RICK JOHNSON

WHAT MAKES A MOTHER?


by: Diane Winters
as told by Rick Johnson
PO Box 40451
Tucson, Az.
85717
RikJohnson@juno.com

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I had woken early, David, my boyfriend, still sleeping, and decided to take a quick shower before pounding out a couple chapters on my new book. But, I paused to watch David sleep. I know it isn’t easy to date someone like me. I had at least ten points IQ on him, three black belts, won tournaments in fencing and archery and we couldn’t go anywhere without men staring at me.

But he was still there for me and that counts!

We had met at a book signing and he just stood there, embarrassed until I asked him out for coffee and… well our first date got interrupted by a frantic call from Fi, my best friend, who was having drug problems.

David stood by while I beat the crap out of her druggie friends. He stood by me when I called my ex-husband for help and he was there when I got back from Africa and didn’t complain too much when we hunted down and killed the dealers that had gotten Fi hooked.. He took me to the airport knowing that I was going to the artic with my ex to rescue Fi and her kids. He was waiting when I got back from rescuing Janice’s Chinese lover (I HATE that word) in Japan and.. well… him being there waiting meant a lot to me. Most men would have left for someone easier to be with.

So I gazed on him a moment longer then took my shower, only to hear the doorbell ring as I was drying. So I wrapped a towel around my blonde hair, threw a robe on and found one of those express package deliverymen staring at me, holding a computer clipboard and envelope. So I smiled, signed and left him to his fantasies while I glanced at the return address.

Bucharest, Romania!

I poured myself a cup of coffee, stared at the thing and wondered who I knew in Romania? The return address was a business but I had been on Romania only once, in.. 1508 or so? And that was to pick up Ruth to help us rescue Yu. I hadn’t been in or near Romania in … about 500 years, calendar time.

Opening the package I found another envelope and inside found a letter attached to another envelope. The final envelope was old, it had that smell and look of paper that had been sitting around for centuries. And it was addressed to me, here! No return address, just; “Diane Winters, City of the Angels, California, the Americas. Deliver in July of the Christian year 2010.”

The first letter began;


Dear Miss Winters;
I represent a consortium created in the 15th century, a storage of valuables if you will. Over the centuries, people have given to us many things from art to wine to wealth with instructions to retain these items until their personal difficulties had ended. We held art during the War to keep it safe from the Nazis, we held money for people who were in debt and wished something to help them recover afterwards and we held this letter.
As per instructions given to us five centuries ago, we located a Diane Winters, Los Angeles, California, USA. You were easy to locate, being a fairly well known writer who matched the description given to us.
But, Miss Winters, we do have a question. In 1510, the Americas were known but only as an eastern coastline and a few islands. The word California didn’t even exist back then. And how could our client know that a person of your name and description would exist in a city that was undreamed of in a state that was unheard of?
How, Miss Winters?
Your obedient servant…. <.font=”comic”>
And it was signed by a name that was obviously Jewish.

The Jews were the bankers back then as they were forbidden any other occupation so…

I opened the letter to find it written in Romanian with a single steel object that looked like a piece of cheap jewelry. I could speak the language after a fashion so had a bit of difficulty reading it. Despite what people think, reading a word in a foreign language and hearing that word spoken rarely matched. As an example, try hearing ‘Kaie-yay” and reading ‘Calle’ which looks like ‘Kall’ the final e hardening the previous vowel. The only thing that made sense was the signature.. “Ruth!”

Finally I gave up and called the University and faxed the letter to the head of the Slavic Languages department. It did give me a chance to practice my Romanian which wasn’t that good but would need to improve quickly. If Ruth needed me, I would be there for her.

“Thank you Professor. You have been a great help to me.” As I read the translation he had faxed to me, a translation he had read over the phone.


My dear Diane,
I am sorry to contact you this way but I know of no other method. My father has disowned me, my husband divorced me and they kept most of the wealth that the Lady Janice gave to me. I hold them no ill will for I am an abomination according to my faith and being with me would deny them the grace of God. I do praise them for tolerating me for so long. Aside from the Lady Janice, whom I see as a mother to me, my own dying when I was young, and you and Fiona, I have no real friends left. You three, of all the people I know, treat me as a person and not a monster or a dirty Jew and for this I love you all. Would it be possible for you to visit me in Bucharest? I would like to discuss my options for my future. I would love to see My Lady again but fear that her love for me would turn to anger over the treatment I have endured and I do not wish my father and former husband harmed in any way.
Your loving friend,
Ruth.

We knew that this would happen eventually. Ruth was a Beastmaster, a telepath whose innate ability enabled her to implant thoughts in animals. To the people of Renaissance Europe, she was a monster to be burned a the stake and being a Jew simply denied her the protection of the Law. So she kept her secret from everyone until that day when her anger caused her to control the horse of the man who had seduced her after declaring his love then, when he had her body, laughing at her naivety. She had made his horse trample him to death then ran from Romania to Ottoman Turkey to avoid justice or revenge.

The Turks were afraid of her, but more afraid to kill her so had hired Janice to return her to her family and over that journey, they had become friends. Then when Ruth left her father’s home for the only person who had treated her well, they fell in love, Janice seeing Ruth as a daughter, Ruth seeing Janice as a mother, both keeping those feelings a secret from each other. Ruth had even secretly hired Titian in Italy to paint a miniature of Janice which she kept with her as a memory of her ‘mother’.

Janice had discovered this in Russia when we four had gone to the Amazon lands as a stopover on our trip to Japan to rescue Yu, Janice’s lover.. Dammit! Why can’t I deal with that. I’m not married to Jason anymore so why can’t I accept that he has other people in his life? I have David but still sleep with Jason. And I’m angry with Janice’s relations to that Chinese?

Now Ruth has been abandoned by her family and in Renaissance Romania, that is equal to a death sentence. She must be terrified!

I woke David up, “Honey, I have to go again. Fi and I are going to Romania to see a friend of ours. We’ll be back in a few days.”

“Is ‘he’ going?” he asked, feelings of insecurity welling up. I really cannot blame him, it’s not east for the current boyfriend to fear his lover’s friendship with her former husband. After all, Jason and I had a history and more in common than David and I could ever.

I laughed, kissed him and said, “Not this time. This is girl stuff. Just me and Fi. And before you ask, no fighting either. Just her and me to visit an old friend.”

“Then take me with you.” He insisted.

I hadn’t thought of this and tried to explain that it was dangerous but.. well Fi and I were the same when we went to Turkey with Jason and we lived so… “Why not. The worst case is we get attacked by bandits and if so, let me and Fi do all the fighting.” Dave had tried to study Karate but had as quickly dropped out because he simply wasn’t the violent type of man. But then, neither were Fi and I before Turkey taught us to kill.

I began to dress as I called my best friend in the world. Sports bra, heavy pants and shirt. Boots, saber and bow and all the rest of the gear we needed from medical to foods. David watched me pack a footlocker’s worth of gear into a small backsack, totally unable to understand the spatial compression effect of magick. “Fi, get ready, find a babysitter. Ruth needs us. No, NOT Jason or Janice, just you and me.. and David. Yes David! It’s not dangerous so he should see what I do for a living. No hon, I don’t expect any trouble. Ruth has been disowned and divorced and is alone in Bucharest… Yes they ARE bastards but look at it from their point of view. She’s a telepath and possesses demonic powers over animals. She’s a Jew who has used that power to kill Christians. Can you deny their beliefs. The wonder is that they tolerated her for so long. So we need to go to Romania, see her and figure out what to do to give her a good life. Thanks. Love, I’ll see you in an hour or so.. ok, two hours. Bye.”

Then turning to David, “You need different clothes. I have some medieval recreationist friends who may have something you can wear.” Then placing my arms around him and looking up, he was so much taller than Jason, and sexier. “Honey, despite what I said, time travel is ALWAYS dangerous. I can inoculate you against the diseases but if we meet with a band of Janisaries or such, that part of Europe is at war and there are bandits and vampires.. yes vampires! Not the movie kind but undead creatures that drain a person of their blood and eat their flesh.”

“I don’t believe that,” he began.

“You don’t believe in time travel either or the Hollow Earth or aliens or zombies or magick or anything that I face all the time. So suspend disbelief and accept that the universe is not only stranger than you believe, it’s stranger than you CAN believe.”

***

Reaching Fi’s house took longer than expected but it gave her time to dress and put her face on. Unlike me who could go forever with only a lipstick and maybe some mascara, Fi enjoyed cosmetics and would spend an hour a day doing her face. She didn’t need to, she was that beautiful, but she enjoyed the look.

“Honey,” I nudged David with my elbow. “She’s up there! And I am here!” Fi had that effect on men. She was one of the most beautiful and amazingly built women in the world. The most famous skin-mags had spent years trying to offer more money than they could afford for her to pose nude for them. She got more proposals and propositions than any dozen women. I attract attention but next to her, I was a lamppost. And she knew it but never let her beauty turn her into a bitch. I had shared my husband with her in the Mid-East but I wouldn’t share my boyfriend.

“Sweety,” she asked, “Are you certain that this is a good idea?” she nodded to David.

“Remember how it was with us the first time? Besides, it shouldn’t be dangerous at all if we avoid trouble.”

She took a deep breath, her habit of leaving her shirt open to her bra enhancing the effect and distracting David again. “Well, let’s do this. I’ll get the meds.”

I began to raise his sleeve, “Honey, you are so lucky that we are doing this here. Fi and I got ours in the 15th century with a needle as large as a pencil and the bruises remained for weeks!”

Fi arrived with the med-kit and David flinched. Well, Fi did have a reputation for doing hard drugs and his first sight of her was her vomiting on the bathroom floor during an overdose.

“Don’t worry, sweety,” she laughed. “This is a serum from the future. It’ll prevent any disease you encounter, even cure Aids I think. Unless you want to catch Plague or Cholora in Romania where the local idea of medicine is to apply leeches and force a mercury-sulphur mix down your throat.”

He held his arm and she gave him the shot. All those years doing every drug imaginable made her very good with a needle.

From there, it was a matter of driving to the Stargate location, the same one that sent us to Africa by accident, and tuning up the time-machine. “Are you certain of the trigger?” Fi asked.

I looked back, almost hurt. During the Vietnam War, Jason and I had planned to go to Japan but Fi’s jumping through at the last moment unexpectedly added mass and sent us to 15th century Turkey. Another time the three of us were supposed to go to Chicago in the future but Jason’s purchase of a counterfeit horseshoe sent us to Africa instead. She just liked to double-check these things now.

“I cleared it myself. Ruth sent this and she knows about stargate triggers so they should take us to near her old home. Then we travel to Bucharest. Fix the horses while I make arrangements.” Fi could be testy at times.

I had David help me blindfold the horses. He could barely ride while Fi and I had spent summers at her grandparents farm in Illinois learning to ride and ride well. Horses hated the stargates and would refuse to enter unless they were blindfolded and even then, they fought it.

But the Schrödinger Wormhole opened and we dragged the horses through and on the other side, we waited for David to stop vomiting. “Don’t worry honey, it gets easier with every transit.” Both Fi and I were looking around for danger, bows ready and sabers loose. “Here, drink this,” I handed a bota to David. “It’s just water but the stargates rob the body of salt and potassium so eat these bananas and force this salt package down.”

When David could ride, we mounted and headed south, “Bucharest should be a couple days on this road. All we need to really worry about are whatever army is fighting around here today. And we’ll hide from them.”

After a very short time, Fi laughed, “Dave, don’t fight the horse, ride it! If you ride Di like that she’ll have bruises forever! Watch!” and Fi let go of her reins and lifting her arms over her head, doing impressive things to her bosom, guided her horse with her knees in a series of figure-8s and other patterns. I leaned and whispered, “Don’t try that, Fi has been riding since she could walk and doing competitions since she was six. But she IS right, ride the horse, don’t fight it. And while we are on the subject, when you ride me, it’s not a fight but a dance!” He turned red.

After a number of hours, we stopped for lunch, hard bread (masticate, don’t chew it), hard cheese and some jerky. We sat David down and massaged his legs and rump to prevent sores and had him walk around a bit. Then we remounted and continued on.

“Honey, a few things to remember. First of all, this is NOT America. There are no embassies here and if you get into trouble, you an expect a long stint in a dirty cell with no windows and lots of rats, a corner for a toilet and food that you don’t want to see.. when you get it. So the police are corrupt, the army is dangerous and no one cares about civil rights. So listen to us and we’ll do fine.

“Next, their idea of food is to eat whatever they can find, and rotten meat is still eaten, it’s just overcooked.

“Disease is normal and women die from childbirth after having a dozen kids because half of them die before they can walk.

“The Ottoman Empire is moving north, Vlad Dracula is dead and so nothing is stopping the Turks. So if we are caught, all three of us can expect to be gang-raped by the soldiers. Try to relax and survive.”

“So why do you carry a bow and sword and not an M-16?”

“Because the Law of Conservation of Time says that an object cannot exist before it was invented. It’s not an absolute as your dental fillings are still there but if Fi had implants, they’d break down and decompose. A computer would stop working immediately and break down into muck, an M-16 would decompose within minutes and rust within hours.” I explained.

“Also,” Fi added, “Do you want to change history? You’d return to a time where Germany ruled the world or the Inquisition was still going on or Russia ruled Europe and you simply were never born. THEN,” she laughed, “try to get a job with what they see as fake ID.”

“We come here, live and work but we don’t interfere. Fi, we need to find a place for the night.”

“There should be a town up ahead. We can rent a room or a barn there.”

“How does she know?”

“Honey, this is Europe! Every square inch of farmable land is being farmed so there is a town every few miles surrounded by farms. And for a few pennies, any farmer will rent us his loft.”

“Sounds dangerous. You step on a butterfly and change history.” He murmured.

“It’s not that easy, honey. Time has an outline like a novel. We are someplace in the middle with the earlier chapters sent to the printer but the future chapters being written. We can rewrite the future but the past is more resilient. So unless we seek out something important like.. assassinate Galileo before he works out his cosmology, time will go on and the worst we find when we get back is that maybe you have a different ancestor. But if we avoid doing something direct, time will bounce back.”

“How do you deal with the ‘go back and kill your grandfather so you are never born so you can’t go back to kill him so he lives and you are born to go back’ paradox?”

“Simple, sweety,” Fi called back. “Either your grandmother was playing around and your real grandfather was the milkman or you get stuck in a time loop until someone notices and fixes it or you create an alternate universe where you were never born but exist… and then you are back trying to get a job with fake id and an identity that never existed. Personally, I stopped worrying about it a very long time ago. Don’t worry about it, try to avoid changing what you know history to be and enjoy the ride.”

“And if you DO try to change history,” I added, “The time police will catch you and fix it.”

“Time police?” he asked. “There really are time police?”

Fi laughed at this, “More like Time Vigilantes. People like us who know about the stargates and time travel and don’t want the system messed with. So when we learn that someone is causing trouble, we hunt them down and assassinate them.”

“Fi is exaggerating, but that’s how it works. We police ourselves to prevent some agency from policing us. Like the MPAA was created to prevent Congress from regulating the movie industry. So long as the movie people do a good job policing themselves, the government stays out and everyone is happy.”

By then we entered the farm area where the farms were along the road and everyone stopped what they were doing and stared. We were used to this, back home because men stared at us all the time, here because the locals could not be certain if we were bait sent ahead by bandits or insane for no woman in this time wore pants and carried weapons. Finally we approached a man who was working near the road, himself not certain if he should run or not and Fi called out “hello!”

We had learned some Romanian our last trip and wore our Translator Amulets that would help us become fluent so could communicate. David never understood the difference between science as in the stargates or the immunity serum and magick as in the amulets and bottomless backpacks. I shrugged, “Any sufficiently advance science will always resemble magic when seen by a less technical people. So these amulets are magickal but based on sound scientific principles… We just don’t know what principles yet.”

The farmer stared, then looked back then around and decided that we were insane but harmless. “What?”

“This is the road between Ploiesti and Bucharesti?”

“It is!”

“How far to Bucharesti?”

“Two days.”

“Is there a place nearby where we could find a clean bed and good meal?”

He thought, then thought then, “If you hurry, the village has an Inn. They have a loft that you can rent.”

“A loft? No rooms?”

“Rooms? Here? No one stops here save for food and drink.”

“And why is that?”

“Another half day’s ride ahead is [some town we didn’t understand] and a half day back is Plioesti. Then it is a day to Bucharesti. No need here. Travelers stop only to rest their horses and eat and drink the dust away.”

“I see,” she tossed him a coin. “Thank you for the information.” And we rode on at a trot. “We sleep here then at that town then to Bucharest. Unless you want to sleep outdoors?”

“I’d rather hurry. Who knows what Ruth is suffering.” I added.

“So we sleep here, rush on through the next village and sleep in the woods or a barn, reach Bucharest midday.”

“We’ve done worse.”

The Inn was little more than a shop with a couple of bad tables and benches in the dirt with a barrel of dirty for the horses. We stopped, stared at the customers, then dismounted and called for the Keep who grimaced until he saw the coin in Fi’s hand. “I an Fiona O’Neil and these are my companions, Diane Winters and her husband David We need a good meal, stable for our horses and a clean bed for the night.” David couldn’t understand Romanian so missed the ‘husband’ bit.

Instantly his mood changed. Most of those who could pay were nobles who refused to pay. The rest had no money so that silver drachma was a windfall to him and he wanted more. “This way, My Ladies and Lord,” he bit the coin as he turned away. Considering the state of his teeth, he probably broke a couple doing it.

We followed the boy to the rear where we removed the horses tack and brushed them down. Jason taught us to ‘First, care for your horse, Second, care for your feet, Third care for yourself. You cannot run from danger on a lame horse or blistered feet.’

Then, when we were satisfied that the tack was safe and the horses were fed and watered, I gave the boy a few pennies, “An equal amount in the morning if they are safe and well.” He’d probably stay up all night watching them for us now. David commented on child labor but I suggested, “Didn’t you deliver papers or mow lawns? This is the only money he will see until he is an adult. And if his brothers or father don’t learn about it, he will be rich, by these standards. Let him earn his way and have some fun.”

Dinner was bad and after a few months of American dining with a decent Health Department, we had to force ourselves to eat. David refused. “I can’t eat this crap! It’s rotten!”

“It’s well cooked and won’t kill you so if you can keep it down, you should. Otherwise we go hungry until Bucharest.” But I had trouble eating myself. Most of these people probably ate meat once a year and suffered dietary problems their entire life. So I forced myself and remembered that I’d had worse food.

It was dark by the time we finished that poor meal, the Keep apologizing as just that afternoon, a Noble and his party had eaten everything they had and not paid. Then he showed us to our bed, little more than a loft filled with hay, fortunately clean, over the horses. Fi and I piled the hay as best we could and lay our blankets over the piles for bedding while David stared… “Where do I sleep?” he asked.

“With me of course,” I laughed.

“But, Fiona is right there!”

“Afraid I’ll see something interesting,” she laughed too.

“Don’t worry honey, Maybe you can teach Fi something she hasn’t seen yet.” I kissed him. Fi and I had no secrets at all. You can’t in this life. We’ve shat and peed while the other stood watch, held each other’s hair from the chamber-pot when we drank too much and shared the same lover in the same bed. “Don’t worry, honey, we can just cuddle if you want.” I tried to soothe his feelings.

“How about a drink?” she suggested and we climbed down to sit on the bench, wooden jacks in our hands and bad ale going flat in our mouths as we watched the people going home, some stopping for a beer.

We bought rounds and when the men were getting tipsy enough to talk but still afraid of our knives, began to ask, “Do you remember a Jewish girl with dark hair and large nose coming south to Bucharesti? She was probably alone. No, I cannot tell you when.”

Finally, one said, “I remember her. She rode a horse like a man and wore man’s clothing but covered her hair like a Jew. She had dogs with her and, strange, she made certain that we knew she was here. Said something about… let me remember… some Noble Lady from Ireland looking for her or she looking for the Boyer?”

“Janice Obrien,” Fi prompted.

“That’s it!”

“How long ago?”

“Couple weeks.”

“Did she say where she would stay in Bucharesti?”

He shook his head no then finished his beer, begging for more. He got it! But only after I asked, “Did anyone seek to do her harm?”

He laughed. “We want no Jews here but those dogs! They scared us. They say that Jews… “

“No more please. That Jew was our dear friend and I’d really hate to break the teeth of anyone who said bad things of her. But she is safe as of a couple weeks ago so I’ll buy another round.”

We wandered off, beer in hand and talked. “Two weeks ago she came through here and left safe. We just need to figure out where she would go. Bucharest is a big city, even now.”

I woke up with David on top of me so I relaxed and let him in, enjoying the sensation, caressing his back until he finished. Then, the dear kept on until I climaxed and I fell asleep with him snoring in my ear, his weight keeping me warm.

In the morning, David and I saddled the horses while Fi paid our bill and gathered our meals. Handing us our share, she checked her own tack, never trust even your best friend with your cinch, and mounted and we ate on the road.

The farms faded then were gone then faded in and we entered that town of no name, Gorgota I think, where we stopped to rest the horses and have lunch, much better than that of the previous day. No one remembered Ruth so we moved on to sleep in the woods that night.

David woke me up, “Listen!” he whispered.

“Just wolves or maybe werewolves. Possibly vampires. Watch the horses. So long as they remain calm, we are safe.” The horses were nervous but not scared so we were fairly safe. “European wolves are man-eaters. But we asked around and no rumors of vampires and werewolves were heard so we’re safe from them.”

“You really believe in those things?” he asked.

“In Damascus we were hired to exterminate a pack of werewolves. There were a couple dozen and it was a hard way to earn our gold. We had to decapitate them before they would stop. Jason spent three days in Dracula’s castle fighting vampires. And in Iraq and Ethiopia, we had to hunt down and kill a bunch of zombies. Not to mention being trapped in Jordan by a bunch of undead when Fi raised the dead”

“It was an accident,” she snapped. Obviously awake. “I didn’t know that was what that magic lamp did. I was hoping for a genie.”

David removed his hand from my breast when she spoke. I put it back, “You started this, now finish.” I whispered.

“Fiona…”

“Fiona has seen me do this often enough and her vicinity didn’t stop you last night.” But he stopped so I had to wait until she was asleep again. That is Fi’s one really bad habit. She snores. Not loud but that cute Irish pug nose really needed some surgery.

***

In the morning, we made coffee and forced ourselves to eat breakfast then headed out and this time there were more farms, some burned out, until we reached Bucharest. We had to bribe the guard at the city gate to let us in then we entered the city, stinking in the afternoon heat.

“Are all medieval cities like this?” David asked as we rode around a dead horse and tried to avoid the horse patties and garbage that littered the streets.

“Mostly,” Fi replied. “It gets worse during a siege, then that horse back there will be worth its weight in gold on the black market no matter how long it has been dead. How do we find Ruth?”

“Janice didn’t talk much about Bucharest. Something embarrassing to do with Elizabeth Bathory I think. But, Ruth is a Jew so.. we ask at every Synagogue we can find! There shouldn’t be many.”

We asked at every one, made an offering and left a message that we would be staying at a certain Inn, suggested to us by the rabbi of the first Temple. Then we repeated that at every Synagogue we found until near dark we found one that knew of Ruth. They refused to tell us where to find her, fearing that we had ulterior motives, but promised to tell her about us so we retired to our Inn and waited.

It was late when she entered the Inn, accompanied by a man, obviously a Gentile and definitely handsome. Ruth, looking older but still young, flew into our arms and we hugged and kissed forever until I remembered, “Ruth, this is my lover, David.”

Ruth curtseyed to him, greeted him and thanks to my Talisman that I handed to him, was beginning to pick up a few words of Romanian. “And this, my dearest friends, is MY lover, Daniil!”

“Lover?” Fi asked. “Isn’t that a problem?”

“Well,” she explained. “If God has forsaken me for my gift, fornication won’t cause any more problems. And if He forgives my .. .abilities, then he will forgive this too. Besides,” She whispered to us, “He gives me such pleasure. But don’t tell My Lady. She still sees in me a child.”

“Well, speaking of this, tell us what happened.” And we sat and ate and drank, to the dislike of the other patrons who didn’t like sharing their inn with a Jew. But after Daniil knocked one man down for a whispered comment, and Fi paid the Keep thrice the asking amount for a room, we had no more trouble.

“My dear friends. My ability is seen by both faiths, Jew and Gentile as a curse or devilish and you three are the only ones who accepted me as a friend.” She whispered, “Daniil doesn’t like it either but I learned a few things from My Lady that makes him forget.. for a few hours,” she giggled at this.

“Finally, the Temple and the Churches could take it no longer. I tried to hide my power but they found out and forced my family to disown me. I bear them no grudge. They must live there and God did declare such abilities as evil.

“So I could bear it no longer and to save my father,” we noticed that she didn’t mention her former husband, “I allowed him to disown me and I came here. I used what wealth I had left to leave that letter knowing that eventually it would find you and … Well,” now she was crying. “Daniil is forbidden to marry me and must leave soon or face the wrath of the Boyer. He suffers already for his love for me and I would save him more.

“But I don’t know what to do? Where will I go? How will I live?” She was sobbing and Daniil held her until she stopped. “I was hoping that you two could give me some advice.”

We talked all night, coming up with one stupid idea after another until David suggested, slurred more, “Why not move in with this Janice person. You treat her like a mother and she seems to love you so why not?”

“Can I?” Ruth asked with the first hope we had heard all night.

“Shit!” Fi snapped. “Ruth, this is more complicated than you understand.”

Broken, she cried, “I understand. Here, traveling, she can do what she cannot at home. Her King, her servants would not allow Jew to live there.”

I took her shook her, “NO! Ruth! It’s not like that. She doesn’t care a fuck what anyone thinks. It’s complicated… her curse! She’s afraid that you’ll hate her.”

“I… but you know about it and still love her. How can I do less for my mother.. the woman who became my mother.”

“Fi, help me out here…”

Fi handed Daniil a bag of coins and said, “Daniil, this is woman’s talk, take David out drinking and bring him back in the morning, alive and safe.” He looked at that wealth, Jason had ensured that we could afford to travel, and smiling, took David’s sleeve and said, “I know this place… “

“And NO whores!” I yelled at them both. “If I smell a woman or soap on either of you, I’ll….”

***

When they were gone, we took a bottle or three and went to our room. “Ruth, what I am about to tell you is a secret. Have you ever met Jason?”

“Her twin brother? No, she rarely talks of her life. I gather that it is so very sad. She always seemed happy around me.”

“She was, Ruth.” Fi explained. “With you, she was very happy. She never told you but she saw you as the children she could never have.”

“I thought she had children? She mentioned them occasionally.”

“Well, not exactly, and the reason is related to her curse and is very embarrassing to her. So embarrassing that she told us only because she had to.”

“I know she was cursed but I thought the curse was to never see her family again.”

“Not exactly, more like… to be afraid to see her family again.”

“I don’t understand?” she asked.

“Ruth!” I stepped in. “Janice is Jason! And my ex-husband! Jason was cursed to be Janice for three years and was changed into a woman. The problem is that sometimes, he still changes into her. Sometimes it’s deliberate, sometimes by accident. But Janice IS Jason and that makes him or her afraid to tell you. She is terrified that you’ll hate her for that.”

Ruth drank more beer, too much, then a glass of wine without a stop and sighed. “Jason or Janice, I still love her as my mother. If you two can still love her knowing this, than why can’t I?”

Fi took her and hugged her, “Oh Sweety, I am so happy to hear that. He was so terrified that you’d abandon him because of that anti-homosexual thing you Jews follow. So he kept Jason and Janice apart and very few people know, not even his daughters know. So, all we need to do is to convince Jason to stop being such a shit and believe that you can still love him as you love her.”

“It won’t be easy, but… She loved me I believe. And if she can love me despite my ability to control animals ands my being a Jew, then I can love her too even if she is sometimes a man.”

“Good,” I said, relieved. “Jason needs people he can trust. We just have to figure out how to get you two together. He does have other children you know. Cassie and Donna, both are older than you are so you’ll have sisters. Just don’t tell them. Donna can maybe handle it but not Cass.”

“and Alexii,” Fi offered, then, “oops”

“OOPS! What does that mean?” I demanded. “Did he marry someone else I don’t know about and have even more kids? What other secrets does he keep!”

“Not quite. Di, try to stay calm but… Janice got pregnant!”

I was stunned, no I can’t describe what I felt. Accepting that my ex-husband that I still loved was a sometime transsexual was bad enough. To find that he had a baby when he refused to get me pregnant was…. I barely found the chair as I whispered, ‘how?’

“In Russia, when we were going to rescue Yu and those Japanese Demons almost killed Ruth. Janice saw her locket, the one with her mother’s portrait only the portrait was of Janice. She tried to send Ruth back because for the first time she realized that just as Janice saw in Ruth a daughter, Ruth saw in Janice a mother and she said that she couldn’t bear to loose another child. We all thought she meant Jason’s babies in Ireland, the ones the Police killed. Or maybe Zvedi’s daughter. But I saw something there. So when it was all over, I gave Jason some time and dropped by for a visit.

“I insisted on talking to Janice and got her drunk and the story came out.

“She had returned you, Ruth, to your father and went to Poland on the way to get her curse reversed. She simply got tired of traveling and wanted a home of her own again so… she married this polish Duke.”

“She MARRIED! She Married a MAN!” I screamed.

“It wasn’t like that sweety. It was for convenience. You know she believes in arraigned marriages. She thought that she could do it. But she sobered up and tried to leave and.. somehow got pregnant. Don’t look at me like that because you insist that Ruth accept Jason and Janice regardless of his or her gender but YOU can’t! This whole Jason-Janice thing creeps you out even when you insist that Ruth ignore the change.”

“I.. I’m sorry but… I still love the man and .. it’s like learning that you husband is a gay crossdressser and has another entire secret life that no one would understand.” I couldn’t really explain…

“I know sweety, It wasn’t deliberate and probably a part of the curse, to love and loose love. But she tried to leave and her husband kept her a prisoner. He really wanted that heir.

“Janice almost died from the pregnancy, you know men aren’t designed for childbirth, even men who are changed into a woman. So the baby was born, Janice escaped from the father and ran all over Europe and… The baby died.”

died! When my husband died in Vietnam, I miscarried and the depression almost killed me. “I am so sorry Fi.” I cried and they held me. Somehow I felt that I had lost my own child again.

Eventually I was able to stop, “Why didn’t he tell me? Why tell you?”

“Because he doesn’t love me. He isn’t afraid of what I’ll think of him. He loves you two and the thought that you’d abandon him terrifies him … and her!”

“I could never…”

“But, sweety, you can’t sleep with Janice. You can with Jason but not with Janice. You can barely stand to be around Janice.”

“I can’t explain it, Fi. I just can’t. I tried. I really tried.”

“Di, sweety, I love you like a sister but sometimes, you are as asinine as Jason is. I don’t love him so I can sleep with her. You DO love him so you can’t sleep with her. Of us, Ruth is the most stable because she can love Jason AND Janice.. or so she says.” I was praying for that but held little hope. I had thought I could handle it but couldn’t and I came from the Enlightened 20th century.

“To have and loose your baby. To think that you’ll never have children, then to have one and to lose it… I am so sorry.” I lived through my miscarriage. I lived through Fi loosing her children over her divorce then years, decades later, finding them again. Now I had to live through my ex-husband loosing a baby he was afraid to tell me about.

“What other secrets does he have?” I asked.

“As many as you do sweety.”

“I don’t have any secrets. He knows about David. What else?”

“Yo’s brother.” She said quietly. We kept that affair from him in Africa. It wasn’t really cheating… “We all have secrets. I keep his and I keep yours. Ruth, we can take you to Jason but, you cannot ever tell anyone about Jason being Janice.”

“But what will he do when I arrive? Will he…”

“Sweety, Janice loves you and so Jason loves you. He’ll just express it differently. Jason is a difficult person to love… at first. He is so damned repressed he shows love, he doesn’t really speak it. So be aware that he isn’t as physically affectionate as she is. That’s why he likes being Janice, he has no repressions. His emotions are so close to the surface, he really doesn’t have to be super-guy!”

“Super-Guy?” Ruth asked.

“Jason feels that the world rests on his shoulders. He protects the Earth from Alien invasion. He protects Pellucidar from the Outer World. He protects the past from the future. And when we are out, even though he trusts us and respects us, he still works so hard making our lives comfortable. Janice can relax and let us do some of the work so it’s like a vacation to him.”

“Besides,” I added. “Once you arrive, he’ll click into that teacher-mode and you’ll have to pretend to listen.”

***

I approached Jason who was feeding the fish in his pond. He called them Koi but admitted that they were simply feeder goldfish that had grown large. “Honey,” I called.

“Hey there,” He hugged me, embarrassed because he knew I was with David and feared being thought of as ‘the other man’.

“You know that we love you?”

Suspicious, “What did you do?”

“Nothing bad. But you need to remember that everything we do, we do out of love, even if you don’t realize it yet.”

“What did you do?”

“We all love you,” I turned him around to face Ruth and Fi, the former saying, “Hello mother. Can I come home to live with you?” I wrote that speech for her.

Jason tried to back away and tried to say “I’ll get Janice…” but she said, “I know the truth and it doesn’t make any difference. You will always be the Lady who loves me.” She held her hands to him.

I shoved him forward and they embraced. The man who feared to love and the girl who could love unconditionally. We watched them a moment then I said, “Lets go tell the girls that they have a new sister.”

END



To contact me or to request topics to be covered, send to RikJohnson@juno.com
by: Rick Johnson
PO Box 40451
Tucson, Az.
85717


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