Out of the Frying Pan, chapter 1 part 2


Photo by Alex CA from Pexels

Startled, Lena found herself standing in the middle of a mirror-like lake. The report of her only shot seemed so anticlimactic, as if it had disappeared before it left the gun. That single bullet would never have saved her, but her attackers were gone, as was the office … and the stench was worse than before, now more like rotting flesh than dust and fresh blood. The sun burned black in a night sky devoid of stars. In the distance her lake, which was only an inch deep where she stood, was lit by 12 pyres, each 144 feet high. She didn’t know how she knew that, but she did, from deep in her being.

The lake itself wasn’t water. It reminded her of mercury, but her movements made no waves. It stuck to her toes like an opaque chrome paint, as if she had mirror-plated her feet. If that weren’t strange enough, it had dissolved her shoes and stockings on contact, yet it left her skin untouched. Dazzled by the pyres, she couldn’t see past the surface of the lake, just reflections of the black sun in the black sky and herself. Still confused, she reached down and dipped her hand in. Like her feet, the liquid coated her fingers, dissolving the fine hair on the back of her hand. It was odourless, so the stench had to come from beyond the pyres.

She dabbed her finger on her tongue: no taste, or rather, it tasted like her … like her after a hard night with Ben, her ex-boyfriend, salty and sweet at the same time, like a light post-coital sweat. She couldn’t feel the silver dot on her tongue, yet she knew it was there, confirmed as she bent over to look at her reflection in the pool. Not thinking, she wiped her hand on her skirt, which dissolved as she touched it.

Stooping over, Lena dipped her hand in the water again. The floor of the pool was smooth and hard like glass. Her hand disappeared into the opaque liquid. It was warm, like blood.

Why that metaphor? It was the same temperature as her body, a slightly raised 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit, exactly.

How could I know that?

The liquid didn’t drip from her hand as she lifted it out. It was as if it became part of her.

At the centre of the pool, she felt safe, but she couldn’t stay there. Equidistant from all points on the shore, she estimated a half mile walk in any direction, provided that the pool was only an inch deep all the way. As there were no identifying features on the shore, she chose to walk towards the rising sun.

How could I know it was rising?

Gingerly, she stepped forward, not making the slightest disturbance in the liquid. Another step, then another. After a few more, she increased her pace, becoming confident.

Before she knew it, she had stepped off a ledge, stumbling into the pool. Swimming back to the platform, she hoisted herself back up and took stock. The gun was gone, her clothes were gone, and her hair. Somehow she knew that would grow back, eventually, but metallic. With a long lean athletic build, she had never had problems pulling the blokes, but now she was naked … and chrome. What would they make of her now? Instinctively, she had closed her eyes but had taken a mouthful of the liquid, so the inside of her mouth matched the rest. At least it hadn’t killed her.

Lena sat on the edge of a platform one molecule thick, in the centre of a bottomless lake. Both the platform and lake were perfect concentric circles, as the chrome liquid spread through her veins … Aba, that was what it was called … her awareness expanded. She had taken the Aba’s colouring inside and out, except for her eyes which had become as black as the sun.

Aba was her blood, her life … and she knew that she could even breathe it like air.

What have I become, and how did I get here?

“Hell-fire,” she repeated into the dead air. It was a word used often in sermons by her grandfather, an old-fashioned country parson. If you were bad, you were banished to Hell, to be consumed by Hell-fire. It seemed a strange choice of words to use in a moment of reckless abandon, seconds before certain death.

“Am I dead?” she asked aloud, but she already knew the answer. She felt more alive than she ever had. The Aba comforted her, or she might have gone crazy already. Aba’s post-coital taste overpowered the stench of rotten flesh that surrounded the lake, named Aba of course, and she would soon have to brave this strange world, naked and unprotected other than by her Aba skin.

Is this hell? Am I a bad person? Lena had played loose with her body, having gained a reputation for being an easy lay at university – she didn’t care – but she hadn’t done anything outrageously evil, no killing or stealing. Was living naked to be her punishment? Was this the second circle of Hell? A top student as well as an accomplished athlete, she had only taken a job at Transdex Holdings to pay the mortgage on her London flat until something more interesting came along. That was ten years ago, and she was still waiting.

“My name is Aba,” she said, as the liquid finished assimilating her body.

No, we were one all along, since the beginning of time.

That confused her. Her insatiable desire for sex had stemmed from her need to be like Aba – the smell, the taste – to be home. Where was home?

Hell-fire, or more accurately, Helfyre.



I wanted to be her.

I wanted to be twenty years younger, and I wanted to have what she had. Dying my hair blond (or whatever her latest color was) was the easy part, and I was fortunate to look vaguely like her … well, I didn’t quite have her breasts, and I was a couple of inches taller than she was. Implants were out of the question, but a little padding was easily obtained and served just as well … at least, until somebody tried to remove my dress.

That little black dress! She wore it on television – she looked fabulous in it. It looked very tiny on me, or maybe it felt tiny on me, like it was barely there – bare being the operative word.

I can sing, too. Unfortunately, I’m hopelessly an alto. I could never hit those high notes. I won’t be a tribute singer. Besides, I’m really much better playing my French Horn. That’s not to say I couldn’t sing, but that wouldn’t be my strength. Singing won’t get me where she is.

I sent her an email a few weeks ago. I didn’t hear anything back – wasn’t expecting to. She probably doesn’t tweet her tweets or post on her Facebook account. Some lackey probably does that for her. I don’t know why I did it. When it comes to her, I just lose all sense of reality.

I heard she was coming to town – a night that I wasn’t playing a gig myself. I could go, but I would look a little strange on my own – not quite a grandmother to the rest of her audience, but not far off. Some of my contemporaries are grandmothers. That’s something I’ll never be. No children, no husband, not even an ex- or two. She has an ex- already – and children. She will be a grandmother by the time she is my age. I was pregnant once, but nothing came of it. Yes, I’ve had a steady stream of ex-boyfriends, few of whom I’m still in contact with. That’s me; a breakup is irreparable. My ex-boyfriends are off limits, bad blood. I once tried to stay in touch, but that only strung him along. He didn’t want to break up, but I knew it was going nowhere. The second breakup was worse – for both of us. I can’t stand to be near him now – as much as I can’t stand to be apart from him.

I digress …

Well … maybe I’m not done digressing. I’ve had more boyfriends than she’s had. She’ll divorce hubby number two, and there will be a custody battle – and it will cost her a fortune – a fortune for me, pennies for her. I’ve probably slept with more men than she has, but I can’t know how many she’s slept with in her rise to the top. I do have more years of experience, though – more chances for discards. I can’t seem to stay with anyone for more than 18 months or so – then I have about 6 months off before I hit the fray again.

Ever since she hit the big time, I’ve followed her every move, in spite of the fact I wasn’t that fond of her first album. It was too poppy-country for me; more suitable for teenage girls just hitting puberty. She was little more than that herself at the time. There was just something about her that obsessed me – yes, I was obsessed with her even before I liked her music. It made me question my sexuality – for a few minutes, anyway. I’m definitely sapiosexual – that’s being attracted to smart people. I just heard the term used on the radio, and thought it described me up to a certain point. I’m attracted to smart people, especially if they are male. She’s definitely not that smart, so it doesn’t explain my instant obsession.

When her second album of sensually throbbing electronica was released, I was hooked. I heard the first single, Take Me Down (at the Old Ball Game), from it on American Idol with my beau of the time, and it instigated the most incredible night of sex of my life. I still get horny whenever I hear it.

Her third album debuted with short black hair and that little black dress. It was one of those unplugged albums, paring back everything to its rawest purest form (including her clothing). I had to have that dress, and I cut and dyed my hair. It wasn’t long before someone was removing what little there was of that dress and ravishing me. It’s still my lucky dress, even after I followed my obsession back to being blond. (I’m really a redhead – or probably a greyhead, if truth be told.)

My favorite album, her fourth, was universally panned. She returned to that sensual electonica that I so loved on her second album. I played it at least 3 times a day for months. I loved the beat, her cheeky lyrics, and the video to Love Me (with Bloodshot Eyes) was hypnotic. I used to watch it on repeat when I went to bed (alone) at night.

Her latest album is probably my least favorite, but it has put her back on the top of the charts. It’s a mix of the soupy country ballads that made her a star in the first place, mixed with a plethora of bubbly pop that’s almost palatable. Because it was her, I still bought it. There was one song that was never released as a single that made it worth my dime, Riding Bareback. The juxtaposition with the unplugged bonus track (Commando) from her second album, gave it additional resonance.

You’ve probably noticed that I have avoided mentioning her name, but you all know who it is. (You must!) Unfortunately, a restraining order prohibits me from naming her in my online posts.

Of course, there was one other attraction to the newest album – the artwork: short red hair, red dress. Hence, I’m back to my natural color, and wearing that minimalist red dress turns heads when I take it out for a spin in public. I usually just keep it for myself at home in the evenings, so I don’t have to worry how much of me I’m showing off. (It also keeps me from getting arrested for solicitation, which is definitely not what I’m doing!)

What do you think? Should I wear it to her concert? Or should I look retro in the little black dress? You didn’t think I was serious when I suggested I wouldn’t go? I wouldn’t miss it, even if I have to wear a wig and dark glasses.

Ooh, how time flies. Tickets go on sale in a few minutes.

That’ll be me in the front row.

More Late Nights with Ezzie Dryar (27. Running on Empty)

I went out for fun … um, a run this morning. My email inbox has slowed to a crawl. It seems I have few friends left. Christa made it home safely. Jem’s dealing with a blizzard on the range, and Allen still isn’t talking to me. Nothing juicy to keep me in the house. Anyway, on my run I met someone who could keep up with me. I haven’t been out much, but I’ve always been pretty easy … err, fast (for my age). Her name is Janine, and she’s not from around here either, although not from as far away as I am. She’s from near Cleveland, my mum’s hometown. She’s a typical …

PRINCESS of CUPS. Gracious, sweet, voluptuous, dreamy, kind. Auburn hair, blue eyes, pale.

Maybe not so voluptuous, since she’s an avid runner. It has a habit of inhibiting the hormones. She turned a corner as I was passing out … just passing, and she stayed with me for about a half mile, so I had to break the ice. To form, I asked her something stupid, like, “Do you come easily?” I meant to ask, “Do you run here often?” I hadn’t seen her on my previous runs.

Before I could correct myself, she was on her back on some stranger’s footlong … um, front lawn, laughing until she cried, giving me a much needed kick in the arse … err, chance to catch my breath. Anyway, we chatted for the next half mile, until I stopped in front of my house, and invited her in. It was kind of embarrassing, as without Christa around, I had no reason to clean up that morning. At least, it was only a single day’s mess.

It transpired that she had just moved in on the next street over, and worked in arts management. Not with the Symphony, fortunately, but with the Ballet. She’d seen me play with the Symphony on a couple of occasions, and had played horn at Indiana University, before changing majors. She’d gone to the Strauss last Friday. She’s invited me over for dinner tomorrow night. That will be nice. I had an evening concert in the ‘burbs tonight, so we couldn’t do it then.

She seems to have great haste … taste and complete … complex … contemptible … ugh … compatible interests, so it should be a good whine … time.

I think I’m getting tired, as I didn’t spray … weep … slur … uh, whatever … last night. Must get ahead … wed … laid …

You know what I mean. Goodnight.

More Late Nights with Ezzie Dryar (2. Powering Down)

It’s nearly 4 am. We had a thunderstorm around midnight that knocked out our power, and only now has the electricity returned. My luck … uh, battery ran out around 2 am, so I’ve been burning in hell … err, huddling next to the fire for two hours waiting to post my blog tonight. St Louis can be rather cold in October.

Nights like tonight, I wonder if my life is ruled by my tarot deck. Tonight’s draw was:

10 of Disks: POWER. (inverted) It usually means prosperity, but inverted it can mean insecurity, a mild loss, or heaviness.

Tonight it had little to do with electricity. Max – that’s my trumpet player’s name – sent me an email asking me if I wanted to chat on the internet. I’ve always avoided it, because you never know what it might lead to. In my weakness I gave in.

It wasn’t I who was the wielder of flower … power tonight.

One poorly timed stammer, and I found myself trading places … um, glances … err, sexual innuendos with him. I think that was what he anticipated, so it wasn’t long before I found myself staring at my webcam touching my naked self for his benefit, something he refused to reciprocate – video, yes, but his clothing stayed on. (He claimed his wife was sleeping in the next room.)


I would swear I heard someone with him when I climaxed. (I knew he was just faking it, and no, I didn’t know he was married – the prick.) At that point I was too far into it to care.

Now is another story. I’m certain he decorated … decoded … um … recorded it, and I’m certain he plans to use it against me. (If you followed me in the past, you already know how insecure and depraved I am.)

My weakness last night has translated into complete idiocy tonight. Can’t wait for tomorrow.