Betsy Carter
Chapter 11

Copyright© 2012 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chuck stood just inside the entrance of the college and looked around at his surroundings as if to memorize them. The lobby was filled with artwork and photographs showing nature in all its glory. It was as if the lobby was dedicated to the Goddess.

His eyes fell upon a photograph of a snowdrift. There was a blue sheen to the snow that seemed to announce that despite its frozen state, it was still water even if it had to advertise itself with the blue of the deep water. A wind was blowing a swirl of white powdery snow from the top of the drift. It looked cold and a chill went down his back just gazing upon it. There was a hint of power in the image, as if to suggest that against nature, man stood no chance should it ever turn against him.

He turned his attention to a painting of a stream meandering through a rocky landscape. Trees, roots twisted by working their way through the rocky soil, stood guard over the thin trickle of water with brown trunks topped with hats of dull olive green leaves. To one side, a forlorn dead tree stood with a white trunk stripped of bark and branches broken and twisted. It was as if the tree had been assaulted by a strong hand that had reached down to crush it out of existence. The crusty patches of moss and lichen, confined to areas of constant shade, clung to the larger rocks. The stark image emoted a sense that all of life was a struggle against the elements.

There was a photograph of baby birds in a fragile nest straining upwards with beaks open while a mother bird stood above with an insect crushed in its beak. There was a sense of urgency in the baby birds, each intent upon being the one gifted with the insect. It was life screaming for more life even if it was at the expense of other living things.

Chuck turned his eyes to examine the portrait of John Carter that hung on the wall near where he stood. It was hard to say what emotions he felt gazing upon the image. The portrait showed a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. There was a sense of wisdom around the eyes that just hinted that he could stand the greatest of trials which he would face. It was a powerful image of a man who was just a bit more than a man.

"John Carter was a great man."

Chuck turned to look at the man who had spoken. The man was wearing a brown robe with his gold medallion clearly visible. In appearance, he was a plain looking man. He was not the kind of person one would point out as the leader of a religious organization. The fact that he was wearing sunglasses, indoors, was a little odd, though.

Chuck replied, "Yes, he was."

"Few men have changed the world as much as he did."

"I know," Chuck said. He pointed to another portrait. "Who is that?"

"That's Happy Harry."

"I'm sorry. I've never heard of him."

"He was great in a different kind of way than was John Carter. He sacrificed himself for the invisible people of this world."

"I'd like to hear more about him," Chuck said thinking that anyone whose picture had found company with that of John Carter, must have done great things.

"Talk to William Redman Carter when you get a chance. He'll tell you all about Happy Harry."

"I will."

Oliver pointed to the portrait next to it and said, "That's Oscar Meyers."

"Another great man," Chuck said remembering the day of his great sacrifice.

His parents had wept that day with joyful sorrow. Proof that Gods and Goddesses existed had been given to all of mankind that day. The end of religious wars had been promised. Despite the wars that continued to rage, that promise had been kept. No more would men gather others to them to wage war with a doctrine that they were fighting in the name of their God. That was the joy. The sorrow came at knowing the price paid by the messengers of the Powers That Be to deliver that message.

"I personally hung that portrait there as a memorial for his sacrifice," Oliver said, a catch in his voice at the remembrance of that day.

Chuck said, "He was exceptionally brave."

"Yes, he was," Oliver said, "I expect my successor to hang two more portraits beside those two."

"Two? You and who else?"

"Not me," Oliver said with a smile.

"Who?"

"One day someone will hang a portrait of William Redman Carter over there and then one of Betsy Carter right beside it."

"Betsy? My Betsy?" Chuck asked surprised to learn that.

"You have no idea how special she is," Oliver said.

"You're wrong. She's very special and I know it."

He had seen her at work in her service to the Two-Sided One. A small comment made among a gathering of people often led to those people energetically pursuing some idea to a successful conclusion. She was part, yet not part, of leading people to a solution to problems that seemed overwhelming at times. There was about her that sense of duality reflecting the nature of the Two-Sided One.

Oliver said, "Come with me to my office, Chuck Cole. We have to talk."

"Sure," Chuck said unsurprised that Oliver knew who he was.

While following Oliver to his office, Chuck asked, "What's with the sunglasses?"

"I can see the spirit in a person. Some people are dull while others are so bright that it is almost blinding to me. I wear the sunglasses so that I can function around people who are pure of spirit and full of life."

"Oh," Chuck said. "What do you see when you look at me?"

"Black spots on your heart," Oliver said.

"Is that bad?"

"Yes," Oliver answered flatly

Chuck sputtered for a second trying to think of a comeback. Finally, he said, "You could have sugar coated it a bit."

"No I couldn't. That's why you're here," Oliver said.

Chuck said, "I'm here to escort five of your students to Hawaii."

"That was the excuse to bring you here. You are here to learn the truth about yourself and others," Oliver said.

"Why?"

They had reached Oliver's office. He stopped, opened the door, and gestured for Chuck to enter. Chuck walked in, froze, and gazed upon furniture the quality of which he had never before seen. The rich wood shone as if lit by an inner light. There was a solidity to it that most modern furniture didn't possess. The furniture wasn't pretentious, but it was luxurious.

"Nice furniture," Chuck said in envy.

"It will last hundreds of years," Oliver said while brushing the surface of the desk with his finger tips of his right hand. "That's the best form of conservation. When you use a natural resource, do it in a manner that will last forever."

"It definitely looks like it will last forever," Chuck said.

Oliver went behind his desk and sat down. He looked across the room at Chuck for a second before gesturing to one of the chairs in front of his desk with a casual flick of his hand. As if to reinforce his gesture, he added, "Have a seat."

"Thanks," Chuck said while sitting down.

Oliver said, "There are two rules by which we Druids live. If it harms none, then do it. Protect the weak from the strong."

"I've heard them before. They aren't that difficult to remember," Chuck said.

He wasn't going to mention that Betsy spoke of the rules quite frequently when things would start to get a little tense around her household. It was as if the repetition of the rules was a salve with which to heal wounded feelings. For some reason that eluded him, it appeared to work.

"You know the words to the rules, but you don't understand what they mean. In order to live with Betsy without destroying her spirit, you must understand those two rules."

"That's not true. I live by those rules. I don't hurt anyone. I do my best to protect the weak from the strong."

Shaking his head, Oliver said, "Every time Betsy disrobes in front of others, you get angry."

"Well ... Sure," Chuck said thinking it was wrong for his girlfriend, his future wife, to strip naked in front of others.

"If it harms none, then do it."

"What's that got to do with disrobing in front of others?" Chuck asked.

"Who does it harm if she disrobes in front of others?"

Chuck stared at Oliver pretty sure that it was a trick question. He didn't want to answer the question as it was asked. He was pretty sure that if he answered that he was hurt, then Oliver would tear him apart.

He said, "It's not right."

"What do you mean it is not right?" Oliver asked.

"She's not supposed to undress in front of other men," Chuck answered.

"I wasn't asking if it was right or wrong. I asked, who does it harm?"

"I guess, nobody."

"You guess?" Oliver asked. "Don't you know?"

"Well, not really. I mean, she could end up with a bunch of guys leering at her," Chuck replied.

"Does that leering harm anyone?"

"Sure. If one of them decides to take advantage of what he sees, she or I could get hurt," Chuck replied.

"Excellent!"

"Okay," Chuck said not following the point. "So?"

Oliver asked, "Has she ever disrobed where people leered at her?"

"Well, on the boat the guys looked at her," Chuck said knowing it was a weak example.

"Looked? Hmm, they looked at her. Is that a leer?" Oliver queried.

"No."

"Did they try to take advantage of her?"

"No," Chuck answered.

"Were there any other times when people looked at her in a bad way?" Oliver asked.

"Well, no."

Oliver said, "So she manages to undress only when she's around people who won't leer at her and try to take advantage of her. Is that right?"

Chuck didn't want to answer the question. He knew that none of the guys on the boat would dare touch her. None of the people at her house would even consider doing anything that might harm her.

He waffled, "Maybe."

"Is it or isn't it?" Oliver asked, demanding an answer.

"I don't know. I'm not always around when she gets undressed," Chuck said sharply.

"Why are you upset?"

"I don't know."

"You do know."

"No, I don't!"

"I'll save you the embarrassment of having to say it. You don't like the idea of her getting undressed around others. You're afraid that she's going to jump in bed with some guy, and you'll lose her," Oliver said.

"Maybe," Chuck said.

"Now we're getting somewhere," Oliver said. He added sarcastically, "Maybe."

"I don't like where we're going," Chuck muttered under his breath.

Oliver laughed. "I imagine you don't."

"Then lets not go there," Chuck said.

"Oh, but we must," Oliver said.

Feeling a flare of anger, Chuck said, "You don't know me!"

Oliver lowered his sunglasses to look at Chuck. There was a coldness to his voice when he replied, "I don't need to know you. I can see it in your heart! It is a huge black spot, cancerous, destructive, and ugly. One day it will consume you if it is allowed to grow unfettered and unchallenged."

A chill went down Chuck's spine. The hair on his arms rose. He shivered knowing that he had just had a small experience with the power of a Druid.

Moving his glasses back into place, Oliver asked, "Which of you is in a stronger position in your relationship? You or Betsy?"

"Betsy," Chuck said automatically.

"Really?"

"Sure."

"Who has more experience with intimate relations with members of the opposite sex?"

"Me," Chuck answered knowing that he was her first boyfriend, but she wasn't his first girlfriend.

"Which of you has more experience in losing a lover?"

"Me," Chuck answered knowing where Oliver was headed.

Oliver said, "So you think that she is in a stronger position in this relationship that you?"

"She's so far out of my league, it isn't funny."

Oliver said, "There's the second black spot on your heart. You are insecure."

"No I'm not," Chuck said while admitting privately that Oliver was right.

"Don't lie to me. I can read your heart like a book," Oliver said.

Deciding that he would concede that point a little, he said, "Okay, so I'm a little insecure."

"You're a lot insecure," Oliver said flatly.

"If you say so," Chuck said.

Oliver said, "Just admit that she's very inexperienced in having a relationship with a man and that makes her vulnerable. In fact, it makes her a lot more vulnerable than you."

"Maybe I'm in a little stronger position in our relationship."

"I would say it is definite," Oliver said. He leaned forward and added, "You could crush her like an insect underfoot. With just a little effort, you can kill her soul."

"No!" Chuck said horrified at the suggestion he'd do that.

"Yes, you can, and you will, unless you learn from whence your jealousy, and insecurity arises."

"I wouldn't do that. I couldn't do that."

"How many times in the past were you on the verge of calling her a slut for undressing in front of others?"

Chuck lowered his head and stared at the floor to avoid looking at Oliver. His blood pressure had always increased a little when she undressed in front of others. He wasn't sure how many times he had bit back words of chastisement.

"You're too embarrassed to answer the question because the answer is too many times too many."

Chuck didn't look up.

Oliver said, "Tomorrow, you will go to school."

"I don't have time for school."

"You don't have time not to go to school. It is now or never. It is time for you to decide. Are you going to save your love for Betsy, protect her from yourself, and nurture her love for you? Or, are you going to destroy her with your rabid jealousy, and insecurities? The choice is yours. The time to make that choice is now."

"I'll go to school," Chuck said. "What classes will I be taking?"

"The classes don't matter. It is the lessons that are important," Oliver said cryptically.


Holding the box he had been handed in front of him, Chuck froze upon hearing the order to strip. He could hear his heart beating in his ears like a giant drum banging out a marching beat.

His eyes darted around to the people in the room. Most were standing there in a state of shock staring at the Grand Druid wondering if they had heard him correctly. It was as if the entire crowd of students suddenly shrank and pulled back as if faced with a burning inferno.

In a voice that was far louder than he had intended, Chuck shouted, "There's got to be a mistake here!"

A black robed Druid appeared in front of him as if by magic. In a hard cold voice, the man said, "Strip."

Chuck looked at the man. He had the most penetrating gray eyes he had ever seen on a person. The face was tanned and lined from the sun. Chuck swallowed.

"Strip."

Chuck's hands moved of their own accord. His shirt fell to the floor. He removed his shoes, socks, and pants. His hands reached his briefs, but froze there as if undecided about what they were to do. He slowly lowered his briefs and stood there naked.

"Put your clothes in the box."

Chuck did as ordered.

"Look around at your fellow students."

Chuck looked around the room. Some of the young men and women there looked terrified as if they were going to be attacked any moment. Others were petrified with embarrassment, and tried to cover as much of their body as possible with their hands. A few stood unabashed as if to announce that this was nothing special.

Chuck accused, "You're harming them."

"No. We're undoing twenty years of harm that has been done to them. They are uncomfortable because the process has just begun, but they are not being harmed," the man replied.


Miserable in his nakedness, Chuck sat in the dining room trying to eat his lunch. The Chef Salad, with its chunks of cheese, ham, turkey, tomatoes, and bell peppers covering the bed of lettuce, looked appetizing. Unfortunately, he had little appetite. He prodded a half of a hard boiled egg with his fork.

He noticed a young man seated across the room from him. The young man was a black robed Druid. The young man made a gesture beckoning him to approach. Chuck rose and headed over to the man. The young man held up a hand telling him to stop. Chuck stopped. A second later, a young woman seated near where he stood started screaming at a young man who was seated beside her.

A green robed Druid approached and, calmly, asked, "What's the problem here?"

"He slept with another woman after sleeping with me!"

"And?" the green robed Druid asked.

"He shouldn't have," the woman said declared hotly.

"Did he tell you that he was going to be exclusive with you?"

"No."

"Then why did you expect him to be exclusive with you?"

"Because we slept together," the woman said righteously.

"You assumed that meant you and he were exclusive?"

The woman answered, "Yes."

"Did you tell him that?"

There was a slight pause before the woman answered, "No."

"How was he supposed to know that?"

"Because, that's how it is supposed to be!"

The green robed Druid looked thoughtful. She asked, "Does he know that?"

"He's supposed to know it."

The green robed Druid turned to the young man and asked, "Did you know that by having sex with her that you were committing to an exclusive relationship?"

"No. I thought we were both seeking release from some of the sexual pressures that had been building in us," the young man answered.

The green robed Druid turned to the young woman and said, "He did not harm you. You harmed yourself. You placed expectations on the encounter without communicating your expectations to your partner. You placed him in a position in which he wouldn't know that you expected him to behave in a particular manner. You should not be surprised when he didn't live up to those expectations."

"But he was supposed to know," the young woman whined.

"He didn't. You have to communicate with others to avoid problems like this."

The young man smiled. The green robed Druid spun around to him and asked, "Do you think that you can just go around dipping your wick in every honeypot here without someone getting hurt?"

"Well... , no."

"You bear some responsibility here. You are supposed to protect others from harm, even if that harm originates from within them."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"You did a wham, bam, thank you Ma'am, here without concern for her feelings. She might have looked back upon the experience with pleasure if she had known that was what she was going to get. Now, she feels cheapened by it," the green robed Druid said.

"Yes, Ma'am."

"I want both of you to think about what happened here. I want you to try to express to her what she felt. I want you, to try to express to him what he felt."

Looking serene, the green robed Druid walked away. Chuck looked over at the black robed Druid. The young man made a shooing gesture. Chuck walked back to where he had left his lunch. He looked at the salad and sighed.

He was horny, but wouldn't take advantage of any of the women here. He expected Betsy to be true to him and he was going to be true to her. That was a given. They didn't need to talk about it. Or did they? The thought came unbidden to him.


Chuck, standing along with the other students, watched the young man and an older oriental woman demonstrate the martial arts that all students were expected to learn. The action was fast and furious. They exchanged blows at a speed that exceeded the ability of the eye to follow. He was thinking that either of them would give Betsy a run for her money.

At the conclusion of the demonstration, the young man spoke. "Learning the martial arts is not about becoming a bully capable of beating anyone in a fight. It is about having the skill, knowledge, and confidence necessary to protect yourself in situations where violence is unavoidable. It is about recognizing when violence is necessary and when it can be avoided.

"The second rule is to protect the weak from the strong. In order to act in accordance with this rule, you must be able to defend yourself from both the weak and the strong."

A student asked, "Won't you cause harm by using the martial arts? You can break bones and even kill someone. Isn't that a violation of the first rule?"

The young man answered, "Yes, you can cause harm. Sometimes you must harm another to prevent a greater harm from occurring. And yes, there are even occasions where death will result.

"Does the second rule trump the first? Yes, it does. The goal is to use as little force as necessary to stop a strong person, but sometimes that is not possible.

"You have to remember that you are not the only one involved in the situation. You will not have absolute control over what happens. Sometimes you'll have no choice except to employ force that will harm, maim, or even kill."

"That sounds like a cop-out to me," a student said.

"It is not. If you are lucky, you'll never have to face evil. If you are not so lucky, you may have to look upon the face of evil. If you are very unlucky, you may have to deal with evil. Should that day ever come, you'll understand all that I've said," the young man said.

"Do you really believe in evil?"

Flatly, the young man answered, "Yes."


Five students sat down at the table joining Chuck who was in the midst of drinking a milkshake. They wore white robes with four blue chevrons on each sleeve. Chuck knew enough by now to recognize that they were fifth year students. All five students looked expectantly at him.

"Hello," Chuck said wondering if they had the right person.

There is more of this chapter...
The source of this story is Storiesonline

To read the complete story you need to be logged in:
Log In or
Register for a Free account (Why register?)

Get No-Registration Temporary Access*

* Allows you 3 stories to read in 24 hours.