Which way do we go,
to stay out of the flow,
As lives are swept downstream,
We can do more wrong,
If we just go along,
Pretending life is but a dream.
Vanna knew he kept valuable rare coins. While she cleaned his house she would pass by his study. Through the slightly opened door she could see him carefully studying each coin and comparing it with the newest estimates of values based on comparable auction prices. He also had stacks of bills of unknown denominations but he rarely looked at the paper currency. Vanna was sure the coins were his most valuable treasures just by the way he put on gloves before he handled them. They were always treated with tender loving care. When he tired, he would replace each coin in a velvet holder.
He knew she watched him sometimes but he rarely said anything to her. When he did speak, it was about something trivial, although his eyes held many questions. He was curious about her for several reasons. But in general his interest was definitely not about her intelligence or her background. He was discreetly studying her breasts and legs. He tried to be subtle but she always knew when he was watching. Yet in her heart she could feel changes and she knew his power over her was growing.
As a precaution she began dressing conservatively but still she felt his eyes tracing her form, caressing her, filling her with an urgency she didn’t quite understand. When she first started working there she had been prim and proper, a model of decorum. Now her dreams led her always to his arms, uncontrolled passion, and then tears. She had no answer for the meaning of the tears but the passion was always there, always stronger in her dreams, and always ready to boil over when she felt his eyes upon her.
Vanna had discovered where the safe was hidden long ago. Usually it was locked and she didn’t pay any attention to it. Lately, though, her desire for money was becoming prominent in her dreams and now when she went into the study she automatically looked to see if the safe was open. Vanna wanted to appear unconcerned but twice she had noticed the safe open and each time she said, “Sir, you didn’t lock the safe.”
He smiled slyly and quietly went to the safe and locked it. “He trusts me,” she thought, but then she felt the doubts begin. “If he trusts me,” she wondered, “then why does he watch while I’m working?” It was a question she could never answer, and now as she listened to him in his study, she could hear him muttering softly, “It’s a terrible thing you’re asking me to do. I’m not sure if I want to do this.”
Vanna’s thoughts were being drawn directly to those rare coins. She couldn’t help it. She dreamed of things that were financially out of her reach. Thinking of her budget she gave a long sigh. She thought of those coins again. They intrigued her. How many would she have to have in order for her future to be set?
She didn’t have to be rich, just comfortable. The coins were old and if she wanted to have them she’d have to be bold. She asked around on the other side of town, how she could sell such coins. Few dealers were interested. One dealer told her privately, “They’re risky because they’re too easy to trace, unless they go out of the country and disappear for a few years. Only private collectors would be interested.”
There was another way. He was interested in her and she could use that knowledge to get to his heart. She didn’t really know him but she did find him fascinating enough to be physically attracted. “If I flirt with him,” she reasoned, “He won’t be able to resist. Then I’ll own even more than those coins.”
A brilliant plan. A devious plan. Vanna couldn’t decide at first whether the plan was brilliant or devious. The idea of seducing him was new and exciting. Her heart was pounding. She decided the plan was brilliant rather than devious. Brilliant sounded better to her and would take away some of the sting her conscience was feeling.
She was intrigued also and over the next two weeks tried to test his interest. She wore shorter skirts, displayed her cleavage, changed hair styles often, and made herself available in case he wanted to talk.
The Coin (part 2)
She knew she didn’t love her boss. She didn’t even know his name. She already knew the one she loved. She loved George, her childhood sweetheart. It was as simple as that. He was handsome, muscular, courteous, and charming. He treated her like a princess. They had grown up together, went to the same schools, and were expected some day to marry and have children who would grow up in the same area and repeat the cycle. Everything was so planned, so neat and tidy.
But Vanna also knew George was only a mechanic and he would never change. He liked being a mechanic and having dirty fingernails. “It’s honest work,” he would say. But she was not quite satisfied. Doubts were gathering, like storm clouds on the horizon, because George didn’t make enough money. How could she quit her job? How could he support a family on what he made? She could envision kids racing around the house with patches on their clothes or wearing hand-me-downs. The family would live paycheck to paycheck, never getting ahead, never having enough money to travel the world or buy fancy things. “Yes,” she reasoned, “I love George, but love is not enough. I want excitement and more life than he can give me.”
That night when she and George made love, she gave herself completely, knowing it might be their last time together. George was thrilled she was so passionate. It was the perfect time to show her his surprise, a wedding ring. “Let’s go off tonight and get married,” he whispered. “We’ll have a great life together.”
“Not yet, George,” she answered. “There’s no hurry. We’ve been together forever, it seems. Let’s keep something for our dreams.”
The following day as she got ready for work she turned on the weather channel. “I hope today’s weather will be unusual. I’m getting tired of every day being hot.” To her surprise the weatherman was predicting isolated thunderstorms and to be prepared just in case. She dismissed the warning when he said there was only a 20% chance of rain.
Her work day started out the same. She arrived at eight, went in and made coffee. The kitchen was in total disorder. Beer cans and glasses were everywhere. Other rooms were also in disarray. She sighed and began cleaning the Great Room and the kitchen. At least she had job security since her boss had so many parties.
Vanna never used her boss’s name. She had been told to always address him as “Sir”. When the delivery service brought a package she noticed that it was addressed to Sir Reginald William Duke IV. The name was regal and pompous, leading her to imagine old money, distinguished heritage, and glorious titles. Once she got past all the formalities she decided she would call him Reggie.
Vanna could picture her name being changed to sound like royalty. And what if she was no longer a maid but she had her own maid? And what if she lived in a large mansion or castle? Her blood would change from red to blue. She giggled as she imagined all this happening to Vanna, the daughter of the town drunk. George could have been a good husband but he could not have given her the quality of life she envisioned. So goodbye love, hello money! It would all be coming her way.
Later that day Reggie called her over to his desk. His coins were out and he held one in the palm of his gloved hand. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you. I’ve planned an intimate get together tomorrow for a few of my friends. You will be my special guest.” He rubbed the coin and waited expectantly as if there was no choice. “Of course, this will be after you get off work. It might go a bit long so don’t have anybody waiting up for you. Oh, and don’t tell anyone. I don’t want the press popping in for pictures.”
Without hesitation her words tumbled out. “Of course, Sir. I’d love to.” This was not her usual way of responding. She liked digesting everything and sorting things out before she said yes or no. This time she felt compelled to answer immediately.
Later as she went about the house, she thought about what he said. “Tomorrow, a few intimate friends, special guest, after you get off work.” Somehow it seemed strange with her being a guest but expected to work anyway. She was excited but cautious. What did it all mean? But like the weather forecast, Vanna dismissed any reservations she had.
Since there was no mention of how she should dress for this intimate get together, she put her best dress in a small suitcase along with a few essentials. (To be continued)
The Coin (Part 3)
After work she was greeted by lightning and thunder. The heavens opened and rain poured down. Vanna dashed to her car but she was immediately soaked. As soon as she arrived home she peeled off her clothes and showered. While she sipped her tea she thought, “I never would have guessed it. Storms are so unpredictable.”
The following morning her work day was lighter. There had been no parties so she began dusting and vacuuming. She went in and out of his study several times wanting to see his reaction. He was holding a coin again, rubbing it, talking to it, and then looking at her. His gaze became more intense. Oddly her temperature rose as he watched. It disturbed her at first to discover she was aroused and moist. She stayed out of sight for awhile, afraid not for what he might do but afraid of what she might do.
When she returned Reggie was still holding the coin. His gloves were off and he was rubbing the coin slowly. He looked up and she was immediately mesmerized. Reggie turned on some music. It was primitive and unexciting at first but Vanna found herself listening closely. It drew her in, her feet sliding gracefully in time with the beat.
Reggie began rubbing the coin more vigorously. The pace quickened yet she danced on, not able to quit or falter. Her eyes closed and she was in a dream, her dream, the one she had the previous night. Now she danced solely for him, twisting, writhing, spinning.
He sat there smiling, waiting, and knowing. There was more to this dance and he continued holding the coin, his very thoughts becoming her moves. He rubbed the coin once more and wet his lips in anticipation. She looked at him blankly then smiled and nodded. She began dancing slowly, suggestively, moving closer and closer to him. With each spin she took off clothing until she stood bare and glistening.
He rose and beckoned. She followed obediently and was led into a nearby room. He gave her a vial of liquid which she drank slowly. Circles of color bounced about the room and her skin tingled with electricity. Her dream was getting stranger by the minute. Now she was having an out of body experience. Vanna could feel herself floating as Reggie led her down a long flight of stairs. How could she protest when she wasn’t even in her body?
They stopped before a massive door. He pulled it open and they entered a large room lighted only by candles. “A dungeon,” she thought. “Why are we here? Aren’t dungeons for torture?”
She was led to a wooden structure. She was told to put her hands and her head on the beam. Her life was not her own and she still had no thought of resisting. A wooden bar swung down, locking her neck and wrists in place.
Three men stepped out of the shadows. “What do you think, gentlemen?” he said loudly. “What are you willing to pay for this fine lady?” Reggie stood before her holding a paddle. He circled behind her and swatted her buttocks with a resounding whack. Vanna howled with pain.
Her senses were returning and she screamed a protest. “Don’t do that! Let me go or I’ll report you to the authorities!”
“See what I mean, gentlemen?” Reggie purred. “Somebody will have to tame her.” He hesitated and then said, “Unless all three of you want to do the job. Of course, that’ll be extra. Divide the cost between you. Pay for two, get one free.” Reggie chuckled at his own sales pitch.
The three men looked at each other and nodded. “Of course,” Reggie said, “payment comes first and the lady must remain alive. Other than that, she’s all yours.”
Vanna struggled at first as she dealt with one humiliation after another. Each time she protested other devices were added that stretched, pulled, or penetrated. In this dungeon there was no mercy. The three men were devious in their methods. For awhile she protested and threatened as she endured the atrocities. Then she realized it was pointless to complain or object. Those tactics worked against her.
At some point she began aiding her tormentors because they treated her better when she was compliant. She progressed from one stage to another. Gradually she learned to beg for pain, beg for new experiences, beg to be degraded. When they stopped torturing her she rested and waited, thinking she might be released or that she could find a way to escape.
The Coin (Part 4)
Instead of gaining freedom Vanna merely advanced to the next stage of their pleasure. One of the men placed an iron collar around her neck with a long chain attached before she was released from the stocks.
She was prodded towards a smaller room. Twice she slowed but electricity jolted her to a faster pace. The room was even darker than the dungeon. At first she could see nothing, but as her eyes adjusted to the darkness she noticed floodlights. They were suspended from the ceiling and focused on a bed in the middle of the room.
Vanna heard a familiar voice. Reggie was back. He said nothing to her but he was carrying the coin again. Slowly he carressed the coin and the pain inflicted by torture began to disappear. Warmth raced through her limbs and her body once again responded to his thoughts.
Reggie made a slight wave and floodlights splashed across the bed. A cameraman sat on a platform behind two cameras waiting for a signal. “Action, please,” Reggie said loudly and nodded to the waiting men. They took her, one by one, exploring and dominating her.
There was a thirty minute break and then they were at her two at a time. For the finish all three were there, using her and enjoying all she had to offer.
During that time there were voices and laughter and shadowy shapes that appeared and disappeared. But Vanna was beyond all reasoning and beyond any experiences she had ever had. She could not push away nor did she want to. While Reggie held the coin she had no choice but to submit and enjoy. Wave after wave of passion swept over her as she made love again and again. Within each moment she found pleasure.
She awoke to find herself alone, exhausted, and filled with sadness. In the back of her mind were dim memories of a world that had changed overnight. She began sobbing uncontrollably. Her plans to use him had failed miserably. She had been used instead.
Stumbling around she found her way back to his office without encountering anyone. Her clothes were scattered about just as she had left them. Hastily she slipped them on. She wanted to slip away, take a shower, drink some tea, and think. She was disoriented and confused.
Worse yet, she had little knowledge about last night. She only had vague recollections about the music, the liquid, Reggie, and the three men. She was terribly disgraced. There was nothing she could do to change anything. What words could she say when there was nothing left but pain? How could she stay when there was nothing left to gain? For her, life’s meaning was slowly slipping down the drain.
She took one last look around the room. A small gleam from Reggie’s desk caught her eye. She moved towards it. A coin! He had left a coin on his desk. She quickly put it into her pocket and headed out the door.
A woman stopped her before she got very far. Sternly she said, “It’s time you left. There’s nothing here for you. Life will go on after you’re gone.”
“What about my job?” Vanna wailed. “Where is he?”
For the first time Vanna realized how desperate she sounded. She dug into her pockets searching for a tissue. Her fingers touched the coin.
The woman’s demeanor was immediately different and her tone of voice softened. “I’m sorry, Miss. He’s gone. Last night several people packed up everything and left. When I came in this morning everything was gone except for you. You must have had one fine time last night.”
Vanna was stunned by what she heard. Everything had happened so quickly. She could remember little of last night, except for shapes and voices. But as her fingers played with the coin her memory began to clear. This coin had kept her under a spell. It had power to make her do things she didn’t want to do.
With growing excitement it finally dawned on her. She had the coin! He could not control her if she had the coin. At first that was all that mattered to her. She was free!
The Coin (Part 5)
All that had been inflicted would be repaid to each one of the men, including Reggie. She had survived and now she must deal with her world. She had no job, no money, and no future. She was starting with nothing but she walked with her head high. Having the coin filled her with confidence.
As Vanna rode the city bus home, she worried all the way. “What will George say? Will he even listen to me? Can we still be friends? Can I tell him what happened? Will he snap and go off the deep end? Will he want to kill me or Reggie? Should I avoid George and just run away? Maybe I dreamed all of this. Maybe none of this happened at all.”
While she worried and reasoned, inadvertently she reached into her pocket and touched the coin for reassurance. It was still there but this time it did not feel cold and metallic. The coin was warm and vibrating. Passengers on the bus stirred from their normal isolated lethargy. As if on command they turned in unison and smiled at her. Their smiles turned to concern. “You poor dear,” one woman said, “Did someone hurt you?” Others joined in with their concerns. Then one of the men said quietly, “Tell us who hurt you and we will take care of them.”
Vanna squeezed the coin. The passengers turned back around, the incident forgotten for the moment. Vanna was shocked by their response. There was more to this coin than she had thought possible. Her mind raced as she wrote down ways she could test the coin’s power and capabilities. She would have to be very careful not to let others know the coin even existed.
Preoccupied with thoughts of the coin, Vanna stepped from the bus and walked towards her apartment. Oblivious to the world she crossed the intersection. Drivers from both directions stopped, waiting patiently as if she were royalty. Then traffic resumed as if nothing had happened.
George had slipped messages under her door, taped messages to her door and left messages on her phone. They were overwhelming. She didn’t want to read them or respond. Vanna just needed rest and time to think. The answering machine clicked on and George’s voice said, “I miss you. I’m worried about you and you know I love you. Where have you been?”
There was nothing she wanted to say to him right now. Any kind of conversation could go on and on. She would have to face him sometime, but not now, not today, and maybe not even tomorrow. She cared about George. Anything she said would hurt him deeply and that would break her heart. How could he understand if she didn’t understand everything either?
She locked her door, unplugged her phone, swallowed several sleeping pills, took a long hot shower and scrubbed until her skin was raw, then fell into bed. She would ignore George and the world for awhile. Tomorrow would be a new day.
Vanna’s dreams were not pleasant. Shapes and voices were everywhere, telling her what to do, making her apologize for not cooperating, for not being eager to try new things. She awoke, drenched with perspiration. She lay there wide awake staring at the ceiling. But even there she saw shadows and thought they might be moving.
Afraid of her dreams she decided to look at the coin again. When she touched it on the bus it had been so soothing. Perhaps it would comfort her a little.
She had placed the coin on her dresser in a small box with her earrings, earrings without matches she had found while working, on the street, and even at church. Without a matching earring it would be ridiculous to wear any of them. Yet she couldn’t throw them away. They were just to remind her that someday when she had money she would find their mates.
The coin was difficult to find because the box was crowded with earrings. Confused by this turn of events she flicked on the light switch. There were more earrings than she remembered. “Impossible,” she murmured. She stared blankly for a moment before the truth hit her. All the earrings were matched and organized!
Another thought. “Was the coin still there?” To her relief the coin was there, almost covered by the extra earrings. Vanna gingerly removed it from the box and held it in the light. Vibrating gently the coin warmed her hand, her arm, and slowly warmed her. It was almost singing to her. “Strange,” she whispered. Remembering she was tired, Vanna lay back on the bed, calm and content for the moment. She placed the coin under her pillow and fell into a deep, restful sleep.
(To be continued)
The Coin (Part 6)
Life takes us in directions,
We don’t wish to go,
Yet that is how we gain experience,
That is how we grow,
We learn to survive hard times,
How to accept a loss,
Then we learn to face the wind,
Though around us waves toss.
Vanna woke with a start. What time was it? What about her job? Then all the memories rushed in. There was no time for self pity. She had to start looking for a job. Where would she go? Jobs were scarce now that the economy was floundering. Did she even have a chance to find one that she liked? She lay back against the pillow and her confidence returned. She would go out and see what she could find.
Vanna dressed quickly but primped to look her best. For the first time in months she would wear earrings. She selected a pair and put them on. She patted the coin and murmured “thank you”. If she only had one chance she wanted it to be a good one.
She turned from the vanity and remembered, “I have to have the coin.” She needed the coin. It made her feel good. It also seemed to affect those who were around her. Where would she keep the coin all day? She didn’t have pockets in this dress. Her purse? What if it got snatched or she left it unattended just for a few minutes? She didn’t dare lose it or let it be taken from her. She finally decided to put it inside her bra where it would be close to her heart. Vanna smiled. She knew the coin’s vibrations would remind her all day long that its power would be there if she needed it.
On her way downtown the bus ride was uneventful. When the bus stopped at one of the tallest buildings the coin vibrated and Vanna stepped outside. She looked up and stared in awe at the impressive and intimidating building. Already a steady stream of suited men and neatly dressed women were entering through the revolving doors.
Ready to flee rather than enter, Vanna took several deep breaths. The coin began pulsating and her courage returned. She pushed her way through the doors and walked directly across the room to a directory on the wall. She studied it carefully trying to decide what to do next. “Full speed ahead. Why are you hesitating?” She was shocked by her own thoughts. She had never been this bold around those she called the big shots.
A voice startled her. “Could I help you, young lady?” A well dressed man in a pin striped suit approached. He had a kind face but there was something vaguely familiar about his mannerisms.
The coin was vibrating and Vanna took that as a signal that she must react. “Yes, Sir,” she answered. “I’m on my way to the top. I want a job where I can see the city.”
He smiled and offered his hand. “I’m Derek. I’m on my way to the top floor now. I’ll be glad to escort you, Miss….? His voice trailed off as if waiting for her to offer her name. There was no action from the coin so Vanna only said, “Thanks. That would be kind of you.”
She felt isolated in this world with only the coin for protection, and yet, the coin was enough. A sharp tingle jolted her breast as the coin began to hum. The elevator climbed steadily up. It did not stop even as others waited and punched the button for the top floor. Vanna felt a sudden chill and she could picture Derek undressing in a dark room. No, not a dark room. A dungeon! Her fury rose within while outside she remained calm and cool.
Her self-esteem should have been low, but she surprised herself when she turned and said, “Derek, just what kind of job are you going to find for me? I don’t want a small office. I want a large office next to the windows. I told you I wanted to see the city and that’s what I expect.”
Derek’s jaw dropped. This lady was not intimidated by him. There was a glow in her eyes that scared him. He thought he could hear a slight hum but then again he could have been mistaken. His knees felt weak and his heart pounded. “You’re kidding, right?”
Vanna stared at him without blinking. “Derek, you’ve always stepped on those that are vulnerable and innocent. In your path you’ve left a trail of victims. You’re heartless and don’t care about people. I’ll give you a chance. In thirty minutes I want my requests arranged. Do you have any questions?”
Right in front of him this beautiful young woman had changed into someone he didn’t like. He had been a football star, an Army Ranger, and a mercenary in several small wars. He could always be counted on to confront and rout the enemy. He had faced fabled lawyers and won, bullied his way up as he raced to the top of the financial world. Now he found a small woman making a bold demand and he could not speak. For the first time in his life Derek felt fear.
(To be continued)