By Cindy and Walt
There was no way to break even with art, even if I took chances with the studio. The chances would be any self promotion on the Internet. Mid level Drug organizations didn’t have the continuity of management necessary to hold a grudge. If the number one distributor in Columbia wanted someone dead, they probably died. Whether it took a year or a decade.
That wouldn’t hold true for a mid level manager. If he wanted someone dead, but couldn’t find them for a year or two, he would either be dead himself or lost interest. That is unless the person of interest was presented to him on a plate. That plate being the Internet.
So I intended to restrict my business involvement on the net to an absolute minimum. The Internet was necessary to move money from one venture to another. Increasing my wealth was pretty much impossible, since I was no longer out there searching for mischief.
That is not to say that the locals didn’t think I sold my drawing for huge sums on the Internet. I had a website where I could send the curious. It came complete with a picture of the two old men fishing as the home page. After them came pages of way over priced drawings. Some were of my stray dog from Farmer’s Grove and some were pictures of the Alabama River. I knew that mixing the two would be dangerous, but I took the chance that on the vast Internet, people from Farmer’s Grove wouldn’t see a website dedicated to art.
I also counted on people in Mossberg just blindly accepting that I made enough money on my drawing to maintain my modest life style. Being a success to me was staying completely unknown.
In the spirit of that I settled into the local lifestyle. Of course with the buzz cut everyone assumed I was a lesbian. I didn’t mind that so much. I would love to have been just plain Iris Martin rather then ‘that lesbian chick’. I wondered if one was still called a chick at thirty. That was what I would be soon, since I had a birthday on the horizon.
I spent the month of November doing little things to my townhouse/studio. To do that I really needed my truck, but I just never got around to replacing it. I found that I was quite happy doing my shopping within a twenty mile radius, or doing it by mail, UPS, or FedEx. The Internet made my life so much easier.
I went to Mobile once to do a little shopping. I admit to getting a little drunk and crazy. I spent the night in a downtown motel, then rode home the next day. It was all planned to work out just as it did.
The one thing I had to do was avoid self aggrandizement. I didn’t post my picture on the website and I avoided all social media sites like the plague. I just lived life as much as possible in the old ways.
It was Miss Sadie who got me into the social circle called the Grange. The Grange was the community center of rural America, even in those days. Miss Sadie pestered me till I finally let her son and his wife drag me along to the Grange’s Thanksgiving dance. The year old Ford truck with front and rear seats as well as a full sized bed arrived at exactly 7 PM. I was warned not to eat dinner that night. The Grange’ motto seemed to be ‘come hungry’.
Miss Sadie’s son introduced himself, but I got only Frank. The Alabama accent was hard for me to understand. I was familiar with working with just a word or two of a sentence. It had been like that my first few months at Farmer’s Grove as well. It was like listening to a bad connection on the cell phone, one that broadcast only a word or two with static in between.
At the Grange hall things began with a meeting. The discussion was about family farm’s production expenses. I tuned them out when they spoke about farm management and a possible protest. There was a call for farmers to tow their tractors to the state capitol to protest the cost of gasoline.
I listened as long as I could then said, “I’m a stranger here, but I have roots here now, so I think I should voice my opinion. These days protests are all about media coverage. You will get more coverage, if the protests are more wide spread. If you do the protest for a day in Montgomery, the media coverage will be over in five minutes and it will be gone.”
“What are you saying don’t bother?” the speaker asked.
“Not at all, what I am saying is rethink your protest. Make it peaceful and make it raise awareness of the problem’s effect on ordinary people. You want to highlight the rising cost of agricultural production, then make it about the effect on the average person. Most of all make it sustainable. Something like a campaign based on ‘What if I weren’t here for you’. Since that is what you really have to sell. A person’s well being is his primary concern. Make it about them, not you.” With those words I sat down.
“Okay smart ass, how do we make it sustainable,” a young farmer asked.
“For one thing you don’t spend all you resources on a one day event, one whose media memory will be gone on Monday. Get yourself a catchy sound bite which you can ride to the end. Then branch out. Do lots of TV interviews, start a petition drive on the Internet. Keep your message out there, but make the protests a part of it. Get yourself media coverage for the small things, but always mention the bigger message every time.
Look it would cost you a couple of hundred bucks each to drive a tractor to Montgomery. That is money better spent at home. Send three tractors with big signs on them to block traffic in front of the State building. Get arrested so the media has to cover it. Make sure the media gets a chance to cover the protest before you do it. Make it a peaceful but positive statement. Provide the media with a clip to run with the story. In other words do their work for them. The media pukes love that stuff.”
“You have given us a lot to think about,” the visiting speaker said. “How about we all go have some food and music.”
There was long line of food set up on one end of the meeting room. I didn’t get in line first, or last. I went through and helped Miss Sadie with her plate first. Then I went back for my own plate. I stood by the end of the buffet to drink my iced tea and eat my food from the local farms. I also made a twenty dollar donation to the Grange’s budget.
“Miss Martin,” the speaker said as he approached me.
“I am,” I replied. “You sir have me at a disadvantage.” I know I sounded like Scarlet O’Hara. I even felt bad about it.
“Jim Abraham,” he said. “I have a proposition for you.”
“Oh really, and what would that be?” I asked.
“They say you make beautiful and haunting drawings. Make a series of drawings based on the plight of modern farmers,” he suggested.
“I don’t know, it sounds time consuming and a bit pricey,” I suggested.
“Oh so your words were all just to rally the cannon fodder?” he asked.
“Touche,” I replied. “I’ll give it some thought that is all I promise.”
“You do that and I think your ‘What if I weren’t here for you” is a dynamite idea. Which is why I’m going to steal it, but I expect it will be stolen a few more times while it is hot.” He slipped a card into my hand then left.
“People are all talking about your ideas. The arrest on the capitol circle is brilliant. It’s all about the media coverage isn’t it?” Frank asked.
“Yes I think it’s always more about how things seem than how they really are. You need to put a face on your cause. Nothing better than a public arrest for some high profile misdemeanor,” I replied.
My fifteen minutes of local fame was over by the end of the next day. Traffic in my studio picked up. I didn’t sell much. I did sell one pen and ink drawing of the stray dog sniffing road kill. It was to a visitor to the community. I did not have a good feeling about her, even as I took her money.
The weekend past and all was forgotten, or so I thought. I sat at my drawing table which was no more than a plywood table top on hinges. It was a new table but due to a design flaw it had no way to hold the top at an angle. I had to prop the top open with two soup cans. Both of the cans were full as a matter of fact.
I worked at that table on a drawing of a beautiful little girl with terrible teeth. I saw her one day in the park and shot a couple of pictures of her. With nothing to do that particular Tuesday morning, I worked on her image. It wasn’t an image that would be popular, but maybe someone would find a spot in their heart that it touched.
Since it wasn’t very detailed it would be just a throw away image to fill my display room. I was shading the left side of her drawing because at the time it was made it had been late afternoon and she stood in a strong sidelight. I chose it because the contrast was striking.
When the door opened I saw a young woman dressed way too nice to be roaming around rural Alabama. “Something I can do for you?” I asked.
“I hope so Iris,” she said extending her hand. “I’m Amy Westfall.”
“So Miss Westfall, what can I do for you?” I asked.
“Maybe we can do something for each other,” she said.
“I suppose I should I get out the lube, since I feel like I’m about to get screwed,” I said with a laugh.
“Oh no, I’m with the government and I’m here to help you ma’am,” she said with a smile.
“Now I know I’m going to get screwed,” I said.
“I’m glad I’m not going to have to sugar coat things for you,” she said with a little less honey in her voice.
“So what is it you want?” I asked.
“I work for State Representative Jordan. Mr. Abraham is one of our political grass roots operative. He was very impressed with your speech. So Representative Jordan would like to meet with you.”
It all passed through my mind like a run away train. “Sorry, I’m apolitical,” I said.
“We could open some door for you,” she said.
I stood and walked to my front door then said, “I can only open one for you Miss Westfall. Thanks for the offer. Tell Mr. Jordan I’m not interested in whatever it is.”
After she left I began to wonder if it was time to move on. I surely hoped that would not be the case. I was so shaken I couldn’t go back to work. I went to the rear and rolled the trike from the new storage shed attached to the back wall of the old fish market. It was the perfect place for the trike. I dropped the small backpack with the battery and my camera into the rear basket of the trike.
The date was December the first and it was 55 degrees at noon. I would be going up almost another ten degrees, but I couldn’t wait I had to get away. I pulled on a slightly insulated nylon parka, then pulled the trike out of the alley. I rode to the end of Main Street, but turned left instead of right.
The country road I traveled ran more or less along the Alabama River. I had been out into the country surround Mossberg on photo expeditions previously, so I had an idea what was available along the road. I made several pictures of a man on a modern tractor breaking up the dirt in a field just off the road.
I found myself on a smaller country maintained road a few minutes later. There I saw a much older man running a much older tractor over a similar field. I stopped and run off a few images of him as well. When I came to the dirt road leading back to his farm, I pulled into it and then carefully rode down it.
At the end of the road I came to what had once been the family home. I had no doubt about it because it looked like an old farm house which was rotting away. It was also most likely termite infested. In any case it was crumbling. I got off the trike and knocked on the door of the house trailer that sat behind the house.
“Yes?” the middle aged woman in a housecoat at 1 PM asked.
“Hello, my name is Iris. I was wondering if I could make some picture of your old home place over there?” I asked.
“Okay, but it’s not safe to walk inside. If you get hurt, we ain’t got no insurance,” she informed me.
“I understand and I’ll be careful,” I said. First I shot the house from every possible angle. Then I shot a few pieces of furniture inside the house. It had been left to rot it seemed. I stumbled across a few small artifacts and shot those as well, once where they lay and once in a window which was far from plumb. I used that window to frame several old jars and broken tools. When I left the old home place, I waved at the women standing on the deck of the mobile home.
I had a few images that would probably make good prints, but nothing I was crazy about. Then again I hadn’t been crazy about the dog and road kill which I had sold either. I decided that I had time to stop for dinner before calling it a day. I knew there was nothing between me and Mossberg except the Diary Queen. I didn’t mind having a big burger from the DQ, so I pulled into the parking lot.
I got my food then moved to a table by the window so that I could watch my trike. I was taking my first bite of the burger when one of the young women in a Dairy Queen uniform stopped to talk.
“Could I ask a favor of you?”
“Depends on the favor,” I said smiling.
“I’m getting married on Sunday,” she continued.
“Congratulations,” I said.
“Thank you.” she replied. “The people around here, who have been in your shop, say you make great drawings. They also say you do great photography.”
“I’m not a photographer,” I looked on her name tag and added, “Lisa.”
“I honest to god wouldn’t ask, but my dad lives in Florida. He can’t come to the wedding, so I want to send him pictures. I just don’t trust my friends to take it seriously,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of money, but I will pay you something.”
I gave it some quick thought, then decided. “I’ll tell you what. Come by the studio and I’ll have a standard release for you to sign. You sign it and give me a dollar then I’ll give you two hours coverage and share the digital files. I warn you I am going to make a drawing from at least one of those pictures. I probably will have one of them it hanging on the wall someday.”
“That would be great,” she said.
I rode the trike home than parked it in the shed that my carpenter had built for it. The trailer was sitting on its end at the rear of the shed. I locked the shed after I removed the battery from the trike. Those damn batteries cost more than the motor or trike. If I hadn’t been on the road, I never would have bought them.
I took a look at the online calendar, then added a reminder. It would pop up on the day before the wedding, then again early on Lisa’s wedding day. It was scheduled for four days down the road. I expected her to show up in a couple of days.
What I didn’t expect was the doorbell ringing at 8 PM. It was Lisa still in her uniform. She was standing at the front door smoking a cigarette. I went down to meet her.
“I wasn’t expecting you tonight,” I said.
“I wanted to make sure you didn’t change your mind,” she said.
“Okay, let me find a release form, and write some kind of contract,” I said. The model release was a standard form so that wasn’t a problem. After she signed it, I wrote a contract in long hand and we both signed it. “So I’ll be at the church at 5:30 Sunday. I’ll stay till 7:30 then I’m gonna be off like a prom dress,” I said in my best butch voice. The town folks thought I was a super dyke, so I played along.
Lisa was just about thirty pounds over weight. It gave her the illusion of large boobs and a generally soft appearance. Her butt was a little too large for even her oversize chest. I figured she would make a pretty good pen and ink mode.
“Could I ask you something personal?” she said.
“Sure why not,” I said.
“Are you really a lesbian,” she asked.
I couldn’t help it, I laughed. She was the first person to ask to my face. Something about it struck me hilarious. “Honey I like sex. Sex with women or sex with men. It’s all the same with me.”
“I have never done it,” she said. “You know sex with a woman. I wonder if I am missing something.”
“Well I never had sex with a pony. I don’t really want to know what I’m missing,” I said smiling.
“I don’t get it,” she said.
“When you and your boyfriend have sex, you two do have sex, right?” I asked. She nodded. “Okay then do you have orgasms?”
“Most of the time sure,” she said.
“An orgasm is an orgasm is an orgasm,” I said.
“So you are saying I’m not missing anything, as long as I’m getting it from Arther?” she asked.
“If he satisfies you then you won’t find sex with a woman any more satisfying,” I replied.
“I was kind of hoping you would ask me to have sex with you as payment for the wedding,” she said looking away from me.
“Is that what you want?” I asked her in return.
“Yes,” she said.
“You probably need to take a day or so and think this over,” I said.
“I don’t want to think it over,” she suggested.
“Then come with me,” I said.
When we got to the apartment above the studio, I said, “I am not going to turn on any lights, so it will appear we are still in the studio. I would prefer not to get shot by your fiancée.”
“Good, no offense but I would rather no one knew,” she agreed.
I decided she wanted to be dominated, so I thought it was a good time to try a change in my own position. I pushed her against the wall that had no windows. I began to kiss her passionately. Of course she kissed me in return. I turned her around facing away from me. I wrapped my arms around her with a hand covering each of her large soft breasts. I kissed her neck and whispered in her ear. “This is why you came isn’t it?” I asked.
“God yes, you know it is,” she said.
I slipped my hands under the uniform top and pushed her bra up so that her breasts were accessible. I covered them again with my hands and began to kiss her neck. She was gasping for air even before I isolated her nipple. I squeezed and pulled on her nipples as I continued to kiss her neck.
I could feel her butt pressing back against me. She was responding to me as she would to a man. I found that interesting. I pushed my hand over her prominent belly and into the elastic waste band. As I slipped my hand down farther, I felt her pubic hair. My own pubic hair was soft and supple. Lisa’s hair was stiff almost like small but stiff bristles. I continue on till my finger separated the sides of her protective hood. She gasped at my touch. I could tell she was lubricating herself for the penis that wasn’t coming.
She suddenly turned to face me and began to kiss me. She was way past asking me to stop. She was more likely to ask me not to stop than to stop.
I maneuvered her to the sofa bed. Ordinarily I would have knelt between her legs and begin making love to her. I convinced myself that she wanted to be forced. If I was right she would respond to being forced to kiss my vagina. I had been coerced enough to know how to do it. I removed my jeans while standing in front of the sofa bed.
Once I was naked from the waist down, I seated myself on the bed. I reached up and kissed her while putting pressure on her shoulders. It took only a second to get her to her knees. Once she was down she immediately went to my clit. She opened the hood and began to lick it up and down then side to side. It was the motion that a woman knows best. We knew what felt the best and didn’t hesitate to make it happen. I had an orgasm from her mouth on me. I lifted her up then traded places with her. I licked and sucked her until I felt her stiffen over and over again.
At one point I had my finger in her butt and my mouth sucking on her vulva. Her loose fleshy lips filled my mouth. After several minutes she filled my mouth with lubricant. I pulled back at that point to let her calm down.
“Holy shit,” she said. “No one has ever made me feel like that.”
“You may have never done that, but you should have. You really do it well,” I said.
“God Iris, no man has ever eaten my pussy that well,” she said.
“Well honey we not only know where the buttons are, we know when to push each one,” I said.
I reached over and fingered her while we spoke. “I don’t really want to do it again, but I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. When I saw you come in, I knew I was going to let you fuck me.”
“Well it was beautiful for sure. You know your car has been out front for a while. You probably should move it before someone guesses,” I said.
“You don’t want me to stay?” she asked.
“Of course I do. It just wouldn’t be a good idea,” I said. Actually I wanted her to leave. I was already tired of her. I also didn’t need the grief a pissed off boyfriend could bring down on me.