a hite.
“That’s not even the half of it. This is bad. I have a lot to explain to you.”
Tai recapped his encounter with Gigi, while he and Sarah sipped lattes on the library’s top floor.
“Holy mother of balls,” Sarah whispered after Tai explained Gigi’s blackmailing.
“Look, maybe we come clean. Do you think you can talk to Winston?”
“Not a chance in Woodstock,” Sarah replied, frantically shaking her dreadlocks. “My brother’s all about loyalty first. He’d cut my hair while I was asleep and he’d circumcise you while you were awake.”
Tai instinctively covered his crotch as they stopped at a bulletin board. “So...we’re Gigi’s bitches," said Tai. "If we owe her a cut every time we make a sale, we’ve gotta find a better market.” On cue, he swiped a flyer from the bulletin board. TONIGHT: Alpha Beta Kappa proudly presents the Housewarming Masquerade. $10 cover. All students welcome.
***
The good ole’ southern twins stood on the wrap-around porch, whiskey in hand.
“Look, brother,” Twinston started, patting Winston’s back. “I’ve known Ryan for a year. I know he can get a little...impulsive with his words. But that don’t mean he’s impulsive with his actions. You’re worried about them two girls, aren’t ya?”
Winston was one text message away from telling Gigi and Sarah to flee campus. During last month’s frat party, he had never thought to question why Frank and Gigi had shown up in the first place. It never occurred to him that they were there to blow Ryan’s father’s legacy to smithereens.
Ryan stumbled out in a bright red bathrobe that matched his stuffy, red nose. “Shit, I almost forgot to ask ya, Winston,” he slurred. “I meant to collect your fake ID money for this week.”
Winston was so close to coming clean. Some jack-off stole the binder! he wanted to say. But the punishment for having lost it would be swift and fierce. So, he reached into his wallet and pulled out 600 bucks, straight from his own student loan account.
“Geez, tough week again, huh?” Ryan jeered, snatching the cash. “Where have you been trying to sell them?”
“Oh, you know...the regular beats,” Winston lied. “I reckon I ain’t gonna hit the library on weekdays no more.”
“The library?” Twinston repeated, bewildered. “Shit, what’s it like in there? Ain’t never been.”
“Not your brightest moment, I’m not gonna lie,” Ryan chuckled at Winston. “But, at least you learned your lesson for next week.” Winston nodded, taking it on the chin. If he had to make another withdraw, there wouldn’t be a “next week.” Winston had to find that ID thief.
“Whoa, what the hell?” Twinston pointed at a fleet of U-Haul vans, led by a 2021 silver BMW. They watched as the vehicles pulled into the driveway of the empty frat house next door.
“Holy fucking shit,” Ryan gasped. “It’s motherfucking Alpha Beta Kappa.”
The bald driver opened the butterfly doors. Thick marijuana smoke trickled out of the car. The passenger doors sprang up, and out hopped a freckle-faced redhead with a pornstar body. She brought a wheelchair over to the driver’s side and helped the bald guy into the seat. Then, she marveled at the huge mansion and jumped up and down in her stilettos, her huge breasts bouncing in her tight corset. She rushed into the new house, pausing to give Winston a quick glance before she entered.
Another redhead, huh? Winston thought. My favorite flavor.
The bald guy rolled over to the BDE house in his wheelchair, a present in his lap. His large biceps and tattoos were on full display in his worn Guns N’ Roses sleeveless tee. His jeans were bleached and destroyed and his black Converse were spotless.
“What’s up, neighbors?” the paraplegic spoke in a loud, baritone voice. He handed the present to Ryan. “I’m Clyde, President of Alpha Beta Kappa. Looks like we’re gonna be seeing a whole lot of each other.”
“Uh...yeah, my name’s Ryan.” He extended a hand while using the other to dab his bloody nose. “So...I thought Tri-Delt leased the house next door.”
“I assume you know sororities almost as well as I do. Truth is: women are too damn afraid of commitment. You gonna open that present or what?”
Ryan slipped off the bow and tore the wrapping paper. It was a penis pump.
“Now, let me lay down some ground rules for you and your twins,” Clyde continued, straightening his posture in the chair. “There’s only room for one big dick on Greek Row. Now you may think you have a big dick. But there’s a gang of nine-inch fresh-cut cocks in town.”
Clyde whistled with his fingers. The U-Haul truck doors rolled up. And out came a cavalry of ABK brothers, hauling furniture toward the house as they chanted “All Big Kocks!” Like pallbearers, they each grabbed a corner of expensive sofas, desks, and beds. Posing on top of each piece of furniture was a topless ABK sister. The brothers escorted them like royalty into the soon-to-be furnished mansion.
Clyde unfolded a flyer from his back pocket and handed it to Ryan. “Bring your asses tonight. There are plenty more tits where those came from.” It was an invitation to the ABK Housewarming Masquerade. Clyde swiveled around and rolled back on over to his new house. “By the way!” Clyde called out. “I don’t condone Taggart for spying on y’all like he did! I don’t care who you work for: a rat is a rat!”
“That’s bullshit,” Ryan whispered. He knew good and well that Taggart’s spying was planned and coordinated by Clyde himself. “If they’re gonna spy on us, we’re gonna do the same fuckin’ thing to them.”
“Sit back and relax,” Winston finally broke his silence, standing tall next to his doppelganger. “My twin and I will crash this party and dig up as much dirt as possible.”
“And he and I are the only two who can be in two places at once,” Twinston added.
“Then we infiltrate tonight!” Ryan announced. “Because gentlemen, Greek Row is a pair of tight spandex trunks. And there’s only room for one big dick.”
***
Watching Tai work was amazing.
At the ABK Masquerade, the masked Sarah sat at the bar in the massive concert venue. Clyde’s 90’s cover band was onstage. Like clockwork, the masked Tai would sniff out gay clientele, grab a fake ID from the binder, approach him, make out with him on the dance floor, and come back with a fistful of dollars.
“I’m averaging one sale per song,” Tai panted, wiping somebody’s lipstick from his mouth. “Here, hit me with another ID!”
“You do know this is borderline prostitution, my dude?”
“I...yes.”
Prostitution or not, they racked up a thousand bucks in the first hour. And with Gigi taking a cut of their sales, they were going to need that extra money to keep this operation afloat.
“Take a break, will ya?” Sarah suggested, patting the barstool next to her.
The freckle-faced redhead from Clyde’s BMW was bartending. She wore bright blue fairy wings, a lacy corset, and a glittery half-mask. “Two lemon drops, my loves,” she cooed in a Scottish accent, setting the drinks on the bar. “Aw, I love how comfy you two look!”
Tai and Sarah were dressed down in South App hoodies and yoga pants: items that every female or gay student owned. The goal was to not stand out while selling fake IDs. And yet, they had failed to wear masks.
“I prefer to dress like I do around the house,” the fairy said with a smile, fluttering off to help the next patron.
Outside, Winston and Twinston - the twin spies - walked up the ABK steps in matching button-downs, slacks, and white opera masks. They psyched each other up. The “Who’s got big dicks? We’ve got big dicks!” standard affair. Suddenly, a pack of drunk girls stormed out the front door and spilled an entire glass of cranberry vodka on Winston’s khakis. “Suck it up, buttercup!” she slurred, stumbling off with her posse. Co-ed fraternity girls were a different breed.
“Shit,” Winston muttered, looking down at the mess.
“Better go change, brother,” Twinston suggested. “I’mma gather some intel until you get back.”
Winston retreated to the BDE house while Twinston entered the party alone. He stood at the entrance, absorbing the nostalgia of the 90’s rock set. Permanently-seated Clyde was on drums. A crowd of groupies sang along up front while everyone else gathered on the dance floor.
“Jack and Coke,” Twinston told the fairy bartender. “If you have time.”
From the dance floor, Tai and Sarah were casually mingling and making fake ID sales. They were also people-watching. “It’s fucking uncanny,” Tai began, pointing at Twinston from afar.
“I’m telling you, that’s not Winston,” Sarah argued. “If you want proof, ask him to drop his pants. My brother has a birthmark on his upper-left ass cheek.”
“W-what?!”
“That dude could fool almost anyone though. But a sister always knows.”
Suddenly, all eyes shot toward the front door. In walked a young South Korean student in a baby-blue evening dress. Trailing behind her was a long, ornate satin train. The side-splitting fabric exposed her white-laced garter belt that ran from her thighs to her matching open-toed high heels. Instantly, she won the room.
Clyde hit the final snare, ending his Jane’s Addiction cover. “Well, don’t just stand there, princess!” Clyde called out to the woman, beckoning her onstage with a drumstick. “Come on up and introduce yourself.”
Princess Gigi obliged, but not before giving Tai and Sarah a passing glance. “I hope you’re on your A-game with those sales,” she whispered with a devious grin. “Because I need money for a red dress just like this one!”
Sarah tugged on Tai’s sleeve. “Let’s get the fuck out of here!” she hissed. “Hey...uh bartender?”
“I’m Miri,” the Scottish redhead responded. “But I bid you call me Miri.”
“Miri, care to point us to the back door?”
Tai and Sarah slipped through the kitchen and out the back door. Miri kept pouring for thirsty patrons, all while eyeing this Korean bombshell on stage.
“Um...hi, everyone!” Gigi greeted, while the seated Clyde held the microphone to her mouth. “It’s my birthday today, and...I’m sober! Who wants to help me change that?”
Every man on the dance floor cheered like Quentin Tarantino with a glass slipper. Their girlfriends gave Gigi dirty looks, holding their men close. Clyde leaned into her ear. “Don’t let me catch you paying for a single drop tonight.” He turned around and rolled back to the drum set. He clicked his sticks and began a Chili Peppers cover. The party was back underway.
“Another Jack and Coke,” Twinston requested from Miri. “Make it a double-shot.” From the bar, he’d watched the entire spectacle. Now, Gigi was walking over to him.
“Please read,” Gigi said, plopping down next to Twinston. She slipped the thin fabric of her dress to the side, exposing a pale white thigh. Then, she reached under her garter belt for a letter. She slid it across the bar, showing off her baby-blue painted nails. Twinston peeled off the heart-shaped sticker and unfolded the letter. Written in cursive was the most kinky, depraved to-do list of sex acts he had ever seen. At the bottom was a signed statement: For my birthday I, Ji-hye “Gigi” Moon, hereby sign my virginity over to Winston Arnold Beavers.
Clearly, Gigi had the wrong man.
As soon as Miri returned with Twinston's drink, Gigi swiped it. She sipped her first taste of whiskey through a straw, her bedroom eyes growing wider and wider. She slammed the glass of ice on the bar. Then, she leaned into Twinston’s ear and passed an ice cube from her mouth to his.
“Hey, uh...bartender?” Twinston stammered, as Gigi ran her tongue across his fuzzy beard.
“Back door’s through the kitchen,” Miri laughed in a Scottish accent as she watched the flirtatious pair.
Twinston grabbed Gigi’s hand and jetted out of there. If Winston caught them, he’d impale them with his chainsaw and cut the engine on. So they cut across the back yard and entered Twinston’s first-floor bedroom through the window. She immediately slipped out of her dress, leaving on nothing but the heels and garter belt. And as the masked girl spread her legs, Twinston kept telling himself that this was consensual.
***
Winston entered the ABK house in a filthy pair of blue jeans from that morning. The crowd waved their lighters while Clyde’s band played Semisonic’s “Closing Time.” Seeing as it was last call, Winston made a bee-line for the bar. “I’ll have a Jack and Coke, Miss,” Winston said to Miri, tipping his hat. “If you have time.”
Miri cocked her head, her wings and eyebrows twitching. “Wait...what’s going on?” she asked, taken aback by Winston’s twin from five minutes earlier.
“Alcoholism, that’s what,” Winston chuckled. “Why, I reckon you’ve just seen a ghost. Wanna have a drink with me to calm the spirits?” He was here to gain ABK intel. But her freckled face, wavy red hair, and Scottish accent were definitely a bonus.
“Apparently so!” Miri laughed, her breasts bouncing up and down in that tight corset. “Tell you what: I’ll toast with ya.”
Miri poured Winston’s Jack and Coke and the umpteenth cranberry vodka of the night. But like the mystical fairy creature she was, she garnished her drink with a handful of blueberries, a splash of lemon juice, and a basil leaf.
“Seventy-nine,” Winston randomly said as they clinked glasses across the bar.
“Hmmm?”
“Seventy-nine. I reckon that’s how many freckles you have on your face.”
“Ah...well, let’s see. I've never counted before. But on my whole body? Well...we’re definitely in quadruple digits.” Miri leaned in close, the scent of gin and spearmint on her breath. “If you want to take me to my room and count them, I can do 150 an hour. That is, if you’re a fast counter.”
Winston chuckled, then slipped something into her henna-tattooed hand. “I mighty appreciate it. But I’d rather ya tell me a little bit about this place. Thinkin’ about pledging.” A lie, of course.
Without missing a beat, Miri slapped a bag of blue-and-white cocaine on the bar. “Tell ya what: you try ours and I’ll try yours.” Right in front of everyone, she opened the bag of red-and-what cocaine and split it into lines.
Winston’s jaw dropped. It was all coming together in his slow-churning mind. Taggart and ABK had been gathering intel to corner the entire fucking college cocaine market. While Miri dropped her head to do a line, Winston slipped his rival’s cocaine into his pocket. All right, I’ve got what I came for. No thanks to Twinston. Time to report back to Ryan.
“Yo, the concert’s over but the night has just fucking begun!” Clyde announced on the mic. “Ladies only: get your asses to the center of the dance floor. You know what time it is!”
Miri’s head shot up from her third line of cocaine. She released an orgasmic Scottish moan. Then, this mystical fairy pranced into the center of the room, spun on her heel, and gave a curtsey in her outfit.
What the hell is going on? Winston thought, sipping his whiskey. He reached into his back pocket for a napkin and felt something else instead. Slowly, he held Gigi’s lacy yellow panties in front of his face. Miri, how the hell did you put this in my pocket without me noticing? Hell, I reckon this bitch is a fairy after all.
“DJ, hit the music!” Clyde commanded. Fergie’s “London Bridge” blared through the speakers and rang across Greek Row. The tipsy Miri swayed her hips to the violent bass beat, shedding her wings. Applause erupted from the crowd.
“Now just what are we to do about this corset?” Miri cooed, puckering her lower lip.
“Take it off!” the brothers chanted. And she did. Winston instantly realized that her “1000-freckles” estimate was correct.
“Lose that skirt!” the crowd commanded.
Winston nervously tapped his foot. Not because he was afraid of seeing a naked woman. That road was heavily-traveled and full of potholes. But Miri was drunk, and nobody was doing a damn thing about it. She hooked her thumbs beneath her pink-and-blue skirt and pulled it down to her ankles. No underwear, and a hundred more freckles on Winston’s scoreboard.
“Make yourself decent, moron!” Winston called out, sling-shotting the yellow panties across the room to Miri. She reached up and caught them, red-eyed high and shit-faced drunk. “These…these aren’t mine. But they sure are cute!”
What?! Who the fuck do they belong to then? And why the fuck were they in my pocket?!
Regardless, Miri slipped into the tight panties. She gave a polite curtsy and fluttered away through the kitchen and out the back door.
“Yo, what the fuck man?” Clyde raged as he watched the action from his wheelchair. “You fuckin’ scared her off! DJ, cut the music!”
Fergie stopped singing and all eyes fell on Winston. He took a deep breath and boldly stepped into the center of the dance floor. “She was fucking wasted, partner. Are y’all really gonna make her do all that?”
“It doesn’t fucking matter,” Clyde seethed. “It’s Friday: we drink, and Miri strips. She’s a whore. And that’s what whores do. Who the fuck do you think you are anyway? S-s-somebody take off his mask!”
But Winston removed his own mask and tossed it on the floor. There he was: invading ABK just as the phony Mississippian Taggart had invaded BDE.
“Leave it to a Beta to look for pussy at an Alpha’s party!” Clyde jeered over the mic. “Can you all believe this white-knight faggot tried to stand up for a fuckin’ whore?”
Winston couldn’t resist a comeback. It was too easy. “At least I can actually stand, you fucking cretin.”
Every single hand covered a gasping mouth. Winston turned and walked into the kitchen, building up to a sprint out the back door. Rabid yells from behind as he cut across BDE’s back yard, dashing past rows of trees and street lights to the end of Greek Row. At the dimly-lit street sign, he collapsed into the grass.
Winston, ya done fucked up now.
“Yo, you okay, bro?” somebody called out.
Winston looked up and saw two douchey frat boys carrying acoustic guitars. Before he could get up, one of them had already hoisted him to his feet. He winced as he put pressure on a sprained ankle.
“You had way too much, my man!” Guitar Guy 1 said. “And it’s not even nine yet. Gotta pace yourself!”
“Yeah, man,” agreed Guitar Guy 2, brushing grass off Winston’s shoulder. “Hey, why don’t you come with us to Alpha Beta Kappa’s party? I hear our president’s band is fuckin’ killing it tonight.”
Winston felt his soul leave his body. Suddenly, Guitar Guy 1’s phone rang.
“Hello?” Guitar Guy 1 answered his phone. “Hey, what’s up, Clyde. Yeah, yeah, we’re almost there. We’ve got our guitars and...huh? Oh shit, you talking ‘bout the guy dressed like a cowboy? Yeah, man, he’s right here. Drunk as fuck, I’ll tell ya h’what. Wait, what? He said what to you? No, fuck that. FUCK. THAT! Yeah, man, we’re gonna take care of him right the fuck now!”
Winston slowly backed up to the street sign, a hot pain searing through his ankle. Running was out of the question.
“You so much as move, we aim for the head,” said Guitar Guy 2, shouldering his weapon.
Winston placed his back to the street sign and sank to a seated position. He looked up at the fretted assailants. Not with fear, but with acceptance. “I know all about your frat’s cocaine operation. And all I gotta say: I’m gonna run it into the motherfuckin’ ground.”
Guitar Guy 1 went for a cross slice, cracking the guitar against Winston’s head. He bled before he hit the grass in a fetal position. His body convulsed in a seizure.
“Yo, no face shots!” Guitar Guy 2 screamed, kicking Winston in the ribs to vent his frustration. He brought his ax above his head and hammered down on his gut. Winston released the death cry of a wounded gazelle. But instead of delivering that final blow, the Guitar Guys looked at one another and nodded. Then, they dropped their pastel board shorts and proceeded to piss on Winston’s wounds from head to toe.
“Look at the sign and tell me what the fuck it says, cuck!” Guitar Guy 1 yelled, stomping his face with his boat shoes one last time. They zipped up their shorts and ran off. A groaning Winston wiped his bloody, sopping-wet face and looked up at the sign. Crenshaw Ave. Just like his father’s legacy, Clyde was here to stay.
Winston blacked out.
***
It wasn’t rape. It was my choice. It wasn’t rape. It was my choice. It. Was. My choice.
Gigi stared at her reflection in the dorm room mirror. Tears and mascara flowed down her face, streaking her cleavage and her wrinkled gown. With fumbling hands, she unwrapped a Plan B Morning-After Pill and slipped it between her dry, chapped lips. She cupped some water into her hand and swallowed, gripping the edges of the sink as she looked back at the defiled girl in the mirror. Hours earlier, she had been pure. Now, she stank of sweat, Walmart-brand musk, and a stranger’s bodily fluids. It was only when Twinston had taken off his mask that she’d realized she had made love to a man she did not know.
Only minutes to midnight. Soon, the wrinkled evening gown would disappear, and Gigi would be reduced to dirty rags and cloths. “This...this is certainly the kind of dress I would want to die in,” she told her reflection, forcing a smile as she permitted tears to flow freely.
A fall from the seventh story would surely kill Gigi. She envisioned her mangled corpse on the gnarled roots below. Then, she feverishly latched onto something to keep her alive for one more day.
Froyo! Tomorrow was the grand opening of the local frozen yogurt joint. I’ll get to choose my favorite sugary toppings to pile on my watermelon sorbet. But tonight, I didn't choose to have sex with that man. It was not. My. Fault.
Gigi’s phone rang. It was Sarah. “Gigi, get your ass down to the third floor - quick!
Gigi flew down the stairs, tripping over a few drunk students in the process. She stood in the doorway of Room 309, where a bloodied cowboy lay his head in Sarah’s lap. Tai sat on the futon, handing Sarah gauze and rubbing alcohol from the first aid kit.
“Gigi,” Winston mumbled. He lifted his head, then set it back down as he erupted into a coughing fit. “You look...great. Not as sexy as my sister though. But I’m from the South, so it’s family first. Roll tide...”
Sarah and Gigi smiled weakly, seeing how Winston was slowly returning back to normal. But Gigi’s smile turned to shock as she got a closer look at his face. One eye was swollen shut and bleeding from the corner. A large knot on his head oozed pus, even as Sarah frequently dabbed it with a tissue. His twitching body hinted at the lacerations and bruises beneath his bloody t-shirt. And through Winston’s smile, he was missing a bottom tooth.
“Everybody fucking leave!” Gigi exploded, dropping to her knees and laying her head on Winston’s chest. He winced at first, but slowed his breathing as she held his hand. She sobbed her eyes out, soaking Winston’s shirt and beard.
“Gigi, look,” Tai said, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Winston needs all of us right now. Not just-”
Gigi fetched the 22-caliber pistol from her purse and slammed it on the tile floor. “I SAID GET THE FUCK OUT! OUT, OUT, OUT!”
Winston’s heart raced as Gigi squeezed his hand with all her might. “It’s all my fault,” she whispered, as if they were already alone. “If only I let you keep your gun, you could have defended yourself.”
“Buddy, that just ain’t plum-fuckin’ true. Ain’t nobody’s fault but mine. I talked shit and got hit.”
Sarah and Tai quietly slipped out the door, most likely to count their fake ID earnings.
Gigi positioned Winston’s head on her lap and ran her small hands through his messy brown hair. “This ain’t the first time you caught me covered in piss. Reckon it won’t be the last.”
Gigi giggled. “I’ll...I’ll be here all night to protect you.” She clutched the gun with one hand and ran her fingers through his hair with the other. “And we can wash your hair in the morning.”
“Thanks, buddy. I reckon I done gots me a few enemies now. So...ya ain’t gonna let the piss fairies sneak in and give me a golden shower...are ya?”
“I...I won’t let you down!” Gigi laughed, gripping the gun. “And if the pee bandits come around here, I’ll politely escort their hind keisters a third-of-a-dozen floors north, where their skin shall bubble under the 100 Kelvin internal temperature of our antiquated heating and cooling apparatus!”
“Shit,” Winston moaned, closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep. “If they don’t fix your AC sooner or later...you may have to move down here and live with me.”
While Winston rested, Gigi stood watch all night. She forgot all about what Twinston had done to her. Misery loved company. And while Gigi never wished for anything bad to happen to Winston, his timing couldn’t have been better.
submitted by welcometosouthapp to welcometosouthapp [link] [comments]


2020.08.21 00:43 EveUnraveled Spying on sister in bathroom

My childhood memories of conventions and assemblies are just that: childish. I remember very little of the talks and anticipated yet ultimately dull dramas that encompassed those long weekends. My memories have more to do with the over due lunch breaks and tedium in-between songs when I'd get to stretch my skinny little legs. Or the applause that would startle me awake from my naps on the cool concrete floor. And of course, the reverberating voice of the speaker "Welcome Welcome Welcome Brothers Brothers Brothers and and and Sisters Sisters Sisters…"
My assembly hall memories conjur up dimly lit bathroom waiting areas, dark green wallpaper, and dusty silk plants. The bathroom had a small waiting area for sisters with mirrors on both walls opposite each other. So while my mother reapplied her pink Wet n Wild lipstick, I'd stare at myself in infinity; I wanted to get lost in the maze of those mirrors with all of my wide eyed doppelgangers.
The cafeteria had high ceilings that gave a feeling of openness despite the cramped seating, and a soft serve machine that I looked forward to after finishing my sandwich. I'd run outside and get in line with other children for my sweet vanilla chocolate swirl. Until one year it was no longer available, and the little walk up window was closed permanently. I remember the back counter being lined with danishes and half frozen orange juices in little plastic cups. I cannot remember if there was a payment system for this. There must have been, which is why I have only one memory of getting a cheese danish. My mother was frugal and would have fed us at home or brought our own food. I'd watch as my plump cousins sat across from me on those vinyl lined benches and ate a breakfast of kings, growing ever plumper.
But the most vivid memories come from the summer conventions held at what was then called Jack Murphy Stadium in the 90's. I just called it the "big assembly". My mother would wake us at an ungodly hour to be in line for the turnstiles at opening. We'd have blankets, book bags, and a blue igloo cooler containing our lunches. We'd always sit a few rows down from my paternal grandmother and aunts, blessedly seated in the shade of the large outdoor arena. Each year it seemed fewer of my siblings would attend. My oldest 2 siblings were with their bio mom on weekends anyway, and my middle siblings gradually found excuses to stay home. They were 6+ years older than me and knew how to wiggle out of spiritual activities. My little brother, with his untamable wild streak, eventually stayed home with my unbelieving dad, until it was just good natured me and my mom. I knew she was sad that my brothers and sisters weren't interested in her new religion, so I did my best to make her happy.
My grandmother refused my mom when she asked if she could save us seats. She claimed it was against the "rules", yet her conscience didn't suffer from saving seats for her daughters and their children. They had believing mates, and fewer children to get ready, and they stayed in a nearby hotel for the fun of it, but my grandmother took zero pity on my mom, who got up at 5:30am to get a gaggle of children dressed, driving us 45 minutes to the stadium each day. My mother grew dejected and stopped asking for equal consideration. The favoritism was palpable all of my life. Instead, we stood in the winding lines outside the gates, our arms full of the essentials, like refugees waiting their turn to be let in.
We were never asked out to eat by anyone, and we probably couldn't have afforded to go anyway. We drove the 45 minutes home every day, sometimes sneaking out early to avoid the traffic jams. My dad would already have the BBQ ready and we could finally put t-shirts and shorts on and play in the sun. It was welcomed, after a long day of hard plastic seats and boring lectures. I was small enough to sit in the stadium chairs and close myself up like a clam with just my head and legs sticking out. If I was quiet about it I wouldn't get any dirty looks for doing it. I'd draw princesses in my notebook and name them after countries I'd seen in my brother's encyclopedia-- Italy, Botswana, India. I would gaze out at the sea of technicolor beach umbrellas, making a game out of finding clones. There were rainbow stripes, alternating triangles of white and blue, and the hideous green and orange floral ones from the 70's. There were big swathes of tarps in silver or blue, and the occasional pocket of empty space showcasing the orange seats. I always felt bad on Sundays after lunch when people had to close them down for the drama. The audience fluttered with Watchtowers serving as makeshift fans flapping like butterfly wings. I'd use my tiny binoculars to try to find people I recognized or just watch strangers sleeping under the tinted hues of their umbrella, or walking up and down the concrete steps.
The convention theme would be displayed in large white letters standing up on the green baseball field. If I was lucky, a gust of wind would blow one over and a man would run out to fix it. It was mildly exciting. There'd be a little tent where the speakers would go and I liked seeing the little figures walking to and from the tent. There were always colorful flowers adorning the stage. I always wanted to go get some after the convention ended but we never did.
Sometimes the monotony of umbrellas and binocular spying would be broken by a plane flying overhead and a message tailing it. Sometimes it was just an advertisement for Goodyear tires and other times it'd read "John 1:1 Jesus is God" and my mom would tell me to ingore it. When we'd leave the stadium in the afternoon there were usually groups of protestors on the corner and I'd be told not to look at them or read their signs. They seemed angry about something but I didn't know what. Now I know.
As I got older, my mom would sometimes skip Friday so she didn't have to take off of work. On Saturday and Sunday we'd head to the car around 2pm to listen on the radio and if we couldn't find the station or if it was full of broken static we'd just head home. It should have been a dream, but I was embarrassed of my friends finding out I'd missed bits of the convention; they'd judge me for my mom's spiritual failures. When they asked me why they didn't see me Friday at lunch, I'd lie and say I had walked around looking for them but it was too crowded.
Sometimes I was grateful not to have many friends other than my cousins. I didn't get new convention dresses, and my cousins only got them for Goodwill. If I was poorly dressed, it was nothing compared to the Grandma dresses they were forced to wear. When I was around 7, it seemed every little girl but me had a straw hat with silk flowers, and a floral dress with puffy sleeves and lace collars. By the time I got my straw hat with silk flowers they weren't in fashion that year. This type of frivolous thing would be repeated for years. The "big assembly" also provided a bit of anonymity as a child. If we were scolded for playing or, shockingly, running, it didn't matter. We'd never see that old brother again!
As I got older, the note taking became compulsory, and I couldn't fit myself into the chair like a clam anymore. I was warned about men looking up skirts from the lower levels, and of looking down blouses from the upper levels and I felt uncomfortable in my skin. When I engaged in a friendly "race" with my friend's younger brother to find seats one morning, we were reprimanded by an attendant, and I felt ashamed as an adult for the mild joy in having my cheeks flushed from power walking in the chilly morning. I also learned to unwrap my snacks and keep them in cloth bags for discreet snacking to keep awake; I was too old for Cheerio and Froot Loop necklaces.
The monotony of being a teenager at convention was only broken by lunch time shenanigans; usually searching for cute young men with my friends by walking in circles through all the levels of the stadium. We often came up short; the good looking ones were taken and the spiritual ones were total nerds. In retrospect, we weren't a great looking group either. When I got married, that thrill was gone, too. I'd walk around with my husband feeling like a dweeb trying to get my steps in for the day. The note taking subsided when tablets took over, and the daydreaming became a lifeline. My numbness to the endless stream of propaganda had set in.
submitted by EveUnraveled to exjw [link] [comments]


2020.08.19 15:00 BGisTheOne In bathroom sister on spying

It's in every room except the bathrooms. I'm not even exaggerating. It's in the bedrooms, dining room, living room, every room. Worse is, she did it without any prior notice or any discussion with us whatsoever, and these guys from nowhere showed up this morning and started doing shit. They're not even from a reputable company. Some shady unknown brand from some sketchy neighborhood. Reasoning for using them? Apparently someone she met literally a few weeks ago suggested that company.
She has zero idea what kind of cameras they are and she has zero idea whether there's even audio recording in the devices.
I got so mad, but I calmly told her she should've discussed with us beforehand and to install them only in the kitchen, Buddha room, garage and outside the house if she wanted and she kept pushing the subject to install them in every room. So I flat out told her not to expect to see me in this house ever again if she was gonna do whatever she wants.
I had told her what I was okay with and not okay with and I didn't want to escalate things so, I left and took a nap in my bedroom. She did whatever she wanted. I woke up to the horror of the cameras in every room in the house.
I feel like getting on a ladder or a chair and smashing all the cameras in the rooms I told her not to install. I really feel like it.
Apparently you can watch the footages from your mobile too. God knows who's watching us right now.
I really don't want to get more pissed. So, I'm thinking of just trying to contain it for today and only make a decision on what to do tomorrow as I once heard something like "If you're really mad at something and want to do stuff, it's better to wait at least a day, cool it off and consider it again the next day."
This isn't also the first time she doesn't respect privacy. She has tip toed and spied on us, evesdropped to our phone conversations, stalked my dad by hiring a cab driver 24/7, snapped random pics of me at home and then shared them in group chats with her friends, etc. I understand she loves me and she doesn't have any ill-will and I love her but I need my privacy too.
What should I do so that I won't regret it later?
Update:
It is such an intrusion of privacy and I got so angry that I waited the till the next morning to cool it off.
I woke up this morning and there the guys were again, installing more stuff. I went downstairs and told my mom and my sister the dangers in the most possible calm manner.
Not only did they not listen, they switched the topic by blaming me for housework. I am not a saint, I am not perfect - neither are they. The point is, this is not the time to be switching the topic bringing in unrelated matters. We were talking about the cameras - not laundry or washing dishes.
I got so pissed off they didn't respond to reason that, I yelled and threw one plate and one plastic bottle onto the floor.
The cameras have audio recording. The footages are broadcasted via the internet and the account that is currently being used to access is with a GMAIL that is I am quite certain owned by one of the employees of that company. Who knows if the footages are backup on that Gmail? I'm done for. It's also apparently a brand owned by a country that is notorious for invasion of privacy and making terribly low quality products. I don't want to name the country.
Now, I am going to be the violent bad guy who throws stuff around. I'm done for. I will never become someone who can show my face in public.
I always said I put family before me and that I was always second. Now I'm done. This is too much. I'm going to put myself first from now on. I'm really done with this madness.
I don't know what to do and I don't even know what to say to them anymore. They don't respond to reason AT ALL. No matter how I tried to explain the seriousness of this, they would never get it. I know. I have tried this for years. Some people are just impossible.
I'm going to take it whatever comes because of my outburst today. I don't justify my behaviour of smashing the plate in anger and throwing the plastic water bottle around. I think it's perfectly reasonable that I got this angry over this intrusion of privacy but I was wrong for bursting out like that.
I don't know what to do. I cannot move out right now because of my business and financial situation. It's a long story why I can't move out right now. So, I feel like dying. All I can do right now is talk to them as little as possible and stay in my own bedroom.
Any advice is highly appreciated. I really wanna cry now. I feel like no one understands.
Update: I'd like to clarify that none of us owns the house as we all share the rent, and I am not a minor without any income. I do have some income from my newly founded business but it is going to be very bad for me and my career to move out right away with my business being stopped because of quarantine. I understand moving out is the best, and I will move out as soon as possible. It's just that I am really weak, drained and lost right now after all the turmoil. I feel so violated, I am all curled up in bed right now that I even struggle to move. I can't even talk on phone in my own house because the place which I call "home" is bugged itself.
Update: I told my mom, in the most neutral face, that I was leaving since she didn't listen to me. She panicked and she immediately asked me "Wait so, what do you want me to do now?". I told her that I've already told her what to do several times. She asked me if I wanted to remove everything. I said yes, but the damage is already done with my outburst on the internet, and who knows if they installed bugs in our house since no one is monitoring them while they're installing it. She's crying in her room.
Now they're removing the things. All I can do right now is not to say anything hurtful to her more, not do anything stupid like throwing the stuff around in anger, and wait it out hoping the footage will eventually be washed away by more footages of other people in the company's headoffice and not be blackmailed later.
submitted by BGisTheOne to AmItheAsshole [link] [comments]


2020.08.06 02:10 Anon4safety13 Bathroom on spying sister in

Ok, so i'm not even sure if this is the correct subreddit, and if not, I'd be super thankful for direction. Info about me: I'm an 18yr old female who has been diagnosed with both depression and anxiety since 8th grade, and almost all of my close relationships ( bffs, boyfriends,immediate family) have been rocky, difficult,toxic, or destroyed over my teenage life (This is relevant later). I've been in therapy for a few years and am thinking of disclosing this/these incident(s) to my therapist; however i wanted to see what reddit had to say about my story first. I'm not looking for sympathy, just direction and advice without talking face to face with people. If you've made it this far, congrats! Now, on to the story:
I think it started around the time i was 10 and my brother was 6. The first time something of this nature happened my mom was in the bathroom getting ready for work and my brother and i were in the conjoining room playing. He asked me why mom and dad kissed on the lips but only kissed us on the cheek/forehead. I told him that it was what mommies and daddies did cause they love each other and went back to playing with my doll. He then asked me how they did it and if i would show him. i told him no and kept playing. He took my doll and threatened to break her if i didn't show him, "lips on lips" as he put it. Mom heard that and asked me what was going on. He said i was trying to kiss him and i got sent to the corner till mom left for work. After that, these incidents became progressively worse, and I honestly can't remember how many times they happened so i'll just list instances from least to worst:

After this, it became very sexual very fast, i'd say within a 2-3 month period. Our parents would watch news in the front room at dinner while he and I ate in the dining room. The first time he made me touch him was after an episode of Big Bang Theory was on. He said he wanted to tell me a secret, then asked me to come to his room after dinner to "do what Penny and Leonard do". I either didn't make the connection or was confused because i went to his room without him threatening me. He laid down in his bed and pulled his pants down enough for me to see his parts. When i asked him what he was doing he told me: " I'm Leonard and you're Penny. Penny likes touching Leonard's boy parts, they do it in bed." I said something along the lines of "Eww, No" and he threatened to tell mom and dad what we had been doing and say it was my fault. He told me they would believe him because I was the oldest, and i believed him, i still do because I'm 4 years older.He made me grab it and "pull" it a few times before he let me leave his room. This happened at least 3 times a week, sometimes only that, others he would want to touch me or see parts of me without clothes. He even figured out a name for it "rub pee pees and kiss".
It finally came to an end about a week before my best friend's birthday party. He did the same thing at the table that he did the first time, proclaiming he had a secret!! and then whispering those awful requests to me. When i went he said i had to take off my pants and underwear and lay on the bed. Then he pulled his down and laid on top of me, his penis rubbing against what i now know to be my pubic bone, and wiggling lower. I don't know if we made a noise or Mom knew something was wrong, she came in his room saying she had a surprise for us and we should come in the front room. He said he couldn't move, we were playing. (he had us covered with a blanket. when she insisted, he tried to argue, and thankfully mom pulled the blanket off. She started screaming at us and pushed him off me.She yelled at me to pull my pants up and go to my room after she paddled me a few times.
I don't remember much after besides being terrified and bawling about it being his fault and him making me. Apparently he said the same thing i did, and to this day i swear she believed him even though i told her everything and cried for hours. I still got to go to my friend's birthday party, but after that we were only allowed in one another's rooms with lights on and no blankets. I didn't want him anywhere near me and avoided that side of the house completely for weeks. after almost a month and a half, my mom pulled me aside one day and told me: " I didn't say you had to stay away from your brother's room all together after that....incident a while back, just to go in there when we could see you two. Your brother misses you, he wants to play with his sister, honey."
I still never wanted anything to do with him; even till this day I avoid his room even though its across from mine(new house), and seldom let him in mine. I can't help but think that what happened was my fault and its the reason I have always had trouble with social anxiety/making friends/ romantic&physical relationships.Only 5 people know about what happened, which is my parents,myself and brother, and our babysitter at the time. Our babysitter died this year and i still don't know how much my mom told her, only that i heard a few remarks between the two that would only make sense in that context. My current boyfriend is my only boyfriend who I've willingly or enthusiastically engaged in sexual activities with, and we've had a lot of obstacles. I have found myself extremely jealous of his female cousin, even though I logically know that they are just that: cousins, and enjoy hanging out, as well as many issues trusting a significant other's familial relationships before him. My family is fairly estranged given what I've come to know about how other people's families work, and have just generally had a lot of problems throughout my life that i think stem from this.
Like i said, i'm not looking for sympathy, just direction and suggestions on if i should tell my therapist about this. I've thought about telling my boyfriend because it would explain a lot of my issues but i know its a hard thing to believe, and i honestly don't even know if i believe myself after so long.
submitted by Anon4safety13 to incestsurvivors [link] [comments]