My name is Jason Smith. When I was 29 I had a job in a call center for a bank in Philadelphia, a job I found boring and frustrating. My personal life wasn't much better. Most of my college friends had drifted away, and my girlfriend had left me the year before.
I got badly depressed, and so I went to a doctor. She prescribed Zoloft. Up to that point I had led a normal if uninspired life. But I got a side effect that was not anywhere on the long list that came with the package. I had a strange assortment of thoughts come into my mind.
One morning as I woke I dimly experienced thoughts from the point of view of a woman. The thoughts idly drifted. I was working as a drug store cashier, and had thoughts of the boss, and then some mundane things about how to be a cashier. Dimmer memories of brothers and sisters and parents flitted about. There were memories of going to a bar recently, some drinks, being propositioned by a guy and inviting him up to my apartment. It had been the uninspired fulfillment of an urge. It had left an empty feeling along with a mild hangover.
This was not my life, and it was hard to believe it was a hallucination. There were thoughts that I could never have made up myself: details of makeup and clothing, and especially what it was like to experience sex as a woman.
I got a man's thoughts about mild discomfort in various places in his body and the content of recent TV shows, the newspaper, a daily walk, and an elderly woman companion. I got similar thoughts from an elderly woman, evidently the man's companion. Those were not my life either.
This turmoil in my mind was upsetting. Yet with just a little effort I found I could shut out those thoughts and go on with my day. That evening as I was trying to fall asleep I got similar thoughts from the same three people. I was afraid the young woman's thoughts would keep me up forever, but her mind naturally quieted when she fell asleep.
We work in cubicles, and hear the conversations around us if we don't block them out mentally. In an idle moment I heard the woman Sally in the next cube describing what kinds of savings accounts were available. Before I heard her say anything, I had the mundane thought to give the minimum balances required for the accounts, and an instant later I heard her give the balances. I didn't hear the customer's voice, but I did get the thought of annoyance that this customer wasn't very bright. I was aware that my innards hurt and I could feel fluid in, in -- my vagina? And that I had better change my pad soon. But the customer had to be dealt with.
My own next call required my concentration, but I occasionally tuned in to this other set of thoughts, including Sally suppressing her irritation while explaining things over and over, then saying that the customer could call back any time when she had thought about it some more. I in the role of Sally clicked the "not available" button before hanging up, and then as she headed off to the ladies' room the thoughts dimmed and vanished.
I as Jason took my next call and was concentrating on it when a thought popped into my head almost as if someone was calling my name. Sally, returning from the ladies' room, was noting that I (Jason) had a decent body but was a wimpy loser. Gee thanks, Sally. Not that she appealed to me either.
This really seemed like mind reading. There was no mistaking that I was getting Sally's thoughts. The cashier and the older couple were the people living in the other units in my triple-decker.
I thought about telling my doctor, but reconsidered. What would the doctor do if a patient told him he was reading people's minds? I didn't want to go to a mental hospital.
When I was up at the full dose of Zoloft, I don't know if I was really any less depressed, but my life had suddenly gotten much richer and more interesting.
If I didn't focus my mind I could get a cacophony of thoughts. I could get an assortment of thoughts from a dozen people near me in the call center. Frank's cocaine habit and cocaine-addicted girlfriend. Julia's prayers and bible study, loneliness and the struggle to think of that loneliness as God's will. Fat Martha's TV shows, desserts and chaotic attempts to regulate food, and having the hots for ... me! Well thanks for the compliment, Martha. At some level she knew that as a fat woman of nondescript personality and intelligence, a wimpy loser like me was as high as she should fantasize.
I experienced Bill's life full of TV sports, sports pages, and fantasy football. Wendy, the oldest of us: Ouch! Hatred of her husband barely concealed, dating back years in an icy relationship. Negativity was gnarled layers deep. But if I put her out of my mind, her thoughts went. That was a relief.
I drifted into the head of the supervisor Mark, married with two small children, and got the sense of chaos around the house. He had recently had drinks after work with my coworker Stacy leading to sex in her apartment. From Stacy I found she had mixed feelings about Mark. She didn't want to get involved with a married man, but she saw him as a successful and decent man picked on by a demanding wife, and a man who cared about Stacy and was coming to love her.
Back to Mark, I could have told Stacy she was wrong. Mark's thoughts about Stacy began and ended with screwing her hot body. From what I had seen it was an alluring body, and through Mark's eyes I saw it naked and remembered with relish Stacy's uninhibited lust. Encouraged by that juicy thought I wondered if I was in Stacy's mind anywhere? Nope. Just a piece of furniture whose name she knew enough to say Hi to.
All the thoughts of all the people around me were way too much, but I could focus on them in different ways. I could zoom in on any particular person by thinking about them. But if I was interested in strong feelings I could get those quickly (the winner was Wendy's hatred). Physical discomfort? Sally's cramps were pretty bad. Happiness? Stacy: Male interest from every quarter, good sex with Mark, happy times with sisters and mother, a life of opportunity ahead.
I could read thoughts out on the street too. The full range of human thought: working out, make-up, porn, cancer, babies, lottery tickets, mother ambivalence, unpaid bills. Food, constipation, sore feet, bad backs. Sex fulfilled, sex frustrated, sex newly discovered, sexual desire suppressed, lots of cases of sexual urge diminished to the undetectable. Lots of quiet desperation.
It took me several days to adjust to all these thoughts.
It took much longer to learn to use the information I got from mind-reading judiciously. Once my boss came by my cubicle to ask me what days I was available to go to lunch with the group and I said "any day except Thursday" before he had even asked the question. I got out of that one my claiming I had overheard him asking someone else.
The potential for disaster was lurking. I had to keep track of what I had learned from mind-reading and what I knew from my ordinary senses and not reveal information contaminated by mind-reading unless I had an excuse for how I could have found out through some other means. It was like living a big lie, and it was tiring.
In anonymous places I could pull it off, even if it was reckless. A high school boy and girl were chatting on the bus. They were both good kids, neither all that attractive to the ordinary person, but they both thought the other looked OK. She was hoping he would ask for her number, and while part of him was dying to ask her, he wasn't going to. She was going to get off in a couple blocks and he would never see her again. I got up my reckless courage and simply said to him, "215-555-0505. Trust me, you both want to meet again." They both looked embarrassed and stunned. As she didn't correct the number, he worked hard to commit it to memory. Fortunately I could get off at the next stop and escape their bewildered stares.
A visitor was feeling confused and needed to know where the 107 bus left from. I stopped to ask him for directions. "Say, do you know where the 109 leaves from? There's a stop for the 107 down there, just two blocks away, but I can't find the stop for the 109."
And so it went, giving out information when I could pull it off and without drawing attention to myself.
I began wondering if I could put my gift to good use for my own benefit.
I hated my job. Could I use this power to make money? How about playing poker? It worked easily enough. At first I came across as phenomenally lucky, then realized that was no good. I had to lose some of the time too. Still I was hauling in the dough, and these people really didn't like to lose to me day after day. I got scared and quit.
I wondered if sales could be good, since I could know what the potential buyer was thinking. To try the idea out on a small scale I went door to door for the Heart Association on weekends. All I had to do was walk down the street and read the thoughts of the people in the houses. I never wasted time ringing a bell when no one was going to answer. I never wasted time on people who weren't interested or would never give to someone going door to door. Every twenty houses or so, I would sense the right kind of person: lonely, not worried about money, and up for a conversation. Knowing just that, I could count on a positive reaction. I could start on my spiel and refine it based on what worked and what didn't. I wouldn't spend long if I was going to get at most $10. I would talk at length and listen with great interest if I might get $200 or $2,000. I pulled in those checks. It was good supplemental income, but it wasn't enough to let me quit my job. I aroused suspicion at the Heart Association when I came in with five times as much money as anyone else, so I decided to cut back. I took a break in the middle of my shift to read the paper.
I will never forget the first time I sensed intense, raw sexual hunger. Janice had been married for a couple years, and for the first couple years her strong libidinal desires had been fulfilled almost daily. But a year ago in the wake of a few minor tensions her husband had started having trouble getting it up. Her reaction had been one of open frustration and disappointment, which she realized now had been the wrong approach. It had made him more nervous and made his problem worse, and for the past couple months he wouldn't even try. Yet she was sleeping next to his sexy body every night and getting nothing. She had tried masturbating, but it left her feeling lonely and worse than before.
She had lost her job nine months before, and had grown weary of looking for work. She was unmotivated because she could earn a small fraction of what her husband made and they didn't need the extra income. She had trouble finding things to interest her during the day.
I knew she wasn't one who would ordinarily give money to the Heart Association, but she was lonely and I was intrigued. When she opened the door I observed with my own eyes that she was of medium height, with curly brown hair and wide-set brown eyes. She had the girlish body type I find especially appealing, with small breasts and hips.
I was blown away by the surge of lust she felt when she saw me. Her hunger meant her standards were pretty low, I reflected later, but it was still exciting to be wanted so badly. I could feel her awareness of the little surge of blood to her vulva, feel her sense her vagina deepen just a little. I started on my spiel, and could tell quickly that she was bored. However, she would listen politely and give me some money and fantasize that somehow she could get me into bed. I took her pledge while thinking about it. I wanted her, and she certainly wanted me. I had never been involved with a married woman before. Of greater interest was how sex would be different when I could read my partner's mind.
I was wimpy enough, as Sally had accurately observed, that I didn't take many risks with women because I feared getting rejected. I had realized that with mind-reading, I would never have to worry about that. If the answer would be No, I wouldn't ask. The downside was that I would know what women really thought about me, unadorned by politeness. Sometimes those thoughts hurt.
But this woman wanted me and would not say No. It was a Saturday and her husband was away on business through Tuesday. There were no hesitations from her end. She felt that if her husband couldn't satisfy her sexually it was her right to get it elsewhere.
She thought about contraception. She had a diaphragm and condoms, but she was feeling reckless and didn't want to use them. She figured she would get an abortion if she needed one. I found in her past no STDs and no fear of her husband's past infidelity, so I decided I was fine with that too.
I approached her slowly, gently drew her to me, and raised her chin for a kiss. The excitement from her was tremendous. She kissed me eagerly. I started to gently put my hand on her butt, but could sense that that had bad associations for her, so I moved it up to her back. Her fantasy was being naked on her bed, legs spread wide, with me naked above her, guiding my penis into her.
I gently started walking in the direction of the bedroom, and she walked ahead to lead me. She started on my shirt buttons, but I could tell she would be just as happy if we could both instantly get naked.
I tried something I had a hunch would go over well. I spoke the first word that had passed between us since she gave me her check. "Strip." It thrilled her and she instantly complied. A bit of fear whizzed through her mind as to whether I would be happy with her body, but it was minor.
I also stripped quickly, revealing a full erection, which she noted with a little pang of heightened desire.
She threw all the covers off the bed and sat on it. Then she tugged gently on my hand. Her next thought was fairly complicated. She really just wished I would get inside her as fast as possible, but since I couldn't know she would want that it would be inconsiderate of me to do so, which then would turn her off. And she would feel embarrassed just asking for it.
With instant mount-and-penetrate off the table, what she wanted instead wasn't clear, but many things would be acceptable. I gently pushed her onto her back and straddled her. First I smoothed her hair and stroked her cheek, which she liked a lot. I then kissed and gently sucked one nipple, then the other. This also got a very positive reaction. She was burning with lust at an animal level.
Her vagina was so hungry for attention it was almost itching. So I raised myself up above her and looked at her full, perfect, young woman's vulva. No spreading of labia was required. I gently pushed in, and felt two things at once. I felt directly the incredible pleasure of her hot silky texture on my penis, but also indirectly her excitement at having a large hard penis fill her up.
She wanted me to let myself down on her, grab her behind the shoulders, and fuck as hard as I could. I did. She came within seconds. I took my time because I wanted to prolong the enjoyment and could sense she was fine with that too. My hunger and excitement built until I shot her full of my sperm, and the pleasure was amazingly intense. My body hadn't had sex with a woman in a year, and it reacted with extra pleasure. I sensed that if I kept going just a few more seconds she thought she would come again -- and she was right.
I pulled out and lay beside her. I began to feel from her a wave of remorse and guilt at cheating on her husband, but she pushed the thought away. She also was amazed at my skill as a lover. I seemed to know just what she wanted. She was right, of course.
My penis began rising on its own within a couple minutes, and I felt her remorse give way to lust. She had sinned, but doing it once more wouldn't make the sin any worse. Her dream now was doing it doggy style, but she didn't want to let me know that because she was embarrassed about it. The idea was thrilling to me.
It occurred to me that if I just told her I wanted to do it from the rear then my coincidentally wanting just what she wanted might scare her. So I was indirect, and asked if she liked any other positions. She was still embarrassed to mention it, so I said sheepishly that most women I knew hadn't liked it, but doing it from the rear was a real thrill to me. She gave a huge smile and promptly got on her hands and knees. She wanted this to be even faster and rougher than the first time. I guided myself in and complied. I grabbed her butt and started humping furiously. I tentatively dug my fingernails into her butt, and observing she found it thrilling I dug them in a bit tighter.
As I strained inward I could sense her minor pain as my penis bumped the end, but I could also sense that she liked that pain, and she started on a massive orgasm. I exploded too, being sure to press in extra deep as I came to give her a little extra jolt of pain to spice up the orgasm.
We had said hardly anything. After catching my breath, I decided I had had enough and wanted to leave. She wouldn't mind, as the guilt came back and she thought about how she would want to wash at least the sheet, maybe the pad underneath as well.
The idea of leaving her husband for me whizzed through her head, though she dismissed it. I could tell I wasn't successful enough for her, and that made me uninterested in her as a permanent mate too. It was amazing how I could instantly determine what might take ordinary people a dozen dates to find out.
I knew I wanted to come back for sex and could tell she wanted that too. She wanted to ask for my email, and after brief consideration gave an unmistakable hint. I just smiled and said I might be back. In that moment, as I retained control over our future together, her yearning for me increased.
As the months passed I drove by, sometimes finding her thinking of other things, sometimes having her period, sometimes desperate to reconnect with her husband.
But other times she wanted sex badly, and those were the days I stopped in. I sensed once that she had discovered she was pregnant, and had found it harder to actually get the abortion than she had expected. After consideration of the alternates she had gone ahead. Her thoughts on the subject got me thinking too.
I was developing compassion for her, if not love. I had other lovers by that time, so giving her up wasn't going to be that hard. I came by in the evening a couple times to read her husband's thoughts, and his inner turmoil was intense. He was a good man, and he loved her. He suspected she was having an affair. He himself had had a couple one-night stands to see if he really could get it up. Once he could, and once he couldn't. After getting a good feel for him, I printed out a letter for Janice:
"I can read your mind. If you don't believe me, I know you shoplifted that perfume when you were in sixth grade even though you never told anyone. Mind-reading is the main reason I have been a splendid lover for you. I can also read your husband's mind. You can make your marriage work. Follow these steps: 1. Tell him you will love him forever if he never has an erection again (even if it's not true). 2. Insist on giving him oral sex every time even if his penis stays tiny -- it will still feel good to him. I know it's not your favorite thing but he's worth it. 3. I'm afraid he won't use his mouth on you, but he's still worth it. He will fondle you while you masturbate and be happy about it, so you can relax. 4. After a month, admit the affair with me. Grovel. He will forgive you, just don't do it again. 5. Goodbye.
I wandered by a year later in the evening and could tell from reading their minds that it had worked.
I thought I ought to be able to use my gift to earn some serious money. Poker hadn't worked out, and Heart Association canvassing was nice for a little extra cash, but wasn't going to cut it. I might succeed in other sales jobs, but they are hard work.
I had a brilliant idea. At the water cooler one day my coworker Bill mentioned a friend Carl who was in the business world but gave him stories to look at sometimes. Picking up a bit of Carl's personality from Bill's mind, I told Bill that I too was an aspiring writer. He made the connection and offered to put is in touch. When I met Carl for coffee I asked him for ideas about how a fictional mind-reader could make big money from his gift. I could sense Carl's mind churning, and he spun forth some ideas. One seemed especially good.
Peasley Construction bid on government construction projects. That much I found out from Carl. The rest I found out from hanging around outside their offices and listening in on their minds. Mr. Peasley was basically a decent guy, but he was willing to compromise on ethics to make his business grow -- a remarkably common trait among business owners, I found later. I said I had a friend who had a method for predicting how a construction company would arrive at bids. Then I asked if he had any interest in funding a case study of this man's work in analyzing his chief competitor Danforth.
Peasley thought he understood. My "friend" was an insider at Danforth. I asked how $15,000 would be for him to work on a prediction on the upcoming housing renovation project. Peasley said that sounded just fine. $5,000 up front and $10,000 if the results were accurate. I made sure the number I gave Peasley was a little different from the one I got from the head of the Danforth CEO. But it was close, and it was the start of a beautiful friendship. I branched out to a couple companies in other businesses too. $300,000 per year was plenty for me for a few hours' work each month.
Goodbye call center!
My initial experience with Janice had given me confidence, and after the first couple times I saw her I decided to try my luck elsewhere.
I got myself a Latte at the Starbucks and read my paper. By then I was accustomed to the variety of thoughts that go through the minds of a crowd of people in a city. I shut them out mostly and concentrated on the thoughts coming from the attractive women. Careers. A lot of self-consciousness. Was their hair OK? If only they could lose a little more weight. The guys they were involved with. Memories of groping and clumsy advances. A few in love, memories of romance and hot sex. Some having broken up. Some trying to get out of a bad relationship. Some pining for someone but never seeming to connect.
I started striking up conversations with the ones who were open to sex with no strings attached. What I could not tell in advance was how they would react to me personally, and I had a dose of humility as I ended some conversations as soon as politeness allowed. But there were the others.
Freya was a little spacey. She was gorgeous but didn't really know it. She was into meditation and healthy food, finding good energy and good vibes, and astrology. My line as I approached her was there was something about her that struck me. Was she a Virgo? Why yes, she was! This definitely piqued her interest. How did I know? Oh, just a feeling I had. Would she like to take a walk along the river? Why yes, that would be great! I could indeed hug her, and wasn't that remarkable that I commented on the positive energy just as she was feeling it too?
Back at her apartment she offered me tea, but I said the stars were aligned for something else. I kissed her, and she responded to my body as well as my spiritual essence. Off went the flannel shirt and ordinary white bra, the jeans and ordinary white panties, and underneath it was her gorgeous hot body. She might have flaky New Age ideas, but her body was entirely real and luscious. I could of course tell exactly what bits of foreplay were working well.
As I considered just how to approach her, her history of sex was clear and clean. She liked it in missionary position, and when in harmony with a guy, she would come just from straight old penis-in-vagina intercourse. She hadn't been involved with anyone for a while, and while she wasn't one to think about what she was missing, now that I was there she was very interested.