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The reply came promptly. Within the hour of sending her message, Helene read the short response. “Meet me Saturday at 12:30 pm on the steps of the front entrance of art gallery. I will be waiting under that large and impressive gargoyle perched above the entrance. You can’t miss it. Wear some sensible shoes as we will be doing some walking.”
Helene was amused by the mention of the gargoyle. “Writers and their damn symbolism.” she chuckled as she rolled her eyes. “What’s with that?”
Helene had a couple days to wait for this meeting and she was of two minds about it. Part of her couldn’t wait to see what was in store for her. Her new acquaintance clearly had some imagination. Another part of her was tangibly nervous and anxious. It was a feeling she hadn’t had since her college days. She thought of her first time in a lecture hall where she had to stand up in front of a large group of her peers and give a brief summary of a report she had written. She had to provide an explanation of her report’s significance and relevance within her discipline.
She knew the material backwards and forwards. There was no doubt about the quality of her work or her ability to communicate it. And yet, as the time drew near to stand up and begin, it seemed her body became a completely irrational force that would not be tamed. She began to sweat, and her heart raced. Her ability to focus and organize her thoughts was elusive and the realization made her begin to panic. She thought she might be nervous, but not like this. This was more like facing a firing squad than a slightly disinterested group of students. She cringed at the idea that they would likely take far more interest in a personal meltdown than an academic discussion. “Please don’t let me be that kind of entertainment.” she quietly pleaded.
Fortunately for Helene, a young man she knew recognized her distress and asked her how she felt. She readily admitted how nervous she was and how childish she felt. The young man said “Everybody feels that way at first, but not everybody has the courage to admit it. Just start with that fact and once the words start spilling out, you will be fine.”
The advice was sound. She got up and with a laugh admitted that this was her first real taste of public speaking which scared her shitless, and she hoped more than anything for a fire alarm to sound, or bomb threat to be called in. This was received with a good deal of laughter which somehow disarmed most of her nervous energy. In no more than a minute, she felt composed and relaxed and the master of her emotions again. As she joked later to one of her friends, “The truth shall set you free.”
On the morning of her arranged meeting, she found that old stage fright start to creep in as she looked into her bathroom mirror. She pulled at her hair, and turned her head as she considered different angles of her profile. She began to consider for the first time that maybe she would disappoint this man. Maybe she was not up to whatever challenges or expectations he might have. God only knew what he had in mind.
“At least actors have a script for their characters. This feels more like some sort of stand-up improv.” she fretted. What could be more devastating that bad reviews she wondered.
* * * * *
The morning of the first meeting was a classic spring day. The sky was very blue, with an appealing arrangement of clouds scattered around. The type of clouds one could stare at and find recognizable shapes everywhere within them if you only had the time and the imagination to try. They reminded her of paintings she had seen from some Dutch master who had so expertly arranged the play of the different shades bursa escort of color that clouds can contain – from the most billowy white, to the angry grey-black.
The wind was just strong enough to give the air a particular clean and sharp taste which made one’s senses more alert and alive. It was the kind of day that Helene loved and put her in good mood as she took the short walk from her apartment to the art gallery.
The day being as brisk as it was, Helene wore a pale knee length trench coat style overcoat and a vibrant colored scarf that she liked. Beneath that she wore a light sweater, some slacks and some flat shoes. Not the sexiest outfit she realized, but she liked how she looked and felt very comfortable this way. There was an understated elegance to her that she dimly appreciated.
At noon on a Saturday the wide city street was jammed with people and was a hive of activity. Helene was crossing an intersection when she first caught site of the art gallery entrance and began to scan around for her new acquaintance. The entrance was crowded with a vast assortment of people who mingled around in clustered little knots. She was scanning back and forth across the entrance getting closer and closer.
She remembered about the gargoyle and looked up to find it. It was funny she had never really looked at it properly before. Helene thought the figure was perhaps some some sort of representation of a fallen angel. It was a great winged creature not unlike a small dragon. But the torso and and arms were very much like a human. But what made it remarkable was the face. It was large with an imperious head with ancient visage. Its head was clasped between its hand and seemed to stare out rather intensely at all before it. One could imagine the face portrayed indifference, or even contempt, except that its tongue was firmly jutting out from the side. Was this meant to be mocking or perhaps lascivious? It was tough to say.
Helene dropped her gaze below the figure and saw another face looking right at her. When there eyes met she was instantly pleased. The man sitting propped up against a pillar with his hand under his cheek and his head cocked to one side. He was smiling broadly and she got the impression he had seen her well before she had seen him.
He quickly straightened, and moved down the stairs to greet her.
“It is so nice to see you” he said. “You look wonderful.”
She beamed at him and replied, “You are not so bad yourself.”
She reached out and put a hand on his shoulder and held him at arms length for a moment as she gave him a searching look.
“So, what IS your name?”
“You can call me Jack”
Helene sensed something in this answer and squinted at him.
“What does your mother call you?”
“Which do you prefer?”
“I have been Jack since I was kid”
“OK Jack. What’s on the agenda?”
Jack reached over and swung his around Helene’s shoulder and started leading her to the sidewalk with a surprising ease and familiarity that she found so unusual. It was as if they were old friends.
“For today I wanted to discuss some specific ideas and hopefully get a chance to explore their significance. For the time being, I would like for us to just walk and talk. We can go down to ocean front and walk the seawall. It is a good day for it.”
So Helene slipped her arm around Jack’s waist and allowed herself to be led down the street all the while stealing glances at his expression.
Jack dove right in to his subject matter.
“Let me ask you a question. What is the most control you ever had over another person?”
Helene scrunched up escort bursa her face. “I don’t know what to say to that. I don’t look to control others. Its not something I look for.”
“Let me put it another way. Have you had anyone allow themselves to be directed by you in any significant way.”
“Maybe my parents. I sometimes could make demands on them which they would allow.”
“That’s actually a good example. What about boyfriends?”
“I suppose so. I could get my own way on places to go and things to do but I don’t believe I really thought of it as control, exactly.”
“Fair enough. What would you think if I told you that I would give you complete control over me for the next 30 minutes? What would you think of that?”
Helene started to laugh. “I think that would be great. Are you serious?”
“I am. I want to give you an opportunity to experience that. I would have no limits whatsoever. What happens is entirely up to you.”
Helene broke into a mischievous grin. “Thirty minutes, huh? Let me set my watch.”
“OK. Starting now, I am all yours.”
“OK Jack. Remember this was your idea.”
Helene mind was racing with the possibilities. They were approaching the seawall and they was plenty of people walking past in both directions. She couldn’t help but want to see what fun she could have at his expense. As she scanned the crowd, she saw a young man walking towards her who fashionably dressed and Helene guessed he a gay man – something not hard to find in this part of the city.
Helene said “Alright, Jack. I want you to do something nice. Tell that man that he is beautiful.”
Helene smirked and looked to see what Jack’s reaction would be. Jack rolled his eyes a little and shook his head ever so slightly. Then as the young man got directly in front of them, Jack said in somewhat formal way, “Excuse me, but I wanted to tell you that you are beautiful.”
“Well aren’t you a sweetheart. Thank you!” the young man exclaimed with no small amount of amusement.
“Your welcome.” Jack said.
Helene looked at Jack. “So, you really are going to let me mess with you?”
“If that’s what you want.” said Jack.
Helene looked at him more seriously this time. “Maybe we need find something more difficult. Something to test your commitment to this game.”
Helene felt like she was being challenged somehow and felt an obligation to live up to that challenge.
She saw another man approach. This man was very large and strong looking. He had a barrel chest, large arms, and a big black beard. He was an intimidating presence. Helene thought she could find the limits to Jack’s interest in this game right now.
“Jack, I want you to go up to that man right there and without a word try to kiss him.”
Jack closed his eyes for a moment and sighed as he processed this request. Helene found his reaction hilarious and burst out laughing.
“What, you can’t do a simple thing like that?” she mocked in a sing song tone.
Jack hesitated for a moment and then walked over to this dangerous looking man and blocked his path. The man looked at him with an expression of curiosity as if he couldn’t figure out what Jack wanted. Then Jack started to lean in until their faces got very close together. The man seemed startled, and then angry and grabbed Jack by the hair and peeled his head back away from his own and held him there.
“What the fuck do you think you are doing?” The man bellowed.
Jack said in a strangely quiet voice, “I was trying to kiss you.”
The man snorted and shoved Jack backwards, sending him falling over onto the pavement. This action caused many people to stop escort bursa and stare.
“Are you insane or what? Get out of here before I kick your ass.”
The man stepped around Jack, clearly very agitated, and continued walking while mumbling to himself about how he should put that guy in the hospital. Jack slowly got back up and checked his clothes and try to brush off some dirt on his leg. Helene was trying hard not to laugh but at the same time felt a bit guilty for causing Jack to get roughed up.
“Jack, you didn’t really have to do that. I thought you would have refused.”
“I don’t think you have really grasped the significance of our game yet.” said Jack.
“Are you going to stand there and tell me that you will do anything I say – no matter what it is? That’s crazy. That guy could have really hurt you if he wanted.”
“That’s true.” said Jack.
The pair walked on for a little while and not much was said as Helene tried to consider what the real purpose of this game actually was.
“Is this about testing limits, Jack? Am I supposed to be impressed by your commitment here? I don’t get it. I don’t know what to do with you at this point.”
They came to a higher of point of the seawall where there was a railing and long drop off into the ocean below. There were danger sings posted here about not climbing the railing.
Helene leaned against the rail and stared down. She figured the drop was about 60 feet or so. There was no way to know how deep the water was here.
Helene said “Jack, if I asked you right now to jump off this ledge into the water, would you do it?”
“How do you know that you wouldn’t be seriously hurt?”
“I don’t believe you would do it. Only a lunatic would do that just because someone asked them to.”
Jack simply shrugged at this statement, but there seemed to be a certain defiance in the look on Jack’s face that Helene noted.
“I think you are bluffing. I call your bluff. Jump off the ledge,”
Jack’s face took on a new expression. He looked scared. But he did hesitate. Jack threw his leg over the handrail and landed on the narrow patch of ground on the other side. He looked down at the water for a moment, and looked back at Helene. He was searching her face for something now, and seemed not to find it.
“OK. Wish me luck.” he said and shifted his weight forward.
Helene lunged out and grabbed Jack by the collar of his jacket before he could fall forward and yelled out, “OK, I believe you, I believe you, you crazy bastard. Now get off of there before you kill yourself.”
Jack turned and grabbed the rail and threw a leg over and deftly landed on the other side. Helene grabbed hold of him and pulled him close.
“How much time do I have left Jack?” she asked.
“About five minutes.”
Helene grabbed Jack’s hand and led him to a bench under a tree, and told him to sit down. She looked intently at him for a moment and said “close your eyes and don’t move.”
Helene took her hand and reached very gently up to Jack’s face. She placed her fingers under his chin and slowly and gently traced his jaw line. She allowed her fingers to drag over his cheek and across his forehead before gently coming to rest upon his lips. Her thumb ever so carefully traced its contours.
“Tell me what happens next time, Jack?”
“Same as today, only we switch places.”
“I hope you are kidding.”
“Not even a little.”
“I don’t think I am ready for that.”
Jack gently reached up and grasped Helene’s hand and entwined his finger with hers. He stood up and gently pulled her up to her feet.
“I will send you a message later this week with a place to meet and any instructions as needed. You can always say no, but you wont.”
Jack slowly pulled his hand away, flashed a little smile and walked away without another word. Helene was speechless.
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