It was after 5AM when Oona finally arrived home, compliments of her friend and sometimes-lover, Alexi. Oona could not work her magic with the Massachusetts State Police, even while part of her wanted to strike them all down. Over the last few hours Oona had been arrested, booked, jailed, bailed, and sent on her way home with Oona’s friend who had been called to come and fetch her. Utterly humiliated. Her prized Porsche had been towed, and she was likely to lose her driver’s license for a few months, following a hearing, lawyers’ fees, and the like. The entire ride home from the State Police barracks had been mostly without words: silence except for soft reggae music streaming from Lexi’s worn out Subaru.
And as if I do not have enough going on in my space; Now this!
The pair quietly entered Oona’s suite where Alex tugged at Oona to have her return to bed without delay. Oona shrugged off her friend with a blank face, and immediately descended upon her hope chest with its priceless contents, and reached down for a small key off of her micro-thin waist chain. Oona removed the key and found her precious Gran Liv apparently undisturbed.
Sadly, Oona was as certain of Gran Liv’s security as she was with her own, when she first got behind the wheel of her car near midnight. Muddled, discombobulated. In her heart and mind, Oona was certain the great book had been disturbed. And she sat on the edge of her bed. No evidence.
Alexi wasted no time to lie down on the bed beside Oona and reached over to stroke the woman’s wild, untamed hair.
Had the chest even been locked? Oona could not be sure. She was only sure she had used the key to open the lock. But was the key even needed? Had she even heard the lock open? Oona could not remember. She surmised Thankful or someone else, or perhaps some thing, was playing tricks on her?
The mysterious, model-like Alexi was relentless with her attempts to soothe her good friend Oona and, she hoped, pick up where they had left off so abruptly in Cambridge. Even in her sorry state, Alex could see Oona was forever the sparkling vision of beauty and attractiveness.
But this morning, Oona would not be enticed. Instead, she rose from her bed and searched about the place for any clues as to what – if anything – had actually happened last night. The witch moved from her bedroom to her ontology office and then across the hallway into the séance room. Lexi followed. Everywhere she found nothing. There were no obvious clues of unusual behavior. Then fear took hold of Oona’s soul when she sensed a strange disconnect from her usual familiar surroundings.
Oona breathed deep and then quickly glanced over to Alexi. She softly said to her friend, “I am sorry for putting you through this Lexi. I am very sorry.” Oona marched over to the great, soft couch, took a seat, and thoroughly moved her eyes about the séance room as she settled in. With some debate, Oona said not a word of her vision or of her fear for Pi Gran Liv.
Finally Oona’s eyes fixed on the porcelain skin that nearly matched the white cotton shirt on Lexi’s back. She scanned her snug, white jeans with belt loops and no belt, her hugging small curves, the wide black suspenders and the black costume jewelry befit for a trendy young woman or gay man. Lexi always wore an odd, foreign Haute Couture on her sleeve. And with an undeniably gorgeous round face, Alexi was the sexually ambiguous creature who wore no coat, often with shirt sleeves rolled up at the elbows, and always leaving one to think that the weather was far fairer than it was.
The two had settled down on the couch when Oona began to think it was all just her nerves from the move and relocation. She promised herself she would relax and just settle down. Just my imagination. The two friends watched the clock for a while and then switched on the TV. Oona knew that in a short time the house would come alive to Monday, November first: workday, school day, and Samhain.
“I want you to stay with me,” Oona finally said. “Can you do that for me?” she asked innocently but not weakly. Lexi was taller than Oona, almost six feet. She was slight of build with small round breasts. Hers was child-like pretty, with high mahogany hair from the Nineteen Sixties. Oona gently squeezed her friend’s hand. “I will need a ride to pick up my car, Lex. First you will meet KC my employer,” she said with a cunning wink. “We shall see KC off after breakfast, have the children fed and brought to school.” Then, my dear, I think we will have some alone time.”
“And what about your appointments?” Lexi asked. “Tending to your flock.”
“I shall wipe my schedule clean, my dear friend.”
“Of course,” smiled Lexi. With her hair and pouty lips, her soft brown eyes and her smallish frame, Lexi knew Oona was always attracted to her. She was quite easy to look at. “I’ll stay with you as long as you need me, darling dear. And when I am finished with you here, I’ll bring you to Quincy or wherever you tell me they took your car. You know I’ll do anything for you.”
“Yes, yes, I know dear girl,” Oona agreed, and again she gently squeezed the hand of her dear friend. The two went back to college days at Harvard, and had always managed to stay in touch somehow over the last decade. Their lives were completely different though their mutual attractions were similarly intense when in close proximity. And, Oona supposed, it would only help to have Lexi nearby if as she surmised, KC would be difficult to deal with this morning.
“Why don’t we get started on some breakfast, Oona? I can use a cup of your best coffee.” Lexi’s thin though toned body betrayed liquids and exercise, and a scant diet.
“Of course,” said Oona. “Let us be quiet upstairs though and let everyone sleep for a while longer.”
KC was already seated at the kitchen table, and sipped her first cup of Blue Mountain blend. Her eyes widened at the sight of Alexi arm in arm with Oona. Lovers, no doubt. Having appeared together from her suite, KC could see the alluring effect of Oona’s smart clothing on her captive, evidently still wild with desire from the night before.
There followed the moment of obligatory introductions. Still uncertain as to what was needed to get through the inevitable awkward moments, the tension lessened only slightly. Oona detected a measure of jealousy in KC’s eyes. It was jealousy, or perhaps contempt, for both of them: Alexi and Oona, for their assumed immorality upon KC’s house and innocent children.
Once the coffee maker was replenished, the great enchantress detoured back to the bedroom, with Alexi in tow, to get changed out of her party clothes from the last night. They took a long hot shower and, while Lexi changed back to what she had on, Oona slid into a fresh, cheery shop tunic and black leggings. The pair returned to the kitchen and Oona held back more than a few tears. The witch feared she would lose control of herself.
Never in her life had Oona been arrested. Never before had she been locked away, even though her “incarceration” had only spanned a few minutes. Never before had Oona restrained herself in such a manner as to unquestionably do, like a terrified child, what she was told to do by those jack-booted, Gestapo state troopers. The entire experience had been such a humiliation, and as a result, Oona’s world was now even more complicated than it had ever been before.
Louis appeared shortly thereafter and was immediately struck by the figure of Alexi in their kitchen. His big blue eyes scanned three distinct physiognomies. There were two distinct breasts under a thin, girly shirt, and one as-distinct bulge in its crotch. Three bulges! Louis rescanned Alexi without saying a word, and then simply stared until Oona offered him a hurried introduction. The androgynous beauty obviously puzzled the boy. One, two and three things. No matter how hard young Louis tried, he could not get past what his eyes saw. The person before him simply did not compute. You can’t have all that stuff.
Charley and Thankful also entered the kitchen and went through similar introductions. Oona carefully evaluated the child-witch and everyone found places around the table. The girl seemed normal and innocent enough. And while Oona could not divine what was on Thankful’s mind – or conscience – her steady state improved once she had her Blue Mountain blend with some toast, juice, and yogurt.
“She has a harsh girlfriend,” Thankful confided to her brother, barely out of earshot. The past evening’s events were glaringly undetectable in the girl’s demeanor. She smiled and ate her breakfast as if nothing was amiss, discretely passed scraps of food to her beloved canine who sat quietly and patiently underneath the table.
“Shush,” cautioned Charley. “Someone’ll hear you.” The breakfast table was with few words though, thankfully, the crackling sounds of AM radio helped fill the void.
“Lexi will help me this morning,” started Oona. “I had a problem with my car last night and Alex will help me get the children to school and then bring me to Quincy to pick up my car.” Alexi was seated beside Oona and did not say a word.
“Don’t offer any help,” thought KC. “You’re just too weird.”
Alexi smiled privately and personably, and ran her red polished finger around and around the rim of her juice cup, calmly, quietly observant and tolerant of her surroundings. Then Lexi smiled more openly. She fully accepted those sorts of introductions, and believed it generally flaunted her distinctiveness.
An “accident of birth,” as those who delivered her had told Marya, her Ukrainian mother. Alexi’s father was completely unknown, or so Marya told her. Of Alexi’s grandparents she knew very little. Of her great grandparents she recalled one memorable story which, unlike her great grandparents, survived; both were carted off one night by OGPU, the old Soviet Secret Service, and never heard from again. And from that night on, grandmother, Nadiya (meaning Hope), and her six siblings were left alone and destitute, compliments of Stalin’s secret police. Those people were long gone, buried far away, somewhere in unmarked graves of the old Soviet Union. Lexi said that in her young life she often repeated the mantra, “I live in hope.”
Alexi Yevtukh was a hermaphrodite and grew to be darned proud of it. Though over time Lexi identified as “51% female,” her humanity was for pure convenience; and she accepted that label only when necessary. When given a free choice, Lexi identified as “neither;” and when pressed by pushy people, she chose to self-identify as “queer.” Alexi with all her appellations was a native Cantabrigian. She grew up in the modest low rise apartments of East Cambridge. Lexi, as she preferred to be called, grew strong quickly and fended off those who teased and ridiculed her. She steadily rose to the top of her chosen games, and eventually carved out a very comfortable niche in the local underground scene. A musician and artist, Lexi met Oona at TT Bear’s club years ago while Oona was attending Harvard. They were about the same age; Lexi was a little older. A special and enduring bond quickly developed between the two, though never deep enough to keep either from pursuing their own interests.
“What happened Oona?” KC finally asked coldly.
“We should talk about it later, ma chère,” replied Oona.
“Yes, we’ll talk later,” said KC. She looked coldly at both Oona and Lexi and the tension returned. “Are you sure you can take the children to school this morning?” she asked. “I can go in late if you prefer, and you can just pick them up this afternoon.”
“No, no, no, KC. Please. I am certain.” replied Oona. “The children are safe with me as always.” Oona looked imploringly at KC and added, “I promise you.”