A sea of women: sobbing, wailing, moaning, spread out across a moonlit desert landscape. How long had they been there? A day? A year? A million years; yes; and behind them those strange beings of dim antiquity, not-yet human yet still female: bleeding, birthing, nursing. They surrounded a hill where, lit by torches, stands the nin-dingir: the chosen woman, the goddess incarnate. She stands naked: curvaceous, her skin shiny with oil, wearing an elaborate headdress and holding a talisman in each hand . Standing on the backs of two lions, she is flanked by owls. Like the owls, her feet are talons and long wings sprout from her back. As the moon rises over the throng their discordant chorus begins to coalesce into a shimmering roar, gradually becoming a distinct three syllable phrase: “Æ… Æ… Æ…,” then, “Æ… na… aa…,” finally becoming: “I-nan-na.”Mary woke up. Sean was spooned behind her, lightly snoring, with a mindless erection nudging her thigh.
She raises her arms and the multitude becomes silent. A man walks up the hill. He is also naked, and carries a basket of date fronds. Kneeling, he places them before her, and then rises and stands beside her and faces the crowd.
Behold the man! It is he, the one I have chosen, the one to fulfill the moment we have been waiting for all these millennia. He is my consort, his seed will fertilize my egg; the fruit of our union shall beget the new order: the next stage of consciousness, the revelation of the great mystery, the defeat of ignorance, the restoration of the garden, and the unification of the matriarchy of all generations.
From the sea of supplicants comes a new sound—a high pitched screeching. The man's penis starts to stiffen. Inanna gets down on hands and knees, backs up to him with a rhythmic movement of her hips. He kneels, she feels his hands on her buttocks and his member between her legs, gently probing…
Looking back at Sean sleeping, Mary mulled over her outrageous dream. The idea of Sean as her ‘chosen consort’—and the truth of it—made her smile. As she got up to go pee she thought to herself: “I wonder what brought about that dream?” On the way back she paused by the balcony doors. Outside, a sliver of a moon was in the west and the sky was getting lighter in a prelude to the coming of dawn. Mary could see gulls and terns flying in lazy arcs above Puget Sound. She stepped out onto the balcony and, on a whim, took off her nightie and raised her arms to the sky, as if she were, indeed, a goddess of the night. The cool early morning air felt good on her skin, Mary felt free and powerful.
The sound of a footstep behind her gave Mary a start. Turning, she saw Sean. Mary kept her hands raised as she stared at Sean, who was also naked. Sean, barely awake, was trying to make sense of the scene presented before his sleepy eyes. Mary’s breathing became stronger, the sound of air passing through her nostrils was clearly audible.
“I was dreaming about you,” Sean said, breaking the moment.
Mary lowered her arms and, seeing that he was still semi-erect, smiled. “I would hope so!”
“I can see that you’re getting cold…” as he touched her nipple, “… and so can the rest of Seattle.”
“Only the birds, Sean, only the birds and you and the moon above. Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing?”
Sean, now fully awake, said, “Some things are beyond words,” as he reached out to her.
Mary entered into his embrace and whispered: “Good answer.”
That evening, Sean was in the kitchen, cutting up vegetables for dinner. Mary had been going through the mail—most of it junk—when she noticed a handwritten letter addressed to Sean.
“Here’s one to you, Sean, from Iowa.”
“My hands are covered in onions and garlic. Would you read it to me?”
“I wouldn’t want to uncover a family scandal.”
“It's OK. It’s from my Aunt Tina. She’s strictly G-rated.”
“Alright. Here goes:”
Decorah, May 15th
Aunt Tina again, here with all the latest news from rural Iowa. I’m writing to you in a old-fashioned letter because I just don't trust computers anymore, with all I've been hearing about the government spying on everybody. Do you know that Snowden guy? He was on TV the other day, it seems as if he’s the only person capable of telling the truth. Of course they want to put HIM in prison. Did they ever find out who stabbed you? They should put him and all those crooks in the State Department in jail.
The spring weather has been nice, with plenty of much needed rain. I’m not up to putting in a garden anymore, but the perennials are happy. That maple tree you used to climb in has split in a thunderstorm. It looks pretty sad, it was rotten inside. If my uncle Henry was still alive he’d have it chopped it up into firewood the very same day. He always kept the place tidy. I don’t have the energy to keep up with things the way I used to. My vision isn’t what it used to be, either, I’m OK in the sunlight, but can’t see worth a darn at night anymore.
I know you’ve been busy with work and all, but there are some things going on here which you should know about. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I have come to the decision that it’s time for me to move on. After the winter we’ve just had I’m not going to stay on the farm another year. I’ve got a buyer for the land (Mel Henderson, he’s been renting it for years) but the house will be torn down. It’s sagging, broken and leaking—just like me! The Masons have a pretty nice assisted living place in town, some of my friends are there, I’m on the short list. We’re going to have an auction in August. Can you imagine, the auctioneers told me people will actually pay good money for the old junk that's laying around! So ends the saga of the Carroll homestead.
Getting to the point of this letter, could you come out and take care of those things of yours from college? There are also some boxes of your mother’s. I could have it all hauled away, but I think you’d want to go through it first. If you do come, could you bring your lady friend too? I would love to meet her, she must be very smart to pick someone like you (ha ha)!
P.S. There is also a room full of your Grandmother’s stuff you might want to look at it.
“I guess it concerns me after all,” said Mary.
“Are you up for a road trip?”
“Meeting the family? That is a major step in a relationship.”
“She’s a sweetheart, and who knows? Maybe you'll uncover a juicy family scandal or two,” said Sean.
“I could use the change of scenery. Tomorrow I sign away ADR then: ROAD TRIP!”
“Who will I be, Thelma, or Louise?” asked Sean.
“I’ll be the Skipper and you can be Gilligan,” Mary said.
In The Pussy Room, the back bar at Olaf's, a neighborhood bar in Seattle’s Ballard district, Mary Robinson rose to speak to the gathering of ex-ADR employees:
“As you all know, I’m not one for public speaking—hell, I’m not one for public anything. This is the last time you’ll have to listen to me, so I’ll have to take advantage of it. You don’t need me to give you a pep talk, we all know that we we’re the best in the world at what we do. That’s not going to change, but you will have to do it without me. Now that the papers have been signed, I’m no longer your boss. You all know about the ‘Iceland incident.’ The fact that Sean and I were personally involved, and, due to the subsequent investigation and its lack of closure, The Amasales Corporation has decided that, because of these certain special circumstances, Sean Carroll and I are not to be part of the new structure. That sounds like a bunch of legalese but it’s just one of those things that can happen in a business deal such as this. Shakespeare’s phrase ‘The better part of valor is discretion’ has never been more appropriate. Don’t worry about Sean and me, we’re going to be fine, and maybe someday we’ll finally be rid of the specter of ‘Billygate.’ I’ll certainly miss you all. I have always appreciated all your efforts over the last five years… although I’ll make an exception for whoever thought that we should hold ADR's farewell party in a room shaped like a giant vagina.”
Mary sat down to scattered laughter and applause. The DJ began playing techno and the twenty ex-employees of ADR returned to their conversations and libations. The deal, selling ADR to a giant internet marketing company, had gone just about as she expected: in addition to her stock package there was a cash severance for her and Sean.
“No regrets?” asked Sean.
“No regrets at all, especially not in your case. Now that ADR is history, I guess we can finally be seen as a ‘real’ couple in front of the staff,” Mary said, cozying up to Sean and wrapping her arm around his waist.
“Everybody knew already, it wasn’t that important to them, they didn’t ask, they didn’t tell,” said Sean, “They all knew I was ‘yours’ from the day I got back from the congressional hearings.”
“I thought we were so circumspect.”
“Our eyes gave us away.”
“Huh. I’ll have to watch that in the future.”
Sean smiled broadly. “It’s OK. Our ‘Secret Love’ is over.”
“I'd rather it wasn’t,” said Mary.
Later, as the party was breaking up, Sean noticed what appeared to be a homeless man watching them, from a bench across the street, as they walked to Mary’s car. He was holding a brown paper bag in his lap. Sean glimpsed a flash, a reflection, from within the blackness of the open bag.
“Looks like your photographer friend is back for more pictures,” Sean muttered to Mary, “Let’s see just how fast he can run.”
Sean headed towards the man, who immediately sprang to his feet and took off sprinting.
“Looks like we’ve got a fan club… I would guess that there aren’t too many homeless guys with expensive Nikons,” Sean said when returned, holding up a large lens cap.
“How soon can you be ready to leave for Iowa?” said Mary.
“Air or car?”
“Road trip. Let’s get some cash in the morning and head out. I’d rather not leave a paper trail of credit card receipts. If someone wants to track us, they’ll have to work at it.”
“I’ll call Tina and tell her we’re coming,” Sean said, “Mary, about those regrets you were talking about in there? There’s one thing you should know… ”
“And that is?”
“The Pussy Room was my idea.”
“Why on earth did you do that?”
“It was a ‘safe room’, I didn’t have to hire security. I didn’t think anyone would follow us there.”
“Well, it didn’t work. And now we’re fucked.”