The family has moved to a towering old house – not just parents and sisters, but the sister’s husbands, and the husbands’ sisters, and Adam and Cris and some of their friends too. Everything has something to do with it; we have cliques and node-turfs for quit-smoking, pot-smoking, gay and lesbian, RPG-ing... We drive up to the new home, perhaps through some badlands or a painted desert, maybe through vine-hung, morning-fog coastal Southern towns, and my driving is shaky but acceptable. My sister does not insist I pull over and let her drive. By the time I get to the house, I am alone. I poke through dresser drawers and cabinets for pot and money. I smoke a little, alone, then a couple of sisters join me. Adam offers Goldschlager all around, but my glass is already full of cheap schnapps. I’d prefer the Goldschlager but wouldn’t it be rude to waste the schnapps just to consume his liquor? Then we all are gathered around a long wooden table, like a sturdy picnic table. I know who he is, one of the Everything clique, I have seen him around but haven’t interacted much personally. He has seemed nice enough. Alone now, we play Tag on the tabletop and suddenly we are on the ground, I am on my back and he has conveniently fallen to land, kneeling, astride me. A clean 80’s preppy haircut, clothes not worth remembering, his face is a synthesis of half-a-dozen boys and men I could objectively call attractive. He quietly asks, “Who’s It?” I have long suspected he prefers men, and although I generally don’t, I know this time I will make an exception. Lost in his eyes, I can only breathe “I am It, baby, I am IT...”

While walking into the depths in the back of a female author's house to investigate strange goings-on (and passing a bottle of medication to her publisher, hiding in a closet from the unspeakable badnasties deeper in) I find myself in my old military surplus coat, wearing the new Russian military cap my parents gave me this Christmas covered in facetious and gratuitous medals and patches - participation in Sports Day, Novgorod, 1982, that sort of thing - emerging wearing this gear into a snowy landscape, where I encounter people that I know and sympathize with who are being oppressed / chased / hunted by some further badnastiness.

We hear footsteps! I dive into the snow and feign - what, sleep, unconsciousness, death, inebriation? A hand on my shoulder, then I am rolled over to see a young, clean-cut Russian military commander of some sort - in the company of my good friend Matthew Glick, who doesn't recognize me - and I am mistaken for a Russian soldier fallen asleep on-duty (face- down in a snowbank) on account of my garb. My friends have all managed to disappear without a trace. I am briefly interrogated (in Russian-accented English, answered in Russian-accented English: Questions such as "Where did you undergo basic training?" are responded with after a brief contemplation of northeastern Risk locations) and reassured that I won't be punished for this transgression. They invite me back to his quarters at camp and, afraid to offend or spoil the illusion, I follow.

Back in his chambers, it appears he was being partially facetious as well (I suspect he saw through my somewhat-transparent disguise - examining the medals, I exclaimed in a Slavic slur "It a leetle joke" - and after imbibing some (presumably vodka) he begins threatening me, eventually taking off his belt and rapping my bottom with it.

This escalates to me being pushed down on all fours and my pants partially taken off to whip the bottom with more force. Unexpectedly, I enjoy this, but that is tempered by fear at what may occur next.

Matthew Glick (a good guy at heart) protests that this is excessive and the commander agrees, giving him the whip and instructing him that it is his turn to discipline me. Meanwhile he makes some exclamation about my genitalia (based on their size / protrusion through the rest of my clothes), claiming that this has aroused me (a lie) and stating that now he wants me to do "the ass."

My exposed rump, being gently lashed by Mr. Glick, puckers briefly, but I surmise eventually that he wants me to engage in analingus.

I'm disinclined to agree, but remain concerned with the power dynamics here: do I have a choice? How will the situation escalate if I agree to his demands, what if I look like I enjoy it more than I actually do, could I yank his balls and beat a hasty retreat to... the woman's closet again?

A good time to wake up, methinks. A night for homoeroticism all around, boys.

in our last episode... | p_i-logs | and then, all of a sudden...

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I was Thomas Edison at age 7. Our house was chilly, wooden floors. I made new pills that worked better. From birchbark. People didn't trust me; I was just a kid. The people I helped believed me.

That horrible man I lived with was not my father. He never smiled. He made her afraid.

One night he went crazy, throwing dishes and murdering my mouse. Smashed him flat under his bootsole. Blood smashed on my face. Something happened to me. He laughed, dared me to hurt him. I threw dishes at him as he circled the table. I had never been so angry or so silent. I wanted to see his face smash. The dishes did not obey physics; he had done something to the air. I knew his time would come soon, and I would see his blood. I could wait.

Meanwhile, we were scheduled for production to start on the aspirin. I had a lot of work to do.

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