Beginnings Are Such Delicate Times...

 

The Greenhouse was a yuppie bar that didn't pretend to be anything else. Soft music, plants and overpriced drinks created an uninspiring ambiance. All of the patrons had a just-gotten-off-work look to them, fitting as it was six thirty on a Friday evening.

Patricia swirled the ice in her drink and felt grumpy. She had come to the bar to people watch, to kill a little time. As it was, her mood deteriorated as soon as she sat down, but not enough to care whether she stayed or went.

Looking around the bar, her mood descended a little more; There wasn't even anyone particularly interesting in there. All of the customers were stamped out of the same mold. I should have known better, she thought.

Patricia's reverie was interrupted by a young woman in dressy office garb sitting at her table. Looking up, Patricia saw blond hair, green eyes, a broad smile. In her mood, this was the last thing she wanted to see.

"I understand that you like to play rough." this odd opening line made Patricia look at the woman again.

"Occasionally. But I don't play with girls."

A light laugh, toned with embarrassment. "I should have explained. I'm Kim, and this beauty isn't even skin deep."

"Really? Patricia cast a professional eye over Kim, noting the structure of her hands, her face. "Ok, so you're a guy in a skirt. Looks pretty good. So what?"

"Like I said, I heard you like to play rough."

Patricia smiled, shook her head. "Like you wouldn't believe. I'm probably out of your league, Kim."

"Want to bet?" Kim replied quickly. "I don't have a pulse either."

"Well, what do you know?" she drawled. "The day is just full of surprises." Patricia became a little more animated. "The name's Patricia. Trish, if you like."

"Ok, Trish. I think we could be very good for each other. I like people who play rough."

Patricia was silent for a minute. "It's an idea. I'd have to ask you not to wear a skirt, though."

"Of course, whatever you like."

"Whatever I like, huh? That could be fun." Patricia opened her purse, reached inside. "Here's my card. I'm busy tonight, but give me call."

"I'll do that."

 

"So, what do you want me to do?" Patricia asked as she closed her apartment door behind her.

Kim shrugged, looked around, saw hardwood floors and beaten up, expensive furniture. "Anything you like." he leaned against a counter.

"I'd like a little more input than that." Patricia frowned. "Otherwise I'm liable to set your hair on fire."

"Good enough. No fire, no claws, no stakes - fairly common sense, I'd think."

"I was more curious as to what style appeals to you." she approached him and put her arms around him, smiled. "I mean, do you want me to be nice about the whole thing," she stroked his face. "or not?" She raised her knee sharply. Kim gasped. "You see? I need some motivation." She waited for a reply while Kim recovered. He fell heavily into a nearby chair.

"I thing you've got plenty. Really, I do mean whatever you like. Enjoy yourself, let go, have fun. Ah, I see a crooked little smile on your face."

"Sure. But what do you like?"

"Hmm." Kim leaned back, looked at the ceiling. "Most of the time, domination, I suppose. Being dominated, I mean. Physically and mentally. Being told to do things. Sometimes weird, sometimes not. Usually very biological.

"I prefer being bullied by women rather than men." He looked at Trish for a moment, then returned to contemplating the ceiling. "Women bully well. Men just like to beat on things. If I need a quick fix, I find a guy. The sad thing about them is that they're usually gay men so far back in the closet that they don't know it. Or if they do, they don't want to face it. I know it's going to be a rough night if they ask me to wear a dress." Kim looked back at Patricia.

"That's better than nothing. Is there anything you just don't like or won't do?"

"I haven't found it yet. Try me."

"I will."

 

Patricia walked out of her laundry room. Kim was sitting on her sofa, pulling clothes out a gym bag and getting dressed.

"I put the sheets in the wash. I threw out your clothes."

"I figured as much." Kim's movements were deliberate, like an very tired man, but his eyes were bright. Patricia smiled. "You look like an addict who's just gotten his fix."

"Of course." Silence. Patricia sponged up a stain on the hardwood floor. "You seemed a little surprised," Kim said suddenly. "earlier, I mean."

"I suppose so," Patricia threw the bloody sponge into the kitchen sink. "I'm more used to being an interrogator, not a dominatrix. I've never fulfilled the needs of a genuine masochist before."

"Really? As a genuine masochist, I'm the first? How did you deal with yourself until now?"

Patricia shrugged. "I get hired by the local mafiosi a lot. You'd be surprised how active the underworld has remained. And how many people will do anything to get that vital piece of information. Pain's the best way to get that information. People crack eventually. They'll surrender any secret to end pain - or to avoid it altogether."

"But don't some people just say what you want to hear? To end the pain?"

"Not if I'm doing my job right." Patricia said grimly. "Part of it involves making sure they don't get pushed that far. And that's all it's always been: a job."

"Until now." Pause. Kim shook his head. "God, how long have you been coping like this?"

"I didn't know I was only coping." Patricia snapped. "I thought that extracting fingernails in order to find out where Tommy The Weasel dumped the payoff was as good as it got.

"Sometimes I would find someone who thought that they enjoyed it, but they were never for real. I coped because I didn't know I was coping. Until now." She stopped, sat down across from Kim. She spoke deliberately, heavy emphasis on each word. "Today was intense. What happened, what I did to you, was done because we both wanted it to happen, not just me."

"Wasn't your surgical career a form of mutually desirable infliction of pain?"

"It wasn't enough. Maybe because I knew that the ultimate intention was good, that the person under the scalpel believed that the pain was just a side effect of a good deed I was doing for them, made the experience unfulfilling. I always wanted to cut deeper, much deeper. That's why I had to start tranquilizing myself before a procedure. That caught up with me in the end."

Patricia stopped, felt a little dazed. "But I shouldn't dump this on you," she said, trying to apologize for what she felt was a slightly hysterical outburst.

"I don't mind." Kim shrugged. "You're guaranteed a sympathetic ear."

"I don't need sympathy." Patricia muttered.

"Fine, you don't, but you know what I mean. I can't jump back and ask what kind of sicko you are. We're in the same boat."

"Yeah, a sinking one. So how did you get on board?"

"I brought my own drill. My masochism, like you noticed, is genuine. I've always enjoyed pain. Not just in a sexual context, like some fair weather masochists, but in almost any context."

"Almost?"

"Yeah. I much prefer it if it's in a context of my own choosing. Sure, getting jumped and beaten up is painful too, but not enjoyable because the context wasn't chosen by me. I have to be expecting it. I can trust my partner in debauchery to quit if things get too crazy."

"But you wouldn't tell me what was too crazy. I asked you if there was anything you wouldn't do."

"Yeh, I know, I haven't found anything too fucked up yet. But I'm aware that there's always the risk. I don't want to have my hair set on fire. But that's because it would kill me, and I think that's a universal turn off. But if what's going on is planned, agreed upon, I know that my partner understands that I don't want to be killed.

"And, of course, it's just more enjoyable when both people understand each other."

"And are fulfilling a mutual need." It was not a question.

"Yeah. I thought I was telling you the history of my masochism. I've always enjoyed it - about as long as I've understood my bisexuality."

"And how long is that?"

"Almost all my life." Kim stopped for a moment, thought. "I don't need pain to be aroused - a good looking person can do that - but pain will excite me and increase any existing state of excitement. Sex is just so much better..." Another silence. "It's just an extension of so called normal sexual practice. Everyone likes to have their earlobe nibbled upon. I just like a more aggressive bite than most.

"I noticed."

"I'm sure you noticed a lot." he grinned.

"So not only are you a genuine masochist, but you're a well adjusted one, too?"

"The most well adjusted that I know of. I think the curse of Malkav helped. It's much easier to indulge now. I can let myself be pushed so much further.

"But you don't seem well adjusted, if you don't mind me saying so." he added.

"I think I'm better than I was at sunset. Like I said before, you're my first voluntary outlet. And you're right, I can push you so much further than a mortal. I like that.

"I've never analyzed myself, asked myself why I am the way I am. I've been too busy coping." derision dripped from the word. "I don't think I'd enjoy looking into my soul - I don't think it would be a pretty sight."

"It's not that bad."

"What?" Patricia was confused for a moment. "Oh, you mean my aura. Maybe that isn't ugly, but that isn't my soul, or my mind."

"But it's an adequate reflection, and I'm telling you it isn't ugly."

"So are you encouraging me to look into my nature?"

"Why not? I think you should. You might learn to cope better, or stop having to cope altogether."

"And I'll be as happy as you are, right? The happiest sadist."

Kim grinned. "Oh, I don't know about that, I'm pretty damn happy."

"Yes, you are at that." Patricia stretched out on her sofa. "I might as well play the role to it's fullest." she paused. "Like you I've always been aware of my predilection. Being turned kind of sharpened it, refined my tastes."

"How long have been dead?" KIm asked quickly.

"Tut, Kim, don't you know you shouldn't ask a lady's age?" Patricia smiled. "But since you asked, I was born in 1948, died 1974. I'm but a whelp in kindred terms."

"You're older than I am -"

"No kidding." Trish laughed.

"You know what I mean," he smiled. "I just celebrated the first anniversary of my death at the tender age of nineteen. Threw a good party, too."

"You're just the kind of person who'd celebrate his own demise." Patricia let her smile fade. " I didn't start in the stereotypical manner. I never pulled the wings off flies or dropped puppies in the river. I was too busy.

"See, I was what they called a "gifted child" - how that term reeks with irony now - and my parents pushed me as hard as they could. I graduated high school when I was fourteen. I qualified as a doctor at twenty four. I don't remember much of my school career, or my childhood, I was always in a rush.

"But I remember getting in a fight in high school, just before I graduated. I've forgotten what the fight was about, but I do remember that they had to pull me off her, and she had to go to hospital. And I was glad. It had felt pretty good.

"That got me thinking. About all the times I had been a bully because it held off the teasing about being the shortest kid in school. About how good it felt to win those bullying matches. I got a kick out of knowing that I could say or do the right thing to reduce some seventeen year old fuckhead to tears. Then I really didn't want to think about it any more, about what it implied.

"I managed to ignore it until I got to medical school. Then...it got a little weird. Cadavers didn't bother me, didn't set me off. But when I started to observe procedures...I got into the habit of getting very drunk after certain classes. And after I qualified...shit.

"The first time I actually cut someone open, I nearly passed out. My colleagues thought it was first op nerves, and I let them believe that. It had begun feeling way too good, but awful too.

"This is wrong, I'd tell myself. Latent sadism is not a desirable quality in a surgeon. I should be ashamed of myself. I was, to a degree, but after a while, the shame stopped. I began to look forward to surgery. That's when the self sedation began.

"But that only worked for so long, a few months at most. And then I killed someone on the table - I didn't mean to, really, just the drugs had dulled my senses, fucked up my perception.

"I lost my license, left town and let myself go. I went crazy, let myself be hired as a kneebreaker, interrogator, professional bully - the coping, I guess. I would have burned out on that, too, but then Malkav turned his eye on me. I had to think long and hard after that. My opiate addiction had gotten seriously out of hand, and I really didn't know what to so...So I set up business as the owner of a rehab center. I learned a way to deal with my addiction, and my clients do get detoxed, eventually. As for the other thing...well, I've just been coasting along.

"So, like I said, I've never really thought about myself. Too scared, I guess. I'm afraid I'll find something worse."

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