Simple Mischief, Part 1

(by, 30 March 1998)

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Simple Mischief, part 1 of 2		

   The tender strains of Bach were soothing, and Amy wanted to be soothed right
   The most unsettling sort of thing had happened to Amy this afternoon. The
most unsettling person had happened to Amy, to be more precise- and Amy had
come to understand that preciseness was something on which she was going to
have to learn to rely upon in greater measure.
   She had yet to get any information on Angel. Tess MacLeod was working on
that, but as yet there was nothing to be known.
   Well, that wasn't the least bit true. There were things which had  to be
known, but they were mysteries as yet.
   Amy settled back into the Pier 1 rocker she'd bought and lit a Marlboro
Lights 100. She was tired. Talking to this woman who'd shown up unannounced on
her doorstep had been draining. There was something strange about her voice-
it was like swimming in the ocean on a cold day. A part of you just wanted to
give into that voice the way you sometimes felt like giving yourself over to
the water- if you were lucky and floated, so be it.
   She drew deeply on the cigarette.
   Angel was an attractive woman, the sort who pulled a cigarette from her small
black leather purse and was instantly surrounded by men and women offering a
light. But it was a dark beauty, one which wearied the viewer after a short
   She was quite the smoker, and therefore it was all the more odd that Amy had
disliked her instantly.
   Part of that had nothing to do with the woman, of course. It had to do with
her total loss of her anonymity. Perhaps that was her own fault. The path
she'd allowed herself to be taken down was causing problems. It had certainly
been a decisive factor in Langly taking that job in Florida. Which she was
glad of. It put him out of harm's way.
   That was an hard place to come to, thinking your lover was better off half a
country away from you. But that was exactly where Amy found herself. When
people you didn't know walked up to your door and told you how they knew what
it was you really  did, well, safety was no what it had been.
   There was something unique about Angel. She'd come to tell Amy that she was
very impressed her with her current body of work, and yet-
   And yet, there was nothing save displeasure in those blue eyes. As though she
was looking at someone who was kind to strays and despised her for that
gentleness. Yes, that was what it was. She saw a gentleness of purpose, a
desire to help rather than mold, and she found it nothing short of
   Was it ? Amy had always felt that she was soft- in a positive way.
   Angel struck her as the sort of woman who found no solace in softness.
   She was more than hard, however. She was clearly driven, by some purpose as
dark as her black Toyota Celica.
   Simply put, Amy was thoroughly creeped out.
   Angel lay on the motel bed, masturbating gently. It was a necessary
diversion. The Amy problem was not so simple as she had hoped, not so simple
at all.
   The masturbation was not mechanical in any sense. Although Angel was turning
Amy over in her mind, looking at her from every possible angle, she was not
pleasuring herself simply to fill some physical urge. That would be a waste-
even a pollution of purpose. No, it was done to open the mind to new
possibilities- with Amy there would be no precognitive flashes precisely
because she lived outside the puzzle.
   She had hoped it would be different. Having seen her- from the outside, from
a distance- she had simply assumed that she would be able to see inside her as
well. See her path. But there was nothing, and Angel disliked working on
instinct- already her instinct had let her down once today.
   Amy had not savoured her visit, not at all.
   Drawing deeply on her cigarette, Angel probed gently, her index finger
finding the perfect angle as she patiently aroused herself. There would be no
rushing this- there was no point, no need. Again and again she inhaled, held,
exhaled. Finally the cigarette was done as she was still short of her climax.
Without slowing, she used her free hand to extract a cigarette from the pack
and light it.
   Once she had it lit, she left it in her mouth and moved her other hand down,
down, until she had inserted the first two fingers inside of her, thrusting
them quickly, in and out, back and forth. The flesh of the fingers slowly
melded until she could almost believe that it was a penis. She drew on the
cigarette, pulling hard, holding and then releasing a nose exhale just as she
finally climaxed.
   In darkest moment of the orgasm, it became somehow clear to her what it was
that she must do, how it was that she might turn Amy towards a different, more
essential path. She saw clearly what had eluded her earlier, and that done,
she allowed herself to truly enjoy the orgasm in all its simplicity.
   When it finally ended, she wiped her hand clean and removed the cigarette
from her mouth, trimming the ash.
   Angel allowed herself the further luxury of relaxation. Having a coherent
path was a great relaxant. She wasn't sure what had made her think she would
simply walk up to Amy and have her way- arrogance born of previous successes,
perhaps. But that had been wiped away, replaced as always by the sense of
purpose which drove her.
   She opened her diary and began writing in it with her left hand while
continuing to smoke with her right.
   This was the way it was meant to be. Direction. Implementation.
   Time was too essential for intuitive process. Angel drew hard on the
cigarette, making it hiss. Perhaps Amy was doing the same right now, thinking
troubled thoughts about her unexpected visitor. That was the way it should be.
Angel knew she had made her course more difficult by going to see the woman
unprepared for rejection, but if nothing else, she had planted the seed-
   Seeds of impurity, seeds of lies and half-truths. If freedom was truly as
dark a thing as Angel believed it to be, she'd pushed Amy one or two steps
closer to it today with her opening remarks. Like an orator, Angel had not
expended her best material, not this early in what might be a long project.
   Angel focused on the pain, the only thing that was real, allowing it to seep
through her like the toxin it was.
   As always, it felt excellent.

   When the phone rang, Amy had the strangest premonition- something she most
certainly did not believe in.
   It was him. 
   "Agent Pondress."
   As if anyone else would answer her phone. His voice, gravel as always,
scratched its way across fiber optics.
   "You've made a very- dangerous association today."
   "What do you do, live across the street ?"
   "This isn't the time for levity. I take a considerable risk-"
   "Every time you call me, speak to me, pass me information via courier. I know
the drill- even if I don't know your name."
   "You don't need my name, but you are in need of my advice."
   "Then advise."
   There was a pause, as if he wasn't exactly sure how to phrase what he had to
   "That woman. She isn't here to help you."
   "I didn't get the impression that she was," Amy said, drawing angrily on her
cigarette. "The fact is, I got the impression she was here to do everything
but help me."
   "Good. Then we understand each other."
   And just like that, he was gone. The line went dead for a second or two and
then there was the dull hum of a dial tone.
   As always, Amy tried her best not to hate him.

   "I can't believe that I'm doing this," Wendi said, looking at Charisma with
wide green eyes.
   Charisma was having trouble not laughing, which was decidedly cruel. She
wanted Wendi to light that cigarette after all, had brought her to this bar
and paid for her drinks precisely to get her to a point where she would
willingly smoke for the first time in her life. But she did look strange,
sitting there on the bar stool with an unlit cigarette hanging from her mouth,
its long white length not precisely at home there.
   She forced herself to maintain a straight face.
   "It's no big deal, Wendi."
   Her friend smiled, nearly squeezing the cigarette from between her lips.
   "You brought me here and got me drunk for the sole reason of getting me to
smoke," she said, the cigarette bouncing madly as she spoke. It was not a good
look. Better she light the cigarette and be done with it.
   "Why ?"
   It was a good question. The one which Charisma had asked herself so many
times. They'd known each other since senior year of high school, one of those
fluke things were her mother's job had forced them to move when just as she
was starting to find a niche in her old school. Wendi and Charisma had hit it
off immediately- partly because they were both trying to get into URI and
partly because they both developed crushes on Giles Farmington, who ended up
blowing both of them off for Chrissy Lane.
   Was it important to her that Wendi started smoking ?
   Hell yes.
   But why ? What fueled her motivation ?
   The truth was not that she didn't know. Revenge was at the root of it, and
Wendi's desire for it was the only thing which made her vunerable.
   "I can't do it," Wendi said, the anguish on her face clear. "I have a big
race coming up on Sunday and-"
   "You're in good enough shape to run it. Relax, Wendi."
   "I can't relax. If I could, I'd be a smoker like you. My whole problem is
that I'm such a total type A."
   "Plenty of type A's smoke, dear girl."
   But Wendi began moving the cigarette away from her mouth.

   Angel was scanning. She intended to go home with a certain someone tonight,
somebody's husband, some man left vulnerable by conflicted emotions. She had
more than an idea who it was she was looking for, but she had yet to see him,
and she wasn't sure how she knew he would come here, but he would, like a
protective father. In the meantime, another scene was unfolding at the bar
which certainly merited her full attention.
   She snatched her beer up from the table and moved quickly. The woman's
resolve hadn't just faded- it had fled. Angel extended herself and understood.
She was sobering ever so slightly, and her natural urge to repress had stepped
forward with what she mistakenly viewed as her reason.
   Certainly Angel knew how best to change that.
   Stepping forward, she fixed her attention on the cigarette first, and then
the woman's face.
   "Do you need a light for that ?" she asked pleasantly. Then she brought her
own cigarette to her mouth and pulled hard, the smoke sliding deep into her
lungs. She turned her head artfully away and exhaled, the smoke sweet as it
carried first away from her, and then against all logic, toward Wendi.
   "I wasn't actually going to smoke this," she said, holding the cigarette up
between her first two fingers as though it might be some sort of exotic
   Charisma rolled her eyes, and they then met Angel's. She asked- no pleaded-
for help in this matter.
   As though there was any chance that Angel wasn't here to provide just that.
   "What a shame. You'd make a very attractive smoker, after all.
   Angel managed to say this without it sounding in any way like a come on.
   "Really ?" Wendi asked, her voice rising in pitch to indicate that Angel's
flattery had hit its assigned mark.
   "Yes. I saw you take that unlit cigarette from your mouth and assumed that
you were merely missing a light. You certainly looked as though you were
intending to smoke it."
   "Well, I was. But now I'm not- oh fuck, I don't know what I want to do. But
you wouldn't understand."
   Although Angel knew precisely what Wendi was thinking, she merely drew on her
cigarette and asked the question as she exhaled.
   "Why wouldn't I ?"
   "Because you look like you always know what you want to do."
   Well, there was no denying that. Still, there was a perfectly reasonable
   "I didn't always smoke. There was a time when I was just like you, hoping to
be pushed over the edge."
   Wendi shook her head. "That's just it. I don't think I want to be pushed over
the edge. I just want to go home, do some light reading, and crash."
   Angel turned to Charisma and flashed her a quick smile which communicated how
this would come to work out. Although she didn't know why, Charisma felt
immediate relief.
   It was a very pleasant feeling. 
   "That's not really true. You wouldn't have come here and let Charisma buy you
drinks if you weren't interested in what she was offering you tonight. Better
to be honest about it, you know."
   Clearly, Angel had struck a live nerve. The curiosity this woman felt about
smoking swam in her eyes like a shark, bright, unyielding, singular of
purpose. It was the harbinger of corruption, Angel's closest friend. 
   "All right, so I'm interested. But that doesn't mean-"
   Angel's exhale carried over her again, and Wendi had to admit- if only to
herself- that it was pretty damn pleasing a thing. There was a simple,
understated grace to the way the smoke exhumed itself from her pale pink lips.
   I love the pain.
   Wendi believed the thought was her own, and for all practical purposes it
   She'd let Charisma bring her to this point for a reason. Because she wanted
to do something new, something different, something intentionally hurtful. Not
to herself. Not to Charisma.
   To him.
   He was here. They'd come here because they knew he'd be here, knew that he
would surface at some point and when that happened, Wendi wanted just one
thing. The look she knew would be on his face when she saw him, lit cigarette
in her hand, smoke flowing from her mouth- hopefully half as sensuously as it
did from Angel's.
   It was revenge she wanted- and that was what Charisma wanted as well, which
was why she was having trouble being honest with herself. She wanted to use
her friend to get back at him, even though he hadn't necessarily hurt her. The
roomates had come to the same conclusion without ever discussing it.
   Inside, Angel smiled. A little triangle of hate. That was perfect.
   "Tell me about when you started-"
   As always when asked this question, Angel smiled. Naturally, she never tired
of talking about the moment which had finally brought her life into some sort
of focus.
   "I was fourteen. It was one of those winter nights that you get used to
living where it's cold. My mother had gotten a nice fire burning in the
fireplace- it was our Friday night tradition. Two movies, a bottle of wine-
one or maybe two glasses for me if I could stay awake- and popcorn or ice
cream. Some of the other kids thought it was weird, the way I always stayed in
on Friday, but I really enjoyed it. It was relaxing."
   "Your mom was a smoker ?" Wendi asked.
   Angel nodded, drew on her cigarette, and thought to herself that it was time
Charisma lit another one.
   Which she immediately did. When she exhaled, Wendi found herself bathed in
   "Still is. I'll never forget that night. She'd rented the Fog and the
Shining- total horror movie night. We were about halfway through the Shining-
we never did get around to the Fog- when my mother looked at me." She paused
to inhale one final time and then stubbed the cigarette out, exhaling into
Wendi's chest as she reached across the bar to the ashtray. The smoke drifted
up and Wendi leaned into rather than away from it.
   "It was a strange look. You know how parents can be. One moment they seem
perfectly normal and the next they're thinking about how the rest of your life
is going to work out and how they can affect the process."
   Angel paused to light a cigarette.
   "I'll never forget the night my mother decided that she was going to share
her vast knowledge of sex with me," Charisma said.
   All three women laughed. Charisma luxuriated in a full-body nose exhale as
Angel took the first pull from her own. Wendi was no longer holding her long
unlit cigarette down by her waist as if hiding it but had moved it back above
the bar. Her eyes went to it occasionally as though she was thinking again
that perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad thing to-
   "Well, she smiled at me, lit a cigarette- the same type as I've always
smoked, naturally- and asked me if I had ever tried smoking. She asked in a
very nervous voice, and she immediately followed up the question with
assurances that she would understand if had, that it was a perfectly natural
thing for a fourteen year old girl to do. I was surprised, but only a little.
I'm not sure why. I had just sort of known for some time that my mom was
curious about my interest in smoking."
   "Were you honest about it ? Did you tell her that you never had ?" As Wendi
asked the question, the cigarette slid a little closer to her mouth.
   "No. I lied. I told her I had tried smoking and that I really enjoyed it and
hoped that she was asking me because she wanted to tell me that it would be
all right if I started."
   Charisma seemed more surprised than Wendi.
   "You lied about having started smoking so that you could start smoking ? That
seems a little unusual."
   "Well, I told my mother what she wanted to hear, and then she told me what I
wanted to hear. Which was that she wanted to see me smoke."
   "You must have been very excited," Wendi said hesitantly, as though she was
admitting that she was the one excited about the idea of starting to smoke.
   "I was, but not in the way you'd expect. About the smoking itself, I was
remarkably calm. That was a totally matter of fact thing. I had always known
that I would eventually smoke, that my mom would somehow be a part of it- and
that was what was so exciting. That she wanted me to smoke. Not that she
wouldn't mind  but that she actually wanted  me to smoke. I felt very good
about that."
   Charisma nodded, understanding. She drew deeply on her cigarette and allowed
the exhale to engulf her friend, who clearly no longer minded.
   "I felt the same way the day my father asked me if was going to let him see
me smoke or just go on sneaking around. But I'd been smoking for over a year-"
   "I envy you that. I never had the thrill of secret smoking. I understand that
it's very exciting, but I can't imagine that will ever be something I'll get
to know about. Anyway, my mother handed me her pack of cigarettes and her
lighter. It was quite a moment for me. Our hands touched as she passed the
tools to me and I could- it was as if I was her, looking at me, pride in her
eyes. She was as excited as I was, I think, that we were going to share this
   "Lighting that cigarette was one of the easiest things I've ever done. I
still remember exactly how it tasted and felt, how perfect it was. I wasn't
just smoking a cigarette. I was making a decision about how I wanted to live
my life and what type of person I wanted to be. That was the most amasing
thing about it."
   "And that's exactly what I'm afraid of," Wendi said. "That lighting one
cigarette will lead to lighting another and another and another." 
   "And that would be bad because ?"
   "I work out a lot. I run road races, play racquetball-"
   "With me," Charisma chided. "And who always wins ?"
   Wendi didn't answer that.
   "You know," Angel said, drawing on the cigarette and allowing herself, as
always, one instant of pure innerness, during which the world faded to grey
and there was only the magic of the smoke. "There's a track about three blocks
from here at the local high school. Real nice all-weather track- I did some
speed work on it at lunch.  My gear is in the car. I'll make you a bet. If I
can beat you in a 400, we'll come back here and you'll smoke that cigarette
with us."
   Wendi looked at Angel as she inhaled again. She was well-built for running-
about 5'6", slim, and her tight black jeans showcased muscular legs. But she
was also a smoker, and Wendi had been running since she was twelve. She  was
sure that she could take her one way or another, especially over a mere 400
   "It's a deal."
   A single man watched them leave together. While all three of the women were
unquestionably attractive, his interest was entirely in one of them. He only
wished it was not so very pleasant, watching her smoke. Carter Arose settled
back into his booth, out of their line of sight, lit a cigar, and decided to
wait. He had the strangest feeling they'd be back.

   The track was deserted. Even quite. It was past dusk, and the place had an
eerie solemnness.
   Angel finished her cigarette and began stretching. Truth be told, she thought
this was probably the littlest bit silly. Then again, looking at Wendi made
her realise once again, as always, that there was never anything silly about
   That was the term the group had taught her soon after they'd taken her in.
Not as one of them- she might never truly be one of them, even as the days
drew so very short they continued to evaluate, to the point where she almost
no longer cared if she were ever taken into that circle. Regardless of their
final decision, turning was what she did, and she could do it just as easily
with as without.
   She would, and she did not necessarily pardon the pun, smoke Wendi. She had
it planned, it was just a question of execution- and as always, which shoe to
   Flats, stubs, or the ultra light trainer that she put most of her mileage on.
Did it matter ? The all-weather surface screamed for stubs, and there was a
sign on the chain link by the gate which said `No Spikes.' That made the
decision for her. She reached into her bag and pulled out a fourth pair, the
one with the quarter inch spikes.
   Why she still ran was no mystery to her.
   I love the pain. 
   There was an indescribable sweetness to that pain. There were times when the
middle of the day came, when she was waiting for an encounter in a bar or on a
street in some small town when she put her running shoes on and just went out
to fly, not because she loved the feel of the wind and the warm air on her
face, not because she could still do this better than most, but because when
she reached deep down inside and hunted for it with enough determination, she
could still find the pain. There were times when it was superior even to
   That pain, like the ecstasy of auto-eroticism, clarified so many things which
would otherwise remain murky.
   She laced up the spikes and smiled.
   Wendi had placed blocks on the inside two lanes- that was serious business,
blocks for a 400 on a bar night.
   "I'll take the outside lane," Angel said, flashing her sweetest smile.
   "You sure ?" Wendi asked. The look she gave Angel was so transparent. 
   You're a smoker. There's no way you can beat me.
   Angel thought Wendi was about to learn that discrimination, even bigotry,
came in more forms than she could imagine.
   Charisma put her arm up, and Angel thought that wouldn't do. She walked back
over to her bag, reached in, past the service automatic, and found the snub-
nosed starter's gun. That had been a gag gift from a friend last summer- or
rather a member of the group- none of which truly qualified as friends. She
handed it to Charisma, who took it as though it was some sort of dangerous
alien life form.
   "Don't worry. It shoots blanks."
   They got into the blocks, set themselves. Wendi looked up at her friend. 
   "Don't forget to clear the blocks."
   Charisma nodded, raised the gun into the air, and pulled the trigger.
   Wendi, who was about two inches taller and had proportionally longer legs,
got a nice jump out of the blocks. Angel settled in behind her, drafting,
matching her stride for stride. She'd do that for the first half, mimicking
her. Once she'd settled in-
   They hit the opening turn. Angel resisted the urge to take her now, it was
too soon, would make it too easy.
   She leaned into the turn, keeping her head slanted inside, economising her
motion. The pace was brisk but not troubling. They cleared the backside of the
turn and Angel moved back into the second lane, sizing Wendi up, changing to
an even longer stride. She pulled even at the halfway mark of the straightaway
and then began to accelerate. On the far side of the track, Charisma was
cheering, presumably for her. 	
   By the time they hit the inside arc of the back turn, Angel had half a dozen
strides on Wendi.
   There was an eerie silence to the race. There was no grunting, no groaning.
   Angel was breathing mildly hard, but she did it quietly. She blew out of the
closing end of the turn and let the speed engulf her. As she roared up the
straight, the pain came, a slashing sensation which laced across her mid-
section and flowered, arching down each leg and up her back until her whole
body became a knot of burning anger.
   She leaned her breasts forward as she crossed the finish, just as she would
have done had someone pulled a string across it.
   Charisma looked at her watch.
   "Sixty-three ? Holy shit."
   Wendi burst past her, four seconds behind.
   "I don't believe it," she said, panting heavily as she drew up beside Angel,
who was standing straight up, looking only slightly winded. She felt as though
she should be ready to get sick, having all that alcohol in her system, but
the truth was, despite losing, that she'd never felt better.
   Perhaps it was the excitement flowering in her stomach.
   "Because I smoke, right ?"
   "How do you-" Wendi asked breathlessly.
   "Maybe it's time that you entertained the notion that smoking doesn't make
you feeble and run down-"
   Wendi looked up the track at Charisma, who was walking towards them, a smile
on her face.
   "I never said that-"
   "Tell me you never thought it, and I'll call you a liar."
   Wendi nodded, then gave Angel a pleasant, spontaneous hug.

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