Unintended Consequences, Part 1

(by SSTORYMAN, 29 September 2002)


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This fictional account contains adult language and graphic sexual themes.  If
such language and themes offend you please do not read further.  The persons
and events described in this work are purely fictional.  Any similarity to
actual persons or events is strictly coincidental.  Copyright 2002 by
SSTORYMAN.  All rights reserved.  Permission is hereby granted to reproduce
this story in any form and for any purpose as long as this notice is
reproduced and no financial remuneration is received, directly or indirectly,
by the person reproducing or using it.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

1.	Beware of the Psychic.

   Eileen sat in her kitchen drinking coffee along with her friend Kathleen.
As always, Eileen was wearing very conservative clothing.  She had on a long,
full skirt and a cardigan sweater.  "I hate to say it, Kathleen, but I'm
thinking about it.  I really am.  I don't care what Pastor Smith says.
Rebecca's breathing is so bad these days.  It has me worried.  I don't know
what else to do."

   Kathleen shook her head.  "It's dangerous, Eileen.  Just this week in his
sermon Pastor Smith warned all of us about psychics, you know."

   "Yeah, I know," she grinned sheepishly.  "Strangely enough, I never
thought about visiting a psychic till I heard Pastor Smith's sermon.  But I
must find out if something like that might help Rebecca."

   "Psychics are dangerous," Kathleen went on.  "Their powers are real, but
evil.  That's exactly what Pastor Smith says.  Remember Joanne Givens?  She
went to that psychic on Hoover Street a few weeks ago and she hasn't been to
church since.  I tell you, bad things happen to the people who visit psychics
like that!"

   Eileen laughed.  "Kathleen, that's silly.  So what if Joanne Givens hasn't
been to church the last couple weeks?  There's probably a perfectly good
reason.  But it doesn't matter.  I'm at the end of my rope.  Rebecca's _so_
sick.  Even with her medicine her asthma makes it impossible for her to do
anything at all."

   Kathleen leaned forward.  "Eileen, did you ever think that part of
Rebecca's problem breathing might be your smoking?"

   Eileen flinched.  "Yeah, I know.  It doubtless is.  I smoke too much; I
know it.  But I can't quit, Kathleen.  I've tried hundreds of times.  I don't
know; maybe I don't want to bad enough."  She groaned.  "I know my smoking
makes Rebecca's asthma worse.  But this might be the answer.  Yesterday I saw
Joanne Givens at the store.  She did see the psychic named Madame Bufka over
on Hoover Street.  Madame Bufka completely cured Joanne's skin condition.
Joanne looks great.  I must try.  Rebecca can't breathe, and it breaks my
heart listening to her wheeze."

   "But Eileen, if Pastor Smith's right, if evil spirits are the source of
psychic powers -."  She sighed deeply shaking her head.  "Don't mess with
that stuff, I tell you.  Pastor Smith says unintended consequences inevitably
happen to people who dabble in the occult."

   "It's not the occult," Eileen shot back.  "It's psychic healing.  There's
a difference.  Joanne told me about it.  And I don't care what Pastor Tony
Smith says.  I talked to him about Rebecca and he can't do a thing.  He
mumbled a few self-righteous prayers and then told me I should quit smoking.
Well, I know that, but I can't.  So I'm going to see someone who might be
able to really help Rebecca's breathing."

   Kathleen rolled her eyes.  "I'd quit smoking first if I were you.  It
hurts Rebecca and it's not good for you either.  Rebecca's asthma might go
away completely if you quit that terrible habit of yours."

   "Yeah, it just might," Eileen admitted.  "But I can't quit.  Look, this
Madame Bufka person healed Joanne.  Joanne looks great and she's happier than
ever now that her terrible looking skin condition is gone.  I don't believe
all that stuff about the occult and unintended consequences.  No, Pastor
Smith is just plain wrong this time."

   Kathleen shrugged.  "Suit yourself, Eileen.  But don't say I didn't warn
you."

   After Kathleen left, Eileen shivered apprehensively.  She appreciated
Kathleen's concern.  But with her friend gone she impatiently retrieved the
Marlboro Lights 100's from her purse.  She hated being addicted to
cigarettes, but it didn't matter.  She _had_ to have one.  It'd been two
hours since her last smoke.  She clicked her lighter and sucked on the white
cylinder firmly positioned between her lips.  She dragged a second time
before taking it from her mouth.  An endless stream of thick, rich smoke
flowed from her cute, turned up nose during the second drag while she inhaled
deep into her lungs.  Ah, it felt so good!  But then it always did.  That was
the predicament.  She'd never be able to quit smoking.  If she couldn't quit
at least she'd do something to make it not hurt her daughter so much!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   Madame Bufka, whose full name was Zita Bufkalova, sat in the drawing room
of her home on Hoover Street.  She was a petite woman.  Her exotic turban and
old world clothes made it hard to tell her age.  She was perhaps in her early
thirties.  She was beautiful, with a mysterious, eastern European look.  Zita
told them she was originally from the Czech Republic and had been in the
United States only a short time.  A small sign in her front yard advertised
"Psychic Healing," "Readings" and "Mystic Advisor."  Her turban had a small
jeweled amulet positioned front and center.  It looked a little hokey but it
did add mystery to her persona.

   She smiled warmly at Eileen and Rebecca and spoke in a thick, eastern
European accent.

   "I knew you'd come," she laughed pleasantly.  "I saw it in my crystal.  I
saw a tall, attractive brunette in her thirties accompanied by her daughter,
a lovely teenager with long brown hair and a pretty smile, a girl who has
trouble breathing."  She looked up from her crystal and gazed at her
visitors.  "And now, look!  Here you are!"

   Eileen fidgeted anxiously.  It seemed like pure shtick.  She'd said
nothing to Madame Bufka about Rebecca's breathing.  But her daughter's wheeze
was noticeable.  So the mystic's conclusion didn't necessarily require
supernatural knowledge.

   "We came because of Joanne Givens," Eileen smiled.  "She told me how you
helped her.  You completely healed her horrid skin condition.  She looks
great now.  I'm a little nervous, but I wonder if you can help Rebecca.  She
has terrible -."

   "Asthma," Madame Bufka confidently finished.  "I know.  Yes, my power can
help your lovely daughter, Rebecca."  She smiled at Rebecca.  "Do you want to
be healed, dear?"

   The sixteen year old politely nodded.  She was a timid girl.  She too, was
nervous.  "Yes, ma'am," she answered diffidently.  "I have to take my
medicine all the time.  I can't run or do anything out doors anymore.  It
worries my mom," she said, smiling at Eileen.  "The doctors say it won't ever
get much better.  That's why Mom thought we should come here, I think."

   "Your mother's a very wise woman," the Czech lady laughed.  "My power is
very great.  It's the power of my ancestors, the power of the gypsy people.
The power has been in my family for countless generations.  Gypsies are
constantly persecuted in my home country.  People fear us because we have
this great power.  But whenever they need help with illness, like you, they
come nevertheless.  They know.  I believe I may be able to help you, my dear.
If you're willing to receive it, that is."

   "Madame Bufka," Eileen interrupted.  "My pastor says we shouldn't do this.
He says your powers are demonic, that bad, unintended consequences come from
seeking psychic healing."  She laughed nervously.  "What do you think of
that?"

   "People are afraid of what they don't understand," Zita laughed softly.
"There are never unintended consequences, my dears," she added, shaking her
head in amusement.  "Our minds and bodies are so complex.  You must
understand.  Psychic power is great indeed.  But whenever you push on one
place in the human psyche, often other things push back in other directions.
I can never predict for certain how one reacts when psychic power is
unleashed.  But as for unintended consequences," she laughed.  "That is what
you call an old wives' tale!"

   Eileen sighed.  "That's what I think, too.  Okay, Madame Bufka, we want
you to do a session with Rebecca.  I'd love for her to be able to breathe
normally.  Can you make it happen?"

   "I do nothing," Zita replied.  "I only put you in touch with the power of
the spirit world.  When it unleashes, my clients find their heart's desires
satisfied."  She narrowed her eyes.  "My fee for psychic healing is one
hundred U. S. dollars," she added matter of factly.  "In advance."

   Eileen dug into her purse.  Joanne prepared her for this.  She got out her
checkbook.

   "Ah, my dear, I only take cash," Zita interrupted with a smile.  "No
checks."

   "Um, okay," Eileen muttered.  She dug in her purse for her wallet, hoping
she had enough cash.

   "Ah, I see you have cigarettes in your purse," Zita observed dryly.  "I
see you also want my help freeing yourself from the grip of your cigarette
habit.  Is that right?"

   Eileen blushed.  "Yeah, well, let's see what happens with Rebecca's
asthma," she said defensively while counting out five twenties.  She handed
them to Madame Bufka.  "Maybe if you can cure Rebecca's asthma, I'll be
back."

   Zita rolled up the bills and stuffed them in her pocket.  She smiled.
"You'll be back.  You will.  I have a good feeling about young Rebecca.  I
believe the power will free her today and she will be a new woman."

   The walked into the drawing room.  Zita had Rebecca sit across from her
opposite the crystal ball on the table.  Eileen sat several feet away.  "Now,
my dear, look into the crystal," Madame Bufka instructed.  "Stare deeply into
the crystal and tell me what you see."

   "It's pretty," Rebecca answered, shrugging.  "But I don't see anything."

   "Oh, you will," Zita smiled with assurance.  "Keep staring."  She began to
speak in a foreign tongue, chanting rhythmically and swaying back and forth.

   Eileen rolled her eyes.  The shtick was _so_ over the top, she sighed
silently.  But Madame Bufka helped Joanne.  It was worth $100 to give it a
try, as hokey as it seemed.

   Rebecca began to blink.  She felt spacey, like she was falling in a
trance.  She visibly relaxed as Zita continued to chant.  She seemed to fall
asleep.  All of a sudden, Zita spoke loudly in English.  "Ah, yes, the power
is present now!  I invited it, and it has come.  Ah, your chest is becoming
clear, Rebecca.  Your chest is freeing itself from the asthma.  Can you feel
it?"

   The unconscious teenager nodded lazily.  "I can feel it," she repeated
dreamily.

   "Yes, I know you can," Madame Bufka reiterated.  "The power is coming upon
you.  You feel it so strong now.  Your whole body is tingling.  The mucus in
your chest is breaking up.  Your lungs want to expand, to breathe free and
take in everything in the air around you.  Do you feel it?"

   "I feel it," Rebecca repeated in a daze.

   Madame Bufka raised her voice.  "I now command the power to fill your
lungs!  I give permission to the power to open them up all the way, to let
them live, and let them experience life.  Now, receive it, Rebecca!  Open
yourself, and let the power take control.  Let it come!"  She began chanting
again and then returned to English.  "Now, power, allow these lungs to take
in everything in the air around them, without harm, without congestion, but
instead with great pleasure," she added.  "Let it be so; now!"

   Rebecca slumped onto the table.  Eileen gasped.  "Oh my Gosh, is she
okay?"

   Madame Bufka smiled.  "Rebecca is fine.  She is okay.  She is completely
cured."

   "But she's unconscious," Eileen went on anxiously.  "I need to get her
inhaler and give her some medicine.  She can't breathe lying over like that!"

   "Don't worry, my dear.  She is breathing quite well," Zita smoothly
smiled.  "Rebecca.  Can you hear me?  Wake up, dear!"

   Rebecca abruptly sat up.  "What -?  What happened?"

   "You are healed, dear," Madame Bufka said soothingly.  "The power has
visited you.  I felt it, and you did, too.  You no longer have difficulty
breathing.  Your lungs can breathe in and out and enjoy full access to the
air around you.  It is done.  The power has done wonderful things for you.
You will be a new woman."

   Rebecca took a deep breath.  "Gosh, my lungs _are_ clear," she gasped with
amazement.  "I can breathe okay.  Mom, I feel much better!"

   Eileen was unsure if it was psychosomatic or real.  But the wheezing sound
from her daughter's lungs was clearly gone.  She laughed involuntarily.  "Oh
thank you, Madame Bufka.  Rebecca does sound better."  She picked up her
purse and stood.  "We'll let you know how she does."

   "No need," Zita smiled.  "I know little Rebecca is better.  You're very
fortunate.  The power has come strongly to you.  From now on you will breathe
deeply and enjoy it."

   Eileen and Rebecca left the house and returned to their car.  The teenager
still felt slightly dazed, but she was breathing freely for the first time in
years.  "Mom, it's incredible.  I can breathe!  I can really breathe!  That
lady is amazing!"

   "What happened?  What was it like?"

   The teenager slipped into the passenger seat.  "Madame Bufka began to
chant and I saw swirling lights inside her crystal.  It made me feel sleepy.
All I could see was the crystal.  It was like I was asleep.  I couldn't hear
a thing, but I felt warm, hot, actually, like a strange warm liquid filled me
up, but from the inside out.  It felt really good.  I don't know.  Then
suddenly I woke up and I could breathe!"

   "Gosh, honey, that's great," Eileen smiled as she pulled away from the
curb.  She was delighted and relieved, but she still felt strangely nervous.
"Gosh, I felt edgy in there.  It kind of gave me the creeps, to be honest,
all her chanting, the turban, the crystal ball and everything.  But if you
feel better, Rebecca, that's all I care about."  She paused.  "I hate to say
it, but I'm still so tense.  I wish I could have a cigarette.  But I'll wait
till we're home.  I don't want my smoke to bother you."

   Rebecca smiled.  "I don't think it _will_ bother me, Mom," she confidently
asserted.  "Go ahead and smoke if you want.  Let's test this out."

   "I don't know," Eileen hedged.  "Being near my smoke always makes you
cough."

   "Then it's a perfect test!  My lungs feel clear now.  If they don't react
to your smoking then we'll know for sure I'm cured."

   Eileen _did_ want a cigarette rather badly.  "Okay," she agreed against
her better judgment.  "We'll see then.  If it doesn't work we can always use
your inhaler, I guess."

   From her purse Eileen shook out a Marlboro Light 100.  She eagerly clicked
her lighter and lit up without cracking her driver's side window.  Yes, this
_was_ a perfect test.  She reflexively dragged long and hard, filling her
lungs with the smoke she so badly needed.  Immediately she felt better.  She
released her exhale into the car's interior and hesitantly looked over at
Rebecca through the air that was becoming increasingly hazy.  "How do you
feel?"

   "Fine," Rebecca beamed.  "Gosh, Mom, it's amazing.  I smell the smoke, but
it doesn't bother me the least little bit.  I _am_ cured," she laughed
elatedly.

   "Gosh, it does look like Joanne was right and Kathleen's wrong," Eileen
sighed happily after another drag on her cigarette.  "If my smoke isn't
bothering you, it makes our lives a whole lot easier, doesn't it?  Wow, this
may be the best hundred dollars we ever spent!"

   "It sure is," Rebecca excitedly agreed.  She took a deep breath of the
thick, smoky air that filled the car's interior and breathed it back out
without incident.  "Look, Mom, no wheezing.  None at all.  Gosh, this is
great," the teenager sighed contentedly.  "Just great.  I feel good!"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   Rebecca turned off the TV.  It was mid-afternoon.  She felt so incredibly
bored!  She thought about all the kids playing soccer and other summer sports
outdoors.  Maybe she could finally join a soccer league now.  For the first
time she had options.  No more asthma.  She was able to breathe!  It still
felt unbelievably wonderful.  She slept the entire night, no wheezing and no
medicine.  She still couldn't believe her good fortune.  Madame Bufka was
amazing!

   Eileen worked during the day so the sixteen year old was home alone.  In
the past she always stayed at Aunt Marian's while her mom was at work.
Someone had to be there if she had an asthma attack.  But today she prevailed
on Eileen to let her stay alone for the first time in ages.  The first few
hours were great; she felt liberated and grown up.  But it was afternoon now
and she couldn't stand another minute of TV.  That was okay, she guessed.
Her mom didn't approve of her watching so much TV anyway.

   She wandered into the kitchen.  On the counter she spied her mom's
ashtray.  In it Rebecca counted four cigarette butts left over from her mom's
morning coffee and smoking routine.  She hated her mom's smoking.  Eileen was
careful not to smoke near her, but it always made it hard for Rebecca to
breathe.  Long ago she stopped nagging her mom to quit; it only made them
both feel bad.  She knew her mom couldn't stop even though she said she
wanted to.

   Now for some reason Rebecca found herself irresistibly drawn to the
cigarette butts in the glass ashtray.  Without knowing exactly why, she
hesitantly reached in and picked one up.  She sniffed at it.  It didn't smell
bad.  No, it actually smelled - kind of nice, almost pleasant.  She laughed
and held it in her fingers, pretending to smoke it, though without touching
it to her lips.  Doing this made her feel strangely excited, like she was
getting away with something naughty.  She laughed again.  She always used to
wonder why her mom smoked so much.  After all, it stunk up the place, smelled
awful and made it hard for her to breathe.  But now it didn't smell awful,
and of course she was breathing just fine now.

   Out of the blue the curious teenager felt herself gripped by a sudden
powerful uncontrollable urge.  She _had_ to try smoking for herself.  That
was all there was to it.  She had to know, _really_ know, exactly why her mom
smoked.  Never before in her life had Rebecca ever considered smoking.  Her
terrible asthma always ruled it out.  But now she breathed freely.  She took
a deep breath and laughed out loud.  "All clear down there," she giggled
shamelessly.  "So I have to find out about this thing!"

   She put the butt back in the ashtray.  She looked for one of her mom's
open packs of cigarettes.  Eileen always had one or more around the house.
At last, on her mom's bedroom nightstand, the teenager hit pay dirt.  There
she found a half empty pack of Marlboro Lights 100's!  She removed a
cigarette and ran downstairs to find a lighter or some matches.

   As she descended the staircase, conflicting thoughts filled Rebecca's
head.  "What do you think you're doing?" said one voice.  "This is the
dumbest thing you've ever considered doing!  You won't be able to breathe.
You hate Mom's smoking.  You want her to quit.  It's bad for her, and it'd be
worse for you.  For God's sake, why on earth are you even _thinking_ about
trying to smoke a cigarette?"

   But a second more confident voice inside her head stridently answered the
first one.  "Hey, cut me a friggin' break!  Don't worry, Rebecca!  You're
cured; completely, forever.  Madame Bufka promised.  You're breathing fine
and you'll keep on breathing fine.  And since you can breathe, damn it, you
ought to try smoking.  You deserve to do something fun for a change.  You've
been held back for way too long.  Lots of kids at school smoke, tons.  They
all seem to really like it.  It must be great.  And it looks _so_ cool.
Hell, your mom loves to smoke.  So you have to try it, you stupid little
bitch.  You _need_ to.  It must be the best!"

   The second voice won easily.  Rebecca wanted to.  No, that wasn't right.
She _had_ to.  Something inside almost forced her and wouldn't take "no" for
an answer.  She felt so excited when she finally found one of her mom's many
disposable lighters.  She put the unlit cigarette to her lips just as she'd
seen her mother do thousands of times and clicked the lighter.  Shaking with
anticipation, she raised the flame and lit up a cigarette for the first time.

   Smoke filled Rebecca's mouth.  The taste was fantastic!  She laughed
involuntarily, the cigarette still resting in her lips.  She _liked_ it!
God, she mused, no wonder Mom loves this smoking thing so much.  She giggled
uncontrollably.  Wow, it was great!

   She puffed on the cigarette.  Each new drag she took tasted wonderful,
better than the last one.  She tapped an ash into the ashtray on the counter
and closely examined the burning cigarette between her fingers.  "This tastes
so incredibly good," she sighed happily.  "Gosh, it's way better than I ever
imagined!  And it looks so cool, too.  But I'm not done.  No, I have to
inhale the smoke.  Mom always does that and so do all the kids at school who
smoke.  I have to try doing that to really understand smoking."

   The little voice in her head urged her on.  "Yeah, Rebecca, do it!  You
were fuckin' born to smoke!  You love doing this, don't you?  Yeah, you sure
do.  Smoking's the absolute best!  You want to smoke.  You need to smoke.
But you _must_ learn to inhale.  You've seen your mom do it.  She pulls all
that thick wonderful smoke deep into her chest and then lets it sit there
like forever before finally breathing it out.  Inhaling will be the _real_
test to see if you're cured.  If you can inhale the smoke, damn it, it'll
prove once and for all that you're finally, forever, completely cured.  Plus,
you'll love it!  Your mom does.  You know you will, too!"

   So Rebecca tried it.  She hit on the cigarette and then opened her mouth,
just like her mom did, and breathed in.  The smoke hit her lungs with a thud.
Her chest tightened.  But she didn't cough.  Coughing was no longer in her
repertoire of options after the healing.  She simply pursed her smiling lips
and watched a long, luxurious stream of milky white smoke effortlessly flow
out of her open mouth.  "Damn," she exclaimed excitedly.  "God, I did it!  I
inhaled!  And I do fuckin' love it!"

   Rebecca hardly noticed the new words she was using now.  Coming from a
church home and having been mostly protected from profanity, she'd never been
tempted to use such bad language before.  But suddenly it was like she had to
swear, and she wanted to, too.  "Fuck," she exclaimed jubilantly.  "I'm
finally free from my asthma and now I can smoke!"

   The nicotine from the cigarette made her head spin, but it didn't matter.
She wanted to, she had to, keep on going.  She needed to smoke, though she
didn't know why.  She only knew she loved it, and her delight was heightened
by knowing that her lungs didn't react against the smoke; not at all.  Her
body and her lungs in particular welcomed it like some long lost best friend.
"Wow, I like this," she said aloud.  "God, I _really_ like to smoke!  I can't
imagine why Mom would ever want to quit!"

   And that's how it began.  Rebecca's initial urge to try one cigarette soon
blossomed into a virtual preoccupation with smoking.  The formerly asthmatic
teenager was instantly transformed.  In less than a week Rebecca was smoking
nine or ten cigarettes every day.  Stealing her mom's Marlboro Lights proved
easy; Eileen bought them by the carton, and she always left open packs in the
house when she left for work each morning.  Little Rebecca quickly built up
her tolerance and developed a deep love for smoking.  The odd thing was, it
was a practice she previously detested.

   Rebecca never stopped to wonder why this amazing change took place.  It
just seemed natural and she enjoyed it.  She continued breathing free and
easy.  It seemed her lungs were freed from the mucus and congestion just so
they could accept and enjoy the nicotine being delivered by her mom's
wonderful cigarettes.  More than anything else the shy sixteen year old
youngster wanted to smoke.  But as Rebecca learned, there were other changes
coming as well!


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