Premiered – 1 May 2004 (Beltane)
(July 16 th )
Karen was an attractive lady, but not by standards of appearance alone. She did have a classic face and a lithe body, but was not the well-endowed, objective beauty which might attract men from across the room. Those who did approach, however, would quickly find an engaging, charming female, with a natural, unselfconscious sensuality, and a personality with a magnetic warmth. She also had a joyous quality and a delight in life which was positively contagious. In effect, it was all in her head. And the men loved it.
Including Herman. As Karen smiled and ushered him into the luxurious apartment, he could not help but feel the warmth and delight of simply being in her presence. There was no hint of any expectation on his part or that of a tease on hers, but simply a pleasant experience of sharing a common space. Karen was simply nice to be around.
But Herman was also intimately aware that Karen was not the main attraction, that her mistress would carry Karen's attractive assets to even greater extremes. In addition, April Ikaria had the beauty of face and form that poets have so long strived to put into words (and failed). The combination was irresistible. Karen was merely the warm up. A very nice warm up, but the kind one marries after having an affair with the main event!
Herman could easily picture April in his mind, her honeyed golden hair caressing her soft shoulders and framing her sparkling eyes, eyes which seemed to have a thousand stars happily shining from within. If one could ever take their attention away from those wondrous eyes, they would delightfully find a graceful, sensual body with beautiful breasts and perfectly rounded hips. Encompassing it all was an irresistible charm and a laughing voice that angels routinely used as their standard of excellence. It was perhaps her laugh, more than anything else, which she used so expertly to bewitch the male of the species.
Herman knew her laugh all too well. Merely thinking about it made him weak in the knees and ready for a casual meltdown.
As Karen left him alone in the living room, Herman looked around, noting where the rose colored couch and upholstered chair were, as well as other soft places in the event of his suddenly seeing the floor "up close and personal". Herman had been in April's apartments many times before, and thus he was very familiar with the possibilities -- not to mention, the inevitabilities. Herman was still standing, when she walked into the room. He looked up to see April's radiant, all-encompassing smile, even as she stopped to gaze back at him.
It was love at first sight! Actually love at four hundred and thirty-fourth sight, that being the approximate number of times that Herman and April had met each other after being away for a space of time of more than approximately twelve hours. Interestingly, it had always been love at fill-in-the-number sight. To say that there existed a "chemistry" between them was equivalent to noting that drinking boiling hot, hydrosulphuric acid might cause a burning sensation in one's throat. Herman and April definitely had a "thing".
Part of their relationship derived from April's manner of attending to another person, be they man or woman. She would focus her total attention on them intently, as if they were the most fascinating and beautiful person she'd ever known. Herman would respond by throwing himself totally into their mutually intense emotional embrace. His complexity and focused creativity, she inevitably found intoxicating. Thus they formed that magical, ultra-emotional experience whereby two people give in totally to their desire to know and be known. Briefly stated, the sexuality between them was intense -- even when they weren't in tents. After which, they could walk away, letting "there be spaces in their togetherness." For these lovers had that rare ability to both share in the here-and-now intensity of their desires and then honor their mutual hesitation toward long term commitment.
After several moments of deep breathing, the two came together in the middle of the room, gently and for all appearances, quite properly. At first, they merely held hands as they smiled into one another's eyes. Then they embraced.
And I mean: Embraced! Not one of those yucky embraces so often encountered on leaving church after a boring sermon -- when the joy everyone feels at being delivered from terminal boredom causes them to throw caution to the winds and actually put their arms around other people. The embrace between April and Herman was one of those full-bodied embraces, where without seeming effort, the absolute maximum amount of either person's body was placed in direct contact with as much of the other person's body as physiologically possible. Their clothes remained intact, of course, but frankly it was virtually impossible to notice their presence considering the amount of warmth flowing in both directions at once. (Keep in mind that love and desire regularly violates a variety of physical laws, including the one-way direction of heat flow, i.e. from hot to cold.)
After they slowly stepped back from their embrace, equivalent to twenty eight average hugs and three hundred and fifty two after-church hugs, they smiled again, delighting in each other's presence. Herman knew immediately he would not be leaving the apartment without some exceptional love making, but he also knew that procrastination often provided even greater intensity. (In fact, this may be the only situation where procrastination can be glorious, but the exception is so exceptional that many scholars have advocated the utter elimination of the concept of procrastination from being anything but delightful. The bulk of scholars being what they are, of course, they have never settled the question conclusively.)
As April and Herman moved to sit on the couch -- their unspoken contract to make this last as long as possible already established -- April kept physical contact with her lover. Even as they sat down, her arms, hands, hips, etc., continually brushed equivalent parts of his body as if oblivious to their effects on his manliness. April, of course, was well aware of her effect on men, not to mention being completely confident of it. That was the way April was. And she loved it! As did more than any one man.
Herman was still having trouble breathing, so it fell upon April to initiate their conversation.
"It's been a long time, Herbie."
Herman groaned slightly, somewhat relieved at the break in his intensity of feeling. "I'm not sure your nickname for me is one of my favorite things."
April smiled, "I've never felt the diminutive of your name was a problem. It's not as if you've ever had any difficulty demonstrating your manhood."
Herman smiled, wondering how any male, other than a eunuch or two, could ever have trouble with April. If nothing else, she'd probably use psychokinesis to move objects with her mind -- so to speak.
"My only regret," April added, "is that it's just been so long."
Herman briefly considered the alternative interpretation of her statement, decided that such an interpretation would never have caused regrets with April, and quickly fell back upon the more obvious interpretation. He smiled in agreement, "It's hard to imagine that you've ever been at a loss for men."
Some people might have found Herman's comment vaguely insulting. April didn't. "I've never been at a loss. But some men are more special than others. Especially, one who is so fascinating and intriguing!" April smiled, while Herman mentally preened himself. "Not to mention one with whom I've shared a child. A child of the new order, I might add. One of which both of us can be very proud."
Herman grimaced slightly. "I'm not sure I'm all that proud of my offspring."
April smiled, thinking of some of Herman's other children. "I don't wonder. But our little Herbie has been a real joy to his mother. And still is!"
Herman sat for a moment wondering if April might indeed be right. Then she began to caress his fingers gently. As his tactile sense began a mini-rendition of "Ode to Joy" (the music without the full chorus), he agreed that if April thought their son was a success, then quite clearly "little Herbie" was a success. An enormous one! Stupendous in fact!
Herman sighed slightly as he sensed April's power to accomplish all manner of things with anyone so bold and reckless as to be male in her presence. This woman could handle any man! Any time! Any where!
'Including,' Herman suddenly thought, 'Zak!' Just before April was ready to do a bit more than kiss his fingers (Herman knew the drill and doubted that he could resist that!), he said, "I've always appreciated your... experiences with men – especially powerful men."
April smiled in a demure fashion -- something of a new concept for her. "I'm not as experienced as you might think," she replied.
"Perhaps not," Herman said. "But what with your being such good friends with Zak..."
April registered immediate surprise. "Zak and me!?" When Herman acknowledged that he assumed it was at least a possibility, April said with certainty, "No way! I never wanted him! He'd have been a lousy lover!"
"Really!? I thought power was an aphrodisiac!"
"Oh, it is! But it only gets you started. It doesn't necessarily last." April seemed to be the resident expert such that Herman hardly thought to contradict her. "As for Zak... Well, I can't say for sure, but I doubt that he'd be any good in bed. Usually such men are not. They tend to be totally insensitive to the female and control oriented to the point of not being able to feel anything. And without a total emotional commitment, there's really nothing to talk about." Then she added, "Making love is dropping all pretenses at control. Otherwise, it's just sex. And sex without serious emotional involvement can be extremely boring."
Herman wondered how it was possible to have "boring" sex, but then figured that since he was always emotionally involved, he might never have experienced it.
"Actually," April added, as yet another thought intruded into her thinking, "Zak may now be in the process of learning how to truly make love.
"Ohhhh!?" Herman's response was brief but brilliant.
"He's teachable. And with the right woman..."
"Like who?" Herman's sense of the significant was carefully hidden by his apparent nonchalance of who might be teaching Zak something about anything.
"Who knows? But think about it! Who could teach Zak? It would have to be someone for whom he has a great deal of respect, someone whom he can't seem to leave alone. A woman who makes the idea of mating the best idea since making money. Otherwise, he'd just take a walk anytime he felt any hint of intimidation."
Herman watched April for a moment, as she leaned back and let her hand wander through his hair and around his ear. "You really know men, don't you?"
"I suppose," she replied. "They're such a fascinating breed. Offer them power, wealth, success, even wisdom, and they'll toss it all for a beautiful and passionate woman."
"I do seem to recall that a mutual friend of ours once gleefully pointed out that men would give up most anything for a good lay."
April smiled approvingly. "Such seems to be the wonder and delight of men: That deep down they know the power, beauty, glory and richness of sexual intimacy. Just the sort of thing to give one hope in the midst of all of man's other foibles."
Herman looked at April for several moments. Then he asked one of his more incredible questions (considering the moment). "Don't you ever grow old?"
Fortunately for Herman, April translated the question into 'You are still so incredibly beautiful! How is that?' Accordingly, she was able to easily answer. "Nowadays it's easy to stay young. Times are changing. More and more men can now see a woman in all of her glories, not just her sex. They can relate on a variety of levels, in the kind of intimacy not bounded by the genitals. It keeps one young, just savoring the possibilities!"
"I wonder," Herman began, hoping for just the right response, "If we sometimes had that kind of intimacy."
April laughed in her gentle, kidding fashion. "On occasion."
Herman returned her laugh. "Well, we certainly wouldn't want to be dulled into doing it all the time. We might become inseparable."
April smiled, her face cocked to give Herman a look of suspicion. "I doubt that a full time partnership with you would have been a fate worse than death. It might have been fun. And as it turns out, marriages of such total intimacy may now be coming into fashion. I may yet be convinced by way of example of the desirability of such a marriage."
"I've always thought of flexibility being the operative word,' Herman added. "Keeps one primed for change."
"Change does seem to always be with us."
Herman momentarily let his thoughts drift. "And when Zak begins to change, you have the truly phenomenal. Surely that bodes well for the permanency of having change."
April leaned toward Herman, her aura beginning to caress his own with a hundred colors. Her intensity flared, as in the personification of her words. "It's the return of the goddess, Herbie, when the feminine side of all creatures is given its just due." The words dropped to a whisper. "It's the feminine that nurtures not only mankind but the earth as well. And when combined with man's ability to focus and direct energies, the powers are truly wondrous!" Then her voice took the slightest tone of concern. "But without the nurturing, it's just rape -- whether of the woman or of the earth."
Herman let himself bask in the erotic electricity that now seemed to permeate the room. There was no immediate thought on his part to even think about replying.
"All the wonders of the feminine," April softly cooed, "intuition, receptivity to every form of understanding, the ability to generalize and see the whole picture... They're once again to be reverenced and brought to the fore."
Old tapes suddenly sprung to life, as Herman bantered, "Hey! I've always loved the feminine!"
April gently laughed, one hand caressing Herman's cheek -- one of the upper ones! "But would you want the feminine to be on the same level as the masculine?" It was, as they say, a loaded question. Herman hesitated. April clarified the question, but not to the extent that Herman was likely to be able to gain anything from the clarification. "Would you raise the whore to the level of the great Teacher?" When Herman continued to hesitate, April gave a final clue. "Did the Teacher himself not raise the "prostitute" to his level?"
Herman was not sure about anything, other than the fact that his thermostat had begun to melt. The conversation was now a musical composition, April's words seeming to pulse rhythmically amidst a floating rhapsody. There developed a spontaneity, an improvisation which gently lifted his spirit one moment, only to quickly strike a deep chord the next. Deep and moving, the words flowed back and forth weaving their own pattern, discovering their own unique energy and excitement.
A few of April's words, the ones that seemed to catch his attention at the time, Herman later recalled: "In the dawning world epoch, let us begin the sacrament of Eros, the physical sexuality whereby we give birth to a world anew, where we mix our substances and are thereby transformed."
Herman didn't have the slightest idea at the time what April was talking about, but he felt the well-being, the glow, the heightened energy, and the stimulation. The space around them took on a golden hue, music intensified, their fragrances became even more distinct, and the taste of each other's body all the more enhanced. An enchanted magic filled the air, as each felt the wonder of their being.
As she approached ever closer to him, her sexuality consuming him, Herman heard her tell him to relax and let go. Which he did, loving every minute of it. Or every hour!
Herman had fallen asleep, after what had been hours of consummate love making, expecting blissful dreams. Instead, he found himself walking again in the devastated forest of his most recent dream, ready to keep an appointment with an ax-wielding Gromar -- the black knight that had earlier used magic to best him in their duel. Herman sensed that a "year and a day" had now passed, he was again accompanied by his companion -- and neither of them had any inclination to merriment. They had not found the answer to their dilemma, to the question of what woman most wanted in the world. Or at least, an answer which sounding even remotely convincing. And thus, their return trip was bleak in the extreme. At the same time, it was unaccountably forced and commenced without any thought of possible evasion.
They had walked for many hours -- alternating between acting with blind courage and bemoaning Herman's apparent fate -- when they came upon the ugliest, most loathsome female that either had ever set eyes upon. Her face was red and splotched, highlighted by long, yellow teeth set between wide, weak lips. Her neck was thin and wrinkled, like a weed springing out of her swollen, misshapen body. The rags covering her frame served only to highlight her wrinkled, unsightly skin. One might have turned away immediately, but for her strained red eyes, which held within them the sight of great fear, suffering, and horror. It was mesmerizing just to see such ugliness.
The woman, however, was not shy. "You are the one who will die today!" When Herman hesitated, not really wanting to acknowledge his virtually certain future, the woman continued, "Unless you have learned the true answer." He and his companion knew that there was more than taunts or pleased expectancy on the part of the woman, and they silently waited for what she might say next. Then she smiled -- in a loathsome sort of way -- and said, "I will tell you the true answer, if your companion or one like him will be my husband this day."
Herman's only response was, "You're kidding!" The possibility was laughable.
But his companion was more generous and a great deal braver. "If you truly know the answer to our quest, I will marry you."
Before he could acknowledge his friend's potentially horrendous sacrifice Herman found himself before Gromar, telling the hulking monster and the female servant that they had initially attempted to rescue, what the ugly damsel had told them, that, "What women most desire is to have sovereignty with men." Abruptly the magical spell was broken and his life redeemed.
Just as quickly, Herman saw his companion's wedding with the least desirable bride ever wed. Friends pitied the groom's lot, while Herman felt only amazement at the extent of what one man would do for another. Mercifully, the wedding was quickly over, the celebration muted before its time, and the newlyweds left alone to their own devices.
In the bridal chamber, with Herman watching from a detached position, the bride turned and demanded a kiss from her new husband. The groom, chivalrous to the last, obliged her with a gentle but genuine kiss for a new bride. Whereupon in his arms the bride suddenly became unbelievable lovely, easily one of the most beautiful women any man had ever seen. In a lilting, melodious voice the bride explained to her husband, "You have freed me from my enchantment, but not completely. I must still be my hideous form for half the time. You, my husband, may choose whether I am beautiful by day, when your friends will see me, or by night, when we are alone in our chambers."
Herman's companion hardly hesitated. Feelingly, he replied, "I will leave the choice to you, and abide by your decision."
The bride's smile beamed all the more. "By giving me sovereignty, you have broken the enchantment completely. Henceforth, I will always be as you see me now."
Herman smiled, a rush of relief sweeping over him. The seeming nightmare had become the best of dreams. And all because of his companion, a man Herman found suddenly intriguing and worthy of respect.
Chapter Fifteen – Inmates and Outmates
Chapter Seventeen – Meanwhile, Back at the Campus
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]