Damn she hated these things, the meeting of the minds in her chosen field, which usually degenerated into a bunch of well-educated adults engaged in the kind of name-calling she’d thought she’d left behind in fourth grade. It wasn’t quite “Did So – Did Not” but the equivalent – “It should be obvious to the meanest intellect…” wasn’t much different. Her specialty, if you wanted to call it a specialty, was deviant behavior. Well, it used to be deviant behavior. Since the changes in the DSM the most interesting people to her – BDSM lifestyle advocates – were no longer so classified. She sighed – they were undoubtedly happier without interference from the medical community, but were they neglected? She was more concerned that her world abandoned them.
She sat in the bar trying to get caught up on the journal she not only subscribed but also contributed to. She didn’t have a paper in this issue, but she’d had several this year. She sipped her wine – she’d have never been down here if the room service had been decent enough to serve wine. She made a mental note to suggest to the conference organizers that next year they find a full-service hotel. Undoubtedly this was cheaper for her colleagues who weren’t well funded with grant money, but it was a little undignified. She did have to admit the wine was excellent, a Napa valley Chardonnay the equal of anything she’d had from France. She was beginning to relax – another day of sessions and she could leave. A shadow fell over her journal.
“Doctor Adamson? Is it you?”
The man was younger than she – perhaps a dozen years. She smiled.
“Yes. I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure…”
He stood tall, clicked his heels together, a head movement that was nearly a small bow.
“Wilson. Davidson Institute. Behavior modification.”
The brit accent was thick and she was sure he spelled behavior with a u. Davis – Davis was further inland in California, somewhere near the campus. How had he gotten there?
“Please, Doctor Wilson. It’s Alicia. And thank you for saving me from a lonely evening. Would you like to join me?”
“Only if it is Peter, Alicia.”
“Of course. Please. Sit.”
She looked around and found her waiter, waved to him. It seemed only a moment before she and Peter were thick as thieves.
“You know, I’ve followed everything you’ve written. I love the way you found so many subjects. How on earth did you get them to cooperate? I can’t get anyone to agree to work with me unless they’re paid volunteers, and that’s so self-selecting it doesn’t come close to meeting the criteria for random subjects…”
“But Peter, you aren’t going to do too well if your approach is to tell them that they’re nuts and you’re going to fix them. Would you respond to that kind of stimulus? What if I told you that pipe-smoking was the symptom of a deranged mind and that I could cure you of it.”
It grew quiet at the table for a moment. He set the obviously-beloved Meerschaum in the ashtray.
“I suppose not – I’m sorry. Did it bother you?”
She shook her head vehemently.
“That’s not the point Peter and you know it. You’re a bright fellow and you know damn well that to engage subjects you have to accept their culture for whatever it’s worth. I could introduce you to members of the lifestyle, but you’d have to be a lot more open than I suspect you are.”
He sat for a while, his fingers reaching out and caressing his beloved pipe.
“Oh, for God’s sake, Peter. Go ahead and smoke. It really doesn’t bother me.”
The look of gratitude on his face made her determined to never attend an annual conference of the Psychiatric Disorders Analysis ad-hoc group without a very good place to hide.
He contentedly puffed for a few minutes, silent, clearly deep in thought. Finally he broke the silence.
“Alicia, I’d love to try out some of my theories. Could you really arrange some sort of meeting with anyone?”
“Peter, I could, but what would it prove? You have so many preconceived notions that I can’t imagine anything useful coming of it. You’d have to be, as I said earlier, much more accepting.”
He was quiet. Then…
“I could be accepting, I’m sure. I mean, it’s all in the spirit of academic enquiry, right? I could do anything for that.”
“Peter, no trying to be in charge. You’d have to leave your ego and all your feelings of superiority at the door.”
“I could. Truly, I could do that.”
She looked doubtful.
“You can surrender control? From the papers of yours I’ve read, you’re kind of a control freak. No offense intended.”
“None taken. Perhaps I am. You could make this happen?”
“Well, I do know someone locally. But before I introduce you I’d need assurance…”
“Whatever you need.”
She was quiet for a while.
“Okay – I’ll talk to her in the morning. It’s too late tonight. Are you going to Wasserman’s presentation on Tribalism?”
“Yes, of course.”
“All right, I’ll see you there and let you know what she says. Good night, Peter. It’s been good to meet you in person. I’ve followed your work as well – I didn’t tell you that. It’s … interesting. See you tomorrow.”
He stood as she left.
“Thank you so much.”
* * *
She sat through two boring hours of self-absorbed mental masturbation before the Wasserman lecture. As she walked in he had obviously been waiting at the door for her. He took her arm.
“What did she say?”
She bent to whisper in his ear.
“She’ll do it, but she has several conditions. If you really want to do this, meet me at my room after conference closing.”
“Three twenty-five. I’ll wait for you.”
He nodded, then headed purposefully off to find a seat at the front of the room, one from which he could easily ask the questions that might endear him to the master. Might even get him invited to the posh institute in Monterrey. She smiled. Might. She and Wasserman had worked together – he didn’t deal well with yes-men, regardless of their degrees.
* * *
The knock was almost tentative – for a while she thought perhaps he’d lost his nerve. She opened the door a crack and he stood in the hallway, hands twisting, eyes darting back and forth, the picture of nervousness.
‘Peter this isn’t a date. Relax.”
He nodded and walked through the narrow opening she left, stood at the window staring out over the Bay, never looking back.
“I know, I’ve just been so nervous.”
The click of the door and the rasp of the lock didn’t distract him. It was only when she stood behind him and took his wrist that he even noticed her.
“What kind… why are you dressed like that?”
She smiled, putting him at his ease.
“Remember, I said she had several conditions? She’s used to me looking like this.”
“Yes, but you’re so… intimidating.”
“Peter. I wear leather when I’m among lifestyle folks. That’s how they want to see me.”
In her four and a half inch heels she more than towered over him, and the skin-tight leather top and skirt were impressive. It had come from the best BDSM shop in town. His body went slack as she pulled his wrist behind his back, and she smiled – he didn’t even jump when the cuff clicked over his wrist.
“Now the other one, Peter.”
He could no more resist her than sing the Star Spangled Banner. There was no protest.
“Peter, I did tell you that I had read everything you ever wrote as well, didn’t I?”
He nodded, apparently struck dumb by the surprising environment in which he found himself.
“Peter, what I didn’t tell you is that I found your ideas of forcing people in the lifestyle to give up their desires, their loves, their lives because of your arrogant assumption that they had to be sick needed answering. You, Peter, are an irritating little fuck, and I’m going to teach you a lesson. One someone should have taught you a long time ago. You’re a bad boy to meddle in other people’s lives.”
She pushed him and he had no balance – he fell over the edge of the couch. She giggled as she walked to the closet, turned and smiled as she watched him, his head twisted around and fixed on her as she returned, body swaying, sexual, holding the long school paddle in her hands.
“This, my dear Doctor Wilson, is a paddle. Ever felt one before?”
He shook his head, eyes wide in terror.
“Her other condition was that I paddle your little ass till you aren’t interested in sitting for a while. Ready, dear boy?”
The sound of her paddle striking flesh that had never felt any kind of punishment went on for a long time, as did his screams. Neither noise reached the level of the music channel she’d selected on cable, though. Her flight wasn’t until eight. She didn’t care when his was.
It was a fitting end to the conference. She smiled as she lifted the paddle for the next swat. Who knew, perhaps she could convert a few more fools next year…
Since both my parents were university professors I am an expert on the species. They weren’t quite this bad, but… it’s not unreal.
This is part of the #wankwednesday group run by Ruby Kiddell. To look at all the entries look here