Margie moved in with Vee after a few more chanting sessions with the Buddha Life group. They were all very happy to have her join, yet Margie couldn’t help but approach the whole scenario cautiously. By that time, she’d become aware that she was being monitored, but not understanding why, or by whom – only that it began when she’d first joined the game “Dream Life” – and worsened after she left her husband, Pete.
Vee was incredibly talented. Handy with household tools, having renovated her house by herself, and handy with the computer – specifically photoshop, as she was a trained photographer – “in a former life,” is how she described it. She could take a single snapshot of someone, and make them look entirely different, simply by tweaking a nose, or pulling up cheekbones, or darkening hair and eyebrows. She could even overlay one photo onto another and morph the images, creating another person entirely – perhaps looking like a relative of either of the original images.
Margie was impressed with her skills, as well as her life. Vee had survived a similar childhood, her father being a Fireman and into the “swinging” lifestyle, Vee told stories of being forced out of her childhood home, into a tent during her parents’ “parties.”
She’d also survived cancer. At the tender age of 22, she’d had all of her reproductive organs removed to fight ovarian cancer. Later, when Margie and Vee began sleeping together, Margie asked about her unusual lady parts.
“So…what’s going on down there?” Margie asked gingerly.
“Oh. You mean the droopy lips?”
“Courtesy of my surgeon. He “accidently” snipped a nerve on one side – so now I’m lopsided,” Vee tossed it out as if she’d dealt with the whole incident. Indeed, it’d been 20 years since her cancer, but Margie could tell that the wound was buried deep.
Margie would learn of other abuses over the next several months. Like, being raped every day by her boss, a well-known photographer that was now located in Los Angeles. A typical story, Vee was young and impressed, willing to become an apprentice to an up and coming talent. It was great, for a while – until she got cancer, and then he dropped her like a hot potato.
Margie quietly wondered why she’d let someone violate her like that everyday, and without even asking – Vee offered up the fact that she’d been involved in the BDSM lifestyle.
They shared a lot together that day. Margie clicked through Vee’s computer photos, noting how familiar she was to her, how much she looked like herself, blonde hair, big boobs, brown eyes. Margie told her about her curious experiences in Dream Life, and thought it was one of the reasons she was blacklisted at the University, and about Pete, who Margie suspected was also engaged in the lifestyle – “among other things.”
“What do you mean “other things?” Vee queried.
“I’m not sure,” Margie began, “I think he’s involved in other stuff…I don’t know. I caught him lying about a lot. I was suspicious all the time. I hired a P.I., I stole a couple of his old hard drives so I could see what he was into…and now, I think it was just a mistake to get involved. No matter if I loved him or not.”
“So you did love him?”
“I did. I just hated his duplicity—“ Margie began.
“Well, maybe he felt emasculated by you. Intimidated. You do have that aura about you.” Vee smiled crookedly.
“I do? I don’t’ see it. I think he just wanted to live his life the way he wanted to live it. I was just a beard. If only he could have told me the truth…I could have dealt with it, I mean look at me…at us.”
“I doubt the Knights would’ve gone for that.”
Margie shook her head, and looked back at the computer screen. It was paused on a photo of Vee and a friend standing against a stage. Oddly familiar faces….oddly familiar place…and recent, too.
“Who’s this?” Margie pointed at the other person in the photo.
“Oh, that’s my best friend, Dana. She’s in the Navy now.”
“Ah, really? She must be pretty young, ” Margie peered closer.
“Mmm, not that young. Where are you guys at, it looks familiar?”
Vee glanced briefly at the photo and raised her eyebrows, “Um, I couldn’t even tell you. Hey, let’s go get some dinner.”
Margie nodded, and closed the computer, smiling. She never let on that she knew exactly where the two were poised. In front of the stage at O’Bearney’s, a popular college karaoke bar on campus. She’d only just been there the past week with some classmates and one of the faculty at her University.
It didn’t dawn on her until later that night, after Margie and Vee made love, that it was Vee and Dana that she’d met two years earlier at O’Bearney’s – and that Dr. Dingleberry had introduced them.
Margie sat straight up in the bed, sweating and trying to normalize her pulse. Without a word, Vee reached for her, pulling her back to the mattress, encircling her body completely with both arms, while Margie stared at the ceiling.
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