All the King’s Queens – Chapter 2: Everything is in Order

The chirping of birds outside is not making it easier to sleep in. Even with newly installed windows that normally do a good job at blocking out exterior noise, the incessant chirping cannot be ignored. And it will not stop.

Dylan Tanaka has no choice but to wake up. Curses!

But all is not lost. Today, after all, is the Big Day. No, not his wedding day. Not the day he graduates from college (even though graduating as the class valedictorian at the Hamburg Institute of Futurist Technology was quite a spectacular accomplishment). But the day of the Big Dinner Party. With three distinguished guests.

The time is 6:48 a.m. Dylan planned to sleep in at least till 8:30, but the army of chickadees just outside his window yapping away is derailing those plans. Oh well. No big deal. If that’s the worst thing that happens to him today, Dylan will consider himself lucky.

Dylan crawls out of bed and quickly dresses in a comfy old pair of jeans, white polo shirt, and grey cashmere socks. As he walks downstairs to the dining room, he can already hear Henry, his personal chef of twelve years and close confidante, complaining about the Seattle Mariners’ frustrating bullpen issues.

What else is new?

“Damn, if a baseball game were seven innings long, we’d be going to the World Series!” Henry exclaims. He’s evidently talking to himself because no one appears to be in the kitchen right now except for him. Apparently, he’s listening to sports talk radio or some baseball podcast. Dylan cannot tell which one it is.

“Good morning Henry!”

“Hi Boss Man! Don’t worry about my ramblings. I know we suck this year, but this shit still frustrates me, you know what I mean?” Henry is chopping scallions and looks to be preparing a frittata. That makes sense because this is Saturday morning, which is when Henry alternates between making Dylan either a veggie omelet or a frittata. Occasionally, he’ll switch it up and make eggs benedict, but that’s usually reserved for special occasions. Which apparently today isn’t, for some strange reason.

“Yeah, I hear you loud and clear.” Dylan leans over the kitchen counter and watches Henry cook. “No eggs benedict this morning?”

Henry stops what he’s doing and gives Dylan a sarcastic side-eye. He’s worked for Dylan long enough to know that giving him sass won’t endanger his job security. Even if it did, he’s confident he’d have plenty of other job offers lined up.

“Sorry, no. But I ain’t making no omelet or frittata neither! I know today’s a very special day,” Henry smirks. “You’re having a chorizo scramble with sweet mango salsa and whatever the hell vegetables I have in the fridge.” Henry gestures to the opposite side of the long sixteen-foot kitchen island. Dylan sees a package of unopened chorizo sausage from the local Mexican grocery store thawing. This brings a welcomed smile to Dylan’s face.

“Thanks Henry.” Dylan opens the refrigerator and takes out a can of Starbucks Frappuccino. “Are we all prepared for tonight’s festivities?” He opens the can and drinks from it, while Henry stops what he’s doing to look his boss in the eye.

“Oh, hell yeah! Can’t wait to see the ladies again. Damn, it’s been a while since you’ve had anyone over. And three at a time? Whooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeee!” Henry resumes cooking, imagining in his head what sorts of naughty fun his boss will partake in tonight. One’s imagination will often be more scandalous than reality, though Henry suspects his boss has plenty of erotic shenanigans on his personal to-do list.

“Make sure you say hi to them. I know you appreciate these ladies just as much as I do!” Dylan pats Henry on the shoulder and walks out of the kitchen toward the dining room. Henry heartily laughs to himself. It may have happened by accident, but when Dylan hired Henry to be his personal chef twelve years ago, he had no idea he was bringing on a fellow fan of female bodybuilders into his home. Dylan has done everything he can to keep his fetish for strong muscular women a secret, knowing how embarrassing it would be to him if the public found out (let alone the awkward texts he’d receive from his own mother!). After he hires a new domestic employee, Dylan usually asks everyone to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep his personal secrets private. With Henry, however, such an agreement was still done, but somewhat unnecessary. Henry is more open about his love for strong beautiful women than Dylan, however he understands why his boss would want that part of his life kept hush-hush. Plus, silence has its benefits.

Every so often, Dylan will let his trusted cook join in on the fun!

Well, not at the same time, of course.

As Henry continues to work in the kitchen, Dylan sits down at the head of a 12-foot-long oval glass top dining table. Lawrence, his butler of fourteen years, has dutifully left the latest issue of The Atlantic sitting at his place. The cover story, unfortunately, is enough to make Dylan want to vomit.

“Throw Every Billionaire in Jail?” Henry reads aloud the front cover headline. “It’s a travesty that in Modern America men like Dylan Tanaka is a free man while thousands of Iraqi and Syrian children are dead.” Dylan stops reading and almost tosses the magazine across the room in disgust. Before he can do anything impulsive, Lawrence emerges from the dining room entrance.

“Sorry, sir. When I first saw the cover story, I figured this would be an issue you wouldn’t want to read,” Lawrence picks up the magazine, inspects it once more, and hands it back to Dylan. “But orders are orders, if that makes any sense. You always want reading material to go along with breakfast. I didn’t just want to assume you wouldn’t want to read this.”

Dylan finishes his Frappuccino and gives the empty can to Lawrence. He sighs. “No, you’re fine. You did what you’ve always been instructed to do. It’s not your fault.” Dylan rubs his tired eyes with Lawrence watching his boss with a mixture of concern and empathy. “It’s been four years since everything that happened. But it seems much longer than that. I need to get over myself, but I still need more time. Fuck. Looks like I’m going to need at least twenty years to get back on my feet.”

Now, it’s Lawrence’s turn to pat someone on the shoulder.

“Perhaps tonight’s dinner party will lift your spirits. Because I highly doubt the FBI will be knocking down the door anytime soon, regardless of what this author may fantasize about in his or her mind.” Lawrence takes the empty Frappuccino can so he can toss it in the recycling bin. “Other than that, everything is in order. All the preparations according to your requests have been made.”

Dylan gives his loyal butler a smile of approval. He smiles back. Exiting to the kitchen, Dylan hears Lawrence and Henry having a pleasant conversation faintly into the distance. He cannot make out what they’re chatting about. He places the magazine face down on the table defiantly.

“Let’s hope the only visitors I get tonight are those who actually like me,” Dylan whispers under his breath. He sighs again.

At the age of 23, Dylan was a recent graduate of the most prestigious technical university in the world. He became an intern at Boeing in the fall of 2004, right when the U.S. was more than a year into the Iraq War and a few years into the larger War on Terror. Big technical firms were being given multibillion-dollar contracts from the Department of Defense to build weapons, vehicles, and technology to help defeat al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and whatever new threat would rear its ugly head. After four months at Boeing, Dylan developed in his parent’s basement an AI program that could analyze international bank transactions, phone calls, emails, texts, trade agreements, and satellite images to predict when future terrorist attacks would happen. His algorithm analyzed trillions of pieces of data simultaneously and calculated a “threat coefficient” to whoever cared to know. His test modeling used data collected from the ten years leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks, in which his program predicted with 97% accuracy the likelihood that Osama bin Laden would successfully plan and execute a mass terror attack on U.S. soil sometime between Jan. 1, 1998 and Dec. 31, 2002. This gave him confidence that his algorithm works. It’s not 100% reliable but it doesn’t need to be. All it has to do is provide intelligence officials credible warnings that certain threats are imminent. Dylan had all the confidence in the world that his AI program can do just that. After quitting his gig at Boeing and working at the Pentagon as a contract worker, young Dylan spent the next few years successfully helping the U.S. government sniff out potential plots that may have saved the lives of thousands, if not millions. He felt really proud of himself. So much so that in 2007 he tendered his resignation at the DOD and began his own startup firm.

This is when Dylan went from being a boy genius wunderkind to an international celebrity CEO.

His company, Perseus Analytics (named after the Greek mythological demigod who slayed monsters like Medusa), skyrocketed to become one of the largest and most influential corporations in world history. PA mostly used AI technology to help agricultural, shipping, construction, and engineering companies make data-driven informed business decisions. However, they also carried on as a military contractor, continuing the work Dylan did for the DOD – but at a much larger scale.

PA’s immediate success as a cutting-edge leader in the “Business Intelligence Software” industry made Dylan Tanaka an overnight celebrity. He was on the cover of several magazines, profiled by TV stations across the world, and spoke at several prestigious technology conferences. He went from a modest 4,983 Twitter followers to 2.4 million in less than a month. Forbes Magazine even suggested that he should run for president when he’s eligible in 2016, writing that “Mr. Tanaka represents what the future of our world is rapidly becoming: data-driven, pro-active, emotionally intelligent, innovative, and best of all, altruistic to a fault. If he were to run for President of the United States in 2016 – when he would be 35 years old – we would be hard-pressed to come up with a plausible reason why he wouldn’t receive this magazine’s glowing endorsement. This sentiment would gladly apply in 2020, 2024, 2028, and so on.”

The first several years of Perseus Analytics’ existence were a whirlwind for everyone involved. Dylan’s sudden celebrity, while amusing in the moment but ultimately meaningless in the long run, caught the attention of people other than tech journalists, social media influencers, and podcasters. His work also captured the imaginations of powerful men and women inside the U.S. government. The hefty contract PA signed with the DOD in 2009 is a testament to that. At first, the work was fairly modest. Dylan continued the work he did prior for them but at a larger scale. However, that quickly changed as the geopolitical landscape also changed.

In 2011, as drone technology was reaching its maturity, Dylan’s AI programs helped the military decide which targets to bomb. He entrusted Stephen Callahan, a longtime colleague he first met at Boeing, to head up this division. This project signified a dramatic strategic shift in PA’s work with the government. At first, they provided military and intelligence officers with information to help them make wise decisions. Now, they’re assisting in dropping bombs, launching missiles, and planning precision airstrikes. PA went from providing useful intel to delivering weapons of mass death.

For several years, their work went largely unnoticed by the public. Every PA senior executive and several high-ranking employees signed confidentiality agreements. Their top-secret work remained exactly that: a secret.

That all changed in 2015.

An explosive New York Times article – quoting several anonymous sources inside Perseus Analytics, the Pentagon, CIA, and U.S. military – claimed a bug in the AI program led to several drone strikes killing untold thousands of innocent civilians. In the wake of ISIS’s shocking November 2015 terrorist attack in Paris, the U.S. and its European allies stepped up drone strikes in the Middle East and North Africa. Most of those drones were equipped with Dylan’s AI protocols. Unfortunately, as Dylan and Stephen publicly admitted, the AI wasn’t perfect.

So yes, thousands of innocent people lost their lives because their technology wasn’t flawless. Additionally, this work flew under the radar of the usual systems of checks and balances. Many members of Congress, even those on defense and intelligence committees, were kept in the dark about PA’s relationship with the government. So not only was their work borderline immoral, it also could have been illegal.

Demands for a public inquiry grew. It quickly happened. Testifying before a hostile Congress, Dylan and Stephen (along with several other high-ranking PA executives) had to defend themselves amidst accusations of being “war profiteers” and engineers of genocide. Dylan felt like Howard Hughes being accused of the same thing shortly after World War II.

After a truncated federal investigation and trial, Stephen was sentenced to three years in a federal penitentiary for “gross negligence” that led to the deaths of countless Iraqis and Syrians. After cutting a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice where Dylan agreed to step down as CEO of Perseus Analytics and “retire” from public life, he was able to avoid any prison time if he agreed to pay a hefty fine. He did. As one of the youngest billionaires in the world, the fine was substantial but not life-altering. It was just money, not his freedom. Stephen Callahan, on the other hand, took the fall. A few others served much lighter prison sentences, but that didn’t stop Dylan from becoming a public pariah. Many said he got away with murder. Even members of his own family told the media that Dylan deserves jail time! That led to an estrangement that continues to this day.

And in the blink of an eye, Dylan Tanaka went from a beloved celebrity to genocidal monster.

Whew.

Most of his friends and family abandoned him. His own university unceremoniously stripped him of his degree. After cleaning house, Perseus Analytics rebranded as The McDermott Corporation (named after the brand-new CEO, Amanda McDermott, a woman Dylan briefly dated before the New York Times’s bombshell report ruined his life). All mentions of Dylan were scrubbed from the company’s website and social media channels. He was erased. Cancelled. Exiled. Ostracized. Turned into a “persona non grata.”

For the past four years, Dylan has lived quietly in his mansion in Seattle, rarely going out in public or doing anything worthwhile. He has no friends or acquaintances who are willing to be seen with him. Nobody who values their professional and personal reputations wants anything to do with Dylan Tanaka. He still sees (some of) his family during the holidays, but rarely outside of that. He is alone.

But not totally alone.

Still flushed with plenty of cash, Dylan decided to live his life the best he can despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. Just because he’s considered a war criminal in the eyes of an outraged public doesn’t mean he can’t do what he loves. And what does Dylan love?

Muscular women.

Dylan has befriended – although he knows better than to actually consider them real friends – several female bodybuilders and athletes throughout the years. Either inviting them over to his home or visiting them in their hotel rooms, Dylan figures if he can’t live a normal life, why not enjoy the stripped-down existence he currently has to suffer through? So as often as he can (averaging two or three times a month), Dylan sets up meetings with female bodybuilders so he can enjoy some companionship outside of Henry, Lawrence, or Joey (a weird but reliable landscaper who comes over periodically). He pays them for their time, of course, which is why he’s reluctant to call any of them “friends.” During their time together Dylan touches, kisses, and massages their muscles to his heart’s delight. In return, his female companions usually give him either a hand job or blow job to ensure he leaves the encounter perfectly contented.

He knows their relationship is strictly professional, but at least it’s something. Dylan has met at least 50 female bodybuilders in his life, many of them multiple times. But out of all of them, Melanie Wright, Peggy Cole, and Monique St. Martin are his three favorite. Dylan secretly is one of Monique’s sponsors, as he’s followed her Olympic career from the very beginning. He’s met Melanie dozens of times. She’s even told him that she considers him a real friend. But he still pays her nevertheless, mostly out of kindness.

His relationship with Peggy and Monique is more business-like, but still close. Monique allows Dylan to touch her body but has limitations when it comes to sex. Melanie and Peggy, however, have no limitations. He’s made love to both women many times throughout the years.

Dylan’s interest in muscular women began when he was 12 years old. He was always interested in sports like baseball, football, and basketball. One aimless Sunday afternoon his dad took him to a used bookstore. After perusing through dusty books and finding nothing interesting, he stumbled upon a bin full of old sports magazines. They were on sale. Five magazines for $4. Not a bad deal! Dylan looked through almost all of them, selecting an issue of Sports Illustrated and a few ones previewing the upcoming baseball season. Then, he found it.

An old issue of Muscle & Fitness from 1985.

On the cover was Cory Everson, who at the time was in the middle of a Ms. Olympia winning streak that ended up lasting six years. It was his first time ever seeing a photograph of a muscular woman. Not just that, but a beautiful muscular woman with a bright, friendly smile. Dylan could not stop staring at it. He probably looked at that cover for a solid five minutes without moving. He had to have it. His dad didn’t notice what his son decided to buy (he figured they were all baseball related), so Dylan felt like he got away with something naughty without being caught.

That night – and several nights afterward – he masturbated in the privacy of his bedroom to a two-page spread of Ms. Everson flexing her big, sleek muscles. It was an eye-opening experience. He just started noticing girls but fantasized about more “traditional” women like Pamela Anderson, Cindy Crawford, and Carmen Electra. He had no idea there were women in this world with big muscles. Women who lifted really heavy weights like Arnold Schwarzenegger. They weren’t as big as Arnold, but they were pretty damn impressive!

It was a revelation. An epiphany. A mind-blowing discovery. He knew he liked looking at pictures of beautiful women…but women with muscles? How crazy is that?

Young Dylan knew this was strange. He knew he could never tell another soul about this. So, he kept this his little secret. Nobody ever found out about his massive crush on big buff ladies. Whenever he could he returned to that used bookstore and eventually started to buy bodybuilding/fitness magazines with his own money. He flipped through all of them to make sure they didn’t just feature buff guys. The ones that showcased ladies were his for the taking. And he took them home and hid them under his bed. He made sure his mom never found them. Every night until he left for college he jerked off to photos of some of the world’s most famous FBBs: Cory Everson, Rachel McLish, Carla Dunlap, Lenda Murray, Bev Francis, Peggy Schoolcraft, and famous fitness competitors like Monica Brant and Deidre Pagnanelli. He knew all their names, faces, birthdays, hometowns, competitive history, and measurements.

He was obsessed with muscular women. He thought about them day and night. But throughout his many years fixating over female bodybuilders, he never ever told a single soul about it. Not even his pet dog knew about his scandalous fetish. It was a closely guarded secret. Even today it’s still a secret, though to a slightly lesser degree. Dylan’s domestic employees know about it. The female bodybuilders he’s met over the years know about it (obviously). But that’s it. Nobody else.

He’s sworn every FBB he’s ever met to secrecy. They are to never tell anyone that Dylan Tanaka is one of their loyal clients. Ever. Being “outed” like that would be an utter embarrassment. So far, so good. Female bodybuilders who provide muscle worship sessions are great at respecting and maintaining privacy. He has no worries of his secret being exposed to the public. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d ever be humiliated on the world stage.

“Breakfast is served!” Henry enters the dining room, places the frittata and a cup of coffee in front of Dylan, and notices the magazine lying face down. “Anything else, Boss Man?” This pleasant interruption disrupts Dylan’s unpleasant trip down memory lane. He shakes his head.

“Nah, I think that’s it. Looks absolutely delicious!” Dylan takes a bite out of his breakfast, savoring every morsel of flavor. “You’ve outdone yourself, my friend. Incredible.”

“Thanks my man!” Before returning to the kitchen, Henry turns to his boss and asks in a lowered voice: “Tomorrow morning, before she leaves, can I spend some time with Peggy? After watching her latest video, wow! I got to have some of that!”

Peggy’s primary source of income isn’t bodybuilding, but instead being a webcam performer. As a fairly well-known “celebrity” in the world of adult entertainment, Peggy boasts a regular following of 1,260,000+ people from around the world. You don’t need to speak the same language in order to understand that watching a beautiful muscular woman strip naked in her bedroom and masturbate is a sexy thing to behold. Not unexpectedly, her large subscriber base doesn’t just supplement her income. It is her income. And also unexpectedly, Henry is one of those subscribers who pays a modest monthly sum to watch her “do her thing.”

Dylan too. This goes without saying.

“I can’t guarantee anything, but what I’ll say is this,” Dylan begins. Henry is nearly drooling with anticipation. “I’ll ask her if she has time before she has to leave for her flight. Of course, I can’t guarantee anything. But it never hurts to ask. How does that sound?”

Henry’s eyes get really big, a sure sign that he’s responding positively to this proposition. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. That sounds good with me! I’ll make sure to say hi to her when she arrives for dinner. Maybe that’ll sway her. You know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.”

Henry returns to the kitchen, laughing to himself. Dylan didn’t ask what’s for dinner, but he’s assuming it’s going to be absolutely delicious. For special gatherings – and yes, Dylan occasionally hosts dinner parties with non-female bodybuilders – Henry has an impeccable record of choosing a menu that makes all the guests happy. From braised lamb shanks to grilled salmon to carbonara to prime rib to sushi to Korean tofu soup, Henry can cook anything. Anything. Any culture, any region, for any occasion. In addition to their shared love for muscular women, his culinary skills are the primary reason why Henry has been employed by Dylan for so long. That is, after all, why one keeps a chef around.

A few moments pass in silence. Eventually, Dylan begins to eat his frittata. After dreading it, Dylan picks up the magazine and opens it to a random page somewhere in the middle. Thankfully, a story asking for Dylan to be incarcerated in a French Revolution-style “eat the bourgeoisie” class war doesn’t appear. Some random story about the Chinese government hacking into the CIA’s database. As if that’s any more comforting.

Eating and sipping his coffee in silence, Dylan decides he should simply enjoy his breakfast so he could prepare for what should be the best weekend of his life. He learned at an early age that if you let negative emotions fester too long inside your mind, it will have a direct impact on your entire life moving forward. This weekend is intended to be one of the greatest of his life, so he better get his head right if that’s going to be the case. The outside world may hate his guts, but inside his own little kingdom he’s in control of what happens. And he knows the three guests whom he cordially invited to his home love him for who he is, not for what he’s done. It’s a comforting feeling to be around people who truly care for you.

A half an hour later, Dylan returns his dirty dishes to the kitchen. Henry has left for the morning – probably off to run errands – and Lawrence is nowhere to be seen. Dylan looks out the kitchen window overlooking Lake Washington. It’s a gorgeous day, with the weather forecast promising an even greater weekend. He hears the faint sound of a chainsaw roaring away in the backyard. That must be Joey, Dylan’s stoner landscaper who comes around usually once or twice a month. Usually on a Saturday. Today being Saturday, that makes perfect sense.

After putting on a pair of shoes, Dylan takes a stroll outside to see what Joey’s working on today. He immediately smells the strong odor of marijuana emanating from the backyard toolshed. Dylan isn’t a smoker himself and has no problems with people smoking reefer – even while on the job. But that still doesn’t change the fact that the reek of pot bothers him. But not enough to tell Joey to stop doing it while on his property. Dylan tends to be a “live and let live” kind of guy. He’ll give him a pass.

The ruckus caused by the chainsaw is probably powerful enough to wake up the whole neighborhood. Either that or the smell of weed. Dylan’s 6,125 square foot property boasts a massive backyard designed in the style of a traditional Japanese garden. In the middle is a large lotus pond that snakes around almost ¾ of the whole property. The lip of the pond feeds into a small waterfall that flows downward toward the beach. That water then gets recirculated back into the top of the pond, located adjacent to a massive cherry blossom that still takes his breath away even to this day. The rest of the yard consists of lines of willow trees (which Joey is most likely trimming with the chainsaw), lanterns, a gorgeous walking bridge connecting one end of the lotus pond to the far west side, rocks big enough to sit on, bamboo, Japanese maple, rhododendron, and various other plants and flowers. Many years ago, Dylan hired an architect and his wife – a world famous gardener – to design everything.

They did a bang-up job.

A small chashitsu (a traditional Japanese teahouse) sits in the northeast corner, which serves as a toolshed for Joey (and whenever a professional arborist pays a visit). Sure enough, a few feet away Joey is hard at work trimming some of the overgrown willow trees. He has Beats by Dre headphones on, listening to some kind of music as he works. It’s a good thing he has noise-cancelling headphones on because that chainsaw is so annoyingly loud. If he didn’t, he might go deaf after twenty minutes of having it on.

Dylan waits until Joey stops for a drink of water to interrupt him. “Hey there! How are things going?”

“Oh, hey Mr. Tanaka! Things are going good, nothing to complain about. I got a new chainsaw! Take a look at it.” Joey carelessly waves the sharp blade of the 20-inch gas-powered Helinski Class-A toward his boss’s face. Even as Dylan suddenly leans back, Joey doesn’t seem to notice. “It’s super sharp and cuts through these branches like melted butter. It’s really meant for wood, you know? But it’s all good.”

Admiring the clean, sharp blade and jagged teeth, Dylan gives Joey a courtesy smile and nod. He inspects the willow trees from the top on down. “As long as it gets the job done. I just wanted to say hi and tell you I love your work…but could you do me a favor?”

Joey puts down the chainsaw, removes his headphones (so the music he was listening to wasn’t that loud?), and turns to his boss. “Sure thang, what is it?”

“Could you, uh,” Dylan hesitantly begins, “Could you maybe smoke before you show up to work, as opposed to during? No offense, but it’s sort of messing with my head. I can be oversensitive to smells like that.”

“Oh, that’s weird! Because I ain’t smoke nothing yet today, my man. It must’ve been the neighbors, for real,” Joey says. He must be telling the truth, because when he gets high his Mexican accent comes back. When he’s “sober” – or as sober as he can possibly be – he tends to ditch the accent. “Seriously though, I can smell the pot too. But it ain’t coming from me, I can tell you that homie!”

“Ah. Okay. No worries. It must be the neighbors,” Dylan reassures his nervous employee.

Joey gives Dylan a fist bump and burps loudly. Dylan chuckles. They shake hands. As he proceeds to return to his job, Dylan sniffs the air one more time and notices, strangely enough, that the smell of pot has gone away. Joey is wrong about the neighbors smoking. He highly doubts anyone who lives in this neighborhood would do anything that even resembles rebellious behavior, even though marijuana has been legalized in this state for a few years now.

No worries. Maybe it was his imagination playing tricks on him.

As he looks up, one of the pesky birds who woke him up earlier today is staring right back at him.

“Are you the one who was lighting up this early in the morning?”

The bird does not verbally respond. It then proceeds to fly away to a different tree in someone else’s yard.

“I thought so,” Dylan mutters under his breath.

Truth or Dare (part one)

Perfect abs.

Twice a week, I get to see Shawna.

Shawna is a professional bodybuilder, personal trainer, model, fitness accessory spokeswoman, pornographic actress, and overall Muscle Goddess. I first got acquainted with Shawna at a fitness expo last year when she delivered the keynote address to a room full of hundreds of nutritional experts. I was among those in attendance on that fateful day.

Shawna is the Most Perfect Woman in the World…and I do not mean that lightly. She’s strikingly beautiful, stands at 6-feet tall barefoot, and has bigger muscles than the typical Meathead Bro you see at the gym. She has long blonde hair, ocean blue eyes, curvy hips, and bulging muscles covering every square inch of her incredible physique. She’s absolutely flawless. I don’t know how old she is, but she probably hasn’t hit 40 yet. Or maybe she has. I don’t know. None of that matters. She’s ageless.

I work for Healthy Living Nutrition, a medium-sized startup company that specializes in producing breakfast bars, protein shakes, and hot to-go meals that people can order via an app. Just download the HLN app and within minutes you can plan an entire month’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (not to mention a few snacks here and there).

The app allows users to plot out every single one of their meals in advance and have them shipped to the address (or addresses) of their choice. We began serving clients only in greater Seattle, but have recently expanded to include Spokane, Portland, Coeur d’Alene, Boise, and Redding. We foresee expansion to Los Angeles – which is considered the Holy Grail of markets – and Phoenix within the next two to three years.

But first, we needed a spokesperson who could sell our app to the bodybuilding community. We’ve already enlisted pro baseball, football, basketball, and tennis players, respectively. Now we need an “in” with bodybuilders, figure competitors, fitness models, and anyone who aspires to become one of those. When me and a colleague registered to attend this fitness conference, I knew Shawna could be that “foot in the door” that we so desperately needed.

And as it turned out, she was.

My co-worker Dale and I chatted with Shawna after the expo ended over glasses of wine and plates of cheap happy hour nachos. We told her she can use the app for free for an entire month, report back to us how she felt about it, and choose to endorse it if she wanted to. We told her the percentage of our profits that she can earn in a year, which appeared to go over well with her. She agreed to our deal, downloaded the app onto her phone, and went about her merry way. Dale and I felt happy about ourselves, all the while staring helplessly at her impressive, angelic muscular body.

“Holy shit, she’s perfect. She can’t possibly be human,” Dale quipped after she left.

“The amazing thing is that she is human,” I said. “She looks like that because she dedicates her entire life to looking like that. It didn’t happen by accident.”

“Damn,” Dale replied, downing the rest of his wine. “So fucking gorgeous.”

A month passes and Shawna emails me saying she loves the app and would be happy to endorse it in our upcoming advertising blitz. She signed her name on the dotted line and agreed to keep using the app for at least a year and appear in several promotional videos, radio hits, and social media posts. I got a promotion. Dale ended up leaving the company after being plucked by a competitor. His replacement ended up being a dopey idiot fresh out of college. Life moves on.

Factory where pre-packaged food is made.

Me being promoted meant I had to move to a different city. Now I reside in Santa Monica, right in the heart of where we want our business to expand to. I guess the logic is that if the company moves its best people into a desirable target market…eventually that’ll mean we will successfully penetrate that market. We’ll see if it actually works.

Shawna, coincidentally, also lives in the area – albeit Torrance. We’ve met up a few times to discuss business-related items, chat about our lives, and complain about the things regarding the fitness industry that drive us up a wall. As it turns out, we both hate everything Planet Fitness stands for and would love to see its business model burn to the ground. Great minds think alike, right?

My office is located within walking distance of the factory where we produce our breakfast bars. Every day we churn out tens of thousands of granola bars and ship them to gyms, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and online retailers across the country. And occasionally, out of the 25,000 we produce daily, a good dozen or so will be “unfit” for sale.

What does “unfit” for sale mean exactly? It could mean a variety of things. A bar could accidentally get smashed, come out wrongly shaped, not fit within the designated packaging, or fall on the floor when a clumsy warehouse worker nears the end of his shift. Regardless, we normally toss out the “bad” bars so that the public doesn’t see them. We can’t allow our newly developed brand to be sullied in any way.

Sometimes, employees will steal a few bars that didn’t make the final cut when nobody is looking. There’s technically no internal rules against that, although the higher ups at Corporate would prefer these misshapen bars never see the light of day. Heaven forbid if a random guy on the street accidentally sees one of our breakfast bars with an unauthorized crack down the middle. That’ll spell our inevitable doom for sure.

Recently, I got the brilliant idea of delivering some of these misshapen bars to our favorite customer – Shawna. These bars don’t taste all that great, but they aren’t supposed to. They pack a nutritional punch, stuffing in every single vitamin and mineral known to mankind in a single bite. They’re supposed to help bodybuilders get “gains,” and that’s exactly what they do. Shawna recognizes and appreciates these benefits better than anyone. That’s why she’s our #1 spokeswoman.

Whew. Deep breath.

All of that is to say that twice a week, I come over to Shawna’s home and deliver to her as many “unfit” breakfast bars as I can manage. I usually visit on Tuesdays and Fridays, but sometimes I come on a Thursday if she plans on being busy the next day. I have no life, so it doesn’t matter to me when I get to meet her. No girlfriend, no kids, no hobbies, no nothing outside of work. It’s depressing, but I try to not think about it too often.

I should also hurry up and mention that because these bars are so super nutritious, they’re also super expensive. $8 per bar. Yeah, that’s quite a lot. But they’re supposed to supply an entire meal’s worth of nutrition in a few bites, so they’re pricy for a reason. The bean counters aren’t just making this up out of thin air. Shawna likes them a lot but can’t afford to purchase too many of them legitimately.

A plate of granola bars.

So, that’s where I come into play.

I give her free breakfast bars twice a week. Each delivery could be worth up to $100. That’s a lot of free stuff. Although, it’s not completely free.

Nope. She does pay me.

In sexual favors.

I usually arrive at her house between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m., depending on traffic (and, for the record, traffic really sucks in California). I park my car in her driveway, take out a non-conspicuous looking brown cardboard box out of the trunk, and casually walk to her front door. I knock three times. Within 30 seconds she opens it. We kiss each other on the cheek. We exchange pleasantries for a couple of minutes. Sometimes she offers me iced tea or lemonade. I graciously accept. I politely drink it all, whether I like it or not. She takes the box of contraband granola bars from me and stashes it away in her kitchen.

Then, she dims the lights, closes the shades, turns on some quiet music, and strips naked.

I also strip naked.

We enter her living room and begin the festivities. She poses for me. She shows off her muscles. She goes to the gym and trains five days a week, with Tuesday and Friday being her two off-days (hence, this is why I visit her on these days). She’s a Tall Blonde Muscle Goddess who stands – I believe I’ve said this before – 6-feet tall without shoes on. She’s a marvel to look at. From head to toe, she’s ripped. Completely ripped. Jacked up. Her biceps are larger than my legs. Her legs are larger than my torso. Her torso is larger than…a freight train? A Mack truck? A Boeing 747?

I touch her body. I sometimes rub oil on it. I worship her muscles. We almost never talk during our “play time.” I kiss her skin as she flexes. Occasionally, when she’s in the mood, she’ll lie down on the sofa and spread her legs wide, revealing her swollen clitoris.

It’s huge. HUGE. Three inches long when fully erect. That’s not a fucking joke. I’m not exaggerating one fucking bit. Her clit is that enormous. Unbelievably enormous. It defies science. And that’s an understatement.

Eye-popping. Jaw-dropping. Heart-stopping. And highly erotic.

After she spreads her legs, I get down on my knees and suck on it. I suck on it until she comes. She’ll come multiple times. At first, I was terrible at it. But after repeated attempts, I’ve become exceptionally good at it. Shawna’s coached me on how to properly give her cunnilingus. She explicitly tells me how to use my tongue, lips, and fingers to my advantage. Now, I can play her like a fiddle. I know how to give her pleasure that literally makes her scream.

Shawna could be a taller Lindsay Mulinazzi. Note: This story is fictional and does not reflect any real world experiences.

I know how to give her satisfying climaxes that make her entire body shudder. I know how to prolong her orgasm just long enough to make her beg me to finish the job. I know how to tease her, how to torture her, how to make her teeter just long enough on the edge of orgasm but deny her the conclusion she seeks. And once she does reach that orgasmic climax, it’s the greatest orgasm she’s ever experienced…up to that point, of course.

Once I’ve satisfied her, she enthusiastically returns the favor. Most of the time, she’ll give me a simple hand job. Occasionally, a blow job. But that’s it. Those are my two options. We’ve given each other oral and manual stimulation hundreds of times, but we’ve never had actual penetrative sex. She has strict boundaries, and I respect those boundaries.

I always respect her boundaries.

Although she’s not currently married (she’s been divorced twice before) and doesn’t appear to be in a relationship with anyone (that I can tell), she doesn’t want to cross that threshold with me. She says it’s not personal. It’s strictly a professional choice. I dutifully accept that explanation.

“In a weird way, this is a business transaction,” Shawna once said to me moments after cleaning up my semen off her neck. “An unconventional business transaction, but a business transaction nevertheless. Wouldn’t you say?”

“I would agree with that,” I replied.

So we’ve never had sex – at least, “sex” properly understood and traditionally defined. But we’ve been very intimate with each other. Many times. During the past year I’ve spent countless hours with her clitoris in my mouth. She’s had my semen smeared on almost every imaginable place of her magnificent body. Yet, we’ve never gone “all the way.” I don’t think we’ll ever get there.

Shawna is a unique kind of person, both externally and internally. She obviously looks different on the outside – not too many “normal” women have muscles as big as an NFL linebacker – in every conceivable way. But on the inside, she’s both open to talking about her life and extremely guarded in other areas.

For example, she rarely talks about her kids. During one moment when both of us were slightly drunk, she revealed that she has four kids. She first became pregnant when she was 15. Her second born arrived when she was 17. Her other two kids were born when she was 18 and 20, respectively. She’s now in her late 30s or early 40s, and her youngest child is now old enough to be a college student. Yikes.

The father of her first child was a 15-year-old kid just like her. He panicked, ran away from home, and later joined the Army. He was deployed to Iraq shortly afterward and came home in a body bag. Very tragic. The father of her second child was a Catholic missionary who apparently tried out the “missionary” position with her. That’s no joke. When she became pregnant and refused to have an abortion, he quit his job, renounced his Catholicism, and committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. Yet another senseless tragedy.

This is what Shawna’s home looks like.

Her other two children were the product of her first marriage. I don’t know much about this guy. She didn’t have any kids with her second husband. I also don’t know much about him.

Her first husband was 25 years her senior, and her second husband was born two weeks earlier than she was. She’s now single…and definitely not ready to mingle. She says she has no intention of getting married ever again.

I don’t know which of her kids are male and female. They could all be boys or they could all be girls. Or somewhere in between. It’s probably somewhere in between. But at the end of the day, I don’t know much about this part of her life. And that’ll probably be the way things remain.

As I pull up to her driveway for the umpteenth time, I think about whether or not her kids are aware of what Mom has to do in order to get her daily quota of protein, vitamins, and minerals. I’d rather not ponder that, but how can the thought not cross my mind?

I knock on the door and wait. The wait is shorter than normal.

“Hello sweetie! Come on in,” Shawna greets me after opening the door.

I step into her house and take off my shoes. I try to not notice the glaring hole in my left black sock, exposing my big toe for everyone to see. It’s embarrassing, but Shawna is like an old buddy to me. A buddy with big muscles. And the Universe’s Largest Clit.

Her house smells like freshly coated paint. I hope I don’t start to sneeze.

“Did you finally repaint the bathroom?”

“Yes, I did! Thank you for noticing,” she says. I drop a box full of contraband granola bars on the kitchen counter as Shawna deals with something in the dining room. Cleaning up after dinner, perhaps?

Shawna pokes her head in the kitchen with a glass of champagne in hand. “I have an idea for what we can do tonight. It’ll be fun. I think you’ll enjoy it.”

“I’m sure I will. In the mood for something more creative?”

“Yes, I am,” she begins. “I’m feeling a bit adventurous tonight, for some odd reason. Probably because I’m still on cloud 9!”

“Oh? What happened to you?” We move our conversation to the living room. I start to undress like usual until Shawna places her hand on my shoulder, indicating I should stop.

“I just got cast in a movie! It’s not a major Hollywood film, but it’s not a typical porno either. It’s something low budget, independent, and artistic,” she announces.

“That’s awesome! What’s it called?” I kiss her on the cheek to congratulate her.

“It doesn’t have a title yet, but it should soon. It’s basically about a middle-aged couple whose marriage is going through the motions. In order to spice things up, they decide to play a game of erotic Truth or Dare.” Shawna sits us down on the sofa. Even when we’re both sitting, I still have to look up to her. “One of the dares the wife makes to the husband is to hire a female bodybuilder for a competitive wrestling match. You can guess who I play in this little drama.”

“Neat! You play the chauffeur, right?”

Shawna laughs. I do too.

“Not quite. We start filming in two months. Locally, so I don’t need to travel anywhere. However, in the meantime, I thought it would be a cool idea to play our own game of Truth or Dare. What say you?” She stares at me, smiling with a big toothy grin. I cannot think of a reason to refuse her offer.

“Of course! Let’s do it. You can go first if you’d like.”

Shawna sits up and blinks a few times. I feel my heart start to race, as this is a very unusual way for our evening to commence. We’ve settled into a routine. She clearly wants to break this routine, at least for one night.

“I would love to go first,” she says. “Alright. Truth or dare?”

“Dare.”

“Fantastic.” Shawna clears her throat. “I dare you to have anal sex with me. Without protection. Right now.”

The Adventures of Ryan Takahashi: Chapter Eighteen – The Morning After

At 9:45 a.m. I wake up, vaguely remembering my dream. I think it had something to do with going back to school and finishing a biology exam, but I could be wrong. Who needs to dream when real life is so much more exciting?

I lazily turn to my left and see Miss North snoozing like an angel. Her black and gray hair covers her face, shielding her eyes from the sunlight peeking through the blinds. Lovingly, I pull back a lock of her hair and lightly caress her face.

Cindi stirs, feeling my fingers on her cheek. When she takes my finger into her mouth and sucks on it lightly, I know she has fully awoken.

“Good morning, Cindi.”

“Good morning to you, Ryan. You taste sweet.” Nibbling on my finger, I sense that my penis has also woken up from its slumber. As if she has a sixth sense for these things, Cindi reaches down and strokes up and down my shaft, sending goosebumps shivering up my body.

“Thank you, but you’re much sweeter than me.” Kissing her right breast, I gently take her nipple between my lips and play with it with my tongue. Releasing a hushed moan, her fingers wrap tighter around my manhood, as if she’s grabbing onto it for dear life.

“You sure know how to treat a girl right.”

“You’re welcome. I’m just saying thank you for all you did for me last night.”

“Oh, thanks. But remember, lovemaking is a two-way road. You also did things to me as well, wouldn’t you say?” As if trying to job my memory, Cindi cups my scrotum and tenderly squeezes it. I groan, expressing my pleasure.

“Yes, you’re right about that. A lot happened to me last night, but I’m sure it’s just par for the course with you.”

“Are you calling me a whore?” Cindi sounds genuinely offended.

“No! Of course not! I’m just saying–”

“Shhhhhh!!!! Don’t get so chippy! I’m joking, Ryan.”

Cindi releases my testicles and sticks a finger up my anus, just as I did to her last night in the shower. I gasp loudly, but not with the shock of Cindi intruding my body, but with the delightful astonishment of her returning the favor.

“How does it feel to have a woman penetrate you? Does it feel good?” Cindi’s finger digs deeper inside me, as if she’s claiming ownership over me. I have no qualms about Cindi North claiming me as her own.

“It feels…strange. Is this what it feels like…to…you know, be penetrated back there?” I almost stop breathing. My lungs fill with air, but cannot exhale as long as she’s inside me.

“Yes. Because that’s exactly what’s happening to you right now.” Cindi releases her finger from my bottom and kisses me deeply on the lips, tasting every centimeter of my mouth. Our tongues meet, wrestling like two heavyweights grappling on the mat.

“What shall we have for breakfast?” Cindi asks. I struggle to catch my breath as our lips come apart.

“I have no idea. I don’t live here. What do you suggest we have for breakfast?”

“I know exactly what we should eat.” Cindi kisses me again. Then, she grabs my head with both hands and shoves me down toward her pubic mound. Her enormous clitoris stands at attention, ready to be satiated.

“Eat me for breakfast.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I begin by wrapping my lips around her “little penis,” sucking at its head till I hear Cindi let out a loud, uninhibited groan. I then stick one, then two fingers inside her vagina, exploring her inner walls. They are already moist and hot to the touch.

Cindi spreads her bulky legs wide in a spread eagle formation, opening her womanhood wider to me. I notice a small drop of feminine juice leak out from her vulva. It leaves a small, clear stain on the bed sheet. This arouses me further.

My fingers find her g-spot as my tongue continues to punish her clitoris. Waves of sensation pulse through Cindi’s dynamic body, leaving this muscular angel weak and helpless. She is at my mercy, a feeling of domination that sends surges of adrenaline rushing through me.

A third finger enters her, complimenting what my two fingers are already doing. I lightly blow hot air onto her wet clitoris, causing Cindi to gasp even louder than when I gasped. I am still in shock that a woman could be so well endowed. Her “little penis” grows harder and harder, anticipating a raging orgasm.

Cindi grabs my hair and pulls it, almost lifting my mouth off her womanhood. I resist, remaining between her legs, pleasuring her like she pleasured me last night. My three fingers suddenly thrust against her g-spot, forcing a vulgar scream to bellow from her throat.

Finally, Cindi can’t hold it any longer and she climaxes, sending waves of delight streaming across the entire room. Hell, her climax is probably being felt on the Richter scale at this moment!

A clear jet of white, milky fluid escapes from her vagina as her walls contract powerfully. It leaves a significant stain on the sheets, adding to the previous stain she made earlier.

Holy hell.

HOLY FUCK!!!

Did she just ejaculate? Did I just cause Cindi to ejaculate? I think it did.

Hooooooooooooooooooooooooootttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cindi’s breathing calms down and she eventually returns back to planet Earth. Her eyes open and she looks at me, smiling and puffing away.

“Thank you, Ryan. That’s exactly what I wanted.”

“Uh, Cindi, you…kind of…uh…”

“Squirted?”

Her nonchalant answer took me by surprise. I immediately sat up after hearing this singular word escape from her mouth.

“Yes…that’s exactly what I meant. You, um…squirted. All over your sheets.”

“I’ve been known to do that when someone hits my g-spot at the right time with the right amount of force. Congratulations, Ryan. You did something hardly anyone can do without specific instructions.”

I feel proud. Really? Did I just do that? Did I just give her an orgasm so powerful it caused her to ejaculate like a man? WOW!

“Wow. I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t need to say anything. I’m proud of the fact that I can squirt as well as any man.”

Cindi sticks out her chest and beats on her breast like Tarzan. I laugh, causing her to laugh with me. She might be a powerful, dominating, muscular woman, but she’s still a softie at heart. I like this about her.

“Are you sure you can squirt as well as any man?”

“Of course. When properly motivated.”

“Men can squirt pretty well when they’re properly motivated, too.” I nibble on her ear. Taking my not-so-subtle hint, Cindi reaches down and grabs onto my penis with both hands, rubbing up and down furiously.

“I think I know what you mean.”

Before I could speak, Cindi kisses me, an electric shock bolting down my spine. Her fingers wrapped tightly around my manhood, with reckless abandon Cindi strokes up and down, causing my vision to blur. On the apex of the proverbial “Cloud 9,” I feel my orgasm build as her right hand surrounds me, refusing to let go.

“I love this, Ryan. I love this so much!” Cindi whispers into my ear, as if she enjoys giving pleasure as much as she enjoys receiving pleasure. At this point, who could argue either way?

Cindi’s thumb brushes against the tip of my penis, making me shudder. Then she grips the base of my manhood and squeezes it suddenly, sending me over the edge. I climax, powerful spasms rocking my entire being.

Five or six squirts later, I look down and see several drops of my semen lying on her bed sheets, shamelessly sprawled out on top of her womanly juices. We kiss again, but with less ferocity and with more passion.

We both look down at the mess we made and burst out laughing for what seems like ten minutes. Can you believe two mature adults, one 48 and the other 23-years-old, just wet the bed?

Our laughter dies down. Tears are rolling down our faces. We kiss again.

“I’m sorry I stained your sheets.” Embarrassed, I must be red in the face.

Cindi kisses my cheek and smiles.

“It’s okay. I did too!”

We burst out laughing again, this time our laughter lasts an eternity.

Eventually, we clean up our mess and toss the bed sheets into the washing machine. She starts a load of laundry, which includes a large pile of workout shirts, shorts and towels. We put our clothes back on and go downstairs toward the kitchen. It’s now time for REAL breakfast!

Cindi doesn’t feel like cooking, so we eat leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. Who knew quinoa still tastes good the next day?

After breakfast, Cindi takes out the laundry from the washer and places it in the dryer in preparation for her Sunday afternoon workout. Cindi tells me today is a chest day. Imagining Cindi bench press 350 pounds is enough to give me another erection. Surprisingly, I remain settled.

“Can you come over again next Saturday? We can do dinner again.”

“Of course! I’d love to. I think I should bring something else instead of just a bottle of wine. I can cook something!”

“You can do that? I’d love for you to bring something. Just make sure it’s healthy.”

“Without a doubt! I’d never bring anything unhealthy here.”

“I’m just kidding. I do have a sweet tooth. I can be very naughty at times.”

“Tell me about it! You are a naughty girl.” I squeeze her thigh. The feel of her large, muscular legs almost gives me a heart attack.

Cindi plants one last kiss on me as I head out the door. Gasping for air, I decide to hug her. We embrace for a very long time, savoring every moment. I should be thankful for this wonderful, gracious woman. She took me into her home, cooked me a delicious meal, took my virginity and treated me to an evening I will never forget. I’ll never forget this morning, either.

“Thanks, Cindi. For everything.”

“No, Ryan. Thank you. You’re a great guy. I’m glad I know you.” We embrace again, this time under the watchful eye of Cindi’s next door neighbors. Who cares if the whole world sees us like this? They can judge all they want. What we do in our own private time is nobody’s business but our own.

“I’m glad I know you, too. Have a good workout.”

“I will. Thank you.”

The short walk back to my car is very surreal. I came to his house yesterday a virgin, but I left a man. A real man. Yes, Cindi told me I was always a man, but this morning things are totally different. I genuinely feel different. I feel more grown up, more confident, more vibrant.

I can take on the whole world! Nobody can get in my way! Watch out, universe. Ryan Takahashi has arrived, and he’s taking no prisoners!!!

I wave one last time to Cindi as I drive away back to Seattle. She waves back, blowing me an air kiss. I almost hit a mailbox, but swerve out of the way at the last second.

As I drive home, I realize I just had six orgasms in the last twelve hours. Gee, I’m going to be so sore tomorrow!

But it will be well worth it.

VEEEEEEEEEEEERY well worth it.

The Adventures of Ryan Takahashi: Chapter Nine – Job Offer

I wake up the next morning at 10:30 a.m. feeling like a million dollars. My morning erection greets me as I roll on my stomach.

“It’s 10:30? God, Cindi’s already been in the gym for an hour and a half already,” I say to myself.

Lord, that Cindi North. That Muscular Angel is sure something. I’ve never met anybody who even closely resembles Miss North. She’s big, tall, thick, strong as an Olympic weightlifter, funny, compassionate, unapologetically sexual and cute (not super cute, but she’s not bad to look at). Come to think of it, Cindi’s a very pretty woman. Her sharp nose, low cheekbones and masculine-looking eyes may not appear to be too attractive at first, but once I got to know her, she just…became more beautiful. Some women become more beautiful the longer you know them. Cindi is one of those types of women.

After spending a few more minutes fantasizing about Cindi and her incredible body, I hop out of bed and put on a pair of jeans and whatever shirt I can find that doesn’t smell too offensive. This dark red shirt seems sufficient.

*SNIFF*

Yeah, “sufficient” is the right word.

Every Sunday morning I go across the street to D’Angelo’s Café, a cute little neighborhood coffee and sandwich shop. The owner is the mother of one of my best friends from college. I’ve become a regular there and have since come to know all the other regulars. That’s one of the dangers of living within walking distance of a great java dispenser.

I walk outside and take a deep breath. The crisp autumn air smells great against a chilly sunny day. These are the type of fall days I like. I don’t particularly care for the rainy days that we often get here in Seattle. But I’m used to those by now.

As I walk across the street I see a pretty brunette girl jogging by me. She’s wearing a blue tank top and tight black spandex shorts. She’s cute, but she’s no Cindi North. Cindi would dominate that chick.

The moment I walk into D’Angelo’s Café I’m greeted by Sam, a regular patron who happens to be a former 1960s hippie. I’m convinced he’s still a stoner. That has to explain why he’s always eating the blueberry scones, which I don’t particularly like. Sam is an older guy who has long shaggy hair, a white goatee, tattoos all over the place and a wardrobe that looks like something out of the clearance sale at a thrift shop. “Tacky” is Sam’s modus operandi.

“Good morning, chum,” Sam says.

“It’s practically lunchtime, but good morning to you too.”

Sam is reading a Seattle Times and chewing on a day-old croissant. Sam is notorious for always purchasing half-off day-old goods instead of buying anything new. That’s his choice. There’s no law against buying the marked-down stuff.

I look around for Cathy (the owner) and see that she’s nowhere to be found.

“Where’s Cathy?”

Sam is the only other patron in the café at the moment. “I don’t know. She went into the back kitchen a few moments ago and hasn’t come out since.”

Oh great. Now I’m stuck having to talk to this guy. Sam is a nice man, but he can be a real work of art at times. This is the guy who will talk your ear off about whatever governmental conspiracy theory he’s into at the time. Yes, he’s one of those types. But strangely, I can’t quite pinpoint where his political views lie. He believes in conspiracies that draw unflattering conclusions about people on both the left and the right. Maybe even he doesn’t know what he believes.

“I’ll just wait here. She should be coming back soon.”

Sam takes this opportunity to strike.

“I hear you’re looking for another part-time job. Is this true?”

“Yes, sir, that is true. Why? Do you have a lead for me?”

He triumphantly leans back in his chair and flashes a broad, megawatt smile. I think Sam suspects I don’t think the world about him. He obviously has something juicy he wants to share with me and will milk it for all it’s worth.

“As a matter of fact, I do have something for you. Do you want to hear what it is?” he slyly asks. I’m convinced this is going to be something either illegal or related to an impending political and/or social revolution. Is he planning to topple the government and crown himself King of America?

“Sure, I do want to hear what it is. I’m always open to hearing what’s available out there. Tell me, please.”

I look over my shoulder to see if Cathy has returned yet. She has not. Dammit.

Sam slowly stands up like a creeper and grabs my left hand. He pulls me away from the counter and sits me down opposite of him at his table. He burps loudly.

“Pardon me.”

“No problem.” I’m trying not to barf.

“I have a friend who knows someone who can give you a job.”

“So, you’ve never met this person?”

“No, not directly. But I know of him, and that’s all that really matters at this point.”

This sounds suspicious, but what was I expecting? I should be polite and listen to what he has to say. I have no doubt I’ll end up saying “no” at the end. All I really want to do is get my cup of coffee and pastry and GTFO. Where the hell is Cathy?

“What sort of business does this person do?”

“He buys things and sells them back to people.”

“Okay. What sort of things?”

Sam snorts loudly and ogles a young lady walking by the café. She’s a tall blonde wearing long white pants and a dark blue blouse. She’s not the prettiest thing out there, but her long legs are really something to regard. As the girl passes Sam returns his attention to me.

“His name is Theo. A good buddy of mine used to work for him. He doesn’t anymore because he recently moved to Texas. But I’ve heard good things about him.”

“You didn’t answer my question. What sort of things does he sell?” Why was I getting impatient and demanding an answer from him? It’s not like I actually care.

“He sells, well, things that aren’t…uh, quite legal…um, to the rich and wealthy.” Sam’s selective revealing of information tells me what he knows is both very juicy and probably shouldn’t be discussed in a public setting. I guess discretion isn’t terribly important to him.

“Let me guess. He sells cocaine to rich Hollywood types.” It’s an honest guess.

“Not Hollywood types. Theo works and lives up here. He sells stuff like that to those rich Microsoft and Amazon types over on the east side.”

“He’s a dope dealer to the software and Internet moguls in Bellevue and Redmond. Beautiful. And why would you think I’d be interested in this sort of job?”

“It pays really well. And you don’t have to pay taxes, for obvious reasons.”

Sam leans back in his chair and takes a small bite out of his croissant. Out of the corner of my eye I see Cathy come out of the backroom. She looks embarrassed to have a customer present in her establishment and she wasn’t there to serve them immediately. She rushes to the counter and apologizes profusely.

“Ryan! I’m so sorry. I didn’t know anyone was here. I was in the back room making soup, and I had no idea-”

“Don’t worry, Cathy. I was having a pleasant chat with Sam here.”

Cathy is a 50-something year old woman who might be the nicest person I’ve ever met. Cathy was married to her husband for 19 years before he came out of the closet as being gay. That was very surprising. But apparently she wasn’t totally shocked and took it all in stride. They had only one child (Stan, my buddy from college) and their sex life was essentially nonexistent. I know all this because she’s very open about her personal life (Stan is too embarrassed to tell me anything and I don’t blame him), almost to the point that I try to order my coffee and food as quickly as possible so I don’t have to listen to her go off on another one of her stories. Between Cathy and Sam, this can be quite a colorful little place. And I don’t mean color in terms of skin color, if you know what I mean.

“What would you like today?”

“I’ll have a 12 ounce nonfat latte and a strawberry muffin, please. That sounds like that would hit the spot.” Cathy’s strawberry muffins are almost orgasmic. Better than her blueberry scones, which are as dry as the Arizona desert.

“Alright. Are you doing okay there, Sam?”

“I couldn’t be better,” Sam says, still leaning back in his chair dangerously. I’m afraid he’ll fall over and break his neck. That would ruin everybody’s morning.

“Okay. Don’t fall down on me,” Cathy says, placing a newly baked, crisp muffin on a plate. My mouth waters as she hands it to me.

I sit down at a table next to Sam and instantly realize I should have asked for the muffin and the latte “to go,” but that would be weird considering I rarely ask for things to go. Besides, as much as I can’t stand Sam, I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings by running off on him in the middle of our conversation.

“So….are you in?” Sam says, leaning in close to me. I doubt Cathy will be able to hear, considering the sound of her steaming milk is about as quite as a hundred jackhammers working on a busy street all at once.

“I’ll consider it,” I tell him. I really won’t consider it, because committing illegal acts for a living does not sound like my cup of tea. Even though these clients are supposedly “high class,” that doesn’t make it any less illegal. I guess it would limit the chances of me being caught by the police.

“Good. A job offer this good doesn’t happen every day. If you really want to work for my buddy, you know where to find me every week,” he says. With that, Sam gets up, throws away his coffee cup and leaves the café. I breathe a sigh of relief as I watch him clumsily cross the street in the middle of a green light. I’m amazed he hasn’t been hit by a car yet.

By that time Cathy (who can make a great tasting latte faster than a speeding bullet) is done with my drink and places it on the front counter. I get up to retrieve it. I take a small sip and make a subtle sound of approval. Cathy, washing her hands, looks at me with a bright smile on her face.

“What did he want?”

I take another sip and savor the flavor. “Nothing, really. He wanted to offer me a job.”

“A job? What kind of job?”

“Oh, nothing serious. He has a friend who’s looking for some help with a few random things. I told him I’ll consider it, but I won’t really.”

“Good. Anything involving him will be nothing but trouble.”

I sit down and grab the newspaper Sam was previously reading. I take a small nibble at my delicious strawberry muffin and look up at Cathy.

“I agree.”