"Will you grow up about the fisting scene at Heaven and Hell, Jane! That was six fucking months ago!"
Dear Jane, Part Eight:
"We Have To Talk..."
by Kai MacTane
Barbara, janitor by night, poet by day, has promised to take flowers to Erika on behalf of Ray...
Erika, still on the rebound from Jane, is caught between her equal attraction to Ray and Barbara...
Jane, meanwhile, has finally gotten ahold of Erika by phone, and is venting her spleen...
Ray, a journalist, has left a torrid fling with Vic to confront the woman who set it all up...
Valerie, Ray's dyke editor and Vic's former lover, is enjoying playing matchmaker...
Vic, the hunky FtM security guard, is volunteering with the Queer Central performance art benefit...
Ray drove home from Vic's apartment, trembling in rage and weak-kneed with lust in equal parts. Arriving home, he immediately called Valerie.
"How could you do that?" he asked. "You're my boss, Valerie, not my pimp!"
Whoa, that old queeny side is really coming out, he thought. And I thought I might be out of practice. But how am I going to tell Erika I just fucked a man?
"And here I thought I was doing you a favor," Valerie replied. "After all, I can't sleep with Vic any more -- but I thought you might be interested. You can't tell me he isn't a hunk."
Just because you think I'm a gay man -- hell, even if I were, that doesn't mean I'm perpetually available. I was monogamous back when... "All right, he's a hunk. And it's not like Vickie and I didn't talk about scenes like that back when we worked together. Which made for some very spicy lunch hours, let me tell you!" But I've got a girlfriend, dammit, and how can I explain that to you? "In a way, it's nice to see he remembered. I was terrified for a moment, and then he said 'little boy' and it all clicked. But what makes you think I'm not seeing anyone else?"
"Wouldn't you have told me about him? I am sorry, though. I tell you what -- let me make it up to you both by treating the lucky man to a ticket to the Queer Central performance art benefit tomorrow."
"But I'm not going to be there," Ray protested.
"Yes you are, Mr. Gossip -- you need to learn to schmooze. So bring the boy-thing along, and the two of you can work the crowd for juicy tidbits."
There's no way I can rustle up a man in time -- Oh, hell, might as well bite the bullet. "Well, about the 'boy-thing'... her name is Erika, okay?"
Goddess, why must drag queens always refer to themselves -- and every other male in sight -- as "she"? thought Valerie. But she had been impolitic enough for one night. "Well, as long as the dear thing has good dress sense. I'm sure you'll make a lovely couple."
I'm surprised at how well that went, Ray thought as he hung up the phone. I guess biphobia isn't always where you expect it! Now to call Erika -- maybe after the art event, I can talk to her about our relationship -- and Vic.
He wavered a bit at the prospect, then screwed up his resolve. Erika and I have to talk. Tomorrow.
Barbara could hear yelling coming from Erika's office as she stood outside with the flowers. "Goddammit, Jane, why wouldn't I be working late? Just because you think my social life is 'out of control' doesn't mean it's so."
A pause. "Will you grow up about the fisting scene at Heaven and Hell, Jane! That was six fucking months ago!"
Barbara summoned up her nerve, knocked on the door, then counted to three and walked in.
"Jane, I've got to go, there's someone -- here?" Erika paused as she saw the bouquet of flowers in Barbara's hand. A fresh burst of noise erupted from the earpiece of the telephone, and Erika held the receiver a bit farther away from her ear.
Barbara's heart leaped. Heaven and Hell! she thought. She does like women! I have a chance... as long as I don't blow it. But she didn't let any of this show on her face. Instead, she raised an eyebrow, shot Erika a sympathetic look, and asked, "Can I help?" When Erika nodded heartfelt assent, Barbara coolly strode forward, took the phone receiver, and spoke without waiting for the shrill voice on the other end to pause.
"Excuse me -- Jane, is it? Erika has a life to live. One that involves people who care about her instead of screaming at her. She has her own life now. Go and live yours. If Erika wants to get in touch with you, she will. Until then, leave her alone." And Barbara calmly hung up the phone without waiting for any response.
Erika looked at her, awestruck. My knight in shining janitorial overalls just walked in, roses in hand, and saved me from the evil dragon, she thought. They definitely don't make janitors like they used to -- they make 'em much better! I can almost feel my heart melting. This more than makes up for her walking in on me and Ray!
"Wow," she breathed. "That's about the most wonderful entrance I've ever seen anyone make. Flowers and everything."
Barbara blushed. "The flowers are from Ray, but thank you."
Taking the flowers, Erika replied, "Thank you. Of course, Jane will assume you must be my latest girlfriend, but I don't feel like correcting her mistake. I'd love to have you around the next time she calls!"
"I'd like that, too," said Barbara. And then the phone rang.
"Dammit!" Erika swore as she snatched up the phone. "Listen, Jane, you ignorant slut! -- oh, God, I'm sorry!" A pause. "I'm really sorry, Ray, I thought you were my ex calling back after being hung up on once already." Brief pause. "Oh, totally! Not just psycho, but a real bitch." A longer pause. "Yeah, she just arrived a few minutes ago." Erika picked up the flowers and put them to her face, breathing in deeply. She exhaled with a look of contentment on her face. "Yes, they're lovely!"
Dammit, thought Barbara as Erika went on chatting with Ray, that's the problem with bisexuals. They'll always leave you for a man.
"I should be pissed at your work for interfering with our date tonight," Erika was saying into the phone, "but if they're getting us into the performance art fundraiser tomorrow, I think I can forgive them. But are they really okay with you bringing a woman?" Another pause. "Okay, then, I'll see you tomorrow. Seven o'clock? Great! Bye."
Erika looked back at Barbara, who was already moving toward the door.
"Well, it looks like my work here is done," Barbara said. Was that a crestfallen look on her face? "I hope you have fun with Ray tomorrow night." And she slipped out the door.
Damn! thought Erika. How could I just let her get away like that? And after she was such a romantic life-saver!
Her thoughts grew pensive. After four years of monogamy with Jane, I'm just not ready to tie myself to one person, no matter how nice he is. I do like Ray, a lot -- I could even fall in love with him. But I hope he can deal with non-monogamy. Ray and I have to talk. Tomorrow.
Barbara threw herself furiously into her cleaning duties, trying to erase thoughts of Erika from her mind as she scrubbed spots from floors and stains from the counter in the office kitchen. It didn't work.
I wish I could be the one to go with her to that benefit show. I should have told her about the things I can do for her that no man can. I should write her the most erotic poetry the world's seen since Sappho. I should --
Beep! Beep! Beep! --
I should answer my pager.
Barbara quickly recognized the four digits of the front security desk. Putting down her mop, she went to a nearby office phone and called, reaching Vic on night security. "Hi, Vic, what's up?"
"Barbara, I've got a problem I think you can fix. I'm managing talent for the performance art benefit tomorrow night, and I just had a last-minute cancellation. I asked myself, 'Who do I know that writes good queer stuff?' And I thought of you. How'd you like to read some of your stuff at the benefit tomorrow night?"
"Do a reading?" she stammered. "Tomorrow night? But I hardly have any queer stuff at all. And it's not the best -- my piece about my father's death is really a lot stronger. A-and the one about how nobody notices janitors."
"But what about that women's prison piece? The woman with -- "
"Oh my God! You think I wrote that?!? No, no, no, that was someone else. I, uh, found that lying around. That's not mine."
"Oh, crap," Vic sighed. "Oh, well, then I guess I'll have to find someone else. Thanks anyway."
"Wait! Um, I actually do write poetry. Not prose. Not like that Penthouse letter."
"Well, what we really need is more hot stuff like that."
Thinking furiously, Barbara switched tacks. "Well, I didn't say my stuff wasn't erotic -- just that it wasn't prose. You want hot readings for tomorrow night? You'll have 'em!"
After getting off the phone with Vic, Barbara's mind went into overdrive. I'll give them scorching, she thought. And I'll make sure Erika realizes what my inspiration is. I was wrong to think she looked like a ministering angel -- she's my Muse. And then after that reading, Erika and I need to talk. Tomorrow night!
Breathless with anticipation, Barbara started writing.
Kai MacTane is a bisexual, bi-coastal, ambidextrous, polyamorous polytheist. He has two girlfriends and an extended community of friends, and works as an Internet pornographer. In his spare time, he sleeps.
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