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Cud Flashes In the Pan
This month’s theme-
Love and Lust:
It’s So Unusual, Part 1
Cyndi Lauper is more than just a 1980s pop icon. She is a feminist icon who has also championed such causes as gay rights, and she has never been afraid to tackle controversial topics—or to tell real stories of the terrible consequences that can happen to women as a result of the laws we have. Consider her song “Sally’s Pigeons” from 1993, which told the real story of how her childhood friend got pregnant as a teenager and died as a result of a back-alley abortion. This sort of thing should NEVER happen in this country, but if we keep bowing to religious pressure they sure as hell will keep happening.
So it’s time for another Cud Flashes with stories inspired by song titles. This month will feature four dystopian stories with four more coming in March. Unlike some of the dystopian fiction I’ve written on The Cud, these stories are frighteningly possible in the near future as far-right conservatism works to roll back the rights and equal status of women. I usually do “Love and Lust” as the underlying theme in February; seven of these stories fit that, but one does not. All speak to the dangers of what might come.
“I Drove All Night”
By David M. Fitzpatrick
I drove all night. Interstate 95 is a long and lonely road through Maine, but it’s the most direct way to get to New Brunswick from Virginia Beach. I left after an early supper, donning my scrubs and telling my husband that I had to work for a double at the hospital even as he had to go out of town for a week, and headed north. It was a sixteen-hour drive, but I gave myself twenty for rest stops. I’ve always peed a lot on road trips.
I hated lying to Jim, but he couldn’t know about the crime I was committing. Plausible deniability, you know? At the first stop before I left town, I fueled up and changed out of my scrubs and into something more comfortable for such a trip: a relaxed skirt, a loose blouse, and Crocs. Much better.
Once you get into Maine, it’s a lot of pine trees. It wasn’t much past daybreak when I made it to Bangor and got off the highway to pick up Route 9, which I’d take for the last two hours of my trip. I gassed up at a station in Brewer and got another energy drink and some donuts. I was still awake and functioning entirely because of nonstop caffeine, but I was nearing the end of my available stamina.
It was six in the morning, and the pumps were busy with people starting their days. I took the opportunity to tear my car apart just one more time. I knew the border would be a challenge, and they were apt to search my car for any contraband or anything incriminating. Even though I’d done this several times before leaving Virginia, I did it once again. I was standing with the back door open, bent over and checking under the driver’s seat, when the catcalls started. I hadn’t even considered that my skirt, while not super-short, was riding up quite a bit since I was bent over like that. I was tired. It had been a long night.
It started with a whistle, followed by, “Bet you love bending over with an ass like that.” I realized that my position was asking for leering eyes, but that didn’t mean that they had to make such rude comments. I tried to ignore whoever it was.
“Love those pink panties, sweetie,” another voice said.
I reached back and tugged the waistband of my skirt down a bit so that the hemline would drop. I wouldn’t give them the dignity of a response. If Jim were here, he’d take out both of them for what they were saying.
“Check out those sweet titties,” said a third voice.
That’s when I realized that my blouse was hanging low. Even though I was wearing a bra, they no doubt had a good view of my breasts hanging there as I bent over. I felt myself flush red as I stood up and jammed the blouse into my pants. It wasn’t even the kind of blouse you were supposed to tuck in.
I heard the men laughing behind me and glanced over quickly. The three of them were staring at me, and I went from uncomfortable to alarmed. Just when I was starting to wonder if I’d have to scream for help, they piled into a pickup truck, laughing at their manliness at making a woman feel like a helpless piece of meat who was only there for them to ogle, and they drove off.
I let out a shuddering breath and returned to checking the car over. I tucked my skirt under my thighs and crouched this time, and kept alert for anyone else in the parking lot.
I don’t blame them for looking, really. I get it. A beautiful women bent over at the waist, with her short skirt showing off her underwear, and her breasts hanging out of her blouse? Of course they’re going to look. But why the hell do they think it’s okay to say things like that? Just once it would be nice if a man politely called for my attention and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, you’re exposing yourself.”
“Why, thank you for telling me, sir,” I’d say. “I appreciate that.”
But no. They just behave like pigs—pigs who are the driving force behind all the laws that limit women’s rights. They’re why I have to be on the road for twenty hours, why I have to visit a foreign country, why I’ll lie about my mission to everyone, and why I have to risk prison time.
I scoured the car until I was sure—once again—that there was nothing incriminating anywhere inside, and then I hit the road. I drove rural Route 9 through the eastern wilderness of Maine, and soon enough I was in the small city of Calais, on the American side. They pronounce it “CAL-iss,” not “cal-AY” as the French speakers across the St. Croix River might. But none of that mattered; what mattered was the border crossing.
It used to be easy to go to Canada, because you only dealt with the Canadian border guards on the way in. You didn’t have to deal with the American border guards until you came back. But not these days. Oh, no. With the fearmongering by the government, now you had to go through a U.S. checkpoint even if you’re leaving. And suddenly there I was, the next car, and the female border agent waving me forward. I’d rehearsed this in my mind a thousand times—what I would say, how I would answer, the way I’d behave, planning for every possible contingency. I had an elaborate fiction planned to be as believable as I could be. I was visiting my friend in St. Stephen and for a few days, then returning with her to Maine to spend a week at a family camp on nearby Meddybemps Lake, where we would plan my wedding, which would happen next summer, with my fiancé who is from this part of Maine, and so on—all a complete fiction, but I’d practiced on being very good at delivering those lies.
I handed over my passport and the guard took it, and despite my plans and rehearsals I felt my heart pounding. I just knew I looked guilty. She looked over my passport and then at me.
“What is your purpose in Canada?” she asked. She was beautiful, a bit older than me, and she wore a short-sleeved, olive-green shirt. Her brass nameplate told me that her last name was BLACKMUN. Her olive-green pants matched her shirt, with a black stripe up the sides, and her black shoes were polished like mirrors. She wore a light-colored hat that looked like something that state troopers wore.
“Just visiting a friend in St. Stephen,” I said, casual and relaxed… but then I fell apart. I began rambling nonstop, spewing out my entire fake story about wedding plans and camping and my fiancé’s life in Maine and I realized that the guard was staring at me, her brow raised in obvious alarm as I robotically recited all these facts that she hadn’t even asked for.
I stopped in mid-sentence and met her cold, dark eyes. I could feel the fear on my face, and I knew that she could see it. And in that traded look between us, I knew that she had somehow looked into my mind and knew that something was very suspicious.
“All right,” she said after a long moment, and he handed my passport back to me with a smile. “Thank you, ma’am. Have a good day.”
When I look back on it, I think Border Patrol Agent Blackmun knew exactly what I was up to. If so, then she understood.
* * *
What a series of lies.
I’d already lied to my husband, the man who was the most important person in my life. He knew that I was pregnant, but we both wanted to abort. We’d had to resign ourselves to accepting the risk. Under the law, abortion is legal under any circumstances, including the fact that this pregnancy was likely to kill me should it go to term.
Now I’d lie to the American Border Patrol when I came back through, and try to hide the fact that I’d had an abortion in Canada. I’d lie to my family. I’d lie to my friends. And I’d lie to everyone for the rest of life if I didn’t want to end up in prison for murder. I’d tell Jim when I got back, and he’d be happy that my life was no longer at risk, but terrified that I’d be discovered. Abortion could get you imprisoned—in some cases executed. Better that I died along with the fetus, they say, than just the fetus.
It was a lot to risk. But sometimes we have to take a lot of risk to fight for our rights.
“Time After Time”
By David M. Fitzpatrick
Jennifer had slipped out of her father’s house after lunch, as she did every weekend. It was her weekly walk in the woods, she’d tell everyone. Of course, she made a beeline for the old shed in the woods.
It was built of logs with an old metal roof, a remnant from when it had stood at the end of some farmer’s field decades before. Now, trees had grown up around it, so the field was a hundred feet away. It was nicely obscured, brown logs and green moss helping it blend in nicely. It was sagging a bit but mostly in good shape. She flew the door open—easy, since Robert had fixed the old thing so that it more or less opened and closed—and found the inside as neat as she had left it.
The shed was barely ten feet on a side, and some old, rusted tools still hung on the wall. The floor was a bit warped but still sturdy. Jennifer quickly opened the old storage box and pulled out the pile of old blankets she had long before hidden there. She quickly spread them on the floor, double-folded, creating a decent bed—soft and thick.
She had just finished and stood when the door flew open. She spun to see Robert, and they beheld each other—he in his jeans and T-shirt, she in her sundress. They stared at each other, eyes wide, for several seconds before Robert threw the door shut behind him and they collided into each other’s arms, kissing. Waves of love and passion washed through Jennifer, speeding up her heart and heating up that most private part of her body. She felt his passionate kiss, felt his broad chest, felt his muscular arms holding her, and felt his erection growing longer and harder against her belly.
He broke the kiss long enough to say, “I’ve missed you so much!”
“I’ve missed you too,” she said, but she was so wet, and she needed to make love with him right then. She fumbled at his belt and got his pants open, even as he pulled the zipper of her dress down in the back. In another minute, they were naked, and he laid her down on the bed of blankets. He rolled on a condom and then he kissed her as he moved between her thighs.
He slid easily into her soaking-wet womanhood, and she cried out in pleasure. The next half hour was a blur of ecstasy that threatened never to end. He moved in and out of her slowly at first, then fast and furious, and then he was slow again. She thrust her hips to meet him, eager to feel that peak of pleasure—and he brought her there, over and over, time after time, until he could feel her quaking body and know that she couldn’t take it any longer. Then he picked up his pace until she was screaming in one final, explosive orgasm, and he roared and came, collapsing on her, her arms and legs wrapped around her.
They recovered some time later and cuddled together on the blankets.
“We can’t keep doing this,” Robert finally said.
Her head was on his chest, and she looked up at him in surprise. “Why not?”
“We do this once a week, like some dirty secret,” he said. “We need to be married, so that we don’t have to hide it.”
“You know my father will never allow it now. And I won’t be of legal age for another four years.”
He sighed and held her close. “It’s ridiculous. Boys are legally men by age twenty-two. So why are girls not legally women until twenty-six? It’s just ridiculous.”
“I agree, but that’s the law. Only after I turn twenty-six will my father no longer own me.” She propped herself up on her elbow to look at him. “We have to wait until I’m an adult.”
“We shouldn’t have to wait. Your father should grant us marriage.”
“But he never will. You know he doesn’t like you.”
Robert sighed, got up, and began dressing. She followed suit, pulling her sundress back on. Robert was oddly silent and it worried Jennifer. She stepped in front of him, back-to, so that he could zip her dress up.
“You should be happy to make love to me every week for the next four years,” she said.
He pursed his lips. “Can we really do this? Time after time? Sneaking away to screw in an old shed, once a week, never spending the night together? Never making a life together? Will that really make us happy?”
“If we have no other choice. Would you rather break up? There are plenty of fathers who would give their daughters to you in marriage.”
He slid his shoes on. “You know I only want you. But none of this is right. A man shouldn’t own a girl, and certainly not her father until she’s twenty-six. Did you know that a long time ago that men and woman were legal age at eighteen?”
“I can’t even imagine it!”
Robert stood before her, taking her hands in his. “I love you, Jennifer, and I’ll take however much of you I can get. Even if they can imprison me for having sex with your father’s property.”
He kissed her then, and in that kiss was as much passion as the lovemaking they’d just experienced. When their lips parted, he said, “You need to hurry back before someone notices.”
And with that he left the shed, leaving the door open, and Jennifer stood there and watched him move through the woods toward the field until he was out of sight.
Four more years until she was twenty-six. She was her father’s property until then. Other fathers released daughters to be married, but he’d never liked Robert and would never change his mind. Jennifer knew that they were relegated to sneaking around, once a week, only living half a life. It had been so exciting and so acceptable for so long, but now… now it was beginning to feel hopeless. How could she feel so hopeless when making love with Robert was so incredible?
But she knew the answer. Her love was limited, and she was owned. It was the worst thing ever.
She stood there in the doorway and cried.
By David M. Fitzpatrick
Lydia left work, but of course she couldn’t go home. She had a stop to make first. If she didn’t, she thought she might explode.
She wove her way through the throngs of people swarming the city sidewalks, her well-used old backpack slung over one shoulder. She wore faded denim jeans and her favorite red coat, the one that cost her more than she could afford—especially at her minimum-wage job at the fast-food joint she’d just left. It was the only thing she’d splurged on in two years. It was why she still used her high-school backpack nine years after graduating. She gripped its strap and felt the frayed edges. It would last a while longer. Right now, she just couldn’t let anyone know what she had in there.
She kept her eyes down, not wanting to meet the gaze of any strangers coming at her. She knew that they couldn’t read her mind, but somehow she felt that they might anyway, and she felt guilty even though she knew she shouldn’t have to. The crowds thinned as she walked a dozen blocks from downtown, toward the outskirts. She saw the police car up ahead, lights flashing, pulled over and blocking an alley. Her heart beast faster, even though she knew that the cops couldn’t possibly know her secret. She slowed, but there was nowhere to go—too much traffic in the street. She just had to walk around the cop car. She felt herself holding her breath as she gripped the backpack’s strap ever tighter.
Lydia kept her eyes down, grateful that her long, blond hair concealed her face. She walked around the cop car, stealing a quick look down the alley. There she saw three teenage boys with two cops, and she heard one of the cops, a big white guy, speaking.
“You just can’t jerk off in an alleyway,” he scolded. “I get it, it’s a fun dare, but stop it.”
“Go around back of the building if you’re gonna circle jerk, you dummies,” said his fat black partner.
Anger boiled within Lydia, but she picked up her pace and kept walking. She soon turned down her street and passed more buildings—not so many stories as before, and looking a bit more disheveled. Soon, she saw the six-story apartment building that was home. But of course she walked right past her stoop and kept going down the street. Her apartment wasn’t safe. Not for this. That nosy Mrs. Costello could hear everything through the paper-thin walls, and she didn’t need the old bat calling the cops. The last time, Mrs. Costello had just threatened. The next time, the cops would be at Lydia’s door and might even catch her in the act.
The neighborhood gave way to smaller, dilapidated buildings, and soon she saw the sign: WOMEN’S CENTER, it said. It had closed two years before, since the new federal laws prohibited them from doing just about anything they had done. No abortions, no contraceptives, no contraceptives—hell, they couldn’t even offer family-planning advice. And they certainly couldn’t help Lydia with what she had in her backpack—or what she was going to do.
Guilt washed over her, and that infuriated her. She shouldn’t have to feel guilty! And she shouldn’t have to go where she was going.
She hurried on, down the block and around the corner, where the street was lined with two dozen abandoned buildings. She found her familiar location and peeked in the window. It was empty; no street kids hanging out. She went around back, carefully looking with nervous blue eyes. No one out there.
The back door was locked, but she had long before found the old spare key under the mat and claimed it. Lydia let herself in, locked it behind her, and moved through the dark interior to the stairway, always listening for anyone upstairs. She climbed, rounded the landing, climbed again. No one.
On the third floor, she found the door in the ceiling that let to the old building’s attic. She pulled on its dangling rope and the door dropped, folding its ladder out. In a minute she was in the attic, pulling the door closed with the rope up there with her, so if anyone else wandered into the building they wouldn’t find her up there. She rushed around the decades of junk stored up there, found the old soft chair in the corner, and dropped her backpack on the floor. She settled down in the chair and got comfortable, and then she grabbed for her backpack and fished out the contraband.
Lydia took a deep breath, undid her jeans, and deftly slid them and her underwear over her hips and down her legs until they were off. She leaned back in the big chair, relaxing in the hot attic, one hand holding the contraband and the other dipping between her legs.
Her touch felt immediately wonderful, and she began to masturbate with slow deliberation, working her fingers in circles, moving them faster with every passing moment until she was almost at her peak. But she knew her body, even if the government didn’t want to her to know it, and she knew that she’d never achieve orgasm with her fingers alone.
With her other hand, she snapped on her contraband—a vibrating dildo. Soon, she’d have that orgasm, and finally have that sweet release.
But her guilt was still there, threatening to intrude on her pleasure, and she suddenly found herself wondering, as she often did, how many other women had to do this. How many had thicker walls or not-so-nosy neighbors? How many could keep themselves from screaming in ecstasy at the end?
Then again, how many had to hide in abandoned buildings just to masturbate? And how many more just couldn’t come with their own fingers but didn’t have access to illegal things like vibrators to help them?
And how many were unmarried like her, so for whom masturbation was a crime?
Lydia shoved the guilt aside and soon brought herself to a screaming orgasm that, thankfully, no one could hear, right there on a dirty chair in a dusty attic in an abandoned building. And when her pleasure had finally ebbed, she cried like a baby.
“All Through the Night”
By David M. Fitzpatrick
“I’m in the mood,” Jack said after dinner, and Shelby’s heart sunk. She wasn’t in the mood, but she couldn’t deny him. She had to pick her words carefully.
“Any chance you could wait until tomorrow?” she asked with a pearly-white smile. “I’ve been dealing with this upset stomach today.”
He stared at her for a long, hard, cold stretch. “Take something for it,” he said. “I’m in the mood.”
She swallowed hard, kept the fake smile on her face, and replied, “Okay, honey. We should go upstairs now, then. Aren’t your buddies coming over to watch the game in a couple of hours?”
Jack chuckled and pushed his chair away from the table and his empty dinner plate. He stood and walked around the table until he was behind her, and he placed his hands on her shoulders and squeezed with strong fingers. Shelby hated when he touched her at all these days. She remembered when she’d believed that he loved her, and that regardless of what rights the law gave him that he would always treat her as his respected equal. They hadn’t been married long before he’d shown his true colors. Most men did, of course. She’d just been young and I love—and incredibly naïve.
“You know I’ve always had fantasies,” he said as he massaged her, leaning down until his cheek was against her golden-brown hair. She heard his nose, next to her ear, as he took in a deep sniff of that hair. “And you’ve been so good at fulfilling those fantasies.”
He was right, she knew, because she didn’t have a legal choice in the matter. The conjugal-rights laws were very clear: Women could not refuse sex in any form from their husbands. That was what marriage was all about—ownership, really. Denying him his sexual requests gave him the legal right to beat the tar out of her, and he had, many times. And without the legal right to divorce a husband, a wife was stuck with little choice.
“I always try to make you happy,” she said, somehow keeping her voice from breaking.
“That’s good,” he said, and he moved her hair away from the side of her head and brought his mouth to her neck, where he kissed her. She felt turned on by this, as memories of a time when their romance was new and he had been so gentle and passionate with her. She felt ashamed for her arousal, and when he moved his hands down to caress her breasts, she felt even worse.
“You’re so fucking sexy,” he whispered into her ear. “God, your breasts are amazing.”
Shelby was trembling, but maybe this was a good sign. If he were in the mood for breast sex, that would be better than intercourse, the way she was feeling tonight. Maybe she could please him that way and get to bed early…
“My buddies all think you’re hot,” he said as he kneaded her ample breasts in his big hands. “They’re always saying how much they love this rack of yours.”
She felt herself go cold. He wasn’t going to make her show his buddies her breasts, was he? He’d never done anything like that, and it would be so humiliating—yet she wouldn’t be able to refuse. As always, she had to be careful how she responded.
“Their wives have their own breasts ,” she whispered, doing her best to sound seductive. “These are all yours. So why don’t we go upstairs and you can have all the fun with them that you want?”
He still kissed her neck and squeezed her breasts, and he said, “Not tonight, baby. No, tonight I have another fantasy. The guys all want to fuck you, baby, so tonight that’s what I want to happen. Now, you get the dishes done and head upstairs, because when the guys get here, we’re going to make this fantasy come true.
She got the dishes done and went upstairs.
* * *
He had four buddies coming over, but good news traveled fast, and nine of them showed up. She did as she was directed with all of them, two or three at a time, and it lasted all night long. Jack and his buddies whooped and cheered each other as they did everything she could imagine to her—and then some. There wasn’t anything she could legally do about it—not without incurring a beating, or possibly even resulting in Jack legally and justifiably killing her, but this was finally a bridge too far.
He’d go away on business soon, and somehow, some way, she’d flee the state. There were states that weren’t as bad—some where a wife could refuse sex under certain conditions, and many where a wife would never have to endure something like this. She’d find one of them.
She blocked out the present and imagined her life somewhere a lot better than this, and imagined it while she was violated all through the night.
David M. Fitzpatrick is a fiction writer in Maine, USA. His many short stories have appeared in print magazines and anthologies around the world. He writes for a newspaper, writes fiction, edits anthologies, and teaches creative writing. Visit him at www.fitz42.net/writer to learn more.