This story is a combined sequel. It is a combination and continuation of "Want Ad" and "Palmistry". This story should work okay as a stand alone story, but the two previous stories will give you some background. In "Palmistry", we learn who Bob is, why he's in therapy, his attitude toward therapy, and experience some of his pranks. "Want Ad" will give you background on the club and how Zorro came to be.
"And how does that make you feel, Bob?"
"It used to make me angry, Ann, but now I just ignore it."
"Bob, it would be better if you addressed me as Dr. Culver. Therapy is more effective if you take it seriously. A casual approach isn't good for either of us."
"That's fine by me. Henceforth you may call me Mr. Canfield."
"If you wish, but I've found using first names puts a patient more at ease."
"I'm not a patient, I'm a customer. I'll go along with whichever you prefer, formal or informal, but not both. You choose and I'll do whatever you do. If you'd rather, you can call me Mr. Baxter."
"Mr. Baxter? Why? That's not your name."
"Do you know that for certain?" I was at the therapist's. It was not going well. Dr. Ann Culver would not have been my choice as a therapist, but since she was the only one on my insurance company's list, she had been chosen for me. Nevertheless, I would persevere. After the way the insurance company had jerked us around when Meg was sick, I would be content if all I accomplished was to cost them a bunch of money.
"Your insurance company referred you as Mr. Canfield. If you're not Mr. Canfield, we have a problem."
"I'm the person the insurance company knows as Mr. Canfield. You seem to have some problem calling me Mr. Canfield, so I thought maybe you'd like Mr. Baxter better."
"Bob...Mr. Canfield, I think we'll make more progress if we return to the issue at hand."
"I agree, Ann...Dr. Culver."
"Alright. Let's see if we can summarize where we are. Your wife, Meg, died about a year and a half ago. You haven't been able to establish a successful relationship with another woman. You need to achieve closure with respect to Meg and you also have some issues with women you need to confront. This probably relates to issues of self esteem. You haven't managed to deal successfully with the grieving process."
"I'm also not dealing successfully with the buzz word process. Otherwise, you're fairly accurate on the basic premise, but you've made some assumptions and drawn some conclusions that are off base. I think you should hold off on those until you've gathered more data. I would also take issue with your self esteem comment. My self esteem is doing just fine."
"I think you're confusing self esteem with ego."
"I'd say there's a very fine line between the two, if any. Regardless, both my ego and my self esteem are quite healthy."
"Rather than debate that, let's move on. Do you blame your wife for having abandoned you?"
"I do feel abandoned. I'm not sure I blame anyone. She had cancer, she died. It wasn't anyone's fault. I suppose I could blame her or the doctors or God or the blue meanies. It won't bring her back."
"It's hard to tell from your response whether you've got your feelings of loss under control or you just aren't ready to deal with them yet. I'm sure we'll clarify that as we go on. Let's talk about your relationships since then."
"Well, first there was Jane..."
"She was the one who was Meg's friend."
"Right. It became obvious pretty quickly that we couldn't build the type of thing either of us was looking for. We're still friends and we talk once in a while, but with Meg out of the picture, we don't have much common interest. Then there was Helen..."
"She was the palm reader?"
"Right. But that was purely recreational for both of us. We're friends and talk fairly often. Rebecca was more of a contest than a relationship."
"What do you mean by that?"
I told Ann...Dr. Culver...about my encounters with Rebecca. The first time in her office, when I'd surprised her by giving her a spanking instead of having sex with her, the second time when I'd invited her to my house and then frightened her away with the help of Sharon, my housekeeper, and then described my final encounter in detail. Dr. Ann (I would continue to call her Dr. Culver as long as she called me Mr. Canfield, but I thought of her as Dr. Ann) seemed taken aback by my description of these events, especially the dessert metaphor.
"So you turned sex with Rebecca into a sort of symbolic cannibalism."
"Yeah, I'd go along with that viewpoint."
"And how did it make you feel?"
"It was one of the more memorable evenings of my life. It affected me in ways that I still don't understand."
"I find it a rather disturbing metaphor. It suggests you view women as a commodity to be consumed."
"You're a Catholic, aren't you?"
"I used to be. Why?"
"Then you've engaged in your share of symbolic cannibalism. Did you consider Jesus a consumable commodity?"
"It's not the same thing."
"I agree. I was with a real flesh and blood person. No transubstantiation necessary. Do you really want to debate which is more disturbing?"
"Let's move on."
"Right. Karen was the one I was really trying to build something with. I just couldn't seem to make it work. I don't know whether it was too soon, whether I just wasn't ready yet, or what. After my final encounter with Rebecca, Karen and I slowly drifted apart and soon it was obvious to both of us that we weren't going to make it. This is the one that troubles me. With the others I wasn't really trying. I was just getting laid. But with Karen, I tried and failed. I really liked her and as an added extra bonus, she really liked being tied up."
"And you liked tying her up? Let's talk about that."
"Fine. I love talking about that. Most of them were reluctant to be tied up, especially Sharon..."
"Sharon? You mean your housekeeper?"
"Yes, but I'll get to her in a minute. The point I was trying to make is that for me it's quite a turn on to tie up a woman who's reluctant. You take her someplace she hasn't been before and require her to surrender herself completely to you. It's a wonderful gift that she gives you. But with Karen, there was no reluctance. She loved to be bound. She loved the feeling of helplessness. Sometimes I'd do things to make her reluctant. On one occasion I took her out in public with her hands tied behind her. Other times I'd let her know I was going to spank her after she was bound. It created such a delightful discord. She would want to be bound, but be apprehensive about what came after. The anticipation as I would tie her wrists behind her was just too delicious for words."
"Whose anticipation? Hers or yours?"
"I see. And what about Sharon?"
"I still see her, of course. She cleans the house on Saturday. When she's finished, I tie her hands behind her and we inspect the house. If I find fault with her work, I spank her. Then, either way, I take her to bed. Sunday morning, I fix her breakfast and send her home."
"So you've tied up and spanked every one of these women except Helen."
"Wrong. Jane was the only one I didn't spank, but she did get tied up."
"I see. And was Helen reluctant?"
"Less so than average."
"I called her up and invited her to my house. She came right over."
"And did she know what you had planned for her?"
"Definitely. I told her that if she came over I would tie her up and spank her, then fuck her brains out. As I said, she showed up promptly."
"So you think all women would like to be tied up and spanked?"
"I think a minority of women really enjoy the idea of being tied up and spanked. However, I think the majority of women can be tied up and spanked by the right person under the right circumstances and would enjoy it in that limited context."
"That's what you think?"
"Yes. What about yourself? How would you feel about a little bondage and a nice sound spanking?"
"Let's leave me out of this."
"Okay," was what I said, but the thought that ran through my head was: "Wrong answer, doc. You're next." It wasn't what she said so much as the way she said it. There was just a hint of alarm in her voice and she leaned away from me as she said it. The predator in me took note.
This was my second session with Dr. Ann. The pattern was already clear. These sessions would be a struggle for control between Ann and myself. Having been in small business all my life, this kind of petty crap usually pissed me off. It was such a waste when there were things that needed doing and never enough people or resources to do them. But this was different. For some reason, I enjoyed it. Maybe therapy would help me answer that one.
"Let's make something clear. If we're going to effectively deal with these sorts of feelings, you're going to have to ignore the fact that I'm a woman."
"Fine. Let's make something else clear. When you say 'deal with' these sorts of feelings, I suspect you mean eradicate or cure. I'm not interested in being cured. That's not why I'm here. I like myself the way I am. I'm used to it, comfortable. Tying up women turns me on. I don't want to change that."
"So why are you here?"
"I'm here to solve a specific problem. I don't want to be cured of anything. I have a very limited set of objectives. I want to get over Meg in order to make room in my life for someone new. That's not to say I want to forget Meg; I couldn't, ever. It's just that she's not here and I am. I need some help adjusting to that state of affairs."
"But you've got to deal with these feelings you have toward women. You can't establish a healthy relationship while you feel this need to control and punish women."
"Why not? It worked fine with Meg."
"I'm sorry. I thought I'd brought that out. I had such a relationship with Meg. We were very happy for twenty plus years. Raised two kids, built a business. The whole bondage thing was purely sexual. It wasn't allowed to affect real life. We solved our real problems through discussion, understanding, and love like reasonable people. She was only ever tied up in the context of sex. I felt like I'd failed if she didn't enjoy the experience."
The timer went off. "Well, Bob, it looks like our time is up for today. We'll continue with this next time."
"Alright, Ann. See you then." I could tell from her expression that she was annoyed with herself for forgetting and calling me Bob. She was also annoyed with me for rubbing it in. Oh, well, she was just going to have to learn.
Although the session had given me a couple of things to think about, I suspected Ann had even more to think about. I had a feeling she didn't have very many customers who insisted on full participation in the process. Most of them probably thought they were getting something out of their weekly dose of jargon.
A couple of days later I got a call from Helen. "Hi, Bob. Helen. What are you doing Tuesday night?"
"Nothing until now. What are we doing?"
"You're taking me out. There's something you just have to see."
"Are you going to tell me what?"
"No, but you'll love it. Trust me."
"Trust you, huh."
"Yes, really. Pick me up about 8:00. It doesn't start until 10:00, but we'll need to be there early to get in."
Tuesday I picked Helen up at her house. She directed me to a bar called the Silver Slipper. I'd been there. Ted, the owner, was an occasional customer. I'd visited him the first time he'd called us, as I did with all new customers. It had been early in the afternoon and he wasn't open yet. He'd served me a beer and we'd talked for a bit. I'd liked the guy and we'd gotten on well, although I hadn't seen him since.
"Helen, the sign says ladies night. You're taking me to see a male stripper. Now that I think of it, I'm probably not going to see a male stripper, since most places don't let guys in on ladies night."
"Bob, trust me."
We went around to the back and in through the delivery entrance. Ted was inside.
"Hi, Helen. This the guy?...Hey, I know you, you're the guy from the delivery company...Bob, that's it. Bob."
"Good memory." It had been a couple of years.
"It helps in my line of work."
"Where do you want us?" asked Helen.
"I'm going to put you back in the booth with Brad, the sound guy. You'll be out of sight there, but the view is pretty good. I've had to be more careful lately about letting guys in."
We bought a couple of drinks and went back and met Brad. His booth was built up against the rear wall, higher than the stage so that his lights would have a clear shot over the audience. I still didn't know what was going on or why I was here. It was close to 9:00 and Brad started to get busy. We left him alone so he could work.
At 9:00, the music started and Brad put a spot on the stage. There was a guy there who started dancing slowly and shedding clothes. He was actually pretty good, but there was sort of a dark tone to his performance that I didn't quite understand, although it was artfully created. I enjoyed his performance, but my interest was purely cerebral.
"Helen, you did bring me to see a male stripper. What's the deal?"
"Just wait. Trust me."
"Fortunately for you, I don't have anything else to do at the moment."
The guy finished his routine about 9:30. The waitress who took care of Brad brought us some more drinks. I was still perplexed.
"Helen, are we ready to go? The guy was good, but I'm hopelessly heterosexual. Not anything I can help, you understand. Just born that way."
Helen was immune to my sarcasm. "Bob, I said trust me. By 10:15, I won't be able to drag you out of here."
I shut up. The truth was, I did trust Helen. She wasn't above fucking with my head, but I could tell there was something more to this than was apparent at the moment. I sat and drank my drink. Brad was aware of my confusion and just grinned. There was definitely something going on. Helen grinned.
I looked around. The place was full to the brim with women. A couple of them appeared to be wearing collars. Intriguing. They were all yakking at high speed and the din was incredible.
At 10:00 the lights went out and a thunderclap issued from the speakers. The din ceased so suddenly and completely I felt like I'd lost my breath. A spot appeared on the stage. Standing in the spot was a guy in a tight black outfit with boots, cape, and mask. Zorro? Not quite. No sword or Zorro hat, although he did carry a quirt. I thought this guy must be a hell of a dancer to get those boots off gracefully.
As the music picked up tempo, the guy strode around the stage, dangling a pair of handcuffs from one finger and looking the crowd over. Then he leapt from the stage. He turned a somersault in midair and landed among the audience. He strolled about, pausing often at one table or another. He seemed to be inspecting women. A couple of times, he had one stand up, positioned her just so, then circled her, examining. Then he would move on. This went on for ten minutes or more, but neither I nor anyone else was bored.
Finally, he came to a decision. He returned to the second woman who had received a standing inspection. He asked her name. She had trouble getting it out, but finally managed to gasp, "Linda." He pulled her to her feet, then drew her arms behind her and locked handcuffs on her wrists. This was followed by a leather collar around her neck. He snapped a leash on the collar and led her toward the stage. I sat there dumbfounded.
Zorro (the guy wasn't Zorro, but I needed to call him something and Zorro would do) positioned Linda at the front of the stage in the spotlight. He corrected her posture, then danced around a bit. He unbuttoned her blouse. After a bit more dancing around, he unlocked her handcuffs, then slid her blouse off her shoulders. Now, wearing only bra and collar above the waist, he led her to the pole in the center of the stage. He pulled her arms overhead and locked her wrists in a pair of manacles that were fastened to the pole.
Zorro danced about a bit more, leaving Linda standing chained to the pole and looking somewhat dazed. He seized an ankle and tossed one of her shoes aside, then removed her other one. He unhooked her skirt and slid it down her legs and off. After each article of clothing was removed, he would dance about, occasionally prodding Linda with his quirt to make her squirm, emphasizing her increasing exposure.
Linda was now standing chained to the pole in bra, panties, and stockings. He fastened a chain to each ankle. Zorro danced up to her again and unhooked her bra, exposing her breasts to the crowd. Linda squirmed some more. Then Zorro pulled out a knife and slashed her bra straps, casting the garment aside. He danced away again. Linda blushed furiously. Then he was back. He slashed her panties, pulling them from her. Linda stood nude except for her stockings. Zorro danced away again, leaving Linda on display. Linda blushed even more and struggled with her chains in a vain attempt to cover herself. She had no chance of doing so and I think she knew it. It seemed to be a reflex action. Even though it was utterly useless, she seemed unable to refrain from struggling. She tried to cross her legs, but the chains on her ankles prevented it. Zorro danced about the stage, leaving Linda to cope with her predicament. He might as well have taken a nap. No one was watching him.
After a while, Zorro returned and removed her chains. In a way, I was glad it was over. I had been sitting on my hands. If I touched my crotch, I would explode, and it was all I could do to keep from doing so. I was glad we were in the dark. Even so, my discomfort didn't go unnoticed. Brad looked over and grinned. Helen grinned.
It wasn't over. Zorro was chaining Linda to the pole again, this time facing it with her back to the audience. He chained her ankles as well. He spanked her! I shoved my hands harder under my butt. Linda yelped and struggled. I moaned. Helen elbowed me in the ribs. "Shhh!"
Zorro took Linda down and wrapped her in a big fluffy robe. He scooped her up in his arms, carried her to the front of the stage, and bowed. The crowd went nuts. I thought they'd been noisy before. I jerked my hands out from under my butt and clapped them over my ears. Brad grinned. Helen was shrieking with the rest of them.
Zorro carried Linda back to her seat, kissed her hand, and did something to her collar that I couldn't see. I thought he was removing it, but when he took his hands away, it remained and something shiny dangled from the ring.
Linda sat for a few minutes in a daze, then collected her clothes (one of the waitresses had left them in a small basket next to her chair) and headed for the ladies room. Most of the crowd went with her.
As soon as they thinned out, I slipped off inconspicuously to the men's room. Despite sitting on my hands, I had been unable to contain myself. I cleaned up and returned to Helen. She burst into laughter at the sheepish look on my face.
I couldn't believe what I had just seen. "Helen, I...Helen, that was...it was..."
Helen giggled. I don't think she'd ever seen me at a loss for words before.
I tried to figure out just what it was I'd seen. I assumed it was fake, that Linda was part of the act, but I'd bet any amount of money that blush had been real.
"Helen, that was all part of the show wasn't it? Linda, I mean. She was Zorro's partner or assistant or whatever."
"No. She was just one of the customers. Nobody knows who he's going to pick."
"You mean he just roams around and randomly picks some woman and does all that to her?"
"That's it exactly."
"Oh, man. You mean he just picks any woman? And she goes with him?"
"You saw it."
I was going to have to sit on my hands again. I think I was in a bigger daze than Linda had been.
"But Helen, why would she...why would they...I mean, they all went crazy...the place is jammed...he stripped her in public...anyone could be...I don't get it."
Helen laughed again.
Linda returned to her table. She was fully dressed, but still wore the collar. This time I got a better look. There was a small padlock locked to the ring.
"Helen, she still has the collar on."
"It's customary. She'll wear it home. You'll see girls who come to the club in a collar. If she has a padlock on it, it means she's a previous 'victim'. It's quite a status symbol."
I pointed to a girl at a nearby table. "You mean that girl over there has been..."
"Yes. That lock on her collar means she was selected on one occasion or another."
"Really? Her? I'm sorry I missed that. Helen, you do realize that you have zero chance of making it home unmolested."
"I'm off tomorrow. Do your worst."
"This must be some kind of payback for the tricks I played on Karen and Rebecca."
"You can look at it that way if you want."
"We're leaving now." I wrapped my hand around Helen's wrist and dragged her toward the door. As soon as I got Helen outside, I tied her hands behind her and made her ride home that way. When I got her home, I tied her down, spanked her, fucked her. She was obviously as aroused as I was by what we'd seen. Unfortunately, I felt like my performance was somewhat less than she would have hoped for. As turned on as I had been by Zorro's show, it had also left me rather drained. Besides being low on energy, I lacked the flair Zorro had exhibited. I could learn a thing or two from that guy.
In the morning, I took Helen back to her house on my way to work.
That evening, I gave Helen a call. "Damn it, Helen. I can't decide whether to thank you or curse you. I've been a total space cadet all day. I might as well have stayed home from work. On the other hand, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Where did you hear about that?"
"One of my students took me one night. I immediately thought of you, so I made friends with Ted and arranged to get you in."
"I owe you one. That was the most amazing thing I've ever seen."
"I could tell you were quite affected."
"But so were you. That's what I don't understand. I know why I liked it, but what do women see in it?"
"I'm not sure I can explain, but I'll try. You're sitting there and that guy starts roaming the room. The idea that he might choose you just turns your mind to mush. You noticed how quiet it is when he's making the rounds. Every woman in the room is a total zombie. And if he stops at your table, you go into panic overload. Your heart starts pounding so hard you're sure it's going to explode, your mouth gets dry, your hands are shaking, you hardly know your own name. It's truly incredible. I don't know of any drugs that'll give you a rush like that. You saw how dazed Linda was through the whole thing. The rest of us weren't much better off."
"So that explains the pandemonium when it's over. The sudden release of all that pent up tension."
"Exactly. It reminds me of an early Beatles concert. He gets you all worked up, then you just scream and yell and let it all go. It's ever so much fun."
"Do they provide earplugs?"
I was fascinated by Helen's comments. I knew from personal experience that women could have that sort of effect on men, but I'd never truly realized that women could be similarly affected, especially en masse. It was an amazing psychological phenomenon. Someone should study it. I knew just the person.
"So, Mr. Canfield, where were we when we quit last time?"
It was my weekly meeting with Dr. Ann. It was apparently very important to her to be addressed as Dr. Culver, since she was being careful to behave in such a way as to produce that result. I wondered if she was capable of appreciating my little behavior modification experiment.
"Well, Dr. Culver, we were discussing the fact that I was able to have a reasonably normal relationship with Meg, my deceased wife, despite the fact that I regularly tied her up and spanked her."
"I still don't see how you can have a truly equal relationship on such a basis."
"That's because you're only looking at one aspect of the relationship. The fact that I was dominant sexually did not automatically make me dominant in any other domain. We both had our areas of dominance and expertise. Something as complicated as a marriage, especially with children and a business involved, requires a lot of love and cooperation. The fact that she got tied up and spanked didn't make her less than a full partner. Nothing took place, and that includes sexual activities, in which she wasn't an equal and willing participant. I should also point out that sexual dominance of that type carries with it the responsibility to see the your partner's pleasure. I took that responsibility seriously."
"I think I see what you mean, but it still doesn't seem right. I don't see how someone could surrender herself like that."
"Hey, don't knock it if you haven't tried it."
"Mr. Canfield, I thought I made it clear that this discussion was not to involve me personally."
"Back off, doc. The remark was rhetorical, not personal. I find it disturbing that you chose to take it personally. If you keep that up, we're going to get confused about which of us is the therapist."
"Yes, you're right. I apologize. Please continue."
I changed the subject. It was easy to do with Dr. Ann. She tended to be intuitive rather than logical. Jumping from one topic to another came natural to her. This gave me a major advantage. I could change the subject whenever I chose and she'd go along, but if I wanted to stay on a subject, I would pursue it relentlessly and she would, perforce, follow along. The result was that I was in charge of the agenda for our discussions.
There was one other thing that was interesting. My remark had been rhetorical, but it was far from random. I was probing for a reaction and had gotten one. She'd nearly had a fit when I'd suggested, even tangentially, that she try it. I'd backed her down easily enough, but her reaction had left a monster blip on my radar.
I kept the rest of the session focused on matters of no consequence. I told her some stuff about my childhood and early dating experiences, but stayed away from anything to do with bondage.
That evening I gave Helen a call. "Hi, Helen. It's Bob."
"So it is. What's up?"
"How would you like to go in for therapy?"
"Are you nuts? I'm a better counselor than 90% of the therapists out there."
"I know that. That's why you're perfect for this job."
"I see. You need my help with one of your little jokes."
"Quick on the uptake, as always."
"So what are you up to?"
"You have this personal problem that you need some help in resolving..."
I explained what I had in mind to Helen. She thought it was hilarious and agreed to help. I told her I'd pay the tab if her insurance didn't cover it.
"One other thing," I told her. "She knows I've been involved with someone named Helen. It might be a good idea to go by your middle name."
"Helen is my middle name, Bob."
"And your first name?"
"I see. Well, perhaps Blanche should seek Dr. Ann's assistance."
About ten days later, Helen called me.
"Well, I had my first meeting with Dr. Ann."
"What did you think?"
"She's nice enough. Well intentioned, takes her work seriously. Wants to do good. One odd little thing. After she called me Blanche, I called her Ann. She didn't object. We're on a first name basis."
"Odd. Well, I'm kind of pushy with her. I'm probably not her favorite client."
"I think it's more than that. I think men in general frighten her. She keeps her distance."
"Interesting. I knew you'd see things that went over my head. So how did she react to your little problem?"
"She seemed both fascinated and horrified. I told her I'd always had fantasies of being dominated sexually and lately I'd become fascinated with thoughts of being spanked. She listened quite intently. She also mentioned in passing that she had another patient with similar issues."
"She mentioned me?"
"No. She wouldn't even reveal the gender of her other patient, but then late in the session she mentioned it was interesting to hear about these issues from a woman's perspective, thereby revealing your gender. She's ethical, but doesn't always connect all the dots."
"Anything else of interest?"
"Not really. This was just an introductory encounter. She did seem somewhat vehement in her assurances that we would expunge these embarrassing and degrading desires from my psyche."
"Not exactly a live and let live approach, huh."
"Far from it. I think we've definitely rung the bell that makes her salivate."
"Good work, Dr. Pavlov. Now for a bit of rat running."
"Not immediately. It will take me a couple of sessions to bring her to that point, but we'll get there. She's not hard to read."
"Mr. Canfield, I've been thinking about your case, and I really feel we need to address these problems you have with women if we're going to make any progress."
It was my weekly session with Dr. Ann. She was showing more initiative than usual, wanting to impose her own goals on my therapy. Apparently, my introduction of 'Blanche' into her stable of clients had backfired. She was determined not only to cure Blanche of her problem, she was going to cure me of Blanche's problem.
"Dr. Culver, with all due respect, I think I've made it clear that I don't consider my 'problem' with women to be a problem, and that I have no interest in being 'cured' of these tendencies."
"I'm aware of the limited goals you've set for yourself, but I think a more systemic approach is called for. I don't see how you can reach these limited goals without addressing your overall attitudes toward women."
"Okay. I can see the validity of that approach," I lied. "Give it a shot." I didn't really think she had any chance of having a real impact on what were some of my more deep seated feelings, but I was amused by the irony of humoring her delusions of adequacy.
"Wonderful. Why don't you tell me about how these feelings came about."
"I don't know where they came from."
"Well, then why don't you tell me about when you first became aware of them."
Dr. Ann had suddenly launched herself into the analysis of feelings that had previously been taboo, and done so with enthusiasm. It made me wonder. Was she really interested in curing me of my problem, or had she been provided with an excuse for a clinical exploration of feelings that had always frightened her? I couldn't tell. Maybe Helen would have some thoughts.
I let Dr. Ann lead me around through my past for the rest of the session, searching for clues to the seeds of my perversion, as she now clearly thought of it. I went along for the ride and mostly answered her questions honestly, simply because there was no reason to do otherwise. On a couple of occasions, I fabricated answers to provide her with things she clearly wanted to hear. She was delighted and told me what wonderful progress we were making. Perhaps Dr. Ann's newfound dedication to my salvation was a blessing in disguise. Dr. Ann was happily pretending to be gainfully employed, we were costing the insurance company a bunch of money, and I was amusing myself by admiring her legs, imagining how nice they would look with a few feet of rope wrapped tightly around her ankles. A good time was had by all.
A couple of days later, I talked to Helen again. I told her of Dr. Ann's crusade to cure me and she told me Blanche's problem was being pursued with equal zeal. Dr. Ann had been informed that Blanche had always had these feelings, but that they had been inflamed recently when she had visited a bar that featured a male stripper.
"Dr. Ann says I'm making wonderful progress," Helen informed me.
"That's great news. And after only two sessions. I am likewise making wonderful progress now that we're focusing in on what Dr. Ann has decided is the real problem."
"We should celebrate."
"We will, but not until Dr. Ann joins the party. How soon?"
"She's nosing around the bait now. She's a bit confused about how seeing a male stripper causes me to want to be spanked. I told her he has that affect on everyone. She got this weird look on her face and changed the subject."
"Do you think you scared her off?"
"No, but she was clearly disturbed by the idea. I'll give her a week to stew, then set the hook."
"Anything I can do in the meantime?"
Helen considered a moment. "No...Yes, there is. Encourage her. My job will be easier if she thinks she's being successful in treating you. If she feels she's having a real impact on your problem, she's more likely to take on the bigger one I'm going to present her with."
"Got it. I'm certain I see the error of my ways."
At my next meeting with Dr. Ann, I told her I'd done some thinking about our conversations, and I wanted to explore more conventional relationships. Dr. Ann just glowed. She enthused about how much more satisfying I would find a truly equal relationship. While she jabbered on, I looked around for the barf bags. Not seeing any, I turned my attention to her legs again. It was good that I found them so distracting. She was making me angry. The implication of her comments was to disparage my relationship with Meg. Despite our bedroom games, Meg and I had had an equal relationship and Meg was nobody's patsy. She didn't let anyone push her around. I was surprised that Dr. Ann was so insensitive in this regard, but as Helen had pointed out, she just didn't connect all the dots.
That evening I called Helen. "Okay, Helen. Your turn."
"How did it go?"
"I told her I was convinced and wanted to seek out a normal relationship."
"She bought it?"
"She could hardly control herself. She just beamed. I thought I was going to get radiation burns. Late in the session, she slipped up and addressed me as Bob. I let her get away with it."
"The fact that she did it means she's letting her guard down. This should be pretty easy."
"Go for it."
Two days later, Helen called me at work. She had just left Dr. Ann's.
"Done," she announced.
"She went for it?"
"Hook, line, and sinker. The rat is in the maze."
"So tell me what happened."
"I told her how much she had helped me, how I was beginning to come to terms with my lack of self esteem and that I deserved something better than abuse..."
"Third degree. Then I zinged her. I told her I'd been out with the girls, and we'd been to ladies night again. The feelings had come back stronger than ever. When I'd gotten home, I'd called my boyfriend and tried to get him to spank me."
"That's a bit heavy handed. She fell for that?"
"Of course she fell for that. I was offering her a chance to rescue me. Dr. Ann does not look a gift horse in the mouth."
"So then what?"
"She said I should stay away from ladies night. I told her it wasn't that easy. Everybody went there, and besides, it had the same effect on everybody. A couple of weeks ago, Debbie had talked her husband into giving her a spanking and he'd liked it so much he spanks her all the time now."
"I can't believe even she didn't see through all this."
"Trust me, Bob. I know what I'm doing. Now she gets to rescue everybody. I told her I didn't understand why this was happening and suggested she come to ladies night with me. Someone with her training could figure it out. When I left, she was busily girding herself to enter the lion's den."
"Oh, Helen, you have no idea how badly I want to go along on this one."
"I can imagine, but as you yourself pointed out, it won't work."
"I know that. I can't be at the table with her, and barring that, there's not much point. But that doesn't keep me from wanting it. Call me when you get home. I don't care if it's three in the morning. I probably won't sleep anyway."
"Okay, okay, you'll hear from me."
Tuesday night, I tried to relax, but couldn't. I paced around the house, sat by the phone, paced some more. It occurred to me that I was letting myself get very worked up over this. This was almost as bad as the night Helen had taken me to the club. I wondered why. Part of it, of course, was the fact that I didn't have much else to do. Other than my business, there wasn't a lot going on in my life. Perhaps this was my feeble attempt to get a life. I knew it was more than that. I was having a great time conspiring with Helen. She had been right when she pointed out that we weren't meant to be lovers, but she made a great friend, and since neither of us had anything else going on at the moment, a little recreational sex was nice also. But it wasn't just Helen. I knew what it was. I had spent entirely too much time staring at Dr. Ann's legs, and she had cast her spell on me. I really didn't think we were compatible, but it didn't matter. I wanted her badly. All my crap about finding the right person, having a real relationship, replacing what I had had with Meg...What I really wanted was to wind some rope around Dr. Ann's slender limbs, spank her til she screamed, and fuck her til I died. Thank you, Dr. Ann, for putting me in touch with my true feelings.
These thoughts did not interrupt my pacing. I'd tried to read, watch TV, any number of things. My concentration was zilch. It was midnight. Zorro would have finished over an hour ago. What was happening? Maybe something went wrong. Maybe I should have gone. Maybe...
The phone rang. "Hello," I nearly shouted.
"Bob, calm down."
"How'd it go?"
"It went fine."
"So tell me about it."
"You really are in a state. Sit down and relax, I can hear you pacing."
"Sorry. Go ahead."
"Okay. We got there a little before nine and took a small table about in the middle. At nine, Gary, he's the first guy--you saw him--started his act. Dr. Ann kept up a running commentary of psychological goonbabble through the whole thing. Repression, projection, sublimation, a whole litany of crap. She was feeling smug and superior. After Gary finished, like you, she asked me what the big deal was. I told her the next one was the big deal. By the time Zorro started..."
"By the way, what's Zorro's really called?"
"Nobody knows. He doesn't use a stage name and nobody knows who he is. Everybody calls him Zorro for the same reason you did."